Saudi Arabia, austerity and rising taxes

This 11 May 2020 video says about itself:

Saudi Arabia slashes budget and increases tax

Saudi Arabia has announced major budget cuts and a steep increase in value-added tax (VAT).

VAT is mainly paid by poor people, more than by Saudi royals, the Bin Laden dynasty and other rich people.

The move is aimed at shoring up state finances, which have been battered by low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Al Jazeera’s Alexi O’Brien reports.

Violin music in Keukenhof flower park

This 7 April 2020 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

Violinist Rosanne Philippens embraces the sunrise in Keukenhof – Keukenhof Virtually Open

Because you cannot visit Keukenhof right now, we decided to bring Keukenhof to you! The first hour of sunlight of the day is also known as the magic hour or the golden hour. Violinist Rosanne Philippens embraces sunrise with sonate No.5 by the Belgian violinist composer Eugene Ysaÿe.

Violin: Rosanne Philippens
Drone: Wiebe de Jager
Camera: Jorrit Pit
Audio: Chris Everts
Location: Keukenhof

This 10 May 2020 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

This is the last video of our Keukenhof Virtually Open series. Together with all employees, we tried to bring Keukenhof to your home this year. Thank you for all the nice comments and we hope to see you next year at Keukenhof!🌷

Violent evictions in Saudi Arabia

This 9 May 2020 video says about itself:

Saudi megacity: Threats, bloodshed & forced evictions: Reports

The death of a prominent tribal leader in Saudi Arabia has thrown the spotlight on tensions over the kingdom’s new “Megacity Project”.

Abdul Rahim al-Hwaiti was shot by security forces three weeks ago, after refusing to give up his home and make way for a planned city, called Neom.

Financial concerns are mounting over the city’s future as well.

Al Jazeera’s Osama bin Javaid reports.

British Conservative Boris Johnson, downfall imminent?

This 11 May 2020 video from Britain says about itself:

The Beginning of the End of Boris Johnson? | Prof John Ashton CBE

“The knives are out” – Professor John Ashton’s Coronavirus Updates Episode 8

00:00 Government of Slogans 01:24 The Beginning of the End? 03:13 Confusion, Confusion, Confusion 04:48 The Speech 06:21 We are NOT all in this together 07:46 Join. A. Union. Now. 08:11 Herd Immunity: Past, Present & Future 09:22 Conservatives loosing their base 10:23 Public Health England is still failing people 11:32 Stay Alert? Stay Home? 12:51 We need transparency! 13:08 Divided Kingdom 13:41 Trust 15:12 Second Wave? 15:44 The Horse Has Bolted the Stable. A Grand National of Horses! 17:20 Footballers getting Tests before Frontline Workers 18:08 Guided by the S̶c̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ Politics 19:54 Sweden 20:58 Apologise Now!

Coronavirus pandemic, worldwide news

This 10 May 2020 video says about itself:

South Korea braces for second coronavirus wave with new cluster in Seoul | DW News

China, South Korea and Germany report new COVID-19 outbreaks. By Bryan Dyne, 11 May 2020. In all three countries, the new coronavirus cases have come after the partial lifting of lockdown measures.

Hundreds of COVID-19 infections in German meatpacking plants. By Marianne Arens, 11 May 2020. Immigrants from Romania, who are the main workers in the German meatpacking industry, are now being struck down by COVID-19.

Seventy-five years after the end of World War II. Right-wing ideologues in Germany demand sacrifice of human lives in coronavirus pandemic. By Christoph Vandreier, 11 May 2020. Three-quarters of a century after the end of the most brutal war in world history, the German ruling elite is returning to authoritarian and ultimately fascist policies to enforce militarism and inequality.

Appeal demands the defense of “non-negotiable human rights”. General Motors workers in Mexico call for an international struggle to keep plants closed during pandemic. By Andrea Lobo, 11 May 2020. Asked about how workers should respond across North America, a worker said: “Through a strike protest to demand no reopening until it’s safe and the virus has been eradicated.”

Mexican workers, COVID-19 and the fight against the back-to-work campaign. By Andrea Lobo, 11 May 2020. Thousands of workers at manufacturing plants across Mexico, called maquiladoras, have struck to force the closing of nonessential plants and to demand protective equipment at essential plants.

Governments globally reopen schools, ignoring scientists’ warnings of coronavirus impact on children. By Will Morrow, 11 May 2020. Governments see reopening schools as essential as a false symbol of a return to normal, and so that they can herd parents back into their workplaces.

Spanish army expects new COVID-19 outbreak. By Alejandro López, 11 May 2020. The state is placing the lives of millions of workers going back to work in danger, putting corporate profits above workers’ lives.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 9 May 2020:

India: Punjab bus workers demand COVID-19 insurance

Contract workers from the state-owned commuter bus company Punbus/Punjab Roadways demonstrated at several locations in Jalandhar district on May 5 over several demands, including insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The protesters burnt effigies of the Punjab’s chief minister.

Workers alleged that they had been forced to working during the coronavirus lockdown without any health insurance or benefits. Drivers and conductors who had been quarantined claim that they did not receive proper medical treatment at the quarantine wards.

Workers want 5 million rupees ($US66,500) insurance cover, like other front-line workers, as well as gloves, masks and PPE kits for all workers deployed on COVID-19 duties and to be given full-time jobs. The workers are members organised by the Punbus/Punjab Roadways Contractual Workers Union. …

Tamil Nadu sanitation workers demand promised COVID-19 bonus

Around 1,800 sanitation workers from the Tiruppur [municipal] Corporation wore black badges to work last week to demand a special one month’s salary payment as promised by the state government. The limited protest was part of a state-wide action by members of Tiruppur District Conservancy Workers Association, which is affiliated to the All India Trade Union Congress.

