Archive | April 3rd, 2020

Critical Shortage of Ventilators and Protective Gear Persists

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research,

Governor of hard-hit NY state Anthony Cuomo stressed that if a patient “needs a ventilator” and they’re all in use because of an insufficient supply, “the person dies” from suffocation.

That’s the disturbing reality of a critical national shortage at a time when they’re vitally needed.

As daily COVID-19 infections increase exponentially in the US, numbers on Friday will way exceed 250,000 by day’s end.

Medical workers on the front lines of treating the sick are most vulnerable to become infected.

On Thursday, National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest RN union, addressed Trump by letter, saying the following:

“Across the nation, our health care workforce does not have the personal protective equipment it needs to safely care for patients without risking exposure to the virus,” adding:

“As a result, health care workers are at risk of illness and death, which puts our entire health care system at risk of collapse.”

“Further, when health care workers are exposed to the virus, they risk transmitting the virus to their families, patients, and communities.”

“If our country fails to immediately protect our health care workers, we will fail to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.”

By invoking the Defense Production Act, Trump can order companies to produce ventilators, personal protective gear, and whatever else is needed for medical staff to treat COVID-19 patients.

He barely used it. Last Friday for the first time, He called on General Motors to produce ventilators, what it’s gearing up to do anyway.

For the most part, he chose to let the private sector decide how and to what extent it’ll deal with the COVID-19 crisis to produce equipment, gear, and medications needed.

True enough, factories can’t covert from producing cars or appliances to medical supplies overnight.

During WW I and II, US auto makers shifted from passenger cars to aircraft, tanks and guns to support the war effort.

A similar approach is needed now to wage war on and defeat COVID-19.

It includes mass-producing COVID-19 test kits, providing medical staff with needed supplies, treating infected individuals, feeding the hungry and food insecure, and providing households with helicopter money to get by.

Instead of a national coordinated effort to deal with the public health crisis, directed by the Trump regime, governors in the 50 states are left to cope with it on their own.

They’re forced to compete for scarce supplies, trying to outbid each other to get what’s needed, an untenable situation.US Shortage of Ventilators for Patients and Protective Gear for Healthcare Workers

National Nurses United called for the Trump regime to order mass production of essential equipment and supplies needed to wage war on COVID-19 — as authorized under Title III of the Defense Production Act.

NNU also urged the White House to immediately release and distribute from the strategic national stockpile large numbers ventilators, PPE, testing equipment, and life-support ECMO machines that are used for patients with life-threatening conditions like severe lung damage from infection.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported medical staff on the frontlines of treating COVID-19 patients are “frustrated that they’re being sent into a deadly battle without the protective gear they need for themselves and their patients.”

Things are especially dire in NYC where over 90,000 infections were reported and over 1,000 deaths, including seven medical workers.

American College of Emergency Physicians board member Dr. Ryan Stanton expressed frustration, saying:

“We are the richest country in the world, and yet we can’t protect our health-care providers when fighting the deadliest virus we’ve dealt with in most of our lifetimes,” adding:

“There’s a significant level of distrust with physicians and nurses and others because we feel the requirements and suggestions for PPE are being downgraded because of availability and not because of science.”

While most Americans shelter in place at home, medical staff show up daily on the job to treat sick patients.

On Tuesday, executive director Henry Garrido of District Council 37, representing emergency medics, nurses’ aides,  respiratory therapists and other NYC public workers, said the following:

“Our members are exhausted. They are scared. (But) (t)hey continue to soldier on.”

NYC registered nurse Karine Raymond said because conditions are worsening without let-up, she’s seriously thinking of writing her will.

“Nurses aren’t going to walk out,” she said.  “We’re very realistic. We’re doing the best we can.”

“We’re trying hard to try and help these poor souls without unduly opening ourselves up to anything dangerous. If we go down, then there’s nobody left to care for the patients, is there?”

According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, around half of NYC hospitals reported that they’re critically short of respirators, masks, hand sanitizers, and other essential items needed to treat COVID-19 and other patients.

Rochester, NY UR Medicine’s director of infection equipment Ann Marie Pettis said

“(o)ur days are spent frantically searching for personal protective equipment,” adding:

Staff is forced to re-use single use items. “(T)his goes against everything we have known from the scientific evidence and what we have always taught our staff.”

Hospitals in the US nationwide face similar conditions that jeopardize medical staff and patients.

On Friday, a Lancet medical journal editorial slammed the US healthcare system, saying:

“The USA is a stark reminder of the divide that exists in countries without a universal health-care system.”

“For people who do not have private medical insurance, (the COVID-19 crisis) might see them face the choice of devastating financial hardship or poor health outcomes, or both.”

During 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreaks in the US, “individuals with poorer health outcomes were those in the lowest socioeconomic groups.”

“This same group of vulnerable people have now been caught in the middle of a major health emergency as a result of long-standing differences in affluence.”

America’s poor and low-income are most vulnerable to be harmed economically, financially, and health-wise at all times in the US, especially at times like now.

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Official Figures: COVID-19 Yet to Impact Europe’s Overall Mortality

Year-to-date statistics show excess mortality lower than previous years

By OffGuardian

Global Research,

The official figures for 24 countries across Europe show, not only that overall mortality is not increasing, but – so far – it is actually well below recent averages.

The statistics were gathered by the European Monitoring of Excess Mortality for Public Health Action (EuroMOMO), an international partnership of agencies from 24 European nations aiming to promote preparedness for public health emergencies.

They track “excess mortality”, meaning the number of officially recorded deaths vs the average death rate.

We recommend you check their website, where each country is broken down by age demographics. Today, we’re focusing on their maps.

Here is the map showing Europe’s excess mortality for Week 12 of 2020 (19th-25th March):

MOMO Europe mortality, week 12 2020

As you can see, currently, the vast majority of Europe shows “no excess”. That means deaths are either at or below expected levels. Italy is the one obvious exception. But note it is only on “high”, not “very high”.

For some context, maybe we should compare it to previous years.

Here is week 6 of 2019:

As unemployment soars, child labour returns to Europe

MOMO Europe mortality, week 6 2019

As you can see, it’s generally much worse. Several countries in “above average”, Spain and Portugal on “high”, and France is even “very high”.

We didn’t have a global lockdown in 2019.

Here are weeks 1 & 2 of 2018:

MOMO Europe mortality, week 1 2018

MOMO Europe mortality, week 2 2018

This was the height of the huge 2017/18 flu season. As you can see, Europe was greatly affected.

We didn’t have a global lockdown in 2018.

Week 2 of 2017 was even worse:

MOMO Europe mortality, week 2 2017

The whole of Western Europe experienced a huge spike in excess mortality, especially bad in all the Mediterranean countries.

We didn’t have a global lockdown in 2017.

Obviously, things may change (week 13’s results are due tomorrow), but – as it stands – the 2020 figures are substantially lower than the previous three years.

So, the question is, if we didn’t have a lockdown in 2017, and we didn’t have a lockdown in 2018, and we didn’t have a lockdown in 2019….why do we have a lockdown now?

Posted in Europe, HealthComments Off on Official Figures: COVID-19 Yet to Impact Europe’s Overall Mortality

The Bigger Picture Is Hiding Behind A Virus

By Global Research News

Global Research,

*     *     *

Critical Shortage of Ventilators and Protective Gear Persists

By Stephen Lendman,

Governor of hard-hit NY state Anthony Cuomo stressed that if a patient “needs a ventilator” and they’re all in use because of an insufficient supply, “the person dies” from suffocation.

That’s the disturbing reality of a critical national shortage at a time when they’re vitally needed.

As daily COVID-19 infections increase exponentially in the US, numbers on Friday will way exceed 250,000 by day’s end.

Can We Trust the WHO?

By F. William Engdahl,

The most influential organization in the world with nominal responsibility for global health and epidemic issues is the United Nations’ World Health Organization, WHO, based in Geneva. What few know is the actual mechanisms of its political control, the shocking conflicts of interest, corruption and lack of transparency that permeate the agency that is supposed to be the impartial guide for getting through the current COVID-19 pandemic. The following is only part of what has come to public light.

COVID-19: Cover for Military Attack on Iran and Iraq?

By Kurt Nimmo,

Now that the American people are consumed with fear and loathing of an overblown virus “pandemic,” the neocons around Trump see a chance to finally and decisively deal with Iran—not simply by blocking humanitarian aid but also piling on more sanctions and, possibly within a matter of days or weeks, attacking Shi’a militias in Iraq and possibly launching a long-promised direct military attack on Iran proper. 

The Bigger Picture Is Hiding Behind a Virus

By Jonathan Cook,

Under cover of the public’s fear, and of justified concerns about the state of the economy and future employment, countries like the US are transferring huge sums of public money to the biggest corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny – and for reasons that should be self-explanatory. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down.

Why Did Russia Just Halt Domestic Gold Purchases?

By Zero Hedge,

In recent years, as Kitco notes, the Russian central bank has dominated the gold market, consistently increasing its gold reserves every month for the last three years. According to data from the World Gold Council, the Russian central bank bought 158.1 tons last year. The WGC data shows that the central bank bought 8.1 tons of gold in January.

New York Fed December 2019 Plans to Throw $2.93 Trillion at Wall Street’s Trading Houses

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens,

The New York Fed’s repo (repurchase agreement) loan program began on September 17 when repo loan rates spiked from approximately 2 percent to 10 percent – meaning either liquid funds were not available to loan or the mega banks on Wall Street were backing away from lending to certain counterparties. Repo loans are typically between banks, hedge funds and money market funds on an overnight basis and are made against good-quality collateral. Since that time, the New York Fed has been making these loans to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars weekly.

10 Signs the U.S. Is Heading for a Depression

By Mike Whitney,

Thursday’s jobless claims leave no doubt that the country is in the grips of another severe recession. More than 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance in the last week. That number exceeds the gloomiest prediction of more than 40 economists and pushes the two-week total to an eye-watering 10 million claims.

China Rolls Out the Health Silk Road

By Pepe Escobar,

When President Xi Jinping was on a phone call in mid-March with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti, before the arrival of a China Eastern flight from Shanghai to Milan full of medical help, the key takeaway was the Chinese pledge to develop a Health Silk Road (Jiankang Sichou Zhilu).

That was in fact already inbuilt in the Belt and Road Initiative playbook since at least 2017, under the framework of enhanced, pan-Eurasian health connectivity. The pandemic only accelerated the timeline. The Health Silk Road will run in parallel to the multiple overland Silk Road corridors and the Maritime Silk Road.

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Can “Coronavirus Diplomacy” Bring the European Union (EU) Closer to Eurasia?

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

The European Union (EU) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), an association of post-Soviet states, effectively serve a similar function to each other as an economic bloc. Unlike the 27-member EU, the EEU has only 5-members as many post-Soviet states allege it is nothing but an attempt to revive the Soviet Union, which the countries of the West do not want to promote. The West’s resistance has brought no economic benefit to it and this geopolitical duel was reflected in the limited success of sanctions against Russia. However, the credibility of the EU and the liberal orders continues to diminish as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, the coronavirus pandemic actually creates a unique opportunity for the EU and EEU to integrate into a single system, or at least move closer together.

Russia’s dominance of the EEU is both a positive and a negative for Eurasian integration. Russia’s large market forms the basis of the integration potential of the EEU, however, limited economic growth, sanctions and its participation in global geopolitics create risks for the Eurasian integration process. However, Eurasian integration would be in the interest of EU as it will connect European states to new markets in Central and East Asia far more efficiently and quickly then by other means. The EU claims that it works towards common markets and efficiency but does not seriously consider connecting Lisbon on the Atlantic Ocean to Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean.

