What happens after the Covid-19?


What happens after the Covid-19?

20 Jan 2020 – USA has first confirmed imported case – From China.

20 Jan 2020 – COVID-19 included in Statutory Report of Class B Infectious Diseases and Border Health Quarantine Infectious Diseases in China – Measures to Curtail: Temperature Checks, Health Care Declarations, Quarantines – Instituted at Transportation Depots – Laws of China – Wildlife Markets Closed – Captive-Breeding Facilities Cordoned Off.

22/23 Jan 2020 – WHO decides not to yet declare the outbreak a PHEIC.

23 Jan 2020 – China observes Strict Travel Restrictions.

24 Jan 2020 – First Report of case in Europe – France.

30 Jan 2020 – WHO declares 2019 nCov (former name of COVID-19) outbreak a PHEIC – under International Health Regulations (2005).

11 Feb 2020 – The Virus and the Disease it causes officially named – The Novel Coronavirus named ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)’; The Disease it Causes named ‘COVID-19’.

27 Feb 2020 – WHO updates case definitions for COVID-19 for Suspected, Probable, Confirmed – Worldwide Surveillance Continues.

28 Feb 2020 – Nigeria reports first case of COVID-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

11 March 2020 – WHO upgrades the COVID-19 outbreak to a Pandemic.

A mother in a Lorrie Moore short story People Like That Are the Only People Here, jokes, ‘Healthy? I just want the kid to be rich’.  We know what happens next.

Writers are readers. If they’re no readers they’re not writers. Here’s the story: We’re all in it together. In Burlington Care Home in Glasgow, thirteen elderly residents died in a week. Two of the staff test positive for Covid-19. All over the world Covid-19 has been behaving in the classic hockey-stick manner of epidemics plotted on a graph. We sit on the side-lines and clap our team, the NHS, care staff, all those on the front line. There’s good reason for this. Wearing gloves and a face mask doesn’t mean you won’t get sick – viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks, but it does make it five times more unlikely.

With no football on, we’ve all become expert analysists, pitting our team against other countries. We know from the SARs  2003-4 in South Korea, most of the cases were in health workers. The pattern is repeated with Covid-19. Those who spend more time treating victims are more likely to become victims, especially if they don’t have proper protective equipment.

Other armchair experts claim it’s no big deal, no worse than seasonal flu. Herd immunity sounded feasible. This was the positon the moron’s moron President Trump took. Now he’s saying 200 000 American deaths would be a good score. The side of the Atlantic, Boris Johnson took the same position as his senior partner in the Oval Office. Johnson is now settling for 20 000 British deaths after the first wave of the Covid-19 has passed.

Do the math. If borne out by further testing, this could mean that current estimates of a roughly 1% fatality rate are accurate. This would make Covid-19 about 10 times more deadly than seasonal flu, which is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 people a year worldwide. The population of America is around 250 million so if Covid-19 hockeystick trajectory continued as epidemiologist modelled with over 80%  of the population becoming infected over 2 million Americans would die. In Britain that would be around 600 000 deaths.

As we’ve seen, even with these lower numbers our health services are working beyond full capacity with apparently mild cases overlooked and hockey-stick numbers growing exponentially. This is important because as Chinese scientist have confirmed these cases DO contribute to transmission and need to be socially isolated. Health Care workers such as those in Burlington Care Home did go into work.  Tens of thousands of Care workers face that same dilemma.

Employers, until now, have created even more ways of punishing and sacking low-paid workers and depriving them of their rights. Care staff as disposable as bed-pans. Classed as self-employed. No holiday pay. No pension. Zero-hour contracts.  Minimum wage is the maximum wage and ways such as not paying for travelling costs being used to deprive them of even that. Classified as agency staff and their minimum wage reduced by a third by paying their employers for employing them. Take it or leave it.  

The future looks like the past. Imagine the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla residents of Burlington Care Home. We’re all in it together. Under new NHS guidelines in England (this is Scotland you might argue) rationing or triage needs to take place. The Queen because of her age would not qualify for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or qualify for a ventilator. Charles might get into ICU but because of a shortage of ventilators doesn’t receive incubation. Camilla qualifies for both. Are we really all in it together?

Let’s look at the league tables and cheer. Singapore is top of the table. China has flat- lined, it no longer has hockey-stick growth in numbers. Italy is doing most testing, but has the highest fatality rate. Spain is catching up with Italy in terms of casualties and testing. Germanic efficiency, doing everything by the book. It  has been doing widespread testing of suspects with symptoms and contact tracing in the WHO-recommended fashion from the beginning of the epidemic. We’re at different stages of the epidemic. The UK death toll is currently higher than Italy’s at the same stage, reinforced by another showing that by this stage of the outbreak. Italy had begun to flatten its curve while in Britain the line keeps rising, the number of deaths doubling every three days. We’re not even looking at Third World Countries. Trump boasts he’s testing more than Britain, more than China. Those without healthcare or the capacity to treat victims know what to expect. We’ve all seen it before. More of the same.

When it ends, when it really ends, we’ll be back at the beginning, waiting for the second wave of the Covid-19. The golden bullet of vaccines, optimistically, look about a year away. Only about five major drug companies have the resources to manufacture the golden bullet if it was found today. Scaling takes time. First world countries would be first. Even the moron’s moron in the US  has woken up to the need to test – and is telling companies that export, America must come first. Trump tried to buy a German company bio-tech company. Third world countries third, because you can’t go any lower. But here you create a reservoir population, ready to infect the rest of the world. Using an economic axiom, ceteris paribus: Changing the number of people tested, or who is being offered tests, will also affect the number of reported cases.

Moving forward to when, or if, we flatten the hockey-shaped curve, people need to return to work in stages. In Britain one effect of government rhetoric is the NHS is safe, even under the Tories that have been selling it off piecemeal, and depriving it of funds. Any hint of depriving the NHS of much-needed resources would be political suicide, but this is short-term.

Cast your mind back to 2010 to the unfunny Laurel and Hardy of Cameron/Osborne government, before their slapstick act of economic stupidity and self-mutilation called Brexit. Note the four doctors to have died so far are BAME doctors.  Britain had to pay higher than other EEC countries for ventilators, for example, because they’re no longer part of the EEC and the pound is plummeting. Fifty percent of our food comes from imports. Crops will rot in the fields without immigrant workers. We import more than we export. Quite literally, we can’t go it alone. Our government knows this.  But the then outgoing Labour Chief Secretary of the Treasury Liam Byrne left a jokey written message to his incoming colleague, the Liberal Democrat (remember them) David Laws: ‘there’s no money left’.  

We all know what happened next. A detailed assessment showed that public spending was to increase in five Whitehall departments and to be cut in seventeen, beginning with welfare. What we used to call social security was gone. As over 1 000 000 people newly registered for Universal Credit have found out. Living on less than £100 per week is the new norm. While the British economy was flatlining in 2010, in the way we hope the Covid-19 will in 2020 the Tory government pursued a policy of taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich. Tax cut. Tax cut. Tax cut. Privatise and cherry pick our NHS, stealth by the back door such as Virgin Health running mental health services. Yes, the same Richard Branson asking for a bailout for his airline. Private profit and dividend and tax cuts, whilst domiciled elsewhere. How does that add up with we’re all in it together?  Those were also the words used by George Osborne and leave a familiar taste in the mouth.

Austerity was imposed on the poor in 2010, but not on the rich. They bounced back very quickly to 2007-2008 levels of capital wealth and an increased share of the GDP. The gap between rich and poor matched that of the Great Depression. Wages never recovered. Those in work and claiming benefits grew and grew. The working poor, those that work in, for example, care homes as carers were mocked as the scum of the earth. Junior doctors were labelled greedy. Nurses were chastised for demanding a pay rise. Loans instead of grants were the new norms for nurses training and numbers dropped.  

Austerity in the twenty-first century. Covid-19 is a dress rehearsal for climate change, but one is now, the other deferred. In the same way, the $2tn US coronavirus relief package is doling out $60bn to struggling airlines and offering low-interest loans that are available to fossil fuel. Britain has in the words of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak effectively nationalised the economy. 10% of Britain’s GDP of debt and growing, £435 billion in Quantitive Easing (printing money) £200 billion up front to keep the economy temporarily afloat.

Writing in the Guardian, the economist David Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College in the US and a member of the Bank’s interest rate-setting monetary policy committee during the 2008 financial crisis, said unemployment was rising at the fastest rate in living memory. UK unemployment could rapidly rise to more than 6 million people, around 21% of the entire workforce, based on analysis of US job market figures that suggest unemployment across the Atlantic could reach 52.8 million, around 32% of the workforce.

“There has never been such a concentrated business collapse. The government has tried to respond but it has no idea of the scale of the problem it is going to have to deal with. We make some back-of-the-envelope calculations and they are scary,” he said.

 Unemployment looked to be at least 10 times faster than in the recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.

The Great Depression of the hungry thirties was ended not by fiscal stimulus, although that helped, but by the second world war. During the Depression years rich monopolists chaffed at government intervention in the economy and called for a return to lassez-faire economics. Sounds familiar. Listen to Thatcher’s ‘let poppies grow tall speech’. Reaganomics was just Thatcherism wrapped in a different flag.  We’ve seen the same effect under Osborne/ Cameron. At some point in the aftermath of the pandemic hard choices will need to be made. Simple choices if you’re a Tory, you take money from the poor and give it to the rich. After all under Thatcher dogma, ostensibly, they are the creators of wealth. The keepers of our economic good health, but just don’t ask them to share. Trillions can be wiped from stock market shares, ten, twenty, fifty, seventy percent, yet a tax increase of 1% is met as if Armageddon has occurred. Then it did begin to unfold.

Ironically, the moron’s moron may well win an election not for anything he did or said, but because he’s a leader on TV screens and his popularity remains high especially among white, male, Republican supporters.  Those most likely to die from the Covid-19 virus. Here Johnson is in social isolation. He has the virus. He is a viral infection. But he’s never been more popular. As an old Etonian when it comes to making hard choices of who gets what and why, well, that is easy, Thatcherism. Survival of the fittest. Tall poppies, like Branson. Survival of the richest. Poor people are there to be applauded, every Thursday, but not helped. There to be used and discarded. The backlash is coming and it’s coming soon. Expect no mercy from Tory scum. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. If you think we’re all in it together you’ve been living on the moon and probably would vote Trump if you lived in America.   People Like That Are the Only People Here. A choice between being rich, or being healthy, few of us get to choose. I choose life, but not stupidity.

Elizabeth Strout (2019) Olive, Again

Olive Kitteridge aged 83 (or 84, I remember her telling ‘The Poet’, but memory is fallible is a theme here, so I’m in good company) is brash, outspoken, abrasive. All those adjectives we can associate with the orange-haired monster in the Whitehouse—those are more Olive’s words than mine—but Olive, a fictional creation of Elizabeth Strout is a human figure because she never stops questioning others or herself. To be human is always to be plural. To be godlike is to be humble. The beginning of humanity comes at the end of this collection of interconnected stories set in the fictional coastal town of Cosby, Maine—twelve hours from New York, in other words, Middle America, also a fictional construct—when Olive writes a note to herself that sticks in her head:

I do not have a clue who I have been. Truthfully, I do not understand a thing.

Olive was married to Henry and they had a boy Christopher and so it goes on. The story of living and dying. Henry dies. Olive was in her seventies then, estranged from her son, not keen on Christopher’s wife, Ann, who already had a kid from her previous marriage and seems to pop out her breasts to feed one grandkid after another in a way that is unsightly and unseemly. When they visit it’s not happy families. ‘Motherless Child’ is the story title. That’s all the clue you need, but had more to do with Olive’s relationship with her son. I could quote Tolstoy here about happy families being all the same and unhappy families being all different, but I won’t. I’m reminded of a put-down remark by Jack Kennison, whose story features in the opening tale, ‘Arrested’, a former lecturer at Harvard with two PHDs, he accuses Olive of being ‘a reverse snob’. He’s married to her by this time and he may have had a point.

I’m ‘a reverse snob’ too. Jack, for example, flies first class, but Olive refuses and is hunched up in a seat beside a fat man. This is America. Every second person is fat, including Jack, but he has little sympathy for her. His attitude that they’ve not got long to live and if they’ve got the money—spend it, seems more sensible. Put bluntly, I’m on Olive’s side here.  I don’t like or trust rich people. Then again, I don’t know any. But reverse snobbery works in other subtle ways too.

I quite like Elizabeth Strout’s compendium of short stories. On the cover a quote for her British audience from the Sunday Times, ‘One of America’s finest writers’.  Strout has won the Pulitzer Prize. One morning Olive is having breakfast at the marina. The waitress has a fat arse and Olive doesn’t like her or think she provides good service. She sees a girl Andrea sitting by herself. She goes across and introduced herself, Andrea is a poet laureate of the United States, but a ‘lonesome girl’ that she taught math and wasn’t expected to go far or do much with her life. Later, Olive discovers something about herself she doesn’t like, she wouldn’t have sat with the girl unless she knew she was famous. I wouldn’t have read this book unless others had read it and recommended it. That’s a kind of snobbism. Being part of the gang. Olive also though the poet-laureates poems were largely ‘crap’. But Andrea gets her own back by writing a poem about Olive’s life, holds a mirror up to her face and Olive realises what the poet says is essentially true.

I don’t think Elizabeth Strout’s writing is crap. But if I was as honest as Olive I do wonder why she is so admired and has won so many prizes. My guess if it was self-published, in competition with eight million authors, without all the other ballyhoo it wouldn’t do that great. But like Olive with ‘The Poet’ I might need to take a long hard look at myself. I value honesty in characters such as Olive. I admire it in real life too, but nobody’s perfect, although some writing can seem so. I wouldn’t say this is the case here.  Read on.

Robert A. Caro (1990 [2006]) The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 2, Means of Ascent.

On page 402, towards the end of this second volume of the rise and rise of Lyndon Johnson, Robert A.Caro offers an insight into the former President’s personality.

For a President to preserve as a personal memento a photograph showing the notorious Box 13 in the possession of his political allies—a photograph which by implication provides that someone was indeed in a positon to stuff it—is startling in itself. For him to display the photograph to a hostile journalist is evidence of a psychological need so deep that its demands could not be resisted. It is continuing evidence of the fact that even his possession of the presidency had eased the insecurities of his youth.

In a week that the moron’s moron starts his impeachment trial by the Senate this is perhaps a good book to study.

There is little doubt that President Trump is guilty of all charges levelled against him from #Me too to crook too. He’s an abomination, but that didn’t stop him from becoming President. In fact, it was regarded as an asset. He would be telling others how it is.  What the Trump team did was very much like LBJ did they used the new technology of their age to target voters.

LBJ used helicopters and control of the media, primarily radio stations. He also used slush funds to generate more cash than had ever been spent in the history of Texas to buy political power.

The moron’s moron’s team, ironically, used the Obama tactics of weaponising social media. Fake Facebook accounts were targeted at key states as they are now being for the next election. Russian influence played its part, but LBJ was one of the first to realise it didn’t matter what you said, as long as you repeated it enough it had the patina of truth and then the other guy became the liar.

In a world of right and wrong and moral order LBJ would have been as screwed as any one of the moron moron’s servants. Both Presidents shared the capacity to demand total loyalty.

Caro juxtaposes LBJ’s fight for a senate seat with ‘Mr Texas’ Coke Stevenson. Think Atticus Finch here from To Kill a Mocking Bird and fling in a bit of John Wayne.  A man that built his own house by hand and dug his own fence posts and could pretty much do anything from building bridges to representing plaintiffs in court and winning the case. He never took a case where he thought the client was guilty. Prices for his services were written on chalk for all to see. He could not be bought. He had integrity. He had core beliefs where LBJ and the moron’s moron had a for-hire sign.

