The first tenant for one of Frank Woodworth’s underground bunkers wasn’t a human, it was a seed. “A couple of hippies called me up and asked me to build them a vault for their heirloom seeds,” he said.
A reserved man with Downeast stoicism, Mr. Woodworth is the owner of Northeast Bunkers, a company in Pittsfield, Maine, that specializes in the design and construction of underground bunkers. It was 18 years ago that Mr. Woodworth outfitted that first steel vault while working as a general contractor, and he has since changed direction, pivoting his business model to focus solely on designing, installing and updating underground shelters.
He stresses that these are not “luxury bunkers” for the top 1 percent, and only a small part of the calls are coming from Doomsday preppers or Cold War-era holdovers. Rather, about two-thirds of his business comes from consumers who pay approximately $25,000 for an underground livable dwelling. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Woodworth said he has been unable to keep up with the demand.
Buyers of these kinds of underground dwellings say that they simply want to protect their families from an increasingly turbulent world. For many, the decision to build a bunker was made before the coronavirus pandemic surfaced, but they say that they now feel prepared for the next local or global crisis.
Aaron, who spoke on the condition that his full name not be used to protect his privacy, said he bought a bunker three years ago to keep his family in the Washington D.C. area safe in a variety of situations. “If something happens, I can put the family in there, or if I’m gone, my wife can lock the family in there,” he said. “Not just the coronavirus, or civil unrest. Even in environmental things” — like earthquakes and tornadoes — “my family is protected.”
Aaron, who has three teenagers and is in his mid-40s, said he is currently using his 1,100-square-foot bunker as an office. “Parts of the bunker are off-limits to all my children, like any of the security rooms, the weapons room, the food and storage room, the pantry,” he said.
Other amenities include a food and storage room, as well as an aboveground “safe room” which is used “if you need to quickly get away from something immediately. Basically, a panic room.”
He bought his bunker from a company called Hardened Structures based in Virginia Beach, Va., one of the many bunker builders across the country.
Some buyers go through a bunker broker to find a shelter that fits their needs. Jonathan Rawles is the owner and manager of Survival Realty Brokerage Services, a national company based in Idaho that works with agents and brokers specializing in remote, off-grid bunker-type property.
“There is continual demand for people that are looking to find more of a sustainable future for themselves, for their families,” Mr. Rawles said. “A lot of real estate markets only focus on housing in the urban areas, suburban areas, exurbs, and there is very much a missed opportunity for people who are looking to live off-grid, wanting to live remote, or actually looking to secure a property, whether that’s a bunker or a more secure and sustainable home.”
Mr. Rawles pairs his clients with bunker-building companies in the U.S. and says his company has a wide range of clients. “This market and desire for security cuts across all levels of society — social, political, racial, religious,” he said. “People are looking for the opportunity to secure the family’s future, to have a more sustainable future, and part of that may be having a bunker.”
Mr. Woodworth at Northeast Bunkers, said that recent inquiries have come from across the United States, and worldwide. The furthest installation he’s ever done? The Caribbean. “That one went by truck then by barge then by truck.”
The basic model at Northeast Bunkers is a cylindrical steel vessel eight feet in diameter, in 13- or 20-foot lengths, welded from quarter-inch plate steel and equipped with an entrance hatch on top. Standard features include rust-resistant exterior paint, cedar plank flooring, zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) interior finishes, two vent ports, floor hatches for storage, and an emergency exit hatch.
Optional features include power connections (your choice of 12-volt or 120-volt), potable water system, septic system, bathroom, kitchen, bunks, and a blast door. “All depending on what you order, and all materials are made in America,” Mr. Woodworth said. “We try to get people as safe as possible within a reasonable budget.” The company’s bunkers range from $25,000 to $35,000.
In the 1950s and 60s, the threat of nuclear war and Cold War tensions sparked demand in home fallout shelters, with endorsements from both the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, a proliferation of pamphlets (and coupons) for such structures scattered across America, as well as a vote in 1961 in Congress for $169 million with a big push to mark, locate and stock fallout shelters in existing public and private buildings.
Back then, bunkers were economical in construction and basic in design, consisting of rot-resistant plywood panels and concrete blocks, buried and backfilled with sand or gravel. Today, most shelters are fabricated from steel, like Northeast Bunkers’, or concrete, or cinder blocks. Others are made from airform — a highly engineered reusable and inflatable spray mold to be covered in concrete to create monolithic domes — or from renovated missile silos, and many are completely new high-end construction.
Today, some underground shelter companies market military-grade materials, such as Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Air Filtration Systems, gas-tight and waterproof doors, and six-point locking systems. Others offer the option of home entertainment theaters, game rooms, wine cellars, gun racks, even underground swimming pools.
Atlas Survival Shelters, a fallout shelter company based in Sulphur Springs, Texas, specializes in safe rooms and bomb shelters, and advertises one modular unit that “feels as close to home as possible.”
The modular 8-by-12-foot (not including the entry corridor) mini model costs $49,000 and includes a mud room, a decontamination room, a gas-tight marine door, an air-filtration system, a blast valve and a generator pod. Products at Atlas start at about $400 a square foot, ranging from $9,000 for an inflatable shelter to $5 million for their “platinum series shelter.”
Ron Hubbard, president and owner of Atlas, makes, among other shelter products, monolithic domes that “meet FEMA standards for providing near-absolute protection.”
Atlas’s bunker building videos on YouTube signed up 47,000 new YouTube subscribers in April, and a video of a luxury bunker installation has gotten nearly 6 million views. Atlas has also seen a big uptick in calls and orders since the coronavirus pandemic began.
“But you do not need to go into a bunker to save yourself from the coronavirus,” Mr. Hubbard said. “No one has bought a shelter from me to hide during the pandemic, but many people have bought it because of the pandemic. They feel that this is the beginning of something a lot bigger, and they feel it in their gut.”
Another bunker owner, Roberta, who lives in New Mexico and who also asked that her full name not be used to protect her privacy, bought her off-grid bunker from Atlas Shelters four years ago. “I believe everyone deserves a better chance of survival, not just me.”
She calls her underground shelter her “woman cave,” and it’s equipped with a kitchen, entertainment center, toilet, shower, mud room and a place to sleep. Roberta, 59, married, and retired with grown children, wants to be able to provide a safe haven for her family at a moment’s notice.
She gets into her shelter by entering what looks like a rickety shed hidden in plain sight on a sandy, deserted plot of land that she owns. Inside the shed, she opens a hatch on the floor, and steps down a steep set of stairs to a steel submarine door. Inside, just past the bunker’s mud room is the living room, where a sign reads, “My husband needed more space, so I locked him outside.”
Aaron, the bunker buyer who lives in the Washington D.C. area, found Hardened Structures on Google, and said the company had a good reputation online. When the family was installing an in-ground pool, he decided to have Hardened Structures put in a bunker at the same time.
“So no one knew what we were building,” he said. “I’m not a prepper. My parents were ranchers who do old-school canning, deer hunting, that kind of thing. So I took little things from them.”
Brian V. Camden, principal of Hardened Structures, has been in business for 32 years. The majority of his projects are underground bunkers beneath fortified homes in locations ranging from Brooklyn to ranches out West, as well as contracted military work in the Middle East.
“I collaborate with architects, engineers, Navy Seals,” Mr. Camden said. “We have ex-military employees specializing in C.B.R.N. — chemical biological radio nuclear analysis.”
Hardened Structures also works with a company called Red Team Analysis, ex-Navy Seals who teach bunker breaching to officials from the National Security Agency.
When Hardened Structures is building a bunker, Mr. Camden said, Red Team Analysis supervises their work. Unlike Northeast Bunkers or Atlas, Hardened Structures does not design steel enclosures, but rather cast reinforced concrete, which he says would shield the interior of the bunker from an electromagnetic pulse or geomagnetic storm.
The company’s underground shelters are made from cast-in-place reinforced concrete. The prices range anywhere from $600 to $3,000 per square foot. Factors affecting the cost include blast overpressure (thickness of the concrete walls and structure) and whether it is designed to withstand chemical, biological and radiological dispersion, and conventional weapons — “also known as weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Camden said. “Other factors include the client’s secrecy requirements, the site geotechnical makeup, and the extent of EMP shielding within the shelter itself,” he added, referring to electromagnetic shielding.
With new business booming, bunker installers are also keeping busy with their previous clients.
Recently, Mr. Woodworth, of Northeast Bunkers returned from an installation job on Chebeague Island, in Casco Bay, Maine, and said he was so busy that clients were being wait-listed. Bunker upgrades have also become much more popular among Mr. Woodworth’s clients, and people who were putting in just six months’ worth of food are now putting in two years’ worth.
“I’m just a businessman who deals with paranoid people,” he said, “and it seems like the parameters of paranoia are changing every day.”
Israeli relations with China have grabbed headlines in recent weeks, but the real litmus test of the United States’ ability to counter Beijing’s growing footprint in the Middle East is likely to be in the Gulf.
In talks last month with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli leaders made clear that while wanting to maintain close relations with China, they would not risk jeopardizing their long-standing ties to the US, their closest ally and supporter of their controversial annexationist policies.
Within days of Pompeo’s visit, Israel awarded a tender for the world’s largest desalination company to an Israeli company rather than a competing Chinese firm.
Similarly, Israeli officials say that Israel is unlikely to buy Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei’s 5G offering because of security considerations of its own. The US has been campaigning against the integration of Huawei components into the networks of its allies.
The real Israeli test may come next year when China takes over the management of Haifa port that is often frequented by ships of the US Sixth Fleet. US officials have suggested that Chinese control of the port could impact the US Navy’s willingness to use Haifa’s facilities.
In contrast to Israel, the US is likely to find the going tougher in persuading Gulf states to limit their engagement with China, including with Huawei, which already has significant operations in the region.
