2021-02-17: News Headlines

Staff (2021-02-17). Headlines for February 17, 2021. democracynow.org Severe Winter Storm Kills 23 People, Cuts Power to Millions as Texas Energy System Fails, Storm Creates Havoc for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout as Biden Seeks Support from Public for Stimulus, NAACP Files Lawsuit Against Trump, Giuliani over Jan. 6 Insurrection, French Assembly Approves Bill Accused of Targeting Muslim Communities, Chad Sending Troops to Sahel, France Will Maintain Military Presence, as Conflict Claims More Lives, Protests Erupt over Spanish Rapper Arrested for Anti-Monarchy Lyrics and Tweets, Biden Directs DHS to Stop Using Word "Alien" to Refer to Immigrants and Asylum Seekers, Biden Received $5 Mil…

Martha Grevatt (2021-02-17). From electric vehicles to corruption — UAW faces huge challenges. workers.org General Motors CEO Mary Barra raised more than a few eyebrows Jan. 28, when she announced GM would have an all-electric product line by 2035. This planned phaseout of fossil fuel-burning vehicles represents a serious departure from four years ago, when GM joined the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers in calling . . . |

Staff (2021-02-17). "Work Won't Love You Back": Sarah Jaffe on Toxic U.S. Work Culture & the Fight Against Inequality. democracynow.org Amid the economic crisis and precarious working conditions for millions of people during the pandemic, we look at a new book by Sarah Jaffe, an independent journalist and author who covers labor and economic justice. "Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone" looks at the unsustainable expectations of fulfillment around work and how the "labor of love" myth has contributed to the rise of toxic workplaces. Jaffe says the pandemic has shown that work can always get worse, and that more and more people are pushing back. "It's not just that it's a bad, grinding, slow…

Staff (2021-02-17). "David vs. Goliath": Warehouse Workers in Alabama Fight Amazon for the Right to Unionize. democracynow.org Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are continuing to vote on whether to become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States. Their demands include stronger COVID-19 safety measures and relief from impossibly high productivity standards that leave many unable to take bathroom breaks. "We want to be heard. We want to be treated like people and not ignored when we have issues," says Jennifer Bates, a worker at Amazon's BHM1 facility who has been part of the union drive from the beginning. We also speak with Michael Foster, a poultry plant worker, union member and member-organizer with RWDSU. "Amazon h…

Staff (2021-02-17). Teacher Unions: We Want to Reopen Schools as Well, But We Need Vaccines & Resources to Do It Safely. democracynow.org As school districts across the U.S. debate how to safely bring children into the classroom, we speak with two leaders of the teachers' union movement on what's at stake as schools reopen. Stacy Davis Gates, executive vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says years of underfunding and privatization have left many school districts ill-equipped to meet the needs of students, as well as educators. "It's not just the context of opening schools. It's reopening schools safely with the resources that are necessary to keep people safe," she tells Democracy Now! We also speak with Randi Weingarten, president of th…

teleSUR (2021-02-17). Venezuela to Launch Its COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign. telesurenglish.net Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro Wednesday informed his country will start its vaccination campaign with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine this Thursday. | RELATED: | "We will begin immunizing health workers with the 100,000 doses that arrived in the country on Feb. 15," he said, adding that the government will guarantee the health and lives of the people "thanks to cooperation between Russia and Venezuela." | Law enforcemen…

teleSUR (2021-02-17). Colombia: New Massacre Leaves 5 Dead and One Injured. telesurenglish.net Colombia's Defense Minister Diego Molano on Wednesday reported that at least five coffee pickers were killed and one man was wounded in an armed attack in the Antioquia Department. | RELATED: | "The attack occurred on Tuesday around 21h00 local time on a coffee farm in the La Ermita village," Molano explained, adding that local authorities are identifying the victims. | A survivor told local outlets that five hooded men armed with long-range…

RT (2021-02-17). Texas disaster is what happens when you DON'T pursue a Green New Deal — AOC. rt.com Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has blasted Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state's infrastructure planning, claiming her Green New Deal would better prepare areas for extreme weather conditions. | "The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you *don't* pursue a Green New Deal," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Wednesday. | The message appeared to be in response to Abbott criticizing a potential Green New Deal due to many renewable energy sources like solar panels and wind turbines failing in the state's historically cold weather. In an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday ev…

