Black Women’s Lives Matter in the USA and the UK: Breonna Taylor and Belly Mujinga

Why impose punishment before the facts have been fully assembled? Why have the chief and the mayor created a termination document amped up with hyperbole? Unfortunately, the answer is that this termination is a cowardly political act. — Attorney of former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison, WDRB, June 25.

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A cowardly political act has been done indeed. Not toward Brett Hankison but toward justice for EMT Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Hankison. On the night of March 13, Hankison  and two other plainclothes officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department—Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove—burst through Taylor’s apartment door while she and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker slept. The cops had a no-knock warrant to search for drugs. Waking up from the commotion and seeing that intruders had broken in, Walker reached for his gun and shot Mattingly in the leg. The officers fired back with more than 20 rounds, eight of which pierced Taylor’s body, killing her. 

No drugs were found, because the cops had broken into the wrong apartment.

The lynching of George Floyd has sparked Black Lives Matter protests all across the nation, calling for racial justice and police accountability. They include voices calling for the media to focus its attention not only on murdered Black men, but also on “the Black and Brown women who have been attacked, assaulted, or killed by the police.” 

A long, long three months after the night of March 13, Hankison was finally fired. But protesters rightly want more. Hankison’s attorney claims, pathetically, that the firing was a “cowardly political act,” and demonstrators in the streets of America beg to differ. They are demanding that all three officers be criminally charged. 

The United States of America has never ever been the (so-called) Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Instead, it’s the Land of the Free to Kill and the Home of the Cowardly Cops.

… I’m sorry I didn’t do more to protect you

And make sure the world know they must value and respect you

I’m sorry your life was taken in the hands of police

Who while your were asleep decided for you to rest in peace

But Breonna, I want to turn this sorrow into better tomorrows

Better tomorrows for your mother and your loved ones

Better tomorrows so you can be proud of what your life has done

Better tomorrows of the children you dreamed of

Better tomorrows for those who rarely have seen love

Better tomorrows for some who say we are blessed and some who say we are lucky

Better tomorrows for Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort and all of Kentucky

Better tomorrows for this country

I can see ’em coming

Better tomorrows begin with us lifting up the black woman

Love!

— Rapper Common on the steps of the capitol building, Frankfort, Kentucky, Courier Journal, June 25.

 

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The man asked her what she was doing, why she was there, and she said they were working. The man said he had the virus and spat on them. They reported it. — Lusamba Gode Katalay, husband of Belly Mujinga.

On the morning of March 22, nine days after the brutal cop-killing of Breonna Taylor in her bedroom in Louisville, Kentucky, 4240 miles away, Belly Mujinga, a railway ticket officer, was working at Victoria Station in London, UK when a man who said he had Covid-19 allegedly spat and coughed in the faces of her and a colleague. Within days of that incident both women fell ill with the virus. Mujinga died on April 5, leaving behind an 11-year-old daughter, Ingrid and husband, Lusamba. 

Mujinga’s cousin Agnes told The Guardian that Mujinga had begged her employers, Govia Thameslink, who were well aware of her underlying respiratory problems, not to send her outside of the protected ticket office and into the concourse area without PPE. That wasn’t all. Immediately after the spitting incident, Mujinga was ordered back onto the concourse, still unprotected, to interact with passengers.

After investigation, the British Transport Police concluded that there was “no evidence to substantiate any criminal offences having taken place,” and that her death was not a result of the spitting incident. They have since closed the case.

Mujinga has become the face of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK, which, with 309,455 confirmed Covid-19 cases to date, is fifth in the world after the US, Brazil, Russia and India, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Justice for Belly Mujinga!

Justice for Breonna Taylor!

Please DM me @PritiGCox if you would like the patterns for the cross stitched portraits of Breonna Taylor and Belly Mujinga.

 

 

A Walk With George Floyd in Tiffany’s Shoes

 

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What I can’t do is change my skin color for y’all… Just like when I go to work everyday, it’s a choice… no matter what happens in that day, good or bad, I chose it. When I was born I didn’t choose that. I didn’t choose to be the color I am, but I’m proud of who I am and I would not change it for the world. So, before you decide it’s just not a big deal. Before you make excuses. Before you say enough is enough and get over it. I’ll get over it when I don’t have to pray to hear from my kids every morning to know they’re okay. I don’t have to have a meltdown if they didn’t respond within the first hour or so, because I’m now worried something happened to my Good. Black. Kids. So when I can start waking up every morning and not fearing for my kids or my loved ones, then, then, and only then you ask me to stop. — Tiffany Cooper, June 15, Salina, Kansas 

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Please take this eleven minute walk with Salinan Tiffany Cooper, in which she covers the last eight minutes and 46 seconds of Floyd’s life, and his dying words.

It was Thursday afternoon, May 11th when I got the text from Larry, a fellow Salinan, saying that he “was doing a chalk installation drawing along with Tammy” on the sidewalk downtown, and they needed an artist to add some visuals to it. The drawing was a three-quarter-mile-long electrocardiogram tracing (the familiar heartbeat pattern) depicting the eight minutes and forty-six seconds during which Derek Chauvin’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck as he was murdering Floyd on May 25. Ten-second intervals were indicated along the tracing, and Floyd’s dying words were chalked in at the various times he said them.

Larry suggested that I render an image of a knee on Floyd’s neck at the beginning of the heartbeat tracing and another of Floyd with eyes closed at six minutes, three seconds—the point at which he became unresponsive. (At 6:03, the pulse on the sidewalk goes flat.)

I asked Larry to elaborate on how he came up with the heartbeat concept and what kind of reactions he had to it.

Larry:

A friend had asked me if I had done any of the 8:46 events and realized how long that was. Then walking to Ad Astra [Tammy’s coffee shop], I thought about how long the walk was. I felt that a 8:46 walk and you had to read what George said while dying could make us think. The heartbeat seemed like a dramatic thing to tie the words together while showing how long he was suffering and then flatlined/non responsive.

Tammy and I were still drawing when a husband of a friend came to us. His wife had to stop midway through because she was so moved and upset. Later she came by Ad Astra still teared up. Thanking us for such a moving and eye-opening experience.

A few people stopped me and asked what I was doing. They did not get it, as if they had not heard of George Floyd.  

One man agreed that George’s death was horrible, “BUT…” and that’s all I have to say about that. 

Larry and Tammy’s powerful installation of George Floyd’s heartbeat stretched two blocks on Santa Fe Ave. from in front of Martinelli’s, a popular local restaurant, up to Ad Astra. 

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I went to Santa Fe Ave. on Friday morning in response to Larry’s text and spent the day recreating the infamous image of Chauvin’s murderous knee on Floyd’s neck in chalk outside Martinelli’s. I did the same with a now-well-known photo of George Floyd at the 6:03 mark, but I showed his eyes closed.

The next day at 4:00 pm I got a text from Larry saying that he was sorry to have to tell me but that my art had been rubbed out.

Larry:

When I heard Saturday that your pics had been rubbed out, I was outraged. I wish we’d had cameras. But it doesn’t matter who. What matters is it shows that this heartbeat walk is so necessary for whites to open their eyes to the hate our fellow humans with darker skins than ours experience every fucking day.

The Flower Nook [a local flower shop] donated a bucket of flowers at the end of the walk. We placed a sign encouraging others to drop flowers there. The entire bucket of memorial flowers was stolen.  No respect for Floyd and no respect for those mourning his death.

IMG_6714 copyIMG_6713The photos of the defaced art were taken by Larry

It was a sad day for me to be a Salinan, when just two weeks ago I was really proud to be one. On May 31, I walked in the “No Justice No Peace” march that was prompted by the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and organized by another friend, Miranda, along with  others. Hundreds of protestors in face masks participated in this historic event. In the twenty years I’ve been living in Salina, Kansas, I have never experienced such love and solidarity for long-overdue racial justice.

Miranda:

On May 31st I was so proud to be from Salina. 400 people came to walk for civil rights eight blocks and no problems. I expected 50 people to show up. At the most. It was overwhelming pride but heartache that we are still marching, all these years later. There were kids there among people in their 70s. It was amazing.

When Priti’s art was defaced on Santa Fe just two weeks later, I felt the exact opposite. Sad. Mad and frustrated all over again. Frankly, the defamation made me want to march again.

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Are some people that ignorant or untouched by our world’s injustices? It saddens but encourages me every day. I personally thought if any person [who disliked it] had any respect they would simply look away. It’s unfortunate we, as humans, seem to choose the wrong times to “look away”. Not anymore. I refuse to let the City of Salina “look away”. That’s why I proposed a “Know Justice Know Peace Plaza” so we can paint a mural, have a safe space for minorities and remember Dana Adams, who was killed by a mob here in 1893. Salina will no longer turn its back on any minority or one person giving our communities strength and a sense of pride. A place where we all can demonstrate civil rights and not have it be destroyed. There will be a light in the darkness here in Salina. Love always outshines hate.

DSC_0267Photos of the “No Justice No Peace” march were taken by John Epic

What will it take for white-America to change its murder-ignoring ways? To wake the fuck up. To pay heed to Tiffany’s words. To walk in her shoes. To feel her pain as her body and voice make that posthumous eight minutes 46 seconds journey with George Floyd. 

Change is here. It has been an unprecedented time, no doubt, for Americans of all hues to take to the streets and sidewalks and dissent against systemic racial injustice and continuing police atrocities. But if you click on the link at the beginning of this article and take that journey with Tiffany, then you can see that the road to change is still hard and long.

George Floyd: A Timeline in Chalk, the Salina Journal, June 17.

American While Black

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The State’s knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on a Black man’s neck. That’s what it took BLACK LIVES MATTER America to take to the young but deadly pandemic streets like there was no tomorrow. And it’s been the same since.

Michael Cruse… killed a man before for running a stop sign… He was fired from the police department… He was tried [and] convicted of vehicular homicide. He got sentenced to one year in jail. He spent 30 days in jail… Then he was rehired. — Theresa Joyce-Wynne, mother of Dominique White, Mom’s Demand Action rally, Topeka, Kansas, June, 2018.

For the Sidewalk Museum of Congress (SMoC) it all started in September 2018 when I decided to convert my Congressman’s office sidewalk into a palette of peaceful direct-action where Kansas’ 1st District constituents could get together and plant dissent to systemic racial, climate, social and economic injustice via song, art, poetry, protest etc. And the first such seeds to be planted on the concrete of @RogerMarshalMD’s sidewalk were for racial justice and for Dominique White, a 30-year-old black man who was shot and killed by Topeka police officers Michael Cruse and Justin Mackey, a year earlier on September 28, 2017.

Scan 2Cross-stitch embroidery detail of Dominique White’s portrait, September, 2018

They say he (Dominique) was reaching for a gun. He wasn’t reaching for that gun. He was trying to get away. He didn’t know what was going to happen. They grabbed him! Trying to detain him and told him he wasn’t being arrested. A young black man in this day and age? He was scared for his life. He was scared for his life. So he tried to get away. — Theresa Joyce-Wynne.

According to Mapping Police Violence, “1,147 people were killed by police in 2017,” the year Dominique White was killed; only 1% of those officers involved were charged with a crime, and of the 569 officers who were identified, “at least 48 [like Michael Cruse] had shot and killed someone before”; about half of the 1,147 people killed by the police were reported to be armed with a gun, but “1 in 5 people with a gun were not threatening anyone when they were killed;” and if the police had simply spent their energy on de-escalating the situation Dominique White would’ve been one of 638 people who didn’t have to die that year.

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We all know that most people to be killed with impunity by the police and other racist Americans are people of color and/or LGBTQ. But what finally snapped the elastic cord of racial injustice in the beautiful and multicolored way that it did in America, at least when it comes to police violence? Was it a combination of the mismanaged Trump-presidency-style lockdown with the duration of Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck that made these rightly angry and emotional people fill the streets day after day after day to say ENOUGH!? All across America the streets have been filled with protestors invoking the names of people killed by police violence, including in Topeka Kansas where people chanted, “Say his Name! Dominique White.”

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IMG_6624Abbi says “We Are Responsible” with sainfoin and alfalfa seeds

A year and eight months have passed between the first planting of seeds at SMoC for justice for Dominique White and the planting of seed-portraits for justice of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. And it is clear that this year has been monumental in that it has seen an unprecedented momentum for racial justice and police accountability.

When I was at SMoC this June 3 working on Tony McDade’s portrait, a man walked up to me and looked at what I was doing and asked, “Is that George Floyd?” No it’s Tony McDade. He was a transgender man shot and killed by the police in Florida, two days after Floyd, I replied. Then he said, “He (George Floyd) broke the law. If he hadn’t broke the law the police wouldn’t a come after him. Now, I ain’t sayin’ the officer shoulda done what he did. And he’s gonna pay the price for it.” Saying nothing about the other three officers involved, then looking more intently at McDade’s portrait he said, “He looks like him (Floyd).” And I thought, wow! why? because he’s black? 

He was right. Not because McDade looks anything like Floyd, but yes, Tony McDade is George Floyd is Eric Garner is Philando Castile is Breonna Taylor is Michael Brown is Tamir Rice is Sandra Bland is Dominique White…

And McDade’s killer—who’s hiding behind Marsy’s Law, under which his name is kept secret—is Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane are Daniel Pantaleo and the multiple officers who pinned Eric Garner down before he died on the sidewalk are Jeronimo Yanez is Jonathan Mattingly and Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove are Darren Wilson is Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback are the criminal justice system.

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The death of George Floyd touched us deeply because the truth of the matter [is] we’re in a season of death… 60-70% didn’t have to die [from Covid]. 700 people are dying a day [from poverty] before we ever came to Covid… There are a lot of people already talking about healing!… you can’t heal this quick! We haven’t mourned enough yet! — Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President and Senior Lecturer, Repairers of the Breach, June 7.

Seeds used for the portraits include watermelon, sorghum, mixed beans, soybean, okra, sunflower and wheat. 

Masks for MAGAs

 

IMG_6583 2This latest pattern is for a face-mask designed specially for Trump’s see nothing/hear nothing climate-and-covid-denial base. Photographed at the Sidewalk Museum of Congress located outside @RogerMarshallMD’s office in Salina, Kansas.

 

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One Pound Capitalism, a Pinch of Democracy and Keep On Keepin’ On

Peace Data

(Includes a Discomfort Foods recipe, and the words in bold inspire it)

For Trump the warriortalk isnt about shared sacrifice. He is adding a cheap patina of valor to his demand that people endanger themselves and in some cases die to restore the greatest economy that ever was … the one he created, the one he thinks will get him reelected in November. This is less warrior than cannon fodder. — Josh Marshall, TMP, May 7

Marshall wrote that in response to one of Trump’s latest nonsensical utterances: that he views the “great citizens of this county to a certain extent and to a large extent as warriors.” Of course, Trump wants America to snap out of its induced COVID coma and open up. After all he wants America’s “to-a-certain-extent-and-to-a-large-extent-warriors” get busy keeping America profiteering again. What Trump didn’t add was that the warriors are also “overworked, underpaid, under-protected, and under-appreciated,” to a large, very big extent. And by golly they work for rich white people like Trump.

But most of America is not white and rich. In fact it’s the opposite. It’s non-white and poor-white. In fact, there would be no rich white people in America if it wasn’t for exploitation of the hands of non-white and white working people. And come to think of it, there’s nothing truly rich about rich-white-America. In fact, it’s dull, boring, and bland.

They signed up for a job to work for a company and to make ends meet. These workers didn’t sign up to die. — Kim Cordova, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, Colorado, NBC News, May 8, 2020 

The real richness of America lies in the country’s frontline workers: its migrant fruit pickers and other farmworkers, its meatpackers, vegetable processing and frozen-food plant workers, housekeepers, bus drivers, poultry workers, undocumented dairy workers, grocery store cashiers and clerks, janitors, warehouse workers, nurses, cleaners, healthcare workers, nursing home and home health-care aids, and others.

With Covid, the way it’s treated, in my view it’s just a symptom of something that happens. All. The. Time. We still have construction workers who have cave-ins in trenches. Well that’s just ridiculous. Or falling off a building. No! We can’t have that! — Joan Ratzlaff, co-chair, Salina Area Workers Coalition, Kansas. 

Even before the pandemic hit, this country’s workforce was suffering unimaginable hardships. And their collective suffering has, for the most part, remained outside the government’s livelihoods-policy imagination like a scabbed-over wound that now, thanks to COVID, has suddenly exposed its rawness for all to see and act upon. A rawness without which this country could not come to a full ill-functioning circle. 

This richest country in the world, for instance, would have no public transit workers, 26% of whom are black, deliver restaurant workers to their place of work, every day. The well-off would have no restaurant workers to serve them their fave chicken dish; no chicken to give underpaid poultry industry workers carpel-tunnel syndrome; no carpel-tunnel syndrome to be left untreated because many workers like them have no healthcare to speak of.

There would be no healthcare for female and Latinx workers, 53.2% and 40.2% of whom work in building cleaning services, respectively; for women who make up 64.4% of all of the country’s frontline workers in industries where 41.2% of the workforce is also non-white; or for non-white workers, who along with women and foreign-born — 23% of whom live below the 200% poverty line—a poverty line under which live workers like the black bus driver who delivers restaurant workers to their workplace to serve chicken. Coming full circle, every day. 

And the real ugliness of America lies in the country’s rich, white profiteers whose latest fad is viewing their workers as COVID fodder.

Meanwhile, states are “opening up” without having met the White House’s own criteria that must be followed before going ahead with a phased comeback—criteria that include showing a downward trajectory of cases over a two-week period, and vigorous testing and antibody testing. 

The administration is lying. State governments are lying when they say things like it is safe to attend concerts standing 6 feet apart. And I suppose the owners of that crowded restaurant in Colorado — a state that has seen more than 19,700 cases of COVID and 973 deaths so far — were demonstrating how much they love their mothers on Mother’s Day.

Here, a worker at a large frozen-food factory in Kansas explains the company policies that he and his fellow workers have to live under:

I am to this day not 100 percent sure on what happens entirely when you call in absent or self quarantine or something like that. My impression… since about late March when they upgraded kinda the measures that were taking into account, employees would no longer be punished for calling in absent, which was the case before when there was a points system, where absences even with doctors’ notes would count as one point and at ten you would be terminated. And at six you would be denied any opportunity for promotion. Now it seems to be that theyve taken an incentivized approach to coming to work where you dont seem to be punished for calling out but you are rewarded with a $100 bonus [for a weeks work] for not missing any of your scheduled time to work, which to me seems like a bribe to come to work while sick… Its the appreciation bonus, is what they call it.

Self-quarantining to my knowledge doesnt seem to be rewarded. Theres no pay. If you call in with any amount of symptoms, youre not allowed to come back until youre symptom-free for three days. Which seems like good policy but youre either forced to take it without pay or to consume your vacation and holiday pay which is not unusual but not great… The only paid sick leave that I understand is if you are made by the company to quarantine if there were a confirmed case to happen there.

As for other measures like masks, there are temperature checks that occur on entering the facility… A lot of the time theyre done out in the cold in the morning and Ive seen an awful lot of instances where they would read temperatures that would suggest like, cold body temperatures and then allow people into the facility.

The problems then occur (with the masks) mostly when on the floor, er, the masks were implemented very recently… maybe one week ago. Before that there was a policy in place that everybody would be expected to maintain six feet of social distancing, except that in the more manually intensive packaging lines almost none of this changed. You would still have situations where the production speed is too fast for the packagers to keep up without more people coming to the rescue. 

So instead of maintaining maybe three packers on a line like six feet apart and four lines total, it would be five people at less than a foot and a half apart, desperately like flying one way or the other just like grab products and package it and ship it out. All day. The same people next to each other rotating around the line so that everybody would be in everybodys spot at one point. And you have members of management that would come by and they would catch you if you were talking to each other less than six feet apart… but they would seem to walk right past all the people that would package continually all day…

That was before the masks… Since the masks have been rolled out not only has that continued to be the case, as if this suddenly, you know, we can make up for the bad job we did before with the social distancing. Like this is the perfect defense against everything.

But the masks bring more problems. They are an extra piece of personal protective equipment that has to be worn underneath an additional full head net for your hair… everybody must wear. Its pinned down further with… safety glasses and with hard hat with ear muffs, so it peals very tightly across the mask which makes it even harder to breathe than just the mask. 

So if you rotate to a spot with harder work, it gets really hard to breathe right. A lot of people have started reporting signs of heat stress, or other things that like not being able to catch your breath. There have been some complaints about it but there are no solutions, and to an extent it seems like theres even been a mild effort to pass this off as, oh, this is just you not being used to the mask, you know. Your body just thinks the mask is choking you. Youll get used to it. Keep on keepinon.

Now if you look at some of the meatpacking facilities like Smithfield… some of the pork producers, theyve had cases skyrocket to the hundreds just in that facility alone. And I dont really think that our things here are the same as there, but I dont think that theyre so different that it shouldnt worry us a little.

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Keep on Keepin’ On Chicken Pot Pie Encased in a Lie-Crust

Ingredients for the lie-crust: 2 cups white flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons butter or crisco and cold tap water. 

Ingredients for the pie filling: 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/3 cup white flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 2/3 cup milk, 2 cups cooked chicken cut in small pieces, 2 cups frozen veggies and 3-4 tablespoons chopped jalapenõs.

Mix the salt into the flour. Cut the butter in little pieces and incorporate in the flour using your fingers. Add just enough cold water to make a stiff dough. Then break in half, wrap in saran wrap and chill for an hour or two. 

Melt butter in a pan on medium heat, add the onion and cook for about a minute. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Slowly add the broth and milk, stirring continuously. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil, continuing to stir. Turn the heat off and mix in the chicken pieces, veggies and chopped jalapenõs.

Take the dough out and roll one half of the pieces thin to fit your fave pie pan. Fold the pan over the rolled dough and cut around. Then roll some more. Press in pan and keep aside. For the top lie-crust layer, take about 2/3 of the remaining piece of dough and shape it like one of your face masks with straps and all, replacing pieces of cinnamon sticks and cloves for thread to make pleats. Fork 100 holes in the mask and keep aside.

Pour the pie-filling into the pie pan, and place the face-mask-shaped dough in the center. Then roll and shape the remaining 1/3 piece of dough to fit the circumference of the pie pan, leaving a small opening between it and the mask-shaped dough. Pinch edges and bake at 425 F for 35-40 minutes, till the crust is golden brown and you can see the filling bubbling through the opening.

IMG_6559Serve with fresh salad. 

Discomfort Foods uses the medium of ingredients, measurements and textures to communicate the state of the planet and its occupants, in the process creating new food memories and associations. For this recipe, for instance, I have stayed true to the comfort-food taste of chicken pot pie, but introduced an element of discomfort by establishing new livelihood-policy associations with the ingredients — dairy, chicken and veggies, decorating it with a 100-holed face mask, and adding jalapenõs.

 

This Summer We’ll Hear the Silencin’ / 70K Dead in the USA (and Counting)

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Yesterday, May 4, marked the 50th Anniversary of the Kent State University Massacre in Ohio, when the U.S. National Guard showered bullets into young anti-Vietnam war protestors killing four and wounding nine. 

According to David Paul Kuhn, author of The Hardhat Riot: Nixon, New York City and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution, “If there’s an era when the tribalization of the trump era began, it’s this time,” and that “between Kent State and the hardhat riot you have the best microcosm that there is of the beginning of the polarization that haunts America today.”

Fifty years later, in pandemic-time, when more than 70,000 Americans officially have died so far, (the actual number is much, much higher) our politicians are too busy playing status quo politics in D.C. and to varying degrees all across the 50 states. But within the midst of these status quo shenanigans one thing is as clear as this vast, contrail-free Kansas heartland sky above the Sidewalk of Museum of Congress (SMoC) protest today: the core of the tragedy is the same, only the surface layers have changed.

The tragedy that was the Kent State massacre and that was captured in the iconic photo of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller—a 20-year-old man whose anti-war voice had just been silenced by a shot through his protesting mouth by superpower state machinery—speaks to us in ways that only those paying attention can hear.

The Guardian points out that the atrocity of Kent State was bookended by two other atrocities: the South Carolina State College massacre of 1968 and the Jackson State College massacre ten days after Kent State. Together, those two state-sanctioned shootings killed five young Black men — Samuel Hammond Jr., Henry Smith, Delano Middleton, Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, and James Earl Green, and wounded 39 other Black students. “Kent State is a story that people know, people can learn from, whereas Orangeburg and Jackson, because they happened on black college campuses, are stories that go untold,” said Bakari Sellers, son of student rights leader Cleveland Sellers who was convicted of rioting and was “the only person to go to prison over what became known as the Orangeburg Massacre.”

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Today, the silencing of justice and cries for accountability continues. Only the circumstances have changed. And through the fifty years, we can hear echoes of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: 

Health Workers and Democracy’s dyin’

Left strugglin’ on their own

This summer I hear the silencin’

A thousand dead in Ohio

 

Gotta get down to it

The government’s letting us down

Should have been gone long ago

What if you knew a Latina,

Found her dead on the ground?

How can you lie when you know?

 

Gotta get down to it

Administration’s mowing us down

Shoulda been gone long ago

If you saw a Black Man 

Lyin’ dead on the ground?

How can you lie when you know?

 

Meat workers and Democracy’s dyin’

Left strugglin’ on their own

This fall I’ll hear the silencin’

More dead in Ohio

More dead in Florida

More dead in Iowa

More dead in Michigan (How many?)

More dead in Illinois (How many more?)

More dead in Delaware (Why?)

More dead in Arkansas (No!)

More dead in Maryland (No more!)

More dead in Tennessee (No more!)

More dead in …

DSC_0152Photos of this recreation of the timeless photo by John Filo of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller were taken by John Epic at the Sidewalk Museum of Congress (SMoC) located outside Kansas’ 1st District Congress member @RogerMarshallMD’s office in Salina, Kansas, May 4. 

Protestors re-create Kent State massacre, the Salina Journal, May 5

 

The Recent History of GDP Growth, CO2 Emissions, and Climate Policy Paralysis, All in One Table-Runner

Stan Cox & Priti Gulati Cox

IMG_6441cross-stitch embroidered table-runner. Watch this video narrated by Piyush Labhsetwar

Note: I began designing this table-runner just before the COVID-19 pandemic blew up in the United States. In the time I have been embroidering it, rates of death and misery have soared while wealth generation and carbon emissions (the two subjects of this work) have ended their decades-long rise and have plummeted. A deadly virus is a terrible means of slowing greenhouse warming. Whenever we come out the other side of the pandemic, we must pursue a rapid, humane, ecologically sound, and guaranteed-effective course of action to drive greenhouse emissions down to zero. Here’s how

— P.G.C.

The color of money is the color of calamity

This table-runner illustrates, from left to right, the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from 1946 to the present. Each year is represented by two adjacent stripes: one in gradually deepening shades of green representing that year’s U.S. gross domestic product (adjusted for inflation) and one in increasingly intense shades of yellow-orange-red, representing CO2 concentration. 

There are nine shades for GDP and eleven for CO2, with shades indicating roughly equal intervals of increase in each. The shades of both types of stripes darken as the years go by, in accordance with the increases that occurred in both GDP and CO2. 

The shades of yellow-orange-red in the table-runner darken more and more rapidly as the years pass, illustrating how emissions of CO2 accelerated as industrial output and fossil-fuel use rose more rapidly throughout the world. The concentration of CO2 rose at an annual rate of about 0.8 ppm from 1945 to 1980; 1.5 ppm from 1980 to 1995; and 2.1 ppm from 1995 to 2019. (The United States accounted for almost 20 percent of the rise in atmospheric CO2 during those years.)

If two such numbers (“variables”) increase or decrease together over time, that does not prove that one causes the other to change. But growing economies do require growing inputs of energy and other resources and emit growing quantities of CO2. Thoughout the past century, anywhere you look around the world, GDP and CO2 emissions have risen (and sometimes fallen) together.

Increases in GDP and CO2 over the past three decades have had one easily identifiable cause in common: the reluctance of governments to curb the carbon emissions of the world’s largest economies for fear of slowing the growth of their own GDP.

Growth was non-negotiable

In the year 1700, the concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere was about 270 parts per million (ppm). At the end of World War II, following a century of increasing fossil-fuel use, CO2 was up to 310 ppm.

Scan 1(1946 – 1960)

The increase accelerated gradually through the postwar years, without drawing much attention.

Scan 2(1961 – 1976)

Carbon dioxide concentration reached 339 ppm in 1980, but its rise still was not making headlines.

