The coronavirus outbreak is proving to be the Trojan horse that justifies increased digital surveillance via our smartphones.
All over the world, starting with China – the suspected origin of the COVID-19 outbreak – governments are increasing surveillance of citizens using their smartphones. The trend is taking off like wildfire; in China citizens now require a smartphone application’s permission to travel around the country and internationally.
The application is AliPay by Ant Financial, the finance affiliate controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Jack Ma, and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. Citizens now require a green health code to travel, Yahoo News reported.
China isn’t the only country looking towards smartphones to monitor their citizens; Israel and Poland have also implemented their own spying to monitor those suspected or confirmed to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Israel has gone the more extreme route, and has now given itself authority to surveil any citizen without a court warrant. Poland on the other hand is requiring those diagnosed with COVID-19 ordered to self-isolate to send authorities a selfie using an app. Which, if Poles don’t respond back in 20 minutes with a smiling face, they risk a visit from police, Dailymail reported.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S. as reported by the Washington Post, smartphones are being used by a variety of companies to “anonymously” collect user data and track if social distancing orders are being adhered to. Beyond that, the mobile phone industry is discussing how to monitor the spread of COVID-19. If that’s not enough, as this author reported for The Mind Unleashed, the government wants to work with big social tech giants like Google, Facebook, and others, to track the spread of COVID-19.
A new live index shows the increase of the police state by Top10VPN, a Digital Rights group. Top10VPN lists a total of 15 countries which have already started measures to track the phones of coronavirus patients, ranging from anonymized aggregated data to monitor the movement of people more generally, to the tracking of individual suspected patients and their contacts, known as “contact tracing.”
That’s not the only live index, a company called Unacast that collects and analyzes phone GPS location data also launched one. Except this is a “Social Distancing Scoreboard” that grades, county by county, monitoring who is following social distancing rules.
As Activist Post previously wrote while discussing the increase of a police surveillance state, these measures being put into place now will likely remain long after the pandemic has stopped and the virus has run its course. That’s the everlasting effect that COVID-19 will have on our society. The coronavirus is now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and it may very well be a legitimate health concern for all of us around the world. But it’s the government’s response that should worry us all more in the long run.
At the time of this report the COVID-19 virus has infected 640,589, killed 29,848, while 137,270 have recoveredaccording to the Johns Hopkins map.
The body of Thomas Schäfer – finance minister of the German state of Hesse, was found lying across high-speed train tracks in the town of Hochheim, located between Frankfurt and Mainz, according to DW, citing local police.
Schäfer’s remains were initially unable to be identified due to the extent of the injuries after witnesses reported the body.
According to media in the state of Hesse, the 54-year-old regularly appeared in public in recent days, for example, to inform the public about financial assistance during the coronavirus crisis. Schäfer had been finance minister of Hesse for almost 10 years
The state premier of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, said in a statement Saturday that the state’s leadership has received the news with “sadness and disbelief.” –DW
“We are all shocked and can hardly believe,” he died “so suddenly and unexpectedly” said Bouffier, adding “Our sincere condolences go to his closest relatives.”
Schäfer isn’t the only high-profile German to meet his end on train tracks.
In 2009, 74-year-old billionaire Adolf Merckle committed suicide after pushing his business empire to the edge of ruin with a speculative bet on Volkswagen stock that went wrong. He was found dead on railroad tracks near his villa in the southern German hamlet of Blaubeuren.
Merckle lost hundreds of millions of euros after he was “caught in a brief but ferocious speculative riptide linked to a campaign by Porsche, the sports car manufacturer, to seize control of Volkswagen,” reported the New York Times at the time. As a result, he was facing a massive liquidation of his empire to cover the bad bet.
Global Pandemic Preparedness – Which Country Is The Most (And Least) Ready For COVID-19?
The world has experienced many pandemics throughout its history, but not every era has had the benefit of modern medicine and hindsight.
However, as Visual Capitalist’s Nichaolas LePan notes, even with the readily available medical expertise and equipment that exists today, it is still unevenly distributed throughout the globe. Combine this with a highly interconnected global economy, and large populations are still at risk from infection.
Today’s chart pulls data from the 2019 Global Health Security Index, which ranks 195 countries on health security. It reveals that while there were top performers, healthcare systems around the world on average are fundamentally weak – and not prepared for new disease outbreaks.
Pathways for Commerce and Disease
Modern transportation and trade have linked the farthest stretches of the world to fuel a global economy. Physical distance plays less a limiting role and more an enabling one to form a flat world as Thomas Friedman put it, creating opportunities for commerce anywhere in the world.
A person can sell dishware from his home in Cusco, Peru, online to a customer in Muncie, Indiana, with products manufactured in China, from materials sourced in Africa.
While these connections sound sterile, there are people interacting with one another to procure, manufacture, package, and distribute the goods. The connections are not just through products, but also people and animals across many borders.
Now, add up the interactions within the global food supply chain with plants and livestock and tourism industries and place them under the pressures of climate change, urbanization, international mass displacement, and migration—and the volume and variety of opportunities for disease transmission and mutation becomes infinite.
The same pathways of global commerce become the transmission vectors for disease. A cough in Dubai can become a fever in London with one flight and one day.
You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure
Despite this, we still live with national healthcare systems that look inward towards national populations, with less of a focus on integrating what is happening with the outside world.
The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive effort to assess and benchmark health security and related capabilities by nation, and it tracks six key factors to come up with an overall score for each of the 195 countries in the ranking:
Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
Detection and Reporting
Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
Capability of rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of an epidemic
Sufficient and robust and health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
Compliance with Global Norms
Compliance with international norms by improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps
Risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats
Note: The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU), and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
Country Overall Rankings
Overall, the rankings uncover a distressing insight. Global preparedness for both epidemics and pandemics is weak, with the average score in the index sitting at 40.2 out of 100.
The countries with the highest scores have effective governance and politics systems in place, while those with the lowest scores fall down for their inadequate healthcare systems—even among high-income countries.
Here are the 10 highest-ranking countries in the index:
Interestingly, 81% of countries score in the bottom tier for indicators related to biosecurity—and worse, 85% of countries show no evidence of having completed a biological threat-focused simulation exercise in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past year.
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases vs. Global Health Security Score
Many healthcare systems have had their security tested with the outbreak of COVID-19.
Although it is still extremely early, there appears to be a relationship between a nation’s health security and its ability to cope with pandemics.
Takeaways: A World Unprepared
While there may be top performers relative to other countries, the overall picture paints a grim picture that foreshadowed the current crisis we are living through.
“It is likely that the world will continue to face outbreaks that most countries are ill positioned to combat. In addition to climate change and urbanization, international mass displacement and migration—now happening in nearly every corner of the world—create ideal conditions for the emergence and spread of pathogens.”
– The Global Health Security Index, 2019
The report outlined eight critical insights about global health security in 2019 that reveal some of the problems countries are now facing.
National health security is fundamentally weak globally. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.
Countries are not prepared for a globally catastrophic biological event.
There is little evidence that most countries have tested important health security capacities or shown that they would be functional in a crisis.
Most countries have not allocated funding from national budgets to fill identified preparedness gaps.
More than half of countries face major political and security risks that could undermine national capability to combat biological threats.
Most countries lack basic health systems capacities critical for epidemic and pandemic response.
Coordination and training are inadequate among veterinary, wildlife, and public health professionals and policymakers.
Improving country compliance with international health and security norms is essential.
A Stark Reality
The intention of the Global Health Security Index is to encourage improvements in the planning and response to one of the world’s most omnipresent risks–infectious disease outbreaks. When this report was released in 2019, it revealed that even the highest ranking nations still had gaps to fill in preparing for a pandemic.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The COVID-19 outbreak has served as a wake-up call to health organizations and governments around the world. Once all of the curves have been flattened, the next version of this report will undoubtedly be viewed with renewed interest.
Western society has long been gripped by a deep seeded belief in money. Trillions of dollars of bank notes tied to ever-growing mountains of un-payable national debts has taken on a life of its own over the years. As the post-1971 years rolled by, society increasingly lost a sense that this human invention called “money” was created to serve humanity rather than rule it, and with that lost sense, money became an idol of worship.
Decades of this modern religion have resulted in an incredibly tragic situation: a disproportionate wealth distribution in the hands of the 0.1%, an over-bloated services/consumer driven economy, increased rates of poverty and despair internationally as well as a dismal loss of vital skills, and productive capacity once enjoyed by advanced industrial nations just four decades ago. Vital infrastructure built up during the 1930s-1960s has been permitted to decay through simple neglect while un-payable debts have reached record highs.
Then like a thief in the night, the illusion was ripped away.
The Confused Response to the Crisis
This ripping away took the form of an international pandemic which has resulted in western nations’ economies grinding to a halt with a new $2 Trillion government emergency spending bill unveiled on March 24. The Washington Post reports that this bill will authorize “hundreds of billions of dollars sent to Americans in the form of checks as a way to flood the country with money in an effort to blunt the dramatic pullback of spending that has resulted from the coronavirus outbreak.”
Governments across the Trans-Atlantic have also announced national interventions into banks and private industry in order to force production quotas of vital equipment like ventilators, masks and other medical necessities to meet the increased demand. Banks in Spain have been nationalized (albeit only “temporarily”) to force finance to act in accordance with the needs of society. In America, the Defense Authorization Act and broader War Powers Act passed by President Trump gives the executive broad powers to take over vital industries if needed in order to mobilize the nation to respond to the crisis.
This renewal of national sovereign powers breaks all of the monetary “laws of the neoliberal order” and with that defiance of globalization, a genuine positive potential for a paradigm shift is visible…
…but something vital is still missing.
This “missing something” is clearly demonstrated by the continued obsession with money as new bailouts of the collapsing speculative banks have now risen to a $1 trillion/day overnight repo loan to collapsing banks which is added to the $1 Trillion 14 week loans offered every week that will dramatically increase the $9 trillion already emitted since helicopter money began in earnest in September 2019. With the mass panic and economic shutdown instigated by COVID-19, markets have lost over 30% of their value and fears of a new great depression have spread far and wide. Rather than impose serious bank regulation like Glass-Steagall to break up the commercial from speculative banks as was done in 1933, the American government has merely unleashed unlimited money printing. This bipolar response is akin to trying to stop a raging fire with a combination of water and gasoline.
We thus find that the greatest crisis facing humanity is not caused by the market crisis, or even the coronavirus per se, but rather society’s profound inability to understand the source of real from fictitious value.
What is REAL Value? Lincoln and FDR Revisited
“The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government’s greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power.”
These words were uttered by none other than America’s 16th president Abraham Lincoln as he fought to take federal control of credit vis a vis the “greenbacks” that not only allowed him to win the war of secession but also construct the greatest infrastructure and industrialization programs of history driven by the trans continental railway. The dramatic success of Lincoln’s “American System” not only saved the union, but spread successfully across the world from Japan’s Meiji restoration, Russia’s trans Siberian rail development, Bismarck’s Zollverein in Germany and Sadi Carnot’s France. This powerful spread of what German economist Friedrich List called “the American System of Political Economy” nearly annihilated the money-worshipping system of Adam Smith’s Free Trade doctrine from the earth and only failed in this task via a plenitude of London-directed assassinations, and a couple of imperially-orchestrated wars and revolutions along the way.
“I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.”
As I have outlined in my recent paper How to Crush a Bankers’ Dictatorship, FDR took control of credit in a similar manner as Lincoln by forcing the Federal Reserve to obey a national mandate for the first time since the private bank was set up in 1913. He did so by imposing his ally Mariner Eccles into the position of Chairman who understood that money had to create infrastructure and industrial growth in order to acquire any claim to having actual “value”. This was a stark break from the “hands off/laissez-faire” policy of President Hoover and his JP Morgan-run cabinet. FDR also emitted Lincoln-styled productive credit through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to fuel the New Deal. The RFC issued over $33 billion in low-interest loans by the end of the war (more than all private banks combined).
