tons of horseshit regarding face-masks

Pentagon gives a million masks to IDF for coronavirus use
JPost, Apr 8 2020

A plane carrying over a million surgical masks for the IDF landed in Ben-Gurion airport Tuesday night, in an operation run by the Israeli Department of Defense’s Delegation of Procurement. Limor Kolishevsky, head of the New York Purchasing and Logistics Division said:

In the past two weeks we have purchased and flown to Israel tens of thousands of swabs, masks, protective suits for medical staff and more. A million masks, procured in China, were quickly flown to Israel with the intention that the IDF will be using them within the next few days.

The New York delegation, part of Israel’s national procurement effort for medical equipment to fight the coronavirus, works with a with a wide range of international suppliers to purchase essential medical equipment for the IDF, according to Kolishevsky. The IDF has been playing a central role in the fight against coronavirus in Israel. According to an IDF spox, within the last week, soldiers have packed approximately 1,610,000 food and holiday food packages for Israelis; distributed food packages to 118,635 citizens; and distributed a further 15,000 relief boxes to residents of Bnei Brak, which included dry goods, fruit, vegetables and toilet paper. 18,000 IDF commanders and soldiers are involved in the efforts against the coronavirus in Israel, continuing to assist civilians as required. One of the ways in which they have been helping has been by turning their hands to running residential complexes under the restrictions put in place by the government to slow the rate of the spread of infection. So far, soldiers have been helping at 192 housing groups across the country, and are taking on the management of retirement homes as the residents are particularly vulnerable to the disease. In addition, 12 hotels have been opened, of which eight are for the care of patients with COVID-19, and four for keeping people in isolation. Four of the hotels are for the orthodox population, with 1,044 patients drawn from that group, and a further 578 people from the orthodox community are in isolation. 10,169 blood donations have also been collected from members of the IDF.

Hospitals say feds are seizing masks and other coronavirus supplies without a word
Noam Levey, LA Times, Apr 7 2020

Although Trump has directed states and hospitals to secure what supplies they can, the federal government is quietly seizing orders, leaving medical providers across the country in the dark about where the material is going and how they can get what they need to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Hospital and clinic officials in seven states described the seizures in interviews over the past week. The FEMA is not publicly reporting the acquisitions, despite the outlay of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, nor has the administration detailed how it decides which supplies to seize and where to reroute them. Boxtops who’ve had materials seized also say they’ve received no guidance from the government about how or if they will get access to the supplies they ordered. That has stoked concerns about how public funds are being spent and whether the Trump administration is fairly distributing scarce medical supplies. Dr John Hick, an emergency physician at Hennepin Healthcare in Minnesota who has helped develop national emergency preparedness standards through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, said:

In order to have confidence in the distribution system, to know that it is being done in an equitable manner, you have to have transparency.

The medical leaders on the front lines of the fight to control the coronavirus and keep patients alive say they are grasping for explanations. In Florida, a large medical system saw an order for thermometers taken away. And boxtops at a system in Massachusetts were unable to determine where its order of masks went. A boxtop said:

Are they stockpiling this stuff? Are they distributing it? We don’t know. And are we going to ever get any of it back if we need supplies? It would be nice to know these things. We can’t get answers.

PeaceHealth, a 10-hospital system in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, had a shipment of testing supplies seized recently. Richard DeCarlo, the system’s chief operating officer, said:

It’s incredibly frustrating. We had put wheels in motion with testing and protective equipment to allow us to secure and protect our staff and our patients. When testing went off the table, we had to come up with a whole new plan.

Although PeaceHealth doesn’t have hospitals in the Seattle area, where the first domestic coronavirus outbreak occurred, the system has had a steady stream of potentially infected patients who require testing and care by doctors and nurse in full protective equipment. Trump and Kushner have insisted that the federal government is using a data-driven approach to procure supplies and direct them where they are most needed. In response to questions from the LA Times, a FEMA representative said:

FEMA, working with the DHHS and the DoD, has developed a system for identifying needed supplies from vendors and distributing them equitably, which factors in the populations of states and major metropolitan areas and the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in various locales. High-transmission areas were prioritized, and allocations were based on population, not on quantities requested.

FEMA has refused to provide any details about how these determinations are made, or why it is choosing to seize some supply orders and not others. Admin boxtops also will not say what supplies are going to what states. Using the Defense Production Act, which allows the president to compel the production of vital equipment in a national emergency, Trump last month ordered General Motors to produce ventilators to address shortfalls at hospitals. The law also empowers federal agencies to place orders for critical materials and to see that those get priority over orders from private companies or state and local governments. Experts say judicious use of this authority could help bring order to the medical supply market by routing critical material, such as ventilators, masks and other PPE, from suppliers to the federal government and then to areas of greatest need, such as New York. Yet there is little indication that federal boxtops are controlling the market, as hospitals, doctors and others report paying exorbitant prices or resorting to unorthodox maneuvers to get what they need. Hospital and health officials describe an opaque process in which federal officials sweep in without warning to expropriate supplies. Jose Camacho, who heads the Texas Assn. of Community Health Centers, said his group was trying to purchase a small order of just 20,000 masks when his supplier reported that the order had been taken. Camacho was flabbergasted. Several of his member clinics, which as primary care centers are supposed to alleviate pressure on overburdened hospitals, are struggling to stay open amid woeful shortages of protective equipment. Noting Trump’s repeated admonition that states and local health systems cannot rely on Washington for supplies, Camacho said:

Everyone says you are supposed to be on your own. Then to have this happen, you just sit there wondering what else you can do. You can’t fight the federal government.

Israeli govt makes masks in public compulsory, tightens travel restrictions
RT Newsline, Apr 7 2020

Israeli government issued orders on Tuesday making the wearing of masks in public compulsory. Trying to stem the spread of the coronavirus, it also approved a timeline for tightened travel restrictions for the Passover holiday, which begins on Wednesday.  PM Netanyahu has said that this year the festive dinner should be a small affair, limited to household members. Last week, the PM urged Israelis to wear masks while in public. The government says this measure will become compulsory as of Sunday. Children under the age of six, the mentally disabled or those alone in vehicles or workplaces are exempted. Masks could be homemade. From Tuesday evening until Friday morning, a ban on unnecessary out-of-town travel will be in place, effectively preventing large gatherings of family and friends. Israel has more than 9,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with sixty people having died, Reuters said.

Marine Corps says Marines won’t be allowed to wear N95 or surgical masks, even if they own them
Paul Szoldra, Task & Purpose, Apr 7 2020

The Marine Corps on Monday ordered all its personnel to start wearing cloth face coverings to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), but restricted Marines from wearing masks with higher levels of protection, such as surgical and N95 masks. In an administrative message that followed a Pentagon order to wear face coverings, the Corps directed all individuals on its property and installations to wear cloth face coverings that are “conservative in appearance, not offensive, and conform to CDC guidance.” Marines are encouraged to make their own face coverings, but are not allowed to “procure or wear” surgical masks or N95 masks, the message said, since those are “reserved for appropriate personnel.” Among the do-it-yourself masks the Corps recommends are issued balaclavas, neck gaiters, or uniform green t-shirts fashioned into face coverings. Full masks, which the message said included surgical masks, N95 respirators, ski masks, and issued gas masks, “are not authorized.” the message said:

Cloth face covers shall NOT be substituted with surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are personal protective equipment (PPE) and must be reserved for use in medical settings. Cloth face covers and PPE are integrated into a larger system of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to limit transmission of infection.

The message did not include exceptions for people who may have previously purchased their own surgical or N95 masks. A Marine official told Task & Purpose the order indeed restricted Marines from wearing masks that could potentially better protect them from the virus, even if they had been purchased before the outbreak. A Marine Corps spox told Task & Purpose in an emailed statement:

The Marine Corps considers N95 masks to be prioritized for medical personnel or first responders on the front lines of the pandemic response. The guidance outlined in the MARADMIN is intended to assist with the optimization strategies of the PPE supply chain published by the CDC. To the extent practical, the Marine Corps will support these strategies. The intent is to avoid Marines attempting to procure these supplies and further interrupting the supply chain.

Surgical masks can block large-particle droplets, splashs and sprays that may contain germs from reaching the mouth and nose, according to the FDA. Even better protection comes from N95 respirators, which fit closer to the face and can block at least 95% of very small particles. Pindostan has seen a shortage in masks and other personal protective gear in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. FEMA has nearly exhausted its own strategic reserve to supplement states’ dwindling stockpiles of protective equipment, while the Trump administration has used the Defense Production Act to mobilize private industry to make additional masks. The Marine Corps had 78 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within its ranks as of Tuesday. There have been 2,449 total cases across the DoD, and seven deaths.

Turkey hopes to become first country to distribute free masks to entire nation
Borzou Daragahi, Independent, Apr 7 2020

Turkey has launched an ambitious programme to get free surgical masks into the hands of all the nation’s 82 million residents in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus while allowing the country’s tattered economy to recover. This week Turkey launched a website where both citizens and official residents can register to receive five free surgical masks per week delivered by the national postal service. On Friday, Erdogan announced new rules requiring all those in workplaces or markets to wear masks. He later banned the sale of the masks amid accusations of price-gouging. Videos posted on social media showed bus drivers handing out free masks to passengers as they boarded. Turkey’s parliament in Ankara convened on Tuesday to discuss a coronavirus prisoner release law with lawmakers, journalists and council staff all wearing masks. Erdogan was quoted as saying late Monday:

We have enough mask stock and production plans for all of our citizens until the outbreak ends. As the state, we are determined to provide free masks to all our citizens.

COVID-19 has killed at least 725 people in Turkey, a death toll second only to Iran in the Middle East. At least 34,000 people have tested positive for the virus. Strong anecdotal evidence suggests three-ply surgical masks that include a layer of bonded material reduce the rate of coronavirus infection in Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Austria ordered all shoppers to wear masks, and Morocco recently made it mandatory to wear masks in public, selling them at a subsidised rate. Turkey has shut down schools and ordered all residents over 65-years-old or under 20 to remain confined to their homes. But Erdogan has vowed to keep the wheels of production turning, and many businesses, factories and construction sites remain operating, to the chagrin of some opposition politicians who have demanded a more stringent lockdown. Erdogan said on Monday:

Every factory that can work will continue to work. Our farmers will not leave their land uncultivated.

The ban on sales of the masks potentially kills off a lucrative source of income for pharmacies and medical supply companies which have jacked up prices for the products amid unprecedented global demand. Turkey is one of the world’s leading producers of medical personal protective equipment. Erdogan has also announced the construction of two 1,000-bed hospitals to treat pandemic patients in Istanbul, the city hardest hit by the virus. Opposition figures claimed credit for both the free masks programme and the hospitals, but nonetheless praised the government for taking up the ideas. Canan Kaftancıoglu, head of the Istanbul branch of the opposition People’s Republican Party, wrote on Twitter that the country’s 13,000 to 14,000 postal delivery people weren’t enough to distribute the masks.

Vietnam donates 550,000 masks to 5 EU states to support coronavirus fight
RT Newsline, Apr 7 2020

Vietnam donated 550,000 face masks to five European countries on Tuesday to support their fight against the coronavirus. The masks, made of antimicrobial fabric, were handed to the ambassadors of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain in Hanoi, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Vietnam has reported 245 coronavirus cases in the country, with no deaths, Reuters reports. Hanoi has also donated masks and other medical equipment to other countries, including China, Cambodia and Laos. Last week, Vietnam asked its mask producers to step up their production to make five million masks a day.

Pindostan denies hijacking Chinese medical supplies meant for Brazil
Lisandra Paraguassu, Reuters, Apr 7 2020

BRASILIA – The Pindo ambassador to Brazil on Tuesday denied reports that the Pindo government took over Chinese supplies of medical equipment that were ordered by Brazil to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Brazilian Health Minister Mandetta said last week China had ditched some Brazilian equipment orders when the Pindo government sent more than 20 cargo planes to the country to buy the same products. Local media also reported that a shipment of supplies destined for the Brazilian state of Bahia was diverted for use in Pindostan during a stopover in Miami after suppliers were offered higher prices. Ambassador Todd Chapman told reporters in a conference call:

The Pindo government did not buy or block any material destined for Brazil. Those reports are false. We have investigated this.

Chapman, who arrived in Brasilia last week, said suppliers around the world were taking advantage of the huge demand for medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, gloves and masks. Mandetta said last week Brazilian states are well stocked for now, but Brazil had to turn to several countries before it China accepted its $228m order to restock. Brazil’s education minister has also accused Chinese suppliers of profiteering on the pandemic, but later said he would apologize if China agreed to sell Brazil 1,000 ventilators. While Pindostan has rapidly become the epicenter of the global pandemic, the number of confirmed cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in Brazil has doubled in the last six days to 12,056, with 553 related deaths. Chapman, who served as deputy head of the Pindo embassy in Brasilia from 2011-2014, said the Trump administration is considering suspending all flights to Brazil, but no decision has been taken yet. he said:

It is important to protect our country and it is important for Brazil too. We are evaluating this constantly in talks with Brazilian authorities.

Pindo airlines have drastically cut back operations in Latin America, but Chapman said there are still 16 flights a week to Brazil. Brazilian authorities last week banned entry of Pindo citizens who are not residents of Brazil.

Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19
WHO, Apr 6 2020 (pdf, abridged by moi – RB)

This document provides advice on the use of masks in communities, during home care, and in health care settings in areas that have reported cases of COVID-19. Current information suggests that the two main routes of transmission of the COVID-19 virus are respiratory droplets and contact. Respiratory droplets are generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Any person who is in close contact (within 1 m) with someone who has respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing) is at risk of being exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets. Droplets may also land on surfaces where the virus could remain viable. Thus the immediate environment of an infected individual can serve as a source of transmission (contact transmission). Current evidence suggests that most disease is transmitted by symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed cases. The incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, but can be as long as 14 days. During this period, also known as the “pre-symptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious and therefore transmit the virus to others. In a small number of reports, pre-symptomatic transmission has been documented through contact-tracing efforts and enhanced investigation of clusters of confirmed cases. This is supported by data suggesting that some people can test positive for COVID-19 from 1-3 days before they develop symptoms. Thus it is possible that people infected with COVID-19 could transmit the virus before symptoms develop. Pre-symptomatic transmission still requires the virus to be spread via infectious droplets or through touching contaminated surfaces.

In this document medical masks are defined as surgical or procedure masks that are flat or pleated (some are shaped like cups); they are affixed to the head with straps. They are tested according to a set of standardized test methods that aim to balance high filtration, adequate breathability and optionally, fluid penetration resistance. Wearing a medical mask is one of the prevention measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19. However, the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection, and other measures should also be adopted. The use of a medical mask can prevent the spread of infectious droplets from an infected person to someone else and potential contamination of the environment by these droplets. There is limited evidence that wearing a medical mask by healthy individuals in the households or among contacts of a sick patient, or among attendees of mass gatherings may be beneficial as a preventive measure. There is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19. Medical masks should be reserved for health-care workers. The use of medical masks in the community may create a false sense of security, with neglect of other essential measures such as hand hygiene practices and physical distancing, and may lead to touching the face under the masks and under the eyes, result in unnecessary costs, and take masks away from those in health-care who need them most, especially when masks are in short supply.

Persons with symptoms should wear a medical mask, self-isolate and seek medical advice as soon as they start to feel unwell. Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. It is important to note that early symptoms for some people infected with COVID-19 may be very mild. Persons with symptoms should follow instructions on how to put on, take off, and dispose of medical masks, and follow all additional preventive measures, in particular, hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance from other persons. All persons should avoid groups of people and enclosed, crowded spaces; maintain physical distance of at least 1m from other persons, in particular from those with respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing; perform hand hygiene frequently; cover their nose and mouth with a bent elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing, dispose of the tissue immediately after use, and perform hand hygiene; refrain from touching their mouth, nose, and eyes. In some countries masks are worn in accordance with local customs or in accordance with advice by national authorities in the context of COVID-19. In these situations, best practices should be followed about how to wear, remove and dispose of them. The wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks. WHO offers the following advice to decision makers so they apply a risk-based approach. Decisions makers should consider the following:

  1. Purpose of mask use: the rationale and reason for mask use should be clear, whether it is to be used for source control (used by infected persons) or prevention of COVID-19 (used by healthy persons);
  2. Risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus in the local context: current epidemiology about how widely the virus is circulating (clusters of cases versus community transmission), as well as local surveillance and testing capacity (contact-tracing and follow-up, ability to carry out testing).
  3. ­Whether the individual is working in close contact with public, such as community health worker or cashier;
  4. Vulnerability of the person/population to develop severe disease or be at higher risk of death, e.g. people with co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus, and older people;
  5. Setting in which the population lives in terms of population density, the ability to carry out physical distancing (on a crowded bus), and risk of rapid spread (closed settings, slums, camps/camp-like settings);
  6. Availability and costs of the mask, and tolerability by individuals;
  7. Type of mask: medical mask versus non-medical mask.

In addition to these factors, potential advantages of the use of mask by healthy people in the community setting include reducing potential exposure risk from infected persons during the “pre-symptomatic” period. However, the following potential risks should be carefully taken into account in any decision-making process:

  • self-contamination that can occur by touching and reusing contaminated mask;
  • depending on type of mask used, potential breathing difficulties;
  • false sense of security, leading to potentially less adherence to other preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene;
  • diversion of mask supplies and consequent shortage of mask for health-care workers;
  • diversion of resources from effective public health measures, such as hand hygiene.

WHO stresses that it is critical that medical masks and respirators be prioritized for health-care workers. The use of masks made of other materials such as cotton fabric, also known as non-medical masks, in the community setting has not been well evaluated. There is no current evidence to make a recommendation for or against their use in this setting. Decision-makers may be moving ahead with advising the use of non-medical masks. Where this is the case, the following features related to non-medical masks should be taken into consideration:

  • Numbers of layers of fabric/tissue;
  • Breathability of material used;
  • Water repellence/hydrophobic qualities;
  • Shape of mask;
  • Fit of mask.

For COVID-19 patients with mild illness, hospitalization may not be required. Persons with suspected COVID-19 or mild symptoms should self-isolate if isolation in a medical facility is not indicated or not possible; perform hand hygiene frequently; keep a distance of at least 1 m from other people; wear a medical mask as much as possible. The mask should be changed at least once daily. Avoid contaminating surfaces with saliva, phlegm or respiratory secretions. Improve airflow and ventilation in the living space by opening windows and doors as much as possible. Care-givers or those sharing living space with persons suspected of COVID-19 or with mild symptoms should perform hand hygiene frequently; keep a distance of at least 1 m from the affected person when possible; wear a medical mask when in the same room as the affected person; dispose of any material contaminated with respiratory secretions (disposable tissues) immediately after use and then perform hand hygiene. Improve airflow and ventilation in the living space by opening windows as much as possible.

Health-care workers should wear a medical mask when entering a room where patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are admitted, and use a particulate respirator at least as protective as N95, EU standard FFP2 or equivalent. One study that evaluated the use of cloth masks in a health-care facility found that health-care workers using cotton cloth masks were at increased risk of infection compared with those who wore medical masks. Therefore, cotton cloth masks are not considered appropriate for health-care workers. As for other PPE items, if production of cloth masks for use in health-care settings is proposed locally in situations of shortage or stock out, a local authority should assess the proposed PPE according to specific minimum standards and technical specifications. For any type of mask, appropriate use and disposal are essential to ensure that they are effective and to avoid any increase in transmission. The following information on the correct use of masks is derived from practices in health-care settings. Place the mask carefully, ensuring it covers the mouth and nose, and tie it securely to minimize any gaps between the face and the mask. Avoid touching the mask while wearing it. Remove the mask using the appropriate technique: do not touch the front of the mask but untie it from behind. After removal or whenever a used mask is inadvertently touched, perform hand hygeine. Replace masks as soon as they become damp with a new clean dry mask. Do not re-use single-use masks. Discard single-use masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removal.

Jared Kushner Faces Backlash for Saying ‘Our Stockpile’ Is Not Meant to Be ‘States’ Stockpiles’
Meaghan Ellis, IJR, Apr 3 2020

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner is facing backlash for his remarks about the federal government’s stockpile of medical supplies. Kushner discussed during Thursday’s press conference how he has been working with FEMA to ensure supply chain management for the coronavirus response efforts. While discussing the supply chain, Kushner offered details about the federal stockpile, insisting that supply is not to be the “states stockpiles.” Kushner said:

The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.

He went on to say that the coronavirus crisis has shed light on the leaders that are “better managers than others,” and to criticize some of the governors as he questioned if they are aware of the medical supplies they already have in their states. He said:

When you have governors saying that the federal government hasn’t given them what they need, I would encourage you to ask them, have you looked within your state to make sure you haven’t been able to find the resources?

Kushner’s stockpile remarks have drawn criticism and confusion from many Twitter users who disagree with his stance on who should be allowed to use supplies in the federal stockpile. On multiple occasions, Trump has also blamed states for supply shortages. Despite the federal government having a stockpile, Trump and Kushner both agree local health departments should look to their state officials for supplies first, not the federal government. During a previous coronavirus press briefing, Trump criticized governors, saying:

Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work, and they are doing a lot of this work. The Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.

joshua rogin is the very epitome of a jew-nazi, but he preaches his hate & contempt in the name of pindostan

Anti-China Hysteria Is Ultimately Not About COVID-19, Racism Or Communism, But Power
Caitlin Johnstone, Apr 8 2020

In a recent article falsely titled “The Pindo-China propaganda war is on hold, but not for long,” the WaPo’s Josh Rogin made a very interesting admission. Rogin said:

Pindostan is now in dire need of medical supplies, many of which are coming from China. If China’s leaders are willing to stop telling lies about us, we can pause pointing out the most embarrassing truths about them.

Wait, sorry, “us”? “We”? Rogin wasn’t quoting any Pindo boxtops. He was referring, in the first person plural, to the Pindo government, because he apparently sees himself as a part of it. He sees himself and others like him as an extension of the Pindo government’s narrative control campaign, the branch that is responsible for distributing “truths” in Pindostan’s propaganda war to counter China’s “lies”. He sees himself as a state propagandist. Which, of course, he is. The devoutly neoconservative Rogin consistently advances hawkish narratives against nations which have resisted absorption into the blob of the Pindocentric empire, and he is showing no hesitation in running point on the new escalations in the narrative control campaign against China. This is because Pindostan has been steering a collision course toward aggressive confrontation with China for a long time now, and the narrative managers need to manufacture consent for that horrific eventuality.

Passage’s David Mastracci has a very worthwhile new article out, titled “Don’t Blame China For Your Government’s COVID-19 Failures,” exposing what Rogin calls “embarrassing truths” about China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic for the distorted spin jobs that they are and highlighting the fact that the difficulties Pindos are currently facing is due to their own governments failures, not China’s. Mastracci writes:

Those who aren’t in power, such as right-wing journalists, realize their neoliberal ideology is unequipped to deal with the pandemic, and therefore is under attack. They won’t abandon their views, so they have to shift blame to an outside country with an ideology that is different in the right way. Attacking China clearly serves this purpose and offers a chance for anti-communism, which as Parenti notes, people have been primed to hate for more than a century.

This is much closer to the truth than anything you’ll read in any mass media publication. This virus is brutally highlighting all the insanity of the neoliberal status quo upon which the Pindo empire is built, and that status quo is indeed premised upon shutting down all leftward political movement which could potentially inconvenience plutocrats and war profiteers. Much of what we’re hearing from leading pundits of both major parties these days can be accurately translated as a wailing temper tantrum about their entire worldview crashing to an embarrassing faceplant in front of the whole world. But even that doesn’t really cover it. If you ask a leftist what the west’s sudden uptick in anti-China hysteria is about, they might say racism, xenophobia and/or anti-communism. If you ask a rightist, they might tell you it’s because China lied about the virus, or because of communism, or because of China’s economic relationship with Pindostan, or because it’s a backwards culture of people who eat different animals from us. If you ask someone who occupies the mainstream so-called “center”, they might tell you that it’s because of humanitarian concerns about China’s oppressive government, along with racism or some mixture of the aforementioned claims. Ultimately though, it’s not about any of those things. While racism, xenophobia, anti-communism, free trade deals, authoritarianism and the virus are all real concerns which play a real role in the propaganda campaign, it’s not ultimately about any of them. Ultimately, like so much else, this is about power.

There can only be one top dog in a unipolar world. After the fall of the Soviet Union the prevailing philosophy slowly coalesced among Pindo policy-makers that the world’s only remaining superpower needed to remain that way at any cost in order to preserve the so-called liberal world order. This philosophy rose to dominance when the neoconservatives took over the Executive Branch during the Bush 43 administration, and from there their ideas simply became the mainstream orthodoxy. Now the “unipolarity at any cost” ideology of neoconservatism is so pervasive that when you see someone like Tulsi Gabbard basically just advocating for pre-9/11 Pindo foreign policy, you see them demonized as though they supported child cannibalism. Napoleon Bonaparte once said:

China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world.

Preventing the rise of China (and its loose network of unabsorbed allies like Russia) has been a lasting agenda of the western world for generations, and the continuation of this agenda has set the world on a trajectory toward aggressive confrontation. Pindostan has been surrounding China with military bases, many of them nuclear-armed, in preparation for a confrontation that it sees as ultimately inevitable, since China has no interest in being absorbed into the Pindo power alliance and Pindostan has no interest in allowing China to surpass it as a superpower. What this means for us ordinary people is that we have found ourselves smashed between steadily increasing escalations between two nuclear-armed nations and their nuclear-armed allies hurtling toward a confrontation which benefits none of us in the slightest, while propagandists spoon feed us narratives about why this is something we should eventually support. It doesn’t have to be this way. China doesn’t have to be the “sleeping giant” that we all fear. We don’t have to live in a world where nuclear-armed governments duel for planetary domination without our consent or permission and roll the dice on nuclear armageddon with greater and greater frequency each passing day. We don’t have to live in a world where the emergence of a new disease which kills human beings is seen as a tool to be exploited in a propaganda war instead of a problem to be solved together. We could all just get along and work together to create a better world for each other and for our ecosystem. People will say this is unrealistic and unreasonable, but unrealistic and unreasonable as opposed to what? A few idiots waving armageddon weapons at each other because the other guys are standing on the wrong segment of dirt? A bunch of sociopaths pushing for the advancement of an omnicidal, ecocidal paradigm in service of an imaginary monetary system? Sounds like they’re the unreasonable and unrealistic ones to me. Napoleon Bonaparte said China is a sleeping giant, but I know a bigger one. It’s all of us ordinary people who are sick of being crushed, exploited and imperiled by a few psychos who only care about power. All of us around the world, regardless of what dirt we stand on or what color our skin is or what political party they tell us we belong to. When we awaken, baby, that’s when the earth will shake.

How coronavirus is fuelling Pindo hate
Joseph Massad, Middle East, Apr 2 2020

Hate is as Pindo as apple pie. Racist white Pindos, both liberal and conservative, love to hate white and non-white Pindos, and they love to hate non-Pindos, white or otherwise. They hated Native Americans when they conquered and killed them and stole their lands (an ongoing process, even in the time of corona). They hated Africans when they enslaved them and after they set them free, as they still do in the age of the New Jim Crow. They hate non-white immigrants, and made sure Obama rounded up three million “illegals” among them, before Trump continued the racist campaign. But they also hated white Pindo-Germans during WW1, and hated them again alongside Pindo-Japanese during WW2, putting more than 130.000 of them in concentration camps. Since then, racist white Pindo hatred has manifested against all victims of Pindo imperialism, from the Indochinese to the Latin Americans to the Arabs and then the Muslims, and to rivals of Pindo power, mainly the Russians and later the Chinese. But it would be unfair to just speak of racist white Pindo hatred. Racist British, Australians and white Europeans, more generally, also love to hate, and often echo Pindo white racism and outdo it by leaps and bounds. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, anti-Chinese racist tweets reportedly increased tenfold. In light of Trump’s racist campaign against the Covid-19 virus, the FBI warned of an increase in hate crimes against Pindo-Asians:

Three Pindo-Asian family members, including a two-year-old and six-year-old, were stabbed. The suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus.

The hatred is such that even Gregg Orton, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, deflected it from Pindo-Asians onto China:

Maybe it is China’s fault or the government’s fault. There will be a time and place for that conversation. But right now we’re in the thick of this, and we have to be mindful of the language we’re using.

Aside from “Chinese virus,” other names by which coronavirus is known inside the corridors of the White House include “kung flu.” Some Pindo politicians and racist commentators have placed the blame on Chinese dietary habits as the source of the virus. This type of racism does not account for how white Western dietary habits, strange as they are to non-Westerners, “contribute to the spread of everything from mad cow disease in England to E Coli” in Pindostan. Black Pindo journalist Elie Mystal wondered if these racist white Pindos, including bigoted Texas Senator John Cornyn, who put the blame for the virus on the Chinese diet, would object if E Coli were referred to as “Pindo Pooping Cowboy Plague.” But if liberal Pindo Demagogs and some in the liberal Pindo media criticise Trump’s anti-Chinese racism, they rush in turn to spew more liberal hate towards China (and Cuba, Russia, Iran and Venezuela) with the same old juvenile jealousy characteristic of overall Pindo political and intellectual culture during the heyday of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. While much of the world is heaping accolades on China’s success in containing the virus and its magnanimity in helping other countries suffering from the pandemic (compared to the very stingy Germany and France, let alone Pindostan & Eurostan), the interminably jealous liberal Pindo media features articles about the evils of Chinese motives, if not China’s alleged untrustworthiness in having successfully combatted the deadly virus. Meanwhile, envious of the far superior Cuban health system, the Pindo State Dept is busy maligning Cuban doctors who have been dispatched around the world to help afflicted countries, such as Italy, to manage their outbreaks. Russia also continues to be the recipient of vile propaganda, revived with much venom in the liberal Pindo media, which continues to wail uncontrollably over the defeat of its preferred incompetent, neoliberal and hateful candidate, Hillary Clinton, in the last Pindo presidential election. Clinton’s hatred manifested famously in her reference to poor whites who supported Trump as “deplorables.” As for Trump, finding none among his liberal detractors willing to praise him, he has no choice but to heap praise on himself and his performance during the pandemic. Trump is in keeping with white Pindo cultural tradition, which, as Alexis de Tocqueville had identified in the 19th century, was this:

Pindos in their intercourse with strangers appear impatient of the smallest censure, and insatiable of praise. They unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. Their vanity is not only greedy, but restless and jealous.

The pandemic has exposed Pindostan and its neoliberal vassals in Eurostan as sham countries, not only unable to save their own populations from the pandemic, but also actively contributing to deaths and suffering due to their neoliberal economies and liberal intellectuals’ decades-long defence of neoliberal presidents and their policies, which have destroyed the Pindo welfare state and its health sector. Here I am not speaking of supporters of Reagan, the Bushes and Trump, but rather of the liberal apologists for the neoliberal policies of the male and female Clintons and of Obama, who is still hoping to inflict his wife Michelle on the Pindo creeple as a future president, Michelle’s persistent and unconvincing denials notwithstanding. Meanwhile, Pindo imperial policy has found another opportunity in the coronavirus pandemic to express its aggressive hate and intensify efforts to destroy its enemies in Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and Nicaragua, all with the help of liberal media outlets, which otherwise have been at the forefront of anti-Trump, Clintonite propaganda since the 2016 election. The media is full of schadenfreude against Iran, claiming that an incompetent Iranian government is responsible for the outbreak, instead of blaming the ongoing and increasing Pindo sanctions that are preventing the country from buying medical supplies. Indeed, an article in the liberal ForeignPolicy.com, seeking to kill two birds with one stone, revelled in also blaming the Chinese for the outbreak in Iran:

The most damning indictment of Iran’s crisis response came on Feb 24, when Mohammad Hossein Bahreini, the president of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, in an interview with the state-run Iranian Students’ News Agency, admonished that the ‘presence of 700 Chinese clerical students in the Qom Seminary prepared the ground for dissemination’ of the coronavirus all over Iran.

As for Venezuela, amid the pandemic, Pindostan in its white colonial cowboy tradition issued an indictment against elected Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his aides on trumped-up charges of narcoterrorism, offering a bounty for their capture. The mostly white and Demagog Party-controlled Congress has in turn taken time away from the pandemic to pass without one opposing vote a bill seeking to topple the democratically-elected government of Nicaragua. For its part, Israel’s hatred of the Israeli-conquered and colonised Palestinians is translating into the pandemic threatening the collaborator PA-run areas of the West Bank and Israeli-besieged Gaza, where COVID-19 could overrun the densely populated, open-air prison, let alone Israel’s actual prisons, housing 5,000 Palestinians, among whom the infection could be spreading. In the time of corona, Israel’s murder of Palestinians and theft of their lands are proceeding apace. If love is the parallel sickness to cholera in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s famed novel, then racist white Pindo hate, or at least Trump’s, some have suggested, is the sickness paralleling corona. What is missed in this analogy is the fact that white Pindo racist hatred and imperial aggression (let alone European racism and Israeli colonial and racist hatred of Palestinians) preceded and will surely succeed the pandemic, as much as they continue in their ferocity during its spread. Indeed, hate in the time of corona is the same as in other times. The pandemic is nothing except yet another occasion for imperial violence and hate to proceed unhindered.

the gates of hell have opened and the devils are running loose on earth

Israel is responsible for Palestinians’ right to health
Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, Apr 7 2020

Israel has repeatedly attacked Palestinian medics, who are now responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

UN officials are gently nudging Israel to do more for Palestinians as they attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Nikolai Mladenov, the UN’s Middle East peace envoy, said that Israel and the international community should help the PA in the wake of “the grave economic consequences” of COVID-19.

This treatment of Israel as a benefactor, rather than as an occupier with specific obligations under international humanitarian law, is yet another example of how the UN normalizes and facilitates a fundamentally unjust situation. It obscures Israel’s direct role in the de-development of the Palestinian economy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as though it is a passive bystander to what happens in those territories. UN officials as senior as Sec-Gen António Guterres have lauded the joint efforts between the Israeli military and the PA to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Israel is praised despite all it has done to harm the capacity of the Palestinian health sector, whether it be by attacking paramedics, bombing and storming hospitals, depriving hospitals of fuel and preventing the import of medicines and equipment, or generally impoverishing the population of Gaza and making the territory an unlivable place. As the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem stated on Tuesday:

The dire state of the Palestinian healthcare system is a direct outcome of decades of Israeli occupation. Israel, as the occupying power, is directly responsible for the health of Palestinians living under its rule. This responsibility includes responding to emergency needs, providing essential medical care and equipment, and implementing protective measures to prevent contamination.

While its military boasts of its efforts to deliver food to elderly Israeli settlers who are isolating at home, Israel actively undermines Palestinian capacity to respond to the pandemic. A primary hindrance is Israel’s siege on Gaza, now in its 13th year. On Tuesday, 19 human rights groups called on Israel to immediately lift the blockade so that “Gaza can equip itself with the necessary medical supplies.” In contrast to UN officials who call on Israel to “help” the Palestinian Authority, these same rights groups make it clear that Israel must loosen its chokehold on the Palestinian economy. the groups state:

Israel should remove barriers to movement of goods and any other impediments on trade and economic activity that harm public health. It should also actively maintain a steady supply of electricity and fuel so that hospitals and the general population can maintain reasonable levels of hygiene.

It is not enough to appeal to Israeli magnanimity when international law makes clear its responsibilities to the Palestinians who live under its military rule. As the human rights groups state:

Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically provides that an occupier has the duty of ensuring and maintaining the ‘adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.’

If the coronavirus spreads further in the West Bank, where there have already been 247 confirmed cases, causing one death, and spreads beyond the 13 cases under quarantine in Gaza, Israel will bear direct responsibility. There are well-founded fears that any community spread of the coronavirus in Gaza would prove a catastrophefor its health-care system. The relatively low number of cases in Gaza and the West Bank may reflect the lack of available testing. As of Monday, only about 1,500 people had been tested among Gaza’s population of two million. The number of actual cases may spike as Palestinians who work as laborers in Israel return to the West Bank during Passover, which begins on Wednesday evening. As of Tuesday, Israel had reported more than 9,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths. The rights groups state:

In addition to its own citizens and residents, Israel must also fulfill its duty to all protected persons living under its effective control, including in Gaza, and take active steps to ensure that they have adequate access to medical care.

Israel is failing to fulfill its responsibilities toward Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, occupied territory illegally annexed by Israel. Moshe Leon, Israel’s mayor of Jerusalem, has accused Israel’s health ministry of neglecting Palestinian hospitals in the eastern sector of the city, bringing them to the brink of collapse. Leon stated in a letter to the ministry:

I would like to warn you regarding the serious shortage of medical equipment at the hospitals in East Jerusalem, particularly protective equipment and equipment to conduct coronavirus testing. This is despite repeated promises on the part of your ministry.

Not only is Israel not adequately equipping Jerusalem hospitals serving Palestinian residents, but its police are arresting PA boxtops for coordinating coronavirus response efforts in the city. Fadi al-Hidmi, the PA Jerusalem affairs minister, was arrested during a violent raid on his East Jerusalem home before dawn last Friday. He was questioned and released without charge.

The Israeli police spox said al-Hidmi was arrested “on suspicions of Palestinian activities in Jerusalem.” Al-Hidmi filed a complaint this week alleging that he was beaten by officers who “forced him to wear a dirty and bloody mask,” Haaretz reported. Israel has criminalized any PA presence in Jerusalem and has repeatedly arrested al-Hidmi since he took up his post last year. Adnan Ghaith, the PA governor of Jerusalem, was arrested on Monday. He too has been arrested several times over the past year. The police spox gave the same justification for Ghaith’s arrest as it did al-Hidmi. A judge rejected a police request to extend Ghaith’s arrest on Monday. According to Haaretz:

The judge ruled that Ghaith’s activity complies with health ministry guidelines and was also intended to disseminate information among residents which does not violate the law,.

Adalah, which advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, is demanding that Israel “provide coronavirus testing for residents of Palestinian towns in Upper Galilee.” Adalah is also calling on Israel to make public “essential coronavirus data for towns with less than 5,000 residents.” As B’Tselem states:

Israel is responsible for the health of all 14 million people who live under its control between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

No-one should be surprised that Israel has not lived up to that responsibility. Disparities in health between Israelis and Palestinians, including a 10-year gap in life expectancy, are nothing new. And they are the direct result of the Israeli occupation and other abuses. Israel has been happy to transfer much of its obligations to the Palestinians living under its military occupation onto the shoulders of international actors like the UN, whose representatives now meekly appeal to the occupier to do more. It is time for them to hold Israel accountable to the international law that they should be upholding, rather than heaping it with praise on the rare occasions it is not actively violating Palestinians’ right to health.

trump is a criminal psychotic, and his official appointments are all like-minded psychos

Trump signs executive order to support moon mining, tap asteroid resources
Mike Wall, Space.com, Apr 7 2020

Pindostan sees a clear path to the use of moon and asteroid resources. The water ice and other lunar resources that will help Pindostan establish a long-term human presence on the moon are there for the taking, the White House believes. Trump signed an executive order today establishing Pindo policy on the exploitation of off-Earth resources. That policy stresses that the current regulatory regime, notably the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, allows the use of such resources. This view has long held sway in Pindo government circles. For example, Pindostan, like the other major spacefaring nations, has not signed the 1979 Moon Treaty, which stipulates that non-scientific use of space resources be governed by an international regulatory framework. And in 2015, Congress passed a law explicitly allowing American companies and citizens to use moon and asteroid resources. The new executive order makes things even more official, stressing that Pindostan does not view space as a “global commons” and sees a clear path to off-Earth mining, without the need for further international treaty-level agreements. The executive order, called “Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources,” has been in the works for about a year, a senior administration official said during a teleconference with reporters today. The order was prompted at least in part by a desire to clarify Pindostan’s position as it negotiates with international partners to help advance NASA’s Artemis program for crewed lunar exploration, the official added. Artemis aims to land two astronauts on the moon in 2024 and to establish a sustainable human presence on and around Earth’s nearest neighbor by 2028. Lunar resources, especially the water ice thought to be plentiful on the permanently shadowed floors of polar craters, are key to Artemis’ grand ambitions, NASA officials have said. The moon is not the final destination for these ambitions, by the way. Artemis is designed to help NASA and its partners learn how to support astronauts in deep space for long stretches, lessons that will be key to putting boots on Mars, which NASA wants to do in the 2030s. Scott Pace of the Pindo National Space Council said in a statement today:

As Pindostan prepares to return humans to the moon and journey on to Mars, this executive order establishes Pindo policy toward the recovery and use of space resources, such as water and certain minerals, in order to encourage the commercial development of space.

