Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Variations on Good Morning


Good morning take two:


Good Morning Take Three:

hheadsup Insapundit

Who gets sick

Here in the Philippines, we are in strict quarantine, and the official number of cases is low but includes doctors and nurses.

But there are reports of many of our OFW having caught the wuhanflu. Why? Because of where they work:
as health care personnel.
As caregivers
on Cruise ships
as menial workers in the Middle East etc. who live in dormitories.

one does worry about epidemics in dormitories housing workers, not only in the Middle East but in places not known for having poor people, like Singapore, who has many cases among migrants who do the work locals don't want to do.

LINK and when these businesses shut down, they will not be able to send money to their families and may have to return home.

in the US, the higher rate in the black population and among AmerIndians is attributed to racism, but poverty is partly behind this.

Yes, there is racism that people face: fewer local docs who are seen as part of the community mean you have to wait to see a stranger, often from another country (and yes, some of these are worse racist than home grown doctors who tend to be upper middle class condescending twits).

the lack of personal physicians is becoming more common with the business orientation of modern medicine, and ignores the  importance of a personal relationship with physicians so people trust you and go to you before they are on deaths' door.

it's not just against blacks however: we had to be careful when we referred our AmerIndian patients to specialists. And the specialists were not always trusted: we had a surgeon working with our diabetics to treat small wounds so they didn't result in amputations who used to drive up 300 miles to see people twice a month, and many patients got to know him: So when they went to Minneapolis for treatment, some of them would only have him do their surgery, or ask him for a second opinion before they agreed to specialized surgery (e.g. cardiac surgery, orthopedic surgery).

NotDeadYet, a disability rights group, describes this as "sysemic racism", but also points out that it is where people work that often makes them more vulnerable.
We Black folks are more likely to be essential workers – nurses, attendants, hospital technicians, public transit operators, sanitation workers and first responders. That brings us in contact with others who have been exposed to, or who actually have COVID-19. Most do not have access to personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and gowns, necessary to slow the spread of the disease.
Blacks are also more likely to live in poverty and not have health insurance, so when we get sick, we can’t go to the doctor. Since we receive inferior healthcare compared to Whites, especially in the treatment of diabetes, heart conditions and cancer – three conditions that make COVID-19 more likely to be fatal, we are dying at a much higher rate.

a similar lack of protection and refusal to be aggressive to defend their workers might be behind the outbreak in certain meat packing plants in the midwest.

Some have noted some of these are owned by China, but believe me, the problem is broader than that. Many Hispanics, including those without formal papers, work in the food processing industry, and now the employees might be from other immigrant groups.  Are they unionized? If not, why not? If they are, then why aren't the unions insisting on protective equipment. 

Employees might be afraid to complain about these things: When my son worked at one such plant years ago, he was told he had to work overtime. Yes, he said, at time and half pay. The supervisor said: no at regular pay, or we'll call "la Migra". My son is Hispanic but he is a US citizen who grew up in the USA and doesn't take much S--- so laughed in his face and told him off. But a person who grew up in another country where obedience to those above them or you will be punished would have simply obeyed and of course those without papers would be even less willing insist on their rights.

I read Trumpie boy might use a federal act to keep these plants open, meaning he will mandate protective equipment. from Instapundit:

Trump to Order U.S. Meat Plants to Stay Open Amid Pandemic. “President Donald Trump plans to order meat-processing plants to remain open as the nation confronts growing food-supply disruptions from the coronavirus outbreak, a person familiar with the matter said. Trump plans to use the Defense Production Act to order the companies to stay open as critical infrastructure, and the government will provide additional protective gear for employees as well as guidance, according to the person.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Musical interlude of the day

why things could be worse

the 1918 Spanish Flu and the black plague were bad, but did give populations time to recover, unlike the smallpox, influenza and hepatitis epidemics that wiped out a large percentage of the indigenous Americans because they came one after another...

indeed, the several epidemics that depopulated the western Roman empire and left it too weak to oppose the invasions of the barbarians changed history.

but there were many terrible epidemics in the past that could reappear.

DNA is settling the causes of previous  infections (justian's plague was bubonic plague, the plague of Athens was Typhoid). Luckily, these diseases can be treated today with antibiotics.

similarly, numerous epidemics of European diseases that killed much of the indigenous population in the Americas can be prevented with vaccines (e.g. measles, smallpox) or treated with antibiotics.

But one of the Mexican epidemics was an indigenous hemorrhagic fever named Cocliztli that was unknown to Europeans. from wikipedia:

There have been 12 epidemics that have been identified as potentially being of cocoliztli, with the largest ones being those in 1520, 1545, 1576, 1736, and 1813.[6] Soto et al. have hypothesized that a large scale outbreak of hemorrhagic fever could also have contributed to the earlier collapse of the Classic Mayan civilization (AD 750–950)
So what would happen if this disease reoccured and spread around the world?

But that is not the only mysterious disease that one finds in history:

And what would happen if there was a reoccurance of the sweating sickness, that killed people within 24 hours, and killed Henry VIII's older brother.

Personally, I worry that the reaction to the Corona virus is overdone, especially here in the third world: Because the danger of destroying jobs, destroying the supply chain to feed people living in cities, and the relapse of poverty, which kills via malnutrition and the inability to pay for medicines needed for chronic disease etc. is a much bigger danger than a disease that kills one percent of the population.

and even with China's territorial aggression, and their theft of intellectual property, selling shoddy goods, etc. one does not wish China to have a severe recession.

there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there that the NWO is taking advantage of the epidemic to work their nefarious plots.

I'm sure that this, like most conspriacy theories, has a nugget of truth in it that is exaggerated by the anxious and the paranoid (and certain folks who get rich pushing conspiracy theories).

But myself, I worry that the overreaction is a "test drive" for a future epidemic: Bird flu or a terrorist release of smallpox comes to mind, both of which have been "war gamed" by Johns Hopkins similar to their recent training session for a SARS like virus a few months before the Covid virus emerged, a meeting that was of course pounced on by conspiracy theorists who weren't aware that such meetings/disaster drills/ war games go on all the time in medicine and in the military.

so if you think Covid virus is bad, remember there are a lot more dangerous bugs out there that experts in public health are worried about:

it's just a matter of time...

