Archive | May 20th, 2020

Actress Says Jewish Conspiracy Behind Coronavirus

Actress Rosanna Arquette implied Tuesday that a Jewish conspiracy is behind the coronavirus spreading across the world.

“I’m still confused,” she wrote in a post on Twitter, now deleted, “so Israel has been working on a corona virus vaccine for a year already? (so they knew ) Vaccines take a long time to know if they are safe and KUSHNER OSCAR is the major investor in the new vaccine that is supposedly coming here. Lives at risk for profit.”

Four Viral Lessons

By Brother Nathanael Kapner May 4 2020

IF ANYTHING COMES out of the COVID panic, for better or for worse, there are big lessons to be learned.

In fact, four practical lessons come to the fore that can serve as lodestars in navigating a future course in a post-corona world.

Knowledge is power and once adequate information is known appropriate action can then take place.

With these four lessons below we can activate a proper response to the corona ‘panic.’#1 –America Has Committed Economic SuicideThis is a no-brainer.

What country in the history of man has inflicted upon itself its own economic destruction?

There was no famine, no pestilence, no national labor strikes, nothing external except an influenza that mostly affected the elderly, to wreak material destruction.

Yet a bunch of schmucks and female fussbudgets called “Governors” pulled down their own sovereign state’s economic houses and roofs on their citizens’ heads.

And everyone said, “Okie dokie, fine with me.”#2 – Google Owns And Partners With Vaccine CompaniesVerily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, (owned by the Israeli Mossad), began as a project to develop “wearable” devices.

It has since partnered with Gilead on profiling immune systems; with Vaccitech on developing flu vaccines; with Verve Therapeutics on nano-particle formulations; and with GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, in the development of miniature electronic implants.

With the creation of Galvani Bioelectronics in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, Verily now has its own pharmaceutical company that is working to “enable the research, development and commercialization of bioelectronic medicines,” which aim to treat disease using miniaturized implanted devices.

In addition to Verily, Alphabet also owns a medical research company called Calico, headed by the Jew, Arthur Levinson, former CEO of Genentech, another pharmaceutical company that develops vaccines.

So as to protect its prospective HUGE Jewish profits, the Jews who own Google/Alphabet buries alternative health sites to protect people from “dangerous” medical advice.

No surprise that Google’s Verily in working with the CA Governor’s office banned California’s Dr Ericson’s affirmation of natural immunity processes in dealing with the corona virus.

#3 – The Media Is Run By JewsAnother no-brainer.

For those whose powers of deduction are not permanently impaired, Jews, who own the media, have been at the forefront in creating the COVID panic.

Whether it’s Brian Stelter, Andrea Mitchell, Jacob Tapper, or Susan Wojcicki, non-stop hysteria has been beamed across the airwaves.

And every Jewish anchor and interviewer have all had their paws fawning all over Bill Gates, the new Queen of Corona.

But bona fide medical professionals like Dr Dan Ericson and Judy Mikovits PhD received around their throats the kosher knife of Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.

For those who can see the forest for the trees a larger agenda is being perpetrated by Jewry on the hapless goy.#4 – China Wins, America LosesFor all the blame games coming out of the White House against China, US manufacturing will continue to be off-shored to China at a record pace.

Just today, five US factories—including Lennox, Polaris, and Goodyear—announced that due to post-corona restrictions and protocols they will close down their factories for good and contract production abroad.

Qui bono? Jewish Wall Street that finances and underwrites corporate stocks, its Jewish investors, Jewish hedge funds, and Jewish financial markets.

Cheap labor means high profits.

Out-of-work goys still have to feed themselves and their families.

But not to worry, Costco will soon be hiring.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Health, PoliticsComments Off on Actress Says Jewish Conspiracy Behind Coronavirus

What Trump Knew & When He Knew It: NYT on How Trump Ignored COVID-19 Warnings Until It Was Too Late

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  • Eric Liptoninvestigative reporter for The New York Times.

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Image Credit: White House

As the United States surpasses the coronavirus death toll of any country in the world with more than 22,000 dead, we look how President Trump led the country to this point with Eric Lipton, lead author of The New York Times’s explosive new exposé, “He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus.”


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As the United States surpasses the death toll of any country in the world with more than 22,000 COVID-19 deaths, we begin today’s show looking at what led us to this point. In a minute, we’ll be joined by the lead author of an explosive exposé in The New York Times headlined “He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus.” But first we go to this video, which is called “Trump’s Coronavirus Calendar.” It was produced by The Recount, capturing the months of downplaying and denial before Trump pivoted to coronavirus crisis mode. It starts on January 22nd.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. … We think we have it very well under control. …

We pretty much shut it down, coming in from China. … You know, in April, supposedly it dies, with the hotter weather. … When it gets warm, historically, that has been able to kill the virus. … The people are getting better. They’re all getting better. … And the 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero. … It’s going to disappear one day. It’s like a miracle. It will disappear. … And you’ll be fine. …

Now, they’re going to have vaccines, I think, relatively soon. … Not only the vaccines, but the therapies. Therapies is sort of another word for cure. … We’re talking about very small numbers in the United States. … Our numbers are lower than just about anybody. … It’s really working out, and a lot of good things are going to happen. … And we are responding with great speed and professionalism. … It’s going to go away. … Yeah, no, I don’t take responsibility at all. … We’re going to all be great. We’re going to be so good. …

This came up. It — we came up so suddenly. … This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do was look at other countries. …

The coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. This is their new hoax. We have 15 people in this massive country. And because of the fact that we went early — we went early. We could have had a lot more than that. We’re doing great. Our country is doing so great.

AMY GOODMAN: That montage of President Trump was produced by The Recount.

This is how The New York Times began its investigation into Trump’s failure to respond to the threat of the coronavirus: quote, “’Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,’ a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of Jan. 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. [He goes on,] ‘The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe [unquote].’

“A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action.

“[quote] ‘You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,’ he wrote to the group, which called itself ‘Red Dawn,’ an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. [Mecher goes on,] ‘Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities [unquote].’

“His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.”

Those are the first few paragraphs of this remarkable exposé in The New York Times.

For more on how Trump was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, we’re joined by the lead author of that exposé, Eric Lipton, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, investigative reporter for The New York Times. Together with a number of other Times reporters, he wrote this in-depth piece, headlined “He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus.” His follow-up piece, “The ‘Red Dawn’ Emails: 8 Key Exchanges on the Faltering Response to the Coronavirus.”

Eric Lipton, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. So, take us back to that time, and then we’ll talk about why this is so significant today, I mean, reflected in the fact that as we speak today, the U.S. has surpassed any country’s death toll in the world. Take us back to those warnings, those first early warnings that scientists and members of his government were issuing.

ERIC LIPTON: Actually, I think you need to go back way before January of 2020, and you go back to — way back to 2006, believe it or not, and you go back to the Bush administration, when it was during the Bush administration, of George W. Bush, that there were key advisers to President Bush who realized that it was only a matter of time before a significant infectious disease came to the United States, like it happened, you know, shortly after World War I, and it was going to cause widespread illnesses and deaths, and that the United States was not properly prepared for it. And so, it was in 2006 that the United States designed a comprehensive pandemic plan, which has two essential stages, and the stages are containment and mitigation.

And the first stage is containment, in which you attempt to — essentially, like the word sounds, you attempt to contain the infection and prevent it from spreading. And you do that by preventing people who are ill from coming to the United States with it, you know, or if someone is ill, you do what’s called contact tracing, in which you identify anyone that’s had contact with that individual, and you isolate them until they become better, so that you — just like happened in China after the number of cases began to explode. So that’s containment.

But at a certain point, it becomes — there’s community spread. And once you have community spread, then you need to switch to mitigation, in which you take steps to — there is no vaccine. And it’s called — actually, another term for mitigation is nonpharmaceutical interventions — NPIs, they call it. And the biggest issue here was, on day one, in January of 2020, Carter Mecher, who is a physician, a doctor that works at the Veterans Administration, was already — when he’s talking about closing colleges and universities, he’s talking about NPIs, these nonpharmaceutical interventions, or mitigation. He’s already anticipating that this is going to be necessary.

And that’s the most important thing that we have to look back on in the United States right now, is that: When did they move from containment to mitigation, and did they move soon enough? And the answer is, they did not move soon enough to mitigation. And the result is that more people are dying, and there are more illnesses, than would have been necessary if they had shifted to mitigation sooner. And that’s the point that Dr. Mecher was making in January of 2020, was we need to be prepared to move to mitigation as soon as there is sufficient evidence that community spread has started. And if you want to understand the biggest failure that is consequential in the United States, it was the slowness with which we moved to mitigation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to the so-called Red Dawn string of emails, in which infectious disease specialists shared their concerns about the coronavirus very early on. Actually, this one was March 13th. The former adviser to Presidents Bush and Obama, infectious disease specialist James Lawler — I think he was at the University of Nebraska — wrote, quote, ”CDC is really missing the mark here. By the time you have substantial … transmission, it is too late. It’s like ignoring the smoke detector and waiting” for your whole house to be on fire before you call the fire department. If you can comment? And go back even further, because his own people, Trump’s own people, like Navarro, like Azar, were warning, sounding the alarms in January. In fact, intelligence agencies were saying a pandemic is about to explode on the global scene.

ERIC LIPTON: Right. Well, again, it’s like, the thing about mitigation, or nonpharmaceutical interventions, is it’s a very simplistic — you know, it’s like you would think we’re such a — we’re so modern, we’re so advanced in our science, that we would have to resort to things like closing of schools and businesses and social distancing, which seems so crude, because you would think there would be some treatment or some scientific method. But unfortunately, the reality is, with viruses which the population has no resistance to and that there’s no treatment for, going back to the Plague, there really is no solution other than forced-upon isolation.

And so, again, when Dr. James Lawler from University of Nebraska, who was on the National Security Council during the Bush administration, as well, and participated in the drafting of that 2006 pandemic plan and then became an adviser to President Obama on pandemic preparations — what he, again, was upset about with the CDC was when the CDC, in March, said that it questioned the effectiveness of shutting down schools in the United States. That made these pandemic experts so frustrated and so angry, because, again, the fire alarm was going off.

They have a very scientific method, these pandemic infectious disease doctors, where they have — there’s like a moment when the first death occurs. From the date that the first death occurs, you have a certain amount of time to institute mitigation, nonpharmaceutical interventions. If you don’t do that in that small window, the number of deaths that are going to occur — and basically it’s an equation. You can show how many deaths will happen if you don’t pull the switch on mitigation by a certain date. And they knew what that date was.

Now, it’s not as if you needed to do national mitigation all at once. You didn’t. You need to do it by hot spot. When you had the first death in a community or certain number of infectious cases, then you needed to say, “Boom! Time to institute NPIs, social distancing.”

And the problem is that the — what these doctors told me when I interviewed them is that the governors, who really have the power to do that, the governors are — you know, it’s hard for a governor to get out in front when there’s one death in a state the size of Washington state or Oregon or California, when there’s a single death or a handful of infections. It’s very hard for the governor to tell the citizens of his or her state that we need to shut down the economy on our own. It needs a federal official to come out and say this must happen. You know, now, they don’t actually have the power to do that — the president or the surgeon general or the head of the CDC — but they have kind of the platform to call for such a step. And that’s what had to happen.

And that’s what HHS, the Health and Human Services, wanted the president to do in February. And the president was not willing to do that, and so it sat for several weeks. And then it was up to the governors, one at a time, to make the move. And some of them did it early, like California, and did it early. New York did it later, because they didn’t have the federal guidance and kind of backing to say, “Now move. Do it.”

AMY GOODMAN: When you look at the numbers — the U.S. said it had its first coronavirus case around the same time as South Korea. Now the U.S. has 50 times more cases, hundred times the fatalities. Look at the population of the U.S. and the world: 4.25% of the world’s population — that’s less than 5% of the world’s population — 30% of the confirmed cases and 20% of the deaths in the world.

So let’s go back to those Red Dawn email chain that you’ve exposed. In an email at the end of January, Dr. James Lawler, the infectious disease doc, wrote, quote, “Great Understatements in History: Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow — ‘just a little scroll gone bad’ Pompeii — ‘a bit of a dust storm’ — Hiroshima — ‘a bad summer heatwave’ AND Wuhan — ‘just a bad flu season.’”

So these docs were sounding the alarm, but so were President Trump’s most trusted advisers. Talk about what Azar had to say, head of Health and Human Services. Talk about what Navarro was saying, saying that this was going to be serious. And talk about who was countering them. It’s not that President Trump didn’t know. I mean, he no longer had his pandemic task force within the National Security Council, which would have been sounding the alarm. He had that disbanded back in 2018. But he also had countering forces, like Mnuchin, deeply concerned about the economy and shutting anything down, in fact canceling a doctors’ meeting, you write about, when one of the doctors said, you know, “We have to do something about this.”

ERIC LIPTON: I think that what the context that this happened is it’s the impeachment in January in the Senate is going on, and as this thing is just getting underway in terms of its first infections coming to the United States. And not only that, but it’s now an election year in January 2020, and the president is really focused on his reelection, and the single, by far, theme that is going to define his reelection campaign is “Look at the stock market. Look at the incredible rise, the record stock market numbers. Look at the economic growth in the United States.”

And also, in January, he was in the midst of finalizing negotiations with China on what they called Phase 1, that was going to try to remove — he was going to try to remove some of the tariffs in the trade war that was going on. That was going to be signed on January 15th, and so, you know — and the ability to reach an agreement with China was central to the stock markets continuing to rise and economic growth recovering, and the farmers being happy because soybeans would be bought by China again.

All of this was in the balance for Trump. So, if he was seriously considering taking steps to shut down businesses, schools, and force social distancing by urging governors to take such steps, he was going to essentially be undermining the economy that was going to be the central theme of his campaign. And that was the last thing that he wanted to do.

But what he didn’t realize is that if they allow this infection to bloom in the United States, and then potentially hundreds of thousands of deaths to occur because they never did mitigation, that the economy would have been shut down by the force of the virus itself in an even more devastating way, because the number of deaths would have been in the hundreds of thousands.

And it goes back to the fact that this is an administration that you had an acting chief of staff for over a year who had very little clout across the White House. You had lots of turnover among the top people in the various agencies, acting head of homeland security, I mean, different DOD secretaries, different national security advisers. And you had lots of infighting among these different advisers. You had a secretary of health and human services, Azar, who was not respected by the president, whose voice did not carry much weight in the White House. You had Peter Navarro, who was —

AMY GOODMAN: They called him alarmist?

ERIC LIPTON: Yes. You had Peter Navarro, who was a trade adviser, who was one of the earliest voices of concern. People said, “Oh, it’s crazy. He’s crazy. We don’t want to listen to him in the White House.” And so — and then you have a lacking functional process of policymaking, in which the chief of staff is supposed to be the person that considers all these debates and then brings to the president his recommendation, but then Mulvaney, since he had his comments late last year in October that, oh, it was a quid pro quo, was so on the outs that no one was really listening to him, and was about to be fired from his job, which ultimately he was, in the middle of this.

So you had a dysfunctional White House that was unable to make the right policy choice and bring it to the president, and then a president who was so fixated on his reelection that he wasn’t in a position to listen to people who were warning that this was a pandemic of historic proportions that was coming at us and that we had a small window of an opportunity to act decisively to limit the number of deaths.

And then, that result was that in late February, when all of his advisers, all of his medical advisers, from Health and Human Services, CDC, from the Veterans Affairs, had concluded that the United States needed to announce that it was time to shift to mitigation and social distancing, that the moment had come when it was up to the president to endorse this — and that’s when he got angry, when someone from the CDC said that was something that was going to have to happen. And the announcement on that was put off by several weeks. Those several weeks were the difference between — there are many people that will have died because of that delay, particularly in New York state, of mitigation.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to — I mean, you have — Navarro had also recommended the ban on China. And when you talk about travel ban, President Trump’s ears perk up. So he did do the travel ban on China, but it was, to say the least, filled with loopholes. Eventually, he would do Europe. But at the same time, every time he says, “Look, I did that early,” since he understood the significance of what was taking place early — that was the beginning of what? February. Is that right? If he had started ramping up the testing and the supply chain to ensure that there were PPEs — right? — the personal protective equipment, that doctors and nurses and the janitors in hospitals so severely lack right now, if it had started like it started in Taiwan — they didn’t even close the country there. But here, this has led to this absolute catastrophe. The most significant part of it is the massive loss of life.

ERIC LIPTON: Well, I mean, a couple of points you make there. The first was about the, again, two phases here: containment and mitigation. So, relative to the containment phase, the president, in late January, announces the limitation on flights in China. But, as you say, there was a very problematic implementation, in quite a number of ways. And perhaps among them is that there were approximately 400,000 people that came to the United States from China, as my colleague Steve Eder reported recently, that — from the time that we know that the virus was spreading in China to most recently. And 45,000 of them, approximately, came in the period after the president limited flights.

And the problem was that it was not really a — in the world today, it’s next to impossible to stop movements of people entirely. And you can’t ban American citizens from coming back to the United States. And so American citizens and naturalized citizens were coming into the United States, tens of thousands of them, even after he adopted this limitation. And they weren’t, actually, in many cases, doing sufficient testing of those people or requiring isolation of those people for two weeks to ensure that they weren’t infected.

So, if you were really going to do a, quote, “travel ban,” you needed to have mandatory quarantines, unfortunately, which is a civil liberties issue. You needed to have mandatory quarantines for those people, and you needed to have sufficient testing to make sure that they were not actually bringing the virus in. Neither of those happened. Those people were bringing in many cases of infections. And so, the first stage, containment, containment was a failure. OK?

So, the second stage, then, even during containment, you needed to be working on mitigation, because you know that it’s going to spread anyway. The question is: How much will you have? So, during containment, you need to be ramping up all of your preparations, you know, Plan B. You need to have the PPEs. You need to have the ventilators. You need to have the hospitals. You need to have the hospital personnel. But what we learned was that it was — I was working on a story with my colleague Zolan, who covers the Federal Emergency Management Agency in The New York Times, and Department of Homeland Security. It was March 17th, and we asked the Army Corps of Engineers, “Have you been given any assignments yet to help the United States respond to the pandemic?” And at that point, you know, New York City had had —

AMY GOODMAN: We have 30 seconds, Eric.

ERIC LIPTON: Oh, OK. The Army Corps of Engineers had not been given an assignment as of March 17th, which was extraordinary. So they had not shifted to Plan B until way too late.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us and and end with Dr. Fauci. On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci about your New York Times piece.

JAKE TAPPER: Do you think lives could have been saved if social distancing, physical distancing, stay-at-home measures had started third week of February instead of mid-March?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, Jake, again, it’s the what would have, what could have. It’s very difficult to go back and say that. I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously no one is going to deny that.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking yesterday on Jake Tapper’s show on CNN. In response, President Trump retweeted a tweet that ended with “fire Fauci.” Eric Lipton, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, investigative reporter for The New York Times.

When we come back, we go to Detroit, the site of the first major U.S. study into whether or not the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine could help prevent the spread of coronavirus, this coming after weeks of President Trump promoting the drug despite warnings from medical experts.

And this latest breaking news: George Stephanopoulos of ABC News has just tested positive for the coronavirus. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Amazing Grace,” sung by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli as he stood on the steps outside the Duomo cathedral, the final song in a concert called “Music for Hope,” the cathedral in the region of Italy that’s been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted in USA, China, Health, PoliticsComments Off on What Trump Knew & When He Knew It: NYT on How Trump Ignored COVID-19 Warnings Until It Was Too Late

Accusations of “Cairo Amman Bank” to suspend the accounts of freed prisoners


By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Nazi occupied West Bank: The Cairo-Amman Bank, which is one of the banks coming to Palestine, closed the accounts of the released prisoners, after taking all measures against them as well.

For his part, the former Minister of Prisoners, Wasfi Qabba, explained that the bank started to stop the ATM cards of released prisoners and families of prisoners, and demanded them to make a clearance to transfer their accounts from the bank.

He added to ” Quds News “, that a number of editors and the families of the prisoners faced the same issue in the aforementioned bank, who were known as: “Moatasem Sitii from Jenin Camp, Nidal Abd al-Hadi from Jenin, and Amina Alyan, who is the wife of a prisoner from Tulkarm.”

He stressed that “the bank’s move is not legal, non-national, and unethical, and there will be a series of protests and the legal obligation of banks not to respond to the occupation’s decisions.”

He continued her title in a Facebook post: “I was surprised that Cairo Amman Bank decided to comply with the decisions of the occupation and respond to its pressures, predominantly the interests of the bank over the interest of the prisoners who are the focus and dynamism of the national work and the link of the authentic national trends, whether in individuals or institutions.”

According to its title, “bypassing the institution for the interests of the Palestinian people and specifically the prisoners’ segment of them, it is considered abandonment of its national role, and by this it reveals the backs of those who are crucifixion and chemistry of national action, and makes them a grab for the occupation.”

He stressed that this decision is in full compliance with the occupation’s decisions and military orders, and in response to the threats that the bank must reject first and foremost, and every other institution, whether it is a bank or other business institution.

He asked: “Is there a ugliest, dirtier, and coward than the citizen fighting with his livelihood, so how is the matter when the flower of his youth and his years of life is fought for the freedom of the homeland and its people, and for this institution to have a presence on the Palestinian scene?”

He called on human and human rights institutions working in the field of prisoners and liberators affairs to call for an urgent meeting to develop a plan of action and communication with all relevant parties.

For his part, the activist Moamen Al-Asad said that the decision is a stab in the back of the Palestinian people and submitting to the dictates of his enemy, considering that keeping silent about such a measure will be an entry point for all banks to catch up with Cairo Amman Bank, by restricting the prisoners.

He continued by saying: “If the news is correct, the least action that needs to be taken is to boycott the bank and close all its branches in the West Bank and Gaza,” adding: “According to the Palestinian revolutionary law, such a measure is a great betrayal, subject to enemy agendas, intentionally helping the enemy, to harm With the forces and elements of the Palestinian revolution, and from the security of the punishment, he offended literature. “


Hamas: The Nazi occupation creates a media infusion of the exchange deal to achieve 3 goals

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Hamas announced, through an official source in it, today, Tuesday, that there is no qualitative progress in the exchange negotiations with the mediators with the Nazi occupation.

She explained in an official statement on its website, that the occupation, at its political level and its targeted media, is working to create a state of media pressure on the issue of exchange.

The movement indicated that the occupation aims, through this campaign, to evade the benefits of the initiative proposed by the movement, and to mislead the families of the Zionist prisoners.

The Nazi occupation also seeks to put pressure on the morale of the Palestinian prisoners and their families.

The movement called on everyone to refrain from building on what is reported by the programmed occupation media, and in the event of any new event, the resistance will announce it.


The Nazi occupation forces arrested four Palestinians from Jerusalem and Hebron

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Today, Thursday, four Palestinians, including a boy, were arrested by the Nazi occupation forces after they destroyed their homes in Jerusalem and Hebron.

According to local sources, the occupation forces arrested at dawn today. Ayed Abu Sneineh, Bashar Al-Qawasmeh and Ahmad Ali Hassan, after storming and searching their homes in Hebron.

She added that the Nazi occupation police forces arrested the boy, Yahya Maher Zughair, from the “middle neighborhood” in Silwan, occupied Jerusalem.

The Nazi occupation forces storm every day several cities in the West Bank and towns and villages in the city of Jerusalem, and storm and search Palestinian homes during the hours of dawn, causing panic for children and women.

Al-Shabiya reveals to Quds the reasons for its representative’s withdrawal from the Ramallah meeting

Zionist puppet Abbas: We are in solution of all the agreements signed with the occupation and America

Palestine Astronomical Observatory: Next Sunday, the first day of Eid Al-Fitr


Editors: The bank has informed us that our accounts have been closed with “high orders”.

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The step of one of the foreign banks to Palestine regarding the suspension of cards and accounts of prisoners and editors has received widespread criticism and accusations of non-affiliation and denial of an issue of the most important Palestinian priorities.

In this context, released prisoners talked about their positions with “Cairo Amman Bank”, the mechanism of informing them of disabling their ATM cards, and telling them to suspend their accounts based on a “high external decision.”

For his part, the liberated prisoner, Bilal Yamin, said that a few days ago he was surprised by a message on his mobile phone, stating that his ATM card was disabled, so he called the bank and told him at first that it was “by mistake”, adding: “I went after that to withdraw the money but the ATM reported the presence of Faulty, so I went to the branch. “

In his interview with Quds News, he explained, “I went to the bank branch in Ramallah, and the manager asked me and said:” As a brother, there is a decision from higher authorities from the bank to close your account, so I told him: You have become a partner of the occupation in implementing its policies against the prisoners. “

He explained that the bank manager told him that he expected popular opposition and accusations of patriotism. He continued, “I told him that we do not want to trump anyone, but you should also expect a violent response from the families of the prisoners, possibly taking you out of the Palestinian market after this procedure.”

According to the editor, Yamin, the branch manager asked him to withdraw his money from the bank, and to start clearing procedures with the persons whose checks are required to be paid, in an appropriate manner.

He assured “Quds” that he will go to the judiciary and assign a lawyer to file a case to try the bank, stressing: “There will be a strong reaction from the freed prisoners and the families of the prisoners, who constitute a large percentage of the Palestinian people, against the bank’s policy that has become a tool in the hands of the civilian administration of the occupation, That wants to punish the families of the prisoners and martyrs. “

Bank: orders are up

For his part, the former prisoner, Mahmoud Hammash, said, “After spending 14 years in the occupation prisons, I went out two years ago, and I joined Banque du Caire, Amman, but I was surprised by a letter stating the cancellation of my account’s ATM card.

In his interview with Quds News, he added: “I went to the Bethlehem branch, and found a number of freed prisoners and families of prisoners, so I expected a decision against the prisoners.”

He explained that the procrastination and the arguments started with the branch manager saying that he had no knowledge about the issue, and we called the main branch in Ramallah, so they said tomorrow you will receive your salaries and then we will renew the cards for you. “

The next day, according to Hammash, I went back to the branch in Bethlehem and found liberated friends, and also prisoners’ families. Then the branch manager told us clearly, that we must withdraw all our money from the accounts and close them, because there are “higher orders.”

He indicated in his speech, that the released prisoners must take steps on the ground against this policy that seeks to punish the released prisoners.

And he demanded the Palestinian Authority, the Monetary Authority and the Ministry of Finance, a clear position on what happened and they are charged with protecting us from the occupation policy to avenge us. According to Hamash.

For his part, Adel Shadid, a Palestinian researcher on Israeli affairs, said that banks are required today to determine who is their authority, is the Israeli military leader of the West Bank, or the Palestinian Authority and the Monetary Authority.

He explained that if the banks decide to choose their authority the Israeli leader, then the authority will have to answer, is it the decision-maker or the Israeli military leader.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights, PoliticsComments Off on Accusations of “Cairo Amman Bank” to suspend the accounts of freed prisoners

The Nazi occupation forces arrested 100 Palestinians, most of them from Jerusalem

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

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Nazi occupied Palestine – Jerusalem News: The United Nations humanitarian coordinator, Jimmy McGoldrick, called on the Nazi occupation state to stop the demolitions in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

In the bi-monthly report issued by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, “OCHA”, the occupation demolished 9 buildings for the Palestinians, which led to the displacement of a family of eight and damaging 19 others.

He said that the occupation demolished a house in the Ain al-Dyuk al-Tahta gathering near Jericho, which provided humanitarian aid, while it demolished five buildings that provided humanitarian aid, as well, in the Deir al-Qalt gathering.

The United Nations indicated that settlers uprooted 470 olive trees in different areas of the occupied West Bank, while physically assaulting a number of Palestinians in the Hebron and Ramallah governorates.

The weekly average of settler attacks increased by 80% since the beginning of last March, compared to January and February.

The occupation forces carried out 99 incursions and arrests in various parts of the occupied West Bank, and arrested more than 100 Palestinians, 55 of whom were from occupied Jerusalem.

The occupation forces continued their attacks against farmers on the borders with the occupied lands in eastern Gaza, where the report indicated that they had fired more than 48 times on farmers and sheep herders.

The Nazi occupying forces also hit a fisherman with rubber bullets in the head, and assaulted the boats of other fishermen during their work in the Gaza Strip sea.


The Nazi occupation issued 62 administrative detention orders last month

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The Palestinian Prisoners and Editors Affairs Authority said that the Nazi occupation authorities issued 62 “new and renewed” administrative detention orders against a number of prisoners during the month of April.

The authority stated in a statement today, Monday, that the prisoners are:

1. Muhammad Jad Allah Crusader / New Order

2. Musa Muhammad Musa Abd Rabu / a new order

3. Suhaib Ali Shukri Junaidi / A new order

4. Raafat Nimer Abdullah Al-Masalmeh / A new order

5. Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Al-Zughair / A New Order

6. Ahmed Mahmoud Yaqoub / Extension

7. Muhammad Jabr / a new order

8. Toxic safety wars / new order

9. Abdel Hadi Mohamed Elias Aisha / Extension

10. Jamal Amer Rawajbeh / Extension

11. Muhammad Osama Alawneh / Extension

12. The weight of Muhammad Hamdan / extension

13. Muhammad Raed Hawareen / Extension

14. Omar Youssef Harenat / Extension

15. Osama Mohamed Sawalmeh / Extension

16. Bilal Mahmoud Sweiti / Extension

17. Alaa Ali Shuli / Extension

18. Ali Afif Sawalmeh / Extension

19. Ahmed Nasri Rashid / Extension

20. Muhammad Ahmad Alqam / Extension

21. Nadim Ibrahim / Extension

22. Muhammad Fares / Extension

23. Ali Abdul Rahman / Extension

24. Maher Makram Burgan / Extension

25. Muhammad Mahmoud Abu Tair / A new order

26. Suhaib Yousef Saeed / Extension

27. Alaa Samih Al-Araj / Extension

28. Muhammad Fawzi Khanafsa / A New Order

29. Zaid Abdel Nasser Deaisat / Extension

30. Hassan Ziyad Awwad / Extension

31. Zahran Zahran Ibrahim Zahran / Extension

32. Muhammad Nayef Abdul Rahman / Extension

33. Musab Mustafa / Extension

34. Akram Ali Othman Salamah / Extension

35. Ismail Ahmed Hawamdeh / Extension

36. Good Facilitation of Wars / Extension

37. Hassan Mohammed Al-Zaghari / Extension

38. Omar Muhammad Khidr / Extension

39. Hatem Taher Shaheen / Extension

40. Mohamed Khafseh / A New Order

41. Ahmad Suleiman Qattamish / Extension

42. Ramiz Yousef Melhem / A New Order

43. Yusuf Balawi weighs a new order

44. Mustafa Atiya Jabreen Al-Hasanat / A new order

45. Omar Khadr Shakhsheer / new order

46. ​​Mohamed Fakhry Atrash / A New Order

47. Suleiman Salem Qassem Abdul-Rahman / Extension

48. Qasim Musa Muhammad Halayqa / Extension

49. Saji Mohammed Abdul Latif / Extension

50. Bushra Jamal Al-Tawil / Extension

51. Ahmed Abdullah Burgan / Extension

52. Rami Rizk Fayek Fadayel / Extension

53. Muhammad Abdul Karim Faraj Allah / Extension

54. Ja`far Abdullah روجAroj / Extension

55. Nabil Naeem Ishaq Al-Natsheh / Extension

56. Hassan Ibrahim Dawood / Extension

57. Hamza Nader Azmy Abu Hillayel / Extension

58. Fathi Hamad Allah Sharif Arar / Extension

59. Issam Hussein Mohammed Al-Mashareqa / Extension

60. Mahmoud Mohamed Mahmoud Abu Zada ​​/ Extension

61. Mubarak Alyan Mohamed Ziadat / Extension

62. Jawad Muhammad Yahya Jad Allah Al-Jabari / Extension


Editor Mohamed Bisharat was released from captivity to fight cancer

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The health condition of cancer editor Muhammad Mahmoud Bisharat, 42, from Tamoun, near Tubas, in the occupied West Bank, has deteriorated.

The Palestinian Prisoner Club said in a statement that the editor, Bisharat, was released last year after spending his 17-year sentence, and he suffered six months before his liberation from serious health symptoms. During this period, the Prison Administration of Israel prolonged the diagnosis of the disease, and only transmitted it. Frequent prison clinics, and give him painkillers.

Until the last two months before his release date, a doctor at Megiddo Prison informed him that his symptoms indicated that he had cancer.

After his release in June 2019, his condition fell sharply, where he conducted a series of medical examinations, which confirmed that he had cancer in the glands, and started a continuous treatment trip until today, and two days ago there was a new deterioration in his health condition, where he lost consciousness and was transferred again to Hospital, it was found a problem in one of the main arteries in the brain.

The club affirmed that the case of the prisoner is another indication of witness to the crime of medical negligence (slow killing) to which the prisoners are subjected, and with its tools, most notably the policy of procrastination.

Over the past decades, dozens of editors have suffered from serious illnesses that accompanied them after their release, except for the prisoners who were martyred in the Nazi occupation Camp as a result of medical negligence, there are a number of others who were martyred after their release shortly after the liberation, including: “Hayel Abu Zaid and Sitan al-Wali From the Golan, Fayez Zaidat, Murad Abu Sakout, Zakaria Issa, Zuhair Lubbadah, Ashraf Abu Dhurya, Jaafar Awad and Naeem Al-Shawamreh. ”

The Prisoners Club renewed its demand for the need for serious intervention to release the sick prisoners, especially with the continued spread of the epidemic. It is noteworthy that about 700 prisoners in the occupation prisons suffer from various diseases, including about ten prisoners suffering from cancer and tumors of varying degrees.

Updated It coincided with violent confrontations … a campaign of arrests and sweeping raids in Nazi occupied Jerusalem

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The Nazi occupation forces launched a campaign of arrests and sweeps in the city of Jerusalem at dawn today, Tuesday.

Since the early hours of the dawn, the occupation forces stormed the village of al-Issawiyah, northeast of the city, and spread to a number of its neighborhoods.

It also began a raid on the homes of a number of Palestinians, as youths confronted them with stones, Molotov cocktails and fireworks.

This was followed by violent clashes between the two sides, during which the occupation forces fired grenades, sound and rubber bullets, and no injuries were reported among the Palestinians.

After hours, the occupation forces launched a campaign of raids on Palestinian homes, to arrest each of Mahmoud Ramadan Obaid, Mahmoud Muhammad Obaid, Diaa Ayman Obaid, Amir Awad, Youssef Ali Al-Kiswani, Abboud Derbas, and Dawood Obaid.

They also raided the homes of other youths in the village to arrest them, but they were not in their homes the moment the Israeli forces stormed.

On the same level, the occupation forces arrested Major General Bilal Al-Natsheh, Secretary-General of the National People’s Congress for Jerusalem from the Old City, and his assistant, Major General Imad Awad and Lt. Col. Muadh Al-Ashhab from the town of Beit Hanina.

The sources pointed out that the occupation forces searched their homes accurately, causing damage to them, before arresting them and transferring them to Gestapo investigation center.

The Nazi occupation forces stormed the town of Al-Tur, east of the city, and raided the house of the author, Rania Hatem, then searched and arrested her, and took her to investigate.

Jad Allah Al-Ghoul was also arrested from his house in the town of Silwan, and the head of the Islamic Cemetery Committee, Hajj Mustafa Abu Zahra, after they raided and searched his house in Jerusalem.


The Nazi occupation issues 360 administrative detention decisions since the beginning of this year

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The occupation authorities have issued 360 administrative detention orders since the beginning of this year, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Studies Center.

The Center said in a statement today, Tuesday, that despite the Corona pandemic and calls for the release of administrative prisoners held without charge, the Nazi military occupation courts continue to issue administrative orders, where 360 ​​administrative decisions have been monitored since the beginning of this year.

He added that the occupation did not stop issuing administrative detention orders against the Palestinian prisoners despite the real danger to their lives, in light of the spread of the Corona pandemic and the appeals issued by many international institutions, including the United Nations, to the need to release the detained administrators without indictments.

He explained that among the decisions, 242 decisions were issued to renew administrative detention for periods ranging between two months to six months, and up to five times for some prisoners, while 118 administrative decisions were issued against prisoners for the first time, most of whom were released prisoners who were re-arrested.

He stated that three women prisoners are still being held without administrative detention; Bushra Al-Tawil (26 years) from Al-Bireh, Shurooq Muhammad Al-Badan (26 years) from Bethlehem, and Shatha Hassan from Ramallah, and two underage children are under administrative detention.

And the Nazi occupation is holding about 450 administrative prisoners in its prisons, most of whom are released prisoners who spent different periods of time in prisons and were re-arrested again, including three members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. 

The Center considered that administrative detention is a criminal policy, aimed at depleting the ages of Palestinians behind bars without a legal basis, except for the whims of the intelligence service officers who manage this file, and dictates instructions for moot courts to issue new administrative orders or renew for other periods based on secret files that no one is allowed to see .

He also called on international institutions to urgently intervene to release the detained administrative prisoners without charge, in light of concerns over the prisoners ’lives that Corona virus has arrived in Nazi Camp.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on The Nazi occupation forces arrested 100 Palestinians, most of them from Jerusalem

Harvard Doctor: As States Rush to Reopen, Lack of COVID-19 Testing Is “Achilles Heel” for U.S.

TOPICS

GUESTS
  • Dr. Ashish Jhaprofessor of global health and the director of Harvard University’s Global Health Institute.

LINKS

President Trump claimed Monday he’s been taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, even though multiple studies show the drug can be dangerous and is not an effective treatment for COVID-19. This comes as the U.S. COVID-19 death count tops 90,000 and all 50 U.S. states prepare to partially reopen by Memorial Day. We speak with Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of Harvard University’s Global Health Institute, who says that testing needs to vastly improve in order for widespread reopenings. He calls the lack of accurate tests in the U.S. the nation’s “Achilles heel,” saying, “The testing saga will go down as one of the big fiascos that led to us being where we are today.”


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, here in New York City. Juan González is joining us from his home in New Jersey. As the COVID-19 death toll tops 90,000 in the United States, President Trump claimed Monday he’s been taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, even though multiple studies show the drug can be dangerous, is not effective in treating COVID-19.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Good things have come out about the hydroxy. A lot of good things have come out. And you’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers, before you catch it. The frontline workers, many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it. I happen to be taking it.

REPORTER 1: Hydroxychloroquine?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine.

REPORTER 2: Right now?

REPORTER 3: When?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Right now, yeah.

REPORTER 3: Yeah, when?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Couple of weeks ago, started taking it.

REPORTER 4: Why, sir?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right: I’m not going to get hurt by it.

AMY GOODMAN: The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about self-medicating with hydroxychloroquine last month, following Trump’s repeated remarks touting its effectiveness.

President Trump’s announcement came as he ramped up attacks on the World Health Organization, threatening Monday to pull out of the international organization entirely and permanently freeze U.S. funding over its, quote, “failed response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population but almost a third of the confirmed COVID-19 infections worldwide. Despite these numbers and a quarter of the worldwide deaths in the United States, all 50 states will at least partially reopen by Memorial Day weekend, even as infection rates in many states continue to rise. Only 16 states are currently seeing downward trends in cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Well, for more, we’re going to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where we’re joined by Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of Harvard University’s Global Health Institute, a professor of global health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

We welcome you, Doctor, to Democracy Now! Let’s begin with this, I guess, bombshell that Trump dropped yesterday, because the impact it has all over the country, not possibly just on his own health, when he said that he started about a week and half ago, presumably after his personal aide, valet, tested positive for COVID-19 — he said he’s now taking hydroxychloroquine. Now, this flies in the face of the latest studies. If you can tell us what they are and what you thought when you first heard this?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, thanks for having me on. I was — I have to tell you, I was pretty surprised. If I was his personal physician, I would not have recommended it. I would have actually recommended very strongly against it. There is no evidence, that I’m aware of, that hydroxychloroquine is helpful in preventing getting coronavirus, COVID, if you’ve been exposed. And we know that it does have toxicities. Almost every medicines have some toxicities. And while hydroxychloroquine is reasonably safe under close medical supervision, it still has real side effects. And I just — I think the risk-benefit here is all wrong for the president. And I personally don’t think he should be taking this medicine.

AMY GOODMAN: And the effect this has on people? There will be a rush on hydroxychloroquine, of course, if the president is taking it, or requests of doctors to give it. And also, isn’t it simply a message? Like we see with his approach to climate change and the climate crisis, it’s just this anti-science slap.

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, we want our leaders to model good behavior, right? And part of that is that we do have a scientific approach to coronavirus. We do have one therapy now that looks like it’s going to work. That’s remdesivir, though that’s right now really only for sick people in the hospital. And when the president really kind of goes off where the scientific consensus is and starts doing things on his own that are really against the scientific consensus, I think it is harmful. And I think what happens is a lot of people decide, “Well, he must know something that others don’t,” and will try to emulate that, and that will end up being harmful for those people’s health, as well.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dr. Jha, I wanted to ask you this. These contradictions here of, on the one hand, federal health officials saying one thing to the general public, allowing individual states to develop their own policies, while, on the other hand, the president, as a lone ranger, occasionally either contradicting the states or contradicting his own federal health officials, what this does to the ability of the country to develop a systematic plan to confront the coronavirus?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah, this has been one of the biggest challenges in this outbreak. You know, the federal leadership has really been lacking. And at times it’s been — the federal approach has been downright harmful. So, for instance, they came up with a plan for how states can open safely. It was called “Open Up America Again.” And it was pretty good. I mean, there were parts of it I disagreed with, but it was generally in the right direction. And then the president has spent the last couple of weeks essentially undermining his own plan. And that creates an incredible amount of confusion in states, who don’t know: Should they be listening to his plan, or should they be listening to his tweets? And that’s a — there shouldn’t be any separation between the two. And it’s very confusing, and that has left a lot of states to try to sort all this out on their own without any federal guidance, and, in fact, at times, contradictory federal guidance.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about what the states are pursuing? About 48 states now are partially reopening this week. Fifty will have partially reopened by Memorial Day. What is your sense, especially given the fact that several of these states are still seeing upticks in the number of cases?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, if we go back to that initial guidance that I mentioned, which I thought was generally right, you know, the main principles were you should see declining cases for 14 days or very, very low number of cases, and you should have adequate testing and tracing capacity. Very few states meet all of those.

And my general feeling is, I get that people are kind of antsy to get back to work, to the extent possible. Obviously, for a lot of poor people, this has been an extraordinarily difficult financial hardship, as hourly wage workers, others.

So, what we really need is a very careful, very slow plan. And, you know, some states, I think, are being responsible. Other states, where cases are still rising and yet they’re opening up bars, that worries me immensely about what’s going to happen there, in terms of both spike in cases and eventually maybe having to shut down again because their outbreak gets out of control.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Dr. Jha, can you talk about the significance of testing, this critical issue? President Trump stood in the Rose Garden against a banner that said the U.S. leads the world in testing, when, in fact, when President Trump started to begin to hear about the pandemic, you know, the intelligence agencies, his own heads of agencies saying you have to move, as late as — as early as January, even December — what he keeps touting is he pushed this Chinese travel ban. But if he thought it was that significant at that time to push the ban, this issue of immediately ramping up testing and getting PPE, personal protective equipment, to people all over this country — first and foremost, healthcare workers, of course.

Start off by talking about what happened with testing at the beginning. You’re very critical of the CDC. But also, what it means even today, the fact that here in New York City, if you are not symptomatic but you want to get a test — and we know that more than half of people that are infecting others are not symptomatic — you cannot get a test, unless you have some special connection, even though President Trump insists that that’s not true?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, the testing saga will go down as sort of one of the big fiascos that led to us being where we are today. There’s no question in my mind that this has really been one of the Achilles heels of our entire response.

So, the saga really begins in later part of January, when the World Health Organization offered up a test kit that was developed by a German virologist, and it was available to countries around the world, including the United States. The U.S. decided not to use the WHO test kit. Now, that’s not a totally unreasonable decision. The CDC — it was a premier public health agency — has a lot of experience building its own tests, so it built its own test. OK, that’s reasonable. It’s fine. Problem was that test failed. It got contaminated, and it didn’t work. And weeks and weeks and weeks went by. And private labs —

AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] use the World Health Organization test, which was proven, which worked. It was there.

DR. ASHISH JHA: It was there. And what should have happened is, at the moment that CDC realized its test failed, it should have gone back and gotten the WHO test kit and started using that while it was fixing its own. But instead, we wasted all of the rest of January, all of February, into early March. We prevented private labs from making tests, and we didn’t really build one ourselves in the public sector. And so we found ourselves in March with a large outbreak and no real testing capacity.

And that was, in my mind, the main reason we had to shut our economy down, is because we just could not figure out who was infected and who was not, and the best way to stop exponential growth at that point is to have everybody shelter in place. But that’s a very costly way to slow down a viral outbreak. But you have to do it if you don’t have a good testing infrastructure.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Dr. Jha, now we have various types of tests that have been produced, and some of them with disturbingly high percentages of false negatives. What about the quality control now, that should be the federal government’s responsibility in terms of determining what’s the best test to use?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, what’s really important for your viewers and listeners to know is that there are two types of tests and two broad categories of tests. There’s antibody testing and then testing for the virus. And testing for the virus is mainly what we’ve been talking about so far. We can talk about antibody testing, which is another important but unrelated issue.

On the testing for the virus, the primary approaches we have do have a false negative rate. They vary from 10 to 30%. And some of that is a quality control issue, but some of it is just the reality of the virus that we’re trying to test for. It may be early in the disease course. You may not have enough virus. You may not get a good sample. And that’s why you often actually need to be testing people more than once, if they have what looks like coronavirus but test negative. I really do think that on the issue of that, the problem has been we’ve been too slow to develop new technologies.

On antibody testing, it’s been a mess in terms of quality control. That’s where the quality control problems have been really rampant. But on the virus testing, it’s been primarily an issue of just not being able to ramp up and do enough of these tests. There are some quality control problems, but, to me, that’s not — hasn’t been the biggest concern on the virus testing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you — at the international level, there are great disparities between where COVID-19 is spreading in countries around the world. For instance, I mean, the startling situation of the island of Hispaniola, where, in the Dominican Republic, there are more than 7,600 confirmed cases, but right across the border on the same island, in Haiti, it’s about only 85. Do you think that there are any genetic issues in terms of which populations are more disposed to being affected by COVID-19?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, you know, one way to think about this is, we are early in this pandemic. The way I’ve sort of often described it, using a baseball analogy, is that we’re probably in the top of the third inning of a nine-inning baseball game, meaning that we have a long way to go. And in the early days, you’re going to see a lot of variations in who’s been infected, where the disease has spread. It’s going to be driven in large part by things like travel, where did the virus first show up. There’s a certain amount of idiosyncratic features.

I am not convinced — I haven’t seen any data that any group of humans are more susceptible than others in terms of populations. Obviously, older people are more susceptible. But I mean, you know, are Haitians more or less susceptible than Dominicans? Are Indians more or less susceptible than Chinese? I don’t see any data out there that makes me think that’s a major factor.

I think social structure, I think resources, I think travel — all those other things are much bigger determinants of where we’re seeing the outbreaks so far. But six months from now, the picture may look very, very different. And so, we just have to remember that we’re still early.

AMY GOODMAN: What about Africa? I mean, we don’t see large numbers in Africa. Is that because of lack of testing? I mean, South Africa is dealing with this. Kenya is dealing with this, of course. And Kenya has just shut down its borders to Somalia and Tanzania. But is it because it’s a much younger population, or the other issues you just mentioned?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, Africa, the entire African continent, has been interesting. It has done better so far than I was expecting, just to be very frank. I was deeply worried. I still remain worried. And I remain worried because, again, it is still early days, but so far they have done better than I was worried they might.

And so, the questions are why. One is, certainly it is possible that, you know, you have a younger population, and so, even if they’re getting infected; maybe the lack of robust testing; maybe the lack of a very substantial surveillance system; maybe missing a lot of cases. I think that’s possible. There may be some seasonality issues. There is reason to believe that warmer, more humid temperatures lead to lower levels of transmission. That might be playing a factor. There’s a variety of kind of theories out there.

I hope, obviously, that the entire continent ends up being spared. I will tell you that I worry that as time goes on we’re going to see more and more outbreaks across the African continent. Obviously, lots of variation across the continent, but I worry a lot about that. And I always hope that I’m wrong on that. So, we’ll see how that plays out, but we’re still early days.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you about the vaccine situation. Of course, we saw the news yesterday about Moderna’s vaccine showing some promise, and of course the stock market immediately having a major rally as a result. What is your assessment of how long it will take to produce a vaccine, and, of course, then the issue of mass producing it in sufficient numbers for the entire planet?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, you know, among public health people, I tend to be on the optimistic side. So you should know that, because what I’m going to tell you, obviously, my views, is a bit more optimistic than I think where most public health people are. But that said, let me give you my views on this.

I am pretty optimistic we’re going to have a vaccine. I am very optimistic that that vaccine will come in 2021. It’s very, very hard for me to see a vaccine being safe, effective and widely available in 2020. I just — I can’t quite figure out how that would happen. Obviously, again, love to be wrong, but I think sometime in 2021, and I’m guessing probably mid-2021 is my best guess.

Now let’s talk about where we are on vaccines. There are over a hundred different efforts to build a vaccine. There are eight that are in clinical trials, and a few of them are moving along very nicely. There’s Moderna. There’s the Oxford one. There’s one in — actually, two in China that are both also potentially promising. There are others in Europe. So, there’s a lot of activity here. I have no idea which of these vaccines will play out and when, right? I have no idea which one will turn out to be safe or effective. Any of them could. It could be that we have five or six vaccines that work. I don’t know, but I am very confident that one of them will.

And one of the reasons I’m so confident is that we have been able to show that we really can induce immunity to this virus. We know that people clear the virus. They get a pretty robust immune response. And so, scientifically, believing that we’re going to have a vaccine in 2021, I think, is a pretty fair assumption.

Now, the other question of — OK, you have a vaccine, let’s say. You know, you do the testing. It’s safe. It’s effective. How do we make sure everybody gets it? And that is going to be a massive challenge. And there’s a huge set of production issues. There’s a huge set of distribution issues, equity issues. I think it’s incredibly important that people in India get it, people in Kenya get it, people in the United States get it, people in China get it. And that is going to require a certain amount of global coordination. It’s going to require a certain amount of global solidarity. And I worry a little bit about kind of where we are heading — certainly our political leadership, but other political leaders, too — in terms of that movement towards global solidarity.

AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] to Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr. Tal Zaks.

DR. TAL ZAKS: We can indeed, with this vaccine, induce an immune response in everybody that received the vaccine, and that immune response generates the kind of antibodies that one would hope to generate, antibodies that can neutralize the virus, and that we can get to the levels of antibodies that are those seen in people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, or, in fact, even exceed those levels.

AMY GOODMAN: So, I wanted to go to this issue, this test that was done by Moderna that everyone is holding out such hope in, although you talk about a bunch of others, Dr. Jha. This was just done on eight people, right? It’s in the first phase of the trial. And it showed that they produced antibodies. And then explain — and safety, that it didn’t kill them. The shot didn’t kill them. Explain what then has to happen, how this ramps up, because President Trump so quickly just throws out things, and it’s hard to put them in a kind of scientific context to understand what we should take seriously. And then, your most critical point, like Jonas Salk with the polio vaccine, how it’s made free for all?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. So, basically, what I would say to folks is, you’re going to see a lot of sensational headlines in the upcoming days, weeks and months, because we’re all paying attention, and we’re all hoping. And I generally think it’s important to listen to scientists, and less to politicians, and especially when politicians really go off and start saying things that are not science-based.

In terms of where the Moderna vaccine is, again, eight people, phase one, early days, right? But encouraging early days. Like, the effect that those eight people developed a level of immune response that we’ve seen with people who have cleared the infection, the fact that their antibodies were neutralizing — could neutralize the virus, that all is very, very encouraging.

Now, there is a lot between here and having that vaccine be produced safely and effectively for hundreds of millions or billions of people. There are many, many steps along the way. We’ve got to give it to a much larger group of folks. We’ve got to make sure that — you know, imagine if the vaccine kills one in 500 people, which would be an incredibly bad outcome — I’m not saying it does, by the way. It’s been shown to be very safe. You’re not going to pick that up in small studies. You need to study it in large enough people to identify untoward effects. So, we’ve got to do that. We’ve got to do that, and then we really have to make sure that those neutralizing antibodies do protect people.

And we’re going to have to think about how do we test that, not in a laboratory, but actually — I mean, are we going to expose people to live virus? There are people who have suggested that. Are we going to give it to healthcare workers who are on the frontlines, and then look to see if any of them get infected?

There’s a lot of work ahead, because if we don’t build a vaccine that’s safe and effective, but certainly safe, people aren’t going to want to take it. And so, that is really an incredibly important part of this, moving forward. And then, of course, there is a ramp-up of how do you then produce billions of doses of the vaccine in a way that, again, people are going to feel confident — healthy people are going to feel confident giving it to their kids, giving it to themselves, giving to their parents. Those are going to be really important issues.

AMY GOODMAN: Very quick —

DR. ASHISH JHA: Again, I have no — I think we can get there, sorry, but it’s going to be work. Please.

AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, you’re talking to us from Harvard, one of many schools in this country. It has more chance of surviving than a number of other schools if they don’t reopen. But can you talk about the decisions? You have places like Northeastern, that’s saying, “We’re open, starting in the fall.” You have places like Notre Dame that are saying, “We’re going to open early and then end by Thanksgiving,” also University of Alabama, “because we expect there to be a surge in December, and so we want the kids out by Thanksgiving, and then they won’t come back for a while.” Can you talk about the decision? And not only colleges, of course, high schools, elementary schools. What must go into this decision? And what do you think should happen?

DR. ASHISH JHA: Yeah. As you might imagine, this is not just a conversation I’m having with lots of public health people and education officials, but also at home with the kids about what’s going to happen in the fall.

The way I think about this is there’s going — what is likely to happen is a lot of variations. Some schools are going to open, some schools are going to stay online. What should drive the decision-making? Well, one is how much community transmission is happening in that place at that time. So, if we’re thinking about Harvard University, for instance, how much community transmission is happening in eastern Massachusetts? If a lot of people are getting infected and sick, it’s going to be very hard for Harvard or any university in eastern Massachusetts to open.

Second is around availability of testing. I think you have to have a strategy where you’re going to have to be able to test kids and staff and faculty on an ongoing basis.

Third is you’re going to have to do certain social distancing things. There are going to be no large classes. There should be no large classes. There should be — if you’re going to do sporting events, certainly not with any kind of spectators, and you have to really think about what sporting events can you justify and how do you do that.

So there’s a lot of changes that are going to need to happen. I like the idea of starting early and trying to end early. I think most of us believe there will be a surge of cases in the fall. All the principles I just laid out need to happen for primary and secondary schools, as well, really rethinking things like cafeteria, rethinking things like sports. And if we do all of that, I believe there’s a very, very good chance that we can open up schools, we can get kids back to school in the fall. It may not look like a normal fall, but if we can get through this fall and we have a vaccine early in 2021, we can get through this pandemic.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Dr. Ashish Jha, we want to thank you so much for being with us, professor of global health and director of Harvard University’s Global Health Institute.

When we come back, can local journalism survive the pandemic? Tens of thousands of journalists have lost their jobs, been furloughed or received pay cuts as newsrooms continue to shrink or shutter. Stay with us.

Posted in USA, Health, PoliticsComments Off on Harvard Doctor: As States Rush to Reopen, Lack of COVID-19 Testing Is “Achilles Heel” for U.S.

UK government ‘using pandemic to transfer NHS duties to private sector’

Critics claim Matt Hancock has accelerated dismantling of state healthcare

Juliette Garside and Rupert Neate

Matt Hancock at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London in April.
 Matt Hancock at the opening of the NHS Nightingale hospital in London. The consultancy firm KPMG coordinated its setting up. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The government is using the coronavirus pandemic to transfer key public health duties from the NHS and other state bodies to the private sector without proper scrutiny, critics have warned.

Doctors, campaign groups, academics and MPs raised the concerns about a “power grab” after it emerged on Monday that Serco was in pole position to win a deal to supply 15,000 call-handlers for the government’s tracking and tracing operation.

They said the health secretary, Matt Hancock, had “accelerated” the dismantling of state healthcare and that the duty to keep the public safe was being “outsourced” to the private sector.

In recent weeks, ministers have used special powers to bypass normal tendering and award a string of contracts to private companies and management consultants without open competition.

Deloitte, KPMG, Serco, Sodexo, Mitie, Boots and the US data mining group Palantir have secured taxpayer-funded commissions to manage Covid-19 drive-in testing centres, the purchasing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the building of Nightingale hospitals.

Now, the Guardian has seen a letter from the Department of Health to NHS trusts instructing them to stop buying any of their own PPE and ventilators.

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From Monday, procurement of a list of 16 items must be handled centrally. Many of the items on the list, such as PPE, are in high demand during the pandemic, while others including CT scanners, mobile X-ray machines and ultrasounds are high-value machines that are used more widely in hospitals.

Centralising purchasing is likely to hand more responsibility to Deloitte. As well as co-ordinating Covid-19 test centres and logistics at three new “lighthouse” laboratories created to process samples, the accounting and management consultancy giant secured a contract several weeks ago to advise central government on PPE purchases.

The firm said it was providing operational support for the procurement process of PPE from existing and new manufacturers, but declined to comment further.

“The government must not allow the current crisis to be used as cover to extend the creeping privatisation of the NHS,” said Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

“The process for the management and purchase of medical supplies must be open, transparent and subject to full scrutiny. Deloitte’s track record of delivering PPE to the frontline since this virus began is not one of success and taking more decision-making authority from NHS managers and local authorities shifts power further from the frontline.”

Tony O’Sullivan, a retired paediatrician who co-chairs the campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, said this was a “dangerous time” for the NHS, and that the “error-ridden response” from government had exposed a decade of underfunding.

“Now, rather than learning from those errors they are compounding them by centralising decision-making but outsourcing huge responsibility for the safety of the population to private companies,” said O’Sullivan.

Allyson Pollock, the director of the Newcastle University Centre for Excellence in Regulatory Science, said tasks including testing, contact tracing and purchasing should be handled through regional authorities rather than central government.

“We are beginning to see the construction of parallel structures, having eviscerated the old ones,” she said. “I don’t think this is anything new, it just seems to be accelerated under Matt Hancock. These structures are completely divorced from local residents, local health services and local communities.”

Friday’s letter, signed by two officials from the Department of Health and Social Care, says that from Monday key equipment will be purchased through a procurement team comprising hundreds of staff from the government’s commercial function and other departments.

 2The cross-Government team is keen to work jointly with you to review procurementlists and to understand your market intelligence to see where aligned nationalprocurement is helpful now as well as to monitor the evolving situation. Heads ofprocurement from a number of NHS trusts will help provide this insight. Moreinformation on this will be shared in due course. Local procurement of critical suppliesDetails of any significant procurement already in progress of the items listed in Annex A should be flagged to these heads of procurement. The national team canhelp you to conclude the deal, reimburse you, and manage the products through thenational stocks. Several trust procurement teams have already worked with nationalcolleagues, in the interests of the whole NHS, to complete these kinds of dealssuccessfully and we are enormously grateful for their help.Local procurement of other supplies (those not in Annex A) can continue as norma

Global demand for equipment has been “unprecedented”, according to the letter, and it is therefore “vital that the UK government procures items nationally, rather than individual NHS organisations compete with each other for the same supplies”.

Trusts are told to flag any purchases already in progress so that these can be taken over by the central team and put into a central pot. “The national team can help you to conclude the deal, reimburse you, and manage the products through the national stocks.”

In a separate email, sent from NHS England on Saturday, trusts have been instructed to carry out a daily stock check from the beginning of this week. They must report down to the nearest 100 their stores of 13 types of protective equipment, including gloves, aprons, masks, gowns and eye protection. The information is being gathered by Palantir, a data processing company co-founded by the Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.

The information will be used to distribute equipment to those trusts most in need, and in some cases move stock from one hospital to another.

A purchasing manager, speaking anonymously, said hospitals were concerned they might be forced to hand over stock and then run out before it could be replaced. “The lead time on some of these orders is 90 days,” said the manager. “Centrally, there is nobody who is able to deliver things more quickly. What this is going to do is force people to hide what they’ve got.”

“This coronavirus pandemic is being used to privatise yet more of our NHS against the wishes of the public, and without transparency and accountability,” said Cat Hobbs, director of campaign group We Own It. “This work should be done within the NHS. It shouldn’t be outsourced.”

“This is not the time for a power grab,” said the Labour MP Rosie Cooper, who sits on the health and social care committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the management of the outbreak. “Whatever contracts are awarded they have got to have a sunset clause. Three months, six months, it has got to be shown to be cost effective for it to continue after a certain date,” she said.

The Department of Health was contacted for comment.

Outsourcing

Testing centres

Contracts to operate drive-through coronavirus testing centres were awarded under special pandemic rules through a fast-track process without open competition. The contracts, the value of which has not been disclosed, were granted to accountants Deloitte, which is managing logistics at a national level. Deloitte then appointed outsourcing specialists Serco, Mitie, G4S and Sodexo, and the pharmacy chain Boots, to manage the centres.

Lab tests

A coalition of private companies and public bodies have come together to form Lighthouse Labs, to test samples in three centres in Milton Keynes, Cheshire and Glasgow. Deloitte is handling payroll, rotas and other logistics, working alongside pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, as well as the army and private companies Amazon and Boots.

Nightingale hospitals

Dozens of private companies have won contracts to build, run and support the Nightingale hospitals. Consultancy firm KPMG coordinated the setting up of the first Nightingale at the ExCel centre in east London alongside military planners. Infrastructure consultants including Mott MacDonald and Archus also had roles in the project.

Outsourcing firm Interserve worked on the construction of the Birmingham Nightingale hospital at the NEC, and was awarded a contract to hire about 1,500 staff to run the Manchester Nightingale. G4S secured the contract to supply security guards for all the Nightingale hospitals.

Recruiting extra NHS and hospital staff

Capita, another outsourcing firm, was awarded a contract to help the NHS “vet and onboard thousands of returning nurses and doctors”.

PPE

The government appointed Deloitte to help it ramp up British production of protective equipment and source stocks from the UK and abroad. Some figures in the UK manufacturing industry have described the project as a “disaster” and accused Deloitte of pursuing factories in China – where prices have leapt and supply is tight due to huge global demand – rather than focusing on retooling UK factories to make more kit.

Clipper Logistics, a Yorkshire-based logistics and supply chain firm founded by the Conservative donor Steve Parkin, was awarded government contract to supply and deliver protective equipment to NHS trusts, care homes other healthcare workers.

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Exploiting Pandemic, Trump Admin Weighs Banning Immigration Indefinitely

A Customs and Border Protection agent is seen wearing a face mask as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, at San Ysidro crossing from Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on April 23, 2020, on the U.S.-Mexico border.
A Customs and Border Protection agent is seen wearing a face mask as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, at San Ysidro crossing from Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on April 23, 2020, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

BYSasha AbramskyTruthout

Despair and Disparity: The Uneven Burdens of COVID-19

Earlier this week, the Trump administration started hinting that the president’s “temporary” ban on immigration, rushed into effect in late April as a part of the pandemic response, was about to be extended indefinitely.

With the country entirely preoccupied by the public health and economic catastrophes, and with protest all but impossible given the dangers of congregating in large crowds, Trump’s team has, apparently, decided to seize the moment and lock down the country in a way that even the most restrictive, nativist policies of the 1920s and the quota era in immigration never did.

The rationale will apparently be a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declaration that immigration poses a public health risk during the pandemic — despite the fact that fully one third of the world’s cases now are within the U.S.; that an immigrant is far more likely to contract COVID-19 once he or she arrives in the country than to bring the disease into the country themselves. And once such a declaration is made, Trump will, if the reports are correct, then ban all immigration until such time as the CDC head declares the public health crisis over — a formula that will, in effect, give Trump unlimited power to shut the U.S. off from the rest of the world for so long as he remains in the White House.

It is an extraordinary power grab, the true emergence of rule by diktat rather than by legislation. In one fell swoop, while our attention is elsewhere, this action threatens to turn the U.S. into a closed society that not only shuns economic immigrants, that not only blocks family unification, but that also no longer pays even lip service to the notions of asylum and of refugee resettlement — ideas that are utterly central to the rules-based international system.

Now, it’s not as if we haven’t had fair warning that such vile policies were in the offing. After all, from his first day in office, from that ghastly “American carnage” inauguration speech that ushered in the Trump era in all its shattering, coarse brutalism, in all its racism and institutionalized cruelty, Trump has been steadily ratcheting up the anti-immigrant rhetoric. When the history books are written, Trump’s years in office will be seen as a Black Book of anti-immigrant atrocities, from the Muslim travel ban to family separation, from the imprisoning of children to the parading of unaccompanied toddlers before immigration judges, from the wanton assault on Temporary Protected Status and on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, to the decision to start deporting asylum seekers back to supposedly safe third countries — such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — that have some of the highest murder rates in the world.

And that was all pre-pandemic. In the last few months, with the COVID-19 crisis spiraling out of control, Trump’s team seems to have hit on a strategy of relentless bashing-the-foreigner in lieu of a coherent and effective strategy to tame the pandemic stateside and to stanch the economic bleed that has come about from shelter-in-place measures intended to slow the disease’s spread.

Back in late January, when the world was hoping against hope that the coronavirus outbreak could be contained within China, the administration barred flights from China, and prohibited entry into the country of most Chinese nationals as well as others who had recently transited through China. In March, in a series of seemingly improvised responses as it became clear the virus was going global, the lockout and lockdown was ratcheted up. First, flights from Europe were banned. After that, the land borders with both Mexico and Canada were sealed. And finally, on April 21, at the urging of Stephen Miller, Trump’s Svengali of xenophobia, a “temporary” 60-day ban on all immigration was announced.

In reality the “total” ban was actually far less restrictive – allowing the spouses of green card holders to enter, as well as those with visas for skilled work and temporary employment in essential services such as agriculture. And, as a temporary measure, it was, in fact, largely symbolic, the throwing of red meat to Trump’s xenophobic base: With global air travel largely grounded, with consulates and embassies shuttered, and with most countries having locking down their own borders, it was highly unlikely there was going to be a rush of new immigration this spring.

Yet, even in its watered-down form, it remained an extraordinary moment: The U.S., at presidential behest, was closing itself off from the rest of the world.

Ostensibly, the rationale for this completely unprecedented move was a public health one. But Trump immediately telegraphed the real reason, tweeting out that he didn’t want immigrants competing with Americans for jobs – and implicitly attempting to shift the blame for the economic implosion from his administration’s startling mishandling of the crisis onto the backs of immigrants, of poor people, of people of color.

This was, clearly, xenophobic twaddle. It made no economic sense and no public health sense. But it did telegraph to Trump’s supporters that he was ramping up his nationalism to heights previously only dreamt of by small internet cadres of “accelerationists,” fascist groupings that have been strategizing online about using the crisis to push their nationalist, anti-democratic vision, and who believe the pandemic presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mold the world to their white supremacist ideology.

Under cover of the public health emergency, at Trump’s orders, the Border Patrol began summarily throwing back into Mexico thousands of people, including at least 600 children in April, who had sought asylum after being apprehended north of the border without papers. The impact has been entirely catastrophic: Since the lockdown, only two people – yes, you read that correctly – have been granted refuge after crossing the southern border and claiming asylum. Human rights groups report that many hundreds of those returned to Mexico and to Central America have suffered everything from rape and kidnapping to murder.

Meanwhile, at the state level, the rule of law is under perhaps the gravest threat from white nationalists and militia groups that it has faced since the Civil War. For weeks now, Trump has been tweeting about “liberating” states like Michigan and Pennsylvania – states with Democratic governors but with GOP control of at least one of the legislative chambers. Now, armed militias are taking him at his word.Trump has been urging paramilitary groupings to “liberate” states from their duly elected leadership. And now those groupings are taking to the streets.

In Michigan, for two weeks in a row, heavily armed militias have entered the Capitol building, and the governor is reportedly receiving countless death threats. On Wednesday, the GOP-controlled legislature chose to adjourn so as not to antagonize the heavily armed thugs who had threatened to take over their chamber.

Let’s not mince words here: Trump has been urging paramilitary groupings to “liberate” states from their duly elected leadership. And now those groupings are taking to the streets. That’s how armed, fascist, putsches start. Where the Nazis had their Munich Beer Hall putsch, Trump apparently wants a Michigan Bowling Alley putsch. And, since Trump has all the power of the presidency at his disposal, when he eggs on armed insurrection against elected officials, he is quite literally flirting with civil war — or, at the very least, regional civil chaos.

From the southern border to Lansing, Michigan, at the urging of the president of the republic, the rule of law is breaking down at a startling pace. We ignore this at our peril. No matter how preoccupied we are with lost jobs and a deadly virus, we cannot afford to ignore what is happening. Trump is using the fog of the pandemic to replace constitutional governance with one-man rule; to replace the rule of law by the rule of brute force. His accelerationist minions believe this is their moment, that they can use the crisis to permanently shut out poor and non-white immigrants, and that, with the presidential seal of approval, they can use force of arms to get their political way in states led by governors with whom they disagree.

There is no turning back from this dark road. The president is siding with armed insurrectionists in their opposition to public health regulations and to Democratic governors. He is siding with white supremacists in their efforts to seal U.S. borders and wither the immigration system. It is up to us to oppose them with every fiber of our being. If we do not, we shall end up complicit in the wanton wrecking of democracy.

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“The Wuhan of the Americas”: U.S. Deports COVID-19-Positive Immigrants to Haiti & Guatemala

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The United States continues to deport thousands during the coronavirus pandemic, causing a dangerous spread of COVID-19 to Central America and the Caribbean. We speak with Haitian American novelist Edwidge Danticat, who says “U.S. deportations to Haiti during coronavirus pandemic are ‘unconscionable,’” and go to Guatemala City for an update from reporter José Alejandro García Escobar.


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to look at how the U.S. has continued to deport thousands of people during the coronavirus pandemic, causing a dangerous spread of COVID-19 to Central America and the Caribbean. In Guatemala, at least 117 people deported from the U.S. have tested positive for the virus as of May 4th, making up some 15% of Guatemala’s cases. Guatemala had temporarily suspended deportations from the U.S. after dozens of deported immigrants on a single April 13th flight tested positive, but allowed deportations to resume under the promise of stringent testing. But last week, someone who was deported after testing negative was confirmed COVID-19-positive after arriving in Guatemala. Guatemala’s health minister, Hugo Monroy, has called the U.S. “the Wuhan of the Americas.” On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement reversed plans to deport five immigrants who tested positive for COVID-19, after it was reported on in the media.

A deportation flight from San Antonio, Texas, to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, departed with 50 passengers, who were sent to hotels to quarantine at the Haitian government’s expense upon arrival. The same day, Florida Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson introduced the Haitian Deportation Relief Act, which calls for the suspension of deportations to Haiti, saying they are, quote, “tantamount to a death sentence for Haitians who are living with compromised water and sanitation systems and do not have access to the sanitation measures we’ve undertaken in the United States,” unquote. This comes as calls to halt all deportations from the U.S. during the pandemic are growing.

Well, for more, we’re joined by two guests. In Miami, Florida, Edwidge Danticat is with us. She’s the Haitian American novelist, author of a number of books, including The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story and The Farming of Bones, which won an American Book Award. Her piece in the Miami Herald is headlined “U.S. deportations to Haiti during coronavirus pandemic are ‘unconscionable.’” And in The New Yorker magazine, she’s written about “The Ripple Effects of the Coronavirus on Immigrant Communities.”

Also joining us, from Guatemala City, is journalist José Alejandro García Escobar. He’s a reporter with the independent media outlet Agencia Ocote. His most recent work in Guatemala highlights the health and economic impacts faced by undocumented Guatemalan workers living in the U.S. in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Edwidge Danticat, let’s begin with you. Can you respond to the U.S. deporting COVID-positive Haitians back to Haiti? What are you calling for?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, these deportations are obviously a threat to Haiti and a threat to the entire region. Two hundred — nearly 200 organizations, professionals in healthcare, people who work with immigrant communities, have called for the administration to stop these deportations and find alternatives to detention that are contingent with COVID-19 regulations. But these deportations have continued. And since in April, when the first set began, we’ve had three people test positive for COVID-19 after they’ve arrived in Haiti. It’s a disgrace. It’s dangerous, really, for the health of the communities that these folks are being returned to. And so, we are, as a community, as people whose loved ones are affected or will continue to be affected by this, are calling for the deportations to stop.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is the response of the U.S. government?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, initially — yesterday, for example, I texted with one of the wives of one of the men who had tested COVID-positive and in the end didn’t end up on the flight. But she said that he was taken out of the quarantine where he was and was not retested, for example, before he was returned back to the general population while he was in detention. ICE has said that they would test people before they were returned — they were deported, but asymptomatic people can still spread the virus, obviously, and people have tested positive once they’ve arrived in Guatemala, for example, and, in the previous case, in Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: In your piece in The New Yorker magazine, Edwidge, you cite a common saying, that whenever Haiti sneezes, Miami catches a cold. But in the midst of this pandemic, it clearly is the case that the reverse is true. Can you talk about the pandemic’s effect on Haitians where you live, in Miami, as well as this — what this means for their loved ones at home?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, we’ve watched — we’re in a community where people work as home health aides or in the tourism industry or in the service industry or hospitality industry. And so many people have been furloughed or have lost their jobs. And Haiti counts a lot on remittances. A lot of people who are working here are working a job for — you know, like my father was, when I was a kid, was working one job to support himself and another job to support someone back home. So, this will also have ripple effects in Haiti, in which people who have lost their jobs here or who might have fallen ill — we’ve had a lot of COVID cases, for example, in the population in New York. And so, that will certainly have effects on the economy, on the ability of people in Haiti, who are already unable to shelter in place, who have to work in the informal economy — this will also reduce their ability to feed themselves, because a lot of family members here also are affected by the COVID-19 financially, which will then lead to greater hardship, financially and medically, back home.

AMY GOODMAN: Edwidge Danticat, you also talk about Haiti’s history with what you’ve called “past collisions with microbes.” Talk about what happened after the earthquake a decade ago.

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, after the earthquake, when it seemed like this was the worst thing that could possibly happen, when 300,000 people had been killed and close to 2 million people were homeless, you had the United Nations come and basically poison one of the central rivers in Haiti, causing a cholera epidemic that killed 10,000 people and infected close to a million people. Now, the U.N. has never quite taken the proper responsibility. Recently, some of their own monitors have come out and said that they have not done enough in terms of compensating families or creating health structures. So, the U.N. and the cholera epidemic has left Haiti even more vulnerable in terms of being able to deal with this current pandemic.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring José Alejandro García Escobar into this discussion, from Guatemala City. If you could talk about what happens to Guatemalans who are deported from the United States to Guatemala City?

JOSÉ ALEJANDRO GARCÍA ESCOBAR: Well, recently, it has started that a new shelter has opened up really close by to the airport, so people have been moving the deportees to that shelter. However, on May 13th, a group of 71 persons — 71 people were moved to that shelter, and they only spent a couple of days there. A spokesperson for migration said they were tested and that they were OK. But still, they were only there for a couple of days, and they were moved to their original cities.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what is the scope of the problem. How has this happened, the Guatemalans who are being deported from the United States? The response of Guatemalans where you are, in Guatemala City? The response of the government, who stopped these deportations but then has allowed them to resume?

JOSÉ ALEJANDRO GARCÍA ESCOBAR: Well, at the beginning, there was little to no information. We got our first confirmed cases in mid-March, and there were barely any information about what was going to happen to immigration, to deportees’ flights. But as cases began on the rise, suddenly people had to address this issue.

As you said during the introduction, immigration stopped the deportation flights for a couple of times to strengthen the measures. Then there was that awful flight on April 15th, when there were up to 25% of all deportees tested positive. So, things have been moving up and down with this issue. The government has rarely addressed it. This has been mainly from immigration, from the immigration department here in Guatemala. But still, you have a lot of people infected going back to small communities with little to no access to health facilities. So it has been creating a great impact in the country, bringing people infected with the coronavirus.

AMY GOODMAN: You say that the U.S. is being referred to now in Guatemala as “the Wuhan of the Americas”?

JOSÉ ALEJANDRO GARCÍA ESCOBAR: Yes. This was a quote made by Hugo Monroy, our health minister.

AMY GOODMAN: If you could talk about what the Guatemalan government is doing to hold the U.S. accountable? And if you can talk about the latest people who have been deported? One, the U.S. said, was COVID-negative, but when he arrived in Guatemala City, he was positive.

JOSÉ ALEJANDRO GARCÍA ESCOBAR: Well, the couple of times that the flights had stopped, allegedly, it was to strengthen the measures and the testings in the U.S. to make sure that the people that were getting deported — were getting deported were healthy, and they wouldn’t infect anyone in Guatemala. Obviously, this has not been the case entirely. We have been getting reports of people coming in with certificates, signed by ICE, saying that they were healthy. But the certificates that are allowed here in Guatemala, they can be made no longer than 72 hours prior to their deportation. But people have been coming in, and still we have a few cases — obviously not as high as the one we got in April 15, but still, this has been — we still get flights with a couple people infected in the flights.

AMY GOODMAN: José, can you talk about the Guatemalan residents who have been placing white flags outside their homes? And talk about the double pandemic, the pandemic that people are deeply concerned about, COVID-19, and then also the effects of not having jobs, running out of food and money.

JOSÉ ALEJANDRO GARCÍA ESCOBAR: Well, a lot of people in Guatemala rely on informal economy. I mean people selling stuff in the streets, people selling food in the streets. So, pretty quickly, as soon as we had our first case and the government began putting on measures, people began losing their jobs, or people began losing their income. So, rapidly, you would see people out on the streets waving white flags as a signal of they don’t have any money, they don’t have any food, so Guatemalans might — there’s a strong coalition of Guatemalans helping other Guatemalans.

The government promised a thousand quetzales, which is a little under $200, for families and small businessmen and small businesswomen. However, they then mentioned that those benefited from this 1,000 quetzales, they needed to be within the formal economy — informal economy, but they needed to show proof of their taxes. So, a lot of people don’t extend a receipt when they’re working out in the streets, so a lot of people have not been getting this.

And just last night, we had these new measures that the city — that the country is closed until Monday morning. So a lot of people are not going to be allowed out into the streets to go and to receive aid from other Guatemalans, to go to local restaurants who have been helping people who don’t have any jobs or food. So, right now, this weekend is going to be a little chaotic with what happens with these people.

AMY GOODMAN: In this last minute, the effect on — the healthcare system, overall, in Guatemala, and how difficult it already is, before dealing with the pandemic?

JOSÉ ALEJANDRO GARCÍA ESCOBAR: Yes. Just a few days ago, there have been a few developments in the hospitals. Doctors in hospitals, and nurses, have been out into the streets, outside the hospitals, protesting that they don’t have enough material to take care of the patients. Suddenly, as you mentioned, the health system in Guatemala is overwhelmed. We had reached a little over 1,300 cases, active cases, here in Guatemala, and this has put our health system really on the edge of their seats.

AMY GOODMAN: And let me end with Edwidge Danticat. The situation with the healthcare system, with the hospitals in Haiti right now?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, certainly, there’s a medical group that’s advising the president, that’s come out and said that Haiti is just not ready. And the deportations are adding fuel to the fire. We don’t have these ventilators. We don’t have the beds. And the more exposure that we’re getting from this exportation of the virus, the more dangerous it is for a country that has suffered already so much through other exposures that could have been avoided.

And so, people go to a wedding someplace, and the virus spreads. And these are called super-spreader events. These deportations are international super-spreader events and are putting a great deal of lives at risk and are offering them up to a medical system that in the — you know, the richest countries have suffered. Imagine what it would be like in a place, like, that’s been so battered and so mistreated, like we have been. Haitian people are strong, but this is just — this is a lot.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for joining us, Edwidge Danticat, Haitian American novelist — we will link your piece in the [Miami Herald] at democracynow.org — speaking to us from Miami, and José Alejandro García Escobar, Guatemalan journalist, speaking to us from Guatemala City.

When we come back, for the first time in history, the Supreme Court is holding its oral arguments remotely. We’ll look at a case they heard Wednesday that could shape the outcome of the future of presidential elections. And we’ll talk about whether democracy can survive the pandemic here in the United States. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Rhiannon Giddens, singing the Bill Withers classic “Just the Two of Us,” featuring photos and videos taken by friends and family in quarantine and workers in the North Carolina UNC and NewYork-Presbyterian healthcare systems. Proceeds from the song go to GlobalGiving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Posted in USA, Health, Human Rights, PoliticsComments Off on “The Wuhan of the Americas”: U.S. Deports COVID-19-Positive Immigrants to Haiti & Guatemala

Indigenous Leadership Points the Way Out of the COVID Crisis

A protester holds a sign in front of the White House during a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on March 10, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
A protester holds a sign in front of the White House during a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on March 10, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Indigenous communities already operate informal economies set up to sustain them amid government ineptitude and neglect.

BYYoav LitvinTruthout

Despair and Disparity: The Uneven Burdens of COVID-19

The United States is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 1.2 million people and claimed over 70,000 lives. President Donald Trump has failed the American public, bungling the response while forsaking and targeting vulnerable communities. Meanwhile, the hopes for a progressive insurgency have faded with Sen. Bernie Sanders’s withdrawal from the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

Indigenous people have been here before. White supremacy, capitalism, patriarchy and settler colonialism have systematically erased Indigenous communities, culture and voices, while confiscating their lands. Throughout their history of colonization, they have faced a variety of structural oppressions with clear lessons for the current crises.

Truthout spoke with Indigenous activists Nick Estes and Justine Teba, who present an Indigenous framework for understanding the contemporary predicaments in the United States and the world. Estes, a member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe, is also assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico and co-founder of The Red Nation, a grassroots radical leftist Indigenous organization based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Teba, of the Tesuque and Santa Clara Pueblo, is co-founder of the Pueblo/a/x Feminist caucus within The Red Nation.

Yoav Litvin: How is the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting Native communities? What has the response been like from the government? Are there parallels to the historical use of contagious diseases as part of the colonial genocidal process?

Nick Estes: The primary organizing principle of a settler society is the elimination of the Native, whether it is in Palestine or the United States. Thus, the organizing structure of the United States’ economy and its political institutions is based around disenfranchisement of Indigenous people — politically, economically and physically.

There is a common myth in U.S. history that most Indigenous people did not die because of active killing, warfare and genocide, but rather as a result of outbreaks: smallpox, measles and cholera. However, these epidemics occurred and intensified in times of war, which meant mass forced starvation, depravation of resources, such as access to sanitary conditions — water, food, shelter — or the dependence on rations as the means of survival. The conditions of war were created by design to intensify these outbreaks of contagious diseases. In fact, epidemiologist Dean S. Seneca claims Indigenous people have the most experience with bioterrorism as it relates to infectious disease. The river tribes that were along the Missouri River were either purposely infected and/or traders did nothing to prevent the spread and devastation. For example, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes had extremely high death rates because of smallpox. Indigenous people knew how they spread and that traders carried inoculations, which were purposefully withheld. We would split up into smaller sections and disperse over a certain amount of time while regrouping later.Indigenous people have the most experience with bioterrorism as it relates to infectious disease.

If we look at the response now to COVID-19, it has some parallels to this history. The health care system afforded to Native communities is based on the integrity of the fiduciary, fiscal and federal responsibilities of the U.S. government to uphold treaties. The integrity of those treaties [is] only worth what we get out of them in return for all the bloodshed and the land stolen, annexed and expropriated from us. If you look at the last appropriations bill — the stimulus bill – a very small fraction went to Indigenous people, intensifying rates of infection and death because the Indian health care system was never meant to work in the first place. What’s more, dominant settler society devalues elders. The lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, outrageously claimed older people were pretty much expendable. That sort of sentiment is anathema to Indigenous folks.

Nick Estes.
Nick Estes.

The continued cheapening of Indigenous health, since the ‘70s and before, does not only affect us, but surrounding communities as well. When you examine the Navajo Nation, which is larger than the state of West Virginia, you have the third-largest infection rate after the states of New York and New Jersey, higher not just on the reservation but also off it; approximately 70 percent of Indigenous people do not live on reservations but in the inner city. Thus, any pandemic is not just confined to a geographical location. For example, one-tenth of the Navajo Nation’s population lives in Albuquerque, extending the tribal health care issue into the city. On mainstream media, you constantly see New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo rightfully criticizing the federal response to COVID-19. However, Jonathan Nez, president of Navajo nation, does not receive comparable airtime, nor does his nation.

The stimulus package categorically excludes Indian casinos, the 13th-largest employer in the U.S.

Donald Trump has made a career of trying to disestablish tribes, most notably before Congress claiming Native American casinos are run by the mob. Mashpee Wampanoag had 300 acres of their land taken out of trust under Trump’s administration, the first time since the termination era, and under the secretary of interior and the assistant secretary of Indian affairs, Tara Sweeney who is a former oil lobbyist. The tribe was threatening economic development through casinos, which is one of the few paths tribes have for economic development. Without land, Indigenous people might not qualify for the federal resources for health care infrastructure or housing.

What are “blood quantum” laws and how do they contribute to “toxic traditionalism”? Why do women and queer folk pose a threat to American hegemony?

Justine Teba: Prior to colonization, we were part of our own civilizations with politics and governance structures, which were also inclusive of women and LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Two-Spirit) folks.

Indigenous people had to adopt colonial values into their already existing structures as a means of survival. Our colonizers refused to deal with existing Indigenous leadership, which included women and LGBTQ2 folks, and so they chose the leaders. In New Mexico, the Spanish and later the Americans gave the canes to cis-hetero-men — leaders in their oppressive image. Women and LGBTQ2 groups still remain out of leadership. Since colonization, there have only been two female governors.When you examine the Navajo Nation, which is larger than the state of West Virginia, you have the third-largest infection rate after the states of New York and New Jersey.

“Toxic traditionalism” refers to destructive colonial values entangled with Indigenous practice and politics. We then misguidedly honor these practices because they have become traditional over time. Toxic traditionalism is often used as a deliberate weapon or means of oppression for the most marginalized people within Indigenous communities — usually women, LGBTQ2 folks and children.

Justine Teba
Justine Teba.

Blood quantum laws are another form of toxic traditionalism. They originated in the early 1700s yet were not in full practice until the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, with the explicit goal of cultural assimilation of Indigenous folks into colonial society. These racist laws were another form of genocide, continuing Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830.

Prior to colonization, we had our own ways of relation, which were honored through mothers and existing structures of kinship, like clans. In the landmark case Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez (1978), Julia Martinez fought for her daughter to be registered in the Pueblo. Martinez was a “full-blooded” person from Santa Clara, yet the father of her child was a non-member; therefore, her child was excluded. If the father were a “full-blooded” member, the child would be included.

My blood quantum includes quite a few tribes and I have kinship in all these places. However, my blood quantum is not enough in any single tribe, so even though I am full-blooded Indian, I am not recognized as a Native American. My kinship to people, places and practices is what makes me Indigenous, not blood quantum.

What are your opinions of the current political status? Are U.S. electoral politics relevant to your struggles?

Teba: Obama’s response to the Standing Rock movement squashed any hope I once held for the settler state. As an Indigenous person, my very existence is a contradiction to the logic of the settler state. The current presidential competition is between Red Trump and Blue Trump. It’s not a real choice.

Estes: It is important to understand that Indigenous people, by and large, are further left in their political orientation than any other demographic in this country, at least in certain regions. Pine Ridge, South Dakota, for example, exists as one of the poorest counties in the nation in a sea of red counties, yet it overwhelmingly voted for Obama. Indigenous people are not wedded to the Democratic Party; we simply understand the threat of the Republican Party.

Indigenous people control large sections of land, yet when people talk about “rural voters” they rarely mention us.My kinship to people, places and practices is what makes me Indigenous, not blood quantum.

Native voters suffer from continual disenfranchisement. For example, the state of North Dakota implemented unconstitutional voter registration laws requiring a street address in retaliation for Standing Rock. Most people on the reservation do not have a street address, and use a P.O. box, and so these folks were categorically disenfranchised.

Electoral campaigns tend to suck the oxygen out of the room at key moments. Standing Rock in 2016 did not receive much attention until Sanders lost the nomination. Recently, we witnessed a mass uprising in so-called Canada by the Wetsuwet’en Nation, who were violently evicted from their homelands for trying to build a healing center on the route of a natural gas pipeline. The uprising shut down large sections of the economy there, costing billions of dollars to associated industries and resulting in mass layoffs, nearly bringing the country to a grinding halt. The protests were barely mentioned by the Sanders campaign or the Green New Deal promoters. In contrast, we witnessed a celebration of Greta Thunberg, a 14-year-old Swedish girl who was saying the same things as Indigenous land defenders.

What is your view of leadership as Indigenous organizers? How do you prioritize your struggles?

Teba: Leaders in the U.S. are oppressors, including Democrats. When I think of leaders, I think of people who run in Indigenous-led movements. Truth-tellers are leaders. They inspire change. Those at Standing Rock were truth-tellers and they inspired me into action.

Estes: Party leaders have always given priority to economic and corporate interests over social movements. Change from within is an illusion. That is simply how class works. We need to construct power from below by elevating a candidate who is a product of social movements, not the corporate party structure.Oppressed communities in the U.S. – Black, Indigenous, migrants — benefit from collectively building power through our communities rather than begging those in power to recognize our issues.

Indigenous Bolivian ex-President Evo Morales famously said that his primary sin was his identification as an Indian, a leftist and an anti-imperialist. Jessie Little Doe Baird, the vice chair of the Mashpee Nation, similarly claimed the original sin of the Mashpee people who welcomed the colonizers in the mythologized first Thanksgiving was simply existing. Thus, instead of trying to seek recognition from people who want our annihilation, we take the example from the South – the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), which was the vanguard of the environmental justice movement.

The intersection of identities must incorporate class as a means of understanding the power and racial oppression within a settler colonialist society. Oppressed communities in the U.S. – Black, Indigenous, migrants — benefit from collectively building power through our communities rather than begging those in power to recognize our issues. We do not need more Brown faces in high places. Obama best represents this paradox.

Our struggles are dictated by the agendas of our communities (see The Red Deal). The Red Nation and many Indigenous groups had constructed mutual aid networks well before the abandonment by the state during the present epidemic. Indigenous communities already participate in informal economies set up to sustain us in light of the government’s ineptitude.

Talk about contemporary struggles not receiving sufficient media attention.

Teba: Here in New Mexico, Trump’s bump in spending and lift on Environmental Protection Agency regulations have had particularly devastating effects. In Los Alamos National Laboratory, nuclear colonialism manifests itself, ironically in our sacred mountains. Recently, the Los Alamos National labs stated they would release radioactive Tritium vapors into Tewa lands and airspace. Trump’s policy changes have also created a boom in the fracking industry. Our Democratic Gov. Lujan Grisham has ramped up fracking to pay for college.

It is crucial to remember our struggles are global. The United States, whether led by Republicans or Democrats, uses oil as a means of dictating the global economy by increasing production and transfer through polluting pipelines and placing sanctions on competitors such as Venezuela, Iran and Russia.Regardless of whether they support Indigenous struggles, they are paying the price for the structurally racist corruption which oppresses us.

Estes: Many of our struggles are connected to the global commodity supply chain of oil. The U.S. promotes a subsidized government response attempting to artificially control prices. The waning of U.S. hegemony is leading to intensification of extraction projects.

Here in the Southwest, oil comes from the Permian Basin, while up north, oil from the Bakken formation flows through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation via the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Alberta tar sands in so-called Canada has created a dead zone with a surface area the size of Florida, which is dry-feeding into pipelines traveling through Wet’suwet’en territories, including my people’s area in the Lakota territory.

The construction of these pipelines exemplifies the death drive of the oil economy. TC Energy, formerly TransCanada Corporation, recently began constructing the Keystone XL pipeline on the U.S. side of the border. CGL Network’s workers did not stop working on the pipeline even in the midst of the pandemic, meaning thousands of workers from the outside now reside in and endanger these geographically isolated, under-resourced areas, which are primarily Indian reservations.

Meanwhile, Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, introduced TC Energy-drafted legislation to criminalize Lakota water protectors trying to fight the Keystone XL Pipeline. Unsurprisingly, Noem also refused to issue a stay-at-home order for workers and their families infected with COVID-19 at a meat packing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Noem demonstrates how capitalism will eventually affect white people as well; she is literally asking white workers to sacrifice themselves. Regardless of whether they support Indigenous struggles, they are paying the price for the structurally racist corruption which oppresses us.

Has the reactionary nature of the Trump administration created positive changes in people’s attitudes?

Teba: People are getting radicalized due to all of the failings of the state, which are under a magnifying glass. On the flip side, the successes of socialist countries are magnified. And so, there’s a momentum going and it’s crucial that groups like The Red Nation continue organizing. This is a pivotal time.The COVID-19 pandemic is much like the climate crisis: we saw it coming, scientists warned us about it, and we did nothing to prepare.

Estes: There is a humbling process happening now. We need to become internationalists and relinquish U.S. exceptionalism.

Many people who invested hope in the Sanders campaign are feeling alone and disillusioned. At the end of the day, The Red Nation will continue to build real alternatives for our people. It is necessary for our survival.

The COVID-19 pandemic is much like the climate crisis: we saw it coming, scientists warned us about it, and we did nothing to prepare. The U.S. response to COVID-19 is a global health risk. And who is at the front lines of all of these crises? Indigenous people. Ignore us at your own peril. If you actually believe in a future for this planet, it is literally decolonization or extinction.

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on Indigenous Leadership Points the Way Out of the COVID Crisis

How a Lobbying Campaign Pushed the CDC to Relax Protective Gear Guidelines

UCLA students and other volunteers make face shields to help support doctors on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic who may not have enough PPE at Geffen Hall UCLA on April 19, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.
UCLA students and other volunteers make face shields to help support doctors on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic who may not have enough PPE at Geffen Hall UCLA on April 19, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.

BYJennifer Gollan & Elizabeth Shogren

The Center for Investigative Reporting

Rick Lucas’ cellphone chimed, alerting him to an emergency in the acute care unit. He wondered whether it would be another case of COVID-19.

He pulled on his thin surgical mask and dashed into a room where a patient was fighting to breathe.

Lucas, a critical care nurse, and his team at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus worked quickly, finding a vein for an IV and pulling an oxygen mask over the patient’s mouth and nose as he coughed. Lucas had been instructed to wear the same surgical mask all day for all but the highest-risk procedures, such as intubating patients.

“We’re exposed,” Lucas, who is also a union official, said in a recent interview. “We’re terrified that we’re gonna end up in the bed right next to him with the same thing.”

Routine procedures, such as placing heart monitor leads on a patient’s chest or leaning in to start an IV, make it impossible for him to keep a safe distance. “We’re right there in that danger zone where all of those droplets and those aerosolized particles are hanging out,” he said. He can feel the air flow around the sides of his surgical mask as he breathes.

Just a few days earlier, on March 10, facing a massive national shortage of personal protective equipment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had downgraded its guidance, opening the door for hospitals to provide only surgical masks to health care workers treating confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. The announcement marked a dramatic departure from stricter CDC guidelines issued in February, which called for the use of N95 respirators or even more protective gear because it was unknown how the novel pathogen spread.

Lucas’ profound anxiety about getting exposed to the coronavirus underscores the vexing – and potentially lethal – circumstances America’s health care workers have faced since the CDC relaxed its guidelines, spawning a patchwork of policies in hospitals across the country. Some routinely provide N95 masks and full protective gear, while others provide most medical staff with only surgical masks. For example, the Wexner Medical Center’s guidance on April 2, obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, acknowledged “widespread risk of transmission in the workplace,” yet indicated that most providers would be issued only a surgical mask, which should be reused as long as possible.

“If your mask is not grossly soiled, do not throw it away!” the document reads. (The medical center’s policy has since been revised.)

The CDC’s policy change was not driven by new scientific research. If anything, evidence of airborne transmission has accumulated as the pandemic has unfolded. It was driven instead by political pressure and fear of liability, Reveal has found. And the decision was hotly contested in advance by health and safety experts.

Before the CDC’s rollback, members of Congress urged the agency to relax the guidelines for protective gear for health care workers, citing the shortage. Several large hospital systems were also pushing for reconsideration of the guidelines. In the days leading up to the CDC’s decision, occupational health and aerosol experts urgently objected, desperately arguing that surgical masks would be insufficient.

Earlier coronaviruses, such as the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in China, were found to be transmitted by droplets of varying size, including tiny particles in the air. The CDC initially recommended N95 respirators for health care workers treating patients during the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009.

Peg Seminario, who was the occupational safety and health and safety director of the AFL-CIO from 1990 until her retirement last year, said the CDC’s March policy, by giving license to hospitals to provide inadequate protection to health care providers, has triggered a workplace health crisis.

In her more than 40 years fighting to protect the health and safety of workers, Seminario confronted catastrophes such as the 9/11 attacks, which sickened and killed firefighters and first responders exposed to toxic dust after the World Trade Center collapsed. But she describes the nation’s coronavirus response as “the biggest safety and health failure that has ever occurred in this country. The toll on working people is already enormous.”

Seminario calls the CDC’s decision to loosen its guidelines “criminal.” “Now, because of the policies they’re pursuing, they’re not taking effective measures to get the equipment that’s needed,” she said. “You have health care workers getting sick, overwhelmed.”

When the CDC relaxed its guidelines, there was emerging evidence that the virus could be airborne. Since then, evidence of airborne transmission has mounted. Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggested that the virus could remain in the air for hours. University of Nebraska researchers detected the virus in the air, including in air ducts of patients rooms and hallways, though they did not determine whether it was still infectious. In a study published in late April in the journal Nature, scientists found evidence of the virus in the air in two hospitals in Wuhan, China.

Moreover, as Don Milton, an infectious disease aerobiologist at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, explains, there is no “bright line” between respiratory droplets and aerosols, which are droplets so tiny they can remain suspended in the air.

Even with testing so scarce that few medical workers are tested unless they are symptomatic, at least 31,108 health care workers in the U.S. had been infected with COVID-19 and 108 had died as of May 6, according to CDC data. One CDC analysis of about 50,000 U.S. cases with detailed reporting data found that 19% of those cases were among health care workers. More than half of the infected health care workers whose route of exposure was reported said they had come into contact with people with COVID-19 only at work.

In Hong Kong, where standards for personal protective gear are higher, only one health care worker had fallen ill as of late April. In China, after an early wave of health care workers got sick, the government took action to better protect doctors and nurses, and the infection rate among them dropped significantly. By contrast, the number of infections and deaths among U.S. health care workers have risen steadily over the past several weeks.

***

In late January and again in February, the CDC issued guidelines that recommended that, at a minimum, all health care providers evaluating or treating potential or confirmed COVID-19 patients wear N95 respirators. The CDC said its earliest guidance was based on the “limited information available” at the time related to the disease’s transmission, among other factors. The idea was to recommend the most protective standards until it was clear how the novel pathogen spread, according to occupational health experts.

Despite calls by dozens of lawmakers, the Trump administration has so far declined to use the Defense Production Act to aggressively direct manufacturers to ramp up production of personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators. This has left hospitals, municipalities, states and even the federal government scrambling to buy such equipment, creating a highly competitive marketplace and driving up the cost. Federal officials have seized shipments bound for states and municipalities.

Against this backdrop of scarcity and chaos, hospitals, public health departments and lawmakers pushed back. They wanted the CDC guidelines rolled back to protect against droplet, not airborne, exposure.

An army of health care organizations and public officials in Washington state – including the Washington State Hospital Association, Washington State Department of Health, Gov. Jay Inslee, the King County director of public health, the University of Washington School of Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance – contacted Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier’s office in early March. They had one imperative: Until they could obtain sufficient protective gear for workers, they wanted the CDC’s guidelines loosened.

Hospitals that failed to comply could be subject to fines and directives from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, they said. They could also face costly lawsuits from workers, their families and labor unions. Looser CDC guidelines allowing surgical masks would remove hospitals’ obligation to adhere to strict OSHA respiratory protection standards, including providing tight-fitting respirators and training workers to use them.

In response, Schrier and five other Democratic lawmakers from Washington wrote to the CDC, urging the agency to effectively give cover to hospitals and state and local health departments.

“Hospitals are already at or near capacity, and continuation of current CDC guidelines in this new phase of the disease presents substantial barriers to managing the increasing patient demand,” the March 4 letter said. “There are limited airborne isolation rooms in both clinics and hospitals, and there are shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE).”

Schrier and her colleagues pressed the CDC to change the recommendations to droplet-level protections and reserve respirators for aerosol-generating procedures, noting that “we have confirmed community spread via respiratory droplets.”“If the CDC had not relaxed their guidelines, it would have forced hospitals to manage and plan.”

On the same day the members of Congress sent their letter, an email and memo from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene began circulating, seeking input from other cities regarding a plan to downgrade the city’s policy for protective gear for health care workers. The memo notes that “this recommendation in NYC contradicts current CDC guidance and will likely result in opposition from some healthcare workers and Unions,” and it points out that this risk would be mitigated if the recommendation were made jointly with state officials, infection prevention and control organizations, and other stakeholders. The memo then notes that several large urban hospital systems across the country were requesting a review of the CDC’s recommendations.

“Considering the current and ongoing supply chain issues and increasing surge in hospital demand, the CDC PPE recommendations for healthcare workers (HCWs) are not sustainable,” the memo reads.

A spokesman for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene did not respond to requests for comment.

In late February, within days of learning that the CDC might revise its guidelines, the nation’s largest health care labor unions, representing hundreds of thousands of workers, scrambled to mobilize against what they viewed as a deadly threat. They were terrified that huge numbers of their members – nurses, doctors and other health workers – would get exposed and that many would die.

Seminario, on behalf of the AFL-CIO, and officials from other health care unions jumped on a call with Arjun Srinivasan, associate director of the Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs, a division within the CDC.

“We told the CDC that employers will immediately move to say surgical masks are OK,” Seminario said. “And it’s not OK. The implications are workers are exposed, infected and not able to work.”

But agency officials wanted to move quickly. “He told us they were concerned about PPE shortages and were looking to change the guidelines to allow for surgical masks” except when health care workers are performing intubations and other aerosol-generating procedures, Seminario told Reveal.

Looser guidelines would create a two-tier system for health care providers, Seminario recalls telling Srinivasan. The shortages should be addressed, she said, rather than make sweeping changes to the guidelines. Seminario said she also pointed to evidence from the 2003 SARS outbreak and 2009 swine flu outbreak that both viruses could be transmitted through the air.

A surgical mask, according to the CDC’s occupational health division, does not reliably protect wearers from inhaling tiny aerosols.

A group of more than a dozen labor unions, including National Nurses United, which represents more than 150,000 nurses, also wrote to Srinivasan to object to the proposed changes, saying they would “not only decrease the level of protection for healthcare workers but would also contribute to the spread of this virus.”

The CDC rolled back its guidelines less than a week later.

“If the CDC had not relaxed their guidelines, it would have forced hospitals to manage and plan,” Seminario said. “It has relaxed the pressure to get PPE for hospitals. They did this based on a disingenuous assessment of the data we know about infectious diseases.”

Srinivasan did not respond to a request for comment.

The CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the agency’s occupational health division, both declined multiple requests for interviews, but in a written response, NIOSH told Reveal that the CDC’s decision was driven in part by the realities of supply shortages.

“CDC’s goal is to provide infection prevention control recommendations for healthcare personnel that are based on science, but also take into consideration the limited supply of N95 respirators in healthcare settings when it comes to making recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE),” said Christina Spring, NIOSH’s spokesperson.

Spring declined to respond to a query about whether NIOSH had objected to the CDC’s decision to weaken its guidance on protective gear, but said NIOSH has been “actively involved” in addressing supply chain problems.

“CDC has made every decision and recommendation in this response in keeping with our mission to save lives and protect Americans,” Spring said, adding that CDC recommendations are based on the best science available at the time, and “we revise them as we learn more.”

***

Ron Klain served as the U.S. Ebola czar from October 2014 through February 2015, when the CDC established guidance saying health care workers needed to use respirators, as well as gear that “covers the clothing and skin and completely protects mucous membranes.” The guidance said that health care workers should be comprehensively trained in the proper use of the safety gear and that colleagues should help them remove their respirators to avoid contaminating themselves. That guidance remains in place today.

Klain says the CDC should have based its coronavirus guidance on the best scientific evidence, not shortages.

“We need to fix what’s broken,” he said. “What’s broken is doctors and nurses don’t have the gear they need. They’re entitled to it. They should have it. They should have it right away, and the federal government needs to take the leadership role in producing it.”

He pointed out that the president has authority under the Defense Production Act to incentivize manufacturers to make whatever gear is needed, to whatever standard is required.

“We’re talking about putting in compulsory orders,” he said. “That definitely should be happening right now. And in addition, the federal government should be taking control of the supply chain for these things to make sure that the gear gets to where it needs to get to. One problem is we don’t have enough stuff. The second problem is it’s not in the right place. And the federal government needs to do more now to address both those problems.”

Instead, the CDC’s decision to downgrade its guidelines has offered hospitals a fig leaf, according to Melissa A. McDiarmid, co-chair of a National Academies of Sciences committee on protective gear.

“It definitely gives breathing room,” said McDiarmid, who is director of the occupational and environmental medicine division at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Does this breathing room that it gave health organizations mean that they don’t hustle quite as hard to try to find the respirators? That’s an absolutely fair concern.”

Lisa Brosseau, who recently retired as an industrial hygiene professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago, has a harsher assessment. She said that given the growing evidence that the coronavirus spreads through aerosols, which can permeate surgical masks, hospitals are effectively requiring health care workers to put themselves at risk of disease or death on behalf of their patients.

“They have the right to refuse to work in an unsafe environment,” she said. “I don’t think the Hippocratic Oath says you should commit suicide.”

Yet when some hospital employees have objected or refused, they’ve been disciplined or fired.

***

The disparities between hospitals are striking. The nation has more than 6,000 hospitals, including roughly 3,000 nonprofit hospitals, 1,300 for-profit hospitals and a thousand public hospitals, each with starkly different access to resources. The CDC’s revised guidance means each facility, including hospitals and a wide variety of other health care settings, is effectively making its own decisions about what level of personal protective equipment to provide. These policies are also in a rapid state of flux, according to more than a dozen doctors and nurses who spoke with Reveal, sometimes changing by the week. Some health care workers said they felt well protected, while others said they were scrambling to update their wills and end-of-life wishes should they fall ill and die.

Jade Flinn, a critical care nurse in the biocontainment unit at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, often ranked among the top hospitals in the country, goes into patients’ rooms clad in what she says looks like a “moon suit.”

Every shift, she wears a respirator, a face shield, goggles, two pairs of gloves and a disposable gown. Her gear is similar to requirements in Hong Kong and South Korea, where the infection rates among health care professionals appear much lower than in the United States. Her hospital has set aside two special areas – one for putting on gear and another for taking it off – and she says she’s had abundant training in the proper way to don and doff the gear, all of which reduces the risk of infection for herself and others.

“I feel very, very protected whenever I go into a patient room,” she said, “because I know that my training and my team around me will make sure that I am safe.”

But it troubles Flinn that her peers at other hospitals around the country fear for their lives, what she describes as the “haves and have nots” of the health care workforce during the pandemic.

“That is morally distressing to me,” Flinn said. “I feel incredibly, incredibly guilty almost, because I have what I need to take care of myself and to take care of the patient safely.”

Johns Hopkins declined to specify how many among its health care staff have gotten COVID-19.

To Rick Lucas, the critical care nurse at the Wexner Medical Center in Ohio, the loosened CDC guidelines are “a betrayal.” Lucas, who is president of the Ohio State University Nurses Organization, which represents some 4,000 nurses in five hospitals affiliated with the Wexner medical system, recently filed a complaint with OSHA charging that the hospital violated health and safety standards by not providing N95 masks to health care workers caring for confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, among other problems.

At least 85 health care workers there had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the April 28 complaint. Medical center officials declined to comment on the number of staff with COVID-19 but said only a small portion has gotten ill.

“We believe the many protective steps we’re taking and our staff’s diligent efforts to follow guidelines are working to keep the impact of the virus to a minimum, below 1% of our workforce,” Marti Leitch, a Wexner spokesperson, wrote in an email response.

Lucas insisted the hospital could do better. “We’re not soldiers headed into battle,” he said. “We need the CDC and the federal government to prioritize our safety, the safety and health of our nation, and to do the right thing and quit watering down standards.”

“We don’t want to go to work and feel like we might die because we’re doing our job,” he added. “We don’t want to spread the infection to other patients and we don’t want to bring it home to our families. We don’t want to spread it to our peers.”

On April 18, the medical center’s policy changed. It now requires N95 masks when treating all suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients in certain critical care wards, including the acute care unit. The policy still requires that each N95 mask be used at least five times before being decontaminated.

In response to Reveal’s questions, Leitch sent a statement April 30 from Dr. Andrew Thomas, Wexner’s chief clinical officer, who said that while the medical center had not yet received the OSHA complaint, “nothing means more to us than the health and safety of our colleagues, our patients and their families.”

“Like all health systems across the country, we face the challenge of limited supplies of PPE,” Leitch said in a separate email. “By being proactive in leveraging our contacts and buying power as a large academic health center, we’ve been able to maintain adequate supplies. We continue to work tirelessly to purchase these necessary and scarce resources and maximize usage of those we have.”

At the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut, registered nurse Martha Marx visits six patients per shift, and unless her patients have COVID-19 or are suspected of having it, she’s issued only a surgical mask to use day after day, until it’s visibly soiled.

“My greatest fear is that I’ve been exposed and that I’m going to bring it to one of my patients,” Marx said in early April.

As an official in her union, AFT Connecticut, she’s often in touch with other association staff. She recalls a call she received in early April from one home health aide she knew well, Grisel Escalera. Escalera had a fever, and she was panicking.

“She called me and sobbed,” Marx said. “She was so afraid that she got some of her clients sick.”

Escalera had seen five patients the day before she fell ill. Her COVID-19 test came back positive, and she spent sleepless nights fearing for her life.

“I was afraid to close my eyes,” Escalera said, her voice quaking.“My greatest fear is that I’ve been exposed and that I’m going to bring it to one of my patients.”

One of the patients she saw the day before she got sick, she recalled, had been short of breath. According to Marx and Escalera, a wave of bad news followed: That patient was soon hospitalized and quickly died. Another patient Escalera visited that day lives with his elderly mother; within a week, they both started coughing and were hospitalized, the mother on life support. A third patient ended up in the hospital with COVID-19.

A few days ago, Marx received news of a second death among Escalera’s patients: the man who had lived with his mother.

Escalera wonders whether she caught the virus from one of them – and passed it to the others.

“It’s a mystery,” she said. “I don’t know. Every day, I feel guilty and I think about that.”

Mary Lenzini, CEO of the visiting nurse association, insists that her staff get N95 masks if they’re assigned to a COVID-19 patient and that they’re kept safe. “I would have a very hard time doing my job every day as I have for almost 39 years if I thought they weren’t safe,” she said. “I do consult the CDC and the Department of Health websites constantly for advice on all of the PPE.”

Marx said that goes to the heart of the problem. “They’re telling us what to do, and it’s based on the CDC,” she said. “So I’m saying the CDC is wrong.”

***

The pressure on the CDC continued even after it relaxed its guidelines March 10. Two days later, the California Hospital Association wrote a letter to members of the state’s congressional delegation, urging them to have the CDC go a step further by making the guidelines allowing surgical masks permanent.

“We need the CDC to clearly, not conditionally, move from airborne to droplet precautions for patients and health care workers,” the letter reads. “Doing so will have multiple positive impacts on patient care, including allocating airborne isolation rooms properly and preserving limited supplies of personal protective equipment for health care workers caring for patients with airborne diseases.”

Jan Emerson-Shea, a vice president of the California Hospital Association, defended her organization’s request, citing the World Health Organization’s guidance, which states that the virus is mostly spread through larger droplets or from objects and surfaces.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our workforce,” she said by email.

Around the time of the CDC change, the House of Representatives drafted provisions directing OSHA to require hospitals to establish infection control programs, including the provision of respirators, as part of the second piece of coronavirus legislation. But the American Hospital Association swung into action. The trade group, Peg Seminario recalls, mounted “a furious campaign” to block that language. “They fought that vociferously, ferociously,” recruiting hospitals to pressure their senators and representatives to remove the worker protection provisions.

As the House negotiated with the Senate and White House on the bill, one member of Congress after another called House staffers because hospitals in their jurisdictions had called quoting an American Hospital Association action alert, according to two House aides who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the deliberations. Given the urgency to pass the bill, this lobby effort doomed the provisions, according to the aides.

Reveal obtained an email sent by the powerful trade group to the chief executive of the largest nonprofit health system in Texas as part of that mobilization. It asks the Texas hospitals to join in urging members of Congress to yank the provision from the bill because it would be “impossible” to implement due to the shortage of N95 masks.

Congress complied. “The hospitals carried great sway, and they won that round of the fight,” Seminario said.

A spokesperson for the hospital association did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

In an interview, Rep. Kim Schrier, who along with five colleagues wrote to CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield on March 4 urging the agency to relax its guidelines, said she is now rethinking her decision to write the letter and blamed the Trump administration for not increasing the production of N95 masks.

“Look, hindsight is 20/20, and if we knew about the virus what we know now, I would not have necessarily written that letter,” said Schrier, who is a pediatrician.

For the next coronavirus relief bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will insist on a provision related to the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. With an exception for cases of “gross negligence,” the language would protect employers from liability if their customers or employees are infected.

Posted in USAComments Off on How a Lobbying Campaign Pushed the CDC to Relax Protective Gear Guidelines

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