Workers said that the Tamil Nadu chief minister had already announced a one-month special payment for doctors, nurses, medical staff and sanitary workers to honour their contribution in the fight against COVID-19 but nothing had been done to fulfil his pledge.

New Delhi hospital nurses strike over unsafe conditions

Nurses at the Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in New Delhi walked out on strike on May 4 in protest against unsafe conditions at the facility where a large number of doctors, nurses and other health workers have been infected with COVID-19. …

Jammu cleaners demand protection against COVID-19

A group of cleaners in Jammu, Northern India, staged a sit-down protest on May 5 to demand better working conditions. The workers displayed placards, calling for personal protective equipment and safe working conditions to combat COVID-19. The cleaners said that they were working in unsafe conditions due to lack of masks, gloves and sanitisers.

According to Bangladesh Garment Workers Solidarity, a garment workers’ organisation, at least 97 garment workers have been infected with COVID-19 and 10 have died.

Australian intelligence sources alarmed by US “Wuhan lab” claim. By Mike Head, 11 May 2020. The primary fear in these ruling circles is that the assertions are so unreliable that they discredit the US confrontation with China, in which Australia is on the frontline.

Australia: Local authorities in mining regions have warned that the continued operations of the sector threaten outbreaks of COVID-19: here.

New Zealand sees increase in racist anti-Chinese attacks. By Tom Peters, 11 May 2020.

Ten Canadian airport taxi drivers die from COVID-19. By Jake Silver, 11 May 2020. The high death toll at Toronto airport underscores the grave threat all workers face from the reckless, premature back-to-work drive.

By Keith Jones, 11 May 2020. Canada was entirely unprepared for the pandemic, with the “health” of the financial markets regarded as far more important than that of the health care system.

Birds in nature reserve in Malta

This 11 May 2020 video says about itself:

Birds at Salina Nature Reserve this spring

Here is a short video edit with footage of different birds we’ve observed at Salina since the start of spring. The video includes shots of different species such as Ruff, Grey Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Barn Swallow and Yellow Wagtail.

At the moment we are making an extra effort to share photos and footage of flora and fauna at our reserves since unfortunately these natural sites are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope it won’t be long before we can all start to go out again to enjoy the beauty of nature in spring!

Footage by Manuel Mallia, editing by Nathaniel Attard.

Coronavirus in Trump’s USA, update

This 11 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Dozens protest to keep COVID-19 restrictions in Philly | NowThis

In US news and current events today, dozens of people took to the streets of Philadelphia to counter-protest the [Flu Klux Klan] ‘Reopen Philly’ protesters. They are fighting to keep COVID-19 restrictions in place in order to stop the virus from spreading.

WHY THE COVID-19 DEATH TOLL IS LIKELY UNDERREPORTED Trump thinks the coronavirus death toll figures are being inflated to make him look bad. But the crisis is devastatingly real. And far from being exaggerated, experts believe the true number of people who have died from COVID-19 is actually higher than what’s been reported ― nearly 80,000 in the U.S. so far. Here are some reasons why the coronavirus death toll is most likely an undercount — not an overcount. [HuffPost]

TRUMP MET WITH GOP LAWMAKERS WITHOUT MASKS OR SOCIAL DISTANCING President Donald Trump hosted nearly 20 House Republicans at the White House on Friday to talk about rebuilding the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic ― and not one of them wore a mask or practiced social distancing. Photos from the meeting show lawmakers casually mingling and talking in close range in the State Dining Room without masks on before the president arrives, also without a mask. Once he comes in, they sit at a large table with some space between them, but not the recommended six feet. [HuffPost]

PENCE WON’T SELF-ISOLATE, CEOS ASKED TO REMOVE MASKS BEFORE MEETING HIM Vice President Mike Pence will not self-isolate after his press secretary Katie Miller tested positive for the coronavirus, and he plans to return to the White House on Monday, his office said. Shortly after learning that Miller had coronavirus, Pence walked into a meeting in Iowa, where four CEOs of food companies and the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation were told to remove their face masks beforehand. Pence also did not wear a mask. [HuffPost]

TRUMP ADVISER: ‘IT’S SCARY TO GO TO WORK’  White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said it is “scary to go to work” in the White House after several officials have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and several others entered self-quarantine. “I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing. But, you know, it’s the time when people have to step up and serve their country,” Hassett said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. At least two members of the Trump administration who typically have close contact with the president have tested positive for coronavirus. [HuffPost]

Beloved Brooklyn teacher, 30, dies of coronavirus after she was twice denied a COVID-19 test.

MNUCHIN: ACTUAL UNEMPLOYMENT COULD BE CLOSE TO 25% The Labor Department reported the unemployment rate has hit a record 14.7%, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the actual rate could be closer to 25%. The latter figure would match the joblessness rate during the Great Depression, estimated to have peaked at 24.9% in 1933. Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Mnuchin about the Labor Department’s report, which excluded the 7 million jobs lost since April 18, the millions not currently looking for work, and the underemployed. [HuffPost]

COVID-19 IS FAST BECOMING A WOMEN’S ECONOMIC CRISIS On Friday, the U.S. government reported the jobless rate hitting 14.7% in April, a level not seen since the Great Depression. Women make up 49% of the U.S. workforce, but held 55% of the jobs lost in April. The unemployment rate for women stands at an unprecedented rate — 15.5% — the first time ever that U.S. women have faced a double-digit unemployment rate. For Black and Hispanic women, it’s worse: 16.4% and 20.2%, respectively. The unemployment rate for men is 13%; for white men, it is 12.4%. [HuffPost]

Starbucks workers confront the big question: Return to work in a pandemic?

What to know about Kawasaki disease symptoms in kids and COVID-19.