Corona unmasks the West
by Tobias Bolt
[This article published on 3/24/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, Corona demaskiert den Westen.]
Corona demaskiert den Westen
Westliche Sanktionen terrorisieren zahlreiche Länder - der Virus-Krise zum Trotz. Mächtige Staaten treten die in...
Western sanctions are terrorizing numerous countries - despite the virus crisis. Powerful states are trampling on international solidarity. At the same time, Chinese aid shipments to the EU are sabotaged. Meanwhile, Cuba sends its doctors to the crisis areas and Russia helps Italy. The current (additional) erosion of the reputation of the EU and the USA is breathtaking. In addition, neo-liberalism, which is particularly destructive in the crisis, is coming under scrutiny. Even the "Manager Magazin" has to admit: "The system question is on the table and the West is not doing well. By Tobias Riegel.
The inhumanity of Western economic sanctions hidden behind the phrases of democracy becomes even clearer than at other times in the wake of the distortions caused by the Corona crisis. Oskar Lafontaine in this article and Albrecht Müller in this article have just noted this finding on the NachDenkPage. The corona situation in Iran, which has been considerably aggravated by the US sanctions, has been described by the Pillar of Thought in this article.
In this article, the controversy about the medical risk potential of the virus and about the appropriateness of the reactions should be left out, also because the global social dynamics that have now been sparked off are having an effect anyway - partly independent of the outcome of the current scientific/social debate about mortality rates etc.
The Double Moral Poverty Testimony of the West
In the context of corona and sanctions, the US medium "Grayzone" describes a double moral indictment of rich Western states: namely the contrast between Western coercive measures on the one hand and the nevertheless existing readiness to help of the countries affected by sanctions on the other hand:
"The sanctions imposed by the United States on dozens of countries around the world in an attempt to overthrow their independent governments have only exacerbated the global coronavirus pandemic. But at the same time, some of these nations targeted by U.S. economic warfare have taken the lead in efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak."
And so Italy has asked Cuba and Venezuela for medical help for coronavirus - and while the EU has not responded adequately to Italian calls for help, Chinese and Cuban aid has already arrived in Italy. Russia also wants to send material and personnel to Italy. Calls for help to China are also echoing from Germany, as described by "Der Spiegel". While countries such as France, Greece, Spain and Italy are accepting Chinese offers of help, Germany is refusing to help, as RT reports. Other EU countries are even stopping Chinese aid deliveries, according to the Russian state broadcaster.
"Crisis state Venezuela" - If the sanctions are concealed
The inhumane and hypocritical character of Western economic sanctions against countries that want to choose their own ways of doing politics has long been known to informed and critical citizens. In the current situation, this awareness can possibly reach a wider population. Fabian Goldmann recently described the destructive effect of the sanctions on "Deutschlandfunk" under the title "War by other means":
"As in Iran. There, Trump's campaign of "maximum pressure" has not led to a better nuclear deal, but instead to a shortage of cancer drugs and food. As in Venezuela, where as a result of the US oil embargo of August 2017, more than 40,000 people have probably already died due to a lack of medical care. As in North Korea, where international sanctions are partly responsible for the fact that millions of people are once again threatened by famine. As in Syria, where the EU sanctions policy has also contributed to the collapse of the health system and the food supply, and even aid organizations have had to stop working because of the coercive measures".
As a current example of distorted and abridged reporting, one can refer to reports on the "crisis state of Venezuela", such as this article on the "Tagesschau": The article enumerates the consequences of the sanctions without mentioning the sanctions themselves in a word - or the aid refused by the IMF. Thus, the sanctions violations are indirectly blamed on the Venezuelan government. For further background and information on Western sanctions regimes, please refer to the article in "Grayzone" cited above. The NachDenkSeiten recently reported on a UN initiative to outlaw economic sanctions in principle.
The ambassadors of solidarity today come from Cuba, China and Russia
The rudeness with which some Western states are currently (additionally) ruining their own international reputation seems frivolous. And it is not only their own reputation that is being threatened: at the same time as national reputations, the EU as a political idea is also being deprived of the last vestige of its aura. The speed of the (additional) erosion of the reputation of the EU and the USA is breathtaking. Doesn't the defeat in the field of propagandistic self-representation seem sensitive to China, for example? The new ambassadors of humanity are thus no longer the messengers of freedom and market economy from the West, which have always been a media myth. These ambassadors today apparently come from Cuba, China and Russia.
At the same time, it may be that broad sections of the population are now finally beginning to perceive what has always shouted to the skies, but which has been covered up by democracy in phrases: The Western sanctions regimes are all (without exception) a crime. This can and must be said in this generality. Whoever continues them, continues to make himself a criminal - and this on the world stage. For a long time, with the help of compliant journalists, Western states have succeeded in obscuring these crimes, at least vis-à-vis less informed citizens.
Only cynics can defend neoliberalism
In addition to these foreign policy offenses committed by Western states, the economic theory dominating many Western states internally is now also coming under closer observation: grievances caused by cutbacks, privatizations and other destructive "reforms" can currently only with great difficulty be obscured by neo-liberal journalists, without them completely revealing themselves as economic radical cynics. Bertelsmann could probably no longer afford to demand that hospitals be closed.
The philosophy of the wisdom of the market and the weak state is currently even more disgraced than it already is: by the currently brutally visible vulnerability to which states (and thus citizens) have been exposed as a result of deliberate weakening. And by the fact that the virus now relentlessly exposes this vulnerability. It will be interesting to see which techniques neoliberal propagandists will use to defend this destructive theory against the current experiences of the citizens.
Virus as "chance" - or as a shield for raids?
So is the virus also an opportunity in the fight against economic liberalism? At least that is how Gert Ewen Ungar on RT sees it:
"If things go well, a virus from a rigorous siege, not of aliens, but of an ideology, could free us now by showing us very clearly how limited and unhelpful their instruments and their implications are when it comes to actual crisis management. (...) Thus, the Corona crisis will once again immediately remind us how catastrophically wrong the basic assumptions of neoliberalism are.
On the other hand, many fears are currently heading in the opposite direction. Instead of a healing aggravation, many citizens suspect an authoritarian financial coup as a result of the virus: stock market crashes that are not blamed on the financial crisis, but "the virus". Restricted basic rights that may never be released again. Dynamics of social isolation that cannot yet be assessed. Monstrous money shifts in the shadow of the virus. A willingness to submit to a (hitherto) partly ominous state of emergency can also be observed.
"The system question is on the table"
China seems to be a propagandistic winner of the current events: Is the impression that the media demonization by Western media is partly declining somewhat and partly being replaced by a respectful look deceptive? For instance in this article. In the perception of some (including Western) citizens, what was yesterday still a "dictatorial regime" is slowly becoming a caring state, which (unlike EU states) protects its citizens by taking radical measures. This narrative cannot be entirely dismissed and it is caught - as the "taz", for example, sadly describes. Further questions come to mind: Will China be the long-term economic winner of the crisis? What does this mean in the long term for Chinese influence on Europe and for German society and its handling of this influence? What does it mean for the future choice of military and economic alliance partners? After Corona, will we find our way back to old alliances?
Due to the current dynamics and the self-destructive reactions of some Western countries to it, the business world is also alarmed. So fears the "Manager Magazin" in an otherwise very mixed article:
"The second financial crisis within ten years and the soon to be openly re-emerging euro crisis after less than eight years show the public that politicians are not doing their job. The inadequate response to the epidemic, i.e. the failure to defend the health of citizens, adds to this and will further weaken confidence in the political elites. Polarization and radicalization will increase. Meanwhile, the emerging nations of Asia are demonstrating how to do it: managed economies, strong states, stable financial systems."
The article concludes:
"The system issue is on the table and the West does not look good."
How dangerous is Covid-19?
by Florian Rötzer
"Corona we can defeat." Picture: Korean health authority KCDC
[This article published on 3/24/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, Wie gefährlich ist Covid-19?.]
A basic problem is the lack of reliable and comparable data. According to one study, the mortality rate, similar to that of influenza, is between 0.04% and 0.12%
One problem with the new coronavirus could be that the infection is so harmless in many people that they do not even notice the disease. According to Chinese data, one third of those infected positively but asymptomatically by tests could belong to the category of "silent carriers".
Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the PCR tests apparently also give many false positive results. According to a study that examined tests in China, half or more of those infected as confirmed could be falsely identified, and conversely, it is possible that false negative results could also be obtained. It should be noted that the scientific basis for assessing the coronavirus pandemic is still very uncertain, and it is still very unclear how dangerous it really is, if only because too few people have been tested at all.
However, the WHO already noted a week ago that Covid-19 with an incubation period of 5-6 days spreads more slowly than normal influenza with 3 days, but the virality seems to be higher with 2 or 2.5 per infected person. According to the WHO, children, who are important spreaders of influenza, are hardly affected by Covid-19, and if infected by adults, they will be infected. The mortality rate is not really known yet. It currently amounts to 3-4 percent among those who are confirmed to be infected, but will be significantly lower in relation to all those infected. The mortality rate for influenza is about 0.1 percent.
A study examining the situation in Wuhan and among Japanese who were flown out of Wuhan came to an estimated infectious mortality between 0.04% and 0.12%, which is significantly lower than the mostly assumed case mortality rate of 3-4 percent. The scientists estimate that almost 2 million people of Wuhan, 20 percent of the population, were infected. The sharp measures in Wuhan have reduced the infection rate from initially 5.2 percent to 0.58 percent. (Data on case and infectious mortality corrected.)
Decisive factor: Number of asymptomatic infected persons
In China, by the end of February, more than 40,000 people had tested positive and been quarantined without showing symptoms. This is to show secret data that SCMP was able to see. But strangely enough, they were not counted as confirmed infected, so that the figure of 80,000 mentioned at the time was actually too low because of the asymptotically infected. But this is also the reason for the percentage of deaths that was too high afterwards. Normally, an infected person shows symptoms within an average of 5 days, but this can also take up to three weeks. Normally the incubation period is set to 14 days.
There is confusion internationally about the statistics. The WHO considers all positively tested cases as confirmed cases, even if they do not show symptoms. South Korea does the same, while China only listed people with symptoms as confirmed cases from 7 February onward. This has the advantage of reducing the number of infected people, but in return it increases the rate of those who become seriously ill or die. So this increases the danger of the virus. It is unclear what strategy the Chinese authorities were pursuing. Germany, the US. Great Britain or Italy only test people who are already showing symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person. This systematically underestimates the pandemic and overestimates the threat.
In South Korea, where 338,000 tests have been carried out so far and all close contacts with confirmed infected persons have been tested, more than 20 percent of asymptomatic patients were also without symptoms. "South Korea currently has a much higher rate of asymptomatic cases, perhaps because of our extensive testing," said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the South Korean Health Authority. When tested, asymptomatic cases show the same viral load as symptomatic cases. In Italy, an immunologist estimates that 50-75 percent of infected people are asymptomatic, i.e. they show no symptoms.
The WHO suspects that infected persons without symptoms do not play a major role in the spread of the virus. However, a study published last week in Science by an international team of scientists concluded that untested cases with mild and no symptoms had infected almost 80 percent of confirmed cases by the shutdown in Wuhan on 21 January.
The undocumented infections would "often be mild, with limited or no symptoms and therefore remain undetected. Depending on their contagiousness and number, they may expose a much larger proportion of the population to the virus than would otherwise occur".
South Korea as a role model?
In South Korea, as of 23 March, of the 338,036 people tested for Covid-19, 8,961 proved to be infected. 315,447 were tested negative for Covid-19. From 22nd to 23rd March, the number of confirmed infected rose by 64, the number of dead by 7. 14 of the 64 new cases were "imported". Since 22 March, South Korea has been testing every European entering the country. Of the 1442 people who arrived from Europe on 22nd March, 152 were symptomatic. They were taken to a quarantine station at the airport and tested.
The other 1290 travelers were asymptomatic. Nevertheless, they were transferred to temporary accommodation for testing. 6 were able to leave the accommodation because the test was negative, further results are still pending. Even those who tested negative had to go into quarantine or, in the case of foreigners on short trips, were subject to "increased active observation". Confirmed mild cases are transferred to treatment centers, severe cases are sent to hospitals with emergency transport. Travelers are transferred to medical services by the International Traveler Information System (DUR/ITS). So much for the Asian route. Yesterday Alexander Unzicker asked why Europe is not learning more from Asia: Epidemiologically effective measures in China. (Florian Rötzer)
Pandemic of collective hysteria
by Frank Romeike [editor in chief RiskNET]
Risk perception society: pandemic of collective hysteria
[This article published on 3/17/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, Pandemie der kollektiven Hysterie.]
Pandemie der kollektiven Hysterie
Risk is always a construct of our perception, since reality is permanently created by perception. And our highly individual perception of risk depends on what our senses condense into an overall picture. Transferred to the pandemic of collective hysteria around Covid-19, many people are scared to death and thus fade out the real risks. Our political decision-makers are no different. Decisions are not made on the basis of rational facts and figures, but on the basis of a more emotionally and subjectively driven perception of reality.
Our (half-)knowledge, our emotions, our moral concepts and opinions of experts and self-appointed experts determine this construct of risk perception. What one "expert" perceives as a risk does not necessarily have to be a risk for the other "expert". And this high volatility in the evaluation of scenarios leads to uncertainty and fear for many people.
Risk perception is often also based on hypotheses. As a result, different assumptions and theories are often made for the same risks. For example, Andreas Gassen, Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and medical specialist, speaks of a media infection in connection with Covid-19 and calls for a rapid change from panic mode to a rational mode. Many scientists, such as the British epidemiologist Tom Jefferson, who is researching at the renowned Cochrane Institute in Rome, cannot identify any special features of the Covid-19 virus, except for the fact that it is a novel virus. Covid-19 is like a new car model, but more comparable to a small car, Jefferson said.
While many European countries are pursuing a strategy of quarantine, taking new and different risks, the British government - based on recommendations from British epidemiologists - has adopted the concept of "herd immunity", which is not intended to prevent infection. The aim is to achieve rapid and widespread immunization of the population. Risk groups, however, are isolated. [Update 19.03.2020: Epidemiologists from London's Imperial College have meanwhile presented two potential strategies in the form of scenarios from the British government: Slowing or mitigating the epidemic through social isolation would reduce the burden on the health system by two-thirds and the number of deaths by half. Head of government Boris Johnson has therefore made a U-turn in recent days and switched to a strategy of delay].
No facts count - but assumptions
Every day we are bombarded with new statistics and figures that serious scientists know to be massively flawed. For example, the population of infected people is simply not known in China or any other country in the world. For example, in the statistics for Germany, 15,320 people (update: 20.03.2020, 05:50 hrs) are recorded as infected. Worldwide, 244,517 people are considered to be infected (update: 20.03.2020, 05:30 hrs). Due to the large uncertainties regarding lethality and the doubling rate, mathematicians and physicians estimate the real rate to be ten times or higher. Instead of 15,320 people, 100,000 people may be infected in a "realistic case" scenario and many more in a "worst case" scenario.
Based on this population and the recorded deaths, for which, incidentally, the causality is not clear, mortality rates are then calculated and often communicated without reflection. For 44 deaths in Germany (update as of 20.03.2020, 05:50 a.m.) we could calculate a rate of 0.29 percent. With 100,000 infected persons, which is probably the more realistic scenario, the rate is only 0.017 percent. Serious scientists and politicians should point out this potential range and not sell dubious statistics as the ultimate "truth". Because we will only be able to estimate the lethality of Covid-19 in some time. And even this (final) figure must be critically questioned, since the deaths can be attributed to different causes and the causality will by no means be clear.
Serious risk and crisis communication would be important
Current risk and crisis communication leads above all to fear, hysteria and panic and further uncertainty. This is aggravated by the fact that risk communication is not coordinated between countries. Risk communication in the EU is - to put it mildly - non-existent and a single disaster. The reason is simple: effective (!) and preventive crisis and risk management does not exist either in the EU or in many nation states.
A transparent and objective risk communication based on facts and data would be desirable. And based on facts and data that are well-founded. Scientists and politicians should admit the high degree of uncertainty and not communicate assumptions as facts. And we citizens should not believe every conspiracy theory and fake news or even distribute them via the social media.
What are facts? For example, it is known that the annual influenza epidemics and pandemics cause around 500 million people to fall ill worldwide. For Covid-19, the statistics currently assume 244,517 (as of 20.03.2020, 05:50). Based on the analyses of the Robert Koch Institute, an independent German higher federal authority for infectious diseases, 5 to 20 percent of the population of all German citizens are infected in the course of the annual influenza waves, i.e. between 4 and 16 million people in Germany alone. Worldwide, between 290,000 and 650,000 people die every year as a result of an influenza virus. Due to the strong mutation of influenza viruses, epidemics are very volatile, i.e. sometimes harmless and sometimes more aggressive. The cause of death can usually be attributed to bacterial pneumonia as a result of damage to the lungs by the influenza viruses.
The facts also include the fact that, based on estimates by the Robert Koch Institute, 25,000 people in Germany died causally as a result of influenza viruses in the winter of 2017/2018. Compared to the highly mutating influenza virus, the covid 19 virus, which has been analysed and observed by scientists for many years (and is therefore not really new), is considered to be moderately aggressive. The death rate varies considerably between different age groups.
Another fact is that, according to analyses carried out by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), between 400,000 and 600,000 patients in Germany suffer from hospital-acquired infections, the majority of which can be prevented. Estimates of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene (DGKH) show that between 15,000 and 40,000 people die as a result of this infection.
A risk paradox involves
Ortwin Renn, scientific director at the Institute for Transformative Sustainability Research (IASS) in Potsdam and holder of the chair of "Technical and Environmental Sociology" at the University of Stuttgart, provides a variety of practical examples of this "risk paradox" of risk perception. Renn points out that in the last 25 years about as many people have died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that is very rare in humans, is fatal and characterized by atypical proteins, as have died from carelessly drinking perfumed lamp oil. In Germany, five people have died of lamp oil poisoning since 1990, mostly children who thought the colorful and fragrant liquids were juice - not a single person died of CJD [Renn 2014, p. 33].
Renn provides further examples for the assessment of human health risks. He points out that our life expectancy has been rising continuously since the 18th century. The chances of reaching an age of significantly more than eighty years are growing from year to year. Nevertheless, in studies, the people interviewed regularly state that they lead a risky life. It is not uncommon for respondents to ignore the fact that the primary causes (smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, alcohol) can be controlled and influenced by people themselves [see Romeike/Hager 2020].
The situation is similarly paradoxical with the assessment of accident risks. The probability of dying as a result of an accident at work or on the road is lower than ever before. The safety level in aviation is higher than 99.99998 percent for many airlines. The residual risk is less than 0.00002 percent [see Romeike/Hager 2020]. Statistically this is equivalent to one accident per 100 million flights. The risk of having an accident in the household or during leisure time is significantly higher. But our perception of risk is distorted. Driving on the motorway on the way to the airport is much more risky than the subsequent long-haul flight across the Atlantic.
Perceived loss of control leads to fear and panic
People are repeatedly influenced by catastrophe reports in the media and unbalanced risk communication. They are thus trapped in the belief that life is a single sequence of threatening events. They are scared to death and are trapped in the belief that the end of mankind is imminent as a result of Covid-19.
And politicians fuel this skewed perception of risk by means of risk communication that is not fact-based, and which is also changing from day to day. Ortwin Renn demonstrated this many years ago. If I exaggerate the perception of risk and make more preparations than necessary, the worst that can happen is that a politician will be accused of wasting taxpayers' money. Politically, however, I will survive. On the other hand, if I underestimate a scenario or a risk and make too few preparations, the individual risk of resignation increases.
The non-factual crisis communication by self-appointed experts leads above all to uncertainty. And uncertainty creates fear. And a perceived loss of control leads to even more fear and, as a consequence, to hoarding and completely irrational decisions.
Consciously or unconsciously applied cognitive processes lead to a risk construct. Laypersons therefore perceive risks differently from experts. Therefore, especially (serious) experts have a high responsibility in adequately communicating risks. Risk communication in connection with Covid-19 should be fact-based. If facts are not known (see for example extremely high uncertainty regarding the number of Covid-19 infections), they should not be communicated as facts.
Only in this way can we counteract risk blindness. For example, scientists in particular should be aware that intuition is a bad advisor in complex situations. Epidemics and pandemics are complex systems. Potential future scenarios should therefore also be anticipated with methods that can handle complexity. There are many tools (see System Dynamics or Stochastic Scenario Analysis) with which complex systems can be simulated and which show a range of potential scenarios. These ranges of possible scenarios form the basis for data- and fact-based decisions [see Romeike/Spitzner 2013].
Conclusion: breaking out of the risk perception society
There is a very high probability that you will not die as a result of a Covid-19 infection. The reason is simple: the modern Central European dies predominantly from his bad habits (diet, lack of exercise, smoking, etc.), which lead, for example, to cardiovascular disease. In Germany alone, for example, more than 100,000 people die every year as a result of tobacco consumption, which is about 300 people a day. For the year 2017, a study sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation came to the conclusion that eleven million deaths and 255 million years of life spent in illness are attributable to poor nutrition. Our fear of Covid-19 reveals above all a lack of realism in our risk perception society. As a result, we have lost the sense of proportion needed to perceive risks objectively. "The more we invest in risk maturity, the greater the chance that we can break out of the trap of the risk perception society," says risk researcher Ortwin Renn.
GBD (2017) Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017
Renn, O. (2014): The risk paradox - Why we are afraid of the wrong person, Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2014.
Romeike, F./Spitzner, J. (2013): From scenario analysis to wargaming - Business simulations in practical use, Wiley Verlag, Weinheim 2013.
Romeike, F./Hager, P. (2020): Erfolgsfaktor Risikomanagement 4.0: Methoden, Prozess, Organisation und Risikokultur, 4th completely revised edition, Springer Verlag, Wiesbaden 2020.
Great Britain - health system threatens to collapse
In Great Britain, the state health system has been lying idle for years. It is not at all prepared for the corona pandemic - and is now threatened with collapse.
"We can turn the tide within 12 weeks." So says British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as usual flowery. Even if Johnson is right: many, probably a great many British people are in acute danger of not seeing the end of these 12 weeks. Because the British health system, the National Health Service (NHS), is very badly prepared for this pandemic.
Before the outbreak, British hospitals had just 5,000 ventilators in intensive care units. Not even seven per 100,000 inhabitants. Ranked 24th among 31 European countries. In comparison: in Germany there were already almost 30 ventilators per hundred thousand inhabitants before the outbreak. 6.6 in Great Britain to 29.2 in Germany.
In the meantime, 3000 more ventilators are said to have been added on the island, but even that is still far from the supply in Germany. Premier Johnson has therefore called on car manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and excavator producers such as JCB to switch production to ventilators. A coalition of British industrial companies is working to be able to supply ventilators quickly. During the Second World War, such companies had managed to switch to the construction of Spitfire fighters.
There is no specialist like the Dräger factory in Lübeck in the whole of Great Britain. A Swiss manufacturer had warned the British earlier about the shortage in intensive care units. But conservative governments have kept the state health system so short in recent years that emergency care has also become increasingly poor.
Remark JK: Actually no surprise in the country where Margaret Thatcher was the first country in Europe to push through the neo-liberal agenda and which was de-industrialized by neo-liberal policies, because you can always produce cheaper elsewhere. If the Corona pandemic would finally bring the ideology of neoliberalism to the rubbish heap of history, this would at least be a positive aspect of the current horror.
Remark Jens Berger: We remember. The strengthening of the National Health System (NHS) has always been Jeremy Corbyn's big campaign issue. But the British chose Cameron, May and Johnson. It should not be forgotten here either that it was only through the massive majorities among the old electorate that these prime ministers were able to prevail against Corbyn. It is they who are now at risk for their lives. Let us hope this has a learning effect.
US Department of Justice wants to be able to imprison people indefinitely without trial
by Florian Rötzer
[This article published on 3/23/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, US-Justizministerium will im Notstand Menschen unbegrenzt ohne Prozess inhaftieren können.]
US-Justizministerium will im Notstand Menschen unbegrenzt ohne Prozess i...
Wie schon beim Terrorismus wird die Corona-Pandemie ausgenutzt, um die Macht des Staats auch bei Naturkatastroph...
As with terrorism, the corona pandemic is being exploited to extend the power of the state even in the event of natural disasters and "civil disobedience
While in Germany new state powers are being worked on at federal and state level to declare a health emergency that would allow material to be confiscated or people to be obliged to provide services, the US government goes far beyond this. Like the EU, which has sealed its borders and no longer accepts asylum applications, US President Donald Trump is seeking to instrumentalize the coronavirus pandemic politically.
Thus, in a state of emergency, the southern border will continue to be sealed and all foreigners who cross the border without permission will be deported immediately, as they could spread Covid-19 in the camps of the border police. Under the sign of the pandemic, political objectives are now being implemented which were also in place before it, but failed in the courts and the opposition. There are also small things like the plan of the Ministry of Agriculture with corporations like PepsiCo to deliver food packages to schoolchildren.
This had previously been rejected in Congress because they did not contain healthy food. A further step towards breaking up trade unions is the possibility that state employees could be able to prevent the inclusion of union dues, because this would increase salaries in the economic crisis.
There are supposed to be new tax cuts, the Fed, under pressure from the White House, has cut interest rates to zero and is flooding the market with money. What's new is that Trump wants to set up a bailout fund of one trillion US dollars to help companies and citizens. Sick pay has been ordered, unemployment insurance benefits are to increase and there are to be subsidies for medical treatment.
Corona tests are to be free of charge - and Trump would like to pay 1200 US dollars per person and 500 US dollars per child. Here he meets resistance from Republicans, but also from Democrats, who demand more and regular payments during the crisis. What is clear is that the already high national debt will explode. The days of the Tea Party movement are long gone with the "King of Debt".
Coronavirus as a means to expand state power
In Germany, the state of emergency is used to impose temporary exit restrictions, closures of establishments, contact bans for groups of more than two persons and distance requirements. Anti-infection laws prepared in Berlin and Munich should make it possible to confiscate materials and oblige people to provide services (health emergency: "Every suitable person" should be able to be called upon to "provide services" ). The federal government also had the idea of obliging telecommunications providers to provide the RKI with localization data of smartphone users in order to determine who had contact with infected persons.
This has apparently been overturned in the meantime, and the implementation of the law, which was planned to be whipped through parliament this week, has been postponed. In Bavaria, on the other hand, the infection protection law is to be passed this week, according to the will of the state government. By the way, Bavaria is also not participating in the regulation agreed upon with the state governments and the Chancellor, which allows two persons (or residents of the same household) to stay in public places. In Bavaria, only persons who live in the same household are allowed to stay together in public space.
The US government is looking for information from Politico  to exploit the Corona emergency in order to intervene even more strongly in civil liberties. The Department of Justice wants to enforce in Congress that during emergencies it can order judges to detain people indefinitely without trial. Thus, the post-9/11 action against so-called "enemy combatants" who were abducted and imprisoned in Guantanamo is to be applied to US citizens as well. According to Politico, who claims to have had access to the documents, this is only one of the issues the government wants to enforce, including the right of asylum, the conduct of the trial or the extension of the prosecution.
For example, the Prosecutor General will have the possibility to ask a judge of a district court to suspend a trial in whole or in part in the event of a natural disaster, civil disobedience or other emergency - up to one year after the end of the emergency. This would affect all stages before and after detention, before, during and after the trial for all court proceedings. Judges can already do this now, but this is to ensure that all judges in a district are "consistently" disobeyed. This would undermine one of the most fundamental rights.
According to habeas corpus, an arrested person has the constitutional right to be brought before a judge to review his detention. The Minister of Justice, on the other hand, wants to be given the authority by Congress to detain someone indefinitely as long as there is a state of emergency or civil disobedience.
One might get the impression that the Trump administration is preparing itself not so much for an epidemic emergency as for riots that could possibly arise from the emergency measures or from the presidential election at the end of the year. Some fear that armed right-wing groups could rise up, especially after a Trump defeat. But it is also conceivable, especially if the Corona crisis leads to an economic crisis, that a re-election could trigger unrest among Trump's right-wing groups. Also interesting in this context: Inside The Military's Top Secret Plans If Coronavirus Cripples the Government  by William Arkin.
Be sure to read "There goes the Rule of Law," an interview with Bill Moyers
There Goes the Rule of Law - BillMoyers.com
There Goes the Rule of Law - BillMoyers.com
"So much of the rule of law, as it turns out, was built on soft norms, not on regulations and statutes and const...
Tests and Alternatives : How South Korea will contain coronavirus without curfew
The whole of Europe is advising people not to leave their own four walls as far as possible as a measure in the fight against the epidemic. South Korea shows that there is another way.
by Julia Grass
A drive-through test station in Daegu, South Korea.
Photo: Lee Sang-ho/XinHua/dpa
[This article published on 3/23/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, Wie Südkorea das Coronavirus ohne Ausgangssperre eindämmt
Wie Südkorea das Coronavirus ohne Ausgangssperre eindämmt
Ganz Europa rät den Menschen dazu, die eigenen vier Wände möglichst nicht mehr zu verlassen als Maßnahme im Kamp...
Berlin In order to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, the whole of Europe is relying on contact bans or drastic curfews. The aim is to keep the curve of new infections as flat as possible. Wherever one looks, the consistent restriction of social contacts seems to be the only effective measure in the fight against the virus. China is considered a role model. According to its own statements, the country has now to some extent under control of the new virus through massive lock-down measures.
But there is also an example of how things could be done differently. Only a few weeks ago, South Korea was number two among the countries most affected by the corona virus, right after China. Around 8,000 people have become infected there. As recently as February 29, more than 900 new infections were reported - within three weeks the number dropped to just over 70 last week.
In the meantime, the number of new infections has been fluctuating, with more infections on some days and fewer on others; one could say that the curve in South Korea is now almost horizontal. The mortality rate is comparatively low at around one percent. In a worldwide corona comparison, the country is now only in 8th place.
And this despite the fact that it is more densely populated than Germany. More importantly, unlike China and Germany, South Korea is a democracy - and has never had to impose a curfew. On the contrary: "We don't think a lock-down is a sensible solution," Kim Woo-Joo, a virologist at Korea University, told the science magazine "Science". South Korea largely renounces the deprivation of liberty of its citizens. Although schools have been closed, restaurants, shops and shopping malls have remained open, there is no curfew for the population as yet.
So how has the country managed to get the virus under control without measures such as those introduced throughout Europe?
1. South Korea tests many more people than Germany
"Science" reports that South Korea was already developing tests when the virus had hardly broken out in the country. Now, an average of about 12,000 people are tested there every day, or about 84,000 people per week - almost three times as many as in Germany in relation to the total population. This is made possible, for example, by test machines that do not require any human capacity at all and so-called drive-through test stations. South Koreans drive their cars through set up tent stations. Instead of burgers or cola from the fast-food restaurant employee, they receive a throat swab from medical staff through the car window.
Unlike Germany, South Korea does not only test people with symptoms, but also the general public. In Germany, on the other hand, more and more Germans are reporting that they themselves have no chance of being tested despite their symptoms - the Robert Koch Institute largely leaves the decision on tests to the doctors. And they often do not only test when there are symptoms, but only when there has been contact with infected people.
If a test in South Korea is positive, the authorities identify all the contact persons of the person concerned and thus quarantine them in a targeted manner.
Corona: South Korea also detects cases of infection without symptoms
The advantage of this method is that South Korea recognizes so many symptom-free cases. It is these cases, among others, that currently overwhelm countries such as Spain or Italy. The fact that Italy, for example, currently lists a mortality rate of 8 percent is unusually high - it is suspected that there is a huge number of unreported infections in the country, which makes it virtually impossible to control the further course of the epidemic.
In other words, people in Europe have to stay at home for the most part - partly because the states simply do not know where the virus is everywhere.
But South Korea did not invent this way out of nowhere either - the country already had to deal with an outbreak of a novel corona virus in 2015: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). At that time, the country also had to respond with massive quarantine measures to contain the outbreak - and learned the lesson that in future it must react more quickly to similar outbreaks with mass testing.
2. detailed data evaluation and information via app
South Korea combined the data collected through tests with sophisticated digital technology - and massive interference with data protection. All available and in part highly sensitive data about infected persons - such as movement data on smartphones or credit cards - is collected and stored. In this way it is possible to trace almost completely where an infected person has been and when.
App informs the population about the whereabouts of corona infected persons
The health authorities and the South Korean government then send this information to the population via app. Patients are made roughly anonymous - the name is replaced by a number, but gender and age are retained. All places where the infected person has been are also listed. From the theater to the restaurant.
The British Guardian has gained some insight into such text messages: "A woman in her 60s has just tested positive," it says, for example, "click on the link to get a list of places she visited before she was hospitalized. Despite the anonymization, the "Guardian" reports that some of those affected have already been identified and even denounced and threatened on the Internet.
3. social distancing
Finally, the government in South Korea also called on the population to avoid social contacts as far as possible. Here, there are cultural differences to Europe in particular - in South Korea, for example, it is much more common to wear breathing masks in public, and availability is much higher.
Several times a day, the government sends hygiene instructions to the citizens' smartphones, loudspeaker announcements and information posters remind them to wash their hands regularly and sneeze into the crook of their arm. Disinfection bottles hang in buses and trains. A German author living in Seoul reports this in the daily newspaper "taz".
Coronavirus: Social Distancing in Japan
Consistent social distancing works, especially when it has always been practiced consistently. Japan shows this, as the Austrian daily newspaper "Standard" reports. Although it is densely populated with a proportion of senior citizens that is higher than anywhere else in the world, the country has only recorded around 1,000 cases of infection and 41 deaths. Every day there are only a few more.
Measures to combat the virus are relatively mild - Japan has also closed schools but left restaurants and shops open, and there is no curfew here either. Unlike in South Korea, testing is only carried out when the symptoms are severe. But social distancing is part of the culture in Japan. Instead of shaking hands in greeting, people bow. Consistent hygiene awareness is already taught to children. If you have a cold, wearing a face mask is part of politeness. When Japan tightened its hygiene measures in public after the outbreak of the coronavirus, it was therefore much easier for the population than for Europeans to comply with the new measures.
This example shows that Europe is not wrong with contact bans and curfews. In South Korea and Japan, too, people are keeping a great deal of distance from each other in the fight against the coronavirus. The difference: they do it voluntarily.
These five articles were translated with the help of the beloved robot DeepL.
A great interview with Bill Moyers "There goes the rule of law" is available on his website