Archive | March 28th, 2020

Britain’s response to Covid-19 pt 1: ‘Take it on the chin’

What the coronavirus teaches us about our rulers’ attitudes and priorities.

Proletarian writers

On Thursday 12 March, British prime minister Boris Johnson held a press conference at his 10 Downing Street residence, flanked by two scientists, chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, at which he announced soberly to the nation that we should all be prepared to “lose loved ones before their time” over the coming weeks and months as the Covid-19 coronavirus spreads through the population and takes its toll of the most vulnerable amongst us – the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and the immunocompromised.

The presence of the scientists on the podium was meant to convey to the British public that the decisions that the government is (or isn’t) taking are based firmly in the scientific evidence – and much of the media has been keen to reassure us that this is indeed so.

But if that is the case, why was China’s response so different? Or south Korea’s? Or Italy’s? Or Spain’s?

China mobilises the nation to protect its people

In China’s Wuhan city, capital of the central Hubei province, where Covid-19 was first identified as a new and highly infectious disease of unknown origin* back in January, the government moved quickly and decisively to lock down the city as soon as it realised the potential gravity of the situation.

This speedy detection was in itself a modern medical feat. The genome of the virus was sequenced and published to enable the world’s medical and scientific community to contribute to testing for and treating the newly identified disease.

Testing was perfected and then rolled out on a mass scale, allowing some 1.8 million citizens and patients to be tested weekly. Infection control measures were rapidly developed that made treatment of patients possible without jeopardising their medical staff. Novel antiviral treatments were tested and trials of effective agents were rapidly put in place.

Travel into and out of the city was banned, and as many people as possible were instructed to stay at home. China’s strong pre-existing social infrastructure (eg, residents’ committees in every apartment block or street) was mobilised to make sure everyone had what they needed (medicines, fresh food, and so on), essential services were kept going, and essential shops (food stores, pharmacies) stayed open.

Factories around the country were quickly repurposed so that production of protective clothing, especially facemasks, could be rapidly expanded. Two new hospitals were constructed in Wuhan in just 10 days so that the large numbers of patients requiring specialised respiratory care could be taken care of, and ICU equipment and doctors were flown in from all over the country to help take up the strain on hard-pressed local medics.

Incredibly rigorous contact tracing and isolation of all Covid-19-positive patients (detected in the mass testing programme) was put in place. China’s entire medical, social and economic infrastructure was mobilised to serve the interests of the Chinese people, and defeat the spread of the novel ‘Sars-2’ coronavirus.

A social movement was born, and its slogan became: ‘Stay strong Wuhan! Stay strong China!’

Just two months after these measures were taken, China had the virus beaten. Of the 81,000 Chinese who had been infected, 73,000 had recovered, some 5,000 were still ill and 3,270 had died at the time of writing. (China coronavirus cases, Worldometer, looked up 23 March 2020)

Overall, just half of one hundredth of one percent of China’s 1.4 billion people (0.0057 percent) have been infected, and the death rate has progressively lowered as social measures have taken effect and treatment, testing, contact tracing and specialised bed capacity has increased where needed.

Of the trickle of new cases identified in China since 19 March, all have been travellers returning from abroad; none were from Wuhan. Meanwhile, hundreds of recovered patients are being discharged daily: all sixteen temporary hospitals in Wuhan had closed their doors by 10 March as the last patients left.

The price of delay

In Italy, conversely, where lock-down measures were taken much later, the number of critical patients in the northern Lombardy region quickly overwhelmed the area’s ICU capacity, leaving doctors forced to decide who should get life-saving treatment and who would have to be left to die.

At the time of writing, around 6,000 new cases were being identified every day, while twenty percent of Italian GPs have been infected and several have died. As of 18 March, 2,600 health workers, 8 percent of the total, had been infected in Italy – more than twice the percentage rate of China.

As a result, Italy has so far had the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world (5,476 as of 23 March), despite having a population that is only a fraction of China’s, and the death toll is set to keep rising sharply as new cases are detected. Of the 46,000 cases presently recorded, 3,000 (6 percent) are in a critical condition.

In desperation, the Italians appealed to the European Union for help. The silence was deafening. The response they got instead was to be slapped with a large fine for breaching EU competition laws.

“The European court of justice (ECJ), which enforces EU law, ruled on Thursday to levy a €7.5m fine on the virus-stricken nation. The fine was administered for Italy’s apparently ‘illegal’ use of state-aid funds for the struggling hotel industry in Sardinia. To add insult to injury, Italy will need to pay an additional €80,000 for every day that the fine remains unpaid.” (The EU is treating Italians with contempt by Milja Kljajic, Spiked, 17 March 2020)

Help came instead from the Chinese Red Cross, which sent a planeload of fans, respiratory equipment, electrocardiographs, facemasks and more.

The nine experts who accompanied the supplies included Chinese Red Cross vice-president Yang Huichuan and leading cardiopulmonary resuscitation professor Liang Zongan. All nine are specialists with frontline experience in managing the coronavirus emergency. (Coronavirus, a plane with aid from the Chinese Red Cross in Fiumicino, La Repubblica, 13 March 2020)

Taking it ‘on the chin’

When this disease appeared to be a Chinese problem, our media in the main were focused on creating as much hysterical anti-China propaganda out of the situation as possible.

All kinds of wild and false claims were made, and consequently a lot of scepticism was bred amongst workers regarding the need to take the virus seriously at all. The wildly fluctuating statements about Covid-19’s death rate in this context could not but appear extremely suspicious.

But it is becoming clearer by the day that the death rate for Covid-19 is, in fact, immensely variable. The Italian experience suggests that as many as 5 percent of people infected will need specialised ICU ventilator treatment in hospital to allow them to survive.

From all the available evidence, it now appears that several factors must combine to keep death rates low. The first of these is stopping the spread, which is dependent on testing, contact tracing and isolation.

