UN: May See ‘New Normal’ On Other Side Of 5-Year Global Depression

The Secretary-General of the UN lays out two possibilities to get through the pandemic: either accept UN leadership today or go through a five-year global depression and then accept their leadership as the “new normal”. Either way, it’s the same outcome. ⁃ TN Editor

From COVID-19 to climate disruption, from racial injustice to rising inequalities, we are a world in turmoil.

At the same time, we are an international community with an enduring vision – embodied in the United Nations Charter, which marks its 75th anniversary this year. That vision of a better future —  based on the values of equality, mutual respect and international cooperation —  has helped us to avoid a Third World War that would have had catastrophic consequences for life on our planet.

Our shared challenge is to channel that collective spirit and rise to this moment of trial and test.

The pandemic has laid bare severe and systemic inequalities both within and between countries and communities.  More broadly, it has underscored the world’s fragilities – not just in the face of another health emergency, but in our faltering response to the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and the risks of nuclear proliferation.  People everywhere are losing trust in political establishments and institutions.

The emergency is compounded by many other profound humanitarian crises: conflicts that are continuing or even intensifying; record numbers of people forced to flee their homes; swarms of locusts in Africa and South Asia; looming droughts in southern Africa and Central America; all amid a context of rising geopolitical tensions.

In the face of these fragilities, world leaders need to be humble and recognize the vital importance of unity and solidarity.

No one can predict what comes next, but I see two possible scenarios.

First, the “optimistic” possibility.

In this case, the world would muddle through.  Countries in the global North would engineer a successful exit strategy.  Developing countries would receive enough support and their demographic characteristics – namely, the youth of their people – would help contain the impact.

And then perhaps a vaccine would appear in the next nine months or so, and would be distributed as a global public good, a “people’s vaccine” available and accessible to all.

If this happens, and if the economy starts up progressively, we might move towards some kind of normality  in two or three years.

But there is also a second, bleaker scenario in which countries fail to coordinate their actions.  New waves of the virus keep occurring.  The situation in the developing world explodes.  Work on the vaccine lags — or even if there is a vaccine relatively soon —  it becomes the subject of fierce competition and countries with greater economic power gain access to it first, leaving others behind.

In this scenario, we could also see greater movement toward fragmentation, populism and xenophobia.  Each country could go it alone or in so-called coalitions of the willing to address some specific challenges.  In the end, the world would fail to mobilize the kind of governance needed to address our shared challenges.

The result may well be a global depression that could last at least five or seven years before a new normal emerges, the nature of which is impossible to predict.

It is very difficult to know if we are moving in one direction or the other.  We must work for the best and prepare for the worst.

The pandemic, as horrible as it is, must be a wake-up call that prompts all political leaders to understand that our assumptions and approaches have to change, and that division is a danger to everyone.

This understanding could lead people to recognize that the only way to address global fragilities is through much more robust mechanisms of global governance with international cooperation.

After all, we cannot simply return to the systems that gave rise to the current crisis.  We need to build back better with more sustainable, inclusive, gender-equal societies and economies.

In doing so, we must reimagine the way nations cooperate.  Today’s multilateralism lacks scale, ambition and teeth — and some of the instruments that do have teeth show little or no appetite to bite, as we have seen in the difficulties faced by the Security Council.

We need a networked multilateralism, in which the United Nations and its agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, regional organizations such as the African Union and European Union, trade organizations and others work together more closely and effectively.

We also need a more inclusive multilateralism.  Governments today are far from the only players in terms of politics and power.  Civil society, the business community, local authorities, cities and regional governments are assuming more and more leadership roles in today’s world.

This, in turn, will help lead to an effective multilateralism with the mechanisms it needs to make global governance work where it is needed.

A new, networked, inclusive, effective multilateralism, based on the enduring values of the United Nations Charter, could snap us out of our sleepwalking state and stop the slide towards ever greater danger.

Political leaders around the world need to heed this wake-up call and come together to address the world’s fragilities, strengthen our capacity for global governance, give teeth to multilateral institutions, and draw from the power of unity and solidarity to overcome the biggest test of our times.

