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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2016

Volume 2, Number 114

EIR Daily Alert Service

P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390

EDITORIAL

Can We Prevent the Drive to Thermonuclear War By Obama and the British Empire?

Jan. 31 (EIRNS)—Lyndon LaRouche sharply warned on Sunday evening that “the world is on the edge of general thermonuclear warfare, and it’s coming essentially from Britain and from Obama. Obama is an agent of the British imperial system, and always has been, and they are now moving to launch general thermonuclear war. They are on the very edge of pushing it over the edge, right now, especially in Europe.”

LaRouche said that he has been following international developments closely, and over recent weeks it has become evident that the dying British imperial system is driving for war, now, engineered by their agent Obama as a showdown between the United States and NATO, against Russia and China. We are at a break-point in history, in which action must be taken promptly to prevent such a nightmare from playing out.

“That is the message which ought to be presented to anyone who is not stupid,” LaRouche said. “And we should be acting to stall and prevent the launching of such a war. Unless they are deterred from going ahead with what they are obviously signaling to do quickly, you are headed for thermonuclear war, and mass death throughout the planet. The point is: Can we prevent that thing, which has already been set into motion? Can we prevent that from being carried forward? That’s the only important question at the moment.”

The LaRouche movement today introduced a major change in this strategic situation, with the call to arms issued this evening by LaRouche PAC Policy Committee member Kesha Rogers, former two-time Democratic Congressional candidate from Texas, to revive NASA from the hell that Obama’s policies have condemned it to, get the United States back in space, and engage in win-win cooperation with Russia and China, in particular China’s intention to land a mission on the far side of the Moon by 2020.

That campaign can also play a decisive role in returning sanity to the institution Presidency of the United States, which is currently in the hands of a deranged murderer, who seems to think he can back down Russia and China with threats of thermonuclear confrontation, or an actual war.

That change cannot wait until November 2016. Obama has to be removed from power now. That can be done, and a functioninginstitution of the Presidency revived, by cracking open what is now a rigged Democratic presidential race. Sink Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ pro-Obama candidacies, and launch a viable policy discussion around the campaign of Martin O’Malley—the only candidate who has spoken out seriously about returning to Glass-Steagall to stop Wall Street’s deadly policies, and who has otherwise demonstrated qualities that qualify him for the Presidency.

Simultaneously, it is necessary to immediately shut down Wall Street and the entire speculative trans-Atlantic financial system, since it is that system’s bankruptcy which is the driving force for war. The entire trans-Atlantic system came within a hair’s breadth of collapsing this past week with the banking crisis in Italy, and it can detonate at any moment—and almost anywhere. That system must be buried, so that the United States can return to the economic growth policies we had under Franklin Roosevelt, and which were also reflected in Kennedy’s space program.

“The space program is the secret of the mechanism by which we could bring the United States, and other parts of the world, into a recovery,” Lyndon LaRouche stated on Jan. 30. Once such a policy goes into effect, “you’re going to see the beginning of a real revolution in space. So let’s do it!”

STRATEGIC WAR DANGER

Obama and NATO Use New Fabricated Turkey Incident To Threaten Russia

Jan. 31 (EIRNS)—The Obama administration and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg yesterday attempted to escalate Turkish charges that Russia had violated its airspace, into a full-fledged confrontation with Russia. Russia denies that any such violation occurred, and has called the charges “unsubstantiated propaganda.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Jan. 29 claimed a Russian Su-34 bomber had violated its airspace, and blustered that this was an offense to NATO as a whole. “This violation is a concrete indication of Russia’s acts aiming to escalate problems, despite the clear warning by our country and by NATO,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said. “We openly and clearly call on Russia to act responsibly so that the Turkish airspace, which is a NATO airspace, is not violated.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally lashed out at Russia: “If Russia continues the violations of Turkey’s sovereign rights, it will be forced to endure the consequences.”

As in the earlier incident on Nov. 24, 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria, NATO quickly backed up Turkey. Stoltenberg stated that “NATO stands in solidarity with Turkey and supports the territorial integrity of our ally, Turkey,” and called on Russia to “act responsibly and to fully respect NATO airspace.” “Russia must take all necessary measures to ensure that such violations do not happen again,” he said in a statement.

