Coronavirus crisis in the USA


This 17 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

LGBTQIA People Face Unique Barriers To COVID-19 Care

Congressional candidate Bre Kidman says profit-driven medicine depends on maintaining the unequal access to healthcare faced by trans, LGBTQ, and other marginalized groups.

The pandemic, profits and the capitalist justification of suffering and death. 18 April 2020. For the financial-corporate oligarchy, the pandemic has been viewed, above all else, as an economic crisis. Its principal concern from the start was not the potential loss of life but the destabilization of the financial markets, the disruption of the process of profit extraction, and, of course, a substantial decline in the personal wealth of the members of the oligarchy: here.

Amazon workers in Italy strike over coronavirus cover-up. Worker resistance grows internationally as governments push premature return to work. By Shannon Jones, 18 April 2020. The reckless drive by the Trump administration and governments in Europe to resume production despite health warnings will produce a social explosion.

As US deaths soar, bipartisan back-to-work drive guarantees the explosive spread of pandemic. By Benjamin Mateus, 18 April 2020. Trump and the political establishment are seeking to enforce a return to work despite the warnings of medical experts that the US is nowhere near prepared to reopen safely.

Detroit-area hospitals slash jobs and close facilities to cut costs during COVID-19 crisis. By Kevin Reed, 18 April 2020. Corporate health care providers in the Detroit area are attempting to impose financial losses associated with the health crisis onto the working class.

Nurse who exposed conditions at Massachusetts nursing home dies from COVID-19. By Andrew Timon, 18 April 2020. Maria Krier’s death is another tragic outcome of the appalling conditions in nursing homes throughout New England and the US.

Seventeen bodies found piled in a New Jersey nursing home. By Erik Schreiber, 18 April 2020. This ghastly discovery is symptomatic of the disaster unfolding at nursing homes in the state, across the US and internationally.

Florida orders National Guard to assist in nursing home COVID-19 testing. By Matthew Taylor, 18 April 2020. There has been no push for mass testing, with only 236,000 of the state’s more than 21 million residents tested to date.

Washington D.C. legislature endorses limited rent relief, bars assistance to undocumented immigrants. By our reporter, 18 April 2020. The city’s government left it up to representatives of the city’s tourist industry to provide assistance to undocumented workers.

Lutsenko, Longo Borghini win Giro d’Italia stage


This 18 April 2020 video is about the first stage of the virtual Tour of Italy cycling race.

Alexey Alexandrovich Lutsenko from Kazakhstan today won the first stage of the online Giro d’Italia cycling race for men. Sixteen men participated.

Italian Elisa Longo Borghini won the women’s race. Eight women participated.

Both winners are fairly good at riding in mountains. This first stage was hilly.

The coronavirus crisis means the cyclists cannot compete on roads. So, they ride on home trainers at their homes, which are connected to computer screens showing animated virtual scenery.

This is also a way to raise money for the Red Cross to fight the coronavirus crisis in Italy.

The results were:

Men:

1. Alexey Loetsenko 44.41
2. Elia Viviani 48.21
3. Davide Martinelli 50.23
4. Fred Wright 51.45
5. Mirco Maestri 52.58
6. Grega Bole 52.59
7. Samuele Zoccarato 53.29
8. Mattia Frapporti 53.56
9. Paul Martens 54.25
10. Nicola Bagioli 54.28

Women:

1. Elisa Longo Borghini 1.01.02
2. Barbara Guarischi 1.04.46
3. Arianna Fidanza 1.05.34
4. Maria Giualia Confalonieri 1.08.47
5. Lizzie Deignan 1.09.02
6. Katia Ragusa 1.16.21
7. Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz 1.16.21
8. Liliana Moreno 1.16.21

Over the next three days, other professional male and female cyclists, and veterans and amateurs as well, will ride this first stage. Then, onward to the second stage.