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Edmond de Rothschild Achieves 4-year Goals for Sustainable Development

Every global elite group that you can imagine has thrown their full weight behind Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy. All central banks, all global corporations, all elite families, all major political structures, etc. As Alfred E. Neuman proclaimed, “What, me worry?” ⁃ TN Editor

The Edmond de Rothschild Group publishes its sixth Sustainability Report, which reflects how sustainable development challenges are integrated in all the Group’s activities.

Edmond de Rothschild is a conviction-driven investment house that favors  strategies and investments rooted in the real economy, combining long-term performance and impact.

The 2019 report provides a comprehensive view of its ongoing progress and its continuous engagement to reach its 2020 objectives for sustainable development. It features performance results and examples across its unique ecosystem.

2019 REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

Supporting innovation for responsible investment

  • 23 bn. USD assets under management (AUM) in Responsible Investment
  • 96% of our open funds and dedicated SRI funds have calculated their  carbon footprint
  • 111 mill. USD AUM managed in our Responsible Investment Mandate for private clients
  • 2.75 bn. USD of private equity assets are managed with the integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations

Ensuring ethical and responsible behaviour

  • More than 16,000 hours of training on Ethics & Compliance subjects delivered

Developing the talents and qualities of internal entrepreneurs to serve our transformation

  • 100% of employees attended at least one training programme
  • Almost 6,000 training hours delivered within the leadership development programme

Managing the environmental impact

  • 35,000 trees planted in small local farms of Nicaragua since 2017 through our Insetting programme
  • 25% reduction in the carbon footprint per employee since 2014

Collaborating with the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations* in societal engagements

  • 60 employees committed to various philanthropic programmes in 2019
  • More than 20 start-ups benefitted from our employees expertise

The Group is a member of the United Nations Global Compact since 2011. This report represents its Communication on Progress (COP) and outlines its contributions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). It was prepared by conforming as much as possible to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards Key performance indicators were verified by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a member of the PwC international network.

ABOUT EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD
As a conviction-driven investment house founded upon the belief that wealth should be used to build the world of tomorrow, Edmond de Rothschild specialises in Private Banking and Asset Management and serves an international clientele of families, entrepreneurs and institutional investors. The group is also active in Corporate Finance, Private Equity, Real Estate and Fund Services.  With a resolutely family-run nature, Edmond de Rothschild has the independence necessary to propose bold strategies and long-term investments, rooted in the real economy.

Created in 1953, the Group now has CHF 173 billion (€ 160 billion) in assets under management, 2,600 employees and 32 locations worldwide.

* The Edmond de Rothschild Foundations are a network of 10 private foundations under the leadership of Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild. They are entirely separate and independent from the Edmond de Rothschild Group. In 2017, over 30 projects have been supported and developed by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations. To find out more about these and other projects click here.

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Countries Kiss, Kiss, Kiss Up To UN For Seat On Security Council

Every nation wants a seat on the UN’s powerful Security Council and will go to any lengths to get it. Campaigning is lavish, extravagant, expensive and at times more ludicrous than a prime-time reality show. ⁃ TN Editor

Glad-handing, parties and concerts by U2 and Celine Dion – how countries campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

It likely won’t come down to the gift bags or the parties but that doesn’t mean Canada, Norway and Ireland are leaving it to chance.

From Norway, General Assembly delegations will get a badge covered with fabric from the tapestry used to decorate the council chamber’s walls.

Canada is offering greeting cards, chocolates, and Canada-branded facemasks.

The small tokens for delegations ahead of the 17 June vote come after lengthy campaigns by the three nations for one of two coveted non-permanent seats up for grabs on the security council, which is tasked with ensuring global peace and security,

The seats they are campaigning for are set aside for the “Western Europe and Others” [WEOG] regional grouping on the council.

The winners will serve a two-year term on the 15-member body.

Campaign season for the contested seats means “a lot of parties, a lot of events” at the UN’s headquarters in New York, says Stephanie Fillion, a journalist who covers the global body for news site PassBlue.

Campaigns can be elaborate affairs with slick promotional materials and plenty of wining and dining, and countries announce they will run years in advance.

