If the Saudi Arabia Situation Doesn't Worry You, You're Not Paying Attention

While turbulent during the best of times, gigantic waves of change are now sweeping across the Middle East. The magnitude is such that the impact on the global price of oil, as well as world markets, is likely to be enormous.

A dramatic geo-political realignment by Saudi Arabia is in full swing this month. It's upending many decades of established strategic relationships among the world's superpowers and, in particular, is throwing the Middle East into turmoil.

So much is currently in flux, especially in Saudi Arabia, that nearly anything can happen next. Which is precisely why this volatile situation should command our focused attention at this time.

The main elements currently in play are these:

  • A sudden and intense purging of powerful Saudi insiders (arrests, deaths, & asset seizures)
  • Huge changes in domestic policy and strategy
  • A shift away from the US in all respects (politically, financially and militarily)
  • Deepening ties to China
  • A surprising turn towards Russia (economically and militarily)
  • Increasing cooperation and alignment with Israel (the enemy of my enemy is my friend?)

Taken together, this is tectonic change happening at blazing speed.

That it's receiving too little attention in the US press given the implications, is a tip off as to just how big a deal this is -- as we're all familiar by now with how the greater the actual relevance and importance of a development, the less press coverage it receives. This is not a direct conspiracy; it's just what happens when your press becomes an organ of the state and other powerful interests. Like a dog trained with daily rewards and punishments, after a while the press needs no further instruction on the house rules.

It does emphasize, however, that to be accurately informed about what's going on, we have to do our own homework. Here's a short primer to help get you started.

A Quick Primer

Unless you study it intensively, Saudi politics are difficult to follow because they are rooted in the drama of a very large and dysfunctional family battling over its immense wealth. If you think your own family is nuts, multiply the crazy factor by 1,000, sprinkle in a willingness to kill any family members who get in your way, and you'll have the right perspective for grasping how Saudi 'politics' operate.

The House of Saud is the ruling royal family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (hereafter referred to as "KSA") and consists of some 15,000 members. The majority of the power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of roughly 2,000 individuals. 4,000 male princes are in the mix, plus a larger number of involved females -- all trying to either hang on to or climb up a constantly-shifting mountain of power.

Here's a handy chart to explain the lineage of power in KSA over the decades:

(Source)

We'll get to the current ruler, King Salman, and his powerful son, Mohammed Bin Salman (age 32), shortly. Before we do, though, let's talk about the most seminal moment in recent Saudi history: the key oil-for-money-and-protection deal struck between the Nixon administration and King Faisal back in the early 1970's.

This pivotal agreement allowed KSA to secretly recycle its surplus petrodollars back into US Treasuries while receiving US military protection in exchange. The secret was kept for 41 years, only recently revealed in 2016 due to a Bloomberg FOIA request:

The basic framework was strikingly simple. The U.S. would buy oil from Saudi Arabia and provide the kingdom military aid and equipment. In return, the Saudis would plow billions of their petrodollar revenue back into Treasuries and finance America's spending.
It took several discreet follow-up meetings to iron out all the details, Parsky said. But at the end of months of negotiations, there remained one small, yet crucial, catch: King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud demanded the country's Treasury purchases stay “strictly secret," according to a diplomatic cable obtained by Bloomberg from the National Archives database.
“Buying bonds and all that was a strategy to recycle petrodollars back into the U.S.," said David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington. But politically, “it's always been an ambiguous, constrained relationship."
(Source)

The essence of this deal is pretty simple. KSA wanted to be able to sell its oil to its then largest buyer, the USA, while also having a safe place to park the funds, plus receive military protection to boot. But it didn't want anybody else, especially its Arab neighbors, to know that it was partnering so intimately with the US who, in turn, would be supporting Israel. That would have been politically incendiary in the Middle East region, coming as it did right on the heels of the Yom Kipper War (1973).

As for the US, it got the oil it wanted and – double bonus time here – got KSA to recycle the very same dollars used to buy that oil back into Treasuries and contracts for US military equipment and training.

Sweet deal.

Note that this is yet another secret world-shaping deal successfully kept out of the media for over four decades. Yes Virginia, conspiracies do happen. Secrets can be (and are routinely) kept by hundreds, even thousands, of people over long stretches of time.

Since that key deal was struck back in the early 1970s, the KSA has remained a steadfast supporter of the US and vice versa. In return, the US has never said anything substantive about KSA's alleged involvement in 9/11 or its grotesque human and women's rights violations. Not a peep.

Until recently.

Then Things Started To Break Down

In 2015, King Salman came to power. Things began to change pretty quickly, especially once he elevated his son Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to a position of greater power.

