Archive | April 16th, 2020

50 Headlines: Welcome to the “New Normal”

By OffGuardian

Global Research,

Our erstwhile collaborators at Consent Factory have put together a wonderful collection of all the great work being done by our Beloved Governments to keep us all safe.

Always remember that these Measures are for your own good. Doubting The Measures is a possible sign of infection. Consult your treatment diary for the required dosage of BBC programming needed to remove Doubts.

Thank you for your cooperation.

***

As well as enforcing quarantine measures, the law also allows the authorities to force people to be vaccinated, even though there is currently no vaccination for the virus.”
DENMARK RUSHES THROUGH EMERGENCY CORONAVIRUS LAW, (THE LOCAL, 13/3/20)

During the state of emergency, people will only be allowed out on to public streets for the following reasons: to buy food, basic or pharmaceutical items; to attend medical centres; to go to and from work …” SPAIN ORDERS NATIONWIDE LOCKDOWN TO BATTLE CORONAVIRUS (THE GUARDIAN, 14/3/20)

Police are patrolling the streets to ensure we only leave our homes for work and health-related reasons … we must fill and carry certificates stating our reasons. If caught out without a certificate, we will be fined and face up to three months in jail.” LIFE UNDER ITALY’S CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN, (NEWSWEEK, 13/3/20)

“We are going to take the powers to make sure that we can quarantine people if they are a risk to public health, yes, and that’s important.”
POLICE TO ARREST BRITS WITH CORONAVIRUS WHO IGNORE QUARANTINE (METRO, 15/3/20)

If you want to leave the house, you now have to print off a document to explain to police your timing, destination and motive.” ORDERLY, DOUR, COWED: HOW MY BELOVED ITALY IS CHANGED BY CORONAVIRUS (THE GUARDIAN, 15/3/20)

There are also plans for soldiers to protect quarantine zones with the police, if that ever came into force.” CORONAVIRUS: THOUSANDS OF ARMED FORCES STAFF COULD BE PUT ON STANDBY OVER COVID-19 SPREAD, (SKY NEWS, 16/3/20)

Israel has authorized the country’s internal security agency to tap into a vast and previously undisclosed trove of cellphone data to retrace the movements of people who have contracted the coronavirus and identify others who should be quarantined…”
TO TRACK CORONAVIRUS, ISRAEL MOVES TO TAP SECRET TROVE OF CELLPHONE DATA, (NYT, 16/3/20)

“We are at war – a public health war, certainly but we are at war, against an invisible and elusive enemy,” Macron said, outlawing all journeys outside the home … anyone flouting the new regulations would be punished, he said.”
CORONAVIRUS: FRANCE IMPOSES LOCKDOWN AS EU CALLS FOR 30-DAY TRAVEL BAN, (THE GUARDIAN, 16/3/20)

“The interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said 100,000 police officers would be deployed to enforce the lockdown … Macron said that if necessary, the government would legislate by decree …”
FRANCE ‘AT WAR’: HOW PARISIANS ARE COPING WITH LIFE UNDER LOCKDOWN, (THE GUARDIAN, 17/3/20)

We will intervene where necessary to make sure that people respect the confinement decree.”
ITALY RECORDS ITS DEADLIEST DAY OF CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK WITH 475 DEATHS (THE GUARDIAN, 18/3/20)

The Ministry of Defence is to double the size of the military’s civil contingency unit to create a 20,000-strong Covid support force … the armed forces need to be prepared for the threat of a breakdown in civil order.” 10,000 EXTRA TROOPS TO JOIN BRITISH ARMY’S COVID SUPPORT FORCE (THE GUARDIAN, 18/3/20)

“The new force — made up of 10,000 military personnel who are regularly deployed to civilian activities, plus an extra 10,000 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic — has been placed at ‘high readiness’.”
UK ARMED FORCES PREPARE 20,000 TROOPS TO HELP IN CRISIS (FINANCIAL TIMES)

We have the ability to do martial law … if we feel the necessity.”
CORONAVIRUS: CALIFORNIA PREPARED TO ENACT MARTIAL LAW IF ITS A ‘NECESSITY’, GOVERNOR SAYS (YAHOO NEWS)

Police and immigration officials would be able to place people in ‘appropriate isolation facilities’ under plans.”
CORONAVIRUS: SWEEPING EMERGENCY POWERS ANNOUNCED (BBC, 18/3/20)

Standby orders were issued more than three weeks ago to ready these plans, not just to protect Washington but also to prepare for the possibility of some form of martial law.”
EXCLUSIVE: INSIDE THE MILITARY’S TOP SECRET PLANS IF CORONAVIRUS CRIPPLES THE GOVERNMENT (NEWSWEEK, 18/3/20)

Twitter will remove tweets that run the risk of causing harm by spreading dangerous misinformation about Covid-19 … it will be applying a new broader definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources.”
TWITTER TO REMOVE HARMFUL FAKE NEWS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS (THE GUARDIAN, 19/3/20)

“Some 100,000 police have fanned out across France to enforce the lockdown, with people allowed out of their homes only to buy groceries, go to work, exercise alone or seek medical help.”
WOMAN BUNDLED TO GROUND BY POLICE FOR BREAKING LOCKDOWN IN PARIS (METRO, 19/3/20)

He is in a specially cleaned area designated for those who should be self-isolating.” Minister Quayle said, “we cannot allow our critical health services to become overwhelmed and must have the means to prosecute those who choose to act irresponsibly.”
CORONAVIRUS: NO PROSECUTION FOR MAN WHO ‘FAILED TO SELF-ISOLATE’, (BBC, 20/3/20)

Dane County, Wisconsin residents now have a method to report violations of the governor’s ban on gatherings of 10 or more people.”
DANE COUNTY SETS UP WEBSITE TO REPORT GATHERINGS OF 10 OR MORE PEOPLE, (WKOW, 19/3/20)

Germany’s 83 million citizens have been told they risk being confined to their homes from Monday unless they behave responsibly this weekend.”
CORONAVIRUS: ITALY AND SPAIN RECORD HIGHEST SINGLE-DAY DEATH TOLLS, (THE GUARDIAN, 20/3/20)

These [social restrictions] would need to be in place for at least most of a year. Under such as policy, at least half of the year would be spent under the stricter social distancing measures.”
SOCIAL DISTANCING MAY NEED TO GO ON FOR ALMOST 12 MONTHS (INDEPENDENT, 20/3/20)

The government has now agreed that the military can be used to help enforce the lockdown.”
ITALY CALLS IN MILITARY TO ENFORCE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN, (CNN, 20/3/20)

As of Wednesday, the camps have been locked down from 7pm to 7am. In the daytime, only one person is allowed out per family, and the police control their movements.”
FEARS OF CATASTROPHE AS GREECE PUTS MIGRANT CAMPS INTO LOCKDOWN, (THE GUARDIAN, 21/3/20)

The National Guard is expecting a rapid increase in unit activations over the next few weeks, leaders said at the Pentagon Thursday, filling roles like coronavirus testing and potentially law enforcement.”
GUARD ACTIVATIONS EXPECTED TO RAPIDLY INCREASE, COULD BE USED FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT, (MILITARY TIMES, 19/3/20)

[T]he U.S. military is preparing forces to assume a larger role in the coronavirus response, including the controversial mission of quelling ‘civil disturbances’ …”
INSIDE THE U.S. MILITARY’S PLANS TO STOP ‘CIVIL DISTURBANCES’ AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, (NEWSWEEK, 20/3/20)

These provisions will be enforced … the violation of any provision of [the] order constitutes an imminent threat and creates an immediate menace to public health.”
HERE’S WHAT A ‘STAY HOME’ ORDER MEANS FOR NEW YORK, (THE GUARDIAN, 21/3/20)

‘When MK Yoav Kish (Likud) sought to clarify whether she meant a total lockdown or curfew, Sadetsky replied … “A lockdown and personal monitoring of people, and a total halt to personal freedoms.”’
‘TOTAL SUSPENSION OF INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM’: INSIDE ISRAEL’S SECRET CORONAVIRUS DEBATE (HAARETZ, 19/3/20)

“A final option: ‘Permanent changes in our behavior that allow us to keep transmission rates low’ … that could include strict policies of testing and quarantine for anyone who comes down with COVID-19 — or even long-term bans on large gatherings.”
CORONAVIRUS ‘EXIT STRATEGY’ COULD BE MONTHS — OR YEARS — AWAY, (NEW YORK POST, 21/3/20)

The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.”
DOJ SEEKS NEW EMERGENCY POWERS AMID CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, (POLITICO, 21/3/20)

Germany has issued a “contact ban, limiting interactions of more than 2 people … there will be fines of up to €25,000 for those not keeping a 2 meter distance between people. The measures will be enforced by police and stay in place until April 19.”
CORONAVIRUS LATEST: ANGELA MERKEL TO QUARANTINE AFTER MEETING INFECTED DOCTOR, (DW, 21/3/20)

The Justice Department is using the COVID-19 outbreak to press for sweeping new powers that include being able to detain Americans indefinitely without a trial.”
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT REPORTEDLY ASKS CONGRESS FOR INDEFINITE DETENTION POWERS TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS, (REASON, 21/3/20)

Quebec City police have arrested a woman, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, for being out in the city’s Limoilou neighbourhood despite being under a quarantine order.”
QUEBEC CITY POLICE ARREST COVID-19 PATIENT FOR DEFYING QUARANTINE, (CBC, 20/3/20)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he’s considering his most drastic move yet … moving certain people at risk to isolation shelters.
DESANTIS CONSIDERS NEW STRATEGY IN FLORIDA CORONAVIRUS FIGHT: ISOLATION SHELTERS, (MIAMIA HERALD, 21/3/20)

From a technological perspective, the coronavirus pandemic is one massive testbed for surveillance capitalism … governments are rolling out surveillance measures, all in the effort to ensure that policies of mass behaviour modification are successful.”
CORONAVIRUS COULD INFECT PRIVACY AND CIVIL LIBERTIES FOREVER, (FORBES, 23/3/20)

Counter-terrorism troops have been redeployed across Italy to beef up police … patrol cars are circulating in every major city with a voice warning citizens over a loudspeaker not to leave their residences … “Go back into your homes,” the voice warns.
LOCK THE F*CK DOWN OR END UP LIKE ITALY, (DAILY BEAST, 22/3/20)

Some police departments in California plan on using drones to enforce a coronavirus lockdown and to, in part, monitor the homeless population.”
POLICE IN CALIFORNIA CITY CONSIDER NEW WAYS TO USE DRONES DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK, (FOX NEWS, 23/3/20)

A woman in Spain was arrested after she was caught visiting the home of a man she had met on a dating app, breaking mandatory home confinement rules put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
WOMAN IN SPAIN ARRESTED FOR BREAKING CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN TO VISIT MAN SHE MET ON DATING APP, (NEWSWEEK, 23/3/20)

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe gave a national address to give details of the new rules … [French citizens] must have their ‘justification’ paper – signed, dated and with the time they have left home – to show if stopped by the police or gendarmes.”
GLOBAL CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES TOP 400,000 – AS IT HAPPENED. (THE GUARDIAN, 25/3/20)

“The UK government has sent a mass text message to as many phones as possible, urging citizens to stay at home during the coronavirus lockdown: “CORONAVIRUS ALERT. New rules in force now: you must stay at home. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
GOVERNMENT SENDS MASS TEXT MESSAGE URGING PEOPLE TO STAY AT HOME, (INDEPENDENT, 24/3/20)

The Government is set to publish its coronavirus bill in Parliament this week. It gives officers from the police and immigration powers to detain people in appropriate isolation centres if they are a risk to public health.”
CORONAVIRUS: NEW POWERS TO DETAIN THOSE REFUSING TO ISOLATE, (THE ARGUS, 19/3/20)

Police in Texas are searching for an 18-year-old girl who claimed to have tested positive for and to be ‘willfully spreading’ the coronavirus … the teenager faces a charge of making a terroristic threat.”
TEXAS TEEN FACES TERRORISM CHARGE FOR THREATENING TO SPREAD CORONAVIRUS, POLICE SAY, NBC, 7/4/20)

America’s top coronavirus expert has warned Covid-19 is the new normal – and that the killer virus might never go away.”
TOP CORONAVIRUS EXPERT WARNS KILLER VIRUS MAY BE ‘NEW NORMAL’ AND NEVER GO AWAY , (METRO, 7/4/20)

“Security officers in several African countries have been beating, harassing and, in some cases, killing people as they enforce measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.”
CORONAVIRUS IN AFRICA: EMERGENCY LAWS V INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, (BBC, 9/4/20)

“World Health Organization executive director Dr. Michael Ryan said surveillance is part of what’s required for life to return to normal in a world without a vaccine.”
AFTER CORONAVIRUS, AI COULD BE CENTRAL TO OUR NEW NORMAL, (VENTURE BEAT, 8/4/20)

“White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s task force has reached out to a range of health technology companies about creating a national coronavirus surveillance system …”
KUSHNER’S TEAM SEEKS NATIONAL CORONAVIRUS SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM, (POLITICO, 7/4/20)

East Asian countries have demonstrated that a robust regime of surveillance is essential to fighting a pandemic. Western democracies must rise to meet the need for ‘democratic surveillance’ to protect their own populations.”
CORONAVIRUS AND THE FUTURE OF SURVEILLANCE, (FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 6/4/20)

It’s an extraordinary moment that might call for extraordinary surveillance methods.”
PRIVACY EXPERTS SAY RESPONSIBLE CORONAVIRUS SURVEILLANCE IS POSSIBLE, (THE INTERCEPT, 2/4/20)

Australia will deploy helicopters, set up police checkpoints and hand out hefty fines to deter people from breaking an Easter travel ban … Police said they will block roads and use number plate recognition technology to catch those infringing the bans.”
CONFIRMED WORLDWIDE COVID-19 DEATH TOLL PASSES 100,000 (THE GUARDIAN, 11/4/20)

Officers say they responded to a synagogue in Monsey after receiving complaints. They found 30-50 men praying together. Eight were arrested for disorderly conduct. Police say they will arrest more people if the gatherings continue.”
8 ARRESTED IN MONSEY FOR VIOLATING SOCIAL DISTANCING EMERGENCY ORDERS, (CBS, 9/4/20)

‘These drones will be around the City with an automated message from the Mayor telling you to STOP gathering, disperse and go home,’ the police department said.”
CORONAVIRUS SURVEILLANCE IS ENTERING DYSTOPIAN TERRITORY, (VANITY FAIR, 9/4/20)

Our law-enforcement agencies, politicians and corporate overlords are working hard, night and day, to protect us from this terrible disease. Consider sparing a thought for our brave boys in black this evening during your allotted compulsory appreciation window.

REPORT ALL NON-APPRECIATORS TO YOUR NEAREST SURVEILLANCE DRONE. Those guilty of virus denial or other forms of sedition weaken our morale and can cause outbreaks.

Remember, good citizenship will earn you a higher place on the vaccination schedule.

Posted in UKComments Off on 50 Headlines: Welcome to the “New Normal”

Trump Regime Immunity Certificates for Mass Vaxxing and Population Control

By Stephen Lendman

Orwellian control over the lives and welfare of ordinary people would pose the greatest threat to free and open societies. 

They’d no longer exist if the worst of it was imposed, notably by manipulating the public mind to accept the unacceptable for our own good.

Its modus operandi would include mass deception, mass surveillance, tracking our movements, controlling the message, tolerating no dissent, mass subjection to toxic vaxxing, and instituting draconian totalitarian control as the new normal.

Truth-telling would become a criminal offensive, only state approved views permitted. Life as it once was no longer would exist.

Is all of the above where the US, the West overall, and other nations are heading?

Are so-called COVID-19 immunity certificates part of the scheme? Will they be mandated to travel and interact with others in public?

Will schools, airports, rail and bus terminals, stores, theaters, stadiums, other public places where people gather, even doctors’ offices, refuse entry to individuals without them?

Will harmful to human health toxic vaccinations, along with antibody testing be required to get one?

With the rarest of rare exceptions, no one elected or appointed to public office should be trusted as a guardian of our rights and welfare, notably not in the West.

Instead of serving public health and welfare, along with fostering free and open societies, policies of US-led Western officials are polar opposite — exploiting and otherwise harming ordinary people so privileged ones can benefit, no matter the human toll.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director Anthony Fauci is a front man for steering the US public to mass toxic vaccinations.

Last week he said the Trump regime is considering issuance of COVID-19 immunity certificates for individuals infected by and recovered from the virus.

“The proposal is contingent upon the widespread deployment of antibody tests which the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration are in the process of validating in the US,” he said, adding:

“Although coronavirus testing thus far has been able to determine if an individual has an active infection, antibody tests report whether an asymptomatic person was previously infected but has since recovered (and immune), potentially allowing them to return to their jobs.”

One problem with this scheme is that positive antibody tests would not be able to distinguish between infected individuals and others who recovered from the virus.US Indifference to Public Health: The Shame of the Nation

A second related problem is the accuracy of tests. COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antibody tests are producing false positives and negatives — why accurate numbers of infected individuals in the US and elsewhere are unclear.

Does a positive antibody test mean an individual is ill or recovered from illness? It could be either so tests are meaningless.

According to microbiologist Edward Wright, a PCR test aims to “detect the genetic information of the virus, the RNA. That’s only possible if the virus is there and someone is actively infected.”

The problem with the test’s accuracy is that it takes a tiny amount of human tissue, expands it for analysis, but fails to tell how much virus is in a human body, if any.

The most serious issue is the prospect of mandating immunity certificates to force-feed mass toxic vaccinations on unsuspecting people to reenter society freely — unaware that they may be sorry, not safe by injection.

Will we be given a choice between vaccination or loss of personal freedom, unaware that both choices are harmful to human health and welfare?

Mandatory vaccinations to obtain immunity certificates pose serious ethical and scientific problems.

The former relates to the Hippocratic oath of doing no harm. There’s more potential harm than good from vaccines, known to contain a laundry list of toxic ingredients that are harmful to human health.

The latter relates to how long positive antibodies in recovered individuals protect from them from possible reinfection. It’s unknown.

According to Experimental Medicine Professor Peter Openshaw, “(m)y guess is that the protective immunity will last at least three months. That’s the worst-case scenario,” adding:

More likely it’ll “last between one and five years, but until that time has passed, we won’t know for sure.”

Britain is considering large-scale antibody testing. Scientists who evaluated test kits found them unreliable.

Professor of Medicine John Bell said they “have not performed well. This is not a good result for test suppliers or for us.”

Medical and scientific officials in other countries also reported test failures.

Bell: “We clearly want to avoid telling people they are immune when they are not, and we want all people who are immune to know accurately so they can get back to work.”

The US FDA has a Cellex Inc. developed finger-prick blood sample rapid antibody test.

The company cautioned that it should not be used as the sole basis for diagnosis — meaning it can produce inaccurate results.

Without symptoms, there’s no way to know if someone is ill or well. No scientifically proved tests exist so far to tell if someone is infected with COVID-19. Reported numbers are guesswork.

Are things headed toward a two-tiered US society? Will low-risk young people wish to contract COVID-19 to have antibodies to the virus on recovery, a passport to reenter the workplace?

Bioethics Professor I. Glenn Cohen said “(t)hat sounds crazy, but if having the antibodies becomes the cost of entering the job market and thus feeding your family, there may be workers who feel pressured into it.”

Will parents feel the same way about young children, wanting them exposed to the virus at a young age when symptoms are likely to be milder and recovery sooner?

Years ago, positive antibody tests meant infection was present. So how can the opposite be true now — namely that they show immunity to COVID-19?

A brave new world 2.0 is unfolding. It follows what happened to our detriment post-9/11.

Ahead our choices may be either be to get tested and vaccinated to reenter society publicly or be denied the right to function normally.

