Archive | July 1st, 2020

Covid-19: racism kills

 By: Tom Vickers

BLM protest placard: 'UK is not innocent'

The stark racial disparities cannot be denied. People who identify as black, Asian, or another ethnic minority (considered together as BAME) constitute around 14% of Britain’s population, but they accounted for 34% of those who required intensive care due to Covid-19 up to 14 May.* When taking into account differences of age and geography, black people are dying at four times the rate of white people; other ethnic minorities are also disproportionately affected.

While many attempts have been made to explain this away, as the result of the effect of Vitamin D on the immune system or ‘lifestyle’ factors, the Office for National Statistics estimates that at least half the ethnic difference in Covid-19 death rates can be explained by socioeconomic differences. The primary cause is structural, shaped by high rates of poverty that contribute to long term health conditions, and concentrations of BAME workers in jobs that leave them disproportionately exposed to the virus.

Exposure to the virus

Overall, BAME workers are more likely to be employed in so-called ‘low skilled’ jobs – a euphemism for low-​paid and low-status – that often cannot be performed from home, and in sectors that have continued to operate throughout the pandemic. For example, 44% of black people work in jobs classified as ‘public administration, education and health’, compared to 31% of white British people, and 16% of Asian people work in ‘Transport and communication’, compared to 8% of white British people.

Covid-19 death rates among care workers, sales assistants and bus drivers are all more than double that of the general workforce, while the rates for taxi drivers and chefs are more than triple, and security guards more than quadruple.

A 2019 TUC study found that BAME workers are twice as likely to be in precarious employment, including on zero hours and agency contracts, as their white counterparts. This means they are less likely to have the financial security needed to self-isolate if needed, or to stay away from work that is unsafe. Another study found that BAME millennials were 47% more likely to be on zero-hours contracts. This means that BAME workers are less likely to qualify for government wage support schemes, mortgage-holiday packages, statutory sick pay, holiday pay or Universal Credit, and consequently are more likely to be forced to continue working because of economic necessity, increasing their risk of exposure to the virus. Thousands of migrant workers face the threat of deportation if their annual income falls below the threshold set by the government of £18,600. At the end of April, immigration minister Kevin Foster suggested those who lose their jobs should rely on ‘investments and cash savings’ to make up the difference, but this is impossible for many working-class migrants. Prior to the lockdown nearly 60% of Britain’s adult population had enough savings to cover at least one month of lost income, but among people of Bangladeshi, black Caribbean or black African ethnicity only 30% had this level of savings.

The NHS and social care providers are particularly reliant on BAME and migrant labour. In 2018, 7% of people born in the UK worked in the health sector, but 14% of Indian migrants in Britain did so, alongside 13% of Sub-Saharan African migrants, and 16% of East and Southeast Asian migrants. For Social Work and Residential Care, the figures were 6% for those born in the UK and 13% for those born in Sub-Saharan Africa. 20% of the overall NHS workforce is BAME. BAME workers and migrants disproportionately occupy lower-paid and over-worked roles in the NHS and its out-sourced support services. Research published in the Health Service Journal found that among a sample of 203 reported deaths of healthcare workers involving Covid-19, 95% were staff who worked in patient-facing roles, and 63% of deaths were from a BAME population. 22% of nurses who died were from the Philippines, 12% from Zimbabwe and 6% from Nigeria.

The health of BAME workers

The higher rates of serious illness and death among BAME people who contract coronavirus can be explained to a significant extent by the higher rates of long-term underlying illnesses. Type 2 diabetes is particularly significant, affecting around 6% of the UK population but present in one third of Covid-19 deaths. African and African-Caribbean people are three times more likely to suffer from Type 2 diabetes, and South Asian people six time more likely. Ethnic health inequalities are particularly marked among those over 60, who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.

Social murder

The racist structure of British society, rooted in Britain’s parasitic relationship with other countries, impacts on BAME workers from the day they are born or arrive in Britain, subjecting them to exploitation, while denying the resources to live healthy lives. Immigration controls limit the rights of workers from other countries, particularly those from economically underdeveloped countries, forcing them to endure extremes of exploitation. British capitalism relies on the labour of BAME and migrant workers for many critical roles, which in times of pandemic are also some of the most dangerous. Capitalism’s perversity is revealed in the way these socially essential workers are treated, with low pay and precariousness further increasing their vulnerability. Their death certificates may say ‘Covid-19’, but the real killer is racist British capitalism.

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Government health failures kill thousands

 By: HANNAH CALLER and ROBERT CLOUGH

The decision by the Tory government to ease the lockdown from 11 May demonstrates both its contempt for working class lives and its lack of any consistent strategy for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The track and trace app with supporting contact staff, supposed to be in place at the beginning of June, will not be fully up and running until at least the end of the month. Supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are still inadequate; testing is a fraction of what it needs to be to suppress the virus. Britain has the most deaths in Europe and is second only to the US, the direct consequence of Tory government incompetence. Now, forcing people back to work merely risks a new spike in both infections and deaths. HANNAH CALLER and ROBERT CLOUGH report.

As at 28 May, the total number of government recorded Covid-19 deaths across England stood at 33,710, with a further 2,304 in Scotland and 1,307 in Wales. But these figures are incomplete: on the same day, NHS England stated that the number of hospital Covid-19 deaths stood at 26,235, while outside hospital, 12,120 care home residents died of Covid-19 between 11 April and 22 May alone (Care Quality Commission). The Office for National Statistics estimates that there have been up to 60,000 excess deaths over the period which may be attributed to the virus. During the pandemic peak between 8 and 11 April, 860 patients a day were dying in hospital (five-day rolling average); the figure on 11 May was still 192 (135 on 28 May). Despite the falling number of Covid-19 hospital patients, Intensive Care Units (ICU) are estimated to be running at up to 150% of their pre-pandemic levels.

When Prime Minister Johnson announced the lockdown changes, the so-called R ratio, the rate of infection spread, was still perilously close to one across England with the exception of London. Above one and the epidemic will resume its exponential spread. The figures for positive tests the government publishes on a daily basis do not reflect the true spread of the virus. For instance, an ONS pilot survey estimates an average 60,000 new infections a week over a 3-week period starting 27 April, double the official number of 85,000 positive cases for the same period. The Kings College mobile phone app, which claims 3.7 million users, is in broad agreement with the ONS survey, estimating that there are still 70,000 new infections a week.

Government incompetence

Dealing with this sort of pandemic is first and foremost a public health issue. The guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation for controlling communicable diseases are clear: it requires case finding, contact tracing and testing, isolation and quarantine where necessary. This demands clear government direction and meticulous work on the ground supported by adequate resources. At every point, the Tory government failed. By mid-January hospitalisation figures in China showed the seriousness of the virus, with a third of patients needing intensive care. But Prime Minister Johnson missed five Cobra emergency meetings between January and mid-February. On 25 February, the government said it was ‘very unlikely’ that the virus would spread to care homes; the next day Johnson announced a ‘herd immunity’ strategy. When it was shown that this would lead to up to 500,000 deaths, the government had to change course; nevertheless on 2 March Johnson boasted ‘we are very, very well prepared’. Two days later, the government suspended publication of daily infection rates but had to restore them after it was clear it was trying to cover up for the accelerating spread of the virus. Public events were allowed to continue with Johnson claiming that banning events such as the Cheltenham Festival on 16-19 March would have little effect on the spread of the virus; four days after it ended, the lockdown which he had fought to avoid started. Over a three-week period from 26 March the government missed four opportunities to join a joint EU procurement for PPE. On 1 April, the Evening Standard revealed that a mere 0.17% of NHS staff had received a coronavirus test; two days later, the hospital death toll exceeded that of China. On 21 April the government failed to reach its target for face masks for NHS staff as would-be manufacturers were met with silence in their application to join a government scheme. Two days later, the government announced testing kits for 10 million key workers; only 5,000 were available.

The decade-long assault on the NHS has made matters worse. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act removed public health management from the NHS in England and placed it under the direct control of the Department of Health. Much of the NHS’s public health resources were then divested to local authorities which became responsible for improving public health. Although public health funding was ring-fenced, the 2020/21 allocation of £3.3bn was £1bn short of what was needed to keep pace with inflation and population growth.

Testing shambles

On 12 March, without explanation, the Department of Health stopped the PHE programme of testing and contact tracing, although it was not difficult to fathom why – there were not enough tests available. By 5 May, Britain had the lowest testing rate in Europe, 10.13 tests per 1,000 people at which point Italy’s rate was 32.73, Ireland’s, 31 and Germany’s, 30.4. The government failed to meet its self-imposed target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April and only met it nine times in the following 20 days. Numbers were inflated by counting the nasal and throat swabs on a single person as two tests rather than one. The government set up a privatised programme managed by Serco and Deloitte to run 50 testing centres and three new processing laboratories. The simpler solution, to use GP practices to do the tests and existing hospital laboratories to process the results was not considered. The result? 50,000 tests had to be sent secretly to the US for processing, making them clinically useless. There is no strategy: the system that the government has established is arbitrary and individualised, does not support any local contact tracing and does not target those most at risk, and is still insufficient for testing at-risk NHS staff.

Field day for private companies

The pandemic has been a bonanza for private companies. Since the start of the pandemic, state bodies have awarded at least 177 contracts worth £1.1bn to commercial firms. 115 of those were awarded under the fast-track rules bypassing competitive tenders. These private companies have got the contracts without the need to bid for work. Accountancy firms Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst&Young are among the beneficiaries. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has accelerated the transfer of public health duties to the private sector. Serco has now got the deal to supply 15,000 call handlers for the proposed tracking and tracing operation who are expected to work a six day, 42-hour week on the minimum hourly wage of £8.72. Staff on this poverty pay are nonetheless expected to be ‘passionate about…delivering an outstanding customer experience’ and ‘a great communicator…who wakes up every day wanting to exceed client and customer expectations.’ (Job advertisement in Preston)

Ministers have bypassed normal tendering processes and given contracts to private companies and management consultants without competition. Covid-19 drive-through testing centres, the purchasing of PPE and the building of the Nightingale Hospitals have all involved commissions to Deloitte, KPMG, Serco, Sodexo, Mitie, Boots and the US data mining group Palantir. The Department of Health has instructed NHS trusts to stop buying their own PPE and ventilators and use centralised procurement run by a private consortium. This has already hit problems, requiring the transfer of NHS procurement staff to make it work. Such lucrative deals, made with no public scrutiny, transparency or accountability, will inevitably mean public money is wasted on overpriced equipment or substandard services. Randox, a healthcare firm which employs Conservative MP Owen Paterson for £100,000 a year, was awarded a £133m contract by the Department of Health to produce Covid-19 testing kits.

The pandemic has revealed the parlous state of NHS hospitals, the result of chronic underfunding over the past decade of Tory-led governments. The outcome is the worst performance against the A&E 4-hour waiting time target (68.6% in January against 95%) with Secretary of State Matt Hancock suggesting it should be abolished; 4.5 million people waiting for routine elective care; just over 80% waiting less than 18 weeks for their first appointment (target 92%). These cuts mean that Britain has 2.8 doctors and 7.8 nurses per 1,000 people, compared with OECD averages of 3.5 and 8.8 respectively; there are 100,000 staff vacancies in the NHS in England including 45,000 nursing vacancies.

In 2011 the Influenza Pandemic Preparedness Strategy warned of the need ‘to increase capacity of these [critical care] services’, and the government was warned again in 2016 after Exercise Cygnus concluded that there was a severe shortage of PPE and ventilators and poor preparedness for a flu pandemic. This report was covered up. When the pandemic struck, hospitals had to effectively split themselves in half overnight by turning one part into a separate infectious disease hospital and more than double their high dependency (HDU) and critical care (ICU) capacity; reallocate a huge proportion of their staff, retraining nurses into HDU/ICU roles; obtain where possible extra respirators and ventilators as well as virtually non-existent PPE. Inevitably tragic mistakes were made: thousands of patients were hurriedly discharged into care homes, among them Covid-19 sufferers who had not been tested and thereby initiating the huge surge in care home cases and deaths; the completely inadequate testing of NHS staff meant that hospital-acquired infection became a serious problem, with unofficial reports suggesting that it may have amounted to between 5% and 20% of Covid-19 hospital patients.

Capitalism divides us

Covid-19 is not the great leveller as the Tories claimed. Lockdown of any degree is harder in small, overcrowded, badly-maintained housing. Food bank usage doubled in the first two weeks of lockdown with almost 40% of children in Britain living below the poverty line. Covid-19 and lockdown cause collateral damage affecting the most vulnerable, the young and the elderly, children and adults with learning difficulties and those with mental health problems. Men and women working in social care, including care workers and home carers, have significantly higher rates of death involving Covid-19 than those of the same age and sex in the general population (23.4 deaths per 100,000 for men care workers compared to 9.9 per 100,000 in the general male population). The highest death rates are among low-skilled workers such as security guards and taxi drivers (45.7 deaths per 100,000 men and 36.4 deaths per 100,000 men respectively). The risk of Covid-19-related death for BAME men and women is 1.9 times that of white men and women after taking into account age, other socio-demographic characteristics and measures of self-reported health and disability.

Test, test, test and trace

The Tory government is directly culpable for the deaths of tens of thousands. It has delayed decisions, it has demonstrated continual and almost unbelievable levels of incompetence in the management of testing, in the procurement and distribution of PPE kits, in its declaration that care homes would be adequately protected against the spread of the virus, in its total lack of planning in relaxing the lockdown, in its disregard of the lives of teachers and education staff as it drives to re-open primary schools. As it once again plays with the lives of working class people, we have to support any movement which demands the basic steps to protect our lives: universal planned, organised and systematic testing of the population; planned, organised and systematic contact tracing; maintenance of quarantine conditions where needed; requisitioning of food supplies to ensure the poor do not suffer from hunger; a planned system for producing and distributing PPE to all at risk workers; and full employment rights for all workers who refuse to work in unsafe conditions.

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UK offers Hong Kongers immigration rights after new China law

A man displays the Hong Kong colonial flag on the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July. 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. — AP
A man displays the Hong Kong colonial flag on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July. 1, 2020. Hong Kong marked the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China in 1997, and just one day after China enacted a national security law that cracks down on protests in the territory. — AP

Britain on Wednesday extended Hong Kong residents immigration rights after calling China’s new security law for Hong Kong a “serious” violation of the former UK territory’s autonomy.

The legislation has been widely denounced in the West since it was imposed on the former British colony on Tuesday.

“We stand for rules and obligations,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament.

“And we think that is the scientific basis for our international relations and the enactment, and deposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

Johnson said London had warned Beijing that it would introduce a new route for those with British National Overseas status to enter the UK, granting them the right to live and work in Britain and then to apply for citizenship. “And that is precisely what we will do now,” Johnson said.

Britain’s new offer applies to an estimated three million Hong Kongers but Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab refused to be drawn about how many would take up the offer.

Hong Kong was under UK jurisdiction until Britain handed it to China in 1997 with a guarantee that Beijing would preserve the city’s judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years.

But critics say the new security law, passed by Beijing’s parliament this week, tests the limits of a “One Country, Two Systems” deal that formally signed into international law in 1984.

Raab said Hong Kongers with BNO status and their dependents would be offered the right to work or study in Britain for five years.

They would then have the right to apply for settled status and then possible citizenship.

He said there would be “no quotas” for the settled and citizenship route, in what he called a “bespoke” immigration system for Hong Kong.

“We will not duck our historic responsibility to its people,” Raab said, calling the national security law’s passing a “grave and deeply disturbing step”.

He said China had not only broken the joint declaration but its own basic laws on Hong Kong, and international obligations to respect autonomy and rights in the territory.

“China, through this national security legislation, is not living up to its promises to the people of Hong Kong. We will live up to our promises to them,” he told lawmakers.

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China expels American journalists as spat with US escalates

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that Beijing's move to expel journalists at three US newspapers would deprive the world and Chinese people of information in "incredibly challenging times". —AP/File
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that Beijing’s move to expel journalists at three US newspapers would deprive the world and Chinese people of information in “incredibly challenging times”. —AP/File

China withdrew the press credentials of American journalists at three US newspapers on Wednesday, intensifying a bitter fight between the world’s top two economies over the spread of coronavirus and press freedoms.

The move comes after Beijing expelled three Wall Street Journal correspondents — two Americans and an Australian — last month following an opinion column by the newspaper that called China the “real sick man of Asia”.

The day before, the United States had announced that it would begin treating five Chinese state-run media entities with US operations the same as foreign embassies.

China denounced the newspaper’s column as racist and, after the newspaper declined to apologise, revoked the visas of the three reporters in Beijing. Another reporter with the paper had to leave last year after China declined to renew his visa.

Read: China expels WSJ reporter who wrote about Xi’s cousin

Then, in early March, Washington said it was slashing the number of Chinese nationals permitted to work at the US offices of four major Chinese state-owned media outlets to 100, from 160 previously. It cited a “deepening crackdown” on independent reporting inside China.

As the tit-for-tat battle escalated, Beijing on Wednesday announced that American journalists with press credentials expiring this year who work with The New York Times, the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, would not be permitted to work in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau. It said they must hand back their press cards within ten days. It was not immediately clear how many journalists were affected.

It also said the China branches of the three papers plus the Voice of America broadcaster and Time magazine must “declare in written form information about their staff, finance, operation and real estate in China.”

Beijing said it was retaliating against US restrictions on Chinese journalists.

A striking aspect of Beijing’s response was its decision to bar the journalists from working in Hong Kong and Macau, two semi-autonomous territories of China with their own media accreditation rules. In the past, foreign journalists kicked out of China were allowed to work in Hong Kong.

This raised questions about Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” agreement that still prevails between the territory and the mainland.

“There’s no precedent for China dictating who can and can’t report from Hong Kong openly,” said Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia program coordinator. “It very seriously erodes Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom of the press.”

The latest development follows a war of words between Washington and Beijing over the outbreak of the new coronavirus that causes the sometimes fatal, highly contagious respiratory illness COVID-19. The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has so far killed 7,400 people across the world, and almost brought normal life to a standstill.

Read: US, China accuse each other of coronavirus fear-mongering

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at a State Department news conference that Beijing’s move on Wednesday would deprive the world and the Chinese people of information in “incredibly challenging” times brought about by the coronavirus.

“I regret China’s decision today to further foreclose the world’s ability to conduct the free press operations that frankly would be really good for the Chinese people,” he said. “This is unfortunate … I hope they’ll reconsider.”

Media executives denounce move

“We unequivocally condemn any action by China to expel US reporters,” said The Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron in a statement. “The Chinese government’s decision is particularly regrettable because it comes in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis, when clear and reliable information about the international response to COVID-19 is essential.”

Dean Baquet, executive editor at The New York Times, also condemned the decision.

“It is a grave mistake for China to move backwards and cut itself off from several of the world’s top news organisations,” he said.

Matt Murray, Editor in Chief at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires, said: “We oppose government interference with a free press anywhere in the world. Our commitment to reporting fully and deeply on China is unchanged.”

Time Editor in Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal said: “We oppose any effort by the Chinese government or any other government to expel reporters or intimidate those whose job is to provide accurate information, especially during this crucial period for the world.”

A representative of Voice of America was not immediately reachable.

Beijing said on Wednesday that its actions “are entirely necessary and reciprocal countermeasures that China is compelled to take in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organisations experience in the United States”.

Pompeo said he did not think Beijing’s latest move was a balanced response. “This isn’t apples to apples,” he said, charging that the Chinese journalists who had faced restrictions were part of “propaganda outlets”.

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In retaliation to US move, China orders 4 American media outlets to give details on staff

AP, UPI, CBS and NPR are required to provide information about staff, financial operations and real estate in China within a week foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing. — AFP/File
AP, UPI, CBS and NPR are required to provide information about staff, financial operations and real estate in China within a week foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing. — AFP/File

China has asked four United States media organisations to submit details about their operations in the country, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday in what it described as retaliation for US measures against Chinese media outlets.

The Associated PressUPICBS, and National Public Radio are required to provide information about their staff, financial operations and real estate in China within seven days, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing.

“We urge the US to immediately change course, correct its error, and desist in the political suppression and unreasonable restriction of Chinese media,” Zhao said.

The US and China have been engaged in a series of retaliatory actions involving journalists in recent months, amid increasing tensions over a range of issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to Hong Kong.

Last month, the US said it would start treating another four major Chinese state media outlets as foreign embassies, following similar measures taken by Washington earlier in the year. That designation similarly required the outlets to report their personnel and real estate holdings.

In March, China expelled about a dozen US journalists from the New York Times, the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. At the time, it also asked those outlets, as well as broadcaster Voice of America and Time magazine, to provide details on their China operations.

That had followed Washington’s move to slash the number of journalists permitted to work in the US at four major Chinese state-owned media outlets.

The APNPRCBS and UPI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In May, Washington limited visas for Chinese reporters to a 90-day period, with the option for extension. Previously, such visas were typically open-ended.

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Kashmir: Indian Nazi troops kill elderly man

IOK erupts in protest after Indian troops kill elderly man travelling with 3-year-old grandson

Relatives of civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan shout slogans as they grieve inside his residence on the outskirts of Srinagar on July 1. — AFP
Relatives of civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan shout slogans as they grieve inside his residence on the outskirts of Srinagar on July 1. — AFP
Relatives of civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan shout slogans as they grieve inside his residence on the outskirts of Srinagar on July 1. — AP
Relatives of civilian Bashir Ahmed Khan shout slogans as they grieve inside his residence on the outskirts of Srinagar on July 1. — AP

Hundreds of people in occupied Kashmir staged protests on Wednesday, accusing government forces of killing an elderly man in front of his minor grandson during a gun battle with Kashmiri fighters, which also left a trooper dead.

The Kashmiri fighters opened fire from a mosque attic in the northern town of Sopore, setting off a battle with security forces, paramilitary police spokesperson Junaid Khan told AFP.

The family of Bashir Ahmed Khan alleged that he was dragged out of his car after the showdown and shot dead by paramilitary troopers.

His three-year-old grandson, who was travelling with him, was later pictured sitting on his chest.

Disclaimer: The photo below on the right contains sensitive content which some people may find disturbing.


The child is pictured sitting on his grandfather's chest.
The child is pictured sitting on his grandfather’s chest.

“Locals said that he [Khan] was brought out of his car and shot dead by the forces,” Farooq Ahmed, a nephew of the deceased man told AFP.

“They told us that someone in uniform then put the child on his chest as he lay dead on the road and took photographs,” Farooq Ahmed said.

The photo of the child sat on the body of his dead grandfather was widely shared on social media.

Paramilitary spokesman Khan said the allegation was “baseless”. Police also denied the claims, saying legal action would be taken for “false reports and rumours”.

“There was no retaliation from the security forces,” Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar told reporters.

Hundreds assembled at the man’s funeral near the main city of Srinagar shouting, “We want freedom”.

Relatives and neighbours offer funeral prayers for Bashir Ahmed in Srinagar on July 1. — AFP
Relatives and neighbours offer funeral prayers for Bashir Ahmed in Srinagar on July 1. — AFP

Government forces have intensified counterinsurgency operations against Kashmiri fighters since a coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.

Since January, at least 229 people have been killed during over 100 military operations across occupied Kashmir, including 32 civilians, 54 government forces and 143 fighters, according to the Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a rights group.

Condemnations pour in

Reacting to the incident, Amnesty India said that officials had violated the law by disclosing the identity of the minor.

“It is also a breach of the ‘best interests of the child’ principle as required to be the basis of any action by authorities under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a state party.”

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the image of the three-year-old sitting on his grandfather’s “lifeless, bullet-ridden body” exposed the real face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “fascist India”.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif also condemned the killing.

In a tweet, he said: “Widespread human rights abuses by fascist Modi govt constitute an acid test for the international community.”


Shehbaz Sharif (Stay at home to stay safe)@CMShehbazStrongly condemn the killing of 60 years old Bashir Ahmad in cold blood in front of his grandson by Indian occupation forces in IOK. Widespread human rights abuses by fascist Modi govt constitute an acid test for the international community. May Allah give Sabr to bereaved family3:14 PM · Jul 1, 2020

Tweeting the picture of the deceased’s grandson sitting on his chest, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said she was “searching for words to describe […] the grief & helplessness of the Kashmiri people.”

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All 4 terrorists killed in attempt to storm Pakistan Stock Exchange compound in Karachi: Rangers

By: Imtiaz Ali | Naveed Siddiqui

A damaged car seen near site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV
A damaged car seen near site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV
Policemen guard as members of Crime Scene Unit investigate around a car used by alleged gunmen at the main entrance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange building on June 29. — AFP
Policemen guard as members of Crime Scene Unit investigate around a car used by alleged gunmen at the main entrance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange building on June 29. — AFP
Security forces killed four attackers who attempted to storm the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Security forces killed four attackers who attempted to storm the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
A damaged car seen near site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV
A damaged car seen near site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV
Policemen guard as members of Crime Scene Unit investigate around a car used by alleged gunmen at the main entrance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange building on June 29. — AFP
Policemen guard as members of Crime Scene Unit investigate around a car used by alleged gunmen at the main entrance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange building on June 29. — AFP
Security forces killed four attackers who attempted to storm the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Security forces killed four attackers who attempted to storm the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
A damaged car seen near site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV
A damaged car seen near site of the attack. — DawnNewsTV

Security forces killed four terrorists who attempted to storm the Pakistan Stock Exchange compound in Karachi in a gun and grenade attack on Monday morning.

According to a police statement, one sub-inspector and three security guards were martyred in the attack. Seven people, including three police officials, have been injured, the statement said.

The attackers, armed with grenades and automatic rifles, launched the attack and attempted to enter the PSX compound, which is in a high-security zone that also houses the head offices of several banks.

Security personnel, including police and Rangers, intercepted the attackers and killed all four of them, Sindh Rangers said. A clearance operation was conducted later.

Police said that advanced weaponry, hand grenades and explosive material was recovered from the terrorists’ custody. Officials of the Bomb Disposal Unit also arrived at the scene of the attack and scoured the site, including a “suspected car” parked outside PSX that may have been used by the terrorists, for any explosive material.

A broken glass at the entrance to the PSX compound. — Photo: Shahzeb Ahmed
A broken glass at the entrance to the PSX compound. — Photo: Shahzeb Ahmed

The Karachi additional inspector general of police directed officials to tighten the security of all important offices and trading centres across the city after the attack.

Rizwan Ahmed, a police official at the scene, told AP that food supplies were found on the bodies of the gunmen, indicating they may have planned a long siege, which police quickly thwarted.

Inside the stock exchange, broker Yaqub Memon told AP that he and others were huddled inside their offices while the attack was underway.

Three attackers identified

Three of the four attackers were identified through their fingers prints as Salman, Tasleem Baloch and Siraj, all of whom belonged to Balochistan’s Kech area, senior CTD official Raja Umar Khattab said in the evening.

The four militants were aged between 20 and 30 years and suffered multiple bullet wounds, according to police surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi.

One of the attackers was killed at a distance of 25 feet from their car, another at 26 feet, third at 300 feet and fourth at 312 feet, Khattab added.

The car was purchased by Salman from a showroom located at Old Subzi Mandi by paying cash for which he had also submitted his original CNIC, the record of which was possessed by the Excise Department.

According to Khattab, the attackers drove from Gharibabad interchange of Lyari Expressway and used Mauripur Road for the attack. The CTD has launched a probe after obtaining evidence, he added.

‘Eight-minute operation’

Sindh Rangers Director General Omer Ahmed Bukhari, during a press conference in the afternoon, said that the terrorists were eliminated within eight minutes. He told reporters that the attackers arrived at the scene in a car at 10:02am and they were killed by security forces by 10:10am.

Once the attackers were killed, security personnel carried out a clearance operation and normalcy was restored to the area within 30-35 minutes.

He said that the terrorists had planned a long assault, that included bloodshed and holding people inside the building hostage. All the attackers were equipped with AK47s, hand grenades and food.

Sindh Rangers Director General Omer Ahmed Bukhari addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV
Sindh Rangers Director General Omer Ahmed Bukhari addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV

The DG said that a tweet had been posted in which the attack has been attributed to the Balochistan Liberation Army outfit, adding that a final statement on it will be issued after investigation.

In response to a question, the DG acknowledged that the attack bore similarities to an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi that was carried out by BLA militants in 2018.

Bukhari added that the possibility of the involvement of foreign agencies, especially India’s Research and Analysis Wing, cannot be ruled out, saying that such attacks are not “stand-alone incidents” and cannot take place without the aid of “outside intelligence agencies”.

“Straightaway, I can assure you that this terrorist incident cannot have taken place without [the help of an] outside agency. And among them, RAW’s frustration is apparent to all of you,” he said.

Responding to a question, Bukhari denied the suggestion that the attack represented an intelligence failure, adding that security forces’ response was “in place” and the militants “could not achieve any of their motives”.

Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon also backed Bukhari’s statement, saying that since the attack on Chinese consulate, there have been other attempts that were foiled by security agencies. He said that it was a triumph for the country’s security forces as they had responded promptly and thwarted the motives of the attackers.

“We were prepared when they came, we had a good response, we had good coordination with intelligence,” he said.

Bukhari said that the militants may have wanted to show that they have the ability to target high-profile places but they had been humiliated because they were eliminated within minutes. The Sindh Rangers DG said that investor confidence in the country had increased.

Trading ongoing

Rescue services at the site of the attack. — Photo provided by Imtiaz Ali
Rescue services at the site of the attack. — Photo provided by Imtiaz Ali

PSX Board Chairman Sulaiman S. Mehdi said “trading didn’t close even for a minute”.

“There is no doubt that this was a terrorist attack. I want to thank the security guards who embraced martyrdom for their service. The response of police and security forces was unbelievable. Our personal guards deterred the terrorists until police came in; they were not allowed to enter the building at all,” said Mehdi.

Around 1:20pm, the benchmark index at the PSX was up 0.31pc or 104 points at 34,044.

PSX Managing Director Farrukh Khan termed the attack “unfortunate” and praised the security forces for their timely response. While speaking to Geo News, he said the number of people in the compound was lower than normal — usually close to 6,000 — since many employees were working from home due to Covid-19.

He said that the terrorists were intercepted outside the entrance and only one of them had entered the compound, and that too “only a few steps”. None of them entered the trading hall or the building, said Khan, adding that trading had not stopped and was still continuing.

Security personnel seen at the PSX entrance following the attack. — Photo: Shahzeb Ahmed
Security personnel seen at the PSX entrance following the attack. — Photo: Shahzeb Ahmed

Following the attack at PSX, Islamabad Inspector General Mohammad Amir Zulfiqar Khan issued a security high alert and directed all senior officials to remain at their zones. Checking at all entry and exit points of the city has been increased and citizens have been told to cooperate with the police.

He instructed senior officials to personally check security arrangements and present their reports.

FM Qureshi, SAPM Yusuf point finger at India

While strongly condemning the attack, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a statement paid tribute to the security personnel who lost their lives.

He suggested that India was involved in the deadly attack, recalling that he had stated after an attack in Waziristan that New Delhi had activated its “sleeper cells” in the country. The circumstances of today’s attack, if examined, “will lead to the same sleeper cells”, Qureshi added.

“India cannot tolerate peace in Pakistan,” the minister said, adding that India was involved in the attack on Pakistani troops as well.

He said India was being “exposed” before the world, including through its confrontation with China in Ladakh and its oppression of people in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Qureshi said Pakistani agencies are “fully alert” to all threats. “We will foil all Indian strategies [and] further expose it in front of the world,” he added.


Shah Mahmood Qureshi@SMQureshiPTI
Strongly condemn attempted terrorist attack on #PakistanStockExchange, thwarted by valiant security personnel, 4 of whom sacrificed their lives protecting Pakistan. We have repeatedly warned about externally supported terrorism. PSX is safe & open for business.

🇵🇰

Zindabad

Image

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf tweeted: “Make no mistake, today’s attack in Karachi is state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan.”

He said the world “must wake up to suicidal tendencies of this destabilising actor that is finding distractions to overcome its own failures and embarrassment”.

“Our warnings have come true repeatedly. Whether on demographic re-engineering in #Kashmir or sponsored terrorism against Pakistan,” he added, without naming India.


Moeed W. Yusuf@YusufMoeed
·Jun 29, 2020Pakistan’s enemy is naked in its aggression. Make no mistake, today’s attack in Karachi is state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan. Our valiant countrymen and women have fought against this menace before and our resolve remains resolute.

Moeed W. Yusuf@YusufMoeedThe world must wake up to suicidal tendencies of this destabilizing actor that is finding distractions to overcome its own failures and embarrasment. Our warnings have come true repeatedly. Whether on demographic re-engineering in #Kashmir or sponsored terrorism against Pakistan.11:51 AM · Jun 29, 2020

In a later tweet, Yusuf called upon the international community to “publicly call out and condemn countries” that perpetrate terrorism against Pakistan.

“There is an established link between BLA, an international listed terror organisation, and India, a state led by [a] fascist government that has again perpetrated terrorism in Pakistan through its proxies,” he wrote.


Moeed W. Yusuf@YusufMoeedThe int’l community must publicly call out & condemn countries that perpetrate terrorism against Pakistan. There is an established link b/w BLA, an int’l listed terror org, and India, a state led by fascist govt that has again perpetrated terrorism in Pakistan through its proxies2:47 PM · Jun 29, 2020

Report and condemnations

Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Mahar demanded a report of the incident from the DIG South.

Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to honour the security personnel who lost their lives in the attack. “I salute our brave police and security personnel who thwarted the condemnable terrorist attack in Karachi on #PakistanStockExchange,” he said.


Imran Khan@ImranKhanPTI
I salute our brave police & security personnel who thwarted the condemnable terrorist attack in Karachi on

Image

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah condemned the incident, saying that the attack was “akin to an attack on national security and economy”.

“Anti-state elements want to take advantage of the virus situation,” he said in a statement.

He lauded the “prompt action” by police and Rangers and directed all law enforcement agencies to be more vigilant.

While chairing a meeting on law and order later in the day, Chief Minister Shah directed law enforcement agencies to “intensify” targeted operations and further strengthen intelligence gathering “so that the emerging threat of terrorists could be crushed all over Sindh”, according to a statement issued by his office.

Police and Rangers officers told Shah a targeted operation will be started against militants in Karachi and other districts of the province within 24 hours.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail also condemned the incident, saying: “We shall protect Sindh at all costs.”


Imran Ismail@ImranIsmailPTIStrongly condemn the attack on PSX aimed at tarnishing our relentless war on terror. Have instructed the IG & security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are caught alive & their handlers are accorded exemplary punishments. We shall protect Sindh at all costs.6:45 AM · Jun 29, 2020

Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa paid tribute to the PSX security guards “who sacrificed their lives as first responders vigilantly checking terrorists’ entry to PSX [and] foiling a major terrorist incident”, according to a tweet by the military’s media wing.

He also lauded the “prompt, effective and integrated response” of Rangers and Sindh Police, which he noted resulted in the terrorists being eliminated in “shortest possible time”.

“With [the] support of our resilient nation, we will foil all efforts of enemies aimed at destabilising hard-earned peace achieved through sacrifices of our martyrs,” the ISPR quoted Gen Bajwa as saying.


DG ISPR@OfficialDGISPR#COAS paid glowing tributes to security guards of #PSX, who sacrificed their lives as first responders vigilantly checking terrorist’s entry to PSX foiling a major terrorist incident. Appreciating LEAs for their operational readiness, COAS lauded prompt, effective… (1/2)1:15 PM · Jun 29, 2020

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari tweeted that the “cowardly” attack was thwarted by the “brave and timely action by Sindh Police”.

“All Pakistanis are grateful to Sindh police for not only saving so many live[s] but successfully defending the nerve centre of Pakistan’s economy.”


BilawalBhuttoZardari@BBhuttoZardari

The cowardly attack on #KarachiStockExcahnge was thwarted by the brave & timely action by Sindh Police. All Pakistanis are grateful to Sindh police for not only saving so many live but successfully defending the nerve centre of Pakistan’s economy.12:29 PM · Jun 29, 2020

The provincial Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah arrived at the PSX after the attack and while speaking to the media, lauded the response by the security officials “whose sacrifice turned this huge act of terrorism into a failure”.

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry in a tweet said that an investigation of the incident must be held from “all angles”.

“Foreign hands and planning of a network similar to Kulbhushan Jadhav’s are involved in this attack.”

He also lauded the law enforcement agencies for their “remarkable performance”.


Ch Fawad Hussain@fawadchaudhryکراچی اسٹاک ایکسچینج حملے کی ہر پہلو سے تحقیقات ہونی چاہئیں، اس حملے میں بیرونی ہاتھ ملوث ہے اور کلبھوشن یادیو جیسے نیٹ ورک کی پلاننگ شامل ہے، قانون نافذ کرنے والےاداروں کی شاندار کارکردگی نے بڑے نقصان سے بچایا، #سلام_پاکستان10:04 AM · Jun 29, 2020

Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) and Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi in a tweet paid tribute to the “brave officers and sepoys who averted the terrorist attack”.

“Our LEAs are fully prepared, ready and standing strong against such coward acts of attacking a civilian office,” he wrote.


Shehryar Afridi@ShehryarAfridi1Hats off to brave officers & sepoys who averted the terrorist attack on KSE. Our LEAs are fully prepared, ready and standing strong against such coward acts of attacking a civilian office. All prayers for martyrs for foiling this attack11:35 AM · Jun 29, 2020

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on All 4 terrorists killed in attempt to storm Pakistan Stock Exchange compound in Karachi: Rangers

Pakistan: terrorists attempt to storm Stock Exchange compound

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

All 4 terrorists killed in attempt to storm Pakistan Stock Exchange compound

Security forces killed four terrorists who attempted to storm the Pakistan Stock Exchange compound in Karachi in a gun and grenade attack on Monday morning.

According to a police statement, one sub-inspector and three security guards were martyred in the attack. Seven people, including three police officials, have been injured, the statement said.

The attackers, armed with grenades and automatic rifles, launched the attack and attempted to enter the PSX compound, which is in a high-security zone that also houses the head offices of several banks.

Security personnel, including police and Rangers, intercepted the attackers and killed all four of them, Sindh Rangers said. A clearance operation was conducted later.

Police said that advanced weaponry, hand grenades and explosive material was recovered from the terrorists’ custody. Officials of the Bomb Disposal Unit also arrived at the scene of the attack and scoured the site, including a “suspected car” parked outside PSX that may have been used by the terrorists, for any explosive material.

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Pakistan: terrorists attempt to storm Stock Exchange compound

Iran issued an arrest warrant for President trump

Cartoons: Trump's wild assertion about low-flow toilets

Subject: Iran issued an arrest warrant for President Trump

Dear editor,

Iran is now getting much smarter by using the same tactics employed by President Trump who imposed crippling and devastating sanctions on Iranian people in addition to putting the country on his “Hate-List”. The Iranian government has asked the Interpole (The International Criminal Police Organization) this week to help enforce an arrest warrant for President Donald J. Trump for the killing of General Qasem Suliamani near Baghdad International Airport last January. President Trump ordered the drone strike which also killed four Iranian and five Iraqi nationals alongside Suliamani.  The day after, Trump threatened to hit 52 targets in Iran including cultural sites, which is considered a war crime.

Trump will have a hell of a time once he becomes a private citizen in early 2021 as he would face a bounty on his head by Iran. In the event the Interpole rejects Iran’s request, Iran should consider hiring Gen. Michael Flynn and his son Michael Jr. to execute the order. Just like John Bolton, most Trump’s royalists put profit over principle. 
While Iran is at it, it should have issued another arrest warrant for the death of 125,000 Americans. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is his address. Good luck!

Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Iran issued an arrest warrant for President trump

Brazil production, profit and death

BRUMADINHO: ISRAEL'S PUBLICITY STUNT IN BRAZIL | Latuff Cartoons

 By: Alvaro Michaels

The resignation of health minister Nelson Teich, on 15 May, in protest at the preposterous medical suggestions of President Bolsonaro, less than a month after his predecessor was sacked, has shaken Bolsonaro’s position. The previous minister, Luiz Mandetta, refused to back Bolsonaro’s demands that shops and schools reopen. With more than 24,500 reported Covid-19 deaths (27 May), in a country where such reporting is hopelessly inadequate, Bolsonaro has sought to keep everyone working, whatever the personal cost. His contempt for workers’ lives is undeniable; when asked about the deaths he replied, ‘So what?’

The Covid-19 outbreak has dramatically exposed capitalism, and so its ruling classes, to a simple choice: protect workers or force them to work, irrespective of the consequences. Desperate to renew accumulation, plans to return to work are concocted everywhere. What we see is the basic demand of capital: work, whatever the conditions, or starve. In the imperialist states, there exists a thin cushion of state credit to suspend the exploitation of workers for a few months. In Brazil this barely exists. Bolsonaro represents the real pressure of capital on labour; work and be damned. For example, in the slums of Brasilia unemployment, hunger and lack of money will see major riots, with inevitable looting, if the shutdown continues. The favelas have been abandoned by central government – 70 million people live in Brazil’s slums – many areas lacking water, making the fight against the coronavirus impossible. The health system is incapable of dealing with the load, thousands dying without treatment. The poorest, and so weakest, are hit first, whether working or not. Black Brazilians successfully went to court in Rio on 4 May to get details of the ethnicity of Covid-19 victims recorded. These details were excluded from a third of reports, concealing the class impact of disease.

Bolsonaro denied any problem. Only from 17 March did individual states begin declaring a variety of responses, but with Bolsonaro calling the pandemic a ‘little flu’, insisting it was all an exaggeration and that everyone could carry on as normal. However, just in case, he has blamed the Chinese Communist Party. Polls indicate that 64% of the population reject his handling of the crisis and some 49% want him impeached. On 19 May a virtual demonstration was organised by five ‘left-of-centre’ political parties – Sustainability Network, Green Party, Brazilian Socialist Party, Democratic Labour Party and Citizenship calling for the president’s impeachment. Pot -banging protests from shutdown neighbourhoods are regular. Ex-president Lula accused Bolsonaro of ‘leading Brazil to the slaughterhouse’.

Teich’s resignation came after that of ex-justice minister Sergio Moro. Moro is trying to salvage his own reputation following exposures by The Intercept of his collusion as judge with prosecutors in Lula’s trial. Abandoning a sinking ship, Moro seems to be preparing himself to be Bolsonaro’s successor, under a typically rightist ‘anti-corruption’ flag.

Moro resigned claiming that Bolsonaro was interfering in police investigations into allegations that one of his sons, Carlos, who runs an online fake-news network, called for a shutdown of Congress and the Supreme Court. On 19 April, supporting these calls, Bolsonaro had climbed onto a lorry outside army headquarters in Brasilia to attack these very institutions. These acts have prompted a formal probe into the president, which could lead to his impeachment, alongside other criminal investigations into the family’s associates. Brazil’s Supreme Court released an expletive-laden video of Bolsonaro demanding that he could choose the police officers he wanted.

The courts may not back Moro, and fighting back, Bolsonaro has abandoned his earlier pledge not to give legislators benefits, such as government jobs for their allies, in exchange for political support.

The stupid economy

The World Bank reckons Brazil’s economy will shrink 5.3% this year due to the pandemic, the biggest crash in over 50 years. In fact, this crisis came in two stages: the economic recession from 2014 and its failed recovery and now the slump provoked by the pandemic. Brazil’s desperate economic situation demands a major assault on the working class. Bolsonaro’s agenda is saturated with a desperate sentimentality for the 1964 to 1990 period of military government. Seven military men sit in his cabinet of 22. The economy minister, ‘Chicago Boy’ Paulo Guedes, wanted to slash spending, simplify taxes and privatise state enterprises. Horrified, he now has to promise monthly payments of US$116 (R$600) to tens of millions of informal workers and US$232 to mothers responsible for supporting their families. The impact of the aid is expected to be US$8.5bn for three months. By 26 March, the total stimulus package was US$150bn, more than the projected savings from his pensions’ reductions. On 7 May Congress ratified a constitutional amendment, allowing the central bank to begin the ‘emerging market’ world’s biggest quantitative easing programme, to finance the spending. Direct ‘monetary financing’ was previously banned. It can now provide cash for a range of private and public assets, including both government and corporate bonds. State debt will rise to about 90% of GDP this year, up from 76% last year, and the government will have to force down the interest rate to reduce debt costs. None of this will stop the deepening polarisation between the poor and rich, already the worst in the world, and the political crisis accompanying it.

Alvaro Michaels


The Amazon

During the recent rainy season, the Amazon had just 75% of typical rainfall. With less rain, it is easier to deforest because machinery can enter the forest. Land grabbers deforest one year, set fire the next, to transform forest into farmland and pastures. The soil is now drier, temperatures are higher, and groundwater is depleted. This context has made the Covid-19 crisis much worse, with Manaus, capital of the region, severely hit by the virus. Within the forests, movement of loggers and miners has spread the sickness to the indigenous tribes. These people are medically abandoned by the state, (they were being treated by Cuban doctors, now expelled). They suffer constant assaults on their lands and lives from small farmers clearing the way for the larger companies, all encouraged by the tragically dangerous Bolsonaro.

Posted in BrazilComments Off on Brazil production, profit and death

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