Sunday, April 5, 2020

SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW?



Learning from past history appears not to be a human forte.  
 

Amnesia has its reasons. Apart from certain Nordic forward-looking countries where it’s extending, reduced life expectancy does not allow anyone now alive to remember the influenza pandemic of 1918 whose three waves lasted a little over a year.

Then as now, certain themes seem to apply: incompetence and silence on the part of government authorities, and shortages of essential medical supplies. A leadership vacuum existed in Washington where a silent Wilson was more interested in selling war bonds, and public authorities either advanced the merits of snake oil, or lied deliberately to keep reports of numbers affected secret. This month the Navy sought fit to fire Captain Brett Crozier, commander of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt because he was caught asking for help for the growing number of sailors infected on his ship.


Research shows that the 1918 pandemic killed between 23 and 50 million worldwide, less than 3% of the global population at the time, although it infected an estimated 500 million, about one-third of the world population. Then as now, there was a shortage of medical equipment.  In recent California history, ventilators were allowed to go into disrepair to eventually be discarded because Gov. Jerry Brown not considering them important, zeroed out a line item that might have kept them operable. Masks are in  short supply because of the current trade war with China, although a first planeload arrived within the past few days.

Nurses collecting masks, 1918

But the connection between war and pandemic cannot be overlooked.  It comes as no surprise that in 1918, the pandemic killed many more people of recruitment age in the 18-44 group. In 1918, Étaples on the Western Front was a UK staging camp and hospital treating thousands of victims of gassing.  100,000 troops passed through it every single day. To cap the perfect storm, poultry farms and piggeries lay nearby. Conditions were crowded and unsanitary, and that is where cases of influenza were first reported, although one report claims it was already circulating in the cold and wet of the WWI trenches long before it may have mutated full blown.

As troops were demobilized they returned home to their cities, towns and villages, spreading the infection worldwide. In the US, infection clusters were first reported in Kansas at a military installation from where it spread.

Walter Reed, 1918
Then as now, many reports raise that old racist whipping boy, the Chinese specter, and eventually the pandemic came to be known as the Spanish flu, another ethnic slur. One report carries a nice little irony claiming that, because of modern scientific advances, the likelihood of pandemic recurrence is now nil.

Pandemics and their aftermath are never factored in when “defense” budgets are drawn up. In 2009 Obama introduced the “Stockpile Stewardship Program,” allocating more than a trillion dollars to maintain the deteriorating nuclear stockpile. Contrary to popular belief, war as a human behavior did not always exist. And because war and militarism burns up more fossil fuel than many countries, war levels its cannons at climate equilibrium which ultimately threatens our very tenancy on Earth.



Are governments capable of learning new behavior?  If they fail the cost is astronomical.



The EU and UN, adopt resolution urging “intensified International Cooperation” in  support of Venezuela in its fight to contain the virus in the midst of US unilateral and illegal blockade.

Ireland nationalizes hospitals for coronavirus duration.

Guatemalan water protectors persist over 8 years, despite KCA mining company threats.

Slovenia stops 5-G over health risks.

After Trump awards Gilead Sciences monopoly claim to coronavirus cure, caving to popular pressure, Gilead releases its claim.

Michael Hudson, writing for Nakedcapitalism.com suggests debt jubilee may be only way to avert Depression

Unscientific, but true: New York’s Lenox Hill reports hydroxycloroquine successful in treatment of coronavirus.

NPR Seattle member station refuses to air Trumpo’s press briefing live.

US-led NATO forces pull out of third Iraqi base.

98.6% Chinese industrial companies resume operations (look for more air pollution).

First aircraft carrying medical supplies arrives from China (and is not turned back.)

Justice Department investigating lawmakers for insider trading.

Some US Senators call for end of Venezuelan and Iranian blockades.

To reduce congestion, Cleveland frees many non-violent offenders from Cayuga County jail.

Federal judge finesses ICE, orders releasing more immigrants amid pandemic.

Amid pandemic police close Hobby Lobby locations after stores defy state order to close.

Children’s Health Fund forces FCC to publish in the Federal Register, blocking it from dismissing 5-G lawsuits.

UltraViolet applauds federal judge’s move to keep Ohio and Texas abortion clinics open.

13,000 e-mails to Congress opposing bailouts for fossil fuel companies force bill revision preventing $3 billion giveaway.

McDonald’s workers go on strike over unsafe conditions, lost hours, and pay cuts.

Grad student TAs strike at UC’s Sta. Cruz campus (which promptly fires them).


Support a global cease fire at

Block war against  Venezuela at
https://www.codepink.org/pandemicpluswar

Block Trump attempts to restrict the vote at

Block daily live Trump coverage at

Defy handouts to big oil at

Reduce prison population concentration at
https://afgj.salsalabs.org/endorseopenletteroncoronavirusandusprisonimperialism/index.html?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=7b31a1a2-de33-4b01-92d6-28e51d095c10

Donate to block Trump “emergency powers” at


Donald Trump was visited three days ago by the ghost of Washington.
“George,” asked Trump, “how can I fix this? How to MAG again?”
“Never tell a lie.”
Unsatisfied, he was visited next day by the ghost of Jefferson.
“Tom, how do  fix this? How can I MAG again?”
“Listen to the people.”
Unsatisfied, next day, he was visited by the ghost of Lincoln.
“Hey, Abe, how do I fix this? How can I MAG again?
“Go see a play.”

From your friendly tax accountant:
Q. What is an economic stimulus payment?
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.
Q. Where will the government get this money ?
A. From taxpayers.
Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?
A. Just a smidgen.
Q. Why?
A. The plan is for you to use it to stimulate the economy by buying a high definition TV, a new iPad, or a new SUV.
Q. But isn’t that stimulating the economy of China?

Your accountant’s helpful advice on how to best help the U.S. economy:
If you spend the money at Walmart, the money goes to China or Sri Lanka.
If you spend it on gas, the money goes to the Saudis.
If you get a computer, it goes to India, Taiwan, or China.
If you get fruits and vegetables, it goes to Mexico, Honduras or Guatemala.
If you get a fuel-efficient car, it goes to Japan or Korea.
If you get stuff you don’t really need, it goes to Taiwan.
If you pay off your credit card, or buy stock it goes to rack up bonuses the CEOS will hide offshore.

Spend the money on the only businesses still operating in the US:
Spend it at a yard sale
Go see the ballgame
Spend it on a hooker or
Some beers,
Or a tattoo.

Solution: Go see the ballgame with a tattooed prostitute you met at a yard sale, and suck up beer all day.




Sunday, March 29, 2020

Laboratory Humans


What would your reaction be if scientists were suddenly to come out with the recommendation that we need to encourage the spread of the COVID-19 virus by concentrating human populations in extremely tight quarters while allowing them minimum sanitation facilities in order to incubate the disease. You’d most likely speculate they’d been recruited by the present administration as publicists.

In fact that misguidedness is exactly what we confront in the United States and in other parts of the world as well, namely the concentration of humans that allows the wildfire spread of a disease that affects certain at risk populations severely and at times fatally. In the U.S. we are talking about the most obvious: prisons, jails, detention centers, homeless encampments and shelters and homes for the aged.  

Abroad, we are talking about places like Gaza which has the most concentrated human population in the world, the West Bank, and countries like Iran and Venezuela on the U.S. economic war sanctions wish list, and Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, and a number of others on the Pentagon wish list of countries convulsed by shooting war. And there’s the White House revenge list which among others includes Italy whose population is fairly concentrated, and extended-family oriented.

The U.S. has the highest percentage of incarcerated people in the world. 