Sunday, April 26, 2020

family news: sneezing at home

It's the hot season before the monsoon hits and cools things off in early June.

Both Joy and I are having problems with allergies: we live near the street so even though we clean our bedrooms every day, and Joy has a hepafilter air cleaner in her room and we both have hepafilters on or air conditioners, still we are sneezing away: we have to go out of the rooms to eat, to talk on the phone (bad signal inside our home, which has basalt walls), etc.

It's not just us: Our maid is having episodes of shortness of breath, chest pains, and thinks she is dying of a heart attack, since her brother died in his 30s of sudden cardiac death, and then she is diabetic. I checked her and suspect panic attacks due to menopause but gave her money to get an EKG tomorrow.

Why not today? Well, a lot of doctors are not seeing patients or are cutting back because of fear, so it's hard to get an appointment and there is no fulltime doctor in the local hospitals. One of our relatives developed shortness of breath  and got checked at a local private hospital, and was told to go into the hospital he needed 200 dollars deposit (usually the deposit was much less). Well, he is a musician in a marching band that plays for weddings, funerals, etc. and in lock down there is no work. (I should note that funerals frequently have music during the wake, which can last for days, and the band marches playing music in a funeral march from the church to the cemetery, about half a mile away. With the virus lockdown, such marches are forbidden, as are fiesta processions in the nieghborhoods).

well, I gave him 20 dollars and he went to the next town's government hospital and was admitted with a "heart attack", but tested negative for the virus. Presumably the family will hit me for more donations for his medicine when he is discharged.

20 dollars is not a lot of money for the USA but here the mimimum wage is seven dollars a day: You can live on that since families tend to have several people working and share expenses. But there is not a lot of money for emergencies, and that includes medicines for chronic diseases.

our province will be in lockdown through May 15... hopefully not longer, since the rice planting needs to start in May to plant in June when the rains come.

All of this explains why the prolonged lockdown for wuhanflu is likely to be more fatal than the actual disease.

And in the near future: Hunger, due to the inability to get supplies for farmers and then to get food to the markets in the cities, and the poverty of people out of work who won't be able to afford to buy food, or will not buy a well balanced diet (i.e. expect vitamin deficiency diseases to become common again).

here at home, we are self sufficient and are allowed to go to the farm: one more field and the harvest is done. Then comes the drying, packing, storing and repack to sell at the market.

one secretary lives here in our business compound with her family: low salary but meals and a small bedroom and of course the kids have the run of the place: Her husband, a tricycle driver, of course has no work since the demand for tricycles with the lockdown is low, so Kuya is hiring him to do gardening and cleaning so that he has a salary.

The secretary for Joy's rice business is using my good computer. We have two organic rice businesses: One for our rice, and Joy also supervises and teaches farmers i a coop in the neighborhood province for the Dept of Agri...well, that secretary usually uses my computer to do the accounting and other business stuff, but with the lockdown, she is working at home. So I am not doing much blogging, because I have to use my old Lenovo, a chinese built POS but never mind.

but with the lockdown there is no way to buy the needed computer (Yes, we have Levada etc. but who really trusts them ?)

the mayor here is giving out money and food, but in a lot of areas, that either isn't being done or the money is disappearing into someone's pocket... that helps for awhile, but I suspect that people will start complaining if they extend the lockdown again.

A good summary on the virus, from a geopolitical standpoint:

=== earlier discussions


Friday, April 24, 2020

he who must not be named

I have noted the increased bullying by China against the Philippines, including an aggressive stealing of our resources, during the wuhanvirus epidemic.

Austin Bay has an essay about China's moves against others while the world is busy with the epidemic.

as for the epidemic: He notes the conspiracy theorists are ignoring the real question:

I am absolutely certain hotheads around the planet believe the virus is a bio weapon, but there's no scientific evidence to support that claim.
However, man-made isn't the question. The pertinent question: Did the virus escape Wuhan's Level 4 (very high-risk) research lab via an incompetent technician who had a close encounter with a virus-ridden bat?This is a reasonable question for anyone to ask — anyone who is not getting cash from Beijing or is what Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong called " a useful idiot."
Another legit question that has yet to be answered: Why did CCP-Beijing lie about human-to-human transmissibility? Did the dictatorship want the rest of the world to suffer the physical and economic loss the Hubei province was suffering as of Jan. 20? (It may have been very bad as of Jan. 3.)
These are critical questions. Lives around the world have been lost, and more are at risk.
Instead of addressing these legitimate and grievous questions, China's dictatorship imprisons Hong Kong democracy advocates and employs slimy rhetorical gimmicks that would get a used car salesman in Amarillo, Texas, laughed out of town.
ah, but there are some stories that don't get covered, and others who bias the story to fit the meme, which is anti American (because the left wing takeover of the Democratic party is anti American) and is willing to subtly spread the Chinese propaganda. 

Useful idiots indeed.

that part about "useful idiots" is explained by this BBC program:

Useful idiots, in a broader sense, refers to Western journalists, travellers and intellectuals who gave their blessing – often with evangelistic fervour – to tyrannies and tyrants, thereby convincing politicians and public that utopias rather than Belsens thrived. In part one John Sweeney looks at Stalin's Western apologists. In part two he explores how present day stories of human rights abuses across the world are still rewritten.

we see a lot of this in the US MSM, alas.

every story about China's illegal aggression by building artificial islands in the West Philippine sea call it a "dispute", as if the world court didn't rule against them, and of course, ignoring history that it has been part of the Philippines for at least 500 years and that the part near Vietnam might have been considered part of China when that region was part of China, but last time I looked, the Vietnamese threw them out 300 years ago...

Yet the reporters always write the story as if China had a legitimate claim here.

and this problem goes beyond the Philippines: right now, as Austin Bay notes, they are threatening Taiwan and Hong Kong.

the Han people expanded into Taiwan a couple hundred years ago, and then part of the time Taiwan was owned by Japan. So is it part of China? One could say the same thing about Tibet, who was an independent country but invaded by China and is now being settled by Chinese who are running their economies and pushing Chinese culture.

But it goes beyond that: China is also threatening the borderlands with India.

Who's next? Well, China has long claimed Siberia, and in the recent past has expanded economic influence and immigrants to Eastern Russia, so it's only a matter of time until that domino starts being pushed... and Putin knows it.

Russia is a natural ally of Europe and the west, but never mind: now we are getting into the history of wars going back over a thousand years: Ottoman vs Russia vs western Europe vs Parthia vs China vs Arab. Americans don't study history, but other countries do.

and now: quick: How many stories have you read about the imprisonment of one million Uighars, the persecution of the Falun Gong, the shut down of Christian churches, and the latest: The arrest of the leaders of the Hong Kong democracy leaders.

Rejoice: Prickles has been found

Rejoice ye people:

Prickles the sheep has been found:

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Philippine news: wear your mask

We just got back from the bank: We have increased quarantine here, so can only go out to shop etc two days a week (Sunday and Thursday). That means I have to get the money for the food etc. today.

to go outside, you need a mask, and at the bank, the security guard gives you a number and you sit outside in the hot sun until it's your turn... only 4 people at a time inside the bank. They clean your hands on entering by spraying your hands with alcohol, and the guard inside checks your temperture by pointing a thermometer scanner at your forehead.

Then you you wait your tuwn to do your business.

I still can't get my US check cashed because there is no courier service to Manila office to process it, but wire transfers are being done.

What would we do without the internet and cellphones? They do help.

I live here free in my husband's house (I cannot own property in the Philippines, since I am not a citizen), but I help with household expenses by supplying food for everyone who works here. 

The cook buys food every day, except of course our rice, which we grow and sell so always have plenty of it here. I am not sure how she does this, since we were told they are being strict about only letting people shop two days a week, but I was told that this doesn't cover necessities, such as local fish, meat, fruit, carabao milk, local pandesal, and veggies that would otherwise spoil... but only only stuff you buy inside grocery stores... like coffee, cheese, soap, etc.

 I sent the maid to the grocery store for "extras" e.g. bread, coffee (3 in one by sachet i.e. single serving small packs), soap and bleach for cleaning clothes and floors and doggy accidents, was for the hardwood floors of the bedroos, etc. 

I also gave her money to buy  special formula for her nieces' babies: The niece had twins, and one is sickly and is on a special formula that costs 800 pesos for a week supply. Luckily she is much better, and starting to eat food. 

Child mortality is low, but we still hear of children who die from fevers (dengue, diarrhea, pneumonia, RSV) and now every death is blamed on the virus. But I worry: Because in the hot season, those with diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure are at risk. And with the shutdown and job loss, many can't afford their medicines.


More people were on the street today than last time I ventured out, maybe because everyone in our "barangay" is shopping today. A lot of farm/agri/animal feed stores seemed to be busy. The "wet market" i.e. palenke to buy meat and fish, was stinking today: I could smell it from the street, which is unusual this early in the morning even in hot season. I hope we don't have food poisoning: But the cook tends to over cook our food, meaning a lot of it ends up being given to the cats. And cats won't eat rotten food, so we figure if the cat is willing to eat it, it is fresh enough for us.

Right now, our business compound is quiet: The workers are busy at the farm, but in other times they are busy repairing farm machinery here (the expensive tools are kept here in our garage, because things tend to "walk away" or get borrowed in the Philippines).

Tag-Init is here, meaning the hot season before the rainy season/monsoon begins.
Brownouts should start soon, but so far we have not had problems with electricity, water, cable tv or internet.

In the evening, we have started watching TV in my bedroom, which has the large screen TV.

With the "google home" attachment, I can stream Youtube videos to our TV from my tablet instead of streaming from the computer or from a downloaded copy on a thumb drive. When Lolo was still alive, we used to watch a lot of DVD on our old tv, that I would rip and burn so Lolo could watch nature shows after his hearing got too bad to follow films without subtitles.

Right now, we are watching K dramas or old movies, including Agatha Christie movies that a guy in Lebanon is posting with Arab subtitles (until the internet cops find it and remove them again). Reading comments on his site is interesting, since he reports a lot of people there are hurting from the virus and many of  comments thank him for posting something to watch while stuck at home and add comments on how their countries are doing.

In other words, the "virus" horror and lock down is world wide, and the problems it is causing outside the US is not usually recognized by the MSM there, to my frustration. However, the internet is around, and one can find information by checking in on overseas news sources. 

For example, the BBC finally had an article about the danger of hunger in the near future in Africa: not just the lockdown and collapse of the supply chain, but locusts..., and AlJ has a lot of articles about various countries.

South America is affected too...My son reported his brother in Colombia said only a few cases had been treated in their small mountain city, but said that the government officials supposed to give aid to folks in lockdown were stealing the money..., and it's no just his town: I ran across an article that reported the same thing so it's not just his town. 

Corruption kills, especially in emergencies.


China is using the emergency that they caused to continue their aggression in the West Philippine sea.

And Happy Earth day Greens: They are continuing to dig up the seabeds to extend their artificial islands without you opening your mouth to protest it, in the same way you aren't protesting when they send their factory ships to over fish the seas as far south as Indonesia.

The latest? when one local senator here protested their destruction of the environment, the Chinese embassy pushed back and warned him to shut up. From the Inquirer:

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese Embassy in Manila slammed as “ridiculously absurd” and “irresponsible” the remarks of a senator that China should pay up for the cost of the Philippines’ COVID-19 response as compensation for damaging the latter’s reef ecosystems. “At this trying time, it is ridiculously absurd and irresponsible to make such remarks for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains,” the embassy said in a statement on Wednesday...
“China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors across the sea,” the embassy continued. Reports say that the Asian powerhouse continues its reclamation activities in contested areas in the South China Sea even as the world grapples with the crisis brought about by COVID-19, which first broke out in China’s Wuhan City, Hubei province, late last year.
more here about their slow march to take over the West Philippine sea that has been part of VietNam and the Philippines according to both history and international law.

China has also arrested some of the leaders of the Hong Kong democracy protests, and is busy pushing lies about the source of the virus and infiltrating Facebook and the social media to promote social unrest in the USA etc.

 in the meanwhile, Trumpieboy called Duterte and promised to send aid.

Duterte stopped the US training here and hates the CIA, who has been trying to push the opposition to him under the guise of human rights problems with the drug war (just ignore that crime is down and ordinary people are safer, so Duterte is popular among the non elites here.).

from CNNPH

The American Embassy in Manila announced Wednesday that the U.S. government has increased its donations to the country to provide for laboratory and specimen-transport systems, and to help health professionals enhance case-finding and disease surveillance.
The funding will also aid Filipino and international technical experts in risk communication, infection prevention and control efforts, hand washing and hygiene promotion, and community-level preparedness response, it added.

Outside of the elite, most Filipinos distrust China, partly because the oligarchy of rich families has Chinese ancestry.

So ignore the propaganda about a rift in the relationship:  locals prefer the Americans to the Chinese, and it's common knowledge that China's newspapers have had articles in them insisting that Luzon was once part of China and hinting that it should be part of China in the future.

Monday, April 20, 2020

smirking WTF: the US press is missing the big story

Every morning I watch the news conference about the virus, to see if anything is new (usually not, but never mind).

Today, a female reporter from CBS kept pushing the Democratic talking points that Trumpieboy didn't tell the country there was a dangerous epidemic, as if he deliberately ignored the problem (duh) and he of course answered testily how he closed the country to flights from China against advice, at which point she said he didn't stop Americans from flying in from China etc etc.

Must push talking points...

The problem? The infobabe was smirking the entire time... and of course, she wasn't asking for information, just asking snide questions that he had answered many times before. Why waste time this way? To embarrass him (and by implication the entire CDC who after all did advise him).

reality check: in the midst of an emergency, people try their best: And here that means a lot of government people. Outsiders who criticize people trying their best come across to us who have been in such situations not only as naive, but mean spirited.

sort of like this:

Watching too many in the US press (and Chinese press) smirk and pushing agendas is why it is valuable to watch the actual news conference than read about it: because seeing a smirk lets you know they are not being serious about the emergency, but playing a game of "gotcha".

I felt like shaking her and shouting in her face: Lady, the entire country is facing problems, and instead of trying to find information on how to fix things, or if there are new hotspots, or which areas might open up the economy to prevent societal collapse, etc. you are acting like this news conference is merely a convenient way to destroy Trumpieboy.

Please learn your craft; Ask about the problems and how to solve them, and then write information to us peons about this instead of gaslighting us with fake talking points that any 7th grader could google and find they are fake.

The second problem? The latest talking point is that Trumpieboy didn't tell the US people there was a problem. 

There is a good reason to investigate why many levels of the government failed in their job, but making the entire epidemic about Trump seems to be political. It also means that the spotlight on the systematic failure to figure out what was going on on Trump rather than on China (are the talking points influenced by China to shift blame? )

But this begs the question: Did the highest level of government give the president reliable information and did he ignore it? 

Or were there many different people advising about possible problems and different scenerios, and he had to chose which one to implement?

There is a good reason to think this latest talking point, i.e. that Trump ignored medical advice, is fake: Because if that had happened it would have been leaked back then, and it wasn't.

Indeed, the only leaks were suggesting xenophobia was the reason for shutting down flights.

But I wonder too: Why didn't the US MSM shout about the danger of the virus that was spreading and how dangerous it was? Isn't that their job? Every news show on the cable networks could have reported the rumors about the virus which Chinese doctors  were posting about it on the web, including the worry it was spread person to person. This WAS reported: But only if you looked hard. 

and of course the press could have pushed the importance of distancing and avoiding crowded rooms etc. so that the Chinese new year celebrations and the Mardi Gras would not have been held.

as the meme goes: You had one job to do, (report news) and you didn't do it.
China blew it: like Chernobyl,  no one wanted to recognize how serious things were, and local authorities thought if they ignored it it would go away and they wouldn't have to report it to Beijing.
The rule is never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity: however, it was the clumsy coverup that has spawned conspiracy theories about that biolab.

but of course, the Chinese weren't the only ones willing to ignore what was going on.

the WHO didn't do their job either.

The WHO has done good jobs elsewhere, but the dirty little secret is that some folks there are corrupt, (2017 AP Article has details) so one does wonder if they were stupid enough to ignore hints about person to person spread (i.e. many doctors and nurses dying suggest it' wasn't bat stew alone causing the problem)

All the western governments should have noticed what was going on, but they didn't: and I suspect it was because they had faulty information. Sure, the official story is blame China, but let's have a reality check:

A lot of CIA/intelligence work is reading local news and checking on economic and political activity, so why didn't one of their analysts notice locals were becoming worried about an outbreak of an influenza/SARS type pneumonia? especially since the local biolab which was doing research with dangerous viruses and had a bad safety record ... 

after all this systemic failure, it's no wonder conspiracy theories abound.

True, but it's easy to see these things afterward: in the midst of an epidemic, it's like the fog of war. What needs to be done if reform: of WHO, of various public health offices, and yes, of intelligence gathering priorities.

As for the spread of the flu: another reason it might have been underestimated is the "chicken little" problem of predicting disasters: Many possible outbreaks that go nowhere. and if you predict too many that don't become true, people will ignore your warnings when "The big one" actually comes.

the Swine flu epidemic of 1967 comes to mind... this LATimes article from 2009 discusses that epidemic, and the ramifications of over reacting to a threat. That article is about the 2009 influenza epidemic, but it could be written about why so many were cautious at over reacting to this threat.

No one person is to blame (even in China, the mindset of midlevel bureaucrats in Wuhan were probably too dumb to recognize the threat so didn't report it to Beijing, sort of like how the locals in Chernobyl under reacted to the threat for days).

But there is another reason I am angry at the US MSM: they are ignoring the famines that will threaten much of the poorer areas of the world in about six months time.

Shut down in the USA will cause a depression, but in poorer countries, people will die, because people won't have jobs to buy food, and because supply chain delays will make food unavailable.

There are quite a few articles on this on AlJezeerah and a few articles on the BBC on this.

The Philippines, for example, is short of rice: We have to import rice. The "hunger season" is coming up: The month when farmers are planting but have eaten or sold the rice from the last harvest.

So usually imported rice supplements local rice.

But the ships with rice from India etc. are sitting there waiting to have their loads removed, but they can't: Because the shutdown means not enough people working: The bureaucrats who process the importation papers are not working because they work in offices which are closed. The roadblocks mean delays.

one result, says Joy, is a lot of the ships turned around and took their cargo back home.

LINK StraitsTimes, Singapore newspaper has an article on the logistics of the problem, which is not limited to the Philippines.

The port backlogs that have crippled food shipments around the world for weeks are not getting much better. In fact, in some places, they are getting worse. In the Philippines, officials at a port that is a key entry point for rice said last week that the terminal is at risk of shutting as thousands of shipping containers pile up because lockdown measures are making them harder to clear. Hubs like Singapore and Shanghai have halted crew transfers to prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, curfews in Guatemala and Honduras, known for their specialty coffees, are limiting operating hours at ports and slowing shipments. In parts of Africa, which is heavily dependent on food imports, there are not enough workers showing up to help unload cargo. The port choke points are just the latest example of how the virus is snarling food production and distribution across the globe.
Trucking bottlenecks, sick plant workers, export bans and panic buying have all contributed to why shoppers are seeing empty grocery store shelves, even as ample supplies are available. Food moves from farm to table through a complicated web of interactions. So problems for even just a few ports can ripple through to create troubling slowdowns.

LINK: many countries are hoarding their own rice and stopping exports for fear of famine.

Here, we need a pass to shop at the grocery stores etc: Two days a week for each barangay, Our days are Sunday and Thursday. And I saw more cops on the street, and more blocked roads to stop and check traffic.

but there are more and more news stories about people wanting to loosen the shutdown, especially in areas with few cases.

Duterte, like Trumpieboy, has frequent news conferences to keep people up to date. But the Inquirer notes he will soon be meeting with experts to see if he can start reopening the economy after April 30.

the original date was April 15...but they extended it and made it even more strict in our area.

 Indeed we were told the reason for the increased strictness  in the lockdown here was to stop transmission so they could reopen the economy on April 30.

We only have 5000 cases, and only a couple hundred deaths, (plus a thousand cases in OFW overseas) but since ten percent of the deaths are medical personnel, one can see that the problem is probably more common.

Ah, but what about those who are sick with other diseases, or now can't afford to buy their blood pressure or diabetes medicines? And what about "elective surgery" and those needing cancer treatment or dialysis?

the results of  prolonged quarantine might be a lot worse than thousands of deaths from the virus: hunger, other infectious diseases, and civil unrest


Friday, April 17, 2020

still in lockdown: Hunger is coming

Each morning, I watch the wuhanflu press conference(usually via Youtube) while I surf the net. Usually I stream it from CSPAN so I don't have to put up with commentary that gaslights viewers to ignore what they just heard.

earlier this week I laughed at the hysterical MSM in the US who were reacting with horror when Trumpieboy said he would  be in charge of reopening the US economy, not the governors.

Put MSM outrage articles here.

i.e. he was trolling them to fill the 24 hour news cycle with outrage against the dictator Trump who is not letting the governors rule their own states, at which point he will "pull a rabbit out of his hat" and voila, a plan to let the governors reopen their own states

So today, the task force opened with a long plan to reopen the US economy, to be run by the governors (since each state has different populations and geography this makes sense.) And of course, since such guidelines take time to devise...Hmm... 

At the newsconference, the Michigan demonstration was condemned of course, even though driving a closed car doesn't spread infection. But from discussion boards, it wasn't the stay at home order per se that made them upset, but because the governor put out absurd orders such as stopping you from buying things that are available inside the stores you visit if she decided you don't need them: e.g. plant seeds.

fox video here does talk to the protesters.

People wanting to plant a garden are not in danger of spreading infection either, especially in suburban or rural areas, and this was the last straw for many of them. This petty over reach was the cause of the anger, but was not mentioned in most of the news articles, even though it could easily have been found if anyone bothered to check.

here in the Philippines, people are also getting upset. 

Duterte is threatening to shoot them, but if people get angry enough, that won't stop them (here, demonstrations are a way of life, and if people get angry enough they won't require the usual 500 peso fee to go out and vent their feelings in public demonstrations).

but the main problem is the hassle at trying to do shopping etc. Basic food is available here since we are in a rice and vegetable growing area, but we are having trouble finding things that come from Manila.

Here, they are getting stricter: I guess the grocery stores were too crowded, (you stay outside to keep the numbers inside down, and of course have to wear a mask).

So now we are going to be given a pass to go out only on certain days: Our barangay (neighborhood) is Sunday and Thursday. This is to stop the daily shopping for food and commodities that crowd the stores.

The problem? Most poor people don't have refrigerators, and shop every day.

my main problem is getting my checks processed at the bank: I get my IRA check by mail, and the latest one took 2 months to get to me, but there are no couriers to take checks from our bank to the Manila branch, so I can't cash that check or a personal check from my US bank to transfer my SS. I did get my American bank to wire me money (electronic transfer is more expensive but can be done) so I am okay for now. 

But what about our rental properties in Manila? They might miss payments meaning we lose that income too. So money is tight.

In the meanwhile, Kuya is back harvesting rice, so we will have income... we usually sell it as our own brand, but with all the difficulty shipping rice to market and getting paid for it, he will probably sell some of it directly to the rice dealers so we have some income to plant the next crop in June.