Both options are none at all, neither acceptable.

What’s coming remains to unfold. What’s known suggests things will likely be more unacceptable than already.

Posted in USAComments Off on Trump Regime Immunity Certificates for Mass Vaxxing and Population Control

The Russia-Saudi Oil-Price War Is a Fraud and a Farce

By Mike Whitney

Global Research,

The Russia-Saudi oil-price war is a fabrication concocted by the media. There’s not a word of truth to any of it. Yes, there was a dust up at an OPEC meeting in early March that led to production increases and plunging prices. That part is true. But Saudi Arabia’s oil-dumping strategy wasn’t aimed at Russia, it was aimed at US shale oil producers. But not for the reasons you’ve read about in the media.

The Saudis aren’t trying to destroy the US shale oil business. That’s another fiction. They just want US producers to play by the rules and pitch in when prices need support. That might seem like a stretch, but it’s true.

You see, US oil producers are not what-you’d-call “team players”. They don’t cooperate with foreign producers, they’re not willing to share the costs of flagging demand, and they never lift a finger to support prices. US oil producers are the next-door-neighbor that parks his beat-up Plymouth on the front lawn and then surrounds it with rusty appliances. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.

What Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman want is for US producers to share the pain of oil production cuts in order to stabilize prices. It’s an entirely reasonable request. Here’s a clip from an article at oilprice.com that helps to explain what’s really going on:

“… there was a sliver of hope that oil prices may rebound after Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia, Russia and allied oil producers will agree to deep cuts to their crude output at talks this week but only if the United States and several others join in with curbs to help prop up prices that have been hammered by the coronavirus crisis. However, in an attempt to have its cake and eat it too, the U.S. DOE said on Tuesday that U.S. output is already falling without government action, in line with the White House’s insistence that it would not intervene in the private markets….

… OPEC+ will require the United States to make cuts in order to come to an agreement: The EIA report today demonstrates that there are already projected cuts of 2 (million bpd), without any intervention from the federal government,” the U.S. Energy Department said.

That is not enough for OPEC+ however, and certainly not Russia, which on Wednesday made clear that market-driven declines in oil production shouldn’t be considered as cuts intended to stabilize the market, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells reporters on conference call.

“These are completely different cuts. You are comparing the overall demand drop with cuts to stabilize global markets. It’s like comparing length and width,” Peskov said…..Moscow’s participation is highly contingent on the US, and is unlikely to agree to output cuts if the US does not join the effort.” (“Historic Oil Deal On The Verge Of Collapse As Russia Balks At U.S. ‘Cuts’”, oilprice.com)

Putin is being reasonable and fair. If everyone else is forced to cut supply, then US oil producers should have to cut supply too. But they don’t want to share the pain, so they’ve settled on a strategy for weaseling out of it. They want their reductions in output (from weak demand during the pandemic) to count as “production cuts”. They even have a name for this swindle, they call it “organic production cuts”, which means no cuts at all. This is the way hucksters do business not responsible adults.

What does Putin want from this deal?

Price stability. Yes, he’d like to see prices settle somewhere north of $45 per barrel but that’s not going to happen for a while. The combination of a weaker demand (due to the coronavirus) and oversupply (from the Saudis flooding the market) have ensured that prices will remain low for the foreseeable future. Even so, Putin understood what the Saudis were doing by flooding the market, and he knew it wasn’t directed at Russia. The Saudis were trying to persuade US oil producers to stop freeloading and cut production like everyone else. That’s the long and short of it. Check out this excerpt from an article by oil expert, Simon Watkins at oilprice.com:Did the U.S. and the Saudis Conspire to Push Down Oil Prices?

“Saudi Arabia was continually peeved …(because) its efforts to keep oil prices up through various OPEC and OPEC+ agreements were allowing these very shale producers to make a lot more money than the Saudis, relatively speaking. The reason for this was that U.S. shale producers…. were not bound in to the OPEC/OPEC+ production quotas so could fill the output gaps created by OPEC producers.” (“The Sad Truth About The OPEC+ Production Cut”, Simon Watkins, oilprice.com)

This is what the media fails to tell their readers, that US oil producers– who don’t participate in any collective effort to stabilize prices– have been exploiting OPEC production quotas in order to fatten the bottom line at the expense of others. US producers figured out how to game the system and make a bundle in the process. Is it any wonder why the Saudis were pissed?? Here’s more from the same article:

“This allowed the U.S. a rolling 3-4 million bpd advantage over Saudi in the oil exports game, meaning that it quickly became the world’s number one oil producer…. Hence, Saudi Arabia decided initially to unilaterally announce its intention for the last OPEC+ deal to be much bigger than that which it had pre-agreed with Russia, hoping to ambush the Russians into agreeing. Russia, however, turned around and told Saudi Arabia to figuratively go and reproduce with itself. MbS,… then decided to launch an all-out price war.” (oilprice.com)

So you can see that this really had nothing to do with Russian at all. The Crown Prince was simply frustrated at the way US oil producers were gaming the system, which is why he felt like he had to respond by flooding the market. The obvious target was the US shale oil industry that was taking advantage of the quotas, refusing to cooperate with fellow oil producers and generally freeloading off the existing quota system.

And what’s funny, is that as soon as the Saudis started putting the screws to the US fracking gang, they all scampered off to Washington en masse to beg for help from Papa Trump. Which is why Trump decided to make emergency calls to Moscow and Riyadh to see if he could hash out a deal.

It’s worth noting that domestic oil producers have been involved in other dodgy activities in the past. Check out this excerpt from an article in the Guardian in 2014, the last time oil prices crashed:

“After standing at well over $110 a barrel in the summer, the cost of crude has collapsed. Prices are down by a quarter in the past three months….

Think about how the Obama administration sees the state of the world. It wants Tehran to come to heel over its nuclear programme. It wants Vladimir Putin to back off in eastern Ukraine. But after recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House has no desire to put American boots on the ground. Instead, with the help of its Saudi ally, Washington is trying to drive down the oil price by flooding an already weak market with crude. As the Russians and the Iranians are heavily dependent on oil exports, the assumption is that they will become easier to deal with

The Saudis did something similar in the mid-1980s. Then, the geopolitical motivation for a move that sent the oil price to below $10 a barrel was to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s regime….

Washington’s willingness to play the oil card stems from the belief that domestic supplies of energy from fracking make it possible for the US to become the world’s biggest oil producer. In a speech last year, Tom Donilon, then Barack Obama’s national security adviser, said the US was now less vulnerable to global oil shocks. The cushion provided by shale oil and gas “affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our national security goals”. (“Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia”, The Guardian)

This excerpt shows that Washington is more than willing to use the “oil card” if it helps to achieve its geopolitical objectives. Not surprisingly, good buddy, Saudi Arabia, has historically played a key role in helping to promote those goals. The current incident, however, is the exact opposite. The Saudis aren’t helping the US achieve its objectives, quite the contrary, they’re lashing out in frustration. They feel like they’re being squeezed by Washington (and US producers) and they want to prove that they have the means to fight back. Flooding the market was just MBS’s way of “letting off steam”.

Trump understands this, but he also understands who ultimately calls the shots, which is why he took the unusual step of explicitly warning the Saudis that they’d better shape up and step in line or there’d be hell to pay. Here’s a little background that will help to connect the dots:

“..the deal made in 1945 between the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Saudi King at the time, Abdulaziz, that has defined the relationship between the two countries ever since… the deal that was struck between the two men on board the U.S. Navy cruiser Quincy… was that the U.S. would receive all of the oil supplies it needed for as long as Saudi Arabia had oil in place, in return for which the U.S. would guarantee the security of the ruling House of Saud. The deal has altered slightly ever since the rise of the U.S. shale oil industry and Saudi Arabia’s attempt to destroy it from 2014 to 2016, in that the U.S. still guarantees the security of the House of Saud but it also expects Saudi Arabia not only to supply the U.S. with whatever oil it needs for as long as it can but also – and this is key to everything that has followed – it also allows the U.S. shale industry to continue to function and to grow.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, if t his means that the Saudis lose out to U.S. shale producers by keeping oil prices up but losing out on export opportunities to these U.S. firms then tough..

As U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear whenever he has sensed a lack of understanding on the part of Saudi Arabia for the huge benefit that the U.S. is doing the ruling family: “He [Saudi King Salman] would not last in power for two weeks without the backing of the U.S. military.” (“The Sad Truth About The OPEC+ Production Cut”, Simon Watkins, Oil Price)

Trump felt like he had to remind the Saudis how the system actually works: Washington gives the orders and the Saudi’s obey. Simple, right? In fact, the Crown Prince has already slashed oil production dramatically and is fully complying with Trump’s directives, because he knows if he doesn’t, he’s going to wind up like Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, US shale oil producers won’t be required to make any cuts at all or, as the New York Times puts it: “It was not immediately clear if the Trump administration made a formal commitment to cut production in the United States.”

Got that? So everyone else cuts production, everyone else sees their revenues shrink, and everyone else pitches-in to put a floor under prices. Everyone except the “exceptional” American oil producers from the exceptional United States. They don’t have to do a damn thing.

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COVID-19: Why the US Has the Highest Infection Rate

By Global Research News

*     *     *

US Hospitals Getting Paid More to Label Cause of Death as ‘Coronavirus’

By Wayne Dupree,

Senator Scott Jensen represents Minnesota. He’s also a doctor. He appeared on Fox News with Laura Ingram where he revealed a very disturbing piece of information.

Dr. Scott Jensen says the American Medical Association is now “encouraging” doctors to overcount coronavirus deaths across the country.

Video: The Discourse Surrounding Trump’s Handling of COVID-19: Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai

By Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai and Christina Aguayo,

“Unfortunately this guy Fauci has been in this environment for nearly 4 decades across multiple presidents and is essentially embedded in this scientific establishment which has created an unfortunate lie about the immune system and an unfortunate lie about the solution to this coronavirus or more importantly infectious disease without any real emphasis which is a real issue about the fact that it is an overactive dysfunctional weakened immune system that overreacts and that’s what causes damage to the body. And unfortunately Fauci has not talked about that because the truth of that leads to a solution which has nothing to do with mandating vaccines and shutting down the country.” –Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai

America: A Nation Over-Obsessed by the Threat of COVID-19 Infection

By Stephen Lendman,

At least eight coronavirus strains exist. Infection rates worldwide differ markedly, some countries more successful in containing outbreaks than others — the US notably unsuccessful, China very successful with four times the population.

Is its healthcare system more advanced than America’s or other Western countries?

Is it because of increasing US indifference toward public health, its infrastructure unprepared to deal with a widespread outbreak of any infectious disease — including healthcare professionals lacking personal protective equipment (PPE) when most needed?

Fitting Together the Pieces of the Coronavirus Puzzle

By Mark Taliano,

The truth lies in the common threads that run through the Coronavirus story, which include Big Money, the billionaire foundations (1), and Big Pharma. These forces, allied with neoliberal ideologies of privatization, deregulation, and the emaciation of the public sphere, have formed toxic alliances that are destroying global economies, as well as the health and welfare of impacted populations.

Minnesota: Doctors Receiving Instructions “to Report Covid19 as a Cause of Death, even if Patient was never Tested”.

By OffGuardian,

Minnesota State Senator Scott Jensen appeared on a local news show to report that doctors were receiving instructions from the Minnesota Department of Health to report Covid19 as a cause of death, even if the patient was never tested.

Senator Jensen, who is also a practising physician, said he had never before in his thirty-five-year career received specific instructions on how to fill out a death certificate

Fake Coronavirus Data, Fear Campaign. Spread of the COVID-19 Infection

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky,

The unspoken truth is that the novel coronavirus provides a pretext to powerful financial interests and corrupt politicians to trigger the entire World into a spiral of  mass unemployment, bankruptcy, extreme poverty and despair.

This is the true picture of what is happening. “Planet Lockdown” is an encroachment on civil liberties and the “Right to Life”. Entire national economies are in jeopardy. In some countries martial law has been declared.

We are Currently Not Measuring the Incidence of Coronavirus Diseases, but the Activity of the Specialists Searching for Them

By Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg,

We are currently not measuring the incidence of coronavirus diseases, but the activity of the specialists searching for them.

Wherever such the new tests are carried out – there about 9000 tests per week available in 38 laboratories throughout Europe on 13 February 2020 – there are at least single cases detected and every case becomes a self-sustaining media event. The fact alone that the discovery of a coronavirus infection is accompanied by a particularly intensive search in its vicinity explains many regional clustersi.

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Boris Is Back as the Blame Game Begins in Britain

By Johanna Ross

Global Research,

A humble Boris Johnson addressed the nation last weekend after his release from hospital.  The British Prime Minister had been admitted the week before after succumbing to coronavirus. In his emotional address, he spoke of the ‘love’ which he had received from the care workers – several of whom he named – that had enabled him to recover from his period in intensive care. He described that two nurses were at his bedside night and day, monitoring him every minute in a situation which was very much touch and go.

This dramatic episode may have boosted Boris Johnson’s popularity, as the nation for a brief time stood shoulder to shoulder with the Prime Minister, but it hasn’t prevented growing criticism of the government’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic to date. Indeed the very fact that the Prime Minister and his team have not been adequately protected from the virus has caused widespread concern. And the situation at the top pretty much reflects that across society, as hospital staff, care workers and other front line public service workers have not been given the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to shield them from the virus. Like lambs to the slaughter, these essential workers have soldiered on, some tragically falling victim to Covid-19. Britain’s renowned Royal College of Nursing has said that staff may have to refuse to treat patients if they are not given adequate PPE. The pressure is mounting on the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to deliver, and deliver fast.

The initial surge of patriotism and unity felt across Britain when lockdown began is starting to wane. People are getting tired of the restrictions, questioning more and more when it will end as the novelty of staying at home is beginning to wear off. Initially the restrictions were to be for a period of three weeks – that time is now up and no more has been said as to when it could end. With signs that the ‘curve’ of the epidemic in the UK is beginning to ‘flatten’, opposition leader Keir Starmer is demanding the publication of the government’s exit strategy i.e. how can we end the lockdown without triggering another rise in cases? It is expected that on Thursday Dominic Raab will announce a further three weeks of lockdown.Britain on the Brink: Boris Johnson Moved to Intensive Care

But more problematic for the government is, that as time goes on, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the country was completely unprepared for a pandemic and that when the first warning signs of such a public health crisis appeared, they were not heeded. Further still, some argue that there are matters that are still being mismanaged. Take the issue of care homes, for example. Patients moving from hospitals into care homes are still not being tested for coronavirus; an extraordinary situation when this is one of the main ways in which the disease enters the home. I myself know of a particular case where a patient was admitted to hospital from a care home, contracted the virus undetected, before returning to the home where she passed the virus on to a number of patients and staff. In England we do not in fact know the number of elderly who have died from coronavirus – it is not included in the daily death toll announcements. But Scotland has released its figures, showing that a quarter of its total deaths were elderly people in care homes – 237 to date. As a result, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that every patient now returning from a hospital into a care home would be tested. This of course does not completely exclude the possibility of an individual carrying the virus from spreading it in the home, as the test only identifies Covid-19 if someone is exhibiting symptoms, but it is a start. The Health Secretary will now be under increased pressure to follow suit, despite confirming on Wednesday that patients would continue to be transferred from hospital to care home without testing. Charities and local authorities have said the policy is ‘madness’ and that it is effectively ‘importing death into care homes’ as one care home owner in Devon put it.

The issue of testing is one of the main points of contention in the coronavirus debate.  Early on the WHO issued advice to all countries to ‘test, test, test’ but the UK government initially took a different stance. According to Richard Horton, editor in chief of the Lancet medical journal, the government ignored the basic public health interventions needed at the time – testing, isolation and quarantine – which were so effectively implemented by China.  Boris Johnson then downplayed the necessity of testing, arguing that Covid-19 could be spread by asymptomatic carriers and not all tests could be relied upon. Indeed, back in early March Boris Johnson himself had said that coronavirus was a ‘mild to moderate illness’ for the vast majority, whose spread could be prevented by simply washing your hands. He then prided himself in continuing to shake hands with people. One month later the Prime Minister was in intensive care, fighting for his life.

Now the UK is having to play catch-up by trying to obtain coronavirus tests at a time when they are most sought after. It is struggling to meet 25,000 tests a day for hospital staff and patients and far off the target of 100,000 tests a day previously announced by Boris Johnson. The curve may be beginning to flatten, but Britain is certainly not out of the woods yet.

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Coronavirus: Economic and Social Collapse: Mass Unemployment, Bankruptcy, Poverty and Despair

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

There is a serious health crisis which must be duly resolved. But there is another important dimension which has to be addressed. 

Millions of people have lost their jobs, and their lifelong savings. In developing countries, poverty and despair prevail. 

While the lockdown is presented to public opinion as  the sole means to resolving a global public health crisis,  its devastating economic and social impacts are casually ignored.  

The entire World has been precipitated into a spiral of  mass unemployment, bankruptcy and extreme poverty. 

VIDEO: Coronavirus: Economic and Social Collapse: Mass Unemployment, Bankruptcy, Poverty and Despair

Summarized Timeline  

(For Complete Analysis and Timeline click Here)

October 18, Event 201. New York. Coronavirus nCoV-2019 Simulation and Emergency Preparedness Task Force, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health Security.  Big Pharma-Big Money Simulation Exercise sponsored by WEF and Gates Foundation 

Simulation Exercise of a coronavirus epidemic which results in 65 million dead. Supported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) representing the interests of Financial institutions, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation representing Big Pharma.

January 1, 2020: Chinese health authorities close the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market after Western media reports that wild animals sold there may have been the source of the virus. This initial assessment was subsequently refuted by Chinese scientists.

January 7, 2020: Chinese authorities “identify a new type of virus” which was isolated  on 7 January. The coronavirus was named 2019-nCoV by the WHO exactly the same name as that adopted in the WEF-Gates-John Hopkins October 18, 2019 simulation exercise. 

January 21-24, 2020: Consultations at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland under auspices of  the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for development of a vaccine program. CEPI is a WEF-Gates partnership. With support from CIPI, Seattle based Moderna will manufacture an mRNA vaccine against 2019-nCoV, “The Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH, collaborated with Moderna to design the vaccine.”

January  30, 2020Geneva: WHO Director General determines that the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This decision was taken on the basis of 150 confirmed cases outside China, First case of person to person transmission in US is reported, 6 cases in the US, 3 cases in Canada, 2 in the UK.

The WHO Director General had the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Big Pharma and the World Economic Forum (WEF). There are indications that the decision for the WHO to declare a Global Emergency was taken on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos (January 21-24) overlapping with the Geneva January 22 meeting of the Emergency Committee.COVID-19 Coronavirus “Fake” Pandemic: Timeline and Analysis

Both WHO’s Director Tedros as well as Bill Gates were present at Davos 2020. Bill Gates announced the Gates Foundation’s $10 billion commitment to vaccines over the next 10 years.

January 30, 2020 The Simulation Exercise Went Live. The same corporate interests and foundations which were involved in the October 18 John Hopkins Simulation Exercise became REAL ACTORS involved in providing their support to the implementation of the WHO Public Health emergency (PHEIC).

January 31, 2020 – One day later following the launch of WHO Global Emergency, The Trump administration announced that it will deny entry to foreign nationals “who have traveled in China in the last 14 days”. This immediately triggers a crisis in air transportation, China-US trade as well as the tourism industry, leading to substantial bankruptcies, not to mention unemployment.

Immediately triggers a campaign against ethnic Chinese throughout the Western World.

Early February: the acronym of the coronavirus was changed from nCoV- 2019 (its name under the October Event 201 John Hopkins Simulation Exercise before it was identified in early January 2020) to COVID-19.

February 28, 2020: A massive WHO vaccination campaign was announced by WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus  

Late February 2020. Collapse of the stock markets, surge in the value of the stocks of Big Pharma.

Early March devastating consequences for the tourist industry Worldwide.

February 24:  Moderna Inc supported by CIPI announced  that it experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was ready for human testing.

Late February 2020. Second wave of transmission of the virus (Worldwide) to a large number of countries.

Late February – Early March: China: More than 50% of the infected patients recover and are discharged from the hospitals. March 3, a total of 49,856 patients have recovered from COVID-19 and were discharged from hospitals in China.

March 7: USA: The number of “confirmed cases” (infected and recovered) in the United States in early March is of the order of 430, rising to about 6oo (March 8). Rapid rise in the course of March.

Compare that to the figures pertaining to the Influenza B Virus: The CDC estimates for 2019-2020 “at least 15 million virus flu illnesses… 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths. (The Hill)

Early March:  IMF and World Bank To the Rescue 

The WHO Director General advises member countries that “the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have both made funds available to stabilize health systems and mitigate the economic consequences of the epidemic”. That is the proposed neoliberal  “solution” to COVID-19. The World Bank has committed $12billion in so-called “aid” which will contribute to building up the external debt of developing countries.

March 7:  China: The Pandemic is Almost Over

Reported new cases in China fall to double digit99 cases recorded on March 7.  All of the new cases outside Hubei province are categorized as  “imported infections”(from foreign countries).

March 10-11, 2020: Italy declares a lockdown, followed by several other countries of the EU.  Deployment of 30,000 US troops in the EU as part of the “Defend Europe 2020” war games directed against Russia.

March 11, 2020: the Director General of the WHO officially declares the COV-19 Pandemic. Bear in mind the global health emergency was declared on January 3oth without stating officially the existence of a pandemic outside Mainland China.

March 11:  Trump orders the suspension for 30 days of all transatlantic flights from countries of the European Union, with the exception of Britain. Coincides with the collapse of airline stocks and a new wave of financial instability. Devastating impacts on the tourist industry in Western Europe.

March 16: Moderna  mRNA-1273 is tested in several stages with 45 volunteers in Seattle, Washington State. The vaccine program started in early February:

“We don’t know whether this vaccine will induce an immune response, or whether it will be safe. That’s why we’re doing a trial,” Jackson stressed. “It’s not at the stage where it would be possible or prudent to give it to the general population.” (AP, March 16, 2020)

March 21, 2020: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while addressing the American people from the White House stated that COVID-19 is a live military exercise.

This is not about retribution, … This matter is going forward — we are in a live exercise here to get this right.”

With a disgusted look on his face, President Trump replied: “You should have let us know.”

April 8, 2020: Mounting fear campaign led by Western media. Very rapid increase in so-called “confirmed cases”. “1,282,931 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 72,776 deaths, reported to WHO” (April 8). Mounting doubts on the reported “confirmed cases” of COVID-19. Failures of the CDC’s categorization and statistical estimates.

March- April: Planet Lockdown. Devastating economic and social consequences. The economic and social impacts far exceed those attributed to the coronavirus. Cited below are selected examples of  a global process: 

  • Massive job losses and layoffs in the US, with more than 10 million workers filing claims for unemployment benefits.
  • In India,  a 21 days lockdown has triggered a wave of famine and despair affecting millions of homeless migrant workers all over the country. No lockdown for the homeless: “too poor to afford a meal”.  
  • The impoverishment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa is beyond description. For large sectors of the urban population, household income has literally been wiped out.
  • In Italy, the destabilization of the tourist industry has resulted in bankruptcies and rising unemployment. 
  • In many countries, citizens are the object of police violence. Five people involved in protests against the lockdown were killed by police in Kenya and South Africa.

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“World War C” Presents a Host of Challenges for Central Asia

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research,

Central Asia is at risk of collapse if the socio-economic consequences of World War C aren’t addressed after much-needed remittance flows from Russia were abruptly cut off as a result of that country’s emergency quarantine measures, which in turn could inadvertently make the already impoverished population there much more susceptible to criminal and terrorist influences unless Russia, China, Pakistan, Turkey, and the US coordinate their existing efforts to turn Central Asia into the connectivity crossroads of the supercontinent so as to give the region’s people credible hope for the future.

Political analysts are scrambling to predict what the COVID World Order will look like upon the end of World War C, but few (if any) to the best of the author’s knowledge have addressed the consequences that global pandemic will have on Central Asia despite the landlocked region’s strategic position between Russia, China, Afghanistan, and Iran, among other important players in close proximity such as Pakistan and Turkey. This part of the world is usually stereotyped in most of the public imagination simply as “The ‘Stans”, which people assume are underdeveloped, sometimes energy-rich, authoritarian states. That impression is largely true, to be honest, but there are three more important details to know about the region.

Central Asia faces serious internal and external Hybrid War threats stemming from simmering ethno-regional tensions within and between “The ‘Stans” (despite tremendous progress in resolving these issues over the past few years since the passing of former Uzbek President Karimov in 2016) and the lingering possibility that fundamentalist Islamic ideologies from abroad might one day become more appealing, respectively. The region also has the very promising potential of serving as the connectivity crossroads of Eurasia by virtue of its geostrategic position, though the hitherto lack of progress that’s been made on this front up until recently is why millions of economic migrants left for Russia to support their families back home through remittances.

Therein lies the most immediate trigger for a chaotic chain reaction of consequences in the region stemming from World War C since these much-needed remittance flows have been abruptly cut off as a result of the emergency containment measures implemented by Moscow over the past few weeks, which will surely have very serious ramifications in Central Asia. According to the World Bank, remittances accounted for the following percentage of GDP by relevant country: 33% for the Kyrgyz Republic; 29% for Tajikistan; and 15% for Uzbekistan. Most dangerously, the first two countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) have a history of violent unrest, with the first suffering two Color Revolutions in 2005 and 2010 and the second a civil war from 1992-1997.

The fact that their economic lifelines have been cut off bodes extremely negatively for their future stability, as it does for Uzbekistan’s as well though the latter has a history of being able to better manager these sorts of threats. Still, Uzbekistan would be adversely affected by any outbreak of instability in its two fragile neighbors, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that ISIS is trying to carve out a caliphate in Afghanistan, one which it intends to expand into Central Asia one day. There’s a risk that the already impoverished populations of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan might become more susceptible to criminal and/or terrorist influences the worse that their economic situation gets as a result of the abrupt shutdown of remittance flows from Russia.

Russia and China can’t afford to see Central Asia collapse as one of the most dramatic consequences of World War C since this would directly endanger their own security. Apart from the obvious threat that a growing black hole of instability would pose for them in the sense of becoming a new terrorist hotspot, the collapse of the region could cause millions of refugees to flee to Russia due to the extensive chain migration networks that they’ve established there since the dissolution of the USSR. This could in turn catalyze an unprecedented Migrant Crisis in the Eurasian Heartland which could also likely lead to the fleeing masses transforming into a swarm of “Weapons of Mass Migration” in terms of how destabilizing their sudden influx into Russia would be.

There’s no silver bullet solution to this dark scenario, but it would nevertheless be helpful if the regional states and the stakeholders in their stability (Russia, China, Pakistan, Turkey, and even the US as explained by the author in his piece titled “The US’ Central Asian Strategy Isn’t Sinister, But That Doesn’t Mean It’ll Succeed“) coordinated their efforts in order to ensure that Central Asians’ immediate socio-economic needs are met. Russia, China, Turkey, and the US could follow in the EU’s footsteps after the bloc allocated €48 million to Tajikistan for this purpose and extended an earlier €30 million loan, whether they do this jointly or on their own bilaterally with each of the three relevant countries (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan).

Without taking care of people’s pressing socio-economic needs, there’s no way to guarantee that they won’t become politically and/or religiously radicalized throughout the course of World War C as their living standards continue to plummet as a combined result of their own countries’ emergency quarantine measures and the abrupt shutdown of much-needed remittance flows from Russia for the same reason. This short-term solution won’t suffice for anything longer than the duration of the crisis and its immediate aftermath since what’s urgently required is visionary thinking aimed at reducing these geostrategically positioned countries’ dependence on remittances, especially since not all migrants might return to Russia after the crisis.

The Eurasian Great Power might be compelled to limit migration flows in the coming COVID World Order, both for self-explanatory health reasons but also to provide newly unemployed Russians with the opportunity to replace Central Asian workers in jobs that used to ironically be described as the ones that “Russians don’t want to do” (the same as how the jobs occupied by Latin American migrants in the US are described as the ones that “Americans don’t want to do”). It’s for this reason why all interested stakeholders should invest in turning Central Asia into the connectivity crossroads of the supercontinent, which was already an uncoordinated plan in progress prior to the onset of World War C.

The existing projects are the Eurasian Land Bridge between China, Kazakhstan, and Russia and the Middle Corridor connecting China and Turkey through Central Asia and the Caucasus (via the Caspian), while N-CPEC+ (the proposed northern expansion of CPEC connecting the global pivot state of Pakistan and Russia through Afghanistan and Central Asia) is a promising prospective one that might even see some American investment per what was explained in the previously hyperlinked article about the US’ regional strategy. Should tangible progress be made on these projects, then they could provide some limited employment opportunities to Central Asians in the short-term but also limitless other ones in the long one upon completion.

Whether as merchants, laborers in newly created factories (likely built by foreign investment), or service industry employees, the common denominator linking together these connectivity corridors is that they provide credible job opportunities to Central Asians that could in turn reduce the likelihood of them becoming susceptible to criminal and/or terrorist influences. The priority focus for all interested players must be on crafting long-term solutions that replace the lost remittance flows from Russia with a plethora of local job opportunities that ultimately culminate in the gradual diversification and development of the Central Asian economies. It’s a daunting task that won’t be accomplished right a way, but it’s the best strategy to pursue.

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The Coronavirus and the Economic Crisis this Time

By Prof. Sam Gindin

Global Research,

“…so many of the out-of-the way things had happened lately, that Alice has begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

Crises – not regular downturns but major crises – are characterized by the uncertainty they bring. They interrupt the normal and require yet-to-be discovered abnormal responses in order for us to move on. In the midst of these periodic calamities, we don’t know how or even whether we will stumble out of them nor what to expect if they do end. Crises are, consequently, moments of turmoil with openings for new political developments, good and bad.

Because each such crisis modifies the trajectory of history, the subsequent crisis occurs in a changed context and so has its own distinct features. The crisis of the 70s, for example, involved a militant working class, a challenge to the American dollar, and a qualitative acceleration in the role of finance and of globalization. The crisis of 2008-09, on the other hand, involved a largely defeated working class, confirmed the central global role of the dollar, and brought new ways of managing a uniquely finance-dependent economy. Like the previous crisis, the 2008-09 crisis yielded more neoliberal financialization, but this time it also opened the doors to right-wing populism alongside an acute disorientation of traditional political parties.

The Crisis This Time: Health Versus the Economy

The crisis this time is unique in an especially topsy-turvy way. The world, as Alice would express it, is getting “curiouser and curiouser.” In past capitalist crises, the state intervened to try and get the economy going again. This time, the immediate focus of states is not on how to revive the economy, but how to further restrict it. This is obviously so because the economy hasn’t been brought to its knees by economic factors or struggles from below, but rather, by a mysterious virus. Ending its hold over us is the first priority. In introducing the language of ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-quarantine’ to cope with the emergency, governments have suspended the social interactions that constitute a good part of the world of work and consumption, the world of the economy.

This accent on health, while putting the economy on the backburner, has brought a rather remarkable reversal in political discourse. A few short months ago the leader of France was the darling of business everywhere for leading the charge to decisively weaken the welfare state. France would become, he heralded, a business-friendly nation that “thinks and moves like a start-up.” Today Emmanuel Macron is gravely proclaiming that “[f]ree healthcare … and our welfare state are precious resources, indispensable advantages when destiny strikes.”

Macron was not alone in scrambling to reverse himself. Politicians of all stripes raised the idea of limiting factory production to socially necessary products like ventilators, hospital beds, protective masks and gloves. Telling corporations what they should produce became commonplace, with the UK’s conservative Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, calling on auto companies to “switch from building cars to ventilators” and President Trump, astonishingly going further and “ordering” GM to make ventilators under the Defense Production Act. In this new world, it’s hard to remember that over the past year any suggestion of doing what political leaders are now themselves demanding was ignored or derisively waved off, and not only by them and by business, but even by some key union leaders.

At the same time, to those who previously turned a blind eye, the crisis graphically exposed the extreme fragility of working-class budgets. With so many people facing severe deprivation and the threat of social chaos, all levels of government have been forced to address people’s basic health and survival needs. Republicans are now joining Democrats in proposing legislation to postpone mortgage payments, tighten rent controls and cancel interest payments on student debt. Their disagreements are generally not over whether to get more money to workers forced to stay home and to radically improve sick pay and unemployment insurance, but how significant these supports should be. During the Great Depression there was a similar political shift that legitimated social programs and labour rights. However that development was a concession to popular mobilization; this time, it is a response to the extent of the health pandemic and the need to keep people away from work.

This is not to say that the ‘economic’ is being ignored, only that its traditional precedence is taking a back seat to the social, i.e., the health threat. There remains a deep and concerted effort to preserve enough of the economic infrastructure (production, services, trade, finance) to facilitate a return to some semblance of normality ‘later’. This is leading to massive bailouts and this time – unlike the crisis of 2008-09 – the money is flowing not just to banks but also to sectors like air travel, hotels and restaurants, and in particular to small and medium sized businesses.

The economy was foremost in the mind of Trump in his initial casual response to the health crisis, leading one exasperated blogger to comment that “if the Martians invaded earth, our first response would be to lower interest rates.” After Trump was convinced by his advisors that this response would not do, a far more sombre Donald Trump appeared on our screens, winning praise for looking and sounding properly presidential and decisive. The Democratic establishment, which had to that point focussed on defeating Sanders – in part because they feared Trump would exploit Sanders’ radicalism electorally, in part because they feared the implications of a Sanders victory for their hold on the party – were now kept awake by another scenario: what if Trump’s emergency measures pre-empts the Dems from the left. “Up is down, north is south” a Democratic Party insider wryly commented.

Consistent in his inconsistency, Trump turned on a dime again, a matter of his own business and populist instincts and reinforced by the stock market, Fox News and the business leaders that had his ear. The lock-down, he announced, will be over in a matter of “days, not weeks or months.” This mindless declaration couldn’t prevail as the body count grew and hospitals were overwhelmed, and we were reminded – not for the last time – that by virtue of America’s place in the world, Trump was not only the most powerful of world leaders, but also the most dangerous.

Contradictions of Money Printing

Governments everywhere have magically found a way to pay for all kinds of programs and supports written off as impossible before. The sky, it seems, is the limit. But leaving aside the crucial issue of whether, after years of cutbacks in funds and skills, states have the administrative capacity to fully carry out such programs, can this all really be paid for by simply printing money?

The common critique is that in economies at or near full employment, such massive injections of funds will be inflationary. Though there will be bottlenecks and possible inflation in certain sectors, in the current reality of record idle capacity the inflationary concern can be ignored. And with every country being disciplined to take the same actions by the pandemic, the usual discipline of capital outflows is inoperable – there is nowhere to run to. Yet, contradictions there are, though in our present circumstances they now take a different form.

First, there is, in fact no free lunch. After the crisis is over, the emergency expenditures will have to be paid for. This will occur in a context in which, having experienced the possibility of programs previously characterized as impractical, people’s expectations will have been raised. As Vijay Prashad defiantly expressed it, “We won’t go back to normal, because normal was the problem.” Once the economy is operating at full tilt again, meeting the new working-class expectations will no longer be possible through reviving the money presses. There is only so much labour and so many natural resources around and choices will have to be made over who gets what; the questions of inequality and redistribution will, given the history before and during the crisis, be intensified.

Second, as the crisis begins to fade this will happen unevenly. So, the flow of capital may restart, and if it flows out of the countries still suffering, this raises large questions about the morality of capital flows. And even when all countries have escaped the health pandemic, they will be eager to move on, and to the extent that financial ‘discipline’ returns, people may not take too kindly to their recovery and development being undermined by self-serving capital flows – not after a second bailout in a dozen years that was ultimately financed by the rest of us. The assumption that financial markets are untouchable may no longer hold; people may perhaps come to think, like Alice, that “very few things indeed were really impossible.” To the rebellion against the extent of inequality might be added a backlash calling for capital controls.

It’s true that the global status of the US dollar allows for a degree of American exceptionalism. In times of uncertainty – and even when, as with the US mortgage crisis of 2007-09, it is events in the US that are the source of that uncertainty – there is generally an increased clamor for the dollar. But, here too, there is a limit. For one, the consequent rise in the US exchange rate can make US goods less competitive and further suppress US manufacturing. But more importantly, the international confidence in the dollar has not only rested on the strength of US financial markets but has been conditional, as well, on the US as a safe haven with a working class that is economically and politically pliant. If that working class were to rebel, the dollar as safe haven would be less definitive. The size and direction of capital flows might become more problematic even for the US (and even if this did not lead to another currency replacing the dollar, it could contribute to a great deal of domestic and international financial chaos).

Openings to the Left?

We don’t know how long this crisis will last; much clearly depends on that contingency. Nor can we say with any confidence how this unpredictable and fluid moment will affect society and influence our notions of what was formerly ‘normal’. In such uncertain and anxious times, what most people likely crave is a quick return to normality, even if what was earlier normal included no shortage of great frustrations. Such inclinations come with a deference to authority to get us through the calamity, something that has some concerned about a new wave of state authoritarianism.

We should of course never underestimate the dangers from the right. And who knows what the dynamics of a crisis extending past the summer may bring. But the contours of this crisis suggest a different possibility: a predisposition, rather, for greater openings and opportunities for the political left. Underlying the examples noted above is that, at least for now, markets have been side-lined. The urgency over how we allocate labour, resources, and equipment has set aside considerations of competitiveness and maximizing private profits, and instead reoriented priorities to what is socially essential.

Moreover, as the financial system heads into uncharted territory again and looks to another boundless bail-out from central banks and the state, a population exasperatedly watching history repeat itself may, as raised above, not be as a passive as it was a dozen years ago. People will no doubt reluctantly again accept their immediate dependence on saving the banks, but politicians cannot help but worry about a popular backlash if this time there is no effective quid pro quo forced on the bankers.

And, as well, a cultural change – still too hard to assess – may be afoot. The nature of the crisis and the social restrictions essential to overcoming it have made mutuality and solidarity, against individualism and neoliberal greed, the order of the day. An indelible image of the crisis this time sees quarantined yet inventive Italians, Spaniards, and Portuguese coming out on their balconies to collectively sing, cheer and clap tributes to the courage of the health workers, often low paid, doing the most essential work on the front lines of the global war against the coronavirus.

All this opens up the prospect – but only the prospect – of a reorientation in social outlooks as the crisis, and the state responses to it, unfold. What was once taken for granted as ‘natural’ may now be vulnerable to larger questions about how we should live and relate. For economic and political elites this clearly has its dangers. The trick, for them, is to make sure that actions that are currently unavoidable and whose eventual outcome is unpredictable are limited in scope and time bound. Once the crisis is comfortably over, uncomfortable ideas and chancy measures must be put back in their box and the lid firmly shut. For popular forces, on the other hand, the challenge lies in keeping that box open through taking advantage of the promising ideological prospects that have emerged, building on some of the positive – even radical – policy steps introduced, and exploring the varied creative actions that have been taken locally in so many places.

From each according to ability to pay, to each according to needs

The most obvious ideological shift brought on by the crisis has been in attitudes to healthcare. Opposition in the US to single-payer healthcare today looks all the more other-worldly. Elsewhere, those tolerating healthcare for all but determined to impose cuts that left the healthcare system far overstretched, and those seeing healthcare as another commodity to be administered by emulating business practices rooted in profitability, are in awkward retreat. Their frame has been exposed for how dangerously unprepared it left us for dealing with emergencies.

As we look to consolidate this new mood, we should not be content with the defensive game. This is a moment to think more ambitiously and insist on a far more comprehensive notion of what ‘healthcare’ encompasses. This ranges across long-standing demands for dental, drug, and eye-care programs. It highlights the adequacy of long-term care facilities, particularly those that are private but also those in public hands. It asks why personal care workers who take care of the sick, disabled and old aren’t part of the public health system and unionized and treated accordingly. And, especially given the shortages of essential equipment we now confront, it poses the question of whether the entire chain of healthcare provision, including the manufacture of health equipment, should be in the public domain where present and future needs could be properly planned.

Thinking bigger extends to the connection between food and health; to housing policy and the contradiction between insisting on social distancing and the persistence of crowded homeless shelters; to child care; and to making permanent the temporary sick days now on offer. It extends as well, to taking ‘universality’ seriously enough to extend it to the migrants who work our fields and the refugees who have been forced out of their communities (often as a result of international policies sanctioned by our governments). Most generally, if we win and consolidate the healthcare principle of “from each according to ability to pay, to each according to need” (with ability to pay determined through a progressive tax structure), that victory would be an inspirational and strategic boost to extending socialized medicine’s core principle throughout the economy.

The existential need for antidotes to avoid pandemics places a special responsibility on global drug companies. They have failed us. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and no stranger to making financial decisions, explained this failure in the accounting terms of pandemic products being “extraordinary high-risk investments” – a polite way of saying that corporations won’t adequately address the investments involved without massive government funding. The historian Adam Tooze put this more directly: when it comes to pharma companies prioritizing the social over the profitable, “obscure coronaviruses don’t get the same attention as erectile dysfunction.”

The point is that the provision of medicines and vaccines is too important to leave to private companies with their private priorities. If Big Pharma will only do the research on dangerous future vaccines if governments take the risk, fund the research, find themselves funding the accompanying manufacturing capacity, and coordinate the distribution of the drugs and vaccines to those who need them, the obvious question is why don’t we cut out the self-serving middle-man? Why not place all this directly in the hands of the public as part of an integrated healthcare system?

The Pandemic Next Time

The lack of preparedness for the coronavirus sends the clearest and scariest warning about not just the next possible pandemic, but the one already circling over and around us. The looming environmental crisis will not be solved by social distancing or a new vaccine. As with the coronavirus, the longer we wait to decisively address it, the more catastrophic it will be. But unlike the coronavirus, the environmental crisis is not only about ending a temporary health crisis, but also about fixing the damage already done. As such, it demands transforming everything about how we live, work, travel, play, and relate to each other. This requires maintaining and developing the productive capacities to carry out the necessary changes in our infrastructure, homes, factories, and offices.

As conventional as the idea of conversion is now becoming, it is in fact a radical idea. The well-meaning slogan of a ‘just transition’ sounds reassuring but falls short. Those it is intended to win over rightly ask ‘who will carry out such a guarantee?’ The point is that restructuring the economy and prioritizing the environment can’t happen without comprehensive planning. And planning implies a challenge to the private-property rights that corporations now enjoy.

At a minimum, a National Conversion Agency should be established with a mandate to ban the closing of facilities that could be converted to serve environmental (and health) needs and to oversee that conversion. Workers could call on that agency as whistleblowers if they think their workplace is moving to redundancy. The existence of such an institution would encourage workers to occupy closed workplaces as more than an act of protest; rather than appealing to a corporation that is no longer interested in the facility, their actions could focus on the conversion agency and push it to carry out its mandate.

Such a national agency would have to be twinned with a national labour board responsible for coordinating the training and reallocation of labour. It would also be supplemented with regional tech-conversion centers employing hundreds if not thousands of young engineers enthusiastic to use their skills to address the existential challenge of the environment. And locally-elected environmental boards would monitor community conditions while locally-elected job development boards would link community and environmental needs to jobs, workplace conversions and the development of worker and plant capacities – all funded federally as part of a national plan and all also rooted in active neighbourhood committees and workplace committees.

The Banks: Once Bitten Twice Shy

Everything we hope to do in the way of significant change will have to confront the dominance of private financial institutions over our lives. The financial system has all the earmarks of a public utility: it greases the wheels of the economy, both production and consumption, mediates government policy, and is treated as indispensable whenever it itself is in trouble. We do not, however, have either the political power or the technical capacity to take over finance today and use it for different purposes. The issue, therefore, is twofold: first, to place the question on the public agenda; if we do not discuss it now, the moment will never be ripe for raising it; second, we need to carve out specific spaces within the financial system as part of both achieving particular priorities and of developing the knowledge and skills for eventually running the financial system in our own interests.

A logical starting place is to establish two particular government owned banks: one to finance the infrastructural demands that have been so badly neglected; the other to finance the Green New Deal and conversion. If these banks have to compete to get funds and earn the returns to pay off those loans, little will change. The political decision to establish these banks would have to include, as Scott Aquanno argues in a forthcoming paper, the politically-determined infusions of cash to do what private banks have been doing so inadequately: investing in projects that have a high, if risky, social return and low profits by conventional measures. That initial funding could come from a levy on all financial institutions – payback for the massive bailouts they received from the state. (With a solid financial base in place, these public banks could also borrow in financial markets without being beholden to them.)

Democratic Planning: An Oxymoron?

When the left speaks of democratic planning it is referencing a new kind of state – one that expresses the public will, encourages the widest popular involvement, and actively develops the popular capacity to participate, as opposed to reducing people to commodified workers, data points, passive citizens. Skeptics will scoff, but the remarkable experience we’ve just been going through, indicating how suddenly what was so ‘obviously’ impossible yesterday can be so ‘obviously’ common-sense today, suggests reasons for not writing this off so cavalierly.

It is not so much ‘planning’ itself that scares people. After all, households plan, corporations plan, and even neoliberal states plan. What raises the familiar misgivings, fears, and antagonisms is talk of the kind of extensive planning we are raising here. The unease over this kind of planning cannot be dismissed by simply blaming the bias of corporations and the media and the legacy of cold-war propaganda. Suspicions of powerful states have a material basis not only in failed experiments elsewhere but in popular interactions with states that are indeed bureaucratic, arbitrary, often wasteful, and distant.

Adding the adjective ‘democratic’ doesn’t solve this dilemma. And though international examples may include suggestive policies and structures, the sober truth is that there are no fully convincing models on offer. This leaves us tirelessly repeating our critiques of capitalism; yet, as essential as this is, it is not enough. Skeptics may still fatalistically reply that all systems are inevitably unfair, insensitive to the ‘common man’, and run by and for elites. So why risk the uncertainties of paths that might at best only leave us in much the same place?

What we can do is start with an unambiguous commitment to assure others that we are not advocating an all-powerful state and that we value the liberal freedoms won historically: the expansion of the vote to working people, free speech, the right to assembly (including unionization), protection against arbitrary arrest, and state transparency. And we should insist that taking these principles seriously demands an extensive redistribution of income and wealth so everyone, in substance not just in formal status, has an equal chance to participate.

We should, as well, remind people how far we are from the characterization of capitalism as a world of small property owners. Amazon, to take just one example, was – true to the measures of success under capitalism – already running roughshod over tens of thousands of small businesses before the crisis, driving to maximize its profits and to “control and commodify everyday life.” In the wake of the crisis and the collapse of small retailers, this monopolization is about to become a tsunami. This outcome will be further reinforced by the Canadian government’s recent decision to contract Amazon to be the principal distributor of personal protective equipment across the country, coldly ignoring in the process Amazon’s lack of adequate attention to providing its own workforce with adequate protection against the virus.

The alternative to this mammoth corporation answerable only to itself is, as Mike Davis has suggested, taking it over and making it into a public utility, part of the social infrastructure of how goods get from here to there – an extension, for example, of the post office. It belonging to us, rather than to the richest man in the universe, holds the possibility of its operations being democratically planned to benefit the public.

To realize the democratic side of planning, it’s crucial to address specific mechanisms and institutions that could facilitate new levels of popular participation. In the case of the environment, where it is particularly clear that society-wide planning must be fundamental to addressing the ‘clear and present danger’, a new kind of state would have to include not only new central capacities, but also a range of decentralized planning capacities such as those we referenced earlier: regional research centers, sectoral councils across industries and services, locally elected environmental and job development boards, and workplace and neighbourhood committees.

Notably, the health crisis has highlighted the necessity and potentials of workplace control by those who do the work. This is most obviously so in maximizing their protections from the risks and sacrifices they make on our behalf. But it extends to workers, with their direct knowledge, also acting as guardians of the public interest – using the protection of their unions to act as whistleblowers to expose shortcuts and ‘savings’ that affect product and service safety and quality. Unions have of late come to more widely appreciate the priority of getting the public on side as support toward winning their collective-bargaining battles.

But something more is needed, a step toward more formally linking up with the public in broader political demands (as teachers and healthcare workers are doing informally to some extent). This could, for example, mean fighting within the state to establish joint worker-community councils to monitor and modify programs on an on-going basis. In the private sector, it could mean workplace conversion committees and workplace sectoral councils acting to present their own plans or acting as a counter to national plans addressing planned economic restructuring and conversion to the new environmental reality.

Three points are critical here. First, widespread worker participation demands the expansion of unionization to provide workers an institutional collective to counter employer power. Second, such local and sectoral participation cannot be developed and sustained without involving and transforming states to link national planning and local planning. Third, it is not only states that must be transformed but working-class organizations as well. The failure of unions over the past few decades both in organizing and in addressing their members’ needs is inseparable from their stubborn commitment to a fragmented, defensive unionism within society as it currently exists, as opposed to a class-struggle trade unionism based on broader solidarities and more ambitiously radical visions. This calls for not just ‘better’ unions, but for different and more politicized unions.

Conclusion: Organizing the Class

A particularly important development over the past decade has been the shift from protest to politics: the recognition on the part of popular movements of the limits of protest and the consequent need to address electoral power and the state. Yet we are still struggling with what kind of politics can then, in fact, transform society. In spite of the impressive space created by Corbynism and Sanders via working through established parties, both have run into the limits of these parties, with Corbyn gone and the Sanders ‘insurrection’ seemingly on the wane. The great political danger is that having come this far and been disappointed, and with no clear political home, the combination of individual exhaustion, collective demoralization, and divisions on where to go next may lead to the dissipation of what was so hopefully developing.

Bravado declarations of capitalism’s imminent collapse will not take us very far. They may be popular in some quarters, but in exaggerating the inevitability of capitalism’s approaching breakdown but also obscure what needs doing to engage in the long, hard, indefinite battle to change the world. It is one thing to draw hope from the profound crisis capitalism is experiencing and capitalism’s on-going insanities. But the telling crisis we must focus on is the internal one, the one faced by the left itself. In this particular moment, the following four elements seem fundamental to sustaining and building a relevant left politics.

  1. Defend workers through the present crisisDirectly addressing the immediate needs of working people (broadly defined) is a basic starting point, especially given the present emergency. In the US, Bernie Sanders’ “Emergency Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic” is a valuable resource in this regard, even if it doesn’t go as far as Doug Henwood in a socialist direction (see: “Now Is the Time to Fundamentally Transform America”).
  2. Build/sustain institutional capacitiesIn the absence of a left political party in the US, and with Sanders’ electoral possibilities fading, the issue for the left that has operated within the Democratic Party is how to maintain some institutional independence from the Democratic Party establishment. The only foreseeable way for the left to do so seems to be to strategically choose two or three national campaigns and focus on them. The environment might be one and the fight for universal healthcare health seems a logical second choice. The third might be labour law reform, this being important not only in itself after how much labour has been kicked around, but crucial to altering the balance of class power in America.
  3. Make socialistsThe Sanders campaign demonstrated a surprising potential for raising funds and recruiting tens of thousands of committed activists. Jane McAlevey had argued after Sanders’ defeat in 2016 that this was the time to throw that enthusiasm into establishing regional organizing schools across the US. Building on that, we need to introduce schools that create socialist cadre that can link thinking analytically and strategically to learning how to talk to and organize unconvinced workers and play a role, as socialists did in the 1930s, in not just defending unions but transforming them. The campaigns, the schools, study groups, public forums and news magazines and journals (like Jacobin and Catalyst) would all be infrastructural elements of a possible future left party.
  4. Organize the classAndrew Murray, chief of staff at the British/Irish union UNITE has noted the difference between a left that is ‘focused’ on the working class and one that is ‘rooted’ in it. The greatest weakness of the socialist left is its limited embeddedness in unions and working-class communities. Only if the left can overcome this gap – which is a cultural gap as much as it is a political one – is there any possibility of witnessing the development of a coherent, confident, and independently defiant working class with the capacity and capacity-inspired vision to fundamentally challenge capitalism.

When the 2008-09 financial crisis hit many of us saw this as a definitive discrediting of the financial sector, if not of capitalism itself. We were wrong. The state intervened to save the financial system and financial institutions emerged stronger than ever. Capitalism in its neoliberal form rolled on. This time, the crisis was triggered by a health pandemic, and the challenge to capitalism’s authority is coming out of how states have responded. As one capitalist shibboleth after another was swept aside – ceilings on fiscal deficits, the lack of funds for improving employment insurance, the impracticality of conversion of closing factories, the glorification of corporate pursuit of profits over all else, the devaluation of workers who clean our hospitals and care for the aged – surely we were ripe for radical change?

Maybe. But it has never served the left well to imagine substantive change happening out of objective conditions alone, without building the forces we need to take advantage of those conditions. Change rests on our developing the collective understandings, capacities, practices, strategic insights and above all democratic organizational institutions to do exactly that. We need to convince all those who should be with us but aren’t, elevate popular expectations, and ambitions, and stand up with confidence to those who would block us.

Posted in Health, WorldComments Off on The Coronavirus and the Economic Crisis this Time

In Palestine, COVID-19 Meets the Nazi Occupation

In Palestine, COVID-19 Meets the Israeli Occupation

By Yara Hawari

The first measures taken against COVID-19 in the West Bank occurred in early March after the confirmation of seven cases in Bethlehem that were linked to a Greek tourist group. The Palestinian Authority (PA) declared a state of emergency and imposed a lockdown on the city, banning all entry and exit as well as enforcing a curfew on residents. The PA also announced restrictions across the West Bank, including prohibitions on travel between governorates and the shuttering of public spaces and education facilities. On March 22, following a steady increase in cases, the PA declared a curfew. 1 

In the Gaza Strip, in mid-March Hamas authorities and UNRWA began converting schools into quarantine centers and clinics in preparation for a possible outbreak. On March 21, two Gazans returning from Pakistan tested positive for the virus and were immediately hospitalized. Twenty-nine people were identified to have come into contact with them and were placed in quarantine.

At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed cases in the West Bank is 247 and 12 in Gaza. Although the figures are relatively low, the worry is that the limited amount of testing available means that the number of infected people is in fact much higher.

COVID-19 Meets the Occupation

The West Bank and Gaza Strip are confronting COVID-19 from a reality of Israeli military occupation, which weakens the ability of the Palestinian authorities and the Palestinian people to respond effectively to the deadly virus. While many health care systems around the world are struggling to deal with the pandemic, the 53-year occupation has seriously depleted medical capabilities in the West Bank and Gaza. The donor-dependent system has shortages in equipment, medication, and staff due to such issues as military raids and restrictions on imports. In the Gaza Strip in particular – deemed unliveable by the UN as a result of over 13 years of blockade and multiple wars – the health care system already struggled to deal with medical cases before the pandemic. Indeed, Gaza currently has only 78 ICU beds and 63 ventilators for a population of two million.

Meanwhile, daily manifestations of the occupation persist, such as the continued demolition of Palestinian homes and military raids on Palestinian villages and towns. There have also been direct Israeli attacks on Palestinian attempts to confront the virus, such as the destruction of a COVID 19 clinic in the Jordan Valley and the arrest of Palestinian volunteers attempting to distribute supplies to impoverished communities in East Jerusalem. The Israeli occupation authorities are also failing to take any preventative measures to protect Palestinian political prisoners, who are being illegally incarcerated within a military prison system that fails to meet even basic health and sanitation standards.The Oslo Illusion: The Historical Accords between Palestine and Israel

Political Manipulations

The Israeli regime is using this global crisis not only to distract from its ongoing violations of human rights, but also as a political tool to gain diplomatic leverage. Indeed, international bodies have been commending Israel for its “cooperation” with the PA during this crisis; the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, called such coordination “excellent” during a recent speech. In reality, Israeli “cooperation” includes the Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) “allowing” a minimum of internationally-donated medical supplies to reach the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as was the case with a shipment of 3,000 tests and 50,000 masks from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the PA. This is far below the actual needs of the West Bank.

Those commending the cooperation also point to the issue of the thousands of Palestinian workers in Israel. In an attempt to prevent mass movement and the potential spread of the disease, Israel and the PA reached an agreement that, as of March 18, conditioned Palestinian workers’ continued employment on them staying in Israel for several months rather than returning to the West Bank. Yet the workers were not only deprived of proper protective equipment; Israeli authorities reportedly dumped workers who they suspected of having the virus at checkpoint entrances to the West Bank without informing the PA. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh reversed the decision on March 25, ordering the workers home. The worry is that the PA will not have the capacity to test people upon their return, and Israel has so far not offered to test them.

Shifting the Narrative 

In effect, the Israeli regime, which maintains a violent military occupation and has depleted the capabilities of the Palestinian health care system, is being praised for allowing in tidbits of medical supplies from international actors, despite its responsibility under international law as an occupying power to provide the supplies itself. It is essential that international actors not only support vital humanitarian efforts for immediate medical relief in Palestine but that they also insist on Israel’s responsibility to finance Palestinian medical needs.

It is also imperative to shift the narrative from cooperation and to highlight the Israeli occupation as an instrument of comorbidity. In other words, not only does the occupation exacerbate the conditions that increase Palestinians’ susceptibility to infection, it is also directly responsible for those conditions. It is therefore disingenuous to argue that now is the time for cooperation and dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian authorities to confront the pandemic. Now is the time, as it was before, to demand the lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the end of the military occupation of the West Bank.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, HealthComments Off on In Palestine, COVID-19 Meets the Nazi Occupation

74 Million in Arab Region at Risk of COVID-19, Access to Clean Water

By Eurasia Diary

Global Research,

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said Wednesday that 74 million people lack access to a basic handwashing facilities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Arab nations, EDNews.net reports citing Yeni Safak.

The Beirut-based agency acknowledged handwashing with soap and water is effective against the virus and said water demand for handwashing is set to increase between 9 to 12 liters per person per day, meaning an average daily increase of 4 to 5 million cubic meters in household water demand.

The situation is aggravated by inadequate piped water supply in 10 of 22 Arab nations, it added.

Highlighting that nearly 87 million people in the region also lack access to an improved drinking water source in homes, the agency said those obliged to provide water from a public source on a daily basis are subjected to greater risk of infection.No-Go With the Flow: Water Politics in Israel and California

“An estimated 26 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the region are also at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to lack of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services,” the statement said.

ESCWA said just 1 in 10 households has access to clean water in the Gaza Strip as it highlighted the difficult conditions Palestinians living under Israeli occupation face.

Since 2006, Israel has imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, where nearly 2 million Palestinians live, and many sectors have been adversely affected including the economy, health, and education.

There are 329 COVID-19 cases in Palestine and the death toll is two.

Globally, the virus has infected more than 2 million patients and has claimed an excess of 132,200 lives, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

More than half a million have recovered.

Posted in Middle East, Health, Human RightsComments Off on 74 Million in Arab Region at Risk of COVID-19, Access to Clean Water

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