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Related Categories: U.S. | Police State & Prisons
Time to end the panic mode
by Chris Hedges,Werner Rugemer &Wolfgang Pomrehn
Monday Jul 5th, 2021 9:04 AM
Tyrannies reverse the rule of law. They turn law into an instrument of injustice. They cloak their crimes in false legality. They use the outward decorum of courts and trials to disguise their criminality. People like Julian who reveal this criminality and show it to the public are dangerous. For without the pretense of legality, tyranny loses credibility.
Julian Assange and the collapse of the rule of law
by Chris Hedges
[This article published on 6/23/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=73603.]

A society that prevents truth from being spoken abolishes the possibility of living in justice.

That is why we are here tonight. Yes, all of us who know and admire Julian lament his long suffering and the suffering of his family. Yes, we demand that there be an end to the many injustices that have been visited upon him. Yes, we honor him for his courage and probity. But the fight for Julian's freedom has always been about far more than the persecution of an editor. It is the most important fight for press freedom of our time. And if we lose this fight, it would be devastating, not just for Julian and his family, but for us.

Tyrannies reverse the rule of law. They turn law into an instrument of injustice. They cloak their crimes in false legality. They use the outward decorum of courts and trials to disguise their criminality. People like Julian who reveal this criminality and show it to the public are dangerous. For without the pretense of legality, tyranny loses credibility. Then all that remains in its arsenal is fear, coercion and violence.

The long campaign against Julian and WikiLeaks reveals, as if through a window, the collapse of the rule of law, the rise of what political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of "inverted totalitarianism," a form of totalitarianism that clings to the fictions of the old capitalist democracy, including its institutions, iconography, patriotic symbols and rhetoric, but which at its core has surrendered total control to the dictates of global corporations.

I was present in the London courtroom when Julian was tried by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, an incarnation of the Queen of Hearts from "Alice in Wonderland." It was a legal farce. Imprisoning Julian lacked any legal basis. Charging him, an Australian citizen, under the U.S. Espionage Act lacked any legal basis. The CIA spied on Julian at the embassy (a trial is currently underway in Madrid; translator's note) and used the Spanish company UC Global, which had the task of securing the embassy, to do so. The spying went so far that confidential conversations between Julian and his lawyers were recorded as they discussed his defense. That fact alone invalidated the trial. Julian is being held in a maximum security prison so that, according to the testimony of Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the state can continue the degrading abuse and torture that the state hopes will lead to his mental, if not physical, disintegration.

As Craig Murray has so eloquently documented, the U.S. government directed the prosecutor, James Lewis, in London. Lewis then passed these instructions on to Baraitser. Baraitser adopted them as her legal decision. It was a judicial pantomime. Lewis and the judge insisted that they were not trying to criminalize journalists and silence the press, while they were busily creating the legal framework to do just that - criminalize journalists and silence the press. That is why the court pulled out all the stops to limit access to the courtroom to a handful of observers, making it difficult and at times impossible to follow the trial online. It was a shabby show trial, not an example of the best English jurisprudence, but of the Lubyanka (Soviet intelligence prison in Moscow where political prisoners were tortured and often sentenced to death; translator's note).

I know that many of us here would like to see ourselves as radicals, perhaps even revolutionaries. But, what we are calling for here is actually conservative on the political spectrum: it is about restoring the rule of law. Simple and basic. There should be nothing seditious about that in a functioning democracy. But to live by the principle of truth in a despotic system is the ultimate act of foolhardy resistance. This truth strikes fear into the hearts of the powerful.

The architects of imperialism, the warlords, the corporate-controlled legislature, judiciary and executive, and their servile courtiers in the media, are illegitimate. Those who speak this simple truth are relegated to the margins of the media landscape. Those who prove this truth, as Julian, Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond and Edward Snowden have done by giving us a glimpse into the hidden mechanisms of power, are hounded and persecuted.

Shortly after WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Diary in October 2010, documenting numerous U.S. war crimes-including video footage of the shooting of two Reuters journalists and ten other unarmed civilians in the video "Collateral Murder" (which had already been released on 5. April 2010; translator's note), the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the cover-up of thousands of civilian deaths, and the murder of nearly 700 civilians who had gotten too close to U.S. checkpoints - towering civil rights advocates Len Weinglass and my good friend Michael Ratner, whom I would later accompany to meet Julian at the Ecuadorian Embassy, met with Julian at a London apartment. Julian's personal bank cards had been blocked. Three encrypted laptops containing documents on U.S. war crimes had disappeared from his luggage on the way to London. Swedish police were in the process, Ratner warned, of faking a case against Julian in order to extradite him to the United States.

"WikiLeaks and you personally are in for a legal and political fight," Weinglass told Assange. "As we have known since the Pentagon Papers case, the U.S. government does not like the truth to come out. It also doesn't like to be shamed. Whether it's Nixon or Bush or Obama, whether it's Republican or Democrat in the White House. The U.S. government will go to any lengths to keep you from revealing its ugly secrets to the public. And if they have to destroy you and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (which guarantees, among other things, freedom of speech and freedom of the press; translator's note) to do it, they are willing to do it. We are convinced that they will go after WikiLeaks and you, Julian, as editor."

"What are they after me for?" asked Julian.

