COVID-19 and food industry, worldwide

This 28 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Workers call for closure of meatpacking plant to avoid COVID-19

Some employees at JBS Beef in Tolleson fear catching COVID-19.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 30 June 2020:

Lawsuit charges Tyson foods culpable in death of three workers at Iowa pork plant

A lawsuit on behalf of the families of three workers who died of COVID-19 at Tyson’s largest pork-processing facility in Waterloo, Iowa was filed June 25. Sedika Buljic, aged 58, Reberiano Garcia, aged 60 and Jose Ayala, Jr., aged 44, died during the period April to May from the coronavirus under conditions where the company knowingly put workers at risk.

The Spence Law Firm is charging that the company was aware of the spread of the virus to the Waterloo plant, but concealed the information. As the contagion grew, management failed to implement safety measures. Lastly, in what an AP report called an “explosive claim,” Tyson, “allowed workers and subcontractors from another Iowa plant that had closed due to a coronavirus outbreak to begin working in Waterloo in April. Plant supervisors told employees that their sick coworkers had the flu and warned them not to discuss coronavirus at work.”

In an April newspaper ad, the company’s CEO John Tyson issued a warning that coronavirus and plant closures were leading to a breakdown in the “food supply chain” and there would be meat shortages. Meanwhile, Tyson’s exports of pork to China during the same month increased.

COVID-19 increase at UK’s 2 Sisters, Rowan and Kober meat processing factories. By Tony Robson, 1 July 2020. Inadequate and unsafe forms of transport, poor working conditions, and rundown accommodation are class issues bound up with the wealth extraction demanded by capitalism.

From daily News Line in Britain today:

Super-exploitation in Covid-infected meat factories

THE LINK between outbreaks of Covid-19 at meat processing plants and the sector’s widespread exploitation of migrant workers on low pay and insecure contracts ‘must be addressed’, the union Unite said yesterday.

Although conditions within refrigerated meat processing factories have been cited as a risk factor for coronavirus transmission, Unite said there is also a direct correlation between the treatment of migrant staff as ‘disposable assets’ and the spread of the disease in such environments.

This is particularly true in meat processing factories that do not provide staff who need to self-isolate with company sick pay or any other form of financial support, as it increases the danger of individuals with Covid-19 going into work because they cannot afford to take time off.

The union also raised concerns about track and trace record keeping for agency workers, such as production line staff and cleaners, who often work at multiple sites and whose contact details may not be available or could be overlooked during infection control procedures.

Industry employment standards are also directly linked to overcrowded housing which is a contributing factor to the risk of outbreaks within factories.

A recent Unite survey of 20 per cent of the workforce at a Covid-19 impacted meat processing plant staffed overwhelmingly by migrant workers, found that 43 per cent of respondents live with two or more colleagues (at least three to a house) and 11 per cent live with five or more.

Nearly 65 per cent of the 150 respondents said they have attended work whilst unwell, with 69 per cent of those doing so because they could not afford to lose pay. Just 10 per cent of respondents said they have been tested for Covid-19.

Unite national officer Bev Clarkson said: ‘Exploitation driven by corporate greed is a major factor in the public health emergencies amongst meat processing plants here and in other countries.

‘Migrant workers, who often do not speak English and are scared to speak out because they fear losing their jobs, suffer under a relentless system that long pre-dates Covid-19 in which they are treated without dignity or respect. Exploitation is so rife within the sector that Unite is also concerned that some workers are vulnerable to modern slavery.

‘This issue is now being brought to public attention because of its impact on the UK’s ability to stem the virus. People can see that the treatment of staff in the sector as disposable assets is unjust, unsustainable and a danger to public health.

‘As a priority, employers and government must end the terrible situation where workers are having to choose between self-isolating or going into work because they cannot afford to be ill.

‘It is imperative that ministers and industry commit to a root and branch reform of the meat processing sector. The dire working conditions, low pay and insecure employment that blight the industry and have now come back to bite the nation’s efforts to defeat the coronavirus must be addressed.’

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

At fish processor ProFish in Twello in Gelderland province, 43 workershave been infected with the coronavirus in recent weeks.

