Uprisings After Pandemics: It Happened Before and May Happen Again

Uprisings After Pandemics: It Happened Before and May Happen Again

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As a professor of medieval Europe, I’ve taught the bubonic plague, and how it contributed to the English Peasant Revolt of 1381. Now that America is experiencing widespread unrest in the midst of its own pandemic, I see some interesting similarities to the 14th-century uprising.

The death of George Floyd has sparked protests fueled by a combination of brutal policing, a pandemic that has led to the loss of millions of jobs and centuries of racial discrimination and economic inequality.

“Where people are broke, and there doesn’t appear to be any assistance, there’s no leadership, there’s no clarity about what is going to happen, this creates the conditions for anger, rage, desperation and hopelessness,” African American studies scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor told The New York Times .

Medieval England may seem far removed from modern America. And sure, American workers aren’t tied to employers by feudal bonds, which meant that peasants were forced to work for their landowners. Yet the Peasant Revolt was also a reaction brought on by centuries of oppression of society’s lowest tiers.

And like today , the majority of wealth was held by an elite class that comprised about 1% of the population . When a deadly disease started to spread, the most vulnerable and powerless were asked to pick up the most slack, while continuing to face economic hardship. The country’s leaders refused to listen.

Eventually, the peasants decided to fight back.

In this 1470 illustration, the radical priest John Ball galvanizes the rebels. The British Library

Clamoring for higher wages

Surviving letters and treatises express feelings of fear, grief and loss; the death tolls from the 14th-century plague were catastrophic, and it’s estimated that between one-third to one-half of the European population died during the its first outbreak.

The massive loss of life created an immense labor shortage. Records from England describe untilled fields, vacant villages and untended livestock roaming an empty countryside.

The English laborers who survived understood their newfound value and began to press for higher wages. Some peasants even began to seek more lucrative employment by leaving feudal tenancy, meaning the peasants felt free to leave the employment of their landowning overlords.

Rather than accede to the demands, King Edward III did just the opposite: In 1349, he froze wages at pre-plague levels and imprisoned any reaper, mower or other workman in service to an estate who left his employment without cause. These ordinances ensured that elite landowners would retain their wealth.

Edward III enacted successive laws intended to ensure laborers wouldn’t increase their earning power. As England weathered subsequent outbreaks of the plague, and as labor shortages continued, workers started to clamor for change.

Richard II meeting with the rebels of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. Public domain

Enough is enough

The nominal reason for the Peasant Revolt was the announcement of a third poll tax in 15 years . Because poll taxes are a flat tax levied on every individual, they affect the poor far more than the wealthy. But similar to the protests that have erupted in the wake of Floyd’s death, the Peasant Revolt was really the result of dashed expectations and class tensions that had been simmering for more than 30 years.

Things finally came to a head in June 1381, when, by medieval estimates, 30,000 rural laborers stormed into London demanding to see the king . The cohort was led by a former yeoman soldier named Wat Tyler and an itinerant, radical preacher named John Ball .

Ball was sympathetic to the Lollards , a Christian sect deemed heretical by Rome. The Lollards believed in the dissolution of the sacraments and for the Bible to be translated into English from Latin, which would make the sacred text equally accessible to everyone, diminishing the interpretive role of the clergy. Ball wanted to take things even further and apply the ideas of the Lollards to all of English society. In short, Ball called for a complete overturn of the class system. He preached that since all of humanity constituted the children of Adam and Eve , the nobility could not prove they were of higher status than the peasants who worked for them.

With the help of sympathetic laborers in London, the peasants gained entry to the city and attacked and set fire to the Palace of Savoy , which belonged to the Duke of Lancaster. Next they stormed the Tower of London, where they killed several prominent clerics, including the archbishop of Canterbury .

A bait and switch

To quell the violence, Edward’s successor, the 14-year-old Richard II , met the irate peasants just outside of London. He presented them a sealed charter declaring that all men and their heirs would be “of free condition,” which meant that the feudal bonds that held them in service to landowners would be lifted.

Richard II exerts control over the rebel mob during the Peasants' Revolt. Public domain

While the rebels were initially satisfied with this charter, things didn’t end well for them. When the group met with Richard the next day, whether by mistake or intent, Wat Tyler was killed by one of Richard’s men, John Standish. The rest of the peasants dispersed or fled, depending on the report of the medieval chronicler.

For the authorities, this was their chance to pounce. They sent judges into the countryside of Kent to find, punish and, in some cases, execute those who were found guilty of leading the uprising. They apprehended John Ball and he was drawn and quartered . On Sept. 29, 1381, Richard II and Parliament declared the charter freeing the peasants of their feudal tenancy null and void . The vast wealth gap between the lowest and highest tiers of society remained.

American low-wage laborers obviously have rights and freedoms that medieval peasants lacked. However, these workers are often tied to their jobs because they cannot afford even a brief loss of income .

The meager benefits some essential workers gained during the pandemic are already being stripped away. Amazon recently ended the additional US$2 per hour in hazard pay it had been paying workers and announced plans to fire workers who don’t return to work for fear of contracting COVID-19. Meanwhile, between mid-March and mid-May, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos added $34.6 billion dollars to his wealth.

It appears that the economic disparities of 21st-century capitalism – where the richest 1% now own more than half of the world’s wealth – are beginning to resemble those of 14th-century Europe.

When income inequalities become so jarring, and when these inequalities are based in long-term oppression, perhaps the sort of unrest we’re seeing on the streets in 2020 is inevitable.

A deadly disease could travel at jet speed around the world. How do we stop it in time?

W alk past the endless rows of vegetables, past the dozens of stalls selling every possible part of a pig and, at the centre of Cao Lanh city's market, a woman is doing a brisk trade in selling rats for food. Two cages swarm with them on a table next to her. Live frogs are available too, and, on the floor near her stall is a box of sluggish snakes. Chickens and ducks cluck and quack nearby. A faint smell of urine thickens air that is already heavy from the previous night's rains.

Rats are a staple source of meat in Vietnam, farmed and sold much like any other livestock. The stallholder butchers the animals to order. Reaching into the cage she will grab an animal by its tail, hit its head across a large stone, chop off its feet and head with a large pair of scissors, skin it, cut it into pieces and place everything into a small yellow plastic bag. Inevitably, the animal's blood ends up on her hands.

Scores of people are selling and butchering live animals, breathing the same air and in constant contact with the animals' blood, urine and faeces. This woman, and many others like her who work in the farms and abattoirs deep in southern Vietnam's Mekong delta, are doing what they have done for generations. And now they are in the front line in a new scientific race to predict the next pandemic.

Rats for sale in the Cao Lanh Market. Photograph: Stephen Baker

Of the roughly 400 emerging infectious diseases that have been identified since 1940, more than 60% are zoonotic ie they came from animals. Throughout history this has been common. HIV originated in monkeys, ebola in bats, influenza in pigs and birds. The rate at which new pathogens are emerging is on the rise, even taking into account the increase in awareness and surveillance. Which pathogens will cross the species barrier next, and which one is the greatest potential public health concern, is a subject of intense interest. A modern outbreak, caused by a previously unknown virus, could travel at jet-speed around the world, spreading across the continents in just a few days, causing illness, panic and death.

Pathogens have transferred from animals to people for as long as we have had contact. The ancient domestication of livestock led to the emergence of measles, and further intensification of farming in recent decades has caused problems such as the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE. Expanding trade routes in the 14th century spread the rat-borne Black Death across Europe and smallpox to the Americas in the 16th century. Today's tightly connected world has seen the spread of swine flu, Sars, West Nile virus and H5N1 bird flu.

The biggest pandemic on record was the 1918 Spanish influenza, which killed 50 million people at a time when the fastest way to travel the globe was by ship. In 2009 swine flu was the most recent pandemic that got public health officials concerned first detected in April of that year in Mexico, it turned up in London within a week.

Group of H5N1 virus. Photograph: Alamy

One of the most worrying recent outbreaks for scientists was the re-emergence of the H5N1 bird flu virus in 2005. Jeremy Farrar, a professor of tropical medicine and global health at Oxford University and, until recently head of the university's clinical research unit in Vietnam, says he remembers the night a young girl came into the children's hospital in Ho Chi Minh City with a serious lung infection. Initially, he thought that it might have been Sars – a coronavirus that had first been identified in China in late 2002 and had spread rapidly to Canada among other places – making its comeback. That was until he heard the girl's story from a colleague.

"This is years ago and I remember the story as if it was yesterday," he says. "She had been playing with her duck, arguing with her brother. They had buried it when it died and she had dug it up later to re-bury it somewhere she wanted to bury it."

The duck was the crucial part of the evidence in determining that this was a new outbreak and Farrar says that for the next few hours, no one knew how bad it would get. Would the girl's family come in during the night with infections? Would the nurses and doctors be affected?

H5N1 did not become the next Sars and was contained, although 98 people were infected and 43 died in 2005. It has not gone away, says Farrar, and is still circulating in poultry and ducks in almost the whole of Asia, remaining a major concern for human cases, given how virulent it is when people get infected.

A successful zoonotic pathogen manages to jump from an animal to a person, invades their cells, replicates and then finds a way to transmit to other people. Working out which pathogens will make the leap – a process called "spillover" – is not easy. A pathogen from a primate, for example, is more likely to spill over to humans than a pathogen from a rat, which is more likely to do so than something from a bird. Frequency of contact is also important someone working on a live bird farm is more likely to be exposed to a multitude of animal viruses than someone living in a city who only sees a monkey in a zoo.

"The truth is, we really don't know how much of this happens," says Derek Smith, a professor of infectious disease informatics at the University of Cambridge. "Much more is noticed today than was noticed 50 years ago and was noticed 50 years before that. There are reasons to think this might be because we disrupt habitats and come into contact with animals we haven't been in contact with before. We have different things that we do socially, perhaps, than we did in the past. But we also look harder."

Viruses and other pathogens continually flow between species, often with no effects, sometimes mutating, once in a while causing illness. This mixing is known as "viral chatter" and the more different species come into regular close contact, the higher the chances of a spillover event occurring.

"This is how viruses have always worked, the big change is us," says Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. "The big change happened probably several thousands of years ago when we became a crowd species and that gave these viruses new opportunities which they hadn't had before in humans. Ever since then, from time to time a new virus has come along to take advantage of this new, very densely populated, crowded species – humans – that it can now spread between much more easily. That process is still happening the viruses are still discovering us. We like to think we discover viruses, but it's also the viruses discovering us."

Tracking what is moving between which species is the task of Stephen Baker's team, based at the Oxford University clinical research unit in Ho Chi Minh City. Baker is an infectious disease biologist who co-ordinates the Vizions project and I met him at his lab while I was making a Radio 4 documentary about the scientific hunt for the next big pandemic.

His sampling teams visit farms, markets and abattoirs across Vietnam to take regular blood from people at high risk of being subject to a spillover event. This high-risk cohort, which will eventually number 1,000 people, will be monitored every six months and, if they ever turn up sick at a hospital, Baker's team will get an alert. The sampling teams also take blood and faecal swabs from pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and rats and anything else living nearby.

Dead rats on sale in a Vietnamese market, where stallholders' hands can be covered in blood. Photograph: Nguyen Huy Kham /Reuters

During a trip to a smallholding near the Cao Lanh food market, Baker explains that it is at places like this, where people are in regular and close contact with animals, that scientists will be able to get their first hints of any spillovers that might become a bigger threat. The farm, which is typical of Vietnam and other parts of south-east Asia, has a range of animals – pigs, ducks and free-range chickens. They are in close exposure to each other and any farmworkers, too. The farms next door are only separated by lines of trees or small fences. As well as the farm animals, Baker's team also do their best to sample wild animals in the vicinity, including civets, rats and bats, that can easily transport pathogens across wide distances.

The other part of the Vizions project is to enrol around 10,000 people over the next three years from those who turn up to hospitals with infections of the central nervous system, respiratory system, lower gut or jaundice. By cataloguing the viruses in their blood and other bodily fluids, Baker wants to build up a database of the kinds of things circulating in different parts of the country.

If there is new influenza, or other zoonotic virus outbreak, Baker's samples will allow scientists to go back in time and investigate where it had been circulating before: "That will allow us to document, retrospectively, what animals that was circulating in and how many people were potentially exposed. We're on the front line of trying to understand how frequently these things may occur."

Another animal of interest to Baker, and many other groups around the world, is the bat. It has become clear in the past few decades that they are the source of some of the most feared human infections, including ebola, Marburg and all the rabies viruses. Bats are also the natural reservoirs for the coronaviruses (including Sars and the recent Mers virus) and newer viruses such as nipah and hendra. Sometimes these have transferred directly to people, and other times they have first crossed into domestic animals.

How do bats survive as reservoirs for all these viruses that are so deadly in other species? James Wood, head of the department of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge, says there is likely to be a variety of reasons, not least that bats have different or better-developed innate immune systems that allow them to cope with pathogens that kill other species. With colleagues in Ghana, he has been following populations of fruit bats, sometimes numbering in excess of 10 million individuals, that pass through Accra or Kasanka National Park in a remote part of Zambia.

Sampling on a farm on the outskirts of Cao Lanh City. Photograph: Stephen Baker

I"The particular viruses we're looking at in this species include a rabies-like virus and a henipavirus, a family of viruses in Australia and south-east Asia that have passed from bats to humans," says Wood. "The populations we study, we're repeatedly sampling from on a quarterly or two-monthly basis depending on the season the bats are there. We take blood samples and swabs and urine and faecal samples then release them."

Henipaviruses cause brain infections in people and can be deadly – around half of those infected die. These viruses have spread from bats to humans either directly, such as the 2004 outbreak of nipah in Bangladesh. Or it can spread via domestic animals in 2010, hendra spread via horses in Australia.

Wood and his colleagues have also been looking at what other environmental factors there might in working out why, in some situations, people get infected and in others they do not. "It may be that the local ecosystem services play a key role in determining risk," he says. "It may well be that, in some situations where there's really rich biodiversity, that can act as a sink for these different viruses, which makes them less likely to spread over into human populations. In other ecosystems that are perhaps more degraded, it may well be that there is more chance, because you have just single species living on their own, there's more chance of spillover happening from bats to humans or from bats to other animals."

Efforts around the world to collect and analyse blood from people and animals will give scientists and public health officials plenty of data to help track new infections. In the best case, having sequences of viruses on file, located to particular countries or even to particular regions within countries, will give vital information after a novel virus is spotted in a hospital. As well as medical and travel histories for a patient, clinicians will be able to match the virus to known viruses and will therefore be able to concentrate their efforts in containing it. They cannot, however, use this data to predict spillover events or, more crucially, when a virus might be dangerous enough to cause a pandemic.

"Not every virus that crosses over will make it [to an outbreak]," says Woolhouse. "Understanding the differences between those that do and those that don't is a major research question. That comes back to reading the [virus] genome – the information that you're going to have quickly that you didn't have a few years ago is the genome sequence.

"If you could read that and interpret it and say, "this one does look like it has the potential to infect and spread between humans" then we're much further ahead of the game than we were before."

Will the Protests Spark a Second COVID-19 Outbreak?

The word “unprecedented” has been used ad nauseam in recent months, but when public health authorities tried on Sunday to predict the potentially catastrophic effect of nationwide police brutality protests amid a deadly pandemic, it seemed hard to find a suitable alternative.

After months of diligent social distancing to curb COVID-19 transmission, Americans in major cities all over the country took to the streets in huge crowds this week to protest the death of George Floyd—and decades of other black deaths at the hands of police officers—after the 46-year-old was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer who shoved a knee into his neck while he was handcuffed, face-down on the pavement.

Public health experts and city leaders now fear new waves of COVID-19 outbreaks could worsen infection numbers and deepen racial disparities among those severely sickened by the virus.

Protesters, reporters, and police officers were injured in the swelling demonstrations that led to curfews in more than 25 major metropolitan cities from Colorado and Tennessee to Florida and Kentucky and Ohio. The national guard was deployed in Minnesota, Georgia, and the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged demonstrators in her city to seek COVID-19 tests after attending protests, especially considering the mounting evidence that the pandemic is “killing black and brown people at higher numbers.” Bottoms told CNN’s Jake Tapper, host of State of the Union , on Sunday morning that she is “extremely concerned” about COVID-19 spikes in the coming weeks.

“We are losing sight of so many things right now,” said Bottoms. “Losing sight of the fact that there has to be change in this country as it relates to race relations in this country. There has to be change in this country when it comes to leadership in this country. There has to be change as it relates to our health-care system and how our communities of color are receiving health care in this country. But right now, we’re talking about cars being burned and businesses being vandalized. And there’s still so many issues that are right before us that we’ve lost sight of.”

Though many states continued to phase out of stay-at-home orders this month, nearly a dozen last week were experiencing increases of daily case counts for the deadly virus, which had infected more than 1,773,020 Americans and killed more than 103,853 as of Sunday morning.

Minnesota’s health commissioner and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey have both warned that the protests will likely create a spike in infections, sandwiching one crisis on top of another. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday said he worried that protesters were not adequately socially distancing or wearing masks during demonstrations.

“I will continue to stress, because it seems like a lifetime ago: We are still in the middle of a pandemic and passed 1,000 deaths yesterday,” said Walz. “We still have hospitals on the verge of being overrun with COVID-19.”

Those concerns were echoed on Sunday by city leaders from Los Angeles to Baltimore, and public health experts agreed that very serious outbreaks could follow this week’s nationwide demonstrations.

“It’s pretty likely,” said Dr. Brittany Kmush, an assistant professor at Syracuse University who specializes in epidemiology, global health, and infectious diseases. But it’s “hard to predict” what areas might see the worst spikes in the next several weeks because there’s no historical precedent for mass civil unrest in the midst of a global pandemic. However, there are several factors that might help to prepare public health departments, Kmush told The Daily Beast.

Authorities should watch those areas with the longest lasting protests, said Kmush, in addition to those with the most participants, shouting or singing, physical contact, and travel.

“Whenever you have a big gathering of people, that’s the catalyst,” said Kmush. “If you have one person who is incubating or sick, they can spread it to quite a few other people.”

But protesters have said time and again in interviews that they understand the gamble they’re making.

“It’s not OK that in the middle of a pandemic we have to be out here risking our lives,” 25-year-old black woman Spence Ingram told the Associated Press on Friday in Atlanta.

Though Ingram has asthma and is worried about what may happen if she contracts the virus, she told the news site: “I have to protest for my life and fight for my life all the time.”

Kmush’s advice to those in the streets? Wear masks, maintain as much distance as possible, and think about who you might be exposing at home or at work.

“If you’re out protesting and normally take care of an elderly relative, try to get someone else to do that for a few weeks. Balance your risk with the risk of those people you come into contact with frequently,” she said.

How protesters travel to the events will be “important” in predicting outbreaks, said Lawrence Gostin, who directs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law. “If they’re stopping in restaurants, using public bathrooms, and taking public transportation, all of those things are helping the virus move from one place to another because humans are vectors,” he explained.

At the individual level, said Gostin, “If you insist on going, wear disposable gloves, wear a mask, and stay 6 to 10 feet away from any other protesters. When you leave, make sure you self-isolate and wash your hands thoroughly.” For public health authorities, Gostin said community-based random testing is the best way to create an early warning system for new outbreaks.

“We know this is likely to be an amplifying event, and if we don’t get a handle on it very quickly it could spread out of control,” he added. “We have to be careful that racial injustice isn’t compounded by health injustice.”

In another complication on Sunday, “safety worries” over the unrest in Los Angeles reportedly led to a citywide closure of COVID-19 testing centers. But despite the risks, even medical professionals have been willing to jump into the fray.

As a doctor dressed in scrubs and protesting at Barclays Center in Brooklyn told a reporter on Friday: “How can I save someone’s life if a police [officer] kneels on their neck?”

Dr. Bernard Ashby, a vascular cardiologist based in Miami Beach, Florida, said he attended a Miami protest on Saturday—where he was tear gassed by police—and planned to provide medical assistance to crowds on Sunday night.

Ashby said he “wasn’t worried” about the protests’ possibly spreading the virus, at least in Florida, because of the climate and the fact that the marches have been outdoors, saying that he would be more worried about folks who work in close proximity or attend crowded churches.

Ultimately, Ashby said, he’s been consumed with thoughts about what he called “failures” by the paramedics who responded to George Floyd on the day of his death.

First responders and ER staff said they worked for nearly an hour to try to revive Floyd and freed his hands after he was loaded into the ambulance. Hennepin Healthcare EMS Chief Marty Scheerer previously told The Star Tribune that the decision not to triage at the scene was based on their race against the clock.

But, to Ashby, that decision was based on “the same reason black people are dying from COVID-19.” He cited civilian footage showing a medical worker touching Floyd as the officer who killed him remained on top of his neck, before eventually flipping his unconscious body over and loading him onto a gurney.

“That video was a visual representation of the healthcare disparity,” said Ashby. “We dance around it all the time, and we don’t call it racism.”

“People are giving cops a lot of hell, and I think they need to give the healthcare establishment just as much hell,” said Ashby. “We need to have the same energy when we talk about the ‘disparities’ in healthcare. I would conjecture that more black and brown folks die from lack of access to the healthcare system than at the hands of the police.”

Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency physician at a hospital in West Michigan, said he felt it was his “duty” as a doctor and a father to attend a Black Lives Matter protest in Muskegon on Sunday when he finished his shift.

“Being black in America is a public health emergency,” Davidson told The Daily Beast. “When you look at the number of lives lost to structural racism in this country, it’s worse than anything that COVID-19 has done.”

“I’m finding it very difficult to know really what to do—or what anybody would recommend,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and an expert on U.S. readiness for pandemics. “It’s so important for people to acknowledge the long history of abuse and disparities that have been experienced by African Americans, and there’s no question that low income and minority populations are suffering—and will be suffering—the greatest impact of the virus.”

While Redlener told The Daily Beast on Sunday that he wasn’t aware of any documented studies showing what happens when tear gas is combined with the novel coronavirus, there’s evidence of at least short-term lung damage, which mixed with an upper-respiratory disease could be dangerous.

“People that are protesting are under a great deal of psychological stress, in far too close proximity to other people, and they are getting exposed to tear gas, which may put them at greater risk for severe infection if their lungs are damaged,” he said. (Kmush agreed with that assessment, saying: “I can see how a lung irritant and this virus at the same time would not be a good combination, but I don’t think we know yet how the two will interact.”)

But Redlener compared the decision to protest—at the intersection of these risk factors—to choosing to run back into a burning building to save a child.

“I’m not sure what the advice would be—that you have to ignore that? That we’re having a pandemic, so you don’t protest? You have this tinderbox that exploded with this killing,” he continued. “People put pandemic concerns to the side while they go to the streets and express anger, not just about Minneapolis, but about the past 400 years of being African American in America.”

“Do what you have to do, and we’ll deal with it afterwards,” said Redlener.

What Is Freddie Mac?

Freddie Mac is the unofficial name of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. It was established in 1970 under the Emergency Home Finance Act to expand the secondary mortgage market and reduce interest rate risk for banks. In 1989, it was reorganized and turned into a shareholder-owned company as part of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA).

Freddie Mac's charter is quite similar to Fannie Mae's in the sense that it expands the secondary market for mortgages and mortgage-backed securities by buying loans made by banks, savings and loans, and other lending institutions. However, unlike Fannie Mae, which buys mortgages from major retail and commercial banks, Freddie Mac buys its loans from smaller banks (i.e., "thrift" banks) that focus on providing banking services to communities.

3. The Boston Massacre (March 1770)

A print of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere, 1770.

Barney Burstein/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

Simmering tensions between the British occupiers and Boston residents boiled over one late afternoon, when a disagreement between an apprentice wigmaker and a British soldier led to a crowd of 200 colonists surrounding seven British troops. When the Americans began taunting the British and throwing things at them, the soldiers apparently lost their cool and began firing into the crowd.

As the smoke cleared, three men—including an African American sailor named Crispus Attucks—were dead, and two others were mortally wounded. The massacre became a useful propaganda tool for the colonists, especially after Paul Revere distributed an engraving that misleadingly depicted the British as the aggressors.

After The Pandemic

It may seem difficult to imagine now, but the coronavirus lockdown will end. One day, when the numbers tell us it’s safe, we will leave our masks at home and return to the streets, revive the economy and re-establish our routines. All of them?

What will the world look like after the pandemic? For now, we know that the economic impact will not be the same for all countries, something I’ve already commented on: the enormous importance of testing: countries like South Korea or Singapore that tested as many citizens as possible found that it did not make sense to confine people who had recovered from the disease, regardless of their symptoms, so they have been largely able to keep their economies up and running. This is a virus whose genome varies very little, which suggests that in those who have already developed antibodies, reinfection is unlikely, and that the efficiency of a future vaccine, when it is developed, will probably be high.

Until such a vaccine is available, it will be essential to be able to identify those who can move freely and those who, like older people or those with underlying conditions, will need to maintain protective measures. Germany has announced it will issue certificates to people who have developed antibodies against the coronavirus and who will therefore be able to return immediately to work. Regardless of whether the acquisition of these antibodies has cost people virtually nothing because they have been asymptomatic, or because they have been through major illnesses, there is no doubt that, in the post-pandemic scenario, those who have antibodies will be able to enjoy certain advantages and freedom of movement that others will not.

The question, increasingly, is no longer whether we will return to normal after the pandemic, but whether we really want to return to normal. Do we want to return to gridlocked cities, high levels of pollution, inefficient health systems or to schools and colleges that could be improved? Shouldn’t the lessons learned during lockdown and the fight against COVID-19 encourage change?

Grocery strike rocked Southern California 16 years ago. It may happen again soon

Nearly 16 years ago, the largest and longest supermarket strike in U.S. history reshaped the Southern California grocery industry.

Tens of thousands of workers at Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Ralphs stores spanning from San Diego to San Luis Obispo went on strike or were locked out, starting in October 2003 and lasting more than four months.

Grocery shoppers had to choose whether to walk past workers picketing in the cold. Those who did found shelves often half-empty as they sought groceries for Thanksgiving, then Christmas.

Others looked elsewhere, flocking to Trader Joe’s or Costco — and forming new shopping habits that boosted those chains’ fortunes.

During the strike, the chains in the labor dispute lost a combined $1.5 billion in sales.

And now it might happen again.

On Monday and Tuesday, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers union in Southern and Central California plan to vote on whether to authorize another strike, this time by 46,000 unionized workers. Negotiations have stalled on a new contract with Albertsons — which now owns Vons and Pavilions — and Ralphs.

Workers in San Diego County will have opportunities to vote at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. meetings on Monday. While some locations may know the outcome of the union vote on Monday, results will not be announced until Tuesday.

The vote doesn’t necessarily mean a strike will happen. But if approved, it would enable the union to call a strike whenever it wants. That approval would send a message to the companies that a walkout is possible if the two sides can’t reach a deal. The employees are still working under a three-year contract that expired March 3.

Pamela Hill, 58, a 23-year veteran of Albertsons who works at its store on Crenshaw Boulevard near Los Angeles’ Baldwin Hills area, is ready to send that message. A cashier and safety trainer, she plans to vote yes on authorizing the UFCW to strike.

“I was ready in 2003, but I’m more ready now because I’m at the age where I’m looking forward to my retirement in a few years,” Hill said. “I want my benefits and pensions and so forth to be intact.”

Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions have a combined 342 stores and 29,000 unionized employees in Southern California. Ralphs, a division of Kroger Co., has 190 stores and 17,000 employees involved.

Albertsons said in a statement that the strike vote is “premature and will cause our employees and customers undue concerns.”

“Nevertheless, we hope to get back to the bargaining table and reach an agreement soon,” Albertsons said, adding that it wants a contract that’s “fair to our employees, good for our customers and allows Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions to remain competitive in the Southern California market.”

The most recent talks were June 10 and 11, and the sides are scheduled to meet again from July 10 to 12, said Ralphs, which is negotiating together with Albertsons for the same master contract.

If there is a strike, Southern Californians would have more options than they did 16 years ago in the fiercely competitive grocery business.

Mass merchants Walmart Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Target Corp. now have sizable grocery sections. Discount chains Aldi and Grocery Outlet have opened stores in the region. Whole Foods Market — now owned by Amazon.com Inc. — is still an option, as are Trader Joe’s, Gelson’s Market, Sprouts and Stater Bros. Ethnic and organic markets fill the region too.

The Shelby Report, a publication that tracks the industry, says Albertsons is the largest player in the Southern California/Las Vegas region, with 19.8 percent of the market. Kroger, which includes Ralphs and Food 4 Less, is next at 18.6 percent.

A strike “would be very disruptive because most consumers shop out of convenience,” said Bob Reeves, the Shelby Report’s vice president for the West.

“If they’ve got an Albertsons around the corner, they probably shop there whether they like it or not,” he said. “As soon as it becomes inconvenient, they’ll go a mile or two to shop somewhere else.

“Ralphs and Albertsons are well aware of that. That’s why it’s in their best interests to resolve this as soon as possible,” Reeves said. “They’re definitely going to lose customers.”

One would be Rob Munn, 56, of Inglewood. While shopping at his local Ralphs this week, Munn said he would not cross a picket line. “I respect what they’re fighting for, as far as [the] cost of living,” he said of the employees. “It’s really hard out here.”

The union is making the same case in the contract talks, where the primary issue is wages, and claiming the stores are limiting workers’ ability to earn much more than the rising minimum wage.

But the grocery workers also receive healthcare and pension benefits that many other minimum-wage jobs don’t provide.

Not all the workers are eager to walk out, including Irma Franco, 59, a deli clerk at a Ralphs in Inglewood who has been with the chain 13 years. “I don’t want to strike,” she said, despite having her own complaints about how work hours are divided among newer and more experienced employees. “I want my job and I want to work.”

Main categories of grocery workers involved are meat cutters and two kinds of clerks. Depending on their years of service, the expired contract they’re still using calls for meat cutters to earn between $13.34 and $23.23 an hour this year the category of clerks that includes cashiers, between $12.40 and $20.95 and another kind of clerks, between $12.20 and $15.37. Department managers, who are also unionized, earn more.

The minimum wage in San Diego is $12 an hour.

Albertsons and Ralphs are offering raises of less than 1 percent a year in the negotiations for a new three-year contract — “below the cost of living,” said Mike Shimpock, a spokesman for UFCW Local 770 in Los Angeles.

He said Ralphs also wants to move cashiers from the higher-paid clerk category to the lesser-paid one. The UFCW not only objects to that switch, it also wants to narrow the wage gap between the two categories overall because employees in both sectors often do the same work, Shimpock said.

Albertsons, based in Boise, Idaho, is owned by an investor group led by Cerberus Capital Management, and it acquired Safeway Inc. — the former parent of Vons and Pavilions — in 2015. Albertsons has about 2,269 stores in 34 states, and it reported profit of $131 million on sales of $60.5 billion in fiscal 2018.

Ralphs’ parent Kroger, based in Cincinnati, is publicly held and owns several grocery chains. Kroger, with 2,764 stores overall, reported sales of $121.8 billion in fiscal 2018 and profit of $1.7 billion after adjusting for the sale of its convenience-store business and other items.

Neither Albertsons nor Ralphs would comment on the union’s complaints about the stores’ contract offers. But Ralphs spokesman John Votava said in a statement to The Times that “we are negotiating in good faith with the union for a fair and balanced contract that is good for our associates, as well as our company.”

“Negotiations are about finding compromise, and this can take time,” Votava said.

In a recent message to its employees, Ralphs said it is “committed to providing good, stable jobs and competitive pay and benefits,” but that it also needs “to keep our stores competitive in this changing retail environment.”

Albertsons and Ralphs are under pressure to limit labor-cost gains because grocery profit margins are historically thin and the stores are competing against many non-union rivals such as Walmart, said Andrew Wolf, a retail analyst at Loop Capital Markets.

“If I’m a non-union supermarket operator, it’s just cheaper for me to be in business because I don’t have the extra costs of unionization, including healthcare and pensions,” Wolf said. And without those added costs, “I don’t have to raise my prices to cover them,” he said, which gives the non-union stores a competitive advantage.

That concern was at the heart of the dispute 16 years ago, when Albertsons and Ralphs were trying to keep labor costs down in the face of Walmart and other mass merchants aggressively moving into groceries.

The strike began Oct. 11, 2003, when UFCW members who worked at Vons and Pavilions walked off the job. Because Ralphs and Albertsons were bargaining jointly with those chains, they locked out their workers in solidarity.

The struggle ended Feb. 29, 2004, when union members ratified a new contract that provided, among other things, reduced wages and healthcare benefits for new hires. The two-tier setup for wages was discarded with a later contract, but it remains for healthcare and pension benefits, the UFCW said.

“If we had not gone on strike and been locked out in 2003-04, the assault on grocery workers would have been ferocious” in subsequent contracts, the UFCW’s Shimpock said. “The act of standing up for ourselves showed we had the will that’s helped protect us during the years.”

Hill, the Albertsons worker, said that while the strike and lockout “was hard for us, it was very necessary because, had we not put our foot down and said, ‘No, this is not going to happen,’ then the contracts that we’ve had since then would have gotten worse and worse.”

Back then, “people were apprehensive” about a strike, “they were scared, didn’t know how they’d pay bills,” Hill said. “People weren’t really taking the necessary precautions in case we did go on strike.”

“But this time around,” she said, “it seems like people are more ready than ever.”

Brain-swelling Nipah virus 75 times more deadly than coronavirus may be next pandemic, scientists warn of ‘The Big One’

A brain-swelling disease 75 times more deadly than coronavirus could become the next pandemic killing millions, scientists have warned.

Nipah virus is a deadly disease that can cause coma and death within two days. Symptoms include severe headaches, fever and disorientation.

Nipah virus is a deadly disease that can cause coma and death within two days. Symptoms include severe headaches, fever and disorientation.

Scientists have warned a new virus, which is 75 times more deadly than COVID-19, has the potential to become a global pandemic. Picture: AFP Source:AFP

A brain-swelling disease 75 times more deadly than coronavirus could mutate to become the next pandemic killing millions, scientists have warned.

Experts told the Sun Online how a number of emerging diseases could trigger another global outbreak – and this time it could be “The Big One”.

The fruit bat-borne virus Nipah is a prime candidate for serious concern, they fear.

Severe brain swelling, seizures and vomiting are just some of the symptoms of this highly potent disease — which was first discovered in 1999 in Malaysia.

Outbreaks in south and southeast Asia show the virus to be extremely deadly, with a death rate of between 40 to 75 per cent.

The global hot spots that could lead to a new outbreak. Source:Supplied

Workers in PPE at a Nipah outbreak in 1999. The virus had a 70 per cent fatality rate in previous outbreaks. Source:AP

COVID-19’s fatality rate is around one per cent, according to Imperial College, so a Nipah pandemic would kill many more people.

It has also been named by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of 16 priority pathogens for research and development due to its potential to trigger an epidemic.

And chillingly, Nipah is just one of 260 known viruses with epidemic potential.

The virus is such concern due to its long incubation period of up to 45 days, meaning people could spread for over a month before falling ill, and its ability to cross between species.

Nipah also has an exceptional high rate of mutation and there fears a strain more well adapted to human infections could spread rapidly across the well interconnected countries of South East Asia.

And while COVID-19 has devastated the world, killing almost 2.5 million people, its already been warned the next pandemic could be much worse.

Dr Melanie Saville, director of vaccine research and development at CEPI, have warned the world needs to be prepared for the next 𠇋ig one”.

Humans clashing with nature as populations expand and habitats get pushed back is considered to be a prime driver of new diseases — and that is exactly what happened with Nipah when it first infected pig farmers in Malaysia.

Pigs slaughtered in Malaysia in 1999. The majority of those infected lived near hog farms. Picture: AP Photo/Vincent Thian Source:AP

Medical personnel in PPE at an outbreak in southern India in 2018. Picture: AFP Source:AFP

Dr Rebecca Dutch, chair of the University of Kentucky’s department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry and a world a leader in the study of viruses, said although there are no current Nipah outbreaks in the world, they occur periodically and it is 𠇎xtremely likely” we will see more.

“Nipah is one of the viruses that could absolutely be the cause of a new pandemic. Several things about Nipah are very concerning,” Dr Dutch said.

“Many other viruses in that family (like measles) transmit well between people, so there is concern that a Nipah variant with increased transmission could arise.

“The mortality rate for this virus is between 45% and 75% depending on the outbreak – so this is much higher than COVID-19. Nipah has been shown to transmit through food, as well as via contact with human or animal excretions.

“The incubation period for Nipah can be quite long, and it can be unclear if transmission can occur during this time.”

As well as fruit bats, pigs have caught the disease by eating infected mangoes and have been known to pass the disease to humans.

More than one million pigs believed to be infected with the Nipah virus were slaughtered in Malaysia to prevent them from transferring it to humans.

The global hot spots that could lead to a new outbreak. Source:Supplied

Dr Jonathan Epstein, vice president for science and outreach at the EcoHealth Alliance, explained how they are tracking the Nipah virus and are worried about its potential.

“We know very little about the genetic variety of Nipah-related viruses in bats, and what we don’t want to happen is for a strain to emerge that is more transmissible among people,” Dr Epstein said.

“So far, Nipah is spread among close contact with an infected person, particularly someone with respiratory illness through droplets, and we generally don’t see large chains of transmission.

“However, given enough opportunity to spread from bats to people, and among people, a strain could emerge that is better adapted to spreading among people.

“This is a zoonotic virus knocking on the door, and we have to really work now to understand where human cases are occurring, and try to reduce opportunities for a spillover, so that it never gets the chance to adapt to humans.”

And Dr Saville warned we need to be ready for the next 𠇋ig one”, wherever it may come from.

“Most crucially we shouldn’t just be looking at Nipah,” she said.

“We know that a future pandemic is inevitable, and there are many other emerging infectious diseases that are recognised as having pandemic potential.

“This includes known disease threats, like influenza, as well as new or as-of-yet identified pathogens, known as 𠆍isease X’.

“With environmental changes such as climate change, habitat destruction and human encroachment into previously isolated areas, human interactions have created a fertile space for viruses to hop between species and we therefore need to be prepared for the next 𠆋ig one’.”

The virus is primarily carried by fruit bats. Picture: AFP Source:AFP

Dr Saville added CEPI is looking at producing a library of prototype vaccines which could target all coronaviruses at once.

She added that they would be building on what they had learned from COVID-19 to try and eliminate the risk of a future pandemic.

Executive director of the Access to Medicine Foundation, Jayasree K Iyer, also named superbugs as a big pandemic risk.

She said: 𠇊ntibiotic resistance already causes more than 700,000 deaths each year, including more than 200,000 infant deaths.

𠇊ntibiotics are used for treatment in nearly all cases of severe COVID-19, leading thus to an increasing number of bacteria becoming resistant to these antibiotics.”

Ms Iyer and experts in the field are worried that pharmaceutical companies are not doing enough to create vaccines in time for the next pandemic.

For example, there are no drugs or vaccines specific to Nipah virus.

But the next pandemic could well come from a pathogen currently unknown to us.

The unknown outbreak, known as Disease X, could trigger an outbreak worse than the Black Death if more is not done to control zoonotic diseases.

Out of the 1.67 million unknown viruses on the planet up to 827,000 of these could have the ability to infect people from animals, according to the EcoHealth Alliance.

South East Asia, Southern and Central Africa, areas around the Amazon, and eastern Australia were all identified as the areas of highest risk for new diseases in a study published in Nature Communications.

Environmental writer John Vidal, who is working on a book revealing the links between nature and disease, predicted the world faces a new Black Death-scale pandemic.

Given the popularity of air travel and global trade, a virus could rampage across the world, unknowingly spread by asymptomatic carriers, “in a few weeks, killing tens of millions of people before borders could be closed”, he adds.

He said: “Mankind has changed its relationship with both wild and farmed animals, destroying their habitats and crowding them together — and the process … is only accelerating.

”If we fail to appreciate the seriousness of the situation, this present pandemic may be only a precursor to something far graver still.”


These are the most deadly disease outbreaks in history — with many times the death toll than currently being unleashed by Covid.

𠈫lack Death — Somewhere between 75 and 200 million people lost their lives — up to 60 per cent of the entire population of Europe — when the plague ravaged the continent from 1346 to 1353.

It was most likely passed to humans via fleas which were feeding on black rats on trade ships in the Mediterranean before spreading across Europe and North Africa.

•Spanish Flu — As the world attempted to recover from the horror of the Great War in 1918, a disaster which killed twice as many people as the conflict emerged with Spanish Flu.

Somewhere between 17 million and 100 million people died during the pandemic which lasted until 1920 — but there is currently no consensus as to where the virus originated, although it appears to have avian genes.

•Plague of Justinian — Believed to be the same bacteria responsible for the Black Death, the plague ravaged Europe and West Asia killing between 15 million and 100 million people in 541 and 542AD.

It is believed to have been spread by rats carrying fleas as well — spreading into the Byzantine Empire via grain ships arriving from Egypt.

•HIV/AIDs Pandemic — Still ravaging parts of the world, its estimated some 35 million people have been killed by the insidious virus since 1981.

It is believed to have jumped from primates to humans and was potentially first spread by the bushmeat trade.

•The Third Plague — The Bubonic plague struck again in China in 1855 from where it spread and killed up to 15 million people.

WHO estimated the bacteria was running rampant until 1960 — with only then the pandemic ending, and they continue to closely monitor any outbreaks of the plague.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a lift of priority pathogens for research due to the threat the pose of a widespread epidemic — with these being some of the biggest worries:

Ebola — Six African nations have been put on alert by WHO after Guinea declared it was suffering with another epidemic of ebola. The disease that has killed more than 11,000 people in the region. It leads to a fever, headaches, muscle pain, and bleeding from the ears, eyes, nose or mouth.

•SARS — The virus is believed to first emerged from bats in China, like COVID-19, triggering an epidemic in 2002 to 2004 that killed 774 people. SARS is an airborne virus and can spread through small droplets of saliva in a similar way to COVID-19 and the flu.

•MERS — A bug which is believed to have spread from bats to camels to humans in the Middle East. It is not as infectious as SARS or COVID, but has a fatality rate of around 35%.

•Rift Valley Fever — A zoonotic disease which is mainly passed to humans through infected animal blood and mosquitoes. The most extreme forms of the virus can cause blindness, jaundice, vomiting blood and death.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced with permission

4. Major Advancements in Flu Prevention and Treatment since 1918

The science of influenza has come a long way in 100 years! Developments since the 1918 pandemic include vaccines to help prevent flu, antiviral drugs to treat flu illness, antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia, and a global influenza surveillance system with 114 World Health Organization member states that constantly monitors flu activity. There also is a much better understanding of non-pharmaceutical interventions–such as social distancing, respiratory and cough etiquette and hand hygiene–and how these measures help slow the spread of flu.

There is still much work to do to improve U.S. and global readiness for the next flu pandemic. More effective vaccines and antiviral drugs are needed in addition to better surveillance of influenza viruses in birds and pigs. CDC also is working to minimize the impact of future flu pandemics by supporting research that can enhance the use of community mitigation measures (i.e., temporarily closing schools, modifying, postponing, or canceling large public events, and creating physical distance between people in settings where they commonly come in contact with one another). These non-pharmaceutical interventions continue to be an integral component of efforts to control the spread of flu, and in the absence of flu vaccine, would be the first line of defense in a pandemic.


Events in Germany Edit

Following Adolf Hitler's appointment as German Chancellor in January 1933, an organized campaign of violence and boycotting was undertaken by Hitler's Nazi Party against Jewish businesses. [1] The anti-Jewish boycott was tolerated and possibly organized by the regime, with Hermann Göring stating that "I shall employ the police, and without mercy, wherever German people are hurt, but I refuse to turn the police into a guard for Jewish stores". [1]

The Central Jewish Association of Germany felt obliged to issue a statement of support for the regime and held that "the responsible government authorities [i.e. the Hitler regime] are unaware of the threatening situation," saying, "we do not believe our German fellow citizens will let themselves be carried away into committing excesses against the Jews." [2] Prominent Jewish business leaders wrote letters in support of the Nazi regime calling on officials in the Jewish community in Palestine, as well as Jewish organizations abroad, to drop their efforts in organizing an economic boycott. [3] The Association of German National Jews, a marginal group that had supported Hitler in his early years, also argued against the Jewish boycott of German goods. [4] [5] [6]

US and UK: Plans for a boycott Edit

In Britain the movement to boycott German goods was opposed by the conservative Board of Deputies of British Jews. In the United States a boycott committee was established by the American Jewish Congress, with B'nai B'rith and the American Jewish Committee abstaining. [7] At that point, they were in agreement that further public protests might harm the Jews of Germany. [1]

Unrelenting Nazi attacks on Jews in Germany in subsequent weeks led the American Jewish Congress to reconsider its opposition to public protests. In a contentious four-hour meeting held at the Hotel Astor in New York City on March 20, 1933, 1,500 representatives of various Jewish organizations met to consider a proposal by the American Jewish Congress to hold a protest meeting at Madison Square Garden on March 27, 1933. An additional 1,000 people attempting to enter the meeting were held back by police.

New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph M. Proskauer and James N. Rosenberg spoke out against a proposal for a boycott of German goods introduced by J. George Freedman of the Jewish War Veterans. Proskauer expressed his concerns of "causing more trouble for the Jews in Germany by unintelligent action", protesting against plans for and reading a letter from Judge Irving Lehman that warned that "the meeting may add to the terrible dangers of the Jews in Germany". Honorary president Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise responded to Proskauer and Rosenberg, criticizing their failure to attend previous AJC meetings and insisting that "no attention would be paid to the edict" if mass protests were rejected as a tactic. Wise argued that "The time for prudence and caution is past. We must speak up like men. How can we ask our Christian friends to lift their voices in protest against the wrongs suffered by Jews if we keep silent? … What is happening in Germany today may happen tomorrow in any other land on earth unless its is challenged and rebuked. It is not the German Jews who are being attacked. It is the Jews." He characterized the boycott as a moral imperative, stating, "We must speak out," and that "if that is unavailing, at least we shall have spoken." [1] The group voted to go ahead with the meeting at Madison Square Garden. [1] [8]

In a meeting held at the Hotel Knickerbocker on March 21 by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, former congressman William W. Cohen advocated a strict boycott of German goods, stating that "Any Jew buying one penny's worth of merchandise made in Germany is a traitor to his people." The Jewish War Veterans also planned a protest march in Manhattan from Cooper Square to New York City Hall, in which 20,000 would participate, including Jewish veterans in uniform, with no banners or placards allowed other than American and Jewish flags. [9]

March 27, 1933: A National Day of Protest Edit

A series of protest rallies were held on March 27, 1933, with the New York City rally held at Madison Square Garden with an overflow crowd of 55,000 inside and outside the arena and parallel events held in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and 70 other locations, with the proceedings at the New York rally broadcast worldwide. Speakers at the Garden included American Federation of Labor president William Green, Senator Robert F. Wagner, former Governor of New York Al Smith and a number of Christian clergyman, joining together in a call for the end of the brutal treatment of German Jews. [1] [10] [11] Rabbi Moses S. Margolies, spiritual leader of Manhattan's Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, rose from his sickbed to address the crowd, bringing the 20,000 inside to their feet with his prayers that the antisemitic persecution cease and that the hearts of Israel's enemies should be softened. [12] Jewish organizations — including the American Jewish Congress, American League for Defense of Jewish Rights, B'nai B'rith, the Jewish Labor Committee and Jewish War Veterans — joined together in a call for a boycott of German goods. [1]

The boycott began in March 1933 in both Europe and the US and continued until the entry of the US into the war on December 7, 1941. [13] [14] [15]

By July 1933, the boycott had forced the resignation of the board of the Hamburg America Line. German imports to the US were reduced by nearly a quarter compared with the prior year, and the impact was weighing heavily on the regime. Joseph Goebbels expressed that it was a cause for "much concern" at the first Nuremberg party rally that August. The boycott was perhaps most effective in British Palestine, especially against German pharmaceutical companies when nearly two-third of the 652 practicing Jewish doctors in Palestine stopped prescribing German medicines. [16]

A significant event in the boycott took place on March 15, 1937 when a "Boycott Nazi Germany" rally was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The Nazis and some outside Germany portrayed the boycott as an act of aggression, with the British newspaper the Daily Express using the headline: "Judea Declares War on Germany" on March 24, 1933. [13] Nazi officials denounced the protests as slanders against the Nazis perpetrated by "Jews of German origin", with the Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels proclaiming that a series of "sharp countermeasures" would be taken against the Jews of Germany in response to the protests of American Jews. Goebbels announced a one-day boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany of his own to take place on April 1, 1933, which would be lifted if anti-Nazi protests were suspended. [13] This was the German government's first officially sanctioned anti-Jewish boycott. If the protests did not cease, Goebbels warned that "the boycott will be resumed. until German Jewry has been annihilated". [1] [17] [18]

The Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses threatened by Goebbels occurred. Brownshirts of the SA were placed outside Jewish-owned department stores, retail establishments and professional offices. The Star of David was painted in yellow and black on retail entrances and windows, and posters asserting "Don't Buy from Jews!" (Kauf nicht bei Juden!) and "The Jews Are Our Misfortune!" (Die Juden sind unser Unglück!) were pasted around. Physical violence against Jews and vandalism of Jewish-owned property took place, but the police intervened only rarely. [19]

The boycott, instead of reducing the harassment of Jews in Germany, was one of the preludes to the destruction of the Jews during the Holocaust. [3]

The Haavara Agreement, together with German rearmament and lessened dependence on trade with the West, had by 1937 largely negated the effects of the Jewish boycott on Germany. [20] [16] Nevertheless, the boycott campaign continued into 1939. [16]

An unevenly-honored social convention among American Jews during the 20th and early 21st-century was the boycotting of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW products, manufacturers assumed to having had connections with the Nazi war effort. [21]

What History’s Economy-Disrupting Outbreaks Can Teach Us About Coronavirus Panic

Y ou could ignore cholera as easy as you could ignore a case of arsenic poisoning, wrote historian Charles Rosenberg more than half a century ago. The disease&rsquos symptoms of severe diarrhea and spasmodic vomiting left the victim&rsquos &ldquoface blue and pinched, his extremities cold and darkened, the skin of his hands and feet drawn and puckered.&rdquo A person could be healthy and upright one moment and prostrate a moment later, as suddenly &ldquoas if knocked down with an axe.&rdquo

In 1832, the terrifying disease brought New York City, then home to a quarter million residents and one of the busiest ports in the world, to a standstill, striking panic in residents and wreaking havoc on the &ldquogreat commercial mart&rsquos&rdquo economy. It was not the first pandemic to bring the city&rsquos businesses to a halt, and it certainly would not be the last.

Now, the world is confronting the possibility of another disease causing severe financial disruption, as American cities from New York to San Francisco isolate and quarantine people, as some of their biggest employers encourage employees to work from home, and as the Dow rollercoasters in response to the spread of COVID-19. &ldquoThe virus and the measures that are being taken to contain it will surely weigh on economic activity, both here and abroad, for some time,&rdquo said Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell last week.

At a moment like this, looking back to the economic impact of the 1832 outbreak might be comforting&mdashbut the lesson of that time is more complicated than it may seem.

Back in 1832, anxious New Yorkers had watched for months as &ldquoAsiatic&rdquo cholera, which had originated in India, made its way across Russia and then Europe, terrorizing cities from St. Petersburg to London. Seven thousand had died in Berlin, New York papers reported, and the disease had claimed four percent of the population of Egypt. Late on a Monday night in June, New York health officials documented the city&rsquos first case. A week later, city doctors tallied nine cases. Just one had survived. Doctors pressed to make the news public, but the city&rsquos health board and mayor hesitated. The doctors, argued a prominent banker, clearly weren&rsquot thinking about what such an announcement would do to the city&rsquos businesses and trade.

But the very news that cholera was moving westward across the globe had already prompted New Yorkers, or at least those who could afford it, to leave the city in haste. By the day after the city&rsquos eight deaths were finally announced, the Evening Post reported that &ldquothe roads, in all directions, were lined with well-filled stage coaches, livery coaches, private vehicles and equestrians, all panic struck, fleeing.&rdquo

For city merchants, business did indeed dry up. One reported that he was the only one left on his street. A merchant&rsquos wife reported having to bake all her own bread as there was nothing to buy at city shops. The lively dry goods market on Pearl Street &ldquoappeared as still and gloomy as the Valley of the Shadow of Death,&rdquo wrote merchant John Pintard. City residents emptied their bank accounts in droves. On the Saturday after the first cases were announced, one bank paid out more than $20,000 to anxious clients.

Hotels wrote to the local papers asking them to run notices that they were cholera-free and open for business. &ldquoThe American Hotel,&rdquo the Evening Post dutifully reported, &ldquoneither has been nor will be closed.&rdquo But the paper added that a simple walk by the building showed it deserted of visitors and boarders. Wealthy Newport, R.I., meanwhile, drew an armed militia around itself, fearing refugees importing the disease from New York.

On the other hand, there were those who made money off the epidemic. Thirty miles outside New York City, country hotels and boarding houses filled to capacity. Back in town, doctors hiked their fees. Peddlers made hefty profits on dubious cholera cures. New jobs opened up, especially for nurses, night watchmen and construction workers, whom the city hired to clean up and build out New York&rsquos notoriously pestilent streets, long piled with household refuse and the excrement left behind by roaming hogs, goats and dogs.

Cholera, mercifully, was seasonal. As the summer waned, cases declined. By mid-August, the epidemic was &ldquogreatly diminished.&rdquo By the end of the month, residents began to return and businesses reopened. &ldquoThe stores are all opened, footwalks lined with bales and Boxes & streets crowded with carts & porters cars,&rdquo wrote Pintard, who went on to be a founder of the New-York Historical Society. &ldquoWhat a contrast with the middle of July.&rdquo

New York bounced back to normal, and its population and commerce continued to boom.

Cholera would visit the U.S. three more times before century was through, the last time in 1873. New York was much more populous by then, as was the U.S., but new scientific knowledge meant that the disease, by then known to be caused by a bacterium transmitted primarily through contaminated water, took a far, far smaller toll.

Still other pandemics followed, though, and the worst of them hit local, state and the national economies just as hard. Bubonic plague crossed the Pacific in the 1900, landing in San Francisco. The city, facing embargoes of goods from the rest of the state as well as neighboring ones, cordoned off Chinatown, whose residents later sued for $2 million in losses. The deadly 1918 flu arrived later, spread in the U.S. by a member of the military. Businesses in Little Rock, Ark., reported losing $10,000 a day. Tennessee shut its mines. When the &ldquoHong Kong&rdquo flu struck the U.S. in 1968, brought in by troops returning from Vietnam, the Dow lost more than 13.24%.

Just over a decade ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published a study of the economic effects of the 1918 flu, which killed roughly 675,000 people living in the U.S. the study&rsquos aim was to estimate the potential effects of a similarly deadly epidemic in modern times. Total economic losses due to the 1918 epidemic are difficult to estimate, but one thing was clear: after it ended, society recovered. As the study&rsquos author concluded, the flu changed individual lives forever, but the economy bounced back.

Historians, as Robert Peckham notes, tend to believe that &ldquoanalogies create blind spots.&rdquo Each epidemic takes place in its own context. The state of trade in New York in 1832&mdashas well as the city&rsquos infrastructure, wealth, poverty, graft and relationship to the rest of the world&mdashplayed a role in cholera&rsquos spread. The economy recovered then, and has many times since. At the same time, a number of historians credit medieval plague with a role in the collapse of feudalism and the rise of capitalism, so it is hard to generalize about the relationship between epidemics and economies. The national and global financial systems will still exist on the other side of a disease. But no amount of looking backward can tell us what they will look like then&mdashor what COVID-19 might be capable of changing.

Historians’ perspectives on how the past informs the present


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