Archive | May 6th, 2020

Tomgram: Mandy Smithberger, Letting the Pentagon Loose With Your Tax Dollars

Tomgram: Mandy Smithberger, Letting the Pentagon Loose With Your Tax Dollars

Posted by Mandy Smithberger 

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Who doesn’t remember, as a child, making that Christmas wish list for Santa and his elves? As it happens, in this century — and in the post-Christmas season, no less — a Pentagon already sporting the highest budget ever is still making such wish lists, officially known as “unfunded requirements lists,” for the orange-haired Santa in the White House and especially his Mitch McConnellized elves in Congress. (The hope: to up the already sky-high presidentially recommended national security budget by an additional $18 billion).

The U.S. Navy, for instance, has a modest $6 billion wish list that includes yet more of the most expensive weapons system in history, the F-35 jet fighter (who cares if it actually works or not!), more Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye surveillance aircraft, as well as more Boeing-Textron V-22 Ospreys. And don’t forget that extra little under-the-tree favorite, a $2.7 billion Virginia-class submarine from General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls!

Who could resist that Army wish list coming in at $7 billion, a mere bagatelle (or, as Jackie Gleason used to say on The Honeymooners, “a mere bag of shells”). It includes “an additional 60 upgraded Stryker double V-hull combat vehicles” for only $375 million, eight new AH-64 Apache attack helicopters for just $283 million, and so on. The Air Force (knowing its president) asked for a modest extra billion dollars for his new Space Force — and then there was the request (pretty please!) from the Missile Defense Agency (who knew we even had one?) for more missile interceptors and a new missile defense battery for a little more than a billion extra dollars.

I mean, what a deal! Anyway, who could resist the cute little guys who just want another seasonal gift or two (or three or four or five or more) and another surprise visit from Santa? And is it really too much to request when, as director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight and TomDispatch regular Mandy Smithberger points out today, the full “defense” budget is a modest trillion-dollar-plus affair. No wonder the kids are just so damn eager to add a few extra bucks and gifts to it. Tom

Creating a National Insecurity State
Spending More, Seeing Less
By Mandy Smithberger

Hold on to your helmets! It’s true the White House is reporting that its proposed new Pentagon budget is only $740.5 billion, a relatively small increase from the previous year’s staggering number. In reality, however, when you also include war and security costs buried in the budgets of other agencies, the actual national security figure comes in at more than $1.2 trillion, as the Trump administration continues to give the Pentagon free reign over taxpayer dollars.

You would think that the country’s congressional representatives might want to take control of this process and roll back that budget — especially given the way the White House has repeatedly violated its constitutional authority by essentially stealing billions of dollars from the Defense Department for the president’s “Great Wall” (that Congress refused to fund). Recently, even some of the usual congressional Pentagon budget boosters have begun to lament how difficult it is to take the Department’s requests for more money seriously, given the way the military continues to demand yet more (ever more expensive) weaponry and advanced technologies on the (largely bogus) grounds that Uncle Sam is losing an innovation war with Russia and China.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, keep in mind that the Defense Department remains the only major federal agency that has proven itself incapable of even passing an audit. An investigation by my colleague Jason Paladino at the Project On Government Oversight found that increased secrecy around the operations of the Pentagon is making it ever more difficult to assess whether any of its money is well spent, which is why it’s important to track where all the money in this country’s national security budget actually goes.

The Pentagon’s “Base” Budget

This year’s Pentagon request includes $636.4 billion for what’s called its “base” budget — for the routine expenses of the Defense Department. However, claiming that those funds were insufficient, Congress and the Pentagon created a separate slush fund to cover both actual war expenses and other items on their wish lists (on which more to come). Add in mandatory spending, which includes payments to veterans’ retirement and illness compensation funds and that base budget comes to $647.2 billion.

Ahead of the recent budget roll out, the Pentagon issued a review of potential “reforms” to supposedly cut or control soaring costs. While a few of them deserve serious consideration and debate, the majority reveal just how focused the Pentagon is on protecting its own interests. Ironically, one major area of investment it wants to slash involves oversight of the billions of dollars to be spent. Perhaps least surprising was a proposal to slash programs for operational testing and evaluation — otherwise known as the process of determining whether the billions Americans spend on shiny new weaponry will result in products that actually work. The Pentagon’s Office of Operational Test and Evaluation has found itself repeatedly under attack from arms manufacturers and their boosters who would prefer to be in charge of grading their own performances.

Reduced oversight becomes even more troubling when you look at where Pentagon policymakers want to move that money — to missile defense based on staggeringly expensive futuristic hypersonic weaponry. As my Project On Government Oversight colleague Mark Thompson has written, the idea that such weapons will offer a successful way of defending against enemy missiles “is a recipe for military futility and fiscal insanity.”

Another proposal — to cut A-10 “Warthogs” in the Pentagon’s arsenal in pursuit of a new generation of fighter planes — suggests just how cavalier a department eager for flashy new toys that mean large paydays for the giant defense contractors can be with service members’ lives. After all, no weapons platform more effectively protects ground troops at a relatively low cost than the A-10, yet that plane regularly ends up on the cut list, thanks to those eager to make money on a predictably less effective and vastly more expensive replacement.

Many other proposed “cuts” are actually gambits to get Congress to pump yet more money into the Pentagon. For instance, a memo of supposed cuts to shipbuilding programs, leaked at the end of last year, drew predictable ire from members of Congress trying to protect jobs in their states. Similarly, don’t imagine for a second that purchases of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons system in history, could possibly be slowed even though the latest testing report suggests that, among other things, it has a gun that still can’t shoot straight. That program is, however, a pork paradise for the military-industrial complex, claiming jobs spread across 45 states.

Many such proposals for cuts are nothing but deft deployments of the “Washington Monument strategy,” a classic tactic in which bureaucrats suggest slashing popular programs to avoid facing any cuts at all. The bureaucratic game is fairly simple: Never offer up anything that would actually appeal to Congress when it comes to reducing the bottom line. Recently, the Pentagon did exactly that in proposing cuts to popular weapons programs to pay for the president’s wall, knowing that no such thing would happen.

Believe it or not, however, there are actually a few proposed cuts that Congress might take seriously. Lockheed Martin’s and Austal’s Littoral Combat Ship program, for instance, has long been troubled, and the number of ships planned for purchase has been cut as problems operating such vessels or even ensuring that they might survive in combat have mounted. The Navy estimates that retiring the first four ships in the program, which would otherwise need significant and expensive upgrades to be deployable, would save $1.2 billion.

The Pentagon’s Slush Fund: the Overseas Contingency Operations Account

Both the Pentagon and Congress have used a war-spending slush fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account, or OCO, as a mechanism to circumvent budget caps put into place in 2011 by the Budget Control Act. In 2021, that slush fund is expected to come in at $69 billion. As Taxpayers for Common Sense has pointed out, if OCO were an agency in itself, it would be the fourth largest in the government. In a welcome move towards transparency, this year’s request actually notes that $16 billion of its funds are for things that should be paid for by the base budget, just as last year’s OCO spending levels included $8 billion for the president’s false fund-the-wall “national emergency.”

Overseas Contingency Operations total: $69 billion

Running tally: $716.2 billion.

The Nuclear Budget

While most people may associate the Department of Energy with fracking, oil drilling, solar panels, and wind farms, more than half of its budget actually goes to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the country’s nuclear weapons program. Unfortunately, it has an even worse record than the Pentagon when it comes to mismanaging the tens of billions of dollars it receives every year. Its programs are regularly significantly behind schedule and over cost, more than $28 billion in such expenses over the past 20 years. It’s a track record of mismanagement woeful enough to leave even the White House’s budget geeks questioning nuclear weapons projects. In the end, though — and given military spending generally, this shouldn’t surprise you — the boosters of more nuclear weapons won and so the nuclear budget came in at $27.6 billion.

Nuclear Weapons Budget total: $27.6 billion

Running tally: $743.8 billion

“Defense-Related” Activities

At $9.7 billion, this budget item includes a number of miscellaneous national-security-related matters, including international FBI activities and payments to the CIA retirement fund.

Defense-Related Activities total: $9.7 billion

Running tally: $753.5 billion

The Intelligence Budget

Not surprisingly, since it’s often referred to as the “black budget,” there is relatively little information publicly available about intelligence community spending. According to recent press reports, however, defense firms are finding this area increasingly profitable, citing double-digit growth in just the last year. Unfortunately, Congress has little capacity to oversee this spending. A recent report by Demand Progress and the Project On Government Oversight found that, as of 2019, only 37 of 100 senators even have staff capable of accessing any kind of information about these programs, let alone the ability to conduct proper oversight of them.

However, we do know the total amount of money being requested for the 17 major agencies in the U.S. intelligence community: $85 billion. That money is split between the Pentagon’s intelligence programs and funding for the Central Intelligence Agency and other “civilian” outfits. This year, the military’s intelligence program requested $23.1 billion, and $61.9 billion was requested for the other agencies. Most of this funding is believed to be in the Pentagon’s budget, so it’s not included in the running tally below. If you want to know anything else about that spending you’re going to need to get a security clearance.

