Archive | February 21st, 2020

Cleveland park vandalized with swastikas and graffiti saying ‘F*** the Jews’

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A park in suburban Cleveland was vandalized with swastikas and anti-Jewish statements.

The graffiti on Veterans Memorial Park in Parma also included obscene images, racist epithets, the Confederate flag and the words “I love Hitler,” “F**k the Jews” and “Jewish Nazi Anne Frank.”

A Jewish woman from Cleveland first noticed the vandalism in November, but returned on Tuesday to photograph the images, the Cleveland Jewish News reported. She posted the photos on a private Jewish Cleveland Facebook page.

The images and epithets are indicative of what’s been seen across the region, James Pasch, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Cleveland, told the Cleveland Jewish News.

“There’s no place for this hate in our parks, at our universities or any space,” he said.

The Parma Police Department said the images would be immediately removed.

Five Jews Arrested for Painting Swastikas on’ Israel’ Consulate

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Naziyahu gives OK for thousands of Jewish illegal homes in occupied Jerusalem

From right: Jerusalem Nazi Mayor Moshe Lion, Prime Minister Naziyahu, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Nazi Yariv Levin and Prime Minister’s Office acting Director-General Nazi Ronen Peretz visit an overlook of the illegal occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, Feb. 20, 2020.

Prime Minister Benjamin Naziyahu said Thursday that his Nazi regime will build thousands of homes for Jews in predominantly Palestinian eastern illegally occupied Jerusalem.

Naziyahu said he would lift the construction ban on the Nazi Jewish Givat Hamatos settlement , giving the go-ahead for 3,000 housing units that were first approved in 2012, and announced the approval of 2,200 units in the Har Homa . Har Homa, established in 1997, has about 37,000 residents.

“We are connecting Jerusalem,” Naziyahu said while visiting Har Homa with Jerusalem Mayor Nazi Moshe Lion. “We are connecting all parts of the united Jerusalem, the rebuilt Jerusalem. It is a source of great pride and is great news for the entire people of Israel.”

Peace Now criticized the approval as an election ploy — voting in ‘Israel’ is on March 2 — and said the new settlement housing would be a serious blow to a future Palestinian state.

“This is the last point that can allow territorial contiguity between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem — the most significant Palestinian metropolitan area — and if the neighborhood is built, it will not be possible to connect the two cities,” Peace Now said in a statement. “Such a policy change cannot be passed in a transitional government without a mandate from the public.”

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Jewish lawmaker from Macedonia removed amid hostile anti-Semitic environment

North Macedonian Labor and Social Policy Minister Rasela Mizrahi speaking at a conference in December 2019. (Facebook/Rasela Mizrahi)

North Macedonian Labor and Social Policy Minister Rasela Mizrahi speaks at a conference, December 2019. (Facebook/Rasela Mizrahi)

(JTA) — A Jewish lawmaker from Macedonia was removed as Labor and Welfare minister amid a hostile anti-Semitic environment present since she assumed office in early January.

The ruling party, the left-leaning Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, said Rasela Mizrahi was fired for not calling the country by its new name, North Macedonia, instead using the Republic of Macedonia.

Mizrahi, a member of the center-right VMRO-DPMNE party, was voted out of office on Saturday in a 62-26 vote. Her party and the Social Democratic Union are in a power-sharing agreement as part of a caretaker government appointed last month. Early parliamentary elections are scheduled for April.

“I am a proud Jewish woman from Macedonia,” Mizrahi said during the debate last week to remove her from office, the English-language Macdedonian news website Republika reported. The report said that Mizrahi faced “an unending torrent of anti-Semitic abuse from the left during her term in office.”

“Even before I walked into my office, as the first Jewish person in the history of Macedonia to be appointed to the government, I was the target of reckless anti-Semitic attacks. Instead of criticizing my work, I was attacked for my religion and nationality and labeled with a yellow star,” Mizrahi also said. Most of her family, prominent in Macedonia for centuries, were killed in the Holocaust.

The Social Democrats cited a news conference in which Mizrahi spoke in front of a banner with the name Republic of Macedonia as the reason to remove her from office, saying that Greece demanded the action. The banner had been left there by her predecessor.

The name of the country, North Macedonia, became official in February 2019, part of a deal to assuage Greece, which has a province named Macedonia, and had been holding up the country’s membership requests to NATO and the European Union over the name disagreement.

Mizrahi reportedly had said that she used the country’s old name deliberately to correct an injustice, The Associated Press reported.

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Many accused Jewish pedophiles in US flee to ‘Israel’, CBS report finds

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(JTA) — Many Americans accused of sexually abusing children flee to Israel to escape justice — and bringing them back can be tough.

Those are the findings of a CBS News investigation, which cited research by Jewish Community Watch, a U.S.-based organization that tracks accused pedophiles. Many of the accused abuse children in Israel as well, according to the report broadcast Wednesday.

Jewish Community Watch, which started tracking accused pedophiles in 2014, says it has identified more than 60 accused pedophiles who have fled from the U.S. to Israel in that time and that the actual number is likely much larger, CBS reported. The organization told CBS that most of its cases originate from Modern Orthodox to haredi Orthodox communities in the U.S., but that it happens across the wider Jewish community as well.

“The same thing that is going on in the Catholic Church right now around the world, the exact same thing is happening in our community,” Jewish Community Watch founder Meyer Seewald told CBS News. “The cover-ups are the same, the stigma, the shame.”

Jewish men and women have been able to escape to Israel using the Law of Return, which grants any person with a Jewish grandparent the right to obtain Israeli citizenship automatically.

Jewish Community Watch’s chief operating officer, Shana Aaronson, says the blame starts with Jewish communities in the U.S. and the U.S. government for not seeking extraditions, but that Israeli law enforcement has come up short in prioritizing the search for suspects. Israeli police told CBS that they take the cases seriously and coordinate with the Justice Ministry and police worldwide.

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Five Jews Arrested for Painting Swastikas on’ Israel’ Consulate

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Five Jews were arrested early this morning by police who charged that they caught the persons painting swastikas on the front of the Israeli Consulate-General building at 11 East 70th Street. The building also houses the Israel mission to the United Nations.

Three of the five were named by police as Miklos Weinstock, 22; David Falkowitz, 17; and Shalom Grohman, 17. The names of the two others were withheld, in accordance with police regulations, because they are juveniles under 16. All five gave their addresses as being in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, an area inhabited by many ultra-zealous religious Jews. All were arraigned before magistrates today on charges of malicious mischief, and paroled for further hearings November 15.

According to the police, two patrolmen in a police car caught the five painting the swastikas, using a stencil and a spray gun. The five carried leaflets denouncing the Israel Government as “a Nazi state,” alleging that Israeli police in Jerusalem conducted a “pogrom” against religious elements objecting to motor traffic in Jerusalem on the Sabbath. The leaflets called for a protest demonstration to be held in front of the Israeli offices this afternoon.

Similar leaflets were passed out along East Broadway yesterday by Jewish youths wearing earlocks and costumed in the traditional garb of the ultra-religions. Several bearded men, according to eyewitnesses, were seated in an automobile nearby, directing the youths.

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Bernie Sanders and the Revenge of the Superdelegates


Photograph Source: Matt Johnson – CC BY 2.0

Unless Bernie Sanders wins enough delegates to capture the Democratic Party nomination on the first ballot, he is not going to be the nominee. The reason will be that the superdelegates–those same people who were his wrath in 2016–will come back to deny him the nomination.

The Democratic Party’s superdelegates were a reaction to the 1970 McGovern-Fraser reforms that sought to open the party to the people. Criticism after the 1968 Democratic Convention that party elites had too much control over the presidential nomination process–the proverbial smoke-filled backroom–led to a recommendation to create more political primaries. The goal was to let rank and file have more say on the party nominee. Yet by 1980 party elites felt there was too much democracy within the Democratic Party; they, not the base, still knew best who the nominee should be and what the party should stand for.

In 1980 the Democratic Party’s Hunt Commission recommended that 30% of all the Democratic National Convention delegates be reserved for members of Congress and state party chairs and vice chairs. These are the superdelegates. That 30% figure was originally implemented at 14% but by 2008 the percentage rose to nearly 20%. Their purpose was ostensibly to provide leadership, but in practice it was to maintain orthodoxy, serving as a check on primary voters who might make the wrong choice.

It was in 2008 that most Americans first heard of Democratic Party superdelegates. When Hillary Clinton first ran for president in 2008 she was presumptively the presidential heir apparent, only to come in third in the Iowa caucuses and then fall behind Barack Obama in the delegate count. Going into the Democratic National Convention she pulled one last move, convince the superdelegates to vote and throw the nomination to her. She failed in that attempt.

Eight years later the ballot for the presidential nomination pitted again the presumptive presidential heir apparent Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders. As it was true in 2008, she was heavily favored to win the nomination, with initial polls giving her a 50%+ lead over Sanders. She again floundered, with Sanders racking but victories and delegates. While superdelegates were in theory supposed to be uncommitted until the convention, Clinton secured the support of many, included them in her delegate count, and encouraged the media to report them in her totals. The purpose was to create the illusion that she had a bigger lead over Sanders than she did as part of her effort along with the Democratic leadership, as revealed in leaked emails, to make sure Sanders did not win.

Criticism from the left wing of the Democratic Party forced one change post 2016. Superdelegates could no longer vote in the first round at the national convention unless a candidate had a majority of the delegates secured to win the nomination. After the first round the superdelegates can vote.

In 2020 there will be 3,979 delegates to the Democratic National Convention who will be selected as a result of primaries and caucuses. To win the nomination one needs 1,991 delegates.

If Bernie Sanders does not get to this number by the first round, the 771 Superdelegates will get to vote, and he will need 2,376 votes to win. Fat chance!

Much in the same way that the Democratic Party and its leadership including Deborah Wasserman Schultz were stacked against Sanders in 2016, Tom Perez and much of the party leadership are opposed to him again.  Perhaps proof of this opposition is the disappointment in this year’s presumptive presidential heir apparent Joe Biden and the search for his moderate replacement in Peter Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bloomberg.

Despite coming behind Sanders twice in the popular vote in Iowa and New Hampshire, Buttigieg is seen in the media and party as the alternative to Sanders. Despite fifth and third place finishes in these states, Klobuchar is seen as a winner and rising moderate alternative. And without a delegate to his name but $400 million already spent, Bloomberg is the billionaire anthesis to Sanders who has pledged to take on the billionaires. The moderate choice to Sanders is thus to vote for a billionaire or candidates who take money from billionaires. In either case the message is clear, the Democratic Party establishment–one that has been pro-business, corporate, and complicit in shoving neo-liberalism down the throats of the American public and pushing white working class over to Trump and the Republicans—does not want Sanders.

By all accounts Sanders should be considered the populist frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Yet the plethora of candidates who are running and eating up delegates will make that hard. Bloomberg on Super Tuesday when 34% of the pledged delegates are in play, stands a great chance of winning enough to reduce the mathematical probability that any candidates can get to 1,991 by the first round. Should they happen, the superdelegates enter and that will no doubt cast the die against Sanders.

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Social Media: The New Grapevine Telegraph


Image Source: Paul Irish – CC By 2.0

I was attending the 30th annual PEN Oakland awards at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library. The date was December 7th. It was about a half hour before the ceremonies would begin. I decided to walk across the street to the Hudson Bay Café to buy a double espresso. As soon as I entered the café, the young black woman who was managing the cash register became alert to my presence. Her eyes showed a tinge of fear. I stood in line. She and I were the only black people in the café. The white woman who was preparing the coffee called on someone in the kitchen. He emerged and stood at the entrance of the kitchen. He began to glare at me. When it came my turn to make an order, and I showed that I was able to pay for the coffee and wasn’t there to take hostages, they relaxed. But at least Hudson Bay sent a white man to stand his ground, were taking hostages my intention.

Others use minorities to do their racial profiling.

On the following Monday, I entered Walgreens on Shattuck Avenue across from the Berkeley Bowl, a grocery store. As soon as I entered, a blonde who was working at the cash register fixed her eyes on me. We exchanged glances. She yelled “aisle two,” which was the aisle in which I was walking. A diminutive Asian American woman rushed up and asked if she could help me. Turns out I had a better idea of the location of the product I intended to buy than she. I know my way around this store. I even have a rewards card.

This would be the third time that I have been profiled in this store. The white women call on Asian American women to assist in profiling, putting minority women at risk. On another occasion, they put a black kid out front. I was searching for a case of bottled water that was on sale. When I arrived at the cash register a whole delegation of profilers was waiting. But it was the black kid who followed me out of the store

At the Student Union store at UC Berkeley, where I taught for 36 years, it was a black man who followed me around when I purchased a sleeve for my computer and it was a black kid who followed me around when I attended a performance at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, even though I had been invited by one of the performers. They were sticking to me like wallpaper sticks to the wall or the lyrics from the song “Me and My Shadow.”

Though my resumé is about 20 pages, I have more in common with the profilers, the help, than the management which assigns them to do their dirty work. I grew up in the projects in Buffalo, New York. My stepfather worked on the assembly line at Chevrolet. My mother led a revolt at a department store where she was employed as a stock girl, based upon their only using black women as stock girls, instead of as saleswomen. During the ’40s, she led a strike against a supervisor at a hotel where she was employed as a maid, who, according to her, were treating her and the rest of the black housekeeping employees “like Hitler.” Though she wrote a well-received book, “Black Girl From Tannery Flats,” her organizing strikes and protests against unfair labor practices were her proudest moments. And so racial profiling pits me, whose roots are in the working class, against working class people.

This is the kind of divide-and-conquer strategy that is used by billionaires as a way of maintaining their privilege and distracting from their gluttony. Racial profiling hurts. These establishments are saying, yes, we will take your money but while doing so, we will insult you. Now there are those among whom James Baldwin calls “The Chorus of Innocents,” his phrase applied to liberals whom he, at that point in his career, sought to redeem, who would dismiss my experience. They will say, perhaps there was another reason for the treatment you received in these stores. The store managers will deny that they have such a policy.

While conducting research for my Audible book, “Malcolm and Me,” about my encounters with Malcolm X and his legacy, I ran across a 1961 debate between Malcolm X, James Baldwin and newspaper man George Schuyler. While the white host seemed fixed on whether Malcolm intended to harm whites, Baldwin and Schuyler scored points against the young minister. Malcolm dismissed the integrationists. Why would you want to force yourself into situations where you’re not wanted, he asked. Baldwin said that many white Mississippians would agree with Malcolm. When Malcolm said that blacks were dependent upon whites, George Schuyler pointed to over 100,000 independent black farmers.

George Schuyler represented The Pittsburgh Courier, a black newspaper with solid black grassroots footing. With the collapse of the black press, black pundits and black public intellectuals have become the proxies of others who get to “filter” their views. Move, Politico, TheRoot, MSNBC, Axios and CNN create pundits whose opinions are patrolled by their employers like the billionaires at Comcast.

During the weekend of February 9th, MSNBC regular Tiffany Cross blurted out the conditions under which MSNBC black pundits work. She said, “If I said a lot of the things that I really think, I would get filtered–we just can’t say that, we have to filter our own voices.” This explains why the black women on Joy Reid’s show can weigh in on the stupid sexist brutish moves of some black athletes and entertainers, but can’t discuss the effect of Michael Bloomberg’s Stop and Frisk policy on black and brown women, who were humiliated by NYPD perverts, who used S. and F. as an excuse to molest and fondle.In fact, on February 12, The Washington Examiner reported that, Reid, a feminist, endorsed Michael Bloomberg. The headline read:” ‘Fight like a Republican’: MSNBC hosts pitch Bloomberg as best candidate to take down Trump.” Regardless of his sexist attitudes toward white, brown, and black women? This is bourgeois feminism at its most corrupt.

White women are also restricted. Mika Brezezinski can behave from time to time as the conscience of the Black Nation, weighing in on rap lyrics and supporting Gayle King whose defenders are uninformed about the details of the Kobe Bryant “rape” case,* but she dare not discuss the in-house predators at NBC. Rev. Sharpton, one of a handful of on-the-air black commentators with a following among black church goers, was right to condemn Snoop Dogg, who threatened Gayle King over her uninformed comments* about Kobe Bryant and his “victim,” Somebody should tell Mikka that blacks don’t have the power to create black celebrity Hip Hoppers. White kids do. And even with that The Rolling Stone hails Eminem as “The Emperor of Hip Hop.” Black Hip Hoppers can’t become emperors or empresses of forms that they created? The networks also have a bias against traditional African American commentators. They are cast by the billionaire owners as troublemakers. The same holds true for Hollywood and academia. Multiculturalism has come to mean, everybody but traditional African-Americans.

Social media has filled in the gap left by the Black press. With social media, blacks can tell their stories internationally and share their experience, and transcend the confining images of the corporate media which are based upon reinforcing the stereotypes accepted by those who buy their products. Blacks no longer have to be like the character in “The Invaders (a TV Series 1967–1968),” who tells people about an alien invasion and nobody believes him. People do not believe me when I say that often when I go for a walk at Golden Bear track, a UC Berkeley owned property, which is open to the public, the neighbors call the police, or that I was even profiled while walking through the landmark Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. The police were called. My spouse said that it might have been for another reason. I told her that when I leave, they’ll leave, which is what happened.

Booker T. Washington wrote of the “grape-vine telegraph.” He said that his mother and other slaves would whisper and mutter about great events. The news would travel swiftly from plantation to plantation. When, in 1791, Haitians revolted against French slaveholders, the news reached and worried Alexander Hamilton’s relatives, the Schuylers, who feared the Haitian revolt might inspire a revolt by their mistreated slaves. Both Hamilton and Jefferson supported the slave holders.

The protest one hears about social media is that it presents a threat to privacy. That might be a problem for some, but blacks have been under surveillance since even before arriving here. I grew up in the projects and so I knew at an early age that the Bill of Rights didn’t apply to me. Fourth Amendment rights? The police without warrants used to burst into people’s homes frequently.

While pundits are recalling the Nixon hearings, what I remember about the hearings is that Frank Wills, whose discovery of the burglary toppled the administration, was not called upon to testify because the Southerners who managed the hearings didn’t want to embarrass the administration. Segregationist Senator Herman Talmadge, who said that in Georgia a man’s home is his castle, is a pretty good principle. Except if you’re black and a mob often led by the police wants to drag you out of your house for a lynching.

The late Robert Maynard, publisher of The Oakland Tribune, challenged the media to diversify by 2000. It didn’t happen. It ain’t going to happen. As long as there are huge profits in presenting a one-sided view of black life. In the meantime we have social media. The new grapevine telegraph where I can read about the racial profiling that has been increased in the United States as a result of oligarchs dividing groups so as to distract from their gluttony. I can read about a book fair in Nigeria and black ghetto teenagers winning chess championships. I can read black intellectuals denouncing films like the one that mainstream critics are currently showering with praise and awards. A film in which Harriet Tubman wouldn’t recognize herself and the villain is a made-up black Bogeyman.

While The New York Times provides Scots Irish American, Charles Murray, considerable space to promote his Neo-Nazi ideas about black inferiority, I learned from social media that one of Charles Darwin’s professors was a black man. From social media, I can get an unfiltered and expanded view of black life that is absent from a corporate press that, in terms of diversity, is 50 years behind the South.


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Assange’s Extradition Case: Critical Moment for the Anti-war Movement


Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Earlier this week, Leader of the UK opposition Jeremy Corbyn challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons on the US extradition request for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

Corbyn stated that Assange had been charged by the US “for exposing war crimes, the murder of civilians and large-scale corruption”. Backing the Council of Europe, who warned that the prosecution of Assange sets a dangerous precedent for journalists and called for his immediate release, he asked:

“Will the Prime Minister agree with the Parliamentary report that’s going to the Council of Europe that this extradition should be opposed and the rights of journalists and whistleblowers upheld for the good of all of us?”

Corbyn has risen to political prominence for his lifelong activism against military action. He opposed the 2003 Iraq War and also voted against British military involvement in Afghanistan and Libya. The Labour leader, who is known for his staunch commitment to democratic rights and peace, understood very well the value of WikiLeaks’ disclosure of government secrets.

WikiLeaks’ publication of documents concerning US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was a major contribution to the anti-war movement. The release of the Collateral Murder video provided a rare window into modern asymmetric warfare, revealing the war crime of a US military airstrike killing innocent civilians in a suburb of Iraq.

Corbyn, who has not mentioned Assange’s plight over the last 10 months, and with now less than two weeks before his extradition hearing, finally broke his silence. In his question to the Prime Minister, he fiercely asserted the voice of the anti-war movement at the Parliamentary session.

The Fourth Estate as a vehicle for peace

This decisive action by Corbyn came shortly after Julian Assange was nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, along with whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. The nomination letter stated that these three need to be recognized for their “unprecedented contributions to the pursuit of peace and their immense personal sacrifices to promote peace for all”. It acknowledged how they have “exposed the architecture of war and strengthened the architecture of peace”. In the following week, Assange also won the 2020 Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award, adding another prize to his list of journalism awards.

Assange understood the critical role of media in keeping peace. He once noted: “Populations don’t like wars. They have to be lied into it. That means we can be ‘truthed’ into peace.” Speaking in defense of the disclosure of classified US military documents on the Iraq War, Assange pointed out how “most wars that are started by democracies involve lying” and described, “the start of the Iraq War involved very serious lies that were repeated and amplified by some parts of the press”.

The Iraq War is a good example of the massive failure of established media in the West. Colin Powell’s fabrication at the UN Security Council about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction was a particular low point for the US in its base war propaganda.

While media have become stenographers to power and have long betrayed ordinary people, WikiLeaks has defended the public’s right to know by publishing more than 10 million documents, with a pristine record of accuracy exposing human rights abuses, government spying and war crimes on an unprecedented scale. By bringing truth to the public, the whistleblowing site transformed the Fourth Estate into becoming a powerful vehicle for peace-making.

Australian MPs’ initiative

In the EU, the number of Parliament members, lawmakers and ministers in support of Assange is growing. In Assange’s home country, Australia, concern for one of the nation’s legendary journalists is becoming stronger. As more and more people voiced disappointment with the inaction of the Australian government, individuals inside the institution began to take action.

On February 10, Australian MP Andrew Wilkie tabled a historic petition in Australia’s Parliament calling for an end to the US extradition. As he urged the government to bring Assange back home, he added:

“That the perpetrator of those war crimes, America, is now seeking to extradite Mr Assange to face 17 counts of espionage and one of hacking is unjust in the extreme and arguably illegal under British law.”

Then, a day later, he announced that he would travel to London to visit Assange in Belmarsh prison, where he has been kept in complete isolation until recently. Another Australian MP George Christensen will also visit Assange in London and together they plan to lobby Britain for his freedom.

Momentum is now building up, with political figures demonstrating great leadership in urging their governments to do the right thing. In the US, during the lead-up to Mr Assange’s UK hearing, the Democratic Party’s primary nomination contest is intensifying. Candidates race to win the right to challenge Trump for the 2020 presidential election.

Presidential race to rescue the free press?

Who among the US presidential candidates would be the next to follow Corbyn’s great lead to defend Assange, in order to rescue the free press that is now under attack by the Trump administration?

So far, strong support is shown by Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii’s congresswoman and the first female combat veteran to ever run for president. She indicated that, if elected President in 2020, she would drop all US charges against Julian Assange and pardon Edward Snowden.

What about the positions of other major candidates? Both the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren recognized the dangerous precedent that the Trump administration’s indictment against Assange poses for press freedom, yet they fall short in coming forward to strongly defend a journalist imprisoned in London’s HMP Belmarsh, who is now facing 175 years in a US prison for his publishing activities exposing US war crimes.

Will Sanders, who is viewed by many as America’s counterpart to UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, stand up for what has become the most essential media freedom issue of our time? Would Warren, who promises to take on Wall Street to protect economic opportunities for working families, show the same enthusiasm to protect media freedom? Will any of them challenge Joe Biden for the remarks he made while he was Vice-President to Barack Obama comparing Assange to a “high-tech terrorist”?

Bill Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, who now has become the only opponent to challenge Trump for the Republican ticket, indicated that his administration would not press Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange.

Grassroots action

While presidential candidates are lacking in their courage to defend Assange, support toward the WikiLeaks founder is growing at the grassroots level among the American people. Rick Sterling, the Bay Area-based investigative journalist, recently launched a new petition to intervene on behalf of Assange’s freedom. The petition, endorsed by the National Lawyers Guild and Veterans for Peace, is addressed to Vanessa Baraitser, who will be the presiding judge at Assange’s formal extradition hearing starting February 24, urging her to exercise judicial independence and reject the US extradition request.

Sterling, who is a member of Syria Solidarity Movement, has been critical of the US military invasion of the Middle East, and has traveled to London with other concerned friends to investigate Assange’s current situation. He said, “Once there, we were inspired by the dedication of activists who protest outside Belmarsh Prison every Saturday and in Trafalgar Square every Saturday night. People from around the world are coming to express their solidarity.”

He said that he initiated this petition because he wanted to make it known that  “there are informed American citizens who adamantly OPPOSE what our government is doing”. He added: “We want the judge to consider all the facts and not be pressured or bullied into extraditing Assange.”

In defense of peace

Assange’s US extradition hearing is set to start for five days on February 24, and will then resume on May 18 for three more weeks. His first day in the court is marked as a Global Day of Protests, where supporters around the world are organizing rallies and demonstrations. In the US, supporters across the country are planning to gather for solidarity actions planned in Washington DC throughout the first week of his hearing.

Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture who investigated Mr Assange’s situation, spoke at a recent public rally in London about how Julian Assange reported on torture conducted by the US government, but which has never been prosecuted. He reminded the audience that Assange has been and continues to be psychologically tortured, and that if he were to be extradited to the US he would be tortured until the day he dies.

The US government’s extradition and prosecution of Julian Assange is a critical moment for press freedom, but also for the anti-war movement. This aggressive government’s assault on journalists poses grave danger to peace, for without a press that is free and independent, truth that has the power to stop wars is defenseless.

If the Trump administration were to succeed in extraditing Assange to the US, where he will not receive a fair trial, it will be the death of investigative journalism and the victory of senseless wars. If this is ever allowed to happen, the murder of an innocent journalist will not be the end, but only the beginning: the unchecked power of the US Empire will bring misery and death to countless innocents around the world, and tyranny inevitably follow with wars without end. We need to solidify our opposition to the US extradition of Julian Assange, because peace needs a great public defense.

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Bloomberg on Bloomberg: The Selected Sayings of the Much-Awaited Establishment Messiah


“If you want to know if somebody’s a good salesman, give them the job of going to the Midwest, and picking a town, and selling to that town the concept that some man wearing a dress should be in a locker room with their daughter. If you can sell that, you can sell anything. They just look at you, and they say, What on earth are you talking about? And you say, Well, this person identifies his or her gender as different than what’s on their birth certificate. And they say, What do you mean? You’re either born this, or you’re born that. In our prison system in New York City, we have the policy, when you walk in, drop your trousers, you go this way, and you go that way, that’s it, because you can’t sit there and mix things in jail, that’s a practical case of where you have to make a decision.” (Against transgender bathrooms, 2016)

“The Harvard graduate on average will never catch up to a plumber. Partly because the first four years instead of spending $60,000 you make $60,000.” (A Harvard education versus being a plumber, 2015)

“If you want to drive out the 1 percent of the people that pay roughly 50 percent of the taxes, or the 10 percent of the people that pay 70-odd percent of the taxes, that’s as good a strategy as I know. We wouldn’t be able to have cops to keep us safe, firefighters to rescue us, teachers to educate our kids….You saw in France people moving out when they raised the tax rates. Whether you like it or not, the wealthy are mobile.” (Against raising taxes on the wealthy, 2012)

“What are we going to say in 10 years when we see all these kids whose IQs are 5 to 10 points lower than they would have been? I couldn’t feel more strongly about it, and my girlfriend says it’s no different than alcohol. It is different than alcohol. This is one of the stupider things that’s happening across our country.” (Against legalizing pot, 2015)

“What we really should have is fingerprinting to get in. And of course there’s an allegation that some of these apartments aren’t occupied by the people who originally have the lease.” (Fingerprinting public housing residents, 2013)

“The protesters are protesting againstpeople who make $40–50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet….Those are the people that work on Wall Street or in the finance sector….We need the banks, if the banks don’t go out and make loans we will not come out of our economic problems, we will not have jobs….We always tend to blame the wrong people. We blame the banks.” (Against Occupy protestors, 2011)

“Complying with it is really impossible, which means you’re not going to comply with it. The world adjusts to stupid laws, they don’t pay any attention to them and you get burned later on, like a 25 mile per hour speed limit….Some of these fines are outrageous and shouldn’t be allowed to take place.” (Against banking fines and regulations, 2014)

“I want to thank President Bush for leading the global war on terrorism. The president deserves our support. We are here to support him. And I am here to support him.” (Supporting the Iraq War, 2004)

“Great, No. 16!” (Commenting on the number of pregnant employees in the company, upon hearing an employee tell him she was pregnant, 1995)

“I think the Fire Department union should probably step back and look in the mirror….We will not tolerate turning a firehouse into a brothel….We’re not going to tolerate firefighters drinking when they’re on the job. We absolutely will not let anybody who’s on drugs drive a fire engine.” (Attacking firefighters, 2004)

“Friday night when I was informed that, of the situation of this teacher saying that she had been a sex worker—I think was the term she might have used—I said, Well, you know, call her, tell her she is being removed from the classroom….We’re just not going to have this woman in front of a class.” (Firing a former sex worker from her teaching position)

“You don’t solve the problem, as the populists would argue, by taking things away from the rich. I, for example, am not in favor, have never been in favor, of raising the minimum wage.” (Opposing a rise in the minimum wage, 2015)

“So if that’s what you describe as income inequality—that’s just not an apt description. One of the things that’s different today is the poor—80 percent have air-conditioning. Seventy percent have cars. When we grew up we didn’t have air-conditioning. Air-conditioning in the schools, the subways. Are you crazy? Now, by most of the world’s standards, you ain’t poor.” (Denying income inequality, 2013)

“Who’s paying our taxes?….We want these people to come here, and it’s not our job to say that they’re over or underpaid….Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to move here?” (Arguing against inequality in NYC, 2013)

“If New York City is a business, it isn’t Walmart—it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market….It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product. New York offers tremendous value, but only for those companies able to capitalize on it.” (Branding NYC, 2003)

“You can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system and walk in the door and we’ve got to give you shelter” (Deploring homeless shelters, 2013)

“Some people say, taxes are regressive. In this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money. And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves….And that’s why you do want to do exactly what a lot of people say you don’t want to do. (Justifying regressive taxes, 2018)

Posted in USAComments Off on Bloomberg on Bloomberg: The Selected Sayings of the Much-Awaited Establishment Messiah

Democracy, Dictatorship and Bloomberg


The 2020 presidential race didn’t get decided this week, but the choice before us did: more democracy or less of it. That’s the decision we are facing, and if the Democrats manage to foul this up, they may not get another chance.

The very same day that New Hampshire held its primary, the president was out there bullying federal workers via Tweet. By the end of the night, Trump’s criminally-convicted chum Roger Stone’s sentence was suspended, and the Constitution, the impartiality of the courts and the supposed rule of law had taken one more power-addled hit.

Democracy on the one hand, autocracy on the other. Whatever you think of the race so far, the stakes for the nation don’t get much clearer than they did Tuesday night. And whatever you think of their candidates, democracy should be something Democrats could sell. While the word may be Greek (a plural noun meaning we the people, the populace, us), the idea’s beloved by Americans. Any Coca-Cola or Cadillac seller can tell you that.

Ranked along the democracy spectrum, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren stand out. Demos-driven, decrying big-dollar power, no billionaires bankroll their field campaigns, no self-interested, anonymous sources shell out for their TV ads. Bernie’s socialism, when it’s not explained by haters, has everything to do with more choices for more people, not fewer. Warren’s many plans speak to the world of input she’s gotten and seems to have taken to heart.

At the other end of the spectrum is Michael Bloomberg, the three-term Mayor in a two-term limit town, the stop-and-frisk, my-way-or-the-highway CEO in a land of laws defending civil rights. If there is one way for the Democrats to bungle this battle for democracy, Bloomberg is it.

Already, thanks to a DNC rule change, Bloomberg will participate in the Nevada debate without having won a single delegate or small donation. He’ll come to Super Tuesday fresh, having campaigned for months via a one-way media megaphone, while his opponents have had to sweat it out under spotlights, handshake by handshake—the senators squeezing in their public service too in the impeachment trial, trying to rein in the predator in chief.

The Democratic establishment’s clearly rattled. It’s not democratic socialism they fear, they say, rather Trump’s vilification of it. But while Trump will surely red-bait Sanders, he’ll just as certainly banker-bait Bloomberg. The real question is, for which is the DNC willing to go to bat? The demos or the autocrat?

In 2016, the wolf now in the White House dressed up in “outsider” clothing and cast himself as the dragon slayer of the Democratic establishment—a developer David vs. New York’s Goliaths. The Donald was lying, but it worked, and he’s run with it ever since. There’s no indication that he’s about to change course. If the 2020 choice becomes one between the bully-in-chief’s MAGA muscle-Ts and Wall Street’s clean “I Like Mike” shirts, a lot of us who hanker for a broader demos will see ourselves in none of it.

Democracy vs. Dictatorship. Democrats should not be able to lose that race, but they could. And what comes next is worse.

Posted in USAComments Off on Democracy, Dictatorship and Bloomberg

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