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Thread: Coronavirus/COVID-19: Global Terror

  1. #221
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    Coronavirus Could Infect Privacy And Civil Liberties Forever



    Source: Forbes.com

    Coronavirus has infected more than just individuals and their bodies. It’s also infected society, which is adapting drastically in order to reduce the number of lives the COVID-19 pandemic claims. Not only are governments adopting new economic and public health measures to fight the coronavirus and its impact, but they're harnessing big data in ways that, while potentially saving lives, will also reduce our privacy and civil liberties.

    From a technological perspective, the coronavirus pandemic is one massive testbed for surveillance capitalism. More specifically, it's a testbed for new, much more large-scale forms of surveillance. Already, governments in Italy, Germany, Austria, China, South Korea and Taiwan have begun analysing smartphone data so as to determine to what extent populations are really locking themselves down at home. Meanwhile, governments in the UK and the US are very close to rolling out similar surveillance measures, all in the effort to ensure that policies of mass behaviour modification are successful.

    Given the severe threat the coronavirus poses, such measures are arguably justifiable. When a government advises people to stay at home, it wants to know whether such advice is being heeded. If it learns that too many people are still roaming around outside, it may be necessary to move from informal guidelines to legal stipulations. And so on.

    Essentially, big data on personal behaviour is an extremely effective way of determining the effects and consequences (or lack thereof) of policies. And because pandemics are likely to become more common in the future, the world's governments may contend that it's necessary to keep such surveillance procedures and infrastructure in place.

    Perhaps health is more important than privacy and civil liberties. Obviously, you'd have absolutely no civil liberties, freedoms, or powers if you were deceased. However, the surveillance measures now being imposed on national populations risk permanently altering how much privacy and freedom we have as individuals. And at this early stage in the life of the coronavirus, it's not clear or transparent that the health benefits they provide (as opposed to isolation and testing policies on their own) outweigh the price we'd have to pay in terms of civil liberties.

    "We could so easily end up in a situation where we empower local, state or federal government to take measures in response to this pandemic that fundamentally change the scope of American civil rights," said Albert Fox Cahn of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, speaking to The New York Times.

    In the UK, where the British government is reportedly planning to use anonymised mobile data to track movements, privacy groups are concerned about the possibility of such measures decreasing personal freedom and enabling authoritarianism.

    “The public needs to trust phone networks at this time, especially to seek health advice and social support. It can be very hard to anonymise location data and so the government should be radically transparent about any tracking if it is to maintain public trust," Big Brother Watch's Silkie Carlo told The Guardian, amid reports that the UK government was negotiating in secret with mobile operators.

    Such government activity may have set in motion a paradigm shift in how nations prioritise and conceptualise personal freedom. Because there are already prominent researchers and experts speaking in favour of the use of mobile data, at least when employed at an 'anonymised' level.

    "There’s always a tendency to think about the tracking of individuals but actually, in practice, that’s not what people are interested in doing,” said UCL’s James Cheshire, a geographic information professor also speaking to The Guardian. “They want to look at the general activity levels."

    But even the surveillance of general activity levels is harmful to privacy and civil liberties. Firstly, data on general activities and activity levels will still enhance the ability of governments to manipulate and control populations, and this may not always be desirable (at the very least, a government telling you how to act usually reduces your input into your own behaviour). Secondly, it may enable mission creep, providing one slippery step towards even more invasive forms of data gathering and surveillance.

    More generally, the coronavirus pandemic brings another trend that could potentially impact privacy and civil liberties long term. Namely, surveillance capitalist corporations such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have assumed a much greater 'public service' role in the wake of COVID-19's dissemination throughout the globe. And by increasingly acting like public services (that operate for private profit), they'll potentially increase not only their reach, but their respective abilities to extract and exploit personal data.

    For example, Facebook today announced two initiatives related to using its Messenger app in order to communicate public health information. The first involves the social media giant connecting "government health organizations and UN health agencies with [Facebook's] developer partners," who will help said agencies use Messenger to share COVID-19 info with the public. Likewise, the second initiative will see Facebook organise a hackathon aimed at developing solutions "to issues related to the coronavirus such as social distancing and access to accurate information." Once again, these solutions revolve around the use of Messenger.