Wildlife benefits from coronavirus lockdown


This 11 April 2020 video says about itself:

At the Urubo Golf Country Club in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, world’s friendliest rodents capybaras have been spotted more frequently in recent days as the club has not been frequented often due to the coronavirus outbreak, as footage filmed on Saturday shows.

Dozens of rodents could be seen moving in herds and swimming in the lagoon of the exclusive resort now deserted.

As a local worker explained, up to 40 capybaras took over the grounds of the golf club since the quarantine started.

The mammals, which are usually seen in smaller numbers in the area, are known as the largest rodent in the world and are a native species of Bolivia.

The country, whose government declared a quarantine on March 21, recorded 139 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 10 deaths as of Saturday.

See also this tweet from South Africa.

5 reasons you might be seeing more wildlife during the COVID-19 pandemic. From rats and coyotes in the streets to birds in the trees, people are noticing more animals than ever during the time of the coronavirus. By Bethany Brookshire, June 5, 2020.

Daily global CO2 emissions dropped dramatically as COVID-19 kept people home. Daily carbon dioxide emissions in early April were 17 percent lower than average daily emissions for 2019, thanks to government policies to restrict the spread of the coronavirus. By Carolyn Gramling, May 19, 2020.

The U.K.’s CO2 emissions dropped to a 100-year low in lockdown.

Far-right Trump supporters want more coronavirus deaths


This 17 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Supporters Cause A Scene In Michigan

Trump supporters are slowing down any progress our country is trying to make [against the coronavirus pandemic]. Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur discuss on The Young Turks. …

The protest — dubbed “Operation Gridlock” — was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, a DeVos family-linked conservative group. Protesters were encouraged to show up and cause traffic jams, honk and bring signs to display from their cars.

These Trump supporters blocked healthcare workers from reaching their patients.

So did supporters of neofascist President Bolsonaro of Brazil.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Trump tweets support for far-right protests against social distancing orders

18 April 2020

President Donald Trump on Friday posted a series of tweets promoting far-right groups that are holding demonstrations in state capitals against mainly Democratic governors to demand the immediate lifting of stay-at-home orders. In separate postings, he tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA”, and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege”.

The incitement of such protests, carried out in violation of state stay-at-home orders and federal guidelines that extend until the end of April, coincides with the government’s stepped-up push for a rapid return to work, under conditions of record infection and death rates and an absence of any centrally organized, large-scale testing program.

Having announced on Thursday his plan for the state-by-state reopening of the economy, in the face of ongoing strikes and protests by workers against being forced back to work without health safeguards, Trump is seeking to mobilize his far-right base to press for a rapid lifting of barriers to corporate profit-making.

Trump’s tweets followed demonstrations Wednesday in Lansing, Michigan; Frankfurt, Kentucky and Raleigh, North Carolina, and protests Thursday in Richmond, Virginia and Austin, Texas. They coincided with demonstrations on Friday in St. Paul, Minnesota and Boise, Idaho.

A protest is scheduled for today in Olympia, Washington, and others are expected in the coming days in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states. Many of these states are considered to be swing states that could decide the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

The biggest demonstration thus far, still relatively small with some 1,000 participants, took place Wednesday in Lansing. Along with a car caravan that clogged the streets in front of the Capitol building, scores of demonstrators rallied in the open on the Capitol grounds. Defying orders to wear masks and observe social distancing, they chanted “Lock her up”, referring to Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who last week extended state stay-at-home orders until May 4.

Most wore pro-Trump garb and some carried assault rifles. Some displayed Nazi insignia and carried Confederate flags. Dubbed “Operation Gridlock”, the event was sponsored by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, an ultra-right group of Trump loyalists. It was promoted by the Michigan Freedom Fund, an outfit financed by the billionaire DeVos family. Betsy DeVos, the wife of former Amway CEO Dick DeVos, is Trump’s secretary of education.

