pindostan today

Mounting opposition by teachers against drive to reopen schools
Benjamin Mateus, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

Crowded hall at a Georgia High School reopening

There have been close to 19m COVID-19 cases and over 710k deaths worldwide, with 6,589 more deaths on Wednesday. Pindostan will, by all accounts, exceed 5m cases of COVID-19 today. The drive to reopen school systems in many states will undoubtedly accelerate the pandemic even more. One of the first schools to open was Greenfield Central Junior High School in Indiana. On the first day, the superintendent of the Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation was notified that a student who had attended classes had tested positive for the coronavirus. In Georgia, a second grader tested positive for the coronavirus on the first day of school. The Sixes Elementary in the Cherokee County School district had to close the classroom the next day for deep cleaning, and the instructor and 20 students were quarantined at home for two weeks. At Gwinnett County Public Schools, which serves over 180k students, 260 district employees were prohibited from entering their schools due to positive tests for COVID-19 or from direct exposure to someone who was infected. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

In-person training and meetings are taking place without areas being wiped down or disinfected in between, and masks aren’t being worn at all times, said several teachers who didn’t disclose their names when contacting the AJC. Others added that their school still hadn’t received hand sanitizers.

Teachers around Pindostan who spoke with the WSWS were outraged over the back-to school drive. Chris, a long-time teacher in West Virginia, is currently working as a substitute and a home health-care worker. He told the WSWS he would be in support of going out on strike in his role as a teacher and supports the demands laid out in the statement published on the WSWS yesterday. He said:

It does appear that the reopening compromised the effort to contain the virus. Here in West Virginia, the statewide date for bringing the kids back to school is Sep 8. Kanawha County Schools sent me a letter a couple of weeks ago giving me three choices: (1) I would not return. (2) I would return for long-term substitute positions. (3) I would be available for long-term or day-to-day positions. I chose (3), knowing that a lot can happen between now and then. I have multiple risk factors and am in no hurry to get back to work. My son is scheduled to start back as a teacher’s assistant at Notre Dame on Monday.

The federal CARES relief package provided a meager $13.5b for K-12 education, less than 1% of the total stimulus package, despite educators indicating schools across the nation will need multiples of that sum to prepare for and retrofit dilapidated structures with proven systems to minimize the spread of the virus from class to class and person to person. Adam Goldstein, a fifth-grade teacher in San Diego, noted:

It’s incredible to me that the federal government would see the necessity of bailing out airlines and banks, and not see the need to do something similar for the public schools in this country.

Louisiana currently ranks as the state with the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 infections: 2,712 per 100k people. The state also ranks fifth for highest rate of per capita deaths. To date, Louisiana has recorded a total of 126,061 cases and 4,096 deaths. Under these conditions, the Jefferson Parish School Board, representing the largest school district in the state, in the major suburbs of New Orleans, is planning to carry out a physical reopening on Aug 12. The district’s superintendent, Dr James Gray, says that of the 50k students in the district, half have already registered for virtual learning, indicating widespread doubt by parents about the safety of sending kids back to school. Local WDSU-TV broke the news that a “handful” of teachers in the district have just tested positive for the virus. Despite weeks of teachers rallying against the unsafe reopening of schools, teachers were forced back to the buildings on Monday, August 3 for meetings and to prepare the classrooms. One elementary school teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous, spoke to the WSWS about the reopening. she said:

We were told to assemble in the cafeteria, all faculty and staff. In Phase 2, the group size limit is supposed to be 25, but we had 60 people in the room. While it’s somewhat possible to remain distanced with just the staff in school, this will be impossible to do so once the students arrive. The principal even admitted that we will not be able to maintain the minimum 6′ distance guideline. When I set up my classroom, in which I am going to have 25 students, I tried to space out the desks, but the spacing measured to 15″ or maybe 18″ apart.

In addition to concern about her own health, having suffered from pneumonia in recent years, she worries for the students and their families. According to the “Strong Start” guideline released by the school board, students who present with fever during the morning temperature check will be sent into an isolation room with other potentially sick students. Considering that children are exposed to multiple viruses, from flu to stomach bugs, those without COVID-19 could end up in close, contained quarters with students who are infected. When asked about the PPE that is promised in the same district-wide guideline, she said:

The school has announced that each teacher will receive one mask, which hasn’t arrived yet. We will have hand sanitizer in the classroom and cafeteria, but no stations around the building.

She expressed growing disgust with Demagog state Governor John Bel Edwards, of whom she said:

He’s caved in to business interests and pressure from the White House, and now he’s ignoring common sense and allowing the state to open up far too quickly.

The current push to reopen schools on schedule, a position supported by both capitalist parties, forcing children in K-12 back to their desks amidst a raging pandemic, is based on the class logic that the extraction of surplus value from workers is paramount regardless of the consequences that come with it. In the crudest and most malign terms, Trump’s comments on Fox News capture the essential narrative being put forth to delude the public when he said:

This thing’s going away. It will go away like things go away, and my view is that schools should be open. If you look at children, children are almost, and I would almost say definitely, immune from this disease. They just don’t have a problem. We have to open our schools.

The comments of Dr Robert Redfield of the CDC to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis are simply a public health cover for the criminal policy being pursued. He said:

I don’t think I can emphasize it enough as the director for the CDC, the leading public health agency in the world: it is in the public health interest that these K-12 students to get the schools back open for face-to-face learning. I want these kids back in school. I want it done smartly, but I think we have to be honest that the public health and interest of the students in the nation right now is to get a quality education and face-to-face learning. We need to get on with it.

The dishonesty behind these sentiments is appalling. “To get on with it,” there must be certain conditions met, which include a contained pandemic where transmission is halted and surveillance in place to track it. These are just the most basic measures that are woefully lacking. The number of tests conducted daily in Pindostan peaked on Jul 24, with 929,838 new tests. On Aug 5, this figure had rapidly declined to 664,219 new tests, back to levels from more than a month ago. It appears that the decline in the seven-day average of new cases has correlated with less testing, which could mean that state and federal governments are following Trump’s repeated directives to test less so that the infection numbers will go down. All these figures must be taken with caution, even skepticism, because in the middle of July the Trump administration shifted reporting of hospitalizations away from the CDC into the hands of the DHHS, where Trump political appointees hold sway. Not only is the number of tests conducted rapidly declining, but the time to report these time-sensitive results has also been, on average, taking four or more days, making them useless for contact tracing. According to Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security:

A test result that comes back in seven or eight days is worthless for everybody. It shouldn’t be counted. It’s not a test in any kind of effective manner, because it’s not actionable.

The state of contact tracing across the nation has remained abysmal. Tracers in Arizona are unable to reach a significant number of infected individuals. Cities in Florida have given up on these programs. In NYC, tracers are complaining of paralyzed communications and difficulty training new tracers.

Altered CDC guidelines provide unscientific basis for reopening schools
Mitch Marcus, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

Science teachers Ann Darby (L) and Rosa Herrera (R) check students in before a summer STEM camp
at Wylie High School, Texas. (Photo: LM Otero/AP)

Over the past week, a growing number of schools reopened across Pindostan, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control. Already, schools in Georgia, Indiana and Mississippi have had students test positive for COVID-19, throwing reopening plans into immediate crisis and deepening community spread of the virus. To justify their reckless moves to resume in-person instruction, school district officials are invoking the revised guidelines issued by the CDC on Jul 23. The CDC, which had published weak, non-binding guidelines in May, has recently bowed to political pressure from the Trump administration and is more forcefully advocating the reopening of schools. The body of scientific evidence demonstrates conclusively that it is thoroughly reckless to reopen schools in Pindostan, a fact which has not gone unnoticed by educators and families. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation Poll shows broad public support for keeping schools closed, with 71% of those polled feeling schools do not have adequate resources to reopen safely, and 79% worried that teachers and staff will get sick when schools reopen. The CDC guidelines are based on several mitigation strategies such as mask use and social distancing when “feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs of each community.” These recommendations will mean little in the dilapidated and overcrowded classrooms that are the norm across Pindostan, but they were too onerous for Trump, who tweeted Jul 8 that they were “very tough & expensive.” Pence, chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, added that week:

We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason schools don’t open.

The CDC responded by dutifully publishing what is essentially a political document rationalizing the homicidal campaign to reopen schools titled, “The Importance of Reopening Pindostan’s Schools this Fall.” The document downplays the dangers involved in reopening schools, omitting key studies that disprove their claims and instead relying on studies from early in the pandemic that have been disproven. Of the six sections of the document, only one deals with the actual relationship of COVID-19 to children, while the other five sections deal with the importance of schools to children, as if there were any doubt of that. There is no section dedicated to, and barely even a mention of, the transmissibility of COVID-19 from children to adults or from schools to the broader community. Based on this document, one would think that children teach, feed and bus themselves to school! There is a complete omission of the presence of teachers and other school staff within the buildings and buses. The introductory paragraph states:

The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms.

This assertion is backed up by three citations, all of which are studies published in April. It is true that children appear to be less likely to suffer severe symptoms than adults, yet severe cases do exist among children. The CDC reports that between Feb 1 and Jun 17 there were 13 deaths of children between the ages of 5 and 14. By Jul 15, there were 342 cases across Pindostan of pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, including six deaths. On Tuesday, it was reported that two teenagers in Florida succumbed to the virus, bringing the total number of minors killed by COVID-19 in the state to seven. There have been multiple recent reports of the significant numbers of children who have contracted the virus: 23k children in Florida, 7,573 in Tennessee, 4.9k in Mississippi, and 260 campers and staff members (75% of attendees) at an overnight summer camp in Georgia. In one notorious international example, in Israel the number of new cases had risen from fewer than 50/day two months ago to more than 1.5k/day in early July, primarily attributable to school outbreaks that infected at least 1,335 students and 691 staff. The new CDC document also asserts:

Death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults.

Again, lower does not mean nonexistent, and how many deaths of children is acceptable to the CDC? They state that children “account for under 7% of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1% of COVID-19-related deaths.” Last week, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that the widespread closure of schools in mid-March saved the lives of at least 40.6k people over a 16-day period and prevented 1.37m infections over a 26-day period in the spring. Given that community transmission is now taking place at a far higher rate, the CDC is effectively sanctioning mass death. Particularly pernicious is the CDC’s false comparison between the effects on children of COVID-19, flu and H1N1. It states that while COVID-19 has been responsible for 64 deaths, this is less than each of the last five flu seasons as well as the 358 pediatric deaths from H1N1 over an 18-month period. The implication is that the public should adopt the perspective of “herd immunity” and accept a “reasonable” amount of death akin to that produced by regular seasonal ailments. The comparison to H1N1 does not hold water since the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike the H1N1 threat of 2009-2010, is only getting worse after only seven months in existence and the vast majority of schools have not yet reopened. As to the seasonal flu, the reproductive rate is 1.3 while that of COVID-19 is between 2 and 2.5. This seemingly narrow disparity equates to deaths from the flu of between 20k to 60k people over the course of a year, while COVID-19 has killed over 160k Pindos in just over seven months. The CDC also states:

Transmission among children in schools may be low. There have been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members.

The CDC cites studies from April and May to back up these assertions, ignoring a Jul 16 publication of the CDC’s own journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, of a study from South Korea, the largest of its kind, which showed that children between the ages of 10 and 19 spread the virus as frequently as adults. Since the revised guidelines were published, a series of scientific studies have exploded the claim, demonstrating that children spread the virus at an equal or greater rate than adults. The CDC has made no public statements on these studies or revised their guidelines to align with the latest science. The rest of the CDC document deals with the benefits to children in attending school, including receiving educational instruction, social and emotional skill development, safety, nutrition and physical activity. While mentioned in the agency’s May guidelines, these factors were featured much less prominently, underscoring the political nature and hypocrisy of the revisions. Demagog & Thug politicians alike are shedding crocodile tears at the effects of their own decades-long socially homicidal policies which have resulted in pervasive poverty, hunger and homelessness among children. They have the temerity to suggest that they suddenly care about the well-being of children so much that forcing them back to school during a raging pandemic is an act of charity, and teachers who oppose this are insensitive to the hardships endured by children outside school walls. Last week, Director of the NIAID, Dr Anthony Fauci, echoed these themes when interviewed at the national convention of the Pindo Federation of Teachers. Fauci, in a live-streamed discussion with AFT President Randi Weingarten, admitted:

In many respects, unfortunately, though this may sound a little scary and harsh, I don’t mean it to be that way, is that you’re going to be actually part of the experiment.

There was an immediate outpouring of opposition to Fauci’s statements within the AFT meeting itself, with one teacher commenting:

My students, families, teachers, school/district staff should never be expendable for an experiment.

The incident was also widely denounced on social media. An elementary school music specialist commented in the Oregon for a Safe Return to Campus Facebook group:

Damn, I used to like him but I will not be an unwitting participant in an experiment.

Another responded:

EVERY teacher SHOULD REFUSE, RESIST, and STRIKE, if necessary!

In fact, the Declaration of Helsinki, the research ethics cornerstone document adopted in 1964 in response to the horrors of Nazi human experimentation in WW2, states:

Participation by individuals capable of giving informed consent as subjects in medical research must be voluntary [Article 25]. Such consent is invalid if the potential subject is in a dependent relationship with the physician or may consent under duress [Article 27].

Neither the teachers, dependent upon their districts for their paychecks and health insurance, nor the students who are minors and incapable of giving consent, nor the parents who are threatened with poverty and homelessness if they do not go to work, can “voluntarily” participate in this experiment free from “duress.” Teachers, parents, and all workers must take control of the situation, demanding a nation-wide general strike against the homicidal drive to reopen schools. The working class must be guided by science, not Wall Street’s insatiable need for profit.

Two Florida teenagers die from COVID-19 as schools push to reopen
Alex Johnson, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

Two teenagers in Florida, a 16-year-old female from Miami-Dade County and a 17-year-old male from Manatee County, were added to Florida’s COVID-19 death toll on Monday, according to the Florida Dept of Health. The deaths come a month after a 9-year-old, Kimora Lynum, from Putman County became the youngest child to die from COVID-19 in Florida. As of Monday, 38,171 people under 18 had tested positive for the virus in the state, making Florida one of the states with the largest percentage of child infections. As of this writing, 394 children are currently hospitalized from the virus. Health records of the two teens indicate that neither was considered a travel-related case. Both children were hospitalized during their battle with the illness. The 17-year-old boy died on Sunday at Johns Hopkins All Children’s hospital in St Petersburg. He is the first person under the age of 18 to have died from COVID-19 in Manatee County. The 16-year-old girl died on Jul 29 at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, according to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Dept. The young girl had two preexisting conditions, spina bifida and hydrocephalus. She died of pneumonia brought on by COVID-19, according to official reports. The deaths of these young people come as public schools and universities in Florida and across the country are moving ahead with plans to resume in-person learning. The rise in COVID-19 fatalities and cases over the past several weeks point to the disaster that awaits millions of teachers, students and families if the back-to-school measures are allowed to be pushed through. In an interview on CNN on Monday, Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram spoke about the harmful psychological effects that will undoubtedly affect children if they are permitted to enter schools where sickness and death become commonplace. He called the deaths of the two minors “tragic” and said:

This is part of what we are going to have to deal with as well when you talk about student and children’s mental health.

Pindostan’s ruling class would like the population to believe that schools can be transformed into safe spaces for regular classroom learning in order to facilitate their homicidal back-to-work drive and force working-class parents who can’t afford to leave their children at home back to work in unsafe conditions. The official notion is that younger people are largely excluded from the virus and aren’t likely to transmit it, let alone become infected. However, a mountain of evidence dealing with the nature of coronavirus transmission reveals that this is a blatant lie. Health experts noted back in the early stages of the pandemic that younger demographics were accounting for a sizable portion of hospitalizations. Dr Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard, told reporters as far back as early April that even young patients without underlying health conditions were getting sick as the pandemic raged on. She noted that it was impossible to determine whose health would or would not deteriorate after contracting the virus. She said:

One day they’re okay, the next day they require intubation.

One nurse at Elmhurst Hospital in NYC spoke to the WSWS in April on the conditions within the hospital. At a time when the pandemic was spiraling out of control in the state of New York, with around 30k daily infections being reported at its peak, observers were particularly struck by the number of young people who were checking into the hospital infected with COVID-19 and dying. Speaking of her patients, the nurse said:

I’ve never seen so many young people die. It’s terrible. We’re totally unprepared for this.

Recent data has pointed to a drastic surge of infections among small children and adolescents throughout the course of the pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association released a report Monday documenting an extensive compilation of data from states on child COVID-19 cases. They found that while children represented only 8.8% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, almost 340k have tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. The overall rate for COVID-19 among children is 447 cases per 100k in the population. Over 97k new child cases were reported from Jul 16-30, a staggering 40% increase from the previous period. Young people are increasingly catching the virus in states that are witnessing an immense surge in the pandemic. Alongside tens of thousands of child infections, Florida passed the 500k confirmed case mark earlier this week and saw 245 new deaths on Wednesday. The Florida Dept of Health issued a sobering data analysis last week on pediatric cases. The data showed that from Jul 16-24, nearly 8k more children have contracted the virus, which represents a 34% increase from the previous week. This came after another recent report showed that more children in Florida are requiring hospitalizations than ever before. Over the course of eight days, hospitalizations have increased by 23%, bringing the total number of children hospitalized to over 300. The overall proportion of positive children also increased by 1% from the week before to 14.4%, while the state’s overall positivity rate is 12.6%. Despite these alarming developments which are showcasing the danger of sending children back into schools, Thug Governor Ron DeSantis has continued to push a reckless reopening campaign. In a press conference with Pence last Monday, he reiterated platitudes on the importance of in-person learning:

I really believe that the teachers and the administrators that are there, they serve so many functions in the lives of our kids, particularly those who come from disadvantageous backgrounds.

DeSantis and other proponents of the back-to-school drive have consistently touted the low transmission rate among children as an excuse to send them back into classrooms. However, a study in South Korea last month has poured cold water over such claims. Researchers found that children aged between 10 and 19 can transmit COVID-19 within a household just as much as adults. Additionally, the researchers noted that the highest COVID-19 rate for household contacts of school-age children and the lowest rates for children younger than 9 was in the middle of school closures. They highlight the fact that early school closures, which were a part of broader lockdown procedures, greatly reduced the rate of transmission among younger children. The study said:

Although the detection rate for contacts of preschool-aged children was lower, young children may show higher attack rates when the school closure ends, contributing to community transmission of Covid-19.

For all counties suffering the most severe outbreaks of the virus in Florida, child infection rates were much higher. The test positivity rate for children in Martin County was 25.3% while further south in Miami-Dade County the rate was 19.6%. The rise in infections among children has been evident in other states that have become hotspots for COVID-19 as well. In Texas, for example, there has been an astronomical rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths ever since it lifted lockdown measures and resumed non-essential production. Small children have not been spared from the surge and, in some cases, have tested positive at rates even higher than the elderly. In early July, Texas Health and Human Services unveiled data showing that around 592 children at child day-care centers across the state had tested positive for COVID-19. More than 1.2k staff members in these day-care facilities have also tested positive, bringing the total to nearly 1.8k across 1,131 facilities. For the child cases, this amounts to a 759% increase since early June. The evidence is overwhelmingly 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. 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 we will see more and more preventable and harrowing deaths of youth, students, teachers, parents and other workers. The past seven months have demonstrated that the fight against the pandemic depends upon the independent intervention of the working class. The SEP and its youth and student wing, the IYSSE, call on young people to join their teachers in opposing the homicidal back to work campaign. 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.

Resuming college football driven by financial interests
Andy Thompson, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Wikimedia Commons)

Despite a dramatic increase in new COVID-19 cases in July and expectations of another surge in the fall as schools reopen, Pindo colleges and universities are moving forward with plans to operate their college football programs with minimal changes. It is practically guaranteed that the opening of the 2020 football season and the fall college semester will spark new outbreaks of COVID-19 among players, the general student population and the surrounding communities. The average student is at an even greater risk because, unlike players, they will not have access to the testing or dedicated health resources reserved for athletics. Although ostensibly an amateur competition (although under-the-table bribes are common practice to secure commitments from top high school recruits), college athletics in Pindostan is a multi-billion-dollar business, with attendances and TV audiences equal to and in some cases greater than professional competitions. Top college football coaches, who at public universities are technically state employees, make salaries similar to those of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

In the intense struggle for fan interest and revenue, top schools routinely funnel hundreds of millions into their athletics programs even as their academic infrastructure crumbles. Last year’s football champion, Louisiana State University, receives more in donations each year from alumni to its athletics program than to the actual university. The contrast between its decision to invest millions in a futuristic locker room for the football team and the continuously-flooded basement of the school’s library was widely covered in the press last year. At lower, less lucrative levels of competition, hundreds of programs have already canceled their seasons. All championships for the National College Athletics Association (NCAA)’s Division II and Division III have already been canceled, the sport’s governing body announced yesterday. Many programs in Division I’s lower-level Football Championship Subdivision have also canceled fall sports. But at larger, more lucrative programs, university administrations are proceeding full speed ahead. Many schools have not even made the decision to play without fans. The University of Texas, whose football stadium is in the middle of downtown Austin, one of the most populous cities in the country, plans on playing its home football games in front of 25% capacity crowds, or 25k people. Similar schemes are in the works at the University of Georgia, Ohio State University and other schools. Not even Major League Baseball, whose reckless return to play is on the verge of collapse after several outbreaks, has allowed fans into its stadiums.

In June, the NCAA announced that it would permit schools to allow student athletes to return to campus for summer workouts and pre-season training. Most football programs jumped at the opportunity to get their players back to training, in order not to lose an edge on their competition. Almost immediately, large-scale outbreaks occurred on team rosters. Both reigning champion LSU and the previous year’s champion, Clemson, confirmed over 30 cases each on their teams. The NCAA had stated that athletes would be given access to testing, facilities monitored by health professionals and other amenities to prevent an outbreak among the teams. Despite these measures the results so far have been a disaster. At Rutgers University, nearly 30 football players and several team staffers have tested positive for COVID-19. The players have been sent to quarantine in on-campus dorms, which are often cramped and close-quartered. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told reporters Tuesday that he will not order the university to cancel their season, explaining that the outbreak among players has not changed his previous decision to allow the season to move forward. Murphy insists that the decision to cancel the season is not with him, but with the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference, of which Rutgers is a member. Rutgers stands to lose $50m if the season is canceled. This is actually one of the lower projected losses for a canceled 2020 season. Ohio State would be expected to lose over $104m in revenue should the season be canceled. On Wednesday, the Big Ten put to bed any speculation that the season would be shut down when it released the conference’s 2020 football schedule. It is projected to start on Sep 3 with a contest between Ohio State and the University of Illinois.

The only significant disruptions to football schedules have been the cancellation of out-of-conference games by the Big Ten and the other “Power Five” conferences which monopolize the sport’s revenues. While the ostensible purpose is to provide schools with flexibility to reschedule games, it is more plausible that the pandemic is being seized on as an excuse to further entrench the cartel system which controls the sport’s highest levels. So far, only one top football program, the University of Connecticut, has announced it will not play in the 2020 season. However, even in this case, financial considerations likely play a role, as the school’s football program has been hemorrhaging money for years and the school faces pressure from boosters to abandon football altogether in order to concentrate resources on the school’s more successful and lucrative basketball program. While it is possible that more schools will individually cancel their season in the coming weeks, at this point it does not appear to be the norm. There are growing signs that schools are attempting to cover up outbreaks on their football teams. According to a report by CBS Sports, multiple Colorado State football players and staff members claim the school is attempting to hide an outbreak among the players and threatening students with losing their position on the team if they report symptoms. One student interviewed told CBS:

We had a player who definitely had coronavirus symptoms, coughing at practice and he wasn’t wearing a mask and I was next to him, touching him and there was spit and sweat. I told him he needed to get tested but he really didn’t want to because then he would be out. The next day he is not at practice. He already had spread the virus. That’s why a lot of players don’t feel safe at football practice.

A staff member told CBS:

There are some red flags in the athletic department but the common denominator with this administration is to protect the coaches before the student-athletes and that makes them feel more like cattle.

Resistance to the drive to reopen is emerging among athletes themselves. A group of players in Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) has written an open letter to the NCAA with a list of demands regarding the 2020 season. They write:

Because we are being asked to play college sports in a pandemic in a system without enforced health and safety standards, and without transparency about COVID cases on our teams, the risks to ourselves, our families, and our communities, #WeAreUnited.

The players’ demands include health and safety protections, the ability for students to opt out of the season without consequences, and a prohibition on compulsory COVID liability waivers. They also state their opposition to the shutdown of less profitable sports programs, several of which have been cut from various schools. The letter also calls for an “end to racial injustice in college sports and society” and for “economic freedom and equity.” Specifically, the letter states this would mean players would form a “civic-engagement task force.” They are also demanding that they receive a percentage of sports revenues and rights to accept sponsorship deals, effectively acknowledging them as professional athletes and ending the age-old sham of their “student-athlete” status. Almost immediately after the letter was published, players began being threatened by coaches for organizing opposition to the 2020 season. One player at Washington State, Kassidy Woods, told the NYT that when he called his coach to tell him he wanted to opt out of the season because he had been diagnosed as high risk for sickle cell disease, his position on the team would be at risk. The coach told Woods that his scholarship could be honored for this year because of health reasons, but that if he was part of any organized action against the season that it would be handled differently and his position on the team could not be guaranteed. As of Wednesday morning, players from the Big Ten have released a similar list of demands as the Pac-12. These players also call for protections against COVID-19, and added language calling for students who report symptoms or violations by the school to be protected against repercussions.

Florida governor admits state unemployment system purposefully designed to pay out “least number of claims”
Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

DeSantis with Trump in Dec 2019. (Photo: Shealah Craighead)

Admitting what thousands of jobless workers in Florida, and millions of unemployed around the country already know to be true, Thug Governor Ron DeSantis, in a Tuesday interview with CBS Miami, acknowledged that the state’s unemployment system was designed to frustrate applicants by putting “as many kind of pointless roadblocks along the way” to pay out the “least number of claims.” DeSantis’s remarks came during an hour-long interview in which the governor agreed with reporter Jim DeFede that the “animating philosophy” of the system was to discourage distributing benefits to eligible workers. Roughly 1.5m workers in Florida remain out of work and according to the state’s own claim dashboard over 100k eligible claimants have yet to be paid. Florida’s unemployment system has been plagued, purposefully, with website crashes, technical glitches and system errors which have only been exacerbated as hundreds of thousands of jobless workers began applying in March. Users reported having to enter their personal information dozens of times, only for their profile to disappear or the page to crash. It is not an exaggeration to state that collectively, millions of hours have been wasted by thousands of desperate workers trying to access their funds while millions of dollars and thousands of hours in manpower has likewise been wasted trying to operate a system that was designed not to work.

Unable to navigate the broken website, applicants were told to utilize the phone lines instead. In the last week of March, only 1% of the 864k calls placed were answered. The state and DeSantis hurriedly signed off on and awarded $150m worth of no-bid contracts to call center and technology companies which did little to actually resolve systemic problems. Jobless workers were forced to endure hours-long lines in order to receive paper copies of documentation that couldn’t be accessed on the website, dubbed CONNECT, which had been created by Deloitte Consulting at the cost of nearly $78 million to Florida taxpayers in 2013. On Monday Politico reported that Deloitte was also awarded a state Medicaid modernization contract worth at least $135m. The contract was signed by the head of the Florida Agency for Health-Care Administration, Mary Mayhew, a DeSantis appointee. Of the over 1m Floridians who had applied for the miserly $275/wk benefit in mid-March, a Pew Research Center study conducted at the end of April found that only 8% had received it. Approximately 40% of eligible Floridians who had applied for unemployment were denied and forced to apply again, affecting some 268k people. DeSantis sought to blame the jobless for being unable to navigate the purposefully broken system and for filling out “incomplete forms.” When pushed by reporters during a May press conference as to why thousands of March unemployment filers had yet to receive their funds, DeSantis scoffed at the idea that they even existed, claiming without evidence:

99.99% of those folks have been paid.

Using Tuesday’s interview to obfuscate his role in this crime against the working class, DeSantis meekly vowed “some type of accountability” against those responsible for the system’s implementation, pending the release of an ongoing Inspector-General’s report. However, when DeFede pointed out that a 2019 audit of the Dept of Economic Opportunity had already been conducted and had identified the same flaws that DeSantis was now openly admitting were baked into the system, DeSantis demurred from all talk of accountability, countering:

Nothing ever reached my desk. I was not asked to do anything.

Continuing the theme of not doing anything, Pelosi, Schumer, Mnuchin and Meadows concluded another day of talks Wednesday in which no concrete proposals were agreed upon and no date set for a vote on a new coronavirus pandemic relief bill which would extend federal unemployment benefits, previously set at $600/wk, as well as an eviction moratorium for those living in properties with federally backed mortgages. Meadows vowed that if a deal was not reached by Friday, Trump would take executive action to extend benefits, end the payroll tax and extend the federal moratorium on evictions on his own. Speaking to reporters, Meadows commented:

I’ve been working around-the-clock to look at the options the president has at his disposal within the confines of his legal authority within the executive branch.

After benefits expired last week, roughly 30m workers have seen their incomes slashed between 60% and 80% and according to the Aspen Institute, 23m are at risk of eviction. The Eviction Lab at Princeton University has found that roughly 30 state moratoriums have expired since May. Courts have already resumed evictions in major cities such as Milwaukee, which has seen a 21% increase in eviction filings since June, with nearly 1.5k submitted since May. Speaking to the AP, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee Colleen Foley remarked:

We are sort of a harbinger of what is to come in other places.

Pelosi, who has already signaled her willingness to compromise on cutting unemployment benefits, claimed to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” in regards to a final proposal, however, “how long that tunnel is, remains to be seen.” While the millionaires in Congress and the billionaire in the White House have the luxury of time, for millions of food-insecure workers and their families the need is dire. Data released this past Friday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that staple food prices continued to rise, some by double-digit percentages. Beef and veal have increased in price by 25.1% compared to last year. The price of eggs is up 10.4% since February while poultry and pork are up 8.5% and 8.6%, respectively. The WSWS recently spoke with Leon, an unemployed service worker from Pennsylvania, on the expiration of his benefits. Leon said:

I’m infuriated that Congress wasn’t able to resolve this issue. My situation with food and groceries is now in the air. I’m going to have to be very creative in order to survive.

A former Starbucks employee, Leon was making over three times the income he made while working while on unemployment. He said:

The CEO of Starbucks makes nearly $20k/hr. That’s more than I made in a year.

Leon responded to the claims being endlessly repeated by Demagogs and Thugs that the pandemic benefits are a “disincentive” to work:

My immune system is compromised. I’m not returning to work, pay or no pay. There are no places to go to work, even if I wanted to. What’s available?

Leon spoke about the political situation, which he had been following very closely as the pandemic benefits wound down. He said:

Both Demagogs & Thugs don’t care. I heard that Nancy Pelosi didn’t want to extend benefits for even another week, even though the Republicans and Trump did. Supposedly her reasoning was that the Democrats would rather end the benefits altogether than keep what we had going until there was an agreement in Congress. That makes no sense. It just proves that she hates poor people. She’s actually making Trump and the Thugs look good in this, which is just horrifying.

Two incumbent House members defeated in primary voting
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

Pindostan is a land of deepening social crisis and political turmoil, in which the vast majority of the population opposes Trump and his ultra-right policies and seeks an alternative. But this reality is almost completely obscured by the corporate-controlled two-party system, which suppresses and distorts these popular sentiments. Demagog & Thug primaries in five states on Tuesday Aug 4, provided yet another demonstration of this political reality. These states (Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Arizona and Washington) account for 45 seats in the House of Reps, about 10% of the total, split nearly evenly, 22 Demagogs and 23 Thugs. Only 10 of the 45 seats are considered even remotely competitive, five for each party. In the remaining 35 seats, the party nomination is considered the equivalent of election, as the other capitalist party does not wage a serious campaign, and all other challengers are effectively excluded by the two-party monopoly. Four incumbent representatives did not seek renomination, either retiring from politics or running for higher office. Two of the remaining 41 were defeated, which passes for a political upheaval in the staid precincts of official Pindo politics: Demagog William Lacy Clay of Missouri and Thug Steve Watkins of Kansas. Clay had held his seat for 20 years, succeeding his father, William Lacy Clay Sr, who held the seat for 32 years and was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. The First Congressional District of Missouri covers the entire city of St Louis and its northern suburbs, including the town of Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was murdered by a local cop in 2014. Cori Bush, a nurse and pastor, became active in Black Lives Matter and campaigns against police violence, and came to prominence during the protests against Brown’s murder. She ran against Clay in 2018 with the support of Senator Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but was swamped by Clay’s financial and organizational advantages and lost by 20%. In 2020, Bush was better financed and supported again by Sanders and the Justice Demagogs group, but not by Ocasio-Cortez, who after working with Clay in Congress announced she would remain neutral. In the course of the campaign, Bush played a prominent role in the protests that followed the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. She also contracted coronavirus but recovered.

In the week before the primary, the new prosecutor of St Louis County, who is Black, announced there would be no charges brought against Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson cop who shot Michael Brown to death, further inflaming popular sentiments over police violence. Bush defeated Clay by 49% to 46%, on a turnout that increased slightly from 2018, despite the impact of the pandemic. Bush rolled up a large margin in the city of St Louis, while Clay won more narrowly in the suburban portion of the district. While Missouri is considered a “red state” in capitalist politics, having voted for Republican presidential candidates for the past 20 years, with two Thug senators, a Thug governor and state legislature, voters Tuesday approved an expansion of the Medicaid program that was vehemently opposed by the Thug Party. The referendum to expand Medicaid and incorporate the expansion into the state constitution, making it difficult to overturn or repeal, passed by 52% to 48%, with huge margins in St Louis, Kansas City and their suburbs. Missouri is the sixth Thug-controlled state to expand Medicaid by ballot measure in the past three years. An estimated 200k families will be added to the program as a result. Once Cori Bush enters Congress, a virtual certainty in the heavily Demagog district, she will be considered the fifth member of the “squad,” the group of left-talking, female, minority members which now includes Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. This group has been used to give the Demagog Party a “left” face, even while policy is set by multi-millionaires like Nancy Pelosi and former military-intelligence operatives like Elissa Slotkin, who are far more numerous and influential.

In Michigan, the most populous of the states holding primaries Aug 4, Tlaib won renomination easily, defeating Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. With about 90% of the vote, Tlaib had a 2-1 lead, 63,650 to 32,582. Turnout was much heavier than in 2018, when Tlaib defeated Jones by fewer than 1,000 votes in the contest to succeed John Conyers in the westside Detroit seat. The increased turnout was largely due to mail ballots, which were made available by the state on request because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is notable that Jones had little success with an openly race-based appeal, claiming that the predominately Black district should be represented by a Black congresswoman rather than a Pindo-Palestinian one like Tlaib. Jones received nearly the same vote as in 2018, while Tlaib’s vote more than doubled. While Bernie Sanders and Justice Demagogs celebrated the victory, virtually the entire Demagog political establishment also backed Tlaib, including Pelosi, the AFL-CIO and the UAW. She was also backed by the Wayne County Demagog Black Caucus. In the Grand Rapids-based seat left open by the retirement of Thug Justin Amash, who left the party and supported the impeachment of Trump, Peter Meijer won the Thug primary. A grandson of the founder of the supermarket chain bearing his name, Meijer is a 32-year-old Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, a Thug version of the CIA Demagogs who played a major role in the outcome of the 2018 congressional elections. Statewide, mail-in ballots contributed to a significant increase in turnout. Some 2.1m voters requested absentee ballots for the primary, four times the total for the 2016 primary, and nearly 1.6m ballots were returned, more than in the 2016 general election. Both the counting of the mail ballots and the in-person voting, much reduced and conducted on the basis of social distancing, were carried out without significant problems, according to press reports and state boxtops.

The other representative defeated for renomination Tuesday, Thug Steve Watkins of the Second Congressional District in Kansas, was effectively removed by his own party establishment because he was viewed as vulnerable due to erratic personal behavior. He has been charged with four counts relating to vote fraud because he gave a UPS store as his home address when he registered to vote last year. Given the phony claims of vote fraud emanating from the White House and the Trump reelection campaign, having a Thug candidate indicted for vote fraud was a political embarrassment. State Treasurer Jake LaTurner challenged Watkins for renomination and won the primary easily, 49% to 34%, with a third candidate taking the balance. LaTurner will face the Demagog mayor of Topeka, Michelle De La Isla, for a seat that Watkins won only narrowly in 2018. Also in Kansas, Rep Roger Marshall won the Thug Senate nomination, defeating the fascistic former state official Kris Kobach, who lost the state’s gubernatorial election in 2018 to Demagog Laura Kelly. The Senate seat, held by the retiring Pat Roberts, has been held by the Thug Party for a century. Marshall will face a well-financed Demagog opponent, Dr Barbara Bollier, a longtime Thug state legislator who recently switched parties. One other political event of Aug 4 was the announcement of final results of a handful of close races from the Jun 23 primaries in New York state, where the counting of mail-in ballots was delayed by legal challenges. In one of the wealthiest congressional districts, covering the Upper East Side of Manhattan, 14-term incumbent Carolyn Maloney was declared the Demagog winner over challenger Suraj Patel. In the poorest congressional district in Pindostan, in the South Bronx, city councilman Ritchie Torres won a 12-way race for the Demagog nomination. Trump had repeatedly cited the delay in determining the winner of the Maloney-Patel contest as evidence that mail balloting would lead to months of delay in declaring a winner in the Nov 3 presidential election.

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