A Pentagon spokesman told Sputnik that the U.S. “can confirm” the violation as claimed by the Turks. “We call on Russia to respect Turkish airspace and cease activities that risk further heightening instability in the region,” he said.

The Russians have responded by ridiculing the Turkish claim. “There have been no violations of Turkey’s airspace by aircraft of the Russian air group in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Igor Konashenkov said yesterday. “Statements by the Turkish side of an alleged case of violation by a Russian Su-34 aircraft of airspace are unsubstantiated propaganda.”

“I am convinced that even Turkish air defense specialists know that radar stations controlling airspace can only register the altitude, course and speed of the object in the air,” Konashenkov continued. “None of these radars is capable of establishing the type and state affiliation of the air object—Russia or the U.S.-led so-called anti-ISIL coalition.” He said such identification is only possible with the help of “direct visual contact from another aircraft, which did not take place.”

Brits Launch New Assault on Putin—With Obama’s Help

Jan. 31 (EIRNS)—The Obama Administration has joined with the British in escalating a personal smear campaign against Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Jan. 25, BBC’s news magazine show “Panorama,” broadcast a documentary smear job headlined “Putin’s Secret Riches,” featuring a top Obama official.

Ironically, it comes at precisely the moment that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is attempting to work closely with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Putin, to secure a desperately needed peace agreement to end the five-year Syrian war. Formal talks, mandated by a UN Security Council resolution which was passed unanimously in December 2015, began in Geneva on Friday. After an initial Saudi-engineered boycott, major Syrian rebel factions did show up in Geneva on Jan. 30, and formally joined the talks today. Kerry and Lavrov have made clear, along with UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, that the talks will go forward, and will take months to meet the Security Council mandates.

BBC “Panorama” story, wildly accusing Putin of massive corruption, included an interview with Adam Szubin, Obama’s Acting Undersecretary of State for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, who, since 2006, had headed the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), the office responsible for carrying out all U.S. sanctions. Szubin effectively accused Putin of heading a criminal enterprise that has looted Russia from the Kremlin.

President Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, following the airing of “Panorama,” that the White House endorsed the Szubin statements, as “best reflecting the administration’s view.”

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov angrily confronted Kerry, telling him that the White House and Treasury comments were “purposefully stepping up tensions.”

The message has not been lost on other Russians, either. Sputnik reported Jan. 30 that Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov has called for Russia to modify its new national security strategy and military doctrine to counter the most recent Obama administration strategies that target Russia as the greatest threat to Europe. “Situations change and the country changes as well,” General Ivashov told Zvezda TV. “So, the national military doctrine evolves. I think changes to the doctrine have been prompted by the fact that the U.S. adopted the new Strategy of National Security in February 2015 and then the new Military Doctrine in July, which have significantly changed the U.S.’s military policy.” Ivashov argued that the U.S. has rejected the idea of multipolar cooperation, and continues to assert its unipolar dogma. “According to its doctrine, the U.S. will use military force to protect its national interests. But its interests know no limits around the world. Washington says it will deploy its troops and engage in armed conflicts to protect its interests.”

Joining sane voices seeking to reverse the growing drive towards confrontation, the U.S.-based National Interest magazine published an article on Jan. 31, by four well-known Russian think tank analysts under the headline “How To Avoid War with Russia.” The authors, Andrey Bezrukov, Mikhail Mamonov, Sergey Markedonov and Andrey Sushentsov, asserted that the U.S. grand strategy for the 21st century is to contain China, and that, as part of this strategy, Washington aims to keep Russia down, forcing Moscow to join an alliance with Washington against a Beijing that will threaten Russian interests.

The authors note that Russia has already devised an asymmetric response to this insane U.S. strategy, by launching the flanking military operation in Syria, and by aligning with China in such formations as the BRICS.

China Denounces Deployment of U.S. Destroyer as ‘Deliberate Provocation’

Jan. 30 (EIRNS)—Responding to a second U.S. guided missile destroyer that sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Zhongjian Dao island claimed by China as a part of its territory, the Chinese Defense Ministry labeled a “direct provocation.”

“The U.S. act severely violated Chinese law, sabotaged the peace, security and good order of the waters, and undermined the region’s peace and stability,” wrote Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun. On Jan. 29, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “The U.S. warship violated Chinese law and entered China’s territorial sea without authorization. The Chinese side conducted surveillance and vocal warnings to the U.S. warship.”

While the response from the Chinese side is still in the form of oral protests, as these deployments continue, one can expect a more robust response from a hitherto very restrained China. The situation is heading to a very dangerous place.

The deployment of this second guided missile destroyer close to one of the islands claimed by China is in line with what U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Harry Harris warned that the U.S. Navy would continue to do, speaking on Jan. 26th at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Harris’s remarks on that occasion as well, that the islands on which China has built new facilities “do not belong to China,” had already set off something of a firestorm in Beijing.

The U.S. officially claims that it is “neutral” as to which country the islands belong to, but Harris’s public statement of what he called his “personal opinion” sent a clear message to the other claimants on the islands that the U.S. backs them in their dispute with China.

Admiral Harris, a Japanese-American with a Tennessee accent, has not gone so far as to propose an Asia-Pacific version of NATO, but he said at the CSIS forum that he would like to transform U.S. bilateral relations with key Pacific countries into multilateral relations, all directed against China. In particular, he mentioned a possible U.S.-Japan-South Korea axis, a U.S.-Australia-India axis, and, in the best of cases, a quadrilateral pact among the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and India.

COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM

Why LaRouche Insists You Can’t Stop the Global Systemic Financial Meltdown without Wiping Out Wall Street

Jan. 29 (EIRNS)—It’s getting difficult to tell if the trans-Atlantic banking crowd is more bankrupt than it is lunatic, or vice versa.

The disintegration of the entire trans-Atlantic financial system is accelerating, but the British Empire’s “bail-in” gambit (outright thievery and expropriation of assets), which LaRouche said was genocide and could never work, in fact is not working. There are now panicked efforts underway in Wall Street and the City of London to step up the pace of old-fashioned quantitative easing and bail-outs, to try to forestall a total meltdown.

Such measures include:

  • Friday’s surprise decision by the Japanese Central Bank to lower interest rates into negative territory, from +0.1% down to −0.1%. That decision set off a wave of speculation that the same may be coming soon across the board internationally, including in the United States. For example, Bloomberg noted that “about a quarter of the world economy [is] now in negative-rate territory,” including the ECB, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and now Japan. “The lack of fallout so far [to the Japanese move] sets the stage for the European Central Bank to cut rates even more, and may fan speculation the Federal Reserve will follow if the U.S. slumps. ‘Negative rates are now very much the new normal,’ said Gabriel Stein, an economist at Oxford Economics Ltd. in London. ‘We’ve seen they are possible and we’re going to see more.’ The move by Japan ‘may actually just be to test the water,’ said Nick Kounis, head of macro research at ABN Amro Bank NV in Amsterdam. ‘The [Bank of Japan] has left the door wide open to cut the rate on new reserves deeper into negative territory.’ ”
  • The Italian government’s deal with the EU to allow Italy to establish a de facto “bad bank,” by providing government backing for credit default swaps (CDS) derivatives to cover the non-performing loans (NPLs) on the banks’ books, was additionally designed to open up a whole new market for the vulture funds to descend on this category of Italian debt. Italian banking NPLs are not 17% of their portfolio, as is officially reported, but closer to double that, according to a reliable senior intelligence source in Washington, who described the imminent Italian banking blowout as “an acute systemic problem.”

There is undisguised panic in usually staid British Empire media outlets. After blaming China for the collapse of the trans-Atlantic system, these media are now focused on the mid-December decision by Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen to slightly increase interest rates, as the purported cause of the current meltdown. The Economistcomplained on Jan. 28 “that now the Fed doesn’t meet again until March. There are long weeks ahead during which all sorts of financial-market havoc could unfold. If the panic is bad enough, the Fed could call an unscheduled meeting in order to act, at the cost of signaling that conditions were dire indeed.” The Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner headlined his article, “The Lords of Finance Are Skidding Out Of Control,” and worried that “financial markets have become dangerously dependent on the cheap monetary steroids of central bankers—creating yet more debt. Has the U.S. Federal Reserve made a terrible policy mistake in raising rates?”

Italian Deal with European Commission Was Act of Desperation To Save Euro

Jan. 29 (EIRNS)—A senior Washington source, who closely follows developments on the trans-Atlantic financial crisis, emphasized yesterday that the deal between the Italian government and the European Commission, to bail out Italian banks via government-secured credit default swap insurance on the senior securitized bank debt, was taken to stop a crash of the Italian banking system which would have brought down the entire EMU. Italy is a much bigger economy than Greece, Portugal, Ireland and even Spain. The amount of bad debt in the Italian banks is way beyond the oft-cited €370 billion with the best estimate being that 30-40% of all the bank system debt in Italy is non-performing.

The political backlash to the bail-in was already dramatic (the collapse of the Italian middle-class standard of living is worse today than it was in Spain in 2014), but more important, the Italian banks and the Italian government are totally run by the oligarchy, top down. The oligarchs would have taken a big hit under bail-in, since they are the big stockholders and bondholders in the failed banks. In France, Germany, Greece and Ireland, there are powerful opposing factions and there is always tension. Not so in Italy at the top.

The Italian approach cannot be repeated elsewhere in Europe, in the source’s view. It was an emergency stop-gap action which does not stop the crash. At some point, when the CDS contracts taken by the government on the securitized senior debt are called, the Italian taxpayers will be saddled, and then the ECB and the mechanisms for bailout will be saddled. In Italy the toxic loans have been kept secret for a long time, and now there is an acute crisis that goes well beyond Italy into the entire European system.

SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE

China Is ‘Opening Up’ Its Lunar Missions; Releasing Data and Engaging the Public

Jan. 31 (EIRNS)—China’s Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) has invited the public to submit proposals, which are due in late March, for a small (less than 10 lb.) payload to fly on the Chang’e-4 mission. That mission is slated to send a lander and rover to the far side of the Moon, as early as 2018, and before 2020. It will be the world’s first attempt to do so. Until now, the only information we have about the far side, which is distinctly different than the face that perennially faces the Earth, is from orbiting spacecraft. The lander and rover will take the first in situ measurements of the far side.

The small payload for the mission can be an instrument to go onboard the Chang’e-4 lunar lander, or onboard the relay satellite which will be needed for communications between the lander and rover, and mission control. CLEP released the “Call for Proposals” on Jan. 8. The competition is open only to Chinese nationals, and will undoubtedly attract a lot of interest and activity from university students. CLEP said that it is already considering proposals from international partners.

In addition, over the past few days, technical data gathered from the scientific instruments on the previous Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 missions have been made public in three free e-books, from China’s Planetary Data System. And hundreds of stunning high-definition images from the Chang’e-3 lander and rover are now available on the Internet. They include photos of the Yutu rover from the lander, and interesting features from the landing area. Although Yutu is not able to rove, it has been collecting data and taking measurements from its stationary spot on the Moon.

THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER

Chinese Ambassador: China-Germany Economic Relations Must Become Not ‘Either, Or’—But ‘As Well As’!

Jan. 29 (EIRNS)—China’s Ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, had some fun at the Jan. 27 event in Bonn, “Development in China and the Chinese-German Relationship,” held by the Bonn Academy for Practical Politics and the Center for International Security and Governance, in taking on the German media propaganda on China’s alleged economic collapse.

“One has to take the whole development of China into consideration over the last 35 years. China had a two-digit growtheach year and became in the meantime the second biggest world economy. It has 14% of the world economy, but contributes 30% of economic growth. Per-capita GDP 35 years ago was $200, now it is $7,500! With 1.3 billion people, that’s quite an accomplishment. Granted, the rate of growth is low now, but it is still 6.9%—that’s the same growth rate as Switzerland’s. Who else has such a growth rate? It is three times bigger than that of the United States,” the Ambassador noted.

Shi Mingde assured his audience that China is resting on a solid basis, since it has $3.4 trillion currency holdings and through “internationalizing” its currency, it intends to become less dependent on the U.S. dollar, the aim being not to have “a world dominated byone nation or one currency.”

Raising the refugee issue, he emphasized very strongly and repeatedly, that there won’t be a solution unless we solve the causes: “Who caused it? Democracy cannot be spread by violence!” He emphasized that only by working together can the threat of terrorism be dealt with and that China’s foreign policy is one of peace. It is in China’s greatest self-interest to keep peace and stability in China as well as in other nations. He also noted the remarkable fact that in the last 35 years in china, 350 million migrant workers or peasants moved from the countryside into the cities—10 million people every year—who require the same rights, housing, and other things, that city dwellers enjoy.

Shi Mingde also stressed Germany and China’s good bilateral relations, with more than 8,200 German firms in China and more than 2,000 Chinese companies in Germany; investments no longer take a one-way road. Some 10% of all foreign students in Germany, the largest share, are from China, and altogether 150,000 Chinese live in Germany with no integration problems; in 2015 there were 1 million Chinese tourists in Germany.

When the New Silk Road initiative was brought up in the discussion period, Shi Mingde criticized old thinking: “One has to free oneself of the Cold War mentality and rather ask: What can we accomplish together? Germany, Europe, and China are on one continent. The vision of the New Silk Road is not just in our self-interest. Only with economic development can we defuse conflicts. Instead of ‘either, or’ we need to think: ‘as well as’! Why can’t we develop the Third World nations together?”

Rouhani and the Renewal of Franco-Iranian Economic Relations

Jan. 29 (EIRNS)—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Jan. 28 visit to France, where he met with French President François Hollande, was the first official visit by an Iranian President to France in 17 years. It represented a dramatic renewal of economic relations after sanctions were lifted against Iran. “Let us forget the resentment,” said Rouhani at the press conference with French President Francois Hollande. “We are ready to turn the page.”

Hollande responded: “It’s a new chapter of our relationship. I want that relationship to be useful, useful to both countries, useful to the region affected by wars, crises, and tragedies.”

Rouhani also said, “We must fight terrorism…. We must help the Syrian people so that the Syrian people can build a sustainable future for the country. The main problem in Syria is not such and such a person, the main issue is terrorism and Daesh [ISIS].” Hollande agreed, “Terrorism is our sole enemy.”

Several important economic deals were signed, including one with Airbus for the purchase of 118 new passenger jets; another between French car manufacturer Peugeot and Iran Khodro for a joint venture to build cars in Iran; Vinci, the French construction company signed a contract to develop Tehran’s international airport. French oil company Total also signed a contract with the National Iranian Oil Company to purchase 150-200,000 barrels per day.

Speaking before France’s main business confederation, MEDEF, Rouhani said: “France has announced that it is ready to once again enter Iran with a new energy and a new will. We have also come here today to welcome French entrepreneurs, investors to begin economic activities in Iran.”

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who attended the meeting, addressed President Rouhani: “What we experienced under sanctions was a lose-lose situation that was the result of a wrong policy, a wrong policy that hurt everyone … but today we should seize the opportunity of the era after sanctions. France doesn’t need any permission from any other country [to engage in business with Iran] and it’s not receiving orders from above and that’s very important for us.”

Alstom, the French electricity generation and rail transport firm has interest in projects in Iran, including participation in the expansion of the metro in Tehran and in Mashhad, and in the electrification of the 600-mile Tehran-Mashhad railway.

Bolivia Is Organizing for South America’s Central Transcontinental Rail Route

Jan. 31 (EIRNS)—Bolivia is taking the lead in South America in insisting planning must step up for construction of the “Central Bioceanic Railway” route, with Chinese participation, which would finally connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, through Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.

In a meeting on the sidelines of the Jan. 27 Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC)Summit in Quito, Ecuador, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala signed an agreement to push forward on feasibility studies for the route. The same day, Bolivia’s Minister of Public Works Milton Claros, announced that the bioceanic rail route will be a priority item on the agenda of Morales’s Feb. 2 meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia.

Bolivia’s concern is to transform the China-Brazil-Peru transcontinental route, which has gotten most attention until now, into the Brazil-Bolivia-Peru route soon, before the feasibility studies for the other, more northerly route are completed by May 2016. In practice, Bolivia is doing far more to push the transcontinental rail project forward, than either the Brazilian or Peruvian governments.

Germany hopes to get in on the project. In a Jan. 15 press conference with President Morales in La Paz, German Deputy Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Rainer Bomba described the transcontinental rail project as a megaproject of the century, which will bring benefits and better living conditions to many people. He compared Bolivia to a strong jaguar, prepared to leap into the future and ready to face better times.

Bomba spent four days in Bolivia, accompanied by a delegation of 20-25 representatives from German and Swiss businesses that are offering financing, planning, and technology transfer, including setting up factories to produce rail track, rail cars, and other components in Bolivia, and training Bolivians in the process. Three letters of intent were signed at the end of the trip, on the transcontinental, as well as on an inter-urban train for the department of Santa Cruz, and technological aid in developing Bolivia’s huge lithium salt deposits.

U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC

Hillary Hangs It All on Her Love Fest with Obama

Jan. 31 (EIRNS)— Hillary Clinton’s official website sports a campaign statement, “What President Obama’s Legacy Means To Me,” issued on Jan. 19, which promises that, were she to become President, she would defend and continue the destruction which Barack Obama has wreaked upon this nation.

Clinton describes herself “as someone who was proud to work alongside him at the White House,” and then plagiarizes from Obama’s teleprompter. Exemplary: “Look where we are today. We’ve had 70 straight months of private-sector job growth. Our businesses have created 14.1 million jobs. The unemployment rate is the lowest in seven years. And the auto industry just had its best year ever.

“That’s a pretty outstanding record for any president—let alone one who took office amid an economic disaster. That’s not all. We’ve imposed the toughest regulations on Wall Street since the 1930s. We created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just over a year ago.”

Even: “We’ve restored our standing around the world….”

In the midst of the growing scandal over Mrs. Clinton’s 22 e-mails which the State Department refused to declassify (18 of them reportedly sent to Obama), Obama’s White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest came to her defense at the Friday press briefing, suggesting that the White House has officials who will protect her. Asked if he could say with certainty that she would not be indicted, Earnest told reporters that “what I know that some officials over there have said is that she is not a target of the investigation. So that does not seem to be the direction that it’s trending….”

If You Think There Won’t Be Zika in the U.S., Think Again!

Jan. 30 (EIRNS)—Prominent infectious disease and tropical medicine experts are contradicting the assessment coming from Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said earlier this week that a widespread outbreak of the Zika virus which is sweeping the Americas, isn’t likely in the United States.

CNBC reported Jan. 28 that a group of researchers led by Kamran Khan of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, say that about 200 million Americans, more than 60% of the population, live in parts of the country where mosquitoes could spread Zika during warmer months; and a further 22.7 million people, according to the same report, live in humid, subtropical parts of the country, including southern Texas and Florida, in which Zika could be spread all year round.

Dr. Peter Hotez, founding Dean of the Baylor University National School of Tropical Medicine, in Houston, warned public health authorities, in Texas, and at the local, state and federal level must assume Zika is going “to hit in the coming weeks and take steps accordingly.” He pointed to conditions in Houston’s impoverished Fifth Ward, where standing water, poor drainage, dilapidated housing, no window-screens, and people with little or no health care provide conditions for the “perfect storm to allow the virus to flourish,” Britain’s Guardian reported Jan. 29. Moreover, he said, “I could show you dozens of neighborhoods like this in southeast Texas, along the Gulf Coast.”

In an article published Jan. 29 in the New York Times, Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, charged that the United States is unprepared to face Zika and many other dangerous viruses because of the lack of a public health policy. “We should have anticipated that the large increase in mosquitoes would create a major health crisis,” he said. Zika’s transmission vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, “has never been more numerous or lived in more locations…. This is not new science or new policy. We shouldn’t have needed thousands of babies born with severe birth defects [microcephaly] or people of all ages developing life-threatening autoimmune paralysis [Guillain-Barré] to remind us that mosquitoes pose a serious health threat.” Had the U.S. not ignored the evolution of dengue or chikungunya in Central and South America, both of which are transmitted by Aedes aegypti, Osterholm said, it wouldn’t now be scrambling to figure out a response to Zika.

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