Archive | June 29th, 2015

The Fifteen Most Outrageous Responses by Police After Killing Unarmed People

NOVANEWS

by BILL QUIGLEY

Police kill a lot of unarmed people. So far in 2015, as many as 100 unarmed people have been killed by police. Here are fifteen of the most outrageous reasons given by police to justify killing unarmed people in the last twelve months.

First, a bit of background. So far in 2015, there have been around 400 fatal police shootings already; one in six of those killings, 16 percent, were of unarmed people, 49 had no weapon at all and 13 had toys, according to the Washington Post. Of the police killings this year less than 1 percent have resulted in the officer being charged with a crime.The Guardian did a study which included killings by Tasers and found 102 people killed by police so far in 2015 were unarmed and that unarmed Black people are twice as likely to be killed by police as whites.

One. He was Dancing in the Street and Walking with a Purpose. On June 9, 2015 an unarmed man, Ryan Bollinger, was shot by police in Des Moines after “walking with a purpose” towards the police car after he exited his vehicle after a low speed chase started when he was observed dancing in the street and behaving erratically. The deceased was shot by the police through the rolled up cruiser window. The murder is under investigation.

Two. Thought It Was My Taser. An unarmed man, Eric Harris, ran from the police in Tulsa Oklahoma on April 2, 2015. After he was shot in the back by a Taser by one officer and was on the ground, another 73 year old volunteer reserve officer shot and killed him, all captured by video. While dying he was yelling that he was losing his breath, to which one of the officers responded “F*ck your breath.”   The police said the officer thought he was shooting his Taser and “inadvertently discharged his service weapon.” The officer has been charged withsecond degree manslaughter. Running away from the police so often provokes police overreaction that the aggressive police response has several names including the “foot tax” and the “running tax.”

Three. Naked Man Refused to Stop. A naked unarmed mentally ill Air Force Afghanistan veteran, Anthony Hill, was shot and killed March 9, 2015 by DeKalb County Georgia police after police said he refused an order to stop. The killing is under investigation.

Four. Not Going to Say. On March 6, 2015 Aurora Colorado policeshot and killed unarmed Naeschylus Vinzant while taking him into custody. For the last three months, while the investigation into the killing continues, the police have refused to say what compelled the officer to shoot Vinzant.

Five. Five Police Felt Threatened by One Unarmed Homeless Man. March 1, 2015 Los Angeles police shot and killed an unarmed homeless man Charly Leundeu Keunang after five officers went to his tent and struggled with him. One unarmed homeless man threatened five armed LAPD officers? Los Angeles police have killed about one person a week since 2000. An investigation is ongoing.

Six. My Taser Didn’t Work. On February 23, 2015, an unarmed man, Daniel Elrod, was shot twice in the back and once in the shoulder and killed by Omaha Nebraska police after he tried to climb a tree and jump a fence to escape police who suspected him of robbery. Police said their Taser did not work, he ignored their demands to get down on the ground, he did not show his hands, and they felt threatened. Video was not made available and the officer later resigned. This was the second person this officer killed. No criminal charges were filed.

Seven. Armed with a Broom. Lavall Hall’s mother called the police in Miami Gardens February 15, 2015 and asked for help for her son who was mentally ill. Lavall Hall, five foot four inches tall, walked outsidewith a broom and was later shot and killed by police who said he failed to comply with instructions and engaged them with an object. The killing is still under investigation.

Eight. Throwing Rocks. On February 10, 2015 an unarmed man, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, was fired at 17 times and killed by police in Kennewick, Washington. A video of his killing has been viewed more than 2 million times.   Officers said he had been throwing rocks at cars, ran away and then turned around.

Nine. Taser Worked but He Didn’t Stop Moving. On February 2, 2015, a Hummelstown Pennsylvania police officer shot unarmed David Kassick in the back with a Taser and when Kassick went to the ground on his stomach, then shot him twice with her gun in the back, killing him. The officer said Kassick, who was running away from a traffic stop, was told to show his hands and not move but continued to try to remove the Taser prongs from his back and the officer thought he was reaching for a gun. The officer has been charged with homicide.

Ten. Car going 11 Miles an Hour was going to Kill Me. Denver policefired 8 times at unarmed Jessica Hernandez, 17, who was killed January 16 after being hit by four bullets. The police said she drove too close to them when she was trying to get away and may have tried to run them down as she tried to drive away so they shot into the windshield and driver’s windows. The police said the car may have reached 11 miles per hour in the 16 feet it traveled before hitting a fence.   The police were not charged.

Eleven. Armed with a Spoon. Dennis Grigsby, an unarmed mentally ill man holding a soup spoon, was shot in the chest and killed in a neighbor’s garage by Texarkana Police December 15, 2015. The killing is under investigation.

Twelve. Armed with Prescription Bottle. Rumain Brisbon, a 34 year old unarmed man, was shot twice and killed by police in Phoenix on December 2, 2014, after he ran away, was caught and was in a struggle with the officer who mistook a prescription pill bottle in Brisbon’s pocket for a gun. The police officer was not charged.

Thirteen. It Was an Accident. On November 20, 2014, a New York City police officer fired into a stairwell and killed unarmed Akai Gurley.   The officer, who was charged with manslaughter, is expected to say he accidently fired his gun.

Fourteen. Don’t Mention It. On November 12, 2014, an unarmed handcuffed inmate was shot multiple times in the head, neck, chest and arms by officers while fighting with another handcuffed inmate in the High Desert State Prison in Carson City Nevada. His family was not told and did not know he had been shot until three days laterwhen they claimed his body at a mortuary.

Fifteen. Armed with Toy Gun. John Crawford was unarmed in a Walmart store in Beavercreek Ohio on August 4, 2014, when he picked up an unloaded BB gun. When officers arrived they say they ordered him to put down the gun and started shooting, hitting him at least twice and killing Mr. Crawford. In a widely viewed video Mr. Crawford can be seeing dropping the BB gun, running away and being shot while unarmed. Likewise, Cleveland police shot and killed an unarmed 12 year old boy, Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy pellet gun on November 22, 2014. Police said they shouted verbal commands from inside their vehicle in the two seconds before they shot him twice. In both these cases, the police story of shouting warnings and orders looks quite iffy at best.

These are the responses of police authorities who face less than one chance in a hundred of being charged when they kill people, even unarmed people.   These outrages demand massive change in the way lethal force is used, reported, justified and prosecuted.

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The Election Blues Again

NOVANEW

by ANDREW LEVINE

We construct personal timelines in many ways. Lately, I find myself situating events according to where they fall within the lifetimes of dogs I have owned.

Perhaps this is why the 2016 Presidential election already seems more than usually disheartening. We are staring in the face of another election between a Clinton and a Bush. Been there, done that — three dog generations ago.

Marx famously remarked that “history repeats itself; first as tragedy, then as farce.” He was referring to “great world historic facts and personages.”

No one could accuse the Clintons or the Bushes of being great world historic personages. And, for that matter, the first Clinton v. Bush matchup wasn’t any more of a tragedy than presidential elections normally are. Indeed, the consensus, at least on the liberal side, is that the better man, the lesser evil, won.

I am not so sure.

I am positive, though, that should history repeat itself in 2016, as it very likely will, it will be as a farce.

I am positive too that if she is the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton will win. And she will be the nominee; only a miracle can stop her now.

Because hardly anyone really wants her to become President, the scenario about to be played out is farcical through and through: the plot line is improbable, the characters are exaggerated and grotesque, the entire affair borders on slapstick.

It would be hilarious, if it weren’t pathetic.

How did it come to this? Blame lesser evilism. Its appeal, when elections loom, can be, and often is, irresistible. Its downside, though, is that it makes Clinton v. Bush choices, or rather their functional equivalents, ubiquitous.

This time around, the lesser evilists will have an especially strong case; stronger by far than a quarter century ago when Bill and George I went at it– not because Hillary now is any less evil than her husband was then, not by any means; but because between Jeb and his father there is no comparison.

The first George Bush was a mediocrity; for American Presidents, this is par for the course. Jeb, the latest Bush in line is, a mediocrity too. But, like his brother, George II, another mediocrity, this one is also a calamity waiting to happen.

George père and mother Barbara set out to raise a litter of muckety-mucks to take over the family business they inherited from Senator Prescott Bush, George I’s poppy. They succeeded with two of their brood. But they also bred each and every admirable leadership quality out of the family line.

The Clintons lack admirable leadership qualities too, but the comparison stops there: without family connections, they had to claw their way up to muckety-muck status. Boundless opportunism and brazen slickness got them where they are.

They have been there far too long. Even though, on average, human beings live seven times longer than our best friends, 1992, the year Bill slammed George I, was forever ago for us too.

Jaded voters, staring in the face of middle age today, were barely post-pubescent in 1992; the digital age was in its infancy, and the worldwide web was still only a gleam in Al Gore’s eye.

Back then, there was a peace dividend that hadn’t yet been squandered entirely, and a climate that had not yet been heated up to ruinous levels. Constitutionally protected rights and liberties still seemed secure.

And yet, on the Clinton side, there isn’t even a (human) generational difference between then and now.

It was by being Bill’s First Lady, his official wife, that Hillary got the experience, credibility, gravitas and, above all, the corporate and political connections she needed to be parachuted into New York state fifteen years ago, to become its lackluster Senator; and then, after losing to Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries, to become perhaps the most inept Secretary of State in modern times.

This would include even her husband’s picks for the job: the hapless Warren G. Christopher and Madeleine (Mad Maddy) Albright, the principal architect and proud defender of sanctions responsible for the early deaths of some half million Iraqis.

At least the House of Bush had the decency, as long ago as the year 2000, to pass the baton on to a new generation.

That was the year that Jeb’s older brother was first elected President, not in reality but according to the dispositive ruling of five Republican Supreme Court Justices.

Fifteen years is a long time too. Infants fifteen years ago are adolescents today; dogs that were puppies then are now most likely dead.   Only two of mine ever lived that long.

Mainstream pundits, commenting on the scene, decry America’s lapse into “dynastic politics.” But they haven’t quite got that right.

There is no Clinton dynasty; there is just a husband and wife who stay together because it is useful to both of them that that they do.

It is only on the Bush side that there is dynastic politics to complain about. And how can even sycophantic commentators not complain about a dynasty that is as interesting and appealing as Wonder Bread! Compared, say, to the Kennedys, they are a joke. They even make the Windsors look good.

But credit where credit is due: in only three (human) generations, the Bushes have managed to turn themselves into one of the most noxious political families in the history of the United States.

Of course, it is still possible that some or all of the likely Clinton v. Bush matchup won’t materialize; the farce this time is not a done deal – yet.

It isn’t likely but Jeb could still do himself in or be done in by Republicans even more retrograde than he. The chances that the Clinton juggernaut will founder are a lot worse.

In 2008, after it had become clear that she would lose the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, Hillary was asked why she was keeping on.

To the dismay of Secret Service agents, intent on keeping the first serious African American contender for the presidency out of the crosshairs of any of America’s armed-to-the-teeth Dylann Roofs, she said, in so many words, that while there is death, there is hope.

Indeed. There is serious illness too.

Even a quarter century ago, Hillary was no spring chicken. She isn’t a septuagenarian yet, but she soon will be; and, as Bette Davis is reported to have said, “old age is no place for sissies.”

There is therefore a non-trivial chance that lightening will strike. But it isn’t much of a chance; and as long as Hillary stays alive and spry, the Second Coming of the Clintons is at hand.

In a word, we are doomed.

In Greek antiquity, tragedians sometimes resorted to a plot technique that Aristotle called deus ex machina. When all seemed hopeless, an actor representing a god would be lowered onto the stage by a machine-like contrivance. The god would then go on to set matters aright.

Over the past several months, in several entries on this site, I argued, in effect, that were Virginia’s former Senator Jim Webb to launch a serious campaign, he could play a similar role. Webb has been testing the waters seemingly forever.

There is no reason to think that his views on domestic politics are more “progressive” (less retrogressive) than Hillary and Bill Clinton’s, and he is plainly not a principled anti-imperialist. But, from the perspective of a professional soldier, Webb’s take on American foreign and military policy is as good as it gets.

This is the important thing. At this stage in capitalism’s history, the constraints capitalists, especially finance capitalists, impose upon the political class are so demanding that only far-reaching systemic changes, propelled on by people power, can change domestic politics for the better.

In other (no longer fashionable) words: “the only solution, revolution.”

Hillary surely heard that slogan, back in the day, after she stopped being a Goldwater Girl. Her future husband would have heard it too, as he struggled to “remain viable within the system” while picking up all the girls he could. In the late sixties and early seventies, radical politics was the best aphrodisiac.

Were Webb actually to become President, it would hardly matter what his views on domestic politics are; the constraints are too constraining. But what he thinks about foreign and military affairs would matter. In those areas, Presidents can still shape the course of events.

Also, as a white Southerner with ties to organized labor and to many of the white and black rural constituencies that suffer the most from neoliberal predations, Webb could shake up the Democratic Party enough to shift the focus of its concerns back to where they were before the Clintons helped make prissy niceness the be-all and end-all of liberal politics.

Maybe, just maybe, this would be enough not only to ward off the next installment of Hillary and Bill, but also to set American politics on a more salutary course.

I am not holding my breath, however. Webb seems unable to find a billionaire willing to pay the freight. Without one, a candidate these days has almost no way of gaining traction.

And even were he to launch a serious campaign, his chances of defeating Hillary, of beating back one of corporate America’s most biddable flunkies, would be slim at best. Odds are, though, that we won’t get a chance to find out.

And so, as the electoral season approaches, there is even less to look forward to than there usually is.

There have been off-year elections in which there is nobody running, even far down the ballot, whom I want to vote for or against — their names are only names to me.

When this happens and when there are no ballot measures I care about, as is normally the case where I now live, I do what most of my compatriots do; I don’t vote.

More often, though, even when there is no one whom I can bring myself to vote for, there are candidates whom I am eager to vote against.

Thus, over the years, I have often written in the names of one or another of those dogs whose births and deaths shape my personal timeline.

This is infantile, of course; but the obligations of democratic citizenship are compelling, even in the absence of substantive democracy.

And voting for animals can be as good a way as any to cast a vote in protest. Readers of a certain age, Hillary’s and Bill’s, will remember Pigasus, the Yippie candidate for President in 1968.

However, there should be no need next year to write in the names of dogs.

I expect that when Election Day comes, I will cast my protest vote for the Green Party’s candidate, Jill Stein. This is what I did in 2012, and I look forward to doing it again.

I also expect that, in 2016, as in 2012, the vast majority of my compatriots, were they somehow to hear about her campaign, would first say to themselves something like: “Jill who?”

The Greens have ballot access in most states, and, if voters knew about it, many, maybe most of them, would think, as I do, that their proposals for a Green New Deal are just what the doctor ordered.

But the sad truth is that third parties and independent candidacies get nowhere in American elections. With media ignoring them, the Greens have been all but invisible seemingly forever. There is no reason to think that this will soon change.

They along with other third parties may sometimes get a few people thinking, but they seldom affect the tenor of Democratic or Republican campaigns even in trivial ways. At the national level especially, they are good for protest voting, but not much else.

Intra-party caucuses and primaries are a different story. This is why, next spring, when the circus comes to my town, I expect that I will cast my vote for Bernie Sanders.

Bernie is a mainstream Democrat on foreign affairs. On domestic issues, though, he is nearly as good as Stein.   Also, I am delighted that he calls himself a “socialist.”

“Calls himself” is the operative phrase. If “socialism” means what people thought it did for roughly two hundred years — if it means that a society’s principal means of production are socially, not privately, owned — then Sanders is no socialist. He is only what pollsters call “very liberal.” He is, in spirit, a European-style social democrat with views adapted to American conditions.

He therefore does uphold socialist values, equality especially; and the policies he advocates reflect his commitments. But were he to get his way, capitalist property relations would remain essentially unchanged.

Still, I’m glad he uses the word. The time for “socialism” to to come back into public awareness was years ago. Bringing not just the word but also the concept back would be better still. However, in today’s world, just getting the word in circulation is a plus.

It gives hope that other changes will follow: for instance, that, before long, “red” will again mean what it meant before corporate media took up the word only to defame it. The idea that a “red state” is a state that votes Republican may accord with the CNN worldview, but it offends historical memory.

Because he has something to say that speaks to peoples’ interests and needs, Bernie has fervent supporters, quite a few of them.   Hillary’s supporters are, for the most part, merely resigned.

Nevertheless, my vote for Sanders will be a protest vote too. For all the obvious and often stated reasons, his chances of becoming the Democratic nominee are not much better than Stein’s chances of garnering the 270 electoral votes she would need to become President.

The difference is that his presence in the campaign, and in as many debates as the Democratic Party leadership will allow, will force Hillary to put on a “populist” face. It will force her to fake left.

This is already happening.

It isn’t likely, but she may keep it up even after the Democrats have picked her to be their nominee. It depends on what seems expedient at the time.

Remember, though, that mainstream politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are chronic liars; and that the Clintons lie more than most. They do what they have to do to get what they want.

When, in 2009, Congressman Joe Wilson, “the gentleman from South Carolina,” twice called out “you lie,” as Barack Obama addressed both houses of Congress on health care reform, he unwittingly articulated what future historians may come to see as the defining truth of the Obama presidency.

But compared to the Clintons – on this, as on nearly everything else, there is no light between them – Obama is as truthful as the fabled George Washington of cherry tree fame, and as honest as Honest Abe.

I say this in full awareness of the enormity of Obama’s whoppers. His lies about “free trade” – about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for example, and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — are only the latest in a very long list.

But liar that he be, the Clintons are worse.

The wise will therefore pay no attention to what Hillary says; no attention at all.

The Sanders candidacy will force her to assume a less noxious persona than the one we have come to know over the years. But any connection between what she says when running for office, and what she will do once that office is hers, is, as they say, purely coincidental.

Martin O’Malley has also positioned himself to Hillary’s left. There is so much room there; where else could he go?

As Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland, O’Malley was a garden variety Democrat, distinguished mainly by his penchant for Michael Bloomberg-style policing.

Now that Baltimore exploded and Black Lives Matter has struck a chord, his credibility with liberal Democrats is bound to be a tougher sell than it would have been a few months ago.

Nevertheless, he is hard at work morphing into a milquetoast version of Bernie Sanders, a Sanders Lite. He will probably pull it off.

It is a good career move.   If lightening does strike, O’Malley could take Hillary’s place. What is more likely is that the two of them will end up on the same ticket, with O’Malley taking up the slot occupied, three dog generations ago, by Al Gore.

I don’t expect that I would vote for him even were he leading the ticket, not in preference to any of my dogs. There are standards to maintain, after all. But I do wish him well – because, on the off chance that God does take a notion, better him, better anybody, than Joe Biden, the next Democrat in line.

Biden is so off his rocker that a Biden presidency would probably be even worse than an unmitigated Clinton Restoration.

But were he somehow to become the nominee, he too would win in November. The chances that a Republican will win are nil.

If the GOP’s party elders succeed in securing the nomination for Jeb Bush, or anyone else they deem fit, their ever-dwindling base won’t turn out in sufficient numbers to elect him (it would surely be a “him”).

On the other hand, if the Republicans nominate someone who can get Tea Partiers’ juices flowing, it will scare the so-called moderates” and “undecideds” away.

Ergo, the Democrat will win.

Media moguls nevertheless have a stake in making the 2016 election seem like a horse race. It isn’t just that they want to deflect political energies away from serious politics.

As class warriors on the wrong side of history, they surely do want to do that. But, as capitalists, what they mainly want is money from political ads.

This is why, when push comes to shove, they will do their best to lock in Jeb’s front-runner status. He is, after all, the most plausible (least implausible) GOP contender, the one most likely to make the election “interesting.”

Expect them therefore to depict Jeb Bush as the least whacky of the front-line crew – the anti-Trump, as it were. No matter, that his politics and performance belie this representation.

Country Club Republicans will jump on board; they and the Bushes are torn from the same cloth. But what about the Republican base?

So far, the indications are that they won’t buy it. Since evidence means nothing to them, it hardly matters that Jeb’s “conservative” credentials are beyond reproach. Neither does it matter that, unlike Mitt Romney, he has no “liberal” gubernatorial record to live down.

What matters is that, like Romney, Jeb is a grandee, from a family of grandees.

The Republican base was recruited to serve those grandees, to assure the election of candidates that will make them even richer and more secure.

Nevertheless, Jeb’s patrician associations are enough to get self-respecting Tea Party Republicans’ hackles up; the cultural contradictions run that deep.

They are right to take exception, even if their reasons are unsound. Where Jeb is concerned, everybody’s hackles should be up.

Jeb’s brother was the worst President ever: he broke the Middle East with consequences that are still unfolding; he did more than his share to wreck the economy for all but a fraction of the one-percent; he trashed international law; and he put Americans’ basic rights and liberties – privacy rights, especially — in jeopardy.

Yes, guilt by association is wrong, and Jeb is not his brother’s keeper.   But there are limits.

And even those who are able to rise above those limits should worry that, by all accounts, Jeb’s instincts are even more reactionary than George II’s.

He is supposedly smarter than his brother, for whatever difference that makes. But this is most likely wishful thinking, suggested by the fact that, like everybody else in his family except brother George, he neither acts nor sounds like a bumpkin. If, beneath the surface, he really is smarter, there is no sign of it.

So there it is: Clinton v. Bush. Here we go again.

* * *

Observers could see this coming — months, even years, ago. Only now, though, is the extent of the impending catastrophe beginning to register. It is human nature, after all, to discount the future.

But with the primary season “only” six months away, there is no longer any denying how appalling the prospect is.

Some of the consequences are already apparent; they too were predictable, but they are no less unnerving on that account.

It is 2012 all over again. The Republican goon show is back on; the Democrats’ cheerleaders are already playing it up for all it’s worth.

Republican buffoons are easy prey, but making fun of them on cable TV is getting old.    MSNBC might at least vary the format. Maybe they subtly are. Perhaps this is why Rachel Maddow seems to have slowed the pace of her increasingly tedious commentaries.

If so, it isn’t helping. When she takes a half hour to make a point that she could have made in a minute or two, accompanied with all the visual aids her staff can muster, my impulse is to yell at her through the TV screen – “Rachel, get to the point!”  I can’t be the only one who feels this way.

The truly appalling thing, though, is the way that Democrats who prefer Sanders or O’Malley or anybody but Hillary are already circling their wagons around the Clintons.

When Republicans are awful, as they almost always are, they can’t help it; it is their nature. Democrats who rally around the Clintons have no excuse.

Hillary has opponents – two of them so far, or three if you count Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican.   But they don’t exactly oppose her.   Their function, even they concede, is to make her a better candidate.

This line is, by now, so pervasive that, for example, Amy Davidson, writing in The New Yorker, recently called on Joe Biden to run on the grounds that this too would somehow be good for Hillary. Biden? Seriously? Gimme a break!

In 2008, Hillary’s prospects were done in, in part, by what observers called an “enthusiasm gap.”   There is no more enthusiasm for her now than there was eight years ago. But this time, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Hence, the farcical aspect – the principals, obviously insincere, enthuse too much, making themselves ridiculous in the process.

Ridiculous too in their determination, inasmuch as it is no mean feat to concoct the farce they are acting out.

It isn’t easy because it isn’t easy to enthuse over Hillary. Even feminists of a certain age – again, that would be Hillary’s and Bill’s – need prodding.

Grudging resignation is sure to pull her through in any event. But the prospect of another enthusiasm gap is evidently still troubling to lesser evilists who would leave no stone unturned.

How else to explain Katha Pollitt’s special pleading in the June 22-29 edition of The Nation magazine?

Pollitt can only soft-peddle, not outright deny, the plain fact that, even in comparison to the dismal standards Obama has set, Hillary’s politics suck.

Nevertheless, she argues that everybody, women especially, should enthuse over Hillary. Why? Because she is a true feminist.

Seriously? On issues like family leave and pay equality that bear materially on women’s wellbeing, count on Sanders and even O’Malley to have more far-reaching proposals.

But it isn’t really about feminism, as Pollitt surely knows. It’s about identity. It is hardly necessary to read between the lines to see that Pollitt’s real reason for wanting people to enthuse over Hillary is Hillary’s lady parts.

Ever since Ralph Nader ran for President fifteen years ago, Pollitt has been throwing cold water on third party and independent efforts to attack the rot that the Democratic Party has become.

Fair enough: electoral politics outside the duopoly party system may well be a waste of effort and resources at this point in time. This is certainly a subject for debate.

In the past, though, the debate was between supporting Nader or Stein or whoever versus going along reluctantly with the Democratic candidate — or, in 2008, not so reluctantly because Obama had not yet, as speakers of Clintonese might say, “ended hope as we know it.”

But now she would cast reluctance aside – essentially for the reason feminists did in 1994, when Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice President.

In that prelapsarian (pre-Clintonian) year, candidate Walter Mondale’s needed a Hail Mary pass to deny Ronald Reagan a second term. The one he settled on was named Geraldine.

Reagan would surely still have trounced Mondale even had Ferraro not done her own candidacy in. Nevertheless, the episode left a bitter taste.

Ever since that election, though, breaking through the “glass ceiling” that Hillary now talks so much about has been Topic A for a few feminist activists and writers.

One would have thought, after Sarah Palin, that the issue would fade. Palin too was brought in for a Hail Mary pass; and, like Ferraro, she too did her running mate’s cause no good.

Pollitt et. al. held the line on Palin; that was a no brainer. Hillary, on the other hand, somehow gets past the threshold.

Does it really matter, though, that she is a woman?

In all its years, the United States has had only one Catholic President, John Kennedy. But no one any longer thinks that being Catholic is a relevant consideration in Presidential elections.

Indeed, hardly anyone still thinks that being Jewish matters. For all the many reasons there were to vote against Joe Lieberman fifteen years ago when he was Al Gore’s running mate, his very public identification with Judaism never came up.

And can anyone plausibly claim that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism was the reason he lost to Obama in 2012?

Is there, then, a taboo still on women, but not on Catholics, Jews or Mormons?

Maybe. And Pollitt certainly does her readers a service in calling attention to the problem.

The American case really is anomalous — though, in fairness, it should be noted that glass ceilings of the type that she and others decry are hardly unique to the United States.

What is striking, though, is that, even in countries where virulently patriarchal attitudes are the norm, women have sometimes made it all the way to the top.

When this has happened, the women were usually wives or daughters of influential male politicians.

Hillary too fits that mold. With her election, the United States will be on course to becoming like, say, Pakistan.

Even so, other things being equal, it would be a good thing were that glass ceiling breached; it would be good in itself.

The consequences might be good too, though it is hard to see, in general, why this would be the case. The evidence, drawn from instances from all over he world, is not promising.

Surely, the mere fact that a woman is President would not improve the status of women generally.

The election of an African American President did hardly anything for the vast majority of African Americans in the United States; if anything, it made them more the objects of governmental neglect than they might otherwise have been. Of course, the cases differ, but the parallel is worth pondering.

Would electing a woman make American domestic or foreign policy less noxious? A decade or two ago, when “the ethics of care” was all the rage, there were people who thought so. It would be fair to say that they were fooling themselves.

Would it be good for little girls and young women to have a President for a role model? No doubt, it would be sometimes, though it plainly matters who the role model is.

In 2008, thoughtful people actually argued for Obama and against Clinton on the grounds that providing a role model for black boys was more urgent than providing one for girls.

By now, it would be hard to make that argument with a straight face.

It is, or ought to be, nearly as hard to keep on with identity-driven role model arguments altogether. To the extent that they have merit, other considerations almost always have more.

Pollitt is wrong. The case for or against Hillary Clinton is not, and should not be, about her gender or any other identity attribute.

The only plausible case there is is the very problematic one that Pollitt has pressed repeatedly over the years: that when god awful Democrats run against god awful Republicans, people should vote for the Democrat because, as surely as night follows day, the Republican is worse.

It’s just not about identity. With apologies to James Carville, a key advisor to Bill three dog generations ago and to Hillary in 2008: it’s her politics, stupid.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Election Blues Again

Beyond the Real Time Catastrophe of Capital

NOVANEWS

 

by PAUL STREET

In a recent column on Pope Francis’ latest encyclicalLaudato Si, the conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says that “After this document, there’s no doubting where Francis stands in the great argument of our time….But,” Douthat elaborates, “I don’t mean the argument between liberalism and conservatism. I mean the argument between dynamists and catastrophists.” Here’s how Douthat understands that “great argument”:

“Dynamists are people who see 21st-century modernity as a basically successful civilization advancing toward a future that’s better than the past. They do not deny that problems exist, but they believe we can innovate our way through them while staying on an ever-richer, ever-more-liberated course….Dynamists of the left tend to put their faith in technocratic government; dynamists of the right, in the genius of free markets. But both assume that modernity is a success story whose best days are ahead.”

“Catastrophists, on the other hand, see a global civilization that for all its achievements is becoming more atomized and balkanized, more morally bankrupt, more environmentally despoiled. What’s more, they believe that things cannot go on as they are: That the trajectory we’re on will end in crisis, disaster, dégringolade…that current arrangements are foredoomed, and that only a true revolution can save us.”

Douthat puts Pope Francis in the “catastrophist” camp because of the pontiff’s call for humanity to take climate change seriously by undertaking global action and “radical change” to move off fossil fuels and selfish profiteering and consumerism. Thanks to anthropogenic global warming, the Pope writes, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth.”

Douthat mildly applauds Pope Francis for increasing the likelihood that Catholics and non-Catholics will “think anew” about climate change. Still, Douthat rejects the Pope’s “catastrophism” and related radicalism. “It’s possible,” Douthat argues, “to believe that climate change is happening while doubting that it makes ‘the present world system … certainly unsustainable,’ as the pope suggests. Perhaps we’ll face a series of chronic but manageable problems instead; perhaps ‘radical change’ can, in fact, be persistently postponed.”

“Successful Modernity”: The Present is Stranger Than Dystopia

It’s not an impressive argument. Who thinks anymore that the U.S-of American “argument” between “liberalism [translate: the Democrats] and conservatism [translate: the Republicans]” (both of which are aligned with corporate plutocracy, global U.S. Empire, and eco-cide against democracy, social justice and the common good) marks “the great argument of our time? (Try democracy and the common good versus the unelected and interrelated dictatorships money and empire or, more simply, the people versus the ruling classes.) What is a leftist who believes in governmental technocracy? A contradiction in terms, not to be taken seriously – no more seriously than “the genius of free markets.” No such markets or genius remotely exist. Contemporary capitalism, likes its antecedents, relies heavily and thoroughly on state protection and subsidy. Its “market logic” (cover for corporate and financial rule) is the amoral enemy of democracy, justice, and livable ecology.

Who in their right moral and intellectual mind could possibly believe that “21st-century modernity” (the world capitalist system) is “a basically successful civilization” moving on “an ever-richer, ever-more-liberated course….a success story whose best days are ahead”? Why should anyone take Douthat’s unnamed “dynamists” seriously? Humanity today isn’t merely moving towards a potential catastrophe. It’s in the middle of multiple and interrelated catastrophes right now: mass poverty and hunger; mass involuntary migration; shocking inequality (the Guardian reported last year “that the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single double-decker” bus); massive structural unemployment; permanent war and endemic militarism; nuclear re-escalation;ubiquitous corporate and financial totalitarianism, (both hard and soft); abject corruption and plutocracy; mass incarceration; rampant governmental police statism; ubiquitous propaganda in ever more potent mass media; a corporate-crafted mass culture of stupidity, selfishness and cruelty; rampant disease and poor health more generally; a compromised food supply and the degradation of food; the ever-escalating crisis of livable ecology, led by anthropogenic global warming (AGW), which poses the very real near term risk of human (self-) extinction. “Successful modernity” indeed!

You don’t have to turn to the dystopian warnings of 20th century writer and filmmakers like Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451 and other writings), George Orwell (1984), Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Kurt Vonnegut (Player Piano), Robert Brunner (The Sheep Look Up), John Carpenter (They Live, Escape From New York), Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green), Norman Jewison (Rollerball), Phillip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and other novels), and Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) to glimmer a world gone mad and suicidally eco-cidal under the rule of elites. You can pay close attention to current events and developments.

Truth, the old saying goes, is stranger than fiction. And the present, I might add, is stranger than dystopia. We don’t have to imagine and warn of authoritarian and ecological nightmares at some point in the far-away future. The nightmares are happening in real time.

paulstreet

The catastrophic future, brought to us by the financial-corporate and military state, is now. The Pope’s “Doomsday predictions” are coming true right now. And, no, this planet-cooking present is not remotely sustainable. The judgement of Earth science on that is clear as day: only prompt and radical change leading to a radical reduction in carbon emissions can save prospects for a decent future. Anyone who thinks that such a future is possible if “things go on as they are,” without radical change, is in deep denial and/or lost in a dream world.

Calling such judgements and observations “catastrophist” is an interesting choice. I’ve always found that choice gendered in a patriarchal sort of way, as in the outwardly composed man who tells a distraught and “emotional” woman to “calm down” and “stop being so hysterical.” So consider a clinical analogy. If you went with terrible symptoms to a team of expert doctors and received a carefully considered diagnosis of potentially terminal cancer, would you denounce those medical professionals as “catastrophists” and ignore their prognosis – or would you accept the diagnosis and undertake a serious, likely radical, plan of treatment and change to prolong and enhance your life?

The real questions for those who wish to save the prospects for a decent human future isn’t whether Douthat’s “dynamists” or Douthat’s “catastrophists” are correct about the state and trajectory of the species. Instead, they are: what is/are the cause/s of current cancerous catastrophes? What must we do about it/them before it is too late?

Capitalism is the Disaster

Regarding climate change, the problem isn’t “modernity” (whatever that term really means at the end of the day) or “industrial civilization” as such. It is a particular form of “modernity” known as capitalism, which stands in an inherently antithetical relationship to livable ecology. The taproot is the growth-, accumulation- and exploitation-addicted world capitalist system, with its anarchic and atomized dispersion of economic decision-making, inherently antithetical to public planning for the common good. As the Canadian Marxist Sam Gindin explained last winter:

“It is not just that…capitalism is inseparable from the compulsion to indiscriminate growth, but that capitalism’s commodification of labor power and nature drives an individualized consumerism inimical to collective values (consumption is the compensation for what we lose in being commodified and is the incentive to work) and insensitive to the environment (nature is an input, and the full costs of how it is exploited by any corporation are for someone else to worry about)….[furthermore…] A social system based on private ownership of production can’t support the kind of planning that could avert environmental catastrophe. The owners of capital are fragmented and compelled by competition to look after their own interests first, and any serious planning would have to override property rights — an action that would be aggressively resisted.”

There’s a lot more that could be said about how and why the soulless and chaotic bourgeois mode of socioeconomic management (furthered and not tempered by the modern corporation) is wired to destroy life on Earth, but that will do for a useful summary at present. Louis Proyect is correct when he argues that “capitalism and capitalist politics have to be superseded if humanity and nature are to survive. Once we can eliminate the profit motive, the door is open to rational use of natural resources for the first time in human history. How we make use of such resources will naturally be informed by our understanding that reason governs the outcome and not quarterly earnings. The alternative,” Proyect reminds us, “to this is a descent into savagery, if not extinction.” To update Rosa Luxembourg for the age ofthe ecological rift,” it’s eco-socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky.

The Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein deserves credit for identifying the profit system as the main culprit behind global warming in her latest book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.  “The really inconvenient truth,” Klein notes, “is that [AGW] is not about carbon – it’s about capitalism…. [and] the war [that system] is waging on earth.” But what does Klein mean, exactly, when she says “capitalism?”  Listen to the following passage from This Changes Everything:

“What is really preventing us from putting out the fire that is threatening to burn down our collective house? I think the answer is far simpler than many have led us to believe: we have not done the things necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis.  We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and would benefit the vast majority – are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets”

The final sentence in this passage is consistent with Klein’s radical statement about “the really inconvenient truth” – that the problem is capitalism.  Not so the second sentence, which attaches the moderating description “deregulated” to the overall system supposedly in the docket. The problem recurs across This Changes Everything, which repeatedly attaches such qualifiers (“free market,” “neoliberal,” “market fundamentalist” and the like) to the profit system It leaves space for Ross Douthat’s foolish hope (formulated in a critique of the Pope, not Fidel Castro) “that perhaps ‘radical change’ can, in fact, be persistently postponed.”

This is not a new difficulty in Klein’s writing.  Her previous book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) was directed primarily at neoliberalism – at (Milton) “Friedmanite capitalism” and at so-called disaster capitalism, not at capitalism itself. It exhibited no small nostalgia for the Keyensian “regulated” and “welfare” capitalism that reigned across much of the rich world in the post-World War II “Golden Age” – a rapidly growing capitalism that (among its many terrible consequences) pushed the world into environmental crisis by the last quarter of the last century.

Capitalism itself is the disaster and the catastrophe. Understanding and transcending capitalism in a systemic fashion is going to be essential for moving beyond d the real time dystopian catastrophes of the present. For the profit system lays at the base of all the “Doomsday” developments mentioned above (environmental ruin, mass poverty, stark inequality, plutocracy, mass incarceration, the police state, racial hyper-disparity, corporate media, etc.) and not just AGW, the biggest issue of our or any time.. All these and other evils of so-called modernity are – to use the language of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the middle and late 1960s – intimately “interwoven” and “interrelated.” They suggest that King was right near the end of his life when he wrote that “real issue to be faced” beyond superficial matters (like, say, the color or gender or sexual orientation of a corporate-captive political candidate) was the radical reconstruction of society itself.” And that King was correct when he said that “the United States will have to adopt a modified form of socialism.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Beyond the Real Time Catastrophe of Capital

Latin American Revolutions Under Attack

NOVANEWS

by ANDRE VLTCHEK

Do not take the Latin American revolutions for granted.

They inspired the entire Planet. They brought hope to every corner of our scarred Earth. But now they are themselves in need of our support.

If left alone, they would thrive for decades and centuries. But the Empire is once again on the offensive. It is shaking with fury. It is ready to invade, to smash, burn to ashes all the hopes, all that which had been achieved.

Don’t believe in the “common wisdom” which proclaims that the rulers of the world simply “closed their eyes” more than a decade ago; that George W. Bush was “too busy” ravishing the Middle East, therefore “allowing” most of the Latin American countries to “sneak away” from the iron grip of the Empire.

Such “analyses” are as patronizing as they are false. The Empire never sleeps! What Latin America now has was built on its daring, its sweat, its genius and its blood – it fought against the Empire, courageously, for decades, losing its best sons and daughters. It fought for freedom, for justice and socialism.

The Empire was not “looking the other way”. It was looking straight south, in fury, but for some time it was too confused, too astounded, too shocked at what it was witnessing. Its “slaves” had risen and taken power back into their own hands. They showed to the entire world what freedom really is.

For some time, the Empire was paralyzed by rage and unable to act.

The Empire’s undeniable property, Latin America, inhabited by “un-people” born only in order to supply cheap labor and raw materials to the rich part of the world, was suddenly, proudly and publicly, breaking its shackles, declaring itself free, demanding respect. Its natural resources were now used to feed its own people, to build social housing, create public transportation systems, construct hospitals, schools and public parks.

But after the first wave of panic, the Empire began to do what it does the best – it began the killings.

It attempted to overthrow Venezuelan government in 2002, but it failed. The Venezuelan people rose, and so did the Venezuelan military, defending then President Hugo Chavez. The Empire tried again and again, and it is trying until now. Trying and failing!

“We are at war”, I was told by one of the editors of Caracas-based television network, TeleSUR, for which I made several documentary films. “We are literally working under the barrel of cannon”.

***

Ms. Tamara Pearson, an Australian revolutionary journalist and activist, who recently moved from Venezuela to Ecuador, explained the difficult situation in Venezuela, a country that is under constant attack from both the US, and the local comprador elites:

“People are suffering a lot. Basic food prices are high, much medicine is unavailable, and various services aren’t working. On one level, people are used to this – the business owners would cause shortages and blame the government before each of the many elections. But usually it’s less intense and lasts just a few months. But this has been going on and getting worse, since Chavez died – over two years now. There is no doubt that the US, and more so, Venezuelan and Colombian elites and business owners are a huge or even the main factor…”

All of revolutionary Latin America is “screaming”.

As I described in two of my recent books, “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”, the Empire is using similar destabilization strategy against all countries that are resisting its deadly embrace.

Its propaganda is mighty and omnipresent. CNN and FOX TV are beamed into almost all major hotels and airports of Latin America, even in some revolutionary countries like Ecuador. Almost all major newspapers of the continent, including those in Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, are controlled by the right wing business elites. Almost all of the foreign news coverage comes from European and North American sources, making the Latin American public totally confused about Islam, China, Russia, South Africa, Iran, even about their own neighbors.

The local elites continue to serve foreign interests, their loyalties firmly with North America and Europe.

Every left wing Latin American government has been facing bizarre protests and subversion actions conducted by the elites. Destabilization tactics have been clearly designed in far away capitals. They were mass-produced and therefore almost identical to those the West has been using against China, Russia, South Africa, and other “rebellious” nations.

Propaganda, disinformation and spreading of confusion have been some of the mightiest tools of the fascist right wing.

“Economic uncertainty” is an extremely powerful weapon. It was used first in Chile, in the 1973 coup against socialist President Salvador Allende. Pro-Western Chilean elites and businessmen created food shortages, and then blamed it on the socialist government, using El Mercurio and other daily newspapers as their propaganda tools.

Peter Koenig, former World Bank economist and now prominent dissident and critic of the world neoliberal regime, wrote for this essay:

“Today Madame Bachelet, the socialist President of Chile has a hard time fighting against the Mercurio inspired Chilean oligarchs. They will not let go. Recently they invited the World Bank to assess the school reform package proposed by Bachelet, basically to return universities to the public sector. Of course, the ‘upper class’ of Chileans knew that the World Bank would come up with nothing less than predicting an economic disaster if the reform is approved. As a result, Bachelet made concessions – which on the other hand are not accepted by professors and teachers. It’s the first step towards chaos – and chaos is what the empire attempts to implant in every country where they strive for ‘regime change’.”

But one of the “dirtiest” of their weapons is the accusation of corruption. Corrupt pro-Western politicians and individuals who misused tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars of the peoples money and destroyed the economies of their countries by taking unserviceable loans that kept disappearing into their deep pockets, are now pointing their soiled fingers at relatively clean governments, in countries like Chile and Argentina. Everything in “Southern Cone” and in Brazil is now under scrutiny.

Peter Koenig (who co-authored a book “The World Order and Revolution!: Essays from the Resistance” with leading Canadian international lawyer Christopher Black and me) shows how important is, for the Empire, destabilization of Brazil, one of the key members of BRICS:

“Brazil being a member of the BRICS is particularly in the crosshairs of the empire – as the BRICS have to be destabilized, divided – they are becoming an economic threat to Washington. Brazil is key for the non-Asian part of the BRICS. A fall of Brazil would be a major blow to the cohesion of the BRICS.”

There are totally different standards for pro-Western fascist politicians and for those from the Left. The Left can get away with nothing, while the Right has been getting away literally with mass murder and with the disappearance of tens of billions of dollars.

It is, of course, the common strategy in all the client states of the West. For instance, one of the most corrupt countries on earth, Indonesia, tolerates absolute sleaze and graft from former generals, but when progressive socialist Muslim leader, Abdurrahman Wahid, became the President, he was smeared and removed in a short time, on “corruption” charges.

After centuries of the Monroe Doctrine, after mass murder committed in “Latin” America first by Europeans and then by North Americans and their rich local butlers, it will take long decades to fully eradicate the corruption, because corruption comes with the moral collapse of the colonial powers and the local elites. Financial greed is only its byproduct.

The great pre-colonial cultures of what are now Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia did not have corruption. Corruption was injected by Western colonialism.

And now, corruption under left wing, revolutionary governments still exists, since it is difficult to root out all the rats at once, but it is incomparably smaller than under the previous fascist right wing cliques!

***

The rich in Latin America are heartless, servile (to the Empire) and greedy in the extreme. Latin America has still the most unequal distribution of wealth on earth. True, it is much richer (and even its poor are richer, with some exceptions of Central America, Peru or Paraguay) than Africa or even in Southeast Asia, but this cannot be used as an excuse.

Even the most progressive socialist governments now in power would ever dare to touch, to slap the private enterprises too hard. From this angle, China with its central planning and controlled economy is much more socialist than Ecuador or Bolivia.

A few days ago, as I was flying from Ecuador to Peru, I read that the number of multimillionaires in Latin America was actually increasing, and so is the social gap between the rich and the rest of the societies. The article was using some anecdotal evidence, saying that, for instance, in Chile alone, now, more Porsche sports cars are sold than in entirety of Latin America few years ago. As if confirming it, I noticed a Porsche auto dealership next to my hotel in Asuncion, the capital of the second poorest country in South America. I asked for numbers, but Porsche manager refused to supply them, still proudly claiming that his company was “doing very well”.

So what do they – the elites” – really want? They have money, plenty of money. They have luxury cars, estates in their own countries, and condominiums abroad. What more?

As in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia or Kenya, and all over the West, they want power. They want to feel unique. They want to be admired.

The Socialist governments allow them to stay rich. But they force them to share their wealth and above all, they shame them. They are also trying to minimize the gap – through education, free medical care and countless social projects.

That is, of course, unacceptable to the elites. They want it all, as they always had it. And to have it all, they are ready to murder, to side with the darkest foreign interests, even to commit treason.

***

Increasingly, the interests of the local elites are very closely linked to foreign interests – those of the Empire and those of the private sector.

As I was told in Ecuador, by Ms. Paola Pabón, Assembly Member representing Pichincha area:

“Behind the involvement of the US, are some ex-bankers such as Isaiah brothers, who lost power here, escaped courts and went to live in the United States, but there are also huge economic powers such as Chevron. It means that there are not only political interests of the US, but also private, economic ones.”

Predominantly, the local elites are using their countries as milking cows, with very little or zero interest in the well being of their people.

That is why their protests against Latin American revolutions are thoroughly hypocritical. They are not fighting for improvements in their countries, but for their own, selfish personal interests. Those shouts and the pathetic hunger strikes of the “opposition” in Venezuela may appear patriotic, but only thanks to propaganda abilities to the Western mass media.

The elites would do anything to make all revolutions, all over Latin America, fail and collapse. They are even spending their own money to make it happen.

They know that if they manage to remove progressive forces from power, they could rule once again, totally unopposed, as their counterparts do in all other client states of the West – in the Middle East, Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania.

The temptation is tremendous. Most of the elites in Latin America still remember well, how it feels, how it tastes – to control their countries unopposed, and with full support from the West.

***

Eduardo Galeano, the great Uruguayan writer and revolutionary thinker, once told me: “I keep repeating to all those new leaders of Latin America: “Comrades, do not play with poor people’s hopes! Hope is all they have.”

It appears that hope has finally been takes seriously, in Bolivia, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Nicaragua and elsewhere.

It was also taken seriously in Honduras, but hope was crushed by the US-orchestrated coup. In Paraguay, under a semi-progressive priest who preached liberation theology, hope was taken semi-seriously, but even that was too much in the country that had been ruled, for decades, by fascist cliques. In 2002, a constitutional coup followed by an appalling massacre of predominantly indigenous people, and fascism returned.

After these two setbacks, Latin America shook, but kept moving forward. Hugo Chavez died, or was murdered by the North, depending which theory you subscribe to. His demise was a tremendous blow to the entire continent, but still, the continent kept moving. “Here, nobody surrenders!” Chavez shouted, dying, but proud.

“President Correa of Ecuador is one of very few leaders of the “original project””, said Paola Pabón. “Lula in Brazil will not be able to stand for reelection, anymore, mainly due to corruption scandals. Mujica is not in power, anymore, and Cristina Fernandez will be retiring. Evo Morales does not have regional influence, and even Maduro does not have… For this reason, Ecuador is so important, strategically. If ‘they’ hit us, if there is a successful coup, it would be tremendous victory for them, to destroy a President with regional importance; who speaks for the region… and also, because Ecuador is one country where the government actually functions well.”

Walter Bustos, who used to work for this government, is alarmed by developments in Ecuador and the entirety of Latin America. Both he and Paula Pabón realize how fragile the Latin American revolutions are. While driving with me to an indigenous area of Riobamba, Walter lamented:

“In case there is a military coup in Ecuador, the difference between here and Venezuela would be enormous: while in Venezuela, Chavez incorporated the military into his revolution, in case of citizens revolution in Ecuador, we have no security; we cannot count on support of the military in case there is some armed, political or economic attack against us.”

Hugo Chavez was not only a great revolutionary, but also a tremendous strategist. He knew that any great revolution has to be fought, won, and then defended. Winning the battle is never enough. One has to consolidate forces, and uphold the victory. Chavez was first thinker, and then soldier.

Correa, Morales, Fernandez go forward, brave, proud but unprotected. Under their governments, the lives of ordinary people improve tremendously. That is what matters to them. They are decent and honest beings, unwilling to dirty themselves with intrigues, speculations and conspiracy theories.

But their great success will not gain them any recognition from the Empire, or from their own elites. The success of socialism is the worst nightmare for rulers of the world and their local butlers.

This is how President Salvador Allende died in 1973. He dismissed all rumors, and then all warnings that the coup was coming. “I am not going to arrest people just because of some suspicion that they may do something”, he used to say. After the coup took place, he died proudly, a true hero, committing suicide by marching towards the helicopter gunships and fighter jets that were bombarding the Presidential Palace of La Moneda. But he was not the only victim. As a result of the coup, thousands of Chilean people died, and tens of thousands were savagely tortured and raped. Chile did not die, but went to horrific coma, from which it only recently manages to recover.

Henry Kissinger summarized the moral corruption/collapse of his country’s regime when he uttered his memorable phrase:

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

Despite his great intentions, President Salvador Allende failed his people. He underestimated the bestiality of the Empire, and the result were millions of broken lives.

Since then, the Empire’s selfishness and brutality only evolved. The more successful leaders like Correa become, the more real is the danger of a coup – of a devastating, deadly attack from the North, and subversion from within.

The fragility of Latin American revolutions is obvious. The elites cannot be trusted. They showed on many occasions how far they are willing to go, committing treason, collaborating with the West against their own nations: in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela, Paraguay and Bolivia, to name just a few cases.

Appeasing both the elites and the Empire, while fighting for social justice and true independence, is impossible. The elites want to have full control of their countries, while the Empire demands full submission. No compromise could be reached. The history speaks clearly about that. And the Empire demonstrated on countless occasions that Latin American democracy would be respected only if the people vote the way that suits Washington.

Latin America has to learn how to defend itself, for the sake of its people.

Its closer and closer cooperation with China and Russia is essential. Coherent regional defense agreement should follow.

The next few years will be crucial. The revolutions have to be institutionalized; they cannot depend only on charisma of its leaders.

Constant sabotages and coup attempts, like those in Venezuela, should not be tolerated. They lead to chaos and to uncertainty. They break countries economically and socially.

It is clear what the Empire and its serves are doing: they are trying to push Latin American revolutionary countries against the wall, as they pushed, in the past, North Korea. They are trying to make them “react”, so they could say: “You see, this is true socialism, this defensive, hermitic and paranoid system.”

The path will not be easy. It will be dangerous and long.

Latin America can only survive through international cooperation and solidarity. It would also have to fight legally, at home and abroad. Those who are committing treason and those who are interrupting development of the country should face justice.

The left wing governments that are ruling South American countries won democratic elections: much more democratic than those in Europe and the United States. If the individuals and groups act against the expressed will of their own people, they should be taken to courts.

If a powerful country tortures other countries and shows total spite for their people, it should face an international legal system. The United States demonstrated, countless times, that it considers itself well above the law. It even forced several government in Latin America and elsewhere, to give its military personnel immunity. One of these countries is Paraguay, historically flooded with CIA, DEA and FBI agents.

In order to legally restrain the Empire, huge international pressure would have to be built. Like in the case of Managua, which legally sued the US for many acts of terror committed against Nicaragua. The Empire will most likely refuse to accept any guilty verdict. But the pressure has to be on!

All this would be meaningless without dedicated, constant coverage of the events by independent or opposition media, be they huge new state-funded networks like RT, TeleSur, CCTV or Press TV, of progressive independent media like Counterpunch, VNN, or ICH. It is essential that Latin Americans demand information from these sources, instead of consuming the toxic lies spread through CNN en Español, FOX, EFE and other right wing Western sources.

The battle for the Latin American people and for their freedom is on. Do not get fooled, it has been on for quite some time, and it is very tough fight.

Latin America is one of the fronts of the integrated fight for the survival of our Planet.

People who admire this part of the world, all those who have been inspired by Latin American revolutions, should participate in the struggle.

The best sons and daughters of this continent are now fighting in their own, quixotic way, as they always did: frontally, with exposed heart, totally unprotected. But their fight is just, and they are in this battle in order to defend the people.

Their opponents are rich, deceitful and brutal. But they are also selfish and they fight only for their own interests. They are not loved by their nations. If they lose, Latin America will win!

Those countries defending themselves against the Empire should unite, before it’s too late. Now as Latin America is rising from its knees, it becomes clear who are its foes and who are real friends, real brothers and sisters!

This scarred but stunning continent of courageous poets, of dreamers and revolutionaries should not be allowed to fall. In Caracas, Quito and La Paz, they are fighting for entire humanity.

public free medical posts all over Ecuador

all that gold stolen by Christians to decorate their churches

Bolivar and Chavez

I am with the revolution!

in 2012, murder of indigenous farmers in Paraguay

In Riobamba, Ecuador, great political art accusing

In the National Theatre in Quito, the greatest indigenous celebration free for all

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Latin American Revolutions Under Attack

Islamophobia and State Violence

NOVANEWSPosted

by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

by SANIA SUFI

The past month has been a troubling one for Muslims. The armed bigoted protests outside an Arizona mosque, the questionable police shooting of a young Black Muslim man, and continuing legislation grounded in religious and racial profiling all enhance a sense of social disenfranchisement for Muslims in America.

During the night of the anti-Muslim protests in Arizona, Twitter was afloat with conversation using the hashtag #NotMyAmerica. Both Muslim and non-Muslim advocates used the hashtag to distance the actions of the biker protestors from their version of an inclusive ‘multicultural’ America. The ideas behind #NotMyAmerica represent the country’s legacy as an all-inclusive, peaceful, socially progressive society in opposition to the hateful, ignorant, and xenophobic actions of the bikers. While the symbol of solidarity is well-intentioned, the thought processes associated with #NotMyAmerica problematizes the debate further. Such a perfunctory argument ignores the long history of state violence and repression in America which undoubtedly fuels Islamophobia in today’s post-9/11 age. Islamophobia cannot be reduced to the dysfunctionalism of a few hundred individuals but rather must be critiqued alongside the American legacy of settler-colonialism, genocide, and institutionalized racism. While many scholars have already detailed the history behind American expansionism and the many groups it has victimized, a critique of Islamophobia within the broader context of state violence and repression is lacking.

Historicizing Islamophobia

Any discussion on state violence in the United States must begin with the pillaging, slavery, and colonization of the indigenous community. The first European settlers not only massacred indigenous people in large numbers, but they also worked towards institutionalizing such practices. It was not enough to simply brutally murder indigenous tribes and claim their land, early American democracy was in need of an ideological framework which would justify structural violence. America’s ‘founding fathers’ thus claimed their right to occupied land based on the racial and intellectual superiority of Europeans, an argument rooted in power politics and control. Through their expansionist voyeurs, the colonists depoliticized the indigenous people through a series of laws and wars. The sexual violence of Native women, for example, illustrates one way in which European colonization was institutionalized. Systematic sexual violence is a tool of genocide, which the colonists utilized to project their control over Native women and land. Gender based state violence is not just a trademark of our past, but rather a continuation as many black women are also perpetually criminalized for their assault today. Violence towards Native women, and Native communities in general, is thus indicative of a state discourse founded upon the structural erasure of non-European bodies. Without its raison d’être, the expansionist American entity ceases to exist.

Although the histories of the Native Americans and Islamophobia cannot be homogenized, it is important to draw parallels regarding the common denominator of state violence present in each narrative. A gruesome CIA report released last year revealed the widespread torture of Muslims languishing in overseas detention centers such as Guantanamo and Bagram. The report, graphic to say the least, is shocking on a number of levels, but mostly because of the government’s consent of such acts. State propaganda will continue to dismiss such reckless behavior. Those with a historical conscious in the indigenous narratives outlined above; however, will realize that the torture report and other violent activities represent a continuum of state warfare aimed to admonish any groups challenging its patronage.

Policy and Media

Legislation in the 1970s marginalizing Black communities continued the legacy of American state violence and racism. The FBI’s then secret COINTELPRO, or counter intelligence program, authorized state agencies to spy on and intimidate Black activists and suppress political activities. COINTELPRO was not only instrumental in influencing anti-Black public opinion, but also in legitimizing the repression of Black political activities. Such policies representing unchecked authority and blanket surveillance are, again, symptomatic of state patronage. While legislation grounded in anti-Blackness still exists, the added layer of Islamophobia – couched in present-day language of ‘national security’ – further strengthens structural violence. Renewed vigor for the Countering Violent Extremismprogram, for instance, exemplifies the extent of anti-Muslim sentiment in present legislation. While advocates tout CVE as a community led effort, the program’s method of assigning collective guilt to a group based on their religion falsifies such a claim. That CVE solely monitors the Muslim community legitimizes government profiling of racial and religious minorities. The state’s ability to implement discriminatory legislation then poses the natural question:what else is the government capable of with unchecked power? CVE – and other counter-terrorism initiatives such as the Patriot Act and NYPD intelligence activities – contribute to an increasingly Islamophobic society built upon centuries of structural violence. If we are to look in hindsight, CVE is a tattered script modeled off of COINTELPRO and other discriminatory legislation. Through its invocation of a radically divisive binary, CVE further isolates Muslim communities from an inclusive American context and thus possibly increases long-term security concerns. The continuum of such policies, whether COINTELPRO or CVE, should enlist attention towards the wider concern of politicized state violence.

The mainstream media’s negative caricature of Muslims also echoes the institutionalization of anti-Muslim fervor. Fear Inc., a report compiled by the Center for American Progress, revealed that seven think tanks channelled $42 million dollars to public figures, media organizations, and politicians who perpetuate Islamophobia. The report not only highlights the increasingly growing bigotry in media , but also paints a broader, complex picture about the influential role of NGOs in political decision-making. The power and influence that NGOs, often referred to as the missionaries of state power, hold over legislation once more alludes to Islamophobia as organized violence. Discrimination inherent in the intricate matrices of policy, law enforcement, and the corporatized media all point to Islamophobia as nothing short of a disabling of Muslim political agency.

War on Terror

There is, indeed, a direct line connecting American Empire and Islamophobia. To the American eye; however, the second-class status of the non-American Muslim often blurs that line. The lack of ‘ethics’, progress’, and ‘education’ perceived in the traditions of the Muslims of Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq allows them to be conquered by American exceptionalism. Such chauvinistic nationalism adds a double layer of discrimination and further complicates the discourse on Islamophobia. In 2003, RAND Corporation published a reporttitled Civil Democratic Islam with recommendations on how to ‘re-structure’ the intellectual and religious attitudes of the Muslim world along secular and liberal lines, or in accordance with American geopolitical interests. This, and other attempts by Western regimes to politically intervene in the Muslim world, reveals a hierarchy in which the Islamic ethos is to be politically isolated. Through its invocation of the superiority of secularity and liberalism, Western state discourse is able admonish Muslim political institutions for their failure to assimilate to the politics of secular modernity. The intellectual framework of Empire, therefore, allows for a hierarchical and orientalist discourse through which the colonization of Muslim minds and institutions is made legitimate. In light of such political manipulation, some questions to be asked are: How is the state able to meticulously dismantle and weaken Muslim institutions and identities abroad? And how does post-9/11 US foreign policy affect racialized minorities on the domestic front, including Muslims?

What made Malcolm X’s analysis of state violence and racism in the US remarkable was his recognition of its application outside US borders. In his approach to internationalize the Black struggle for liberation, Malcolm unearthed a deeper understanding of state racism and its challenges. Contrary to other civil rights leaders, Malcolm believed that racism and other forms of discrimination in America were inextricably linked to the suffering of those in the Global South and vice versa. Torture techniques employed in the War on Terror, for example, were also used by law-enforcement agencies in US urban centers such as Chicago. The city’s police is infamous for itswidespread torture of individuals, mostly black males, a tactic also employed in Guantanamo by the same law-enforcement officers. US entanglement in a belligerent and hubristic foreign policy, then, is perhaps rooted in state terror much closer to home. The torture of Black and Muslim bodies shows the complexity and interconnectedness of state violence and the War on Terror. Both forms of systemic inequality serve the interests of Empire; which should compel conscientious minds to interrogate the multiplicitous face of state violence.

The US is able to stifle the political agency of Muslims not simply because of a history of settler-colonialism, genocide, and racism, but because of its institutions rooted in them. Empire’s lifeline relies on the structural inferiority of the non-White “other”. Whether the “other” represents a black or brown face makes no difference, because the intellectual architecture behind institutionalized injustice injustice remains the same. This does not mean the unique histories of genocide, slavery, and racism should be compartmentalized together; indeed, each has its own socio-political factors. However, each layer of discrimination builds upon the common root of state violence. Thus, to boast of an America as the bastion of multiculturalism is to be in a state of historical amnesia. Such disillusioned nostalgia serves as a reminder of how deeply state propaganda influences the American milieu. State policing is a common practice rooted in ideology. To call it into question is to critique state power. And that, is where the core of discourse on Islamophobia lies.

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Food Security: a Hostage to Wall Street

NOVANEWS

by COLIN TODHUNTER

In October of last year, World Food Day celebrated ‘Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth’. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s website, the family farming theme was chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. The aim was to focus world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, especially in rural areas.

Family farming should indeed be celebrated because it really does feed the world. This claim is supported by a 2014 report by GRAIN, which revealed that small farms produce most of the world’s food.

Around 56% of Russia ‘s agricultural output comes from family farms which occupy less than 9% of arable land. These farms produce 90% of the country’s potatoes, 83% of its vegetables, 55% of its of milk, 39% of its meat and 22% of its cereals (Russian Federation Federal State Statistics Services figures for 2011).

In Brazil, 84% of farms are small and control 24% of the land, yet they produce: 87% of cassava, 69% of beans, 67% of goat milk, 59% of pork, 58% of cow milk, 50% of chickens, 46% of maize, 38% of coffee, 33.8% of rice and 30% of cattle.

In Cuba, with 27% of the land, small farmers produce: 98% of fruits, 95% of beans, 80% of maize, 75% of pork, 65% of vegetables, 55% of cow milk, 55% of cattle and 35% of rice (Braulio Machin et al, ANAP-Via Campesina, “Revolucion agroecologica, resumen ejectivo”).

In Ukraine, small farmers operate 16% of agricultural land, but provide 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk (State Statistics Service of Ukraine. “Main agricultural characteristics of households in rural areas in 2011″).

Similar impressive figures are available for Chile, Hungary, Belarus, Romania, Kenya, El Salvador and many other countries.

The evidence shows that small peasant/family farms are the bedrock of global food production. The bad news is that they are being squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland and such land is under threat. The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful speculators and corporations.

The report by GRAIN also revealed that small farmers are often much more productive than large corporate farms, despite the latter’s access to various expensive technologies. For example, if all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. In Russia, it would be six fold.

Yet in many places, small farmers are being criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion from their land by foreign corporations, some of which are fronted by fraudulent individuals who specialise in corrupt deals and practices to rake in enormous profits to the detriment of small farmers and food production.

Imagine what small farmers could achieve if they had access to more land and could work in a supportive policy environment, rather than under the siege conditions they too often face. For example, the vast majority of farms in Zimbabwe belong to smallholders and their average farm size has increased as a result of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Small farmers in the country now produce over 90% of diverse agricultural food crops, while they only provided 60 to 70% of the national food before land redistribution.

Throughout much of the world, however, agricultural land is being taken over by large corporations. GRAIN concludes that, in the last 50 years, 140 million hectares – well more than all the farmland in China – have been taken over for soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane alone.

By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Big agritech corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritise commodities or export crops for profit and markets far away that cater for the needs of the affluent. This process impoverishes local communities and brings about food insecurity. The concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day and is undermining global food security.

The issue of land ownership was also picked up on by another report last year. A report by the Oakland Institute stated that the first years of the 21st century will be remembered for a global land rush of nearly unprecedented scale. An estimated 500 million acres, an area eight times the size of Britain, was reported bought or leased across the developing world between 2000 and 2011, often at the expense of local food security and land rights.

A new generation of institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity, pension funds and university endowments, is eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns, not food security, are what matter. In the US, for instance, with rising interest from investors and surging land prices, giant pension funds are committing billions to buy agricultural land.

The Oakland Institute argues that the US could experience an unprecedented crisis of retiring farmers over the next 20 years, leading to ample opportunities for these actors to expand their holdings as an estimated 400 million acres changes generational hands.

The corporate consolidation of agriculture is happening as much in Iowa and California as it is in the Philippines,Mozambique and not least in Ukraine.

Imperialism and the control of agriculture

Ukraine’s small farms are delivering impressive outputs, despite being squeezed onto just 16% of arable land. But the US-backed toppling of that country’s government may change all that. Indeed, part of the reason behind destabilizing Ukraine and installing a puppet regime was for US agritech concerns like Monsanto to gain access to its agriculture sector, which is what we are now witnessing.

Current ‘aid’ packages, contingent on the plundering of the economy under the guise of ‘austerity reforms’, will have a devastating impact on Ukrainians’ standard of living and increase poverty in the country.

Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan include agricultural deregulation that is intended to benefit agribusiness corporations. Natural resource and land policy shifts are intended to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land. The EU Association Agreement includes a clause requiring both parties to cooperate to extend the use of biotechnology. Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director of the Oakland Institute states:

“Their (World Bank and IMF) intent is blatant: to open up foreign markets to Western corporations… The high stakes around control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an oft-overlooked critical factor. In recent years, foreign corporations have acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land.”

Chemical-industrial agriculture and the original ‘green revolution’ has proved extremely lucrative for the oil and chemical industry and has served to maintain and promote US hegemony, not least via the uprooting of indigenous farming practices in favour of cash crop/export-oriented policies, dam building to cater for what became a highly water intensive industry, loans, indebtedness, dependency on the dollar and the corporate control of seeds, etc.

Whether through ‘free trade’ agreements, commodity market price manipulations, loan packages, the co-optation of political leaders or the hijack of strategic policy-making bodies, corporate profits are being secured and food sovereignty surrendered to the US, which has always used agriculture as a tool with which to control countries.

(The GMO issue has to be regarded within such a geopolitical framework too: it has less to do with ‘feeding the world’ and more about controlling it (see this and this)

While celebrating of the role of the family farm in feeding the world, rich speculators and powerful US agritech corporations continue to colonise agriculture and undermine the existence of small farms and global food security.

Choosing to ignore the research, however, much mainstream thinking rests on the fallacious assumption that uprooting small farms and displacing rural populations is a good thing. This assumption stems from an ethnocentric mindset that legitimises the plunder we are witnessing across the globe.

Environmentalist Vandana Shiva sums it up as follows:

“People are perceived as ‘poor’ if they eat food they have grown rather than commercially distributed junk foods sold by global agri-business. They are seen as poor if they live in self-built housing made from ecologically well-adapted materials like bamboo and mud rather than in cinder block or cement houses. They are seen as poor if they wear garments manufactured from handmade natural fibres rather than synthetics.”

This is an ideology that fuels the myth that the ‘poor’ are poor due to their own fault and must be lifted up by the West and its corporations and billionaire ‘philanthropists’. It is the ideology that attempts to legitimise imperialism and economic colonialism, which causes economic devastation and ecological destruction in the first place. From Africa to India and beyond, the disease is being offered as the cure.

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Third Terrorist Attack Against Shia Minority

NOVANEWS

Raises Spectre Of Unrest In Wealthy Gulf Countries

Here’s a look at the attacks on Shiite mosques that the group, which calls itself Najd Province — a reference to the historic region of the central Arabian Peninsula where the Saudi capital Riyadh is located — claims was its work.
By 

 a man in a blood-soaked dishdasha following of a deadly blast at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City

This image provided by Kuwaitna news shows a man in a blood-soaked dishdasha following of a deadly blast at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City, Friday, June 26, 2015. A posting on a Twitter account known to belong to the Islamic State group claimed that the explosion was work of a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt.

An Islamic State affiliate that calls itself Najd Province said it was behind a deadly bombing at a Shiite mosque on Friday in Kuwait City, the third in a string of attacks that the previously unknown group has claimed responsibility for in wealthy Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Here’s a look at the attacks on Shiite mosques that the group, which calls itself Najd Province — a reference to the historic region of the central Arabian Peninsula where the Saudi capital Riyadh is located — claims was its work:

___

May 22

A suicide bomber unleashed a blast in a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia as worshippers commemorated the birth of a revered saint, killing 21 people and wounding dozens more. The attack happened in the village of al-Qudeeh in the eastern Qatif region, the heartland of Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority. It was the deadliest militant assault in the kingdom in more than a decade.

The Islamic State group views Shiites as apostates deserving of death and also seeks the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy, which it considers corrupt and illegitimate. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has repeatedly called for attacks on the Saudi kingdom.

Following the attack, the Islamic State warned of more “black days” for Shiites in Saudi Arabia, a member of the U.S.-led coalition targeting the group.

___

May 29

A suicide bomber disguised as a woman blew himself up in the parking lot of the only Shiite mosque in the Saudi port city of Dammam, killing four people. Dammam is in the kingdom’s oil-rich east, where the Shiite community has long complained of discrimination. The death toll at the Imam Hussein mosque could have been higher had authorities and worshippers not been on alert for attacks. One witness said the bomber was chased from the entrance away by young men who had set up checkpoints.

___

June 26

An explosion at the Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait City left at least 16 dead and dozens wounded. Following the attack in al-Sawabir, a residential and shopping district, a posting on a Twitter account known to belong to the Islamic State group said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt. IS said on Twitter that the bomber had targeted a “temple of the apostates.”

All of the attacks took place on a Friday, when mosques are generally full of worshippers. The attacks bolster concerns that Islamic State militants are establishing a toehold outside of the group’s stronghold in Iraq and Syria.

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How Lobbies, Intelligence Services and Advertisers Dictate Mainstream Media Content

NOVANEWS
Global Research
newspaper_chains

Recently, several journalists who worked in the mainstream media (MSM) exposed its corrupt nature, weighing in on the growing mistrust it inspires. We hope the following will inspire you to support independent media like Global Research!

Former chief political commentator of the Telegraph, Peter Oborne, resigned from the newspaper because it would not publish articles on HSBC for fear of losing advertising revenues. The bank is known for money-laundering for the Mexican drug cartels as well as its involvement in tax evasion schemes.

In an opinion piece called Why I resigned from the Telegraph he wrote:

The coverage of HSBC in Britain’s Telegraph is a fraud on its readers. If major newspapers allow corporations to influence their content for fear of losing advertising revenue, democracy itself is in peril…From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged. HSBC suspended its advertising with the Telegraph… HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend (Peter Oborne, Why I have resigned from the Telegraph, Open Democracy, February 17, 2015)

When it comes to powerful lobbies’ influence on media content, the Zionist lobby is very well known for accusing journalists and editors of anti-Semitism and imposing its own propaganda. Even so-called progressive newspapers such as The Guardian are subject to Zionist propaganda. David Cronin writes:

I submitted an exposé of how the pro-Israel lobby operates in Brussels. While waiting to find out if the piece would be used, I phoned Matt Seaton, who had taken over as comment editor. We had a pleasant conversation but Seaton stressed that he regarded the subject as sensitive.

I, then, modified the piece to make its tone less polemical. Still, it was not published…

Cronin decided to write about his experience when he realized that The Guardian was much less reluctant to offer platforms to Israeli politicians and their Zionist propaganda:

Daniel Taub, Israels ambassador to the UK … uses a quote attributed to Golda Meir, Israels prime minister from 1969 to 1974, to hit back at aid agencies who accuse Israel of impeding Gazas reconstruction: We will only have peace when our enemies love their children more than they hate ours. The inference that Palestinians hate Israelis more than they love their children is a racist caricature… In February, the paper gave Yair Lapid, until recently Israels finance minister, a platform to describe calls for a cultural boycott of Israel as shallow and lacking in coherence. (David Cronin How The Guardian Told Me to Steer Clear of Palestine, Electronic Intifada, 11 March 2015)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung‘s former editor Udo Ulfkotte recently published a book called Bought Journalists. How Politicians, Secret Services and High Finance Control the Mass Media (Gekaufte Journalisten), in which he explains how journalists manipulate the masses for powerful interests:

Saying he believes a medical condition gives him only a few years to live, and that he is filled with remorse, Dr. Udo Ulfkotte, the editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germanys largest newspapers, said in an interview that he accepted news stories written and given to him by the CIA and published them under his own name. Ulfkotte said the aim of much of the deception was to drive nations toward war. (Ralph Lopez, Editor of Major German Newspaper Says He Planted Stories for the CIA, Reader Supported News, February 04, 2015)

Another book stirred some controversy lately, Au service de la République, (Serving the Republic) Roger Auque’s memoirs published posthumously. Auque, a well-known journalist who worked for major French magazines as well as the French Canadian public network Radio-Canada, admitted: I was paid by the Israeli secret services to lead operations in Syria, using reporting as a cover. Le Figaro, one of France’s leading magazines for which he worked, writes that he also offered his services to the DGSE, (the French CIA) before becoming an object of interest for the CIA.

Contrary to Ulfkotte, who’s filled with remorse, the French reporter was not at all ashamed of this revelation.

These few examples show once again the importance of independent media and how the corporate mainstream media is nothing but a mouthpiece for powerful interests who do not want you to be informed but rather want to manufacture consent and keep you in the dark about important issues.

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The Silence of the Law: The Charleston Church Gunman

NOVANEWS
Global Research
gun flag

Arguments about guns in the United States resemble forays into intense religious debate. They are doctrinal issues (the right to bear arms; the entitlement to protection) that chatter through the various lobbies. There are purely quibbling legal issues (what regulations are appropriate in terms of controlling access to guns). There are the broader ethical issues (should people even have guns as a principle to begin with?)

Those left behind in such debates tend to be the silent corpses, littered collateral damage in a rights culture that hyperventilates with each urban massacre. Fascinatingly, none of these mass killings ever qualifies as a terrorist onslaught, even if inflicted by a person with a dog-breakfast ideology.

A theme that has recently emerged about whether Dylann Roofs conduct prior to the deeds he is charged with is that of regulation. This is the procedural part of the debate, showing a range of attitudes to the law on guns. How did Roof obtain the weapon that led to the deaths of nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, including its senior pastor?

As if picking up scraps in desperation, a stream of commentary has emerged: Roof, it transpires, had been arrested in late February at a Columbia shopping mall, and subsequently charged with possessing Suboxone. He was then indicted by a Lexington County grand jury. The case has yet to conclude.

Hence the battle of the laws, armed, metaphorically, for a clash. South Carolina law deems Roofs drug charge a misdemeanour. The designation is significant, as such misdemeanours do not disentitle one from obtaining a gun. Federal law, however, spoils the party, prohibiting the sale of a gun to anyone under indictment for a felony. It also has an additional proscription against sales to anyone deemed an unlawful user of controlled substances.

Officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, at least by their opinions, have given the green light in the case Roof obtained his gun lawfully.[1] More to the point, he was entitled.

Kevin D. Williamson of the National Review Online was positively chuckling with delight. The law had worked. Those political ghouls of the Left had swooped in after the horrific massacre wanting another gun-control fight. Instead, they hit a legal cul-de-sac, since the killer acquired his gun after passing precisely the sort of background check that the Left generally hawks after a high-profile crime, regardless of whether it is relevant to the crime.[2]

Always conspicuous is how such commentary places the law outside its cultural frame. Law is the holy word, scripted. It biblically animated, the New World remake. This is supposedly civilisation take two. Everything is done within it. Except, of course, when people get slaughtered. That is when the law suffers its terrible silence. All sides of the gun-control debate suffer before this phenomenon of silent laws.

Each massacre brings with it a discussion about sacred rights and sacred entitlements, citing inadequate laws and inadequate protections. Guns are always the delivery packages for those who believe in rights, just as they remain the target of those who also believe in their control. To that end, Roofs battles are writ large, on a broader racial and political canvass which presupposes the most extreme form of dispute resolution. This is the US at war with itself.

His supposed manifesto, should it even qualify as that, seeks to bring the revolution home, forging into the ghettoes with the apocalyptic enthusiasm of the four horse men.[3] The first website I came across was the Council of Conservative Citizens. There were pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders.

For the author, this is another form of legal silence, one which tolerates the ascendancy of other races even as whites fall into oblivion. All that fuss about the killing of Trayvon Martin was an alibi for a broader American problem. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored?

The manifesto does not swirl with brazen lunacy so much as a revenge undertaking about what the country has become. This is the old theme: America as an idea. That idea, according to Scott Timberg (Salon, Jun 24), is a kind of distorted, funhouse-mirror reflection of Tea-Party-era conservative white Americas core beliefs.[4] And to remake that idea, one needs weapons.

Gun control advocates tend to want to take away the syringes from the patient and lock up the substances in inaccessible places. The sickness of that patient is ignored. Gun ownership in other countries (Canada, Switzerland) is staggeringly high without the need for manifest urban warfare. The law, in short, is always deemed silent when perceived rights are ignored. But it is the mechanism of culture, its generation, its excuses, it lamentations, that encase the law with meaning. Weep, mourn, and expect the next massacre.

 

 

Notes

[1] http://www.nbcnews.com/ storyline/charleston-church- shooting/charleston-church- gunman-dylann-roof-bought- pistol-locally-officials- n380341

[2] http://www.nationalreview.com/ article/420211/left-activist- peak-kevin-d-williamson

[3] http://lastrhodesian.com/data/ documents/rtf88.txt

[4]http://www.salon.com/2015/ 06/23/dylann_roofs_racist_ manifesto_a_funhouse_mirror_ reflection_of_right_wing_ american_politics/

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Don’t be fooled: “media watchdogs” are I$raHell propaganda tools

NOVANEWS
Hasbara goes www

By Alastair Sloan

Consider yourself very lucky if you have never heard of “UK Media Watch” (formerly called “Comment is Free Watch” – CiF Watch), “BBC Watch”, “HonestReporting” and “Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America” (CAMERA).

Statistics collected by the Institute for Internet Nonsense suggest that these four blogs account for “90 per cent of web-based pedantry” and have been awarded “Most Boring Analysis” in the I Don’t Care This Isn’t Journalism awards, sponsored by Valium.

These blogs claim to be all about ensuring balance in the media. As such, they think, and tell their legion of pro-Israel supporters, that Western liberal editors are anti-Semitic and that criticising Israel online means that you hate Jews. They also scare-monger on their own websites that Western journalists are conspiring to paint Israel in a bad light. They impose this nonsense on the world through writing pedantic blog posts, sending mass emails to editors and celebrating every time they get one word changed in an “errant” newspaper article.

 

…all of these watchdogs are riddled with hypocrisy, deliberate falsehood, bullying and shoddy journalism.

 

Unless a journalist has a Star of David tattooed on his or her forehead and has declared undying love for Zionism, she or he can become a target. However, all of these watchdogs are riddled with hypocrisy, deliberate falsehood, bullying and shoddy journalism. In fact, they’re not about maintaining “balance” at all; they are propaganda tools, part of Israel’s incredibly well-funded hasbaraprogramme.

HonestReporting.com once boasted that it brought down CNN‘s email servers by sending six thousand emails per day to executives. In October 2004, the group coordinated around a thousand emails being sent to the British Medical Journal, which had published a critical piece about the Israeli army based on an academic study.

HonestReporting.com logo

An analysis of the emails received by the BMJ showed that about a third of them issued blanket denials, without offering any contrary evidence; 22 per cent showed direct evidence of being derived from the HonestReporting.comwebsite; and roughly half could not be published by the BMJ because they failed to meet the webmasters’ criteria for public comments left underneath academic studies (which outlaw personal attacks and racial abuse).

Adam Levick, the managing editor and mastermind of these bullying strategies, has no professional background in journalism. He has spent his career working for various pro-Israeli think tanks, including NGO Monitor, a group that criticises charities which dare to speak out about Israel’s human rights abuses.

Adam Levick

Adam Levick has no professional background in journalism

A favourite moan of Levick and his friends concerns readers’ comments beneath online Guardian articles, especially those which take an anti-Israel stance. They have a legitimate gripe as there are some genuinely nasty comments left on the Guardian‘s website, but HonestReporting [sic] always pushes for anti-Israel comments to be removed by site moderators.

Under my own published articles, I’ve been called a “well known crypto lefto fascist” (a title I’m secretly quite proud of), told that I have “blood on my hands” and that “judgement day is coming”, (a bit more ominous). And finally that I’m “retarded”. Did I ask for these comments to be removed from the website in question? No; I’m not nine years old and I can tell the difference between a lunatic with a keyboard and a lunatic with a gun.

Preachy UK Media Watch (formerly called CiF Watch) mixes factual analysis and opinion on its own website, a practice known as “editorialising” and something which professional journalists frown upon. For example, its writers often use the term “radical” or “pro-terrorist” without any explanation; they are simply euphemisms to be deployed against any group or individual who is pro-Palestinian.

UK Media Watch logo

When they talk about award-winning journalist Robert Fisk, a figure who raises their digital hackles more than most, the bloggers use inverted commas around “award-winning” as if his awards for journalism are alleged or made up. The truth is that Fisk has won awards, but because CiF Watch resents this (and it hasn’t won any), it sneaks in some snide punctuation.

CAMERA is the American parent organisation of UK Media Watch (as well as the similar BBC Watch), but it focuses on the US media, something that it has done since the 1980s. Fox News is an interesting case study regarding CAMERA’s view of media “accuracy”. Instead of having dirt thrown at them, Fox producers have been singled out for praise from the “watchdogs”.

CAMERA - Israeli propaganda tool

BBC Watch - Israeli propaganda tool

In fact, Fox is so good at producing balanced coverage, according to CAMERA, that they’ve never had to correct any of its content, something that cannot be claimed by almost every other major news outlet in America. That seems strange given that there have been at least seven academic studies looking at Fox News output and concluding that its audience is the most misinformed in America, presumably because of the fact-free reporting rather than them being stupid viewers.

At the time of writing, Fox is the subject of CAMERA’s latest fawning post, being credited for inviting comments from two “refreshingly honest guests”. Ex-mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg was one of them. In his interview with Fox, Bloomberg called for a disproportionate response to Hamas rockets and endorsed the high levels of civilian casualties. He also proclaimed that, “As Israel goes so will America.”

“This is the only democracy in this part of the world,” claimed Bloomberg. “This is an ally; we need them and they need us.”

Bugling after him was Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters, reportedly one of the best qualified and most admired strategic thinkers at the Pentagon. “The global media… Let’s be honest about this,” he said. “The socially acceptable form of anti-Semitism, of old fashioned, 14th century Jew-hatred, is to be anti-Israel, to criticise Israel. That’s safe.”

Yes, CAMERA targets, you naughty journalists are all “Jew haters”. Such extreme views were reviewed positively on the CAMERA website: “remarkable”, it purred.

 

CAMERA is ready to exempt itself from the demands for accuracy that it aims at the media. And like others engaged in the narrative wars, it does not understand the difference between advocacy and accuracy. (Gershom Gorenberg, The American Prospect)

 

CAMERA is disputing the veracity of the massacre at Al-Shifa Hospital, arguing that it was a Hamas stronghold so over 60 civilian casualties were justified. Its only source for this is an Israeli military spokesperson.

Five editors from CAMERA have already been sanctioned formally by Wikipediafor putting biased entries secretly onto the public website. An investigation into their dishonesty was published byElectronic Intifada in 2008 and was followed by an exposé in Harpers Magazine later that year. The reports led to an investigation by Wikipedia’s management. Commenting on the incident, Gershom Gorenberg, of The American Prospect, stated: “CAMERA is ready to exempt itself from the demands for accuracy that it aims at the media. And like others engaged in the narrative wars, it does not understand the difference between advocacy and accuracy”. His piece was called “The Middle East Editing Wars”.

Coordinators at CAMERA had even advised their members not to edit articles about Israel for a set period to evade suspicious site administrators, then bombard the site with pro-Israel edits. Even the Daily Telegraph in London, which is broadly pro-Israel in its editorial stance, covered the embarrassing incident.

In a YouTube interview with the blog “Elders of Ziyon” last year, the Chief Executive Officer of HonestReporting.com, British-born Boston resident Joe Hyams, tells viewers that he is trying to “raise journalistic standards”. That’s an interesting piece of condescending prattle, because Hyams has no professional background in journalism. He came from advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi, where he was a “strategic planner”.

According to the official website of the Israeli embassy in Washington, whichmaintains a profile page for Mr Hyams and sends him frequently on speaking engagements, he “trains Israel supporters in the planning of campaign strategy and evaluation”. The managing editor of HonestReporting.com is Simon Plosker; he has spent time working in the Israel Defence Force’s Spokesperson Unit, and continues as a reservist, presumably in the same role.

Why would ex-advertising executives and reservists in the IDF’s Spokesperson Unit be appropriate guardians of media balance? Simple; this isn’t about balance, it’s about a “media war”, as Hyams himself puts it, which explainsHonestReporting.com’s close alliance with the Israeli government. These watchdogs are simply another cog in the Israeli war machine.

 

…HonestReporting, CAMERA and their ilk are aggressors on the media scene, determined to push a skewed version of events taking place in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to the audience and readership in America and Britain.

 

In November 2012, during the eight-day Israeli offensive against the people of the Gaza Strip, CNN anchors interviewed 45 Israeli officials, more than twice the number of Palestinian officials. Between 30 June and 9 July 2014, CNNinterviewed 17 Israeli officials and just one Palestinian.

In a study published by academic Mohammed El Masry in 2009, he found that the New York Times and Chicago Tribune coverage of the second Palestinian Intifada was highly skewed in Israel’s favour. Similarly, a 2003 study by academic Matt Viser published in the International Journal of Press/Politics found that the New York Timespersonalised Israeli deaths, largely ignored Palestinian deaths and relied heavily on Israeli sources. A 2001 study by academic Seth Ackerman showed that National Public Radio covered 89 per cent of Israeli child deaths and only 20 per cent of Palestinian child deaths.

Far from defending Israel valiantly from anti-Semitic attacks or anti-Israel editorial bias, which these groups like to pretend is widespread, HonestReporting, CAMERA and their ilk are aggressors on the media scene, determined to push a skewed version of events taking place in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to the audience and readership in America and Britain. The poor record of CNN and other media outlets is quite possibly a successful result of their efforts.

General awareness of these groups, and their activities to influence media coverage, is relatively low other than among the super-engaged minority who focus on Israel-Palestine issues. Although there’s some cynical amusement to be gained from picking apart their pedantry, ultimately their role reflects that of the Israeli military in pretending that Israelis are in mortal danger as a pretext for attacks on civilians, while spinning propaganda that distorts reality and supports Israel’s war crimes.

 

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