Also involved were fascistic organizations such as the Michigan Proud Boys, the Michigan Liberty Militia, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccination groups and other elements of the extreme right.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, who is from Michigan, tweeted greetings “from the police state of Michigan”, while denouncing the lockdown as “authoritarian” and a “power grab.”

The demonstration on Friday in Boise, Idaho against Republican Governor Brad Little was backed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which is funded by the Koch brothers and the fortune of the right-wing beer mogul Adolph Coors. Ammon Bundy, the leader of the militia occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge in 2016, which became a rallying point for the fascistic right in the US, publicly promoted the event.

So did the Daily Stormer, the biggest neo-nazi internet site in the USA.

The corporate media have given lavish and generally sympathetic coverage to the Lansing protest, using it to present a distorted narrative of a popular drumbeat to end anti-pandemic restrictions and reopen business activity. The networks and cable news channels—which have downplayed waves of wildcat strikes and protests by hospital workers, transit workers, Amazon workers, meatpacking workers, grocery and Instacart workers, and others—have concealed the far-right and fascistic groups behind the Lansing protest as well as the other “reopen America” demonstrations.

Fox News is openly promoting the events, and no doubt has had a hand, along with the White House and right-wing corporate groups, in staging them. Laura Ingraham tweeted on Friday: “How many of those who urged our govt to help liberate the Iraqis, Syrians, Kurds, Afghanis, etc. are as committed now to liberating Virginia, Minnesota, California, etc?”

The Democratic governors, whatever their tactical differences with the Trump administration, have fallen into line with the back-to-work drive. Just hours after the pro-Trump rally at the governor’s mansion in St. Paul on Friday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order reopening businesses such as golf courses and driving ranges, bait shops, marina services, outdoor shooting ranges and game farms, as well as public and private parks and trails.

The Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, announced a “framework” for reopening his state, as did Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott. Florida Governor Ron De Santis gave the green light for the reopening of beaches, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry promptly opened up the beaches in his city.

At his daily coronavirus press conference on Friday, Trump hailed the day’s 704-point gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, concluding the blue-chip index’s best two-week performance since the 1930s. The euphoria on Wall Street in the midst of an economic collapse without precedent since the Great Depression, including the loss of 22 million jobs over the past four weeks, is in response to the allocation of trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to bail out and further enrich the corporate-financial aristocracy. The misnamed CARES Act, which provides more than $6 trillion to cover the bad debts and losses of the banks, corporations and hedge funds, was passed at the end of March with the near-unanimous support of the Democrats.

The stock market “is not far below its all-time high”, Trump boasted.

Trump and his far-right allies are seeking to exploit genuine anger and anxiety among workers and small business people over the catastrophic loss of jobs and income resulting from the ruling class’s refusal to mount a serious response to the pandemic, and the wholly inadequate assistance being offered to workers and shop keepers, even as trillions are handed over to the corporate-financial elite.

But the mass of workers opposes being forced back to work only to face infection and possible death from the virus, and the prospect of infecting their coworkers, families and friends. The protests being organized by the Republican right are attracting few workers and are dominated by backward, disoriented and ultra-reactionary forces.

In contrast to the media narrative of a groundswell of support for lifting social distancing measures, a Pew Research Center poll released on Thursday showed that 66 percent of Americans are concerned that state governments will lift restrictions on public activity too quickly, more than double the 32 percent who believe the states are not moving quickly enough.

This includes more than half of Republicans, 51 percent, as compared to 46 percent who worry that restrictions will be lifted too slowly.

The poll also showed that 65 percent believe Trump was too slow to address the threat of the pandemic in the US, as opposed to 34 percent who say he moved too quickly.

The poll indicated that 73 percent of Americans believe the worst is still to come in the pandemic.

Within the framework of the capitalist system and its two-party political monopoly, there is no humane and rational way forward in the fight against the mass death and disease caused by the pandemic. But the alternative being presented of risk death on the job or face homelessness and starvation is a false alternative.

The real alternative for the working class, the vast majority of the population, is the mobilization of workers to expropriate the financial oligarchy and utilize the immense wealth of society to provide the medical care and testing needed to halt the pandemic, while insuring that workers suffer no loss in employment or income for the duration of the health crisis.

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United States poets against Trump


This 1990 video from the USA is called Poetry Breaks: Martín Espada on Being a Political Poet.

By Andy Croft in Britain today:

TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY POETRY: Poems with empathy and outrage

In a new collection, US poets challenge the dehumanisation of the Trump era

THE CORONAVIRUS has already brought out the best in almost everyone — our common human instincts for solidarity, compassion and co-operation. On the other hand, there are those who are working hard to remind us that the real virus is human selfishness and stupidity.

Which is why the publication of What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump (Curbstone/Northwestern University Press, £29.50) is so timely and so welcome.

Edited by the great New York-Puerto Rican poet Martín Espada, the book contains work by more than 90 poets, including Kwame Dawes, Juan Felipe Herrera, Richard Blanco, Carolyn Forche, Patricia Smith, Robert Pinsky, Donald Hall, Sam Hamill, Elizabeth Alexander, Doug Anderson, Marge Piercy, Yusef Komunyakaa, Brian Turner, Jim Daniels, Daisy Zamora, Naomi Shihab Nye and Espada himself.

Coronavirus catastrophe in Britain


This 13 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

Care providers in the United Kingdom are urging the government to roll out regular widespread testing for staff, residents and new intakes from hospitals as fears rise over the number of possible deaths in nursing homes from COVID-19.

Deaths from the virus in nursing homes are not counted in the daily figures and there are fears that a thousand residents may have died and gone uncounted.

7,500 feared to have died of coronavirus in UK care homes. Care England data suggests fatalities are five times higher than official figures show: here.

By Symon Hill in Britain, Friday, April 17, 2020:

Why waste money on bombs and bullets when ventilators are what’s needed?

SYMON HILL invites readers to join the Peace Pledge Union’s call for military budgets to be reallocated to tackling Covid-19

WHAT’S the difference between a ventilator and a fighter jet? Britain doesn’t have a shortage of fighter jets.

In recent years, British ministers have spent billions of pounds of public money on 48 F35 fighter jets.

They will not make us any safer. Like all weapons, they contribute to making the world less safe.

Two actors wearing Nick Clegg (right) and David Cameron masks break a heart, with the words NHS printed on it, during a protest by Unison union members against the Health and Social Care Bill, at the gates of Downing Street in London in February 2012

The photo shows two actors wearing then Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (right) and Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron masks breaking a heart, with the words NHS printed on it, during a protest by Unison trade union members against the Health and Social Care Bill, at the gates of Downing Street in London in February 2012.

By Jon Tait in Britain, 17 April 2020:

When you clap on your doorstep for the NHS, please remember the Tories’ decade of cuts

JON TAIT’s wife was a nurse for 22 years and feels the pressure to go back – but, without adequate PPE thanks to chronic underfunding, it’s a dangerous step to take

I KNEW when I married a nurse that she was as committed to the NHS and her patients as she was to me.

All of us that have partners who work in the National Health Service are familiar with the long shifts, the emotional drain, the scrutiny and mental pressure that they work under every day.

I was a construction worker when I met my wife, who was then just starting on the old four-year degree as a student.

By Solomon Hughes in Britain, 17 April 2020:

£276,000 a year for chairing ISS – the company that wouldn’t pay its NHS cleaners on time

SOLOMON HUGHES introduces a Miliband-era Labour lord who’s doing very well for himself out of NHS privatisation

ONE of the biggest privatisation firms with their hooks into the NHS is led by a Labour lord who was given a top party role by Ed Miliband in 2011, and then put into the Lords.

Charles Allen — or Lord Allen of Kensington, as he is known thanks to Miliband’s Labour putting him in the upper house in 2013 — is the chairman of cleaning and catering corporation ISS.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain, Friday, April 17, 2020:

PPE might not last the weekend

MPs react with shock as Health Secretary refuses to guarantee vital equipment will be on the front line

HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock today repeatedly refused to guarantee that NHS and social care staff would have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) this weekend.

Mr Hancock was grilled online by MPs, including his predecessor Jeremy Hunt, as part of the Commons health committee’s scrutiny of the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Committee chairman Mr Hunt had a controversial tenure as health secretary, overseeing underfunding and part-privatisation of the NHS, as well as two junior doctors’ strikes in one week.

By Bethany Rielly in Britain, 17 April 2020:

Socialist Labour MPs call for government to safeguard migrants through pandemic

THE government has failed to take “decisive action” to support migrants despite many risking their health as key workers, socialist Labour MPs have charged.

In a letter to the Home Office, four MPs from the Socialist Campaign Group called on the government to take urgent steps to safeguard and protect the health of migrants during and after the coronavirus crisis.

It follows multiple warnings from campaigners that immigration enforcement is still being prioritised over public health.

The letter, penned by Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana, Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe and Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, calls for a number of measures including the closure of detention centres.

Although hundreds of detainees have been released in recent weeks, detention centres remain open, with officials even moving in new people.

This is despite a number of centres already having confirmed and suspected cases of Covid-19.

The MPs also called for immigration healthcare surcharges to be scrapped, condemning the financial barrier as “inhumane”, as well as ending “no recourse to public funds” conditions which prevent migrants accessing benefits.

Ms Ribeiro-Addy said: “It’s needlessly cruel to leave migrants in a position where they can’t meet their basic needs at the best of times.

“During a global pandemic it’s also a serious public health issue.”

The MPs also called for all undocumented migrants to be given an amnesty and said NHS workers should be granted indefinite leave to remain.

Recent government plans to extend visas for NHS workers was “not enough”, they added.

“Those fighting the virus for British residents should have the same rights as British residents,” the letter reads.

From daily News Line in Britain, 18 April 2020:

UNITE national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said yesterday that ‘Pressures on our ambulance members are unprecedented, with the profession not currently being given the correct guidance as to whom they should take to hospital.

‘They are also not being given the correct level of personal protective equipment (PPE) if they suspect a patient has Covid-19.

‘Ambulance workers are putting their health, perhaps their lives, at risk, by not receiving the correct PPE and also by not receiving the correct fit test training to wear the PPE.

‘On top of this, the lack of testing remains a stark and very serious issue – there are not enough tests to ensure ambulance staff are tested within the five-day window for testing.

‘Unite is urgently calling for ambulance workers to be given clear guidance regarding triaging which patients should be taken to hospital, and more action on PPE which needs to be supplied to paramedics, so they are able to do their essential duties.

Captain Tom Moore raising money for the NHS

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Captain Tom Moore to keep walking to raise money for NHS

CAPTAIN Tom Moore will keep walking laps of his garden for as long as people are donating to his NHS fundraising appeal, his daughter said today.

The appeal was close to topping £20 million this evening.

The 99-year-old second-world-war veteran set out to walk 100 laps of his garden in Bedfordshire before his 100th birthday on April 30.

By Bethany Rielly in Britain, 17 April 2020:

Rules allowing corporations to gorge on profits as workers struggle can’t go on in a post-coronavirus world

Research by left-wing think tank Common Wealth reveals Britain’s biggest firms paid out £400 billion in dividends between 2011 and 2018

Blanket octopuses, video


This 16 April 2020 video says about itself:

The Most Incredible Octopus You’ve Never Heard of: The Blanket Octopus

All octopuses start out as teeny, tiny plankton, and most grow up to settle down on the seafloor. The blanket octopus, however, never settles down, and spends its life wandering the open ocean.

Hosted by: Stefan Chin.