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G20 Matera Summit: Long on Rhetoric, Short on Solutions

Foreign and Development Ministers of the Group of 20 and representatives of UN agencies met today in a one-day summit in Matera, Italy, hosted by Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio as Italy is currently the rotating president of the group. Several of the ministers appeared in person, but China’s, Russia’s, Brazil’s, and other ministers attended virtually. The major emphasis of the summit, whose unimaginative title was “People, Planet, Prosperity,” was combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as food insecurity, famine, poverty, disease, and promoting “sustainable development,” and “sustainable” health systems–especially for Africa. Di Maio said in the closing press conference that the G20 has a special responsibility to help Africa to emerge from a “difficult period.” This must be done in such a way, he said, that people won’t feel the need to leave their countries and migrate to Europe.

The “Matera Declaration on Food Security, Nutrition and Food Systems,” announces a number of initiatives for addressing the developing sector’s most urgent problems, but all are couched in terms of “sustainability,” respecting biodiversity and gender equality, and adapting “agriculture and food systems to climate change.” The statement ends with a call for a “global mobilization” to solve these problems, while it presents none of the solutions that might actually yield results. This document cries out for the Schiller Institute and LaRouche Organization’s programmatic proposals for building a global health system, bankruptcy organization of the global financial system, and reconstruction of the world’s economies with major infrastructure projects.

During the conference itself, there was much rhetoric about “multilateralism,” loudly advocated by Secretary of StateTony Blinken, who had the audacity to say that the U.S. is leading the multilateral effort for vaccine distribution, to which Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi tweeted in response that “multilateralism is not a high-sounding slogan, let alone gift-wrapping for the implementation of unilateral acts.” In his public statements, Wang called for an end to the “zero-sum game” in foreign relations. For example, he said, in fighting the pandemic it is to everyone’s benefit that those nations which have vaccines and vaccine capacity lift their export restrictions. Forget about ideology, and get to work on stabilizing vaccine production and supply lines, he said. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas ignored that advice when he complained that Russia and China are only using their “vaccine diplomacy” for political leverage in the countries they aid. “We must openly discuss the fact that we do not think much of their vaccine diplomacy,” he harrumphed.

Michele Geraci, former Undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, said in an interview with CGTN that there is a lot of talk about multilateralism, but if it means that 200 nations do their own thing, and there is retrenchment, this doesn’t work. It hurts production, people-to-people contact, international education, etc. What is needed is real collaboration, he insisted.

Di Maio and other Italian participants pointed out that in terms of protecting health, Rome is home to a number of international food organizations–World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization, etc.–and that they and Italy will host the July 26-28 World Pre-Summit of the Food Systems meeting that will be held at the UN in September. As this news service has pointed out, the Rome affair in July is terribly organized as a gathering of “stakeholders” — women, youth, climate, and biodiversity groups, etc. — and that its solutions are nature-based, not focused on ending famine. This is precisely the World Economic Forum/Davos model announced by Charles Schwab last January.


LaRouche Warned: No Development, then Death

Life Expectancy Plunged in U.S. in First Half of 2020

Feb. 18, 2021 (EIRNS)—Preliminary estimates issued today by the CDC indicate that life expectancy in the United States dropped by a huge one year in the first half of 2020 alone, largely as a direct and indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The average drop for Black Americans was a stunning three years; for Hispanics nearly two years. This is a lawful expression of what Lyndon LaRouche warned for 50 years would happen if society’s Potential Relative Population Density drops below the actual population: the total population and its average life expectancy will follow into the abyss, sooner or later.

“This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC, according to a report published by AP. “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a health equity researcher and dean at the University of California, San Francisco said: “What is really quite striking in these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year … I would expect that these numbers would only get worse,” said.

In 2019, average life expectancy in the US was 78.8 years—75.1 for males and 80.5 for females. In the first half of 2020, it had dropped to 77.8 years for all Americans. “As a group, Hispanics in the U.S. have had the most longevity and still do. Black people now lag white people by six years in life expectancy, reversing a trend that had been bringing their numbers closer since 1993,” according to AP.

Dr. Otis Brawley, a cancer specialist and public health professor at Johns Hopkins University, stated: “The focus really needs to be broad-spread of getting every American adequate care. And health care needs to be defined as prevention as well as treatment.” He said “our mishandling of the pandemic” is largely responsible for the drop in life expectancy. “We have been devastated by the coronavirus more so than any other country. We are 4% of the world’s population, more than 20% of the world’s coronavirus deaths.”


El Salvador Government: Responsible for Clean Water, Decent Hospitals

El Salvador Asserts Government Responsibility for Clean Water, Decent Hospitals

June 23, 2021 (EIRNS)—Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele sent a draft Water Bill to the National Assembly on June 19, which declares affordable access to clean water to be a human right, which it is the government’s responsibility to secure. Given the fact that the government’s “New Ideas” party has a majority in the Assembly, the bill could pass within 90 days. The bill’s Article I asserts the crucial principle:

“Article 1. The human right to water and sanitation is the right of all people to have sufficient, healthy, safe, acceptable, clean water available to them, accessible in amount, quality, continuity and coverage at an affordable price.

“The State, in all its basic authorities and institutions of Government has the obligation and paramount responsibility to guarantee, without any discrimination whatsoever among persons, the effective enjoyment of the human right to potable water and sanitation for its population, for which purpose it must adopt all policies, legislation and measures which lead to the full realization of this right.”

It is no wonder that most Salvadorans are now more optimistic about their future than they have been for decades. The Bukele government at the same time is celebrating the arrival of enough new, modern hospital beds to replace 50% of the existing beds in the country’s public hospitals. Those new beds are already being distributed around the country. The other 50% of old beds will be replaced in the second phase. Pictures of the existing decrepit beds, many dating back to the 1950’s, are sickening. As President Bukele pointed out: these beds have been used during 10 governments—not counting the coups d’etat.


Interview with Dr. James Hildreth on COVID-19 Crisis

Members of the Schiller Institute’s Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites interviewed Dr. James Hildreth on February 1 on the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Hildreth is the president and CEO of Meharry Medical College, oldest and largest predominantly black Medical School in the country.  He sits on the committee that reviews vaccines for approval, the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

Dr. Hildreth addresses several topics, including:

  • The present state of affairs regarding Covid-19 vaccine safety, efficacy, production, and availability.
  • The understandable hesitancy and fear of people regarding getting the vaccine.
  • The difference between an epidemic and a pandemic and why we must have a global approach to conquering this disease.
  • What motivated him to dedicate his life to medicine.

Appended below is a shorter 15 minute version of the interview, suitable for circulation on social media and other channels and a fuller 28 minute version.

Full length 28 minute interview:


Africa Enters 3rd Wave; Equitable Vaccine Distribution Could Have Prevented It

Africa Entering Third Wave; Equitable Vaccine Distribution Could Have Prevented It

June 21 (EIRNS) — Africa has officially entered its third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in less than two years — having been struck with two waves in 2020, and now going into another Winter season — with little relief in sight, and new more-virulent variants to deal with. “New cases, continent-wide are up by nearly 30% in the past week, and deaths are up by 15%,” said WHO Africa Regional Director, Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, in her weekly press conference June 17. “The threat of a third wave is real and rising.” A meager 1% of the African population has been vaccinated, due to the massive logistics barriers involved, along with lack of vaccine accessibility and financing.
            The land-locked nation of Uganda is the latest crisis spot– as cases in the nation of nearly 50 million have shot up over 131% in the last week– with Namibia, DR Congo and Angola each showing lesser spikes. Many more of the victims are now younger, and a much higher percentage of them now require oxygen as part of treatment. Uganda’s hospitals are nearing their limits, and the nation has put out requests to neighboring states for emergency relief supplies.
            The other nation again in the unwanted spotlight is South Africa, where President Cyril Ramaphosa was forced to make a national address on June 15, as he once again declared a Level 3 lockdown. “A third wave of infections is upon us,” the president said. In just the past two weeks, “the average number of daily new infections has doubled. Then, we were recording around 3,700 daily infections. Over the last seven days, we have recorded an average of 7,500 daily infections. Hospital admissions due to COVID-19 over the last 14 days are 59% higher than the preceding 14 days.”
            Again reflecting the increased threat from variants, Ramaphosa said, “The average number of people who die from COVID-19 each day has increased by 48%  from 535 two weeks ago to 791 in the past seven days.” [emphasis added] Although South Africa responded effectively and built emergency capacity last year, four of the most populous provinces are officially in a third wave, with Gauteng — the most urban and populous — accounting for nearly two-thirds of new cases in the past week. “The increase in infections … is now faster and steeper,” he said, and “within a matter of days, it is likely that the number of new cases in Gauteng will surpass the peak of the second wave.” And Winter is just starting.
            South Africa’s vaccine rollout has been severely frustrated, first by the denial of AstraZeneca vaccines from India (as they faced their own crisis), and further by the complications around the Johnson & Johnson version, either one of which could have prevented this crisis. Vaccines are “the one statistic that provides a clear reason for hope,” Ramaphosa said. Last year (during the second wave), over hundreds of healthcare workers had become infected, as the “South African variant” was first encountered. “In the last seven days,” he said, “only 64 health care workers have been infected.”
            By the end of the week, South Africa is expected to produce its own Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 


COVID: One Humanity

Chinese Vaccines Have Begun To Arrive in Africa

Beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 10, Chinese Covid-19 vaccines have begun to arrive in Africa. Separate from their commitments to the UN’s COVAX convention, China has committed to donate vaccines to 14 lesser-developed countries, with Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone leading the list. This is a commitment begun in July, 2020, at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, held (virtually) in Beijing.

“A batch of China-donated SinoPharm COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Malabo, capital of Equatorial Guinea, on Wednesday,” stated {CGTN} on Feb. 11. At a press conference in Beijing announcing the shipment on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin noted that It will be the first batch of donations from China to African countries, adding it shows China is fulfilling its promise of making Chinese vaccines a global public good.

The shipment of 100,000 doses was met at the airport by Equatorial Guinea’s VP Teodoro Obiang Mangue, who emphasized the generosity of China in fighting “vaccine hoarding” by wealthier nations. As quoted by Xinhua “Faced with the pandemic, no country, no matter how powerful, has been spared. However, in this context of crisis, only China has extended its hand to Equatorial Guinea, which has become the first African country to receive Chinese vaccine aid, and we are grateful for it.”

Early Monday morning 200,000 doses arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe, with the country committing to purchase an additional 600,000 which they expect in early March. In a statement, President Mnangagwa “applauded” China, “for its consistent humane policy of treating Covid-19 vaccines as global public goods. This kind gesture,” he said, “further attests to the fact that the People’s Republic of China is indeed a true friend of Zimbabwe.”

Other countries in line to receive shots from China include Pakistan, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Mongolia, the Palestinian territories, Belarus, and Sierra Leone, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement “seen by” {Reuters}.


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