Sunday, May 31, 2020

Protests Are Spreading

The protests over George Floyd's murder are set to continue  in fact, they are spreading fast. 

This is in spite of the fact that Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer seen in a video with his knee on Floyd's neck was arrested and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter on Friday. 

Now, calls for his other three colleagues, Tou Thoa, JK Kueng and Thomas Lane who were also there on Monday to face the music become louder and more strident.

Minneapolis folks are not at all happy. 

The protests not only keep up but they have escalated all across the US – engulfing more than 30 cities including Sacramento, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa; Boston, Massachusetts; and Las Vegas, Nevada. 

They are not just fuelled by outrage over Floyd’s needless death but also years of police violence against African Americans. 

Even Washington DC is not spared and the White House on Friday went into partial lockdown for an hour or so. At one point, Donald Trump even warned protesters that they would be met with "vicious dogs" and "ominous weapons" if they breached the White House perimeter!

As one 19-year-old protester in Houston, Texas told the Associated Press: "My question is how many more, how many more? I just want to live in a future where we all live in harmony and we're not oppressed". 

I have no doubt that refrain has been heard multiple times over the years – but the truth is, black lives don’t matter! Even a non-black person like me can see that!

When you look at the photos of the protests in the US, you can’t help but be reminded of Hong Kong! 

The one stark difference is that Trump called American protesters/rioters “thugs” – but in Hong Kong, the Western media portrayed this same category of people, “heroes”! 

On Friday, the US president (right) declared "we can't allow" the demonstrations "to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos".  On Saturday, Trump reiterated that he will not allow mob violence to rule.

And yet, in Hong Kong, his goons funded, instigated and incited protests-that-descended-into-riots – and if that’s not enough, he wants to punish HKSAR for not giving space to the anarchists to rampage at will. 

In the US, state troopers and National Guardsmen have been deployed on the streets in addition to the local police – and even the Pentagon on Friday reportedly took the rare step of ordering the Army to put active-duty US military police units on the ready.

Contrast that with Hong Kong, where only the Hong Kong Police are involved in containing the protests/riots there. Thus far, Chinese soldiers have not intervened. 

The Americans, the self-proclaimed defenders of democracy are now getting a taste of their own medicine in their own backyard. 

#GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter #AmericanHypocrisy

A Nosey Parker is Rebuffed

India and China are not exactly the best of buddies. 

It’s not made easy when they share a land border that stretches for 4,056 kilometers and for a long time, they have been drawn into tense border disputes that flare up into sporadic border clashes. 

It also didn’t help that they were warring in 1962 that set back ties for decades. 

Fast-forward to the present and the latest quarrel between the two countries were reportedly sparked by infrastructure projects being carried out by both countries on the Himalayan border. Affrays on May 05 and 09 between their soldiers had left “minor injuries” on both sides, according to local media. 

Then both countries upped the ante when they moved sizeable numbers of troops into position in the contested areas – and a stand-off ensued. 

On Wednesday, Donald Trump (left) waded into the heightened impasse, claiming that he had “informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute”. 

Methinks, he’s a meddler, a kibitzer, a nosey parker. Not to mention, he has a thick hide too. 

At any rate, neither New Delhi nor Beijing are particularly enticed by his offer to conciliate the territorial dispute between them. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson issued a statement on Friday: “China and India are capable of properly resolving the issues through dialogue and consultation”. 

India wasn’t enthusiastic either. A spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of External Affairs said New Delhi was “directly in touch with China”. 

I do hope this aggressive military posturing between India and China will remain just that and it will not escalate into a war that brings zilch benefit to the two sides. 

This wasn’t the first time that Trump had volunteered his services in the region. In January, the US president floated the idea that he could referee talks between India and Pakistan to resolve the ongoing territorial dispute in Kashmir. 

His offer was not received with much excitement. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) himself had expressed confidence that the issue could be handled “bilaterally” with Pakistan. In other words, Trump needn’t get involved. 

I agree. Trump ought not to interfere in other countries' affairs. Besides, I don’t trust him one bit. With his bellicose jingoism, he might even ignite a war.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Six Million Coronavirus Cases

The pace at which Covid-19 infects the world is frantically swift. 

I had blogged only eight days ago that as at May 20, the tally worldwide had surpassed 5 million cases and five days later, the count expanded to 5.5 million cases. 

Yesterday, in a span of a mere four days, the score had ballooned to 6 million cases! 

And the numbers indicate that even as the world attempts to ease up and let their coronavirus-choked economies breathe – cases are still increasing in many parts of the world. 

India's coronavirus case and death tolls have galloped past China's – on May 15 and 28 respectively. Of course, needless to say, the US is No. 1.

In the meantime, Qatar and Bahrain reached 50,000 and 10,000 cases respectively on Thursday. 

Singapore continued to see an increase in infections, registering 33,000 cases, also on Thursday.

Protests Continue for 3rd Straight Day

Protests in Minneapolis, USA over the killing of George Floyd continued Thursday and raged into Friday. 

Emotions had run high and there were violent clashes with police, who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bang grenades. And there were also looting, ransacking and burning. 

The high point for the protesters came when they torched the MPD Third Precinct station that the police had been compelled to abandon. Cheering and fireworks accompanied the ‘celebration’. 

By then, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz (right) had already activated the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request.

It seems that five hundred soldiers will be deployed to Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding communities. A reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweeted that armored vehicles began rolling through downtown before dawn Friday.

Meanwhile, the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said they are conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into Floyd’s death. 

Donald Trump (left) also wanted to be heard and he jumped straight in. Firstly, he blamed local leadership for the unrest, secondly, he wanted to deploy National Guard troops albeit belatedly, and thirdly, he threatened violence to quell the protests. 

"I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis", the president said on Twitter – and he called the protesters "thugs", even issuing a stark warning that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". 

Wah, he is promoting violence! What more can I say except that this buffoon is a buttinsky, a butt-in, a busybody. I wish he would just zip his mouth!

More demonstrations have spread across the nation – in cities such as Phoenix, Arizona; Oakland, California; Denver, Colorado; Louisville, Kentucky; NYC, New York; and Columbus, Ohio. 

We shouldn’t be surprised because people were really horrified and equally furious when the video of George Floyd's last moments alive went viral. 

Of course, a black American who was a father of two (left) died after a white police officer forcefully knelt on his neck for the longest time.

A knee press that says black lives don't matter’! 

Four Minneapolis police officers who had been at the scene of the murder have been fired – but his family, community leaders and protesters say they want murder charges against them. 

The truth is blacks don’t have the same rights as white Americans. 

One protester identified as 26-year-old Trieste Oatis had this to say: “Sixty years ago, MLK [i.e. Martin Luther King Jr] was fighting for the same thing – but not much has changed”. She’s damn right! 

Floyd’s case is not a rarity as Americans would like us to believe. Other black victims who have made the national headlines include Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. 

I wanted to be better informed. And so, I had zealously scoured and diligently combed the ‘local’ US news – and it is shocking to discover that news stories emerge almost daily in the country about police being called over black Americans doing nothing more than being black! 

And data collected by the Washington Post since 2015 indicated that, relative to the proportion of the population, Blacks were over-represented among all those killed by police. Meaning, Blacks made up 12% of the population – but from 2015–2019, they accounted for 26.4% of those that were killed by police under all circumstances. 

In other words, Blacks were the victims of the lethal use of force by police at nearly twice their rate in the general population. 

The fact of the matter is that George Floyd’s killing was not the first, nor will it be the last death of a black American at the hands of police violence. 

The US, a defender of human rights, my foot!