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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lebanese Students Abroad Tell Al-Ahed about Their Suffering, How the Banks Wronged Them


Lebanese Students Abroad Tell Al-Ahed about Their Suffering, How the Banks Wronged Them

Once the file on Lebanese students abroad is opened, one gets a clear picture of their suffering, which is only being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
They endured hardship due to unfair policies by the banks. Thousands of students studying abroad became victims of double standard monetary and fiscal policies.
The blocking of transfers left many of them living with the constant concern of running out of money. Before the Association of Banks in Lebanon retracted this unfair decision and announced its commitment to transfer the appropriate amounts to the students, some of them couldn’t even pay for housing.
But transfers are not the only problem. The disrupted dollar exchange rates constitute another problem for the families of the students. These students found themselves facing a difficult situation created by the crippling monetary policy of the Central Bank of Lebanon, which has always been the strong bulwark of banks. In addition, there is the manipulation of the dollar exchange rate that has many negative repercussions on the livelihood of these students.
Securing money for housing and food allowances was thus their main source of anxiety.
Al-Ahed learned about the dire living conditions that Lebanese students were enduring in some countries. The students are in this situation because of the poor approach that banks took over the years. It even reached a point where banks gave the depositors their hard-earned cash in installments and resorted to all forms of capital controls under the pretext of maintaining liquidity at home. On the other hand, billions of dollars were smuggled to politicians and other influential figures as concerned authorities did nothing to stop these transfers.
Ukraine: 80% of Lebanese students are suffering
When asked about the problems that students face abroad, Maher Obaid doesn’t know where to begin. Obaid is a student at the Faculty of Pharmacy in Ukraine and he says that the greatest suffering is caused by the manipulation of the dollar exchange rate, which doubled the cost of education abroad.
“The dollar exchange rate reaching 3000 LL placed great burdens on my parents, in addition to the high cost of living. One thousand dollars is about two million and eight hundred Lebanese pounds, which leads me to ask, what will my parents send me and what will be left for them?”
Obaid criticized the policies adopted by the banks, which prevented his father from sending him money. “I was unable to pay rent for two months. And if I can’t pay this month’s rent, the landlord will definitely kick me out on the street.”
Talking with Obaid reveals the difficult conditions that 80% of students in Ukraine are currently grappling with.
“All this is a result of the banks’ policies. My father used to send me about $800 per month. The last time he was able to send money, he sent $400, half the amount. Last month, he was unable to send money because transfers were blocked.”
Obaid explains that their suffering started at the beginning of the dollar crisis in Lebanon. “Families face difficulty collecting dollars, and if they managed to get it, our purchasing power diminished a lot.”
Obaid sheds light on another point. His father is unable to withdraw his full salary through the bank. This is what makes matters worse. He demands that employees be paid their full salaries. He also demands that Lebanon’s Central Bank and the state pay more attention to the conditions of these students and show compassion towards their families by providing an acceptable dollar exchange rate – it does not necessarily have to be 1515 LL but shouldn’t exceed 1,800 LL.
When asked if he wants to return to Lebanon, Obaid says that would only add additional expenses. “Returning to Lebanon means that my parents will bear the costs of the ticket. The state does not have the means to bring all the Lebanese back home. This also means additional expenses for my self-isolation. In addition, I will have to return to Ukraine to take my exams in June should the situation settle down. This means my parents will pay the cost of the return ticket. Hence, my return to Lebanon will only mean more expenses for my parents.”
He warns with sadness that if the manipulation of the dollar exchange rate continues in this matter, he “will not be able to go to university next year. This is the case for many.”
France: Master’s students are the most affected
The situation in France is not very different from Ukraine. Lebanese students there also suffer from the manipulation of the dollar exchange rate because most of their families get paid in Lebanese pounds.
Dr. Ali Mokh tells Al-Ahed about that suffering. In his view, the bank policies adopted in Lebanon wronged the students, especially in terms of capital controls, which were accompanied by a great manipulation of the dollar exchange rate.
“Previously, a student needed between $ 6,000 to $ 10,000 annually to cover the costs of his studies. Ten thousand dollars was equal to 15 million Lebanese pounds. Today, however, it is about 28 million. This, of course, is in addition to the crisis the parents are facing in terms of being able to obtain dollars.”
Mokh remembers to address issues related to bank transfers, which are only aggravating the suffering of the students, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Master’s students depend on paid internships during the second semester. This enables them to pay rent and secure their expenses. Due to the coronavirus, many internships were cancelled. Hence, students lost the income they get from paid training. This means that these students are not being paid and are living in difficult conditions, especially since their parents are facing problems transferring money.”
He explains that the Lebanese community in France is seeking to help students.
Mokh’s words are echoed by Hussein Ali Taha, an engineering graduate. Taha points out that the most severe problem students are facing is the issue of payments, especially after paid internships were suspended due to the coronavirus. The student who used to cover his expenses from the allowance he gets, is now without income. He is forced to pay the expenses from his own pocket, which puts him in urgent need of money transfers. This is also the case with students who are studying online, who need cash from Lebanon.
Taha underscores the need to facilitate the return of Lebanese to their home country. The opportunity that was previously given to them was short-lived and the tickets were so expensive with some reaching up to 2000 Euros – a price tag few can afford.
For his part, Dr. Hussein Chour says that the two biggest problems for students in France are money transfers that began before COVID-19 and the suspension of paid internships. The suspension of paid internships also created problems for students looking to continue their PhD and to find work opportunities in the future. 
According to Chour, the most affected are master’s students, who make up a large portion of those studying in France. Of course, there are many students who were affected by the issue of obtaining hard currency. These students lost half of the value of their savings.
In addition, Chour highlights another crisis involving students in relatively isolated French cities with small Lebanese communities. Students there face a psychological crisis because there are no Lebanese students beside them, in addition to the financial and educational strain.
Chour concludes by noting that banking policies formed the “source of the scourge” and harmed many students.
A PhD student in chemistry Hassan El-Sabaa agrees that the biggest problems are transfers. But at the same time, he highlights the issue of social solidarity that emerged in France among countrymen. There are many Lebanese people who were quick to provide assistance to students who are gripped by difficult situations.
Italy: We are facing problems with due payments
The suffering of Ahmed Tabikh, a first-year biology student in Italy, is no different from the grief that his fellow students in Ukraine or France face. Tabikh talks about his experience with the banks, noting that before he went to Italy to continue his studies, he placed a bank guarantee in one of the Lebanese banks that deals with the Italian embassy.
“We started suffering as a result of the dollar crisis. We were only allowed to withdraw 200 Euros per week. Not to mention the commissions that students have to pay, which reached 28 Euros per month,” Ahmed says.
Tabikh points out that the 200 Euros is not enough to cover expenses, including rent, bills, food, and transportation.
“At the start of the coronavirus crisis, we were told that we could withdraw the full amount. So, we went to withdraw, but could not. In addition, my parents were unable to secure dollars and transfer the money.”
Tabikh does not express a desire to return to Lebanon, fearing that he might contract the virus. He is committed to self-isolation and taking measures to preserve his safety.
“We are still facing problems regarding due payments. We do not know whether or not they will charge us rent this month,” Tabikh says, hoping that the crisis will be resolved.
Therefore, there are a variety of problems that Lebanese students are experiencing abroad, most of which are due to the unjust policies adopted by the banking sector in Lebanon, including the capital controls used against people’s rights. The hope is that the announcement by the banks, committing to transferring the appropriate funds to Lebanese students, will be the beginning of change in the vicious policy that affected various segments of Lebanese society.

RUSSIAN STATE-OWNED COMPANY ORDERS TRACKING BRACELETS TO ASSIST IN COVID-19 QUARANTINE



'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
Click to see full-size image
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to some curious changes in relations between the countries. For example, Russia is now sending medical aid to the United States.
Russia sent a plane with medical equipment to the United States amid the pandemic of COVID-19, US President Donald Trump told reporters on March 30th.
“I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries. China sent us some stuff,” he told reporters during a briefing at the White House. “Russia sent us a very, very large plane load of things. Medical equipment. Very nice.”
He did not go into further details about Russia’s aid.
“Other countries sent us things that I was very surprised at, very happy surprised,” the US leader continued.
🇷🇺🇺🇸 Following phone talk between Presidents & @realDonaldTrump sends largest cargo aircraft An-124 Ruslan ✈️ with 😷 medical supplies (masks + equipment) to to help fight pandemic, save lives of American citizens. 🤝 The plane is en route




Embedded video


The fact that Moscow helps Washington in the situation with the coronavirus became known the day before.
The leaders of the two countries talked on the phone and noted the importance of international cooperation in a pandemic.
“The two presidents expressed serious concern over the scale of the spread of the coronavirus in the world and informed each other about measures taken in Russia and the United States to counter this threat. Opportunities for closer cooperation between the two countries on this problem were discussed.
They also exchanged views on the current state of the global oil market and agreed that Russian and American energy ministers should hold consultations on this topic.
Certain bilateral issues were also addressed.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump agreed to keep in contact.
On March 31, the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, announced that a Russian plane with medical aid will soon depart to the United States (indicating that there could be 2 planes: 1st – delivered before March 30, 2nd – delivered after March 31). He hoped the United States might also be able to provide medical help to Russia if necessary when the time came.
“It is important to note that when offering assistance to US colleagues, the president (Putin) assumes that when US manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.
Peskov, who noted difficulties expediting the aid to the United States thrown up by some US officials, was quoted as saying that Russia and China cooperated in a similar way because “at a time when the current situation affects everyone without exception … there is no alternative to working together in a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance”.
The Russian Aerospace Forces’ An-124-100 Ruslan set off for the United States included medical masks and medical equipment.
To add to the global anxiety regarding COVID-19, the World Health Organization has ceased to publish information on the number of people who have recovered from the infection around the world, because not all countries provide it, WHO official spokesman Tarik Yazarevich explained.
“With regard to cases of recovery outside of China, we do not have single data from various sources about how many officially confirmed cases of recovery from COVID-19, because not all countries systematically report these data to us. In many countries, people have not yet a chance to get better, so as the situation develops, we may have new data,” he said.
Yazarevich reminded that COVID-19 is a new disease, therefore it is necessary to obtain more epidemiological information on how the immunity to the virus is generated and how it can be determined that the patient has fully recovered.
According to WHO recommendations, a patient can be discharged from the hospital after conducting two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
Click to see full-size image
The current situation, as of April 1st is this: currently, the US has the most cases worldwide, sitting at 188,530, after recording 24,742 on March 31st.
Italy is 2nd, and the numbers of recorded cases appear to be gradually going down, with fatalities remaining relatively high, meaning that the peak might be drawing much closer, as initially expected.
Spain is likely to overtake Italy in the total number of cases in just a matter of days, while also recording high numbers of fatalities, but also high numbers of recoveries.
Notably, the US currently has more total cases than Italy and China combined, which until several days ago had more total cases separately.
Russia sits at 2,337 cases, and 17 fatalities, having recorded 501 new cases on March 31st, and it might appear that the measures undertaken may be justified, but time will tell.
Regardless, Moscow is providing assistance to Italy, the US, and Serbia asked for help, as well. Potentially after the COVID-19 hysteria passes, a large-scale media campaign will be required to switch the narrative to the US, or the collective “West” having dealt with the pandemic, and find out ways to accuse Russia and China of stoking it further.
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أنا يمنيّ وأحبّ إخواني اليمنيّين


اتخذت التقاطعات السياسية في اليمن أبعاداً مناطقية وطائفية ومذهبية وحزبية وظلت السياسة والحكم يعتمدان على هذه الأبعاد. عام 1962 قامت ثورة شمال اليمن وانتهى حكم الأئمة من آل حميد الدين على يد مجموعة من الضباط الأحرار الشباب من كلّ طوائف المجتمع اليمني ومذاهبه ومناطقه. لكنّ الخطأ الذي وقع بعد ذلك هو عدم الاستمرار في نهج الثورة نفسه، ذلك أنّ الخطاب السياسيّ الذي اعتُمِد بعد الثورة عمّق في أذهان الشعب اليمني فكرة أنّ الثورة كانت ضدّ الهاشميين وليست ضدّ نظام حكم، (لكون الحكام كانوا هاشميّين قبل الثورة)، مع العلم أنّ الثورة شارك فيها الكثير من العلماء والقادة العسكريين والمثقفين من الهاشميين.
انطلاقاً من هذا الواقع، وفي سياق تحليل العقلية والذهنية السياسية التي سادت اليمن بعد الثورة، نجد أنّ الكثير من الهاشميّين الذين أيّدوا الثورة والتغيير أصبحوا في حالة ارتباك بين اتهامهم بالإماميّة والكهنوتيّة والسلاليّة وبين تأييد الثورة، حتى أنّ الكثير من الأسر الهاشمية غيّرت ألقابها خوفاً من الاستهداف والاستبعاد من الوظائف وغيرها من الممارسات التي حدثت بعد الثورة مباشرة وكانت قاسية جداً بحقّ الهاشميين.
بعد ذلك، وفي فترة حكم الرئيسين الراحلين إبراهيم الحمدي وعلي عبدالله صالح تحديداً، بدأ اليمنيون في الاندماج بصورة مختلفة عمّا سبق، لا سيّما من الناحية الاجتماعية والثقافية، فأصبحوا أكثر اختلاطاً وقبولاً وتوطّدت علاقات المصاهرة، رغم استمرار استبعاد الهاشميين من الوظائف العليا، وأيضاً القادمين من تعز واليمن الأسفل، وإن بصورة أقلّ.
إذاً ظلّت تلك السياسة مُتّبعة، من تحت الطاولة، والقصد هنا ليس الحديث عن مظلومية لحقت بطائفة أو منطقة أو أسرة بعينها، بقدر ما هو التأكيد على أنّ الحكم في اليمن ظلّ يأخذ بالأبعاد المناطقية والطائفية والمذهبية والحزبية. فما حدث مع الهاشميين حدث مع الشوافع أيضاً حيث ظلّ أبناء تعز وما يُسمّى اليمن الأسفل ينظرون إلى أبناء الهضبة والطبقة الحاكمة في الشمال على أنها استبعدت أبناء هذه المناطق من المناصب القيادية العليا في القوات المسلحة والأمن ويعتبرون أنّ هذه الممارسات تجاههم لم تكن مُنصِفة.
ولم يكن الحال في الجنوب أفضل من الشمال، وإن بصورة مختلفة حيث تمّ اعتماد سياسة التمييز نفسها من خلال أطر الحزب الاشتراكي اليمني حيث كانت تتمّ التحالفات والانقلابات المناطقية والسياسية داخل الحزب وبدموية أكبر ممّا حدث في الشمال.
عام 1990 تحقّقت الوحدة اليمنية واستبشر اليمنيون بها خيراً وأملوا أن تكون الحجر الأساس لبناء الدولة اليمنية المدنية الحديثة التي تختفي فيها كلّ السياسات المُجحفة التي تحدثنا عنها، لكنّ الرياح جرت عكس ما اشتهته سفن اليمنيين، نظراً لما تبع هذه الوحدة من صراع على السلطة تداخلت فيه كلّ الأبعاد المناطقية والطائفية والمذهبية والحزبية. وظلّت هذه الذهنية سائدة لدى السلطة الحاكمة التي دمّرت كلّ فرصة لبناء دولة يتساوى تحت سقفها الجميع، إلى أن اندلعت حرب 1994 والتي كانت مثالاً لهيمنة الشمال على الجنوب، بالمفهوم السياسي، حيث تحالف الرئيس علي عبدالله صالح مع حزب الإصلاح في تلك الحرب. وفي ظلّ غياب الدولة القادرة على تحقيق التنمية والعدالة لأبناء الشمال والجنوب على السواء، تشكلت كيانات جنوبية طالبت بحقوقها في الوظائف العامة والموارد الاقتصادية، وبدأت في الشمال حروب صعدة عام 2004. هذه الأحداث مُجتمعة، أكدت أنّ كيان الدولة هش وأنّ الذهنية التي تحكمه لا تنفع لإدارة دولة فيها من التنوّع ما يجعلها من أقوى دول المنطقة.
عام 2011 جاءت أحداث ما سُمِّي «الربيع العربي» وخرج الشباب اليمني المستقلّ من كلّ المناطق والطوائف والمذاهب وكانت لديه رغبة حقيقية في التغيير وبناء دولة مدنية، لكنّ الأحزاب السياسية الفاسدة ركبت موجة الثورة وحاورت السلطة وتقاسمت معها الحكومة وبقيت الذهنية المُتخلفة تحكم البلد وتمّ استبعاد غالبية الشباب. بعد ذلك وقّعت كلّ الأطراف السياسية والرئيس السابق علي عبدالله صالح المبادرة الخليجية والتي تمّ بموجبها ترتيب نظام نقل السلطة في اليمن، وتبعت ذلك انتخابات رئاسية جديدة في شباط/ فبراير 2012، وجرى انتخاب الرئيس عبدربه منصور هادي الذي وقع «اتفاق السلم والشراكة» مع الحوثيين والأطراف السياسية اليمنية الأخرى، وما تلا ذلك من أحداث حتى تقديم هادي استقالته بعد استقاله الحكومة برئاسة خالد بحاح، ثم تراجعه عنها حيث عاد لممارسة مهماته «كرئيس شرعي للبلاد» من مدينة عدن، لينتقل بعد ذلك إلى السعودية.
في آذار/ مارس 2015 تدخلت السعودية عسكرياً في اليمن ضمن ما سُمِّي «التحالف العربي» تحت شعار «استعادة الشرعية»، ولا يزال اليمن منذ خمس سنوات يعيش في دوامة من الصراع لا يُعرف مُنتهاها، ولا تزال البلاد تُحكم بالعقلية المناطقية والذهنية عينها التي ذكرناها سابقاً.
النتيجة أنّ كلّ من وصل إلى الحكم في اليمن اعتمد الأبعاد المتخلفة التي ذكرناها. وجميعنا يعرف أنّ كلّ ما حدث سببه مجموعة من اللصوص والانتهازيين الذين يأكلون الحرام يومياً من دماء اليمنيين ولا يهمهم سوى مصالحهم والأموال والمكاسب التي يحصلون عليها.
انطلاقاً من كلّ هذه المصائب التي حلت بشعبنا ووطننا اليمن، فإنّ رسالتنا جميعاً يجب أن تكون: «أنا يمني وأحب إخواني اليمنيين جميعاً بغضّ النظر عن مناطقهم أو طوائفهم أو مذاهبهم وأتمنى أن نحيا معاً في دولة عادلة تحقق لنا الحياة الكريمة والحرة والآمنة».
فليكن نضالنا جميعاً ضدّ الفاسدين والقتلة واللصوص والانتهازيين ومَن دمروا بلدنا.. ضدّ كلّ من يحاول بثّ مشاعر الحقد والتفرقة بيننا.. واجبنا أن نعمل جميعاً ضدهم ويجب أن يعلموا أنه لا يمكنهم استغلالنا في معارك ليست معاركنا. فلتكن مصالحنا واحدة وأهدافنا مشتركة لنصل إلى بناء دولة عادلة للجميع.
اليمن لي ولك ولأبنائنا وللأجيال القادمة…
دبلوماسي يمني.

St. George Hospital Part of Hezbollah’s Plan to Combat Coronavirus: Ready to Receive COVID-19 Patients



St. George Hospital Part of Hezbollah’s Plan to Combat Coronavirus: Ready to Receive COVID-19 Patients 

Fatima Deeb Hamzeh
The battle against “the enemy” Coronavirus does not seem easy at all and is unlikely to end soon. On the contrary, the quick spread of the virus and its threat force all societies to be at alert and prepared to act. It is a world-wide qualitative battle in the fullest sense of the word. Therefore, this virus requires the possession of qualitative weapons to confront it and win the battle. 
The required weapons are: the health sector, medical sector, laboratories, precautionary measures, hospitals and their readiness, the medical teams and needed medical equipment. The world’s major players do not possess these weapons, and they seemed helpless and unable to take in the sick people. They have no ability to provide healthcare, quarantine or treatment for the patients. Italy, Spain and the United States are examples to these major players. 
What about hospitals in Lebanon? How are the hospitals being prepared to confront the most serious phase of the spread of the pandemic? What is the role of Hezbollah and its plan in this context? 
Dr. Mohamad Bashir, Chairman of the Saint George Hospital and the General Manager of Rasoul A’zam Hospital provided al-Ahed news with an insight on these issues. 
Capacity of hospitals in Lebanon acceptable 
Forty days to the beginning of the battle with Coronavirus, the Rafik Hariri Governmental Hospital as well as other private hospitals still receive patients infected with the virus. Around 6,550 people did the Covid-19 test out of which 446 cases were registered as positive [up to Monday 31/03/2020].
Commenting on the numbers, Dr. Bashir told al-Ahed news that “the capacity of hospitals to take in patients is acceptable, even though hospitals faced tremendous pressure at the beginning of the crisis when people poured into the hospitals to get the test done. Today, and with the help of several preventive, medical and health measures, we can say that our ability in the health sector is acceptable in terms of being able to receive, diagnose and treat patients as well as provide quarantine. 
St. George hospital ready to take in Coronavirus patients 
According to Dr. Bashir, Rafik Hariri hospital is the most prepared to take in Covid-19 patients among governmental hospitals, with the support of the ministry of health which has provided the hospital with a medical plan. In terms of private hospitals prepared to deal with the epidemic, Rasoul A’zam hospital tops the list.
Dr. Bashir told al-Ahed news “Whether at the St. George Hospital or Rasoul A’zam Hospital, we started precautionary measures and put a preventive and health plan simultaneously. Both hospitals started taking in suspected patients and cases, carrying out the test and transferring the infected cases to Hariri Hospital. We also set up chambers, medical teams, medical equipment for this matter, which played an important role in lifting pressure off the governmental hospital of Rafik Hariri. These measures put us on the right track when it comes to confronting the epidemic and protecting our society. 
Of course, according to Dr. Bashir, the scenario in the hospitals of some countries such as Italy, Spain and the United States is frightening. “Seeing the medical sector collapse and hospitals unable to receive patients there is scary. Therefore, it was essential for us in Lebanon to establish a complementary health system to cooperate and  collaborate together. This is where the Hezbollah medical emergency plan came from; Hezbollah decided to stand by the people and society, to support the governmental medical sector where it took the decision to prepare St. George hospital and turn it into a specialized hospital for confronting Covid-19 exclusively to contain the epidemic in case governmental hospitals became overloaded.”
Dr. Bashir declared that “the St. George hospital is ready now to receive 70 patients who need health care and 12 patients who need respirators.”
As Dr. Bashir puts it, “This is a matchless accomplishment. Those who work in the health sector realize the difficulty of preparing such a hospital with the needed equipment and the medical team. The entire hospital is prepared now only for Covid-19 cases. Everything has been taken into consideration and all required measures, logistics, the entrance and exit to and from the hospital, and administrative work have been studied and provided.” 
Moreover, Dr. Bashir reiterated what Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah had said and told al-Ahed “the battle with Coronavirus seems to be a long-term battle, and it will not end in days or weeks. Therefore, the little number of infected people and preparedness of hospitals must not push us to relax and neglect the health and medical required measures. Hence, the Hezbollah plan has two main concerns in dealing with the situation; the patients and the hospitals.” 
He concluded that “In this context, Hezbollah took quick action in terms of first, establishing and setting up medical centers in the different areas to lift pressure off hospitals and second, prepare the St. George Hospital exclusively for Covid-19 patients and the role of Rasoul A’zam Hospital in testing suspected patients and transferring them quickly to the specialized medical apparatus.”

‘STRANGE TIMES’: RUSSIA IS SENDING MEDICAL AID TO U.S. TO HELP IT WITH COVID-19 CRSISIS

'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
Click to see full-size image
The COVID-19 outbreak has led to some curious changes in relations between the countries. For example, Russia is now sending medical aid to the United States.
Russia sent a plane with medical equipment to the United States amid the pandemic of COVID-19, US President Donald Trump told reporters on March 30th.
“I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries. China sent us some stuff,” he told reporters during a briefing at the White House. “Russia sent us a very, very large plane load of things. Medical equipment. Very nice.”
He did not go into further details about Russia’s aid.
“Other countries sent us things that I was very surprised at, very happy surprised,” the US leader continued.
🇷🇺🇺🇸 Following phone talk between Presidents & @realDonaldTrump sends largest cargo aircraft An-124 Ruslan ✈️ with 😷 medical supplies (masks + equipment) to to help fight pandemic, save lives of American citizens. 🤝 The plane is en route



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The fact that Moscow helps Washington in the situation with the coronavirus became known the day before.
The leaders of the two countries talked on the phone and noted the importance of international cooperation in a pandemic.
“The two presidents expressed serious concern over the scale of the spread of the coronavirus in the world and informed each other about measures taken in Russia and the United States to counter this threat. Opportunities for closer cooperation between the two countries on this problem were discussed.
They also exchanged views on the current state of the global oil market and agreed that Russian and American energy ministers should hold consultations on this topic.
Certain bilateral issues were also addressed.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump agreed to keep in contact.
On March 31, the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, announced that a Russian plane with medical aid will soon depart to the United States (indicating that there could be 2 planes: 1st – delivered before March 30, 2nd – delivered after March 31). He hoped the United States might also be able to provide medical help to Russia if necessary when the time came.
“It is important to note that when offering assistance to US colleagues, the president (Putin) assumes that when US manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.
Peskov, who noted difficulties expediting the aid to the United States thrown up by some US officials, was quoted as saying that Russia and China cooperated in a similar way because “at a time when the current situation affects everyone without exception … there is no alternative to working together in a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance”.
The Russian Aerospace Forces’ An-124-100 Ruslan set off for the United States included medical masks and medical equipment.
To add to the global anxiety regarding COVID-19, the World Health Organization has ceased to publish information on the number of people who have recovered from the infection around the world, because not all countries provide it, WHO official spokesman Tarik Yazarevich explained.
“With regard to cases of recovery outside of China, we do not have single data from various sources about how many officially confirmed cases of recovery from COVID-19, because not all countries systematically report these data to us. In many countries, people have not yet a chance to get better, so as the situation develops, we may have new data,” he said.
Yazarevich reminded that COVID-19 is a new disease, therefore it is necessary to obtain more epidemiological information on how the immunity to the virus is generated and how it can be determined that the patient has fully recovered.
According to WHO recommendations, a patient can be discharged from the hospital after conducting two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
'Strange Times': Russia Is Sending Medical Aid To U.S. To Help It With COVID-19 Crsisis
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The current situation, as of April 1st is this: currently, the US has the most cases worldwide, sitting at 188,530, after recording 24,742 on March 31st.
Italy is 2nd, and the numbers of recorded cases appear to be gradually going down, with fatalities remaining relatively high, meaning that the peak might be drawing much closer, as initially expected.
Spain is likely to overtake Italy in the total number of cases in just a matter of days, while also recording high numbers of fatalities, but also high numbers of recoveries.
Notably, the US currently has more total cases than Italy and China combined, which until several days ago had more total cases separately.
Russia sits at 2,337 cases, and 17 fatalities, having recorded 501 new cases on March 31st, and it might appear that the measures undertaken may be justified, but time will tell.
Regardless, Moscow is providing assistance to Italy, the US, and Serbia asked for help, as well. Potentially after the COVID-19 hysteria passes, a large-scale media campaign will be required to switch the narrative to the US, or the collective “West” having dealt with the pandemic, and find out ways to accuse Russia and China of stoking it further.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:

The Corona Debacle


MARCH 30, 2020
by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker blog
I have deliberated for some time before deciding to write a Saker article about the COVID-19 outbreak. Firstly, because this is not a forum to write about such issues, and secondly because I am not a medic. But given that this is all that people want to talk and hear about right now, given that COVID-19 articles have already been published on The Saker, I might as well have my say. After all, technically-speaking, I am a scientist, albeit not a medical one.
Before writing this, I have exchanged thoughts and listened to the advice of many friends in the medical profession. As a conclusion, to try to understand what is going on, if we ever can, I feel that we perhaps need to dissect the unprecedented lockdown situation that humanity is facing for the first time in its history; beginning with the nature of the virus itself.
The Virus:
As far as I know, these are the dangerous aspects of COVID-19:
1. It is highly contagious.
2. It causes a vicious infection that requires ICU support.
3. It is potentially lethal.
As far as I know as well, these are the ‘not so bad news’:
1. It is not airborne.
2. It has a very low mortality rate.
If there is more to say about the above, the world leaders will have to come clean and provide more information.
For COVID-19 to become a serious danger, the likes of such that the whole world is shutting down for, it will have to undergo two mutations:
a. It has to become airborne i.e. become transmitted by wind rather than person to person contact, and;
b. It has to become more virulent.
Whilst it is true that those mutations can happen, as far as we are told, they haven’t, at least not yet. Equally, they can happen to any known or unknown virus.
Genetic mutations happen randomly within all living things including viruses. But because viruses have very little genetic material (DNA/RNA) and a very high replication rate, mutations can result in major shifts; and in short periods of time.
Like all mutations, viral mutations happen randomly. In other words, they do not have a targeted approach, and this is why specific mutations are not inevitable. It is not therefore a question of time before the COVID-19 mutates to become airborne and very lethal. Actually, it may mutate in the opposite directions. And even though a mutation that makes the virus less contagious will eventually lead to its own demise, it is only by chance that a mutation that guarantees its survival eventuates. It is a hit-and-miss situation.
Furthermore, the probability for TWO random mutations to happen, instead of only one, in a manner that is specifically dangerous to humans, is much less likely than for either one to eventuate alone. According to the law of probability, a double probability is the mathematical multiplication of both. As we cannot give a mathematical figure to the probability of each of the above mutations to eventuate, it would be almost impossible to give an estimate of both of them happening together. But to give an example, if the chance of each probability is as high as 10% (and in reality, it has to be much lower because it is a random event), then for the two to take place, the probability of both combined goes down to 1%.
In other words, there is a much higher probability for the virus to become just airborne and remain with the same level of virulence than it is to become both airborne and more lethal. The opposite is also true. There is a much higher probability for the virus to become just more lethal and not become airborne than it is to become both airborne and more lethal.
For all we know, it can even mutate to become both less contagious and less lethal. Actually, statistically speaking, the probability of the virus becoming airborne and more lethal is the same as the probability of it becoming less contagious and less harmful.
Unless we are not given the complete information, the COVID-19, according to what we are presented with therefore, does not in its current form pose a serious threat to the human population.
The Statistics:
1. In 2009, Novovirus H1N1 (aka Swine Flu) infected 60 million people worldwide causing 200,000 to 400,000 deaths with 18,000 in the USA alone.
2. Annually, 300,000 to 500,000 people die of the common flu worldwide.
3. The fatality rate of COVID-19 varies with age and physical conditions, but it is under 3% for healthy people under 60 years old.
4. The fatality rate from some strains of Common Flu can be as high as 8%.
5. Thus far, and as far as I know, there is no satisfactory medical explanation that links the death of COVID-19 victims with the actual virus. Doctors don’t know what actually killed the patients other than pre-existing conditions compounded with the COVID-19.
The ‘Conspiracy Theories’:
The COVID-19 scare is giving two groups of people a field day; 1) the conspiracy theorists, and 2) certain religious groups.
I will not even bother trying to write about the mileage that the latter group is aiming to gain from this traumatic episode in human history. As far as conspiracies are concerned, conspiracy theorists do not ‘need’ a Coronavirus scare to come up with new conspiracy material. That said, we must keep open minds and listen to at least some of them. Some of what they say might, just might, make sense. But when they say that ‘Big Brother’ is behind this, which ‘Big Brother’ I ask?
According to some, the USA ‘created’ the virus and had a plan to hold China accountable for a pandemic in the eyes of the world. In such a case, surely the USA would have made provisions to make sure that the disease did not reach it own shores.
Some may argue that those on the top of the hill don’t care about those who live in the fields, but when I see that Prince Charles and UK’s PM have tested positive, The Queen has been shifted out of the Buckingham Palace and Angela Merkel is in isolation, then surely this cannot be a Western political game.
Furthermore, even though the USA is perhaps using the situation to impose more sanctions on Iran, when I see that the USA has become the world leader in infection cases, when I see a unified and consolidated approach to the so-called pandemic among all world leaders, from all divides, something about any conspiracy theory must be amiss.
The Winners and Losers:
In any warfare situation, there are winners and losers, or at least would-be winners and losers.
Surely, some governments are using the scare as an opportunity to introduce draconian laws that they were not able to pass in ‘peace time’. But again, this alone is not enough reason to initiate this situation; and worldwide.
Call me naïve if you wish, but I can only see losers herein and no winners.
Of course, there are those who made, or hope to make, short/long term gains when/if they bought stocks for dirt cheap prices in the hope that those shares will bounce back again. But given those unprecedented events of almost total shutdown, who is to guarantee that those stocks will bounce back? And even if they do, to say that this whole scare was about taking the chance of a stock market bust, followed by boom, is almost impossible to fathom. Why would all governments of the world, collectively, agree to deliberately create mass unemployment and risk cataclysmic financial depression and bankruptcy in order to satisfy the greed of some shareholders, even the likes of the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers?
After all, those trillionaire legacies have had the tradition of manipulating markets for so long without having to orchestrate a crash of such magnitude as seems to be looming. Why did they take this extreme measure now if they indeed did?
Surely, China will be selling more masks and protective gear to the rest of the world, but how can this compensate for all other sales lost?
No explanation seems to make any comprehensive sense at all. This situation leaves far more room for speculation and less room for identifying any clear winners. The winners/losers scenario has never been so chaotic and nonsensical before. By and large, everyone ultimately will be losers in some way or another.
Geo-Political Situation:
Why would the USA/EU walk away from Italy at a time when Italy needed such a level of support? If the USA is trying to ‘punish’ Italy for joining the Chine Silk Road initiative, then this pandemic should provide an ideal opportunity for bringing Italy back in line and for the USA/EU to come to Italy’s help, presenting themselves as Italy’s best and most reliable allies. Instead, they stepped back, leaving the doors wide open for their rivals to step in. This again does not make sense.
Global Consensus:
Never before have we seen global rivals beating the same drum. If the scare were indeed a scam, surely Russia and China would not be playing America’s tune. Neither would we see photos of President Putin dressed in a Hazmat suit. President Putin does not mince either his words or actions. He must have a real reason. Furthermore, China would not have ‘accepted’ that the virus would take off from Wuhan.
Cold-War type politics have always taught us that there are two sides to any political story; and sometimes more. This is why forums like The Saker exist; because they attempt to tell a story that has been suppressed by the empire’s main stream media. But now, all of those rivals are saying the same story, but in a manner that does not much add up.
Medical Opinion:
Many doctors, actually most doctors, in the world are supporting the narrative of governments. Political leaders are saying that they are working on the advice of medical professionals. But there are some eminent doctors who disagree and are saying that the danger of COVID-19 is very comparable to most other previous flu epidemics. I have seen a few videos to that effect, but this link is a composite of 12 interviews with doctors who agree that the pandemic is blown out of proportion https://off-guardian.org/2020/03/24/12-experts-questioning-the-coronavirus-panic/
The Conclusion?
Given what the public has been told, there is no conclusion to be made. Am I saying that warnings should be ignored and that people should go on partying and having close contact with each other? Definitely not. Personally, I am taking all precautions recommended, I cannot chance it, even though I am not fully convinced that humanity is facing an imminent medical catastrophic danger.