Scan 3(1977 – 1992)

By 1988, though, worldwide concern had grown to the point that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established to study the situation. That year, the CO2 concentration was 350 ppm (a figure that would become a climate rallying cry twenty years later when climate scientist James Hansen and colleagues concluded that a world “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted” would become impossible unless CO2 is driven back down to 350 ppm or below.)

Scan 4(1992 – 2007)

In the decades since 1988, progressively louder alarms have been going off.

Scan 5(2005 – 2019)

But any serious efforts to curb emissions were stymied by a consensus among the United States and other governments that the only available course of action was inaction. They feared that if the world were to take effective action on greenhouse emissions, economic growth would be hampered. And to them, that was unacceptable. 

As the years rolled on, the accumulation of wealth proceeded on schedule with just a few interruptions, while greenhouse gases continued to accumulate in the sky above:

1992: At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is agreed upon. At the summit, President George H.W. Bush claims for his country the right to pursue uninterrupted growth, whatever the impact on the Earth. He infamously declares, “The American way of life is not up for negotiation.” That year, the U.S. GDP stands at $6.5 trillion; atmospheric CO2 has risen seventeen points over the preceding twelve years and stands at 356 ppm.

1997: The Kyoto Protocol is adopted. The U.S. Senate refuses to ratify Kyoto, with Larry Craig (R-ID) declaring that President Bill Clinton’s signing of the treaty is “the first time in history that an American president has allowed foreign interests to control and limit the growth of the U.S. economy.” GDP: $8.6 trillion, CO2: 363 ppm.

2001: Clinton’s signature remains on the Kyoto pact until midyear, when the newly elected president, George W. Bush, erases it, claiming that the treaty “would have wrecked our economy.” GDP: $10.6 trillion. CO2: 370 ppm.

2008: United Nations officials and economists propose a Green New Deal to pull the world economy out of the Great Recession. The UN Environment Program’s executive director declares, “The new, green economy would provide a new engine of growth, putting the world on the road to prosperity again.” U.S. GDP: $14.7 trillion. Atmospheric CO2: 385 ppm.

2015: The Obama Administration’s climate negotiators, fearful of constraining the nation’s economy, significantly weaken the Paris Agreement on climate. They successfully demand that a single word in the document be changed, so that the United States and other developed countries will agree that they “should” rather than “shall” undertake economy-wide quantified emission reductions. GDP: $18.2 trillion. CO2: within one-half part per million of 400.

2017: Donald Trump withdraws U.S. support from the Paris Agreement, saying, “This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.” He uses the word “climate” only twice more in his statement, both times dismissively, while using the word “economy” or “economic” nineteen times. GDP: 19.5 trillion. CO2: 405 ppm.

2020: The COVID-19 pandemic leads to a worldwide contraction of economic activity, and energy consumption plummets. On Earth Day, the World Meterological Organization predicts that global CO2 emissions will fall by 6 percent that year, the steepest annual decline since World War II. However, the WMO also calls for a “stimulus package” to help the global economy grow once the pandemic is over—a move that would be sure to accelerate the rebound of CO2 emissions. At the start of the pandemic, GDP is $21.7 trillion, and CO2 concentration is up to 415 ppm.

In the forty-three years between World War II and creation of the IPCC, nothing was done about the slow accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, because governments didn’t recognize it as a problem. Through the following thirty-two years, however, emissions accelerated and catastrophe loomed ever nearer. Yet even with warnings flashing brighter orange and then deeper red, emissions were still left largely unrestrained. That failure resulted, and still results, from the single-minded focus of Big Business and its backers in governments worldwide on limitless wealth accumulation.

IMG_6425

 

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Stan Cox (@CoxStan) is the author of the new book The Green New Deal and Beyond: Ending the Climate Emergency While We Still Can (City Lights, May 5).

 

Pattern for a Hand-Stitched Fabric Face Mask

If you would like a printout of the instructions please click on: face mask pdf 

For those of us who don’t have access to a sewing machine, below are step-by-step photo-instructions on how to make hand-stitched fabric face masks for yourself and your family and friends. Of course it takes longer to put one of these together, but in this age of COVID-19, it is becoming more and more evident that it is crucial for us to wear face masks whenever we venture out whether to go to the grocery store, or for walks etc. So here goes.

These instructions are for a small/medium size face mask that is similar to the sewing machine pattern published by Kaiser Permanente and fits most adults.

According to a recent Washington Post article “if a mask is going to be reused [like this one], it must be kept clean. Layers add additional protection, so three-ply is good.” Also, reports suggest that fabric ties are better than elastic. This pattern — which includes two variations — is designed with those specifications in mind. One of the masks uses three layers of fabric in the design, and both have fabric strips for ties.

 

IMG_6372These masks, as I said, are made using the same pattern. One of them (the top one) is made with muslin cloth in three-ply; and the second grey one is made with quilting fabric. Basically any tight-woven cotton fabric will do for these hand-stitched masks.

The step-by-step instructions given below are for the white, three-ply version. The grey face mask is made just like the white one, but without the third layer of fabric.

Materials needed include pre-washed cotton muslin cloth, a hand-sewing needle, pins, scissors, thread, pencil and ruler.

IMG_6382For the face mask:

  • One piece of fabric measuring 15 1/2″ x 7 1/2″, folded in half (7 3/4″ x 7 1/2″)
  • One piece of fabric measuring 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ (for the third layer insert)
  • Two strips of fabric for the mask ties, measuring 1 1/2″ x 36″

 

IMG_6300We are going to use a Running Stitch to assemble the mask to emulate a sewing machine stitch. This is done by first stitching in one direction like dashes…

IMG_6301… and then going back and filling the blanks between the dashes like so.

IMG_6302 In order to withstand wearing and washing, the seams must be strong, so 10 to 12 stitches per inch are suggested.

 

IMG_6319Start off by marking a 1/4″ seam allowance line on the 7 3/4″ x 7 1/2″ (folded) fabric with a ruler and pencil on the opposite side of the folded edge, and start making the running stitch all the way to the end.

IMG_6320Remember to back-stitch about 3-4 stitches at the beginning and end (like you see here) of the seam for strength.

IMG_6321Finishing the seam.

IMG_6322Finished seam.

 

IMG_6325Now make pencil marks about 1/4 inch deep at the four corners of the 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″(insert) fabric.

IMG_6326Placing the 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ fabric along the stitched seam line and the other three sides of the 7 3/4″ x 7 1/2″ fabric, make small, two-stitch tucks…

IMG_6327… on the four pencil-marked corners to keep the fabric (third layer) insert in place, making sure…

IMG_6328… to attach the insert fabric only to one…

IMG_6330 … of the two layers of folded fabric.

IMG_6333After you’re finished, turn the fabric inside out…

IMG_6334… and flip it to the other side (the side that’s not attached to the insert. Now draw two 1/4″ allowance pencil lines along the two open sides of the fabric and stitch.

IMG_6335Now all four sides are closed. Trim any loose threads and straighten the sides.

IMG_6336With the seam side on top, measure up from the folded edge (bottom) and make pencil marks at 1 1/2″ (mark 1), 1 1/2″ (mark 2), 1″ (mark 3) and 1 1/2″ (mark 4), on each side of the mask.

IMG_6337Starting near the fold line at the bottom, create the first pleat by bringing the first mark to the second mark on both sides of the mask and pin into place. For the second pleat, bring the third mark to the fourth mark on both sides of the mask and pin that into place.

IMG_6338Now stitch the pleats down on each side…

IMG_6339… ensuring to make some extra stitches at the corner of each pleat for strength.

IMG_6340Remove the pins and turn the mask so the seam is on the top and pleats open toward the top of the mask. Mark 7/8” (mark 5) from the top pleat on each side.

IMG_6341Now pin the top pleat to the 7/8″ mark…

IMG_6342… on each side…

IMG_6343… and stitch the 7/8″ pleat down on each side. “This final pleat, according to the Kaiser Permanente pattern, allows the mask to cup over the nose and to hug the side of the face.”

IMG_6345The mask part is now done, and it’s time to attach the 1 1/2″ x 36″ strips of fabric, or straps, that will tie at the back of your head. I made the strips by joining two 1 1/2″ x 18 1/4″ pieces of fabric (like you see above), but you can skip this step if your fabric is long enough. Now mark the center of the strips and make a 1/4″ allowance seam line with a pencil a little over 3 1/2″ long. Also, on the mask, mark the center of the two short sides.

IMG_6348Now pin the center mark of the strip to the center mark on the short edge of the mask, right sides together…

IMG_6349… and stitch.

IMG_6350Fold the strip along the seam line…

IMG_6351… turn the mask around and fold another 1/4″ to the center of the strip…

IMG_6352….. and then double-fold the strip so you are enclosing the edge of the mask and the edges of the strip.

IMG_6353We will be closing the edges of the mask and the edges of the strip by using a hem-stitch. Start by attaching the strip from one edge of the mask to the other.

IMG_6354Press down and fold the rest of the strip in half to make a center line…

IMG_6358… and then double fold again bringing the two 1/4″ folded edges to the center line…

IMG_6359… and enclosing the strip like so.

IMG_6360Here again, at the armpit where the strips attach to the mask, you will make a few extra stitches for strength.

IMG_6361Continue in hem-stitch all the way down the strip…

IMG_6362…till you reach about 2″ from the edge and fold 1/4″…

IMG_6363… fold the strip…

IMG_6365…and close the edges. Repeat this on the other side and the remaining side of the mask with the other strip.

IMG_6367And your mask is ready to wear.

 

IMG_6368 2For the mask using quilting fabric, you fold the fabric in half, right sides together and stitch the seam on the opposite side of the fold just like you did for the three-ply mask.

IMG_6369Turn the piece so the right side of the fabric is facing out and press the seam (if you have an iron) or just press down like so…

IMG_6371… and you’re ready to make the pleats and attach the strips.

IMG_6374Remember to hand wash the masks after every use…

IMG_6384… line dry…

… and stay safe!

Update: To stitch a face mask for a child, use a 15″ x 5 1/2″ piece of fabric.

Climbing the Deadly Curves of COVID-19 and Capitalism

IMG_6241Rolled up on a leftover toilet paper tube, this image represents the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States from March 1 to 14, showing the cumulative number of cases known on each of the days in that period of time.

 

IMG_6243When rolled out on the Sidewalk Museum of Congress (SMoC) located outside 1st District Rep. @RogerMarshallMD’s office in Salina, KS, the cross-stitched image illustrates the disease’s exponential growth. It is 17 feet long. 

 

Each image shows one day’s increase in confirmed cases:

Scan

Scan 1

Scan 2It took me roughly an hour to cross stitch each three hundred squares. As it required more and more hours each day during the first two weeks of the federal non-response to COVID-19, it became evident to me that it was impossible for me to catch up with the spread of the virus as it thrived under the government’s mismanagement of the pandemic.

Scan 3

Scan 4But more than that, the monotony of playing catch-up revealed something much deeper about the curve of unchecked free-market capitalism that has always bent toward corporate greed and goes way way back and is much much longer than this latest trajectory of speedy injustice.

In other words, this image is perhaps timeless and can be applied to every other man-made disaster that preceded it and I would end up in the same position — unable to keep up.

 

Continuing to zoom out in order to capture each day’s new cases:

Screen Shot Mar.9

Screen Shot Mar.10

Screen Shot Mar.11

Screen Shot Mar.12

Screen Shot Mar.13

Screen Shot Mar.14The COVID-19 pandemic could perhaps be seen as mother nature — who can never be tamed — warning us that we need to slow down. If this isn’t the time to stop business-as-usual in its tracks and choose health care as a human right over profit care as a corporate right then I don’t know what is. And if this isn’t the time to embrace a general strike in defiance of the status-quo then I don’t know what is.

 

Climbing the Deadly Curves of COVID-19 and Capitalism

by Stan Cox

This embroidery work illustrates the exponential growth in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States from March 1 through March 14. The daily increase during that period ranged between 30 and 45 percent.

By March 14, it had already become impossible to embroider fast enough to keep up with the exponential growth in cases. The embroidered work, halted at that time, is 17 feet long. Had it been possible to continue for one more week, it would have reached 155 feet in length. In one more week, it would have stretched a quarter mile. 

Given the woefully inadequate testing that has been done in the United States, we can be sure that actual numbers of people infected with the novel coronavirus are several to many times the numbers above. Dealing with this huge and growing catastrophe will be a grueling and tragic experience.

Reverse Gears, Wrong and Right

In the absence of effective action or coordination by the Trump administration, state and local governments in hard-hit U.S. locations are adopting drastic measures aimed at limiting transmission of the virus—policies that only weeks ago would have been unthinkable, given their impact on local economies. And people everywhere are acting on their own, staying home and keeping their money in their pockets.

By throwing growth into reverse in all major economies, these governmental, collective, and personal actions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus have together accomplished what the Paris Agreement and other climate initiatives could not: a reduction in the rate of greenhouse emissions. This was no surprise. Past declines in economic activity, such as the worldwide financial crash and recession of 2008, also brought sharp but temporary emissions reductions.

This sudden, dramatic economic retreat is illustrating on a world scale the well-known, tight link between nations’ or regions’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and their greenhouse emissions. They rise and fall together.* 

The economic growth pursued in normal times by governments worldwide, like the increase in COVID-19 cases, follows an exponential curve. (The adjective “exponential” is too often misinterpreted as “really fast” when it actually indicates multiplicative, accelerating growth.)

While existing in a wholly different time scale—3 percent per year versus 30 percent per day for the virus—the kind of growth required to make capitalist economies happy is as dire a threat to humanity in the long run as the COVID-19 pandemic will be in the short run. 

An unmanaged economic decline triggered by a pandemic is of course a terrible means of reining in greenhouse warming. Many millions of low-income and marginalized Americans will endure horrendous suffering and hardship in the coming months. 

Once this ordeal is finally over, economic activity will be restored, but that should be done in a way that achieves health and economic security for every household in the country, without returning the national economy to its insupportable expansionary path.  

Now it has become apparent that Donald Trump, more concerned about the stock market than the death toll, wants the country to go back to business-as-usual by Easter. The goal, shared by many red-state officials, would be to steepen the curve, not flatten it, getting the pandemic over with quickly so the crippled economy can supposedly get going again.

The business-as-usual route, if followed, would cause unimaginable misery, creating a flood of critically ill patients by May-June, overwhelming the nation’s ICU-bed capacity 30 times over, and causing 2.2 million deaths. 

Fortunately, Trump won’t get his way. State and local governments will press ahead with policies to stem the pandemic. Most likely, the nation will become an unsatisfactory mosaic, as blue state governments continue working to flatten their curves (with no federal help) and red states allow their curves to steepen catastrophically. That will produce no national recovery from either COVID-19 or the economic meltdown for the next year to year and a half.  

Meanwhile, there is already a scramble to restore economic growth by, in part, rescuing ecologically ruinous industries (air travel, cruises, oil and gas). If, post-pandemic, growth is restored, emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other global-warming gases will return to their own dangerous growth trajectories. 

Exponential growth of 3 percent annually, if restored, would double the size of the world’s affluent economies within 25 years, supercharging global warming. (That will happen in the same decades during which the international scientific community says greenhouse emissions must be reduced to zero if catastrophic warming is to be avoided.)

The Curtain Is Ripped Away

Millions in the United States have been rendered especially vulnerable to the coronavirus’s exponential growth by steep declines in workers’ rights, the lack of economic security for low-income and marginalized communities, and, of course, the absence of a universal health-care system. These failures have resulted from the pursuit of exponential growth in private wealth for the affluent minority through exploitation of the majority.  

Both the virus and the economic impacts of efforts to contain the virus are laying bare the need for policies that shift economic power away from the owning and investing classes to the struggling majority and the public good.

It is often said of the suffering and destruction caused by hurricanes and earthquakes that there is no such thing as a “natural disaster.” The trail of sickness and death being left by the COVID-19 pandemic is likewise a highly unnatural disaster, a product of greed and exploitation. in the longer term, material resources and human labor must be directed not toward capital accumulation by the few but rather toward provision of basic needs and a good, healthy quality of life. 

A functional government in Washington, if we had one, could learn from this terrible episode that its primary goal can and must be to achieve economic sufficiency for all and excess for none while at the same time driving fossil-fuel extraction and use down to zero, by law and on a deadline. All of that will require redirecting the nation’s resources away from wasteful and superfluous production toward ensuring economic security and good quality of life for the nation’s non-affluent majority. 

Above all, COVID-19 has torn away the curtain of obfuscation and made the desperate need for publicly funded, universal health care and a robust public health system blindingly obvious. Amy Kapczynski and Gregg Gonsalves (professors of law and epidemiology, respectively, at Yale) recently wrote, “The Medicare for All component has been well mapped out, but less obvious, and just as crucial, is a new infrastructure of care. Envisioning a better, more just, and fairer response to coronavirus points us to what a new future would look like.” 

They continued: “Ten days ago we joined a group of experts in writing an open letter to our federal, state, and local leaders, setting out the vast range of responses that we need to quickly expand our social immunity and protect the most vulnerable. It highlights many of the things that we need to do, but also need to abstract from to bring about a new politics of care.”

Spain is nationalizing all its private hospitals. The U.K. government has announced a plan to pay 80 percent of wages of workers being laid off, to keep them in their jobs whether they can work or not. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is set to send big bailouts to Big Business while just nibbling around the edges of the hard-charging crisis that’s hitting ordinary people.

As our country stumbles its way through the pandemic, Lucy Diavolo, an editor at Teen Vogue, has compiled stories of groups and communities from all over who are moving ahead on a broad front to keep society functioning and prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Also check out the site It’s Going Down, a “digital community center for anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements,” which offers a wide-ranging list of mutual aid groups mobilizing across the country in the time of COVID-19. These efforts are focused on people who are incarcerated, immunocompromised, economically insecure, homeless, isolated, homebound, and/or needing access to food or medicines. They are proliferating across the country, and we all should jump in. That is the kind of growth we need now.

* Most “green growth” strategies depend on the assumption of rapid efficiency increases to reduce demand for energy and materials. But growth always undermines such efficiency gains. Improvements in the quantity of economic output per unit of resource input may impress at first, but they necessarily slow and eventually cease as they bump up against physical limits. As exponential economic growth proceeds, the material and energy resources required to support that growth will inevitably increase. See James Ward, Paul Sutton, Adrian Werner, Robert Costanza, Steve Mohr, and Craig Simmons, “Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible?” PloS One 11 (2016): e0164733. The paper explains why the asymptotic efficiency curve becomes swamped by the exponential GDP-growth curve, concluding that “GDP ultimately cannot plausibly be decoupled from growth in material and energy use, demonstrating categorically that GDP growth cannot be sustained indefinitely. It is therefore misleading to develop growth-oriented policy around the expectation that decoupling is possible.”

Stan Cox (@CoxStan) is the author of The Green New Deal and Beyond: Ending the Climate Emergency While We Still Can (City Lights, May, 2020).

 

Patterns of Occupied Palestine and Kashmir: Part 4 of Uncountable

Aaj Woh Kashmir Hai Mehkoom-O-Faqeer 

Kal Jise Ahl-E-Nazar Kehte Thay Iran-E-Sagheer 

(Today that land of Kashmir, under the heels of the enemy, has become weak, helpless and poor

Once known among the wise as Little Iran)

— Allama Muhammad Iqbal, poet and philosopher of Kashmiri origin, “The Poet who Introduced Language of Resistance in Kashmir,” New Frame, July 11, 2019

Border pattern includes the above couplet by Muhammad Iqbal from the book Armaghan-e-Hijaz (The Gift of Hijaz), in Urdu script

On June 14, 2018 two people representing similar struggles in two different parts of the world were murdered. One of them, 21-year-old Ahmad Ziad Tawfiq al-‘Aassi lived in occupied Palestine, and the other, 50-year-old Shujaat Bukhari lived in occupied Kashmir.

For almost half a century, Kashmir has been ruled from Delhi with the utmost brutality… Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi… are now passionate bedfellows, and Israeli “advisers” have been seen again in recent years in Kashmir renewing the close intelligence and security cooperation that dates from the early 2000s. The revocation of Article 370, which protected Kashmir’s demography by restricting residency to Kashmiris alone and, under a sub-section known as Article 35A, forbade the sale of property to non-Kashmiris, and the planned division of Kashmir into three separate Bantustan statelets, bear hallmarks of the Israeli occupation in Palestine.

—Tariq Ali, “Kashmir on the Edge of the Abyss,” NYR Daily, August 10, 2019

When it comes to heinous atrocities committed daily by Israel on the Palestinians, and  by India on the people of Kashmir, there is zero accountability. The vicious cycle of impunity enjoyed by these two occupying powers has deep roots in their respective exceptionalist ideologies: Zionism and Hindutva. As pointed out by the online news organization MEE, “Modi and Netanyahu quickly bonded in 2014 over their zealous objective to consolidate total and absolute power over their territories. They also recognized in each other the similarity of their ambitions to build supremacist democratic states with a single culture, a single race and a single nation.”

Cross-pollinate Zionism and Hindutva and you get Zionutva — a hybrid fantasy. 

The ultimate goal for Zionism is to slowly but surely establish a Greater Israel; for Hindutva it is to slowly but surely establish a Hindu Rashtra, or a Hindu nation-state. In the process, Zionutva will make second-class citizens of both the Palestinians in historic Palestine and the Muslims and other minorities in India and Kashmir.

This is all bullshit… They [Hindutva] are actually hiding a dark Hindu fantasy of destroying Kashmiri Muslims and reducing them to a minuscule minority so that they can always rule them and they will be enslaved. Overnight their identity, their dignity, their everything has been lost. Kashmir has a 5000 years history as a country, all that goes down the drain…

— Prof. Hameeda Nayeem, “The Protests in Kashmir That India Didn’t Want You to See,” VICE News, August 16, 2019

Zionutva’s a fantasy, because as Prof. Nayeem describes, there can never finally be a Hindu Rashtra, or for that matter a Greater Israel on this dying planet. Before that can happen, the doomsday clock will strike midnight. Israel and India, along with bipartisan support from the United States of America — all of whom have nuclear weapons — have made it clear that they will use their ill-gotten freedom and democracy to deny the occupied Palestinians and Kashmiris their freedom and rights to self-determination. And the people of Palestine and Kashmir for their part have made it even more clear that they will stop short of nothing but getting their Azadi (Freedom) from the occupying fantasies of Zionutva. Their resistance to occupation will continue till the end of everything, or Azadi, whichever comes first.

So who are these faces and places of resistance? These stone-throwers and their brothers and sisters; these children lined up in white shrouds; these women and their sons; these obliterated families; these olive orchards with occupier-felled trees; these warehouses full of rotting apples that never made it to the market because of Kashmir’s communication lockdown; these chests wearing PRESS vests who never made it home?

Or what about these pairs of Palestinians and Kashmiris who were killed by Zionutva forces on the same day, like journalist Shujaat Bukhari and protester Ahmad Ziad; these barricaded farmlands; these artisans of vanishing crafts; these martyred “militants”; these unmarked gravesites; these endangered creatures; these stolen streams, mountains, villages and neighborhoods; these prescient professors like Hameeda Nayeem; these old and young enveloped in a debris of memories; these everything that has been occupied? Slowly but surely.

I have a very profound belief that it is difficult to have peace in the Middle East without minimal accountability certainly for the largest crimes.

— Shibli Mallat, a human rights lawyer, Sharon’s Dark Past

portrait-3Border pattern includes Sabra and Shatila and the sentence “Sorrow is never forgotten” in Arabic script

Estimates suggest that between 750 and 3,500 Palestinians were killed in the Sabra and Shatila massacre between September 16 and 18, following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The massacre was carried out by Phalange, a right-wing Maronite Christian militia with full support and coordination of the Israelis.

According to Shibli Mallat “hundreds of Palestinians were rounded up [and taken to the stadium in Beirut] under the supervision and control and with interrogation of the Israeli forces.”  A cameramen who was there filmed the scene and said that the interrogations took place after the massacre.

Border pattern includes Sabra and Shatila and the sentence “Sorrow is never forgotten” in Arabic script

According to Mahmoud Younis, a dental technician in Shatila, “the militia took us to the sports stadium and put us under the stairs. There were many women and children. Behind the sandbank Israeli soldiers were standing with Lebanese forces. They were together.” Mahmoud was only 12 when the massacre happened and lost his father, uncle, three brothers and three cousins.

18-month-old Ali, along with his mother Reham and farther Saad were killed in an arson attack carried out by Israeli settlers in the Palestinian village of Duma in the Occupied West Bank on July 31, 2015. Ali was burnt alive in the incident, while Reham and Saad succumbed to their injuries in the coming weeks. Ali’s brother Ahmad, now 9, suffered burns on 60 percent of his body and survived the attack.

In a 2017 interview with Al Jazeera, Hussein Dawabsheh, Ahmad’s grandfather said that “when Ahmad goes to take a shower he looks at his body and asks why is my body like that? What shall I do? Why did they do that to me?” 

Ahmed with his grandfather Hussein Dawabsheh. The border pattern for the portraits of Ali, Reham, Saad and Ahmed includes the pigeon that Hussein got for Ahmed, which he named after his mother.

“They,” the Israeli settlers, did this to Ahmad’s body because they can. They, along with Israeli Occupation Forces want to make an example of him, and Ali, and Reham and Saad, and other Palestinian families like them. Otherwise why would they make statements like this today and get away with it: “We will burn you as we did with Dawabsheh’s family?” After all, reports openDemocracy “Less than 9% of the settlers’ attacks committed against Palestinians as well as their properties are punished.”

Whether you’re a journalist or a protester or a farmer or an exporter of farm produce in occupied Palestine and Kashmir, Zionutva strikes you indiscriminately and with uninterrupted impunity. Take for instance these portraits of Shujaat Bukhari and Abdul Hameed Khan in Kashmir and Ahmad Ziad Tawfiq al-‘Aassi and Yusef a-Shawamreh in Palestine:

In a July 2016 BBC News article titled “My Kashmir Newspaper Has Been Shut Down, And I’m Not Surprised,” Shujaat Bukhari, a senior journalist and editor of the English paper daily Rising Kashmir, wrote that “for us these restrictions [imposed by an information blockade] are not new. Since the outbreak of armed rebellion in Kashmir in early 1990, media in the region has had to work on a razor’s edge in what is effectively the world’s most heavily militarized zone… Threats to life, intimidation, assault, arrest and censorship have been part of the life of a typical local journalist.” Two years after Bukhari wrote that article, on the night before Eid-ul-Fitr, he would become one of 19 journalists murdered in Kashmir since 1990.

Border pattern includes the key that symbolizes the Naqba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, and the right to return to their homes

On that same day, on June 14, 2018, in occupied Palestine, Ahmad Ziad Tawfiq al-‘Aassi would die of serious wounds to the head that he had suffered days earlier in Khan Younis in southern Gaza. His death would bring the number of Palestinians killed by occupation forces in the context of the Great March of Return protests to 126, including 2 journalists.

Border pattern includes the edible plant Gundelia

14-year-old Palestinian Yusef a-Shawamreh was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers on March 19, 2014, as he crossed the Separation Barrier to pick Gundelia from his family’s farmland that lies on the other side of the fence. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Gundelia is “a thistle-like edible plant annually harvested at this time of year that serves as an important source of income” for the residents of the village of Deir al-‘Asal al-Foqa in the occupied West Bank where Yusef was from. “Shawamreh was shot when he and two friends… were going through a wide breach in the Separation Barrier.” There has been no justice for the killing of Yusef.

Border pattern includes Kashmiri apples

And Abdul Hameed Khan, a victim of India’s recent assault on Kashmir’s autonomy, tells us that “each year I export about 200,000 boxes of apples in the domestic markets across India. This year, because of the situation, farmers aren’t able to send their produce to market. They don’t know where to send it because communications lines aren’t working.”

Today is the second anniversary of the Intifada — the popular uprising of the Palestinian people. In the past two years over 800 people have been killed, and tens of thousands have been arrested. Because media coverage of the Intifada is incomplete and inconsistent it is difficult to know exactly what the situation really is in Occupied Palestine… Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid and the tear gas the Israeli military uses is made in the United States.

The Michigan Daily, December 8, 1989

15-year-old Ashraf Eid was one of those hundreds killed in the first Palestinian Intifada. There is no record of the day he died.

These faces look out at us from within the debris of these hollowed-out democracies and the uncountable memories of occupation.

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 3 of Uncountable

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 2 of Uncountable

Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Part 1 of Uncountable