German Minister Commits Suicide After ‘Virus Crisis Worries’

By Euractiv

Global Research, March 31, 2020

Euractiv 30 March 2020

Thomas Schaefer, the finance minister of Germany’s Hesse state, has committed suicide apparently after becoming “deeply worried” over how to cope with the economic fallout from the coronavirus, state premier Volker Bouffier said Sunday (29 March).

Schaefer, 54, was found dead near a railway track on Saturday. The Wiesbaden prosecution’s office said they believe he died by suicide.

“We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad,” Bouffier said in a recorded statement.

Hesse is home to Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, where major lenders like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have their headquarters. The European Central Bank is also located in Frankfurt.

A visibly shaken Bouffier recalled that Schaefer, who was Hesse’s finance chief for 10 years, had been working “day and night” to help companies and workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Today we have to assume that he was deeply worried,” said Bouffier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“It’s precisely during this difficult time that we would have needed someone like him,” he added.

Popular and well-respected, Schaefer had long been touted as a possible successor to Bouffier.

Like Bouffier, Schaefer belonged to Merkel’s centre-right CDU party.

He leaves behind a wife and two children.

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Featured image: An undated handout photo made available by the Ministry of Finance of German state of Hesse shows Finance Minister Thomas Schaefer. According to the Wiesbaden public prosecutor’s office, the Minister of Finance of Hesse, Thomas Schäfer, was found dead on 28 March 2020. [EPA-EFE/SABRINA FEIGE]The original source of this article is EuractivCopyright © EuractivEuractiv, 2020

ما أكثر العِبَر

بقلم د. بثينة شعبان

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يقول المثل العربي: «ما أكثر العِبَر وما اقلّ الاعتبار»؛ ذلك لأن الاعتبار يعني التفكّر في العبر وفهم المغزى الحقيقي لها والتصرف على أساس الدروس المستقاة منها، ونحن نجد اليوم عبراً لا تحصى في التجربة الإنسانية بكل أشكالها وتجلّياتها ولكن الاستفادة من هذه العبر محدودة أحياناً وتكاد تكون معدومة أحياناً أخرى.

 والمثال الأكبر والأهم والذي يشغل بال البشرية اليوم هو فيروس كورونا الذي صدف أن بدأ انتشاره في جمهورية الصين الشعبية وظنّ الآخرون أنهم في منأى عن هذا الخطر نتيجة البعد الجغرافي واختلاف العرق وأخذوا يطلقون نظريات لا علاقة لها بالعبر التي يجب أن تكون مستمدة من هذه الحال إلى أن بدأ بالانتشار في كلّ أنحاء المعمورة تقريباً وإن يكن بدرجات متفاوتة وبتفاوت أكبر في الاستعداد والتصدّي له.

والعبرة الأولى التي يجب أن يتعلمها الإنسان من هذه الكارثة الكونية هي أننا جميعاً مؤتمنون على سلامة هذا الكون وأن البشرية في قارب واحد وأن ما يؤذي أهلنا في الصين سيلحق الأذى بنا عاجلاً أو آجلاً، ولذلك علينا أن نعمل وفق الآية الكريمة «وتعاونوا على البرّ والتقوى ولا تعاونوا على الإثم والعدوان». ولكنّ القوى التي تعتبر نفسها فوق كلّ قانون وفوق الجنس البشري بدرجة، مع أنها منه، مازالت سائرة في الطريق الذي أوصل الجميع إلى هذه الحال التي لا يحسد عليها أحد، وما زالت تتبنى العقوبات والحظر والإرهاب والحرب والمنع والترهيب أسلوباً للتعامل مع الدول والمجتمعات البشرية خارج إطار حدودها ولم تفهم إلى حدّ الآن أن ارتدادات عقوباتها تصل إليها بطريقة أو بأخرى.
وعلى سبيل المثال لا الحصر فقد استخدمت هذه الدول على مدى سنوات الإعلام المضلّل لتشويه صور الآخرين وإرسال أنباء مزيفة عمّا يجري على أرضهم وإقناع العالم أن هؤلاء يستحقون القدر الذي حلّ بهم والعقوبات التي تفرضها القوى الغربية أو المنظمات الدولية المؤتمرة بأمر هذه القوى أصلاً. واليوم وفي محاولة التصدي لفايروس كورونا نجد أن هذه الدول الغربية ذاتها وحكامها هم ضحايا إعلامهم المضلّل، الذي أضلّ بهم الطريق حتى عن قدراتهم وإمكاناتهم لمواجهة مثل هذه الكارثة التي تنتشر أذرعها الأخطبوطية إلى الجميع اليوم؛ ففي الوقت الذي كان يعتقد معظم الناس في هذه الدول وربما حكامها أيضاً وفي الدول التي مازالت تدور في فلكها بأنها تمتلك نظاماً ومؤسسات صحية وأساليب عمل قادرة على مواجهة أي خطر يعترض أسلوب حياتها، فوجئ الجميع بأن هذا التصوّر هو نوع من الوهم الذي لا يحاكيه الواقع أبداً وأن المؤسسات الصحية والقدرات الاحتياطية الموجودة لديها لمواجهة كارثة ما هي إلا قدرات ضعيفة ولا يمكن لها مواجهة هذه الكارثة التي تحلّ بالبلاد.

وفي الوقت الذي كان هذا الإعلام ذاته يبثّ الشعور بالتفوّق على الشرق والعالم برمّته اضطر بعد أن عايش أداء الصين المتميّز في التصدّي لهذا الوباء أن يعترف أن الصين مثال يحتذى وأن خير ما يمكن أن يقوم به أي بلد هو أن يستفيد من تجربة الصين في مواجهة هذا الوباء، ولحسن الحظ فإنّ الصين تصرفت بكِبَر وبدأت بإرسال مساعداتها وعرض الإفادة من خبرتها وأسلوب معالجتها لكل الراغبين في الاستفادة منها.

