Vincent van Gogh Field with Irises near Arles 1888
This was Saturday. The very next day, the US supposedly led the world in supporting India.
And did we make this connection?
You use it when it’s useful. When it’s not, why bother?
If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.
– Thomas Jefferson
“The virus is swallowing our city’s people like a monster..”
• EU, UK and US Offer Support As Covid-19 ‘Swallowing’ People In India (EN)
The European Union, UK and the United States have pledged to help India as the country battles a devastating surge of COVID-19 infections. For the fourth straight day, India on Sunday set a global daily record of new cases, spurred by an insidious new variant that emerged here. The surge has undermined the government’s premature claims of victory over the pandemic. The 349,691 new infections brought India’s total to more than 16.9 million, behind only the United States. The Health Ministry reported another 2,767 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India’s fatalities to 192,311. The death toll could be a huge undercount, as suspected cases are not included, and many COVID-19 deaths are being attributed to underlying conditions.
The crisis is compounded by short supplies of oxygen with families left on their own to ferry people sick with COVID-19 from hospital to hospital in search of treatment. On social media and in television footage, desperate relatives plead for oxygen outside hospitals or weep in the street for loved ones who died waiting for treatment. In response to the spiralling situation in the southeast Asian country, the European Union has activated its Civil Protection Mechanism, which is coordinating with member states to ship oxygen and medicine rapidly.Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said she was “alarmed by the epidemiological situation in India. We are ready to support.” “The EU is pooling resources to respond rapidly to India’s request for assistance,” she added.
[..] The unfolding crisis is most visceral in India’s overwhelmed graveyards and crematoriums, and in heartbreaking images of gasping patients dying on their way to hospitals due to lack of oxygen. Burial grounds in the capital New Delhi are running out of space. Bright, glowing funeral pyres light up the night sky in other badly hit cities. In the central city of Bhopal, some crematoriums have increased their capacity from dozens of pyres to more than 50. Yet there are still hours-long waits. At the city’s Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat crematorium, workers said they cremated more than 110 people on Saturday, even as government figures in the entire city of 1.8 million put the total number of virus deaths at just 10. “The virus is swallowing our city’s people like a monster,” said Mamtesh Sharma, an official at the site.
“The United States on Sunday led international pledges of support for India..” Bwa ha ha!
• Global Pledges Of Help For Covid-stricken India (Y!)
The United States on Sunday led international pledges of support for India as the country grappled with worsening Covid-19 crisis with record daily death rates and severe medical shortages. The Indian healthcare system has struggled to cope with a huge surge in cases, leaving patients’ families begging for help on social media and the capital New Delhi forced to extend its strict lockdown. Creaking health facilities in poorer countries were also exposed on Sunday when more than 80 people died as fire ripped through a Baghdad hospital for Covid-19 patients, sparking outrage and the suspension of top Iraqi officials. Covid-19 has now killed more than three million people worldwide since emerging in China in December 2019.
India, which has a population of 1.3 billion, has driven increases in global case numbers in recent days, recording 349,691 new infections and 2,767 deaths on Sunday — the highest since the start of the pandemic. Delhi on Sunday reported more than one-quarter of those tested were positive. President Joe Biden said the United States was “determined to help India in its time of need,” immediately making available supplies of vaccine-production material, therapeutics, tests, ventilators and protective equipment. Western nations including Britain, France and Germany have also pledged help. “The United States has identified sources of specific raw material urgently required for Indian manufacture of the Covishield vaccine,” a White House statement said, referring to the India-produced version of the AstraZeneca shot.
But it did not mention whether the US would send millions of surplus AstraZeneca vaccine doses to India, after top US pandemic adviser Anthony Fauci said Sunday that would be considered.
“Sullivan “affirmed America’s solidarity with India..”
• US To Give India Raw Materials For Vaccines, Medical Supplies (CNBC)
The Biden administration said that it will immediately make raw materials needed for India’s coronavirus vaccine production available as the country works to counter the surge of Covid-19 infections. In recent weeks, India has grappled with a staggering rise in new coronavirus infections. Over the weekend, India set another global record for daily cases, bringing the nation’s cumulative total to 16,960,172 cases, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins. “Just as India sent assistance to the United States as our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the United States is determined to help India in its time of need,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement on Sunday.
