Dutch Sabine Wassink’s treadmill marathon world record


Sabine Wassink during her world record treadmill marathon, photo by RTV Oost

So, though most sport has been cancelled because of coronavirus … besides online cycling, and online tennis and other sports … there still is marathon running.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Rijssense woman runs marathon world record on treadmill

Sabine Wassink (30) from Rijssen, Overijssel, has broken the marathon world record on the treadmill. The athlete covered the 42 kilometers and 195 meters in her backyard in a time of 3 hours, 12 minutes and 5 seconds. That’s almost 3 minutes faster than the old record set by an US American woman.

Wassink had prepared well for the marathon, which was immediately her first. That debut was initially planned for last year’s Rotterdam marathon, but then an injury threw a spanner in the works. When this year’s edition was canceled due to the corona crisis, she decided not to wait any longer.

“I trained like that and would like to close the book in this way,” Wassink told RTV Oost. It turned out to be easier said than done.

Neighbours with a parasol

“It was really tough,” Wassink sighs after her performance. “I went really well up to 32 kilometers. Then I thought: another ten kilometers and I have it. Well, in the last ten kilometers I hit a wall every five minutes. I even got off the tire once. I got a lump in my throat, got emotional and really had to pick myself up.”

The burning sun made running extra difficult. “That was not fully planned. Last week we looked at how the sun was and then I would have run in the shade. But the sun is now a bit higher in the sky, so I no longer ran in the shade. Fortunately, dear neighbors made a parasol available very quickly. ”

Red Cross

With her record, Wassink has entered the Guinness World Records book. In addition, she has raised money for the Red Cross. The amount of the proceeds will be announced later when all donations have been received. The athlete does not rule out that she will run a second marathon this year, but preferably on the road.

Online Madrid Open tennis tournament, 27-30 April


This 7 April 2020 virtual game video is called Rafael Nadal vs. Lucas Pouille Tennis World Tour Online.

Now that there is hardly any sport in the open air because of the coronavirus crisis, there are online matches in several sports.

I heard before of horse racing. And of cycling (where, contrary to open-air cycling, you cannot fall because of a slippery road. But where Australian Michael Matthews had to stop during the Tour of Flanders because of a home trainer problem), And triathlon (where the Australian women’s champion Mirinda Carfrae lost because her husband stepped on the electric wire of her home trainer when she cycled). And darts.

This 26 April 2020 video is called Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld – Charity Darts from Home in support of NHS Heroes.

And now, there is tennis.

From atptour.com, 9 April 2020:

Three days after officially announcing the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, the tournament’s organisers have confirmed the participation of the first two players in the ATP draw: Andy Murray and Lucas Pouille.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open from taking place from 1 to 10 May and forced the ATP and WTA to postpone all activity on their tours until 13 July, tournament organisers have announced the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, an innovative tournament that will be a virtual replica of the tennis competition, with the world’s biggest tennis stars competing from their own homes. The news means that the biggest ATP and WTA stars will clash in the Manolo Santana Stadium, recreated in exquisite detail in the Tennis World Tour video game, while swapping their racquets for a game controller.

Former World No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has won 46 tour-level titles in his career, including two trophies from the Mutua Madrid Open (2008, 2015). Lucas Pouille, a 5-time ATP Tour titlist, will also compete in the pioneering online competition. The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will take place from 27 to 30 April in a show of solidarity to raise money and help the tennis players most in need during this time, all those that have no income to help them through these months of inactivity and those affected by COVID-19.

“This is going to be a very exciting challenge,” said Pouille. “I’ve already started training because I want to win this tournament against my tennis peers as I know they play a lot. Thank you to the Mutua Madrid Open for this great initiative.”

Both tournaments (ATP and WTA) will include a purse of €150,000, from which the winners will be able to decide on how much they donate to the tennis players currently suffering economically, and an additional €50,000 that will all go towards reducing the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The format for the ATP and WTA Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro competitions will be as follows: 16 singles players will be divided into four groups. The champion of each group will progress to the quarter-finals, which will also include the runner-up of each group. From there, the tournaments will be played as knock-out events. In addition, in parallel with the official competition, there will be a series of benefit matches that will see some of the biggest content creators in the gaming world take on the professional tennis players to raise funds to help those affected by COVID-19.

All fans will be able to follow the tournament online, on television and on the Mutua Madrid Open’s social media, with a spectacular production that will include commentary on all the matches, analysis and highlights programmes and interviews with the winners after each match.

The organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open will soon reveal the remaining participants, as well as other news of the competition.

Today, Dutch NOS radio reports that Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Angelique Kerber and John Isner will participate; from their homes, like the others. So will Carla Suarez Navarro. Last year’s Madrid Open women’s champion, Kiki Bertens, will play at home on a PlayStation as well.

Ms Bertens says that she will have to practice, as she is new to Tennis World Tour Online software.

There are virtual F1 races, basketball and baseball matches as well. Virtual football match: here.

Coronavirus crisis, worldwide update


This 9 April 2020 video says about itself:

Today’s discussion is about how Japan is inching closer to 5000 confirmed cases nation-wide. We also discuss the flaws in Japan’s facial mask distribution, how farmers and hurting in the midst of this crisis, and apparently testing capacity is being upped.

Quebec government, big business push for return to work as COVID-19 deaths soar. By Keith Jones, 11 April 2020. As coronavirus cases and deaths surge across Canada, any lifting of the Quebec shutdown would be nothing short of criminal.

An African Union study predicts that some 20 million jobs are at risk in Africa due to the impact of the pandemic: here.

Japanese PM imposes coronavirus state of emergency. By Peter Symonds, 11 April 2020. While the number of cases in Japan is low compared to the US and Europe, poor levels of testing are masking the real extent of the virus.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 11 April 2020:

India: Hospital medical staff demand protective equipment in Punjab

Paramedical and health workers at the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar, Punjab state, demonstrated outside the medical superintendent’s office on April 3 to demand personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and other equipment needed for those treating COVID-19 patients.

Co-ordination Committee Para-medical and Health Employees-Punjab members said they were working under extreme mental stress and have not been supplied with N95 masks. PPE gear for nurses and Class IV staff are also in short supply, hand sanitisers are in a diluted form and drinking water is scarce.

The workers also demanded separate entry and exits doors for suspected patients and doctors, more ventilators and testing facilities and for private medical colleges and hospitals to be used to provide treatment for COVID-19 patients. Dental Students’ Association members supported the protesters’ demands.

Punjab farm workers demand relief rations

Farm workers from seven Muktsar district villages—Khunde Halal, Bhagsar, Bhuttiwala, Khnuna Khurd, Saonke and Dabra—held a roof-top demonstration on April 5 to demand relief rations during the COVID-19 lockdown. Farm and labour union members in the Moga district also staged protests.

The low paid workers also called for medicines, PPEs and sanitisers. Landless farmers said that they had been the hardest hit by the lockdown and had no access to relief material. They said that the state government’s recently announced rations for the poor remained only on paper and had not been provided.

Mumbai Hospital medical staff protest over poor quality PPE

Nurses, paramedics and other medical staff at K B Bhabha municipal general hospital in Bandra, a Mumbai suburb, protested on April 8 against the poor quality of PPE supplies. Workers demonstrated outside the hospital after a patient died from COVID-19 and demanded that they be quarantined because the facility had a high risk of spreading the virus.

Burmese workers demand factory shutdowns

About 1,500 factory workers from four plants at the Dagon Seikkan Township Industrial Zone in Yangon, Burma’s largest city, stopped work on April 3 over the coronavirus pandemic. The mainly women workers were demanding employers shut down the plants for the whole of April and pay them their full wages for the month.

The strike began in the morning at the Blue Diamond handbag plant and quickly spread to Bluebird Enterprise backpack, Rainhouse Myanmar raincoat and Mayshar Myanmar glove factories.

The low-paid workers said they feared contracting COVID-19 and how they would financially survive in the months ahead. Already 20,000 factory workers in the region have lost their jobs. …

Australia: Queensland public health workers demand pay increase

Frontline public health workers, excluding doctors and nurses, are demanding the state government reverse its decision to freeze a promised pay rise agreed last year. These workers, including cleaners, ward-persons, kitchen hands, laundry staff, and other frontline workers who are putting their life at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, have not had a pay increase for two years.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk declared during a television interview last week that public sector pay rises had been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Together union and the Australian Workers Union, which cover these workers, have not called any industrial action over the government’s attack on hospital workers’ wages but issued a petition appealing to the state government to pay the increase.

Australian hospitals lack ventilators and staff to deal with pandemic. By Clare Bruderlin, 11 April 2020. A ventilator manufacturing deal this week highlighted the shortage of urgently-needed intensive care medical equipment.

Coronavirus update, Europe


This 16 March 2020 video from London, England says about itself:

Protesters have held a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street to highlight what they believe is government inaction over the coronavirus.

The ‘Pause the System’ group accuse the government of ignoring the World Health Organisation and putting economic interests above the most vulnerable in society.

European governments plot return to work in midst of pandemic. By Thomas Scripps, 11 April 2020. As plans were being hatched over how to impose a return to work, over 4,000 new pandemic deaths were reported in Europe on Friday, bringing the total for the continent to over 70,000.

Spanish government to force workers in non-essential industries back-to-work: here.

German hospitals become COVID-19 hotspots for health care workers. By Markus Salzmann, 11 April 2020. According to the Robert Koch Institute, more than 2,300 doctors and nurses have been infected with coronavirus in Germany.

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Turkish government steps up attacks on workers. By Ulas Atesci, 11 April 2020. President Erdoğan has made clear that his priority is maintaining production, exports and high profits, despite a surge of COVID-19 cases in the factories.

Trump wants corporate privatisation of space


This 2015 video says about itself:

The Wonders of Space – Amazing Hubble interstellar images – sit back, relax and enjoy the view

Images from Hubble, Spitzer, Herschel and Chandra Telescopes as well as from the ISS.

After President Donald Trump tried to buy Greenland with United States taxpayers’ money … he now tries with outer space.

By Don Barrett in the USA:

Trump executive order asserts US property rights in outer space

10 April 2020

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday, “Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources”, that asserts US property rights in outer space. Throwing aside decades of international negotiations, it declares that “the United States does not view it [space] as a global commons”, and that “[s]uccessful long-term exploration … will require partnership with commercial entities to recover and use resources”, and these will require “the right to commercial recovery”.

The Trump administration’s order follows its December creation of a new “Space Force” branch of the US military, but this is not uniquely a phenomenon of this administration. Last summer, France’s Macron administration announced its own space command, and programs to weaponize space were previously touted by both the US administrations of Reagan and George W. Bush. Bush’s report explicitly made a connection to the early days of empire, comparing the militarization of space with the early development of navies, and the necessity to achieve “full-spectrum dominance” in space, land, sea and air.

From the time of the Age of Exploration, new achievements in technology and the productive forces have opened new frontiers to scientific discovery—and to the scramble for profitable returns. Outer space is now simply the latest of these frontiers in which US imperialism expects future advantage, and to attain it is prepared to assert and defend its strategic interests.

Both the assertion of commercial interests in and the militarization of space directly flout international agreements built up over the post-World War II period. The idea of international governance, as a means to suspend for a time the scrambling over frontiers not yet ripe for exploitation, was first applied in the Antarctic Treaty System, which entered force in 1961. Antarctica was declared a scientific preserve, with freedom of scientific exploration but with military activity banned.

The Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Outer Space Treaty”) emulated the Antarctic agreement, forbidding weapons of mass destruction in space and reserving the use of celestial bodies to peaceful purposes.

Articles I and II of the treaty specifically state, “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries … and shall be the province of all mankind,” and that “outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty.”

A further treaty, the “Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” (the “Moon Treaty”) of 1979, extends this concept to declare, “Neither the surface nor the subsurface of the moon, nor any part thereof or natural resources in place, shall become property of any State, international intergovernmental or non-governmental organization, national organization or non-governmental entity or of any natural person.”

The 1979 treaty, negotiated at a period when international divisions were rapidly intensifying, failed to gain any spacefaring nations’ signatures, and among the great powers only France signed.

And even with these treaties, Earth orbit was rapidly filled with surveillance satellites, nuclear radio-isotope power supplies, and even several high-powered military satellites powered by full-blown nuclear reactors, subject to eventually reentering and polluting the Earth, as one already has.

By 2015, the grubbing for profit was asserted openly in the US “Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015,” which passed the US House by 281–133, with nearly all Republicans and 48 Democrats voting in favor. It was affirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate and signed into law by Democratic President Barack Obama. While the act claims it does not “assert sovereignty, or sovereign or exclusive rights,” it grants a commercial operator the right to be “entitled to any asteroid resource or space resource obtained, including to possess, own, transport, use, and sell.”

The latest executive order goes further. Trump has directed the Secretary of State to object to any efforts to represent the 1979 Moon Treaty as customary international law. “This Agreement [the 1979 treaty] represents a failed attempt at constraining free enterprise…” Furthermore, the administration stated that it will “negotiate joint statements, bilateral and multi-lateral agreements … with like-minded states.” One can already see the “no trespassing” signs.

The Trump executive order was immediately criticized by the Russian space agency Roscosmos, which noted, “Attempts to expropriate outer space and aggressive plans to actually seize territories of other planets hardly set the countries [towards the goal of] fruitful cooperation.”

A driver for the division of space is the rapidly dropping cost to reach it. From the first US satellite launch in 1957, the price has dropped a hundredfold, from $1,000,000 to $10,000 per kilogram by 1970, where it remained for thirty years. But efficient and reusable new technologies now promise launch costs in the relatively near future under $2000 per kilogram, and within a few decades, under $200 per kilogram.

Something of a gold rush is underway to set down stakes and interests, years before expected returns. In fact, the last US landing of any spacecraft, manned or unmanned, on the moon was in 1972. Meanwhile, nation after nation is entering or reentering the race, with China having landed four unmanned probes on the moon, including the first on the “far” side, never directly visible from Earth because of the moon’s tidally-locked orbit.

One reality that will not change is that the surface of the Earth remains in a deep gravity well, which even with newly affordable launch costs will remain an expensive source of raw materials from which to develop facilities in space. Long-term, bulk supplies for building stations, fueling vehicles, and providing water and oxygen to inhabitants, are best provided from asteroids or potential resources on the lunar surface—including in particular the water ice that is thought to exist in the cold perpetually-shadowed regions of its polar craters.

In the language of rocketry, the “delta-v,” the fuel-consuming velocity shift which a rocket requires to accomplish a certain mission, is far smaller from the surface of the moon, and even smaller from certain asteroids, to Earth orbit than from the surface of the Earth. This is why the Apollo lunar lander was so much smaller to return astronauts from the lunar surface than the vast Saturn V launch vehicle necessary to set them on their way. And establishing priority, especially for potentially limited good mining locations for lunar ice, or for asteroids on a rare trajectory that permits Earth-orbit capture with minimal cost in resources, is driving the stake-building.

The potential benefits to humanity, as anticipated in the UN treaties, are vast. But under capitalism and its associated nation-state system, every advance is also simultaneously turned into a tool of class oppression and national advantage. With the partition of space comes its militarization, and the provisioning of resources to unlock new explorations also enables populating Earth orbit with new weapons and more complete surveillance directed below, and drawing the inevitable national boundaries on the moon.