America’s crisis daddy Andrew Cuomo exploits Coronavirus panic to push bail reform rollback in New York

April 6th, 2020

by NICK PINTO

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a news conference at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, which will house a temporary hospital in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, on March 24, 2020. PHOTO/John Minchillo/AP

As the coronavirus pandemic grips the United States, prosecutors, sheriffs, and public officials have raced to reduce the populations held in local jails, where it is next to impossible to protect elderly and otherwise vulnerable incarcerated people.

In New York, however, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is bucking this trend, pushing for a new law that would roll back newborn bail reforms that went into effect in January and instead expand judges’ power to put defendants in jail. Cuomo has backed this agenda for years, but his evident insistence on including it in the state’s budget negotiations amid a public health crisis is nonetheless remarkable.

“Every other elected official across the country is thinking about how they can reduce their jail and prison population,” Rena Karefa-Johnson, the New York state director for criminal justice reform for the advocacy group FWD.us, said in an interview. “But in New York, we have elected officials still trying to change legislation that would put thousands more people back in jail and slowing up an emergency budget process to do it. It’s wildly out of step with what’s happening across the country, and it’s wildly at odds with this narrative of New York taking Covid-19 seriously and keeping people safe. It’s bonkers.”

The governor’s move comes as his power is ascendant. Cuomo has always wanted to be a crisis governor, engaging in well-documented disaster heroics whenever roadways get slippery. But that instinct, risible in peacetime, is playing differently in the pandemic. People in New York and around the country are terrified, and the erratic federal response under President Donald Trump has been far from reassuring. Cuomo’s sober, authoritative daily briefings have filled the vacuum. In the last weeks, Cuomo has become America’s Governor, its crisis daddy. In recent days the hashtag #PresidentCuomo has been trending on Twitter. With his popularity soaring, and his constituents preoccupied with looming mass fatalities as the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm the state’s health care capabilities, Cuomo is well positioned to drive through his preferred agenda with hardly anyone noticing.

The Intercept for more

In India, radicalisation is being flaunted as a badge of honour

April 6th, 2020

by AVAY SHUKLA

PHOTO/Reuters

Radicalisation: The action or process of causing someone to adopt radical (extreme) positions on political or social issues. (Cambridge dictionary)

The conventional or popular belief in India (as also globally) is that radicalisation is associated with only one religious community, the adherents of Islam. How wrong this perception is can be seen in our country over the past few years, where an uncharacteristic but toxic fundamentalism appears to have seized the euphemistically termed “majority community”, especially in the north and west of the country. Driven by an ideology which has acquired political and executive legitimacy, this “reverse” radicalisation has now become almost state policy and has seeped deep into our social fabric. But whereas earlier it was an insidious infection slowly permeating the organs of this republic, over the past two months, post Article 370 and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), it has now erupted into a full-blown pestilence which its carrier-hosts no longer bother to disguise but flaunt as a badge of honour. The radicalisation of the majority community is now seen as essential to protect the motherland from the “traitors”.

This has been a work in progress since 2015, the idea being to persuade the majority that they are under threat from an “other” whose loyalty is not to India. The constant barrage of vilification, hate, fake news and reinterpretation of history has been largely successful, as repeated electoral successes of the BJP prove. For radicalisation to succeed, it is essential to create an enemy, and the community of 200 million with the same religion as Pakistan fits the bill perfectly. It has been de facto made an extension of that country and has therefore become the prime enemy. But with this enemy has been merged anyone who stands up for their rights or criticises the government: liberals, intellectuals, ‘urban Naxals’, “sickulars”. The enemy thus fully conforms to the hydra-headed monster to be found in all Hindu mythology – for example, Ravana – which of course has to be slain before Ram Rajya can arrive. The script is complete.

I am quite amazed at how radicalised my co-religionists have become. Well educated, financially secure, widely travelled, privileged families have swallowed the poison being dished out by the BJP and amplified by a craven media. They are willing to believe every lie loaded on WhatsApp and Twitter by the party’s IT cell, suspending their disbelief and eager to teach “them” a lesson for all the imagined historical wrongs perpetrated by their ancestors. The government takes the lead in this catechism by creating dubious legislation and the patriots follow it up by lynching, desecration and riots. And the BJP periodically hoovers up the votes.

The Wire for more

Weekend Edition

April 3rd, 2020

Surreal realities – the Corona virus era

April 3rd, 2020

by B. R. GOWANI

The migrant workers returning to Uttar Pardesh from other states in India are being cleansed with a “chemical solution.” PHOTO/BBC

United States

USS Theodore Roosevelt

Navy Capt. Brett Crozier of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which also has a nuclear power plant, pleaded in the four page letter to his superiors to save crew members because some of them had contracted Coronavirus.

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do.” “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

Crozier was unceremoniously fired.

The US which has so many weapons of mass destruction that it could kill all kinds of life on our planet many times over, has not enough ventilators, N95 Masks, PPEs (personal protective equipment) to take care of its healthcare workers, let alone the general population. For people in the United States, Coronavirus is actually a Trump virus due to this administration’s serious blunders. Besides, Trump has not imposed a US-wide lockdown; so the states are handling it in their ways. The Democratic governors are opting for a total lockdown whereas Republican governors are not all for lockdown. Some, as Arizona, imposed a lockdown March 30, but then declared barber shops and hair salons as “essential” services. This is the peak of idiocy because both these businesses are conducted in close proximity.

States on their own

In January 2017, Donald Trump started his presidency with a loud bang of MAGA or Make America Great Again. After more than a three-year misrule of his presidency, the US greatness is starkly visible. The central government, which woke up to the severity of the Corona virus a couple of month too late, still refuses to coordinate efforts to contain it on a federal level. Even gravity of the current situation won’t deter Trump demanding sycophancy from governors if they want any supplies for their states from the federal government. The irony is that things sent by Trump are, in many instances, not functioning properly or are the wrong ones.

California’s Governor Gary Newsom received “170 broken ventilators” from Trump which he had to get fixed from a private company in California before they could be used.

The State of Illinois needed the N95 respirator masks but were supplied surgical masks instead. Governor J. B. Pritzker lamented the Washington inefficiency:

“I can’t emphasize enough how much we need the federal government to step up and amplify the size of their (personal protective equipment) deliveries to Illinois and, frankly, across the nation.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked Trump for 30,000 ventilators and was handed just 400!

Basically, the states are left to cope with the crisis on their own. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s exasperation gives a clear picture of the totally broken system.

“It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator.” “I mean, how inefficient. And then, FEMA gets involved! And FEMA [
Federal Emergency Management Agency] starts bidding! And now FEMA is bidding on top of the 50 [states]. So FEMA is driving up the price. What sense does this make?”

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker after getting in touch with various embassies and others was able to get 1.2 million N95 masks through China in a plane belonging to the New England Patriots, a football team.

MyPillow missionary

Times have changed and so has Trump. There was time when Trump was busy arranging beauty pageants, mingling with and ogling contestants, going out to dinner with some of them, and so on. Nowadays, Trump introduces corporate executives at his daily briefings. The pageant of the corporate beasts give Trump pleasure and boosts his ego. CEOs highlight what their companies are doing or will do to help government combat the Corona virus. The pandemics are profitable too. On January 30, 2020, he introduced the MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. After the usual bullshit, Lindell made a detour towards Trump’s ass for licking and spreading Christianity:

“God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on.” “God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God. I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles and spend time with our families.”

“[The president] gave us so much hope.” “With our great president, vice president and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.”

Enough nausea and vertigo generated by Lindell, the pillow company CEO!

India

Modi acts Mountbatten

In June 1948, Lord Louis Mounbatten, the last Viceroy of India, changed the date of India’s independence from June 3, 1948 to 14/15 August 1947. A nation of 400 million people was divided into India and Pakistan within three months with over a million deaths and over 10 million refugees.

Indian Prime Minister Modi works in the same fashion. In November 2016, he demonetized 500 and 1,000 rupee bills at a short notice resulting in a great financial and economic distress for people. This time again he did the same thing: with a notice of four hours, he ordered lockdown of India on 24th March 2020.

India is a country of 1.3 billion people with vast inequality, immense poverty, and a weak welfare system. There is a vast number of people who earn their livelihood as migrant workers – that is, people from one state working in another state. The sudden lockdown created great problems for these migrant workers because the loss of work left them without any income or a place to live forcing them to go back to their villages. Many started walking back either due to lack of transport or money.

One of the workers Ranveer Singh died while walking back to his family. His last words to his family members were:

“Lene aa sakte ho toh aa jao (Come get me if you can).”

A husband and a wife with two children and a huge bag are on their feet to cover a distance of 150 kilometers (90 miles). Many of the people are without food or water but have to continue the journey. (Watch the videos here and here.)

