Archive | December 13th, 2019

Palestine: Nafha Nazi camp psychological torture against a sick prisoner

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr
  

img.php

Illegally Nazi Occupied Palestine: Human rights sources confirmed that the management of the desert Nafha Nazi camp is practicing psychological torture against the sick prisoner Musa Soufan.

The Al-Asir Club said in a statement today, Thursday, that the Nafha Nazi camp department is practicing psychological torture against Soufan by manipulating the disclosure of his health condition, where a doctor of the detainee clinic told him several days ago that he had a few days left because of cancer.

He added that the prison administration is doing this to pressure him to transfer him to the hospital by means of a “bus”, which represents an additional torture trip for the prisoner, which Soufan rejects, and demands that he be transferred by car to the sick. 

The prison administration continued the psychological pressure on him, after the detainee director came and informed him that his health condition is dangerous, but what the clinician said is not true, and the prisoner renewed his request to transfer him to the hospital via a private car for the patients, and he rejected his manipulation policy. 

Palestinian Prisoners Club confirmed that the prisoner’s condition had deteriorated due to his cancer, which was exacerbated after he fought the strike of freedom and dignity in 2017. 

The Nazi camp administration refuses to provide the prisoner Soufan with all the medical examinations that he recently conducted, specifically the class images, because of his urgent need for them to be used in the legal path to follow up his medical file, which is part of the procedures that the prison administration intends to implement, to bring the prisoner to a health stage in which it is difficult Face the disease. 

It is noteworthy that the prisoner Soufan (44 years), from Tulkarm governorate, has been suffering from a tumor in the glands for years. Recently, medical tests revealed that he had cancer in one of his lungs, and he needs surgery to remove the affected part. 

The prisoner, Soufan, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, had been subjected to solitary confinement for years, and underwent a harsh investigation after years of his arrest, in 2013, during which he was subjected to torture, the obstruction of his transfer to the hospital, and the provision of the necessary treatment.

The Prisoners Club has warned all the responsible authorities in the administration of the occupation camps against harming the life of the prisoner Soufan through systematic torture policies, including deliberate medical neglect, which over time turns into the most prominent tools of psychological and physical torture in the Nazi occupation camps. 

It is noteworthy that about 200 prisoners in the occupation camps suffer from chronic diseases, and they need urgent health follow-up, including at least ten people with cancer to varying degrees.

The Nazi occupation reveals the unity of Scorpio, which committed massacres against the Palestinians

Abu Ubaidah: Within days, we will unveil a security and intelligence achievement

40 thousand people search for work annually in Palestine

The Nazi occupation forces arrested a journalist and activists in the prisoners’ field, Bushra Jamal Al-Tawil, after storming her house in the Umm Al-Sharayet neighborhood of Al-Bireh city in the occupied West Bank. It is noteworthy that her father, Sheikh Jamal Al-Tawil, was released from the Nazi occupation prisons only 7 days ago, after a 22-month detention in administrative detention, and he was the former mayor of Al-Bireh, and he was detained more than once in the occupation prisons. It is noteworthy that this detention is the fourth for her, where she spent her first arrest five months and obtained her freedom in the fulfillment of the free deal. The Nazi occupation forces re-arrested the activist, Al-Tawil, on November 1, 2017, after storming her family’s home in the Umm Al-Sharayet area in Al-Bireh, and searched him, destroyed his contents, and confiscated an amount of money for her. The Nazi Court of Appeal in “Ofer” rejected at the time the appeal of the lawyer of the captive Al-Tawil, against issuing an administrative detention decision against her, so he demanded her release and confirmed her administrative order for a period of four months without renewal. And before the first term expired, the court renewed her administrative decision for the second time, for another four new months, based on a recommendation from the occupation intelligence, on the pretext of having a secret file for it, and before the second period ended two weeks ago she decided to release her. Today, the long released Nazi occupation is arrested for the fourth time. She is a media activist active in the issues of prisoners and works as a spokesperson for the Enin Al-Qaid Foundation. Her date of arrest today coincides with the previously scheduled date for the release of her father, Hamas leader Gamal al-Tawil, who embraced freedom a week ago.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Palestine: Nafha Nazi camp psychological torture against a sick prisoner

UK child poverty rate could increase under current government

uk child poverty rate, social security
© Tatyana Tomsickova

A recent report outlines how Conservative social security promises would raise the UK child poverty rate to a record-breaking high

The Resolution Foundation released a report, ‘The shifting shape of social security’, which covers the real-world impact of three key political manifestos: The Conservatives, Labour and The Liberal Democrats.

The meaning of poverty in the 21st Century is ever-changing to us, with up to 70% of children who suffer poverty living in households where at least one adult is employed. So what should politicians bear in mind when creating policy?

What are some predictions for the UK’s future?

1. There is a growing prevalence of disability

Since 2013, the amount of people under 35 with a disability has been rising swiftly. Mental health conditions such as depression are responsible for 61% of the prevalence increase. The role of disability benefits for helping those who struggle to work with a mental illness is a rising issue.

2. Changes to structure of labour market

Households not being in work is no longer the issue it was back in 2010.

Instead, the struggles of the labour market today are defined by a lack of progression, insecurity at the job and in-work poverty. The Nuffield Foundation describe in-work poverty as something that “occurs when a working household’s total net income is insufficient to meet their needs” – think of people who make enough to pay their bills but not enough to enjoy their lives. The use of zero-hour contracts has been regularly criticised for contributing to in-work poverty by removing the security of known shift patterns.

3. Housing-cost pressures are increasing

Rent prices are rising higher than income is, lending to the growth of private accommodations for families.

Cheaper social housing is in decline, which means that people are having to consider different options which leave them in a bad place financially. This has an impact on the lower-earning families who depend on social housing, who are further hit by the current decrease in housing benefits under Universal Credit cuts.

4. Growth in value of assets has outstripped income

It is becoming normal that your accumulated wealth is determined not by how much money you earn, but by who you “couple up with” and “who your parents are” – these things can help you to make more positive risk decisions that increase income, like moving to a new job or returning to education.

Assets were 280% of GDP in 1980, and 680% of GDP in 2015, but taxes on accumulated wealth remain too “light”. It has been decades of fast growth for assets, which suggests that policy-makers need to focus on asset-building.

5. Politicians need to understand who is poor

In 14 years, we currently have the highest percentage of adults willing to spend more on benefits for the poor, regardless of increased taxes. That means 44% are happy for spending to increase, similar to the figures in 2003.

Wealth and poverty have subtly changed: the older you get, the less likely you are to experience poverty. Children are more at risk than pensioners, and the pensioner to non-pensioner difference in social security has never been clearer.

Why would the Conservative manifesto increase poverty?

The research describes the decision between voting Conservatives and the other two main parties as a “stark choice”, with a “clear dividing line” between them, suggesting that the party is in a completely different place to the more progressive parties.

Dominic Cummings, chief advisor to the Prime Minister currently, said in 2017:

“I know a lot of Tory MPs and I am sad to say the public is basically correct. Tory MPs largely do not care about these poorer people.”

With this kind of legacy surrounding them, the Conservatives face extra scrutiny when it comes to social security spending.

What are the three Conservative social security promises?

• £80 million for an easing of Personal Independence Payment Reassessment schedules (2023-2024)
• £25 million for carer’s leave
• £260 million for increased childcare provision for school-aged children

A further £3.8 billion worth of cuts would be dealt to working-age benefits, such as Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Working Tax Credit. The Liberal Democrats and Labour party further suggest free school meals, amending the two-child limit and enabling disabled children to have a tax-cut when accessing Universal Credit, which would help to prevent an increase in child poverty.

The Universal Credit system introduced by the current government to receive all of these together in one place has caused “some of the most vulnerable people in society” to suffer. The speed of the changeover into the new system has made it increasingly difficult for those with mental health problems to access financial support, in addition to the five week wait some experienced.

The two-child limit on Universal Credit also emerges in this report as one of the main concerns.

The limit affects children born 2017 and after, which is known as a ‘flow’ measure, the full effect and consequence of which we are yet to properly understand. Similarly, the Conservatives are saving a little of their 2015 package of social security cuts, with 27% of these only coming into activation after the 2019 General Election.

The current government reversed one fifth of their 2015 cuts, by placing a £3 billion injection into solving the most urgent Universal Credit issues as highlighted by public watchdogs.

Commenting to the Guardian, a Conservative spokesman said:

“We are committed to tackling child poverty and have made progress since we came into government – with 730,000 fewer children in workless households.

“But we know that we must continue to make every effort on this issue and our manifesto sets out how we will use the tax and benefits system to do this. The prime minister has committed to giving every child in the country the opportunities to make the most of their talents.”

Laura Gardiner, Research Director at the Resolution Foundation, said:

“Under the Conservatives little is set to change, and child poverty risks reaching a record high in the coming years.”

Posted in UKComments Off on UK child poverty rate could increase under current government

Devoid of agility, charisma and credibility, Corbyn has led Labour into the abyss

‘Once it was plain in every poll and focus group that Corbynism was electoral arsenic, they should have propelled him out.’

Polly Toynbee

Yes, the manifesto was magnificent. But Corbyn has allowed his party to be riven by sectarianism, antisemitism and Brexit

Fri 13 Dec 2019 

The nightmare has happened. The worst of men is elected prime minister. The hardest of times lie ahead. Unfit in every way for any kind of office, Boris Johnson takes up the reins of absolute power bestowed on any leader with such a majority.

 Labour has been catapulted into conflict. That’s not necessarily a bad thing

Zoe Williams

This blow has fallen on a country ravaged by a decade of decay in the public realm and a stagnant economy. We have become an embarrassment abroad. Brexit was the wicked weapon Johnson used to dethrone his last two leaders in order to lever himself into their place. Reckless in everything but personal ambition, he has trapped us into the worst Brexit imaginable, withdrawn from the EU next month and out with a disaster of a “deal” next year.

Five crucial years will be lost in the fight against the climate crisis. In search of deals, he will bend to every interest, every lobby, every fossil fuel and fracking pusher, hiding behind his empty 2050 zero emissions pledge. The shriveling of every service is cemented into his budget plans: enough to stop outright NHS collapse, not enough to get schools or police back to 2010 levels, and everything else destined for never-ending decline. Expect no sudden change of heartlessness. We Cassandras have wrung our hands and howled out loud warning of rising poverty, homelessness, collapsing legal and social care systems, living standards in reverse. Yet people voted for all this woe.

Who is to blame? There are the lies of the extreme Tory press, echoing around all media – but Labour always faces that injustice. It is the rough sea that any leader must try to navigate. Unabashed by the valiant Full Fact and other fact-checking organisations, Johnson found he can repeat a lie a thousand times with utter impunity, no one to stop him except the people – and they have preferred the lie.

They are not deceived: they call him untrustworthy. Anyone listening hears his plans for revenge on all who thwarted him: he will dilute the powers of the supreme court for defying him. He threatens Channel 4 and the BBC with malevolent “reviews”. Beware any civil servant or regulator who gets in his way, as he curtails the right to judicial review and threatens to “update” the Human Rights Act. The pound surges as City folk fear paying higher tax more than they fear a bad Brexit crippling the entire economy.

Given the worst choice in history, the public preferred him to his opponent. How bad did Labour have to be to let this sociopathic, narcissistic, glutton for power beat them? That’s the soul-searching question every Labour member, office-holder and MP has to ask.

Boris Johnson delivers a victory speech to Tory party members.
 ‘How bad did Labour have to be to let this sociopathic, narcissistic, glutton for power beat them?’ Boris Johnson delivers a victory speech to Tory party members. Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

Labour was disastrously, catastrophically bad, an agony to behold. A coterie of Corbynites cared more about gripping power within the party than saving the country by winning the election. The national executive committee, a slate of nodding Corbynite place-persons, disgraced the party with its sectarian decisions. Once it was plain in every poll and focus group that Corbynism was electoral arsenic, they should have propelled him out, but electoral victory was secondary.

Should we laugh or cry at Corbyn’s announcement that he wouldn’t stand for another election? He should have gone before dawn. Any possible or impossible successor will clear out that Len McCluskey clique – Karie Murphy, Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray and others who propped up the old fellow to secure their own power base – with results worse than Michael Foot. Watch them try to divert blame onto “Corbyn-disloyalists”, remainers and ”Blairites”.

Corbyn is not an amoral man. He can never tell a lie: pretending to watch the Queen’s Christmas message in the morning showed he’s not used to fibbing. He is a man without any qualities required of a leader, mental agility, articulacy, strategy, good humour or charisma.

Yet his legacy is of historic importance: he did this country profound, nation-splitting, irreparable harm. Had he led his party and the unions full tilt against Brexit, the narrowly lost referendum could have been won. But he and his cabal refused outright: when beseeched, they said they were too busy with May’s local elections. He wouldn’t share any remain platform. Festering Bennite 1970s ideologies blinded his sect from seeing Brexit was the far right’s weapon of buccaneering destruction. He could have saved us – but he obfuscated.

Corbyn came weighted with baggage too heavy for a Hercules to shift: the IRA, the Hamas friends, Venezuela. But antisemitism was accusation he could not shift. I am certain he sees no stain of it in himself, refusing to comprehend it, and so could not apologise. Failure to purge every case left candidates on the doorstep dumbstruck when anyone said “I can’t vote for an antisemite”. And remember that early refusal to sing the national anthem? Voters’ first impression was his deep-seated aversion to expressing patriotism.

The campaign was chaotic, all front-bench talent banished for fear of outshining the leader. Toe-curlingly bad performers and insignificants were punted up as loyalists, while serious heavyweights Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry might as well have been shut in Johnson’s freezer. Even John McDonnell, better by far than Corbyn, was largely kept from the cameras. Corbyn’s sectarian grudges prevented any effort to heal the party’s rift, leaving immense talent wasted on the back benches.

 What will Boris Johnson’s majority mean for Brexit?

Anand Menon Read more

Here’s the real tragedy. The manifesto was essentially magnificent. The vision was of a country freed from years of darkness with green investment, growth in places that most need it, salving the many wounds of marrow-deep cuts, restoring pride in the public sphere and hope in a future that was absolutely affordable. Why should we not tax and spend the same as similar north European countries? But if socialism is the language of priorities, these were lost in a profusion of never-ending promises too easily mocked. The political landscape was never prepared, soil untilled, last-minute policies falling on stony ground. Where was the simple five-point pledge card?

Credibility is everything and Corbyn lacked it like no other. Without credibility all was lost. Think on it, every Labour member. It will be a long, long road up from such a fall. There will be days to consider hope: today is for confronting reality.

Posted in Campaigns, UKComments Off on Devoid of agility, charisma and credibility, Corbyn has led Labour into the abyss

America made its decision: saving Lebanon will not be free

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

America made its decision: saving Lebanon will not be free … … fulfilling the demands of the demonstrators and a new political system in order to pressure the party!

In a move expected to overshadow the upcoming government – in one form or another – with President Michel Aoun’s willingness to start parliamentary consultations on Monday, the American newspaper “The National” revealed that the US Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hill is preparing to visit Lebanon next week. In the details reported by the newspaper, Hill, who previously served as his country’s ambassador to Lebanon, will be the highest-ranking US official to visit Beirut since the outbreak of the October 17 uprising.

Hill’s visit to the Middle East will not be confined to Beirut alone, but he will go to Iraq, which is witnessing widespread protests and floundering after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a step that carries many indications, especially since many link the variables between the American-Iranian conflict and the fate of The Lebanese and Iraqi arenas.

Reading Hill’s visit cannot take place in isolation from Washington’s decision to release the estimated US $ 105 million in military aid months after unjustified suspension on the one hand, and the Bloomberg Agency report on Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo’s intervention “personally” to release economic aid to Lebanon With a value of $ 115 million on the other hand, where diplomatic sources say that Pompeo has been following the situation in Lebanon with interest since his visit to Beirut last April, “So he decided to provide support for the situation in Lebanon, especially in the economic and financial fields, after reaching the abyss.”

Hill’s visit also comes after the failure of the Lebanese political class to attract financial support from the international community, with economists warning of an economic meltdown. In this regard, the newspaper quoted Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Schenker, who represented his country at the meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, as saying that the parties that attended the meeting agreed to provide technical advice to Lebanese institutions, as it would refrain from providing a financial rescue package or financial support The two were requested by Saad Hariri, the caretaker head of government, without serious reform measures. “There will be no aid package or rescue package,” Schenker said, adding: “Lebanon will not be saved from the financial turmoil in it.”

Limited aid .. What about the government?

In an interview with the Associated Press, Schenker said that the group is considering sending limited humanitarian aid to Lebanon, to reduce the suffering of the population, without specifying its time or size.

For his part, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington that “the responsibility lies with the Lebanese people in order to press for a new political order.” Pompeo said his country is ready to help the Lebanese “reform their economy and government.”

Despite the US escalation in the level of sanctions against “Hezbollah”, where it is reported that the US State Department intends to disclose today the inclusion of new names “close to the party” on the list of sanctions, Schenker insisted that his country does not set conditions at the level of parties that can Participates in the new government.

“So far, we have committed to focusing on a set of principles, which do not include the name of the prime minister, the finance minister, nor the party they belong to, nor the religion they embrace, but rather their ability to carry out reforms,” Schenker commented.

What do analysts expect from Hill’s visit?

For his part, Assistant Professor at Washington University, Firas Maksad, stressed that saving Lebanon financially will not be free, saying: “The United States insists on pledging all future assistance to Lebanon by forming a government that is able to meet the demands of the protesters to undertake meaningful reforms,” adding: “It will be delivered David Hill has this strict message to Beirut officials. ” “The American approach combines American values ​​related to supporting the peoples’ rightful demands, and its more urgent geopolitical goals centered on pressure on Iran’s allies, including Hezbollah, “he added.

Breaking news

The US Treasury will impose new sanctions on Lebanese personalities

Al Arabiya reported that the US Treasury Department will impose sanctions on Lebanese people accused of money laundering and tax evasion. On Friday, the Ministry will announce the names of the persons involved in these crimes.

It quoted more than one source as saying that the US administration, and within its policy to hold people close to Hezbollah designated terrorist on the lists of the State Department and the Treasury, is putting names on the sanctions lists periodically after confirming their involvement and support for or close to Hezbollah.

The administration of US President Donald Trump takes a firm line with regard to holding everyone accountable for logistical assistance to Hezbollah, and do not hesitate to put them on the sanctions lists, to prohibit dealing with them banking and to freeze their bank accounts.

This comes at a time when a US official confirmed to Al-Arabiya and Al-Hadath that the American Assistant Secretary of State, former ambassador to Lebanon David Hill, will visit Beirut next to his visit to Baghdad next week.

The official said that Hill will carry a clear and strong message on his shoulders to Lebanese officials, namely that the administration will not provide financial support to save Lebanon from an imminent economic collapse until after the formation of a government that responds to the demands of the Lebanese people who took to the streets demanding to fight corruption and form a government of technocrats.

It seems that this American position is consistent with the position of European and regional countries that no money should be given to the current Lebanese government until after taking radical economic reforms and forming a government that represents the demands of the demonstrators.


Canada called thousands of Lebanese to immigrate to it .

The talk about the Canadian embassy opening the doors of immigration to the Lebanese caused a great stir in the public opinion, which necessitated the visit of the head of the “Land Movement” Talal Doueihy to the Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi to limit the return of immigration.

Douaihy reports, in an interview with MTV, that “a large number of Lebanese, the vast majority of whom are Christians, have received calls from the immigration administration offices located in various Canadian regions to inform the thousands of Lebanese, who had previously applied to leave Lebanon, that they had accepted it a few days ago.”

He revealed that “Canada had contacts with 6000 Lebanese Christian citizens”, expressing his fear of the “suspicious backgrounds behind this step, especially that it affects various social groups, and the worst is that it includes in particular the brains and energies that the country needs in this economic and living circumstance Difficult”.

Al-Duwaihi pointed out that “this matter led me to conduct an urgent visit to the patriarch, the shepherd, who responded to my request and took a decisive stance on this level.”

An international report on the level of corruption in Lebanon … This is what it says!

A new international report on the level of corruption revealed that the countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine lead the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in terms of the number of citizens who were offered bribes in exchange for selling their votes in the elections.

The report issued by Transparency International included a survey in which 6600 citizens from 6 Arab countries participated: Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia and Morocco, to be a expression of the population blocs in the largest geographical regions in the region.

The report showed that 47 percent of Lebanese participants were offered a bribe in exchange for their votes, 26 percent in Jordan, and 12 percent in Palestine.

Also, 28 percent of the Lebanese respondents said that they were threatened with the intention of pushing them to vote for a party, and this percentage decreases to 4 percent in Palestine and 3 percent in Jordan.

The sectors that received the most bribes were the police, and the Lebanese police came first, with 36 percent of the Lebanese surveyed paying bribes for police services.

On the level of public utilities services, Lebanon topped the list again, at a rate of 51 percent of respondents who said they used mediators to facilitate access to public services such as electricity and water, then Jordan and Palestine at a rate of 21 percent each.


Posted in USA, LebanonComments Off on America made its decision: saving Lebanon will not be free

The Mad Activist Impeaches Western Culture

by SUSIE DAY

Dear Hot-to-Impeach Congressional Democrats,

I thought of you when I read “Why the Ukraine Scheme Matters,” the November 25 editorial in the New York Times. As usual, Times syntax and grammar are superb and the editors’ argumentation skills fully justify the current high tuition rates at name universities. So, congrats, Impeacho-crats! The Times delivered your message: What Trump did in the Ukraine – in his own self-interest – matters.

But I am a tired, marginal, aging, rad-lib lesbo activist moonbat, and I don’t care. What’s scary is, the New York Times can sense this. I bet you can, too.

Americans, the Times writes, now know for sure that Donald Trump “orchestrated a scheme”: he coerced or quid-pro-quo’d or bribed Ukraine’s leader – against U.S. administration policy – to dig up dirt on his political opponent, so that Ukraine could actually get the military aid that Congress had already promised. Crucially, Trump did this, “all for himself, rather than in pursuit of the American national interest.”

Here is where the Times worries that I am not taking your impeachment process seriously. I presumably don’t value our Constitution or the rule of law from which it came. I’m distracted or glaze over at details from impeachment hearings that “don’t map neatly into some Americans’ idea of wrongdoing.”

My “idea of wrongdoing”? They got that right.

See, I’ve been protesting and advocating for human and ecological justice – making an ass out of my broken heart –for years. Basically, all I want is universal dignity, equality, and a living planet: the essence of which you could find embroidered on a throw pillow at a PTA crafts sale.

But, although I’d love to see Trump OUT – heaved into deep space, there to be devoured by other killer viruses – I really can’t follow your impeachment proceedings. I guess I’m what NPR commentators like to call a “civic illiterate.” I’m too exhausted and heartbroken to know just which of Trump’s acts of bribery, treason, high crimes, or misdemeanors “matters.”

Like, I don’t understand why you Democrats are so shocked that, vis-à-vis Ukraine, Trump placed his own interests over those of his country, and acted like a king, rather than an elected official. Hell, I’d be shocked if he hadn’t. In fact, most of us here in Mass-America, along with all three branches of our touted democracy, have put up with Trump acting like King Tweet for years.

So, why have you waited, Impeacho-crats? Why didn’t you take Trump to Subpoena-City when he was pulling out of nuclear arms treaties or climate accords or mutilating the Supreme Court or gutting voting rights or eroding queer policy protections or implementing his anti-travel/Muslim ban or equating, as “very fine people,” Neo-Nazis with anti-racists? Could this possibly be because, technically, all those things are legal?

I’ve actually done some of research, here, to wit: the Western rule of law grew out of the Magna Carta and the subsequent need of England’s revolutionaries to argue against the divine right of kings. Over the centuries, countless enlightened and beautifully crafted words have been written about civil liberties and the rule of law, a minor example being Declaration-of-Independence signer Samuel Adams saying: “There shall be one rule of Justice for the rich and the poor.” I also visited a U.S. Government website on Courts – which Trump doesn’t seem to have wrecked yet – and saw that there are four rule-of-law principles, one being that laws should be “consistent with international human rights.”

So here’s what I don’t get, Impeacho-crats. How was Trump not acting like a king when he ordered ICE to tear children away from their parents, to throw innocent people – fleeing violence and poverty caused largely by the U.S. – into detention camps, and hold them indefinitely in lethally wretched conditions? How are these camps not “high crimes,” and why are they not mentioned as examples of “wrongdoing” in your hearings, which we’re now supposed to take seriously?

But maybe that’s just me being civically stupid. I know there’s some rule-of-law explanation. Like, legally, the president is allowed to build that border wall and destroy nonwhite immigrant lives because you figure that someday a Democratic president would want to do the same thing?

I know your congressional investigations aren’t only about the Ukraine, Impeacho-crats. There are also several House committees exploring other issues, such as Trump’s obstructing the Mueller investigation; his business profits while in office; tax returns; campaign finance/hush money; yadda yadda. But, to me, these focus more on power, finance, and bad boardroom behavior than on liberty and justice for all.

I also recognize that your legal strategy is basically de rigueur. Forty-five years ago, the House chose to hit Richard Nixon with impeachment articles concerning the Watergate break in, and not Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia or his collusion with the FBI to bring down SDS and the Black Panther Party. I guess I’ll have to trust that you are now well within correct legal parameters.

After all, are we not all backed up by that wise rule of law, which, for all its enlightenment, permitted a reality like slavery to stand for centuries as an essential component of a good and just society? So, what you are doing probably makes sense. The 21st-century takeaway from this is that, legally, genocide is not an impeachable offense.

Good luck with this, Impeacho-crats. I had wanted something more. I’m too tired to remember what it was. But I hope you can see why I’m just not that into you.

© Susie Day, 2019

Sources:

Times editorial, 11/24-5/19, “Why the Ukraine Scheme Matters”:

Trump and military aid to Ukraine:

Civic illiteracy:

Cleveland.com, “Teaching Impeachment in an age of poor civic literacy

On the Media, ” A 2011 Newsweek survey found that 70 percent of Americans didn’t even know that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. And only 26% of those surveyed in 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania could name all three branches of government….”

Nuclear arms treaties, e.g.: “Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned”

“Trump Serves Notice to Quit Paris Climate Agreement

Supreme Court, “Gorsuch comes through for Trump and big business

Voting Rights, “Trump administration has Voting Rights Act on life support

Queer rights, “Under Trump, LGBTQ Progress Is Being Reversed in Plain Sight“.

Travel/Muslim ban, “Statistics show that Trump’s “travel ban” was always a Muslim ban”:

“Very fine people,” How Trump Changed After Charlottesville”:

Rule of law:

Samuel Adams:

Rule of law, human rights:

Immigrants and camps, “Trump Is Legalizing Concentration Camps for Immigrant Families”:

“Detained. How the US built the world’s largest immigrant detention system”:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/sep/24/detained-us-largest-immigrant-detention-trump

House investigative committees:

Nixon, impeachment, Cambodia bombing:

Nixon, Black Panther Party (“”Found the tape, baby — smoking gun evidence that the Nixon administration, starting with Nixon himself, this dude was giving directives to get rid of these Black Panthers,” said Seale….”:

Posted in USAComments Off on The Mad Activist Impeaches Western Culture

Spying on Assange: the Spanish Case Takes a Turn

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, had been facing a good deal of stonewalling on the part of his British colleagues. He is overseeing an investigation into the surveillance activities of a Spanish security firm aimed at WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, during his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

De la Mata had issued a European Investigation Order (EIO) in September seeking the assistance of British authorities in trying to interview Assange on the matter. This involved allegations that David Morales, owner of the security outfit UC Global SL, “invaded the privacy of Assange and his lawyers by placing microphones inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London without consent from the affected parties.” Morales, for his part, was indicted in October on privacy violations, bribery and money laundering.

While EIO requests are generally regarded as mundane and automatic, the United Kingdom Central Authority was not so sure. De la Mata’s requests, specifically to interviewing Assange by videoconference, were initially blocked. The initial response, signed by Rashid Begun, claimed that “these types of interview are only done by the police”. The justice, Begun stated curtly, had also lacked clarity in his description of events, and the appropriate elaboration on what jurisdiction was being invoked.

It took an irritated De la Mata to retort in a subsequent letter that, “In this case, Julian Assange is a witness, not an accused party”, a point that enabled him to be interviewed by videoconference. He also reiterated that “all the events and crimes under investigation” had been clearly stated.

The question of jurisdictional bar was also given short shrift. As the alleged crimes by UC Global had taken place on Spanish territory; given that the microphones deployed against Assange had been purchased in Spain; and given that information obtained in London was uploaded to servers in UC Global SL’s headquarters in Jerez de la Frontera, a clear nexus was established.

The UK Central Authority has had a change of heart. On December 20, Assange is set to be transferred from his current maximum security abode, Belmarsh, to Westminster Magistrates Court to answer questions that will be posed by De la Mata.

To date, the evidence on Morales and the conduct of his organisation is bulking and burgeoning. It is said that the company refurbished the security equipment of the London Ecuadorean embassy in 2017, during which Morales installed surveillance cameras equipped with microphone facilities. While Ecuadorean embassy officials sought to reassure Assange that no recordings of his private conversations with journalists or legal officials were taking place, the opposite proved true.

An unconvinced Assange sought to counter such measures with his own methods. He spoke to guests in the women’s bathroom. He deployed a “squelch box” designed to emit sounds of disruption. These were treated as the measures of a crank rather than those of justifiable concern.

The stance taken by Ecuador has not shifted, despite claims by Morales that any recordings of Assange were done at the behest of the Ecuadorean secret service. Instead, Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno has used the unconvincing argument that Assange, not Ecuador, posed the espionage threat. “It is unfortunate that, from our territory and with the permission of authorities of the previous government, facilities have been provided within the Ecuadorean embassy in London to interfere in the processes of other states.” The embassy, he argued, had been converted into a makeshift “centre for spying”.

German broadcasters NDR and WDR have also viewed documents discussing a boastful Morales keen to praise his employees for playing “in the first league… We are now working for the dark side.” The dark side, it transpires, were those “American friends”, members of the “US Secret Service” that Morales was more than happy to feed samples to. NDR has added its name to those filing charges against UC Global for allegations that its own journalists were spied upon in visiting the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

The allegations have the potential to furnish a case Assange’s lawyers are hoping to make: that attaining a fair trial in the United States should he be extradited to face 18 charges mostly relating to espionage would be nigh impossible. The link between UC Global, the US intelligence services, and the breach of attorney-client privilege, is the sort of heady mix bound to sabotage any quaint notions of due process. The publisher is well and truly damned.

Not that this convinces such legal commentators as Amy Jeffress, former US Department attaché at the US embassy in London. The appropriate standard here, she surmises, is whether extradition accords with the guarantees of the UK Human Rights Act. Privacy may well be protected, but it is duly balanced, if not ditched, by the imperatives of combating crime and national security.

US outlets have been gingerly moderating the Spanish angle in the Assange affair. The New York Times, for instance, concedes that, “After President Trump took office in 2017, the CIA began espionage aimed at Mr Assange, WikiLeaks and their ties to Russian intelligence, and the Justice Department began building case against him.” A cautionary note, however, is struck: it remained “unclear whether it was the Americans who were behind bugging the embassy.”

Such reservation has infuriated journalists of Stefania Maurizi’s ilk, those who have long praised the work of WikiLeaks and paid visits to Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy. “Appalling,” she tweeted, “how the NY Times minimise the spying activities against all of us inside the embassy: my phones were secretly unscrewed, all my electronic equipment secretly accessed.”

These proceedings constitute the running down of the clock on the extradition process that promises to internationalise the US effort in punishing the publication of national security information. In the meantime, a sinking feeling is being registered by physicians concerned that Assange may not be able to withstand the trauma the legal process is evidently inflicting on him. As medical authorities from eight states have noted, “The medical situation is urgent”, so much so, in fact, that there was little time to lose. The efforts of De la Mata, at the very least, offer a temporary and much needed roadblock, if not total reprieve.

Posted in UKComments Off on Spying on Assange: the Spanish Case Takes a Turn

The Big Deal in Warren’s Prescription Drug Plan

by DEAN BAKER

Photograph Source: Chemist 4 U – CC BY 2.0

Earlier this month, Senator Warren put out a set of steps that she would put forward as president as part of a transition to Medicare for All. The items that got the most attention were including everyone over age 50 and under age 18 in Medicare, and providing people of all ages with the option to buy into the program. This buy-in would include large subsidies, and people with incomes of less than 200 percent of the poverty level would be able to enter the Medicare program at no cost.

These measures would be enormous steps toward Medicare for All, bringing tens of millions of people into the program, including most of those (people over age 50) with serious medical issues. It would certainly be more than halfway to a universal Medicare program.

While these measures captured most of the attention given to Warren’s transition plan, another part of the plan is probably at least as important. Warren proposed to use the government’s authority to compel the licensing of drug patents so that multiple companies can produce a patented drug, in effect allowing them to be sold at generic prices.

The government can do this both because it has general authority to compel licensing of patents (with reasonable compensation) and because it has explicit authority under the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act to require licensing of any drug developed in part with government-funded research. The overwhelming majority of drugs required some amount of government-supported research in their development, so there would be few drugs that would be exempted if Warren decided to use this mechanism.

These measures are noteworthy because they can be done on the president’s own authority. While the pharmaceutical industry will surely contest in court a president’s use of the government’s authority to weaken their patent rights, these actions would not require Congressional approval.

The other reason that these steps would be so important is that there is a huge amount of money involved. The United States is projected to spend over $6.6 trillion on prescription drugs over the next decade, more than 2.5 percent of GDP. This comes to almost $20,000 per person over the next decade.

This is an enormous amount of money. We spend more than twice as much per person on drugs as people in other wealthy countries.

This is not an accident. The grant of a patent monopoly allows drug companies to charge as much as they want for drugs that are necessary for people’s health or even their life, without having to worry about a competitor undercutting them.

Other countries also grant patent monopolies, but they limit the ability of drug companies to exploit these monopolies with negotiations or price controls. This is why prices in these countries are so much lower than in the United States.

But even these negotiated prices are far above what drug prices would be in a free market. The price of drugs in a free market, without patent monopolies or related protections, will typically be less than 10 percent of the US price and in some cases, less than one percent.

This is because drugs are almost invariably cheap to manufacture and distribute. They are expensive because government-granted patent monopolies make them expensive. We have this perverse situation where the government deliberately makes drugs expensive, then we struggle with how to pay for them.

The rationale for patent monopolies is to give companies an incentive to research and develop drugs. This process is expensive, and if newly developed drugs were sold in a free market, companies would not be able to recover these expenses.

To make up for the loss of research funding supported by patent monopolies, Warren proposes an increase in public funding for research. This would be an important move towards an increased reliance on publicly funded biomedical research.

There are enormous advantages to publicly-funded research over patent monopoly-supported research. First, if the government is funding the research it can require that all results be fully public as soon as possible so that all researchers can quickly benefit from them.

By contrast, under the patent system, drug companies have an incentive to keep results secret. They have no desire to share results that could benefit competitors.

In most other contexts we quite explicitly value the benefits of open research. Science is inherently a collaborative process where researchers build upon the successes and failures of their peers. For some reason, this obvious truth is largely absent from discussions of biomedical research where the merits of patent financing go largely unquestioned.

In addition to allowing research results to be spread more quickly, public funding would also radically reduce the incentive to develop copycat drugs. Under the current system, drug companies will often devote substantial sums to developing drugs that are intended to duplicate the function of drugs already on the market. This allows them to get a share of an innovator drug’s patent rents. While there is generally an advantage to having more options to treat a specific condition, most often research dollars would be better spent trying to develop drugs for conditions where no effective treatment currently exists.

Under the patent system, a company that has invested a substantial sum in developing a drug, where a superior alternative already exists, may decide to invest an additional amount to carry it through the final phases of testing and the FDA approval process. From their vantage point, if they hope that a successful marketing effort will allow them to recover its additional investment costs, they would come out ahead.

On the other hand, in a system without patent monopolies, it would be difficult for a company to justify additional spending after it was already clear that the drug it was developing offered few health benefits. This could save a considerable amount of money on what would be largely pointless tests.

Also, as some researchers have noted, the number of potential test subjects (people with specific conditions) is also a limiting factor in research. It would be best if these people were available for testing genuinely innovative drugs rather than ones with little or no incremental value.

Ending patent monopoly pricing would also take away the incentive for drug companies to conceal evidence that their drugs may not be as safe or effective as claimed. Patent monopolies give drug companies an incentive to push their drugs as widely as possible.

That is literally the point of patent monopoly pricing. If a drug company can sell a drug for $30,000 that costs them $300 to manufacture and distribute, then they have a huge incentive to market it as widely as possible. If this means being somewhat misleading about the safety and effectiveness of their drug, that is what many drug companies will do.

The opioid crisis provides a dramatic example of the dangers of this system. Opioid manufacturers would not have had the same incentive to push their drugs, concealing evidence of their addictive properties, if they were not making huge profits on them.

Unfortunately, this is far from the only case where drug companies have not accurately presented their research findings when marketing their drugs. The mismarketing of the arthritis drug Vioxx, which increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes, is another famous example.

We can try to have the FDA police marketing, but where there is so much money at stake in putting out wrong information, we can hardly expect it to be 100 percent successful in overcoming the incentives from the large profits available. There is little reason to think that the FDA will be better able to combat the mismarketing of drugs, than law enforcement agencies have been in stopping the sale of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs. Where you have large potential profits, and willing buyers, government enforcement is at a serious disadvantage.

It is also worth mentioning that the whole story of medical care is radically altered if we end patent monopolies on drugs and medical equipment, an area that also involves trillions of dollars over the next decade. We face tough choices on allocating medical care when these items are selling at patent protected prices, whether under the current system of private insurance or a Medicare for All system.

Doctors and other health care professionals have to decide whether the marginal benefits of a new drug or higher quality scan is worth the additional price. But if the new drug costs roughly the same price as the old drug and the highest quality scan costs just a few hundred dollars (the cost of the electricity and the time of the professionals operating the machine and reading the scan), then there is little reason not to prescribe the best available treatment. Patent monopoly pricing in these areas creates large and needless problems.

In short, Senator Warren’s plans on drugs are a really huge deal. How far and how quickly she will be able to get to Medicare for All will depend on what she can get through Congress. But her proposal for prescription drugs is something she would be able to do as president, and it will make an enormous difference in both the cost and the quality of our health care.

Posted in HealthComments Off on The Big Deal in Warren’s Prescription Drug Plan

Gen Z and Free Speech

by NICK PEMBERTON

Photograph Source: Brian Turner – CC BY 2.0

The Knight Foundation released a study that details the attitudes surrounding free speech in our precious young people today. Generational tension is on the rise as young people confront the richer and more conservative “Boomer” generation. Among the many divides is the attitude towards free speech.

Women and people of color feel more socially empowered than past generations even as economic prospects become slimmer and slimmer. This has led to a reactionary boomer weaponization against the marginalized and their allies that takes its form in a myriad of ways. One of these ways, perhaps not the most harmful and certainly one of the more legally acceptable is the use of free speech as a weapon of oppression.

But the divide isn’t so much a generational one as it is a gender and racial one. The Knight Foundation finds: “There has been a modest increase in average support among students for the first amendment. However, there are significant differences in First Amendment support by race across all years, and gender, beginning in 2011.” Interestingly enough this means that white (presumably heteronormative) males not only are more in favor of free speech than ever before but so much in favor that they outweigh all other identity groups who have become more skeptical.

The Knight Foundation continues: “Boys and white students are less inclined than girls and students of color to agree with the statement: “The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.”” On the flip side Donald Trump and the Republican Party have effectively organized around a mythical liberal consensus that infringes on the freedoms of free-thinking fascists.

From this dynamic, we see that Mr. Trump has done more to endanger the First Amendment than help it, based on his threatening and dangerous speech. By making speech itself the terror Mr. Trump can effectively mobilize his base against the poor and vulnerable while at the same time leaving many feeling as if free speech itself is the danger. This can at the same time lead to a distrust of the supposedly neutral right of free speech, which in turn justifies restrictions on speech by the very same forces that frame hate speech as free speech.

The result of this dynamic is an overall distrust of the system and the whittling away of free speech protections for journalists, activists and whistleblowers who are speaking truth to power. Note the contraction between Mr. Trump’s championing of free (hate) speech and his treatment of anyone who dares to question his tyrant rule.

Hence we find that the right to free speech has not only gone too far but has not gone far enough. It should be possible to interpret the right to speech ambiguously, just as Mr. Trump has. Hate speech can be used against corporate rule, and this speech should be free. Love speech can be used for those most marginalized by words and deeds of hate, and this speech should be free. But if marginalized people are saying free speech has gone too far perhaps we need to seriously evaluate what it means to be free.

Does freedom entail private property, exclusive speech, deportations, violence against protestors, slave labor in poor and dark communities, and subjection of woman? If this is freedom then perhaps freedom has gone too far. Martin Luther King Jr. got it right when he said no one is free until we are all free. This is not just a relationship of idealism or solidarity he is speaking about but also a very concrete definition of the emancipation of souls.

The hateful person is not free, for they handcuff themselves to the person they hate and it is only in this joint destruction that the hateful person finds any form of self-expression. No one can deny this act of self-actualization is itself an expression of freedom but if freedom can only be achieved through enslavement to mastery itself then freedom has gone too far. It is no surprise that it is those who are most enslaved that can accurately problematize freedom. In other words, freedom of anything, including speech, should not only be limited to its negative form but also should be possible in its positive form.

How then should we deal with these contradictions? The Knight Foundation argues that today’s education does more for students asking these sorts of questions about their rights: “At the curricular level, schools also have evolved in terms of both the content of civics education and general pedagogical approaches, which look nothing like the staged, lecture-based classroom model of prior generations in many high schools.”

The First Amendment specifically has become more prominent in schools. The number of students who have taken a class that dealt with the First Amendment has gone up from 58% in 2004 to 72% in 2006, according to the study.

Social media, much-maligned, has had fascinating effects: “the course of the surveys, there has been evidence that news consumption is associated with stronger First Amendment support. In 2011, the survey first noted student use of social media to access “news and information” were more likely to signal greater support for free expression rights.” This information presents a contradiction that classical liberals and conservatives have to address. Is social media creating an environment for free speech or false speech? Or more crucially, is there a difference?

The contradiction deepens: “53% of students agree that ”social media stifles free expression because people are afraid of being attacked or shamed by those who disagree with them.” More than two-thirds of students (69%) believe that it is “too easy for people to say things anonymously on social media.”” The majority of youth then see social media as both going too far and not far enough in terms of free speech. This opinion which can make little sense legally perhaps shows the speed at which social media has taken over society’s discourse and news consumption.

Also of note: “Generally speaking, the Midwest and West were the most supportive of First Amendment rights, as of 2018, whereas the students in the Northeast and South were more likely to believe the First Amendment goes too far.” Has the First Amendment become a swing issue or are its split in demographics more complicated than the polarized American public in general?

It is hard to know what to think exactly. For those silly boomers, social media has mostly made fascism more accessible and reductive. Although for young people it is often used to unpack lies of American Empire. And yet at the same time discourse across the political spectrum has become so degraded, vulgar and ideological one is almost begging for a boomer to step in for civility’s sake. Bullying and hierarchy remain dangers across the age spectrum. Kids stuff people into lockers, adults send them into bankruptcy. Speech remains a complex question of freedom and oppression, but there is little nuance in capital: it should not be free, it should be highly regulated, and when possible, abolished, for it has no human questions or intent. The only intent of capital is malice.

Read the full study here.

Posted in USAComments Off on Gen Z and Free Speech

Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides

by COLIN TODHUNTER

Photograph Source: Andy Powell – CC BY 2.0

The UK-based Independent online newspaper recently published an article about a potential link between air pollution from vehicles and glaucoma. It stated that according to a new study air pollution is linked to the eye condition that causes blindness.

The report explained that researchers had looked at vision tests carried out on more than 111,000 people across Britain between 2006 and 2010 and cross-referenced results against levels of air pollution in their neighbourhoods. Those living in areas with higher amounts of fine particulate matter were at least 6% more likely to have glaucoma than those in the least polluted areas.

Glaucoma affects half a million people in the UK and can cause blindness if left untreated. However, the study cited by The Independent, published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, was unable to prove that air pollution was a trigger.

Following the article, environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason put together a 20-page report on glyphosate and has sent it out to key public health officials and media outlets, including The Independent’s editor. In her report, she states that the European Chemicals Agency classifies glyphosate as a substance that causes serious eye damage and is toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects. But she claims that the media still remains silent on the matter. Even in UK towns and cities, glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide is still being sprayed on weeds and super-weeds which have become Roundup-resistant.

Mason implores The Independent and other mainstream media outlets to write with honesty about the use and harmful effects of glyphosate-based weedicides and other agrochemicals. She quotes the UN expert on Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, who in 2017 urged the EU to put children’s health before pesticides. Children form the most vulnerable part of the population as pesticides can adversely affect their development.

Offering insight into the incidence of cataracts in England, Mason notes that annual rates of admission for cataract surgery rose 10‐fold from 1968 to 2004: from 62 episodes per 100,000 population to 637. A 2016 study by the WHO also confirmed that the incidence of cataracts had greatly increased: in ‘A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks’ it says that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Globally, cataracts are responsible for 51% of blindness. An estimated 20 million individuals suffer from this degenerative eye disease.

Mason discusses long waiting lists for cataracts in England. Because the NHS cannot cope with the pressure, private companies are cashing in. The growing demand for cataract operations is forcing the NHS to send increasing numbers of patients to be treated privately.

In Wales, where Mason resides, 35,000 patients are at risk of going blind from macular degeneration and glaucoma while on the NHS waiting list. All the municipal councils in Wales use glyphosate-based herbicides. Glyphosate now accounts for about 50% of all herbicide use in the US. About 75% of glyphosate use has occurred since 2006, with the global glyphosate market projected to reach $11.74 billion by 2023.

Figures for the use of glyphosate in the UK show a similar trend, which Mason has documented in her many reports. And let us not forget at this point that the current Conservative government regards Brexit as an ideal opportunity to usher in crops that have been genetically engineered to withstand the application of glyphosate or similar chemicals. The agrochemicals sector stands in the wings salivating at the prospect. This has nothing to do with boosting yields or ‘feeding the world’ as Boris Johnson asserts (claims which fail to stand up to scrutiny) but has everything to do with facilitating industry ambitions.

Never in history has a chemical been used so pervasively. Glyphosate is in our air, water, plants, animals, grains, vegetables and meats. It’s in beer and wine, children’s breakfast cereal and snack bars and mother’s breast milk. It’s even in our vaccines.

Of course, the power of the pesticides companies has been well noted. In 2017, global agrochemical corporations were severely criticised by UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver. A report presented to the UN human rights council accused them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions.”

The report authored by Hilal Elver and Baskut Tuncak says pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning. Its authors said: “It is time to create a global process to transition toward safer and healthier food and agricultural production.”

Hilal Elver says:

“Using more pesticides is nothing to do with getting rid of hunger.  According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), we are able to feed nine billion people today. Production is definitely increasing, but the problem is poverty, inequality and distribution.”

Elver said many of the pesticides are used on commodity crops, such as palm oil and soy, not the food needed by the world’s hungry people:

“The corporations are not dealing with world hunger; they are dealing with more agricultural activity on large scales.”

Mason notes that chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to a range of diseases and conditions and that certain pesticides can persist in the environment for decades and pose a threat to the entire ecological system on which food production depends. The excessive use of pesticides contaminates soil and water sources, causing loss of biodiversity and destroying the natural enemies of pests. The impact of such overuse also imposes staggering costs on national economies. Moreover, the use of neonicotinoid pesticides is particularly worrying because they are linked to a systematic collapse in the number of bees around the world. Some 71% of crop species are bee pollinated.

Mason goes on to describe the various lawsuits in the US against Bayer (which bought Monsanto) and the tactics used by Monsanto to conceal glyphosate-based Roundup’s carcinogenicity, including capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists and engaging in scientific fraud to delay its day of reckoning.

Following the court decision to award in favour of Dewayne Johnson, attorney Robert Kennedy Jr said the following at the post-trial press conference:

“… you not only see many people injured, but you also see a subversion of democracy. You see the corruption of public officials, the capture of agencies that are supposed to protect us all from pollution. The agencies become captured by the industries they are supposed to regulate. The corruption of science, the falsification of science, and we saw all those things happen here. This is a company (Monsanto) that used all of the plays in the playbook developed over 60 years by the tobacco industry to escape the consequences of killing one of every five of its customers… Monsanto… has used those strategies…”

There is now also a good deal of scientific evidence linking glyphosate to obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease and brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts. Strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10. Researchers also peg glyphosate as a potent endocrine disruptor, which interferes with sexual development in children.

The compound is also a chelator that removes important minerals from the body, including iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and molybdenum. Roundup disrupts the microbiome destroying beneficial bacteria in the human gut and triggering brain inflammation and other ill effects.

Neurotransmitter changes in the brain have been detected due to exposure to glyphosate. This is why, according to Mason, there are so many mental health and psychiatric disorders, depression, suicides, anxiety and violence among children and adults. It is even found in popular breakfast cereals marketed for UK children.

And this says nothing about the cocktail of pesticides sprayed on crops. The Soil Association and PAN UK have indicated that exposure to mixtures of pesticides commonly found in UK food, water and soil may be harming the health of both humans and wildlife. A quarter of all food and over a third of fruit and vegetables consumed in the UK contain pesticide cocktails, with some items containing traces of up to 14 different pesticides.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment has identified the rights threatened by environmental harm, including the rights to life, health, food and water and has mapped obligations to protect against such harm from private actors. In effect, where pesticides are concerned, the public are being denied the right to a healthy environment.

But it’s not just the powerful pesticides lobby that is to blame here. Rosemary Mason says the British public (and indeed people across the world) have a right to information. However, she concludes that the public have been denied this because mainstream media outlets have on the whole for too long opted to remain silent on the pesticides issue.

Posted in USAComments Off on Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides

The U-Turn That Made America Staggeringly Unequal

by BOB LORD

Photograph Harrie van Veen – CC BY 2.0

Wealth in America has concentrated — and dramatically so — over the past four decades. Since 1980, note wealth researchers Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the top 0.1 percent share of the nation’s total wealth has more than doubled, from under 10 percent in 1980 to over 20 percent today. In a nation of over 125 million households, just one ten-thousandth of those households — some 12,500 — now control over 10 percent of our wealth.

But can numerical abstractions like these help us truly grasp the reality of the inequality that’s overtaken America? Or are these numbers too, well, abstract?

Let’s come at this from a slightly different angle. Let’s look at actual wealthy American families.

Forbes magazine has been annually spotlighting our nation’s 400 largest fortunes since 1982. By comparing the 1982 and 2019 Forbes listings, we can get a remarkably vivid picture of how America’s wealthiest families have fared over recent years. We can even use the Forbes data to help us compare how the grand fortunes of the original and today’s Gilded Age have unfolded.

The inaugural Forbes wealth list in 1982 conveniently included wealth numbers for two sets of intergenerational wealth dynasties: those whose fortunes had taken root before 1900 — clans like the Rockefellers and the Du Ponts — and those whose fortunes blossomed much closer to 1982, like the Waltons of Walmart and the Mars candy empire. The 2019 Forbes list, in turn, offers up numbers that help us trace how that second set of dynasties has evolved.

With all this information, we can compare the fate of the Rockefellers and Du Ponts between the original Gilded Age and 1982 to the fate of the second set of intergenerational wealth dynasties between 1982 and today.

The comparison couldn’t be starker.

In 1982, the old-line Rockefeller and Du Pont families dominated the initial Forbes 400, with 13 Rockefellers and a stunning 27 Du Ponts making the list. The 13 Rockefellers listed by Forbes held a total wealth of $2.85 billion. The Du Ponts appearing on the 1982 Forbes list held $5.13 billion. In 1982, Forbes estimated that all the then-living descendants of Pierre Samuel duPont de Nemours, some 1,700 of them, held a combined fortune of $10 billion.

How does this 1982 Rockefeller and Du Pont net worth compare with the Rockefeller and Du Pont net worth back at the tail-end of the original Gilded Age? In 1918, U.S. total wealth hovered around $200 billion. John D. Rockefeller, according to a contemporary Forbes analysis, controlled $1.2 billion in wealth at that time, giving him over half of 1 percent of the nation’s entire wealth.

By 1982, the Rockefeller family share of the nation’s wealth had dropped by over 90 percent, to less than one-twentieth of 1 percent of America’s total wealth.

Similarly, in 1929, the country’s total wealth sat around $350 billion. At that time, the stock of the DuPont corporation remained privately held within the Du Pont family, and that makes valuing the net worth of the Du Ponts difficult. But we do know that the DuPont corporation held a 36 percent stake in General Motors at the time, a company then worth $3.1 billion. If we add in the value of the DuPont chemical empire, the Du Pont family share of the nation’s wealth in 1929 must have been at least 1 percent, much greater than the one-tenth of 1 percent share the Du Ponts held in 1982.

In other words, at America’s economic summit, the wealth of the original Gilded Age’s richest de-concentrated in the mid-20th-century decades before 1982.

Unfortunately, by the early 1980s, America’s wealth had begun to concentrate all over again.

The Institute for Policy Studies Billionaire Bonanza report last year identified 15 family wealth dynasties whose richest individuals appear on both the 1982 and 2018 Forbes 400 lists. Among these families, three — the Walton, Koch, and Mars dynasties — have seen their wealth increase nearly 6,000 percent since 1982. These three dynasties now hold a combined $348.7 billion.

And what about the share of the nation’s wealth these families hold? The wealth share held by the Walton, Mars, and Koch families has increased 29-fold, 9-fold and 11-fold, respectively, since 1982.

America’s wealthiest families aren’t just increasing their share of the nation’s wealth. Even more stunning: The individual heirs of the new wealth dynasties Forbesidentified in 1982 hold a greater share of the nation’s wealth today than did the patriarchs who forged these dynasties.

That didn’t happen with the Rockefeller and Du Pont fortunes. John D. Rockefeller’s grand private fortune dispersed into ever smaller chunks, first to his children, then to their children. By the third generation, no individual Rockefeller had a personal fortune — and a share of the nation’s wealth — anywhere close to the fortune and wealth share that John D. personally held.

In the Du Pont family, the wealthiest individual Du Pont heir on the 1982 Forbes list — Lammot du Pont Copeland — held just a tiny fraction of the national wealth share his uncle Pierre controlled during the Gilded Age. How tiny? Pierre’s wealth share outpaced Lammot’s by over 100 times.

Compare that to the trajectory of the Walton family fortune after 1982. The three living children of the legendary Sam Walton each hold a share of the nation’s wealth over eight times the share held by their old man in 1982. Lukas Walton, Sam’s grandson, sports a net worth of over $18 billion and a share of American wealth nearly triple the wealth share his grandfather held.

Will the current trajectory continue? Will our richest families hold ever increasing shares of the country’s wealth, with individual members of these families each holding wealth far greater than their fortunate forbears held? A generation from now, will Sam Walton’s great-grandchildren own a larger share of the nation’s wealth than Sam did in 1982?

Unless American tax policy changes, the answers to those questions will all be “yes.”

So let’s change that policy. Let’s tax our billionaires!

Posted in USAComments Off on The U-Turn That Made America Staggeringly Unequal

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