House Democrat: AIPAC is a hate group that weaponizes anti-Semitism

April 2nd, 2020

by JESSICA SCHULBERG

AIPAC used images of of Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) in an advertisement that claimed some members of Congress pose a “more sinister” threat to Israel than ISIS.

AIPAC suggested that certain House Democrats are pushing anti-Semitic policies and pose a “more sinister” threat to Israel than ISIS.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), an outspoken critic of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, accused the influential lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee of being a hate group that weaponizes anti-Semitism to silence dissent. 

Last month, AIPAC started running paid Facebook advertisements with pictures of McCollum, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). The ads warned that the “radicals in the Democratic Party are pushing their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel policies down the throats of the American people,” according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency. The ads included a link to a petition urging supporters to “protect our Israeli allies especially as they face threats from Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and — maybe more sinister — right here in the U.S. Congress.”

“AIPAC claims to be a bipartisan organization, but its use of hate speech actually makes it a hate group,” McCollum said in a statement on Tuesday. “By weaponizing anti-Semitism and hate to silence debate, AIPAC is taunting Democrats and mocking our core values.”

The implication that McCollum and her colleagues represent a bigger threat to Israel than ISIS “is not a call to action, it is incitement,” McCollum said. Omar and Tlaib, who are the first Muslim women elected to Congress, have faced racist threats and attacks — including from the president. “Hate speech is intentionally destructive and dehumanizing, which is why it is used as a weapon by groups with a stake in profiting from oppression,” McCollum continued.

AIPAC removed the most offensive ads and apologized on Saturday for “the inaccurate assertion that the poorly worded, inflammatory advertisement implied.” But the group reiterated its claim that a certain group of members in Congress are “deliberately working to erode the bipartisan consensus on this issue and undermine the U.S.-Israel relationship.” 

No one from AIPAC has reached out to McCollum to apologize or discuss the Facebook advertisements, McCollum spokeswoman Amanda Yanchury told HuffPost in an email. 

McCollum is currently pushing a bill in Congress that would place humanitarian conditions on America’s billions of dollars in military aid to Israel. Tlaib and Omar are among the bill’s 23 cosponsors. McCollum decided to pursue the long-shot legislative effort after reading a 2013 UNICEF report that described Israeli soldiers removing Palestinian kids from their homes in the middle of the night, blindfolding them, and taking them to an interrogation center. The kids were deprived of sleep and forced to sign confessions in a language they could not understand without guidance from a lawyer, the report found.

McCollum has long been one of the few members of Congress willing to criticize Israeli policy and stand up to AIPAC’s bullying. But her statement on Wednesday represents the strongest rebuke from a sitting member of Congress of a group that has a reputation of being untouchable on Capitol Hill. 

“There’s always this narrative that AIPAC is not an organization you can criticize or else it will cost you politically,” Omar Baddar, the deputy director of the Arab American Institute said in an interview. “McCollum is proving that you can absolutely criticize AIPAC and criticize Israel’s human rights violations and go on to have a successful career.” 

McCollum first challenged AIPAC in 2006 when a member of the group accused her of supporting terrorists because she voted against a bill AIPAC was backing. McCollum responded by banning AIPAC from her office pending a formal apology. 

At the time, McCollum’s colleagues told her she had “written her death sentence,” she told HuffPost last year. “When I came back, the whisper kind of was, ‘You can survive!’”

Huffington Post for more

Voting Rights Act: Major dates in history

April 2nd, 2020

ACLU

IMAGE/Duck Duck Go

The Voting Rights Act is a historic civil rights law that is meant to ensure that the right to vote is not denied on account of race or color.

1867
1866 Civil Rights Act of 1866 grants citizenship, but not the right to vote, to all native-born Americans.

1869
Congress passes the Fifteenth Amendment giving African American men the right to vote.

1896
Louisiana passes “grandfather clauses” to keep former slaves and their descendants from voting. As a result, registered black voters drops from 44.8% in 1896 to 4.0% four years later. Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia follow Louisiana’s lead by enacting their own grandfather clauses.

1940
Only 3% of eligible African Americans in the South are registered to vote. Jim Crow laws like literacy tests and poll taxes were meant to keep African Americans from voting.

Here is an example of real literacy test:

The State of Louisiana Literacy Test (this test is to be given to anyone who cannot prove a fifth grade education)

Do what you are told in each statement, nothing more, nothing less.Be careful as one wrong answer denotes failure of the test. You have 10 minutes to complete the test.

  1. Draw a line around the number of letter of this sentence.
  2. Draw a line under the last word of this line.
  3. Cross out the longest word of this line.
  4. Draw a line around the shortest word of this line.
  5. Circle the first, first letter of the alphabet in this line
  6. In the space below draw three circles,  one inside by (engulfed by) the other.

1964
Poll taxes are outlawed with the adoption of the 24th Amendment.

Here is an example of a real sign:

PAY YOUR POLL-TAX NOW!
Deadline January 31st
Vote! And Protect Your Rights and Privileges
Be Ready for Every Election
Local Options and Other Special Elections are in Prospect for This Year

1965
More than 500 non-violent civil rights marchers are attacked by law enforcement officers while attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand the need for African American voting rights.

1965
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law, permanently barring barriers to political participation by racial and ethnic minorities, prohibiting any election practice that denies the right to vote on account of race, and requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval for changes in their election laws before they can take effect.

1965
By the end of 1965, 250,000 new black voters are registered, one third of them by federal examiners.

1970
President Richard Nixon signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act.

Nixon: “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has opened participation in the political process.”

1972
Barbara Jordan of Houston and Andrew Young of Atlanta become the first African Americans elected to Congress from the South since Reconstruction.

1975
President Gerald Ford signed an extension of the Voting Rights Act.

1982
President Ronald Reagan signed a 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act.

1990
Due, in part, to the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, the number of black elected officials in Georgia grows to 495 in 1990 from just three prior to the VRA.

2006
Congress extended Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for an additional 25 years.

2011
Restrictions to voting passed in South Carolina, Texas and Florida are found to disproportionately impact minority voters.

2010 to Present
Since 2010 alone, the Department of Justice has had 18 Section 5 objections to voting laws in Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.

2011
A record number of restrictions to voting were introduced in state legislatures nationwide, including photo ID requirements, cuts to early voting and restrictions to voter registration. Many of these states have histories of voter discrimination and are covered under the VRA.

States requiring federal approval: New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, South Dakota, California, Alaska.

2011
Restrictions to voting passed in South Carolina, Texas and Florida are found to disproportionately impact minority voters.

2011
Florida passed a law that restricts voter registration and made cuts to early voting. The majority of African Americans in Florida rely on early voting to cast a ballot, and register to vote through community based registration.

“The more we get out to vote, the better opportunities we’ll have”

Photo of and link to a podcast interview with Denese Meteye James, who registered voters in Florida.

2011
Texas passed one of the nation’s most restrictive voter ID laws. Under the VRA, the state was required to submit the law to DOJ or the DC federal district court for approval. The court blocked the law, citing racial impact.

Court Blocks Texas Voter ID Law, Citing Racial Impact” links to a New York Times news story.

Photo reads: Must Show ID to Vote

2011
Under the VRA, the DOJ blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law, saying it discriminates against minority voters. The DC federal district court later precleared the law but only because the state agreed that an ID was not required for voting.

Link to Washington Post article “Justice Dept. rejects South Carolina voter ID law, calling it discriminatory.”

South Carolina Photo ID Law blocked

2011
South Carolina passed a restrictive voter ID law that would keep more than 180,000 African Americans from casting a ballot.

2013
The ACLU represented the NAACP’s Alabama chapter in Shelby v. Holder. In the decision, the Supreme Court crippled one of the most effective protections for the right to vote by rendering ineffective the requirement that certain jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination get pre-approval for voting changes. States have wasted no time enacting potentially discriminatory laws including Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, South Dakota, Iowa, and Indiana.

The good news is that we have the chance to fix it now. Congress can pass a new, flexible and forward-looking set of protections that work together to guarantee our right to vote — and it’s not just wishful thinking. Since 2006, Congress extended the key sections of the Voting Rights Act on four occasions in overwhelming, bipartisan votes. Once again, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have come together to work on these critical protections.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for more

What do we mean by neoliberalism?

April 2nd, 2020

by PHIL HEARSE 

In the wake of Labour’s election defeat, the Blairite Right, and its intellectual outriders, have launched a sustained campaign against the Left and socialism. ‘The leadership’, ‘sectarianism’, ‘ideological purity’, and of course ‘anti-semitism’ are standard explanations of Labour’s defeat.

Part of this is a bad-tempered Observer article[1] by economist Will Hutton, in which he claims the word ‘neoliberal’ – applied to people or ideas – is just an ‘unthinking leftist insult’.

Will Hutton, it will be remembered, was the author of a sharp attack on Thatcherism, The State We’re In, published in 1996, and subsequently a strong advocate of Blairism.[2] He now claims the Left lost its battles against the Right in the last decade:

… because at bottom it has a fatal, divisive weakness. Lack of any agreement about what being liberal Left can and should mean creates a sectarianism that unless confronted consumes it, the Left defining itself as the custodian of the ‘socialist’ flame and everyone else, in varying degrees, as a traitorous ‘neoliberal’.

Further:

The very term ‘neoliberal’ has become a catch-all to indicate contempt for any policy position or political figure the Left considers to be departing from true ‘socialism’, which in turn must be based on the subordination of capitalism to the state rather than its reform… the passions aroused created a never-ending sectarian war. Making the compromises necessary to create a governing coalition that could exercise power is not on its agenda: the Left’s struggle is all about fighting for and delivering a particular definition of socialism – or nothing.[3]

Accusing the Left of being sectarian is pretty standard stuff, but Hutton’s article begs the question of whether neoliberalism actually exists, either as an ideology or as the dominant form of actually existing capitalism.[4] Because if it does so exist, then it is reasonable to suppose that certain ideas and individuals actually embody that ideology and propose policies to implement neoliberal nostrums. Obviously.

Just in passing, we might note that there’s a whole body of writing in the Observer’s stable-mate, the Guardian, which utilises the concept of neoliberalism and calls out its consequences.[5] Indeed, Guardian columnist George Monbiot argues that it is impossible to understand the world without the concept of neoliberalism.

He points out that among wide sectors of the population the idea is unknown. He says,

Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives [neoliberalism] has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug.[6]

Links for more

Why France is hiding a cheap and tested virus cure

April 1st, 2020

by PEPE ESCOBAR

A mask-wearing French citizen in Paris. PHOTO/Facebook

The French government is arguably helping Big Pharma profit from the Covid-19 pandemic

What’s going on in the fifth largest economy in the world arguably points to a major collusion scandal in which the French government is helping Big Pharma to profit from the expansion of Covid-19. Informed French citizens are absolutely furious about it.

My initial question to a serious, unimpeachable Paris source, jurist Valerie Bugault, was about the liaisons dangereuses between Macronism and Big Pharma and especially about the mysterious “disappearance” – more likely outright theft – of all the stocks of chloroquine in possession of the French government.

Respected Professor Christian Perronne talked about the theft live in one of France’s 24/7 info channels: “The central pharmacy for the hospitals announced today that they were facing a total rupture of stocks, that they were pillaged.”

With input from another, anonymous source, it’s now possible to establish a timeline that puts in much-needed perspective the recent actions of the French government.

Let’s start with Yves Levy, who was the head of INSERM – the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research – from 2014 to 2018, when he was appointed as extraordinary state councilor for the Macron administration. Only 12 people in France have reached this status. 

Levy is married to Agnes Buzy, who until recently was minister of health under Macron. Buzy was essentially presented with an “offer you can’t refuse” by Macron’s party to leave the ministry – in the middle of the coronavirus crisis – and run for Mayor of Paris, where she was mercilessly trounced in the first round on March 16.    

Levy has a vicious running feud with Professor Didier Raoult – prolific and often-cited Marseille-based specialist in communicable diseases. Levy withheld the INSERM label from the world-renowned IHU (Hospital-University Institute) research center directed by Raoult.

In practice, in October 2019, Levy revoked the status of “foundation” of the different IHUs so he could take over their research.

Raoult was part of a clinical trial that in which hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin healed 90% of Covid-19 cases if they were tested very early. (Early, massive testing is at the heart of the successful South Korean strategy.)

Raoult is opposed to the total lockdown of sane individuals and possible carriers – which he considers “medieval,” in an anachronistic sense. He’s in favor of massive testing (which, besides South Korea, was successful in Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam) and a fast treatment with hydroxychloroquine. Only contaminated individuals should be confined.   

Chloroquine costs one euro for ten pills. And there’s the rub: Big Pharma – which, crucially, finances INSERM, and includes “national champion” Sanofi – would rather go for a way more profitable solution. Sanofi for the moment says it is “actively preparing” to produce chloroquine, but that may take “weeks,” and there’s no mention about pricing.

Asia Times Online for more

Cuba’s contribution to combatting COVID-19

April 1st, 2020

by HELEN YAFFE

COVID-19 surged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019 and by January 2020 it had hit Hubei province like a tidal wave, swirling over China and rippling out overseas. The Chinese state rolled into action to combat the spread and care for those infected. Among the 30 medicines the Chinese National Health Commission selected to fight the virus was a Cuban anti-viral drug Interferon Alpha 2b. This drug has been produced in China since 2003, by the enterprise ChangHeber, a Cuban-Chinese joint venture.

Cuban Interferon Alpha 2b has proven effective for viruses with characteristics similar to those of COVID-19. Cuban biotech specialist, Dr Luis Herrera Martinez explained that ‘its use prevents aggravation and complications in patients, reaching that stage that ultimately can result in death.’ Cuba first developed and used interferons to arrest a deadly outbreak of the dengue virus in 1981, and the experience catalysed the development of the island’s now world-leading biotech industry.

The world’s first biotechnology enterprise, Genetech, was founded in San Francisco in 1976, followed by AMGen in Los Angeles in 1980. One year later, the Biological Front, a professional interdisciplinary forum, was set up to develop the industry in Cuba. While most developing countries had little access to the new technologies (recombinant DNA, human gene therapy, biosafety), Cuban biotechnology expanded and took on an increasingly strategic role in both the public health sector and the national economic development plan. It did so despite the US blockade obstructing access to technologies, equipment, materials, finance and even knowledge exchange. Driven by public health demand, it has been characterised by the fast track from research and innovation to trials and application, as the story of Cuban interferon shows.

Interferons are ‘signalling’ proteins produced and released by cells in response to infections which alert nearby cells to heighten their anti-viral defences. They were first identified in 1957 by Jean Lindenmann and Aleck Isaacs in London. In the 1960s Ion Gresser, a US-researcher in Paris, showed that interferons stimulate lymphocytes that attack tumours in mice. In the 1970s, US oncologist Randolph Clark Lee, took up this research.

Canadian Dimension for more

Technology, patents, and inequality: An explanation that even economists can understand

April 1st, 2020

by DEAN BAKER

IMAGE/Duck Duck Go

It is popular for people, especially economist-type people, to claim that technology has been a major driver of the increase in inequality over the last four decades. This view is very convenient for those on the winning side of the inequality divide, since it implies that the growth in inequality was largely an organic process independent of government policy. Inequality might be an unfortunate outcome, but who would be opposed to the advance of technology?

However convenient the technology driving inequality story might be, it falls down on even the most simple examination of its logic. To take an example that has often been used, there is a concern that displacing workers with robots will lead to a transfer of income from workers to the people who own the robots.

While this comment is often treated as presenting the basic problem created by technology, in fact it does the exact opposite. “Owning” the robot is not a technical relationship, it is a legal one, and therefore one that depends on our laws. 

To be more concrete, the income from owning a robot is not the result of owning the physical robot. Robots will generally be relatively cheap to manufacture. So people will not be deriving large incomes from owning the steel and other components of the robot. The reason some people might get very rich from owning robots is because they own patents and copyrights that are needed for the making of the robots. Without these patent and copyright monopolies, robots would be cheap, like washing machines, and there would be no large-scale upward redistribution associated with them.

A World Without Patent and Copyright Monopolies

If it is not already obvious, patent and copyright monopolies are instruments of public policy, not acts of god. We can make them stronger and longer if we want, or shorter and weaker, or not have them at all. The treatment of these monopolies in the constitution is a very good starting point for a clear understanding of the issues. 

Patents and copyrights appear as one of the specific powers granted to Congress (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8).

Center for Economic and Policy Research for more

The gendered violence of everyday life

March 31st, 2020

by KHADIJAH KANJI

PHOTO/The Globe and Mail

Addressing violence against women means expanding our definition of violence to encompass all of the sources of harm, from the global economy to climate change.

Less than a month after Canadians marked the 30th anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre — during which Marc Lepine murdered 14 women and injured 10 others on a college campus in the name of “fighting feminism” — trans activist Julie Berman was murdered in Toronto. A woman/feminized person is killed in Canada every 2.5 days by their intimate partner, and one third of women/femmes will experience at least one incident of sexual assault in their lifetime.

Berman’s murder also reminds us that the category of “woman” does an injustice to the diverse realities of living in a femininized body. While women/femmes who are marginalized by gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, age, and race are more likely to experience physical and/or sexual violence, they are additionally marginalized by their exclusion from consideration and conversation on gendered violence.

In Canada, the subject of gendered violence is revisited yearly on December 6. But we acknowledge that gendered violence will be a part of our societies every day until this date next rolls around. We acknowledge that the “woman” to which we devote our energy and attention on this day is, too often, defined according to the needs and experiences of the most privileged. And, we acknowledge that while we find most comfort in the passive pursuit of remembering, the issue of gendered violence is a current issue that calls us towards action.

Of course, this “action” must include addressing the violently misogynistic ideologies responsible for the massacre at École Polytechnique, and so many incidents since then. But we cannot miss a critical piece of the puzzle: our own participation and investment in patriarchy.

Patriarchy is a structuring force of our societies, one that organizes, directs and coordinates the lives of all us who live on this planet. It is easy enough to condemn those driven by a seemingly irrational hate of feminized people. It is less easy to consider the ways that we ourselves benefit from this system — including many of us who identify as women.

Patriarchy and the global economy

Patriarchy is a feature of our global capitalist economy, making possible our material abundance.

Consider fast fashion — sustained by sweatshop labor, up to 90 percent of which is supplied by women. Those working in sweatshops are paid as little as 6 cents per hour, work 10 to 12-hour shifts — with frequent mandatory overtime — and have restricted bathroom and water breaks. Sexual harassment, corporal punishment and verbal abuse are regular disciplinary tactics. And the work is often lethal, exemplified by the 2013 Rana Plaza Collapse in Bangladesh, the deadliest structural failure incident in modern human history. The majority of the 1,100 people killed and 2,500 injured were young women employed as garment workers in the building — forced back to work despite knowledge that the building was unsafe. The disaster is a shocking reflection of the dehumanization of women in the Global South — one that both enabled the disaster to occur, and that has determined the responses to it.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed a lawsuit against the Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws by the family members of victims, who were producing clothes for the company’s “Joe Fresh” label. The Court held that Loblaws had no duty of care to those workers and ordered victims to pay back almost $1 million in legal costs.

Roar for more

Feminist scholar Barbara Smith on identity politics & why she supports Bernie Sanders for president

March 31st, 2020

DEMOCRACY NOW

VIDEO/You Tube

We speak with the legendary African-American feminist scholar Barbara Smith. She is a founder of the Combahee River Collective and of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. Barbara Smith recently wrote a column in The Guardian newspaper titled “I helped coin the term ‘identity politics’. I’m endorsing Bernie Sanders.” Her latest book is “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue to look at the presidential race following Bernie Sanders’ victory in the New Hampshire primary. The race now moves to Nevada and South Carolina.

