The Bigger Picture Is Hiding Behind a Virus

By Jonathan Cook

Source

Things often look the way they do because someone claiming authority tells us they look that way. If that sounds too cynical, pause for a moment and reflect on what seemed most important to you just a year ago, or even a few weeks ago. 

Then, you may have been thinking that Russian interference in western politics was a vitally important issue, and something that we needed to invest much of our emotional and political energy in countering. Or maybe a few weeks ago you felt that everything would be fine if we could just get Donald Trump out of the White House. Or maybe you imagined that Brexit was the panacea to Britain’s problems – or, conversely, that it would bring about the UK’s downfall.

Still feel that way?

After all, much as we might want to (and doubtless some will try), we can’t really blame Vladimir Putin, or Russian troll farms spending a few thousand dollars on Facebook advertising, for the coronavirus pandemic. Much as we might want to, we can’t really blame Trump for the catastrophic condition of the privatised American health care system, totally ill-equipped and unprepared for a nationwide health emergency. And as tempting as it is for some of us, we can’t really blame Europe’s soft borders and immigrants for the rising death toll in the UK. It was the global economy and cheap travel that brought the virus into Britain, and it was the Brexit-loving prime minister Boris Johnson who dithered as the epidemic took hold.

The bigger picture

Is it possible that only a few weeks ago our priorities were just a little divorced from a bigger reality? That what appeared to be the big picture was not actually big enough? That maybe we should have been thinking about even more important, pressing matters – systemic ones like the threat of a pandemic of the very kind we are currently enduring.

Because while we were all thinking about Russiagate or Trump or Brexit, there were lots of experts – even the Pentagon, it seems – warning of just such a terrible calamity and urging that preparations be made to avoid it. We are in the current mess precisely because those warnings were ignored or given no attention – not because the science was doubted, but because there was no will to do something to avert the threat.

If we reflect, it is possible to get a sense of two things. First, that our attention rarely belongs to us; it is the plaything of others. And second, that the “real world”, as it is presented to us, rarely reflects anything we might usefully be able to label as objective reality. It is a set of political, economic and social priorities that have been manufactured for us.

Agents outside our control with their own vested interests – politicians, the media, business – construct reality, much as a film-maker designs a movie. They guide our gaze in certain directions and not others.

A critical perspective 

At a moment like this of real crisis, one that overshadows all else, we have a chance – though only a chance – to recognise this truth and develop our own critical perspective. A perspective that truly belongs to us, and not to others.

Think back to the old you, the pre-coronavirus you. Were your priorities the same as your current ones?

This is not to say that the things you prioritise now – in this crisis – are necessarily any more “yours” than the old set of priorities.

If you’re watching the TV or reading newspapers – and who isn’t – you’re probably feeling scared, either for yourself or for your loved ones. All you can think about is the coronavirus. Nothing else really seems that important by comparison. And all you can hope for is the moment when the lockdowns are over and life returns to normal.

But that’s not objectively the “real world” either. Terrible as the coronavirus is, and as right as anyone is to be afraid of the threat it poses, those “agents of authority” are again directing and controlling our gaze, though at least this time those in authority include doctors and scientists. And they are guiding our attention in ways that serve their interests – for good or bad.

Endless tallies of infections and deaths, rocketing graphs, stories of young people, along with the elderly, battling for survival serve a purpose: to make sure we stick to the lockdown, that we maintain social distancing, that we don’t get complacent and spread the disease.

Here our interests – survival, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed – coincide with those of the establishment, the “agents of authority”. We want to live and prosper, and they need to maintain order, to demonstrate their competence, to prevent dissatisfaction bubbling up into anger or open revolt.

Crowded out by detail 

But again the object of our attention is not as much ours as we may believe. While we focus on graphs, while we twitch the curtains to see if neighbours are going for a second run or whether families are out in the garden celebrating a birthday distant from an elderly parent, we are much less likely to be thinking about how well the crisis is being handled. The detail, the mundane is again crowding out the important, the big picture.

Our current fear is an enemy to our developing and maintaining a critical perspective. The more we are frightened by graphs, by deaths, the more we are likely to submit to whatever we are told will keep us safe.