”I can get another job. I can’t get another life”. Food processing plants in Ohio and New York hit with outbreaks. By Alex Findijs, 1 July 2020. Outbreaks at salad and fruit processing plants in Springfield, Ohio, and Oswego, New York, show the vulnerability of food workers to the deadly disease.

United States COVID-19 news today

This 30 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Shutdowns across the US are picking up again as coronavirus cases spike. John Iadarola and Emma Vigeland break it down on The Damage Report.

“In an about-face, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey has ordered the state’s bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks to shut down for at least 30 days amid thousands of new coronavirus cases in the state.

Ducey issued the order Monday to go into effect from 8 p.m. local time, citing concern over a recent spike in new cases — including a one-day record of more than 3,800 in the state on Sunday. It was the seventh time in the past 10 days that new cases in Arizona exceeded 3,000. He also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until Aug. 17.

“Our expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse,” he said, describing the state’s coronavirus data as “brutal.”

Most of the state’s bars and nightclubs reopened after Ducey’s stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May. The original order allowed bars with food service to reopen even earlier than White House guidelines recommended.”

OVER 500,000 PEOPLE HAVE DIED OF CORONAVIRUS Johns Hopkins University reported Sunday night that at least 500,000 people have now died of the coronavirus, a somber milestone as cases continue to surge throughout the United States and officials warn the pandemic is far from over. Over the weekend, worldwide coronavirus infections hit the 10 million mark. Infection rates in the U.S. remain among the most troubling in the world. Cases are surging in more than half of the states, prompting some governors to rein in reopening plans and to issue orders mandating people wear masks outside. [HuffPost]

DESANTIS DOUBLES DOWN Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Republican) insisted Tuesday that he would not reintroduce COVID-19 restrictions despite a resurgence of coronavirus cases following a reopening of the state’s economy. “We’re not going back, closing things,” the governor told reporters, adding that he didn’t believe the state’s economic reopening was the cause of the virus spread but rather that it was social interactions among younger Floridians. “I mean, people going to business is not what’s driving it,” he said. “I think when you see the younger folks, I think a lot of it is just more social interactions, and so that’s natural.” [HuffPost]

KANSAS CITY MAYOR CALLED RACIST SLUR AFTER DECLARING FACE MASKS MANDATORY Kansas City’s mayor said Monday that he was called a racist slur and told he should “swing from a tree” after he announced mandatory face masks in the Missouri city. Mayor Quinton Lucas, who is Black, on Twitter shared a screenshot of the texts, which came after he announced Friday that masks will be required in Kansas City when 6 feet (2 meters) of separation isn’t feasible. “You walked with RIOTERS not wearing a mask idiot,” a text read, according to a screenshot Lucas shared. “You should swing from a tree, I’m not threatening it, but would love to see it.” [AP]

MOST AMERICANS FAVOR MASK REQUIREMENTS Most Americans favor requirements to wear face masks in public, a HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. By 62% to 28%, Americans say they’d favor a government rule in the area where they live requiring people to wear a face mask when they are in public and around other people. By 69% to 24%, they say they’d favor local stores instituting policies that require people to wear a face mask while shopping. Support varies along partisan and demographic lines, with Democrats in denser areas most in favor of mask requirements and Republicans in less-dense areas the most resistant. [HuffPost]

EX-BUSH AIDE: ‘THIS IS TRUMP’S PLAGUE NOW’ The blame for the second spike of the coronavirus in the United States can be squarely laid on President Donald Trump, said an ex-speechwriter for former President George W. Bush. “The first coronavirus spike, in late April, can be blamed on President Donald Trump’s negligence. The second spike, in June, is his own doing,” David Frum argued Monday in a new column for The Atlantic. “This is Trump’s plague now,” he added. Frum noted how the earlier sacrifices made by people mandated to stay at home had been thrown away with the premature reopening of the country. [HuffPost]

PENCE CANCELS CAMPAIGN EVENTS IN FLORIDA, ARIZONA Vice President Mike Pence canceled campaign events in Florida and Arizona, as the number of COVID-19 cases in both states surge. Pence backed out of the scheduled appearances on Saturday, just a day after falsely claiming that the nation is “flattening the curve.” The U.S. reached a new record number of coronavirus cases — more than 42,000 — on Saturday. Florida had nearly 9,600 new cases, and Arizona tallied an additional 3,951 cases. This comes as reports are saying the Trump campaign peeled social distancing stickers off in the arena before the president’s Tulsa rally, and a GOP senator pleads with the president to wear a mask. [HuffPost]

EX-CDC HEAD: CASE SURGE DUE TO NEW SPREAD, NOT MORE TESTING Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the recent surge in coronavirus cases across parts of the country is the result of the virus’s spreading, not increased testing, as President Donald Trump has argued. “As a doctor, a scientist, an epidemiologist, I can tell you with 100% certainty that in most states where you’re seeing an increase, it is a real increase,” Frieden told Fox News Sunday. He added: “It is not more tests. It is more spread of the virus. … The numbers you’re seeing are just a tip of the iceberg of even more spread.” [HuffPost]

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

United States tourists are not welcome on Sint Maarten after all. The island would open again today for vacationers from the US, but that has now been postponed by two weeks because of the sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections in the United States.

Earlier, the government of the French part of the island, Saint Martin, had already said that the border with the Dutch part would be closed if Americans would come again. As of today, tourists from Europe and Canada are welcome on the island again.

Citing COVID-19 spread, European Union denies US citizens entry to Europe. By Alex Lantier, 29 June 2020. The American ruling elite’s catastrophic handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is undermining Washington’s position overseas, with far-reaching implications.

OFFICIALS TRACE OVER 100 COVID-19 CASES TO MICHIGAN BAR At least 107 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been linked to a bar in Michigan. Some 95 people who visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub in East Lansing June 12-20 have now tested positive for COVID-19, Ingham County Health Department announced Monday. A further 12 people “who were in contact with a primary case but did not go to Harper’s themselves” have also been infected with the virus, per a statement released by the department. This comes as cases spike all over the country, following Republicans’ push to reopen the economy. [HuffPost]

New York is ending its lockdown. I’m not sure I’m ready to end mine.

John Oliver breaks down COVID-tied eviction catastrophe “just around the corner.”

Boeing corporation cover-up of lethal aircraft problems

This 18 June 2020 video from the United States Senate says about itself:

Lawmakers rip FAA for not disclosing documents on Boeing 737 MAX

Key senators say the FAA is blocking their attempt to get documents that might explain how the agency approved the Boeing 737 MAX before two deadly crashes.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Boeing did not report crucial modification of 737 MAX to aviation authority’

US American aircraft manufacturer Boeing has not reported an essential modification to the type 737 MAX to aviation regulator FAA. This is evident from research by the United States Department of Transportation, published by the news agencies Reuters and AP.

These are changes to the warning system that automatically pushes the nose of the device down if it rises too quickly. Mainly due to errors in this so-called MCAS system, two planes crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia in five months, killing 346 people.

The U.S. department has created a timeline of the aircraft’s history, running from the drawing board in 2012 to grounding in March 2019 after the two crashes.

This shows that Boeing initially dismissed the MCAS system as a relatively insignificant system, which would rarely be activated in practice. But in 2016, after the first test flights with the 737 MAX had taken place, the system was modified.

This pushed nose down with more force when the system was turned on. However, this change was never formally communicated to the FAA, so it was not examined by inspectors. …

Survivors of victims have filed lawsuits against the corporation.

US regulator approves re-certification flights for Boeing’s deadly 737 Max. By Bryan Dyne, 30 June 2020.

German slaughterhouse millionaire, no football boss anymore

This 29 June 2020 German video says about itself (translated):

Schalke fans protest against board member Clemens Tönnies

Football club fans have formed a human chain in front of the home arena in Gelsenkirchen. They demonstrated against the management of the association, which also includes meat entrepreneur Clemens Tönnies.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Controversial meat baron Tönnies resigns as director of Bundesliga club Schalke 04

Clemens Tönnies leaves as chairman of the board at Schalke 04 after almost twenty years, the German football club reports on its website. The 64-year-old businessman is under attack for the disappointing sports performance of Schalke 04 and the recent coronavirus outbreak at his meat factory Tönnies Fleisch.

Schalke 04 did not win the last sixteen Bundesliga matches, finished in twelfth place and again did not qualify for European football. It is the worst series in history. Even before the coronavirus crisis, the club from Gelsenkirchen balanced on the verge of bankruptcy. …

Coronavirus outbreak

Two weeks ago, a major coronavirus outbreak was diagnosed at a branch of the Tönnies meat factory in Rheda-Wiedenbrück (in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia). More than 1,500 people tested positive in the slaughterhouse, making it Germany’s biggest source of infection.

According to the authorities, Tönnies violated the coronavirus rules, endangering the entire region. About 7000 people had to be quarantined. In the slaughterhouses of Tönnies, many foreign workers work under appalling conditions.

Mr Tönnies also got much criticism, including by Schalke players, for his anti-African racism.

COVID-19 disaster in South America

This 29 June 2020 video says about itself:

Brazil COVID-19: Protests over Bolsonaro’s handling of outbreak

Groups of protesters in more than 20 countries and in Brazil’s main cities have called for the resignation of President Jair Bolsonaro, saying he is a threat to democracy.

The protesters called their international day of protest “Stop Bolsonaro”.

They criticized his erratic response to the coronavirus pandemic and what they see as threats against democracy.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports from the Colombian capital, Bogota.

Health care collapses in Bolivia after coup regime reopens economy. By Tomas Castanheira, 29 June 2020. COVID-19 cases have tripled in Bolivia since the country began reopening economic activities less than a month ago.

Coronavirus, Mike Pence and slaughterhouses

This 27 June 2020 cartoon video from the USA says about itself:

Claytoonz, Episode 940, Here Comes The Worm

Watch me draw Mike Pence as a big worm.

Read the cartoon and blog here.

Mike Pence cartoon

The cartoon is about United States Vice President Mike Pence.

There is, however, a big difference between Pence and worms. Worms do very good work for soil environments.

Dutch NOS radio reports today (translated):

U.S. Vice President Pence has canceled a number of campaign meetings in Florida and Alabama over the next week. The reason is the new wave of coronavirus infections in these and other states. …

Eg, Florida and Alabama, but also, eg, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, are experiencing a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus infections. In a number of states, it has been decided to tighten the measures again, after earlier easing.

Reuters news agency reported yesterday that the number of identified infections across the US has risen to more than 2.5 million. The increase in the last 24 hours was 45,000 infections, the highest number to date.

So, as Pence cancels election rallies, apparently, he does not believe the propaganda by his boss Donald Trump, his Brazilian crony Bolsonaro, Elon Musk and other billionaires, and the far-right pro-Trump ‘Flu Klux Klan’ that COVID-19 is supposedly ‘just a little flu’.

Well … err … it looks like Pence does not believe that propaganda as far as his own health is concerned.

He does believe it about the health of slaughterhouse staff and other workers.

Mike Pence told slaughterhouse workers:

Show up and do your job.

As for slaughterhouses, they are COVID-19 epicentres; in the USA and in other countries.

This tweet by Gütersloh local authorities in Germany says that the scandal at Tönnies corporation meatpacking plant is not limited to that plant (where at least 1413 workers became infected); that 75 people living around that slaughterhouse, but not working there, have become infected.

Disney workers against dangerous premature reopening

This 27 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Disney REOPENS Despite Coronavirus Surge in Florida

Disney wants to reopen its parks. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.

““This virus is not gone, unfortunately, it’s only become worse in this state,” the petition, which was posted on on Sunday, states. “Having our theme parks remain closed until cases are steadily decreasing would keep our guests, our employees and their families safe. Re-opening the theme parks is only putting our guests, employees, and families at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.”

The petition comes as coronavirus cases are rising rapidly in the state. The Florida Department of Health reported 5,508 new cases overnight, according to data published by the agency. The 5.3% increase from one day to the next brings the total in the state to 109,014.”

Read more here.

This 28 June 2020 video from California in the USA says about itself:

Disneyland Workers Gather In Anaheim To Demand Changes In Reopening Plan

A car caravan protest was held on Saturday morning in Anaheim to call for changes to plans for the resort‘s reopening, which has been delayed indefinitely. Joy Benedict reports.

