Archive | September 13th, 2020

Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Zion Jewish groups support BLM while ignoring Palestinian genocide

PHILIP GIRALDI 

There is a tendency on the part of major Jewish groups in the United States and in Europe to discover what they describe as anti-Semitism wherever one turns. Last month, a statue of the well-known and highly respected 18th century French writer and political philosopher Voltaire was removed from outside the Académie Française in Paris. Voltaire was a major figure in the “Enlightenment,” during which what we now call science and applied rationalism challenged the authority of the church and the King.

The statue had recently been vandalized by the French version of Black Lives Matter (BLM) because Voltaire had reportedly invested in the French East India Company, which engaged in the triangular trade between Europe, Africa and the New World. The commodities included Africans who were destined to become slaves in the European colonies. Beyond that Voltaire, a man of his times, believed blacks to have “little or no intelligence” and also considered Jews to be born “with raging fanaticism in their hearts.”

Voltaire was reportedly much admired by Hitler, so perhaps it would not be off base to suggest that in France, where the Jewish community is extremely powerful while Africans are not, it was Voltaire cast as the anti-Semite that consigned his statue to a government warehouse never to be seen again. By that reasoning, one expects that the world will soon have a ban on the music of Richard Wagner and Ludwig van Beethoven as they too were admired by Hitler.

The idea that someone can change history by ignoring aspects of it means that school textbooks are being rewritten at a furious pace to make sure that there is overwhelming coverage of the holocaust and black achievement. Also, the erasing of monuments is being pursued with singular intensity in the United States, where the Founding Fathers and other dead white males are being one by one consigned to the trash heap. Doing so, unfortunately, also destroys the learning experience that can be derived from using the monuments as visual mechanisms for confronting and understanding the mistakes made in the past. A commission set up by the mayor of the District of Columbia has, for example, compiled a hit list of monuments and commemorations that must be either removed, renamed or placed into “context.” It includes the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument. The name “Columbia” is, of course, certain to be changed.

Interestingly, Jewish groups in the United States have been in the forefront in supporting BLM’s apparent mission to upend what used to pass for America’s European-derived culture. Ironically, that culture includes free speech, democracy and mercantilism, all of which have greatly benefited Jews. The narrative is, of course, being wrapped around the common cause of blacks and Jews together fighting against the alleged white nationalists who are being blamed by the media for much of the violence taking place even when videos taken at the scenes of the rioting definitely show nearly all black mobs doing the arson and looting.

And blacks who are skeptical of the Jewish role are quickly put in their place, as was Rodney Muhammad of Philadelphia, who was removed from his executive position with the NAACP after expressing skepticism about all the Jewish friends that blacks suddenly appeared to be acquiring, quoting an observation often attributed to the now disgraced Voltaire on a Facebook entry, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

The lead organization in shaping the acceptable narrative is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which promotes itself as “Fighting Hate for Good.” In other words, anyone on the other side of the narrative is by definition a “hater.” ADL apparently advertised an online discussion topic for August 28th, shortly after the shooting incident in Kenosha Wisconsin that killed two white men and injured a third. The headline reads “Why all white American middle schoolers must publicly condemn the Anti-Semitic murders by white supremacist Kyle Rittenhouse.”

If the ad is indeed genuine, one notes immediately that the killings are being framed as anti-Semitism without any actual evidence to suggest that anything like that was involved or that the shooter knew the religion of those who were confronting him. All three of the “victims” are described as BLM supporters, which they apparently were, but it ignores the fact that they were also Antifa activists and all three had criminal records involving violence. One of them, Joseph Rosenbaum, is, to be sure Jewish, and also a pedophile, and the other two might also be Jews if ADL is correct, but that does not seem to have been material in what took place. Credible accounts of the shooting suggest that Rittenhouse was attacked by the three, one of whom, Grosskreutz, had a gun, and was being beaten on his head with Huber’s sidewalk surfboard. He responded in self-defense.

And ADL is not alone in its defense of BLM. More than six hundred Jewish groups have signed on to a full page newspaper ad supporting the movement. The ad says “We speak with one voice when we say, unequivocally: Black Lives Matter” and then goes on to assert “There are politicians and political movements in this country who build power by deliberately manufacturing fear to divide us against each other. All too often, anti-Semitism is at the center of these manufactured divisions.”

So, once again, it is all about the perpetual victimhood of Jews. That Jews constitute the wealthiest and best educated demographic in the United States would seem to suggest that they are especially favored, which they are, rather than targeted by raging mobs of hillbillies. More than 90% of discretionary Department of Homeland Security funds goes to protect Jewish facilities and the Department of Education and Congress are always prepared to create new rules protecting Jews from feeling “uncomfortable” in their occasional interactions with critics of Israel.

Jews largely think and vote progressive, which is part of the reason for aligning with blacks even though rioting and looting is likely to affect them more than other demographics as many of them might still have businesses in the cities that are most likely to be hit. But there is also a much bigger reason to do so. Many blacks in BLM as well as progressive white supporters were beginning to suggest that the movement should broaden its agenda and recognize inter alia the suffering of others, to include the Palestinian people. A strong show of support from Jewish groups, backed up by what one might presume to be a flow of contributions to the cause, would presumably be a way of nipping that sentiment in the bud just as Jewish donors to the Democratic Party were able to block any language in the party platform sympathetic to the Palestinians.

It is of course the ultimate irony that Jewish groups are very sensitive to the suffering of blacks in the United State while at the same time largely ignoring the war crimes and other devastation going on in Israel and Palestine at the hands of their co-religionists. The beating and shooting of unarmed and unresisting Palestinians, to include children, the destruction of the livelihoods of farmers, and the demolition of homes to make way for Jewish settlers is beyond belief and is largely invisible as the Jewish influenced U.S. media does not report it. It is, simply put, genocide. And on top of that, Israel has been bombing defenseless civilians in Gaza nearly daily of late, attacking and destabilizing Lebanon and Syria, and also conniving with American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to go to war with Iran.

It should not be surprising if black groups would be suspicious of the motives of the Jewish organizations that suddenly seem to want to be friendly. When Rodney Muhammad was removed from his position with the NAACP in Philadelphia, Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of ADL, tweeted “Credit to Executive Committee of Philly NAACP & National NAACP for taking action here. We hope this will enable new opportunities for collaboration as the local Black & Jewish communities can do more to fight against hate & push for dignity of all people.”

Greenblatt has been a leader in the fight to criminalize both criticism of Israel and also the free speech being exercised by supporters of the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). For him, “dignity of all people” clearly does not include Palestinians or even anyone who peacefully supports their cause.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights, Politics0 Comments

Giants and Warriors Workers Fight Back

by MARC NORTON

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The San Francisco Giants returned home on Friday, August 14 and found themselves being picketed by the workers who normally sell garlic fries and beer to the fans. This must have been bad karma, as both Friday and Saturday the Giants blew a big lead over the Oakland A’s in the ninth inning, then got blown away by the A’s on Sunday 15-3. In fact, ever since the Giants fired their concession workers on July 27, the team has lost 13 out of 19 games.