LBJ was an incredibly adapt creature of the political wrangling class, a lion among wolves. The moron’s moron is a child in a man’s body that nobody has said boo too—and there lies the danger. His stupidity could lead literally to the next world war. It has already helped diminished the chance of saving our planet without a massive loss of human life and biodiversity.  

Nobody much is interested in Box 13, or that old stuff called history. The guys in the photograph LBJ showed a hostile reporter are Texans that stole enough votes and stuffed them into Box 13 so that LBJ could become a Senator in the 1948 race. The equivalent would be the moron’s moron showing a New York Times reporter Trump standing in a Moscow hotel room with Putin, while Russia prostitutes piss on his bed. Or the moron’s moron standing with his hand on the shoulder of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and a speech bubble coming from the American President’s mouth asking him to dig up dirt on Joe Biden—or else.

LBJ knew that’s not the way power works. Senators might swear to be impartial, but we know that’s the kind of horseshit Coke Stevenson would have smartly wiped from his cowboy boots. 20 Republicans need to side the Democratic block vote to win the three-quarter majority to find the moron’s moron guilty. And like LBJ, the moron’s moron is always keen to leave a paperless trail. Admit to nothing, let the minions take the hits and then damn them for being crass liars, interested only in themselves and the next pay-packet. Accuse them of being greedy, of being bought.   Loyalty to self is the only thing worth preserving. Everyone else, everything else, expendable.

The greatest irony of all is that impeachment works in the moron moron’s favour. It provides proof to his followers that he’s stirred up the hornet’s nest. With no Hillary Clinton to bait, it’s the next best thing. Power follows the money. I hate to say it about the next election, but the moron’s moron—

David Wilson (2019) My Life With Murderers.

Below the typeface of David Wilson’s name is the tag ‘The UK’s Leading Criminologist’. Fourteen other books written (or co-written) by Wilson about well-known criminals and criminal justice system are listed inside the cover. He is one of Britain’s youngest prison governors. It was only when I had neared completion of the book, and the Chapter: ‘Theory into Practice: Interview with a Murderer’, I realised this was a programme on Channel 4 that I’d watched.

Here we had encapsulated everything Wilson had been preaching. He was asked to write the foreword for a book, with the subtitle The Truth about the Killing of Carl Bridgewater. Carl Bridgewater was shot in the head delivering newspapers to a farm near where he lived. Nobody was convicted of his killing. Channel 4 could tag the Interview with a Murderer because the original suspect of the police investigation, an ambulance driver, Bert Spencer was convicted of another killing. It was that of his friend and a ‘father figure’ that sometimes employed him, Hubert Wilkes. Spencer shot him in the head and claimed amnesia. In many crime dramas the protagonist suffers amnesia and the viewer later finds out that’s not the way it happened. He was not guilty. Spencer was guilty and sent to prison.

When he came out of prison he set out to clear his name. The Carl Bridgewater case, apart from family members, was largely forgotten. Most of us recognise what a psychopath looks and sounds like by seeing the moron’s moron, President Trump, on television and the way he needs to feed the continuing ‘I’ into his angst on social media. Bert Spenser was a littler ‘I AM’ that was not to be ignored.

Trump’s bestseller The Art of the Deal wasn’t ghost-written by Tony Schwartz, but wholly written and fabricated by him (a deal with the moron’s moron he later regretted).

Similarly, author Simon Golding had written about the Carl Bridgewater murder based on what Bert Spencer had told him. Like the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse, Spencer liked to claim he’d-all-but-written the book. Similarly, he was the hero in his own story. Setting the world to rights. Grandiose thinking and impetuosity are attributes of the psychopathic mindset.

In the same way that the moron’s moron craves the endorsement of well-known celebrities, Spencer wanted to hook the leading criminologist to endorse his book. Spencer wanted to make the splash of big ‘I AM’ bigger.

I must admit I underestimated President Trump. He used other people’s money to get elected and expected to be defeated, but had gone along for the ride because the cameras were always on him. I expected when the circus died down President Trump would be brought down by his own narcissism, greed, lies and above all by his own incompetence. But the moron’s moron repositioned those attributes as virtues. The smell’s still there, but we’re looking –for now- the other way.

Wilson did not fall for Spencer’s false bonhomie and old worldly charms. The criminologist looked at Spencer, looked at his alibi, met the woman that had provided the alibi and quickly concluded it had no validity. Spencer’s ex-wife later agreed to be interviewed and she talked about Spencer washing a jumper in the washing machine on the night of the Bridgewater murder.  Spencer had never done a washing in all the years they had been married. The green jumper and one of Spencer’s shotguns later went missing. Spencer’s daughter also thought he could have killed Carl Bridgewater.

Spencer argued the world was against him. He claimed that Wilson’s eyes were dilated and he took drugs. He was incompetent. He didn’t fully understand the case.

Every time you listen to one of the moron’s moron rants imagine Spencer, both are not guilty of any crime. The question remains, what do we do with the psychopaths among us? We elect them to the highest office, out of harm’s way, President of the United State and Prime Minister of a disunited kingdom. Psychopaths have that great ability to not really care what you think. Just don’t get in their way. When you think of Spencer, think of the moron’s moron and the man that hides what little brains he has under mussed blonde hair.        

Conspiracy Files: The Billionaire Global Mastermind? BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, directed by Mike Rudin.

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0008c6g/conspiracy-files-the-billionaire-global-mastermind

George Soros is a billionaire. In 1992 British taxpayers handed Soros over $1 billion. Soros gambled that the British pound would continue to fall in value. He shorted the pound in the currency market and won his gamble. Britain’s financial loss was Soros’s gain. Soros also happens to be Jewish.

Remember the Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of Zion. The Learned part is optional. It’s the kind of hokum that brings together ideology, literature and eugenics. Jews are subhuman monsters that want to take over the world. Stir in a bit of natural selection and Darwinian influence channelled by the Nazi Party in post-Wehrmacht Germany and you’ve pretty much got the modern version. George Soros is a Jew. George Soros therefore wants to take over the world.

I used to have this belief that all Americans were stupid, I’m not therefore immune to sweeping generalisations. Then they elected the moron’s moron as President. In August 2017 at Charlottesville neo-Nazi marchers were met by anti-fascist demonstrators. James Fields, a neo-Nazi, drove a speeding car at the demonstrators, killing one and injuring 28 people. Brennan Gilmore filmed the speeding car with his phone. If you go online you can read that he was a CIA/ State Department plant for the deep state. Here we have a couple of shock-jocks re-iterating this kind of lie.

LIAR > AMPLIFICATON ONLINE> FOX NEWS > AMERICAN PRESIDENT > LIAR > Amplification

Initially, the American President claimed both sides were to blame. We’ve become so inured to President Trump’s alternative view of the world it doesn’t really register. Now imagine that after the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, when asked about it, argued both sides were to blame. That’s how far we’ve gone backwards.

There’s nothing new about creating a bogey man, or women. Witches used to fit the bill quite well. The other is not always Jewish. Often he or she is Muslim. Immigrants carrying contagion and wrong-headed beliefs. Terrorists and rapists. That’s the kind of arguments we here in, ironically, largely Muslim Turkey, Italy, Hungary, China, Russia, Britain and of course, bearer of the flag, America. Soros would fit the bogey man position better if he were Muslim and Jewish and, of course, if he arrived off the coast of Cornwall in a ship in the dead of night and turned into a bat. Dracula was a Hungarian Jew. Soros is Dracula.

Soros is Dracula? > Amplification> Fox News> Tweet by moron’s moron, ‘watch your children, Soros wants to suck your blood.’

  • Don’t elect a moron.
  • Follow the example of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, JACINDA ARDERN, after the mass killings in Christchurch and do not name the gunman. Do not give moron’s a platform to promote hate.
  • Follow the example of our European Union leaders and call out and fine corporations such as Facebook and Google by no longer letting they get away with a legal technicality that they are not responsibility for content.

A Black and White Killing: The Case that Shook America, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, directed by Guy King

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0007zb6/a-black-and-white-killing-the-case-that-shook-america-series-1-episode-1

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0007zbb/a-black-and-white-killing-the-case-that-shook-america-series-1-episode-2

This is a two-part investigation into a killing. The viewer is left in no doubt that a white man in his mid-forties, Russell Courtier, in his Jeep, ran over and killed a black man, nineteen-year old Larnell Bruce. We are shown CCTV footage from outside the supermarket of what happened and its aftermath. Then shown how far Bruce’s body was pushed by the vehicle mapped out by A to B by forensics with the blood still on the road. Bruce is dead. Courtier killed him. Open and shut case.

But this is Portland, Oregon. Throw into the mix Oregon’s racist past, a white’s only state, with more Ku Klux Klan member’s demographically that anywhere else, depicted in Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad. Whisper it America’s racist past, where blacks in the Lyndon Johnston era were told not to bother registering to vote and presented with a bullet as a gift if they did. Black (and poor white) votes were also disregarded and stolen. Think about how rich Republicans got together to fund legal action to recount chads to get  President George W Bush elected and to thwart a Democrat candidate. How money moves to the white and the right.  How the birthing movement was used by the moron’s moron on the campaign trail, by the now President Trump, to challenge the validity of President Obama holding public office.

Throw into the mix the decision by the prosecution to add to the charge sheet that this was a racially motivated crime. Russell Courtier had spent most of his working life in prison and was a member of the white-supremacy European Kindred gang. He had the marking of the gang’s tattoo on his leg. He was wearing a European Kindred cap when he killed Larnell Bruce.

Throw into the mix the BBC’s representative, journalist Mobeen Azhar, a British Muslim with Pakistani origins and give him access to family members of the victim, the killer, and former members of his prison gang and wait for it to fizzle.

Add to the drama at the trail, when the police expert was shown by the defence to get his sums all wrong. The defence lawyer pointed out that he’d confused kilometres-per-hour with miles-per-hour. Back to police school for him.

But the big reveal for the defence was that Larnell Bruce was holding a machete when he approached the Jeep.  A female witness said that Larnell was at the convenience store trying to sell the machete. This is about believable as Russell Courtier’s mum and brother’s view that their son and brother wasn’t really racist and just happened to get into a fight with a black man.

The cartoonish some-of- my-best-friends-are-black argument is tested by their interrogator a British Pakistani.  But I didn’t really take to Mobeen Azhar as a presenter. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time in the company of Louis Theroux where every expression from mock disbelief to indignation is expressed by a cocked eyebrow. And the Case That Shook America, after early dramatics, doesn’t shake very much, not my belief in the American legal or economic system. It doesn’t prove very much at all. Intent is a balloon that floats or is pricked. But, for the record, the defence, despite their early blooper, walked away wrapped in American Glory.

Colson Whitehead (2016) The Underground Railway.

 

Timothy Snyder (2015) Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.

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We think we know the bare bones of the history of the holocaust. Hitler as bogey man and the German nation following him to the abyss, where around six million Jews perished and many more minorities. That was my take on it. Not bad, around a D grade. But Snyder does more than root in the history of the past. He drags us into the present and the lessons are illuminating.

For the German nation the war was portrayed as necessary, a colonial war to maintain food supplies, a war against the inferior Slavic nations, or ‘shitty countries’ are our friend President Trump termed them.  But when Lebensraum came unstuck at Leningrad and the Red Army began to roll back German colonial gains the genocidal war against Jews continued and grew even more intense.

