Today marks six months since global health authorities were informed of a disease outbreak in Wuhan, China that would later be named COVID-19.
In this brief period of time, the number of cases has ballooned to 10 million, with half a million people dead. But “the worst is yet to come,” warned World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday. “Globally, the pandemic is actually speeding up.”
Public health experts have watched in despair as governments throughout the world allowed the virus to spread, abandoning basic public health precautions and sacrificing the lives of the elderly and the sick in the cause of expanding corporate profits.
The tone has been set by the United States, where the Trump administration has abandoned efforts to contain the pandemic, effectively embracing the policy of “herd immunity.”
This has produced a catastrophic resurgence of the pandemic throughout the country. On Monday, the United States had over 44,000 new cases, up from 19,000 on June 8. The weekly average of cases has grown to 39,000, up from a low of 21,000. Cases are increasing in 32 states, with hospitals in Arizona, Florida, and Texas near their capacity.
The global upsurge of the pandemic is the predictable and inevitable result of the back-to-work campaign, stemming from the ruling class’s demand to protect profits, not lives, with the claim that “the cure can’t be worse than the disease.”
The WSWS Autoworker Newsletter will assist autoworkers and other workers in establishing rank-and-file safety committees. Email us at email@example.com to learn more .
Just days after Fiat Chrysler (FCA) workers at two Detroit area assembly plants shut down production over concerns about the spread of COVID-19, anger continues to grow over unsafe conditions and the cover-up of new cases by management and the United Auto Workers union.
Workers at Jefferson North and the Sterling Heights assembly plants set up rank-and-file safety committees to protect the lives of workers in the plants and to coordinate action with workers across the auto industry and in other factories and workplaces. In response to this courageous action, the committees have been contacted by workers throughout the US for information on how to set up rank-and-file safety committees in their own plants.
One inquiry came from a Kansas City Ford worker, who wrote that workers at his plant “do not trust the corporation and union right now about these coronavirus issues” and would like to “know how we can form a Rank-and-File Safety Committee in our plant. We haven’t been given updates from Ford and UAW after we heard rumors about employees being sent home due to having this virus. We need this system out here ASAP.”
The Jefferson North and Sterling Heights rank-and-file safety committees issued six demands, including immediate notification of any cases of COVID-19, the closing of the factory for at least 24 hours after a case is confirmed for deep cleaning of the entire plant, social distancing when entering and exiting the plant and during all breaks, and the halting of production for 10 minutes every hour to enable workers to take off their masks, rest and cool off. They also called for regular, universal testing and the right to refuse to work, without retaliation from management or the UAW, if conditions are not safe.
In response to this growing initiative by workers, corporate management and the UAW have launched a campaign to threaten workers with termination if they stop production to protect their lives.
Jaber Al Jaberi, an Iraqi member of parliament, told The National that the CTS raid on Kataib Hezbollah was an attempt to exert state authority and a test to see what the reaction might be.
Al Jazeera's Simona Foltyn, reporting from Baghdad, said Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service seized at least 10 rockets during the operation, which was "carried out an in effort to pre-empt an impending rocket attack on the Green Zone and Baghdad International Airport, both of which house US troops".
"Subsequently, dozens of armed Kataib Hezbollah fighters arrived in the Green Zone and laid siege to one of the buildings belonging to the Counter Terrorism Service, demanding the release of the detainees, claiming they were arrested illegally without an arrest warrant," she said.
Iraqi law prohibits local militias from receiving directives from abroad. Since their establishment, pro-Iranian militias in Iraq have committed war crimes, violated Iraqi law, and become a threat to the security of the state and its citizens.
The “Hizbullah Brigades” issued a statement accusing Mustafa al-Kadhimi of cooperating with the United States and that while he served as Iraqi intelligence chief, he helped the United States assassinate Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The brigades promised that they were lying in wait for him for his deeds.
Even before he was appointed prime minister, Kadhimi denied these accusations, and he met with Lebanese Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah in order to receive a “Kosher certification,” which would allow him to be appointed Iraq’s new prime minister.
Congressional pressure is building to reprimand Turkey for its military campaign against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.
The Turkish military is carrying out two offensives—Operation Claw-Eagle and Operation Claw-Tiger—aimed at rooting out Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
The operation has struck rural PKK hideouts as well as populated areas, including the Makhmour Refugee Camp and the Yazidi community of Mount Sinjar.
“I strongly condemn the Turkish air strikes & ground operations near Kurdish & Yazidi civilian areas,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D–N.Y.) announced in a Friday statement. “This type of reckless endangerment of civilian lives is unacceptable, especially for a NATO ally.”
Engel, the outgoing head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stop the operation “immediately.”
Rep. Jim Cooper (D–Tenn.) added on Saturday that he was “disturbed” by the operation. Cooper represents Nashville, a city with a large Kurdish community.
The lawmakers’ comments came after a widely-shared video showed an alleged Turkish bomb striking a lake while a family played nearby. Local journalist Jîl Şwanî claims that the video showed his brother and nephew in Kunamasi, a town in Sulaymaniyah Governorate.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, appointed by Congress to investigate human rights worldwide, condemned the offensive for its effects on Yazidi genocide survivors.
To make matters worse, Turkey launched an air campaign dubbed Operation Claw-Eagle on June 15, striking suspected Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories of northern Iraq. It launched ground invasion Operation Claw-Tiger two days later, putting Turkish commando boots on Iraqi ground.
A day after Turkish airstrikes began, Iran struck areas of the Kurdistan Region close to its border, targeting suspected positions of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) and PKK. Media affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reported that the Turkish and Iranian airstrikes were conducted with coordination.
Iraq’s government released a statement last week calling on Turkey to end its operations. Turkish ambassador to Iraq Fatih Yildiz has been summoned twice by Iraq's foreign ministry to answer for his country's air and ground campaigns. The Iraqi government has yet to release a statement condemning the violation of sovereignty by Iranian artillery, though it did summon the Iranian ambassador to answer for the strikes on June 18.
Despite condemnations of foreign operations by the governments of federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, the strikes have the consent of both, Iraqi security analyst Husham al-Hashimi told Rudaw English on Friday.
“Baghdad and Erbil have both given Turkey and Iran the green light to conduct airstrikes,” Hashimi said.