Ben Sharrock talks about the story.
Ben Sharrock talks about the story.
The cohost of "The View" also blasted the GOP's "sausagefest of MAGA up on Capitol Hill."
The shadowy leader of the armed wing of the Islamic militant group Hamas has issued his first public statement in nearly seven years, warning Israel it will pay a “heavy price” if it evicts Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem. Mohammed Deif has been in hiding for more than two decades and is believed to be paralyzed after surviving multiple assassination attempts. The most recent was during the 2014 Gaza war, when an Israeli airstrike killed his wife and infant son, according to Hamas.
Modi’s government had a choice between saving lives and saving face. It has chosen the latter Workers cremate people who have died of Covid-19 at a crematorium outside Siliguri on Tuesday. Epidemiologists believe the country’s reported death toll is only a fraction of the true figure. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images A few years ago, as Narendra Modi came into power, I worked on an investigative report about India hiding its malaria deaths. In traveling from tribal Odisha to the Indian national health ministry in New Delhi, my colleague and I watched thousands of cases disappear: some malaria deaths, first noted in handwritten local health ledgers, never appeared in central government reports; other malaria deaths were magically transformed into deaths of heart attack or fever. The discrepancy was massive: India reported 561 malaria deaths that year. Experts predicted the actual number was as high as 200,000. Now, with Covid ravaging the country, desperate Indians have taken to Twitter to ask for oxygen cylinders or beg hospitals for an open bed. The crisis has been exacerbated by the government’s concealment of critical information. Between India’s long history of hiding and undercounting illness deaths and its much more recent history of restraining and suppressing the press, Modi’s administration has made it impossible to find accurate information about the virus’s hold in the country. Blocking that information will only hurt millions within the country. It will also stymie global efforts to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, and new variants of the virus, at India’s border. Epidemiologists in India and abroad estimate that the country’s official reported Covid-19 death toll – around 222,000 at time of publication – accounts for only a fraction of the real number. The director of the US-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that India is only detecting 3-4% of actual cases. Other experts point to total excess deaths in cities such as Mumbai as proof that there could be 60% to 70% more deaths from Covid-19 than the government is admitting to. There are various reasons India could be cooking the books on Covid deaths. For one, the utter failure of the public health system makes it difficult to account for the millions of bodies passing through hospitals, clinics and those dying in their own home. Despite having become one of the largest economies in the world, India has always spent a dismal portion of its GDP on healthcare, with an investment somewhere around 3%, compared with Brazil (9%) or the US (17%). But systemic failure is only one part of the puzzle. The reigning party of the Indian government touted its success in curbing the virus very early in the pandemic, and has never let go of that narrative. As bodies burned in funeral pyres across Uttar Pradesh in April, Yogi Adityanath – the state’s chief minister and a key Modi lackey – claimed that everything was under control and repeatedly refused to announce new lockdown measures, even as he himself contracted Covid-19. This denialist rhetoric is occurring at almost every level. Like India’s see-no-evil approach to malaria or tuberculosis, its Covid obfuscation suppresses “bad news” in order to buoy the country’s international image and the government party’s domestic standing. Not all countries with struggling health systems do this. Some actually at times overcount deaths from other viruses in order to get more humanitarian aid. But undercounting disease is, in many ways, far more sinister. Modi’s government had a choice between saving face and saving lives, and has chosen mass death. India's Covid obfuscation suppresses 'bad news' to buoy its image and the government party’s domestic standing While undercounting disease is a longstanding problem in India, the assault on press freedom is far more recent. Since Modi came into power in 2015, the freedom of India’s expansive media culture has dramatically shrunk, according to sources including Reporters Without Borders. In the last few years, the government has sued or prosecuted several news organizations and journalists, citing defamation or other even more dubious rationales. Controversial laws such as the 2000 Information Technology Act allow for what seem like increasingly frequent, and grossly arbitrary and politically motivated, crackdowns on freedom of speech and press. Indian journalists tell me they are often asked to self-censor their reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as what they say on social media, for fear of inciting the ire of the government. Many were understandably incensed last week when the Indian central government reportedly made Twitter and Facebook remove posts critical of the government’s Covid measures. Meanwhile, India continues to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work, and more than 165 journalists have allegedly died of Covid-19 while covering the crisis itself. (Last month Kakoli Bhattacharya, an Indian journalist who worked as a news assistant for the Guardian, died of Covid.) In the absence of trustworthy Covid information from their own government, Indians are mostly reliant on social media and foreign reporting for the story of what’s actually happening. The result is a public health nightmare for India – and also, I fear, for the global community, which, just as many countries are breathing a sigh of relief, could face another Covid wave that includes new variants. We can learn from other epidemics what that might look like: India was one of the last countries to eradicate polio, and is one of 15 countries that still have a significant number of people with leprosy. India also has the third largest HIV/Aids epidemic in the world. India’s struggles with diseases that have been eradicated or largely ameliorated elsewhere leaves a backdoor for global public health threats and costs billions of dollars in disease burden. These health crises also harm international travel, trade and other economic indicators, creating new challenges not only for India but for its allies, as well. India likes to tout itself as the world’s largest democracy – and use that moral authority to protect its standing in the global economy and the international diplomatic community. But with a dark curtain separating the reality of the country’s Covid-19 crisis from the rest of the world, India’s standing and authority are at risk. If the country continues to choose political expediency over transparency in the days to come, the people of India, scrambling to protect their families, are the first victims, but far from the last. Ankita Rao is a news editor at the Guardian US
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has a 90 percent popularity rate in his country, perhaps the highest one in the region. But power has gone to his head, and his latest takeover of the Salvadoran justice system threatens to turn him into Latin America’s newest elected dictator.
CARACAS (Reuters) -Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro received a samurai sword as a gift from actor Steven Seagal, who was visiting the South American country as a representative of Russia, state television images showed on Tuesday evening. Maduro, wearing a white facemask and a traditional Venezuelan black long sleeve shirt known as a liqui liqui, positioned the sword over his shoulder as Seagal nodded and pointed in affirmation, the images broadcast from the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas showed. "The Venezuelan head of state maneuvers after drawing the sword," a state television narrator said, calling the weapon a "symbol of leadership."
The Texas senator and former president have an unusual history, which their critics were more than happy to point out.
The Washington PostJosh Hawley is a United States senator, published author, and frequent guest on Fox News, the most-watched U.S. cable-news network. Despite this, he has complained for months now that he is one of the biggest victims of so-called “cancel culture” and has been “silenced” by the “woke” mob.And, of course, most of the time he has delivered these complaints on large public platforms with large audiences, something one reporter threw back in his face on Tuesday after he accused her of trying to “censor” and “cancel” him during a chat.The Missouri senator was invited onto The Washington Post’s live stream on Tuesday to discuss his latest book, The Tyranny of Big Tech. (The Republican lawmaker had already been mocked recently for urging his supporters to buy the anti-“Big Tech” book on Amazon via promotions on Twitter.)During their conversation, Washington Post reporter Cat Zakrzewski brought up his objection to President Joe Biden’s electoral victory over Donald Trump, asking whether the senator currently believes Biden is the “legitimately elected” president. (Insurrectionists, incited by Trump, stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop congressional certification of Biden’s win.)“I do,” Hawley acknowledged before claiming that “the heart of [his] objection” to Biden’s electoral win was that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court didn’t hear the merits of a Trump-backed lawsuit seeking to throw out mail-in votes.“Senator, I just want to step in here if you’re going to challenge this on saying they didn’t hear the merits of the case,” Zakrzewski responded. “Because there was an appeals court that ruled that the case lacked merit, so it’s difficult for a court to rule on the merits when they don’t exist.”As Zakrzewski tried to steer the conversation back to whether Hawley accepted Biden as the duly elected president, the senator whined that the reporter “can’t have it both ways” and she was “wrong” about how the court case was dismissed. And then—as is his shtick—he cried cancel culture.“Listen, it’s an important point,” the senator exclaimed. “Don’t try to censor, cancel, and silence me here!”Zakrzewski calmly retorted: “Senator, we’re hosting you here.”Seemingly oblivious to the reporter’s authoritative reply, Hawley continued to loudly complain, telling Zakrzewski that she had to “listen to the truth.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Women’s Republican Club of New Orleans head Martha Huckabay has taken a pretty awful take on U.S. history. Martha Huckabay, the president of the Women’s Republican Club of New Orleans, came up with an interesting take on U.S. history this weekend. Huckabay shared a clip of a segment in which a Louisiana state representative was interviewing with CNN’s John Berman about comments made by a Republican counterpart, Rep. Ray Garofalo, that students in his state’s schools should learn “the good, the bad and the ugly” of slavery.
"Nothing like reminiscing about attempted coups over a bouquet of flowers."
Rebels who launched an offensive in northern Chad, sparking clashes that claimed the life of veteran president Idriss Deby Itno, are in flight, the country's new defence minister said on Thursday.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYEFor the third day in a row, U.S. bases in Iraq have come under fire from rocket attacks.No one has claimed responsibility for the latest spate of attacks, which has not proved deadly so far, but the U.S. has routinely accused Iran-backed militias of attacking American interests in Iraq.The question now—as the attacks escalate—is what is President Joe Biden going to do about it?The Biden administration faces a Herculean task in confronting these incidents, in part because it was left with a blueprint from the last administration that sought retaliation every time American personnel were killed.When an American contractor was killed in a 2019 rocket attack targeting a K-1 base—which the U.S. blamed on Kataib Hezbollah—U.S. forces carried out retaliatory airstrikes against Iran-backed militants that December, setting off a cycle of violent back-to-back clashes. Within days, the U.S. embassy was hit by protests, American forces killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, and Iran fired ballistic missiles at Al-Asad base, where U.S. troops were stationed, in January 2020.That cycle is one that the Biden administration wants to avoid. And while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been adamant that the U.S. will defend its forces in Iraq, its troops are backed into a corner in weeks like this when rocket attacks strike three U.S. positions. Rockets were fired into the Ayn al Asad airbase in Western Iraq on Tuesday, there was an attack on the Balad air base north of Baghdad, which houses U.S. contractors on Monday, and another on the U.S. base at Baghdad airport on Sunday.The Biden administration doesn’t want to rush into a violent response, but it doesn’t want to look like it’s doing nothing. That is why State Department and Pentagon officials often evade questions about which specific groups are responsible for a given attack, and how they intend to react. If they don’t name the culprit, then there is no onus on them to respond.In February, the U.S. launched airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in Syria in response to a previous attack on American forces.This was an example of the delicate balancing act the U.S. is so desperately trying to perfect: to respond without escalating. By attacking Iranian-backed forces in Syria, the U.S. did not violate Iraqi sovereignty, which is a sensitive issue in Iraq and has led to calls for the U.S. to leave. American forces are in Iraq at the invitation of Baghdad to help fight ISIS. When the Trump administration hinted in December 2018 that the U.S. might withdraw from Syria and use Iraq to “watch” Iran, many Iraqi politicians were stunned by the proposal.During the war against ISIS, an uneasy truce existed between the U.S. and Iran. When the Iran deal was in the works in 2015, U.S.-led Coalition forces came to Iraq to help train, equip, advise, and assist Iraqis to push back ISIS. But by 2017, with Trump in office and ISIS largely defeated in Iraq, tensions began to grow between the U.S. and pro-Iranian politicians in Iraq.The Badr Organization, whose leader Hadi al-Amiri served alongside the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, called for the U.S. to leave. Qais Khazali, a militia leader who had once been detained by the U.S. at Camp Cropper, amplified threats against the U.S.By May 2019, rocket attacks—often using 107mm rockets linked to Iran—were targeting the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, a U.S. facility at Baghdad International Airport, and U.S. forces at Camp Taji and other bases. By July 2020 attacks increased to weekly incidents, and the U.S. sent air defense, including Patriots, to Iraq to protect against ballistic missile threats from Iran.This could mean that pro-Iranian groups in Iraq are seeking a kind of maximum-pressure campaign against the U.S., similar to the Trump administration’s maximum pressure on Iran.This puts the Biden administration in a precarious position. Unlike in Afghanistan—where the U.S. is withdrawing—it wants to preserve a presence in Iraq, and today, American troops have been drawn down and consolidated in more easily defended locations, in part due to the frequent attacks. Consolidation means fewer potential targets, and forces left K-1, Q-West, Camp Taji, and a series of other posts in 2020.Still, recent attacks in the past three months show just how vulnerable U.S. forces are, regardless of the consolidation tactics they take. The message appears to be that Iranian-backed forces will continue to strike wherever U.S. forces are located, whether on the giant sprawling Asad base or in Erbil.The White House is left with several options in response. It can hold Iran directly responsible, but that could lead to a military escalation. It can also use the attacks as leverage to levy a new regional Iran deal, requiring them to stop as part of the agreement. Alternatively, it could demand these groups be held responsible by Iraqi authorities, but the track records of those investigations are bleak. No militias have ever been charged for these attacks by the government, which is often reluctant to prosecute these groups because of their links to powerful political parties who have threatened Iraq’s president and prime minister in the past.The final two options are to escalate U.S. airstrikes in Syria to punish groups linked to Iran, or to do nothing at all. Doing nothing means letting pro-Iran groups dictate the tempo and escalation of the conflict. More airstrikes risk the appearance of taking action while failing to send a serious message to Iran. Small, tit-for-tat attacks will not make Iran reconsider its policy of harassing U.S. forces in Iraq.The Trump administration tried to set the bar by retaliating in response to any casualties, which led to dozens of attacks by militias. Prior to Trump, other U.S. administrations preferred to err on the side of doing nothing, putting the U.S. on the backfoot and giving pro-Iranian groups the upper hand.The White House is facing two loaded questions here. Are the attacks in Iraq a purely Iraqi problem, with a local solution? Or is the goal to stop the attacks in Tehran, requiring a regional approach that would address tensions from Yemen to Syria, Lebanon to Israel? Either path presents the administration with challenges that three previous administrations haven’t been able to solve.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid has received a mandate from Israel's president to form a new government, putting Benjamin Netanyahu in the most vulnerable position he has faced politically since becoming prime minister in 2009.The big picture: Netanyahu failed to form a government before his mandate expired overnight, but his rivals still have hurdles to clear before they can oust him. That means the political crisis that has gripped Israel over the last two years is far from over.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeDriving the news: President Reuven Rivlin held consultations with Israel's political parties today over the mandate decision, with both the centrist Lapid and right-wing kingmaker Naftali Bennett putting themselves forward.As expected, Rivlin opted to give the mandate to Lapid, who has managed to get 56 members of the Knesset to support him so far, including the six members of Gideon Sa'ar’s breakaway right-wing party.In a press conference this morning, Bennett said he was determined to prevent a fifth election and would thus work to form a unity government with Lapid and the center-left. He called on all right-wing parties to join the unity government. Lapid and Bennett are expected to resume power-sharing negotiations toward a government that would see Bennett serve first as prime minister for two years before Lapid rotates into the job.But, but, but: Netanyahu has been applying intense pressure on Bennett and his party members to deter them from joining a government with the center-left bloc.That campaign has started bearing fruit. One member of Bennett’s party announced he's against a power-sharing government with Lapid, but didn't state clearly whether he'd vote against it.A Lapid-Bennett government would only have the support of 58 members of the 120-seat Knesset, with the Arab parties likely to abstain. Therefore the cracks in Bennett’s party could sabotage the whole effort.What’s next: Lapid will have 28 days to try and form a new government. If he fails, there will be another 21-day period in which any member of the Knesset who can get signatures from 61 members will receive the mandate. Failing that, Israel will have its fifth consecutive election.Netanyahu would likely use that 21-day window to try and convince some of his right-wing allies to soften their position on forming a government supported by the Islamist Ra'am Party, which would allow him to remain prime minister.But first, he'll do everything in his power to prevent Lapid from forming a government.More from Axios: Sign up to get the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
While officials in Washington sound the alarm about a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, officials and residents on the island say that fails to understand the true dynamics in the region.
Experts say the effort, trundling along slowly in Phoenix, is unreliable and dangerous Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix examine and recount ballots from the 2020 election. Photograph: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images Sign up for the Guardian’s Fight to Vote newsletter Happy Thursday, I’m writing from Phoenix, where I’m spending the week covering a remarkable GOP audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa county, home to the majority of Arizona’s registered voters. The audit, which is unprecedented in US elections, is being watched with alarm around the country. Experts say it is a non-credible effort to fuel doubts about the 2020 race. And there’s some evidence similar efforts could pop up elsewhere. Maricopa county has already conducted multiple audits of the 2020 race and confirmed the results. The firm hired by the GOP-controlled Arizona senate has little experience in election audits, and experts are deeply concerned its methodology is unreliable and will only lead to more doubt about the results of the 2020 race in Arizona. The CEO of the firm, called Cyber Ninjas, supported baseless conspiracy theories about the election. The effort also appears to be receiving considerable outside funding from Trump allies who tried to assist in his efforts to overthrow the election results. The audit is taking place in a coliseum on McDowell Road here in Phoenix that used to be home to the Suns, the city’s basketball team (its nickname is the Madhouse on McDowell). For all the attention around the audit, the thing that stood out to me the most when I watched it up close on Tuesday was how slow and sleepy things were. Of the 46 tables in the arena, less than half were filled with people counting. Ken Bennett, a former Arizona secretary of state who is serving as the senate’s liaison to the audit, said officials hoped to have more counters in the arena soon, but temporary workers were undergoing background checks. Audit counters are divided into several teams and wear colored shirts to denote which they are a part of (there’s pink, blue, green and yellow). Three members of each team are at each table and mark down what’s on the ballot as it rotates on a lazy susan around the table. The whole process isn’t quick – I timed one table counting 29 ballots in three minutes on Tuesday. Once a batch of ballots is counted, a designated person at the table makes sure the tallies of all three counters match. The ballots then are moved over to a second station, where workers photograph them and put them through a device resembling a scanner. The purpose of this station appears to be to verify the authenticity of the ballots. It reportedly relies on dubious technology from Jovan Pulitzer, an election conspiracy-theory advocate, that purports to verify the authenticity of ballots by checking the paper folds and ink. Auditors are also reportedly looking for traces of bamboo in the ballot paper, an echo of a baseless conspiracy theory that ballots were smuggled in from Asia. Even some people helping with the audit are skeptical of Pulitzer’s technology. “This guy is nuts,” John Brakey, an election transparency advocate who was brought in to help with the audit, told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s a fraudster … It’s ridiculous that we’re doing some of this.” Outside the stadium, I noticed a small tent with about five supporters that had signs supporting the audit. It was surrounded by signs that said “expose voter fraud” and that labeled the Republican-controlled Maricopa county board of supervisors, which objected to the audit, “enemies of the nation”. I sat down in one of the lawn chairs they had set up and asked them what exactly they hoped the audit would achieve, especially since the county had already audited the ballots. “We are pretty certain that Biden did win something. He won the most out of state votes, he won the most non-registered votes, he won the most double votes and people out of state, and all of that,” said Kelly Johnson, a retired lawyer from Huntington, California, who traveled to Phoenix to support the audit. There’s no evidence of Arizona or elsewhere of widespread voter fraud or other malfeasance. I followed up by asking Johnson if he would accept Biden won Arizona and the election if the audit showed that was true. “Personally, yes,” he said.
Greene accused Rep. Ruben Gallego of seeking attention, called him a "coward," and questioned his masculinity.
Workers at the Arizona recount are looking into an absurd theory that some 40,000 Biden ballots actually contain Chinese bamboo fibers. They believe signs of the fibers would prove that the ballots actually came from Asia.
Belief in importance of democracy high in 53 sampled countries but inequality and big tech companies seen as biggest threats More democratic countries’ response to the coronavirus pandemic was rated worse than that of less democratic countries. Photograph: Getty Images The US faces an uphill task presenting itself as the chief guardian of global democracy, according to a new poll that shows the US is seen around the world as more of a threat to democracy than even Russia and China. The poll finds support for democracy remains high even though citizens in democratic countries rate their governments’ handling of the Covid crisis less well than people in less democratic countries. Inequality is seen as the biggest threat to global democracy, but in the US the power of big tech companies is also seen as a challenge. The findings come in a poll commissioned by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation among 50,000 respondents in 53 countries. The results will make stark reading for the G7 foreign ministers as they hold a final day of talks in London in which they have collectively assumed the role as bulwarks of democratic values determined to confront autocracy. The survey was carried out by the Latana polling company between February and April, so a hangover effect of Donald Trump’s “America first” foreign policy may linger in the findings. Overall the results show perceptions of the US starting to improve from last year. Whereas in the spring of 2020 people in both more democratic and less democratic countries were equally satisfied with their government’s pandemic response (70%), a year later the approval ratings have dropped down to 65% in less democratic countries, but in more democratic countries the rating has fallen to 51%. In Europe the figure is 45%. Positive ratings reach 76% in Asia. In perhaps the most startling finding, nearly half (44%) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is by contrast 38%, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28%. The findings may in part reflect views on US comparative power, but they show neither the US, nor the G7, can simply assume the mantle of defenders of democracy. Since last year, the perception of US influence as a threat to democracy around the world has increased significantly, from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14. This increase is particularly high in Germany (+20) and China (+16). The countries still overwhelmingly negative about US influence are Russia and China, followed by European democracies. The study shows an attachment to democracy globally, with 81% of people around the world saying that it is important to have democracy in their country. Only a little more than half (53%) say their country is actually democratic today – even in democracies. The single biggest cited threat to democracy is economic inequality (64%). In almost every country surveyed save Saudi Arabia and Egypt limits to free speech are seen as less of a threat to democracy than inequality. China: just the right amount of democracy, according to 71% of respondents there. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images But half the people surveyed (48%) say the power of big tech companies, as opposed to the simple existence of social media, is a threat to democracy in their country. Among democracies, the US is the most concerned about big tech (62%), but wariness is growing in many countries compared with last year, reflected in broad support for greater regulation of social media. Voters in Norway, Switzerland and Sweden are most confident their country is democratic, but so are the Chinese, where 71% agree that China has the right amount of democracy. In Russia only 33% think their country is democratic. Global support for Joe Biden’s plans to stage a Democracy Summit is high in every country save China and Russia. The findings will also make disturbing reading for the eastern European democracies such as Hungary where only 31% of voters think their country is democratic – on a par with findings in Nigeria, Iran, Poland and Venezuela. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, former Nato chief and Danish prime minister, said: “This poll shows that democracy is still alive in people’s hearts and minds. We now need to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering more democracy and freedom to people who want to see their countries become more democratic. “The positive support for an Alliance of Democracies, whether the UK’s D10 initiative or President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, shows that people want more cooperation to push back against the autocrats. Leaders should take note of these perceptions and act upon them.”
Ivanka, Don. Jr and Eric spent more than $140,000 on travel and hotels for their Secret Service protection in the first month of Joe Biden's presidency.
The case was over the three gun laws the city put on the books in 2019.
Rebecca Conway/GettyIn 2020, I was in India when it somehow managed to avoid a widely predicted public health catastrophe. At the same time, the United States was reporting a staggering COVID-19 toll, amplified by the misguided leadership of right-wing demagogue Donald Trump, who suggested people drink bleach and personally hosted super-spreader events. By December, lockdowns in India had eased completely, and the political leadership claimed it had managed the COVID-19 crisis much better than America.It was extremely disheartening to see the United States, a beacon of hope for the free world, fail as Trump disregarded CDC projections and publicly undermined chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci.In everyday conversations, Indians spoke about the U.S. as a case-study in what not to do, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed his administration had managed the crisis well, despite warnings from a COVID-19 taskforce and health-care experts about an imminent second wave. I relocated to the United States at that point, leaving India in a fairly recognizable state—bruised but not completely battered. But that second wave is hitting India now, and, as happened in America last year, a right-wing demagogue is overseeing a disastrous and deadly response.In February, Modi boasted, “In a country which is home to 18 percent of the world population, that country has saved humanity from a big disaster by containing corona effectively.” On Tuesday, India reported a staggering 357,229 fresh COVID-19 infections, and has been reporting over 300,000 cases every day for the last 13 days. To contextualize this, India has crossed the 20 million mark officially. Unofficially, the figures could be much higher, depending on testing capabilities across different states. It has reported over 222,408 deaths since the pandemic began, but the toll could be many times higher given India’s lax approach to recording deaths.Indian Prime Minister Called Out for Building New, Billion-Dollar Residence Despite Deadly COVID Shortages“This was unexpected,” said Trump last March. “And it hit the world. And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” More than half a million Americans have died since he promised to “open things up” by Easter of 2020, promising “packed churches all over our country.”During India’s first wave, when the country went into a sudden lockdown leaving millions of migrant workers stranded, some of whom died en route to their villages, I reported on the pandemic for an international wire service, sometimes weeping while taking notes about people and their harrowing experiences.Things hit closer to home as I became desperate to keep my family safe. My father is a police officer in Mumbai, and has tirelessly worked through the pandemic mobilizing help, one of the millions of frontline health-care workers struggling to hold the system together.Since I came to the United States in February, the second wave has hit India with brutal force, and the nation often hailed as the world’s pharmacy thanks to its vaccine manufacturing capacity has seen its health-care system collapse in real time through government apathy and mismanagement. While citizens were running out of oxygen and live-tweeting their own deaths, the government led by a right-wing demagogue was busy campaigning for state-level elections, often boasting about the massive public turnout.Amid desperate messages and rows of burning funeral pyres, Indians living around the world were hit with survivor’s guilt, déjà vu, and a feeling of utter helplessness. While Western countries turned a corner on the pandemic through vaccinations, India’s second wave has raged like an uncontrolled fire. 1313476512 At a crematorium in New Delhi, India, a man wearing PPE performs the last rites for a relative who died of COVID-19, April 20 2021. Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images “Can someone arrange for oxygen cylinders or remidesivir?” was the heartbreaking request across social media as family after family struggled to save their loved ones from the COVID-19 carnage. In three weeks, over two dozen families I know lost loved ones, including a 64-year-old distant relative of mine who failed to get medical support and is now a mere statistic. From migrant workers in Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, to frontline health-care workers and the elderly, the damage has been immense.Yet through much of April, Modi’s government continued organizing campaign rallies for state-level elections in the eastern state of West Bengal, allowing the world’s largest religious gathering, Kumbh Mela, to take place. It was busy fighting narrative wars over the COVID-19 crisis and exporting vaccines globally in a botched diplomatic attempt while its domestic vaccination drive was hammered by lack of planning as the Modi government doubled down on centralizing its response, leaving multiple states in a quagmire on sourcing, managing and expediting health care, oxygen or vaccine shots. Those seeking help on social media were even charged with punitive measures by Indian state Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Ajay Mohan Bisht, also known as Yogi Adityanath.Modi and his ministers had ample of time to prepare for the second wave by expanding hospital capacity, investing in oxygen production facilities, vaccine production, and rollout. There was capacity. There was money. But there was little initiative. Sumit Kumar, 28, sits on an oxygen cylinder as he waits outside a factory to get it refilled in New Delhi, India, April 28 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo As India chokes on the smoke from its burning dead, I worry about the country I will find when I return. Will there be any remnant of normalcy to sustain? Families broken, children orphaned through avoidable deaths, and a mounting anger against a ruling class that was busy playing politics and spending money on glitzy projects such as the reconstruction of the Parliament building.I feel safe and privileged. I had the chance to enroll under the Massachusetts state vaccination program. Receiving my first Pfizer shot, I can see that the U.S. is nearly out of the woods. But with this safety come harrowing guilt and desperation. Reading news, speaking to family and friends, I am overcome with anger, tears, and bouts of depression. My classmates from south Asia are all struggling with sick family members, sometimes taking on the role of social media volunteers to streamline help to those in need. We are all tired. In Mumbai, India, a woman stands in front of a COVID-19 vaccination centre that was closed because of a shortage of vaccines, May 3 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas The pandemic is a clobbering pain that refuses to yield or wash over. There is no respite. The fear of viruses has upended lives, stealing our loved ones violently and leaving in their wake piles of ash and soot. We bid adieu to those we knew in memories or through social media posts. We are even bidding farewell to strangers who died gasping for breath.Indian voters in the southern and eastern states of Kerala and West Bengal have recently punished Modi’s party with electoral losses. But these are state elections, and history suggests that Indian voters have very short memories.A cocktail of zealous nationalism, anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan rhetoric is often a plausible mix used by political parties in India to woo voters and consolidate power and hegemony. Will voters remember the bruising pain of COVID-19 apathy and reject the far right when voting in 2024?I wouldn’t bet on it.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.