Saturday, September 07, 2019

The Erickson Report, Page 1: Following Up on Three Items

The Erickson Report, Page 1: Following Up on Three Items

We start this time by Following Up on three things previously discussed.

On the very first episode of The Erickson Report, we took A Longer Look at Venezuela and its disappearance as a news story after the US-backed attempt to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in favor of self-declared president Juan Guaidó fizzled out.

As part of that, I noted how the Tweetie-pie White House had imposed two rounds of damaging economic sanctions against Venezuela, the first in 2017 and the second in January of this year.

Following Up: On August 5, there came a third round of sanctions, these intended to be economically crippling.

The executive order blocks all property and assets of the Venezuelan government and its officials, and prohibits any transactions with them, including the country's Central Bank and the state oil company, essentially creating an economic wall between the US and Venezuela. What's more, it threatens that any non-US company that does any business of any sort with Venezuela may itself be subject to US sanctions.

In April, a study published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that US sanctions against Venezuela had already resulted in 40,000 deaths between 2017 and 2018.

Now, referring to the latest round of this economic terrorism, Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights warned of the severe impact on the human rights of the people of Venezuela, saying the new sanctions could deny food, medicine, and other necessities to millions of people.

The story may have disappeared from the US media, but it remains real for the people of Venezuela, who are being told by the US "give us the government we tell you to - or starve."


Next: A couple of weeks ago I took A Longer Look at the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions (BDS) movement and Israel, in the course of which I discussed the reports that between the end of March and the end of December 2018, Israeli snipers had killed 180 unarmed Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip and wounded over 6100 more - both numbers higher now - and referred to the fact that Gaza has been rightly called "the biggest outdoor prison in the world."

Here's indication of what I meant.

COGAT stands for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories. It is the Israeli government agency that scrutinizes every package entering Gaza in search of banned items, including allegedly deadly "dual-use" items that could, Israel insists, be used for "military purposes." Such "dual-use" items go well beyond what you would think as a norm. The label can be arbitrarily put on items such as drones, cameras, and radios, for which you can at least imagine a military use, to microscopes, medical equipment, construction material, and spare parts for assembly lines.

And now COGAT has attained a real coup: The beginning of August, the agency breathlessly tweeted that it had uncovered "dozens of pairs of military shoes that were hidden in a shipment of civilian goods, in an attempt to smuggle them into Gaza for terrorist purposes," adding that "This is another miserable and failed attempt by terrorist groups in Gaza to hide behind the civilian population."

The tweets were illustrated with pictures of the military shoes, terrorist contraband. Yes, those shoes. The picture is from the tweet COGAT sent out. Pictures of ordinary, everyday, lace-up hiking boots.

It was so absurd, at least some people thought the tweet was a joke. But it wasn't. Instead it is testimony to the deeply paranoid, deeply cruel, and deeply destructive blockade Israel has placed around Gaza. It needs to stop.


Finally for this time, around the end of July, I noted the argument being raised against Medicare for All that polls say that people love their private insurance plans, so anything that suggests getting rid of those is doomed to failure.
Here's the thing[, I asked at the time], are those people really happy with their insurance? Are they happy with the premiums, the co-pays, the deductibles, the medically-necessary procedures put on hold until you find out if "insurance will cover it," the not being able to choose your doctor because they are "out of network?" Or are they just happy that they have insurance?
A recent Business Insider poll seems to answer that question.

It showed that 59 percent of respondents who have employer-provided insurance "said they would support switching their employer-based health insurance to a government plan under Medicare for All" as long as quality of coverage would remain the same or improve - which bluntly it would or there is no point in doing single-payer in the first place.

As Business Insider put it,
[t]he results highlight the fact that ... mainly people just like being covered, bearing little loyalty to a specific insurer.
Incidentally, the poll also found that among those Americans on government-run healthcare plans - Medicare, Medicaid, and military coverage - 57% love their plan, which is 16 percentage points higher than those on employer-provided plans and 18 points higher than those with privately-purchased insurance.

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