Prisons and Jails: (“Elected Prosecutors Call for Dramatic Reduction in Prison Populations”) There are 2.2 million people locked up in American jails, and 11 million go through prison or jail gates every single year as a result of more people being prosecuted for minor offenses. Many of these people are there because they cannot afford bail. Already prisoners or guards have tested positive in New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Washington, forcing inmate quarantines. Social distancing is not possible in American jails where many are double, triple and multiple bunked. This is catastrophe waiting to happen. Some elected officials, even prosecutors remind us of that. Punishment may not be such a good idea.


Immigrant Detention: (“Because Anne Frank Did not Die in a Gas Chamber, Jewish Activists Cite Disease in Nazi Death Camps in Call to Free Detained Immigrants”) As the N.Y. Subway ad read: You don’t have to be Jewish to like rye bread, and you don’t have to be Jewish to see the obvious: there are 52,000 undocumented immigrants detained in ICE jails. Concentration camps run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) threaten to become de-facto death camps for all their inmates, many of them children, and pregnant mothers. In New Jersey, detainees staged a hunger strike for soap. Activists are surrounding Governor’s residences in California and that immigrant jail in New Jersey demanding immigrants’ release. Fanatic, racist-based border control may bite Americans in the butt while they’re scrambling for the last roll of TP.



Homeless shelters and homeless encampments: (“Governments Say Stay at Home, but thousands don’t have a home”) Fear of contagion would not apply if as a society, we had understood that the human biome knows no borders. We are all one flesh. Literally. Fear of contagion would not apply if we still enjoyed a family structure that took care of its aged as it still manages to do of its infants.

There are some bright lights:
In LA, Justice LA managed to get hundreds of people released from LA jails. In Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered a shut down well ahead of all other states. In New York and California Governors Cuomo and Newsome respectively are marshaling resources, negotiating directly with private companies to plug gaps in medical supply chains, ordering creation of additional hospital spaces, and housing the homeless in SROs and trailers. Read State Governments Step in as Trump Makes Lethal Mistakes at https://truthout.org/articles/state-governments-step-in-as-trump-makes-lethal-mistakes-in-covid-19-response/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=a7cd6c1a-f174-4d2f-901b-375479054f94.

Designing our wars to kill others might kill us instead

Abroad, President Assad decreed a general amnesty for crimes committed before March 22, and Iran, with its bloody history of incarcerating and torturing political prisoners (Read: Ghosts by Shahla Talebi) temporarily freed all its prisoners, including political prisoners.
U.S. led coalition troops pulled out of a base in Western Iraq, France has withdrawn all its troops, and thanks to activists, many of them Physicians for Social Responsibility, Congress passed legislation in both houses on a War Powers Resolution that requires congressional approval before Trump can OK further military action against Iran.  Citing the folly of war in a time of contagion, UN Secretary General António Guterres called for a Global Ceasefire.  



End Yemen war now before COVID19 strikes at
https://www.change.org/p/stand-with-dr-aisha-jumaan-war-must-stop-now-to-save-yemen-from-pandemic

Demand COVID19 sanctions on Iran be suspended immediately at

Release Julian Assange from Belmarsh prison before C-19 spreads at


Release incarcerated people before infection rates rise further at

#EndCOVIDSanctions on Iran at

Protect incarcerated loved ones at:

Demand Israel release all Palestinian child detainees mid COVID19 at:


President Assad decrees general amnesty for crimes committed before March 22.

UN Secretary General António Guterres calls for a global cease fire.

Eights countries (Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela) write to UN chief demanding lifting of unilateral illegal sanctions which, along with Zimbabwe, are impeding their efforts to battle pandemic.

London rough sleepers given hotel rooms.

UK pledges to pay up to 80% of individuals’ wages during shutdowns.

UK holds mass applause for NHS staff fighting C19.

Denmark pledges to pay 90% of hourly workers loss of income.

Ireland nationalizes hospitals for duration of C-19 crisis.

France pulls their military out of Iraq.

Although French strike wane, outrage burns bright.

Cuba leads world in  fight against C-19 (practice makes perfect.)

China joins Cuba providing international aid.

