Tuesday, July 20, 2021

No, we were never all in this together

At the start of the pandemic, endless PSAs aired on TV insisting that we were all in this together.  No, we weren't.  That was always a lie and it was meant to mollify us and encourage us not to protest or make demands.  

The latest proof that we were not all in this together comes via Kroger.  Cordell Gascoigne (WSWS) reports:

Over the course of the past year, while more than 35 million Americans have contracted coronavirus and 625,000 have died, corporate share values have risen to their highest levels in history. One company which has done particularly well is grocery chain Kroger. According to its website, its total sales were $132.5 billion in 2020, up from $122.3 billion in 2019. Excluding fuel and dispositions, total sales grew 14.2 percent.

This money has not been funneled into higher wages or better safety precautions for Kroger workers but has been funneled back into the pockets of Kroger’s shareholders. Last year, Kroger returned $1.9 billion to shareholders, repurchased $1.32 billion of shares in 2020 under its board authorizations, and increased the dividend by 13 percent, from $0.64 to $0.72 per year. 2020 was the fourteenth consecutive year of dividend increases, resulting in a payout of $534 million.

At the same time, Kroger Chief Executive Officer (CEO) William Rodney McMullen received a compensation package of more than $20.6 million, a $6.4 million raise—an increase by more than 45 percent—from the previous the year. According to WallMine.com, McMullen’s estimated net worth is a minimum of $152 million. This includes over 182,880 units of Kroger Company stock—valued at over $130,677,724.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:

 Tuesday, July 20, 2021.  A Baghdad suicide bombing leaves many dead and injured.

A bombing in Iraq has left mass fatalities.  The target?  Moqtada al-Sadr's home base in Baghdad, Sadr City.  The slum that remains a slum because Moqtada grand stands a great deal but has done nothing to improve the quality of life of his followers.

Sebastian Usher Tweets:

#Iraq : Atrocity in #Baghdad - bomb in crowded market on eve of Eid in Sadr City - at least 18 people killed #بَغْدَاد


Photos showing the aftermath of the deadly bombing in Baghdad's Sadr City. #Iraq #Baghdad

Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains, "Children and women were among the dead and wounded, according to health and security officials. The blast took place in the Wahailat outdoor market in Sadr City, a predominantly Muslim Shia neighborhood in the east of Baghdad."  BBC NEWS observes, "It was the deadliest bombing in Baghdad in six months" while REUTERS notes, "In April, the Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a market in Sadr City, Baghdad's main Shi'ite Muslim neighbourhood, that killed four people and wounded 20."  GULF TODAY notes a more recent bombing, "In June, 15 people were wounded when a bomb placed under a kiosk in another Sadr City market detonated. In April, at least four people were killed in a car bomb attack in Sadr City. That blast was caused by an explosive device attached to a parked car at the market."  Three major attacks in four months?   In Sadr City alone?  No, ISIS was never vanquished.  The lost territory they held but terrorists groups don't usually take over cities.  They generally hide in the shadows and wait.  Which is what ISIS is back to doing and has been for some time now.  Meanwhile, how does Moqtada go out in public right now having yet again failed to protect his followers in the section of Baghdad named after his family?

NDTV reports, "In the panic and chaos of the attack, screams of terror and anguish filled the air. When the smoke cleared, human remains lay strewn amid scattered sandals, market produce and the charred debris of stalls."


A suicide bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded dozens in a crowded market in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad reut.rs/3BmJUHB
Suicide attack in Iraq kills at least 35 – News

At least 35 are dead with at least sixty more left injured and the tolls on both could continue to rise.  AFP notes, "In a message posted to its Telegram channel, the militant group said a suicide bomber named Abu Hamza al-Iraqi detonated his explosive belt in the middle of a crowd in Sadr City, an eastern Baghdad suburb on Monday night, killing more than 30 and wounding 35 others."  BBC NEWS' Nafiseh Kohnavard Tweets:

IS propaganda channels have published this pic saying that this is the suicide attacker who detonated his vest yesterday in a crowded market in Baghdad’s Sadr City killing more than 35 people mainly Shia civilians. He looks so young.

RUDAW notes:

The head of the United Nations on Monday condemned a bombing in a crowded Baghdad market that killed at least 35 people and injured more than 60.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the horrific bomb attack targeting civilians at a market in Al-Sadr City today,” read a statement from Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. 

“This deadly attack ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday is a reminder to us all that the scourge of terrorism knows no bounds,” he added.

ZHYAN ENGLISH notes others condemning the bombings:

US, UK, UN, EU, Germany, other foreign missions condemn Baghdad’s Sadr City bombing #ZhyanEnglish #UK #US #EU #UN #Germany #Baghdad #Iraq #SadrCity #ISIS

4:58 AM · Jul 20, 2021

On the topic of Moqtada al-Sadr, Mina Aldroubi (THE NATIONAL) reported two days ago:

The withdrawal of populist Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr from the country’s political process is no “surprise”, experts told The National.

Iraq has been beset by a wave of public-service disasters, the most recent of which include a hospital fire that killed 92 people and a national power cut in the blazing summer heat.

“This is not the first time and, to many, not a surprise that Moqtada Al Sadr is coming out and claiming to leave the political process,” said Renad Mansour, a senior research fellow at the Chatham House think tank in London.

“He’s done this in the past and even before elections, and it’s part of his vision of being above politics, to some extent.”

Mr Al Sadr said last week that he would boycott Iraq’s upcoming elections to distance himself from the government.

The cleric is known to be one of Iraq’s most influential religious figures, heading a political bloc in Parliament that was the biggest winner of the 2018 elections.

Sairoon has significant influence and gained 54 seats in Parliament, the most won by any party or bloc in the 329-member legislature.

In the past, Mr Sadr has withdrawn from frontline politics without dismantling his powerful movement.

He now appears to want to distance himself from publicly recognised political appointments among his Sadrist followers and remould himself as someone above the fray of day-to-day political turmoil.

Iraq’s ongoing, multi-sector collapse of public services came to a head earlier this month when the national grid suffered a catastrophic failure. Electricity production plunged from 20 gigawatts – already 10 gigawatts below peak demand – to eight gigawatts.

But since 2019, armed groups linked to political parties backed by Iran have resisted a national protest movement, killing at least 500 people.

“This is a time where people are angry at the government, and so this is what he does,” Mr Mansour told The National.

Turning to the US, Patrick Martin (WSWS) weighs in on US President Joe Biden's leadership or 'leadership' thus far:

When Biden took office, 400,000 people were dead from the COVID-19 pandemic, while millions were unemployed. Just months earlier, every city, town, and village in America had seen protests in opposition to police violence.

Biden marked the six-month anniversary with brief remarks presenting American society in glowing terms. “For all those predictions of doom and gloom six months in, here’s where things stand,” he said. “Record growth, record job creation, workers getting hard-earned breaks.” He added, “Put simply: Our economy is on the move, and we have COVID-19 on the run.”

Summing up his prognosis, the US president proclaimed: “It turns out capitalism is alive and very well.” The truth is that the policies of the Biden administration have entirely failed to resolve the social crisis in America and they cannot, because they are based on the framework of American capitalism.

The pandemic, far from being “on the run,” is undergoing a new resurgence. Since Biden took office, an additional 225,000 people have died from the pandemic. All indications are that by the winter, with the new surge accompanying the spread of the Delta variant, the death toll under Biden will have exceeded that under Trump.

The policies of the Biden administration have been driven by the interests of Wall Street and the super-rich. This is why, despite occasional criticisms of Trump’s callous and anti-scientific response to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden has pursued the same policy of restoring corporate profit-making by forcing workers back to work and children back to school as quickly as possible, regardless of the dangers to their lives and health.

The following sites updated: