a time when many of us are confined to our homes, I can recommend a
Netflix film that will put a stop to any complaints or feelings of
The Endless Trench is a Spanish film which tells the story of Higinio (played by Antonio de
la Torre) hiding in his own home for thirty years, and successfully
evading his Francoist enemies with heroic help from his wife Rosa
film begins in 1936 at the start of the Spanish Civil War. Living in
an Andalusian village, the newlyweds are forced to make a temporary
subterranean living space beneath the floor of their living room.
Higinio had been a Republican village councillor and
must hide from a fascist execution squad who had assassinated the
other Republicans in his village.
by Rosa, his hiding continues for 33 years. After amnesty was granted
in 1969 to these topos (moles), Higinio emerges into the
Endless Trench directors, Aitor Arregi, Jon Garaño and Jose Mari
Goenaga were encouraged to make the movie with the rise of the far
right and the Vox Party in Spain. They wanted their film, released
last year, to contribute to the political debate there. Areggi said,
“Our film proposes that everyone hides things from each other, and
that these conflicts are always there, even if they’re beneath the
surface as its message—its warning—is universal.”
does not arrive politely. Its weapons are subterfuge, violence and
fear. Its practitioners, like General Franco, are ‘career
psychopaths’. And it’s worth noting that Higinio was not a
communist or a revolutionary. He had been a Social Democrat.
are living in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. Set inside a US Air
Force unit in World War II Italy, Heller's novel sets out a devastating
critique of the rackets carried out, ostensibly, as part of a
nation’s war policy.
distribute my plum tomatoes under an assumed name,” said Milo, “so
that Colonel Cathcart can buy them up from me under his assumed name
at four cents apiece and sell them back to me the next day for the
syndicate at five cents apiece. They make a profit of one cent
apiece. I make a profit of three and a half cents apiece, and
everybody comes out ahead." “Everybody but the syndicate,”
said Yossarian. “The syndicate is paying five cents apiece for plum
tomatoes that cost you only half a cent apiece. How does the
syndicate benefit?” “The syndicate benefits when I benefit,”
Cummings is our Milo, Boris Johnson is Squadron Commander Major Major
Major, always in when he's out and out when he's in. The
long-suffering Yossarian is you and me.
is George Monbiot in today's Guardian: "When the government did
at last seek to mobilise the system, crucial bits of the machine
immediately fell off. There is a consistent reason for the multiple,
systemic failures the pandemic has exposed: the intrusion of
corporate power into public policy. Privatisation, commercialisation,
outsourcing, and offshoring have severely compromised the UK’s
ability to respond to a crisis ….at the end of the chains are
manufacturing companies, some of which have mysteriously been granted
monopolies on the supply of essential equipment. These private
monopolies have either failed to meet their contracts, or provided
defective gear to the entire NHS, like the 15 million protective
gloves and the planeload of useless surgical gowns that had to be
Milliband has praised Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour
Party: “I am proud to be Labour again. He's brought back clarity,
pride, principle to the work of opposition and I think it's been
really good to see." He went on to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s
leadership as years of ‘vacillation’ and “betrayal’.
father Ralph Milliband would not have agreed and could have been referring to his son when he
wrote “ The Labour Party have always conceived their proposals and
policies as a means, not of eroding— let alone supplanting— the
capitalist system, but of ensuring its greater strength and stability
… Far from seeking to surround themselves with men ardent for
reform and eager for change in radical directions (They) have been
content to be served by men much more likely to exercise a
restraining influence upon their own reforming propensities … Pious
references to the Labour Party being a ‘broad church’ which has
always incorporated many different strands of thought fail to take
account of a crucial fact, namely that the ‘broad church’ of
Labour only functioned effectively in the past because one side –
the Right and Centre – determined the nature of the services that
were to be held, and excluded or threatened with exclusion any clergy
too deviant in its dissent.”
that Jeremy Corbyn has been summarily excluded and put back in the church pews, David has hinted at a return to UK politics (he was Foreign
Sec, pro-war and responsible for collaborating with the US on
renditions) At the moment he is in New York as CEO of the
International Rescue Committee. Mind you with his $1 million salary he will have to take a pay cut.
UK Labour Party has launched a new purge of the left and the
David Miller of
Bristol University, as well as Becky Massey and Pam Page of
Brighton PSC received
from the party within hours of each other.
Miller is quoted as having said, "We
are obviously not going to get a proper investigation of this by
Comrade Starmer or by Lisa Nandy – who have been in receipt of
money from the Zionist movement, from Trevor Chinn.”
has been revealed that Trevor Chinn donated £50,000 to Keir Starmer
and that he had earlier supported Tom Watson. He then dabbled with
the Lib Dems before returning to financial support for
the Labour Party.
PrivateEye ran an interesting account of his political
history which all started with the £1/2 million he gave to Tony
Blair ‘back in the day’. Well we seem to be well and truly 'back
in the day'.
LP still send me messages from the new/old leadership even though I
resigned from the Party two months ago. I guess it takes time to sort
themselves out – Bless ‘em.
recently spoke to my friend, Oha Maslo, in Mostar. I would be there now
with him and his family, but am stuck here ‘self-isolating’.
blogs are my way of breathing out my anger against what is supposed
to be our government.
recently, they gave no figures for Covid-19 death rates in care
homes. Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland,` admitted the government
"chose" not to test people for coronavirus in these homes
while the pandemic spread. "We needed to make a choice
about what to do with the capacity the government had back in March.”
Johnson has said he "bitterly regrets" the coronavirus
crisis in care homes and that the government was "working very
hard" to tackle it. A "huge effort" was going on and that there had been a "palpable improvement" in recent days.
He added that "it has been enraging to see the difficulties
we've had in supplying PPE to those who need it, but we are now
engaged in a massive plan to ramp up domestic supply”.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that testing for all care workers and
residents would now be available, regardless of whether they are
showing symptoms of coronavirus. He went on to claim “the
performance on testing has been unbelievably positive”.
Nutt, managing director of Accurocare which runs homes in Oxford and
Basingstoke, takes a different view. “The left hand doesn’t know what
the right is doing,” he said. “It has been a complete system
failure … We don’t know when we are going to get test kits …
How many more people have to die?”
workers in care homes and hospitals who are trying to keep us all
safe and alive could face “deportation” if the Home Office
decides to withdraw their right to remain.
is getting very personal. My brain surgeon was Nigerian, my heart
surgeon Egyptian, the nurse who visited me most days, even when
hope Johnson and his ministers take a long drop into Hell and with no
NHS there to ease their fall.
is very hard to calculate the coronavirus death rate in the UK
because of government lies and prevarications. This is as accurate as
I can be and would welcome other peoples investigative and math
seems to me that, to date, the coronavirus death rate in the UK is one
death for every 1,330 people.*
this to Greece which stands at one death in every 68,000 and Oha’s
country, Bosnia Herzegovina, at one death in every 11,000.
is the result of Boris Johnson’s ‘huge effort’.
minister, George Eustice, insisted, "We don’t accept the
caricature that we took an approach that was wrong. I think now we've
got to focus on the here and now."
him to say that loudly over the graves of the unnecessarily dead.
I have taken the ONS' figure of 50,000 Covid-19 deaths in UK to date.
Pause, remarks on the Corona Crisis by Ken Knabb, can be found in
full here. But we are still living in the ADG (Attention Deficient
Generation) so here is an abbreviated version. By all means read the
original. I guess many of you have time on your hands!
this Coronavirus crisis had taken place fifty years ago, we would
have been reading about it in newspapers or sitting in front of the
TV with scarcely any opportunity to respond.
the mass media remain powerful, their impact has been weakened.
first time in history that such a momentous event has taken place
everyone on earth aware of it at the same time.
And it is playing out while much of humanity is obliged to stay at
home, where they can share
their reflections with others.
the usual “market solutions” are incapable of solving this
crisis, governments are now feeling obliged to resort to
implementation of solutions previously scorned as “unrealistic”
or poor, native or foreign, anyone can spread this disease, so
anything less than free healthcare for all is idiotic.
businesses are closed and millions of people are thrown out of work
the usual unemployment benefits are inadequate and policies like
universal basic income become unavoidable.
usual suspects are still in charge, particularly in the United
States, where the first to be rescued were the banks and
corporations, with several trillion dollars pumped into the financial
point of corporate bailouts is that certain industries are supposedly
essential. But the fossil fuel industries need to be phased out as
soon as possible. And there’s no reason to save the airlines. They
could be restarted with the same workers, with the losses being borne
by the previous owners.
corona crisis has exposed many governments as criminally negligent,
but most of them have attempted to deal with it in a serious manner
once they realized the urgency of the situation.
has unfortunately not been the case in the United States, where Trump
first declared that the whole thing was just a hoax that would soon
blow over and that the death count would be “close to zero,” and
then, after doing virtually nothing for more than a month, he was
forced to admit that it was actually a serious crisis, announced that
thanks to his brilliant leadership “only” around 100,000 or
200,000 Americans would die.
months into the pandemic there is still no national stay-at-home
order, no national testing plan, no national procurement and
distribution of life-saving medical supplies, and Trump continues to
downplay the crisis in a frantic effort to open things up soon enough
to revive his reelection chances.
of the most creative responses have been carried out by ordinary
people on their own initiative — young people doing shopping for vulnerable neighbors, people making and donating
protective masks that the governments neglected to stockpile, health
professionals offering safety tips, tech-savvy people helping others
to set up virtual meetings, parents sharing activities for kids,
others donating to food banks, crowdfunding to support small
businesses, or forming support networks for prisoners and
crisis has vividly demonstrated the interconnectedness of people all
over the world.
always, those at the bottom bear the brunt — people in prisons or
immigrant detention centers or living in crowded slums, people who
can’t practice social distancing and who may not even have
facilities to effectively wash their hands. While many of us are able
to stay at home with only mild inconvenience, others are unable to
remain at home (if they even have a home) or to share so many things
via social media (if they even have a computer or a smartphone)
because they are forced to continue working at “essential jobs,”
under dangerous conditions and often for minimum wage in order to
provide food, utilities, deliveries, and other services for the
people who are staying home.
because essential is ‘essential’ these workers now have powerful
leverage and are starting to use it. As the dangers and stresses
build up, their patience has given way, beginning with wildcat
strikes in Italy.
the United States protests and strikes have broken out among workers
at Amazon, Instacart, Walmart, McDonald’s, Uber, Fedex, grocery
workers, garbage workers, auto workers, nursing home workers,
agricultural workers, meat packers, bus and truck drivers.
and other healthcare workers have protested medical equipment
shortages; workers at GE have demanded repurposing jet engine
factories to make ventilators; homeless families have occupied vacant
buildings; rent strikes have been launched in several cities; and
prisoners and detained immigrants are hunger-striking to expose their
particularly unsafe conditions.
for what it actually is (a con game that enables a tiny number of
people to control everyone else in the world through their possession
of magic pieces of paper).
have a chance to see our lives and our society in a fresh light. We
come to realize how much we miss certain things, but also that there
are things we don’t miss. Many people have noted it’s much
quieter, the skies are clearer, there’s scarcely any traffic, fish
are returning to formerly polluted waterways, in some cities wild
animals are venturing into the empty streets. Those who like quiet
contemplative living are hardly noticing any difference. People are
getting a crash course in cloistered living, with repeated daily
schedules almost like monks in a monastery.
suspect that our political leaders sense that the longer this goes
on, the more people will become detached from addictive consumer
pursuits and the more they will be open to exploring new
of the first things that many people have noticed is that the social
distancing, however frustrating it may be in some regards, is
ironically bringing people closer together in spirit. As people get a
new appreciation of what others mean to them, they are sharing their
thoughts and feelings — personally via phone calls and
emails, collectively via social media.
are also coming up with memes, jokes, essays, poems, songs, satires,
skits. It is interesting to compare these memes with the popular
expressions of another crisis just over fifty years ago — the
May 68 Graffiti in France -
a marvelous mix of humor and insight, anger and irony, outrage and
1968 crisis wasa
series of protests and street fights by thousands of young people in
Paris and other French cities inspired by a wildcat general strike in which more than ten
million workers occupied factories and workplaces,
shutting down the country. When you look at the graffiti, you can
sense that these people were making their own history. They were not
merely protesting, they were exploring and experimenting and
celebrating, and those graffiti were expressions of the joy and
exuberance of their actions.
are using this pause to investigate and critique the system’s
fiascos, and they are doing this at a time when practically everyone
else in the world is obsessively focused on the same issues.
can take part whenever they wish. They can post their own ideas, or
if they see some other idea or article they agree with, they can
email the link to their network of friends or share it on Facebook or
other social media, and if other people agree that it is pertinent,
they may in turn share it with their friends, and so on.
International Labor Organization has reported that nearly half of the
global workforce is now at risk of losing its livelihoods - a level
of social disruption far more extreme than the Great Depression of
the 1930s. I have no idea what will come of this, but something is going to give.
a different kind of society - a creative, cooperative global
community based on fulfilling the needs of everyone rather than
protecting the exorbitant wealth and power of a tiny minority - is
now a necessity.
is an opportunity for a new beginning. We may one day look back and
see it as the wake-up call that managed to bring humanity to its
senses before it was too late.
have been watching an interview with David Simon, creator of HBO's, “The Wire”. Set in the US city of Baltimore, it is a
powerful indictment of US capitalism at the turn of the 21st century. In Simon’s own words, “We have a
system indifferent to people, to their morality. Instead of Olympian
Gods throwing lightning bolts at people for the fun of it, our
institutions – the police, the schools, the elections and so on –
are the Gods with Capitalism as the ultimate God. Capitalism is
Simon argues that the series, which ran from 2002 – 2008, exposed “a war against the underclass
fought by the people who have against the people who have not.”In
this world, he said, there is rising indifference to the growing numbers of those who are “increasingly worthless.”
Baltimore of The Wire exposes an economic model that doesn’t
need as many people as it once did for the 1% to accumulate their huge
wealth. “Our institutions”, Simon argues, “have become utterly
unfeeling to the people they are supposed to serve.”
Moving from mythical Greece to the 14th
Century and on to today, a London
cardiologist told Ambrose
Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor of The Daily
every mistake that could have been made about Covid-19 was made. He likened the
care home policy to the 1346 Siege of Caffa when
the Mongol army
catapulted plague-ridden bodies over the walls of
that Crimean city.
on this analogy, Evans-Pritchard
was to let the virus rip and then "cocoon the elderly". “You
don’t know whether to laugh or cry when you contrast that with what
we actually did. We discharged known, suspected, and unknown cases
into care homes which were unprepared, with no formal warning that
the patients were infected, no testing available, and no PPE to
prevent transmission. We actively seeded this into the very
population that was most vulnerable.
We let these people die without palliation. The
official policy was not to visit care homes – and they didn’t
(and still don’t). So, after infecting them with a disease that
causes an unpleasant ending, we denied our elders access to a doctor
– denied GP visits – and denied admission to hospital. Simple
things like fluids, withheld. Effective palliation ... withheld.”
this was going on, Boris Johnson
and his ministers told us that
there was no danger of outbreaks of coronavirus in care homes. Hospitals were bullied into releasing patients into these
homes. Tens of thousands of elderly people have died as a result of this calamitous policy.
Now we are being told there is no danger of outbreaks of coronavirus in schools and the government is
teachers and parents into sending their children back to school.
and old, rich and poor – everyone is at risk of catching, spreading
and potentially succumbing to the coronavirus. But just as in
risk of ill
for the elderly and for
Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
course, the government cannot admit to their role in what Simon called a "war against
the underclass". They are not going to stand
before the TV cameras and say, "We don’t care a toss
about you." In place of that, they move
on to the next
the perjuring politicians continue to work from home having been gifted their generous bonus, and Boris
Johnson’s old school, Eton, remains closed until the autumn. Their indifference towards human life is not total. They look after their own.