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Indybay Feature
Corona epidemic and Yemen
by C Dettwiler, U Gasche and N Ramseyer
Wednesday Jun 10th, 2020 6:36 AM
Authorities first wanted to calm down and played down the pandemic. Afterward, they had to convince the population to keep unusual physical distance, to wash their hands well at all times, and to refrain from major events. Finally, they wanted the population to accept the week-long lockdown, with business closures, exit, and travel restrictions.
Corona accelerates the inevitable deglobalization

by Niklaus Ramseyer
Watchful people had long since recognized globalization as a dangerous impasse. The Corona crisis shows how right they are.

[This article published on 6/8/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.infosperber.ch/Artikel/Politik/Deglobalisierung-Nationalstaat-Ferien-Schweiz.]


... ou un amant, ou une maladie, ou une crise. (Photo: N. Ramseyer)

At level crossings in France, you can still see the sign with the warning: "Un train peut en cacher un autre" (A second train can hide behind one). In our western neighboring country, the smart vernacular has long since changed the formula to the winged word. Like this: "Un amant peut en cacher un autre." Or: "Une maladie peut en cacher une autre." (Behind a lover can hide a second. Or, "One illness can hide another.) At present this applies specifically to those "pre-sick" older people who died "of" or "with" Corona.

Above all, however, the following applies in general: "Several others can hide behind a crisis. Thus, the Corona pandemic is increasingly turning into an economic crisis - and behind it lie incisive political, ecological, and social problems.

Corona masks acutely more serious chronic threats

In many countries, the railway barrier is still halfway down. But when it goes back up again and the Corona train is gone, several problems lurk behind it, and in the long term, much more dangerous ones: first of all, global warming. It is a consequence of the almost totally (it) neoliberal profit, growth, and wear-and-tear economy. Their defenders had almost hoped that these problems could be off the table - or off the screen: "Nobody wants to know about Greta anymore! Accordingly, the FDP, together with parts of the SVP and the CVP, once again channeled billions of our taxpayers' money into air traffic without clear conditions in the Corona special session. The FDP believes that the most important thing now is to "regain worldwide freedom of movement". The NZZ is pleased: "In the long term, aviation is likely to remain a growth industry with a high level of competition, because more and more people around the world are reaching a level of prosperity that enables them to travel for business and pleasure. In short: With government afterburners soon fly on as before!

Free-spiritedness wants to fly further, exploit further and profit further as before

The fact that free-mindedness is trying with all means up to factually useless alternatives (Federal Councillor Keller-Suter's "counter-proposal") to ground the urgently needed corporate responsibility initiative goes in the same chapter: In resource-rich countries of the South, the impoverished local population is irresponsibly or even forcibly dredging away what little it has left and transporting it to the North with almost tax-free billions in profits? Just keep it up! Free trade even with palm oil from distant regions of the world (Malaysia and Indonesia) is more important than the protection of the rainforest, which has been rapidly and finally destroyed there. And this even though there are alternative agricultural products (rapeseed oil, butter) in this country. Wurstegal: Just keep it up!

40'000 airplanes in the air - 10'000 container ships on the seas

Just keep up the good work? In concrete terms, this would mean that by 2040 some 40,000 aircraft would be flying around the globe, that millions of articulated lorries would be carrying more and more goods back and forth across all continents, and that soon more than 10,000 huge container ships would be plowing the oceans over thousands of miles.

These ships are now up to 60 meters wide and almost 400 meters long. They can carry 25,000 container units (TEU) and reach a carrying capacity (tdw) of 200,000 tonnes. They are powered by extremely slow-running (under 100 rpm) two-stroke diesel engines of the Wärtsilä-Sulzer brand, the size of a block of flats. They deliver 80'000 kW (107'000 PS) of power. For 2 meters of travel of the ship, these giant engines consume 1 liter of fossil fuel.

"Much too much driving around and carting around"

The floating giants are the symbol of the uninhibited global traffic and transport economy. For decades, it has been growing much faster than the producing real economy: how exactly, is shown by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) based on WTO figures: The worldwide production of goods has increased by a factor of 7.3 (+ 625 percent) between 1960. At the same time, however, transnational trade (export of goods) multiplied from 1 (1960) to 19.7 (+1874 percent).

This means: instead of (locally) producing and consuming, goods are increasingly being transported around (worldwide). At the expense of the increasingly damaged environment - but this is hardly ever reflected in transport prices. And with absurd excesses: beech wood from forests in the Bernese Mittelland, in particular, is exported to China in containers.
And transporting these containers to Basel costs more than from there to Shanghai.

As Swiss Transport Minister decades ago, the Bernese SVP Federal Councillor Adolf Ogi had already warned briefly and succinctly against such madness: "We can get away with a great deal of madness! (There is simply too much driving and carting around.) Since then, clever people have repeatedly and more and more urgently formulated similar warnings. In vain: Under the protection of the World Trade Organization (WTO) it just went on and on - and faster and faster.

