United States soldiers spread COVID-19 in Ireland

This 17 April 2020 video says about itself:

Almost a thousand soldiers in US military infected with Coronavirus. US Army chief said that soldiers would continue to train …General James McConville said that the army needs to be ready to go to war. General James McConville, Chief of Staff of US Army, said, “As this morning, we’ve had 992 soldiers from all three components test positive for the COVID 19 virus.”

U.S. TROOPS BLOW OFF COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS American officials have apologized to Irish leaders after U.S. military personnel ignored COVID-19 regulations when they landed at Shannon Airport late last month. The 48 service members, plus five crew members of the U.S. Navy C40A aircraft, skipped presenting required negative tests for COVID-19 when they landed. They then broke isolation during the night, leaving their Limerick hotel to buy food. [HuffPost]

US military troops travelling into Shannon breached Covid-19 rules. ‘Error on the US side’ meant troops failed to show negative PCR test before Limerick stay: here.

Teachers against teaching in COVID-infected schools

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

I’m 16 and went to the hospital twice for COVID-19. This is what it’s like l GMA Digital

Kaydee Asher filmed her experience with COVID-19. She said if it happened to her, it could happen to you.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain, Sunday, January 24, 2021:

Majority of black teachers do not feel employers have addressed their Covid-19 risks, polls find

… Over half of the 500 BME teachers polled at the union’s black teachers consultation conference said that they are very worried about their safety on the full reopening of their workplace. A further 16 per cent say they do not feel at all safe.

Over a quarter said they feel racism has got worse in their workplace since the pandemic started.

Britain: School workers are up to seven times more likely to contract Covid-19: here.

Bosses sabotage working at home during pandemic

This 19 March 2020 video is called “Coronavirus Capitalism”: Naomi Klein’s Case for Transformative Change Amid Coronavirus Pandemic.

Translated from Dutch daily De Volkskrant, 22 January 2020:

Forcibly going to the office; we are sitting together in a small space, sneezing, coughing and touching everything

Working at home? Many bosses turn out to hate that. ‘Managers say: now, worrying about coronavirus should be finished

30% of the office slaves still working in offices

That is about white-collar and pink-collar workers. It is even worse for blue-collar workers in factories, construction, etc.

Trump coup attempt spread COVID-19

This 12 January 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, of Seattle, says she has tested positive for COVID-19 after being locked down in a crowded room with other lawmakers during the siege on the U.S. Capitol last week.

JAYAPAL TESTS POSITIVE AFTER RIOT LOCKDOWN Less than a week after a Trump-fueled mob attacked the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to hide in a secured room, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Democrat-Wash.) has tested positive for COVID-19. She tweeted: “I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.” [HuffPost]

Don’t laugh at Marjorie Taylor Greene — her Jewish constituents must live with her hate: here.

TRUMP MOB’S MEN: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN A HuffPost investigation found that multiple men arrested for the U.S. Capitol insurrection have restraining orders against them over domestic violence accusations. Others have faced charges and served prison time for sexual assault. Experts have linked extremism to violent misogyny in recent years, especially in the wake of mass shootings in which the perpetrators had a history of violence against women. [HuffPost]

Trump’s coup d’etat attempt in the USA

This 7 January 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Independent photojournalist Jon Farina shot this INCREDIBLE footage from January 6th, 2020 when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Far-right protesters storm U.S. Capitol amid antisemitic claims over election: here.

4 PEOPLE DIED DURING ASSAULT ON CAPITOL Four people died as Trump supporters violently occupied the U.S. Capitol. Washington Police Chief Robert Contee said the dead included a woman shot by U.S. Capitol Police, and three others who died in “medical emergencies.” Law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the Capitol building. [AP]

TRUMP RIOTERS BRING VIOLENCE ACROSS COUNTRY Trump-supporting protesters and rioters gathered at state capitols across the country, inspired by violent scenes at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. In Arizona, members of a pro-Trump group cracked the window of a museum at the state Capitol, reportedly while shouting for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to exit the building. [HuffPost]

TRUMP’S MOVES RIGHT OUT OF THE FASCIST PLAYBOOK As thousands of Trump’s fanatical supporters smashed windows and stormed the U.S. Capitol, realizing a plot that was apparently brewing for days, at least one historian was not surprised in the least. “I hate it when I’m right,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University professor and fascism expert who has been warning that Trump would resort to force rather than leave office peacefully. [HuffPost]

‘We knew this day was coming’: Jews react to storming of Capitol building: here.

Antisemitic conspiracies flew before extremists breached U.S. Capitol.

Republican senator deletes ad that made Jewish opponent’s nose bigger.

Revisiting the top 10 antisemitic moments of Trump’s presidency: here.

Trump has nurtured far-right extremism at every turn. This is his fault: here.

A guide to the extremists and hate groups that invaded the Capitol: here.

Man wearing ‘Camp Auschwitz’ shirt among mob who stormed U.S. Capitol

‘It was always going to end this way:’ Capitol coup is work of one man: here.

Polarisation in punk music, Siouxsie to Crass

This music video from England says about itself:

Siouxsie and the Banshees – Happy House (LYRICS ON SCREEN) 📺

This song is by Siouxsie and the Banshees and appears on the album Kaleidoscope (1980).

The lyrics of Happy House are sarcastic. as their author Siouxsie explained. They are about a house which is happy on the surface, but is not that happy below the surface.

These lyrics are an example of polarisation. Polarisation in a sense which is close to the original meaning of the word in physical science, of polarisation of light in a prism, different from how polarisation is often mentioned now in political discussions.

This 2013 video is called Prisms in Physics: Physics & Science Lessons.

Superficially, rays of light are white. However, when you pass those rays through a prism, they turns out to be not white, but various colours from red at one extreme to violet at the other extreme (the ultraviolet and infrared sides of light are not visible to the human eye).

When, about 1970, the word polarisation started to be used in Dutch politics, it was close to this physics meaning. To show that something that is superficially homogenous is in fact heterogeneous. One might expect the Dutch communist party using the word to denote that while superficially the interests of capitalists and workers were the same, in fact they were divergent. But not the communists used the word polarisation. It was liberal centre-left (more centrist than left) political party D66. Then, about half of Dutch MPs were in parties based on religion: a big Roman Catholic party and two big Protestant parties. D66 argued that in these three parties, common religion superficially united all party supporters. But under the surface, conservative and progressive tendencies within these parties diverged. By polarisation, subjecting the Christian parties to research by a prism, the superficial party unity might end.

Today, the word polarisation is often used in politics to denote artificially causing divisions and hatred. While originally, it is about showing that in fact there are divisions which already existed before the ‘prism’ showed them. Showing there is far less unity than there seems to be when one looks superficially.

In what way do punk song lyrics differ from other lyrics?

That ‘physical science-like’ definition of polarisation is evident in many punk music lyrics. Contrary to images of perfection and harmony, projected by television advertisements, politicians or religious leaders, these punk lyrics may confront such images with harsher realities.

According to research in Britain, in punk lyrics love and sex are mentioned three times less than in mainstream popular music. And political and social issues six times as much.

There is often polarisation in lyrics about political and social issues. I will show that in songs by various bands: the Ramones from the USA, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the UK Subs and Crass from Britain, and Cheap ‘n’ Nasty from the Netherlands. Bands representing often very different strands of where the worldwide post-1975 punk explosion went. But still, having in common writing realistic lyrics exposing real problems hiding under superficial harmony. What did not happen so often in pre-1977 mainstream popular music and ‘hippie’ lyrics, often depicting a seemingly harmonious world.

This 1977 live music video is the Ramones – We’re A Happy Family.

The lyrics describe a United States family which supposedly has every political and religious establishment approved reason to be happy: ‘I’m friends with the president, I’m friends with the pope‘. But under the surface, the officially straight father is gay, and the family depends financially on drug deals. Admitting both in public is anathema to the establishment. Polarisation lyrics.

This music video shows the 1979 song Icon by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Its lyrics are about religious leaders demanding that people give up their own eyes which can see reality for artificial eyes which whitewash reality. Artificial eyes sent by privileged people who profit financially (‘the guilt is golden’) from instilling feelings of guilt in common people.

This music video is called Siouxsie And The Banshees – Regal Zone (1981) Köln, Germany.

What Icon says about religious authorities, the song Regal zone says about political authorities. Especially royals, similar to the present crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Princes claim to act ‘for the good of the land’, while oppressing and torturing people.

This music video is the 1978 Crass song Angels.

The lyrics say:

The angels are on T.V. tonight, grey puke, celluloid shit.

The army have sent a mission to Ireland, just to see to it.

Kojac is on the streets again, grey puke, fucking shit.

The army say they seek peace in Ireland and they’ll see to it.

The first and third lines of this first verse are about fictional crime series on TV, Charlie’s Angels and Kojak, in which invariably the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

The second and fourth lines are about the reality of the British army fighting in Ireland, with human rights violations as consequences.

This 2010 video from the UK about the USA is called UK Subs – New York State Police.

The UK Subs sing about a police force which is supposedly always on the good side, stopping murderers, rapists etc. But which in reality brutalises a band on their way to a concert, making the USA look like a police state.