This 27 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Latest Disney News: Disneyland Opening Postponed, Splash Mountain is Changing & Park Reservations!

Things are moving towards that reopening date in Disney World, but Disneyland has taken a HUGE step backwards.

Kristina Madden, a commenter on that YouTube video, writes:

You are keeping us more informed than Disney is lmao. I can’t seem to get any info from them!!

United States workers support Black Lives Matter

Members of American Postal Workers Local 125, American Postal Workers St. Paul Local, and National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 9 (Minneapolis local) held a rally in support of Black Lives Matter

This photo from the USA shows members of American Postal Workers Local 125, American Postal Workers St. Paul Local, and National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 9 (Minneapolis local) holding a rally in support of Black Lives Matter.

From daily News Line in Britain today:

Postal workers, bus drivers and students in US support ‘Black Lives Matter

AMERICAN postal workers in Minneapolis are saying Black Lives Matter as over 400 local trade unionists signed a petition calling on workers to resist helping the police suppress the protests.

In the past month, the brutal police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has led to mass protests across the planet, with millions of people across the world standing in solidarity with African Americans.

While the protests have galvanised and inspired millions, the actions of Minneapolis workers in making sure that the protests were effective were no less important.

Local bus drivers refused to drive police officers to the protests, and all light rail services were temporarily shut down.

Alongside transport workers, nurses, social workers and teachers, postal workers were also central to organising solidarity.

[British trade umion] CWU News talked to Tyler Vasseur, an United States Postal Service postal worker and active member of the Minneapolis branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers, about the ongoing events, how his fellow workers responded, and why ‘Black Lives Matter’ is important to the trade union movement.

CWU News: Were you on the ground during the initial George Floyd protests? What were the protests like?

Tyler Vasseur: Yes, I was. On 26th May, tens of thousands of people gathered at the intersection where George Floyd was murdered the previous evening, followed by a march to the 3rd Police Precinct, that covers that part of South Minneapolis (and which became famous two days later, as protesters overran the precinct and burned it to the ground).

This was the biggest protest march I had ever seen in Minneapolis – even bigger than the anti-Trump marches post-2016 election which were huge.

In many ways, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I could tell that first night that this was going to be a lot bigger than just a one-off protest rally. There was this raw energy and rage in the crowd at the violence that the police and political system has inflicted on working-class people, especially people of colour, for hundreds of years.

We’ve seen this to be true with how the movement has spread nationally and internationally, raising the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’ across the globe.

What was the response to the movement like in your workplace?

Given the massive size of the protests, and that my station services neighbourhoods in South Minneapolis, just a few miles north of the George Floyd memorial site and location of many of the major protests, everyone was talking about the protests.

Some people were scared because of the way the media had portrayed all protests as violent and dangerous. But a majority were in support of the protests and for fighting to stop racist police violence.

CWU News: How did your union respond to the events?

After having conversations with co-workers, I realised many of us were going to the protests as individuals, so I floated the idea to some that we should organise a union member contingent for an upcoming march.

Minneapolis workers demonstrate against police brutality

The first two weeks, there were massive spontaneous protests and marches happening all across Minneapolis, and I figured we could just plug into one of those representing our union, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC).

But at the end of the first week of protests, two separate post offices were burned to the ground overnight (they had the unfortunate situation of being located directly next to police stations).

In many ways, this represented the perfect way for our union to get involved in the movement. Because of the explosive nature of the protest and how fast things were moving, rank and file members decided we need to organise something now and get local union leadership to support it later.

We got the time, date, and location set. We got confirmations from over a dozen postal workers that they could attend. Then we brought it to my union’s executive board, won them over and secured their endorsement of the action.

We decided to hold a press conference and rally in front of one of the burned down stations behind the banner ‘Postal Workers Demand Justice for George Floyd’, where we made clear that we stand with the movement. The main message being ‘you can rebuild a post office, but you can’t rebuild the life of a man murdered by the police’.

CWU News: At the moment, many members of our union here in Britain have differing opinions on the protests, and are debating things like whether ‘Black Lives Matter’ is the right thing to be saying or whether their union should be involving itself in this movement. What would your message be to CWU members who are wondering about why the Black Lives Matter movement should be of any concern to their union?

