Archive | December 22nd, 2019


By َQudsN 

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Committee of Prisoners and Former Prisoners said on Monday that Palestinian minors in the Damon jail are held in very bad conditions and are subjected to several abuses.

After a visit to the Israeli jail, a lawyer for the committee said that the representative of the Palestinian minors in Israeli jails, Muhammad Joulani, in addition to other children prisoners were subjected to several abuses during arrest and interrogation and also during transfer to courts.

Joulani assured that children prisoners are usually sent to courts by prisoner transport vehicles, which are poorly ventilated and have no seats. They normally need three days on the way to courts, during which they stay handcuffed and get beaten and robbed by the Israelis.

Joulani also said that Israeli jailers and members of the Nahshon unit at the Ramleh jail have recently attacked six minors, who tried to get their robbed personal belongings back. The committee has identified five of the six minors; Usama Taha, Noor Ajlouni, Ahmad Khalifeh, Abdel Munem Natsheh, and Odai Derbas.

Noor Ajlouni (16 years old) and Ahmad Khalifeh (16 years old) said they were beaten by Israeli undercover soldiers during their arrest in Shu’fat refugee camp back in September 29.

The soldiers held them down and handcuffed them before brutally beating them using their rifles.

Khalifeh stated that when he arrived the Nabi Yaqoub police center, an Israeli policeman untied his lace and tried to strangle him, which pushed Khalifeh to bite the policeman in self-defense. Seven policemen came after that, held him down and tear-gased him, then left the cell, leaving him suffocating alone.

Ajlouni and Khalifeh were interrogated at the Maskoubiyyeh interrogation center in Jerusalem as well, where they were subjected to 36 days of torture and solitary confinement. Khalifeh has got a deep wound in his head during a torture session.

In the same vein, Abdessalam Abu Laban (16 years old) from Jerusalem, who has been held since last October, said that he has been held at the Maskubiyyeh center for 24 days, during which he was tortured and beaten. Members of Nahshon unit also assaulted him while he was being sent to a court session. They tightened his handcuffs, which caused severe pain. When he complained, they hit his head to the wall several times.

‘Israel’ holds 47 Palestinian children in the Damon jail, most of them are from occupied Jerusalem. It also holds approximately 200 children in its jails.


Isis preparing to celebrate Christmas?

By: Mohamed Mahmoud Mortada

For the terrorist organization “ISIS”, the holidays represent a favorable opportunity to launch attacks on the camps. These operations, even if they are by individual wolves, can cause great human losses, as was the case in previous years when the organization adopted two attacks, one in the German capital Berlin, and the other in Istanbul, Turkey.

Recently, American media outlets reported that ISIS threatened to launch attacks on New York City during New Year’s celebrations.

One of the elements of the organization appeared convincingly in online publications in the middle of last month, carrying a blood-stained knife, while a background of a group of photos related to the Christmas attack in Berlin from 2016 appears in his background, and he says: New Year’s Day is “the date of revenge” . A short time later, a picture of the city square, destroyed by fire, reads: “Soon .. God willing, the infidels will witness the same thing that they fear 1-1-2019.”

In any case, the defeats suffered by ISIS since 2016 have been a decisive and significant factor, not only in the decline in polarization operations, but also in the relatively active return of the competing “Al Qaeda” organization. If the defeat of the “caliphate” was a major setback to the overall “jihadist” project of the takfiris, and not only to “ISIS”. The concerns expressed by Al Qaeda towards declaring the creative were polarizing reasons, and they are related at the same time to a basic view that considered that rushing to declare the caliphate without empowerment could lead to a state of great frustration among these groups if the “caliphate” fell by a final blow. .

Whatever the case, the emergence of features of “ISIS” setbacks led the organization to search for “compensatory” alternatives whose features appeared in the activation of “managing external operations” and which worked to establish networks in Europe in preparation for the continuation of operations in the post-succession period.

These external “threats” were not hidden and unexpected, and this can be seen through several American and European studies that talked about cells under the supervision of an “ISIS” intelligence network for Europe called “security” affiliated with the Department of External Operations and responsible for managing sleeper cells in Europe.

What is striking, however, is the ISIS attempt to develop its external operations by not restricting it to targeting only people. Rather, ISIS has developed a bank regulation whose goals also include natural targets of an economic nature, such as setting fires in forests and agricultural crops, and blowing up fuel stations, as part of economic depletion. .

But the most dangerous of all these new tactics is the call to use airship as weapons. The danger of this invitation is evident in the fact that most of the publications and directives that are published are not guaranteed to verify that they are actually issued by the terrorist organization, especially with the size of the penetration of its ranks, in addition to the ease of building a media platform claiming to speak its name. With such a possibility, the call to use airships, while somewhat analogous to the method used in occupied Palestine (kites) against the Israeli occupation, raises question marks and justified doubts that Israeli intelligence may be behind these publications in order to liken ISIS to resist Palestinian. We have seen Israeli attempts to make such comparisons when the first run-over occurred in Europe.  

In any case, with the approaching of Christmas, Europe prevails in a state of alert and unannounced, in several capitals.

In Spain, some newspapers reported warnings of “real threats” from “credible sources” about a possible attack against Spanish interests.

In France, the specter of previous operations is still present in the minds of the French people, especially the attacks of the thirteenth of November of the year 2015, where Paris lived a bloody day, during which “ISIS” launched several simultaneous attacks in six vital places, most notably the stadium “ De France Football Club and the Pataclan Theater, killing a hundred and thirty people.

Not to forget the “Sharif elders” attack on the twelfth of December 2018, which fired in the center of Strasbourg, as well as the attacks of Charlie Hebdo.

This Christmas, and fears of possible attacks, come at a time when the issue of extremists returning from Syria is a point of intense debate. Whether the returnees from Syria participated in possible operations in Europe, or did not participate, the matter, which is accepted, is that if ISIS succeeds in carrying out some operations, it will undoubtedly be more bloody and brutal than its predecessors, not only because they acquired more From experience, but because it is for them a case of revenge for the destruction of their alleged caliphate, and the killing of their leader, in addition to that the new leader of the organization will consider it an occasion to prove his worth in addressing this responsibility.

Between the internal motives of the terrorist organization, and perhaps external motives related to the employment of these attacks, ISIS appears to be on a date to celebrate “Chrismas” in its own way.

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Nazi regime fears ICC could hunt its top leaders for war crimes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), accompanied by military chief of staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi (L), visits a military base near Petah Tikva on January 30 2019. (Photo by AFP)

A recent decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch a full investigation into war crimes in Palestinian territories has raised alarm among current and former Israeli officials and military personnel, who may face global arrest warrants as a result of the probe.

Israel’s Channel 12 TV reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with ministers of military affairs, army chiefs, low-ranking soldiers and the heads of the Shin Bet security service in the past five years could all be vulnerable to international prosecution.

Israel is not expected to cooperate with the ICC’s pre-trial chamber in the coming 120 days. 

“There will be no cooperation with the court… certainly not if it will eventually be decided to open an official probe,” Channel 12 cited diplomatic sources as saying.

However, an official in the Israeli prime minister’s office said, “A decision will be reached after the legal teams make their recommendations.”

On Friday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said a preliminary examination into war crimes, opened in 2015, had provided enough information to meet all criteria for opening an inquiry.

There was a “a reasonable basis” to investigate the situation in Palestine, she said. “I am satisfied that … war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem [al-Quds], and the Gaza Strip.”

The probe will apparently cover Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied West Bank, crimes during the 2014 Gaza war, and crackdown on the Great March of Return protests in the besieged Gaza Strip.

ICC probe into Israeli war crimes in Palestine unjustified: US

ICC probe into Israeli war crimes in Palestine unjustified: USThe US condemns the International Criminal Court’s decision to launch a full investigation into Israel

On Saturday, transportation minister Bezalel Smotrich called on Netanyahu to give the Palestinian Authority a 48-hour ultimatum to pull its ICC petition or see the Ramallah-based authority “torn down.”

The ICC decision has been widely welcomed by Palestinian officials, with President Mahmoud Abbas calling it a “great” and “historic” day.

“We have achieved what we want, and from this day on, the ICC machine will start accepting the cases that we have previously presented,” he said.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh stressed that the ICC announcement “constitutes a stand for justice and truth.”

“We will make every possible legal effort to try Israel for the war crimes it committed against our people in the Gaza Strip, al-Quds and the West Bank,” he said. 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi regime fears ICC could hunt its top leaders for war crimes

Nazi repression of civil rights in the occupied West Bank

New HRW report details Israeli repression of civil rights in the West Bank

Laura Albast 

Israeli security forces block Palestinian protesters on February 23, 2018. (Photo from HRW report page, credits to Andalou Agency/Getty Images)


Human Rights Watch released a report on Tuesday documenting Israeli repression of Palestinian civil rights in the West Bank. The report focuses on detentions and other restrictions enforced between 2015 and 2019.

Primarily authored by Omar Shakir, the now deported director of HRW for Israel and Palestine, the report calls on Israel to respect the human rights of Palestinians and to treat them like it does its own citizens.

Referencing international law, and specifically the law of occupation, the report emphasizes the responsibilities of Israel as the occupying power to protect the occupied population’s core civil rights, including freedom of expression, association, and assembly. It notes that while the law permits some restrictions on speech and privacy as they pertain to national security, it also requires the occupying authority to restore public life.

The report highlights military orders 101 and 1651, issued by the Israeli army in 1967 and 2010 respectively, as the primary tools used to fine and/or detain individuals for up to ten years in prison. Both orders punish those charged with participating in peaceful assembly without permit, holding or waving flags or political symbols, publicly supporting organizations considered to be hostile, and attempting to influence public opinion in other ways. IDF soldiers often exploit the ambiguity of the orders’ language to employ violence and criminalize Palestinians’ exercise of civil rights.

Twitter snapshot of tweet by Rep. Athena Salman (Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives).
Twitter snapshots of tweet by Khaled Elgindy (author of Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump).

The 92-page report was produced following HRW’s review of a large number of documents, including military orders, indictments, court decisions, photographic and video evidence, as well as 29 interviews with detainees, lawyers and affected family members, journalists, activists, and a political analyst. Several appendices are devoted to the authors’ correspondence with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT, the military administration that runs the occupied territories), Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency), the Israeli police, the office of the Prime Minister, the Israeli army spokesperson, as well as Facebook.

According to Facebook’s Content Restrictions Transparency Reportto which HRW was directed, Israel made 709 data requests and 981 Users/Accounts requests to the platform between January and June of this year. (Such requests were made to regulate social media content). Facebook produced data for 76% of the Israeli government’s requests. However, the Facebook report does not reveal whether these requests concerned content that originated in Israel or in the Occupied Territories.

In its conclusion, HRW called on official agencies of the Israeli government, as well as the international community, social media companies, and internet service providers, to desist from actions that encourage the violation of International Human Rights Law and deprive Palestinians in the West Bank of the protections they are due.

The report’s lead researcher, Omar Shakir, tweeted an explainer video summarizing key points from the report and highlighting the story of Farid al-Atrash, a Palestinian human rights lawyer who was arrested for participating in a peaceful protest.

“As a human, it is my right to express my opinion.” al-Atrash said. “It is my right to say no to injustice, but the occupation confronted me with repression.”

Shakir concluded the video by posing a question.

“How do you call for change when calling for change can land you in prison?”

The full HRW report, entitled “Born Without Civil Rights,” can be found here.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights, West BankComments Off on Nazi repression of civil rights in the occupied West Bank

The many faces of Benjamin Naziyahu

The many faces of Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu has only been so successful because he reflects and represents the many faces of Israel: victor and victim, global citizen and international outcast, pyromaniac and war-shy.

By: Dahlia Scheindlin

Activists protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Habima Square in Tel Aviv,  November 23, 2019.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Activists protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, November 23, 2019.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

While writing his 1953 breakout novel Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis consulted with his best friend and inspiration for the main character, Jim Dixon. “’How many Dixon faces do you think there ought to be?” Amis wrote. “I mean a lot, 10 or so, or just 3 or 4?’” The reply is not extant, but Keith Gessen, in his 2012 introduction, relates that “it must have been a lot,” and he lists some of Dixon’s looks: the “’shot in the back face,’ his ‘tragic-mask face,’ his ‘crazy peasant face.’”

I was reminded of this when considering how to summarize the legacy of Benjamin Netanyahu after more than 13 cumulative years in power. I have written many political analysis articles about him, a meta-analysis article analyzing his policy legacy on the conflict, economy, society, and I have unpacked his foreign policy. Other people have documented his life in a biography and a documentary film. But what is he? King Bibi, populist Bibi, global citizen or international outcast? Is he a pyromaniac or war-shy, corrupt or clean, victor or victim?

Like Israel itself, Bibi is all of these things. I can’t know his mind, but as a psychologist of the public domain, it dawned on me that most of Bibi’s faces have some parallel in Israeli state and society. Similarly, many of his policies began long before he returned to power and will continue long after he’s gone. Failure to recognize that won’t help the opposition. Netanyahu has been so successful because he reflects and represents many faces of Israel.

Take his “us against the world” face. In these moments, he holds his chin high at press conferences and faces down global storms of criticism. During the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010, Israel raided a boat trying to break the siege on Gaza, killing 10 Turkish citizens on high seas. In his response to a massive global outcry, Netanyahu spoke to the Israeli press in Hebrew, and railed against the “attack of international hypocrisy, ” thereby transforming the incident into an attack on Israel. Israelis relaxed into their far more comfortable role of “us against the world,” whereby the world uses every weapon, even “global hypocrisy,” to harm our embattled nation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adresses the 71st UN general assembly debate at the UN headquarters in New York City, September 22, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adresses the 71st UN general assembly debate at the UN headquarters in New York City, September 22, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The same role reversal can be seen with every international criticism of Israeli policy from at least 1955, when Prime Minister David Ben Gurion famously dismissed presumed international condemnation should Israel capture the Gaza Strip. And it continues to today, when Israel’s Hebrew-language media, save for Haaretz, responds to the possibility of an International Criminal Court investigation against Israel with wall-to-wall headlines about hypocrisy and anti-Semitism. They didn’t need Netanyahu’s help.

Us and them is the effective way to consolidate support at home, against an external enemy. A close cousin is the victim face, which Netanyahu employs to conjure the internal enemy. The great power of the populist lies in his ability to fuse himself with the victimhood of the country’s marginalized populations. This helps explain the populist paradox in which a fabulously wealthy leader comes to stand for the downtrodden and poor.

As I’ve argued, Netanyahu’s most burnished victim narrative involves being persecuted by the state for representing the true (right-wing) interests of the people. With this victim-face, he appeals to some of Israel’s underprivileged populations, fusing real and perceived grievances, political and socio-economic marginalization, and with still greater irony given Netanyahu’s Ashkenazi elite demographic, he even represents Mizrahi cultural and class alienation. They cling to him to vanquish their enemies not only abroad, but at home. His triumph is their triumph.

Thousands take part in a pro-Netanyahu rally outside the Tel Aviv Museum, less than a week after Israel’s attorney general announced he would file bribery charges against the prime minister, November 26, 2019. (Oren Ziv)

Thousands take part in a pro-Netanyahu rally outside the Tel Aviv Museum, less than a week after Israel’s attorney general announced he would file bribery charges against the prime minister, November 26, 2019. (Oren Ziv)

There’s the shameless-mendacious face. Netanyahu has used this in various ways. It is an artful form of lying, often starting with a grain of truth, then bludgeoned with a blunt instrument to serve his political narrative.  He wore this face when he asserted the Grand Mufti of having planted the idea of genocide in the mind of Hitler, by association blaming the Palestinian people for the Holocaust.

Israelis themselves tell stories that are far from reality, with only a kernel truth at the core. Israel calls itself a vibrant democracy, although throughout nearly its entire history it has held some portion of its subjects — Palestinian citizens or Palestinians in the occupied territories — under an undemocratic military regime. Though the occupation gets deeper with each decade, many Israelis tell themselves it does not exist at all. Blaming the Palestinians for genocide of the Jews is a similar logical leap that these Israelis are well-suited to believe.

There is also a particular extension of mendacious face. It’s the overwrought conviction of someone who has come to believe his own lies. Netanyahu can convince himself vociferously of falsehoods that are ever-more outlandish. In May, he feverishly asserted that Avigdor Liberman, a hardline nationalist competitor, was left-wing, after Liberman refused to join a right-wing coalition, triggering new elections. That was comical enough to cause a reporter to laugh spontaneously.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at after a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset following the first election of 2019, Jerusalem, May 30. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at after a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset following the first election of 2019, Jerusalem, May 30. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

That face is on display with his most recent crazed fabrication, however, which is far more grave. On the evening of his indictment, Netanyahu finally dove headlong into the right-wing assault on Israel’s legal system. He had kept himself somewhat distant from the increasingly vicious delegitimization of the Israeli judiciary on his decade-long watch, but now seized the story with a vengeance. The police, the prosecutor, and by association the attorney general and the entire legal system itself, had come after him like a lynch mob, at the bidding of their true masters, the left and the media. His persecution, of course, was an implicit replication of the people’s persecution. They’re coming for me and they’ll come for you. They must be stopped.

I watched the press conference and believed Netanyahu — that is, I believed that he believes this fabrication entirely. Others believed his meaning: 36 percent of Israelis in an Israeli Democracy Institute survey agreed that the legal process was tainted and devised to depose him. Presumably this overlaps with 37 percent of Israelis who would like him to continue serving as prime minister despite the indictment (in a Panels poll from Nov. 26).

But Bibi tips off his own mendacity. When auto-psuedo-convictions are combined with political instability, he puts on his sweaty face.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the annual Board of Governors’ meeting in Jerusalem, October 28, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the annual Board of Governors’ meeting in Jerusalem, October 28, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

But one of his most damaging faces is the most understated: the proto-authoritarian face. For the last ten years, what Netanyahu did most successfully was stabilize a notoriously fractious political system. Two of his governments lasted almost full four-year terms – a rarity in Israeli politics. He did this through a combination of consolidating power, distancing potential competitors, or else keeping them close and hoarding ministerial portfolios. At the time of his indictment, he held four additional ministerial roles: health, welfare, agriculture, diaspora affairs. At times he has held five at once in addition to being prime minister.

Israelis lauded his political acumen and enjoyed the relative calm. Stability and consolidation hardly make headlines, but they are the foundation of an authoritarian-populist. Dismiss with the bothersome procedures of a democracy. Scrap checks and balances on executive power while you’re at it. Trade your freedom for stability.

If Netanyahu is the least conspicuous in the proto-authoritarian role, perhaps his bombastic faces are a good thing. They expose the extreme but inevitable version of the authoritarian leader: obsessive image-mongering to maintain a cult of personality, the temptations of corruption to preserve power, the resort to paranoia, the descent into political self-destruction, even in excruciating slow motion.

I have clung to my belief that Israel has other faces: the true peace-seeking face, not the peace face full of makeup. The liberal-democratic face, which is bruised and nearly unrecognizable at present, but can still be seen winking in the corner sometimes.

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Diversity Rules Environment, OK?


Photograph Source: Nathaniel St. Clair

The road to perdition has ever been accompanied by lip service to an ideal.

– Einstein

Could some of the most talked of solutions to climate chaos have the reverse effect and make things worse? Some critics think so, and they aren’t “deniers” who think climate change isn’t real. The concept of “net zero” carbon emissions, for example, might actually help industry pollute, because one of the commonest ways to reach for it is through “carbon offsets.” This means that if a corporation is responsible for a ton of carbon dioxide emissions – which is bad – but at the same time it funds a project which “captures” (or “sequesters”) a ton of carbon – which is good – then the “net emissions” come to zero, as one is subtracted from, or “offset” against, the other.

If the numbers could be accurately calculated (though that’s impossible and offsets invariably exaggerate the amount of greenhouse gases absorbed or reduced), then the corporation could pollute as much as it liked because it would be funding someone else to do the equivalent “anti-polluting,” and clean up its waste. It’s like leaving a trail of litter as you walk and paying someone to sweep up a street somewhere else, usually on the other side of the world. The reality is complicated, but the simple truth is that the schemes routinely fail: The sweeper may be just pretending to clean, or even trying, but failing to cope with the mess.

The only reliable way currently known to “capture” significant carbon at a reasonable cost is to plant trees. But many offset projects sow fast-growing tree crops like eucalyptus and acacia, to make money. This actually increases rather than reduces carbon: Existing vegetation has to be cleared and the new plantations are more liable to fires, which spew out vast amounts of pollution. Many such crops will take decades before they start absorbing much carbon. Equally damaging plantations, like oil palm and rubber which take over people’s lands and destroy biodiversity, are passed off as environmentally friendly because the UN also defines them as “forest.” Countries such as Madagascar and Indonesia claim to be increasing forest cover when they’re actually clearing existing vegetation to sow these new plantations. Claiming such destruction is good for the environment would be comic if it weren’t so tragic.

Another approach to offsetting is to get someone to agree not to cut timber which would otherwise be felled. This is supposed to avoid future emissions –though it’s important to note that it doesn’t actually reduce existing carbon at all. It’s known in the jargon as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and the “+” stands for the conservation of existing forests. Hundreds of such projects have been around for many years but with very scant results. One problem is that undertakings not to log are agreed by those who don’t have the power, or perhaps even the intention, to stop it, and trees not felled one year can still be cut the next. Trying to bind communities into contracts lasting for generations is effectively impossible.

Overall, there are many reasons why offsetting is rarely what it pretends, and critics disparagingly call it, “payment to pollute.” One study shows that almost all such projects – an astonishing 85% – simply fail.[1] Nevertheless, in spite of the problems, offsetting remains a multibillion dollar industry, with lots of people capturing a lot of money for themselves rather than sequestering any significant atmospheric carbon.

Reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – the thing needed to slow global warming – is a very different thing from supposedly reducing “net” emissions, but it would be a much more drastic step. It would entail cutting energy consumption, curtailing industrial growth, decreasing military activity –one of the biggest polluters of all but rarely mentioned by climate activists – and even using the energy-hungry internet less. One “artificial intelligence” training session, for example, burns about the same energy as five cars during their whole lifetimes,[2] and even emails waste millions of tons of carbon (spam alone uses about the same as the entire population of San Francisco flying to New York every two weeks).[3] Genuinely reducing emissions would mean changing the overall direction of an industrialized society which has sought continual “growth” particularly over the last generation. It would also entail a massive erosion in the power of the oil industry which is so enmeshed with the world’s major governments, and goes to great lengths to ensure leaders hostile to it are kept from high office.

In spite of the criticisms around “net zero,” it remains the stated goal of most climate activism – perhaps because “real zero” emissions are seen as unrealistic, and there’s pressure to do something quickly. Calls for governments simply to “listen to scientists,” or to “the public” at large, do not suggest concrete solutions, probably intentionally.

“Net zero” through offsetting is the wrong path, but could the current enthusiasm about a “green new deal” be just as bad? It’s largely about job creation in new and supposedly “green” technologies, and it combines environmental concerns with the need to alleviate unemployment. The “green” part is largely focused on alternative, “clean” energy sources, such as solar and wind – the “renewables” – but there’s a problem with them too: Production of the batteries they currently need to store their energy uses up yet more fossil fuel and wreaks yet more environmental damage. (Fuels such as oil or coal don’t need batteries because the energy is already stored inside them.) Again, the thing which would guarantee to make a big and fast difference – a contraction of industry – forms no part of any proposed “deal.”

An important criticism is that the green new deal is actually being encouraged by industry as a way to get more money diverted into stock market investments. This apparent trick begins with the 2008 financial crash when governments gave away huge amounts of ordinary people’s money to inept and greedy banking corporations. The shock to stock markets prompted a tightening in financial regulations[4] which resulted in more and more money being locked away inside the safest financial vehicles. This cash wasn’t able to flow as easily to companies through investment in stocks and shares. That’s bad for the elite because great wealth depends a lot now on stock market holdings and company buyouts. (As well as on ensuring minimal tax and on simply bending or breaking the law –and it’s true of course that the very rich have done increasingly well in spite of the new rules!)

Although the term, “green new deal,” was coined earlier,[5] it first came to prominence in 2009, just a year after the crash, when the UN Environment Program produced a plan of the same name for a meeting in Pittsburgh of heads of state.[6] It’s important to note that the paper was open about its primary aim of, “reviving the global economy” in “response to the financial… crisis.” It sought also to, “accelerate the fight against climate change,” but that was secondary.

Many corporations support a green new deal, and their critics point out that new, and much needed, regulations to protect ordinary people’s savings and pensions from high-risk speculation might now be weakened if a sense of an urgent “greater good” could be invoked, particularly if it were about an emergency threatening life on Earth. In times of war and other crises governments can easily legitimize revoking important safeguards. This becomes even easier when big conservation NGOs, which partner with the most polluting industries, are throwing their weight and money behind the idea.

Although this might be little understood, it’s not hidden. As one UN writer puts it, “With public finances under stress since (and as a result of) the 2008 financial crisis, a consensus has emerged that the required resources [for a green new deal] can only come from governments partnering with the financial institutions they helped salvaged from that crisis.”[7] When thinking about this statement it’s important to keep in mind that all government help for particular industries can only come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

To put it simply, if Westerners think the world will soon be destroyed unless their money is given to supposedly “green” technologies and schemes like carbon offsets, then they won’t object when their money, now locked away in safer assets and pension funds, is given to those things. Climate activists who might not be versed in the deliberately opaque labyrinths of big money might welcome this, but if the schemes aren’t really so green, or if they make things worse, then there’s an obvious problem.

The only guaranteed way to cut greenhouse gases has to start with shrinking industrial output and consumption, especially by those who consume the most. The imbalance is shocking: The world’s wealthiest 10% are responsible for half of all harmful emissions, whereas the poorest half create just 10%.[8] Climate chaos is being made by the same people who now seek to turn climate activism into yet more profits!

Contracting industry would be good for the climate but it would make many people poorer, and in a nasty paradox for progressives, that would include some who are already poor. This catch-22 exists because industrialized societies have long focused on stripping everyone they can of any self-sufficiency they or their forebears once had. They do this by appropriating communal areas, stealing land, and forcing the now landless population into labor for industry or big agriculture. This is how the industrial revolution was created, and it’s still going on.

The truth is that the corporate-government axis might indeed want to reduce climate chaos – why not? – but it isn’t prepared to cut consumption; quite the contrary, it’s desperate for growth. It wants to continue “business as usual” while appearing as green as it can, as an advertising gimmick and to stifle criticism. It tries to impose its one-size-fits-all model despite the fact that it is destructive, visibly failing, and is now threatening all life. We need a vigorous push back, to reclaim the earth from the crazed ideology of perpetual growth which brings so much lethal pollution and suffering.

To bring meaningful change to this dilemma, the first step must be to stop destroying those who now produce little or no pollution and who live largely self-sufficiently, by hunting, herding, or growing their own food. They are not only tribal and indigenous people, but many local farmers. We must stop governments and industries taking their land and forcing them into the dysfunctional mainstream. We must reverse this by actively encouraging their ways of life and by listening to the lessons they have learned from the Earth over thousands of years, lessons which have enabled them to survive and thrive, but which are deliberately suppressed by industrialization. These, largely self-sufficient, peoples are still the most adaptable on the planet, and they must be at the center of the change which will enable us all to continue living on it.

This is no call for a romantic and illusory past, it’s a recognition that

humankind has evolved and survived – so far – only because of our agile adaptability. We have created vast and precious human diversity which simply cannot be replicated in a few generations: Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If the keys to our survival lie anywhere, this is where we must start looking for them.

But even this idea has now started being used as advertising gimmickry, as “indigenous peoples” are tacked on as an afterthought in environmentalists’ thinking. Big conservation NGOs have started to highlight the positive role of indigenous peoples in their glossy reports while carrying on stealing their land and destroying them on the ground. Too much of what passes for “conservation” remains rooted in its undoubtedly racist and elitist origins. Many inside the industry claim these are long buried, but they emerge when the apparently progressive mask, constructed by a vast and self-congratulatory propaganda machine, slips aside. In many parts of the world, particularly in Africa, the racism has always been self-evident.

We need a real clamor for a shift in the balance of power, to give a controlling voice to indigenous peoples and take it away from the urban elites, and the corporations, media and NGOs which are run by them. Climate activism must wake up to the fact that it’s largely directed and designed by the same kind of people, and therein lies its own catch-22. If it’s eventually to succeed, it must change quickly to embrace real, not token, human diversity.

Just as it’s increasingly recognized that different genders can have different perspectives and that the world shouldn’t be directed only by white men (like me!), so it is that a true diversity of humankind must have a determining voice in how to save the planet. Getting there will require humility and adaptability. After all, existing power structures are designed more than ever to suppress diversity rather than enhance it, and access to the corridors of power is very narrow and culturally and economically restricted. Just during my lifetime we’ve grown less willing to learn from real cultural diversity than we’ve ever been.

We need a genuine openness to change and to work in a different way. It’s admittedly a big shift, but it’s no more complex than many cross-cultural alliances made by different peoples throughout history. In spite of all the conflict and oppression, different religions, “races,” nationalities, and language-speakers often lived and worked together for their mutual benefit. This was doubtless more in evidence before European imperialism, the rise of the nation state, and eugenics saw ideologies – and theologies – about conformity inflict such suffering and destruction around the world.

As activists are slowly being forced to acknowledge, climate chaos originates in the New York, Tokyo and London stock markets, but its front lines aren’t found in the financial districts: They lie far away in Africa, Amazonia, and the Pacific. Its real battleground is the desperate struggle between people fighting for their survival and the government-industrial complex grasping for yet more money and power. The outcome of this battle couldn’t be more important, but the huge steps now being made to popularize the issue, might – however unwittingly – be leading us away from real solutions. We must bring human diversity into the center of climate activism because those who live most differently to “us” are those who have some of the best answers about how to live at all.


1. Cames, Martin, Ralph O. Harthan, Jürg Füssler, Michael Lazarus, Carrie M. Lee, Peter Erickson, and Randall Spalding-Fecher. How additional is the clean development mechanism: Analysis of the application of current tools and proposed alternativesBerlin: Öko-Institut, 2016.

2. Lu, Donna. “Creating an AI can be five times worse for the planet than a car.” New Scientist, June 6, 2019.

3. Berners-Lee, Mike and Duncan Clark. “What’s the carbon footprint of … email?” The Guardian, Oct 21, 2010.

4. Guynn, Randall D. “The Financial Panic of 2008 and Financial Regulatory Reform.” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Nov 20, 2010.

5. Friedman, Thomas L. “Opinion – A Warning From the Garden“. The New York Times, Jan 19, 2007.

6. UNEP. Global Green New Deal; An Update for the G20 Pittsburgh Summit. London: UNEP/Green Economy Initiative, Sept 2009.

7. Kozul-Wright, Richard. “How to finance a Global Green New Deal” LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. Nov 6, 2019.

8. Gore, Timothy. Extreme Carbon Inequality. London: Oxfam. Dec 2, 2015. (The report can be found in Spanish and French here.

Posted in EnvironmentComments Off on Diversity Rules Environment, OK?

Roaming Charges: You Go Back, Jack, Do It Again


In the land of milk, guns and honey. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Just as compulsory school prayer acts as a vaccine against becoming religious as an adult, forcing your child to watch the Congress debate impeachment (or anything else) will serve as an inoculation to suppress any future impulse to enter politics.

+ I committed to watching the whole 10 hour ordeal, providing some color commentary for a couple of radio interviews. But after two hours sanity demanded that I turn the sound off. Whatever death metal they’re inflicting on the poor souls in Gitmo these days is nothing compared to the sonic torture of hearing the voices of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Steve King.

+ The hearings weren’t so much a lesson in civics as a foreshadowing of the kind of blabbering cretins Betsy DeVos wants to turn the children of the Republic into. They both may be racists, but when it comes to oratorical chops Steve King is no John C. Calhoun. Basically, Congress is where you end up if can’t make it selling reverse mortgages to stroke victims or poisoning dandelions for ChemLawn.

+ This image of the Republicans in the House awaiting the final roll call vote on impeachment pretty much says it all. Modern day Klan Klaverns have a more diverse membership.

+ The incompetence of both Trump’s pursuers and his defenders make him appear mightier and more substantial than he really is. Trump is not a master politician by any means. In fact, he’s almost as bad at politics as he was at business, where everything he touched went bust. What he has going for him is shamelessness. He’s beyond humiliation. That’s one reason the Russian kompromat (whether piss tapes or money laundering) theory holds no water. He’s constitutionally immune to embarrassment. Similarly, you can’t suck up to enough to ever really please him, which leads to the mortifying spectacle of one Republican after another prostrating themselves before their orange Godhead without receiving so much in return as a pat on the head.

+ A case in point is Rep. Loudermilk (R-GA): “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded to this President.” Pass the crown of thorns!

+ I’m not sure how far the right-wingers want to extend the Christ analogy. In Christian theology, Christ died to expatiate the sins of others. But Trump is much more likely to sacrifice his acolyte to pay for his own transgressions.

+ Still, I’m beginning to admire his hubris. Like the guy in the Steely Dan song, once Trump beats the hangman once, he’s right back running the same con again. But a scam that he once deployed covertly, he later does in plain sight. So it is with Ukrainegate. Here’s the transcript. See how perfect it was? There goes Rudy, back to Kiev, says he’s got some good dirt. Catch me, if you can. He knows they might catch him, but they can’t hold him. Not in the land of milk, guns and honey, any way.

+ Rep Kevin Brady of Texas: “Those who vote to impeach President Trump will become the Joe McCarthys of their time.” That’s going to put Roy Cohn’s ghost in a tough spot, isn’t it? Who’s he going to support, his protegé Trump or the people who voted to impeach him?

+ The impeachment debate has illustrated just how much America has changed. Back in the 1950s, Jesus and Joe McCarthy were on the same team, fighting the Godless Communists who had infiltrated the government and were poisoning our precious bodily fluids with flouride. Now the McCarthyites are acting like Communists who want to kick Jesus’ representative on Earth out of the White House and spoil the true measure of Christmas: retail sales.

+ Pelosi helped corroborate GOP charges that the Democrats had become the new McCarthyites when she opened her indictment of Trump by reciting the noxious 1954 “under God” version of the Pledge of Allegiance, an artifact the McCarthy Era which would have appalled the Deist founders of the Republic and even their Puritan ancestors, many of whom were Calvinists, Quakers and Anabaptists who rightly opposed all oaths and pledges.

+ GOP Rep. Chris Stewart: “If this impeachment is successful, the next president, I promise you, is going to be impeached, and the next president after that. If you set this bar as being impeachable, every president in our future will be impeached.” This is, of course, the best possible outcome. In fact, I’m quite looking forward to impeachment proceedings against the next sequence of presidents. The earlier and more paralyzing the better. Fierce, internecine battles between the Congress and the executive may be the only way to finally deflate the imperial powers of the post-Bush presidencies.

+ Credit where credit is due…in 2008 Trump said that George W. Bush should be impeached.

+ So Trump was just impeached. It is his peculiar genius to make even that astounding experience unsatisfying.

+ Rep. Steny Hoyer, the time-traveling congressman from Maryland: “John Locke millennia ago said this: ‘wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’” Good grief…

+ Tulsi Gabbard, as if answering the ultimate phenomenological question, courageously voted “present.” Twice.

+ Can there really be a “solemnity of the moment” in any matter involving Trump?

+ Did we watch “history unfold” this week or did it, exhausted, simply fold?

+ Not one Republican risked voting to impeach Trump. That’s quite a No Confidence vote in Mike Pence.

+ In 1973, Joe Biden’s pal, the Republican grandee Bob Dole, introduced a bill in the Senate seeking to ban television coverage of the Watergate hearings. I couldn’t imagine today’s Republicans, like Jim Jordan or Lindsey Graham, doing the same. They’re having too much fun watching their own clips on FoxNews.

+ So the Democrats impeached Trump, sort of, but to show how sorry they were they gave him this for Christmas: the Patriot Act, NAFTA 2.0, one of the largest Pentagon budgets in history, $1.8 billion in funding for his wall and Space Force. I wonder what the stocking stuffers will be…

+ Why they love him, despite everything else…corporations only paid a tax rate of 11.3 percent last year. If they paid anything at all..

+ Do you ever get the sense that when you try to “put things in their proper perspective,” the Vanishing Point gets closer every day?

+ Over the last decade, there were 179 defendants arrested in DEA reverse-sting cases in the Southern District of New York. None of them were white and all but two were black and Latino.

+ Trump in Michigan on his alleged black groupies: “I have a group of African American guys, and gals by the way, that follow me around, and they think I pay them but I don’t. They love me and I love them.”

+ Trump, checks his numbers with white women, then decides to mock Debbie Dingell: “Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” Trump says. “I gave them the A treatment,” he says, of the family after Rep. John Dingell died. Says Dingell told him her husband would be looking down happy. “Maybe he’s looking up,” Trump says.

+ Good to see that both Trump and Grisham know their Dante and how to “counterpunch.” At CounterPunch we’ve been consigning people to Hell for 26 years, starting with Henry Kissinger, who is yet to arrive, although his accommodations are being prepared. Alex and I had been working on project called A Book of Monsters for about 10 years before he died. It was a kind of Dante’s Inferno for the Power Elite and still may see the light of day. Dingell didn’t make our top 100, but he certainly belongs down there somewhere, if only for his persistent gutting of the Clean Air Act, probably among the gluttonous lost souls in the 4th Circle.

+ Christianity Today apparently didn’t receive the Good News that Trump is God’s representative on Earth…They want him impeached.

+ It didn’t take Trump long to strike back, calling Christianity Today a “left wing” magazine. You’ve come a long way, baby. One of CT’s founders was Billy Graham, the peacenik preacher who urged Nixon to bomb the dikes outside Hanoi and drown a million people.

+ Still they flock to him, with anointing oils and healing hands.

Of course, the last time Trump was touched like this he had to pay $130,000 to cover it up…

+ These days Jerry Ford is remembered mainly for a pretty bad running gag by Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live and for his famous quip after taking office and pardoning Nixon: “Our long national nightmare is over.” (It wasn’t.) Alexander Cockburn, of course, considered Ford to be our greatest president, with the lowest body count since William Henry Harrison, who died after only 31 days in office…

+ Oh, god, do we have to watch another debate tonight?

+ The stage is almost as white tonight as the House Republican caucus.

+ In winnowing the field, the Democrats have made it weaker. Which is a very Democrat thing to do…

+ If you had Putin coming up in the first minute of the debate in the office pool, you won and can now turn your TV off…

+ Klobocop is the white Kamala Harris.

+ Did these candidates sign a non-aggression pact before the debate? What fun is that?

+ Warren: “Economists are just wrong!” TKO, Paul Krugman…

+ We were told that Mayor PeteBot had undergone a system upgrade, but he sounds pretty much the same to me.

+ The damage that Joe Biden and Tom Steyer can to the English language in 2 hours is a greater threat to our way of life than any Russian bot on a search and destroy mission.

+ Biden has had so much Botox his eyes are frozen in a permanent squint.

+ Bernie: “Paris Agreement? Ain’t enough.”

+ Bernie has given a tortured and disappointing answer on Israel. But he did call Netanyahu a “racist,” which will be used in a 1000 attacks, probably from the Biden campaign.

+ MayorPeteBot reminds me of Jeb! but with more energy!

+ Most of the Democrats in the audience will be confused by the question to Warren about closing Guantanamo having labored under the assumption that Obama closed it 8 years ago, as promised…

+ Biden wants 60% of US naval power moved to the Pacific to threaten China: “We are a Pacific power, and we’re not going to back away.” It’s the return of the disastrous Asian Pivot policy of Obama time.

+ Does McKinsey & Co. have the contract for monitoring the “purity tests”?

+ I’m depressed I didn’t get an invite to Mayor PeteBot’s wine cave full of crystal fundraiser…

+ Biden: “Billionaires oppose everything I do!” Except….[fill in the forty or fifty blanks]

Biden: 44 billionaire donors
Mayor Petebot: 39 billionaire donors

+ Give Bernie a little credit for finally admitting, grudgingly, that his vote to go to war against Afghanistan was wrong. He was, however, less forthcoming about why he continued to support the war until at least 2015.

+ Biden used Obama as a human shield until it was time to throw him under the Afghanistan bus.

+ If you trust Biden’s answer on Afghanistan, then on the most important decision of the early years of the administration (the Afghan surge) his “sage counsel” had absolutely no influence on Obama’s actions.

+ Given how badly he flubbed his answer on thorium-fueled nuclear plants, you might want to re-think Andrew Yang as the science candidate…

+ There’s nothing quite like a debate where moderates are tearing into other moderates over who is the more moderate.

+ Remi Kanazi concisely summed up Biden’s closing statement: “I love peanut butter. My grandkid watches Peppa Pig. I’m best friends with Obama. I’ve been in a helicopter. Vote for me. Cut out the malarkey.”

+ Klobocop, who spent the entire night touting her judgment and experience, voted to confirm the federal judge who just cast the deciding vote gutting ObamaCare. And he wasn’t the only rightwing judge she’s backed

+ I think Marianne Williamson won this debate by virtue of not being invited.

+ Truthdig, one of the few progressive sites willing to call out the Russiagate hysteria, challenge the Democratic Party hierarchy and donor class and lift up the voices of the Palestinians in the face of Israeli war crimes, is imploding.

The publisher, Zuade Kaufman, who has lent the site an estimated two or three million dollars, has had bitter clashes with the legendary Editor-in-Chief and the co-owner of the site, Robert Scheer, over the past few months.  Their disputes, staff members say, revolve around Kaufman’s desire to make the site more mainstream and commercially viable by catering to the Democratic Party establishment and adopting the dominant narratives about supposed Russian interference in the 2106 presidential election, as well as other stances embraced by mainstream outlets such as MSNBC.  The dispute between Scheer and Kaufman came to a head last week when Kaufman attempted to fire Scheer.  Scheer’s and Kaufman’s  lawyers are now in mediation.

What seems certain is that the working relationship between Scheer and Kaufman is over.  The site will descend, without Scheer’s integrity, vision and courage, into another mediocre and banal handmaiden of corporate Democrats.  Several senior staff members and contributors, including Chris Hedges, the site’s most widely read columnist, Dwayne Booth, the cartoonist known as Mr. Fish, and the Executive Editor Kasia Anderson, among others, are expected to leave the site if Scheer is forced out.

+ Does someone at Fox write this froth for Ainsley or does it just bubble up naturally, like one of the gaseous mud pots at Mammoth Hot Springs?

Bobby Lewis@revrrlewis

Ainsley Earhardt credits “the trade deals” for “when you get your paycheck and you’ve gotten a raise, it feels great, especially at Christmastime.”351:51 PM – Dec 19, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy73 people are talking about this

+ If Biden gets desperate for new stump material, maybe he could plagiarize a few passages from the collected speeches of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. They both seem to have a similar syntax. Here’s McCarthy after being asked if last night’s vote was a defeat for Republicans: “Let me first gauge that. I would feel it was a defeat to the Constitution, that the rise of impeachment would become so low, that you didn’t read the Constitution to be taken.”

+ When Border Patrol was asked why the agency chose protected public lands and wilderness areas like Organ Pipe as the first locations for Border Wall construction. Their response: the “availability of real estate.”

+ At some point, you keep thinking the System going to break from its own contradictions, but it never does. It will need to be pushed. Pushed hard: “Over the last four decades since 1979, the top 1.0% saw their wages grow by 157.8% and those in the top 0.1% had wages grow more than twice as fast, up 340.7%. In contrast those in the bottom 90% had annual wages grow by 23.9% from 1979 to 2018.”

+ Trump’s National Labor Relations Board is seeking to gut the ability of graduate students to form unions. The sight of grad students sleeping in cars is too luxurious for Trump to bear. He wants them on the sidewalks, where they can be swept up in one of Bill Barr’s raids on the homeless…

+ Trump shot down the Senate’s resolution condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide. He’s just playing it safe. Who knows, Trump might want to commit a genocide or two himself one day to move up the ranks of the really great presidents, like his hero Andy Jackson…

+ If your vote really made a difference, they’d purge you from the rolls…

+ An audit of voter rolls in California has shown that hundreds of voters have been registered to the wrong party. It’s a wonder they could tell the difference.

+ Someone interpreted the UK election results this way: If you were able to buy a house before the year 2000, you’re a Conservative…

How Britain voted at the 2019 general election… by age

18-24 year olds:
Lab – 56%
Con – 21%
Lib Dem – 11%

70+ year olds:
Con – 67%
Lab – 14%
Lib Dem – 11%

+ Bringing “democracy” to Bolivia: The coup government of Jeanine Añez has closed 53 community radio stations in Bolivia. Their signals and transmissions have been shut down.

+ Strike like this!

Ted Gioia@tedgioia

This is how workers at Opéra de Paris go on strike (sound on, please). 8184:37 AM – Dec 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy457 people are talking about this

+ ExxonMobil’s 2019 Outlook for Energy undercuts their claim to be “fighting climate change” by predicting that “no reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector through 2040—and no date at which emissions reach net zero”…

+ Speaking of ExxonMobil one of their natural gas wells in Ohio released more methane into the atmosphere during a blowout in 2018 than some COUNTRIES do in a year…

+ And on the 7th day God rested, instead of fixing the fucking glitches in the operating software of the species he picked to run the place : “More than 3 in 4 U.S. adults and teenagers alike agree that humans are influencing the climate. But 43 percent of adults and 57 percent of teens cited ‘plastic bottles and bags’ as a ‘major’ contributor to climate change.”

+ To quote from Gravity’s Rainbow, it was a “Sunday funnies dawn” here on the northern Oregon Coast this morning. But since there aren’t any papers to put “Sunday funnies” in anymore that perfect metaphor won’t make sense to anyone, so here’s a photo…

+ This just in from the Gen. Westmoreland School of Forestry: We must burn and log the Redwoods to save them!

+ While conducting my monthly wintering bald eagle survey along the lower Columbia River on Saturday, I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw this silent ship cruising up behind me. My taxonomy of the US Navy fleet isn’t very good, but I believe this is a Littoral Combat ship named the USS Coronado (LCS-4), armed with Hellfire Missiles, a 57 MM machine gun in the turret, and and four big 50 calibre guns in the fore and aft of the ship, as well as an assortment of high-tech electronic warfare gizmos. It runs very fast and because of Stealth technology was almost quiet. I was able to film this clip before the ship really kicked into gear and headed out toward the Columbia Bar and the slate-colored Pacific. What the hell was it doing in Astoria?

+ TVA, a federally owned utility that serves 10 million customers in seven southeastern states, is pressuring its power providers to sign longer contracts, locking them in for decades of coal and nuclear power with little flexibility use renewables such as wind or solar.

+ The Trump administration just pulled the plug on ToxMap, an online database allowed users to pull up detailed EPA data for each toxic release site, and to overlay other information, such as mortality statistics, onto those maps. They really don’t want you to know if you’re being poisoned, with what or by whom…

+ The groundwater in eastern Oregon’s Harney County is dropping by 8 feet a YEAR in some places…

+ The situation is just as bad, if not worse, in Arizona, where deep wells drilled by mega-farms are draining the desert state’s irreplaceable aquifers.

+ Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s former firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, has raked in $12 million from clients lobbying the Interior Department since his nomination—a 310% increase from the year before. And the investment is paying off, from oil leases to coal mine permits to water diversions.

+ Former SeaWorld dolphin trainer turned whistleblower Jeffrey Ventre on the moment the scales dropping from his eyes: “It’s like going through a one-way door. Once you see them in the wild—swimming in straight lines with straight dorsal fins—there’s really no going back.”

+ The Brazilian Cerrado loses an area the size of London in vegetative cover every three months…

+ The new acid test: the waters off the California coast seems to be acidifying at twice the rate of the global average. Has the word “acidification” ever been used in a presidential debate?

+ As his company, Murray Energy, sank into bankruptcy, Bob Murray paid himself $14 million for one year’s wages while his then-president, Robert D. Moore, who has since become chairman, earned $9 million a year, on top of his retention bonus. Meanwhile, Murray still had enough money left over to his climate denial campaigns.

+ Murray Energy may be seeking protection from its creditors, but coal’s death has been greatly exaggerated. The world burns 65 percent more coal today than it did in 2000, much of it in Asia, according to a new report by the International Energy Association.

+ Under pressure from the world’s biggest polluters, the UN climate talks in Madrid (COP25) fell apart without any deal. The conference couldn’t even manage to ‘accept’ the U.N.’s own IPCC report.

+ A single rancher in eastern Washington state has killed 26 wolves.

+ One of the fatal problems with HBO’s The Watchmen, which seems to alternate one great episode with a dud, is that it just can’t live up to how horrifying the Tulsa race massacre really was…

+ I noted with sadness the passing of Larry Heinemen this week whose Paco’s Story was one of the best novels to come out of the Vietnam “experience”…

+ Is it OK to be a Gerrit Cole fan even if he pitches for the Yankees?

+ Keith Richards turned 76 this week. No one said immortality was going to come easy. If you want to be like Keith, ya gotta take your supplements…

+ The best Keith Richards joke I’ve heard this week…”Keith has two lovely daughters. When they pass away, he will inherit everything.”

+ How Kurt Vonnegut graded his own work in his essay “The Sexual Revolution” (collected in Palm Sunday).

Player Piano: B
The Sirens of Titan: A
Mother Night: A
Cat’s Cradle: A+
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A
Slaughterhouse-Five: A+
Welcome to the Monkey House: B−
Happy Birthday, Wanda June: D
Breakfast of Champions: C
Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons: C
Slapstick: D
Jailbird: A
Palm Sunday: C

I feel like I know as much about Vonnegut as anyone. Both of us were disaffected spawns of Indynoplace. Kurt went to Shortridge High School and my father to Broad Ripple, but somehow my father got his hands on copies of Kurt’s underground school paper, which he kept for the rest of his life. One thing that had escaped my attention for many years was that Jerry Garcia had bought the rights to Sirens of Titan and had completed a draft of a screenplay shortly before he died. A version of it is now being made for Netflix. I think Kurt’s grades are pretty accurate though I would rate Breakfast of Champions a little higher for personal reasons. I took that book with me on an expedition to northern Manitoba in 1975, where a grizzly bear walked through our base camp one night and pretty much destroyed everything, tents, food, sleeping bags, kerosene, Scotch. She even mangled my copy of that book, though didn’t shred it completely–so maybe she didn’t like it so much either. But reading it by flashlight keep me alert through the nervous and sleepless nights that followed. I still keep that copy of Breakfast of Champions close at hand and 45 years later it still smells of kerosene, muskeg and bear…

+ From Elton John’s surprisingly captivating, and often hysterical, memoir “Me”: “One of the few times I tried to sit down and write a hit single was at the end of 1975. I was on holiday in Barbados with a big group of friends: Bernie [Taupin] was there, Tony King, Kiki Dee, lots of people. I thought we should write a duet for Kiki and me to sing. Bernie and I came up with two. one was called “I’m Always on the Bonk”: “I don’t know who I’m fucking, I don’t know who I’m sucking, but I’m always on the bonk.’ The was “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” I wrote the melody on the piano, came up with the title and Bernie finished it off. He hated the end result, and I can’t really blame him–Bernie was not, and is not, a fan of anything he thinks is shallow pop music. But even he had to admit had substantially more commercial potential than “I’m Always on the Bonk.”

Sail Away, Sail Away, Three Sheets to the Wind

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Wilding: Returning Nature to Our Farm
Isabella Tree

Elton John

Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump
Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch
(Random House)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

The Wanting
Cody Jinks
(Late August Records)

Thanksgiving in New York City (Live)
New Riders of the Purple Sage

The Great Summit: Master Takes
Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong

You Hate America, Don’t You?

“You hate America, don’t you?”

“That would be as silly as loving it,” I said. “It’s impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn’t interest me. It’s no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can’t think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can’t believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to a human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will.” (Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night)

Posted in USAComments Off on Roaming Charges: You Go Back, Jack, Do It Again

More Fascist Nonsense from a Disgraced President


Photograph Source: mathiaswasik – CC BY 2.0

In the demented mind of the disgraced fascist oligarch Donald “Perfect Call” Trump, “the Radical Left Democrats have been trying to impeach me from Day 1.” This is nonsense on at least three levels.

First, the reigning forces in the dismal, demobilizing, neoliberal and dollar-drenched Democratic Party are anything but radical or Left. They are deeply conservative, militantly capitalist and imperialist, and centrist. They revealed this yet again even as they were impeaching Trump for setting James Madison’s wig on fire by getting caught trying to trade arms for a foreign power agreeing to dig up dirt on a domestic presidential rival. Two days before the impeachment vote, the preponderant majority of House Democrats voted for a “national security” measure giving Trump $1.4 billion to build his Nativist southern border Wall and setting no limits on his ability to transfer money from the military budget to construct his vicious barrier. Democrats also signed off on a $738 billion Pentagon funding bill. “One of the most expensive military measures in the nation’s history” (the New York Times), this “defense” (empire) funding bill granted Trump his dream of a “Space Force” as a new sixth branch of the U.S. military.

Last week, Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House voted by a giant bipartisan margin, 377–48, to approve the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In what the World Socialist Website (WSWS) rightly calls an “extraordinary juxtaposition of impeachment and political collaboration,” the latest NDAA “removes most provisions to which the White House objected, including barring US military assistance to the Saudi war in Yemen and the deployment of a submarine-launched medium-range missile that would violate the INF treaty. It strips out,” the WSWS reports, “a requirement for Trump to get congressional approval for military strikes on Iran.”

Second, if the Democrats were really a Left opposition party, the majority-Democratic House would already have impeached the Malignant One for any number of fascistic, corrupt, and eco-cidal crimes more harmful to humanity than UkraineGate: concentration camps, child-family separations, kids in cages, abuse of pardon power, violation of asylum law, telling Border Patrol to break the law, fraudulent declaration of national emergency, illegal diversion of taxpayer funds, failure to adequately prepare for and respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, violation of the emoluments clause, incitement of violence, campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and more, including (last but not at all least) the denial and escalation of the climate catastrophe.

Third, House Speaker Nancy “We’re Capitalist and That’s Just the Way it is” Pelosi (Net Worth: $101 million) successfully kept the lid on impeachment for nearly three years. The CIA whistleblower’s revelation about Donito Trumpolini’s “perfect [July 25th] call” to Ukraine’s newly elected president left the Madame Speaker with no choice but to operationalize the constitutional impeachment clause, designed by the nation’s militantly anti-democratic aristo-republican Founders for precisely the transgression Trump tried to make: using his powerful office to conspire with a foreign leader to perpetuate his domestic power by undermining the electoral process.

Listening to the grotesque Trump blame his “ugly” impeachment on “socialist” Democrats, I (an actual socialist) wonder if anyone in the high liberal media would like to join the Revolutionary Communist Party, the Socialist Equality Party, and a small cadre of Left (and other) thinkers in accurately describing Trump as a fascist. False conflation and demonization of centrists, liberals, and the “radical Left” is a standard and hallmark characteristic of fascist propaganda and conduct. So is very much else in Trump’s record, including his epic and constant assaults on truth, his brazen defiance of basic constitutional principles, his open flirtation with political violence, his palingenetic nationalism, his cultivation of white victimhood, his fake-populism, his rabid demonization of brown-skinned immigrants, his xenophobic nationalism, his dodgy appeal to the rural and small-town white- herrenvolk “heartland,” his “takes the gloves” appear to “law and order,” his white-nationalist and authoritarian petit-bourgeois base, his savage racism, his virulent sexism, his attempted politicization of the military, and more. Trump’s recent suggestion that House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff deserves “tough” and “Guatemala”-style (torture and death-squad) justice ought to be sending chills down our historical spines.

If I, an actual radical Leftist (I doubt Trump has ever met one) were (quite unimaginably) a member of the House of Representatives in early 2017, I would have been seeking Trump’s impeachment for being an eco-cidal neofascist (which he clearly promised to be in 2015 and 2016) “since Day 1” – the day he went over to the CIA’s headquarters to give a bizarre and rambling speech in which he told a stunned and silent audience of intelligence agents and officials that the United States might get another chance to grab Iraq’s oil.

Posted in USAComments Off on More Fascist Nonsense from a Disgraced President

Activist Marty Gottesfeld Silenced for Writing About Prison Corruption While Serving Time


Marty and Dana Gottesfeld.

As I’ve recently learned from his wife, activist and prison journalist Marty Gottesfeld — recently sentenced to ten years for a denial of service attack on the website of the Boston hospital that was holding a young girl against her will and that of her family while denying her treatment for the painful condition they claimed was all in her head — has been held incommunicado from his family by the Bureau of Prisons for well over seven months.

This act of totalitarian retaliation, shocking even to many of us who have likewise been illicitly silenced by the BOP both in and out of prison, began shortly after Marty was suddenly and irregularly shipped from the notorious New York BOP facility where Epstein would later die of pretend suicide. That move came after Gottesfeld filed suit against the jail unit and staff, and was followed just a few hours later by a BOP filing opposing his suit on the grounds that the district court was no longer the appropriate venue, because he’d moved.

Indeed, Gottesfeld was moved across the span of the continent, to the BOP’s mysterious new “Communications Management Unit”, the policies of which are still anyone’s guess since the bureau has kept them secret from the American citizenry and the American press hasn’t bothered to make the public aware of such things. To further illustrate this last point, note that I spent the last few months of my own stay at a medium-security prison in south Texas undergoing an extra dose of retaliation for the op-ed I wrote in 2016 asking Obama to sign an executive order reforming the Administrative Remedy process that federal inmates must undergo before they’re permitted to challenge their captors in federal court — a process that the bureau itself oversees, and thus violates at will, as I documented in my column for The Intercept over the course of a year when, like Marty, I sought redress for ongoing attempts to interfere with my rights and those of the news outlets I worked with while incarcerated.

Sadly I made the mistake of sending the piece to The New York Times first; sadly, they accepted it for publication, rather than passing that I might send it to another major paper; inevitably, they ended up killing the piece to make room for other columns — like the one they ran instead about how a Hillary Clinton victory would lead to a presidency bogged down by all sorts of criminal investigations. The editors did give me fair warning though, in the form of an email they sent me weeks after I’d gotten out, right as Obama had finished his last round of late-term reforms and the commutation of another heroic activist-whistleblower, Chelsea Manning, days away from being replaced by Trump.

Incidentally, Obama was, of course, the president whose federal regime pursued Gottesfeld to begin with, along with me and other Anonymous-associated activists plus journalists and whistleblowers and assorted independent civic actors like John Kiriakou, Aaron Swartz, Julian Assange, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Chelsea Manning, Lauri Love, my co-conspirator Jeremy Hammond, and many others whose stories are less known, but who all have in common the notable aspect that they were targeted for what they did right rather than anything they did wrong.

But Obama had clearly taken an interest in prison reform and had signed other executive orders similar to the one I proposed, including one barring prisons from holding children in solitary confinement, and a piece in the Times or Post or Boston Globe or some such documenting high-level BOP lawyers giving inmates like myself negative ten days to respond to a filing, and asking merely that inmates be permitted to file Administrative Remedy grievances on the computers inmates can use at law libraries so as to reduce the scope of the BOP’s de facto control over who gets to sue them would be the best chance we had to regain meaningful access to the courts and re-establish our rights not to be illegally thrown into dungeons, hidden from our families, silenced, shipped to worse facilities, or threatened — all things that happened to me in response to my own journalism and legal challenges, and some of which I haven’t spoken publicly about yet for reasons that will be made clear next year. One might argue that even this unusual opportunity probably wouldn’t have worked, and I agree; it’s one of many reasons why I also advocate revolution, preferably followed by public executions; the alternative is perpetual state violence against millions at home and abroad, overseen by a press corps I have come to know too well over the years to trust them to tell us when that violence against the innocent has gone too far.

The last time Gottesfeld’s wife, Dana Gottesfeld, heard from Marty, he’d just gotten his first phone call after being moved to the CMU and placed immediately in the hole. That was, again, nine months ago. Since then, Marty has continued to file against the BOP and its leadership from his lockdown cell, as we’ll see soon enough; I’m reviving my old prison column, The Barrett Brown Review of Arts & Letters & Prison, for CounterPunch, this time with an emphasis on media failures rather than incarceration culture, and the first edition will examine this ongoing human rights atrocity and what else it tells us, and contrast it with the dishonest whining I’ve seen from the counterfeit anti-establishment over the one day in jail Max Blumenthal did recently, and the pseudo-risks and non-sacrifices Glenn Greenwald has spoken of in the last year. Then, in the second of the two-part kick-off column, we’ll look at their close colleague Aaron Mate, who challenged me to a debate over a year ago before realizing I was involved in the past events he’s made a career of lying about to the ill-informed. And we’ll take a look at a couple of the close journalistic colleagues that Mate, Greenwald, and Blumenthal have covered for even after I privately approached each of them with documents illustrating their past assistance to the FBI against certain activists.

And then we’ll kick off two different campaigns intended to address all of these problems at once, as they turn out to be tragically interconnected in terms of trends and specific incidents and even individuals; together it tells the greater story of a doomed republic as well as anything else one may care to learn, and much that one would not.

Posted in USAComments Off on Activist Marty Gottesfeld Silenced for Writing About Prison Corruption While Serving Time

A Juarez Refugee Christmas


Photograph Source: Backbone Campaign – CC BY 2.0

As temperatures dip near or below freezing, scores of Mexican refugees huddle in their makeshift tents of layered plastic sheeting at the foot of the Santa Fe Bridge that connects Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, with El Paso, Texas. Many small children form part of the group. No colorfully wrapped packages wait below a Christmas tree. No heart warming lyrics from mariachi singers enliven the site, though a small figurine of the Virgin of Guadalupe watches over the people who wait and wait and wait for their chance to argue a case for political asylum in the United States.

Some of the asylum seekers report a presence at the bridge of two months, and like others in their predicament before them recite a litany of aggressions and atrocities that expelled them from their homes: murders of relatives, gang extortion and the forcible recruitment of the young, teenagers, into the criminal underworld, or as many contend, the real government where the line between officials and outlaws melds into one obscure if powerful and suffocating structure.

“We are fleeing delinquency,” they exclaim almost in unison.

Many former residents of Guerrero and Michoacan, states long embroiled in narco-violence, constitute the group encamped along a narrow side street. For the southerners from warmer climes, the borderland’s deep December chill presents a real challenge. El Diario de Juarez reported that the temperature plummeted to 25 degrees Fahrenheit on December 18.

Like their recent predecessors, the campers complain of lack of support from the Mexican government. No portable bathrooms, such the ones installed at a similar encampment outside another international bridge a few miles down the road, service the site; two men say they must pay five pesos to access the bathrooms on the Mexican portion of the Santa Fe Bridge and 50 pesos to take a shower in nearby hotels.

Food and clothing, however, are provided by a voluntary outpouring of Good Samaritans from Juarez, El Paso and other parts of the United States, especially from Christian churches. “Really, the local people have behaved beautifully,” an asylum seeker says. As the man talks, smiling folks swoop through the camp, delivering fresh burritos. If it weren’t for the civil society solidarity, hunger would prevail, he says.

In contravention of U.S. asylum law, two men say they were prevented from entering El Paso on multiple occasions, according to one man’s words, about “30 times” by CBP guards posted on the Santa Fe Bridge who argue there is no room to accommodate them at the moment.

Instead, they are part of a “metering” system in which families and individuals are called in small groups by CBP to come over and make their initial asylum claim. According to the Santa Fe Bridge group’s spokesperson, 67 families and 250 persons are currently on their list to cross.

A man who claims two months at the bridge says nobody was allowed into this country the day of interview, one family was permitted in the day before and not a single soul two days prior.

Many people who were previously at the encampment gave up and returned home, he adds. A group of women complain that children, including toddlers, who did make it across were asked inappropriate questions for their age by U.S. immigration authorities about violence.

In recent days, about 50 people from the Santa Fe Bridge encampment who were earlier permitted to enter the U.S. were deported back to Juarez, according to a pair of men. The asylum hopefuls report that some members of their group who were admitted into the U.S. wound up with family members, while others were held in immigrant detention centers in El Paso and New Mexico- sometimes for weeks at a time.

Dashing along the line of rudimentary tents, a young man says he was released from a New Mexico detention center after a judge decided he had no “credible fear” and agreeing to a voluntary departure instead of appealing the case. For now, he’s waiting for his brother to be released from immigrant detention. What will the siblings do?  “We don’t have family here,” the rejected asylum seeker says.” They’re all over (in the U.S.). My brother and I will return alone.” The U.S. officials have given him no real option, he says, even though the cartels pose a danger in the particular neck of the woods he fled.

He makes a prediction based on his experience with the U.S. asylum process: Many more deportees are going to trod through the streets of Juarez soon. And he gives the new deportees a moniker: “No Credible Fears.”

As pointed out by the Texas Tribune’s Julian Aguilar in a recent article, the sending of migrants back to Mexico stands in contrast to the Trump administration’s travel warnings to U.S. citizens about Mexico. An updated State Department travel advisory dated December 17, warns U.S. visitors to not visit either Guerrero or Michoacan, places from which many of the refugees stranded in Juarez hail. Similar warnings stand for Tamaulipas, Colima and Sinaloa.

Added to this contradiction can be the White House’s insistence on building a border wall as well as the President’s contemplation of designating the cartels as terrorist groups. In other words, the same country is not safe for U.S. citizens but safe for Mexican citizens, according to the varied pronunciations of federal officials.

At a December 17 meeting in Juarez, Mexican municipal, state and federal officials along with unnamed migrant advocates discussed consolidating the interview wait lists from the three international bridges in the city where refugees are camped out. In a press release, Rogelio Pinal, chief of Juarez’s municipal human rights department, was quoted as saying that children’s exposure to the cold and health conditions was likewise considered by the participants.

According to Pinal, the number of people at the camps has dropped to 650 individuals. Other accounts report that some Mexican asylum seekers are not camped out at the bridges because they have found lodging with relatives or friends or at hotels if they can afford the rent.

Separately, El Diario cited a senior Chihuahua state migrant official December 18 as stating that time has run out for the campers at the bridges and authorities would place the asylum seekers in migrant shelters. “They can’t be (there) any more, for the safety of the children,” Enrique Valenzuela of the Coespo state migrant agency was quoted.

Until now, many refugees at the Santa Fe Bridge have opposed to moving to the migrant shelters because of their distance from the international bridges and due to fears of losing a place on the waiting lists.

A fellow who’s says he’s left everything behind-job, property and home-and waited patiently for his turn at an asylum claims he will weather the bitter winter. He vows not to agree to voluntary departure, struggle through the entire legal process and endure detention if that is what it takes.

“We are looking for protection, not to live the good life as they say,” the man insists. “The American Dream doesn’t exist.” New people are still trickling into the refugee camp, but at far lower numbers than in recent months, he reports. But in his estimation, that situation could change after the winter passes and more people undertake a risky asylum odyssey.

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