Among MBS's first acts was to directly involve KSA into the Yemen civil war, with both troops on the ground and aerial bombings. That war has killed thousands of civilians while creating a humanitarian crisis that includes the largest modern-day outbreak of cholera, which is decimating highly populated areas. The conflct, which is considered a 'proxy war' because Iran is backing the Houthi rebels while KSA is backing the Yemeni government, continues to this day.

Then in 2016, KSA threatened to dump its $750 billion in (stated) US assets in response to a bill in Congress that would have released sensitive information implicating Saudi Arabia's involvement in 9/11. Then-president Obama had to fly over there to smooth things out. It seems the job he did was insufficient; because KSA-US relations unraveled at an accelerating pace afterwards. Mission NOT accomplished, it would seem.

In 2017, KSA accused Qatar of nefarious acts and made such extraordinary demands that an outbreak of war nearly broke out over the dispute., The Qatari leadership later accused KSA of fomenting 'regime change', souring the situation further. Again, Iran backed the Qatar government, which turned this conflict into another proxy battle between the two main Gulf region superpowers.

In parallel with all this, KSA was also supporting the mercenaries (aka "rebels" in western press) who were seeking to overthrow Assad in Syria -- yet another proxy war between KSA and Iran. It's been an open secret that, during this conflict, KSA has been providing support to some seriously bad terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, ISIS and other supposed enemies of the US/NATO. (Again, the US has never said 'boo' about that, proving that US rhetoric against "terrorists" is a fickle construct of political convenience, not a moral matter.)

Once Russia entered the war on the side of Syria's legitimate government, the US and KSA (and Israel) lost their momentum. Their dreams of toppling Assad and turning Syria into another failed petro-state like they did with Iraq and Libya are not likely to pan out as hoped.

But rather than retreat to lick their wounds, KSA's King Salman and his son are proving to be a lot nimbler than their predecessors.

Rather than continue a losing battle in Syria, they've instead turned their energies and attention to dramatically reshaping KSA's internal power structures:

Saudi Arabia's Saturday Night Massacre
For nearly a century, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by the elders of a royal family that now finds itself effectively controlled by a 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. He helms the Defense Ministry, he has extravagant plans for economic development, and last week arranged for the arrest of some of the most powerful ministers and princes in the country.
A day before the arrests were announced, Houthi tribesmen in Yemen but allied with Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival, fired a ballistic missile at Riyadh.
The Saudis claim the missile came from Iran and that its firing might be considered “an act of war."
Saudi Arabia was created between the two world wars under British guidance. In the 1920s, a tribe known as the Sauds defeated the Hashemites, effectively annexing the exterior parts of Saudi Arabia they did not yet control. The United Kingdom recognized the Sauds' claim shortly thereafter. But since then, the Saudi tribe has been torn by ambition, resentment and intrigue. The Saudi royal family has more in common with the Corleones than with a Norman Rockwell painting.
The direct attack was undoubtedly met with threats of a coup. Whether one was actually planned didn't matter. Mohammed Bin Salman had to assume these threats were credible since so many interests were under attack. So he struck first, arresting princes and ex-minsters who constituted the Saudi elite. It was a dangerous gamble. A powerful opposition still exists, but he had no choice but to act. He could either strike as he did last Saturday night, or allow his enemies to choose the time and place of that attack. Nothing is secure yet, but with this strike, there is a chance he might have bought time. Any Saudi who would take on princes and clerics is obviously desperate, but he may well break the hold of the financial and religious elite.
(Source)

This 32 year-old prince, Mohammed bin Salman has struck first and deep, completely upending the internal power dynamics of Saudi Arabia.

He's taken on the political, financial and religious elites head on. For example, pushing through the decision to allow women to drive; a provocative move designed to send a clear message to the clerics who might oppose him. That message is: "I'm not fooling around here."

This is a classic example of how one goes about purging the opposition when either taking over a government after a coup, or implementing a big new strategy at a major corporation. You have to remove any possible opponents and then install your own loyalists. According the Rules for Rulers, you do this by diverting a portion of the flow of funds to your new backers while diminishing, imprisoning or killing all potential enemies.

So far, Mohammed bin Salman's action plan is par for the course. No surprises.