Under cover of the public’s fear, and of justified concerns about the state of the economy and future employment, countries like the US are transferring huge sums of public money to the biggest corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny – and for reasons that should be self-explanatory. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down.

There are many other dramatic changes being introduced, almost too many and too rapidly for us to follow them properly. Bans on movementIntensified surveillanceCensorship. The transfer of draconian powers to the police, and preparations for the deployment of soldiers on streets. Detention without trialMartial law. Measures that might have terrified us when Trump was our main worry, or Brexit, or Russia, may now seem a price worth paying for a “return to normality”.

Paradoxically, a craving for the old-normal may mean we are prepared to submit to a new-normal that could permanently deny us any chance of returning to the old-normal.

The point is not just that things are far more provisional than most of us are ready to contemplate; it’s that our window on what we think of as “the real world”, as “normal”, is almost entirely manufactured for us.

Distracted by the virus 

Strange as this may sound right now, in the midst of our fear and suffering, the pandemic is not really the big picture either. Our attention is consumed by the virus, but it is, in a truly awful sense, a distraction too.

In a few more years, maybe sooner than we imagine, we will look back on the virus – with the benefit of distance and hindsight – and feel the same way about it we do now about Putin, or Trump, or Brexit.

It will feel part of our old selves, our old priorities, a small part of a much bigger picture, a clue to where we were heading, a portent we did not pay attention to when it mattered most.

The virus is one small warning – one among many – that we have been living out of sync with the natural world we share with other life. Our need to control and dominate, our need to acquire, our need for security, our need to conquer death – they have crowded out all else. We have followed those who promised quick, easy solutions, those who refused to compromise, those who conveyed authority, those who spread fear, those who hated.

If only we could redirect our gaze, if we could seize back control of our attention for a moment, we might understand that we are being plagued not just by a virus but by our fear, our hate, our hunger, our selfishness. The evidence is there in the fires, the floods and the disease, in the insects that have disappeared, in the polluted seas, in the stripping of the planet’s ancient lungs, its forests, in the melting ice-caps.

The big picture is hiding in plain sight, no longer obscured by issues like Russia and Brexit but now only by the most microscopic germ, marking the thin boundary between life and death.

COVID-19: The Capitalist Emperor Has No Clothes

By Alamu Baraka

Source

The systemic failure of the capitalist order triggered by the coronavirus has reinforced the growing awareness that extreme wealth inequality is a fundamental characteristic of the system.

“Billions of dollars were allocated to business while millions of people are facing an increasingly desperate situation.”

As the capitalist emperor strolls down the avenue of U.S. public opinion butt-naked but for the first time since the 1930s, more and more people are starting to realize that they were not crazy. The brutal failures of the capitalist system that they saw were not a figment of their imagination or a diversion from their own personal failures. Instead, they were the awful reality of degradation, dehumanization and social insecurity embedded in the system. Many could see that reality but wouldn’t allow themselves to believe their own eyes and experiences. They couldn’t call it out like the kid in the fable – until now.

The claim that the U.S. was an exceptional nation and that the capitalist order represented the highest expression of human development has been shattered by the second global collapse of the capitalist order within twelve years. Millions thrown out of work, global supply chains disrupted, trillions disappeared in the capitalist casino euphemistically called the stock market… The state’s feeble and class biased response to COVID-19 has resulted in a costly lesson in class politics for the U.S. public.

The dictatorship of the capitalist class has survived because the class reality of the dictatorship has been obscured. Limited democracy, social democracy, white nationalism in the form of patriotism, the corruption of unions, the post-war compromise between capital and labor, state subsidies for the expansion of the white middle-class, debt-driven consumption and cross-class white suppression of the democratic and human rights of African Americans provided the material and ideological basis for the perpetuation of the dictatorship throughout most of the 20th century and into the 21st.

“The claim that the U.S. was an exceptional nation has been shattered by the second global collapse of the capitalist order within twelve years.”

Howeverthe systemic failure of the capitalist order triggered by the coronavirus has reinforced the growing awareness among the population that extreme wealth inequality is not just a temporary quirk that can be remedied with tax and some redistributive policies but a fundamental characteristic of the system.