Globalization is a colossus on feet of clay

Until now, at the beginning of the year, a small virus rammed a rather large iron rod into the gears of this crazy world trade - and the whole thing came to a sudden halt. Several facts became immediately apparent:

1. commercial globalization failed in the stress test: retail chains immediately broke down and paralyzed entire companies in the productive economy (VW with 600,000 employees in Germany, for example). In contrast, regionally oriented companies with a high "vertical range of manufacture" (in-house production instead of fashionably "outsourced" from the cheapest supplier) had hardly any problems. For example, the harvesting machine manufacturer Grimme in Damme (Oldenburg, Germany): The 2700 employees of the former village smithy never had to go on short-time work because Grimme produces 85 percent of the parts of its potato harvesters in-house.

2: The best and virtually the only scope for effective countermeasures in the crisis is still the nation-state. In the previously ailing Brussels EU (Brexit, Hungary), everyone was fighting everyone else. And all borders (whether they were for free movement or free trade) were closed immediately. All member states made the best possible use of the room for maneuver of the EU, which was not yet so centrally powerful (and fortunately for them). And now Brussels is fighting over 750 billion euros to revive the slowed growth economy.

In an independent Switzerland, the Federal Council had the situation under control very quickly - and the population was largely behind it. With emergency measures and financial assistance (up to CHF 100 billion), the public authorities have acted, reacted, and governed decisively and effectively. The small-scale, manageable framework of our direct-democratic small state proved to be surprisingly crisis-resistant.

The transnational concept of "security through cooperation", on the other hand, turned out to be a mirage: in times of need you only have what you have - hardly anyone helps you. So it took revenge for the reckless privatization of the alcohol administration (SAB) in Germany at the beginning of 2018 and the fact that large stocks of ethanol had only recently been sold off without further ado: The authorities in Berne had to be transparent in the Corona crisis and claim that masks and disinfection were of little use. The population threatened by the virus should rather "wash their hands and keep their distance". But the authorities are hardly learning. After all, the same deregulation politicians who already privatized the SAB and decided to privatize part of the state-owned arms company RUAG, including the Ammotec (ammunition) division with companies in several countries, are now at least considering whether they really want to privatize Ammotec Switzerland in Thun. A state that no longer wants or is able to produce its own ammunition will no longer be able to use a rifle or even an army in an emergency.

4 In short: All the free-minded and otherwise right-wing ideologues who for decades sang the nasty song of privatization (because the state could do nothing and the private sector could do everything better), now had to watch open-mouthed how the private sector could do almost nothing against the virus (apart from the possibly despicable use of usurious prices for masks and disinfectants or the clever financial speculation to profit from the worldwide disaster) - while "the state" had to do almost everything. "State aid", as the EU had just wanted to prohibit Switzerland to a large extent with its already unnecessary and now probably definitely dead "framework agreement", suddenly existed (exception clauses accordingly) for everything and everyone. It was embarrassing: Even some of those shrewd private entrepreneurs, who had previously wanted to avoid paying taxes for years by means of "optimization" (and thus use our solid Swiss infrastructure for free), suddenly found themselves "up in Bern", in order to get a little state aid in their time of need from these "hated" taxes.

To Seeberg Lake in the Diemtigtal instead of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean

It was all interesting, unexpected, and new. As were many reactions from leading politicians: Suddenly, almost everyone realized that many things would be produced more intelligently in Switzerland than in China or India.
The fact that several Federal Councillors could urge their fellow countrymen to plan their holidays in Switzerland would have been unthinkable just five months ago: "Distortion of competition! Illegal propagandistic state aid! Nationalism and chauvinism!" This would have been the rumble of all market believers from the NZZ to the Free Democrats to the Green Liberals. And the globalized right wing of the SP would have joined the chorus of bourgeois deregulators: "Isolation à la Blocher - not possible at all!"

Instead of going to the Seychelles.

... by post bus and on foot to the Seebergsee (Photos: proxy-image)

But now even the Minister of Economic Affairs, Guy Parmelin (SVP,VD), is calling for Swiss products (from the region for the region) to be ordered and for local service providers to be taken into account. Long before Corona, it was already clear that even the long-haul flight to Seychelles (or even to Bali) could hardly help those stressed out compatriots who could not recover on a trip to the picturesque Seeberg Lake in the Diemtigtal. One thing is certain: globalized nonsense, such as the export of Swiss timber, which we in this country could use as sustainable energy and building material ourselves, to as far away as China, cannot have a future. And we are waiting for the call or even the decision of the national government to increase the use of domestic wood - half of which (5 million solid cubic meters a year) is still rotting unused in the country's forests.

Washing machine from Büron, instead of Quingdao

But the rethinking has begun: Thanks to and after Corona, terms like "deglobalization" and "relocalization" are now on everyone's lips. It is not a matter of immediately "banning" everything that is harmful, senseless and unnecessary, as the overexploitation-globalizers insinuate as a manslaughter argument: It is only a matter of putting the brakes on the worst excesses for the time being - such as irresponsible raw materials corporations operating worldwide (by means of popular initiative). And in the long term, there is a tendency to return to short transport routes and the use of local and indigenous resources and skills.

With the ultimate goal: What we can use locally, we should better not export - and what we can do ourselves, rather not import (national priority). Holidays in Switzerland are a beginning of these new trends. The sustainably solid new washing machine from Wyss Mirella in Büron (LU) or Huwa in Gontenschwil (AG) instead of a slightly cheaper Haier product from Quingdao (China) would go in the same new direction. However, the principle of the shortest possible transport routes should also become increasingly prevalent within large countries.

No alternative to deglobalization

Nevertheless, the world economy as a supertanker cannot be stopped as quickly (as it has now temporarily happened because of Corona). But to take some of the thrust away from its giant diesel and gently steer it on a new course towards sustainability and respect for the environment is certainly more urgent than the "restoration of global freedom of movement" that the FDP is already dreaming of in a rather particular way.

In concrete political terms, this means renouncing every new free trade agreements (for the import of beef from Argentina or palm oil from overexploitation in Indonesia) and instead of regaining sovereignty over imports and exports. And yes, this also by means of state aid (for promotion) and customs duties (for protection), which the "ecologically and socially blind" (Strahm) international structures WTO and EU still want to prohibit us from doing. After all, the National Council has just rejected the Federal Council's and the FDP's proposal to abolish customs duties on industrial products.

Full throttle into a dead end and against the wall

In the long term, extensive deglobalization is in any case "without alternative". The call for "intelligent and solidarity protectionism" has been ringing out in France for some time. Trade and business newspapers around the world are now also discussing the "relocation" of production. In some cases only from a narrow, business perspective (it could be worthwhile). Increasingly, but also with a broader view of the fatal consequences of globalization for the environment and the foundations of life, as well as the rapidly dwindling finite (non-renewable) resources.

The English philosopher John Gray, therefore, calls the Corona crisis a "turning point". On April 1, he warned in the "New Statesman" in a fundamental analysis that otherwise the endlessly growing, globalized economy would "turn the planet into a garbage dump".

Gray noted that as globalization has increased, so has the risk of dangerous diseases spreading. He writes, "There is not always a global solution to global problems."
For the idea that this crisis could be solved by an "unprecedented outbreak of international cooperation" had proved to be "wishful thinking in its purest form". On the contrary, the Corona crisis has shown that "the nation-state is increasingly the strongest force to organize broad countermeasures in such times". In general, "globalization has passed its peak". As well as "the belief that man no longer needs to be part of the natural world, but can create an autonomous ecosystem independent of the biosphere". Gray says, "Covid-19 is showing us right now that this is not possible."

This doesn't bother the unteachable growth economists in the top echelons of management worldwide any more than it does the NZZ or political freethinking in this country: like young "autoposers" they play nervously with the accelerator pedal in their Mercedes, BMW or Bentley limousines in front of the now half-open Corona barrier, only to race right through the wrecked Corona train and right into the dead-end called globalization - and at its bitter end crash into the wall without a break.

_________________________________________________________________________________


13 misleading and false claims about the corona epidemic

by Urs P. Gasche

[This article published on 6/8/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, 13 irreführende und falsche Behauptungen zur Corona-Epidemie.]


/ 08. Jun 2020 - Even serious media continue to spread many half-truths about the risk and distribution of Covid-19. Here is a fact check

The virus Sars-CoV-2 spread rapidly from the end of 2019 in China and from February on also in Europe. Since then, the media have been intensively dealing with this pandemic. They often overlooked the fact that experts and authorities were pursuing two objectives:

Epidemiologists, virologists, and infectiologists want to slow down the spread of the virus as much as possible and avoid the deadly consequences of the virus as much as possible. They are not concerned about social and economic collateral damage, which can also have harmful consequences for health.

Authorities first wanted to calm down and played down the pandemic. Afterward, they had to convince the population to keep unusual physical distance, to wash their hands well at all times and to refrain from major events. Finally, they wanted the population to accept the week-long lockdown, with business closures, exit, and travel restrictions.

With these objectives in mind, the authorities often provided incomplete, selective, misleading, and even false information after the lockdown was decided in mid-March. Within the framework of "crisis communication", Vice-Chancellor and Federal Council spokesman André Simonazzi urged that "one voice" be spoken. He decided who would appear in the media center. Interviews should be presented to him. Even Federal Councillors should not appear at their own media conferences on the Corona issue without prior consultation.

What's more, he repeatedly noticed "fundamental statistical errors" and "uncleanliness" in data published by the media, explained Servan Grüninger, a biostatistician at the Institute of Mathematics at the University of Zurich, in the "Tages-Anzeiger" at the beginning of April.

Much of this unsatisfactory information still shapes the discussion today. Therefore Infosperber tries to point out 13 misleading and false claims.

1. misleading:

Statistics with numbers of "cases" or "patients"

In the first weeks of the pandemic, daily figures on "cases" and "diseases" were published, which had a highly manipulative effect. Infosperber had repeatedly pointed to misleading statistics and charts, for example on 17 March, 20 March, 25 March, 29 March, 2 April, 10 April, 15 April, and 23 April.

The term "sick" was often used. This is wrong if, as is often the case, it is used for all positively tested persons. An infected or "infected" person is by no means a sick person and therefore not a "case". Infection with a virus only becomes a disease when symptoms such as fever occur. About 90 percent of those infected with Sars-Cov-2 feel only mild to moderate, i.e. no real symptoms of the disease, or they do not notice anything at all. To call all those who tested positive "sick" is factually incorrect and an alarming dramatization. But the authorities found this to fit the concept. In any case, they never drew the attention of the media concerned with this mistake.

The curve of these "cases" rose unrealistically steeply at the beginning because of the increasing frequency of testing. Not only should there always have been a clear reference to "confirmed" or "positively tested cases", but above all this number should always have been related to the number of tests carried out.

Instead of talking about "cases" on a daily basis, it would have been more informative to announce the numbers of hospital admissions, artificial respiration, and deaths - especially in hospitals, nursing homes, and old people's homes - right from the start.

2. misleading:

Country rankings of total cases and deaths

Rankings of total figures per country are misleading in three ways:

First, it is not so much the total figures in a country that are relevant, but the figures per 100,000 inhabitants. It must be clear that a comparison of the total figures in Germany, Switzerland or Liechtenstein gives a distorted picture.

Secondly, the figures cannot be compared between countries and half continents. Much more meaningful are figures between the main areas affected. Only specific comparisons, such as between northern Italy and Wuhan, New York, or the Moscow region, provide information on the strength of the outbreaks. Comparisons between all of Italy with all of China and all of Russia or the USA are not very meaningful.

Thirdly, such comparisons must be based on different detection methods and different testing frequencies. In the United Kingdom, for example, the deceased in nursing homes were not even counted for a long time. This is quite different in Belgium: In Belgium, all those who died in nursing homes were counted as coronary deaths, even if no test was done and the cause of death was not known.

In Africa, many deceased people were not and are not tested for Covid-19 and therefore do not appear in the statistics. See "Comparing international COVID-19 death rates".

3. wrong:

"They all died from coronavirus or Covid-19"

These people died "in connection with" the coronavirus (Swiss Federal Office of Public Health) or "on or with" Covid-19 (Swiss Federal Statistical Office). The FOPH includes all terminally ill patients who tested positive and then died in the statistics as coronary deaths, regardless of the actual cause of death. Autopsies are performed very rarely. On 7th April, German pathologists had to protest against the fact that the Robert Koch Institute had even advised against autopsies.

4. misleading:

"The virus spreads exponentially (without measures)."

In fact, the virus spread exponentially in the beginning. According to the Berlin virologist Christian Drosten, the speed of infection ("secondary infestation rate" or "attack rate") was significantly higher than during normal seasonal flu waves but comparable to the speed of infection during a severe wave of influenza. Because of the rapid spread and the threatening overloading of intensive care units - as pictures from Wuhan and northern Italy showed - it was imperative to ban large gatherings of people as quickly as possible. However, even without measures, such a spread curve does not remain exponential but flattens out sharply within a country as the number of infected persons increases. However, despite the flattening curve, significantly more deaths would have occurred if no ban on crowds and no requirement for "physical distancing" had been introduced.

5. wrong:

"There is no public immunity to this novel virus."

The false impression is created that humans are defenselessly at the mercy of Sars-Cov-2. However, virologists use the term immunity very narrowly and refer to existing antibodies or defense cells. Whether people fall ill or even die from a virus, however, depends much more on the body's own immune system. In most people, this is so strong that they only get Covid-19 harmlessly or not at all, and certainly not die from it.

In general, the more people get physical exercise, live healthily, and in a healthy environment, the stronger their immune system is. Obviously, illness occurs above all when people are in close contact with infected persons for more than a few minutes. Such situations of "super spreading" have occurred in Ischgl, in the church choir in Amsterdam, in overcrowded hospitals in Italy, at a carnival meeting in the German town of Gangelt or during the carnival in Bellinzona.

But even after such "hyper-infections" Covid-19 almost exclusively kills people with a weakened immune system. The majority of these are elderly people, provided they have previous illnesses. In addition to weakened people in nursing homes, underprivileged people who live in big cities in bad air, have jobs that are a strain on their health, get little exercise, are very overweight, and eat unhealthy food are particularly affected. See Infosperber of 22 May: "The coronavirus makes twice as many people among the poor sick".

There is also evidence that previous infections with older variants of coronaviruses can offer some protection ("cross-reactivity").

6. misleading:

"How dangerous the virus is, can be seen in Northern Italy, London or New York."

One cannot compare the conditions in Switzerland with those in Northern Italy, London, or New York. Covid-19 causes many serious illnesses and deaths, especially in places where the basic immunity of the population is poor (see previous point 5). In comparison to the places mentioned above, only a few people in Switzerland live in precarious conditions with the corresponding risk factors. Another difference is that underprivileged people in northern Italy, London, or New York live closer together and can benefit from less good medical care.

This is another reason why the risk of illness and death is lower in German and Swiss outbreak areas.

7. dramatic:

"Young people and even children die."

There are always exceptions that are difficult to explain, even in the case of mostly minor illnesses. If the media report such Covid-19 deaths in particular detail, a false impression is created. In such cases, one usually doesn't find out whether there were manifest pre-existing conditions. Young people can also die from severe influenza flu.

8. wrong:

"Mortality rate of 4 or 5 percent"

This figure is false and frightening because most people mistakenly believe that 4 or 5 percent of all infected people die.
What is meant is that 4 or 5 percent of all clinically ill people die. This is called the lethality of a virus and not the mortality or morbidity (also called "Infection Fatality Rate" IFR). The public is interested in mortality, i.e. the risk of dying from the virus when infected by sars-CoV-2. In order to find this out, it is necessary to know the estimated number of undetected cases of all infected or infected persons.

The best estimates for mortality are currently between 0.3 and 0.6 percent. The future will show more precise figures. The Heinsberg study in Germany came to a mortality rate of 0.36 percent. In Switzerland, epidemiologist Christian Althaus estimated the mortality rate in Geneva at 0.6 percent in a study. The higher estimated mortality rates in France, Italy, New York, or Hubei cannot be compared with those in Germany or Switzerland because the hospitals in those countries were overburdened and less well prepared. Worldwide, researchers from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) found mortality rates in the range of 0.1 to 0.41 percent across all age groups. In other words, of every 10,000 people infected, between 10 and 41 die.

9. misleading:

"Covid-19 cannot be compared to the influenza flu."

Anyone who claims this and wants to prove it makes it easy for himself. Because no one who is any more serious can compare it with the annual seasonal influenza flu. Rather, it is a comparison with a particularly severe wave of influenza, such as that which raged in Germany in winter 2017/2018 with around 25,000 deaths or in winter 1995/1996 with around 30,000 deaths, and in Switzerland in winter 2014/2015 with around 2,500 deaths.

The virus "Sars-CoV-2" is indeed different from other viruses - including other coronaviruses. Christian Drosten said at the end of February that the rate of infection was hardly higher than in a pandemic wave of influenza. Even in such a case, the population does not possess great viral immunity.

However, the symptoms are not identical, infection with sars-CoV-2 is possible even before symptoms appear, and the course of the disease is still little known in some cases. In individual cases, the progression of the disease is dramatic. However, those who compare the corona pandemic with a severe influenza pandemic do not deny these differences.

The comparison focuses on the risk of disease and death and on the proportionality of measures:

How dangerous is the corona pandemic in Switzerland and Germany compared to a severe wave of influenza?

Are measures such as closing schools and shops, closing borders for long periods, and imposing major travel and going out restrictions proportionate to the passivity of a severe wave of influenza (and other social death risks)?

First, let's compare the danger:

The mortality rate provides information on how many of the people who have been infected by a virus die from this virus. For a normal flu wave, the mortality rate (not lethality) is estimated at 0.1, for a severe flu wave it can reach 0.3 percent (there are only estimates of the number of people infected). In the case of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, mortality in Switzerland and Germany is between 0.3 and 0.6 percent (see point 9 above). It could, therefore, be more than twice as high as in a severe wave of influenza.

In addition to mortality, it is also of interest how many of the infected people fall seriously ill and even have to be treated in an intensive care unit. In the case of Covid-19, we know this very well because all those affected are tested for the virus. However, in the case of a severe wave of influenza, we do not have the numbers because testing is only carried out very rarely. However, it is clinically proven that in years of a severe influenza epidemic, influenza viruses can also lead to severe complications. It is unlikely that in the winter of 2014/2015 all of the 2500 or so people who died of influenza in Switzerland simply fell asleep peacefully with a slight fever. The same applies to the 25,000 or so people who died of influenza in Germany in the winter of 2017/2018. The fact that so many people died because of a severe wave of influenza can only be determined retrospectively due to the excess mortality during the pandemic months.

To the drastic measures:

Here the comparison between the corona epidemic and a severe influenza epidemic is just as interesting. In order to prevent several thousand additional deaths, the state decreed a week-long standstill of the economy. Kitas, schools, restaurants, and even parks had to close. The authorities accepted a gigantic national debt and thus a heavy mortgage for the future as well as rising unemployment. In the end, they accepted social exclusion in care and education.
The authorities behave quite differently when a particularly large wave of influenza announces itself and it turns out that the flu vaccination is no good this time. Although there were signs of such a wave in Switzerland at the end of 2014 and in Germany at the end of 2017, patients with symptoms were very rarely tested. This is why the daily news and newspapers were unable to publish daily figures of new "cases" and deaths. Governments did not organize an elaborate campaign for "physical distancing" and thorough hand washing. Bans on carnival, football, and other large gatherings of people were out of the question.

However, with such measures, it would have been possible to prevent at least half of all premature deaths during a major flu epidemic, even if schools and shops remained open.

The question is highly political: How many natural and environmental deaths, which are to be expected once or every year, do we accept? At what point are we prepared to severely restrict the economy and personal freedoms?

In the past, economic interests were given greater weight than more effective health protection measures. Will Corona lead to a change in strategy? Or why was there a different measurement here? There are several other risks to public health that have been proven to cause thousands of deaths every year and whose number could be greatly reduced with comparatively modest effort (see: "Health first: Corona management should set an example").

10. misleading:

"Studies have disproved that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine HCQ Covid-19 is of any benefit to patients."

These studies do exist, but they are not yet validated. In one study published in the Lancet, the authors had to withdraw it. Most of the studies investigated the use of the drug in patients who were already severely ill. See also the criticism of over a hundred scientists and doctors. Even those who advocate the use of HCQ say that HCQ is no longer beneficial but rather harmful for severely ill people. Professor Didier Raoult from Marseilles and the Munich chief physician and Professor Clemens Wendthner recommend that patients who test positive for HCQ should be treated with HCQ and, if necessary, with the antibiotic azithromycin immediately after the first symptoms appear.

11. misleading:

"There is no evidence that masks protect against infection."

Which is not said: ...there is no evidence that masks are of no use. The plausibility and experiences in other countries rather speak for it, if used correctly. It is extremely difficult to precisely prove the benefit or no benefit of different masks under real conditions.

12. misleading:

WHO: "There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 disease and developed antibodies are protected from a second infection."

This is not said: There is also no evidence that most people are unprotected. What you have to do here is get information about the probability: Most likely, those who recover or are infected, who never get sick are protected from one disease for at least a while, or a later disease is mild. It is uncertain how long protection will last in different ages and population groups. This is not a second infection, but a second serious illness. Vaccination has the same effect as an infection: a natural immune response of the body. People develop at least partial immunity against almost all viruses.

13. misleading:

"There is no evidence that corona infections decrease sharply during the summer season, similar to a flu epidemic."

This is not said: Conversely, there is also no evidence that Sars-CoV-2 spreads almost as fast in the warm season as in the colder season. Again, it's a matter of probabilities and plausibilities. In the case of other variants of coronaviruses, it has always been the case in our country that the spread fell sharply in the summer months and then increased again from October onward.

It is highly probable that Sars-CoV-2 also spreads much less in the warm season because UV light kills the viruses, the viruses dry out quickly at high temperatures, and because people spend less time indoors.

Continue to observe distance rules, especially in closed rooms!

The corona pandemic is currently abating. Nevertheless, any recklessness should be avoided. Especially in closed rooms, where people stay for more than a few minutes, it is recommended that you keep your distance and wear masks for your own protection and the protection of others. The Federal Office of Public Health also recommends that other precautionary measures continue to be followed. Regular physical exercise and a healthy lifestyle ensure that the body's own defense system can live with the virus.

_______________________________________________________________________________________



Health first: Corona management should be an example
Horst Seehofer and Alain Berset: "Health always comes first". Also in the future?

by Urs P. Gasche
All too often, economic interests prevent effective health protection and prevention measures. Now no longer.

[This article published on 6/1/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, Gesundheit zuerst: Coronabewältigung soll(te) Vorbild sein


Authorities and political parties have never taken public health so seriously in recent decades as during the corona pandemic. Until recently, they have tended to place greater emphasis on economic interests than on health protection. But now, during the current corona crisis, scientific experts have found that politicians have never been more open to the issue.

In concrete terms: in order to prevent several thousand additional deaths, the state accepted an economic standstill for weeks on end. Daycare centers, schools, restaurants, and even parks had to close. The authorities tolerated an additional national debt and thus a heavy mortgage for the future. They accept rising unemployment and social exclusion in nursing homes and retirement homes. During the corona epidemic, the protection of life was a priority, although the risk of dying prematurely affects mainly the pre-sick and elderly. To reduce the number of deaths from Covid-19, the government also curtailed democratic freedoms.

"Health must always be at the forefront", Germany's Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer affirmed. The Swiss Minister of Health, Alain Berset, assured: "The highest goal is to protect the health of the population. This also protects the weakest."

These sounds are new. If this paradigm shift that the corona pandemic has triggered in health policy is consistently pursued, it will have far-reaching and welcome consequences wherever deaths and serious illnesses can be avoided. The interests of the economy have to subordinate themselves. Even where there are still doubts about the extent of the health risks, caution and prevention will have priority in the future - as was the case during the corona epidemic.

If public health is a priority, policymakers must implement the following nine measures:

1. combat air pollution

Politicians no longer tolerate the same amount of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, or ozone being released into the air and deposited in the lungs as before. Year after year, in busy neighborhoods, particulate matter not only damages the bronchi but also the brain, heart, and blood vessels. This leads to many hospital admissions and premature deaths. According to the Federal Office for the Environment, almost 2,200 people in Switzerland still die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution. Around 25,000 years of life are lost in the process.

According to a study published in March 2019 by the German Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, air pollution in Switzerland is responsible for more than 8,500 premature deaths. In Germany, estimates vary between 49,000 (Federal Environment Agency) and 127,000 premature deaths (Max Planck Institute) per year.

Following the Corona crisis, the German Bundestag and the Swiss Parliament each approve several billion euros to reduce air pollution, particularly in cities, and impose strict regulations on emissions and speed limits.

2. aiming for a longer life for all

Those ten percent of the population who can spend their lives as the richest and most materially privileged live on average a whole decade longer than the ten percent of the population with the lowest income and wealth. Since the Corona crisis, everything is being done to ensure that years of life are not lost for all people. For this reason, the states will in future invest in minimum wages, a basic income, crèches from the age of three, educational and language support and more secure jobs, with the aim of ensuring that the ten percent of the population with the lowest income can also enjoy more years of life.

In the case of food, politicians are prescribing the traffic light system to provide simple information about healthy and unhealthy food. There will be no shortage of major campaigns to encourage more physical activity. Thanks to these measures, thousands of premature deaths can be prevented and an enormous number of years of life can be gained.

3. limiting global warming

Climate change does not threaten the life expectancy and health of countless people directly but in the medium term. In contrast to the danger posed by the coronavirus, scientists are fairly unanimous about the consequences of the human contribution to global warming. Parliaments are therefore adopting high incentive levies on CO2 without waiting for an international agreement.

4. ban hormone-active chemicals

Endocrine disruptors in pesticides, plastics, fire retardants, and many cosmetics can not only affect the male reproductive capacity of the human body, but also the ability to reproduce.
Endocrine disruptors in pesticides, plastics, fire retardants and many cosmetics can not only reduce male reproductive capacity, but also lead to diabetes and obesity, which in turn leads to thousands of premature deaths. These are the findings of a study published in "The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism".

Based on decades of research, the researchers concluded in 2015 that these endocrine disrupters will lead to health and social costs of over 150 billion euros per year in the EU. Pesticide use alone accounts for 120 billion euros, followed by plastic chemicals with 26 billion euros and flame retardants with 9 billion euros.

Consequently, the parliaments decide on a rapid ban on all endocrine-disrupting chemicals wherever they can be replaced, even if they are perhaps more expensive. After the corona crisis, the chemical industry no longer declares, as it has done up to now, that national go-it-alone initiatives are "to be avoided" because otherwise there is a threat of "a weakening of the competitiveness of the research and production location", but accepts strict conditions in favor of public health.

Without great effort, it is hoped to avoid thousands of premature deaths:

Some measures to prevent premature deaths and serious damage to health are introduced immediately by governments and parliaments because they cost practically nothing and have little impact on the economy:

5. avoid many hospital deaths

According to the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, every year in Switzerland there are between 2,000 and 3,000 avoidable deaths and around 60,000 avoidable cases of damage to health in hospitals. In Germany the figure is almost ten times as high. The authorities prescribe a risk culture similar to that of air travel in order to avoid these deaths in the future.

6. reduce traffic fatalities

Death by speeders is at least as bad as death by Corona. Speed limits on highways and interstates are being lowered.

In Switzerland, speed limits can prevent about 100, in Germany about 1000 deaths of mostly younger people and protect many more people from serious injuries - every year!

7. avoid tobacco victims

16 percent of all 15-24-year-olds are still exposed to the smoke of others for at least one hour per day as passive smokers. (Source: BfS)

One-third of this age group smokes. For this reason, the Swiss parliament is restricting the advertising of tobacco products much more than before and is finally one of the last countries in the world to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Products.

8. stem the next big wave of influenza

The last major (influenza) flu outbreaks claimed around 2500 lives in Switzerland in the winter of 2014/2015 and around 25,000 premature deaths in Germany in the winter of 2017/2018.

In the future, priority will be given to preventing these deaths. As soon as it becomes apparent at the beginning of a winter that an exceptionally large wave of influenza is to be expected, all persons with influenza symptoms will be tested for influenza in doctors' practices, hospitals, and nursing homes. The daily news and newspapers spread the numbers of new "cases" and of deceased people every day. Carnival, football, and other large gatherings of people are banned. There is a call for general "physical distancing". With these measures, it is possible to prevent at least half of all premature deaths during a major flu epidemic. However, schools and shops can remain open.

9. restricting pesticides

Up to 17 pesticide residues are found in the urine of adults and children. This is the result of a recent laboratory test commissioned by the "Health tips". In their next meetings, the parliaments will finally implement what doctors, consumers, and environmental organizations have long been calling for: a maximum level for the sum of all pesticides in food. So far, there are only maximum values for each individual pesticide. That is why food may contain any number of pesticide residues as long as each individual pesticide complies with its limit value. Residues of several pesticides not only add up the health risk, they often multiply it.

Conclusion:

All these measures would provide governments, administrations, and politicians with the proof that public health is indeed a top priority. They would no longer use questionable arguments such as economic growth, competitive disadvantages, or jobs, but would instead work towards the best possible health and longer lives for as many people as possible.

It is to be feared, however, that the newly set priority will remain unique during the corona crisis. As early as 26 February, under the title "Emergency on a case-by-case basis", Infosperber made the sobering observation: "Politicians are facing up to long-term risks with eloquence but inaction, whereas they react immediately in the case of short-term dangers".

________________________________________________________________________________________




The influence of the arms lobby on US policy: the example of Yemen
Peter Navarro consultant to defense companies, in direct contact with President Trump

by Christa Dettwiler / May 29, 2020 - The arms of the military-industrial complex reach into the White House. The New York Times shows the influence concretely.

[This article published on May 29, 2020, is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.infosperber.ch/Artikel/Wirtschaft/Einfluss-der-Rustungslobby-auf-die-US-Politik-Beispiel-Jemen.]


"Why US bombs are killing the civilian population in Yemen," the New York Times headlined its research on May 19, and immediately gave the answer: "For Trump, arms deals are supposed to create jobs - no matter who uses them and how they are used." This was already the case under President Barack Obama, but President Donald Trump is pushing this policy to the extreme.

US administrations would accept that the war of the Saudi coalition in Yemen, which is massively supported by the USA, has led to the greatest humanitarian disaster. The major corporations involved in arms production, which earn well from the multi-billion-dollar deals, above all Raytheon, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, United Technologies, and General Dynamics, can be pleased.

Billion-dollar businesses thanks to the war in Yemen

Year after year, bombs also fell on wedding tents, abdication halls, fishing boats, and school buses. Thousands of civilians died. The weapons were supplied by US corporations, flanked by US authorities. When an influential Republican senator opposed further arms sales in June 2017, the killing could have been stopped.

But not under President Trump. With billions of dollars at stake, the advisor to arms companies, Peter Navarro, made it his job to thwart the opposition. Navarro consulted with American arms manufacturers before issuing a memo calling on Jared Kushner and other influential people in the White House to intervene. The title of the memo: "Trump's arms deals in the Middle East at extreme risk, job losses imminent." Within weeks, arms shipments to Saudi Arabia resumed.

The New York Times sees this intervention, which has so far gone unnoticed, as the fundamental change in American foreign policy under Donald Trump: economic interests take precedence over everything else. Arms deals are supposed to bring profit and create jobs, no matter what the purpose and no matter where the war material is used. "This White House is far more accessible to defense industry lobbyists than any other I can remember," Loren B. Thompson told The New York Times. The experienced analyst is also a consultant to major arms manufacturers.

"Committed only to shareholders"

American arms manufacturers who sell to the Saudis claim that they have an obligation to their shareholders and do nothing wrong. After all, sales to foreign military personnel would have to be approved by the Department of Foreign Affairs. They would abide by its rules. Documents show that arms sales to foreign countries have increased massively under Trump. On average, they amounted to about 51 billion in the first three years, compared to 36 billion annually during Obama's last term, when sales had already risen sharply.

Yemen is a terrible example of this. There, Trump's support for the arms trade is prolonging the conflict, which has already claimed over 100,000 lives, driven hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, and further destabilized a volatile region in Arabia's poorest country.

The New York Times bases its research on over a thousand pages of recordings and interviews with more than 50 people who are familiar with the politics or who were involved in the decisions.

When the situation in Yemen deteriorated even after many years of war, an arms company no longer waited for official permits and regulations. Rather, Raytheon made every effort to influence senior officials after some members of Congress tried to ban sales to Saudi Arabia on humanitarian grounds. Raytheon took advantage of every loophole. The company hired former State Department officials who did not have to register as lobbyists to persuade their former colleagues to approve the sales. Although the company was already deeply embedded in Washington - its chief lobbyist Mark Esper became Secretary of Defense under Trump - Raytheon sought even closer contact. The company hired the influential advisor Peter Navarro, who successfully lobbied the White House for their interests.

Navarro is one of Trump's trusted advisors

Trump had won the election not least because he promised to make American industry strong. But that was not so easy. Peter Navarro, who accompanied Trump's campaign, believed he had found the solution. He persuaded Trump's transition team to bring national security into play and to promote the defense industry, including customs duties. This would create jobs and reduce the trade deficit. In December, Trump appointed Navarro to head the newly created National Trade Council. Although this body existed mainly on paper, Navarro gained considerable influence and the arms industry took notice. Shortly after Trump's inauguration in January 2017, Raytheon and other arms manufacturers were coming in and out of Navarro.

Three billion dollars in bombs alone

Before the war broke out in Yemen five years ago, Raytheon had gone through a bad patch. The third-largest defense company in the US had seen its profits fall, and the government had cut its budget. Since the beginning of the war, Raytheon has booked a dozen large deliveries to the Saudi Kingdom and its allies, worth more than five billion US dollars. Government documents show that Raytheon earned over three billion US dollars from new bomb sales alone after the war broke out. Raytheon earned more than Lockheed Martin and other U.S. arms companies with its deliveries to foreign governments.

Most deals, especially for defensive weapons, were easily approved. But there was resistance to offensive weapons, including the more than 120,000 precision bombs used by the Saudis in Yemen. Resistance grew as coalition planes repeatedly bombed an abdication hall in the Yemeni capital Sanaa in October 2016, where 1500 men, women, and children mourned the father of a government member.

In December 2016, the Obama administration stopped the delivery of bomb parts that had been sold but not yet delivered - much to the annoyance of Raytheon and the Saudis. No sooner had Donald Trump taken office than Raytheon sought close contact with the new administration. The then CEO, Thomas A. Kennedy, met with Trump personally on several occasions and accompanied him on his trip to Saudi Arabia, as a former employee testified. Shortly after the trip, Trump's administration waved through the delivery of the bomb parts to the Saudis. Trump called these arms shipments a great success. He expressed no reservations. Last October, Trump told reporters: "Relations with Saudi Arabia are very good. They're buying hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods from us."

A comprehensive report by the "International Crisis Group", a nonprofit organization dedicated to conflict resolution, concluded that US arms shipments were "like flypaper that the US keeps in Yemen."

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