News NPR

Face Masks Provide Advertising Space For Retailers During Coronavirus Crisis : NPR

Old Navy, a subsidiary of Gap, began selling nonmedical face masks in early May.

MB Internal Studio/Old Navy

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MB Internal Studio/Old Navy

Old Navy, a subsidiary of Gap, began selling nonmedical face masks in early May.

MB Internal Studio/Old Navy

Retailers across the apparel world are turning to the newest essential garment to further their brand recognition and boost sales: the nonmedical face mask.

Nordstrom announced Tuesday it would begin selling face masks for $4 each in packs of six. The move comes just weeks after the Seattle-based retailer announced it would permanently shutter 16 stores after the coronavirus pandemic forced all of its locations to close.

Nordstrom began selling nonmedical cloth face masks Tuesday. Two days later, the masks had sold out on Nordstrom’s website.


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Nordstrom began selling nonmedical cloth face masks Tuesday. Two days later, the masks had sold out on Nordstrom’s website.


The company is the latest in a string of apparel brands to add face masks to its repertoire as demand continues to grow. Retail giants like The Gap and its subsidiaries, Banana Republic, Athleta and Old Navy, also began selling masks earlier this month.

Despite the recent flood of new brands offering masks, the product is selling out across the market. Nordstrom’s packs of masks are sold out just two days after coming on the scene, and many of Gap’s masks are on back order until mid-June. Kim Kardashian West’s brand SKIMS began selling face masks May 16 and sold out hours later.

However, selling out is not so much a function of demand as it is a reflection of the uncertainty looming over the retail industry in general, retail analyst Sucharita Kodali of Forrester told NPR. Retailers have no precedent to base the volume of their supply on, and no idea how long the demand will last.

“There’s just not data,” says Kodali. “Nobody knew what to expect for what products because they’d never faced this dilemma before.”

Retailers also face a gummed-up supply chain, as many of the factories where these masks are manufactured are overseas, she says. The supply chain backups also allowed smaller companies to jump on the trend more quickly.

“The smaller companies are more nimble, they’re able to respond to changes more quickly. They see trends and they jump,” she says. “Whereas for a lot of other companies, they’re just hoping this passes. … They’re candidly just not as nimble.”

One of the nimble is e-commerce website Etsy. The site saw a giant spike of “face mask” in its search results in the first week of April, shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that face coverings be worn at all times in public, according to a company investor presentation. In April alone, the site grossed more than $130 million in face mask sales, according to the presentation.

A silk face mask made by Etsy shop MilleSaisons. The mask is a bestseller on the Etsy e-commerce website.


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A silk face mask made by Etsy shop MilleSaisons. The mask is a bestseller on the Etsy e-commerce website.


“We sold over 12 million face masks in the month of April alone,” CEO Josh Silverman said in a call with investors. “In fact, if face masks were a stand-alone category, it would have been the second biggest category on Etsy in the month of April.”

Etsy also saw a 79% increase from April of last year among other products, according to the presentation.

“I would argue they were just in the right place at the right time,” says Kodali. “When you think of who is able to consolidate the power of a million sewers in the country, the only answer is Etsy.”

Many brands are also using the worldwide demand for face masks as an opportunity to build positive engagement by making charitable donations of their face mask sales. Both Disney and the NBA have begun to sell masks with the commitment that proceeds will go to various charities. Disney, for one, took major losses in the first three months of 2020, with net income down 91% compared to the year before. Nordstrom and Gap have both donated masks to health care workers and other charitable causes.

Still, for most of the companies now selling masks, and especially for those as large as Gap and Nordstrom, Kodali says sales will not affect the bottom line. Selling the masks is more a demonstration of how flexible a company can be in the face of the unexpected.

“If you’re a retailer and you don’t have masks, that probably means you have bigger issues with your supply chain.”

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News RT

Another sucker punch for the poor amid Covid-19 crisis as new study reveals Britain’s top 1% enjoy 17% of nation’s income — RT UK News

According to new analysis, Britain’s highest-paid one percent took home 17 percent of the country’s income ahead of the coronavirus pandemic – more than was previously thought – provoking a bitter backlash.

A study by Warwick University, the London School of Economics (LSE) and the Resolution Foundation – which took into consideration the concentration of taxable capital gains – showed that the top one percent had a larger slice of the income pie than was previously thought, and it was increasing.

The team of economic researchers analyzed previously confidential data from HMRC – the UK government department responsible for the collection of taxes – and found that some capital gains were, in reality, sources of income, and these were heavily concentrated among the well-off.

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Capital gains tax is a tax on the profit made when someone sells an asset that’s increased in value. The study noted that taxable capital gains were frequently related to people’s work and were more akin to earnings from employment than passive investment returns.

Dr Andrew Summers, assistant professor at the LSE, said: “Capital gains are taxed at much lower rates than regular income, but the legal line between these is very blurred. A lot of capital gains are, in fact, just repackaged income going to the already-rich.”

The timing of the study comes as a bitter pill for the low earners in society, many of whom are having to risk their own health during the coronavirus outbreak by continuing frontline work in the health and social care, transport and retail sectors – for little return in their pay packets.

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The study has prompted an angry response on social media, with many riled by the apparent inequality existing in Britain between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. Some suggested that it was “about time we taxed the rich properly.”

Others sarcastically poked fun at those that would rather pour scorn on “those pesky ‘low-skilled’ migrants, harvesting our food and healing our sick” than the unfairness in the richest getting more of the country’s income.

One commenter remarked that, while the gap between the rich and the poor gets bigger, there will still be many who “will defend their right to earn the obscene sums.”

Responding to the report, Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds suggested that there need to be significant changes to the British economy so that rewards are shared out more equally. Dodds said: “We must have a fairer settlement after this crisis – with those with the broadest shoulders making more of a contribution.”

