• World
    National Review

    China Wants to Use the Coronavirus to Take Over the World

    What started as a catastrophe for China is shaping up to be a moment of strategic opportunity, a rare turning point in the flow of history. Suddenly, the protests in Hong Kong, carrying a mortal threat to political stability in the mainland, became a physical impossibility. More important, the pandemic set in motion a global competition, to contain the virus, for which China and the Chinese Communist Party seem uniquely prepared.As the virus spread to the whole world, it became apparent that Western societies — Beijing’s true rivals — did not have the ability to quickly organize every citizen around a single goal. As opposed to China, which remains to a large extent a revolutionary society, their political systems were built for normal times. Chinese society is a mobilized army, which can quickly drop everything else and march in one direction.Mao once said, “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos, the situation is excellent.” And so it seems at present, as seen from Beijing. Chinese diplomats stationed all over the world spend their time raising the stakes to a dangerous level. Following instructions from the very top, they have taken to the media to issue a challenge to America, to point out its failure, and to compare the chaos in American cities and hospitals with what they see as a singular success in stopping the epidemic in China.Several commentators have suggested that China may be winning the coronavirus battle by stepping forward in providing medical help to affected countries, mostly in Europe, at a time when the United States is consumed with its own difficulties. This misses the point.The cases have been multiplying where the medical equipment provided by Chinese companies and even the Chinese state turned out to be faulty, provoking justified ire in, for example, Spain, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Moreover, medical help is a normal occurrence in a crisis. China has done nothing different, except perhaps in the clumsy way it publicizes those efforts.Forget about “mask diplomacy.” It is no more than a distraction. There are other ways for China to use the coronavirus pandemic to upturn the existing global order. I see three main levers.The first one is the direct comparison between the situation in China and elsewhere. The numbers of cases and fatalities provided by Chinese authorities almost certainly misrepresent the real figures by more than an order of magnitude, but the fact remains that a semblance of normalcy was achieved in a small period of time. If the United States fails to do the same, its prestige will suffer a severe blow. People all over the world will quickly change their perceptions about relative power and capacity.The second lever resides with industrial value chains. Last month General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler closed all their automotive production plants across the United States and Canada. Other sectors have followed. In the meantime, China contained the worst of the pandemic to one province, allowing economic activity to quickly resume elsewhere. The most recent data show renewed activity in the flow of goods across the country, as well as at ports worldwide that do business with China. If the freeze in Europe and America continues for much longer, Chinese companies will be able to dramatically expand market share and replace Western-led value chains. Just yesterday Chinese authorities announced that manufacturing activity expanded in March, defying expectations of a contraction. In February the official Purchasing Managers’ Index hit a record low of 35.7. It bounced back to 52.0 in March. Prepare for a worldwide wave of Chinese acquisitions at knockdown prices.Finally, in a more extreme scenario, important countries could experience the kind of economic shock that leads to widespread social and political collapse. At that point, China would have a unique opportunity to step in, provide aid, and refashion these countries in its image. It would look like a repeat of the Marshall Plan and the beginning of the American world order after the ravages of World War II. Indonesia, South Asia, and even Russia might be of special interest in such a scenario.We knew that a generalized race or competition between alternative geopolitical models had started, but it was never clear what the background for such a competition would be. If the clash took place within the existing global trade and financial system, which was of course built according to Western rules and principles, the United States was confident the battle could be decisively won. But what if it took place on neutral ground? What if it took place in a kind of neutral landscape, a state of nature with few or no rules, against a chaotic and quickly evolving background? The outcome would become considerably more uncertain.To put it more bluntly: There was always an argument that the existing world order cannot change because only a momentous war has done that in the past and world wars have become impossible. But in pandemics — and soon in climate change — we may have found two functional equivalents of war.

  • Health
    Good Housekeeping

    6 Mild Symptoms of Coronavirus You Shouldn’t Ignore, According to Doctors

    The signs go beyond a fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

  • U.S.
    The Daily Beast

    Donald Trump Is Gaslighting Andrew Cuomo and Sucking Up to Ron DeSantis

    As the United States grapples with a rampaging communicable disease that will needlessly take the lives of more Americans than most of the nation’s wars, we are also confronting a president who has rendered our federal government utterly incapable of protecting its nation’s citizens and who has left it to the nation’s governors to desperately compete among themselves for lifesaving medical equipment.In the vacuum created by a hapless national government, it will fall almost entirely upon the leaders of the states to effectively cooperate in an effort to minimize the grievous cost in human lives our nation will pay. We are facing an unprecedented test of our federal system, one that will require states to resist fear and mistrust by working together to minimize the virus’ toll, and to do so while Trump—who has fanned the flames of division in the midst of the pandemic—continues to encourage Americans to blame one other, so as to distract them from blaming him.Trump Blames New York Coronavirus Crisis on Impeachment ‘Hoax’This week, the president’s scientific advisers have described New York and New Jersey as charnel houses, where tens of thousands will die, even in the best case. For his part, Trump has repeatedly suggested that the state he grew up in bears much of the blame for its own dark fate, purportedly because New York “got off to a very late start” in responding to the pandemic. On Tuesday, Trump asserted that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “shouldn’t be complaining” that New Yorkers are about to die for a lack of lifesaving ventilators, because Cuomo should have gotten “going sooner.”The truth, of course, is that Trump and his government ignored repeated warnings from national security and scientific advisers, and deliberately discouraged COVID-19 testing at the crucial point at which the silently growing infection in New York could have been identified and minimized. Indeed, it is only because scientists in Washington State defied CDC instructions by testing samples of flu patients in the Seattle area in February that the scope of the infection there was identified relatively early.Trump’s gaslighting effort to deflect blame for his own catastrophic failures upon the victims now threatens to impair the nation’s remaining chances of limiting the vast human cost of the pandemic. As Cuomo, and public health experts, have explained, meeting the goal of effectively treating as many gravely ill Americans as possible will depend on the ability of states to work together. This will require the coordinated sharing of a limited amount of both lifesaving medical equipment and medical professionals, as well as effectively coordinating social distancing measures (particularly between neighboring states), as the virus charts a deadly path through the country over the coming weeks and months. While the New York region will begin to hit an apex in the number of its critical COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks, that will only be the start of a “rolling wave across the country,” as other states and regions reach their (hopefully) lower peak caseloads during later weeks. Accordingly, as Cuomo has explained, the best course is to move the limited available human and other resources from place to place, with the movement of the pandemic: according to Cuomo, if “we were smart as a nation,” the health care system would focus its resources on each region facing its period of greatest need; by pursuing this strategy, health care professionals could “get the training, get the experience, and then… go help the next place.” Similarly, the nation could marshal its gravely limited supply of lifesaving medical equipment, most importantly ventilators, by likewise transporting them from place to place, along with the movement of the disease. The problem is that the federal government, which America has come to expect to take the lead in such times of national challenge, is not directing, or even effectively suggesting, such logistical coordination among the states.The president has resolutely refused to take control of the supply chain for lifesaving ventilators and other medical equipment, as he is squarely empowered to do by the Defense Production Act. Moreover, as Trump acknowledged on Thursday, he has forced the states to become direct competitors, inducing them to bid against one another in what amount to eBay-like auctions for the same desperately needed ventilators and masks, sometimes only to find that they are all outbid by the federal government or even foreign purchasers.At the same time, Trump has encouraged Americans to fear one another, just as he has long demonized undocumented immigrants. Last Saturday, Trump paused amidst the din of a waiting helicopter, to offhandedly declare, “Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot—New York, New Jersey, one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut, quarantined.” Cuomo responded by stating that such an action would constitute “a declaration of war on states,” and Trump was compelled to discard the proposal. It later came to light that Trump didn’t get the idea to impose a quarantine on New York from health-care professionals, but rather from one of his favorite governors, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who famously aired a campaign ad in which he exhorted his young daughter to “build the wall,” while she played with toy blocks.In the face of the predictable increases in coronavirus infections and deaths in Florida (totaling over 9,000 cases, and about 144 deaths, as of Thursday), DeSantis dithered on taking necessary steps to prevent the transmission of the virus within Florida (he kept the beaches open during Spring Break and only decided to issue a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday, and even then excluded houses of worship, where the virus has frequently been spread). Instead of addressing the growing danger brewing within his state, DeSantis has blamed other Americans for Florida’s plight, asserting that New York and Louisiana are "airdropping in people from the hot zones" into Florida.  DeSantis also set up roadblocks to stop and question visitors solely from those two states, and demand that they be subject to quarantines. In fact, only about 4 percent of Florida’s COVID-19 cases involve non-Florida residents. DeSantis also strongly opposed allowing the docking of cruise ships bearing COVID-19 sufferers from docking in Florida, declaring that the state “cannot afford to have people who are not even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up [the] valuable resources," much of which DeSantis received from the federal government. The governor went so far as to suggest that only Florida residents should be allowed off the vessels, while other passengers should be left to linger, and die, although local officials ultimately decided to allow them to dock.Cuomo, by contrast, has persisted in offering a model of interstate cooperation by coordinating closely with the governors of neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut to implement and enforce similar stay-at-home regimes. As Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of Trump's coronavirus task force, acknowledged on Tuesday, the nation cannot hope to stay within the “best case,” which has since likely moved above the initial range of between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths, unless the entire nation implements similarly rigorous social distancing regimes. Once again, coordination among the states, rather than suspicion and blame gaming, is the key to blunting the impact of the pandemic.This nation has not had a challenge like this in decades, and it remains to be seen whether we will be able to meet the test without effective federal leadership. Will states be able to effectively share resources–and overcome the mistrust and divisions Trump has assiduously fostered–based upon a recognition of their mutual interests? The fate of many Americans may turn upon the answer to that question.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • U.S.
    Yahoo Sports

    Report: UFC president Dana White named in Las Vegas sex-tape extortion lawsuit

    Dana White was named in a lawsuit on Friday as the "prominent Las Vegas businessman" involved in a 2015 sex-tape extortion case.

  • World
    Bloomberg

    Putin’s U.S. Virus Aid Flight May Have Carried Sanctioned Goods

    (Bloomberg) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin’s shipment of medical equipment to help the U.S. fight the coronavirus epidemic may have contained a hidden message from the Kremlin.Included in the aid appear to be ventilators produced by a firm under U.S. sanctions, according to video of the plane’s unloading at New York’s JFK airport posted by Russian state-owned news agency Ruptly.Among the boxes were Avanta M ventilators, produced by a subsidiary of KRET, which has been on the Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals list since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. RBC newspaper first reported the connection.Even if the ventilators were not purchased directly from KRET, sanctions generally prevent importing anything that an SDN has a property interest in, according to Brian O’Toole, a former senior adviser in Treasury’s sanctions unit and now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.“This is another example of Putin playing the U.S.,” O’Toole said by phone. “While there are no real consequences for the government violating its own sanctions, it looks stupid for them to be breaking their own rules.”A spokeswoman for the KRET subsidiary, based near Yekaterinburg almost 900 miles east of Moscow, referred all questions to the Industry and Trade Ministry. The ministry did not respond to calls or an emailed query.While the aid was billed as a humanitarian shipment, the cost of the shipment was split evenly between U.S. companies and the Kremlin’s sovereign wealth fund. The Russian Direct Investment Fund is subject to sectoral sanctions, which prohibit it from most borrowing in the U.S. but don’t prevent it from doing business with American entities.Despite the tensions between Moscow and Washington, Putin and President Donald Trump enjoy a warm relationship. The leaders agreed on the aid during a March 30 phone call during which they also discussed the collapse of oil prices.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Celebrity
    House Beautiful

    Tarek El Moussa and Heather Rae Young 'Decided to Commit 100%' on Their Second Date

    "People may have thought we were crazy, but we knew."

  • Celebrity
    People

    Val Kilmer Says He Has Not Had a Girlfriend in 20 Years: 'I Am Lonely Part of Every Day'

    In his new memoir, I'm Your Huckleberry, Val Kilmer says that he hasn't had a girlfriend in 20 Years: 'I am lonely part of every day'