We’re joined by the legendary African-American feminist scholar Barbara Smith, founder of the Combahee River Collective and of Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. Barbara Smith recently wrote a column in The Guardian newspaper headlined “I helped coin the term ‘identity politics’. I’m endorsing Bernie Sanders.” Her latest book is Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. She’s joining us from the capital of New York state, Albany.

Barbara Smith, welcome to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. We are speaking to you —

BARBARA SMITH: Great to be with you, Amy. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re speaking to you on the day after the New Hampshire primary, after, actually, in the last two weeks, the primary, first primary, and caucus, Iowa and New Hampshire, that take place in two of the whitest states in the country. And now we move to states of far more diversity, Nevada and South Carolina, and then on to Super Tuesday. So, you are now supporting Bernie Sanders. You’re a surrogate for Senator Sanders. I was wondering if we could step back and you give us a little of your background. I was recently at the Combahee River in South Carolina, after we did an environmental justice forum in Orangeburg, speaking with some of the presidential candidates, and made that trip to the Combahee River because it is so significant — Harriet Tubman and all that she had accomplished. But talk about your background, before you tell us why you support Senator Sanders.

BARBARA SMITH: Are we starting at birth, or are we going to fast-forward?

AMY GOODMAN: Wherever you’d like to start.

BARBARA SMITH: Well, I think it’s really important for people to know — and I say this in the article that was in The Guardian — it’s important for people to know that I was born under Jim Crow. I was born in 1946, so Jim Crow was the law of the land during that time, during my growing-up years. And the reason it’s important, I think, is because it shaped very much who I was and my perspective on this project of U.S. democracy, that we’re still trying to improve.

Democracy Now for more

While bioethics fiddles

March 31st, 2020

by BRENDAN P. FOHT

As baby manufacturing draws near, academic ethicists play frivolous games

by BRENDON FOHT

Last September saw the announcement from scientists of the first manufacture of human egg cells in the lab. As surprising as it may sound, the creation in a lab of human sex cells using stem cells has been in the works for over a decade, with earlier experiments succeeding in deriving primordial germ cells, the cells of an early embryo that eventually give rise to sperm and egg cells.

In the past, embryonic stem cells were used for these experiments. But researchers have begun to favor a relatively recent innovation: induced pluripotent stem cells, which have essentially the same properties as embryonic stem cells but are created by manipulating ordinary adult cells rather than by destroying embryos. For reproductive applications, creating egg or sperm cells using stem cells taken from adult patients would be more desirable than using embryonic stem cells, since patients would be able to use the resulting cells to make children genetically related to themselves, rather than to destroyed embryos.

New Atlantis for more

Investigation: Crucial coronavirus gear supply clouded by allegations of government ‘malintention’

March 30th, 2020

by AAREFA JOHARI

A medical staff member wearing protective clothing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus works at an isolation ward in New Delhi on January 28. PHOTO/AFP

Indian health workers are putting their lives at risk to fight the coronavirus disease. But opaque government decision-making is delaying the supply of crucial equipment needed to shield them from infection, prompting manufacturers’ associations to allege that “malintentions” have undermined the procurement process, an investigation by Scroll.in has revealed.

Gloves, masks, eye protection, hazmat coverall suits – called personal protection equipment or PPE – are a mandatory requirement for all health workers testing or treating Covid-19 patients, as per the World Health Organisation’s latest guidelines. But India could take weeks, if not months, to make them, even as experts ask the country to prepare for “a tsunami of coronavirus cases”.

India detected its first case of the coronavirus disease on January 31. The very next day, the government moved to ban the export of personal protection equipment.

But a month and a half later, the heads of two associations of PPE manufacturers told Scroll.in that the government had not placed any substantial orders with their members. In addition, it had not publicly issued any clear standards or specifications for the design, quality and testing of Covid-19 safety gear, without which the manufacturers said they cannot begin production.

These associations are the prominent industry voice, representing nearly 150 Indian medical PPE makers, public health activists who act as watchdogs of the sector confirmed.

Last week, as coronavirus-infected cases rose sharply across India, the Ministry of Textiles called the associations for a meeting on March 18 with representatives of the health ministry. The textile ministry had been assigned the task of ensuring the availability of safety gear in India by the cabinet secretary on March 8.

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