The above article from Stratfor (well worth reading in its entirety) continues with these interesting insights:

The Iranians have been doing well since the nuclear deal was signed in 2015. They have become the dominant political force in Iraq. Their support for the Bashar Assad regime in Syria may not have been enough to save him, but Iran was on what appears to be the winning side in the Syrian civil war. Hezbollah has been hurt by its participation in the war but is reviving, carrying Iranian influence in Lebanon at a time when Lebanon is in crisis after the resignation of its prime minister last week.
The Saudis, on the other hand, aren't doing as well. The Saudi-built anti-Houthi coalition in Yemen has failed to break the Houthi-led opposition. And Iran has openly entered into an alliance with Qatar against the wishes of the Saudis and their ally, the United Arab Emirates.
Iran seems to sense the possibility of achieving a dream: destabilizing Saudi Arabia, ending its ability to support anti-Iranian forces, and breaking the power of the Sunni Wahhabis. Iran must look at the arrests in Saudi Arabia as a very bad move. And they may be. Mohammad bin Salman has backed the fundamentalists and the financial elite against the wall.
They are desperate, and now it is their turn to roll the dice. If they fall short, it could result in a civil war in Saudi Arabia. If Iran can hit Riyadh with missiles, the crown prince's opponents could argue that the young prince is so busy with his plans that he isn't paying attention to the real threat. For the Iranians, the best outcome is to have no one come out on top.
This would reconfigure the geopolitics of the Middle East, and since the U.S. is deeply involved there, it has decisions to make.

So given Yemen, Syria, and its recent domestic purges, Saudi Arabia is in turmoil. It's in a far weaker position than it was a short while ago.

This leaves the US in a far weaker regional position, too, at precisely the time when China and Russia are increasing their own presence (which we'll get to next).

But first we have to discuss what might happen if a civil war were to engulf Saudi Arabia. The price of oil would undoubtedly spike. In turn, that would cripple the weaker countries, companies and households around the world that simply cannot afford a higher oil price. And there's a lot of them.

Financial markets would destabilize as long-suppressed volatility would explode higher, creating horrific losses across the board. That very few investors are mentally or financially prepared for such carnage is a massive understatement.

So..if you were Saudi Arabia, in need of helpful allies after being bogged down in an unwinnable war in Yemen, just defeated in a proxy war in Syria, and your longtime 'ally', the US, is busy pumping as much of its own oil as it can, what would you do?

Pivot To China

Given its situation, is it really any surprise that King Salman and his son have decided to pivot to China? In need of a new partner that would align better with their current and future interests, China is the obvious first choice.

So in March 2017, only a very short while after Obama's failed visit, a large and well-prepared KSA entourage accompanied King Salman to Beijing and inked tens of billions in new business deals:

China, Saudi Arabia eye $65 billion in deals as king visits
Mar 16, 2017
BEIJING (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth as much as $65 billion on the first day of a visit to Beijing on Thursday, as the world's largest oil exporter looks to cement ties with the world's second-largest economy.
The deals included a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between giant state oil firm Saudi Aramco and China North Industries Group Corp (Norinco), to look into building refining and chemical plants in China.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Sinopec, which already jointly run a chemical complex in Tinajin, also agreed to develop petrochemical projects in both China and Saudi Arabia.
Salman told Xi he hoped China could play an even greater role in Middle East affairs, the ministry added.
Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the memorandums of understanding and letters of intent were potentially worth about $65 billion, involving everything from energy to space.
(Source)

This was a very big deal in terms of Middle East geopolitics. It shook up many decades of established power, resulting in a shift away from dependence on America.

The Saudis arrived in China with such a huge crowd in tow that a reported 150 cooks had been brought along to just to feed everyone in the Saudi visitation party.

The resulting deals struck involved everything from energy to infrastructure to information technology to space. And this was just on the first visit. Quite often a brand new trade delegation event involves posturing and bluffing and feeling each other out; not deals being struck. So it's clear that before the visit, well before, lots and lots of deals were being negotiated and terms agreed to so that the thick MOU files were ready to sign during the actual visit.

The scope and size of these business deals are eye catching, but the real clincher is King Salman's public statement expressing hope China will play "an even greater role in Middle East affairs."

That, right there, is the sound of the geopolitical axis-tilting. That public statement tells us everything we need to know about the sort of change the Salman dynasty intends to pursue.

So it should have surprised no one to hear that, in August this year, another $70 billion of new deals were announced between China and KSA. The fanfare extolled that Saudi-Sino relations had entered a new era, with “the agreements covering investment, trade, energy, postal service, communications, and media."

This is a very rapid pace for such large deals. If KSA and China were dating, they'd be talking about moving in together already. They're clearly at the selecting furniture and carpet samples stage.

As for the US? It seems KSA isn't even returning its calls or texts at this point.

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet...

All of the above merely describes how we arrived at where things stand today.

But as mentioned, the power grab underway in KSA by Mohammed bin Salman is unfolding in real-time. Developments are happening hourly -- while writing this, the very high-profile Prince Bandar bin Sultan (recent head of Saudi Intelligence and former longtime ambassador to the US) has been arrested.

The trajectory of events is headed in a direction that may well end the arrangement that has served as the axis around which geopolitics has spun for the past 40 years. The Saudis want new partners, and are courting China hard.

China, for reasons we discuss in Part 2 of this report, has an existential need to supplant America as Saudi Arabia's most vital oil customer.

And both Saudi Arabia and China are inking an increasing number of strategic oil deals with Russia. Why? We get into that in Part 2, too -- but suffice it to say, in the fast-shifting world of KSA foreign policy, it's China and Russia 'in', US 'out'.

Maybe not all the way out, but the US clearly has lost a lot of ground with KSA over the past few years. My analysis is that by funding an insane amount of shale oil development, at a loss, and at any cost (such as to our biggest Mideast ally) the US has time and again displayed that our 'friendship' does not run very deep. In a world where loyalty counts, the US has proved a disloyal partner. Can China position itself to be perceived of as a better mate? When it comes to business, I believe the answer is 'yes.'

In Part 2: The Oil Threat we couple these developments with China and Russia's recent efforts to drop the dollar from trade, especially when purchasing oil, and clearly see the unfolding of the biggest new driver of the world's financial, monetary and geopolitical arrangements in 50 years.

We also explain why, unless something very dramatically changes in either the supply or demand equation for oil, and soon, we can now put a timeline in place for when the great unraveling begins. Somewhere between the second half of 2018 and the end of 2019 oil will dramatically increase in price and that will shake the foundations of the global mountain of debt and its related underfunded liabilities. Think 9.0 on the financial Richter scale.

Let me be blunt - you have to have your preparations done before this happens. You really, really want to be a year early on this (at least). When it starts happening, the breakdown will progress faster than you can react.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

Glenn gives the latest coronavirus numbers, updating YOU on everything needed to know as Americans and officials monitor China's new COVID-19 virus:

Daily Stats as of 5:30 AM CT (from John's Hopkins)

