“Current Affairs” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

This morning I woke up again. I pinched myself. Yes, it was for real. I checked up WhatsApp. My cousin had posted a new cure for Covid-19; something like grinding ten pieces of resins with turmeric and cumin seeds then mixing those in five ounces of rum. I deleted her message without reading any further.

Next I checked my Instagram account. I am one of those people who has an account but posts nothing. An acquaintance of mine had posted her picture vacationing in front of the Eiffel Tower. She has never been outside India, so it was, probably, most definitely fake.

I had a new follower on Twitter. I was excited because I don’t have many followers there. She was @Shabana. Unfortunately, she turned out to be a cyber hooker. I blocked her.

I don’t watch cable TV (neither Fox nor CNN), so I turned to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. They had the same headlines. The Times reported that the economy was sinking as 1.2 million folks had claimed for new unemployment benefits in the last week. The Journal reported that the economy was improving because only 1.2 million people claimed unemployment benefits last week compared to the week before.

In the midst of all this, I wondered what happened to the Covid-19 vaccine? Remember Remdesivir, Moderna and Sinovac 99? Even President Trump and Dr. Fauci got us excited about those. Every time they came up with a cure, the stock jumped hundreds of points. So, I decided to read about them on the Internet. Moderna is under investigation. The investigation concerns whether Moderna and certain of its officers have engaged in fraud, negligence or other unlawful business practices such as buying a big chunk of their own stocks prior to the announcement. I won’t blame them. If not in America, the land of opportunity then where else? Do we expect them to go to Gambia?

Wait a minute, something just flashed on my screen. Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a deli employee called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. A white police officer pressed his knee against victim’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Mr. Floyd died of asphyxia (lack of oxygen). Three more officers watched the incident as bystanders. A liberal friend of mine who watches CNN 12 hours a day called me and said that Trump had caused his death. These kinds of incidents never happened before 2017. Later a conservative friend, who watches Fox, told me that it was plotted by the Democrats to dim the prospects of the Republicans in the November election.

Several people called me to find out what I would write about these events in TheThinkClub. For a change, it’s your turn. I am all ears. What do I know? “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. (Socrates).”

“The Migrants of Bihar” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’While we were

quarantined in the comfort of our homes, a great many poor laborers in India were starving, being harassed and walking back 600 to 800 miles to their mud houses in the state of Bihar from Delhi and Mumbai, the political and financial capitals of India respectively. This is a human tragedy still happening in India.

While growing up in the state of Bihar in India, I witnessed those folks called ‘mazdoors,’ meaning laborers, living under dire poverty and slavery. They worked for ‘zamindars,’ (landlords) who made them sweat in their paddy-fields along with mazdoors’ wives and children for 12 to 13 hours a day in return for two meals a day consisting of low-quality rice (inconsumable for us), lentil, onion and salt. Many a time I witnessed them getting corporal punishment by the entire zamindar clan for suspected stealing of rice crops.

The government of Bihar mired in corruption and casteism, never created industries to employ them. Millions of those laborers left Bihar to work on per-diem wages in mega cities of India. Ironically, they are still called migrants in their own country. I’ll label them even worse. They are ‘disposables’ the way they are treated. Millions of them lost jobs, ‘jhuggi-jhopris’ (slum houses) and means to feed their families due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Modi administration totally neglected them. As a result, those poor masses started marching back to Bihar in despair.

They’ll still be starving there as there are no jobs back home. The government of Bihar has offered to give Rs.500 (7 US Dollars) to each returning so-called migrant in the name of relief. The plight of thousands of migrant workers walking back to their native places from major cities can be felt and seen on television channels by everyone. Earlier, they walked on highways but when police at some places started harassing them, they took to walking along railway tracks. Some were run over by running trains. The government failed to provide transportation for them. As I am writing this article, the Railways of India have started special trains to take them back home.

Many of the migrants walking hundreds of miles died of heat, exhaustion, and starvation. Many were road-kills. One of the leading newspapers in Kolkata wrote, “The story of a New India would be written in the blood of those starving.” Thousands of them are still on roads, walking hundreds of miles with children and their meager belongings.

The stories of the disenfranchised working people lost in the grip of the administration’s indifference and lockdown is nothing new today. Shocking visuals remind me of Hindi-language film “Do Bigha Zamin”1953 directed by Bimal Roy, based on Rabindranath Tagore‘s famous Bengali poem “Dui Bigha Jomi“. That was in 1953. Nothing has changed for those poor masses in India which claims to be an advanced nation and a leading world-economy now.