Trump has shown considerable interest in shaping Pindo space policy. In Dec 2017 he signed Space Policy Directive #1, which laid the groundwork for the Artemis campaign. Two other directives have aimed to streamline commercial space regulation and the protocols for space traffic control. Space Policy Directive #4, which the president signed in Feb 2019 called for the creation of the Space Force.

Russian space agency says Trump paving way to seize other planets
Reuters, Apr 7 2020

MOSCOW – The Russian space agency Roscosmos accused Trump on Tuesday of creating a basis to take over other planets by signing an executive order outlining Pindo policy on commercial mining in space. The executive order, which Roscosmos said damaged the scope for international cooperation in space, was signed on Monday. It said:

Pindostan will seek to negotiate joint statements and bilateral and multilateral arrangements with foreign states regarding safe and sustainable operations for the public and private recovery and use of space resources. Pindo citizens should have the right to engage in such activity. Outer space is a legally and physically unique domain of human activity, and Pindostan does not view it as a global commons.

Roscosmos said the order put Pindostan at odds with the notion of space belonging to all humanity. its statement said:

Attempts to expropriate outer space and aggressive plans to actually seize territories of other planets hardly set the countries for fruitful cooperation.

Relations between Russia and Pindostan are at post-Cold War lows, but cooperation on space has continued despite an array of differences over everything from Ukraine to accusations of election meddling. Kremlin spox Dmitry Peskov told reporters:

Any kind of attempt to privatise space in one form or another would be unacceptable, and I find it difficult to say now whether this can be seen as an attempt to privatise space.

Trump vows to put ‘very powerful hold’ on Pindo funding to WHO over response to COVID-19
RT.com, Apr 7 2020

Trump has threatened to hold back funding to the WHO, potentially leaving the agency without support from its largest donor as many of its 194 members are being ravaged by the coronavirus. During his daily briefing on the coronavirus situation on Tuesday, Trump unleashed yet another rant at the WHO, arguing that the organization he dubbed “China-centric” was too slow and ineffective in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump claimed that the WHO had “called every shot wrong” on the COVID-19 crisis. He said:

The WHO receives vast amounts of money from Pibndostan. We pay the biggest portion of their money. They could have called it months earlier. They should have known, and they probably did know. We’re going to put a hold on money spent with the WHO, put a very powerful hold on it.

When asked to elaborate on his idea of suspending funding to the organization, which is arguably the key international body fighting coronavirus, Trump appeared to back down just a few minutes later, saying:

I’m not saying I’m going to do it. I’m going to look at it. We will look at ending funding.

The WHO has recently become a target of Trump’s wrath. Tweeting ahead of the presser, he took aim at the WHO for its opposition to sweeping travel bans early on in the pandemic. He has repeatedly accused it of being biased in favor of Beijing, while offering little evidence to support this claim. Pindostan is the WHO’s largest financial contributor, providing $57.8m so far this year. China is the next largest donor, giving $28.7m in the same period. The WHO has faced criticism for dragging its feet on the global health crisis. Back in February, its director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that there was no need to introduce travel bans, while describing the spread of the virus outside mainland China as “minimal and slow.” Since then, the situation has changed drastically, with the agency taking on a more active role to curb the spread of COVID-19. The WHO has been championing clinical trials to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, with Tedros saying earlier this week that over 70 nations have joined the organization’s trial to speed up research of the cure.

Trump threatens withholding funds from WHO
AFP News, Apr 7 2020

Trump on Tuesday threatened to cut Pindo funding to the WHO, accusing it of bias toward China during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump told reporters he was “going to put a very powerful hold on” funding to WHO, whose biggest funding source is Pindostan. Trump pursues a “Pindostan First” agenda and has previously criticized other UN and multilateral agencies. He said:

We’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. The WHO seems to be very biased toward China. That’s not right.

He gave no details about how much money would be withheld and minutes later during the same press conference he said:

I’m not saying I’m going to do it. We will look at ending funding.

His comments built on an earlier statement on Twitter in which he accused the WHO of being “very China-centric.” Trump asked why the WHO had given “such a faulty recommendation.” Trump wrote:

Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on.

China faces criticism in Faschingstein, particularly from Thugs, over the way it handled the pandemic. Trump has expressed doubt over the accuracy of Chinese statistics for cases and deaths. Trump himself has been widely criticized for initially downplaying the virus, which he likened to an ordinary flu and said was under control in Pindostan, before later accepting that it was a national emergency. More than 12,000 Pindos have now died from COVID-19.

Libertarian Leaders: a Recipe for Lethal Government Incompetence and Criminality
Wayne Madsen, Strategic Culture, Apr 7 2020

Throughout the world in countries that elected right-wing anti-government libertarian leaders, from Pindostan and Brazil to the UK and Australia, incompetence and lack of preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic will directly lead to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. The political rhetoric of those leaders who practice “barbarian laissez-faire” policies have been exposed by COVID-19 as worthless pablum designed to enthrall their unthinking supporters. Donald Trump’s penchant for believing in conspiracy theories and his blatant xenophobia and racism clouded his judgement on the outbreak of COVID-19 as a “Chinese” problem. Trump and his fellow right-wing allies around the world pushed back against a need for mandatory stay-at-home orders, quarantines, and social distancing. Trump’s disdain for international cooperation and science, as well as his “Pindostan First” dogma, resulted in several factors that led to an unforeseen epidemic blossoming in Wuhan, China to transform into a global and extremely deadly and disruptive pandemic. The Trump administration was criminally derelict in abandoning several units and programs initiated by past administrations to combat a global pandemic. These include the NSC’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense; the DHS’s National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), which conducted modeling as recommended by the 2006 National Strategy for Pandemic Implementation Plan; and the federal government’s PREDICT program that worked with 60 worldwide laboratories, including that in outbreak city Wuhan, which originally identified SARS-CoV-2, the novel Covid-19 and 1,200 other viruses. Pandemics on the scale of COVID-19 are believed by many to have wiped out or contributed to the downfall of entire civilizations, the Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and Byzantine empires, as well as the Athens hegemon. Like the “beast demons” of ancient mythology, Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, British PM Boris Johnson, treated COVID-19 as an opportunity to conduct anti-democratic power grabs, infringe on the powers of constituent political provinces, states, or regions to set their own public health requirements, and carry out frontal assaults on the independent press. In the case of Trump, there were blatant directives by him and his Eurasian Jewish criminal syndicate-linked son-in-law, Jared Kushner, that were intended to corner the market on critical medical equipment and supplies in order to distribute them to pro-Trump Pindo state governors and Israel. Acting under similar orders, the Mossad and the CIA began scouring the world to obtain ventilators, virus test kits, and personal protective equipment by whatever means possible, including theft and piracy. Haaretz reported that the head of Mossad’s technology division, someone identified only by the letter “H,” boasted about how Mossad obtained some of Israel’s ventilators from abroad and confessed:

We stole, but only a little.

The WaPo reported that Israel was obtaining ventilators from North America, where they were already in short supply. After the publication of the WaPo report, Kushner announced to the world at a White House press briefing that Pindostan’s strategic reserve of ventilators were “ours,” meaning the Trump administration’s, and not for use by the states. The Mossad’s operation to obtain ventilators from abroad through bidding wars and outright theft, directed by Israel’s criminally-indicted PM Netanyahu,, is all the more noteworthy when considering that Netanyahu is a long-time personal friend of Kushner and his family. Trump and Bolsonaro were responsible for COVID-19’s spread to both Florida and Brazil when the two met at a mid-March summit at Trump’s coronavirus hot zone of Mar-a-Lago. The summit and social gatherings resulted in members of Bolsonaro’s delegation and the Thug mayor of Miami becoming infected. Bolsonaro, in rejecting COVID-19 as nothing more than a “cold,” matched up with the propaganda coming out of Trump’s media circle in Pindostan. Both Bolsonaro and Trump insisted that regular influenza killed more people than COVID-19. Early on, Trump called COVID-19 a “hoax” by the Demagog Party. Attempts by White House spin doctors to backtrack on Trump’s statement largely fell on deaf ears. As the virus spread throughout Brazil, Bolsonaro’s antics wore thin with state governors, his own health minister, and, most importantly of all, the Brazilian armed forces. Just as Trump engaged in personal insults directed against the Demagog governors of Michigan, Washington, and other states, Bolsonaro began attacking Governors João Doria of São Paulo and Wilson Witzel of Rio de Janeiro for instituting curfews and quarantine measures. The Brazilian people sided with their governors against Bolsonaro, just as Pindps sided in large numbers with their governors and mayors against Trump. After Bolsonaro contradicted Health Minister Mandetta by scoffing at the need for social distancing and promoting quack medicinal cures, Facebook and Instagram removed the Brazilian president’s posts as harmful to the public. In cities throughout Brazil, angry citizens took to their balconies banging pots and pans and shouted “Bolsonaro Out!” There were calls by the opposition in the Brazilian Congress to impeach Bolsonaro. Economics Minister Guedes took issue with Bolsonaro’s desire to send Brazilians back to work prior to the virus’s abatement. After Trump tweeted that quarantines and stay-at-home orders could not be “cures” worse than the disease, Bolsonaro, in an example of “monkey see, monkey do,” echoed Trump by declaring:

The collateral effects of the measures to combat the coronavirus must not be worse than the disease itself.

As Bolsonaro found himself in political hot water, Trump also began promoting the use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which remained untested for treating COVID-19. Bolsonaro also chimed in with a tweet extolling the use of the same drug. It was one of Bolsonaro’s tweets that Twitter removed. The Argentine press began reporting that the Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Presidency, Army Gen Netto, had actually replaced Bolsonaro as “operational president” of the country. There were reports that the Brazilian armed forces chief of staff had informed his Argentine counterpart that it was General Netto, not Bolsonaro, who was making all the presidential decisions regarding COVID-19 and other critical matters in Brazil. Since Bolsonaro and Trump like to match each other’s policies and rhetoric, the intervention of the Brazilian armed forces in sidelining Bolsonaro served as a stark warning to Trump, especially after Trump ordered the firing of Capt Crozier of the nuclear aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. The ship’s commander had fired off an angry letter through his chain-of-command warning that his crew of over 4000 sailors was in jeopardy from an outbreak of COVID-19 on board the vessel. Crozier had plenty of supporters in the military and political establishment, including his own crew, Joe Biden and the great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt. The examples of General Netto and an angry Pindo armed forces provided uninformed and ignorant libertarian “beast-men” like Bolsonaro and Trump with a stern wake-up call that their clownish antics have definite limits.

Other “beast-men” like Duterte and Johnson also used the coronavirus to brandish their particular political theatrics. Duterte ordered Philippines security forces to “shoot dead” anyone violating mandatory curfews and social distancing in the country. Johnson found himself incapable of adequately dealing with COVID-19, especially after years of decrying Britain’s valued National Health Service as an unnecessary bureaucracy. Johnson’s ignorance of the virus and his reliance on Dominic Cumming’s ridiculous advice to take a chance on Britons developing a “herd immunity,” thus allowing the virus to make an initial sweep through Britain and count the dead and the survivors afterward, resulted in not only Johnson but his pregnant fiancée, Carrie Symonds, Prince Charles and Cummings contracting COVID-19. Australia’s evangelical PM Morrison was also slow on the draw in taking resolute action to combat COVID-19, perhaps putting his faith more into his vaunted religious passages than scientific research. Critics of Morrison’s right-wing government pointed out that it was not only toilet paper that was in short supply in the country, but also honesty, truth and transparency. Rejection of science, public health, and common sense, as well as using a pandemic to score political points and increase personal power, has its penalties, a fact that has not yet seemed to dawn on Trump, Bolsonaro, Johnson and like-minded political dolts around the world.

NatSec State Left Pindostan Defenseless Against Coronavirus
Gareth Porter, Antiwar.com, Apr 8 2020

Trump’s failure to act decisively to control the coronavirus pandemic has likely made the COVID-19 pandemic far more lethal than it should have been. But the reasons behind failure to get protective and life-saving equipment like masks and ventilators into the hands of health workers and hospitals run deeper than Trump’s self-centered recklessness. Both the Obama and Trump administrations quietly delegated the essential natsec responsibility for obtaining and distributing these vital items to state and local authorities. The failure of leadership was compounded the lack of any federal power center that embraced the idea that guarding for a pandemic was at least as important to natsec as preparing for war. For decades, the military-industrial Congressional complex has force-fed the Pindo sheeple a warped conception of Pindo natsec focused entirely around perpetuating warfare. The cynical conflation of natsec with waging war on designated enemies around the globe effectively stifled public awareness of the clear and present danger posed to its survival by global pandemic. As a result, Congress was simply not called upon to fund the vitally important equipment that doctors and nurses needed for the COVID-19 crisis.

At the heart of the growing coronavirus crisis in Pindostan is a severe shortage of N95 respirators and ventilators. Those items should have been available in sufficient numbers through the Strategic National Stockpile, which holds the nation’s largest supplies necessary for national emergencies. But the stocks of crucial medical equipment have not been maintained for years, largely because Congress has not provided the necessary funding. Congress has been willing to dole out loads of cash after pandemics hit Pindostan. When the H1N1 flu crisis hit Pindostan in 2009, and close to 300,000 Pindos were hospitalized, Congress appropriated $7.7b in special funding, including support for building up the SNS. That allowed the stockpile to provide 85 million respirators and millions of ventilators to hospitals around the country, especially during the second half of the year-long crisis. But since that 2009-10 crisis ended, the stockpile of such vital equipment has never been replenished. In 2020 the stockpile holds only 12 million N95 respirators, as little as 1% of what is now needed by health workers, and just 16,000 ventilators, though an estimated 750,000 people at minimum will need ventilators because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These numbers are so scandalously low in relation to what is needed that senior Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) boxtops have refused to reveal publicly how many they have in stock.

The failure to maintain those items in the stockpile was not the result of any lack of warning about the serious risk of a global pandemic that could be worse than any since the 1918 Spanish flu. It has been obvious that the frequency and ferocity of such rapidly spreading flu pandemics has been steadily rising throughout the 21st century. The parade of recent pandemics began with SARS in 2002-3, continued with the much more serious H1N1 pandemic in 2009, and escalated with the spread of MERS IN 2012. Each one involved influenza viruses. The H1N1 pandemic infected nearly 61 million Pindos and hospitalized 274,000, causing 12,500 deaths. Another epidemic of the Ebola virus spread across much of Africa in 2014-16 but made only a slight appearance in Pindostan. George Poste, a former director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute with close ties to the Pindo military-intelligence apparatus, warned in 2018 that even though the horror of the 1918 flu epidemic had not been repeated, it was “inevitable that a pandemic strain of equal virulence will emerge.” The awareness of the threat of a pandemic even reached into the NSC. In 2015, once the Ebola crisis had passed, the Obama administration’s departing Ebola coordinator convinced the White House to create an NSC office for the threat from pandemics. A week before Trump’s inauguration, Obama’s outgoing homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, organized a simulation based on how the administration would respond to what she called a “nightmare scenario”: a flu pandemic that forces a halt to international travel and causes a stock market crash and for which there is no effective vaccine. In May 2018, Luciana Borio, the director for medical and biodefense preparedness on the NSC staff, declared publicly that a flu pandemic that we “know cannot be stopped at the border” was the leading health security threat, and that Pindostan was not prepared for it. But neither the NSC office nor the NSC itself produced a major initiative to focus political attention on the pandemic threat. The office’s role, as described by Beth Cameron, who oversaw it, was limited to closely monitoring global health threats to provide early warning of any potential pandemic. So when arch-militarist John Bolton promptly downgraded the office after becoming Trump’s national security adviser, it made little difference.

Responsibility for domestic preparedness for a pandemic has always belonged not to NSC but to the Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS), which organized a month-long simulation in 2019 involving a number of federal offices that ultimately demonstrated how seriously unprepared the government was to cope with a pandemic. Following such an exercise, it should have been obvious that a new stockpile of necessary medical gear was urgently needed. However, the HHS made no serious effort to replenish the country’s diminished stockpiles of masks, ventilators, and other critical supplies. And even if it had, it would have had to have competed with a much more powerful military-industrial complex for funding, and almost certainly would have failed. Deeply entrenched bureaucracies and defense contractors dominate the federal government. Thanks to hefty campaign contributions and other benefits to members of Congress who control budgetary decisions, the national security state is easily able to secure its demands. In contrast, no such lobbying complex exists to ensure the country is adequately prepared for a pandemic. In fact, as Greg Burel, the director of the US strategic stockpile from 2009 to 2021, explained, HHS and the Strategic National Stockpile lost all responsibility for sending N-95 masks and ventilators to state and local health services and hospitals in a national health emergency. Hospitals and state and local health departments must therefore compete with one another to obtain limited commercially available suppliers after they are already knee-deep in a pandemic. Responsibility for the preparation for the most significant threat to Pindo natsec was thus privatized under both the Obama and Trump administrations.

At the same time, a bipartisan consensus emerged around shoveling $15t in taxpayer money into wars that had little to do with natsec in any true sense, and focused instead on the perpetuation of Pindo empire. The catastrophic human consequences of the failure to provide these essentials for a minimally adequate response should become the basis of nationwide political movement that takes on the natsec state and its deadly grip on Congress. Multi-billion-dollar weapons systems may have provided lucrative kickbacks to Congress critturs and spacious Northern Virginia McMansions to arms industry lobbyists, but they have not provided an iota of security from coronavirus. Such a movement would have seemed impossible only a few weeks ago. But after decades of preemption of resources for the parochial interests of a self-serving natsec bureaucracy and its elite political allies, it is clear that most Pindos have been abandoned before a pandemic their leaders dismissed and ignored. A simple insistence that the actual security interests of the American people be served, rather than those of militarists who have hijacked the concept of national security for their own self-interest, is paramount. A movement demanding this radical shift could be driven by very reasonable expectation that untold hundreds of thousands could die during a series of viral outbreaks throughout the next decade. As Dr Peter Daszek, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance and a leading expert in predicting their impact of pandemics, recently told the WSJ:

We’re going to be hit with a much bigger one sometime in the next 10 years.

More than 1,000 VA employees have tested positive for COVID-19
James Clark, Task & Purpose, Apr 7 2020

More than 1,000 employees of the Dept of Veterans Affairs have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to data provided to Task & Purpose by the VA on Tuesday. The 1,007 VA employees who tested positive for the virus all work within the Veterans Health Administration, which is tasked with overseeing a sprawling network of hospitals, clinics, and medical centers that provide care to some 9 million veterans, many of whom are older, and have underlying health issues related to their military service. VA spox Christina Mandreucci told Task & Purpose:

In accordance with CDC guidelines and the employees’ clinical status, the employees are all in isolation, mitigating further risk of transmission to other patients and staff.

The New Orleans VA Medical Center was one of the hardest hit, with 83 employees testing positive. Nearly 400 veterans there have also contracted the virus. Other facilities with high numbers of employee cases include the Roudebush VAMC Indianapolis, with 56 cases; the Peters VAMC in the Bronx, with 39 cases; and the VAMC in Northport NY, with 37. Four employees have died from the virus, according to the VA data. Two of the employees worked in Michigan, at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center, and the Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit. A third worked at the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, and a fourth worked at the DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston. Mandreucci said:

Due to privacy concerns, we cannot provide additional information.

A social worker at the VA Medical Center in Houston, where there are 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among employees, and 15 cases among veteran patients, said that staff received an all-hands message on Monday notifying them of the most recent COVID-19-related death of an employee. The employee was one of five VA health-care workers who previously spoke to Task & Purpose, detailing how the department was faring amidst the pandemic, and said:

We’re all just trying to navigate this new normal.

As of Tuesday, the number of veterans who have tested positive for COVID-19 reached 3,038 cases, and 144 veterans have died, up from 19 the day before, according to VA data. Globally, there are more than 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases. Pindostan now has the highest number at roughly 387,000, with more than 12,000 deaths.

Troops believe coronavirus is hurting military readiness, poll shows
Leo Shane, Military Times, Apr 7 2020

More than three-quarters of troops surveyed in a new Military Times Poll of active-duty personnel think the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has damaged military readiness, and about one-third said the military response has already taken a personal toll on their families. About half of troops polled believe that military leaders are taking the right steps to respond to the fast-spreading illness, but another 43% disagree with their approach so far. That split opinion on leadership doesn’t extend to the recent official travel ban for troops and families. More than 80% support the severe travel restrictions that have banned almost all domestic and international movement. The poll surveyed 1,507 active-duty Military Times subscribers in partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. Responses were collected online between Mar 26-31, after new travel restrictions for military personnel were put in place and some state quarantine restrictions were enacted. As of Apr 6, more than 1,400 service-members had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to DoD reports. More than 2,500 patients in the Veterans Health Administration have also contracted the illness, and more than 100 died from it. About 19% of troops surveyed said the coronavirus outbreak has greatly diminished military readiness and the services’ ability to respond to traditional national security threats. Missions around the world have been impacted by the virus. New deployments to Afghanistan are on hold, a Navy aircraft carrier has been sidelined due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Marine Corps suspended recruit training at Parris Island and many local training missions have been canceled. That erosion of the armed forces’ strength is likely to linger for a while. About 37% of troops who responded said they expect their units won’t return to normal operations and readiness for at least six months after current quarantine restrictions are lifted. About 5% said they expect it to take more than a year. In recent weeks, Pentagon boxtops have announced a host of social distancing requirements and new travel restrictions on all personnel. On Sunday, Sec Def Esper unveiled plans for all personnel to wear face coverings while in public areas on military bases. This so far drew more support than criticism from troops in the survey. About 51% said that leadership and commanders have taken the right steps to respond to the public health threat. About 43% said they disagree, half of that group strongly. Enlisted personnel who participated in the survey were more supportive of those leadership moves than officers. Nearly two-thirds of the enlisted troops (63%) agreed that commanders are taking the right steps. Officers were evenly split (47% agree, 47% disagree). One of the most common complaints aired by service-members involved commanders’ decisions about which personnel should be deemed “essential” and continue to report to work as normal despite the quarantine recommendations. One sailor wrote in part of the survey:

My ship has pretended nothing is happening, and made everyone ‘essential’ to support yard workers who have had multiple confirmed cases of COVID.

Another service-member complained that many jobs that aren’t actively involved in coronavirus response are still required to report in. He wrote:

Even being a stockboy at a grocery store is essential now. Right now is the time to shelter, not to be out there doing a training mission just so the pipeline doesn’t dry up.

In the survey, troops had more confidence that their peers were taking the coronavirus threat seriously compared to commanders. Almost 59% of those surveyed said their fellow service-members are taking the right steps. More than 71% of officers voiced that opinion. Individuals in the survey had more faith in the military’s response to the public health threat (51% moderate or strong confidence) than that of the White House (32%), the Department of Veterans Affairs (24%) or Congress (13%). Roughly 8% of troops surveyed said they thought the travel restrictions put in place by military leaders last month were appropriate, but many also reported significant personal impact from that decision. One third of all survey participants said they have missed a major life event because of the travel limits. One family lost about $8k on a planned trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. Dozens of respondents said they’ll miss weddings, family reunions, and long-planned birthday celebrations. One soldier in South Korea said:

I was scheduled to transfer out in early April, but now it looks like the earliest I can leave will be July. My wife is due to give birth in early July. Haven’t missed the birth yet, but it looks like a strong possibility.

Another service-member who cannot visit relatives because of the travel restrictions wrote:

I have family in hospice care that may pass away soon, and I feel I will miss the funeral due this outbreak.

Nearly one-quarter of all troops surveyed said the coronavirus pandemic is a bigger natsec threat than 9/11. About one in five said the response has already greatly diminished military readiness. When asked if the DoD should play a larger role in assisting civilian institutions with the coronavirus response, about 45% saw the need for more military involvement, while about 30% felt the military response should be lessened. That left about 25% who were unsure of what the military involvement should be. Already, two Navy hospital ships have been deployed to New York and California so thousands of military personnel can help with public health missions there, and more than 21,000 National Guard troops mobilized for the response effort.

Expect Police-Military Repression Amid the Crisis of COVID-19 and Its Aftermath
Netfa Freeman, Black Agenda Report, Apr 8 2020

The rulers are concerned about the class war becoming sharper in the current crisis and they are preparing to send in the military and police to quell dissent. News stories about the National Guard assisting with the coronavirus have overshadowed stories about Pindo military plans to join police in stopping expected “civil disturbances.” But eyewitness accounts of trains transporting armored vehicles and other equipment into their communities prompted posts to social media about the threat of martial law. The DoD responded with a media defensive to dismiss the concerns as conspiracy theories, sticking to the strict definition of martial law. They assure that the duties of the reserve National Guard personnel are only for things like disinfecting public spaces, delivering food to homes, and erecting provisional medical facilities. Semantic games and a neglect to connect the dots are meant to assuage public concerns. Martial law is the imposition of direct and temporary military control of normal civilian functions, although to argue whether or not military involvement means direct control is to split hairs. The outcomes are the same for Black and First Nations working class people in the Pindo settler colonial state. Those communities live under constant police-state control designed to maintain the Pan-European white supremacist colonial/capitalist patriarchy. The only “normal” civilian functions for them are to serve the industrial metropole. Otherwise, to neoliberal capitalists they are a surplus population. In December, prior to the pandemic, Att-Gen William Barr launched Operation Relentless Pursuit, a “surge” of federal agents in seven cities, more enforcement funding, police department access to more equipment, and an ability to hire more police. This is another operation meant to deal with the surplus population. When Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen Lengyel’s adds this caveat, he offers a distinction without a difference:

The Guard has legal authorities to participate in law enforcement operations, such as crowd control but usually does so under the supervision of local police.

The rulers are concerned about the class war becoming sharper in the current crisis and they are preparing to send in the military and police to quell dissent. A WaPo piece warn:

there is a much larger, and more fraught, role for the armed forces in this crisis: They might need to backstop and backfill police forces. Major assistance with patrolling streets, enforcing restrictions on movement, deterring crime and other tasks might be the most prudent thing we can do to reduce the risk of deteriorating social stability and security. Police departments should make plans for apprentice-like training of Guard personnel, who probably know a lot about how to wear body armor, operate weapons, maintain discipline, use communications systems and work long hours, but who probably know much less about easing tense civic situations, handling suspects while presuming innocence and securing evidence.

The treatment for entitled white teenagers refusing to stay home and off beaches will not be the same as the mistreatment of Black and Brown communities expressing their frustrations with second class citizenship. Mounting dissatisfactions with the system are obvious in the wildcat strikes of workers demanding hazard pay and PPE to safely perform their jobs during the pandemic. Economists are also forecasting that an alarming 47 million jobs will be lost leading to 32% unemployment, the highest figure since the great depression. The pre-existing crisis of legitimacy for the rulers is compounded by the government’s inept response to the pandemic and the private sector’s shameless efforts to profit from the people’s suffering. The 1968 Kerner Commission Report on civil disturbances warned of what happens when the oppressed have had enough. The impasse is at the solutions. Free health-care for anyone sick, housing as a human right, and relief money from the government all go against capitalism and are therefore not meant to last. Society is approaching an ultimate clash between classes that presents the oppressors with essentially two contrasting responses. People rebelling because they are hungry could be brutally suppressed, or could be given food and democratic control over the production and distribution of food. Pindo white supremacist colonial/capitalist patriarchy will respond to such crises with the former option. Fatalities have always been the result of the police-military mix in response to major unrest in Pindostan: In 2005 in the scramble to survive Hurricane Katrina, 1992 in response to verdicts in police beating of Rodney King, and 1968 after the assassination of Dr King. And Black people always get the worst of these crackdowns. The assumption that police are adept in easing tense civic situations, etc would be laughable if it weren’t insulting. All armed forces of the Pindo state, whether police, National Guard, active duty military, serve the same essential purpose, to protect the settler colonial and imperialist paradigm. The distinction between them is like that between the FBI and CIA; one enforces domestic domination and the other foreign. When the government turns to the military for the economic symptoms of the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath, poor Black and Brown people will be met in city streets by armed troops trained to occupy hostile foreign territory and primed with the racist and classist attitudes inherent in the police.

Countries taking a different approach to coronavirus
Callum Keown, MSN News, Apr 7 2020

Countries around the world have enforced strict lockdown measures in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, with some early signs it may be working. Two European countries, Denmark and Austria, have even signalled plans to gradually lift lockdown measures starting later this month, following a number of Asian countries, including China – the origin of the virus. Pindostan, the UK, India, Italy, Spain and many more countries remain in lockdown in the fight to beat the virus. However, some nations have taken different paths in the face of the pandemic. Pres Lukashenko of Belarus has encouraged people to drink vodka and regularly visit saunas to beat COVID-19, and has even prescribed the driving of tractors to fend off the virus, calling fears of coronavirus a “psychosis.” He has refused to put the country’s 9.5 million people into lockdown and has insisted that life goes on as normal, himself playing in an ice hockey match at the end of March. The Belarusian Premier League is Europe’s only surviving soccer league and the games have attracted a surge in interest from the UK and other countries in recent weeks. Officials figures show that Belarus has reported just 13 deaths from coronavirus. Those numbers have been questioned by locals and more than 150,000 Belarusians have signed a petition calling for a nationwide quarantine. the petition read:

In most countries of the world, the necessary measures have long been taken to stop the spread of coronavirus. Unfortunately, in the Republic of Belarus there is a complete disregard for the disease and incorrect informing of residents. This petition is like a cry from the soul. We urgently need to enter quarantine. We require quarantine. We want to live!

Sweden remains one of the only EU countries not in lockdown, adopting a far more relaxed strategy to tackle the spread of coronavirus. As others have closed social venues, Sweden’s bars, cafes and restaurants have remained open. Its PM has instead called on every citizen to take responsibility, with only the elderly and most vulnerable being told to self-isolate and stay at home. The country’s limited measures in recent weeks have included banning gatherings of 50, down from an initial ban on gatherings of 500, and table service only at restaurants. However, coronavirus deaths in Sweden surged from 239 on Apr 1 to 591 on Apr 7, with 114 in the past 24 hours alone. Lofven’s tone shifted on Saturday as he warned the country was facing “thousands” of deaths and should prepare for that outcome. The Swedish government took steps to introduce new powers on Monday, allowing authorities to close airports, railway stations, shops and businesses without needing parliamentary approval first. The country’s relatively laid-back approach has drawn criticism, notably from a group of scientists who penned a letter to newspaper Dagens Nyheter. They asked the country’s public health agency why Sweden has resisted lockdown, when the rest of Europe including the UK have implemented tougher measures. they wrote:

Different countries have different conditions, but we struggle to see why the Swedish context is so different from the British.

Finland tightened its border with Sweden, and neighboring Norway, on Tuesday with only necessary travel now permitted. The Finnish government also urged Sweden to better protect and test its health-care workers, who are helping treat some Finnish patients. In contrast to Sweden, Denmark is planning to lift lockdown measures at a gradual pace. Schools will reopen to some children as soon as Apr 15 if coronavirus cases and deaths remain stable, the PM said on Monday. Denmark was an early instigator of tough COVID-19 measures, second only to Italy in imposing a lockdown. Schools, restaurants, bars and cafes have been closed since in the middle of March. The rules have not been as strict as in the UK, where people are only allowed to leave the house once a day for exercise or shopping, but the number of hospitalizations fell last week and daily deaths have stabilized. The reopening of day centers and schools is designed to get the economy moving again, with many parents currently working from home to provide childcare. Frederiksen, whose approval rating has surged through the crisis, said the move towards normality was a “political choice.” Austria will also ease some of its measures later this month, with small shops reopening from Apr.14 and all shops opening again from May 1. A number of Asian countries have lifted lockdown measures, but Denmark and Austria will be the first European countries.

Pindostan can only beat COVID-19 if it stops blaming China and faces up to its own pandemic mistakes
Joh Ross, RT.com, Apr 7 2020

The author is senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, and former director of economic and business policy for the mayor of London. He lived in Moscow from 1992-2000.

Pindostan, ‘the greatest country in the world,’ just can’t admit that China succeeded in dealing with the COVID-19 threat while Pindostan has failed. Instead of learning from China, it’s suffering the world’s worst epidemic disaster. The international course of the coronavirus pandemic is established beyond challenge. China is the world’s first country with a major outbreak to bring it under control, reducing the number of daily deaths to zero on Apr 6. Pindostan is suffering a worsening catastrophe. Pindo facts are clear. According to Johns Hopkins University, it has over 368,000 cases and more than 10,000 deaths. The total numbers in Pindostan are already approximately three times as high as China in absolute terms. But, as Pindostan has less than one-quarter of China’s population, the Pindo per capita number of cases and deaths is 12 times higher than China and rising rapidly. The difference between the success of China’s response and the Pindo failure is based on a fundamental difference in approach. China based its action on its ancient dictum ‘seek truth from facts.’ Many in Pindostan engaged in national delusions. The lessons of the difference include but go far beyond coronavirus. Few things are more dangerous for any country than to lie to itself. The greatest disasters in human history frequently result from attempts to cheat reality. Hitler in 1941 rationalized his decision to attack the USSR with the analysis that “You only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down,” a disastrous denial of reality which unleashed the greatest war in human history, the total destruction of his regime (the one good result), and 27 million dead in the Soviet Union. Japan similarly made a catastrophic miscalculation in unleashing war in China and the Pacific (The Versailles Treaty forced Germany into war on the East, and a Western oil embargo forced Japan into war on Pindostan – RB). COVID-19 does not reach the level of these cataclysmic misanalyzes, but is undoubtedly the greatest global crisis since WW2. It illustrates the same life-and-death lesson, that reality is much more powerful than human delusions; and if you try to cheat it in serious matters, catastrophe will result.

Coronavirus will not be arrested for one microsecond by falsification or bluff. It is only defeated by strictly objective measures preventing humans transmitting it. China stopped the coronavirus by acting objectively when faced with literally a deadly threat, imposing a proven successful lockdown, the fundamental approach to which is now being followed in every country, if not its comprehensive application. Regrettably, illustrating the same point from the reverse viewpoint, Pindostan is equally now experiencing a worsening national catastrophe because some of its leading boxtops engaged in falsification and national delusion, helping create what will be only the third mass death experience on Pindo soil in its entire history after the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic and the Civil War (unless you count the entire annihilation of its original inhabitants – RB). This difference between China’s fact-based strategy, and the attempt of Pindo boxtops to defy reality, is therefore now necessarily creating an international ideological clash between China’s objective approach and the delusions in Pindostan. Fortunately for the Pindo sheeple, an increasing number of states, cities and other institutions are refusing to be led into a literal death-trap by propaganda. But tens of thousands of Pindo lives, possibly many more, depend on how far propaganda and falsifications can be overcome. A suitable starting point for understanding the international ideological difference in approach between China and Pindostan is an ‘Open Letter to the Pindo Sheeple’ signed by 100 Chinese professors, think-tank directors, and other leading academic boxtops which was published on the Pindo website The Diplomat. The signatories of the letter thanked the international community for its support during the most critical stage of the fight against the virus, and offered to share their experiences with other countries and provide all available assistance to them. They wrote:

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health crisis with a horrific scale not seen in generations. The effort to overcome both it and its impact will be nothing short of a long-term and arduous global war. Countries should be working together. The COVID-19 outbreak in China is now basically under control. The Chinese people have made unimaginable efforts and sacrifices to achieve hard-won results. We sincerely hope to cooperate with the international community, including intellectuals and experts from the US that look forward to a brighter future. We call on all nations to work together in sincere cooperation to defeat this common enemy of humanity.

This approach is an application of China’s central foreign policy concept of a ‘common destiny for humanity,’ emphasizing that each nation is unique but one part of a common global future. China has therefore given both practical assistance and advice to other countries, including Pindostan, despite aggressive actions taken by Faschingstein against China over issues such as the trade war. Some of this assistance to Pindostan has received wide publicity. For example, the Massachusetts governor transported a million medical masks from China using a plane owned by the famous National Football League team, the New England Patriots. Coordination involving China’s cities has also been achieved by the C40, the grouping of mayors of most of the world’s largest metropolises, with a combined population of 650 million. On Apr 3, it noted:

Today, experts from Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing shared vital knowledge and advice on the COVID-19 crisis with more than 50 cities from around the world.

China, as the world’s greatest manufacturing base, obviously plays a decisive practical role in the fight against the virus. Due to the rapid decline in coronavirus cases in China, based on domestic conditions, it could now radically cut production of masks, ventilators and other equipment which was enormously increased during the peak coronavirus outbreak in China. But it has deliberately decided not to do so because it understands it can be the world’s greatest supply center in fighting coronavirus. Some Pindo boxtops have openly and objectively thanked China for its help. In contrast to China’s reaction, there has been an exactly opposite and catastrophic response from leading Pindo boxtops. The most grotesque example was Commerce Sec Wilbur Ross, who viewed the coronavirus in the framework of whether it would deliver a supposed benefit to Pindostan, saying coronavirus was an opportunity and will ‘bring back jobs.’ Instead, millions of Pindos have already lost their employment. The Trump administration also regrettably underestimated the seriousness of coronavirus entirely and correspondingly failed to prepare Pindostan. Trump argued on Jan 22:

We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.

Trends showed this was entirely false. On Apr 3, when the Pindo CDC advised Pindos to wear face masks, Trump immediately undermined this by announcing at a press conference he was not going to. On Apr 5, Trump said that ‘the toughest week’ for the coronavirus in Pindostan would be that week or the next week. In fact, the situation was still deteriorating rapidly, with no death peak in sight, and within a few weeks the Pindo situation will be far worse. As Pindostan had two months’ warning of the threat of the coronavirus, the job of leading Pindo boxtops should have been to prepare the Pindo sheeple for this, drawing on the experience of China and every other country which had important lessons. Some Pindo institutions did that. Johns Hopkins University has done one of the world’s best jobs in providing real-time data on COVID-19’s spread. Unfortunately other leading Pindo boxtops, instead of facing reality, spread propaganda, obstructing the Pindo sheeple from preparing for the deadly coming threat. A typical example is Ian Bremmer, president and founder of the Eurasia Group, the most influential Pindo political risk consultancy, normally a serious analyst, well worth reading. In this case, faced with a situation where the Pindo response has been disastrous, he abandoned objectivity, claiming on Mar 31, on the basis of no evidence, that China had more coronavirus cases than Pindostan despite both the WHO and Johns Hopkins University showing the exact opposite. The dynamic of the rise of Pindo coronavirus cases meant that within days, Bremmer’s claim had lost all credibility. At the time of writing, Johns Hopkins University’s real-time data finds 368,000 cases in Pindostan, compared to 83,000 in China. Similarly, on Apr 3, Bremmer quoted the Pindo propaganda channel Radio Free Asia’s claim, based on supposed anecdotal evidence from Wuhan residents, that there had been 40,000 deaths in the city.

Fortunately, almost no serious boxtops outside Pindostan were prepared to pass on such material or simple propaganda. The G7 bluntly refused Pompeo’s demand that COVID-19 should be referred to as the ‘China virus.’ Canada’s health minister straightforwardly said:

There is no indication that the data that came out of China regarding their infection rate and their death rate was falsified in any way.

She added bluntly that the reporter who asked her this question at a press conference was “feeding into conspiracy theories.” Regarding the situation in China itself, in addition to all serious statistical studies, it is simply necessary to look at the videos of its city streets gradually beginning to refill. I know from my numerous daily discussions that six weeks ago people were naturally very scared. This is a literal life-and-death matter. No government propaganda would get people back on the streets if they were not beginning to feel safe again. Even more significantly, if they were not really safe, these filling streets would produce literally so many thousands of dead it would be impossible to conceal. Why did even normally-serious Pindo boxtops spread nonsense? It illustrates the ancient truth that if a theory and the real world do not coincide, a sensible person abandons the theory and a dangerous one abandons the real world. Pindo boxtops subscribed to the theory that Pindostan must be the best, ‘the greatest country in the world.’ Therefore, it was impossible by definition that China should have succeeded in dealing with the coronavirus threat more successfully than any other country, while Pindostan failed. Therefore, instead of undertaking the vital lesson of learning from China’s successful fight against the virus, Pindo boxtops attempted to deny reality. This contributed significantly to Pindostan being unprepared to fight the coronavirus, with the consequences that Pindostan is now suffering the world’s worst coronavirus disaster. Reality is strictly objective, and cannot be cheated. Those who attempt to do so in serious matters damage themselves. The coronavirus will not be stopped for an instant by claims that Pindostan is always best, or that China has not been successful in fighting the virus. Those in Pindostan who refused to base themselves on reality have contributed to a disaster in their own country. Self-delusions among leading Pindo boxtops have previously led it to geopolitical disasters, in Vietnam, in Iraq and in believing that Russia would accept Pindostan’s aggressive expansion of NATO. Now these self-delusions have led to a disaster on Pindo soil itself. It is to be hoped that the Pindo creeple will extremely rapidly draw on the lessons, save the lives of many tens of thousands of their own citizens, and force their leaders to enter into more general, rational relations with the world.

usual suspects

Infighting Among Turkish Proxies Erupts In Syria. Rocket Strike Hits US-operated Oil Facility In Iraq
South Front, Apr 7 2020

Infighting among Turkish-backed groups has erupted near the town of Ras al-Ayn. According to local sources, conflicts over the captured houses and looted properties became the main reason of the conflict between members of the Sultan Murad armed group which attacked other Turkish-backed rebels. The situation rapidly escalated to the extent when the Turkish Army had to deploy additional troops and equipment in the area in order to put an end to the infighting. At the same time, the Turkish Army continued deploying additional troops and military equipment in the province of Idlib. Last night, nearly 30 trucks and military vehicles entered Syria and reached the countryside of the town of Jisr al-Shughur, controlled by HTS. Two days ago, the Turkish Army established 3 new observation points there. A Pindo military convoy consisting of 35 trucks laden with military and logistic supplies entered Syria from northern Iraq. The convoy entered the country via the al-Walid border crossing controlled by the Pindo military and SDF and moved supplies to Pindo military facilities in the countryside of al-Hasakah. According to Syrian sources, the Pindo military is now working to reinforce its positions near the Khrab al-Jir military airport. Lebanon’s al-Mayadin TV claimed that a Pindo soldier and several members of the SDF had been killed in an attack by radical militants on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, in the province of Deir Ezzor. Earlier, similar claims were made by several pro-Kurdish and pro-opposition sources. The situation remains unclear. However, over the past 2 months, Daesh have ramped up their operations in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor. On Apr 6, a barrage of rockets struck near the oil-rich area near Iraq’s southern city of Basra. The strike hit the Zubeir oil field operated by the US company Halliburton in the Burjesia area. According to state-run Basra Oil Co., which oversees oil operation in the south, the attack had not affected production and export operations. The Apr 6 strike became the first such attack since Jun 2019 and came only 2 days after Iraqi resistance groups released a joint statement calling Pindo forces in Iraq occupants and in fact threatening them with a military action. Since Jan 2020, there has been an increase in rocket attacks on Pindo forces and facilities in Iraq. However, until now, all attacks were aimed against the sites affiliated with Pindo military and intelligence. The Apr 6 attack indicates that Pindo energy giants that operate in Iraq are also in danger.

nazi trump’s bullshit ‘peace deal’ collapses, as i said it would

Taliban suspends prisoner exchange talks with Afghan govt, recalls negotiators
RT.com, Apr 7 2020

Abdullah with Pompeo in Kabul, Mar 23 2020. Photo: Reuters

The Taliban on Tuesday recalled its negotiators from Afghanistan hours after they suspended talks on a prisoner exchange process with the Afghan government. Suhail Shaheen, a spox for Taliban’s political office in Qatar, cited “intentional delays” in the release of prisoners, violating the peace agreement, The spox stated that the Taliban was recalling its technical team from Kabul. Pindostan and the Taliban signed an accord in February, under which ISAF would withdraw in phases in exchange for Taliban security guarantees. Pompeo on Tuesday said progress had been made since he visited Kabul on Mar 23 to press Ghani and Abdullah to end their feud over the results of disputed elections.

Pompeo Warned Full Troop Pullout on Kabul Trip
Tolo News, Apr 7 2020

NBC News on Tuesday reported that Pompeo during a trip to Kabul two weeks ago on Mar 23, threatened Ghani and Abdullah that Trump might do a complete troop pullout, as well as an cut aid, if the dispute continues. Immediately following his visit to Kabul, the State Dept released a statement saying that because of the failure of the Afghan leaders to end the political impasse, $1b in aid money for Afghanistan would be cut, and funding in 2021 might also be reduced. However, the statement about a complete troop withdrawal was not previously reported. NBC said Pompeo told Ghani and Abdullah they would be held responsible if the president’s peace deal fails, and that Trump has followed through on other threats to withdraw troops and pull financial aid. Pompeo told Abdullah that he must support Ghani, according to officials as quoted by NBC news. This comes after Pompeo’s 7-hour visit to Kabul on Mar 23 where he met with Ghani and Abdullah separately and jointly, but the meetings ended without a result. The Pindo State Dept said in a statement that Pindostan deeply regrets that Ghani and Abdullah have informed secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens. The statement said:

Pindostan is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed Pindo-Afghan relations and sadly dishonors those Afghan, Pindos, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country. Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to Pindo national interests, effective immediately, the Pindo government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan. Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1b this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1b in 2021. Pindostan will also initiate a review of all of its programs and projects to identify additional reductions and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan.

Taliban, Govt Forces Engaged in Silent, Unreported War: MoD
Tamim Hamid, Tolo News, Apr 7 2020

The Taliban continue their attacks on Afghan security forces across the country, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday. Sometimes, the Afghan security forces counter-attack, said the MoD. Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spox for the Afghan MoD, said:

Within the parameters of the active defense mode, these Taliban attacks were repelled and massive casualties were inflicted on the Taliban. The group suffered massive casualties in Arghandab district of Zabul province.

The Taliban in recent days has not said anything officially about their attacks on the Afghan forces, and Afghan security officials have said that the government forces are still in “active defense position,” but the security experts say that the two sides are engaging in a ‘silent war’ against each other. Assad’ullah Nadiom, a military expert in Kabul, said:

This situation has caused the Taliban to be more greedy for power, so they have expanded the war. Nothing can deter the Taliban from war unless there is a change in the political situation in Kabul.

The Taliban resumed their attacks on the Afghan forces only a few days after the group signed a peace deal with Pindostan in Doha on Feb 29. Their spox, who recently tweeted about their military activities, now tweets about other issues, including the delayed peace process, and about allegations that government forces are causing civilian casualties. Nazifa Zaki, a member of parliament, said:

We lost a number of our soldiers in Zabul and Takhar provinces, including the fall of a district to the Taliban in Badakhshan which was retaken by the security forces later.

This comes after eighteen months of negotiations in Doha, after which Pindostan and the Taliban officially signed a peace deal on Feb 29 intended to pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in exchange for a number of solid assurances by the Taliban to Pindostan & its vassals. The Pindo-Taliban deal initially caused hope among Afghans that this time there would be peace, but on the ground, the Taliban and the Afghan government forces are still fighting.

Afghanistan peace deal: Taliban walk out of ‘fruitless’ talks
BBC, Apr 7 2020

The Taliban have walked out of landmark talks which were supposed to help pave the path to peace in Afghanistan. A Taliban spox said the first face-to-face discussions with Ghani’s government had proved “fruitless.” Talks broke down over a prisoner swap agreed between Pindostan and the Taliban. It was meant to be a step towards ending the war, but the Taliban say Ghani’s government is trying to delay the release, while Ghani’s government says the militants’ demands are unreasonable. The Taliban spox accused Ghani’s government of delaying the prisoner release “under one pretext or another.” Ghani’s government says it’s willing to release up to 400 low-threat Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture in return for a considerable reduction in violence. According to the government’s negotiating team, the Taliban wanted the release of 15 commanders believed to be involved in what were referred to as big attacks. A spox said:

We cannot release the killers of our people.

The prisoner swap, which formed part of the Pindo-Taliban deal signed in February that did not involve the government, was supposed to be a gesture of trust between the two sides. However, Ghani refused to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners under the terms of the Pindo deal, saying the Afghan government had made no such agreement. Instead, he offered the conditional release of 1,500 prisoners. Arguments over the swap, which would also have seen 1,000 pro-government forces released by the Taliban, delayed the start of the talks, due to begin on Mar 10, until Apr 1. Under the agreement, Trump announced 5,000 Pindo troops would leave the country by May and he would meet leaders of the Taliban in the near future. Pindo & NATO troops will withdraw from the country within 14 months, as long as the Taliban uphold their side of the deal. Pindostan also agreed to lift sanctions against the Taliban and work with the UN to lift its separate sanctions against the group. In return, the Taliban said they would not allow AQ or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control. But Pindo boxtops also agreed to the prisoner swap as a first step in talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, who are still technically at war. The Afghan government was not included in the talks.

Pindo deal with Taliban breaks down while coronavirus spreads in Afghanistan
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

A “peace” deal concluded between Faschingstein and the Taliban that was supposed to bring an end to Pindo imperialism’s longest war is rapidly unraveling amid rising violence and the failure of the crisis-ridden Kabul regime to carry out a prisoner release agreement brokered by Faschingstein. The Taliban warned on Sunday that the agreement signed in the Qatari capital of Doha on Feb 29 is breaking down under the impact of what it charges are Pindo violations in the form of airstrikes that have targeted its forces and killed civilians. The latest reported airstrike took place early Sunday in the central Afghan province of Uruzgan, leaving at least eight civilians killed and two others gravely wounded according to regional boxtops. The Taliban blamed Pindostan and its NATO-led “coalition” for the attack. In another incident on Sunday, the Taliban charged that an airstrike carried out against a funeral in southern Zabul province killed two civilians. The Afghan Ministry of Defense claimed that its forces had attacked Taliban fighters there after a clash at a checkpoint manned by security forces of the Kabul regime. Warning that its deal with Pindostan was reaching breaking-point, the Taliban stated:

These actions have created an atmosphere of mistrust that will not only damage the agreements, but also force the mujaheddin to a similar response and will increase the level of fighting.

A Pindo military spox dismissed the Taliban charges as “baseless” and insisted that Pindo occupation forces “will defend our Afghan partners if attacked.” Negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul regime on a prisoner swap have also broken down, with the Taliban announcing that it was withdrawing its negotiating team from the Afghan capital after what it termed a series of “fruitless meetings.” An agreement that Kabul would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for the freeing of 1,000 soldiers, police and other pro-regime elements was part of the deal signed with Pindostan in Doha. It was described as a “confidence-building measure” that was to precede “inter-Afghan” talks that had been scheduled for Mar 10. The Pindo-backed Ghani government in Kabul was not a party to this agreement. The Taliban refused to negotiate with it, regarding it as a Pindo puppet, and Faschingstein tacitly acknowledged this characterization by excluding it from the talks. The Kabul regime subsequently attempted to link the prisoner release to the imposition of new conditions upon the Taliban, including a halt to attacks on government security forces. The Doha-based Taliban spox said that the technical team sent to Kabul would not continue participating in “fruitless meetings,” charging that the release of the movement’s prisoners had been repeatedly “delayed under one pretext or another.” Ghani’s government spox claimed that the Taliban has demanded the release of 15 of its senior commanders held prisoner by the regime. Matin Bek, a member of the government’s negotiating team, told reporters on Monday that the government refused the demand, saying:

We don’t want them to go back to the battlefield and capture a whole province.

The regime is loath to release the prisoners without extracting concessions from the Taliban. It sees them as one of its few bargaining chips under conditions in which the Taliban has gained control over more territory than at any time since the Oct 2001 Pindo invasion that overthrew the Taliban regime. Today, over half the country is either controlled or contested by the Taliban. On Mar 23, Pompeo made an unscheduled trip to Afghanistan, where he announced that Faschingstein was cutting off $1b in aid to the Kabul regime this year and would do the same in 2021 if Ghani & Abdullah did not reach an accommodation. According to a report by NBC this week, he also threatened that Pindostan would carry out a complete withdrawal of all of its troops from the country. Under the agreement signed in Doha, the number of Pindo troops in Afghanistan was supposed to be cut from the present deployment of 13,000 to 8,600 by July, with a complete withdrawal within 14 months. In return, the Taliban pledged to deny the use of Afghan soil by AQ or any other group that poses a threat to the “security interests” of Pindostan & its vassals. The threat of renewed fighting, government paralysis and the slashing of Pindo aid, with foreign aid accounting for 40% of Afghanistan’s GDP, comes amid a mounting threat that the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic will exact a devastating toll on the country’s impoverished population. After more than 18 years of Pindo war and occupation, the country’s health care system is devastated, while over 40% of its 38.4 million people live below the poverty line, without access to clean water or sewerage systems and living in crowded communal dwellings. There are more than 1 million internally displaced persons in Afghanistan as a result of the war, while millions more have fled into exile.

The threat that the coronavirus will sweep the country is based not only on these social conditions, but also on the impact of hundreds of thousands of Afghan migrant workers returning from Iran, having lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and the impact of tightening Pindo sanctions. Iran has one of the highest rates of infection in the world, with over 62,000 confirmed cases and nearly 4,000 deaths. Both figures are believed to be extreme under-estimates. Afghanistan has reported only 423 cases and 14 deaths thus far, but with the near-total absence of testing and the lack of medical care for much of the population, these figures are a fraction of the real toll. In the western province of Herat, on the border with Iran, officials have reported that 41 health care workers from one regional hospital have tested positive with coronavirus. Doctors and nurses there say that they lack personal protection equipment. On Monday, there was the first case of a doctor dying from the disease at a private hospital in Kabul. More than 200,000 Afghans have poured back across the border from Iran since the beginning of the year. At the height of this exodus last month, 15,000 were crossing a day. None of them were checked for symptoms or subjected to quarantines, and they have scattered throughout the country, doubtless many carrying the virus with them. The path for the coronavirus to ravage Afghanistan has been paved by a Pindo war of aggression that has killed or wounded hundreds of thousands of Afghans and laid waste to the entire country, while claiming the lives of nearly 2,400 Pindo troops. While the estimated cost of this war is over $1t, Faschingstein has offered a miserable $15m in aid to Afghanistan to fight the pandemic. Imperialist foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. Just as the ruling class is shoveling trillions of dollars into Wall Street, the banks and corporations while failing to provided resources to save the lives of the sick or protect those of health care workers at home, so it is prepared to spend $1t on war in Afghanistan, while offering a pittance to stem the tide of the pandemic sweeping over the war-torn and impoverished country.

mass murder in nazi britain

Our lockdown was supposed to protect the most vulnerable, the elderly, from COVID-19, but we’re achieving precisely the opposite
Rob Lyons, RT.com, Apr 7 2020

Rob Lyons is a UK journalist specialising in science, environmental and health issues. He is the author of ‘Panic on a Plate: How Society Developed an Eating Disorder.’

Putting old people under virtual house arrest at home or in their care homes, denying them proper medical care, destroying the value of their pensions. How are these devastating measures supposed to be helping them? COVID-19 is a disease that is disproportionately dangerous to older people and those with serious underlying health conditions. The most frightening figures from the overall death toll attributable to the disease arise where health services are overwhelmed and cannot cope with large numbers of elderly people who have contracted it. In short, the lockdowns that we are seeing around the world should be largely justified by saving the lives of older people. The trouble is that stories are also emerging which suggest that older people are not being protected anywhere near as well as we might expect. This first became apparent in Italy. Even as early as mid-March, there were reports that Piedmont had put in place guidelines to refuse intensive care for the over-80s if resources became too stretched. It is true that old and frail people may simply not be well enough to benefit from being put on a ventilator. But having a policy simply based on age suggests the lives of older people are regarded as less important.

In the Netherlands last week, there was controversy over older people receiving phone calls from doctors asking questions about intensive care treatment, such as being put on ventilation, should they become infected. In the UK, there seems to be a proliferation in the use of ‘do not resuscitate’ orders, now formally called ‘respect forms.’ DNRs are valuable where a patient, their family and doctors agree that attempts to resuscitate could do more harm than good when the patient suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest. But the use of DNRs has become promiscuous in recent weeks. A doctor’s surgery in south Wales sent out letters to some patients, asking them to complete a DNR so they wouldn’t be taken to hospital if they got COVID-19. These went not just to older people but those with disabilities and long-term illnesses. A Labour MP, Peter Kyle, has warned that care homes in his south-coast constituency of Hove were applying DNRs “en masse,” and there have been reports on social media of GPs signing DNRs on behalf of patients, apparently against their wishes. More commonly, there is pressure on patients to get DNRs in place now, leaving family members and other observers worried that undue pressure has been placed on older people to agree to them.

Indeed, OAPs may not even be reaching hospital at all when they become seriously unwell. Barbara Keeley, another Labour MP, has pointed to deaths in care homes where elderly patients weren’t taken to hospital. There have been five deaths at one care home in Salford, and 13 residents at a Glasgow care home died in one week following a suspected outbreak of coronavirus which also affected two staff. Some of Britain’s biggest care providers have complained that they have been denied coronavirus tests and that GPs were no longer visiting care homes, saying: “You just feel completely abandoned.” Moreover, conditions in care homes are alarming. Always chronically underfunded, they are having to take on many of the functions of hospitals without anything like the trained staff, personal protective equipment and other resources required. The dedication and courage of low-paid care-home workers in these circumstances gets little acknowledgement. The virus can spread easily within care homes. Last month, the Spanish military was called in to help at care homes, and found elderly patients abandoned and even dead in their beds. With so many staff off sick or self-isolating, agency staff who work in several different homes are a potential means for spreading disease. All the while, the homes are in lockdown, so that families cannot see their loved ones.

For those care-home residents with dementia, being cut off from their families, the only people they may still recognize, will be a terrifying experience. Even for those elderly people able to live in their own homes, the effect of the lockdown could be debilitating. No-one over 70 years is supposed to leave their home or have visitors. Firstly, the isolation could have a very negative impact on their mental health. Secondly, sheer lack of physical movement could lead to circulatory problems or a loss of physical capability that is never recovered. Finally, there is the claim that anyone who criticizes the lockdown is choosing to put the economy ahead of the lives of older people. But the dichotomy is false. Many older people rely on savings and private pensions. That kind of income is threatened by a severe economic downturn. Pension pots are serviced by company dividends, which are being increasingly canceled as profits dry up. Interest rates have been slashed, so savings will earn zero interest. If penny-pinching around social care was bad before this crisis, won’t it be worse when governments are racking up huge debts to pay for emergency economic measures?

Ultimately, there is something more intangible, too: freedom. Who decided on behalf of older people that they should be placed under informal, if not explicit, house arrest? Did anyone ask what level of risk they were prepared to accept? As they come towards the end of their lives, might the dangers of COVID19 seem less than the risk of losing some precious months of living life to the full? When we are told that society must be locked down for weeks or months, we need to balance the harms of such measures against the harms of a more liberal approach. With all the focus on cases and death tolls, we are missing the devastating consequences of these lockdowns for the very people they are supposed to protect. If we really want to protect the elderly and vulnerable, we should be working fast to normalize society as soon as possible.

British PM a victim of his “herd immunity” policy
Robert Stevens, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

UK PM Boris Johnson remains in an intensive care unit, fighting for his life after self-isolating for 10 days having contracted the coronavirus. Johnson was rushed to London’s St Thomas’ hospital Sunday evening from Downing Street, after his condition worsened and he had problems breathing. On Monday evening he was sent to an intensive care ward. On Mar 27, the prime minister announced on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with coronavirus. In upbeat tones he declared:

I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus, that’s to say, a temperature and a persistent cough. Be in no doubt that I can continue to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus.

Despite attempts by Johnson, his government and the media to play down how ill he was, it was clear to everyone from the brief video messages he tweeted from Downing Street and when he emerged from the door of Number 10 last Thursday to join in the national “clap for the NHS” that he was in in a bad way. Trying to downplay Johnson’s plight, a Downing Street spokesman issued a statement Tuesday saying:

PM Johnson is receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance and does not have pneumonia.

This prompted banner headlines declaring that Johnson was not being ventilated and was “stable.” But while Johnson is not on a ventilator, he is one step away from requiring it. The University of Reading’s Dr Simon Clarke said:

The NHS, particularly at this moment, doesn’t give up intensive care beds just for people to be looked over. It doesn’t work like that, even for prime ministers.

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, commented:

Sadly about half of cases (50.1%) that go into critical care still die. This is much higher than for other viral pneumonias (22.4%).

Speaking at a press conference Monday, Dominic Raab said he would be carrying out duties on Johnson’s behalf. It was revealed that Michael Gove is also self-isolating, and Downing Street issued a statement that should Raab be unable to fulfill his duties, they would be assumed by Rishi Sunak. It has emerged that attempts to downplay Johnson’s predicament were only finally abandoned because the Pindo administration asked directly how bad he was. The Daily Mail reported Tuesday:

It took an intervention from our oldest ally master across the Atlantic for questions to be asked about just how serious Mr Johnson’s illness was. When Donald Trump declared that all Pindos were praying for the prime minister, it soon emerged this was not typical hyperbole from the President.

Despite acres of coverage, little is being even hinted at regarding the most blindingly obvious fact: Johnson contracted COVID-19 and requires intensive care because he was a victim of his government’s own policy of tackling the virus by means of achieving “herd immunity,” the mass infection of the population. Johnson, If carried out as planned, this policy would have resulted in untold thousands dying. On Mar 3, with the virus spreading rapidly and 100,000 cases recorded globally and with the WHO warning of a potential pandemic, Johnson told a press conference:

I continue to shake hands.

He said he had just visited a hospital ward that included meeting COVID-19 patients and had shaken everyone’s hand. Two days later, as the UK’s first death from coronavirus was announced, and after shaking hands with the hosts of ITV This Morning, Johnson was asked why there was no cancellation of public events or closing of schools. He replied:

One of the theories is, that perhaps you could take it on the chin, take it all in one go and allow the disease, as it were, to move through the population, without taking as many draconian measures.

Later that day he declared:

Basically we’re saying, Wash your hands and business as usual.

On Mar 12, flanked by his chief medical and scientific officers, Johnson announced the herd immunity policy. One day earlier, health minister Nadine Dorries announced she had caught the virus. She had been in touch with hundreds of people, including Johnson. As deaths mounted, Johnson was forced to announce social distancing measures and then a lockdown on Mar 23. Johnson and the government clearly believed their own PR and disregarded scientifically grounded warnings from health experts as to how infectious and dangerous COVID-19 is. He continued attending Parliament until it went into recess on Mar 25. The previous day he held a cabinet meeting in Downing Street with three other cabinet members present. Three of the four attending in person, Johnson, Hancock and Whitty were laid low by the virus. On Mar 27, Johnson finally announced he had contracted COVID-19 and had “mild symptoms.” The blasé attitude to the coronavirus impacted on Johnson’s partner Carrie Symonds, who is six months pregnant. She remained with Johnson at Downing Street until he announced he had been diagnosed. On Apr 3, Symonds announced she had spent the previous week ill in bed with coronavirus symptoms. On Mar 30, Johnson’s main adviser Dominic Cummings was seen running out of Downing Street after developing symptoms over the previous days, and has not been seen since. It was not until the very last minute that Johnson received hospital treatment. He became seriously ill because he was trying to maintain a pretence, for political expediency, that he was fine. To do otherwise would have raised again how criminal his “herd immunity” policy was. Johnson et al were keen to stress that the COVID-19 pandemic would soon spike and begin to level off, after which the UK economy would need to get back to normal—meaning workers must return promptly to their places of employment and begin generating profit for the corporations and banks once again. Whatever Johnson’s personal fate, the herd immunity policy that landed him seriously ill in hospital, in place for weeks before he was forced to abandon it, has contributed to many thousands of people nationwide becoming infected and thousands dying. As the WSWS reported on the day Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital, nine National Health Service workers and 12 public transport workers were reported to have died. Their blood is on the government’s hands.

UK postal workers take unofficial strike action over lack of safety measures
Paul Lee, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

Postal workers in three separate parts of the country, Hedge End in Hampshire, Winchester and Medway, Kent took unofficial strike action over safety concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Workers in Hedge End walked out because of an “unsafe workplace,” one said. They felt that Royal Mail had treated them “with no respect.” According to one worker, the strike in Hedge End had been “bubbling up for several weeks.” Postal workers at Hedge End face similar conditions to those all over the country. One month into the pandemic, postal workers are still not able to social distance and have a lack of personal protection equipment when out delivering mail. As one worker said:

How are we supposed to wash our hands on a four-hour shift delivering post? It is just ridiculous, and some of us are having to supply our own equipment.

Postal workers have received backing from residents in Winchester, who have taken to social media to show their support. Before these latest strikes had broken out, postal workers in Scotland had taken unofficial action over similar safety concerns. Communication Workers Union members at a delivery office in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, walked out on Monday, refusing to deliver any more junk mail. At the same time, postal workers are being forced to deliver over 30m letters containing the UK government’s coronavirus health advice. One worker said:

Postmen and women are dying delivering leaflets and non-essential items. There should be outrage amongst all posties and the public.

It was announced recently that two postal workers had died of the coronavirus. One postal worker expressed the anger felt by thousands, saying:

We get told the golden rule is to wash hands, but when you are out on delivery, everywhere is shut, so it is impossible to do, and it is impossible to keep two metres apart. People at home are treating it like a second Xmas, so we are hammered every day with packets, which makes the spread of the virus a high risk. This is why Royal Mail is mistreating us. They are making the shareholders a fortune, and we are sitting ducks!

The callous way Royal Mail has acted is made possible by the CWU. Knowing the danger from the beginning, the union offered postal workers up on a plate to the government by calling off a planned strike and proposing to act as a “fifth emergency service.” It is only when postal workers have taken unofficial action that the CWU has been forced to respond, but only verbally. CWU Gen Sec Dave Ward said:

If workplaces do not have the right safety and social distancing measures, you should not be working, and we will back you.

But actions speak louder than words. The last few weeks of union activity, during which many workers undoubtedly became infected, were a pantomime. The CWU’s sole intention has been to maintain a well-paid seat at the negotiating table with Royal Mail and the government, under the guise of establishing an ‘emergency service.’ If the CWU will not act even when its members’ lives are imperilled, then of what possible use is the union? Royal Mail workers have reached the end of the road with the CWU. Like workers everywhere, they have been brought face to face with the transformation of the trade unions into appendages of corporate management and the state. Like their colleagues in Hedge End, Winchester, Medway and Alloa, postal workers must now take matters into their own hands. Rank and file committees independent of the CWU bureaucracy must be established in every workplace to coordinate strike action, wherever there is a failure to defend the workforce from infection. Postal workers must also reach out to workers in other industries facing similar dangerous conditions, especially in delivery services such as Amazon, cutting across all attempts to pit one section of the working class against another. Those who want to organise a genuine fightback should contact the Socialist Equality Party.

Unions agree to salary furlough at British Airways
Paul Bond, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

Two trade unions last week agreed terms for a salary furlough for more than 30,000 British Airways workers in a “modified” version of the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The workers will receive 80% of their wages from the government’s wage subsidy scheme, but BA will also pay 80% of their allowances rather than observing the restriction on 80% of total earnings. The unions were also negotiating for shift pay to be included in the 80% figure. The deal has been put to BA workers for a decision by Apr 15. The Unite union claims it has secured BA’s agreement that no worker will be laid off without pay during the furlough, and that there will be no redundancies, but this seems only a temporary halt to ongoing redundancy processes. The unions have said nothing about what will follow. The GMB trade union’s Nadine Houghton wrote only:

There will be a ‘pause’ on the current redundancy consultation.

Commentators are already asking how many staff BA will actually require when operations resume. The inclusion of allowances, enabling the agreement to exceed 80% of earnings, is misleading. It highlights the way lower wages are often disguised by allowances and extras that form no part of basic income. It is also more likely to benefit only higher-paid employees. One commentator said BA’s deal may be expensive “given the numbers of managerial staff who will benefit.” Staff costs are estimated to account for around 40% of an airline’s expenditure. Other airlines, including EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic, have also applied for government funds. EasyJet, which is not currently flying, has secured a £600m government loan and will seek another $500 million in commercial loans. Unions have agreed to EasyJet’s furlough of 4,000 of its 9,000 pilots and crew. Major shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou previously told them to take unpaid leave, days after pocketing his personal dividend of nearly £60m. He is demanding the company cancel a contract with Airbus for new planes, stating that he will not put any further money into EasyJet otherwise. Alongside BA, Virgin, the most vocal in demanding government bailouts for the aviation industry, is being hired by the government for repatriation flights. With many rivals grounded, BA is taking a major cut of the £75m fee for these flights. Its 16,500 cabin crew are the largest group of BA workers affected. Part of their pay is directly made up of flying allowances, so many will lose more than 20% of their income. A week earlier, BA stood down new entrants to their Mixed Fleet cabin crew, telling them:

You will be laid off during this time, and the company will not be making any pension contributions during the lay-off period.

BA’s deal, negotiated by Unite and supported by the GMB, enables workers to divert their pension contributions into salary during the furlough. This may bring them closer to actual salary, as pension contributions range between 9% and 18% of pay at the company but deprives them of pension benefits later. Where BA continues operations, suspensions will be shared between staff, with alternating attendance of six weeks off and two weeks on. BA has completely suspended all operations at some airports, where all staff will be furloughed. Website Travelmole reports:

Many of the furloughed workers are expected to sign up to various volunteer programmes as part of the airline’s efforts to fight Covid-19.

Some 36,000 workers are affected, including cabin crew, ground staff, engineers, and head office workers. Four in every five workers in this sector are affected.
The Unite/GMB deal follows an earlier deal between BA and the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), representing pilots. BALPA agreed a temporary 50 percent pay cut and unpaid leave for BA’s 4,000 pilots, who will not be paid for two weeks in both April and May. The shortfall will be spread across three months. The coronavirus pandemic is having an enormous impact in aviation, with all travel reduced and airports closing down operations. The International Air Transport Association has predicted airline losses of around $40b in the next three months, in part because of the cost of refunding cancelled flights. BA is currently still flying, although it expects to operate only 10% of its usual flights during April and May. Having suspended flights at London City, the airline has now also stopped flying from London Gatwick, aiming to consolidate continued operations from London Heathrow Terminal 5. Heathrow has announced it will be closing one runway from this week. Airports across Britain are closing and furloughing workers. BA’s parent company IAG has announced it will not be paying shareholders a dividend this year. CEO Alex Cruz has spoken of BA’s “battle to survive” and the need “to act now to protect jobs and ensure BA comes out the other side of this crisis in the best possible shape.” In order to be the “last man standing,” this requires an escalation of attacks on BA’s workforce, with Cruz emailing staff that the furlough decision offered “an immediate relief on the company’s financial position.” Unite’s national officer for aviation, Oliver Richardson, described its agreement with BA “as good a deal as possible” during “this unprecedented time for the airline sector.” One source told the Sun:

Both sides are doing what they can for their loyal staff and members while ensuring that the airline survives.

The GMB’s Nadine Houghton went so far as to describe the bailing out of BA as part of campaign for “the people’s bailout package.” She appealed for “more government intervention to protect the livelihoods of many more workers across the sector,” but what it is in reality is a policy to hand even more of the public purse over to the conglomerates. The sincerity of BA’s commitment to its workers can be gauged by the fact that it only agreed to allow crew to wear masks during flights last week. Workers complained that they had been told to make do with their usual uniform. BA’s attitude was common in the industry. Workers at Manchester Airport said they had been provided with masks but no gloves or hand sanitiser. Early last month, BA crew expressed fears of raised infection risk because planes were deep cleaned only monthly. One cabin crew member said:

The aircraft were given a basic clean by cleaners who use the same cloths to wipe down galleys and surfaces.

Even as BA stood down crew without any clear idea how staff levels would be filled, there were complaints to crew boss Amy James about compromised safety due to non-existent social distancing. Senior crew wrote:

From the moment crew arrive at the car park our safety is being compromised, on the bus to Terminal 5, in the briefing room where we all sit shoulder to shoulder, on the crew transport to the hotel where we sit next to each other, in small galleys with our colleagues, and of course in the cabin where we have hundreds of passengers that we spend hours in contact with.

Enthusiasm for government wage subsidies is not confined to aviation. Publishers are also furloughing staff and cutting wages. JPI Media, which produces The Scotsman, has furloughed 350 staff, implementing 15% wage cuts for the remainder. Evening Standard owner ESI Media has furloughed some staff and cut wages by 20% for those earning over £37,500. The latest to follow suit is Reach, formerly Trinity Mirror, which publishes the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and many regional titles. Announcing a 20% pay cut for all board members and most senior editorial staff, the halting of company bonus schemes for 2020, and the cancellation of the 2019 final dividend, Reach furloughed 940 staff, around one fifth of the total, on 90% of their wages. Again, this will likely impact on the lowest-paid employees. Reach made a point of emphasising that the reduced pay would not fall below the Living Wage of just £9.30/hr and £10.75/hr in London. Reach’s chief executive Jim Mullen and chief financial officer Simon Fuller will not have a problem, having each received almost £300k in 2019 bonuses at the end of March. They were also given shares worth £1.18m relating to the company’s long-term incentive scheme. The National Union of Journalists do not appear to have been consulted on Reach’s proposals, but have responded as to what their role will be in implementing the cuts. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

We are in discussions with the company about the measures they have announced, nand we intend to engage fully with them about those provisions and how management seeks to apply them.

Reach is also seeking discussions on deferring payments to its pension fund, to which it pays £4.1m/month. In last year’s annual report, Reach posted a pension deficit of £295.9m. Reach had made £48.9m in payments, exposing the reality of talk about “a deferment of current contributions.” Reach’s pre-tax profits for 2019 were £150.6m on revenues of £702.5m.

mass murdering swine on top deserve hanging

Pindostan smashes daily COVID-19 death record again with over 1,700 fatalities in 24 hours, as outbreaks accelerate beyond New York
RT.com, Apr 8 2020

Pindostan has set a new record for its daily mortality count, reporting just shy of 2,000 new deaths in the span of a single day, as fatalities in New York and beyond continue to mount. While stats in recent days appeared to show deaths leveling off, the latest figures gathered by Johns Hopkins University indicate that Tuesday was the deadliest day yet in Pindostan, with some 1,736 new fatalities. New York state has been the greatest contributor to the death toll by far, but the new data shows that deaths are also surging in other states.

New York records worst death toll in pandemic, as 731 die in one day
Josh Varlin, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

New York state marked a grim milestone Monday, with 731 deaths from COVID-19 recorded. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters the next day that this made Monday the deadliest day yet in the coronavirus pandemic for the state, coming after two days of fewer than 500 deaths. By the time Cuomo made his announcement, deaths in NYC alone had surpassed the 2,977 killed on 9/11, and as of this writing 4,009 have died in America’s largest city from the pandemic. Tuesday saw 727 deaths in NYC alone, the worst day so far for the largest city in Pindostan. As of this writing, New York state has 138,836 confirmed cases, more than any country except Spain and Pindostan as a whole. Of these cases, 76,876 are in NYC, with substantial cases in the surrounding counties, including Long Island’s Nassau (16,610) and Suffolk (14,517) counties and Westchester County (14,804), just north of the city. Rockland, Orange, Dutchess and Erie counties all have over 1,000 cases, and Monroe County, which includes the economically devastated city of Rochester, has a major cluster of 596 cases. The neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut have 44,416 cases and 7,781 cases, respectively. More than 1,000 people died in the three states combined on Monday. All of these figures, both the cases as well as the fatalities, must be considered substantial underestimates. In particular, people dying in their homes, rather than in a hospital, has seen a huge surge from the same time last year. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has said that 200 NYC residents are dying at home each day, comparable to the daily average in hospitals last week, whereas only 20-25 people would die at home on a typical day before the pandemic. While a huge portion of these deaths are reported to the city’s health department as “probable” COVID-19 deaths, those who have died at home are not tested and, if there was not a pending test from before they died that comes back positive, are not reported as official COVID-19 deaths. Even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio admits that “the vast majority” of these deaths are likely due to the coronavirus.

While Cuomo and de Blasio have sounded cautiously optimistic notes about a slight decrease in hospitalization rates over a couple days, the sudden spike in deaths at home and in hospitals makes clear that the apex has not been reached in New York. The working-class boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx have the highest numbers of known cases, with Queens and the Bronx having the highest rates of infection. Bronx residents had a disproportionate fatality rate, likely due to significant higher rates of asthma and other preexisting conditions associated with poverty that make it much harder to survive COVID-19. In particular, air pollution appears to play a significant role in lowering individuals’ ability to fight off the coronavirus, with a Harvard study recently submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine for review finding that long-term exposure to just one microgram per cubic meter of particulate matter in air pollution increased the chance of dying from coronavirus by 15%. While some city council members, the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and pseudo-left organizations have portrayed the high fatality rate in the Bronx and elsewhere as principally a racial issue, poverty is at the root of disproportionate death tolls among minority groups. The situation has deteriorated to the point that the Pindo military is sending hundreds of medical personnel to NYC, after both Cuomo and de Blasio pleaded with the federal government to send troops. In addition to the approximately 600 personnel already in New York, Sec Def Esper told the press on Apr 5 that the military would send 1,100 more doctors, nurses and medical aides, with hundreds working in understaffed hospitals and the majority taking over the Javits Convention Center, which has been repurposed into a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 patients. Esper proclaimed:

We will soon be taking over the Javits Center, a 2,500-bed capacity, to show you how all-in we are. The Pindo military will soon be running the largest hospital in Pindostan.

The other much-touted military effort, the deployment of the navy hospital ship Comfort, has proven to be a cruel farce. When originally announced, the ship was under repair. After arriving in New York Harbor last week, the ship, with an official capacity of 1,000 beds, treated about 20 non-COVID-19 patients at first. Then, after patients with COVID-19 were unintentionally brought on board, the military announced that the ship would be converted to treat COVID-19 patients, but with a reduced capacity of 500 beds. A crew member has tested positive for the disease, and likely contracted it in Virginia before the Comfort deployed to New York, according to the Navy. The turn toward the military, while at least for now ostensibly requesting purely medical assistance, has ominous implications for democratic rights in the epicenter of the pandemic. The NYPD has begun arresting people because they allegedly “failed to maintain social distancing.” For the crime of allegedly gathering in crowds during a pandemic, the NYPD throws violators into a crowded jail cell with dozens of other people and no soap or water. Cuomo has demanded that the police do more, fuming:

The NYPD has to get more aggressive, period.

Not to be outdone, the erstwhile “progressive” de Blasio has asked New Yorkers to snitch on each other and call a non-emergency line to summon law enforcement if they see a lack of social distancing, presumably so their neighbors can also be confined to crowded and unsanitary jail cells. Earlier this week, city boxtops reported that part of the city’s pandemic plan, if morgues, temporary morgues and mass graves on Hart Island became overwhelmed, was to create temporary graves in a public park. Councilman Mark Levine, who originally tweeted this, noted that it would “be tough for NYC to take.” No doubt concerned about a social explosion, de Blasio was quick to say:

There will never, ever be anything like ‘mass graves’ or ‘mass internment’ in NYC, ever.

Levine clarified that the plan was for if New Yorkers continue to die at an increasing rate such that Rikers Island prisoners are unable to bury them quickly enough on Hart Island, traditionally the city’s cite for unclaimed bodies. Despite the growing number of infections and deaths, Cuomo has sought to reassure the population that as yet, the capacity of the health care system to treat patients had not been overwhelmed and no-one had died for lack of care. Yesterday he claimed:

I don’t believe we’ve lost a single person because we couldn’t provide care. People we lost we couldn’t save despite our best efforts.

This is false, bluntly, and Cuomo almost certainly knows it. Despite the heroic efforts of medical workers, the health care system in New York is clearly overwhelmed and people are dying of COVID-19 and other illnesses who would not have died had the system had greater capacity, to say nothing of if containment measures were implemented earlier. A physician in the Bronx recently relayed to the WSWS:

Our A&E is full of patients. Sometimes we can’t get to them, and they die there. I don’t know how many have died.

Non-COVID-19 patients are also dying due to the pandemic. Paramedics and EMTs are no longer bringing to the hospital patients who have suffered cardiac arrest if their heartbeat can’t be restored in the field, because hospitals and medical personnel are working beyond capacity. Dr Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University said:

Deaths because of reduced care for other non-COVID diseases, including chronic conditions, should be somehow tallied as we’re looking at the death toll of COVID.

With little end in sight to the pandemic, Cuomo has extended until the end of April statewide measures to shutter nonessential businesses and enforce social distancing. No less than Trump, Cuomo is anxious to restart the economy. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, all Demagogs, have announced that they are looking to restart the tristate region’s economy as soon as possible. Cuomo has said:

You’re not going to end the infection, end the virus, before you start restarting life. I don’t think we have that luxury.

While the governors are more cautious than Trump, they are clearly motivated by economic concerns, not public health. Cuomo has repeatedly raised letting young people back to work early, or relying on an antibody test which will soon be implemented, even though it is not yet clear if antibodies will provide immunity or, if so, for how long. Politico, reporting on the governors’ plan, noted:

Some public health experts have reservations about that approach, citing the difficulty in separating young people who may be exposed if they return to work from their elderly relatives or those with underlying conditions. Priority for an antibody test should be given to health care and other frontline workers, they suggested.

More than 700 employees at one Detroit hospital system test positive for coronavirus
John Bowden, The Hill, Apr 6 2020

Hundreds of staff at a Detroit-area hospital system have tested positive for coronavirus, the system’s chief clinical officer said Monday evening. Dr Adnan Munkarah of the Henry Ford Health System confirmed 731 cases of the coronavirus among employees at the hospital system, accounting for 2% of the hospital system’s 31,600 employees. As many as 1,500 at another hospital system in the state have reported symptoms similar to coronavirus, though those numbers are not confirmed cases. Munkarah told reporters on a press call earlier in the day:

If we are to test the whole population, you are going to see large numbers of people who are testing positive. Testing positive is just a measure of how contagious this virus is.

Munkarah said in a separate statement Monday evening confirming the total number of positive test results:

Our team members are our greatest asset, and their health and safety is a top priority as we continue to respond to this pandemic. We know we are not immune to potential exposure and we remain grateful for the courage and dedication of our entire team.

Detroit has seen a surge of coronavirus cases in recent days. Michigan has seen just over 17,000 cases of the virus, the third-largest total of any state. More than 5,000 of those cases were reported in Detroit, where hundreds have died. The hospital system’s chief operating officer added in a statement that staff were working “24/7” to acquire more personal protective equipment for nurses and doctors including masks, which hospitals across the country have reported trouble obtaining.

WHO warns against premature ending of social distancing measures
Bryan Dyne, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

As countries around the world openly discuss how to send workers back to plants, warehouses and offices, even as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the WHO has warned that ending social distancing measures prematurely and without sufficient preparation can rapidly accelerate the ongoing public health crisis. During Monday’s WHO press conference, Executive Director Dr Michael Ryan stressed:

It would be very inadvisable to just lift lockdown if the number of cases coming through the hospital is already at a level where your occupancy of beds is nearly at 100%. You need to be in a position where you now have free beds in your system so that you’re managing and coping with your case load. You’ll see in somewhere like Korea, 2% to 6% of their samples are testing positive. Last week in New York 37% of tested samples were positive.

That the rate of positive cases is so high indicates a large number of undetected people infected with the coronavirus. These themes were further developed in a briefing on the situation in Europe Tuesday, when WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier made clear:

One of the most important parts is not to let go of the measures too early in order not to have a fall back again.

The warnings of the WHO come as the number of deaths worldwide approach 82,000 and the number of officially confirmed cases bursts past 1.4 million. Pindostan alone accounts for nearly 400,000 of the cases and almost 13,000 deaths, with a record 1,970 dead from the virus in the past 24 hours. While Ryan and Lindmeier did not name names, they are no doubt referencing recent press conferences given by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in which he stated:

We are going to have to restart the economy.

Trump stated, along the same lines, “We want to get it opened soon,” justifying this by asserting that the “signs are that our strategy is totally working” and that “maybe we’re getting to the very top of the curve.” The line being put forward by Trump, Cuomo and the political establishment is that mitigation measures have proven successful and as the number of new cases decline then the country should begin thinking about sending workers back to the factories, schools, warehouses and offices en masse sometime sooner rather than later. It is not the massive loss of life that ultimately bothers Trump and the financial oligarchs, but that “the cure should not be worse than the disease.” Workers must be sent back to work in order for corporations to keep making billions off their labor. Such a back-to-work order would be disastrous for the working class. First, Trump’s comments dismiss situations like that in Michigan, where the number of cases and deaths are still clearly trending upward. Second, as long as there are any new cases, the pandemic can flare up again, potentially worse than before if people are forced to work in close proximity while the virus is still active. Historical data on pandemics is very clear that lockdowns should not be ended as the number of new cases is declining, or even when new cases reach zero, but when there have been no new cases for a few weeks or even a month. As stated by the WHO’s Dr Ryan:

To chart a path out, you have to build strong public health capacity to take over from the lockdown. In other words, the lockdown is pushing the disease down by putting people back in their homes and separating communities. But once you raise the lockdown you have to have an alternative method to suppress the infection. The way to do that is active case finding, testing, isolation of cases, tracking of contacts, quarantine of contacts, and strong community education.

Such measures have yet to be placed into action within Pindostan, despite Trump’s boasts that Pindostan has done the most testing in the world. This has only been true for the past few weeks, before which the number of tests conducted was criminally low and allowed the coronavirus to spread in the population for weeks. And testing is still not available for the population as a whole, or for health care workers on the frontline, but remains reserved only for those who are hospitalized with sufficient symptoms, as defined by changing criteria. The implication is that the true extent of the virus is still unknown and pursing a relaxation of mitigation efforts will be disastrous for the public at large. It should also be noted the number of detected cases is related to the amount of testing done. The number of confirmed new cases in New York decreased in previous days as did the number of tests performed by the state. Testing only symptomatic cases indicates that their contacts and suspected individuals are still uncounted. This implies that the scope of the outbreak is more enormous than the numbers suggest. Alongside laying the groundwork to force workers back to work, Trump has also begun to heavily criticize the WHO for its response to the pandemic, in order to undermine their stark although understated objections to Trump’s designs. In a tweet Tuesday, he ranted:

The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by Pindostan, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately, I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?

He continued these themes at yesterday’s press conference, claiming:

They called it wrong. They could have called it months earlier. They would have known. They should’ve known and they probably did know. So, we’ll be looking into them very carefully. And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO.

This was picked up in major news publications including the WSJ, which published an article by its editorial board on Sunday headlined thus:

WHO’s bows to Beijing have harmed the global response to the pandemic.

The article” railed that the agency’s “misinformation” allowed the virus to “spread to several countries” because of its “canoodling with Beijing.” It at the same time, it gushed about Trump’s travel ban against China as “slowing the spread of the virus,” despite the fact that Pindostan has more than a quarter of the world’s coronavirus cases as a result of the administration’s inaction in January, February and the first part of March. This is not the first time the Rupert Murdoch-owned publication has attacked the WHO for its supposedly Chinese-centric focus. As early as Feb 13, the newspaper was writing, “WHO bowed to Chinese pressure” in not declaring a public emergency early in January. In fact, WHO did declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan 29, before Pindostan assembled its coronavirus task force and well before Trump declared a national emergency. It should be mentioned that Trump had been made aware of the potential consequences for Pindostan by Peter Navarro, one of Trump’s high-ranking assistants, and Alex Azar, head of Health and Human Services, before their declaration. Of course, neither Trump, the editors of the WSJ nor any of the big banks they serve are ultimately concerned about the medical response of the WHO. They see a mortal threat in the fear that “China inevitably gains more international clout as its economy grows.” This is especially true as China’s economy begins to re-open after having been closed since January, while that of the US remains essentially in lockdown. These are the calculations made by the Pindo ruling elite. They see China emerging from the pandemic in a stronger geopolitical position, which cannot be tolerated. There is no thought given to the tens of thousands that have already died, the hundreds of thousands of infected and the hundreds of millions who face the loss of their livelihoods as a result of this pandemic. They do not consider the ramifications of their actions for the working class by sending them back to face a resurgence of the infection. The working class must make its own calculations, based on the preservation of human life and the compensation of all those who cannot yet safely return to work. This must be based on the broadest struggle against the control by the capitalist class over all aspects of economic life in the drive for private profit. The resources that have been placed at the disposal of the banks and major corporations must be redirected towards ending this pandemic and establishing a socialist economy based on the interests of humanity on a global scale.

Pindo automakers planning return to work before coronavirus danger subsides
Tom Hall, Jessica Goldstein, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

On Monday, Fiat Chrysler announced it would push back the restart date for its north American production facilities by three weeks, from Apr 14 to May 4. Ford indicated the same day that it would likely no longer restart in April as currently planned. General Motors has never officially announced a set timetable to reopen its plants, declaring that it would instead evaluate the situation on a weekly basis. Also, this week, Nissan, Honda and BMW, which operate assembly plants throughout the southern states of Pindostan, announced they would place workers on unpaid furloughs for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. While they will continue to receive health insurance, workers will have to apply for unemployment in order to replace their lost income. Many of the industrial states where the Pindo auto industry is concentrated will likely remain under lockdown orders throughout the month of April. Michigan, the center of the Pindo auto industry, is currently under lockdown through Apr 13, although this will likely be extended. The Michigan state legislature voted yesterday to extend governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency powers through Apr 30. Michigan has the third-highest number of cases in the country, at more than 17,000. The ultimate decision over when to reopen the plants, however, has been left to the discretion of the auto companies, whose operations are considered “critical national infrastructure” under federal DHS guidelines.

The twin announcements do not come out of an abundance of caution for autoworkers’ safety. All three Detroit automakers, with the collaboration of the UAW union, used lies and threats to keep workers on the job until a wave of wildcat strikes and job actions in mid-March forced them to shutter north American production. Rather, the automakers are biding their time, carefully but assiduously planning out a return to work before the pandemic danger subsides. From the point of view of Wall Street, the potential loss of billions in revenue during a prolonged shutdown is totally unacceptable. Even before the pandemic, the auto companies were under immense pressure from their investors to improve their profit margins, under conditions of declining sales worldwide, through “restructuring,” including mass layoffs and plant closures. While the stock markets have rallied on the basis of the injection of trillions in cash by the world’s central banks and governments, this money must ultimately be paid out through the increased exploitation of the working class. Following the Wall Street bailout in 2008, the Obama administration carried out a forced restructuring of the auto industry in 2009, which slashed pay for new hires by half, gutted retiree health benefits and vastly expanded temporary labor. Trump is escalating his demands for a return to work as soon possible, repeating the mantra taken up by much of the political establishment and corporate media that the “cure cannot be worse than the disease.” On Apr 2, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), a prominent industry think tank, hosted a webinar with the following title:

Arsenal of Health: How automakers and suppliers are stepping up to support the medical response to the COVID-19 crisis.

In spite of the title, the central preoccupation of the assembled industry analysts and executives was restarting production as soon as possible. CAR is holding another webinar this afternoon, more bluntly titled “The Playbook for Restarting Production.” The webinar was held shortly before the official death toll among Pindo autoworkers rose to 17, including 11 Fiat Chrysler workers and 6 Ford workers. GM has not announced any death totals, although 26 people have already died in Flint and the surrounding Genesee County, where much of its production is still located. Auto parts lobbyist Julie Fream, a former vice president for Visteon, told the webinar’s participants:

The challenge is to balance employee safety with the need of these companies from a financial perspective to get moving.

Fream explained that her lobby group, the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, was heavily involved in crafting the language of the massive bailout passed by Congress last month, ensuring in particular that mid-sized auto suppliers received a cut of the $2t on offer. Fream admitted that the auto industry’s conversion of a small fraction of its industrial capacity to producing medical equipment such as ventilators and face shields is primarily a “feelgood” measure, both for public consumption, and to test out methods the companies need to convince workers to return to work, despite the continued danger. Ford and GM, working with the UAW union, have recruited a few hundred workers for these projects in Michigan and Indiana. Fream said:

When you talk about making a product for the medical device companies or PPE, especially for suppliers it is a relatively small portion of what they do. There is a really feel good factor about this, but there is also a pulling together of the workforce behind this, and the team supporting this. Many suppliers have looked for volunteer workers at this time and done some unique things to manage the cost basis.

CAR president Carla Bailo added:

This is a North American issue. Returning back to work requires that Pindostan, Canada and Mexico all be in sync. It can’t be a hodgepodge because our sourcing and supply chains are so intermingled together.

Fream replied:

In looking at that, we have to understand what Mexico is saying about businesses coming back on-line so we can define how the rest of the rest of the north American region comes back on-line. We need to work together so we can have a strong, rapid-as-possible and safe start.

While the Pindo automakers would no doubt like to use Mexican workers as their guinea pigs to restart production throughout the continent, opposition is already spreading among Mexican auto parts workers. Wildcat strikes have broken out among thousands of auto parts workers in the border city of Matamaoros, who have been kept on the job under cover of the government’s malleable definition of “essential businesses.” As with the massive strike last year by many of the same Matamoros workers, waged both against the companies and the CTM union, this new wave of strikes has been completely blacked out in the English language press, with the exception of the WSWS. Much of the rest of the discussion in the webinar centered on social distancing and other measures which the companies could enact, including plexiglass dividers, touchless doors and water fountains. But these are only stopgaps which will, at best, slow but not stop the spread of the virus. By contrast, the city of Wuhan, China’s “Motor City” and the initial epicenter of the pandemic, is only now ending its lockdown after 76 days, after the number of new cases across the entire country has dropped to zero. Before last month’s wildcats, the auto executives and the UAW made similar promises about sanitizing plants and protecting workers. In reality, workers were forced to stay on the job in filthy conditions, without even access to masks, gloves, sanitizers or even running water in some cases. The real measures being planned were spelled out in a 51-page “Safe Work Playbook,” published by the parts supplier Lear and intended as advice for the entire industry. Pages 12 and 13 argue that masks are unnecessary for all but a “very limited number” of personnel and advises against using gloves at all. The document stupidly declares:

The COVID-19 virus does not harm your hands, and people who wear gloves are less inclined to wash their hands.

Proper removal of gloves would also require training, according to the document, which the company does not want to provide. The UAW is working overtime to reassure workers that the companies are taking workers’ safety seriously. In a recent notice sent to workers at Fiat Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, one of the plants where autoworkers downed their tools last month, UAW Local 7 president Gary Hill acknowledged three confirmed COVID-19 cases among plant workers. The letter then praised the guidelines being prepared by FCA and declared that the plant had been thoroughly cleaned. Among autoworkers, there is widespread opposition to a premature return to work and the sacrifice of workers’ lives to build unessential vehicles and boost the profits of the corporations. To protect their own safety and to prevent the spread of the virus in their communities, autoworkers should form rank-and-file committees, independent of the corrupt UAW, to organize workers to prevent any premature return to work. At the same time, autoworkers should fight for an end to all inessential production and the conversion of the auto and other industries into production for live-saving equipment and protective gear for health care workers. Rank-and-file committees must oversee safety conditions in these plants in conjunction with health care professionals. The safety of workers is incompatible with the relentless drive for corporate profit. That is why the movement to protect workers lives, which is spreading throughout every industry and across countries, must be guided by a socialist perspective, including the transformation of the auto industry into a public utility, collectively owned and democratically controlled by workers themselves.

Worker revolt spreads, demanding protections from coronavirus
Marcus Day, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

Doctors detained in Balochistan, Pakistan, following a protest against lack of equipment.
Credit: Pakistan Young Doctors Association

Strikes and demonstrations continue to break out internationally, as expanding layers of the working class are drawn into the struggle for adequate resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic and protect themselves from the disease. The total number of COVID-19 cases neared 1.5 million Tuesday night, with over 80,000 deaths. Officially reported cases in Pindostan comprise over a quarter of that number, at roughly 400,000, with new infections surging in a number of major urban areas, including NYC & Detroit. Doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and other healthcare workers are facing horrific conditions, desperately trying to save as many lives as possible, while they themselves are deprived of adequate protective equipment, necessary medical resources, or in some cases even paid sick leave. While the Trump administration has worked with congressional Demagogs to bail out the major corporations and banks with trillions of dollars, they have simultaneously carried out a policy of deliberate neglect of the measures needed to combat the pandemic and protect the population. In just one example, the Pindo Hospital Association, representing multi-billion-dollar health systems, lobbied Congress last month to kill a language in a bill that would have mandated stricter protections for health workers, according to Mother Jones. At the same time, highly exploited and impoverished workers now deemed essential, including grocery, meatpacking and food service workers, Amazon and other delivery workers and public transit workers, continue to labor in crowded workplaces themselves, almost universally lacking basic protections such as face masks and gloves. The result is predictable, with a rapidly growing number of cases and rising death toll at workplaces that continue to operate, and ominous consequences for the further spread of the disease. Thousands of workers at two of Michigan’s largest health systems, Henry Ford and Beaumont, have tested positive or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and fatalities have been reported at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Giant and UPS. Strikes to protest these conditions are frequently emerging as wildcat actions, launched independently of the trade unions, which are earning the ire of workers for their apologetics for the companies’ inaction and their own indifference. Around 30 healthcare workers demonstrated outside Harlem Hospital in New York Monday to protest the lack of protective equipment. The action followed a sit-in by nurses at a Detroit hospital early that morning. Ania Binkowska, a respiratory therapist, told the local press:

If we are not provided with sufficient PPE, we’re going to be spreading this disease to our loved ones, to other patients and it’s going to be a vicious cycle and you’re never going to be able to control it.

In western Pennsylvania, dozens of nurses walked out a rehab center last Thursday, protesting management’s refusal to provide them with N95 masks to wear around senior residents. In Pakistan, doctors launched a strike Tuesday in noncritical wards in Balochistan, the country’s poorest province. The strike was launched in response to the arrest of nearly 70 protesting physicians in Quetta, the province’s capital, on Monday. One doctor from a public hospital said:

In the trauma centre, before the coronavirus, we had enough kits that if we were operating in the operation theatre, we had a surgical mask and cap. Now we don’t even have that.

In Lesotho, a small landlocked country in Africa, doctors and healthcare workers struck Monday, protesting the government’s stonewalling of demands for protective gear. Despite being surrounded by South Africa, which has the largest numbers of COVID-19 in Africa, Lesotho has yet to report any cases, due to its absence of testing capabilities. Amazon workers at New York’s JFK8 facility on Staten Island struck for the second straight Monday, following other walkouts at Amazon locations in Chicago and Detroit over the last week. Chris Smalls, a worker at the fulfillment center in New York fired by the company after organizing an initial walkout, told Vice that he estimates nearly 30 cases at the site. In a widely reported leaked memo, Amazon’s general counsel discussed the company’s PR strategy to combat the growing worker protests, snidely calling Smalls as “not smart or articulate.” At major retail and supermarket chain Target, gig workers for its delivery service, Shipt, refused to take assignments Tuesday, demanding hazard pay, protective equipment, and strengthened sick time policies. Workers for Shipt have said that even as their work has grown more dangerous, a change in the company’s compensation algorithm has lowered their pay. Target spokesman Joe Poulos denounced the strikes, saying:

It’s unfortunate that a very small number of people were communicating there was this big strike.

In Boston, grocery store workers from a number of chains, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Stop & Shop, and others, demonstrated Tuesday. Lisa Wilson, a worker at Shaw’s and an organizer of the protest, told the Boston Globe:

There’s always a level of fear. Is today going to be the day that I get sick?

On Sunday, workers at a McDonald’s location in Los Angeles walked out after learning that a coworker had been diagnosed with COVID-19, following walkouts at McDonald’s in a number of other cities in recent weeks. Bartolome Perez, a cook at the location, told local news:

We’ve been pleading for protective equipment for more than a month now, but McDonald’s is putting its profits ahead of our health. We don’t want to die for McDonald’s burgers and fries.

Also in Massachusetts, thousands more construction workers, members of the Painters and Allied Trades Union, stopped work Tuesday, joining some 13,000 carpenters who began to strike on Monday, responding to the state governor’s refusal to shut down nonessential construction sites. Sheet metal workers also stopped work on construction on a casino, police administration, and other projects in South Philadelphia. Construction at the casino had previously been halted after a drywall finisher was confirmed to have COVID-19 earlier in March. In Romeoville, Illinois, some 20 workers at the auto parts manufacturer Midwest Air Tech walked out Monday morning, also after a worker was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus. Management reportedly had sought to persuade workers with a bump in pay to clean the plant themselves, rather than hiring a professional cleaning firm. After more than a week of angry protests by GE Appliance workers demanding the closure of the giant Louisville, Kentucky, facility, the company announced a deal with local union officials from International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America to give workers a $2 raise and grant a leave of absence to workers underlying health issues, childcare and eldercare issues. After making noises last week about calling a strike, the IUE-CWA announced it had to abide by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s decision that the appliance maker was an “essential business.” Workers are livid about being kept at work despite the threat. In a Facebook video, one worker said

I just don’t understand the mind-frame and the thought process of why building a washer, a dryer, a dishwasher, or a refrigerator is worth putting people’s lives at risk. Not only their lives, the workers, but then their families when they go home to them.

The major automakers have idled most of their main assembly operations following a wave of wildcat actions, but some are seeking to restart as early as the beginning of May, even as the number of COVID-19 deaths among autoworkers continue to rise. Meanwhile, a number of auto parts firms, along with agricultural and heavy equipment firms such as Deere and Caterpillar are still operating, with increasingly vocal protests from workers over the lack of protections.

nazi britain’s hanging judge

Judge refuses to grant Wikileaks founder’s partner anonymity in extradition case
Lizzie Dearden, Independent, Apr 7 2020

A judge has refused to grant legal anonymity to Julian Assange’s partner after hearing claims that Pindostan had tried to obtain their children’s DNA. Representatives of the Wikileaks founder submitted evidence to Westminster Magistrates’ Court claiming that Pindo agencies the CIA had expressed interest in testing nappies discarded when Assange’s partner and children visited him at the Ecuadorian embassy. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser found that, even if the allegation were true, there was no reason to believe that Pindo agencies the CIA meant to harm his young family. She referred to the claim while rejecting the bid to anonymise Assange’s partner, who the court heard wishes to live “quietly” with her young children away from publicity. Following a submission by the PA to the court, Judge Baraitser ruled that the woman’s right to a private family life was outweighed by the need for open justice. But the judge delayed making the woman’s identity public until 4pm on Apr 14, pending a possible judicial review at the High Court. Assange was previously denied bail amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus in British jails, and the application had been supported by the unnamed woman. The 48-year-old is being held on remand at HMP Belmarsh, in south-east London, ahead of an extradition hearing on May 18. During the virtual hearing, the judge also rejected a bid to delay the hearing because of the coronavirus crisis. Assange’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, said there were “insuperable” difficulties preparing his case because of the pandemic, and requested an adjournment until September. He told the court that he had not been able to see Assange in jail and could see “no viable” way his client could be present in court to hear witnesses. On Assange’s mental state, he told the judge:

There are difficulties of the pandemic with the defendant himself. You are aware that he has well documented problems of clinical depression. His treatment is on hold during the lockdown and he has been unable to see his family. In those circumstances, in his vulnerable condition, to force him to enter a full evidential hearing in May, we respectfully submit it would be unjust. We respectfully submit it would be oppressive. This is an exceptional circumstance. This is not a case where second best will do, where we should just try to muddle through. The difficulties are insuperable in the current crisis.

Ruling against him, Judge Baraitser said:

The extradition hearing is still five weeks away. I cannot assume the courts will not be operating normally by then. Assange is in custody and there is some urgency of this case being heard to its conclusion. If there is a need for a third and final hearing after the hearing on May 18, it will be held in July.

Assange is fighting extradition to Pindostan, where he would face 17 charges under the Espionage Act and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, over the publication of hundreds of thousands of classified documents in 2010 and 2011. He has been held in custody since being arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London almost exactly a year ago. He sought asylum there in 2012 while wanted under a European Arrest Warrant for interview in a Swedish rape investigation which has since been dropped.

Assange’s life in grave danger as first COVID-19 death confirmed in Belmarsh prison: Wikileaks editor-in-chief
RT.com, Apr 7 2020

Conditions in Belmarsh prison, where Julian Assange is held, might be worse than London is willing to admit, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told RT, adding that Covid-19 could swiftly tear through the facility. A prison environment is “like a Petri dish” for a virus, Hrafnsson explained, particularly such a highly infectious one as the novel coronavirus, which has already struck more than 1 million people around the world. The max security Belmarsh prison, where the WikiLeaks founder is being kept pending extradition to Pindostan, has just reported its first death from the disease. According to Hrafnsson, there are other worrying signs too. He said:

We have prison guards going in and out. A third of them at least are not showing up to work, either because they have the virus or because they are in isolation.

He also said he was sure the number of inmates who contracted COVID-19 in Belmarsh is “undoubtedly higher than reported,” since prison authorities have simply not conducted enough tests on the population to “know what is going on exactly.” The situation is particularly alarming for Assange, who was in a rather poor state of health even before the outbreak of the deadly disease, Hrafnsson added. He said:

Assange is in very bad shape. He is a very vulnerable individual, especially to a virus like COVID-19. He has an underlying lung condition and would be considered at great risk even if living normally in society. He is in a situation when his life is in danger every day and every hour.

The Wikileaks editor-in-chief said that British authorities are neglecting their duties outright by leaving Assange as well as other prisoners behind bars, given the current circumstances. Hrafnsson also slammed a British judge’s decision to carry on with Assange’s extradition hearing amid the ongoing pandemic as though nothing has been happening. The Wikileaks founder is unable to take part in any court sessions now, as he has to be moved through the infected prison each time he is about to do so, even via a video link. His lawyers also have lost all contact with him for about three weeks at this point, since they cannot visit him in prison and cannot talk to him by video chat either, the Wikileaks editor-in-chief said. On Tuesday, Judge Vanessa Baraitser said it was her intention to hear the bulk of the evidence on May 18, even though the process will likely stretch further to June. Hrafnsson denounced such approach as “just scandalous.” Assange has already spent almost a year behind bars after Ecuador revoked his asylum and allowed British authorities to drag him out of its embassy in London and arrest him. The Wikileaks founder is wanted by Pindostan on charges of conspiring to hack government computers and breaking espionage laws, and could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, various activists, boxtops & public figures, including a UN rapporteur on torture, and scores of doctors have repeatedly pointed to Assange’s deteriorating health, warning that he is at serious risk of dying behind bars in the UK.

Vindictive court rulings prove British state wants Assange dead
Thomas Scripps, WSWS, Apr 8 2020

In a London court hearing yesterday, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser declared that the extradition show-trial of Julian Assange will proceed in May, despite the fact that Britain is under a national lockdown and that the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly spreading through the country’s prison system. Baraitser’s ruling was the second in a fortnight that places Assange’s life and safety in jeopardy and underscores the travesty of justice being perpetrated against him. On Mar 25, she rejected an application for bail made by Assange’s legal team which detailed the “very real” and potentially “fatal” threat posed to his health by the coronavirus pandemic. Assange is currently held on remand in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison. He faces extradition to Pindostan, where he would be convicted of bogus Espionage Charges and imprisoned for life for exposing war crimes and human rights abuses by successive Pindo governments. It was exactly a decade ago that WikiLeaks published the Collateral Murder video. Its images of the indiscriminate murder of unarmed Iraqi civilians and two journalists by Pindo occupation forces were viewed with horror by millions around the world. Ever since, Pindostan & its vassals, including Britain and Australia, have hounded Assange. They are determined to silence him forever as part of their turn to authoritarian rule and the imposition of new military provocations and mass austerity demanded by a criminal financial oligarchy. Assange’s health has been systematically destroyed by a decade of arbitrary detention. Last May, UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer found that Assange displayed medically verifiable symptoms of psychological torture resulting from his decade-long persecution. The WikiLeaks founder has a chronic lung condition that renders him especially vulnerable to respiratory illness, along with a host of other medical issues. Since last November, the Doctors for Assange group, comprised of over 200 medical professionals around the world, has warned that Assange may die behind bars because he has been denied adequate medical care. Their calls for him to be transferred to a university teaching hospital have been dismissed by the British authorities. In an open letter last month, Doctors for Assange wrote:

Julian Assange’s life and health are at heightened risk due to his arbitrary detention during this global pandemic. That threat will only grow as the coronavirus spreads.

Speaking for the group, Dr Stephen Frost told WSWS:

Mr Assange must be assumed by doctors to be severely immunocompromised and therefore at greatly increased risk of contracting and dying from coronavirus in any prison, but especially in a prison such as Belmarsh. Every extra day Mr Assange is incarcerated in Belmarsh prison constitutes an increased threat to his life.

Countless human rights organisations have warned that the UK’s prisons are “breeding grounds” for coronavirus. Were Assange to remain in prison, argued defence lawyer Edward Fitzgerald QC two weeks ago, he would be “seriously endangered in circumstances from which he cannot escape.” Judge Baraitser ruled that the “global pandemic does not provide grounds for Mr Assange’s release.” She had “no reason not to trust” the government’s advice on protecting prisoners from the virus “as both evidence-based and reliable and appropriate.” When the ruling was given, 19 prisoners across 12 different prisons had already tested positive for the virus and 4,300 prison staff were self-isolating, including one hundred at Belmarsh. By the time she presided over Assange’s hearing yesterday, 107 prisoners were known to be infected across 38 different prisons, meaning the virus is confirmed as present in at least a third of prisons in England and Wales. Another 1,300 prisoners were self-isolating. Of the top three prisons for reported cases, two were in London—Wandsworth with 11 and Thameside, situated immediately next door to Belmarsh, with 7. Nine prisoners were reported to have died after becoming infected, including one inmate at Belmarsh. Revealing plans to release several thousand low-risk prisoners late last week, the UK government made the astonishing announcement that because Assange was “not serving a custodial sentence” he would not be considered eligible. Only one conclusion can be drawn: the WikiLeaks founder is being kept in prison with the deliberate intention of exposing him to a deadly disease.

At yesterday’s hearing, Assange’s lawyers requested that the next phase of extradition proceedings, scheduled to begin on May 18, be postponed. They detailed the Orwellian situation facing their client under conditions of a national lockdown. Fitzgerald explained that Assange’s already minimal contact with his legal team has been restricted even further. His lawyers “are not able to have any reasonable communication with him at present.” They are unable to visit him at all in prison or to meet with him via video and have only been able to hold a few telephone calls with their client. Assange’s defence is therefore now largely being carried out by post, which is insecure and takes weeks to be received. There is no chance of the extradition hearing being carried out fairly while the epidemic and lockdown restrictions continue, with Assange, witnesses, legal teams, the press and public unable to attend in person. In any case, Fitzgerald continued, Assange is too ill to participate safely in the proceedings, even virtually. In order to access the video link in Belmarsh, he must move across the prison, queue with others and use shared facilities—all potential opportunities for contracting the coronavirus. Given Assange’s state of health, said Fitzgerald, it would be unjust to make him appear in court in this way. Baraitser was unmoved, saying she intended to keep to the date of May 18 and hear as much evidence as possible that month, with witnesses participating via video link if necessary. Not only does the British government refuse to accept the coronavirus pandemic as grounds for bail, they will not let it disrupt the schedule of their show trial. If they don’t succeed in ensuring that Assange dies in prison, no concern for the pretence of fair legal proceedings will prevent them from railroading Assange to a Pindo prison as planned, in what amounts to an extraordinary rendition. In events which outstrip the imagination of Franz Kafka, the whole extradition hearing may be heard in absentia, not only of the accused but of his lawyers and witnesses!

Underscoring the utterly vindictive character of the campaign against Assange, Judge Baraitser also insisted on lifting reporting restrictions barring his partner and children being publicly named. The WikiLeaks founder has sought to maintain their anonymity to ensure their safety. Baraitser cruelly claimed there was “no evidence” that Assange’s partner would be subject to harassment if her name was revealed or that any Pindo agency wished her or her children harm. She had the gall to claim that her decision was motivated by the “strong public interest” in the “accurate reporting” of the case. As she knows full well, Assange has been slandered and his case wilfully distorted by the corporate media for a decade. Releasing his partner’s name is intended to add fuel to the fire. These acts of naked criminality are carried out under conditions in which the world’s attention is focussed on the coronavirus pandemic and the criminal responses of the world’s governments. But the effects of the virus cannot be allowed to cover for the escalation of the vicious assault on the most significant journalist of the 21st century. The coronavirus pandemic has underscored that the public’s access to true and accurate information is a life and death question. In every country working people are being confronted by governments and corporations which have systematically lied about the implications of a public health emergency which began last December—assisted by a corrupt and pliant media. Assange founded WikiLeaks to uphold the public’s right to know. He pursued this commitment courageously, earning the enmity of imperialist governments and their political and media lackeys around the world. It is time to repay the debt. Saturday marks 12 months since Assange was illegally expelled from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he was a political refugee, and brutally arrested by the British police. The events of the past year have unquestionably demonstrated that the purpose of the entire operation against the WikiLeaks founder has been nothing less than his physical and psychological destruction. The alarm must be sounded: Assange’s life is in imminent danger. His fate depends on the construction of a mass movement of the international working class for his immediate and unconditional release. Join this fight today!

your daily drips of poison from the nazi groon & the nyt

UN inquiry stops short of directly blaming Russia over Idlib attacks
Bethan McKernan, Groon, Apr 7 2020

A UN investigation has stopped short of directly calling Russia a perpetrator in attacks on hospitals and other humanitarian infrastructure in rebel-held areas of Syria, a move greeted with disappointment from rights groups. A summary of a 185-page internal report submitted to the UNSC on Monday said that in five of seven cases studied, among them four medical sites, a school and a children’s centre, “the government of Syria and/or its allies had carried out the airstrike,” but it did not explicitly name Russia, Assad’s the Syrian government’s most important military and political ally. The coordinates of all the sites had been registered as part of the UN’s deconfliction system and shared with Moscow and other warring parties in order to prevent attacks. HRW said:

The refusal to explicitly name Russia as a responsible party working alongside the Syrian government … is deeply disappointing.

War monitors and the health directorate White Helmets of north-western Idlib province, Syria’s last rebel-held stronghold, say at least 70 health-care facilities have been hit by regime government and Russian bombing in the last 12 months. Last year the NYT published an exhaustive investigation, notably including recordings of Russian pilots, that directly incriminated Russia in attacks on hospitals in rebel areas. Kenneth Roth of HRW wrote on Twitter:

In July last year the UNSC issued a rare formal diplomatic petition demanding Guterres open an investigation into airstrikes on medical facilities. The move infuriated Moscow, which has repeatedly used international forums such as its veto as a permanent member of the UNSC to shield Assad the Syrian government from international action. Since intervening in the Syrian war on the regime’s behalf in 2015, Russia has repeatedly denied that its own aircraft target civilian sites. Guterres attributed the small number of incidents examined in the new report to the absence of UN personnel on the ground and refusal of permission to visit the sites. The commission looked at bombings carried out between Apr-Jul 2019 in Idlib and the surrounding countryside. One hospital was deselected for not meeting the investigation’s criteria, and a raid on a refugee camp was likely to have been carried out by an Islamist group, the report said. The board of inquiry was established in September and its report was supposed to have been submitted by the end of 2019 but was delayed until March. Western countries have been demanding for months that a summary of the report be published. Media reports suggest Russian diplomats pressured Guterres’s office not to release it. The Syrian and Russian delegations to the UN did not immediately comment on the findings.

UN Inquiry Into Syria Bombings Is Silent on Russia’s Role
Evan Hill, NYT, Apr 6 2020

A UN investigation into attacks on humanitarian sites in Syria concluded in a report released on Monday that the Syrian government or its allies had committed most of them, but failed to name Russia, the most important of those allies, as a perpetrator. The board of inquiry looked into just six of the hundreds of attacks on sites like hospitals and schools committed during the Syrian civil war. In a summary of its work, the board refrained from specifically blaming Russia, despite strong evidence, previously published by the NYT, that a Russian warplane had carried out one of the six, the bombing of a school. The inquiry stated only:

The Government of Syria and/or its allies had carried out the airstrike.

Richard Gowan of the International Crisis Group said:

This is a deliberately mealy-mouthed report. On a charitable reading, this summary contains enough oblique and tentative statements confirming the Syrian government and Russians’ responsibility. On a less charitable reading, this is an effort to minimize offending Moscow that reflects the fact that UN boxtops believe that continued cooperation with Russia is key to the future of humanitarian operations in Syria.

Human rights and advocacy groups had criticized the board of inquiry’s limited scope after its establishment by Sec-Gen Guterres in August, saying it ignored hundreds of other attacks on hospitals, clinics and medical personnel committed by the government of Pres Assad and his and its Russian ally. Physicians for Human Rights has documented at least 595 such attacks since the civil war began in 2011. Of those, 282 have occurred since Russia intervened in Sep 2015 in support of Assad the government. At least 923 medical workers have been killed since 2011. The Syrian government or its allies, primarily Russia, committed 536 of the 595 attacks, according to the group’s statistics. Susannah Sirkin of Physicians for Human Rights said:

The UN Sec-Gen’s extremely limited investigation was doomed from the beginning. It failed to account for the overwhelming evidence that the Syrian and Russian governments have executed a consistent and brutal strategy of bombing hospitals, schools and civilian sites.

But Sec-Gen. Guterres gave the inquiry a mandate only to look into attacks on humanitarian targets that had been supported by the UN or included in its “deconfliction” system, through which organizations could register their sites in the hope of protecting them from attack. The inquiry looked at seven specific strikes carried out from Apr-Jul 2019 in opposition-held territory in north-western Syria: on a school, a refugee camp, a children’s services center, three hospitals and a medical clinic. The board dropped one of the hospitals from its review, concluding that it did not match Guterres’s criteria. It also determined that among the six attacks it had investigated, the Syrian government or its allies had committed all but the one against the refugee camp, which the board said was probably carried out by opposition forces. David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee said:

The charges in this report could not be more serious. And the incidents the report studied are the tip of the iceberg.

The NYT has previously reported that Russian warplanes bombed a string of hospitals in north-western Syria over one 12-hour period in May 2019 and then returned to bomb one of those hospitals again in November. The hospital that was bombed twice, in the town of Kafr Nabl, was one of the sites under investigation by the board of inquiry. But instead of looking into the two Russian attacks, it focused instead on a separate attack on the same hospital, carried out by the Syrian government in July. Before the inquiry’s publication of the report, Russia pressed Guterres not to release its conclusions, diplomats have said. Russia has vetoed 14 UNSCRs calling for action on Syria since 2011. In December, it blocked a resolution on cross-border aid deliveries from Turkey and Iraq to millions of Syrian civilians. Louis Charbonneau of HRW said the refusal to explicitly name Russia was “deeply disappointing.” He added that the widespread attacks on humanitarian facilities and hospitals in north-western Syria had, in addition to causing direct suffering, led to “a tragic and criminal reduction” in the area’s ability to deal with the likely spread of coronavirus. The Russian and Syrian missions to the UN did not comment on the report. The report also addressed some flaws in the deconfliction system, which relief groups had harshly criticized for failing to prevent attacks on hospitals and being marred by factual errors. The system, run by the UN OCHA, was meant to share the coordinates of protected facilities among the warring parties, including Russia. The report found that until September the UN did not have procedures for verifying, storing and updating those coordinates, and that confusion over exactly what the system would do to protect humanitarian sites had led to mistrust. Miliband called on the UN to develop “accountability mechanisms to deter further attacks and bring justice for those who have already suffered.” Gowan said he doubted that the report would do anything to deter Russia. He said:

It may reassure Syrian and Russian officers that they are unlikely to face any real accountability in future.