Archive | January 10th, 2020

Massive All-India General Strike Protests Modi’s Pro-investor, Communalist Policies

By Deepal Jayasekera and Keith Jones

Tens of millions of Indian workers, youth and rural toilers joined a one-day nationwide general strike yesterday to protest the Bharatiya Jananta Party (BJP) government’s pro-investor and communalist policies.

Since winning re-election last May, with massive big business and corporate media support, the BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dramatically escalated its assault on the working class. Through changes to the country’s labour laws, it is promoting the proliferation of precarious contract-labour jobs and further limiting workers’ right to strike and organise. It has also dramatically accelerated the privatisation of public sector enterprises, moving forward with plans to sell off India’s railways, open up the coal industry to private investors, and privatise Air India and Bharat Petroleum. It has also provided big business with another bonanza by slashing the corporate tax rate by 8 percentage points, or more than a quarter.

At the same time, with the aim of splitting the working class and mobilising its Hindu-supremacist base as a battering ram against mounting social opposition, the Modi government has taken a series of provocative steps targeting the country’s Muslim minority. These include illegally abolishing the special, semi-autonomous constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, hitherto India’s only Muslim-majority state, and, last month, rushing into law a discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Yesterday’s strike was called by 10 central union federations, and had the explicit support of the Stalinist parliamentary parties—the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM and the Communist Party of India (CPI)—and the implicit support of the big business Congress Party, with whom the Stalinists are closely aligned.

Key union demands—formulated in a 12-point charter—include measures to provide jobs for the unemployed, now estimated to number 73 million or almost 8 percent of the workforce; basic social protections for all workers; and increases in pensions and the derisory minimum wage. The strike also demanded the repeal of the CAA and the scrapping of the government’s plan to force all of the country’s 1.3 billion residents to prove their entitlement to Indian citizenship, a scheme transparently aimed at intimidating and harassing the Muslim minority.

The corporate media, big business, and the Modi government are all trying to downplay the impact of yesterday’s protest strike.

However, while the strike’s size and scope did vary across states and sectors of the economy, there is no doubt that it had a massive impact overall, and that yesterday’s action attested to both the growing militancy and the immense social power of the working class.

According to the Stalinist-led Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), 35 million bus, truck, and auto rickshaw drivers joined the strike. In many urban centres, including in the eastern Indian states of West Bengal, Odisha, and Bihar, and in Kerala in the southwest, much or most of public transport was shut down.

Bank workers also joined the strike in huge numbers to protest the BJP government’s plans to merge and privatise many state-owned banks, which, like India’s financial system as a whole, are weighed down by massive corporate debts.

Many government workers joined the strike in defiance of threats of reprisals issued by the BJP-led central government and various state governments. A central government order stated that workers who joined the strike would face “consequences,” including “deduction of wages” and “appropriate disciplinary actions.”

News reports indicate that industrial workers, including in India’s globally connected auto sector, came out in force. Outlook India reported that workers walked out at Honda Motorcycle and Scooter’s Manesar, Haryana, plant and numerous auto parts plants in the Manesar-Gurgaon industrial belt, which lies on the outskirts of India’s capital, Delhi. The strike also crippled production at the Bajaj Auto plant in Chakan, Maharashtra, and at Volvo bus and truck, Toyota car, and Bosch auto parts, and Vikrant Tyres plants in neighbouring Karnataka. Hundreds of thousands of Coal India workers in Jharkand and across India, and jute plantation workers in West Bengal also joined the strike.

The power sector was heavily hit by the strike, with electricity production down by as much as 5 percent, as 1.5 million engineers and other power workers walked out.

There was also huge support for the strike from the extremely poorly paid, state-funded Anganwadi or rural child care workers, the vast majority of whom are women.

In some states, there were mass arrests of strikers and strike supporters. In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK state government, an ally of the BJP, ordered police to arrest protesters in the state capital, Chennai, and in Coimbatore, a textile manufacturing centre, where more than a thousand people were detained.

In West Bengal, led by the Trinamool Congress (TMC), a right-wing regional rival of the BJP, there were clashes between security forces, TMC goons, and strike supporters. After strike supporters blocked trains, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went on a tirade, accusing the CPM and its Left Front allies of seeking “cheap publicity by calling bandhs [strikes] and hurling bombs at buses.”

According to the Newsclick website, farmers and agricultural workers joined rallies, road blockades and other protests in nearly 480 of India’s 732 districts, and students at 60 universities boycotted classes.

Yesterday’s strike took place amid the countrywide wave of mass protests that erupted in response to the passage of the discriminatory CAA. These protests, while spearheaded by Muslim youth, have cut across the communal, caste and ethnic divisions that the ruling elite has long cultivated so as to set working people against each other.

Roiled by the seemingly sudden, but in reality deeply-rooted, emergence of mass opposition, the BJP government has responded with massive state repression—including lethal police violence, blanket bans on protests, and Internet shutdowns—and by ratcheting up its promotion of Hindu communalism.

In late December, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat, flouting elementary democratic-constitutional principles, rallied to the government’s support, labeling the anti-CAA agitation as “violent” and chastising students for “misleading” the nation. Modi has since promoted him to be India’s first Chief of Defence Staff.

Last Sunday evening, in an outrage for which even the Hindu has held the BJP government responsible, members of the ABVP, the student group linked to the BJP and its fascistic ideological mentor, the RSS, savagely assaulted students at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). More than 40 students had to be hospitalised, many with serious injuries after being attacked with iron rods, field-hockey sticks and stones.

JNU has been an especial target of the BJP government and Hindu right since at least 2016, because of its long association with left-wing activism and socialist politics.

Meanwhile, global and domestic capital are demanding that the BJP government introduce a new wave of “big bang” neo-liberal reforms, so as to attract the investment needed to pull the Indian economy out of an accelerating slowdown.

In line with these demands, the BJP government has reportedly decided to slash its annual spending in the remaining three months of the 2019-2020 fiscal year by 2 trillion rupees (US$27.87 billion) or the annual equivalent of 7 percent. Even so, due to a massive revenue shortfall, the budget deficit is expected to swell from a planned 3.3 percent of GDP to 3.8 percent.

To gird itself to contend with mounting economic turbulence and working-class opposition, the Modi government is moving to further strengthen the Indian bourgeoisie’s reckless and incendiary anti-China alliance with Washington. On Tuesday, as Trump was discussing the next steps in the US war drive against Iran following his criminal assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Suleimani, Modi telephoned the US president. According to a White House statement, Modi and Trump discussed “ways to further strengthen the United States-India strategic partnership in 2020.”

The mounting working-class challenge to the Modi regime is part of a global upsurge in the class struggle. The past year that has seen major strikes and sustained, and in some cases insurrectionary, protest movements around the world, including in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Mexico, the United States, France, Britain, Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka.

As everywhere, the pressing task in India is to politically arm the growing working-class counter-offensive with an international socialist programme and revolutionary leadership.

In diametrical opposition to the needs and aspirations of the tens of millions of workers and youth who joined yesterday’s strike, the unions and Stalinist parties are seeking to channel the mass opposition to the BJP and the bitter fruits of three decades of India’s capitalist “rise” behind the Congress Party and a parade of right-wing ethno-chauvinist and caste-ist parties. For them, yesterday’s strike was a manoeuvre aimed at burnishing their “militant” credentials, the better to contain, defuse and suppress working-class opposition.

Their hostility to genuine class struggle is epitomised in their callous abandonment of the 13 Maruti Suzuki workers jailed for life on frame-up murder charges for the “crime” of leading resistance to contract labour and a brutal work-regime, and their pleas for Modi to resume regular meetings of the tripartite Indian Labour Conference.

For decades, in the name of opposing the Hindu supremacist BJP, the CPM, CPI and their respective union affiliates, the CITU and All India Trades Union (AITUC), have supported right-wing governments, most of them Congress-led, that implemented pro-market policies and pursued ever-closer relations with Washington.

In a statement distributed to strikers yesterday, “Indian workers need a revolutionary socialist program me to fight Modi, capitalist austerity, and communal reaction,” the World Socialist Web Site explained:

“The only viable strategy to defend democratic rights and defeat communalist and fascist reaction in India, and around the world, is one based on the international class struggle and the independent political mobil is ation of the working class against the decrepit capitalist order.”

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“Rwanda, the Truth About Operation Turquoise: When the Archives Speak”

A Book Review

By Dennis Riches

Global Research,

January 09, 2020Region: sub-Saharan AfricaTheme: HistoryMedia Disinformation

In France, it is difficult to speak about certain subjects without unleashing the guard dogs of correct thought and dominant ideology. The sensitive dossiers are well-known: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the civil-global war in Syria, and the Rwandan genocides. Even to speak of “genocides” in the plural is to take a serious risk, as the guardians of the temple have erected the singular as a totem of their religion: from April 7, 1994 until July 17, 1994, the “evil” Hutu massacred the “gentle” Tutsi. Definitively, the morality of it is always this simple.