ولكنّ الغريب في الأمر هو أنه وبالرغم من أن العبرة من هذه الكارثة البشرية واضحة للعيان فإن الولايات المتحدة مازالت منشغلة بفرض عقوبات على إيران وروسيا وسورية، ومازال معاون وزير خارجيتها يستقبل الرأس المدبّر لإرهابيي الخوذ البيضاء، ومازال مسؤولوها يتحدثون بلغة تجافي الأدب والمنطق والواقع أيضاً عن «الفيروس الصيني» إمعاناً منهم في محاولة تشويه صورة الصين التي برهنت للعالم برمته أن أنظمتها التقنية والسياسية والتنظيمية وأخلاقها المجتمعية جديرة بالفعل لأن تكون أنموذجاً للعالم برمته. فقد دعت الصين إلى رفع العقوبات عن إيران من أجل مساعدتها لمكافحة فايروس كورونا وهذا أول درس يجب أن يكون قد توصل إليه الجميع من هذه الكارثة. وهذا هو الدرس المنطقي والإنساني والمعقول لمصلحة البشرية إذا كنا نؤمن فعلاً، أو توصلنا إلى الإيمان، بأن البشرية في قارب واحد وأن ما يصيب البعض يصيب الكل في النهاية.

في هذه الحال كما في أحوال شتّى وعلى مدى عقود برهنت النخب الرأسمالية الحاكمة في الغرب أنها تصمُّ آذانها وتغمض عينيها عن واقع وصل إلى عقر دارها، وعن ناقوس خطر يكاد صوته يصمّ سمع البشرية وذلك في محاولة ومكابرة منها لتبقي هيمنتها على العالم رغم ترهل أدوات قيادتها ورغم ظهور قيادات أكثر قدرة وحكمة على قيادة السفينة البشرية التي ننتمي لها جميعاً. ولكنّ هذه المكابرة، التي يعتبر الإعلام المضلّل أحد أهم أدواتها، لن تجدي نفعاً أبداً بعد اليوم ولا حتى على المدى القصير لأنّ الضرر وصل إلى الجميع ولابدّ لهم من مواجهته وبعد ذلك التعّرف إلى أسبابه ومحاولة معالجتها. مازالت الدول الغربية في سباق من أجل مصادر الثروة وطباعة الدولار والسيطرة الكاملة على منابع النفط في العالم ولا تريد أن ترى أن مقوّمات القوة لا تعتمد على الثروة المادية وحدها بل تعتمد على العلم والمعرفة والأخلاق أيضاً؛ «وإنما الأمم الأخلاق ما بقيت، فإن هم ذهبت أخلاقهم ذهبوا». وهذا ليس شعاراً وليس ترفاً وإنما حقيقة واقعة نلمسها عبر التاريخ.

اليوم يكتشف مواطنو الدول الغربية أن الشعور بالقوة والتقدّم والحضارة لا يرتكز على حرص عميق على الإنسان بل يرتكز على الثروة المادية فقط التي تمتلكها نسبة ضئيلة جداً من مواطني هذه الدول.

السؤال اليوم:

هل سيسجل التاريخ أن الحرب الكونية لمكافحة كورونا كانت أهم من الحرب العالمية الثانية في فرز القوى المؤهلة لقيادة العالم في المستقبل؟ وهل سيتمخّض العمل ضد هذا الفايروس عن قيم سياسية واجتماعية ونظم مختلفة تماماً عمّا عهدناه قبل كورونا؟ وهل سيصبح من الصعب بعد كورونا أن يلعب الإعلام المضلّل لعبته لأن الناس قد اكتشفت من خلال خطر الموت حقيقة الأمور ولا يمكن لأي قوة دعائية أن تعلّم الإنسان أكثر مما تعلمه من التهديد المباشر لحياته ووجوده؟

هل سيتذكر العالم تجربة كورونا بعد الانتهاء منها بأنها كانت الحدّ الفاصل الذي سقط بعده النظام الرأسمالي في الامتحان الأهم، وبرهن النظام الاشتراكي أنه الأجدر والأقدر على قيادة البشر لما فيه خيرهم وصحتهم وأمنهم وأمانهم؟ لا شك أن الإمبراطوريات لا تسقط بين عشية وضحاها وأنها تستغرق وقتاً ولكنّ هذا المفصل في مواجهة هذه المعضلة الصحية يبدو لي مفصلاً دقيقاً ومهماً جداً في تاريخ النظم السياسية وتقييمها وقدرتها على البقاء والمنافسة، وهل هذا يعني أن العالم سيشهد بعد كورونا تغييراً جذرياً في النظم والشرعة الدولية التي نظمت العلاقات بين الدول منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية وحتى اليوم؟

لقد شهد العقد المنصرم الذي نعيش عامه الأخير هذا العام استهتاراً متزايداً من الغرب بالشرعية الدولية وحقوق الإنسان وسيادة الدول، وشهد تجبّراً من الدولة الأقوى عسكرياً، وتدخّلاً من هذه الدولة وحلفائها وعملائها في الشؤون الداخلية للبلدان المستقلة، وطمساً للهويات وحقوق السكان الأصليين لا يمكن وصفه إلا بشريعة الغاب، كما شهد انتهاكاً للبيئة والمناخ والجغرافيا والتاريخ وكلّ ما منحنا الله إياه على هذه الأرض من ثروات طبيعية وتبدّل جميل في الفصول واختلاف في البيئة والجغرافية ما سبب احتباساً حرارياً وفيضانات وجفافاً وكوارث طبيعية لم يشهدها الإنسان من قبل. واليوم علّ هذه الكارثة التي حلّت بالبشرية من خلال فيروس لا يمكن رؤيته بالعين المجرّدة ويشكّل هذا التهديد الخطير للحياة البشرية برمتها؛ علّ هذه الكارثة تدفع البعض إلى التواضع وتخفّف من عوامل تجبّرهم واستكبارهم وجبروتهم على حيوات ومقدرات الآخرين، وعلّها أيضاً تدفع الإنسان للعودة إلى الأصول والاهتمام بالأرض والبيئة والمناخ والحضارة والتاريخ وإعادة الاعتبار للقيم الإيجابية المتوارثة من الآباء والأجداد والمبادئ الدينية الداعية إلى المحبة والسلام بعيداً عن العنصرية والاستكبار.

علّ هذا الفايروس يذكّر البعض بوهن الإنسان وضعفه أمام خطر من فايروس لا يُرى بالعين المجردة ويدفع هذا الإنسان إلى التخلّي عن سياسة العقوبات والاستهداف النابعة من التجبّر والاستكبار والعودة إلى التواضع والتفاهم والتصرّف كأعضاء في أسرة إنسانية واحدة والتي هي في الواقع جسد واحد إذا أصيب منه عضو تداعت له سائر الأعضاء بالحمّى والسهر.

   ( الاثنين 2020/03/23 SyriaNow) 

UAE CROWN PRINCE DISCUSSES COVID-19 PANDEMIC WITH SYRIA’S ASSAD

UAE Crown Prince Discusses COVID-19 Pandemic With Syria’s Assad

South Front

Late on March 27, UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed discussed the coronavirus pandemic with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a rare phone call.

President Bashar al-Assad and Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Source: the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)

The two leaders discussed the precautionary measures taken in their countries to face the pandemic, according to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“I discussed with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad updates on COVID-19. I assured him of the support of the UAE and its willingness to help the Syrian people. Humanitarian solidarity during trying times supersedes all matters, and Syria and her people will not stand alone,” Bin Zayed wrote on Twitter.

The call is the first between the two leaders since the outbreak of the Syrian war. The UAE suspended its relations with Syria in 2012 just like most Arab countries.

Work to restore relations between Syrian and the UAE began more than a year ago, when Abu Dhabi reopened its embassy in Damascus.

The UAE has registered 405 COVID-19 cases, including two fatalities, thus far. In Syria, only five cases of infection with the novel virus were documented.

Despite being one of the busiest transportation hubs in the Middle East, the UAE has been containing the pandemic with much success. The country’s experience and vast resources will for sure be of help for Syria, that is struggling due to crippling sanctions by the U.S. and EU.

Telephone call between President al-Assad and UAE’s Crown Prince

Created on Friday, 27 March 2020 19:40

DAMASCUS, (ST)_ A telephone call was made today between President Bashar al-Assad and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

The Crown Prince of the UAE asserted his country’s support for the people of Syria during the current exceptional circumstances. He cited that Syria will not be alone in these circumstances.

Basma Qaddour

COVID-19: PROPAGANDA AND MANIPULATION

 A

Epidemic outbreak in China

On November 17, 2019, the first case of a person infected with Covid-19 was diagnosed in Hubei Province, China. Initially, doctors tried to communicate the seriousness of the disease, but clashed with regional authorities. It was only when the number of cases increased and the population saw the seriousness of the disease that the central government intervened.

This epidemic is not statistically significant. It kills very few people, although those it does kill experience terrible respiratory distress.

Since ancient times, in Chinese culture, Heaven has given a mandate to the Emperor to govern his subjects [1]. When he withdraws it, a disaster strikes the country: epidemic, earthquake, etc. Although we are in modern times, President XI felt threatened by the mismanagement of the Hubei regional government. The Council of State therefore took matters into its own hands. It forced the population of Hubei’s capital, Wuhan, to remain confined to their homes. Within days, it built hospitals; sent teams to each house to take the temperature of each inhabitant; took all potentially infected people to hospitals for testing; treated those infected with chloroquine phosphate and sent others home; and treated the critically ill with recombinant interferon Alfa 2B (IFNrec) for resuscitation. This vast operation had no public health necessity, other than to prove that the Communist Party still has the heavenly mandate.

Propagation in Iran

The epidemic spreads from China to Iran in mid-February 2020. These two countries have been closely linked since ancient times. They share many common cultural elements. However, the Iranian population is the world’s most lung-weakest. Almost all men over the age of sixty suffer from the after-effects of the US combat gases used by the Iraqi army during the First Gulf War (1980-88), as did the Germans and the French after the First World War. Any traveller to Iran has been struck by the number of serious lung ailments. When air pollution in Tehran increased beyond what they could bear, schools and government offices were closed and half of the families moved to the countryside with their grandparents. This has been happening several times a year for thirty-five years and seems normal. The government and parliament are almost exclusively composed of veterans of the Iraq-Iran war, that is, people who are extremely fragile in relation to Covid-19. So when these groups were infected, many personalities developed the disease.

In view of the US sanctions, no Western bank covers the transport of medicines. Iran found itself unable to treat the infected and care for the sick until the UAE broke the embargo and sent two planes of medical equipment. People who would not suffer in the other country died from the first coughs due to the wounds in their lungs. As usual, the government closed schools. In addition, it deprogrammed several cultural and sporting events, but did not ban pilgrimages. Some areas have closed hotels to prevent the movement of sick people who can no longer find hospitals close to their homes.

Quarantine in Japan

On February 4, 2020, a passenger on the US cruise ship Diamond Princess was diagnosed ill from the Covid-19 and ten passengers were infected. The Japanese Minister of Health, Katsunobu Kato, then imposed a two-week quarantine on the ship in Yokohama in order to prevent the contagion from spreading to his country. In the end, out of the 3,711 people on board, the vast majority of whom are over 70 years old, there would be 7 deaths.

The Diamond Princess is an Israeli-American ship, owned by Micky Arison, brother of Shari Arison, the richest woman in Israel. The Arisons are turning this incident into a public relations operation. The Trump administration and several other countries airlifted their nationals to be quarantined at home. The international press devoted its headlines to this story. Referring to the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, it asserts that the epidemic could spread throughout the world and potentially threaten the human species with extinction [2]. This apocalyptic hypothesis, not based on any facts, will nevertheless become the word of the Gospel.

We remember that in 1898, William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, in order to increase the sales of their daily newspapers, published false information in order to deliberately provoke a war between the United States and the Spanish colony of Cuba. This was the beginning of “yellow journalism” (publishing anything to make money). Today it is called “fake news”.

It is not known at this time whether tycoons deliberately spread panic about Covid-19, making this vulgar epidemic seem like the “end of the world”. However, one distortion after another, governments have become involved. Of course, it is no longer a question of selling advertising screens by frightening people, but of dominating populations by exploiting this fear.

WHO intervention

The World Health Organization (WHO), which monitored the entire operation, noted the spread of the disease outside China. On February 11th and 12th, it organized a global forum on research and innovation on the epidemic in Geneva. At the forum, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called in very measured terms for global collaboration [3].

In all of its messages, the WHO stressed : the low demographic impact of the epidemic; the futility of border closures; the ineffectiveness of wearing gloves, masks (except for health care workers) and certain “barrier measures” (for example, the distance of one metre only makes sense with infected people, but not with healthy people); the need to raise the level of hygiene, including hand washing, water disinfection and increased ventilation of confined spaces. Finally, use disposable tissues or, failing that, sneeze into your elbow.

However, the WHO is not a medical organization, but a United Nations agency dealing with health issues. Its officials, even if they are doctors, are also and above all politicians. It cannot therefore denounce the abuses of certain states. Furthermore, since the controversy over the H1N1 epidemic, the WHO must publicly justify all its recommendations. In 2009, it was accused of having let itself be swayed by the interests of big pharmaceutical companies and of having hastily sounded the alarm in a disproportionate manner [4]. This time it used the word “pandemic” only as a last resort, on March 12th, four months later.

At the Franco-Italian summit in Naples on February 27, the French and Italian presidents, Giuseppe Conte and Emmanuel Macron, announced that they would react together to the pandemic.

Instrumentation in Italy and France

Modern propaganda should not be limited to the publication of false news as the United Kingdom did to convince its people to enter the First World War, but should also be used in the same way as Germany did to convince its people to fight in the Second World War. The recipe is always the same: to exert psychological pressure to induce subjects to voluntarily practice acts that they know are useless, but which will lead them to lie [5]. For example, in 2001, it was common knowledge that those accused of hijacking planes on 9/11 were not on the passenger boarding lists. Yet, in shock, most accepted without question the inane accusations made by FBI Director Robert Muller against “19 hijackers”. Or, as is well known, President Hussein’s Iraq had only old Soviet Scud launchers with a range of up to 700 kilometers, but many Americans caulked the windows and doors of their homes to protect themselves from the deadly gases with which the evil dictator was going to attack America. This time, in the case of the Covid-19, it is the voluntary confinement in the home that forces the person who accepts it to convince himself of the veracity of the threat.

Let us remember that never in history has the confinement of a healthy population been used to fight a disease. Above all, let us remember that this epidemic will have no significant consequences in terms of mortality.

In Italy, the first step was to isolate the contaminated regions according to the principle of quarantine, and then to isolate all citizens from each other, which follows a different logic.

According to the President of the Italian Council, Giuseppe Conte, and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, the aim of confining the entire population at home is not to overcome the epidemic, but to spread it out over time so that the sick do not arrive at the same time in hospitals and saturate them. In other words, it is not a medical measure, but an exclusively administrative one. It will not reduce the number of infected people, but will postpone it in time.

In order to convince the Italians and the French of the merits of their decision, Presidents Conte and Macron first enlisted the support of committees of scientific experts. While these committees had no objection to people staying at home, they had no objection to people going about their business. Then Chairs Conte and Macron made it mandatory to have an official form to go for a walk. This document on the letterheads of the respective ministries of the interior is drawn up on honour and is not subject to any checks or sanctions.

The two governments panic their populations by distributing unnecessary instructions disavowed by infectious diseases doctors: they encourage people to wear gloves and masks in all circumstances and to keep at least one metre away from any other human being.

Video from February 25, 2020 censored by the French Ministry of Health

The French “reference daily” (sic) Le Monde, Facebook France and the French Ministry of Health undertook to censor a video of Professor Didier Raoult, one of the world’s most renowned infectiologists, because by announcing the existence of a proven drug in China against Covid-19, he highlighted the lack of a medical basis for the measures taken by President Macron [6].

Presentation by Professor Didier Raoult to the General Assembly of the University Hospitals of Marseille, March 16, 2020.

It is too early to say what real goal the Conte and Macron governments are pursuing. The only thing that is certain is that it is not a question of fighting Covid-19.

Notes:

[1The Mandate of Heaven and The Great Ming Code, Jiang Yonglin, University of Washington Press (2011).

[2Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary, Christos Lynteris, Routledge (2020).

[3] «Nouveau coronavirus : solidarité, collaboration et mesures d’urgence au niveau mondial s’imposent», Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Organisation mondiale de la Santé, 11 février 2020.

[4Pandemics, Science and Policy. H1N1 and the World Health Organization, Sudeepa Abeysinghe, Plagrave Macmillan (2015).

[5] “The techniques of modern military propaganda”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 18 May 2016.

[6] «“La chloroquine guérit le Covid-19” : Didier Raoult, l’infectiologue qui aurait le remède au coronavirus», Étienne Campion, Marianne, 19 mars 2020.


By Thierry Meyssan
Source: Voltaire Network

A Lesson Coronavirus Is About to Teach the World

By Jonathan Cook

Global Research, March 19, 2020

If a disease can teach wisdom beyond our understanding of how precarious and precious life is, the coronavirus has offered two lessons.

The first is that in a globalised world our lives are so intertwined that the idea of viewing ourselves as islands – whether as individuals, communities, nations, or a uniquely privileged species – should be understood as evidence of false consciousness. In truth, we were always bound together, part of a miraculous web of life on our planet and, beyond it, stardust in an unfathomably large and complex universe. 

It is only an arrogance cultivated in us by those narcissists who have risen to power through their own destructive egotism that blinded us to the necessary mix of humility and awe we ought to feel as we watch a drop of rain on a leaf, or a baby struggle to crawl, or the night sky revealed in all its myriad glories away from city lights.

