EIR Daily Alert Service, WEDNESDAY, February 26, 2020
|WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2020|
Volume 7, Number 40
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
- Act on the Principle of Sovereignty To Vanquish Disease, Hunger, Geopolitics, Globalization
- WHO-China Joint mission Reports China’s ‘Bold’ Approach Changed the Course of COVID-19
- Addressing COVID-19 emergency in Italy Requires Chinese Methods
- U.S. Nuclear Forces Preparing for War on Russia, Details Esper’s Nuclear War Mini-Exercise
- Globalized Military Deployments Constitute Special Opportunities for Novel Coronavirus Contagion
- CDC Expects ‘Community Spread’ of Novel Coronavirus inUnited States
- President Asks for $2.5 Billion To Fight Novel Coronavirus in U.S.
- State and Local Public Health Agencies Urge Trump To Up Funding for Coronavirus Response
- President Trump Praises India’s Space Program, Supports Increased Cooperation
- Germany’s Kohn Junior Jumps Into the Political Arena and Urges Bank Separation System
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—Foremost among today’s immediate dangers are two elements: COVID-19 in terms of both its direct illness impact, and its possible effect as a trigger for an impending financial blow-out and physical economic collapse; and secondly, continuing West-East confrontations, threatening to cause all-out war. These dangers persist because of existing forces in place, unwilling to remedy the situation, or worse, they are perpetrating the danger.
At the same time, there are great international potentials, in terms of collaborative space exploration, bio-science medical research, agriculture and nuclear energy advances, and more. But rolling back the danger, and making headway on positive fronts depends on our intervention to shift the strategic situation. This requires us putting forward the principle of respecting the sovereignty of nations, supporting their right to determine their own needs and ways to better conditions for their people. Put an end to the neo-British Empire geopolitics once and for all. For guidance, we have the benefit of the method and policies of Lyndon LaRouche, and his long-time proposal for heads of state/government of the four great powers—the United States, Russia, China and India—and more, to meet and exert world leadership.
This viewpoint is embodied in the call for a tripartite-plus summit—Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump—made by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Schiller Institute president, in early January, at the time of the U.S.-Iran hot conflict, and inclusively meant for India and other collaborating nations as well. Favoring such cooperation was implicit today in President Trump’s praise of his “fantastic two days” in India; he remarked about joint work on the space program, and on energy trade, including U.S.-made nuclear plants in India. However, the pall of geopolitics lingers, in his lip service to “revitalizing the Quad” formation of U.S.-India-Japan-Australia, a bloc against China—which Secretary of State Pompeo and other warhawks promote.
Reviewing the situation today, in particular the COVID-19 patterns, Zepp-LaRouche said that the virus is testing the liberal system, which holds itself as so great. To really deal with the virus danger, we must throw out the entire system of GVC (“global value chain”) and “shareholder values,” and everything that goes along with it, such as “just in time” production, “global sourcing” of food, and “profit for profit’s sake.” We must focus not solely on the virus itself, but on the general conditions under which it becomes so dangerous. We must rectify those. From this vantage point of commitment to shifting the situation, consider the latest updates:
COVID-19. The WHO-China Joint Mission on COVID-19 today held a press conference on its nine days of work in China, at which the team’s director Dr. Bruce Aylward said that China’s “bold approach” of “social distancing,” and huge mobilization of medical logistics has changed the course of the virus in China. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Hubei is coming down. He said that his team went to see “what works” against the virus, and they saw it. “Speed is everything.” Meantime, the hotspots elsewhere are treacherous, including South Korea, Iran, Italy, and more are forecast. There is next to no collaborative effort underway across the EU. In the U.S. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Dr. Nancy Messonnier said today that “community” transmission of the virus in the U.S. is expected. The Trump Administration yesterday informed Congress of its plan to spend $2.5 billion in preparation. The reality is that the U.S. health infrastructure system has been drastically undercut by years of Wall Street values.
Locusts. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Feb. 24 announced it had raised its appeal for fighting the multi-nation locust scourge to $138 million, up from $76 million heretofore requested. But so far, only $33 million is pledged from the international community. The colonialist mentality persists.
Finally, on the war danger front, more details have been released on U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s engagement Feb. 21 in a nuclear war scenario “mini-exercise” at the Strategic Command base in Omaha, Nebraska. The insane premise is that there are ways in which to win a “little” nuclear war, and Russia is the enemy.
Zepp-LaRouche urged colleagues today to deploy into the crisis, and use it as a lever to create the urgent change in the political system required to secure the common good.
INTERNATIONAL HEALTH EMERGENCY
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—Today in Geneva was a report-back to the media on the work of the WHO-China Joint Mission, which spent nine days in Hubei and other provinces, to see “what works” on COVID-19, according to team leader Dr. Bruce Aylward, Senior Adviser to the World Health Organization Director General. Aylward said that “China’s bold approach” clearly had a big result. The team of 25 experts found that “speed is everything” in responding to the virus, and China did so respond. Their policy of “social distancing changed the course” of the virus.
Aylward took note of the fact that governors of other provinces prioritized the importance of sending medics and health care workers into Hubei, which had an excellent effect. There were some 26,000 visiting medical staff sent in.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has built 16 temporary hospitals, and brought another 19 under construction.
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—With the discovery of COVID-19 hotbeds in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, Italy has become the country with the third largest infection in the world. As of Feb. 25, over 300 cases of COVID-19 have been ascertained, with 10 deaths, all of whom were elderly and had pre-existing illnesses.
The Italian government has called for an emergency meeting of EU Health Ministers to be held today in Rome to coordinate measures among the 27 EU member countries and to avoid hysteria spreading among the population. However, it has become clear that only Chinese methods will prevent the two Italian hotspots from becoming epidemic throughout the country.
The steps undertaken by the Italian government aim at implementing “social distance” as in China, limited to the two hotspots areas around Codogno, in Lombardy, and Vò, in Veneto, where about 50,000 citizens have been locked down, with police checkpoints; offices and supermarkets are closed, while at the same time food and medical supplies are guaranteed on an emergency basis. In those areas, mass-screening is taking place.
Aside from those two hotspots, many Italian regions have closed schools and in some cases, theaters, clubs, churches, museums and other public places. First Division soccer games have been either postponed or, as in Milan, will be played without a public audience in the stadium.
The emergency mobilization is under the leadership of the Civil Protection Corps, whose head has special powers nationwide.
So far, with minor exceptions, the population of northern Italy seem to follow guidelines with discipline. Not so disciplined is the political scene, where Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte launched an argument with Lombardy Regional President Attilio Fontana (Lega), accusing the regional authorities of initial shortcomings—in Italy the national health system is run by the regional administrations. Whereas experts do not exclude inadequacies or mistakes in the early treatment of patients, this is not the time for arguments but rather for all to pull their efforts together. If mistakes are made, they are analyzed and measures are taken to improve things.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—More details emerged yesterday about the U.S. nuclear war “mini-exercise” held at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, on Feb. 21. The Pentagon press office finally published the transcript of a background briefing for reporters who were traveling with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at the time. The context was Esper’s tour of nuclear forces at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and Stratcom headquarters on Feb. 20-21. At Stratcom, Esper had a one-on-one with Stratcom chief Adm. Charles Richard and toured what they call the “battle deck” where “you have situational awareness of the threats to the United States and the readiness of our nuclear forces, as well as our missile defense capabilities,” explained the first official. At Minot, Esper visited a launch control center for Minuteman III ICBMs and, according to the official, was “disabused” of any notion, if he had any, “that our nuclear weapons or ICBMs are not on hair-trigger alert.”
The mini-exercise, during which Esper participated as the secretary of defense, simulated a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia. “[T]he scenario included a European contingency where you are conducting a war with Russia, and Russia decides to use a low-yield limited nuclear weapon against a site on NATO territory, and then you go through the conversation that you would have with the secretary of defense and then with the President, ultimately, to decide how to respond,” the official said. “And so they played out that game, and the secretary got a good understanding for how that went.” The official wouldn’t say at first what the U.S. response was but after questioning, he finally replied that “we simulated responding with a nuclear weapon.”
The officials explained that this was an exercise to understand the mechanics of a nuclear response, how to actually assess the threat, decide how to respond to it and then transmit the orders to those forces that pull the trigger. The scenario, however, was explicitly based on the notion that Russia has an “escalate-to-deescalate” doctrine of first use in a war with NATO. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov denied that Russia has such a doctrine in an exceptionally strong statement issued on Feb. 22. Nonetheless, that is the scenario for which the low-yield W76-2 warhead, now being deployed on Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles, was designed for. The W76-2 “was the least expensive, quickest way that we could put something in the field to show Russia that we have the capability in addition to the resolve to address any threat that they could pose to us, and that was the rationale,” the official said.
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—Global military deployments and forward military basing are creating opportunities for the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. The transportation of large numbers of troops across the world, their frequent operations in the field, and the deleterious effect of combat operations on the health of the populations in the countries where they occur open up more opportunities for the virus to spread. The U.S. military is now being forced to reduce the scale of its operations in some areas of the world in order to protect itself from the virus.
• Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, during a joint press conference at the Pentagon yesterday with South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, said that the joint U.S.-South Korean exercise schedule could be scaled back because of fears about COVID-19, a sentiment that was echoed by the South Korean Defense Minister. U.S. Forces Korea has implemented tougher screening procedures at the gates of its bases after the widow of a retired American soldier was diagnosed with coronavirus yesterday. She had visited the post exchange at Camp Walker, near Daegu, twice in the past two weeks.
• The South Korean Defense Ministry also reported yesterday that 13 South Korean soldiers have contracted the virus and 7,500 others are being held in quarantine as part of efforts to stop the virus from spreading further in barracks. “Of them, about 350 people either have shown symptoms or had direct contact with patients. But we have applied tougher quarantine standards as preventive steps,” deputy ministry spokesperson Moon Hong-sik told a regular briefing.
• In Thailand, the annual Cobra Gold exercise kicked off today but with reduced participation by a number of countries, including South Korea. The U.S. military, which is sending 5,500 troops, compared to 4,500 last year, is reinforcing its medical capabilities with additional medical personnel and supplies. The U.S. military insists, however that the risk of infection from COVID-19 remains low.
• With the virus now present in Iran and at least one confirmed case in Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command and the NATO mission in Afghanistan are keeping a close eye on how the virus spreads in Southwest Asia. The one confirmed case is of a man in Herat who had recently traveled to Iran. Herat is also home to an Italian-run regional headquarters for the NATO mission at Camp Arena, which is home to some American and other international troops, but the bulk of U.S. troops are hundreds of miles away in the south and east of the country.
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects the novel coronavirus to begin to spread at a community level in the United States. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told reporters on a half-hour conference call today.
Messonnier said, “As we have seen from recent countries with community spread, when it has hit those countries, it has moved quite rapidly. We want to make sure the American public is prepared.”
There have been 14 cases of the virus diagnosed in the U.S., all people who either traveled to China recently, or were close contacts of those who did. Another 39 U.S. residents have been infected in other parts of the world before coming back to the U.S. and being quarantined. But CDC officials say the country could soon see more cases, as the virus starts to spread through communities in areas outside China, including Iran, South Korea and Italy.
The CDC has urged American businesses and families to start preparing for the possibility of a bigger outbreak. Messonnier said parents should ask their children’s schools about plans for closures. Businesses should consider telecommuting options for employees, while hospitals might need to look at expanding telehealth services. “Disruption to everyday life might be severe,” Messonnier said.
She said the CDC is also discussing whether to change the case definition that triggers a sick patient to be tested for the virus. Currently health officials recommend testing only for people who have respiratory symptoms and have recently traveled to China, or been in close contact with someone who was infected. But as community spread increases in other countries, the case definition could change, she said.
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump sent Congress an urgent $2.5 billion request yesterday, to fund a U.S. plan to address the novel coronavirus, spreading worldwide rapidly. There are now 53 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects there will be “community” spread of the virus at some point soon.
White House Budget Office spokeswoman Rachel Semmel told press, “Today the administration is transmitting to Congress a $2.5 billon supplemental funding plan to accelerate vaccine development, support preparedness, and response activities, and to procure much-needed equipment and supplies. We are also freeing up existing resources and allowing for greater flexibilities for response activities.”
The President’s request was released in the evening of Feb. 24, and came as key government accounts were running low; the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had already drawn on an emergency disease rapid response fund, and was attempting to transfer more than $130 million from other HHS accounts to fight the virus, while pressing for more.
The administration is requesting $1.25 billion in new funding, and attempting to transfer $535 million more from an Ebola preparedness account that has been a top priority of Democrats, Andrew Taylor of Associated Press reported. The request also anticipates shifting money from other HHS accounts and other agencies to complete the $2.5 billion response plan.
Senators received a classified briefing this morning on the government’s coronavirus response. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) spokeswoman said the panel will take the administration’s “input into account as we continue to do our due diligence to determine what additional resources are necessary.”
Democrats reported said the request was insufficient, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) growling: “All of the warning lights are flashing bright red. We are staring down a potential pandemic and the administration has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts or how to coordinate a response.”
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—In a letter to President Donald Trump, several state and local public health agencies outlined immediate state funding needs to bolster preparedness in the event of a serious coronavirus outbreak, the Washington Post reported Feb. 24.
The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and the Association of Public Health Laboratories, urged the President to respond quickly so that sufficient funds can be appropriated, “and perhaps pursue astrategy to enact multiple appropriations on an as-needed basis as the situation unfolds.”
The Trump Administration has set up a task force to oversee the COVID-19 response, led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. The White House is reportedly alarmed at gaps in the U.S. supply chain for responding to the virus and, among other things, is looking at ways to improve U.S. capacity for producing drugs and necessary medical equipment.
The letter by state and local health officials specify immediate priorities for assistance, including:
• testing and monitoring patients that are currently under investigation, rapidly investigating cases, and obtaining information on their close contacts;
• purchasing personal protection equipment, including masks, N95 respirators, face shields and gowns;
• outreach to the general public, via phone banks, updating with information, translation into other languages, etc.;
• clinic visits and mobile home testing teams for uninsured or underinsured persons; medical transportation and hospitalization for the same groupings, for medical evaluation.
The letter also urges that an emergency spending supplemental provide a separate appropriation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for CDC-wide activities.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—“The United States and India will be friends and partners on our voyage into the stars and into space,” said President Donald Trump during his speech at the “Namaste Trump” rally before some 110,000 yesterday in Ahmedabad. The President praised India’s lunar exploration program. which has already had support in its scientific advance, and India’s upcoming manned program.
“America looks forward to expanding our space cooperation with India as you push even further. You are pushing the limits and that’s a great thing—including in realm of human spaceflight. The United States and India will be friends and partners on our voyage into the stars and into space. America is looking forward to expanding space exploration with India, as you are pushing the limits,” President Trump said, referring to the Indian Space Research Organization’s maiden human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan, planned for December 2021, to frequent applause.
“You are making impressive strides with your exciting Chandrayaan Lunar Program. It is moving along rapidly, far ahead of schedule, and America looks forward to expanding our space cooperation with India as you push even further….
“It is truly extraordinary what this nation has achieved in the span of just one lifetime. And what they have done under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, it is absolutely incredible. Mr. Prime Minister, congratulations.”
In fact, the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite will launch in two years.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Feb. 25 (EIRNS)—Walter Kohl, son of the late former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, is getting media visibility in Germany as the fight for the CDU leadership gets into in full swing. Walter Kohl has been out of politics for many years, until he founded a movement called “Initiative Deutschland in Europa” last December. His proposals represent several breaks with EU and Merkel’s policies. In its 12-point program he calls, among other things, for a “Trennbankensystem” to separate commercial banks from investment banks, in order to split up the too big financial institutions and also to have a European extension of such a system.
Also, a German fund should be created at 3.5% interest for savers only, which would be outside of political control, and would solely invest into needed projects and infrastructure. This would allow the Schwarze Null—the Black Zero balanced budget—to remain untouched, but in this way, Germany would get needed investments, and the citizen would no longer lose his money.
A comprehensive review of the infrastructure gap in Germany should be made and a central authority should be created, to manage all investments over €50 million.
Kohl’s initiative sticks to the CO2 reduction myth.
The accompanying new book, which Kohl published with Herder Verlag, goes from the beginning in depth into the current mess, where people no longer feel represented; he targets specifically the complete inefficiency in infrastructure projects and the terrible state of bridges, roadways, railways, etc.
In terms of foreign and security policy, the Initiative calls for close cooperation with France, a European army, and for a European policy that can face Russia and China.
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