Data, Info and News of Life and Economy

Daily Archives: February 12, 2022

EU Cuts 2022 Euro Zone Growth Forecast, Sharply Raises Inflation View

Jan Strupczewski wrote . . . . . . . . .

Euro zone economic growth will be slower than earlier expected this year because of a new wave of COVID-19 infections, high energy prices and continued supply-side disruptions, while inflation will be much higher, the European Commission said.

In its regular economic forecasts, the EU executive arm said gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro would grow 4.0% this year and 2.7% in 2023.

The forecast is a cut compared to last November, when the Commission forecast 4.3% growth in 2022 and 2.4% in 2023 and is close to the latest view of the International Monetary Fund, which expects growth of 3.9% this year and 2.5% in 2023.

“Multiple headwinds have chilled Europe’s economy this winter: the swift spread of Omicron, a further rise in inflation driven by soaring energy prices and persistent supply-chain disruptions,” European Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said. “With these headwinds expected to fade progressively, we project growth to pick up speed again already this spring.”

The Commission expects inflation this year will be 3.5%, well above the European Central Bank’s target of 2.0%, and much higher than its own forecast from November of 2.2%. This is also a more pessimistic forecast than that of the ECB from December, when the bank projected inflation at 3.2% this year.

Worried by the longer than earlier expected surge in consumer prices, the ECB has taken a hawkish turn and started preparing markets for the end of its unconventional stimulus with some hawkish board members calling for a rate hike already this year.

But the Commission, like the IMF, forecast inflation would slow again next year to 1.7%, below the ECB’s target, so a potential rate rise would come just as price growth slows again. The ECB’s own inflation in December was 1.8% for 2023.

“Price pressures are likely to remain strong until the summer, after which inflation is projected to decline as growth in energy prices moderates and supply bottlenecks ease. However, uncertainty and risks remain high,” Gentiloni said.

The Commission said risks to the growth outlook were even as the COVID-19 infection wave could have a longer lasting impact and bring fresh disruptions to supply chains, but also household consumption could grow more strongly and investment, thanks to the EU recovery fund, could generate stronger activity.

Inflation could turn out higher if more cost pressures are passed on from producers to consumers and if that boosts the likelihood of wage growth to compensate.

“Risks to the growth and inflation outlook are aggravated by geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe,” the Commission said referring to the risk of Russian military aggression against Ukraine.

Source : Reuters

In Pictures: 1969 Alfa Romeo GTV 1750

Source : Bring A Trailer

What Is Hong Kong’s Dynamic Zero-infection Strategy

Lilian Cheng wrote . . . . . . . . .

Hong Kong’s adoption of the dynamic zero-infection strategy has drawn heated debate as the city struggles to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections.

However, Hong Kong has yet to carry out massive containment measures such as a citywide lockdown, universal screening or large-scale quarantine, unlike other mainland Chinese cities.

The Post compares the containment approaches taken by some mainland cities and Hong Kong.

1. What is the dynamic zero-infection strategy?

The mainland adopted the strategy in August last year in its fight against the Delta variant.

It refers to a slew of measures, such as mass testing, stringent border controls, extensive contact tracing and snap lockdowns, aimed at swiftly stamping out new outbreaks when they happen.

A national directive issued in September, for example, suggested local health authorities were required to define their scope of testing based on how an outbreak spread and its risks.

Cities with more than 5 million people are required to finish a round of testing within three days, while smaller cities have two days to do the job. Local authorities are required to test large populations by dividing them into smaller units – such as residential buildings, villages, schools and companies – so that no one is missed.

2. How is the strategy applied on the mainland?

Mainland cities handled the outbreak in different ways under the same national directives.

The northwestern city of Xian – home to about 12.95 million people – was under lockdown for 32 days after reporting more than 150 cases daily at one point last December.

At least 50,000 people were sent to quarantine, while authorities launched several rounds of mass testing involving more than 90 million Covid-19 tests.

Other cities have opted for swift and abrupt lockdowns on a smaller scale.

Shanghai shoppers were trapped in a milk tea store and a branch of a popular Japanese clothing chain, Uniqlo, for two days last month until all staff and visitors tested negative.

Beijing authorities also locked down some housing compounds and tested residents when more than 20 new cases were reported days before the Winter Olympics began.

Analysts said these first-tier cities adopted a different approach as they had more disease management experience and were better equipped, with more medical staff.

For example, Shanghai had about 3,000 full-time epidemiological investigators, 10 times more than Xian. The municipality’s contact-tracing was also more “comprehensive”.

Shanghai did impose “lockdown management” in early February 2020 on 13,000 residential communities and compounds, including stricter controls on the movement of people and vehicles. The measures were gradually relaxed at the end of the month.

3. What about the situation in Hong Kong?

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has repeatedly stressed Hong Kong will stand by the dynamic zero-infection strategy, which is more targeted and on a smaller scale.

Tens of thousands of residents have been screened daily for Covid-19 during the fifth wave of infections, after sewage samples in their districts tested positive, or they had visited or lived in places found to have infections.
Instead of universal testing, rapid antigen tests will be distributed to all residents as a supplementary tool for early detection.

A week-long lockdown took place only once on a Kwai Chung public housing estate, involving 2700 households. Other such operations were shorter even if Covid-19 cases were detected.

Close contacts of Covid-19 patients are now allowed to quarantine at home to ease pressure on quarantine facilities.

Flights from nine countries, including the United States and Britain, are banned until March 4.

4. Why does Hong Kong employ a more ‘targeted’ approach?

Hong Kong’s daily coronavirus screening capacity only reached 100,000 in January, and a further 200,000 will be added when a laboratory in Ma On Shan is ready later this month.

Large numbers of residents ordered to undergo compulsory testing have been seen outside testing centres across the city on a daily basis, with some complaining of possible infection due to the long wait. The government has since reduced the number of mandatory tests for residents from three to two, citing the short incubation period for the Omicron variant.

Unlike mainland cities, Hong Kong does not have a system that can track residents’ whereabouts due to privacy concerns. Residents will only be prosecuted if epidemiological investigations reveal they have lied about their whereabouts for contact-tracing purposes.

Use of the “Leave Home Safe” risk-exposure app, introduced in late 2020, is now mandatory to enter a growing list of premises, including restaurants and government facilities. The app does not have a tracking function.

Users now have to upload vaccination records to the app so staff at “high-risk premises” such as restaurants and gyms can scan and keep a record for 31 days.

Stringent social-distancing curbs and travel limitations imposed amid the fifth wave have already drawn criticism from the business sector and are expected to hammer the economy in the first quarter of this year.

5. Can Hong Kong practise ‘mainland-style lockdowns’?

Professor Gabriel Leung, dean of the University of Hong Kong’s faculty of medicine, on Thursday urged the government to consider the feasibility of a longer “lockdown” on a bigger scale, and implement more stringent measures.

Leung had predicted daily case counts could hit 28,000 at their peak, and related deaths could total 1,000 by June, even if current strict social-distancing rules were maintained.

But Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, chairman of Sunrise Diagnostic Centre and a former Hospital Authority chief, brushed aside such a call.

“A citywide lockdown is unnecessary as long as people are working from home and large-scale testing is implemented district by district,” Wu said. “The government will not have enough resources to implement a lockdown on the whole city. But if we have enough manpower, we can lock down a dozen buildings for three days.”

Ip Kwok-him, a member of the Executive Council, Lam’s de facto cabinet, said there were cultural and social differences which made it difficult for Hong Kong to take radical measures.

The city also lacked a tracking system for close contacts that was similar to the mainland’s, he added.
Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan, a top adviser to Lam, said on Thursday he doubted whether a full lockdown was possible.

“We just can’t do it in Hong Kong. We cannot have the same sort of lockdown as in the mainland,” he said.
“We will try to contain the outbreak through quarantine and isolation, and try to bring the number down. We are pretty much buying enough time to get the rest of Hong Kong, especially the most vulnerable group, vaccinated because until then, I don’t think we can afford to overwhelm our health care system.”

6. What’s next?

Beijing officials and state media have warned Hong Kong not to deviate from the dynamic zero-Covid strategy, as any shift towards “living with the virus” would result in disaster for the city, and delay resumption of quarantine-free travel with the mainland.

Mainland officials will meet their Hong Kong counterparts on Saturday to discuss how to help the city fight the fifth wave of infections. The construction of another makeshift hospital of the kind erected in Wuhan in the early days of the pandemic will be among the topics of discussion, according to sources.

Meanwhile, a Guangdong health official said on Friday that hundreds of Cantonese-speaking medical and lab personnel from Guangzhou and Shenzhen had already been dispatched to Hong Kong to lend a hand in laboratories and testing stations, with more set to follow.

Hong Kong’s sole delegate to the nation’s top legislative body, Tam Yiu-chung, said it would be best if Beijing agreed to send 1,000 professionals to the city to help boost testing and quarantine capacities.

Tam said he believed the mainland experts would be able to provide suggestions on whether universal testing or larger-scale lockdowns were needed.

Source : SCMP

Sweden Ends COVID-19 Testing as Pandemic Restrictions Lifted

David Keyton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Sweden has halted wide-scale testing for COVID-19 even among people showing symptoms of an infection, putting an end to the mobile city-square tent sites, drive-in swab centers and home-delivered tests that became ubiquitous during the pandemic and provided essential data for tracking its spread.

The move puts the Scandinavian nation at odds with most of Europe, but some experts say it could become the norm as costly testing yields fewer benefits with the easily transmissible but milder omicron variant and as governments begin to consider treating COVID-19 like they do other endemic illnesses.

“We have reached a point where the cost and relevance of the testing is no longer justifiable.” Swedish Public Health Agency chief Karin Tegmark Wisell told the national broadcast SVT this week.

“If we were to have extensive testing adapted to everyone who has COVID-19, that would mean half a billion kronor a week (about $55 million) and 2 billion a month ($220 million),” Tegmark Wisell added.

Starting Wednesday, only health care and elderly care workers and the most vulnerable will be entitled to free PCR testing if they are symptomatic, while the rest of the population will simply be asked to stay home if they show symptoms that could be COVID-19.

Antigen tests are readily available for purchase in supermarkets and pharmacies, but those results aren’t reported to health authorities. Private health care providers can also perform tests and offer certificates for international travel, but the cost won’t be reimbursed by the state or health insurance.

High vaccination rates in Sweden are creating optimism among health officials and a late 2020 study released Tuesday showing antibodies present in 85% of samples.

Dr. Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School in Britain, said that with a substantial percentage of people vaccinated, “an informed, educated and knowledgeable population” can be trusted to isolate if they show symptoms without the need for “wholesale testing that is not going to be value for money.”

“Sweden is leading the way, and other nations will inevitably follow,” Pankhania said. “We don’t need extensive testing for the sake of testing, but we must look nevertheless in sensitive settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and other sensitive places where there are very vulnerable people.”

In 2021, the region of Stockholm alone spent the equivalent of more than $320 million on PCR tests, money the government says could be better spent elsewhere.

For most of the pandemic, Sweden stood out among European nations for its comparatively hands-off response. It never went into lockdown or closed businesses, largely relying instead on individual responsibility to control infections. While coronavirus deaths were high compared with other Nordic countries, they were lower than many other places in Europe that did implement lockdowns.

Also Wednesday, the country scrapped as of midnight its limits on how many people may gather at events or in restaurants, vaccine certificates can no longer be required and reduced operating hours have been canceled for bars and eateries.

Announcing the reopening last week, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said that “the pandemic is not over but has entered a totally new phase,” and while infection rates have risen, it is not overly burdening hospitals.

That tracks with what’s been happening in countries across Europe recently as authorities relax coronavirus restrictions that have dominated the continent for the past two years.

Yet testing remains widespread on the continent, even for people showing no symptoms. Schoolchildren and teachers in Greece, for example, are required to test twice a week, and many countries still require a COVID-19 passport or a negative test to enter restaurants, cinemas and other indoor venues.

In Britain, instead of dropping all testing requirements, authorities are relying on testing, in addition to vaccination, to help enable people to return to normal life. Even as it relaxed most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions in late January, the government said testing remained a “vital tool” for exiting the pandemic and said infected people could end their isolation after just five days with two negative results on rapid tests over two consecutive days.

The government has also made rapid tests freely available, including via home delivery, and encouraged people to test themselves before potentially risky gatherings, hoping that knowing their status will curb COVID-19 transmission.

Some providers of private COVID-19 lab tests have seen a steep fall lately in the numbers of people seeking tests since British authorities dropped the requirement for vaccinated travelers to provide a negative test upon entering the country, starting this Friday.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signaled his intention to remove the need to isolate after a positive COVID-19 test at the end of February. People would still be advised to self-isolate.

“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions –including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive — a full month early,” he said.

“We’re seeing fewer people with COVID and so fewer people are getting tested,” said Quinton Fivelman, chief scientific officer of London Medical Laboratory, “which is obviously a good sign even though that means less demand in that market.”

As vaccination rates increase across Europe and millions recover from winter omicron infections, a similar lack of demand for testing could lead to them being phased out, rather than government policy.

Denmark said that the number of PCR tests will drop from 500,000 per day to 200,000 to “match the current stage of epidemic development,” and the Scandinavian country’s free government-funded capacity for quick tests is to set to close by March 6, while centers offering PCR tests would continue as long as needed.

“Vaccines and easy access to tests have been our Danish super-weapons throughout the epidemic,” Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said last month, adding that “this has been positively reflected in the number of (hospital) admissions and now allows us to scale down our large testing capacity.”

Source : AP

Video: First Uninhabited Black Hawk Flight

Sitting on the runway in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, one of Sikorsky’s pilots in an S-70™ BLACK HAWK® helicopter flips the optionally piloted cockpit switch from two to zero, exits the aircraft and walks across the runway.

Moments later, the Model A BLACK HAWK aircraft, identifiable by DARPA’s logo and tail number N60-OPV, completes a pre-flight check list, starts its engines, spins up its rotors and takes off with no crew onboard. All of it happens fully autonomously.

Watch video at You Tube (1:07 minutes) . . . .

Open Letter to the Canadian Truckers

Robert W Malone wrote . . . . . . . . .

My name is Robert Malone, and I am a United States-based Physician and Scientist.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants. The simple truths are what matter most. Honest words, spoken from the heart, can change the world.

We should not have politicized the public health response to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

And Justin Trudeau should have focused on managing the actual ground truth of COVID-19 instead of following the script provided to him by the leadership of the World Economic Forum.

I am a physician and a scientist now, and I am highly trained and experienced in developing vaccines and other medicines.

But I have also been a carpenter and a farm hand, and I still work my farm. I drive a GMC dually diesel flatbed, a Kubota farm tractor, and can run a skidloader or drive a team of Percheron horses. I have shown my Percheron foals at the Royal Winter Fair. By the original meaning, I am a teamster.

I come to you with an open heart, committed to healing, bringing three simple words.

Integrity. Dignity. Community.

These are three simple words that ring like bells in the heart of honest people.

Benito Mussolini once said “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of the state and corporate power.”

In the actions of the governments of Ottawa and Canada, we are now able to clearly see the previously hidden face of global Fascist totalitarianism, by which I mean the fusion of the power of large corporations with the power of the State- as Facism has been defined by Mussolini.

We are now seeing shocking signals of desperation from our globalist, corporatist opponents. The incompetence of the Party of Davos is becoming plain for all to see.

1) For the first time, we can clearly see that they are willing and able to collude with Silicon Valley to weaponize the banking system against us.

Taking 10 million US Dollars from a political fundraising campaign is something that most of us could not have imagined two years ago.

Clearly, this has backfired, because its exposed to everyone that there is an unnatural coordination between government, the information technology sector, and the banks.

And now we have direct video evidence of this collusion from the infamous Zoom call recording documenting the involvement of the Government and Mayor of Ottawa.

2) The censorship is ramping up, and our opponents are no longer really trying to justify it.

The attacks on Joe Rogan are truly a desperate act.

To attack the most beloved media icon in North America has so much downside and again, shows they are coordinating.


And now we know that Neil Young has a financial conflict of interest because of the large investment bank that owns about half of the financial rights for his song catalog.

This strategy is backfiring – Joe Rogan is still strong, and the central pharmaceutical and banking system hated more than ever. It will take more than Neil Young to shut down Joe Rogan.

3) So desperate are these conspirators, they’ve now literally asked the US Department of Defense to commit a felony; changing data in the Defense Medical Epidemiological Database.

Stupidly, it had already been released – and is now being studied by the medical community. THEY WERE CAUGHT WITH THEIR PANTS DOWN, CHANGING DATA AFTER THE FACT. My guess is that this deserves criminal investigation.

This will also backfire, because now people are personally exposed and my guess will run for the hills or become whistleblowers. I hear that lawyer Thomas Renz is being inundated with new whistleblower actions and information releases.

4) It’s time to end the FAKE Emergency powers which have been used to suspend your constitutional and natural rights.

There is no Emergency. Treatment strategies for curing COVID-19 using repurposed drugs were discovered by March 2020. Omicron is not a killer. The censorship must stop.

Reading from the deeply academic book of Dr. Mattias Desmet titled “The Psychology of Totalitarianism” –

“Alternative voices are stigmatized by a veritable Ministry of Truth, which is crowded with “fact checkers”. Freedom of speech is curtailed by various forms of censorship and self-censorship; people’s right to self-determination is infringed upon by coercive vaccination strategies, which impose heretofore unthinkable social exclusion and segregation upon society.”

Turning now to Integrity, Human Dignity, and the importance of Community.

Integrity is a commitment to truth, in what you say, how you live, and how you treat others.

Saint Augustine, the doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, famously said “The truth is like a Lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.”

Dignity flows from respect, for ourselves, for each other, and for the world we live in.

Community is what binds us together, to each other, and gives our lives purpose and meaning.

Regarding the genetic COVID vaccines, the science is settled.

They are not working to prevent infection, replication, and spread to others, and they are not completely safe. In our daily lives, with our friends, with our families, with our co-workers we all know that this is true.

They are not completely safe, and the full nature of the risks remain unknown. In contrast, the natural immunity which healthy immune systems develop after infection and recovery from COVID-19 is long lasting, broad, and highly protective from disease and death caused by this virus.

Now we have Omicron. These vaccines were designed for the Original Wuhan strain, a different virus. These vaccines do not prevent Omicron infection, viral replication, or spread to others, and there are data suggesting that they make the risk of infection and disease higher.

These genetic vaccines are leaky, have poor durability, and even if every man, woman, and child in the United States and Canada were vaccinated, these products cannot achieve herd immunity and stop COVID.

If there is risk, there must be choice.

This is the fundamental bedrock truth of modern bioethics.

All medical procedures, vaccines, and drugs have risks.

All of us have the right to understand those risks, and to decide for ourselves whether we willingly accept those risks.

To deny this is to deny human dignity.

Evil has many roots. A willingness to deny human dignity is one of the largest. In our hearts, and in our souls, we all know this is true.

Regarding our children.

Although I am a physician who is deeply committed to the Hippocratic oath, I am above all a husband, father, and grandfather. I ask that you allow me a moment to speak to you about our children, and about our fundamental responsibility to protect them.

If nothing else, we must nurture and protect our children. This is job one. It is your job. It is my job. It is not their job to protect us. And during the last two years, our society and our public health response has failed to protect them. Many things that our public health system has demanded we do to our children has directly harmed them.

Self-harm, suicide and drug abuse in children have taken off all around the world. Anxiety, bullying, intimidation, coercion have become the norm. Measured IQ in the very young has dropped. Fundamental childhood delays are easily measured. And physical damage to children from injecting them with genetic vaccines in order to protect the elderly from a virus is occurring.

As a parent, it is ultimately your responsibility to protect your children. If they are harmed by these genetic vaccines, you are the one that will have to take care of them. And you will carry that burden for the rest of your life and theirs. On average, between one in two thousand and one in three thousand children that receive these vaccines will be hospitalized in the short term with vaccine-caused damage. Only with the passage of time will we know what long term damage may occur. The vaccines do not protect our children from becoming infected with Omicron, and do not prevent infected children from infecting others. In contrast, the pharmaceutical companies and the government are almost fully protected from any damages these products might cause to them. If your child is damaged by these vaccines, you will be left alone with both your grief and the burden of care.

These genetic vaccines can damage your children. They may damage their brain, their heart, their immune system, and their ability to have children in the future. And many of these types of damages cannot be repaired.

So I beg you, please, get informed about the possible risks that your children may be damaged by these experimental medical products. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do. Think for yourself. Because it is your responsibility to protect and nurture them. If they are damaged, no regional authority, no government public health official, no television doctor will be there to help you. You, your family and your child will have to carry the load yourselves.

* * * * * * *

When I was still a child, a brilliant young American President said “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.

Canada is your country. You own this amazing gift, but you must defend it if you wish to keep it, or the Globalists will take it from you. They promise that in the future you will own nothing and you will be happy. Do you believe them?

Today, I ask all of you to keep the words of President John F. Kennedy in your minds and hearts. We can all be leaders, and you have stepped up to the task. Thank you for your service to Canada and to the world.

We will survive this, and we will overcome these hardships, if we can just keep these three simple words in our hearts.




Source : Robert Malone