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What The Civil Protest in America Really Means

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Credit: Fibonacci Blue / flickr

The spark of this USA  turned global movement was another episode of racial injustice in America. George Floyd another Black man murdered by a White police officer with others watching the homicide. Reminiscent , it is horribly enough,  of the traditional lynch mob days where  white crowds would gather with their picnic baskets and cameras anxious to take home little pieces of the anticipated murdered  Black usual body for souvenirs indeed heirlooms.

But there has been something different about this lynching episode with a white limb on the Black neck rather than hanging the Black neck from the limb of a tree. The expected at best local Black uproar with conciliatory  neo-liberal White and Black elected officials declaring as they usually do saying justice will be done which seldom happens to murdering cops today or historically became the unexpected. The lynching this time became a national and now global event of massive protests everywhere. The President in the White House is dangerously pandering to his White nationalist base rather than paying attention to what people of all ages, classes, and ancestries in the streets in America and around the world. Police chiefs are kneeling and holding hands with protesters and so did the Prime Minister of Canada. Retired military commanders more than likely the mouthpieces of those on-duty forbidden to speak are urging reconciliation and justice. Their urgings are counter to the sterner military measures  President  Trump  threatened to employ though thank goodness in recent days is beginning to pivot from more than likely due to behind the scenes resistance from the military high command and from members of his own party and his own political base who  too are out there marching.

It is the first time this has ever happened in American history and global history at that have ao massively taken to the streets demanding justice for Blacks and for all of us. Superseding what we saw going on in the 1950s and 1960s.People are just sick and tired. Younger generations have nothing to look forward to since Baby boomers have left them with  virtually nothing except debts and now this virus thing devastating the little crumbs left for then to squander. We older people having nothing to boast of either strapped with meager pensions and healthcare and no decent housing and our support systems are lousy. At best we are like the 70 something year old protestor in Buffalo, New York the other day knocked down to pavement by the police left there bleeding. Only a video clipped made it clear he did not as the cops said fell down you know as we older people are habitually supposed to do. We older people in America these days are disposable as the virus sweeping through nursing homes is saying in a society with young people who are tired of not knowing which way they are going. 

Every one out there on the streets and their supporters off the streets where ever they are expressing not having enough to make ends meet and even when you do have means be it taxes or high consumer prices we are barely scrapping. Meanwhile the wealthy few even have the nerve to grab pandemic government funds allocated to the poor. They pay little tax and live like kings and queens while most of us are honest hard working people or hard at looking for work to live lives below poverty. Graduates working their heads off and their hearts out burning midnight oil lanterns until they melt or corrode find nothing like  job waiting for them. Youth and older people in America used to have factories and places like gas stations to work in are now finding robots and off shore phone and online laborers taking their places. 

Be it Democratic or Republican our two party system is torn to threads with the two Presidential contenders Trump there  in the White House and Biden wanting to be there posing as symptoms of the rotting White Supremacy electoral constitutional laws and traditions. Both sides like the founding fathers of this now declining White Supremacy Male nation state are desperately holding on to traditions, to rules, and regulations assuring White Male Supremacy with White women and Non-White men and women being used as their beck and call. Those days are over as the street filled marches are occurring even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic virus. Assuring speeches for peace on both sides of the aisle are doing no good. That includes the soothing words of  Republican Condi Rice  and Democratic Barack Obama who  as Black national political leaders when they were in office did not so as much as they could do about racial justice. So hardly no one is listening to them now  as well as the bleeding  white neo- liberal types, especially the young with no model of courageous racial justice leadership in sight in either of the two traditional parties. 

What the street protests which will not soon end are all about  are possibly five  things. First some  retired military and intelligence and prominent media commentator  are drawing comparisons between  the near collapse of politically traumatized nations around the world and what has been going on in America the last two weeks. The fear is Trump’s erosion of military independence through installing his yes people in the Pentagon is at a point now the military will buckle under and agree to deploying military troops to be used against protesting American citizens.  

Second , some say Trump’s tough law and order stance is a  re-election  strategy to feed his base. If he wins the protests  will more than likely continue more than likely exacerbated by a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic virus, Trump will further push the military into becoming a dictator.  If Trump  loses , he could  refuse to leave office challenging the results in court  throwing the country into a novel constitutional crisis. 

Third , related to the second possibility is Trump using the military to postpone November  elections  with the strategy to bully his way into a second term. This would allow him to tighten his grip  on the military and continue to stack the Supreme Court and the entire federal system. That is, if the Republican Party continues to hold on to the Senate after November which controls federal  judicial appointments and checks Presidential military powers.

Four, others speculate that the convergence of the COVID-19  pandemic and massive racial justice and police reform movements  are sowing the seeds for a  third party  with winning capacity; In  a declining White Supremacy Male nation. 

Even if probable Democratic Party Presidential nominee Joe Biden  chooses moderate Kamala Harris or another African American woman as his running mate as predicted it will continue to destroy the party from within with its elitist neo-liberal inclinations. Even if he wins his old fashioned White Supremacy Male neoliberalism will not be enough to sustain a coalition of the growing power of younger white and especially non-white Democratic and independent voters along with disgruntled Republicans and usual nonvoters. 

 If Trump wins re-election, it will be because  in the face of Democratic  Party nonvoters ,he is able to fire up his Mid-Western and Southern White bases along with his non-White evangelical and conservative supporters enough to  , as in 2016, win  the Electoral College vote while not necessarily the popular vote not needed to win the Presidency in the American system.

Whoever wins in November 2020 , some speculate, will represent one of the two traditional parties which will face a third party in mid-term 2022 and in the Presidential 2024 year. This party will be a Post-White Supremacy galvanizing presently composed of Americans disillusioned by the  marginal and failed  racial and class reform policies across Democratic and Republican administrations since the 1990s creating a deepening disenfranchised multiracial impoverished underclass and middle class in a nation becoming nonwhite with no traditional Party leadership in sight with skills to lead an authentic post-White Supremacy nation. Its dress rehearsal was the 2018 Midterm election which dramatically changed the gender and racial demographics of the House of Representatives. The White Supremacy attitudes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the left towards younger women of color in her caucus along with the conformity leanings of the older Blacks and Latinos House leaders actually paved the way for White Supremacist Trump to attack them from the right. This is certainly creating conditions for third party breakaways especially if Trump wins and moves further to the right with the Democratic Party standing by hopeless and toothless. The fifth view is this  civil rights movement we are now experiencing in America is not just about America. This is more than apparent in its massive presence in other big Western  and Non-Western cities and  in rural areas. In this respect something  bigger than “race” is going on.It is global soul searching and the redemption of our societal souls. It is  a global movement atonement for the sociological sides of societal sins- slavery both historical and modern, colonialism, environmental destruction, racism, the dehumanization of girls and women, poverty induced by the greed of the wealthy, and other massive forms of degradation and suffering though we human beings are one made in the image of God. It is this fifth meaning of this  civil rights movement birthed by COVID-19 pandemic which needs most our undivided attention as a world since searching our souls and recovering our singular humanity is going to be the only way we human beings will not only survive but prosper. This includes Africa where like Asia is now in the centerfold of global power and prestige though still needs to be awakened and contend with such serious forms of structural inequalities which need more transparent discussion and effective intervention and positive transformation.  

Otherwise no matter what we say with such eloquent words and powerpoints in our fancy conference and corporate suite  garments remain irrelevant trinkets of nothingness as the soul searching world leaves Africans  behind…once again.

Director Institute for Advanced Study of African Renaissance Policies Ideas ( ASARPI) SSR Chair of African Studies University of Mauritius

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Americas

The 4 groups of Senate Republicans that will decide Trump’s impeachment trial

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With Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing back the Trump impeachment trial to mid-February to make sure things cool down, Senate Republicans’ positions on the vote are far from crystallized yet. Here are the four groups of Senate Republicans, according to views and likely vote. The numbers and composition of these four groups will decide Trump’s future political faith. Which group Mitch McConnell chooses to position himself in will also be a deciding factor in the unusual and curious impeachment trial of a former US president no longer sitting in office.

Group 1: The Willing Executioners

There surely are those in the Republican Party such as Senator Mitt Romney and Senator Ben Sasse who cannot wait to give that Yea and the final boot to disgraced former President Trump, and will do that with joy and relief. Both the Utah Senator and the Nebraska Senator may be vying for the leadership spot in the Republican Party themselves but that is not the whole story. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska openly said “I want him out.” This group is unlikely to reach as many as 17 Senators, however, needed for the two thirds Senate majority to convict Trump.

Group 2: The Never Give up on Trumpers

There are also those Republican Senators who will stick with Trump through thick and thin until the end – some out of conviction, but most as someone who cannot afford to alienate the Trump supporter base in their state – a supporter base which is still as strong. 

At least 21 Republican Senators are strongly opposed to voting to convict former President Trump, as reported by Newsweek. They realize that doing so would be a political suicide. Republican voters, on the whole, are unified in their belief that the presidential elections were not fair and Joe Biden did not win legitimately, with 68% of Republican voters holding the belief that the elections were “rigged”. The majority of the Republican Party constituents are Never Give up on Trumpers themselves.

Among them are Senators Cruz and Hawley. Both will fight at all cost a vote which certifies as incitement to violence and insurrection the same rhetoric they both themselves used to incite the Trump crowd. Cruz and Hawley will try to avoid at all cost the legal certification of the same rhetoric as criminal in order to avoid their own removal under the 14th Amendment, as argued already by Senator Manchin and many others.

Senator Ron Johnson even called upon Biden and Pelosi to choose between the Trump impeachment trial and the Biden new cabinet confirmation. Group 2 will fight fierce over the next weeks and you will recognize them by the public rhetoric.

Group 3: I’d really like to but I can’t be on the record for convincing a President of my own party

Then there is a large group of Republican Senators – maybe the largest – who would really like to give that Yea vote and leave Trump behind but they do not wish to go on the record as having voted to convict a US President from their own party. Some of these Senators will share their intention to vote Yea in private or off the record with the media, but when push comes to shove and the final vote, they will be hesitant and in the end will vote Nay. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida falls under Group 3.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is also the illustration of the average Republican Senator right now – someone who said that Trump committed “impeachable offenses” but who is not sure about convicting him through trial, so that probably means a Nay. 

The BBC quoted a New York Time’s estimate from mid-January that as many as 20 Republican Senators are open to voting to convict Trump, but it should be recalled that in the first Trump impeachment trial in 2020, several Republican Senators also shared in private and off the record that they would be willing to convict. After so much discussion, calculations and prognosis, in the end, it was only Senator Mitt Romney who broke ranks on only one of the two impeachment articles, and voted to convict.

The Capitol events, of course, are incomparable to the Ukraine impeachment saga, but it should be accounted for that the trial vote will likely take place sometime in March 2021, or two months after the Capitol events, when most of the tension and high emotion would have subsided and much of American society will be oriented towards “moving forward”. Group 3 will host the majority of Senate Republicans who in the end will decide to let it go. Most of the 21 Republican Senators who already expressed their opposition to convicting Trump actually belong to Group 3 and not Group 2 Never Give up on Trumpers.

Group 4: I am a Never Give up on Trumper but I really want to look like Group 3

And finally, there is the most interesting group of Republican Senators who are secretly a Never Give up on Trumpers but would like to be perceived as belonging to the hesitant and deliberative Group 3 – willing and outraged but unwilling to go all the way on the record to eliminate a former Republican President.

Senator Ted Cruz might move into Group 4 in terms of rhetoric. Never Give up on Trumpers will vote Nay willingly but will try to present themselves as conflicted Group 3 politicians doing it for different reasons.

Which group Mitch McConnel chooses will be the decisive factor in aligning the Senate Republican votes. McConnel himself seems to be a Group 3 Senator who, in the end, is unlikely to rally the rest of the Senators to convict Trump even though McConnel would really like Trump out of the Republican Party, once and for all. The very fact that McConnel is not in a hurry and is in fact extending the cool-off period places him in Group 3. 

Yea voters don’t need time to think about it and look at things. It took House Democrats exactly three days to get it over and done with. McConnel is quoted as willing to give time to “both sides to properly prepare”, allowing former president Trump enjoy due process. But Trump’s legal team will notice quickly that there is not much to prepare for, as they won’t find plenty of legal precedent in the jurisprudence on American Presidents’ incitement to violent insurrection for stopping the democratic certification process on an opponent who is the democratically elected President.

McConnel himself has said that he is “undecided” and that speaks volumes. He is a Group 3 Senate Republican, and with that, Group 3 will describe the mainstream Senate Republicans’ position in the impeachment trial. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set 8 February as the start of the impeachment trial, pushing earlier McConnel’s time frame. This is when it all starts.

It is my prediction that when all is said and done, there won’t be as many as 17 Senate Republicans to vote to convict former President Trump. Trump will walk away, but not without the political damage he has incurred himself and has also left in American political life.

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Two Ways that Trump Spread Covid-19 in U.S.

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Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

1. Encouraging infected workers to continue working even if it infects others:

On 12 May 2020, two hundred and twenty five labor organizations signed a letter to Antonin Scalia’s son Eugene Scalia who was Donald Trump’s appointed Secretary of Labor, and it urged his Department to change its policies “that address the standards that apply under the federal U[nemployment] I[insurance] law to determine when workers remain eligible for regular state UI or P[andemic] U[nemployment] A[ssistance] if they leave work or refuse to work due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns.” In more-common language, an economist Jared Bernstein headlined in the Washington Post six days later on May 18th, “The Labor Department is forcing workers back to jobs that could make them sick” and he explained that Scalia’s Department “has issued guidance that virtually ignores health risks and encourages employers to report workers who refuse job offers [while unemployed] so their unemployment payments can be taken away. The agency is busy urging employers to snitch on ‘claimants that have turned down suitable work.’” Trump’s Labor Department ignored the labor-organizations’ letter. Then, a barista headlined at Huffpost on 22 January 2021, “I Work In A Coffee Shop In Montana. Anti-Maskers Have Made My Job Hell.” She complained that the many customers who refused to wear masks were causing her to fear working there — she was blaming those customers, but not Trump. However, Trump and his Labor Secretary were responsible and simply didn’t care about the safety of workers, such as her, and were instead encouraging employers to force these workers to stay on the job, though doing so endangered themselves and their co-workers. Millions of infected workers were infecting others because not to would cause them to become fired and could ultimately force them into homelessness. Maybe the billionaires who funded Trump’s political career profited from such exploitation of their employees, but nationally this policy helped to increase the spreading of Covid-19. Also: since so many of those bottom-of-the-totem-pole employees are Blacks and Hispanics, etc., this Trump policy helped to cause the drastically higher infection-rates that have been reported among such groups.

