Archive | December 8th, 2019

Chile Despertó! Chile Has Woken Up! The Rising Fight Against Neo-Liberalism in Chile

Today in Chile the working class and oppressed people are under brutal attack, economically, politically and socially, by the Sebastian Piñera government and imperialist exploitation.

by: Alison Bodine

Despite the severe repression, on October 25, 2019, 1.2 million people marched in Santiago, representing diverse sectors of Chilean society including social movements, Indigenous people, women, retired people, unions, students and more. (Photo:  Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite the severe repression, on October 25, 2019, 1.2 million people marched in Santiago, representing diverse sectors of Chilean society including social movements, Indigenous people, women, retired people, unions, students and more. (Photo:  Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty Images)

¡Chile despertó!

¡Piñera, renuncia!

¡Piñera ya fue!

¡Que se vayan los milicos!

Chile Has Woken Up!

Piñera Resign!

Piñera Has Gone!

Let the “Milicos” leave! (“Milicos” is a derogatory

word for police and military personnel)

These are some the powerful chants that have echoed throughout the streets of cities small and large in Chile during mass protests that began in October 2019. Poor, working and oppressed people and students have united to demand dignity and human rights – in one word, an end to neo-liberalism in Chile.

This movement began following the October 6 announcement by the government of Chile that there would be a 30-peso transit system fare hike. This increase, which amounts to about $0.04 USD, was enough added pressure to an already tight household budget for many Chileans to bring millions of people out into the streets.

“It’s not about the 30 pesos. It’s about 30 years”

For the first two weeks, protests were organized by high school students who called on people to refuse to pay transit fares. By October 18 the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera had not responded to the students’ demands – and instead declared a State of Emergency and deployed the military and riot police to attack the students.

Despite the extreme repression and curfew, people in Chile continued to demonstrate. Then, on October 21, President Piñera, extended the State of Emergency, declaring, “We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits.” With these words, Piñera displayed outright contempt for the people of Chile, and his true colours as an ally of the U.S. and staunch supporter of neo-liberalism in Chile at the same time. By then, protests which had largely been contained to the capital city of Santiago, spread to other cities. At least 10,500 police and soldiers had been deployed by October 21 (BBC).

Protests against the government and neoliberalism have continued to grow and spread throughout the country and into the most oppressed sectors of society. The Indigenous Mapuche people of Chile, who make up about 10% of the population, have also organized and led protests demanding their self-determination and land rights.

Despite the severe repression, on October 25, 2019, 1.2 million people marched in Santiago, representing diverse sectors of Chilean society including social movements, Indigenous people, women, retired people, unions, students and more. The protests have continued since then, and the repression and cruelty of the Piñera government and his military and police goons has reached a severity not seen in Chile since the bloody Pinochet dictatorship ended over 30 years ago.

As reported by the National Institute of Human Rights (Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos – INDH), a nongovernmental organization in Chile, at least 177 people have faced severe eye injuries or lost their vision after being deliberately hit in the face by tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets. The same organization has also investigated possible torture sites, and documented cases of un-uniformed police or military throwing people into car trunks and vans. As of October 30, 2019, at least 19 people have been killed and over 1,200 people have been wounded. INDH has also filed 18 cases of sexual violence, including rape, and 92 cases of torture, against police and soldiers.

Why are People in Chile Protesting?

So, how is it that in the face of so much violence, people in Chile have continued their mass protests? What started with a transit fare increase has led to a revolt against Chile’s neoliberal government and institutions – and even demands to change the constitution. As Alan Vicencio, a 25-year-old call-center worker told Time Magazine, “The whole constitution makes me angry, the constitution allowed the privatization of every aspect of our lives and it’s being doing it for more than 30 years.”

Often hailed as “business friendly” and the prime example of the “success” of a free market system, Chile is the most unequal of the 36 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2017, the United Nations released a report “Unequal. Origins, changes and challenges in Chile’s social divide,” which explained how the richest 0.1% of the people in Chile control 19.5% of the wealth.

Privatization runs rampant in Chile through all sectors of life including water, roads, energy, healthcare and the pension system. Although some education is public, there is a great divide between the public and private school systems.

Behind the repression in Chile is the support of the United States, but also the support of many of their imperialist allies, including the government of Canada.

The minimum wage in Chile is not enough for a dignified life – especially as everything is privatized, making everyday life in Chile very expensive. For example, if someone in Chile made minimum wage the cost of transit to and from work would eat up 21% of their paycheque (NACLA.org).

Protestors in Chile are fighting for their dignity. They are fighting against inequality. They are fighting against police and military brutality. These are all symptoms of neoliberalism, which is the economic policy expression of the agenda of imperialism around the world.

One only must look towards to the United States’ relationship with the government of Chile to understand just how Chile has become such a good ally to the U.S. With regard to the violence against protestors, the White House stated that,” The United States stands with Chile, an important ally, as it works to peacefully restore national order,” and “President Trump denounced foreign efforts to undermine Chilean institutions, democracy, or society.”

More broadly, as President Trump put it in a press conference a year ago, “There are so many issues that we have to discuss because Chile and the United States are likeminded countries. We share the most important things, which are values—democracy, human rights, freedom. But Chile is really something special. If you look at what they’ve done, how far they’ve come. You look at how well run the country is.” This is what is sounds like when a government in Latin America is following the orders of the U.S. government and their financial institutions.

Clearly, behind the repression in Chile is the support of the United States, but also the support of many of their imperialist allies, including the government of Canada. In fact, Prime Minister Trudeau had a phone call with Piñera in the midst of severe police and military repression and didn’t say one word to him – as reported by CTV News, “A summary from the Prime Minister’s Office of Trudeau’s phone call with Pinera made no direct mention of the ongoing turmoil in Chile, a thriving country with which Canada has negotiated a free trade agreement.”

This is no surprise given that, as reported by the government of Canada, 14% of Canada’s mining assets are in Chile including copper, gold and silver mines. This includes Barrick Gold, which had to shut down a $429 million gold mine earlier this year due to severe human rights and environmental violations.

Both the governments of the U.S. and Canada also want to hold up the repressive Piñera government because having a neo-liberal “success story” and a staunch ally in Chile serves them well in their drive to re-establish imperialist hegemony in Latin America. Having a U.S.-supported government in Chile puts imperialists in a better position for their continued attacks against the sovereign and independent countries of Cuba and Venezuela.

Chile—Target of Imperialist Aggression and Exploitation

The modern history of Chile is a history of colonization, imperialist domination and exploitation. Although Chile won independence from Spain in 1818, it wasn’t until 150 years later that the people of Chile had the opportunity to be truly independent from colonial and imperialist rule. In 1970, the people of Chile chose to reverse their history of colonization and exploitation, and elected Salvador Allende, who had a progressive and popular agenda to improve the life and oppose imperialist exploitation of Chile.

However, only three years after his election, in 1973, the United States and their imperialist allies orchestrated a bloody coup d’état, murdering Allende and installing a bloody military dictatorship. In just the first 5 years of his brutal rule, the U.S-backed dictatorship of General Agosto Pinochet imprisoned and tortured at least 30,000 people and disappeared 3,000 people. A constitution written under the dictatorship, which is the same one that enshrines privatization, is still in place in Chile today.

Reviewing the modern history of Chile also helps to explain the continued determination of the people of Chile to continuing protesting in mass in the streets until their demands are met. Despite some concessions that Piñera has been forced to give, such as the increases to monthly pensions or the minimum wage, a cabinet shuffle, or agreeing not to raise the transit fare, people are not leaving the streets.

As, Vilma Alvarez, a leader of the Jumbo Union (Jumbo is a chain of grocery stores in Chile) explained in an interview with the Argentinian news agency Pagina 12, the concessions that Pinera has offered to the protesters are not enough. They are, “another way to continue transferring money to the financial sectors and not giving any relief to the population,” and “The demand is for Piñera to resign and for a Constituent Assembly to be held.” The people of Chile have had enough.

Building Solidarity with the People of Chile

Why should working and oppressed people in Canada support the struggle of people in Chile? For one, the people of Chile are facing a criminal and violent repression of their basic human rights. They are being arrested, tortured, raped and killed because they have taken to the streets in the millions to oppose inequality and austerity and to struggle for their basic dignity.

As Isabel Sanchez stated to Aljazeera news on October 26, “We are of the generation that began our lives in the dictatorship, and we had no youth. We lost friends; we saw people slaughtered. We lived with fear, but now the young people have blossomed, they have lost that fear.” It is time also for us, as poor, working and oppressed people in Canada and the United States to recognize the courage and struggle of the people of Chile, stand with them, and echo their voices.

Also, as people living in the United States and Canada, we have the added responsibility to stand in solidarity with the people of Chile because the governments of Canada and the U.S. are supporting the brutality and repression of the Piñera government.

Chile Diaspora Supports the Struggle

In the U.S. and Canada, members of the Chilean community and their allies have also taken to the streets to call for human rights for people in Chile and denounce the indiscriminate violence waged against protestors by the Piñera government. There have been solidarity protests organized in major cities across the United States, and in Canada, including in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria. These solidarity actions have not only brought together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, but also many generations of Chileans – from those that fled during the Pinochet dictatorship, to young people from Chile who are in the Canada and the U.S. to study.

In Vancouver, the Chilean diaspora has come together with others living in Canada in a new group named Van4Chile. Van4Chile has organized protests and public demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Chile, including an energetic protest in front of the CBC in downtown Vancouver on November 2, 2019. At this action, more than 200 people, from all walks of life, came together to demand that the CBC cover the protests in Chile. They also called out the government of Canada’s complicity in the repression of people’s human and democratic rights in Chile. To get involved and follow the work of Van4Chile find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @Van4Chile.

Don’t Boycott Chile

It is also important to say that within the movement in solidarity with the people of Chile, there has been calls for a boycott against Chilean wine or other products produced in Chile. While this call for boycott may have been made with good intentions, the most important action that we, as peace-loving people in Canada and the U.S. can take for the courageous people of Chile is not to boycott them, but to support them. Perhaps, we must think more critically about what boycotting Chilean wine will do for people in Chile.

Today in Chile the working class and oppressed people are under brutal attack, economically, politically and socially, by the Sebastian Piñera government and imperialist exploitation. So, it is possible that a boycott that targets Chile’s economy has the potential to damage their movement and to reinforce the austerity which they are already living under. Any damage to the economy of Chile will surely be passed on from Chile’s richest families and capitalist class (they have billion dollars to survive) to poor and working people in Chile, increasing the austerity, pressure and inequality that they face. And Chile is not only a wine producer! Do we want also to boycott the mining, metal, mineral companies whose products amount to 60%, or $40 billion, of all of Chile’s exports, making up 20 percent of Chile’s GDP? The wine industry exports only $2 billion of the $70-77 billion of total exports from Chile.

That being said, do we really want the wine industry in Chile go bankrupt? Who is benefiting from that? Working people? Of course not. Do we want workers and people who work in wine industry to lose their jobs, or do we want to help the capitalist class to find excuses to lay-off workers and impose downsizing and overtime? Aren’t these the very policies of neoliberalism that Chilean people, and we, are opposing? Isn’t this shooting ourselves in the foot?

Furthermore, it is also important to consider the alternative—if people around the world are asked to boycott Chilean wine because the government of Chile is reactionary—is drinking wine from the U.S., Canada, France, Spain, England, Australia, Italy, or Germany, who are responsible for the slaughter of tens of millions of people around the world (including Chile’s coup September 11,1973), really any better? The difference is that Chile is an oppressed country, a third-world country. Chile is not an imperialist country with vast finances and industrial resources. Chile as a country struggles within the world market which is overwhelmingly dominated by imperialist countries and their corporations (including wine companies).

Applying any given tactic to any struggle could be very damaging to the struggle itself if it is not well thought out. In the history of the struggle for a better world, a boycott movement has never been the most effective way to build solidarity. The only effective boycott movement was one that was demanded by the people within the country being boycotted, and this was the successful boycott movement against apartheid South Africa.

If we can take all the energy that could go into a boycott, and instead use it to raise sympathy and solidarity with Chilean people in Canada and the U.S. through street actions, petitioning, educational events, and more, our impact will be much greater.

As poor, working and oppressed people in Canada/U.S., and around the world we must raise the question of human rights, torture, rape, execution, repression and yes, neoliberalism and austerity measures in Chile. We need to expose the atrocities of Piñera, and the complicity of governments like the U.S. and Canada in this brutality.

Sebastian Piñera must go!

Posted in ChileComments Off on Chile Despertó! Chile Has Woken Up! The Rising Fight Against Neo-Liberalism in Chile

Which Witch Are We Witch Hunting?

What does the Trump phenomenon really represent? And far more important, what lurks behind all the attention paid to him (other, of course, than a climate-changed planet)?

by: Tom Engelhardt

The shambling body of that president of ours—thanks to a set of media decisions about what truly draws eyeballs on this planet—simply blocks out much of the rest of the world, everything but HIM and anything or anyone faintly relevant to or associated with or ready to attack him and his strange imperial solar system. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The shambling body of that president of ours—thanks to a set of media decisions about what truly draws eyeballs on this planet—simply blocks out much of the rest of the world, everything but HIM and anything or anyone faintly relevant to or associated with or ready to attack him and his strange imperial solar system. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters) 

French king Louis XV reputedly said, “Après moi, le déluge.” (“After me, the flood.”) Whether that line was really his or not remains unclear, but not long after his death did come the French Revolution. We should be so lucky! Our all-American version of Louis XV, Donald I, is incapable, I suspect, of even imagining a world after him. Given the historically unprecedented way he’s covered by the “fake” or “corrupt” news media, that “enemy of the people,” I doubt they really can either.

Never, you might say, have we, as a nation, been plunged quite so fully not just into the ever-present, but into one man’s version of it. In other words, for us, the deluge is distinctly now and it has an orange tint, a hefty body, and the belligerent face of every 1950s father I ever knew—my own, in his angrier moods, included—as well as of redbaiting Senator Joseph McCarthy. Of course, you have to be at least as old as me to remember that Trump-anticipating political showman and his own extreme moment. After all, in distinctly Trumpian fashion (though without Twitter), he accused President Truman’s secretary of defense, George Marshall, and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson, of being Russian agents. As McCarthy said at the time, “How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this government are concerting to deliver us to disaster?” McCarthy (whose aide, Roy Cohn, was once Donald Trump’s mentor) offers a reminder that Trumpian-style personalities were not unknown in our history and that, in the case of McCarthy, their antics were, however minimally by twenty-first-century standards, actually televised.

Our very own Louis XV is, of course, something else again: a deluge of tweets, insults, self-praise, lies and false claims, and strange acts of almost every imaginable sort. In other words, thanks in significant part to the media and social media, Donald J. Trump is indeed the definition of a deluge and we, the American people, are—thought about a certain way — present-day Venice; we are, that is, six feet under water, even if we don’t quite know it.

And here’s what may be the strangest thing of all: while HE — and, given the last three-plus years, those caps are anything but an exaggeration — is dealt with by the media in deluge fashion, there’s one story that’s in our faces everyday and yet, in some sense — a sense that drives me bonkers — is simply missing in action. To be clear: since 2016, Donald Trump has been covered in our ever-shrinking yet ever-expanding media universe like no other individual in history from Nebuchadnezzar’s moment to our own.

You know that. I know that. Everyone knows that — and yet, in case you haven’t noticed, the fact that HE’s in all our faces like no king, no emperor, no autocrat, no president, no entertainer, no performer ever is hardly being covered, hardly even acknowledged from day to day, week to week, month to month, or even sadly, given how long the Trumpian moment has already lasted, year to year. In other words, HE is eternally there, but the media, omnipresent as it may be when it comes to him, in some sense isn’t.

Winter Is Coming in Trumpian Fashion

The way that omnipresence is linked to his omnipresence must, I suppose, be obvious to everyone. Still, no one is really covering the coverage, not the way it should be covered in all its mind-boggling strangeness. Take the other day, a perfectly typical passing moment in my life in the age of Trump. On my way into the men’s locker room at my local gym, I stopped to have a sandwich in a room with a giant TV screen and a few tables and chairs. On any day as I wander through, the TV is almost invariably on—tuned in to (where else?) CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News—and if you-know-whose angry face isn’t on screen, then there are almost invariably several talking heads discussing HIM or something related to HIM anyway.

That particular day, when I sat down to eat my sandwich, CNN was on and the story being covered concerned an unscheduled visit the president had paid to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The White House claimed that Trump was simply getting part of his yearly physical early because he happened to have a free weekend in Washington. But the visit was (gasp!) “unannounced” and evidently unexpected by the hospital staff—as if much that Donald Trump does is announced and expected—and who knew what that meant.

In truth, the answer was: no one about to be onscreen yakking had much of anything to offer. The only news, beyond the visit itself, was that there was no news at all about HIM. Still, medical experts were interviewed and, by the time I had finished my sandwich and headed into the locker room, the talking heads were still discussing… well, essentially the same nothing much because nothing much was known.

And when I walked through that same room on my way out after my swim, another set of talking heads was, of course, discussing the president’s unscheduled visit to Walter Reed. Several days later, when I began writing this piece, the issue was still being chewed over by columnists and on TV and, as with so much else about this president, days after Trump’s “mysterious, unannounced visit to the hospital,” as the New York Times put it all too accurately, there remained “a torrent of speculation” about it. Then again, such a description could be applied endlessly to stories about Donald J. Trump. 

Now, there would be nothing particularly wrong with any of this, story by story, if it weren’t seemingly our only media present, past, and future in the Trump era. But the historically unprecedented nature of all this yakking, writing, interviewing, speculating, Tweeting, Facebooking, discussing, arguing, reporting, and perhaps, above all, the 24/7 talking heads on cable news going on and on about everything faintly related to one distinctly over-present personage (who was evidently God’s gift to them in 2016) has yet to truly sink in.

At some level, it’s not even complicated, especially in this impeachment moment. The shambling body of that president of ours—thanks to a set of media decisions about what truly draws eyeballs on this planet — simply blocks out much of the rest of the world, everything but HIM and anything or anyone faintly relevant to or associated with or ready to attack him and his strange imperial solar system. In media terms, he is now something akin to a force of nature, a Category 5 (or maybe 6) hurricane, but so, of course, is the coverage of him.

There’s obviously a unique history to be written of how King Donald I, still officially “president” of the United States (though he often acts as if he were something far more than that), proved so capable of drawing every camera, every bit of media attention to himself alone, how he kept “the red light” of those cameras and their social media equivalents ever on. It’s a feat for the ages and, it seems, a successful gamble in a media world that found itself in a scramble for ad dollars, for existence and eyeballs, a world that made some hard, if seldom publicly delineated, decisions about what, in the twenty-first century, the news was becoming.

After all, in a world in which so much is, in fact, happening (and going wrong), other decisions, though hard to imagine today, might have been possible and Donald Trump’s all-enveloping, all-absorbing presidency, under less of a media glare and stare, might have taken quite a different turn.

Right now, it doesn’t matter what the subject is: Sports? It’s him. Movies? It’s The Godfather Part II, Roger Stone, and him. And believe me, if there’s an expert on the Godfather films — and I know one! — he’ll be interviewed. Or if you were truly curious about how former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley managed to remain “all in” with the president as her new book comes out (despite a misstep or two and thanks to some advice from Ivanka and Jared), no problem. Hey, believe me, winter is coming and winter, it turns out, is HIM, too. It’s all him, all the time.

This is not, of course, the only way this world could be covered.

The Donald as a Perspective Problem

I remember the first moment I saw this kind of coverage and I was living in a very different world. It was Friday, November 22, 1963, and President John F. Kennedy had just been gunned down. I was 19 years old and, in those days when you didn’t have a screen in every room (or every hand), I was in the basement of my college dorm (along with so many others), near a pool table, watching the only accessible TV around. It was the closest we would come, except perhaps in the O.J. Simpson White Ford Bronco moment, to the sort of 24/7 coverage that has become the norm of the post-9/11 world.

In that case, of course, a president had been assassinated, something that hadn’t happened in my lifetime, not in fact in the lifetime of the TV set. And the reportage on the three major networks of that moment went on without commercials for four days — from soon after the fatal shots were fired that Friday, through the on-camera shooting of suspect Lee Harvey Oswald during a perp walk in the basement of the Dallas police headquarters that Sunday, until Kennedy’s funeral the following Monday (when 81% of home TVs were reportedly on). According to Nielsen, 93% of Americans were watching, “more than half of them for 13 or more straight hours.” But a president had been murdered and the coverage, while unique for its moment, did end.

Donald Trump exists in a very different universe, one in which the screen is with you, day and night, in which HE and you and it are often alone together for what seems like forever. At 75, I’m not quite as screened in as much of our world. I still read an actual newspaper, the New York Times, in print. (Who knows how much longer that will even be possible, as the paper newspaper continues to shrink?) And the truth is that, for me, it’s become a kind of daily nightmare. I have no doubt that the paper, which got rid of a number of its copy editors (and now has visible typos and errors daily), has assigned more reporters to cover you-know-who (& company) than it has ever assigned to cover anyone or anything long-term before. (Back in March 2018, for instance, I counted a typical day on the Trump beat and found “15 reporters, three op-ed writers, and the unnamed people who produced those editorials.”)

On some days, as in the week the impeachment hearings began, it’s no longer uncommon to have up to six interior pages of the paper covered with Trumpian “news” — at least two or three of those pieces continuations from the front page and many of them filled with material that’s distinctly repetitive. Think of it as the newspaper version of those endlessly talking heads on cable TV.

To take a recent example, on November 21st, the morning after U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified in the impeachment hearings, of the six columns that normally make up the Times’s front page, three were devoted to giant quotes from Sondland’s testimony in large white and yellow print against a dark background. The other three atop the page were articles on the same subject, all under a single giant headline, another quote from Sondland, “We Followed the President’s Orders.” One was headlined “A Witness Places Pompeo Firmly ‘in the Loop’”; a second, “Democrats Detect Watergate Echo”; a third, “Sondland Names Top Officials in Ukraine Push.” At the bottom of the page was a piece on the Democratic debate of that night, headlined “Democrats Soften Disagreements and Sharpen Attacks on Trump.” Only a single piece, Sabrina Tavernise’s “Moving Vans Idle as Migration Stalls in a Reshaped Economy,” snugly lodged at the bottom right corner of the page, and one of the eight reporters involved in front-page coverage, had nothing to do with the president or his possible impeachment.

On the editorial pages, there was a giant editorial, “Implicating the President and His Men,” while three of the four op-eds opposite it had Trump in their titles (“Should Trump Tromp Rudy?,” “The Cowardice Behind Trump’s Vaping-Ban Retreat,” and “Trump Is Doing What He Was Elected to Do”). Inside the paper, there were another 5½ pages of pieces with Trump in the headline or on subjects related to the impeachment process, involving 11 more reporters. More than 20 reporters, op-ed and editorial writers, in other words, were dealing with the world of Donald Trump on that single day.

And yet that kind of coverage itself is never front-page news, even if he invariably is. In a sense, what that means is that you can neither see him for what he is nor see around him. Once upon a distant time — it was the 1990s, just after the Cold War ended — I wrote a book that I called The End of Victory Culture. In it, I explored how, “between 1945 and 1975, victory culture ended in America” and traced it to “its graveyard for all to see,” the disastrous war in Vietnam,” or as I put it: “It was a bare two decades from the beaches of Normandy to the beachfronts of Danang, from Overlord to Operation Hades, from GIs as liberators to grunts as perpetrators, from home front mobilization to antiwar demonstrations organized by ‘the Mobe.’”

And in truth, despite the dreams of Washington’s political elite in the immediate post-Cold War moment and then of top officials of the Bush administration in the post-9/11 moment, “victory” has turned out to be a truly lost cause for the planet’s most “indispensable” nation, as our never-ending wars of this century have made all too clear. Whether we know it or not, we are now in a distinctly post-post-triumphalist American world. Otherwise, of course, there’s no way Donald Trump would be in the White House.

But here’s my question for someone who isn’t 75 years old and is ready to write a new book: What exactly are we at the end of now? It must be something, mustn’t it? What does the Trump phenomenon really represent? And far more important, what lurks behind all the attention paid to him (other, of course, than a climate-changed planet)?

He’s our “witch hunt” president and, if nothing else, he’s presented us, Escher-style, with a remarkable perspective problem. Thanks to certain essential media decisions about what matters (especially when it comes to gluing eyeballs to screens), we’re eternally in close-up. It isn’t just that Donald Trump is somewhat overweight. He’s the sumo wrestler as president. He fills the screen. Every screen. All the time.

Thanks to the media, he’s impeaching us. But really—and I’m just asking—which witches are we actually hunting these days?

Posted in USAComments Off on Which Witch Are We Witch Hunting?

Athena vs. Amazon: New Coalition Debuts on Eve of Holiday Shopping Season to Call Out Company’s “Long Line of Abuses”

“It’s time for Amazon to come of age and pay its own way.”

by: Eoin Higgins,

Protestors unfurl anti-Amazon banners from the balcony of a hearing room during a New York City Council Finance Committee on January 30, 2019.

Protestors unfurl anti-Amazon banners from the balcony of a hearing room during a New York City Council Finance Committee on January 30, 2019. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Three dozen grassroots advocacy groups opposed to retail giant and tech conglomerate Amazon announced the formation of a new coalition called Athena on Tuesday—just days before the holiday shopping season begins in earnest with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Athena’s broader goal, organizers say, is an economy that works for everyone.

The coalition’s mission statement takes aim at Amazon and the company’s “growing, powerful grip over our society and economy.”

“We’re going to write new rules so that our economy puts people first, our public officials ensure that no corporation is above the law or too big to govern,” the statement declares, “and that our democracy, finally, represents all of us.”

Athena@athenaforall

Hello World. We are Athena—->a diverse, powerful force of people + organizations working together to stop @Amazon‘s increasing stranglehold on our economy, democracy, people & planet. Join us at http://athenaforall.org ! #WeAreAthena

View image on Twitter

Thanksgiving week is a busy one for retailers around the country, and Athena plans to use the days leading up to Black Friday to promote actions against Amazon and the company’s varied problematic practices, said Taylor Campbell of coalition member United 4 Respect

“Athena coalition members will host rallies, forums, and actions nationwide to call out Amazon’s long list of abuses,” Campbell told Common Dreams in an email, “from workplace injuries to its continued business relationship with ICE, increasing influence over elections across the country, and destruction of our environment.”

The coalition will also use “digital efforts to educate the public and invite more Americans into the fight against corporate power,” Campbell said.

“We’re taking what we have—the voices of the members of our various organizations, our collective knowledge and experience and deep understanding of the economy around Big Tech, and the experience we’ve had with making this company shift its behavior—and trying to build a more humane economy,” Partnership for Working Families member Lauren Jacobs told The New York Times.

Athena’s debut came on the same day that research group the Economic Roundtable published its report (pdf) on Amazon’s treatment of host communities for the retailer’s warehouses. Titled Too Big to Govern, the report found that while Amazon regularly takes advantage of tax breaks and subsidies, the company does not repay in kind to the communities where it sets up shop.

“It’s time for Amazon to come of age and pay its own way,” report co-author Daniel Flaming told the Times. “This means paying its full costs to the communities that host it and the workers who create its profits.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Athena vs. Amazon: New Coalition Debuts on Eve of Holiday Shopping Season to Call Out Company’s “Long Line of Abuses”

Obama Privately Considered Leading ‘Stop-Bernie Campaign’ to Combat Sanders 2020 Surge

“From lofty heights, Obama has now become a dampener of hope, a barrier to change, and a threat to progress.”

by: Jake Johnson,

Former President Barack Obama speaks to guests at the Obama Foundation Summit on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology on October 29, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama reportedly told advisers behind closed doors earlier this year that he would actively oppose Sen. Bernie Sanders if the progressive senator from Vermont opened up a big lead in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race.

“Publicly, [Obama] has been clear that he won’t intervene in the primary for or against a candidate,” Politico reported Tuesday. “There is one potential exception: Back when Sanders seemed like more of a threat than he does now, Obama said privately that if Bernie were running away with the nomination, Obama would speak up to stop him.”

“Obama’s post-presidency is grating and full of contradictions. He considers himself a success but the mere fact of Trump’s presidency belies this. He won on hope and counsels hopelessness.”
—David Klion, Jewish Currents

Progressives viewed Obama’s comments as further evidence that the former president, who was elected in 2008 on the soaring promise of “hope and change,” is now using his influence on the Democratic Party to undercut the grassroots push for transformational policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

“Obama’s post-presidency is grating and full of contradictions,” tweeted David Klion, news editor at Jewish Currents. “He considers himself the leader of the party but refuses to lead. He considers himself a success but the mere fact of Trump’s presidency belies this. He won on hope and counsels hopelessness.”

One anonymous Obama adviserwould not confirm to Politico that Obama “would really lay himself on the line to prevent a Sanders nomination.”

“He hasn’t said that directly to me,” the adviser said. “The only reason I’m hesitating at all is because, yeah, if Bernie were running away with it, I think maybe we would all have to say something. But I don’t think that’s likely. It’s not happening.”

According to Politico, Obama plans to speak out more frequently about the state of U.S. politics in the coming weeks. Earlier this month, Obama told a roomful of rich donors that he is worried about “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” and “the activist wing of our party,” sparking outrage from progressives.

“Over the next year, Obama, according to his closest advisers, will start to emerge with slightly bolder colors,” Politico reported Tuesday. “The boldest might be riding into a battle unfolding on his own side, if he did lead a potential stop-Bernie campaign.”

Obama advisers told Politico they don’t believe Sanders has a chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But recent polling suggests the Vermont senator is experiencing what his campaign described as a “surge.”

A Morning Consult tracking poll released Monday showed Sanders has gained nine points in early primary and caucus states since October. Sanders has also jumped back into second place behind former Vice President Joe Biden in Real Clear Politics‘ national polling average.

John Nichols@NicholsUprising

For the first time in months, @BernieSanders is back in second place in the @RealClearNews average of recent polls. This is a significant improvement in position for Sanders, who has been rising steadily in recent weeks.

Image

Obama’s position on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, has also been antagonistic, according to Politico.

“Back in early 2015, when Warren was considering running for president and started to excite progressives, Obama said privately that if Democrats rallied around her as their nominee it would be a repudiation of him—a clear sign that his economic decisions after the Great Recession had been seen as inadequate,” Politico reported. “There are very few former senior Obama officials in Warren’s campaign.”

David Dayen, executive editor for The American Prospectwrote last week that Obama’s attacks on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party “are music to the ears of the wealthy and powerful.”

“This defense of the reigning economic order, originating with the donor class and media allies, with its effective abandonment of the vulnerable and disenfranchised, with nothing for those struggling to make it in a rigged economy, is a recipe for social and political unrest,” Dayen wrote. “From lofty heights, Obama has now become a dampener of hope, a barrier to change, and a threat to progress.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Obama Privately Considered Leading ‘Stop-Bernie Campaign’ to Combat Sanders 2020 Surge

For the 23rd day … the cut-off editors continue their hunger strike

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

13

Illegally occupied Ramallah: The freed prisoners, who were cut off from their salaries, continue their hunger strike for the 23rd day, after they suspended their water strike after 4 days.

The prisoners continue their open sit-in in the center of Ramallah for the forty-fourth day in a row, in protest against the cut in their salaries since 2007, by the Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ regime, against the backdrop of the events of the Palestinian division.

During the past week, the tents of the sit-in prisoners were subjected to the destruction and assault of the Palestinian security services, and they were forcibly moved to another place after their equipment was stolen and their tents were dismantled.

The sit-in editors announced, on Friday evening, that they would stop their water strike after 3 days, in response to an initiative put forward by the forces and human and trade union bodies to stop the water strike and continue the sit-in and hunger strike.

The legal and trade union forces and bodies had put forward an initiative in which they announced that the head of the Central Election Commission, Hanna Nasser, had been mandated to discuss with Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ on the issue of the rights of editors.

The director of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, Ammar Dweik, said: “We decided to assign Dr. Hanna Nasser to discuss with Abu Mazen, through a visit organized tomorrow, at the latest, to present the issue to try to find a solution that restores their rights to them.” Strikers.

Dweik called on the editors to respond to the initiative to preserve their lives, saying, “We appeal to the prisoners to take support and water to solve the crisis tonight or tomorrow at the latest, and to preserve the national fabric formed at this stage.”

Popular invitations were launched to participate in the sit-in at five in the evening, in Al-Bireh Municipality Center Square, in support of the liberated salaries.

Gaza: Nazi strikes and anti-resistance attacks

Sources: “Israel” trained elements aimed at controlling the Libyan capital

Three rockets fell in Gaza envelopes and injuries were reported

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Human RightsComments Off on For the 23rd day … the cut-off editors continue their hunger strike

A young man was arrested and stormed several areas in Hebron

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

broken into

Illegally Occupied Palestine : The Nazi occupation army raided several areas in the Hebron Governorate in the occupied West Bank, which resulted in confrontations.

According to local sources, the occupation forces searched a number of Palestinian homes after they stormed the town of Beit Ummar, the Al-Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, and the town of Beit Awa (west).

She added that the occupation soldiers began photographing a number of Palestinian homes while they stormed Al-Aroub camp.

Limited clashes erupted in conjunction with the soldiers storming the towns, during which they fired sound and gas bombs at the youths and homes, without any injuries reported.

The occupation forces arrested the young Yasser Ibrahim Sadaqa at a checkpoint in the town of Howara, south of Nablus, and he is from the village of Anza, south of Jenin.

The Nazi occupation army invades daily the occupied towns and villages in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and a number of Palestinian youths are arrested on the pretext of being suspected of acts that it describes as “violent” or “terrorist”.

Gaza: Nazi strikes and anti-resistance attacks

Sources: “Israel” trained elements aimed at controlling the Libyan capital

Three rockets fell in Gaza envelopes and 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on A young man was arrested and stormed several areas in Hebron

The occupation arrests Palestinians, including the Director of Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ Police Security in Hebron


By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

78377779_2977688498974698_8515994960472834048_n

Illegally Occupied Palestine:  At dawn today, the Nazi occupation forces arrested two Palestinians during a raid campaign launched in separate neighborhoods of the illegally occupied West Bank.

And the occupation soldiers arrested during their raids in the occupied town of Surif northwest of Hebron, an officer in Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ police, three of his brothers are in the prisons of the occupation.

Local sources said that the Nazi occupation forces stormed the town of Surif at dawn today, Friday, and stormed the home of the Lieutenant Colonel and Director of Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ Police Security Agency in the occupied Hebron Governorate, Ghassan Abu Farah, 44, and searched his house before his arrest.Occupation# Arrest

Gaza: Nazi army strikes and anti-resistance attacks

Sources: “Israel” trained elements aimed at controlling the Libyan capital

Three rockets fell in Gaza envelopes and injuries were reported

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on The occupation arrests Palestinians, including the Director of Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ Police Security in Hebron

The Nazi occupation returns the prisoners of Ashkelon to the detainee after they were oppressed for more than a month

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

08148260718025062225823761243637

Illegally occupied Ramallah: The Department of the Nazi Occupation Forces returned approximately 50 prisoners from Ashkelon, after they carried out a repression against them last October and transferred them to the Nazi camp “Nafha” detention center, without allowing them to take their clothes or possessions. , And a group of them was held in “Ma`bar”, the “Ashkelon” Nazi camp, in harsh conditions, including sick prisoners..

The prisoners, according to a statement issued by the Prisoners Club, said Thursday that the repressive forces wreaked havoc in the oath, as all their belongings were thrown and vandalized in Al-Furah Square, and they found footprints on one of the Qur’ans, which raised the prisoners’ anger, and as a result they refused to receive any of their ruined possessions..

The oppression forces stormed the “Ashkelon” Nazi detention camp on the 23rd of last October, assaulted the prisoners, destroyed their belongings, and destroyed all the electrical supplies available to the prisoners in the section.

Palestine is the first in the Arabs’ challenge to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence

The Nazi occupation arrests a Palestinian girl near the Ibrahimi Mosque 

The Nazi occupation army arrested five Palestinians from the West Bank

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on The Nazi occupation returns the prisoners of Ashkelon to the detainee after they were oppressed for more than a month

Man born without arms or legs ordered to prove he can’t work three times in a year

EXCLUSIVE Kevin Donnellon has had to fill in three ‘fit to work’ questionnaires for the Department of Work and Pensions this year – despite having been born without limbs due to thalidomide

ByPhil Cardy

Kevin Donnellon was born without arms or legs (Image: Liverpool Echo)

A man born with no arms or legs has blasted cruel benefits cuts after being asked to fill in a fitness-to-work questionnaire for the third time this year.

Thalidomide survivor Kevin Donnellon, 58, has had to complete “intrusive” 24-page booklets from the Department for Work and Pensions in order to keep receiving benefits.

Kevin said: “It’s not like my arms and legs have grown.”

The dad-of-two was one of around 2,000 UK babies affected by the morning sickness drug Thalidomide.

Fewer than 500 have lived past 50.

Has your life been made difficult by a DWP decision? Email webnews@mirror.co.ukSign up to FREE daily email alerts from Mirror – PoliticsSubscribeWe will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see ourPrivacy Noticefor details of your data protection rights

The 58-year-old has hit out at Tory cruelty (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Kevin has battled to live as normal a life as he can, getting a degree in social sciences and working with adults with learning disabilities.

But he is fighting deteriorating health.

He said: “My last paid job was 15 years ago. Now I’m not as healthy.

“I’ve got severe backache from the artificial legs I used to wear – they weren’t the fantastic prosthetics you get these days. I’ve also got type 2 diabetes.

Kevin (seated third left), with the children at Dove Cot County Primary School affected by thalidomide (Image: Liverpool Echo)

“This government seems to have targeted disabled people.

“I have a lot of disabled friends who are terrified when they get these letters they’re going to have benefits taken away.

“Twice in the last year I’ve had to fill in questionnaires. Now I’ve a third, due back on December 25. Merry Christmas.

“It feels vindictive. The questions are intrusive, very personal.

“I was born like this – you’d think my details would be on the system.”

He says the DWP’s treatment feels vindictive (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Posted in UKComments Off on Man born without arms or legs ordered to prove he can’t work three times in a year

A Tory victory would be a disaster for British Muslims

Siema Iqbal

British Muslims throughout the country are nervously bracing themselves for the possibility of a Conservative government returning to power after the 12 December election. 

Their fears aren’t solely based on past history, but rather on the clear and present danger currently posed by the Tories, as evidenced by everything from their racist election campaigning to the pledges in their manifesto. The overwhelming anxiety felt by British Muslims is palpable.

Mounting evidence of Islamophobia

While the Labour Party has faced allegations of antisemitism, it has repeatedly stated its firm and unstinting commitment to actively deal with any issues by suspending high-profile figures and cooperating with an investigation led by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. 

This is in stark contrast to the Tories, who are yet to accept that there even is a problem of Islamophobia within the party, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. From reactive measures when the media has forced the party’s hand to recognise the racists in their midst, to problematic members being quietly reinstated, the Tory attitude towards and action on Islamophobia has fallen woefully short of its own code of conduct, let alone the expectations of British Muslims.

No party is without fault, but for British Muslims, the future threat from the Conservatives is clear

What does this mean for British Muslims, like me, who have repeatedly called for an independent inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party – yet been ignored and had their concerns denied? 

This is a party that refuses to adopt the recommended definition of Islamophobia or to engage with Muslim groups, has a leader who has singled out and attacked Muslim women, and will readily readmit people who have actively endorsed Islamophobic tropes. 

Dividing London communities

This is a party that ran a mayoral campaign in the capital anchored in the worst manifestations of Islamophobia that we have seen in recent years. Not only did the Tories argue that Sadiq Khan was not fit for office, but they aimed to divide London communities by pitting Indian Hindu voters against Pakistani Muslim voters, and invented claims about links to “terrorism and extremists” while themselves hosting anti-Muslim extremists in Parliament.

This is a party where more than half of its members believe Islam is a threat to “the British way of life”, whose ministers have authored Islamophobic books, and whose councillors post and share far-right material.

A protester holds a placard as she takes part in an anti-racism march in London, Britain on 16 March (Reuters)
A protester holds a placard as she takes part in an anti-racism march in London, UK, on 16 March (Reuters)

If we heed the call to vote with our “conscience”, how can any of us vote for the Conservative Party, whose manifesto claims to protect freedom of speech – yet won’t proceed with the second stage of the Leveson inquiry into press standards, and at the same time, will ban boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns

Surely voting with our moral conscience means not supporting a party that will normalise the occupation and annexation of the West Bank and the humiliation of Palestinians? Surely voting with our moral conscience means not supporting a manifesto that fails to address racial inequalities, even after former Tory Prime Minister Theresa May launched a “race disparity audit”? 

Dark path

While past events concerning the Labour Party have caused considerable anxiety for some, the Tory manifesto lays out a dark path for the future. No party is without fault, but for British Muslims, the future threat from the Conservatives is clear.

As Muslim women, we demand action from Boris JohnsonRead More »

The soul of our nation had been struggling before Brexit, and most Muslims look upon the prospect of a Tory victory with dread and dismay. Muslims should indeed vote with their conscience, but they should not whitewash a Tory agenda. 

The Conservatives have put racism and Islamophobia at the heart of the election campaign, and my conscience knows exactly what to make of that.

Posted in UKComments Off on A Tory victory would be a disaster for British Muslims

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING

December 2019
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Jan »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031