There is a shortage of rice due to the drought in Vietnam and Thailand, so rice dealers are calling him asking for his crop to tide them over until they can find rice (the main planting season is June; the present harvest is the dry season harvest, for those who have irrigation).

if there is no change, things will become bad in the near future as prices go up. But the Government usually keeps the price of rice down for those with a card who are registered as poor.

Yes, there are officially 5000 cases of wuhanflu here in the Philippines and probably many more. But right now, the experts have decided that Luzon will stay on lockdown through mid May, and things will get worse for the poor who are out of work, and people can die of other things: people who aren't earning money won't be able to afford their high blood pressure or diabetes medicine, for example, or people who throw out their dogs because they can't afford to feed them means more dog bites and maybe more rabies cases. 

If you are a dog lover, don't come here: The stray dogs will break your heart... and they are also a rabies danger.

The big worry is about the ability to prepare the fields for the main summer harvest if they can't get fertilizer, seedlings, etc. for the fields. 

Joy is arranging another delivery of rice to Manila this weekend and has bought protective face masks for them to use when they take the rice out of the truck. (they already use masks).

there are rumors that the elderly with the virus are being neglected in hospitals here: One old lady died at the regional hospital and relative claim she wasn't treated properly.

Note: We don't have a lot of ICU beds here, so that might be true. But I have been kept inside and haven't talked with Angie or the other relatives who work at the local hospital so I don't really know what's going on.

So the economic collapse is the real story, not a mild but very infectious virus...And not just in the Philippines... there could be starvation deaths all over the world because of this epidemic shutting down the economy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020



Musical interlude of the day

News update: disease could lead to famine

where did the smart phones go?


hmm.. the Wuhan flu conspiracy theory is slowly being noticed outside of conspiracy sites.


Professor Podles thoughts in quarantine. there are good medical reasons that the churches are shut, but they are doing a lousy job at explaining why such evil occurs in the world:

I do not want the churches to say we are being afflicted for specific sins, whether abortion or racism. But we should be gently but firmly reminded that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that our life is short, and ways of life can be gone with the wind, and we can be one with Nineveh and Tyre. Such sobriety makes us humble, and God does not despise the humble.
But is Pope Francis doing this? He has an idée fixe about the environment, and says Nature is mad at us and has sent the virus. This is not the response of a Christian, and is also nonsense, because the virus has nothing to do with climate change or environmental damage.

Catholicism, following the advice of Paul to accept anything that is good, has "baptized" or revised many pagan practices to make them compatible with Christianity, but the deification of nature as if nature was a vengeful being is pantheism, not Christian,

The Pope pushes pagan eco theology, ignoring the presence of Jesus who understands our sufferings and allows evil to push us to reexamine our lives and repent.

Is he pagan? well, including the black bowl of pagan worship during his mass suggests maybe.


StragegyPage discusses the impact of the Wuhanvirus on the US military and on the various wars around the world.


Trump and the reporters yesterday were sparring if he had authority over the governors. This puzzled me because earlier they were criticizing him for letting the governors decide what to do, and now they are criticizing him  for saying he is in charge of the reopening of the country.

So now the NYTimes reports the governors will oppose Trumpieboy here and do what they feel is right.

hmm...sounds like the " don't throw me into the briar patch" strategy of negotiations aka the art of the deal.


in the Philippines, we are supposed to stay locked down until May 15.

But Sy insists that a partial opening of the economy is needed if they want to save jobs.

The danger is that hunger will kill more people than the virus: 

and for us, usually the farmers start preparing the fields for planting in June when the monsoon rains start, but if there is a lockdown, how will they get hold of the needed insecticide/ fertilizer etc.?

another problem: Many of our OFW are caregivers, working on ships, or in the health care field and quite a few have died. Some of these businesses will shut down, meaning fewer wages to be sent home.

health care workers are in danger: in the Philippines, ten percent of cases are in these workers,

One of my nieces in the UK works anesthesia and intubates patients for ventillators, but has tested negative, thank God. But I worry about her parents, (an my other relatives) who work in hospitals or are caregivers for the elderly, 


no, I am not working as a doctor here: I simply do not have the physical stamina to work as a physician anymore, although I do order simple medicines for staff when they are sick.

I mentioned UV light, an old practice we used to use in hospitals, could be used to stop the virus, especially on surfaces.

LATimes article on this. Heh. someone finally noticed.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Joyful Easter to all

Jesus feasting with the street kids 

Usually I can't stand the overly sweet Jesus one usually sees, but Joey Valesco paints a Pinoy Christ among his people.

Here in the Philippines, usually Easter is a time of reunion  with family and friends including eating together.

however, with the Island wide lockdown in Luzon, things are quiet.

No singing of the "Pasyon" in chapels in the middle of the side streets.

No visiting churches on Holy Thursday.

And alas, no visiting relatives for a family feast.

Lots of people coming for rice and/or money to buy food or medicine (for chronic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes) because they are out of work.

I sort of like Easter: it reminds me:

oh grave where is thy victory
death where is thy sting?

As a physician, I have seen many deaths, and too much sorrow.

One of my medical school teachers reminded us that few doctors are "pious" as defined by many churches (being active in church activity, pushing our religion on patientss by praying with them when they didn't ask us to do this).

but, he said, most doctors believe there is a God, or Higher power, and that there is a meaning behind each life and death.

For we see many who should live, but die despite our best efforts.

But we also see miracles, where people live that logically should have died or not recovered because we knew our treatments were probably futile but we tried anyway...

We also see the chronically ill who bear their sufferings with courage, and the families who care for sick and handicapped loved one. (at a time when too many holier than thou preachers condemn Americans for being selfish, it should give them pause to remember there are 30 million caregivers who help care for family and friends, and this doesn't count those who visit the elderly in their own homes or in Nursing homes to help them in their daily lives.

this goes against the idea many "intellectual leaders" are pushing: That those of a certain age, whose intellectual capacities are falling, or who cannot do meaningful work, should just shuffle off the planet and let the healthy and strong be free of their burden... 