Germany extends arms embargo on Saudi Arabia.

Norway workers win struggle against bosses, refusing to pay for C-19 with layoffs.

Just think: a year of U.S. nuclear spending could provide 300,000 ICU beds, 35,000 ventilators and 75,000 doctor salaries.

Magic: #45 uses Defense Production Act to force General Motors to make ventilators—without a contract.

40,000 N.Y. health professionals volunteer to join healthcare force.

US-led coalition transfers second military base to Iraqi forces.

Iran’s army set up hospital for C19 patients in 48 hours.

San Francisco DA joins calls to release ICE detainees during pandemic.

JusticeLA gets hundreds of people release from jails in response to threat of C-19 spread.

Judge urges release of migrant children after 4 test positive for C-19 in detention.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in LA issued temporary restraining order requiring administration to release all minors and unaccompanied minors from detention and from the HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Standing Rock Sioux tribe wins as federal court rules DAPL permits violated law.

Conflict brewing in N.Y.C. over lawyers’ committee grand jury petition to hear evidence of federal crimes involving the use of explosive and incendiaries at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

N.Y.C. plans city-wide clap for essential workers.

Activists force minimal amendment giving assistance and access qualifying 140 million poor folk for health care, paid leave, and living wages.

Scientists said to discover property of coronavirus that will make a long-term vaccine possible, but not necessarily affordable.

In face of federal vacuum and #45 blunders, some state governments respond to C-19.

Seattle NPR station announces no more airing of #45 press briefings.

House and Senate pass War Powers Resolution enjoining #45 to seek Congressional OK for any further military action against Iran.

PEN’s lawsuit against #45 in the defense of journalism can proceed.

New “stimulus package” (highway robbery) would enjoin #45 or his offspring from lapping up any of that bailout money, if Mnuchin agrees.

Writing for Popular Resistance, Michael Hudson suggests a debt jubilee is the only way to avoid world depression.

Pitzer College students call for university divestment from BlackRock.

Microsoft divests from Israeli facial- recognition startup.

In Pennsylvania township Rights of Nature law forces revocation of fracking permit.

S.F. Gate publishes 23 pieces of good news about COVID19 but blocks reading about it.

Detroit bus drivers win protections against virus through strike.

Boston school bus drivers win emergency full pay during school closure.

Strikes and protests spread as U.S. workers demand protection from C-19.

Colorado repeals death penalty.

Before selling out, Sanders fought for worker protections in gonzo $2 trillion “stimulus” (highway robbery) package.

Parents of son who died of cancer open their restaurant to School kids who depend on school for food.

Worker strikes over concern about spread of C-19 reported: Fiat Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant; Pittsburgh garbage collectors; Chipotle employees; Perdue university workers, and Whole Foods.

 

And here's to the spring we're missing while we stay at home:




Mexican protesters try blocking Americans from entering Mexico on Arizona border.

Unclogging toilets at $400,00 a pop hits Navy in the pocket.

Old chestnut plane with five aboard, #45, the Pope, Dr. Fauci, Oprah Winfrey and ten-year-old school girl. Only 4 parachutes aboard. Plane is about to crash.

Dr. Fauci: "I certainly need one. I’m on my way to deliver a cure for the global health crisis." He helps himself and jumps.

Pope: "I need one, too. I have to guide the flock through the pandemic." He helps himself and jumps.

#45 says: "Gimme. I have to have one because I am the smartest man in  the universe." He helps himself and jumps.

Oprah turns to the ten-year-old: “Take the last one, dear. I’ve had a life, yours hasn’t even started.”

Says ten-year-old: “No worries. There are 2 chutes left. The smartest man in the universe took my backpack.”