Horne added that the United States would send raw materials required for India to manufacture the Covishield vaccine, as well as therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and protective equipment. “The U.S. Development Finance Corporation is funding a substantial expansion of manufacturing capability for BioE, the vaccine manufacturer in India, enabling BioE to ramp up to produce at least 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2022,” Horne wrote, adding that the U.S. would also send a team of public health advisors from the Center for Disease Control and USAID to India. The announcement comes on the heels of a Sunday call between Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Sullivan “affirmed America’s solidarity with India, the two countries with the greatest number of Covid-19 cases in the world,” according to a readout of the call. The U.S. response comes after Britain, France and Germany pledged aid to India over the weekend. On Sunday, Biden wrote on Twitter that his administration was “determined to help India in its time of need.”
“On Saturday, Twitter complied with the government’s request and prevented people in India from viewing more than 50 tweets that appeared to criticize the administration’s handling of the pandemic. ”
• Twitter Admits To Censoring Criticism of The Indian Government (Turley)
On Saturday, Twitter admitted that it is actively working with the Indian government to censor criticism of its handling of the pandemic as the number of cases and deaths continues to skyrocket. There are widespread reports that the Indian government has misrepresented the number of deaths and the true rate of cases could be as much as 30 times higher than reported. The country has a shortage of beds, oxygen, and other essentials due to a failure to adequately prepare for a new surge. Not surprisingly, the Indian government has moved to crackdown on criticism. This included a call to Twitter to censor such information and Twitter has, of course, complied.
With the support of many Democratic leaders in the United States, Twitter now regularly censors viewpoints in the United States and India had no trouble in enlisting it to crackdown on those raising the alarm over the government handling of the crisis. Buried in an Associated Press story on the raging pandemic and failures of the Indian government are these two lines: “On Saturday, Twitter complied with the government’s request and prevented people in India from viewing more than 50 tweets that appeared to criticize the administration’s handling of the pandemic. The targeted posts include tweets from opposition ministers critical of Modi, journalists and ordinary Indians.”
The article quotes Twitter as saying that it had powers to “withhold access to the content in India only” if the company determined the content to be “illegal in a particular jurisdiction.” Thus, criticism of the government in this context is illegal so Twitter has agreed to become an arm of the government in censoring information. Keep in mind that that some of this information could be true and actually protect lives. It is not “fake news” but efforts by journalists and others to disclose failures by the government that could cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
Et tu Thailand…
• Thai Public Health Miister Defies Calls To Quit Health Post (BKP)
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is facing down calls to resign over his failure to contain the Covid-19 crisis. The opposition Move Forward Party on Sunday spoke out on the government’s handling of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, alleging negligence of duty by government officials and the absence of preparations to deal with a resurgence of the virus. The party also slammed the national vaccination drive, saying the government was slow to purchase the required doses. It also criticised the government’s inability to assign beds to Covid-19 patients in a timely manner, after several patients died at home while waiting to be assigned to a treatment facility. All three waves of Covid-19 infections in the country were caused by the government’s complacency and discrimination in enforcing disease control measures, the party said.
The party demanded the minister’s immediate resignation and called on the government to consider its suggestions on the Covid-19 situation.One patient who died at home while waiting to be transferred was an 85-year-old woman living in a shophouse in Bang Kholaem district, where in total six elderly residents were found to be infected. Mr Anutin said he was sorry for the death and promising the ministry will work harder to find beds for those who need them the most. Many experts have warned that unless action is taken, home deaths could follow the same sharp upward trajectory seen in other countries during similar stages of the outbreak. This comes amid reports that some people with Covid are choosing to stay at home rather than seek outside help, possibly endangering other members of the household.
That’s quite something if true.
• Dr. Harvey Risch: 60% of New Covid Patients Have Been Vaccinated (WR)
Dr. Risch reveals a bombshell: 60 percent of new covid patients have been vaccinated.
“..individual countries may be able keep tougher guidelines in for tourists..”
• Vaccinated Americans Will Reportedly Be Allowed Back In Europe This Summer (F.)
American holidaymakers who have received a coronavirus vaccine will be permitted to enter the European Union in time for summer vacation thanks to the success of the U.S. vaccine rollout, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times Sunday.The timing of the imminent policy change is still unclear, and will depend on the spread of the virus in both the U.S. and Europe over the next few months, Von der Leyen said told the newspaper.The U.S. has made “huge progress” in their vaccine rollout, she noted, and added she hopes the epidemiological situation in Europe will also improve. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the three that are being distributed within the U.S., have all been approved by the European agency, which Von der Leyen said means they’ll be accepted at European borders.
Discussions between Washington, D.C. and Brussels regarding how travelers will demonstrate they’ve been vaccinated are still ongoing, the Times reported. Transatlantic travel has largely been barred since March 2020, when the onset of the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of society. In recent weeks, countries like France and Greece have hinted they will permit vaccinated American travelers to return to their countries this summer for a much-needed tourism boost. The Times reported that while Von de Leyen is onboard for Americans traveling within the EU, individual countries may be able keep tougher guidelines in for tourists, like mandatory quarantine periods or blocking international travelers altogether.
“..the states that are declared unfriendly “won’t be able to hire Russian citizens to work at their diplomatic and consular missions..”
• US Set To Be Included On Russia’s New List Of ‘Unfriendly Countries’ (RT)
Moscow is putting together a list of unfriendly nations and the US is “obviously” going to be on it, the foreign ministry has revealed. The blacklist is in response to the recent unfriendly moves by the Americans and their allies. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained on Sunday that work on the schedule of states considered to be hostile began after “another round of unfriendly actions by the US. “What are those unfriendly states? The list is being compiled now,” she outlined in an interview with the Rossiya 1 TV channel. “As you understand, and I can confirm it, the US is, obviously, present” on it, Zakharova said, without naming any other countries involved.
In accordance with a decree recently signed by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the states that are declared unfriendly “won’t be able to hire Russian citizens to work at their diplomatic and consular missions,” Zakharova added. A fresh diplomatic standoff between Moscow and Washington erupted in mid-April after US President Joe Biden ordered the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats, accusing the Kremlin of interference in the 2020 US presidential election and of involvement in last year’s SolarWinds cyber-espionage incident. More than 30 Russian individuals and organizations were also sanctioned, while American companies were barred from directly buying shares in Russia’s national debt.
Moscow denied all of Washington’s claims and came up with a tit-for-tat response, asking ten American diplomats to leave and promising measures that would bar US funds and NGOs from interfering in Russian internal affairs.
“There may be no better symbol of our new national priorities than the “Stanley Johnson clause” in the Covid travel rules announced last month, which allows visits to property overseas but not family.”
• Tories Are Reaping The Rewards Of An Economy Built On Rising House Prices (G.)
It was 14 years ago, in the summer of 2007, that the first signs of the global financial crisis appeared: the liquidation of two hedge funds heavily invested in mortgage-backed securities, and the start of the collapse of Northern Rock. This is more than enough time for a new economic model to take shape. After all, 14 years after Richard Nixon signalled the end of the “Keynesian” era by disbanding the fixed exchange rates system that shaped the post-1945 economy, Margaret Thatcher was on the cusp of her third election victory, and London was awash with “yuppies” making fast money out of the stock market. The picture of Britain’s post-crash economic settlement was clear even before the dramatic impact of Covid. To put it bluntly, the proceeds of economic growth in the UK now flow entirely to asset-owners – including homeowners.
Study after study has shown that in the decade after the financial crisis, average real wages simply stopped rising – something that had never happened in two centuries of industrial capitalism. And yet, Britain’s housing market defies all economic threats and shocks. While wages have stagnated, the average British house price is now approximately 50% higher than it was in January 2009, and in London around double. While the economic crisis of 2007-9 was accompanied by a housing crash, the first year of Covid-19 saw a boom in property prices. In 2020, London overtook Hong Kong and New York for the number of “super-luxury” properties (costing more than $10m) sold. There may be no better symbol of our new national priorities than the “Stanley Johnson clause” in the Covid travel rules announced last month, which allows visits to property overseas but not family.
The UK’s ratio of housing wealth to GDP is now above the level seen in Japan before its historic crash in 1991 – but there is no sign that policymakers wish to alter the place of housing wealth in the UK economy, or indeed its dominant imprint on our politics. George Osborne’s refusal to use fiscal policy to support the economy after 2010 meant that the UK became even more dependent on monetary policy – very low interest rates and quantitative easing – which simply allowed more money to be poured into assets, hugely enriching asset-owners at the expense of everyone else.
Interview with bestselling food writer Oliver Milman about his new book Animal, Vegetable, Junk.
“if you look at a chart of health care costs versus food costs, it’s perfect like this. As food costs go up, healthcare costs go down. And as food costs go down, health care costs go up.”
• The True Costs Of Our Cheap Food And The American Diet (G.)
There was a time that almost everyone farmed and grew food for themselves and their neighbors and or trade, local trade and so on. But at some point, surplus became more important than feeding people. Growing food, or growing crops in order to sell them and make money became more important than growing crops to feed people. And that process accelerated since 1500, or whenever you want to say capitalism began. To the point where, in the States at least, 95% of crops are basically grown as cash crops. And the question is almost never ‘What is the land telling us we want to grow? What can we grow that will be most beneficial for our community? What can I grow that’s most nutritious that will damage the land as little as possible?’ Those are not questions that are being asked.
The questions that are being asked or the question that’s being asked is ‘How can I make the most money possible with this land?’ Sometimes that means just selling the land for development. But often, it means growing one crop at a time. And it’s a crop that’s either directly or indirectly subsidized, like corn or soybeans. And it’s a crop that mostly goes into junk food or animal feed, or even ethanol, which is obviously not food at all. I really think the enclosure of the commons was a big deal. When the nobility started dictating to peasants what should be grown and how it should be sold and to whom it should be sold. And peasants began to run out of land to grow food for themselves and their families. That was one of the driving factors in the industrial revolution. And we’ve just seen that accelerate.
[..] One of the most damning statistics is that close to 50% of the food that’s available is in the form of ultra processed food. So ultra processed food is what I call junk food. What many of us call junk food. And it means food that contains non-food ingredients; food that your grandmother, great grandmother, maybe at this point wouldn’t have recognized as food. Food that you can’t cook yourself. Food that you don’t find in your own kitchen in the normal course of cooking and eating. A food that didn’t exist before the 20th century. [..] if you look at a chart of health care costs versus food costs, it’s perfect like this. As food costs go up, healthcare costs go down. And as food costs go down, health care costs go up. So cheap food, that’s a direct correlation. Cheap food has had a terrible impact on public health. As every country switches from a traditional diet to a more American diet, their rates of chronic disease go up. In every single instance. And yet we cannot get government to consider this a crisis.
• Wealthy, Privileged Gather To Lecture Nation On Evils Of Wealth, Privilege (BBee)
According to sources at the 91st annual Academy Awards ceremony this evening, the nation’s wealthy, privileged elite gathered to lecture the nation on the horrendous evils of wealth and privilege. The wealthiest 0.00001% of the nation arrived at the exclusive, walled-off, high-security event in limos and luxury cars driven by servants in order to spend a few hours telling the nation’s poor and middle-class citizens how they need to throw off the yoke of oppression put on them by the wealthy elite.
“It’s the white, privileged, wealth hoarders that are ruining America,” said one white, privileged man whose net worth is estimated at $160 million. “All you people in the cheap seats at home: you need to do better.” “America is just a terrible nation with no opportunity,” said one woman who made $100 million wearing costumes and reading words someone else wrote off a page. “We must stop the 1% from hoarding all the wealth.” Upon being informed she was well within the 1%, she clarified that it was actually the 0.000001% who are the problem. Unfortunately, it looks like the event will proceed as planned next year as well.
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We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. This combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is gonna blow up in our faces.
– Carl Sagan, May 27th, 1996
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