EIR Daily Alert Service, Saturday, March 28, 2020
SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2020
Volume 7, Number 63
EIR Daily Alert Service
P.O. Box 17390, Washington, DC 20041-0390
- Xi and Trump Confer; Global Collaboration Grows Against Pandemic; New Economic System Is the Key
- In Phone Call, Trump and Xi Discuss Jointly Combatting COVID-19; ‘We’re Working Closely Together,’ Trump Says
- At G20 Virtual Summit, Xi and Putin Address Life-and-Death Nature of ‘All-Out War’ Against Coronavirus Pandemic
- China’s National Health Commission Shares Scientific, Technical Data With the World to Defeat COVID-19
- The European Union May Not Last More Than Two Weeks
- Eight Nations Call on UN Secretary-General to Demand Lifting of U.S. Sanctions to Fight COVID-19, But U.S. Puts More on Iran
- Life Before Debt: Africa Demands Debt Relief to Face Pandemic
- Task Force Medic Look for Refined Patterns of COVID-19 Spread, to Focus FEMA Action; Trump Confers With Governors
- Kaiser Study; Half of All U.S. Counties Have No ICU Beds; Seven Million Americans Over 60 Reside There
- Russian Military Canceled Exercise Near NATO’s Borders
- General Motors Is Ordered to Produce Ventilators Under the Defense Production Act
- In Ukraine, Vitrenko Says ‘Coronavirus Threatens the World Order; Helga Zepp-LaRocouche and I Have the Solution’
Xi and Trump Confer; Global Collaboration Grows Against Pandemic; New Economic System Is the Key
March 27 (EIRNS)—The phone call last night between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, and other developments in and around yesterday’s G20 virtual summit on fighting COVID-19, show growing international collaboration that is indispensable for humanity to win our historic fight. President Xi pledged to continue China’s aid to other nations, including the United States in his offer of help. Xi called for an end to confrontationist relations of any kind. President Trump expressed appreciation for China’s provision of medical supplies, cooperation in R&D for effective medicines, and other work against the epidemic. Trump spoke of how he has publicly made clear that the American people love and respect the Chinese people, and made a point of adding that he will protect Chinese nationals in the U.S., including students. The two heads of state said they are committed to remain in close communication.
President Putin stressed yesterday that there must be “green corridors” of humanitarian aid—matériel, medical, and other services—set up worldwide, with no tariffs, sanctions, or other impediments to delivering life-saving support.
These initiatives constitute headway towards a full-scale summit of these three Great Power leaders—plus India’s Narendra Modi, and more—to confer on moving decisively on both of the “two viruses”—the COVID-19 pandemic, and the London/Wall Street monetarist system, now crashing. Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s repeated call for this summit is getting ever wider attention, including this week in Ukraine, Iran, and elsewhere. On March 18, Zepp-LaRouche called for a temporary shutdown of the dysfunctional stock markets, as part of needed emergency measures to establish circumstances favorable to replacing the failed system. End the trillion-dollar bailouts to financial black holes, and reorganize banking on the Glass-Steagall principle. This is vital for the masses of credit required to fight the pandemic, and to establish a productive economy again. International collaboration, along with U.S. activation, are critical to forcing this into being.
The joint statement of the G20 meeting itself, listed points of collaborative action, e.g.: providing aid to impoverished areas, collaborating on R&D and production of treatments, vaccines, surveillance, and so on.
The same day as the G20 Summit was ongoing, a major briefing was being held in Beijing by the National Health Commission (NHC) of China, summarizing the extent to date of Chinese anti-virus aid around the world, and pledging to continue it. For example, this week, the NHC held a joint meeting with the World Health Organization, to share China’s epidemic and control experience, with representatives of 77 nations; 100,000 people watched online. There are other significant instances of international collaboration, such as Russia’s aid in Italy.
The critical element to this world picture was provided in a letter to the G20 meeting, calling for debt relief, drafted on behalf of the nations of the International Development Association, the world’s poorest countries, many of which are in Africa. There can be no defeat of COVID-19, morally or epidemiologically, on this planet, without an all-out drive in Africa and in all other places kept impoverished by the dead neo-British Empire system.
There are now dramatic instances of coronavirus spread across the Africa. South Africa starts nationwide lockdown tomorrow. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa starts full lockdown. A top advisor to President Félix Tshisekedi died there today. One African leader made the point, that “Our continent not only does not have the means to combat the virus, but we have nothing at all toward any economic ‘stimulus’ packages, as are being discussed in the Trans-Atlantic.”
We are at a moment when reality is sweeping away the lies and fake axioms of the old order. Hussein Askary, Schiller Institute Coordinator for Southwest Asia, said today, on TV in Iran: “One important positive outcome of this corona pandemic is that it showed that we are all human. The coronavirus does not care if you are Asian, European, African, or American. It will attack because you are human. Therefore, governments should react to this virus in a similar manner, as humans. If we don’t have a coordinated effort where all nations push in the same direction, we will not be able to defeat the coronavirus.
“The other positive effect is that it exposed the massive shortcomings in the trans-Atlantic system. This will open people’s eyes hopefully to what is essential and precious. Therefore, we are campaigning around the world for a new just world economic system, where all nations work for the benefit of the other in a win-win fashion. We need to change our outlook, or we will perish.”
THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER
In Phone Call, Trump and Xi Discuss Jointly Combatting COVID-19; ‘We’re Working Closely Together,’ Trump Says
March 27 (EIRNS)—Late last night (Friday Beijing time) Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping held a lengthy and productive phone call on bilateral cooperation in combatting the global coronavirus pandemic. Immediately following the call, the Trump tweeted that “I just finished a very good conversation with President Xi of China. Discussed in great detail the coronavirus that is ravaging large parts of our planet. China has been through much & has developed a strong understanding of the virus. We are working closely together. Much respect!”
Among the key points they discussed, as reported by Xinhua, was Xi’s report that China has always been, and would continue to be, committed to sharing information on COVID-19 in an open and responsible manner, both with the World Health Organization and with many countries, including the United States. He emphasized the need for concerted international cooperation, and said he is pleased with the results of the March 26 virtual summit of the Group of 20.
President Trump asked Xi for a detailed report on the measures China has taken to prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus, and said that what he has learned from China is very enlightening. He expressed the hope that the two can concentrate on working together against COVID-19, and not be distracted. For his part, Xi emphasized that U.S.-China relations are at an important juncture, and that both nations would benefit greatly from cooperation rather than confrontation. He called on the U.S. President to take “substantive action” to improve bilateral relations.
The Chinese President also said he is concerned about the development of the coronavirus in the U.S., and has taken note of Trump’s response. It is China’s hope, he said, that the U.S. will be able to contain the spread of the epidemic at an early date, to avoid large losses. Xi pointed out that there has been constant communication between both nations’ medical experts and health departments in recent months, and said that China will continue to share all relevant information with the United States. China, he said, understands very well what the U.S. is going through, and is prepared to provide whatever support it can.
Speaking to reporters today after signing the $2 trillion stimulus package that passed the House, Trump reported that in his call with Xi, “We talked about the experience that they had in China and all of the things that have taken place. And we learned a lot.”
At G20 Virtual Summit, Xi and Putin Address Life-and-Death Nature of ‘All-Out War’ against Coronavirus Pandemic
March 27 (EIRNS)—At yesterday’s video summit of members of the Group of 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping commented incisively on the threat of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and proposed specific measures to strengthen what Xi Jinping called “an all-out global war” against the virus. There can be no “every-man-for-himself” mentality, Putin stressed. “This is a matter of life and death.”
In his presentation, Putin emphasized the urgent need to ensure “access to funding for countries which require resources, primarily meaning states that are affected by these crisis phenomena and the pandemic.” In light of this, he said, he suggested creating a special fund under International Monetary Fund auspices “financed primarily by the central banks that issue currencies included in the IMF basket.” Any IMF member could borrow from the fund, “proportionally to their share in the global economy with a zero interest rate for the long term.”
The Russian President said that in addition to ensuring functioning supply chains, it is equally important to create “so-called green corridors free of trade wars and sanctions for the mutual supply of medicines, food, equipment, and technology.” Ideally, there should also be a joint moratorium “on restrictions on essentials, as well as on financial transactions for their procurement.” He emphasized that he was talking about countries “that are suffering the most from this pandemic.”
In his presentation, Xi Jinping underscored the need for international cooperation “so that humanity as one could win the battle against such a major infectious disease.” He made four proposals to achieve this:
1. Be “resolute in fighting an all-out global war” against the pandemic. The community of nations “must move swiftly” to stem the virus’s spread. G20 health ministers should meet as soon as possible, and G20 members must jointly help those developing countries with weak public health systems.
2. There must be a collective response for control and treatment at the international level, since viruses respect no borders; we must all work together to build “a strongest global network of control and treatment that the world has ever seen.”
3. Support for international organizations is essential. Xi called on G20 members to “enhance anti-epidemic information, sharing with the support of the WHO, and promote control and treatment protocols.
4. Enhance international macroeconomic policy coordination; the outbreak has disrupted production and demand internationally.
China’s National Health Commission Shares Scientific, Technical Data with the World To Defeat COVID-19
March 27 (EIRNS)—In a March 26 press conference in Beijing, officers of China’s National Health Commission (NHC) detailed the Commission’s extraordinary outreach to the international community, in fighting COVID-19.
According to NHC Deputy Director Zeng Yixin, the commission has compiled documents pertaining to the latest diagnosis and treatment plan, prevention and control plan, and other technical issues, and has shared them with 180 countries and more than ten international and regional organizations. Moreover, he said, the NHC held a joint meeting with the World Health Organization, to share China’s epidemic prevention and control experiences, which was attended online by representatives of 77 countries and seven international organizations. More than 100,000 people watched the meeting online, Xinhua reported today.
In addition to 30 technical exchange meetings held with more than 100 countries, via video links, Deng Boqing, the deputy head of China’s International Development Cooperation Agency, reported that Chinese medical workers and supplies have been sent to 28 Asian countries, 16 European countries, 26 African countries, nine countries in the Americas, and ten South Pacific nations.
At the same press conference, China’s vice minister of science and technology Xu Nanping stressed China’s desire to share its achievements in combatting COVID-19 “with all mankind.” Aside from sharing the first completed genome sequences of the novel coronavirus on Jan. 11, he said, China has also built two platforms to share its scientific proceedings, one a novel coronavirus data sharing and analysis platform under the National Microbiology Data Center, and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Resource (2019nCoVR) database under the China National Center for Bioinformation. As of March 25, the 2019nCoVR had provided data service to more than 76,000 visitors from 152 countries and regions, and recorded 4.44 million downloads, Xu reported.
COLLAPSING WESTERN FINANCIAL SYSTEM
The European Union May Not Last More Than Two Weeks
March 27 (EIRNS)—Perhaps the biggest crisis since the existence of the European Union broke out yesterday, when Italy and Spain rejected the draft statement prepared for the European Union Council meeting yesterday. That draft statement had simply ignored a request forwarded by a front including Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, and Slovenia, for an EU-wide facility to provide emergency, unconditioned loans to member states hit by the coronavirus crisis and its effects on the economy. After six hours of discussion, the decision was taken to explore new options and discuss them in two weeks.
According to Die Welt, Merkel “was irritated by Italian Prime Minister [Giuseppe] Conte’s aggressivity.” Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria had insisted that EU member countries in need should go to the infamous European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and accept its conditionalities. Conte reacted by saying that “If anyone thinks about personal protection equipment, they can keep them for themselves. Italy does not need them: Our accounts are okay.”
As Conte and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez went on the offensive, French President Emmanuel Macron kept silent, giving the impression that this was a pre-arranged scheme. The meeting threatened to crash, until the proposal was accepted to meet again in two weeks.
Even liberal, pro-EU mouthpieces such as Die Zeit acknowledged that this meeting might have marked the end of the European Union. “A community that drops its members in trouble is not worthy of its name,” Die Zeit scolded.
Italian opposition leader Matteo Salvini commented: “They gathered in Brussels and decided to decide in two weeks. They do not understand that people are dying. It stinks.”
From the standpoint of Germany and others, they “fear that the corona-bonds will eventually become Euro-bonds, and a temporary common fund at the end becomes a lasting one. This would be the start of an uncontrolled debt-economy.”
But let it be clear: The proposal for EU bonds is wrong, it is doomed to fail and is useless. The European Central Bank (ECB) has just announced that they will drop constraints on sovereign debt purchases, allowing purchases beyond 30% of national debt and below investment grade. This means that Italy, Spain, Greece, and others can potentially issue new debt which the ECB will buy on the secondary market. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on March 21, announcing the lifting of deficit constraints, that EU member states can now “pump as much as they want” into the economy.
So, why insist on the Eurobonds scheme? Critics say that its proponents see it as a tool to force through the creation of a supranational debt and a supranational government.
Eight Nations Call on UN Secretary-General To Demand Lifting of U.S. Sanctions To Fight COVID-19, But U.S. Puts More on Iran
March 27 (EIRNS)—In a March 25 letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, eight governments—all of which are victims of harsh international sanctions—called on Guterres to demand the lifting of U.S. sanctions on several countries, in order to assist them in combatting the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As reported by Radio Farda, the UN diplomatic missions of Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela warned that sanctions are hindering nations’ ability to fight against what they called “the common enemy of mankind.” In almost all cases, the United States, with the support of the European Union, has been the driving force behind the imposition of those sanctions.
Undeterred, yesterday the U.S. Treasury imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, which has been severely affected by the coronavirus, and whose ability to obtain urgently-needed medical supplies has been severely hampered by the sanctions already in place. Yesterday’s new Treasury sanctions name 15 Iranian individuals and five companies, alleged to be acting “on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force,” RT reported.
Life Before Debt: Africa Demands Debt Relief To Face Pandemic
March 27 (EIRNS)—The African nations are calling for a suspension of interest payments on their multilateral and sovereign bond debt due in 2020, so as to free up $44 billion to confront the coronavirus and its economic impact. A moratorium on principal as well as interest is urged for the “fragile” African nations, such as the Sahel nations, Central African Republic, and others.
This call was made after a (virtual) crisis meeting of the continent’s finance ministers on March 19, and reiterated in a statement directed to the G20 before it began. (“Three Things the G20 Must Do To Support Africa in COVID-19 Pandemic”).
Our nations will coordinate the logistics and delivery of testing equipment, they wrote, but we require international help to upgrade our health infrastructure, as well as support the existing facilities. For example, most pharmaceutical and medical supplies consumed in Africa are imported, they point out.
The ministers calculate that Africa needs an immediate economic stimulus of $100 billion (in addition to $50 billion already committed by G20 nations and an additional liquidity line for the private sector and small to mid-size enterprises). The proposed waiver on interest payments would generate $44 billion towards that.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed went further, in his “Three Point Proposal” to the G20. He proposed that a “Global Africa Health Emergency Package” be put together to help supply medical equipment, test kits, and protective clothing to the continent, but on top of that, Ahmed urged that all interest payments on government loans be not just suspended, but entirely written off.
“In addition, we suggest the remaining debt be converted into long-term, low-interest loans with 10 years grace period before payment. All debt repayments will be limited to 10% of the value of exports.”
U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Task Force Medics Look for Refined Pattens of COVID-19 Spread, To Focus FEMA Action; Trump Confers with Governors
March 27 (EIRNS)—White House Task Force medical officials Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci over the last couple of days have reported that U.S. testing results and other data are soon coming together to allow for differentiating the 3,000-plus counties into “low risk, mid-risk, and high risk” COVID-19-spread danger, in a way that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can best direct its responses to critical zones as they come on.
Trump met with governors yesterday, and sent a letter to them the same day, saying that they will be receiving information for “maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other mitigation measures.”
Just obtaining the test results data together has been a feat, due to the differing networks of laboratories and inhibitions to central, speedy reporting. Only today is President Trump expected to sign the bill mandating by law that all laboratories must report their COVID-19 test results to the Centers for Disease Control.
The COVID-19 hot-spot counties right now are clearly the five counties of Metro New York City (not counting Connecticut), King County (Seattle), Wayne County (Detroit), Cook County (Chicago), the parishes of New Orleans, and parts of California, as Dr. Birx reported yesterday. Ten states have been federally certified as disasters. But patterns are fast becoming more complex.
Birx pointed out certain things about where the virus seems relatively least present. In 19 states altogether there are 200 cases. Several of these 19 states are practicing serious containment and contact-tracing.
Brix said at the Monday Task Force briefing, that they are very focussed on getting enough data by this weekend to allow an idea of time-frame for the curves in the differing parts of the country. Each state will have a different time-frame. As of March 14, Washington State was about two weeks ahead of New York. She referenced that China and South Korea had about an 8-10 week curve.
Kaiser Study: Half of All U.S. Counties Have No ICU Beds; Seven Million Americans Over 60 Reside There
March 27 (EIRNS)—Lyndon LaRouche’s decades-long warnings on the gouging of U.S. health-care infrastructure is writ large in a just-released study by the Kaiser Health News (KHN) service which states that “Half of the counties in America have no intensive care beds, posing a danger for more than 7 million people” over the age of 60 and up who reside in those counties. Further, their study indicates that even where there are intensive-care (ICU) beds, the numbers available for senior citizens “vary wildly.” See their article and interactive map at https://khn.org/news/as-coronavirus-spreads-widely-millions-of-older-americans-live-in-counties-with-no-icu-beds/. The study’s data are a comparison between hospital data and number of persons over age 60 and up.
As for those counties with hospitals but which have no ICU beds, KHN reports that this affects 18 million people, and that of those, “about a quarter of them are 60 or older.” Plus, there are 11 million more people who live in counties with no hospital at all in which “2.7 million of them [are] seniors.”
The real evidence of what LaRouche always identified as Wall Street gouging is seen in KHN’s data comparing numbers of the available ICU beds to the number of seniors who might need those beds in a given county. “Among counties with ICU beds the average, is 1,300 older people per bed in each county.” Some incredible examples are given: Michigan’s Clinton County has 8,469 residents aged 60-plus per ICU bed; or California’s Santa Cruz County with 2,601 seniors per ICU bed. Those are the most extreme.
The farm belt states are outstanding in the lack of hospitals and ICU beds. For example, in Kansas, 68 of the state’s 105 counties have no ICU beds at all, and ten of those counties have no hospital at all. In the same counties, the over-60 cohort ranges from 25% to 33%.
It’s no better in the big cities: San Francisco has one ICU bed for every 5,323 older residents.
STRATEGIC WAR DANGER
Russian Military Canceled Exercise Near NATO’s Borders
March 27 (EIRNS)—Without attracting much attention or fanfare, a Russian Defense Ministry official said earlier this week that Russia has canceled military exercises in western Russia, following the significant scaling-back of NATO’s Defender Europe exercise due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, in an interview with Izvestia posted on March 23, couched the cancellation in terms of Russia’s willingness to dialogue with NATO. “We have never abandoned dialogue with either the West or the East. We interact on all key issues of mutual interest. For example, in a proactive manner, we stopped conducting military exercises in close proximity to Russia’s borders with Western countries” (emphasis added).
Later the same morning, Kremlin Press Spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed what Fomin had said about the exercise cancellation. “Obviously, this is linked to preventive measures … amid the situation with the overall fight against the coronavirus,” he said, adding the COVID-19 factor to the decision, whereas Fomin had not mentioned it.
SCIENCE AND INFRASTRUCTURE
General Motors Is Ordered To Produce Ventilators under the Defense Production Act
March 27 (EIRNS)—This afternoon, President Donald Trump announced that under the provisions of the Defense Production Act (DPA), he is authorizing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use “any and all authority available under the Act to require General Motors Company to accept, perform, and prioritize contracts or orders for the number of ventilators that the Secretary determines to be appropriate.”
In a statement, Trump explained that “our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course.” During the day, Trump issued a number of tweets criticizing GM, which in a partnership with Ventec Life was scheduled to produce 80,000 ventilators by late April, but at a cost of $1 billion which FEMA considered prohibitive.
In Ukraine, Vitrenko Says ‘Coronavirus Threatens the World Order; Helga Zepp-LaRouche and I Have the Solution’
March 27 (EIRNS)—The COVID-19 pandemic has begun to spread in Ukraine, but the acknowledged number of cases—barely 150 as of March 25—is generally believed to be a big understatement. Dr. Natalia Vitrenko, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, reports that a recent spike in pneumonia deaths likely means that the coronavirus has spread already, despite not being recognized.
The situation in the country is tense, as neo-Nazi bands have attacked “sick people,” starting with a bus bringing Ukrainian evacuees from Hubei Province over a month ago, and continuing with individual attacks on people wearing a medical mask on the street. The subway system in Kiev (metropolitan area population about 5 million) has been shut down, and the number of passengers allowed on buses is restricted, prompting additional violent incidents as people struggle to get on the bus.
Ukraine’s health-care system is in shambles. President Volodymyr Zelensky just recently fired his first government, and the International Monetary Fund is still dangling money while demanding a “reform” agenda of more austerity.
In this unstable situation, Vitrenko on March 18 posted a video under the headline “The coronavirus is smashing the capitalist world order. A plan of salvation from Natalia Vitrenko and Helga Zepp-LaRouche.” Vitrenko said that the issue is “not just socialism, but proper regulation and the role of the state in any system,” as exemplified by Alexander Hamilton on the physical-economic basis of national security, and the need for a national bank to channel investments into the productive sector. She reviewed the 1996 “Memorandum to Mankind,” initiated by herself and Helga Zepp-LaRouche at a Schiller Institute conference in Germany in 1996, which upheld the principles of national sovereignty against the globalization/free-trade agenda of the financial oligarchy, and warned of likely catastrophic consequences for mankind if such a shift were not made. The COVID-19 pandemic, Vitrenko said, is a consequence of people not listening to Lyndon LaRouche’s advice during those years.
Vitrenko’s video has been viewed by 11,000 people.
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