"For espionage," Weinglass continued. "They're going to charge Bradley Manning [that was Chelsea's name at the time] with treason under the Espionage Act of 1917. We don't think that's applicable here because Manning is a whistleblower, not a spy. And we also don't think it's applicable to you because you're a publisher. But they are going to try to force Manning to implicate you as a collaborator.

"What are they after me for?" asked Julian.
That's the question.

They weren't after Julian for his vices, but for his virtues.
They were after Julian because he brought to light more than 15,000 unrecorded deaths among Iraqi civilians;

because he exposed the torture and abuse of some 800 men and boys
between the ages of 14 and 89 at Guantanamo;

because he revealed that in 2009, Hillary Clinton hired U.S. diplomats to spy on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and other U.N. officials from China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom, obtaining DNA, iris scans, fingerprints and personal passwords - part of large-scale illegal surveillance that included wiretapping U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in the weeks before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003;
because he revealed that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the CIA orchestrated the military coup in Honduras in June 2009 that overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya and replaced him with a military regime as murderous as it was corrupt;

because he has brought to light that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and General David Petraeus waged a war in Iraq that is defined under post-Nuremberg laws as a criminal war of aggression, a war crime; that they authorized hundreds of targeted killings, including those of U.S. citizens in Yemen; and that they secretly launched missile, bomb, and drone attacks on Yemen that killed scores of civilians;

because he revealed that Goldman Sachs paid $657,000 to Hillary Clinton for speeches, a sum so large that it can only be considered a bribe, and that Clinton privately assured corporate leaders to do what they wanted while promising the public financial regulation and reform;
because he exposed the internal campaign to discredit and destroy British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party;

because he exposed how hacking tools used by the CIA and NSA enable blanket government surveillance of our TVs, computers, smartphones, and anti-virus software, allowing the government to record and store our conversations, pictures, and private text messages even from encrypted apps.

Julian has brought the truth to light. He exposed it again and again until there was no doubt that illegal activity, corruption and mendacity are rampant among the global ruling elite. And because he revealed these truths, they went after Julian, just as they went after anyone who dared to tear the veil of power. "The red Rosa now also disappeared ..." wrote Bertold Brecht after the German socialist Rosa Luxemburg was murdered. "Because she told the truth to the poor, they chased the rich out of the world."

We have witnessed a corporate coup where the poor and working men and women are condemned to unemployment and starvation, where state action is limited to warfare, financial speculation and internal surveillance, where even habeas corpus protections no longer exist, where we as citizens are mere commodities for corporate power systems to use, fleece and discard.

To refuse to fight back, to help the weak, oppressed and suffering, to save the planet from ecocide, to denounce the national and international crimes of the ruling class, to demand justice, to live in truth, is to bear the mark of Cain. Those in power must feel our wrath, and this means constant acts of mass civil disobedience, it means constant acts of social and political disruption. Because this organized power from below is the only power that will save us, and the only power that will liberate Julian. Politics is a game of fear. It is our moral and civic duty to instill great fear in the powerful.

The criminal ruling class holds us all in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It has abolished the rule of law. It obfuscates and distorts the truth. It strives to consolidate its obscene wealth and power. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically of course, I say, "Off with their heads!"

Chris Hedges is a former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a columnist for the Scheerpost. He is the author of several books, including "America: The Farewell Tour," "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America," and "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."
_______________________________________________________

Dying for an iPhone
by Chris Hedges
[This article published on 6/20/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=73499.]
While the Western press is working off gruesome stories of the Uighur camps in China's Xinjiang province - and thus cultivating the image of China as the enemy - Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges is turning his gaze to a phenomenon that also, but not only, takes place in China, millions and millions of times a day: the exploitation of workers. Hedges says, "The suffering of the working class in and outside the United States is ignored by our mass media. And yet it is one of the most important human rights issues of our time.

The working class is increasingly disenfranchised, prevented from forming unions, paid starvation wages, subjected to wage theft, constantly monitored and terminated for trifles, exposed to dangerous carcinogens, forced to work overtime, punished and abandoned when old and sick. Workers here and abroad have become replaceable cogs for oligarchic entrepreneurs who wallow in obscene personal wealth, dwarfing the worst excesses of robber barons.

In swanky liberal circles, according to Noam Chomsky, there are worthy and unworthy victims. Nancy Pelosi has called on world leaders not to attend the Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing in February. She cites a "genocide" perpetrated by the Chinese government against the Uighur minority as the reason. New York Times columnist Nick Kristof prayed down a list of human rights abuses under Chinese leader Xi Jinping's watch. He wrote: "[Xi] is eroding the freedom of Hong Kong, jailing lawyers and journalists, taking Canadian hostages, threatening Taiwan, and, worst of all, watching over crimes against humanity in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to quite a few Muslim minorities."
Not a word about the millions of workers in China who are treated little better than serfs. They live apart from their families, including their children, housed in overcrowded company dormitories, for which rent is deducted from their salaries, next to factories that produce around the clock, often goods for U.S. corporations. Workers are mistreated, exploited and sickened by exposure to chemicals and toxins such as aluminum dust.

The suffering of the working class in and outside the United States is ignored by our corporate-owned media just as the suffering of Palestinians is ignored. And yet this is one of the most important human rights issues of our time. Because workers, once empowered, can fight off other human rights abuses. Unless workers organize, here and in countries like China, and gain basic rights, as well as wages that cover their cost of living, a global bondage will be cemented that traps workers in the horrific conditions described by Friedrich Engels in his 1845 book, The Condition of the Working Class in England, or Émile Zola in his 1885 masterpiece, Germinal.

As long as China can pay slave wages, it is impossible to raise wages elsewhere. Any trade agreement must include the right of workers to organize, or all of Joe Biden's promises to rebuild the American middle class are a lie.
Between 2001 and 2011, 2.7 million manufacturing jobs were lost to China. None of those are coming back when workers are trapped in corporate bondage in China and other countries that allow companies to exploit the workforce and skirt basic environmental regulations and labor laws.
And while we chide China for its labor policies, the United States has crushed its own union movement, allowed its companies to move production overseas to take advantage of production models there, depressed wages, passed anti-worker right-to-work laws, and destroyed regulations that once protected workers. The war on workers is not a Chinese phenomenon. It is a global one. And U.S. companies are complicit in it. Apple has 46 percent of its suppliers in China. Walmart has 80 percent of its suppliers in China. Amazon has 63 percent of its suppliers in China.
The largest U.S. companies are full partners in the exploitation of Chinese labor and in having abandoned and impoverished the American working class. U.S. companies and Chinese manufacturers have ensured that millions of Chinese workers have been stuffed into factories in the midst of a global pandemic. Their health doesn't matter. Apple's profits more than doubled last quarter to $23.6 billion. Its revenues grew 54 percent to $89.6 billion, meaning Apple sold an average of more than $1 billion worth of goods a day. Nothing will change for workers here or in China until these companies are held accountable. Economic justice is global or it doesn't exist.
Workers in Chinese industrial centers - self-contained company towns of up to half a million people - drive the huge profits of two of the world's most powerful companies: Foxconn, the world's largest provider of electronics manufacturing services, and Apple, with a market value of $2 trillion. Foxconn's biggest customer is Apple, but the company also manufactures for Alphabet (formerly Google), Amazon - which owns more than 400 trademarks - Blackberry, Cisco, Dell, Fujitsu, GE, HP, IBM, Intel, LG, Microsoft, Nintendo, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, as well as leading Chinese companies including Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE and Xiaomi. Foxconn assembles iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macs, televisions, X-Boxes, PlayStations, Wii Us, Kindles, printers and numerous other digital devices...
Jenny Chan, Mark Selden, and Pun Ngai spent ten years undercover at Foxconn's largest manufacturing sites in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai, Kunshan, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin, Langfang, Taiyuan, and Wuhan for their book, Dying for an iPhone: Apple, Foxconn, and The Lives of China's Workers. What they describe in it is an Orwellian dystopia, one in which global corporations have perfected techniques for a disempowered workforce. These gigantic worker cities are basically punitive labor colonies. Yes, you can leave them, but anyone who incurs the wrath of the bosses, especially by voicing an opinion or trying to organize, is blacklisted for life in China's archipelago of industrial centers, marginalized or often even jailed.
Workers live under constant surveillance. They are controlled by company security units. They sleep in separate male and female dormitories with eight or more people in a room. The multi-story dormitories have bars on the windows and nets underneath to stop the series of worker suicides that hit these factory towns a few years ago.
"The workplace and living area are compressed to support round-the-clock high-speed production," the authors write. "The dormitory holds a massive number of migrant workers, who are housed there without the care and love of a family. Whether single or married, the worker is assigned a one-person bunk bed. "Privacy" consists only of one's own bed behind a homemade curtain with sparse shared living space."
The workers, who earn about two U.S. dollars an hour and an average of $390 a month, receive their wages on payroll debit cards, which can only be used to make purchases at company-owned stores. The debit card allows a worker to deposit, withdraw and transfer money at ATMs on Foxconn facilities.
Managers and foremen prohibit conversations in the assembly area, where workers work ten- or twelve-hour shifts in a 24-hour operation. Workers are reprimanded if they work "too slowly" on the assembly line. They are penalized if they produce defective products. If they commit a misdemeanor, workers are often forced to stay after their shift ends. The worker who has violated rules must stand in front of his or her colleagues and read a statement of self-criticism. Workers who have a "D" for "unsatisfactory performance" on their evaluation are fired. Workers have a day off every two weeks or two days of rest per month. They have flexibility to work day and night shifts.
The authors describe the daily routine of a worker who enters the factory at seven in the morning with hundreds of thousands of other Foxconn employees. Each person, who incidentally is not allowed to bring electrical equipment into the factory building, is checked using a facial recognition system to confirm their identity.
People stream in and out for over an hour. Workers come off the night shift, cross the pedestrian bridge and spill into the shopping malls and street markets that have sprung up around the factory. Day shift workers cross the same bridge in the opposite direction to work. From the moment they step through the factory gate, workers are covered by a security system more intrusive than any in neighboring smaller electronics factories. "Foxconn has its own security service, just like a state has an army. Workers go through several electronic gates and special security zones before they get to their factory floors, where they start work.
Once inside, the authors write, they must endure a familiar ritual:
At the start of the shift, managers call out, "How are you?" and workers must respond by shouting in unison, "Good! Very good! Very, very good!" This drill reportedly promotes worker discipline. A laser-soldering worker reported, "A whistle blows three times before the shift. At the first whistle, we have to stand up and put our chairs down neatly. At the second whistle, we get ready for work and put on work gloves and such. At the third whistle, we sit down and start working." During working hours, "no talking, no laughing, no eating, no sleeping" is the most important rule in the factory. Any behavior that disrupts discipline is punished. "Anyone who goes to the bathroom for more than ten minutes will earn a verbal warning, and anyone who chats during work will earn a written warning," explained a foreman.
The work is exhausting, stressful and monotonous. An iPhone consists of more than a hundred individual parts. "Each worker," the authors write, "specializes in one task and repeats the same movements at high speed-every hour, day in and day out, for ten or more hours on many workdays, for months on end."
One woman interviewed in the book described her life on the assembly line this way:
"I'm a cog in a workplace where parts are visually inspected. When the soldering oven next door delivers smartphone motherboards, both my hands reach out to take the motherboard, then my head starts to move from left to right, my eyes move from the left side of the motherboard to the right side, and then stare from top to bottom, uninterrupted, and if something is wrong, I call out, and another human part similar to me comes running, asks what caused the error, and fixes it. I repeat the same task thousands of times a day. My brain rusts."
The work also poses dangers. The polishing machine emits aluminum dust as it grinds down the casings. This dust gets into the eyes and triggers irritation and tiny tears. Workers suffer respiratory problems, sore throats and chronic coughs. "Microscopic aluminum dust covers the workers' faces and clothing," the authors write. "One worker describes the situation this way: 'I breathe in aluminum dust like a vacuum cleaner at Foxconn.' Since the windows of the factory floor were tightly closed, workers felt like they were suffocating.'"
[...] Workers have to clean one thousand iPhone touchscreens per shift. For years, they used the chemical n-hexane, which evaporates faster than industrial alcohol. Those exposed to n-hexane for extended periods of time suffer damage to peripheral nerves, leading to painful muscle spasms, headaches, uncontrollable tremors, clouded vision and difficulty walking. It should only be used in well-ventilated areas and workers must wear respirators. However, thousands of Foxconn workers applied n-hexane in sealed rooms without fans and became ill. That eventually led to the substance's ban.
These sprawling industrial facilities also dump huge amounts of heavy metals and dirty water into rivers and groundwater. Rivers adjacent to the plants are black with sewage and full of plastic waste. Workers complain that drinking water is discolored and stinks.

The U.S. got rid of its workers in the 1990s as part of de-industrialization. China did the same, dissolving socialism in favor of state-controlled capitalism. State and collective sector jobs in China fell from 76 percent in 1995 to 27 percent in 2005. Millions and millions of laid-off workers have had to fight for jobs with companies like Foxconn. But even those jobs are now threatened, in part because of automation that has seen workers on assembly lines replaced by robots that can spray, weld, press, polish, perform quality checks and assemble circuit boards. Foxconn has installed more than 40,000 industrial robots in its factories, along with hundreds of thousands of other automated machines.

But over the past decade, the authors write, "Foxconn's biggest change has not been in replacing workers with robots, but in replacing full-time employees with a growing number of student interns and temporary workers."

These workers, part of the "gig economy" known in the U.S., enjoy even less job security than full-time employees. As many as 150,000 high school-age vocational students are employed in Foxconn factories. They receive the minimum wage but are not eligible for the 400 yuan per month qualification subsidy, even if they pass the probationary period. Foxconn is also not required to register them with social security.

The bosses of these corporate giants often imitate the behavior of despots, not only exercising total control over every aspect of their workers' lives, but also spreading folksy wisdom to the masses. They are often treated like gurus by sycophantic media. They are asked to comment on a range of social, economic, political and cultural issues - as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos do. Their immense wealth gives them the status of sages in our mammon-worshipping society.

Terry Gou, the founder and chief executive of Foxconn, has hung a list of slogans and aphorisms next to his portraits. They adorn the walls of his factories. Workers must copy passages from "Gou's quotes." While Mao Zedong called for class struggle and rebellion, Gou demands conformity and blind obedience. "Growth, thy name is suffering," is one of his sayings. Wall Street Journal reporter Jason Dean characterized Gao as a "warlord" in a 2007 interview with Gou, noting that "he wears a pearl bracelet he received at a temple dedicated to Genghis Khan, the 13th-century Mongol conqueror he calls his personal hero."
"A harsh environment is good," reads one of Gou's quotes.
"Achieve goals or the sun will stop rising.
"Achieve goals or the sun will stop rising.
Value efficiency in every minute, every second.
Execution combines speed, accuracy and precision."
Its more than one million employees, as is the case at Amazon and other large corporations, are required to attend mandatory company meetings where they learn to abide by company rules, faithfully serve the company's interests and, as the authors note, strive for the "individualistic model of success." Those who follow the rules, the workers are told, will be rewarded. Those who do not will be punished or banished.
Workers in these global sweatshops organize underground and protest. In 1993, the first year for which official data are available, there were 8,700 incidents of labor unrest in China and up to 32,000 in 1999, the authors write. "The number continued to increase by more than 20 percent per year between 2000 and 2003. In 2005, the official record recorded 87,000 cases, rising to 127,000 in 2008 during the global recession - the last time China's Ministry of Public Security released figures."
In Hubei's East Lake High-Tech Development Zone, known as Optics Valley, 150 Foxconn workers threatened to jump off the factory roof and commit mass suicide on Jan. 3, 2012, if managers refused to meet their demands. This included protests against forced relocations to the cities of other factories and a dispute over wages.
Strikes, protests, and work stoppages that occur now are state secrets, but past statistics seem to indicate that they are increasing. Strikes are usually broken up quickly and brutally by corporate security and police, strike leaders fired and often imprisoned.
We will not save ourselves by the perverse individualism sold to us by our corporate overlords and compliant mass media that promotes our advancement at the expense of others. We will save ourselves by working in solidarity with workers inside and outside the United States. This collective power is our only hope. Amazon workers at the Hulu Garments factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and the Global Garments factory in Chittagong, Bangladesh, recently led a global day of action to get Amazon to pay fair wages to all workers, no matter where they live. We need to be guided by this. Otherwise, workers in one country will be pitted against workers in another. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were right. Workers of all countries, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

____________________________________________

It's time to end panic mode
By Werner Rügemer
[This article published on June 16, 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=73386.]

Infection numbers are sharply declining, alarmism is on pause. Time to take a deep breath and rationally debate the mistakes of the Corona policy and take stock of the damage it has caused. This attempt is made in a public statement signed by numerous well-known people who could be assigned to the left-wing political spectrum - including regular NachDenkSeiten guest author Werner Rügemer. The NachDenkSeiten would like to present this statement to its readers, as it offers a useful basis for constructive debate.

Public Statement on Corona Policy: Permanent Disaster and Enormous Damage - Necessary Consequences
SARS-COV-2 is a novel virus that is serious and can cause severe illness and death in people with weakened immune systems and pre-existing conditions depending on work, social and housing conditions. However, the federal government's pandemic measures, some of which are scientifically controversial and some of which cannot be justified, are causing enormous damage: to the health of the population, especially children and young people, to the health care system itself, to precarious dependent employees and solo self-employed people, to single parents, to isolated elderly people, to the economy.

This declaration calls for the initiation of a public discussion in which the measures taken so far by the federal government and their consequences - also with a view to possible further waves or any new pandemics - are objectively reviewed and conclusions drawn for the future. Notwithstanding some differences on individual points, the undersigned want to promote this open and public discussion and provide a possible basis for it. We are open to corrections. It is time to end panic mode. Let's work together to assess the consequences of the Corona crisis and explore needed changes.

I. Public health - systematic failures and lack of preparation.
The definition of the World Health Organization (WHO) "Health is the state of comprehensive, physical, mental and social well-being" is a binding human right for all, also for Germany, through the UN Social Covenant of 1966. The organization of both the public and private health care systems must be based on this. This also applies to social insurance, especially health insurance, and to jobs in the health care system itself, as well as in public administration and private companies.

The federal and state governments have placed the health care system - hospitals, nursing homes, services, insurance companies - at the mercy of the interests of private investors. The result has been the savage downsizing and underpayment of health care staff and the outsourcing of medical services to low-wage firms, even in flagship institutions such as the Charité hospital.

These changes in the health care system, in addition to misjudgments and wrong decisions during the pandemic, have had serious negative consequences.

Examples of undesirable developments
Pandemic prevention: government negligently failed to take precautions

In 2013, the WHO called for national preparations for the next pandemics because of an expected new Sars-Corona virus. The Bundestag adopted specific precautionary measures in the form of the pandemic risk analysis (Bundestag printed paper 17/12051, Jan. 3, 2013): Masks, protective suits, disinfectants, treatment capacities. Because the federal government failed to implement precautions, even the simplest and cheapest means of protection have been lacking since the beginning of the pandemic, even for medical staff.

Flat rate per case promotes intensive care ventilation
In no other country were so many infected people treated with intensive care as in Germany. The flat rate per case provides hospitals with higher revenues through intensive care ventilation. Hospitals that developed alternative treatments to intensive care ventilation, e.g. those in Moers or Havelhöhe, were able to significantly reduce the mortality rate and shorten the length of stay. Health Minister Spahn and NRW Minister President Laschet were there, praised the results, but did nothing to promote these alternative treatments. The German government has rejected funding for further trials.

Intensive care beds in short supply - really?
Germany has a high level of intensive care beds throughout Europe. Nevertheless, the government justifies the tightened lockdown by avoiding triage in intensive care units. However, the shortage of beds resulted on the one hand, at least initially, from the rapid admission of Covid 19 patients to artificial ventilation; on the other hand, from a lack of staff who were completely overworked and therefore increasingly quitting. Also, additionally equipped intensive care beds were partly not usable due to lack of staff.

Hospitals closed before and even during pandemic
Since 1998, a quarter of all hospital beds have been cut. Instead of expanding treatment options, more than 20 hospitals have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic. When Health Minister Spahn had his Secretary of State claim in the Bundestag in January 2021 that "The federal government has no knowledge of hospital closures in the pandemic year 2020," this was either deliberately untruthful or the ministry has no idea what is happening in its area.

Damage to health due to failure to provide treatment during Corona crisis
According to the Hospital Payment System Institute, 2.4 million fewer treatments and surgeries were billed in the first pandemic year than the year before. Patients affected include those with cancer, heart disease, kidney washes, tumors and amputations. However, physicians had to allocate the necessary capacity for this to fight the pandemic. The same applies to postponed and omitted preventive examinations. Quite a few sick people avoided visiting doctors' offices out of panic about the risk of infection. The resulting deaths and long-term consequences have not yet been recorded, but this is urgently needed.

Poor hygiene in German hospitals
According to the statistics of the Robert Koch Institute, 400,000 - 600,000 patients are infected with multi-resistant germs in hospitals every year, and up to 20,000 people die as a result. The virologists and physicians called in by the government, such as Prof. Drosten/Charité, RKI President Prof. Wieler and Prof. Cichutek/President Paul Ehrlich Institute, did not initiate measures to reduce these high preventable death rates, either before or during the pandemic.

II. government measures violate medical rules and promote uncertainty and fear through lack of transparency
Fact: More than 90 percent of those who test positive for the virus overcome the infection without any medical help. Only a minority of those infected show typical corona disease symptoms, some of them truly threatening. Instead of making this transparent and working towards a scientifically balanced presentation of the corona disease, the government and the leading media pursue the strategy of enforcing the adopted corona measures with the help of fear-mongering and alarmism.

In doing so, the federal government and federal agencies are violating established medical rules and standards. Their anti-corona measures are based on criteria that in many cases have no sufficient scientific basis in epidemiological, virological and medical facts and findings. It adopted the view of a few epidemiologists, this dominated over that of many other specialists, lawyers and psychologists.

Important data were negligently or deliberately not collected - in particular, regularly repeated mass testing of fixed representatively selected population samples.

Examples of rule violations and panic generation:
PCR testing: inappropriate and dramatizing.

The RKI declares any positive PCR test to be a Covid 19 case, i.e., evidence of disease. In November 2020, a group of 22 internationally renowned experts presented an expert opinion on the PCR test in the journal Eurosurveillance. According to this, the PCR test is completely unsuitable as a diagnostic tool because it is not able to measure the respective viral load, nor can it determine whether the mRNA snippet found is capable of replication or not. Only if it is capable of replication, however, is there a risk of infection and serious illness. Moreover, since it also responds to previous infections and low concentrations of viral genetic material, a disproportionate number of false-positive results are displayed. Nevertheless, the PCR test is adhered to. In this way, incidence values are manipulated.

Instead of determining the exact cause of death: scaremongering
According to current medical guidelines, when "determining the cause of death," a "four-link causal chain" must be given to establish the hierarchy of causes of death. From this, vital conclusions are drawn for the treatment of sick patients. But right at the beginning of the pandemic, the RKI warned against conducting forensic medical examinations of dead people who tested covid-positive. It practiced equating those who died "on or with corona." Although epidemiologically unjustifiable, RKI President Wieler stipulated, "In our country, someone is considered a Corona death if he or she has been found to be infected with Corona."

How is it that a governmental apparatus does not even want to distinguish between those who died from or with the virus? It would be easy to check a representative group of - let's say - a thousand "Corona dead" by autopsy, which of them really died from the Corona virus and not from a previous disease? Why do such representative examinations not take place?

The highest risk group neglected: old people's homes and nursing homes

The highest mortality rate, as in all Western states, was in the predominantly privatized nursing and retirement homes. "The median age of those who died with or from Sars-Cov-2 is 84 years, which is more than the average life expectancy," said Prof. Detlev Krüger, director of the Institute of Virology at Charité until 2016. Yet this highest-risk group has long been neglected, tested far too late, and instead isolated in their rooms and wards, with contact with next of kin prohibited for weeks. Despite widespread nursing shortages, no additional treatment capacity was created. Many deaths here could have been avoided by earlier action.

Sudden realization of death after vaccination: pre-existing conditions are to blame

There has been no transparent and complete documentation of all vaccinations to record side effects and sequelae. When it became known that some elderly people died after vaccination, the Paul Ehrlich Institute abruptly stated, without empirical justification, that many had died from their "multiple pre-existing conditions." Thus, the people had died after, but not because of the vaccination. Here suddenly pre-existing diseases were brought into the field, while in the deaths "at and with Corona" pre-existing diseases are not considered and not determined. Why are double standards being applied here?

As the WHO points out, the risk of infection is particularly high for people who are disadvantaged in terms of social, housing and employment. Nevertheless, the measures initially did not take this into account at all and still do not take it into account to any significant extent. German politicians and virologists were surprised when precariously employed people in the low-wage sector or Hartz IV recipients living in close quarters tested positive particularly frequently and thousands of employees suddenly became infected in the slaughterhouses of Tönnies, Vion, Danisch Crown and others. The Corona crisis thus makes clear the negative consequences of the dismantling of state supervision of occupational diseases and occupational health protection under the labor ministers Scholz and von der Leyen.

Child welfare violated on a massive scale
Although numerous studies prove that the infection rate and infectivity of children and adolescents is extremely low, nationwide school closures have been ordered. Home schooling has been shown to reinforce socially determined learning inequities. In combination with home offices, it often means sickening overload for all family members involved. In many families, important prerequisites are missing: Equipment, quiet place, supervision. The number of school dropouts has already doubled in the pandemic. The consequences are particularly glaring in the multiplication of depression and anxiety disorders among children and adolescents that has been demonstrated for the lockdown period.

III. Orientation of the measures toward large private companies and their profits
The politically imposed measures primarily serve to support large corporations, including polluting ones. These are exempted from pandemic measures, protected from the consequences of crises and given massive financial support. In contrast, small businesses, service providers (retail, hotels and restaurants), and the entire cultural and educational sectors are subjected to massive restrictions. There is an extremely unequal distribution of the psychological, social and financial consequential costs of overcoming the crisis: Wage earners, the solo self-employed and their families are suffering extreme economic losses in some cases. At the same time, the economy has been restructured in favor of a few big profiteers.

Examples:
State support from the 600 billion euro Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) is given on a large scale to corporations, even those with tax evasion schemes, as well as environmentally harmful companies, such as Lufthansa or manufacturers of cars with gasoline engines. The biggest beneficiaries of the lockdowns were U.S. digital corporations, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Zoom, which benefited directly from the closure of large parts of the retail sector. Large stock corporations, which were able to minimize their losses through government-funded short-time work, paid out high dividends to their shareholders during the crisis in some cases (e.g. Daimler). The Corona measures led to the intensification of concentration processes in the German economy, especially in favor of digital monopolists.

In contrast, hundreds of thousands of pending insolvencies, especially among solo self-employed workers in the cultural sector, retail and gastronomy, are merely being postponed.

For employees, short-time allowances, as important as they are, mean reduced earned income. Precarious and temporary workers do not even receive short-time allowances.

Investors are allowed to further increase rents and prices for apartments. Rent payments that were deferred during the crisis to promote the company's image are now being collected again.

Companies are exempt from the Infection Protection Act: The SARS CoV-2 occupational health and safety rule, which was also watered down by the business lobby, has only belatedly applied to them since Aug. 20, 2020. Contrary to the alleged complete lockdown, the vast majority of the approximately 45 million dependent employees continued to work regularly in companies: In the "tightened" second lockdown since January 2021, at least 34 million were.

The now mandated requirement for companies to provide testing is not subject to sustained government control. In factories, FFP2 masks are often worn without the mandatory breaks. Companies such as Amazon deduct from workers' hours the breaks mandated for FFP2 masks.

Vaccine manufacturers, who have been heavily subsidized with public funds, are exempted from liability for adverse and secondary effects by the German government and the European Commission.

At the same time, research on Covid-19 drugs is criminally neglected. German companies working on the development of drugs to treat Covid 19, i.e. directly life-saving, have hardly been supported, in contrast to vaccine developers.

IV. Dismantling of democratic structures and the violation of fundamental rights and international law
New definition of pandemics under U.S. pressure: In 2009, the WHO, under the influence of its main funders - the U.S. and the private Gates Foundation - finally changed the definition of pandemics significantly. The occasion was the "swine flu," which, although very mild, was nevertheless classified as a pandemic. The previous criterion for a pandemic, namely an "enormous number of deaths and illness," was deleted without replacement. On this questionable basis, civil liberties have been radically restricted across the board as never before in the history of the Federal Republic.

In particular, the passage on the "epidemic situation of national significance" permits radical encroachments on fundamental rights: The freedom lockdown massively interferes with the freedom of movement, the freedom of assembly and demonstration, and the inviolability of the home. It allows contact bans to extend into the private sphere of families and nursing homes, a kind of house arrest for the population, up to and including nighttime curfews, and it permits the suspension of freedom of trade and the prohibition of professional activity.

The considerable restrictions were justified on the grounds of the fundamental right to physical integrity - undoubtedly a serious right, but one that nevertheless does not automatically take absolute precedence over all others. This is precisely where a public debate on proportionality, appropriateness and reasonableness should have been allowed. Instead, public life has been reduced to the criterion of transmission risk, and individuals have been demagogically portrayed as endangering their fellow human beings.

Protests against it have been largely made impossible, parliament and the opposition have allowed themselves to be disempowered by the federal government, and the leading media remain in their accustomed proximity to the executive. Lurking aggressiveness determines the public mood. Reasoned doubt, even artistic statements such as satire, are massively attacked and often labeled as right-wing or even anti-Semitic. Critical voices are sweepingly and arbitrarily defamed as "corona deniers," "lateral thinkers" and "conspiracy theorists," without addressing their arguments.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution blames "alternative platforms" for "fomenting political alienation in Germany," monitors them, and thus prevents objective public debate. Blogs are blocked for allegedly "violating journalistic due diligence," without applying the same proper standard to all major public and private media. By building such authoritarian surveillance practices, the democratic substance of our country is being eroded.

At the same time, the German government, in conjunction with the EU, is elaborately fomenting enemy images, especially against Russia and China, against the will of the vast majority of the population. In order to conceal geopolitical power interests, human rights are being used as a pretext in accordance with the tried and tested practices of the Cold War, and economic sanctions are being declared as democratic educational measures.

In the shadow of the rampant media portrayal of the pandemic measures, the German government and parts of the opposition are implementing the rearmament requirements of the U.S.-dominated NATO. No nuclear-weapon state or NATO member, including Germany, has agreed to the UN's Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, which was approved by 122 states and represents humanity's will to live without this weapon of mass destruction. Instead, during the second lockdown at the maneuver "Resilient Guard" in Büchel, the use of nuclear weapons against Russia has been rehearsed under utmost secrecy.

Species are already dying, the climate is beginning to collapse, and democracy is also at risk. The pandemic must raise awareness that it is not enough to return to the previous state. There is a need for a new legal and security practice that puts the common good ahead of private profit-making, that bridges the gap with poor countries (including within the EU), and thus does better justice to the right to life.

V. Necessary consequences and activities (selection)
The Corona crisis has shown that a private, predominantly profit-oriented healthcare system is not equipped to meet the demands of a pandemic situation. This means: hospital closures must be stopped immediately; we need more and better paid nursing staff, and we need more municipal and state hospitals again, in general a greater weight of the public sector in the health care system. In addition, a minimum level of national production capacity for certain medical products should be ensured.

In the spirit of the Basic Law, all restrictions on fundamental rights must be withdrawn as quickly as possible. This is the special responsibility of the Bundestag and the parties represented in it, but also of the constitutional bodies.

The domination of public discourse by a small group of pro-government virologists and epidemiologists must end. Our society urgently needs to return to an open discourse in which critical voices and all factual arguments from experts, scientists and citizens are also allowed and can be discussed. The ostracism of critics through sweeping enemy images such as "corona deniers," "conspiracy theorists" and "lateral thinkers" destroys any discourse, without which no democracy can exist. The media have a special responsibility in this context.

The Corona crisis has enormously deepened the social divide in our society. Large sections of the population have no political voice, no form of organization, no media representation and no lobbyists for political representation of their interests. The feeling of social powerlessness is spreading and can give room to dangerous developments. Urgent countermeasures must be taken here.

As is well known, the Corona measures have caused immense costs with correspondingly high national debt. The hitherto extremely unequal distribution of the social and financial follow-up costs of crisis management must be ended. The burdens that will fall on all of us must be distributed fairly. Profiteers of the crisis and the very wealthy must be called upon to a special extent, e.g. in the manner of the equalization of burdens after World War II.




_______________________________________________________
There's a fire in every corner and every end
It's burning on all fronts
Energy & Climate
By Wolfgang Pomrehn
[This article published on July 5, 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/news/Es-brennt-an-allen-Ecken-und-Enden-6128142.html.]

In Canada, forest fires spread, in the Gulf of Mexico, the sea burned and in North Rhine-Westphalia, chancellor candidate Armin Laschet practices climate protection prevention

While CDU leader and candidate for chancellor Armin Laschet still thinks it's enough to simulate climate protection, there are fires literally everywhere. Under Laschet's aegis, the state parliament in NRW passed a climate protection law at the end of last week that explicitly excludes an individual right to climate protection and corresponding rights of action, and fittingly also quickly ensured that the expansion of wind energy on the Rhine and Ruhr has no chance.

New turbines must now be 1,000 meters away from the nearest residential buildings. The controversial Datteln 4 coal-fired power plant, on the other hand, is only 400 meters away from the nearest residential buildings, and the excavators of opencast lignite mines in NRW are allowed to come within 300 meters or even closer to villages and terrorize them with dust and nighttime noise.

Burning sea
Meanwhile, the Gulf of Mexico was burning. Literally. "The ocean was on fire." A pipeline had ruptured off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula in close proximity to a drilling platform. The escaping gas flowed to the ocean surface, where it ignited.

The media platform El Universal showed dramatic footage of the firefighting efforts. The fire had broken out between four and five o'clock local time on Friday morning and had begun to affect platforms other than the neighboring one. It was extinguished after five hours.
However, the Excelsoir newspaper quotes Mexican oil company Pemex as saying that production in the region was continuing. The paper also reproduces accusations by the environmental organization Greenpeace that the accident was the result of a failure to invest in safety and maintenance. Pemex has dealt with "major accidents" in the past.

Burning forests
Canada is also on fire. We had already reported on the fire disaster in the village of Lytton. The village is now almost completely burned down and several inhabitants are still missing. Meanwhile, the fire continues to spread and has already destroyed 64 square kilometers of forest and other land.

And it's not the only one; while the heat wave that melted away insulation on power lines in Portland in the U.S. is shifting slightly eastward and is now centered over the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, the number of wildfires in Canada's West continues to grow.

136 forest and brush fires were reported by the Daytime News from the coastal province of British Columbia alone, which includes Lytton. In many cases, they were sparked by one of the 12,000 lightning strikes counted in one day alone.

Large nimbus clouds form over large wildfires due to the hot air shooting upward and the rising smoke, which can cause lightning. The mechanisms are similar to thunderstorms, except that they are dry lightning, so to speak, and are not accompanied by precipitation.
Incendiary inactivity

And what does all this have to do with the refusal to protect the climate in this country? The fire in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the explosion in Romania's largest oil refinery Petromidia demonstrate the often-suppressed direct damage caused by the extraction of fossil fuels. In the North Sea, for example, natural gas is constantly escaping from old wells. Although it does not burn, it is all the more effective as a greenhouse gas in the form of methane.

And the Canadian heat wave is, meteorologists are fairly certain, almost inconceivable without man-made climate change. Global warming is making extreme events more likely, giving us heat waves and heavy precipitation that would otherwise occur only once every thousand years or even less.
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