News, July 12th

A taxing problem: how to ensure the poor and vulnerable don’t shoulder the cost of the COVID-19 crisis

In the wake of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, tax systems should be reformed, and tax avoidance and evasion reduced, to ensure an economic recovery in which everyone pays their share, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Taxes pay for many of the things that are fundamental to functioning societies across the world, such as schools, health care, and social services. Money raised through taxation is crucial to ensuring that these services are maintained during the COVID-19 crisis. But, when businesses shut down, and millions lose their jobs, as has happened during the current crisis, tax revenue plummets.

In the short-term, governments have put together stimulus packages, and a wide array of measures to help businesses and citizens get back on their feet. The IMF is tracking these efforts, which range from a $540 billion European Union package, which includes funding to help the hardest-hit states; to a ‘cash for work’ program in Cambodia; and, in Samoa, a six-month reduction in private utility bills.

At the same time, the IMF has made emergency COVID-19 funding available, particularly to those countries with developing economies. The IMF has made some $250 billion available, in the form of financial assistance and debt service relief, to some 77 member countries.

For example, In April, the IMF approved Afghanistan’s request for an emergency assistance package of approximately $220 million, to help the country cope with the disruption to trade, which has led to heavy damage to the economy.

Bangladesh, which has been badly hit by plummeting demand for one of its main exports, clothing, received emergency assistance worth some $732 million in May. Also in May, to avoid what the IMF characterized as “immediate and severe economic disruption” resulting from the pandemic, Egypt received a package of more than $2.7 billion, to help alleviate some of the most pressing financing needs, including for spending on health, social protection, and supporting the most impacted sectors and vulnerable groups.

But, in the longer-term, these stop-gap measures will not be enough to fix many of the underlying problems of the global economy, which include growing inequality within countries, and the ability of multinational enterprises to legally minimize corporate taxes.

Victoria Perry, Deputy Director of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, and an expert on taxation, told UN News that, in planning the post-pandemic recovery, countries should look at dealing with inequality by implementing more progressive tax systems: “this means that the average tax rate rises, along with income. The extent of the tax burden for richer people is for each country to decide, but it is certainly problematic when effective tax rates for better off people are lower than for poorer ones. It is also often the case that better off people, with access to tax advice and more complex financial affairs, can make better use of exceptions or loopholes in the tax system than those who rely only on wages. Closing such options can make for a more equitable system and — depending on the country — can be more important than structural reforms of tax rates.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing gap between rich and poor was already a cause for concern. Whilst inequality has fallen between countries, with some countries, such as China, making huge strides in raising overall income levels in recent decades, inequality within countries appears to be rising. For Ms. Perry and the IMF, personal income taxes play a leading role, when it comes to determining the progressivity of the tax system.

Ms. Perry adds that another option for some developing countries, which have trouble raising and enforcing a personal income tax, is to look at taxing property: “whilst income is relatively easy to hide, luxury homes are very visible, and a tax-free threshold means that owners of cheaper homes can be exempt or relieved from paying it”.

It is important to look at both sides of the equation — not only taxes, but how the money is spent to improve lives.

Income inequality differs widely across countries, but studies show that creating a fairer society, is not only about redistributing wealth, but, as Ms. Perry explains, putting in place policies that help people to gain sustainable, decent work: “Globalization has affected all open economies, but countries with effective redistributive tax and benefit systems have been able to avoid sharply rising inequality. However, redistribution on its own is not enough. It has to go hand-in-hand with a host of other measures, such as retraining, and job support”. In thinking about equity, then, it is important to look at both sides of the equation—not only taxes, but how the money is spent to improve lives.

Some studies have calculated that, in richer countries, some 10 per cent of corporate tax revenue is lost to tax avoidance by multinationals. Developing countries are estimated to lose even more, in proportion to the national incomes.

“Another problem is that the international tax system may shift the tax base away from the ‘source’ country, says Ms. Perry. “So, if a mining company has its headquarters (residence) in a richer country but operates mines in a less-developed economy (the source), the source country may not get the lion’s share of the tax revenue. When we talk about ‘fair and equitable distribution’, many observers are talking about ensuring that source countries get a better deal. The current international debate over taxing major digital tech companies, many of which are headquartered in the US, is similar, but the “digital” economy is even harder to address. Even though they’re doing business and making money all over the world, where the presence is virtual rather than physical, countries are not allowed to collect tax revenue on the income, under the current system”.

“We are going through this huge economic crisis, and countries are having to make major adjustments to their economies. But inequality is also a kind of huge global problem in itself. This is also then an opportunity to change tax systems for the better, to make them fairer and more equitable, and to promote economic activity that is less polluting, less dominated by industry with a large carbon footprint, and more sustainable.”

Bill Gates warns ‘deadlier pandemic’ if vaccine goes to ‘highest bidders’

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned about a deadlier pandemic if successful drugs or a COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, go first to the highest bidders, and not reach the common people who need it the most.

Addressing a remote COVID-19 conference hosted by the International AIDS Society on Saturday, Gates said democratizing the vaccine must be the goal, reports CNBC.

“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust deadlier pandemic,” he said.

“We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors,” Gates added.

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The fear is that once the vaccine is developed, the rich and the powerful people would grab it first.

However, despite encouraging preliminary data coming from some research labs, a Covid-19 vaccine is nowhere near while new corona cases are mounting in several countries including in India.

No vaccines have yet started their large and critical Phase-III trials in the US.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently the most advanced vaccine in terms of development.

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, developed by researchers from the Oxford University, will likely provide protection against the disease for one year, the British drug maker’s CEO told Belgian radio station Bel RTL recently.

The vaccine developed at the Oxford Jenner Institute is currently on trial in the UK, where over 4,000 participants have enrolled and additional enrollment of 10,000 participants is planned for the clinical trial. The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine has been licensed to AstraZeneca.

“Global cooperation, a resolve to invent the tools and get them out where they’re needed most is critical,” said Gates at the virtual event.

Gates in May said the vaccine development may take at least nine months to two years.

“Most of the drug candidates right now are nowhere near that powerful. They could save a lot of lives, but they aren’t enough to get us back to normal,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote in his GatesNotes blog.

In the absence of an “almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19”, it becomes imperative that every person on the planet gets vaccinated against coronavirus.

“Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

How will the police be abolished?  A Marxist perspective

1. The Party for Socialism and Liberation stands for the overthrow, dismantling and complete replacement of the core institutions of the capitalist state, which are the “special bodies of armed men,” namely the police, prisons, military, and courts. This core of the capitalist state cannot be reformed into a neutral body. It must be abolished by means of a revolution.

2. The centrality of these violent institutions in capitalist governance is reflected in their gargantuan scale. Combined, the state institutions far outpace any other part of government spending. The sprawling U.S. prison system is the largest in the world, accounting for 25 percent of the world’s prisoners with only 5 percent of the world’s population. It includes 1,833 state prisons, 110 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile jails, 3,134 local jails, 218 immigration detention facilities, as well as military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and other institutions. There are more than 790,000 armed officers across local, state, and federal police agencies. The U.S. military is one of the largest employers in the world and even in “peacetime” the United States maintains more than 2 million active-duty service members. The National Guard numbers around 450,000.

3. This vast and sophisticated network of organized violence and coercion exists to defend the private property interests and power of the capitalist class. It is not designed to maintain “personal safety” or “fight crime,” as claimed by the media, school system and political elite. It ensures stability through force and intimidation and is specially focused on putting down any challenges to their highly unequal and oppressive social order. Every poor or working class person who has ever engaged in a serious struggle for even the most basic things — a strike for better wages, housing for the homeless, better conditions for students, a protest against police brutality, etc. — immediately runs into the forces of the capitalist law and the capitalist state. The essence of these institutions cannot be reformed. No law or executive order can change their fundamental class character from institutions on the side of the capitalists to institutions on the side of the poor, working class and oppressed.

4. U.S. capitalism and the numerically small capitalist class developed on the basis of the theft of the land of the original inhabitants of North America and the unpaid labor of enslaved African peoples. Police and military power in North America were foundationally premised on racism and brutal class oppression, and putting down the triple threats of armed resistance from the Indigenous people, the rebellions of enslaved Africans and the restless, mainly immigrant, working classes of growing urban centers. Over time, special forces and agencies were developed to repress the fighting organizations of the working class and nationally oppressed communities. This is not a story of “way back when.” On the contrary, police operations in Black, Native and Latino neighborhoods still follow the logic of an armed occupation force. The capitalists carried out the greatest expansion of policing, the military and the prison system starting in the 1960s and 1970s as a weapon against the growing challenges to the imperialist system from within and without. This included vast counter-intelligence operations, directed from the federal to the local level, with the explicit objective to subvert and divide people’s movements, and kill or falsely incarcerate its leaders.

5. The nature of the state cannot be transformed under capitalism; the only solution is a revolution. In a socialist revolution, the capitalist state would be overthrown, not just reformed, and its core state institutions smashed and replaced with new state institutions that answer to poor and working people and serve their interests. A revolution will create new socialist laws and norms, and new state institutions of a new class character will be created by the working class in power to defend the revolutionary state and protect that new social order. This process of dismantling the old state and building a new one from the ground up has been confirmed by history as a feature of every thoroughgoing socialist revolution.

6. We unite with the sentiment of those who are demanding “abolish the police.” It is a rejection of the whole capitalist state apparatus. It is a rejection of the bourgeois propaganda about “a few bad apples” and the notion that the police “solve” crime. So how can the capitalists’ police be abolished? The capitalist state will not abolish its own front-line protectors. To do so would be suicide for the ruling class. At most the capitalist politicians will move around some funding and enforcement responsibilities to new, or less hated agencies, or turn towards private mercenary forces. But the abuses, violence and racism of the police derive from their social function in this system — their behavior towards the people does not principally derive from the agencies by themselves, and that same behavior would be reproduced in any new armed institution tasked with defending this vastly unequal and racist system.

To abolish capitalist law enforcement would therefore require first to abolish capitalist law itself. The struggle to eliminate the existing police forces thus must be approached as part of a revolutionary struggle to overthrow capitalism and class society, and to replace the existing state with a socialist government and system. Under the name of abolitionism there are many valuable endeavors to transform interpersonal relations, to reconceive of state and activist responses to different forms of harm, to divest from police budgets and invest in social needs, among others. But the abolition of the capitalist state also requires a program for revolution, where the oppressed seize and hold power and the oppressors lose power.

7. Under socialism, the working class and oppressed gain real power, abolish capitalist law and create a new set of rights and laws. The new power creates its own public safety, penal and national security institutions from the ground up to enforce those laws, to defend its revolution, and to repress the violent exploiters who have been overthrown. The social roots of so much of what constitutes “crime” would be rapidly addressed. Freedom would be granted to the vast majority of those currently incarcerated. A revolution in the political and economic sphere would immediately begin to address poverty and inequality and would be deeply connected to a revolution in values and culture. This in turn would lead to fewer crimes driven by poverty and need and progressively fewer crimes of random violence, of patriarchy and of racism.  The empowered, armed, and organized working class would constitute a state in which the “special body of armed men” would not be used to repress the working class but used instead to repress the remnants and resistance from the old capitalist class. So, the class character of these new institutions would be wholly different.

8. In a workers’ state the goal is to shrink special bodies of force overtime to the point of their dissolution. Socialism is a transitional phase to communism, and under communism there are no special bodies of repression whatsoever — no police, no prisons, no military. Communism is our goal.

Marxists differ with anarchists not so much on the end goal, but in the methods to achieve it. In the final analysis the state is synonymous with force. It is a question of power. The state manages social antagonisms to the benefit of the ruling class, and under socialism the class struggle does not disappear overnight, because social classes and their vestiges do not disappear overnight. Rather, the working class becomes the ruling class. The practical problems of a massive social transformation will involve complicated challenges — the resistance of the disposed classes and their hired guns, the enduring prevalence of bourgeois and reactionary patterns of behavior, and so on. A revolution does not proceed according to playbooks and formulas but rather consists of developing new forms of struggle to overcome class society; it does not just consist of victories but of setbacks, compromises, and retreats.

Ultimately to set up any system of rules and consequences (laws) that everyone has to follow is coercive. The sea change under socialism is that the exploited and oppressed are on the applying-end, not the receiving-end of the state. This means, “contradictions among the people”’ will be handled in the polar opposite way the capitalist state addresses the same issues. For instance, there is a wide array of known and, effective, alternatives to policing and prisons, which could be implemented on a mass scale and immediately to handle different contradictions. Embryonic examples of these are already observable under capitalism. These are quite marginal in scale at present but could be greatly expanded and improved with government support.

But to eliminate police and prisons — to eliminate the state — means eliminating antagonistic social contradictions. Abolishing the police is a constituent part of abolishing capitalism, and establishing communism is a process mediated by a socialist transition. Communism is premised on the advancement of the productive forces and the elimination of human want and poverty as well as the end of classes and thus class antagonisms. That lays the material foundation for the withering away of the state — the withering away of special armed bodies that rule over society. Problems in society, including “individual excesses” or personal violence against others, under communism can be addressed by society and by the community without need or recourse to a specialized armed police force and prisons. Moreover, the elimination of exploitation, poverty and want would eliminate the chief cause of ‘individual excess.”

9. As far as what can be done under capitalism, all of the promises to fundamentally transform the cops’ relationship with the oppressed and working class via administrative reforms, reorganizations, technical and sensitivity trainings, always end up selling an illusion. In particular, the state’s approach to rebellions, workers’ strikes, insurrections, and revolutionary organizations — things that challenge the power structure — will never be reformed because repression of these is their core function. But we support the fight for reforms while in the current capitalist system that curtail the scale of the capitalist state forces, that reduce their funding and that create additional obstacles to their everyday use of torture and violence. These reforms do not change the fundamental character of the police or prisons. In fact, even when reforms are won, agencies of the state usually ignore new prohibitions. They frequently ignore the new laws or find other ways to undermine them. Still, we support those reforms that put up roadblocks to everyday repression, and which therefore make it easier for working people to survive and give them tools to fight the state’s abuse politically and legally. We call for, for instance:  any reform that alleviates the suffering of prisoners; the immediate release of large classes of inmates in this country’s hyper-inflated and tortuous prison system; the end of three strikes and other grotesque sentencing guidelines; amending the 13th Amendment to eliminate the clauses that allow for slavery and “involuntary servitude” for people who are convicted; the end of qualified immunity for officers; the repeal of federal programs that  send military equipment to local police; the end of Broken Windows policing tactics, including stop-and-frisk and other police harassment tactics; the prohibition of no-knock entry, among other necessary reforms; reforms that make it harder for the police to obstruct free speech activity. This would include the elimination of sound permits and protest permits, limitations on the use of riot gear at protests; and the prohibitions of mass arrests for those engaged in free speech activity. (Such reforms were introduced for protests in Washington, D.C. because of civil liberties litigation).

The above list is not all-inclusive and many other important measures to curtail police presence have been proposed by community members and abolitionist-minded activists alike.

10. We support the demand of oppressed peoples for community control insofar as it represents a progressive yearning for self-determination, a way to create police forces separate from the oppressor state. But it must also be acknowledged from historical experience that every scheme to put the police under “civilian” or community control with hiring and firing powers — any measure to disrupt the chain of command of the capitalist state — has never been even partially won and implemented in the United States after many decades of organizing along these lines. The capitalist state will not accede by referendum or legislative reform in normal “peacetime” to liberated zones within its own metropolitan centers. There are examples of small liberated urban zones, as well as some universities, in other capitalist countries, where the state’s regular police forces cannot easily enter. But these were not won through legislative measures but through heightened clashes between classes. The desire for community control for oppressed people can be satisfied only through the overall struggle for political power and self-determination.

11. We affirm the demand to “Jail Killer Cops” as one of many necessary slogans in this struggle against police violence. The cry to “Jail Killer Cops” is a justified demand rooted in the centuries-long struggle against white supremacist impunity of the cops and lynch mobs who have stolen Black lives and were never punished. The desire for justice, and the outrage at the double standards for murder, were the driving sentiments of this nationwide rebellion and so many rebellions in decades past. More precisely, the capitalist state’s repeated refusal to prosecute racist killers — its instinctive protection of them — is what gave the rebellion such immediate resonance, breadth, and depth.

Those who are demanding punishment for racist killer cops are generally under no illusions about the nature of the police or the incarceration system and do not develop illusions about that system if the killer cops are charged with murder. Some police officers are now being charged with murder because of the people’s movement. This is a far cry from the full justice and social transformation that are needed but to refuse this limited retribution attainable under capitalism is to let murderous cops off free.

In the here and now, before a socialist revolution that smashes the capitalist state and empowers the oppressed and working class, the capitalist legal process unfolds with a series of binary choices: the killer cop will either be arrested or not arrested, charged severely or lightly, convicted or found innocent, and sentenced lightly or harshly. The vast majority of oppressed people in struggle, the backbone of any revolutionary movement, will demand at each step the cops receive the strongest punishment possible, and the cops will wage the most desperate struggle to avoid any form of accountability, punishment and consequences. The desire for justice and punishment represents a legitimate aspiration on the part of the exploited to power, to impose their will over the bosses’ racists cops and their reign of terror. The important thing about a demand is not how inherently revolutionary it is but whether it helps draw the masses of people into struggle with the class enemy. The state’s failure to meet those demands which the masses of people hold to be necessary and achievable is what can create a highly combustible, even revolutionary situation.

12. The task of revolutionary politics and agitation is to link the most immediate demand, that which is drawing people into the streets, with other slogans that deepen the movement’s revolutionary orientation and advance the struggle to the next stage. We combine the slogan of “Jail Racist Killer Cops” with other slogans of this nature that highlight the present injustice as a symptom of a racist, capitalist, and imperialist system. At different junctures, these have included “Stop the War on Black America,” “The People United Can Stop Racist Police Terror,” “Racism is the Disease — Revolution is the Cure.” The democratic demand for equal justice under the existing state must be linked to a revolutionary struggle to overthrow, smash, and replace that state.

India reports highest single day spike of 22,674 new COVID-19 cases, total nearing 850,000

India’s federal health ministry Sunday (July 12) morning reported 551 new deaths from COVID-19 and 28,637 new cases during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 22,674 and the total infections to 849,553.

This is said to be the highest single day spike in the number of fresh cases in the country so far.

On Saturday (July 11) morning the number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 820,916, and the death toll stood at 22,123.

According to ministry officials, so far 534,621 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.

“The number of active cases in the country right now is 292,258, according to the ministry.

The country has entered “Unlock 2.0” phase, though restrictions remain in full force inside the COVID-19 containment zones.

Last week the country’s civil aviation watchdog — the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced that commercial international flights to and from India shall remain suspended until July 31.

On July 9, the government of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s biggest state in terms of population, decided to impose a weekend lockdown from Friday night till Monday morning, to cut the chain of transmissions of COVID-19.

Iran says misaligned radar led to Ukrainian jet downing

Iran said that the misalignment of an air defense unit’s radar system was the key “human error” that led to the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January.

“A failure occurred due to a human error in following the procedure” for aligning the radar, causing a “107-degree error” in the system, the Iranian Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) said in a report late Saturday.

This error “initiated a hazard chain” that saw further mistakes committed in the minutes before the plane was shot down, said the CAO document, presented as a “factual report” and not as the final report on the accident investigation.

Flight 752, a Ukraine International Airlines jetliner, was struck by two missiles and crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s main airport on January 8, at a time of heightened US-Iranian tensions.

The Islamic republic admitted several days later that its forces accidentally shot down the Kiev-bound plane, killing all 176 people on board.

The majority of the passengers on the Boeing 737 were Iranians, with Canadians, Ukrainians, Afghans, Britons, and Swedes also aboard.

The CAO said that, despite the erroneous information available to the radar system operator on the aircraft’s trajectory, he could have identified it as an airliner, but instead there was a “wrong identification”.

The report also noted that the first of the two missiles launched at the aircraft was fired by a defense unit operator who had acted “without receiving any response from the Coordination Center” on which he depended.

The second missile was fired 30 seconds later, “by observing the continuity of (the) trajectory of the detected target,” the report added.

The CAO said there was a defect in the transmission to the defense unit’s coordination center of the data identified by the radar.

An Iranian general had said in January that many communications had been jammed that night.

Tehran’s air defenses had been on high alert at the time the jet was shot down in case the US retaliated against Iranian strikes hours earlier on American troops stationed in Iraq.

Those strikes were carried out in response to the killing of a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, in a US drone attack near Baghdad airport.

The aircraft tragedy sparked fierce reprobation in Iran, especially after it took three days for the armed forces to admit having shot down the plane “by accident” after a missile operator mistook it for an enemy projectile.

Ottowa and Kiev have demanded for months that Iran, which does not have the technical means to decode the black boxes, send them abroad so their contents can be analyzed.

In late June, France’s Accident Investigation Bureau (BEA) said Iran had “officially requested technical assistance” to retrieve the black box data.

Work on the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder “should begin on July 20,” according to the BEA.

In early July, Canada announced that it had reached an agreement in principle with Iran to launch negotiations on compensation for the families of foreign victims of the accident.

Palestine Betrayed

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had announced that the formal annexation of 30 per cent of the West Bank by Israel would take place on July 1.  However, this did not happen on that date though Netanyahu maintained the preparations for the annexation are on.  The illegal annexation moves emanated from the notorious “Peace to Prosperity” plan announced by President Trump on January 28 this year, with the Israeli prime minister beside him.  This atrocious plan amounts to the Jordan Valley of the West Bank and the lands on which the illegal Jewish settlements exist being annexed to Israel.  The plan also denies East Jerusalem being given to the Palestinian State as its capital and provides for some place outside Jerusalem as the alternative.  If this plan is put into operation, it will spell the end of any prospects for the Palestinian State and would be the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution.

The Palestinians were not part of the negotiations for this one-sided agreement, which was engineered by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a committed Zionist.  The Palestinian leadership had rejected the plan outright and declared that the Palestinian people would never accept such subjugation. 

The brazen support for Israeli expansionism got a boost when Trump had earlier recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and shifted the US Embassy there.  Since then, Netanyahu has been talking of annexing a major part of the West Bank and encouraging the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlements on occupied territories. Under the new plan, though the land would be absorbed into Israel, the Palestinian population living in these areas would not acquire the rights of being citizens of Israel.  They would be condemned to live as subjects or as second-class citizens.  The 23 per cent land owned by them in these areas would be open to be appropriated by the State.  This would convert Israel into a full-fledged apartheid State.

The annexation plan was met with worldwide opposition and international disapproval.  The United Nation’s Secretary General declared that any step of annexation would be illegal and contrary to international law.  All the major European countries – Germany, France, and UK – went on record against annexation of the West Bank.  So have Russia and China.

However, there is a glaring exception.  India, which is to assume a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, did not come out opposing the annexation.  On the contrary, when the plan was announced by Trump on January 28, the spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs responded by stating: “We urge the parties to engage with each other, including on the recent proposals put forward by the United States, and find an acceptable two-State solution”.

To ask Palestinians to consider a plan for their self-liquidation shows the degree to which India’s foreign policy has turned.  Under the current stewardship, foreign policy has become synonymous to aligning with US policy on all vital matters.

The reason why Netanyahu did not proceed with the formal annexation could be because of the domestic political situation.  Netanyahu is heading a unity government with the other main political party leader, Benny Gantz.  As per the deal arrived at, Gantz is to become the Prime Minister mid-term.  As the Deputy Prime Minister, Gantz opined that July 1 was not a sacred day for annexation. It should be delayed concentrating on the fight against the pandemic.  The other factor which Netanyahu could have kept in mind was the future of the American Presidency.  Netanyahu is completely reliant on Trump to push through his illegal project.  With the poll ratings showing Trump falling behind in the Presidential race, Netanyahu may have decided to play safe.

Though there has been no formal annexation, the situation on the ground is that step by step, the Palestinians are being further squeezed out of their lands and properties.  Farmers’ lands are being usurped to pave roads from settlements. Land theft is going on with settler raids supported by Israeli soldiers; old olive trees are being cut down.  Under the cover of the pandemic and the lockdown, dispossession and seizures are taking place.

Many of the Arab states are allied to the United States and they pay lip service to the Palestinian cause without taking any effective steps to support them.  It is only the worldwide solidarity movements with Palestine and the anti-imperialist forces who are extending support to the Palestinian people in these dire times.  In India too, the democratic and secular forces should strengthen their bonds of solidarity with the Palestinian people and demand that the Modi government reverse its pro-US-Israeli stance on Palestine.

Trump wears mask on camera for first time as he visits military hospital

U.S. President Donald Trump was seen wearing a mask while visiting a military hospital near Washington, D.C., on Saturday, the first time he did so on camera since the coronavirus pandemic broke out in the country.

“I’ll probably have a mask,” Trump told reporters ahead of his trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where he visited injured soldiers and medical workers tasked with containing the coronavirus.

“I think when you’re in a hospital especially in that particular setting, where you are talking to a lot of soldiers, people that in some cases just got off the operating table,” the president said. “I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask. I’ve never been against masks, but I do believe they have a time and a place.”

Trump has been refusing to wear a mask himself since the pandemic broke out, citing his good health and frequent negative tests for the virus. “I have no problem with a mask. I don’t think you need one when you’re tested all the time, everybody around you is tested, you’re quite a distance,” he said on Thursday.

Even Republican lawmakers have advised him to do so publicly so as to curb the spread of the contagion.

Regretting the fact that the “simple lifesaving practice” of wearing a mask has been politicized to showcase whether one supports Trump or not, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said on June 30 that he had “suggested the president should occasionally wear a mask even though there are not many occasions when it is necessary for him to do so.”

Trump wore a mask behind the scene in late May during a visit to a Ford factory in Michigan. “I did wear. I had one on before,” he told reporters on camera at the plant when asked why he decided not to wear a mask.

“But I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump said, showing the reporters a mask with a presidential seal on it that he said was the one he wore.

As the latest 1 million cases in the United States were added over merely 28 days, more than 20 states in the country have now mandated wearing face coverings in public, either statewide or limited to counties where the case rate has surpassed government thresholds.

Cases in the United States jumped by a staggering record of 71,389 Saturday from the previous day, according to Bloomberg News. The total number of infections in the country is approaching 3,240,000 Saturday afternoon, with death toll topping 134,000, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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