The EU is losing its position as a top trading partner of the EEU, and it’s not just because of China’s growing importance. As a trading partner of the EEU, China has already surpassed most of Europe. The role of the EU as a trading partner of the whole EEU is due to the important role of the EU for Russia. However, Russia has been slowly turning eastward from the EU for years now as the future leading economies of the world will shift from the West to Asia.

Coronavirus is certainly accelerating this reality as the entirety of the Anglosphere and Western Europe head towards a severe recession unable to handle the economic pressures of the pandemic. This pandemic and economic downturn effectively means that only China and Russia will compete for investments in the extremely resource rich Central Asia. As EU economies begin to recover in the aftermath of the coronavirus and their energy demands are not being met access to Central Asia may become a priority. Ironically, Russia is the only means for the EU to enter the markets of the post-Soviet countries outside of Eastern Europe. Therefore, with the liberal order severely damaged in the face of coronavirus, it will have to be acknowledged in the West that the EEU project as a whole is a force for good and the EU will have to admit it made a mistake by not initially recognizing the EEU.

With this in mind, the EU must show independent foreign policy and resolve its disputes with Russia, even if Washington insists on enacting hostiles relations with Moscow. As the EU originally began as an economic union without much of a political nature, by returning to their roots will mean naturally a change in foreign policy. If the economy is the concentrated expression of politics, then mutual economic interests should be the foundation of reconciliation between Brussels and Moscow.

French President Emmanuel Macron is one of the leading voices in normalizing relations with Russia, despite his harsh rhetoric against Moscow time to time. Let’s consider Macron’s Facebook post from last year where he said

“progress on many political and economic issues is evident, for we’re trying to develop Franco-Russian relations. I’m convinced that, in this multilateral restructuring, we must develop a security and trust architecture between the European Union and Russia.”

With Macron stressing that Russia is part of Europe, he expanded on General de Gaulle’s famous phrase that Europe stretches “from Lisbon to the Urals,” to say that Europe extended to Vladivostok, close to the North Korean border. Macron is one of the most powerful voices in Europe and strongly endorses a weakening of U.S. influence in Europe through various means, including criticism of NATO and suggestion to have it replaced with a European military.

The EEU’s vision of Lisbon to Vladivostok as a common space is the best way to avoid a crisis on the Eurasian landmass. For countries like Ukraine who are stuck between both East and West, the integration of the EU and EEU would actually serve as a stabilizing factor. Therefore, as the coronavirus has exposed weaknesses in the liberal globalized order, an opportunity has actually emerged where the EU and EEU can more closely align and integrate.

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The Failure of Intellectuals to Analyze the Worldwide Economic and Social Crisis: “Sapere aude!” – “Dare to be Wise!”

By Dr. Rudolf Hänsel

Global Research,

The events of the last century as well as today reveal that not only the “simple” people fail in the resistance against totalitarianism and fascism. Intellectuals, too, fail to live up to their responsibility despite an academic education and the opportunity to gain insight into political, economic and socio-psychological contexts. The current worldwide exceptional situation, the deliberately created panic, the disproportionate restriction of civil liberties, the selection of elderly and sick fellow citizens and the economic crash landing, which will drive millions of people into unemployment and hopelessness, hunger and finally to death, requires of us all most urgently to be wise, to distinguish between truth and lie and to act accordingly.

“Have the courage to use your own intellect!”

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Age of Enlightenment, people began to free themselves from medieval thinking. From then on, human affairs were to be guided primarily by human reason. The individual was to free himself from narrow-mindedness, credulity and arbitrary authority, and personal freedom of action (emancipation) was to be extended.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant defined “Enlightenment” in the year 1784 as follows: “Enlightenment is man’s exit from his self-inflicted immaturity. Immaturity is the inability of his mind without the direction of another.” According to Kant, the immaturity of man is then self-inflicted when it is not a lack of understanding that is the reason, but the fear of using one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. Kant coined the motto of the Enlightenment: “Sapere aude!”, which means “Dare to know”, or as Kant explained it: “Have the courage to use your own intellect!” Enlightenment is therefore the maxim to think for oneself at all times.

But why do people often remain underage throughout their lives – and this also even though they have long since grown up and would be able to think for themselves? Kant said the reason is laziness and cowardice. Being underage is comfortable and independent thinking is a “grumpy business”. So it would be easy for others, Kant said, to become “guardians” of these underage people. These guardians would also do everything to make sure that the underage people do not only find the step to maturity arduous but also dangerous.

Underage behavior today

Have we today, in the 21st century, already shed this underage behavior? What about our courage to think for ourselves in the present uncertain situation? Is it not more comfortable for a spoiled and lazy person to make use of the guidance of an authority or a leader, to be in harmony with a supposedly powerful person and his mass media and to belong to the circle of his court vestments? He is then always on the “right” side. Doubts and moral scruples do not then oppress him, since he can always refer to the supposedly infallible power.

It is difficult to think for oneself and to be responsible for the consequences of such mature behavior. Doubts overtake the seeker of truth, the nightly sleep becomes restless. If a self-thinking person then also comes to unpleasant truths that are in conflict with the powerful and with political correctness, previous companions quickly turn away from him. The result of this courage can be loneliness. Loneliness, however, not in the sense of being alone, but in the sense of refusing dialogue.

The German-Jewish professor and writer Hannah Arendt experienced such a refusal in connection with a journalistic slander campaign following the publication of her report on the Eichmann trial in 1961: “Eichmann in Jerusalem. A report of the banality of evil”. For her this experienced refusal of dialogue was “the extreme form of human misery”(p. 34).

Do what? Think for yourself at all times!

Every individual has to contribute to the solution of the urgent problems of our time. And of course we are able to do so when we are aware that it depends on each and every one of us. Why not have the courage to make use of your own intellect, have the courage not to suppress the monstrousness of today, but to really and to stand up against it – intellectually,  emotionally, politically. In the face of all odds, have the determination to find the truth and thus to preserve the dignity as a human being. Overcoming the inertia of the heart and acting.

According to Albert Camus, every person has a more or less large sphere of influence. The Swiss writer Gottfried Keller (1819-1890) put it this way: “No government and no battalions (…) are able to protect law and freedom where the citizen is not able to come to the front door himself and see what is there”. (Zürich short stories)

The upbringing of the adolescent at home and at school is very important for development of such responsible behavior in the adult age of elementary importance. The basis is an education of conscience and a sustainable education in values and virtues from early childhood on. What every society urgently needs in order to be able to cope with the future well and to shape it in a self-determined way are responsible fellow citizens who take responsibility for the general welfare of the people.

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The Contradictions of American Warfare: Good Karma, Bad Karma… Always Karma

By Philip A Farruggio

Global Research,

The old adage should say: Nothing is certain but death and taxes… and Karma. Karma is as real as it gets. The various holy books made sure to state that ‘What ye sow so shall ye reap’ AKA ‘What goes around comes around.’ Karma has many flavors, but the end result is always the same: What one does will eventually come back to revisit in some form or manner. 

In 1914 the whole of Europe and parts extended were in a world war. This war was not what was advertised as ‘Good vs. Evil’. No, it was a war between major imperialist, colonialist nations for increased power and control.

The propaganda was such that the USA got itself involved to back up our British ally, or should I say our British ‘Big brother’ at the time. The negative energy generated by this ghastly war saw millions of young men (and women) dead, with devastating physical destruction throughout the region. As it is with major weather changes, energy, which can be positive or negative, does influence our atmosphere… for good or for bad. Well, the Spanish Flu from 1918-20 saw 500 million people infected, as the war had already reached its devastating peak. Coincidence, or an expression of Bad Karma? That war was not at all what many historians like to classify as ‘Just War’. It was simply a power grab war initiated by one group of super rich against another. Period!

My nation has had such Bad Karma going back to what we did to the Native Americans and then to the Mexicans, as we gobbled up their lands. Think about this: Who now owns and operates (with help from the super rich corporations) most of the gambling casinos nationwide? The Indians! All those problems with the undocumented (AKA ‘Illegal Aliens’) center around areas that were part of our imperialist ‘Manifest Destiny’. These actions were in lands that were once Mexican: Lower California, New Mexico, Arizona and of course, the home of the Alamo, Texas. Karma dictates that we took their lands by force and now we have to deal with those people, like it or not! We dropped two A-Bombs on Japan, unnecessarily, occupied that country, and then THEY outcompeted us as economic adversaries for years to come. Which of the two countries made the better cars being driven in the USA during the 60s, 70s and right into the present time: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler… or Honda, Toyota and Nissan?

If one wants to speak about Bad Karma, just look back to 2002- 2003 and our most disgraceful, illegal and immoral invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Our nation’s economy and moral compass are still reverberating from those heinous deeds, which still eat up over HALF of our federal taxes  going for military spending.That was the start of the Bad Karma created by ourselves and our NATO partners in crime. Then, factor in the horrendous carpet bombing of Libya and our excursion into Syria, and you have the present day refugee crisis that is affecting Europe and the Middle East. One additional outgrowth of this has been the rise of  tremendous Neo Nazi right wing movements throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and even the Southern Hemisphere. Who has been the greatest ‘kick starter’ for this Bad Karma? As Sinclair Lewis put it so succinctly: “Fascism will come to America wrapped in a flag”. Others later on added “…. and carrying a cross.” The bottom line is that this incessant American exceptionalism has been the rallying point for the Super Rich who run things to hammer home to their minions. Thus, WE are the mess that We created with Bad Karma.

The new pandemic that the entire world is suffering from slowly reached our shores. Another example of Bad Karma is how this current administration manhandled things from the get go. Instead of preparing to better protect its citizens, especially the front line medical and hospital community, our (so called) leaders called it a HOAX for weeks on end… while the Chinese and Russians practiced due diligence.

Imagine if Amerika had stocked up on protective masks, ventilators, hand washing solutions and of course medicines that the Chinese found to be helpful. Imagine if, at the very beginning of this Pandemic USA, our Congress and administration would have instituted what the Universal Basic Income advocates were trumpeting for years? Then, by today April 2nd 2020 the FED would have created checks of $ 1000 per citizen per month, in addition to extended unemployment insurance and loans to small business. Funny how, when the Sub Prime bubble burst in 2008, despite the right wing wolves’ threats about our terrible deficit, the FED  electronically created the money to bail out the banks. Once again, they have electronically  created the money for this stimulus. Yet, when Bernie Sanders and millions of others have been calling for Medicare for All… they yell ‘ We can’t afford it!!’

So, as our citizens are dying for lack of proper care, and ditto our economy, the Bad Karma keeps on rolling along. Time for the mega millions of us to start taking control of the conversation and create some Good Karma.

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The War on Yemen, 100,000 Deaths, A Crisis Ignored by Mainstream Media Due to Coronavirus Coverage

By Lucas Leiroz de Almeida

Global Research,

The world pays constant attention to the coronavirus, occupying the news agencies with a high coverage of the pandemic. Meanwhile, on the global periphery, geopolitics continues at full throttle, with several conflicts occurring unnoticed by most people outside the affected regions. The case of Yemen is a clear example of what we are talking about here. Recently, the conflict in the country completed five years of uninterrupted fighting, reaching the regrettable marks of more than 10,000 killed in the confrontation, in addition to almost 100,000 killed by the social ills caused by the war, such as hunger, mainly among children. The poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula has become a strategic area in strong dispute and a real geopolitical thermometer for Middle East tensions, especially between the two regional powers most involved in the conflict, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which are increasing their rivalry day after day.

The most noteworthy attitude is that of Saudi Arabia, which, aligned with the western axis, has been taking increasingly aggressive stances in the country, causing unnecessary suffering to the local population and prolonging the terror and fear in the region. Human Rights Watch data show that Saudi Arabia has been behind fundamental rights abuses against the Yemeni population, especially in the al-Mahrah region, since at least June last year, when such crimes began to be investigated. HRW Middle East Director Michael Page stated in an interview with PressTV:

“Saudi forces and their Yemeni allies’ serious abuses against local-Mahrah residents is another horror to add to the list of the Saudi-led coalition’s unlawful conduct in Yemen (…) Saudi Arabia is severely harming its reputation with Yemenis when it carries out these abusive practices and holds no one accountable for them”.

Among the abuses reported by HRW, we highlight illegal arrests, torture, kidnappings and compulsory transfer of detainees to Saudi Arabia. In addition, other international crimes had previously been reported by the organization as being committed by the American coalition against Houthi resistance in the region, including bombing homes, businesses and hospitals. In February, at least 30 Yemeni civilians died from airstrikes conducted by Saudi military in the north of the country, in the district of Jawf al-Maslub. The attack was said to have been conducted in response to the downing of a Saudi aircraft by the Houthi forces. In the words of Houthi movement spokesman Yahya Saree:Yemen Is Today’s Guernica

“As usual, when the most brutal US-Saudi aggression receives painful strikes in the military confrontation fields, it replies with great folly by targeting civilians.”

In March, a fleet of 450 American soldiers landed in Yemen, in addition to an uncertain number of troops from the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. According to information from al-Mashhad, this was the first stage of a project to send 3,000 American and British troops to Yemen, which will land in the regions of Aden, Lahai, Saqtari, Shabweh and al-Mohreh, thus completing a true siege of the country in all geographical directions. In addition, two American warships docked at Balhaf, Yemen’s main natural gas export port. American movements would be motivated in the region to supposedly “fight terrorism”, but several military analysts have already made it clear that the United States intends to intervene in the Yemeni government and install fixed bases in the region, “stabilizing” the situation in the country.

The crisis in Yemen is a real humanitarian catastrophe, with dimensions similar to those of the Civil War in Syria. However, the attention given to the poorest country in the Middle East is minimal, especially in times of the pandemic. Once again, COVID-19 is being used as a “smokescreen” to distract worldwide attention while illegal and aggressive movements are taking place in specific regions of the planet, as has recently become clear with the Israeli advance in the West Bank and the arrival of thousands of American troops to Yemen.

Yet, another factor that is absolutely ignored, being even more serious than military aggression, is the public health crisis and food insecurity generated by Saudi aggression. Yemeni Health Minister Saif al-Haidri recently warned of the neglect with which international society has dealt with the situation, which he called a “disastrous in the shadow of war”. These are his words:

“approximately five and a half million children under the age of five are suffering from malnutrition (…) One child dies every ten minutes in Yemen (…) 80 percent of children in Yemen live in a state of stunting and anemia due to malnutrition (…) Two hundred thousand women of childbearing age or some of they are pregnant or have given birth to malnourished children, which threatens the lives of children”.

Indeed, while the world is distracted by the coronavirus, crimes against humanity are committed with impunity and millions of people starve to death without any humanitarian assistance. Yemen has yet to record any cases of COVID-19, but what can we expect for the near future when Western troops arrive in the country at all times, since the US and Europe are the regions most affected by the pandemic? What will be the future of the Yemeni crisis? Will the West bring peace or the pandemic to the poorest country in the Middle East?

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EU Demands Serbia to Help Kosovo During Coronavirus Crisis

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research,

The Working Group for the Chapter 35 of the Serbian National Convention on the European Union (EU) has called for the authorities in Serbia and Kosovo to create a cooperation to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We witness the coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) representing a great danger everywhere in the world and the health systems increasingly burdened with the number of infected patients. The pandemic has shown that the spread of the disease goes beyond borders, national and ethnic origin or religion of the affected, and can only be combatted through joint action, cooperation and solidarity. Cooperation is necessary primarily for the sake of humanity and responsibility for human lives in these difficult times,” the press release reads.

In times of crisis, the EU proclaims that Kosovo is in fact Serbia’s responsibility. This unprincipled nature of the EU is solely guided by the interests of its major members and aims to palm off the medical responsibility of the illegal breakaway province of Kosovo back to Serbia. The EU did nothing to suppress Albanian separatism. In fact, the EU supports the illegality of Kosovo’s independence by deploying over 1,000 police officers under the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo mandate and all member states with the exception of Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia, recognizing Kosovo’s independence.

The EU Task Force on Chapter 35 calls for communication channels between medical staff in Serbia and Kosovo to be open as it would allow the exchange of information on the pandemic to be crossed over on a daily basis. This could also perhaps even contribute significantly to the reconciliation of the two entities. Even though Serbia is under EU pressure to help Kosovo, Belgrade should not give in to any concessions offered by Brussels on the Kosovo issue. The promise of EU membership will certainly be mentioned.

The EU is trying to force Serbia to expend their resources to send aid to Kosovo without expecting any acts of good will from the Albanian side. This is a policy that requires Serbia to treat Kosovo as its own territory while the EU still attempts to make Belgrade accept that Kosovo is an independent state. AKosovo Wants to Establish its Own Armed Forces. Kosovo is a De Facto “NATO Protectorate”

similar appeal was sent to Serbia from the EU at the time of the migrant crisis when the EU also isolated itself of the problems in Kosovo and asked Belgrade to cooperate with Pristina in controlling migrant flows and make records of illegal immigrants traveling via Kosovo in 2015 and 2016.

While Serbia is expected to help Kosovo, despite the EU’s insistence that it is independent, Serbia is not able to assist the Republika Srpska in Bosnia. As part of Bosnia’s independence deal, two entities were formed, the Serbian-majority Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Hezegovina, where the majority of Muslims and Croatians in Bosnia live. Sarajevo’s political leaders are vetoing the decision of the Republika Srpska National Assembly to introduce a state of emergency in its territory to stop the spread of the coronavirus. For political reasons, Muslim Bosnians are stopping life-saving security measures, which are supported by the international community, and while Serbia is expected to help Kosovo, it cannot help the Republika Srpska.

Bosnia blocked the Republika Srpska so that the borders between the two entities could not be closed as the Serbian entity wanted to do. However, if we look internationally to places like Australia, states in the same country have closed their own borders to those who do not live in a particular state. According to the laws of Bosnia, Republika Srpska cannot close their border without approval from Sarajevo.

Therefore, Sarajevo’s moves are about antagonism and political contradiction at a time when coronavirus can engulf both entities of the country. The Bosnian Muslims have no argument for denying measures to protect people from coronavirus and are using this situation to stir up ethnic tensions rather than seeing this as a medical issue. As already showed earlier, it is not a contradiction to close the borders of the entities as many states and regions around the world have closed their borders despite being the same country.

The Republika Srpska are trying to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously and its National Assembly even voted in a majority to declare a state of emergency. Even EU High Representative to Bosnia, Valentin Incko, welcomed the decision and the commitment of Republika Srpska President Željka Cvijanović to use extraordinary powers in the interest of public health. Incko also pointed out that stopping the spread of the coronavirus and saving the lives of citizens must be priorities for all Bosnian authorities. However, his recommendations did not go into the realm of pressuring Bosnian authorities, and so long as the borders remain open, the people of Republika Srpska remain susceptible to higher rates of infection.

While Serbia is expected to assist Kosovo on the behalf of the EU, despite not being an EU member and the EU insisting on Kosovo’s independence, Belgrade also cannot assist Republika Srpska without being accused of interfering in Bosnian affairs. It is little wonder then that Belgrade has lost interest in appeasing Brussels and no longer responds to promises of EU membership, and rather it continues to build its relations with traditional ally Russia as well as emerging superpower China.

Posted in Europe, Kosovo, SerbiaComments Off on EU Demands Serbia to Help Kosovo During Coronavirus Crisis

Congress Betrays the American People – Again. “Medical Martial Law”

By Renee Parsons

Global Research,

While predominately Democratic states appear to be in more of a lock down, millions of Americans continue to dutifully hunker down in a ‘medical’ martial law.  The full  realization of the effects of the coronavirus has only just begun to impact their reality with major economic or health reversals.  Yet ahead lies the discovery that the US will not be the same country it was prior to covid-19  has not yet dawned on many. 

Nothing about this catastrophe has, in any way, limited the US Congress, once thought to be subservient to the will of The People, from wasting any time adopting  the most massive $2.2Trillion ‘emergency’ Stimulus  Giveaway (HR 6074) in American history – within a matter of days.

Citing the exploitation of the coronavirus event as rationale for what never could have otherwise been accomplished, former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan called the giveaway an “abomination beyond comprehension…using taxpayer money to strangle taxpayers while calling it a bailout for taxpayers.”  The full extent of the  2,232 page Great Corporate Financial and Power Consolidation will be recognized only after the money has been doled out.  It remains to be seen exactly how the new reality will impact 99% of American society who may find themselves  more expendable in ways not previously anticipated.  Some may then realize how we have been thoroughly snookered.

Just as the Patriot Act and the TSA were adopted in response to 911, never to be repealed even as the ‘terrorists’ were defeated, elements of the ‘medical’ martial law will likely remain in place including  the innocuous sounding ‘social distancing’ with limits on group gatherings – as well as  the erosion of  more civil liberties and increased  censorship.  There are also those who believe this chaos is cover for a Deep State take-down and still others who beieve this is a DNC/Intel effort to take down Trump. .

Under the guise of providing a token $1200 per person, $500 per child,  creating one giant Omnibus legislative package was preferred by TPTB so the public would not so easily notice the contrast between the pittance going to the People Programs as compared to the stark rapacious nature of the fiscal giveaway.

Far beyond the scope of historical corruption at the same time the entire nation is facing a widespread crisis, both the Democrats and Republics have betrayed their own constituents.  The real beneficiaries of Congressional largesse are the Big Banks and financial institutions as well as ‘businesses critical to national security’ including Amazon.  The slippery slope  allow the banks to pass on taxpayer generosity to  American corporations and the ruling class so that they might buy up those distressed assets for pennies on the dollar as they further consolidate their market position.  More than a trivial $500 billion, as being reported by Big Media, $425 billion of which will be capitalized by the Fed Bank into (voila!) $4.2 Trillion.   David Dayen compares the current fiscal calamity with 2008 and estimates the final tab will end up closer to a $6 Trillion gift as a five member oversight board with no subpoena power or statutory authority twiddles its thumbs.

Two Members of Congress Vote No – Out of 535

Two days before the Senate vote on March 25th,  Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) tested positive for coronavirus.  Two days later, he cast the only Senate vote against the ‘emergency’ Omnibus – contrary to media reports.US Budget Resolution Funds War and Repression

As usual, immediately after the vote,  the presiding officer in the Chair announced the final vote as 96-0 while the official roll call lists the final vote as 96 – 1 with Paul as s No and three Senators Not Voting.

Reminiscent of how bills are adopted in a banana republic did not stop  Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) from claiming a ‘unanimous’ vote that was not unanimous.  With more than a tinge of  self-serving bravado, McConnell termed adoption  as ”one of the most contentious partisan period in the nation’s history to pass this (allegedrescue package 100-0” when, in fact, there was minimal disagreement and his vote count was deliberately misleading.

It is clear that there was a prevailing Order of the Day as a  concerted campaign to present a unanimous vote from a unified Congress to the American people as  proof that the Congress was acting  in unison,  effectively addressing the crisis when, in reality, they were giving away the store. .

Yet the official roll call register not only listed Sen. Paul who had the integrity to vote his conscience but that  neither Sen. Bernie Sanders nor Sen. Elizabeth Warren were willing to do the same.   Both self described opponents of corporate handouts, each abandoned their oft-repeated mantra to their constituents and to their campaign supporters. Both are listed as Not Voting even though both were present during the debate and had every opportunity to place a “Hold’ on the bill at any time.  Sanders played a smoke and mirror game with Republicans who threatened to stop the bill on a union unemployment issue; with Bernie then threatening he would also put a ‘hold’ only to back off as Republicans satisfied their concern.

Big Media continued the spin that the Senate had adopted the Omnibus  as a unanimous vote.

The Paul diagnosis, although asymptomatic, brought to mind the tainted anthrax letters sent to Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Patrick Leahy  who both threatened to oppose the Patriot Act in 2001.  The anthrax was later confirmed to be of same genetic material as created at Ft. Detrick with one scientist committing suicide.  Currently, Ft. Detrick is central to George Webb’s revelations regarding coronavirus as a 5G weaponized biological  virus..

On the House side, its leadership  planned a voice vote under a unanimous consent  agreement which would have allowed  a mere handful of Members to be present until Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky) threw a monkey wrench in the works.  Massie requested a recorded vote  which required a majority of House Members to be present.  Ultimately 216 Members attended spouting vociferous protests as if while millions of Americans were trudging to work each day, prima donas in the House should be granted special dispensation.

Opposing the Omnibus because it would add to the $23 trillion US National Debt, Massie stated that he wanted to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Massie a ‘dangerous nuisance” for insisting on a roll call vote with Massie pushing back that “Pelosi and McCarthy are still working together to block a recorded vote just to insulate members of Congress from accountability“ and citing the “biggest spending bill in the history of mankind, and no recorded vote?” With President Trump joining in calling Massie a ‘third rate grandstander,” as it takes one to know one.  Currently, a Democrat has registered as a Republican to challenge Massie to a primary for his House seat.

Meanwhile, despite an impassioned plea for the camera, AOC derailed “crumbs for our families,’ and the “largest corporate bailout with few strings as possible,” and yet voted exactly as Joe Crowley would have voted. Neither she nor any of The Squad  nor any member of the Progressive Caucus including the newly-discredited Rep. Tulsi Gabbard did any thing to stop  the insatiable bounty.

CEO’s Take a Hike

There was a sort-of warning for those who pay close attention to business minutiae when Really Graceful informed  us that 219 big time CEO’s, the most ever in one month, stepped down from their Fortune 500 companies in February as Jeff Bezos dumped $4.1 billion worth of Amazon shares.  

At the same time, the dubious Bill Gates resigned from the Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway Boards.  All that on the heels of 1,300 high level CEOs leaving their positions in 2019.  Is it plausible to consider that all these resignations were spontaneous or coincidental and that none of these business elites had a heads up of the 2020 market crash that was to come. These are the folks who are in the loop and privy to the grapevine with the assurance  they will all land on their feet.                                              

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on Congress Betrays the American People – Again. “Medical Martial Law”

The Dark Secrets in the Fed’s Last Wall Street Bailout Are Getting a Devious Makeover in Today’s Bailout

by PAM MARTENS – RUSS MARTENS

Largest Recipients of Federal Reserve Bailout Funds, 2007 to 2011.

From December 2007 to November 10, 2011, the Federal Reserve, secretly and without the awareness of Congress, funneled $19.6 trillion in cumulative loans to bail out the trading houses on Wall Street. Just 14 global financial institutions received 83.9 percent of those loans or $16.41 trillion. (See chart above.) A number of those banks were insolvent at the time and did not, under the law, qualify for these Fed loans. Significant amounts of these loans were collateralized with junk bonds and stocks, at a time when both markets were in freefall. Under the law, the Fed is only allowed to make loans against “good” collateral.

Six of the institutions receiving massive loans from the Fed were not even U.S. banks but global foreign banks that had to be saved because they were heavily interconnected to the Wall Street banks through unregulated derivatives. If one financial institution in this daisy chain of derivatives failed, it would set off a domino effect.

Another $10 trillion was spent by the Fed providing dollar swaps to foreign central banks, bringing the final tally of the bailout to $29 trillion. The Levy Economics Institute used the data that the Federal Reserve was forced to release through an amendment attached to the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation in 2010 to compile the $29 trillion tab. Its figures are in line with the audit done by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), also mandated by the same amendment. The GAO audit included most, but not all, of the Fed programs, so its figures fall short of the comprehensive job done by the Levy Economics Institute.

There are two dark secrets about the Fed’s last bailout of Wall Street. First, the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., which is a federal agency with its Chairman and Board appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, outsourced the bailout to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (New York Fed), which is a private institution owned by the Wall Street banks. The New York Fed, in turn, outsourced the management of the bailout to some of the very Wall Street firms that were receiving the funds. We know this from the details contained in the GAO audit. (See our “Vendor” section below.)

The second dark secret is that the underlying cause of the enormity of the bailout – hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives that interconnected the same global banks as counterparties – has never been reformed by Congress. A feeble attempt was made in the Dodd-Frank legislation but that was quickly repealed by an amendment forced into a must-pass spending bill by the largest recipient of the bailout – Citigroup, which was insolvent for much of the time the New York Fed was lavishing $2.65 trillion on it.

We know that derivatives are playing an outsized role in the current financial crisis because Wall Street banks, Deutsche Bank and the insurance companies (including AIG) that are still interconnected as derivatives counterparties are seeing their share prices bleed away to a far greater degree than the broader market indices. And, emphasizing our point, just last Friday as bank stocks were under trading pressure, the Federal Reserve announcedthat it was relaxing a rule on how the big banks would have to measure their counterparty credit risk derivatives contracts.

These same banks, as we write this, are currently receiving the next round of bailouts from the New York Fed, using many of the identical programs that the New York Fed used the last time around, like the Commercial Paper Funding Facility(CPFF), the Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF), and the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) along with a host of others. The goal of the New York Fed in using so many programs with so many alphabet-soup acronyms is to make it mind-numbingly difficult to keep track of the trillions of dollars it is spewing to Wall Street banks and their foreign peers. It took almost four years after the onset of the last unaccountable Fed money spigot to get accurate reports to the public about what it had done. The Fed spent more than two years in court battling to keep the public from learning the details.

How do we know that the same banks are receiving the new bailout funds? Because the New York Fed publishes a list of its 24 “primary dealers,” the Wall Street trading houses with which it conducts its open market trading operations and are eligible for its loans. (Yes, the New York Fed has its own trading floor – the only one of the 12 regional Fed banks to have one.) With the exception of AIG, which is an insurance company, Bear Stearns, which was taken over by JPMorgan Chase, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), every bank listed in the chart above is currently eligible for the trillions of dollars in Fed loans that have been spewing out of the New York Fed since September 17, 2019 – four months before the first reported death from coronavirus in China and five months before the first reported death in the United States.

What makes the New York Fed’s bailout of Wall Street so much more dangerous this time around is that it has decided to use a different structure for its loans to Wall Street – one that will force losses on taxpayers and, it hopes, will provide an ironclad secrecy curtain around how much it spends and where the money goes.

The New York Fed plans to use Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) for many of its funding facilities again this time around. (It should provide no comfort to the American people that Enron used SPVs to hide the true state of its finances and blow itself up.) But last time around, the New York Fed put up the equity interest in the SPV and thus was on the hook for any losses.

This time around, the New York Fed is forcing the U.S. Treasury to put up $454 billion from the taxpayer to fund the equity stakes in its SPVs, which it plans to then leverage up to at least $4 trillion, according to White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow. But the New York Fed is then signing a private contract with a private Wall Street firm to allow it to be the manager of the SPV, handling the purchasing of toxic waste from Wall Street’s trading houses while funneling clean cash out to them. The New York Fed is asking these firms for an iron-clad confidentiality agreement that will, according to one we have read, survive the termination of the contract. The New York Fed has already set up three programs with BlackRock, one of the largest issuers of junk bond and investment grade corporate bond Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

The last time around, the New York Fed created the SPVs as Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs). Because the New York Fed had put up the equity interest in the SPV, under accounting rules it was considered to have a controlling financial interest in the SPV and had to consolidate the SPVs financial reports with its own. Those financial reports showed no granular details about who got the loans and the cumulative totals. Because it’s the taxpayer that’s putting up the equity interest this time around, there should be no such consolidated reporting or transparency at the New York Fed, except for those programs that are not SPVs, such as the Fed’s Discount Window. Discount Window borrowing details, under Dodd-Frank, are not released until two years later. The GAO audit that was released in 2011 told us this on the subject of the SPV LLCs:

“FRBNY [Federal Reserve Bank of New York] consolidated the accounts and results of operations of LLCs into its financial statements, thereby presenting an aggregate look at its overall financial position. FRBNY presents consolidated financial statements because of its controlling financial interest in the LLCs. Specifically, FRBNY has the power to direct the significant economic activities of the LLCs and is obligated to absorb losses and has the right to receive benefits of the LLCs that could potentially be significant to the LLC. While FRBNY’s financial statements include the accounts and operations of the LLCs, each LLC also issues its own set of annual financial statements.”

While only commercial banks have historically been allowed to borrow from the Fed’s Discount Window, the Fed invoked its emergency lending powers under the Federal Reserve Act and allowed its Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF), which was structured as an SPV LLC, to borrow from the Discount Window. The GAO audit reveals this:

“The use of an SPV allowed FRBNY to leverage existing market infrastructure for the issuance of commercial paper. Using loans from FRBNY’s discount window infrastructure, the CPFF LLC would purchase eligible paper in the same way that investors would purchase this paper in the marketplace.”

The reason that the New York Fed had to become the buyer of last resort in the commercial paper market (and so many other markets) was because the Wall Street banks and their foreign brethren had become so interconnected with derivatives that none of them knew which firm might be the next Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers and go belly up. So they simply backed away from rolling over each other’s commercial paper and other essential market functions. This is exactly what is happening today.

The New York Fed also used part of its $10 trillion in dollar swaps to help the Swiss central bank (a/k/a Swiss National Bank) set up an SPV to prop up UBS, the global bank with a huge footprint on Wall Street. The GAO report tells us this on the matter:

“…on October 16, 2008, the Swiss National Bank announced that it would use dollars obtained through its swap line with FRBNY to help fund an SPV it would create to purchase up to $60 billion of illiquid assets from UBS.”

The New York Fed’s “Vendors”:

According to the GAO audit, the New York Fed “awarded almost two-thirds of its contracts noncompetitively” for its bailout programs. JPMorgan Chase played an outsized role in many of these, including the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, where it doled out hundreds of billions of dollars in revolving loans to Wall Street trading houses, with junk bonds and stocks put up as a big part of the collateral. It was unprecedented in the 95-year history of the Fed at that time to be accepting junk bonds and stocks as collateral as well as unprecedented to be making loans to Wall Street trading firms. JPMorgan Chase also became the manager of the mortgage-backed securities that the New York Fed purchased as part of its QE1, QEII and QEIII programs. (See The New York Fed Has Contracted JPMorgan to Hold Over $1.7 Trillion of its QE Bonds Despite Two Felony Counts and Serial Charges of Crimes.)

According to the GAO audit, there was no contract between the New York Fed and JPMorgan Chase for its work on the Primary Dealer Credit Facility. The GAO says that the New York Fed simply “relied” on JPMorgan and another clearing bank, Bank of New York Mellon, “to execute transactions between FRBNY and program recipients (primary dealers). Agreements between the clearing banks and FRBNY identified eligible collateral and other program terms, but the clearing banks were paid by program participants and Reserve Bank officials did not know what fees the clearing banks were paid.”

An audit that doesn’t seek to learn how much JPMorgan Chase was paid as an incentive to award tens of billions of dollars to teetering firms such as Morgan Stanley against junk bonds and stocks as collateral – at a time when both junk bonds and stocks were plunging in price in the market – falls seriously short as a Government Accountability Office audit.

Other financial firms employed by the New York Fed that were revealed in the GAO audit included Morgan Stanley, PIMCO, and BlackRock, which it is using again today for three of its programs.

Posted in USA, PoliticsComments Off on The Dark Secrets in the Fed’s Last Wall Street Bailout Are Getting a Devious Makeover in Today’s Bailout

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