the smoky fire that preceded the ‘fireworks’ must have been accidental

Beirut Blast Wrap-up

Moon of Alabama, Aug 5 2020

Yesterday 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, exploded. The blast killed more than 100 people and wounded more than 4k. Many buildings in Beirut were severely damaged. The pressure wave broke windows as far 10 miles away. Beirut’s port is mostly destroyed. Lebanon’s national grain reserve, stored in grain silos next to the explosion, is gone. This comes on top of an economic and currency meltdown in Lebanon and during a exponential growth phase of the Coronovirus epidemic. In 2013, Lebanese authorities arrested a ship that had been abandoned by its owner:

On 23/9/2013, m/v Rhosus, flying the Moldovian flag, sailed from Batumi Port, Georgia heading to Biera in Mozambique carrying 2,750 tons of Ammonium Nitrate in bulk. En route, the vessel faced technical problems forcing the Master to enter Beirut Port. Upon inspection of the vessel by Port State Control, the vessel was forbidden from sailing. Most crew except the Master and four crew members were repatriated and shortly afterwards the vessel was abandoned by her owners after charterers and cargo concern lost interest in the cargo. The vessel quickly ran out of stores, bunker and provisions. Owing to the risks associated with retaining the Ammonium Nitrate on board the vessel, the port authorities discharged the cargo onto the port’s warehouses. The vessel and cargo remain to date in port awaiting auctioning and/or proper disposal.

The ammonium nitrate was stored in a quayside warehouse. The picture shows the 1,000 kg big bags labeled “Nitroprill HD” in bad storage conditions at the ‘Hanger 12’ warehouse in Beirut.

“Nitroprill HD” is a knock-off product of the trademarked Nitropril, a premium grade porous prilled ammonium nitrate manufactured and sold by the Orica Mining Services in Australia. It is used as a commercial explosive in mining and quarrying. The safety sheet of the original product says it “May explode under confinement and high temperature, but not readily detonated. May explode due to nearby detonations.” An Orica safety assessment (App III) sets the TNT (military explosive) equivalence for fire of bulk Nitropril in big bags at 15%. 2,750 tons of Nitropril are thereby the equivalent of 412.5 tons of TNT.

A video taken from the top of the grain silos next to the warehouse shows uncontrolled explosions of small fireworks within a port warehouse near to where the ammonium nitrate was stored. The small crackling fireworks explosions are followed by a very huge one. The video is consistent with other videos taken from further away. What set of the fireworks which set off the ammonium nitrate  is yet unknown but it is assumed to have been accidental. The damage as shown in the before-after picture below is huge.

A look at the quay from the east with the crater of the explosion in front of the grain silos. The silos have protected the western part of the city from more damage. Wheat has spilled out. The grain reserves of Lebanon are down to less than a month of consumption.

The ammonium nitrate should not have been stored in a warehouse within the city. But similar could be said of the Iranian ammunition that was stored at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base in Cyprus. It had been seized at Pindo urging en route to Syria in Jan 2009. On Jul 11 2011, a wildfire at the base set off the ammunition. The explosion killed dozens and destroyed the main power station of the island. An aerial video taken this morning shows the utter devastation of Beirut’s port facilities. Lebanon depends on imports. 80% of those come through Beirut port. Pictures and videos from various correspondents in Beirut show their damaged apartments (1, 2, 3, 4). All windows are broken and glass shards are strewn all over the places. The breaking windows must have caused most of the injuries. According to the mayor of Beirut some 300.000 people have lost their homes. The Middle East correspondent for the Independent tweeted:

Bel Trew’s full report of the explosion and its aftermath is here. Syria and Iran have immediately promised aid for Lebanon. An Iranian emergency hospital is currently on its way to Beirut and is expected to open later today. Syria dispatched medical teams and is receiving patients from Beirut’s overwhelmed hospitals. The explosion hit Beirut at a moment where the country is under Pindo sanctions and while its currency is cratering with inflation reaching 90% per month after a Ponzi scheme run by its Central Bank blew up. People who do not own foreign currency will be unable to replace their broken windows. The whole country is disintegrating. Foreign aid from Arab and other states will now hopefully flow in and help to alleviate the suffering. RFE/RL spoke with the captain of the ship that unintentionally had brought the ammonium nitrate to Lebanon. He confirms the ship’s arrest. It also reports the cause of the incident:

Lebanon’s LBCI-TV reported on August 5 that, according to preliminary information, the fire that set off the explosion was started accidentally by welders who were closing off a gap that allowed unauthorized entry into the warehouse. LBCI said sparks from a welder’s torch are thought to have ignited fireworks stored in a warehouse, which in turn detonated the nearby cargo of ammonium nitrate that had been unloaded from the MV Rhosus years earlier. Independent experts say orange clouds that followed the massive blast on Aug 4 were likely from toxic nitrogen dioxide gas that is released after an explosion involving nitrates.

There is a short video of firefighters at the initial fire. Reportedly none survived when the fireworks fire set off the ammonium nitrate. Another video shows the initial fire caused by welding. It burns a while and then sets off fireworks in a first explosion. This takes the the roof off the warehouse. A few minutes later the fireworks cause the huge explosion of the ammonium nitrate. Reuters provides another detail:

The source said a fire had started at port warehouse 9 on Tuesday and spread to warehouse 12, where the ammonium nitrate was stored.

That the ammonium nitrate was stored for seven years was not the responsibility of the port management but was caused by some judicial quarrel:

The head of Beirut port and the head of customs both said on Wednesday that several letters were sent to the judiciary asking for the dangerous material be removed, but no action was taken.

Port General Manager Hassan Koraytem told OTV the material had been put in a warehouse on a court order, adding that they knew then the material was dangerous but “not to this degree.” Badri Daher, director general of Lebanese Customs, told broadcaster LBCI:

We requested that it be re-exported but that did not happen. We leave it to the experts and those concerned to determine why.

Two documents seen by Reuters showed Lebanese Customs had asked the judiciary in 2016 and 2017 to request that the “concerned maritime agency” re-export or approve the sale of the ammonium nitrate, which had been removed from cargo vessel Rhosus and deposited in warehouse 12, to ensure port safety.

Massive explosion in Beirut kills dozens and injures thousands
Kevin Reed, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

Dozens of people were killed and thousands injured by a massive explosion on Tuesday evening in Beirut, Lebanon that flattened the city’s port district and damaged buildings as far away as six miles. Numerous smartphone videos shared on social media and published by news organizations show a large fire at a port warehouse with a white column of smoke billowing into the blue sky above Beirut followed by a terrifying blast that emits a giant mushroom cloud and a shock wave that engulfs everything in its path. A report by AP said that the blast struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany’s geosciences center GFZ, “and it was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus more than 200 km across the Mediterranean.” Other reports said the large number of injured in need of emergency medical attention are overwhelming area hospitals and officials were making public pleas for blood donations. The Guardian reported at 23:15 BST that there were two explosions in Beirut and that Lebanon’s health minister Hamad Hassan confirmed that at least 78 people were killed and 4k injured. The Guardian report said:

The final death toll from the biggest explosion to ever rock Beirut is expected to be significantly higher than the figures given in its immediate aftermath. Georges Kettaneh, a Lebanese Red Cross official, said more deaths were expected when rescue teams combed through damaged buildings.

Although the cause of the blast is still to be officially identified, Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, told news media that it may have been the product of highly explosive material that was stored at the Beirut port after it was confiscated from a ship. A tweet from an account identified with the Lebanese Presidency quoted Prime Minister Hassan Diab as saying:

It is unacceptable that a shipment of ammonium nitrate estimated at 2,750 tons has been present for six years in a warehouse without taking preventive measures that endanger the safety of citizens.

Ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizer production, is a powerful explosive. By comparison, the Oklahoma City bombers used 2 tons of ammonium nitrate to detonate the deadly explosion that killed 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. A BBC report said:

Prime Minister Hassan Diab called it a catastrophe and said those responsible must be held to account. He spoke of a ‘dangerous warehouse’ which had been there since 2014 but said he would not pre-empt the investigation.

The AP said that local TV stations reported that a fireworks warehouse had caught on fire and that “the fire then appeared to spread to a nearby building, triggering a more massive explosion. One of Israel’s top bomb experts, Boaz Hayoun, owner of the Tamar Group, which works closely with the Israeli government on safety and certification issues involving explosives, said:

Fireworks could have been a factor setting off the bigger blast. Before the big explosion, in the center of the fire, you can see sparks, you can hear sounds like popcorn and you can hear whistles.

Pompeo said the Trump administration is closely monitoring the situation. Pompeo said in a written statement:

Our team in Beirut has reported to me the extensive damage to a city and a people that I hold dear, an additional challenge in a time of already deep crisis.

Pompeo’s reference is concerning the deep economic and financial crisis that has overtaken Lebanon, including a collapsing currency, soaring inflation and expanding poverty, accompanied by the intensification of sectarian conflict, all of which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking about the events in Lebanon during a White House press briefing on Tuesday evening, Trump said that the explosion “looks like a terrible attack,” adding:

I’ve met with some of our great generals and they just seem to feel that it was not a — some kind of manufacturing explosion type of event. This was a — seems to be according to them, they would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind.

Trump offered no further evidence or explanation of his statement, which contradicts the position of Lebanese officials.

Trump calls Beirut explosion an ‘attack’
Laura Kelly, The Hill, Aug 4 2020

President Trump described explosions that occurred in Beirut on Tuesday and killed at least 78 people as an “attack,” saying his military and national security advisers had indicated to him that it was likely a bomb. Trump said at a White House news conference:

I met with some of our great generals, and they just seemed to feel that it was — this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of event. According to them — they would know better than I would — but they seem to think it was an attack, it was a bomb of some kind.

Beirut was rocked by a massive explosion early Tuesday evening local time that has left 78 dead and at least 4,000 injured, according to The NYT. The blast sent shockwaves through the city and was captured on a number of videos. The Lebanese government is investigating the source of the explosion, but officials suggested the blast occurred when a warehouse stored with explosive materials caught on fire. The Times reported that a large stock of ammonium nitrate was stored where the explosions occurred. Lebanon’s prime minister, Hassan Diab, called the explosion a “catastrophe” and promised to hold those accountable to justice, saying there have been “facts about this dangerous warehouse that has been there since 2014,” and said an investigation will take place, according to a copy of his remarks reported by Lebanese state media NNA.

‘A bomb of some kind’? Trump says Pindo military officials think deadly Beirut blast was an attack, Aug 4 2020

President Trump has claimed the blast that rocked Beirut was likely an “attack,” citing Pindo military officials who “seem to believe” the explosion was not accidental, despite widespread reports it was a chemical warehouse accident. The blast erupted at a port warehouse in the Lebanese capital on Tuesday, killing at least 70 people and leaving thousands injured. Though the exact cause of the explosion has not been determined, and no Lebanese official has labeled the incident an attack, Trump told reporters that the Pentagon believes a bomb was involved. Trump said when asked whether the blast was the result of an attack:

It would seem like it based on the explosion. I met with some of our great generals, they seem to feel this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of event. They seem to think it was an attack, it was a bomb of some kind.

Though rumors and speculation of a potential foul play swirled on social media following the explosion, both the Israeli military and the Hezbollah militant group have denied any involvement, while Lebanese officials have also brushed aside suggestions of an Israeli rocket attack. Instead, the head of the country’s General Security Directorate, Abbas Ibrahim, said an “incident” at a chemical depot set off the blast, suggesting it was accidental. Some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical commonly used in fertilizers, but also in explosives, had been improperly stored at the port warehouse since 2014, President Michel Aoun said in a tweet, calling it “unacceptable” while vowing that those responsible would face the “most severe penalties.”

WATCH enormous Beirut blast from 15 synchronized camera angles as mystery surrounding its cause persists, Aug 4 2020

Videos of the devastating explosion at the port of Beirut that left over 70 people dead and thousands wounded continue to emerge, painting a comprehensive picture of the destruction, though shedding no light on its cause. A mega-compilation of 15 different videos from witnesses to Tuesday’s catastrophic explosion in Lebanon’s capital has been compiled by RT. The synced-up clips give some idea of the far-reaching devastation caused by the blast, which authorities have traced to a 2,750-tonne stash of explosive ammonium nitrate in a warehouse by the port (certainly not an Israeli missile, Lebanese and Israeli authorities as well as Hezbollah have stressed). The casualty count continues to climb and hospitals in Beirut are said to be exceeding capacity. The blast was reportedly heard as far away as Cyprus, some 150 miles away from the port. Despite the explanations supplied by Lebanese authorities, Trump apparently felt compelled to weigh in on the incident during a press conference Tuesday evening, suggesting, “based on the explosion,” that it was an “attack, it was a bomb of some kind” after consulting with Pentagon generals.

Beirut explosion seems a catastrophic ‘accident similar to 2001 Toulouse fertilizer factory blast,’ detonations expert tells RT, Aug 5 2020

The massive blast that shook Beirut was likely caused by a fatal mishandling of hazardous materials, mirroring the explosion that leveled a fertilizer plant in France some two decades ago, a chemist and detonations expert told RT. Tuesday’s explosion tore through a port chemical depot and sent a towering fireball and mushroom cloud into the sky over Beirut, leaving more than 70 people dead and some 4k injured. Though Trump has mused that the incident was an “attack” caused by “some kind of bomb,” Frolov, who heads the combustion and explosion department at the Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, said he’s confident the blast was a catastrophic accident. Frolov, who also leads the Semenov Institute’s detonations lab, told RT in an interview:

The sequence of events shows this was an accidental explosion for sure. You shouldn’t store such amounts of hazardous materials in one place. This is forbidden. If you have hazardous materials somewhere in store, and if you violate the conditions of storage, you can expect an ignition source will always appear.

While the exact cause of the blast has yet to be determined, Lebanese officials say that some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been improperly stored at the port for nearly 6 years, with the country’s President Michel Aoun vowing “severe penalties” for those responsible for the chemical cache. Commonly used in fertilizers, ammonium nitrate is also the main ingredient in some industrial-grade explosives, such as ANFO, and is prone to violent combustion if stored under the wrong conditions. Frolov pointed to press reports stating that the chemical warehouse was located not far from a fireworks storage and other hazardous material facilities, calling it a “very, very dangerous mix,” requiring only a small spark to set off a major secondary blast. Some local reports, citing security sources, alleged it could be a welding mishap. Frolov said:

It could be static electricity, it could be an open fire, a cigarette. it could be a shock or electrical discharge, even some lightning. This accidental ignition source will cause a fire, and during the fire you have some gasification of the existing material, and the accumulation of these combustibles in the atmosphere. You have escalation of fire, and then you can have the secondary explosion.

