shit, meet fan

Deaths from COVID-19 in New York State double in three days
Bryan Dyne, WSWS, Apr 4 2020

The number of deaths caused by COVID-19 in New York State has doubled in the past three days, from 1,550 to more than 3,200, with more than 102,000 cases statewide. NYC alone accounts for about half of these, with 1,600 dead and 57,000 cases. The country as a whole now has, as of this writing, 277,161 cases and 7,392 deaths, including a record 32,284 new cases yesterday and 1,321 deaths. New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Pindostan and is rapidly becoming the epicenter of the pandemic worldwide. There are now just under 1.1 million confirmed cases of the disease internationally, and less than a quarter have so far recovered. An estimated 4 billion people around the world are under some form of stay-at-home order. To date, more than 56,000 men, women and children of all ages have died, placing the current average fatality rate at 5.4%. Other countries with surging coronavirus cases include:

  • Italy: 119,827 cases and 14,681 deaths;
  • Spain: 119,199 cases and 11,198 deaths;
  • Germany: 91,159 cases and 1,275 deaths;
  • France: 64,338 cases and 6,507 deaths;
  • Iran: 53,183 cases and 3,294 deaths;
  • Britain: 36,168 cases and 3,605 deaths;
  • Turkey: 20,921 cases and 425 deaths.

This was the context in which Trump gave yet another press conference on Friday combining self-praise, bullying of the press, stonewalling and outright lies. In prepared remarks, Surgeon General Jerome Adams stated:

We now know that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms. They can transmit the virus to others before they show symptoms.

What blatant falsifications! Health experts in China and the WHO warned in January that the novel coronavirus was spreading so fast because those who were contagious often did not show symptoms for up to 14 days. It is the primary reason that the WHO has for months stressed the need to “test, test, test” for the virus. Pindostan itself recognized this fact in January, when it began two-week quarantine periods for all people traveling from Wuhan, the first epicenter of the pandemic. Trump again displayed his criminal indifference to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who are infected in the country, summed up in his response to a question about appeals from states and municipalities for desperately needed medical equipment, snapping:

We’re not a shipping clerk!

At the same time, he casually stated of the various oil executives with whom he had met earlier in the day, multimillionaires all:

They were all given the test before they came into the room. I had the test yesterday.

He seemed oblivious to the reality of millions of ordinary Pindos being denied testing, including those with symptoms, while the wealthy and well-connected have no problem getting access to the test. He once again absolved himself of any responsibility for the dearth of masks, protective gear, ventilators and other critical medical supplies, blaming the Obama administration. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive and lobbyist, asserted falsely:

For fifteen years now, this country has had a massive effort at the federal, state and local level of preparedness for a pandemic.

Trump gave no indication why lifesaving equipment needed to fight a pandemic was not available. He silenced a reporter by stating:

You should speak to the previous administration, because the shelves were empty.

Trump blamed New York for its lack of ventilators, declaring:

They should’ve had more ventilators at the time.

Despite warnings from Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio that they will be unable to care for new critical patients next week, Trump said:

We happen to think that New York is well-served with ventilators.

In the meantime, Trump’s much-ballyhooed deployment of field and naval hospitals to NYC has proven to be a cruel deception. The hospital ship Comfort, which has been docked in the city’s harbor for a week, has only taken on a mere 20 out of a potential 1,000 patients. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator, continued the whitewashing efforts by declaring:

When we get through this, we can deal with questions about could we have done some piece of this better.

This is a bipartisan position. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she was establishing a bipartisan committee to monitor the federal response to the COVID-19 crisis. But she stressed that its mandate would be to oversee the “here and now” and not be “retrospective,” meaning that the Demagogs would oppose any serious investigation into the criminally negligent response of the government to the virus. No mention was made by any member of the political establishment or media of the workers who are dying after being forced to stay on the job without adequate protective equipment. Five workers at Ford and eight at Fiat Chrysler have so far died after being exposed to the virus at work. Instacart, Amazon and Whole Foods workers have walked out to demand that the corporations, the latter two owned by multibillionaire Jeff Bezos, ensure that their employees are protected from the ravages of the disease. While NYC is the most seriously hit, many other regions in the country are facing a similarly catastrophic situation. New Jersey, Michigan, California, Massachusetts, Louisiana and Florida all have at least 10,000 cases and at least 170 deaths. Cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Seattle and New Orleans are particularly inundated. Their health-care systems are likely a week behind the breakdown taking place in NYC.

One of the many reasons these and other areas are unable to cope with the crisis is the pervasive and massive price-gouging on basic medical supplies. Gloves are often 4 times the regular price, while masks are marked up as much as 15 times. Hospitals in upstate New York owned by Arnot Health report that Blank Industries has tried to force them to buy N95 respirator masks for $4.92 each, and only if they order 1m at a time. Such large orders of masks before the pandemic would have cost less than $50k. Such chaos and criminality are hallmarks of capitalism, which puts profit before human life. With each passing day, it becomes ever clearer that the Pindo ruling class has no intention of taking any measures that will prevent the pandemic from claiming hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of lives. Rather, all of the efforts of the entire political establishment and both corporate-controlled parties are devoted to protecting and even increasing the wealth of the financial oligarchy, as seen in the $6t corporate bailout package passed last week with virtually unanimous support from both major parties, including Sen Bernie Sanders. Meanwhile, the jobs of millions of workers are being wiped out in what is rapidly developing into the deepest economic slump since the Great Depression. The vital social resources needed to contain this pandemic and care for those infected must be seized by the working class from the capitalist owners and transformed into public utilities under the democratic control of the working people, as part of a centrally planned socialist economy based on the satisfaction of social needs, not private profit.

Amid war threats, Faschingstein blocks UNGAR demanding end to sanctions
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Apr 4 2020

Faschingstein and its vassals Thursday killed an UNGAR calling for the lifting of unilateral sanctions that are severely impeding efforts to combat the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution was drafted by Russia and co-sponsored by 28 other member states. In addition to backing the call by the WHO for an internationally coordinated campaign against the deadly virus, it said:

The UNGA calls upon all countries to refrain from raising trade barriers, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing protectionist and discriminatory measures inconsistent with the WTO rules as well as not to apply any unilateral coercive measures undertaken without the mandate of the SC.

Under rules adopted wwhen the UNGA was not in session, approval of resolutions requires unanimous consent. Joining Pindostan in blocking the resolution were the EU and the UK, along with the right-wing anti-Russian governments of Ukraine and Georgia. Following the vote late Thursday, the Russian mission to the UN issued a statement declaring:

We regret that a small group of states championing sanctions-based policy appeared unready to respond to the call of the UN Sec-Gen and refused to cast aside politicized approaches and interests.

UN Sec-Gen Guterres on Wednesday issued a report on the COVID-19 pandemic which stated:

Sanctions imposed on countries should be waived to ensure access to food, essential supplies and access to COVID-19 tests and medical support. This is the time for solidarity, not exclusion.

In place of the Russian-drafted resolution, an UNGAR vetted by Faschingstein issued a toothless call for “solidarity” while ignoring the issues of sanctions against oppressed countries and the trade war and protectionist measures that effectively preclude any genuine international approach to the pandemic. The Pindo delegation failed in its attempt to get the UN to label the pandemic as the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus, a theme pushed by the Trump administration to exploit the crisis to further Pindo imperialism’s geostrategic confrontation with Beijing and to divert attention from the abject failure of the Pindo government to either prepare for or mount an adequate response to the increasingly uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus throughout the Pindo population. Despite worldwide calls for sanctions relief, Faschingstein has only escalated the unilateral and illegal sanctions that it has imposed upon Iran and Venezuela, so-called “maximum pressure” regimes that are tantamount to a state of war. Pindostan imposed new sanctions against both countries last month. Iran is suffering one of the highest fatality rates in the world, with an officially reported 53,183 COVID-19 cases and 3,294 deaths, both believed to be major underestimates of the real ravages of the disease. Iran’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Thursday:

Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran.

Even before the pandemic, the country’s health care system was groaning under the impact of sweeping sanctions that have prevented the country from buying essential medicines and medical supplies on the world market, leading to the deaths of many suffering from cancer and other diseases. The Trump administration has repeatedly made the cynical claim that humanitarian supplies are exempted under its “maximum pressure” campaign, but the reality is that access has been effectively blocked with the blacklisting Iran’s central bank and the threat of third-party sanctions against anyone conducting financial transactions with the country. Iran’s Academy of Medical Sciences released a blistering statement directed to the UN Sec-General on Thursday denouncing Pindostan for its escalating sanctions and declaring:

The UN and the WHO, which claim to defend the rights of humanity, have taken no effective measures to lift the cruel sanctions against our dear children, women, men and patients. It is certain that history will judge the ineffectiveness and silence of international organizations claiming protection of international law and human rights against such crimes. These institutions have become toothless if not complicit, and we will undoubtedly see the unraveling of our world order because of this refusal to take action against crass violations of international and humanitarian law by the Pindo regime.

On Wednesday, Trump issued an explicit threat of military aggression against Iran, claiming, without providing a shred of evidence:

The Pentagon has deployed Patriot missile batteries to Iraq, over the protests of the Iraqi government, whose parliament voted in January, in the wake of the Pindo drone assassination of Gen Qassem Suleimani at Baghdad international airport, for a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of Pindo troops occupying the country. Baghdad has opposed the missile deployments, seeing them as potential preparation for an all-out war that could turn war-battered Iraq itself into a battlefield yet again. Threats against Venezuela, the target of equally punishing sanctions have been even more explicit, with Trump announcing Wednesday that navy warships and other assets are being deployed to the Venezuelan coast on the pretext of combatting drug trafficking. The announcement followed a Pindo DoJ indictment of the Venezuelan president and other top officials on trumped-up drug-related charges, replete with the issuing of “Wanted” posters placing a $15m bounty on Maduro’s head. The threat of military violence follows the imposition of yet another round of sanctions against Venezuela last month. Thus far, Venezuela has reported only 146 confirmed cases and five deaths, but the crisis of the country’s health care system under the impact of Pindo sanctions threatens to turn the pandemic into a death sentence against countless numbers of workers and poor. The flailing militarist threats of the White House, a desperate bid to divert growing anger over the catastrophic failure of the Pindo government to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, have provoked signs of dissension within the Pentagon as the military brass faces the threat of the pandemic sweeping through military units operating in close quarters, including on ships and overseas deployments. posted an article on its website Friday reporting:

The Pentagon has pushed back sharply against Pres Trump’s decision to send a phalanx of naval assets to interdict drug shipments in the Caribbean Sea.

It cited boxtops as saying that the deployment was “all politics” and came at a time in which the Pentagon was “pausing some deployments due to the impacts of COVID-19.” It also follows the firestorm over the outbreak of coronavirus on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and the sacking of its commanding officer, Captain Brett Crozier, for demanding that the Navy address the crisis by providing quarantine facilities for the more than 4,000 sailors aboard the ship who had been exposed to the deadly virus. Crozier was sacked after his appeal to the Navy was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. It insisted:

Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset: our sailors.

Justifying his decision to relieve Crozier of his command, acting navy sec Thomas Modly, installed after the former secretary, Richard Spencer, was fired in connection with Trump’s pardoning of the convicted war criminal Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, said:

The letter created the perception that the navy is not on the job, the government is not on the job and it’s just not true.

The captain’s plea, issued in the face of the refusal of the Navy or the Trump administration to take any action, was indeed true in relation not only to the Theodore Roosevelt, but to the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as a whole. The response of his own crew was made clear by videos posted on Facebook early Friday showing several hundred sailors massing in an airplane hangar and chanting his name as he walked down a gangplank from the vessel. An online petition posted on demanding Crozier’s reinstatement gathered 150,000 signatures within barely 24 hours. Among those signing were members of his crew, Navy veterans and relatives of active-duty sailors. One sailor wrote:

He’s my CO and I want him to know he did right by us, even if it won’t bring him back.

Another signer stated:

The Captain’s primary job is to protect the health and well-being of his crew. Captain Crozier did this. And he was punished. In contrast, soldiers convicted of war crimes are pardoned by Trump. That is appalling and wrong. The world is upside down.

And a third wrote:

Just because his chain of command was prepared to let the ship become a floating morgue, he was not.

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