Memorial for George Floyd

25 May 2021

sighfor Floyd

We marked the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder in front of Philadelphia's City Hall. We refer to his death as "murder" because on April 21st, Former Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of just that. There were memorials all over the country today and the Floyd family met with President Biden. From NBC News:

Floyd's death prompted a summer of international protests against police brutality and calls for changes in policing. It has also come to symbolize and has given momentum to the fight for racial justice.

Still, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds and limit no-knock warrants, among other police accountability reforms, has stalled in Congress, a development that has frustrated activists and members of Floyd's family.

H.R.1 - For the People Act of 2021 was passed on 3 March. That voting rights act of 2021 and HR 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 (Passed June 25th of last year), both face uphill battles getting through the Senate.

initial crowd

Two problems: Republicans are united in opposing pretty much anything that will help America and that's beeen true since President Obama was inaugurated. Democrats have a razor-thin majority in the Senate, 50 Democratic senators plus the Vice-President. They could eiminate the filibuster if they were all united in doing so, but two of their senators, Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, appear to have a hard time  with eliminating that roadblock.
On Biden's proposed infrastructure package, Manchin's latest statement is “There’s no magic date and there’s no magic time. We have to find something reasonable, and I’m always looking for that moderate, reasonable middle, if you can.” Problem is, for the other political party, a "reasonable" amount to spend on infrastructure is zip. Biden just reduced his bid for an infrastructure package from $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion. The Republican counter-offer is $0.6 to $1 trillion.
But not to worry, Manchin says:
"This is the long game, it's not a short game." Which might make sense if Manchin were in the position of Fidel Castro or Mao Zedong, y'know, leading a guerrilla movement out in the wilderness. It's not clear how, in a democracy, with it's fixed terms of two years per Representative and six years for a Senator, etc., a "long term game" would play out.
The problem is, the lack of filibuster reform is a problem across the board. If the Democrats can't get anything else done before the 2022 mid-term election, they might very well lose their thin majority in the House, Senate or both.

crowd observing

After 11 days of intense fighting, Israel and Palestinians called a truce. The fighting was highly asymmetrical. The physical power of Israel greatly outmatched anything Palestinians could bring to the field:

At least 243 people, including more than 100 women and children, were killed in Gaza, according to its health ministry. Israel has said it killed at least 225 militants during the fighting. Hamas has not given casualty figures for fighters.

In Israel 12 people, including two children, were killed, its medical service says.

Two pieces survey the damage done, the first by the Times of Israel does a good job surveying the physical damage done to Hamas in Gaza, Mondoweiss looks at the political damage done to the state of Israel and their public image, especially in the US. The Times feels that Israelis have nowhere to go, that their back is to the wall, that they must prevail or perish. But Israel is not an island that can fulfill all of its own needs. They need to trade with the outside world, they get $3 billion a year from the US and they simply can't afford to come across as brutes. 
A major problem for Israel is that Palestinians are united as never before.

For the first time in many years, we see the Palestinian people united, from Jerusalem Al-Quds, to Gaza, to the West Bank and, even more critically, to the Palestinian communities, towns and villages inside historic Palestine – today's Israel.

This unity matters the most, is far more consequential than some agreement between Palestinian factions.

Kmeeing to commemorate the nine-plus minutes that Floyd was choked for. Film clip.

The beginning of the conflict was in the Sheikh Jarrah set of houses in East Jerusalem. There is an Israeli law that gave Isrealis the right to take those houses. Problem is in the larger context. For decades, Israel has been taking land and houses away from Palestinians who were living in the West Bank, an area which has been occupied since 1967. This has resulted in an apartheid type of system. The US and other countries turned against South Africa even though white South Africans similarly had their backs to the wall. A survey of how South Africa has fared since apartheid was ended there is certainly mixed. It's nowhere near as bad as the most dire predictions, but it is heavily corrupt and the economy isn't much better than it was for non-white South Africans. There are of course many differences, but the essential debate today is between having one state, with all lands (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza) under one government and between two states, a solution that has been the objective since many decades ago.

last speaker

One piece of extremely good news is that oil companies really suffered some very serious setbacks this past Wednesday (26 May) as far as burning fossil fuels went.  Long-time climate activist Bill McKibben writes about that.

A piece of not-so-good news is that the Arizona "recount" continues. An interesting interview with a politician who is heavily pushing it reveals that she has absolutely no sense of balance or proportion. She seems to believe that if we spend millions of dolars and consume months of effort and divert hundreds of people and find one or two fraudulent ballots, then the whole effort will have been worth it. Never mind that there are many other things we could have been doing with all that money, time and effort. The Governor of Arizona admits that they still have not uncovered any fraud! The really bad news on that is that other states are starting to copy Arizona!