Saturday, March 28, 2020

EXTRA, EXTRA: Public Awaress C-19's biggest victim


This issue comes to you from Roger Herried at Energy-net.org

The first and biggest victim of C19 is  public awareness of what is happening.  Stories that are immense in their impact 
  1. Trump taps emergency powers as virus relief plan proceeds
The moment the president declares a “national emergency”—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—he is able to set aside many of the legal limits on his authority.
3.  Our Politics die as authoritarian actions take over - voting in danger.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

How To Think About A 7 Headed Hydra With 8 Heads


Facing this week’s COVID-19 conundrum requires serious thought. An approach I find helpful is to view the altered way of life imposed on our species through a number of lenses.

Here are some of them:

1) Who or what might be responsible for the introduction and spread of this virus in the human biome? And why?

Might it be intended to bankrupt social security or privatize it; might it be to cancel democracy, and suspend fair elections?  Might it be to implement an economic war against China? We can examine a number of theories about how and where this virus originated.

We can, for example trace it to a U.S. Olympic team assigned to Wuhan, China in 2019; we can point out that the pandemic was expected as early as 2016 when the Obama transition team passed its institutional memory to the Trump team that would take over following that inauguration. We can point out how Trump annulled the very organization meant to address such a pandemic, and how all or most of these functionaries are gone, dismissed by Trump, and their institutional memory lost; but the most comprehensive article on the origins of the virus is at https://www.globalresearch.ca/coronavirus-causes-effects-real-danger-agenda-id2020/5706153

2)  What does spread of this disease really do?

Is it real? or perceived. What is real? The Buddhists prioritize seeing things as they are. Even more alarming than the disease itself is our loss of civil rights. You are incarcerated.  You are incarcerated with your books, and your fish tanks, your bookcases, your TV, and your washing machine, call it soft incarceration, but you are incarcerated. You are in a concentration camp for gentlemen. What is the fallout for you as a political animal? You have just had your Right of Assembly taken from you. You have just had your Right to Bear Grievance Against Your Government taken away from you (you can’t go out this week with your sign to demonstrate, or attend a political meeting, or organize a demonstration).  If you live beyond one paycheck, you have had your savings seriously eroded while lawmakers, knowing in advance, made sure to dump their stock. And you have just had the Voke (That’s the Vote-as-a-Joke) taken from you by the media and DNC that made sure you’d have to elect Joe Biden. Could this possibly benefit the folks who legislated an even more restrictive spying law on you just last week? Or the president who has aspirations way beyond 2020, and even 2026?  Whatever the Trump role in creating this brave new world, we can rest assured that he will take full advantage of the chaos that results.

I

3) What is the psychological impact and how do we cope with its toll?

I shut the door of the cab delivering me home from the Oakland Airport a week ago to see big warning signs posted on the building where I live: Senior Residence. Entrance Restricted. For one disoriented moment, I wondered if my key would fit the lock. This new form of existence comes as more of a shock than 9-ll. If we follow the mandates of the state, we must stay indoors. If we sight another human being, we must keep a wary distance of between 6 to 10 feet; we can escape confinement only for essential things like shopping to feed ourselves, or exercising, or keeping a medical appointment—if we’re covered and can get one at all from our clueless and unprepared medical system. 

Drone warfare does to a society such as exists in Iraq and Afghanistan exactly what this virus does to us: Because of fear that we might die, we can’t assemble, we can’t attend school, or mosque, or church, we can’t attend a gathering, a meeting or a music concert, or find an open library, and we can’t have public ceremonies like weddings, or funerals. We are victims of war.

4) How do we cope?

As a young person living in New York, I came in contact with a few people who had survived concentration camp.  We had long heated discussions about what survival meant.  It always came down to one thing: discipline. Strict self-scheduling of activities by the hour, and no deviation. And having a focus, whether learning a new language, or learning a new skill, or writing a book, or making Gaman (like this  drawing of Tule Lake in 1942 by an incarcertaed Jalanese) or designing tombstones commemorating all the millions of species lost to the Sixth Extinction. And taking vitamin C. If you lived in Costa Rica you might get tested if you are sick, but testing in the U.S. is behind the learning curve. And there’s a good reason for that.

"Enduring the unbearable with dignity and patience"
5) What might be some unexpected consequences? 

The choice is stark: natural population selection and authoritarianism and social control, or, by contrast, as Naomi Kline in Corona Virus Capitalism underscores, benefitting from the potential of new ideas. More than ever, we have a compelling reminder of what universal healthcare might mean. And even Forbes is saying it’s time for a Green New Deal. Similarly, because prison overcrowding is a Petry dish for incubating and spreading the virus, we might question the value of prison altogether.  We might look at what the Iranians with their long and bloody history of incarcerating political prisoners have done releasing all prisoners back into society to protect them and the society at large, which is part of the same biome. We might consider that the homeless are also part of the biome we share. We might create hand washing stations for them, we might even consider housing them! We might discover the benefits of de-growth: less flying; less driving, less use of fossil fuel, less consumption. We might discover the need for a guaranteed minimum wage so that sick people would not be forced to go to work during the pandemic. We might reconsider socialism and its benefits now, especially now, in the absence of democracy, when the media and the DNC voked Biden in for us. These are just some of the new ideas which circumstances are forcing to the foreground.

One thing is certain: living (and dying, too) will never be the same. One consequence is that the rich will prey on the poor as they always have; another consequence is that the poor will finally have their chance to teach the rich the lesson they richly need to know: how to live sustainably, on a beautiful blue and green ball.



Demand Congress take measures to prepare the US healthcare system for a pandemic at

Sign now: Coronavirus test should be free and available to all at

Protect frontline workers essential to protecting all at

Petition Congress to implement a national moratorium on foreclosures and evictions at

Petition to release Assange before coronavirus spreads at
Demand Workers First in any airline and airport bailout at

Petition Congress to ban practice of government officials selling stock while in office. at

Tell Trump to employ Defense Production Act to drive the supplies, treatments and capacity our healthcare system needs at



Resisting U.S. bullying, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC unanimously overruled the Pretrial Chamber on March 5, 2020, and ordered a formal investigation of U.S., Afghan and Taliban officials for war crimes, including torture, committed in the “war on terror.”

Chile witnesses a week of renewed protests demanding the resignation of billionaire President Sebastián Piñera and calling for a Peoples’ Convention to scrap former dictator Augusto Pinochet’s 1980 neoliberal laws, replacing them with a new Constitution.

Iran temporarily releases 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, to slow the virus’ spread.

‘Bolsonaro Out!’ from balconies and windows, millions demand ouster of Brazilian president over handing of COVID-19.

London postal workers take strike action over COVID-19 concerns.

Italians find way to 3-D print key ventilator piece for $1.00 to help battle coronavirus.

Federal Judge Anthony Trenga orders Chelsea Manning released from jail.  Her supporters raise the full $250,00 of her fine in 24 hours.

Detroit pauses water shutoff in COVID-19 outbreak.

Homeless moms take over a house in LA.

San Francisco to offer RVs to homeless people needing coronavirus quarantine.U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell blocks rules that would have denied 700,000 people food stamps.

Chef José Andrés converts his closed restaurants into to-go kitchens for feed public during COVID-19 outbreak.

Harvard students sue university over its investments in the prison industrial complex.

New York to pay incarcerated laborers 65 cents an hour to make hand sanitizer to fight COVID-19.

Virus fears prompt call for SF police to halt arrests in non-violent cases.

Muslim running for Congress helps pay medical debt of man who sent him anti-Muslim tweets.

Big 3 automakers shut down as COVID-19 grinds U.S. industry to  halt; Italian workers stage wildcat strikes.

Don’t hold your breath: Economists demand Trump immediately lift Iran, Cuba, Venezuela sanctions.

‘Now make it national” as Vermont and Minnesota classify grocery store staff as emergency personnel.

Progressive Marie Newman unseats anti-choice Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois Democratic primary.


U.S. finally looking out for Number #2 as it stocks toilet paper.

And in the same vein: