Cynicism, another virus

We can, like you and me, want to kill this damn crowned virus that eats our lives and grieve all of the thousands of deaths it does on its way, without refraining from recalling – and think about it further since, our race stopped, the lack of time can no longer be an excuse – that there are other invisible viruses, of another nature but no less deleterious, we dare to admit, which for more for a long time circulate in our countries: cynicism, indifference and cowardice. What else would be responsible, for example, for the 370,000 dead from Syria and the 36,000 dead from migrants in the Mediterranean? What barriers to counter the contagion of these viruses? What emergency decreed for our moral health?

The point is, if we didn’t spark Covid-19, we’re the ones secreting the viruses I’m talking about. Are the deaths, violence, unrest and incurable suffering that political cynicism generates less likely to cause our fear and a collective outburst? Let us take again as an example, the closest and most recent disaster that these moral vices have caused. It has the name Lesbos. Evil is described as follows: in January 2020, 20,000 migrants in the Moria camp designed for 3,000, a tap for 1,300 people, no soap, sexual violence, almost daily crimes, children left to fend for themselves, stacking of garbage, NGOs tracked by far-right militias, etc. On March 16, a 6-year-old girl died there in a container fire. The death of this little girl and that of the dead kid drowned because the smugglers capsize boats on the approach to the island did not make a lot of noise here.

Too bad if it is not politically correct, too bad if I am accused of a naive humanist, I say that these two deaths are more unbearable to me than the one, which saddens me, yes, of course, victim of Covid-19. Because these deaths were more preventable. Does it take billions of euros for the Moria camp to disappear? Marie Cosnay, writer of heart and courage, went to Lesbos, she said in this newspaper what it was: “Waste, body, olive tree”. And she talked about “This scandal we are living in and which is not named”. This is the opportunity here to name it: cowardice.

Jean-Pierre SIMEON


P&R: Investor lawyers attack auditors

P&R headquarters in Grünwald

According to insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé from Munich, P&R has sold more containers to investors since 2007 than the group actually bought.

(Photo: Thorsten Jochim for Handelsblatt)

Dusseldorf Investor lawyers attack the auditor in search of culprits for the P&R group from Grünwald’s bankruptcy. Regensburg Werner Wagner-Gruber has been checking the balance sheets of container sales since 2006. Now he should pay damages because he did not give sufficient warning about the impending catastrophe, the lawyers demand.

In their lawsuits, they argue that the auditor should have recognized P&R’s fatal course earlier and made it public through refused attestations.

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Nursing homes face unique challenges with Coronavirus – NBC Los Angeles

From Miami to Seattle, nursing homes and other facilities for the elderly host stocks of masks and thermometers, preparing staff shortages and checking visitors to protect a particularly vulnerable population from the coronavirus.

In China, where the epidemic started, the disease was basically deadly for the elderly. In Italy, the epicenter of the virus epidemic in Europe, the more than 100 people who died were elderly, suffering from other complications or both.

Of the 19 deaths in the United States since Saturday, at least 14 had been linked to a nursing home in the Seattle area, along with many other infections among residents, staff and family members. The Seattle Times reported that a second nursing home and a retired community in the area had reported a virus case.

This has alerted other structures in the United States, especially in states with large populations of older residents, such as Florida and California. About 2.5 million people live in long-term care facilities in the United States.

“For people over the age of 80 … the death rate could reach 15%,” said Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association nursing homes group.

The federal government is now focusing all inspections of nursing homes on infection control, identifying facilities in the city with confirmed cases and those previously mentioned for not following the protocol.

Federal regulations already require homes to have a specialist in preventing infections in staff, and many have already taken measures to deal with seasonal flow and other ailments that pose a greater risk to the elderly.

Even so, the response of structures to coronavirus has varied across the country.

In Florida, where some 160,000 seniors live in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, mandatory screening for visitors is not expected “because we are not at that point,” said Florida Health Care Association spokeswoman Kristen Knapp.

But aged care centers are posting signs that urge visitors to stay away if they have symptoms and are looking for alternative ways to connect to families, such as through video chats, Knapp said.

Concierges in the 14 Florida nursing homes managed by Palm Gardens Corporation are now offering all visitors a short questionnaire asking for information on symptoms, recent trips and contacts with others, said company vice president Luke Neumann.

Neumann said that nursing homes have also purchased additional thermometers in case they have to check visitors’ temperatures and accumulate preventive supplies, including medical masks, protective goggles and clothing. In laundries they make sure to use enough bleach and heat to kill any persistent viral germs, he said.

In the South Shore Rehabilitation and Skilled Care Center south of Boston, patient Leo Marchand holds a container of disinfectant wipes on a shelf near the bed that he uses several times a day. The 71-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired truck driver has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which makes it difficult to breathe. The possibility of contracting the coronavirus scares him.

“It’s a concern,” said Marchand. “Really.”

Many facilities across the country have said they have trouble getting masks and medical clothes because of the shortage.

The more intense screening of visitors, meanwhile, isn’t going well with some.

“Some of the visitors have been quite reluctant to comply, and this has been stressful,” said Janet Snipes, executive director of Denver’s Holly Heights nursing center.

Under federal regulations, nursing homes are considered to be a patient’s residence and facilities want to keep them in contact with the family, especially when they are almost dead.

“I don’t think you can completely prevent visitors,” said Dr. David A. Nace, director of long-term care and flu programs at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine. Supervise 300 facilities in Pennsylvania.

For now, facilities in most states are underlining basic precautions, including hand washing and the cough tag.

Centers across the country are also trying to prepare staff for the worst.

An adult daycare center in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami purchased long-lasting ready meals in preparation for possible shortages. The Hebrew Home in Riverdale, New York is running nursing staff through exercises to see how they will handle situations in the 750-bed facility if the virus progresses. Their IT department is building an infrastructure to allow staff to work remotely if they get sick.

“If one of our sites has an outbreak, we will quickly run out of staff in that position,” said Randy Bury, CEO of The Good Samaritan Society, one of the largest nonprofit senior care providers in the country, with 19,000 employees in 24 states.

Some families are considering withdrawing loved ones from the facilities.

Kathleen Churchyard said her family decided to move her 80-year-old mother out of her retirement community near Jacksonville, Florida, and to her sister’s home nearby if the virus is confirmed in the area.

Churchyard, who lives in Concord, North Carolina, fears that her mother won’t take her seriously, and is particularly concerned about her dining room.

“I tried to get her to buy things to prepare … She said, ‘No. If (the virus) catches me, it takes it,'” said Churchyard.


Associate associate writer Philip Marcelo in Rockland, Massachusetts contributed to this report.


The Associated Press receives support for health and scientific coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


Logistics in crisis: Corona virus affects the transport routes

Dusseldorf The shipping companies operating worldwide are running out of containers because of the corona epidemic. Because 77 scheduled trips from Asia to Europe and North America failed due to the viral disease by the beginning of this week, the steel boxes are currently stacking in China’s ports.

In Ningbo, the port of Shanghai alone, the container inventory is currently 47 percent above the previous year’s value, the Hamburg data platform “Container xChange” determined. In contrast, the number of available containers in its own Hanseatic city had shrunk by 33 percent, and even more in US ports such as Los Angeles. There are currently even shifts due to the underemployment of dock workers.

“In the coming weeks, it could be about that,” advises the consulting firm Sea-Intelligence regarding the missing empty containers, “whether the shippers are still able to move their goods – regardless of the price.”

The supply chain between Asia and Europe threatens to break at several points. A bottleneck is waiting for fashion for the spring collection, urgently needed delivery parts for the automotive industry and mass consumer goods made in China, which Germany will soon also feel.

Even certain electronic products could soon be missing on the shelves. A not a small part of it reaches German territory via the railroad – better said: came. Because of the epidemic at the beginning of the year, those responsible cut off the main production site in Wuhan from the “Iron Silk Road”.

Duisport expects sales and profits to decline

“We cannot yet quantify how big the decline in containers in rail transport will be,” explains a spokeswoman for the Duisport final stop. “However, we expect sales and earnings to decline.” After all, all other train connections have so far been intact despite the Chinese virus infection.

In addition, the corona virus misses a confusing non-simultaneity of the international supply chain. While China is again strongly increasing production these days, Germany’s overseas ports are preparing for a slump in the coming weeks.

“So far, we have hardly noticed the effects of lung disease in day-to-day business,” says the port operator Eurogate, who handles ships in Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven. The situation is similar with the Hamburg competitor HHLA to be heard, who operates three of the four overseas terminals in the Hanseatic city. “The fact that in the past few days the full export containers were stacked at the edge of the harbor,” says a spokesman, “was not due to the corona virus, but rather to several storm lows above the North Sea.” As was often the case during the spring storms, many ships simply came to it late.

With business as usual, it could be over in a few days. So far, Northern Europe’s ports have benefited from container freighters from East Asia being at sea for four to six weeks before they reach their destination. What is currently being deleted in Hamburg, Bremerhaven or Wilhelmshaven mostly went on the trip during the two-week New Year celebrations in China. Since the Middle Kingdom usually hardly produced anything during this period, the port operators were prepared for the doldrums of the past few days – as every year.

“This year, however, China has actually extended the New Year celebrations by three weeks because of the corona virus,” warns Martin Holst-Mikkelsen, ocean freight manager at the digitally brokered US forwarding company Flexport. In addition, the production only started slowly afterwards.

The experts from Flexport therefore expect a significantly reduced availability of sea freight containers in Europe in March and April. “In all likelihood, the situation will only normalize again at the end of April,” believes Holst-Mikkelsen.

Hoping for a catch-up effect

The low tide could even be followed by a storm surge, as the Hamburg port operator HHLA thinks. “In the second quarter of 2020 there may be a significant catch-up effect,” said a spokesman there – with significantly more freight volume than in normal years.
The chances that this will happen are good at the moment. China’s statistics agency reports that 90.8 percent of the country’s medium-sized to large companies have resumed work – after the rate on February 25 was still 85.6 percent. Bloomberg Economics estimates that production utilization in China has returned to 60 to 70 percent since last week.

Domestic traffic is also picking up again after the drastic quarantine measures in China. Of the 21,000 truck drivers who supply the port of Shanghai, 10,000 are currently on duty. The week before, there were only 7,000. “We expect,” says the international online freight exchange Flexport, “that China will ramp up its truck capacity to 80 percent of the pre-crisis level in the next two weeks.”

And seafaring, which until recently saw every tenth overseas freighter unemployed, is awakened from its shock. If there were 20 east-west connections in the previous weeks, the number of so-called “blank sailings” shrank to seven in the past week.

But: The expected delivery bottlenecks in the coming weeks will hardly eliminate this. “Anyone expecting spare parts or urgently needed replenishments in a hurry will have to switch to air freight in the next few weeks,” predicts Flexport air freight expert David Wystrach. In particular, fashion goods for spring and supply parts for the automotive industry, if they were shipped by sea container, would only arrive in stores and production halls with a noticeable delay.

The suppliers face high additional costs. Air freight is not only considerably more expensive than transport by sea, but is currently also scarcer than usual. Around 40 percent of the passenger aircraft that usually carry part of the cargo in the fuselage have been canceled due to the corona crisis. The run on pure cargo planes should therefore intensify. “This means that air freight becomes a bottleneck in terms of supply,” says Flexport Germany boss Janis Bargsten.

Travel bans exacerbate the situation

At the same time, there are threats of further outages at sea that could cause additional damage to the supply chain. The reason: The debt situation of the 14 largest container shipping companies worldwide, warns the consulting firm Alix Partners, is as depressing as it has been in ten years. What the consultants determined according to a proven rating formula, the so-called “Altman’s Z Score”, they rate as alarming. In its “2020 Global Shipping Report”, the restructuring company Alix Partners no longer rules out even a mega bankruptcy, such as that which the South Korean shipping company Hanjin put down four years ago. At that time, 400,000 containers only reached their addressee with a delay of weeks.

A number of smaller shipping companies that operate in intra-Asian traffic are already offering a foretaste. Since many of them generate a large part of their business with China, their cash flow has dried up since the beginning of the year. Some have already been forced to sell their own ships – including the South Korean shipping company SM Line, which separated from three freighters for $ 60 million.

The situation is being tightened by travel bans that 85 percent of German companies have issued for the Asia region. “Individual companies said,” says the Federal Association of Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME), “they could not send personnel for release inspections.” Deliveries to Europe further delay this.

In view of the procurement problems, companies are therefore trying to develop alternative sources of supply in other parts of the world these days. The stocks have now reached a “critical point”, explains Riccardo Kurto, China representative at BME, A few companies now ordered missing production material from suppliers outside of China – some of them from Europe.

Individual cases will remain. “Many German manufacturers have invested time and money in Chinese suppliers in recent years to get the quality they want,” says the BME expert. “Most don’t want to jeopardize relationships that have grown up.”

The procurement association BME is certain that the corona virus will nevertheless change procurement thoroughly. “In any case, this situation will lead to it,” it says there, “that companies will subject both their supplier dependency and inventory management to a fundamental analysis for the future.

Larger camps to prepare for future crises will hardly ever exist. “Nobody is currently thinking about the end of just in time,” reports Kurto.

More: Interview with IMF President – Gabriel Felbermayr warns of the consequences of the corona virus for the global economy


Schöneck in the Vogtland becomes a stylish winter sports resort

Min the dark come curious glances. Then they see, thickly packed people behind their ski goggles, down from the chairlift directly into the illuminated window front and watch the residents as they sit at the table and talk, eat, read, write. The residents pretend they don’t notice, as if they don’t deserve attention. You just sit there, in your sea container, on the edge of a ski slope in Schöneck, the back corner of the Vogtland region, where the Czech Republic, Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony meet. They also swung down the slope past their domicile, normal holiday guests in an average family ski area. But what is normal?

“You are unique. It is your vacation too ”, Jan Hesse, the man behind the sea containers, advertises his idea. Messy dark hair, beard and functional clothing, the mid-forties also wears mountain boots for appointments in the town hall. Hesse, a father of two and a local, worked on his sea container project for almost ten years. The trigger was a report in an architecture magazine, in which containers that had been converted into mini-houses were presented, he says. Hesse begins to draw, first at random, then more structured. The neighbor, an architect, helps. “I wanted a concept that enables minimalist living with the maximum possible experience of nature,” says Hesse. Like a mountain hut – with smart technology and well-designed interior.

The fact that such an idea can become reality in the remoteness of the hinterland is quite a bit on the spot itself: the people in Schöneck, 3,500 in number, are used to a lot and, despite all suspicion of new things, they are somehow proud of their attitude towards life and Stand out from the environment. While sadness dominates the streets in other peripheral places, there is hardly any vacancy in Schöneck. The public journey is tedious and yet the train serves two stops in the village. Two supermarkets and a handful of bakers guarantee local supplies, a hospital and a secondary school complement the infrastructure. There is full employment in Schöneck.

A visionary software entrepreneur

The youth hostel officially opened at the end of February, a bold new building designed by Dresden architects: several houses built entirely in black, dominated by a play of colors of black and yellow on the inside. Here, too, large window fronts offer a view of the surrounding mountains – Schöneck rightly calls itself the “Balcony of the Vogtland”, the place forms the end of the range of hills. You have to like the dominant choice of colors in the conference rooms, for example – ceiling, walls, floor, all in yellow and all day.