Real Progressives (2021-02-17). COVID-19 Has Made Americans Lonelier Than Ever — Here's how AI can Help. realprogressives.org "How does that make you feel?" | In the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are missing a sympathetic ear. Would a response like that make you feel heard, less alone, even if it were a machine writing back to you? | The pandemic has contributed to

Eds. (2021-02-17). Vulture Funds plan to use the Pandemic to pillage the Global Economy. mronline.org Before the pandemic, private equity had amassed $2.5 trillion—more than the GDP of Italy—in 'dry powder,' waiting for distressed assets to plunder. Covid-19 provided them with the perfect opportunity.

John Bachtell (2021-02-17). For the sake of democracy, kill off the Senate filibuster. peoplesworld.org The nation's economic outlook is worsening, and new, more contagious COVID-19 variants worry public health officials. In response, the Democratic-led House and Senate are moving quickly to pass President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan (ARP) through the process of budget reconciliation. This process requires a simple majority vote in the U.S. Senate. Budget reconciliation is …

Staff (2021-02-17). 'We're not a charity case, we're under occupation'. therealnews.com Telling Israel to be a kinder occupying force does nothing to address the structural violence of Israeli occupation, which has been laid bare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

teleSUR (2021-02-17). Paraguay to Receive First Batch of Sputnik V Vaccines. telesurenglish.net Paraguay's President Mario Abdo on Wednesday thanked Russia's President Vladimir Putin for supplying his country with Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines. | RELATED: | "I hold an excellent telephone conversation with President Putin. We agreed to push for a shipment schedule for more COVID-19 vaccine batches as soon as possible," Abdo tweeted. | The first 4,000 Sputnik V doses should arrive in this South American country early Friday mo…

MEE correspondent (2021-02-17). Covid-19: Mass medic migration leaves Iran in pandemic panic. middleeasteye.net Covid-19: Mass medic migration leaves Iran in pandemic panic | The pandemic has driven Iran's doctors and nurses to foreign countries that offer better financial and workplace incentives, as well as respect for the healthcare profession | Wed, 02/17/2021 – 14: 42 | As Iran struggles with the coronavirus outbreak, many Iranian doctors and nurses have chosen to emigrate for better pay and…

Rafael Figueroa (2021-02-17). Tennessee to Begin COVID-19 Vaccination of Adults Age 65 and Older, Teachers. laprensalatina.com NASHVILLE, TN (THD) — Tennessee will begin registering Tennesseans aged 65 and older and those in Phase 1b of the state's COVID-19 Vaccination Plan COVID-19 for vaccinations on Feb. 22. Phase 1b includes staff members of kindergarten through 12th grade schools and childcare facilities. TDH has launched a new online scheduling tool that allows users …

Online News Editor (2021-02-17). An order of tuna sashimi, please. Have the robot bring it to me! laprensalatina.com By Marc Arcas Rohnert Park, California, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- "An order of tuna sashimi. And have the robot bring it to me, please!" Minutes later, a cylinder about a meter (3.3 feet) high with trays inside slides toward the table bearing the Japanese delicacy. It's the restauranteurs' new assistant during these Covid times. At the …

Online News Editor (2021-02-17). Thousand-year old Chinese dance tradition struggles amid Covid restrictions. laprensalatina.com Bangkok, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- The Lion Dance is a form of tradition originating in China dating back thousands of years, which is usually performed during Lunar New Year celebrations to bring good fortune for the year ahead. This year, however, most troupes have seen bookings for their performances disappear because of restrictions to slow the …

Online News Editor (2021-02-17). Tokio Olympics organizers express 'full confidence' in anti-Covid measures. laprensalatina.com Tokyo, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Wednesday highlighted the positive reception of the anti-Covid measures outlined in the first version of their playbooks — guides — for participants. "The publication of the playbooks has had an extraordinary impact on everyone. (…) The overwhelming result was total …

Online News Editor (2021-02-17). Mexico's vaccine rollout reaching seniors in remote areas. laprensalatina.com By Jose de Jesus Cortes Cuicatlan, Mexico, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- Mostly hopeful but also dealing with a certain degree of anxiety, senior citizens in this small town in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca are being administered their first doses of a long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine. Accompanied by his daughter and clutching a wooden cane, Eustaquio …

Online News Editor (2021-02-17). Japan begins Covid-19 vaccination drive with healthcare workers. laprensalatina.com Tokyo, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- Japan began its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 on Wednesday, in a first phase in which it aims to inoculate 40,000 healthcare workers. The first doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, the only one approved so far in Japan, were administered at a public hospital in Tokyo and will be expanded …

Online News Editor (2021-02-17). New Zealand ends Auckland lockdown despite new infections. laprensalatina.com Sydney, Australia, Feb 17 (efe-epa).- New Zealand announced Wednesday an end to the three-day confinement decreed in Auckland, home to 1.7 million people and the most populous city in the country, despite confirming three new Covid-19 positives. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference that the transmission "is contained," although some …

RT (2021-02-17). Biden promises vaccines available to all Americans by end of July, 'significantly' less social distancing & masks a year from now. rt.com President Biden has predicted a "very different circumstance" for the US' Covid-19 outbreak by Christmas, saying some 600 million vaccine doses will be ready by July while noting that he's been advised against 'over-promising.' | Biden waxed optimistic about the ongoing viral outbreak during a CNN town hall event on Tuesday, declaring that "by next Christmas, I think we'll be in a very different circumstance, God willing, than we are today." He said the improvement would be further helped along if an inoculation developed by Johnson & Johnson receives FDA approval, as it is expected to sometime this month. | "

RT (2021-02-17). 'Breathing is optional': Internet groans after NYC requires double-masking inside federal court buildings. rt.com Two masks will now be required for those who want to enter a federal court building in Manhattan — but the new Covid-19 guidance has provoked more mockery than applause on social media. | The Southern District of New York

RT (2021-02-17). 'Verbal stumble' or blatant lie? Biden says US had no vaccine when he took office as new admin criticizes Trump's jab rollout. rt.com Joe Biden, who was fully vaccinated before his inauguration, has been accused of playing loose with the facts after stating that there was no Covid-19 shot when he entered office. But some insist it was a harmless verbal slip. | Read more | | Speaking with CNN's Anderson Cooper at a town hall event on Tuesday, the US president explained in a rather disjointed way that the United States lacked both vaccines and health workers capable of administering…

_____ (2021-02-17). NATO-Linked Think Tank Proposes Biden Adopt Venezuela-Style 'Regime Change' Policies Towards Belarus. popularresistance.org The Biden administration should be massively boosting its funding to opposition groups in Belarus while increasing sanctions on the country in order to force out the current government, according to a discussion hosted by the highly influential Atlantic Council. | Kayla Popuchet is minoring in Slavic studies as part of her education in Latin American and Eastern European politics at City University of New York. Popuchet, who is also a regular contributor to Anticonquista and a New York City Housing Court Specialist, recently attended an online meeting about Belarus organised by the Atlantic Council, widely regard…

Anya Parampil (2021-02-17). UN expert details crushing human toll of US sanctions on Venezuela. thegrayzone.com Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with Alena Douhan, UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, about her recent trip to Venezuela. In her first interview since the publication of the preliminary findings of her mission to Venezuela, Professor Douhan discusses her main takeaways from the visit, her method for investigating, as well as the response to her report.

_____ (2021-02-17). UN Expert Details Crushing Human Toll Of US Sanctions On Venezuela. popularresistance.org Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with Alena Douhan, UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights, about her recent trip to Venezuela. | In her first interview since the publication of the preliminary findings of her mission to Venezuela, Professor Douhan discusses her main takeaways from the visit, her method for investigating, as well as the response to her report.