The Warriors quickly piled on, firing their concession workers as well, for a grand total of 2,154 pink slips. Actually, in the modern world, pink slips are delivered by email and are thus colorless. The Warriors, of course, were out of contention already. Any relationship between the Giants’ and Warriors’ bottom-dwelling standings and their cruelty towards their workers is only circumstantial.

There are stories circulating that the Giants are considering rescinding these boneheaded terminations, but none of us have seen anything official yet. There are also rumors that the Giants might start winning games.

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Workers protesting at the Giants ballpark on Friday, August 14.

UNITE HERE Local 2, which represents both Giants and Warriors food-service workers, has so far concentrated its return fire on the Giants, who at least provide a visible target. That is why, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Hundreds of demonstrators took to Willie Mays Plaza on Friday night calling for justice for Oracle Park’s out-of-work food-service employees.” You can find some video and photos of this action on my website.

Local 2 has upped the ante, demanding not only that the Giants toss the terminations, but that they pony up some money for their out-of-work workers. The Giants are certainly making money selling broadcast rights to their games, if not from selling garlic fries and beer. Nobody has suggested that they are about to go out of business. But their workers – many of whom have worked for the Giants for 20, 30, even 40 years – are struggling to pay their rent and put food on the table.

The Giants so far say that they won’t even talk to Local 2. Apparently, for the Giants, whose workers are overwhelmingly people of color, Black lives matter, unless they work for the Giants. Brown lives, Asian lives and even white lives don’t matter much either.

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The Giants are trying to hide behind the fact that it was their subcontractor Bon Appetit that formally gave the workers the axe. But San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, who joined us at our protest, put it this way: “The reality is that these workers may work for a subcontractor, but when you look at their shirts it says GIANTS.”

I wonder if Charles Johnson has been watching Giants games, or if he is content to just count his money. Johnson, for those who don’t already know, is the primary owner of the Giants. He is worth around $4.5 billion dollars. Forbes Magazine describes the source of his wealth as “money management.” Now, that’s a job I would like. Johnson is of course a big-time supporter of Dark Ages Donald Trump.

Johnson got himself in a public relations scuffle a while back when it was revealed that he helped fund a racist ad in support of a Southern congressman. Johnson subsequently tried to distance himself from this ad, issuing one of those “gee I didn’t know what people were doing with my money” sorta apologies. Money management, indeed.

But then Johnson stepped into it again, getting caught donating money to racist Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith who brags about wanting to be “in the front row” of a “public hanging,” and also appeared in a video saying “there’s a lot of liberal folks… who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult.” When all that hit the media, Johnson issued another one of his sorta apologies.

Larry Baer, the Giants CEO, had to run cover for Johnson in the Hyde-Smith imbroglio. Baer himself is no stranger to apologies, having been sent to the woodpile after he got caught on video assaulting his wife. He was suspended for three months from his job with the Giants, after apologizing, this time for his own actions.

It seems the Giants higher-ups are very practiced at issuing apologies. So they ought to be able to apologize now for firing their concession workers, and reach into their back-pockets to put some substance behind that apology.

Local 2 has plans to be back at the Giants ballpark in force when the Giants next face the Dodgers, on August 25 – unless the Giants somehow come to their senses before then. See you all there.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Trump’s War on the Post Office and the Census Bureau

by MELVIN GOODMAN

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Donald Trump’s war on U.S. governance and democracy has targeted two of the oldest institutions in the country—the Post Office and the Census.  The Post Office is older than the Constitution, tracing its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, when Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general.  The first Census was taken in 1790, just after the election of George Washington; it is taken every ten years in order to allocate seats for the House of Representatives.  Both institutions are explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution, and no U.S. president—other than Andrew Jackson—has tried to compromise them.

The Post Office has been in Trump’s cross hairs since he was told (falsely) in 2017 that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton due to widespread mail-in balloting fraud.  The following year, Trump targeted Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon and the Washington Post; he charged (falsely) that Bezos was “ripping off” the Post Office with “sweetheart deals” to ship Amazon’s packages.  Trump, of course, is obsessed with the negative coverage he receives in the Post as well as the New York Times. In 2019, Trump named three new members of the Postal Service Board of Governors, which elects the postmaster general.  In 2020, Louis DeJoy, who has donated more than $2 million to the Republican Party since Trump’s election, was named postmaster general.  The day after he was named, DeJoy bought stock in FedEx and UPS, the key rivals to the postal service.

Interestingly, President Andrew Jackson, whose portrait was hung in the Oval Office by Trump soon after his inauguration, also politicized the Post Office. He replaced 13 percent of postal workers, who Jackson believed were loyal to his predecessor John Quincy Adams.  Winifred Gallagher, author of “How the Post Office Created America,” is responsible for identifying Trump’s historical ties to President Jackson.  Trump stated publicly that he opposed additional funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS) because he didn’t want it to have the funding needed to ensure that mail-in ballots would be delivered in a timely manner.  He also tweeted that the election itself could be delayed because the pandemic made it unsafe to vote in person.

Postmaster General DeJoy, appointed in June to politicize the Post Office, immediately overhauled the corporate structure of the Postal Service.  He reassigned 33 top executives, thereby compromising the institutional memory of the Service.  He introduced so-called cost cutting measures, which are, in fact, designed to compromise the delivery of mail prior to a presidential election that will be decided by mail-in balloting.  DeJoy has forbidden postal workers to make extra trips to ensure prompt mail delivery, and has cracked down on the overtime needed routinely to clear mail backlogs.

DeJoy’s Post Office also is deactivating essential mail sorting machines prior to the election.  According to an article in Vice by Aaron Gordon, at least 19 machines have been removed or scheduled for removal at five processing facilities across the country, including New York, Pennsylvania, and Montana.  The Postal Service has offered no explanation for this decision.  At the same time, dozens of mail boxes in a handful of states have been removed, although a written protest from Senator Jon Tester (D/MT) may have stopped this activity at least temporarily.  In addition to the deactivation of high-speed sorters and the loss of overtime, DeJoy announced that first-class postage would now be required on the mailing of ballots. On August 18, in response to a great deal of political opposition, DeJoy announced that he would suspend the removal of mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes.  A great deal of damage already has been done, however, with the removal of equipment and collection boxes. Moreover, there is still the problem of fully funding the Postal Service, and the need to investigate DeJoy’s conflict of interests

In addition to the politicization of the Post Office and the attack on mail-in voting, the Trump administration has targeted the Census Bureau. The census of course is the key to representative government, which is why the Founding Fathers made the decennial enumeration of our entire population the first job of the federal government.  The census is the key to state representation in the House of Representatives and to the distribution of $1.5 trillion for various public programs.  As an editorial in the New York Times explained, “businesses rely on the data to plan investments;” “school districts rely on it to decide how many teachers to hire;” and “researchers use it to analyze the patterns of American life.”  This is just the kind of data and intelligence that Trump abhors.