  • Total Confirmed Cases Worldwide: 1,030,324 (up from 950,638 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Deaths Worldwide: 54,226 (up from 48,289 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Recovered Worldwide: 219,896 (up from 202,631 Yesterday)
  • 5% of Active Cases are considered serious (requiring hospitalization) Steady from 5% Yesterday, but down from 19% high back in February
  • Note that 12% of US Confirmed Cases require Hospitalization, roughly on par with Italy at 12% requiring hospitalization and lower than Spain, where 18% of patients require hospitalization.
  • US has 245,380 Confirmed Cases and 6,095 Deaths, up from 215,344 cases and 5,112 deaths yesterday
  • The US currently has 228,874 Active Cases of COVID-19, with about 1% of the US Population tested
  • 15% of Americans who have been tested have been diagnosed with COVID-19
White House to Recommend All Americans Wear Face Masks in Public https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/02/coronavirus-facemasks-policyreversal/
  • The White House is poised to urge Americans to wear cloth masks or face coverings in public to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, in a reversal of earlier advice.
  • President Trump said Thursday at a coronavirus task force briefing that "a recommendation is coming out," but "I don't think it will be mandatory. If people want to wear them, they can."
  • Later, however, a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to relate internal discussions, said that the guidance being considered is "narrowly targeted to areas with high community transmission" and that the matter remains under discussion.
  • A new Memo from the CDC states: "In light of new data, along with evidence of widespread transmission in communities across the country, CDC recommends the community use of cloth masks as an additional public health measure people can take to prevent the spread of the virus to those around them."
  • The recommendations represent a major change in CDC guidance that healthy people don't need masks or face coverings.
  • The news comes as Laredo, TX joins more than a dozen American cities or Counties that have mandated the use of face masks for all persons in public spaces such as grocery stores or shopping centers. Violaters without a facemask risk up to a $1000 fine. https://www.foxnews.com/us/texas-city-fine-people-who-dont-cover-faces-outside-coronavirus
  • Similar provisions are being considered for the entire State of California, according to Governor Gavin Newsom's office.
Anti-body Tests Getting Accelerated Availability https://news.yahoo.com/antibody-tests-key-ending-covid-19-lockdowns-162305617.html
  • Unlike Vaccine testing and production which could take months or years, SARS-CoV-2 Antibody tests could be available in the US in a few weeks.
  • Such tests could be key in enabling the partial lifting of lockdown and shelter-in-place orders, as authorities could determine who might already have immunity to the virus and could return to work.
  • "If we can determine someone's already had the virus and now has immunity and is no longer contagious to others, that's what we're looking for here," said Anthony Fauci in Thursday's White House COVID-19 Task Force update.
  • However, it should be noted that researchers have yet to determine if anti-body production renders people permanently or only temporarily immune to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
  • While some Virus immunities, such as Chicken Pox, are generally permanent immunities, others, such as SARS-1 and Rhinovirus (the common cold) grant only short-term, multi-month immunity...which is why people can get a cold each year.
  • Most known Coronavirus immunities in humans are not permanent, researchers have noted. Influenza, for example, grants only seasonal immunity and can be caught again only a few months later.
Lord Have Mercy...Hospital Ships Sit Empty https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/nyregion/ny-coronavirus-usns-comfort.html
  • The much-touted Navy Hospital Ships in New York and Los Angeles sit 95% empty as of Thursday evening.
  • In New York, The USNS Comfort's 1,000 beds are largely unused, its 1,200-member crew mostly idle. "We're waiting for patients," one nurse was quoted by the New York Times.
  • Only 20 patients had been transferred to the ship, officials said, even as New York hospitals struggled to find space for the thousands infected with the coronavirus.
  • Another Navy hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, docked in Los Angeles, has had a total of 15 patients, officials said.
  • "If I'm blunt about it, it's a joke," said Michael Dowling, the head of Northwell Health, New York's largest hospital system. "Everyone can say, 'Thank you for putting up these wonderful places and opening up these cavernous halls.' But we're in a crisis here, we're in a battlefield."
  • What's the issue? In classic government style: Red Tape.
  • On top of its strict rules preventing people infected with the virus from coming on board, the Navy is also refusing to treat a host of other conditions. Guidelines disseminated to hospitals included a list of 49 medical conditions that would exclude a patient from admittance to the ship.
  • Ambulances cannot take patients directly to the Comfort; they must first deliver patients to a city hospital for a lengthy evaluation — including a test for the virus — and then pick them up again for transport to the ship. With 911 call centers already massively over-capacity, ambulances aren't available to take non-infected persons to each ship.
  • Meanwhile, across New York hospitals are overrun. Patients have died in hallways before they could even be hooked up to one of the few available ventilators in New York. Doctors and nurses, who have had to use the same protective gear, again and again, are getting sick.
  • "So many people are dying that the city is running low on body bags," Dowling said. "The Coroner's office told our administrator to start double-wrapping bodies in sheets for the time being."
In Hopeful Sign, University of Pittsburgh Researchers May Have Found COVID-19 Vaccine https://nypost.com/2020/04/02/scientists-believe-they-found-potential-coronavirus-vaccine/
  • Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine believe that they've found a potential vaccine for the new coronavirus.
  • The researchers announced their findings Thursday and believe the vaccine could be rolled out quickly enough to "significantly impact the spread of disease," according to their study published in EBioMedicine.
  • The vaccine would be delivered on a small, fingertip-sized patch. When tested on mice, the vaccine produced enough antibodies believed to successfully counteract the virus.
  • The scientists say they were able to act fast because they had already done research on the similar coronaviruses SARS and MERS.
  • The Trump Administration ordered the FDA to fast-track the next phase of Animal trials for the experimental vaccine.
  • Officials did warn that even if successful, human trials and ultimate production could still be as many as 12-18 months away.
  • "It's early, but this is a very positive result," the lead scientist said in an interview. "We're well on our way."
Vermont, Maryland Make Buying Seeds to Grow Food Illegal https://www.eagletimes.com/covid_19/large-retailers-stop-in-person-sales-of-nonessential-items-in-vermont/article_c1d0e43c-7432-11ea-8ca9-a30ed891d9fd.htmlimage.png Canada's Farmers Warn of Food Supply Impact Due to Non-Essential Designation https://ipolitics.ca/2020/04/02/the-sprout-canadian-farmers-worry-for-food-supply/, https://business.financialpost.com/commodities/agriculture/agriculture-sector-scrambling-to-offset-consequences-of-covid-19-crisis
  • Canada's government issues a list of industries and jobs it deemed essential, including food delivery, shipping & logistics, medical care, energy production & delivery.
  • One industry that was glaringly absent: agricultural production.
  • Like the US, Canada's agricultural industry relies on migrant and seasonal workers to plant and harvest foods, especially key fruits and vegetables that must be picked by hand.
  • Industry representatives have begun to petition the government to include Ag production an essential service so travel restrictions can be relaxed to allow workers to travel into Canada and use of public transportation systems to get to where planting activities must occur soon to allow for Fall food harvests.
  • Canada's Federation of Independent Grocers also extended a warning to the Government that it projects food costs in Canada could rise by as much as 90% in the coming months due to COVID-19 related disruptions. https://nationvalleynews.com/2020/04/01/grocers-group-warns-rising-food-costs-come/
Industry Expert Warns Illness Among Agricultural Workers Could Threaten US Food Supplies https://www.msn.com/en-us/finance/markets/an-outbreak-among-farm-workers-would-be-catastrophic/ar-BB1257dl
  • Much of the US food supply chain is staffed by low-wage workers, many of them undocumented immigrants with limited ties to health services.
  • The Pew Research Center has estimated that about one-quarter of U.S. farmworkers are undocumented.
  • A 2019 U.S. Department of Labor survey estimated that the share of field workers who are undocumented is closer to half of all farmworkers.
  • The food processing industry also has high numbers of undocumented workers, as do many of the nation's smaller grocers and fast-food restaurants.
  • Immigrant farming communities are often close-knit, with laborers living and working in close proximity, with workers sharing hotel rooms and even make-shift Tents with cots, to save on costs.
  • As the California-based Western Growers Association states, "Social distancing is difficult or perhaps impossible in certain settings such as harvesting, transport (of workers) and housing."
  • One California grower told National Public Radio that if the coronavirus penetrates the agricultural community, "it will spread like wildfire."
  • The news comes as Mexico only recently restricted movements and travel, issuing shelter-in-place orders for 90% of the country.
  • The Trump Administration recently eased restrictions on H-2a Ag Worker visas, but industry experts warned many workers planned to stay in Mexico or other Central American countries due to travel restrictions now in effect in those countries. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-03-27/state-department-eases-requirements-for-h2a-visa
  • The Western Growers Association currently estimates a 30% reduction in labor force this year, which may be further impacted if COVID-19 spreads among workers who live and work in tight close quarters.
LA Mayor: "Snitches Get Rewards" https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/03/31/coronavirus-los-angeles-eric-garcetti-snitches-get-rewards/
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced new guidelines for construction sites that continue to operate during the coronavirus pandemic while encouraging the community to report businesses that violate the Safer at Home order.
  • Garcetti said that since the stay at home order was put in place, the city has been told about construction sites that have not been following the guidelines set out in that order.
  • "You know the old expression about snitches, well in this case snitches get rewards," Garcetti said. "We want to thank you for turning folks in and making sure we are all safe."
  • As of Tuesday afternoon, Garcetti said "business ambassadors" from the city had visited 540 businesses that had not complied with the Safer at Home order. Of those, 144 were visited by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department to ensure compliance with the order.
  • So far, Four businesses have been referred to the city attorney's office for misdemeanor filings.
  • The story comes as business owners across the US have been cited and even arrested for violating House Arrest orders, many turned in by way of anonymous calls to police departments. https://apnews.com/343ed4a8e95dfc8f8dda87b9e450ca57
In Germany, Hundreds of Citations Handed Out Based on Anonymous Reports and Emails to Police Departments https://news.trust.org/item/20200402160625-8y12u
  • (Headline Bloomberg News) Germans snitch on neighbors flouting virus rules, in an echo of the Stasi past
  • Law-abiding Germans are zealously helping police crackdown on people flouting new social distancing rules aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus by reporting on strangers, neighbors and friends.
  • In a country where denunciation was commonplace under the Communists in East Germany and Hitler's Nazis, police forces across the country are getting tip-offs on anything from "corona parties" to people driving to weekend cottages.
  • Rules introduced in March forcing restaurants, pubs and sports facilities to shut and banning gatherings of people have given police plenty of work. With the number of corona cases and deaths climbing fast, there is no sign of easing enforcement.
  • Since March 14, police in the German capital have ordered 830 pubs, shisha bars and other establishments to shut and recorded 898 crimes.
  • "We are getting tip-offs from the public about open restaurants or large gatherings of people in parks," said a spokeswoman, adding officers were, as always, ready to deal with information from the public.
  • Forces around Germany are in a similar situation. Munich police took up to 150 calls every day last week from citizens reporting alleged breaches of corona rules, according to Spiegel Online.

