This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
The first monkeypox case in Germany was reported on May 20. Since then, the number has risen steadily, from 28 cases per week in late May to 125 in early June. There are now 300 to 400 cases per week and a total of 2,916 cases have been reported to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Germany to date, corresponding to an incidence level of 3.54 cases per hundred thousand inhabitants. This is more than ten percent of the worldwide cases outside Africa. A recent study estimated the reproductive rate (R-value) of monkeypox in Germany to be 1.21, which is higher than the COVID-19 R-value, which is currently 0.86.
Due to widespread ignorance about the symptoms of monkeypox and generally limited testing facilities, it can be assumed that the actual number of infections is much higher.
Worldwide, Germany is among the most affected countries. In absolute numbers, Germany has the third most infections after the United States with 9,461 cases and Spain with 5,162 cases. On a per capita basis, however, the incidence rate in Germany, at 3.54, is already much higher than in the US, with 2.15 cases per hundred thousand inhabitants. This is despite the fact that the US administration has already declared monkeypox a public health emergency.
I call for an immediate shutdown of all production until the spread of the infection is isolated and contained, with all workers affected receiving full pay. The companies, which are making record profits based on our exploitation, can afford to take the necessary measures to save our health and lives.
We need to break through the misinformation and disinformation that is being put out by the White House, the UAW and corporate media.
All workers need to be made aware that monkeypox is a potentially deadly virus with a case fatality rate similar to COVID. It can cause disfiguring lesions and excruciating pain that in 10 percent of cases requires hospitalization. The experience of Africa shows that it has a particularly severe impact on children.
The official number of monkeypox cases, 7,500 in the US, is likely an undercount, since testing is a complicated and long process. The vast majority of individuals currently being tested are gay men, based on the false claim that the virus is primarily transmitted through sex. In fact, studies have shown that monkeypox can spread through aerosols that linger in the air like the coronavirus. It can also spread through skin to skin contact as well as contaminated fabric and surfaces. The virus can remain alive for weeks outside the body, meaning all potentially contaminated areas need to be regularly disinfected with appropriate cleaning supplies.
Given this, it is highly probable that there are more cases in the auto plants than the single reported case at SHAP, where 7,000 work. For more than two years, management and the UAW have systematically covered up the spread of COVID-19 in the plants, forcing workers to rely on word of mouth.
Giant auto plants with thousands forced to stand close together for hours on end are primary vectors for the transmission of disease that can infect the entire community. The danger will be multiplied when schools reopen in a few short weeks under conditions where nothing is being done to halt the spread of COVID-19 or monkeypox.
No confidence can be put in the profit hungry Stellantis management or their lackeys in the UAW bureaucracy to deal with this emergency. The last two and a half years of the COVID-19 pandemic show they could not care less about workers’ health or lives.
When COVID was first detected in auto plants, it was workers who halted production, not the highly paid UAW bureaucrats. If it wasn’t for the action of workers on the shop floor at SHAP and other auto plants, who stopped production as the pandemic spread in March 2020, there would have been no temporary lockdowns or other limited safety protocols put in place. The UAW worked to prematurely reopen the auto plants before the virus was contained and then steadily removed all the other protocols while covering up its spread.
Now the UAW simply parrots all the corporate and government lies that we must accept mass infection, that COVID will be here forever, killing hundreds of thousands every year and inflicting millions with debilitating “long COVID.”
This means that we workers must act independently to protect the health of ourselves, our families and our communities.
I call for the formation of rank-and-file committees in every auto plant and workplace to oversee health and safety and other workplace conditions.
We need to build a network of rank-and-file committees to link up autoworkers everywhere, including with our brothers and sisters overseas. We cannot allow COVID and now monkeypox to continue to spread in our workplaces and society as a whole.
Medical science has the tools like vaccines, mass testing, quarantine, isolation, and rigorous contact tracing to contain and eliminate these diseases. Workers must not be allowed to continue to die simply to grow the profits of the auto companies and Wall Street.
If you support what I am saying, I ask you to contact my campaign and learn how you can become more involved.
Annual price increases for US consumer goods remain at their highest level in nearly 40 years, according to the latest inflation data released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Prices for items in the Consumer Price Index rose 8.5 percent in the 12 months ending in July, down slightly from the 9.1 percent rate reported in June, but still the second-largest yearly increase since December 1981.
Food prices in particular have surged in recent months. The BLS’ overall food index rose 10.9 percent year-over-year in July, while the cost of food at home increased 13.1 percent, the biggest increases since May 1979.
Amid a heat wave which has blanketed much of the US this summer and broken records in a number of regions, electricity costs rose 15.2 percent compared to last year, increasing by 1.9 percent over the last month alone.
The cost of shelter also pushed higher, with rent rising 6.3 percent nationally since 2021, with increases far greater in many major metropolitan areas, forcing large numbers of young people to live with their parents, and threatening others with eviction and homelessness. In California, 1.5 million households are behind on their rent, according to Census Bureau data released in late July.
Although the cost of gasoline, which is more volatile, fell somewhat from June, down 7.7 percent, it remained 44 percent higher than a year ago. The national average price for a gallon of gas is hovering near $4, compared to $3.18 in 2021.
The Biden administration and sections of the corporate media nevertheless seized on the latest data to claim that inflation is easing and that a corner being turned, with Biden misleadingly asserting that the BLS report showed “zero percent inflation in the month of July—zero percent.”
In a two-minute appearance, Biden painted a fantastical picture of a booming economy, but the reality facing masses of workers is one of increasing desperate struggle for daily existence. According to a separate BLS release Wednesday, real average hourly earnings for production and non-supervisory employees fell 2.7 percent year-over-year in July.
Iraqi Shiite cleric and political leader Moqtada Al Sadr on Wednesday called on the country's judiciary to dissolve parliament by the end of next week.
“I address the competent judicial authorities, particularly the head of the Supreme Judicial Council, hopefully so they correct the path, especially after the constitutional deadlines for the parliament to select a president and task a prime minister have passed,” Mr Al Sadr said in a statement.
Mr Al Sadr also called on the judiciary to give the Iraqi president the task of setting a date for early elections that will be held “under a number of conditions we will announce later”.
Sadr has called for early elections and unspecified changes to the constitution after withdrawing his lawmakers from parliament in June.
The withdrawal was a protest against his failure to form a government despite holding nearly a quarter of parliament and having enough allies to make up more than half the chamber.
Judiciary head Faiq Zaidan said earlier this year in an article that the constitution did not set any punishment for the parliament when it fails to form the government within the constitutional deadlines.
The only way to dissolve the parliament is for two-thirds of its members to vote for the dissolution.
Zaidan asked to add a new mechanism for dissolving the parliament, specifically for the time it fails to form the government within the constitutional deadlines.
The suggested mechanism is to dissolve the parliament by a request from the prime minister approved by the president, after the deadlines meet.
The only way to amend the constitution is to return the parliament sessions and votes for this amendment, which it does not seems possible now due to Sadr objections to return the parliament sessions.