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News Sputnik

Brazil Turns Into ‘Bubbling Cauldron’ as COVID Cases Soar & Political Crisis Looms, Analyst Says

There is a great underreporting of deaths and COVID cases in Brazil due to a dramatic lack of testing, says Brazilian political analyst Gustavo Guerreiro, shedding light on government resignations and looming impeachment probes against President Jair Bolsonaro amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

While Brazilian President Bolsonaro is pushing state governors to reopen businesses, the Latin American country reported a record 1,179 deaths and 17,408 new coronavirus cases in one day on 19 May. The president’s controversial handling of the pandemic has prompted the opposition to step up calls for his impeachment. To date, Brazil’s lower house has received at least 30 impeachment requests, according to Bloomberg. In addition, in late April, Supreme Federal Court authorised an investigation of alleged corruption and obstruction of justice by the president. The decision was made after ex-Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro accused Bolsonaro of firing a top police commander to shield his family from investigations, something that the president vehemently denies.

Bolsonaro’s calls for reopening are only hindering Brazil’s economic recovery, argues Gustavo Guerreiro, executive editor of the journal World Tensions and a member of the Brazilian Centre for Solidarity with Peoples and Fight for Peace (CEBRAPAZ) envisioning that the Latin American country is heading to a political crisis.

Sputnik: Brazil is among the world’s least-tested countries when it comes to COVID-19. While the country has reported nearly 15,000 deaths and 220,000 cases so far, Domingos Alves of the Sao Palo University suggests that the number of infections could be at least 16 times higher. What’s your take the unfolding situation? Would you agree that the actual numbers of those infected could be much higher?

Gustavo Guerreiro: The Brazilian government does not know the number of cases of infection spread throughout the country, let alone deaths. But this is a global reality, due to the great speed with which the virus has spread and the inability of the public sector to carry out extensive testing on the population.

This occurs both in Brazil, and in European countries, and even with the US, which may have an even greater number than what we see there. The point is that Brazil is one of the countries where the test for COVID-19 is least tested. There is also a great underreporting of deaths from COVID-19. Many people die with symptoms of the disease, but remain as suspected cases, as they have not been and will not be tested. I have no doubt that the reality must be even more serious than the study’s estimate.

I do not doubt that Brazil will soon take second place, along with the US, with the highest number of cases and deaths from the disease. Interestingly, the two countries are governed by presidents who have scorned the severity of the disease. Bolsonaro manages to be even worse, because not only does he disregard isolation, but he stimulates agglomerations. This is not an ideological conviction motivated by the so-called herd immunisation, which in itself is absurd, but a sordid rejoicing in a policy of eugenics.

REUTERS / Pilar Olivares

Brazilian army officers wearing protective gears arrive to disinfect the shelter Stella Maris Complex for elderly people, homeless and patients with mental disorders managed by the Rio de Janeiro City Hall amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil May 14, 2020

Sputnik: Has the Brazilian government so far developed any plan of how to handle the pandemic? What’s your take on Bolsonaro’s decision to open-up while the death toll is rising? What’s behind this? Is he seeking to “emulate” Donald Trump?

Gustavo Guerreiro: There is no structural plan to deal with the pandemic. In Brazil, there is no figure of the central government, which coordinates integrated actions with the federal entities, as it should be.

The proposal to open up trade and economic activity is absurd. You cannot oppose life to the economy. Bolsonaro insists on blaming the governors and the idea of ​​confinement for the economic recession. The cause of the recession is the pandemic. Mass confinement, however paradoxical it may seem, is also a form of faster economic recovery. The less time a country spends facing the pandemic, the better for a return to productive activities. Stimulating the return to work in the middle of a pandemic means, in addition to the human tragedy, as the health system would not support it, an economic tragedy.

This behavior occurs because the president is committed to the elites’ agenda. Much of the business community cares little that the working class is dying. Since labor and social security reform removed workers’ rights and much of social protection, and since Labor Justice was reformed after the political coup against Dilma Rousseff, the worker became disposable.

Bolsonaro himself said that the death of a company was much mores serious than the death of an individual. Added to all this is the desire to imitate everything that occurs in the Trump administration, to whom Bolsonaro’s government is unilaterally aligned, like a vassal. 

Sputnik: Less than a month after Jair Bolsonaro sacked ex-Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta the country’s new health minister stepped down. What’s the reason behind Dr. Nelson Teich’s resignation?

Gustavo Guerreiro: Bolsonaro is often concerned about the prominence of the Ministry of Health, which at a moment of such gravity is robbing the president of his central role.

The departure of Health Minister Nelson Teich before completing a month in office is just one of the president’s inconsequential acts, which has the support of the military around him. Teich did not resign as “a life choice”, as he said, but due to an irrational clash over social isolation and protocols for using hydroxychloroquine. The president had determined that the drug can be used preventively and for mild symptoms. The minister, who is also a doctor, refused to put lives at risk, so he left.

The drug became an obsession for Bolsonaro, who uses it as a political argument to counter the social isolation actions taken by state governors. Bolsonaro ordered the Army Pharmaceutical Chemical Laboratory to produce medicine on a large scale (about 1.25 million pills) with raw material purchased from India. Bolsonaro took the hasty step without discussion with the Ministry of Health itself and with doctors and scientists, but the medication has not been used.

As hydroxychloroquine has its effectiveness questioned all over the world, as well as by the Brazilian Sanitary Surveillance Agency, Bolsonaro does not know what to do with all medication produced by the military, which constitutes an act of administrative impropriety and a crime of fiscal responsibility. To try to protect himself from the results of the deaths resulting from this folly, Bolsonaro issued Provisional Measure 966, which aims to exempt government officials from responsibility for the misuse of public resources and errors in performance during the pandemic. 

REUTERS / Adriano Machado

A supporter of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro waves a Brazilian flag during protest against the President of the Chamber of Deputies Rodrigo Maia, Brazilian Supreme Court, quarantine and social distancing measures, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil May 17, 2020

Sputnik: Earlier Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister Sérgio Moro withdrew from the government. Are these resignations a sign of a looming political crisis for the Bolsonaro’s cabinet, in your opinion? What’s your prognosis on how the political situation will unfold?

Gustavo Guerreiro: Sérgio Moro was the main supporter of his government. As a judge, Moro defrauded the criminal process that culminated in the illegal imprisonment of former President Lula, guaranteeing the election of Bolsonaro, who would lose to the then former president. As Bolsonaro has not joined any political party and is seeing his political support base crumble, he begins to cede positions to corrupt political forces, the so-called “centrão” (center parties). At the same time, he sees investigations against his family moving forward.

Former allies, such as Sérgio Moro himself and businessman Paulo Marinho have begun to expose the insides of the Bolsonaro family’s corruption schemes. The National Congress is beginning to move towards an impeachment. In the bubbling political melting pot that Brazil has become, especially in the midst of a health crisis and an unprecedented economic crisis, there is no way to make accurate predictions. Anything can happen. Even a military coup can be considered. Brazil is going through one of its worst moments in republican history and it does not seem that things will improve.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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News Popular Resistance

Pushing Back Against Habits Of White Supremacy During A Crisis

Pushing Back Against Habits Of White Supremacy During A Crisis

Pushing Back Against Habits Of White Supremacy During A Crisis2020-05-20PopularResistance.Org

Above: Dismantle White Supremacy Every Day from Shutterstock.

If you’ve checked out our offerings at CompassPoint before, you know that we’ve referenced the habits of white supremacy culture frequently. It’s become one of the guiding frameworks that have helped us build a common language around racial justice and equity at CompassPoint. As we all find ourselves being pushed, challenged, and transformed by this moment in time, it should be no surprise that dominant culture habits may be creeping back into our work, our teams, and our organizations.

This popular post, which has been making the rounds on social media, brilliantly diagnoses how habits of white supremacy are showing up in virtual spaces now that many of us are working remotely.

Resource: Joanna Gattuso on Instagram: “White Supremacy Culture.. But Make it Remote”.

It should be no surprise that these habits are hard to break. In fact, as I’ve stared at this blog post over the last few days, the habit of perfectionism has deterred me from feeling good enough with just about anything I’ve typed up. The perfectly made cocktail of imposter syndrome and an existential crisis prompted by the world around us hasn’t helped either.

During a crisis, it can be easy to fall back on habits of white supremacy and forget the hard work we’ve done to cultivate different ways of being. So what are some antidotes, alternative mindsets, and practices we can center right now?

Antidote #1: Letting go of productivity for productivity’s sake (the idea that above all else, we should be producing as much and as quickly as possible) 

The crisis we face right now is exacerbated by a norm that “producing by any means necessary” will lead us to some promised land.  In fact, this pandemic has demonstrated that one of the clearest failures of Capitalism is how we’ve designed a society and economy fueled by the production of a lot of non-essential things. Just as we are letting go of non-essential things in other parts of our lives, we should—where we can—slow down and reflect on what we’re holding onto to feel productive for the sake of productivity in our organizations.

In our respective areas of work, we need to ask the question, “What’s essential right now?” And we need to keep asking it. We should be working in coordinated ways to solve problems that threaten the livelihoods of the communities we are a part of. But that doesn’t mean “staying busy”. Busy-ness is not a virtue. How much you can produce right now, in the midst of multiple crises, is not a measure of your worth or your value as a person. We have to make peace with the fact that not everything is going to get done right now.

Positional leaders have to model that our productivity cannot come at the expense of our sanity, our well-being, and our ability to tend to our loved ones right now. Realize that this moment is as much a time to reflect, re-focus, and reset as it is to move, generate, and flourish in new ways. The permission leaders can provide by encouraging a principled approach to our prioritization (operating from our values, our politics, our missions) can’t be understated. We need to acknowledge our bandwidths are not the same in this time and pretending they are will cause inequities in the requests and expectations we set for each other.

If your organization is one that requires reporting out of tasks completed while working from home or stipulates the use of intensive time-tracking measures and other forms of often tedious surveillance, now would be an appropriate time to let go of micromanaging and ask what really needs to be tracked and why. We have to ground ourselves by asking, “What goals can we realistically move toward during this time, and why are these goals critical to what we do?”

Antidote #2: Learning from our mistakes and striving to be far from perfect

We’re going to make a lot of mistakes as we adjust to this new reality. That’s certainly been the case for us over the last month. The weight of this moment may make those mistakes harder to come to terms with. Anxiety and fear might mean that we forget to extend grace and forgiveness. That’s an understandable dynamic for many of us, but it’s the illusion of perfection that often keeps us from building a new reality together. The choices we make, both big and small, will be full of missteps. However, they will also be laced with opportunities for us to get rich feedback, integrate learning into our next actions, and build trust in a way that the standard of perfectionism doesn’t allow for. Let’s ask what we’re learning from failure instead of believing, wrongly, that we’ll be free from it.

Rejecting perfectionism right now is an act of compassion and the extension of grace. As Adrienne Maree Brown says, “What we pay attention to, grows.” If we continue to tend to a false sense of perfection is achievable, we will only further set our folks up for failure. That sets up cycles of blame and shame, which stop us from being creative in a moment where we need flexibility and imagination.

Antidote #3: Recognize comfort is fleeting and check your fragility

One of the habits of white supremacy that might be rearing its head right now is the “right to comfort”—the belief that those with power have a right to emotional and psychological comfort. Let’s be clear: we all have a right to emotional and psychological safety—especially during times like these—but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t be challenged outside of our comfort zones.

For the positional leaders out there, don’t let the sense of urgency or capitalistic demands of this moment keep you from tending to the self-work necessary to combat fragility. We all deserve spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being amidst this crisis.

Resource: CV-19 Healing Response Initiative from Genesis Healing Institute

However, self-care should not be weaponized as a way to reject feedback, hoard decision-making power, or to further marginalize those who may cause you personal discomfort by speaking truth to power when reflecting back how your leadership is affecting others.

Of course, there’s a lot to be anxious about in this particular moment as folks leading and working in nonprofit organizations. Leaders are dealing with tough decisions every day and the burden of financial hardships becomes increasingly real for our organizations and teams. Uncertainty casts a shadow over the future and can make even our sunniest days feel gray. But within our organizations, the way in which comfort and safety are perceived and experienced is not the same. If you have the ability to make decisions that impact the livelihoods of others, your personal comfort cannot and should not come at the expense of those further from the center of gravity where power lives. You need to be ready to be challenged instead of running for the hills when things get emotional or uncomfortable. Those of us with positional power should tread carefully and understand that our comfort is a luxury, not a right. Acting as if we deserve it only further serves to distance us from the realities of those who’ve never felt a remotely comparable sense of protection from criticism and accountability.

Now is an opportunity to demonstrate how growth and transformation can be catalyzed by discomfort. Your call to leadership should always be about those you choose to lead. How can you sit with the discomfort you feel and use it to build individual, interpersonal, and organizational resiliency?

Antidote #4: Embrace complexity and both/and thinking

If there was ever a time to break beyond binaries and sit with the complexity of possible paths forward, it’s now. The world as we know it could very well be ending and the world we’ve been so desperately dreaming of could be arriving earlier than we had anticipated.

Either/or thinking is often driven by a rush to over-simplify. It’s easy to fall back on because it reduces ambiguous realities into a frame of “this or that”. One thing I’ve been reflecting on is that either/or thinking is often presented in organizations that are straddling questions around “Here’s what we’ve always done” and “Here’s what’s needed of us now”. This dynamic shows up in our internal practices, our external programming, and everything in between. Instead of it being an either/or headspace, how do we create the conditions necessary to honor the value of thinking through a both/and lens whenever possible? Either/or thinking is a habit of white supremacy because it often preserves the status quo and stops us from imagining new ways of being and doing. It creates the dynamics of gridlock and stalemate. It forces us to take one of two sides and pushes us into team dynamics of “us versus them”.  Now, more than ever, we need to adopt whatever both/and strategies and perspectives that let us rid ourselves of a status quo that’s quite honestly not working for our organizations or the communities we work for.

We got this, y’all

These are just some of the habits of white supremacy culture, also known as the white dominant culture. This isn’t by any means a comprehensive take on how all of these habits may be showing up. I’d encourage anyone working in an organization to start a conversation on where you see these habits appearing. The truth is, they are called dominant culture habits for a reason—it takes constant tending to push back against them. I’ve felt their presence in all five of my years at CompassPoint.

But it’s not the presence of the habits that I want to wallow in, it’s the brilliance of my colleagues who actively work to break these habits that I’m choosing to celebrate. From what I’ve seen, it takes practice, rigor, self-awareness, and exercising empathy. Even with that commitment, these habits aren’t broken easily or magically cured. But naming them in real-time and honoring a commitment to create new norms is now more critical than ever. I remain deeply hopeful that our sector will come out on the other end of this pandemic transformed in ways I can barely begin to imagine. We got this y’all.

Kad Smith is a project director at CompassPoint.

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News RT

Florida governor goes after media who ‘waxed poetically’ of Florida Covid-19 crisis, brandishing numbers — RT USA News

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis took a victory lap touting Florida’s Covid-19 improved numbers after a partial lockdown lifting, and went after the media for their doomsday predictions.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, DeSantis said Florida has the “absolute best data” when it comes to coronavirus and anything saying otherwise is simply “typical, partisan narrative trying to be spun.”

“And part of the reason [for] that is you got a lot of people in your profession,” the governor said, pointing to the cameras and microphones in front of him, “who waxed poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York.”

New York, with a population of over 19 million, has had over 250,000 cases and more than 28,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Though it has a larger population – 21 million – and more high-risk elderly residents, Florida has registered just over 47,000 cases and some 2,000 deaths. New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, has received far better mainstream press coverage than DeSantis, who was lambasted for rolling back some lockdown measures too soon.

Many critics in the media predicted that Florida would end up “just like Italy” two weeks after reopening, DeSantis continued. “Well, hell, we’re eight weeks away from that and it hasn’t happened.” 

Florida has been one of the first states to roll back lockdown orders and allow many non-essential businesses to reopen. 

Despite being hard hit by the virus, Florida has seen a dip in its death rate in recent days as testing across the state becomes more available. DeSantis touted his state’s numbers on Tuesday, saying that based on the positive cases found versus the number of citizens tested, Florida has a 0.64% positive rate when it comes to Covid-19.

Dr. Deborah Birx, who sits on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has praised the Florida Department of Health for its intricate testing and online mapping system.

Earlier this week, Florida’s Covid-19 statistics were challenged by local and media outlets based on the claims of Rebekah Jones, a former staff member at the Florida Department of Health, who claimed she was fired for not manipulating coronavirus data in a positive way.

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DeSantis waved off the accusations on Wednesday by saying Jones did not have a job that required her to do anything except enter data.

“She is not an epidemiologist, she is not the chief architect of our web portal, that is another false statement, and what she was doing was she was putting data on the portal, which the scientists didn’t believe was valid data,” the governor said. 

He also revealed Jones had an active warrant for “cyber stalking and cyber sexual harassment,” which reportedly relates to an ex-boyfriend accusing her of targeting him with “revenge porn.”

The governor chalked up conspiracy theories surrounding Jones and the Florida Department of Health to the media’s “need for a boogeyman.” 

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News RT

All of EU should back Franco-German recovery plan or ‘nobody will be able to get out of crisis’ – French FM — RT Newsline

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday EU states which are skeptical about a Franco-German proposal for a €500 billion (US$546 billion) coronavirus recovery fund should back it or risk making it even harder to get out of the crisis.

“It’s in the interest of all European countries to sign up for this initiative… if there isn’t this momentum, nobody will be able to get out of it,” Le Drian told LCI television.

The plan proposed by Berlin and Paris on Monday would offer non-repayable grants to EU regions and sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, with the cash borrowed by the bloc as a whole rather than by individual member states, Reuters reported.

The government in Vienna insists that the EU’s emergency aid for coronavirus-hit member states should be based on repayable loans not grants, Austrian daily Die Presse said on Tuesday, citing the Chancellery.

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News Sputnik

Japan Closes Mount Fuji to Climbers Over COVID-19 Crisis, First Time in Decades

Japan’s Mount Fuji, a popular hiking location, will be closed this summer to prevent the spread of COVID-19, officials reported on Monday.

According to officials in Shizuoka prefecture, whose boundary with Yamanashi prefecture Mount Fuji straddles, three of four main routes to the volcanic mountain’s peak will be shut down during the summer months, which comprise the climbing season. 

The decision comes after officials in the Yamanashi prefecture announced that the Yoshida trail, the most popular route for climbing Mount Fuji, would also be closed.

The cabins along the routes, which are used by resting climbers, will remain closed this summer.

“The routes open in summer, but this year we will keep them closed” from July 10 to September 10, a Shizuoka prefecture official told AFP. “We’re taking this measure so as not to spread the coronavirus,” the official added.

This is the first time that the UNESCO world cultural heritage site has been closed since 1960.

Japan hasn’t experienced a severe coronavirus outbreak compared to parts of Europe and the US. So far, there have been more than 16,000 cases of the virus in the county and at least 744 deaths. 

Last week, Japan lifted a state of emergency that had been imposed due to the pandemic in most parts of the country, the Japan Times reported. However, states of emergency remain in place in the cities of Tokyo and Osaka, the northern island of Hokkaido and other areas which have been hit hardest by the disease.

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News RT

SUPER CYCLONE forces evacuation of over 1.1mn people in India & Bangladesh amid coronavirus crisis — RT World News

More than 1.1 million people in eastern India and Bangladesh are being hurriedly evacuated as the ‘extremely severe’ cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’ threatens to make landfall within days.

With winds of 150 miles per hour (241kph) and predicted storm surges of up to 30 feet, India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has mobilized more than 750 people to undertake the unenviable task of evacuating hundreds of thousands of people during a global pandemic.

Amphan is expected to make landfall on Wednesday, so time is of the essence, especially as it is expected to intensify further to a super cyclone on Monday night, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

According to current models, the storm system will likely strike somewhere between West Bengal and the Hatiya Islands in Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon, with a sustained wind speed of between 96mph to 102mph gusting to 114mph, but it is expected to lose some strength before making landfall. 

The Indian state of Odisha alone is planning to evacuate 1.1 million people from low-lying areas which are expected to be flattened, having already been ravaged by multiple cyclones in the last few years, including Cyclone Fani in 2019. 

Authorities are predicting widespread destruction, including the loss of key power and communications infrastructure, as well as disruption to rail and road links, and extensive damage to crops and plantations. Port authorities have shut down operations, and fishermen have been advised to suspend their work in Bengal and Odisha until May 20.

“A total of 37 teams have been deployed by NDRF in West Bengal and Odisha, out of which 20 teams are actively deployed and 17 are on standby in the two states,” said NDRF Director General S N Pradhan. 

Meanwhile, India has reported over 96,000 cases and 3,029 deaths from the coronavirus, while Bangladesh has recorded some 23,870 cases, with a death toll of over 349.

India and Bangladesh aren’t the only ones coping with simultaneous public health and natural disasters, as authorities in the Philippines were forced to evacuate over 200,000 people to shelter from Typhoon Vongfong, while maintaining social distancing to avoid worsening the ongoing pandemic.

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News NPR

Economic Crisis Is Historic, Not Another Great Depression, Experts Say : NPR

Unemployed people wait outside the state Labor Bureau in New York City in 1933. The current economic crisis has drawn comparisons to the Great Depression, but experts say this downturn should be shorter.


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Unemployed people wait outside the state Labor Bureau in New York City in 1933. The current economic crisis has drawn comparisons to the Great Depression, but experts say this downturn should be shorter.


With the U.S. economy in free-fall, a lot of forecasters have been digging deep into the history books, looking for a guideposts of what to expect. Often, they’ve turned to the chapter on the 1930s.

“Clearly people have made comparisons to the Great Depression,” said former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

“It’s not a very good comparison,” he cautioned.

Bernanke, who is a student of the Great Depression, says that crisis was triggered by a financial meltdown, and made worse by bad policy choices, including the decision by his Fed predecessors to raise interest rates.

Perhaps most importantly, the Depression dragged on for a dozen years. While Bernanke doesn’t expect to rebound from the current crisis in the next six months or so, he doesn’t see it stretching out indefinitely, either.

“If all goes well, in a year or two, we should be in a substantially better position,” Bernanke told an audience at the Brookings Institution last month.

That optimistic view is supported by a different historical example from more than a decade before the Great Depression: the 1918 flu pandemic, after which the U.S. economy bounced back relatively quickly.

“I think there is quite a lot to be hopeful for,” said Carola Frydman, an economic historian at the Kellogg School of Management.

The so-called “Spanish Flu” pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including hundreds of thousands in the U.S. It also prompted some of the same “social distancing” measures we’ve adopted against the coronavirus, with shuttered bars, schools and churches.

Still, the economic fallout was “mostly modest and temporary,” Frydman wrote. And the U.S. enjoyed strong growth in the decade that followed.

She believes that could happen this time as well.

“As soon as people feel confident again interacting and being able to go about their business, I would not expect the economic fallout to last a lot longer than that,” Frydman told NPR.

Of course, no one’s certain how long it will take for people to feel comfortable shopping or traveling again — or how many businesses and families might go under in the meantime.

In 1918, government spending on World War I helped make up for some of the lost private demand, Frydman said. No one is advocating another world war. But Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the federal government might have to spend more than the trillions it’s already shelled out to keep businesses and families afloat.

“Additional fiscal support could be costly but worth it, if it helps avoid long-term damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery,” Powell said during an online forum sponsored by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Other government policies — including protectionism — could hamper the recovery. President Trump has long advocated higher trade barriers. He’s getting less resistance, thanks to the pandemic.

“These stupid supply chains that are all over the world — we have a supply chain where they’re made in all different parts of the world and one little piece of the world goes bad and the whole thing is messed up,” Trump said during an interview with Fox Business this past week. “I said we shouldn’t have supply chains. We should have them all in the United States.”

Here the Great Depression does offer a useful lesson. In the 1930s, the U.S. and other countries turned their backs on trade, adopting steep tariffs in an effort to prop up their Depression-scarred economies. It backfired.

“And that, economists have come to believe, contributed to how long the Great Depression actually lasted,” said Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It made it very, very difficult for countries to grow their economies again and use trade to help them get there.”

Bown acknowledges that protectionism is a natural reflex at a time like this, but he warns it’s counterproductive. The coronavirus does not have to touch off another Great Depression, but with misguided policy, it could.

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News RT

POLAND would gladly host American nukes if Germany refuses, US envoy claims, fanning ‘Cuban missile crisis 2.0’ — RT World News

As the US ambassador to Germany – and acting spy chief – tried persuading Berlin to keep hosting US nuclear weapons, his colleague in Warsaw suggested Poland would be willing to take them instead, an act sure to provoke Moscow.

“If Germany wants to diminish nuclear capability and weaken NATO, perhaps Poland – which pays its fair share, understands the risks, and is on NATO’s eastern flank – could house the capabilities here,” Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher tweeted on Friday.

She was commenting on the statement by Rick Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany who is also the acting director of National Intelligence, issued on Thursday, urging the authorities in Berlin not to weaken NATO by seeking the removal of US nuclear weapons from their soil.

“The purpose of NATO’s nuclear share is to keep non-nuclear member states involved in the planning of NATO’s deterrence policy. Germany’s participation in nuclear share ensures that its voice matters,” Grenell wrote. “Will Germany bear this responsibility, or will it sit back and simply enjoy the economic benefits of security provided by its other Allies?”

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While Mosbacher’s quip may have been nothing more than an attempt to bolster Grenell’s argument, her replies were flooded by Poles eager for the nuclear redeployment to happen – albeit none of them representing official Warsaw, just yet.

Only a few voices cautioned against the idea, such as former US Marine and weapons inspector Scott Ritter telling Mosbacher she had “no sense of history” and calling her idea “one of the dumbest” in the world.

Mosbacher also made headlines in Moscow, where it was noted that moving the bombs to Poland would destroy the final vestiges of the Russia-NATO Founding Act, the 1997 treaty declared that “NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries.”

Admittedly, this sentiment has been repeatedly rejected by NATO itself, from the 1999 war against Yugoslavia intended to send Russia a message, to this week’s editorial by the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, citing “Russian aggression” to urge Berlin to keep US nukes.

This is not the first time that Mosbacher – a former cosmetics executive who entered diplomacy during the Obama administration and was sent to Warsaw by President Donald Trump in 2018 – made headlines in Moscow. Back in January, she endorsed the Polish revision of WWII history that claimed Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union “colluded” to start the war by invading Poland. 

While it is unclear whether her tweet is an official State Department position, it would not be entirely out of line with the Trump administration’s aspirations to station US troops in Poland permanently, while dismantling nuclear treaties with Russia.

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Last year, the US shredded the 1987 INF arms control treaty in Europe, and seems to be on track not to renew the last remaining nuclear pact with Moscow, the 2011 New Start, scheduled to expire next February.

If the US moves nuclear warheads to Poland, this could result in a rerun of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Soviet Union reacted to US nuclear deployments in Turkey by sending its own missiles to Cuba. After a standoff that almost escalated into nuclear war, both Washington and Moscow stood down and pledged to withdraw their missiles.

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News RT

Covid-19 crisis could leave $8.8 trillion hole in global economy, Asian Development Bank warns — RT Business News

The coronavirus pandemic could chop nearly 10 percent off global gross domestic product (GDP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts, more than doubling its previous forecast.

The global economy could suffer between $5.8 trillion and $8.8 trillion in losses, the equivalent of between 6.4 percent and 9.7 percent of global GDP, the report published on Friday said. This is much worse than the Manila-based bank predicted in April, when it said that the Covid-19 global cost could range between $2 trillion and $4.1 trillion.

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The blow to the global economy will depend on how long it will take to contain the pandemic, with the bank’s worst-case scenario implying that the measures will stay in place for a half a year. The damage will be less severe if curbs on movement and business last no longer than three months.

“This new analysis presents a broad picture of the very significant potential economic impact of Covid-19,” ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said. “It also highlights the important role policy interventions can play to help mitigate damage to economies.”

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The bank said that measures to contain the spread of the infection could inflict $1.7 trillion to $2.5 trillion in economic losses in Asia, while China alone may lose up to $1.6 trillion.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs forecast that the world economy is set to shrink by 3.2 percent this year, and the losses in output could reach $8.5 trillion in 2020 and 2021. The decline is set to nearly “wipe out” the cumulative output gains of the previous four years, according to the report.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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News Sputnik

Pope Francis Donates $200,000 to Scholarships in Lebanon Amid Economic Crisis


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VATICAN CITY (Sputnik) – Pope Francis has decided to allocate $200,000 to support 400 scholarships in Lebanon, which has been facing an acute financial crisis, the Holy See said on Thursday in a press release.

“As a tangible sign of his closeness, the Holy Father, through the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, has decided to send to the Apostolic Nunciature the sum of USD 200,000 to support 400 scholarships in Lebanon, in the hope of achieving a gesture of solidarity and with the desire that all involved at national and international levels will responsibly pursue the search for the common good, overcoming every division and partisan interest”, the Holy See said in a press release.

Pope Francis wants the Lebanese people to have access to education, especially in remote areas, as the country is facing a severe crisis that is causing “suffering and poverty”, according to the press release.

The Middle Eastern nation — one of the most indebted in the world — has been facing economic hardships long before the coronavirus pandemic happened. Its national currency plunged against the dollar last year, causing prices of bread and other necessities to soar. This prompted nationwide protests in October that unseated the previous government.

In late April, a new wave of protests began in Lebanon for all the same reasons — a sharp drop in the value of the local currency and an increase in food prices.  In response, the government endorsed an economic reform plan aimed at dealing with the nation’s deepening financial crisis. The authorities are currently in talks with the International Monetary Fund to negotiate the recovery plan.

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Coindesk News

Surveying the Carnage: Movies, Sports and Education in Crisis

As the COVID-19 crisis grows, some industries will recover quickly, but some won’t recover at all. In this episode we help you understand which is which.

This is the second in a series of episodes on how the economic crisis is challenging and transforming different industries. NLW looks at:

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Intercept: America’s Prisons a CV Crisis for Rural America – Veterans Today

The Intercept: FOR THE PAST several decades, rural America’s economic lifeline has been the construction and operation of prisons and immigrant detention centers, both public and for-profit. The 1980s saw the collapse of American manufacturing and a farm crisis that ripped through the countryside. Mass incarceration was well-timed to fill the gap, producing jobs where they were needed.

But those lifelines have transformed into vectors for coronavirus, putting rural communities at risk of outbreaks. For many Americans, the plight of prisoners produces little sympathy. But in a twist on JFK — “Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free” — those outside the prison walls are not immune from what goes on inside them. Those jobs that made the campuses so attractive to local communities are staffed by people who go in and out each day — and what they bring with them could make all the difference in communities where hospitals were already shutting down, a trend exacerbated by Covid-19.

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#UNRIG Video (28:13) VITAL Insights from a Small Farmer on Looming Food & Energy Crisis USA – Veterans Today

J. C. Cole is a small farmer with global experience and a double engineering degree from Lehigh University. In this short interview he SOUNDS THE ALARM on the looming food and energy crisis and ends with specific suggestions for the President of the United States of America — create a small farm advisory council with no suits; invest in small farms; end all government regulations that keep small farmers from reaching the market place, and localize farming everywhere, starting with the East Coast where government regulations have killed the small farmer.

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News RT

Why China is better prepared than other economic powers for any global crisis — RT Business News

While the world’s second-largest economy, China, has suffered its first contraction on record due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some experts argue the country has been preparing for a possible crisis for a long time.

RT talked to economists to find out if Beijing may have foreseen the economic crash and about the Chinese government’s response to it.

“Nobody, including Beijing, could have foreseen the depth and gravity of this pandemic, specifically the cryptic transmission parameters by which the Covid-19 virus spreads. It is truly a once-in-100-year pandemic event,” said Sourabh Gupta, senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies.

According to him, China was better prepared because “it is in a much healthier fiscal position compared to most advanced economies and many emerging economies too.”

READ MORE: Worst three months in decades: China’s economy plunges almost 7% amid coronavirus battle

Gupta explained that the central government’s debt level as a percentage of GDP is fairly modest, which means there is ample space on the government’s balance sheet to ramp up policy support. Also, consumers’ debt levels relative to income is modest, so they are not overleveraged either and can open up their wallets.

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US intelligence says Covid-19 ‘not man-made’ but will still investigate Wuhan lab-origins theory

He was echoed by Andrew Leung, international and independent China strategist, who said “China is always very long-term strategy-minded” and is better prepared for any crisis thanks to its state capitalism.

“The state can direct massive funds and mobilize businesses and people more effectively than the West. The same capability was demonstrated during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 and the world financial crisis of 2008-09,” said Leung.

According to Temur Umarov, an expert on China and Central Asia at Carnegie Moscow Center, every country is in a different economic situation, so their response to the coronavirus pandemic also differs. While numerous economic stimulus packages were announced by some countries, China has focused on recovery of domestic consumption, as well as on help for small- and medium-sized businesses, he said.

All the analysts agreed that neither China nor other countries could have foreseen the magnitude of the current crisis.

“There is a tsunami of negative views about China as a result of the spreading coronavirus crisis. America’s bad-mouthing has also helped. But China remains by far the second-largest economy, bigger than the rest of the BRIC countries combined,” said Leung.

He noted that many more countries have China as their largest trading partner than the United States.

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“Despite US decoupling, the complexity of modern production processes makes it virtually impossible to delink everything from China, ranging from materials like rare earths to components and parts, even logistics as most of the world’s largest container ports are in China.” The country is also rapidly upgrading its cutting-edge technologies including 5G and AI, the strategist said.

There is no need to look for some targeted actions by the Chinese government to prepare the country’s economy for the next crisis, said Sergey Lukonin from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. The economist, who specializes in Chinese studies, pointed to the fact that China’s economy has become more stable over the past decade. “They now understand where to move further,” particularly during this crisis when everything is linked with the internet and digital services.

According to Gupta, the Chinese economy will be in the growth column later this year and will even end the year, overall, with positive growth. “There will be no V-shaped recovery and certainly growth will be nowhere near the pre-Covid-19 six-percent target. It will be more like the one to two percent range,” he said, adding: “But even by this low standard, China will be the fastest growing economy among the major economies this year, and East Asia/Asia-Pacific, the fastest growing economic region of the world.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Coindesk News

Tradeshift Proposes Plan to Protect Denmark’s Supply Chains From COVID-19 Crisis

Tradeshift, the digital trade finance platform that uses blockchain to make payments instant and transparent, has proposed a scheme to the government of Denmark that will free billions of dollars from supply chains, the startup says.

The COVID-19 crisis, like the 2008 financial crisis, has seen companies stretch payment terms and try to preserve cash, which causes a ripple effect down the supply chain and makes the overall situation steadily worsen.

Tradeshift’s plan is to motivate big companies that have applied the brakes, to pay their suppliers instantly rather than delaying, thus preventing further calcification of supply chains and possibly keeping many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from going under.

There is a cost involved in this, however. Offering the necessary additional credit lines to 250 of the biggest exporters operating in Denmark – as a carrot to get them to pay their suppliers immediately – would cost about 1.5 billion DKK (US$217 million) in interest, which Tradeshift is asking the Danish government to stump up.

In return, this would release about 385 billion DKK ($55 billion) over the coming months, says Tradeshift, which is already working with the government’s Danish Export Credit Agency (EKF) as part of a COVID-19 scheme to ensure trade finance insurance remains in place.

“We need to change the fundamental instinctive behavior of corporates in the current situation,” said Tradeshift co-founder Mikkel Hippe Brun. “These are very solid companies that will survive the COVID-19 crisis. The risk of providing them with extra liquidity so they can save their supply chain is very low.”

The media office of the Government of Denmark did not return requests for comment by press time.

The Danish-born, San Francisco-based Tradeshift, which built the first “e-invoicing” scheme in Denmark, has been implementing instant payment programs for years, digitalizing the whole trade process to accelerate payments between big buyers and their suppliers. Over the past two years, the unicorn-status startup has added blockchain to its tech armory, providing an even more transparent and easily auditable system for invoices and purchase orders.

“All of the COVID-19 programs we are doing in Denmark come at a cost to the taxpayer. This is one of the cheapest things you can do in any economy,” said Hippe Brun, citing the work of Aarhus University economics professor Philipp Schröder, who is involved in Denmark’s COVID-19 response planning. “What we need now is the government to step in, to provide insurance for the economy, but also help out and incentivize the corporates to pay now.”

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News Popular Resistance

Indigenous Leadership Points The Way Out Of The COVID Crisis

Indigenous Leadership Points The Way Out Of The COVID Crisis

Indigenous Leadership Points The Way Out Of The COVID Crisis2020-05-07PopularResistance.Org

Above photo: 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. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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News RT

US ambassador hails cooperation with Russia on Covid-19 crisis, but crucial nuclear weapons differences remain — RT World News

The US and Russia are game for multilateral talks with the world’s nuclear powers and have cooperated on oil and against the coronavirus. Yet nuclear arms disagreements still exist, and neither side is giving up ground.

Though an actual conference has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan revealed that President Donald Trump is on board with Russia’s proposed meeting of the P5 powers (China, France, Russia, the UK and US).

Suggested by Russian President Vladimir Putin in January, the summit would allow the world’s leading nuclear powers to discuss global terrorism, arms control, and the ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria. 

“It’s my understanding that the substance and logistics of such a meeting are under consideration,” Sullivan told Russian news agency Interfax, in an interview published on Wednesday.

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Resistance loses it as Trump offers extra US ventilators to RUSSIA to help with Covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has seen Russia and the United States cooperate with each other in ways unimaginable at the height of ‘Russiagate.’ Presidents Trump and Putin spoke by phone more times last month than they did last year, and the Kremlin’s aid shipment to New York last month was warmly received by Washington, where Trump offered to return the favor should Russia need extra supplies.

“This is a time to work together to overcome a common enemy that threatens all of us,” Sullivan added.

Additionally, the historic production cuts agreed upon last month by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting States (OPEC) and its fellow producers largely came about as a result of Trump and Putin teaming up to pressure the organization.

“Just as we were discussing Covid-19…  and the unsettlement in global energy markets, it is important that our governments maintain the type of dialogue that they have to address those issues,” Sullivan said, calling Trump and Putin’s phone calls “an important step in that direction.”

Long before the world grappled with Covid-19, nuclear weapons were the number one existential threat faced by mankind. Though the P5 nations may be gearing up to discuss this issue, among others, the US and Russia haven’t put their disagreements to bed.

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‘If Trump launched nukes, could we stop him?’ Germany’s SPD clashes with coalition allies over NATO nuclear sharing

The New START Treaty, the successor to the last Cold War arms control treaty signed by the USSR and the US in 1991, is set to expire next February. The US wants to replace the treaty with a broader agreement including China, an idea Beijing has publicly stated it has no interest in. Russia, meanwhile, has sought a five-year extension to the current treaty, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier this year that if the US wants to go beyond a bilateral agreement, France, the UK, and “a couple” of other countries should be involved too.

On reaching some sort of compromise, Sullivan had little to say, other that the US has “acknowledged” and is considering Russia’s proposed extension, and that Washington’s desire is still to include Russia and China in negotiations.

He likewise stayed mostly silent about Russia’s proposal to include the UK and France into any future nuclear negotiations, saying only that the idea is “one opportunity” out of several being considered.

Washington’s insistence on Chinese participation is an unrealistic one, even more so given the recent war of words between with Beijing, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared he had “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus pandemic began in a Chinese laboratory.

Moreover, Lavrov has suggested that a withdrawal of US nuclear weapons stored in Europe will likely be on the table when both sides sit down to the next round of negotiations. Given that such a demand would necessitate dragging NATO into discussions, the likelihood of such an agreement being reached before next February is slim.

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Russia & US are rushing into new arms race as they run out of time for realistic arms-control deal

“While the tabling of proposals and counterproposals are age-old diplomatic negotiating tactics, the fact remains that both Russia and the US are fast running out of time to extend the New START Treaty,” former weapons inspector Scott Ritter wrote for RT recently.

“Void of an extension of New START, both Russia and the US will enter a dangerous period where recrimination and mistrust, rather than verification-based trust and a spirit of mutually beneficial disarmament, govern relations,” he added.

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Coindesk News

How Real Estate, Travel and Music Are Faring During the Crisis

100m jobs lost. 2.7T in GDP evaporates. Shutdowns lasting 18-24 months? A look at how the crisis is impacting key industries.

The second order effects of the COVID-19 crisis are here, and they’re painful. In this episode, NLW looks at how COVID is impacting three industries:

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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News Sputnik

Trump: Coronavirus Crisis is Worse Than Pearl Harbor or 9/11


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The US president said by next week, he’s going to announce new members of his coronavirus task force whose focus now shifts to medical treatments and to relaxing the restrictions imposed on business and social life amid the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, US President Donald Trump argued the COVID-19 global pandemic impact on the United States eclipses certain other infamous events in the country’s history, such as 9/11 and the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese military in 1941.

“This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. And it should have never happened,” Trump said.


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