For weeks now, our political leaders and the media have been repeating the World Health Organization's claim that non-medical-grade face masks don't work when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. So, why are infectious disease experts now reconsidering their guidelines?

According to the New York Times, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, said the guidance on wearing non-medical masks is "being critically re-reviewed, to see if there's potential additional value for individuals that are infected or individuals that may be asymptomatically infected."

In actuality, they didn't trust the American people to do the right thing and prioritize healthcare workers to receive masks first, opined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday. But they do work, and "if we're going to open the country up, we are going to all have to wear face masks," he said.

Listen to the clip to hear more details:

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Face Masks DO Work, US Cases Per Capita, and WHO Lies for Communist China youtu.be

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William "Bill" Kelly is 95-year-old World War II veteran from Oregon. He lived through the Great Depression.
He served in the South Pacific during World War II. And now he has just fought the coronavirus -- and won.

Bill joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to share his experience and a hopeful message about why the younger generations can overcome this crisis.

"I want to tell the people, it wasn't pleasant, but on the other hand, you know, if you do what you're supposed to do, and you have some loved ones around you, and do a lot of praying, why, you'll come through okay. We [American's] have been through a lot. We've been through Pearl Harbor. We've been through the Great Depression, and who knows what else. We're tough. We'll get through it. Hang in there," Bill said.

"You know, it's just -- it's in our American blood," he added. "We're that type of people. We take care of each other, and we are not going to break down. We're going to make it through, every time. Every time."

"There are people that don't think we are those people anymore. That it was the greatest generation -- your generation -- that did it, but now we're not the same people. Do you agree with that? Glenn asked.

"No," asserted Bill. "And the reason I say that is because I remember when I was a young kid, you know, and people, the older people, said 'all those young kids are soft' ... but when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor -- sneak attack, you know -- it's surprising how those so-called goofy kids turned into mighty fine fighting people. And they're very loyal. I have lots of faith in them ... no, I don't have any problems with this new generation. They'll take care of us. We're Americans."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Glenn gives the latest coronavirus numbers, updating YOU on everything needed to know as Americans and officials monitor China's new COVID-19 virus:

Daily Stats as of 5:30 AM CT (from John's Hopkins)

  • Total Confirmed Cases Worldwide: 950,638 (up from 872,891 Yesterday)
  • Total Deaths Worldwide: 48,289 (up from 43,271 Yesterday)
  • Total Confirmed Recovered Worldwide: 202,631 (up from 184,588 Yesterday)
  • 5% of Active Cases are considered serious (requiring hospitalization) Steady from 5% Yesterday, but down from 19% high back in February
  • Note that 12% of US Confirmed Cases require Hospitalization, roughly on par with Italy at 12% requiring hospitalization
  • US has 215,344 Confirmed Cases and 5,112 Deaths, up from 188,592 cases and 4,056 deaths yesterday
  • COVID-19 is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, behind Heart Disease and Cancer (based on daily fatalities per 1,000 people)
  • The United States of America now leads the world in total confirmed cases, with 115,000 more cases than Italy (although Italy leads the world in Deaths with 13,155 officially dead)
  • US is 25th in Total Confirmed Cases per 1 Million Population, with 651 cases per 1 Million people. Spain has 2,583 Cases per 1 Million people.
  • US is 23rd in Total Confirmed Dead per 1 Million Population, with 15 Dead per 1 Million citizens. Italy has 218 Dead per 1 Million.
  • US has 5,112 Dead vs 8,878 Recovered and 5,075 in Critical Condition
  • The US currently has 201,354 Active Cases of COVID-19, with still less than 1% of the total US population tested.
  • 17% of Americans who have been tested have been diagnosed with COVID-19
COVID-19 Now Killing Victims Who Don't Have COVID-19 https://nypost.com/2020/04/02/coronavirus-nyc-emts-stop-taking-cardiac-arrest-patients-to-hospitals/
  • EMTs in New York have been given a directive not to transport heart-attack victims to hospitals if they cannot be revived at the scene.
  • Prior cardiac arrest victims would have been transported to hospitals for further life-saving procedures, but with hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, heart attack victims are solely in the hands of local EMTs. If EMTs cannot restore a pulse at the scene, victims are to be left there to die.
  • "Artificial ventilation and/or compressions must not be delayed," the memo states, adding that chest "compressions must begin as soon as it is determined the patient does not have a pulse."
  • But the guidelines change if the patient cannot be revived before arriving at a hospital.
  • "In the event a resuscitation is terminated, and the body is in public view, the body can be left in the custody of the NYPD."
China Lied, People Died Trending on Social Media https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-01/china-concealed-extent-of-virus-outbreak-u-s-intelligence-says
  • US Intelligence Services has concluded what the Internet has known since January: The Chinese Communist Party lied about total infected and total deaths due to Coronavirus.
  • Citing a report provided to the White House last week, officials confirmed that US Intelligence concludes 'gross' underreporting of total cases and total deaths, especially from Hubei Province.
  • Many have speculated that numbers coming out of China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and other totalitarian countries have been dramatically underreported, by as much as a factor of 10 according to official British Intelligence reports.
  • The early misrepresentation of data by the CCP may have lead some Western Politicians and epidemiologists to underestimate the seriousness of COVID-19 and delayed response in Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.
  • Though why anybody would have believed anything the Chinese Communist Party had to say remains an open question...
Italy's Death Toll Far Higher Than Reported https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/italys-coronavirus-death-toll-is-far-higher-than-reported/ar-BB122vvc
  • In the town of Coccaglio, an hour's drive east of here, the local nursing home lost over a third of its residents in March. None of the 24 people who died there were tested for the new coronavirus. Nor were the 38 people who died in another nursing home in the nearby town of Lodi.
  • These aren't isolated incidents. Italy's official death toll from the virus stands at 13,155, the most of any country in the world. But that number tells only part of the story because many people who die from the virus don't make it to the hospital and are never tested, therefore they aren't included in official numbers.
  • "They were all sick, they all had flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing," stated a nurse from one of the nursing homes. "We had no ambulance to get them to Milan."
  • In the areas worst hit by the pandemic, Italy is undercounting thousands of deaths caused by the virus, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows, indicating that the pandemic's human toll may end up being much greater, and infections far more widespread, than official data indicate.
  • As stretched and sometimes overwhelmed hospitals fight to save their patients, many other people die unseen and uncounted, including elderly people in out-of-the-way locations.
  • In addition, the health-care crisis can lead to a surge of deaths from other causes that would normally be treatable.
  • "There are many more dead from the virus than are officially declared... People died and they were never tested because time and resources are limited," Eugenio Fossati, deputy mayor of Coccaglio, says of deaths caused by the virus.
More Numbers Hard to Trust as Bodies Left On The Streets in Ecuador https://www.scmp.com/news/world/americas/article/3078077/coronavirus-bodies-are-being-left-streets-ecuador
  • Coronavirus: bodies are being left on the streets in Ecuador.
  • 'They fall in front of hospitals or in back street alleys, or in small villages…no one wants to recover them,' says the mayor of Ecuador's largest city.
  • The army is placing unclaimed bodies in refrigerated cargo containers at the port while authorities pursue plans for a new cemetery.
  • The corpses have been overwhelming Guayaquil, a port city of 2.8 million at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Ecuador.
  • Over the last few days, several were wrapped in plastic and left on the streets. Others have lain unclaimed in hospitals and clinics that have been overwhelmed by infections. The city morgue is full.
  • The majority of the dead are believed to be victims of the virus, but nobody can say for sure how many. There has been little testing.
  • The country has confirmed 2,700 infections and 93 deaths - 60 of them in Guayaquil and its immediate surroundings. But municipal officials there said they have recovered at least 400 bodies in the last 3 days.
  • Mayor Cynthia Viteri, who announced that she has also tested positive for the virus, said the national government should be responsible for collecting the corpses.
  • "They're leaving them in the villages, they are stacked in front of hospitals," she said in a Twitter video message to residents late last week.
  • Many local villages in Ecuador are simply burying the dead in unmarked graves, which will make official counting of COVID-19 victims impossible in the weeks ahead.
50% of Viral Spread Comes from People With No Symptoms https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/01/health/us-coronavirus-updates-wednesday/index.html
  • Researchers in Iceland have confirmed earlier reports from Hong Kong that a significant amount of viral spread is caused by carriers who have no symptoms.
  • In the US, Doctors at the CDC have confirmed asymptomatic spread, but estimate a number of about 25%.
  • If true, then the case for all persons to wear masks, even those who don't have symptoms, becomes much stronger.
  • To prevent further spread, the top infectious disease expert in the US says health officials are reconsidering guidance on face masks.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would "lean towards" recommending that the general public wear face masks "if we do not have the problem of taking away masks from the health care workers who need them. The public can stay home to avoid infection, but health care workers cannot," he said.
  • "We're not there yet, but I think we're close to coming to some determination," Fauci said.
Ship vs Train... Ship Wins https://abc7.com/usns-mercy-coronavirus-train-crash-derailment/6069395/
  • A Locomotive Engineer in Los Angeles has been charged with 1 Count of "Train Wrecking", a Class A Felony under Federal Law, after purposely derailing his freight train while attempting to sink the US Hospital ship Mercy.
  • Eduardo Moreno, 44, intended to hit the ship, saying he thought it was "suspicious" and did not believe "the ship is what they say it's for.'"
  • Moreno admitted to crashing the train intentionally but said he did not plan it out in advance. It is believed that he acted alone.
  • He allegedly made statements to a CHP officer that included "You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don't know what's going on here. Now they will."
  • Officials say video from inside the train's cab shows Moreno holding a lighted flare during the incident.
Biggest Issue With COVID-19 in Malaysia: Nagging Wives https://www.npr.org/2020/04/01/825051317/dont-nag-your-husband-during-lock-down-malaysias-government-advises-women
  • Malaysia has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with more than 2,900 and counting.
  • This week, Malaysia's government also had a serious public relations issue after an ill-conceived plan went online.
  • Malaysia's Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development issued a series of online posters on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19. It advised the nation's women to help with the country's partial lockdown by not nagging their husbands.
  • The ministry also advised women to refrain from being "sarcastic" if they asked for help with household chores.
  • Additionally, the Ministry urged women working from home to dress up and wear makeup.
  • After some negative response on social media, the public service messages have been removed from the Ministry's Facebook page.