COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Our Planet’s Missed Opportunity to Unite and Fight Side by Side Against the Pandemic

Andre Vltchek

It is time to stop irresponsible finger-pointing.

All over the world, as this essay is being written, well over 17 million COVID-19 cases have been reported, and 676,000 people died. And instead of concentrating on serious research, trying to save human lives and attempting to stop the global calamity, ‘residents’ of the White House are spending all their energy on their own political survival, as well as on the survival of the regime.

In the U.S., both the establishment and opposition are buzzing with phantasmagoric conspiracy theories. Everyone is shouting, and no one is listening.Read More »

FACE OF AN ECONOMY

FACE OF AN ECONOMY: U.S.: Contradictions Press Small Dairy Farms in Wisconsin

A Journal of People report  

blue and white tractor on green grass field under blue sky during daytime
Representative Image. Unsplash.  
Photographer: Brian Lundquist.

In the past decade, about half of Wisconsin’s small dairy farms have gone out of business. These farms are facing a downward journey as contradictions in a market economy press them to vanishing point. The farmers’ life is turning hard. A New Yorker (August 17, 2020 issue) report – “How Suffering Farmers May Determine Trump’s Fate” – by Dan Kaufman, author of The Fall of Wisconsin: The Conservative Conquest of a Progressive Bastion and the Future of American Politics, (2018) tells the story of this part of the capitalist economy in a lively way.

The report in the New Yorker’s Letter from Wisconsin section begins by describing condition of Jerry Volenec, a dairy farmer from southwestern Wisconsin:

“Last October, Jerry Volenec, a dairy farmer from southwestern Wisconsin, took the morning off to go to Madison for the World Dairy Expo, an annual cattle-judging contest and trade show. Volenec wanted to hear a town-hall discussion led by Sonny Perdue, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture, to learn how the Administration planned to address the economic crisis gripping Wisconsin’s family dairy farmers.Read More »

CAPITALISM

Unregulated Capitalism Drives ‘The Business of Drugs’

Brian W. Major

People’s World | August 07, 2020

Unregulated capitalism drives ‘The Business of Drugs’
Netflix

Much of the world is facing a crisis around the use and abuse of various sorts of substances. Headlines around the world show many deaths each day due to overdoses. In the U.S., approaches to this issue have typically involved prohibition, enforcement, and corrections. Other jurisdictions such as the Netherlands and Portugal have successfully tried legalization and drug therapies for users. A new six-part documentary series debuted July 14 on Netflix, entitled The Business of Drugs.

The series is directed by Erik Osterholm, Jesse Sweet, Nick Carew, and Eric Strauss, hosted by Amarylis Fox. It features a former CIA analyst who explores issues around six different types of illegal drugs. For leftist critics of drug prohibition, this series provides excellent examples of how capitalism is a major cause of the drug crisis—both in terms of why many people use drugs in the first place, and in terms of the fact that the U.S., in particular, currently lacks a planned or coherent response to this crisis. In what may be a surprise to many, the CIA analyst herself ends the series with a clear critique of “unregulated capitalism.” Perhaps the most politically salient episodes are the ones which address cannabis and opiates.Read More »

PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT IN LEBANON

Lebanese Communists Call for a New Politics as Country Marks One Week Since the Beirut Blast

Ben Chacko

Morning Star | August 11, 2020

People march in honor of the victims of the last week’s explosion that killed over 150 people and devastated the city, near the blast site in Beirut, Lebanon

LEBANESE citizens held a minute’s silence at 6.08pm today to mark a week since the devastating explosion that flattened much of Beirut.

The country’s entire government resigned on Monday night amid huge protests after documents came to light showing that top officials were aware of the enormous stockpile of ammonium nitrate being stored unsafely in a warehouse near residential areas but had not acted.

A probe into the disaster has been referred to the Supreme Judicial Council but commands little public credibility.

Read More »

BOOK REVIEW

Financialization And Authoritarian Neoliberalism In Turkey

Gorkem Altinors

Progress in Political Economy | July 30, 2020

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed his son-in-law Berat Albayrak as the Treasury and Finance Minister shortly after he retained his office in the general elections in June 2018. On 10th August 2018, Albayrak held a press meeting with the heads of the prominent industrialist and capitalist groups as he revealed the ‘new economic model’ which will employ cooperation with ‘all national and international stakeholders’ and will bring a ‘decisive’ approach for maintaining the Central Bank’s independence. Perhaps it was because of Erdogan’s unorthodox views on interest rates and his increasing authoritarianism, the financial markets did not take this promise seriously as on the very same day, the value of Turkish Lira fell 10 percent against foreign currencies, marking the US Dollar six times more valuable than Turkish Lira, for the first time in history. Almost one year later, following an epic defeat in the local elections and the losing of Istanbul with a greater margin in the re-run of the mayoral elections, Erdogan sacked the head of the Central Bank over the dispute on interest rates which raised concerns over Central Bank independence once again. The violation of Central Bank independence illustrates an ongoing pattern that led to the crisis in the first place (Akcay and Güngen 2019). The currency and debt crisis of 2018 and recent developments in the finance and banking sector in 2019 brought the political economy of Islamic-neoliberalism in Turkey under scrutiny as the country represents one of the most dynamic emerging economies in the periphery in the age of global capitalism.Read More »

STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY IN BOLIVIA

Bolivians Brave Repression, Continue Struggle for Democracy

Peoples Dispatch | August 11, 2020

 

The coup-born regime is maintaining its strategy of criminalizing the national mobilizations and blockades

 

 

The national strike and road blockades have intensified across Bolivia. The Bolivian Workers’ Center (COB) called for these actions to oppose the postponement of general elections. In response, the de facto government maintains its strategy of criminalizing the national mobilizations and blockades. On Monday August 10 a prosecutor from La Paz called for Evo Morales, MAS presidential candidates, Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca, as well as secretary general of COB Huarachi, to be investigated on charges of genocide and terrorism. Despite this increased repression, the people of Bolivia remain on the streets.

Read More »

COLOMBIA

Two Years of Duque’s Colombia: Deepening Neoliberalism, Increased Violence and a Public Health Crisis

Zoe PC

People’s Dispatch | August 11, 2020

Colombians had a brief moment of celebration following the Supreme Court of Justice’s announcement that they were ordering the detention of Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Photo: Colombia Informa

August 7 marked two years since Iván Duque took office as president of Colombia. For the Colombian people, these two years have been marked by incessant attacks on the rights of people, an increase in violence and the deepening of the economic crisis. Added to this, today, Colombia has the eighth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world and the number of deaths is also steadily increasing.

In this context, Peoples Dispatch spoke to Milena Ochoa, the director of the Corporation for Popular Education and Research – National Labor Institute – CEDINS – and a member of Congreso de los Pueblos (the People’s Congress) to understand what two years of the Duque presidency has meant for the Colombian people, and how his poor management has made Colombia one of the countries worst hit by the pandemic. We also asked her about the implications of Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice ordering the detention of former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez on August 4.Read More »

PROTEST IN U.S

‘Cancel the Rent’—Tenants Pressure D.C. City Council and Corporate Landlords

Jamal Rich

People’s World | August 10, 2020

‘Cancel the Rent’—Tenants pressure D.C. city council and corporate landlords
@DianeKrauthamer via Reclaim Rent Control DC

WASHINGTON—On Saturday, July 25, a major rally hosted by D.C. Jobs With Justice, Reclaim Rent Control D.C., and the D.C. Tenants Union was held at Columbia Heights Plaza with hundreds of organizers and tenants from the D.C. metropolitan area who are struggling to pay rent amidst the economic fallout from the pandemic, an expiration of unemployment benefits and moratorium on rent, and the stalling of the U.S. Congress to pass the HEROES Act.

Thousands of residents in the nation’s capital are on the brink of eviction and want the District to respond to the housing crisis in a humane way without throwing thousands out into the streets, which would only risk worsening the spread COVID-19.Read More »

BEIRUT TRAGEDY

The Tragic Physics of the Deadly Explosion in Beirut

Rachel Lance

WIRED | August 08, 2020

 

ON AUGUST 4, 2020, a massive explosion blasted deadly waves through downtown Beirut. Then, video of the fireball rippled around the world almost as quickly. Now, details of the blast that started in a fireworks storage area by a small storage building at the end of a Beirut pier trickle in as the world waits to hear what the final death, injury, and destruction tallies will be. However, in a way, the world already has some idea what to expect, because similar blasts have occurred before.

As a biomedical engineer with a doctorate in the patterns of injury and trauma that follow an explosion, scraping together information from accidental blasts is part of my daily work. The more mundane explosions are rarely this size, but the same principles of physics and chemistry apply. Science, along with a few case studies from history, let me do some preliminary calculations to puzzle out this explosion, too.Read More »

BEIRUT TRAGEDY

Why Beirut’s Ammonium Nitrate Blast was so Devastating

Giorgia Guglielmi

Nature | August 10, 2020

A helicopter attempts to put out a fire creating a huge plume of smoke behind buildings levelled in an explosion.
The explosion on 4 August destroyed buildings across Beirut.Credit: Fadel Itani/NurPhoto/Getty

On the evening of 4 August, Pierre Khoueiry was making birthday plans with his wife and two-year-old daughter when a blast shattered the windows of the family’s apartment in Beirut. About 2.5 kilometres away, in the city’s port, a powerful explosion had sent a huge orange fireball into the sky, followed by a massive shock wave that overturned cars, damaged buildings and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital. “It was a moment of great fear,” says Khoueiry, a genomics researcher at the American University of Beirut.

Lebanese authorities say that the explosion, which killed at least 220 people, injured more than 5,000 and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless, was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer, which had been stored for 6 years at a port warehouse. An investigation into what triggered the explosion is under way, and early reports suggest that it was probably a nearby fire.

Read More »