Sunday, October 25, 2020

End White Silence - fighting against racism and antisemitism.

The repainted sign on Court Street in Ithaca.

A visit to Taughannock Falls

I went to Taughannock Falls yesterday afternoon with a friend. The falls are 215 feet high, higher than Niagara Falls (but nowhere near as wide!). We're having the last of the fall weather and the trees have shed most of their leaves, but there were still some colors there yesterday. We didn't expect a lot of people there, but there were many people coming and going to the Falls - fortunately, almost all of them were masked and they generally kept socially distanced. 







Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Why the rogue cloud appeared over Jerusalem

 From the Facebook page of Yerushamayim, the Jerusalem weather site -

"Someone said: sometimes Jerusalem is the center of the world"

And the explanation from Boaz (who runs the Yerushamayim site) - translation by Rahel Jaskow



A rogue cloud in Jerusalem

It rained in Jerusalem today - the first rain of the fall, an exciting event in Israel, where it doesn't rain all summer.

The rest of the country was dry, and the rain was not predicted by the forecasters.

Rogue cloud treats Jerusalem to first surprise shower of season

A freakishly hot summer in Jerusalem is being capped by a freak rainstorm that has swept across the city, bringing showers and joy to the capital.

The rainstorm is freakish not for the time of year — in fact it’s a bit late for the first rain of the season — but because it appears to have come out of nowhere.

Forecasts for Tuesday called for unseasonably warm weather and partially cloudy skies. The storm appears to be the result of a single large cloud that sneaked across the city.


“One cloud (the sky is clear nationwide) throws off all the models,” tweets the amateur meteorologist behind the popular Yerushamayim weather site, which crashes thanks to the storm.

“Fine, you caught me with my pants down. You don’t need to bring down the site,” he adds.

The first rain of the season is always an event in Israel, where the dry season lasts from mid-spring until early fall.

Antisemitism is alive and well in Ithaca, New York

 


Defaced sign on a friend's business in downtown Ithaca. "End White Silence," and the word "Kike" written over "Silence."

Ithaca is a liberal small city in a conservative area of upstate New York. There have been some right-wing demonstrations here lately, mostly for "Blue Lives Matter." I've seen other racist graffiti in downtown in the last few months, and recently the "Black Lives Matter" mural on nearby streets was defaced (see entry below). In Ithaca in the 1980s, there were some antisemitic incidents when a notorious antisemite and Holocaust denier was living here (he's no longer here, thank goodness).

I hope we can find out who did this and call them out for their antisemitism and racism.

Monday, October 12, 2020

It tolls for thee.

The first death of a person from Covid in Tompkins County just occurred today. The person was 95 years old. The name hasn't been released. May their memory be for a blessing for family and friends.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
--- John Donne

Monday, October 05, 2020

Black Lives Mural in Ithaca defaced last night and then repainted today.

Here in Ithaca, NY, on August 22, a beautiful Black Lives Matter mural was painted on Plain Street, at the intersection with State/Martin Luther King Street), by a whole group of people. I still haven't had a chance to look at it but I have seen photos of it. (See here for a photo series of the mural painting).

This is what the mural looked like soon after it was originally painted on the street (photo taken by a drone):


Yesterday afternoon there was a pro-Trump, "Blue Lives Matter" demonstration in downtown Ithaca (this was the second one - the first one was last week or the week before).

Late last night/early Sunday morning, at 3:30 am, a group of people went to the BLM mural and defaced it with gobs of black paint, which they then spread over the word "Black," so that it read "Lives Matter." (A security camera on the street filmed them doing it). 

Here's a couple of stills, showing part of the mural already defaced:





Today, the defaced portion of the mural was beautifully repainted.


I hope there won't be any more attempts to deface it and take away the important message that Black lives do matter. This statement doesn't exclude people of other races or ethnicities, but asserts that in the United States, where Black lives have for so long not mattered, it's necessary to work against racism and for racial justice.

Articles about the vandalism and the repainting:

https://www.14850.com/100416036-vandals-mural-2010/

https://www.14850.com/100416060-mural-restored-2010/


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Who are the Proud Boys?

