Bushfire smoke pollutes Australian Open tennis


This 14 January 2020 video says about itself:

Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupović has been forced to retire during her qualifying match at the Australian Open after suffering from severe coughing fits. The poor air quality in Melbourne already delayed the start of the qualifying rounds as smoke from surrounding bushfires smothered the city. Jakupović claimed the first set 6-4 against Swiss player Stefanie Vögele and looked likely to secure the second but collapsed on court before retiring,

Dutch NOS radio reports that Ms Jakupović cried as she had to give up because of the global warming bushfires. Many other players also complained about the foul air.

GERMAN engineering giant Siemens said today that it would continue infrastructure work on a coal mine in Australia despite protests from climate change activists: here.

Reunion island amateur footballers beat French professionals


This 4 January 2020 French-language video is about the unexpected 2-1 victory by the Reunion island amateur footballers of Jeunesse Sportive Saint-Pierroise in their away match against the French professional team of Niort.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

You have football cup tournament fairy tales and football cup tournament fairy tales. Far in the Indian Ocean lies the beautiful island of Reunion east of Madagascar. And there is a club called Jeunesse Sportive Saint-Pierroise, which has sensationally reached the sixteenth finals of the Coupe de France.

The largest and most important cup tournament in France is open to all clubs affiliated with the Football Association, including those from overseas. Then you talk about more than seven and a half thousand participating teams, which are initially sorted by region. …

The amateurs of Saint-Pierroise won 2-1 on Saturday against second divisionist Niort, after a journey of more than nine thousand kilometers. Nearly a hundred fans traveled with the team. …

But the most famous football player on the island is without a doubt playmaker and 38-time [French national team] international Dimitri Payet, now a teammate of [Dutch player] Kevin Strootman at Olympique de Marseille.

The performance of the overseas team Saint-Pierroise is not yet unique. In 1989, a French Guiana club managed to reach the last 32 in the cup. At the time, Le Geldar was stopped by FC Nantes of the later world champions Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly.

Saint-Pierroise will hear on Monday evening just after 8.15 pm who the opponents will be in the next round. It might be Bordeaux or Strootman and Payet’s Olympique Marseille – that would be something.

This map shows how far the Reunion amateur footballers had to travel to France

This 4 January 2020 French-language video shows Reunion football fans watching the game on TV and rejoicing about the victory.

Women’s football in Sudan after repression


This 13 December 2019 video says, about Sudan after the fall of the Saudi regime-supported, NATO governments-supported Bashir dictatorship:

Women’s football gains momentum in Sudan

*Sudanese female footballers have found their voice and are ready to take the sport to the next level.*

Anti-Chinese racism in Hungarian speed skating


This 22 February 2018 video shows the Hungarian men’s short track speed skating relay team, led by their coach Ms Zhang Jing, win the Olympic Winter Games final, beating China and Canada.

We already knew that in Hungary under far-right Prime Minister Orban, there is homophobia; there is racism against refugees, against Jews and against Roma.

Now, it turns out there is anti-Chinese racism as well.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

National coach of Hungarian short track leaves after insults and racism towards China

The national coach of the Hungarian short track team Zhang Jing resigned after one of her pupils had made derogatory and racist remarks about China, precisely the country where the national coach is from.

The Hungarian short-tracker Csaba Burjan, who won gold with the relay team during the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, is said to have expressed an insulting opinion of Chinese people and wrote ‘fucking China‘ in an Instagram post. The national coach reacted indignantly and shocked at those statements.

“I cannot tolerate a Hungarian skater, let alone an Olympic champion, making such racist comments about China,” Zhang said on social media. The Hungarian team still has two members who have Chinese roots, the brothers Shaoang Liu and Shaolin Liu. Their father is from China.

Zhang has been the national coach of the Hungarians since 2012 and achieved great success during her tenure. For example, under her leadership, Shaolin Liu once became world champion and four times European champion and he and his brother won silver and bronze at international championships. The Olympic gold with the relay team in Pyeongchang was the crowning glory.

Tokyo Olympics and Fukushima nuclear disaster


This 18 October 2019 South Korean TV video says about itself:

Tokyo Olympics faces difficulties with sweltering heat, Fukushima radiation

The Tokyo Olympics are less than a year away,… but the global sporting event is already being plagued by difficulties.

Tokyo’s notoriously hot and humid summer has prompted the International Olympic Committee to move the marathon to a cooler part of Japan for the safety of the participants.

Choi Jeong-yoon reports.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 24th to August 9th next year.

At that time of the year, highs in the Japanese capital can hit a sweltering 40 degrees Celsius.

During the same period this year, around 50 people died due to the intense heat and thousands were hospitalized.

In order to protect athletes from the scorching heat, the International Olympic Committee has announced plans to shift the location of the marathon and the walking races to Sapporo, Hokkaido, a cooler northern island in Japan.

Some 800 kilometers north of Tokyo, the region is, on average, five degrees Celsius cooler than the capital.

The IOC’s sudden announcement is causing headaches for the 2020 organizers as they had already scheduled tours taking in spots along the original marathon course and had been preparing to promote it worldwide.

“The plan to move those events from Tokyo to Sapporo was a bit of surprise. To be honest, we only received this news several days ago.”

There are also growing concerns about radiation.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe previously insisted the crippled Fukushima power plant was nothing to worry about when Tokyo was bidding for the Games in 2013.

However, with Typhoon Hagibis striking Fukushima, Japan’s poor management of the contaminated waste was laid bare.

Despite forecasts predicting torrential downpours, storage was not sufficient to stop an unknown number of bags containing contaminated waste from floating away and disappearing.

Local officials insist the incident will not affect the environment, but half of the bags that were retrieved were found to be empty.

Statement of IPPNW Germany regarding participation in the Olympic Games in Japan:

In July 2020, the Olympic Games will start in Japan. Young athletes from all over the world have been preparing for these games for years and millions of people are looking forward to this major event.

We at IPPNW Germany are often asked whether it is safe to travel to these Olympic Games in Japan either as a visitor or as an athlete or whether we would advise against such trips from a medical point of view. We would like to address these questions.

To begin with, there are many reasons to be critical of the Olympic Games in general: the increasing commercialization of sports, the lack of sustainability of sports venues, doping scandals, the waste of valuable resources for an event that only takes place for several weeks and corruption in the Olympic organizations to name just a few. However, every four years, the Olympic Games present a unique opportunity for many young people from all over the world to meet other athletes and to celebrate a fair sporting competition – which was the initial vision of the Olympic movement. Also, the idea of Olympic peace and mutual understanding between nations and people is an important aspect for us as a peace organization.

Fukushima…and no end in sight

Regarding the Olympic Games in Japan, another factor comes into play: the Japanese government is using the Olympic Games to deflect from the ongoing nuclear catastrophe in the Northeast of the country.

The government wants people to think that the situation in Fukushima is under control and people in the region are safe from radioactive contamination. The president of the German Olympic Sports Association, Alfons Hörmann, recently went so far as to say that “the regions close to the Olympic Games are safe from environmental disasters”.

Of course, this is an untenable assertion for a region with extremely high seismic activity. Regarding the situation around the destroyed nuclear reactors in Fukushima, the situation is far from “under control” even today. External cooling water has to be continuously circulated through the ruins of the damaged reactors. Inside, life-threatening radiation doses still prevail. Large parts of the contaminated cooling-water is still flowing into the sea or leaches into groundwater despite major efforts by the Japanese authorities to contain it. The rest of the radioactive wastewater is being stored in huge tanks on site. Their contamination with hazardous radioisotopes like Strontium-90 presents an ongoing threat to the region.

In December of 2018, data regarding thyroid tests were published. The incidence of thyroid cancer among tested children in Fukushima is 15 times higher than the Japanese average for this age bracket.

We are also seeing a distinct geographic distribution, with a significantly higher incidence of thyroid cancer in the most heavily contaminated regions.

With each storm, radioactive particles from the forests and mountains are brought back to the villages and cities – even to those previously decontaminated. International regulations stipulate that the population should not be exposed to more than one millisievert of additional radiation after a nuclear accident. In areas around Fukushima already earmarked for resettlement, the population will be exposed to radiation dosages that can range up to 20 mSv. As an organization of physicians, we have repeatedly pointed out the resulting health risks for the population of the affected regions, which we consider unacceptable.

