Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Broken Trust

The US cannot be depended upon! 

A survey commissioned by the Berlin-based European Council on Foreign Relations think tank and conducted by Datapraxis and YouGov revealed that the coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic deterioration in the European public perception of the US. 

In almost every nation surveyed – conducted at the end of April and the first week of May, 2020 across nine EU countries which together account for two-thirds of the bloc’s population – a majority of people said their perception of the US had deteriorated since the outbreak. 

Negative attitudes of the US were most marked in Denmark (71%) Portugal (70%), France (68%), Germany (65%) and Spain (64%). In France, 46% and in Germany 42% said their view of the US had worsened “a lot” during the pandemic. 

In an analysis of the data, the policy experts Susi Dennison and Pawel Zerka say that trust in the US is “broken” as a result of its handling of the health crisis and that support for the transatlantic alliance has been “hollowed out”. 

Angela Merkel (right), the German chancellor, warned in an interview with the Guardian on Friday that the world could no longer take it for granted that America still aspires to be a global leader. The survey suggests that public opinion is already conscious of the shift. 

So low is confidence in the future of the transatlantic partnership that only 2% of respondents in Germany and 3% in France said they would expect US support as Europe rebuilds its damaged economy. 

The two authors believe there is now a more profound uncertainty about America as a force for good, America’s commitment to multilateralism and the US’s ability to lead the world. 

It’s about time Europe forges its own future, free from the US!

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has penned an open letter to the people of Liverpool, exclusively in the Liverpool Echo

Watch what Klopp has to say in this special video:

Confederacy Symbol Ousted

The #GeorgeFloyd protests, as I see it, have yielded one tangible result – the ouster of the Confederate battle standard from the state flag. 

Nationwide protests have drawn renewed attention to symbols of the United States’ racist past. 

Mississippi which has a 38% Black population, is the last state in the country whose flag features red, white and blue stripes with the Confederate battle emblem in the corner. It was first adopted in 1894. 

In 2001, Mississippi gave voters the chance to change the flag through a public referendum – but 64 percent voted no. 

This time around, there were enough lawmakers to secure the necessary votes in the state legislature to make the change. The measure passed on Sunday with a 91-23 majority vote in the House of Representatives, followed by the Senate’s 37-14 vote in favor of the bill. 

The criss-crossed diagonal stars pattern was used by southerners, including Mississippians, during the 1861-1865 American Civil War – the bloody conflict that brought an end to slavery – and for many it remains a symbol of the country’s dark racial legacy. 

Americans should know it’s past the time to bury the past. And America needs to move on.

Monday, June 29, 2020

White Power Retweet

Donald Trump shared a video on Sunday – and which had a Trump supporter raising his fist and shouting "white power". [Note: The phrase is a common rallying cry among white supremacists]. 

The US President's retweet is outrageously offensive  but whaddaya expect?!

Last week, Liverpool wrapped up the Premier League title to make it four trophies in 13 months! 

Yes, four! Being Champions League holders from last June, and adding the European Super Cup and Club World Cup to their collection of current titles since then. The achievements are nothing short of amazing! 

Credit must go to manager Jurgen Klopp (right) who revitalised Liverpool’s fortunes since taking charge in 2015. 

Certainly, it was heartwarming to hear him say that his newly crowned English champions are hungry for more silverware after ending a 30-year wait to win the coveted league title. 

Not only that but Klopp’s men have already smashed one record by winning the league with seven games to spare and could still break other records too. 

They are on course to set a new record points tally and winning margin, currently holding a 23-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. 

Stay hungry, stay victorious!

Facebook's Advertiser Revolt

Pigheadedness best describes Mark Zuckerberg. Perhaps, that's because the Facebook CEO has always been too full of himself. 

Worse, he has shown to be ever so willing to drop on his knees in order to kiss the ass of the President of the United States of America. 

He had regularly refused to flag false and incendiary statements from Donald Trump. 

Even when his own employees staged a 'virtual' walkout and called on the company to do more to address hate speech and incitement to violence – not just from Trump but also hate groups – he had stood his ground. 

As recently as last week, he even stoutly defended Trump’s posts as being “legitimate”. 

Advocacy groups including the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and Color Of Change started “Stop Hate for Profit” on Wednesday to pile pressure on Zuckerberg's money spinning machine – and asking advertisers to pause all spending with Facebook for the month of July. 

Arc'teryx, Ben & Jerry’s, Eileen Fisher, Magnolia Pictures, Patagonia, REI, The North Face, Upwork and Verizon are amongst companies that gave their support and snubbed the tech company. 

On Thursday, the boycott grew beyond advertisers. Chat app Viber, which allows 100 million of its billion-plus users around the world to log in with their Facebook accounts, announced plans to cut ties with the social network entirely, removing all Facebook code from their service. 

Joy Howard, chief marketing officer of the password manager Dashlane, another participant in the boycott, said: “Facebook is not committed to change. They will only say what money makes them say. It’s time for us to put our money where their mouth is”. 

[Note: Facebook make $70.7 billion in annual advertising revenue]. 

As pressure piles on the social media site, Zuckerberg announced tweaks to a number of policies on Friday – hours after Unilever said they too would pull their advertisements from the social media platform for the next six months (BUT only in the US). 

That announcement was too little too late. It did not halt companies’ demands for change. On that same day, Coca-Cola, Hershey's, Honda, JanSport, Levi Strauss, Lululemon and Starbucks joined the more than 100 brands boycotting advertising on Facebook.

James Quincey, chairperson and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company said: “There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media” – and that social media companies need to provide “greater accountability and transparency”. 

In fact, Zuckerberg’s purported changes don’t go nearly far enough. 

More pressure must come to bear on Facebook to cease and desist “amplifying the messages of white supremacists” and “permitting incitement to violence”. 

And it's about time that Zuckerberg calls Trump out because he is a racist and a fascist, period.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Record High of 10 Million Cases

The world has tallied a record high of more than 10 million Covid-19 cases. And more than half a million deaths.

It's not numbers to be trifled with because it verily suggests that Covid-19 is running riot. Unfettered and unrestrainable. 

Of course, the US is still holding onto its coveted No. 1 ranking – with an unbeatable 2.5 million cases and more than 128,000 deaths:

On April 30, when there were already one million cases and 65,000 deaths, Donald Trump had declared: "…we did a spectacular job"! 

Now that total infections have more than doubled and fatalities are nearing to double the April figure, his No. 2 hailed it as “truly remarkable progress”!

I sincerely hope Americans recognize that like it or not, they have idiots occupying their White House. Time and time again, this dumb clique of oafish dumbbells have proven themselves to be incapable, incompetent and inept. 

But I would like to be fair to them. Having said all of the above, not everything is as bad as I made them out to be. They have done a remarkble job as court jesters and for that, my heartiest congratulations! 

Brazil is home to more than 13% of the world’s total cases – and is ranked second in the world.

South Africa at No. 18 is Africa's worst-affected country, having surpassed 130,000 cases.

Some of the other notable statistics include Egypt and Indonesia both registering more than 2,700 deaths and Saudi Arabia with 1,500 fatalities:

A Second Wave of Toilet Roll Hoarding

Australia's supermarkets on Friday reintroduced purchase limits on toilet rolls as a spike in coronavirus cases set off a fresh round of panic-buying over fears of a new stay-at-home order. 

Woolworths Group Ltd and Coles Group Ltd, which together account for two-thirds of Australian grocery sales, said they are compelled to again limit purchases of toilet paper and paper towels to one or two packs per person after photos circulated widely on social media showing empty shelves in stores. 

The buying restrictions – and images of stripped shelves – are a reminder of Australia's initial response to the arrival of Covid-19 when shoppers squirreled away toilet rolls and other household items in anticipation of a protracted shutdown. (Read my post “Panicky Aussies Hoard Toilet Rolls” published March 08, 2020). 

With 7,641 cases and 104 deaths, Australia has been easing restrictions on movement – but a string of double-digit increases in cases in the second-most populous state, Victoria, led to a pause in the reopening there – and prompted shoppers to hoard. Just yesterday alone, the state recorded 41 new confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Why toilet rolls, you may ask? Your guess is as good as mine. 

But Australians are smart – they must know something the rest of us don’t know. 

Surely, there has to be a link between Covid-19 and toilet roll; there must be. But I won’t speculate because I must admit I’m not that clever.

Despite the Victoria spike, the prime minister and chief medical officer have said the coronavirus remains under control in Australia and the country will continue with its plan to reopen the economy.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The US is Drowning in Deep Shit

The US is drowning in deep shit!

The country had just hit a single-day record for new coronavirus cases. More than half the states were seeing increases in the rate of new cases. Multiple states were dealing with record numbers of coronavirus hospitalizations. 

And yet on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence told Americans:

A picture that is clearly at odds with reality! 

"Despite what you heard, we are in the middle of a public health disaster", CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta noted. 

It's no exaggeration to say that the antics of Donald Trump and his troupe of butt-kissers (including Pence) have become the laughing stock of the world!

India which sits at position No. 4 in the world now boasts half a million cases.


We can't ignore the fact that Covid-19 is having a field day too in three Latin American countries, i.e. Peru, Chile and Mexico – they recorded 270,000, 260,000 and 200,000 cases respectively.

Bangladesh tries hard to keep pace and managed to secure 130,000 cases.

Also, Iran and Canada deserve special mention because on Thursday, they registered 10,000 and 8,500 deaths respectively.

UK's Royal Mail Pay Tribute to Queen

Eight of the 13 postage stamps from the Queen collection. Picture: Royal Mail

One of the Royal Mail Queen presentation packs. Picture: Royal Mail 

UK’s Royal Mail stamps which usually showcase images of royalty and the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth, will now feature a different kind of Queen! 

The iconic band – comprising Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and the late Freddie Mercury – are to be immortalized on a series of postage stamps from the Royal Mail. The said collection of 13 stamps marks their 50th anniversary next month. 

They will go on sale from July 09 featuring the artwork of the most popular album covers, including Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera, News of the World, The Game, The Works, and Innuendo. 

As well as some of the band's incredible live performances too, including pictures of Freddie Mercury at Wembley Stadium in 1986, Roger Taylor at Hyde Park in 1976, John Deacon at Hammersmith Odeon in 1975, and Brian May in Budapest in 1986. 

"It’s hard to put into words what I feel when looking at these beautiful stamps", guitarist Brian May (left) said. 

"Sometimes it’s strange to wake up and realise the position in which we are now held – we have become a national institution! And nothing brings this home more than this incredible tribute from Royal Mail". 

Drummer Roger Taylor (right) added: “Wow... stamps featuring our albums! What an honour. We must be really part of the furniture now! Thanks Royal Mail for stamping on us! In gratitude”. 

Queen will be the third rock band to receive the honour, following the Beatles in 2007 and Pink Floyd in 2016.

Friday, June 26, 2020

The US is Still No. 1

The US of A is still the undisputed world No. 1! On Thursday, coronavirus cases in Donald Trump’s country topped 2.5 million. And more than 125,000 deaths. No other country comes close! 

But CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield (right) was daring to come out and say that the true number of cases is likely to be 10 times higher than the reported figure. That means, at least 20 million people have been infected with Covid-19! 

Trump certainly did a good job alright! 

Brazil is No. 2 with 1.2 million cases:

It is also noteworthy to mention that Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have surpassed 170,000 and 50,000 confirmed cases respectively on Thursday:

Yesterday, I was at the Zoom meeting of the IJM Toastmasters Club – again at the invitation of Mathura Lakshmi. 

I evaluated her Write a Compelling Blog speech which was titled The Queen Bee Talks. Two objectives – first, review or introduce the skills needed to write and maintain a blog, and second, share some aspect of her experience maintaining a blog. 

Yes, for sure, she met both her objectives. And as always, I have enjoyed her speech immensely.


Liverpool's 30-year pause has ended! 

Yesterday, Chelsea beat Manchester City 2-1 to confirm the Reds as Premier League title-holders. 

Jurgen Klopp's side needed just one victory to seal the EPL – but because the Citizens failed to win, it means the Reds cannot be caught. 

And so, Liverpool earn their 19th top-flight title and their first since 1989-90. 

Indeed, it has been a long time coming but the wait is finally over! 

Liverpool are the victors of England again – having earned that honor 11 times between 1973 and 1990. 


By quirk of fate, though, the next time they take to the field will be at the side they have beaten to this season's title and who pipped them so narrowly last campaign, Manchester City.

Not surprisingly, celebrations have erupted in Liverpool! If I was there, I would have joined in too!