    Of course, there's nothing wrong with offering genuine help to those confronting a serious public health crisis. The thing is, Facebook is also capitalising on the coronavirus pandemic by pushing to increase the use of its Messenger app. If it can get UN health agencies and other health bodies to use Messenger, it will–by extension–get more members of the public to use Messenger. In turn, this means more data to mine and more people to target with ads.

    More broadly, acting like a public service also means greater legitimacy, prominence and priority for what Facebook and other big tech companies do normally, when there isn't a life-threatening pandemic sweeping the globe. And increasingly, what such companies have been doing is harvesting more and more of our data in a way that ultimately erodes our personal autonomy and agency, all for the purposes of nudging us towards buying more products (or towards voting for this or that political candidate).

    Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Facebook as well as other Big Tech companies were at the centre of an important political debate. Congress had already been discussing how to regulate the FAANGs of this world for several years now, while certain Democratic presidential candidates have debating how they'd regulate or even break up the likes of Facebook. But now, Facebook and its surveillance capitalist rivals can increasingly point to the 'important' work they've been doing to protect the world's population.

    "Don't over-regulate us or break us up," they might say, "because only we have the scale to mitigate the dangers inherent to globalization and large-scale connectivity." In fact, Mark Zuckerberg has made this argument before: last year, he told French TV that Facebook's size helps it to monitor and police content better than any smaller rival.

    Back in February, Facebook sent the European Commission proposals for how it might be regulated. Unsurprisingly, these were denounced at the time for being regulations the social network already meets. Still, by cooperating and helping so readily with the fight against the coronavirus, Facebook and other big tech companies may be rewarded with a regulatory regime that's more favourable to them than it might have otherwise been.

    And in conjunction with the move towards mass data surveillance by the state, the rising prominence and power of the FAANGs could end up by squeezing individual privacy and autonomy even further. So if the coronavirus weren't already scary enough, its potential ramifications for privacy and civil liberties make it even scarier.
    “When a nation forgets her skill in war, when her religion becomes a mockery, when the whole nation becomes a nation of money-grabbers, then the wild tribes, the barbarians drive in.“ – Robert Howard

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    Kurz slams Germany for blocking medical supplies bound for Austria



    Austria’s conservative Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, has criticized Germany’s hampering of his country’s efforts to get needed medical equipment during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He says this is indicative of larger problems within the European Union as well that need to be addressed.

    Austria media has been reporting that the German border authorities prevented trucks carrying medical supplies bound for Austria from crossing the border. The reason the shipments were held was because Germany had banned the export of such supplies in cases where they were not part of “coordinated international action” in response to the outbreak. The border authorities were unsure if the supplies were included under this purview or not, given the lack of a definition, and the trucks were held back for two weeks until Kurz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had decided the issue through negotiations, according to a report by Remix News.

    “It should not happen that we have to fight alone for two weeks to ensure that trucks with protective masks we have already paid for and urgently need get stuck on the German border,” Kurz told the Kronen Zeitung. “And at the same time, we were criticized for our own checks at the border with Italy.”

    “Instead of showing mutual solidarity, we are harming each other,” Kurz added. He said that once the crisis has passed, international relations between EU member states will need to be reviewed.

    Austria isn’t the only country which has had this problem. Earlier this month, Germany stopped trucks from entering Switzerland that were carrying surgical masks destined for Swiss hospitals, as previously reported by Voice of Europe. Switzerland summoned the German ambassador to voice its displeasure with the move.

    Czechia also confiscated some of the Chinese humanitarian aid that was intended for Chinese living in Italy. The Czech government later claimed that it was the result of a misunderstanding and compensated the Italian state for the loss.

    Some voices in the Austrian and German media are asking how well the EU is really working, if its members can’t come together in a time of emergency such as now.

    EU internal relations have become especially thorny as a result of the pandemic, with sharp divisions between nations over the issue of how the organization should deal with the economic problems stemming from the continent’s shutdown, as previously reported by Voice of Europe.

    The post Kurz slams Germany for blocking medical supplies bound for Austria appeared first on Voice of Europe.

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    US now epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak; top infectious disease expert says pandemic could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans



    The United State’s foremost expert on infectious disease and member of President Trump’s coronavirus taskforce has said that pandemic could kill as many as 100,000 to 200,000 Americans and infect millions.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that his estimate is based on modeling of the current rates the COVID-19 virus is spreading in the country. The infectious disease expert’s comments on CNN’s State of the Union highlight just how far the country is from the peak of the outbreak.

    Exactly two months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern, the United States has now become the global epicenter of the pandemic, which the WHO failed to recognize until just a few weeks ago.

    As of this report, the United States has 143,055 confirmed COVID-19 cases and a death toll of 2,513, per data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University.

    “As it seems now, I would say between 100,000-200,000 dead and millions infected. But we do not need to make a calculation when it comes to such a moving target. What we do know is that we have a difficult situation in New York and New Orleans and more areas will be severely affected,” Fauci said during in an interview with CNN.

    Fauci said that preparing for 1 to 2 million Americans to die from the virus is “almost certainly off the chart,” adding: “Now, it’s not impossible but very, very unlikely.”

    During the interview, the American immunologist and former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases cautioned people not to place too much emphasis on predictions, saying that “it’s such a moving target that you could easily be wrong and mislead people.”

    “What we do know is that we’ve got a serious problem in New York, we’ve got a serious problem in New Orleans and we’re going to have serious problems in other areas.”

    Unlike China – a country who is governed by an authoritarian communist regime – Western governments like the US, UK, and those in European Union haven’t been able to respond as efficiently or as effectively to the virus’s outbreak.

    Reports have also suggested the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) knew about the virus’s outbreak long before it informed the rest of the world.

    The post US now epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak; top infectious disease expert says pandemic could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans appeared first on Voice of Europe.

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    Germany: Finance Minister commits suicide over coronavirus economic anxieties



    Thomas Schaefer, the German state of Hesse’s Minister of Finance, was found dead yesterday. His death has been ruled a suicide.

    His body was discovered near railroad tracks in Hochheim, near Frankfurt, on Saturday. Police ruled it a suicide based on eyewitness testimony as well as their own observations. Schaefer was 54.

    Hesse’s Governor, Volker Bouffier, said that Schaefer’s death was probably the result of pressure stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He stated that Schaefer was concerned about “whether it would be possible to succeed in fulfilling the population’s huge expectations, particularly of financial help,” according to an Associated Press report.

    Schaefer had been working “day and night” to support companies being impacted by the pandemic since the crisis began. He was “deeply worried” and finally succumbed to the pressure, Bouffier said, according to a report by The National.

    Schaeffer, who was a member of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union, had been Hesse’s Finance Minister for ten years. His purview included Frankfurt, which is Germany’s financial hub. Hesse is also home to Deutsche Bank, one of Germany’s major lenders.

    Last week, all of the European Union’s national leaders had a virtual conference in which they discussed the possibility of issuing “corona bonds” intended to share the enormous debts that will be incurred during the coronavirus crisis among all the member states. Germany and the Netherlands rejected the suggestion, as previously reported by Voice of Europe.

    The post Germany: Finance Minister commits suicide over coronavirus economic anxieties appeared first on Voice of Europe.

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    COVID-19: Viral Politics, Viral Economics, Viral Healthcare



    Everywhere there is a mixture of growing apprehension, divergent opinions, and outright confusion and fear. If the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center’s interactive map is accurate, there are currently 716,101 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, 33,854 deaths and 149,071 recovered, as I write this on Sunday March 29th, a mortality rate of 4.7%.

    I simply don’t believe it. The “true” number of infections, that includes asymptomatic carriers, will be much higher as testing rolls out. It is thought that as many as 50-75% of those infected with SARS-COV-2 are asymptomatic. Why do some people have no or mild symptoms and subsequently recover and others require ventilators as a matter of life and death? We need data, data, data.

    Bill Gates and The Gates Foundation have been warning about a global pandemic for at least four years. The world’s greatest threat according to Gates and what has been keeping him up at night, was a global pandemic. The Institute of Disease Modelling predicted that a severe flu pandemic could kill more than 33 million people, world-wide, in just 250 days. The virus is in Africa, particularly in coastal areas, unsurprisingly, that are involved in the BRI. They are unprepared and will require a Marshall Plan to cope. Sadly, resources are stretched thin and help won’t likely be forthcoming. The continent will be on its own.

    Conspiracy theories on the origins of COVID-19 are of course a very convenient and useful tool for the Chinese government, because they deflect attention from the fact the outbreak can easily be attributed to bad government. I find the idea that the virus originated in a Wuhan “wild food” or “wet” market to be compelling (see this documentary by 60 Minutes Australia, and this short piece by Vox), and this has direct consequences for perceptions of Chinese Communism. There are now over 300 papers on MedRXiv concerning the structure, nature, and origins of the virus. There is no evidence suggesting an artificial origin of any aspect of COVID-19. It is not a bio- weapon. Yet rumours and conspiracy theories persist… however, that’s not to suggest that it might not have escaped from the virology lab in Wuhan.

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    The Chinese are at it again. They reopened their "wet" meat markets.

    https://www.eutimes.net/2020/03/chin...soaked-floors/

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ling-bats.html

    Terrified dogs and cats crammed into rusty cages. Bats and scorpions offered for sale as traditional medicine. Rabbits and ducks slaughtered and skinned side by side on a stone floor covered with blood, filth, and animal remains.

    Those were the deeply troubling scenes yesterday as China celebrated its ‘victory’ over the coronavirus by reopening squalid meat markets of the type that started the pandemic three months ago, with no apparent attempt to raise hygiene standards to prevent a future outbreak.

    As the pandemic that began in Wuhan forced countries worldwide to go into lockdown, a Mail on Sunday correspondent yesterday watched as thousands of customers flocked to a sprawling indoor market in Guilin, south-west China.

    Here cages of different species were piled on top of each other. In another meat market in Dongguan, southern China, another correspondent photographed a medicine seller returning to business on Thursday with a billboard advertising bats – thought to be the cause of the initial Wuhan outbreak – along with scorpions and other creatures.

    The shocking scenes came as China finally lifted a weekslong nationwide lockdown and encouraged people to go back to normal daily life to boost the flagging economy. Official statistics indicated there were virtually no new infections.

    The market in Guilin was packed with shoppers yesterday, with fresh dog and cat meat on offer, a traditional ‘warming’ winter dish.

    ‘Everyone here believes the outbreak is over and there’s nothing to worry about any more. It’s just a foreign problem now as far as they are concerned,’ said one of the China-based correspondents who captured these images for The Mail on Sunday.
    The correspondent who visited Dongguan said: ‘The markets have gone back to operating in exactly the same way as they did before coronavirus.
    ‘The only difference is that security guards try to stop anyone taking pictures which would never have happened before.’
    The first coronavirus cases were traced to a market in Wuhan but the outbreak was kept silent by officials for weeks and whistleblowers were silenced, including 33-yearold Dr Li Wenliang, who later died of coronavirus.

    Now, after a dramatic fall in infection rates within China, the Beijing government is promoting conspiracy theories that the outbreak did not begin in China at all. A discredited story, shared widely on China’s Weibo social media platform, claims coronavirus was first detected in Italy in November.
    Meanwhile, Chinese officials have promoted groundless conspiracy theories that the US Army brought the virus to its shores. The only Chinese city still under lockdown yesterday was Wuhan, but yesterday even the restrictions there began to be lifted, with high-speed trains allowed to operate.





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    COVID-19 is a SEXIST Male Destroyer: Attacks Testicles and Reduces Testosterone

    Yup, definitely NOT a bioweapon, noooo not at all…. its muh conspiracy to believe such things! The virus just randomly evolved itself to kill mostly males so it can cripple the army of a potential enemy of China. Yup, definitely NOT a bioweapon! 100% natural, including that HIV strain it has. Come on folks, its natural, SARS coronavirus just had sex with AIDS and we’ve got ourselves a mutant child called COVID-19. 100% natural!!!!!!!!!

    Doctors in central Wuhan are planning to conduct a long-term study of the effects of COVID-19 on the male reproductive system after a small study of 81 men revealed that coronavirus patients had roughly half the normal ratio of testosterone after contracting the disease, according to SCMP.

    Though still preliminary and not peer reviewed, the study is the first clinical observation of the potential impact of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on the male reproductive system, especially among younger groups.

    In a paper published on the preprint research platform medRxiv.org, the researchers – from Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University and the Hubei Clinical Research Centre for Prenatal Diagnosis and Birth Health – said they analysed blood samples from 81 men aged 20 to 54 who tested positive for the coronavirus and were hospitalised in January.

    The median age of the participants was 38 and roughly 90 per cent of them had only mild symptoms. The samples were collected in the last days of their stay in hospital. -SCMP

    Previous studies have shown that coronavirus binds with the protein receptor cell, ACE2, a large number of which are found in the testicles.

    Researchers looked at the ratio of testosterone to luteinising hormone (T/LH) – finding that the average ratio for COVID-19 patients was 0.74, around half the normal level. A low T/LH ratio can signal hypogonadism – a malfunction of the testicles which could lead to lower production of the sex hormone.

    Testosterone is the main male sex hormone critical for the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics including testes, muscle, bone mass and body hair. Luteinising hormone is found in both men and women, and best known for its ability to trigger ovulation. -SCMP

    Those with hypogonadism can develop large breasts and erectile dysfunction – a condition which can be cured with testosterone treatment.

    “Since more than half of the people with Covid-19 were reproductive-aged, more attention should be paid to the effect of SARS-CoV-2 on the reproductive system,” the Wuhan researchers wrote – noting that their results were inconclusive and that other factors such as medication and immune system response could also trigger changes in hormones.

    As such, the researchers say they plan a long-term study which may include the collection and analysis of sperm samples as well as interviews with coronavirus patients.

    Professor of reproductive medicine at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, Li Yufeng, had predicted in a study that the testicles could become a ‘major target’ in a coronavirus infection.

    Other studies have also suggested that severe acute respiratory syndrome, or Sars, a distant relative of the new coronavirus, could also cause inflammation in the testicles.

    A researcher with the State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine at Nanjing Medical University, said the new observations were “highly valuable information” but a bigger sample would be needed to clarify the results. -SCMP

    “Many viruses can affect fertility, but not every virus can cause a pandemic. If the impact is long lasting, it can be a problem,” said the researcher – speaking on condition of anonymity.
    https://www.eutimes.net/2020/03/covi...-testosterone/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ćmeric View Post
    This site is constantly updated with numbers on covid-19 cases and deaths by country;https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

    Belgium currently has 10,836 cases out of a population of 10.5 million, 10% of which is 1.05 million. There are currently 431 deaths. So if the sampling from Belgian E.R.s is correct only about 1% of cases are symptomatic and detected with a much lower death rate overall.

    China must be lying about their number of cases and deaths.
    I think your figure is based on lab tests of which only a limited number is done. Chlodovechs figure stems from hospital admissions that have a scan done showing patterns that are inline with Corona. It should be noted that Corona isn't very different from a flu infection. It has also been argued that Corona isn't much more dangerous than influenza. It's just that it is a new strain hitting on populations that don't have much of resistance to it. But do an analysis on the death connected to Corona (That would embrace people dying from Corona as well as people WITH Corona possibly dying from other reasons). The hype being made over it, is by no means justified.

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    Sweden: Illegal migrants have higher priority for health care than Swedish elderly



    Under new guidelines drawn up to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, illegal migrants in Sweden could be given higher prioritization for health care than the elderly from the country’s native population.

    The National Board of Health and Welfare has issued guidelines to medical staff which specifically state that patients should be treated on the basis of their health — and thus chances of recovery — rather than according to whether they are Swedish citizens or their legal status, according to a report by Nyheter Idag.

    In practice, this means that the elderly, or those with pre-existing medical conditions, among Sweden’s native population could be given lower priority than illegal migrants as the outbreak wreaks its havoc.

    A spokesman for the Health Board claimed that these guidelines are necessary to halt the spread of the virus.

    Nyheter Idag has already reported that the government has plans in place to triage patients in case the outbreak overwhelms the health services. If this happens, these guidelines may indeed be put into practice — with potentially fatal consequences for some Swedes.

    And infection specialist Staffan Sylvan told Expressen in an article last month that Sweden’s medical system is completely unprepared for a major outbreak.

    Sweden’s immigrant community is already being disproportionately affected by the virus, with a high number of reported cases being found in the Somali community, as previously reported by Voice of Europe. Migrants have also been sneezing and coughing on people as a “prank” in efforts to scare them and potentially spread the virus further (see details here).

    Combined with the fact that Sweden, unlike the rest of Europe, has enacted hardly any restrictions on social interactions thus far, the country may be in for difficult times ahead.

    The post Sweden: Illegal migrants have higher priority for health care than Swedish elderly appeared first on Voice of Europe.

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