While the nuclear catastrophe is a daily reality for the people living in the area and will be for many years to come, the situation for visitors is of course different. To answer the question of whether a trip to Japan or participation in the Olympic Games is acceptable from a medical point of view, a variety of aspects must be taken into consideration:

General information regarding radiation risks

Generally, the radiation exposure in the contaminated regions in Japan poses increased health risks. However, especially for short-term visits, these risks can be considered small – as long as individuals are not specifically sensitive to radiation. But it needs to be stressed that there is no threshold in radiation dose, below which it could be considered safe or without negative effects on health.

The individual disposition and the risk for a radiation-induced disease normally remains undetected and individuals themselves are often not aware of their sensitivity. Once a person falls sick, you can draw conclusions by working backward and may find increased radiation sensitivity (e.g. for breast cancer patients with the BRCA-1/2-mutation).

For pregnant women and small children, we generally recommend to refrain from intercontinental flights and to avoid visits to the contaminated areas in Japan to minimize individual radiation doses. Until today, there are still hot-spots, even in the decontaminated regions – places where radioactive particles from the Fukushima meltdowns have accumulated and were overlooked during the decontamination efforts or places that were recontaminated by rain, pollen flight or flooding. These hot-spots pose an ongoing risk for the residents of the region. Even in the greater Tokyo area, hot-spots were detected in the past.

It is important to know that even when radiation exposure limits are met, certain health risks cannot be ruled out. Exposure limits are derived from the politically acceptable risk of disease that the government thinks the population would be willing to accept. The question is not “At which dose can we expect health risks to occur?” but rather “Which health risks are still acceptable for society?”

Radioactivity in any dosage, however small, can trigger a disease – the higher the dose, the higher the risk. As with smoking and other cancer-inducing factors, there is no “safe” dose. Even natural background radioactivity can trigger diseases. While natural background radiation can mostly not be avoided, we recommend trying to avoid additional radiation exposure as best as possible in order to lower the individual risk of contracting radiation-induced diseases such as cancer.

We can only hope that there will be no further recontamination in Japan caused by storms, earthquakes, forest fires, flooding or technical failures at the damaged reactors, which could put the Olympic Games in Japan at risk.

How you travel

For most visitors, the flight to Japan and back will probably present the highest single radiation exposure. Depending on solar activity, length, height, and routing of the flight, the radiation dose for a flight from Europe to Japan is between 45 and 110 microsieverts (μSv) per flight – about the same dose you are exposed to during a normal chest x-ray. The exact radiation dose resulting from a flight can be calculated on the website of Munich Helmholtz-Institute.

Where you travel

While large parts of Japan have remained relatively unaffected by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, there are still radiation hot-spots in the prefectures of Fukushima, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Miyagi and Chiba. Inhalation or ingestion of radioactive particles with food or water poses a considerable health risk. It is not sufficient to rely on officially published dose measurements, as even previously decontaminated areas can always become recontaminated with radioactive particles from the forests and mountains around Fukushima through pollen, rains, forest fires or storms.

Some areas around Fukushima remain closed to the public due to elevated radiation levels, others have been reopened after decontamination measures were performed. In metropolitan areas, like in Fukushima City, most monitoring posts record radiation levels below 0.2 microsieverts per hour (0.2 μSv/h). This corresponds to common background values registered in other parts of the world. Background radiation is a continuous source of radiation that depends largely on the local geographical soil composition. Background radiation contributes to numerous cancers and cardiovascular diseases worldwide. Unlike background radiation, which can hardly be avoided, manmade radiation stemming from nuclear weapons testing or the nuclear industry can be confronted politically. A regularly updated map of the official monitoring post in the prefecture can be found (in Japanese) on line.

However, these official measurements need to be treated with caution since the authorities have a vested interest in systematically downplaying radiation effects and ambient dose levels. While officially published dose levels can be low, just a few meters away from the monitoring post you can find local hot-spots due to contaminated foliage, dust or pollen.

A discussion regarding the actual radiation levels in Japan is difficult since the Japanese government has forfeited a lot of trust through questionable methods, for example by installing shielding lead batteries in the measuring instruments or positioning the monitoring posts in blind spots and other protected areas. Independent monitoring posts installed by independent citizen groups often register much higher values than the official posts.

Unfortunately, for symbolic as well as political reasons, sport arenas in Fukushima were selected to hold softball and baseball competitions during the Olympic Games 2020. Even the symbolic first competitions of the Olympics are to be held here. At the same time, the competition calendar was arranged in a way to ensure that no western teams would compete here. This may sound cynical, but it seems that the organizers expected problems regarding acceptance of these sensitive venues. Consequently, European visitors and athletes will most likely not have to travel to Fukushima in order to compete or watch their team.

If people do plan to travel to Fukushima, they should avoid trips to the mountains or forests and also avoid close contact with dust, dirt, foliage, or other possibly contaminated substances. In the event of high pollen flight, forest fires or natural disasters such as earthquakes, flooding or storms, they should exercise caution. FFP-breathing masks, as well as staying indoors, can offer relative protection against inhalation of radioactive particles. Visitors should make sure to pay attention to and follow the instructions issued by local authorities.

Japan is a country with high seismic activity and earthquakes are a common occurrence, as are forest fires in the summer and storms at any time of the year. To familiarize foreign visitors with the right behavior during emergencies, the Japanese tourism agency has established a website as well as a mobile app called “Safety Tips” with up-to-date information and safety advice.

What you eat

The official dose limits for radioactivity in food in Japan are currently stricter than those in the European Union. This means that contaminated foodstuff not fit for sale on the Japanese markets could very well be sold in Europe without any special labeling or warnings. The dose limit for general foodstuff Japan is 500 Becquerel (Bq) per kilogram, while in the EU it is 600 Bq/kg. One example of this difference: blueberry jam sold in the EU had to be taken off the shelves in Japan due to excessive cesium levels (originating from the Chernobyl disaster). More information can be found here.

Food controls in Japan are rather meticulous, but naturally, it can never be guaranteed that no contaminated foodstuff reaches the shelf. The individual measurement data can be seen at www.new-fukushima.jp, but it cannot be excluded that conspicuous values were prefiltered and do not show up in the statistics. At best, this website can help understand which foodstuffs are regularly tested in Japan.

We strongly recommend avoiding products bought directly from farmers in the contaminated regions, since they are often not monitored. Also, dubious “solidarity events” specifically offering foodstuffs from the contaminated regions should be avoided. Apart from these exceptions, it can be assumed that foodstuff declared safe for sale in Japan complies with high safety standards.

Summary note

In summary, it can be said that the health risk for visitors and athletes participating in the Olympics for short periods of time is small – as long as there is no specific individual sensitivity to radiation. Pregnant women and small children should avoid long-distance flights and trips to Fukushima to protect themselves against radiation.

At the same time, we should all be aware of the continuing problems facing the population in the radioactively contaminated regions in the Northeast of Japan, who has to live with the ongoing nuclear catastrophe on a daily basis.

The Olympic Games should not be abused to distract from their fate but rather to make sure their needs, worries, and demands are properly addressed. The German affiliate of IPPNW is trying to do just that with its campaign “Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics”.

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), was founded in 1980 and won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. It is a non-partisan federation of national medical groups in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

This 9 March 2019 AFP video says about itself:

Fukushima evacuees resist return as Olympics near

With Japan keen to flaunt Tokyo 2020 as the “Reconstruction Olympics”, people who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster are being urged to return home but not everyone is eager to go.

IPPNW has launched a “Nuclear-Free Olympic Games 2020” campaign to call for a worldwide phase-out of nuclear power and to sound the alarm about the Japanese government’s efforts to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to “normalize” the aftermath of the still on-going Fukushima nuclear accident. Here, four members of IPPNW Europe outline the campaign and the reasoning behind it.

By Annette Bänsch-Richter-Hansen, Jörg Schmid, Henrik Paulitz and Alex Rosen:

In 2020, Japan is inviting athletes from around the world to take part in the Tokyo Olympic Games. We are hoping for the games to be fair and peaceful. At the same time, we are worried about plans to host baseball and softball competitions in Fukushima City, just 50 km away from the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. It was here, in 2011, that multiple nuclear meltdowns took place, spreading radioactivity across Japan and the Pacific Ocean – a catastrophe comparable only to the nuclear meltdown of Chernobyl.

The ecological and social consequences of that catastrophe can be seen everywhere in the country: whole families uprooted from their ancestral homes, deserted evacuation zones, hundreds of thousands of bags of irradiated soil dumped all over the country, contaminated forests, rivers and lakes.

Normality has not returned to Japan. The reactors continue to be a radiation hazard as further catastrophes could occur at any time. Every day adds more radioactive contamination to the ocean, air and soil. Enormous amounts of radioactive waste are stored on the premises of the power plant in the open air. Should there be another earthquake, these would pose a grave danger to the population and the environment.

The nuclear catastrophe continues today. On the occasion of the Olympic Games 2020, we are planning an international campaign. Our concern is that athletes and visitors to the games could be harmed by the radioactive contamination in the region, especially those people more vulnerable to radiation, children and pregnant women.

According to official Japanese government estimates, the Olympic Games will cost more than the equivalent of 12 billion Euros. At the same time, the Japanese government is threatening to cut support to all evacuees who are unwilling to return to the region. International regulations limit the permitted dose for the general public of additional radiation following a nuclear accident to 1 mSv per year.

In areas where evacuation orders were recently lifted, the returning population will be exposed to levels up to 20 mSv per year. Even places that have undergone extensive decontamination efforts could be recontaminated at any time by unfavourable weather conditions, as mountains and forests serve as a continuous depot for radioactive particles.

Our campaign will focus on educating the public about the dangers of the nuclear industry. We will explain what health threats the Japanese population was and is exposed to today. Even during normal operations, nuclear power plants pose a threat to public health – especially to infants and unborn children. There is still no safe permanent depository site for the toxic inheritance of the nuclear industry anywhere on earth, that is a fact.

We plan to use the media attention generated by the Olympic Games to support Japanese initiatives calling for a nuclear phase-out and to promote a worldwide energy revolution: away from fossil and nuclear fuels and towards renewable energy generation.

We need to raise awareness of the involvement of political representatives around the world in the military-industrial complex. We denounce the attempt of the Japanese government to pretend that normality has returned to the contaminated regions of Japan. We call on all organizations to join our network and help us put together a steering group to coordinate this campaign. The Olympic Games are less than a year away– now is still time to get organized.

Racism in Ukrainian football, victim punished


This 13 June 2019 video about a Brazilian footballer, now playing in Ukraine, is called Taison Freda 2019 ● Ultimate Playmaking, Passes, Skills & Goals.

There is quite often bigotry and violence in Ukraine. Against Jews, against Roma, against LGBTQ people … And quite often, perpetrators are not punished, but get taxpayer-paid cushy jobs, like special adviser to the Minister of War ‘Defence’.

Now, it is against African Brazilian football players.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Soccer player of Shakhtar Donetsk stands up against racism and gets red card

A week after the racist incident against Mario Balotelli in Italy, the football grounds were hit again this weekend. This time in Ukraine. After the top match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Kyiv (1-0), it was not about the match at all, but about the bizarre scenes in the last fifteen minutes.

Extreme right Dinamo Kyiv hooligans are nationalist, bringing Ukrainian flags to games. They participated in 2014 in setting a trade union building in Odessa on fire, killing 42 people inside.

The 31-year-old Taison Barcellos Freda, a player of Shakhtar, was bullied racistically by the supporters of the away team during the important game and had completely enough of that in the final phase.

Out of frustration, he raised his middle finger and kicked the ball towards the Dinamo supporters. To his own disbelief, Taison then saw the referee draw the red card for that action.

The Brazilian midfielder left the field in tears and his teammate Dentinho couldn’t stop himself from crying either. “My tears were of indignation, rejection, and helplessness,” Taison said on his Instagram account after the game. “I will continue to fight and keep my head up. Football needs more respect.”

Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese trainer, Luis Castro, skipped the traditional press conference after the game, but made a statement about the issue shortly thereafter. “Expressions of racism are unacceptable. It is a shame for everyone, we have to fight against racism every day, every minute and every second.”

It is not the first time that Dinamo Kyiv has been discredited due to racism. In 2015, four black Dinamo fans were attacked by their own fellow supporters.

This was followed by a campaign by the club to combat racism. The sponsor name disappeared from the shirt and the text “Together against racism” was added instead. They played with that until the end of 2015.

But the campaign seems to have paid off. In fact, Dinamo supporters last Sunday mocked the campaign of their own club. Stickers appeared in the stadium with the text ‘Like to racism’. …

On Twitter, the world football federation FIFA and the European football federation UEFA are called upon to make themselves heard, but so far the football associations have been silent.

Meanwhile, the social media are also full of support for Taison. His compatriots Vinícius Junior and Neymar support the Brazilian and ask for respect in football.

In Italian football, racism on the fields has been a major problem for a long time. Apart from Balotelli, who wanted to leave the field last week after jungle noises from the stands in the duel with Hellas Verona, Romelu Lukaku also had to deal with racist acts by supporters.

See also here.

Trump booed at baseball, establishment hates that


This 28 October 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Lock him up‘: Trump greeted with boos at World Series

Donald Trump was booed loudly when he was shown on the video screens in the Nationals Park stadium where he attended game five of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Trump left the game with one inning to go.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Trump’s booing at the World Series makes Democrats and the media nervous

31 October 2019

Donald Trump was loudly booed Sunday when he was introduced to the crowd during the fifth game of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Video footage shows many in the crowd of 41,000 standing up and jeering the president. According to the Washington Post, the noise level hit “almost 100 decibels. Chants of ’Lock him up’ and ‘Impeach Trump’ then broke out.” Signs and a banner calling for his impeachment were later displayed.

Determining how much of a cross-section of the American population the Washington crowd represented is a futile—and unnecessary—endeavor. Trump received only 4 percent of the vote in the District of Columbia in 2016, but no doubt many of the attendees reside in suburbs and outlying districts.

In any event, there is nothing astonishing about Trump’s reception on Sunday. The current president, due to his criminality, brutality and fascistic ravings and policies, is one of the most widely despised political leaders in American history. Generally, Trump, like most authoritarian or would-be authoritarian figures, strongly prefers to appear only in thoroughly vetted or politically secured venues. ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers pointed out on Twitter that this was the first DC sports event for Trump and “a rare public appearance for him at a place in DC that is a) not the White House b) not a federal building c) not owned by him”. After this mortifying experience, the president is not likely to show his face again in an unvetted public place any time soon.

In the end, however, like many other unprecedented or startling events occurring in the US at present, the World Series incident was not truly or simply “about Trump”. In fact, virtually the entire American political, media and corporate establishment is wildly unpopular. The grotesque social inequality, mass destruction of decent jobs and pensions, calamitous results of health care and education for profit, decades of neocolonial war and bleak prospects for tens of millions of young people have combined to undermine belief and confidence in the capitalist system and its political front men.

It was this latter element, the pervasive popular disaffection and the danger it signifies, that caught the attention of and seriously troubled certain politicians and commentators in the wake of the jeering and heckling in Washington. For such individuals, the sight of large numbers of people on their feet training their anger directly at the top political official in the country clearly conjured up scenes of mass action that frightened them. In other words, although Sunday night’s event was not an act of “open rebellion” by any stretch of the imagination, the “overreaction” to it by the more politically sensitive was a correct anticipation of what they know must be coming.

The Democratic Party has been carrying out a hysterical, filthy, right-wing campaign against Trump, claiming that Russian “interference” in the 2016 election propelled him into the White House, arguing that his policies in the Middle East endanger America’s “national security” and enlisting the CIA and sections of the Pentagon to help oust him from office. All of this has been aimed at preempting a genuinely popular movement against Trump, a movement that would inevitably raise social issues and social demands, including the burning questions of immigration, jobs, democratic rights and war.

