China berichtigt die Zahl der Todesopfer auf der Grundlage von Fakten, unbeeinflusst vom westlichen Lärm: Leitartikel der Global Times

Die Stadt Wuhan in der zentralchinesischen Provinz Hubei korrigierte am Freitag ihre COVID-19-Todesopferzahl auf 3.869, ein Anstieg um 1.290 gegenüber der vorherigen Zahl, nachdem die lokale Regierung ihre Zählweise geändert hatte. Die Revision bedeutet auch, dass die Zahl der Todesopfer auf dem chinesischen Festland von 3.342 auf 4.632 gestiegen ist.

Dies ist eine verantwortungsvolle Korrektur in Übereinstimmung mit den Gesetzen und Bestimmungen. Es ist auch ein Trost für die Menschen, die bei dieser Epidemie gestorben sind, und ihre Familien, sowie eine Erklärung für die gesamte chinesische Gesellschaft.

Kürzlich wurde in der öffentlichen Meinung behauptet, die Behörden hätten die Zahlung der Todesgebühren verschwiegen, und einige im Westen schreckten nicht davor zurück, diese Spekulation aufzubauschen. Wuhan war von diesen Behauptungen nicht betroffen, sondern führte seine Überprüfungen und Korrekturen auf der Grundlage von Gesetzen zur Prävention und Kontrolle von Infektionskrankheiten durch. Die Einhaltung der Fakten hat oberste Priorität.

Die strenge Überprüfung und Korrektur der Zahl der Todesopfer bedeutet, dass es keinen Raum für absichtliche Verschleierung gibt. Spekulationen, dass China die Zahl der Todesopfer durch das Coronavirus verfälscht hat, sind weit von der Wahrheit entfernt. Einige Leute dachten das, weil sie die Arbeitsabläufe im Kampf gegen das Virus in China nicht verstanden, während andere nur eine böswillige Haltung gegenüber China einnahmen.

In der Frühphase des Ausbruchs von Wuhan wuchs die Zahl der infizierten Patienten weiter an, und das medizinische System war überfordert. Das Chaos führte leicht zu Fehlern und Versäumnissen bei der Berichterstattung an der Basis. Es mangelte an Fähigkeiten in Bezug auf Nukleinsäuretests und Behandlung. Die Bestätigung der jeweiligen Todesursache und die strenge Überwachung der Todesgebühren wurden schrittweise eingeführt.

An der Basis wurde diskutiert, ob einige Patienten im Anfangsstadium des Ausbruchs an der durch das Coronavirus verursachten Lungenentzündung starben oder nicht. Die Menschen hätten mit gewissen Fehleinschätzungen bezüglich der Zahl der Todesopfer rechnen müssen.

Daraus lässt sich auch ableiten, dass die Zahl der Todesopfer in den meisten von der Pandemie stark betroffenen Ländern nicht sehr genau sein wird. Viele COVID-19-Patienten werden an Komplikationen sterben. Es ist wahrscheinlich, dass die Datenerfassung chaotisch verlaufen wird, da die Todesursache in jedem Fall falsch angegeben werden könnte.

Dies ist kein politisches Problem, sondern eher eine technische Frage, die die Organisation und das Management der Krankheitsbekämpfung betrifft. Einige Leute haben jedoch die Zahl der COVID-19-Todesfälle in China aus politischen Gründen in Frage gestellt und die Daten politisiert. Auf diese Weise ist es zu einem heiklen Thema geworden.

Als das erste Land, das eine landesweite Mobilisierung gegen das neuartige Coronavirus startete, würde selbst eine relativ geringe Zahl von Todesopfern als eine große Zahl angesehen werden. Die Menschen in Wuhan haben auf dem Höhepunkt der Epidemie große Schmerzen und Verluste erlitten, was Zahlen allein nicht beschreiben können. Schließlich wurde ein statistisches System eingerichtet, aber eine Untererfassung der Todesopfer würde niemandem nützen. Die politischen und rechtlichen Risiken eines solchen Vorgehens wären untragbar.

China ist kein Land, in dem man unter völliger Missachtung des Gesetzes Daten fabrizieren kann. Jeder weiß, dass es ein Verbrechen ist, in böswilliger Absicht Daten zu fabrizieren, die die ganze Nation betreffen. Dazu ist auch die Koordination mehrerer Abteilungen und Personen erforderlich, aber ein solches System kann leicht aufgedeckt werden. Man kann sagen, dass eine böswillige Datenmanipulation im heutigen China nicht mehr vorkommen kann.

China hat am Freitag kalibrierte Daten veröffentlicht. Es ist zu hoffen, dass die Wahrhaftigkeit der Daten alle Kontroversen um diese Daten ausräumen kann. Das Thema erinnert uns erneut daran, dass alle offiziellen Daten, die von China veröffentlicht werden, politisch unter die Lupe genommen werden können. Jeder technische Fehler könnte als politische Sünde angesehen werden. Alle offiziellen Stellen Chinas müssen bei der Veröffentlichung ihrer Daten äußerst vorsichtig sein. Dies ist der zuverlässigste Ansatz.

Transated by Alfonso

BlackRock and the environment

The EU would like to supplement its banking supervision with a set of rules that also includes environmental, social and governance factors, which in German is most likely to be translated as responsibility. That sounds laudable. However, when you commission the financial group BlackRock of all companies to conduct a study that is to develop the basis for implementing these factors in banking supervision, the laudable idea turns into a farce. After all, BlackRock is a shining example of how not to do it in the environmental, social and governance fields. By Jens Berger.

Together with its competitors Vanguard and State Street, BlackRock has invested more than $300 billion in companies that are among the largest carbon dioxide emitters in the world. These companies’ emissions have risen from 10,593 gigatonnes of CO2 to 14,282 gigatonnes of CO2 since the signing of the Paris Climate Change Accord – equivalent to around 38 percent of global CO2 emissions in 2018. The Australian mining company BHP Group (formerly BHP Billington) alone accounts for 0.52 percent of global CO2 emissions. On October 17, 2019, a group of shareholders submitted a resolution to ban BHP from membership in lobbying associations working against the goals of the Paris Climate Change Convention. At BHP’s annual general meeting, 22 percent of shareholders voted in favour of the resolution, while seven percent abstained. The rest voted against. Among them was BlackRock.

BlackRock also opposed the implementation of environmental policy measures at the oil company Royal Dutch Shell. In December 2018, at a remarkable general meeting, a shareholder group called Climate Change 100+ forced the British-Dutch oil multinational to make several concessions on climate policy. Shell committed itself to setting targets for its carbon dioxide emissions, discloses its lobbying and association activities in climate protection and – this is also remarkable – will in future orientate the salaries of its board members towards the emission savings. The success can be explained by looking at who Climate Action 100+ is. What sounds like a small association of critical shareholders is an alliance of financial groups that together manage 35 trillion US dollars – including Allianz, Axa, the pension fund CalPERS, the German DWS, the Italian Generali, the Dutch Rabobank and the Swiss UBS. Who is missing are the three big ones – BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street. The financial service Portfolio Adviser aptly commented on the resistance with the sentence: “BlackRock and Vanguard betray their rivals in the fight against climate change”. And this is by no means an isolated incident.

In October 2019, Harvard Business School published a study on the voting behaviour of BlackRock and Vanguard in votes related to corporate policy on climate change. The results are appalling. BlackRock and Vanguard are not only among the financial groups that have voted the least in votes on climate change, but in at least 16 cases they have actively prevented resolutions on climate change from being adopted at general meetings.

Will the support for the climate sinners come from the fact that six of BlackRock’s 18 board members were previously employed by a company in the oil or gas sector? Either way. BlackRock has a black file on environmental and climate policy and is therefore unlikely to develop a set of rules that would force the financial sector to include the “environment” factor in its business concept.

Social and governance issues

Blackrock’s record on social and governance factors is similarly devastating. For example, BlackRock is one of the largest shareholders in the Swiss commodity multinational Glencore, which is responsible for the exploitation of the African continent like no other corporation in the world. But even in the industrialised countries of the global North, BlackRock does not make a name for itself as a representative of democratic, social or responsible corporate policy. BlackRock supports global multinationals such as Amazon, Disney, Google, McDonalds, Apple, Facebook and Starbucks to evade their tax liability worldwide. As the largest shareholder, and therefore a major co-owner of these corporations, BlackRock could stop this anti-social activity overnight … but BlackRock doesn’t even think about it.

BlackRock is a frightening example for all those who have ever thought about the term “governance”. The company has significant interests in more than 15,000 major corporations. BlackRock has a stewardship department that manages these 15,000 corporations and has 45 employees. However, these employees only had contact with 1,458 companies from the great BlackRock empire in fiscal 2018. Nine out of ten companies in which BlackRock has a significant stake are therefore not controlled at all, and in the “controlled” tenth, one BlackRock employee comes from 32 companies; and these are not small medium-sized companies, but without exception globally active multinationals, whose shareholdings often include entire files.

Nevertheless, BlackRock participated in 16,124 annual general meetings in the 2018 financial year, voting on 155,131 individual items – and in 92% of all cases it followed the recommendation of the respective company’s board of directors.

So a financial group that does not fulfil its duties as co-owner of thousands of companies should now design a set of governance rules? A giant for whom social factors are simply non-existent in the management of its shareholdings should recommend rules for a social corporate policy to other groups?

What drove the EU Commission to this quirky tender is and remains a mystery; unless one assumes that the planned ESG rules are merely an alibi measure and that one can thus be sure that these rules are guaranteed not to contain any points that will hurt the banks. And that is probably exactly how it will be. Whoever commissions the wolf with a protection concept for the flock of sheep is certainly not interested in the physical well-being of the sheep. And someone is surprised that the EU has such a bad reputation among its citizens.

Translated by Alfonso

Thoughts on the Corona Pandemic

Dr. med. Alex Rosen with an appeal to reason

Dr. med. Alex Rosen is chairman of the IPPNW (German Section of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War/ Physicians in Social Responsibility e.V.) and a specialist in paediatrics and youth medicine. On 22 March 2020 he wrote an e-mail to the members of the IPPNW with the subject “Thoughts for discussion on the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic”. weltnetz would like to thank him very much for allowing us to publish his thoughts and we hope that they will contribute to a factual discussion on the pandemic.

Dear members, I am pleased with the lively exchange and also the large number of interesting and thoughtful articles on the subject. When friends of mine ask me what they can do to help, I always ask them for two things make sure that they do not spread the virus (social distance, hygiene measures, isolation in case of symptoms, etc.) make sure that they do not spread false information and rumours unchecked and unreflected

The second point is probably just as important as the first, if not more so.

In view of the far-reaching political decisions taken in recent weeks, an intensive and critical debate on the need for freedom-limiting measures and invasions of privacy is just as necessary as a discourse on why the virus apparently affects some people very severely while others have almost no symptoms. We need to understand the virus better in order to be able to counteract it medically, and we need to try to find the right balance and the right measures in the difficult balancing of goods between the health protection of individuals and interference in the social, emotional and economic lives of all. This is also something we have to talk about in the IPPNW – so thank you again to all those who are participating in this discourse. What we do not need is unscientific trivialisation or repression. We can talk about whether it is really necessary to restrict freedom of movement without having to deny the dramatic medical situation in Lombardy, Iran or Alsace. We can name the underlying causes of the current crisis (shortage of nursing staff due to decades of misguided health policy, economisation and privatisation of the health system, fine dust pollution, unhealthy lifestyle leading to cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, etc.) without denying the scientific facts.

I would therefore like to address a few points:

We know so far that about 80% of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 have a relatively mild course and only a smaller proportion develop the lung disease COVID-19. At the same time, it is a new type of virus to which the world’s population has not yet been able to develop immunity and therefore poses a far greater risk than endemic pathogens, for which large sections of the population have already been able to develop an immunological memory. We know the phenomenon of the “new virus” from the history of medicine and we know that viruses, which are not so dangerous from their pathogenicity, can lead to massive effects on first contact. The European settlers and conquerors brought viruses to the American continent, which were considered a childhood disease in Europe, but which exterminated entire civilizations in the Americas. We saw similar developments about a hundred years ago with the novel Spanish flu virus Influenza A/H1N1. How high the case-related lethality of SARS-CoV-2 will be in the end, we cannot yet estimate. The mortality rates of individual countries vary greatly: in Germany, 92 deaths are currently measured to 23,974 cases (0.4% mortality), in Italy 5,476 deaths to 59,138 cases (9.3% mortality). As always, the truth is likely to lie somewhere in between and is very much dependent on epidemiological factors, time courses, therapy decisions, testing strategies and health policy conditions. Solid estimates suggest a case-related mortality rate of about 0.5-1%, i.e. about 5 to 10 times higher than normal influenza (0.1%). The fact that additional deaths (“excess deaths”) are to be expected cannot be ignored, i.e. people who would not (yet) have died without the current virus pandemic. How high this figure will be in the end, we do not know yet. In any case, the current total mortality at country level will not help us with this question and therefore does not represent a meaningful figure in the assessment of the pandemic. The natural mortality rates are simply too high to register smaller rashes in undifferentiated country-wide observations. Nevertheless, if we believe the 0.5-1% mortality rate and assume a population infestation of 60-70%, we would expect 250,000-580,000 additional SARS-CoV-2-associated deaths in Germany in the next few years. Would that be enough to make a significant dent in the overall statistics of around 820,000-950,000 deaths per year in Germany? Questions to the medical statisticians… Meanwhile, we practitioners should try to prevent people from dying prematurely just because the capacities in the health care system are not sufficient to provide them with the necessary medical assistance.

Most people who have severe courses of COVID-19 disease are old and have pre-existing conditions. This is exactly what we expect for all respiratory diseases – whether caused by coronaviruses, influenza or pneumococci. People with cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, immunodeficiencies or people under immunosuppression, e.g. oncological or rheumatological patients*, are worst affected. But of course, statistically speaking, young, healthy people and yes – in rare cases children as well – will be among the victims. We can also see this in the data from Italy and China. The solidarity that is currently shown by politics and society towards the different groups of risk patients is remarkable and should be remembered in the future when it comes to other health risks, such as the consequences of climate change or the economization of the health care system. What we would like to warn against is the attempt to play down the dangers of SARS-CoV-2, with the argument that a large proportion of those who died had previous illnesses. This ALWAYS applies to death rates for serious illnesses. Whether heart attacks, cancer, pneumonia or appendicitis – those who have previous illnesses will ALWAYS die more often. This does not mean that SARS-CoV-2 is not dangerous.

Some people who are currently not on the front line are fantasizing about PCR testing without any sense or reason. We here in Berlin have been testing patients* with respiratory tract infections for SARS-CoV-2 for weeks. At the beginning we did not have a single positive result. With the time it became more and more. Currently, about 5% of those tested have positive results – and the trend is rising. All with the same test. By the way, the same one that is used in other countries. It is similar everywhere: at the beginning they are all negative, then there are isolated positive results, then more and more, and with the accumulation of positive tests the rate of serious respiratory tract infections increases, since a certain percentage of those infected have severe courses. How can one then claim that the test would only give false positive results or that the infection has been circulating everywhere for a long time and is simply “uncovered” by the new tests? Anyone who claims such a thing either has no idea or is playing a nasty game. One can argue about the specificity of a test and about the pre-analytical factors that inevitably cause problems for a smear test, but please do so on a scientific level and with solid arguments.

The majority of infected people die in Italy outside intensive care units. In the intensive care unit, every life is fought for, so many of them manage to survive. Those who do not make it to the intensive care units (for lack of beds, personnel or respirators, for logistical reasons, for reasons of delayed access to medical assistance or for lack of access to the health service) die at home, in the tent hospitals in front of the clinics or in the normal wards. I am in daily contact with friends of mine in Italy, who are currently enduring and performing enormously in the hospitals there. I cannot understand how the current situation in Lombardy can be discussed away or explained by the increased environmental pollution. No, it is not normal that in Bergamo the hospitals have to put up tents in front of the emergency rooms. It is not normal that people do not come to the intensive care unit because there is no space. It is not normal that funeral homes have to ask the military for help because they don’t have enough capacity to deal with all the dead. Yes, Northern Italy has air pollution. It is as high as regions in the Balkans, Poland, Slovakia and individual sites in Germany, France, Spain or Great Britain. Of course, there are also many regions around the world where the Air Quality Index (AQI) is still well above the average (see e.g. https://www.airvisual.com or https://waqi.info/), for example in China. Air pollution may be one reason for the prevalence of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which are now leading to worse prognoses in the pandemic situation, but without the current pandemic situation, the locally very different morbidity and mortality trends could not be explained: thousands of deaths in Wuhan but not in Beijing; in Bergamo but not in Milan; in Alsace but not in Paris. No – the regional differences in SARS-CoV-2 infection play a major role here.

In this spirit I wish you and us strength, perseverance and resilience in the coming days and weeks. The crisis is testing us as a society and so far we seem to accept the challenge together with much solidarity, commitment and helpfulness. That gives us courage. Courage that we will all need.

Stay healthy and see you soon,

Alex Rosen

I hope that we all face this pandemic with the necessary seriousness – in everyday medical life, in the political struggle for adequate measures, and in our family and circle of friends.

Transation from German to Englisch Alfonso

 

Ukraine meets an IMF demand and releases its farmland for sale

While in Western countries citizens complain about the withdrawal of democratic rights in the wake of the Corona crisis, in Ukraine it is about nothing less than the loss of the last remaining asset, the agricultural land belonging to seven million small farmers and the state. President Volodymir Selenski used the provisions of the Corona quarantine, under which demonstrations are banned, to whip through a land law in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, which meets the interests of the large Ukrainian agricultural holdings and, following a referendum, also allows the sale of agricultural land to foreign banks. By Ulrich Heyden, Moscow.

259 of 450 Rada deputies voted in favour of the new land law at an extraordinary session of parliament in the night to Tuesday. Selenski had pressed for the law to be passed. In doing so, he is following a demand by the IMF, which made the payment of the next eight billion euros in loans dependent on the adoption of a new land law. The vote was taken in an extraordinary session in the night of Tuesday, after a year of debates on the law. The population was not involved in the debate. Protests from various social organisations and also from nationalists were not heard. Selenski had justified the adoption of the land law on the grounds that Ukraine was threatened with national bankruptcy if the IMF loan did not come.

Small farmers are being ignored

Under the now adopted Land Act, the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land introduced in 2001 will be lifted in June 2021. Until 2024, no more than one hundred hectares may be sold to a person with Ukrainian citizenship. From 2024, 10,000 hectares may then be sold to one person or company.

The biggest scandal of the new law is the creeping expropriation of seven million small farmers. These are former workers of collective farms, who were allocated four hectares of land when the collective farms were privatised.

Ukraine has an area of more than 60 million hectares. 28 million hectares belong to former collective farm workers or their children.1 Ten million hectares belong to the state. These figures include the Crimea and Donbass.

75 percent of the former collective farm workers have leased their land to large agro-holdings. Under the new land law, the tenants – mostly large agricultural holdings, civil servants and also mafia structures – have a privilege to purchase the leased land. If the leaseholder does not want to buy the land, he can transfer his right to purchase to another interested party. The actual owner of the land has no right of objection.

The agro-holdings currently pay the smallholders miserably low lease fees of only 47 dollars per hectare. In Poland the lease fee for one hectare is 235 euros.

In a survey conducted by the Institute of Agricultural Economics in 2017, only ten percent of small farmers were prepared to sell their land. The reason is simple. The land ensures the survival of its owners, especially in economically difficult times.

Because of the de facto power of the tenants it is foreseeable that there will be no auctions when the land is sold, the Ukrainian internet portal Strana.ua. And the new land barons would take their time with the payment of the land they bought.

From servant to traitor to the people

It was not clear how many members of the party, “servants of the people” would vote for the land law. Because Selenski has lost support in his party in recent months.

226 votes were needed to pass the law. But only 206 deputies of “Servants of the People” voted for the law. Two voted against. 35 “Servants of the People” stayed away from the vote.

By Ulrich Heyden

Translate from German to Englisch, Alfonso