Intelligence budget total: $85 billion

Running tally: $753.5 billion

The Military and Defense Department Retirement and Health Budget

While you might assume that these costs would be included in the defense budget, this budget line shows that funds were paid by the Treasury Department for military retirement programs (minus interest and contributions from those accounts). While such retirement costs come to $700 million, the healthcare fund costs are actually a negative $8.5 billion.

Military and Department of Defense Retirement and Health Costs total: -$7.8 billion

Running tally: $745.7 billion

The Veterans Affairs Budget

The financial costs of war are far greater than what’s seen in the Pentagon budget. The most recent estimates by Brown University’s the Costs of War Project show that the total costs of the nation’s main post-9/11 wars through this fiscal year come to $6.4 trillion, including a minimum of $1 trillion for the costs of caring for veterans. This year the administration requested $238.4 billion for Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Affairs Budget: $238.4 billion

Running tally: $984.1 billion

The International Affairs Budget

The International Affairs budget includes funds for both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Numerous defense secretaries and senior military leaders have urged public support for spending on diplomacy to prevent conflict and enhance security (and the State Department also engages in a number of military-related activities). In the Obama years, for instance, then-Marine General James Mattis typically quipped that without more funding for diplomacy he was going to need more bullets. Ahead of the introduction of this year’s budget, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen told congressional leaders that concerns about great-power competition with China and Russia meant that “cutting these critical investments would be out of touch with the reality around the world.”

The budget request for $51.1 billion, however, cuts State Department funding significantly and proposes keeping it at such a level for the foreseeable future.

International Affairs Total: $51.1 billion

Running tally: $1,035.2 billion

The Homeland Security Budget

The Department of Homeland Security consists of a hodgepodge of government agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Secret Service, Customs and Border Protection, and the Coast Guard. In this year’s $49.7 billion budget, border security costs make up a third of total costs.

The department is also responsible for coordinating federal cyber-security efforts through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Despite growing domestic cyber concerns, however, the budget request for that agency has fallen since last year’s budget.

Homeland Security total: $52.1 billion

Running tally: $1,087.3 billion

Interest on the Debt

And don’t forget the national security state’s part in paying interest on the national debt. Its share, 21.5% of that debt, adds up to $123.6 billion.

Interest on the debt total: $123.6 billion

Final tally: $1,210.9 billion

The Budget’s Too Damn High

In other words, at $1.21 trillion, the actual national security budget is essentially twice the size of the announced Pentagon budget. It’s also a compendium of military-industrial waste and misspending. Yet those calling for higher budgets continue to argue that the only way to keep America safe is to pour in yet more tax dollars at a moment when remarkably little is going into, for instance, domestic infrastructure.

The U.S. already spends more than the next seven countries combined on a military that is seemingly incapable of either winning or ending any of the wars it’s been engaged in since September 2001. So isn’t it reasonable to suggest that the more that’s spent on what’s still called national security but should perhaps go by the term “national insecurity,” the less there is to show for it? More spending is never the solution to poor spending. Isn’t it about time, then, that the disastrously bloated “defense” budget experienced some meaningful cuts and shifts in priorities? Shouldn’t the U.S. military be made into a far leaner and more agile force geared to actual defense instead of disastrous wars (and preparations for more of the same) across a significant swath of the planet?

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UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer’s Zionist Hall of Shame

Keir Starmer's Zionist team
Jon de Rennes writes

The following is a list of Labour friends of the apartheid state of Israel (Labour Friends of Israel – LFI) in Keir Starmer’s team 

Shadow Cabinet

1. Emily Thornberry
2. David Lammy
3. Rachel Reeves
4. Bridget Phillipson
5. Nia Griffith
6. Nick Brown

Shadow Ministers

1. Jess Phillips
2. Yvette Cooper
3. Wes Streeting
4. Peter Kyle
5. Wayne David
6. Fabian) Hamilton
7. Conor McGinn
8. Kal Turner
9. Stephen Morgan
10. Liz Kendall
11. Lucy Powell
12. Toby Perkins
13. Chris Matheson
14. Mike Amesbury
15. Mike Kane
16. Karin Smyth
17. Chris Elmore

Other known Zionists

1. Richard Spencer)
2. Angela “Helga” Rayner
3. Lisa Nandy
4. Rebecca Long-Bailey
5. Rosena Allin-Khan

Totals

  • Total LFS Shadow Cabinet Members – 6
  • Number of LFS Shadow Junior Ministers – 17
  • Total LFS in Starmer’s team – 23
  • Other known Zionist racists – 5 
  • Total number of known Zionist, apartheid-loving racists in Starmer’s team – 28.

According to a March 2019 article by Jonathan Cook, there were, at the time, 80 Labour MPs in LFS. A few have probably left the party or failed to get re-elected. However, even if we were to work with the 80 number, Starmer has managed to get more than 25 per cent of these Zionist racists into his team. Having said that, given that he is an honorary member himself it’s hardly surprising. On the contrary, it’s sadly predictable.

I don’t have the time, energy or resources to do the same analysis of Corbyn’s team. However, I do know that of those who were there until the end, or very close, there were five LFS in his Shadow Cabinet (Thornberry, Lammy, Andrew Gwynne, Nia Griffith, and Tom Watson).


Jon de Rennes is Communications Manager for Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR)

Hypocritical UK Labour racist Zionists try to talk about racism

Hypocritical UK Labour racist Zionists try to talk about racism

In “QuickPress”

New UK campaign group – Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR) – launched

New UK campaign group – Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR) – launched

In “QuickPress”

Israel’s stooges in Britain’s Labour Party

With Agent Cameron and his “Torah” Party at the helm of British politics, it’s easy to forget the Israel flag wavers on the other side, in the Labour Party. Writing in Mondoweiss, British journalist James Elliott reminds us of the Israel pimps-in-waiting, the Zionist elite running Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition,…

In “QuickPress”

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Capitalism’s Voracious Appetite: Bodies are the Commodities

by KATHLEEN WALLACE

Image Source: Diogenes Searching for an Honest Man, attributed to J. H. W. Tischbein (c. 1780)

The allure of capitalism has never been a clean or ethical one—the very roots are predicated on a system of continued growth and extraction, only becoming less feudal and more “modern” with the advent of beliefs that technological advances could usher in continued input to help the system survive. This has been true in some ways, such as the advent of fracking, which was able to massively disrupt Hubbert’s peak (the bell curve expected to show the gradual diminished reserves of oil). That peak was extended like a covid graph 10 days after an evangelical beach party. The rub with all things extractive and unsustainable is that there is always inherent blow-back. Just because there is more petro-product to burn doesn’t mean those greenhouse gases won’t build up from actually burning them—there will be hell to pay. This is because the natural world has a way of slapping down hubris with an intangible, almost sentient response to the greed.

There are layers of tragedy inherent to that capitalistic notion that all is a commodity. These wonders can be extracted, whether it’s through destructive mining, plundering oceans, destroying old-growth forest…….but then this accepted practice carries over from these natural resources to human resources (yes, that phrase is loaded with symbolism—it’s no accident that’s what your job calls you). This has never been more evident in modern America than the push-pull of human worth versus the voracious, victim-hungry economy demands during this pandemic. A testimony to the success of the immersive brainwashing of our capitalist society would be the pro-covid rallies (what else can you call them?) Screaming signs being held by screaming protesters—those demanding that restrictions be removed so commerce can continue despite the risks. The rallies don’t ask for the kind of support the corporations get during these times–no, they request the right to die in order to keep the wheels greased. It’s really pretty astonishing. Like an Aztec saying, please, please take me instead…..”I want my heart cut out for the needs of the sun god!”

But many of the protesters look to be retirement aged. They are protesting for others to be put in harm’s way to serve them. This is part and parcel of capitalism’s thick and smothering entitlement. From the top of the economic chain on down, most in the US consider it to be just fine to endlessly extract from others as well as the planet. The concept of an intangible worth isn’t there for them. The sense of the sacred is limited to a quasi-corporate friendly religion that uses the word, but most morph that into a Jesus themed amusement park with their lord at the table doing some money-changing. He would never knock down the tables. He has respect for authority. And you earn your respect by sitting quietly with that group.

Walling off the concept of a soul to mean essentially nothing beyond a rubber-stamp that calls a person religious, well it gives free rein to consider all else to be worth only money. A soul, for lack of a better word, is to me, something that in a non-religious sense (even a non-human animist sense) gives an inherent right to exist unmolested. To be free from parasites that destroy your right to just be. It is truly intangible.

But here we are, left with a monetary system that is a terrible game, full of traps and archaic rules that only benefit the rule-makers. That is considered to be what has worth and rights—not you, not the undulating grasslands below our feet. That monetary system is the thing that is imaginary, though—it was invented by men of little imagination, only looking to solidify the rules that protected their own wealth or their dreams to obtain it.

Those who are the most sick among us (in a sociopathic sense) are the ones who rule over such a system. It selects for them. And they aren’t even trying to hide right now that they consider “essential workers” to be essential to their wealth magnification only, not essential to their families or to their communities. This is a sickness that these leaders have, but the workers and the misguided protesters have it too. It spreads more easily than covid. The true protests should have been against these contrived economic conditions that perpetuate uncertainty and fear, forcing individuals to participate in a system that treats them as if they are nothing—completely disposable. But the protests are a tangled mess of systemic mental illness and a thrashing fear-of mortality—a pathetic bravado held tightly in the form of a semi-automatic weapon.

The fact that those who are the very worst in terms of exploitation of others rise in this system is evidenced by the “choice” in presidential candidates we are faced with. Trump is a caricature of the extractive, fetid, hungry ghost—he can’t get enough fatty meat for his colon, can’t get enough golden baubles or young wives, not enough stimulants or whatever the hell he takes that causes….him. He’s slime animated, really. But as I always try to balance this tribal nonsense–Joe Biden is a similar product. Kind of like voting between the guy who owns slaves and beats (sometimes kills) them and the guy who also owns slaves, but makes it seem much friendlier, a more Jeffersonian slave-keeping. He won’t kill them (they are valuable!) But he might fuck them and never set them free. Neither Trump nor Biden are fit to rule over themselves, let alone us. Biden shows in taped appearances that he relishes invading the space of young girls and children. It must be low-hanging fruit for him, literally. I think it’s a sick kink he has—but it’s all about not respecting the other and actually enjoying taking from them that most basic right—that of integrity of the self and the space it inhabits. Respecting children and their rights is a huge measure of a person’s decency. Those who are petty and low typically lord over children or do worse. I don’t think it’s much of a leap to consider the sickening “finger” allegations about him to be true as well. He has a proprietary take on all of us. How can everyone forget Anita Hill or that weird stolen Neil Kinnock bit? Or how he trashed that man’s life—the one who was in a car crash with his first wife. Biden loved to tell that the man “drank his lunch” when it sounds more like his wife ran a stop sign and that man did not test positive for alcohol—but did lead a sad and ruined life from the accusations. Why let ruining people or stealing the life stories of others mess up a good speech?  My point is that these low functioning shits are what the current US system wants to serve up to us. Their similarity being that nothing will fundamentally change for the great majority, and the extractive system will continue to move along, dragging all of us with it until it just can’t any more because of ecosystem collapse. I devote more time to railing about Biden merely because it’s less obvious—but Trump is malignancy personified.

The only answer is to revisit everything we’ve been taught—all that we have been immersed in from childhood. From that, perils exist, some start to question these things only to be led to an even darker, vindictive place in their minds. The more difficult path is allowing an opening up to new ways of thinking—understanding that the path out will only be through extending rights to others and confronting terrible truths about ourselves—that we feel it’s our right to take from others. It is not. We need to start respecting those who are human, animal, even the mountains and rivers. This is not our usual way of thinking. But this is the only way to get to a future will look like something worth having.

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The Washington Post’s Neocons are Beating Cold War Drums…Again

by MELVIN GOODMAN

Image Source: F Delventhal – CC BY 2.0

The Washington Post has a reputation as liberal and even left-of-center, although its editorial pages are dominated by neoconservatives who support the idea of American exceptionalism and the extreme operational tempo of America’s military.  In the past week, we have been treated to a series of oped essays that are supportive of expanded American military power and a political, if not military, confrontation with China.

U.S. national media generally have been lazy in their treatment of our military—pandering to the military itself and resorting to retired general officers, such as Generals David Petraeus and Jack Keane, as spokesmen.  The media typically defend bloated defense budgets and fail to challenge the dangerous militarization of national security decision making.

The Washington Post is particularly supportive of a more militarized national security policy, including a possible confrontation with China.  A group of their oped writers, particularly Michael Gerson, David Ignatius, and George Will, argue that the United States needs to increase defense spending to “protect the country from a full range of global disasters.”  Ignatius, a long-time apologist for the Central Intelligence Agency, conceded the need for restoring the “right civilian-military alignment,” but offered former secretary of defense Robert Gates as his model because Gates “could be ruthless” with aides to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.  Gates was, in fact, a captive of the uniformed military.

Ignatius beats the drums for the just created U.S. Space Force, which inherits 86 space warriors graduating from the Air Force Academy.  War in space would be a catastrophe, and even Air Force chief of staff General David Goldfein concedes that in every war game that involves space, we “never come out winning.”  (During my years at the National War College, China prevailed in every war game that revolved around Taiwan.)  This year’s defense budget appropriates more than $15 billion for space systems, when we should be looking for ways to demilitarize the space frontier—and not promoting another arms race.  No country is as dependent economically as the United States on access to space.

George Will wants a modernized and more lethal Marine Corps at a time when our most dangerous adversaries have developed “high volume, extended-range missile warfare” to deal with threats from the sea.  There is a reason why the Marines have not resorted to an amphibious landing since the first months of the Korean War, and that is the high risk and great difficulty of such operations.  President Harry S. Truman recognized the island-hopping success of the Marines in the Second World War, but he was right for wanting to abolish the Marine Corps at war’s end.  Chinese cruise missile technology already has made it certain that U.S. naval ships, including aircraft carriers, will not be able to get close enough to the Chinese Mainland to be effective, and the idea of island-hopping against China is pure fantasy.

Gerson, the leading speechwriter for President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” speech in 2002 that prepared the way for the invasion of Iraq, regularly refers to an “increasingly belligerent China.”  He believes that Biden would do well to recruit unnamed defense and foreign policy advisers from the Bush administration.  Does this mean Biden should bring back Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Gates, and Condi Rice who are responsible for policies that have brought the longest period of continuous U.S. war fighting in our history?  Gerson even believes that Biden “should be actively persuading…respected military and intelligence figures who served in the Trump administration to publicly support him.”  Gerson’s usual suspects are not the answer.

On April 30, the Washington Post carried two additional opeds that endorsed an aggressive policy toward China, pointing to “superior force” as the “surest road to peace.”  Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2017-2018, argued that “superior Western economic, diplomatic, and military power” defeated the Soviet Union, and that the current challenge from the “Chinese Communists must be seen the same way.”

George Will believes that Joe Biden should be the next president because he is willing to “stand up to China, and encourages Biden to “associate himself” with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), who endorses the conspiratorial theory regarding the responsibility of the research laboratory in Wuhan for the viral outbreak there.  Cotton, the Cold War warrior, wrote in the Post on May 3 that the “Chinese Communist Party is our enemy.  It aims to displace the United States as the world’s preeminent economic and military power.”

Unfortunately, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are already making the issue of a hardline toward China a central issue of the campaign.  Leading Democrats such as Senator Charles Schumer are calling on Trump to be more aggressive toward China.  The Biden campaign is attacking Trump for being insufficiently tough on China.  This is reminiscent of gratuitous anti-Soviet posturing during presidential campaigns in the worst days of the Cold War.  Trump needs no encouragement; his deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger and his leading economic adviser Peter Navarro are extremely bellicose toward China.

Another Washington Post oped writer, Josh Rogin is ignoring efforts of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to link the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic to the Wuhan laboratory.  In an oped on May 1, Rogin falsely credited Pompeo with calling for “depoliticizing” the issue of China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.  Pompeo prevented a communique at a recent G-7 meeting because he couldn’t get any of the European representatives to support his polemical accusations.  Nevertheless, Rogin cited Pompeo’s specious urgings that the issue of Beijing’s handling of the virus should not become “partisan.  It’s too serious a matter.”

Pompeo, the leading cheerleader in this campaign, has charged his hand-picked director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, with finding evidence implicating the research lab, according to the New York Times,.  However, there is evidence to suggest that Haspel will not accommodate her old boss.  Haspel has stood up to the White House on sensitive issues such as the role of Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman in the sadistic killing of a dissident journalist; Russian hacking in the U.S. electoral process; and the origin of the Covid-19 virus.  Haspel’s intelligence analysts could inform Pompeo that it is counterproductive to maintain that the United States and its allies must keep China in “its proper place.” On the other hand, the Defense Intelligence Agency, well known for its willingness to politicize intelligence, recently changed its analytical position in order to accommodate the view that a research lab in Wuhan was the origin of the new pathogen.

Haspel has even protected the job and personal security of the CIA whistleblower whose report led directly to the impeachment process.

At a time when the Sino-American relationship is central to stabilizing the international arena, we are getting no discussion of the importance of mutual military disengagement in the area of the South China Sea and the need for smart diplomacy.  Washington and Beijing are compatible on important strategic issues that deal with the Korean peninsula; the importance of North Korean denuclearization; and the necessity of toning down the risk-taking proclivities of Kim Jong On.  In view of the continued uncertainty in North Korea, it is essential that Washington and Beijing have programmatic diplomatic discussions.

A diplomatic dialogue between Washington and Beijing on Korean issues could lead to possibilities for stabilizing the naval rivalry in the South China Sea as well as creating less friction over the issue of Taiwan.  We could send fewer guided-missile cruisers into the South China Sea; China could stop its provocative circumnavigation of Taiwan with fighters and strategic bombers.  Even a modest improvement in Sino-American relations would be advantageous, making the strengthened Sino-Russian relationship less threatening to the United States.  It makes no sense for the editorial pages of the Washington Post to assist the efforts of the military-industrial complex to strengthen its case for greater defense spending by exaggerating the so-called threat from China.