The Democrats’ impeachment effort has had the most carefully circumscribed and fraudulent aims because nothing terrifies them more than the prospect of a movement breaking away from their control, a social tidal wave from which they themselves would not escape. In Sunday night’s incident they saw the potential of their worst nightmare coming true.

The first time a US president was jeered at a World Series game is worth recalling. It happened to Republican Herbert Hoover, in the midst of the Great Depression, when he showed up in Philadelphia at Game 3 of the 1931 World Series between the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Writing in the New York World-Telegram, Joe Williams described the scene: “Someone boos. Or it may be a whole section which surrenders to this spontaneous, angry impulse. In any event, the boos rise from the stands and break with unmistakable vehemence around your ears. They grow in volume and pretty soon it seems almost everybody in the park is booing.

“They are booing the President of the United States…

“This must be the first time a President ever has been booed in public, and at a ball game of all places. There is something about a ball game that is supposed to make everybody kin and it’s a high honor to sit in on a ball game where the President becomes a fan, just as you and I.”

The event was correctly seen to have a certain symbolism, occurring during the championship series of “America’s national pastime”. Later, it was viewed as a portent of vast popular discontent.

This is what perturbs the Democratic and media critics of Trump’s hecklers.

The general approach of these elements was to chastise the DC crowd for their lack of “civility”, for the “disrespect” they showed the office of the presidency, etc.

Right-wing Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, the “business-friendly” state that is home to more than one million corporations, including hundreds of thousands of shell companies set up to avoid taxes, offered one of the most noxious responses.

Speaking to CNN anchor John Berman October 28, Coons commented, “I’m enough of a sort of traditionalist about our institutions that even at a time when there is a lot that our president does that I find disturbing, offensive, unconventional, I have a hard time with the idea of a—of a crowd on a globally televised sporting event chanting ‘lock him up’ about our president. I, frankly, think the office of the president deserves respect even when the actions of our president, at times, don’t.

Coons went on, “It reminds me of things that happen in countries where rule of law is unknown or unestablished and, you know, sort of whipping up public furor on both sides, I don’t think is constructive or helpful. … That’s why I think those of us in the Senate need to approach the impeachment process seriously in a measured and responsible way because our very institutions—our Constitution is at risk by these sorts of—the passions that have been unleashed by the politics of the moment.”

Responding to his many critics, Coons published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post (“‘Lock him up’? We’re better than that”) the following day. He expanded on his themes, again insisting that all opposition to Trump had to be mobilized behind the Congressional Democrats’ impeachment initiative, which has been organized around questions of foreign policy and American imperialist interests.

The Delaware Senator claimed that “in the United States, we don’t simply lock up politicians we disagree with, and we shouldn’t chant about wanting to either. If a president does commit a crime—particularly ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’—the Constitution provides us with a specific process to follow, which the House is now appropriately exploring with its impeachment inquiry.

“As citizens, we can—and should—oppose the president’s bad policies, words and behavior at every turn with all the passion we can muster. But in doing so, we shouldn’t copy his style and his tactics, which are designed with one outcome in mind: division.”

Coons worried out loud about the damage that might be done to “the institution of the presidency” and urged “everyone to remember—especially now—the difference between one president and the presidency. We’re free to criticize the former but should be careful to protect the latter.”

One of the motives for the impeachment drive is the conviction of Trump’s opponents that his lawlessness and recklessness are further discrediting, destabilizing and undermining the institutions that have underpinned bourgeois society in America for, in Coons’ words, “nearly 250 years.”

Michael Cohen, writing in the Boston Globe, noted that “the whole episode has given me a palpable feeling of apprehension about the increasingly dark place to which are politics have moved—and where they are still headed. … It’s hard to see any path forward that doesn’t lead to more enmity and greater, more intense division.”

The Week’s Damon Linker wrote, “We are a single country, a single nation, a single people. This people is deeply, rancorously, polarizingly divided at the present moment. How we might diminish our divisions and the hostility we feel for each other is an extremely important, and exceedingly difficult, question to answer.” Bloomberg opinion columnist Jonathan Bernstein argued that those chanting for Trump to be locked up were guilty of “spreading lawlessness” because “calling for your political opponents to be jailed without due process is an authoritarian strategy, even when liberals do it.”

A contributing writer at The Atlantic, Peter Wehner, observed that “it’s perhaps worth recognizing that this wasn’t a one-off, an isolated occurrence. It was a fairly innocent manifestation of a worrisome trend. We’re caught in a downward spiral of antipathy and enmity. Trump is the individual most responsible for this ugly state of affairs. But those of us who oppose him shouldn’t act in ways that unnecessarily create more hostility, more friction, and less understanding. We need to find ways to calm our passions rather than to inflame them. We need to find ways to create more temperate zones.”

CNN’s Chris Cillizza asserted that “even if giving Trump a taste of his own medicine not only makes you feel better but is also the only way to beat him, there are consequences to accepting and internalizing the lowered standards he has pushed into our public sphere.” Steven Petrow in USA Today headlined his comment, “Don’t follow the president’s lead: Chanting ‘lock him up’ isn’t OK,” and argued, “What I am strongly suggesting is: Don’t play dirty ball like Donald Trump.”

This nonsense was echoed by Jennifer Weiner in the New York Times: “If we’ve got to smear and slime and meme and mock our way to victory, who will we be after we’ve won? When does a necessary evil become just evil?”

What upsets all these people, in the final analysis, is the thought of masses of people taking matters into their hands, outside the established channels, including the “authoritative” media outlets.

On Morning Joe, NBC’s morning news and talk show, hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (daughter of the late imperialist strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski) angrily tut-tutted about the hostile reception to Trump. Scarborough absurdly repeated several times that the booing of the president was “un-American”, while his sidekick described it as “startling and sad” and “sickening”. Scarborough went on, “We are Americans, and we do not do that. We do not want the world hearing us chant—’Lock him up!’—to this president or any president.” As events unfold and popular opposition finds its voice and footing, Scarborough and others are likely to find many other opportunities for registering shock at what Americans will “do”.

The shock and surprise of the media in the face of Trump’s public humiliation is one expression of the vast social and moral gulf in the US. These people, Democrats or Republicans, are doing very well for themselves and cannot imagine popular outrage under the present conditions.

The specter of social upheaval is haunting the American ruling elite and its hangers-on. A few comments beneath articles on the World Series booing pointed in this direction. One read, “Frankly Trump is lucky that we live in a country with no experience constructing guillotines.” Another wrote: “Trump is fortunate he’s guarded. Otherwise, the populace may have reenacted the French Revolution.”

Indeed, images of the storming of the Bastille, the invasion of the Tuileries palace and the operation of the guillotine must keep America’s more thoughtful rulers up at night. And rightly so.

French writer Alphonse de Lamartine described the popular hostility to the French royal family in June 1791, after their attempt to escape the grasp of the great revolution failed and they were returned to Paris. “The crowd”, Lamartine wrote, continually increased as Louis XVI “passed along, and all the concentrated passions of the city, of the Assembly, of the press, and the clubs, raged with redoubled intensity amongst this population of the environs of Paris. Their passions were written on their faces, though their very violence kept them in check. Indignation and contempt seemed to stifle anger itself, and their insults were only muttered in low, sullen tones. The populace wore a sinister, but not a furious aspect: a thousand eyes glanced death at the royal carnages, but no voice uttered the word.

“This cold-blooded hate did not escape the notice of the king. … From time to time the more violent of the mob broke through the line, pushed aside the horses, and reaching the very door of the carriage, clambered up the steps. These men, in whom no trace of pity was visible, stared in silence upon the king, the queen, and the dauphin, seeming to meditate the very worst of crimes, and to gorge their hatred upon the humiliation of royalty. A few charges of the gendarmerie would then reestablish order for a short time, and thus the cortege proceeded, amid the clashing of sabres and the cries of the men trampled under the feet of the horses.”

Such is the fate of decadent and reactionary ruling classes and rulers.

Juli Briskman, who famously flipped off Trump’s motorcade in a viral 2017 photo, won her race for a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in Virginia. Briskman, fired from her job as a marketing executive in the photo aftermath, unseated eight-year incumbent Republican Suzanne Volpe. [HuffPost]

Whoopie Goldberg had to tell ‘The View’ audience to stop booing Trump Jr.