And now, as we start to enter periods of quarantine and self-isolation – as nations, communities and individuals – all that should be so much clearer. It has taken a virus to show us that only together are we at our strongest, most alive and most human.

In being stripped of what we need most by the threat of contagion, we are reminded of how much we have taken community for granted, abused it, hollowed it out. We are afraid because the services we need in times of collective difficulty and trauma have been turned into commodities that require payment, or treated as privileges to which access is now means-tested, rationed or is simply gone. That insecurity is at the root of the current urge to hoard.

When death stalks us it is not bankers we turn to, or corporate executives, or hedge fund managers. Nonetheless, those are the people our societies have best rewarded. They are the people who, if salaries are a measure of value, are the most prized.

But they are not the people we need, as individuals, as societies, as nations. Rather, it will be doctors, nurses, public health workers, care-givers and social workers who will be battling to save lives by risking their own.

During this health crisis we may indeed notice who and what is most important. But will we remember the sacrifice, their value after the virus is no longer headline news? Or will we go back to business as usual – until the next crisis – rewarding the arms manufacturers, the billionaire owners of the media, the fossil fuel company bosses, and the financial-services parasites feeding off other people’s money? 

‘Take it on the chin’ 

The second lesson follows from the first. Despite everything we have been told for four decades or more, western capitalist societies are far from the most efficient ways of organising ourselves. That will be laid bare as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

We are still very much immersed in the ideological universe of Thatcherism and Reaganism, when we were told quite literally: “There is no such thing as society.” How will that political mantra stand the test of the coming weeks and months? How much can we survive as individuals, even in quarantine, rather than as part of communities that care for all of us?Western leaders who champion neoliberalism, as they are required to do nowadays, have two choices to cope with coronavirus – and both will require a great deal of misdirection if we are not to see through their hypocrisy and deceptions.

Our leaders can let us “take it on the chin”, as the British prime minister Boris Johnson has phrased it. In practice, that will mean allowing what is effectively a cull of many of the poor and elderly – one that will relieve governments of the financial burden of underfunded pension schemes and welfare payments.

Such leaders will claim they are powerless to intervene or to ameliorate the crisis. Confronted with the contradictions inherent in their worldview, they will suddenly become fatalists, abandoning their belief in the efficacy and righteousness of the free market. They will say the virus was too contagious to contain, too robust for health services to cope, too lethal to save lives. They will evade all blame for the decades of health cuts and privatisations that made those services inefficient, inadequate, cumbersome and inflexible.

Or, by contrast, politicians will use their spin doctors and allies in the corporate media to obscure the fact that they are quietly and temporarily becoming socialists to deal with the emergency. They will change the welfare rules so that all those in the gig economy they created – employed on zero-hours contracts – do not spread the virus because they cannot afford to self-quarantine or take days’ off sick.

Or most likely our leaders will pursue both options.

Permanent crisis 

If acknowledged at all, the conclusion to be draw from the crisis – that we all matter equally, that we need to look after one another, that we sink or swim together – will be treated as no more than an isolated, fleeting lesson specific to this crisis. Our leaders will refuse to draw more general lessons – ones that might highlight their own culpability – about how sane, humane societies should function all the time. 

In fact, there is nothing unique about the coronavirus crisis. It is simply a heightened version of the less visible crisis we are now permanently mired in. As Britain sinks under floods each winter, as Australia burns each summer, as the southern states of the US are wrecked by hurricanes and its great plains become dustbowls, as the climate emergency becomes ever more tangible, we will learn this truth slowly and painfully. 

Those deeply invested in the current system – and those so brainwashed they cannot see its flaws – will defend it to the bitter end. They will learn nothing from the virus. They will point to authoritarian states and warn that things could be far worse. 

They will point a finger at Iran’s high death toll as confirmation that our profit-driven societies are better, while ignoring the terrible damage we have inflicted on Iran’s health services after years of sabotaging its economy through ferocious sanctions. We left Iran all the more vulnerable to coronavirus  because we wanted to engineer “regime change” – to interfere under the pretence of “humanitarian” concern – as we have sought to do in other countries whose resources we wished to control, from Iraq to Syria and Libya.

Iran will be held responsible for a crisis we willed, that our politicians intended (even if the speed and means came as a surprise), to overthrow its leaders. Iran’s failures will be cited as proof of our superior way of life, as we wail self-righteously about the outrage of a “Russian interference” whose contours we can barely articulate. 

Valuing the common good 

Those who defend our system, even as its internal logic collapses in the face of coronavirus and a climate emergency, will tell us how lucky we are to live in free societies where some – Amazon executives, home delivery services, pharmacies, toilet-paper manufacturers – can still make a quick buck from our panic and fear. As long as someone is exploiting us, as long as someone is growing fat and rich, we will be told the system works – and works better than anything else imaginable. 

But in fact, late-stage capitalist societies like the US and the UK will struggle to claim even the limited successes against coronavirus of authoritarian governments. Is Trump in the US or Johnson in the UK – exemplars of “the market knows best” capitalism – likely to do better than China at containing and dealing with the virus?

This lesson is not about authoritarian versus “free” societies. This is about societies that treasure the common wealth, that value the common good, above private greed and profit, above protecting the privileges of a wealth-elite.

In 2008, after decades of giving the banks what they wanted – free rein to make money by trading in hot air – the western economies all but imploded as an inflated bubble of empty liquidity burst. The banks and financial services were saved only by public bail-outs – tax payers’ money. We were given no choice: the banks, we were told, were “too big to fail”.We bought the banks with our common wealth. But because private wealth is our era’s guiding star, the public were not allowed to own the banks they bought. And once the banks had been bailed out by us – a perverse socialism for the rich – the banks went right back to making private money, enriching a tiny elite until the next crash.

Nowhere to fly to 

The naive may think this was a one-off. But the failings of capitalism are inherent and structural, as the virus is already demonstrating and the climate emergency will drive home with alarming ferocity in the coming years.

The shut-down of borders means the airlines are quickly going bust. They didn’t put money away for a rainy day, of course. They didn’t save, they weren’t prudent. They are in a cut-throat world where they need to compete with rivals, to drive them out of business and make as much money as they can for shareholders.

Now there is nowhere for the airlines to fly to – and they will have no visible means to make money for months on end. Like the banks, they are too big to fail – and like the banks they are demanding public money be spent to tide them over until they can once again rapaciously make profits for their shareholders. There will be many other corporations queuing up behind the airlines. 




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Sooner or later the public will be strong-armed once again to bail out these profit-driven corporations whose only efficiency is the central part they play in fuelling global warming and eradicating life on the planet. The airlines will be resuscitated until the inevitable next crisis arrives – one in which they are key players.

A boot stamping on a face

Capitalism is an efficient system for a tiny elite to make money at a terrible cost, and an increasingly untenable one, to wider society – and only until that system shows itself to be no longer efficient. Then wider society has to pick up the tab, and assist the wealth-elite so the cycle can be begun all over again. Like a boot stamping on a human face – forever, as George Orwell warned long ago.

But it is not just that capitalism is economically self-destructive; it is morally vacant too. Again, we should study the exemplars of neoliberal orthodoxy: the UK and the US.

In Britain, the National Health Service – once the envy of the world – is in terminal decline after decades of privatising and outsourcing its services. Now the same Conservative party that began the cannibalising of the NHS is pleading with businesses such as car makers to address a severe shortage of ventilators, which will soon be needed to assist coronavirus patients.

Once, in an emergency, western governments would have been able to direct resources, both public and private, to save lives. Factories could have been repurposed for the common good. Today, the government behaves as if all it can do is incentivise business, pinning hopes on the profit motive and selfishness driving these firms to enter the ventilator market, or to provide beds, in ways beneficial to public health.

The flaws in this approach should be glaring if we examine how a car manufacturer might respond to the request to adapt its factories to make ventilators.

If it is not persuaded that it can make easy money or if it thinks there are quicker or bigger profits to be made by continuing to make cars at a time when the public is frightened to use public transport, patients will die. If it holds back, waiting to see if there will be enough demand for ventilators to justify adapting its factories, patients will die. If it delays in the hope that ventilator shortages will drive up subsidies from a government fearful of the public backlash, patients will die. And if it makes ventilators on the cheap, to boost profits, without ensuring medical personnel oversee quality control, patients will die.

Survival rates will depend not on the common good, on our rallying to help those in need, on planning for the best outcome, but on the vagaries of the market. And not only on the market, but on faulty, human perceptions of what constitute market forces.

Survival of the fittest 

If this were not bad enough, Trump – in all his inflated vanity – is showing how that profit-motive can be extended from the business world he knows so intimately to the cynical political one he has been gradually mastering. According to reports, behind the scenes he has been chasing after a silver bullet. He is speaking to international pharmaceutical companies to find one close to developing a vaccine so the United States can buy exclusive rights to it.

Reports suggest that he wants to offer the vaccine exclusively to the US public, in what would amount to the ultimate vote-winner in a re-election year. This would be the nadir of the dog-eat-dog philosophy – the survival of the fittest, the market decides worldview – we have been encouraged to worship over the past four decades. It is how people behave when they are denied a wider society to which they are responsible and which is responsible for them.




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But even should Trump eventually deign to let other countries enjoy the benefits of his privatised vaccine, this will not be about helping mankind, about the greater good. It will be about Trump the businessman-president turning a tidy profit for the US on the back of other’s desperation and suffering, as well as marketing himself a political hero on the global stage.

Or, more likely, it will be yet another chance for the US to demonstrate its “humanitarian” credentials, rewarding “good” countries by giving them access to the vaccine, while denying “bad” countries like Russia the right to protect their citizens.

Obscenely stunted worldviewIt will be a perfect illustration on the global stage – and in bold technicolour – of how the American way of marketing health works. This is what happens when health is treated not as a public good but as a commodity to be bought, as a privilege to incentivise the workforce, as a measure of who is successful and who is unsuccessful.

The US, by far the richest country on the planet, has a dysfunctional health care system not because it cannot afford a good one, but because its political worldview is so obscenely stunted by the worship of wealth that it refuses to acknowledge the communal good, to respect the common wealth of a healthy society.

The US health system is by far the most expensive in the world, but also the most inefficient. The vast bulk of “health spending” does not contribute to healing the sick but enriches a health industry of pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance companies.

Analysts describe a third of all US health spending – $765 billion a year – as “wasted”. But “waste” is a euphemism. In fact, it is money stuffed into the pockets of corporations calling themselves the health industry as they defraud the common wealth of US citizens. And the fraudulence is all the greater because despite this enormous expenditure more than one in 10 US citizens has no meaningful health cover.

As never before, coronavirus will bring into focus the depraved inefficiency of this system – the model of profit-driven health care, of market forces that look out for the short-term interests of business, not the long-term interests of us all.

There are alternatives. Right now, Americans are being offered a choice between a democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, who champions health care as a right because it is a common good, and a Democratic party boss, Joe Biden, who champions the business lobbies he depends on for funding and his political success. One is being marginalised and vilified as a threat to the American way of life by a handful of corporations that own the US media, while the other is being propelled towards the Democratic nomination by those same corporations.

Coronavirus has an important, urgent lesson to teach us. The question is: are we ready yet to listen?

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This essay first appeared on the author’s blog site, Jonathan Cook’s blog.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Health.milThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Jonathan Cook, Global Research, 2020

Anger in Germany at Report Trump Seeking Exclusive Coronavirus Vaccine Deal

Anger in Germany at Report Trump Seeking Exclusive Coronavirus Vaccine Deal

By Staff, Agencies

German ministers have reacted angrily following reports US President Donald Trump offered a German medical company “large sums of money” for exclusive rights to a Covid-19 vaccine.

“Germany is not for sale,” economy minister Peter Altmaier told broadcaster ARD, reacting to a front page report in Welt am Sonntag newspaper headlined “Trump vs Berlin”.

The newspaper reported Trump offered $1bn to Tübingen-based biopharmaceutical company CureVac to secure the vaccine “only for the United States”.

The German government was reportedly offering its own financial incentives for the vaccine to stay in the country.

The report prompted fury in Berlin. “German researchers are taking a leading role in developing medication and vaccines as part of global cooperation networks,” foreign minister Heiko Maas told the Funke Mediengruppe research network. “We cannot allow a situation where others want to exclusively acquire the results of their research,” said Maas, of the center-left SPD.

“International co-operation is important now, not national self-interest,” said Erwin Ruddel, a conservative lawmaker on the German parliament’s health committee.

Christian Lindner, leader of the liberal FDP party, accused Trump of electioneering, saying: “Obviously Trump will use any means available in an election campaign.”

The German health minister, Jens Spahn, said a takeover of CureVac by the Trump administration was “off the table”. CureVac would only develop vaccine “for the whole world”, Spahn said, “not for individual countries”.

Worldwide infections have grown to more than more than 86,000, according to the Johns Hopkins university tracker, while cases inside China stood at 80,860 as of Monday. Deaths outside China have risen to more than 3,241, while deaths in mainland China stand at 3,208 as of Monday.

At a news conference on Sunday, interior minister Horst Seehofer was asked to confirm the attempts to court the German company. “I can only say that I have heard several times today from government officials today that this is the case, and we will be discussing it in the crisis committee tomorrow,” he said.

A US official told AFP on Sunday that the report was “wildly overplayed”. “The US government has spoken with many [more than 25] companies that claim they can help with a vaccine. Most of these companies already received seed funding from US investors.”

The official also denied the US was seeking to keep any potential vaccine for itself. “We will continue to talk to any company that claims to be able to help. And any solution found would be shared with the world,” the official said.

CureVac, founded in 2000, is based in the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, and has other sites in Frankfurt and Boston.

The firm markets itself as specializing in “development of treatments against cancer, antibody-based therapies, treatment of rare illnesses and prophylactic vaccines”.

The lab is working in tandem with the Paul-Ehrlich Institute, linked to the German health ministry.

Last week, the firm mysteriously announced that CureVac CEO Daniel Menichella had been replaced by Ingmar Hoerr, just weeks after Menichella met Trump, his vice-president Mike Pence and representatives of pharma companies in Washington.

CureVac quoted Menichella on its website as saying shortly after the visit: “We are very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months.”

On Sunday, CureVac investors said they would not sell the vaccine to a single state.

“If we are successful in developing an effective vaccine, then it should help and protect people across the world,” said Dietmar Hopp, head of principle investor dievini Hopp BioTech holding, in a statement.

Altmaier welcomed the statement, saying it was a “fantastic decision”.

He also pointed out the government had the power to scrutinise foreign takeovers, saying: “Where important infrastructure and national and European interests are concerned, we will take action if we have to.”

Looking at the Military Aspects of Biological Warfare

THE SAKER • MARCH 14, 2020

The 20th century has seen a seemingly countless number of military conflicts, ranging from small local clashes, to at least two world wars. The same 20th century saw a huge efforts by major powers to develop three types of so-called “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD): Atomic, Bacteriological and Chemical (ABC). All of these WMD were initially seen as very effective and very frightening, yet there were only used in a few, limited occasions.

Ask yourself, why is that?

The reason is simple: while the US could nuke Japanese cities with impunity in 1945, and while the Anglo powers developed at least THREE plans to wage a total war against the Soviet Union (details in this article), they never dared to implement them.

Again, ask yourself, why is that?

I am a total medical ignoramus, and I have nothing to say about the nature of SARS-CoV-2, I am a military analyst and one of my two areas of specialization (besides planning nuclear forces) was operational art, that is the level of military operations above tactical, but under strategic: you can think of it as what connects the tactical means to the strategic goals. You can also think of it as the level at which combined arms (above division level) formations are brought together in something similar to an army corps. This is exactly the level at which the used of WMD would be the most likely to happen. Yet, if you look at the typical Soviet/Russian or US manuals discussing operational art you will notice that it is always assumed that the other side will initiate the use of WMD (even in secret documents).

Again, ask yourself, why is that? Is it only a type of political correctness showing that “we are the good guys” and “they are truly evil”? To some degree, yes, but not only.

I submit that all three cases have the same explanation: WMD are very tricky to use, and when used, they can result in absolutely truly cataclysmic political consequences. Take for example the (completely fake) reports about the Syrian government using chemical weapons against the Takfiris: they made no sense to any military analyst simply because 1) they brought no advantage to Damascus and 2) everybody knew that as soon as this latest “new Hitler” would be accused of using chemical munitions, the Empire would seize this pretext to strike at Syria.

True, the Takfiris *DID* develop chemical weapons, apparently, they did try to use them here and there, with no special result to show for, and recently they seem to have poisoned themselves (according to Russian reports). Besides, the very real stocks of Takfiri bioweapons were used as proof of Syrian government attacks (how insanely stupid is that?). So for these Takfiri nutcases, there are no real political consequences. As for their public image, following many hours of video-taped atrocities, you can be sure that they don’t care one bit what the “kafirs” and other “crusaders” think…

Same deal for Saddam Hussein who, aided by the “international community” (mostly the Empire, the USSR and France), did use chemicals against his own population and against Iran, but since he was “our son of a bitch” he was under ZERO risk of retaliation. But when the Empire turned on him, he did not dare to use his WMD against anybody.

Why?

Because the US-led forces would not be stopped by a chemical attack. And because any such attack would give the US and the rest of the anti-Iraqi coalition a “license” to use whatever weapon or technology against Iraq they wanted, including tactical nukes.

The truth is that there are very few military scenarios in which the use of WMD makes sense, this is true for all three of them, but this is especially true for biowarfare which is the hardest of them to control.

Here I have to, again, remind everybody that war is never an end by itself, but only a means towards an end, and that end is always POLITICAL. Going in just to kill people and even bombing a country back to the stone age does NOT qualify as a political goal. If you prefer, the political goal is what ought to be defined as “victory”. So, again, “destroying all enemy ships” or “pulling off a decapitating anti-leadership strike” are NOT political goals.

There are several countries out there which are capable of developing bioweapons. In fact, most biolabs could manufacture a simple bioweapon using commonly found agents. But labs don’t get to decide to engage such weapons. That decision is clearly one which can only be taken at the national command center level and only following a compelling argument by military and scientific specialists. Finally, no responsible government would ever order the use of WMD if it felt that there is a risk of retaliation, both military or political.

Finally, in the case of SARS-CoV-2 and of all the other epidemics/pandemics we see situation where the infection is not confined to the original infection site but goes global.

As far as I know, and please correct me if I am wrong, but I know if no virus which has been successfully deployed against a specific target and then remained contained to that target. In other words, the risk of “collateral damage” from bioweapons is pretty close to infinite (at least potentially).

Yes, in theory, a country could develop a new virus, or weaponize an known one, and then develop a vaccine and then vaccinate its armed forces or even its entire population. But that would amount to placing a huge sign on the White House saying “Yes, we done it!”: political suicide.

Now, the VAST majority of comments here have focused on the possible medical aspects of this pandemic, which is fine and which I have nothing to contribute to. But I ask you now to look at the MILITARY and, therefore, POLITICAL, dimensions of this crisis and ask yourself cui bono?

Seems to me that China and Russia did very, very well. The crisis is pretty much under control in China, and in Russia it is both limited and confined. The fact that neither the Chinese nor the Russians have any delusions about the “private sector” and the fact that these societies perfectly understand that a powerful government is needed to respond to this type (and many other) types of crisis helped them. No such luck for the deluded United States which has less than 950’000 hospital beds in the entire country and whose president seems to believe that Walmart and Amazon can deliver respirators to those in need.

In fact, the USA is a country which can LEAST afford a real pandemic, so why would the US leaders decide to unleash a weapon against comparatively MUCH better prepared countries while itself is one of the most vulnerable on the planet?

How about the fact that the situation in Europe looks absolutely awful? Yes, I know, the Idiot-in-Chief did not even bother to consult with the USA’s so-called “allies” before declaring his (confused) 30 day ban on travel between the US and the EU. But it is one thing to have no manners and not understand diplomacy, it is quite another to be the party responsible for tens of thousands, possibly even millions, of dead amongst your so-called “allies”.

So it boils down to this: do we believe that the real leaders of the AngloZionist Empire (not the clowns in the White House, obviously) insane enough to still try to pull off such an operation?

Frankly, I will not say “no”. I will admit that this is possible.

But, as I like to remind everybody, possible is NOT the same as “likely” and it dramatically different from “established”.

In conclusion:

  1. So far, all we have are speculations and guesses.
  2. We also know that irrespective of how “good”/”bad”/effective the SARS-CoV-2 virus is, using ANY WMD is fantastically dangerous both politically and militarily.
  3. And we know of no modern cases of a successful and limited viral bioweapon attack (bacteria and spores are rather different from that point of view)

Now this is my request to all the commentators:

Since we have discussed the biomedical aspects of SARS-CoV-2 ad nauseam, let’s stop for a while and let’s now ONLY discuss the political and military implications of a deliberate use of SARS-CoV-2 against China (or any other country).

There are two more things I would like to share with you.

First, I looked at the tweet of the Chinese official who declared that the SARS-CoV-2 might have come from the USA. I believe it is this one:

First, I looked at the tweet of the Chinese official who declared that the SARS-CoV-2 might have come from the USA. I believe it is this one:

It refers to this GlobalResearch article: https://www.globalresearch.ca/china-coronavirus-shocking-update/5705196 . In turn, the GlobalResarch article references a GlobalTimes article: https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1180429.shtml . This latest article refers to the website ChinaXiv http://chinaxiv.org/home.htm (I think!). So what we have is a Chinese official, referencing a Canadian outlet, which references a Chinese source which itself bases its reports from a website clearly close to the Chinese government.

Now, unlike most folks in the West, I trust the Chinese government infinitely more than ANY western regime, but even I can see that once the China-bashing campaign swung to a totally new level once the SARS-CoV-2 panic began, the Chinese had a major political interest to point a finger right back at the USA.

In fact, I would argue that NO government out there wants to be blamed for this latest disaster and that the finger pointing is not going to stop, especially if a US politician dies from respiratory complications.

The other thing which will inevitably grow is panic. So far, relatively few people in the West have died, but most specialists agree that this crisis is far from over, especially not in the EU and USA where the epidemic it is still on the ascent. Right now, the general public in the West reminds me of a guy falling from a skyscraper and who, passing the 10th floor, thinks “so far, so good”. Friends, it *WILL* get worse, even if only 1 or 2 percent of the infected people die. I loathe both Merkel and Jonhson, but compared to the flag-waving “best Idiot-in-Chief in the galaxy”, they come across as almost honest politicians (at least and only in this case).

Finally, I want to post an extremely interesting interview by the Russian version of RT of the Academician and Chief Senior Pulmonologist of Russia, Aleksandr Chuchalin. This interview is EXTREMELY interesting and contains a wealth of important statements which, considering who is making them, I would be willing to take to the bank. One problem, this interview is only in Russian:

And here is my special request to all Russian speakersif you can, could you please either 1) find the interview in English, maybe just a transcript or, if not, could you please translate as much of that interview as possible and post your translation in the comments section (or send it to me for posting)? If you cannot translate it all, at least post a summary of the most interesting points?

I wish I could do it myself, but I am really exhausted and, besides, there is a lot of medical terminology I don’t really understand. My wife does, but she is also exhausted. This is why I ask for your help (ребята – если честно, то просто сил нет, помогите если можете!).

That’s it for me for today.

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