In Italy, coronavirus crisis puts not just globalism — but the state itself — under fire

By Monica Showalter

In coronavirus-crushed Italy, it’s not just European Union flags being burned now, the situation is now degenerating into at least a threat of riots.

Police have been deployed on the streets of Sicily’s capital, Palermo, amid reports gangs are using social media to plot attacks on stores. A bankrupt ferry company halted service to the island, including vital supplies of food and medicines. As the state creaks under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, officials worry the mafia may be preparing to step in.

Preventing unrest in the so-called Mezzogiorno, the underdeveloped southern region that’s long lagged behind the wealthy north, has become the government’s top priority, according to Italian officials who asked not to be named discussing the administration’s strategy.

With the European Union’s most dangerously indebted state already fighting the Germans over the terms of the financial aid it needs, the fallout may reach far beyond Rome if Conte fails.

Proud of yourselves, European Union? Turns out it’s not just Italy’s European Union membership that’s immolating in Italy, it’s the state itself.

Europe’s refusal to help Italy in a disastrous pandemic that has left more than 10,000 dead is not only making Italians wonder what its EU membership is good for, it’s making some, at the fringes at least, wonder what state is good for. The state has failed to protect the people, and now the state is on the line, and there’s a major threat of riots and disorder making the country a powder keg.

Here’s an additional affirmation of a crumbling state, according to the Wall Street Journal:

At a time when aid from Italy’s allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Union was nowhere to be seen, Mr. Putin dispatched nine Iluyshin-76 aircraft laden with medical supplies and military personnel—planes that landed at the Pratica di Mare military airfield near Rome within 24 hours of his March 21 conversation with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“The Russians have taken advantage of the situation in a very agile way,” said retired Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, the former chief of staff of Italian armed forces. “Yet, it’s very unpleasant that our tragedy is being exploited for propaganda purposes.”

Russians to the rescue? In a NATO country? It’s insane. But it’s certainly possible in a place where the state is helpless, which this highlights. Apparently, the Russians invited themselves in, bearing banners in Russian, Italian, and English (to make sure we can read it) “From Russia with love.” We all know what Russia-love is like.

Meanwhile, a threat of a mafia takeover is positively surreal – and yet in Italy, it’s also perfectly possible. The Italian government thinks as much. Italy’s mafia originally arose out of the failure of the state to act as a state, leaving people in the hinterlands to fend for themselves, the dynamic being that of peasants taking matters in their own hands, and surviving by family-based crime and thievery. Italy’s government must know well that when it fails, the mafia is right there, organized and ready to step into the void. Poor and despairing people will often gravitate to whatever seems to offer protection. It happened in Colombia with Pablo Escobar’s narcostate, and shockingly in the 21st century, it looks like it’s on track to happen in modern Italy.

The horrors the the country has endured, and its abandonment by the international community has had to have left a sense of despair in the country, at minimum, the feeling of being “a broken civilization” like post-Aztec Mexico. Oh, and there’s not much religion to turn to, socialism has left empty pews in Italy and the current pope isn’t much help. Yet what could be more horrible in family-oriented Italy, where large numbers of people still live with their parents and grandparents, than to lose all the Italian nonnos and nonnas? That personal social disintegration leaves a lot of people feeling uprooted and lost and looking for some kind of strong hand. Which is dry tinder for riots and unrest.

Some kind of shakeout is coming to Italy in light of this disaster. It’s hard to say what, but it underlines that it’s important for Italy’s allies to embrace it in its distress. The WSJ article notes that the Russian show of aid has at least prompted allies, including the U.S., to send aid. The pandemic, it seems, has capacities to remake states. It might not just be China and Iran that get a reckoning from this, it’s also Italy. It’s also worth heeding the lessons seen there here.

Germany: Arab-looking man pretending to have Corona coughs on two women and insults them

Already last Friday around 8 p.m. two Asian looking women were attacked in front of a supermarket in the shopping mall Q6/Q7 in Mannheim by a so far unknown perpetrator with Arabic appearance.

As far as we know, the unknown man pushed the women, insulted them because of their Asian appearance, spat and coughed on them several times and said “Corona”. Finally, he punched one of the women in the face. The woman suffered pain and her glasses were damaged.

Not until the women screamed for help and supermarket employees became aware of the situation did the unknown perpetrator flee and abandoned his offense.

Loss of smell and taste may be sign of Covid-19 infection

The professional membership body representing Ear, Nose and Throat surgery, as well as its related specialities in the United Kingdom (ENT UK) reports that there is now new evidence that anosmia, that is, loss of the ability to sense odor, is a symptom of Covid-19 infection.

Anosmia or the inability to smell or taste, comes from the Greek an (without) and osme (smell). Hyposmia is the medical term for the reduced sense of odor.

ENT UK writes that there is already sufficient evidence of this from South Korea, China and Italy. A significant number of patients with proven Covid-19 infection have developed anosmia/hyposmia. 

In Germany, more than 2 in 3 (67 percent) of all confirmed cases have anosmia. In South Korea, where testing has been more widespread, 30 percent of patients who tested positive for Covid-19 have had anosmia. 

This was noted in milder cases where the main symptoms have been just lost smell and taste. It was thus reported as one of the earliest symptoms that those infected with Covid-19 suffer from and is considered an early warning signal that the person is infected. 

And one may therefore be infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2 despite having no other symptoms which means that the infected person is at risk of infecting others.

The British doctor and trainer Doctor John Campbell, who has followed Covid-19 closely since its origins, recalls that smell and taste are interrelated. Campbell says that lost smell and taste indicate a “strong possibility” that the person has Covid-19 and therefore “should self-isolate for at least a week”.

ENT UK also noted that normal treatment usually includes steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone, but these drugs should be avoided. This is because in several studies it has been found that all forms of anti-inflammatory drugs counteract the body’s defense against Covid-19 and thus aggravate the course of the disease. 

They are clearly dangerous to use.

Austria Declares Wearing Masks Mandatory in Supermarkets

Austria has introduced measures to halt the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, including making it mandatory to wear masks in supermarkets.

The government, led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, announced the measures this week stating that protective masks would be handed out to the public at the entrances of supermarkets and must be worn while shopping.

Chancellor Kurz stated that masks were still no substitute for keeping a safe distance from others and, according to newspaper Kronen Zeitung, stated: “I am fully aware that masks are something foreign to our culture.”

Minister of Health Rudolf Anschober, a member of the Green Party, added that the masks would only be effective for a period of about four hours and that they would help make sure the capacity of hospitals was not overwhelmed.

The government has also ordered a large part of the tourism sector to shut down, with a ban on overnight stays in hotels and guest houses.

Kurz added that Austria’s hospitals could become overwhelmed within the next two weeks with just 1,071 intensive care beds still available across the country and 908 ventilators.

“How long the overload lasts, especially in intensive care medicine, depends on all of us. It is already clear that many people will die from this disease. But we have to do our utmost to ensure that no more people die than have to die,” Kurz said.

Vice-Chancellor Werner Kogler, leader of the Green Party, added that he saw the current situation as a “calm before the storm” and said: “If we listen to the experts, I am in favour of orienting ourselves to those who draw the more dramatic scenarios.”

Despite sharing a border with Italy, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, Austria has managed to keep cases at just over 9,000 as of Monday with 108 deaths.

Italy, by contrast, continues to see growth in cases and deaths, with over 100,000 confirmed cases and 11,591 deaths as of Monday.

France Not Enforcing Lockdowns in Muslim No-Go-Zones

They do call them no-go zones for a reason.

But let’s not kid ourselves. There are neighborhoods in New York City and LA where the police won’t be asking crowds to go indoors and that the media would never dream of shaming and which won’t go viral on social media. This is the same thing except it’s a symptom of a much worse problem. There are people who follow the rules and those who don’t, and those who expect others to follow their rules.

While it has just increased the sanctions against those who do not respect confinement repeatedly, the government decides to be more conciliatory with offenders in the suburbs. A double standard which outrage the police.

It is not a priority to enforce closings in certain neighborhoods and to stop gatherings in certain neighborhoods.” The sentence, which unequivocally scandalizes the police and their representatives, is signed by the Secretary of State to the Minister of the Interior.

In a videoconference connecting Beauvau to the prefects of the defense zones, Laurent Nunez expressed this concern on March 18 to see the cities, on the verge of implosion , ignite if confinement was applied there too strictly.

You get the idea. It’s last stage colonialism. Except the colonies are in France.

As long as the authorities don’t try to exert too much local control, but put on a show for the country as a whole, there’s not much of a problem. If they insist on trying to control the situation on the ground, there will be a violent pushback.

Meanwhile the black market in, among other things, masks, goes on, covertly approved of by the French government.

German gunman ‘not motivated by racism’

German federal police investigators believe the attacker who carried out a deadly shooting spree in Hanau last month was not primarily motivated by racism, local media reports say.

The suspect, who has been identified only as Tobias R, reportedly chose his victims with the aim of attracting the most attention possible for his conspiracy theories involving secret service surveillance.

He did not go through a “typical right-wing extremist radicalisation,” the broadcasters WDR and NDR, and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported.

A federal prosecution spokesman declined to comment on Monday, saying that investigations are ongoing.

Tobias R shot dead nine people of foreign descent during the February 19 attack in the centre of Hanau.

The 43-year-old then returned home and killed himself and his 72-year-old mother.

He had disseminated woolly thoughts, abstruse conspiracy theories and xenophobic views online.

The reports suggest a change of focus by investigators.

Prosecution officials said from soon after the attack that there were “serious indications of a racist motivation”.

According to the media reports, the investigators believe that racism did not dominate the suspect’s ideology.

Rather, they say, he was caught up in conspiracy theories related to intelligence services and suffered from paranoia.–spt.html

‘Enough is enough!’ Merkel accused of letting euro collapse after defying Macron’s demands

Angela Merkel has been accused of allowing the eurozone to collapse after the German Chancellor rejected Emmanuel Macron’s demands for further financial integration. Angela Merkel has set off a backlash among the EU27 after she was accused of letting the eurozone crumble under the coronavirus pandemic. The German Chancellor was one of the few EU leaders who declined pleas from hard-hit countries like Italy and Spain for so-called corona-bonds that would help soften the economic blow of the pandemic. Economist Marcel Fratzscher, President of research institute DIW, warned that such a bold move risked the collapse of the entire eurozone.

Speaking on CNBC, the economist warned Germany would have to agree to further integration if Mrs Merkel wanted to save the eurozone.

However, her rejection of so-called corona-bonds may signal enough is enough for the German Chancellor.

The CNBC host told Mr Fratzscher: “Germany has been impatient with other nations, and the way they haven’t been as frugal as Germany and have been more spendthrift.

“Europe is at a financial halfway house. Does it go for more integration on the back of this on the fiscal front, or once the dust is settled does Germany pull away and say enough is enough, we cannot have more fiscal integration?”

The DIW President responded: “People have to be aware, particularly in Germany, that this would be rising the euro, the common currency.

“If a big economy like Italy becomes unable to finance public debt, this would challenge the euro.

“Germany is pro-European, it is pro-euro, and you have to think about the alternatives in other scenarios.

“If there is no willingness to support weaker countries currently more forcefully and a lot stronger, then you have to be aware that this will risk the euro and cause economic depression across Europe, including in Germany.

“It is a tough decision. Do you want the euro to recover? That means more funding for smaller nations and more integration. That is the choice.”

French President Emmanuel Macron led the charge for Brussels to issue joint European debt bonds to help eurozone economies cope with the impact of the coronavirus lockdown measures.

A total of nine EU member states, including Italy and Spain, made the desperate request.