For example, the debate that took place leading up to the passing of the legislation by Congress to address COVID-19’s impact dramatically exposed a capitalist class agenda that was objectively opposed to the interest of the entire working class, the poor, and the declining middle-class.

The people saw that billions of dollars were allocated to business while millions of people are facing an increasingly desperate situation.They are facing their second pay period without a full check and they are weeks away from receiving any kind of meaningful relief. But the peoples’ bills continue to mount up while the multinational corporations get bailed out. April rent and mortgage payments are due and with everyone home and eating more but with less money for food, thousands are being forced to go without or rely on food pantries. The $1,200 payoff is an insult.

And with the tragic reality of the shamefully inadequate public healthcare system in the U.S. and the rumors that private insurance healthcare premiums might increase 40% next yearthe capitalists want to shut down any discussion around Medicare for All along with any discussion on nationalizing the healthcare industry.

“The $1,200 payoff is an insult.”

While millions are losing their employer-based healthcare coverage, Biden says that nothing has changed his opposition to Medicare for All. Another neoliberal Democrat.

This is not being missed by many people.

The demystification of capitalism and a realistic understanding of the role of the U.S. in the global order is a good thing and that will be the silver lining coming out of this current crisis.

The precipitous decline of U.S. power and prestige is visible for all to see. The world sees that it is the Chinese who are sending ventilators to Europe. The world also sees that several states and U.S. federal agencies like FEMA are being forced to buy ventilators and face masks from China.

The world also recognizes that the U.S. lost its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite its enormous war machine and the failed attempt to effect regime change in Syria.

The public outside of the U.S. know that there is absolutely nothing exceptional about this nation, except for its inability, up until now, to see itself the way that millions see it – as a declining power that is morally corrupt and a danger to itself and the world.

“The world sees that it is the Chinese who are sending ventilators to Europe.”

The ability to see the emperor and all his nakedness and know they are seeing the truth, reflects the loss of what Danny Haiphong and Robert Sirvent  call the ideology of “American exceptionalism and American innocence.”

That shift in consciousness is occurring slowly and unevenly. But let there be no doubt what this change in consciousness will result in. It will not mean that the rulers will surrender power to the aroused masses without a fight. No, it only means that the subjective factor – a revolutionary consciousness – will catch up with the objective factor of the ongoing crisis of the Pan-European white supremacist colonial/capitalist patriarchy. These are the conditions for a revolutionary advance.

That moment is on the horizon. Can you see it?

Trump Regime Plotting More War in Iraq?

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Former Obama regime chief of staff/Chicago mayor/earlier and current investment banker Rahm Emanuel once notoriously said:

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Post-9/11, a permanent US state of war became official bipartisan policy — at home on human and civil rights, abroad against sovereign independent states to replace their legitimate governments with pro-Western puppet ones.

The objective then and now is all about concentrating greater wealth and power in the hands of privileged interests at the expense of peace, the rule of law, and fundamental rights and welfare of ordinary people everywhere.

Michel Chossudovsky explained that current financial crisis conditions were “carefully engineered” — COVID-19 the pretext to do things not possible or easily accomplished during normal times.

Global stock market collapses “resulted in one of the most important transfers in money wealth in modern history,” Chossudovsky explained, involving trillions of dollars that may continue mounting to amounts only to be known in the fullness of time.

Is more US war on war-ravaged Iraq part of the plot? Are Americans too distracted by COVID-19’s effect on their lives and welfare to notice or care?

According to the NYT, “(a) secret Pentagon directive (calls for) try(ing) to destroy” Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in Iraq that are connected to the country’s military.

“The Pentagon has ordered military commanders to plan for an escalation of American combat in Iraq, issuing a directive last week to prepare a campaign to destroy an Iranian-backed militia group that has threatened more attacks against American troops.”

So-called Operation Inherent Resolve commander General Robert P. White argued against what he said would require thousands more US forces deployed to Iraq.

Pompeo and national security advisor O’Brien urge increased US hostilities against Iran with Americans distracted by COVID-19 and the Islamic Republic going all out to contain outbreaks in the country.

Trump regime war secretary Esper and Joint Chiefs chairman General Mark Milley oppose the idea.

Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson falsely said US forces are in Iraq “at the invitation of the Iraqi government and remains focused on partnering with Iraqi security forces for the shared goal of permanently defeating ISIS remnants. We are not going to discuss hypotheticals or internal deliberations.”

Iraqi ruling authorities and vast majority of its ordinary people want them out.

Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani, assassinated by the Pentagon in January, aided Baghdad in creating and training PMUs as a force allied with Iraq’s military to combat US-supported ISIS.

PMUs are not “Iranian-backed,” falsely implying control of them by Tehran. They’re Iraqi security forces involved in protecting their homeland, controlled by the country’s military.

According to Press TV, PMU forces are holding military drills “in preparation for possible war with the US,” thousands of fighters involved.

Last week, PMU group Kata’ib Hezbollah reported “ ‘suspicious activities by the US and its mercenaries’ in Iraq in preparation for an operation.”

If launched, will it include large-scale Pentagon aerial and ground operations?

Kata’ib Hezbollah believes the plot includes Pentagon shock and awe-type aerial operations and ground operations, similar to US aggression in 1991 and 2003.

The US came to Iraq to stay. Its bases in the country are platforms for control of the country and regional wars.

They’re used to supply ISIS and likeminded jihadists in Syria with weapons and other material support.

Last month, Iraqi lawmaker on the nation’s security and defense commission Karim Aliwi accused the Trump regime of “transferr(ing) over 1,000 terrorists from Syria to Iraq, and it wants to foment chaos and change the equations by using the ISIL card and fomenting insecurity in the Western cities of Iraq.”

According to the Arabic-language al-Maloumeh News website, US military bases in Iraq and Syria are safe havens for ISIS fighters.

Their presence (along with likeminded US-controlled jihadists) is a virtual time bomb that could explode any time in either or both countries like earlier.

Will the Trump regime take advantage of Americans focused solely on COVID-19’s effects on their lives and welfare to escalate war in Iraq, perhaps Syria, and elsewhere?

Will it transfer more of the nation’s wealth to military, industrial, security interests from ordinary Americans both right wings of the one-party state are indifferent toward?

 

Whither Coronavirus? When Will It End and What Will Happen Along the Way

Whither Coronavirus? When Will It End and What Will Happen Along ...

Philip Giraldi March 26, 2020

The coronavirus story has generated a number of major subplots. First is the origin of the virus. Did it occur naturally or was it created in a Chinese, American or Israeli weapons lab? If bioengineered, did it somehow escape or was it deliberately released? As the governments that might have been involved in the process have become very tight lipped and the mainstream media is reluctant to embrace conspiracy theories, we the public may never know the answer.

Second is the nature of the virus itself. There are inevitably skeptics who choose to compare the affliction to a common head cold or normal winter flu and are able to cherry pick so-called experts to support their case. Many Americans are unwilling to submit to a lockdown or isolation and are flaunting their willingness to go out in public and mix freely while others are claiming that the whole thing is a hoax designed to create a panic that will benefit certain constituencies. There are press reports of teenagers going to supermarkets and faking a sneeze or a cough in the produce section to show their indifference to the infection avoidance guidelines now being promoted by the media and government. Some critics have also commented regarding the deaths of hundreds of Italians daily, suggesting that in Italy’s health care system old people were deliberately being allowed to die.

The fact is that when critically ill people die in hospitals it is sometimes attributable to triage. Triage arises when there are only limited resources to treat the sick, as in the case recently in the Italian Lombard city of Bergamo where hospitals were overwhelmed. Doctors must make the decision to treat those who are ill who are likely to survive as a first priority, meaning that others will only receive limited treatment. Italy has roughly the same number of hospital beds as does the United States per capita and it has more ventilators capable of being used to treat the advanced stages of the virus. It also is receiving assistance from both China and Russia on testing supplies and additional ventilators and masks. Italy has conducted far more coronavirus tests than has the U.S. The northern Italian medical services system was up to European standards, better than what prevails in the U.S., but it has been broken by the virus. Spain is heading the same way and there are similar concerns about France.

