EIR Daily Alert Service, FRIDAY, May 22, 2020
FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2020
Volume 7, Number 118
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
- Pompeo: I’m in Control Here’—-Or Will He Follow Bolton Out?
- National People’s Congress Plans for Hong Kong Security Law Sends Anti-China Mob Into Conniptions
- Trump Exits Open Skies Treaty, Sparking Fear That New START Treaty Future Is in Doubt
- B-1 Bombers Fly To Sweden For the First Time
- U.S. Increases the Strategic/Military Pressure on China
- Venezuelan Navy and Air Force To Escort Iranian Oil Tankers
- In Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic, Chileans Facing Hunger Protest Santiago’s Failure to Act
- Piraeus Is Now a Top Port in Mediterranean, Making Greece Potential Bridge Between EU and China
- Russia’s U.S. Embassy Insists Bloomberg Retract Lying Statistics About Russia’s Healthcare
- New COVID-19 Cases Hit Record for Single Day
Pompeo: ‘I’m in Control Here’—Or Will He Follow Bolton Out?
May 21 (EIRNS)—On Jan. 29 of this year, President Donald Trump said of his former National Security Adviser John Bolton, whom he had fired the previous September: “If I had listened to him we would be in World War Six by now.” And yet Bolton’s pal Mike Pompeo is still Secretary of State, and is doing everything in his power to drive the nation into a confrontation with China, and Russia, which could escalate into a global nuclear war, either by intention or by accident. On Monday, President Trump put his signature on a four-page letter to the World Health Organization Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus which contained a compilation of lies about China (and about the WHO), many of which have been documented publicly as total fabrications launched by British intelligence networks.
On May 19, a 16-page document was issued by the White House, and released today, again with President Trump’s signature, titled “United States Strategic Approach to The People’s Republic of China.” It claims in the opening paragraph: “Beijing openly acknowledges that it seeks to transform the international order to align with Chinese Communist Party interests and ideology.” It says of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that it is “designed to reshape international norms, standards and networks to advance Beijing’s global interests and vision,” and that “the United States judges that Beijing will attempt to convert [BRI] projects into undue political influence and military access.”
There is of course a certain irony here. The world, especially the nations of the developing sector, knows well that the author of this report, whoever that might be, is stating not China’s approach to development aid through the Belt and Road, but rather the longstanding policies of the trans-Atlantic nations, the “Washington Consensus.” That “consensus”—better termed the “Wall Street consensus”—required that aid of any sort (and almost never did that aid include infrastructure) depended absolutely on political subservience to the will of the lenders. Those nations which chose to refuse such dictates would very likely face the fate of Iraq, Libya and Syria, but would certainly receive no aid at all. One of the most often-stated complaints about the BRI, in fact, is that China does not demand political conditionalities, but addresses the development needs of nations regardless of the form of government. This is denounced as “cooperating with tyrants.”
Unfortunately, President Trump appears to have accepted the idea that confronting China is needed to assure his election in November. He issued a tweet today claiming that “China is on a massive disinformation campaign because they are desperate to have Sleepy Joe Biden win the presidential race.” It is equally unfortunate that Beijing’s response to the wild claims that China is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, has been to accuse the Trump Administration of blaming China in order to cover up its own failed response to the coronavirus. It was only weeks ago that Trump was correctly ascribing blame not to China, but to the fact that the former Bush and Obama Administrations had taken down America’s public health capacity, “leaving the cupboard bare,” as he said. Had he stuck to this truth, China would likely have concurred.
The brutal fact is that the pandemic and the lockdown have exacerbated the already severe crisis in the Western financial system (which was also “left over” from the failed Bush-Obama response to the 2009 crisis, when they bailed out the banks rather than reforming the banking system with Glass-Steagall reform, as Lyndon LaRouche had insisted). The nearly $2 quadrillion in outstanding derivatives and the “everything bubble” on Wall Street simply cannot be bailed out, despite Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s ranting about “unlimited liquidity.” The coronavirus and the speculative virus are equally deadly, and a challenge to the entire human race. Nothing short of the entire human race must be engaged to make the required revolutionary changes, to both prevent disaster and to achieve a new paradigm for mankind, as our founding fathers, and Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon LaRouche, envisioned and fought for throughout their lives.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
National People’s Congress Plans for Hong Kong Security Law Sends Anti-China Mob into Conniptions
May 21 (EIRNS)—Chinese officials today announcement that a new security law for Hong Kong will be introduced for passage at the National People’s Congress which begins on May 22. The Basic Law—the local Hong Kong law agreed to between the U.K. and China at the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997—required that a security law be adopted, but every effort to draft and pass such a law has been sabotaged by opposition forces and democracy advocates. In 2003 such a law was presented to the Hong Kong Legislature, but opponents, and a demonstration of about 500,000, forced it to be withdrawn. With the anarchy and terrorism that nearly destroyed the city last year, the Hong Kong government and the Beijing government have decided to impose a security law through “Annex III” of the Basic Law, which regards national laws which must also be followed in Hong Kong.
Several opposition figures in Hong Kong screamed that this would mark the end of “One Country-Two Systems,” and that the limited autonomy granted Hong Kong (until 2047) would be essentially abolished. That is certainly not true, as it is all within the Basic Law. However, as “Secretary of Regime Change” Mike Pompeo noted in his tirade against China on May 20, he already thinks that Hong Kong’s arrest in April of the instigators of the massive violence last year means autonomy is not being honored. An anti-China bill passed in the U.S. Congress last November, the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019,” allows Pompeo, if, in his infinite wisdom, he determines that Hong Kong is not living up to his standards for autonomy, he can lift the U.S.’s preferential trading and investment rules that apply to Hong Kong but not to the rest of China. This would be damaging not only for Hong Kong and for the rest of China, but also for the international banking interests which depend on Hong Kong for a huge amount of business—some kosher, some not.
A Beijing source told South China Morning Post that the new law would ban all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government, prohibit external interference in Hong Kong, and target terrorist acts. It also would ban desecration of the national flag or defacing of the national emblem in Hong Kong, which rioters committed regularly during the seven months of anarchy last year.
If the NPC passes the motion, it will delegate the Standing Committee to draft the new legislation for Hong Kong, which would be included in Annex III of the Basic Law, according to the SCMP’s source. The law would then be introduced in Hong Kong through promulgation, without local legislation.
Typically, the Washington Post lied in its headline: “China Signals Plan To Take Full Control of Hong Kong, Realigning City’s Status.” The British Empire’s last governor general of colonial Hong Kong, Chris Patten, weighed in on May 20, even before the new law was announced, that Hong Kong’s “color revolution” demonstrators “shouldn’t lose heart. They shouldn’t lose their sense of dignity and decency and moderation,” Patten said in an online interview organized by the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong.
Trump Exits Open Skies Treaty, Sparking Fear That New START Treaty Future Is in Doubt
May 21 (EIRNS)—Administration officials said today that President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw the U.S. from the Open Skies Treaty and will notify Russia of the U.S. withdrawal on May 22. The treaty, which 35 nations have signed on to, allows member states to make surveillance flights over each other’s territory, to build confidence that none of them is preparing for military action against any of the others, but the U.S. has long complained that Russia is not abiding by the treaty by not allowing flights over certain areas, such as the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad. “You reach a point at which you need to say enough is enough,” said Marshall Billingslea, President Trump’s new special representative for arms control. “The United States cannot keep participating in this treaty if Russia is going to violate it with impunity.”
According to the New York Times, Trump’s decision on the Open Skies Treaty raises further doubts that he’ll agree to an extension of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty set to expire next February. Just yesterday, Politico, citing unnamed officials, reported that the administration is considering a short-term extension of the treaty while seeking a new agreement with Moscow that also tries to convince China to come to the table. Experts consulted by Politico expressed concern, however, that a short-term extension might still end up with the treaty lapsing, given the very low probability of China entering arms control negotiations.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
B-1 Bombers Fly To Sweden for the First Time
May 21 (EIRNS)—For the first time ever, the B-1 bomber has been seen over Sweden. On May 20, two B-1Bs from Ellsworth, South Dakota, flew a training mission that included a close air support exercise with the Swedish military that included working with Swedish Air Force Gripen jet fighters and Swedish combat controllers on the ground at a Swedish training range, reported Air Force Times.
On their way to Sweden, the B-1s also overflew Britain where they were escorted by Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters. They also flew tactical training with Norwegian Air Force F-35s, and flew a low approach over Ørland Air Station, the home of Norway’s F-35 fleet.
In the ground realm, the Army announced yesterday that it had reactivated V Corps, reported Military.com. V Corps had previously provided a command and control capability above the level of Army divisions in Europe but had been disbanded in 2013 as there were no longer any divisions in Europe. The reactivated V Corps will be based at Fort Knox in Kentucky, but will have a forward element of about 200 troops in Europe. “The activation of an additional Corps headquarters provides the needed level of command and control focused on synchronizing U.S. Army, allied, and partner nation tactical formations operating in Europe,” Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville said in a statement. The move came after a U.S. European Command request, the Army said.
U.S. Increases the Strategic/Military Pressure on China
May 21 (EIRNS)—Following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s press conference yesterday, in which he claimed that “The media’s focus on the current pandemic risks missing the bigger picture of the challenge that’s presented by the Chinese Communist Party,” the State Department raised there may be a new round of arms sales to Taiwan, including the possible sale of 18 Mk-48 submarine-launched heavy torpedoes. “The proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability in current and future defensive efforts. The recipient will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen homeland defense,” the State Department said.
The torpedo sale announcement was apparently linked to yesterday’s second inauguration of Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen. “As we welcome (Tsai’s) inauguration for her second presidential term this week, it’s worth remembering why the U.S. has long considered Taiwan a force for good—and why we are committed to supporting its defense,” the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said in a Twitter posting following the arms sale announcement.
At the same time, the Pentagon is complaining that Chinese aircraft behave “unprofessionally” when challenged by U.S. aircraft over the South China Sea. There have been “at least nine” concerning incidents involving Chinese fighter jets and U.S. aircraft in the skies above what Fox called “the contested waterway” since mid-March, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Southeast Asia Reed Werner told Fox News on May 19, and charging that China continues to engage in “risky and escalatory behavior.” Werner told Fox that the Pentagon found “the current trend line very worrisome,” and said that Washington has lodged several formal and informal complaints in response to recent incidents. “We’ve made démarches,” he said, and complained that it is a regular occurrence. The Department of Defense has also claimed that U.S. adversaries are trying to take advantage of the global situation, including the coronavirus pandemic, but has also says that the U.S. military remains ready to meet that challenge and defend U.S. interests.
Venezuelan Navy and Air Force To Escort Iranian Oil Tankers
May 21 (EIRNS)—Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said yesterday that Venezuela’s navy and air force will welcome the Iranian tankers bringing gasoline to the country when they come within range of Venezuelan waters, seeing them through the nation’s maritime territory and into port. Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Nations Samuel Moncada warned that any U.S. attempt to stop the tankers would be illegal. “Forbidding those boats from reaching their destination would thus constitute a crime against humanity,” Moncada told a UN Security Council meeting called to discuss recent turmoil in Venezuela.
So far, the U.S. administration hasn’t said precisely what it might do if the Iranian tankers keep coming, restricting itself so far to veiled threats. Adm. Craig Faller, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, said May 18 that he was “concerned” by the news reports that Iran was shipping gasoline to Venezuela. He said it fits a larger pattern of Iran trying to gain “positional advantage in our neighborhood in a way that would counter U.S. interests.”
“I’ve seen those same news reports that the tankers are en route,” Faller said in a webcast event. “We see the long hand of that Iranian malfeasance at work each and every day.”
In Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic, Chileans Facing Hunger Protest Santiago’s Failure To Act
May 21 (EIRNS)—On May 18-19, protests erupted under the chant “We’re starving to death!” in several poor districts of the Chilean capital of Santiago, as citizens raged against billionaire President Sebastian Piñera for failing to follow through on his promises to provide financial and food relief to the city’s most vulnerable citizens, when the capital is in full lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
On May 19, Chile’s authorities announced the highest single day increase in COVID-19 cases—an unprecedented 3,520 and 31 deaths—bringing the national total to 53,000 cases. Santiago is the epicenter of the outbreak, and Piñera was forced to reverse earlier plans to relax strict controls after the number of cases began to increase dramatically. A total quarantine was reimposed on May 15.
But Piñera, champion of the neo-liberal model of the University of Chicago—called “Chicago Boys”—has failed miserably in providing relief to millions of Santiago’s poor, to whom he promised an assistance check of $317, which has yet to materialize. Nor have 2.5 million food baskets been delivered to individual homes, as he promised, leaving people starving. There has been no coordination whatsoever with municipal authorities, as to when or how food is to be distributed, and some financially strapped municipalities are even expected to provide relief themselves, without resources, the daily El Siglo reported May 18.
People have been in quarantine for weeks. Those in the “informal economy” can’t work, and an Emergency Family Income the government initially provided covers only a small portion of daily food requirements. When people took to the streets on May 18 and 19, they demanded food and help, but they were repressed by riot police and military units using tear gas, water hoses and brute force. As Sadi Melo, mayor of Santiago’s El Bosque district, told El Siglo, “the health crisis reveals the face of poverty in our communities. The social crisis is beginning to wake up as a product of the health crisis.” Now people have resorted to pots and pans protests around the city, even in middle-class neighborhoods, shouting “you can’t repress hunger.”
NEW WORLD ECONOMIC ORDER
Piraeus Is Now a Top Port in Mediterranean, Making Greece Potential Bridge between EU and China
May 21 (EIRNS)—The Port of Piraeus has become the top container port in the Mediterranean as of the end of 2019, having handled a total of 5.65 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for that year, according to the Piraeus Port Authority on May 20. The Port Authority is majority owned by the Chinese state shipping company COSCO.
Port chief executive officer Capt. Fu Chengqiu made the announcement May 19 at a teleconference in which he presented the port’s financial figures for last year to the Hellenic Fund and Asset Management Association, reported Xinhua. “2019 was the most successful year in terms of profitability. The successful financial management also brings additional revenue to the Greek state due to increased concession fees, dividends, insurance contributions, etc. and contributes to the welfare of the local communities,” Captain Fu said. Indicating that growth has continued despite the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, he reported that container handling has grown by more than 2% on an annual basis in the January-April period.
In an interview yesterday with Xinhua, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said Greece can act as a strong link between China and the European Union in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. “The experiences of our productive cooperation can be very useful at a European level. I believe in a productive relationship between China and the European Union,” Papandreou stated. “The Belt and Road Initiative should be a joint project, and one that will redefine our relationships for the next century. It will be crucial that Europe and China work together in regions such as Africa, the Caucasus and the Middle East,” where the BRI project is being implemented, Papandreou said. “Greece will be a strong link between China and other European countries.”
Papandreou also called for Greece and China to join forces to offer the world new approaches to healthcare delivery. “As the Belt and Road project speaks of both common interests and common destinies, health seems to be the one issue that highlights these values. Access for all citizens without exception to the health systems of the countries participating in this comprehensive project would strengthen the Belt and Road and give it a deeper meaning,” he argued.
Russia’s U.S. Embassy Insists Bloomberg Retract Lying Statistics about Russia’s Healthcare
May 21 (EIRNS)—The Russian embassy in Washington demanded that Bloomberg publish a refutation of an article in Bloomberg Opinion on May 19 attacking “How Putin’s Russia Bungled the Pandemic.”
“Another major American media outlet has been caught blatantly lying about the measures taken by the Russian authorities to combat the spread of coronavirus infection,” the embassy wrote on its Facebook site. “This time, it was the authoritative Bloomberg agency that ‘distinguished’ itself. The author of the article decided to back up the flow of unfounded politicized allegations with the statistics from the World Bank on the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people in Russia and OECD countries in 2013 (8.2 versus 3.8).” At the time of the data, OECD comprised roughly 34 countries mostly EU, major British Empire states, and the U.S.
The embassy pointed out that the World Bank statistics had showed that in 2013 Russia had 8.2 hospital beds per 1,000 people in 2013, whereas the average figure for the OECD countries was 3.8; that Bloomberg had reversed the figures. “The editors of Bloomberg have fallen to a sheer forgery and swapped the graphics. One can verify it himself and compare primary sources,” wrote the embassy, and included links to the relevant data from the World Bank.
“The faked World Bank data were used to illustrate the following assumption: ‘Poor funding, Incomplete reforms, Missteps on drugs and medical equipment.’ It turns out that in fact, Bloomberg listed the problems of the OECD countries.
“Lies about our country being unable to stop COVID-19. Such tricks of pseudo-experts specializing on Russia, which shape public opinion in the West about our country, have long become a sad reality. We are convinced that readers and viewers of the leading American media deserve verified, but not deliberately distorted, information.
“We demand that Bloomberg Opinion refute, apologize and respect its own customers,” concluded the embassy.
The relevant Bloomberg Opinion article has meanwhile removed those particular outrageous data without admitting that it had ever published them, and without apologizing to its readers, as any honest author or news agency would do. What the article does do in its lying is plenty horrible, all the same—but that’s a story for another day.
Meantime, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had to counter other media statements that Russian data on the COVID-19 crisis in the Russian Federation were inaccurate. A CNBC article claims that Russia is underreporting its COVID-19 deaths, writing yesterday that Peskov “hit back at claims that the Russian data was inaccurate and insisted to CNBC that Russia is not misreporting virus fatalities. ‘We conceal nothing,’ ” Peskov said in a statement to CNBC on May 19. “(The) cause of death is identified by autopsy. It is autopsy that helps us count precisely, and on this basis, (a) diversification of death causes happens. That is the difference between Russia and many Western countries, where they do not do postmortem examinations.”
New COVID-19 Cases Hit Record for Single Day
May 21 (EIRNS)—The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on May 20 that there had been a record number of new cases of COVID-19 over 24 hours, with 106,000 new infections globally. “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic. We are very concerned about rising cases in low- and middle-income countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters somberly at a video briefing yesterday. On May 19, the World Health Assembly annual summit of WHO’s 194 member states agreed to open a probe into the global health body’s response to the virus.
Commenting on the World Health Assembly resolution, Tedros said: “I think the resolution from the assembly is something that we have been saying that there should be an assessment that should be a review to understand everything to learn lessons, and then, to address if there are problems. And this is not new, it has been done after Ebola, and it has been done after SARS, and it has been done after other major outbreaks. So, this is in the WHO’s DNA.”
Tedros would not comment on the May 18 letter signed by U.S. President Donald Trump, threatening to permanently end U.S. funding for WHO and even withdraw from the UN organization, insisting WHO had to “demonstrate independence from China,” and demanding an investigation into “repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic.”
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