In 2018, Ireland invited diplomats to a New York concert by Irish rockers U2, and Canada did something similar for a concert by Canadian songstress Celine Dion this year.

Canada says it’s shelled out roughly $1.74m (£1.37m) and has 13 full-time staff working on the campaign. And as of late last year, Ireland spent a reported $800,000 and Norway $2.8m.

Why do countries want a seat on the council?

Member states get three things in return for a seat, says Adam Chapnick, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada.

Those are access, relevance and influence.

“For two years, day in and day out, a country that is not a great power will have direct access to the five permanent members in addition to whomever else might be on the council at that time,” he says.

He adds: “With that access comes relevance.”

“All of a sudden you’re really popular around the world because if somebody else can’t reach the Chinese or the Americans or the French, they know you can.”

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BlackBerry Expands Commitment To United Nations SDGs

BlackBerry pioneered mobile communication security but has since been converted into a champion of the United Nations and Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy. It says its plan “clearly demonstrates their forward-thinking leadership for sustainable growth.”  ⁃ TN Editor

BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) today announced it has expanded its commitment to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of its commitment BlackBerry is investing in initiatives that enable access to clean water for the global communities the company serves.

Billions of people around the world lack access to clean water, sanitation and handwashing facilities today, with communities of color, lower-income people, tribal communities and developing countries most impacted.  Safe water sanitation is a vital enabler of access to education, in particular for girls, and a strategy for economic growth and reducing poverty.  The COVID-19 pandemic has put a further spotlight on the criticality of access to clean water, with handwashing being one of the key means to adequately prevent and contain disease.

BlackBerry today announced it will:

  • Be carbon neutral by 2021. Climate change, primarily driven by carbon emissions, is limiting the availability and quality of water and is expected to have significant further impact. Since 2013 BlackBerry has reduced its carbon emissions by 88%.
  • Invest in wastewater treatment technology in Canada that eliminates the environmental impacts of discharging raw wastewater into watercourses and the sea and consumes less energy than traditional systems.
  • Invest in the rehabilitation and maintenance of water wells in Rwanda, where the population is currently fetching water from sources that expose them to bacteria. The economic benefits of improved water supply in the area will enable Rwanda’s Smart Cities Blueprint, a framework aimed to accelerate the adoption of ICT-driven initiatives in cities across Africa.
  • Eliminate the use of single-use plastics globally by 2021, ahead of the Government of Canada’s plan. The initiative will help tackle microplastics pollution, as well as ease the burden on oceans and streams where plastic waste ends up and harms marine life.

“BlackBerry’s purpose and responsibility to our stakeholders include taking meaningful action to ensure our business practices and our platform enable a more sustainable and equitable world,” said Neelam Sandhu, Vice President of Business Operations and Strategic Accounts, Office of the CEO at BlackBerry. “We are pleased to expand our commitment to the UNGC SDGs, by investing in initiatives that enable access to clean water and the opportunities and benefits that are tied to that, for Canadian citizens and the global community we are all a part of.”

“Now more than ever, it is vital that Canadian industries develop innovative solutions to the challenges we face. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate BlackBerry on their plan to become carbon neutral by 2021,” said The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation Science and Industry.  “When Canadian companies invest in clean technology projects, like BlackBerry is doing in the water sector, it not only helps to protect the environment and grow our economy, it also improves access to some of our most basic needs.  Clean technology and renewable energy projects are key to helping Canada achieve our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.”

 BlackBerry Limited (NYSE: BB; TSX: BB) today announced it has expanded its commitment to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of its commitment BlackBerry is investing in initiatives that enable access to clean water for the global communities the company serves.

Billions of people around the world lack access to clean water, sanitation and handwashing facilities today, with communities of color, lower-income people, tribal communities and developing countries most impacted.  Safe water sanitation is a vital enabler of access to education, in particular for girls, and a strategy for economic growth and reducing poverty.  The COVID-19 pandemic has put a further spotlight on the criticality of access to clean water, with handwashing being one of the key means to adequately prevent and contain disease.

BlackBerry today announced it will:

  • Be carbon neutral by 2021. Climate change, primarily driven by carbon emissions, is limiting the availability and quality of water and is expected to have significant further impact. Since 2013 BlackBerry has reduced its carbon emissions by 88%.
  • Invest in wastewater treatment technology in Canada that eliminates the environmental impacts of discharging raw wastewater into watercourses and the sea and consumes less energy than traditional systems.
  • Invest in the rehabilitation and maintenance of water wells in Rwanda, where the population is currently fetching water from sources that expose them to bacteria. The economic benefits of improved water supply in the area will enable Rwanda’s Smart Cities Blueprint, a framework aimed to accelerate the adoption of ICT-driven initiatives in cities across Africa.
  • Eliminate the use of single-use plastics globally by 2021, ahead of the Government of Canada’s plan. The initiative will help tackle microplastics pollution, as well as ease the burden on oceans and streams where plastic waste ends up and harms marine life.

“BlackBerry’s purpose and responsibility to our stakeholders include taking meaningful action to ensure our business practices and our platform enable a more sustainable and equitable world,” said Neelam Sandhu, Vice President of Business Operations and Strategic Accounts, Office of the CEO at BlackBerry. “We are pleased to expand our commitment to the UNGC SDGs, by investing in initiatives that enable access to clean water and the opportunities and benefits that are tied to that, for Canadian citizens and the global community we are all a part of.”

“Now more than ever, it is vital that Canadian industries develop innovative solutions to the challenges we face. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to congratulate BlackBerry on their plan to become carbon neutral by 2021,” said The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation Science and Industry.  “When Canadian companies invest in clean technology projects, like BlackBerry is doing in the water sector, it not only helps to protect the environment and grow our economy, it also improves access to some of our most basic needs.  Clean technology and renewable energy projects are key to helping Canada achieve our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.”

“The Sustainable Development Goals provide businesses with guidance to translate the world’s needs and ambitions into business solutions.  It is not possible to have a strong, functioning business in a world of increasing inequality, poverty, and climate change,” said Ayman Chowdhury, Head of Secretariat at United Nations Global Compact Network Canada.  “In this Decade of Action for the SDGs, the spotlight will be on companies who champion sustainability and are mobilizing their resources to be a force for good.  BlackBerry’s SDGs Action Plan clearly demonstrates their forward-thinking leadership for sustainable growth.”

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Green Pope: Earth Is ‘Sick’, ‘Wounded’ and ‘Bleeding’

As time goes on, Pope Francis it becoming more and more radicalized towards Sustainable Development and worship of ‘Mother Earth’. Today’s language is perhaps the strongest yet, going back to his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. ⁃ TN Editor

Pope Francis employed some of his strongest environmental rhetoric to date Friday, insisting the planet earth is “sick,” “wounded,” and “bleeding.”

Writing to the president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, on the occasion of World Environment Day, the pope said that “protection of the environment and respect for the biodiversity of the planet are issues that affect us all.”

“We cannot pretend to be healthy in a world that is sick,” Francis said. “The wounds inflicted on our mother earth are wounds that also bleed in us.”

“Caring for ecosystems demands a look to the future, one that is not concerned only with the immediate moment or that seeks a quick and easy profit, but rather one that is concerned for life and that seeks its preservation for the benefit of all,” he added.

The official celebrations of World Environment Day would have taken place this year in Bogotá, Colombia, but because of ongoing lockdowns because of the coronavirus will be held virtually, he noted.

“Our attitude toward the present state of our planet should indeed make us concerned for and witnesses to the gravity of the situation,” the pontiff stated in his letter. “We cannot remain silent before the outcry when we realize the very high costs of the destruction and exploitation of the ecosystem.”

“This is not a time to continue looking the other way, indifferent to the signs that our planet is being plundered and violated by greed for profit, very often in the name of progress,” he insisted. “We have the chance to reverse course, to commit ourselves to a better, healthier world and to pass it on to future generations.”

“Everything depends on us, if we really want it,” he said.

In his message, the pope also referenced the fifth anniversary of his encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato Sì, “which drew attention to the cry that mother earth lifts up to us.”

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wind farm

WEF: Pandemic Can Lead To Sustainable, Low-Carbon Economic System

The World Economic Forum promotes its action plan as bringing “multistakeholder leadership to the COVID-19 pandemic” but has the overarching goal of converting to a low-carbon, resource-based economic system such as Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the world’s urban areas, governments, businesses and civil society are springing to action to help cities manage this crisis and mitigate the fallout.

Share knowledge, save lives

As COVID-19 has traveled around the world, city after city has seen eerily similar patters of viral spread and the necessary drastic policy responses. The ability to share knowledge and best practices is crucial for cities to avoid mistakes and optimise the response, particularly in the early stages of the spread. It’s invaluable for metropolitan areas to explore the implementation of successful strategies deployed by other cities – like social distancing are vital to slow the spread of the virus and “flatten the curve.

The City Possible network, managed by Mastercard, has organised regular meetings of municipal decision-makers around the globe to exchange strategies on how to address the crisis in their communities. Similarly, C40 – a network of megacities committed to addressing climate change – launched a dedicated COVID-19 portal for cities to share knowledge and best practices for managing the crisis.

These city-to-city connections made in the short term will be vital to the necessary transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon economic system in the long term. Cities for Global Health, led by Metropolis and supported by UCLG, allows cities to share successful local initiatives to respond to health emergencies – COVID-19 or otherwise.

Connecting with experts

As some national governments struggle to respond, cities can be left to face the COVID-19 threat alone. This is why it’s critical to connect local decisionmakers to health experts.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is closing this information gap with the Coronavirus Local Response Initiative, which connects US cities with public health experts, researchers and clinicians from across the Johns Hopkins University network to relay the most important and up-to-date information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The organization is also working with the US Conference of Mayors and the National Association of City Transport Officials on the Transportation Response Program to provide rapid-response tools, real-time updates and technical assistance with providing essential urban services.

As another example, Cities for All, a global network focused on creating inclusive and accessible cities, is hosting an expert webinar series to help cities devise and coordinate strategies to protect the elderly and persons with disabilities. Global Resilient Cities Network, a Rockefeller Foundation-backed initiative dedicated to supporting urban resilience, has likewise organised a weekly speaker series with the World Bank on global responses, as well as a program to facilitate long-term resilient recovery plans among member cities.

Armed with the latest information from experts, cities can effectively plan and implement the strategies needed to slow the virus’s spread – and come back even stronger.

Disease vs. Data

The technological transformation of cities hasn’t slowed during the pandemic. Organizations focused on the “smart cities” boom have simply expanded areas of exploration to include ways to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis. Quantela, an artificial intelligence start-up focused on urban services, has created CoVER, an AI-powered emergency response platform to assist government officials with diagnosing, monitoring and tracking people with the disease as well as with communicating and collaborating with communities.

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Scientists On Pandemics: ‘Nature Is Sending Us A Message’

The UN says, “governments must seize the opportunity to ‘build back better’ after the pandemic by creating more sustainable and resilient societies. No matter what the problem, Sustainable Development is always the answer.

The obvious bias of some radical, activist scientists is wearing thin in the public mind. These scientists have turned science into a religion closely associated with the myth of Gaia, the primordial Greek goddess that personifies the earth. The earth is believed to be a living organism capable of sentient thoughts.  ⁃ TN Editor

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to be followed by even more deadly and destructive disease outbreaks unless their root cause – the rampant destruction of the natural world – is rapidly halted, the world’s leading biodiversity experts have warned.

“There is a single species responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic – us,” they said. “Recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity, particularly our global financial and economic systems that prize economic growth at any cost. We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones.”

Professors Josef Settele, Sandra Díaz and Eduardo Brondizio led the most comprehensive planetary health check ever undertaken, which was published in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It concluded that human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating decline of the Earth’s natural life-support systems.

In an article published on Monday, with Dr Peter Daszak, who is preparing the next IPBES assessment, they write: “Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases.”

These activities cause pandemics by bringing more people into contact and conflict with animals, from which 70% of emerging human diseases originate, they said. Combined with urbanisation and the explosive growth of global air travel, this enabled a harmless virus in Asian bats to bring “untold human suffering and halt economies and societies around the world. This is the human hand in pandemic emergence. Yet [Covid-19] may be only the beginning.”

“Future pandemics are likely to happen more frequently, spread more rapidly, have greater economic impact and kill more people if we are not extremely careful about the possible impacts of the choices we make today,” they said.

The scientists said the multitrillion-dollar economic recovery packages being rolled out by governments must be used to strengthen and enforce environmental protection: “It may be politically expedient to relax environmental standards and to prop up industries such as intensive agriculture, airlines, and fossil-fuel-dependent energy sectors, but doing so without requiring urgent and fundamental change essentially subsidises the emergence of future pandemics.”

A global “One Health” approach must also be expanded, they said. “The health of people is intimately connected to the health of wildlife, the health of livestock and the health of the environment. It’s actually one health,” said Daszak.

Furthermore, surveillance programmes and health services need to be properly funded in nations on the frontlines of pandemic risk, they said: “This is not simple altruism – it is vital investment in the interests of all to prevent future global outbreaks.”

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Killing Capitalism: 10,000s Of U.S. Businesses Permanently Shuttered

Waves of bankruptcies are about to sweep America as restaurants, farms, small manufacturers, service companies, malls and more throw in the towel for good. These people’s lives and livelihoods are being eagerly sacrificed on the altar of science while fighting COVID-19.

Firms with less than 20 employees employ about 90% of all U.S. employees. Last week recorded another 4.4 million claims for unemployment, bringing the total to 26.5 million since the start of the lockdown in mid-March.  This erases 100 percent of the job gains since the Great Recession in 2007-2008.

Most people who are infected by COVID-19 will recover within days or weeks without any permanent damage. People who lose their businesses – in many cases generational family farms – are scarred for life and will never recover. These represent millions whereas COVID-19 represents thousands.

It is important to say this again: the overriding goal of the fear-saturated pandemic is not to ‘save lives’ but to destroy Capitalism and Free Enterprise. We know this because the United Nations has plainly stated that this is its goal: to replace the entire economic system with Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

This economic downturn is turning out to be far deeper and far more severe than most experts were originally anticipating.  More than 22 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment benefits, and economists are telling us that the U.S. economy is contracting at the fastest rate that we have seen since the Second World War.  We are already starting to see some high profile companies move toward bankruptcy, but the real story is what is happening to thousands upon thousands of small and mid-size businesses because of the lockdowns.  Many of them were barely surviving even before this pandemic, and now these lockdowns have delivered a death blow.

The restaurant industry is a perfect example.  Prior to the pandemic, there were more than a million restaurants in the United States, and about half of them were independent.  Those independent restaurants employed approximately 11 million workers, and now the vast majority of those workers have been laid off.

Once the lockdowns are over, it would be wonderful if all of those independent restaurants would spring back to life, but the results of a recent survey suggest that simply is not going to happen.  In fact, that survey found that 28 percent of all independent restaurants are probably not going to survive if the lockdowns last for another month…

A survey released Thursday by the James Beard Association found independent restaurants laid off 91% of their hourly employees and nearly 70% of salaried employees as of April 13 – double-digit increases in both categories since March. The poll of 1,400 small and independent restaurants found 38% of have closed temporarily or permanently, and 77% have seen their sales drop in half or worse.

Perhaps most troubling: 28% of restaurants said they don’t believe they can survive another month of closure, and only 1 out of 5 are certain they can sustain their businesses until normal operations can resume.

28 percent of 500,000 is 140,000, and so if these lockdowns are not lifted soon we could be facing a scenario is which tens of thousands of independent restaurants are lost forever.

Of course a lot of restaurants that do reopen will face a really tough struggle because fear of the coronavirus is going to keep customers away for the foreseeable future.  So even if all of the lockdowns were lifted tomorrow, the restaurant industry would still not fully recover.

Sadly, the same could be said for the fitness industry.  In fact, we just learned that one of the biggest fitness chains in the nation is getting ready to file for bankruptcy

Gym chain 24 Hour Fitness is working with advisors at investment bank Lazard and law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges to weigh options including a bankruptcy that could come as soon as the next few months, people familiar with the matter tell CNBC.

The chain is grappling with a heavy debt load, deteriorating performance and a coronavirus pandemic that forced it to shut its more than 400 clubs.

Yes, a certain segment of the population is quite eager to resume all of their normal pre-pandemic activities, but even a 20 or 30 percent drop off in revenue will be fatal for many gyms.

And the truth is that a lot of people are simply not going to be in the mood to share exercise equipment with others for a long time to come.

The entertainment, tourism and retail industries have also been hit extremely hard by this pandemic.  The other day I was quite stunned when I learned that Neiman Marcus “is reportedly ready to file bankruptcy”

Neiman Marcus Group, one of the largest retailers in the United States, is reportedly ready to file bankruptcy amid the COVD-19 pandemic after defaulting millions in bond payments last week and furloughing 14,000 employees.

Neiman Marcus would become the first major US department store to crumble amidst the economic set backs from the coronavirus outbreak.

No, things are definitely not going to be returning to “normal” in America, and there will be a lot more big corporate names among the victims in the days to come.

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Sustainable development Goal 1

Fail: Sustainable Development Goal #1 To ‘End Poverty Everywhere’

The United Nations’ #1 goal to “End poverty in all its forms everywhere” is on the rocks as COVID-19 has shut down the global economy. As many as 500 million more people will sink into abject poverty and the UN can thank its own agency, the WHO, for the setback. ⁃ TN Editor

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could push half a billion more people into poverty unless urgent action is taken to give real support to developing countries, said Oxfam today. The agency is calling on world leaders to agree an ‘Economic Rescue Package for All’ to keep poor countries and poor communities afloat, ahead of key meetings of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20 Finance Ministers’ next week.

Oxfam’s new report ‘Dignity Not Destitution’ presents fresh analysis which suggests between six and eight per cent of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire economies to manage the spread of the virus. This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa. Over half the global population could be living in poverty in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The analysis, published today, was conducted at Oxfam’s suggestion by researchers at King’s College London and the Australian National University.

An ‘Emergency Rescue Package for All’ would enable poor countries to support their people through actions such as cash grants to those who have lost their income, and could be paid for through a variety of measures, including the immediate cancellation of USD$1 trillion of developing country debt payments in 2020.

Rachael Le Mesurier, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand said: “Families across the world and here in New Zealand are feeling stressed and scared. What this coronavirus pandemic shows is how poverty and crisis compound each other. When you’re living in a refugee camp or squatter settlement in a poor country, you live hand-to-mouth. Your government can’t afford to provide social protection measures so when you lose your job, you’re on your own.

“This is the reality for many people across the world and in our neighbourhood. For example, almost half of Vanuatu’s economy is reliant on tourism and hospitality, which has now been obliterated by border restrictions to stop the coronavírus – many people have lost jobs.

“On top of this, now, thousands of people are crammed into evacuation centres following Category 5 tropical cyclone Harold. Houses have been flattened and livelihoods destroyed. With the economic slowdown from the coronavirus and now this, they’re facing twin disasters, and the risk that if coronavírus was in the country, it would spread like wildfire with people sheltering in close confines and water cut off in affected places.”

Jose Maria Vera, Oxfam International Interim Executive Director said:

“The devastating economic fallout of the pandemic is being felt across the globe. But for poor people in poor countries who are already struggling to survive there are almost no safety nets to stop them falling into poverty.”

Many wealthy nations have introduced multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus packages to support business and workers, but most developing nations lack the financial firepower to follow suit. The UN estimates that nearly half of all jobs in Africa could be lost. Micah Olywangu, a taxi driver and father of three from Nairobi, Kenya, who has not had a fare since the lockdown closed the airport, bars and restaurants, told Oxfam that “this virus will starve us before it makes us sick.”

Delivering the USD$2.5 trillion the UN estimates is needed to support developing countries through the pandemic would also require an additional USD$500 billion in overseas aid. This includes USD$160 billion which Oxfam estimates is needed to boost poor countries’ public health systems and USD$2 billion for the UN humanitarian fund.

“Governments must learn the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis where bailouts for banks and corporations were paid for by ordinary people as jobs were lost, wages flatlined and essential services such as healthcare cut to the bone. Economic stimulus packages must support ordinary workers and small businesses, and bail outs for big corporations must be conditional on action to build fairer, more sustainable economies,” added Veraa.

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Capitalism Is Being Blamed For COVID-19 Deaths

The politically green left of the political left is predictably blaming Capitalism and Free Enterprise for COVID-19 and wishing them both good riddance. The only alternative offered is Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

Not hesitating to exploit a health pandemic to advance their ideological agenda, Jacobin magazine on March 26 published an article attempting to proactively blame “millions” of coronavirus deaths on “capitalism.”

Titled “How Capitalism Kills during a Pandemic,” the article advances tired slogans about free markets placing “profits above people,” buttressed by faulty and at times self-contradictory arguments that prove unpersuasive.

To set the most alarmist tone possible, author Nick French begins by warning the reader that the coronavirus “will likely kill millions of people in the United States alone.”

This prediction cherry-picks the most ominous of such projections, irresponsibly relying on the report from London’s Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, who own authors admitted includes projections that are “worst-case,” combined with the incredibly unrealistic caveat that “there are no interventions or changes in people’s behavior.” The report further admitted that “Epidemic timings are approximate given the limitations of surveillance data in both countries,” in essence cautioning that such predictions will be moot once more sufficient data becomes available. (The Jacobin article was published before a leading author of the report altered his predictions based upon the dramatic responses imposed in countries around the world.)

With the reader sufficiently shocked by the worst-case projection of victims based on partial data and unrealistic assumptions, French quickly assigns the villain: “Many of these fatalities could have been avoided if we had a social order that placed the needs of people over profit,” he declares.

Helping to shape the readers’ cartoonish image of evil capitalism, the article informs us: “capitalists prioritize profits over the welfare of their workers and of humanity as a whole,” and adds, “They will pollute the environment with deadly toxins and planet-destroying greenhouse gases before spending money on safe production processes.”

Mass death is but an unconsidered side effect in the heartless system of capitalism. Such is the framing that French establishes.

This leads into his specific critiques:

“First, pharmaceutical companies could have started to develop a vaccine for the virus years ago. The novel coronavirus that is now ravaging the world is actually one of a family of coronaviruses (including SARS and MERS) with which we have long been familiar,” French notes. “It would have been possible to begin research on vaccines and cures for coronaviruses in general, giving us a head start on treatments for the current outbreak. But pharmaceutical companies did not pursue this research, because the prospect of a cure was not sufficiently profitable.”

Two elephants in the room go unaddressed in this argument. First, if a vaccine for the virus would save millions of lives in the US alone, potentially tens of millions of lives worldwide, why would that product not be profitable? Does the author honestly think that a product that could literally save one’s life would not be in high demand?

Secondly, why does the blame for failing to develop a vaccine fall squarely on private pharmaceutical companies? What about all the other developed nations that have some form of single-payer or universal healthcare system that the Jacobin crowd thinks will save us all? Why didn’t any of them develop a vaccine?

Next, the article addresses concerns about the consequences of the economic shutdown being imposed on the American economy. “Losing a job could result in losing your health-care coverage or being unable to pay your student loans,” French writes. This concern is entirely justifiable.

But somehow French doesn’t see the irony in lamenting the close tie between one’s job and health insurance coverage—a result of government policy making insurance coverage tax exempt—as somehow the fault of “capitalism.” Without government interference, far more health insurance coverage would be owned by individuals, not supplied by employers.

Moreover, the student loan debt crisis is largely a government phenomenon as well. Decades of government subsidies and low-interest loans have helped drive up college tuition, and the federal government owns more than 90 percent of all student loan debt.

French blames “capitalism” for putting individuals in precarious situations that are highly exacerbated by the pandemic crisis, but the roots are to be found in government intervention.

Next, he blames greedy capitalist owners for forcing workers to go to work and risk their health because doing otherwise would “hurt bosses’ bottom line.”

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