Like Israel, United Arab Emirates officials have sought to convey to the US that they see relations with America as indispensable, even though that has yet to be put to the test when it comes to China.
“The United States is our single most important strategic partnership. Sometimes people, when they think of our relationship with the US, they just look at the political/military angle. But this relationship is really much, much wider,” said UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash.
Such a relationship, he added, is to be found in “IT, in business, investment, in soft power, in the presence of institutions such as NYU Abu Dhabi, in people like me who spent some of the best years of their lives in America.”
Gargash was speaking after Pompeo’s visit to Israel, and after a senior US official issued a direct warning to Gulf states.
“These states have to weigh the value of their partnership with the United States. We want our partner nations to do due diligence,” said US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker.
Describing Chinese aid as “predatory,” Schenker warned that Huawei’s participation in 5G infrastructure in the Gulf would make it difficult for American and Gulf forces to communicate. Huawei has signed agreements with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
“We’re not forcing countries to choose between the United States and the PRC,” Schenker said, referring to the People’s Republic of China. “Countries can and should maintain healthy relationships with both, but we want to highlight the costs” that come with certain engagements with China.
Earlier, an unidentified senior US official warned that Gulf states “risk rupturing the long-term strategic relationship they have with the US.”
The US Navy’s Fifth Fleet operates out of Bahrain, while Qatar hosts the forward headquarters of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM).
A different agenda
In a message to Israel that was also intended for the Gulf, US Ambassador David Friedman laid out US concerns.
“For two countries as close to each other as Israel and the US, when they cooperate and exchange intelligence and other secrets for their mutual protection on such a robust level, both countries need to be really careful about exposing that level of cooperation to a foreign power that may have a different agenda,” he said.
Friedman asserted that China uses investments and infrastructure projects to “infiltrate” countries. “These [Chinese] companies have the ability to flick various switches and gain access to the most sensitive communications.”
The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi, in a shot across the Gulf’s bow, last month rejected a UAE offer to donate hundreds of coronavirus tests for screening of its staff.
The snub also was designed to put a dent in China’s health silk road diplomacy centered on its experience with the pandemic and ability to manufacture personal protective and medical equipment.
A US official said the tests were rejected because they were either Chinese-made or involved BGI, a Chinese genomics company active in the Gulf, which raised concerns about patient privacy.
The US softened the blow when the prestigious Ohio-based Cleveland Clinic sent 40 nurses and doctors to its Abu Dhabi subsidiary. The Abu Dhabi facility was tasked with treating the UAE’s most severe cases of coronavirus.
The seemingly escalating US effort to box in China is hampered by the fact that no US company produces a 5G alternative.
“5G is the future. To reconsider Huawei, the US has to offer an alternative. So far, it hasn’t done so,” a Gulf official who wishes to remain anonymous told Inside Arabia, where this article was originally published.
The same dilemma applies to the US’ desire to reduce its commitments in the Middle East. In its global rivalry with China, the US cannot afford to create the kind of void that China and Russia would not be able or willing to fill in the short-term.
“It’s a toss-up,” said a Gulf analyst who requested anonymity. “The US can’t compete on 5G and China and Russia can’t compete on security. This is a situation and a set of relationships that requires careful management.
“The problem is that big power leaders show little inclination to find a middle ground.” That, the analyst said, leaves Gulf states grappling for ways to hedge their bets.
The Eiffel Tower reopened to visitors Thursday morning after having been shut down for more than three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the Paris landmark’s longest closure since World War II.
The reopening is a dramatic sign of people reclaiming public spaces in France following more than 100 days of restrictions. But the tower’s highest point is still not open – and for now, visitors will need to take the stairs.
The stairs-only rule is one of several restrictions at the site, which draws millions of tourists during a normal year. Face masks are compulsory for all visitors over the age of 11, and physical distancing markers are in place.
To keep people from crossing paths on the stairs, visitors will ascend on the Eiffel Tower’s east pillar and descend on the west pillar, according to the Eiffel Tower website.
The reopening took place on a sunny and clear morning, promising wide views of the city. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed the return of visitors — and as the first guests prepared to make their way up, a band of drummers performed in the plaza at the tower’s base.
Elevator service inside the monument is slated to begin again on July 1. For those who can’t wait, a ticket to walk up to the Eiffel Tower’s second floor – the wider area that cuts off just as the tower narrows toward its spire – costs 10.40 euros (about $11.65).
Tickets are being sold online in 30-minute increments. Shortly after noon local time Thursday, spots were still open through the afternoon, though the evening tickets had all been claimed, presumably by people eager to see how the City of Light comes to life in the night, even during a pandemic.
A French government official declared the coronavirus to be “under control” in early June. Days later, France joined the rest of the European Union in lifting many border restrictions within the bloc – part of a plan to salvage part of the summer tourism season.
There are signs that the virus has remained under control. France’s positive test rate for the coronavirus is 1.5%, according to the most recent data from the national public health agency. Only two of its 104 departments are considered to be in a highly vulnerable situation – and those are on islands in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean.
France has reported 161,348 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 29,731 deaths, according to government data.
Exiled Chinese dissident Guo Wengui alleged this weekend the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “allocates $2 billion a year” to pay off the Vatican for its silence concerning Chinese atrocities.
In a June 20th interview on The War Room, Mr. Guo said the CCP earmarks massive sums each year to win the allegiance of foreign countries including the Vatican, Italy, and Australia. Among them, the Vatican receives up to 2 billion dollars from the Chinese Communist Party every year, he said.
“The Chinese Communist Party allocates 2 billion US dollars each year” to gain influence over the Vatican’s internal policy making and to pay for its silence on the CCP’s repression of religious freedom, said the controversial billionaire whistleblower.
Guo has previously stated that China has drafted a complete strategy for world domination known by the initials “BGY,” which stands for Blue (control the Internet), Gold (buy influence with money), and Yellow (seduce key people with sex).
Since 2014, the CCP has formulated internal policies to invest a certain percentage of trade with foreign countries in the BGY program to erode the local state system, Guo said Saturday, and the current BGY quota for the United States is 5%.
According to data from the U.S. Trade Office, the total trade volume between China and the U.S. in 2018 was $7.37 trillion. If calculated according to 5%, the amount used for BGY in the United States would then be about $36.8 billion, Guo said.
Guo also offered a similar calculation for Australia.
“The trade volume between the CCP and Australia is about US $200 billion,” he said. “Previously, 1 percent was used for BGY, but it rose to 5 percent. That is, $10 billion was used for BGY.”
According to Guo, these huge amounts of BGY funds are employed for a variety of uses, including bribing local officials, regulating media messaging, and controlling local resources.
A 2019 report released by the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute revealed hundreds of Twitter accounts linked to the state-backed effort to denigrate pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong had formerly been used to target critics of the Chinese government, principally Guo Wengui.
The accounts were part of a coordinated information campaign operating for more than two years to target Mr. Guo as well as jailed publisher Gui Minhai.
“Those early efforts are an attempt to shape sentiment and the international narrative around these prominent critics of the Chinese government and to shape them in such a way as to influence the Chinese diaspora’s perception of these individuals,” said Jake Wallis, one of the report’s chief authors.
For its part, the Vatican has been carrying on a charm offensive with the CCP for several years, and in September 2018 signed an important secret accord with Beijing concerning the appointment of Catholic bishops in China.
According to veteran Vatican journalist John L. Allen, Jr., the Vatican has spared no effort in its attempt to woo Beijing into full diplomatic relations, a key priority of the Francis papacy.
The Vatican is “covetous of a relationship with China, and often apparently willing to stifle objections and give away a great deal” in order to move toward that goal, Allen wrote last month.
In short, “the Vatican is moving full-steam ahead in its courtship of Beijing, with the ultimate prize remaining full diplomatic relations, a secure legal standing for the church, and partnerships on the global stage,” Allen wrote.
The Vatican’s 2018 overture to Beijing was sweetened by the May 2020 launch of a new Chinese edition of the Jesuit-edited journal Civiltà Cattolica, which enjoys a semi-official Vatican status, Allen noted.
La Civiltà Cattolica said the new edition is meant “as a gesture of friendship, given the increasingly important role that the Chinese language plays in the contemporary world within the global context.”
Mr. Allen’s appraisal of the Vatican’s courtship of China squares with what other Vatican-watchers have been observing as well.
Francis dreams of being the pope who will establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, and to achieve this goal he is willing to make “concessions,” declared Vatican analyst Alban Mikozy on French television last December.
“Pope Francis is a prudent man,” Mikozy said. “He pursues a dream: to be the sovereign pontiff who will restore relations between China and the Vatican.”
“In order to do this, he is ready to make a few concessions: say nothing about Hong Kong, do not get too excited when the Chinese leader talks about rewriting the Bible,” he added, in reference to announcements that the CCP intends to retranslate the Bible and other sacred texts to make them conform to socialist ideology.
Because of this overarching desire, Mikozy said, the pope is willing to turn a blind eye to the CCP’s violations of religious liberty and other human rights issues.
Last November, for instance, during an in-flight press conference during his return flight from Asia, the pope reiterated his desire to visit China, while dodging questions about the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.
“I would like to go to Beijing,” Francis said. “I love China.”
According to Mikozy, the pope’s silence on Hong Kong suggests that he will go to great lengths not to offend the CCP.
The pope has lavished fulsome praise on China, insisting that China’s communist government protects religious freedom and that “churches are full.”
Meanwhile, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, has held up communist China as the best model for living out Catholic social teaching today.
Things have certainly gotten really crazy here in 2020. First we witnessed the eruption of the worst global pandemic in 100 years, then the U.S. economy started collapsing, and then we watched major U.S. cities burn from coast to coast as rioting and looting spiraled out of control. Everywhere you look, people are very angry and deeply frustrated, nearly 46 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the past few months, and fear of COVID-19 continues to paralyze our society to a frightening extent. But can this really be called the lowest point in modern U.S. history? According to one recent survey, a whopping 72 percent of all Americans actually believe that this “is the lowest point in the country’s history that they’ve ever been alive to see”…
Across two polls, more than 5,000 adult U.S. residents were recently surveyed on the state of America right now. A staggering 83% say that worrying about the future of the United States is a big source of personal stress. Also, 72% believe this is the lowest point in the country’s history that they’ve ever been alive to see.
That appears to be quite a consensus.
Of course many of those that were alive during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the early days of World War II would strongly argue that what we are experiencing today is nothing compared to what they had to deal with.
And without a doubt, the twelve years from 1968 to 1980 were not easy years by any stretch of the imagination. Just like now, Americans of that era were facing great civil unrest, tremendous economic problems, major political shaking and a global pandemic that killed a lot of people. If you don’t know about that pandemic, just Google “the flu pandemic of 1968”.
Having said all that, there is definitely a case to be made for 2020. Not even during the Great Depression did we ever see the kind of apocalyptic spike in unemployment that we have witnessed this year. Even though nearly 46 million Americans have already filed for unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic began, big firms continue to lay off thousands upon thousands of workers. On top of that, more than 100,000 businesses have already permanently closed their doors, and Americans have already skipped payments on more than 100 million loans.
And as I explained the other day, the most severe pain from this economic downturn won’t even begin to hit us until about six weeks from now.
As emergency government assistance starts to fade, an increasing number of Americans will have a very difficult time keeping up with paying the bills. In fact, another new survey has found that about half of all homeowners are “worried about making future mortgage payments”…
New research offers a glimpse into struggling households, discovers out of the 2,000 American homeowners polled, over half (52%) of respondents say they’re routinely worried about making future mortgage payments and nearly half (47%) considered selling their home because of the inability to service mortgage payments.
The study, conducted by OnePoll and the National Association of Realtors, determined 81% of respondents had experienced unexpected financial stress due to the virus-induced recession. Over half (56%) reduced spending so they could service mortgage payments.
Meanwhile, fear of COVID-19 is going to continue to paralyze our society for the foreseeable future.
I don’t know if you have taken a look at the numbers lately, but the truth is that the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. is starting to surge again. For the planet as a whole, Friday was the worst day of the pandemic so far by a very wide margin, and that means that this crisis is a long, long way from over.
There are already whispers that there may be new lockdowns here in the United States. I seriously hope that does not happen, because that would be another crippling blow for our collapsing economy, and the virus just continued to spread during the first round of lockdowns anyway.
On top of everything else, more rioting, looting and violence could erupt at literally any moment. Since this is an election year, tensions are going to be running even higher than usual, and even a relatively minor spark could cause another round of major civil unrest.
But as bad as things are right now, what most people don’t understand is that this is just the beginning.
As I have warned so many times before, we have entered a time when we are going to be facing one crisis after another, and this is going to be true no matter what happens during the election in November.
We have reached a moment in history when all of the cycles are ending, all of the bubbles are bursting, and we are going to experience the consequences of all the very foolish decisions that we have been making for decades.
At this point, the immediate outlook is so bleak that it is turning all sorts of people into raging pessimists. For example, Wolf Richter just posted an article in which he explained why he just shorted the entire stock market…
I’m sharing this trade so that everyone gets to ridicule me and hail me as a moron and have fun at my expense in the comments for weeks and months every time the market goes up. And I do not recommend shorting this market; it’s nuts. But here’s why I did.
The stock market had just gone through what was termed the “greatest 50-day rally in history.” The S&P 500 index had skyrocketed 47% from the intraday low on March 23 (2,192) to the close on June 8 (3,232). It was a blistering phenomenal rally. Since June 8, the market has gotten off track but not by much. It’s still a phenomenal rally. And it came during the worst economy in my lifetime.
I know that a lot of people will criticize him for making such a move, but I applaud him for his bravery.
Even if his timing turns out to be a bit early, I certainly concur with him that this latest Fed-fueled bubble will inevitably burst.
But ultimately we are going to be facing problems that are much more severe than a stock market crash. In fact, a market crash will be among the least of our problems.
Because it isn’t just our economy that is collapsing.
Our entire society is in the process of imploding, and if you don’t like 2020, then you really aren’t going to like what is going to happen in 2021 and beyond.
About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. My name is Michael Snyder and I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I need those that republish my articles to include this “About the Author” section with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help. During these very challenging times, people will need hope more than ever before, and it is our goal to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as we possibly can.
The virus is winning. That much is certain more than six months into a shape-shifting pandemic that’s killed more than 454,000 people worldwide, is gaining ground globally and has disrupted lives from Wuhan to Sao Paulo.
While promising, fast-moving vaccine projects are underway in China, Europe and the U.S., only the most optimistic expect an effective shot to be ready for global distribution this year.
If, as most experts believe, an effective vaccine won’t be ready until well into 2021, we’ll all be co-existing with the coronavirus for the next year or longer without a magic bullet. And this next phase of the
In their view, success isn’t defined as returning to life as it was in 2019. Rather, it’s about buying time and summoning the staying power and policy flexibility to limit the destructive capacity of an expanding pandemic, which may result in global deaths of more than one million according to one estimate, until there are medical tools to effectively treat and immunize against the virus. “People
Complicating matters, the perceived threat varies from neighborhood to neighborhood, let alone country to country. Much depends on the severity of local outbreaks and the effectiveness of testing, contact tracing, social distancing, hospital systems and public-health messaging that is free of political shading. Leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson or B
Not all the news is grim. In the first half of the year, governments worldwide resorted to emergency measures like forced business closures, stay-at-home rules and bans on large gatherings. The moves slowed infection, saved lives and gave leaders time to stockpile medical equipment and supplies. Yet that progress came at the cost of economic contraction, soaring unemployment and trillions of doll
Instead, the biggest economies seem intent on reopening, even if the pace varies. That, in turn, means more social mobility and more opportunities for the virus to spread. Already, scientists who track virus trends are seeing signs that re-opening is leading to a spike in cases. “I understand there is a perception of the need to balance on these economic considerations,” said Ada Adimora, an epidemic.
President Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in athat Mr. Trump pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping in trade negotiations to agree to purchase American agricultural products in order to boost Mr. Trump’s political standing with U.S. farmers and help him win reelection.
In an excerpt of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” published by The Wall Street Journal, Bolton condemns what he calls the “incoherence” of the president’s trade policy and his focus on winning a second term. The excerpt was published minutes after stories about the memoir’s contents appeared in The New York Times and Washington Post, both of which said they had obtained copies of the book ahead of its scheduled June 23 release.
The longtime conservative foreign policy hawk describes a meeting with Xi and Mr. Trump on June 29, 2019, in Osaka, Japan. Bolton says Xi told Mr. Trump “that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new cold war with China.”Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox
“Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the U.S. side of the table, I don’t know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats,” Bolton writes.
“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” Bolton continues.
Bolton writes that he was prevented from reprinting Mr. Trump’s exact language due to the administration’s review of the book, meant to ensure that no classified information was included.
“I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise,” Bolton writes. The Justice Department on Tuesdayagainst Bolton, who resigned as national security adviser in December 2019, arguing the book contained classified material and should not be published.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to halt the publication of the book. “Disclosure of the manuscript will damage the national security of the United States,” the DOJ said in the application.
The memoir’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, a division of ViacomCBS, said in a statement that the filing “is a frivolous, politically motivated exercise in futility. Hundreds of thousands of copies of (the book) have already been distributed around the country and the world. The injunction as requested by the government would accomplish nothing.”
The book includes assertions that Mr. Trump thought Finland was part of Russia and didn’t know the United Kingdom is a nuclear power. Bolton also claims the president called journalists “scumbags” who should be “executed.”
The president took to Twitter early Thursday, calling Bolton “incompetent.” He said, “Wacko John Bolton’s “exceedingly tedious”(New York Times) book is made up of lies & fake stories. Said all good about me, in print, until the day I fired him. A disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war. Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!”
Wednesday night, Mr. Trump said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” that releasing the book means Bolton broke the law. “Very simple. I mean, as much as it’s going to be broken. It’s highly classified information, and he did not have approval,” Mr. Trump said.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday evening, the president called Bolton “a liar” and said “everybody in the White House hated” Bolton. He also denied Bolton’s claim that, as the Journal puts it, he “gave his blessing” to Xi to build detention camps for China’s Uighur Muslims. The Journal says a Bolton spokeswoman declined to comment.
According to the excerpt in the Journal, Bolton says in the book that “Trump’s conversations with Xi reflected not only the incoherence in his trade policy but also the confluence in Trump’s mind of his own political interests and U.S. national interests.”
“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” Bolton writes.
However, he also condemns House Democrats for their handling of the impeachment inquiry late last year, accusing them of being too narrowly focused on Mr. Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian president. Mr. Trump was impeached on counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in December, although he was acquitted of both in February.
“Had Democratic impeachment advocates not been so obsessed with their Ukraine blitzkrieg in 2019, had they taken the time to inquire more systematically about Trump’s behavior across his entire foreign policy, the impeachment outcome might well have been different,” Bolton writes. Democrats argued that Mr. Trump abused his power by asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son.
Bolton refused to testify as part of the House inquiry, and was not called to testify at the subsequent impeachment trial. Democrats have accused him of cynically withholding pertinent knowledge of the president’s actions to boost his book sales.
“I have seen the reports that John Bolton is claiming the House should have impeached Trump for other matters. Well, thank you John Bolton for being the firefighter that shows up to the building that’s already burned with the fire hose and saying, ‘I’m here to help,'” Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
The White House disseminated talking points to allies Wednesday that emphasized they believe Bolton is breaking the law and just trying to make money, but did not refute any specific claims of presidential behavior as have been reported.
America’s sin debt for slavery was paid for long ago.
“Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”
Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural, March 4, 1865
Delivered a scant forty-one days before Lincoln gave, as he himself put it in his address at Gettysburg, the “last full measure of devotion,” our sixteenth president’s language sings, it soars; it is high poetry. Somebody called Lincoln “that sad poet of a president,” words which capture pretty completely what in essence this great man was. The only other American public figure who has even arguably come close to wielding the English language so profoundly and effectively is Martin Luther King. And it is no coincidence that both men were animated by the same cause, in different iterations.
It was in his Second Inaugural that Lincoln spoke, not just as a skilled political actor, or a poet, but, in a sense, as a prophet. He seemed to have had a unique insight into the heart of the tragedy that was the American Civil War.
I’d been thinking about his ‘wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil’ observation, and wondering how close to the truth Lincoln had struck. It turns out, in fact, that he had struck very close to the truth.
The common accepted death toll for the American Civil war is 618,000. That figure was recently reliably revised upward to 750,000 . At any rate, I decided to compare that number with the total number of Africans imported as slaves to the continental US throughout her colonial and national history. I was wondering, frankly, whether the life of at least one American taken during the Civil War, of which its proximate cause was the existence and spread of slavery, was balanced out for every African brought here.
American historian Henry Louis Gates says the following:
“Between 1525 and 1866, in the entire history of the slave trade to the New World, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the New World. 10.7 million survived the dreaded Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. And how many of these 10.7l milion Africans were shipped directly to North America? Only about 388,000. That’s right: a tiny percentage.”
So, given the death rate of 14.4% of those who did not survive the Middle Passage, that raises the number of slaves destined for American ports to 443,000.
Now I have a rather grim question for you — is the death of 750,000 Americans, and the maiming of thousands more, as a direct consequence to the presence of slavery in this country, an approximately fair price to pay for the forced importation of 443,000 Africans to America, for two hundred fifty years of unrequited toil, plus another ninety or so years of Jim Crow laws?
Well, this is an issue only God can fairly adjudicate. But it puts things in an entirely new and interesting perspective- for me, at least.
You may be surprised, given recent events, that the condition of black Americans has actually been improving over the last decades. Here’s Kyle Smith writing recently in the New York Post:
“The Economic Policy Institute found that the difference in high school graduation rates between whites and blacks fell from 27 percent in 1962 to 5 percent in 2004. Last fall, the rate of black and Hispanic unemployment hit an all-time low. Since 1980, the percentage of black adults with college degrees has tripled. Life expectancy of white Americans exceeded that of black Americans by more than seven years as of 1970; that gap has been cut in half, to three and a half years. The percentage of black Americans earning more than $75,000 more than doubled (adjusting for inflation) between 1970 and 2014, according to Harvard professor William Julius Wilson, who studies upward mobility among black Americans.”
So what’s the problem, one might ask? With all this wonderful progress, why all this recent brouhaha? The answer can be distilled to a couple major factors: 1) the creation of a permanent black underclass thanks to the unintended consequences of civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s which have given economic incentives for fatherless households in the black community, and 2) the steadily advancing agenda of cultural Marxism, which has led to the tsunami of political correctness and the instant shaming and expulsion of liberals and conservatives of principle from positions of power and influence. Throw in the convulsive collective deliverance from three months of, as it turned out, mostly unnecessary lockdown, and you have a perfect blueprint for bad behavior.
Not all of this is bad, of course. Police tactics can always stand scrutiny, since they’re the only ones in a civilization entrusted with the threat of and the use of force to apply local laws effectively. Individuals who have an irrational distaste for people having a different paint job than they do need to do some serious self-reflection.
Is life more difficult for a black man? Well, yes, it is. Much of this is cultural, however, and not racial. It follows from the fact that 40% of violent crimes are committed by 6% of the population, i.e., black males. If that’s “institutional racism” in the view of a lot of rather shallow thinkers, then march until your shoes wear out; it won’t change until crime stats change. And crime stats won’t change until a revolution takes place in the black underclass.
The first rumblings of that revolution are happening even as we speak; there is very slow tectonic shift taking place in the African-American community as black Americans, by ones and twos, by dozens and hundreds, are slowly waking up to the fact that they’ve been had by the Democrats. That they’ve always been had by the Democrats, who were the fiercest opponents to emancipation, the staunchest supporters of Jim Crow, and the steely backbone of the KKK.
Democrats are scared stiff that they’ll lose their African-American constituents. They should be. If they don’t take their party back from the extreme Left and get their act together vis a vis their historic mistreatment of their most loyal demographic, they’ll be shunted off to the sidelines as a semi-permanent minority party. And that’s bad for the republic. One-party rule always is.
As businesses reopen across the U.S. after coronavirus shutdowns, many are requiring customers and workers to sign forms saying they won’t sue if they catch COVID-19.
Businesses fear they could be the target of litigation even if they adhere to safety precautions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials. But workers’ rights groups say the forms force employees to sign away their rights should they get sick.
The liability waivers, similar to what President Donald Trump’s campaign is requiring for people to attend a Saturday rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would protect businesses in states that don’t have liability limits or immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
So far, at least six states — Utah, North Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Alabama — have such limits through legislation or executive orders, and others are considering them. Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are lobbying for national liability protections.
The novel coronavirus has sickened more than 2 million people in the U.S. and killed more than 115,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
At Salon Medusa in West Hartford, Connecticut, hair stylist Lena Whelan says they’re using only two of six styling stations since reopening June 1. Customers have to wait outside, they have to wear masks, and all stations and tools are disinfected between clients.
Despite all those safety measures, customers must sign a form saying they won’t sue if they get infected with the novel coronavirus. The form, which also asks patrons if they or any family members have virus symptoms, gives the salon extra legal protection, Whelan said.
Critics argue that liability waivers open the door for corporations to skirt protocols like erecting Plexiglas barriers, providing face masks and other protective equipment, and keeping people the proper distance apart without suffering any repercussions.
The waivers are particularly onerous for workers who may feel compelled to sign them in order to keep their jobs, unlike customers who at least have a choice to walk away.
“It’s a terrible choice for an employee,” said Hugh Baran, an attorney with the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. “Do you sign this and potentially give up your legal recourse or do you refuse and feel like you are going to lose your job?”
Worse yet, in many states, if workers refuse to sign the waivers and return to work, they risk losing unemployment benefits, Baran said. Also, immunity legislation and liability waivers disproportionately affect black and Latino workers, many of whom have jobs that can’t be done remotely, he said.
Lawyers say many business clients are asking about the waivers. Whether they can be enforced varies by state and is open to debate. Owners are wise to take a “better safe than sorry” approach, said John Wolohan, a sports law professor at Syracuse University.
“It’s hard for me to believe people don’t understand the danger of going out in public and interacting. But when somebody gets sick, I’m sure they’re going to claim the business didn’t protect them the way they should have. By having a waiver, the business will better withstand the lawsuit,” Wolohan said.
In 45 states and the District of Columbia, courts will generally enforce voluntary waivers, according to “Law for Recreation and Sport Managers,” a book Wolohan co-wrote with Doyice Cotten. Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Virginia and Wisconsin offer consumers the best chance to challenge liability waivers.
But Baran says a lot depends on how state contract laws have been interpreted by the courts. Many states, he said, have laws on the books saying that businesses have a general duty to maintain healthy and safe working conditions. In some instances, however, courts have determined that employees can sign away those rights, he said.
“This is a new situation,” Baran said of the liability forms related to the coronavirus. “It’s hard to know how state courts would view such waivers.”
Data on just how many businesses require liability waivers of employees or customers is difficult to find. Lawyers say the forms are showing up at small businesses such as hair salons and gyms where it’s hard to maintain social distancing. But it’s also showing up at the New York Stock Exchange, where Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner with Meridian Equity Partners Inc., said Monday he was required to sign a waiver in order to enter the trading floor.
Cheryl Falvey, a partner at the Crowell and Moring law firm in Washington, D.C., and a former top lawyer at the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, said she does not think most employers would try to get their workforce to sign them.
Falvey also noted there are circumstances that waivers would not cover, including if someone who signs a waiver gets infected and then spreads the disease to family members or neighbors.
“I don’t think these waivers would cover that,” Falvey said. The wife of someone infected might argue, “I didn’t sign that waiver. You let him in and you didn’t protect him,” she said.
Harold Kim, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, said federal legislation would be better for businesses rather than a patchwork of conflicting state laws. The legislation sought by the chamber would be temporary and grant protections only if businesses followed CDC and state guidelines on the virus, he said. It would not give businesses immunity if they were grossly negligent.
“You don’t get those protections if you don’t follow that guidance,” he said.
Employees who get sick on the job might not be able to sue their employers, but would have access to workers’ compensation to cover lost wages and medical care, legal experts said. Proposed federal legislation wouldn’t affect workers’ compensation programs, which most states have, Kim said.
Through Monday, there were 2,741 lawsuits filed in the U.S. over COVID-19 infections, according to a complaint tracker maintained by the Hunton Andrews Kurth law firm. Many of the cases were over government shutdown orders and which businesses were deemed essential. Only seven came from consumers and 49 were filed by employees over exposure to the virus or other related injuries. Kim said federal legislation would prevent a big surge in litigation.
NEW YORK – Walmart is testing a store that will only offer self-checkout.
The retailer is removing cashiers and standard conveyor belt lines at one of its popular superstores in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Workers will still be available to help customers who have trouble doing the checkout themselves.
Depending on the success of the test run, Walmart could expand the program to more stores.
The retailer recently launched a touch-free payment system also aimed at helping mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Health officials ordered the closure of a Walmart in suburban Denver in April after three people connected to the store died after being infected with the coronavirus and at least six employees tested positive.