Like I mentioned before, this movement has not only spread across the entire US but internationally as well with huge protest rallies and marches across the UK and Europe. Black Lives Matter is a rallying cry that has been taken up around the world because racism exists everywhere, and it is our duty as the organised working class to fight for our entire class.

For over 40 years the labour movement has been on the defensive, starting with Reagan in the US and Thatcher in the UK attacking unions and workers rights. This process was even more destructive in the US, where union rates have dropped dramatically.

We are now starting to see the revitalisation of the labour movement in the US, beginning with the West Virginia teachers strike in 2018 which spread across the country.

I believe that if we are to rebuild a fighting labour movement in the US, then our unions need to fight for the entire working class, and that means fighting racist police violence and terror against people of colour.

There is an entire generation of young people moving into struggle, and we have an opportunity in our unions to be a part of this movement against racism and police violence, and to show this new generation that unions are organisations that can be used to fight for progressive change. I think this applies to workers and unions in the UK as well.

Meanwhile, teenagers from Berkeley High in California’s Berkeley brought the Black Lives Matter movement to the Berkeley Hills last Tuesday, speaking out against the city’s history of redlining and segregation and demanding that wealthy, white communities take on challenging conversations and actions to address systemic racism.

The three-hour march began at Ashby BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit station) and ended at Codornices Park, two distinct symbols of the formerly majority-Black, now gentrified Lorin District, and the predominantly white, wealthy North Berkeley.

Shayla Avery, 16, and Ultraviolet Schneider-Dwyer, 17, who organised the march, were clear about their intention from the beginning, and spoke about it during the protest.

‘We’re here to wake the Berkeley Hills the fuck up! Because they think it’s okay to put up a sign, and then call it a day,’ Avery said, addressing the crowd of about 250 young protesters who showed up on a cool, overcast afternoon.

‘There are people up there that do not fuck with Black people, and will not do that ever. There’s a reason why I don’t feel comfortable going up there. There’s a reason I don’t know the names of those streets.’

Avery, who told Berkeleyside recently how redlining and its local impact is not addressed properly in the BHS curriculum (Black History), talked to the crowd about how decades before and after WWII, banks in Berkeley, and cities throughout the United States, refused loans to Black residents in parts of the Berkeley Hills, and nearby areas.

This forced them to create cultural and economic communities in South Berkeley, which were disrupted and displaced by the construction of Ashby BART in the 1960s.

The young protesters organised the march after being inspired by two Oakland teens who drew 15,000 people to a June 1 protest in Oakland, and the Pay Your Dues gathering drew a handful of children with their parents, along with many teenagers.

Chaga Kwania graduated from Berkeley High in 2006 and brought his two daughters, 10-year-old Crishayla Moreland and 9-year-old Amiyah Moreland.

‘I liked today because it showed that Black lives matter,’ Crishayla said. It wasn’t the girls’ first protest – they’d also attended an action in the past honouring Oscar Grant.

With chants of ‘Whose streets? Our streets!’ and ‘Ain’t no power like the power of youth, ’cause the power of youth don’t stop,’ the group danced, sang, marched and protested down Ashby and Shattuck avenues, through downtown and up Rose Street.

They blasted N.W.A’s ‘Fuck Tha Police’ as they ascended the hill, and shouted ‘Join us’ and ‘Out of your homes, into the streets’ when residents emerged from homes to clap, cheer on protesters, and display ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs.

Police were not present or visible at any point during the march, and Berkeley firefighters honked for protesters after the group separated on Shattuck to make way for their truck.

The protesters hiked up to Euclid Avenue to a soundtrack of Black Bay Area musicians Mac Dre, Keak Da Sneak, Mistah F.A.B, Kamaiyah and E-40, and finally arrived at Codornices Park around 6pm, without having taken any breaks in a roughly 2.5-mile march.

Over the last few weeks, Berkeley High students have presented successful demands to Berkeley Unified School District, organised a ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural project that scooped the city’s own plans for a similar mural, and held more consecutive protests than any other Berkeley group since the police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.

Their mood was victorious on Tuesday, but Avery and other speakers demanded more from the large numbers of white protesters who came to the gathering.

Schneider-Dwyer, who Avery introduced as a ‘white ally’, told the group to ‘get out of your discomfort’ and take concrete actions to support Black Lives Matter, instead of just adopting a title, putting up a sign, or attending a protest to share photos on social media.

With the backdrop of a misty, and picturesque Berkeley Rose Garden, the protesters held up candles and cellphone lights and read the names of people killed by police – Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Tony McDade and many others – and the names of influential voices in the racial justice movement like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Marsha P. Johnson.

COVID-19 disaster, worldwide news

This 27 June 2020 video says about itself:

Luiz Henrique Mandetta: ‘Bolsonaro follows Trump‘ on coronavirus | Talk to Al Jazeera

On February 26, Brazil became the first country in South America to confirm a COVID-19 infection.

And as the number of cases increased over the subsequent weeks and months, its president, Jair Bolsonaro, refused to take any drastic measures. He fought with state leaders who imposed lockdowns and mandated social distancing rules – calling their actions “economically ruinous“.

Bolsonaro still refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the global pandemic. He has called the virus nothing more than a “little flu”. His priority has been to keep the economy going at any cost.

But now, Brazil has recorded more than 1.2 million infections – and has the world’s second-highest death toll. And as Bolsonaro pushes for people to go back to work, two of his health ministers have walked away.

Nelson Teich had taken office on April 17, but left the job just four weeks later. Teich had replaced Luiz Henrique Mandetta, whom Bolsanaro had dismissed.

The president called it “a consensual divorce”, but Mandetta’s sacking caused anger across Brazil – with many banging pots and pans from their windows.

So, how will President Bolsanaro’s handling of this pandemic affect the more than 200 million Brazilians? And are his decisions influenced by his friendship with US President Donald Trump?

We put those questions to one of the men who played a central role during this crisis – Brazil’s former health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Honduran health workers demand PPE after 160 test positive for Covid-19 in state-run hospital

HONDURAN President Juan Orlando Hernandez has come under fire for his disastrous handling of the global Covid-19 pandemic after 160 health workers tested positive for the virus.

The state-run Tegucigalpa University Teaching Hospital (HEU) reported earlier this week that 160 workers had been isolated after the test results, leaving the hospital short of staff when admissions due to Covid-19 are on the rise.

Honduras has more than 15,000 confirmed cases of which 1,600 have recovered. At least 426 people have died.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Suspected coronavirus outbreaks in schools almost double in last week

THE number of suspected coronavirus outbreaks in schools almost doubled in the last week, according to the latest Public Health England (PHE) figures.

In its weekly Covid-19 surveillance report, PHE found that the number of “acute respiratory outbreaks” in schools rose from 24 to 44 — 16 more outbreaks than were recorded in hospitals.

An outbreak is defined as two or more people experiencing a similar illness, which appears to be linked to a particular setting.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Social care workers dying from coronavirus at twice the rate of the population

ONS figures show women care workers are twice as likely as the general population to be killed by coronavirus — and for male workers the figures are even worse

WORKERS in the care system are dying at twice the rate of the rest of the population through coronavirus because of the government’s failings, unions warned today.

Government claims to have put a “protective ring” around the care sector early in the pandemic were exposed via a new Office for National Statistics (ONS) release today which revealed shocking death rates among care workers.

The figures show that women care workers are twice as likely as the general population to be killed by coronavirus — and for male workers the figures are even worse.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 26 June 2020:

Disabled GMB member who complained about being refused PPE reinstated after disciplinary charges

A DISABLED member of the GMB union suspended by his employer after asking for personal protective equipment (PPE) has had his disciplinary charges dropped, it emerged yesterday.

The man, who has not been named, has been told he can return to work by his bosses at outsourcing company ISS.

The refuse collector at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London’s Woolwich had requested a face mask because he feared contracting Covid-19 and passing it on to his brother, who he lives with.

American taxpayers’ money to militarism or healthcare?

This 26 June 2020 video from the United States Senate says about itself:

Let Us Reduce Our Bloated Military Budget And Invest In Communities That Need It Most

Why are we spending more on our military than the next 11 nations combined?

I have a better idea: Reduce the Pentagon budget by 10% and invest it in the fight to finally end homelessness, hunger and poverty in the richest country on Earth.

From Senator Bernie Sanders in the USA today:

At this unprecedented moment in American history — a terrible pandemic, an economic meltdown, people marching across the country to end systemic racism and police brutality, growing income and wealth inequality and an unstable president in the White House — now is the time to bring people together to fundamentally alter our national priorities and rethink the very structure of American society.

In that regard, I have been disturbed that for too long Democrats and Republicans have joined together in passing outrageously high military budgets while ignoring the needs of the poorest people in our society. If we are serious about altering our national priorities, then there is no better place to begin with than taking a hard look at the bloated, record-breaking $740 billion military budget that is coming up for a vote in the Senate next week.

Incredibly, after adjusting for inflation, we are now spending more on the military than we did during the height of the Cold War or during the wars in Vietnam and Korea.

This extraordinary level of military spending comes at a time when the Department of Defense is the only agency of our federal government that has not been able to pass an independent audit, when defense contractors are making enormous profits while paying their CEOs exorbitant compensation packages, and when the so-called “War on Terror” will end up costing us some $6 trillion.

I believe this is a moment in history when it would be a good idea for all of my colleagues, and the American people, to remember what former Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1953:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

What Eisenhower said was true 67 years ago, and it is true today.

Will we be a nation that spends more money on nuclear weapons, or will we be one that invests in jobs, affordable housing, health care and childcare for those who need it most?

In order to begin the process of transforming our national priorities, I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to reduce the military budget by 10 percent and use the $74 billion in savings to invest in distressed communities around the country that are experiencing extreme poverty, mass incarceration, deindustrialization and decades of neglect.

Next week, the Senate will begin consideration of this legislation which amounts to more than half of the discretionary spending of the U.S. government. That is why it is vitally important for you to join me now in supporting this amendment.

Let us send a powerful message to Mitch McConnell and the Democratic leadership. We need to change national priorities and we need to do it now!

Add your name to say you support a 10 percent cut in annual Pentagon spending to allow for investments in jobs, education, health care and poverty reduction in America’s most vulnerable communities.

Here is what the amendment would do:

    • Create jobs by building affordable housing, schools, childcare centers, community health centers, public hospitals, libraries, sustainable energy projects, and clean drinking water facilities.
    • Improve education by hiring more public school teachers to reduce class sizes, ensuring teachers receive adequate pay, providing nutritious meals to children and parents, and offering free tuition for public colleges, universities, and trade schools.
    • Make housing more affordable by providing rental assistance and bringing an end to homelessness.

    These funds would not be used for police departments, prisons or jails. It is time to invest in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.

    If this horrific coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it is that national security involves a lot more than bombs, missiles, tanks, submarines, nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction. National security also means doing all we can to improve the lives of the American people, many of whom have been abandoned by our government for decades.

    In my view, the time is long overdue for us to take a hard look not only at the size of the Pentagon budget, but at the incredible amount of waste, fraud, and financial mismanagement that has taken place at the Department of Defense for many, many years.

    Let’s be clear: About half of the Pentagon’s budget goes directly into the hands of private contractors, not our troops. Those same contractors have paid millions in fines and settlements for misconduct, all while making huge profits off of their government contracts.

    Furthermore, Congress has appropriated so much money for the Department of Defense that the Pentagon literally does not know what to do with it. According to the Government Accountability Office, between 2013 and 2018 the Pentagon returned more than $80 billion of its funds back to the Treasury.

    We cannot keep providing excessive funds to the Pentagon when millions of children in this country are going hungry and 140 million Americans struggle to pay for the basic necessities of life without worrying about going broke.

    Now is the time for us to truly focus on what we value as a society and to fundamentally transform our national priorities.

    Cutting the military budget by 10 percent and investing that money into communities across the country is a modest way to begin that process. That is why I am asking you directly:

    Please add your name: Say you support my amendment to reduce the Pentagon budget by 10 percent and invest that money in health care, education, and housing.

    We must never stop fighting for the kind of country we know we can become. Thank you for adding your name to our petition today.

    In solidarity,

    Bernie Sanders