2. Refusing to deal with the pandemic on a national basis:

On 15 July 2020, the Washington Post headlined “As the coronavirus crisis spins out of control, Trump issues directives — but still no clear plan” and reported that, “health professionals have urged the White House to offer a disciplined and unified national message to help people who are fatigued more than five months into the crisis and resistant to changing social behaviors, such as wearing masks and keeping a distance from others. Trump, for instance, refused to be seen publicly wearing a mask until last weekend, when he sported one during a trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. ‘You can get a really strong and eloquent governor who can help at the state level, but it does seem like we need some more national messaging around the fact that for many people, this is the most adversity they’ve faced in their life,’ said Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.” Every country (such as China, Vietnam, Venezuela, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand, and Finland) that has been far more successful than America is at having a low number of Covid-19 cases (and deaths) per million residents has dealt with the pandemic on a national and not merely local basis, but all of the worst-performing countries (such as America, which now is at 76,407 “Tot Cases/1M pop”) have not.

It therefore also stands to reason that 

which ranks all 50 states according to how high is the number of Covid-19 infections per million inhabitants, shows (and links to the data proving) that “In 2016, the top 17 [most Covid-infected states] voted for Trump, and the bottom 5 voted for Clinton. All but 3 of the top 24 voted for Trump.” The correlation of high Covid-infection-rate with Trump-voting was astoundingly high. Trump, it seems, gave the high-infection-rate states what they had wanted. But what he gave to America is the highest Covid-19 infection-rate of any nation that has at least 11 million population. It is the 7th-highest Covid-19 infection-rate among all 219 reporting nations. Trump’s policies produced the type of results that had been expected by well-informed people around the world.

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A Most Unusual Inaugural

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President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden enter the inauguration platform during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. (DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Sic transit gloria mundi — thus passes worldly glory, which seems an apt phrase for the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next.

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. became the 46th president of the United States at noon on January 20th, and earlier  Donald J. Trump departed the White House quietly for Florida — his last ride on Air Force One as president — leaving behind a generous and gracious letter for Biden.  So it is described by Joe Biden himself.  Trump did not attend the inauguration, the first president not to do so since Woodrow Wilson in 1921, who remained inside the Capitol building because of poor health while his successor Warren G. Harding was installed.

It was a most unusual inauguration this time.  There were no crowds on the lawns outside; instead row upon row of American flags representing them.  The official attendees all wore masks and included three former Presidents (Obama, the younger Bush and Clinton).  President Carter, who is in his 90s and frail, sent his apologies. 

The usual late breakfast before the ceremony and the lunch afterwards were also cancelled — one cannot eat with a mask in place!  No evening inaugural balls either.  These were sometimes so many that the new president and his lady could only spend a few minutes at each.  In their stead, there was a virtual inaugural celebration hosted by Tom Hanks the actor.  It consisted mostly of pop-singers who supported Biden plus a disappointing rendering of Amazing Grace by Yo-Yo Ma on his cello. 

Biden’s first act was to sign a series of executive orders to undo some of Trump’s policies.  He announced the U.S. would not leave the World Health Organization (WHO) and would continue to contribute to it.  On climate change a complete policy reversal now means the U.S. will abide by the Paris climate accord.   

Biden’s other executive orders totalling 15 responded to the coronavirus crisis with the goal of giving 100 million vaccine shots by the end of April.  He proposes to establish vaccine centers at stadiums and community facilities and also plans to speed up production of the supplies required for making vaccines.

The U.S. now has lost 406,000 lives (and counting) from COVID-19.  That number is noted to be greater than U.S. deaths during WW2.  The virus has so far infected 24.5 million people.  However, the problem is more complicated than simply inoculating everyone.

Swedish authorities report that 23 people, mostly elderly and having other health issues, have died after being given the Pfizer vaccine.  Its side effects apparently can be severe and mimic the disease itself.  Thus given a choice, one would prefer the Moderna vaccine.  

Old age is a poignant sight to behold.  Biden the ex high school football star now having difficulty lifting his feet to walk.  Very gamely, he even tried a jog or two to say a quick hello to bystanders during his short walk to the White House.  We wish him well and hope for a successful presidential term.  Thirty-six years as senator and eight years as vice-president certainly make him one of the most experienced to sit in the White House Oval Office.   Good luck Mr. President!  

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