America-China on Monday 01 June



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Monday 01 June

editorof Marilisa Palumbo
Good morning, let’s pick up where we left off: protests over the death of George Floyd, killed on May 25 in Minneapolis by a police officer who pressed his knee to his neck for nine endless minutes, spread across the United States and has in some cases it had a very violent drift, fomented by left-wing extremists and infiltrators of the supremacist right. The national guard went into action from California to Georgia and dozens of cities imposed a curfew, including the capital Washington.

The White House – which last night, an unusual choice, turned off the outside lights – was surrounded by demonstrators all weekend. The police fired tear gas to disperse them, and only a few hours ago it became known that on the night between Friday and Saturday Donald Trump was taken to the building’s bunker, which had not been used since 11 September. The president spent the weekend, aside from visiting Cape Canaveral for the launch of the Space X spacecraft, closed in his rooms, refusing the suggestion of some staff members to speak to the nation, and taking refuge in his beloved-hated Twitter.

“Law and Order!” he wrote at some point, and promised to insert “Antifa (the far left wing of the protests) between terrorist organizations” (which is legally impossible because there is no law on domestic terrorism in the US and antifa it is not an organization with a leader). The commentators immediately thought of Richard Nixon, in the summer of 1968, when terrible riots broke out all over the country after the death of Martin Luther King, and ended up playing the game of the then Republican candidate who built consensus on the fears of the silent majority .

Will history repeat itself? Joe Biden, who went to see the demonstrators in his Wilmington yesterday, is looking for another way, made of empathy, dialogue, mediation, like many of the very tough African American women at the helm of some of the cities most affected by the protests. But it is difficult to say if it will work, in a torn country, without leaders, and still in the midst of the pandemic (so much so that the health authorities raise the alarm on the contagion of protests …). Another difficult week for America begins, and from a distance Xi Jinping, not too secretly, welcomes it.

Enjoy the reading.

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1. Minneapolis, terror on the bridge: truck against protesters (and the driver is a Trump fan)
A protester rescued after the impact of the tanker on the procession
of Giuseppe Sarcina
sent to Minneapolis

The US protest over the killing of African American George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin shows no sign of abating. A corpse has been found in Minneapolis. One person died in Indianapolis. An agent was stabbed in Florida. A dozen states have mobilized the national guard and made curfews in 25 cities. Trump: “The corrupt media are doing everything in their power to stir up hatred and anarchy.”

Meanwhile, in the night, the National Guard and the police they regained control of the free zone of Minneapolis, which remained at the mercy of the most destructive demonstrators for two consecutive nights.

Other moments of terror were broadcast live on television. And other hot controversies on the way. A Ukrainian immigrant, a former soldier and a declared fan of Donald Trump, drove his tanker against demonstrators in Minneapolis. Sunday evening, May 31st. The great crowd of a new march flows on the 35W highway exiting the city: it is the sixth day of protest for the killing of George Floyd (for now only one formally accused policeman). At one point, the cameras frame a heavy vehicle pointing the procession at high speed. Then it slows down as it approaches the mass distributed on the two carriageways. Finally it stops. It’s a moment: a swarm of young people jump on the truck. The vehicle still moves for about ten meters. But twenty, thirty boys block him. One climbs up on the hood and kicks the windshield. Others manage to open the doors.

And the driver, Bogdan Vechirko, 35, risks being lynched. The beating begins in the passenger compartment, then the man is dragged out. Again pushed, beaten. Until a group of activists calms the collective fury and delivers the bleeding, shirtless “prisoner” to the special police forces. There are no other wounded. The authorities have so far released only essential Bogdan data. He was arrested on charges of “assault”, not attempted massacre. It is known that he resides in Otsego, a town not far from Minneapolis. He works as a “master” for a transport company and has several criminal records. The most serious: “domestic violence”. But what he will discuss is his political orientation, as shown by the election campaign register. In 2019 he made a donation of 100 dollars to the «Maga» Committee, Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again. And in 2018 he paid 115 and then 100 dollars to the Republican Party’s National Committee.

Here and here Giuseppe Sarcina’s reportages from Minneapolis.

2. Courageous sheriffs: when the police “hug” the demonstrators and try to mediate
Solidarity between protesters and law enforcement in Houston (photo from Twitter)
of Massimo Gaggi
from New York

The attempt to mend relations between Americans furious over the killing of George Floyd and the police go through two brave “sheriffs” who yesterday attended memorials for the African American killed by suffocation a week ago and then spoke to the family of the victim through CNN cameras.

  • Medaria Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief, took off his hat out of respect, apologized to the family and, answering a question from George’s brother, He said he considered all four agents who arrested Floyd to be jointly responsible for his death, like Derek Chauvin. “When you fired all four of them,” they asked, “what shortcoming did you accuse them of?” “Violation of humanity” was the reply.
  • A thousand miles south, in Texas, Art Acevedo also attended a ceremony to honor George Floyd’s memory. The Houston police chief promised some sort of state funeral when the body of the murdered black man returns to his hometown, but he also warned violent rebels: “We will not let Floyd’s memory be ruined by anarchists who do Satan’s work.” Perhaps only words to keep the square calm: other times police reforms have been promised that have never arrived, while the episodes of excessive use of force by the agents have multiplied. Also in Minneapolis and Houston. Acevedo claims that something profound is changing this time. Not only in the leadership of the security forces but above all in their unions. The unions, which in the past have always sided with the agents, even when they had committed serious crimes, this time condemned them.
  • In Flint, Michigan, Sheriff Christopher R. Swanson took off his helmet and walked with the protesters, after asking the agents to put down the batons. «We walk with you because all you ask is that everyone has a voice and dignity – Swanson said after the march – I love you. The police love you. “
3. The daughter of Mayor de Blasio also arrested in Manhattan
Chiara de Blasio with her dad

(Massimo Gaggi) Riots, fires and looting in the night also in Manhattan. Protest groups gathered yesterday in Brooklyn, they crossed the bridges over the East River and started marching in the streets of New York. Peaceful demonstration in the daytime. In Times Square, during a prayer in memory of George Floyd, some agents knelt together with the protesters.

But the police had, however, prepared for the worst, having intercepted encrypted messages from anarchist activists who, using stolen Citybike bicycles, organized protected routes for the transport of tools to unhinge shutters, break through shop windows and transport petrol to be used to fuel fires.

The NYPD intelligence alarm, New York police, rose when they were intercepted messages launched to collect money to be used to pay the bail bonds of the protesters who will be arrested and for recruit volunteer doctors willing to follow the demonstrators to treat the injured rebels, in anticipation of clashes destined to become bloody.

At 11 p.m. the fighting began on Broadway, two blocks south of Union Square: first cars set on fire, then a couple of demonstrative looting in clothing stores, with items stolen and thrown on the street.

Among the arrested protesters for refusing to step back in front of the agents, also the daughter of the mayor, Chiara DeBlasio, a black girl. The girl was immediately released with a subpoena.

The police, however, gave the feeling of being able to regain control of the situation, while the fire trucks arrived promptly. But the alarm has not gone down, because the suspicions of infiltrations were confirmed by an initial examination of the origin of the 800 people arrested so far during the riots: one in seven is not from New York State. Some even came from Texas and Minnesota.

4. On the field, the National Guard: what it can and cannot do
National Guard men in Santa Monica
  • The numbers: over 5,000 National Guard men deployed in 15 states, another 2,000 mobilized
  • Four Armed Forces bases – Fort Bragg, Fort Drum, Fort Carson, Fort Riley – set on alert, with troops ready to move in case additional intervention is needed to deal with the unrest.
  • It is in the power of US governors to ask for military help to shore up insufficient police departments or overwhelmed by the magnitude of the unrest.
  • The soldiers support the agents, guarantee the protection of citizens and property (shops, public buildings, premises). According to the regulation at this stage they have loaded weapons but with the safety, they patrol with their means, they patrol areas.
  • They number, but one wonders how much they can affect. They are certainly not designed to manage public order and their equipment – even if with some tweaks – is not suitable for that purpose. But the emergency does not leave many alternatives to the authorities.
  • The action of the NSA was also hypothesized, in order to intercept communications. There are half confirmations and denials: it is an espionage agency, covered by secrecy. The presence of a Border Patrol drone is certain and the use of small aircraft with intelligence missions is likely.
5. From Rodney King’s beating to Ahmaud Arbery’s murder, what has (not) changed in thirty years
The images of King’s beating

The murder of George Floyd is only the latest in a long series of attacks by law enforcement officials against African Americans. From the Los Angeles riots in 1992 to the big Ferguson protest, here are ten stories that have marked the recent history of the United States. Here the first:

In 1991 a video showing some LA cops beat the black taxi driver Rodney King with over 50 shots, fracturing his skull and causing permanent damage (King had been stopped for speeding) goes around the world. President George Bush calls cop reaction “revolting”.

But in April 1992 the four accused agents are acquitted by a white majority jury: the sentence unleashes violent protests that burn Los Angeles for days. The toll is 54 victims, 2,383 injured, one billion dollars in damages and over 12 thousand arrests. The president is shocked, like the whole country: «What is happening is not about civil rights … It is not a protest message. it is brutality, pure and simple … »

In October 1995, again in Los Angeles, a jury made up mostly of African Americans acquits African American champion O. J. Simpson from the charge of murder, although there is overwhelming evidence against him: for many, in the community, it is a kind of revenge after the acquittal of the agents guilty of the beating of the taxi driver.

Rodney King, who has never recovered from the shock of the attack, is found dead on the bottom of a swimming pool on June 17, 2012: in his blood there are traces of alcohol and cocaine. He was 47 years old.

6. Biden on the street talking to the protesters. But will it be enough “not to be Trump”?
Democratic candidate Joe Biden speaks to a protester in Wilmington

Joe Biden has ventured out of the now famous basement where he has worked since March to meet the protesters on the streets of Wilmington, the Delaware city where he lives.

Squeezed between the pressure of the party, which would like it more present in the political debate, and the fear of contagion (at 77 years is in the age group most at risk), so far, the Democratic candidate had left the house only once, to pay homage to the fallen of war for Memorial Day, and he never left his city.

As the country burns, however, the would-be president had to make his voice heard, and documented his excursion through the streets of Wilmington on social networks: “The only way to endure this pain is to turn all anguish into a goal,” Biden wrote. “As president, I will conduct this dialogue and listen, just as I did today by visiting the site of the protests the other night.”

In Instagram stories, the team showed Biden while taking pictures with some supporters, recorded a man who invited him to chase the “madman” out of the White House and little else: to be on his second public release, the message was weak . Over the weekend, however, the Democratic candidate had expressed solidarity with the demonstrators, remembering that the way he protests must not obscure the reason for the demonstrations: burning entire neighborhoods, endangering the lives of people with violence is wrong, he explained, then revealing that he spoke to George Floyd’s family and was impressed “by their courage and composure in this moment of unimaginable pain”.

As he clarified Floyd’s brother, Philonise, the family also spoke to Trump, but the conversation was swift: “He didn’t even give me time to speak”, he told Reverend Al Sharpton in his program on Msnbc.

Biden’s actions are therefore in stark contrast to those of his opponent, is ahead in all the surveys conducted in May, but may not be enough. As Astead Herndon wrote in the New York Times, for African Americans – who made his candidacy take off in the primary – it is not enough not to be Trump and tell citizens to vote: “They don’t just want justice for Floyd, but a replacement of political and economic power that will prevent the death of a tall black person at the hands of the police, another brutal video that has gone viral.”

Meanwhile, a suggestion has come from Anna Wintour: “You have to surround yourself with the best and brightest minds that represent all of America,” wrote the very powerful editor of Vogue. “This means that he has to choose a black woman as his deputy, and he has to do it now».

7. Keisha and Lori, two black mayors for post-Minneapolis
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms with the city police chief

Two women, two African Americans in the season after Minneapolis: Lori Lightfoot, 57, leads Barack Obama’s Chicago, the third largest city in the country, while 50-year-old Keisha Lance Bottoms is the first city in Atlanta, the home of Martin Luther King.

Two mayors, two intense, albeit different (but not necessarily opposite) public reactions to the murder of George Floyd and America that is inflamed from Washington to the Pacific.

  • Vibrant Lori: to President Trump who threatened fierce bullets and dogs on protesters, Lightfoot responds by literally sending him to that country (“F … k you”). “Being black in America doesn’t have to be a death sentence.”
  • Presidential Bottoms: the mayor of Atlanta in his speeches has alternating anger and balance. “I am a mother of four black boys, and seeing the murder of George Floyd, I felt as hurt as a mother can be.” But when clashes and looting began «I called my eighteen year old son:“ Where are you? Black guys shouldn’t be around today. “” Donald Trump Bottoms simply asks to shut up. “He would just be quiet.” His words worsen the situation. “He should stop talking.” As for the rioters who use violence in Atlanta and elsewhere, the magistrate Keisha condemns them in no uncertain terms: «The protest must have a goal. When Doctor King was killed, we didn’t do this to our city. If you want to change America, don’t destroy it. Register and go to vote ».
  • Lightfoot is not in the running for the presidential election in November. Bottoms is among the women vying to be Biden’s deputy in the White House. He supported Joe when everyone finished him, and his words after Minneapolis all the more make her the rising star of the Democratic party.
8. Keith’s new challenge, the prosecutor who will lead the accusation (he was the first Muslim elected to Congress)
Keith Ellison, Minnesota attorney general, with MP Ilhan Omar

In 2006, in an interview with Courier serviceKeith Ellison, an African American lawyer who had just become the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, explained that “people can be united if they defend everyone’s civil rights.” Now the eyes are on Ellison, because he, who has been the Attorney General of Minnesota since 2019, has been charged with George Floyd’s case.

The governor’s decision to get the state prosecutor to intervene, alongside Hannepin County Mike Freeman, it is unusual; usually occurs in cases of conflict of interest. It wants to be a signal to the demonstrators and the family, in the awareness of the low trust they have in the system, which Freeman also considers part of.

Locally, the prosecutor and the police department often work closely together. From 1990 to 99 and then in the second term from 2006 to the present, the prosecutor Freeman indicted only one murder agent: Mohammad Noor, a black policeman who killed a white woman.

It took 4 days for him to charge George Floyd’s killer, but the protesters and the family also hold the three agents who were with him responsible. Ellison himself warns that pursuing a murder charge against police officers it is «very difficult and we will be put under attack». (To criticize it, a 2018 tweet was already released in which Ellison read a book entitled: “Antifa, anti-fascist manual”). Derek Chauvin, the accused policeman, chose the same as the lawyer who represented the agent who killed Philando Castile, and won.

On the night he was elected to Congress, Ellison said, “We made history. We have shown that we are stronger when we build bridges between communities than when we try to divide in order to conquer ». Will he succeed now?

9. If US protests are “convenient” in Xi (which scares Hong Kong kids)
A pro-Chinese protester with a Trump puppet outside the American consulate in Hong Kong

“Speaker of the American Chamber Nancy Pelosi once called the violent protests in Hong Kong” a beautiful sight to behold “. Now this beautiful sight has spread from Hong Kong to a dozen American states and Washington politicians can enjoy it from their windows. ” Thus begins the editorial by Hu Xijing, editor of the national-communist newspaper “Global Times” in Beijing.

On the front page a large photo of policemen with helmets crushing demonstrators on the ground. Which actually recalls the images arrived for months from the former British colony. Director Hu’s reasoning is simple: if you liked the chaos of Hong Kong, now fall in love with the Minneapolis guerrilla.

The editorial concludes by advising the Hong Kong rebels (and the city police) to carefully observe the scenes of Minneapolis. The boys of the Chinese City fighting against local power and that of the Party-State of Beijing are certainly watching. And they are scared. They realize they are alone pawns on the power game board between the United States and China. With the new Chinese National Security Law imposed from Beijing to Hong Kong, they imagine harsh sentences if they venture out into the procession again. And if they are lucid they will have understood that Donald Trump has his main re-election in November (if not the only one at the moment).

The American president bombed Beijing with words, threatening vague and obviously inconclusive punishments for the security squeeze on the semi-autonomous City. Xi Jinping wants to give his Politburo and the Chinese shocked by the coronavirus a show of strength: settling accounts with Hong Kong has appeared to him to be a good solution with limited international costs. Certainly the Chinese president is enjoying the Minneapolis show on TV and appreciates that American scenes can be confused with Hong Kong scenes.

10. From Jordan to Leclerc, sport wakes up against racism

And yet it moves. Something is happening in the world of sport, which generally does everything to keep well away from any “political” topic. After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sportsmen, en masse, are taking a stand against racism and the violence against black people. It is new.

Even in football: in the Bundesliga Lilian Thuram’s son, Marcos, knelt on the pitch imitating the protest of the football player Kaepernick.

In the US, too a star like Michael Jordan (back very popular after the series “The Last Dance”) is strongly unbalanced: «I feel very sad, but also very angry. I see and feel everyone’s pain, indignation and frustration. I am on the side of those who are protesting. But now we have enough »until we write: «We must use our vote to create change».

Of course, mostly black athletes are mobilizing (Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics took a 15-hour drive to go to a rally in Atlanta, social media spoke Kylian Mbappé, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff, Tyrone Carter, Super Bowl 2008 champion, raised his fist like Smith and Carlos in ’68).

And it’s on the lack of solidarity of the whites who pointed the finger Lewis Hamilton, the F1 world champion: «Not a sign from my industry, which of course is a sport dominated by whites. I am one of the few in color and therefore I am alone ». About three hours later, always on Instagram, the young Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc replied: «I have always felt uncomfortable expressing my opinion on social media. This is why I have not expressed myself so far. And I was wrong. Racism must be tackled with actions, not with silence. It is our responsibility to speak against injustice. ” Something is moving.

11. Can a thousand yuan a month be enough for 600 million people (in the world’s second largest economy)?

(Guido Santevecchi) Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang lives in the shadow of Xi Jinping. Li is a serious technocrat, his moment of glory comes once a year, when at the conclusion of the National People’s Congress he answers journalists’ questions (questions submitted days in advance and approved, but still questions).

But last Thursday, while Li was performing, the world press reported only about the 2,878-to-1 vote by which congressional delegates had just approved the imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong. Too bad, we apologize, why at least one sentence from Li Keqiang would have deserved a title. It is this: “The average annual income of the Chinese has reached 30,000 yuan (3,800 euros), however 600 million Chinese live with 1,000 yuan per month (126 euros). With 1,000 yuan it would be difficult to rent an apartment in a medium-sized Chinese city. ”

The Chinese press stresses that there is an inequality in the distribution of income in the People’s Republic (nominally still a communist, but addicted to state capitalism). Then he takes refuge in the consideration that 40% of the population still lives in the countryside and does not need to rent a house in the city. A thousand Yuan a month is still enough. But until 600 million citizens are satisfied with this reading of one devastating statistics for the world’s second largest economy?

12. And in North Korea shrinking Kim bonds arrive: an offer that cannot be refused
Kim Jong Un during an assembly of North Korean military leaders

(Guido Santevecchi) It is not often the case that the rating agency Fitch deals with North Korea. Its analysts have forecast a 6% contraction in Pyongyang’s GDP for 2020: the most serious collapse for over twenty years. Kim Jong-un desperately needs money. And so the regime turns to the “donju”, which means “masters of money”.

They are small businessmen tolerated by power, who manage shops and food stores, trade and lend money. In Kim’s view, this merchant class should have experienced a dawn of capitalist reform. Nothing compared to the grand opening in China in 1978, but an attempt. But now the Marshal has decided to tighten again. Fitch’s report reads that Kim would have issued North Korean treasury bonds to cover 60% of the state budget. How? Raking the liquidity of the “donju”, forced to buy the vouchers to demonstrate loyalty and gratitude to the power that allowed them to get rich. The Kim Bond offer is an offer that cannot be refused in North Korea.

13. Cinema, viruses and streaming wars: will Netflix still win?
A scene from Spike Lee’s “From 5 Bloods”

Sara Christopher Nolan to save the cinema or will we all die Netflixians? The director of Inception is Dunkirk he seems to want to challenge fate and the coronavirus confirming the release of his new film in theaters on July 17th Tenet, the most awaited of the year: it will be the moment of truth for many “nostalgics” of the shared vision.

Meanwhile, the “digital wars” destined to shape the future map of the seventh art (and TV series.) Are being fought on the Internet. What will happen? Will Netflix win again? The Quartz site tried last week to answer the question, with five considerations

  1. The pandemic gave the definitive push to streaming servicesNetflix alone increased its subscribers by 16 million in one quarter and the market capitalization by 40 billion. It is now worth more than Disney and Comcast (Murdoch).
  2. Reed Hastings’ platform has exploited the situation in its favor: it shares the problem of blocking productions in America with all the old big Hollywood players, but unlike them, it has brought some of them back to other, safer countries. And it could rake up works and projects left without distribution.
  3. His landing in France – with the opening of a venue in Paris and the negotiations that would have brought Spike Lee’s new film (streamed since June 12) to the Cannes Film Festival (later skipped) – is the example of one last breakthrough in the “old world” still hostile.
  4. innovation. The Los Gatos giant has privileged quantity over quality and aims to be the super-TV of the future. How? What will you do when you grow up?
  5. The competition. Netflix has now become the establishment it intended to bring down. Now the old woman tries to recover: from Disney to NBC to Hbo (i.e.Warner), they have all launched their platforms. The market is crowded.

Impossible to make predictions, yet a showdown is approaching. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, as old Bogey said in Casablanca. Netflix will take the lead, however this could make her more a prey than a predator (also because she has so many debts). But who could afford such a purchase?

All fantasies from “streaming wars”? Maybe. Better to wait. And keep an eye on the closest, romantic July 17th. When we find out if, in addition to the sovereign sofa, cinema will still more modestly exist.

Thanks for getting here. Have a good week.
See you tomorrow,Marilisa Palumbo

America-China leaves from Monday to Friday at 1pm.
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