And from then on: spread the word, as there is nothing more to comprehend because it is a matter of feeling, believing in and celebrating the Rwandan dictator as a benefactor of humanity. The case is closed.

In a succession of sleight-of-hand tricks that turned the Rwandan tragedy into a veritable historic fraud, the French military’s Operation Turquoise deserves particular attention because it has been the object of fantasy, disinformation and deceitful propaganda.

On June 22, 1994, the United Nations Security Council mandated in Resolution 929 the deployment of a multinational force, under the command of French forces in Zaire (Congo) and Rwanda, for the protection of thousands of endangered refugees.

However, for over twenty years, journalists, staff of NGO’s, researchers and, above all, the Rwandan regime, have accused France of having participated in the preparation, if not the execution of, genocide. How was such a phantasmagoria imposed to the point that it became an undisputed and ideologically dominant truth?

Ten Years of Research

To respond to this question, this book by Charles Onana reports on more than ten years of research in the archives of the French Security Council, the executive branch, the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, and the American administration of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as well as numerous first-hand witnesses’ accounts. His book methodically deconstructs one of the greatest ideological frauds of contemporary history. It illustrates that the present rulers of Rwanda impeded intervention by the UN for over two months, knowingly encouraging massacres instead of acting to stop them, in order to gain unshared power and then move on to the conquest of Zaire—with the support of Uganda, the United States, Great Britain, and, to a lesser degree, Belgium.

Born on February 18, 1964, Charles Onana is no dilettante on this subject. With a doctorate in political science, this French-Cameroonian researcher has become known for several studies made in collaboration with our friend Pierre Péan (deceased in the summer of 2019) on Africa and the Great Lakes region, Palestine, and other armed conflicts. His milestone was his pioneering work on African sharpshooters of the French military during WWII. He managed the Pan-African Organization of Independent Journalists, for which he led an inquiry into the assassination of Norbert Zongo, a journalist from Burkina Faso. He has authored over twenty works, among them: The Tutsi Killers at the Heart of the Congolese Tragedy (2009), Al-Bashir and Darfour: The Couter-Inquiry (2010), Cote d’Ivoire: the Coup d’Etat (2011), Europe, Crimes and Censure in the Congo (2012), France in the Rwandan Terror (2014), Palestine, the French Malaise (2015).

Prefaced by Colonel Luc Marchal, former head of the blue helmets of the Kigali sector of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda [1993/10-1996/03], this first scientific study devoted to Operation Turquoise begins by presenting its sources and its methodology. After coverage of the historic and political context, Charles Onana explains how the attack of April 6, 1994—on the plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi (Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira)—ignited the terrible machinery: “the massacres of civilians began effectively in the capital on April 7, 1994, after the announcement of the assassination of the Rwandan head of state. They would then spread throughout the country at the initiative of armed groups against the entire Rwandan population. Yet the mode for designating victims would never be founded on a detailed and deep inquiry, but rather done in haste under the emotions of the time.”

The Assumption of Power

At the time of the massacres, many journalists reported that the presidential guard and elements of FAR (Forces Armées Rwandaise) were committing atrocities against Tutsis and Hutus. Certainly, a few witnessed equally criminal acts committed by rebels of the RPA/RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Army/Rwandan Patriotic Front) during the same period. Among the few rare journals that were paying attention to the advance of the RPF there was Liberation, on May 19, 1994 (editor’s note: Liberation’s objective reporting did not last long) which evoked “bloody reprisals by the Rwandan guerrilla forces” before adding, “contrary to what they always promised, soldiers of the RPF had themselves begun to target civilian populations that had not succeeded in fleeing from the conflict.”

Charles Onana refocuses as well on this question, writing, “Far from the purely ethnic question that all journals refer to, it is rather the ‘sharing of power’ required by the Arusha Accords, or the non-sharing of power, that seems to be the heart of the problem. In other words, was the RPF disposed to share power with Hutus of the interim government at the moment it had a military advantage and preferred to fight until it could totally dominate?”

The testimony of the special representative of the UN Secretary General in Rwanda was along the same lines:

“Considering that victory was within reach, the RPF proved itself to be unreceptive to having informal contact with organizers of a meeting between the parties. It insisted on the dissolution of the interim government and the presidential guard… The special representative of the UN, the secretary general of the OUA and the international community were accused of doing nothing to stop the massacres and being complicit with the interim government. This excessive assertions led to the abandonment of the Arusha Accords by everyone targeted by the RPF, including Western diplomats.” [See translator’s note 1 about the special representative, Jacques-Roger Booh Booh.]

The attitude of the RPF in the massacres of civilians in 1994 remains a great taboo. No one has the right to speak of it, even the dissidents of this movement. If the image of the FPR has long been one of a “sympathetic national liberation movement opposed to the Habyarimana dictatorship, its positions and behavior during the massacres finished by revealing its Machiavellian and criminal side,” write Charles Onana. He sets out as rationally as possible the Rwandan and French context at the time the decision was made to undertake Operation Turqoise—a context of political “co-existence” within the country and of hostility outside of it. Clearly, when the French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur saw what was at stake from the point of view of domestic politics, President François Mitterrand saw what was at stake geopolitically.

The author of these lines above remembers having covered the OAU summit (at the time the African Union was still called the “Organization” of African Unity) in Tunis from June 13-15, 1994. The delegation was concerned mainly with the big issue at the summit: Nelson Mandela himself was ceaselessly imploring François Mitterrand to do something to attempt to staunch the massacres that were continuing against the Rwandan refugees heading for Zaire. The former oldest prisoner in the world—then having been president of South African for one month—estimated that the needed operation by the UN would take months and that only France, with its prepositioned forces in Africa, could intervene.

From Genocide to Accusations Against Turquoise

The term “genocide” was not applied at first because neither the United Nations nor the OAU, nor the Red Cross used this term. Its use, initiated with the help and support of the permanent delegation of the Czech Republic and the United States, encountered numerous opponents at the UN. It was then the close contacts undertaken by Colin Keating—ambassador for New Zealand and president of the Security Council—with the RPF which led to the first use of the term, relaying it officially within the United Nations and its technical agencies.[See translator’s note 2 below on why the term “genocide” was thought to be problematic.]

The US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, did the rest, and the United States validated, without the least reservation, and very officially, the pressing demand of the RPF to retain the term “genocide” and to qualify the massacres in Rwanda as such. This qualification was thus retained without prior examination or inquiry. Its validation would never be submitted to review by professional magistrates, nor by any international jurisdiction.

Charles Onana writes,

“The French Minister of Cooperation, Bernard Debre, would say with notable courage: two genocides had been committed, and the leading power of the world wanted that there should only be one because that suited its interests.”

Thus the foundation of an emotional ideological reconstruction was assured for the “genocides” and the attacks that were going to follow. The first accusations launched against Operation Turquoise were not initiated by French journalists or media. It was the American press that took a position and fired the first shot. From the month of April, shortly after the attack on President Habyarimana’s plane, several American newspapers blamed France. It was notably the International Herald Tribune, distributed in close to 180 countries around the world, that on April 14th published an article by “journalist” Frank Smyth entitled “French money is behind the over-arming of Rwanda.”

From then on the parrots of the Parisian press—in a permanent state of admiration and a quasi-colonial intellectual dependence on the American press—would relay a dossier cleverly promoted by the American NGO Human Rights Watch. It was taken up in Belgium and France by a very strange and shady organization named “Survie” which was literally obsessed with “Françafrique.”[Translator’s note 3] It operated on the premise that the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel had no idea where Africa was and that only France had any influence on the continent. This organization would never cease to incriminate French authorities and Operation Turquoise.

In this “journalistic” affiliation a number of “useful idiots” would flourish—self-proclaimed prosecutors, if not obsessed neurotics, who would peddle the fraudulent narrative. Charles Onana writes, “In invoking regularly and uniquely the support, as a real presence, of France to the Rwandan regime ‘before’ the massacres (until 1993), and in revealing only the actions of Rwandan government troops during the long civil and international war, but not describing in parallel those of the rebels and not mentioning the origin of their arms and their support, the French press, in quasi-totality, played a role in dismissing an essential part of the reality and presenting facts in a partial or incomplete way. The treatment of information thus, from the start, was unbalanced and truncated. This asymmetry would necessarily affect the intelligibility of the conflict and have consequences for the image of all actors in the conflict.”

Fear changed sides

The most violent attacks on Operation Turquoise appeared in the daily L’Humanité, which were then relayed by le Figaro which pounded—from the beginning—the administration of President Mitterand and Prime Minister Balladur. In this context, Liberation and L’Express would definitively take up the role of scandalmongers, while Le Monde—tying up with an anti-militarism left over from 1968—would specialize in systematically denigrating the French military.

In some cases it was the officers of Operation Turquoise themselves who were copiously dragged through the mud and personally slandered, as if it was a matter of establishing a supposed continuity with the Algerian war, in order to perpetrate bad conscience and tenacious hatred toward a France that remained “colonial” in its essence. While he was chief editor of Radio France International, the author was able to see the power of this ideological machinery: the political commissars of the organization Survie called directly to editors of “Service Afrique,” certain members of which were in permanent contact with the Embassy of Israel in Paris.

In effect, the other great trait of the mythology of the “singular” Rwandan genocide consisted of comparing it—stricto sensu—to the holocaust of WWII. Even if in the study of history comparison seldom rhymes with reason, there was suddenly a surge of all the water carriers of the Israeli cause, even launching defamation suits against free thinkers who disagreed with the dominant view. One must not forget also that in the context of a dreadful intellectual terrorism, inviting the investigator Pierre Péan had become a cause for termination!

It is some of the persons in this study—and the author of the book reviewed here is one of them—to whom we are indebted for a gradual re-establishment of the truth, notably concerning Operation Turquoise. At the time, the author reported on Swiss television (TSR), on many occasions, about the much decried Operation Turquoise. Based on his first-hand experience, he told how French soldiers assisted refugees, bringing them medical care, water and food; how in Goa, Congo, they had buried victims of cholera in order to stop the spread of the epidemic, how they had saved thousands of refugees who would have certainly died otherwise.

In paying homage to these soldiers—most of them very young, and who were then the face of France—I could not help but recall the words of Nelson Mandela to François Mitterrand: “Do something!”

Yes, this book by Charles Onana is “definitive” because, illuminated by undisputable multiple sources and testimonies, not only does he restore the historical truth (without closing the field to further research) but he also makes fear and indignation change sides. This book leads to an inescapable conclusion: from the common soldier to the highest military and political officials, Operation Turquoise saved—yes, saved!—thousands of lives. From the common soldier to those with the highest responsibility, this overseas deployment of French armed forces deserves our respect and admiration.

A question of honor

And if fear has thus changed sides and made it possible today to finally give much deserved honor to all the men and women of Operation Turquoise, it is also because its commander—General Jean-Claude Lafourcade—battled relentlessly to defend the honor of the mission accomplished.

When he was named as the head of the operation in June 1994, he was a brigade general of the 11th parachute division in Toulouse. Named as commander of the Legion of Honor in 2000, he would be successively deputy chief of staff of ground forces, chief commander of the armed forces of New Caledonia, then commander of ground forces (CFAT) in Lille.

How could such a man, supposedly so tarnished, have had such a career path? Yet Jean-Claude Lafourcade would also preside over the France-Turquoise Association which fought step by step against all the calumnies hurled against the actions of our country in Rwanda. Ignored by the Parisian press, his book Operation Turquoise-Rwanda 1994, written with journalist Guillaume Riffaud, cleared the way. In January 2016, General Lafourcade was a witness (témoin assisté) [Translator’s note 4] in a judicial inquiry pertaining (information judiciaire) to “complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity” that targeted French military personnel. These procedures all failed abruptly, not interfering with his ability to pursue the fight necessary to re-establish “honor” during a time when there was so little of it.

Other honorable men should be mentioned here: Admiral Marin Gillier, whose career was distinguished by an assignment in the Special Forces, in particular with the French Combat Swimmers.

His knowledge of Arabic led him to counter-terrorism activities and the fight against radical Islamic fighters. Duties at the Ministry of Defense led him to work in establishing rule of law in different national and international formats. Out of uniform, he took on several private duties: l’association Nazaréens au Cœur (NauC) which welcomed families having fled Iraq and Syria after the rise of Dae’ch [ISIS] there. Another was Night of the Handicapped, a gathering in public places, once a year, for passersby, organizations and institutions involved with vulnerable and handicapped people to share a moment of conviviality and brotherhood.

On this horizon line of restored honor, a third musketeer stands out among many others: Colonel Jacques Hogard, who was a commander of the Foreign Legion at the time Operation Turquoise. In 2005, his testimony about his participation—Tears of Honor: Sixty Days in the Torment of Rwanda—was published by Hugo. It asserts that the person responsible for the attack of April 6, 1994, which killed the Rwandan and Burundian presidents, was indeed Paul Kagame. He accuses American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright of having delayed the deployment of an international force to end the massacres. On May 13, 2009, with a number of other former officers of the French Army that served in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994, he was distinguished with a decree from the President of the Republic and promoted to officer of the Legion of Honor. He is appreciated for other books revealing other truths such as: Europe Died in Pristina: War in Kosovo (1999, 2014).

It is in such good company that Charles Onana concludes his book, writing,

“Even in the present day, French political leaders, almost apathetic and resigned, are always little inclined to effectively and courageously defend their soldiers, in particular those of Operation Turquoise in the face of endless ignominious and defamatory accusations, a situation that would be totally unimaginable in the United States if it were a matter concerning American soldiers.”

Posted in Africa, Literature, RWANDA0 Comments

John Kerry Did It

By Ann Garrison

Global Research, January 09, 2020Region: USATheme: History

The Democratic National Committee’s scapegoating began early in 2016, months before wall building, climate change denying, health care abolishing, tax dodging, spewing demagogue Donald Trump surprised everyone including himself by taking the White House. First Wikileaks elected Trump by releasing 19,252 DNC emails plus attachments on the eve of the Democratic Party Convention. Then Russia did it. Russia helped Wikileaks do it. Then Jill Stein and the Green Party did it. They all did it together.

Of course the Green Party does it every presidential election year, but in 2016, we doubled down to elect the most fearsome Republican Godzilla yet. (Because he shares our core values: ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence.) Jill Stein even had her picture taken during her citizen diplomacy trip to Russia, just as Vlad the Impaler had stopped by her banquet table.

And now, according to Hillary Clinton, the Green Party is scheming to do it again by grooming Hawaii’s Democratic House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, author of the stillborn Stop Arming Terrorists Act, to accept the Green Party presidential nomination—but only if Jill Stein, our dastardly 2012 and 2016 candidate, stands down. We did it, Russia did it, Wikileaks did it, and we’re all going to do it again. Wikileaks is still afloat on the Internet even as its founder Julian Assange is tortured in Belmarsh Prison, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melsner.

One thing the DNC lynch mob and its corporate media would like us to forget is that one of their own, John Kerry, did it in 2004. The Greens couldn’t do it that year because our candidate, David Cobb, chose to campaign only in the “safe states” to avoid the opprobrium we’d been subjected to ever since Bush stole Florida and the Dems blamed our 2000 candidate, Ralph Nader.

Kerry knew that George Bush and the Republican Party stole the 2004 election from him in Ohio after his voters reported that their votes appeared as Bush votes even though they pulled the lever for Kerry, and after people in majority Democratic districts stood in long lines in thunderstorms and torrential rain waiting to vote (or went home) while majority district Republicans voted easily. Kerry’s patrician memoir “Every Day Is Extra” includes this comic description of another concern:“Some on the team were bothered by the fact that many voting machines came from a private company, Diebold, owned by two Nebraska brothers who were the chairs of the Bush campaign for president.

“I wonder how many countries have elections in which the machines are privately owned and controlled, where the coding for the tallying cannot be inspected or verified because it is ‘proprietary information.’”

Kerry also wrote that he anticipated fraud but hoped for such a clear outcome that he wouldn’t need to contest. When that bubble burst he chose not to expose the rot at the core of our so-called democracy, although, of course, he didn’t put it that way.

As soon as he and his team realized Bush had stolen it again, he wrote, they went into deep deliberations about what to do. His vice presidential candidate, John Edwards, thought they should contest, but both knew that they might win their way past several appeals courts only to lose in the Supreme Court, as Al Gore had.

Why not tell Americans, and the rest of the world, the truth?

Because, Kerry wrote, he was “deeply concerned about a nation at war, with the world looking at us, coming out of a second consecutive election, where we would be sitting in limbo, wondering for the next six weeks or more who the president would be.”

But why should anyone have been surprised by that? In 2003, John Kerry had voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, and during his campaign, he stood by his vote. Discussing national security, he said:“ . . . we must launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post-9/11 world. America must always be the world’s paramount military power. But we can magnify our power through alliances.”

Nevertheless, people were surprised and aghast. Kerry wasn’t as crude as Bush. He wasn’t so obviously sadistic and sociopathic, so many had somehow imagined that his election would end the horrors we were inflicting on the Iraqi people and the soldiers coming home in coffins or physically and psychically mangled for life. On election eve, November 2, I had gone to see some political theater where everyone was eager to learn that the nightmare was over. Then we exited the theater space to a reception area with televisions mounted on the walls and learned that it wasn’t.

The next morning George Bush told a press conference that he had earned a lot of political capital, and he was going to use it. Five days later, on November 7, the Second Siege of Fallujah began. I stayed up much of the night listening to the BBC’s on-the-ground reporters. One described women and children trudging out of Fallujah before the battle began until some of the women turned around and ran back to shoulder surface-to-air missiles alongside their men. Then the bombs came thundering down and innocent Iraqis were blown to bits. I wondered how many bodies would even be identifiable.

Everyone of good conscience was horrified by the Iraq War, but why did anyone think John Kerry might end it? Bill Clinton took office in 1993, two years after the Soviet Union collapsed, when some of us still hoped for a peace dividend that would turn swords into ploughshares, but he never delivered. During his eight years in the White House, he:

  • constantly bombed a “no-fly zone” over Iraq;
  • caused hundreds of thousands of deaths by imposing brutal sanctions on Iraq;
  • bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan;
  • bombed Iraq to distract from his impeachment for sordid sexual behavior with an 18-yr.-old White House intern;
  • destroyed Yugoslavia with a merciless bombing campaign;

and oversaw covert operations that left millions dead in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as mining moguls from Hope, Arkansas and beyond moved in.
(Then and now, most Americans understand Congo’s ongoing agony as “ethnic conflict” if they give it any thought at all.)

Some may have also remembered John Kerry as the young veteran who campaigned passionately against the Vietnam War and even testified to Congress about its ills. But those days were long gone, and his memoir suggests that he used widespread opposition to the war as a springboard for his political career.

John Kerry wouldn’t have stopped the war, and in the end, he decided not even to let Americans know that the presidency had been stolen again and not by the Greens. We hadn’t even campaigned in the swing state of Ohio. There were no safe scapegoats in sight and, in John Kerry’s mind, the United States’ national prestige in the world was at stake. How could he justify his claim that “America must always be the world’s paramount military power” if we couldn’t even hold an honest presidential election?  In his memoir he wrote:“The decision was mine. I didn’t want to put the country through that again. It would be selfish and irresponsible. I knew some would be angry. People had a right to know that their votes were counted properly. They were correct to be incensed. But I decided I would continue that fight in a way that didn’t put our nation into banana republic status.”

It was already a bit late for that, but no one as richly rewarded by the status quo as John Kerry would want to risk rocking the boat till it ran aground or tipped over.

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is Determined You Will Have 5G Telecom Technology

By Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null

For the average American, bills that are introduced into state legislatures, especially those with bipartisan support, generally become the law of the state. But how often does the average citizen of any state review the bills in different committees or the laws passed and signed by the governors that have a direct impact upon their lives? We would imagine very few. What does it mean when a bill in California, for example, that mandates a change in an existing environmental law that protects citizens and in turn permits and protects corporations to pollute the environment, water and air with impunity? Then that same bill shows up in other states across the nation. How does that happen? One past example are bills to ban GMO labeling that were virtually the same in California, Oregon, Colorado and elsewhere. The same is true for hydro-fracking and pipeline installations, roll backs on environmental protections, public funds for charter schools, increasing the private prison system, gun rights, keeping drug costs high, etc. These are only a few examples of thousands of laws that are in place because one trade organization that represents many of the world’s largest corporations and industries has fully captured the policy narrative in many of our state legislatures. 

Today, many of us in the environmental movement consider the greatest danger to human health and the environment is going to be the full roll out of 5G technology.  This is article exposes one of the largest organizations in American that is paving the way to make 5G a reality: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The name ALEC should be a household word synonymous with corporate interests over the welfare of the public. The organization was created out of a gathering of radicalized conservative activists in Chicago in 1973. Having dreamt for a Barry Goldwater savior, conservatives got Nixon instead. The group was founded by Paul Weyrich, who had just founded the Heritage Foundation, and Lou Barnett who helped Ronald Reagan’s 1968 failed campaign for the presidency. Nevertheless, Reagan’s legacy continues to impact the organization. Its structure of “task forces” to bring elected politicians together with the leaders of private industry to draft policies for a large variety of issues — including medicine, telecommunications, regulatory policy, education, civil and criminal justice, commerce, homeland security, taxation law and energy and agriculture — has been modeled after Reagan’s national Task Force on Federalism.

Greenpeace’s Connor Gibson has described ALEC as “a one stop shopping outlet for large companies seeking state legislators to move their agenda through statehouses coast-to-coast.” And it is a “pay-to-play service” for corporations. After a whistleblower inside ALEC provided all of ALEC’s “model” bills drafted in private meetings between legislators and corporate lobbyists to the Center for Media and Democracy, we now know how and why ALEC has been so covertly successful for these past two decades.

Although the name ALEC and the Koch Brothers are frequently sounded in the same breath, Koch Industries did not join the Council until 1993. Since then, the Koch’s virtually hijacked the organization in addition to becoming its largest and most important funder. In tough times, the Kochs have been the first bail out the Council. Over the years, the Koch’s and their network of companies, foundations and organizations, such as Americans for Prosperity and Stand Together, have come to dominate the Council and steer its ideological aims.

Charles Koch’s and ALEC’s underlying philosophy about national and state governance is that the heads of private industry are far more qualified to lead the country than career politicians. Consequently the Council’s legislative infrastructure is based upon leaders of large mega-corporations colluding with elected officials to advise and construct policies, which are termed “model legislation,” before state Senates and Houses. The greater public good represented by the leaders of civil society are completely absent from the conversation. The titans of industry run the show. Benefits to private corporate interests, revenues and stock prices are all that matters. This is ALEC’s definition for economic progress.  It is Neoliberal capitalism on steroids.

ALEC claims that its membership is “comprised of nearly one-third of the country’s state legislators and stakeholders from across the policy spectrum.”  About 80 percent of these are members of the GOP. There are also about 270 industry and trade associations, conservative foundations and many of the nation’s largest mega-corporations represented. Therefore ALEC events and networks have become a paradise for large corporations to gain direct access to state legislators. PR Watch reveals that “even though many states prohibit corporations and lobbyists from influencing legislators through gifts and favors, ALEC has provided a way for special interests to sidestep these laws.” It has done so skillfully and unhampered for several decades. According to the Capital Research Center, a right-wing think tank that functions as a quasi “fusion center” to gather information on unions, environmental and liberal activist organizations for ALEC and the Heritage Foundation, about a 1,500 bills based upon ALEC’s “model legislation” are introduced to state legislative bodies annually and about 20 percent become law. We are therefore looking about 7,500 laws that were incubated in ALEC secret gatherings. And according to a Brookings Institute investigation, about 90 percent of these bills are introduced in state legislatures by Republicans. According to Brookings report, “ALEC’s Influence Over Lawmaking in State Legislatures”:

“What ALEC does during its closed-door meetings is largely a mystery…  Not only are their meetings private, but so too are their legislative successes and failures.  Specifically, we do not know where ALEC’s model bills inspired the introduction and passage of new legislation.”

Therefore it is no surprise to find ALEC’s fingerprints all over the aggressive push to roll out 5G technology across the nation.Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests. Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill

One of the more frequent fears of the 5G rollout is that small cell antenna systems will be installed throughout cities and towns in heavily populated areas. Instead of soaring cell towers removed from these areas, millions of microwave antennas will adorn power poles, streetlights and roof tops. Although these are publicly owned installations, the city councils and the public have no say in the matter. Private industry has been given carte blanche control over collocating these devices at its perusal. In the words of an ALEC member at CTIA, a national trade group representing the 5G corporate giants, “it sounds super sexy and we hope that it is.” For the rest of us, there will be no means to avoid these cells’ microwave pulses day or night. Yet it was ALEC back in early 2016 who drafted legislation to “streamline” this infrastructure in violation of zoning laws.

Last year Comcast became the latest large corporation to drop its ALEC membership after the SEC demanded the company reveal its lobbying figures and following shareholder complaints about the company’s excessive secret lobbying activities, including opposition to state internet neutrality laws.  In fact, there has been a large exodus of mega-companies leaving the ALEC family.  Since 2011, when the Center for Media and Democracy initiated its campaign to pressure corporations to leave ALEC, Comcast is the 116th firm to have done so. Others include Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Merck, Wells Fargo, Pepsi, and Coca Cola, Shell, BP, Exxon, Amgen, Visa, Sprint and T-Mobile.   Telecom giants AT&T, Cox Communications  and Verizon quit ALEC after a human rights campaign was launched against the Council for David Horowitz’s racist keynote hate speech against women, Blacks and Muslims at ALEC’s annual convention in New Orleans. Horowitz is a right-wing ideologue and the CEO of the David Horowitz Freedom Center that has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black movements.” Trump’s White Supremacist adviser Stephen Miller, who has been accused of advising Trump to separate immigrant children from their families, is a Horowitz “protege.”

Nevertheless, some of the most powerful telecommunication trade associations have retained membership:  CTIA (The Wireless Association), Charter Communications, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association. The departure of the large telecom companies listed above may be more of a ruse than a reflection of corporate conscience. They are still well represented in ALEC by the industry associations. AT&T, Cellpoint, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are all members of CTIA and the NCTA, two of the largest associations promoting the Internet of Things that are publicly lobbying for ALEC telecommunication “model legislation.” And they continue to send lobbyists representing their commercial and policy interests to ALEC meetings through other channels.

The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), in collaboration with ALEC, has been developing “model” state legislation already adopted by several states including California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey and Michigan. In Hawaii, WIA has managed to amend state land use regulations to permit wireless facility installation on agricultural lands in complete denial of EMF’s adverse impact on the environment, insect, and animal life. In Nevada, installation will proceed regardless of a municipality’s consideration of RF’s health impacts. In Florida local jurisdictions are limited to make demands for information from the telecom industry’s installations that may pose undisclosed risks. In short, ALEC is busily clearing the field for rapid 5G installation by removing state and local regulatory barriers that may create bottlenecks for deployment.

Despite ALEC’s woes and setbacks, the arrival of Trump in the White House has made up for its loss of corporate membership.  No other administration since the Council’s founding has been so packed with ALEC representatives, estimated at half of his cabinet appointees. ALEC’s 45th year celebration was held at Trump’s International Hotel in DC, a mile from the White House. ALEC’s CEO Lisa Nelson expressed her elation that the administration “does have the potential to be an ALEC administration. It is full of the people and ideas we’ve advanced since 1973. Now is our time. And ALEC is ready.” It was through ALEC channels that Brett Kavanaugh reached the Supreme Court bench. Trump’s former EPA head Scott Pruitt was earlier the chair of an ALEC task force. And Mike Pence was a loyal lobbyist for ALEC policies as Indiana’s governor and continues to be so as Vice President. Nikki Haley, Rick Perry, Betsy DeVos, agriculture secretary Sonny Purdue, Ben Carson, Kellyanne Conway, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and the head of Health and Human Services Alex Azar are all ALEC alumni or insiders.

Trump’s Chairman of the FCC which is responsible for federal funding the 5G roll out,  Ajit Pai is a former Verizon attorney and a long time ALEC associate. Back in 2013, Pai spoke before ALEC’s Communications and Technology Task Force to commend state efforts to roll back regulations in order to permit the Internet Protocol (IP) Transition — Washington’s term for the internet technological revolution — to unfold freely without obstacles from state and city governments. A wolf in sheep’s wool, Pai is a committed free market globalist who favors solutions coming from market competition in the absence of government regulations. Therefore it came as no surprise that Pai appointed ALEC’s director of the Telecommunication’s Task Force, Jonathan Hausenschild, to the FCC’s new Broadband Development Advisory Council last April. Reporting for TechDirt, Karl Bode noted that ALEC has already helped “the broadband industry pass blatantly protectionist bills in more than 21 states that hamstrung or simply banned towns or cities from building their own networks, even in areas when private industry refuses to.” Despite ALEC’s libertarian rhetoric of favoring net neutrality, Hausenschild has lobbied heavily in opposition to net neutrality protections, which is ALEC’s real goal.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Barr has traveled the country touting ALEC’s “model legislation” for 5G. Before Indiana’s Senate, Barr promised that “5G will create jobs, improve education and promote safety. But to upgrade our networks, we must upgrade our regulations.” The Trump definition for “upgrade” means to trash altogether.

In its “Resolution Opposing State and Local Mandates Requiring Warning Labels on Wireless Devices and Packaging,” ALEC acknowledges the FCC’s safety limits for public exposure to EMF radiating devices (1.6 watts per kilogram body weight).  Despite acknowledging the health risks “based on the weight of scientific research,” it still “opposes all state and local legislation and regulations that would require either health-related warning labeling, including but not limited to specific absorption rate levels, on wireless devices and packaging, or mandate disclosure of any health-related information about wireless devices at the point-of-sale.”

As with its denial of anthropogenic climate change — a direct indictment against many of its most prominent corporate members in the fossil fuel industry — ALEC only cites cherry-picked scientific conclusions, largely outdated and some over a decade old, that negate any evidence of EMF’s adverse effects to human health and the environment. For ALEC, the 10,000-plus scientifically reviewed studies confirming EMF’s relationship with cancer, Alzheimer’s, endocrinal dysfunction, etc. don’t exist.

Other “model” policies ALEC is peddling to state bureaucrats to advance the 5G roll out, which it has succeeded to implement in many states, include:

  • Demands that states provide certainty for 5G deployment to proceed unimpeded by local and public jurisdiction.
  • Permit the telecommunications industry with free access to “public rights-of-ways” to assure full small cell antennae rollout
  • Limit or prohibit local municipalities from charging private telecom companies fees as a source of revenue. ALEC argues municipality fees reduce corporate’ funds “to further build out their networks, reaching unserved and underserved areas.”
  • Foster fast-tracking of 5G deployment to reduce time to conduct thorough reviews of the benefits and risks to local communities.
  • Prohibit “regulations or procedures for RF [radio frequency] strength or the adequacy of service quality” as a pre-requisite for wireless installment and operation.
  • ALEC’s core principles are small government and free markets for private interests. Cities and towns providing municipal publicly funded broadband services therefore compete with the private sector, drain the industry’s revenues and should be forbidden. Therefore ALEC’s “Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguard Act” creates obstacles for local governments to create public broadband access.
  • ALEC’s “Wireless Communications Tower Siting Act” allows existing public structures — buildings, utility powers, water towers — to be freely available to the telecom industry for installing small cell devices rather than rely upon the need to build new structures.
  • ALEC’s “Telecommunications Deregulation Policy Statement” would create barriers for states to pass laws that would regulate the cost and quality of service provided by private telecom companies. The statement also proposes to greatly reduce states’ and municipalities’ abilities to tax 5G providers.
  • Telecommunications and internet providers “should not be held civilly or criminally liable for content they either host or transmit.” In addition, the companies cannot be held responsible for monitoring illegal content nor “be compelled to provide any private client information data without due process.”

ALEC’s 5G platform represents just one body of bills that reveal its mission to shape the nation into the image of a corporation. The same is true for other areas where the Council pushes aside the public’s demands for a democratic voice in favor of private industrial interests. Despite, the large telecommunication companies leaving ALEC, it remains their best ally in state legislatures. And clearly after three years of Trump in the White House and the administration’s downsizing of the federal government and shredding regulatory protections, ALEC’s dream of running the government is becoming true.

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Racism and the Origins of the United States of America, “The Joker” and the End of White Supremacy

By Franklin Frederick

«At its root, capitalism not only meant slavery and white supremacy but also the ethos of the gangster. » Gerald Horne

The film ‘Joker’ presents a contemporary phenomenon present in several countries, but which can only be understood in its complexity through the history of the origins of the USA.

African-American historian Gerald Horne argues in the book ‘The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America’ that the U.S. independence movement was born, on the one hand, from the fear of the wealthy classes in the colony of a growing abolitionist movement in the metropolis, England, which could put an end  to the basis of their wealth – the slaves. On the other hand, England also hindered the advance of the settlers to the west, which was to remain indigenous territory. For Horne, the war for U.S. independence was partly a ‘counter-revolution’ led by the ‘founding fathers’ with the aim of preserving their right to enslave other peoples, mainly Africans, and to continue to expand the young nation to the west, stealing more land from the indigenous peoples where more slave labor would be deployed.

In another book, ‘The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean’, Horne summarized this process:

«Then finally, in 1776, they pulled off the ultimate coup and exhibited their novel display of patriotism by ousting London altogether from the mainland colonies south of Canada, while convincing the deluded and otherwise naive (to this very day) that this naked grab for land, slaves and profit was somehow a great leap forward for humanity.»

In this context occurred another process of fundamental relevance for today: the birth of U.S. military power. The U.S. army originated in the war for independence against the British, which was also a war against the vast majority of African slaves who allied themselves with the British – which promised their freedom – and against the many indigenous peoples who also allied with the British – aware of what would follow for them once the new republic became independent. And indeed, soon after the victory against the British and the established peace, the newly created U.S. army engaged in its new task: the genocidal war against indigenous peoples to secure the territorial expansion of the new republic.

In the book ‘The First Way of War: American War Making on the Frontier, 1607-1814’ author John Grenier argues that the U.S. armed forces were forged in the genocidal wars against American indigenous peoples, when virtually every means of destruction was allowed, all brutality was possible, and there was no distinction between civilian and combatant populations.

One of the methods used by the U.S. armed forces against indigenous peoples was the destruction of their plantations and food reserves, leading to defeat by famine, a method widely used and perfected decades later by the U.S. in the Vietnam war, making the U.S. perhaps the only country in the world to specialize in the war against the Vegetable Kingdom.  In fact, an unbroken historical line leads from wars against indigenous peoples to the war in Vietnam. The most recent economic embargoes against Cuba and Venezuela are just another form of this method, the objectives remain the same – to cause hunger, to punish civilian populations in order to subdue them – and have been used since the beginnings of US military power.

The extermination of indigenous peoples was so central to politics at the time that participating in military campaigns against indigenous peoples was practically a prerequisite for becoming a candidate for the presidency of the New Republic. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, is perhaps the one who best represents what this new country really was. Jackson was a wealthy planter and slaveowner, leading troops during the War against the Creek people, which led to the conquest of many lands now belonging to the states of Alabama and Georgia. He also led the US troops in the war against the Seminole people. In the presidency, Jackson continued his crusade against the indigenous people. There is an interesting episode in the well-known TV series ‘House of Cards’ in which Indian representatives visit the White House. As part of the preparations for the visit, White House staff remove the portrait of Andrew Jackson from a wall, apparently in order not to offend the Indians – a rare moment of lucidity in such media. And it was Andrew Jackson’s followers who founded the U.S. Democratic Party…

In order to guarantee a ‘single front’ between the settlers against the indigenous peoples, on the one hand, and to ensure the practice of slavery on the other, the British forged an illusory ‘alliance’ beyond the social classes, between the ‘whites’ – white supremacy – that legitimated and allowed the exploitation, theft or extermination of all those who were not so endowed. According to Gerald Horne, this militarized identity politics that was ‘whiteness’’ was at the root of the colonial occupations as early as 1676, leading to the creation of a ‘white man ‘s’ country, a first ‘apartheid’ state, an example to be followed by South Africa. Violence against indigenous peoples and the violence inherent in the slave economy became common, ‘normal’ elements in the US white mentality to this day. Gerald Horne argues that one of the last expressions of ‘white supremacy’ in the mainstream U.S. politics was the election of Donald Trump, as a part of the electorate « (…) could not overcome the poisonous snare of white supremacy. That is, the seeds of the fiasco of an election in November 2016 in the United States, where the less affluent of European descent, including more than half of the women of this group, found their tribune in a vulgar billionaire, has roots in the cross-class coalition  that spearheaded colonial settlement in the seventeen century at the  expense of the indigenous and enslaved Africans.»Moral Hypocrisy and U.S. Exceptionalism

This history and its consequences are very much still present in the Joker. Arthur Fleck, the character in the film, is just one of the millions of poor white men abandoned by the system, and it is not by chance that, in the film, practically everyone who comes into real, emotional contact with Arthur Fleck, is African-American, including the only woman he cares about. In this way, the film places white Arthur Fleck in the middle of a poor Afro-American community, that is, according to the myth of white supremacy, completely out of his ‘natural’ place. The social worker who allows him to get the medicine he needs is Afro-American and, when she informs him about the closure of the social centre – another result of the austerity policies of neoliberalism – she comments: ‘They don’t give a shit about people like you. Or like me.’ – They’, in this case, being a clear reference to the powerful, to the 1%. There is a permanent possibility of a haven for Arthur Fleck within the African-American community, as the social worker recognizes by placing the two as victims of the same system. But Arthur Fleck is unable to see or understand his situation in the broader context that would open him up to the dimension of solidarity with the African American community and others and, as I see it, it is his ‘whiteness’ that blinds him to this possibility. Instead, following the illusions of his adoptive mother that became his as well, he tries hard to be accepted again by the successful white community. The ‘alliance’ beyond the social classes that connects whites in the myth of white supremacy is still sufficiently strong in Arthur Fleck’s unconscious to take him to Thomas Wayne seeking the ‘recognition’ of his ‘natural right’ to belong to Wayne’s successful white community, a way of updating the ‘alliance’ of white supremacy, just as so many impoverished and marginalized whites voted for Donald Trump did. To reinforce the image of unity of this white community, the dialogue   with Thomas Wayne takes place in a theatre full of white people celebrating the success of their social class. Thomas Wayne does not recognize his “fatherhood” – the symbolism here is clear – of Arthur Fleck and, even worse, violently refuses any contact with him, thus revealing the lie of the white ‘alliance’, the myth of racial supremacy as a bond between whites beyond social classes.

Thomas Wayne’s punch shows that such an alliance never existed.

But there is a gesture of solidarity shown in the film that really belongs to the ‘white alliance’: knowing that Arthur Fleck suffered an aggression in the street, one of his co-workers offers him a weapon to defend himself – the gesture of solidarity par excellence of the ‘white alliance’. The neo-fascist Bolsonaro is his campaign for the presidency in Brazil did exactly the same, just in a much bigger scale.  he promised to put weapons more easily within reach of everyone, especially his supporters, who promptly rewarded this ‘solidarity’ by helping to elect him.

The moment when the myth of the ‘white alliance’ really explodes in the film is the sequence of the fight in the subway. Three well dressed and visibly successful white youths harass a woman sexually – feeling perfectly right in doing so, the “normal” behaviour of the white heterosexual male, in the U.S. as in Brazil. Arthur Fleck, with his nervous laughter, hinders the three young men who turn against him. Arthur Fleck is obviously poor, a clown, of a social class much inferior to that of the three young yuppies who start to assault him violently – betraying the ‘white alliance’ like Thomas Wayne – but Arthur Fleck has a weapon and, for the first time, gives way to his years of accumulated frustration and repressed anger – and kills his aggressors. For Arthur Fleck this moment is liberating and from then on, he feels stronger but also “goes crazy”, the symbolism used, I believe, to show the emotional price paid by Arthur Fleck for betraying his part in the white ‘alliance’. His oppressive violence was directed against white people, not against Latinos, black or indigenous immigrants – the ‘normal’ targets of white supremacist violence.

The “white” liberal public conscience, represented in the film by the character of Robert de Niro , Murray Franklin, an idol for whom Arthur Fleck also aims to be somehow recognized, condemns the murder of the three ‘promising young people’, because in this case the solidarity of the white ‘alliance’ really exists – as CLASS solidarity – the three were ‘successful’, obviously members of the dominant class. Three poor whites like Arthur Fleck murdered in the subway would certainly have no press attention, it was the social class of the three murdered that awakened, on the one hand, the sympathy of the Murray Franklins, and, on the other hand, the popular revolt that is the background of the film. Arthur Fleck repeatedly declares himself without any political awareness or political objective. The Arthur Flecks of real life hardly vote, but if they do, they vote for Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro. The Arthur Flecks’ revolt is limited to spreading violence, ‘paying back’, creating chaos, it has no political content, it does not aim to change the system, the Arthur Flecks do not even have the slightest idea how the system really works, they only feel unjustly frustrated by something they can only react to with violence. Arthur Fleck is the potential fascist, what unites them, in the U.S. as in Brazil, is still the mystique of the white supremacy, the feeling of belonging to the dominant class, a kind of ‘natural right’ to be privileged, to have prestige and power. 

For the capitalist system, the Arthur Flecks have an enormous importance, because they not only elect the Donald Trumps and the Jair Bolsonaros, allowing the international oligarchy of the capital to continue through them to dominate the world; but even more, the Arthur Flecks have the fundamental role of depoliticize society, of preventing public consciousness to focus on real issues. And it is through violence, intimidation, the attack on institutions, culture and everything that threatens their ‘white’ identity that the Arthur Flecks fulfil this role. The Thomas Waynes smile, the 1% rejoice at such stupidity so easily manipulated in their favour. And Thomas Wayne is not only a Gotham City type, there are many Thomas Wayne all over the world, as many in Brazil and Argentina as in Europe. All of them breeding the “Batmen” eager to fight “corruption” in the name of the Capital.

But ‘Joker’ also shows, even if only obliquely, the possibility of redemption for Arthur Fleck. What if Arthur Fleck managed to get out of his emotional prison, out of his whiteness ‘poisoning’ – to use the expression of Gerald Horne – and sought help and refuge in the African-American community? African-Americans have a long history of political consciousness and struggle, they have faced the violence of white supremacy from the beginning, they know what it means, they know its extent and also its main weaknesses. Above all, African-Americans know very well that the struggle is political. The greatest nightmare, the greatest threat to the U.S. oligarchical political system is precisely the solidarity union between the Arthur Flecks and the Afro-American community, witth the consequent politicization that this union implies. The system, the international financial oligarchy, may well coexist with chaotic violence, with brief outbreaks of destruction and social conflict – in fact, this violence is even useful for the system and for the oligarchy, among other reasons because it can be used as a pretext for more repression and violence on the part of reactionary forces. But what the system cannot support is rebellion WITH POLITICAL CONTENT – as we see now in Chile, Argentina or Ecuador.

The Joker portraits  the ending of white supremacy because even the Arthur Flecks are already realizing that “whiteness”, this ‘solidarity alliance’ among “whites” , which for so long has fed them until it became the foundation of their own being, is nothing but a lie woven by the 1% – mostly whites – to better exploit all the others.

And meanwhile in Latin America, Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Venezuela, the political consciousness of the people has long since overcome the myth of white supremacy and “whiteness” loyalty to the oppressors and subservience to the international capital. There is a plural humanity, rich and proud of its many colours, genders and ways of being that increasingly assumes political control over its own destiny. It is this humanity that, with much clarity, determination and joy, is defeating fascism and the myths that support it.                      

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Surprise, Iraqi Resistance Bombs Green Zone!

Soleimani was murdered because he planned to talk with the Saudis about deescalating tension in the Middle East. Trump’s high-tech Mafia hit on Soleimani was also designed to please the Israelis.

By Kurt Nimmo

Sky News, doing what it does best—dispense war propaganda—broadcast this know-nothing report soon after “Iran” attacked the Green Zone in Baghdad this evening. 

Two rockets have been fired into the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq causing sirens to go off at the US Embassy.

Our Middle East Correspondent @Stone_SkyNews says there is no suggestion that they are from Iran.

Read the latest here: http://po.st/Af40Y9 3069:15 PM – Jan 8, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy334 people are talking about this

This fellow fails to name the group allegedly responsible—Kata’ib Hezbollah, depicted as a zombified Iranian proxy. (On the other hand, this attack may be a false flag to drive the war narrative forward and keep the heat on Iran. Point is, we really don’t know.)

Kata’ib Hezbollah is a Shia paramilitary organization formed when George Bush and his neocon handlers invaded Iraq in 2003. It was specifically organized to resist Dick Cheney’s illegal and brutal invasion. It’s leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was murdered along with Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani on January 3. 

Additionally, the chattering teleprompter readers and newspaper scribblers say almost nothing in regard to the Preamble to the 1899 Hague Convention II on Land War (specifically the Martens Clause) or the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts.  Article 1, Paragraph 4 refers to armed conflicts “in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes.”

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was killed specifically for his resistance to US occupation in addition to his relationship with Iran, which was natural considering he was a Shia Muslim, as are most Iraqis, and there are strong religious and cultural ties between what are now Iraqi and Iranian Shias. Counterproductive US Imperial Policies. The Risks of Global Warfare?

But we are not allowed to hear any of that from the war media. Instead, we are told Iran is responsible for the deaths of US soldiers illegally occupying Iraq. Forgotten is that fact both Sunni and Shia Iraqis have resisted US occupation for well over a decade. In the United States of Lies, this resistance is depicted as terrorism. 

Soleimani was murdered because he planned to talk with the Saudis about deescalating tension in the Middle East. Trump’s high-tech Mafia hit on Soleimani was also designed to please the Israelis. They have waged an assassination campaign against Palestinian activists for more than sixty years. Additionally, they have murdered a number of Iranian nuclear scientists and Lebanese Hezbollah leaders and activists (most notoriously Sayyed Abbas Musawi in 1992). It is safe to say the double hit in Baghdad was coordinated with the Israelis. 

Donald Trump is the most outspoken pro-Zionist president in US history. The Zionist agenda, most urgently advocated by Bibi Netanyahu these many years, calls for the destruction of Iran on par with the destruction of Iraq and similar criminal acts in Afghanistan,  Syria, and Libya by Bush, Obama, and Trump. Iranian nukes serve as a pretext, however flimsy, to realize the Israeli agenda of political control in neighboring states and the further annexation of land in the Golan and the West Bank (and no doubt beyond; the Israelis have coveted Lebanon’s water resources for decades, i.e., Operation Litani). 

Donald Trump’s Kabuki theater of Fire and Fury must drive the neocons and Israelis up a wall, though. It was a different story under Bush. The neocons simply told a bunch of less than plausible lies, the media did the propagandizing and mesmerizing in preparation for the mass murder to follow, and it was off to the races. 

It can be said we were a somewhat different people in the first couple of years after 9/11. Now most people distracted, they’re inured to war, it has become part of the cultural fabric, it is endlessly portrayed as service to the nation in defense of freedom and liberty—and it’s all bullshit. 

Here’s what the corporate media never tells you. 

The killing of US soldiers in occupied Iraq is legal self-defense and resistance to alien occupation. Iran is not firing ineffective Katyusha rockets into the occupation Green Zone, Iraqis are. Iran is certainly provoking and assisting and can you really blame them? Brother and sister Shias just over the border are long-term occupied by alien invaders and the invaders keep making threats against Iran. 

Reality is irrelevant for the reality TV president. Reality dictates people invaded and occupied will resist, often with devastating result. The most radical Zionists in Israel do not and never have planned to make peace with the Arabs and Muslims around them. They have worked for many decades to undermine Arab nationalism, engage in false-flag deception, assassinate opponents in Mafia fashion, and prevent the barbarians from coming together, to paraphrase the late globalist Zbigniew Brzezinski. 

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Iraq PM Confirms Receiving ‘Signed’ US Pullout Letter. Has Washington decided upon Withdrawal?

By Press TV

The following report by Press TV is yet to be confirmed.

The AFP said it had received a copy of the letter late Monday and verified its authenticity with both US and Iraqi officials, the agency added.

This occurred prior to the Iran bombing of US military bases on January 8.

The alleged letter of withdrawal was by US Military in Baghdad. It was an initiative of Brigadier General William Seely, who oversees US Task Force Iraq. Was the letter  endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, The State Department and the White House?

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper later denied that the US military had announced preparation for “movement out of Iraq,” and the Pentagon claimed that an unsigned draft version of the letter had been sent by mistake.

***

Has Washington decided upon US Military Withdrawal? 

Amid confusion over a reported US letter to Iraq announcing the steps its military would take to move out of Iraq, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi confirms that Baghdad has actually received “signed and translated” copies from the US Army concerning the withdrawal.

In a televised cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Abdul Mahdi clearly refuted all US claims that the letter had been sent by mistake or it had been inauthentic.

On Sunday, the Iraqi Parliament voted unanimously in favor of a bill demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.Iraq Takes International Legal Action to Kick Unauthorized US Forces Out

The vote came only two days after US airstrikes assassinated senior Iranian commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) anti-terror group, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in the Iraqi capital.

Earlier, various news agencies reported that Brigadier General William Seely, who oversees US Task Force Iraq, had sent a letter to the head of Iraq’s Joint Operations Command on Monday, suggesting potential withdrawal of the forces belonging to a US-led coalition, which has been operating in Iraq since 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh.

‘Signed and translated’

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper later denied that the US military had announced preparation for “movement out of Iraq,” and the Pentagon claimed that an unsigned draft version of the letter had been sent by mistake.

Abdel Mahdi, however, said he had received signed and translated copies at 8:00 p.m. local time (1700 GMT, January 5) on Monday (January 6).

The letter discussed “redeploying with an aim to withdraw from the country. The expressions were very clear,” he said. “It was an official letter written in such a manner,” the premier told ministers.

“It’s not a piece of paper that fell off the printer or reached us by coincidence,” he added. The letters only contained a translation mistake that the US military corrected and provided Baghdad with new versions, Abdul Mahdi noted.

The AFP said it had received a copy of the letter late Monday and verified its authenticity with both US and Iraqi officials, the agency added.

In it, Seely informed his Iraqi counterparts that American troops were preparing to leave Iraq. Seely wrote the US-led coalition would “be re-positioning forces in the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement.”

“In order to conduct this task, Coalition Forces are required to take certain measures to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and efficient manner,” said the letter.

It said helicopters would be travelling in and around Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone, where the US Embassy is located as part of the preparations.

The AFP, meanwhile, said its reporters could hear helicopters flying low over Baghdad throughout the night on Monday as well as Tuesday.

Posted in Middle East, Iraq0 Comments

The State of the Iranian Crisis. Will Trump “Escalate” or “De-escalate”?

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Global Research,

Readers are asking my take on the Iranian retaliation and Trump’s response.  I think a deal might have been arranged between Washington and Tehran via a third party. The Iranian attack resulted in no US casualties.  Thus, it serves  both Iran’s purpose of retaliating and Trump’s purpose of interpreting the Iranian retaliation to be, in effect, a stand down.  

Possibly Trump will apply “crippling sanctions” as a cover for withdrawal from most of the Middle East.  Iran wants the US out, and Trump’s original intention was to withdraw before Russiagate forced him to stay. Thus, both Trump and Iran have a common interest in US withdrawal. Although the Iranian missiles killed no one, they did demonstrate to Israel that the Iranian missiles have pin point accuracy.  As Israel is a small land area, the accuracy of Iranian missiles possibly has changed Israel’s mind about provoking a war.  If Israel also stands down, perhaps the crisis is over.US Regional Presence Makes Middle East Peace and Stability Unattainable

On the other hand, the neoconservatives will be unhappy.  They see chaos in Iran as a way of spreading instability into the Russian Federation.  The military/security complex will be unhappy as US withdrawal would downsize their profits. US oil interests will be unhappy to lose the Iraqi oil.  

Trump is in a better position now to stand up to these powerful interests. The war scare has introduced a sobering element. Republican senators have urged Trump to de-escalate. Russia, China, and Turkey have spoken against any escalation. The Barr-Durham investigation of the role of the military/security complex and Obama regime in orchestrating the “Russiagate” hoax brings a sense of vulnerability to the CIA, FBI, and Obama Justice (sic) Department.  Therefore, Trump possibly can turn the situation to the advantage of his original aim to withdraw from the Middle East and restore normal relations with Russia.

Trump’s appalling decisions and explanations are largely a product of the vulnerable position he has been put in by three years of CIA, FBI, and Democratic Party efforts to remove him from the presidency.  Now that vulnerability has shifted to his opponents, unless they physically assassinate him, Trump may yet prevail with his peace agenda.

Posted in USA, Iran0 Comments

The US vs. Iran: Who Won and Who Lost?

By Andrew Korybko

Iran’s symbolic missile strike against two US bases in Iraq was a soft power victory for the Islamic Republic despite not causing any casualties, though the US undoubtedly achieved a military victory by assassinating Maj. Gen. Soleimani in Baghdad last week, with this superficial “tit-for-tat” outcome being used by both sides to de-escalate tensions away from a destructive conventional war.

Iran literally shocked the world by responding to the US’ assassination of Maj. Gen. Soleimani in Baghdad last week through the most direct means possible, namely a ballistic missile strike against two American bases in Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday morning. People all across the planet were on the edge of their seats for over half a day wondering how the US’ unpredictable president would react following his threat to target 52 Iranian sites — including cultural ones — if Americans were killed by Iran’s promised response. Prior to Trump’s globally broadcast speech, many were (ridiculously) worried that World War III was about to break out, or at the very least the complete obliteration of Iran, but all sincere well-wishers of world peace breathed a collective sigh of relief when he revealed that no Americans were injured in the attack despite Iran claiming that 80 lost their lives, which is why he didn’t order a counter-strike. This almost completely unexpected result deserves to be analyzed in depth in order to get down to the bottom of how it all played out, as well as to better understand the US and Iran’s extremely different definitions of victory after both claimed that they came out of this superficial “tit-for-tat” exchange as the winner. It’s ultimately up to the reader themselves to decide which of the two really won, but this analysis aims to make their final assessment much easier.

It’s since been revealed that the Iranians notified the Iraqi Prime Minister before launching their salvo, after which his government’s officials informed their American counterparts in order to avoid any injuries before the strike actually commenced. One might argue that Tehran did this in order to “respect international law” after launching an attack on its neighbor’s territory, but it’s unrealistic to believe that the Islamic Republic would risk losing the element of surprise if it really intended to kill Americans and cross Trump’s threatened red line. Despite spreading discredited reports that 80 Americans were killed as a result and then claiming that this amounted to a “slap in the face” of its rival, it appears from satellite footage that Iran deliberately avoided targeting facilities in the two bases that were housing US and Iraqi troops, if they even were still there by the time the strike actually happened after being indirectly tipped off by none other than the Iranians themselves. These facts demonstrate that Iran didn’t want to truly escalate tensions with the US but nevertheless felt compelled to respond in a dramatic way to “save face”, hence why it took the utmost caution not to kill any Americans but still showed that it technically could have if its precision-guided missiles were programmed to do so.

From the American side of things, the author wrote the following last week in his article titled “No, A War With Iran Won’t Help Trump Win Re-Election“: “If events quickly climb the escalation ladder, then both Iran and possibly even Trump himself might end up the losers, with only the Democrats and the US’ military-industrial complex cynically emerging as the ‘winners’ (since ‘Israel‘ might be wiped out by Iran before the Islamic Republic is destroyed). In hindsight, this makes one wonder who ordered Iran’s militant removal from Iraq in the first place and whether it was a ‘deep state’ plot to entrap Trump by provoking this very scenario.” Since neither Trump nor the Ayatollah wanted to risk that mutually detrimental outcome of the former possibly losing re-election and the latter’s country likely being destroyed, their Iraqi “deconfliction channel” was relied upon to choreograph Iran’s carefully planned response in order for both sides to claim victory and thus pull away from the brink of what would otherwise probably have been the bloodiest war in the Mideast’s history. As circumstantial evidence of this in practice, Trump responded in kind to Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s earlier call for a de-escalation during his speech and therefore didn’t decide to retaliate since no Americans were killed as a result of this choreographed stunt.

Assessing what just transpired, Iran certainly won the soft power war whereas the US undoubtedly claimed a military victory. The Islamic Republic presented itself as supposedly being strong enough to strike American bases at will with impunity (notwithstanding that they informed the Iraqis in advance who in turn told US troops to take caution in order to avoid casualties), while the Pentagon took out Iran’s regional proxy war mastermind. In other words, the Iranian victory was purely superficial though that still doesn’t take away from the long-term effect that it might have on the global audience’s perceptions of the US’ supposedly waning power, whereas the American victory really hit Iran where it hurt and literally led to “regime change” within the IRGC even if that angle is largely being overshadowed by Tehran’s dramatic response. Both sides therefore “save face” in their own way by claiming their respective victories which are convincing enough for their domestic audiences while leaving the rest of the world to debate the zero-sum details of who really came out on top. Although a regional proxy war is expected to rage all throughout this year, the conventional peace prevailed, which was a direct result of Iran abandoning its “nuclear ambiguity” through the 2015 deal and thus having no means to deter an obliterating US counter-strike in the event that they were serious about bombing Americans.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Iran, Iraq0 Comments

Warrior Trump Seeking Peace? Permanent War Remains Official US Policy

By Stephen Lendman

Throughout the post-WW II era, permanent war and military Keynesianism has been and remains official US policy — under both right wings of the one-party state.

Endless wars against invented enemies are glorified in the name of peace, what the Pentagon calls a “long war,” what Dick Cheney once said won’t end in our lifetime.

In his book titled “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace,” Gore Vidal said: “(O)ur rulers…made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own.”

Seymour Melman explained that “every major aspect of American life is…shaped by our Permanent War Economy” — peace and stability anathema notions to bipartisan US policymakers.

Militarism, endless wars of aggression, and corporate handouts come at the expense of unmet human needs.

Anti-nuclear activist/physician Helen Caldicott stressed that the US “addiction (to wars) in (the) nuclear age, (could) destroy all life on earth, creating the final epidemic of the human race.”

Trump is captive to dark forces controlling him, a geopolitical know-nothing businessman/TV personality transformed into a warrior president, escalating inherited wars, risking new ones.

Endless wars serve US imperial aims. World peace and stability defeat them — what was likely explained to Trump straightaway after taking office.

Hostility toward Iran without letup continues on his watch — war by other means through economic terrorism and other hostile actions, short of all-out hot war US policymakers know can’t be won.

Trump’s anti-Iran agenda has nothing to do with preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons it abhors, doesn’t have, never sought, and wants eliminated everywhere — while ignoring nuclear armed and dangerous Israel.Iran Playing with Fire?

No criticism of its apartheid viciousness or terror-bombing of Syrian sites is mentioned by US policymakers or establishment media, nothing said about the menace it poses — in contrast to regional peace and stability advocate Iran.

US hostility toward the Islamic Republic has everything to do with wanting it returned to US vassal state status, gaining control over its vast hydrocarbon resources, and eliminating Israel’s main regional rival.

Trump turned truth on its head, saying the US “is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it (sic)” — while waging endless aggressive wars in multiple theaters, along with war by other means on Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba, and other countries the US doesn’t control.

Iran’s UN envoy Majid Takht Ravanchi responded to Trump’s hollow claim, saying:

“(P)artnership with the United States is meaningless as long as the country persists with its policy of ‘escalation and animosity.’ ”

The Trump regime continues hot war and by other means against nations the US doesn’t control.

It abandoned the landmark INF Treaty and JCOPA nuclear deal — based on Big Lies and deception.

It’s economic terrorism on Iran, Venezuela, and other countries is all about crushing their economies and immiserating their people.

Unlawful US sanctions are weapons of war by other means. Trump falsely accused Iran of “support(ing) terrorism” — a US, NATO, Israeli, Saudi specialty, what Iran actively combats, General Soleimani key in defeating US-supported ISIS jihadists in Iraq and Syria, likely why he was assassinated.

For now, Trump stepped back from the brink of all-out hot war on Iran — while continuing unlawful hostile actions against the country and others.

What’s ahead is likely to be more of the same. The US is a belligerent state waging endless war on humanity at home and abroad.

Trump continues the hostile agenda he inherited — abandoning peace, stability, equity, justice, the rule of law, and other democratic values like most of his predecessors.

Posted in USA0 Comments

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