According to a research professor at George Washington University, for every person missed by the 2010 census, that person’s state lost about $1000 in federal funding for Medicaid and child welfare programs. People of color and non-citizens will be greatly effected.  These are the programs and people that Trump and the Republican Party abhor.

Because of the pandemic and the difficulty of going door-to-door, this already promised to be the least accurate census ever taken.  In June 2020, the Trump administration created two new top-level positions at the Census Bureau and filled them with political appointees, clearly empowered to reduce the count of immigrants and ethnic minorities.  Neither appointee had experience in administration, let alone census issues.  One of them, Nathaniel Cogley, the new deputy director for policy, previously had made numerous media appearances to denounce the impeachment case against Trump. Following the appointments, the Trump administration announced that the census count would end a month earlier than originally planned, another step to assure the undercount of historically underrepresented groups.

At the start of his administration, Trump tried to add a question to the census to depress the count of non-citizens, and thus benefit Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites. The Trump administration had the audacity to argue that the Department of Commerce needed the citizenship question in order to help the Department of Justice enforce the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court stopped that act of chutzpah, recognizing that Trump’s Justice Department has never evidenced any interest in securing voting rights.

All of Trump’s acts of politicization have overwhelming support from the congressional Republican caucus.  The House of Representatives has passed legislation to extend the census through April 2021 because of the pandemic, but Senator Mitch McConnell (R/KY) predictably refuses to allow a vote. Ironically, McConnell represents one of the poorest states in the nation that would benefit the most from an accurate count.

Benjamin Franklin acknowledged to an inquiring citizen in Philadelphia in 1776 that the Founding Fathers had created a republic, but it would be up to the American citizenry to maintain it.  He warned that experiments in self-government elsewhere had ended in despotism “when the people became so corrupted as to need despotic government.”  Too many authoritarians have been elected, gradually seizing power in an incremental and even legal fashion.  Well, Trump wasn’t popularly elected, and his moves against the Post Office and the Census are illegal, presumably unconstitutional, putting American governance and our republic at risk.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Hands off Lebanon: Macron’s Self-serving ‘New Pact’ Must Be Shunned

by RAMZY BAROUD

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

French President, Emmanuel Macron, is in no position to pontificate to Lebanon about the need for political and economic reforms. Just as thousands of Lebanese took to the streets of Beirut demanding “revenge” against the ruling classes, the French people have relentlessly been doing the same; both peoples have been met with police violence and arrests.

Following the August 4 blast which killed over 200 people and wounded thousands more, the irony was inescapable when Macron showed up in a bizarre display of “solidarity” on the streets of Beirut. Macron should have taken his roadshow to the streets of Paris, not Beirut, to reassure his own people, burdened by growing inequality, rising unemployment and socio-economic hardship.

However, the French show went on, but in the Middle East. It was a perfectly choreographed scene, engineered to be reminiscent of France’s bygone colonial grandeur. On August 6, Macron stood imperiously amidst the ruins of a massive Beirut explosion, promising aid, accountability and vowing to never abandon France’s former colony.

A young Lebanese woman approached the French President, tearfully imploring him “Mr. President, you’re on General Gouraud Street; he freed us from the Ottomans. Free us from the current authorities.”

It is unconvincing that all of this: the sudden visit, the pleas for help, the emotional crowd surrounding Macron, were all impromptu events to reflect Lebanon’s undying love and unconditional trust of France.

Macron could have easily assessed the damage caused by the devastating explosion at the Beirut port. If the thousands of images and endless video streams were insufficient to convey the unprecedented ruin created by the Hiroshima-like blast, satellite and aerial footage certainly would have.

But Macron did not come to Lebanon to offer sincere solidarity. He came, like a ‘good’ French politician would – to exploit the shock, panic and fear of a dumbstruck nation, while it is feeling betrayed by its own government, bewildered and alone.

“I will talk to all political forces to ask them for a new pact. I am here today to propose a new political pact to them,” Macron said.

Certainly, Lebanon is in urgent need of a new pact, but not one that is engineered by France. Indeed, France was never a source of stability in Lebanon. Even the end of formal French colonialism in 1946 did not truly liberate Lebanon from Paris’ toxic influence and constant meddling.

Alas, devastated Lebanon is now receptive to another bout of ‘disaster capitalism’:  the notion that a country must be on its knees as a prerequisite to foreign economic takeover, political and, if necessary, military intervention.

If the words of the woman who beseeched Macron to ‘liberate’ Lebanon from its current leadership were not scripted by some clever French writer, they would represent one of the saddest displays of Lebanon’s modern politics – this woman, representing a nation, calling on its former colonizer to subjugate it once more, in order to save it from itself.

This is the crux of ‘disaster capitalism’.

“In moments of crisis, people are willing to hand over a great deal of power to anyone who claims to have a magic cure – whether the crisis is a financial meltdown or … a terrorist attack,” wrote the acclaimed Canadian author, Naomi Klein, in her seminal book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”.

The political fallout of the explosion – whatever its causes – were triggered perfectly from the perspective of those who want to ensure Lebanon never achieves its coveted moment of stability and sectarian harmony. Unprecedented in modern history, the country’s current economic crisis has dragged on interminably, while the ruling classes either seem to have no answers or are, largely, not keen on finding any.

On August 7, a United Nations-backed tribunal was scheduled to issue its final verdict regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri. Hariri’s killing, also by a massive blast in Beirut on February 14, 2005, has torn the country apart and, somewhat, placed Lebanon at the hands of foreign entities.

Whether the now postponed verdict was going to further divide Lebanese society or help it achieve closure, is moot. The port explosion will surely renew the French-led Western mandate over the country.

On August 6, four former Lebanese prime ministers called for an ‘international investigation’ into the causes of the blast, hoping to win political leverage against their political opponents, setting the stage for another sectarian and political crisis.

Local forces are quickly scrambling to position themselves behind a winning political strategy. “We have no trust at all in this ruling gang,” leading Lebanese Druze politician, Walid Jumblatt, said. He, too, is demanding an international investigation.

Times of national crisis often lead to unity, however temporary, among various communities, since mass tragedies often harm all sectors of society. In Lebanon, however, unity remains elusive, as most political camps have allegiances that transcend the people and nation. People often hold onto their clans and sects due to their lack of trust in the central government. Politicians, instead, are beholden to regional and international powers – as in Macron’s France.