So the elites pushing the newfangled "medical ethics" who push the idea that the elderly should just die pretend that the idea would stop there" which is why the the deathmaking branch of medical ethics has eagerly jumped  out of the closet under the name of "rationing" of "scarce medical resouces" during the covid virus epidemic

But it wouldn't stop with the elderly,of course. It would soon apply to those who are handicapped, or mentally ill, or have a severe substance abuse problem, or are in jail, or people in poor countries, or... well, the list is endless. Right not it is pushed as a panacea to the depressed elderly as a voluntary thing, but just wait...

Yet here in Asia, the elderly are honored for their wisdom, and caring for them is seen as part of the "circle of life": a loving obligation we owe to them, knowing that our own children will care for us in a similar manner, just as we cared for our own children when they were small and helpless.

There is a reason for every life, although we may not recognize that reason we must cling to hope that there is a pattern, or karma, or reason for everything that happens.

ah, but what is the reason that a child or an elder, who is profoundly handicapped is still a blessing for those around them?

Author Pearl Buck, whose daughter was mentally handicapped from PKU, notes:

“[by] this most sorrowful way I was compelled to tread, I learned respect and reverence for every human mind. It was my child who taught me to understand so clearly that all people are equal in their humanity and that all have the same human rights. None is to be considered less, as a human being, than any other, and each must be given his place and a safety in the world. I might never have learned this in any other way. I might’ve gone on in the arrogance of my own intolerance for those less able than myself. My child taught me humanity.” ~Pearl S. Buck, The Child Who Never Grew, 2nd edition

But, alas, death wins in the end.

Or does it?

Because Easter reminds us that we too will live again.

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

John Donne

Saturday, April 11, 2020

the Guardian Goblin

we're out of films right now, and I have started streaming K dramas to watch at night.

The most recent one is Goblin, no not a western goblin but a guardian spirit who interferes with people's lives when in crisis, to put them on a better path.

we're not finished it yet, so I don't know if they marry, but I suspect they don't live happily ever after.

third world coronavirus

it's easy to find reports about the US fight against Wuhan flu, but not easy to find what's going on elsewhere in the world.

We are shut down. Our mayor gave a sack of rice (and a live chicken until he ran out of chickens) to every family.

this is a help for the poor, although we still have a lot of people coming to the door for rice or money to buy food. And some towns, the mayors either don't have the money to do this, or have diverted the aid money (or are suspected to have diverted the money but didn't, but are considered guilty anyway).

when hunger strikes, expect riots or worse.

In our town, all those over 65 were given ten dollars (500 pesos). I didn't want it, but the staff insisted I take it (and of course I promptly gave it to the cook, whose family is huge and many are tricycle drivers out of work).

I didn't know we also got a sack of rice: apparently the handyman/janitor of our business signed for it at he door, and took it home for his family (or I should say, families... he has a second wife on the side).

This upset the cook and the secretary (who lives here and we pay for her family's food) who wanted it for their families. 

Kuya is out on the farm helping with the harvest for our fields and those of our subcontracted farmers (i.e. supplying the harvester/ thresher for the smaller farmers) and supervising the drying and bagging of the rice. We sell our own brand of organic rice, which requires a different form of cultivation and weeding, but land reform means the family's traditional land was "sold" to the farmers who worked the land many years ago. But there is still the relationship there, and so many are subcontracted to grow our rice.

Our town is completely shut down, but the harvest is the harvest and won't wait.

The worry is that there will be a rice shortage during the "hunger season", i.e. in the time when farmers have eaten their rice and spent their money from the last harvest, but the new crop isn't ready yet.

our subcontracted farmers will come to us for loans, but the independent and small farmers, many. of whom also have jobs in town and are out of work will be short of money. The help from family members working overseas are needed to keep them from dire poverty.

Not just the Philippines: I read the president of Mexico has asked his people working in the USA to continue to send money to their families during the shutdown.

Trumpieboy discussed the oil industry agreement in his last press conference: but it's not just US oil workers whose jobs are at risk from the low price of oil, but countries in the Middle East, who run the oil fields with the help of overseas workers from India, Pakistan and the Philippines etc. So you can see how the slowing of the global economy affects many.

It's not just the virus: the Philippines is not independent for food, and imports a lot of rice from Vietnam: but Vietnam and Thailand are having a drought, and might not have a lot of cheap rice to sell.

as for fish: the recent bans on fishing because of overfishing (mainly by Chinese factory boats, but never mind: The Philippines is easier to blame) to protect the environment is now made worse by forbidding fishing because....virus.

as for us; most of the fresh fish we eat are talapia and other fish farmed locally.

COVID-19 CASES BREAKDOWN (PH) (as of April 9, 2020 - 4:00 PM) CONFIRMED CASES: 4,076 RECOVERED: 124 DEATHS: 203 

as opposed to the less  publicized but widespread Dengue fever:

Philippines health officials have reported 25,502 dengue fever cases through Feb. 8, including 78 deaths during the first six weeks of the year.

Virtueonline, an Anglican website, has posted an article about the virus in Africa: not a lot of numbers next to the many thousands who die from malaria or other common diseases, but the pressure to use western style prevention methods might make things worse.

and yes, many of these countries will stop planting the next crop for prevention of virus spread:

Pastor Campos Afonso's report from churches in Angola is repeated throughout the continent where most states are in lockdown. The President of Angola declared a quarantine and State of Emergency from 27 March-11 April. All church meetings are closed. Pastors, leaders and members are observing the measures in their homes to combat the virus from spreading.
If the lockdown situation of COVID-19 continues it will affect the 2020 harvest because people will not be able to work in the fields. The lockdown means a shortage of work, tools and transport to take products from the countryside to the cities.
Lack of transport also means people cannot get from the cities to work on their family land to gather the harvest. Products collected this year will rot in the fields. New seeds will be in short supply for cultivation in the next year.
People are consuming the products that were being reserved as seeds for planting in 20202021 after having sold the December and January production. Most have nothing to eat in this period of isolation. Many could die of hunger instead of being killed by COVID-19. Locals say that church intervention is needed to help the most vulnerable people and poor Christians.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Nothing going on here, folks just move along

what? no bats sold in that "wet market"?

headsup Instapundit

the continual lies and deception, including punishing whistleblowers, are  main reason that supports that the wuhanflu came out of the biolab, probably accidental from being sloppy.

I have worked public health: When you have a cluster of infections, you report it. When there were six cases of unknown viral pneumonia in Wuhan hospitals in December, there should have been a "headsup" to investigate what was gonig on, not a punishment of a doctor who posted about it on the social media.

Everyone here in Asia are aware of the poor quality control in what we buy from China: And this covers accidental contamination of toys/dogfood/medicine... and what is worse, the deliberate practice of using cheap, toxic ingredients or making substandard products to make a profit.

the best way to understand the mindset of covering up something to "save face" is to watch the miniseries Chernobyl, where everyone was lying about what had happened to keep it a secret, until they realized that the West knew about it anyway, and then a few honest people insisted on recognizing the reality of what was happening.

The fact that China did not stop millions from leaving the Wuhan area for Chinese new year means that no one was willing to admit there was a problem: They were still insisting that it was not spread "person to person" even at the end of January when Trumpieboy shut down flights from China and was broadly condemned by China, the WHO, and a lot of liberals in the US MSM.

In the meanwhile, China has expanded their aggression in the West Philippine sea: they just deliberately sank a Vietnamese fishing boat.

 (which is why I condemned the hysteria of that aircraft carrier captain who had just visited VietNam... instead of coping and disinfecting, he essentially took one of the most important Naval assets in the area out of commission.)


Austin Bay discusses China's increased aggression in the west Philippine sea while the world is preoccupied with the Wuhan virus,

more HERE:

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Covid set to music

Conspiracy theories

Lots of crazy conspiracy theories out there:

Guess who was behind the epidemic's spread? This is a left wing conspiracy theory, and of course most of them are from those with TDR (trump derangement syndrome), aka the Hollywood/MSM axis that blames Trump for everything: although one suspects that China friendly trolls are pushing these stories, since China has been posting such theories on Facebook.

But on the right, the evil person of the week is Bill Gates.

evil bill gates is planning to give you a shot to make you a zombie. pushed by the anti vaxxers of course. 

One reason is that he said he was funding vaccines to lower the population.

This is weird, because Gates has funded vaccines that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives by funding vaccine outreach projects (especially measles vaccines, a big child killer in poor countries) 

So at first glance Gates saying his vaccines would cut the rate of population increase was interpreted as saying the vaccine was a birth control by stealth.

Hello: I worked in these types of jobs for most of my life. Let me explain how things work.

If you have time, Hans Rosling gives a good summary of how giving vaccines to keep children alive leads to people having fewer kids and cut population growth:

summary: in the past poor people lost  a lot of kids. So a village woman would have eight kids because she knew she'd lose some of them,  say four would die or become disabled from disease or accidents. That would leave 4: two would be girls who would leave to live with their husband's family. So that left two boys, and maybe one would stay home to take care of the parents in their old age.

Children don't cost much to raise: They can be put to work in the farm or herding the goats.

But in the modern world, nutrition is better, so fewer die of malnutrition, from simple diarrhea or pneumonia, or from tb, and vaccines mean you won't lose your children to measles, tetanus, diphtheria or end up with a kid crippled from polio.

Meaning if you have eight kids, you end up with the expense of raising eight kids: and with things changing, raising kids is now more expensive.

Because now your kids go to school: because you recognize that school is the way out of the back breaking poverty of simple village life.

so moms, knowing most of their kids will now live, figure they don't need to risk their lives having eight kids, and quickly decide they only want to have three or four.

But then women get an education and get a job, and often people move to the city, so women decide to have only one or two kids.

voila, population growth goes down as it has in East Asia and Europe and even Muslim countries like Iran and Turkey. (I use the word Growth, because the the population does continue to grow due to more older people, because folks no longer die at 40 but now live to be 65 or older, even in most poor countries).

Hence: vaccines lower the population growth and make people richer (destroying the environment but that's another story). Given enough time, the population will even stablize (maybe by the end of the 21st century).

hence, the conspiracy theorists are not seeing the entire picture, maybe because the press continues to push variations of the "population bomb means poor people must be sterilized against their will" propaganda.

All the conspiracy theories have a grain of truth in them, but they take a small defect and make it the whole story, ignoring the big story.

 Sort of like how the Dengue vaccine here killed a few kids so parents stopped all vaccines, leading to cases of polio, diphtheria and a couple hundred deaths from measles. Yet the backlash also ignored that vaccine probably did cut the death rate for Dengue which is very common here.

Conspiracy theories of various sorts go back centuries if not thousands of years.

But on TV, I get disgusted that the press seems to be pushing controversy to get viewers instead of giving information in a balanced way.

you know, watching the MSM push "gotcha" questions at Trump's news conference is disgusting: He fights them back, which is almost as bad for making things more polite, but then Bushyboy was polite and couldn't get his side of the story reported, whereas Trump tweets and everyone laughs and now knows his side of the story. 

Today he is being accused of not seeing a memo telling him to shut the flights from China, even though he closed the flights from China and took a lot of flack for it.

I sort of missed their point.

Yesterday, he caught a reporter spouting propaganda in the form of a question, and Trump pointed out she worked for China (she denied this, but her organization is essentially run by that government).

Trumpieboy is also pushing against the WHO who did not handle the epidemic but went along with China's "nothing to see here, folks, just move along" (i.e. it wasn't spread person to person) denial that it was a danger of spreading. Most of the questions are hostile to Trumpieboy, not the WHO of course.

By the way, I have noted that the WHO response in the Ebola epidemic was good: But their response to Wuhanflu was tainted by political correct propaganda pushed by China.