Freedom News

Notes from the US

Freedom’s long-running US correspondent Louis Further does his monthly roundup of some of the lesser-known stories that have emerged over the last few weeks.

Pandemic

Covid deniers and purveyors of spurious and specious disinformation deliberately continue to politicise the pandemic. One recent indication of how the élite wilfully promotes ignorance and potentially lethal outcomes is a provision buried in new bill which was passed by the Missouri state legislature this time last month.

Those who work in the state’s nearly 37,000 chemists are expressly forbidden to advise (their) patients of the dangers of using unproven quack ‘remedies’ as touted by Trump, many Republicans, conspiracy fringe groups and throughout the right-wing propaganda outlets – most of whose presenters are fully vaccinated and would never touch things like the ‘horse paste’ whose use they advocate.

Despite their training, expertise and knowledge – and despite their experience – of just how dangerous Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate tablets are as ‘solutions’ to infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in humans, professional pharmacists in Missouri must not now dispute the efficacy of such substances. Nor are these professionals now permitted to advise patients who use their services, or who ask for these dangerous substances, not to take them – even though to do so could kill them.

This is against a worsening situation. At the end of last month, there were five times as many new reported cases of Covid infections each day as there were at the same time in 2021. The number of new cases in June (probably an under-report) has already reached the same level as before the Omicron variant spike last autumn. New reported cases are now over 70% as high as the previous highest ever daily figure – excepting the Omicron surge.

Despite a few unheard and unheeded warnings from the public health authorities and experts, most efforts to control the spread have now been abandoned. Last week, the Biden administration lifted the requirement to test for Covid on entry into the United States.

People in the country are effectively on their own with the elderly and those in less than good health are likely to be the worst hit.

Corruption

It’s not always easy to keep track of the number and nature of lawsuits against former president Trump. At the start of this month, there were at least ten major cases:

  • by the January 6 US House select committee investigation
  • in individual and collective lawsuits by (Democratic) lawmakers and police officers after his incitement to riot on January 6 2021
  • against Trump for apparently hiding, destroying or otherwise misappropriating (classified) White House documents at the end of his term of office… did he take them with him to his hideout in Florida (Mar-a-Lago), perhaps?
  • over Trump’s blatant efforts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election in Georgia by strong-arming the public and election officials there into falsifying results
  • after an apparent plot to replace legitimate members of the electoral college in Michigan with his own stooges who were to ‘certify’ it in the way he wanted
  • against the Trump Organization in New York for alleged criminal and civil crimes – particularly pertaining to what New York Attorney General Letitia James has described as ‘misleading or fraudulent’ financial statements
  • by the District Attorney in New York against the Trump Organization again into Trump’s businesses
  • in litigation with his niece, Mary Trump, over financial issues; it alleges that the family has improperly deprived her of a portion of her late uncle, Robert Trump’s, estate
  • a defamation suit where Trump denies raping journalist E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s
  • Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, is suing Trump former Attorney General, William Barr, and others alleging that he was gaoled in order to prevent Cohen from promoting his book.

There are more. But the feeling in the country is that he will wriggle out of all of these.

Oppression

As the latest batch of mass shootings takes place (this provides useful background), teachers in states which make it illegal to discuss race – except by ‘presenting both sides’ – are voicing concerns about how on earth to do so in such cases. When asked by their pupils to comment – say in civics classes – they are now legally obliged to answer with a ‘balanced view’ of these massacres. This effectively means that they should direct curious and worried children to sources explaining and detailing the true frequency with which white supremacists encouraged by Fox ‘News’ and other far-right outlets enter supermarkets and schools to kill black people there; and also to advocate for the shooters, put the murderers’ case… lest they be sacked for passing on biased views on race to their pupils.

Despite shortages of teachers across the country, there is a new way in which teachers in Ohio could lose their jobs: if they refuse to take the maximum of 24 hours of initial training (and eight-hour refreshers if needed) and stand up against the escalation of violence which new legislation being enacted in the state to arm teachers ‘against’ mass shootings.

The mass shootings, of course, continue as expected. Calls to take common-sense steps at least to attenuate the murdering by restricting access to weapons fall on deaf ears: in California, for example, a federal appeals court ruled last month that the state’s ban on the sale of semi-automatic firearms to under 21s is unconstitutional.

No less a body that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently reported that it has found that gun deaths in the United States reached a record high during 2020, the first year of the pandemic. Over 45,000 people in the United States died in gun-related incidents, an increase of 35% over the previous year. Covid, by the way, is now the third most likely cause of death in the USA.

Other repressive trends continue across the United States: trans girls in Indiana are now no longer allowed to compete in girls’ school sports because Republican legislators overrode a veto of that provision by Indiana’s (Republican) governor. Since 2022 began, as many as 35 states have either passed or proposed anti-trans legislation.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis often pops up in ‘Notes from the US’. But just when you think his racism, lies, cruelty and sadistic outrages couldn’t be harder to take, he outdoes himself. So it was at the beginning of this month. Trump addict and possible presidential candidate in two years’ time DeSantis withheld state funding for a sports training facility. DeSantis deprived the sport of US$35 (£28) million because the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, who stood to gain, had spoken out (in Tweets) against the spate of recent gun massacres.

An indication of how deep the corruption and distortion of the truth now goes in public life in the United States came last week when the FBI arrested a current Republican candidate for governor in Michigan, Ryan Kelley, because he had actively participated in the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

Racism

In true fascist fashion, Republicans continue to blame immigrants for anything they can, and at any opportunity they can. The Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, for example, released a ‘statement’ jointly with the National Border Patrol Council attacking the Biden administration for keeping children who are seeking asylum in the United States alive by supplying them with food. Abbott said “…the Biden Administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border…” Fox’s most-watched morning show echoed the sentiment.

A week or so later, Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, delivered the keynote address to the American Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The neo-Fascist group chose Hungary as an ideal example of an authoritarian, white-supremacist regime. Indeed Orbán (who has just won his fourth term in office) refers repeatedly to the same ‘Great Replacement’ nonsense touted regularly by Fox’s most popular host, Tucker Carlson. The idea that ‘superior whites’ are being systematically ‘replaced’ by Jews and blacks seems also to have inspired the white supremacist shooter who killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo the previous weekend. Despite multiple sources left by the shooter and recovered by law enforcement, Carlson claimed that such hate crimes were not ‘political acts’ before going on to praise Orbán in a pre-recorded video shown to the Conference.

In his speech at CPAC, Orbán criticised, amongst others, LGBTQ+ movements “…Progressive liberals, neo-Marxists dazed by the woke dream, people financed by George Soros and promoters of open societies, they want to annihilate the Western way of life that you and we love so much… We have to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We must find allies in one another and coordinate the movement of our troops as we face a big test. 2024 will be a decisive year.”

Louis Further

Featured image: a memorial set up outside Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas for the victims of the shooting. VOA/Public Domain.