All of this means nothing if the Attorney General decides not to prosecute for whatever political reason.


‘Well, Son of a *****: Ukrainian Judge Orders Court to Name Biden as Alleged Perpetrator In Firing of Prosecutor General

We’ve all seen the clip at least a hundred times. Speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event in January 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden boasted that in the spring of 2016, he threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine unless then-President Petro Poroshenko fired the prosecutor who was investigating Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings in the next six hours.

“I said, ‘you’re not getting the billion’ … I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b****, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

Hunter Biden was appointed to Burisma’s board of directors in 2014 shortly after Joe Biden became President Obama’s point man for Ukraine and was paid $83,000 per month. In March 2016, Burisma and its owner/founder Mykola Zlochevsky were under investigation by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Shokin was about to question Hunter Biden when his father delivered his now-famous ultimatum.

Unfortunately for Biden, Shokin refused to go quietly in the night.

French media outlet Les Crises reported in January that Shokin filed a federal complaint with Ukraine’s National Bureau of Investigation (NABU) which accuses Biden of abusing his power. At that time, Ukrainian District Court Judge S. V. Vovk ordered the Prosecutor General’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigations to review Shokin’s claim.

In April, Just the News’ John Solomon reported that Vovk ordered the country’s law enforcement services to formally list the fired prosecutor, Victor Shokin, as the victim of an alleged crime.

Still, Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies “refused to name Biden as the alleged perpetrator of the crime, instead listing the potential defendant as an unnamed American.”

All of that has recently changed. Vovk ruled that “anonymous listing was improper and ordered the law enforcement agencies to formally name Biden as the accused perpetrator.” Vovk’s ruling states:

A competent person of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine who conducts procedural management in criminal proceedings No. 62020000000000236 dated February 24, 2020 to enter information into the Unified register of pre-trial investigations … a summary of facts that may indicate the commission of a criminal offense under Paragraph 2 of Article 343 of the Criminal procedure code of Ukraine on criminal proceedings No. 62020000000000236 dated February 24, 2020, namely: information on interference in the activities of the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Shokin, Viktor Mykolaiovych performed by citizen of the United States of America Joseph Biden, former U.S. Vice President…

The order of the court may not be appealed.

(Ukraine Court Ruling (English Translation): 4-21-20 Shokin Case)

Solomon later confirmed the story with Shokin’s attorney, Oleksandr Ivanovych Teleshetskyi. He told Solomon that Ukraine officials have not yet complied.

Teleshetskyi said, “Viktor Shokin publicly appealed to the president of Ukraine with a request to properly respond to illegal inaction in the investigation of criminal cases that are open against Joseph Biden. Let me remind you that they were discovered precisely as a result of the statement of Viktor Shokin.”

Biden freely admits he pressured Poroshenko to fire Shokin, however, he continues to deny the firing had anything to do with his son’s position on Burisma’s board. He claims that Shokin was corrupt.

Solomon reports:

Shokin, however, has alleged in a court affidavit he was told he was fired because he refused to stand down his investigation of alleged corruption by Burisma and after he planned to call Hunter Biden as a witness to question him about millions of dollars in payments his American firm received from the Ukraine gas company.

Shokin has also disputed Democrats’ claims he was fired because he was incompetent or corrupt, producing among other pieces of evidence a letter from the U.S. State Department in summer 2015 that praised his anti-corruption plan as Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.

While the Biden-Shokin factual dispute remains unresolved, the impeachment trial last year generated testimony from State Department witnesses who said they believed Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma while his father oversaw U.S.-Ukraine policy created an uncomfortable appearance of a conflict of interest.

Both Bidens have denied wrongdoing but acknowledged they wished they had handled the matter differently.

Shokin’s continued pursuit of a case in the Ukraine courts could prompt new disclosures this summer as Biden readies for the fall election against Trump.

Solomon interviewed Shokin who claims he has evidence that “Ukraine officials were satisfied with his performance” and that he was fired only because of Biden’s threat.

On Tuesday, an audio recording of an alleged telephone conversation between Biden and Poroshenko leaked by Ukraine Member of Parliament Andrii Derkach. No one has confirmed if the tapes are authentic at this point. My colleague, Streiff, posted on this story here.

On the recording, Poroshenko tells Biden he has fired Shokin. Biden is heard saying, “And I’m a man of my word. And now that the new Prosecutor General is in place, we’re ready to move forward to signing that one billion dollar loan guarantee.”

8 May

1886 Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, begins offering a bubbly beverage called Coca-Cola, a patent medicine said to ease ailments such as dyspepsia, headache, impotence, and morphine addiction.

1945 VE DAY. “The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 23.01 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945…”  German Instrument of Surrender, Article 2

UK Enters Deepest Recession on Record, Bank Warns

The Bank of England on Thursday warned that the UK economy is heading towards its deepest recession on record, as the British economy will shrink by 14 percent this year. The Covid-19 pandemic was “dramatically reducing jobs and incomes in the UK”, it said. Bank governor Andrew Bailey told the BBC there would be no quick return to normality. The EU has forecast an eight-percent contraction for the UK.


EU Set for Record Recession, Putting Euro at Risk

The EU is heading for a historic economic recession on the back of the coronavirus pandemic, and a patchy rebound could put the single currency at risk.

The eurozone is projected to contract by 7.75 percent and the EU to be hit by 7.5 percent this year, according to a forecast published by the commission on Wednesday.

EU facing collapse: Coronavirus has accelerated bloc’s descent – eurozone on brink
THE plight of the eurozone now amounts to an “existential crisis” for the EU, exposing a “fundamental chasm” at the heart of the bloc, most notably between Germany and Italy, former Tory leader William Hague has said.

“To put it crudely, Italians will not work as productively as Germans, and Germans will not agree to pay off the debts of Italians.”

Mr Hague added: “Without this crisis, such a fundamental chasm in the foundations of the euro would have continued to be a troubling but not imminent problem. Now it has yawned wide open.”

The Embassy of Switzerland in the United States posted an image of the American flag projection with a message for Americans.

“INCREDIBLE! As a sign of solidarity, the American flag was projected onto the Matterhorn last night. Switzerland is sending hope and strength to the United States of America,”

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

And why should we be concerned?


British Even Take Guns From Royal Bodyguards

By now, we know that the British aren’t fond of guns to any degree. After all, their own police are generally unarmed, something that would never fly here in the United States.

Thankfully.

But just how bad is it? It seems the British government has opted to disarm at least some bodyguards of members of the royal family.

Royal bodyguards responsible for keeping the outcast Prince Andrew and a number of other royals safe have had their guns swapped out for cheaper tasers, it has been reported.

The royal protection officers assigned to Princess Anne and Prince Edward have also allegedly lost their firearms as part of a drive to reduce protection costs for minor royals and politicians, the Sun reports.

The thing is, while tasers cost less, they’re also less effective. Especially if you have multiple attackers, something members of the royal family might well have to face.

Would those who have made this decision think the cost savings are worth it should one of these members of the royal family be kidnapped or murdered because their bodyguards lacked the appropriate tools?

Met Police personal protection officers guarding The Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Duchess Kate will still carry pistols.

And it is believed that when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are visiting the UK from their new home in LA, their officers too will only be armed with stun guns.

The move is reportedly part of a drive to move expenses from protective duties into other departments such as terror and gang crime.

But the cuts – alongside the fact that officers have been told their roles have become more advisory and less active – have not gone down well with senior staff.

Oh, I can’t imagine why. “Hey, I know you’re responsible for protecting these members of the royal family, but we’re going to hamstring your ability to do it by taking away the most effective tool for the job. But at least we’ll save a bit of money!”

Yeah, that’s a winning argument.

Of course, this is the British we’re talking about here. While they may like their royals, they really hate guns and seem to think you can get along just fine without them. Which is why a terrorist with a knife is able to run amok striking fear into many a heart in the city until some dude fights back with a narwhal tusk.

Here, we just shoot the bastard and call it a day.

Remember what happened when terrorists tried to attack an art show in Texas? They never even made it out of the parking lot.

Frankly, protecting royals is the kind of job I wouldn’t do on a bet, and that’s if they armed me for the job. Every one of them is a huge target and everyone knows it. It’s only a matter of time before this results in one of them being killed or kidnapped.

At that point, we Americans are going to shrug and recognize that this kind of thing wouldn’t happen if their bodyguards had the means to put down attackers like rabid dogs.

Globalism, which assumes there are no differences between cultures and that totalitarian states are as trustworthy as free ones, is a luxury.
It is a luxury of those wealthy enough that they can afford to ignore reality.  In the past those that wealthy were few and far between. For a very short time, the West could afford to be that stupid. Not any more.

The Cluebat is a harsh teacher.


Europe Wasn’t Ready for Coronavirus. It May Never Fully Recover.

On November 28th, 2019, the European Union officially and solemnly declared the “climate emergency,” in a ceremony presided over by the would-be 17-year-old prophet Greta Thunberg. Today, almost four months later, in the midst of a real emergency, the only thing that remains official and solemn in that declaration is its ridiculousness. That, and the no-holds-barred death match between the Union’s partners to seize containers of respirators and face masks destined for other countries in order to save their own. “The European Union either gets this health crisis right, or it will be dead,” I heard the former president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, say the day before yesterday. At the moment, the European Union seems to be MIA, along with the “climate emergency.” Each day that passes, the hope of finding it alive diminishes………

The reactions of politicians in Europe reflect the bewilderment of those who were living in the Matrix and have just been awakened………

Europe, whose nations had staked everything on an all-powerful state that could protect its citizens from all evil, has been cruelly disappointed. The future is uncertain. But what is certain is that death and poverty are two words that will stay with us for a long time. Europeans now miss having competent governments, cohesive civil societies, responsible economic administrations, and citizens capable of giving their lives for others — that is to say, citizens with values. The same values that were deliberately excluded in the European Constitution in order to please the extreme left-wing secularists.


Italians burn EU flag, vow to leave EU over EU’s lousy coronavirus response.

France Issues Rallying Calls to ‘Buy French’ as Coronavirus Erodes EU Single Market.

 

Coronavirus: The European Union Unravels

As the coronavirus pandemic rages through Europe — where more than 250,000 people have now been diagnosed with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 15,000 have died — the foundational pillars of the European Union are crumbling one by one.

Faced with an existential threat, EU member states, far from joining together to confront the pandemic as a unified bloc, instinctively are returning to pursuing the national interest. After years of criticizing U.S. President Donald J. Trump for pushing an “America First” policy, European leaders are reverting to the very nationalism they have publicly claimed to despise………

In an article titled, “Coronavirus Threatens European Unity,” Bill Wirtz, a political commentator based in Luxembourg, observed:

“As the coronavirus unfolds, Schengen countries are shutting their own borders. Whether or not they do so because they believe that a coordinated European response would be inefficient, or whether they believe that their own voters wouldn’t buy it — at this stage it’s irrelevant. The mere fact that borders have resurfaced in Europe is a failure for the integrity of the Schengen open borders agreement….

Darren McCaffrey, the political editor of the France-based news channel Euronewswrote:

“In the past couple of weeks, solidarity has collapsed in the bloc. Countries have started imposing border controls on neighboring EU countries, and even Germany has taken steps to manage the flow of people entering and leaving its territory.

In an article titled, “Nations First: The EU Struggles for Relevance in the Fight against Coronavirus,” the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel noted:

“As the pandemic takes hold in Europe, the decades-old union is showing its weaknesses. While the EU managed to survive Brexit and the euro crisis, the corona crisis may yet prove to be an insurmountable challenge.

The signal is clear: When things get serious, every member state still looks out for itself first — even 60 years after the founding of the community.”

“It briefed well.” Sarcastic military aphorism after a plan fails


Coronavirus: Europe’s ‘Open Borders’ System Faces Collapse

As a growing number of countries close their borders to fight the coronavirus pandemic, the European system of open internal borders — a cornerstone of European integration — is on the brink of collapse.

The so-called Schengen Area, which comprises 26 European countries, entered into effect in 1995 and abolishes the need for passports and other types of control at mutual borders. It is a key practical and symbolic achievement of European integration and is now falling apart.

In a move packed with political significance, Germany, the largest and most powerful country in the European Union, on March 16 introduced controls on its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland after it registered 1,000 new cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in just one day.

Isis issues coronavirus travel advice: terrorists should avoid Europe

The Isis terrorist group is steering clear of Europe because of the coronavirus. Having previously urged its supporters to attack European cities, the group is now advising members to “stay away from the land of the epidemic” in case they become infected.
The group has issued a new set of “sharia directives” that instruct followers to “cover their mouths when yawning and sneezing” and to wash their hands regularly. Isis militants have plenty of experience in covering their faces, though previously they did so to hide their identities when beheading hostages on camera.
In the latest issue of its al-Naba newsletter, the group refers not to guidance from the World Health Organisation or other medical experts, but to recorded quotes by the Prophet Muhammad, known to Muslims as hadiths.
The newsletter refers to a “plague” described as a “torment sent by God on whomsoever He wills”. Another message notes: “Illnesses do not strike by themselves but by the command and decree of God.”
Isis has lost almost all its so-called caliphate in the Middle East after a string of defeats , but its fragmented remains are still active in Iraq and Syria.
The newsletter warned that the “healthy should not enter the land of the epidemic and the afflicted should not exit from it”.
But it may not be safe in the Middle East either — Iraq has already reported 101 cases of the coronavirus and 10 deaths.

White House Adds United Kingdom to Expanded Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

I had wondered, what with the UK being among the nations with a higher infection rate, why it was originally not included.

Vice President Mike Pence announced during Saturday’s coronavirus press briefing that the United Kingdom has been added to the White House’s coronavirus travel restriction list.

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday night that the U.S. would ban all travel for foreign nationals who had recently visited Europe but kept the U.K. off that list. Politico accused the White House of exempting the U.K. in order to protect business at the three Trump-owned golf resorts in Scotland and Ireland.

Coronavirus: Europe Now Epicentre of the Pandemic, Says WHO

Europe is now the “epicentre” of the global coronavirus pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization says.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to use aggressive measures, community mobilisation and social distancing to save lives.

“Do not just let this fire burn,” he said.

His comments came as several European countries reported steep rises in infections and deaths. Italy has recorded its highest daily toll yet.

There were 250 deaths recorded over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.

Spain, the worst-affected European country after Italy, reported a 50% jump in fatalities to 120 on Friday. Infections increased to 4,231.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says a state of alert will come into effect there on Saturday for two weeks.

Why Europe could be worse off than China

Analysis box by James Gallagher, health and science correspondent

The number of cases of coronavirus reported every day in Europe has surpassed China at its peak.

But Europe is in a worse position.

The overwhelming majority of China’s cases were in one place, Hubei province and those were largely concentrated in one city, Wuhan.

It was dealt with by an authoritarian government that imposed the biggest quarantine in human history.

While there are hotspots in Europe, this is an outbreak across a continent and different countries are adopting very different strategies for dealing with coronavirus.

All these figures are based on cases that have been detected, but scientists fear there could be large outbreaks going on unnoticed in countries that don’t have the tools to spot them.

Delingpole: Trump Was Right to Shut the Gates on Plague Pit Europe

President Trump has suspended all travel from mainland Europe. If this sounds excessive you clearly haven’t been paying attention to just how bad things have got with the coronavirus in parts of the continent.

Northern Italy, especially, is experiencing horrors more redolent of a Medieval plague than of an advanced economy in the 21st century.

This thread, reportedly from a doctor working in an Accident and Emergency department in a Northern Italian hospital, gives a grim taste:

The current situation is difficult to imagine and numbers do not explain things at all. Our hospitals are overwhelmed by Covid-19, they are running 200% capacity

We’ve stopped all routine, all ORs have been converted to ITUs and they are now diverting or not treating all other emergencies like trauma or strokes. There are hundreds of pts with severe resp failure and many of them do not have access to anything above a reservoir mask.

Patients above 65 or younger with comorbidities are not even assessed by ITU, I am not saying not tubed, I’m saying not assessed and no ITU staff attends when they arrest. Staff are working as much as they can but they are starting to get sick and are emotionally overwhelmed.

In other words, many of Italy’s hospitals are overwhelmed. Every day they are having to make terrible Sophie’s Choice style decisions about which patients to save and which ones should be condemned to death — because they simply don’t have enough staff or equipment to keep them all alive.

Unless Trump takes drastic action — presuming it isn’t already too late — then this is the fate that awaits America too.

That’s why he was absolutely right to act in this dramatic way and for at least two good reasons.

First, political: it’s imperative — especially for those of us who believe that a second Trump term is America’s only hope — that by the year-end, when with luck the pandemic will have passed or at least diminished, President Trump emerges as a man who handled this crisis decisively and effectively. It would be just too awful if, despite his many achievements, Trump ended up handing the election to Joe Biden because of a public perception that he’d been dilatory in protecting America from the 21st century’s answer to the Black Death.

Second, geopolitical: Trump is right to shut off continental Europe because — in plague terms — it is the equivalent of one of those diseased carcasses that besieging armies used to fling with their ballistas over the city walls.

This is a consequence of its open borders policy. Under the European Union’s Schengen Agreement — one of the bloc’s defining features and by their own reckoning, greatest achievement — there is almost complete freedom of movement across national borders. Which means that everyone from gun- and drug-smugglers to terrorists to coronavirus victims can travel from one end of the continent to the other, with individual states virtually powerless to protect their own borders or citizens.

Trump Bans Travel from Europe, Seeks to Reassure Americans Amid Rising Coronavirus Fears.

“an important clarification”

Which brings to mind the question of just what amateur is being let write these speeches that require an almost immediate clarification.

Italy confirms nearly 200 people died from coronavirus in 24 hours: report.

Nearly 200 people have died in Italy from the novel coronavirus in one day, NBC News reports.

The Italian Civil Protection Agency confirmed to the news agency that the country, which has the worst outbreak of COVID-19 outside of China, recorded 196 deaths between Tuesday to Wednesday. NBC News reports a total of 897 deaths from the virus have been recorded in the country thus far.

The confirmation comes after earlier reports placed the total number of COVID-19 cases in Italy at 10,000 on Wednesday.


Why Deaths from Coronavirus Are So High in Italy.

…..One factor affecting the country’s death rate may be the age of its population—Italy has the oldest population in Europe, with about 23% of residents 65 or older, according to The New York Times. The median age in the country is 47.3, compared with 38.3 in the United States, the Times reported. Many of Italy’s deaths have been among people in their 80s, and 90s, a population known to be more susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19.

Spain: Madrid to Shut Down All Schools for 2 Weeks Amid Coronavirus Spike

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s health minister reported a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in and around Madrid and said all schools in the capital region, from kindergartens and universities, would close for two weeks starting Wednesday.


Quarantine: Italians Told to Stay Indoors Via Loudspeakers

Italians are being told to stay inside unless they need to buy medicines by health authorities patrolling neighborhoods with loudspeakers as the coronavirus quarantine begins to take hold.


Germany-Austria Spat Over Anti-Virus Facemasks

A German export ban on masks that protects against the coronavirus has angered Austria and Switzerland. “It can’t be that Germany is holding back products for Austria just because they happen to be stored in a German location,” said Austrian economy minister Margarete Schramboeck. “These products are for the Austrian market, and unilateral moves by Germany are just causing problems in other countries,” she added.

 

Italian doctor describes dealing with coronavirus: ‘This isn’t flu, I’m shaking’
Italy’s Dr. Daniele Macchini, describes his experience with coronavirus. Here it is, translated from the original Italian.

Dr. Daniele Macchini, a doctor at Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, northern Italy, described on Facebook how his hospital has been affected by coronavirus.

“After much thought about if and what to write about what is happening to us, I felt that silence is not responsible,” he wrote. “Therefore I will try to tell people who are far from our reality about what we are living in Bergamo in these days. I understand the need not to create panic, but when the message of how dangerous events are is not reaching people, I shake with fear.”

“I myself watched with a certain amount of amazement as the hospital was reorganized entirely over the past week. When our current enemy was still in the shadows: The departments ‘slowly emptied,’ elective activities were stopped, ICU patients were transferred there in order to empty as many beds as possible.

“All of these rapid changes brought an atmosphere of surreal silence and emptiness to the hospitals’ hallways, when we still did not understand, when we were waiting for a war that had not yet begun and that many (including myself) were not sure that would ever come with such cruelty.

“I still remember the nighttime conversation I had a week ago, when I waited for the results of the test. When I think about it, my fear of the possible situation looks almost stupid and unjustified now, when I’m seeing what’s happening. And so, things are pretty dramatic here, to say the least.

“The war broke out, very simply, and the battles were endless, day and night. But now the need for beds has come to be big drama. One after the other, the departments which were emptied are filling up at an impressive pace.

“The boards with the patients’ names, in different colors in accordance with the operation units, now they’re all red and instead of the operation, we see always see the same horrible diagnosis: Bilateral interstitial lung disease.

“Now explain to me how the flu virus causes such drama, so quickly. And there are still people who are proud of the fact that they’re not scared, and ignore the guidelines, and protest that their lifestyle has ‘temporarily’ been put in crisis.

“The epidemiological disaster is happening. And there are no more surgeons, urologists, orthopedists. We’re just doctors who have suddenly become part of one staff that’s facing this tsunami that’s overwhelmed us.

“The cases are becoming more numerous, we’re seeing 15-20 hospitalizations per day, and it’s all for the same reason. The test results come in now one after the other: Positive, positive, positive. Suddenly the emergency room is collapsing.

“The reason for coming in is always identical: Fever and difficulty breathing, fever and cough, respiratory failure. Radiology always reports the same thing: Bilateral lung infection, bilateral lung infection, bilateral lung infection. They’re all going to be hospitalized.

“One patient needs intubation and the intensive care unit. For others it’s too late….all the ventilation machines have become gold. Those in the operating rooms which have ceased their non-urgent work have become intensive care rooms which did not previously exist.

“The staff is exhausted. I saw their exhaustion on the faces which have not seen such work, despite the overload of work that already exhausted them. I saw the solidarity among everyone, who never ceased turning to our internal medicine doctors and colleagues, asking, ‘And what can I do for you now?’

“Doctors are moving beds and transferring patients. Nurses have tears in their eyes because we can’t save them all and thee vital signs of several of them simultaneously reveal their known fate.

“There’s no more shifts, there are no more hours. Our social lives have been put on hold. We don’t see our families already, out of fear we might infect them. Some of us have already become infected, despite the protective protocols.”

 

Italy: Total Lock Down Imposed to Contain Virus

Just Sunday, the Italian gubbermint quarantined the north of the country, now the whole shebang.

MILAN (AP) — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says travel restrictions are being imposed nationwide to try to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Conte said Monday night that a new government decree will require all people in Italy to demonstrate a need to work, health conditions or other limited reasons to travel outside the areas where they live.

The restrictions will take effect on Tuesday and like those in northern Italy will last until April 3., he said.

“There won’t be just a red zone,″ Conte told reporters referring to the quarantine order he signed for a vast swath of northern Italy with a population of 16 million over the weekend.

“There will be Italy” as a protected area, he said.

The premier also took to task the young people in much of Italy who have been gathering at night to drink and have a good time during the public health emergency that started on Feb. 21.

“This night life…we can’t allow this anymore,” Conte said.

Pubs had been closed in northern Italy, with eateries and cafes also ordered to close at dusk. Now that crackdown is extended to the entire country.

Tourism is 10% of GDP in France, 13% in Italy, 15% in Spain. And Now it’s in Free Fall
“If the situation of generalized panic continues, thousands of businesses, especially small ones, will first enter a liquidity crisis, then close their doors.”

This is all happening just weeks before high season is about to get under way. But with millions and millions of tourists voting with their feet by staying at home, one of Europe’s most important and (until four weeks ago) fastest growing industries is taking a hammering.

The world right now is full of places that should be teeming with people but are not, including many iconic tourist landmarks and attractions. In Italy, home to Europe’s third biggest tourism industry, large parts of the country are on lock down after being hit by the biggest outbreak of the COVID-19 outside of Asia. Many of the most famous tourist attractions have been closed and big international events, including the Venice Carnival, have been cancelled.

The impact on the country’s tourism industry has been brutal, prompting panicked representatives to warn that a “generalized panic” over coronavirus could “sink” the sector. “There is a risk that Italy will drop off the international tourism map altogether,” said Carlo Sangalli, president of Milan’s Chamber of Commerce. “The wave of contagions over the past week is causing huge financial losses that will be difficult to recoup.”……

In the three most affected regions — Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna (in descending order) — cancellation rates on bookings of hotels, flights and apartments have reached as high as 90%. These three regions also happen to be the main motor of Italy’s economy, accounting for 40% of Italy’s GDP. ……

“In recent history Italian tourism has never experienced a crisis like this,” Vittorio Messina, National President of Assoturismo, stated in a press release. “It is the darkest moment. Not even 9/11 affected it so heavily.”…….

In Spain, tourism is even more important to the national economy, generating approximately €180 billion a year — close to 15% of GDP. In 2019, Spain was the second most visited country in the world, attracting 83.7 million foreign tourists……………

France, with 89 million tourists in 2018 (last year’s figures are yet to be released), the most visited country in the world, is also feeling the fallout from of COVID-19. Tourism contributes about 10% to GDP. France’s Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, said two weeks ago that the outbreak had triggered a 30%-40% plunge in the number of overseas visitors. At that point, the virus was barely present in the country. Now, it’s in all 13 of France’s metropolitan regions, as well as French Guiana.

This is all happening just weeks before high season is about to get under way. But with millions and millions of tourists voting with their feet by staying at home, one of Europe’s most important and (until four weeks ago) fastest growing industries is taking a hammering.

 

Italy shutters all schools, universities as COVID-19 death toll reaches 107.

March 4 (UPI) — Italian education officials closed all schools and universities Wednesday in reaction to a coronavirus outbreak that has killed 107 people in the country.

Education Minister Lucia Azzolina made the announcement with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a news conference at Palazzo Chigi, Conte’s residence in Rome…………

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency said that in addition to the deaths, there were 2,706 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease in the country as of Wednesday. Most were centered in the Lombardy region, with smaller clusters in Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Piedmont, the Marche, Campania, Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Sicily, Puglia, Abruzzo, Trento, Molise, Umbria, Bolzano, Calabria, Sardinia and Basilicata.

Some 276 people have recovered from the disease.


Iran’s coronavirus response: Pride, paranoia, secrecy, chaos

Nearly three dozen Iranian government officials and members of parliament are infected, and a senior adviser to the supreme leader has died.

The Health Ministry has proposed sending 300,000 militia members door to door on a desperate mission to sanitize homes. The top prosecutor has warned that anyone hoarding face masks and other public health equipment risks the death penalty.

Iran’s leaders confidently predicted just two weeks ago that the coronavirus contagion ravaging China would not be a problem in their country. They even bragged of exporting face masks to their Chinese trading partners.

Now Iran is battered by coronavirus infections that have killed 77 people, among the most outside of China, officials said Tuesday. But instead of receiving government help, overwhelmed doctors and nurses say they have been warned by security forces to keep quiet. And some officials say Tehran’s hierarchy is understating the true extent of the outbreak — probably, experts contend, because it will be viewed as a failure that enemies will exploit.

As the world wrestles with the spread of the coronavirus, the epidemic in Iran is a lesson in what happens when a secretive state with limited resources tries to play down an outbreak and then finds it very difficult to contain.