In spite of all the ideologically driven background clutter, genuinely knowledgeable medical authorities come down overwhelmingly promoting the view that the virus is highly contagious and capable of spreading rapidly, making it a pandemic, and it can be exceptionally lethal to certain demographics, including the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The way of combatting it also appears to be agreed upon by most genuine experts i.e. that testing must be widespread to determine who is infected and those individuals should be isolated from contact with others for at least two weeks to limit the spread of the contagion. For those whose conditions worsen, hospitalization and treatment for possible respiratory failure are warranted.

The third big issue is the apparently deliberate failure of the Trump Administration to respond proactively to limit the spread of the virus. Seeking to protect the stock market more than the American public, President Donald Trump initially downplayed the impact of the virus, even calling it a “hoax” during January and February when it first appeared on U.S. soil. It turned out that several institutes affiliated to the Center for Disease Control to deal with epidemics had been dismantled by the Administration and, in spite of the warning provided by what was occurring in Wuhan, the U.S. made no effort to increase its supply of testing kits, masks or ventilators. Meanwhile, congressmen were receiving dire warnings of what was coming from the intelligence community in private briefings, leading to a number of senators selling their stock in anticipation of a market collapse. That is something called insider trading and it is illegal. It is also a measure of the corruption of America’s ruling class.

The fourth major subplot relates to what will come out of the pandemic once it is over, if it is indeed defeated at all. Critics rightly observe that the government response both at federal and state levels might well be a major overreaction to a health crisis that could possibly be dealt with using a lighter hand. Donald Trump has now called himself a “wartime president,” a particularly odd conceit in that America’s chief executive officer dodged the Vietnam war draft.  Trump is now providing daily rambling briefings emphasizing that his administration deserves a “10 out or 10” for its yeoman’s work against coronavirus. The real story is that the president personally inhibited initial efforts to respond to the disease and he is now attempting to regain lost ground by supporting draconian measures to include cash payments to all American residents, even to people who do not need the money. The money itself will have to be borrowed or printed, putting the United States even deeper in debt.

Based on his wartime status, the president and his cabinet are poised to exploit Civil War and Korean War legislation to assume powers over the economy and will likely arrange bailouts of some industries that will then acquire the government as a partner. The now declared “national emergency” will undoubtedly come to include some forms of martial law to enforce the isolation of targeted populations and it is also being reported that the Justice Department has asked Congress to allow judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during the “emergency.” As we have learned from the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act and the Authorization to Use Military Force, allegedly temporary powers acquired by the executive branch have frequently become permanent. Unrestrained power in the hands of a Trump or Biden should frighten anyone who is still interested in voting in November.

There is some speculation that Trump might well follow the example being set by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Israel has banned foreign visitors, is under 24 hours curfew and is effectively in lockdown. It is using cell phone intercepts provided by the intelligence services to track the comings and goings of Israeli residents. The monitoring is being justified as a mechanism to create a record of who is meeting whom and where to support isolation and lockdown efforts. A similar program is already active in the suburbs around Washington. The National Security Agency (NSA) already has the technical ability in place that would permit monitoring of the movements of much of the U.S. population. It would be an intelligence community dream and would fit quite nicely with Congress’s recent efforts to re-authorization certain Patriot Act aspects of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Fifth and finally, there is the politicization aspect of coronavirus. The virus is being “blamed” on China, a global competitor of the United States. As is often the case, Trump has gotten the ball rolling through his usual verbal toxicity, calling the virus the Chinese Virus or Wuhan Virus. Other Republicans have picked up on the theme, leading to the inevitably Democratic progressive wing complaints that such language was “racist.” The fact it, there is no evidence whatsoever that China in any deliberate way either created or unleashed the virus.

And, of course, there is Russia. It would almost seem an old joke that is no longer amusing to blame something new and menacing on Moscow and congress has so far largely refrained from doing so. But that does not mean that the Deep State establishment is holding the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin blameless. The U.S. intelligence community, through its preferred propaganda sheet the New York Times, is now reporting that Russia is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to spread disinformation through Europe and also in the U.S. In particular, Putin has escalated a campaign-by-innuendo to reduce confidence in the outcome of the upcoming 2020 presidential election. In any event, the Russians are too late as the Democratic and Republican parties’ behavior has already convinced many Americans that voting in November will be a waste of time.

Putin visits SARS-CoV-2 patients in biggest COVID19 center in Russia

An image for 1000 words”!

March 25, 2020

The Saker

Today President Putin visited the patients which are currently hospitalized in the biggest COVID19 center in Russia. After putting on a full biowarfare suit he, along with his Press Attaché, he entered to “hot zone” and saw for himself in what condition the patients were were kept and asked them directly if they had any complaints (they did not). And not once did he, or his aides, engage in mantric repetition of “we are the best on the planet” (even though they might well be).
What a contrast with the daily performance of the Idiot-in-Chief….
While Trump and his gang tell us how everything is gonna return to normal soon, Putin warns the Russians (and the rest of the planet) that we all are about to face some very, very, difficult times!
What a contrast.
And now I leave you with this “truly an image for 1000 words”!

Deadly Consequences of American Imperial Arrogance on Full Display in COVID-19 Outbreak

By Danny Haiphong

Source

Trump Coronavirus f8a61

Donald Trump is but a symptom of a larger disease. That disease is American imperial arrogance, and it has been on full display as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world and the American mainland. The potential lethality of COVID-19 is exponentially more dangerous when combined with the hubris of the American imperial order and its hyper-capitalist economic foundation. The U.S.’s response to the virus lags far behind the rest of the world. A deep thirst for profit among powerful elites dictates all social policies and organizations in the United States and this thirst has deadly consequences.

Testing for COVID-19 in the U.S. remains virtually non-existent when considered in per capita terms. The Trump administration rejected the use of COVID-19 tests supplied by the World Health Organization despite having nearly two months to prepare for the possibility of the virus’ spread on U.S. shores. Now, privately-run labs scramble to assemble their own testing kits, wasting precious time in the process. COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days. Vulnerable populations such as the disabled, the elderly, the incarcerated, and the chronically ill are potentially being sacrificed en mass because of the U.S.’ vested interest in shirking international coordination for its own short-term interests.

American imperial arrogance has thus left ordinary people in the United States completely in the dark about the dangers of COVID-19. Some people have responded with panic shopping and individual efforts in isolation. Others have ignored many of the basic recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to employ social distance and wash hands frequently. Without a planned and organized response, some Americans have even minimized the possible consequences of COVID-19. Prior to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s March 16th declaration that non-essential businesses reduce capacity, New Yorkers packed into bars and parks as if the world wasn’t mobilizing to ensure COVID-19 is contained and addressed.

American arrogance is fueled by a bipartisan consensus in Washington which prioritizes the enrichment of the few at the expense of the many. It is no secret that President Trump’s response to COVID-19 has been extremely negligent. Trump had met with several individuals who were suspected to have the virus, including Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. That hasn’t stopped Trump from refusing to get tested and avoiding the fact that the U.S. healthcare system lacks the capacity to respond to COVID-19’s possible impact on the population. But Trump is not alone in the negligence. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi collaborated with Republicans over a coronavirus relief bill that leaves out corporations of five hundred workers or more from a mandatory fourteen-day sick time benefit paid for by the federal government. The legislation excludes 80 percent of the working population, many of which do not have the sick time necessary to quarantine and protect themselves and their families. 

Such a tepid and putrid response from the bipartisan establishment is demonstrative of how far the U.S. political class will go to concede to its rich donors in the capitalist class. While the political class on both sides of the political aisle willfully and arrogantly ignored recommendations from the WHO, one and a half trillion dollars in stimulus has been pumped into the stock exchange to keep finance capital afloat. Meanwhile, workers are suffering. No sick time, massive school closures, and no national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures means that COVID-19 is already having devastating consequences on the half of the U.S. population which lives paycheck to paycheck. Black workers and migrant workers who make up a large portion of the low-wage economy and the prison population will be disproportionately affected by the virus’ spread.

COVID-19 is in many ways a painful form of blowback for the ways in which American imperial arrogance has ravaged the world’s nations and their people. For over a month, U.S. corporate media and political officials demonized China and condemned its response to COVID-19 as “authoritarian” and “draconian.” Iran’s own experience with COVID-19 has been made exponentially worse by U.S.-imposed sanctions that prevent access to critical medical supplies. The U.S.-blockade of Cuba prevents ordinary Americans from receiving the assistance of Cuban anti-viral medication that has proven effective in treating COVID-19. Furthermore, American leadership in pushing austerity across the world has left European countries like Italy even more vulnerable to the spread of the virus. 

The U.S. is no stranger to biological warfare as part of its overall commitment to destroying the planet at the behest of profit. Private capital views disaster as an opportunity to maximize profit. The U.S. military contracted with Monsanto and Dow Chemical to spray toxic chemicals on large portions of Vietnam’s agricultural lands. The U.S. military has repeatedly used white phosphorus and depleted uranium in Iraq. In 1945, the U.S. dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan. These acts of biological warfare and terror continue to create devastating health consequences for tens of millions of people across the world.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the U.S. ruling class has used COVID-19 to demonize China. In the Arizona Democratic Party debate, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders whether they would punish China for suppressing the potential global impact of COVID-19. Neither candidate rejected the very premise of the question, which rests on the faulty assumption that China allowed COVID-19 to fester and grow because a so-called whistleblower ophthalmologist was ignored and punished by Chinese authorities. The reality is that Chinese health workers had reported unusual clusters of viral cases as early as December 27th, 2019. China’s response to the virus has been praised for both its aggressiveness and effectiveness in reducing the impact of COVID-19 by leading epidemiologists and the WHO.

The U.S. placing blame on China for COVID-19 is yet another dangerous example of American imperial arrogance. While CNN and the Democratic Party candidates were arguing about China’s “authoritarianism,” Chinese billionaire and Communist Party member Jack Ma was donating masks and test kits to the United StatesThe deadly consequences of American imperial arrogance are domestic and global. Domestically, U.S. elites are antagonistic to the kind of comprehensive social response that is necessary to contain the virus. Abroad, these same elites prioritize war instead of solidarity and squander critical opportunities for coordination around crises such as COVID-19 and climate change in the process. American imperial arrogance is far more dangerous than COVID-19, as it impedes our collective ability to demand more from a U.S.-led global order which has far outlasted its usefulness to humanity.

US Senators Dump Stocks with COVID-19 Inside Information

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Following a closed-door briefing on the threat of spreading COVID-19 infections — before markets began crashing — at least five US senators cashed in based on inside information unavailable to the public.

The quintet includes Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Byrd, James Inhofe, Kelly Loeffler, Ron Johnson, and Diane Feinstein.

Most likely, other insiders in Washington and elsewhere sold equity holdings before public information about spreading COVID-19 infections caused financial, commodity, and other market turmoil.

Loeffler’s husband is chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange — both co-owners of stocks they dumped, reportedly up to $3.1 million in late January and early February.

Reportedly with a net worth of around $500 million, Loeffler is the wealthiest US senator, a body known as a millionaires club.

In early March, she publicly lied claiming “the consumer is strong. The economy is strong, (and) jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle” COVID-19.

A February 27 audiotape of Burr’s address at a Capitol Hill Club luncheon included the following remark:

“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history. It’s probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

A week before his large-scale stock dump (reportedly between $628,000 and $1.72 million), two weeks after his above private remarks, he said the following in a Fox News op-ed:

“(T)he United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus” — a Big Lie.

On March 20, he falsely said the following:

“I relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on February 13.”

“I followed CNBC’s daily health and science reporting out of its Asia bureaus at the time.”

“Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight…I spoke this morning with the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked hi to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency.”

On February 12, one day before Burr’s stock dump, US financial markets reached an all-time high.

He had inside information about what likely lay ahead and took full advantage, likely selling all or most of his equity holdings to avoid large financial losses.

The same is true for at least four other US senators.

Market transactions based on inside information unknown to the public are illegal.

If five US senators profited from inside information, did others in both houses benefit the same way?

Will action be taken to hold them accountable? Calls for Burr and perhaps other outed senators to resign aren’t good enough.

Lawbreakers should be prosecuted for their offenses. In America and most other countries, ordinary people alone are punished for wrongdoing.

Privileged ones most often get off scot-free no matter their offenses. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

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