Florida’s Palm Beach County braces for its annual “burn season,” which begins each year in October and runs for six months at least through March to as late as May. The Florida sugar industry begins its harvest season for 400,000 acres (625 square miles) of sugarcane fields. Assuming a six-month burn season, this means there were approximately 43 fires per day in 2019. During the burning, walls of fire rise from 30 to 40 feet in the air, and then create smoke plumes reaching over a half-mile high, stretching as much as 26 miles from the actual burn sites, around four small Black and Latino communities in Palm Beach south of Lake Okeechobee — Belle Glade, Pahokee, South Bay and Canal Point. Hendry, Glade and Martin counties are also targets. This is all designated as part of the “Hazard Zone.”
Roads become impassible. Children walk to school wearing trash bags to protect themselves from the noxious “Black Snow” which bombards everything in the area. The greasy, sticky, toxic ash accumulates on parks, schools, roads, hospitals, restaurants, and shopping areas.
Smoke filters into people’s homes, schools and hospitals. Schools stock up on asthma inhalers. Air conditioner and water filters become clogged. Still-lit embers sometimes rain down from the fields. Flowers die and gardens are poisoned. Children wheeze and cry, and adults cough when they breathe. Everything stinks.
“A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.”
— opening line of Gravity’s Rainbow
The Democratic Party’s crescendo screams at us but is somehow hollow. MSNBC — the official mouthpiece of the Democratic Party — has dropped all pretense of being a news network. They complain, of course, that Fox News has dropped all pretense of being a news network. Both are right. The Green nominees — Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker — are drowned out. The “independent” progressive media has been eerily silent. Bought or not, their silence on Hawkins/Walker is deafening.
A Black Biden rep on MSNBC is asked what “lock ’em up” Joe will do for the Black community. She repeats over and over that Biden/Harris is a great team for doing something. Not a word about what that something would be.
A hashtag. A response. An outrage. Heartfelt. It ignited. It moved. #Blacklivesmatter resonated with individuals that repeatedly watched Black lives executed by hands of police or White folks who used their privilege to murder unarmed Black lives.
In 2013, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the unnecessary slaughter of Trayvon Martin, Alicia Garza posted using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter — and the rest is history. #BLM became a passion. Black Lives Matter started as a movement in a moment and became a principle. Black Lives Matter is a profound statement. A declaration. We have witnessed a profound uprising by those ignited by the fire of Black Lives Matter! Therefore, my question to those who are calling for the disregard of #BLM is: Shouldn’t Black lives matter? Why is it problematic to move in the moment that has ignited a historic movement? What harm is there in organizing around a principle? Why not allow a hashtag to become a living organism? Most that wear the shirts, hats, and so on, are NOT tied to a Black Lives Matter chapter. There are signs posted all around the nation and most that share those signs are NOT part of any formal organization. However, they have aligned themselves with the Black Lives Matter PRINCIPLE.
When I wrote “Florida under Siege“ published May 14, the official Florida Covid-19 death count stood at 1,898 (among 42,402 confirmed cases). Today the death score is 3,546 dead out of 146,341 cases. On May 14th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had just appointed his Re-Open Florida Task Force. Now we reap the harvest.
In mid-May, an excessively charitable person could have ascribed his action to stupidity. Today, as the body-count spirals out of control, it is nothing less than murder.
So here is the Problem that I saw firsthand while at the site in Minneapolis where George Floyd was lynched and murdered by Police. White Evangelicals, who are otherwise supporting an openly racist and fascist President — the Orange Julius Caesar Trump —come to the sacred site of where George Floyd was murdered … and try to convert people to Jesus. Not the real Revolutionary Jesus, a person of color, of Indigenous people enslaved by an Empire, who overturned the Merchandisers in the Temple, and destroyed property, but instead the Jesus of the sweet bye and bye. Just like the white slave masters did to the slaves.
Then they preach love, without real repentance on the part of White privilege. I witnessed them being sectarian, as they drove away some Muslims, and others who weren’t “Christians.” I witnessed a young Trans person, who I interviewed, express their hurt, their heart break, as so called Christians stood in judgment of them.
The smoke is beginning to dissipate. The chants and the echoes of the chants are starting to fade. Now the real fight begins. The fight over what all this means. The horrific murder, the headlines, the jam-packed streets spreading across the country, and the heavily armed troops prowling the streets of America — all will reverberate for years. And the flames. Don’t forget the flames.
Why does the spectre of Insurrection haunt America?
Sez Donald Trump: “Our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, or, arsonists, looters, criminals, rider rioters, Antifa and others … acts of domestic terror … If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem.” He would invoke an 1807 law called the Insurrection Act.
Say the Democratic Party politicians: “Something inappropriate has happened.”
We say it was murder. Again. Even now, Donald Trump says he plans to send in the troops. If looting starts, he will start killing more of the people of Minneapolis and anywhere else where the rule of capitalism is threatened.
We stand with the people of Minneapolis and all Black and Latino people in defense of their communities.
In mid- February 2020, my wife Rose and I were very sick. We of course had heard of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, but that was on the other side of the world, nothing to do with us. We just figured it was the flu or a bad cold. Rose had spells of difficulty breathing. One night, she couldn’t breathe at all. While we considered calling an ambulance, a few hits from an inhaler got her breathing again.
One day, I started getting very weak, to the point where I couldn’t even stand up without desperately clinging to walls or furniture. We called an ambulance, which took us to a hospital. There, the hallways were packed with beds and patients waiting to be admitted. Nothing moved. A doctor told me that admission would take at least 24 hours. Then he quietly confided that at St. Pete General, the waiting time was 72 hours. Three days! I got examined in the hallway, was pronounced not on the verge of death, given a prescription for TamaFlu, and sent home.
Something odd was going on. But we had no idea. We may have been very lucky.
With Florida’s official death toll from Covid-19 standing at 1,898 (among 42,402 confirmed cases), Governor Rick DeSantis has appointed a Re-Open Florida Task Force, chaired by Florida Chamber of Commerce Chairman and CEO Mark Wilson, to get the state back in business in less than a week.
“[I]n this most desperate hour, I could not in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required by all of us.
— Bernie Sanders April 8, 2020
Was this the bitter end? Yes. Did it mark a powerful new beginning? Also yes. Bernie effusively thanked his thousands upon thousands of supporters who had staked their hopes and dreams on his vision. He listed some of his successes. His campaign had valiantly taken “Medicare for All” into the mainstream. And the Green New Deal. He had won the hearts and minds of younger voters to a progressive, if not fully socialistic, vision. He had struck mortal fear into the craven hearts of Wall Street and the Democratic Party establishment.