Recalling the 2001 disaster at a fertilizer factory in Toulouse, France, where some 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate combusted, leveling the entire facility, Frolov said the two deadly blasts are comparable in destructive force, estimating the Beirut explosion to be equal to “tens of tonnes of high explosives. He said:

What I saw reminded me of the explosion in Toulouse. There were very similar consequences. In that explosion about 30 people were killed immediately, and about 3k were injured. So this gives me an exact parallel, that this explosion is very close, by its strength, to that one.

Frolov said the 2001 blast was equivalent to 20 to 40 tonnes of TNT. He refuted speculations and concerns over a huge “mushroom-shaped cloud,” explaining it was common in the case of such a powerful conventional explosion. He said:

This is actually the explosion itself. There was some special shape, and this shape is characteristic of very strong explosions, where you have not a spherical wave, but the wave with a ‘mach stem’ it is called, near the ground. This is not a Hiroshima-like, as some people say, because that was kilotons, but this is tens of tonnes.

As first responders in Beirut work through the night to pull survivors from the rubble and investigators pinpoint the precise cause of the blast, Frolov said the tragic incident will come as “a very, very large and sad lesson for everybody,” stressing the need for proper storage of volatile and dangerous chemicals.

HRW chief jumps to blame Hezbollah for devastating Beirut blasts, and backpedals immediately, Aug 4 2020

Human Rights Watch head Kenneth Roth was quick to join a social media chorus blaming Hezbollah for deadly explosions in Beirut on Tuesday. Perhaps realizing the claim lacked a shred of evidence, he soon deleted it. Roth rushed to blame Hezbollah for the huge explosions near the port of Beirut, blasts which killed at least 50 people and are believed to have wounded over 3k more. “Is this Hezbollah’s way of saying don’t mess with us for allegedly killing former Lebanese PM Hariri?” he asked in a tweet posted almost immediately after news of the explosions hit social media on Tuesday. The HRW executive director called for a UN tribunal prosecuting four Hezbollah members for the 2005 truck-bomb killing of former Lebanese PM Rafiq al-Hariri to “deliver its verdict as planned on Friday” and “pressure” the Shi’a group to “surrender anyone convicted.” Roth soon deleted the tweet without explanation, posting nothing further on the gargantuan blasts that were reportedly heard as far away as Cyprus, some 150 miles from Beirut. The four Hezbollah members Roth referred to are being tried in absentia for the 2005 bombing, which left Hariri and 21 others dead and triggered massive protests culminating in Syria’s withdrawal of its longstanding military presence from Lebanon, as a UN-led probe fingered Damascus for the bombing. Hezbollah has denied any role in the assassination and has slammed the tribunal as a politically-motivated show trial masterminded by the US and Israel. Roth was far from the only one to pin the explosions on Hezbollah, though he may have been the only leader of a supposedly-neutral human rights organization to do so. A slew of pro-Israel accounts came out of the woodwork to blame the militant political party for the carnage, noting that Israeli officials have previously claimed Hezbollah uses the port of Beirut to traffic weapons and claiming the blast site was a munitions factory.

The IDF was also quick to deny involvement with the explosion, though at least one of the pro-Israel commentators allowed that the mysterious (and highly explosive) misfortunes befalling both Hezbollah and Iran in recent weeks might have something to do with Tel Aviv’s itchy trigger fingers.

Lebanese authorities have claimed the blasts were the result of an unspecified “incident” at a storage depot holding explosive materials, and both Hezbollah and Lebanese Director of General Security Maj-Gen Abbas Ibrahim denied an Israeli rocket attack was the culprit. However, SV News and a handful of other outlets published unconfirmed reports of a “missile” striking the area, citing witnesses. Hundreds of Beirut residents wounded in the explosions have been taken to nearby hospitals in what Beirut city governor Marwan Aboud called “a national disaster akin to Hiroshima.” The number of wounded victims has surpassed 3k, according to Lebanese authorities.

i’m past being scared (until the next quantum leap in imminence)

Another Hiroshima Is Coming … Unless We Stop It Now
John Pilger, Aug 3 2020

In a major essay to mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, John Pilger describes reporting from five ‘ground zeros’ for nuclear weapons, from Hiroshima to Bikini, Nevada to Polynesia and Australia. He warns that unless we take action now, China is next. When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of Aug 6 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then I walked down to the river where the survivors still lived in shanties. I met a man called Yukio, whose chest was etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped. He described a huge flash over the city, “a bluish light, something like an electrical short,” after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell.

I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead.

Nine years later, I returned to look for him and he was dead from leukaemia. On the NYT front page of Sep 13 1945, William H Lawrence wrote, in a classic of planted disinformation:

No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin. General Farrell denied categorically that it produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity.

Only one reporter, Wilfred Burchett, an Australian, had braved the perilous journey to Hiroshima in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing, in defiance of the Allied occupation authorities, which controlled the “press pack.” Burchett reported in the London Daily Express of Sep 5 1945:

I write this as a warning to the world.

Sitting in the rubble with his Baby Hermes typewriter, he described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries who were dying from what he called “an atomic plague.” For this, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared. His witness to the truth was never forgiven. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. It was justified by lies that form the bedrock of Pindostan’s war propaganda in the 21st century, casting a new enemy, and target, China. During the 75 years since Hiroshima, the most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and to save lives. The Pindo Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946 concluded:

Even without the atomic bombing attacks air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

The National Archives in Faschingstein contains documented Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by Pindostan made clear the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard.” Nothing was done. The Pindo Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the USAF would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength.” Stimson later admitted:

No effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb.

Stimson’s foreign policy colleagues, looking ahead to the post-war era they were then shaping “in our image,” as Cold War planner George Kennan famously put it, made clear they were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip.” General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the atomic bomb, testified:

There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.

The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Harry Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment.” The “experiment” continued long after the war was over. Between 1946 and 1958, Pindostan exploded 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific: the equivalent of more than one Hiroshima every day for 12 years. The human and environmental consequences were catastrophic. During the filming of my documentary, The Coming War on China, I chartered a small aircraft and flew to Bikini Atoll in the Marshalls. It was here that Pindostan exploded the world’s first Hydrogen Bomb. It remains poisoned earth. My shoes registered “unsafe” on my Geiger counter. Palm trees stood in unworldly formations. There were no birds. I trekked through the jungle to the concrete bunker where, at 6.45 on the morning of Mar 1 1954, the button was pushed. The sun, which had risen, rose again and vaporised an entire island in the lagoon, leaving a vast black hole, which from the air is a menacing spectacle: a deathly void in a place of beauty. The radioactive fall-out spread quickly and “unexpectedly.” The official history claims “the wind changed suddenly.” It was the first of many lies, as declassified documents and the victims’ testimony reveal. Gene Curbow, a meteorologist assigned to monitor the test site, said:

They knew where the radioactive fall-out was going to go. Even on the day of the shot, they still had an opportunity to evacuate people, but they were not evacuated; I was not evacuated. Pindostan needed some guinea pigs to study what the effects of radiation would do.

Like Hiroshima, the secret of the Marshall Islands was a calculated experiment on the lives of large numbers of people. This was Project 4.1, which began as a scientific study of mice and became an experiment on “human beings exposed to the radiation of a nuclear weapon.” The Marshall Islanders I met in 2015, like the survivors of Hiroshima I interviewed in the 1960s and 70s, suffered from a range of cancers, commonly thyroid cancer. Thousands had already died. Miscarriages and stillbirths were common. Those babies who lived were often deformed horribly. Unlike Bikini, nearby Rongelap atoll had not been evacuated during the H-Bomb test. Directly downwind of Bikini, Rongelap’s skies darkened and it rained what first appeared to be snowflakes. Food and water were contaminated, and the population fell victim to cancers. That is still true today. I met Nerje Joseph, who showed me a photograph of herself as a child on Rongelap. She had terrible facial burns and much of her hair was missing. She said:

We were bathing at the well on the day the bomb exploded. White dust started falling from the sky. I reached to catch the powder. We used it as soap to wash our hair. A few days later, my hair started falling out.

Lemoyo Abon said:

Some of us were in agony. Others had diarrhoea. We were terrified. We thought it must be the end of the world.

Pindo official archive film I included in my film refers to the islanders as “amenable savages.” In the wake of the explosion, a Pindo Atomic Energy Agency official is seen boasting:

This is by far the most contaminated place on earth. It will be interesting to get a measure of human uptake when people live in a contaminated environment.

Pindo scientists, including medical doctors, built distinguished careers studying the “human uptake.’ There they are in flickering film, in their white coats, attentive with their clipboards. When an islander died in his teens, his family received a sympathy card from the scientist who studied him. I have reported from five nuclear “ground zeros” throughout the world: in Japan, the Marshall Islands, Nevada, Polynesia and Maralinga in Australia. Even more than my experience as a war correspondent, this has taught me about the ruthlessness and immorality of great power: that is, imperial power, whose cynicism is the true enemy of humanity. This struck me forcibly when I filmed at Taranaki Ground Zero at Maralinga in the Australian desert. In a dish-like crater was an obelisk on which was inscribed:

A British atomic weapon was test exploded here on Oct 9 1957.

On the rim of the crater was this sign:

Radiation levels for a few hundred metres around this point may be above those considered safe for permanent occupation.

For as far as the eye could see, and beyond, the ground was irradiated. Raw plutonium lay about, scattered like talcum powder: plutonium is so dangerous to humans that a third of a milligram gives a 50% chance of cancer. The only people who might have seen the sign were Indigenous Australians, for whom there was no warning. According to an official account, if they were lucky “they were shooed off like rabbits.” Today, an unprecedented campaign of propaganda is shooing us all off like rabbits. We are not meant to question the daily torrent of anti-Chinese rhetoric, which is rapidly overtaking the torrent of anti-Russia rhetoric. Anything Chinese is bad, anathema, a threat: Wuhan. Huawei. How confusing it is when “our” most reviled leader says so. The current phase of this campaign began not with Trump but with Obama, who in 2011 flew to Australia to declare the greatest build-up of Pindo naval forces in the Asia-Pacific region since WW2. Suddenly, China was a “threat.” This was nonsense, of course. What was threatened was Pindostan’s unchallenged psychopathic view of itself as the richest, the most successful, the most “indispensable” nation. What was never in dispute was its prowess as a bully, with more than 30 members of the UN suffering Pindo sanctions of some kind and a trail of the blood running through defenceless countries bombed, their governments overthrown, their elections interfered with, their resources plundered. Obama’s declaration became known as the “pivot to Asia.” One of its principal advocates was his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who, as WikiLeaks revealed, wanted to rename the Pacific Ocean “the Pindo Sea.” Whereas Clinton never concealed her warmongering, Obama was a maestro of marketing. The new president in 2009 said:

Pindostan’s commitment is to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama increased spending on nuclear warheads faster than any president since the end of the Cold War. A “usable” nuclear weapon was developed, known as the B61 Model 12. According to General James Cartwright, former vice-chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

What going smaller does is to make the weapon more thinkable.

The target is China. Today, more than 400 Pindo military bases almost encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to South-East Asia, Japan and Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, as one Pindo strategist told me, “the perfect noose.” A study by the RAND Corporation, which, since Vietnam, has planned Pindostan’s wars, is entitled War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable. Commissioned by the Pindo Army, the authors evoke the infamous catch cry of its chief Cold War strategist, Herman Kahn: “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war. Kahn’s apocalyptic view is shared by Pompeo, an evangelical fanatic who believes in the “rapture of the End.” He is perhaps the most dangerous man alive. He boasted:

I was CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. It was like we had entire training courses.

Pompeo’s obsession is China. The endgame of Pompeo’s extremism is rarely if ever discussed in the Anglo-Pindo media, where the myths and fabrications about China are standard fare, as were the lies about Iraq. A virulent racism is the sub-text of this propaganda. Classified “yellow” even though they were white, the Chinese are the only ethnic group to have been banned by an “exclusion act” from entering Pindostan, because they were Chinese. Popular culture declared them sinister, untrustworthy, “sneaky”, depraved, diseased, immoral. An Australian magazine, The Bulletin, was devoted to promoting fear of the “yellow peril” as if all of Asia was about to fall down on the whites-only colony by the force of gravity. As the historian Martin Powers writes, acknowledging China’s modernism:

Its secular morality and contributions to liberal thought threatened European face, so it became necessary to suppress China’s role in the Enlightenment debate. For centuries, China’s threat to the myth of Western superiority has made it an easy target for race-baiting.

In the SMH, tireless China-basher Peter Hartcher described those who spread Chinese influence in Australia as “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows.” Hartcher, who favourably quotes the Pindo demagogue Steve Bannon, likes to interpret the “dreams” of the current Chinese elite, to which he is apparently privy. These are inspired by yearnings for the “Mandate of Heaven” of 2k years ago. Ad nauseam. To combat this “mandate,” the Australian government of Scott Morrison has committed one of the most secure countries on earth, whose major trading partner is China, to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Pindo missiles that can be fired at China. The trickledown is already evident. In a country historically scarred by violent racism towards Asians, Australians of Chinese descent have formed a vigilante group to protect delivery riders. Phone videos show a delivery rider punched in the face and a Chinese couple racially abused in a supermarket. Between April and June, there were almost 400 racist attacks on Asian-Australians. A high-ranking strategist in China told me:

We are not your enemy, but if you decide we are, we must prepare without delay.

China’s arsenal is small compared with Pindostan’s, but it is growing fast, especially the development of maritime missiles designed to destroy fleets of ships. Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote:

For the first time, China is discussing putting its nuclear missiles on high alert so that they can be launched quickly on warning of an attack. This would be a significant and dangerous change in Chinese policy.

In Faschingstein, I met Amitai Etzioni, distinguished professor of international affairs at George Washington University, who wrote of a “blinding attack on China, with strikes that could be mistakenly perceived as pre-emptive attempts to take out its nuclear weapons, thus cornering them into a terrible use-it-or-lose-it dilemma leading to nuclear war.” In 2019, Pindostan staged its biggest single military exercise since the Cold War, much of it in high secrecy. An armada of ships and long-range bombers rehearsed an “Air-Sea Battle Concept for China,” blocking sea lanes in the Straits of Malacca and cutting off China’s access to oil, gas and other raw materials from the Middle East and Africa. It is fear of such a blockade that has seen China develop its Belt and Road Initiative along the old Silk Road to Europe and urgently build strategic airstrips on disputed reefs and islets in the Spratly Islands. In Shanghai, I met Lijia Zhang, a Beijing journalist and novelist, typical of a new class of outspoken mavericks. Her best-selling book has the ironic title Socialism Is Great! Having grown up in the chaotic, brutal Cultural Revolution, she has travelled and lived in Pindostan & Eurostan. She said:

Many Pindos imagine that Chinese people live a miserable, repressed life with no freedom whatsoever. The yellow peril has never left them. They have no idea there are some 500m people being lifted out of poverty, and some would say it’s 600m.

Modern China’s epic achievements, its defeat of mass poverty, and the pride and contentment of its people (measured forensically by Pindo pollsters such as Pew) are wilfully unknown or misunderstood in the West. This alone is a commentary on the lamentable state of Western journalism and the abandonment of honest reporting. China’s repressive dark side and what we like to call its “authoritarianism” are the facade we are allowed to see almost exclusively. It is as if we are fed unending tales of the evil super-villain Dr Fu Manchu. And it is time we asked why: before it is too late to stop the next Hiroshima.

tsar boris’ britain heads for destruction

Lancet warns of massive resurgence of coronavirus after UK school reopening
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

A modelling study published in the Lancet, “Child And Adolescent Health,” warns that the UK’s testing and tracing for coronavirus is inadequate to prevent a “rebound” of the epidemic once schools are reopened next month. One author, Chris Bonell, professor of public health sociology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warns:

Reopening schools fully in September, alongside reopening workplaces in society, without an effective test, trace & isolate (TTI) strategy could result in a second wave of infections, 2 to 2.3 times the size of the original wave.

The study modelled an “optimistic” scenario, assuming 68% of contacts of people testing positive could be traced, in which “an epidemic rebound might be prevented.” However, the current level of coverage is closer to the study’s “worst case” scenario, which assumed only 40% were traced. Bonell explains:

Looking at the NHS reports from the TTI system, it looks like it’s about 50% coverage.

Without an improvement, the government is “likely to induce a second wave that would peak in Dec 2020 if schools open full-time in September.” This warning comes as a resurgence of the virus is already underway. According to the Office for National Statistics, 4.2k people are being infected with coronavirus every day, up from 3.2k the week before and 2.5k the week before that. But the government’s response to the Lancet study has made clear its determination to reopen the economy in the interests of big business, whatever the cost to the population. Simon Clarke, minister for local government, told Sky News:

One thing is clear: schools are going to reopen in full in the autumn. That is not up for debate.

He described the NHS TTI system as a “massive success.” On Saturday, the government’s modelling expert Professor Graham Medley suggested that pubs and restaurants might have to be closed as a “trade-off” to allow schools to reopen. He said:

Closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities, may well be required to enable us to open schools. It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other, and then that’s a matter of prioritising: do we think pubs are more important than schools?

Even this entirely misguided “trade-off” was rejected. After PM Boris Johnson’s spox played down Medley’s suggestion, the Guardian reported:

English pubs are likely to be spare any new restrictions. We are committed to supporting the hospitality industry, which has had a very tough time.

Last week, Johnson met with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to discuss ways of avoiding a second UK lockdown in the event of a resurgence of the virus later this year. Their overwhelming concern is to maintain the flow of corporate profits. This precludes any serious public health measures, leaving only piecemeal interventions which cause serious distress to working-class households while doing nothing to substantially address the threat of the virus. These sociopathic priorities led to the absurd situation last week when several million people in the north-west of England and Leicester were placed under additional public health restrictions at less than an hour’s notice, and mandatory mask wearing was extended, just one day before more than 2m medically vulnerable people were told to stop shielding and return to work if ordered to. As millions of people were prevented from visiting the gardens of their relatives, they were encouraged, along with the rest of the nation, to “Eat Out to Help Out” in pubs and restaurants. The slogan refers to a government scheme subsidising 50% of the cost of food and participating cafes and restaurants, up to £10 per head, for three days a week. Several pubs across the country have already been responsible for clusters of COVID-19 cases.

Britons also continue to be encouraged to travel for their holidays, yesterday EasyJet reported it was increasing its number of flights above expectations to cope with increased demand, even as countries like Spain and Luxemburg are suddenly removed from quarantine exemptions, Greek flights are cancelled, and French and German authorities warn of a second wave. The new laws on wearing masks, which will not be properly enforced, follow months in which the government cast doubt on their effectiveness. According to a survey of 70k people by University College London, just 45% of adults in England feel they understand current government guidelines, compared to 90% in March, during the period of stricter lockdown. The danger is that this confusion, combined with the government and media’s relentless boosterism and lying complacency, will dull popular consciousness of the danger posed by the pandemic, facilitating the spread of the disease. Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior consultant in Communicable Disease Control at the University of Exeter, told the Independent last week:

When the prime minister lifted lockdown, I said it was unbelievably premature. There were mixed messages. That public health message of ‘go carefully’ just isn’t there.

Dr Gabriel Scally, President of the Epidemiology and Public Health section of the Royal Society of Medicine and member of Independent SAGE, explained:

If there are too many local flare-ups of the virus, the capacity at a local level won’t be able to deal with them and they will emerge as a wave.

A major resurgence of the epidemic will bring tens and possibly hundreds of thousands more deaths. The longer the virus is left uncontrolled, the more damage will be done by the ongoing disruption of people’s lives. The Tory government’s cynical invocation of children’s welfare notwithstanding, it is undoubtedly the case that world capitalism’s shambolic response to the pandemic, necessitating the long-term closure of schools and other services, has caused a “generational catastrophe” for young children, in the words of the WHO. The ruling class know that they are sitting on a ticking time-bomb of unrest and are reaching for a military & police solution. A “major incident” has now been declared in Manchester, giving local police a freer hand to deploy national resources. Early in July, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) heard a report, “Public Disorder and Public Health: Contemporary Threats and Risks.” Using the threat of “disorder facilitating the spread of the disease” as a cipher for mass social opposition, the report states:

There has been a step-change in threat levels since the last sustained period of serious rioting in the UK in 2011. The police are in a far weaker position in terms of capacity. They would be likely to require military support.

Among the risks it foresees over the coming months are:

  1. The beginning of protests planned during the lockdown, including anarchist and anti-capitalist groups seeking to frustrate a ‘return to normality,’ and
  2. Rising unemployment and/or anxiety about employment as furlough is wound down.

On Jul 22, Lt-Gen Douglas Chalmers, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Military Strategy and Operations), told the House of Lords’ Public Services Committee that the military was wargaming scenarios for a four-way winter crisis of a coronavirus resurgence, winter flu spike, Brexit disruption, and national flooding. This is a development of the “Operation Yellowhammer” strategy formulated last year to suppress discontent, supposedly in the wake of a hard Brexit. Once again it proceeds with the full support of Labour and other “opposition” parties. The British ruling class are in an unprecedented state of crisis, which they hope to escape through an equally unprecedented exploitation and endangering of the working class, enforced by military-police repression. The working class must respond with their own perspective and programme, based on an international struggle for socialism, for the eradication of the virus and the safeguarding of all jobs, wages and social services.

UK teachers’ pay award: A shoddy deal for all
Tom Pearce, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

The Conservative government is hailing as a major advance Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a pay-rise for teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The offer is divisive and paltry. It will not be funded by the government, but out of already chronically under-funded school budgets. The deal is being sold as a “generous offer,” aimed at resolving the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, but does not come close to resolving the strains of a sector on its knees. Only newly-qualified teachers will get the headline 5.5% pay rise, with more experienced teachers being offered 2.75%, equating to a measly 3.1% increase overall. When inflation is factored in, schools are left where they were 13 years ago. Young people are being enticed into a profession at breaking point. The statistics are stark. There was a 4.6% increase in teacher vacancies last year, with almost 1.3k more vacancies advertised by schools in 2018-2019 than in 2017-2018. The Dept for Education (DfE) reported:

Almost a third of teachers leave the classroom within five years of qualifying.

The overall number of teachers has not kept pace with increasing pupil numbers, and the ratio of pupils to qualified teachers has increased from 17.8 in 2011 to 18.9. According to the House of Commons Library:

Around 42k full-time equivalent qualified teachers left the state-funded sector in the 12 months to Nov 2018, a “wastage rate” of 9.8%. The wastage rate has ranged from 9.1% (2012) to 10.3% (2015) since the current series started in 2011. 32.3% of newly-qualified entrants in 2016 were not recorded as working in the state sector five years later. This is the highest five-year wastage rate on the current series, which dates back to 1997. Overall pupil numbers are expected to continue rising, driven by a projected 15% increase in the number of secondary school pupils between 2018 and 2024.

The environment that newly-qualified teachers will find is one of constant surveillance and pressure. UK teachers work 47 hours a week on average, according to a study by the UCL Institute of Education. A third of teachers work over 60 hours a week and during the “holidays.” These long hours are unsustainable and a major reason why teachers are fleeing the profession. Since 2014, teachers have had to deal with performance-related pay. This has been used to cap teacher pay, as schools are now allowed to award increases or not at their own discretion. The 2.75% pay rise sanctioned by the DfE for 2019-20 was not implemented across all schools. The National Education Union surveyed their members and found that out of 25k responses, only 49% received the pay award. Overseen by the unions, workers have experienced pay freezes and cuts in pay for over a decade. This amounts to a 15% loss of income over the last 15 years for workers in education. The new pay deal does not come close to addressing this shortfall.

A decade of underfunding and budget cuts has seen school funding cut by 8% in real terms in the last decade, and sixth-form funding by 21%. In the last three years alone, £5.4b has been lost from school budgets, affecting 91% of schools in England. Headteachers have had to make desperate decisions about staffing redundancies and curriculum provision to balance their budgets. Schools now rely more and more on teachers and parents to plug deficits due to crippling budget cuts. The pay deal will add to financial difficulties as schools will have to find the money themselves at a time when the funding situation is exacerbated by the costs of COVID-19. Schools are having to buy signage and cleaning resources out of existing budgets. In Sep 2019, £7.1b was promised to schools over three years. The government has also promised a £1b catch-up plan for children affected by the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. £650m will be shared across state primary and secondary schools and a £350m National Tutoring Programme is being set up. This is paltry compared to the hundreds of billions in bailout funds handed to big business.

The unsafe reopening of schools in September will elevate the crisis. That many older teachers will retire early, concerned about the impact of the pandemic on their health, is also a factor in the carrot of enhanced payments for new starts. The stick will follow the carrot. The stress levels involved in attempting to teach while keeping “bubbles” of up to 240 children and themselves safe with no protective measures, such as social distancing and masks, will weigh heavily on the mental health of staff. The teaching unions are not opposing the unsafe opening of schools, and have refused to mobilise the broad-based opposition among staff. They welcomed the government’s empty promises for newly-qualified teachers, saying they were merely “disappointed” that the deal did not reward experienced staff. The National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said:

Whilst this announcement recognises the importance of pay levels in making teaching more attractive to new teachers, the Government also needs to do more to retain experienced teachers in the profession.

Making no reference to how schools would find the money for such a raise, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, referred to the government’s move as a “curate’s egg,” saying:

Raising starting salaries by 5.5% should make the profession more attractive to graduates. But the prospect of salaries tapering off as they progress through the profession means that progress made in recruiting teachers will not be sustained in retaining them.

The NEU, after only asking for a 7% pay rise for all teachers in their own ineffectual campaign and having again been ignored by the government, responded by glorifying the pay deal for new starts! This is consistent with their response to the coronavirus crisis, to demand the government incorporate them in their decision-making as the best-placed institutions for imposing the government’s pro-business agenda. The NEU called yet again “to establish, in consultation with the teacher unions, a timetable for further above-inflation teacher pay increases beyond 2020.” It then lists, without irony, the major defeats teachers have experienced under the watch of the unions in the last decade:

The dismantling of the national pay structure, imposition of PRP and real-terms funding cuts have resulted in many teachers not getting the cost-of-living increases announced in previous years.

The pandemic will only intensify the attacks of recent years. The billions handed out by Sunak to big business will be clawed back from the working class. Teachers need new rank-and-file organisations based on unifying workers in a struggle against the profit system, as the only way to secure a decent education for children and good working conditions for staff.

a tasty story of intrigue & graft

Fiat Chrysler bribed UAW with tens of millions, new GM court filing alleges
Tom Hall, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

UAW Vice Presidents Joe Ashton, Jimmy Settles, Cindy Estrada and General Holiefield
stand with President Bob King and Secretary Treasurer Dennis Williams after their
election in Detroit, Wednesday Jun 16 2010. (Photo: Carlos Osorio/AP)

Fiat Chrysler gave United Auto Workers officials tens of millions of dollars in previously unreported bribes, funneled through offshore bank accounts, to secure the union’s involvement in a bid to undermine and force a merger with General Motors, according to court filings submitted by lawyers for GM on Monday. The new accusations are part of GM’s bid to reopen its lawsuit against FCA alleging that its Italian-based rival used bribes to convert the union into an “FCA-controlled enterprise.” The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge last month, who noted “the direct victims of defendants’ alleged bribery scheme are FCA’s workers,” not GM. The new court filings contain by far the largest-scale accusations against the UAW, either in GM’s civil suit or in the parallel criminal probe by the FBI, which has already brought down 14 FCA management and UAW officials. The “hush money,” according to GM, ran into the tens of millions, “exponentially higher” than what had been revealed so far in criminal charges against union officials and FCA executives. While in its original complaint GM was at pains to insist that it was targeting only FCA and not the UAW, the new filing takes a far more aggressive stance against the auto union. Former UAW President Dennis Williams is now officially named as a defendant in the case. GM lawyers claim that Williams maneuvered former UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who has already pleaded guilty to separate money laundering and wire fraud charges, onto GM’s Board of Directors in order to function as a “mole” for FCA.

The filing also contains the first public allegations against Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president from 2002 to 2010, who led the UAW during the restructuring of the auto industry under Obama. It was under the terms of this deal, which slashed wages for new hires in half and destroyed tens of thousands of jobs, that the UAW gained billions of dollars in GM stock and a seat on the company’s board. According to the filing, Gettelfinger maintained overseas accounts in Switzerland and Panama, given to him by FCA, under a family member’s name. The allegations mean that four of the five most recent presidents of the United Auto Workers have now been implicated in the massive corruption scandal. Gary Jones, who was president from 2018 until forced to step down late last year, has already pleaded guilty to charges that he had conspired with other top boxtops to embezzle over $1m in workers’ dues money. Jones’ predecessor Williams is an unnamed co-conspirator in the Jones indictment, and his successor Rory Gamble, who replaced him on an interim basis, is reportedly himself the target of federal investigators.

The elaborate and wide-ranging scheme, dubbed “Kickback City,” involved offshore bank accounts in Italy, Switzerland, Panama, Singapore, Lichtenstein and the Cayman Islands. It was authorized by the late FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne and other top executives, according to the filing. In addition to Williams and Ashton it also involved UAW Vice President for Fiat Chrysler General Holiefield, who only escaped prosecution because of his death in 2015. The aim of the scheme, GM’s lawyers allege, was to provide FCA with “confidential details about GM’s labor strategy,” aimed at imposing labor costs onto General Motors less favorable than those at Fiat Chrysler and to pressure the GM into a merger. According to GM, former FCA executive Alphons Iacobelli, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to his role in bribing top UAW officials to obtain concessions in the 2009 and 2015 contracts, “curtailed his criminal plea to ensure that the true scope of the conspiracy was not revealed.” Iacobelli continued to cover up for other FCA executives and UAW officials even after his guilty plea, GM alleges.

While there is no reason to doubt the factual basis of the filing, it has the character of a desperate move by GM, one which suggests an increasingly fractious and embittered climate within corporate boardrooms as companies battle for survival in an economic situation fraught with dire perils. While automakers had already been preparing for a long downturn even before the coronavirus pandemic, all three Detroit automakers posted huge losses in the second quarter due to a collapse in sales and a two-month cessation of production that was forced by a series of wildcat strikes. GM burned through nearly $8b in cash and posted a $806m loss as sales dropped by roughly one-third. At Ford, where shareholders have long been demanding deeper cuts, CEO Jim Hackett announced his retirement only days after the company posted a $1.9b loss. Prior to Monday’s filing, there were growing signs that the government was preparing to wind down the exposures of UAW corruption out of fear that continuing to air the union’s dirty laundry would serve to further encourage rebellion by autoworkers. But GM’s new filing, which was based on extensive work by private investigators conducted after the original suit was dismissed last month, threatens to utterly discredit the UAW and put paid to any claims the union can be reformed. Paul Borman, the federal judge in the GM-FCA lawsuit, issued an extraordinary and nervous order in June demanding the two companies meet to settle their dispute out of court. Borman said:

If this case goes forward, there will be years of contentious litigation, while the pandemic emergency requires our attention here and now!

When lawyers for GM balked, Judge Borman dismissed the lawsuit on Jul 8. At the same time, federal prosecutors began a series of meetings with UAW President Gamble to hammer out an agreement that would close the federal probe and keep the union out of federal receivership. It is not clear whether the court will accept GM’s arguments and if the suit will be reopened. However, if there is any truth to the company’s allegations, it should serve as the final nail in the coffin for any lingering doubts as to whether the UAW remains, in spite of rampant and universal corruption, a “workers’ organization.” The filing’s description of a murky underworld of offshore bank accounts and corporate espionage depict an organization which is completely integrated within the orbit of the financial elite, and correctly seen by the auto companies themselves not as an adversary but as a tool of corporate policy-making. It is the outcome of decades of betrayals by the UAW, which have destroyed hundreds of thousands of jobs while the incomes of top union officials have soared along with the rising stock market.

For autoworkers, had the alleged FCA-UAW scheme to force a merger with GM succeeded, it would have produced even greater disasters than that which have already been inflicted through union-brokered concessions. The ultimate purpose of such a merger would have been to close down countless facilities and lay off tens of thousands of workers as “redundant,” a goal that the late Marchionne frequently declared in public. But for the UAW, the tens of millions in bribes would have been only a down payment for the billions in stock and other financial incentives that it could have expected to reap as a reward for brokering such a deal. Such filthy dealings demonstrate the urgency of the call by the WSWS and the SEP for the building of new organizations by workers, entirely independent of the UAW gangsters. Absolutely nothing associated with this organization can be trusted. The latest revelations show, once again, that autoworkers must break with the UAW and take the initiative into their own hands. The World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter is helping workers accomplish this by forming rank-and-file safety committees at workplaces throughout the country. For help forming a committee at your plant, contact us at

slaves of nazi pindostan, stop kidding yourselves

House Speaker Pelosi signals readiness to cut unemployment benefits
Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in an interview on PBS NewsHour Tuesday signaled the Demagog Party’s willingness to reduce benefits for the nearly 30m Pindo jobless workers who had been receiving $600/wk in enhanced federal unemployment pay. The jobless benefit, part of the CARES Act, which allocated trillions for the corporations and banks, expired this past week. The federal benefit, along with a moratorium on rental evictions from properties with federally backed mortgages, was allowed to lapse at the end of July, leaving millions in the lurch. Shortly before the expiration of the federal unemployment benefit, the House of Representatives, in a near party-line vote, passed a $694.6b defense appropriations bill for 2021. The bill, overwhelmingly supported by the Demagog Party, included funding for 91 F-35 fighter jets ($9.3b) and nine new Navy ships ($22.3b). Added together, the cost of these 100 pieces of military hardware could provide supplemental jobless benefits for 30m people for nearly two weeks. While both parties worked around the clock for the financial oligarchy and their cratering stock portfolios by passing the CARES Act in late March, now that Wall Street has been rescued, the two big business parties are taking their time in working out the terms for imposing the full brunt on the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic on the backs of the working class. Throughout the PBS interview, Pelosi, with an estimated net worth of $120m, portrayed herself and the Demagog Party as champions of working people. However, when gently pressed by the news anchor, Judy Woodruff, the House speaker signaled the corporate financial elite that the Demagogs were prepared to cut the already inadequate $600/wk benefit, saying:

Let’s find out what we can afford. We will find our common ground.

Mnuchin and Meadows have been meeting daily behind closed doors with Schumer and Pelosi. While the Demagog negotiators have claimed “progress” in the talks, the White House representatives, who had proposed cutting the unemployment supplement to $200/wk, have said the two sides remain far apart. All parties are seeking to pass a new bill that would provide reduced benefits, using the prospect of hunger and homelessness to blackmail workers into returning to virus-infected work sites or take other work at lower pay when their previous jobs have been eliminated. At the end of the interview, Pelosi made clear that the goal of the Demagogs was the same as the Thugs: “reopening” the economy (resuming at full blast the flow of corporate profit) by forcing teachers and students back to school so as to allow “our parents to go to work.” For his part, Trump threatened in a Tuesday press conference to issue an executive order to suspend the payroll tax, the primary source of funding for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He also took the opportunity to lash out against China, claiming that the looming wave of evictions in Pindostan was “China’s fault.” The WSWS spoke to unemployed workers about the consequences of a cutoff or reduction in the federal unemployment supplement. April, a cook from rural northern Illinois, said:

The $600/wk added bonus really did help. We could not have survived without it. It made me realize that everyone needs to be making a basic amount to live and thrive. I was actually getting slightly more with the added money than I was with my paycheck before being unemployed, only because my pay was so low. Now that the benefit is gone, I am still unemployed and my partner now makes way less than he did previously. I went from working one job. Now I can’t find full-time work. I’ll have to work two or three jobs just to get by. And then my partner started a new job and was denied Medicaid because he makes $3/hr too much. He makes $11/hr. We have a little saved up. I hope to stay in my apartment and be able to take care of the necessities, but if I don’t find work before then, I am not sure what we will do once September arrives. I am constantly oscillating between being angry and scared. Everything is so unequal. You have millionaires and billionaires and then you have the rest of us just trying to get by.

A cashier from Virginia who was forced to return to work after the state failed to process her unemployment claim told the WSWS:

I was a cashier, now I am a personal shopper. I applied for unemployment benefits back in April. The benefits never were approved. I had panic attacks fearing for my safety. Luckily for me, my family and girlfriend, who was able to get the expanded benefits, were able to help me with rent throughout the last few months. If it wasn’t for them, I’d have been working throughout this entire pandemic. Two weeks ago, the last bit of money I received from the $1.2k check Trump sent ran out and I was forced to return to work. I’m not sure if I have a compromised immune system, but I had open heart surgery, so I’m worried if I catch this disease. My parents are elderly. I see people in my state socializing and not wearing masks. I’m definitely scared. The fact that I didn’t get any benefits throughout the entire pandemic has really hurt me financially. My girlfriend and I had plans to move into a house together, but that isn’t going to happen now for a long time. This order to get back to work is really tough on people. We’re being forced to take high risks with our health in the middle of a health-care crisis. If someone in the Pindo government had actually done something to help people before this pandemic happened, we wouldn’t be in this situation now.

Bernie Sanders and the incredible shrinking “political revolution”
Genevieve Leigh, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

In late July, former Demagog presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, along with 14 other Demagog congress-critturs, introduced legislation calling for Pindostan to increase the production of masks and distribute them to all Pindos at no cost. The legislation is called “Masks-for-All,” a play off of Sanders’ former proposal of Medicare-for-All. Yesterday, Sanders penned an op-ed in Pindostan Today advertising his bill. In it, he declares:

Coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control. Our solution: Masks for All. It’s a tragedy, and embarrassing, that Pindostan is practically the only major country where the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening by the day. If we are to have any hope of turning this economy around, opening schools safely, and preventing countless more deaths, we must first get this virus under control.

His plan to combat the pandemic is to provide masks for everyone. A number of points should be made in relation to Sanders’ proposal:

  1. There is no doubt that under conditions of a raging global pandemic, every worker in Pindostan and internationally should have access to high-quality masks, at no cost. The productive forces that are needed to carry out such a minor endeavor certainly exist within capitalist society. Providing masks to the population is only the most basic measure that is required to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers and youth. As scientists and health experts have been declaring for months, combatting the pandemic requires the implementation of a whole series of measures: extensive contact-tracing, the production of PPE for hospitals, and universal access to quick-response testing to name just a few. Furthermore, essential workers must be provided with the necessary equipment and training needed in order to carry out their work safely. In any rational (socialist) society, non-essential workers would not be permitted back to work until the pandemic was well under control and even then only with the most advanced and extensive protective and preventative measures in place. Workers would have the assurance that they would have access to free high-quality care if they or a loved one did end up falling ill with the virus. Nothing of the sort is on the agenda. In fact, the completely decrepit character of the capitalist system is perhaps most sharply expressed in the fact that even Sanders’ most pathetic appeal for “masks for all” will more than likely not even make it into the next relief bill.
  2. It is notable that Sanders makes only one reference to the homicidal back-to-work campaign being carried out by Demagogs & Thugs alike. He explains briefly that by one estimate: “widespread use of masks could be worth up to a trillion dollars to our economy by preventing shutdowns and getting people back to work earlier.” This statement is revealing. It exposes the real aim of Sanders’ “masks for all” initiative: to provide a thinly veiled cover for “progressive” politicians like himself to openly support the campaign to force workers back to plants and factories, and students back to school while the pandemic rages unabated. As he says himself, “getting people back to work earlier” will “save trillions.” He leaves out, of course, that the trillions will go to further lining the pockets of the ultra-rich.
  3. Third, Sanders makes no mention of the criminal role he himself has played in the creation of the current crisis. Sanders was an enthusiastic supporter of the bipartisan CARES Act signed by President Trump in late March, which funneled trillions of dollars to Wall Street and Corporate Pindostan. In fact, prior to voting “yes” on the $2.2t packages, Sanders took to the Senate floor to hail the bill as a boon to workers. Once the legislation passed, the focus in the media and the political establishment more broadly began to shift toward an aggressive campaign for a return to work. The massive increase in fictitious capital that has been added to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet as a result of the CARES Act is, in the final analysis, a claim on real value that must be satisfied through the massive exploitation of the working class. The Pindo Congress is now deliberately blackmailing workers with the specter of poverty, homelessness, and starvation to force workers back into dangerous factories and workplaces. As Sanders himself notes in his op-ed, this campaign is taking place under conditions in which the pandemic is raging out of control in Pindostan.

Sanders writes:

Coronavirus has killed 150k Pindos. States like California, Texas and Florida are registering their highest daily death tolls ever. The economic horrors of this pandemic are also escalating, as our GDP plunges by an annual rate of nearly 33% and $600/wk unemployment benefits expired for 30m workers.

What Sanders describes is only the tip of the iceberg. Last week, food insecurity reached its highest reported level since May, with 30m Pindos reporting they had not had enough to eat at some point in the prior seven days. More than a third of the 44m total Pindo renter households who live in buildings with mortgages backed by the federal government are at risk of eviction. And the number of workers claiming continuing unemployment benefits rose from 16.1m to a staggering 17m for the week ending Jul 18. Pindostan is in the midst of a health, economic, political and social crisis on a scale never seen before, and it is escalating daily. Under such conditions, Sanders’ proposal amounts to less than a Band-Aid for a bullet wound. Sanders’ proposal could be described in many ways: “inept”, “callous”, “pathetic,” all would be fitting and appropriate. However, the most accurate and instructive description might instead be “predictable.” As the WSWS wrote in Feb 2016:

Sanders aims not to create a ‘revolution,’ as he asserts in his campaign speeches, but to prevent one.

Sanders’ calls for a “political revolution” have given way to ever further shifts to the right, abandoning even the pretense of fighting for mild liberal reforms. After announcing that he was dropping out of the presidential race just as coronavirus cases in Pindostan were reaching their first peak and hospitals were being overwhelmed, he endorsed Joe Biden, telling all of his supporters to give it their all for “his good friend Joe.” His capitulation to Biden was followed by an interview with the AP in which he slandered as “ irresponsible ” any of his supporters who failed to campaign for Biden. In response to massive multi-racial and multi-ethnic protests against police brutality across Pindostan and around the world, Sanders was silent. When he did finally address the situation, he called for police officers to receive a pay raise. He mustered only a few mildly-worded tweets regarding Trump’s attempt to carry out a coup that would involve the mobilization of active duty troops to put down the protests and establish a presidential dictatorship. Now, as class antagonisms are reaching a fever pitch, Sanders is doing everything in his power to obscure the class character of society. In the final lines of his Pindostan Today op-ed, Sanders repeats his own version of the worn-out slogan of the ruling class: that “we are all in this together.” He wrote:

In this unprecedented moment in Pindo history we need to come together, government and private sector, manufacturers and workers, scientists, and ordinary citizens, to combat this horrific pandemic.

Nothing could be further from the truth. While tens of millions face hunger, homelessness, and destitution, the upper echelons of society have never had it so good. Pindo billionaires, whose wealth increased by 80.6% between 2010 and 2020, are seeing another windfall, with another 20% increase, a rise of at least $565b, since the pandemic began. The world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has seen his net worth rise $74b since the beginning of 2020 to an estimated $189.3b. Workers and young people have to draw the necessary lessons from the Sanders experience. It is not, at its root, a question of proving the bankruptcy of Sanders as an individual, but more fundamentally the bankruptcy of the political perspective he represents: that of reformism. The capitalist system cannot be reformed. The current political situation within Pindostan and around the world is dire. The lives and livelihoods of millions of workers are at stake. The only way forward for the working class is on the basis of a genuinely revolutionary policy, not a “political revolution” to promote the Demagog Party, but a socialist revolution to overthrow capitalism.

Tropical Storm Isaias causes flooding and power outages across the Pindo east coast
Aaron Murch, WSWS, Aug 8 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias continues to wreak havoc on the Canadian Maritimes with high winds and heavy rain after crashing ashore Monday in North Carolina as a Category 1 Hurricane and moving along the Pindo east coast and into New England Tuesday. The storm is historically significant for its unusual speed. CNN meteorologist Chad Meyers reported that this fast-moving storm means it will take longer to weaken as it moves across vast distances along the Atlantic coast. According to Meyers, this means tornados that drop quickly and cause great devastation in brief periods of time with little warning, often less than 20 minutes. More than a dozen tornadoes were spawned across the mid-Atlantic. Two people in North Carolina were killed Tuesday when a tornado caused by the storm struck a mobile home park in the town of Windsor, at least twelve people were hospitalized. One resident caught in a tornado in North Carolina told CNN reporters about the moment it struck. Desaree Pike said:

We didn’t have a lot of time to react once it finally hit. I mean, it hit all at once. For lack of a better word, it was hell. You don’t really think about anything else but just holding the kids and hoping it doesn’t tear the house up.

The tropical storm caused flooding and power outrages along the coast. From North Carolina and up along the northeastern states, 3m people were without power on Tuesday night according to The historic storm surge caused massive flooding in the Cherry Gove neighborhood of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, resulting in street closures and several drivers needing rescue as vehicles became overwhelmed by flood waters. Wind gusts up to 90 mph were reported across the Carolinas, causing massive property damage and dangerous amounts of debris. Trees blowed down and crashed into homes and streets caused severe property damage in the New England area and even New York City reported wind bursts of 70 mph. All along the storm’s path, rainfall has caused flooding on average of 6″ across the east coast and as of Tuesday evening the storm was projected to continue its path up into Canada. Collapsed and flooded homes pose grave danger for millions of residents along the coast. Along with flooding, several housefires were reported in beach communities in North Carolina. On Monday, Oak Island Water Rescue, a volunteer emergency response team, posted on Facebook:

Tonight the Brunswick County beaches suffered a direct hit from Hurricane Isaias. County wide and on Oak Island, there were numerous calls for water rescues, structural fires, structural collapses, and people trapped in houses that were flooding. Storm surge has caused significant damage as has the wind and tornados. The beach front roads were impassable due to high water on much of the island.

Pictures of flooded neighborhoods and streets turned into rivers have spread across several social media platforms on Monday and Tuesday as thousands of affected residents are forced to look to community aid and charity to clean up debris and rebuild destroyed homes in an environment made increasingly dangerous by the coronavirus pandemic. The storm is certain to have an exacerbating effect in areas already ravaged by COVID-19, with thousands forced to evacuate their homes and seek safety with family, friends or in emergency shelters where social distancing measures are nearly impossible. Massive population centers in the Northeast have seen surges in coronavirus cases in recent weeks and nationwide unemployment benefits have dried up causing an imminent eviction crisis in millions of poor and working-class communities. Already there are over 10k eviction cases on file in North Carolina courts. Some 43% of the renters in North Carolina are expected to face eviction or otherwise be unable to pay rent by the end of the month. As thousands are now dealing with storm and tornado damage these numbers are in danger of rising drastically. In North Carolina alone, more than 1.2m workers have filed for unemployment since the beginning of the outbreaks, workers who are now faced with losing their benefits just as the virus is surging in cases amid back to work campaigns pushed by both Demagog & Thug politicians locally and nationally. On Tuesday, over 2,117 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the state along with 26 new deaths. Residents in the affected communities in North Carolina expressed to reporters their dismay at the fight which will be required to gain access to a limited amount of disaster aid. On Tuesday morning Holden Beach resident Jessi Viox told CNN reporters:

Getting ready for Round 2. The eye has moved around us, and now here comes the back end.

Pindo teachers defy threats to cut funding for schools that delay in-person learning
Phyllis Steele, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

image600 Utah teachers and supporters protested Tuesday
(Source: Granite Education Association)

Facing popular outrage over the reckless rush to reopen schools, several large districts, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston and Miami-Dade, Florida, have been forced to start the school year with online learning only. As of July 29, Education Week reported, 20 of the 29 school districts with more than 100k students will reopen with remote learning only. Four of the largest districts, however, including NYC (1.1m students), Chicago (360k students), Hawaii (181k students) and Duval County, Florida (130k students), will require teachers and students to attend school for at least part of the week under a so-called “hybrid/partial” model, which also includes some remote learning. Five large districts, Education Week reported, will hold a full in-person reopening available for all students. These include three in Florida — Hillsborough County (220k), Polk County (101k), Pinellas County (101k) — and two in Texas — Dallas (155k) and Cypress-Fairbanks (116.5k). Millions of students are being sent back to school in medium and smaller districts across Pindostan, even though the numbers of COVID-19 cases are higher in many states across the country than they were when schools were forced to close in mid-March. While politicians from both parties profess concern about the academic and psychological impact of keeping schools closed, their chief concern is getting children out of their homes so their parents can be forced back into factories, warehouses and other workplaces to resume making profits.

Over the next week, several districts in Tennessee, Arizona, California, Florida, Nebraska, Mississippi and Utah will open with full in-person learning. At least nine cases have already been confirmed in Indiana’s schools, which opened last week, and in Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest district in Georgia, 260 school workers have been quarantined after testing positive or being exposed to someone who had. Protests against the unsafe openings continue to spread across the country. On Tuesday, teachers in Granite School District in Salt Lake City, Utah protested. Around 67k students are scheduled to return on August 24 for full in-school learning. About 100 teachers and parents in Columbia, Missouri also protested outside of the school board meeting Tuesday night in an event promoted on Facebook called “Not until it’s safe.” Summing up the opposition by teachers, Mike, a high school teacher in central Michigan told WSWS:

The reason why they are giving each district their individual choice when and how to reopen is that if they mandated that all schools across country go back, it would ignite a huge general strike. They are trying to preempt a strike by placing onus on districts. This whole thing is from Betsy Devos’ playbook. She is the personification of all that’s wrong with education. DeVos and her husband are looking at this as a crisis to be exploited, to advance their campaign for school privatization.

As opposition continues to grow, the Trump administration, Congressional Thugs and various Thug-controlled state legislatures are threatening to reduce or cut funding to schools that do not reopen for in-person instruction. The Senate version of the new stimulus package, dubbed the HEALS Act (Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act), commits two-thirds of the proposed $70b in federal school funding only to those schools that reopen for in-person instruction for at least half of their students for half of the week. Schools, along with universities, hospitals and other corporations, would also be granted a five-year waiver that prevents them from being sued for any illness or death related to COVID-19. In Florida, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an order that says by Aug 24, all 67 districts must open bricks and mortar schools at least five days a week for all students. Schools that do not receive state approval for their reopening plans will not be fully funded, the order threatens.

In Texas, another hotspot for the virus, local health departments can close schools if there is an outbreak. However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled that closing schools as a preventive measure, as they did in March, would be against the law. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath warned that district superintendents must offer a semester of in-person learning for high school students after no more than eight weeks of online learning, otherwise districts would forfeit their state funding. At the same time, the superintendents were mandated to implement in-person learning for elementary and middle school students, not hybrid options, or face funding cuts. Several other states, including Arizona, Indiana, South Carolina and Michigan, are threatening to use the financial stick to force cash-strapped schools to reopen. In Michigan, the Republican-controlled state legislature is trying to blackmail teachers to return to the classrooms otherwise their jobs will be given to private interests, including “pods,” where parents who can afford them hire teachers to provide private education to small groups of children, along with online charters, private and parochial schools.

Michigan House Bills 5910 and 5913, called the “Return to Learn” bills, would outsource the jobs of teachers and other instructional staff to non-certified instructors and for-profit companies to replace experienced educators. They would also create a voucher-style system that funnels public school money to parents who send their children to several e-learning providers during the day. The bills would also require benchmark testing three times over the next school year, which will be used to further punish public school districts grappling with already inadequate funding and the public health crisis. In Detroit, the state’s largest school district, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti threatened in a town hall meeting last month that if the district does not offer face-to-face instruction in the fall, it risks losing students to charter schools or suburban districts that do. Vitti also boasted that the school district had received a sharp increase in applications for new teaching positions, an explicit threat to older, higher-paid teachers, many of whom fear returning to the classroom out of health concerns.

The Demagogs have postured as opponents of Thug efforts to use the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis to accelerate school privatization. But the Congressional Demagogs’ federal legislation, dubbed the HEROES Act, would also leave school districts underfunded, forcing them to slash jobs and programs. Under the eight years of the Obama-Biden administration, the economic fallout of the 2008-09 financial crisis was used by the White House to vastly expand charter schools and slash teachers’ jobs and pay. The back-to-school campaign is being enthusiastically supported by Demagog governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo, California’s Gavin Newsom and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer. As opposed to the Thugs, however, the Dems have more closely coordinated the campaign to reopen the schools with the teacher unions, the National Education Association and the Pindo Federation of Teachers, which have spent the last two years desperately trying to prevent the wave of teacher strikes demanding improved school funding, wages and working conditions, from coalescing into a nation-wide strike against both corporate-controlled parties.

Once again, the unions are seeking to divide educators by state and district and prevent a general strike against the homicidal plan to open the schools. That is why teachers, school employees, parents and students must take the initiative in their own hands, through the formation of rank-and-file committees, independent of the unions, in every school and neighborhood. These committees should prepare for a nationwide strike of educators and fight for the broadest support from every section of the working class. Mike, the Michigan teacher, said there was no safe way to reopen schools during the pandemic. He said:

I support a nationwide strike if there is a massive endangering of students’ and teachers’ lives. Say we go from 30 to 15 students and social distance? What about air circulation? No one’s talking about airflow and filtration in schools. But science says this is best for keeping spread of COVID down. Filtration systems are going to cost billions of dollars. I am in the middle of a high school that sits on cinder blocks. The structure of most school buildings is not conducive to having good airflow. I know my high school students, and they are social creatures by nature. Social distancing will not be happening all of the time. Also, who is enforcing it? Not me! How will I teach? Then what is going to happen when they say, hey! We’ve run out of money! It’s about money. As long as it’s coming, things will be fine. When money runs out, that is when people will stop playing nice.

New York educators oppose city and state school reopening plans
Sandy English, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

On Monday, hundreds of NYC teachers, parents and students marched to the city’s Dept of Ed headquarters in lower Manhattan to protest Demagog Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to open public schools in September under conditions of the coronavirus pandemic. The NYC public school system is the largest in Pindostan, with approximately 1.1m students. In conjunction with a National Day of Resistance that featured rallies and car caravans of educators in cities such as Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and Philadelphia to protest the unsafe resumption of classes, rank-and-file teachers marched from the headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers near Wall Street carrying body bags and coffins and a mock guillotine with a blade that read “DOE.” Educators on Twitter participated under the hashtag #WeWon’tDieForDOE. One Bronx teacher told the mayor:

Buildings aren’t safe. Your plans are dangerous & unrealistic. You’ve defunded schools.

Another tweeted:

I give my all and do whatever I can for students and families, but I will not die for the DoE.

De Blasio has announced a “hybrid” school program to start on Sep 10. Students will go to classrooms one day and on the next learn remotely at home. Other plans mandate students to attend physical classes and virtual learning on alternate weeks. Schools will close if the number of New Yorkers testing positive for the coronavirus rises beyond 3% of the total number tested. Currently, about 1% of all those tested in NYC are infected with the virus. According to the DOE’s plan, if two or more students or staff members in the same classroom get sick and test positive for COVID-19, the classroom will be shut down and students will switch to remote learning. DOE and city health officials will investigate and the classroom will remain closed for 14 days after the investigation. If two students or staffers in different classrooms get sick with the coronavirus, the school building will close for 24 hours. In this case, according to the DOE, “depending on the outcome” of testing and contact tracing, the building may be closed for 14 days. Each school, according to the plan, will also provide an isolation room for students who feel sick.

Teachers, principals and parents have drawn up scores of lists of unanswered questions about the plan and posted them on blogs and social media. One of the most widespread concerns is the absence of certified nurses. The NYC public school system is lacking, by its own count, over 400 nurses. The de Blasio administration, after cutting $773m from this year’s school budget, has no plans to hire any. In the absence of nurses, educators have asked who will escort sick students to the isolation room and supervise them. Others have asked what the protocols are for testing sick students and if a student’s friends and siblings at other schools will be tested. Another question is whether siblings’ schools will even be notified of a positive test. Educators have asked how often and how thoroughly classrooms will be cleaned. Many have raised concerns about the heating, ventilation & air-conditioning systems in schools, questioning whether they will be able to filter the airborne coronavirus. Others have pointed out that in some buildings, air-conditioning systems are inoperative and classroom windows cannot even be opened. Many teachers have pointed out that the DOE has made no provisions for supplying PPE such as gloves, masks and face-shields. This is in a school system where, like many across Pindostan, draconian budget cuts by both Demagog & Thug politicians have forced teachers to purchase basic school supplies. Principals are unsure if their schools will be regularly supplied with hand sanitizer. No attention has been given by the DOE to building entrance and exit procedures that will ensure social distancing, or safety issues related to emergency procedures such as sheltering in place or fire evacuation.

The premature reopening of the city’s schools will result in a renewed public heath catastrophe similar to the one that peaked in April and May. It will follow essentially the same game plan as the one that allowed the rapid dissemination of the coronavirus throughout the city and beyond in January and February. At that time, the Demagog mayor and governor ignored the best scientific advice for weeks, until it was too late. The teacher unions kept quiet—or actively opposed the shutting of schools and other public institutions—although they, too, understood the threat. COVID-19 has now caused 20k confirmed deaths and another 5k probable deaths in NYC. Governor Andrew Cuomo has not yet set a date for students to return to buildings, but while criticizing Donald Trump for his insistence on opening the schools, he has presented a program that is essentially no different from de Blasio’s. Opposition among educators is widespread throughout the state. No doubt sensitive to the anger of teachers and parents, Cuomo told a press briefing on Sunday:

If the union and the teachers aren’t comfortable, they aren’t going to show up. No one wants to force people to go to work. This is about common sense and public health.

Teachers have been quick to point out the absurdities of the reopening plan of the NY State Education Dept. One teacher on social media noted:

The NYSED recommends districts NOT require a negative COVID test prior to admission for in-person learning. Every year students are REQUIRED to have the appropriate vaccinations in order to attend, but no prior negative COVID test during a pandemic with a highly contagious virus that transmits asymptomatically, especially in children. This is the crowning height of irresponsibility and neglect of public health in educational settings.

Another upstate teacher said:

We are being thrown into a Petri dish, with no care for what might happen. Are we only heroes to you when there is a shooting?

The teachers’ unions in the city and state, which are little more than a wing of the Demagog Party and have supported Cuomo to the hilt, have come under increasing fire from teachers. The union in the state, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), has been widely criticized by teachers for its failure to oppose school reopening. One hashtag on Twitter is #WhereisAndy, referring to NYSUT President Andrew Pallotta. Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT, this week paid lip-service to the sentiments of many teachers when he called for randomized testing of students for the coronavirus, though not mandatory testing of each student. Mulgrew added:

What’s more, even if there are stronger safety standards in place, we still have grave concerns about the city’s ability to enforce them effectively in every school. Right now, this is not enough to protect students and staff.

Mulgrew, however, told a teachers’ town hall phone-in that while he was weighing the possibility of a lawsuit against the city, there would be no strike to prevent schools from reopening. This is the same man who privately warned de Blasio in March that schools should close, representing the interests of the union boxtops. He said nothing to the membership of the UFT, and it was only the threat of a sick-out by rank-and-file teachers that forced the schools to shut down on Mar 16. One teacher from Queens posed the question on Facebook that many are asking:

Can union members continue to put their full trust in our union and in its leaders? I have zero trust in the DOE and the UFT when it comes to our safety and well-being.

Into the developing breach between the UFT, which did nothing to oppose this year’s massive budget cuts to education, and the city’s approximately 70k educators has stepped a “reform” faction of the union, the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), which sponsored the protest on Monday and is emerging as a supposed alternative to the Mulgrew leadership. As with every faction in the UFT, MORE is devoted to propping up the authority of the Demagog Party. While it has called for a possible sick-out in the event of a school reopening, it echoes the president of the Pindo Federation of Teachers (the parent union of the UFT) Randi Weingarten in its refusal to call for a national strike. MORE is associated with a faction of the Demagog Party, the Democratic Socialists of Pindostan. Its march on Monday raised no criticism of the Demagog Party and was oriented to pressuring Cuomo and de Blasio. Educators in New York cannot let themselves be isolated and herded into fruitless protests to pressure the Demagogs over life-and-death issues. Thousands have died in the city and state, including at least 70 educators, from COVID-19, while both capitalist parties have allowed the disease to run rampant. At the behest of Wall Street, Cuomo, de Blasio and Trump are seeking to opens schools so the working class can go back to producing wealth for the super-rich. The disease can be stopped only by the working class itself, and teachers play a central role. As a first step, teachers need to create new democratic organizations that are independent of the two capitalist parties and the pro-capitalist trade unions: rank-and-file safety committees. A network of these committees across Pindostan must prepare the way for a national teachers’ strike to stop the unsafe reopening of the schools. Any educator, parent or student who would like to become involved in building rank-and-file safety committees should contact the WSWS Educators Newsletter.

For a nationwide general strike to halt the drive to reopen schools!
Statement of the SEP, Aug 5 2020

A growing movement is now underway of teachers, students and parents against the effort to reopen schools amidst the expanding coronavirus pandemic. Over the past month, more than 300k educators and parents have joined Facebook groups opposed to the back-to-school campaign. There have been protests and demonstrations in Mississippi, Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Alabama and many other states. On Monday, protests were held in dozens of cities throughout the country. For this movement to succeed, it must be developed into a nationwide struggle, uniting educators with all sections of the working class in a general strike movement against the homicidal policy of the ruling elites. The drive to reopen schools, supported by both the Thugs & Demagogs, is a linchpin in the broader back-to-work campaign. The demand that workers return to work, put into effect in May, is already responsible for 50k deaths in June and July. But the ruling class cannot get workers back to work if their children are not in school. This is the same logic that is driving the effort to curtail or eliminate federal unemployment benefits, forcing workers to return to work or face impoverishment, homelessness and destitution.

The science is clear: Children are equally susceptible to catching COVID-19, have viral loads equal to or greater than adults, are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers, and transmit the virus at the highest rates of any age group. At least four schools that reopened last week have already had students test positive for COVID-19. Any school that reopens will quickly become a major vector for the spread of the virus throughout that community. The effort to reopen schools, in other words, means that students will get sick and die, teachers will get sick and die, and parents will get sick and die. In raising the call for a nationwide general strike, the SEP urges educators and all workers to raise and discuss the following demands in their schools, workplaces and neighborhoods:

  • Keep all schools closed until the virus is eradicated! With the virus spiraling out of control across Pindostan, in-person instruction cannot be done safely.
  • Full funding for public education and online instruction! High speed Internet access, food distribution, mental health-care, special education supports, and all other resources needed to provide the best quality remote learning must be guaranteed to every student and educator.
  • Halt all non-essential production! Until the pandemic is contained, only key industries such as food production, medical care and logistics should remain open. Workers in those industries must be provided with the most advanced safety measures to prevent infection.
  • For a massive expansion of testing and contact-tracing! In order to contain the virus, universal testing must be provided for all, and hundreds of thousands of contact tracers hired to track any cases that emerge, and test and isolate those potentially infected.

The past seven months have demonstrated that the fight against the pandemic depends upon the independent intervention of the working class. The death toll keeps rising and the pandemic is spiraling out of control because the ruling class will not tolerate any measures that cut across its interests. If that means that the pandemic must rage on, so be it. The indifference of the ruling class to this massive loss of life was expressed most nakedly by Trump in an interview with Axios over the weekend. Asked to respond to the fact that 1k people are dying every day, Trump replied:

They are dying. That’s true. And it is what it is.

One could not have a clearer statement of class policy. On Monday evening, Trump declared his determination to press forward with his campaign to prematurely reopen schools, demanding on Twitter, “OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!” Trump does not just speak for himself. In an editorial Monday, “School-Opening Extortion,” the WSJ gives vent to the social interests driving this policy, denouncing protesters for exercising “political extortion” by resisting the effort to reopen schools. the WSJ states:

Children, who would have to endure more lost instruction, are their hostages. Teachers are attempting to coerce parents and taxpayers to dance to their agenda if they want their children to learn.

What contemptible hypocrisy! The ruling class, for whom the WSJ speaks, has systematically degraded public education for decades through the gutting of state funding and the promotion of charter schools, standardized testing and “school choice” schemes to divert funding to private and parochial schools. The WSJ has the gall to accuse teachers of using the pandemic to extract concessions. In reality, it is the financial oligarchy that used the pandemic to demand trillions of dollars in bailout money, sanctioned by the CARES Act passed in late March, with near-unanimous bipartisan support. Having looted the state treasury, the ruling class now demands that workers get back to the job of producing profits to pay for it. The editorial concludes by stating:

No political force should have veto power over the education of Pindostan’s children.

In class terms, the WSJ is demanding that educators, parents, students and the working class should have no say in whether schools reopen or remain closed. While the Trump administration is spearheading the campaign to reopen schools, it has bipartisan support. In NYC yesterday, teachers, parents and students staged a protest against plans by Demagog Party Mayor Bill de Blasio to reopen schools in the city. Both Thug & Demagog governors, moreover, have removed restrictions on non-essential production as the pandemic spread, sending workers back on the job to risk their health and lives to produce profits for the corporations.

Teachers are not fighting alone. There is growing anger and opposition in the entire working class. Their allies are students and parents in K-12 schools, as well as students in colleges and universities that are also moving to reopen. Meatpackers, health-care workers, farm laborers, logistics workers at Amazon, UPS, and USPS, transit workers, service workers and the entire working class confront the same enemy. Autoworkers in Michigan and Ohio have already begun forming independent rank-and-file safety committees to organize opposition. The end of federal unemployment benefits this week threatens millions of jobless with poverty and eviction. Behind closed doors, the Demagogs & Thugs are negotiating over how much these benefits will be cut and how quickly, in order to create the best conditions to blackmail workers to get them back to work. The opposition of teachers in Pindostan, moreover, is part of an international movement. Facebook groups opposed to reopening schools have formed in the UK, South Africa, and other countries where the ruling class is enforcing the same policy.

To fight back, teachers must form independent rank-and-file organizations. The protests organized by the teachers unions are entirely inadequate. The Pindo Federation of Teachers and National Education Association, subservient to the Democrats and the ruling class, are highly conscious of the radicalization taking place among educators and seek to preempt and control this movement. In 2018 and 2019, the unions orchestrated the shutdown and betrayal of a series of teachers’ strikes, beginning in West Virginia. The SEP urges workers in every industry and sector to develop an interconnected network of rank-and-file committees to prepare for a general strike against the opening of schools and the entire policy of the ruling class. The measures demanded by teachers correspond with what scientists and epidemiologists insist is necessary to stop the spread of the pandemic. Two absolutely opposed social interests are involved. Teachers are fighting for life. The ruling class is fighting for profits and death. The trillions that have been handed over to Wall Street and the financial oligarchy must be redirected to provide full unemployment benefits to all workers, and universal access to health-care and public education.

The development of a nationwide general strike would create a powerful impulse and would galvanize support internationally among workers who face the same life-and-death decisions. The logic of such a struggle would place the Pindo working class in a direct confrontation with the Trump administration, which seeks to maintain its rule through increasingly authoritarian measures, and the entire ruling class. All the rights of the working class, even the right to life, depend upon the expropriation of the ruling class and the reorganization of economic life on the basis of social need, not private profit. The only way to halt the reopening of schools, stop the spread of the pandemic, and prevent millions more infections and deaths is through the mass mobilization of the working class in a revolutionary struggle against the source of all suffering wrought by the pandemic, the capitalist system. The SEP and its youth movement, the IYSSE, are spearheading this fight. We urge teachers to contact us for assistance in organizing your struggle. We call on students and youth to support this struggle and join the IYSSE. Sign up for the WSWS Educators Newsletter for updates on this fight.

‘royal commission’ = loyal to nazi queen elizabeth II of england

Islamic Women’s Council calls for transparency from inquiry into NZ terrorist attack
Tom Peters, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

More than one year after the Mar 15 2019 terrorist attack, an official inquiry into the mass shooting that killed 51 people and injured 49 in two Christchurch mosques has still not released any information to the public. The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Attack on Christchurch Mosques had been due to deliver its final report to the Labour Party-led government at the end of July, but its deadline was extended for a third time until Nov 26. This prevents the report from being a topic of public discussion in the lead-up to the Sep 19 election. The commission’s website says it will make findings on:

  • what State sector agencies knew about the accused attacker, before Mar 15 2019;
  • what State sector agencies did (if anything) with that knowledge:
  • whether there was anything else State sector agencies could have done to prevent the attack;
  • what else State sector agencies should do to prevent such attacks in the future.

The proceedings, however, have been kept secret, including more than 1k submissions from individuals and organisations. Even when the commission finally delivers its report, the government will determine how much information is made public. The media has largely ceased to discuss what led to the attack, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged media companies not to focus on Tarrant. The state banned possession of Tarrant’s fascist manifesto, which revealed the gunman’s support for Trump and the similarity of his anti-immigrant views to those of capitalist parties in NZ and internationally. There are growing demands for transparency from the Royal Commission, including for the release of an interview the commissioners conducted with Tarrant. The gunman’s unexpected guilty plea in March means he will not face any public questioning in a trial. Muslim Association of Canterbury general secretary Feroze Ditta, who was injured in the shooting at Al Noor mosque, told Radio NZ on Jun 29:

I want to know his motivations and to get to the bottom of what actually happened and how he managed to execute this.

Tony Green, a spox for the mosque, also said the interview should be shared widely. The WSWS spoke with Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women’s Council, which last month made public its full submission to the Royal Commission. Rahman explained:

We were concerned that the decision on releasing the Royal Commission’s findings would be a political one, which is why we released our submission. One, because we knew that the royal commission would not be able to put it in full into their report, but secondly to say this is the kind of transparency we need.

The submission argues that the Christchurch terrorist attack was preventable. At a press conference on Jul 7, the IWCNZ’s Aliya Danzeisen said they had warned the government for years about rising Islamophobia, including harassment and threats against women and children, and the activity of white supremacist movements. Most strikingly, Danzeisen revealed that on Feb 20 2019, she received a message via Facebook from someone threatening to burn a Koran in front of the Hamilton mosque on Mar 15, the date of the Christchurch attack. The threat appeared to originate from a Facebook user in Christchurch. It was reported to police the next day. Danzeisen told the media:

We believe that had our concerns been taken seriously, there would have been a national system that would have warned communities and would have warned the police around the nation, and there would have been extra patrols and likely people on the steps of our mosque on Mar 15, in a position to prevent the attacks.

Rahman told the WSWS that Tarrant’s interview with the commission should be released because it could shed light on “whether he was involved with anyone else and whether there are other people that need to be charged.” There were “a lot of questions” including how he obtained a gun licence and was able to travel internationally and donate to far-right extremist groups. Tarrant donated thousands of dollars to the Identitarian movement in Austria and France, and was in contact with the white supremacist Lads Society in Australia, which tried to recruit him. He was reported to Australian police in 2016 for threatening to kill someone on Facebook. In 2017, NZ police dismissed a complaint about racist and violent discussions at the gun club near Dunedin where Tarrant was a member. Rahman pointed out:

For the Muslim world, we have a whole list of organisations that we are not allowed to donate money to, and if we do we will come to the attention of the authorities. Yet he was able to donate and not come to the attention of the authorities. Knowing what influenced his thinking could help prevent future attacks, particularly given that he grew up in Australia, which had a very harsh anti-Muslim media as well as politicians who used the Muslim community for scaremongering.

Speaking about the broader political context of the attack, Rahman told the WSWS that it had followed decades of war, including the Pindo-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, which successive NZ governments participated in. Rahman said:

The Iraq war was based on lies that Saddam Hussein’s regime had WMDs and links with AQ terrorists. It absolutely destroyed the infrastructure in Iraq, it decimated the economy and led to sectarian violence. We had incidences like Abu Ghraib, where we know that outside forces in Iraq were committing atrocities against the people in that country.

These wars and the war in Syria were accompanied by the demonisation of Muslims by the media and political parties internationally, including in NZ. In Dec 2015, then-PM John Key and the Security Intelligence Service made inflammatory statements, without any evidence, that women had travelled from NZ to Syria to become “jihadi brides” for Daesh. The claims were part of the National Party government’s propaganda to justify sending troops to Iraq, and the strengthening of NZ’s spy agencies as part of the Pindo-led Five Eyes intelligence network. Rahman said:

John Key’s statements threw our community to the wolves, basically, without any concern for the safety of Muslim women who were put under the spotlight as to whether we might turn into ‘jihadi brides’ or not. It was absolutely appalling.

Rahman also stressed that “hostility to migrants is not the domain of any one political party,” and that prior to the 2017 election, the Labour Party and its ally the Greens had campaigned against foreigners owning houses. Following the election, these parties formed a coalition with the right-wing nationalist NZ First Party, which has a long history of demonising Muslims, Chinese people and other immigrants. As another election approaches, migrants are once again being scapegoated by the major parties for the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Rahman said:

I am afraid that a lot of people are going to be made to leave and it’s not going to be pretty at all. These are people who would have gone into significant debt, who have moved everything to this country in the hopes of a better life, who have invested in this country, in terms of contributing to their workplaces, being part of the community, who will be kicked out. None of the major parties is speaking for these vulnerable people.

george floyd’s police murder: leaked video

Leaked bodycam footage shows George Floyd’s arrest and murder
Kevin Martinez, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

Bodycam footage from the two Minneapolis cops who arrested George Floyd was leaked to the Daily Mail this week providing new details in the May 25 murder which sparked weeks of mass multiracial and multiethnic protests against police violence in the US and around the world. The tapes were provided by an anonymous source and show officers brutally arresting Floyd and then killing him. Transcripts of the videos were released last month but a judge ordered the footage not to be released to the public, it could only be viewed at a courthouse by appointment. Now, for the first time, the public can view George Floyd’s agonizing last moments of life. The footage includes 18 minutes from Officer J Alexander Kueng’s body camera and 10 minutes from Officer Thomas Lane’s. They were the first to be called to the Cup Foods convenience store after Floyd allegedly tried to buy cigarettes with a fake $20 bill. The video begins with Lane and Kueng, their first week as rookie cops, entering the store where an employee approaches them with the counterfeit bill saying:

Before they drive off. He’s parked right here. It’s a fake bill from the gentleman.

The police walked up to Floyd’s blue Mercedes SUV parked on the other side of the street. Lane goes to the driver’s side where Floyd was sitting while Kueng approached the passenger side, where Floyd’s ex, Shawanda Hill, was in the back seat and Maurice Hall, a friend, in front. Almost immediately upon encountering Floyd in his car, Officer Lane pulled his gun aiming for Floyd’s head. Floyd, clearly terrified, began sobbing uncontrollably, pleading:

Mr Officer, please don’t shoot me! Please man!

Floyd told the officers he had been shot before to which Lane responds:

Keep your fucking hands on the wheel.

Although Floyd was clearly distraught, the officers yelled obscenities at him as they manhandled him out of the vehicle. Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao were called in to assist. Floyd was ordered out of the car with Lane saying:

Hands on top of your head! Step out of the vehicle and step away from me!

Floyd pleaded with the police not to shoot him. Lane said:

I’m not going to shoot you. Step out and face away.

Floyd said:

I’ll look at you eye-to-eye! Please don’t shoot me, man! I just lost my mom, man!

After Floyd exited the car, Lane approached Hill and Hall who were standing next to the car. Lane asked:

Why’s he being all squirrelly and not showing us his hands and just being all weird like that?

Hill explained:

Because he’s been shot before!

Lane said:

Well, I get that. But still, when officers say: ‘Get out of the car…’ Is he drunk or something?

Hill pointed to her head and made a circular motion, implying Floyd had mental issues, and said:

No, he’s got a thing going on about the police.

When the officers tried to get him into the squad car a struggle began to escalate as Floyd refused to get in, saying he had claustrophobia and falling to the ground. Kueng yelled:

Stand up. Stop falling down. Stay on your feet and face the car door.

Floyd begged them:

Please, man! Don’t leave me by myself, man, please! I’m just claustrophobic!

Lane responded:

Well, you’re still going in the car.

Floyd kept protesting:

Y’all, I am going to die in here! I’m going to die, man! I just had COVID, man! I don’t want to go back to that!

Lane offered to roll the windows down, to calm Floyd, but he was still agitated, saying:

I’m scared as fuck!

Eventually people began to gather on the sidewalk with one bystander telling Floyd to calm down, saying he could not win. Floyd replied:

I don’t want to win! I’m claustrophobic and I’ve got anxiety! I don’t want to do nothing to them!

While seated in the car Floyd declared for the first time, “I can’t breathe.” Officers Chauvin and Thao then arrived on the scene. All four officers struggled to restrain Floyd in the car but he fell outside of the passenger side door. Within moments, Floyd was pinned on the ground with Chauvin’s knee pressing down on his neck. For the next several minutes Floyd repeatedly yelled he couldn’t breathe and called for his mother as he slowly suffocated to death. He said at one point:

Tell my kids I love them! I’m dead!

Chauvin asked his fellow officer if he was okay, to which Lane answered:

My knee might be a little scratched but I will survive.

As Floyd continued to say he couldn’t breathe, Kueng is heard saying:

You’re fine. You’re talking fine.

Floyd responded:

I’ll probably just die this way!

A crowd had gathered by this point with one man heard shouting, “Check his pulse” and “You call what you are doing okay?” The officers did not respond but Lane asked:

Should we roll him on his side?

Chauvin answered:

No, he’s staying where we’ve got him.

Floyd was seen motionless and silent on the ground and died before an ambulance arrived. All four were fired the next day after initially being placed on administrative leave. The footage makes clear the reckless and callous manner in which the cops brutalized a non-violent person. A seemingly insignificant event, the alleged use of a counterfeit bill, is apparently enough to warrant a public execution by police officers in Pindostan. Liberal advocates of police reform will argue the footage shows the need for “better training” of the police, as if this would alter the fact that the police primarily exist to defend the rich and their private property and no amount of training would prevent such violent encounters from taking place in a country as socially polarized and unequal as Pindostan. Hennepin County District Court spox Spenser Bickett told the media that the court is working with police to determine who leaked the two videos. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is prosecuting the four fired Minneapolis police officers, denied being the source of the leaks. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter, while Lane, Kueng and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane and Kueng have been released after posting bond while Chauvin and Thao remain in custody. All four officers have a tentative trial date of March 8, 2021.

nazi germany redux

Fascist networks in German police and military issue new death threats
Jan Ritter, Max Linhof, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

Far-right-wing extremist chat groups involving members of the German military and security apparatus have been publicly exposed over recent days. At the same time, a growing number of threatening e-mails and faxes, almost all signed NSU 2.0, have been sent to left-wing artists, immigrants, politicians, journalists and lawyers. SDU leader Saskia Esken recently received a death threat signed NSU 2.0. Many of the threats contain personal information about those targeted that is not publicly available. In at least three cases, the data was accessed from police computers. The best-known case is of the lawyer Seda Basay-Yildiz, whose secret address was accessed on a police computer in Frankfurt. The lawyer, who represented some of the victims of the far-right National Socialist Underground terrorist group, received a death threat several days later signed NSU 2.0. Der Spiegel reported on Jul 29 that the police officer whose computer was used to access the data had not been seriously investigated, because another officer could have logged on to her computer with a password displayed nearby. On this basis, she was not initially considered a suspect. However, after officers found out that she was an active participant in a right-wing extremist chat group, they were finally compelled to launch an investigation against her.

The far-right group “Itiotentreff” was almost exclusively made up of police officers in the state of Hesse. A total of 102 pictures, caricatures and messages were shared, of which 40 were deemed to be relevant to the investigation by the state prosecutor. Group members made fun of disabled people, survivors of concentration camps, black people and Jews. The messages showing Alan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee child who drowned in 2015, were especially inhumane. “Whoever finds it can keep it” was written beneath the picture of his lifeless body on a Turkish beach. The chat group had an openly fascist character and aimed to serve as a platform for sharing right-wing extremist material and possibly planning acts of violence, apparently all under the protection of the security agencies and local politicians from the government parties. One of the group’s members lived in 2018 in Kirtorf, a stronghold of the far-right that has played host to several right-wing extremist major events since the turn of the century. In addition, a search of the home of another police officer in Kirtorf in late 2018 uncovered a collection of Nazi memorabilia that investigators described as a “Nazi museum.” The mayor of Kirtorf at the time, Ulrich Künz (CDU), justified the find by saying that it is normal for people to collect historical material. He described the Nazi memorabilia collector and his brother, who was also a police officer in Hesse, as “nice guys, friendly, very integrated into clubs and associations.”

This is just one example of the building up of far-right structures within the state apparatus. Across Germany, new far-right networks are continually being exposed, from “Revolution Chemnitz” in Saxony, to the chat group led by the special forces soldier Andre S, better known as “Hannibal,” and the nationwide far-right Telegram chat group #WIR. On Jul 23, Die Zeit published extracts from these chats in an article headlined “Soldiers who are planning a revolt.” The author and right-wing extremist expert Christian Fuchs wrote that among #WIR’s members, which at times totalled around 240, were “several soldiers, reservists and army veterans.” According to his research, several right-wing extremist and neo-Nazi members of the army are active in the #WIR chat group. One member was Hartmut T, who holds at least the rank of sergeant in the military. In the Telegram group, he has been presented a series of awards for parachuting and individual bravery during his 12-year career as a soldier, is stationed at an army air base in the Lüneburg region and is now a member of the rapid response division. This unit is part of the same division as the special forces (KSK), which was so heavily infiltrated by right-wing extremists that Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer felt compelled to restructure the force last month. Like the network organised by Hannibal in the KSK, the #WIR network also planned to murder left-wing figures and establish a fascist regime in Germany on “Day X.” Hartmut T wrote in the #WIR chat, among other things:

Can you add me to the group Antifa Reconnaissance? I want to know who my enemies are…so I can take action against these terrorists.

Another contribution cited by Die Zeit underscores just how concrete the plans for a far-right revolt were. “Patriots” must now “keep themselves safe” so that “when the first wave is over with, we can rebuild our country,” wrote T in Nov 2019. The author of the article in Die Zeit adds:

These statements were made in Nov 2019, so the ‘wave’ has nothing to do with the coronavirus; it probably refers to the initial phase after a putsch.

The material presented by Fuchs leaves no doubt about the group’s fascist outlook, its close ties to the German army and other European militaries, and its plans for a violent putsch. “Anti-Semitic slogans and racist violent fantasies” were among the messages shared, as well as “free social national.”
Andreas E, another group member was “according to his own admission,” active for five years in the French Foreign Legion in French Guiana, Congo and Papua New Guinea. Another member of the group was Heiko Herbert G, who according to Fuchs is a member of the military reserves, Lower Saxony group. In Dec 2019, he directed a threat to anti-fascists:

It’s not enough just to slap those guys in the face! I don’t want to write any more about it.

The plans were apparently far advanced, and links had already been established with other far-right groups. Heiko Herbert G in the chat group wrote:

My preparations are complete. Own weapons, fighting gear, civil war.

He has everything “up to calibre 38–45.” In addition, the reservist posted a picture “of a mountain of rucksacks, helmets and a sleeping bag with German army insignia.” One of the administrators of #WIR was Marion G, who consciously wanted to bring together “patriots and National Socialists.” She was an alleged supporter of “the right-wing extremist terrorist S Group,” whose members were arrested by the police in February. But Marion G “remained free” and “continued to be active in the digital underground.” And this in spite of the fact that the S Group was reportedly on the brink of striking. According to a report in Der Spiegel in February, the group had already hoarded weaponry and munitions and planned in a concerted “military” action to launch attacks on mosques across Germany and kill Muslims as they prayed. The goal was to provoke a counter-response and a “civil war.” The investigating state prosecutor summarised the group’s aim as having been the “rattling” and “overcoming” of the Federal Republic’s state structure and social order. The fascist networks in the German security forces are now so widespread and threatening that the NYT felt compelled for the second time in a few weeks to warn of the danger of a right-wing putsch. After an initial article on Jul 3, the NYT wrote last weekend about the plans for “Day X” of the Northern Cross group, which emerged out of the network operated by Hannibal. It said:

Increasingly, the German authorities consider the scenario a pretext for domestic terrorism by far-right plotters or even for a takeover of the government.

It may well be the case that sections of the state apparatus and government are troubled by the putsch plans and terrorist activities. But the fact is that there is no force within the political establishment or state, including the judiciary, investigative authorities and political parties, capable of or willing to deal with the far-right threat. The strengthening of far-right terrorist networks in the police, military and intelligence agencies is directly linked to the German bourgeoisie’s return to militarism and war. The only way to stop the right-wing extremist terrorists is through the independent mobilisation of the working class on the basis of a socialist programme.

“hare krishna, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare,” oy va voy

Indian PM Modi to lay cornerstone for Hindu temple at site of razed Ayodhya mosque
Deepal Jayasekera, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

In a nationally-televised event, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to lay the foundation stone today for a temple devoted to the mythical Hindu god Ram on the site of the former Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The razing of the 475-year-old Babri Masjid on Dec 6 1992 was a historic crime perpetrated by Hindu fanatics incited and organised by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), and allied Hindu supremacist groups. It precipitated weeks of communal violence across much of northern and western India that resulted in the deaths of more than 2k people, most of them poor Muslims. Today’s ceremony has been timed to coincide with the first anniversary of another monstrous political crime. One year ago today, Modi and his chief henchman, Home Minister Amit Shah, working in close concert with the high command of the military & security apparatus, carried out a constitutional coup, illegally rewriting India’s constitution by executive fiat to abrogate the semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. They then divided Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories, effectively placing the region under permanent central government control. To suppress mass popular opposition to these dictatorial actions, the Modi government imposed a months-long state of siege on the Kashmir Valley, with blanket curfews, mass detentions without charge, and the suspension of cell phone and internet service. Fearing an explosion of popular anger, many of these measures have been reimposed in the run-up to today’s anniversary.

The building of a Ram temple on the site of the Babri Masjid and the assertion of unfettered Indian central government control over the disputed Kashmir region have been central to the communalist agenda of the BJP and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for decades. Modi intends to use the coincidence of the official inauguration of the Ram temple’s construction and the anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir’s “full integration” into the Indian Union to trumpet a supposed new era of Indian “assertion,” and otherwise advance the BJP-RSS agenda to transform India into a Hindu state, where Muslims and other minorities live in sufferance. The Modi government is ratcheting up communalism in response to its apprehensions that its ruinous response to the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling mass anger and opposition among India’s workers and toilers. The government’s ill-conceived, hastily imposed ten-week COVID-19 lockdown and its subsequent back-to-work drive have produced a health and socio-economic disaster. Tens of millions have lost their jobs and hundreds of millions have seen their meagre incomes slashed. Meanwhile, the pandemic is surging across India. When Modi’s “unlockdown” officially began on Jun 8, India had just over 250k confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7.2k deaths. Today, less than two months later, the official cases have almost quadrupled to 1.85m and the deaths have increased by more than five times to 38,938. Facing popular anger over the spread of the pandemic and its attempts to “kick start” the economy by implementing a new wave of “pro-investor” measures and by forcing workers back on the job in unsafe conditions, the Modi government is doubling down on its Hindus supremacist agenda. Its aim is to confuse and split the working class, and mobilize its fascistic base to intimidate and threaten its opponents.

Today’s ceremony is the direct outcome of a ruling by India’s Supreme Court last November that validated the Babri Masjid’s destruction, rewarding those who had orchestrated it, in defiance of the Court’s own express orders, with effective sole ownership of the disputed sited. Indeed, the court, in what it provocatively proclaimed an act of “national reconciliation,” officially “ordered” the BJP to oversee the construction of a Ram temple on the ruins of the Babri Masjid. This shameful ruling underscores the extent to which all the institutions of the still nominally secular Indian state have become infused with Hindu communalism. No less reactionary and revealing is the response of the BJP’s ostensible establishment political opponents. The Congress Party, the only all-India rival to the BJP and until 2014 the Indian bourgeoisie’s preferred party of national government, has furiously attacked the Ram Mandir Trust, the body officially charged with the temple’s construction, for not inviting its party leadership for the temple’s bhoomi pujan (ground-breaking) program and turning it into an “exclusive BJP-RSS ceremony.” One Congress leader after another has accused the BJP of stealing “credit” for the Ram temple, citing their own party’s despicable record of conniving with the Hindu chauvinist campaign to raze the Babri Masjid. Most notoriously, in Dec 1992 the Narasimha Rao-led national Congress government stood by and allowed the historic Ayodhya mosque to be destroyed, although it was forewarned of the BJP-RSS conspiracy to raze it to the ground. Senior Congress leader and former External Affairs Minster Salman Khurshid complained:

People from across the political spectrum should have been invited, just as a courtesy to Lord Ram.

For her part, Priyanka Gandhi, a senior Congress leader in her own right and the daughter, granddaughter and great granddaughter of Congress Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, declared:

By Lord Ram’s grace, let this ceremony promote national unity, brotherhood, and cultural confluence.

Kamal Nath, the former Congress Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh, boosted the BJP-RSS claim that the campaign to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya enjoys mass support. Kamal Nath said:

People of the country were expecting and wishing for this since long. The construction of the temple is being carried out with the consent of every Indian.

Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh was eager to tout Rajiv Gandhi’s support for the Ram temple movement. He tweeted:

The centre of our faith is Lord Ram! That’s why we all wish that a grand temple should be built at the birthplace of Ram in Ayodhya. Rajiv Gandhi also wanted the same.

Continuing in this reactionary obscurantist vein, Singh went on to claim that the reason Home Minister Shah recently tested positive for COVID-19 is because BJP leaders have defied the warnings of a Hindu fundamentalist priest that Aug 5 is not an “auspicious day” to inaugurate the Ram temple. The Congress’ response to today’s vile Hindu supremacist celebration flows from its decades of conniving with the Hindu right wing and instrumentalization of caste and communal divisions. Renouncing its own democratic program for a united secular India, the Congress of Nehru and M K Gandhi implemented, in collaboration with South Asia’s departing British colonial overlords, the 1947 communal partition of the subcontinent into a Hindu-dominated India and a Muslim Pakistan. Despite this record, the twin Stalinist parties, the CPI & CPI(M), have long promoted the big-business Congress Party as a “secular bulwark” against the BJP. In response to today’s inaugural ceremony, the CPI(M) Politburo has issued a statement reiterating its support for the Supreme Court’s reactionary verdict of last November in what it calls the “Ayodhya dispute.” It then goes on to echo the Congress’ complaint that the bhumi pujan ceremony at Ayodhya has been taken over by the BJP, thus implying that if Modi and Shah were not trying to take sole “credit” for the successful campaign to build a Ram temple, there would be nothing objectionable in consecrating and completing the communalist crime of Dec 6 1992.

The Stalinists bear central political responsibility for the rise of the BJP and the Hindu right. For decades, they have justified their systematic subordination of the working class to the Congress Party, various reactionary caste-based regional bourgeois parties, and the putrefied state institutions of the “democratic” Indian Republic in the name of “blocking the fascist BJP” from power. From 1989 through 2008, the Stalinists played a pivotal role in the formation of a succession of governments, most of them Congress Party led, that implemented the Indian ruling elite’s neo-liberal “reform” agenda and pursued closer ties with Pindo imperialism. Moreover, in those states where they have formed the government the CPI and CPI(M) have similarly pursued pro-investor polices. This opened the door for the BJP to cynically exploit growing popular anger over mass poverty, ever widening social inequality, and endemic corruption. There is mass opposition to Modi and the BJP government and to the Indian ruling elite’s class-war agenda and incendiary strategic partnership with Pindo imperialism. But this opposition must find a new political road. This requires the mobilization of the working class as an independent political force, in opposition to all the parties of the capitalist establishment, including the Stalinist CPI and CPI(M), and the fight to rally the rural toilers and all sections of the oppressed behind it in the struggle for a workers and peasant’s government and international socialism.

as usual i am proceeding in what i think are order of importance (unfortunately, you will see them in the reverse order)

Pindostan imposes new sanctions on China over alleged Uyghur abuses
Peter Symonds, WSWS, Aug 5 2020

As part of its escalating conflict with China, the Trump administration last week imposed another set of sanctions on Chinese boxtops and an organization over their alleged abuse of the rights of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the western province of Xinjiang. The allegations have centred on the mass detention of Uyghurs in re-education camps, as the Beijing regime attempts to stamp out Uyghur separatism. Last Friday, the Pindo Treasury imposed sanctions on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp, as well as two boxtops connected with it, Peng Jiarui and Sun Jinlong. As a result, in a move designed to block access to the Pindo financial system, Pindo companies and citizens are banned from carrying out economic transactions with them. Mnuchin issued a thoroughly hypocritical statement declaring:

Pindostan will use the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world.

In reality, Faschingstein’s highly selective “human rights” campaigns are aimed at furthering the interests of Pindo imperialism and providing the pretext for aggression and war. The latest sanctions are part of a far broader anti-China campaign involving trade war measures and a military build-up throughout the Indo-Pacific, as well as denunciations of Beijing over human rights in Tibet and Hong Kong, and unsubstantiated accusations of spying and intellectual property theft. Last week’s measures are just the latest in a series of sanctions levelled against Chinese boxtops and entities over Xinjiang.

  • In Oct 2019, the Trump administration placed 28 Chinese companies and police departments on a black list banning Pindo companies from selling them technology and other goods without a licence. A number of Chinese boxtops were also subjected to visa restrictions.
  • On Jul 9, Pindostan imposed sanctions on four high-ranking boxtops including Chen Quanguo, a member of the CCP’s 25-member Politburo and Xinjiang party secretary.
  • On Jul 20, the Trump administration added 11 new Chinese companies to the list that restricts them from purchasing Pindo products. These included Chinese suppliers for major Pindo corporations such as Apple, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

The Beijing regime is based on the use of police state measures to suppress any opposition to its rule, in particular from the working class. Its response to unrest in Xinjiang, where the Uyghurs have been increasingly marginalized by Han Chinese from other areas of the country, has undoubtedly been repressive. The hue and cry from Faschingstein, however, has nothing to do with defending the basic democratic rights of Uyghurs, or for that matter, the people of Hong Kong and Tibet. Rather, it is part of a strategy aimed at encouraging separatist sentiment and undermining China, which Pindostan regards as the chief threat to its global hegemony. Pindostan has particularly focussed on Xinjiang, which not only has significant natural resources including oil, but is also adjacent to the energy-rich Central Asia republics with which Beijing has sought to establish close economic and political ties. Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, a massive infrastructure project linking the Eurasian landmass, involves crucial road, rail and communication routes that pass through Xinjiang. The Pindo propaganda campaign denouncing Chinese detention camps in Xinjiang is based on inflated figures of 1m+ Uyghur detainees that lack any serious documentation, along with lurid individual accounts fed to the media by Uyghur exile organisations. Likewise, Chinese counter-claims that the camps are simply vocational centres lack any credibility. In the absence of independent reporting, the extent of detentions remains unclear. Pindo condemnations of Uyghur detentions have now been supplemented by allegations of “genocide” against the Uyghurs, based on claims of enforced birth control and the sterilization of Uyghur women. Once again, the allegations are based on the sensational accounts of individuals and tendentious reports of the broader situation in Xinjiang.

The latest claims rest on another report produced by German anti-communist academic Adrian Zenz, who was also closely involved in the release last year of leaked CCP documents purporting to show the extent and purpose of the Xinjiang detention camps. Zenz is associated with a network of right-wing think-tanks, including the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Faschingstein. Zenz’s latest document “Sterilisation, IUDs and mandatory birth control: The CCP’s campaign to suppress Uyghur birthrates in Xinjiang,” was published by a Faschingstein-based think-tank, the Jamestown Foundation. His main contentions are that population growth in predominantly Uyghur areas is declining, that birth control violations have been punished by detention, and that a campaign is underway “to sterilize rural minority women with three or more children, as well as some with two children.” The central flaw in Zenz’s research is that it is ripped out of the context of China’s birth control policies, including the one-child policy that was introduced in the late 1970s by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and that generated widespread opposition. It was enforced with police state measures including forced abortions and sterilisations. The policy was directed in particular against the working class, with exceptions made for rural families and, also significantly, for China’s minorities including the Uyghurs. There were also ways for individuals with money and/or influence to avoid the limit of one child per couple. Such was the opposition to the policy, including concerns in ruling circles about an ageing workforce, that the one-child limit was modified and finally dropped in 2016, when all couples were permitted to have two children.

Even if accurate, Zenz’s figures on slowing Uyghur population growth from 2010 as compared to the Han Chinese do not to take into account the change in policy, let alone other factors such as Uyghur emigration. Nor does his report bother to consider that the current two-child policy is enforced not only against Uyghurs but against the broader population, including Han Chinese. None of this has stopped Pindo media outlets such as the WaPo and from ramping up sensational stories about Uyghur “genocide.” This dovetails with the decision of two Uyghur exile organisations based in Pindostan, the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, to file a case alleging genocide in the International Criminal Court last month against China. The Uyghurs are one of the Turkic-speaking groups that trace their origins to the Silk Road land routes from China through Central Asia to Europe. Uyghur separatist groups claim areas of Xinjiang as their homeland of East Turkistan. These Uyghur organisations, which are led by wealthy and well-connected exiles, have close connections to the Pindo state apparatus and its intelligence agencies. The CIA and its front organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy have long funded and promoted exile Uyghur organisations, including the World Uyghur Congress based in Europe and the Pindo Uyghur Association, as a means of fostering separatist sentiment in Xinjiang. The democratic rights of the Uyghur minority in China cannot be defended through Pindo imperialism, which has flagrantly used “human rights” as a means of waging war and regime-change. The fight for the democratic rights of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in China is completely bound up with a political struggle of the Chinese working class as a whole against the oppressive regime in Beijing. Above all, that needs to be informed by the historical lessons derived by the Trotskyist movement from its protracted struggle against Stalinism, including its Chinese variant, Maoism.