Planet Watch
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Poor persecuted in COVID-19 police state

In countries across the world, the impoverished are in a grimly paradoxical position: disproportionately impacted both by COVID-19 and by the police-state measures imposed in response to the pandemic—and consequent economic pain. In Lebanon, which had been in the midst of a national uprising before the lockdown, protests have been re-ignited—and with far greater anger. In Venezuela and Argentina, harshly overcrowded prisons have exploded into uprisings over emergency restrictions that leave inmates incommunicado. As in India, stranded migrant laborers line the highways in Peru, defying lockdown orders that have left them destitute, far from home and without employment. UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet warns that “the public health emergency risks becoming a human rights disaster, with negative effects that will long outlast the pandemic itself.” (Photo: Rebelión)

Watching the Shadows
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Global COVID-19 police state consolidates

It’s an irony that with police-state measures mounting worldwide to enforce lockdowns and contain COVID-19, Trump is now claiming sweeping executive power to lift lockdowns in the US in spite of the pandemic. Asserting his prerogative to override state governors and order economies open again, Trump stated: “When someone is president of the United States, the authority is total.” The media response has been to call this out as blatantly unconstitutional. While it is necessary to point out the illegitimacy of Trump’s pretended power-grab, it is also side-stepping the real threat here: of the pandemic being exploited to declare an actual “state of exception” in which constitutional restraints are suspended altogether—perhaps permanently. (Photo of protest outside “morgue truck” in New York City: Donna Aceto/Rise and Resist)

Southeast Asia

Cambodia passes bill to stifle opposition

Cambodia's National Assembly passed a bill prohibiting political parties from being affiliated with convicted criminals—clearly aimed at weakening the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, whose leader Sam Rainsy was sentenced to two years on "defamation" charges. The CNRP is building support among peasants angered by land-grabbing, and several peasant leaders also face politically motivated charges for opposing land-grabs by agribusiness interests.

East Asia

China factor in the Trump world order

Xi Jinping is weighing whether he will be invited to join the authoritarian New Order—or whether Putin will desert him for Trump, and the two of them will gang up on China.

Southeast Asia

Occupy Phnom Penh dispersed

Cambodian military police opened fire on striking garment factory workers, killing four, and then dispersed a protest encampment from a central square in Phnom Penh.

Southeast Asia

Geopolitical chess game heats up South China Sea

Beijing's move to set up a military garrison on disputed Yongxing Island—claimed by the Philippines as part of the Paracel chain—is escalating tension in the South China Sea.