‘The Auschwitz Paradox’ the complex of Treblinka, Belzac, Sobibor and Chelmno was a factory in which people were murdered for being the wrong type of people. The gas chambers also stood as a metonym for the evil of a racial policy of mass murder and genocide, but most of the killing had already taken place further East,

‘where tens of thousands of Germans shot millions of Jews over hundreds of death pits over the course of three years, most people knew what was happening. Hundreds of thousands of Germans witnessed the killings, and millions of Germans on the eastern front knew about them…German homes were enriched, millions of times over, by plunder from the murdered Jews, sent by post or brought back by soldiers and policemen on leave’.

Auschwitz processed a lie of left and right, separating the living and dead effectively, and more importantly it allowed a generation of Germans to say they didn’t know. It also allowed the Russians to act as liberators when earlier they had played a large part in the murder of Jews and other Slavic nationals.

The key to survival, then as now was citizenship. Jews in Denmark, for example, retained their citizenship and almost all survived.  In contrast, all 963 Jew in Estonia were murdered, not by the Germans, but Estonian citizens. And from the Baltic to the Black Sea people who killed Jews killed others such as psychiatric patients and gypsies. Lithuanian policemen who took part in the killing of 150 000 Jews in 1941, also starved to death the same number of Soviet prisoners.

Similar elements are at work in the Syrian conflict. Putin’s genocidal onslaught in the second Chechnya war helped set the template for what was to follow.  Russian troops that committed atrocities were fighting terrorism.

When Russian invaded Ukraine its citizens were deemed to be terrorists. Snyder draws explicit parallels with Hitler’s ideology:

In 2013 Russian leaders and propagandists imagined neighbouring Ukraine out of existence, or presented them as sub-Russians…an artificial entity with no history, culture, and language, backed by some global agglomeration of Jews, gays, Europeans, and Americans…In the Russian war against Ukraine, the first gains were the natural gas fields in the Black Sea…annexed in 2014…The fertile soil of mainland Ukraine, its black earth, makes it a very important exporter of food, which Russia is not.

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian’s dictator, whom Putin brought back from the brink of military defeat, using high-tech Russian jets, chemical weapons that put them outside the Geneva Convention, old-fashioned barrel bombs, artillery strikes on hospitals and schools while classifying these murders as fighting against terrorists. There is no such thing as non-combatants.  Women and children are also terrorists.

Three million people in Idib. Three million non-citizens and terrorists. On the Turkish border civilian forces offer a sense of humanity and prepare for a million refugees. Perhaps an overestimate when the Russian fleet offshore are engaged in ‘exercises’. Non-citizens can expect no mercy in a kill-box that would have been all too familiar to Eastern European Jews. Ironically, those fleeing towards Israel in the hope that proximity to another nation state will provide a safe haven of sorts are simply classified as terrorist by another nation state.

Snyder’s template of taking away citizenship as the first step in genocidal murder applies equally to Myanmar’s Rakhine state. In scenes reminiscent of Nazi occupied Poland, on 27th August 2017 Myanmar’s army attacked unarmed civilians and forced more than 700 000 Rohingya to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Ian Figel and Benedict Rogers in The Observer report thousands were killed, thousands of women raped. Children were snatched from their parents’ arms and thrown into their burning homes or drowned. Villagers lined up and shot.

Britain’s response to refugees mirrors that of the Americans during the Holocaust – no entry. The United States and richest nation in the world patted itself on the back for allowing around 5000 Jewish refugees, around the same number that were gassed in Treblinka in a morning’s work. Remember David Cameron talking about ‘swarms’ of them waiting to cross the English Channel. Swarms of children, who we agreed to take, then reneged on the deal. Without the sovereign protection of citizenship those without passports have no rights and can be disposed of.

With global warming the numbers of refugees Snyder argues is bound to increase exponentially and the poorest nations in the world will be hit first and hit hardest. Already we are preparing our defences. The first defence being rhetoric, them-or-us fundamentalism. The warning from history is a lesson we have learned too well. Enough talk produces hate and murder, but no real people die. Only terrorists.  Believe that and you’ll believe anything. We often do and justify it to ourselves by saying we didn’t know. Read this book.