Archive | November 25th, 2019

Supreme Court Approves Indefinite Detention of Immigrants

A young girl stands outside a chain link fence
Yerlin Yessehia, 11, of Honduras waits with her family along the border bridge after being denied entry into the U.S. from Mexico on June 25, 2018, in Brownsville, Texas.

BY: Kevin Mathews

President Trump has faced significant criticism for his immigration policy, yet the administration has managed to find a friend on this issue in the Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court decided that ICE may detain immigrants indefinitely while awaiting deportation proceedings.

As a consequence, ICE can continue putting any immigrant — legal or undocumented — into a detention center for perhaps years at a time if the individual has ever committed a crime. Not only is there no timeline for how long immigrants can be held in these centers, but immigrants can also be apprehended years after the crimes — even relatively minor ones — without warning.

Traditionally, if the government feels an immigrant warrants deportation after serving a criminal sentence, U.S. officials almost immediately set that process in motion. The Trump administration, however, has contested that the law only stipulates “when the alien is released” – presumably with the intent to kick out immigrants remaining in the country under previous administrations.

While the five conservative justices thought this was a fair interpretation, the four liberal justices dissented pretty strongly. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court’s decision “runs the gravest risk of depriving those whom the government has detained of the oldest and most important of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.”

Indeed, it seems completely unfair to lock people up for crimes they already served time for — even if the second time is technically in a detention center, not a prison.

Worse yet, the conservative justices seemed to understand that this policy poses a threat to constitutional rights. After all, Justice Samuel Alito’s majority decision allows for the possibility that an immigrant could have grounds to challenge the legality of such a detention. In the meantime, immigrants will have to do their best to maneuver through this complex and unjust system.

Long ago, the plaintiff in the case, Mony Preap, served jail time for two minor drug offenses. Seven years after Preap got out of prison, ICE put him in an immigrant detention for months on the basis of his previous crimes — even though he was in the country legally with a green card. Moreover, Preap had no recourse to pay a bond to get out of detention while awaiting the immigration court’s decision. The ruling ultimately allowed him stay to in the country.

As a result of this new SCOTUS decision, other immigrants like Preap will lose their freedom over crimes they were already punished for. For the Trump administration, it’s not a matter of making America safer; it’s about being cruel to immigrants in every possible way imaginable.

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Trump Threatens to Unleash Paramilitary Violence in the US

President Donald Trump stands with Bikers for Trump at Trump National Golf Club.
President Trump listens as supporters cheer following the pledge of allegiance during a Bikers for Trump event at the Trump National Golf Club on August 11, 2018, in Bedminster, New Jersey.

BYSasha Abramsky


READING LISTIMMIGRATIONTrump Administration Considered Jailing Migrants Near Toxic Military DumpECONOMY & LABORMcDonald’s Employees Are Suing to Win Protection From Violence at WorkPOLITICS & ELECTIONSNearly 300 US Cities Will Mobilize to Demand Impeachment on Eve of House VoteHUMAN RIGHTSUK Ignores UN Deadline to End Illegal Occupation of the Chagos IslandsIMMIGRATIONRacist Stephen Miller Must Go, Activists and Lawmakers SayPOLITICS & ELECTIONSTrump Is Trying to Lift Up Colonial Myths. Native People Are Breaking Them Down.

This has been one of those whiplash weeks where so many particularly monstrous words have emanated from Donald Trump’s mouth and Twitter-fingers that it becomes almost dizzying.

Where to focus my outrage? Should I be most concerned about the fact that the supposed “leader of the free world” stumbled through a series of non-answers when asked about the growing threat of white nationalism in the wake of the grotesque massacre of scores of Muslims in New Zealand? Or the fact that last weekend, instead of tweeting sympathy to the victims of that massacre, Trump chose instead to tweet out insults and lies about a dead senator? Or the fact that he threatened to sic the Federal Communications Commission onto a comedy show he didn’t like, while at the same time stepping into the editorial fray to urge Fox News to stand behind two particularly noxious commentators whom he does like?

All these are bad, but none is as bloody awful as his musings on unleashing paramilitary violence if things go too wrong for him in the political arena. In his trademark “I didn’t say it” way, Trump talked in a March 13 Breitbart interview about how he had the police, the military and the biker gangs in his corner — and how wonderful it was that they weren’t violent … for now; the clear nudge, nudge, wink, wink, subtext being that all he would have to do is give a signal, and his armed proxies would go after his enemies. A few days later, white nationalist Rep. Steve King, one of Trump’s closest ideological soulmates on Capitol Hill, forwarded to his followers a cartoon about the possibility of a modern-day U.S. civil war, and how gun-toting conservatives would have a field day shooting down wishy-washy liberals who couldn’t even work out what public bathrooms they wanted to use.

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None of this stuff is remotely funny, and it has no place in a functioning democracy. Of course, many U.S. politicians in the past have called out the hard-hat brigade when it suited them; segregationist Southern governors during the civil rights struggle routinely stoked white mob violence in an effort to block reforms. In 1968, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley unleashed the police against anti-war protesters with the intent of busting open as many heads as possible. In the Tammany Hall days, machine politicians weren’t averse to making unholy alliances with street gangs. More recently, demagogues from Louisiana politician Huey Long to Red Scare architect Joe McCarthy have all-too-well understood the power of the crowd and the potency of the threat of political violence in an already combustible situation.

But for the most part, presidents have tended to stay away from such a dark and dangerous path. They have done so not necessarily because of moral scruples, but out of an awareness of the ferocious (and ultimately uncontainable) forces that can be unleashed when a person with the power and reach of the president of the United States abandons all pretext of democratic governance; of respect for the rule of law; and of an understanding that the game of politics has to be bound by a set of rules or else it will degenerate into strong-man rule, and, eventually, the unfathomable horror of civil conflict.

Trump has, since he first announced his candidacy back in 2015, shown little patience for the limits, the nuance and the necessity of compromise that constitutional governance necessitates. He has, from the get-go, shown himself temperamentally to be an autocrat, a man with dictatorial ambitions who is far more comfortable in the presence of rulers such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, than democratic leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Over the last two years, the Trump regime — and it is far more a regime than an administration — has bent the GOP firmly to his will on this.Trump talked about how he had the police, the military and the biker gangs in his corner.

Were Trump’s outrageous comments about biker gangs and military intervention in domestic politics just the random utterances of an egocentric authoritarian, things would be grim enough. But over the last two years, various GOP organizations around the country have invited white supremacist groups including the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys to either provide “security” at their rallies or to “spice up” their events with speakers who advocate violence. All of these groups are paramilitaries-in-the-making; all are — or at least were before being brought into the mainstream by Trumpite Republicans — on the far margins of the political process, their worldview more closely aligned with fascist visions of society than with what passed as GOP mainstream beliefs in the pre-Trump era.

Over these last few years, the GOP has increasingly come to resemble a political party whose raison d’étre is simply to nurture the cult of the personality around Trump rather than to contribute anything genuinely resembling ideas into the political discourse; a political party willing to embrace the most violent and thuggish elements for partisan advantage. The scale of this degeneration was on display last month, when Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz publicly threatened congressional witness and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and then blithely claimed he was just contributing to “the marketplace of ideas.”Politics has to be bound by a set of rules or else it will degenerate into strong-man rule, and, eventually, the unfathomable horror of civil conflict.

Let’s be real. Publicly blackmailing a witness is no more about “the marketplace of ideas” than a mobster’s threat to make someone “sleep with the fishes” if they cooperate with the police. Using the presidential bully pulpit to goad an already angry and wrathful “base” to consider violence against political opponents is, again, no more simply part of the democratic rough and tumble, the contest for hearts and minds, than would be the burning of a cross on the lawn of a perceived enemy.

Unfortunately, history is littered with examples of power-hungry rulers turning to paramilitary violence when it was politically expedient. The Sturmabteilung (SA) were the backbone of early Nazi power in Germany. Their sadistic foot soldiers were unleashed against Jews, trade unionists, communists, LGBTQ folks, independent journalists, artists, academics and so on. In Latin America, paramilitaries were instrumental in the dirty wars that decimated a generation of progressives. Elsewhere, paramilitaries have been turned to in recent times by leaders such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as by genocidal leaders such as those in Rwanda and in the Balkan states in the early 1990s.History is littered with examples of power-hungry rulers turning to paramilitary violence when it was politically expedient.

In his powerful essay, “In Defense of the Word,” written during a decade when most of Latin America had fallen to dictators backed up by paramilitary forces, the Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano wrote that the combination of authoritarian leaders and armed militias had paved the way for “the development of methods of torture, techniques for assassinating people and ideas, for the cultivation of silence, the extension of impotence, and the sowing of fear.”

We think we are different; we are, after all, Americans, and in the U.S., we say to ourselves with a healthy dose of hubris, that we don’t do things that way. But how different are we really? How thin is our veneer? How vulnerable are we to the siren calls of political violence issued from the biggest dais on Earth and amplified by the instruments of social media?

Trump and his acolytes are now truly playing with fire. The more Trump’s legal woes mount up, the more he seems willing to embrace his own Götterdämmerung vision, a willingness to create maximum chaos simply to insulate himself from justice.

In an essay titled “Fascism in Latin America,” Galeano observed that, “In the slaughterhouses of human flesh, the hangmen hummed patriotic songs.” Trump, with his musings about the army, the police, the biker gangs, his literal hugging of the flag at the Conservative Political Action Conference, and his repeated conflation of dissent with treason, is humming loud and clear these days.

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After Activist Pressure, Amazon Purges Dozens of Far-Right Books

The Amazon logo displayed on the side of a glass building
A view of the online shopping giant Amazon’s German headquarters in Munich, Germany.

BYShane Burley


The overwhelming size of Amazon’s distribution sphere is known for its ability to suppress the prices of the media it sells and to crush a diversity of sellers, but the advantage for small publishers is that it sells just about everything.

As a central purchasing hub, it is relatively easy to get books sold on Amazon, allowing tiny publishing operations to have essentially the same distribution platform as Random House, not to mention self-publishing options like CreateSpace. This has also given Amazon enormous power to determine what is available: If a book isn’t sold at Amazon, does it really even exist?

Greg Johnson, editor-in-chief of the white nationalist publishing house Counter-Currents, was forced to ponder this on February 24, when Amazon removed his publishing house’s most-sold book, The White Nationalist Manifesto. Counter-Currents had been founded by Johnson to give legitimacy to Johnson’s white nationalist movement, as well as to give him a job when he quit as web editor for the white nationalist journal The Occidental Observer. Counter-Currents would try to mimic the success that Verso Books had on the left, and he aspired to be the fascist equivalent by publishing extreme books on philosophic, spiritual and literary subjects.

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While the removal of The White Nationalist Manifesto came with little fanfare other than Amazon saying that it violated the company’s policies (though it was unclear what policies those were), Johnson could see the writing on the wall. Two days later, Amazon banned 15 more Counter-Currents titles, including Western Civilization Bites Back by British Nationalist Party leader Jonathan Bowden and books by Nazi mystic Savitri Devi. Amazon had also banned four books by white nationalist leader Jared Taylor.

Other white nationalist authors targeted include American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell, Harold Covington from the Northwest Imperative, Ben Klassen of the “Creativity Movement,” and National Alliance founder William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries. All in all, dozens of titles were pulled from Amazon’s listings, leaving them essentially unavailable for most people in the U.S. It is an ongoing purge, so the number is increasing quickly, with no end in sight.

Johnson and others, including the New Century Foundation and other white nationalist organizations, reacted by trying to stop all further business with Amazon and initiate a boycott of the company, but as they will soon find out, subcultural boycotts like his usually have no effect on massive conglomerates. Counter-Currents will continue selling books through its website and other third-party sellers like Barnes & Noble, but this cuts the publishing house’s reach even further.

On March 11, Kevin MacDonald, the editor of the white nationalist journal The Occidental Quarterly, went to Twitter to complain that his book, Culture of Critique, had disappeared from Amazon. MacDonald is a former professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, who promotes the false idea that Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy” where Jews use their “high verbal IQ” to out compete non-Jews for resources and to infiltrate “host societies” to turn them against their ethnic interests. His early anti-Semitic screeds were published in the academic press, but the final book in his series was Culture of Critique, a much more blatantly racist tract filled with conspiracy theories.

This is not a new situation for U.S. white nationalists. Media platforms and vendors were usually friendly to the movement through the “alt-right’s” public growth in 2015 and 2016, but following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, this began to change. Podcasts, websites, social media accounts and YouTube channels associated with white nationalists began to be shut down, and financial systems like PayPal, Stripe and Patreon began to ban such users as well. While many of these platforms had hate speech policies, they were often rarely enforced, and after the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, it became apparent how online hate publications could radicalize people toward targeted acts of violence. Amazon was one of the last major holdouts, and the company quietly began removing these titles in a wave that seems likely to continue.

“I think Amazon is getting pressured by customers to maintain a minimum of basic ethical and moral standards in the texts that they carry,” Alexander Reid Ross, an anti-fascist researcher and author of Against the Fascist Creep, told Truthout. “White nationalists who encourage attacks against marginalized people clearly violate those kinds of terms.”

While Amazon may want to be credited for taking a moral stance against these publishers, the “de-platforming” that has happened over the last two years across the internet is the result of anti-fascist community organizing that demanded these changes through public pressure. This has created a climate of disapproval of companies that provide platforms for, or do business with, white nationalists. While Amazon was heavily pressured to stop selling other racially charged material, such as Confederate flag memorabilia, there had not been a recent major campaign to halt sale of white nationalist books.

Amazon’s purge highlights the way that user behavior leads to suggested content. The algorithms of these large media platforms give suggestions as to what the user might also be interested in based on their behavior. With Amazon, interest in some far-right topics might lead you to Counter-Currents or other openly white nationalist literature, and so the sale of their books leads to a process of potential radicalization.

“Although it is true that we can continue to sell our books through our own sites, their absence from the world’s largest bookseller obviously greatly limits not only their accessibility but the possibility that readers previously unfamiliar with our work might discover them,” said John Morgan, editor with Counter-Currents, in a statement.

One concern that this raises is the monolithic and unaccountable way that Amazon can choose which titles to allow into the culture, and whether or not the company then has the ability to target books by anti-racist activists, leftists and other people deemed “extreme” by parts of the liberal center.

“I think there is some concern [that Amazon could remove left-wing books], but it’s based on the notion that this is a form of abstract censorship of ideas rather than the prevention of the growth and spread of an extremely harmful movement,” pointed out Reid Ross. “It’s like Spotify removing R. Kelly’s music. It’s not that they’re censoring his content; it’s that they don’t want to be associated with what he represents.”

The issue this raises is less about whether or not Amazon should tolerate white nationalist literature and instead about whether or not a company should have monolithic control over the market. When removing white nationalist content is the result of community organizing, it can represent a situation where that community actually exercises more influence on Amazon behavior than they normally have.

“I think, at the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt anyone … bookstores and online sites to decide not to carry fascist materials,” Reid Ross said. “Fascists rely on ostensible credibility offered by the open market, and it sets them back when they’re not given public space to air their toxic ideology.”

The bans seem to be happening in a wave that will continue as Amazon locates and removes more books, but since there are literally thousands of titles, this will take time. For example, the recent book from the far-right publisher Arktos Media, A Fair Hearing: The Alt-Right in the Words of Its Members and Leaders, is still available on Amazon at the time of publication. At the same time, the recent book QAnon: An Invitation to The Great Awakening, which uses anonymous authors to tell a far-right conspiracy theory about Donald Trump, is not only still up, but is also topping the Amazon charts. The question for the coming months is how far Amazon will take this, how the far right will regroup, and whether or not this marks a turning point for how Amazon deals with content creators.

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The Joshua Tree is Us


For hundreds of years, the Joshua tree has been a source of inspiration for not only Americans but people all around the world. Its branches reaching to the sky reminded early settlers of the biblical story of Joshua raising his arms in prayer. My prayer, today, is that it’s not too late to save this American treasure so that future generations may likewise be inspired by its majestic beauty.

Born of the Pleistocene epoch, Yucca brevifolia has outlived mammoths and saber-toothed tigers. But without dramatic action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, Joshua trees may not live into the next century.

But prayer is not enough to prevent the Joshua tree from extinction. It’s also going to take robust action to defend the Joshua tree. Last week, WildEarth Guardians filed suit against the Trump administration to force it to do its job – to safeguard the Joshua tree under the Endangered Species Act.

The lawsuit stems from a petition to the Interior Department that WildEarth Guardians’ filed more than four years ago, asking it to invoke the ESA’s protections for the Joshua tree.

Since the time of our initial petition, the situation for the Joshua tree has become even more dire. This June, scientists from the University of California, Riverside released a study which found that even under the best case scenario–meaning with bold, aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions–only one in five Joshua trees will survive the next 50 years. Without such steps, the population will be virtually wiped out.

In the midst of such apparent hopelessness, I remain faithful in the power of the public voice. After all, there’s a long history of inspired citizens and a caring government protecting the Joshua tree. In August of 1936, in response to the relentless advocacy efforts of Minerva Hoyt, a southern Californian resident enchanted by the Joshua tree, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an Executive Order designating what would later become Joshua Tree National Park—which just this past week celebrated its 25th anniversary.

I am not naïve. Even if marshalling science and engaging in legal action extend the Joshua tree a lifeline, these acts alone can’t save it. What will save the Joshua tree are its millions of fans–famous musicians, poets, writers, and mystics among them–who speak out and who refuse to allow the loss of such a beloved and irreplaceable figure of the natural world.

When the very icons and namesakes that define our national parks can no longer survive, we have a problem that should alarm every citizen of our great nation. Sadly, that is the reality we’re facing not only with the Joshua tree, but also with the disappearing glaciers of Glacier National Park and the declining Saguaros of Saguaro National Park.

If we are to save the Joshua tree, as well as countless other species that are suffering due to the climate crisis, there is little doubt we need a new president. A president who will appoint a cabinet that will cherish and celebrate the beauty and diversity of nature.

I’ve been around long enough to know that sometimes presenting the mere facts isn’t

enough. Logic alone can’t move the human heart. But beauty and diversity held as moral imperatives can.

For 2.5 million years, the Joshua tree has survived on this planet. We desperately need new leaders to take dramatic, bold action to protect our endangered web of life and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The fight for wild nature is now a battle against time, and it’s one we can’t afford to lose.

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Climate Confusion, Angst, and Sleeplessness


Climate change is a nagging issue for many people because it is so big, diverse, and overwhelming, as big as the planet itself. So, how to explain climate change?

Sociologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and even anthropologists and economists have tackled the phenomenon of Climate Weltschmerz, meaning people experience angst as the enormity of climate change overrides sensibilities, and sanity, and sadly some go insane.

Not only that, but dishearteningly, it’s been reported that couples refrain from having children because of the overbearing threat of global warming spoiling a child’s transcendent (hopefully) future. Also, there are abundant reports throughout the world that the uncertainties surrounding climate change inhibit hopes, dreams, and wishes for a bright future, as tinges of impending darkness supplant fantasies of buoyant cheerfulness.

Well, relief can be found in Mark Jaccard’s The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

He tackles the world’s biggest issue head-on, while implicitly making the assumption that “we still have time,” a subjective comfort factor. Of course, there are scientists that wonder if “we still have time,” but that’s for another time, another story, and certainly worth pondering.

Mark Jaccard, professor of Sustainable Energy at the School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, offers relief for citizens that feel overwhelmed by the complexities and overarching enormities of global warming. After all, by all appearances, it’s way too big to wrap one’s arms around all by oneself. But, that does not inhibit professor Jaccard, who astutely separates myth from reality, a problem that’s found all over creation, making it so much easier to come to grips with one of the most complex existential threats of all time.

He not only takes a lot of the mystery out of the climate change imbroglio, but he also tackles the myths that drive, and divide, public discourse, while proffering novel answers for citizens that want to “make a difference.”

The Citizen’s Guide belongs on the bookshelves of people who (1) search for answers (2) want to separate truth from fiction, and (3) want to sleep nights without bolting up in the midst of the night, screaming!

Jaccard’s book is an antidote to the global warming heebie-jeebies, so, don’t jump off that steep ledge until first reading it. It’ll soothe rattled nerves. Bury your nose in his wonderful, easy-to-read, yet academically oriented book filled with everything you should know but don’t know about climate change, thereby, inspiring a great sense of even greater relief!

In professor Jaccard’s words: “Think strategically about how to apply one’s efforts to greatest effect. This book is for these people. Drawing on leading independent research, I provide guidance for citizens seeking to act more effectively as consumers, neighbors, investors, participants in social and conventional media, voters, and political and social activists.”(pg. 22)

Additionally and usefully, it’s nice to know some of the interesting facts about global warming such as when and how Jean-Baptiste Fourier, a French mathematician and physicist, discovered the “atmosphere’s greenhouse effect” way back in the mid 19th century.

As follows, Jaccard does not miss a beat in providing the reader a self-educating manual of academic standing from A-to Z, as for example, the Irish scientist John Tyndall’s calculation in 1859 of the heat-absorptive properties of the greenhouse gases, these being (1) water vapor, (2) carbon dioxide, (3) nitrous oxide, (4) methane, and (5) ozone. Really! Most people only know about Carbon Dioxide (CO2) with little or no knowledge of other greenhouse gases.

Thus, assorted tidbits of critical knowledge scattered throughout the book give the reader a strong sense of understanding, smartness and swagger. For instance, global warming was intricately involved in the strengthening of Hurricane Katrina. Jaccard explains how that happened in easy to understand terms.

Indeed, the book covers the basics. After all, most people don’t even know what “albedo” means, which, by the way, is not surprising as it’s “shop talk” verbiage for science-heads. Still, it’s a must know term for climate activists.

He also goes behind the scenes to explain the towering immensity of dark money with consequential sneaky, underhanded gimmickry by the “denial camp,” and how they use “the honesty of scientists” to “confuse the public.” For example, scientists by training cannot be 100% certain about when and how events will transpire. By definition, science is all about probabilities, which creates openings for deniers to “cheery pick facts” to create doubt in the public mindset. Once their tactics are understood, it is much easier to combat their endless streams of blah, blah, blah!

And, Jaccard goes behind the scenes of international negotiations and climate change conferences among leading nations where he personally participated, providing a peek behind the curtain of intricacies of negotiation, including his personal involvement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”). Of interest: “In 1992, I (Jaccard) was appointed to the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development as one of the six ‘foreign experts’ on its energy subgroup.” (pg. 69)

Jaccard’s chapter on “We Must Change Our Behavior” addresses both the simplicity as well as the complexities of “changing our behavior.” It is an eye-opener for uninitiated “Greenies” as well as those who feel they are experts, or so they think? Read the chapter… you’ll discover why an automobile is really a “PMD – Personal Mobility Device” which has direct bearing on how people do or don’t “change their behavior” to adapt to climate change.

More to the point “changing our behavior” really should focus on universals rather than individual behavior, as individual acts/behavior in the background serve as catalysts for change, to wit: “The next time someone tells you we must change behavior to reduce GHG emissions, ask them how they changed behavior to reduce emissions that were causing acid rain, smog, dispersion of lead, and destruction of the ozone layer. You will get a blank stare. No one changed behavior. Instead, we changed technologies, with considerable success. We did this with compulsory policies, especially regulations.” (pg. 154)

And, he puts some fire in the belly of conscientious activists by warning: “The fossil fuel industry and insincere politicians would like nothing better than to delay compulsory policies by claiming that we need behavioral change. We must not play into their hands…”

Unfortunately, when individuals are left to “change behavior” on their own to help lessen the carbon footprint, here’s what experience tells us: “With climate change, everyone has had the option over the last three decades of changing their behavior. We know the result. On average, we built larger houses and transported more goods and people – and even produced more emissions….” (pg. 156)

In point of fact, changing behavior is a “good news, but more likely bad news” story. The bad news is that unless ‘everybody lives like a monk’ to reduce the carbon footprint, those few that do ‘live like a monk’ encounter the bad news that the world’s energy system is still dominated 80% by fossil fuel usage, regardless of their individual heroics. Thus, it’s far better, and more rewarding for the individual, to focus attention/effort as an “activist pushing for a technological and regulatory change of 80% fossil fuel usage.” Otherwise, it’s not going away.

Jaccard’s The Citizen’s Guide is full of surprises in a balanced approach to the climate change issue. He looks at both sides while focusing on the necessity of getting off fossil fuels. Interestingly, back in 2012 Jaccard upstaged today’s Extinction Rebellion notoriety for rambunctiousness, as explained in his book: “So 13 of us blocked a coal train as a public wake-up action in May 2012. We were arrested and jailed for a few hours.” (pg. 263)

He discusses important issues that help citizens know how to achieve powerful activism, as well as personal peace of mind, including chapters on: (a) How Energy Efficiency is Profitable (b) How Renewables Have Won (c) We Must Abolish Capitalism – Fans of Naomi Klein will find this chapter intriguing, as Jaccard wrote a highly critical review of her wildly popular book: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, and he closes with (d) The Simple Path to Success.

The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success is an excellent easy-to-read and politically balanced book (with one foot in the moderate camp). It also serves as an important fact-checking resource. And, as for relevancy and timeliness, it’s indispensable as a solid source. Don’t leave home without it.

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Nazi regime Is Not Interested in the Golan Heights for Security

Israel Is Not Interested in the Golan Heights for Security

BY: Amy Goodman

Democracy Now!

Just weeks before major elections in Israel that could determine the future of embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump declares the U.S. will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, in defiance of international law and decades of U.S. policy. The announcement comes as he is set to host Netanyahu at the White House next week amid the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, where Vice President Mike Pence will speak, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, among others. A growing number of Democrats — including at least eight presidential candidates — say they will skip the summit. We get reaction from Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat, author of the new book Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.


AMY GOODMAN: Just weeks before major elections in Israel that could determine the future of the embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump has bowed to his pressure by declaring the U.S. will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, in defiance of international law and decades of U.S. policy. Trump announced the move via Twitter Thursday, writing, “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” exclamation point.

Netanyahu responded to the news during a joint news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: President Trump has just made history. I called him. I thanked him on behalf of the people of Israel. He did it again. First he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy here. Then he pulled out of the disastrous Iran treaty and reimposed sanctions. But now he did something of equal historic importance: He recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. And he did so at a time when Iran is trying to use Syria as a platform to attack and destroy Israel. And the message that President Trump has given the world is that America stands by Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: The Golan Heights area covers less than 500 square miles along Israel’s northeastern border with Syria. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 after capturing the territory from Syria during the 1967 war, but the international community does not recognize its sovereignty. In November, the U.S. said it planned to vote against a U.N. resolution calling for Israel to end its occupation of the Golan Heights.

The Syrian state news agency responded to Trump’s vow to overturn decades of U.S. policy by saying it showed the, quote, “blind bias” of the U.S. towards Israel and that his comments had shown “contempt” for international law and that they would not change the reality, quote, “that the Golan was and will remain Syrian, Arab,” unquote.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat tweeted Thursday, “Yesterday president Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Today for regional stability he wants to make sure that the occupied Syrian Golan Heights be under Israel’s sovereignty. What shall tomorrow bring? Certain destabilisation and bloodshed in our region,” he tweeted.

Trump’s announcement comes as he’s set to host Netanyahu at the White House next week [amid] the annual conference of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, where Vice President Mike Pence will speak, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others. This comes as a growing number of Democrats, including at least eight presidential candidates, have said they will be skipping the summit, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg.

For more, we go to D.C., where we’re joined by Noura Erakat, Palestinian human rights attorney, legal scholar. She’s an assistant professor at George Mason University. Her new book, Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.

Professor Erakat, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you respond to Trump’s tweet?

NOURA ERAKAT: I think when Netanyahu says that Trump did it again, he’s absolutely right. Trump has been moving in lockstep in an imperial policy, U.S. imperial policy, in the Middle East which seeks to establish its hegemony, undermine democratic governance and certainly continue the systematic violations of human rights.

Israel is not interested in the Golan Heights for security. If it were interested in that, then it wouldn’t be settling its civilians there. It has 34 settlements, 20,000 settlers. To put civilians into a place that’s known as a military zone is, one, either to belie that there’s actually a military threat or, two, to be using Israeli citizens as human shields. In both instances, it’s incredibly problematic and discounts the fact that there is no military threat to Israel from that border. Syria last launched a military attack on Israel in October 1973. Egypt and Jordan have established permanent peace with Israel. Iraq and Libya, which might pose a threat rhetorically, have been completely gutted and destabilized. There has been no threat. Even Hezbollah from the south of Lebanon, where Israel withdrew its forces in 2000, have not launched war against Israel. In fact, it was Israel that launched war against Lebanon in 2006. This framework of security is a cover and a veneer for Israel as an aggressor. It is not the David, it is the Goliath in the region. And Israel’s continuing warfare is what’s destabilizing the region.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who spoke at Thursday’s news conference with the Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Tonight President Trump made the decision to recognize that that hard-fought real estate, that important place, is proper to be a sovereign part of the state of Israel. President Trump made a bold decision to recognize that, an important decision for the people of Israel, will truly be historic. And the people of Israel should know that the battles they fought, the lives that they lost, on that very ground, were worthy.

AMY GOODMAN: Noura Erakat, can you respond to Secretary of State Pompeo?

NOURA ERAKAT: I think it’s so irresponsible for a secretary of state to be describing occupied territory, recognized under international law, including U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and 338, as “hard-fought real estate.” This violates a long-held principle that decries the acquisition of territory by force. And so, I would say to Pompeo, “You’re doing an incredible disservice to your job. You’re an embarrassment to yourself.”

This is not the message that we should be sending. The principle opposing the acquisition of territory by force isn’t just relevant to the Middle East but is relevant to the world. If we are going to say this in the Middle East, then we might as well tell Russia, “You can stay as long as you want in Crimea, because you also won that territory, won that real estate, by warfare.” And so, this is an embarrassment, to the United States, to Pompeo, and certainly a bad signal for the entire world.

AMY GOODMAN: And what exactly does it mean, Noura? I mean, Trump tweeted this, that he plans to do this. What would have to happen to make it real?

NOURA ERAKAT: You’re absolutely right to question: What is the value of a tweet? This is about the U.S. Now, it’s within the presidential authority to recognize territory as sovereign, even if it violates international law. What will be consequential is how the international community responds. The U.N. has already decried this. Turkey has decried this. Egypt has decried this. Jordan has. Ironically, Russia has, as well. And so, if we see the international community stand in opposition, then the U.S.’s declaration will be merely that, a declaration, where the U.S. is a lone figure in the rest of the world. Consider that when it moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in similar contravention of long-held principles, 128 states at the U.N. voted against the U.S., and there been very few countries that have followed suit. So, in fact, what this demonstrates is the weakness of the United States and its waning influence.

And it says more about domestic concerns in the U.S. and in Israel than it does for the region. This is about Netanyahu deflecting attention from corruption charges three weeks ahead of elections. This is about the United States and Trump speaking to an evangelical base, rather, that doesn’t care for regional stability and international law, but is more concerned with seeing Israel establishing itself as a hegemon, within an Islamophobic framework that positions Israel as the easternmost front of the U.S.’s war on terror.

AMY GOODMAN: So, this clearly is something that the embattled Prime Minister Netanyahu has been pushing Trump very hard for. The Israeli attorney general has said he’s about to indict Netanyahu for corruption. The election is just weeks away in Israel. Can you talk about the significance of this, what it will mean for the Israeli elections, Noura?

NOURA ERAKAT: So, one can only speculate what it’s going to mean, but what we know about Israeli society is that it has a position in regards to the Golan Heights that signifies that the Golan Heights is part of Israel. It’s similar to the mythologies that are created. They have a slogan, ”Ramat Hagolan zeh ani,” that “the Golan Heights are me.” And so, this is speaking to a base that would be more concerned with establishing Israel’s expansionist policies than it is with the corruption of a particular politician.

It’s a deflection tactic, similar to Pompeo’s visit right now. Secretary of State Pompeo is the first U.S. official to visit the Western Wall in occupied East Jerusalem, in a similar bid to establish that if you work with Netanyahu, you will be in lockstep with an imperial power that — where might makes right in the Middle East, where there is no accountability and where Israel will be able to trample Palestinian human rights, will continue to act as an aggressor in the Middle East and continue to benefit from the U.S.’s unequivocal financial, military and diplomatic support, that frames that aggression as self-defense.

AMY GOODMAN: And what does this mean for the — if you can call it the Israel-Palestine peace process, if there even is one? But what does this mean for any kind of pursuit of peace?

NOURA ERAKAT: Well, I think if we just pay attention to what Israeli leaders have told us, they don’t want peace. They don’t want a two-state solution. What they’re offering to Palestinians is a situation of permanent subjugation and derivative sovereignty, where they don’t control Jerusalem, where they can’t access their water, where they can’t access free movement, where there is no human rights.

And now if we thought that Palestinians, who are a stateless people, had any chance of achieving some sort of equitable resolution with the U.S. as broker, we can see that the fact that the U.S. is willing to declare Israel’s sovereignty over Syrian territory, which is not — you know, in Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza has been subject to a really silly and basically indefensible legal argument that says that there is no Palestinian sovereign, and so the territories are disputed. But there is no dispute over the Golan Heights. That is Syrian sovereign territory. If the U.S. is willing to stand by Israel to declare that sovereign territory as no longer occupied, by decree, then what chances do Palestinians have of achieving any kind of equitable resolution for themselves?

This just adds more imperative to a grassroots campaign, in the form of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, in the form of legal cases, in the form of grassroots movements that are aligning in an anti-racist global movement and a global anti-fascist movement, in order to overcome diplomatic intransigence and the fact that their governments do not represent them. This is more fuel to the fire for people’s movements. And as we’ve seen, people do overcome.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, Senator Lindsey Graham visited the Golan Heights with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. He said he would lobby the Trump administration to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: There is no construct I can imagine, now or anytime in the future, for the state of Israel to give the Golan up. … The Golan is not in dispute. The Golan is in the hands of Israel and will always remain in the hands of Israel.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: So, we will be talking to President Trump, when I get back, about the necessity of recognizing the Golan as part of Israel, that it is inconceivable that Israel could ever give it to anyone, given the threats Israel faces.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Lindsey Graham was standing next to David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Friedman has no diplomatic experience, worked as a bankruptcy lawyer for Donald Trump for 15 years, longtime supporter of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, who’s called President Barack Obama an anti-Semite. Friedman also compared liberal American Jews to Nazi collaborators. Noura Erakat?

NOURA ERAKAT: I mean, I think what we see in the Middle East is — you know, we might be saying that the Trump administration doesn’t know what it’s doing and is actually appointing these ill-qualified officials to represent them, but I think that’s precisely the plan. It’s a plan of recklessness. It’s a plan of might makes right. It’s a plan of destroying what they can as they go, in order to, one, shrink government in the United States, but also establish U.S. hegemony through military force.

What we see between the U.S. and Israel, in terms of supporting Israel at all costs, is not unique just to Israel but also in alignment with the U.S.’s policies to other authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, including its relationship to — excuse me — Sisi in Egypt, including the relationship to MBS in Saudi Arabia, as well as the UAE. This is not just about the U.S.’s relationship to Israel. This is about U.S. imperial policy in the Middle East. It’s about establishing itself as a hegemon. It’s about destabilizing the region. It’s about undermining democratic rule. It’s about being able to control access to natural resources, like gas and petrol. It’s about being able to proliferate U.S. military bases in the region, that will have access and control to the rest of the world. And we do that under the veneer of liberation and democracy and peacemaking. And so it’s really imperative upon a critical audience to understand that endless war in the Middle East cannot possibly be for the sake of stability or democracy, but is actually in pursuit of U.S. national, imperial interests.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Noura Erakat, I wanted to ask you about the elections in Israel and a campaign ad. A member of parliament seeking re-election on April 9th is under fire over a campaign advertisement depicting him shooting and killing a Palestinian colleague. In the ad, Oren Hazan, a lawmaker with the ruling Likud party, who represents a Jewish-only West Bank settlement, is depicted as a character in the Clint Eastwood film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Hazan’s face is superimposed over a character who shoots and kills Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of Israel’s Knesset. Zahalka has called for police to arrest Hazan over the ad. This comes after another prominent Israeli politician, ex-General Benny Gantz, released a campaign video showing a counter marking a rising death toll of Palestinians superimposed over a video of a funeral. A second campaign ad promised that, if elected, Gantz would bomb Gaza back to the Stone Age. Your response?

NOURA ERAKAT: Yeah, welcome to Israel. Welcome to Palestinian lives, of being literally dehumanized, killed, ridiculed, accused and blamed for their own deaths, for the sake of domestic politics, for the sake of international politics, while the rest of the world watches. When Israel massacred 58 Palestinians on May 15th last year, when the embassy was moved and when Palestinians continued their Gaza Great March of Return, you know what U.S. headlines ran? They said, “How dare Hamas ruin and spoil Israeli celebrations!” The level of dehumanization that is at play is astounding, absolutely astounding.

And it’s what should make us support more forcefully brave lawmakers, like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who are actually using — who have ridden into Congress on the power of the people who have brought them into Congress, on campaigns that support human rights and a complete anti-racist platform, who are actually calling out the U.S.’s policy for what it is.

Now, it should not be surprising that the U.S., which is a settler colony and also maintains a racial caste system, would also frame what Israel is doing as somehow forgivable. But there’s something to be said about media that fails to let Israel speak for themself and take them at face value. Here are campaign ads where they are promoting the murder and the killing and the death of Palestinians, even elected lawmakers, in order to get more votes. Can you imagine how precarious Palestinian life is? And when Zahalka called out Hazan for the ad, Hazan turned around and called him the — literally said, “This is not anti-Arab racism, you terrorist.” I mean, we’re talking about a doublespeak. And if you didn’t see it, you wouldn’t believe it.

And so, the only thing that I would encourage is for more people to pay attention, for more people to see it, for more people to take Israelis seriously when they use this racist discourse, and to understand that the people who pay the highest price are Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: Noura Erakat, I want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian human rights attorney, legal scholar, assistant professor at George Mason University. Her new book, Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.

This is Democracy Now! Coming up, it has been called the worst weather event in the Southern Hemisphere. We’re going to talk about what’s happening right now in Mozambique, in Zimbabwe, in Malawi and other places. Then to Nebraska and, finally, the Lakota historian Nick Estes on Our History Is the Future. Stay with us.

Posted in Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Uncategorized, SyriaComments Off on Nazi regime Is Not Interested in the Golan Heights for Security

Trump’s Drug Deal Goes to Congress: Impeachment, Day One


Photograph Source: Paul Sableman – CC BY 2.0

It’s almost always kind of a circle jerk when congressional committees interrogate those involved with the Executive Branch. One can’t help but think that many of the folks doing the questioning have dreams of being part of that branch some time in their political career. This applies to members of both parties. Most of the politicians and bureaucrats who are in the hearing room share a basic mindset. They believe in US exceptionalism and most of its wars. They tend to ignore the bloody reality of the nation’s history and act as if its mission truly is blessed by their god, which for most of them is some version of Jesus Christ, although not one that the New Testament necessarily agrees with. In other words, there are lots of rich men ignoring that admonition from Jesus about camels, eyes of needles and rich guys getting into heaven. Most of them probably believe they’ll defy the odds. If they can’t buy off St. Peter, they’ll take him out. Kind of like what Wall Street and its friends just did in Bolivia.

In other words, most of these elected representatives of the people and the bureaucrats they are questioning think more alike than they do differently. Everything was going smoothly until Donald Trump and his minions convinced the rightwing Republicans (a redundancy, I know) to make a deal. Get him in the White House and he would get all their reactionary legislation done. Make a deal with the bloated dealmaker and goddammit he’ll get those oil wells in the ocean and sell off the public land, get gays out of the military, lock up immigrants, and just well you know make this a safe place for white people again. No more Black presidents, even the kind that doesn’t do much for Black people. The rest of the political world didn’t know what hit them at first. They thought they were dealing with a man who respected them and they kept bending to his will in the hope that he might give them something, just a little something to bring home to those who elected them. Almost four years in, the Democrats realized that this scenario just wasn’t going to happen. Trump wasn’t going to play the game according to the rules. He was establishing his own regime, tossing those who didn’t go along out on their asses, bullying timid lawmakers and making a huge joke of the entire system those founding fathers designed. The rubicon was crossed when that phone call was exposed. Extorting a foreign ruler for personal gain and pretending it was diplomacy-as-usual was a step too far. If it isn’t too late, he is going to pay, one hopes with a vicious wound to his over-developed ego.

Trump’s primary defense as argued by his tools in Congress and through his own tweets seems to be “I know I am but what are you?” He isn’t denying his misdeeds and abuses of power, just arguing that he can do whatever he wants because he’s president and that every other politician does the same thing so what’s the problem? It’s not really much of a defense, but in the puerile world that is US politics and especially Trumpist politics, he could get away with it. Any explanation that Trump demanded what he did from Zelensky is because he is a businessman only serves to verify my understanding of Trump’s businesses—that they are essentially criminal enterprises depending on lies, intimidation, and fraud. Representative Stewart almost told the truth about how corruption pervades governments round the world. That is, until he focused his questions solely on Biden, ignoring the corruption that pervades the Trump administration, as evidenced by numerous Trump officials convictions.

The morning begins. Mr. Schiff begins the process by ignoring the US-sponsored coup that put the government populated with fascists into power in Kiev and jumping into the war between Moscow and Kiev. Naturally he portrays the Ukrainian motives as heroic and the Russian forces as imperialist. He may be right about the latter anyhow. Anyone hoping for something other than a US imperial framing of the situation in Ukraine should look elsewhere. This is the US Congress we’re watching here. Once that stage is set, Schiff jumps into the meat of the issue. Succinctly, Trump used his official power as president in an attempt to extort political benefits from the Ukrainian president in exchange for foreign aid. The point of the hearings is to prove that Trump initiated the process and then tried to cover up what he knew to be a potentially impeachable act. This has meant a refusal to allow his minions to testify, labeling those who do so as traitors and attacking bureaucrats in public and private. “If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?” Will they answer this without rancor or politicking? Unlikely, given the nature of the GOP congresspeople on the committee. Nunes jumped in with the FOXNews interpretation of the Mueller report, pretending that the facts are just more rumors. This is what FOXNews is. A series of lies presented as facts and facts presented as lies. This is the United States in 2019. It’s a poorly scripted crime show and Nunes plays the part well; almost as well as he plays the role of Donald Trump’s handmaid, cleaning up his mess and covering up his mistakes, denying his faults and ignoring his boorishness. Ultimately, his statement pretends that the president can do whatever he wants because he is president. Before he stops talking he also lies that the Obama presidency did nothing but send the Kiev government blankets when in fact they assisted in violently installing the government.

The GOP knows that they have nothing but questionable procedural issues and lies (for example, that Schiff knows the whistleblower which he claims he doesn’t) to divert the process. It’s fun to watch them squirm. One thing that becomes clear is that Nunes really is arrogant and unoriginal. The most laughable part of his pronunciations is that he thinks the charges he makes are equivalent to the extortion Trump is being investigated for. The question is not whether or not there is corruption in Ukraine (there is), but whether or not Trump tried to use his presidential power and US aid money to force Zelensky to help him get re-elected by joining the campaign’s investigation of Biden. Equally laughable is the attempt by the lawyer for the GOP (was he a wrestler on Jim Jordan’s team?) to pretend his purely political challenges are something else. His aggressive and nervous style remind me of a ferret outside their cage. The constant references to the 2016 election cycle are not absolution of Trump’s abuses, but merely confirmation of the corruption in the US electoral system. Jordan’s questions are not questions but talking points that sound like they were contrived in Sean Hannity’s living room. His inability to understand parts of Sondland’s depositions proves his own ignorance. Anyone who has paid attention knows that Jordan was brought on to this committee just a week or two ago certainly not because of his intelligence but because of his obnoxious personality and his attempts to intimidate those testifying. As I listen to the questions of the GOP representatives, I am astounded at their refusal to listen or their inability to think critically. I’m not sure which of these “informs” their questioning, but it says something about this nation. I can put up with Nunes’ arrogance, the Republican from Texas and his folksiness, and even the GOP counsel’s arrogance. However, the only reaction I have when I watch Jordan is a desire to slam a door in his face as if he were a Mormon missionary. Or maybe just a body slam on a nearby wrestling mat. Taking down the female representative from upstate New York in the process, who hails from a district populated by prisons and incredibly right wing despite its relatively poor population. Once again, this representative talks about Obama, not the issues at hand.

The first witness, a diplomat in a bowtie named George Kent who could be a character in a Graham Greene novel, begins, establishing his credentials in the service of the Empire and telling the committee that the Ukrainian government is the equivalent of the Colonial Army under George Washington. He even compares the US role in Kiev to the role of the Prussian Von Steuben in that war against the British. These are the myths US liberals and neocons adhere to in their pursuit of markets and the expansion of the US Empire. They are myths that ignore the fact of the attempts to overthrow democratically elected governments in Latin America, the numerous wars against nations that oppose the US, and its support of reactionaries around the world. Giuliani seems to be a key individual in the Trump attempts to force Ukrainian involvement in the investigation of Biden. Somebody talks about Rudy ginning-up the demand for Ukrainian assistance in the investigation of Biden. Ambassador Bill Taylor, a man who seems a contrast to Kent, ramps up the imperial rhetoric, placing Ukraine in the middle of the on again off again tussle between Moscow and Washington. The Russians remain the bogeyman, no matter what happens. This is what inter-imperial rivalry looks like in the Congressional committee room. The questioning by the attorney Goldman provides one interesting point beyond the substance of the questions: text messages are the Trump impeachment equivalent of Richard Nixon’s tape recorders. Naturally, one wonders if there’s the equivalent of a missing eighteen-and-a-half minute gap—minutes removed at Nixon’s request. When the Supreme Court told Nixon he had to turn those missing minutes over, it spelled his end. The question today is whether or not today’s Supreme Court would demand similar compliance if there were emails and text messages similarly removed from the evidence provided to the investigating committee. Of course, this is just the beginning. The Judiciary Committee takes the floor after the Intelligence Committee is through. That is where the focus shifts to drawing up the charges themselves. That’s where obstruction of justice questions will certainly become part of the inquiry.

Those called to testify and those doing the questioning are all somewhat culpable in the crime known as the United States, yet this exercise could be a step in the nation’s eventual reconstruction. Or in its ongoing disintegration into a fascist dystopia. The hearings reveal the nature of establishment thought. They also reveal the intentional nature of the chaos created by the trumpists—a chaos designed to allow the nation’s most reactionary elements in politics and business to install their permanent rule.

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Oppose the Military Coup in Bolivia. Spare Us Your “Critiques”


Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

It would be hard to point to a country whose president has more democratic legitimacy than Evo Morales. Nobody can seriously dispute that he won the first round of the presidential election on October 20 by a landslide. He received 47% of the vote in an election with 88% turnout, as most polls predicted. That doubles the percentage of the eligible vote that US presidents generally receive. I’ll say a bit more about that below, but it’s crucial to note that he was elected to his present term (which does not expire until January) with 61% of the vote in an election with roughly the same turnout.

Morales’ recent “resignation” came at the point of a gun.  He fled to Mexico whose government offered him asylum. The unelected military and police forced him out. Generals openly “suggested” that he resign and both the police and military made clear that they were not going to defend him from armed opponents.  Most of the democratically elected members of congress are now in hiding.  As in all military coups, it has come with a media blackout to help the security forces brutally suppress protests.

If you support democracy, then you call on Bolivia’s security forces to let Morales return and finish out his term. You call on them to do their job, which is to protect all elected representatives and everybody’s right to free expression and peaceful protest. That’s their only legitimate function. You should also call on your own government to refuse to recognize any “authorities” in Bolivia who stand in the way of Morales’ return and who seek to criminalize his political movement.

No matter how popular a president, there will be a segment of the population who dislike him or her – and a hardcore segment willing to lynch the president if the police and military would let them. If you think US presidents are protected from this nightmare scenario because they have more legitimacy than Morales then you don’t understand your own country. The fact that prominent people as supposedly diverse politically as Trump, the New York Times editorial board, and Human Rights Watch (with varying degrees of bluntness) have helped support the coup in Bolivia is an indication of how shallow support for democracy really is in US political culture. Alan McLeod pointed out in FAIR that the western media has done its part to support the coup by refusing to call it what it is. Here is a petition to the New York Times asking it to retract an editorial that endorsed the coup.

But didn’t Morales make “bad moves”?

In 2016, Morales tried to abolish term limits through a referendum but lost it by two percentage points.  A year later Bolivia’s elected Supreme Court (which is elected to a six-year term) ruled that term limits are unconstitutional and thereby nullified the results of the referendum. The ruling was debatable, but not outrageous like many Supreme Court rulings around the world have been. Citizens United comes to mind. The Supreme Court ruling that Handed George W. Bush the US presidency in 2000. The Honduran Supreme Court ruling in 2009 that effectively outlawed a non-binding opinion poll and thereby sparked a military coup from which Honduras has yet to recover.

Also, Bolivians who disliked that ruling had many democratic and constitutional ways to reverse it. They could vote in a new Supreme Court (US citizens can’t) or simply vote Morales and his allies in the legislature out of office – which they didn’t.

Principal aside, was it tactically dumb of Morales to run again? Perhaps, but it’s easier to raise other tactical questions that are much more important.

Why did he allow OAS bureaucrats who are 60% US-funded to have any role in monitoring the election? An analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) showed that the OAS has no basis for impugning the results. Kevin Cashman has elaborated on why the “preliminary audit” issued by the OAS weeks later was similarly baseless.

It is not the first time OAS bureaucrats have impugned a clean election to devastating effect as Mark Weisbrot pointed out in the Nation. In 2000, it helped unjustly discredit legislative elections in Haiti. That helped justify harsh US sanctions which were followed ultimately by a US-perpetrated military coup in 2004. Since then, Haiti has never had elections as free and fair as the ones they had in 2000. In 2011, the OAS struck again and inexcusably changed election results in Haiti.

Why did Morales let them near the election?  If he didn’t that would be grounds for his enemies – with Washington’s backing – to say he wanted to rig the election. US sanctions- which don’t require a credible pretext or respect for international law – would likely have followed. He may well have calculated that his popularity and achievements in office would be more than enough to offset OAS corruption. If so, he was wrong.

Why didn’t he do a better job of getting the military under control? He obviously should have done better on that front, but worth remembering how such moves are demonized in the western media and by local adversaries.  That would especially true if he had made use of Cuban expertise for example. What about arming his supporters in militias? Same problem.

We are the problem

Name a democratically elected president overthrown by a US-backed coup who was not flawed in some way, or whose hard core opponents, even though clearly a minority, were unable to put a lot of protesters on the streets? That list could obviously not include Goulart, Allende, Aristide, Arbenz, Chavez, Zelaya, or anybody who failed to walk on water.

An honest look at Morales tactical dilemmas shows that the political culture of the US and its top allies is the big problem facing any democracy in the Global South.  Democratic legitimacy does very little to protect you when the US and its propaganda apparatus target you for destruction. The coup against Morales should be an incredibly easy one for any “progressive” to unreservedly oppose – and by oppose I mean demand Morales finish off his term. People eager to highlight their “critiques” of Morales are part of the problem.

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Mexico’s LeBaron Massacre and the War That Will Not Cease


Photograph Source: Zapata – CC BY-SA 4.0

Just as the post-mortem analyses of the botched capture and release of El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzman, was dying down, Mexico suffered another atypical act of violence. The execution of three women and six of their children in the state of Sonora shocked the public in Mexico and the United States, where the family held dual citizenship, and once again put President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on the defensive.

Murder by organized crime, the presumed culprit, is the stuff of daily news here since the drug war was launched in late 2006. But the massacre of women and children, members of a powerful and well-known agribusiness family, in a remote area on the border of Chihuahua and Sonora where they have lived for a century, on the surface makes no sense. A crime this notorious, involving US citizens, brings down major binational heat on a drug cartel, something they normally try to avoid.

Information has been confused and contradictory, The Secretary of Public Security and Protection, Arturo Durazo, stated the day after, Nov. 5, that it could be a case of mistaken identity. Media and social media have rejected the claim, and with good reason. Over the years, the “mistaken identity” or “it was an accident” motive in Mexican forensics has become shorthand for “we’d rather not talk about this”. We saw it in the 1993 killing of the Catholic Cardenal Posadas, and the inexplicably high number of cases of security forces and high-level government officials who have fallen from the sky. Local reporters have confirmed that the drug cartels that control this part of the country know who travels these roads. A child who survived described that assailants fired on his mother as she pleaded for her family. Also the vehicles were not together when the attacks occurred, a sure-fire sign that this was neither a mistake nor “crossfire”.

There has also been a startling lack of clarity on exactly where the crime occurred, what direction the caravan of three vehicles was traveling, why security forces took so long to arrive on the scene, and who did what, when. The government’s chronology records that the crime was reported at 1:00 PM, and the military arrived six hours later– despite the fact that they have headquarters located in Agua Prieta and Casas Grandes, both just several hours away from the scene of the crime.

López Obrador responded to a question on the delay saying that the National Guard, located in nearby towns of Janos, Moctezuma and Zaragoza, arrived earlier, but he did not say when and there is no data to back it up. He also did not explain why the Army confirmed the number of dead four hours after arriving and then undercounted by five. Or why Sonora and Chihuahua state security forces launched the operation to seal off the area at 8:30 PM—seven and a half hours after the first report. By that time, all you can expect to catch in the net are other security forces and the press, which rapidly swarmed to this usually forgotten part of the country.

In addition to being a highly militarized area, the place where the massacre took place is the home turf of AMLO’s Secretary of Security. Durazo was born and raised in Bavispe, Sonora, the town near the site. For many Sonorans, this is not a coincidence. They believe that the crime could be a message to the Secretary. The night before the ambush, there was an attack in Agua Prieta that left two dead. Durazo’s cousin is mayor of Agua Prieta.

The Sonora state government is in charge of the investigation, with assistance from the federal Attorney General’s office. The governor, Claudia Pavlovich, has requested assistance from the FBI, although Lopez Obrador has stated repeated that Mexico has the capacity to solve the crime.

Durazo and the president requested that the press not speculate until the results of the investigation are in, but social media and the press have been ablaze with speculation.

Send in the Marines?

Donald Trump fired out a series of tweets on the shooting Nov. 5, portraying a family from Utah trapped in crossfire. He used the tragedy to relaunch the war on drugs in Mexico and offered to send in the army: “If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively. The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!

He followed up: “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!”

AMLO rejected the warpath as a failed strategy from the past, while thanking Trump for his offer, which he insisted “was not interventionist”. But openly proposing sending in a foreign army is the definition of interventionist, and an outright provocation for Mexico, which has historically been sensitive about protecting its sovereignty after centuries of US. Invasions.

More information will emerge, but what’s important is to find out the motive of the massacre, to read this crime in the context of this phase the public security crisis and its implications. Women’s bodies have long been used to gruesomely mark territory and this is disputed turf, but this crime goes further.

To murder mothers and babies is a macabre way to challenge the power of the state. Why would the cartels throw down the gauntlet in this place, at this time? There are three main hypothesis and quite possibly the truth lies in a combination: First, the ambush was a response to what a criminal group perceived as a direct threat from the LeBaron family to its interests in the area. This part of Mexico is an important drug trafficking route and family members have also mentioned “huachicoleo” or gas theft in the area. There have also been pitched battles over water use.

Second,  it is a message for Durazo and the federal government to back off. What specific measure could have provoked such a strong message is unclear. Third, it is part of a broader plan to destabilize the new government. The attack comes on the heels of the bizarre and embarrassing failed arrest in Culiacan, and triggers critics at home and interventionists abroad. It has put an international spotlight on violence and insecurity in the country which, according to the president himself, is the biggest challenge his government faces. The crime has prompted a revival of the spurious “failed state” accusations against Mexico from those who would like to see the nation folded into the U.S. security perimeter.

In any case, something big and uncommon is at stake here. Any attempt to chalk it up to a turf battle between local crime groups should be met with skepticism.

And even before the reports come in and a clearer picture emerges, one thing is certain: for those who benefit from war in Mexico—and there are many, on both sides of the border—the LeBaron massacre is the perfect crime.

Posted in MexicoComments Off on Mexico’s LeBaron Massacre and the War That Will Not Cease

The Zionist Smear Campaign Against Bernie Sanders Is Just Beginning

Bernie Sanders squints into the sun at rally while wearing a black hat
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders attends a Communication Workers Union rally at the University of California, Los Angeles on March 20, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.

BYYoav Litvin


AUnited States plagued by inequality, corruption, racism, and war is gearing up for a polarizing and potentially explosive election season in 2020.

Most likely, President Trump will be the Republican nominee, while Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the pack of (declared) contenders with his democratic socialist challenge to the status quo.

Senator Sanders, however, is facing an opposition coalition that has found common cause in his destruction: Republicans, liberal Democrats and their common ally — Zionists.

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Trump is in trouble. His term bursts at the seams with controversy, beleaguered with the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, a transparent and so-far failed coup attempt in Venezuela, a long list of more than two-dozen White House officials who were either fired or quit, hush payments to porn stars, major breaches in national security, support for unsavory racists and authoritarians, Mafioso-style appointments, and questionable security clearances for friends and family members. What’s more, recent polling show he has the lowest approval rating for this period of his presidency of any U.S. president in recent history. Yet in spite of Trump’s failed presidency and record of gross dishonesty, Republicans continue to back him. His is the true face of the capitalism they seek — unapologetically white supremacist, misogynistic, imperialist, corporate-friendly and xenophobic.

With nearly two-dozen declared and potential challengers to Trump, Democratic hopefuls are attempting to present themselves as alternatives to the president’s divisive, reactionary agenda.

Yet many of the centrist, neoliberal Democratic contenders are struggling to muster a real threat. Considering the current top six candidates: Sen. Kamala Harris has a dire history as a prosecutor; former Vice President Joe Biden (undeclared) has an abysmal track record of racism, warmongering and disregard for student debtors; Sen. Elizabeth Warren has yet to inspire mass support with her reforms and is plagued by controversies over her past declarations of Native American identity; Sen. Cory Booker has close ties to Silicon Valley, Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry; and Rep. Beto O’Rourke is described by many critics as much ado about no change.

The Democratic Contenders on Palestine

While most of the Democratic candidates purport some progressive ideas, on the whole, they subscribe to an imperialist foreign policy and an unquestioning allegiance to Israel as an ethno-nationalist, apartheid state. In other words, they can be considered “progressives except on Palestine.”

Senator Sanders breaks from the pack on foreign policy in general and especially in his views on Israel/Palestine. Though far from ideal with respect to Israeli apartheid and Palestinian rights, he is the most progressive candidate on this issue.

In fact, a new ad by the Sanders campaign explicitly adopts the “apartheid” terminology when referencing Palestine/Israel — an exceptional turn of events in U.S. political discourse.

Sanders skipped the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in 2016, another unprecedented move for a presidential hopeful in recent years, in order to deliver a Middle East policy address which outlined a kinship to Israel while acknowledging Palestinian rights. He condemned Israeli aggression against Palestinians during the “Great March of Return” protests on the Gaza fence and accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump of sharing a reactionary agenda promoted by their mutual donor: billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Sanders’s important precedent in 2016 was recently picked up by, a progressive advocacy group, calling on presidential candidates to skip the AIPAC meeting this year.

Rep. Ilhan Omar Breaks a Taboo

The appeal of Sanders-style democratic socialist policies is on the rise, as demonstrated by the meteoric success of three new Congresswomen — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota).

Recently, Representative Omar reignited an important conversation in the United States and the world. By questioning the influence of AIPAC on U.S. foreign policy, Omar rattled decades-old taboos and exposed Israeli propaganda points, which serve to maintain and further entrench the oppression and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people.

The congresswoman’s statements and their ensuing fiasco laid bared the common hypocrisies, deep-seated racism and reactionary motives of all Zionists, ranging from individuals on the far right to those of a more “liberal” flavor.

However, in an unfortunate move following pressure from Zionists and their allies, Omar apologized, and far-right elements sought to hijack the conversation, focusing fallaciously and duplicitously on Jews to thwart Omar’s original intention of exposing a corrupt and destructive collaboration between the U.S. empire/benefactor and its settler colonial protégé: Israel.

Such a transition serves an imperialist and Zionist anti-Semitic agenda, which conflates Zionism with Judaism. The focus on Jews provides a smokescreen for a dynamic of resource acquisition by a ruling class in the U.S. and Israel at the expense of Palestinians and other victims of white supremacy, including Jews.

Fake accusations of “anti-Semitism,” reminiscent of those lobbed across the pond at British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, are intended to distract from ongoing corruptions within the ruling class, marginalize anti-racist dissidents and critics, fragment cohesive anti-colonial resistance, and promote real anti-Semitism and right-wing politics.Sanders faces an opposition coalition that has found common cause in his destruction: Republicans, liberal Democrats and their common ally — Zionists.

Accordingly, since this smear campaign began, Representative Omar has been subject to a barrage of hate, including threats to her safety, and the conversation has shifted from a discussion of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel to “anti-Semitism,” with Palestinians excluded from the public debate in the mainstream media. Some Minnesota Democrats, along with support from mainstream media and Trump himself, are already working to replace Omar in Congress.

The smear campaign patently achieved its purpose: Representative Omar has since published an op-ed in which she parroted liberal Zionist propaganda and reiterated her support for the washed-up “two-state solution” — a recipe for entrenched inequality, apartheid and injustice for Palestinians. Despite this capitulation to liberal standards, the smear campaign against Omar and her fellow pro-Palestinian progressives will likely continue and even accelerate.

That said, the debate Omar initiated surrounding AIPAC’s influence on U.S. policy surely played a role in the decision of seven (so far) Democratic presidential candidates to skip this year’s meeting.

Will Sanders Be the Next Target?

Omar was a natural target for Zionists and their allies on the white supremacist right; she is a rookie politician, Black, Muslim and a supporter of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Members of the Women’s March were similarly targeted.

The smear campaign against Omar is the sort of manufactured fiasco that can likewise be expected against Senator Sanders as he gains steam, potentially winning the Democratic Party nomination and facing Trump in the presidential elections.

In fact, it has already begun, with Zionists, liberal/centrist Democrats and Republicans joining forces.

In contrast to Omar, Sanders is Jewish, has direct ties to Israel and is a seasoned politician with substantial support for his campaign for president. As such, he may be seen as a greater threat than Omar because he has the capacity to undermine the central Zionist propaganda point that postulates that Zionism represents all Jews, and thus critiques of Israel are anti-Semitic.Sanders has a historic opportunity to marginalize Zionists and their white-supremacist allies in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Once Sanders or those close to him cross Israeli propaganda “red lines” — i.e., vocalize support for Palestinian rights or question the systemic oppression of Palestinians by Israel — the media will jump to accusations of “delegitimizing Israel” and supposed anti-Semitism in the Sanders camp. This form of manufactured controversy and rhetorical scapegoating produces a displacement of the conversation away from the crimes of Zionists to the victimhood of Jews and Israelis, marginalizing Palestinian voices in an attempt to tar Sanders’s candidacy and fragment his support.

Republicans have recognized the utility of this fallacious narrative and joined the chorus of smear artists. These include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump himself, who is now framing support for Zionism and Israel as a partisan issue, claiming the Democratic Party has become “anti-Jewish.”

A new Republican Zionist movement called “Jexodus,” whose far-right creator Jeff Ballabon recently called Ilhan Omar “filth” in a blatant display of white supremacy, and which the U.S.President endorsed on Twitter, calls for all Jews to migrate out of the Democratic party into Trump’s racist bosom. Trump, of course, has echoed explicit anti-Semitism in the past, and recently Trump’s supporters were spotted brandishing a swastika at a Sanders rally in Nevada.

Yet Omar’s detractors also included prominent liberal Democrats such as Chelsea Clinton. In fact, Clinton was recently confronted by two women — a Jewish Israeli and a Muslim Palestinian — for her role in the smear campaign against Omar at a vigil for the victims of the Islamophobic massacre in New Zealand. In this context, it is not surprising that a hardcore Zionist such as Alan Dershowitz would rush to Clinton’s defense.

In response to this campaign, Sanders defended Omar against her detractors, a positive sign that he may not buckle to pressure or apologize for factual claims regarding Israeli criminality and apartheid.

However, it did not take long for accusations of employing an “anti-Semitic” trope  “dual allegiance” — to surface against one of Sanders’s aides. Further, the primary instigator of the campaign against Omar — Batya Ungar-Sargon, the liberal Zionist editor at The Forward — admitted on Twitter that her focus was primarily on Sanders, not the aide:

Batya Ungar-Sargon@bungarsargon · Mar 13, 2019

“This is a serious question: Do you not think the American government and American Jewish community has a dual allegiance to the State of Israel? I’m asking not to rule out the history of this issue, but in the context in which this was said by Ilhan.” …Sanders’ 2020 aide apologizes for suggesting American Jews have dual allegiance to

Batya Ungar-Sargon@bungarsargon

This is not this aide’s fault. Recall that @BernieSanders‘s own statement failed to call Congresswoman Omar’s statements problematic in any way. He said the criticism was stifling debate about Israel. So OF COURSE his aides think he thinks it’s ok to accuse Jews of dual loyalty.864:41 PM – Mar 13, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy52 people are talking about this

Challenging the Conflation of Zionism and Judaism

Meanwhile, with Trump’s support on the campaign trail, Netanyahu has abandoned all pretenses about Israel caring for human rights, equality and justice for Palestinians, and has been exposing the fiction of “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Netanyahu passed the controversial “nation state law,” normalizing an explicitly racist, white-supremacist party (“Jewish Power”) which openly supports the genocide of Palestinians, and recently reaffirmed his pledge to sustain Israel as the “nation state of the Jewish people … alone,” from the river to the sea.

Sanders should prepare himself for an escalation in smears from Zionists, liberals and the Trump camp as the nomination approaches. Yet Sanders’s background and progressive values can serve to challenge the deceptive narrative that conflates Zionism and the state Israel with Judaism.

Sanders must not throw Palestinians under the bus; it is vital that he insist on the veracity of his factual claims about Israeli criminality, no matter what smear campaigns he faces.

People of conscience will follow principled logic, encouraging Sanders’s continued critiques of Israeli/Zionist apartheid policies and push him to embrace an agenda which uncompromisingly rejects normalization until full rights, equality and justice are afforded to Palestinians and Jews alike in a single state of all its citizens.

With the potential impending downfall of Netanyahu and Trump due to the various corruption cases against them, Sanders has a historic opportunity to marginalize Zionists and their white-supremacist allies in the U.S. and elsewhere, advancing the cause of Palestinian freedom, rights and justice.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on The Zionist Smear Campaign Against Bernie Sanders Is Just Beginning

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