COVID-19 Pandemic: This is the time for bold programs from the left to help the people: an interview with Fred Magdoff


Countercurrents | May 11, 2020

Fred Magdoff, Professor Emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont and author of many articles and books on ecology, agriculture and economy, frequent Monthly Review contributor and closely associated with struggles of the working people, discusses the coronavirus pandemic in light of capitalism and agriculture in the following interview conducted on April 2, 2020 by Farooque Chowdhury.

Farooque Chowdhury: Since long, you are telling about and analyzing environment and ecology, and the devastation the capitalist system is doing to these. Today, in view of this coronavirus pandemic, how do you find the situation in view of your analysis?Read More »

Crisis bites Saudi Arabia: VAT tripled and state allowances cut

  | May 11, 2020

Saudi Arabia announced a slew of austerity measures to cope with the fiscal impact of the coronavirus pandemic and oil price rout, tripling its value-added tax (VAT) and cutting allowances for government workers.

The steps taken to shore up revenue and rationalize spending are valued at about 100 billion riyals ($26.6 billion) in total, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

“While the measures that were taken today may be painful, they are necessary and beneficial to protect fiscal and economic stability in the short and long term,” Finance minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said in a statement on Saudi Press Agency.Read More »

Protesting Afghans demand food aid, gunfire kills 6

Countercurrents | May 11, 2020

A shootout erupted on Saturday at a protest in western Afghanistan by residents demanding economic assistance, leading to the deaths of at least six people including a local reporter and two police officers, officials said.

The reporter has been identified as local volunteer radio presenter Ahmadkhan Nawid, according to the Afghanistan Journalists’ Centre.

The protesters were demanding relief after weeks of restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic. The protesters angry at the distribution of food aid clashed with security forces.Read More »

U.S.: Class conflict rages in the fight over next stimulus bill

by Mark Gruenberg

People’s World | May 11, 2020

Class conflict rages in the fight over next stimulus bill
In the fight over the next stimulus, it’s the representatives of the rich versus the representatives of the rest of us. For the rich: President Donald Trump, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. For the rest of us: Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Ro Khanna, and Rep. Maxine Waters. | Photos: AP / Illustration: PW

WASHINGTON—Call it class conflict: The fight over the next economic stimulus bill will pit the representatives of the rich against the representatives of the rest of us.

And it’s playing out on Capitol Hill even before the U.S. House and its pro-worker Democratic majority planned to return to work – if congressional doctors will let them – on May 11.

On the side of the rich: GOP President Donald Trump, almost all of the Republicans and the 1% — except a few who realize the entire U.S. needs to get back on its feet – the radical right, and the corporate elite. They want to open up the economy again, regardless of whether doing so produces a new surge in coronavirus victims and deaths.

Read More »

U.S.: The stock market is not the economy

by C. J. Atkins

People’s World | May 08, 2020

The stock market is not the economy
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange listen to President Donald Trump’s televised White House news conference, March 17, 2020 in New York. The month of April, by percentage gain, was the stock market’s best month in 33 years. | Mark Lennihan / AP

For years, Trump has been telling us that when the stock market soars, the economy booms for us all. Whenever the Dow Jones or the S&P 500 hit a new high, we’ve been expected to clap and cheer for the latest proof that America is “great again.” On such occasions, the president has regularly tweeted, “Congratulations USA!”, as if we were all on the way to the bank with our stock dividend checks.

But if you ever suspected that those who live off the stock market inhabit a different economy than the rest of us, this week provided plenty of evidence to confirm it.

On Thursday, as the number of unemployed claims added to their record-shattering tally—33 million since the pandemic started—the NASDAQ Composite actually turned positive for 2020. This means that the index—which is dominated by big tech firms like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google (Alphabet), Amazon, and Netflix—is higher now than it was back at the beginning of January before the economic shutdown started.

Read More »

U.S.: The depression hits: As many as 50 million jobless says Trumka

by Mark Gruenberg

People’s World | May 08, 2020

The depression hits: As many as 50 million jobless says Trumka
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who says the federal government must guarantee pay for workers who have lost their jobs, says the real number of unemployed could be as high as 50 million. | AP


That was the sound of the U.S. economy collapsing in April as the official unemployment rate skyrocketed from 4.4% in March to 14,7% last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. And that is an enormous undercount with many millions still unable to get their claims registered. Official totals of 20 million could be as high as 50 million, according to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Even the BLS says its figures are an undercount. Undercount.

“If the persons who were recorded as employed but ‘absent from work for other reasons’ had been classified as unemployed but on temporary layoff, the overall unemployment rate would have been almost five percentage points higher,” BLS noted.Read More »

Fight COVID-19 Not Venezuela

by Howie Hawkins

The Keystone Cops have nothing on the rag-tag group of soldiers of fortune who failed earlier this week in their implausible plot to kidnap Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, trigger a military coup, and install the US puppet, Juan Guaidó, in the presidency.

We know all about the hair-brained scheme due to a falling out of the thieves. The man behind the plot, Jordan Goudreau, spilled the beans because Guaidó only paid Goudreau $50,000 of the $200 million promised in a contract both men signed. Goudreau has released the contract as well as audio of discussions about the contract in an apparent attempt to distance himself from responsibility for the badly botched coup attempt.Read More »

Planet of the Humans Backlash

by Yves Engler

The backlash may be more revealing than the film itself, but both inform us where we are at in the fight against climate change and ecological collapse. The environmental establishment’s frenzied attacks against Planet of the Humans says a lot about its commitment to big money and technological solutions.

A number of prominent individuals tried to ban the film by Jeff Gibbs and Michael Moore. Others berated the filmmakers for being white, male and overweight. Many thought leaders have declared they won’t watch it.Read More »

From coronavirus tests to open-source insulin and beyond, ‘biohackers’ are showing the power of DIY science


The Conversation | May 11, 2020

In March, amateur scientists in Sydney announced they had created a COVID-19 test kit that is simpler, faster, and cheaper than existing tests. While the test has not yet been approved by regulators, if effective it could play a role in scaling up the world’s coronavirus testing capability.

The test’s creators, associated with a “community lab for citizen scientists” called Biofoundry, are part of a growing international movement of “biohackers” with roots stretching back 30 years or more. Biohacking, also known as DIY biology, takes cues from computer-hacking culture and uses the tools of biological science and biotechnology to carry out experiments and make tools outside any formal research institution.Read More »

Fleas to flu to coronavirus: how ‘death ships’ spread disease through the ages


The Conversation | May 11, 2020

One of the haunting images of this pandemic will be stationary cruise ships – deadly carriers of COVID-19 – at anchor in harbours and unwanted. Docked in ports and feared.

The news of the dramatic spread of the virus on the Diamond Princess from early February made the news real for many Australians who’d enjoyed holidays on the seas. Quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, over 700 of the ship’s crew and passengers became infected. To date, 14 deaths have been recorded.Read More »