 

Are the Proud Boys antisemitic?

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Trump gives go-ahead to fascist "Proud Boys" for violent action during the election


New York Times reporting on Trump's remarks about right-wing extremists at tonight's debate. He directly addressed the Proud Boys, a violent, fascist militia that attacks Black Lives Matter protestors and others demonstrating in favor of racial justice.
President Trump refused to categorically denounce white supremacists on Tuesday night, diverting a question about right-wing extremist violence in Charlottesville, Va., and Portland, Ore., into an attack on “left-wing” protesters.
“Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and groups to say they need to stand down and not add to the violence and number of the cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” Chris Wallace, the moderator, asked the president.
“Sure. I’m willing to do that,” said Mr. Trump, quickly adding, “Almost everything I see is from the left wing. Not from the right wing.”
When Mr. Wallace pressed on, the president asked, “What do you want to call them?”
“White supremacists,” the moderator replied.
“Proud Boys, stand back and standby,” he said, apparently addressing the far-right group, then added: “But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody has to do something about antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is left wing.”
Mr. Trump highlighted left-wing violence when asked to condemn white supremacists, despite racist extremists’ committing more lethal attacks in recent years. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, said days later that “when white supremacists act as terrorists, more people per incident are killed.”
When Mr. Wallace pointed out that Mr. Trump’s own F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had said that antifa is an idea, not an organization, the president replied, “You have to be kidding.” (The director also said this month that “racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up a majority of domestic terrorism threats.)

More on the Proud Boys from the SPLC - https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/proud-boys.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Ruth Bader on "One People" after the end of WWII

When she was in eighth grade, Ruth Bader (later to become Ruth Bader Ginsburg), wrote a very thoughtful article for the graduation issue of the Bulletin of East Midwood Jewish Center.

Some highlights:

"The war has left a bloody trail and many deep wounds not too easily healed. Many people have been left with scars that take a long time to pass away. We must never forget the horrors which our brethren were subjected to in Bergen-Belsen and other Nazi concentration camps. Then, too, we must try hard to understand that for righteous people hate and prejudice are neither good occupations nor fit companions. Rabbi Alfred Bettleheim once said, 'Prejudice saves us a painful trouble, the trouble of not thinking.' In our beloved land families were not scattered, communities not erased nor our nation destroyed by the ravages of the World War."

"Yet, dare we be at ease? We are part of a world whose unity has been almost completely shattered. No one can feel free from danger and destruction until the many torn threads of civilization are bound together again."



 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The smoke from the west coast fires has reached eastern Massachusetts



None of these photos shows the true color of the sun. It was very hazy, and the sun was orange. It was almost possible to stare at it directly.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The 9/11 attacks in the time of corona

Photo of the Tribute in Light - two blue searchlights reaching into the sky.
Tribute in Light, commemorating the Twin Towers
Credit: NY1

Today is the 19th anniversary of the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. I've written about them here over the years, but my feelings this year have almost been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disasters afflicting our country and the world now: the almost 200,000 dead of coronavirus in the US (and over 920,000 deaths worldwide), the corrupt and near-fascist Trump regime, the ongoing protests for Black Lives Matter and against white supremacy, the rise of violent right-wing gangs, increasing antisemitism and anti-Black racism, and now the apocalyptic fires in the American west (about 10% of the population of Oregon has had to flee for their lives). Seeing the photographs of the orange sky in California really shook me. (Below photos are screenshots of San Francisco from the New York Times article linked above).



Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Antisemitism - right-wing or left-wing?

It's not only leftists like Jeremy Corbyn who post pictures of an antisemitic mural. Today a Republican state representative from Louisiana posted a photo of the same mural. I wonder who he got it from.

He deleted it, but this is the screenshot.

 

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Accomplices in the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and journalists go to trial on September 2

"I am Charlie," photographed in Bochum, Germany, in early 2015.
I was living in Bochum, Germany in early January 2015, when the offices of Charlie Hebdo were attacked by Islamist terrorists and twelve members of the staff were murdered. The next day, a kosher market in Paris was attacked and four patrons were murdered by other Islamist terrorists. Tendance Coatsey reports that they have just republished the caricatures of Muhammad that got them into so much trouble in 2006.

From the France 24 article on the republication -
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in 2015, said Tuesday it was republishing hugely controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to mark this week's start of the trial of alleged accomplices to the attack. 
"We will never lie down. We will never give up," director Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau wrote in an editorial to go with the cartoons in the latest edition. 
"The hatred that struck us is still there and, since 2015, it has taken the time to mutate, to change its appearance, to go unnoticed and to quietly continue its ruthless crusade," he said.

Twelve people, including some of France's most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the paper's offices in Paris. 
The perpetrators were killed in the wake of the massacre but 14 alleged accomplices in the attacks, which also targeted a Jewish supermarket, will go on trial in Paris on Wednesday. 
The latest Charlie Hebdo cover shows a dozen cartoons first published by the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 -- and then reprinted by the French weekly in 2006, unleashing a storm of anger across the Muslim world. 
In the centre of the cover is a cartoon of the prophet drawn by cartoonist Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, who lost his life in the massacre. 
"All of this, just for that," the front-page headline says. 
The trial starts tomorrow at 8:00 am GMT. "The suspects ... are accused of providing various degrees of logistical support to the killers."
The court in Paris will sit until November 10 and, in a first for a terror trial, proceedings will be filmed for archival purposes given public interest.

National anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard dismissed the idea that it was just "little helpers" going on trial since the three gunmen were now dead. 
"It is about individuals who are involved in the logistics, the preparation of the events, who provided means of financing, operational material, weapons, a residence," he told France Info radio on Monday. 
"All this is essential to the terrorist action."
My blogposts on Charlie Hebdo from 2015 -

https://mystical-politics.blogspot.com/2015/01/on-charlie-hebdo-islamophobia-and-racism.html
https://mystical-politics.blogspot.com/2015/01/on-murders-in-paris.html
https://mystical-politics.blogspot.com/2015/01/mistaken-assumptions-about-murders-at.html

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Are you now or have you ever been a Zionist? Updated.

ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A ZIONIST?

By: The Alliance for Academic Freedom
8/24/20

(see update below)

The Alliance for Academic Freedom condemns the treatment of Rose Ritch, a Jewish undergraduate at University of Southern California who resigned under pressure as vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government following a campaign that featured denunciations of her support for Israel, including some with antisemitic overtones. Not only was it clearly reprehensible for fellow students to attack her in this fashion, but the USC faculty and administration also erred by failing to condemn her mistreatment and close down the impeachment process altogether. We hope that Ritch’s resignation will prompt university leaders to begin to reverse the disturbing trend of rising hostility on some campuses toward those who identify as Zionists or simply express support for Israel.

Attacks against Ritch began when she was running for vice president. She was called a “pro-Israel white supremacist” and her campaign signs were reportedly taken down. During a student debate, one undergraduate questioned how Ritch’s previous leadership of a campus pro-Israel group would affect her ability to govern when it came to questions of boycotting Israel. The question could be taken as innocent and fair, but it also could be construed as imputing a dual loyalty, especially because other Jewish students seeking office at other universities have been similarly questioned. Nonetheless, Ritch won the election.

On June 1, following the killing of George Floyd, Ritch and other student government leaders emailed the USC student body expressing solidarity with the Black community. At the same time, a social media campaign, @black_at_usc began, in which Black students and other students of color voiced discontent about their treatment at USC. Anonymous posts included accusations that Truman Fritz, the newly elected student government president, made an oral remark that appeared to “put all students of color into one category” and reportedly made insensitive jokes about the “pains of being white.” One of his alleged “microaggressions” was his comment that having a Jewish student on his slate had made it diverse. On June 26, Abeer Tijani, a rising senior, created a petition asking for Fritz to step down as a result of “recent uncoverings of racial misconduct,” based on the postings on the @black_at_usc account.

Tijani’s petition did not mention Ritch. Nevertheless, various comments posted in support of the petition, as well as on other social media platforms, attacked Ritch for supporting Israel. Some also made reference to her sexuality in a derogatory way. Messages included the following: “him and the zionist need to be IMPEACHED”; “Tell your Zionist ass VP to resign too”; “The president is trash and so is the VP who is a proud Zionist”; “Would you like to share that not only is Rose a Zionist who indoctrinated the rest of USG to be Zionists, she is also an above-the-waist-only bisexual”; “warms my heart to see all the zionists from usc and usg getting relentlessly cyberbullied.”

Just prior to his impeachment hearing, Fritz resigned. Ritch was next in line for the presidency, but because she hadn’t endorsed the attacks on Fritz, several campus organizations, including the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, endorsed a petition for her removal as well. “Her silence aids and abets the already taxing oppression and microaggressions that Black students face at USC daily,” said Tijani. Ritch was also faulted for not agreeing to a recorded interrogation by her critics.

In response to a letter from the Louis D. Brandeis Center detailing the harassment Ritch faced, university administrators postponed her July impeachment hearing, citing a need to review the “fairness of bylaws and other rules.” But the attacks continued. On August 5, Ritch finally resigned. “I am grateful that the University administration suspended my impeachment proceedings, but am disappointed that the university has not recognized the need to publicly protect Jewish students from the type of antisemitic harassment I endured,” she wrote. Her letter decried a campus culture in which direct, in-person conversations have given way to online denunciations and “a disturbing lack of nuance or willingness to grapple with the messy complexities of an issue.”

Academic freedom protects the right of qualified faculty and students to run for or be appointed to campus offices. Campaigns to discredit those candidates or officers based in attacks on their race, religion, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or national origin undermine that right and must be rejected unequivocally. So, too, should attacks on an individual based on political litmus tests—including one’s views about Israel or Zionism.

When such behavior occurs, faculty and administrators have a duty to intervene. USC’s administration was right to suspend Ritch’s impeachment trial. It was regrettably not until after her resignation that USC President Carol Folt issued an admirable statement calling the treatment of Ritch “unacceptable,” acknowledging antisemitism at USC, and supporting a university-wide initiative by the USC Shoah Foundation to counter hate.

Nonetheless, the outcome by its very nature shows that the administration and faculty failed to speak out forcefully and early enough to ensure that Ritch could assume the vacated presidency. When political speech crosses over into the harassment of an individual, whether in person or online, universities need to act swiftly. They should have procedures in place for reporting incidents of harassment and intimidation and should immediately take steps to end such behavior. We do not wish campus leadership to monitor routine political speech or to label mere slights as “hateful,” but administrators should heed the signs when, on inflammatory topics such as the Middle East, heated speech crosses over into harassment or bullying.

Ritch is far from the only college student who has been harassed in recent years for their pro-Israel politics. Her story is an important reminder that educational institutions should actively promote discussion about contentious issues like the Middle East. They should encourage students to become informed about the history and nature of Zionism, which, according to standard definitions, is the movement of the Jewish people for self-determination in a land or state of their own. Rather than hurling the term as an epithet, or falsely equating Zionism with a parade of horribles, students should be able to appreciate its origins, meaning, and complexity.

Some argue that, given that the state of Israel has been a reality for 72 years, contemporary opposition to “Zionism”—in effect, to the existence of Israel—is intrinsically antisemitic. Ritch herself noted that most American Jews identify with or support Israel and that “an attack on my Zionist identity is an attack on my Jewish identity.” Others argue, to the contrary, that one can oppose Zionism without being antisemitic. Whatever one’s view, students who would invoke issues such as Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in arguing with one another ought to learn much more about it, so as to avoid falling into the kinds of uninformed caricatures or oversimplified assertions that, in Ritch’s case and others, have led to the demonization of others. Students, indeed, should wrestle with the competing historical and political claims of the many different parties in the conflict to understand why hatred frequently manifests itself around these issues.

The convergence of hostility to the state of Israel, rising campus intolerance, and social media harassment campaigns has created a toxic environment on some campuses—leading, as they did here, to violations of academic freedom and fair treatment. It is important that university administrators and faculty nationwide develop policies and the nerve to speak forcefully against the bullying, online or in person, based on political ideologies.

August 2020

AAF Executive Committee: Susana Cavallo, David Greenberg, Rebeca Lesses, Jeffry Mallow, Sharon Musher, Cary Nelson (Chair), Kenneth Stern. The AAF consists of liberal and progressive scholars dedicated to combating academic boycotts and blacklists, defending freedom of expression and promoting empathy in the debate over Israelis and Palestinians.


Friday, July 10, 2020

Pottery!

My two latest pottery pieces, glazed: a mask (in Firebrick Red), and a bowl, in Tim's and Turquoise. The Clay School finally reopened about a week ago, with strict new protocols for the Covid era. I hadn't been there since early March.




Friday, June 12, 2020

Alliance for Academic Freedom condemns Israel's planned annexation of parts of the West Bank

AAF DEPLORES ANTICIPATED ANNEXATION

The Alliance for Academic Freedom is deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s apparent intention in the near future to unilaterally annex substantial portions of the West Bank, possibly including both existing settlements and the Jordan Valley. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s winning of a new term and his post-election pronouncements about annexation point to a substantial territorial and political change that we expect will be disastrous for a democratic Israel and the Palestinian people and will have adverse consequences for the climate in academia in the United States.  

If implemented, unilateral annexation will exact a terrible price. It will make the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state virtually impossible; that, in turn, would place a two-state solution out of reach for the near future and perhaps permanently. Unless Palestinians on the West Bank are granted full citizenship and equal rights in Israel proper – a highly improbable assumption – annexation will turn Israel into a state that maintains permanent control over millions of Palestinians within its territory while denying them civil and political rights. This will create an untenable situation for Palestinians as well as an indefensible position for a liberal democracy. The collapse of the Palestinian Authority and the growth of paramilitary groups on the West Bank, combined with greater Israeli governing responsibilities, might soon become a reality, heightening the chances of warfare and bloodshed.

Under these circumstances, the AAF’s core mission – defending academic freedom as it relates to the Palestinian-Israel conflict amid a context of support for a two-state solution – would become increasingly difficult. As anger grows against a 53-year occupation whose end would be ever harder to envisage, we will likely see increased demands to boycott Israeli colleges and universities, and possibly other violations of academic freedom, such as disruptions of pro-Israel speakers. More generally, we can anticipate the derailing of collaborative solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For all these reasons, the AAF joins with many groups, including those in Israel and the Palestinian territories, to raise our voice in alarm at the possibility of annexation. We call on the Israeli government to pull back from a precipitous decision.

Executive Committee: Susana Cavallo, David Greenberg, Rebecca Lesses, Jeffry Mallow, Sharon Musher, Cary Nelson (Chair), Kenneth Stern

Sunday, May 24, 2020

New York Times: An Incalculable Loss

Link to the 1,000 names, one percent of those who have died in the United States from Covid-19, from February 29 to May 24: An Incalculable Loss.

Some examples, in order by age:

• Torrin Jamal Howard, 26, Waterbury, Conn., gentle giant, athlete and musician

• Ijeoma Afuke, 35, Chicago, Nigerian immigrant studying to become a nurse
• Oscar López Acosta, 42, Morrow County, Ohio, died after being released from ICE detention

• Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, 54, New York City, beloved public school teacher

• Frank Gabrin, 60, New York City, emergency room doctor who died in husband’s arms

• Nancy Ferguson, 77, Chicago, true community activist

• Alan F. Krupp, 83, Newton, Mass., quoted Longfellow and Tennyson from memory

• Margit Buchhalter Feldman, 90, Somerset, N.J., survivor who taught about the Holocaust

• Romi Cohn, 91, New York City, saved 56 Jewish families from the Gestapo

• Joseph Feingold, 97, New York City, architect and Holocaust survivor

• Genowefa Kochanek, 98, Massachusetts, survived the German invasion and occupation of Poland during World War II

• Philip Kahn, 100, Westbury, N.Y., World War II veteran whose twin died in the Spanish Flu epidemic a century ago

• Eve Rudin, 103, Philadelphia, one of the first women of her generation to drive a car

• Luther Coleman, 108, Evergreen Park, Ill., man who seemed to know everything

Friday, May 22, 2020

Spread of COVID-19 in Tompkins County

I live in Tompkins County, in the Finger Lakes region of New York state (I'm currently not there, due to Covid, but I'll be back soon). The number of people who have tested positive for COVID is quite low - 148 out of a total of 8221 tests (as of today, May 22, 2020) - a rate of 1.8%, which i slow. Out of the positive tests, 124 have recovered. (See this chart from the Tompkins County Health Department). There is currently only person hospitalized for Covid, and two people have died in Ithaca of Covid (they were brought here from New York City). The charts in this post are from Covid Act Now, and this is their About page explaining who they are: https://covidactnow.org/about.


One of our 16 ICU beds is currently occupied by someone with COVID, and two are occupied by people with other ailments, leaving 13 unused, so if there a surge of COVID in the county, we do have some capacity to treat people.


Our infection rate, however, which was below 1 on May 4, rose to 1.5 on May 6, and is now about 1.46 (meaning that a person who has COVID is theoretically infection about 1.5 people). An infection rate below 1 means that the number of people who get the virus is steadily decreasing.

COVID Act Now, from which I am getting this information and the charts, says that "the total number of cases in Tompkins County, New York, is growing exponentially." (See chart below). Should we be worrying about this?


On the New York state tracker, the Southern Tier, which includes Tompkins County, has been given the go-ahead to cautiously start opening up, but below is the summary for Tompkins County from Covid Act Now. According to them the overall Covid risk is elevated (the highest level). I just checked all of the other counties in the state that they have sufficient data to give a score to, and Tompkins County has the highest infection rate in the state.



Further information:

The Ithaca Voice, a local online only publication, sends out a Covid-19 brief every day, including the daily report from the Tompkins County Health Department. They include useful graphs along with the TCHD report. These are the two latest ones, from today:

Our highest days of hospitalizations were throughout the month of April, and there's currently only one person hospitalized.

At the beginning, from mid-March up through early April, we had a pretty quick rise in cases, but it's been much slower since then.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mothers' Day, May 9, 2020 - Heather Cox Richardson

Today is Mother's Day, as everyone knows. I just read Heather Cox Richardson's daily "Letter from an American," in which she writes about the history of what was originally Mothers' Day (plural, not singular). She presents the origin of Mothers' Day as a struggle for peace, by mothers, after the devastation of the American Civil War and the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. The day did not originate as a glorification of traditional motherhood, but as an entry into the political realm, mobilizing women to oppose war. That's useful to remember today, when at least in the US, Mother's Day (in the singular) is mostly celebrated as a praise for individual mothers and in the public sphere, as a way to extol motherhood and in particular the sacrifices women make as mothers.