RT (2021-02-17). Playing politics while Texans freeze? Gov. Abbott grilled after blaming Green New Deal for his state's power woes. rt.com Texas Governor Greg Abbott has singled out renewable energy as the culprit behind his state's devastating power outages, sparking accusations that he is trying to skirt responsibility for the crisis. | Frigid temperatures have shut down some of Texas' wind turbines and solar panels, as well as natural gas infrastructure in the Lone Star state. As a result, millions of residents have been left in freezing conditions without power, resulting in numerous deaths. | Speaking with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday, Abbott suggested that the failure of so-called "sustainable" energy sources such as wind and solar…

Patrick Cockburn (2021-02-17). The Arab Spring Failed But the Rage Against Misery and Injustice Continues. counterpunch.org Ten years ago, people across the Middle East and North Africa rose up in protest against their rulers, demanding freedom and democracy. Despotic rulers were toppled or feared that power was being torn from their grasp in countries across the region, as millions of demonstrators surged through the streets, chanting that "the people demand the fall of the regime".

Scott Williams (2021-02-17). Solidarity accelerates with Amazon workers' union drive in Alabama. workers.org Solidarity with the struggle of 5,800+ Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala., to unionize continues to grow, following the heroic lead of this majority-Black workforce fighting for justice on the job. Walking the Powder Plant Road approach to the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.,where a union drive is underway by the . . . |

A Guest Author (2021-02-17). Incarcerated workers say: 'Solidarity with Amazon workers!'. workers.org The following letters from incarcerated workers in the Pennsylvania prison system were sent by email on Feb. 13 and 15 to Joe Piette, a member of the Prisoners Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party. From SCI Frackville As I've advised you before, anything that I can do for the people, . . . |

A Guest Author (2021-02-17). Incarcerated workers say: 'Solidarity with Amazon workers!'. workers.org The following letters from incarcerated workers in the Pennsylvania prison system were sent by email on Feb. 13 and 15 to Joe Piette, a member of the Prisoner Solidarity Committee of Workers World Party. From SCI Frackville As I've advised you before, anything that I can do . . . |

Betsey Piette (2021-02-17). Morgan Lewis lawyers — high-paid union-busting thugs. workers.org In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bosses hired Pinkerton Agency goon squads to infiltrate unions, break strikes and intimidate workers who were trying to organize. Graphic: supportamazonworkers.org Today's hired union-busting thugs are more likely to be high-paid lawyers tasked with turning labor laws — intended to protect workers . . . |

Binoy Kampmark (2021-02-17). The "Return" of America: Biden's Maiden Foreign Policy Speech. counterpunch.org Few could have been slack-jawed at the first significant foreign policy speech of US President Joe Biden. It can easily be filed under the "America is back" label. Back as well, as if the previous administration had been incapable of it, was a promise for that practice unflatteringly called jaw-jaw. "Diplomacy," the President states from

W. T. Whitney (2021-02-17). To Normalize US-Cuban Relations, Restore Working Embassies. counterpunch.org The new Biden administration may soon ease regulations enforcing the U.S. economic blockade against Cuba. However, if Oregon Senator Ron Wyden's new bill, the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021, becomes law, the blockade itself will disappear. Meanwhile, the two countries' embassies in Havana and Washington are dysfunctional. No normal relations will obtain until they are

Leif Autzen (2021-02-17). Columbus OH activists fight closure of park, site of a homeless encampment. liberationnews.org The city's decision to close the park without offering alternative plans to house the people who live there exposes the city's failure to care for its most vulnerable residents.

Aboulfotouh Kandil (2021-02-17). Trump's right-wing Egyptian allies attack Biden administration and Dems. peoplesworld.org Egypt's miserable record on human rights has resulted in two Democrats launching a congressional group to deal with the situation. On Jan. 25, Democratic Reps. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Don Beyer of Virginia announced the formation of the "Egypt Human Rights Caucus." Egyptian human rights organizations and activists in the U.S. have responded …

Eds. (2021-02-17). Leading from the front: The role of women in Farmers' movement. mronline.org As lakhs of farmers continue their protest against the new farm legislations introduced by the Modi government, a remarkable number of women are not only braving the rough weather by participating in these demonstrations but are also leading from the front.

Audrey Huff (2021-02-17). 22-year old climate change organizer arrested in India. liberationnews.org Disha Ravi is accused of "sedition" for allegedly helping to create a digital "toolkit" to support the farmers' struggle.

