Russian President Vladimir Putin Holds Annual Press Conference

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December 17, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin Holds Annual Press Conference

Mr Putin answers questions by press representatives and the general public in his annual press conference.  This video is the live stream and we are already 3 hours into the meeting.  I find the translators better than in previous years, but kindly refrain from complaining about quality.  This is what we have currently.  A transcript will be available but will probably take some days.  The video starts at the current time in the conference, so, to listen from the start, move your video back to the start.

Update : a partial transcript is available earlier than usual.  It will be posted here, as the sections become available.

The news conference is being broadcast live by Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24, Channel One, NTV and MIR television channels, as well as Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations. Public Television of Russia (OTR) and its site (http://www.otr-online.ru/online/) provide live sign language interpretation of the event.

Representatives of federal and foreign media are working at the World Trade Centre in Moscow. In addition, special platforms have been set up in all federal districts, where representatives of regional media can participate and ask their questions.

The call centre continues to accept questions from individuals. You can ask your question on the website https://moskva-putinu.ru or using the Moskva-Putinu mobile app.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

My greetings to all of you, here in Novo-Ogaryovo, in the call centre and across the regions of the Russian Federation, in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Today we are holding the traditional news conference to wind up this year’s results. Since COVID-19 prevented us from holding the Direct Line live, my colleagues have tried to merge these two events into a single one by introducing elements inspired by the Direct Line format into this news conference so that I can interact directly with people, hear what they have to say, what is going on in the country, and listen to their proposals on what more can be done in order to address matters in the best possible way and find effective solutions to the issues we face and deliver on our objectives.

Allow me to mention that over the past years it has become a good tradition for us to ensure that all the questions we get, and there are hundreds of thousands of them, are answered in one way or another. For that, I would like to thank my colleagues from the Presidential Executive Office, the Government, but first and foremost from non-governmental organisations: the Civic Chamber and the Russian Popular Front, the volunteers who contacted the people who took part in previous Direct Lines, talked to them, discussed the challenges pinpointed by these people, and quite often succeeded in resolving various matters that people were concerned with, and which probably remain relevant to this day.

I very much hope that we will do the same this year. I would like to ask volunteers, the Russian Popular Front to continue this wonderful practice, very useful for the country.

For me, I would like to emphasise, such events are not formal; I highly value them. Even though I have a vast flow of information about what is happening in the country reaching me through various channels, still, there is nothing more valuable than direct communication with the people, with Russian citizens, there is nothing more valuable than hearing their opinions about their lives and concerns, and again, what we need to do in order to have a better life.

You know, I would rather finish my opening remarks here. It would be a good idea to start the Q&A without wasting any more time. I would like to give the floor to Mr Peskov, who is at the call centre now. He will continue to moderate our meeting.

Mr Peskov, please.

Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov: Good afternoon, Mr President. Hello everyone.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Dmitry Peskov: We have our participants scattered widely across our vast country, and I suggest we start from the easternmost point.

Vladivostok, please.

Once again, I urge everyone to be brief and dynamic so that as many journalists as possible have time to ask their questions.

Please, Vladivostok, help me out, for a start.

Dmitry Kaistro: Good evening. It is evening here already.

So this is Vladivostok, the capital of the country’s largest federal district, the Far East. There are 50 correspondents here, and you can see how active they are. Each of them has their own established audience and their own questions for the head of state.

I suggest we begin now. We seem to have people here who really have something to say.

Mr Peskov, would you choose who will go first?

Dmitry Peskov: Could you show me the audience, please? Did I see Magadan there?

Dmitry Kaistro: Yes, the young lady in blue.

Lyudmila Shcherbakova: Good afternoon.

Magadan State Television and Radio Company. My name is Lyudmila Shcherbakova.

First of all, I would like to greet you Mr President, and all the spectators and the audience on behalf of Russia’s Far East and Magadan Region in particular.

I have the following question. We all know that this was a challenging year, to an extent that I can hardly find the right words to describe. Still, in your opinion, was this year all bad, or was there something positive as well?

Vladimir Putin: The year was… What do you mean by calling this a bad year? This is like the weather: is it good or bad? Weather is just the way it is. The same goes for the year: it had its ups and downs, as it always happens in life.

Of course, this year brought us a problem that is on everyone’s lips, and is a matter of concern for all of us: the coronavirus pandemic. However, not only Russia, the entire world has been hit by this scourge. We are fully aware of this, since over 70 million people have already been infected by the coronavirus, according to WHO data. This problem has affected all aspects of our lives.

What is a pandemic? It means lockdowns, curbed production, declining passenger and cargo traffic and all that goes with it. Unfortunately, it also means fewer jobs, and lower incomes. This has all become a reality.

At the same time, here is what I wanted to point out. First (and I will try to provide figures to back this up), despite the plethora of challenges we have been facing, and there has been plenty of problems, and we will discuss them today, since this is why we are here, the whole world has been submerged in this ocean of problems. Still, we can affirm in all confidence that we faced up to these problems with dignity and in some ways maybe even better than other countries of the world that have every right to be proud of their economies, social services and healthcare systems.

I have some prompts here (it is not my intention to delve deep into numbers since it sounds boring) to show you where we are right now. At this point in time, Russia’s GDP has fallen by 3.6 percent, which is less than in the leading European, EU countries, and less than in the United States. In some EU countries GDP has so far dropped by as much as 9 percent (I think this is the case in Great Britain).

We have industrial production down 3 percent now – mainly due to oil, because we have made the OPEC Plus deal and began to cut production, and this affected our overall performance. But there is also good news (better in some areas, worse in others, but we do have some improvements): yesterday, my colleagues from the Government reported to me that processing industries (manufacturing) showed 1.1 percent growth in November. This gives us reason to hope that this trend will continue, that we will move forward in this direction.

Over the past few years, our agricultural industry has posted good figures, and now, at the moment, it is somewhere around up 1.8. The Minister said agriculture might not even show a decline for the year, but an increase of up to 2 percent. I hope this will be the case.

Our banking sector is in a very satisfactory condition, with profits estimated at about 1.3 trillion rubles for the year. This definitely testifies to the financial system’s stability.

Real wages. I ask the country’s citizens, try not to be angry with me because what I will say now might not correspond to how people feel in real life; nevertheless, I am going to cite an averaged figure, and it also needs to be taken into account. I hope real wages will grow by about 1.5 percent by the end of the year across Russia, although unfortunately, there will be a decline in real disposable incomes. Why is this happening? What does it mean? Where does this difference come from? This has to do with the declining incomes of individual entrepreneurs, and the resulting changes. Overall, real incomes, unfortunately, will fall by around 3 percent.

Unemployment rate in Russian was 4.7 percent at the beginning of 2020; now, as you know, it has grown to 6.3 percent. We will certainly talk about this later.

Everything we do to support the economy, to support the affected industries, is aimed at maintaining employment. We have [unemployment at] 6.3 percent now, but I hope that over the next year, we will be able to bring it down to the earlier figures.

A positive trade balance can be considered a good indicator. It creates conditions for good macroeconomic development.

Our national debt had been at its lowest at $70 billion, in dollar terms. It shrank by another 10 billion since. We borrow less in foreign markets, while regularly servicing all our loan obligations. Our international reserves have grown. At the beginning of this year, they amounted to 554.4 billion; now, as of December 4, they are already about 587.7 billion. The same holds true for the National Wealth Fund. In ruble terms, it was 7.7 trillion, now it is almost 13.5 trillion. This is significant growth.

There is something I need to draw your attention to. What is an obviously positive part of our economic growth? As much as 70 percent of the Russian federal budget comes from non-oil and gas revenues now. This means, well, we are not entirely off the so-called oil and gas needle, but we are starting to get away from it. Even if someone still likes to think of Russia as a petrol station, they no longer have real grounds for that. Even though the dependence is still strong enough, and we have to bear this in mind.

Finally, this outgoing year is also associated with major national events, such as the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Despite all the difficulties caused by the pandemic, we nevertheless celebrated it properly, with the Victory Parade on Red Square; and the Immortal Regiment march also took place, albeit online. These are all positive aspects.

But most importantly, there is something else I definitely need to mention now, and I would like to thank the citizens of our country for it: even in the most difficult circumstances, we have once again reaffirmed what underlies the Russian identity – people rallying together in the face of a threat. We have seen it all, the work of volunteers, the work of doctors – we bow down before them again as a sign of deepest gratitude – the prevailing attitude in society, people are ready to help and support their neighbours, those especially in need of help and support. That showed a nationwide unity – let alone the We Are Together volunteer campaign, which is just an external manifestation of the internal attitude in society – this, in my opinion, is something that determines our country and is a decisive factor. Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who took part in those major campaigns.

Thank you.

Dmitry Peskov: I would like to remind everyone that after asking your questions you should change the mike cover for a new one. After all, we must comply with the sanitary rules.

Let us proceed. The Kremlin pool, please, show us Novo-Ogaryovo.

We will give the floor to our largest holding, the VGTRK, Rossiya channel.

Alexei Petrov: Thank you. Alexei Petrov, Vesti news programme, Rossiya TV channel.

Mr President, face masks have become an unpleasant symbol of the times. It is obvious that the pandemic is the main event of the year. My question concerns the situation in the Russian healthcare system. How would you describe its state of readiness? How well has it responded and how well is it responding to the current challenges?

There is an important nuance here. Do you think the situation is being analysed? Are the shortcomings and drawbacks being considered? This includes the shortage and labelling of medications, something that has been spoken about many times, and our social activists have reported about this to you. What is the net result?

Another thing has to do with the primary care system reform. A lot of money has been invested in it. How will it proceed now in the light of the lessons of the pandemic?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the readiness of our healthcare system. Of course, not a single healthcare system in the world was ready for the scale of the problem we faced. There are simply no such systems. We are analysing everything that is taking place across the world, and we see that there are no such systems. But there are examples of how the pandemic response was organised in Russia. Compared to other countries, although we do have a great number, an ocean of problems, some of which you have mentioned, but compared to what was happening in the world our healthcare system has proved to be more effective.

I will now talk about medicine shortages and other problems – it goes without saying that the problems are still there, and we can see them all. It is evident from the incoming questions, and I can hear it in your question, it suggests that not everything has been resolved. But look, when the pandemic was only just starting, when the very first signals came from our friends in the People’s Republic of China that there was a problem, we reacted immediately at the border, and – I have already said this many times – it bought us time to get prepared, so that when it all hit us on a large scale, we were ready.

It bought us time, we began to quickly deploy the healthcare system proper, as well as other measures to prevent a pandemic, and we did not waste any of that time. The required number of beds for coronavirus patients was 95, we are counting in millions, and the availability was only 50 percent; now we have 125 – sorry, I meant thousands – 125,000, and now we have 177,000 deployed, even 277,000 – a total of 277,000 beds deployed in a fairly short time. During that time, we have built 40 coronavirus centres: 30 of them were built quickly by the Ministry of Defence, and 10 by the regions. Overall, we will have 40, as the last one should be completed in the final days of 2020. This shows our ability to quickly respond to a problem.

Yesterday, when I was inspecting equipment, I spoke to a young woman working as a volunteer: at the time the pandemic began, we had very few doctors or specialists – 8,300, and now, there are 150,000 doctors working with this infection, and total medical staff numbers are more than half a million, some 520,000–530,000, I think.

What happened? We were able to quickly convert some of the medical institutions available for dealing with COVID and set up a retraining system for medical personnel. We introduced bonuses for people working in the ‘red zones’ in order to support our doctors, also 10,000 for senior students of medical universities, and 7,000 each for college students, as you know. We quickly expanded the production of personal protective equipment and suits, and disinfectants to sanitise premises. In some cases, the expansion was dramatic: for example, with the facemasks everyone is sick and tired of by now, we increased production 20 times, and this rarely happens.

Our healthcare system and state governance system in this area have shown that they can quickly mobilise resources, and they have done this. Incidentally, the required amount of medications has doubled. It is true that some regions have problems – I am aware of this and have just received information from the call centre based on what people say. There is a shortage of medications at hospitals, not to mention pharmacies, and free medications are not provided – I will say a few words about this as well. But these are not the same problems that we faced at the beginning. These problems have to do with logistics and purchase and delivery delays, but on the whole our industry has responded well enough.

At the beginning of the pandemic we did not know what we were facing, how to identify or test the disease, what treatment to use, and whether there would ever be an antidote, that is, a vaccine against it.

Just look now: we have moved forward a great deal in all of these areas. Russia is one of the world’s top three countries for COVID testing, and the WHO believes that mass testing is a way to deal with the problems created by the spreading infection. Take medications: we are now producing domestic medications in the necessary amount. And lastly, vaccination: Russia is the first country in the world to create and produce a vaccine, or vaccines created at the Gamaleya National Research Centre and at the Novosibirsk-based Vektor Centre. These are good vaccines, as I have said on numerous occasions, safe and effective: their efficacy rate is over 95 percent, approaching 96 or 97 percent, according to experts, and not a single case of serious side effects has been reported.

Thankfully, our foreign colleagues have changed their attitude towards us and are ready to collaborate in the areas where it is not working out for them. The Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca is ready to work with us, and is in the process of signing a corresponding agreement. This is very good; I am really glad when top-notch specialists – this is a large and good company with a global reputation – join forces, including with their Russian partners. I have no doubt that this will have a very good result not just for our citizens, but for the world as a whole.

Everything I have said just now shows that although there are quite a few problems, our healthcare system has responded appropriately to the threats our citizens faced.

Turning to the question on primary healthcare, it is true, of course, that we had to channel the necessary resources into what I have just mentioned, fighting the coronavirus, helping doctors, volunteers, students, etc., and acquiring the required manufacturing capability as soon as possible. We have postponed the effort to upgrade primary healthcare, without forgetting about it or placing it on the back burner. Instead of launching this undertaking on July 1, we will begin on January 1, and all the resources that were to be spent on this programme will be engaged within the timeframe set out in the programme. This is 500 billion rubles from the federal budget and another 50 billion from regional budgets. Over the next three years or so, some 300 billion rubles will have been made available and used.

We have started improving some aspects of primary healthcare. This includes buying motor vehicles, for example. We need these vehicles right now, as I can see from the questions we have been receiving, but this is also part of the programme to develop primary healthcare.

Since we are on this topic, I would like to say that ensuring that all people enjoy access to medical services is what the efforts to develop primary healthcare are all about. I know that there are many issues here that need to be resolved without delay. This will be our priority. Of course, this is also about personnel training, infrastructure, etc.

As for your question on how to respond to challenges that arose in the course of the fight against the pandemic and have yet to be resolved, of course, we are looking into these issues. In this context, let me reiterate that our event today is essential since it provides us with massive feedback from all regions across the country, giving us a picture of what is being done in specific regions of the Russian Federation, and allowing us to respond to these developments and fine-tune our actions.

We can draw the obvious conclusion that we need to move towards building a better sanitary and epidemiological service and reforming it. We need to understand how many specialised hospital beds we need and in what regions, and how many specialists are required. This programme is ready by all accounts, and we will make it a reality.

Dmitry Peskov: Let’s move on. Ura.Ru.

Anton Olshannikov: Good afternoon, Mr President.

My name is Anton Olshannikov, from the Ura.Ru news agency.

The epidemic is a problem indeed, but life goes on, and in this regard, I have this compound question about life, concerning elections, the big campaign we are going to have next year.

How do you think this upcoming political campaign will differ from the last one? What will the political landscape be like in the country?

The second part of my question is about the old mainstream opposition parties. Isn’t it time for them to make way for young parties, and do these young parties even have a chance, given how they have shown themselves at the municipal elections?

And the last part of my question is about external interference. It is obviously quite possible, especially since this campaign is so important. How do you intend to block this interference?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: As for the 2021 parliamentary elections, there will be a few differences, of course, mainly because we have adopted amendments to the Constitution – this is my first point. This means that the parliament now has more powers in a number of areas, including in forming the Government of the Russian Federation. You know, I would like to repeat this again, the State Duma now in fact makes the final decision not only regarding the Prime Minister, but also on cabinet ministers and deputy prime ministers.

The President must sign the personnel decisions adopted by parliament. And this – I do not think everyone has fully realised this yet – this greatly augments the importance of the deputy corps’ work, of their responsibility to the country, including for the work of the Government. This link between parliament and the Government is extremely important, I think. This is the first point.

Second, about the new parties and whether the old political heavyweights should cede their places to them. This is not for the new parties or for the political heavyweights, that is, the traditional parties, but for our citizens, the voters to decide. They will decide at the elections which parties to support. But does our political system, which continues developing, offer an opportunity for more political forces and parties to participate in the general election campaigns? Yes, it does. I think, no, I am sure that next year up to 16 parties will be taking part in the elections without collecting signatures, as far as I am aware. This is because in accordance with our legislation they have won seats in several Russian regions and therefore have the right to try their hand on the national political stage.

I wish them every success, but I would like to repeat that it is for the voters to decide whom to elect. I would like to note in this connection that the traditional parties are well known and have been represented in parliament for many years. It should be said that different, sometimes widely different views are expressed in parliament, where heated debates are held on a number of priority matters facing the country. At the same time, nearly all these parties act patriotically in the interests of the nation while offering their own solutions to the problems the country is facing. Approaches and ways to address problems may differ, but the goal of all our traditional political parties is the same – the welfare and development of the country.

Dmitry Peskov: Let us move from Moscow to Siberia now. Novosibirsk, you have an opportunity to ask your question.

Anton Vernitsky: Mr President, you have mentioned Novosibirsk as a centre where one of our vaccines has been created. Allow me to take Mr Peskov’s place now and act as a moderator. Can I choose who will ask the question? The thing is that I have seen a poster with the word “vaccine” on it. Go ahead, please, but first introduce yourself.

Lyudmila Keibol: Lyudmila Keibol, Altai Territory.

Mr President, I would like to ask if you have been vaccinated. What do you think about compulsory vaccination if there are not enough pilot vaccine doses in the regions? The epidemiological situation is quite complicated in Altai Territory.

And one more question: will we have enough vaccine doses in Russia if we help out other countries?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Look here. I urge everyone to pay close attention to specialists’ recommendations. I see, Lyudmila, that you have put on a mask. This is great. And you have gloves as well.

Specialists are telling us that the vaccines that are now coming into civil circulation are designed for people in a certain age group. So vaccines have not yet reached people like me. Let me repeat that I am a law-abiding person in this sense, I follow the recommendations of our specialists, therefore I have not been vaccinated yet. But I will do it as soon as it becomes possible. This is the first point.

Now the second one: I hear from specialists that it is necessary to have an interval between, say a flu shot and the coronavirus vaccine. Some of them say it should be two weeks whereas others insist it should be at least four weeks. I am referring to the coronavirus vaccine.

The third point is about the need for a large-scale or universal vaccination campaign. I think it must be done. It is not only Russian virologists who say this but also their colleagues practically throughout the world. Mass vaccination is one of the few ways of dealing with all pandemic-related issues. It is this vaccination that will create nationwide, community immunity. And let me repeat once again: our vaccine is effective and safe. Therefore, I do not see any reasons for rejecting it.

Finally, the next issue that is related to aid to other countries, as you put it. First of all, as I have always said and will say it again because I want all people in this country to hear me, our task is to carry out vaccination inside the Russian Federation. There are some issues in this respect.

What are they? The vaccine itself and its components are good. But we are still short of the hardware, the equipment for producing the amount of the vaccine we need. I believe 70 million people have already got flu shots. This is large-scale vaccination all over the country. This is what we must also do to counter COVID-19. But to produce this vaccine, we need corresponding plants, companies and equipment. We will build them. I assume that all plans in this respect will be carried out. Next year, in the very beginning, we will already have millions of vaccine doses and we will keep increasing its production on and on.

With regard to cooperation with other countries, since we need time in order to boost the technological capabilities of our enterprises to produce the vaccine, nothing is preventing us from producing the components of this vaccine in other countries, which will invest their own money into expanding their production capacities and purchasing the corresponding equipment. This is what I am talking about. In no way does this interfere with vaccinating the public in Russia. On the contrary, it will even improve the final quality of the product, since increasingly it will be mass produced.

Anton Vernitsky: Mr President, let us continue the tradition Mr Peskov started here. (Addressing Lyudmila Keibol) We would like to present you with a microphone windscreen. The fact is that you used the microphone without wearing a mask. Now you have it, so go ahead and use it.

Vladimir Putin: You are a perfectionist, I would say. But never mind.

Dmitry Peskov: Let us visit the call centre.

Nailya Asker-Zade: The call centre has received many pandemic-related questions, as well as questions about the doctors’ work during this challenging period. These questions were handled by a medical worker and volunteer Alevtina Kiselyova. She worked five months as a general practitioner at an outpatient clinic and saw COVID-19 patients.

Good afternoon, Alevtina,

Tell us what Russia’s citizens are complaining about.

Alevtina Kiselyova: Good afternoon,

We received many complaints about serious problems, including testing, getting a home visit by a doctor, and a lack of medications in both pharmacies and hospitals. At times, people waited over a week for an ambulance to arrive.

I also handled messages from the “red zone” doctors, which I would like to focus on.

Doctors from the town of Kola, Murmansk Region, and the town of Kachkanar, Sverdlovsk Region, have not once been paid a bonus for working with COVID-19 patients. The last time the bonus was paid to the military hospital personnel in Nizhny Novgorod and the doctors at an infectious disease hospital in the city of Tver was September.

We have received many requests from those who are risking their lives just as doctors but do not receive any additional payments for this. These are the support personnel – lift operators, cleaning staff and canteen workers. They are working in the risk zone, and the operation of the “red zone” would be impossible without them. I feel sorry for those who are at the forefront of the war against the pandemic but do not feel appreciated.

Mr President, we have a large number of questions regarding this, and we can give them to you so that you would issue instructions on dealing with every one of them. Mr President, is it possible to settle this problem?

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Alevtina, was it you I talked with yesterday?

Alevtina Kiseleva: Yes, I talked with you yesterday.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

I have a question from the call centre, possibly from you, from the Ryazan Region: “We live in a small town, and we never have access to medications, free medications. Why do coronavirus patients have to pay for their medications? They said that confirmed cases would receive free medications, but we do not. Everyone I know is buying their own medications. Where is the money?” I would like to know this too. It is from Vladimir Korshunov, Ryazan Region.

Alevtina, this is what I would like to tell you and all those who have sent in their questions, including Mr Korshunov. We have indeed allocated 10 billion rubles to the regions for a prompt response to arising problems connected with the purchase of PPE and the preparation of medical centres and facilities for dealing with COVID. We have also allocated 5 billion rubles, or even slightly more, for the provision of free medications to those who receive treatment at home.

As for the Ryazan Region, I know for sure that all the approved allocations have been transferred from the federal budget to the region. It is not clear why these medications are not provided to the people; we will definitely look into the matter. Here is the procedure for receiving free medications: notify your outpatient clinic, which should confirm the diagnosis and provide the necessary medications.

Alevtina, we will systematise the complaints that you received, and respond to other similar complaints and requests. To reiterate, we gave 10 billion to the regions for institutions and personal protective equipment, and 5 billion to help people directly. Of course, we will investigate where this money went. All the money from the federal budget was made available to the regions. Some governors – I am in constant contact with all of them – are reporting back to me that the money is being disbursed. There may be, of course, isolated irregularities, I hope that this is the case. Judging by the number of complaints, though, these are not isolated instances, but a widespread problem. We will definitely take a closer look at it.

Alevtina Kiselyova: Thank you very much.

Dmitry Peskov: Let us go back to the World Trade Centre.

Introduce yourself, please.

Pyotr Marchenko: MIC Izvestia, REN TV channel.

Good afternoon, Mr President,

Thank you for the vaccine. Above all, thanks go to the researchers. However, talk about fighting the pandemic has overshadowed the issue of the origin of that scourge. The debate continues until now, with the United States accusing China, and China accusing the United States of the virus being man-made or non-man-made. What do we know about it? Perhaps you ordered the special services to get on it and find out the source of the problem?

Vladimir Putin: There are many rumours regarding its origin. I do not feel like discussing this in front of the entire country and the whole world, especially since we do not have any evidence to back up these accusations. I think we need to join our efforts in combating the problem rather than look for the culprits. Cooperation will be the right thing to do. This is my first point.

Secondly, some of our Western partners never stop emphasising that they adhere to humanistic principles in their domestic and foreign policies. So, we should think about how to help the people in particularly difficult circumstances and lift trade restrictions and sanctions for the countries and areas of cooperation that are critical for overcoming the pandemic fallout. Perhaps restrictions on supplying medications, medical equipment and doctor training should be lifted in the first place. This is what everyone should be thinking about rather than looking for the culprits.

I have to note that, fortunately, we are developing cooperation with many countries, including the People’s Republic of China, at the level of specialists, regional heads and at the federal level.

As for the tasks assigned to the special services: there are many various tasks, of course, but I believe this is not the right place to discuss how these tasks are fulfilled.

One of the earlier questions was about possible interference in our elections. I am sorry, I did not respond to it, but not because I do not want to answer it. I just thought there are other issues that are more important, and focused on them. But this is a general question. Of course, they will try to interfere, they always do, and not only in our elections, but almost all over the world. This is global policy. Just like there are bases all over the world, there is interference on a worldwide scale. We know about it and are getting ready for it. But we will be able to efficiently block it only if the overwhelming majority of our citizens understand that a) it is interference, b) we must counteract it, and c) it is unacceptable and we must determine our destiny ourselves.

It is very important that our society feels this. Therefore, the sentiments of internet bloggers, the sentiments of the media and their intention to protect themselves is a crucial thing, the protection of our sovereignty. At the same time, of course, we are open to cooperation with our partners and international observers.

I think there is no such transparency anywhere else in the world. In some US states, you know, there are over a dozen states where it is prohibited for any foreign observers to attend the elections. We are nothing like that. On the contrary, we are open, we will work, and observers inside the country are working actively, including public organisations, the Civic Chamber, and others, and they are allowed to take part as observers. There are more opportunities for political parties and the media to observe the political processes inside the country, as it was before. We will definitely boost this activity to make our citizens confident that the elections are open and transparent and that their results should be respected.

Dmitry Peskov: We will stay at the World Trade Centre. Alexander Gamov, one of the most prominent members of the presidential pool, go ahead, please.

Alexander Gamov: Mr President, first, thank you very much for holding this countrywide gathering, I almost called it a Union-wide one, since it is so great for us to come together at this time and get an opportunity to tell you the truth.

In general, you know that the coronavirus has dealt a heavy blow to the standard of living of many people. I come from the regions, and I get a lot of phone calls from there with people saying that they find it extremely difficult to get by, worse than ever before: poverty is on the rise, and poor people are getting even poorer, with unemployment, the falling ruble, growing prices and higher mortality. Also, I wanted to tell you that prices have been gradually increasing since about September or August. Why did it take until December to start talking about it? A minister would not sweat until cornered by the President, it seems.

Could you tell us, please, whether there is a programme for resolving the issue with growing prices within a week, as you have said? Does the President or the Government have a programme to help Russia in the coming weeks?

Thank you very much. I represent the Komsomolskaya Pravda website, radio station and newspaper. Alexander Gamov.

Vladimir Putin: As I have said at the outset, this is a challenging situation. When I said that the pandemic caused the shutdown of several manufacturers, rising unemployment and a decline in disposable incomes, these were not empty words, and not something that can be overlooked. This means that we see and understand what is going on.

You said that things have never been as hard as they are today. This is not so. In 2000, 29 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. Almost one third of the country earned less than the subsistence level. One person out of three lived below the poverty line earning less than the subsistence level.

In 2017, we had 12.3 percent of the population below the poverty line. Unfortunately, today this level increased to 13.5 percent, due to all these problems. Of course, 20 million people is still too many.

You asked me whether there is a plan. Of course, there is a plan. Reducing the number of people below the poverty line is one of our key priorities. Let me elaborate on this subject.

First, here is the plan: by 2030, we need to bring down the share of the population living in poverty from the current 13.5 percent to 6.5 percent. Having 6.5 percent of the population earning less than the subsistence level is still not good, but we need to be realistic. This is a far-reaching, but feasible goal. This is the first point I wanted to make.

Now about prices. It is true that some prices are growing for objective reasons, for example, because the cost of their component parts has increased due to changes in the exchange rate. This is inevitable. Some products are only assembled in Russia, and we are now paying more for a large share of component parts, which have become more expensive because the ruble has slumped a bit.

But when the price hike is not related to objective reasons, this provokes a painful reaction. This is what made me angry, frankly speaking. For example, although we had a record large harvest this year, the largest harvest in the past six years – it will be 131 million tonnes and possibly even 134 million tonnes this year, yet bread and pasta prices are growing. How is that? Why? This is the first thing I wanted to say.

Second, sugar. I was told in the past that we should do something about cane sugar so as to support our own producers. We did so, in a number of ways, but not because we wanted to create a shortage on the domestic market. The minister has told me that we produce enough sugar for domestic consumption. But how can it be enough if sugar prices have soared by 75 percent?

Or take sunflower oil: prices have grown by 17 percent. Is there a shortage of sunflower seeds? No. There is also plenty of that. Why did it happen then? Because prices have grown on the global market, and so our producers increased exports and started adjusting domestic prices to global ones, which is absolutely unacceptable.

This is why we had such a tough discussion. The Government has responded. The main thing now is not to go too far with disciplinary action. This should have been done before with market measures; we should have adjusted the import duty, and this would have solved the problem. These are well known instruments, but they should be used on time. I hope we will do this now.

Contracts have been signed or will be signed – I think they have already been signed – between producers and retail chains: producers will bring down their prices to a certain level, and the retail chains should do the same for basic foods.

Of course, prices need to be monitored, and we will certainly do this. I hope to see the required changes within days, or weeks at the most.

Now about what can and must be done and what we are doing to help the people in this difficult period.

To begin with, we have substantially increased unemployment benefits since the unemployment rate has grown from 4.7 percent to 6.3 percent. This is common knowledge.

But the most difficult situation is taking shape in families with children, and we have created a whole programme to support families with children: from zero to 1.5 years, from 1.5 to three years and from three to seven years old. We have introduced an allowance for toddlers from zero to 1.5 years, and the rules are as follows: if every family member receives less than two subsistence minimums (at first, it was was 1.5, but later we expanded this programme and now it covers more people), such families are entitled to receive one child subsistence minimum for every child. As for children from 1.5 to three years of age, if their parents’ incomes are below these levels, they can receive the same payments but from the maternity capital: we have given them the right to receive these funds from the maternity capital. And, finally, for children aged between three and seven years we have introduced the following rule: if the income of each family member is below the subsistence minimum, they will start getting half of the subsistence minimum per each child. However, we decided from the very start to analyse this situation and see how it will affect the incomes of families. If not all families reach one subsistence minimum per member, starting January 1, that is, in two weeks from now, we will be already paying them one subsistence minimum for every child.

These are, so to speak, urgent measures to support Russian families. I did not mention lump sum payments for all children under 16.

And then there is support for the labour market. We will probably talk about it later on, and I will speak about it separately, so as not to drag out the answer to your question. However, this is certainly one of the key issues, therefore I allow myself to devote more time to it.

But the main point, of course, is that we need to develop the economy, reach the national development goals and implement national projects that contain these goals, create new jobs, raise the economy to a new level meeting the latest requirements, as well as develop artificial intelligence, digitisation and modern production lines that would allow people to have interesting jobs and receive decent incomes. The entire package of our measures envisaged by the national projects is aimed at reaching these goals.

Dmitry Peskov: Let’s not forget about the regions.

Yekaterinburg, please. We have not had any questions from Yekaterinburg yet.

Olga Armyakova: Colleagues, good afternoon. This is Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Urals.

We are broadcasting from the office of the presidential envoy, where journalists from all over the Ural Federal District have gathered. Accreditation has been approved for 70 journalists, but only 69 are present now. We learned why just a minute ago. Colleagues, I must share this with you: a journalist from a local news agency could not come to the news conference because she had a son yesterday. I think that is a good reason, and that you, Mr President, will accept it. As for the others, you can see that they are all ready to leap into action, to ask their questions.

Mr Peskov, what will we do? Will you choose the questions yourself?

Dmitry Peskov: Can you show me the room?

Olga Armyakova: Yes, of course.

Dmitry Peskov: Show me the room, please.

Right there, in the front row, with the “Waste” poster. Let’s have your question.

Olga Armyakova: The front row, please, go ahead.

You can remove the face mask, and don’t forget to introduce yourself. And then ask your question.

Olga Balabanova: Good afternoon, Mr President. Olga Balabanova from Magnitogorsky Metall newspaper, Magnitogorsk.

I have an environmental question, about waste management reform. As everyone is aware, it was officially launched in January 2019, but in fact it began long before that, five years ago. At any rate, a concession agreement was signed and a project was drafted in my city in 2015, but it came to a halt at the government expert review level. It looks as if they have started building [the recycling plant] now.

Why is the reform, which is vitally important for the whole country, dragging on in all regions, and what can be done about this?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think it is dragging on, this reform. There are many problems with organising production but the reform itself is proceeding.

There are several large objectives.

First, we must create a new industry, full-cycle production, when waste is not taken to landfills but recycled for use in other sectors. This is the first objective.

Second, we must ensure proper waste sorting so that by 2030 waste can be separated into different groups for subsequent recycling.

Currently, one of the tasks for the organisers of all this work is to ensure that manufacturers and packaging companies carry more responsibility so that the burden of waste disposal could shift from customers to packaging producers.

Overall, this is a practice typical almost everywhere in the world, and we will adhere to this very practice. For example, in car manufacturing, we charge a recycling fee. It works in our country and in the rest of the world. The same needs to be done in these areas.

I assure you that the Government is dealing with this, as are regional authorities. And they will continue to work on this, no question about that. We allocate substantial resources for these efforts, and there is a solid plan. This money will not be reassigned to any other purpose, and this work will be completed according to plan.

Since you are from Magnitogorsk, you know, one of the questions I have here has to do with Magnitogorsk and atmospheric emissions. The person asking the question wrote about what is happening in Magnitogorsk in relation to atmospheric emissions. Frankly speaking, I was a bit surprised because I know that over the past few years, the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works has invested significant resources into upgrading its production facilities with the specific intention of reducing emissions and, according to the reports I received, the emissions have indeed decreased. And then I read this.

Olga, what do you think? What is happening in Magnitogorsk in terms of atmospheric emissions?

Olga Balabanova: Perhaps, as a patriot (I work for a newspaper associated with this plant), I believe that if waste treatment facilities were built, it is not a window you can open or close, as one of my friends says. It is an entire complex of facilities. My fellow residents may tear me to pieces for my words, but I think that many people take the fog they can see over the left riverbank for smog. In fact, the tank was separated from the plant with a closed circuit system. The water there is warm and does not freeze, which often produces fog. People look at it from the right bank and think that they see smog over the left bank. There are other production facilities in the city, such as a poultry factory, that may produce the smell that people often notice. But I do not think that the situation is as critical as they like to inflate it on social media.

Vladimir Putin: Right, but this inquiry did not come from social media but from a specific person in Magnitogorsk. It is not social media.

Olga Balabanova: We read about this on social media as well. Perhaps there is a problem, but the plant is dealing with it, and I do not think these are just idle promises.

Vladimir Putin: I asked because I know that the plant has invested heavily in reducing emissions, much more than other metallurgical production centres. And in fact emissions have gone down, when measuring in tonnes. So, this came as a surprise to me. It seems that this matter does deserve some attention in general.

Speaking about the environment, we are working on deploying a network of sensors across the country where polluters are especially active. Metallurgical production centres will be first on the list, and the system will be paid for by the companies themselves. I believe we will act accordingly in Magnitogorsk, and we will closely monitor, probably in a more objective manner what is happening there.

Thank you very much.

You know, there was a question earlier, if I may interrupt our presenters, on teachers’ salaries. “A top-category teacher in a rural area working 18 hours, which is full-time employment for a teacher, earns the same salary as a cleaning lady at the same school” – this is what Sergei Stepanchenko wrote us. This is a burning issue. This is why I picked it from this folder with many similar questions.

Do you see what has happened here? I will tell you what happened and what needs to be done.

Why did this happen? We took a decision that the minimum wage cannot be below the subsistence level, which led to an increase in salaries. This led to what you mentioned in your letter: the minimum wage cannot be less than the subsistence level, so the minimum wage went up, and a cleaning lady no longer earns less than minimum wage. She now has a higher salary. This had to be accompanied by an increase in salaries for other categories, but it was not done due to budget constraints. But the government will have to do this regardless. For this reason I would like to draw the Government’s attention to the fact that this state of affairs is far from normal.

Dmitry Peskov: Let us go back to the World Trade Centre. We gave the floor to the most seasoned journalist here, now I want to give the floor to an aspiring journalist. I saw Sergei Shnurov there. Please give him the microphone.

Sergei Shnurov: Good afternoon, Mr President,

Sergei Shnurov, RTVI international channel.

I will leave the high-profile questions about Navalny to my colleagues, I will be nicer this time. Since I work for an international channel, my question is as follows: why did Russian hackers not help Trump get reelected? Have they all gone to the Silicon Valley already? No one is left behind, as you like to say. What kind of job can Trump count on now? Will you provide him with shelter if he asks for political asylum, like Snowden? This was an open-ended question coming from the channel.

Now, a question from me: how can an ordinary Russian, someone representing the majority of the population in our country, describe this life without using profane language?

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the final part of your question. Just go back to the classics of Soviet cinema. Remember, when you have a radiator section land on your foot, you should say, “you dirty so-and-so?” instead of using curse words. Russian is rich enough to let anyone get his or her message across clearly and intelligibly, without resorting to the strong language you referred to.

I want to thank you for not using it now, as you sometimes do, as I understand, from stage, addressing large audiences. Thank you very much for being courteous today.

Why did Russian hackers not help Trump get reelected? I believe that this is not so much a question as a provocation. Russian hackers did not help the incumbent president of the United States to get elected the first time around and did not interfere in the domestic affairs of that great power. This is nothing but speculation and an excuse to degrade relations between Russia and the United States. This is an excuse to not recognise the incumbent US president’s legitimacy for domestic US considerations. In this sense, Russia-US relations have become hostage to domestic politics in the United States.

I believe that, primarily, this is bad for the United States, but it is up to them, let them do as they please. We believe that the president-elect will figure out what is going on. He is a seasoned politician both in domestic and foreign affairs. We look forward to the new administration resolving at least some of the existing problems.

I do not think Mr Trump will need to look for employment. Almost 50 percent of the people voted for him, if you count the number of registered voters, not electors. He relies on a fairly large base in the United States and, as far as I understand, is not going to leave his country’s political scene.

Dmitry Peskov: Let us now turn to Novo-Ogaryovo and the Kremlin pool reporters, who are in the same room with the President.

LIFE, go ahead please.

Alexander Yunashev: Good afternoon, Mr President.

I will take the advice from the young reporter. A number of interesting investigative reports have been released lately, for example, about your daughter, your former son-in-law Shamalov and other people who are allegedly close to you. This week the Alexei Navalny investigation also came out. Could you tell us why a criminal investigation into his poisoning and who did it has not been launched until now?

Vladimir Putin. I see.

It is no surprise that these fake news stories emerge. It has always been this way and always will. There is a battle unfolding in the media space. Nothing new here. Do you remember the terrible developments in the Caucasus and efforts to fight international terrorism? How was yours truly portrayed by the international media and, unfortunately, in Russia as well? Remember how they portrayed me with fangs? I remember all this very well. Still, I have invariably proceeded from the premise that I need to be doing what I believe to be right for our country. When I do something, I do it not for the sake of pleasing someone abroad. This is the first part of my answer.

The second part has to do with my close ones. This report is impossible to read. I flipped through it, since it talks about me, it seems, but it is such a cut-and-paste job, with so many things piling up, that I was unable to finish reading it. What did I want to point out in this regard? The report keeps repeating “the president’s son-in-law” over and over again. At the end, however, he is referred to as the former son-in-law. This is the first thing I wanted to say. Still, in the text they keep driving home the message that he is my son-in-law. So this goes for point one.

The second point is about “President Putin forbidding the elite to hold overseas assets.” There is no ban preventing the elite from holding assets abroad. Public servants cannot have financial assets abroad. This was the right thing to do. They cannot hold accounts or other financial assets abroad. The company in question is 100-percent private. The state does not own a single share in it.

The next question: who received shares in this company and how? It turns out that the company released a statement on this matter and what it thinks about these allegations. The company had a compensation scheme for its senior executives, and Mr Shamalov received stock just like all other senior executives. There are also other programmes for executives at a different level, and they received stock following a different scheme. Nothing special here.

But ultimately, in my opinion, the most important thing is this: just now, aspiring journalist Shnurov asked about our hackers. What is written in the beginning? Note that it says that an unknown, anonymous person is pursuing goals we do not understand and then, apparently, this anonymous person is tracked down. What do I mean? It is said that what happened is similar to the events in 2016 when outlawed Russian hackers associated with Russian military intelligence hacked US Democratic Party members’ emails. Here is your anonymous person. I think we know who that is. Who called these hackers outlaws associated with Russian military intelligence? It was the US Department of State and US intelligence agencies, which are in fact the authors. At any rate, it is completely obvious that it was done upon their instructions. This is the first thing.

The second is that the reference to the insinuation that our hackers, as they believe, interfered with US domestic policy in 2016 means that the purpose of this is clear. The purpose is to take revenge and try to influence public opinion in our country in order to interfere, of course, with our domestic politics. This is absolutely obvious. It is absolutely obvious to me and, I think, it will also become clear to the majority of readers if they pay attention to the things I have just mentioned.

But to this end, I would like to emphasise the following:

One should be driven by… now I want to address those who ordered these publications, not those who actually wrote them. I know that if they get an assignment from intelligence services they have to write it. But those who order these kinds of articles, should not be driven by revenge or act on the assumption of alleged exceptionalism; instead, they should develop relations with their international partners based on mutual respect and the fundamental standards of international law. Then we will be able to achieve shared success in the areas that are essential to all of us.

Now, with regard to the patient of a Berlin clinic. I have already mentioned it many times, and can repeat only certain things. Mr Peskov told me just yesterday about the latest speculations in this regard concerning our special service officers’ data and so on. Listen, we are perfectly aware of what this is all about. It is about legalisation the first time around and now. This is not about an investigation. This is about legalising the materials from the US special services.

Do you really think we are unaware of the fact that they are tracking locations? Our special services understand this well and are aware of it. Officers of the FSB and other special services are aware of it and use telephones whenever they believe they should not be hiding their location, etc. But if this is so – and rest assured that this is so – it means that this patient of a Berlin clinic has the support of the special services, those of the United States in this particular case. And if this is the case, then it gets interesting and the special services should, of course, be looking after him. However, this does not mean at all that he must be poisoned. Who cares about him? If they really wanted to, they would have, most likely, carried it through. His wife addressed me, and I gave the green light to have him treated in Germany that very second.

There is one important thing that the general public is not paying attention to. It is a trick to attack the people at the top. Those who perform it thus propel themselves up to a certain level where they can say: see who I am talking to? I am a person of the same calibre, so treat me as a person of nationwide importance. It is a well-known trick that is used in political dealings around the world.

I think, though, that something else, not these tricks, should be used to gain people’s respect and recognition. You need to prove your worth either by doing something important or by putting together a realistic programme with specific goals that can be implemented in a particular country, Russia, in this particular case.

I urge the opponents to the current government and all political forces in our country to be led not by personal ambitions, but by the interests of the people of the Russian Federation, and to come up with a positive agenda in order to overcome the challenges facing the country. And we have many of them.

Dmitry Peskov: Moving on to Rostov-on-Don.

Go ahead, please.

Aina Nikolayeva: Good afternoon, Mr President. Good afternoon, colleagues.

We are here at Don State Technical University. This is where the staff for the region’s major manufacturers like Rostselmash is educated. But today we have people with a humanities bent, mostly my colleagues, journalists. If you allow me, I will not waste your time anymore and pass the microphone to them.

Sofia Brykanova: Good afternoon.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask a question.

Mr President, I have what has become a traditional question for your news conferences, about Donbass. It is invariably relevant to our region.

Aina Nikolayeva: Please, introduce yourself.

Sofia Brykanova: I am sorry. Sofia Brykanova, Don-24 news agency.

I have the following question: what prospects do you see for settling the conflict in Donbass and what, in your opinion, does the future hold for Russian-Ukrainian relations?

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding the future of Russian-Ukrainian relations, this largely depends on the Ukrainian government, rather than Ukraine itself, I would say. After all, all the preceding heads of state, just as the current one, Vladimir Zelensky, came to power with slogans on unifying the country, which, at the end of the day, included building a relationship with Russia. But they have not been able to deliver on this promise so far. In fact, on their way to power they garner support from a majority of the people and voters, but when they get there, they hesitate and start looking back at the extreme nationalist forces. I think they simply lack the political courage. And the process stalls.

This is what is happening right now, more or less. Thank goodness, when we met in Paris within the Normandy Format, we agreed on ending hostilities. This is holding, which is a major achievement. An exchange of detainees has taken place.

However, there has been no progress in removing economic and social restrictions. In fact, nothing has been done to advance a political settlement. Moreover, officials in Kiev have said time and again that they do not intend to abide by the Minsk agreements and have suggested revising their key provisions.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Minsk agreements have been confirmed by a UN Security Council resolution, which means that they are international law. As such, they cannot be subject to unilateral revision. They have to respect the other side that signed the agreements, namely Donbass representatives.

For these reasons, I believe a settlement is inevitable. It will happen sooner or later. The question is when. Let me reiterate that this largely depends on the current Ukrainian government.

Russia will keep supporting Donbass as it has been. We will even increase our support. This includes supporting manufacturing, resolving social and infrastructural issues, etc. We will calmly proceed in this direction. Make no mistake, we understand the complicated situation in Donbass. Again, we will remain proactively involved not only on the humanitarian front, but also through direct cooperation.

Dmitry Peskov: Now let’s take a question from Nizhny Novgorod. Nizhny Novgorod, please.

Yevgeny Khvan: Good afternoon, Mr President, Mr Peskov.

This is Nizhny Novgorod, the capital of the Volga Federal District. We have more than 70 journalists in our studio today. Of course, I can see everybody holding colourful posters. But allow me, as moderator, to choose a question based on the format of this news conference. Mr Peskov, will you allow me or will you choose yourself?

Dmitry Peskov: Of course, go ahead.

Yevgeny Khvan: Please, colleague with the poster saying “Online.” Since this is an online conference; don’t forget to introduce yourself.

Oleg Kashtanov: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Oleg Kashtanov. Izvestia Mordovii, Saransk.

My question is about online education. This is a widely discussed matter. Last spring, our schools and universities had to switch to distance learning. I would like to know your opinion: do you think our higher education system and our schools tackled this challenge successfully? And could you be very specific? Because people are asking if this online education system is here to stay. And in this difficult time, could it be that the quality of education is declining? And, as a result, are graduates less qualified?

Vladimir Putin: Oleg, look, there should be a distinction between online education in schools and online education in colleges and universities. We have 39,900 schools in the country and only 2 percent are teaching online while a small part are using a mixed format and a major part are operating as normal. As for universities, all of them were asked to consider switching to remote classes.

Regarding schools, I have plenty of notes here on their preparedness and technical capability to administer online learning, and I will talk about this in more detail later when I answer the written questions. But, of course, there are problems. There are problems with hardware because many people don’t have computer equipment. There are also problems with internet access and even access to phones. These difficulties exist, especially in small towns.

What are we going to do? In 2021, all schools in the Russian Federation will be provided with access to high-speed internet. Some schools already have the internet, but in 2021, all schools must have it. This is the first thing.

As for higher education, we have allocated support for universities twice this year, in July and in the autumn, with financial resources to support remote activity. And they are supposed to expand their capabilities in online learning, as independent economic entities, with the government support I just mentioned. This support has been provided twice this year.

Now, on the quality of education. Of course, the online format will never replace a direct face-to-face interaction between students and teachers. At any rate, it will not happen for a long time. I think I do not need to go into detail as everybody understands what I mean. Nevertheless, an online format of education will be used; it exists and, of course, will be developed further both at schools and at universities.

You know, just yesterday I spoke to some colleagues of mine. What can we project for the future? For example, it is not always possible for an expert in a very specific area to be present in several places at once, at several schools. Besides, this expert may be busy with his or her own research. But he or she can teach online. And we should certainly use this opportunity.

To be continued.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin address to G20 member countries

Source

President of Russia Vladimir Putin address to G20 member countries

Vladimir Putin addressed the meeting of the heads of delegations of the G20 member countries, invited states and international organisations.

The summit chaired by Saudi Arabia is held via videoconference on November 21–22.

The forum’s agenda includes issues of tackling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, providing universal access to vaccines, strengthening healthcare systems, global economic recovery and employment, as well as cooperation in the digital economy, fighting climate change, environmental protection and countering corruption.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

The scope of problems humanity has faced in 2020 are truly unprecedented. The coronavirus pandemic, global lockdown and frozen economic activity have launched a systemic economic crisis the world probably has not known since the Great Depression.

The growth of national economies has been severely undermined. The pandemic claimed dozens, hundreds of thousands of lives while millions of people have lost their jobs and incomes.

The main risk, obviously, even despite some positive signals, the main risk remains: mass long-term unemployment, a so-called “stagnant” unemployment with the subsequent growth of poverty and social insecurity. The role of the G20 is to stop this from happening.

Russia highly values Saudi Arabia’s efforts during its G20 Presidency. In the present situation, the forums’ agenda was re-focussed towards global economic recovery and the protection of people’s health and wellbeing.

Drawing on the experience of fighting the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, the G20 launched a number of multilateral initiatives to curb pandemic-related economic risks and to restore business activity including via key global management institutions, namely the United Nations Organisation, the World Health Organisation, IMF, the World Bank and others.

Our countries have designed a package of incentives for the world economy totalling $12 trillion. The US President has spoken now about the US efforts – indeed, it is a very big contribution to the recovery of the American economy, which also means the recovery of the world economy.

We all together facilitated the emergency mobilisation of $21 billion for essential medical needs and gave a start to international cooperation in developing, producing and distributing vaccines.

Like other nations, Russia took unparalleled anti-crisis steps as it gave top priority to the key and fundamental value – people’s lives and health.

To ensure the sustainability of the national economy and maintain social stability, Russia’s Government together with the Bank of Russia are implementing a comprehensive plan of assistance to the population, small and medium-sized businesses and industries in the risk zone. Support was provided to the banking sector and regional budgets, businesses were issued loans while government investments were increased. The current volume of anti-crisis budget support totalled 4.5 percent of the GDP.

The timely adoption of these targeted measures allowed Russia, as well as the majority of developed countries, to mitigate the economic decline, to enhance the healthcare system and get through the hard times without irreparable losses. Both our accumulated reserves and attracting loan resources in the domestic market helped to finance the above measures.

Yet we are aware that the developing economies and some emerging market economies objectively lack such resources. Their fiscal revenues have plunged while the need to allocate considerable funds for fighting the pandemic is growing practically daily. National currency devaluation carries a big risk, and respectively, the cost of servicing on the state debt, primarily for low income countries, which have two thirds of their loans in US dollars.

The IMF and the World Bank rendered significant assistance to developing countries. Following their proposal, G20 made a decision in April to install a temporary moratorium on developing nations’ debt payments. That is certainly a much-needed initiative, but it only covers the poorest countries. It does not include their debt to private creditors and concerns less than four percent of the developing countries’ overall costs of servicing state debt in the current year.

I believe additional measures are needed to prevent the deterioration of the situation and the growth of economic and social inequality.

Urgent issues that have accumulated in international trade also need to be addressed. Thus, it is necessary to try to contain protectionism, to abandon the practice of unilateral sanctions and to resume delivery chains. We spoke about this just yesterday at another international platform, APEC.

Adjustment of multilateral universal trade rules to e-commerce (much needs to be done in this area) and other new economic realities are also on the agenda.

On the whole, the G20 should continue searching for new approaches to reforming the World Trade Organisation to meet present-day challenges. This task defies a solution without a stable and effective multilateral trade system, but at present, there is no alternative to the World Trade Organisation.

Russia supports the draft key decision of the current summit aimed at making effective and safe vaccines accessible for everyone. Undoubtedly, immunisation drugs are and must be universal public domain. Our country, Russia, is ready to provide the countries in need with the vaccines developed by our researchers. This is the world’s first registered vaccine Sputnik V, based on human adenoviral vectors platform. The second Russian vaccine, EpiVacCorona from a Novosibirsk research centre, is also ready. The third Russian vaccine is coming.

The scale of the pandemic compels us to engage all the resources and research available. Our common goal is to form portfolios of vaccines and ensure reliable protection for the planet’s population. It means that there will be enough work for everyone, colleagues, and I think it is a case when competition may be inevitable but we must proceed primarily from humanitarian considerations and make it a priority.

Let me stress – this crisis must become an opportunity to alter the trajectory of global development, preserve the favourable environment and climate, ensure equal conditions for all nations and peoples, build up effective tools of multilateral cooperation and key international institutions while drawing upon the UN Charter and universally accepted norms and principles of international law. We see this approach to solving global issues as the key task and responsibility of the G20 as the main forum of the world’s leading economies.

Colleagues, I would like to once again thank the hosts of today’s event, Saudi Arabia. Thank you for your attention.

Global Capitalism, “World Government” and the Corona Crisis

When the Lie Becomes the Truth There is No Moving Backwards

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, August 27, 2020

Global Research 1 May 2020

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. (President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961)

***

The World is being misled concerning the causes and consequences of the corona crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis is marked by a public health “emergency” under WHO auspices which is being used as a pretext and a  justification to triggering a Worldwide process of economic, social and political restructuring. 

Social engineering is being applied. Governments are pressured into extending the lockdown, despite its devastating economic and social consequences.

What is happening is unprecedented in World history. 

Prominent scientists support the lockdown without batting an eyelid, as a “solution” to a global health emergency.

Amply documented, the estimates of the COVID-19 infection including mortality data are grossly manipulated. 

In turn, people are obeying their governments. Why? Because they are afraid? 

Causes versus solutions?

The closing down of national economies applied Worldwide will inevitably result in poverty, mass unemployment and an increase in mortality.

It’s an act of economic warfare.  It’s an unspoken crime against humanity.

Stage One: Trade War against China

On January  30, 2020 the WHO Director General determined that the coronavirus outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The decision was taken on the basis of 150 confirmed cases outside China, First cases of person to person transmission: 6 cases in the US, 3 cases in Canada, 2 in the UK.

The WHO Director General had the backing of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Big Pharma and the World Economic Forum (WEF). The decision for the WHO to declare a Global Emergency was taken on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland  (January 21-24).

One day later (January 31) following the launch of the WHO Global Emergency, The Trump administration announced that it will deny entry to foreign nationals “who have traveled in China in the last 14 days”. This immediately triggered a crisis in air transportation, China-US trade as well as the tourism industry. Italy followed suit, cancelling all flights to China on January 31.

The first stage was accompanied by the disruption of trade relations with China as well as a partial closedown of export manufacturing sector.

A campaign was immediately launched against China as well ethnic Chinese. The Economist reported that

“The coronavirus spreads racism against and among ethnic Chinese”

“Britain’s Chinese community faces racism over coronavirus outbreak”

According to the SCMP:

“Chinese communities overseas are increasingly facing racist abuse and discrimination amid the coronavirus outbreak. Some ethnic Chinese people living in the UK say they experienced growing hostility because of the deadly virus that originated in China.”

And this phenomenon is happening all over the U.S.

Stage Two: The Financial Crash Spearheaded by Fear and Stock Market Manipulation

A global financial crisis unfolded in the course of the month of February culminating in a dramatic collapse of stock market values as well as a major decline in the value of crude oil.

This collapse was manipulated. It was the object of insider trading and foreknowledge. The fear campaign played a key role in the implementation of the stock market crash. In February, roughly $6 trillion have been wiped off the value of stock markets Worldwide. Massive losses of personal savings (e.g. of average Americans) have occurred not to mention corporate failures and bankruptcies. It was a bonanza for institutional speculators including corporate hedge funds. The financial meltdown has led to sizeable transfers of money wealth into the pockets of a handful of financial institutions.

Stage Three: Lockdown, Confinement, Closing Down of  the Global Economy

The financial crash in February was immediately followed by the lockdown in early March. The lockdown and confinement supported by social engineering was instrumental in the restructuring of the global economy. Applied almost simultaneously in a large number countries, the lockdown has triggered the closing down of the national economy, coupled with the destabilization of trade, transport and investment activities.

The pandemic constitutes an act of economic warfare against humanity which has resulted in global poverty and mass unemployment.

Politicians are lying. Neither the lockdown nor the closing down of national economies constitute a solution to the public health crisis.

Who Controls the Politicians?

Why are politicians lying?

They are the political instruments of the financial establishment including the “Ultra-rich philanthropists”. Their task is to carry out the global economic restructuring project which consists in freezing economic activity Worldwide.

In the case of the Democrats in the US, they are largely concerned in opposing the reopening of the US economy as part of the 2020 election campaign. This opposition to reopening the national and global economies is supported by “Big Money”.

Is it opportunism or stupidity? In all major regions of the World, politicians have been instructed by powerful financial interests to retain the lockdown and prevent the re-opening of the national economy.

The fear campaign prevails. Social distancing is enforced. The economy is closed down.  Totalitarian measures are being imposed. According to Dr. Pascal Sacré

… in some countries, patients can leave hospital by agreeing to wear an electronic bracelet. This is only a sample of all the totalitarian measures planned or even already decided by our governments in favor of the coronavirus crisis. It goes much further, it’s limitless and it affects a good part of the world, if not the whole world.
.

The “Herding Instincts” of Politicians

Are corrupt governments acting like “police dogs” with “herding instincts” going after their sheep.

Is “the herd” too scared to go after their “government”?

The analogy may be simplistic but nonetheless considered relevant by psychologists.

“Some breeds of dogs [corrupt politicians] have herding instincts that can be brought out with the right training and encouragement [bribes]. …. teach your dog [political proxy] basic obedience and see if it [he, she] displays herding tendencies. … Always look for a trainer who uses reward-based training methods [bribes, personal gain, political support, accession to high office]” (How to Teach Your Dog to Herd)

But there is another dimension. Politicians in high office responsible for “convincing their herd” actually believe the lies which are being imposed upon them by higher authority.

The lie becomes the truth. Politicians endorse the consensus, they enforce “social engineering”, they believe in their own lies.

It’s Not an Epidemic, It’s An Operation

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo  (slip of the tongue) tacitly admits in a somewhat contradictory statement that the COVID-19 is a “Live Exercise”, an “Operation”:

“This is not about retribution,… This matter is going forward — we are in a live exercise here to get this right.”

To which president Trump retorted “you should have told us”.

Those words will go down in history.

Geopolitics

Let us be under no illusions, this is a carefully planned operation. There is nothing spontaneous or accidental. Economic recession is engineered at national and global levels. In turn, this crisis is also integrated into US-NATO military and intelligence planning. It is intent not only upon weakening China, Russia and Iran, it also consists in destabilizing the economic fabric of the European Union (EU).

“Global Governance”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is david-rockefeller.jpg

A new stage in the evolution of global capitalism is unfolding. A system of  “Global Governance” controlled by powerful financial interests including corporate foundations and Washington think tanks oversees decision-making at both the national and global levels. National governments become subordinate to “Global Governance”. The concept of World Government was raised by the late David Rockefeller at the Bilderberger Meeting, Baden Germany, June 1991: “We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. … It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.” (quoted by Aspen Times, August 15, 2011, emphasis added) .In his Memoirs David Rockefeller states: .“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure, one world if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” (Ibid) .The Global Governance scenario imposes a totalitarian agenda of social engineering and economic compliance. It constitutes an extension of the neoliberal policy framework imposed on both developing and developed countries. It consists in scrapping “national autodetermination” and constructing a Worldwide nexus of pro-US proxy regimes controlled by a “supranational sovereignty” (World Government) composed of leading financial institutions, billionaires and their philanthropic foundations. .

The 2010 Rockefeller Foundation’s  “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development Area” produced together with Global Business Monitoring Network, GBN) had already outlined the features of  Global Governance and the actions to be taken in relation to a Worldwide Pandemic.  The Rockefeller Foundation proposes the use of scenario planning as a means to carry out “global governance”.

The Report envisages (p 18) a simulation of a Lock Step scenario including a global virulent influenza strain:

.

“LOCK STEP: A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s H1N1, this new influenza strain—originating from wild geese—was extremely virulent and deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared nations were quickly overwhelmed when the virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly 20 percent of the global population and killing. 8 million in just seven months”

It is worth noting that this simulation was envisaged in the year following the 2009 H1N1 Swine flu Pandemic, which was revealed to be a totally corrupt endeavor under the auspices of the WHO in liaison the Big Pharma which developed a multibillion dollar vaccine program. (Remember the “Fake” 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating the Data to Justify a Worldwide Public Health Emergency By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, May 02, 2020) 

“World Government”

Instructions are transmitted to national governments worldwide.  The fear campaign plays a crucial role in building acceptance and social submission to this “supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and bankers”.

Global governance establishes a consensus which is then imposed on “sovereign” national governments Worldwide, described by David Rockefeller as “national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”.  Essentially, this is an extended form of “regime change”.

Thousands of politicians and officials must be convinced and/or bribed for this operation to succeed. It’s an unsubtle form of “political arm twisting” (while respecting “social distancing”).

The decision to close down the global economy with a view to “saving lives” has not only been accepted as a means to combating the virus, it has been sustained by media disinformation and the fear campaign.

People do not question the consensus, a consensus which borders on the absurd.

.

Global Capitalism and “The Economic Landscape”

The crisis redefines the structure of the global economic landscape. It destabilizes small and medium sized enterprises Worldwide, it  precipitates entire sectors of the global economy including air travel, tourism, retail trade, manufacturing, etc. into bankruptcy.  The lockdown creates famine in developing countries. It has geopolitical implications.

The Pentagon and US intelligence are involved. The corona crisis affects to conduct of US-NATO led wars in the Middle East including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and Yemen. It is also used to target specific countries including Iran and Venezuela.

This engineered crisis is unprecedented in world history. It is an act of war.

The lockdown triggers a process of disengagement of human and material resources from the productive process. The real economy is brought to a standstill. Curtailing economic activity undermines the “reproduction of real life”. This not only pertains to the actual production of the “necessities of life” (food, health, education, housing) it also pertains to the “reproduction” of  social relations, political institutions, culture, national identity. At the time of writing, the lockdown is not only triggering an economic crisis, it is also undermining and destroying the very fabric of civil society not to mention the nature of government and the institutions of the state (crippled by mounting debts), which will eventually be privatized under the supervision of Big Money creditors.

There are conflicts within the capitalist system which are rarely addressed by the mainstream media. Billionaires, powerful banking and financial institutions (which are creditors of both governments and corporations) are waging an undeclared war against the real economy. Whereas the Big Money financial and banking establishment are “creditors”, the  corporate entities of the real economy which are being destabilized and driven into bankruptcy are “debtors”.

Bankruptcies

This diabolical process is not limited to wiping out small and medium sized enterprises. Big Money is also the creditor of  large corporations (including airlines, hotel chains, hi tech labs, retailers, import-export firms, etc.) which are now on the verge of bankruptcy.

The global financial establishment is not monolithic. It is marked by divisions and rivalry. The dominant Big Money faction seeks to destabilize its competitors from within. The results of which would be a string of  bankruptcies of regional and national banking institutions as well as a process of global financial consolidation.

In the US, numerous retailers, airlines, restaurant and hotel chains filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February. But this is just the beginning. The big gush of bankruptcies will occur in the wake of the lockdown (“The New Normal”). And at the time of writing, the financial establishment is relentlessly pressuring (corrupt) national governments to postpone the lifting of the lockdown. And the governments are telling us that this is to “protect people against the virus”.

Canada’s province of Alberta which is largely dependent on oil revenues is bankrupt.

“Countries that represent over 50 per cent of the world’s global GDP are closed for business. Economists looking for historical comparisons mention the 1929 stock crash, the 1974 economic crisis or the 2008 recession. But they admit that these all fall short of the toll that this pandemic could have.” (Wired News UK, April 29, 2020

In Britain, recent reports state (It’s very British”) “we do not know how many have gone bankrupt”.

A chunk of Britain’s business landscape may have already been permanently erased, as some 21,000 more UK businesses collapsed in March alone than the same month a year ago, according to data gathered by the Enterprise Research Centre, a group of university researchers.

What these reports fail to mention are the unspoken causes: a fear campaign on behalf of the creditors, instructions by corrupt governments to close down the economy, allegedly to “save lives”, which is a big lie. Lives are not being saved, and they know it.

The coronavirus crisis “has ground U.S. business to a halt”. National economies are destabilized. The objective of Big Money is to weaken their competitors, “pick up the pieces” and eventually buy out or eliminate bankrupt corporations. And there are many to choose from.

Global Finance Capitalism

The interests of Big Money (global financial interests) overlap with those of Big Pharma, Big Oil, The Media, The Telecoms, the Defense contractors, etc. Major banking institutions in the US including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, State Street Co. and Goldman Sachs, are investing in the war economy including the development of nuclear weapons under Trump’s 1.2 trillion dollar nuclear weapons program (first established under Obama). 

The ultimate objective of “Big Money” is to transform nation states (with their own institutions and a national economy) into “open economic territories”. That was the fate of Iraq and Afghanistan. But now you can do it without sending in troops, by simply ordering subservient proxy governments integrated by corrupt politicians to close down their economy on humanitarian grounds, the so-called “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) without the need for military intervention.

Impossible to estimate or evaluate. More than half the global economy is disrupted or at a standstill.

Let’s be clear. This is an imperial agenda. What do the global financial elites want? To privatize the State? To own and privatize the entire planet?

The tendency is towards the centralization and concentration of economic power. Heavily indebted national governments are instruments of Big Money. They are proxies. Key political appointments are controlled by lobby groups representing Wall Street, The Military Industrial Complex, Big Pharma, Big Oil, the Corporate Media and the Digital Communications Giants, etc.

Big Money in Europe and America (through Washington Lobby groups) seek to control national governments.

In what direction are we going? What is the future of humanity? The current corona crisis is a sophisticated imperial project, which consists in Worldwide domination by a handful of multibillion dollar conglomerates. Is this World War III? Global capitalism is destroying national capitalism.

The unspoken intent of global capitalism is the destruction of the nation state and its institutions leading to global poverty on an unprecedented scale.

The following citation by Lenin dated December 1915 at the height of the First World War pointed with foresight to some of the contradictions which we are presently facing. On the other hand, we should understand that there are no easy solutions and that this crisis is intended to reinforce imperialism and the clutch of global capitalism:
.

“There is no doubt that the development is going in the direction of a single World trust which will swallow up all enterprises and all states without exception. But the development in this direction is proceeding under such stress, with such a tempo, with such contradictions, conflicts and convulsions not only economical, but political national, etc. etc — that before a single world trust will be reached, before the respective financial national capitals will have formed a “World Union” of ultra imperialism, imperialism will explode and capitalism will turn into its opposite.

(V. I. Lenin, Introduction to Imperialism and World Economy by N, Bukharin, Martin Lawrence, London, printed in the US, Russian Edition, November 1917)

How to reverse the tide. The first priority is to repeal the lie.

In this regard, it is unfortunate that many people who are “progressive” (including prominent Left intellectuals) are –despite the lies–  supportive of the lockdown and closing down of the economy as a solution to the public health emergency. That’s the stance of the Democratic Party in the US, which goes against common sense.

Truth is a powerful weapon for repealing the lies of the corporate media and the governments.

When the Lie Becomes the Truth There is No Moving Backwards

Without the fear campaign and media propaganda, the actions taken by our governments would not have a leg to stand on.

“Social Distancing” does not prevent the financial elites from providing instructions to corrupt politicians.

On the other hand, “social distancing” combined with confinement is being used as a means of social subordination. It prevents people from meeting as well as protesting this so-called New World Order.

Organization, Truth and Solidarity are essential to reversing the tide. The first step of a worldwide movement is “counter-propaganda”.


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By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, April 25, 2020The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

حالة الانكشاف

سعادة مصطفى ارشيد

تمر العلاقات الدولية عالمياً في حال متغيّرة، تفرضها من جانب قوانين التغير والحركة والتطور دائمة الدوران، ومن جانب آخر عوامل مساعدة منها جائحة كورونا التي تجاوز عدد ضحاياها نصف المليون نفس بشرية، وعدد المصابين بالفيروس قد قفز عن حاجز الاثني عشر مليوناً، والأعداد في تزايد مستمر. ومع دخول الجائحة طوراً ثانياً اعتبرته منظمة الصحة العالمية أكثر ضراوة، نلاحظ أنها تجاوزت في عدوانها الإنسان وسلامته لتصيب وتعطل الدورة الاقتصادية من صناعة وتجارة وزراعة في طول العالم وعرضه؛ الأمر الذي قاد إلى معدلات بطالة مرتفعة حتى في المجتمعات الصناعية النشطة وكساد اقتصادي وانهيار في أسعار النفط ومعظم السلع وأثر بدوره على الرعاية الاجتماعيّة والنظم الصحيّة اللاهثة وراء الجائحة.

دفع كل ذلك دول العالم للانكفاء إلى دواخلها، وإلى البحث عن حلول لما تعانيه بشكل منفرد، والتفكير بأساليب الحماية والاكتفاء الداخلي (الذاتي) وإعادة التفكير باتفاقيات التجارة الحرة وضريبة القيمة المضافة، وظهر الوهن على المنظمات العابرة للقومية، كالاتحاد الأوروبي الذي فشل في معالجة الجائحة كاتحاد وترك إيطاليا وإسبانيا واليونان تعالج كل منها جراحها بشكل منفرد فيما رأت ألمانيا أن أولوياتها ألمانية بحتة، نتيجة لذلك أخذت دول الاتحاد تتلمس طرقها القومية القديمة بمعزل عن القوميات الشريكة لها في الاتحاد الأوروبي. فبدأت الدولة الإيطالية طريق العودة إلى إيطاليتها وإسبانيا إلى إسبانيتها وكذلك ألمانيا بمعزل عن المشروع الإقليمي.

وإذا كان العالم يمرّ في هذا المخاض المأزوم، فإن العالم العربي يمرّ بما هو أدهى وأمرّ. حاله غير مسبوقة من السيولة وأبواب أمن قومي مشرّعة لا حارس لها، في المشرق العربي استطالت الأزمة السورية، وإن كانت ملامح نهايتها بادية، إلا أن الأعداء لا زال لديهم من الأوراق ما يطيل في عمرها. ولبنان يترنّح تحت ضغط سعر صرف الليرة مقابل الدولار، والدولة تعاقب القاضي الفاضل الذي أنفذ القانون بالطلب من سفيرة الولايات المتحدة عدم التدخل في شؤونه الداخلية. العراق يعيش حالة تقسيم بادية للعيان، والأردن يعاني من التغول الإسرائيلي بالضفة الغربية. الأمر الذي يمثل تهديداً وجودياً له، فيما تكشف تصريحات رئيس وزراء أسبق عما يدور في العقل السياسي لبعض جماعة الحكم، ولمن رسم شكل الأردن في مرحلة ما بعد عام 1994 (اتفاقية وادي عربة)، وفلسطين التي تعارض رسمياً قرار نتنياهو بضمّ ثلث الضفة الغربية، إلا أنها لا تملك من الآليات وأدوات الضغط ما يحول دون ذلك، هذا وإن تفاءل البعض من المؤتمر الصحافي المشترك لقياديين من فتح وحماس، إلا أن المؤتمر الصحافي لم يتطرق للبحث في الآليات أو في إنهاء حالة الانقسام البشع أو الاتفاق على برنامج حد أدنى واقتصر على مجاملات متبادلة. وعملية الضمّ من شأنها تقطيع ما تبقى من الضفة الغربية إلى ثلاثة معازل منفصلة بالواقع الاستيطاني الذي سيتم ضمة ويحول دون قيام دولة أو شبه دولة في الضفة الغربية. اليمن يصمد ويقاوم بأكلاف عالية، فيما الكورونا والفساد يضربان كل هذه المجتمعات.

الأوضاع في غرب العالم العربي تفوق خطورة وتهافت الأوضاع في مشرقه على صعوبتها، فحالة السيولة وأبواب الأمن القومي المشرّعة، خاصة في ليبيا ومصر والسودان. ليبيا اليوم مسرح وساحة مفتوحة للفرنسيين والأتراك فيما تلعب مصر دوراً ملحقاً بالفرنسيين بدلاً من أن يكون العكس، وأصبحت ليبيا مصدر خطر على مصر من خاصرتها الغربية التي لم تكن عبر تاريخ مصر الطويل تمثل تهديداً لأمنها القومي، فلم يحدث أن غُزيت مصر من الغرب إلا مرة واحدة على يد المعز لدين الله الفاطمي.

طيلة عقود تحاشت مصر الاهتمام بمسائل الأمن القومي، وهي التي رسمت أولى ملامح نظريات الجغرافية السياسية والاستراتيجية وضرورات الأمن القومي بالاشتراك الصدامي مع اتحاد الدول الكنعانية وذلك في القرن الخامس عشر قبل الميلاد في معركة مجدو الشهيرة بقيادة مملكتي قادش ومجدو، حيث رأى الفرعون المصري أن أمن بلاده يبدأ من مرج إبن عامر، فيما رأى التحالف الكنعاني أن أمن اتحادهم يبدأ من غرب سيناء. تطوّرت نظرية الأمن القومي المصري لاحقاً لتضيف عنصراً ثانياً وهو نهر النيل وفيضانه ومنابعه. هذه الرؤية الاستراتيجية سكنت العقل السياسي المصري وعقل كل مَن توالى على حكم مصر منذ تحتمس الثالث حتى عهد الرئيس الأسبق أنور السادات.

منذ تسلم السادات حكم مصر بدأ العمل على إخراج مصر من عالمها العربي، وقد أخذت ملامح هذا الدور تتبدّى خلال حرب تشرين، بمحادثات فك الارتباط بمعزل عن دمشق، ثم ما لبث أن أخذ شكله الصريح عام 1977 في زيارة السادات المشؤومة للقدس وتوقيع اتفاقية كامب دافيد في العام التالي، ثم الترويج لذلك الانقلاب على الاستراتيجيا بالتنظير أن العالم العربي كان عبئاً على مصر التي تستطيع بالتخفف منه الانطلاق في عوالم السوق الرأسمالي والتطور والازدهار وتحقيق الرخاء، ولم تلتفت تلك التنظيرات إلى أن علاقة مصر مع العالم العربي تكاملية يحتاج فيها كل منهما أن يكون ظهيراً للآخر. هذه المدرسة أنتجت ورثة السادات، ومنهم مَن أيّد بحماس تدمير العراق واحتلاله، وتواطأ على الجناح الشرقي للأمن القومي في سورية، وافتعل معارك لا لزوم لها حول منطقة حلايب مع السودان، ولم يلتفت – ولا زال – لخطورة الاعتراف بدولة جنوب السودان التي يمرّ من أراضيها النيل الأبيض، واستمر بعلاقات عدائية مع إثيوبيا التي ينبع من هضبتها النيل الأزرق، ولم يستقبل من أمره ما استدبر لإيقاف مشروع سد النهضة أو للتفاهم مع إثيوبيا بالدبلوماسية أو بغيرها طيلة عقد من الزمن كانت الشركات الإسرائيلية والأميركية تنفذ خلاله مشروع بناء ذلك السد، ولم تستشعر أجهزة أمنه أن خمس مؤسسات مالية مصرية قد استثمرت في السندات الإثيوبية التي موّلت بناء السد الذي قد يحرم مصر من سرّ وجودها، وقد قيل قديماً أن مصر هبة النيل.

في شرق مصر تم إهمال الخاصرة الشرقية التي حددها تحتمس الثالث وسار على هديها كل من أتى من بعده، فلم يتم ايلاء شبه جزيرة سيناء أي اهتمام وتمّ استثناؤها من مشاريع التنمية والرعاية الحكومية، هذا الإهمال والتجاهل الذي هدف إلى إفراغها من كثير من سكانها إرضاء لتل أبيب عاد على مصر بنتائج عكسية إذ خلق بيئة رطبة ومناسبة لجراثيم الإرهاب والتطرف، في حين انصبّ اهتمام الدولة في مرحلة ما قبل الربيع الزائف على بناء حاجز تحت الأرض يحول دون إمداد غزة بحاجاتها الأساسية، وفي العهد الحالي تم إغراق الأنفاق الغزيّة بمياه البحر وإقامة جدار مكهرب فوق الأرض، وكأن المهم أمن «إسرائيل» لا أمن مصر القومي.

مصر التي نحبّ في خطر، وهذا الخطر لا يصيبها منفردة وإنما بالشراكة مع كامل المحيط العربي، مصر لم يهزمها الغرباء والأعداء ولا الجهات الخارجية أو المؤامرات الأجنبية، وإنما هزمها مَن قدّم أولوية البقاء في الحكم على حسابات الاستراتيجية والأمن القومي، ومن جعل الأمن القومي ضحيّة لأمن النظام.

لك الله يا مصر.

*سياسيّ فلسطينيّ مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

VIDEO: The 2020 Economic Crisis. Global Poverty, Unemployment and Despair

Source

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 30, 2020

We are living one of the most serious crises in modern history. 

According to Michel Chossudovsky, the coronavirus pandemic is used as a pretext and a justification to close down the global economy, as a means to resolving a public health concern.  

A complex decision-making process is instrumental in the closing down of national economies Worldwide. We are led to believe that the lockdown is the solution.

Politicians and health officials in more than 150 countries obey orders emanating from higher authority.

In turn millions of people obey the orders of their governments without questioning the fact that closing down an economy is not the solution but in fact the cause of  global poverty and unemployment. 

What we are dealing with is a crime against humanity.

Fear, intimidation, media disinformation prevail. The Lie has become the Truth

This is an imperial project emanating from powerful economic interests.

A global fear campaign is sustained by the media. And now a so-called second wave is envisaged.

The social and economic impacts are beyond description.


FULL TRANSCRIPT

The 2020 Economic Crisis. Global Poverty, Unemployment and Despair
By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

June 30, 2020

We are undoubtedly living (in) one of the most serious economic and social and crises in modern history. In some regards, we are living history and we are unable to comprehend the logic of the corona virus pandemic.

What is at stake is the pretext and the justification for closing down national economies worldwide based on a public health concern.

We have to understand the causalities. Closing down an economy, nationally and globally does NOT resolve the pandemic. In fact, it creates a situation of INSTITUTIONAL INSTABILITY.

It also results in massive unemployment, confinement of people in their homes, without employment, without food . . . That is what we’re living.

There is NO justification for closing down national economies based on a public health concern, which can be resolved, and SHOULD be resolved!

There is a very complex decision-making process, which has been PLANNED WELL IN ADVANCE. From ‘central authority’, governments are instructed to close down their economies and then, in turn, the governments instruct people to implement social engineering, not to meet, not to have family reunions . . .

And, essentially, what we do not understand, and which is fundamental, is that economic activity is the basis for the reproduction of real life. By that I mean, institutions, purchasing power of families, a whole series of activities, which have developed in the course of history – economic activity constitutes the foundation of all societies.

And what these measures have resulted in is a massive crisis, in which particularly small and medium sized enterprises are being precipitated into bankruptcy, millions of people have become unemployed, and in many countries this has resulted in mass poverty, famine, among certain groups of the population.

We have ample evidence to this effect and we have to understand that this process of closing down national economies is deliberate. IT’S A PLAN.

And, it’s co-ordinated with the financial crisis which took place in the month of February (2020), which led to massive collapse in banking institutions, stock markets and so on. Economists, conventional economists, have a tendency to say that there’s no relationship between the corona pandemic crisis and the financial crash in February. That is utterly mistaken. The fear campaign, the disinformation campaign, have facilitated the MANIPULATION OF STOCK MARKETS. And we’re (I’m) talking about the use of very sophisticated derivatives, speculative instruments and so on.

What is now happening is that governments have been indebted up to their ears. They’re paying out compensation to companies which have been affected; in some cases it’s generous bailouts, in other cases it’s part of a social safety net coming to the rescue of workers and small-scale enterprises.

And the next stage is the MOST SERIOUS DEBT CRISIS IN WORLD HISTORY. In other words, the levels of employment have crashed and companies are bankrupt. We will have a fiscal crisis of the state. In other words, a dramatic decline in (income) tax revenues due to the collapse in employment, and the  companies (which have not gone bankrupt) are going to deduct corporate losses, of course (on their tax statements). How will the governments around the world continue to govern, finance social programs and so on?

It will ultimately be through a gigantic global debt operation implemented both in the so-called ‘developed’ countries – e.g. Italy, France, United States, Canada – and in the developing countries where it will be more the international financial institutions, the World Bank, the IMF, the regional development banks.

Now, the problem of Western governments is that that debt is NOT REPAYABLE. The Italian government has issued bonds with the support of Goldman Sachs and so on; that was done a couple of months back. And what has happened? Italy’s debt is categorized (by Standard and Poor). . . these Italian bonds, are classified ‘BB’, which essentially means junk bond status. In other words, that means that an entire state apparatus is now in the hands of the creditors. And these creditors are the financial institutions, the banks and so on.

And the next stage is ultimately the confiscation of the State! THE STATE WILL BE PRIVATIZED. All the programs will be under the helm of the creditors. We can say, “Goodbye” to the welfare state in Western Europe. Why? Because the creditors will immediately, following what they did in Greece a few years back . . . they will immediately impose austerity measures, and the privatization of social programs, the privatization of anything that can be privatized – cities, land, public buildings.

And, in other words, we are living a very important evolution because the State, as we know it, will no longer exist. It will be run by private banking interests, who will . . . and they’re already doing that . . . APPOINT their governments, or their politicians, their corrupt politicians, and essentially they will take over the whole political landscape.

That is happening in a number of countries. And in some countries they have even instructed the governments NOT to debate (in parliament) the enormous debts which have been accumulated in the last few months as a result of the pandemic, which now are the object of financing by these powerful financial institutions. In Canada there was an agreement between Prime Minister Trudeau on the one hand and the leader of the opposition – NO DEBATE in parliament on $150 billion of debt, which then has to be covered through public debt operations and loans from financial institutions.

And essentially the scenario that we are living. . . which is unfolding is that, on the one hand, the real economy in the course of the last few months starting in March, well, in fact, starting in February with the stock market crash is in a state of crisis, production activity has been affected, trade has been affected. Millions and millions of people are going to be unemployed, without earnings, and it’s not only poverty – it’s poverty and despair. It’s the marginalization of large sectors of the world population from the labour market. There are figures on that, published by the ILO (International Labour Organization) that in fact, at this stage, it is premature to even start estimating these impacts.

We can look at it country by country. We can see, for instance, that in developing countries the informal sector, let’s say in India or in certain countries in Latin America, (such as) Peru, a large sector of the labour force is involved in what is called the ‘informal sector’; self-employed, small-scale industries and so on. Well, this has been COMPLETELY WIPED OUT and the people affected are left very often, homeless. The only choice they have is to do it to go back to their home villages and in the process they are the victims of famine and a situation of TOTAL MARGINALIZATION.

That is the scenario. It’s beyond global poverty. It’s mass unemployment. It is something which has been ENGINEERED, it’s not something which is accidental. And it’s certainly not something which has been used to resolve a global health crisis.

The global health crisis pertaining to covid has been MULTIPLIED. People have been confined, they have fallen sick, they have lost their jobs, and at the same time the whole health apparatus has been in crisis, unable to function.

What we have to understand is that this process HAS TO BE CONFRONTED! There has to be an organized opposition. This is a neo-liberal project! It’s neo-liberalism to the extreme.

Now, bear in mind that today, what we have, (is that) in some regards, the stock market crash used speculative instruments, insider trading, but also the fear campaign to implement what is THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TRANSFER OF WEALTH IN WORLD HISTORY! In other words, everybody loses money in the stock market crash and the money goes into the hands of, you know, a limited number of billionaires. And there have been estimates as to the enrichment of this class in the course of the last three months. I won’t get into details. So that, this, in a sense, this crisis of February, the stock market crisis, sets the stage for the lockdown.

And on (the topic of) the lockdown, we can call it by another name. The lockdown is the CLOSURE OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY! It is an act which instructs national governments to close down their economy, and they obey! That’s what we call, ‘global governance’. But it’s an imperial project. They obey and they close down everything.

And then they they try to convince their citizens that this is all for a good cause, we are closing down the economy so that we can save lives due to covid-19. That is a very strong statement and at the same time the statistics on covid-19 are the source of manipulation.

I won’t get into that particular dimension but I can say in all certitude that the impact of this crisis is so dramatic, the economic crisis, that it DOESN’T COMPARE to the impact of covid-19, which, according even to people like Anthony Fauci, is comparable to the seasonal influenza. They’ve written that in their peer-reviewed articles.

What they say online, on CNN is a different matter. But they do not consider covid-19 as an ultimate danger of all dangers. It’s not. There are many other health pandemics affecting the world. That does not mean that we shouldn’t take it seriously but we should understand, it’s common sense, it’s not by closing down the global economy that you’re going to resolve this pandemic.

So somebody’s lying, somewhere. And in fact, the lies are ‘becoming the truth’, they’re becoming part of the ‘consensus’ and THAT IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

Because when the lie becomes ‘the truth’, there’s no turning backwards.

And we notice how independent scientists, independent analysts, are being CENSORED,  that we have many doctors and nurses and scientists, virologists as well as economists who are speaking out. And you just have to look at the figures, the millions and millions of people who are unemployed as a result of this.

So, what we really need is a historical understanding of what’s going on, because closing down the economy through orders from ‘somewhere up there’ . . .

First of all, it’s DISTINCT FROM ANY PREVIOUS CRISIS. But secondly, we have to RESIST THAT MODEL. And it’s not by changing the paradigm, no. It’s a mass movement; it’s a mass movement against our governments, it’s a mass movement against the architects of this diabolical project . . .

And we can’t ask the Rockefellers, “Please lend us the money” to pay for our expenses, we have to do that on our own.

And that’s why all these NGOs, which are funded by corporate foundations Cannot  . . . I’m not saying . . . some of the things they do are fine but they cannot wage a campaign against those who are sponsoring them, that’s an impossibility.

So we have to implement a grassroots movement, nationally and internationally, to CONFRONT THIS DIABOLICAL PROJECT and to restore our national economies, our national institutions. And, to DENY THE LEGITIMACY OF THE DEBT PROJECT. And to investigate the elements of corruption which have led to this diabolical adventure, which is affecting humanity in its entirety.

This is a war against humanity, implemented through complex economic instruments.

Goodbye and we will continue our battle and our analysis to the best of our abilities at Global Research.

***

Our thanks to Chris Green for the Transcript of the above video.

CAPS indicate emphasis


The Globalization of Poverty and the New World OrderThe Globalization of Poverty: Deconstructing the New World Order

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Reviews:

“This concise, provocative book reveals the negative effects of imposed economic structural reform, privatization, deregulation and competition. It deserves to be read carefully and widely.”
– Choice, American Library Association (ALA)

“The current system, Chossudovsky argues, is one of capital creation through destruction. The author confronts head on the links between civil violence, social and environmental stress, with the modalities of market expansion.”
– Michele Stoddard, Covert Action Quarterly

CLICK HERE FOR A SPECIAL INSIDE LOOK AT THE PREFACE

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca. He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

The original source of this article is Global

ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

الغياب التدريجي للعصر الأميركي أصبح قريباً

د. وفيق إبراهيم

غياب الدول يبتدئ بمؤشرات وهنٍ تظهر بشكل تدريجي ككل كائن، فتفتك بصاحبها حتى يتولاه التاريخ ويسجنه في صفحاته الصفراء.

هكذا حال الولايات المتحدة الأميركية التي تسطع منذ 1945 وتضع يدها منذ ثلاثة عقود على العالم بأسره بما يحتويه من سياسة واقتصاد وثقافة.

هذه الإمبراطورية تتعرّض اليوم لانتفاضة ضخمة من أقلياتها السوداء التي تشعر بغبن جراء ثقافة عنصريّة تشكل اساس النظام التاريخي الأميركي مع حرمان اقتصادي يجمّدها في أسفل السلم الاجتماعي وتدهور إضافي بسبب جائحة كورونا أوصل العاطلين عن العمل الى 50 مليوناً تقريباً.

لكن هذه الانتفاضة السوداء تتوسّع بأعمال عنف تضرب عشرات الولايات وتتسبب بأضرار مادية مع سقوط قتلى اغتالهم مجهولون لإثارة الهلع في صفوف المتظاهرين، هؤلاء يتّجهون الى تصعيد “انتفاضتهم” وتزويدها بشحنات سياسية قوية عنوانها ما فعلوه بحصار البيت الابيض الأميركي مقر الرؤساء، ومنهم بالطبع الحالي دونالد ترامب الذي يبدو مذعوراً يهدّد المتظاهرين بالكلاب والجيش.

هناك عنصر ثانٍ يدعم انتفاضة الأقليات السوداء وهم ذوو الأصول اللاتينية الذين بدأوا ينخرطون في الحركات الاحتجاجيّة الى جانب كتل وازنة من الأميركيين البيض يسجلون بدورهم استياءهم من سياسات ترامب التي يصفونها بالحمقاء المدمّرة للدولة.

إن انهيار الإمبراطوريات يحتاج عادة لتضافر عوامل داخلية وخارجية. وهذا ما يجري تماماً على الصعيد الأميركي.

خارجياً تتعرّض القطبية الأحادية الأميركية لمنافسة بنيوية عميقة مع نظام اقتصادي صيني نجح في مدة بسيطة من التهام قسم هام من اسواق العالم بوسائل جاذبة قامت على رخص سعر السلعة وجودتها مع الاستفادة من نظام العولمة الذي فتح الحدود السياسية للدول امام التبادلات التجارية.

كان المعتقد أن العولمة سلاح أميركي للمزيد من هيمنة الاقتصاد الأميركي على العالم، وبالفعل هذا ما حدث إنما بمشاركة صينية يابانية وألمانية أدّت الى تراجع الاقتصاد الأميركي نسبياً.

الملاحظ هنا أن هناك تزامناً بين الخارج والداخل في دفع الهيمنة على الأسواق، هذا ما يصيب ترامب بالجنون، فيبدأ بتحميل الصين وزر الكورونا والسطو على الاختراعات الأميركية والاعتداء على هونغ كونغ ودعم كوريا الشمالية ومحاولات التحرش ببوارج أميركية في بحر الصين الجنوبي، لكن ما يطالب به برامب يفضح ما يريده وهو وقف تدفق السلع الصينية الى أسواق بلاده أولاً وتحالفاتها ثانياً. وهذا يعني تسديد ضربة قاتلة للاقتصاد الصيني.

قد يعتقد البعض ان القوة النووية الأميركية كافية لإرهاب الصين، لكن الكرة الأرضية لا تحتاج الى آلاف الاسلحة النووية الأميركية لتدميرها، لربما فإن ما تملكه الصين من أعداد قليلة منها أكثر من كافية لإثارة الذعر الأميركي والابتعاد عن اللجوء إليه.

كذلك فإن الروس عادوا الى التمدد الاستراتيجي في دول تشكل بالنسبة إليهم رؤوس جسور لعودتهم الى فضاءاتهم السوفياتية السابقة.

أما الضربة الثالثة فهي كورونا التي شلت الاقتصاد الأميركي بحركتيه الداخلية والخارجية، وأنتجت حتى الآن خمسين مليون عاطل عن العمل من أبناء الطبقات الفقيرة والوسطى، ولولا المساعدات الاجتماعيّة الحكوميّة لانفجر الوضع منذ أكثر من شهر.

هناك اذاً ظروف خارجية وأخرى تتعلّق بجائحة كورونا تضع الدولة الأميركيّة في وضع صعب.

لقد استلزم الأمر “قشة” صغيرة تقصم ظهر البعير الأميركي. وهذا ما حدث باغتيال مواطن أميركي من ذوي البشرة السمراء خنقه بركبته ضابط شرطة أميركي في ولاية مينيابوليس فهبّت الأقلية السمراء في عشرات الولايات في أكبر انتفاضة شعبية تنفذها الأقلية السمراء بشكل غاضب أحرق مقارّ رسمية وممتلكات خاصة في تظاهرات لم تتوقف حتى الآن وتذهب نحو مزيد من التصعيد؛ يكفي ان الشرطة الأميركية اعتقلت حتى الآن 1400 أميركي أسمر البشرة في سبع عشرة ولاية ولم تتمكن من تفريق متظاهرين يطوقون البيت الأبيض الرئاسي محاولين اقتحامه.

المشكلة هنا، تتمحور في أن ترامب يريد من حكام الولايات إنزال الحرس الوطني لقمع التظاهرات. وهذا من صلاحيات مناطقهم الفدراليّة، وذلك كي يهرب من اللجوء الى صلاحياته الرئاسية باستخدام الجيش، لأن ما يفكر فيه هو الانتخابات الرئاسية في تشرين الثاني المقبل.

وقد يذهب لتأجيج الصراع بين أبناء الطبقات الفقيرة والمتوسطة البيضاء ومع الاقلية السمراء وذلك لكسب أصوات فقراء أميركا المحسوبين تاريخياً مع الحزب الديمقراطي المنافس.

بذلك ينجح ترامب بأصوات بيضاء صافية من أغنياء أميركا في حزبهم الجمهوري والفقراء من البيض الذين يوهمهم ترامب ان الأقليّة السمراء تحاول التهام ما يتمتعون به من امتيازات.

إن هذا النمط من التعامل هو أسلوب اتسم به الرئيس ترامب من طريق تحريض البيض من كل التنوّعات الاقتصادية على السود والمسلمين واللاتينيين ذوي الأصول الصينية والمكسيكية، حتى أنه هو أكثر من حرّض على الدين الإسلامي لكسب أصوات اليهود الأميركيين مُهدياً ما تبقى من فلسطين المحتلة للإسرائيليين المحتلين.

هذه العوامل مجتمعة، تجب إضافتها الى اهتزاز الهيمنة الأميركية في مشروعها الفاشل في الشرق الأوسط.

فبعد فشله في سورية والعراق وغزة واليمن، وإيران وعودة منظمة طالبان الى الحرب على حلفاء الأميركيين في موقفه من الاتفاق النووي مع إيران وانسحابهم من منظمة الصحة الدولية، وبيعهم الضفة الغربية لكيان المحتل، وخروجهم من اتفاق الأجواء المفتوحة، هذا الخروج الذي يضع العالم على كف عفريت اسمه ترامب.

كل هذه العناصر المجتمعة في آن واحد تكشف ان انتفاضة الأقليات الأميركية السمراء او اللاتينية مع تأييد قسم وافر من البيض الأميركيين، هي مقدمة تراجع بنيوي تدخل فيها الامبراطورية الأميركية إنما بشكل تدريجي، لأن قوتها الاقتصادية لا تزال قوية وأولى بين اقتصادات الدول وتتمتع بقدرات عسكرية هائلة توازي إمكانات روسيا.

لذلك فإن تعميق التحالف الصيني – الروسي واستمرار انتفاضة الأقليات الأميركية، هي عناصر دفع الهيمنة الأميركية الى تدهور سريع على أساس سيادة قطبية جديدة وإعادة العمل بالقانون الدولي كمرجع للخلافات الدولية، وتسديد ضربة للنظام العنصري الأميركي خصوصاً والغربي عموماً، قد لا تكفيه، لكنها تمنعه من ممارساته الوحشية وتؤسس لتدريس وبناء نظام ثقافي عالمي جديد لا يميز بين البشر على أساس ألوانهم ومستوى ثرواتهم.

ماذا تقول الأحداث الأميركيّة؟ وماذا عن المقارنات اللبنانيّة؟

ناصر قنديل

تدخل الأحداث التي تتفجّر عنفاً في الشوارع الأميركيّة وتشمل عدداً كبيراً من المدن والولايات طريق التعاظم، لأسبوع إضافي، وبمعزل عن حماسة الترحيب بهذه الأحداث أو الدعوات لعدم الاحتفال بها، فهي لا تبدو مجرد احتجاج عابر على مقتل الرجل الأسود على أيدي رجال الشرطة، بمقدار ما شكل الحادث الصادم بطريقته وظروفه، عنصر التفجير لمخزون غضب كان ينتظر فرصة التحوّل إلى شريك في المشهد الأميركي. ومخزون الغضب يتجمّع مع الخطاب العنصريّ للرئيس دونالد ترامب، وزادته تعاظماً بأضعاف مضاعفة الأزمات الاجتماعية الناجمة عن تداعيات وباء كورونا، وتشرد ملايين العاطلين عن العمل من وظائفهم، وانضمامهم إلى طالبي الإعانات، في ظل تراكم مجموعة أحداث سياسية دولية أصابت الهيبة الأميركية، خصوصاً في الجوار المباشر، الذي تمثله فنزويلا، بعدما قدّمها ترامب كثمرة ناضجة للقطاف العنصري لنظامه، وتحوّلت بعد وصول ناقلات النفط الإيرانيّة، إلى عنوان الفشل الأميركي، فيما لا تبدو الانتخابات الفرصة التي كان ينتظرها الشارع الغاضب على ترامب وإدارته لتغيير ديمقراطي، في ظل الصورة الباهتة التي يقدّمها الحزب الديمقراطي، والمشاكل التي تحيط بأهليّة مرشحه جو بايدن لمواصلة السابق الانتخابي، مع ظهور بوادر للتلاعب بالعملية الانتخابية برمّتها، وصولاً لفرضيات التأجيل حتى إشعار آخر.

الغضب وانعدام الأمل هما طريق النزول إلى الشارع، وهما عنصران متوافران بقوة في شارع أميركي ليس محصوراً بأصحاب البشرة السوداء. فضحايا العنصرية التي يضخها خطاب ترامب تتخطاهم لتطال ذوي الأصول اللاتينيّة، والمسلمين، والنساء، والأزمة الاقتصادية الاجتماعيّة تمسّ شرائح كانت تحسب حتى الأمس على الطبقة الوسطى من البيض المتنورين، وتحرك مجموعات الوسط الليبرالي واليساري الذين أظهرت حملة المرشح بيرني ساندرز أنهم شريحة وازنة في معظم الولايات الأميركية، وهذا الشارع المتنوع يبدو أنه ينضم تدريجاً للحركة الاحتجاجية التي تتسع بصورة لافتة على مستوى تنوّع مكوّناتها، وتعدد ولاياتها، لتصير أقرب نحو تشكيل شارع وطني أميركي يواجه سلطة حكم، متوحشة، اقتصادياً واجتماعياً وسياسياً وإعلامياً، يقودها وحش مالي عنصري هو دونالد ترامب، من دون وجود أفق راهن لتسوية في منتصف الطريق، في ظل أزمة اقتصادية مرشحة للمزيد من التفاقم، وشح متزايد في الموارد، مع تراجع عام تعانيه الشخصية الأميركية في العالم، في ظل فقدان السيطرة على الملفات السياسية الخارجية كحاكم منفرد للعالم، من جهة، وتراجع كبير في الصورة العلمية والأخلاقية التي حرص الأميركيون دائماً على إظهار تفوّق نموذجهم في تمثيلها. وكان ما شهدته الولايات الأميركية وخصوصاً نيويورك، في مواجهة وباء كورونا، التعبير الأقوى عن هذا السقوط العلمي والأخلاقي.

المخاض الأميركي يبدو مفتوحاً، بلا أفق واضح لخاتمة قريبة، والحديث هنا ليس عن ثورة ولا عن تغيير نظام بالتأكيد، هو الغضب الشعبي اليائس من قدرة النظام على احتواء الأزمات ضمن مؤسسات الديمقراطية. وهذا يجب أن يدركه الذين يرغبون بإجراء المقارنات مع ما شهده لبنان، ويحبّون بتسميته ثورة، فما يجري في أميركا يشبه ما جرى في لبنان، وليس تغيير النظام في كليهما أفقاً ممكناً، ولا صفة الثورة تصحّ فيه، لأنها بالضبط بلا قيادة وبلا برنامج، وما يجري في أميركا يقول للبنانيين الذين يتساءلون عن معنى احتفال الخصوم السياسيين للإدارة الأميركية بما يجري، بينما لم يفعلوا ذلك تجاه ما جرى في لبنان، الجواب بسيط، هو أنهم لا يرغبون لبلدهم ما يرغبونه لعدوهم، من فوضى ومخاطر أمنية، وضياع للأفق السياسي؛ أما الذين يقولون لماذا لا يطعن أحد بأهلية ما يجري في أميركا من الذين طعنوا بأهلية ما جرى في لبنان؟ فالجواب ببساطة هو أن “لا وجود لسفارة أميركية في أميركا”.

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August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin

August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin

May 28, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

TITANIC LARGEST SHIP IN THE WORLD SINKING

personally I am not sure that the twelvehour day is bad for employees especially when they insist on working that long in order to make more money

— John Dos Passos, The 42nd Parallel, part one of the U.S.A. trilogy

What if the bailouts actually work?

Naturally, socialists aren’t inclined to explore this question, but what’s so interesting is that the Western Mainstream Media doesn’t want to admit the truth: the US bailouts for the lower classes have been hugely effective.

Too effective, they fear, and their fears are entirely correct. Make sure to circle August 1 on your calendar because that will be something of a US class war D-Day.

The Mainstream Media does not want to touch this issue with a 10-foot pole, so we cannot find much coverage of the reality that the Great Lockdown payouts to the lower classes have been – by US standards – incredibly generous. (Note: this article was written last week. The latest Fed Beige Book came out yesterday and addressed this issue, so I bumped this column up in the queue.)

2020 saw the very first “People’s QE”, with $1,200 in direct payments and a $600 increase per week in unemployment insurance until July 31.

Even if the bureaucracy sometimes moved too slowly and there were inevitable issues with this enormous and unprecedented redistribution, the verdict was in immediately: this was a hugely popular success with the lower classes. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s the most generous unemployment payout since the 1930s. For the first time in recent memory governmental policy favoured the lower class worker instead of the upper-middle and upper classes.

The average worker went from $378 per week in state unemployment benefits to $978 per week – a jump of 160%. You ever get a 160% raise before? I haven’t. Indeed, a socialist had to have gotten a lump in their throats when this was announced. One study showed that a whopping 68 percent of unemployed workers who can receive benefits are eligible for payments that are greater than their lost earnings. That number seems a bit high, but the massive desire to support the stay-at-home orders was surely a reflection of a desire to support this radically different approach to poverty prevention.

For the incredibly stingy US system the payout was unexpectedly generous and even based on good sense: the payout was $978 per week because the national average salary for unemployment recipients is $970 per week. It passed the smell test, too: $4,000 per month is a pretty good salary in the US… if you have no kids. However, if you have a very good upper-middle class job then it’s a pay cut, but democratically orienting policy to the needs of the lower classes and not the upper and upper-middle classes in the US? Since when?!

This is when socialists had to think – maybe these bailouts will actually work?

But it’s not as if they pulled the plug on capitalist-imperialist culture, so I think the US 1% made a major mistake in suddenly growing a conscience – they have unwittingly done more to raise class consciousness than any union or socialist party has done for many decades.

Buy some popcorn and watch the show – August 1 is going to see public labor-related rage for the first time since the 1930s.

Big, big problems in almost too many ways to count starting August 1

Michiganders demanding their constitutional right to fish was interesting, courageous and an example of ancestor worship any East Asian would be proud of, but let’s talk turkey about why in May – when it became clear that comparisons of coronavirus with the Spanish Flu of 1918 were obviously tabloid journalism – polls showed so many people refused to go back to work:

The early reopening of the economy was shot in the foot by this “unemployment bailout” – why on earth would the lower classes want to return to their low-paid jobs, where they could contract huge corona-related health care costs, when they can be totally safe and paid better to boot?

Don’t get it twisted for even a moment: the problem was NOT an excessive government handout but the TERRIBLE wages lower class workers have to endure since 1980. What “shot the recovery in the foot”, therefore, was capitalist greed and decades of stagnant wages, not “overly-generous government programs”. If the US had paid proper wages, and had shown proper skepticism to the now-unproven claims of corona hysterics, then they wouldn’t have so many employees telling bosses to take their job and shove it.

And the anger will seethe long-term, because the long, long, LONG overdue payout only sowed the seeds of future class discontent: it took a deadly pandemic for America’s most abused workers to finally get a living wage of above $15/hour. How can the lower classes – who are totally denied class consciousness by the US education system and pop culture – now ever forget that money for them really is there, but it is unfairly redistributed?

The US already has 41 million unemployed officially – given that the median weekly income in the US is $865, we are conservatively talking about 20 million workers who will only go back to work grudgingly on August 1.

The long-term cultural ramifications of that should not be underestimated.

Equally necessary to not underestimate: after August 1 many millions of workers won’t have these proper unemployment benefits nor a job either – at least 25% to up to over 40% of jobs aren’t coming back. So, conservatively, 20-30 million workers are going to get a huge pay cut as they have to survive on the “normal” benefit of just $378 per week.

Again, the cultural ramifications add up to massive discontent.

I think there is no chance that the US 1% authorises an extension of the $600 per week extra past August 1 – it was totally out of keeping with US ideology to begin with, and yet another indicator of the hysteria which swept the US regarding coronavirus. If unemployment benefits remained that high the only choice would be for bosses to raise wages to attract workers, and 40 years of recent shows that simply won’t be allowed to happen in the US.

Congress will, however, likely extend the number of weeks workers can live on the inadequate $378 wage (usually around 6 months in the US) but that will hardly be viewed as sufficient. They are talking about giving a $450 back to work bonus to get workers to accept jobs, and this only shows what a huge mistake the US 1% made amid the corona hysteria (thankfully!) and how they are now scrambling to erase it by offering crumbs.

The Democratic leadership has proposed extending the $600/week until 2021, but that’s typically-empty Democratic electioneering: if they really wanted to protect the lower classes and not corporations then they would have included that proposal in the first bailout package. Democrats waited until they knew extending $600 plus had no chance of getting passed

The cultural discontent will also be amplified and extended by the upcoming US elections in November.

Should we expect on August 1st the media to “play ball” with the 1%, like they normally do, and shepherd the masses to go back to work? Not hardly. I think it’s staggeringly unpatriotic to have “played politics” during this pandemic but nobody would doubt that many journalists, politicians and governors have done and are doing exactly that – why would they stop just a few months prior to Trump’s re-election vote?

(Indeed, whereas pre-corona I viewed Trump as a near-lock to be re-elected the odds of him winning amid such economic depression now seems rather illogical. As he is an extreme narcissist Trump views absolutely everything as being all about him, but I can see why he said back in February that corona was being overhyped to damage him politically.)

Will the fake-leftist MSM agitate in favor of labor/the unemployed army, thus against the 1%? That would be rather amazing, and something not seen since the 1970s, but it actually seems likely because they want to better Democratic election chances. It is only a temporary change caused by the corona hysteria and won’t stick long-term, of course.

Countering the fake-leftist MSM will be the always unwanted presence of Austrians/Chicagoans/Republicans who sanctimoniously rail about the “moral hazard” of “incentivising sloth” – people who never knew working hard at a lousy job yet still being unable to pay the most basic bills – will be equating extending the $600/week with the arrival of Satan, whom they are sure is also a Stalinist socialist. These greedy toads had effectively kept a lid on class consciousness for four decades, but no longer.

By August 1 all will be reminded: the problem remains unequal distribution

The term “working class” is so distorted in US culture that the term has no meaning anymore – I prefer the Iranian term “the lower classes” because everybody instinctively knows if they are in the “upper class” or one of all those “lower classes”. And, far more importantly, is that everyone knows whom they politically support: Mao came from a wealthy family but lived his motto of “Serve the People”, whereas plenty of New York City rappers would set an urban housing project on fire just to get on MTV. Many in the US are aware of Eugene “Daddy Socialist” V. Debs’ saying “while there is a soul in prison, I am not free,” but they are not told what preceded it: “while there is a lower class, I am in it”.

So support/opposition to $600 extra per week is going to go a long way in showing who supports which class.

Ultimately, the bailouts will not work – in terms of aiding society – for the three other major components of the US economy: the small- and medium-sized business, corporations and high finance. Addressing “Will the bailouts work?” for those sectors requires another article, but this column democratically addressed the bailouts’ effect on the largest sector of society – the lower classes.

August 1 will mark a critical new era in which domestic disenchantment with the American system reaches an all-time peak, and then only increase from there. Mark your calendars.

It’s not as if American socialism doesn’t have a history to draw upon for strength and guidance, such as John Dos Passos. The U.S.A. trilogy was ranked 23rd on Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, but today Dos Passos has been banished from schools, academia and public consciousness – he chronicled the early years of American socialism.

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Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately – May 25, 2021


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Waiter, I’ll have the soup of the day followed by the vaccine

Waiter, I’ll have the soup of the day followed by the vaccine

May 27, 2020

by Denis Conroy for The Saker Blog

Statistics suggest that one and a half billion day-labourers throughout the world need work to avoid starvation. This fact suggests that clarity of mind may only exist apropos of external conditions. This thought of itself suggests that man’s inhumanity to man is really a war on human rights. Clarity of mind may be the ace in the pack, but the problem is, the pack is rigged.

Watching Donald Trump respond to the Covid-19 enables us to observe just how myopic the American way of doing business is, especially when their idea of ‘progress’ is interrupted. When the twin prongs of capitalism, investment and expediency were curtailed by the novel Covid-19 virus, and the music faltered, the ‘establishment’ honchos quickly sought to place their fat arses on seats paid for by tax-payers’ money as the game of musical-chairs came to an abrupt halt. Under cover of institutional privilege, the wily controllers of external conditions were quick to consolidate their advantage.

Adherents of the house-of-cards economy, a system designed for elites to engorge themselves at the expense of main street took fright when the mechanics of their Ponzi scheme began to splutter under the pressure of the pandemic. Soon afterwards, a forlorn sense of angst began to pervade the zeitgeist. An unknown force was interfering with the ‘norm’.

What followed from this point onwards was a babble-fest conducted by inhouse-gurus of the institutional-stripe who quickly appeared at centre stage like marionettes competing for a Nobel Prize in atonal gibberish. Their pronouncements concerning the nature of something that would only be understood in hindsight or through ongoing research made little sense, but such is the role of the marionette.

In the heat of the Covid-19 moment, institutional bodies that normally underpin the status quo were seriously challenged by the social dimensions of the pandemic. Instead of a unified or clarified front we observed a host of snide internecine tensions emerge to fuel political division as well as giving crackpottery free rein. The burden of proof had become the meat in the political sandwich. For we (the masses) who had been relegated to the role of mere spectator, the deep-state was seen for what it really was, a collection of inept coterie-managed institutions now successfully privatised and without any real connection to the public domain. Authoritarianism was having a field day.

What the pandemic has taught me to date is that there is no deep state. Power, it would seem, needs spokespersons, and institutions meet this need by providing honchos to personalise the hobby horses that they have taken charge of ; think church, royalty, the ‘defence’ department, banks (Bank of International Settlements?), The New York Times, Disneyland, Donald Trump, Monarchy, etc. etc. etc…and one notices that the only thing they have in common is that they provide services that have surface value.

Therefore, the realization that surface values…known knowns…were being used as pugnacious tools when dealing with scientific facts relating to Covid-19 had me reaching for the whisky bottle.

What has kept Donald Trump’s quiff (well-stuck) from blowing in the wind is the institutional glue that keeps American mythology alive and unwell…a vapid narrative born of a need to keep the scales of injustice tilted toward protecting its own predatory appetites…a congenital aberration peculiar to unfettered capitalism perhaps?

Hence the myopic messages endlessly militating for more of the same for the purpose of keeping alternative flavours at bay… Trump declares churches ‘essential’ (Evangelical Christians et al?) and calls on them to reopen. But alas, open and reopen are merely extensions of Trump’s interpretation of what is ‘essential’. In his mind, ‘essential’, it would seem, means doing the sort of deals that keep the status quo buoyant for the privateers.

Nevertheless, when it comes to motivation, this great twit is not without a high degree of artistry. He has brought new meaning to the expression ‘out of sight, but not out of mind’, and he does it very well…embarrassingly well!

Bewitched by the voodoo of contemporary Neo-con economics, Trump’s essentiality can be best understood in terms of business motivation separated from conscience or science. He is a child of his time who tweets a story based on lies, cheating and widespread corruption which is frequently criminal as well. He has managed to ensconce himself as titular head of a business-as-usual culture that bailed out the corrupt banks in 2008 …$4.6 trillion have already been paid out…and the farce continues as structural change is blocked at every turn by means most queer! He is of a class of people who are there to prove that economics is not a science.

But stranger than strange, it could be the case that Covid-19 has the power to affect the national (or personal) psyche. As psychic reality ultimately possesses the power to temper thought, this phenomenon has the capacity to deal with the restructuring of systemic issues. That we have become used to accepting co-adjustments relating to our wellbeing per hefty amounts of bureaucratic verbiage, it does not exclude the fact that this pandemic has the potential for us to re-prioritize adjustments.

A more worrisome aspect…here in Australia…is the fact that the Covid-19 has become a ‘for-profit’ issue, and the best way of getting into the action is to get behind the guy with the biggest stick. Trump as world sheriff has deputised our lacklustre prime minister for the purpose of weaponizing the Covid-19 issue with the intention of whacking-a-mole (a yellow-peril mole as is the case down here) because it is becoming ever more proficient in ways that suggest the emergence of a culture that is capable of producing an improved world order…ScoMo, our great leader wants all us boy and girl scouts to get behind this ‘deal’ … I can almost hear his deft fingers knead the national psyche from my place in lockdown.

And while in lockdown, my thoughts now focus on what a nightmare might look like in the mind of Donald Trump…or for many Americans for that matter. Trump the child screaming his way out of a bad dream and his mother rushing in to comfort him. He, telling her that he had an awful dream. He, having dreamed that peace had broken-out across the world. He, saying to his mother, “But mum, no more weapons of mass destruction sales to Saudi Arabia or our other allies”, and she, his mother saying, while attempting to comfort him, “shush dear boy, America would never allow that to happen, now go back to sleep, everything will stay the same my dear child, the world outside is evil and it needs to be bombed. Bombing is how America sleepwalks through time.”

While the above reverie occurred in lockdown, another troubling thought quickly followed on its coattails. What is it in the American constitution (culture) or psyche that enables the general public to myopically sustain belief in their ‘democracy’ in spite of the fact that their use of excessive military force throughout the globe is there for all to see. Has horror been normalized?

As much of the world observes how America has become possessed of a pathology wherein sadism and paranoia define the inhumane hubris that MAGA lauds, a vulgar complacency now conceals what John Steinbeck’s Ethan felt in “The Winter of Our Discount”(published in 1961)…a parabolic reality wherein the main character Ethan is surrounded and influenced by family and friends who urge him to be less honest, abandon integrity, take bribes because anything else is futile in a corrupt society…restore the status of the family by any means!

And corruption breeds contradictions. Here in Australia one can still encounter the spirit of what the average Oz calls ‘a fair go’…but for how long will it last if American corruption continues to spill-over into Australia. Our Prime Minister ( ScoMo) is a political clone and devotee of Neo-con economics…a blinkered pallbearer dutifully shouldering the demise of colonial grandeur…a functionary on a mission to nowhere who finds it impossible to reimagine a genuinely independent Australia.

No doubt there are difficulties here as elsewhere, but until the spirit of young Australian awareness comes to the rescue, we are likely to continue to elect the usual idiomatic pageboys of last resort. After all, Australia is no longer a white-sliced-inbred Anglo culture strutting the stage with pin-striped aplomb to impress the natives. We have become a diverse society in spite of the White Australia Policy that once-was.

So, the times are a ’changing and the Covid-19 is a kind of mirror held up to reality. What we see when we peer into the mirror is a redundancy which makes us wonder at the ineptness of Western leadership. The Covid-19 itself being a mirror that discloses the fact that power in the hands of charlatans is power wasted.

So, when we hear people talk about a return to normalcy, we are left wondering whose interpretation of the norm is relevant. Clearly, the political honchos are marching to a different drum beat and the Pentagon is there to keep it that way.

Denis A. Conroy
Freelance Writer
Australia

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists?

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists?

May 15, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

(Hey hey, my new book is out today! Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. Buy a copy for yourself and 50 of your closest friends and Iranophobic/Islamophobic/socialism-phobic enemies.)

On May 14 France’s nurses held a protest march in Paris despite ongoing fears about coronavirus — so are they no longer rightly-guided heroes but far-right neo-fascists now?

For several months we’ve been banging pots in gratitude and watching corporations praise them in TV ads but – there they are: gathering in public, not really keeping 2 meters between each other, demanding economic policy changes, defying the advice of their well-paid bosses and generally being very, very bad children who should go straight to bed after dinner.

France’s medical staff won’t be infantilised and have no time for jokes – they are tired of enduring economic hardship and poor working conditions.

Those with overprotective parents claimed the Great Lockdown was to save just one life, but the most common justification among mature adults was to avoid overwhelming medical systems – in France they failed to heed years of public protests saying exactly that.

Excepting the Yellow Vests, nobody in France has protested more in the past couple years than medical staff – austerity has gutted a medical system which in 2000 was ranked number one in the world. I got tired of covering them. My Sputnik Français colleagues hid the tedium of our job as far as the second paragraph: “… protested in order to denounce a lack of resources. It’s a demand which is far from new.” But, you know, people gotta listen to the protesters, so work has us back on the streets again….

Had people listened earlier, France would have far fewer dead grandparents today.

In the US people were explicitly told by Western journalists to not listen to the first anti-Great Lockdown protests, in Michigan. I immediately supported the protesters (in We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state?) because, you know – we’re trying to have a democracy here. However, the fake-leftist media looked on them with loathing and terror – calling them irresponsible, science-stupid, selfish, death-crazed, martyrdom-seeking, dangerous curmudgeons and neighbors who would not loan you a cup of sugar.

So the same applies to these French nurses, right?

You would accuse them of being nonchalant about corona? (Or is their crime that they aren’t single-mindedly obsessed with corona enough?)

We can’t really say, because there is no mention of the protesting nurses in Western media, or even in French state foreign-language media. From a mixed economy model to these nurses – more of “the French bad example”.

The widespread insulting of Michiganders refused to take into account their economic situation and the fact that their type of state put them in such a vulnerable position. A stunning 25% of their workers had just become jobless, so why wouldn’t they be demonstrating to get the government’s attention? On top of that their governor imposed an extremely harsh stay-at-home order, as though this was something routine for Michiganders instead of being a (hysterical, economically-suicidal overreaction) shocking, unprecedented first which is undoubtedly more restrictive on movement than being sentenced to house arrest for having committed a serious crime.

Do I think France’s nurses are heroes? Not really – I never asked them to do my job and stand at the front lines during the Yellow Vest protests and do live interviews, giving a big target for the rubber bullets. But, then again, my local garbagemen never asked me to heroically hoist refuse cans for decades even though it’s hardly fun and statistically likely to lead to an early death. And no housewife ever asked me to take care of the kids for even one month, and that seems harder than being a garbageman. Am I a curmudgeon or conceited? No, when one accepts socialism one can’t help but view all workers are equal (capitalists never enjoy this feeling). We all deserve our 15 minutes of fame, I suppose, but caring about fame is decidedly not heroism.

But the kiddies do need heroes, so should the West start cheering: “Nurses are our heroes – except French nurses!”

There is a very worrying outcome of the recent hero worship of medical practitioners: more doctors are now entering politics. The problem with this is simple: you can’t tell a doctor anything – they are the world’s worst-know-it-alls/sufferers from God complexes. They march into a room, quite late, hand down a diagnosis with absolute certainty, which then turns out to be wrong and kills you later (CNBC: The third-leading cause of death in US most doctors don’t want you to know about), but not before you are debt-yoked to a hugely inflated bill, and then doctors imperiously march into the next room and do the same thing all over again. This is NOT a mentality conducive to the consensus-building demanded by democracy.

Well, that’s in socialist-inspired democracy. In liberal democracy technocrats rule with executive decrees, so look for more doctors in office – they can afford to campaign, after all. Thus, “the recent hero worship of medical practitioners” isn’t going to lead to sensible, humble, hard-working nurses to get into office in the West – liberal democracy systematically puts the rich into office.

‘Liberty or boogaloo’? God bless America!

The coronavirus has really laid bare how dictatorial and anti-democratic their executive-dominated system really is, no? What checks and balances, much less public opinion reflected in public policy?

Across the country governors (the presidents of states) have imposed lockdowns without a single legislative vote of approval (at least that I can find). Michigan’s governor, a front-runner to be Biden’s vice-president, seems disturbingly rankled by the existence of other elected officials: Gov. Whitmer blasts Michigan Legislature for meeting during stay-at-home order, says she will veto power-limiting bills. Historically, this trend towards executive decree “began” with Dubya Bush and the Patriot Act, but that’s an inaccurate and sentimental reading of Western liberal democratic history. However, it clearly has become de rigeur across the West, and especially in Hollande/Macron France.

Wisconsin has become the first state, finally, whose judicial branch finally got involved and struck down their governor’s unilateral decree. (What’s amazing is how the Mainstream Media coverage of this was nothing but political sniping – Republicans undermining Democrats – from the very lede sentence.)

If there really are checks and balances in Western liberal democracy they are non-existent or move too slow. The reality is that judges in general are overwhelmingly hyper-conservative and in a non-revolutionary nation do nothing but defend the status quo – why has no judge interceded to prevent the weekly mauling of the Yellow Vests, for example?

(The Vesters will be out there this Saturday, of course, but we already knew what naughty children they are. I wonder if the media will cover it? If they do I doubt they will cover them two weeks in a row.)

It was historically predictable that Michigan and Wisconsin are the first to demand their rights – the Midwest has historically been the hotbed of American “progressivism” (but they still can’t say socialist over there). The state of Missouri was the first to sue China which, LOL, is misguided but at least they are sticking up for residents of the “Show-Me State”. Texas is semi-Midwestern, and non-Americans would expect them to be the first to resist for their sovereign rights, but Texans mostly just talk a lot – like Dubya Bush: all (cowboy) hat and no cattle.

By far the most delightful, “only in America” news item actually comes from the incredibly unfunky state of New Hampshire – “armed demonstrators passed out ‘Liberty or Boogaloo’ fliers at a statehouse protest”. You must be a fake-leftist if you can’t support that, LOL!

I know that when my liberty feels too infringed I immediately break out my best boogaloo dance – it works surprisingly well. I have a “Where’s My Bailout?” t-shirt from 2008 – I need a “Liberty or Boogaloo” t-shirt to sartorially commemorate the Great Lockdown. I really have to question the alleged superiority of the American entrepreneur when I cannot yet find such a t-shirt for sale?

Western journalists have thrown away skepticism during corona, except towards protesters

French nurses go against the script and thus they get ignored, but most often anti-corona hysteria protesters just get discredited.

The reality back in April was that the Michigan gun-wavers were just a small fringe group – the overwhelming majority of protesters stayed in their car as it was primarily an “auto protest”. The Mainstream Media focused on a tiny portion of overall demonstrators in order to totally discredit the anti-establishment message.

In today’s New York Times lead economics columnist, Paul Krugman (who surely cannot boogaloo his way out of a wet paper bag) also discredits the protesters, opposes ending the Great Lockdown (“never mind what the experts say”, he condescendingly pouts) and even fails to bring up a single word about the obvious economic justification for American discontent in his article Covid-19 Reality has a liberal bias:

Indeed, the antilockdown demonstrations of recent weeks appear to have been organized in part by the same people and groups that have spent decades denying climate change.

Virus trutherism is also reminiscent of the various kinds of trutherism that ran rampant during the Obama years. Inflation truthers insisted that the government was hiding the truth about rampant inflation; unemployment truthers, including a guy named Donald Trump, insisted that the steadily improving job numbers were fake.

In my last article (which elicited no happy dancing) Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona, I noted how Western inflation gauges exclude food, energy, housing, medical care and education costs – call me a “conspiracy theorist” for saying some hiding is going on, Paul. US unemployment data counts working just one hour per week as being employed, which allows part-time work and underemployment to pad their (pre-Great Lockdown ) alleged “full employment” rate – Paul must know this, but reporting that doesn’t keep in you in New York Times clover.

The Guardian’s anti-Michigander piece (yes, I enjoy writing the word “Michigander”) I linked to from April 17 used this same “discredit-via-the-organiser” tactic – as if participants were sheep and not humans with free will – in the 5th paragraph of their story.

This is the same tactic we saw against the Yellow Vests. In the 21st century West being lower class and making economic demands automatically makes one a far-right, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, deplorable neo-fascist. Unfortunately, political understanding will progress not one millimeter with such an unfactual position, yet there is huge popular Western support for such a political interpretation.

People also think I eccentrically enjoy writing the term “fake-leftist”, but it’s really quite necessary: in the US the term “leftist” is refused by Democrats as too radical, so they prefer what Krugman used in his headline – “liberals”. US liberals have only the scantest leftist economic component to their ideology – when you press them to be honest they are resolutely anti-socialist and inevitably support not just neo-imperialism but even many aspects of far-right neoliberalism. Yes, they do not openly claim to be “leftist”, but they certainly falsely and opportunistically present themselves that way. This is why “fake-leftist” can and should be used synonymously with “liberal”.

Liberals, fake-leftists and corona hysterics have two things in common: they are now hissing and booing at the French nurses, and they cannot boogaloo.

**********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona

May 13, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

Among capitalist economists stagflation is the worst possible outcome, excepting a Great Depression.

They even admit they cannot explain it (especially Keynesians), or rather they choose not to – this is why the word has barely been broached during this very depressing coronavirus era. In exactly the same vein, the West’s intellectuals claim they cannot explain the causes of World War I (as I discussed last week here).

There is clearly something in stagflation which, like the banker collusion which orchestrated World War I, strikes at the moral heart of the Western liberal project.

They don’t know what caused the 1970s stagflation, but what’s certain is that the solution – the highest prime interest rates (20% in 1981) in US history, which provoked two recessions and a disaster for the housing market – is not available today in this age of Western ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policies) and Quantitative Easing. A total reversal to that type of a contractionary monetary policy would lead to bankers starting World War III; negative interest rates could reach the US as soon as this winter.

The West wants to ignore stagflation because fixing it is so very, very hard. If Weimar Germany represents the most dynamic pole of Western capitalist-imperialist socio-economic breakdown, then stagflation is its equally destructive passive pole. Stagflation was indeed put to music via the punk movement, with its trumpeting of what everyone knows: the Western capitalist dream does not work without imperialist wars, the liberal democratic neo-aristocrats are phony hypocrites, and anarchy in the UK (and the rest of the West) is needed in order to overthrow the status-quo loving “keep calm and carry on-ers”.

Cover your ears – the West is about to get punk again.

“Stagflation” is a portmanteau of “stagnation” and “inflation”: it is the combination of slow economic growth, high unemployment and price inflation. Stagnant wages is a fourth component but it is often left out because the capitalist West doesn’t want to talk about lifting wages at home, in their factories in Haiti, or even on Mars.

Astute readers should be re-reading that sentence and thinking: “Well, since the Great Lockdown started the West certainly now has all four.”

Indeed, but let’s quickly recap:

Slow economic growth – YES: This existed pre-corona in the West’s “Great Recession”: a Lost Decade for the Eurozone, while US economic growth was only in the asset classes of the 1%. As a result of their hysterical overreaction to corona Western GDP growth is going to drop probably around 5%, which is a total catastrophe for a Western system that relies on constant growth and wage-earning instead of central planning and government intervention to prevent economic catastrophe for their lower classes.

We know there will be a corona-related demand shock: the expectation of continued economic chaos will increase the desire to save and not spend. There is also the demand shock caused by their generalised consumer terror – i.e., people who remain too scared of corona to even shop or travel, which will affect businesses from luxury goods to tourism to restaurants to the mall.

High unemployment – YESThis is just as obviously another catastrophic but entirely foreseeable consequence of the Great Lockdown. Estimates range from 25-42% of all lost jobs in the US are never, ever coming back. The Eurozone already had persistently high unemployment since 2008, whereas Germany and the US falsified/degraded their unemployment rate with part-time work/minijobs/gig economy jobs.

Price inflation: YES – Just talk to any small businessman: their first goal upon reopening will be to recoup months of zero revenue – they are desperate to do so because they still had to pay costs like rent, debt servicing, utilities, wages and more during the Great Lockdown. Thus, they will raise prices and cut costs (i.e. fire workers) to not be a part of the mass bankruptcies which will arrive once the West actually gets back to work and sees how bad things are now.

Consider the effects on prices of these new Great Lockdown-inspired obstacles for business such as social distancing: If restaurants, for example, are only allowed to run at half-capacity, they have to either sell twice as much food or raise prices. Talk of supply chains moving back to the US are far-fetched, given that US corporate law requires that stockholders not lose a penny just to aid the nation, but supply chain disruptions will raise prices.

How can the price of the few remaining Western government social services go down when government tax revenue has plummeted?

This is all why nobody is expecting prices to go down in 2020, but many are predicting crashes in asset classes like homes, stocks, bonds, luxury goods, etc.

Low wages: YES – This is never discussed in the West because the outlook is so perpetually depressing in a neoliberal-capitalist system which both refuses wage controls and guts stable civil service jobs in order to hand them to the unstable, profit-oriented private sector in the name of so-called “efficiency”: When the Great Lockdown ends there will be an enormous oversupply in the labor market, thus driving down wages – the Western MSM dares not discuss this inevitability. For those who kept their job: if you thought you didn’t ask for a raise from 2008-2020 because you were too shy, fear of joining the jobless ranks will keep you even quieter in 2020.

So we see that all the components are there – were already there – for Western stagflation.

A solution to stagflation would be either increased wages or increased “People’s QE”. Given that wages represent a long-term drain on the bosses’ profits, we should thus expect the Western 1% to prefer another round of direct, but one-time, government payments to individuals and households – but this would be only a temporary staving off of stagflation. However, the preference of this band-aid solution will be resolutely opposed by anti-socialist neoliberals who view government intervention as the work of Satan, as well as the existence of Austrian/Chicago/“immoral competition is normal”-capitalists who are licking their chops at the prospect of buying up the bankrupted at low prices.

From the outset I warned that the West was fooling themselves into thinking they had the same strengths and capabilities as socialist-inspired nations like China, Iran, Vietnam and others – they employed quarantining, control methods and collective-over-individualist concepts used by Asian nations, but without having similar cultures of government economic intervention nor widespread trust in their governments, and amid their economic Great Recession on top of it all.

But you hear that analysis about as often as you have heard about stagflation.

The West will continue to avoid stagflation discussions by continuing to distort the data

The West won’t discuss what it can’t explain or what threatens their cultural chauvinism, whether that is World War I, or stagflation, or how Trump doing the exact same thing Obama did is somehow only evil when Trump does it.

Slow economic growth – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalism: “2021 economic growth rates can only go up from 2020, thus the definition of stagflation is not met.” This is a purely technical and pedantic reply – there will be both stagnation and inflation, but by taking as narrow and as uncritical a view as possible of what stagflation truly is, then Western journalists can say “claiming stagflation is wrong”. But this response can’t endlessly hold up any more than the “confidence fairy” justification for Eurozone austerity did.

High unemployment – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalism: This will be the toughest to hide, so they will likely do something similar to what Emmanuel Macron did: stop reporting the embarrassing unemployment data every month and only give it quarterly. Perhaps they will do what the US and Germany do – pretend as if “underemployment” does not exist (even though it is the defining feature of their young adult class for over a decade) and act as if working one hour per week makes one “employed”.

Price inflation – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalismTheir inflation gauges already exclude the biggest expenses for the average person: food & energy (too volatile to include, they say), housing, health care and education costs. Ask a German politician and they will tell you that they are watching inflation like a hawk and that it is certainly staying in their “acceptable 2% range”. But ask a normal worker – who keeps paying more for the metro, beef, fruit, housing and all those other crucial things which inflation gauges exclude – and you’ll understand why “decreased purchasing power” has been the number one French voter concern for the 11 years I’ve lived here.

Low wages – the excuse of Western liberal exceptionalismHistory is clear: It took a pandemic for Americans to finally get a barely liveable wage of $15/hour… but only via government welfare and only until July 31. What many Republicans have already ruled out is extending these benefits – which are better than the low wages their lower classes get – because that would increase unemployment and thus only worsen stagflation. Permanently increasing wages should not be expected, as that would represent a sea-change in Western economics in favor of the bottom 90%, and that hasn’t been seen in 40 years.

Increased wages would, however, increase demand for goods and thus raise revenue and demand, and thus increase employment. It would also theoretically causes prices to rise, but the more worrying near-term reason for the price rises are the hysterical restrictions imposed by new social distancing rules and corona fears which have been overblown to bits across the West.

The West can write off 2020 as a recession or a depression, but stagflation will occur after that

Among the West’s Mainstream Media the general editorial line is denialism: “How can there ever be a catastrophe in the West when There Is No Alternative?” Among the West’s fringe/alternative websites the general editorial line is, “Armageddon/a Brave New World starts tomorrow due to the Mainstream Media’s cover-ups of catastrophe!”

However, the post-Great Lockdown truth is likely a very un-Confucian middle path: 1970s-style stagnation, which is Chinese water torture for the bottom 90%, certainly, but not revolution. They say that revolutions can never be predicted and certainly nothing at all can truly be predicted until their Great Lockdown ends – but if the West’s 1% and their toadies successfully resist the call for change from capitalism-imperialism, then stagflation is the West’s future.

The Western 1% profited from the stagflation era, of course: it proved to be a perfect antidote to their political involvement of the 1960s – creating mass precariousness is a very easy way to shut workers and citizens up. The 1970s were a “long national nightmare” for the US and their Western allies – how could their 1%-controlled Mainstream Media demand a Great Lockdown so very strenuously if they honestly warned that a return of that degraded era would be the result?

The causes of the West’s stagflation era (the “Nixon shock”, going off the gold standard, colluding with the House of Saud to create the Petrodollar system, the lack of imperialist war to keep factories from Detroit to Gary, Indiana, humming, the desire to break the record-level power of organised labor, the increased capitalist fanaticism resulting from the continued refusal of peaceful coexistence with socialist-inspired nations which oppose capitalism-imperialism) and its solutions (the breaking of the housing market in order to gut the primary asset of the bottom 90%, a vast anti-union campaign, purposeful governmental ineptitude in order to provoke the rabid anti-government component of neoliberalism, the hyper-financialisation of the economy, the demand for neoliberal “free markets” in order to send good manufacturing jobs out and weaken labor further, the promotion in the US of Reaganesque jingoism in order to give lower class Whites a feeling of pride to replace their socioeconomic degradation) will require much more analysis in the coming months and years because that lousy past is the capitalist-imperialist West’s post-corona future.

See why they don’t want to talk about stagflation?

**********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Fake Coronavirus Data, Fear Campaign. Spread of the COVID-19 Infection

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, May 12, 2020Global Research 5 April 2020

Introduction

Do not let yourself be misled by the fear campaign, pointing to a Worldwide coronavirus calamity with repeated “predictions” that hundreds of thousands of people are going to die.

These are boldface lies. Scientific assessments of the health impacts of  the COVID-19 have been withheld, they do not make the headlines. 

While COVID-19 constitutes a serious health issue, why is it the object of  a Worldwide fear campaign?

According to the WHO, “The most commonly reported symptoms [COV-19] included fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, and most patients (80%) experienced mild illness.”  

Examine the contradictory headlines:

Screenshot The Hill 

According to the WHO and John Hopkins Medicine (see below),  the risks of dying from influenza (annual) compared to those of  COVID-19. (from January through early April)

Source; John Hopkins Medicine

Moreover, the media fails to acknowledge that there are simple and effective treatments for COVID-19. In fact, the reports on the treatment of COVID-19 are being suppressed. And the issue of “recovery” is barely mentioned. 

Persistent headlines and TV reports. Fear and panic. Neither the WHO nor our governments have taken the trouble to reassure us. 

According to the latest media hype, citing and often distorting scientific opinion (CNBC)

Statistical Models by Washington think tanks predict a scenario of devastation suggesting that “more than a million Americans could die if the nation does not take swift action to stop its spread as quickly as possible”.

One model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that between 160 million and 210 million Americans could contract the disease over as long as a year. Based on mortality data and current hospital capacity, the number of deaths under the CDC’s scenarios ranged from 200,000 to as many as 1.7 million. (The Hill, March 13, 2020)

The Unspoken Truth:  Unprecedented Global Crisis

The unspoken truth is that the novel coronavirus provides a pretext to powerful financial interests and corrupt politicians to trigger the entire World into a spiral of  mass unemployment, bankruptcy, extreme poverty and despair. 

This is the true picture of what is happening. “Planet Lockdown” is an encroachment on civil liberties and the “Right to Life”. Entire national economies are in jeopardy. In some countries martial law has been declared.

Small and medium sized capital are slated to be eliminated. Big capital prevails. A massive concentration of corporate wealth is ongoing. 

Is a diabolical “New World Order” in the making as suggested by Henry Kissinger (WSJ Opinion, April 3, 2020)

“The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”.

Recall Kissinger’s historic 1974 statement: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World.” (1974 National Security Council Memorandum)

This crisis is unprecedented in World history. It is destabilizing and destroying people’s lives Worldwide. It’s a “War against Humanity”.

While it is presented to World public opinion as a WHO global health emergency, what is really at stake are the mechanisms of  “economic warfare” sustained by fear and intimidation, with devastating consequences.

The economic and social impacts far exceed those attributed to the coronavirus. Cited below are selected examples of  a global process: 

  • Massive job losses and layoffs in the US, with more than 10 million workers filing claims for unemployment benefits.
  • In India,  a 21 days lockdown has triggered a wave of famine and despair affecting millions of homeless migrant workers all over the country. No lockdown for the homeless: “too poor to afford a meal”.  
  • The impoverishment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa is beyond description. For large sectors of the urban population, household income has literally been wiped out.
  • In Italy, the destabilization of the tourist industry has resulted in bankruptcies and rising unemployment. 
  • In many countries, citizens are the object of police violence. Five people involved in protests against the lockdown were killed by police in Kenya and South Africa.

The WHO’s global health emergency was declared on January 30th, when there were 150 confirmed cases outside China. From the outset it was based on a Big Lie. 

Moreover, the timing of the WHO emergency coincided with America’s ongoing wars as well simmering financial instability on the World’s stock markets.

Is the global lockdown which engineers Worldwide economic destruction in any way related to America’s global military agenda? 

The coronavirus pandemic is magnifying the cruelty of US foreign policy”

This is an exceedingly complex process which we have examined in detail in the course of the last two months. Consult our archive on coronavirus. 

To reverse the tide, we must confront the lies.  And the lies are overwhelming. A counter propaganda initiative is required. 

When the Lie becomes the Truth, there is No Moving Backwards.

***

Part II

The Second Part of this article will largely focus on the following issues:

  • the definition of COVID-19 and the assessment of the number of “confirmed cases”, 
  • the risks to people’s health,
  • how the alleged epidemic is measured and identified. 

The Spread of the COVID-19 Infection

In many countries including the US, there is no precise lab test which will identify COVID-19 as the cause of a positive infection. Meanwhile the media will not only quote unreliable statistics, it will forecast a doomsday scenario. 

Let us put the discussion on COVID-19 in context.

What is a Human Coronavirus.  “Coronaviruses are everywhere”. They are categorized as “the second leading cause of the common cold (after rhinoviruses)”. Since the 2003 outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus), several (new) corona viruses were identified. COVID-19 is categorized as a novel or new corona virus initially named SARS-CoV-2.

According to Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, pneumonia is “regularly caused or accompanied by corona viruses”. And that has been the case for many years prior to the identification of the COVID-19 in January 2020:

[It is a] well-known fact that in every “flu wave” 7-15% of acute respiratory illnesses (ARI) are coming along with coronaviruses” 

The COVID-19 belongs to the family of coronviruses which trigger colds and seasonal influenza. We will also address the lab tests required to estimate the data as well as the spread of the COVID-19.  The WHO defines the COVID-19 as follows:

“The most commonly reported symptoms [of COVID-19] included fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, and most patients (80%) experienced mild illness. Approximately 14% experienced severe disease and 5% were critically ill. Early reports suggest that illness severity is associated with age (>60 years old) and co-morbid disease.” (largely basing on WHO’s assessment of COVID-19 in China)

The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in an article entitled Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted provides the following definition:

The overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.“

These assessments confirm that COVID-19 is akin to seasonal influenza and pneumonia, categorized as contagious respiratory infections.

If the above definitions had made the headlines, there would have been no fear and panic.

The COVID-19. Tests and Data Collection

The H1N1 Pandemic 2009. Déjà Vu

This is not the first time that a global health emergency has been called by the WHO in close liaison with Big Pharma.

In 2009,  the WHO launched the  H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic predicting that “as many as 2 billion people could become infected over the next two years — nearly one-third of the world population.” (World Health Organization as reported by the Western media, July 2009).

One month later WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan stated that  “Vaccine makers could produce 4.9 billion pandemic flu shots per year in the best-case scenario”,( Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), quoted by Reuters, 21 July 2009)

While creating an atmosphere of  fear and insecurity, pointing to an impending global public health crisis, the WHO nonetheless acknowledged that the H1N1 symptoms were moderate and that “most people will recover from swine flu within a week, just as they would from seasonal forms of influenza” (WHO statement, quoted in the Independent, August 22, 2009).

And President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology stated with authority, “reassuring public opinion” that  “the H1N1 pandemic is  a serious health threat… to the U.S. — not as serious as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic but worse than the swine flu outbreak of 1976.”Spinning Fear and Panic Across America. Analysis of COVID-19 Data

H1N1 Fake Data 

In many regards, the H1N1 2009 pandemic reveals the problems of data collection and analysis which we are facing now in relation to COVID-19

Following the outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu in Mexico, the data collection was at the outset scanty and incomplete, as confirmed by official statements. The Atlanta based Center for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged that what was being collected in the US were figures of  “confirmed and probable cases”. There was, however, no breakdown between “confirmed” and “probable”. In fact, only a small percentage of the reported cases were “confirmed” by a laboratory test.

There was no attempt to improve the process of data collection in terms of lab confirmation. In fact quite the opposite. Following the level 6 Pandemic announcement by Dr. Margaret Chan, both the WHO and the CDC decided that data collection of individual confirmed and probable cases was no longer necessary to ascertain the spread of swine fluOne month after the announcement of the level six pandemic, the WHO discontinued the collection of  “confirmed cases”. It did not require member countries to send in figures pertaining to confirmed or probable cases. WHO, Briefing note, 2009)

Based on incomplete, scanty and suppressed data, the WHO nonetheless predicted with authority that: “as many as 2 billion people could become infected over the next two years — nearly one-third of the world population.” (World Health Organization as reported by the Western media, July 2009).

In 2010, Dr. Margaret Chan and the WHO were the object of an investigation by the European Parliament:

“Confirmed Cases”: The CDC Methodology

The CDC methodology in 2020 is broadly similar (with minor changes in terminology) to that applied to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. “Probable cases” was replaced by “Presumptive cases”.

Presumptive vs. Confirmed Cases

According to the CDC the data presented for the United States include both “confirmed” and “presumptive” positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC since January 21, 2020″.

The presumptive positive data does not confirm coronavirus infection: Presumptive testing involves “chemical analysis of a sample that establishes the possibility that a substance is present“ (emphasis added). But it does not confirm the presence of COVID-19. The presumptive test must then be sent for confirmation to an accredited government health lab. (For further details see: Michel Chossudovsky, Spinning Fear and Panic Across America. Analysis of COVID-19 DataMarch 20, 2020)

How is the COVID-19 Data Tabulated?

The presumptive (PC) and confirmed cases (CC) are lumped together.  And the total number (PC + CC ) constitutes the basis for establishing the data for COVID-19 infection. It’s like adding apples and oranges. The total figure (PC+CC) categorized as “Total cases” is meaningless. It does not measure positive COVID-19 Infection. And among those “total cases” are “recovered cases”.

CDC Data for April 5, 2020

But there is another important consideration: the required CDC lab test pertaining to CC (confirmed cases) is intended to “confirm the infection”. But does it confirm that the infection was caused by COVID-19?

The COVID-19 is a coronavirus which is associated with the broad symptoms of  seasonal influenza and pneumonia. Are the lab exams pertaining to COVID-19 (confirmed cases) in a position to establish unequivocally the prevalence of COVID-19 positive infection?

Below are criteria and guidelines confirmed by the CDC pertaining to “The CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel” (Read carefully):

Results are for the identification of 2019-nCoV RNA. The 2019-nCoV RNA is generally detectable in upper and lower respiratory specimens during infection. Positive results are indicative of active infection with 2019-nCoV but do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. Laboratories within the United States and its territories are required to report all positive results to the appropriate public health authorities. 

Negative results do not preclude 2019-nCoV infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or other patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.

What this suggests is that a positive infection could be the result of other viruses as well as other corona viruses. (i.e. related to seasonal influenza or pneumonia).

Moreover, the second paragraph suggests that “Negative Results” of the lab test does not preclude a positive COVID-19 infection. But neither do the “combined clinical observations, etc … “.

These criteria and CDC guidelines are contradictory and inevitably subject to error. Since January, these “positive test results” of the RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel do not prove that COVID-19  is the cause of a positive infection for the COVID-19. (also referred to as 2019-nCoV and SARS-CoV-2). (See annex below).

Where does the bias come in?

Various coronaviruses are there in the tested specimen. Does the test identify COVID-19?

Has the COVID-19 been singled out as the source of an active infection, when the infection could be the result of  other viruses and/or bacteria?

Important Question?

Are the tests conducted in the US since January 2020 (pertaining to upper and lower respiratory specimens) which confirm infection from one or more causes (without proof of COVID-19) entered in the CDC data banks as “confirmed cases” of COVID-19?

As outlined by the CDC: “The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.”

Moreover, the presumptive cases” referred to earlier –which do not involve the test of a respiratory specimen– are casually lumped together with “confirmed cases” which are then categorized as “Total Cases”.

Another fundamental question: What is being tested?

Inasmuch as COVID-19 and Influenza have similar symptoms, to what extent are the data pertaining to COVID-19 “overlapping” with those pertaining to viral influenza and pneumonia?

The test pertaining to active infection could be attributed either to influenza or COVID-19, or both?

What is More Dangerous: Seasonal Influenza or COVID-19? 

Influenza –which has never been the object of a lockdown– appears from the recorded data on mortality to be “more dangerous” than COVID-19?

Based on the figures below, the recorded annual death rate pertaining to Influenza is substantially higher than that pertaining to COVID-19. (This is a rough comparison, given the fact that the recorded data pertaining to COVID-19 is not on an annual basis).

The latest data WHO data pertaining to COVID-19 

(Globally, all countries and territories):  40,598 deaths  (recorded up until April 1, 2020).

The estimates of annual mortality pertaining to Influenza:

Historically of the order of 250 000 to 500 000 annually (globally). (WHO).

The most recent WHO estimates (2017):

290 000 – 650 000 deaths globally  (annual). 



ANNEX

https://www.fda.gov/media/134922/download

Note: Two important texts 

Text of CDC criteria For in Vitro Diagnostic Use

Intended Use

The CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is a real-time RT-PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from the 2019-nCoV in upper and lower respiratory specimens (such as nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs, sputum, lower respiratory tract aspirates, bronchoalveolar lavage, and nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate or nasal aspirate) collected from individuals who meet 2019-nCoV clinical and/or epidemiological criteria (for example, clinical signs and symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV infection, contact with a probable or confirmed 2019-nCoV case, history of travel to geographic locations where 2019-nCoV cases were detected, or other epidemiologic links for which 2019-nCoV testing may be indicated as part of a public health investigation). Testing in the United States is limited to laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), 42 U.S.C. § 263a, to perform high complexity tests.

Results are for the identification of 2019-nCoV RNA. The 2019-nCoV RNA is generally detectable in upper and lower respiratory specimens during infection. Positive results are indicative of active infection with 2019-nCoV but do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. Laboratories within the United States and its territories are required to report all positive results to the appropriate public health authorities.

Negative results do not preclude 2019-nCoV infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or other patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.

Testing with the CDC 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is intended for use by trained laboratory personnel who are proficient in performing real-time RT-PCR assays. The CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is only for use under a Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization.

Summary and Explanation

An outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China was initially reported to WHO on December 31, 2019. Chinese authorities identified a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which has resulted in thousands of confirmed human infections in multiple provinces throughout China and many countries including the United States. Cases of asymptomatic infection, mild illness, severe illness, and some deaths have been reported.

The CDC 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is a molecular in vitro diagnostic test that aids in the detection and diagnosis 2019-nCoV and is based on widely used nucleic acid amplification technology. The product contains oligonucleotide primers and dual-labeled hydrolysis probes (TaqMan®) and control material used in rRT-PCR for the in vitro qualitative detection of 2019-nCoV RNA in respiratory specimens.

The term “qualified laboratories” refers to laboratories in which all users, analysts, and any person reporting results from use of this device should be trained to perform and interpret the results from this procedure by a competent instructor prior to use.

Principles of the Procedure

The oligonucleotide primers and probes for detection of 2019-nCoV were selected from regions of the virus nucleocapsid (N) gene. The panel is designed for specific detection of the 2019-nCoV (two primer/probe sets). An additional primer/probe set to detect the human RNase P gene (RP) in control samples and clinical specimens is also included in the panel.

RNA isolated and purified from upper and lower respiratory specimens is reverse transcribed to cDNA and subsequently amplified in the Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast Dx Real-Time PCR Instrument with SDS version 1.4 software. In the process, the probe anneals to a specific target sequence located between the forward and reverse primers. During the extension phase of the PCR cycle, the 5’ nuclease activity of Taq polymerase degrades the probe, causing the reporter dye to separate from the quencher dye, generating a fluorescent signal. With each cycle, additional reporter dye molecules are cleaved from their respective probes, increasing the fluorescence intensity. Fluorescence intensity is monitored at each PCR cycle by Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast Dx Real-Time PCR System with SDS version 1.4 software.

Detection of viral RNA not only aids in the diagnosis of illness but also provides epidemiological and surveillance information.

The CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is a real-time RT-PCR test intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from the 2019-nCoV in upper and lower respiratory specimens (such as nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swabs, sputum, lower respiratory tract aspirates, bronchoalveolar lavage, and nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate or nasal aspirate) collected from individuals who meet 2019-nCoV clinical and/or epidemiological criteria (for example, clinical signs and symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV infection, contact with a probable or confirmed 2019-nCoV case, history of travel to geographic locations where 2019-nCoV cases were detected, or other epidemiologic links for which 2019-nCoV testing may be indicated as part of a public health investigation). Testing in the United States is limited to laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), 42 U.S.C. § 263a, to perform high complexity tests.

Results are for the identification of 2019-nCoV RNA. The 2019-nCoV RNA is generally detectable in upper and lower respiratory specimens during infection. Positive results are indicative of active infection with 2019-nCoV but do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. Laboratories within the United States and its territories are required to report all positive results to the appropriate public health authorities.

Negative results do not preclude 2019-nCoV infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or other patient management decisions. Negative results must be combined with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information.

Testing with the CDC 2019-nCoV Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is intended for use by trained laboratory personnel who are proficient in performing real-time RT-PCR assays. The CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel is only for use under a Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization.

 Serology Test for COVID-19

CDC is working to develop a new laboratory test to assist with efforts to determine how much of the U.S. population has been exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

The serology test will look for the presence of antibodies, which are specific proteins made in response to infections.  Antibodies can be found in the blood and in other tissues of those who are tested after infection.  The antibodies detected by this test indicate that a person had an immune response to SARS-CoV-2, whether symptoms developed from infection or the infection was asymptomatic.  Antibody test results are important in detecting infections with few or no symptoms.

Initial work to develop a serology test for SARS-CoV-2 is underway at CDC.  In order to develop the test, CDC needs blood samples from people who had COVID-19 at least 21 days after their symptoms first started. Researchers are currently working to develop the basic parameters for the test, which will be refined as more samples become available. Once the test is developed, CDC will need additional samples to evaluate whether the test works as intended.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research , 2020

مفتاح البيت الأبيض بيد كورونا

زهر يوسف

من المبكر الحديث عن الرئيس السادس والأربعين للولايات المتحدة الأميركية، ومَن سيكون، أجمهورياً أم ديمقراطياً، دونالد ترامب أم جو بايدن؟ غير أنّ جملة معطيات حدثت وما زالت في أميركا ومنها فيروس كورونا، جعلت ترامب في وضع غير مرتاح، عكس منافسه الديمقراطي بايدن المبتسِم حتى اللحظة.

خرج السيناتور المستقلّ بيرني ساندرز من السباق الرئاسيّ الأميركي، وسلّم الراية لبايدن نائب الرئيس الأميركي السابق، انسحاب حدا بالبعض إلى القول إن مفاتيح البيت الأبيض باقية في قبضة ترامب “ملك التسويق” لولاية جديدة من أربع سنوات، إلا أن مؤشرات عديدة وقعت بدّدت ما ذهب إليه ذلك البعض، فيروس كوفيد – 19 “كورونا” يتصدّر قائمة التحديات المستجدة في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية. فآلية التعاطي الترامبي ومعه إدارته في ملف كورونا تحديداً وما يتفرّع عنه من قضايا وإشكاليات تعصف بالمجتمع الأميركي.

كلها أمور وضعت ترامب في مكان لا يرغب به بتاتاً، لا سيما بالنظر إلى استطلاعات الرأي التي أجريت حتى تاريخه وتكشف عن تقدّم لافت لمنافسه الديمقراطي جو بايدن.

وسائل الإعلام الأميركية التي وصفها ترامب بـ”المزيفة” في أكثر من محفل، تراقب عن كثب ماراتون السباق إلى البيت الأبيض، فمثلا صحيفة نيويورك تايمز – من دون أن تتبنى – استعانت بمصادر قالت إن استمزاج رأي داخل حملة ترامب يقّر أن الأخير خسر التأييد الذي كسبه في وقت مبكر من أزمة كورونا، هذا الاعتراف من داخل البيت الترامبي تزامن مع استطلاعات رأي أجريت في أكثر من ولاية أميركية، موالية كانت لمجلس الشيوخ “الجمهوري” أم مناصرة لمجلس النواب “الديمقراطي” وكشفت بوضوح تفوق بايدن على ترامب، المُطَالَب من قبل مشرّعين جمهوريين أولاً.. للحدّ من ظهوره الإعلامي وتصريحاته المشبعة بالأخطاء حيث يبدو ترامب كـ”مهرج سيرك” مبتدئ ينشد النجومية، ما يفقده أصوات ناخبين قد يجدون في بايدن طوق نجاة؛ وثانياً التحرك بقوة وحزم لمواجهة حالة الركود الاقتصادي التي بدأت في الظهور. الأرق الاقتصادي الذي ينتاب ترامب هذه الأيام ربما هو ما يجعل ترامب لا ينظر أبعد من ذلك، وإلا كيف يمكن تفسير دعوته الأخيرة لسكان الولايات الخمسين إلى “تحرير” الولايات في إشارة واضحة لكسر حالة الطوارئ المعلنة!! بخاصة أن المتابع لتصريحات ترامب منذ ظهور فيروس كورونا بالأمس القريب واللامبالاة التي قابله بها حتى اليوم، حيث تتصدّر أميركا دول العالم في أعداد المصابين والوفيات، المتابع يدرك جيداً أن ترامب ما انبرى يسأل عن فائدة إغلاق البلاد وما خلّفه ذلك من ارتفاع معدلات البطالة. وهذا يكشف أهمية الاقتصاد لترامب، وهو ما دفعه لاستئناف القطاعات الاقتصادية نشاطها، الأمر الذي أثار مخاوف كبيرة وهواجس مقلقة داخل أوساط القطاع الطبي الأميركي إذ في عهد ترامب صاحب شعار “إعادة أميركا عظيمة مجدداً” يتهاوى الأميركيون موتى بأعداد مرعبة كل يوم، كمدينة نيويورك مثلاً التي تدفن ضحايا كورونا في مقابر جماعية.

لذا السؤال كيف نبني موقفاً حاسماً لجهة مَن سيربح الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية، الإجابة ستكون أعقد من مسألة أن نصدر توقعات في هذا السياق، بايدن تحدّى ترامب وتوعده بإلحاق أقسى هزيمة، فهل يفعلها بايدن؟ خاصة أن مؤشرات تقول: قد ينجح ترامب!! أم أن كورونا قد يضع الجميع أمام واقع إرجاء الانتخابات من أساسها والمقررة في نوفمبر تشرين الثاني المقبل.

من يحي يرَ

*صحافية سورية

Global Economic Collapse Reveals the Complete Failure of Neo-Liberal Capitalism

Global Economic Collapse Reveals the Complete Failure of Neo-Liberal Capitalism

Written by Dr. Leon Tressell exclusively for SouthFront

  • Fitch Ratings, ‘Unparalleled Global Recession Underway’
  • Economist Sven Heinrich, ‘Central banks are weapons of economic mass destruction.’

As each day passes by data pours in revealing the immense economic damage caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Most politicians and economic pundits will put the blame for up the economic hurricane, blasting tens of millions into unemployment, on Coronavirus lock downs. Fitch Ratings has given a brief snapshot of the unfolding economic catastrophe which it predicts will last well into the 2020s:

“World GDP is now expected to fall by 3.9% in 2020, a recession of unprecedented depth in the post-war period. This is twice as large as the decline anticipated in our early April GEO update and would be twice as severe as the 2009 recession.”

“The decline in GDP equates to a USD2.8 trillion fall in global income levels relative to 2019 and a loss of USD4.5 trillion relative to our pre-virus expectations of 2020 global GDP. Fitch expects Eurozone GDP to decline by 7%, US GDP by 5.6%, and UK GDP by 6.3% in 2020.”javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

Yet at the beginning of this year the financial media and political classes around the world were making rosy forecasts how we were going to experience moderate economic growth this year built upon solid economic foundations. There was no cause for worry or alarm just let global capital work its magic and trickle-down economics would ensure living standards would rise for all.

Fast forward 4 months and a global health pandemic has revealed how shallow, brittle and unstable were the economic foundations of the neo-liberal economic order that has been heralded as such a success since the Reagan-Thatcher era of the 1980s. These foundations were built upon infinitely low interest rates, an exponential rise in debt both public and private (sending global debt over the $250 trillion mark) and a massive increase in social and economic inequality. Alongside this, has been the intense exploitation of nations in the developing world and the use of regime change wars as naked resource grabs which cement the neo-liberal economic model in position.The world economy was slowing down during 2019 and heading towards a global recession. Japan’s economy had already entered recession territory in the last quarter of 2019, meanwhile PMI data from China and Germany indicated that they were hovering just outside recession territory.The global economy at the end of 2019 was teetering on the brink and just needed a catalyst or pin to pop the everything bubble which has seen massive inflation in the prices of paper assets across the globe ranging from stocks and bonds to derivatives such as collateralized loan obligations.

The anaemic economic growth experienced by global capitalism since the last financial crisis, which was a mere 12 years ago, has been based upon a gigantic expansion of the global money supply as central banks and governments mistakenly believe that the only way to sustain our debt fuelled economic system was to create ever more debt.

The last 12 years since the 2008 global financial crisis have witnessed an unparalleled wealth transfer from the working classes to the billionaire class which wields immense political influence over governments across the world. Central bank stimulus programs i.e. quantitative easing together with historically low interest rates fuelled a speculative bonanza which has pushed financial markets to all-time highs across the globe.

Meanwhile, governments across the world have sought to give the hard pressed billionaire class a helping hand by cutting capital gains, income and corporation taxes across the board. President Trump’s $1 trillion tax give away to the economic elites in 2017 is the most egregious example of this phenomena.

At the same time, wages for billions of ordinary people have stagnated or fallen whilst welfare benefits and health care have declined. We now have the utterly surreal situation whereby 26 billionaires control as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity amounting to over 3.8 billion people.

The working and middle classes together with the underemployed poor of the developing world were made to pay for the costs of the 2008 global economic crisis. Once the Coronavirus pandemic has finally burned itself out the working people of this world will be confronted with an economic depression which will rival and indeed may exceed in severity that of the 1930s. Governments across the board will once again seek to make ordinary people pay for the cost of the gigantic debts incurred by government and central bank bailouts.

In a desperate effort to prop up their system and protect the interests of their own class central bankers and corporate politicians across the globe are presiding over yet another wealth transfer that benefits the richest 1% in society. Bloomberg has noted how over $8 trillion has been printed out of thin air by global central banks and governments to prop up their debt fuelled system. The bulk of this horde of fiat money has gone to service the needs of Wall Street and its counterparts in London, Paris Frankfurt, Shanghai et cetera.The Wall Street Journal has openly acknowledged this truth in an editorial:

“The Fed may feel all of this is essential to protect the financial system’s plumbing and reduce systemic risk until the virus crisis passes, but make no mistake the Fed is protecting Wall Street first. The goal seems to be to lift asset prices, as the Fed did after the financial panic, and hope that the wealth effect trickles down to the rest of the economy.”

As the 2020s progress massive wealth and health inequalities, hunger and poverty will lead large numbers of people to question the hyper financialised economic system whose sole motive is to protect the interests of the 1%.

The American dominated monetary system which gives preferential treatment to the empire and its allies is in decline. Its decline will be exacerbated by the twin hammer blows of the Coronavirus pandemic and the global economic depression now unfolding.

During the coming decade the make the world will become an even more unstable place as the hegemonic power of our era seeks to maintain its dominant position in the global economy at the expense of other nations. The contradictions and tensions between the United States and its rival China will be greatly exacerbated during the next period. As we saw in the 1930s once these economic contradictions and tensions reach breaking point then the superpowers of the day have few course of action open to them beyond war or appeasement of their rival.Yet during the 1930s there were instances where the onward march to war could have been averted. If Republican Spain had defeated Franco’s fascist insurgency then the momentum towards war would have been slowed. It would have greatly strengthened the Popular Front government in France and halted the appeasement policies that allowed Nazi Germany to grow in strength like a cancerous tumour.
During the next decade there will no doubt be other such instances where the onward march to war can be averted.

Towards A New World Order? The Global Debt Crisis and the Privatization of the State

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, April 17, 2020

There is a serious health crisis which must be duly resolved. And this is a number one priority.

But there is another important dimension which has to be addressed. 

Millions of people have lost their jobs, and their lifelong savings. In developing countries, poverty and despair prevail. 

While the lockdown is presented to public opinion as  the sole means to resolving a global public health crisis,  its devastating economic and social impacts are casually ignored.  

The unspoken truth is that the novel coronavirus provides a pretext to powerful financial interests and corrupt politicians to precipitate the entire World into a spiral of  mass unemployment, bankruptcy and extreme poverty. 

This is the true picture of what is happening.  Poverty is Worldwide. While famines are erupting in Third World countries, closer to home,  in the richest country on earth,

millions of desperate Americans wait in long crowded lines for handouts”

“Miles-long lines formed at food banks and unemployment offices across the US over the past week”   

In India:

food is disappearing, ….  in shanty towns, too scared to go out, walking home or trapped in the street crackdowns,

In India there have been 106 coronavirus deaths as of today, to put things in perspective 3,000 Indian children starve to death each day” 

From Mumbai to New York City. It’s the “Globalization of Poverty”.

Production is at a standstill. 

Starvation in Asia and Africa. Famine in the U.S. 

All countries are now Third World countries. It’s the “Thirdworldisation” of the so-called high income “developed countries”.  

And what is happening in Italy?

People are running out of food. Reports confirm that the Mafia rather than the government “is gaining local support by distributing free food to poor families in quarantine who have run out of cash”. (The Guardian)

This crisis combines fear and panic concerning the COVID-19 together with a sophisticated process of economic manipulation.

Let us first examine the impacts pertaining to the developing countries.

Developing Countries. The IMF’s “Economic Medicine” and the Globalization of Poverty

Is the coronavirus crisis part of a broader macro-economic agenda?

First some historical background.

I spent more than ten years undertaking field research on the impacts of IMF-World Bank economic reforms in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Since the early 1980s, “strong economic medicine” was imposed on indebted developing countries under what was called the “structural adjustment program” (SAP).

From 1992 to 1995, I undertook field research in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam and returned to Latin America to complete my study on Brazil. In all the countries I visited, including Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco and The Philippines, I observed the same pattern of economic manipulation and political interference by the Washington-based institutions. In India, directly resulting from the IMF reforms, millions of people had been driven into starvation. In Vietnam – which constitutes among the world’s most prosperous rice producing economies – local-level famines had erupted resulting directly from the lifting of price controls and the deregulation of the grain market. (Preface to the Second Edition of the Globalization of Poverty, 2003)

 The hegemony of the dollar was imposed. With mounting dollar denominated debt, eventually in most developing countries the entire national monetary system was “dollarized”.

Massive austerity measures were conducive to the collapse in real wages. Sweeping privatization programs were imposed. These deadly economic reforms -applied on behalf the creditors- invariably triggered economic collapse, poverty and mass unemployment.

In Nigeria starting in the 1980s, the entire public health system had been dismantled. Public hospitals were driven into bankruptcy. The medical doctors with whom I spoke described the infamous structural adjustment program (SAP) with a touch of humor:

“we’ve been sapped by the SAP”, they said, our hospitals have literally been destroyed courtesy of the IMF-World Bank.

From Structural Adjustment to Global Adjustment

Today, the mechanism for triggering poverty and economic collapse is fundamentally different and increasingly sophisticated.

The ongoing 2020 Economic Crisis is tied into the logic of the COVID-19 pandemic: No need for the IMF-World Bank to negotiate a structural adjustment loan with national governments.

What has occurred under the COVID-19 crisis is a “Global Adjustment” in the structure of the World economy. In one fell swoop this Global Adjustment (GA) triggers a Worldwide process of bankruptcy, unemployment, poverty and total despair.

How is it implemented? The lockdown is presented to national governments as the sole solution to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic. It becomes a political consensus, irrespective of the devastating economic and social consequences.A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Financial Crash

No need to reflect or analyze the likely impacts. Corrupt national governments are pressured to comply.

The partial or complete closing down of a national economy is triggered through the enforcement of  so-called “WHO guidelines” pertaining to the lockdown, as well as to trade, immigration and transportation restrictions, etc.

Powerful financial institutions and lobby groups including Wall Street, Big Pharma, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were involved in shaping the actions of the WHO pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown together with the curtailment of trade and air travel had set the stage. This closing down of national economies was undertaken Worldwide starting in the month of  March,  affecting simultaneously a large of number of countries in all major regions of the World.  It is unprecedented in World history.

Why did leaders in high office let it happen? The consequences were obvious.

This closing down operation affects production and supply lines of goods and services, investment activities, exports and imports, wholesale and retail trade, consumer spending, the closing down of schools, colleges and universities, research institutions, etc.

In turn it leads almost immediately to mass unemployment, bankruptcies of small and medium sized enterprises, a collapse in purchasing power, widespread poverty and famine.

What is the underlying objective of this restructuring of the global economy?  What are the consequences? Cui Bono? 

  • A massive concentration of wealth,
  • the destabilization of small and middle sized enterprises in all major areas of economic activity including the services economy, agriculture and manufacturing.
  • It derogates the rights of workers. It destabilizes labor markets.
  • It compresses wages (and labor costs) in the so-called high income “developed countries” as well as in the impoverished developing countries.

Needless to say this Global Adjustment (GA) operation is far more detrimental than the country-level IMF-WB structural adjustment program (SAP).

It is neoliberalism to the nth degree.

In one fell swoop (in the course of the last months) the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to impoverishing a large sector of the World population.

And Guess who comes to the rescue? The IMF and the World Bank:

The IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has casually acknowledged that the World economy has come to a standstill, without addressing the causes of economic collapse.

“The WHO is there to protect the Health of the People, The IMF is there to protect the health of the World economy” says Georgieva.

 How does she intend to “protect the World economy”?

At the expense of the national economy?

What’s her “magic solution”?

 “We rely on $1 trillion in overall lending capacity.” (IMF M-D Georgieva, Press Conference in early March)

At first sight this appears to be “generous”, a lot money. But ultimately it’s what we might call “fictitious money”, what it means is:

“We will lend you the money and with the money we lend you, you will pay us back”.(paraphrase).

The ultimate objective is to make the external (dollar denominated) debt go fly high.

The IMF is explicit. In one of its lending windows, the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which applies to pandemics, generously,

“provides grants for debt relief to our poorest and most vulnerable members.”

Nonsensical statement: it is there to replenish the coffers of the creditors, the money is allocated to debt servicing.

“For low-income countries and for emerging middle-income countries we have … up to $50 billion that does not require a full-fledged IMF program.”

No conditions on how you spend the money. But this money increases the debt stock and requires reimbursement.

The countries are already in a straight-jacket. And the objective is that they comply with the demands of the creditors.

That’s the neoliberal solution applied at a global level: No real economic recovery, more poverty and unemployment Worldwide. The “solution” becomes the “cause”. It initiates a new process of indebtedness. It contributes to an escalation of the debt.

The more you lend, the more you squeeze the developing countries into political compliance. And ultimately that is the objective of the failing American Empire.

The unspoken truth is that this one trillion dollars ++ of the Bretton Woods institutions is intended to drive up the external debt.

In recent developments, the G20 Finance ministers decided to “put on hold”,  the repayment of debt servicing obligations of the World’s poorest countries.

The cancellation of debt has not been envisaged. Quite the opposite. The strategy consists in building up the debt.

It is important that the governments of developing countries take a firm stance against the IMF-World Bank “rescue operation”. 

The Global Debt Crisis in the Developed Countries

An unprecedented fiscal crisis is unfolding at all levels of government. With high levels of unemployment, incoming tax revenues in developed countries are almost at a standstill.  In the course of the last 2 months, national governments have become increasingly indebted.

In turn, Western governments as well as political parties are increasingly under the control of  the creditors, who ultimately call the shots.

All levels of governments have been precipitated into a debt stranglehold. The debt cannot be repaid. In the US, the federal deficit “has increased by 26% to $984 billion for fiscal 2019, highest in 7 years”.  And that is just the beginning.

In Western countries, a colossal expansion of the public debt has occurred. It is being used to finance the “bailouts”, the “handouts” to corporations as well as “the social safety nets” to the unemployed.

The logic of the bailouts is in some regards similar to that of the 2008 economic crisis, but on a much larger scale. Ironically, in 2008, US banks were both the creditors of the US federal government as well as the lucky recipients: the rescue operation was funded by the banks with a view to  “bailing out the banks”. Sounds contradictory?

The Privatization of the State

This crisis will  eventually precipitate the privatization of the state. Increasingly, national governments will be under the stranglehold of Big Money.

Crippled by mounting debts, what is at stake is the eventual de facto privatization of the entire state structure, in different countries, at all levels of government, under the surveillance of powerful financial interests. The fiction of  “sovereign governments” serving the interests of the electors will nonetheless be maintained.

The first level of government up for privatization will be the municipalities (many of which are already partially or fully privatized, e.g. Detroit in 2013). America’s billionaires will be enticed to buy up an entire city.

Several major cities are already on the verge of bankruptcy. (This is nothing new).

Is the city of Vancouver up for privatization?: “the mayor of Vancouver has already indicated that he feared the bankruptcy of his city.” (Le Devoir, April 15, 2020)

In America’s largest cities, people are simply unable to pay their taxes: The debt of New York City for fiscal 2019 is a staggering $91.56 billion (FY 2019) an increase of 132% since FY 2000. In turn personal debts across America have skyrocketed.

“U.S. households collectively carry about $1 trillion in credit card debt”. No measures are being taken in the US to reduce the interest rates on credit card debt.

The New World Order?

The lockdown impoverishes both the developed and developing countries and literally destroys national economies.

It destabilizes the entire economic landscape. It undermines social institutions including schools and universities. It spearheads small and medium sized enterprises into bankruptcy.

What kind of World awaits us?

A diabolical “New World Order” in the making as suggested by Henry Kissinger? (WSJ Opinion, April 3, 2020):

“The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”

Recall Kissinger’s historic 1974 statement: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World.” (1974 National Security Council Memorandum)

The political implications are far-reaching.

 What kind of government will we have in the wake of the crisis?

Concluding Remarks

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the nature of this crisis.

Several progressive intellectuals are now saying that this crisis constitutues a defeat of neoliberalism. “It opens up a new beginning”.

Some people see it as a “potential turning point”, which opens up an opportunity to “build socialism” or “restore social democracy” in the wake of the lockdown.

The evidence amply confirms that neoliberalism has not been defeated. Quite the opposite.

Global capitalism has consolidated its clutch. Fear and panic prevail. The State is being privatized. The tendency is towards authoritarian forms of government.

These are the issues which we must address.

That historical opportunity to confront the power structures of global capitalism, –including the US-NATO military apparatus– remains to be firmly established in wake of the lockdown.


The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order

In this expanded edition of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

This book is a skillful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically.

In this updated and enlarged edition – which includes ten additional chapters and a new introduction – the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalization.

“This concise, provocative book reveals the negative effects of imposed economic structural reform, privatization, deregulation and competition. It deserves to be read carefully and widely.”
– Choice, American Library Association (ALA)

“The current system, Chossudovsky argues, is one of capital creation through destruction. The author confronts head on the links between civil violence, social and environmental stress, with the modalities of market expansion.”
– Michele Stoddard, Covert Action Quarterly

Global Research Price: $19.00
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The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020


Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism

April 14, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker blog

I’m only three years from being a Millennial myself but, wow! They sure have had a much rougher go of it:

Most of them were teenagers when the “victory” of the “leader of the free world” came crashing down on 9/11. Jingoistic hysteria against (fictitious, always Pentagon-supported) Islamic radicalism was followed by the Great Recession. The alleged “economic recovery” was always limited to the 1%, and now we have the coronavirus panic. Ever since 2008, when my elders start to decry the alleged character flaws of the Millennial generation I always point out how they were handed so many handicaps.

“The only Millennials with a decent job and no debt were those selected in the first round of the NBA draft,” is my usual attempt at pithiness. It’s surprising that the phrase “Ok, boomer” took so long to develop, frankly?

So what’s going to happen to this beleaguered bunch post-corona? It seems like even more burdens will be heaped on them, and I can think of five important ones:

First, there will be no growth-rebuilding “corona reconstruction” because infrastructure is not destroyed in a pandemic. When the corona craziness dies down the neoliberals in the US and the austerity-evangelicals in the Eurozone are going to be just as resistant to taxing the rich in order to give useful jobs to the poor as they have been for the past four decades.

Second, there are many fearful Mainstream Media articles detailing how after the Black Plague workers in Europe were emboldened to demand more wages and rights. This is merely an interesting historical vignette – there are no mass deaths in 2020. Therefore, once the corona hysteria ends you will have a flood of workers competing with each other for jobs. In a parallel, compounding development, good jobs will also be even more scarce than in 2008 (although maybe the NBA will expand?) because the corona overreaction is creating such enormous economic devastation with mass bankruptcies, closures and reduced government tax revenue sure to result. Due to a lack of socialist controls and planning, the law of supply and demand will rule unfettered – wages are sure to drop.

Third, the very sectors where Millennials can be most often found – restaurants, retail, tourism, hospitality and creative – will be the most decimated by corona lockdowns. What’s more, this age group has – necessarily – the least seniority, experience and skills and thus they will be the first to be fired in every sector. Labor participation rate for Millennials had only just returned to pre-2008 levels, but – as I stressed to my often-dismissive elders – levels “returned” only via terrible part-time jobs, gig economy work and short-term contracts in Europe. How long will it take to return to (these fundamentally inferior) pre-2020 levels?

Fourth, in these lousy, poorly-paid pieces of under-employment “benefits” like health care, pension contributions and unemployment insurance were often non-existent. The US bailouts have thrown them some unemployment insurance for a few months, but will it be enough? Not to pay the overhead for the moderate-to-successful Millennial classes – that is absolutely certain. Dirt-poor Millennials will, at best, not stop being dirt-poor, and certainly will return after these modest “bailouts” quickly finish. Millennials were already worse off in every major economic indicator compared to their Generation X, Baby Boomer and Silent Generation counterparts.

Fifth, if you thought Millennials were too sensitive before, then imagine how they will be after the corona trauma? There is no “victory” to be had here for the survivors – all they did was cower at home, sometimes snitch on their neighbors, and often couldn’t even risk trying to volunteer to help the elderly and vulnerable. This is going to create guilt and shame personally, mistrust and resentment socially, and a desire to save, hoard and not take risks economically.

And, please note, this is the bad situation for the White youth class in the West – imagine being non-White, or Muslim, or (gasp!) both non-White and Muslim?

To summarise briefly, the same logic will hold true for individuals as for businesses: anyone without savings or stable access to credit NOW is about to be dragged under. Millennials have the least amount of savings, social credit or economic credit.

So what is to be done?

There is a lot of fear among the corporate MSM, conservatives and corporate neo-fascists that the economic downturn caused by the corona lockdown will cause the Millennials and younger to embrace socialism.

To this I respond: Well, it would be about time.

A hugely common Western misconception during the 1950s and 60s was that the youth class would carry the day and float the elderly off on icebergs to the North Pole. We now know much more about modern Western capitalism: this was undoubtedly misguided, because in the West it is the elder classes which dominate the economic assets and political power, and are just as weighty arbiters of cultural power.

As I have repeatedly discussed, only in China and Iran did the upheavals of the 1960s translate into actual political and economic power for the youth class, and thanks to (the world’s only two) state-sponsored Cultural Revolutions. Contrarily, in the West their victory was limited to the pop culture sphere – their Cultural Revolution was repressed and halted, yes, because the real failure lay within the populace: they simply weren’t real, class-warfare, anti-imperialist leftists, apparently.

Maybe this will change now?

However, (truly) fake-leftist Bernie Sanders just bowed out (hilarious timing from a reliable Democratic Party toady); Jeremy Corbyn’s (fake-leftist) anti-Brexit stance failed (of course) and his replacement is far more conservative; France’s (fake-)left wants four things: wine, pornography, no religion whatsoever and to smash the superb Yellow Vest movement’s call for a French Cultural Revolution by any means necessary.

So what is to be done?

The political nihilists – who are stupid, wrong, lazy and cowardly – insist that leftism has failed everywhere in 2020, but there are a dozen or so examples which prove them wrong (simply look to the countries the US organises Western sanctions against). The West, being evangelical, chauvinistic and used to leading for two centuries, ignores and/or denigrates all of these examples.

Now one thing I always try to do is to shoot myself in the foot – as far as getting my articles rebroadcast, retweeted and the like – by praising Iran when deserved. I mean, what surer way is there today to terrify fake-leftist, rabidly-secularist Anglophones and Westerners than to stick up for not just Iran but also (and I’m not sure which is worse to them) Islamic Socialism?

But I feel compelled to point out that the corona-situation of Iranian Millennials (i.e. their youth class) is not anywhere as dire as for their Western counterparts, and I need only one reason to prove why: most of them live at home until they are married or around 30.

Iranian young adults who aren’t working now – at least they aren’t racking up rent/mortgage debt, eh?

What’s more: there are no Western credit card companies in Iran due to the Western blockade, and formal interest rates are constrained by the morals of Islamic finance, so what credit card debt? University eduction is widespread and cheap, so what university debt? The medical system is the best in the region and, while absolute poverty has not been totally eradicated anywhere, it is undoubtedly within the reach of Iran’s lower class, so what medical debt? Europeans usually enjoy the latter two realities, at least, so you can’t say I am talking about impossibilities. Corona quarantines are hardest on the lower class everywhere, but Iran is a socialist-inspired society so political policy actually addresses their needs first and has done so since 1979.

Unlike Europeans (especially Anglo-Saxons), Iran’s entire (allegedly) “failed to launch” youth class also have far more emotional support than in atomised Western households. This is not a small thing for some people during the corona crisis, but also post-corona.

However Iran is not the only example of success amid the post-1980 neoliberal era: it’s grounds for calls of “traitor” in the US, but is not Russia’s amazing rebound after the tragedy of the USSR’s implosion not worthy of interest? How did they do that? They are a socialist-inspired culture to some degree, but what about the continent of China and tiny Cuba as well? The point here is: the primary obstacle Millennials have to overcome are lifetimes of Gen X, Boomer and Silent Generation TINA (There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism)) to realise that socialism is an actual, still-viable, never-going-away source of solutions.

Without openly promoting socialism all the complaints and public disavowals of Western imperialism-capitalism ultimately reach a dead end, after all. Millennials need to learn that class warfare exists, but in the West only the 1% is cognisant of this reality.

Unfortunately, to see how wide the political-intellectual gap is simply consider: US imperialism more dangerous than coronavirus for international community: Iran president. What other national leaders would say such thing in 2020?

How many actually did say it in 1918 amid the Spanish Flu pandemic? In 2020 you would be crucified for saying that – despite its obvious accuracy – and certainly not retweeted.

But Western Millennials are free to ignore existing examples, and also to go on hating God, Mom, Dad, socialism, central planning, strong social safety nets, all governments etc.; they are perfectly free to stay focused on the current corona “War on Dying” and to not immediately demand socialist-inspired policies for a youth class which keeps being forced to bear the domestic brunt of Western neoliberalism and (never even broached domestic) neo-imperialism.

They’re still young – maybe they’ll get drafted by the NBA?

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Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020 – April 13, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response

April 10, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

I found out today
We’re going wrong.
– Cream – We’re Going Wrong – 1967 album Disraeli Gears

Shortly after reading about the latest 7 million Americans who made unemployment claims this week that song shuffled on my iPod. It’s a haunting and even frightening song, and while that makes it sound like some lame emo band we must remember that it’s being played by the rock super-dupergroup of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.

The song is a psychedelic ode to the terrifying realisations caused by a middle-class freak-out, which were occurring regularly across the West back in 1967. Somebody’s mind has just been opened to the fact that the path they were on is not right. Why was it not right? Because they had failed to ever look inward – they had accepted the prevailing nonsense without questioning it.

Today it’s hard not to have this same feeling that the Western trajectory is veering out of control… but only because that is entirely the case: capitalist – i.e. growth-demanding – economies are hysterically yanking out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture (competitive demand) as if their house won’t collapse immediately.

Because there is none of the dependability provided by central planning, Western capitalism is flying blind because it has wilfully broken its fundamentals – how can any investor, CEO or supply clerk accurately foresee the economic future for at least several months (at a minimum)?

Thus a good comparison is Gorbachev’s “fatal error” in 1987, so-called “self-financing”: that yanked out the single-most important pillar of their economic culture – central planning – for enterprises which controlled 60% of all Soviet output. The immediate, radical reordering sparked economic chaos, then bread lines, then the undemocratic, top-down implosion of the USSR.

In my previous article I condensed the economic data and gave the undeniable conclusion: Who now needs a bailout in the West as a result of the poverty-inducing corona response? Wall Street, Main Street, the County Seat, State Capitol Plaza and Corporate Circle. Everybody.

Of course “bailout” is a euphemism for “loan”, meaning that the “lucky” in these sectors will simply get more and more indebted to a 1% which actually only gets smaller, smaller, richer and richer (as Marx proved).

Want mediocrity? Turn to the middle-class

What was rather fascinating is that among all the articles I have read about our new corona-world I found only one single instance of a Mainstream Media relaying a complaint of how the corona response was a middling, “middle-class” solution.

The entire plan had the imagination of a middle-class person,” was the tough assessment of Harsh Mander, director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Equity Studies. “People were asked to maintain social distance, wash their hands and stay home assuming they have homes and salaries going into bank accounts.

It is interesting that open resentment towards the middle class seemingly surfaced only in India: It’s hard to imagine a middle-class with a more disagreeable sense of entitlement than the pudgy middle managers from the mighty continent of India. One need not be an untouchable Dalit to believe that while a college degree might be a marginally-impressive achievement, using it to work at a Western corporation’s call centre is really not proof of hot stuff; one need not question the reactionary caste system to point out that such a middling life is not sufficient justification for maintaining a system of alleged karmic supremacism. Thus, I would imagine that in India today the term “middle-class” carries as many condescending connotations as it did in the Anglophone world back in 1967.

“But the West is not India”, you will object. Indeed, nobody talks about class or caste in the former. But high-and-mighty Westerners must concede that it is also not 1967 for them, back when union membership was high and an 18-year old male could exit high school assured of not just a decent-paying job but even house and car loans from private banks. (LOL, Millennials think I am making this up, but ask your grandparents – this was actually the case!)

Let’s accept Harsh’s mild definition of “middle class”: somebody who has a nice home, savings and the resources to comfortably weather months of societal turmoil. Using that definition, how very few qualify as “middle class” in the West in 2020!

The 17 million Americans who have been added to unemployment ranks in the past 15 days now have not only no income but no health care and no pension (which had become nearly non-existent in their private sector, anyway). The number is not higher than 17 million in 15 days only because the USA’s antiquated 1980s computer infrastructure could not process more claims. These people are definitely not middle-class.

You could have a family of four and an income of $90,000 in the US but how can you call yourself “middle class” when you strain to afford middling versions of health insurance plans, college education, child care and elder care? And heaven forbid you have to pay for all four at once. These people lack the stability to be called middle-class.

What is middle-class in France? I rarely meet anybody taking home more than 2,000 euros per month. That sum was fine in 1980, but after a Lost Decade produced by austerity – with its increased taxes, steady price inflation and social services which are no longer paid for by the state – their middle-class now suffers from lower-class instability as well.

The reality is that “middle class” in the West in 2020 is actually what used to be called the “upper-middle class” – their entire society has been devalued by a standard deviation since 1980 due to neoliberal capitalism.

Across the West doctors are telling 64-year old Uber drivers to quit in order to avoid exposure to coronavirus, and their journalists are agreeing with this remedy, as if such a person is only Ubering because they have a passion for people-moving? Such advice is middling, middle-class nonsense.

Corona is forcing the West’s upper class to learn that the middle-class mentality has been blown apart, and not by Cream and loud bass but by inequality-provoking socioeconomic policies which fundamentally disregard the needs of the middle and lower classes. Contrarily, the needs of those classes are always and indisputably the primary policy focus of socialist-inspired nations, which is why the West declares Cold War on them.

The West’s upper-class is telling their lower classes to commit suicide

The US fake-left has practically deified Dr. Anthony Fauci mainly because he openly contradicts Trump, but also because middle-class Westerners slavishly worship at the altar of technocracy, which rests upon the false idol of their imaginary meritocracy.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson made the correct observation that not only is this lockdown economic “national suicide” but that Fauci had “bulletproof job security”; this meant that, “He has the luxury of looking at the world through the narrow lens of his professionHe doesn’t seem to think much outside that lens.

For anyone who thinks Carlson pegged him wrong, Fauci recently said: ‘I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you.” That is the “cultural suicide” assessment and bizarre goal of the man who essentially has been given the power to guide US socio-economic policy.

Fauci is not middle-class, but his workaholic, narrow view certainly is stereotypically middle-class; his total disregard for life as it is lived by living, pulsating, hungry, unstable workers certainly is middle-class.

Instead of a vanguard party which is in touch with the lower classes, the US has promoted the singular view of this germ-obsessed technician (and I’m sure Fauci is considering the broader effects of a lockdown on the municipal bond market in his non-lab time/non-hand washing time).

In an interesting article by USA TodayThis is what China did to beat coronavirus. Experts say America couldn’t handle it, we can see a government which is invasive, or we can see a government which is actually touching and in-touch with the average person – which you see depends on your lens.

But have no doubt: testing, tracing, treating, quarantining – these are all things which require mass mobilisation of pulsating humans, and which were done under an unassailable Chinese government slogan of, “No one left behind”.

China demands the ill have “zero contact” with healthy people, and that is rigorous; Fauci seems to want everyone to have “zero contact”, period, permanently.

Fauci’s slogan is more like “I want to leave you behind”, and is that not the middle-class Western dream: To leave the sick, hungry and poor – including their White Trash – behind in their rear-view mirror?

Insist that socialist-inspired nations are totalitarian and unfeeling all you want, but nothing is more synonymous with “mediocrity” than the Western middle-class: “The approach we should be taking right now is one that most people would find to be too drastic because otherwise, it is not drastic enough,” Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health,” said to USA Today.

What a middling and mediocre statement. And what a middling and mediocre Western response to the corona crisis (which still could wind up as middling and mediocre, as far as pandemics go).

Expect many more freak-outs.

In a crisis mediocrity is not needed, but truly exceptional conduct and resolve. Unfortunately their most inspirational conceptual ideas – which could really help people through these tough times – go unreflected upon and not relayed by the Western corporate media.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

PEPE ESCOBAR: Who Profits from the Pandemic?

April 08, 2020

Pepe Escobar looks at a frightening future that might follow the already terrifying Covid-19 global outbreak. 

By Pepe Escobar
in Bangkok
Special to Consortium News

You don’t need to read Michel Foucault’s work on biopolitics to understand that neoliberalism – in deep crisis since at least 2008 – is a control/governing technique in which surveillance capitalism is deeply embedded.

But now, with the world-system collapsing at breathtaking speed, neoliberalism is at a loss to deal with the next stage of dystopia, ever present in our hyper-connected angst: global mass unemployment.

Henry Kissinger, anointed oracle/gatekeeper of the ruling class, is predictably scared. He claims that, “sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity.” He’s convinced the Hegemon should “safeguard the principles of the liberal world order.” Otherwise, “failure could set the world on fire.”

That’s so quaint. Public trust is dead across the spectrum. The liberal world “order” is now social Darwinist chaos. Just wait for the fire to rage.

The numbers are staggering. The Japan-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), in its annual economic report, may not have been exactly original. But it did note that the impact of the “worst pandemic in a century” will be as high as $4.1 trillion, or 4.8 percent of global GDP.

This an underestimation, as “supply disruptions, interrupted remittances, possible social and financial crises, and long-term effects on health care and education are excluded from the analysis.”

We cannot even start to imagine the cataclysmic social consequences of the crash. Entire sub-sectors of the global economy may not be recomposed at all.  

The International Labor Organization (ILO) forecasts global unemployment at a conservative, additonal 24.7 million people – especially in aviation, tourism and hospitality.

The global aviation industry is a humongous $2.7 trillion business. That’s 3.6 percent of global GDP. It employs 2.7 million people. When you add air transport and tourism —everything from hotels and restaurants to theme parks and museums — it accounts for a minimum of 65.5 million jobs around the world.

According to the ILO, income losses for workers may range from $860 billion to an astonishing $3.4 trillion. “Working poverty” will be the new normal – especially across the Global South.

“Working poor,” in ILO terminology, means employed people living in households with a per capita income below the poverty line of $2 a day. As many as an additional 35 million people worldwide will become working poor in 2020. 

Switching to feasible perspectives for global trade, it’s enlightening to examine that this report about how the economy may rebound is centered on the notorious hyperactive merchants and traders of Yiwu in eastern China – the world’s busiest small-commodity, business hub.

Their experience spells out a long and difficult recovery. As the rest of the world is in a coma, Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura in Hong Kong stresses that China faces a 30 percent decline in external demand at least until next Fall.

Neoliberalism in Reverse?

San Miguel, Bulacan, Philippines, 2016. (Judgefloro, CC0, Wikimedia Commons)

In the next stage, the strategic competition between the U.S. and China will be no-holds-barred, as emerging narratives of China’s new, multifaceted global role – on trade, technology, cyberspace, climate change – will set in, even more far-reaching than the New Silk Roads. That will also be the case in global public health policies. Get ready for an accelerated Hybrid War between the “Chinese virus” narrative and the Health Silk Road.

The latest report by the China Institute of International Studies would be quite helpful for the West — hubris permitting — to understand how Beijing adopted key measures putting the health and safety of the general population first. 

Now, as the Chinese economy slowly picks up, hordes of fund managers from across Asia are tracking everything from trips on the metro to noodle consumption to preview what kind of economy may emerge post-lockdown.

In contrast, across the West, the prevailing doom and gloom elicited a priceless editorial from The Financial Times. Like James Brown in the 1980s Blues Brothers pop epic, the City of London seems to have seen the light, or at least giving the impression it really means it. Neoliberalism in reverse. New social contract. “Secure” labor markets. Redistribution.

Cynics won’t be fooled. The cryogenic state of the global economy spells out a vicious Great Depression 2.0 and an unemployment tsunami. The plebs eventually reaching for the pitchforks and the AR-15s en masse is now a distinct possibility. Might as well start throwing a few breadcrumbs to the beggars’ banquet. 

That may apply to European latitudes. But the American story is in a class by itself.

Mural, Seattle, February 2017. (Mitchell Haindfield, Flickr)

For decades, we were led to believe that the world-system put in place after WWII provided the U.S. with unrivalled structural power. Now, all that’s left is structural fragility, grotesque inequalities, unpayable Himalayas of debt, and a rolling crisis.

No one is fooled anymore by the Fed’s magic quantitative easing powers, or the acronym salad – TALF, ESF, SPV – built into the Fed/U.S. Treasury exclusive obsession with big banks, corporations and the Goddess of the Market, to the detriment of the average American.   

It was only a few months ago that a serious discussion evolved around the $2.5 quadrillion derivatives market imploding and collapsing the global economy, based on the price of oil skyrocketing, in case the Strait of Hormuz – for whatever reason – was shut down. 

Now it’s about Great Depression 2.0: the whole system crashing as a result of the shutdown of the global economy. The questions are absolutely legitimate: is the political and social cataclysm of the global economic crisis arguably a larger catastrophe than Covid-19 itself?  And will it provide an opportunity to end neoliberalism and usher in a more equitable system, or something even worse?

 ‘Transparent’ BlackRock

Wall Street, of course, lives in an alternative universe. In a nutshell, Wall Street turned the Fed into a hedge fund. The Fed is going to own at least two thirds of all U.S. Treasury bills in the market before the end of 2020.

The U.S. Treasury will be buying every security and loan in sight while the Fed will be the banker – financing the whole scheme.

So essentially this is a Fed/Treasury merger. A behemoth dispensing loads of helicopter money.

And the winner is BlackRock—the biggest money manager on the planet, with tentacles everywhere, managing the assets of over 170 pension funds, banks, foundations, insurance companies, in fact a great deal of the money in private equity and hedge funds. BlackRock — promising to be fully  “transparent” — will buy these securities and manage those dodgy SPVs on behalf of the Treasury.

BlackRock, founded in 1988 by Larry Fink, may not be as big as Vanguard, but it’s the top investor in Goldman Sachs, along with Vanguard and State Street, and with $6.5 trillion in assets, bigger than Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank combined. 

Now, BlackRock is the new operating system (OS) of the Fed and the Treasury. The world’s biggest shadow bank – and no, it’s not Chinese.

Compared to this high-stakes game, mini-scandals such as the one around Georgia Senator Kelly Loffler are peanuts. Loffler allegedly profited from inside information on Covid-19 by the CDC to make a stock market killing. Loffler is married to Jeffrey Sprecher – who happens to be the chairman of the NYSE, installed by Goldman Sachs. 

While corporate media followed this story like headless chickens, post-Covid-19 plans, in Pentagon parlance, “move forward” by stealth. 

The price? A meager $1,200 check per person for a month. Anyone knows that, based on median salary income, a typical American family would need $12,000 to survive for two months. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in an act of supreme effrontry, allows them a mere 10 percent of that. So American taxpayers will be left with a tsunami of debt while selected Wall Street players grab the whole loot, part of an unparalleled transfer of wealth upwards, complete with bankruptcies en masse of small and medium businesses.

Fink’s letter to his shareholders almost gives the game away: “I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

And right on cue, he forecasted that, “in the near future – and sooner than most anticipate – there will be a significant reallocation of capital.”

He was referring, then, to climate change. Now that refers to Covid-19.

Implant Our Nanochip, Or Else?

West Virginia National Guard members reporting to a Charleston nursing home to assist with Covid-19 testing. April 6, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard, Edwin L. Wriston)

The game ahead for the elites, taking advantage of the crisis, might well contain these four elements: a social credit system, mandatory vaccination, a digital currency and a Universal Basic Income (UBI). This is what used to be called, according to the decades-old, time-tested CIA playbook, a “conspiracy theory.” Well, it might actually happen.

A social credit system is something that China set up already in 2014. Before the end of 2020, every Chinese citizen will be assigned his/her own credit score – a de facto “dynamic profile”, elaborated with extensive use of AI and the internet of things (IoT), including ubiquitous facial recognition technology. This implies, of course, 24/7 surveillance, complete with Blade Runner-style roving robotic birds.

The U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Russia and India may not be far behind. Germany, for instance, is tweaking its universal credit rating system, SCHUFA. France has an ID app very similar to the Chinese model, verified by facial recognition.

Mandatory vaccination is Bill Gates’s dream, working in conjunction with the WHO, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Big Pharma. He wants “billions of doses” to be enforced over the Global South. And it could be a cover to everyone getting a digital implant.

Here it is, in his own words. At 34:15: “Eventually what we’ll have to have is certificates of who’s a recovered person, who’s a vaccinated person…Because you don’t want people moving around the world where you’ll have some countries that won’t have it under control, sadly. You don’t want to completely block off the ability for people to go there and come back and move around.”

Then comes the last sentence which was erased from the official TED video. This was noted by Rosemary Frei, who has a master on molecular biology and is an independent investigative journalist in Canada. Gates says: “So eventually there will be this digital immunity proof that will help facilitate the global reopening up.”

This “digital immunity proof” is crucial to keep in mind, something that could be misused by the state for nefarious purposes.

The three top candidates to produce a coronavirus vaccine are American biotech firm Moderna, as well as Germans CureVac and BioNTech.

Digital cash might then become an offspring of blockchain. Not only the U.S., but China and Russia are also interested in a national crypto-currency. A global currency – of course controlled by central bankers – may soon be adopted in the form of a basket of currencies, and would circulate virtually. Endless permutations of the toxic cocktail of IoT, blockchain technology and the social credit system could loom ahead.

Already Spain has announced that it is introducing UBI, and wants it to be permanent. It’s a form insurance for the elite against social uprisings, especially if millions of jobs never come back.

So the key working hypothesis is that Covid-19 could be used as cover for the usual suspects to bring in a new digital financial system and a mandatory vaccine with a “digital identity” nanochip with dissent not tolerated: what Slavoj Zizek calls the “erotic dream” of every totalitarian government.

Yet underneath it all, amid so much anxiety, a pent-up rage seems to be gathering strength, to eventually explode in unforeseeable ways. As much as the system may be changing at breakneck speed, there’s no guarantee even the 0.1 percent will be safe. 

Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is “2030.” Follow him on Facebook.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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