Every American president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama has endorsed a policy of engagement toward China, but Trump’s obsession with trade deficits has created the worst political and economic friction between Washington and Beijing since the first years of the Vietnam War. Trump’s scapegoating of China also serves to deflect responsibility for his pathetic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Unfortunately, the confrontational approach of Trump and deputy national security adviser Pottinger has garnered bipartisan endorsement, and it will be difficult to reverse the current direction.

It is important not to gainsay China’s handling of the viral outbreak, which contributed to the international impact of the pandemic, but the global crisis currently demands dialogue and cooperation between the United States and China in order to save lives.   There will be a time to discuss the initial handling of the pandemic as well as the deceit of both Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, but now isn’t that time.

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Beware the Pentagon’s Pandemic Profiteers

by MANDY SMITHBERGER


At this moment of unprecedented crisis, you might think that those not overcome by the economic and mortal consequences of the coronavirus would be asking, “What can we do to help?” A few companies have indeed pivoted to making masks and ventilators for an overwhelmed medical establishment. Unfortunately, when it comes to the top officials of the Pentagon and the CEOs running a large part of the arms industry, examples abound of them asking what they can do to help themselves.

It’s important to grasp just how staggeringly well the defense industry has done in these last nearly 19 years since 9/11. Its companies (filled with ex-military and defense officials) have received trillions of dollars in government contracts, which they’ve largely used to feather their own nests. Data compiled by the New York Times showed that the chief executive officers of the top five military-industrial contractors received nearly $90 million in compensation in 2017. An investigation that same year by the Providence Journal discovered that, from 2005 to the first half of 2017, the top five defense contractors spent more than $114 billion repurchasing their own company stocks and so boosting their value at the expense of new investment.

To put this in perspective in the midst of a pandemic, the co-directors of the Costs of War Project at Brown University recently pointed out that allocations for the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health for 2020 amounted to less than 1% of what the U.S. government has spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since 9/11. While just about every imaginable government agency and industry has been impacted by the still-spreading coronavirus, the role of the defense industry and the military in responding to it has, in truth, been limited indeed. The highly publicized use of military hospital ships in New York City and Los Angeles, for example, not only had relatively little impact on the crises in those cities but came to serve as a symbol of just how dysfunctional the military response has truly been.

Bailing Out the Military-Industrial Complex in the Covid-19 Moment

Demands to use the Defense Production Act to direct firms to produce equipment needed to combat Covid-19 have sputtered, provoking strong resistance from industries worried first and foremost about their own profits. Even conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot, a longtime supporter of increased Pentagon spending, has recently recanted, noting how just such budget priorities have weakened the ability of the United States to keep Americans safe from the virus. “It never made any sense, as Trump’s 2021 budget had initially proposed, to increase spending on nuclear weapons by $7 billion while cutting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding by $1.2 billion,” he wrote. “Or to create an unnecessary Space Force out of the U.S. Air Force while eliminating the vitally important directorate of global health by folding it into another office within the National Security Council.”

In fact, continuing to prioritize the U.S. military will only further weaken the country’s public health system. As a start, simply to call up doctors and nurses in the military reserves, as even Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has pointed out, would hurt the broader civilian response to the pandemic. After all, in their civilian lives many of them now work at domestic hospitals and medical centers deluged by Covid-19 patients.

The present situation, however, hasn’t stopped military-industrial complex requests for bailouts. The National Defense Industrial Association, a trade group for the arms industry, typically asked the Pentagon to speed up contracts and awards for $160 billion in unobligated Department of Defense funds to its companies, which will involve pushing money out the door without even the most modest level of due diligence.

Already under fire in the pre-pandemic moment for grotesque safety problems with its commercial jets, Boeing, the Pentagon’s second biggest contractor, received $26.3 billion last year. Now, that company has asked for $60 billion in government support. And you undoubtedly won’t be surprised to learn that Congress has already provided Boeing with some of that desired money in its recent bailout legislation. According to the Washington Post, $17 billion was carved out in that deal for companies “critical to maintaining national security” (with Boeing in particular in mind). When, however, it became clear that those funds wouldn’t arrive as a complete blank check, the company started to have second thoughts. Now, some members of Congress are practically begging it to take the money.

And Boeing was far from alone. Even as the spreading coronavirus was spurring congressional conversations about what would become a $2 trillionrelief package, 130 members of the House were already pleading for funds to purchase an additional 98 Lockheed Martin F-35 jet fighters, the most expensive weapons system in history, at the cost of another half-billion dollars, or the price of more than 90,000 ventilators.

Similarly, it should have been absurdly obvious that this wasn’t the moment to boost already astronomical spending on nuclear weapons. Yet this year’s defense budget request for such weaponry was 20% higher than last year’sand 50% above funding levels when President Trump took office. The agency that builds nuclear weapons already had $8 billion left unspent from past years and the head of the National Nuclear Security Agency, responsible for the development of nuclear warheads, admitted to Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) that the agency was unlikely even to be able to spend all of the new increase.

Boosters of such weapons, however, remain undeterred by the Covid-19 pandemic. If anything, the crisis only seems to have provided a further excuse to accelerate the awarding of an estimated $85 billion to Northrop Grumman to build a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), considered the “broken leg” of America’s nuclear triad. As William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, has pointed out, such ICBMs “are redundant because invulnerable submarine-launched ballistic missiles are sufficient for deterring other countries from attacking the United States. They are dangerous because they operate on hair-trigger alert, with launch decisions needing to be made in some cases within minutes. This increases the risk of an accidental nuclear war.”

And as children’s book author Dr. Seuss might have added, “But that is not all! Oh, no, that is not all.” In fact, defense giant Raytheon is also getting its piece of the pie in the Covid-19 moment for a $20-$30 billion Long Range Standoff Weapon, a similarly redundant nuclear-armed missile. It tells you everything you need to know about funding priorities now that the company is, in fact, getting that money two years ahead of schedule.

In the midst of the spreading pandemic, the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command similarly saw an opportunity to use fear-mongering about China, a country officially in its area of responsibility, to gain additional funding. And so it is seeking $20 billion that previously hadn’t gained approval even from the secretary of defense in the administration’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal. That money would go to dubious missile defense systems and a similarly dubious “Pacific Deterrence Initiative.”

How Not to Deal With Covid-19

Along with those military-industrial bailouts came the fleecing of American taxpayers. While many Americans were anxiously awaiting their $1,200 payments from that congressional aid and relief package, the Department of Defense was expediting contract payments to the arms industry. Shay Assad, a former senior Pentagon official, accurately called it a “taxpayer rip-off” that industries with so many resources, not to speak of the ability to borrow money at incredibly low interest rates, were being so richly and quickly rewarded in tough times. Giving defense giants such funding at this moment was like giving a housing contractor 90% of upfront costs for renovations when it was unclear whether you could even afford your next mortgage payment.

Right now, the defense industry is having similar success in persuading the Pentagon that basic accountability should be tossed out the window. Even in normal times, it’s a reasonably rare event for the federal government to withhold money from a giant weapons maker unless its performance is truly egregious. Boeing, however, continues to fit that bill perfectly with its endless program to build the KC-46 Pegasus tanker, basically a “flying gas station” meant to refuel other planes in mid-air.

As national security analyst Mark Thompson, my colleague at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), has pointed out, even after years of development, that tanker has little hope of performing its mission in the near future. The seven cameras that its pilot relies on to guide the KC-46’s fuel to other planes have so much glare and so many shadows that the possibility of disastrously scraping the stealth coating off F-22s and F-35s (both manufactured by Lockheed Martin) while refueling remains a constant danger. The Air Force has also become increasingly concerned that the tanker itself leaks fuel. In the pre-pandemic moment, such problems and associated ones led that service to decide to withhold $882 million from Boeing. Now, however, in response to the Covid-19 crisis, those funds are, believe it or not, being released.

Keep all of this behavior (and more) in mind when you hear people suggest that, in this public health emergency, the military should be put in charge. After all, you’re talking about the very institution that has regularly mismanaged massive weapons programs like the $1.4 trillion F-35 jet fighter program, already the most expensive weapons system ever (with ongoing problems galore). Even when it comes to health care, the military has proved remarkably inept. For instance, attempts of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to integrate their health records were, infamously enough, abandoned after four years and $1 billion spent.

Having someone in uniform at the podium is, unfortunately, no guarantee of success. Indeed, a number of veterans have been quick to rebuke the idea of forefronting the military at this time. “Don’t put the military in charge of anything that doesn’t involve blowing stuff up, preventing stuff from being blown up, or showing up at a place as a message to others that we’ll be there to blow stuff up with you if need be,” one wrote.

“Here’s a video from Camp Pendleton of unmasked Marines queued up for haircuts during the pandemic,” tweeted another. “So how about ‘no’?” That video of troops without masks or practicing social distancing even shocked Secretary of Defense Esper, who called for a military haircut halt, only to be contradicted by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, desperate to maintain regulation cuts in the pandemic moment. That inspired a mocking rebuke of “haircut heroes” on Twitter.

Unfortunately, as Covid-19 spread on the aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt, that ship became emblematic of how ill-prepared the current Pentagon leadership proved to be in combatting the virus. Despite at least 100 cases being reported on board — 955 crewmembers would, in the end, test positive for the disease and Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr. would die of it — senior Navy leaders were slow to respond. Instead, they kept those sailors at close quarters and in an untenable situation of increasing risk. When an emailed letter expressing the concerns of the ship’s commander, Captain Brett Crozier, was leaked to the press he was quickly removed from command. But while his bosses may not have appreciated his efforts for his crew, his sailors did. He left the ship to a hero’s farewell.

All of this is not to say that some parts of the U.S. military haven’t tried to step up as Covid-19 spreads. The Pentagon has, for instance, awarded contracts to build “alternate care” facilities to help relieve pressure on hospitals. The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences is allowing its doctors and nurses to join the military early. Several months into this crisis, the Pentagon has finally used the Defense Production Act to launch a process to produce $133 million worth of crucial N95 respirator masks and $415 million worth of N95 critical-care decontamination units. But these are modest acts in the midst of a pandemic and at a moment when bailouts, fraud, and delays suggest that the military-industrial complex hasn’t proved capable of delivering effectively, even for its own troops.

Meanwhile, the Beltway bandits that make up that complex have spotted a remarkable opportunity to secure many of their hopes and dreams. Their success in putting their desires and their profits ahead of the true national security of Americans was already clear enough in the staggering pre-pandemic $1.2 trillion national security budget. (Meanwhile, of course, key federal medical structures were underfunded or disbanded in the Trump administration years, undermining the actual security of the country.) That kind of disproportionate spending helps explain why the richest nation on the planet has proven so incapable of providing even the necessary personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers, no less the testing needed to make this country safer.

The defense industry has asked for, and received, a lot in this time of soaring cases of disease and death. While there is undoubtedly a role for the giant weapons makers and for the Pentagon to play in this crisis, they have shown themselves to be anything but effective lead institutions in the response to this moment. It’s time for the military-industrial complex to truly pay back an American public that has been beyond generous to it.

Isn’t it finally time as well to reduce the “defense” budget and put more of our resources into the real national security crisis at hand?

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Back to Work! Trump’s COVID-19 Capitalist Cure Back to Work!

by JEFF MACKLER

U.S. capitalism’s would-be savior, the “moron” President Donald Trump, sees his re-election prospects tied to a “re-invigorated” economy based on sending U.S. workers back to work close to the height of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. 63,000 Americans have died of this pandemic as of this writing. Another 2,000 more perish daily. Yet “back to work” is ever on the agenda of Trump and the ruling rich, whose statisticians hunt for a “safe” mathematical formula that factors in ever-changing rates of infections and deaths with corporate profits lost. Few deny that whatever the calculations regarding the safety of a generalized return to work, they will soon after become obsolete when an inevitable second wave of this terrible disease, estimated to be far worse than the present horror, takes its tolls.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield reported on April 21 that “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through… if the two respiratory outbreaks exist [COVID-19 and the usual winter flu] at the same time. This would strain the healthcare system in unimaginable ways.” In the absence of an immunizing vaccine, estimated to be 12 to 18 months away, yet another disastrous wave is on the horizon. And the first wave is far from over.

Many of the dead are low-paid workers, disproportionately Black, Latino, and Native American and often part-time, from whom predatory capitalism requires vital services to keep their super warehouses, supermarkets, slaughterhouses, food processing plants, fast food chain conglomerates, etc., running as fast as possible. The dead and stricken include health care workers, public transportation workers, as well as civil service personnel who repair damaged power lines and sewer systems, fight fires and provide many other vital services. All are victims of a system that has proved incapable of providing in a timely manner even the most modest critical preventative tools, like effective face masks and other PPE (personal protective equipment) to guard against infection, not to mention test kits to detect the virus and then safely quarantine its victims to prevent its insidious advance.

We live in a racist, white supremacist social system where Black, Latino and Indigenous people always suffer first and worst. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Black people are 25 percent of the population, some 67 percent of infected COVID-19 victims are Black. Among the dead, 81 percent are Black. Capitalism always takes its greatest toll on the poor and oppressed. The Milwaukee is not exceptional. It is only exceptional in that it is one of the few cities to release the racial breakdown of COVID-19’s victims.

A disclaimer here is partially in order. It was Trump’s fired former Secretary of State and previously ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson who first privately attached the “f*****g moron” label to the president. He did so after Trump had exited a National Security Council meeting, leaving those who remained to ponder his suggestion that the U.S. increase its tactical nuclear arsenal 100-fold! Trump’s reactionary views on the three unfolding cataclysmic threats to humanity’s future now include his denial of fossil fuel-induced climate change, his pursuit of a new generation of nuclear weapon, and now his COVID-19 pandemic policies that placed the U.S. first in the world in the number of people afflicted and the number of those who have died. Needless to say, Trump and his bi-partisan predecessors have been fully aware that the origins of COVID-19 and similar viruses like MERS and H1N1, lie in the corporate plundering of the world’s ecosystems – ever bringing humans in closer contact with previously isolated disease-carrying species – and the abject failures of scientific research practiced under profit-first capitalism.

Trump suggests injections of Lysol or bleach

The statement with which the moron Trump – no quotations marks this time – most outraged the medical community and others came on April 23 during the president’s daily two-hour press conference, where Trump suggested an “injection inside” the human body with a disinfectant like bleach or isopropyl alcohol to possibly help combat the virus. “And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump stated following a presentation by William N. Bryan, an acting under secretary for science at the Department of Homeland Security. Bryan, a Trump bureaucrat with zero background in the biological sciences, was discussing the virus’s possible susceptibility to bleach and alcohol as a surface cleaning agent. “One minute,” the president stated, interrupting Bryan, “And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it [the coronavirus] gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that.”

A day later The New York Times featured a front-page rebuttal entitled, “Science Fires Back Loudly on Trump’s Cure All,” stating, “In Maryland, so many callers flooded a health hotline with questions that the state’s Emergency Management Agency had to issue a warning that ‘under no circumstances’ should any disinfectant be taken to treat the coronavirus. In Washington State, officials urged people not to consume laundry detergent capsules. Across the country on Friday, health professionals sounded the alarm. Injecting bleach or highly concentrated rubbing alcohol ‘causes massive organ damage and the blood cells in the body to basically burst,’ said the medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, Dr. Diane P. Calello. ‘It can definitely be a fatal event.’” Clorox and Lysol manufacturers warned Americans not to inject or ingest their products! A day later, the Food and Drug Administration warned that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two malaria drugs that Trump has taken to frequently recommending as remedies for the coronavirus, can cause “dangerous abnormalities in heart rhythm in coronavirus patients and has resulted in some deaths.”

The F.D.A. added, “The drugs should be used only in clinical trials or hospitals where patients can be closely monitored for heart problems.” There is no evidence that the drugs are in any way effective at treating COVID-19. The New York Times added that Trump has three family trust funds that are heavily invested in the maker of hydroxychloroquine. Trump’s medical idiocies were soon after covered up by his obedient media team; in the case of injecting deadly chemicals into one’s body they asserted that Trump was merely being sarcastic to the “fake media.” The video of the media conference refutes this assertion. Meanwhile, in Chicago, tragic reports of people dying from ingesting such poisons have been broadcast on National Public Radio channels.

The real state of the U.S. economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has brutally revealed that the U.S. economy was NEVER in a healthy state, unless the skyrocketing casino stock market and related speculative ventures that have made a handful of multi-millionaires into billionaires – the “one percent” – are taken as a measure of good health. Casino capitalism indeed! A system where the house always wins and the 99 percent lose. It is these paper money speculators and the corporate behemoths behind them, enriched by unprecedented billions and now trillions of dollars in bailouts, and even more in zero interest “quantitative easing” loans, who press for their wage slaves to return to the workplace with little or no medically-established criteria.

Within weeks of the bailout it has become clear that the promise of increased unemployment benefits that would fully cover the lost wages for each laid off worker, including freelance and part-time workers, were a fiction. To date only 10 states have even begun making payments to these groups who are not covered under the typical unemployment insurance program. And now we learn that the banks have been permitted to deduct various amounts from the much-hyped one-time $1,200 “stimulus” checks, including overdrafts owed to the banks as well as other forms of debt. Another provision in the new legislation, supposedly aimed at helping small businesses, allows banks assigned to distribute the money, like JPMorgan Chase, one of the richest on earth, to circumvent application procedures and contact its own “small business” customers directly to facilitate the government payments. These “small businesses,” defined as employing less than 500 workers, are often multi-million – and even billion – dollar corporations. In a matter of days, the initial $348 billion allocated to them evaporated while the vast majority of mom and pop style operations were left at locked starting gates. A few days later another $250 billion was added to the “small business” scam with similar results.

Myth of the 3.5 percent unemployment rate

Trump’s touted pre-COVID-19 3.5 percent “lowest unemployment rate in decades” has proven to be a terrible fraud, a product of Labor Department statistical manipulation in the extreme aimed at excluding categories of “discouraged” workers who have stopped looking for jobs as well as workers who have worked perhaps a few days in a particular quarter, part time workers and workers who are not receiving unemployment insurance! Prior to COVID-19 the Department of Labor’s official “labor participation rate,” a measure of the actual number of all eligible workers with jobs, was closer to 65 percent. That is, the remaining 35 percent were essentially jobless! With 30 million workers filing for unemployment benefits over the past six weeks – a number significantly exceeding the total number of net new jobs generated in the economy over the past nine-and-a-half-years, today’s real jobless rate is closer to the worst years of the Great Depression, where half the workforce was either totally unemployed or working part-time jobs at less than poverty wages. We will only add the 30 million figure is also highly understated since an estimated several million more have been unable to file due to overwhelmed online computer systems and massive understaffing.

Living on the edge in capitalist America

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown how close to the edge many Americans were living, with pay and benefits eroding even as corporate profits surged,” wrote Patricia Cohen in a front-page April 16 New York Times article. Cohen continued, “But perhaps more significantly, the crisis has revealed profound, longstanding vulnerabilities in the economic system.”

Cohen quotes Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, to wit, “We built an economy with no shock absorbers… A lot of the people in the economy are living at the edge, and you have an event like this that pushes them over. And we are unique in the advanced world in having people at the edge without a safety net below them.”

This absence of a safety net is no accident. One example is the massive bipartisan cuts over the past decades in hospital and healthcare expenditures coupled with a largely privatized heath care system based significantly on employment at corporations that ever press for reduced benefits. It is no coincidence that the U.S., touted as the richest nation on earth, ranks first in the world in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The Times proceeds to recount the state of the economy and working class life before COVID-19 pandemic, pointing to, in their terms: “Years of limp wage growth that left workers struggling to afford essentials” with “irregular work schedules that caused weekly paychecks to surge and dip unpredictably. Job-based benefits were threadbare or nonexistent. In this economy, four of 10 adults don’t have the resources on hand to cover an unplanned $400 expense. In less than two decades, the share of income paid out in wages and benefits in the private sector shrank by 5.4 percentage points, reducing pay by $3,000 a year, and making it even harder for working families to meet their basic needs.” For millions of workers, health care costs rose twice as fast as wages over the past decade.

Again, this was before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Today, the data demonstrating a society in decay stands out as never before. Lines of cars stretch for miles as families wait to pick up groceries from food pantries; jobless workers spend days trying to file for unemployment; outside hospitals, sick people line up overnight to wait for virus testing.

Some 54 percent of all renters – millions of whom spend more than half their incomes on housing – have lost their jobs in the pandemic.

Predatory capitalism unmasked

Most instructive about all of the above is that its source is the nation’s “newspaper of record,” The New York Times, that prior to the pandemic largely limited its reporting to glib commentaries touting the nation’s strong economy, rising stock markets and “historically low” unemployment rates – factors they previously estimated would tend to facilitate Trump’s re-election. Today The Times, perhaps the leading Democratic Party media advocate, along with much of the corporate establishment, finds it convenient to place the blame on Trump for the nation’s deepening economic crises.

In these strange new times the more sophisticated corporate media understand that a bit of criticism of the elite more generally is in order so as to appear balanced in their explanations of why, seeming out of the blue, such now widely understood injustices have come to pass.

“Powerful forces like advancing technology and globalization are partly to blame for workers’ economic instability,” writes The Times, while neglecting to explain that the replacement of human labor by advanced machines and robots, that is, technological advances, and the offshoring of what were once living-wage union jobs to nations that impose near slave-labor wages, is inherent in the world capitalist system. Deadly competition forces all corporations to struggle to maintain ever-declining profit rates at the expense of their workers. That’s the central reason for substituting machines for workers, for increasing numbers of low wage zero benefit, part time jobs, for assembly line speed up, for destruction of pensions, for increasing the use of mass incarcerated prison labor at 50 cents per hour, for the super-exploitation and persecution of immigrant labor and for generalized union-busting that obliterates historic gains in union contracts. And it’s the same for endless rounds of deregulation in every field, from environmental protection to pharmaceutical drug testing. It’s the same for the privatization of public education and the parallel increasing privatization of social services. These are all inherent features of today’s so-called “free market,” no government interference, de-regulated neo-liberal capitalism, the modern-day version of the old predatory system run in high gear to make U.S. corporations more competitive on world markets. Add to this the endless wars abroad and its ever-increasing production of fossil fuels – perhaps capitalism’s two most profitable enterprises – and we come close to a succinct explanation of capitalism’s raison d’etre! And the sky high stock market? Far from being a reflection of a booming economy, it’s a product of unprecedented near interest free loans gifted to the corporate falsely justified in the name “stimulating” investment in new plants and infrastructure. In truth the government’s “socialism for the rich” $trillions are invested in ever new speculative ventures – casino capitalism style – where insiders daily maneuver to boost their securities to their advantage.

In this context it is no surprise that the lion’s share of the present and ongoing multi-trillion dollar federal bailouts go to the ruling rich, who unswervingly “regulate” and oversee their capitalist system in their own interests.

Trump estimates COVID-19 fatalities

Just a few weeks ago 60,000 to 100,000 represented the range of U.S. COVID-19 deaths in the coming months expected by the Trump administration. As we write today, the lower figure has already been surpassed. The upper figure can be expected to be reached within a matter of weeks, with no end in sight and no reasonable expectation of the number of future deaths. Indeed, no one doubts that the death totals daily registered are highly underestimated. Less than one percent of the U.S. population has been tested for COVID-19, making any serious death toll projections impossible. Worse still, reports from nearly every state indicate that test kits, not to mention effective masks and related protections, are shockingly unavailable. Thus, there are no hard facts to accurately tell us the numbers or percentage of people infected with COVID-19 but still asymptomatic who are capable of spreading the disease. Without serious data on this critical matter, any notion of sending working people back to work is tantamount to sending people to their death – a prospect that is nevertheless being contemplated by those who invariably subordinate human life to capitalist profit.

As of this writing, over one million in the U.S. have tested positive for the virus. But again, less than one percent of the population has been tested. Experienced scientific organizations have estimated that the actual total of infected people might be ten times the currently reported numbers.

After the deluge: Workers to pay

In the mad rush to bail out the corporate elite most economists and financiers have been relatively silent on the question, Who will pay for these multi-trillion dollar sums aimed at bailing out capitalism’s corporate elite? The present official U.S. debt today stands at $21 trillion, an unprecedented amount roughly equal to the entire annual GDP of the U.S., that is, the total market value of all the goods and services annually produced in the U.S. economy. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has virtually sworn that there will be no limits to ongoing government bailouts, including amounts that dwarf the multiple $trillions gifted to the corporate elite during and after the Great Recession that began in 2008, to fend off the wholesale failure of the nation’s banking institutions while millions lost their homes to foreclosure and otherwise suffered greatly in one of capitalism’s periodic and inherent crises.

Taxing the rich to pay off these debts has never been on the ruling class agenda. Indeed, the opposite has always been the case, exemplified by the ever increasing, always bipartisan Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump-era corporate tax cuts. Few doubt that the years ahead, as with the decades past, portend anything other than deepening encroachments on working class life, including the imposition of ever-new forms of regressive taxation and social cutbacks. This time, however, the creeping assault on working people will shift into high gear.

The fightback begins

But this time, we can fully expect that yesterday’s relative passivity, resting on the false hope that things will inevitably improve, perhaps with the next election, will give way to massive working class fightbacks fully capable of shaking the dread system’s very foundations. Unprecedented millions, perhaps tens of millions, and more are today keenly aware that they are not isolated individuals who must suffer isolated and demoralizing fates. Predatory capitalism is being daily and increasingly exposed in all its horrors, inequalities, injustices and greed.

Karl Marx’s observation in his famous “Communist Manifesto” says it all: “What the bourgeoisie produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Workers of the world unite!” Today’s increasingly conscious working class, for whom socialism’s egalitarian ideals are emerging as immediately necessary solutions, will soon take to the streets in myriad forms to make them a reality.

Today, a fundamentally irrational capitalism digs ditches to daily throw away incredible tons of all kinds of food that the billionaire capitalists cannot sell for a profit while millions of workers stand in long line at usually charity-based food banks to survive after their jobs have been terminated by no fault of their own. And the food conglomerates are rewarded with government $billions to pay for what they have wantonly destroyed. Wherever possible landlords look to serve eviction notices to the millions who live month to month.

During the 1929 Great Depression, big business agriculture burned literal mountains of potatoes while millions starved, a horror repeated with impunity today. At this very moment in time, the U.S. is fully capable of producing more than enough food to feed the entire nation, not to mention much of the world. Yet increasing numbers here and everywhere suffer and die daily from starvation. The problem, as a new generation is rapidly coming to understand, is the capitalist system itself. It cannot be fundamentally reformed. The ruling one percent who own and control the wealth of the nation and its associated means of production, must be replaced by the democratic rule of the vast majority, the working class in all its magnificent manifestations – its workers of all colors, origins, ages and nationalities, its immigrants, women and LGBTQI+ people – in short, the vast majority who produce the nation’s wealth yet are excluded from directly and democratically deciding how it should be allocated.

Winning this shining new egalitarian socialist future begins with the construction of a mass revolutionary socialist party whose ranks stand among today’s best fighters and whose united and massive mobilizations point the way to storming the heavens and bringing a new and vibrant society into being. Join us!

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Mapping Militarism 2020

by DAVID SWANSON

A new collection of maps found here displays what militarism looks like in the world. Here’s a brief guide to using and understanding them.

Across the top are 10 drop-down menus on these topics: Wars, Weapons, U.S. Weapons, Money, Nukes, Chemical and Biological, U.S. Military, Air Strikes, Law, and Promotes Peace and Security.

Some of the topics only include one map, others multiple maps. The one with the most has eight maps. When you click on the name of a map in a drop-down menu, you’ll see that map displayed. If the map contains data for multiple years, you can see previous years by changing the date at the bottom. You can even make it scroll forward through the years like a short video. You can select a particular country from a list or on the map. You can zoom in or out. You can click on the color key to display only the countries in a particular range of data (such as those with the highest spending on wars or suffering the highest number of air strikes). You can print any map or get a direct link to any map set to any date and other settings.

Each map has a year as part of its name. While the maps have all just been updated for 2020, the latest available data for some of them is from 2019 or an earlier year. The dates on the maps correspond to the years the data is from. None of the maps reflect any changes already brought about by or predicted or hoped for as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a bit of information about each topic that has been mapped.

Wars. This section includes three maps: Troops in AfghanistanWars PresentDrone Strikes.

The first map displays the number of troops from each nation that are taking part in the war on Afghanistan according to NATO. A number of these nations have declared their support for a global ceasefire, but without withdrawing their troops. Over the years, however, some nations have withdrawn their troops. Scroll the map back through time to see nations that used to be in this war but no longer are.

The second map highlights the nations where wars have caused 1,000 or more deaths in the past year according to data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program displayed at Wikipedia. Go to that link to find smaller wars as well. Scroll this map back through time to see where wars were in previous years. This map changes considerably from year to year, but the wars are always in the global south, mostly concentrated in North Africa and the Middle East, usually in areas rich in fossil fuels, and never in any of the nations that produce and export most of the weapons for the wars (see weapons maps below).

The third map displays data gathered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen on U.S. drone “strikes.” Unlike all the other maps, this data is cumulative. That is to say, the figure of 13,072 drone strikes on Afghanistan for 2020 is the total number over the past several years. But, notice that the total by 2019 was 5,888. This means that drone strikes on Afghanistan in the past year have exceeded those of all previous years combined. We also see a major increase in Somalia. In contrast, since the number for Pakistan is unchanged from 2019 to 2020, there have been no drone strikes recorded there in the past year. The reason the data for this map does not come from the U.S. government which surely knows it, is that the U.S. government does not provide such data to the public; this data has to be obtained by journalists working in the nations where people are being blown up.

Weapons. This topic contains eight maps. The source for the data in them is the U.S. State Department, which relies on data from the World Bank and the United Nations Statistical Division. The disadvantage with this source is any lack of trust with it, but the advantage is that the incredibly damning information cannot be questioned by the primary guilty party, since it provided the data itself. The latest data, new in 2020, is from 2017. About the eight maps:

Weapons Exported. This map provides the billions of U.S. dollars worth of weapons exported in 2017 from each country. The United States so dominates the field that it made sense to include the next map displaying percentages. Note that exports under $50 million are recorded as $0 because not provided by the State Department, so some of the nations listed at $0 are actually above that yet dealing in small change relative to the big weapons dealers of the world.

Weapons Exported as Percentage. This map shows what percentage of total global weapons exports was exported by each country. The United States was 78.5%. No other nation even reached 5%.

Weapons Exported to the Poorest Countries. This map provides the billions of U.S. dollars worth of weapons exported from each nation to the poorest quintile of nations on earth.

Weapons Exported to Poorest Countries as Percentage. The United States covers 43%, China 24%, Russia 19%.

Weapons Exported to the Least Democratic Countries. This map provides the billions of U.S. dollars worth of weapons exported to the least democratic quintile of nations on earth. Remember that this is data developed by the U.S. government and published without shame. (See also maps below on oppressive governments’ militaries armed, trained, and funded by the United States.)

Weapons Exported to Least Democratic Countries as Percentage. The United States accounts for 66%, the UK 11%, Russia 11%, China 9%, Germany 2%.

Weapons Exported to Middle East. This violent region produces very few weapons itself.

Weapons Exported to Middle East as Percentage. The United States accounts for 70%, the UK 11%, China 4%, Russia 3%, Germany 3%, France 2%, Italy 2%.

U.S. Weapons. This topic includes four maps that help us see just where the weapons of the world’s dominant weapons dealer go.

U.S. Weapons Imported 2015-2019. This map simply colors in the nations that have imported any weapons, whether a small or large amount, from the United States during these years. The source of this data is the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), where you can look for more detail. Notice that most of the world is covered. But note that this data does not include exports to anything that isn’t a nation, such as NATO or rebels trying to overthrow the government of Syria.

The next three maps draw on research done for a recent book and documented in detail in this article. They are:

Oppressive Governments Given or Sold U.S. Weapons 2010 to 2019.

Oppressive Governments Given U.S. Military Training 2017 to 2018.

Oppressive Governments Given U.S. Military Funding 2017 to 2019.

Almost all oppressive governments have the support of the U.S. government.

Money. This critical topic includes only one map but adds new data to it for each year from 2015 to 2019.

Spending in Millions of 2018 U.S. Dollars. This map shows the millions of dollars spent by each nation on militarism in each year. The data is all in constant 2018 dollars and exchange rates. The data all comes from SIPRI, which provides data up through 2019, whereas the U.S. State Department provides similar data only up through 2017. To compare that State Department data go here. The $718,689,000,000 figure for 2019 U.S. military spending that SIPRI provides falls far short of the $1,250,000,000,000 that the U.S. government is actually spending on militarism when all agencies and departments are included, yet the maps still show a striking contrast between U.S. spending and that by all other nations. One explanation for why the U.S. government seems so incapable of addressing the coronavirus threat while generally being credited with very professionally holding off the Russian, Iranian, Chinese, and North Korean menaces may be that the latter are imaginary. Russian military spending, which went down two of the past three years, is 8.9% of U.S. military spending. Iranian is at 1.3%. China is at 37%. Data is unavailable on North Korea, but its spending is a small fraction of that by the U.S. Meanwhile, Venezuela, as of 2017 (the most recent year with data), was at 0.001% of U.S. spending that year. As SIPRI has noted, global military spending increased significantly in 2019. Thus far in 2020 that trend seems to be continuing. Military spending by NATO members, led by Germany with the largest increase, has been up in recent years, following public badgering by U.S. President Donald Trump to spend more.

Nukes. This topic includes only one map, with data from 2014 to 2020. The source of the data is the Federation of American Scientists. Here’s the map:

Number of Nuclear Warheads. This map shows numbers of nuclear weapons possessed by each nation to the extent known. This number is one critical measure, but it is important to bear in mind that many of these weapons are vastly larger than were nuclear weapons of the past, while others are smaller and terrifyingly described by the U.S. government as “more usable.” The Federation of American Scientists notes: “The number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined significantly since the Cold War: down from a peak of approximately 70,300 in 1986 to an estimated 13,410 in early-2020. Government officials often portray that accomplishment as a result of current or recent arms control agreements, but the overwhelming portion of the reduction happened in the 1990s. Some also compare today’s numbers with that of the 1950s, but that is like comparing apples and oranges; today’s forces are vastly more capable. The pace of reduction has slowed significantly compared with the 1990s. Instead of planning for nuclear disarmament, the nuclear-armed states appear to plan to retain large arsenals for the indefinite future, are adding new nuclear weapons, and are increasing the role that such weapons play in their national strategies.”

Chemical and Biological. This topic contains only one map with data from 2014 to 2020:

Chemical and/or Biological Weapons Possessed. This map simply colors in the nations most likely (there are many uncertainties and dueling allegations) to possess any chemical or biological weapons. Here is a source. As pointed out in a recent article, the coronavirus may not have come from a lab but certainly exposes the danger posed to humanity by the work being done in labs.

U.S. Military. This topic includes four maps that help us visualize the militarism of the world’s leading militarist:

U.S. Bases Present. This map provides the number of U.S. bases in each nation on earth. The data comes from a new source this year, which may account for some of the variation between the 2020 data and the 2019 data that can be displayed on the map. The source is a List of U.S. Bases Abroad, compiled by David Vine. It is important to go to that source to understand details and uncertainties, and to find bases on tiny islands and other places too small to show up on the maps. This is very much a work in progress. The information is not provided by, and some believe not even fully known by anyone in, the U.S. government. If you have information to add, please contact us.

U.S. Troops Present. This map uses U.S. military data to display the number of U.S. troops openly admitted to being “permanently” based in each nation of the globe. This does not include troops taking part in wars or actions not labeled wars. Missing are “special” forces as well as the largely Navy personnel in Armed Forces Europe and Armed Forces Pacific. Missing is the CIA. Not counted are mercenaries and contractors.  Not displayable on the map are 8,471 troops listed by the U.S. military at the link above as being in “unknown” locations. We have added the 8,000 figure for Afghanistan from the map on troops in Afghanistan above, as well as 5,800 for Iraq and 5,800 for Syria based on this report.

NATO Membership. This map simply colors in the nations that are NATO members according to NATO. Not included are non-member partners.

U.S. Wars and Interventions Since 1945. It’s revealing to look at a map of all the places that the U.S. military has gone to fight at least once since 1945. For more detail go here.

Air Strikes. This topic includes only one map to display data on a handful of nations for which the U.S. military provides reports on its air strikes.

U.S. and Allies Air Strikes. The data is not cumulative. The number provided for a given year and country is the number of air strikes in that year alone. But the data does not distinguish between Iraq and Syria, treating the bombing of both nations as part of a single operation. So, the data for both of those nations is listed in both of them — which should not be interpreted to double the number of strikes. These numbers, in the thousands, require some imagination to understand as each indicating a horrific bombing. It may aid the imagination to picture the same number of “air strikes” in one’s own part of the world.

Law. This topic includes three maps indicating particular steps taken by some nations to uphold the rule of law:

Member of International Criminal Court.

Party to Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Party to Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Promotes Peace and Security. This topic adds three additional maps indicating further particular steps some nations have taken toward peace and security, or — indeed — survival:

Signed Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons.

Residents Have Signed World BEYOND War’s Declaration of Peace. It’s almost every nation now. You can read or sign it here.

Member of Nuclear Free Zone.

Additional steps toward peace could easily be mapped. Let us know what you’d most like to see added in 2021! We’ve dropped the Good Country Index ranking, as that index no longer includes any ranking clearly about acting for peace and against war. We also find the Global Peace Index to be off-topic as it lumps peace in with numerous other factors, resulting in the worst warmongers scoring relatively well. In place of a numerical ranking, we offer the above collection of maps.

Posted in USAComments Off on Mapping Militarism 2020

Bangladesh: Hundreds of Rohingya Refugees Stranded at Sea

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Thousands of Rohingya stranded on Bangladesh border.

Rights groups urge Bangladesh government to allow some 500 Rohingya stuck in the Bay of Bengal to come ashore.

Hundreds of Rohingya refugees are stranded on board two fishing trawlers in the Bay of Bengal without being able to reach land, while the Bangladesh government said they are not its responsibility, Al Jazeera reported Saturday.

RELATED: Bangladesh Orders Lockdown in Rohingya Camps Over COVID-19

At least 500 Rohingya refugees may have been at sea for weeks without adequate food and water, drawing criticism from rights groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister AK Abdul Momen told Al Jazeera that the Rohingya refugees are “not Bangladesh’s responsibility.”

“Why you are asking Bangladesh to take those Rohingyas? They are in the deep sea, not even in Bangladesh’s territorial water,” Momen said, adding that there are at least eight coastal countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal.

“It’s your duty to ask Myanmar government first because those are their citizens,” Momen told Al Jazeera.

The two trawlers recently received inhuman rejection by the countries of the region, putting of refugees and asylum seekers’ lives at risk, HRW denounced.

Malaysia has imposed restrictions on all boats in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving hundreds of Rohingya on board to their fate, as well as Thailand has indicated that it will refuse entry to Rohingya boats.

The official said that just weeks ago, Bangladesh rescued a total of 396 Rohingya people from a vessel that had been adrift for about two months after also failing to reach Malaysia.

“Why should Bangladesh take responsibility every time? Momen asked. “Bangladesh has already taken more than a million of Rohingya. We are running out of our generosity now.”

For his part, Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW said that “Bangladesh has shouldered a heavy burden as the result of the Myanmar military’s atrocity crimes, but this is no excuse to push boatloads of refugees out to sea to die.”

“Bangladesh should continue to help those at grave risk and preserve the international goodwill it has gained in recent years for helping the Rohingya,” he added. 

UNHCR also expressed its concern about the rejections and said “we are increasingly concerned by reports of failure to disembark vessels in distress and of the grave immediate risk this poses to the men, women and children on board. Search and rescue, along with prompt disembarkation, are life-saving acts.”

Under international law, public health measures taken by countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic must be proportionate, nondiscriminatory, and based on available scientific evidence, so the pandemic cannot justify a general ban, such as Bangladesh’s refusal to allow any Rohingya now or in the future to disembark.

Currently, around 900,000 Rohingya live in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, most of whom fled Myanmar since August 2017 to escape the military’s crimes against humanity and possible genocide.

The estimated 600,000 Rohingya that remain in Rakhine State in Myanmar are subject to government persecution and violence, confined to camps and villages without freedom of movement, and cut off from access to adequate food, health care, education, and livelihoods.

According to the United Nations, the Rohingyas are “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world,” while the Myanmar government has so far refused to grant them citizenship, violating their fundamental rights and leaving them as stateless, what makes their situation worse.

Posted in BangladeshComments Off on Bangladesh: Hundreds of Rohingya Refugees Stranded at Sea

N.Korea: Kim Jong Un Whereabouts of DPRK Leader

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un  has not been seen publicly in over two weeks.

Until now, it’s all rumors and unverified reports, but that has not stopped Twitter users from exulting in its favorite Kim death cult.

Following the public absence of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week, rumors began to surface that he might be seriously ill or even dead, which triggered a global speculation Saturday when a fake social media hashtag, #KIMJONGUNDEAD,  quickly went viral.

RELATED: Kim Jong Un Doesn’t Want His Country to End Up Like Libya

The 36-year-old leader of the isolated nation has not been seen publicly in over two weeks. Amid reports that he was facing a health crisis following recent surgery and failing to appear for a high-profile celebration for the nation’s armed services on Saturday only increased international curiosity. 

However, reporters and experts have urged caution and denounced those peddling in dangerous rumors and unverified information.

CEO of the Korea Risk Group Chad O’Carroll warned that “for now there are too many varying indicators” to know for sure or report accurately, on the current situation of the leader, and asked to wait for information from the Korea state media.

Speculation about Kim’s health problems spiked after CNN reported earlier this week, citing a U.S. official, that Washington is looking into intelligence that Kim is in “grave danger” after a surgery.

For its part, North Korean media outlets have not commented on the leader’s whereabouts without putting out any reports on his public activity amid persisting speculation over his health.

This week they put out reports on Kim sending diplomatic letters and conveying gifts to honored citizens but stopped short of providing reports or photos featuring his public activity.

Kim was last seen in public on April 11 and Saturday Yonhap News Agency, based in Seoul, reported that Kim remained “out of the public sight Saturday, as the reclusive nation’s tightly controlled media focused their coverage on the founding anniversary of its armed forces.”

Meanwhile, according to one anonymous South Korean official who spoke to Reuters, their intelligence is that Kim is alive and he would likely appear in public soon to demonstrate it. A U.S. official familiar with intelligence on the matter indicated the same, indicating to Reuters that “Kim was known to have health problems but they had no reason to conclude he was seriously ill or unable eventually to reappear in public.”

While the world is facing a global crisis from the new coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, this could also be another reason why the North Korean leader is taking precautions to avoid contagion after his surgery.

Posted in North KoreaComments Off on N.Korea: Kim Jong Un Whereabouts of DPRK Leader

Brazil’s Attorney General Demands Inquiry Against Bolsonaro

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Brazil's Attorney General Augusto Aras has asked for a formal inquiry of Moro's allegations.

This comes as former Justice Minister Sergio Moro accused the Head of State of politically interfering in Federal Police affairs.

Brazil’s Attorney General Augusto Aras requested Saturday for the Supreme Federal Court (STF) to open an investigation against the nation’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, following accusations presented by former Super-Minister of Justice Sergio Moro. 

RELATED: Brazil Justice Minister Quits in Bolsonaro’s Worst Crisis Yet

Moro, the former judge who took former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to jail, accused Bolsonaro on Friday of political interference in the Federal Police after the president fired its chief Mauricio Valeixo.

The former minister assured that in the dismissal of Valeixo was fraudulent and that Bolsonaro wanted to have access to confidential intelligence information of the Federal Police, “and really, it’s not the job of the federal police to give that information,” he said in a national chain speech.

Aras requested the investigation to determine if the facts recounted by Moro constitute crimes of responsibility committed by the Brazilian president, while the now former minister will be called to testify as a measure to proceed with the process.

Moro will have to attend an initial hearing, “so that he can present a detailed statement on the terms of the pronouncement, with the presentation of appropriate documentation that he may have on the events in question,” the prosecutor said.

The Attorney General also asked the STF magistrates to “investigate possible crimes of ideological falsehood, coercion in an ongoing process, embezzlement, obstruction of justice, privileged passive corruption, slanderous reporting and crime against honor.”

It is one of the strongest blows for the Bolsonaro government, who is also in the middle of a wave of criticism after his bad management to face the impact of the COVID-19 that is causing thousands of deaths in the country.

After losing not only one of his top ministers but one of his closest allies analysts say this could probably be the end of his term, as well as several members of Congress believe that he could be impeached.

Posted in BrazilComments Off on Brazil’s Attorney General Demands Inquiry Against Bolsonaro

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