Raouf Halaby (2021-02-17). Israelis, In God's Name, Why? counterpunch.org "The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is a time to mourn those who disappeared and to reflect upon the choice of the individuals and governments that allowed this genocide to unfold. It is also a call for vigilance and for action, to address the root causes of hatred

James K. Galbraith (2021-02-17). Congressional Budget Office Not Competent to Assess Economics of Minimum Wage. counterpunch.org A Congressional Budget Office Report on the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 underpins a February 11 Washington Post editorial headlined, "Democrats Must Listen to the Data."

Staff (2021-02-17). THIS is why 'deregulation' is deadly. therealnews.com Millions of Texans are struggling to keep warm and survive Winter Storm Uri. Meanwhile, Republicans like Texas Gov. Greg Abbot are rushing to save their own asses, pushing the blame for power grid failures onto anyone but themselves; but they, and years of market-serving conservative governance, caused this mess.

Gary Leupp (2021-02-17). The Iran Deal: Biden and Blinken, Wykan and Blynkin. counterpunch.org Trump's attack on the Iran Deal was based on his ego, but done in tandem with apartheid-Israel and rogue state Saudi Arabia, whose vile leaders advised him to bomb Iran; he was reportedly on the verge of starting a war (in June 2019 and November 2020) when his more level-headed advisors checked him. (We must always recall that however sickening the Trump years they did not produce another criminal war.) Meantime Trump deeply annoyed the Europeans, such as the Deal's co-signers Germany, Britain and France, by thwarting major investment projects in the Islamic Republic. These included a factory to produce much need…

alexander (2021-02-17). Twitch.tv: A new frontier for the Left. dsausa.org Will Twitch hold an active role in the next campaign cycle? Will the Left be able to utilize this platform not only for electoral politics, but for direct action too?

Emily Denny (2021-02-17). Texans freeze as fossil-fuel power grid fails, but conservatives blame wind turbines. peoplesworld.org While Texans suffer from freezing temperatures and extensive power outages, frozen wind turbines are being used as a ploy to spread skepticism on the reliability of renewable energy. This week, a relentless winter storm pummeled through parts of the southern and central U.S., causing people to crank their electric heating systems. In Texas, the energy demand became too high for …

Michele de Mello (2021-02-17). Agro-ecology project links peasant production to urban communes in Venezuela. peoplesdispatch.org "Only the people can save the people." With this idea in mind, the Pueblo a Pueblo Foundation (People to people, in Spanish) seeks to apply in real life, union and solidarity between the countryside and the city. The project is based on bringing food produced by rural Venezuelan communities to urban communes. The goal is to shut out intermediaries, and ensure the societal division of agricultural production: ensuring that the farmer does not lose his harvest, and that the consumer can have access to a diversified basic food basket at a fair price. | "The Pueblo a Pueblo plan has working on this dimension of agroe…

Liberation Staff, Texas (2021-02-17). Texas infrastructure nears complete collapse as capitalist neglect meets climate change-driven winter storms. liberationnews.org Four million or more Texans are without power. Outages that were initially called "rolling outages" are now lasting several days. The private non-profit corporation that oversees the electric grid is now admitting that they are "unable to predict" when conditions will stabilize.

Gary Leupp (2021-02-17). The Iran Deal: Biden and Blinken, Wynken and Blynken. counterpunch.org Trump's attack on the Iran Deal was based on his ego, but done in tandem with apartheid-Israel and rogue state Saudi Arabia, whose vile leaders advised him to bomb Iran; he was reportedly on the verge of starting a war (in June 2019 and November 2020) when his more level-headed advisors checked him. (We must always recall that however sickening the Trump years they did not produce another criminal war.) Meantime Trump deeply annoyed the Europeans, such as the Deal's co-signers Germany, Britain and France, by thwarting major investment projects in the Islamic Republic. These included a factory to produce much need…

Liberation Staff, Texas (2021-02-17). Texas infrastructure nears collapse, millions without power, water. liberationnews.org Four million or more Texans are without power. Outages that were initially called "rolling outages" are now lasting several days. The private non-profit corporation that oversees the electric grid is now admitting that they are "unable to predict" when conditions will stabilize.

Jordan Woll (2021-02-17). Fight for $15: Is Biden trying to sabotage key provision of his own stimulus bill? liberationnews.org One of the biggest unanswered questions regarding the stimulus package is whether or not it will include a provision to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.