Describing his moral philosophy of political economy, FDR stated:
“We seek not merely to make government a mechanical implement, but to give it the vibrant personal character that is the very embodiment of human charity. We are poor indeed if this nation cannot afford to lift from every recess of American life the dread fear of the unemployed that they are not needed in the world. We cannot afford to accumulate a deficit in the books of human fortitude.”
What is missing today
Today’s America is confronting an existential crisis similar to that which both Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt battled in their time. Just as the proto-deep state of 1865 ran Lincoln’s assassination from Montreal Canada, and took over the White House minutes after FDR’s untimely death in 1945, today’s deep state has attempted in vain to overthrow President Trump while successfully undermining the political viability of other “outsiders” like Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.
The difference is that today’s crisis combines elements of all previous crises of 1861-1865, 1929-1933 and 1938-1945: the very real new threat of chaos and civil war within, NATO-led wars with China and Russia without and economic collapse across the entire trans-Atlantic bubble economy. The other difference is located in the current presidency’s inability to FOCUS with a clear mind on principled solutions to this multi-faceted crisis while instead finding itself trapped within contradictory impulses.
While FDR and Lincoln understood that VALUE was located the physically productive forces of labor which sustained and improved the lives of people and gave the constitution’s pre-amble a real living character, today’s American leadership has displayed a far greater ignorance to this basic fact of life. The vital difference between “need” vs “want” which has been obscured by decades of free market ideology has resulted in a loss of moral judgment necessary to properly put out the fires threatening to unleashing civil war, chaos and fascist global government “solutions” across the Trans Atlantic today.
The new multipolar alliance led by Russia and China have demonstrated what modern day New Deal policies can do. The Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Strategic Eurasian Partnership, Polar Silk Road and bold space exploration projects all reflect the type of principles of win-win cooperation and long term planning that characterized both FDR and Lincoln earlier. The Health Silk Road announced earlier this week by President Xi Jinping provides a brilliant maneuver to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic under a non-Malthusian worldview. This Multipolar Alliance exists as a form of a life raft for anyone wishing to escape the fate of the Titanic and embark on a new epoch of growth and cooperation.
The question is: Do western powers have the ability to act according to a scientific (and moral) standard of value by aligning with this multipolar alliance or will they choose to remain in Orwell’s dystopic cage and succumb to a fate which Lincoln, FDR and other great leaders gave their lives to prevent?
More Evidence China Is Lying; Number Of Urns More Than Double Reported Coronavirus Deaths
China has been caught lying once again about coronavirus figures – with the latest evidence coming from ground-zero in Wuhan, where according to official CCP data just 50,006 people were infected with COVID-19, and 2,535 dying of the virus.
Yet, Chinese investigative outlet Caixin revealed that when mortuaries opened back up this week, photos revealed a far greater number of urns than reported deaths. In one, a truck loaded with 2,500 urns can be seen arriving to the Hankou Mortuary. According to the report, the driver said he had delivered the same amount the previous day.
In another photo, seven 500-urn stacks can be seen inside the mortuary, adding up to 3,500 deaths.
This adds up to more than double the amount of reported deaths in the region – for which grievingfamily members waited in line for as long as five hours to collect, according to Shanghaiist.
Urns are reportedly being distributed at a rate of 500 a day at the mortuary until the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, which falls on April 4 this year.
Wuhan has seven other mortuaries. If they are all sticking to the same schedule, this adds up to more than 40,000 urns being distributed in the city over the next 10 days.
When reporters at Bloomberg made calls to the funeral homes to check on the number of urns waiting to be collected, the mortuaries said that they either did not have that data or were not authorized to disclose it. –Shanghaiist
Given the constant, provable lies, does anyone believe that China has actually contained COVID-19?
And of course, as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer pointed out implicitly, don’t expect the mainstream media to question anything…
Reminder to all of the journalists that took China at face value when they claimed they had no more cases https://t.co/mlS0t9HvRo