The post COVID-19 situation does not look all that promising for them. I have witnessed the world sympathize with the plights of Central American migrants (who are fed and sheltered decently), the Syrian refugees and the Rohingyas, but no one seems to care for these Bihari migrants.

Please write to your Senators and Congressmen/women to pay attention to their plight as they did for others. Kindly send a donation to ‘COvID-19 Migrant workers Relief Fund’ by clicking here: https://www.responsenet.org/donations-for-covid-19-migrant-workers-relief-fund/. Please don’t tell me that this happens in other countries also. For now, let us do something for them.

“Now a Word about the #Deplorables” –by #AnilShrivastava, “#Musafir”

“Deplorables” is a synonym for the proletariats (working class) used by the liberal elites. This was introduced into the lexicon by their leader, Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2016 presidential election to describe the working class who favored Donald Trump over her.
The hate and undermining of the proletariats by the bourgeois (middle-class elites) have been the reason for the last three major revolutions in modern history, viz. the French Revolution (1788-89), the Russian Revolution (1917) and the Chinese Revolution (1949).
Before the French Revolution took place, the upper class was always ensured a stable living while the French population was starving. The proletariats expressed their desperation and resentment toward a regime that imposed heavy taxes without providing any relief by rioting, looting and striking resulting in the beheadings of Louis XVI and his wife, Mary Antoinette.
History was repeated prior to the Russian Revolution as the capitalist bourgeoisie mercilessly exploited the proletariat. As a result, the Bolsheviks (later known as the Communists) under the leadership of Lenin came in power. Tsar Nicolas II and his family were gunned down.
The Chinese Revolution had a similar scenario that brought Mao Zedong to power. The then Prime Minister, Chiang-Kai Shek fled to the island of Formosa (now Taiwan).
Disturbingly, I see history repeating itself. The liberal elites, living a secured life, have no idea how the so called deplorables (proletariats) are providing us safety by sacrificing lives of their children in wars far away from home. The liberal elites don’t appreciate folks who labor to build our infrastructure for us to function; work in fields so that we can have food on our tables and start small businesses that employ others like them. The worst part is that these elites have a disdain for the working class. I remember going to a party (pre-Covid-19 era) where a gentleman sipping on scotch replied to me, ”What else do you expect those bums to do? They aren’t educated like our children!” The same person had left his old country to come to the US because he couldn’t have afforded the same status and riches there. He calls himself a liberal. Liberal to whom?
The so called deplorables are proud Americans (really, many of us use this phrase just as a cliché). They wave the American flag, they love motor sports, baseball and apple pie. Their forefathers came here much before we did. They built the highways and the byways, the justice system and they had the vision for human rights and the American way. My forefathers were not here before. We came here for a better life, the life that was already made available for us to avail of.
The so called deplorables want the economy to open up because their livelihood is hurting; their children need food and they want dignity not handouts. The Congress just passed another 3 trillion dollars in the name of Coronavirus. Of course, it will be a DOA (dead on arrival) in the Senate. I wonder why not take one trillion out of there and start infrastructure programs. That will give employment to so called deplorables and will expand the economy.
I’d like to quote Peggy Noonan. Her article, “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Lockdown” appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 14, 2020. She wrote, “There is a class divide between those who are hard-liner on lockdowns and those who are pushing back. We see the professionals on one side—those James Burnham called the managerial elite, and Michael Lind, in “The New Class War,” calls “the overclass”—and regular people on the other. The overclass are highly educated and exert outsize influence as managers and leaders of important institutions—hospitals, companies, statehouses. The normal people aren’t connected through professional or social lines to power structures, and they have regular jobs—service worker, small-business owner.”
It is time we come down from our ivory towers and meet common Joe who makes our lives worth living every day, if not out of love then out of fear.
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“How To Purge Coronavirus from Your Body” Humor by Musafir

July 20 swami

Do you know anyone who may have contracted Coronavirus? Do you worry that Coronavirus may ruin the economy and cripple the entire human civilization? Relax! The doctors and big pharma companies won’t tell you how people in other parts of the world are ridding themselves of the virus without going to the hospital or any spiritual healer. If you care about our global family, your own family or for yourself, try these reliable and proven remedies at the comfort of your own home.

The Indians have defeated the Coronavirus just by blowing conch shells on their front porches. Our government will not tell you that since they don’t want to destruct our expensive medical system. In case you don’t know what a conch shell is, don’t bother. You may just clap instead. Of course, that won’t be as effective as a conch shell. Want the proof? India, a country of 1.3 billion people has recorded only 59,662 cases of Corona with fewer than 2,000 deaths as of May 8, 2019.

Many folks in the Far East countries are trying to fool Coronavirus by pretending to be dead. The brilliant epidemiologists of East Timor mutilated Corona cells and determined that their (Coronavirus’) IQ was as low as 5 or 6, therefore, it was quite easy to fool them. Once Corona senses them dead they depart from East Timor to other countries, preferably the United States. Only 25 people are infected with Corona in East Timor and no one has died with the infection yet.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ (Director-General, World Health Organization -WHO), own country, Ethiopia has recorded only 195 cases of Coronavirus and 5 deaths, so far. Their secret is the use of an herbal syrup. The herbal syrup is simple to make. Squeeze honeysuckle with opium flower. Mix them together in a blender. Pour the mixture in 5 ounces of golden rum from Chad (Chad is a country). That’s what, probably, Dry Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus uses himself. You have to believe him since he was the Health Minister of the great Abyssinian nation before joining WHO.

If you believe in flying pigs and unicorns, you may try this. Breathing hot air kills Coronavirus. The nation of Kiribati, where air is always hot, has not registered any virus cases, so far. Their Minister of Health, Dr. Kautu Tenaua has suggested breathing hot air from a hair dryer. Hey! I do it every day. Am I not free of Covid-19?

The best advice, so far, comes from Swami Chakrapani Maharaj. The Swami said cow urine and cow dung can be used for treating Coronavirus disease. The way to do it is shave all parts of your body and rub a generous amount of cow dung allover. Drink a cup of cow urine following that. You will be virus free within six hours. Swami Chakrapani Maharaj uses this on himself. If you still feel skeptical, You may like to look at his sunny face in the photo below.

Just the other day, a reliable source on Facebook (there is nothing more reliable than Facebook) suggested the following recipe to avoid and cure the Coronavirus. Boil 10 gm of water and mix it with musta, parpat, usher, udeechya and nagar. Drink it every day.

If everything else fails, do it the hard way. Isolate yourself from the world, wear facemask, wash your hands every 20 seconds for 20 seconds, look ugly, bicker with your spouse and watch the reruns of “Want to Marry Harry?” all day. Good luck!

The Chinese Are Coming! By Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

July 20 China corona

Years from now the story will be told how a Chinese eating his bat soup destroyed the economy of the Western civilization without firing a shot. The Chinese have made everyone a prisoner as all of us are under house arrest. Now, everyone is Europe and America is just washing hands and looking out the window to watch the grass grow. Nail salons, hair salons and barber shops are closed turning men and women into Gorillas. It’s getting ugly out here.

They just didn’t stop there. The Chinese closed our schools and institutions of higher learning making us morons. They closed our businesses, supply chains and factories making us unemployed. The farmers and slaughter houses are closing shops which will create food shortages and starvation very soon.

If this is not a new world order engineered by China then what is it? It was done very smartly. Did you ever think that how come the Coronavirus did not spread to other parts of China, especially in their big cities like Shanghai and Beijing while It spread in all parts in every other country?

China is already planning to use the downturn in Western economies to its benefit. They intend to seek out more foreign direct investment, seize market share in critical industries and influence Europe to be in their orbit abandoning the United States. I don’t think that the obsequious Europeans will resist that temptation.

China knows that the Western companies will come back to China, the biggest consumer market in the world. The big corporations do not believe in nationalism. “There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.” (Arthur Jensen in the 1976 film Network).

While America is standing still and China is normalized according to their well-executed plan, Chinese companies are expanding in the areas of 5G and Artificial Intelligence as well. Huawei, a Chinese company has already established its footprint in Europe despite America’s objections. Soon the Chinese will know what the other world leaders are planning and will have the capability to abort any American move against them.

Chinese workers are returning to factories while the USA and Europe are shutting down. The Chinese has a plan for tomorrow while we are running amok like a chicken with head cut off. The situation can get worse as many lawmakers are talking about removing tariffs on Chinese imports. The president of the Steel Union is echoing their voices. The UAW is resisting General Motor’s move to open factories in mid-May because they are getting paid while sitting home.

The purpose of this article is not to spread pessimism. We must be aware of the problem so that we can tackle them intelligently. We must open up our economy by maintaining proper safety protocol as soon as possible.

“This Too Shall Pass” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

july 20 pandemic oic

It happened in my own lifetime. Growing up in a village in India, we didn’t have electricity, phone, TV, cars, commercial flights, air-conditioning or central heating. Personal visit and snail mail were the only form of communication. It used to take at least a week to hear from someone replying to a letter. In an emergency, we used telegrams. We were happy most of the time and sad sometimes just like today. We didn’t miss any amenities mentioned above because they either didn’t exist at the time or were not available to us.

Most of us, at the present, are confined in our homes due to COVID-19 pandemic but we are still connected to the world through the Internet, TV, and phone. We live in houses equipped with hot water, central heating, air-conditioning, dish washer, washer and drier. Most of us are still earning a living working from home. The retirees get social security payments and health insurance through Medicare. Those who have become unemployed are getting stimulus money. Small businesses are kept afloat through generous federal loans. Life is good in general.

Still unhappy? Let’s compare our condition with the condition during the 1918 influenza pandemic also known as 1918 H1N1 pandemic, aka Spanish Flu. The number of deaths due to the 1918 pandemic was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States alone. During the 1918 flu there wasn’t a centralized federal response to the pandemic in the United States. The government was preoccupied with World War I so they didn’t put the same weight on stopping the pandemic as they do now. President Woodrow Wilson never publicly mentioned the epidemic contrary to the daily briefing given by President Trump and his Coronavirus task force. Chicago’s public health commission and many other cities flatly rejected closing businesses. (Excerpts taken from historian John Berry’s article in The Atlantic.)

At that time most of the folks didn’t have phone. They didn’t have TV, commercial flights, air-conditioning, central heating, automatic dish washer and washing machine either. They were happy most of the time and sad sometimes just like today. They didn’t miss any amenities mentioned above because they either didn’t exist at the time or were not available to them.

Thanks God, we are not living in those good old happy days anymore. Does that cheer you up? Be happy and be assured “This too shall pass.”

Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Let’s get real here. I cannot believe that Donald Trump has done nothing good in the last 40 months since assuming the office of the President of the United States of America. Listening to the Democrats and liberal media it seems that he hasn’t. Another problem is that millions of Americans, who wear the liberal labels on their sleeve, act as fanatics who would shout at your face with their mind focused on “Anyone but Trump.” I appreciate freedom of expression that we enjoy in our country. However, the blind and senseless hatred towards Trump has gone too far. I am an independent and have criticized the president in these columns whenever warranted, nevertheless, it’s time that I provide my readers with some facts to ponder.
First, we were obsessed with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, then we went after Trump family business, Trump’s dealings with Russia, James Comey’s firing, family separation policy of illegal immigrants (this rule was made by Trump’s predecessors), sanctuary cities and states, Mueller Report, impeachment, withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan and now his handling of China virus.
Yes, there is nothing racist in calling Coronavirus a China virus. Viruses are named after the places of origin such as Spanish flu, Lyme disease, Ebola fever, Noro virus, Zika fever, German measles and so on.
It seems that the liberal media can’t stop doctoring and truncating what President Trump says in order to fan hatred towards him. Just the other day, The New York Times reported that Dr. Fauci “has told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance.”
“I’ve never been muzzled and I’ve been doing this since Reagan.” Doctor Fauci responded. “That was a real misrepresentation of what happened.”
It was widely reported and believed that President Trump wanted to open the country arbitrarily. His full text was completely ignored that goes like, “I’ll not open the economy until we know this country is going to be healthy. We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again, even though it would be on a smaller scale.”
The media has been quoting the president out of context saying that he (the president) will overrule the governors. In fact, this is what the president said, “I like to allow governors to make decisions without overruling them because from a constitutional standpoint, that’s the way it should be done,” Trump said last Friday. “If I disagreed, I would overrule a governor, and I have that right to do it. But I’d rather have them … make their decisions.” He was referencing to the possibility of governors reopening their states prematurely which was totally omitted by the media.
Then there was this accusation about Mr. Trump not taking action early enough. He stopped flights from China on January 30, 2020. He was called xenophobic by Mr. Biden who later said, “45 nations had already moved” to restrict travel from China before the president moved.” The liberal media and the Democrats don’t talk about this.
Nancy Pelosi made the following statement, “His denial at the beginning was deadly, his delaying of getting equipment … to where it is needed is deadly, and now the best thing would be to do is to prevent more loss of life, rather than open things up so that, because we just don’t know,”
The fact remains that everything any state wanted was provided to them on time. Here is what Gavin Newsom, the Democratic Governor of California said, “We have the USNS Mercy in California because of [Trump’s] direct intervention and support, 2,000 of these federal medical stations because of his direct support. So I can only speak for myself, but I have to be complementary. Otherwise, I would be simply lying to you, misleading you, and that is a wonderful thing to be able to say, and I hope that continues.”
This is what New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said about Trump, “He has delivered for New York. He has. By and large it has worked.”
There is nothing wrong in opposing the president. As a matter of fact, it is a sign of a healthy democracy, but it is wrong to demonize someone unreasonably. Let’s look at both the sides of the coin and use our intellect without getting brainwashed by the media whether liberal or conservative. (I remember the conservative media thrashing President Obama at every turn). Even better, let not the talking heads think for us. I know that we are no less intelligent than them.

“Mr. Trump’s Fate Hangs in Balance” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

 

We all know that President Trump lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election by 2.9 million popular votes or by a margin of 2.1 percentage points, but he won the electoral college votes by a comfortable margin of 77 (304 for Donald Trump vs. 227 for Hillary Clinton). Mr. Trump was lucky there too since he won the so called battleground states by small margins – Michigan by 0.3%, Wisconsin by 1%, Pennsylvania by 1.2% and Florida by 1.3%.

The Democrats have still not reeled back from that upset and most of them are despairingly keeping the grudge against Donald Trump. Although the Democrats have failed to field any formidable candidate to run against Donald Trump in 2020, Mr. Trump’s return to the White House is far from certain. It will all depend on whether he will be able to pull the country out of the Coronavirus debacle physically and economically by the summer of 2020.

The Democrats will make this the focal point of the 2020 election and will keep no stone unturned to convince the voters, “It is economy, stupid.” The voters, excluding Mr. Trump’s base, will put all their money on the effectiveness and the result of Mr. Trump’s handling of the pandemic. They will critically look into every slip, slide and fall incurred by Mr. Trump and his advisers.

The voters live in the present and they do not care about past glories. We have recent examples of President Carter and George H W Bush.  Voters may very quickly forget about the best economy that the United States ever had only a month ago. If that happens and if VP Biden is elected to the White House, we’ll, most probably, have Kamal Harris as our president. Why Kamal Harris? Mr. Biden is losing it and I am not sure he will be able to run the country for long, if elected. Mr. Biden has committed to have woman as his running mate. He cannot be elected to the office without keeping his commitment. Once you are riding a tiger, you cannot dare to dismount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Talking To Strangers Author: Malcolm Gladwell

april 20 book
Book Review:
Talking To Strangers
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Published by Little Brown and Company in 2019 (400pages)
Having read four of Malcolm Gladwell’s books earlier (Blink, The Tipping Point, David and Goliath and Outliers), I must admit that I am addicted to his writing style and always look forward to anecdotes that accompany his arguments. So, I decided to read his latest book, “Talking to Strangers.”
Talking to Strangers is about miscommunication and its negative results on individuals and society at large. The book begins with the infamous incident that happened in July 2015 that ended up in tragedy because of miscommunication. Sandra Bland, a young African American woman, was stopped by police near the campus of A&M University in Texas. She was pulled over by a cop, Brian Encinia, a 30 years old white man for changing lanes without signaling. Sandra Bland didn’t like that she was pulled over for a minor incident and argued with Brian Encina. Their argument got heated. Brian called for other cops. Miss Bland was arrested and three days later was found hanged in her cell. According to Gladwell, it was all a result of a miscommunication. Making sense of the stranger, Gladwell writes, “Requires humility and thoughtfulness and a willingness to look beyond the stranger, and take time and place and context into account.”
Gladwell continues to emphasize his point by citing interesting anecdotal accounts ranging from Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador, whose inability to communicate with Aztec ruler Montezuma II led to Montezuma’s death and the eventual end of the Aztec empire to Neville Chamberlain believing Hitler’s promise that all he (Hitler) really wanted was the Sudetenland, the ethnic-German part of Czechoslovakia, and had no designs on Poland or the rest of Europe. Gladwell further narrates the story from Fidel Castro to Bernie Madoff, who conned his way to the top of a massive Ponzi scheme involving some of the biggest institutions on Wall Street.
Gladwell conveys a great message: We shouldn’t be naive when dealing with strangers. We should question people instead of trusting them. But this should be done in the context in which the stranger is operating.
-Reviewed by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’