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.

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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

 

 

One Pound Capitalism, a Pinch of Democracy, and Leonard Peltier’s Thanksgiving Statement

(Includes a meal brought to you by Discomfort Foods)

I’ve been living on Custer Street in Salina, Kansas since the day I moved to the United States from India in 2000. At that time I had no idea who General George Armstrong Custer was and what he had stood for. Now I do.

On Thanksgiving Day I was in my kitchen here on Custer Street, and I received an email from Prison Radio that included Leonard Peltier’s “Thanksgiving 2019 Statement” read by Mumia Abu Jamal. So I listened to it as I was cooking our Thanksgiving dinner.

Typically, the type and quantity of each ingredient I might use in the presentation of a Discomfort Foods recipe is determined by choosing key statistics and points that are embedded in the story being conveyed and converting that to a measurement or meal design. But listening to the statement inspired me to turn the dinner I was already preparing—with our usual turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes and green beans—into a Discomfort Foods design. This time the discomfort element is to be experienced not through our taste buds, or the wonderful smells of the turkey cooking in the oven, or whatever. It comes from the words of Peltier in the voice of Abu Jamal—two people who are paying the heaviest of prices at the hands of white-freedom. That’s what makes any Thanksgiving meal hard to swallow. And should.

We associate Thanksgiving with the beginning of holidays and good eatin’—things we take for granted. Discomfort Foods challenges that. It isn’t just counter-comfort, It’s also counter-association, trying to replace grandiose associations—of our bloody history, of the present and of the future—with ones that are fact-based and justice-based.

Peltier’s statement:

The year of 2019 is coming to a close, and with it comes the day most Americans set aside as a day for Thanksgiving. As I let my mind wander beyond the steel bars and concrete walls, I try to imagine what the people who live outside the prison gates are doing, and what they are thinking. Do they ever think of the Indigenous people who were forced from their homelands? Do they understand that with every step they take, no matter the direction, that they are walking on stolen land? Can they imagine, even for one minute, what it was like to watch the suffering of the women, the children and babies and, yes, the sick and elderly, as they were made to keep pushing West in freezing temperatures, with little or no food? These were my people, and this was our land. There was a time when we enjoyed freedom and were able to hunt buffalo and gather the foods and sacred medicines. We were able to fish, and we enjoyed the clean clear water! My people were generous, we shared everything we had, including the knowledge of how to survive the long harsh winters or the hot humid summers. We were appreciative of the gifts from our Creator and remembered to give thanks on a daily basis. We had ceremonies and special dances that were a celebration of life.

With the coming of foreigners to our shores, life — as we knew it — would change drastically. Individual ownership was foreign to my people. Fences?? Unheard of, back then. We were a communal people, and we took care of each other. Our grandparents weren’t isolated from us! They were the wisdom keepers and story tellers and were an important link in our families. The babies? They were and are our future! Look at the brilliant young people who put themselves at risk, fighting to keep our water and environment clean and safe for the generations yet to come. They are willing to confront the giant, multi-national corporations by educating the general public of the devastation being caused. I smile with hope when I think of them. They are fearless and ready to speak the truth to all who are willing to listen. We also remember our brothers and sisters of Bolivia, who are rioting, in support of the first Indigenous President, Evo Morales. His commitment to the people, the land, their resources and protection against corruption is commendable. We recognize and identify with that struggle so well.

So today, I thank all of the people who are willing to have an open mind, those who are willing to accept the responsibility of planning for seven generations ahead, those who remember the sacrifices made by our ancestors so we can continue to speak our own language, practice our own way of thankfulness in our own skin, and that we always acknowledge and respect the Indigenous linage that we carry.

For those of you who are thankful that you have enough food to feed your families, please give to those who aren’t as fortunate. If you are warm and have a comfortable shelter to live in, please give to those who are cold and homeless, if you see someone hurting and in need of a kind word or two, be that person who steps forward and lends a hand. And, especially, when you see injustice anywhere, please be brave enough to speak up to confront it.

I want to thank all who are kind enough to remember me and my family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for continuing to support and believe in me. There isn’t a minute in any day that passes without me hoping that this will be the day I will be granted freedom. I long for the day when I can smell clean fresh air, when I can feel a gentle breeze in my hair, witness the clouds as their movement hides the sun and when the moon shines the light on the path to the sacred Inipi. That would truly be a day I could call a day of Thanksgiving.

Thank you for listening to whomever is voicing my words. My Spirit is there with you.

Doksha, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Leonard Peltier Star.

One Pound Capitalism, a Pinch of Democracy, and an Impeachment

(includes a recipe brought to you by Discomfort Foods)

In February 2018 on Fox News, Laura Ingraham ended her interview with former CIA director James Woolsey by asking him if the United States continues to “mess around in other people’s elections.” To which Woolsey, as though tasting the tasty lie in his mouth, replied:

“Welllllllll aummmm yum yum yum yum yum… only for a very good cause, in the interest of democracy.”

The United States has been interfering in foreign elections since World War II. And our government’s foreign policy has always been about sabotaging other people’s lives and their environment in furtherance of its geopolitical interests. Policy has not been aimed at furthering a “good cause,” and it certainly has not been “in the interest of democracy.” 

For example, in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, the Bush Administration and the EU pumped millions of dollars into Fatah’s campaign to ensure its victory. Fatah lost that election and Hamas won. And before the dust had settled on that defeat of US meddling, the Bush administration had already started making plans to overthrow the democratically elected Hamas government.

In a 2008 investigative article, Vanity Fair reported that it had “obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan [a Fatah strongman], and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power.”

The assault on Gaza has not waned. While we here in the U.S. were glued to our screens watching the first day of impeachment hearings looking into Trumpian extortion aimed at manipulating the 2020 election, news was coming in from Gaza of Israeli forces killing dozens including 7-year-old Amir Rafat Mohammad Ayad.  

Im-Peach-Mint Quid Pro Quobbler 

(This is an updated version of an old-fashioned recipe for peach cobbler) 

Quobbler filling ingredients:

1.687 cups warm water

4 teaspoons imli (tamarind)

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

4.375 cups, peeled and sliced peaches

1 teaspoon salt

Quobbler batter ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup milk

Served with:

fresh mint leaves

vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

(cooking directions at the end of article)

Why I chose these ingredients in their respective measurements for the recipe design:

1.687 cups water equals 81 teaspoons, which conveys the findings of the Assistant Professor of International Relations at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong, Dov Levin, who revealed that between 1946 and 2000 the United States participated in 81 “partisan electoral interventions” around the world. This of course does not include the country’s numerous coups and invasions.

The original recipe called for 3/4 cup granulated sugar. I substituted that with 4 teaspoons imli (tamarind) to convey the fact that this is the fourth impeachment hearing in the country’s history. I chose imli because the first two letters ‘im’ conveniently prefix peach; as a Hindi word, it symbolizes the United States’ own meddling in foreign elections past, present and future; and the imli fruit has a very sour taste, communicating the tart irony of today’s politics: that in the crimes under examination in the impeachment hearings, America finds itself a victim at home of the same kinds of crimes it has committed abroad.

4.375 cups of peaches equals about 70 tablespoons, which in the recipe conveys the roughly 70 years that the U.S. has spent interfering in other people’s elections.

IMG_5918

The sweet quobbler batter making up the base remains true to the classic cobbler recipe, except I substituted granulated sugar with brown sugar to emphasize how almost always it’s the non-white people of this world who pay the price for our government’s intrigues. While baking in the oven, you can see the base slowly enveloping the im-peach filling, much like the predicament of our own ill-gotten and directly threatened democracy that is being artificially held together by a fake sense of sweet freedom.  

What started off as Russiagate has quickly evolved into Ukrainegate, so I added a teaspoon each of chili powder and salt and a few sprigs of fresh green mint leaves to add a few more articles of tongue-twisting tastes to challenge the status quobbler.

IMG_5939 

We had some friends over for dinner yesterday and I served them the quobbler for dessert as we played some gin rummy. And here are some reactions I got:

“It challenges the senses. Pushes you into unchartered territory. It doesn’t coincide with any expectations. Unfamiliar.” 

“The heat (from the chilly powder) creeps up on you. Metaphorically speaking, we keep going through this impeachment thing and it keeps getting hotter and hotter in your throat.”

Cooking directions: 

Soak the imli in the warm water for about 1/2 hour. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, squeeze as much of the pulp as possible out into the water. Pour the imli water along with the chili powder into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook (about 40 minutes), stirring occasionally till the sauce thickens and measures 1/4 cup.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Put the imli sauce, sliced peaches and salt in a saucepan and cook on medium-high heat for about two minutes, stirring. 

Cut the butter into small pieces and add to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place the dish in the oven till the butter melts. Remove from oven.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder and sugar. Stir in the milk till just combined. Pour this mixture into the baking dish over the butter and spread it evenly to cover the bottom of the dish.

Spoon the peaches over the batter and bake for 35-40 minutes. Decorate with mint leaves and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. 

Enjoy during the remainder of the Im-Peach-Mint hearings with friends and family.

bon appétit!

SMoC: Who Says Kansas Is Flat?

See also on LA Progressive

IMG_5556The Sidewalk Museum of Congress (SMoC) located outside 1st District Rep. Roger Marshall’s office at 200 E. Iron Ave., Salina, KS, 67401 is an anti-status-quo palette of dissent against the status quo of establishment politics and its allied mainstream media, and of elite museum spaces. This resistance space has every color and no logo. SMoC is the palette, the media, the planter, and the engaging (or not) audience harvester.

 

IMG_7800SMoC communicates through everything that enters its space — through chalk, through grains, music, signs, spoken-word, the homeless pedestrians’ footsteps, embroidery floss, poetry, @RogerMarshallMD’s office window display, car horns, the finger, the hand-wave, the passing freight train, empty glasses, the smells of the nearby flour mill, American Pie, climate, shadows, silence…

 

IMG_5539 copySMoC plants justice in opposition to arrogant white exceptionalism…

 

IMG_5548

IMG_5547 copy… and to the hypocrisy of ag-man Roger Marshall when it comes to the rights of meat packing plants and the market vs the rights of the meat packers who work in them, and other farmworkers.

 

IMG_8589 copyIt plants justice to the Representative’s vomit-inducing tweets such as “Another victory for the @realDonaldTrump administration and our increasing border security!”

 

IMG_4648 2It plants food justice through “discomfort food” and Crystal’s recipe design for American Pie inspired by her question “But what is America?” (recipe drawing by Crystal).

 

IMG_7751America is the land layered with European settler-annihilators that built slave farms on the mainland, whose children built plantations in fertile Central America, whose children built military bases on national parks in Arizona, built them on indigenous territories.

 

IMG_5608SMoC plants justice for the victims of U.S. domestic and foreign policies via songs like “Livin’ in the Wasteland of the Free” by Iris DeMent, as played by Alex and Isaiah…

 

IMG_5590

IMG_5607… and via Angela’s chalked-pink words “NO PEOPLE IN CAGES,” reinforced in blue a few days later by Abbi.

 

IMG_5570

IMG_5574It plants justice for the American citizens of Puerto Rico who still haven’t recovered from superpower neglect after Hurricane Maria…

 

IMG_7848 copy… and for the thousands of Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans who are fleeing to the U.S. from the ravages of decades of U.S. coups, intervention, CIA-backed death squads, economic policies, all of which have rendered their countries unlivable.

 

IMG_5606It plants the names of refugees like 21-year-old Alejandro Gomez Vasquez and 34-year-old Edyn Castro whose remains were found in Pima, Arizona. They are just two of thousands who have died in the deadly Sonoran Desert while trying to seek asylum in the U.S.

 

IMG_5594It plants justice for disoriented families, running, scattering from the roar and shadows of helicopters that are part of the U.S. border patrol’s inhumane Prevention Through Deterrence tactics; running in the night from rattlesnakes, from jumping chollas; running, holding non-reflecting black water bottles.

 

image1It plants justice for asylum-seekers through Piyush’s hand-written words and his “discomfort drink” Toppled Water Glasses.

 

IMG_5603It plants justice for the people of Flint, Michigan. Still. Through John’s spoken-word:

Dirty Water…

—by John E. Epic

Flowing from my tap

Dirty water

Quite toxic

It’s a tragedy, but no mishap

And I’m not drinking it.

Spraying from my shower

Dirty water

While politicians fill their pockets

Soon will be the hour

When we no longer take it.

Children drinking from the faucet

Dirty water

Lead blood droplets

Making ‘em sick and nauseous

and they shouldn’t be drinking it.

Underground pipes under my feet

Dirty water

Carried to impoverished streets

Purposely concealed ignorance

Ignored with apathy

This is what the next generation inherits

And I’m not drinking it.

Neglected planet getting hotter

Dirty water

Natured slaughtered

Dirty water

Future of fire

For our sons and daughters

Dirty water

Old white men behind false altars

Dirty water

Progress slowed by lobbyists and crooked lawyers

Dirty water

Subsided farming drains the well

Dirty water

Anger and hate begin to swell

Dirty water

Who is to blame

Dirty water

All of us should feel ashamed

Dirty water

For the guilt is owned by people with a  common name

Dirty water

Human beings are at fault

Dirty water

Our will has been sold and bought

Dirty water

And now we’re caught

Ashamed

Pointing fingers to blame

Rendering nothing taught

And soon

Half the world will be in flames

And flowing from my tap

Dirty water

Quite toxic

Not a tragedy or mishap

And I’m not drinking it

I’m not going to sit here

And take it

It is time

To right our wrongs

Heal our past crimes

To no longer prolong or continue to permit

The deconstruction of our planet

Dirty water

I’m not drinking it…

 

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