Then you have the police beating and harassment. Many of the people were made to crawl by the police because they were out during the lockdown. But these people had no other option then going back to their home towns and villages because prolonging their stay in the places they were working starve them to death before they contract the Corona virus. (Watch the video here.)

(Brigadier-General R.E.H. Dyer, known as “the Butcher of Amritsar,” in 1919 ordered Indians to walk “on all fours,” his words, during their agitation for freedom.)

Many of the workers upon reaching India’s most populated state Uttar Pradesh, ruled by a monk, a Hindu nationalist rogue, were ordered to squat and were doused with “chemical solution.” (Watch the video here.)

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

Bollywood: ‘Othering’ the Muslim on screen

April 3rd, 2020

by PRANAV KOHLI & PRANNV DHAWAN

A scene from Padmaavat

Bollywood must work on its own conscious and unconscious biases while representing Indian Muslims and move beyond the image of the “Muslim other” as terrorist, invading barbarian and villain.

In his seminal article on the fundamentally political relationship between cinema and the state, Prof. M. Madhava Prasad of the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, termed the cinematic apparatus (including the image and the audience) as a “microcosm of the future nation-state”. He explains the political and contextual compulsions of film-makers to use the screen as a medium to further the state’s political narratives.

At a time when Indian nationhood, identity and citizenship are undergoing a state-led process of transformation, it is important to deconstruct the role that cinema plays in the supplementary cultural transformations of public life. This is especially important at a time when a political fault line seems to be emerging within the film industry in the context of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the widespread protests against it.

For much of history, the connection between politics and cinema has been implicit yet intimate. Films have often served as a tool of propaganda given their unique ability to reproduce images, movement and sound in an extremely lifelike manner. Unlike other art forms, cinema possesses a sense of immediacy; through the willing suspension of disbelief that they naturally inspire, films are capable of creating the illusion of reality. The nature of photography and videography offers artists the freedom to play with conceptions of reality and also gives them the power to shape people’s perception of reality. This power of representation comes to the fore when films depict unknown cultures, places or histories.

In this article, we analyse the processes of exclusion and otherisation implicit in recent Bollywood period dramas. Contextualising this discussion against the absence of Muslim protagonists from most mainstream films, we argue that Bollywood’s otherisation of Indian Muslims is a well-entrenched practice that is itself reflective of India’s current political landscape.

Political positions

According to contemporary film theory, in order to fully explicate filmic ideology and the ways in which films advance specific political positions, one must also take a look at cinematic form and narrative and at how the cinema apparatus transcodes social discourses and reproduces ideological effects.

The political psychologist Ashis Nandy argues that “popular cinema not merely shapes and is shaped by politics, it constitutes the language for a new form of politics” since its “focus is on the key concerns of some of the most articulate, vibrant and volatile sectors of the Indian electorate today”.

Frontline for more

Why can’t a non-Muslim dream of becoming the prime minister or president of Pakistan?

April 3rd, 2020

by RAJ KUMAR

Protesters hold up placards at a rally in Karachi. PHOTO/REUTERS

When Sajid Javid announced that he would join the race for 10 Downing Street earlier this year, the news was met with a joyous reception in Pakistan. Just the thought that a man who was raised in a Muslim household was even in contention to become the next prime minister of Britain was seen as a matter of great pride; after all, we feel it is imperative that all other nations ensure an equal access to opportunities for all religious minorities and do not discriminate on the basis of religion.

However, how many in Pakistan would be celebrating if an individual from a religious minority was in the running to become the prime minister or president of Pakistan? In truth, we may never know the answer to that question since the Constitution of Pakistan does not allow a non-Muslim to occupy either of these offices. According to Article 41 (2) of the Constitution,

“A person shall not be qualified for election as president unless he is a Muslim of not less than 45 years of age and is qualified to be elected as a member of the National Assembly.”

Similarly, Article 91 (3) stipulates,

“After the election of the speaker and the deputy speaker, the National Assembly shall, to the exclusion of any other business, proceed to elect without debate one of its Muslim members to be the prime minister.”

Now, as a Hindu who was born and raised in Pakistan, I never felt the need to question the heights to which I could rise. I had been weaned on the belief that all citizens in Pakistan are equal, and that the state will never endorse discrimination along religious lines. Whenever there are incidents of religious prejudice in Pakistan, of which there are many, I reassure myself with the belief that these instances in no shape or form reflect the thinking which underpins our sate machinery. But this approach now seems increasingly paradoxical to me.

The Express Tribune for more

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