The second is supplying enough beds for patients needing oxygen treatment, preferably in specialised hospitals away from other patients to stop them spreading the virus among the general hospital population.

The third is developing an antiviral treatment protocol (both Cuba and China have developed antiviral medical treatments that are proving successful in this regard).

And, finally, there is the need to give timely and adequate ICU care, which means having enough ventilators for all who need them and trained staff to man them.

Added to all this is the need for sufficient supplies of proper personal protective equipment (PPE: gowns, gloves, masks, etc) for all healthcare staff.

Given the very low numbers of specialised ICU beds per head of the population in Britain, why was our government’s response so muted for so long?

For the simple reason that our rulers initially took an economic (not scientific) decision to allow the virus to spread through the British population and let the epidemic run its course. In the words of Boris Johnson, we were to “take it on the chin”.

The government clearly wanted to avoid paying the price of instructing people (as opposed to ‘advising’ them) that they must all go into quarantine (as opposed to ‘self-isolate’). Because if it has immediately ordered a lock-down, it would have made itself liable to cover the costs – for the hundreds of thousands of Britons who have no right to sick or holiday pay, for the hundreds of thousands of small (and large) businesses that are unable to survive without takings for a few weeks or even months.

What other reason could there have been for keeping the schools open so long (since we all know from experience that schools are the main spreaders of coughs, colds and flu in our society) than to avoid having to arrange childcare provision for all those essential workers who need to carry on and don’t have anyone at home who can look after their kids? It’s either that or our rulers actively want the disease to spread through the population.

This suspicion in only reinforced by the debate about ‘herd immunity’ that Boris and co attempted to foist onto the British public when cases began to rise sharply in Britain. Thankfully, this Malthusian anti-worker concept was debunked by enough scientists and commentators that pressure mounted and the government was forced to back down, but the delay will certainly have cost many lives.

We are now told by Sir Patrick Vallance that a “good outcome” would be if the UK death toll from Covid-19 stays below 20,000. Yet China, with its 1.4 billion population, has kept deaths below 5,000!

And even after the government had finally been forced under pressure to concede that schools should close, small businesses such as cafes, pubs, hairdressers and so on were still being left to ‘decide’ for themselves – caught between not wanting to spread the virus and not being able to take the hit of voluntarily closing down for the duration – a policy that seems to have more to do with the needs of the insurance industry than the health of the workers.

For as long as it is left to each of us individually to decide what to do (as opposed to following a nationally worked-out plan), then the financial and logistic ramifications of any ‘decision’ we make about closing down a small business, staying at home from work or keeping our kids out of school remain our problem to solve as best we can. And if we’re not able to take the decision we want to take (or have been ‘advised’ to) for financial reasons, then so be it.

In other words, Mr Johnson announced a cull of our elderly and infirm relatives, because as far as the ruling class is concerned, they are entirely expendable – and certainly far less important than the money that it would cost to take serious measures to protect them.

Indeed, the callous, contemptuous mindset of the ruling class towards workers was revealed by the undercurrent in much of the initial media coverage, where plenty of commentators were to be found hinting that Britain might be ‘fitter and leaner’ as a result of losing a million or so of its ‘economically inactive’ members.

The mentality that caused Winston Churchill to write in a departmental paper in 1910: “I propose that 100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilised and others put in labour camps to halt the decline of the British race,” has clearly not gone away.

This is truth about how our rulers view us. And this is the difference between the socialist system and the capitalist one. As George Galloway put it at a meeting of the Workers party in Liverpool on Saturday 14 March: “After 250 years, it’s not much of an achievement for capitalism that we’re only two pay checks away from absolute poverty or one virus away from the total breakdown of our society.”

And not much of an achievement, either, if after all that time, our ‘mature’ (read decrepit) capitalist system views people at the end of their lives – who have more than earned a little rest and respect after decades of hard work, and who embody priceless experience and wisdom – as nothing more than rubbish to be disposed of, of no real interest because they can no longer be exploited for profit.

It is precisely this attitude that has led to our much talked-about but permanently unaddressed social care crisis – the profit-driven view that the elderly are a burden, rather than workers who deserve a dignified retirement having made their valuable contribution to society; that the mentally and physically ill and disabled are likewise an unwelcome burden rather than human beings who deserve to be treated as such whether or not they are able to work.

In a socialist society, everyone who is physically able must work, and society has a duty to find meaningful and fulfilling work for all.

But those who are too old, too ill or otherwise unable to work must be taken care of in the most dignified and appropriate way – with every support to keep them in the community where this is possible, or in high-quality, specialised, caring institutions where it is not.

The Covid-19 crisis is sharpening the contradictions and revealing the flaws inherent in the capitalist system and proving once again that it is long past its sell-by date, having nothing useful to offer to workers. If we take one lesson from what is happening to the world today, it is that only a planned socialist economy is capable of putting people first and solving any problems that arise in a timely and humane way.

———-

* Despite all the black propaganda to the contrary, the source of the Covid-19 virus has not yet been identified, although there has been a huge amount of sinophobic speculation in the west over whether Chinese food hygiene or eating practices are to blame.

Some in China have postulated the theory that the virus may actually have originated in the USA, and have been imported to China (intentionally or accidentally) at the time of the international military games that were held in Wuhan in October 2019. The games were attended by a delegation of 300 US military personnel. (China locked in hybrid war with US by Pepe Escobar, Global Research, 17 March 2020)

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Corona vaccine: Good news from Germany, France and Russia, no injuries for the third day in China

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

While the numbers of people living with the Coronavirus around the world are increasing alarmingly, and about one billion people are subject to compulsory isolation in their homes, good news comes from the vaccine and treatment of the emerging virus from Germany and France.

Franz Werner Haas, the acting German head of the German company, Corvac, said that tens of thousands of people infected with corona could get a vaccine for the virus this fall.

He added that after “the progress made by the company’s scientists, the clinical trials for this vaccine will be launched next summer.”

“If the German authorities agree, we will start production,” Hass said, adding that his company has a production capacity of between 200 and 400 million doses of vaccine for the Corona virus in one year.

The director of the Al-Jazeera office in Germany, Issa Al-Tibi, said that Haass also confirmed that the German vaccination of the virus will be the best in the world.

Al-Tibi added that the largest shareholder of the German company, Corvac, said in a new press interview that his company had received a lot of support from the European Union, and that as a result it could prove to humankind its ability to produce millions of doses of the vaccine to the world.

Promising experiences in France

French Professor Didier Raoul, director of the University Hospital Institute in Marseille, revealed, during a clinical trial, the effectiveness of the drug hydroxychloroquine used to treat malaria in the recovery of people infected with the Coronavir virus (Covid-19).

The French study revealed by Raoul showed that all people with corona were cured after being treated for six consecutive days with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin together.

The study said that the treatment of hydroxychloroquine prevents the reproduction of the virus in the human body, and works to reduce and disappear viral infections in patients “Covid-19”.

She added that the effect of this drug is enhanced by azithromycin, which accelerates the recovery of patients.

During a television interview, French Professor Didier Raoul called for more experiments on this drug, which he said might contribute to controlling the spread of Corona.

Al-Jazeera correspondent in France said that Raul confirmed that three quarters of those who underwent treatment with this drug recovered, and that those who refused to use it remained ill.

The director of health in the French Ministry of Health was quoted as saying that the French authorities welcome these studies and research, and that they asked a specialized body in the ministry to scrutinize them more.

A French government spokeswoman was also quoted as saying that France welcomes all studies, and indicated that she nevertheless seemed conservative when she said that there is still no scientific information in order to adopt such a protocol.

He added that doctors and other researchers have also reserved the study, and they stressed that it is necessary to know the repercussions that may be left by the use of the drug to the injured, especially if the patient is forced to take many doses.

Meanwhile, Stanford University medical advisor Gregory Regano said that a study conducted in France by the brightest doctors specializing in infectious diseases confirmed the effectiveness of the drug hydroxychloroquine, which is used to treat malaria in treating corona. In an interview with Fox News, Reagano confirmed that the cure rate of those who underwent trials was 100%.

For his part, US President Donald Trump said in a new tweet that there is a real opportunity for the drugs “hydro-cycloroquine” and “azetromycin” to bring about the most significant transformation in the history of medicine.

6 Russian vaccines

And in Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Michaustin announced that his country’s scientists are currently testing 6 vaccines against the Corona virus “Covid-19”.

“We hope that its effectiveness (vaccines) will be confirmed soon,” according to Russia Today.

“Six drugs of this type are currently being tested in Russia, and our scientists have developed them in a very short time, in just two months, through the use of available innovations and the latest in biotechnology,” he added.

The Federal Authority for Consumer Rights Monitoring in Russia said Friday that Russian scientists have begun testing prototypes for possible vaccines for the Corona virus on animals in a laboratory in Siberia, adding that scientists expect to start launching a vaccine in the last three months of 2020.

Russia’s Victor Center for Virology and Biotechnology stated that it has developed vaccine models based on six different technological concepts, and they began testing on Monday.

As for the director of the Russian Influenza Research Institute of the Russian Ministry of Health Dmitry Liuznov, he said that the production of a vaccine for Koruna may take from one and a half years to 3 years, explaining that the fastest process in this series is the idea of ​​preparing the vaccine, and then a long process begins for studies on the clinical cases of animals, Then the actual research will be on healthy volunteers.

An experimental treatment in America

For its part, the American “NBC” channel reported that an experimental treatment for Corona virus using an anti-viral drug showed clear signs of improvement for at least two patients in the United States within 24 hours.

The channel added that the experimental treatment that was previously used to treat injured people in Wuhan, China, is believed to prevent corona from multiplying inside the body.

And medical sources in the United States confirmed that the drug, produced by an American company, has officially entered the stage of clinical trials for about one thousand patients in the country, and the results will appear by the end of next April.

On the other hand, the drug manufacturer announced that up to this point it has not been proven safe for treatment with Corona, and has not issued approval from any party for its use of the drug, as the company confirmed that it supports five clinical trials around the world to study the safety and effectiveness of the drug.

In parallel with these developments, the Chinese mainland has not recorded for the third consecutive day new cases of coronavirus at the local level, while the number of infections detected by arrivals from abroad increased.

Posted in China, France, Germany, RussiaComments Off on Corona vaccine: Good news from Germany, France and Russia, no injuries for the third day in China

The Nazi occupation did not sterilize the prisons, and no checks were conducted on the prisoners

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Prisoners

Nazi occupied Ramallah: The Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies accused the Nazi occupation of dealing with a clear racism with the Palestinian prisoners in prisons, and refuses to release any of them, while approving the release of hundreds of Jewish prisoners.

The media spokesman for the center, the researcher Riyad Al-Ashqar, said in a press statement that while the occupation government approved the release of hundreds of Jewish criminal prisoners, as part of its fight against the spread of the “Corona” virus, it refused to release any Palestinian prisoner for the same reason, even if he was sick or elderly. Or women and children.

He pointed out that the occupation refuses to release the Palestinian prisoners and leaves them hostage to the death coming to them at any moment as a result of the rapid spread of the Corona virus, because its arrival in prisons is a matter of time only, then the disaster will occur, the fact that prisons are a special ground for the creation of epidemics and diseases, and large numbers of prisoners remain In tight and crowded places.

Al-Ashqar added that the occupation has not yet taken adequate means and has not implemented the required safety and prevention measures to prevent the disease from reaching the prisons, on the contrary, it prohibits cleaning materials for the prisoners among the dozens of items they were deprived of their possession from the prison canteen, which led them to use toothpaste and shaving to clean the rooms and yards Spree.

He stressed that the occupation has not sanitized prisons, nor does it conduct real checks for prisoners who are newly transferred to prisons from abroad or from investigation and detention centers to ensure that they are free of the disease, which makes disease access to prisons an imperative.

The Palestinian Prisoners Center called for an international human and humanitarian intervention to pressure the occupation to release the sick prisoners, the elderly, women and children unconditionally, because they are the most vulnerable groups, calling on the World Health Organization to carry out its responsibilities towards the prisoners and protect them from certain death.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on The Nazi occupation did not sterilize the prisons, and no checks were conducted on the prisoners

Germany Signals a Historic Shift From Austerity That Could Upend the Economy of Europe

by MARSHALL AUERBACK

Photograph Source: European Peoples Party – CC BY 2.0

Until March 21, Germany’s policymakers were like the Japanese soldiers who spent years lingering in the jungles of the Philippines, refusing to accept the reality that their country had lost World War II. In the case of Berlin, it was a case of the country stubbornly refusing to abandon six years of fiscal restraint, even as it became clear that such spending would be required to mitigate the impact of a pandemic that was bringing the global economy to a virtual standstill. That all appears to have changed now, with the government announcing a series of proposals that represent in aggregate approximately 10 percent of Germany’s GDP. Part of the package takes the form of direct public spending, but the majority is government funding for purchases of equity stakes in companies, as well as loans. Given the likely catastrophic decline in economic activity not just in Germany (which was already in recession), but the European Union as a whole, more likely needs to be done. The longer-term question, however, still remains: even if Berlin fully scales up on the fiscal front (as it should), can the EU’s institutions as a whole accommodate long-term reform that will adequately address the challenges once we get beyond the immediate crisis response occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic?

Better late than never. One should therefore applaud Berlin for finally acting decisively with the sincere hope that the deficit taboo has finally been destroyed once and for all, as it has all across the rest of the world. Germany matters: it is not only the biggest and most powerful economy in the EU, but its actions also provide political cover for other countries to follow suit (as well providing more leeway for the European Central Bank to act decisively).

Some of the early indications, however, suggest that it might take time before the country’s “stability culture”—the belief that public debt is invariably an evil, the consequences of which must be stopped at all costs—will be eradicated as quickly as one would hope. Wolfgang Munchau’s Eurointelligence March 24 briefing, “Return of the German Professors,” provides an example of potential domestic resistance to a complete volte-face in German policymaking circles posed by still influential figures such as Otmar Issing, the former chief economist and member of the board of the European Central Bank.

So how much further across the fiscal Rubicon does Berlin have to travel? To get some idea of the fiscal scale likely required, Germany might look to the UK, which has established a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which “will cover 80% of the wages of employees who would otherwise have been… ‘laid-off’ as a result of Coronavirus, subject to an overall cap of £2,500 per calendar month (£30,000 per annum)” (the UK government is also looking to expand the package to the self-employed). Taken in aggregate, the proposals represent at least 15 percent of the UK’s GDP.

The usual German phobias about inflation can also be addressed if the balance of the government spending is focused on expanding the productive capacity of the economy so as to ensure that essential goods can continue to be provided absent price rationing (or martial law). Put bluntly, if all work ceases, people will soon starve or, at the very least, experience shortages in vital supplies. Wealth needs to be added through investment, as well as labor.

Berlin’s so-called “black zero” fiscal rule, a perverse insistence on a budget balanced between fiscal spending and tax receipts, is now gone. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has conceded as much. And that should be welcomed. This destructive ideology has dominated not just Germany but all of Europe’s budgetary discussions for a decade. The current proposals, however, still place too much emphasis on debt and equity injections, and not enough direct spending, as the Financial Times’ Wolfgang Munchau observes: “Much of the money is credit, not grants. If a business borrows money while profits fall, solvency deteriorates. This was Italy’s problem after the eurozone crisis. Austerity left the economy in a weaker position to pay down debt.”

To Munchau’s point, the package as currently constituted consists of “a supplementary government budget of €156 billion, €100 billion for an economic stability fund that can take direct equity stakes in companies, and €100 billion in credit to public-sector development bank KfW for loans to struggling businesses,” as the Irish Times reports. Berlin is also extending €400 billion in state guarantees to underwrite the debts of companies affected by the turmoil. On the other hand, there is little direct spending to replace the incomes of those whose incomes have been lost as a result of the economic shutdown to allow small and medium-sized enterprises to weather the storm, against a backdrop of plummeting consumer confidence.

Ironically, one of the goals of the package, according to Germany’s economic affairs minister Peter Altmaier, is to preclude a “bargain sale of German economic and industrial interests,” precisely the opposite of what was forced on the Greek government in exchange for receiving economic assistance during its own financial crisis back in 2015 (when the Troika—the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the IMF—all pressured Athens to engage in a program of wholesale privatization of state assets at highly distressed levels).

There are other indications to suggest that Germany has yet to fully shed its fiscal hair-shirt morality. The country’s leading policymakers are self-righteously suggesting that the country’s years of fiscal restraint is precisely what is now allowing Germany (and by implication no one else) to spend aggressively. This is nonsensical. As far as Germany itself goes, the low levels of the country’s national public debt have been offset by high levels of private debt, especially in the country’s rickety banking system (see Deutsche Bank as exhibit A). Additionally, the other mitigating factor has been the country’s large trade surplus (which was only made possible by the fact that many of its trading partners were willing to incur trade deficits with Berlin).

This raises another aspect of Germany’s tentative fiscal conversion: the stimulus must not be used to reconstruct the country’s export-driven mercantilist model. The rest of the global economy is being devastated. There is therefore unlikely to be much external demand for Germany’s traded goods for some time. Globalization is increasingly being reassessed as countries’ vulnerabilities to global supply chain disruptions are engendering a reexamination of existing economic theologies. There are likely to be attempts to resurrect manufacturing at home.

Some of these provisions are likely to be contrary to EU rules on state aid, but good luck insisting on their adherence as every nation races to avert a national depression. The Italian economy, for example, faces a massive challenge, given the scale of devastation (especially in its small business sector). Much as the UK government is now focusing on “leveling up” its more depressed economic regions long afflicted by globalization, so too are all of the Mediterranean nations likely to use the current suspension of budget austerity rules to maximize their respective chances of national recovery. That means Germany, too, should focus less on reviving its tradable goods sector and more on its domestic economy.

It speaks to the calamity of decades of bad policymaking, not only in Germany, but also in many other countries, that a global lockdown that potentially revives Great Depression levels of unemployment is now considered optimal policy to keep us safe and healthy. That’s the legacy of austerity of which Berlin was a leading proponent. Most of the national health care systems are unlikely to cope with the scale of the anticipated cases, and the limited hospital capacity means that they themselves are becoming vectors of contagion. A short-term depression is being risked on the basis of incomplete (and possibly faulty) information or, at the very least, models that are based on “reasonable” assumptions that are quickly undermined by events on the ground.

The good news about Berlin’s belated action is that it likely provides political cover for other eurozone nations to proceed with more aggressive government spending packages without being subject to the usual austerity-laden strictures that have been threatened and imposed by Brussels in the past (along with Germany’s enthusiastic backing and moralizing). And the ECB also has the scope to undertake more comprehensive action to ensure that national solvency does not become an issue (even though its initial maladroit response caused tremendous damage to the Italian bond market). ECB quantitative easing must continue minus any fiscal conditionality, as additional cuts to government spending as a quid pro quo to ECB bond-buying will simply exacerbate the problem by decreasing incomes and employment.

The bad news is that institutional constraints, such as the arbitrary limits on public debt and national budget deficits within the eurozone, continue to bias national policymaking toward austerity. Simply constructing temporary loopholes on the basis of COVID-19, therefore, is not enough. But attempts to ease those institutional constraints (such as via a mutualized eurobond issued by the ECB) will likely run into legal opposition in Berlin. The German constitutional court has already ruled that a political and fiscal union requires that the country hold a national referendum to transfer additional national sovereignty to the EU. Given today’s political climate in the country, it’s highly unlikely that such a high bar would pass democratic muster.

So while Germany likely will follow the UK and the U.S. with increasingly bigger fiscal actions as the scale of the pandemic’s damage becomes clearer, these measures, however welcome, are unlikely to address the longer-term challenges of attempting to govern the EU effectively absent more profound institutional changes. The political path of least resistance increasingly appears to be shifting momentum back toward a Europe of nation-states, rather than a supranational United States of Europe. On this basis, it is hard to envisage the single-currency union surviving. Governing by crisis is neither easy, nor effective, especially if one is not monetarily sovereign in one’s currency. The sooner all of Europe, especially Germany, recognizes that fact, the better the future is likely to be for all.

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Real Truth on the Coronavirus: What It Is and How to Confront It

Communique #1 from the Revcoms:

There is a lot of confusion about the coronavirus. There is misleading information coming from people in power, especially Trump. Yet this will be a life-and-death question for tens of thousands of people, and very likely more. This is a novel (new) virus for which there is currently no cure, vaccine and immunity, and the World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic—which means it is all over the world.

So getting to the truth on this is urgent.

What Is the Coronavirus That Causes COVID-19? How Dangerous Is This Virus?

Most researchers currently believe it came from a virus found in animals that “jumped” to humans. This is a common way that new diseases arise in humans. The first known cases, and where it initially rapidly spread was in Wuhan, China.

The virus is highly contagious, i.e., spreads very easily from an infected person to others, even if the ill person is not showing symptoms. It gets spread through contact with people who have it, through surfaces they have touched or sneezed on, and in other ways.

For most, this illness may be relatively mild—though they can still be infectious and spread to others. But for some people, the virus can cause death or do real harm—especially, but not only, to older people and those who are immune-compromised and with existing respiratory (breathing) illnesses. Those severely ill will need oxygen, ventilators and hospitalization. This will strain existing capacity and incur great expense under this system. Rates of mortality—those who actually die—are very high among those severely ill or hospitalized, in ranges of 10-20% depending on quality of health care. This might not seem like much. When you multiply this out by the tens of millions worldwide who could possibly get sick if the virus is not contained, this poses a great danger—and deaths in the tens or hundreds of thousands to possibly millions in a short time. We are at just the beginning of this pandemic.

Because this virus is potentially so dangerous and so catchable, almost every society is taking measures to limit its spread. In the U.S., cities and businesses are cancelling conferences and basketball games, and sending students home from school. It is important to take action and much of what is being done makes sense.

A Natural Disaster in a System of Savage Inequalities

But what priorities are set and how they impact different sections of people are determined by the system people live under, and what serves that system. In the U.S., we all live under a system built on and full of “savage inequalities.” That system has a name: capitalism-imperialism. Its economy is based on ruthless exploitation and dog-eat-dog competition among the capitalists themselves. The system maintains its power through massive machinery of repression, and through misleading and dividing people. The outlook it drums into people—and requires—is “look out for number one.” Because of all this, rotten health care for the masses is a major problem in this society. And all this plays out in really ugly ways when there is a disaster in society.

To be clear, this virus will reach every corner of society. At the same time, it will almost certainly hit some harder than others. It will hit the elderly everywhere. And when you look at this country, you can almost be sure that this will come down especially hard on Black people and Latinos and Native American Indians… the immigrants… the millions in prison… the millions more who live on the streets and the shelters, or in their cars… the poor and all those who live paycheck to paycheck…

And you can also guess that as this disease hits those parts of the world—Africa, Asia and Latin America—that these imperialists have plundered and held down for centuries, the imperialists will only give them the most pitiful aid, if they give them any at all. What kind of society is this?

Trump and Pence Are Making This Even Worse

Right now, the fascists who are in power—Trump, Pence and the others—are making this even worse. They suppressed and denied the science on this for months, claiming it was a hoax against Trump. They are using it to further whip up hatred against people in other countries—such as Trump saying this is a “foreign” virus. For weeks they have refused to widely test people and only under massive pressure began to promise that they would.

Meanwhile, as the disease spreads, we may face an acute shortage of hospitals and needed medical equipment, a shortage of medical professionals and health workers, and so on. It is very possible that the Trump/Pence regime will use these hardships and the fear that people have of the disease to unleash even more hatred and repression against immigrants, the homeless, and their other targets. We must be prepared to stand with those who fight for decent care and defend our brothers and sisters.

Things Don’t Have to Be This Way

But ask yourself this: Why can’t we have a society in which production was organized to meet the needs of the people? Why can’t we live in a system which moves to break down and heal the scars of oppression for real, instead of reinforcing them, whether openly or through deception? Why can’t we live in a world in which the divisions between people all over the world were being broken down and overcome and we move to a world community of human beings? A world in which natural disasters were times for people to pull together, where the new revolutionary power worked to involve everyone in understanding the problem and figuring out together how to overcome it?

We could. But there needs to be an ACTUAL revolution—overthrowing this system and replacing it with a radically different and far better system and society—for that to happen.

We—the Revolution Club and the National Tour To Get Organized For An ACTUAL Revolution—are about making a revolution, at the soonest possible time. We can do this—there is the leadership for this in Bob Avakian, there is the strategy he’s developed to overcome this system and sweep it away, and there is the blueprint and vision for a whole new society—the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, that Bob Avakian authored.

We are getting out this communiqué as one part of preparing for that revolution. Help get this out to others… let us know what comes up when you do and what needs to be investigated and spoken to… be part of this movement. And learn more about this movement for an actual revolution at www.revcom.us.

Posted in HealthComments Off on Real Truth on the Coronavirus: What It Is and How to Confront It

Sheldon Adelson keeps casinos open despite coronavirus danger

Sheldon Adelson keeps casinos open despite coronavirus danger

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson (source)

While other major Las Vegas casinos are following health recommendations that they close to protect employees and the public from the coronavirus pandemic, Sheldon Adelson is keeping his casinos open. Adelson’s profits are often used to promote pro-Israel policies through millions of dollars of donations to political candidates.

By Alison Weir

Bloomberg news reports that while other major Las Vegas casinos have closed to protect employees and the public from the coronavirus pandemic, Sheldon Adelson is keeping his casinos open.

[UPDATE: Adelson finally closed his casinos on March 19th, after the governor ordered casinos to close.]

According to Casino.org: “From the Strip to New England to the Midwest to California, commercial and tribal operators announced over the weekend they’d either voluntarily close casinos or do so to comply with state government orders barring large gatherings.”

On Monday President Trump called for Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and the Nevada governor ordered schools and state offices to close.

Unlike governors elsewhere, the order did not include casinos, a powerful force in Nevada. However, the governor asked local governments to enforce a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline that all events with attendance above 50 be canceled or postponed.

Adelson’s billions used on behalf of Israel

Adelson is known for using his casino profits to obtain US policies beneficial for Israel by donating to American candidates for office. Adelson’s net worth is in the range of $37 billion.

In recent years, Adelson and his wife Miriam, an Israeli citizen, gave $205.83 million to Republican campaign efforts.

The Adelsons are credited with Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem (after both Republican and Democratic  presidents had long kept it in Tel Aviv), Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, and the recent Trump-Kushner “peace plan.”

Adelson is a fervent advocate for Israel despite its long record of human rights violations and violations of U.S. lawsdocumented by Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross, Foreign Service Journal, and others.

He once infamously announced that he regretted serving in the U.S. army rather than the Israeli military.

Similarly, Miriam Adelson has said that her heart has always remained in Israel, but she got “stuck” in America after meeting Adelson.

In 2018 Trump bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the couple for their “philanthropic work.”

While the Adelsons have donated to medical research and programs addressing drug addition (but apparently not gambling addiction, disastrous for many Americans), it appears that the bulk of their philanthropy involves Israel. Inside Philanthropy reports:

“The Adelson Family Foundation, one of Adelson’s philanthropic vehicles, is concerned with Jewish causes around the world. Adelson takes a decidedly pro-Israel stance, which is reflected in his and his wife Miriam’s philanthropy. The foundation supports charitable organizations located primarily in Israel and the United States, with funds going to Israel Advocacy and Defense, Israel Studies, Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Awareness, among others.

“Birthright Israel is a major grantee. The couple via their foundation have given tens of millions to the organization. Another youth outfit that the Adelsons have funded is B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. The Adelsons founded the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas, “the only school in Nevada built on the Jewish ethos of community, service, innovation and discourse.” The school offers classes for students aged 18 months through 12th grade. Other education grantees include a mix of Israel and U.S. outfits, including American Friends of Ariel University, which supports Ariel University in Israel, and Rashi School in the Boston Area. Adelson funds a number of agencies that aim to shift policy and attitudes around Israel and the Jewish people, including Christians United for Israel, “an American pro-Israel Christian organization that defines itself as “a national grassroots movement focused on the support of Israel.” Sheldon and Miriam have also given millions to SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit founded by three young engineers at the end of 2010, answering the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge.”

Trump had been scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the Adelsons’ Las Vegas mansion on Thursday, but called this off due to the pandemic. He had also been planning to address the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting at Adelsons’ Sands’ Venetian casino resort.

Scheduled for Adelson’s Venetian and Palazzo resorts, the three-day meeting was expected to include numerous conservative politicians and leaders. Tickets began at $1,00 and were only available for current members of the RJC National Leadership. Adelson is on the RJC board.

The RJC announces that it “stands with Israel.” While the RJC states, “Hamas has sent hundreds of missiles from Gaza against Israeli civilians in recent days,” it fails to report that these mostly homemade rockets came after massive Israeli violence. Rockets from Gaza have killed about 29 Israelis in total, while Israeli airstrikes have killed over 3,500 Gazans.


Related:

Secretive Adelson-Saban Summit Raised Millions to Fight BDS

Guardian: Meet Dr Miriam Adelson: the record-breaking Republican donor driving Trump’s Israel policy

Sheldon Adelson’s $82 million+ donation bought U.S. Israel policies

Sheldon Adelson-backed pro-Israel campus initiative to operate on 80 campuses

Posted in USAComments Off on Sheldon Adelson keeps casinos open despite coronavirus danger

US Army working to develop COVID-19 vaccines as force preps its response

US Army working to develop COVID-19 vaccines as force preps its response

by Army News Service

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases are aiding in the development of five separate COVID-19 vaccines, Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy announced Thursday.

In support of the federal government’s plan to combat the virus, the Army received an additional $900 million in funding to help prevent, detect, and treat the disease, McCarthy said.

“We got to spend a few hours with extraordinary Americans who are at the forefront of this fight. We are giving them all the resources that they can try … to help knock down any roadblocks in their path,” McCarthy said about his visit to Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The Army is doing all it can to assist the global medical community as they work together to defeat COVID-19, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said. The force is also monitoring several dozen vaccine candidates that are currently under development by the public and private sectors.

“The heroes are in this fight. These scientists are working to find a vaccination … working to find the drugs for treatment … and are aggressively increasing the capacity of our testing capabilities,” McConville said.

During their visit to USAMRDC and USAMRIID, the Army’s top leaders witnessed the force’s ongoing effort to fight against the disease, McCarthy said. Army leaders also received an update on the first Soldier to come down with the virus in South Korea.

While McCarthy did not share the information about the Soldier’s current condition, he did indicate that the virus has put him and his family under a lot of stress.

PREPARING TO FIGHT
Currently, the National Guard is assisting the states as the active-duty force aligns its personnel and resources for when it is called upon to support, McConville said.

The Army is prepared to provide Army medical support to civilian communities, McConville said.

Deployable Army medical units “were designed for combat-type operations … not designed for infectious diseases,” McConville said. Expeditionary military medical capabilities can help take some of the load off, “allowing the civilian hospitals to focus on the issue.”

Army leaders are also working to mitigate risk, McConville said. The majority of the Guard and Army Reserve’s medical personnel are already working in their communities to combat COVID-19.

“If we call them up, the Reserves, we may be taking them out of the very communities that we’re trying to help,” McConville said.

Along with the Army’s effort to support the medical field, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently working with four state governors, including the governor of New York, to develop alternative hospital facilities.

“We are offering these governors options,” McConville said. “We think the fastest way is to take hotels and dormitories that are available and re-scope them” into medical facilities.

Altering a pre-existing facility to support the Army’s mission is not uncommon, McConville said. During World War II, for example, the Army used the Greenbrier hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, as a Soldier surgery and rehabilitation center.

“Large open tents are not the best place to put people with infectious diseases,” McConville said. “We are giving (the governors) some options that they can work with.”

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on US Army working to develop COVID-19 vaccines as force preps its response

Coronavirus challenges US military machine

Coronavirus challenges US military machine

by Agence France-Presse

The US retreat from Afghanistan is delayed, troops have pulled back from Iraq, crucial readiness exercises are cancelled, and soldiers are confined to bases: coronavirus is handicapping the world’s most powerful military.

The Pentagon this week admitted that the global pandemic is a formidable foe like none other that it has confronted.

Proud of its ability to project force to the furthest corners of the globe and to react instantly to any threat, the US military has been forced to curb operations and promote social distancing to ensure its two million-plus active and reserve fighting force, along with hundreds of thousands of civilian employees, stay healthy.

The usually crowded halls of the Pentagon have thinned, with thousands told to work from home — a shift that has introduced new security challenges.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his deputy secretary, David Norquist, and their staffs are no longer meeting in person, to ensure at least one national leader and his team stays healthy.

Redeploying
Despite dozens of coronavirus cases striking military personnel on bases and at least three on naval ships, Esper said this week that there was no reduction in the readiness of US troops to respond to threats.

“Mission number one for the United States military remains ensuring that the American people, the country and our interests abroad are protected. I can assure the American people we are well on top of that,” he said on Fox News.

But regular operations have been disrupted.

The Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, said it is “redeploying” troops from Iraq and Syria.

“To prevent potential spread of COVID-19, the Iraqi Security Forces have suspended all training. As a result, the Coalition will temporarily return some of its training-focused forces to their own countries in the coming days and weeks,” Centcom said in a statement.

Centcom also pulled back troops from some of the smaller bases in Iraq, where they were more vulnerable to the recent rocket attacks by pro-Iranian militias.

Even as they continue the fight against the Islamic State group, “looking ahead, we anticipate the Coalition supporting the Iraqi Security Forces from fewer bases with fewer people,” they said.

On the other hand, in Afghanistan, where the United States has committed to withdrawing some 5,000 troops in the near term as part of the peace deal with the Taliban, troop movements have halted.

The Pentagon does not want to risk moving people around the world in ways that could increase COVID-19 infections.

“To preserve our currently healthy force, Resolute Support is making the necessary adjustments to temporarily pause personnel movement into theater,” said General Austin Miller, US forces commander in Afghanistan.

War games cancelled
Esper has also been forced to suspend key joint exercises and war games in South Korea, Africa and elsewhere.

On March 11, the Pentagon decided to slash its participation in what would have been the largest joint US-Europe war games in 25 years, the Defender-Europe 20 exercise.

The US military was to send more than 20,000 soldiers to Europe to take part.

The exercise will go ahead, but has now been cut by more than half, according to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

At its hundreds of military bases across the country and around the world, US forces are prevented from traveling and outsiders are carefully screened before being allowed entry.

Soldiers, sailors, and airmen remain living in close quarters, and Esper said they will continue to hold large gatherings for training as needed “at this time,” Esper said this week.

“I trust the commanders to lead their units and take care of them appropriately,” he said.

“My view is the commanders have the authorities they need to take whatever precautions, while at the same time ensuring the readiness of the troops and the capabilities of our formations.”

Travel between bases, domestically and internationally, has nevertheless been banned, even for family visits.

Enemies affected
Also hobbled: the recruitment of new troops, an activity that normally accelerates at this time of year as students near the completion of their studies.

“We are going to, basically, virtual recruiting,” said General James McConville, the Army chief of staff.

“Much of that is done on social media and that allows us to protect our soldiers and also protect the new recruits,” he said.

While clearly constrained by the pandemic, the Pentagon has played down its impact, noting that its adversaries face the same challenge.

“They’re very, very concerned about this virus also in Iraq, in Afghanistan, certainly in Iran,” said McConville.

“And that’s affecting everyone’s operations.”

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on Coronavirus challenges US military machine

Covid-19 will overwhelm London hospitals this weekend

Staff sickness rates of 50% will contribute to a much worse situation for patients desperately in need of the best care.

By Jim W. Dean, Managing Editor –

Hospitals will be overwhelmed in a few days as staff sickness rates rise.

[ Editor’s Note: When the after action reports are done on the Covid pandemic, at the top of the list will be the charge that not even having enough protective gear in storage to protect the medical staff and first responders will be the hardest one to talk away. The cost would have been doable compared to the financial crushing blow in the pipeline now.

But that said, the British National Health system has be under strain for some time, and with lots of news coverage about it. Setting aside funds for rainy day events is not easy politically when people are screaming for it for current needs.

Even the Nazi Zionist regime finds itself in a similar situation with today’s internal government report to expect up to 40,000 dead before it is over. And sadly that will include a share of the health care workers.

New York Orthodox Jews escaping from New York City were found to have Covid among many on the flights. They may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

We can expect to see the “triage” word in next week’s news as demand outstrips supply when not everyone will be able to get the maximum effort care.

So far Germany is an anomaly with most of the infected people being younger and contributing to the low death rate. But the nursing homes and assisted living facilities will become infected via their respective staffs unless tight discipline is in place, but their staff will be down the priority line on getting protective equipment.

Parliament at dusk

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospital bosses, asserts some hospitals in London have become inundated with a “continuous tsunami” of coronavirus patients and are likely to be overwhelmed within days.

Despite hospitals having expanded critical care capacity between five and sevenfold in the last weeks the rate at which beds are filling up in London has alarmed hospital CEOs, Hopson stated.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said:

“They are struggling with the explosion of demand in seriously ill patients. They are saying it’s the number arriving and the speed with which they are arriving and how ill they are. They talk about wave after wave after wave. The words that are used to me are that it’s a continuous tsunami. As one said to me, it’s much bigger and large numbers with a greater degree of stretch than you can ever have possibly imagined.

“The CEOs are concerned that all that extra capacity is now being used up very, very quickly. We’ve got the surge capacity at the ExCel centre but this is filling up very quickly.”

He said this was forming a “wicked combination” with the problem of up to 50% staff sickness rates in some trusts, which is “an unprecedented absence rate”.

Earlier, he tweeted that the surge in demand for coronavirus treatment was “off the scale” in London already and it was “evident that a number of hospitals are on a trajectory where their critical care capacity will become full within a few days”.

He added: “London CEOs saying they urgently want a lot more of everything – staff, ventilators, critical care capacity, PPE, testing capacity – but they recognise that their job is to do absolutely the best with what they have got and that’s what they are focused on.”

Earlier this week a study by doctors warned that hospitals in England will run short of critical care beds for Covid-19 patients within the next fortnight if the numbers becoming severely ill reach those experienced in Italy.

A team at the University of Cambridge, in a paper published on Tuesday, concluded that five of the seven NHS commissioning regions will not have sufficient beds available in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) to deal with the rapid influx of Covid-19 patients requiring critical care within two weeks.

Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, who is advising the government, however opined, very optimistically, on Thursday that the NHS will manage to get through the crisis without being totally overwhelmed.

“We are going to have a very difficult few weeks but we think overall with the capacity being rapidly put in place that whilst the health system will be stressed it won’t break,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, has said that Labour finds it worrying that doctors and nurses were so short of protective equipment that some were resorting to sourcing goggles and masks from DIY stores.

Edward Argar, the health minister, defended the government’s ability to protect NHS staff, insisting that “masses of supplies” were being distributed by the army around the clock.

He insisted that testing for NHS staff was coming on stream in the weeks to come, following criticism that the government has been slow to ramp it up from around 6,000 a day up to a target of 25,000.

Who knows how many frontline NHS personnel, highly skilled medical professionals, doctors, nurses and technicians, may contract Covid-19 and perish within the “weeks to come”, as the Right Honourable Health Minister, Edward Argar, put it.

Posted in Health, UKComments Off on Covid-19 will overwhelm London hospitals this weekend

Ansarallah leader promises new surprises in 6th year of Yemeni War

The leader of the Ansarallah Movement, Sayyed Abdel-Malik Al-Houthi, said on Thursday that he promises the Arab and Saudi Zio-Wahhabi alliances will witness new “advanced military capabilities.”

In his speech that was shown on Yemen’s Al-Masirah TV, the Ansarallah leader said: “The military capabilities and operations took an upward path, culminating in major field achievements and important results.”

“Most of the tracks started from scratch to the square of victories, stabilizing equations and imposing a balance of deterrence,” he continued.

The Ansarallah leader said that there is more to come in the sixth year of the Yemeni war, including new surprises for the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi led Coalition.

“The continued development of military capabilities was a miracle,” he said.

Sayyed Houthi pointed out that the coalition should take advantage of its failures in all fields and quit the war.

“The general evaluation and studies confirm that the economic losses of the Saudi regime are great and its ambitions have failed,” he added.

Posted in YemenComments Off on Ansarallah leader promises new surprises in 6th year of Yemeni War

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