This music video is called Cheap ‘n’ Nasty – Covergirl (Full EP) 1981.

Now, to Dutch band Cheap ‘n’ Nasty. A band which knows the UK Subs, the Banshees, Crass and the Ramones from doing fanzine interviews with them and/or playing with them.

But which nevertheless differs from all of them. However, they do not differ so much that there is no punky polarisation in the songs on their Covergirl EP; written by bass player/female lead vocalist Terry. Let us look at the title track, Covergirl. And to No more violence on TV, the last track on the EP.

Covergirl says that beneath the seemingly glamorous lives of photo models there is just emptiness. Male bosses rule over a world of superficiality, which figuratively makes the cover girls ‘sick’. At the time of writing, the author did not yet think of literal sickness, of anorexia problems which later became a major controversy in fashion.

And No more violence on TV says that religious hypocrites try to get television to depict the world as a world without violence. While both Christian and other religious writings, eg from ancient Greece, often mention violence. And non-realistic TV may make children bored, resulting in them attacking each other violently.

Heroes and villains of 2020

This 22 July 2021 video says about itself:

Angry NHS nurse berates Boris Johnson for not giving nurses and cleaners a pay rise | LBC

This angry NHS nurse didn’t hold back in her criticism of Boris Johnson for denying nurses and cleaners a pay rise, stating the sooner “Keir Starmer takes over the better.”

“I am so personally offended that this man has come out and hoodwinked us,” Kylie told Shelagh Fogarty, who was furious at the news that nurses and other workers will miss out on the 3.1% pay rise for some public sector workers.

She pointed out that the pay rise received two years ago doesn’t pay for the “gruelling job” workers have done in the last six months.

The Tories didn’t get us out of Covid, the NHS did and nurses are the backbone of that service and I am so disgraced at him to say that we don’t deserve a pay rise.”

Shelagh argued that “there must be something coming” for workers that were left out of the pay rise, as she couldn’t believe that nurses would be left out.

“They have us over a moral barrel because they know we won’t walk out,” the caller said.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 1 January 2020:

The Morning Star‘s Heroes & Villains of 2020


Key workers

NHS workers at Royal Liverpool University Hospital in July

THE hypocrisy of ministers who stood and clapped during the first lockdown but have gone on to deny public-sector workers the pay rise they need and deserve will not be forgotten, but neither will the lesson of the lockdown itself: that it is the nurses, care workers, cleaners, transport workers, postal and comms workers, refuse workers, couriers, shop staff and others whose labour keeps our country running, even when it is often the worst paid.

The case for a new deal for workers has never been stronger.

Marcus Rashford

Any heroes list for 2020 which leaves out Marcus Rashford is incomplete.

His contribution off the football pitch saw the Manchester United and England striker force Boris Johnson and his cronies to do the right thing and keep providing meals for vulnerable kids, forcing the government into an embarrassing U-turn.

That this came at a time when MP Matt Hancock was calling on footballers to give up their wages to help the NHS further highlighted what an embarrassment the Conservative party really is — calling out players, often from working-class backgrounds, but being too afraid to do the same for the tax cheats who donate millions to the party.

Rashford has continued the campaign to help young children across Britain, not letting the government off the hook when it comes to helping those less fortunate and being the voice for millions of children who needed a helping hand in 2020.

Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), Bolivia

Last winter democracy was crushed in Bolivia, with full support from the United States and its allies, including the British government.

All the classic coup ingredients were rolled out: right-wing street protests claiming to represent the will of the people, a baseless Organisation of American States report casting doubt on the overwhelming re-election of MAS leader Evo Morales followed by the army giving the elected president his marching orders and appointing a successor.

The security forces massacred protesters against the coup, Morales fled for his life, and MAS supporters faced a year of persecution.

Yet they organised across the country, repeatedly rallied enormous crowds demanding new elections and forced the coup government to concede them — resulting in MAS’s emphatic re-election under Luis Arce and Morales’s triumphant return.

A ray of light in a bleak year, the MAS win was a victory for democracy and self-determination against imperialism.

The civil fleet

Almost 1,000 people were intercepted by the EU-supported Libyan coastguard within the first two weeks of 2020.

By year’s end, at least 11,891 people have been returned, 323 drowned and 417 are still missing.

Since the EU pulled its own ships from the Mediterranean in 2019, the only actors able to prevent refugees drowning or being returned to Libya’s notorious migrant detention centres were a collection of NGO rescue ships — often referred to as the civil fleet.

Having spent most of 2019 drafting laws to stop NGO rescuers, the Italian and Maltese governments began 2020 in a truce with the civil fleet.

The outbreak of Covid-19 in Europe changed that.

In March, Rome and Valletta announced their ports were closed to refugees.

Despite being continually ignored, demonised and detained for months on end by the European authorities, the Aita Mari, Ocean Viking, Sea Watch 3 and 4, Alan Kurdi, Mare Juno, Open Arms, and Louise Michel rescue ships managed to save thousands of lives this year.

Without the activist network Alarm Phone, the distress calls of thousands of people who attempted or were forced to cross the Mediterranean and Aegean seas this year would have gone unheard.

India’s farmers and the All-India Kisan Sabha

In six years in office, Narendra Modi has undermined the foundations of the secular Indian republic that was won over decades of struggle against British rule, institutionalising the persecution of Muslims with the Citizenship Amendment Act, trampling over the rights of states and presiding over the effective criminalisation of inter-faith marriage, while RSS thugs mete out terror and violence to his opponents.

Yet resistance is growing, with the country witnessing the biggest general strike in history on November 26 and now a farmer’s movement blockading New Delhi and staging rallies tens of thousands strong in every state against his bid to marketise Indian agriculture, drop price controls and allow transnational corporations to move in.

Neither police violence nor government bribes have induced the farmers’ movement to back down. All power to them.

Black Lives Matter

On May 25 footage of white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd until he died exploded onto screens around the world.

By June the outraged response of millions had reached such a size they were arguably the largest movement in US history.

It’s hard to say yet what the political legacy of this unprecedented uprising will be: with 14,000 arrested in 49 cities the protests are ongoing.

But with resistance to batons, tear gas and rubber bullets now in the muscle memory of so much of the US working class, the idea that it will accept brutal inequality without a fight any longer is unthinkable.


Matt Hancock & Priti Patel

It’s hard to pick a Tory minister whose villainy stands out in the parcel of rogues that is the British government.

Rishi Sunak, who reportedly convinced the PM to ignore scientific advice and delay a second lockdown, leading to the virus’s renewed spread?

Gavin “we’re a much better country than any of them” Williamson, who is placing us all at risk with his refusal to shift schools to remote learning?

But we’ve picked two who, in different ways, embody the venality and brutality of our rulers.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has used a health crisis to enrich Tory cronies and cynical privateers, handing contracts to those totally unfit to deliver them and ensuring that Britain has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe and rising.

And Priti Patel, whose vow to deport a thousand refugees by the end of 2020 shows that the cruel and racist “hostile environment” is worsening. Each of them demonstrates the need to oust the Tories, day in, day out.

Dido Harding

If the heroic sacrifices of our key workers have been on display this year, so has the staggering corruption of the incompetent, sleazy elite who run Britain.

Who better represents it than Dido Harding, the disgraced TalkTalk chief exec whose watch saw children hack the personal data of 157,000 customers and Jockey Club board member who let the Cheltenham Gold Cup proceed as a virus super-spreader in spring, and whose connexions — Oxford with Cameron, hubby a Tory MP — saw her handed control of our test-and-trace system and then the National Institute for Health Protection, replacing Public Health England (which her husband had long campaigned to be abolished).

Harding isn’t the only beneficiary of Tory cronyism — vaccine chief Kate Bingham and even Matt Hancock’s pub landlord have enjoyed the largesse of their friends in government.

But she will forever be associated with the bungled, privatised test-and-trace disaster that stopped us suppressing the virus.

David Evans

We’ve learned a lot about the nastier characters in the Labour hierarchy this year, not least through the leaked report that exposed in devastating detail how Labour HQ staff hostile to Jeremy Corbyn abused the membership, stymied the party’s disciplinary process and then blamed the leadership for it and sabotaged its efforts in the 2017 election.

New general secretary David Evans is a fitting successor to that crew, presiding over a crackdown on discussion and debate and sweeping suspensions and expulsions of members in a transparent bid to crush the socialist left and prevent anything like the Corbyn movement re-emerging.

The battle for democracy in the Labour Party should matter to all socialists, members or not — its authoritarian new order is bad news for the entire movement.

Mike Pompeo

Donald Trump may be making an exit, albeit in spectacularly ungraceful fashion, but his Secretary of State walks the Earth sowing the seeds for a poisonous harvest.

A coincidence that Pompeo’s secret meeting with blood-soaked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Neom took place just before the murder of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in a bid to derail any detente between Iran and Washington? Unlikely.

Pompeo is not just shoring up Trump’s horrendous legacy, he is testing the water for a future hard-right presidency of his own.

Elon Musk

It turns out that calling his son X Æ A-12 may be the least of Tesla tycoon Elon Musk’s crimes.

As Covid ravaged California in May, he defied public health regulations to reopen his car factory in Alameda, taking the local authorities to court over their lockdown rules.

He has since relocated to Texas to avoid California’s higher taxes, a heavy burden on a man whose net worth rose from $27 billion to $155bn this year, making him second only to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in the plutocratic pecking order.

At least the people of Bolivia have shattered one of his uglier boasts — “we will coup whoever we want,” he declared following the military overthrow of Evo Morales, widely seen as linked to Western firms’ appetite for Bolivian lithium reserves vital to the electric car industry. No, you won’t, Musk.

Coronavirus pandemic disaster update

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

Fired Amazon Worker: Puke & Go Back to Work Became the Amazon Way Amid Pandemic

Independent photojournalist Jon Farina covered a protest outside Jeff Bezos’ penthouse NYC apartment on December 23rd, 2020. In this clip, fired Amazon worker Christian Smalls reveals Amazon’s awful treatment of workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vaccine doesn’t necessarily stop you spreading the virus.

DECEMBER SEES HIGHEST COVID-19 DEATH TOLL December marked the deadliest month in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic began, with more than 63,000 COVID-19 deaths recorded nationwide during the month so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. April held the previous monthly record for the highest number of COVID-19 deaths, with at least 55,000 reported. [HuffPost]

L.A. TESTING FOR DANGEROUS NEW COVID-19 VARIANT Los Angeles health officials are testing for the new coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. as COVID-19 cases skyrocket in California. “I wouldn’t be surprised that it’s already here,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease professor at UCSF School of Medicine, told ABC-7 News. The variant, which researchers have determined is approximately 56% more contagious than other strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has already jumped from Britain to several European nations. [HuffPost]

COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths worldwide reach record highs “The next 100,000 deaths are baked in,” said Biden coronavirus advisory board member Dr. Atul Gawande to CNBC.

Israel has vaccinated over 10 times more of its population than the US.

Study says Britain must vaccinate two million a week to prevent a third COVID-19 wave: here.

Dutch war crimes in Afghanistan

This 18 November 2020 video says about itself:

Australia to release report into possible Afghanistan war crimes

Australia is all set to release a long-awaited report on the allegations of misconduct and possible war crimes in Afghanistan.

The report – to be released on Thursday – sums up a four-year inquiry into the allegations against Australian special forces.

Al Jazeera’s Nicola Gage has been following the story from the Australian capital, Canberra.

Translated from Dutch daily Trouw, 23 December 2020:

A Dutch veteran tells how he shot at houses in the Afghan province of Uruzgan and possibly killed civilians. …

Hölzken says he was then ordered to shoot at two homes with a heavy machine gun … They saw people running from the second house, Hölzken was ordered to shoot at them, even though he reported seeing no weapons. According to the veteran, the Dutch were not shot at during the entire incident. “It was unjustifiable what we did that night,” he says.

Punk in Israel, research report

This 2016 music video says about itself:

Breaking The Cultural Curfew – Israeli Hardcore Punk Compilation (1995)

00:00 1. Public Domain – Working Class 00:50 2. Kuku Bloff – Bat Sheva 03:46 3. Rampage – The Thrasher in You 05:10 4. 911 Pigs – Skate 07:28 5. Useless ID – Is it Right 09:50 6. Nekhei Naatza – Concentration Camps for Northeners

On 17 December 2020, on the USA day of the Punk Scholars Conference on the Internet, Zack Furness, assistant professor Penn State University (Allegheny), read a paper on punk in Israel; on which this blog post is based. Called “Israeli Punk and Radical Politics in the 90s”. He is the editor of Punkademics (2012). He spent the better part of two decades playing in punk bands, most recently in Barons (Pittsburgh).

Punk in Israel started a bit haltingly. In the 1980s, there was the band Cholera.

This music video says about itself:

Cholera, early 80’s punk from Jerusalem, Israel. Recorded rehearsals from 1982-1983. Released in 2012 on HCB Records

There was a club, the Penguin Club in Tel Aviv, where punk records were played, but where no bands played. It still exists, but has gone commercial disco.

Avi Pitchon became active. He was a fan of British band Crass, and also as a critic of the treatment of Palestinian people.

In the 1990s, punk became a relatively big movement. Among hardcore bands, there were straight edgers Public Domain, founded in 1992.

Punks are active in objecting to military service, for animal rights and other causes.

Just before 1990, there were few anarchists in Israel. Now, most anarchists are punks. Zionist left parties hardly reacted to the punk movement. The communist party made it possible for punk bands to play in their Left Bank building.

Among children of immigrants from Russia, the punk scene is somewhat separate from other Israelis.