Tuesday, March 31, 2020

JUST SO YOU KNOW

With the Prime Minister issuing an Epidemic Notice under s5 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act we essentially have government by fiat.    It allows the government by Order-in-Council to override existing legislation ... sometimes referred to as the Henry V111 clause.  

Make no mistake about it ... the government has arrogated to itself unprecedented power.

That's why Simon Bridge's Emergency Response Committee is so important.    It's the only check on Executive power we now have with the media all pretty much compliant and singing the government's tune.

PRETTY CLEAR WHY OBAMA SAID DON"T DO IT JOE.



The Democratic Convention to nominate their choices for President and Vice President scheduled for mid July in Milwaukee Wisconsin may never happen.
Gathering upwards of fifty thousand delegates and another how many staffers in one place for a week seems unlikely in the extreme.

Meanwhile the system continues to deliver dear old Joe Biden, Obama's Veep for eight years and never once given any vestige of an endorsement by The Greatest Autocue reader to ever occupy the White House.
In fact anecdotal speculation suggests the 47th PoTUS actually actively tried to dissuade the ex Senator from Delaware who in some 36 years in the upper house did nothing of note and is now suffering serious declining mental abilities.
Due to the current pandemic crisis he is reduced to doing TV appearances via remote cameras.
Without the makeup and artificial aids  his performances are bordering on disaster. He is struggling to deliver material from prepared notes in hand.

At least by the time Ronald Reagan began to struggle with Alzheimer's later in his second term he had the support of a stable administration in situ.
The US voters are being asked currently to consider electing a man clearly in mental decline.

Now will the pandemic crisis give the Dems who have clung to Joe Biden through the state "primaries" to thwart the aspirations of Bernie Sanders, an easy out to rewrite the rule book and appoint the choice of "The Suits" to go against Donald Trump in November.
If that happens it will become very interesting indeed.

However it is becoming obvious as time passes what one of Obama's reservations was possibly based on.
It is pitiful to watch the poor bugger slide into the netherworld.  Way past bumbling now and the Media Party are struggling to hide the truth.

Seek Truth From Facts


** WARNING ** This article may cause health problems involving tiredness and upset stomachs. If you have been exposed to the China virus you may be susceptible. ** WARNING **

As most people know the Worldometer measurement of Chinese Coronavirus continues to show that the disease has been stopped in its tracks in China, the place where it got started. For a week now the figures have hardly ticked up at all: almost no new cases or deaths.


The problem is that nobody believes that!

Well, nobody aside from people beholden to China and the US MSM who continue to try and showcase China's "success" as a way of hammering Trump.

As it turns out, the people of China themselves also don't seem to believe their Communist government, judging by what happened the other day when that government announced that the Hubei province, of which the city of Wuhan is the centrepiece, was now out of lockdown and its people could travel freely.

Their neighbours in the Jiangxi province did not agree and decided to stop them at a bridge. This was the result.


The thing is that this did not just see Hubei civilians pitted against Jiangxi civilians. Things steadily escalated over more than eight hours to the point that Jiangxi police were attacking Hubei police.  Following that clash Hubei police and citizens charged the Jiangxi riot line, stealing equipment, pushing over a large police van and pulling Jiangxi Communist Party officials out of another van after the riot lines were over run.

Aside from domestic problems the Chinese Communist Party has seriously miscalculated on its foreign policy by stupidly trying to blame others for the outbreak of the disease, going as far as blaming it on the US Army. But it's not just the US that's reacting:
Boris Johnson has been warned by scientific advisers that China's officially declared statistics on the number of cases of coronavirus could be 'downplayed by a factor of 15 to 40 times'. And No 10 believes China is seeking to build its economic power during the pandemic with 'predatory offers of help' countries around the world.
...
'There is a disgusting disinformation campaign going on and it is unacceptable. They [the Chinese government] know they have got this badly wrong and rather than owning it they are spreading lies.'
And it is not just a matter of simple fury that will pass:
A major review of British foreign policy has been shelved due to the Covid-19 outbreak and will not report until the impact of the virus can be assessed. A Government source close to the review said: 'It is going to be back to the diplomatic drawing board after this. Rethink is an understatement.' 
Another source said: 'There has to be a reckoning when this is over.' Yet another added: 'The anger goes right to the top.'
Meantime, as Michael Auslin points out in this article from RealClaerPolitics, US-China relations are set to worsen further:
In response to his government’s manifest failures during the coronavirus crisis, Xi launched a global propaganda campaign, largely targeting America. As proof of Washington’s bad faith, Beijing objected to use of the terms “Wuhan flu” or “Chinese virus.” In turn, government spokesmen and scientists have blamed the U.S. for creating the coronavirus and releasing it into China, and Beijing has mobilized bots on social media to spread the lies.
Bots eh? I've being hearing a bit about that recently here at No Minister, even as the same accusations that China is hurling are miraculously reproduced by commentators with random names. Fun times. And it’s amazing how much assistance the Chinese are getting in this project from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other US media.

I've long supported the idea of Free Trade between nations: it was one of the great ideological fights of the 1970's and 1980's, with the likes of Thatcher, Reagan and Roger Douglas pitted against domestic opponents like Muldoon who supported the rigid post-WWII world of government import control.

Incredibly, similar things were also happening in Communist China. Starting in 1980 Deng Xiaoping unleashed 改革開放 - literally "reform and opening-up"; Free Enterprise within the nation, starting with agriculture where the leadership had great fears of another famine like the late 1950's and accepted that central command and control in that area had failed. The success of the reforms in terms of food production and increases in wealth for farmers, led similar reforms to be unleashed throughout the rest of China's business and industry.

I also believed that "opening up" China to Free Trade, with FTA's and entry into the WTO, would gradually soften the Communist government there. Nobody expected a democratic government, but it was a dmaned sight better than Cold War II and in some quarters there were hopes of democracy eventually breaking out in China, given what had happened to the USSR and its Eastern European satellites.

The regular, steady and predictable turnover of Chinese General Secretaries after Deng stepped down offered a hopeful view of the future. It wasn't exactly democracy but it also seemed to break the classic Communist pattern of The Great Leader who stays in power forever, complete with a Cult of Personality.

But those hopes have turned to dust and I'm taking a hard second look at some of the things I've supported.

Terrified by the same thing that inspired hope in the West, the CCP looked at the USSR and vowed that it would never happen to them. The rise to power of Xi Peng has actually caused things to go backwards.

Moreover, China has actually used its huge increase in wealth and access to Western technology to fund a rapidly growing naval military as well as Cyber warfare units and implement domestic policing controls using technologies like AI and facial recognition, all fed by millions of street cameras, smart phone apps and other software. Observers have noted that much of the latest effort in combatting the Chinese Coronavirus has involved extensive use of those controlling technologies.
Combining capability with massive amounts of coronavirus test data gave China a decisive advantage in epidemic control. This may be the largest and most sophisticated artificial intelligence experiment ever, and it may well establish China as the world's dominant AI power. China exploited the crisis to conduct the largest AI exercise in history. To gain access to public spaces in most cities you need to show a "Green Page" on your Wechat app, and to get this, you have to use another Wechat app with attachments to upload your vital signs to the cloud. A government algorithm decides when you can leave isolation...
There are plenty of control freaks in the West who likely admire that sort of thing, which makes one of Auslin's comments very pertinent:
Beijing has long touted its techno-authoritarian model as superior to liberal forms of government. Ceding victory in the coronavirus battle would help cement the belief that the CCP’s repressive and opaque systems are the wave of the future.
Critics of the lockdown strategy have already been met with claims that such critics don't care about old people dying. In the aftermath of this crisis we will discover to what degree the proponents of lockdown are willing to accept a Chinese model of public health control.

Auslin sums up the coming re-think around China:
Its behavior during the crisis can no longer be swept aside by diplomatic niceties that ignore the facts on the ground.  Given Xi’s coverup, it is not only reasonable but necessary to ask how any U.S. government, let alone the rest of the world, can anymore trust what Chinese officials say. Those who believe that increased engagement is the only way to solve common problems must question how meaningful dialogue between U.S. and Chinese leaders can take place while China continues to lie about the origins of the virus and its own actions.
The question is to what degree New Zealand leadership will re-think this. Judging by the commentary I see, my bet is we won't. What the people may decide to do - particularly when it comes to tourism from China - will be another matter all together.

LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE

More years ago than I care to remember I was persuaded by MCH to write a series of stories from my time in Vietnam for inclusion in their Vietnam archives.    For want of a better descriptive I titled them 'Tales from the Dark Side of Victor 3' (my Company).    You may find this one amusing ....


Some unkind people have described Waiouru as “the place God made and never visited”.   Clearly they never experienced Fire Support Base Concord.     Charlie was expected to attack the Long Binh – Bien Hoa areas during their 1968 mid year offensive.   Concord was one of a string of FSBs designed to dominate the rocket belt to the north east of Long Binh Junction (LBJ) as a foil to their plans.   It was adjacent to the Dong Nai River (more about that in Tales 5).

Victor 3 deployed into Concord direct from the Horseshoe.    First impressions were that Concord resembled ‘Smokey Mountain’ (the Metro Manila Rubbish Dump) and time did nothing to dispel that impression and indeed, there was a rubbish dump just outside the wire where a couple of ‘lady’ believers in the free enterprise ethic set up an establishment to cater for the needs of healthy young men (well, they probably were healthy until they went there) … I digress.

It was with some amazement that we disembarked from the helicopters to be confronted by a series of above ground bunkers fashioned out of wood and iron scraps and looking like adverts for ‘Junkyard Wars’, occupied by our American cousins who constituted the majority in the FSB.   John Hall, our OC, took one look at them and immediately issued orders to dig, dig and dig some more so we all became ‘diggers’.   We dug and dug and scrounged and scrounged stopping only at ‘stand to’ when all our American friends would come over to look at the sight of soldiers waiting to be attacked.     What’s more they had a penchant for congregating in front of our trenches to discuss the phenomena and blinding us with camera flashes as they recorded the strange habits of their allies.

But it was Company Headquarters that features in this story.   John Hall was determined to create a ‘real’ command post.   Something that General Navarre at Dien Bien Phu would have been proud of.    Laurie Bailey, our faithful Assault Pioneer Detachment Commander, managed to acquire a motorized mini digger, from I know not where, and eventually a bunker extraordinaire was constructed deep deep underground, so far deep that the roof of the bunker was at ground level.   You could walk across it without knowing it was there and that, in retrospect, was a major design flaw.   To provide ventilation Laurie also ‘found’ a number of pipes which protruded about 3 feet above ground level.

And so it was that with the bunker complete and replete with all mod cons we sat down for our first ‘O’ Group in our new home.    The Boss had just started his homily when cascading from the ventilation shafts come a torrent of amber liquid.   Many of us were sprayed.   John Hall, standing straight under one shaft, got soaked,   There was a rushed general exodus.   On making it to the surface we could see a bunch of US soldiers congregated around the ventilation shafts where they protruded from the ground ‘doing their thing’.   They claimed the pipes were standard ‘pissaphones’ on the US side of the base.    John Hall was not amused and not for the first time in the tour vented his feelings with passion.

p.s.   If you want a guaranteed method of removing writing from a plastic surface I know of a good product.

p.p.s.  Laurie B …. Didn’t they tell you what the pipes were being used for when you ‘acquired’ them and does that explain why I have never seen you wearing the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal?



IF SHE ONLY KNEW?



Yesterday in a staged stand up in the Parliamentary Theatre The Appointed one gave the bash to unnamed perpetrators of "Price Gouging", not once but multiple times, all in the interests of "kindeness" of course.

Now as there are only two purveyors of produce still allowed under her state control moves, it does not bust the "Privacy Act" to state  it is Countdown and Foodstuffs she is wielding the big stick at.
The allegations, and that is being generous, are not supported by a shred of actual evidence but "Price Gouging" is a serious charge and will do the complete opposite in engendering an atmosphere of "Kindness".

If the silly girl attempting to act as a statesperson had a modicum of understanding of how commerce behaves in the face of such opportunities (as so succinctly described by the top brass at Toll when Cullen donated NZ$600 0dd million to them in return for the clapped out bits of their NZ empire) she would instinctively know that unjustified price raising will result in buyer resistance and people wont buy overpriced merchandise while choice remain operational.

Meat even mince at $12 a Kg can be extended so easily, just ask any pensioner. If said Pensioner is much over eighty they will relate how during the war things like scones, pikelets, anzac biscuits,  welsh rarebit, bread pudding, rice pudding and many other simple easy to make dishes  became staples.

The duopoly having been delivered of carte blanche in grocery will continue to make profits but for her in her ignorance to make such inflammatory allegations, along with further evidence of her dearth of commercial nous the PTPM also risks creating Social tensions when she claims she wants her followers to believe it is "kindness" she promotes.


EMERGENCY RESPONSE COMMITTEE

Parliament's Emergency Response Committee established to provide scrutiny of the Government during the period of emergency is now in session  and can be viewed on Freeview channel 31 or Sky channel 86.

The Committee will meet every Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday from 1000 to 1230.

If you have questions you want answers to you can e-mail Simon Bridges at nlo@parliament.govt.nz

Monday, March 30, 2020

NZ SUPERANNUATION

Superannuatitants are one of the few segments of our society likely to emerge from this 'crisis' relatively unscathed provided of course they don't catch the lurg.   A goodly proportion of them will own their homes mortgage free and some will have additional sources of income to boot.

Not hard to see the government (any government) taking a long hard look at NZ superannuation.      Hard to see the sacred cow retaining its slaughter-proof status.

Comment

Good Progress


'On Sunday night the FDA issued an emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine to be prescribed to coronavirus patients.'

My only question is 'What took them so long?'

Of course my understanding  is that doctors have for some time now been prescribing this drug to people who were seriously ill and had no alternative.  This authorization appears to extend the use of the drug to those less seriously afflicted.


WITH APOLOGIES TO ELE LUDERMANN

I hope she doesn't mind but I am reproducing below Ele's article posted earlier today on her Homepaddock blog titled 'Some can learn from others mistakes'.    Food for thought ...

 It’s early days, but most people are responding responsibly to the draconian requirements of the state of emergency.

News of the escalating rate of Covid-19 overseas and here, including the first death, is helping keep people in their isolation bubbles.

But acceptance and compliance won’t last long if the shutdown doesn’t work, or there’s a second wave because there’s too little testing, or because the disease keeps on being imported.

Deaths from the disease will be counted and broadcast. It will be harder to track those caused by the economic and social cost of the shut down but they will come.

Businesses will fail, homes will be lost, suicides and domestic violence will increase.

A four-week shutdown that eliminates the disease and saves lives might justify all that, but only if the disease is eliminated and stays out of the country and we are then able to get the economy up and functioning at full speed again.

That will mean closing the borders completely, or requiring all arrivals to be quarantined for two weeks. Trusting people to self-isolate before the shutdown didn’t work and it won’t work afterwards.
Had it done so, Covid-19 would have been confined to people who contracted it overseas and we wouldn’t have to be locked down.

Some of us can learn from others’ mistakes, their rest of us have to be the other people.

The government didn’t learn from the mistakes other countries made in not closing borders properly.
Until it decides that all arrivals will be quarantined, it’s not even learning from its own mistake in not going harder, sooner.

and my comment ... I see that Bill English in his analysis (you can read it over at Kiwiblog) is suggesting there might have to be a three month lockdown period.    That remains to be seen and while there will be mounting pressure on government to ease the lockdown restrictions sooner rather than later I, for one, support a precautionary approach.    It's a balancing act.    Get it right and the accolades will follow.   Screw up and you will pay a price.

MSM Aims at Trump - hits Democrat Andrew Cuomo


This news had me chuckling.

For several years now the US MSM, in their desperate efforts to prevent Trump's reelection later this year, have steadily destroyed what little credibilty they had left by resorting to an endless stream of stories based on "unnamed sources" or people simply making claims that the MSM doesn't bother to verify from other sources. It's no surprise that those stories have later collapsed.

So it has been with reporting on the progress of COVID-19 in New York City.

NYT - 13 Deaths in a Day: An 'Apolcalyptic' Coronavirus Surge at an N.Y.C. Hospital

NYT - Ventilator shortage

NY Post - Nurses forced to wear trash bags. (The NYT had the same story).


Joy Behar, host of The View

These and other stories have then gone viral ( 😉 ) on other MSM venues like daytime talk show The View, watched by millions of woman across the USA and hosting some of the dumbest humans ever to draw breath.

The purpose of these stories of course was to hammer Trump and I've seen references to them here in comments on NoMinister,



Unfortunately the stories also amounted to attacks on the New York authorities and they were such bullshit that they forced NY State Governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, to join Trump in calling them out as untrue.  In fact he came out swinging hard against such stories as his own taskforce confirmed that they had spoken with hospitals directly:
"We have enough PPE and the New York City officials say they have enough PPE for the New York hospitals." 
Turns out the nurses had PPE on under the trash bags. Who knows why they were wearing the latter but it was not for a shortage of PPE gear.

Cuomo also verified President Trump's claim that Cuomo has a stockpile of ventilators. Cuomo admitted he does, but he insisted he's not sitting on them -  it's just that no hospitals have called the state to request ventilators. Cuomo has repeatedly estimated his current stock to be around 6,000 units. It simply isn't possible that hospitals are short on ventilators when they have far less than this number of patients in ICU's in the whole state. Those numbers alone should tell people that it's Cuomo who is telling the truth and the MSM who are not.

The NY Governor is still saying he needs 30,000 more, so that at least is honest reporting. But even there it's based on the models projected need - which may or may not become reality.

Cuomo may not realize that he is proving Trump correct about fake news stories hyping the crisis. And while it's almost satisfying to watch a Democrat be the victim of fake news for once, the fact is that it's damaging in this fight against the virus.

Meanwhile Trump's ratings continue to improve, and it may well be that he owes that to an action he took way back in late January when he began restricting flights between the USA and China. 

His action was denounced at the time as racist and "xenophobic" by all the usual suspects - Democrat politicians and activists and the Democrat-Operatives-With-Bylines otherwise known as the US MSM. Looking at this poll and others I doubt we'll hear much of that from here on.



Sunday, March 29, 2020

IS IT A DICHOTOMY OR WHAT



Along with the now gargantuan failures of Kiwibuild, Ending Child Poverty, redefining transparency and honesty, there was another biggy when the CoL was appointed, namely "Mental Health".
The socialist fix everything by throwing money at it has so far been without visible measurable outcomes in this field also.
Not forgetting how the new order find measuring outcomes abhorrent, leading to total abandonment across many disciplines.

My decade and a half around first response exposed me to some understanding of the massive degree of ignorance associated with the mental health of the nation, more so around results of substance abuse.

An opinion I have formed has me seriously questioning how many will cope under the police state currently operating under the guise of the threat of Covid 19.

There is evidence that some suffering from many of the disorders that fall within the Mental Health  umbrella either find solace in withdrawing from society or end up effectively 'excommunicated' through benign neglect.

The newspeak Buzzword "Bubble",  has certain advantages in the expressed desire to limit interpersonal contacts but is there not a significant danger that enforcing a minimal 'bubble' will in fact exacerbate 'cabin fever syndrome'.
Some people will not cope

One positive, swmbo and self have noticed, in fact rather found comforting, in our walking the two furry four legged Grandchildren substitutes, is the bonhomie, and camaraderie amongst the now numerous people of all ages  out "taking the air".

How about those who live alone and no-one cares?
It is not unknown that some who "go to the Dr" maybe seeking human contact and the Medical center is a welcoming place.  The pokies, lotto, shopping and many other activities are now  seriously constrained.

When does the lockdown become psychological damaging for those considered vulnerable?

Is there a developing time bomb in the burbs, I  wonder.

The Police Could be Worse!


Earlier today I included in a comment I made, a link to Stuff with the story of one ex-reporter's encounter with the NZ Police - Policing the Pandemic:
Damian Christie had a run-in with a police officer while working for an essential business on Friday, day two of the lockdown. The former broadcaster was delivering video equipment to a client's business, letter in hand to prove he was essential.
So fortunately, like all good little Soviets, he had his papers. But alas, on his way home, a policeman on a motorbike pulled up alongside him and asked what he was doing. Christie said the officer was not satisfied with the answer, saying he should only leave the house for medical supplies.
"He was basically yelling, and I was like, 'I've got a letter', and he didn't care. It just sort of shook me." He said the officer's interpretation of the rules seemed incorrect and overzealous — what about going to the supermarket?

This should not be surprising, given the comments from on high of Oberst-Gruppenführer Mike "having a little trip to our place" Bush. The article goes on to point out - with the comments of people like law prof Andrew Geddis:
Officers can now enter your home without a warrant to look for gatherings. There's the power to detain, seemingly indefinitely, if you continue to leave the house without good reason. 
Legal and policing experts say that, under this national state of emergency, police powers have been expanded in a way unseen since the 1951 waterfront strikes. And the control over Kiwis - and activities like going for a walk - is broad, discretionary, and so far poorly defined.
Oh well. Could be worse as the following Tweet from the Derbyshire Police in Britain shows:

Screenshot of the drone video

Anybody who has ever owned a dog, especially one larger than a Pekingese, knows they need to be walked regularly. It should not require instructions from above for the Derbyshire cops to apply some common sense.

And you just have to love the use of a drone. Very 21st century one could say - or very 1984ish.

And then there's the Chinese showing the way, and I note the friendly ties that have been established between the NZ Police and the Chinese Security services in recent years. The following video shows that the Chinese cops have advanced to the stage where they are carrying helmet cameras that can measure body temperatures at a range up to 5m. So if you're infected - they'll know.


A useful tool. Coming to your NZ street soon I would think.

MEMO TO COUNTDOWN

By the grace of God (Jacinda Ardern) you have been afforded rare privileged status.    Your profits will be up and the jobs of your staff are secure.    Countdown will come out of this crisis better than when it went in.

So why aren't you ramping up your home delivery service?    Here in Paihia all slots on offer thru to next Saturday are booked solid ... and your website doesn't show past next Saturday.   I suspect that's the case for much of the country.

Surely this is the time for you to be taking on more staff to speed up the process.   There's no shortage of van drivers out there complete with vehicles who would jump at the chance of gainful employment.

So whats stopping you?    Get your act together.

p.s.    No New World here.   Just Countdown and 4 Square while the latter doesn't have a booking website.

Sleepytime and the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse


I see DPF has gone his usual route of linking to some godforsken MSM source for an opinion about the incompetence of our government. Apparently it's by some person I've never heard of called Steve Elers, who has a PhD and is a Massey University lecturer (that should get Psycho excited)!

Instead I'm going to reach out to the NZ Blogosphere to highlight a much more substantive piece of analysis by Michael Reddell in his blog Croaking Cassandra. Michael is a former Reserve Bank official who worked through the crisis of the GFC in 2008/9 and has an excellent understanding of and contacts with the Wellington bureaucracies.

This article is titled Hopeless and Complacent.
On 23 January, the People’s Republic of China authorities locked down Wuhan, a huge city.  On 24 January our Ministry of Health issued a rather anodyne press release.  In that release, the Ministry claimed to be taking the outbreak “very seriously”. There was a further press release on the 27th where the words were upgraded to “extremely seriously”, but had the fateful routinely-repeated line that:
"...the likelihood of a sustained outbreak in New Zealand remains low".
...
I wonder at what point they really concluded that the risk was no longer “low”.  Just last weekend perhaps?  Or when?
Judging by the week of March 16-20 I'd say it was last weekend.
It still isn’t clear quite what ‘extremely seriously’ actually meant in practice in late January. After all, there was no sign of them urging ministers to dramatically scale up either stocks of relevant equipment (in some cases, not even count how much equipment they had), add ICU beds, and their public tone remained emollient almost to the end.
I'm reminded me once again of the classic Yes Minister piece on The Four Stage Strategy.
Because whatever the Ministry of Health did, it clearly wasn’t adequate. And more importantly, as the channellers of expert professional expertise on the health issues, there is no sign at all that they ever convinced either the Prime Minister and Cabinet or the heads of other major government departments to take the threat as one of utmost seriousness and urgency.
...
Were 100 of the ablest senior policy and operational people from across the public sector immediately dedicated to fulltime substantive contingency planning?  I’m pretty confident that they weren’t.
I don't agree with him here. Judging by the vagueness of the instructions that have been issued I'm certain they weren't. Remember this the next time somebody tells you that experts are in charge and you have nothing to worry about so just sit back, shut up and let Top Men take care of things.
Is there on file somewhere, well hidden from the public, what I’ve described elsewhere as a “Whoop, whoop, pull up” memorandum, whether to Cabinet or other key departments heads, dated late January?  I’m pretty confident there isn’t, because nothing about the subsequent words or actions of ministers, the Prime Minister, or key government agencies suggested any such sense of urgency,
Given his qualifications and work history Reddell focuses on the Reserve Bank's words and actions, but ties that in to the rest of the government, especially the Health Ministry. So when on 29 January one of the Bank's deputy chief executives, Christian Hawkesby, gave a speech he did mention the coronavirus and the Health Ministry's "extremely seriously", but again it was merely in passing.
Now I don’t really hold Christian Hawkesby to blame for not then being more concerned.  And The Treasury was making similar comments at the same time.  Neither outfits are experts in infectious diseases.  But the early comments of neither organisation betrayed any sense that the Ministry of Health was alerting any one that mattered –  public and private – to the nature of the threat, ...
Then in mid February there was talk from the RB about a minor hit to GDP from the virus, but otherwise it was a pretty upbeat picture, with talk of actually hardening the next OCR, because our economy was just so firing on all cylinders then and needed cooling down. The main point is that:
If The Treasury displayed no sense of urgency, the Prime Minister displayed no sense of urgency, the Minister of Health displayed no sense of urgency or serious imminent threat, I think we can conclude none of them just missed the message.  That message was never sent.
I have to admit that I laughed out loud at Reddell's naivety when he finds himself amazed that the RB actually used Twitter to send out a brief message - "we expect activity will pick up later this year, meaning more investment, more jobs & higher wages."  -  assuming it was some lowly functionary. In fact it was approved by the Bank’s Chief Economist.

You're still confident in our experts, right? Read on.
There was that strange speech (and questions and answers) of the Governor’s just over two weeks ago now.   We were assured we were nowhere near the need for any special monetary policy action.  That was followed quickly by further highly complacent interviews with other Bank senior managers – best characterised, as I did at the time, as almost unbelievable.
Only a couple of days after that Orr did an interview which for once I heard as I was driving at the time: he said he wasn't really worried and especially thought that comparisons to the Great Depression were silly. But the following comment from Reddell is really about the entire government bureaucracy.
It is clear that there was no detailed planning undertaken in advance – if there had been, not only would we have seen more serious policy, actually addressing core issues, but even what has been announced –  mortgage holidays, business loan guarantees, and associated bank capital implications –  would actually have some details, not still be little more than statements of good intentions, even as they seem overwhelmed by what has hit them.
Something people in business are beginning to discover as they ask questions and fail to get answers from the likes of the MBIE- when they can get through on the phones that is.
There are people around who want to believe in the notion of detailed and extensive advance planning. [A "Pandemic Plan" perhaps?]. People (very young ones) apparently believe in the tooth fairy too. But all the evidence is to the contrary: they were backward looking, playing things down, perhaps simply unable to comprehend that something like this could hit – even with a full two months notice from Wuhan.
Michael sounds a bit sad and disappointed, but that's to be expected from a long-time government bureaucrat.
Much of the stuff governments and their agencies do really doesn’t matter that much in the scheme of things.  The crisis that currently sweeps over us, sweeping away civil liberties, even Parliament, casting hundreds of thousands onto the welfare rolls and probably slashing GDP by a third or more, destroying countless businesses really does.
In fact he sounds like a bit of Tooth Fairy believer himself, even as he tries to leaven this grim news with some sympathy for the inadequacies of humans.
Would it have been hard to do something well?  Quite possibly, but this is the sort of stuff we really count on governments for –  they have the resources, the people, the intelligence networks etc etc, in a way that no one else does.  They could have done much more –  it is not as if no one out in the wider world was alerting us to the risks and threats.  It would never have been enough, and wouldn’t have been perfectly fitted to the situation.
But in the end he has to face the terrible truth about our political and technocratic leadership:
Instead, almost none of them even seemed to try. They did nothing to front the situation with the public, indeed actively played down public concerns and presentations, and since I really don’t believe any of them consciously lied to the New Zealand public one can then only conclude that they didn’t believe it themselves, from the Prime Minister on down.
I'll leave the people who do still believe in the Tooth Fairy (and I know there are many out there), to one of my favourite scenes from Raiders of The Lost Ark.


ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

To the arsehole (that's you arsehole) who thought he could get away with publishing my name on 'this teeny-weeny insignificant blog' (his words) you're gone-burger with your comments never to see the light of day on my blog again (see below).    Begs the question actually ... why do you bother reading a teeny-weeny insignificant blog anyway.


 And sorry to disappoint ... this blog is read by Fraser House/Beehive and where a Labour MP is mentioned on it he/she is provided with a precis of what was said.   How do I know that?   Simple, ask Willow-Jean Prime, Labour List MP.

Over the last little while this blog has been infested by a raft of posters using silly NDPs intent on disrupting debate.   For me the crunch point came with my 'They're a Weird Mob' post.   A certain Gustavo Frink hijacked it to post fake news about President Trump and then later on and under a different ndp admitted it was a lie.

I have no difficulty with the Holdens of this world.   Don't agree with them but they are real and consistent and deserve to be heard.    Not so the rest.   From hereon-in your comments will be deleted period so don't bother.

You have only yourselves to blame. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

IF THEY HAD EVER BEEN AT THE COALFACE THEY WOULD HAVE KNOWN!


People who have been in business know instinctively that competition act as a downward pressure on prices.
It is not just the removal of specials and discounts,  monopolies (duopolies in this case) will take advantage.

If the masters of commercial realism didn't see it coming it is of no surprise, hang on not a single one of the cabinet or the Labour caucus has a track record of a successful business in their entire shallow existence.

Kiwibuild, Light rail, horses for courses, chaotic health performance excluding the Corvid 19 looming, two and a half years of bagging the food producers, now they think that they can control a virus when they struggle to stop the sun warming the Planet by taxing the wealth creators as their strategy.
Economic butterflies

News Flash people those taxes are drying up bigly

Neighbour just back after waiting for one hour just to enter the New World to buy his meagre needs, reporting the toilet paper he couldn't buy last week is now dearer??

Die MSM, Die 1.5 - The Hook: They're dead?


Well not really.
  • In relation to news and media this applies both to the movement of staff of media organisations and their supply and distribution lines
  • The focus for news and media as an essential service has to be on the provision of timely news and current affairs
  • Daily newspapers are currently included in the definition and are expected to take strong measures to ensure safety of staff and the public; combined with their digital reach, they remain essential at this stage for the timely dissemination of news to the majority of New Zealanders
  • Printed periodical and non-daily publications are not considered essential under the news and media designation
Ignore that muffled chuckling. It's just Sid Holland laughing in his grave.

Waterfront Strike Emergency Regulations 1951
With Simon Bridges playing the role of Walter Nash.

As with supermarkets vs. butchers shops, the biggies like TVNZ, TV3, the NZ Herald and Stuff.co.nz are placed ahead of the little local community papers. Frankly I don't know why they bothered. For me they all deliver little to nothing in terms of reporting, let alone news analysis. Even in these times I've found it more useful to just go straight to the government departments. Still, I suppose the majors will more reliably carry water for the government. But there must be plenty of people in provincial and small-town NZ who use the little guys.

Being a lover of history I've always tried to imagine what it must have been like to live in nations in the middle of war and revolution. The speed or slowness with which everyday things were taken away. What one might have been aware of or not in terms of the implications. Looking back, history always makes it seem to easy to say to the people through the pages, "Can't you see what's happening? What is about to happen?".

And then one day you find yourself in the middle of it.

Photoshop courtesy of Chris Trotter, who loved it.
I wonder who is next to be excluded from outside that new master word, "essential"? Social Media distributing "mis-information" perhaps? I can think of a few commentators on various right-wing blogs who have expressed a desire to nark on the authors and get them shut down.

We have had Oberst-Gruppenführer Bush all but say that people who need to move because they are in essential services must carry ID. That's one of the standard hallmarks of totalitarian societies, as the online game Papers Please has had fun with.

The confident assertion by him that the Department of Defence are willing, indeed eager, to step in and help out.

The cops have already been empowered to stop citizens and demand to know where they are going - happened to a friend of my son's yesterday as he headed for his job stacking shelves at the supermarket. 

And this is on top of those interesting little visits to houses by armed cops over the last year.

Now this. And I see comments on Lefty blogs that are slavering at the possibility of the government playing .... let us say a larger role in the economy than before.


Should be great fun.

THEY'RE A WIERD MOB

Despite my Oz heritage I have to say one has to agree with Nino Culotta.

Amid all the calls for people to stay home and avoid unnecessary contact the Queensland State Government has gone ahead with the Bundamba and Currumbin by-elections as well as the local body elections with the people going to the polls due to close at 6.00 pm Queensland time.    Voting is compulsory including the local body elections.

WTF.

Supermodels, Dangerous Curves and Experts - Part 1



The phrase "on the advice of expert epidemiologists and public health officials" has been bandied about a lot so I decided to write about these experts and their models of COVID-19 infection, and this is the first part, focusing on the models as they are being presented to us, at least from overseas.

When Jacinda Adern made specific reference to "tens of thousands of deaths" in New Zealand during her Monday announcement of the Level 3 and Level 4 measures, my ears pricked up for that more than anything else, even with all the other drastic stuff. Could it be true?

Well I was assured by various people on this forum that Jacinda was getting advice from experts in public healthcare and epidemiology. Experts! With models and everything.

Presumably a model similar to the one published on March 16 by epidemiology experts at The Imperial College in London. They input assumptions about transmission, infection rates and other factors and played out different scenarios, including one where nobody took any action, not even individuals protecting themselves:

.. given an estimated R0 of 2.4, we predict 81% of the GB and US populations would be infected over the course of the epidemic.

Leading to the graph on the left.

Naturally it was this one that got the attention of the MSM: 500,000 dead after about three months before the disease burns itself out as usual.

They also looked at other strategies such as mitigation and supression, with different tactics used in each.

Then they reached some summary conclusions:
Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over.
...
In addition, even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB, and 1.1-1.2 million in the US.
...
We therefore conclude that epidemic suppression is the only viable strategy at the current time.
Mass deaths. Government hospital systems swamped. "Suppression" of the population the only option.

Sound familiar?

With a claim like that from such an impeccable source, Boris and company had no choice but to go for a lockdown similar to ours. In case the report had not made it clear the lead author, Neil Ferguson, did so in the NYT a day later:
Based on our estimates and other teams’, there’s really no option but follow in China’s footsteps and suppress.
You would think that scientists would be more careful. As the study itself admitted the do-nothing scenario was highly unlikely. Even in the absence of government action people would protect themselves in various ways, starting with the now famous "social distancing". But Ferguson let it ride because he knew that such a strawman, worst-case scenario would scare the living daylights out of everybody and enable him to get his preferred option.

And now he has decided this new strategy and new data has changed the results, as he testified to Parliament the other day:
UK deaths from the disease are now unlikely to exceed 20,000, he said, and could be much lower.
Not only that but he now thinks the NHS can cope with the peak of the disease when it hits in the next two-three weeks, after which it will subside. No longer any calls for suppression lasting five months or and eighteen month quarantine until a vaccine turns up. From 500,000 to 250,000 to 20,000. That's one hell of a model.

But it was not just the strategy factor that was changed. It was also that estimates of the viruses transmissibility have changed:
New data from the rest of Europe suggests that the outbreak is running faster than expected, said Ferguson. As a result, epidemiologists have revised their estimate of the reproduction number (R0) of the virus [up to 3 from 2.4]
Now all that is fair enough: inputs to a model change, but as one other expert commented:
The Imperial model has played a key role in informing the UK’s coronavirus strategy, but this approach has been criticised by some. “To be fair, the Imperial people are the some of the best infectious disease modellers on the planet,” Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia, UK, told New Scientist last week. “But it is risky to put all your eggs in a single basket.”
True. Because another team from University of Oxford released provisional findings of a different model that they say shows that up to half the UK population could already have been infected. The model is based on different assumptions and will also have flaws, but it reaches roughly the same number of predicted deaths as the Imperial Model - for now. Remember the latter got its new numbers based on factoring in the new lockdown strategy for GB.

Bottom line: We still have no real idea how many people have this disease and aren’t showing symptoms, for whatever reason. It could be a small number. It could be an immense number. The death and hospitalization rates depend entirely on knowing, as does our national response.

This is my shocked face from years of dealing with experts, models and their inbuilt assumptions, not to mention data.

This has not stopped this particular virus spreading to the USA, where it's turned up as an online model called COVID Act Now.

And of course it's producing the same projections with the same focus on hospitals being swamped (rather than deaths), with the same logical conclusion being followed by Governors of states - lockdown.

But the projections of hospitalisations by mid-late March turned out to be wrong, typically by an order of magnitude.


This, plus the following types of criticisms of the Imperial Model...
Chen Shen at the New England Complex Systems Institute, a research group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his colleagues argue that the Imperial team’s model is flawed, and contains ‘incorrect assumptions’. They point out that the Imperial team’s model doesn’t account for the availability of tests, or the possibility of ‘super-spreader events’ at gatherings, and has other issues.
... have resulted in the COVID Act Now website providing a list of its problematic assumptions:

  • Many of the inputs into this model (hospitalization rate) are based on early estimates that are likely to be wrong.
  • Demographics, populations, and hospital bed counts are outdated. Demographics for the USA as a whole are used, rather than specific to each state.
  • The model does not adjust for the population density, culturally-determined interaction frequency and closeness, humidity, temperature, etc in calculating R0.
  • This is not a node-based analysis, and thus assumes everyone spreads the disease at the same rate. In practice, there are some folks who are ‘super-spreaders,’ and others who are almost isolated.

And all this scare-mongering finally led one of Trump's COVID-19 taskforce experts, Dr. Deborah Birx to specifically call out the Imperial Model compared to the reality they're seeing and also take the scare-mongers of the MSM to task.


  • So in the model, to get the numbers of infected people predicted, from which other projections of hospitalisations and death tolls are derived, you have to have either:
  • A large group of asymptomatic people who have never presented for any test. That's possible but to determine that in fact, much testing is going on, Yet - "In no country have we seen an attack rate of more than one in a thousand."
  • Or a transmission rate that's very different from what is being seen on the ground.
  • But the predictions of such models don’t match the reality of what they’re seeing on the ground in Italy, South Korea and China.
  • If you did the divisions according to the models, Italy should have 400,000 deaths. They’re not even close to that.
  • "Models are models. There's .. enough data now of the real experience with the coronavirus on the ground to make these predictions much more sound."
  • "When people start talking about 20 percent of a population getting infected, it is very scary but we don't have data that matches that based on the experience."
  • "There's no reality on the ground where we can see that 60 to 70 percent of Americans are going to get infected in the next eight to 12 weeks".
  • It would only be possible for 50-60% of the US population to get the virus if there was nothing being done to mitigate it and if the virus was constantly being recycled through this cycle and the next into 2021. 
  • 19 out of 50 states had early cases of coronavirus, but have persistently low levels of cases. "That's almost 40% of the country with extraordinary low numbers and they are testing"

Is the Imperial Model the one our experts are using here in New Zealand? It would seem so, judging from the PM's dire predictions of tens of thousands of deaths if we did not go with this State of Emergency.

So what assumptions did they make to customise it for New Zealand? What reasons do they have as to why they're confident that those assumptions are correct, given the problems with the assumptions of the original model. And that's before we even get to the question I raised yesterday about having accurate numbers on testing, ICU beds and so forth.

One last thing: it would seem that Neil Ferguson's one of those cold-blooded types who thinks that most of the fatalities will be in people who would have died later this year anyway:
It [the deaths of those who would have died anyway] might be as much as half or two thirds of the deaths we see, because these are people at the end of their lives or who have underlying conditions.”
But he does at least have a grasp on the economics of this, which is nice to see given that it's not his area of expertise:
But, he added, there would be a cost. Thanks to the stringent measures used to save the health service from disaster, “we will be paying for this year for many decades to come in terms of economic impact”.

THE MYSTEROUS CASE OF THE $25 THAT WASN'T

Last Tuesday week the government announced with much fanfare and exuding deeply the milk of human kindness (and taxpayer largesse) that both pensions and benefits were being increased by $25 per week.   The announcement attracted many plaudits and some criticism that it was merely an election bribe brought forward from the 2020 May budget and was money that could far better be spent on helping the productive sector see through the crisis rather than directed at superannuates, many of whom will emerge from this in far better shape than the now projected 200,000 workers who will lose their jobs.

The $25 was of course a gross figure although that would have been lost on many who might have expected their cash in hand to increase by the promised figure.

Well, sorry to disappoint.    A little while ago I accessed the MSD website.    These are the rates as posted.   A single pensioner living alone will have his/her gross weekly pension increased from $475.42 to $490.73 which is an increase of $15.31.    Cash in hand after tax at the 'M'' rate and the increase for a single person is $12.68.

The lie continues for couples (both partners qualify).    Their (individual) pensions increase from $360.42 (gross) per week to $372.77 which is an increase of $12.35.  Cash in hand after tax at the 'M'' rate and the increase is $9.76.

$15.31 for singles and $12.35 each for couples is a long way distant from the $25 promised. 

WTF ... come in spinners .... if you can.   

Friday, March 27, 2020

Why South Korea isn't getting hammered by COVID-19


In a previous OP I looked at why Italy was getting hit so hard by the COVID-19 virus.

Now it's time to turn in the opposite direction and look at a success story: South Korea. The first two graphs here are on the log scale, which is the best way to track outbreaks of infectious diseases, rather than focusing on raw totals.



Out of a population of some 50 million, slightly more than 9,332 have been infected, with only 139 dying. This is a death rate of 1.49% of infected people.

Now that rate is higher than that of the common flu, which is about 0.1% And like the flu, and like elsewhere in the world, most of those deaths have been among the elderly, which means that once the total numbers of infected people are detected the actual death rate will likely trend even more towards that of the flu, as was predicted weeks ago by experts on infectious disease in sources like the New England Journal of Medicine.


And the numbers of deaths and new cases there are now dropping, which shows that the disease may have run its course without causing a catastrophic disaster. The dreaded "peak" that swamps hospitals seems to have passed.

Now as with any disease there is still a chance it could break out again, perhaps in the next South Korean winter, but at that point it becomes just another flu/cold disease that has to be managed by individuals and the healthcare system.






The question is why South Korea has done so well. We should first note one key difference, in that only  18.5% of the population are at least 60 years of age, ranking 53rd globally. Italy has 28.6% and is ranked 2nd behind Japan.

There is also one similarity. It's clear from the Italian stats that smoking is another factor clearly associated with poor survival, and smoking rates are about the same between the two countries: 24% for Italians and 27% for South Koreans. However, in Italy 28% of men versus 20% of women smoke, while in Korea, it is about 50% of men and less than 5% of women, which could be another factor in their lower death rate. Italy’s disease is occurring among the old and the very old, many of whom are smokers, although I can find no breakdown of the male-female split in the Italian cases.

But the real answers may lie in how the South Korean government and health care system reacted, as described in this March 17 report from the website/journal Science.

First they hit testing hard right from the start.
Behind its success so far has been the most expansive and well-organized testing program in the world.
...
South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people, which amounts to more than 5200 tests per million inhabitants—more than any other country except tiny Bahrain.
...
“diagnostic capacity at scale is key to epidemic control,” says Raina MacIntyre, an emerging infectious disease scholar at the University of New South Wales,
...
“That [MERS] experience showed that laboratory testing is essential to control an emerging infectious disease,” said Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious disease specialist at Korea University.
...
The first test was approved on 7 February, when the country had just a few cases, and distributed to regional health centers. Just 11 days later, a 61-year-old woman, known as “Case 31,” tested positive.
This is what "going early and hard" actually means when it's actions not words.

Second, they then used this data to track down and isolate people and anybody they had come in contact with.
[There were] extensive efforts to isolate infected people and trace and quarantine their contacts.
...
“Contact tracing is also very influential in epidemic control, as is case isolation,” said MacIntyre.
Third, they made sure that the disease did not get into the healthcare system itself, which seems to have been a big factor in Northern Italy. Oh Myoung-Don, an infectious disease specialist at Seoul National University:
“The MERS experience certainly helped us to improve hospital infection prevention and control.” So far, there are no reports of infections of COVID-19 among South Korean health care workers.
Which in turn meant that they could be confident that in applying triage they were doing so in the most precise way possible and not making things worse:
High-risk patients with underlying illnesses get priority for hospitalization, says Chun Byung-Chul, an epidemiologist at Korea University. Those with moderate symptoms are sent to repurposed corporate training facilities and spaces provided by public institutions, where they get basic medical support and observation.
There were tough measures put in place for people who were told to self-quarantine for two weeks, with violators facing up to 3 million won ($US 2500) fines, but note this is only for people who tested positive.


Mini-clusters have continued to pop up but South Korea is tackling them the same way. The war is not yet won but they're farther ahead than almost anybody else except Singapore. And the key to this was data, which they are still pursuing:
[Chun Byung-Chul, an epidemiologist at Korea University] says scientists are eager to see more epidemiological data. “We are literally stamping our feet,” Chun says. KCDC releases the basic counts of patients, their age and gender, and how many are linked to clusters. “That is not enough,” Chun says. 
He and others would like to study detailed individual patient data, which would enable epidemiologists to model the outbreak and determine the number of new infections triggered by each case, also known as the basic reproductive number or R0; the time from infection to the onset of symptoms; and whether early diagnosis improved patients’ outcomes. 
Their testing rate has increased to 6741 per million of population. In Singapore, it's 6739. Here in New Zealand it was 1669 just two days ago. The resulting actions by our government are therefore no surprise, as Peter Creswell puts it:
We do know what we don't know, which is helpful. But we are being locked up because of what's unknown: because of the fear of community transmission from persons unknown. And they'll remain unknown just as long as we don't test them, and find out who they've contacted. How did Singapore manage more than 500 cases without closing their schools and locking up their population? By finding cases and isolating their contacts. 
Not here. Here, we have a minister-inflicted knowledge problem. And instead of testing, they're locking us up.
And South Korea did manage to do all this without locking down entire cities, let alone the entire nation, or taking some of the other authoritarian measures that helped China bring its epidemic under control. As Kim Woo-Joo, an infectious disease specialist at Korea University said:
“South Korea is a democratic republic, we feel a lockdown is not a reasonable choice,” 
Remember that seventy years ago New Zealanders were fighting to prevent South Korea from becoming yet another communist hell hole. And even though that battle was won, the nation lay in ruins, was poverty stricken, with democracy a sad joke amidst almost endless military coups into the 1980's.

How far they've come in wealth, healthcare and understanding freedom. It's not a false claim to say that they've now passed us on all counts.

MEET TORTY

Torty is our only living survivor from WW1 having recovered from injuries received in that war.     Torty is a tortoise.
 
Great story.   Torty was rescued in Salonika in the Balkans by Stewart Little, a kiwi medic, who saw her run over by a French gun-carriage.    She lost a couple of toes and her shell had the imprint of the carriage wheel.    Little smuggled her back to NZL which was apparently a fairly easy task because she went into hibernation.  

Torty has had an eventful life; she was stolen and sold to a circus before being recognised by a member of the Police by the imprint on her shell and returned to the Little family.    Nowadays she is shared between Little's grandsons and alternates her life between Auckland, Palmerston North, Havelock North and Morrinsville.    I guess it helps that she hibernates for five months every year.

  Torty the Tortoise is the oldest survivor of World War I. Photo/File

LET THE BUTCHERS OPEN

This here from DPF at Kiwiblog.    I agree.

Dairies open.   Butchers closed.   Re-think required.   One in and one out and the amount of distancing in the average butchers shop would be twice that in a supermarket/dairy. 

Hugging is Killing


That title fits in well with the rest of Oceania's slogans and at the start of this month I had already included the term Memory Hole in an OP about statements uttered throughout this crisis.

So lest we forget here are some other corkers. First up is this guy, Mark D. Levine.


Mr Levine is (still) the Chair of the NYC Council's health committee. His biggest concern on Feb 9th was "defying" Trump's crackdown on flights to China. Racism was the number 1 concern. 

Is it any surprise that NYC is now the US's focal point for COVID-19 infection.

All that was needed to prevent this becoming a pandemic were simple actions of the now famous "Social Distancing" type while people continued to go about their lives. But no! There was a far more important objective to keep in mind.

But he was also helped by this Tweet from the WHO on January 14.

Now it should be noted that the WHO is dependent on what their member nations are willing to tell them, and it's now obvious that the Chinese government was not telling anybody very much about this disease through December and January even as its own medical people were warning it clear cases of human-to-human transmission.

Still, the WHO should be used to that response by now from any number of countries that have authoritarian governments. Surely it should have developed ways of getting around such governments to obtain more accurate information?

How hard did they push the CCP? Back in January the WHO's Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that WHO was advising foreign countries that evacuating their citizens from Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province was unnecessary.  As Reuters delicately noted:
“[WHO is] reluctant to antagonize or ostracize countries dealing with epidemics for fear of undermining future willingness to report cases of infectious disease outbreaks.”
I can understand that, but it's up to outfits like WHO to explain - behind closed doors so as not to cause embarrassment - just how important it is to be honest and up-front about such disease outbreaks. But China also played a big hand in getting Ghebreyesus into that role in the first place, they have significant economic sway over his home nation of Ethiopia, and they've demonstrated that they're not averse to using that muscle.


And just in case you were thinking that misinformation about the virus was coming from the Alt-Right or some other hobgoblin, I present to you that fave website of Big Brains regularly praised by Leftists up to former President Obama - Vox.

Now I'm not sticking it to Vox but to make the point that right from the start there were a lot of people on different sides of this issue irrespective of their political or ideological stance. 

I don't think Vox is controlled or even much influenced by Putin's Russian Troll Army. What you see here is the usual case of different takes being made while a situtation is still developing and data is still minimal.



Finally, in looking forward, not backwards, and in the spirit of counter-acting anybody who claims that saving our economies is about nothing more than saving corporate profits - here's a graph of US unemployment claims.

This is also human suffering in the making. I've not seen anything like this from NZ but it has to happen here as well.

The death toll and human misery arising from this may be harder to calculate than COVID-19 deaths but it will be all too real and no amount of benefit cheques from the government will be able compensate for it.