EIR Daily Alert Service, MONDAY, March 30, 2020
|MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020|
Volume 7, Number 65
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
- No Defeat of COVID-19 Without Winning a New Economic System, and Collaboration Leading the Way
- Governors, Trump Join to Ramp Up Emergency Logistics; ‘Project Airbridge’ Brings in Supplies From China
- Xi Jinping Promotes Resuming Post-Coronavirus Economic Activity in Zhejiang Industry Tours
- To Fight Pandemic, Ibero-Americans Seek to Dump Old Neo-Liberal Order, Build One to Defend Human Beings
- Ibero-American Leaders Demand, ‘The Time to Forgive Ibero-America’s Debt Has Come’
- Mnuchin Talks Up Aid for ‘Main Street America,’ But Hands TRILLIONS to Wall Street and City of London
- CLINTEL Climate Intelligence Group Argues to ‘Fight Virus, Not Carbon’
- Fully Fund U.S. Research on Zoonotic Disease Threats, Restore PREDICT Project
- African Swine Fever Wreaks Havoc on World Food Supply
- U.S.-Russian Inspections and Meetings Under New START Treaty Postponed Due to Pandemic
No Defeat of COVID-19 without Winning a New Economic System, and Collaboration Leading the Way
March 29 (EIRNS)—One expression of the status of spread of COVID-19 and response, is the estimate that at least over a quarter of the world’s population is now under stay-home/lockdown mode, since India’s order on March 24. At the same time, from place to place, the degree of logistics mobilization is on a wartime scale. This point was dramatized in the United States over the weekend, for example, by President Donald Trump personally standing dockside for the departure from Norfolk—the U.S. NATO center—of USNS Comfort hospital ship for New York City to arrive tomorrow. Similarly, on Friday, March 27, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo held his daily press briefing onsite at the mid-Manhattan Javits Center, converted in four days into a 2,900-bed hospital and opening tomorrow. Cuomo profusely thanked the National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers for their work.
But make no mistake. The decades of takedown of medical delivery infrastructure and public health systems in the trans-Atlantic, and prevention of build-up in Africa, in large parts of the Western Hemisphere, South Asia, and elsewhere, means that huge gaps remain in the capacity to protect life.
As we fight like hell to save lives, we must further the fight that can win the establishment of a new, humanity-serving economic system. This was discussed in yesterday’s LaRouchePAC webcast, “An Apollo Mission To Save Mankind: Building the Health Silk Road,” keynoted by Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche. She reiterated her call to suspend the out-of-control stock markets, and take emergency financial reorganization measures. Do this in the context of deliberation among great power leaders, Presidents Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the earliest possible summit.
In opposition to any such moves for a new system, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today repeatedly stressed that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank would pump liquidity into the Wall Street/City of London dead system, like gasoline on a fire. Mnuchin said, “I talk to [Fed Chairman Jerome] Powell every day. He tells me what he needs. I have never turned him down.” Mnuchin continued, “We have $4 trillion of liquidity … that is being rolled out in these [Fed] programs.” In other words, while Mnuchin talks the talk of helping “Mainstreet America”—and Federal assistance is truly in order to workers, farmers, aid to hospitals, local and state governments and so on, in the new CARES Act that Trump signed on Friday—Mnuchin is really walking the walk to Hell.
Impetus for a new world economic system is coming from calls for debt relief and reorganization in Africa and South America. This weekend, for example, Alicia Bárcena, Director of UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said, “We have to re-think what type of development model should emerge from this crisis.” It is necessary to “re-think globalization.” The Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics (CELAG) called for forgiveness of the sovereign debt of Ibero-American nations by the multilateral lenders, such as the IMF, World Bank, etc., and by private creditors too.
From Africa, the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government issued a Communiqué March 26, before the G20 Summit, calling for taking the necessary economic measures to deal with COVID-19 and all diseases. Only since January 2017 has Africa even had a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and five regional sub-units.
These calls can be answered. The existing neo-British Empire monetarist system that created vulnerability to disease and suffering can be shut down forevermore. And on defeating the virus, a symbol of hope came today, in the personal visit Xi Jinping made to two big ports in Zhejiang Province, south of Shanghai, and other locations where post-COVID 19 economic activity is now resuming. Vigilance against disease resurgence is still required, but that can be done.
Internationally, China is playing a leading part in providing aid to dozens of countries in their battle against COVID-19, and there are other critical instances, e.g. Russian assistance in Italy.
This collaborative spirit is present between Xi and Trump, as shown in their phone call last Thursday. Today, at the White House meeting with business leaders on supply chain questions, Trump pointed out that medical supplies are now being flown to the U.S. from China, and feeding into “Project Airbridge,” delivering supplies across the U.S. A planeload touched down in New York City from Shanghai this morning, the first of 20 such deliveries through April.
Across the United States, there is a deepening collaborative spirit, which the governors and President Trump and the White House showed in many ways over the weekend in the several virus hotspot zones. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Chairman of the National Governors Association, said on Fox News, there may be “big pinch points” in lack of test kits, masks, and ventilators, and “there is frustration out there,” but, “We’re all in this together.”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Governors, Trump Join To Ramp Up Emergency Logistics; ‘Project Airbridge’ Brings in Supplies from China
March 29 (EIRNS)—White House Task Force members today indicated that the 15-day Federal Guidelines on COVID-19 for social distancing, ending March 30, will be extended a month. Details will be made available March 30 or 31.
Many governors and President Donald Trump were outspoken over this weekend, on aspects of the collaboration to ramp up logistics for emergency diagnostics and care for COVID-19 patients and surge requirements. National Governors Association Chairman Larry Hogan, of Maryland, told Fox News that there are “big pinch points” everywhere on supplies: “There is frustration,” but “we are all in it together.” Governors gave specifics on this all weekend, especially from the hotspot states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana, California, Washington, Florida and Michigan.
Both New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said today that respiratory ventilators are their number-one issue. Murphy further said of the White House Task Force, “They’re trying to work with us. We’re trying to find common ground.”
This afternoon, Trump attended a meeting of business executives on supply lines for medical materials. He then had several speak, including UPS, at the daily White House Task Force briefing.
Trump himself announced the “Project Airbridge,” a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement to rapidly distribute supplies, including coming in from China. A planeload of medical supplies arrived in New York today from Shanghai. The plane carried 130,000 N95 respirator masks, nearly 1.8 million other face masks and gowns, more than 10.3 million gloves, and some 70,000 thermometers. A handful of American healthcare distributors purchased the supplies, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency brought them in on a Shanghai-to-New York flight. A White House statement said, the “majority of these supplies will be provided by FEMA to the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut with the rest going to nursing homes in the area and to other high-risk areas across the country.”
FEMA is covering the shipping of this part of Project Airbridge. The equipment was all produced in China, and was available for the U.S. New York had requested more equipment from China, but a question arose how to get it to the U.S. with the current restrictions on air travel. FEMA stepped in to take the load, which was no doubt a result of the March 26 phone discussion between President Trump and President Xi Jinping on the matter.
Another outstanding feature of the logistics mobilization is the rapid Army Corps of Engineers response in many parts of the country for helping on contingency hospital beds and domiciling medical staff, in “alternative” structures of all kinds. Corps commander Army Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite gave an overview on March 28, saying, they are looking at 114 structures in 50 states, for various kinds of adaptation. New York’s Javits Center, a convention venue, was one such facility-turned-hospital in four days. The Corps of Engineers is working side by side with FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services and local governments, the general said, stressing that the team effort that involves talking with mayors and state officials to determine what works best.
Stadium conversion projects are now underway in many cities. There is even a pop-up hospital underway in Central Park, Manhattan. Samaritan’s Purse, the charity associated with Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, is building a 14-tent complex on 50,000 sq. ft. in Central Park’s East Meadow.
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
Xi Jinping Promotes Resuming Post-Coronavirus Economic Activity in Zhejiang Industry Tours
March 29 (EIRNS)—On Sunday, March 29, President Xi Jinping visited east China’s Zhejiang Province, just south of Shanghai). He was there to inspect the resumption of work and production in the region, which is proceeding quickly.
Zhejiang has become one of China’s most prosperous regions after the recent economic reforms, and is one of China’s major foreign trade provinces. Its economy is based in electro-mechanical industries, chemical industries, textiles and construction materials.
Xi visited the Ningbo-Zhoushan port area, which is the one of the world’s largest containerized shipping ports, and also the Chuanshan port area, which recently opened a 29 km port railway line going to Zhongzhai.
He also went to the Ningbo industrial park, which includes manufacturing of high-precision auto gears and gear parts, livestock equipment, masonry tools, water pumps, plastic and rubber molds, and paper manufacturing.
In early March, Vice Minister of Industry Xin Guobin announced that outside of Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus epidemic, the rate of work resumption is about 60% for small- and medium-sized firms, and over 95% for larger firms. At a State Council briefing, Xin confirmed that China plans to coordinate with other countries to move forward with business resumption to a semblance of normalcy, even in the face of uncertainty about the pandemic.
China is an important trading partner for many European countries. It is the third largest export market for Germany, and some 5,000 German companies have been established in China, with many having manufacturing there.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has issued a statement, urging relevant economic regulators at all levels in China to offer financial and other assistance to industry, and to be responsive to the call for a coordinated work resumption of industrial supply chains.
To Fight Pandemic, Ibero-Americans Seek To Dump Old Neo-Liberal Order, Build One To Defend Human Beings
March 29 (EIRNS)—The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across Ibero-America is provoking a debate about the need for a new global economic order that values human life. “We have to reflect on whether what we were doing in terms of economics … or an economic model, is the one we should continue with. We have to rethink what type of development model should emerge from this crisis,” said Bárcena, executive director of the UN’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in an interview with BBC Mundo published March 28. It will be necessary to “rethink globalization,” she continues, observing that Ibero-American economies in this pandemic era “will look very much like a war economy,” and will have to consider regional integration, and returning to “a kind of regional self-sufficiency” in that context.
Bárcena points to the region’s immense poverty and inequality, bereft of healthcare, whose people are unable to do simple things like handwashing due to lack of running water. She emphasizes, it’s appropriate, therefore, to ask the IMF, World Bank and other multilateral lenders to “sincerely consider postponing payment of foreign debt, and in the case of countries with fewer resources, to forgive bilateral and multilateral debt.” The IMF’s recent refusal to grant Venezuela $5 billion to help it fight COVID-19, and the continued sanctions against that country, means “that we are really condemning an entire people” to death, she warns.
Writing in today’s Página 12, Argentine historian Mario Rapoport compares today’s COVID-19 pandemic to the 14th century Black Plague, out of which a new world order did emerge. Today, he adds, because of the ravages of neoliberalism, the world is living through a New Dark Age, in which the post-World War II welfare state has been replaced with a casino economy, debt bubbles, permanent war and unbridled speculation to the detriment of human life.
The solution? “Drastic changes in the world economic and financial order are required,” he writes, and that “pseudo-globalization based on a neoliberalism” that benefits a few, hasn’t stopped wars, aggravates inequality and “helps to spread the new pandemic.” What’s needed are “exchange controls and a kind of ‘universal vaccine’ against vulture funds,” to force the restructuring of a largely artificially created debt, “which would not be dependent,” as former Argentine Foreign Minister José María Drago observed, “on creditors’ jurisdiction.” Recall that in 1902, after Great Britain, Germany and Italy blockaded Venezuela’s ports to forcibly collect its debt, Drago codified the international law that prohibited the forcible collection of a nation’s debts, which thereafter became known as the “Drago Doctrine.”
Ibero-American Leaders Demand, ‘The Time To Forgive Ibero-America’s Debt Has Come’
March 29 (EIRNS)—Under the headline, “The Time To Forgive Ibero-America’s Debt has Come,” the Latin American Strategic Center for Geopolitics (CELAG), a thinktank based in Argentina, has issued a call for the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the other multilateral lenders to forgive the sovereign debt of Ibero-American nations. The call also extends to private creditors.
Initially issued on March 20, the call is endorsed by several generally progressive, former Ibero-American Presidents, including Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo, and Bolivia’s Evo Morales and his former Vice President Álvaro García Linera, among others. Many well-known academics, political figures, former and incumbent government officials and lawmakers from several countries have also signed onto the call.
In the context of economic difficulties exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, CELAG says, “forgiveness of the debt is as just as it is necessary.” Similar calls have occurred at other moments in history “characterized by catastrophes such as war, disease and pandemics,” it states. “It is a unique opportunity to prevent the burden of the debt becoming an even greater one, on top of the complex challenge of confronting this critical economic and social moment.”
CELAG further states that this is not the time to demand that countries come up with effective public health policies to deal with the pandemic “and at the same time insist they continue to meet their debt obligations. We can’t ask them to implement economic policies to offset the harm done by this catastrophe, and pay creditors at the same time.” CELAG calls on the United Nations to convene the General Assembly on an emergency basis “to discuss a resolution that provides the international legal framework to implement this strategy of forgiving Ibero-America’s debt and promote the restructuring process with private creditors, including a two-year period of moratorium.”
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
Mnuchin Talks Up Aid for ‘Main Street America,’ but Hands Trillions to Wall Street and City of London
March 29 (EIRNS)—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appeared on at least two Sunday news shows to talk up the CARES Act, signed March 27, which gives benefits for “Main Street America,” all the while Mnuchin made clear he is trying to save his ilk on Wall Street. Trump National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow did the same on ABC News. Kudlow said “There will be temporary emergency financing to unlock massive reserves from the Fed, to stabilize financial markets.”
Mnuchin told Fox News, there will be $4 trillion available Monday, March 30, and more can be expected, for liquidity injections into the financial markets. He said, “We’ve rolled out many programs,” and they will provide “temporary support.”
On CBS News, Mnuchin affirmed that he speaks with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell several times a day. Mnuchin said that Powell requests things, and “I have approved all his requests.” Mnuchin said, there are “broad-based programs,” of support to the markets. BlackRock will lead one of the programs and they were hired because they have experience from the last crisis. “Larry Fink has enormous experience.”
Otherwise, Mnuchin and Kudlow recounted the individual parts of the CARES Act on what is available to individuals, families, small businesses and local and state governments. Mnuchin says that within three weeks, disbursals will be issued in the form of direct deposits to recipients, or notification to them of how their money can be received.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
CLINTEL Climate Intelligence Group Argues To ‘Fight Virus, not Carbon’
March 29 (EIRNS)—In an open letter to world leaders on March 23, the CLINTEL Climate Intelligence group, founded in 2019 by the Dutch Emeritus Professor of Geophysics Guus Berkhout, representing some 800 scientists and professionals from Europe and the Americas, told world leaders to take the trillions of dollars earmarked for the climate non-problem, and use it to fight the pandemic, the real crisis. “While courageous doctors and nurses are saving many lives, climate alarmists should … step over their own shadow and work together against this deadly virus.”
CLINTEL’s advice for the future: Fight the virus, not carbon. “The world is moving to an open global economy of 10 billion people. Top priority must be given to significant investments in a global health system that makes any pandemic less catastrophic,” they write.
Fully Fund U.S. Research on Zoonotic Disease Threats, Restore PREDICT Project
March 29 (EIRNS)—Recently, the State Department’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that funding for a major disease research program, PREDICT, would be eliminated at the end of its 10-year funding cycle in March 2020. PREDICT was initiated in response to the 2005 H5N1 avian flu crisis, and its focus has been on zoonotics, diseases that can jump from animals to humans, such as the coronaviruses, SARS, MERS and COVID-19. USAID indicated that a new program would be forthcoming, but didn’t provide any details.
PREDICT was a part of USAID’s Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program, and through its expertise and research, discovered over 1,100 unique viruses, and of these, over 86% had been previously unknown. It also trained more than 5,000 people in over 30 countries, many of them the poorest countries.
According to the New York Times of Oct. 25, 2019, “Dennis Carroll, the former director of USAID’s emerging threats division who helped design PREDICT, oversaw it for a decade and retired when it was shut down. The surveillance project is closing because of ‘the ascension of risk-averse bureaucrats,’ he said. Because USAID’s chief mission is economic aid, he added, some [unnamed] federal officials felt uncomfortable funding cutting-edge science like tracking exotic pathogens.”
The PREDICT Project has been headquartered at the University of California-Davis, with cooperation from other agencies, such as Metabiota, the Smithsonian Institution and the EcoHealth Alliance, and had been working with partners in many countries.
It had the capability for global surveillance of zoonosis—diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans. These can be transmitted via fungi, bacteria, parasites and viruses. Some zoonotic diseases include bubonic plague, rabies, Ebola, malaria, Zika fever, and the new coronavirus. Nearly 75% of all new and emerging diseases affecting humans since the beginning of the 21st century are zoonotic.
Similar research projects within the U.S., such as the Plum Island Animal Disease Center of New York (PIADCNY), near Long Island, which has operated since 1954, and which recently came under the DHS Directorate for Science and Technology, have proven their value many times over. The work performed there was largely responsible for the elimination of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in America. Also called “hoof-and-mouth,” it is a highly contagious and deadly virus affecting cloven-hoofed animals, especially bovids. The infection can have severe economic and food-security consequences, resulting in billions of dollars of economic losses, since the infected animals have to be culled from the herd and killed; this could also mean meat and dairy shortages for the consumer. PIADCNY is currently collaborating with a number of countries to eliminate FMD globally. Although it can be transmitted to humans, according to the National Institutes of Health, “it crosses the species barrier with difficulty and with little effect.”
In 2005, the DHS has announced that PIADCNY would eventually be phased out, and a new facility to be constructed in Manhattan, Kansas, to be known as the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility would continue and expand on the research currently being done. However, risk assessments have delayed the actual construction of the facility.
Not only should the funding for PREDICT be reinstated, but also all R&D facilities with a capacity to research diseases should be activated and geared-up on a wartime footing across the nation. Perhaps it is time for federal officials to bring in such experts in disease control as NASA researchers and scientists, to provide pathways to increase our nation’s (and the world’s) capacity to discover and overcome zoonotic diseases.
African Swine Fever Wreaks Havoc on World Food Supply
March 29 (EIRNS)—China’s hog herd was cut by 50% in the first eight months of 2019 by an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), and is expected to lose another 5% to 10% by early 2020. There is no cure or vaccine for ASF, so farmers must cull the herds and kill the infected animals (i.e., once contracted, it is 100% fatal). China is the highest producer, consumer and importer of pork globally, so this loss is not only having major effects on pork markets globally, but also on animal feed markets, such as soybean, oil-seed and corn. China soybean imports are expected to decline (for the first time in 15 years) for a duration of at least several years. Additionally, it will not only take time to rebuild the herds, but farmers will only proceed with that once the threat of a new outbreak of ASF is eliminated.
China has geared up its import of pork from other countries; domestic production is expected to fall by 15% to 30%, based on available data. Pork is an important part of the Chinese diet, and its price, and that of other meats, has risen in China. However, prices to farmers in countries exporting to China, are inhibited by packer monopolies and speculators. Now, there is the additional factor of disruption from COVID-19 spreading through farm communities.
Vietnam, the world’s sixth-largest pork producer, is expected to lose about 25% of their hog herds; South Korea and Eastern Europe continue to be ravaged by ASF, and the Paris-based World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) warns that 25% of the global pig population is expected to die off in the near term due to the spread of ASF.
In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an advisory to pig producers and veterinarians to provide biosecurity training for their workers and any visitors to ensure the disease is kept out of U.S. farms. Biosecurity is already very high at most sizable U.S. hog operations. The USDA advisory states, “African swine fever (ASF) is a highly contagious foreign animal disease that affects both domestic and feral (wild) pigs. It does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans. ‘ASF has never been detected in the United States and we want to keep it that way,’ ” said USDA’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jack Shere.
The ASF virus has now been identified in 50 countries, including Poland, Ukraine, Russia and the Philippines. It was also detected among a wild boar population in Belgium, and a cull is being planned.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
U.S.-Russian Inspections and Meetings under New START Treaty Postponed Due to Pandemic
March 29 (EIRNS)—Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, told TASS yesterday that the normal process of meetings and inspections between U.S. and Russian officials under New START has been postponed. “The United States and Russia agreed … to suspend onsite inspections under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty until May 1,” Kimball said. Moscow and Washington also agreed to postpone the Bilateral Consultative Commission (BCC) meeting, scheduled for March, due to the pandemic.
According to Kimball, Russia and the U.S. agreed to “keep their full allotments of inspections and intend to conduct two BCC meetings this year, as called for by the treaty.” He stated, “Treaty-related information and notification that would have been exchanged at the BCC meeting will be conducted through regular diplomatic channels instead.”
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