Since she urges people to share her words, I'm doing that here. This is a link to her Substack journal for today https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-9-2020.
May 9, 2020
Heather Cox Richardson 
If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced American women that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society. 
The Civil War years taught naïve Americans what mass death meant in the modern era. Soldiers who had marched off to war with fantasies of heroism discovered that long-range weapons turned death into tortured anonymity. Men were trampled into blood-soaked mud, piled like cordwood in ditches, or transformed into emaciated corpses after dysentery drained their lives away. 
The women who had watched their men march off to war were haunted by its results. They lost fathers, husbands, sons. The men who did come home were scarred in body and mind. 
Modern war, it seemed, was not a game. 
But out of the war also came a new sense of empowerment. Women had bought bonds, paid taxes, raised money for the war effort, managed farms, harvested fields, worked in war industries, reared children, and nursed soldiers. When the war ended, they had every intention of continuing to participate in national affairs. But the Fourteenth Amendment, which established that African American men were citizens, did not include women. In 1869, women organized the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association and the American Woman’s Suffrage Association to promote women’s right to have a say in American government. 
From her home in Boston, Julia Ward Howe was a key figure in the American Woman’s Suffrage Association. She was an enormously talented writer, who had penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic in the early years of the Civil War, a hymn whose lyrics made it a point to note that Christ was “born of woman.” 
Howe was drawn to women’s rights because the laws of her time meant that her children belonged to her abusive husband. If she broke free of him, she would lose any right to see her children, a fact he threw at her whenever she threatened to leave him. She was not at first a radical in the mold of reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, believing that women had a human right to equality with men. Rather, she believed strongly that women, as mothers, had a special role to perform in the world. 
For Howe, the Civil War had been traumatic, but that it led to emancipation might justify its terrible bloodshed. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 was another story. She remembered: 
"I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone know and bear the cost?” 
Howe had a new vision, she said, of “the august dignity of motherhood and its terrible responsibilities.” She sat down immediately and wrote an “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World.” Men always had and always would decide questions by resorting to “mutual murder.” But women did not have to accept this state of affairs, she wrote. Mothers could command their sons to stop the madness. 
"Arise, women! Howe commanded. Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.” 
Howe had her document translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish, and distributed it as widely as her extensive contacts made possible. She believed that her Women’s Peace Movement would be the next great development in human history, ending war just as the anti-slavery movement had ended human bondage. She called for a “festival which should be observed as mothers’ day, and which should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines” to be held around the world on June 2 of every year, a date that would permit open-air meetings. 
Howe organized international peace conferences and American states developed their own Mothers’ Day festivals. But Howe quickly gave up on her project. She realized that there was much to be done before women could come together on such a momentous scale. She turned her attention to women’s clubs “to constitute a working and united womanhood.” 
As she worked to unite women, she threw herself into the struggle for women’s suffrage, understanding that in order to create a more just and peaceful society, women must take up their rightful place as equal participants in American politics. 
Perhaps Anna Jarvis remembered seeing her mother participate in an original American Mothers’ Day when she decided to honor her own mother in the early twentieth century. And while we celebrate modern Mother’s Day in this momentous year of 2020, it’s worth remembering the original Mothers’ Day, and Julia Ward Howe’s conviction that women must make their voices heard.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Flowers, and bad news - updated

On a day of bad news, some flowers.






But then the government disavowed the report from its own CDC (WaPo): Government report predicts Covid-19 cases will reach 200,000 a day by June 1, 2020.

In any case, the official government estimate of eventual deaths, which Trump has been talking about, is 100,000 (he recently raised this from 60,000, and we're going to reach 70,000 by later today).

And what is his estimate based on?
The forecast is at odds with remarks made Sunday evening by President Trump, who said the United States could eventually suffer as many as 100,000 deaths. At 3,000 deaths per day and rising, the national total would quickly outstrip that number if the new report is correct.

A senior White House official said the document would not change the White House planning on reopening.

White House officials have been relying on other models to make decisions on reopening, including the IHME model and a “cubic model” prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers, led by Trump adviser Kevin Hassett.
People with knowledge of the “cubic model” say it currently shows deaths dropping precipitously in May — and essentially going to zero by May 15.
The IHME projection is incorrect, and has been incorrect for quite a while. They are currently projecting a total of 72,433 deaths in the US by August 4. There will most probably be 72,433 deaths by this Wednesday. I simply do not understand why they have not redone their model to come more in contact with reality.

Their projection for deaths in New York State by August 4 is 24,314. As of today, according to Worldometer, 24,874 people have died in New York.

The "cubic model" was created by economists, not by medical experts and epidemiologists. The death rate in the US will not go to zero by next Friday.

Update - the IHME has just changed their projection.
Projection of total deaths in the US by August 4: 134,475
Explanation of changes: http://www.healthdata.org/covid/updates.
New projection for New York State: 32,132.

And some more flowers: