Although the predicted fall surge of the pandemic is only beginning, many rock and pop musicians already have had to cancel concerts because of COVID-19 infections and related concerns. Because live performances represent a far bigger share of musicians’ income than royalties from online music streaming do, these cancellations can be a source of financial hardship. The artists are coming face to face with the fact that the current political setup can neither safeguard human health nor promote a flourishing culture.
The most famous musician to be affected recently is Ringo Starr, the former Beatles drummer, who began a North American tour in September. On October 3, Starr announced that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and was canceling a week’s worth of dates. On October 10, he announced that he had tested negative and would resume the tour. Three days later, however, Starr tested positive again and decided to cancel the remainder of his tour. At age 82, the drummer is at high risk for severe outcomes of the virus, but the tour cancellation presumably will not cause him financial difficulties.
Many musicians are far less fortunate. Animal Collective, an indie rock group whose music combines psychedelia and electronic influences, recently canceled their fall concert dates in the United Kingdom and Europe because of “touring obstacles related to COVID and the economy,” according to their post on Instagram. The band already had canceled shows during the past year after three of its members became infected with the coronavirus. They thus “lost large amounts of the income that sustains us and our families.”
With notable frankness, the band wrote that they faced “an economic reality that simply doesn’t work and is not sustainable.” Citing inflation, currency devaluation and increased shipping and transportation costs, they concluded, “We simply could not make a budget for this tour that did not lose money even if everything went as well as it could. ... We are choosing not to take the risk to our mental and physical health with the economic reality of what that tour would have been.” With evident chagrin, the band apologized to its fans and asked for their understanding.
Other musicians have been sidelined by Long COVID. Car Seat Headrest, a band known for its loose, introspective and moody style, recently canceled a West Coast tour and an appearance at When We Were Young Fest in Las Vegas because of singer–songwriter Will Toledo’s persistent symptoms. After his coronavirus infection, Toledo developed histamine intolerance, which, in his words, entails “heavy nausea, fatigue, dizziness and a buzzing nervous system.” This syndrome is a common presentation of Long COVID.
“After another month of struggling to regain my health, I am currently forced to face the fact that my body lacks the basic levels of functionality necessary to leave the house most days, let alone embark on a tour,” Toledo tweeted.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:
Monday, October 31, 2022. On Halloween, the snapshot is a plethora of treasures, a grab bag of them.
Starting with Eric London (WSWS):
The decision by the entire congressional slate of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) members and DSA-backed representatives to rescind a letter to Joe Biden calling for peace talks with Russia increases the likelihood of direct conflict between the US and Russia and raises the risk of nuclear war.
The DSA’s endorsement of US imperialism’s war against Russia in Ukraine is not a break with the DSA’s history. On the contrary, it is the latest (and most dangerous) iteration of the organization’s pro-imperialist political essence.
Less than 24 hours after 30 of its members published the letter to Biden last Monday, the House Progressive Caucus issued a statement not only rescinding the letter, but calling for prosecuting the war “until Ukrainian victory.” A week has passed the letter signed by DSA members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Cori Bush (D-MO) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was withdrawn, and none has made any statement about the cowardly reversal or even tweeted on the subject.
On October 25, the WSWS contacted Ocasio-Cortez’s press office and asked, “Does Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez oppose the decision by the leadership of the Progressive Caucus to withdraw the letter calling for a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine? If so, we’d like to give her the chance to say so on the record.” The congresswoman’s office acknowledged receipt of the question but did not give an answer.
DSA-endorsed Ilhan Omar has spoken publicly about the 24-hour reversal, claiming she withdrew her signature from the original letter because of “timing” and because “the letter was a response to intel we were getting” in late June, evidently from the Pentagon and CIA, about the danger of escalation. This explanation is disingenuous, since the danger of nuclear war has only increased, with Biden declaring earlier in October that the world is on the verge of “Armageddon.” In reality, the DSA slate withdrew their signatures because Nancy Pelosi told them to on behalf of Wall Street and the military.
Significantly, Omar responded to questions about her reversal by attacking opponents of war. In a series of tweets, she said those who claim the DSA members are “war mongers” for rescinding their signatures are merely promoters of Russian “internet disinformation.”
Omar re-tweeted a thread by a Huffington Post reporter denouncing “the fringe [for] attempting to suggest… that progressives who support Ukraine—the vast majority, from Bernie to Ilhan & AOC—are war-mongers.” She also pledged to vote for additional military spending for the war, even as the Biden administration does next to nothing to provide support to tens of millions of Americans confronting rising inflation, poverty and the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in their schools and workplaces.
Bernie Sanders, (I-VT), another DSA-backed candidate, was asked about the initial letter calling for negotiations: “I don’t agree with that, and they don’t agree with it apparently,” he said, perhaps not intending the insult.
The call for war until “Ukrainian victory” is indistinguishable from the position of the most extreme elements of the military-intelligence apparatus of which the DSA is a part. In fact, their silence places them to the right of figures like Ro Khanna (D-CA), a member of the Progressive Caucus who represents Silicon Valley, who defended the letter and called for negotiations.
The only semi-official attempt at damage control by a DSA leadership body on the 24-hour reversal was issued by the DSA’s International Committee via its Twitter account on October 28.
If we could, we'd quote it in full. It's riveting and it's an important -- especially when it goes into the historical aspect.
You can also refer to Eric London's Twitter feed.
There's a lot to cover every day so, for the record, we're not interested in the wealthy bisexual who let what he hoped was rough trade into his highly secure home for a tryst only to be attacked. So sorry, let others fret over that story. Yes, it is my neighborhood but, as a neighbor said on Saturday, "We've all told our sons not to go in that home when his wife's not there." Yes, we have and for good reason.
Speaking of rollover boys, Denny Kuccinich. I love how Aaron Mate is never weighed down by facts or reality. Which is how he can take THE GRAYZONE and lie that Denny Kay "led Congressional opposition to the Iraq War." That would be news to so many who lived through that reality. But of course Aaron Mate's War On Women demands that he erase all their efforts and award wishy-washy Denny Kay with a year book credit he never earned.
US House Rep Maxine Waters was the chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus, for example, not Denny. Along with Maxine, Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee led on that. Not Denny Kay.
Denny Kay caved on Iraq and did so at the 2004 DNC convention. I know, I was there and got stuck cleaning up his mess. A Denny Kay supporter wailing at how Denny had just betrayed Iraq and I was left to calm her down and explain to her that a Kucinich always caves.
Years later, Dennis would loudly and repeatedly -- and rightly -- say that ObamaCare was not universal care for all and that he would not vote for it. But Barack needed his vote so they took a little planetrip together and 'brave' Denny, when he got off the flight, noted he would now be voting for ObamaCare. On the flight, Barack had told him how they could redistrict Denny out of office. Stupid Denny then went along with Barack only for them to redistrict him out of office.
That's brave Denny Kay, that's the man Aaron pimps today. By the company they keep, please remember, by the company they keep. And also remember that Denny's done nothing in the nearly ten years since being out of Congress . . . except cash those checks from FOX NEWS.
At some point, Aaron Mate might need to explain why he repeatedly ignores women and strips them of their accomplishments. Then again, he's on the faux left and they never have to face much reality, do they?
Like Aaron, Twitter thinks it can get away with a great deal.
Note the second Tweet above.
As we pointed out on Saturday, Twitter is censoring this image. (click on "VIEW TWEET" above if you don't believe me):
Of that photo, they say, "The following media includes potentially sensitive content. Change settings"
And that's the sad world that we live in, that photo is censored.
AFP notes, "A gas tanker exploded in Baghdad on Saturday night killing at least nine people and injuring 13 others, security forces said, adding that it was an accident." KURDISTAN 24 adds, "Prime Minister Mohammad Shia’ Al-Sudani and President Latif Rashid have both asked for an immediate probe into the deadly incident." Why a probe? Maybe they're not sure if it was an accident. NEWS 84 MEDIA states, "Officials said on condition of anonymity that it was unclear at this time whether the explosion was due to a technical fault or a targeted attack. The blast came two days after Iraq’s parliament approved a new cabinet in a long-awaited vote, which was described as a major breakthrough in de-escalating ongoing political tensions in the country."
In other news, Chenar Chalak (RUDAW) reports:
The mother of a former opposition bloc head in the Kurdistan Region
parliament told reporters on Sunday that medical reports have concluded
that her son was “poisoned” and that he is receiving treatment abroad,
in light of repeated remarks from the bloc denying the seriousness of
The New Generation Movement (NGM) last week alerted Kazim Faruq, former head of the bloc, that he must stop accepting his salaries as an MP and “return the money which he has received for the last year and seven months” due to his inactivity.
Faruq’s family responded to the comments of the NGM, telling Rudaw and other media outlets that the reason the MP has not been seen publicly is because he has been receiving treatment in hospitals abroad for several months, without specifying where he is being treated.
“We took him [Faruq] abroad… and they [foreign doctors] told us your son has been poisoned,” Akhtar Ahmad, Faruq’s mother, told reporters in front of her house in Sulaimani on Sunday, noting that the family cannot reveal where the MP is because they can no longer tell “who is an enemy and who is a friend.”
Twitter has several Tweets about this development including:
The family of Kazim Faruq, a member of Kurdistan parliament from New Generation’s ticket, today told reporters that their son has been poisoned.— Karwan Faidhi Dri (@KarwanFaidhiDri) October 30, 2022
The family and some of his colleagues believe that the New Generation may have done it but the party has denied it.
📸: file/Facebook pic.twitter.com/nGQVKkNAhM
Of course, if you go back a month, you'll also find this:
3-Former NG caucus head Kazim Faruq resigned last winter w/o much explanation but appears to have had a medical issue. He had been banned from the grounds of parliament since March 31, 2021 after he threw his shoes at Speaker Rewaz Fayaq during an argument over the session agenda— Winthrop Rodgers (@wrodgers2) September 20, 2022
Meanwhile, THE PEOPLE'S DISPATCH notes The October Revolution:
This October marks the third anniversary of the 2019 popular protests in Iraq. On Tuesday, October 25, a large number of people gathered in the Tahrir square in capital Baghdad and paid homage to the people who were killed in the protests. They raised slogans in support of what has been termed by the protesters as the Tishreen movement.
The countrywide protests in 2019, rooted in the long-term grievances of people against successive governments, went on for months. Before the global COVID-19 outbreak forced them to end, the protests were successful in forcing the then government led by Adil Abdul Mahdi to resign, putting the ruling classes on the defensive and pressing for reforms.
Caretaker prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who came to power in May 2020 after months of uncertainty, had promised to deliver on some of the major demands raised by the protesters, including rebuilding the economy and punishing those guilty for the deaths of over 600 people including protesters and others.
Three years down the line and with a new government on the horizon, none of these promises have been met. This is likely to lead the vast majority of pro-reformers pushing for their demands in the coming days.
Economic and political aspects of the protests
The 2019 protests were one of the largest in Iraq’s history since the 2003 US invasion. Long-term grievances regarding inefficiency of successive administrations and the widely perceived corruption among the ruling establishment were at the center of the public anger. In their slogans, the protesters repeatedly denounced the failure of the system created under the supervision of the US occupation in tackling the issues faced by the people, such as rising poverty, unemployment, and basic services delivery.
At the time of the protests, the official rate of poverty in the country of approximately 40 million people was rising. Even before the pandemic hit in 2020, the poverty rate had risen to above 31%. Oil-rich Iraq witnessed an unprecedented rise in poverty during the COVID-19 outbreak. While the government claimed that the poverty rate was coming down after the pandemic, a large number of Iraqis are still forced to live a life as paupers.
Since oil revenues make up the bulk of Iraq’s federal budget – around 96% – the economy remains vulnerable to market fluctuation.
Iraqi youth, who make up the majority
of the population, were at the center of the 2019 protests. The
unemployment rate among the youth – fresh graduates from the university
and others – was above 40% at the time of the protests.
The majority of Iraqis were forced to live without the basic amenities such as power, sanitation, and health care. Protesters claimed that these failures on the economic front were the result of inefficiency and corruption of the ruling elite. They also pointed to structural reasons such as the system of Muhasasa or sectarian quota based on distribution of political posts for this inefficiency and corruption.
We'll wind down with this from Ms. Magazine: