EIR Daily Alert Service, THURSDAY, March 12, 2020

THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2020

Volume 7, Number 51

EIR Daily Alert Service

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

  • FLASH: President Trump Addresses Nation
  • Bank of England Panics, Wall Street Explodes: Will Trump Listen to the Wise Words of Lyndon LaRouche?
  • World Health Organization Declares That COVID-19 Is Now a Pandemic
  • Nurses Unions Protest Weakened CDC COVID-19 Guidelines
  • Esper Cancels Planned Trip Due to Coronavirus, Military Exercises Also Impacted
  • U.S. Diplomats Fully Support Turkish Objectives in Syria’s Idlib Province
  • Top Generals in NATO’s Defender-Europe Exercise Exposed to COVID-19
  • Putin Is Confident Russia Can Withstand Economic Crisis and Come Out Stronger
  • Bank of England Cuts Interest Rate, Lagarde Warns of a 2008-Like Scenario
  • South and Southwest Asian Nations Collaborate To Combat Desert Locust Invasions
  • Russian Duma Passes Constitutional Changes Which Will Allow Two More Terms for President Putin
  • China Sends Medical Team to Italy To Assist in Combatting Coronavirus Spread

EDITORIAL

FLASH: President Trump Addresses Nation

March 11 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump spoke for ten minutes tonight. All travel from Europe (other than the U.K.) is restricted as of Friday, March 13, 11:59 EDT, for 30 days. The European Union failed to take the immediate measures we did in closing travel with China, and they are paying the consequences. As China and South Korea recover, there will be consideration of lifting restrictions. Nursing homes are encouraged to suspend all non-medically necessary visits. Emergency actions are in the works to provide relief to those who must stay home when ill, or forced off the job. The Small Business Administration will be given $50 billion (pending Congressional approval) for SMEs affected. SBE tax-payment deferrals and payroll tax relief will be proposed to Congress. “This is not a financial crisis,” he said. Our banking system “incredibly strong.”

Bank of England Panics, Wall Street Explodes: Will Trump Listen to the Wise Words of Lyndon LaRouche?

March 11 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump addressed the nation Wednesday night, after this report was closed out. Whether or not he chose to use the power of the Presidency, as designed by America’s Founding Fathers, and as embedded in the post-World War II Defense Production Act, to bypass the corrupt and impotent Congress to declare a national emergency, to unleash a massive infrastructure and industrial expansion policy, may determine the fate of the nation and the world. The takedown of the public health system over the past 50 years, both in the U.S. and in Europe, is now standing naked before world, as the West’s leading nations, including Germany, Italy, France, and the United States, have no capacity to meet the extraordinary health requirements of what has, finally, been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

And it is also now abundantly clear to all but the blind, that the entire industrial capacity—especially the basic infrastructure which sustains that capacity—is so decrepit, that even rebuilding the industrial capacity will take mammoth government interventions, on the scale with which Franklin Roosevelt intervened in 1933. To start, the panicked collapse of the “market”—the Dow was down over 5% today, 20% for the week—can only be resolved in one way—the immediate restoration of Glass-Steagall, ending the speculative hysteria. Then, the President must assert his powers as President to exonerate Lyndon LaRouche, so that the full power of his “Four Laws” can be fully implemented.

With that, the leaders of the great nations of the world—necessarily including Russia, China, India, and the United States—must come together to implement a new Bretton Woods system based upon these Four Laws, freeing the entire world from the bankrupt British imperial system of monetarism governed by Wall Street and the City of London.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche today called on President Trump and NATO to end the insanity of the Europe-Defender 2020 exercises—the largest NATO exercises since the Cold War, openly moving huge numbers of NATO troops and military equipment to the Russian border. Besides the insanity from a strategic standpoint—threatening war between the world’s two largest nuclear-armed powers—it is equally insane to have huge numbers of soldiers moving across Europe as the coronavirus threatens mass death if not contained.

It is a moment of historic consequence. To our advantage as human beings, the population increasingly recognizes that the “rules that be” no longer hold. Many are looking back, asking, “Who has been telling the truth all these years, while the governments and the media and Wall Street lied?” If the institutional leaders continue to be blind to the need for revolutionary change, for a return to “American System” measures of directed credit, and of allowing President Trump to carry out his intention to restore friendly relations with Russia and China, then we must mobilize the citizenry to demand precisely that policy.

U.S. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC

World Health Organization Declares That COVID-19 Is Now a Pandemic

March 11 (EIRNS)—As the global number of coronavirus cases reached 124,663 today, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared that the COVID-19 epidemic can now accurately be defined as a pandemic. He documented the evolution of the novel coronavirus over the past two weeks, pointing to the 13-fold increase of cases outside of China, and the tripling in the number of countries affected. In the days and weeks ahead, he said, he expected to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries to “climb even higher.”

WHO has made its assessment after monitoring the outbreak around the clock, and becoming deeply concerned “both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said. Pandemic “is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Dr. Tedros cautioned again. “It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.”

“We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.”

He pointed out that the world has never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus.

“And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.” And, he underscored, this is not just a public health crisis, but one that “will touch every sector, so every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight.” He emphasized that he has urged countries to take a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, built around a comprehensive strategy to prevent infections, save lives, and minimize impact.”

“We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic.” Dr. Tedros acknowledged that there are some countries that are struggling with a lack of capacity, with a lack of resources, and some “with a lack of resolve.” We are grateful, he said, “for the measures being taken in Iran, Italy, and the Republic of Korea to slow the virus and control their epidemics. We know that these measures are taking a heavy toll on societies and economies, just as they did in China. WHO’s mandate is public health. But we’re working with many partners across all sectors to mitigate the social and economic consequences of this pandemic.”

Nurses Unions Protest Weakened CDC COVID-19 Guidelines

March 11 (EIRNS)—Today, the California Nurses Association (CNA), the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), and National Nurses United (NNU) are holding a day of action to protest their anger over weakening of guidelines for response to the COVID-19 epidemic, announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday.

According to a press release issued by the three nursing organizations, the CDC’s weakened guidelines include rolling back personal protective equipment (PPE) standards from N95 masks to allow simple surgical masks; not requiring suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients to be placed in negative-pressure isolation rooms at all times; and weakening protections for healthcare workers collecting diagnostic respiratory specimens.

“These are moves that National Nurses United nurses say will gravely endanger nurses, healthcare workers, patients, and our communities,” an NNU press release warns. The day of action will protest the “ineffective employer and government response to COVID-19 and demand protections now,” and include a warning from Bonnie Castillo, RN and CNA/NNOC and NNU executive director, that “if nurses and healthcare workers aren’t protected, that means patients and the public are not protected.”

The American Federation of Teachers, the Transport Workers Union of America, and about a dozen other unions are also up in arms over the CDC’s revamped guidelines, particularly that which replaces the specialized N95 masks with ordinary surgical masks.

“We are strongly opposed to any measures that fail to provide optimal protection and infection control standards,” union representatives had written in a March 6 letter to CDC officials. The unions are opposed to these changes, they said, because emerging disease like COVID-19 “pose an occupational hazard for workers on the front lines, especially healthcare workers.”

The Washington Post reported that the CDC’s new guidance is due to a shortage of the N95 masks, and the fact that “the supply chain of respirators cannot meet demand and that looser fitting surgical face masks are an acceptable alternative.”

The more commonly worn surgical masks will limit—but not eliminate—the chance of inhaling large, infectious particles circulating near the face. Until March 10, the CDC had recommended that healthcare workers interacting with coronavirus patients or suspected cases wear N95 respirators, along with gowns, gloves, and eye protectors. The N95 filters must be custom-fitted and are more expensive than surgical masks. The bean counters at work.

STRATEGIC WAR DANGER

Esper Cancels Planned Trip Due to Coronavirus, Military Exercises Also Impacted

March 11 (EIRNS)—The Defense Department announced yesterday that a trip to Central Asia which Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had planned for next week has been canceled.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Secretary of Defense @EsperDOD has decided to postpone his travel to India, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan until a later date to remain in the U.S. to help manage the Dept of Defense response to coronavirus,” Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah wrote in a Tweet yesterday. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters during a regular briefing that there were two reasons for cancellation. One was the concern about what would happen if a member of Esper’s entourage got sick and had to be quarantined in a foreign country for 14 days. Second, “there’s also the desire of the Secretary to be in the U.S. right now working on our response to the coronavirus, not just with our own workforce but the effort we have with the whole of government support in finding a way that we can help HHS, help CDC, and help the rest of the federal government.”

The picture with military exercises, meanwhile, remains mixed. U.S. Africa Command announced yesterday the scaling back of a multinational exercise called African Lion. Hoffman said that “it was a decision that was made by the combatant commander that—in conjunction with the host countries—I believe it’s Morocco and Tunisia—that we were going to reduce our effort.” The exercise will now include only portions that do not require troops to lodge together in close quarters, as well as an academic portion, which has already begun, reported The Hill.

“Modifying the exercise still improves readiness while minimizing risk to protect both U.S. and partner forces,” said Africom chief Gen. Stephen Townsend.

One exercise that so far has not been scaled back, however, is the Defender-Europe 2020 exercise. Rear Adm. William D. Byrne Jr., Vice Director, Joint Staff, speaking at the same briefing with Hoffman, said that planning continues for the exercise, but he stated that, because it’s multinational, the other participants get a vote on this. “But as far as we’re concerned now, that exercise is going to continue and that force flow moving those people will continue,” he said.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche in her weekly strategic webcast today called for the obvious necessity to cancel the Defender-Europe 2020, stating “the virus does not stop in the face of the military,” and calling it absurd in its intent.

U.S. Diplomats Fully Support Turkish Objectives in Syria’s Idlib Province

March 11 (EIRNS)—James Jeffrey, the U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Engagement, and David Satterfield, the U.S. Ambassador in Turkey, delivered a briefing to reporters at the State Department yesterday, from Brussels, where they have been trying to armtwist NATO into giving more support to Turkish ambitions in Syria’s Idlib province. Their briefing was characterized by the language of regime change—though they never said that explicitly—by the underlying assumptions of the so-called Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and full support for the Turkish propaganda on Syria and the “evil Assad regime” and its Russian and Iranian backers. They fully embraced the Turkish propaganda that the objective of Damascus and Moscow in Idlib is to drive out the civilian population in order to coerce Ankara into doing their bidding.

“A deliberate Russian decision to initiate a campaign in Idlib—the last extant de-escalation zone—has used as its primary lever the presence of 3 million-plus innocent civilians, the majority of whom are women and children,” Satterfield said. “By forcing their movement, their displacement from their home under very difficult conditions, towards the Turkish border, Russia’s calculation is, this will compel Turkey to take decisions favorable to Russian ambitions to both retake the Idlib zone for the regime and effect, through the retaking of Idlib, an end to the ability of the international community to see either the full implementation of Resolution 2254 or a situation in which there is any stand made against Russian aggression.”

Satterfield stressed that it is “Russian aggression,” because “the Syrian regime on its own could not be conducting this campaign. This is enabled by, at all times, Russian air and ground activity, but particularly air.”

Iran did not escape their indictment, either, with Jeffrey claiming that Tehran not only wants “to prop up the war-criminal Assad regime,” but also threatens the U.S. military posture in the region and U.S. allies that host U.S. forces.

“This is another indication that Iran is driving on its own axis in Syria, not only supporting the Assad regime, which is bad enough, but trying to expand its own hegemonic agenda throughout the northern Levant, and this is something the United States is absolutely opposed to,” Jeffrey said.

They bragged that the U.S. objective is to do everything possible, short of a direct military intervention, to interfere with Moscow/Damascus objectives in Syria.

“They are out to get a military victory in all of Syria,” Jeffrey said. “Our goal is to make it very difficult for them to do that by a variety of diplomatic, military, and other actions.” He claimed that this includes denying Syrian forces their allegedly favorite tactic, the use of chemical weapons, “because they know that we, probably with several of our allies, will respond in a very savage military way to that.” This also includes the presence of U.S. troops in the oil fields in eastern Syria. Though they’re ostensibly there to fight ISIS, they are also a complication that the Syrian government has to take into account.

Naturally, none of the reporters on the call challenged the axiomatic basis for what Jeffrey and Satterfield were saying. Some of them were clearly all too happy to hear Erdogan’s propaganda repeated back to them.

Top Generals in NATO’s Defender-Europe Exercise Exposed to COVID-19

March 11 (EIRNS)—NATO’s much celebrated Defender-European 2020 exercise is the latest casualty in the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 10 Poland’s Defense Ministry announced that one of its top officers attending the meeting in Wiesbaden, Germany of the top NATO generals involved in the exercise, Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, had been infected with the virus.  “After returning from an army gathering in Germany, General Mika has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Those accompanying him have been quarantined,” Poland’s Defense Ministry wrote March 10 on Twitter.

Because of Mika’s infection, other officers who attended the meeting have been quarantined, including Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe (USAREUR), according to Stars and Stripes, along with several of his staff who attended the meeting.  Altogether 24 senior military representatives from NATO and partner countries who attended the meeting, at which they discussed how to run the exercise, are in quarantine. The generals had also deliberated on “proactive steps nations and military forces are taking to prevent the spread of [coronavirus] during the exercise,” U.S. Army Europe said in a statement after the meeting. Despite the danger to themselves and the general population, the exercise, which is costing the U.S. government $360 million, has not yet been cancelled

It is not reported whether the other 22 officers were quarantined as well.

In Norway, the Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen, has been quarantined after being exposed to coronavirus, the Defense Ministry reported.  The Ministry also cancelled the Cold Response exercise, that involved 15,000 troops from nine countries, because of the disease threat.

ECONOMY

Putin Is Confident Russia Can Withstand Economic Crisis and Come Out Stronger

March 11 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin met with bankers and investment fund chiefs today at his residence, where he was optimistic on Russia’s capacity to withstand the unfolding economic collapse in the West: “I’m not just hoping—I’m confident that Russia will go through this turbulent period with dignity and a sense of calm. Moreover, there is every chance for key Russian industries to come out of this situation much stronger and prepared for further, very serious competition. This, of course, should have an impact on the entire Russian economy, and be reflected in a positive way.” Russia survived the heavy sanctions after 2014 by building up its own industrial and agricultural capacities to replace the cutoff of imports, resulting in a stronger overall economy.

On March 10, the Russian Finance Ministry reported that the country’s sovereign wealth fund now has $150 billion in assets, which they calculate could compensate for lower revenues from oil, even if prices remained at the $25-$30 a barrel mark for the next six to ten years, as reported in Sputnik.

Bank of England Cuts Interest Rate, Lagarde Warns of a 2008-Like Scenario

March 11 (EIRNS)—Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, in his last week on the job, pressed the panic button and cut U.K. interest rates because of the impact of coronavirus. The unscheduled rate-cut was 50 basis points, from 0.75% to 0.25%. The claim that this is to protect households and businesses is a bit of a joke; everyone knows that the liquidity is never passed on. The bank is also reducing the amount of capital that U.K. banks need to hold, which, again, it falsely claims will create £190 billion of extra bank lending to businesses. The bank is also launching a new funding scheme to provide funding for businesses struggling with the economic shock of COVID-19.

The Guardian’s Larry Elliott wrote that the move shows that the bank and government are really worried, pointing to the timing, the scale, and the details:

“The Bank and the Treasury are working in tandem in an attempt to show they are in charge of events, but the 50 basis points cut takes rates back to their post-Brexit referendum low and demonstrates just how worried the authorities are,” Elliot wrote this morning. He also expressed caution on whether this cut will benefit actually struggling businesses.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde warned that Europe risks a 2008-style financial crisis unless leaders act urgently on the coronavirus, during a conference call with European Union leaders on March 10, in which she urged them to action and to raise spending in order to counter the economic effects of COVID-19, a source told Bloomberg.

Lagarde reportedly also said that Europe could face a “scenario that will remind many of us of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis.” Lagarde said the ECB was considering all of its options before its meeting on March 12. The ECB is expected to cut interest rates, which are already at zero, and expand its quantitative easing, according to Bloomberg. All of this will, of course go, to the banks.

She reportedly said EU leaders needed to ensure banks’ continued lending to businesses affected by the virus outbreak, and ramp up their own fiscal stimulus measures. The ECB declined to comment on the report.

South and Southwest Asian Nations Collaborate To Combat Desert Locust Invasions

March 11 (EIRNS)—India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan are joining forces to deal with locust invasions threatening their nations, India’s News18 reported March 9. Today, agriculture ministers of these nations met via video to map out a regional strategy to deal with what is being called the worst locust invasion to hit the region in almost three decades. A representative from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was also scheduled to participate in the call.

According to the Jerusalem Post March 5, FAO estimated that the longer-than-usual monsoon rains across the region in 2019, combined with frequent 2018 cyclones in the Indian Ocean, may have contributed to the locust outbreak along the India-Pakistan border. Jordan and Syria are bracing for an outbreak; Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture has already announced an “utmost state of emergency,” after swarms descended on Saudi Arabia via Yemen.

But the situation in Iran, which is also struggling to deal with epidemic novel coronavirus, is dire. Southern Iran has been hit particularly hard, requiring extensive pesticide spraying. The provinces of Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchestan, Bushehr, Fars, and Khuzestan have all been affected. Reza Mir, spokesman of the Plant Protection Organization, reports that the density of locusts in the swarms is so high that a 10-15 cm. layer of dead locusts forms on the ground following pesticide spraying.

Keykhosrow Changalvai, head of the Agricultural Jihad Organization in Khuzestan, estimates that over 1 million hectares of agricultural land may be sprayed this year, as the number of locusts is predicted to be seven-fold that of last year’s swarms. He told Radio Farda on March 4, “Last year the swarms were between 1 to 1.5 km long, but this year they will measure between 7 to 10 km. … The danger of these locusts is no less than the coronavirus.”

THE NEW GLOBAL ECONOMIC ORDER

Russian Duma Passes Constitutional Changes Which Will Allow Two More Terms for President Putin

March 11 (EIRNS)—The Russian Duma has passed legislation for constitutional changes which, among other things, make it possible for President Vladimir Putin to run for two more six-year terms when his current term expires in 2024. The legislation goes to the upper house, the Federation Council, for passage, then to the Constitutional Court, then to a national referendum in April. Passage is expected at all levels.

As could be expected, Western media are ranting about “dictator for life,” as they did with Xi Jinping when China’s Constitution was revised, lifting term limits. AP reports on opposition anger and plans for large demonstrations, although they acknowledge that not many people will show up, allegedly due to the COVID crisis.

Putin gave his support yesterday to the amendment, which had been put forward by Valentina Tereshkova, the Soviet cosmonaut who was the first woman to fly to space.

China Sends Medical Team to Italy To Assist in Combatting Coronavirus Spread

March 11 (EIRNS)—Following the March 10 phone conversation between Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, China has sent to Italy, today, a special medical team to assist in combatting the novel coronavirus spread in Italy. The seven-member team, organized by the China Red Cross Society, includes five experts from the western province of Sichuan. They have brought important medical supplies, CGTN reported.

According to a release by China’s Foreign Ministry, during their call Di Maio said the Italian government is following closely and drawing on China’s successful experience and taking strong measures to prevent the spread of the disease. He also asked for China’s assistance to help address the urgent need for medical supplies and equipment in his country.

Wang said that China, a good friend and comprehensive strategic partner of Italy, fully understands the challenge confronting that nation, and reiterated China’s sympathies and support. The epidemic, which knows no boundaries, he said, “is a common enemy of mankind and thus requires a united response from the international community.” China, he said, will firmly stand by the Italian people in this crisis, adding that although demand for medical supplies remains high in China, “we will overcome difficulties to provide masks and other medical supplies to Italy and “increase export of materials and equipment badly needed in Italy.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister thanked Italy for taking care of the health and safety of Chinese citizens in Italy, and expressed the hope that Italy will continue to provide them with necessary support and assistance. “Hand in hand, we will prevail over the epidemic,” Wang said.

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