Opium, Poverty, War and Covid

The poppy is a beautiful flower. No doubt early humans were drawn to its bright colour and, once picked, they used their curious minds to develop uses.

Early evidence of its consumption was found in a Neolithic burial site near Barcelona, where it appears it was used for its narcotic and analgesic effects. The ancient Greeks, who held the opium poppy sacred, claimed it was Demeter who discovered it, with figurines of Poppy goddesses found in Gazi, Crete.

The poppy seeds are used today for sprinkling on food; morphine for serious pain relief and as the addictive street drug, heroin.

Opium was one of many herbal remedies discovered and catalogued by Pedanius Dioscorides.

“He was born around 30 A.D. in the town of Anazarbius in Asia Minor, in present day Turkey.  He started work on De Materia Medica around 50 A.D. and published it in 70 A.D.  Although he wrote his herbal in Greek, it was quickly translated into Latin, and subsequently into Arabic and other languages.  Dioscorides died aroung 90 A.D.

Dioscorides’ great herbal is one of the most popular medical reference works in the history of mankind.  Unlike other medical works by classical authors, De Materia Medica wasn’t rediscovered in the Renaissance because it had never really left circulation.

In sheer scale and thoroughness, De Materia Medica vastly surpassed all previous herbals.  It discusses the medicinal properties of over one thousand natural medicinal substances; most of these are botanical in origin, but drugs of animal and mineral origin were also included.  To put things in perspective, the entire Hippocratic Corpus only mentions about 130 different medicinal substances.  Dioscorides listed over 4,740 different uses for the materia medica in his herbal, and lists over 360 varieties of medicinal actions.”

Today we are familiar with holistic medicine and those who still research and qualify in its study and application know this ancient work of Dioscorides. But Big Pharma recognises the value of this work too and many international modern medicine production facilities still refer to this ancient knowledge within modern settings Derived from opium is the synthetic opiates, opioids.

As various medicines are helping to manage the symptoms of Covid, a vaccine is also being developed at a rapid rate. The richer nations are purchasing millions of batches for their citizens. The aim is to reach all global citizens but the logistics and safe transport requirements will be complex.

Some parts of the world do not have a local hospital, even small communities in the United States, and without even medicines to help them they are fighting against the tide of the virus. In Afghanistan, those areas whose farmers grow poppies are making the opium and using it as the only medication available.

The top countries which grow poppies to fulfill the demand for their use are found at Top Opium Poppy Producing Countries – WorldAtlas

The famous Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent

GOLDEN TRIANGLE –  It is an area of around 950,000 square kilometres (367,000 sq mi) that overlaps the mountains of three countries of Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Laos and Thailand.

The Golden Triangle designates the confluence of the Ruak River and the Mekong River, since the term has been appropriated by the Thai tourist industry to describe the nearby border tripoint of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar

GOLDEN CRESCENT is the name given to one of Asia’s two principal areas of illicit opium production (with the other being the Golden Triangle), located at the crossroads of Central, South, and Western Asia. This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan, whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent.

From <https://getorgot.blogspot.com/2016/04/golden-triangle-golden-crescent.html>

And here a piece of what life is like for most Afghans caught between warring factions, their opium they grow is all they can turn to to ease the pain and symptoms of Covid.

“The first item on everyone’s minds is food. Some fear that, as flour prices rise, the small, local bakeries will close. ‘It is better to die of the coronavirus rather than die of poverty,’ says Mohammada Jan, a shoemaker in Kabul. Jan Ali, a labourer, laments, ‘Hunger will kill us before we are killed by the coronavirus. We are stuck between two deaths.’

Even without the disruption caused by the pandemic, nearly 11 million face acute food insecurity, according to UN projections. For the thousands of street children and casual labourers in Afghanistan, no work means no bread. For the poor in urban areas, the main priority will be to feed their families, which means being out in the street, looking for work, money and supplies. People are likely to be more worried about starving to death than about dying from the coronavirus. ‘They are too busy trying to survive poverty and upheaval to worry about a new virus’

With prices of wheat flour, fresh fruit and nutritious food items rising fast and no government control of food prices, there is a real danger of famine. Border closures, intended to restrict the spread of the virus, mean international supply lines of oil and pulses, mostly from Pakistan, will be severely restricted. Even though many farmers are optimistic for this year’s harvest, after plentiful snows and rains this winter, the virus could hit them just as the harvest starts in May.

At the time of writing, there have been 1,019 confirmed corona virus cases and 36 reported deaths, although with limited testing and many not seeking health care when sick, the actual figure must be much higher. The provinces most affected are Herat, Kabul and Kandahar.

The heart of the outbreak is in Herat, the busy border town from which, normally, thousands of Afghans, mostly young men, cross into Iran in search of work. Following fatalities and lockdown in Iran, last week alone 140,000 Afghans recrossed the border into Herat. Some are escaping the coronavirus itself, others have lost their jobs because of the lockdown so they have nowhere to go.

In Herat, a three-hundred-bed hospital has just been built to cope with the new cases. Afghanistan has set up new testing centres, laboratories and hospital wards, even roadside hand washing stations. The World Bank has approved a donation of $100.4 million, to provide new hospitals, safety equipment, better testing and ongoing education about the virus. The first medical packs from China, of ventilators, protective suits and testing kits, arrived in Afghanistan last week.

Many Western NGOs, however, have had to stop work as their staff has been ordered home by their own countries and there is a shortage of doctors trained in the intubation procedures needed to help COVID-19 patients.

Afghanistan’s 1 million displaced people [IDPs] will be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For those in camps, overcrowding means it is almost impossible to maintain social distancing. Poor sanitation, and scant resources, sometimes no running water or soap means basic hygiene is difficult. For migrant workers, a lock down means both their jobs and accommodation suddenly disappear; they have no choice but to return to their village, causing huge numbers of people to be on the move.

Commentators International Alert and Crisis Group analyse the fall out from COVID-19 pandemic. First of all western leaders, don’t have time to devote to conflict and peace processes, while focused on domestic issues. The UK prime minister has only recently recovered from the virus as I write.

It is thought the COVID-19 pandemic will ‘wreak havoc’ in fragile states, where civil society is not strong. While on one hand there is a sense that ‘we’re in this together’, as we know from our own situation in the UK the virus has also given rise to more surveillance and unusually heavy-handed policing. In a country where ethnic tensions turn into armed conflict, there is a danger that ‘othering’, in which particular groups, such as migrants for example, are blamed for spreading the virus, becomes violent and deadly.

Despite prisoner swaps between the Taliban and the Afghan government completed as a foundation for peace talks, and despite the Taliban joining in the campaign to educate citizens about the virus, attacks such as this one by ISIS, continue. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports 5 covert US air or drone strikes against the Taliban in March, resulting in between 30 and 65 deaths. A month ago, the UN Secretary-General called for ‘an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world’. Ongoing ceasefire and peace negotiations are vital for Afghanistan during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Voices for Creative Nonviolence-UK (http://vcnv.org.uk) is VCNV’s sister organization in the UK. When visiting Afghanistan its members are guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (www.ourjourneytosmile.com)

Rich countries also struggle with economies running into deeper debt trying to cover the costs incurred by the consequences of fighting the virus. No nation is escaping the enormous challenges. But humans are the most successful life form since the dinosaurs, yet we have been around for a tiny fraction of the time they endured.

We all may wonder if our ingenuity and stamina will overcome this threat amidst all the other crises such as climate change. Whilst each day unfolds, those of us who witness the human caring and hard work to save lives and not needlessly destroy them, gives us a glimmer of hope for this to be a turning point for the better for humanity.

>

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Poverty and Covid

Worldometer today says today there are 846,886,647 and climbing, undernourished people in the world. But there are many more people who are overweight. Many thousands of dollars are spent in the US on weight loss programs, and very little is spent on feeding those who have found themselves without food today. You need a nourishing diet to protect your immune system, and Covid will seek out those with poor immune systems.

There are 796,928,478 who have no access to safe drinking water, but to fight Covid people must not only have safe drinking water, but a supply of clean water and soap to regularly wash their hands. This issue is being tackled, but not fast enough to save lives.

There is plenty of money in the world but we do not spend it where it is most needed. Covid will overwhelm us if we do not provide suitable living conditions for all members of the human race. Make this a priority and we will destroy this virus before it destroys us.

In parts of the world, it is necessary to shop in markets each day in order to purchase or barter for necessities to provide for each day of existence. These markets have not been redesigned to cater for Covid restrictions, and Covid multiplies in such environments.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/17/coronavirus-latin-america-markets-mexico-brazil-peru

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Seems like a good idea to Track and Trace. Then dominate the virus.

Test everyone, then track and trace. Makes sense, but only a small number of the World’s population find themselves equipped to carry this out effectively. We will have unnecessary deaths as a result, and health workers will be overwhelmed. Trust in some systems is ebbing away, whilst others have risen to the challenge.

Take a look:

https://www.exemplars.health/emerging-topics/epidemic-preparedness-and-response/covid-19

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Covid 19 and religion

Humans have adhered to religious beliefs for thousands of years. Many belief systems fly in the face of advice for self and other protection against the current contagious virus.

Here we have an example in the news this month:

Israeli Hasids

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/ukraine-hasidic-jews-belarus-border-pilgrimage-israel-plea-1312126

Christian worship:

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/faith/2020/09/24/to-exempt-or-not-to-exempt-covid-19-exemptions-continue-to-spark-debate-over-religious-liberty-public-health/

UK Statistical analysis related deaths by religion, May 2020

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/coronaviruscovid19relateddeathsbyreligiousgroupenglandandwales/2marchto15may2020

Muslim worship in UK, September 2020

India, Hindu advice:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/immense-self-discipline-caution-exercised-at-places-of-worship-during-covid-19-pandemic-mukhtar-abbas-naqvi/article32535471.ece#!

Israel advice on Covid and worship:

Buddhist in Thailand:

https://asialink.unimelb.edu.au/insights/covid-in-thailand-failed-and-foolhardy-predictions

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Covid 19 as many countries fight wildfires

As we continue to see the virus take its toll, watching the awful numbers at https://worldometer.pro, there is a background of other disasters for human to grapple with at the same time, such as the earth heating to unbelievable temperatures.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/death-valley-records-highest-temperature-107-years-heat-wave/


Conditions are such that many people will have to find somewhere safer to live. This blog briefly illustrates the wildfire issues.

Trump gave his opinion in an interview, September 2020:

President Trump doubled down on his denial of climate change yesterday by saying that scientists are wrong and claiming that the world will “start getting cooler.”

The remarks, delivered during a brief visit to California to discuss the state’s historic wildfires, run counter to mountains of research on global warming — including reports issued by his own administration (Climatewire, Nov. 23, 2018).

His comments ignored how climate change has contributed to natural disasters as the nation watches uncontrolled blazes spread across the West, causing catastrophic damage and killing more than 35 people.”

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063713713

and NOAA has appointed “new deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. It’s not immediately clear what his specific responsibilities are or why he was hired, according to the news site.”  see: https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/516160-delaware-professor-who-has-questioned-climate-science-hired-at-noaa

C02 Coalition are funded to oppose environmentalists

https://neweconomics.org/2020/08/road-to-recovery&sa=D&ust=1598436506209000&usg=AFQjCNF-jBcJBbWOBkj7Y8dBPjHNqHX_og

Ramiro Gomez / Creative Commons

The above map was 2014

And in 2017 https://sciexaminer.com/news/science/nasas-scientists-insinuate-never-seen-connection-wildfire-famine-africa-946.html


As the earth heats due to climate change, this is 2020:

USA https://fsapps.nwcg.gov/afm/

South America https://www.pixalytics.com/heat-fire/samerica-fires-openstreetmap/

Australia https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/12/21/everything-burnish g-australian-inferno-continues-choking-access-cities-across-country


Central Africa https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/27/world/africa/congo-angola-rainforest-fires.html


Expect tens of millions of internal climate migrants by 2050, says World Bank


And wars displace people who flee to places where wildfires are commonplace. Only this time, some of the people have Covid.

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Covid 19 immigrants detained and placed in medical isolation



Reproduced from https://www.icij.org/investigations/solitary-voices/they-were-punishing-me-for-getting-sick/?utm_source=ICIJ&utm_campaign=1f8a56091a-0825_WeeklyEmail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_992ecfdbb2-1f8a56091a-82075869

“‘They were punishing me for getting sick’

Immigrant detention centers in the United States are locking detainees with COVID-19 in solitary confinement cells for days or weeks at a time, with little opportunity for medical treatment, according to detainees and immigrant advocates.

“In the end, what they did was psychologically torture me,” said Carlos Hernandez Corbacho, who said he spent more than a week in isolation cells at Arizona’s La Palma Correctional Center in June after showing symptoms of COVID-19. “That’s how I felt — like they were punishing me for getting sick.”

Quarantining people believed to have the coronavirus is crucial to slowing its spread. But solitary confinement cells that hold people detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, are a far cry from a hospital bed or a hotel room: cells are claustrophobic, sparsely furnished, and those confined are allowed limited social interaction. A stay can cause lasting trauma and trigger suicidal impulses.

Placing COVID-19 patients in solitary confinement, experts say, is inhumane and jeopardizes the overall population by deterring detainees from reporting symptoms.

“Resorting to solitary confinement to treat physically ill immigration detainees demonstrates ICE’s appalling inability to provide humane and truly civil detention,” said Ellen Gallagher, who works for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General. Gallagher has been an outspoken critic of ICE’s use of solitary confinement, which she calls “barbaric.”

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture has said that solitary confinement should be banned except in “very exceptional circumstances.” In 2019, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Solitary Voices investigation found that ICE routinely isolates detainees that it sees as difficult to manage, including the sick, disabled and mentally ill, for extended periods of time in solitary confinement cells.

In an emailed statement, ICE said that its quarantine practices are not a punitive measure and are conducted in accordance with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines. “Detainees who test positive for COVID-19 receive appropriate medical care to manage the disease,” ICE spokesperson Danielle Bennett told ICIJ in a statement.

ICE said that while it does medically isolate detainees, the experience is substantially different than punitive forms of solitary confinement. Quarantined detainees have access to recreation, telephone calls and libraries — subject to “restricted movement protocols” necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, Bennett said. They can also communicate with lawyers and courts.

At any given time ICE holds tens of thousands of detainees awaiting immigration proceedings or deportation — processes that have slowed since the outbreak of the pandemic — at facilities dotted across the U.S. Conditions are similar to those in prisons: detainees live in close quarters and find it impossible to socially distance.

In recent months, ICE detention centers have seen surging coronavirus case numbers, with some facilities reporting exponential outbreaks. As of mid-August, nearly 5,000 detainees had tested positive for the coronavirus and ICE says five had died, although immigration advocates say this is an undercount. Activists and detainees around the country have pressed ICE to improve facility sanitation and to release vulnerable detainees.

ICIJ spoke with three current or former detainees directly — all held at La Palma — and reviewed detailed case notes provided by advocates and detainees describing an additional six instances. Each said they were put in solitary confinement after they were exposed to someone who had contracted the virus, after showing symptoms, or after testing positive.

CDC guidelines say that medical isolation should be “operationally distinct” from punitive solitary confinement, “both in name and in practice.” But in court documents and in interviews, detainees said their experience was effectively the same. They were locked alone in small cells and received little to no medical aid, they said.

Freedom For Immigrants, an advocacy group, has received more than a dozen reports of ICE detention centers in California, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Colorado and Arizona placing detainees who were suspected to have coronavirus into solitary confinement cells, including those typically reserved for segregating violent detainees from the general population.

In May, Choung Woong Ahn, who according to ICE had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts, hanged himself while quarantined in a solitary cell at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in California. The 74-year-old was undergoing a 14-day isolation period after returning from a stay at a hospital.

A memorial for Choung Woong Ahn was held San Francisco after his death. Image: Deborah SvobodaAnother detainee, Oscar Perez Aguirre at Colorado’s Aurora Contract Detention Facility, said he was hospitalized for COVID-19 symptoms, and returned to the facility so weak he couldn’t stand. He was put in a cold and dirty solitary confinement cell for more than two weeks, according to court documents.

In June, officials at Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center put at least 45 men in solitary confinement after they tested positive for COVID-19, Mother Jones reported.

At California’s Adelanto ICE Processing Center, and in Louisiana’s Pine Prairie Processing Center, detainees medically isolated in solitary cells reported being denied opportunities to shower and receive medical attention, according to Freedom for Immigrants.

Detainees at Adelanto and Alabama’s Etowah County Detention Center said they were reluctant to seek medical care due to fears of being placed in solitary confinement, the advocacy group reported.

“As the pandemic has progressed, we’ve documented a trend of people detained in ICE prisons not wanting to report symptoms out of fear they will be placed in medical solitary,” said Rebekah Entralgo, a spokesperson for Freedom for Immigrants.

Despite years of evidence to the contrary, CoreCivic — which contracts with ICE to run La Palma and a number of other detention centers — denies that their facilities use solitary confinement.

“The claim that solitary confinement is used in our facilities is patently false,” CoreCivic spokesperson Ryan Gustin said. “Like most public and private secure facilities during this pandemic, we use separate housing units within our facilities to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 when someone is confirmed positive for the virus.”

Gustin said that CoreCivic has rigorously followed “the guidance of local, state and federal health authorities, as well as our government partners,” including at La Palma.

‘A nightmare’: Stuck in solitary with COVID-19

Hernandez Corbacho thought he’d finally reached safety when he first arrived in the U.S. 10 months ago. He and his wife, Maydel Curbelo Perez, had fled Cuba, where police were monitoring them for their vocal criticism of the country’s dictatorship, she said.

Carlos Hernandez Corbacho and Maydel Curbelo Perez

Using the money they had saved up for their wedding, the couple boarded a plane to Nicaragua in May of 2019, crawling up through Central America by foot and in a combination of buses, taxis and planes until they reached Nogales, Mexico. There, on the border with Arizona, they presented themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for political asylum.

But things didn’t go as planned. ICE separated the two in detention. Maydel won her political asylum case in March, but Hernandez Corbacho’s court dates were repeatedly canceled amid the pandemic, leaving him stranded in ICE custody for five more months before the judge finally granted him asylum August 19.

In June, Hernandez Corbacho felt the first tickle of a cough in his throat. Hernandez Corbacho had contracted a virus that has killed over 800,000 across the globe.

But he said he was afraid to say anything. He’d heard rumors of officials locking detainees with COVID-19 symptoms in solitary, and wanted to put it off as long as possible. By the third day, his symptoms had grown severe: he had headaches, chills, nausea, and had lost his sense of smell. An official took him to see the nurse, who, inexplicably, sent him back to his cell, he said.

After vomiting throughout the rest of the day, staff finally took him to the infirmary to be tested, at the insistence of his fellow detainees. He tested positive for COVID-19.

ICE officials put Hernandez Corbacho in what he describes as an isolation cell in the infirmary, which he said was filthy: full of dirt, dust and bugs that he had to clean away himself. It was furnished only with a bed. He had no books, or entertainment, other than a Bible. There were no windows. The frequent clanging of iron cell doors, opening and closing like a cargo train, and guard radio conversations made it impossible to sleep.

I cried. I thought, he’s going to die in there – Maydel Curbelo Perez

Alone in his cell, he still felt nauseous and ill. Officials gave him an aspirin, which felt lucky — he’d heard most sick detainees got nothing. As his symptoms abated, they were replaced by anxiety and restlessness.

Across the country in Miami, his wife was panicking. She knew her husband was sick. They talked on the phone daily. Suddenly she couldn’t get a hold of him. A friend released from La Palma told her he’d seen Hernandez Corbacho taken to the infirmary, but when she called, no ICE official would tell her where or how he was.

“I was so scared,” she said. “I cried. I thought, ‘he’s going to die in there.’”

After five days, guards moved him into a solitary confinement cell primarily used to punish detainees, he said. It was also filthy, and also sparsely furnished. Three days later he was released back into the general population, he recalls. He still felt sick.

“I never thought I’d experience in the United States the kind of abuse that occurs in my country,” he wrote in an open letter to human rights groups. “I lived a nightmare.”

After the first couple days in isolation, he was able to call his wife again. On the other end of the phone, she worried for his mental health. She encouraged him to read, to write — to find some way of occupying his mind.

“At the end, he was telling me, ‘I can’t take it anymore,’” she said. “It was making him desperate.”

Why solitary doesn’t work for medical isolation

Containing an outbreak in any kind of facility — from detention centers to prisons to nursing homes — has proven a challenge even in the best of situations. For detention centers, the simplest solution, experts say, is to release as many detainees as possible.

As soon as March, thousands were released early from U.S. prisons to lower the risk of the virus within facilities — including several high-profile, white-collar criminals like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. ICE detainees are held on civil, not criminal, charges.

There are measures detention centers can take to mitigate the spread, like extensive testing, contact tracing, social distancing, personal protective equipment and reliable communication, said Dr. Terry Kupers, a psychologist specializing in the effects of solitary confinement. But that approach has its limits.

“Correctional facilities have a very, very poor record of doing all of these things in the best of times, and they’re not intensifying their approach during the pandemic,” he said.

Detention centers simply aren’t outfitted with the facilities to control a virus at this scale, said David Cloud, director of research at University of San Francisco’s Amend, a team of academics advocating for criminal justice reform. Solitary confinement cells are used, in part, because there’s often nowhere else for sick or exposed detainees to go, he said.

In cramped detention facilities, medical isolation can still fail to contain the spread of infection. Shared ventilation, cross-contamination and the movement of guards can still spread the virus within the facility, Kupers said.

The effectiveness of medical isolation is even more inhibited if the distinction from punitive solitary confinement isn’t clearly communicated because it can deter the sick from coming forward, Cloud said.

That means officials should strive to make detainees as comfortable as possible in isolation, safely providing them with access to medical aid, recreational activities, entertainment and some social interaction, he said. Medical isolation that feels like a punishment dissuades detainees from reporting symptoms, which can continue to fuel an outbreak.

Entralgo agrees, adding that the pandemic has amplified some of the most difficult issues facing detainees.

“Covid-19 has really exacerbated some issues that already exist within the immigration detention system,” Entralgo said. “Poor medical treatment, lack of communication with the outside world — these things have existed in immigration detention for decades.”


                                                                                            *********************

In the meantime Trump continues to redirect funding from the US Coast Guard and other agencies to a detention system whose daily population has grown by more than 40% since he took office. And it’s only getting bigger.

Read also https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/sep/24/detained-us-largest-immigrant-detention-trump

In memory of 74 yr old Korean immigrant, Choung Woong Ahn


“This tragedy was senseless and preventable,” said Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project. “Suicides in ICE detention have increased to disturbing highs under this administration — and that was before COVID-19. ICE is now detaining approximately 28,000 people; many have reported receiving almost no official information about the pandemic. Make no mistake: ICE and the administration are responsible for this death. No one should be held in civil detention during a pandemic.”



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Covid-19-driven need

With few exceptions, the richer the wealthy become, the more selfish they behave, from severely diminished contributions to charities to the failure to exert leadership to reverse the breakdown of society. Take all the failures of the election machinery from obstructing voters to simply counting the votes honestly with paper records. The U.S. Senate won’t vote to give the states the $4 billion needed for administering the coming elections despite the Covid-19-driven need for expanded voting by mail. The Silicon Valley, undertaxed, mega-billionaires could make a $4 billion patriotic donation to safeguard the voting process in November and not even feel it.

Rampant commercialism knowing no boundaries or restraints even to protect young children is running roughshod over civic values. Every major religion has warned about giving too much power to the merchant class going back over 2000 years. In our country, justice arrived after commercial greed was subordinated to humane priorities such as abolishing child labor and requiring crashworthy cars, cleaner air, water, and safer workplaces. Mercantile values produce predictable results, from excluding civic groups from congressional hearings and the mass media to letting corporations control what the people own such as the vast public lands and public airwaves.

Then there is the American Empire astride the globe, enabled by an AWOL Congress and propelled by the avaricious military-industrial complex. In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower presciently forewarned that “[W]e must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” All Empires devour themselves until they collapse on the countries of their origins. Over 55% of the federal government’s operating spending goes to the Pentagon and its associated budgets. The military-industrial complex increasingly leads to quagmires and creates adversaries abroad, as it starves the social safety net budgets in our country. Our country’s military spending with all its waste is surging and unaudited. The U.S. spent more than $732 billion on direct defense spending in 2019; this is more than the next ten countries with the largest military expenditures.

A society that requires its people to incur crushing debt to survive, while relying on casinos and other forms of gambling to produce jobs, is going backward into the future.” Ralph Nader, 2020


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Pandemic and benefits to banks

Pam Martens and Russ Martens have been very critical of the role of the Federal Reserve and BlackRock in the current economic crisis. They have anticipated that, if the current drift of events continues, American taxpayers will once again be gobsmacked with a huge growth in the national debt. This development would amount to another major transfer of wealth away from working people to the beneficiaries of Wall Street firms and the same commercial institutions that received the lion’s share of funds during the last bailout.

The co-authors picture BlackRock is part of a scheme to use “Special Purpose Vehicles” like “Enron used to hide the true state of its finances and blow itself up.” They entitle their article published on 31 March, 2020 as “The Dark Secrets in the Fed’s Wall Street Bailout Are Getting a Devious Makeover in Today’s Bailout.”


The authors observe. “What makes the New York Fed’s bailout of Wall Street so much more dangerous this time around is that it has decided to use a different structure for its loans to Wall Street – one that will force losses on taxpayers and, it hopes, will provide an ironclad secrecy curtain around how much it spends and where the money goes.”


https://wallstreetonparade.com


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Covid 19: out of sight out of mind

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/08/04/Census-Bureau-to-end-counting-a-month-early/3901596513638/

http://www.ncai.org/news/articles/2020/08/05/national-native-organizations-issue-joint-statement-on-u-s-census-bureau-change-to-2020-census-operations

Reproducing website concerns:

National Native Organizations Issue Joint Statement on U.S. Census Bureau Change to 2020 Census Operations

Published on Aug 05, 2020
CONTACT

NCAIpress@ncai.org

Riof@nuifc.org

landreth@narf.org

National Native Organizations Issue Joint Statement on U.S. Census Bureau Change to 2020 Census Operations

This week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it is ending its Census 2020 field operations on September 30, 2020, despite severely low response rates in historically undercounted areas, including in many tribal areas across the country.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC) are deeply alarmed and concerned with this unwarranted and irresponsible decision. An accurate Census count is essential to ensure fair and accurate representation of all Americans, including this country’s First Americans, because Census data is used for reapportionment of congressional seats and in redistricting to elect representatives at every level of government. Ending the 2020 Census count early during a global pandemic is not only bad policy, it puts at risk the ability of our communities to access social safety net and other benefits that a complete Census count affords Americans wherever they are.

Our tribal nations and tribal communities have been ravaged by COVID-19, and an extension of the Census enumeration period was a humane lifeline during an unprecedented global health catastrophe that provided critically needed additional time to tribal nations to ensure that all of everyone in their communities are counted. For millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives, whether they live on rural reservations or in America’s large cities, an inaccurate Census count will decimate our ability to advocate for necessary services for our most vulnerable communities. An incomplete count also undermines our representative system of government in violation of the United States Constitution and in derogation of the federal government’s trust responsibilities to tribal nations.  

NCAI, NARF, and NUIFC strongly support a complete Census count and call on the United States Congress to take urgent legislative action to include an extension of the Census field operation timelines in the next COVID-19 package.
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About the National Congress of American Indians:

Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit http://www.ncai.org.
About the Native American Rights Fund:

Founded in 1970, NARF is the oldest and largest non-profit dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and individual Indians nationwide. For the past 48 years, NARF has represented over 275 Tribes in 31 states in such areas as tribal jurisdiction, federal recognition, land claims, hunting and fishing rights, religious liberties, and voting rights. For more information, visit http://www.narf.org.&nbsp;
About the National Urban Indian Family Coalition:
Created in 2003, he NUIFC advocates for American Indian families living in urban areas by creating partnerships with tribes, as well as other American Indian organizations, and by conducting research to better understand the barriers, issues, and opportunities facing urban American Indian families. The NUIFC works to ensure access to traditionally excluded organizations and families, and to focus attention on the needs of urban Indians. Learn more by visiting http://www.nuifc.org

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Covid 19: bringing out the worst kind of enforcers after lockdown

Ruthless Colombian cartels are executing those who break their coronavirus lockdown rules.

Armed groups have introduced their own bloody system of “justice” and quarantine in regions where infection rates are out of control.

The worrying news was revealed by experts from the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW).”

Colombian cartels executing people who break coronavirus lockdown


Timeline of Colombian cartels:

https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/history-of-the-colombian-drug-cartels

The virus has seriously thwarted their trade, here are some extracts from the article linked below:

“Coronavirus is dealing a gut punch to the illegal drug trade, paralyzing economies, closing borders and severing supply chains in China that traffickers rely on for the chemicals to make such profitable drugs as methamphetamine and fentanyl.

One of the main suppliers that shut down is in Wuhan, the epicenter of the global outbreak.

“The godfathers of the cartels are scrambling,” said Phil Jordan, a former director of the DEA’s El Paso Intelligence Center.

‘Cartels Are Scrambling’: Virus Snarls Global Drug Trade

And how drugs spread Covid 19 en route:

https://www.euronews.com/2020/07/17/italian-police-intercept-coffee-beans-stuffed-with-cocaine


Source: UNODC World Drug Report 2010

How Does Illegal Drug Money Affect the Economy?

Currently, we are experiencing fundamental changes to the global economy, and some economists believe that the era of Western economic supremacy is drawing to a close. As this transitional phase continues, we are likely to see radical changes within the drug trade. The current trend towards legalising and regulating the world’s most valuable cash crop – cannabis – may be an aspect of this fundamental change.”

In Kenya, Africa, policing in poor areas during  curfew has resulted in violence and deaths.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/22/kenya-police-brutality-during-curfew

“Another man, 26, from Mombasa’s Mwangulu area in Lungalunga, said that on April 2 police stormed into his compound at around 7:20 p.m. and beat him with whips. He had just stepped out of his house to go to the latrine within his compound when police started beating him, saying he had violated the curfew by being outside at that time. He was injured on his back, hand, and neck.”

Kenya has been a hotspot for criminal drug crime:

WAR ON DRUGS: Kenya, the Forgotten Hotspot of the Heroin Trade

Three years ago the above report emphasises the seriousness of the drug problem in Kenya. Here is an extract:

“Undeniably, Kenya is a major trafficking hub for drugs. It also has a growing consumption problem. Those interviewed for this report detailed a number of approaches that can help defeat traffickers and trafficking: Detect, deter and interdict. It needs strengthening of the country’s data collection systems, international co-operation, effective border controls, and law enforcement.”

https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/covid-19-drives-marijuana-sales-bump-then-slump

https://www.masslive.com/marijuana/2020/04/coronavirus-cannabis-control-commission-to-study-medical-marijuana-supply-chain-after-spike-in-patient-applications-during-covid-19-pandemic.html

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