But France should not be the last lifeline for the Lebanese people, despite their desperation, anger and betrayal. France is currently involved in two of the ugliest and protracted conflicts in the Middle East and West Africa: Libya and Mali. Predictably, in both cases, Paris had also promised to be a force for good. While Libya has essentially been turned into a failed state, Mali persists under total French subjugation. It is no exaggeration to argue that France is currently involved in an active military occupation of Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Lebanon should be aware that its current tragedy is the perfect opportunity for its former colonial masters to stage a comeback, which would hardly save Lebanon and her people from their persisting calamity.

Macron’s bizarre and dangerous political act in the streets of Beirut should worry all Lebanese, at least those who truly care about their country.

Posted in Lebanon0 Comments

Torturing Assange: An Interview with Andrew Fowler

by JOHN KENDALL HAWKINS

“I love Wikileaks.”

– DJ Trump

“Can’t we drone him?”

– Hillary Clinton

Andrew Fowler is an Australian award-winning investigative journalist and a former reporter for the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent and Four Corners programs. and the author of The Most Dangerous Man in the World: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks’ Fight for Freedom. This is an updated edition of his 2011 account of the rise and political imprisonment of Assange. Much of that account explained how Assange seemingly inevitably moved toward an adversarial positioning against American imperialism abroad. He was a tonic for the indifference expressed by so many ordinary Americans in the traumatic aftermath of 9/11 and the rise of the surveillance state. Boston Legal’s Alan Shore (James Spader) seems to sum it up succinctly.

His updated version discusses the torture Assange is currently undergoing at Belmarsh prison in Britain. Here is a mut-see film regarding his torture.

His book also contains the latest on UC Global’s comprehensive spying on Assange and his visitors at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in the last year of his ‘refuge’ there. UC Global is a Spanish security company hired to protect the embassy. It has since been revealed that they were passing on data to American intelligence, presumably the CIA. Certainly, Fowler implies such a connection in his updated book, citing two Assange hacking breaches of US government servers, each of which, Fowler writes, the CIA went berserk, as if they’d been hit by a foreign enemy. In the last (new) chapter of the book, “The Casino,” Fowler describes how outraged the CIA was when Assange published their hacking tools, known as Vault 7, on Wikileaks: “Sean Roche, the deputy director of digital innovation at the CIA, remembers the reaction from those inside the CIA. He said he got a call from another CIA director who was out of breath: ‘It was the equivalent of a digital Pearl Harbor.’” Below is my recent interview with the author.

* Note: Upon his release of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg was referred to as “the most dangerous man in the world.”

What is the up-to-date status of Julian’s health?

It seems quite clear that there is an attempt by the British and US administrations to destroy Assange, either driving him to suicide or a psychological breakdown. He has had a lung condition for a number of years, which has not been properly treated, and is clearly suffering from huge stress. During his last court appearance over a video link, there were long pauses between his words, even when speaking his own name.

When Chelsea Manning was imprisoned at Quantico she spent 23 hours per day in solitary confinement and was stripped naked at night. How does Julian’s treatment at Belmarsh compare? Manning’s treatment was said to be an attempt to coerce her into ratting on others, including, presumably Assange. What do you see as the ultimate purpose of Assange’s treatment? And how does it amount to torture?

The ultimate purpose of Assange’s treatment is a warning to others. Particularly other journalists. It’s the modern day equivalent of crucifixion, putting heads of enemies on spikes, or public hangings. The torture of Assange involves two main areas: being confined to three rooms in a single building for 7 years, and unable to leave without fear of arrest and extradition to Sweden which was playing an underhand role to allow Assange to be extrdited to the US. As the UN rapporteur on torture Nils Meltzer wrote that never in the two decades he had spent investigating war crimes had he ever seen such a ganging up of so many powerful nations against one individual. It is a testament to Assange’s mental strength that he resisted at all.

No effort was made by the Swedes to “question” Assange once he was lifted from the Ecuadorian Embassy, suggesting that their purpose all along was, as Assange and his defenders averred, a pretext for hand-over. You’d think there was some way to nix the bail jump charge given this likelihood of intergovernmental collusion. Thoughts?

There are no outstanding allegations for Assange to answer in Sweden. They were always only allegations, rather than charges. It is important to understand that if the Swedish prosecutors had charged Assange, they would have had to reveal the evidence of the ‘offences’ to his lawyers upon which those charges were based. And the evidence was not only thin, it pointed to a conspiracy. So it was possible to keep Assange in the embassy, while the UK prosecuting authority worked at ways of getting him extradited to Sweden. There seems little doubt that the plan all along was to use Sweden as a holding pen for Assange as the US applied for his extradition. It is possible he could take his case to the European Human Court of Human Rights, but the Brexit decision, makes this area extremely murky.

Can you provide more details about the UC Global, the Spanish company brought into the Ecuadorian Embassy to spy on Assange? Do we know more about what data that they gathered? Has a more definitive connection to the CIA been made? Has any further effort been put into place to quash the extradition process based on this fact alone? (He could never expect a fair trial back in the US if such surveillance and potentially framing were done.)

UC Global not only recorded hundreds of conversations inside the Ecuadorian embassy, but also photographed the phones [and] their location identifying IMEI numbers, passports and other documents of everyone who visited Assange in the embassy between 2015 and 2018. It’s my understanding that the case running in Madrid at the moment against the former CEO of UC Global, David Morales, who is charged with illegally spying on Assange and his lawyers (a specifically illegal act in Europe) will be used by the Assange legal team to argue that the US extradition case should be thrown out. It is my understanding that if any material gathered spying on Assange and his lawyers is used, or even known about, by those involved in the US prosecution – the charges must be withdrawn. There has been no definitive connection to the CIA. The closest I have managed to make the link is to the State Department and White House confidantes.

Snowden’s, Permanent Record is one of the best reads I’ve had in quite some time. You could argue that his revelations are equally, if not more significant, than what Assange offers up through Wikileaks. Where do you stand on the difference of value, if any, between Wikileaks and the Snowden revelations?

The main differences are: Assange is a recipient of information which as a journalist he publishes. Snowden is a source. When it comes to quantifying the different values of their work, Assange mainly provided information and analysis, whereas Snowden exposed intelligence gathering systems. In the source-journalist relationship, they both need each other. Both exposed the activities of a war-making machine. Without Assange it is unlikely that we would have had Snowden. It was WikiLeaks that opened up the public on a truly massive scale to a secret world of horror and deception which until then had been largely hidden from view. For Snowden’s part he brought the argument home that it wasn’t just foreign governments who were being spied on, it was the Americans themselves. They both played a significant and at times overlapping role in revealing the truth about the world we’re in.

Assange and Snowden seem to have had their differences over the years. Snowden describes in PR how he chose his nickname: “The final name I chose for my correspondence was ‘Verax,’ Latin for ‘speaker of truth,’ in the hopes of proposing an alternative to the model of a hacker called ‘Mendax’ (‘speaker of lies’)—the pseudonym of the young man who’d grow up to become WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange.” (p.193) There was irritability there between them, and Snowden didn’t trust Assange with his life (fearing that a dump, rather than a journo-processed revelation system, would close off future whistleblower arguments). His first choice had been the NYT, but their suppression of James Risen’s 2004 pre-election piece on STELLARWIND enraged him and he ended up going with Greenwald et al, instead. Snowden suggests character differences between the two, but on the other hand Assange really pissed the US government off when he sent a woman to rescue Snowden from Hong Kong. Some of us thought Obama was going to shoot down Bolivia One with president Evo Morales on board because Obama thought Snowden was onboard.

I see in Permanent Record Snowden says he decided not to go with WikiLeaks because of a change of policy to publish material unredacted, or ‘pristine’ as he calls it. Not sure why he says this because WL policy is to redact. [Here’s Snowden’s explanation.] WL did put all the Iraq/Afghanistan/Cablegate documents online un-redacted, but only after David Leigh of the Guardian published the password — and the material was already out on the internet. I’ve never asked Assange this, but there is another Mendax. In the 1920s an Australian science fiction writer Erle Cox’a Mendax was an eccentric inventor. Mendax experiments with ‘matter transmission’ ‘invisibility’ and ‘extracting gold from seawater’. There is a tension between the two, no doubt about it. Snowden still errs on the side of secrecy and Assange on the side of publication, possibly the difference between an ex-intelligence agent and a journalist.

Covid-19 seems to be the wild card in the deck, vis-a-vis Assange’s extradition to the US. If he doesn’t contract the illness in prison, then his extradition next year could prove problematic — courts, protests, circus. How do you think the virus will affect the legal proceedings? Do you think he’ll be better off under Biden’s DOJ? Or worse, given the perceived threat to the Democrats he represents? Do you see a way for his defense to exploit the DNC/Russia hack dishonesty?

Not sure how Covid will impact anything much, other than slowing down the process, which in itself is extremely problematic for Assange. He’s already been in prison or under house arrest (including the embassy) for nine years. I’m not sure what it takes to embarrass the UK government into refusing the extradition request, but the new indictment is surely turning the political prosecution into a farce. The US now wants to re-arrest Assange to wrap in a new indictment because the first one was likely to fail. In past years it might have been possible for the UK Government to reject this deceptive or incompetent behaviour by the US, but Britain is a spent force now on the world stage, and the US can do whatever it wants.

As for Biden’s DoJ, he’s called Assange a ‘high-tech terrorist’ and has recently said though he favours freedom of the press it should not compromise US national security. Not much hope there.

One hope Assange has is the possible pardoning of Snowden. It plays to Trump’s ‘deep state’ argument that the intelligence agencies are out of control and were involved in the fabrication of Russian collusion. [Here’s Snowden referencing his work for the “Deep State”] Assange’s work has exposed CIA atrocities (which supports Trump’s position) but WikiLeaks has also revealed evidence of war crimes by the US military, an establishment so admired by his core supporters. I fear that a Snowden pardon, much as I would personally welcome it, would only further isolate Assange.

If Assange goes down, do you see a future for journalism in the world — given America’s so-called leadership in this area, by way of the holy first amendment, but with dwindling global newspapers. The Guardian, WaPo and the NYT remain the only papers of record available in every international terminal in the world — and sales falling for them, the fight over what’s real news and what isn’t underway (a proxy war to control the narrative), how do you see the fight for journalism ahead?

If Assange goes down, it will be the third domino. First, the rising power of executive government; second, the destruction of the, at times, countervailing power of the mainstream media, including public broadcasters who draw their political power from their audiences (and thus to a certain extent are independent). The internet has savaged media budgets which has weakened the overall media environment and empowered governments to attack and cut public broadcasters. Assange who used the internet as a weapon for journalism provided a way to re-energise old media structures — engage readers and challenge executive government authority. He provided a way to democratise journalism. It is the reason he is such a threat to the hegemony of the US led five eyes nations, who until recently in a uni-polar political and strategic world, have ruled supreme.

I sometimes marvel at the effect on journalism and even constitutional issues in America that Australians have had. Early on, Assange seems to have declared war on the DoD and, later, the US State Department; John Pilger has, with his interview with the CIA “rogue” Duane Clarridge, exposed the full fuckin hubris of American foreign policy; and, Fox News has so dumbed down the political conversation in America that it may be heading for a fate like that depicted in Idiocracy. Any thoughts?

There’s a strange contradiction in Australia. Australians are very conservative, and cautious, but part of the national identity is tied to the notion of anti-authoritarianism, dating back to the nation’s convict past. The degradation of the mainly poor, transported to Australia from the UK and Ireland two centuries ago for often minor crimes, created a bedrock of antagonism against the ruling ‘elites’. This long history of dissent in Australia has produced outstanding journalists such as Pilger and Assange, Wilfred Burchett and Philip Knightly. I can think of no better way to explain how Assange and Murdoch became two of the most influential global media figures in the past century. Murdoch rose to power as an anti-establishment figure in the UK and Assange has done the same on a global basis.

Posted in Human Rights, UK0 Comments

Will There Ever be Elections Again in Bolivia?


by VIJAY PRASHAD – MANUEL BERTOLDI

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

On November 10, 2019, President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia announced his resignation from the presidency. Morales had been elected in 2014 to a third presidential term, which should have lasted until January 2020. In November 2019, protests around his fourth electoral victory in October led to the police and the military asking Morales to step down; by every description of the term, this was a coup d’état. Two days later, Morales went into exile in Mexico.

On November 16, Morales told Mexican daily newspaper La Jornada that the coup that unseated him “was prepared” by the U.S. embassy in La Paz. The reason for the coup, he said, was—among others—Bolivia’s considerable lithium reserves and his government’s failure to surrender to North American multinational mining corporations. Morales told La Jornada’s Miguel Angel Velázquez it seemed his “sin” was that he “implemented social programs for the humblest families.”

The coup was justified by the Bolivian oligarchy and the United States government as the restoration of democracy. By “democracy,” the oligarchs and the U.S. government mean rule by elites who politely hand over resources to mining firms at concessionary rates; they do not mean that the people—who should have sovereignty over their lives and their resources—actually govern. This is why there is no anxiety in large sections of the Bolivian oligarchy and the U.S. government that Bolivia will not have an elected government in at least a year.

A Coup Government Remains

Morales was replaced by Jeanine Áñez, a minor politician who was outside the constitutional chain of succession. Áñez said that she would not seek election after her interim period was over, but quickly turned her back on that promise; this was the first of many promises she would break. The presidential election was set for May 3, 2020. Due to her government’s inability to control the coronavirus, the election was postponed until September 6, 2020.

Áñez and her coalition are polling far behind the Movement for Socialism (MAS), Morales’ party whose ticket consists of Luis Arce Catacora for president and David Choquehuanca Céspedes for vice president, as well as behind the center-right Civic Community party of Carlos Mesa (a former president of Bolivia who also ran against Morales in the October 2019 election and lost). Afraid of a humiliating loss, Áñez pressured the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to postpone the election to October 18, 2020. There is no guarantee that there will not be a further postponement.

The TSE is now headed by Salvador Romero, whom Morales had decided not to reinstate when Romero’s term ended in 2008 because of Romero’s dangerously close relationship to the United States government. After he was not reinstated, Romero complained to Philip Goldberg, the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia. Goldberg met Romero warmly but could not force Morales to put him back in his position. Nonetheless, the United States provided Romero with a nice post: he took a job in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, at the National Democratic Institute. (The National Democratic Institute, based in Washington, is loosely affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party.)

While in Honduras, Romero ensured that the violent conditions during the 2013 Honduran presidential elections did not provoke any kind of international condemnation as the far right’s Juan Orlando Hernández (favored by the U.S. government) defeated the left’s Xiomara Castro. Romero and others like him covered up the dirty tricks (such as minimizing the significance of a power outage as Hernández pulled ahead of Castro during vote counting) that led to Hernández’s victory. Romero told the New York Times that despite “the general perception of fraud,” the election was fine. After she took power in November 2019, Áñez—with the backing of the U.S. government—brought Romero back to Bolivia to head the TSE.

Fractures in the Right

All is not well in the camp of the far right in Bolivia. Áñez does not command the field. Carlos Mesa, the candidate of the center-right, is eager to make this election between himself and the MAS, with Áñez stepping aside to allow the votes of the right wing to consolidate behind him. But he has had no luck; she would prefer that he stand down and prolong the wait for an election while she leads.

Áñez came to power due to the shock troops of the far right, groups such as the Santa Cruz Civic Committee (a misnomer), the Resistencia Juvenil Cochala, and the Unión Juvenil Cruceñista. The main figure who had galvanized these groups was Luis Fernando Camacho, a businessman from Santa Cruz with the sensibility of a fascist thug. After the coup, Branko Marinković, who had absconded to Brazil after he was charged with sedition, returned to Bolivia and tried to regain control of these various far-right platforms. The rivalry between Camacho and Marinković, and the uncertainty about the possibility of a right-wing triumph at the polls, has stayed the hand of Áñez and Romero; they would prefer to have no election (using the excuse of the pandemic) over an election that returned the MAS to power.

Protests for the Election

A week of blockades, marches, and gatherings in early August took place across Bolivia to insist on an election. The protests demanded that the election date of September 6 be reinstated. That is unlikely to happen. But the protests have put the TSE on notice that any further delay of elections—or blatant intervention in election results when they do take place—is likely to result in public outcry.

All the polls suggest that the MAS will win the first round of the election; if the far right and center-right do not coalesce after the first round, and if the left is able to unite, then the MAS might win a two-way second-round election. If the left remains disunited, then this promises to hamper the election prospects of MAS.

In power for 14 years, MAS moved an agenda that made impressive gains for the people. At the same time, over that long period, MAS was not able to please every social sector, every time. Fissures in the camp of the left opened up when Morales was in office, so much so it was the country’s largest trade union federation (Central Obrera Boliviana, or COB) that publicly asked for the resignation of Morales.

Groups such as COB, the Ponchos Rojos, the National Confederation of Indigenous Peasant Women, and the Pact of Unity led the recent protest; they galvanized the people behind the demand for the immediate resignation of the Áñez regime and for immediate elections. Unity between these groups—which have excited the core of the left with their public actions—and the MAS is not yet established. These fissures weaken the left as these organizations proceed toward a continuation of struggles and the election. If the left were to stand together, the return of MAS to power is virtually guaranteed. The main task of the left is to consolidate the unity of the popular forces and to promote the young leadership that has come to the surface in these mobilizations. Unity, they say, is their focus.

Still, though, many people in Bolivia fear that the full array of dirty tricks—including blackouts during the counting of votes—will steal the election from them. It is not hard to imagine that this is what a coup regime has in mind; it did not annul democracy to allow democracy to remove it from office.

Posted in Bolivia0 Comments

On Capital Punishment

by PAUL EDWARDS

Beheading of John the Baptist, woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld, 1860

There’s no ambiguity in the term: capital punishment is killing, carried out by an entity commonly, but not exclusively, judicially empowered.  It refers only to the killing of persons, of course.  Doesn’t it?

In this uniquely terrible time in America, when there is such fathomless confusion and desperation, such vitriolic, violent and conflicted fury in the adversarial masses, when we watch the empty catechism of our national mythology shatter and evaporate, when we are compelled to stare into the abyss of all our historic falsity, pretense, viciousness and dishonor, when national disintegration and death seem not only possible but likely, to hold on to sanity one must try to understand how this could have come to be.

How is it that a nation that had as close to a truly fresh start as any known, that, free of the socio-economic bonds and fetters of ossified, post-feudal Europe and unencumbered by the congealed paralysis of tradition that strangled Africa and the Orient, might have evolved according to the best  Enlightenment ideals and humane practices, has declined to a point where its political farce is moribund and stinking, its economic reality is obscenely vicious, and its whole society is crippled by anxiety, fear and racial hatred?

It’s not possible to trace and catalog the impenetrably tangled complex of historical decisions and choices that, in aggregate, over time, led to the critical, perhaps fatal, condition in which we are enmeshed and imprisoned today, but that’s not required.  What is required is a species of miracle.  One that only occurs when mankind makes a quantum cognitive leap from one universal, absolute, and ruling dogma to a wiser, sounder paradigm.

The leap that must be made, and against which the odds are astronomical, is from the petrified religion of Capitalism to a life-centered, life-preserving economic system.  If this transition is not made and Capitalism is allowed to continue its mindless, murderous assault on all life it will destroy the natural world, including the human race.  That all humanity is not afire with passion to demand this leap be made is due entirely to the managed ignorance and  policed impotence of The People perpetuated by the Capitalist Tyranny.

Capitalism has been a tool of privilege and power, and a cynical, cruel, malevolent fraud from its beginnings.  In its simple, ingenious design it has proven to be the most efficient tool for mercilessly exploiting human vulnerability and utterly debasing rational government ever devised by the perverse mind of Man.  Its simple basis is using money to extract surplus value from workers paid the lowest possible wage.  In situations of general human poverty–which, historically was nearly everywhere, always–Capital paid only the bare pittance that could keep its miserable labor pool alive.

Marx, in his prolix, academically impenetrable prose, clinically dissected and dismembered Capitalism long ago, but only after its raging infection had armed controlling elites with a financial bonanza that enabled them to own entire governments and impose their vile dogma on the great mass of humanity.  It was sold as a means–the only one–to generate prosperity which would benefit all justly, according to their contributions to its success.  That was the mantra, endlessly repeated and affirmed by the power of the state, that allowed it to assume the magical character of a religion.

In Marx’s day, Capitalism evolved in an atmosphere of violent, unregulated blood and guts competition, and enterprises stood or fell, throve of failed, on the basis of “to the victor belong the spoils”.  Many great fortunes in the 19th and early 20th centuries saw their massive success and consolidation built of the bones and blood of their out-hustled, out-maneuvered rivals.

That kind of open warfare, so damaging to so many Capitalist entities, went out through the brokered collusion of industry and government by World War I.  Socialism, ever its bete noir, saw its central tenets appropriated to change Capitalism’s rules, to diminish raw competition, and to shore up the howling fraud of private enterprise.  By the Great Depression Capitalism had become a welfare client of nations and a bad joke for cognoscenti.

Keynes said it: “Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of motives, will somehow work for the benefit of all.”

Though both critics and oligarchs knew its falsity, and though its ruinous, catastrophic crashes had repeatedly rocked the world, violently battering working people, its propaganda prevailed.  That humanity is ignorant and gullible is not news, witness America today, and recovery from the fully metastasized systemic disease of the Capitalist catechism is glacial in this nation of baffled, deluded people, in spite of their long suffering under it.

J.K. Galbraith nailed its hucksters to the wall: “The modern Conservative is engaged in one of mankind’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

But that, too, is outdated.  They no longer search.  They make no effort to justify themselves and their crime.  Their power, entrenched and buttressed by rented governments, permits them to gloat openly and flaunt their piracy.  They truly believe, in the face of the mortal chaos they’ve created, that–as the Harpy, Maggie Thatcher, once boasted–there is no alternative.

It’s not so.  There is today no continuity of what was called Capitalism.  It’s dead.  It doesn’t exist.  The phony artifact of classic Capitalism long since ceased to be about initiative, cunning, and independent rapacity, and is now a sick racket on life support, relying on government welfare with no need to function efficiently or even adequately.  Trillions are funneled into it by the government it owns to fuel the Imperial War Machine and fade the global crap game of debt and derivatives it runs as a casino.  When bets go bust the state manufactures more fiat money with less and less real value, jeopardizing the dollar hegemony that is Welfare Capitalisms only support.

The Imperial State, borrowing from itself, and peddling cheapened money to financially captive foreign governments to fund its militarist follies and further enrich its billionaire owners, having raped its own country’s natural resources, fouled the whole world’s air, land, and oceans, murdered many millions of the guiltless poor and helpless, and stolen its citizens birthright and future, teeters perilously at the brink of implosion and meltdown.

Capital punishment, indeed…

When hope fails, magical thinking begins.  A miracle of human evolution is needed for life to continue.  There is no time left, and there are no options, no escapes, no dodges.  Life forms must adapt, evolve, or die.  Contrary to our central myth, we are not an exception.  We must act now, and choose life or extinction.  This will be our finest hour.  Or, very soon, our last.

Posted in USA, Human Rights0 Comments

Pandemic Panhandling

by DAVID ROVICS

One story of surviving as an artist in the USA, from the collapse of the music industry to the housing crisis to the pandemic.

Occasionally, for one reason or another, I feel inspired to write an essay about my personal finances, mainly because, for me, it’s an interesting perspective, the really up-close and nitty gritty one. But also these days, the plight of artists is often in the news, along with the plights of many other people, and I have been regularly getting messages from people who are concerned about my welfare in these times, and wondering how I’m doing. Sometimes they assume that because I’m doing a lot of writing and organizing around rent strikes and eviction defense, I must soon be facing eviction myself.

If you happen to be one of those people wondering about such things, but you’re not interested in the lengthy explanation, the short answer is up til this point, me and my family are doing OK, with no imminent prospect for having to either sell or move into our car. We’re able to pay for rent and food despite the lack of work, and although there has been very little in the way of government assistance we’ve been able to access otherwise, we do have free health care for the most part, here in Oregon, if you’re poor enough to qualify, which we are.

For the more involved explanation, I’ll start with a brief recounting of the situation for me and many other artists prior to the pandemic.

For those of us old enough to have been working as touring musicians in the 1990’s, the music industry overall was about five times as big in 1997 as it was in 2017, when it finally stopped collapsing. From the major labels to the folks playing in the local pub, the whole industry has shrunk radically. Unevenly, at different times for different types of artists and to different degrees, but across the board. The main reason for this phenomenon has been the rise of the internet, and then particularly the unregulated corporate internet, and the rapid decline of the phenomenon of music fans purchasing CDs from artists at concerts, which is where the vast majority of such sales used to take place, among independent artists.

For me and many other indy artists I’ve talked to, 2013 was the year the floor totally dropped out of merch sales. It’s not a coincidence that this was also the year Spotify launched the free version of their music streaming platform. Spotify perfected a sort of corpse-feeding version of a new music industry, very much like what Uber did to the taxi business – in both cases, operating on an industry-destroying, investment-sustained business model whereby they function at a loss until they take over the world in the process, with lots of political corruption and government connivance, from Sweden to the United States.

As this process was taking place, the cost of housing kept rising in most parts of the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia and so many other countries I’m personally very familiar with. The rise in the cost of housing has also been associated with the same sorts of predatory corporate consolidation and bribery of legislative bodies, a la Spotify and Uber, incidentally. Real estate prices have also affected the music venues, which have been rapidly disappearing, charging instead of paying, and/or relocating into smaller spaces. A concomitant phenomenon has been the disappearance of the once-lucrative college circuit.

The shrinking of the music industry has been reflected in other statistics aside the 80% reduction in sales overall. Between the 2000 census and the 2010 census, 41% fewer people claim to be professional musicians in the US. (And that’s well before Spotify’s free tier.) During that same period, between those two censuses, the city of Portland, Oregon also lost about half of its Black population, which is an interesting correlation. Basically, people who were living close to the wire before the turn of the century became unable to live here ten years later. You can be sure the same sort of pattern took place in many other cities at more or less the same time. As I sit here now in this two-bedroom apartment, it was recently announced in the business press that the average Black family in the US cannot afford to live in a market-rate two-bedroom apartment.

With this multiplicity of obstacles – to recap, half your income that used to be represented by merch sales disappearing, eventually be be replaced by minimal amounts of streaming income, while your housing costs double and your ability to make money from touring decreases due to the same housing crisis and its impact on small businesses – it’s not surprising that so many artists, probably by now a solid majority of them, had to stop being professional artists, find another job or two, and turn their art into a hobby, when they have a chance to get to it.

A tiny percentage of artists who have produced multiple hits might be in a position to live off of royalties from radio airplay and Spotify. Those who essentially couldn’t live off of 20% of their former incomes had to find other ways to make ends meet, as the living they were making in the 90’s wasn’t all that great, either. The main options were finding other jobs that they could do in between tours, to tour a lot more to try to make up for other losses, to turn to different forms of patronage – crowdfunding or grants or some combination thereof – or to throw in the towel.

I was personally sometimes able to crowdfund successfully enough to pay for recording projects, despite the loss of any income from selling the results in any form. I was never able to make up for the loss of income from merch sales collapsing, however, so rather than trying to tour more or get another job, I turned towards patronage in 2013, on the advice of a wonderful accountant here in Portland. I didn’t realize it at the time, but retrospectively, it’s not a coincidence that I started crowdfunding patronage, at first only through my own website, later also on Patreon and Bandcamp, in the same year that Spotify kicked off it’s free tier.

As it happens, my pursuit of the patronage model just reached the point at the beginning of this year where, between the three aforementioned platforms plus streaming royalties, it adds up to rent plus food — just before the arrival of Covid-19.

What has become abundantly clear since the pandemic hit is the fact that the level of success I’ve achieved with crowdsourced patronage – paying for rent and food — puts me in a crowd of not more than 2% of formerly professional musicians out there. Everybody else had to tour, usually a lot, whether they wanted to tour that much or not, as I always also needed to do, much as I generally enjoyed it and look forward to someday doing more of it. And most of those artists also needed to work additional jobs aside from touring. Those who thought they had some kind of security because they had multiple sources of income – namely, income from touring, and income from working a service sector job of some kind – have discovered they didn’t have job security in a pandemic after all. We hear every day from NPR and many other news sources about all the artists, service sector workers, and so many others who have been surviving from the extra federal pandemic $600 a week on top of what would otherwise be usually an insultingly tiny pittance from the state employment department, how tiny depending on the state – and that’s if you qualify as a gig economy worker for such a privilege, which in Oregon, you did not. For those lucky enough to get through to the Employment Department and receive this federal money, it ran out at the end of July, and millions of people, be they artists, service sector workers, or a multitude of other professions who are out of work, talk about being on the edge of a financial cliff currently. For a staggering number of unemployed gig economy workers – still tens of thousands in the state of Oregon alone – money from the Employment Department has never come, after five months, and when we call, the line is literally always busy. (I wrote a song about it – “Ballad of the Oregon Employment Department.”)

As with so many other things, there is suddenly a much more widespread and much more talked-about awareness of how badly Spotify pays artists, how high the rent is, how much it costs in the US just to have internet access, and so on. Much more talked about is the fact that most artists aren’t making a living at their art. I guess for a lot of people, including so many artists, it was just assumed that of course you were working a day job in a cafe in order to afford to do gigs in the evenings. But now it’s been broadcast on Marketplace and elsewhere, it’s official, they almost all have other jobs of some kind, and most of them have lost all of them.

With all this press came a flurry of donations to me and many other artists.  I don’t know about everyone else, but for me they were significant.  They went a long way to make up for the loss of income from several canceled tours.  We did better than covering basic expenses, we even paid off half of our credit card debt.  The donations slowed down after the first couple months, and I imagine other artists also had this experience.  Which means they, and I, returned to what was the status quo after the pandemic hit, but prior to the flurry of donations.

In our apartment, we stopped paying the rent to our usurious corporate investor slumlord, The Randall Group, last April, because there is a suspension on evictions here, and out of solidarity with all those folks, such as the 98% of artists, by my estimation, who are currently unable to make ends meet unless they’ve got an inheritance, or a different job that didn’t disappear when the pandemic hit. We take our rent money and put it into a savings account every month, on the assumption that we may eventually have to pay all or part of it, in order to avoid getting evicted.

People regularly tell me I’m very productive, with all the interviews I’m doing and songs and other things I’m writing during these past five months, since I canceled the tours I had planned in nine different countries. If that’s true, it’s only because I’m part of a tiny little privileged group of artists who is both willing to beg, and good enough at doing it online after years of trying, to eke out a living at it.

I’m hesitant to even admit to this accomplishment, lest it vanish. Perhaps somehow once the stock market finally crashes, my numbers of patrons will, too? But for the moment, despite the precariousness of my profession for so many others – a profession so precarious that few people readily even conceptualize it as such – I sit here with my little, now unschooled family in this apartment, and I feel like I’m standing on a nice green hill, watching the valley below burning. Which a valley is literally doing, not far to the east of here, just to illustrate the point.

Posted in Health0 Comments

Congratulations to ‘Israel’!

US recognition of the annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights doesn't do  Israel any favours – Middle East Monitor

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to Israel for managing to establish full diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain. Israel will now have two fewer countries who would condemn its atrocities. 

With this new “peace deal,” Israel has legitimized the continued occupation of Palestinian land and daily murder and torture of women and children.
Even though Bahrain and the UAE have never been in a state of war nor did they share borders with Israel, the peace deal is being sold to us as “historic” where everyone is going to be a winner. Except for the Palestinians who would be enduring more suffering.

After the deal, President Trump got nominated to Nobel Peace Prize which will surely boost his popularity and help him win the election in a landslide. Jared Kushner, who is the main architect of the deal, will certainly get a commission from weapons contractors and the UAE for the sale of F-35 stealth fighters after he managed to secure the okay of PM Satanyahu. Trump will come to the aid of PM Naziyahu to ensure he does not get persecuted for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust charges. Americans will be able to locate the two Gulf states on the map and even name their rulers.

Meanwhile, this so-called peace deal will allow Israel to rule over Palestinians against their will, nullify their basic human rights, steal their lands, and give them only one of three choices if they wish to live happily: surrender, leave, or die.

By: Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

Top pro-‘Israel’ lawyer faked attack in plot to frame Palestine group

Top pro-Israel lawyer faked attack in plot to frame Palestine group

Lawyer Matthew Berlow faces £500 fine for his part in plot (Image: Daily Record)

Matthew Berlow played a key part in faking a graffiti attack at his home, then used the bogus incident to smear the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. His accomplice was a teacher who used a false identity to fake ‘antisemitic’ comments. Both men are connected to the Friends of Israel lobby group.

By Mark McGivern, reposted from the Scottish newspaper Daily Record

A top lawyer has been slammed by legal watchdogs for a bizarre plot to discredit a Palestinian pressure group.

Matthew Berlow played a key part in faking a graffiti attack at his home then used the bogus incident to smear the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

He now faces a £500 fine for his part in the conspiracy after an initial probe by the reporter of the Law Society of Scotland.

Berlow knew his associate Ed Sutherland, a teacher at Belmont Academy, Ayr, had created a fake Facebook identity under the name Stevie Harrison to infiltrate the SPSC in January last year.

Teacher Ed Sutherland created a fake profile on Facebook which contained ‘antisemitic’ posts and the graffiti claim. Sutherland, a leading figure in the Confederation of Friends of Israel, is head of religious and moral education at a Scottish school. (Image: Jamie Williamson) 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments


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