The Socialist Equality Party condemns the fascistic police raid on the home of data scientist Rebekah Jones, which came in response to her work exposing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida and in schools across the US.
Florida state police barged into Jones’ home Monday with guns aimed at her and her family. They seized her phone, computer and several hard drives, preventing her from continuing to publish data on COVID-19 outbreaks.
Jones tweeted Friday that she has learned that Circuit Judge Joshua Hawkes was appointed by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in September, and one of his first acts as a judge was to sign the search warrant that led to the seizure of her technology. DeSantis is among the most prominent backers of US President Donald Trump, who has spearheaded the ruling class policy of “herd immunity” through the opening of non-essential businesses and schools.
Jones told CNN that flash drives seized by the police contained proof that Florida officials “were lying in January about things like internal reports and notices from the CDC,” as well as “evidence of illegal activities by the state.”
This brazen act of suppression of the rights to free speech and access to information must be opposed! The working class in the US and internationally must come to the defense of Jones and all whistleblowers, and fight for the full transparency and reporting of all data on COVID-19!
A former employee at the Florida Department of Health, Jones is among the most prominent data scientists in the US. Using advanced geographic information system (GIS) technology, Jones helped create Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard to carefully track the spread of the pandemic in the state. Shortly thereafter, she was fired in May for refusing to manipulate data to support DeSantis’ escalating back-to-work and back-to-school campaigns.
After being fired from her position, Jones went on to help create and oversee Florida COVID Action and The COVID Monitor, the most comprehensive databases for tracking COVID-19 infections and deaths in Florida and in K-12 schools across the US, respectively.
Jones was targeted due to her role with these projects, and for being an outspoken critic of DeSantis and Trump. She has consistently warned against the reckless policy of reopening schools amid the raging pandemic.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday:
Wednesday, December 9, 2020. Will the world survive the stupid (stupid because they were born that way and the stupid who are paid to be stupid)? Who knows. Oil fields on fire in Iraq and more protesters killed, Medea Benjamin runs for Miss Army Recruiting 2021, and much more.
The new day starts with Alex Longley (BLOOMBERG NEWS) reporting, "Oil held near $49 a barrel after two tiny Iraqi oil wells were attacked and markets globally rose on the prospect of additional U.S. stimulus. Brent futures rose 0.2%, flipping between gains and losses. Civil defense teams are trying to put out a blaze at the wells in the Khabbaz field, local police said, though the nation’s oil ministry said the fields were only pumping 2,000 barrels a day at the time of the attack." This attack takes place, S&P GLOBAL notes, "a week after an attack on one of the tanks in the small northern Siniyeh refinery temporarily set it ablaze." The Islamic State claimed credit for the bombing last week but Pakistan's THE NATION notes, "At the moment, no organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack." Elena Pavlovska (NEW EUROPE) adds, "Deputy oil minister Karim Hattab said in a statement that efforts to contain the fire are underway. The field produces about 25,000 barrels per day, officials said. Technical teams isolated the two burning oil wells and there was no impact on output, sources from the state-run North Oil Company said." NEWS EUROPE Tweets:
On top of the near-term demand uncertainty, the market is also facing some supply risks. Libya is continuing to increase output and Iran is preparing to raise production in the hopes that a Joe Biden presidency will ease some sanctions.
U.S. gasoline stockpiles jumped by 6.44 million barrels, while distillates inventories climbed by 2.32 million barrels, the API reported. Crude supplies are forecast to have dropped by 1.04 million barrels last week, according to a Bloomberg survey before the Energy Information Administration figures.
Staying with the cause of war -- er, topic of oil, Laura Hurst, Salma El Wardany, Grant Smith and Alfred Cang (BLOOMBERG NEWS) report:
Iraq is poised to sign a multibillion-dollar contract with China ZhenHua Oil Co., a bailout from Beijing for the cash-strapped government which will receive money upfront in exchange for long-term oil supplies.
The deal is the latest example of China, via state-controlled trading companies and banks, lending to struggling oil producers such as Angola, Venezuela and Ecuador, with repayment in the form of oil barrels rather than cash. This year’s crash in oil prices has hammered Iraq’s budget and the government has failed to pay teachers and civil servants on time.
The Iraqi agency in charge of petroleum exports, SOMO, picked ZhenHua after asking oil traders for bids, according to people familiar with the matter. Cabinet spokesman Hassan Nadhim said on Tuesday there had been “several offers” and they were being studied before Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi makes the final decision.
Not everyone shares BLOOMBERG's enthusiasm. Analyst Sajad Jiyad Tweets:
Meanwhile protests continue in Iraq which means attacks on protesters continue. In the KRG? ARAB NEWS reports:
After a first protester was shot dead in the town of Chamchamal, in Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Kurdistan Region, on Monday afternoon. Another two demonstrators died overnight in deadly rallies in two other districts, according to a local official and the Baghdad-based Iraqi Human Rights Commission.
On Tuesday afternoon, at least three more protesters died in two other locations, local officials, medics and the Commission told AFP.
Protests over unpaid salaries spread on Tuesday to at least six towns near Sulaimaniya, with angry crowds setting ablaze political parties’ headquarters and local government buildings.
Chloe Cornish and Asmaa al-Omar (FINANCIAL TIMES OF LONDON) count 8 dead, not six. The journalists quote teacher Adil Hassan who hasn't been paid by the government in months and who states that Iraqi forces ''are being violent, using rubber bullets and throwing tear gas." MIDDLE EAST ONLINE explains:
Protests over unpaid salaries spread on Tuesday to at least six towns near Sulaimaniya, with angry crowds setting ablaze political parties' headquarters and local government buildings.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets in and around Sulaimaniya for several days, demanding their salaries be paid and criticising the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which controls the Sulaimaniya area.
The semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq has been hit by a nationwide economic crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Iraq's oil revenues have sunk.
Changing topics, it's been announced Pope Francis will visit Iraq this coming March.
Qaraqosh is near Mosul. Residents there express hope over the Pope's planned visit.
Ben Johnson (UNION OF CATHOLIC ASIA NEWS) notes Pope Francis would be the first pope to visit Iraq. AFP quotes Nineveh's Adiba Henna stating, "We're all so happy. We have been waiting for this for so long. . . . Every time he visits a country, we think, why doesn't he come to Iraq? Aren't there Christians in Iraq? This is the greatest, most beautiful thing he could do."
UK's EXPRESS floats the visit as heralding the end of times and monkeys around with some bits from Revelations to justify their hypothesis.
Let's leave Iraq for a moment to go over to COMMON DREAMS -- which raised money off the Iraq War and then ran from it. At COMMON DREAMS, the stupidity is always flowing. That's how you get Norman Solomon -- the crusty, old whore -- claiming Michele Flournoy's diminishing shot at Secretary of Defense is a sign that progressives moved mountains. Stupid Norman. What hurting Michele's chances, first noted here but whispered about for years in DC, was Joe Biden's flirting with Michele. I know of no affair between the two and did not state that they had an affair. (I do know of affairs Joe's had since he married Jill.) But they flirted and their relationship was always questionable. We noted it here many times but did so last month and a Senator (Democrat) called and asked if that was the woman at the hearing when . . .? Yes, it was. Senate Democrats and Republicans have had questions about the nomination ever since. Many witnessed the flirtation themselves. Do we want a Secretary of Defense whose relationship with the president raises flags? That's what's hurting her chances currently.
But keep pretending, if only for one moment, Norman, that you aren't impotent.
Speaking of the erectile dysfunctional, Robert Reich contributes "Biden Says Hell Take On Inequality. Good! You Need to Hold Him to It." Why? Because we all know sad Robert won't. He kisses the anus of power. Don't you love the lazy who try to tell you what to do with your time?
Is there anything worse? Possibly. Possibly Medea Benjamin and her penile roll dog Nicolas J.S. Davies (CODEPINK gave him an honorary vagina, I understand) who want to float Jeh Johnson for Secretary of Defense -- instead of Michele Flournoy. I have many friends in the State Dept -- friends who serve through each administration. At one point, in 2004, when there was yet another propaganda operation aimed at the Iraqi people that was going to fail because these people pimping propaganda are so stupid, I said that, that they were stupid and they were trying to push something that they could do at a much slower pace and much easier and then I stopped. What? How? Nope. It's not my job to sell your war for you. Medea and Nicolas want to be part of the war machine and are advocating for who should be Secretary of Defense.
Now they're advocating for Jeh Johnson so we should note that Catherine Garcia (THE WEEK) has already reported (at midnight) the following:
Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told Reuters on Tuesday that he will not join the administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
Johnson was in the running for several Cabinet positions, including secretary of defense and attorney general, people close to the Biden transition team said. While he hasn't announced his pick yet for attorney general, Biden has tapped retired Gen. Lloyd Austin for the top role at the Pentagon.
In an email to Reuters, Johnson confirmed that he will "not be in the Biden administration," and referred to the "news over the last 24 hours," likely referring to Austin's selection. Prior to running the Department of Homeland Security from late 2013 to early 2017, Johnson was general counsel of the Air Force and later the Department of Defense.
So it was a stupid suggestion -- like so many of Medea's 'brilliant' ideas -- she is the Blair Warner of the revolution. Does that mean Jodie is Boots St. Clair? At any rate, Medea's an idiot. She's wasted time writing a column (with a man, she always needs to have a man at her side except when she's on a program insisting she's a feminist) that is pointless for numerous reasons. One, it's not her job to help select the enforcer of empire. Two, it was a stupid idea that the person in question immediately rejected. Third, did she forget she's supposed to be anti-war?
A year long plus of protests have taken place in Iraq. Iraqis are standing up to their corrupt government that the US government installed. US troops are still stationed in Iraq. The CIA's largest outpost is Iraq. But Medea can't be bothered with Iraq.
Are we not supposed to notice that? Do we just stop protesting something because TV news doesn't cover it? Is that what we do? Do we act as though it's a matter of life and death in 2005 and then yawn and look the other way as the war continues years later?
I don't respect whores. That's all Medea is.
While Medea writes her fan fiction, Bill Van Auken (WSWS) tackles real issues:
President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday announced his nomination as secretary of defense of General Lloyd Austin, a former Iraq war commander who retired as the chief of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) which oversees all US military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
This choice is being hailed by Democrats and the corporate media as historic in that Austin would be the first African American to lead the Pentagon.
Behind the attempt to make Austin’s race a symbol of socially progressive change, the nomination represents a definite continuity with the Trump administration, which also chose a recently retired general for the top civilian post at the Department of Defense. In Trump’s case it was Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis (ret.), who preceded Austin as CENTCOM commander.
Austin’s nomination, like that of Mattis, breaches the National Security Act of 1947, which stipulated that an ex-officer would have to wait 10 years (changed by Congress in 2008 to seven years) after leaving the military before taking the position of secretary of defense. Overriding this provision, which was meant to defend civilian control of the military, requires the approval of a waiver by both houses of the US Congress.
In the case of Mattis, 17 Democratic senators voted against granting a waiver, while Senator Jack Reed, then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted in favor, while insisting, “I will not support a waiver for future nominees.” Reed and his fellow Senate Democrats have thus far failed to raise the same objections to Austin that they did in 2017 with the Mattis nomination.
The Atlantic magazine published an article by Biden on Tuesday in which he defends his appointment of Austin as “part of our diverse national-security leadership team that reflects the lived experiences of all Americans.”
He wrote: “He was the first African American general officer to lead an Army corps in combat and the first African American to command an entire theater of war; if confirmed, he will be the first African American to helm the Defense Department—another milestone in a barrier-breaking career dedicated to keeping the American people secure.”
That the commander of the Army corps that destroyed Iraqi towns and villages, leaving untold casualties in its wake, was African American was hardly a comfort to the Iraqi victims of Washington’s criminal invasion, nor to those elsewhere in the “entire theater of war” commanded by Austin.
A huge number of 'leftists' on their podcasts in recent weeks have been slamming -- often as 'identity politics' -- any efforts to raise issues regarding the pandemic. They insist that everyone is impacted equally. They do that because they're isolated and stupid. No, everyone is not impacted equally.
00:03:26 Dr. Patricia Jones Blessman:
Well, one of the first issues connecting the pandemic to violence is the stay at home orders. We know in any times when holidays or vacations, whenever families are spending more time together that those are usually times when you see an uptick in the amount of domestic violence that gets experienced. So, whether it’s due to a quarantine or working from home, families are basically essentially stuck at home together in a relatively small area, and this can create sort of a perfect storm or petri dish for increased violence. Globally, we’ve seen an uptick in reporting. It used to be that one in three women would report some incidents of physical abuse or some harassment and now globally it seems like it’s one in two worldwide.
Interestingly, the amount of reported intimate partner violence has actually decreased. But we suspect that that may be due to the inability, some of the barriers to actually reporting it, because if you’re stuck together in a house in a relatively small area then there’s not enough privacy to be able to make that kind of phone call. So we’re concerned about that. Some of the reasons we’re concerned about that is because the number of murder/suicides where the person, the receiver of violence usually has been killed along with the person who perpetrates it. So we see a steep increase in the murder/suicide rate.
We know that travel restrictions can impose or impact escape or safety plans and reasonably so, there’s a fear of entering a shelter because of the potential exposure to COVID.
00:05:34 Michele Goodwin:
So these are some significant challenges then that women are facing during COVID who are at home. To be clear, this crosses the socioeconomic spectrum, isn’t that right?
00:05:46 Dr. Patricia Jones Blessman:
Correct. We know that domestic violence impacts women or hits women of all socioeconomic statuses, so rich, poor, doesn’t matter. We know that women across the board are impacted by that.
00:06:01 Michele Goodwin:
And isn’t it true then that the abusive situations that you speak to, they affect women in the household but they also affect children, too, and I know that you are and have been an incredibly significant psychologist in relation to matters that affect families and that also affect children. What are some of the concerns there that mothers, women, aunts, grandmothers have to be concerned about?
00:06:28 Dr. Patricia Jones Blessman:
Well, first of all, children I’ve spent a large part of my career working with children who have been sexually abused or physically abused in their homes, and so the pandemic creates a situation where children are not…because they’re not able to go to school and not able to go visit, perhaps the auntie or the grandmother or the play mom or a safe person that they might talk to, to let them know what’s going on with them or even just to go to school that they are more at risk and this is a much more dangerous time for them.
There was a case here, I mean it has gotten extreme. There was a case here in Chicago where a child was in a Zoom class and the abuser wanted her…had her engage in oral sex in…it was recorded on a Zoom class. Presumably, the abuser didn’t know that that was what was happening. But those are the kinds of things that children can be exposed to or that can be happening to children, unbeknownst to us.
00:07:51 Michele Goodwin:
And in that case, there are other kids then who also then saw that and traumatized by that as well.
00:07:57 Dr. Patricia Jones Blessman:
Exactly. Because they watched. They saw it and knowing that their classmate went through that experience. And of course whether that was a godsend or a lucky thing that it happened to be caught, that it was on tape, that we were able to catch the perpetrator and bring some justice for that child but not every child is going to be in that kind of situation. Not every child is going to have the ability to be able to report what’s going on and to document what’s happening to them.
00:08:36 Michele Goodwin:
And in situations like that, what’s the recommendation? So as a psychologist, are there places that children can turn to that you recommend and that women can turn to that you recommend just for our listeners?
00:08:50 Dr. Patricia Jones Blessman:
But we also know that abusers will try to keep them socially isolated and so I know that this is going to be challenging but finding creative ways to find some privacy and some space to be able to reach out to either a hotline or someone that’s trusted in their community, someone that they feel comfortable talking to, that it becomes even vitally important to have check-ins or wellness checks with your village, with the people around you that you’re close to. I know there’s a Facebook post that was going around where it’s if you say certain keywords that your girlfriends knew something was going on and to check in on you and to come by or to stop by. So people have had to get very creative about how we want to keep our sisters and our children safe during this time.
00:09:53 Michele Goodwin:
I’m so glad that you raise that because the reality is that a lot of
women put the mask on every day, right along with their makeup and
domestic violence is a real issue. Economic violence happens to be a
real issue and sometimes there are women that are encountering both and
it’s across the socioeconomic spectrum. Sometimes it’s even women who
are in college, who are in medical school or who are in law school. So
just know that we hear you and that we see you.
The following sites updated: