Archive | February 25th, 2020

Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed


Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

On Saturday, there will be a march from Australia House in London to Parliament Square, the centre of British democracy. People will carry pictures of the Australian publisher and journalist Julian Assange who, on 24 February, faces a court that will decide whether or not he is to be extradited to the United States and a living death.

I know Australia House well. As an Australian myself, I used to go there in my early days in London to read the newspapers from home. Opened by King George V over a century ago, its vastness of marble and stone, chandeliers and solemn portraits, imported from Australia when Australian soldiers were dying in the slaughter of the First World War, have ensured its landmark as an imperial pile of monumental servility.

As one of the oldest “diplomatic missions” in the United Kingdom, this relic of empire provides a pleasurable sinecure for Antipodean politicians:  a “mate” rewarded or a troublemaker exiled.

Known as  High Commissioner, the equivalent of an ambassador, the current beneficiary is George Brandis, who as Attorney General tried to water down Australia’s Race Discrimination Act and approved raids on whistleblowers who had revealed the truth about Australia’s  illegal spying on East Timor during negotiations for the carve-up of that impoverished country’s oil and gas.

This led to the prosecution of whistleblowers Bernard Collaery and “Witness K”,  on bogus charges. Like Julian Assange, they are to be silenced in a Kafkaesque trial and put away.

Australia House is the ideal starting point for Saturday’s march.

“I confess,” wrote Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1898, “that countries are pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.””

We Australians have been in the service of the Great Game for a very long time. Having devastated our Indigenous people in an invasion and a war of attrition that continues to this day, we have spilt blood for our imperial masters in China, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. No imperial adventure against those with whom we have no quarrel has escaped our dedication.

Deception has been a feature. When Prime Minister Robert Menzies sent Australian soldiers to Vietnam in the 1960s, he described them as a training team, requested by a beleaguered government in Saigon. It was a lie. A senior official of the Department of External Affairs wrote secretly that “although we have stressed the fact publicly that our assistance was given in response to an invitation by the government of South Vietnam”, the order came from Washington.”

Two versions. The lie for us, the truth for them. As many as four million people died in the Vietnam war.

When Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, the Australian Ambassador, Richard Woolcott, secretly urged the government in Canberra to “act in a way which would be designed to minimise the public impact in Australia and show private understanding to Indonesia.”  In other words, to lie. He alluded to the beckoning spoils of oil and gas in the Timor Sea which, boasted Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, were worth “zillions”.

In the genocide that followed, at least 200,000 East Timorese died. Australia recognised, almost alone, the legitimacy of the occupation.

When Prime Minister John Howard sent Australian special forces to invade Iraq with America and Britain in 2003, he — like George W. Bush and Tony Blair — lied that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. More than a million people died in Iraq.

WikiLeaks was not the first to call out the pattern of criminal lying in democracies that remain every bit as rapacious as in Lord Curzon’s day. The achievement of the remarkable publishing organisation founded by Julian Assange has been to provide the proof.

WikiLeaks has informed us how illegal wars are fabricated, how governments are overthrown and violence is used in our name, how we are spied upon through our phones and screens. The true lies of presidents, ambassadors, political candidates, generals, proxies, political fraudsters have been exposed. One by one, these would-be emperors have realised they have no clothes.

It has been an unprecedented public service; above all, it is authentic journalism, whose value can be judged by the degree of apoplexy of the corrupt and their apologists.

For example, in 2016, WikiLeaks published the leaked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta, which revealed a direct connection between Clinton, the foundation she shares with her husband and the funding of organised jihadism in the Middle East — terrorism.

One email disclosed that Islamic State (ISIS) was bankrolled by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, from which Clinton accepted huge “donations”. Moreover, as US Secretary of State, she approved the world’s biggest ever arms sale to her Saudi benefactors, worth more than $80 billion. Thanks to her, US arms sales to the world — for use in stricken countries like Yemen — doubled.

Revealed by WikiLeaks and published in The New York Times, the Podesta emails triggered a vituperative campaign against editor-in-chief Julian Assange, bereft of evidence. He was an “agent of Russia working to elect Trump”; the nonsensical “Russiagate” followed. That WikiLeaks had also published more than 800,000 frequently damning documents from Russia was ignored.

On an Australian Broadcasting Corporation programme, Four Corners, in 2017, Clinton was interviewed by Sarah Ferguson, who began: “No one could fail to be moved by the pain on your face at [the moment of Donald Trump’s inauguration] … Do you remember how visceral it was for you?”

Having established Clinton’s visceral suffering, the fawning Ferguson described “Russia’s role” and the “damage done personally to you” by Julian Assange.

Clinton replied, “He [Assange] is very clearly a tool of Russian intelligence. And he has done their bidding.”

Ferguson said to Clinton, “Lots of people, including in Australia, think that Assange is a martyr of free speech and freedom of information. How would you describe him?”

Again, Clinton was allowed to defame Assange — a “nihilist” in the service of “dictators” — while Ferguson assured her interviewee she was “the icon of your generation”.

There was no mention of a leaked document, revealed by WikiLeaks, called Libya Tick Tock, prepared for Hillary Clinton, which described her as the central figure driving the destruction of the Libyan state in 2011. This resulted in 40,000 deaths, the arrival of ISIS in North Africa and the European refugee and migrant crisis.

For me, this episode of Clinton’s interview — and there are many others – vividly illustrates the division between false and true journalism. On 24 February, when Julian Assange steps into Woolwich Crown Court, true journalism will be the only crime on trial.

I am sometimes asked why I have championed Assange. For one thing, I like and I admire him. He is a friend with astonishing courage; and he has a finely honed, wicked sense of humour. He is the diametric opposite of the character invented then assassinated by his enemies.

As a reporter in places of upheaval all over the world, I have learned to compare the evidence I have witnessed with the words and actions of those with power. In this way, it is possible to get a sense of how our world is controlled and divided and manipulated, how language and debate are distorted to produce the propaganda of false consciousness.

When we speak about dictatorships, we call this brainwashing: the conquest of minds. It is a truth we rarely apply to our own societies, regardless of the trail of blood that leads back to us and which never dries.

WikiLeaks has exposed this. That is why Assange is in a maximum security prison in London facing concocted political charges in America, and why he has shamed so many of those paid to keep the record straight. Watch these journalists now look for cover as it dawns on them that the American fascists who have come for Assange may come for them, not least those on the Guardian who collaborated with WikiLeaks and won prizes and secured lucrative book and Hollywood deals based on his work, before turning on him.

In 2011, David Leigh, the Guardian’s  “investigations editor”, told journalism students at City University in London that Assange was “quite deranged”. When a puzzled student asked why, Leigh replied, “Because he doesn’t understand the parameters of conventional journalism”.

But it’s precisely because he did understand that the “parameters” of the media often shielded vested and political interests and had nothing to do with transparency that the idea of WikiLeaks was so appealing to many people, especially the young, rightly cynical about the so-called “mainstream”.

Leigh mocked the very idea that, once extradited, Assange would end up “wearing an orange jumpsuit”. These were things, he said, “that he and his lawyer are saying in order to feed his paranoia”.

The current US charges against Assange centre on the Afghan Logs and Iraq Logs, which the Guardian published and Leigh worked on, and on the Collateral Murder video showing an American helicopter crew gunning down civilians and celebrating the crime. For this journalism, Assange faces 17 charges of “espionage” which carry prison sentences totalling 175 years.

Whether or not his prison uniform will be an “orange jumpsuit”, US court files seen by Assange’s lawyers reveal that, once extradited, Assange will be subject to Special Administrative Measures, known as SAMS.  A 2017 report by Yale University Law School and the Center for Constitutional Rights described SAMS as “the darkest corner of the US federal prison system” combining “the brutality and isolation of maximum security units with additional restrictions that deny individuals almost any connection to the human world … The net effect is to shield this form of torture from any real public scrutiny.”

That Assange has been right all along, and getting him to Sweden was a fraud to cover an American plan to “render” him, is finally becoming clear to many who swallowed the incessant scuttlebutt of character assassination. “I speak fluent Swedish and was able to read all the original documents,” Nils Melzer, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, said recently, “I could hardly believe my eyes. According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never taken place at all. And not only that: the woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm Police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.”

Keir Starmer is currently running for election as leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Between 2008 and 2013, he was Director of Public Prosecutions and responsible for the Crown Prosecution Service. According to Freedom of Information searches by the Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi, Sweden tried to drop the Assange case in 2011, but a CPS official in London told the Swedish prosecutor not to treat it as “just another extradition”.

In 2012, she received an email from the CPS: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”  Other CPS emails were either deleted or redacted. Why? Keir Starmer needs to say why.

At the forefront of Saturday’s march will be John Shipton, Julian’s father, whose indefatigable support for his son is the antithesis of the collusion and cruelty of the governments of Australia, our homeland.

The roll call of shame begins with  Julia Gillard, the Australian Labor prime minister who, in 2010, wanted to criminalise WikiLeaks, arrest Assange and cancel his passport– until the Australian Federal Police pointed out that no law allowed this and that Assange had committed no crime.

While falsely claiming to give him consular assistance in London, it was the Gillard government’s shocking abandonment of its citizen that led to Ecuador granting political asylum to Assange in its London embassy.

In a subsequent speech before the US Congress, Gillard, a favourite of the US embassy in Canberra, broke records for sycophancy (according to the website Honest History) as she declared, over and again, the fidelity of America’s “mates Down Under”.

Today, while Assange waits in his cell, Gillard travels the world, promoting herself as a feminist concerned about “human rights”, often in tandem with that other right-on feminist Hillary Clinton.

The truth is that Australia could have rescued Julian Assange and can still rescue him.

In 2010, I arranged to meet a prominent Liberal (Conservative) Member of Parliament, Malcolm Turnbull. As a young barrister in the 1980s, Turnbull had successfully fought the British Government’s attempts to prevent the publication of the book, Spycatcher, whose author Peter Wright, a spy, had exposed Britain’s “deep state”.

We talked about his famous victory for free speech and publishing and I described the miscarriage of justice awaiting Assange — the fraud of his arrest in Sweden and its connection with an American indictment that tore up the US Constitution and the rule of international law.

Turnbull appeared to show genuine interest and an aide took extensive notes. I asked him to deliver a letter to the Australian government from Gareth Peirce, the renowned British human rights lawyer who represents Assange.

In the letter, Peirce wrote, “Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for [Julian Assange] any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

Turnbull promised to deliver the letter, follow it through and let me know. I subsequently wrote to him several times, waited and heard nothing.

In 2018, John Shipton wrote a deeply moving letter to the then prime minister of Australia asking him to exercise the diplomatic power at his government’s disposal and bring Julian home. He wrote that he feared that if Julian was not rescued, there would be a tragedy and his son would die in prison. He received no reply. The prime minister was Malcolm Turnbull.

Last year, when the current prime minister, Scott Morrison, a former public relations man, was asked about Assange, he replied in his customary way, “He should face the music!”

When Saturday’s march reaches the Houses of Parliament, said to be “the Mother of Parliaments”, Morrison and Gillard and Turnbull and all those who have betrayed Julian Assange should be called out; history and decency will not forget them or those who remain silent now.

And if there is any sense of justice left in the land of Magna Carta, the travesty that is the case against this heroic Australian must be thrown out. Or beware, all of us.

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Mayor Mike, Worse Than Mayor Pete


Photograph Source: Gage Skidmore – CC BY 2.0

The good news out of New Hampshire was, of course, that Bernie Sanders won – not by much, but by enough to leave no doubt as to who the winner was. There was more good news as well: Joe Biden, the former king of the moderates, is on his way to becoming toast.

The bad news is that the campaign of the only candidate besides Bernie worth taking seriously, Elizabeth Warren, is now on life support. Worse still, Pete Buttigieg’s candidacy shows no signs of tanking.

If there must be moderates nipping at Sanders’ heels, better Amy Klobushar than Mayor Pete. Her politics may even be worse than his, but she has more experience, more gravitas, more of the common touch, and, best of all, she is a she.

Hard as they are to stomach, it is probably a good thing that moderates are still in the running and also that they are divided among themselves. As long as one or another of them could still take over the role formerly played by Biden, and as long as it remains unclear which one it will be, the worse Mike Bloomberg’s prospects become. Better division than unity in the moderate camp, and, of the moderates still in contention, better any of them than he.

Their politics is mainstream Democratic; Bloomberg is essentially an old school Republican.

He hates Trump, the worst American president ever, but he loved George W. Bush, the second worst president in modern times. He may honestly think that black and brown lives matter, but, as mayor of New York City, he showed, time and again, that, for him gentrification – and its concomitants, mass incarceration of young black and Latino men, and brutal “law and order” policing — matter more.

Were he to become the Democratic nominee, it would be bad for democracy and bad for the Democratic Party; and unless his politics has lately taken a hundred and eighty degree turn, bad for the poor, bad for African Americans, and bad for less well-off persons of color generally.

All that is on him. That his candidacy would also be bad for Jews is mainly on Trump.

Remarkably, and to their shame, alarmingly many African Americans now seem to be jumping off the Biden bandwagon and onto Bloomberg’s. The word, from the commentariat, is that they think that they have no choice, if they want the Democrats to nominate someone whom they can count on to send Trump packing.

They are dead wrong, of course; anybody this side of Hillary Clinton, running on the Democratic line, could do that as well. But just to be sure, mainstream media, eager to stop Bernie’s rise, and functioning for all intents and purposes as the DNC’s propaganda arm, are now falling all over themselves, making excuses for the racism inherent in what Bloomberg has said and done in the past.

The stain left by “stop and frisk” will not go away, no matter how vehemently Bloomberg opportunistically apologizes; and there is so much more than that. And yet, many African Americans, especially ones who are getting long in the tooth, seem willing to give him a pass. But this cannot last as the spotlight turns Bloomberg’s way. With his birthday just past, we can take comfort in the fact that, as our greatest president famously put it: “you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

In addition to all the reasons to oppose Bloomberg that he has brought upon himself, there is another reason for which he cannot be blamed, but that ought to be factored in nevertheless.

Through no fault of his own, a Bloomberg candidacy would likely exacerbate the rising tide of anti-Semitism that Trump’s presidency has conjured back into being. Bloomberg can hardly be blamed for this, but it is yet another reason why it would be well to quash his candidacy.

His billions could do a lot of good if used to purchase anti-Trump ads on television and elsewhere in support of Sanders or Warren or of no one in particular, or if used to fund down-ticket national and state races.

However, if used to promote his own presidential ambitions, they would do no good at all – not least because of all the moderates still in the running, he is the worst, the most pre-Trump Republican-lite, in the bunch.

In this electoral season, with an aroused public demanding change, the very idea of a Bloomberg candidacy would be a total and complete non-starter but for one reason alone: that, for all practical purposes, his campaign has no budget constraint.

The sad fact is that, in the Land of the Free, money, if there is enough of it, can turn a non-starter into a front-runner in the wink of a news cycle. There is no need, however, to despair; at least, not yet. If progressives mobilize against him, he can be stopped


To hear their media toadies tell it, “moderates” and “progressives” are essentially on the same page; the moderates, however, are wiser – more practical, more “pragmatic,” more aware of the myriad ways that public opinion and financial realities constrain political possibilities. Progressives, on the other hand, are pie-in-the-sky dreamers.

Some commentators, Paul Krugman is an example, conclude from this that it hardly matters whether a progressive or a moderate runs against Trump, because, even with a Democratic House and Senate, those constraints will still be in place – thanks partly to the “realities” moderates invoke, and partly thanks to the continuing predominance, even if the next election goes as well as it possibly could, of Democratic House members and Senators who are confirmed stalwarts of moderation.

It would be less civil but more accurate to say that a lot of the Democrats on Capitol Hill are bought and paid for, and that there are therefore limits to how far their venality will allow them to stray from the mainstream fold.

One might also mention the deleterious effects on public opinion of the current surfeit of drivel about the virtues of “bipartisanship.” Republicans are a lost cause, but that doesn’t stop Democrats, especially the more moderate ones, from pulling their already feeble punches, the better to facilitate “working across the aisle.”

Sometimes, as they go on about this, I cannot help but think of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1568 masterpiece “The Blind Leading the Blind.” Nowadays, it is the Right, the GOP, leading the Right or, as they call it on NPR, MSNBC and CNN, the Center Left.

The one is for Trump, the other for the conditions that made Trump and Trumpism inevitable. The former is the greater evil, of course, but the other side is evil too. The “pragmatism” they promote is a snare and a delusion. They may be all for sweetness and light. But the last thing they want is to set a new course; one that would make the Democratic Party something other than the perennial lesser evil it has been for roughly the past hundred years.

As a recovering academic philosopher, I feel compelled to take umbrage at the way mainstream Democrats praise the moderates’ “pragmatism.”

That currently abused and degraded word denotes a school of thought that was one of the glories of nineteenth and twentieth century American philosophy. From the likes of Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, George Herbert Meade, John Dewey, and later Willard Van Orman Quine and many other distinguished thinkers to – Hillary Clinton. Or to the moderates running for the Democratic nomination; Biden is the worst of the lot, but they are all bad news. When they and others like them are called “pragmatists,” I feel that the earth should shake with convulsions.

But let that pass. In a political universe in which House and Senate Republicans, and Trump himself and his base and servile cronies, are called “conservatives,” this is only par for the course.

Many, maybe most, potential voters who revile Trump, and who desperately want to see him defeated in November, sincerely believe that moderation is the way to go. I think they are dead wrong; that they ignore pertinent evidence, including evidence arising out of the 2016 election, and that they fail to grasp the importance, in the election ahead, of voter turnout and therefore of voter enthusiasm.

Subjectively, as Marxists and others used to say, the motives of those who defend moderation for electability’s sake can be and often are laudable. Objectively, though, they are on the wrong side of the most consequential political – indeed, class — struggle immediately ahead.

Unlike their intra-party rivals, moderates defend the interests not of the several constituencies that Democrats mainly depend upon for votes, but of the Democratic and broader anti-Trump wing of the ruling class.

With the Sanders campaign flourishing and growing bigger day by day, Democratic Party donors and political elites, along with the media that serve them, are becoming desperate. The fact that they are still unable to settle on who their Great Moderate Hope will be adds to their distress.

Witness how after just a few bad days – a botched Iowa caucus, Trump’s inevitable Senate acquittal, and poll results that suggest that the more transparently odious Trump is, the more popular he becomes — it is front page news in The New York Times and Washington Post that Trump is on a roll, and that there will be no stopping him unless and until a moderate savior emerges from the fray.

It is not clear why the other billionaire in the race, Tom Steyer, isn’t, by now, the Chosen One. Inasmuch as our “democratic” elections are basically sales campaigns, and inasmuch as good sales campaigns take money, lots of it, to run, one would expect people to be talking about him in the same way that so many now are talking about Bloomberg. And yet his campaign has yet to gain any significant traction at all.

Could it be because his express views are too liberal to relieve the anxiety of the Democratic Party establishment and its “donor class?”

Bloomberg could buy and sell a garden variety billionaire like Steyer ten times over. Could that be why, if the pieces fall into place in just the right way, he could end up his party’s nominee while, come what may, Steyer doesn’t seem to have a chance?

This seems unlikely, but in the Trump era, so does nearly everything else.

A more pressing question is how did it come to this – how is a Bloomberg versus Trump election, a contest in which a mega-billionaire and whatever Trump is, vie for control over the Imperium, be anything more than a theoretical possibility in a functioning democracy, much less a self-proclaimed “City on a Hill?”

Even if Vladimir Putin’s attacks on our purportedly democratic institutions are as far-reaching as Cold War revivalists contend – or, rather, since there is no evidence of anything of significance actually having happened in 2016 or subsequently, worse than anything they insinuate – he could hardly do worse than our own plutocrats have already done and are continuing to do.

A Bloomberg candidacy would, in effect, proclaim to the world that democracy in America is finished; that, “we, the people” have lost out entirely to the Almighty Dollar.

We are not there yet, however. If all goes well, we never will be. To that end, the time to squelch Bloomberg’s efforts to buy his way in was yesterday; but today will have to do.

Bloomberg has more money than God, but he comes with a lot more baggage than Klobuchar or Buttigieg or any of the others. It isn’t just “stop and frisk”; thanks to some reporting by the Intercept, it even seems that he could even be called to account for what undid Plagiarism Joe’s run for the White House in 1988. What a lovely irony that would be!


Trump starts nothing, but he does make everything worse; sometimes much worse.

Also, “the darker angels of our nature” are always there. Prosperity, decent governance, and sound liberal institutions are generally enough to keep them at bay or, better yet, to cause them to lie dormant for long periods of time. But vigilance is necessary, even when times are good, because shocks to the system can and sometimes will draw them out.

The Great Recession was experienced as a severe shock by many, the most vulnerable among us taking the severest hits. Its cause, ultimately, was what Marx called “the laws of motion of capitalist society.” Three decades of neoliberal economic policies were a more immediate and more easily avoidable cause.

The Clintons, both of them, have much to answer for in that regard. Their support for liberal imperialist foreign policy initiatives helped roust the darker angels as well.

For her overall cluelessness and ineptitude, her role in the Obama administration’s continuing implementation of the Bush-Cheney Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, her regime change machinations in Libya, and her botched reactions to the Arab Spring in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere, Hillary is especially culpable.

Western support for politicized religious fanaticism in the Muslim world didn’t start with the Clintons. Blame Zbigniew Brzezinski for that, and Jimmy Carter for not reining him in. But the Clintons were not beyond adding their own two cents.

These were all factors of great importance for getting the refugee crisis in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa going. Hillary was less responsible for the refugee crisis along our southern border, but her support for the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, one of her first nefarious machinations as Secretary of State, didn’t help.

Refugee crises generate humanitarian crises – typically, of monumental proportions. They are also politically destabilizing. These latest examples have made xenophobic nationalism and rightwing populism a blot across the political landscape of the entire planet.

For this, of the two major candidates contending for the presidency in 2016, Clinton was by far the more culpable. It was she, not Trump himself, who made the onset of Trumpism in America and of similar phenomena in Europe and elsewhere all but inevitable.

This is why it would be ridiculously foolish for Democrats to nominate a Clintonite – a neoliberal, liberal imperialist, “moderate” – again.

Thanks to Trump’s increasingly manifest odiousness, even a moderate should be able to send him packing in November. But then insofar as she or he will go on to recreate the conditions that caused Trumpism to afflict us in the first place, we will only have bought time. The point is not just to defeat Trump, important as that surely is; it is also to vanquish Trumpism as definitively as can be, by setting the country on a different and better path.


Of all the demons that crawled out from under the rocks Trump overturned, anti-Semitism had been perhaps the most profoundly dormant. It remained a problem in central and eastern Europe, but in the United States and other Western countries, it had long been little more than a historical memory.

Then came Trump. He may not be good for much, but his foul embrace awakens the dead.

Under his aegis, suddenly, “Jews will not replace us” became a slogan some of “the good people on both sides” would rally around, hate crimes directed at Jews multiplied, and, in Pittsburgh, eleven people were killed and six more wounded at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill. In the United States, nothing anywhere near that lethal had ever happened to Jews before.

Latinos, regardless of citizenship status, were at risk in Trump’s America, except perhaps for those with lots of money. So too were Muslims and black and brown people generally. Jews, however, seemed as safe as the he whitest of the white.

Ironically, there was, or seemed to be, protection in the transparently spurious notion that Zionists have spent decades promoting — that opposition to the Zionist project and even to some of the egregious injustices Israel imposes on Palestinians, and to all but the most trivial misdeeds of Israeli governments, is anti-Semitic. Ironically, “Anti-Semitism,” still has a bad press in Western countries, even in anti-Semitic circles.

By “the Zionist project,” I mean the effort to establish a Jewish state – Benjamin Netanyahu calls it “the nation state of the Jewish people” — in all or most of mandate Palestine. A Jewish state could be secular or religious, but only Jews can enjoy full citizenship rights in it. For historical and political reasons, the situation is complicated and not always clear, but, in the end, “Jew,” in this context, has more of an ethnic than a theological connotation.

It is generally and rightly agreed that nations and ethnic groups are what Benedict Anderson called “imagined communities.” Because the Jews Zionists had in mind did not share a common land or language or culture, and because claims of common descent are, at best, tendentiously exaggerated – because the main or perhaps the only factor that joins the Jews of the world together is an historical connection to the Jewish religion — Jewish nationality or ethnicity is a good deal more imagined than most.

For a variety of historical and theological reasons, practitioners of the Jewish religion have occupied subaltern positions in both the Christian and Muslim worlds for as long as Christianity and Islam have been present on the world stage. For most of that period, roughly from the fifth and sixth centuries up to the time when the first secular, liberal societies arose in Western Europe and North America, Jews generally fared far better in the Muslim world than in Christendom.

Nevertheless, it was in modern secular Europe that anti-Semitism, hatred of “ethnic” Jews as such, as opposed to theologically driven anti-Judaism, emerged.

For more than half a century after the historic defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, it seemed that true anti-Semitism — as distinct from anti-Zionism, which, for obvious reasons, continued to appeal to subaltern Muslim populations around the world — had burned itself out. This was nowhere more true than in the United States.

Even Trump, it seemed, would not and probably could not undo that. That notions was more than just an idle hope; there were good reasons to think that Jews would remain immune from the afflictions Trump visited upon Muslims, Hispanics, and others.

For one, the hard-Right loves Israel precisely for its ethnocentrism, and because, for many years but especially after 9/11, Islamophobia had come to fill the role that anti-Semitism once played in their thinking.

Inasmuch as the neo-fascists of the twenty-first century are as inclined as mainstream Democrats – and their counterparts in the UK, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand — to buy into the pernicious and obviously false idea that anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism, the hard Right’s Zionism functioned as a shield against the true anti-Semitism that had, for so long, been emblematic of rightwing politics in Europe and the Americas.

Christian Evangelicals comprise a very large segment of the Trump base, and they love Israel too; they think that its existence fulfills Biblical prophecies and that its role in the End Times is indispensable. Israel, in their view, is where world Jewry will be in-gathered before the Second Coming, when Jews will either accept Christ or be consigned to suffer the torments of Hell for all eternity.

It would be hard to deny that there is more than a whiff of real anti-Semitism in their madness. It is also hard to deny that it puts evangelicals and Hard Right anti-anti-Semites in the same camp.

And then, of course, there are the Jewish Zionist plutocrats, the Trump and Kushner families’ friends and soulmates, whose money Trump loves most of all.

None of these shields have been quite enough to rein in the demons Trump let loose. And so, real anti-Semitism has once again become a factor in American life.

As the likelihood of a Sanders victory in the contest to become the Democratic Party’s nominee, and the far greater likelihood, if he is the nominee, that he will send Trump packing, becomes increasingly clear to the Democratic Party’s grandees, donors, and media hacks, the anti-Sanders onslaught that is already underway will likely grow to monstrous proportions. The knives are even now being drawn.

Expect too to see a homegrown version of the anti-Corbyn smear campaign that defiled the last UK election, even though Sanders’ liberal Zionist views on Israel-Palestine are hardly as far-reaching or principled as Corbyn’s anti-imperialist take on this and all other comparably vexed situations.

It will be spearheaded by the mainstream Democratic Party and their media flunkies, even though Sanders’ views on Israel-Palestine and Corbyn’s hardly compare. Sanders is a liberal Zionist with a strong sense of justice, not an anti-imperialist. But this is about as good as it gets in American politics at the national level, and it is more than enough to rattle the cages of AIPAC and other core institutions of the Israel lobby. Aided and abetted by rightwing (“centrist”) Democrats, expect them to go after Bernie with all they’ve got.

Thus, he will be the target of a Pincer movement, besieged from both sides – by anti-Semites and pro-Zionists alike.

Zionist stalwarts will attack him for speaking out for justice for Palestinians, not just for Israeli Jews, calling Sanders a self-hating Jew, and his non-Jewish supporters “anti-Semites,” even as real anti-Semites, will crawl out into the open, spreading vileness wherever they go.

That vileness will multiply many times over, as the yahoos in the Trump base come to realize that the alternative to Sanders is another Jew, one who is richer than Croesus and who really does want to take their guns away.

Mayor Pete may be a feckless twit, but at least he doesn’t set those demons off.

And to think – the line on Bloomberg is that, if Joe can’t do it, as he plainly cannot, and if Pete and Amy falter, as they likely will, then the world needs Mike to restore equanimity to the political scene. Really? Through no fault of his own, but inexorably even so, equanimity is the last thing Bloomberg would restore in a political universe defiled by Trump and his cronies and set adrift.

A month or so from now, the choice will be even clearer than it already is: Democrats can move forward with Sanders or, if the moderates can’t do better than Bloomberg, backwards to a place where no one in their right mind would want to be.

Posted in USAComments Off on Mayor Mike, Worse Than Mayor Pete

“Sublime Madness”: Anarchists, Psychiatric Survivors, Emma Goldman & Harriet Tubman


Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

When the state becomes chillingly evil—enacting a Fugitive Slave Act to criminalize those helping to free slaves, or financing prisons and wars for the benefit of sociopathic profiteers—and when dissent is impotent and defiance is required, we need the sublimely mad. For his 2013 piece “A Time for ‘Sublime Madness’” (and his 2015 book Wages of Rebellion), Chris Hedges invokes William Shakespeare, William Faulkner, James Baldwin, James Cone, Black Elk, and Crazy Horse. Hedges cites Reinhold Niebuhr, who explained why “a sublime madness in the soul” is essential when the forces of repression are so powerful that liberal intellectualism results in capitulation.

I am personally familiar with two different groups whose members instinctively grasp the power of madness to both destroy and create, and these two groups appear to me so similar that when I speak to one, I try to acquaint them with the other.

I recently addressed one of these groups at the 10th Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair on December 14, 2019, organized by Humboldt Grassroots in the Arcata/Eureka area of Northern California. What was striking to me was how similar these anarchists attendees were in temperament and values to another group that I have greater personal familiarity with—self-identified “psychiatric survivor” activists who I’ve gotten to know at conferences organized by the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, the National Empowerment Center, the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry, and MindFreedom.

Anarchists generally agree that externally imposed government and the state are illegitimate authorities; and psychiatric survivor activists generally agree that the externally imposed institution of psychiatry is an illegitimate authority. Both groups vehemently oppose coercion and hierarchy, and both passionately advocate for freedom of choice and mutual aid. Beyond these ideological agreements, my experience is that many members in each of these groups have not only achieved the sublime state of not giving a damn about convention and authorities but, at times, have acted on that sensibility.

Members of both groups have anger over oppression and injustices forced on them and their friends. Among the anarchist attendees at my last talk, some have been beaten by cops, interrogated by the FBI, and jailed. Among psychiatric survivors I’ve known, it is common to have had coerced “treatments” that include drugs, electroshock, and lengthy psychiatric hospitalizations forced on them against their wishes.

With both groups, I routinely talk about the anarchist Emma Goldman ((1869–1940), who lived a cinematic life that included international travel, public speaking fame, multiple imprisonments, and deportation; as she built an enviable resumé of enemies that included J. Edgar Hoover and Vladimir Lenin. At psychiatric survivor activist conferences, I routinely meet women who—though not self-identifying as anarchists—remind me of Goldman in terms of personality, grit, and intelligence; they, unlike Goldman, have been previously stigmatized with mental illness labels such as oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Given that Goldman, as a teenager and young woman, had the “symptoms” for all the above so-called “disorders,” anarchists and psychiatric survivors immediately recognize that in today’s world—rather than becoming the most famous anarchist woman in US history—she would likely have become a psychiatric patient (and then a survivor activist). Nowadays, many anti-authoritarian women, for their anger and rebellious behaviors—almost always far less violent than Emma’s—are labeled with various serious psychiatric disorders and heavily medicated. Similar to Goldman, their “symptoms” have often been fueled by the physical and emotional abuse of various authorities—experiences which taught them to distrust authorities.

Growing up in the Russian Empire, Emma’s father would regularly beat her and her siblings for disobeying him, and the rebellious Emma would get beaten the most. Emma’s interest in boys provoked rage in her father, and she recounted, “He pounded me with his fists, shouted that he would not tolerate a loose daughter,” but Emma disregarded him. School teachers also abused Emma. Her geography instructor sexually molested her, and Emma fought back and got him fired. A religious instructor beat the palms of students’ hands with a ruler; in response, Goldman recounted, “I used to organize schemes to annoy him: stick pins in his upholstered chair . . . anything I could think of to pay him back for the pain of this ruler. He knew I was the ringleader and he beat me the more for it.”

When Emma was 16, she desperately wanted to join her sister who had made plans to immigrate to the United States, but Emma’s father refused to allow her to do so. Emma threatened to throw herself into the Neva River and commit suicide—a ploy that today could well get a U.S. teenage girl not only a couple of the above diagnoses, but admission to a psychiatric hospital. Instead, her strategy worked.

Soon after arriving in the United States, Goldman became a passionate anarchist. As a young woman, Emma was not averse to violence. In her late teens, she threw a pitcher of water at the face of a woman who was happy with the 1887 execution of the Haymarket martyrs. In her early twenties in 1892, Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and his cousin planned an assassination of steel plant manager Henry Clay Frick during the steelworkers strike in Homestead, Pennsylvania. When Goldman’s anarchist mentor, Johann Most, condemned Berkman’s assassination attempt, Goldman used a horsewhip to publicly lash Most. In 1893, then 24, after a speech got her arrested for “inciting a riot,” the police offered to drop charges and pay her a “substantial sum of money” if she would become an informer, to which Goldman recounted, “I gulped down some ice-water from my glass and threw what was left into the detective’s face.”

While Goldman’s passionate radicalism never waned, her violent actions diminished and ultimately disappeared. Without any psychiatric “treatment” but rather through life experience, she gained wisdom that authoritarians relish violence to justify their authoritarianism.

A third group where one can find the sublimely mad is a group that I have had little personal familiarity with—the devoutly religious who have acquired fearlessness through a belief that they have God’s protection. There is no better example than Harriet Tubman (1822-1913) who, even more assuredly than Emma Goldman, would today be labeled with serious mental illness—at best, “organic psychosis” caused by temporal lobe epilepsy resulting from being struck in the head by a heavy object thrown by an overseer; or more likely, being an African American woman, “paranoid schizophrenia.”

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Tubman “seemed wholly devoid of personal fear,” was the observation of William Still, an African American abolitionist who chronicled the Underground Railroad. Tubman often spoke about “consulting with God” and had complete confidence that God would keep her safe. Abolitionist Thomas Garrett reported that he “never met with any person, of any color, who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul.”

In today’s world, what would happen to an African American woman who announced that she heard God’s voice, spoke to God, and believed that she was her era’s Moses? What would happen if she camped outside an office in New York City asking for donations (as Tubman did outside the NYC anti-slavery office)? What would happen if she packed a revolver, claiming she needed it for both protection against slave catchers as well as to threaten those who she was rescuing if they tried to turn back? Given such “symptoms,” in today’s world, instead of having to be ever vigilant for slave catchers, she would have to be ever vigilant for psychiatrists—most of whom are clueless to the reality that when we experience extreme oppression, visions and voices may well be our only antidotes to psychological powerlessness.

In “A Time for ‘Sublime Madness,’” Hedges reports:

Niebuhr wrote that “nothing but madness will do battle with malignant power and ‘spiritual wickedness in high places.’” This sublime madness, as Niebuhr understood, is dangerous, but it is vital. Without it, “truth is obscured.” And Niebuhr also knew that traditional liberalism was a useless force in moments of extremity. Liberalism, Niebuhr said, “lacks the spirit of enthusiasm, not to say fanaticism, which is so necessary to move the world out of its beaten tracks. It is too intellectual and too little emotional to be an efficient force in history.”

Tubman was a brilliant strategist, as her sublime madness was a powerful fuel that provided her with courage but which did not subvert her astute judgement about the consequences of her actions. However, madness can be dangerously debilitating. While anger over injustice can be a useful fuel, humiliations that create rage and ego trips can subvert judgment, fueling a violence that is welcomed by authoritarians as justification for greater authoritarianism. There are many examples in U.S. history of madness that is not sublime at all.

In 1969, a group later called the Weather Underground splintered off from the nonviolent Students for a Democratic Society. The 2002 film documentary The Weather Underground portrays how their rage over the injustice of the Vietnam War along with powerlessness in stopping the war through peaceful means made them “crazy,” as acknowledged later by a former Weather Underground member. Their madness was not at all sublime, as they resorted to violence, including multiple bombings. The rage-impotency combination acted like a disinhibiting drug enabling moral and strategic justifications for violent actions that, as some former Weather Underground members ultimately acknowledged, did not later seem moral or strategic at all. The greatest beneficiaries of the Weather Underground violence were U.S. authoritarians, particularly Richard Nixon, as it provided him with ammunition for his “law-and-order” presidential re-election campaign and aided his 1972 landslide victory.

We human beings have the capacity for denial and cowardice, and we also have the capacity for madness, both sublime and dangerous. If we are unashamed of the totality of our humanity, we can dialogue with the passionately mad. My experience is that when our madness is loved, we are better able to discern between sublime and dangerous madness.

To be clear, I don’t romanticize madness, but without sublime madness, there is no Harriet Tubman crazy enough to return some thirteen times to slave territory to free more slaves. Without sublime madness, we will accept the reality that capital trumps life, and we will go extinct.

Posted in USAComments Off on “Sublime Madness”: Anarchists, Psychiatric Survivors, Emma Goldman & Harriet Tubman

Roaming Charges: Leader of the Pack


Arctic Wolf. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+It’s amusing as hell to see Nate Silver forced to eat his numbers and grudgingly declare Bernie the frontrunner. But if you’re a Sandernista you have to wrestle with the fact that it’s February and Nate Silver, one of the few people on the planet who has been wrong about more things than Bill Kristol, just said your guy’s the frontrunner.

+ The former Supremo of Goldman Sachs was handling the prospect of a Sanders presidency very well. This just in from the person who made billions off of ruining the American economy and looting the homeless, wounded and dying.

+ Here’s the MSDNC crew “discussing” whether or not the Sanders movement resembles Nazi brownshirts. This is after Matthews screaming about how Fidel & Che would have executive people in Central Park…

29 U.S.C. § 157@OrganizingPower

This is disgusting. Chuck Todd just called Bernie supporters his “brown shirt brigade.” Bernie Sanders’ family members were murdered in the Holocaust. @chucktodd must apologize immediately. 13.3K10:28 PM – Feb 10, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy3,856 people are talking about this

+ Yet, according to a Washington Post exit poll: 6-in-10 New Hampshire Democratic primary voters support eliminating all private health insurance in favor of a single-payer plan for everyone. 57 percent agreed with that position in Iowa, too.

+ In 2016, Sanders crushed HRC in New Hampshire, winning 60.1% to Clinton’s 37.7%. In what may be warning sign for what’s to come, four years later the so-called progressive bloc was only able to muster 43% of the vote combined.

+ Percentage of the popular vote in New Hampshire…

Sanders + Warren + Gabbard + Steyer = 43%
PeteBot + Klobocop + Biden = 52%

I’m confounded about where to pin Yang’s three percent on the ideological spectrum. He’s essentially a technocrat, like PeteBot, with some quirky socialistic ideas, like the Universal Basic Income.

+ Despite the hoopla and hysterics, the primary turned out to be pretty much of a wash, except for Warren and Biden who spent millions and go to Nevada empty-handed. Delegates won in New Hampshire…

Sanders 9
PeteBot 9
Klobocop 6

+ I’ll leave it to hardcore Sandernistas to explain how beating PeteBot by 2% points is a more decisive victory than crushing HRC by 23% 4 years ago. I take solace in seeing just how deeply HRC was despised by those who knew her best–white NH liberals. Her loss to Trump was foretold in the Democratic primaries…

+ Has anyone spoken less inspirationally about how inspired he is than PeteBot?

+ Listening to Petebot is like hearing an Obama speech read by a beta version of Siri….

+ Joe Biden has never finished higher than 4th in any primary or caucus in 32 years of running for president.

+ The most Buttigieg thing of the day: “James Mueller ran for mayor to ‘Keep South Bend Moving Forward’; touted work of friend & boss, Pete Buttigieg. Was hand-picked successor. But endorse in presidential race? Not sure, Mueller says; wants fresh start, and ‘number of great candidates’ running…”

+ From Pete Seeger to PeteBot, the arc of the American left…

+ During Stop-and-Frisk’s peak in 2011, nearly 90 percent of those stopped were black and Latino, and nearly 90 percent were innocent, according to date from the ACLU of New York.

+ Stop and Frisk stats over the course of Mike Bloomberg’s 12 years as NYC mayor:

2002: 97,296
2003: 160,851
2004: 313,523
2005: 352,348
2006: 506,491
2007: 472,096
2008: 540,302
2009: 581,168
2010: 601,285
2011: 685,724
2012: 532,911
2013: 191,851

+ Watching Mayor Stop-and-Frisk be forced to interact with the angry plebes will be one of the true pleasures of this otherwise dreary campaign season…

+ Michael Bloomberg’s guide to success: “Make sure you’re the first one in there every day and the last one to leave. Don’t ever take a lunch break or go to the bathroom. You keep working.” And, kids, don’t forget to BYOC (Bring Your Own Catheter) to work!

+ Michael Bloomberg, the people’s mayor…the people who own Manhattan, that is: “Bloomberg wanted to fingerprint more than 600,000 NYC public housing residents to make them prove they really lived there.”

+ As recently as 2018, Bloomberg, who continues to oppose minimum wage laws, defended his policy of fingerprinting welfare and food stamp recipients. By 2012, New York City was one of only two places to fingerprint food-stamp applicants.

+ Bloomberg says he doesn’t regret backing Iraq war: “I think the people that made the mistake did it honestly.” Just an honest mistake, that they keep making over and over again….Bloomberg/Rumsfeld 2020!

+ MSDNC’s Joy Reid making the case for Bloomberg: “If you wanna beat a Republican you have to know how to fight like a Republican. And he IS a Republican.”

+ The late, great Wayne Barrett, who exposed Trump as a malignant fraud, gave the same merciless dissection of Bloomberg in this piece in The Village Voice, published a few weeks before he became mayor of NYC…

+ How the game is played…In 2018, Bloomberg donated $5 million to Stacy Abrams’ non-profit group, Fair Fight, in Atlanta. Abrams, who has openly marketed herself as a vice-presidential candidate, returned the favor by inviting Bloomberg to address her largely black organization, another whistlestop in his campaign to whitewash his appalling civil rights record as mayor o NYC.

+ Still, Bloomberg doesn’t have many buyers for what he’s selling…yet.

National Democratic Primary, Head-to-Head:
Sanders 53% (+15)
Bloomberg 38%
Warren 52% (+14)
Bloomberg 38%

Biden 47% (+13)
Bloomberg 34%
Buttigieg 44% (+7)
Bloomberg 37%
Klobuchar 43% (+5)
Bloomberg 38%

Economist/YouGov poll.

+ I wish I could have gotten away this in High School algebra and calculus classes…“The incorrect math on the Caucus Math Worksheets must not be changed to ensure the integrity of the process,” wrote the Iowa Democratic Party’s lawyer, Shayla McCormally, to its central committee members. McCormally said correcting the math would introduce “personal opinion” into the official record of results.

+ South Carolina Democratic Joe Cunningham warned Bernie Sanders to stay out of his state, saying “South Carolina doesn’t want socialism!” Maybe Sanders can “reframe” his message in SC to “Socialism … If You Want It” and see how many takers there are. Quite a few more than Rep. Cunningham (D) suspects, I’d wager.

+ Klobocop: “We must have Order at the Border!”

Walker Bragman@WalkerBragman

Here’s Amy Klobuchar in 2006 talking taking a hardline stance on immigration, supporting a border fence and even criticizing the Bush administration for not cracking down on companies hiring illegal immigrants.

“We need to get order at the border.”18.7K6:55 AM – Feb 12, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy11.1K people are talking about this

+ In 1964, the Democrats got 61.1 percent of the presidential popular vote. In ’68, its support fell to 42.7 percent. By ’72, the Democratic vote shrank to a mere 37.5 percent. What drove the collapse? The war, the assassinations, Nixon’s Southern Strategy & the DNC’s sabotage of the McGovern campaign. Are we about to see history repeat itself, again?

+ Arun Gupta: “An organizer for a large union told me recently they asked their manager why they union didn’t support M4A, and the manager said, ‘What else could we offer the workers?’ Most unions see no role beyond being a health insurance provider.”

+ In 2016, Rep. Chris Stewart, the Republican from Utah, compared Trump to Mussolini. Now he wants a gig with the secret police

+ It’s pretty clear after the unceremonious ouster of Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother from the White House that the only “men in uniform” Trump has any respect for are the ones who dress up on Saturday mornings to re-enact the Second Battle of Manassas…

+ There are few real heroes in Congress. Betty McCollum, who just put out a statement that refers to AIPAC as a “hate group,” is one of them. Her comments come just days after AIPAC pulled ads that targeted pro-Palestine lawmakers and implied they were worse than the terrorist group ISIS.

+ Some countries not only meddle in US domestic politics but are openly celebrated for doing so…

+ US Air Force suicides rose to their highest level in 30 years in 2019…a grim consequence of three decades of wars that start but don’t end.

+ US is the supplier for 79% of the world’s weapons trade, 4 times more than the next 9 countries combined…

+ Lou Dobbs should host SNL…

Andrew Lawrence@ndrew_lawrence

Lou Dobbs attacks Bill Barr, suggests he’s part of the “deep state,” calls the Justice Department “rancid, corrupt”4,72112:21 AM – Feb 14, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy5,019 people are talking about this

+ If Trump is our comic book version of Tiberius, decreeing that all future government buildings will be constructed in the classic imperial style, that must make Bill Barr his Sejanus, the praetorian guard who led the reprisals in Rome against the Emperor’s rivals and critics, including the Roman historian, Cremutius Cordus, who was forced to watch all of his books burned in the forum before he killed himself. But soon Tiberius, isolated and gripped by paranoia in his version of Trump Tower (the Villa Jovis up on the high cliffs of Capri), came for his hatchet man as well. Sejanus was grabbed off the street by his own cadre of secret police, garroted and his body tossed down the Gemonian Steps, where it was kicked, stoned and mutilated by the families of his many victims over the next three days.

+ Tukkker Carlson’s lynch mob saddles up to intimidate and harass the foreperson of the Roger Stone jury…

+ Our latest Medal of Freedom winner is back at work, ridiculing Mayor Pete: “Gay guy, 37 years old, loves kissing his husband on debate stages. Can you see Trump have fun with that?..they’re saying, OK, how’s this going to look, 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to Mr. Man Donald Trump?”

+ From Public Citizen’s analysis of Trump’s budget cuts

Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security: $1,000,000,000,000+

SNAP: $182,000,000,000

K-12 education: $85,000,000,000

Section 8 rental assistance: $79,000,000,000

NIH funding: $77,000,000,000

26% cut to EPA

Eliminates HUD affordable housing program

$ 1.4  trillion in new tax cuts

+ Why payday usury outlets are one of the US’s only growth industries…One in three Americans run out of money before their next paycheck, including people who make more than $100,000 per year.

+ US households more indebted than ever (over $14 trillion).

+ Job openings are down by more than 1 million from last December…

+ A county in Kansas is jailing over unpaid medical debt:  “You wouldn’t think you’d go to jail over medical bills”.

+ Bong Joon Ho pretty much sums up our predicament…

+ Bloomberg (Net worth $60 billion): “No program to reduce the deficit makes any sense whatsoever unless you address the issue of entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest payment on the debt…and defense spending. Everything else is tiny compared to that.”

+ His campaign hired promoters of the Frye Festival scam to make memes for his campaign. Bloomberg appears to think we’re a nation of suckers. Is he wrong?

+ PeteBot, deficit hawk: “The time has come for my party to get a lot more comfortable owning this issue… It’s not fashionable in progressive circles to talk too much about the debt.”

+ Trump used his State of the Union to award a scholarship to black 4th grader  to get out of a “failing government school”. But it turns out she wasn’t in one

+ Biden: “You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.” The most revealing part of this episode is that Biden not only watches John Wayne movies but knows them well enough that he can misquote (or even make up) slurs from them…

Steve Guest@SteveGuest

Joe Biden to New Hampshire voter asking about why he lost in Iowa “you’re a lying dog-faced pony solider” 4,9726:49 PM – Feb 9, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy3,888 people are talking about this

+ The slur, which Biden has invoked several times on the campaign trail, seems to be a misquote from a Tyrone Power movie called “Pony Soldier“…

+ Wally Shawn: “If we look at reality for more than an instant, if we look at the human beings passing us on the street, it’s not bearable. It’s not bearable to watch while the talents and the abilities of infants and children are crushed and destroyed.”

+ The police chief in Egypt, Arkansas forged his high school diploma and training certificate, then arrested the man who expose the fraud, charging him with “harassment.” The chief resigned, but the prosecutor who pushed the bogus charges remains on the job.

+ Trump wants summary executions for drug dealers: “Countries with a powerful death penalty, with a fair but quick trial, they have very little if any drug problem. That includes China.”

+ The New York Times reported this week that one-percenters are now paying people to “style” their houseplants. For some reason, stories like this really bring out the inner Robespierre in me and I have to spend the next half-hour whacking the heads off of broccoli with the chefs knife before I’m calm enough to get back to the keyboard…

+ How bad will the Covid-19 outbreak get? A leading epidemiologist has claimed it could infect 60% of the world’s population. It seems to be more contagious than 2009 swine flu, which it is estimated infected 24% of the world’s population.

+ On February 10, the Mauna Loa observatory detected the highest level of atmospheric carbon dioxide ever recorded…

+ Texas is No. 1…in billion-dollar climate and weather disasters since 1980.

+ Eve Ottenberg: “This week a Malta-sized iceberg broke off Antarctica and floated away; temperatures there hit 65 degrees. Australia burned for months. The oceans have absorbed anthropogenic warming equivalent to the heat from over 3.6 billion Hiroshima-sized bombs. We humans better fix this.”

+ In a leaked audio from a meeting held by Robert Rice, a former consultant for the Dakota Access Pipeline security company TigerSwan, he suggests locals start an org called Moms Against Violent Activists.

Who could fund it?

“Cough – oil – cough,” Rice replies.

+ Here’s film of DHS contractors blasting holes into sacred land, near an Apache burial site, on Monument Hill in Organ Pipe National Monument. Where’s Earth First! when you need them?

Russ McSpadden@PeccaryNotPig

Footage of @DHSgov contractors blast hole drilling into Monument Hill to pack explosives. This is a sacred site to multiple tribes and is a Native American burial site in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. How is blasting cultural sites not a crime?4485:40 PM – Feb 12, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy453 people are talking about this

+ They’re our ancestors,” said Ned Norris Jr., tribal chair of the Tohono O’odham Nation. “They’re our remnants of who we are as a people, throughout this whole area. And it’s our obligation, it’s our duty to do what is necessary to protect that.”

+ Trump wants to create a “uranium reserve,” where the feds would spend $150 million a year for the next 10 years to buy “domestically” mined uranium, most of it from Utah, where they still haven’t “cleaned up” the uranium tailings pile outside of Moab left behind from the last “uranium boom.” The cost of the cleanup for Moab alone:  a cool (or I guess HOT) billion dollars.

+ Meanwhile, Trump is drastically slashing funding for the cleanup of the world’s most toxic site, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation…

+ The temperature in Antarctica rose above 20C (68F) for first time on record this week. The Brazilian scientists, who registered the new high of 20.75C on Seymour Island, describe warming as “incredible and abnormal”.

+ s climate change makes cities warmer, low-income neighborhoods of color can be up to 13°F hotter than their wealthier, whiter counterparts.

Car-devouring rats are doing more to fight climate change than the past four presidential administrations and the World Wildlife Fund combined…

+ An attorney for a BLM whistleblower in Nevada says, “the laws of the United States are being disregarded for the professional expediency of his superiors and the benefit of private parties, and that a culture of lawlessness has been engendered.”

+ In Texas, it’s now illegal to photograph cattle feedlots from a drone.

+ Now the “green consumer” icons are talking about sustainable “harvesting” of gold and diamonds. How long will it take for them to grow back, Jane?

+ Maybe they harvest it from the teeth of the dead (vegans only). There’s always a fresh supply…

+ In Bismarck, ND, oil & gas workers threatened to vandalize a local bakery if landlord went ahead with plans for a Greta Thunberg mural on the buillding.

+ A few years ago Ralph Nader wrote a utopian novel titled Only the Super Rich Can Save Us. With the prospect of two racist, sexually harassing billionaires from NYC facing off for the presidency, I hope Ralph is furiously writing a dystopian sequel.

+ My friend Nicky Smith, who writes about film for Splice, has found that Fassbinder’s incredible 1978 film In a Year of 13 Moons is now up on Youtube, though who knows for how long. You should stop what you’re doing and watch it before the censors strip it off. As someone who’d rush around DC and NYC watching 2 or 3 films a day on Fri, Sat & Suns in the late 70s, I gradually lost interest in “cinema” after Fassbinder died. Few films (or film-makers) have seemed as fresh, as provoking, as confounding, as feverish, as alive, as relevant since….

+ I know it’s uncouth to say so, but is any filmmaker more emblematic of the infantilization of high-brow American culture than Wes Anderson, the man who drained all of the toxic sting from Stefan Zweig and replaced it with a depoliticized dollhouse of twee jokes & personal fetishes?

+ Watching the excellent Netflix documentary Who Killed Malcolm X, I was struck by this statement by Malcolm about Elijah Muhammad and it elicited certain resonances with the current predicament of our nation in the hands of a man, who at the time Malcolm spoke these words was living not all that far away from him in Queens: “It [the Nation] has gotten into the possession of a man who’s become senile in his old age and perhaps doesn’t realize it. And then he has surrounded himself by his children, who are now in power and want nothing but luxury and will do anything to safeguard their own interests.”

+ As the Malcolm X documentary demonstrates once again, William Kunstler was the real “Perry Mason” of the American defense bar. How many “liberal” defense lawyers would have had the guts to represent one of the admitted conspirators in the assassination of Malcom X and in doing so discover the innocence of two wrongfully convicted men, the identity of the other killers and the complicity of the NYPD and FBI?

+ How convenient for Cory Booker that he ended his sputtering presidential bid before it was revealed that he knew the probable assassin of Malcolm X and featured him in a TV ad for his re-election campaign as mayor of Newark…

+ Here’s the image of Malcolm X’s probable assassin, William Bradley, shaking hands with a cop in a Cory Booker reelection campaign ad, where Booker brags about how he added 300 police to the streets of Newark…

Still from Who Killed Malcolm X? (Netflix)

+ Jimmy Cobb is one of the greatest drummers who ever lived. He kept the time on one of the greatest recordings ever made, Kind of Blue, for which he was paid a total of $66. Now he has to crowdsource his medical expenses…American shame.

+ I had blast on Monday night at the Doug Fir lounge on Portland’s newly swankified near eastside watching our friends in Luna play their trenchant album Penthouse (the “Deluxe” version, including a killer cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s Bonnie and Clyde). Here are a few pix of Dean, Sean, Britta and Lee at work and play…

+ Was James Brown murdered?

+ Trump koan of the week: “A lot of people think that it [coronavirus] goes away in April with the heat. As the heat comes in. Typically that will go away in April. We’re in great shape, though.”

Working All Day and the Sun Don’t Shine…

Booked Up
What I’m reading to this week…

Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction
David Enrich
(Custom House)

Why You Should be a Socialist
Nathan J. Robinson
(All Points Books)

Erosion: Essays of Undoing
Terry Tempest Williams
(Sarah Crichton Books)

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Texas Sun
Leon Bridges & Khruangbin
(Dead Oceans)

We’re New Again: a Reimagining
Makaya McCraven / Gil Scott-Heron

Never Not Together
Nada Surf

Of Butchers and Grocers

“There may be a logical or historical reason why mid-Victorian English butchers should have been predominantly Conservative (a link with agriculture?) and grocers overwhelmingly Liberal (a link with overseas trade?), but none has been established, and perhaps what needs explaining is not this, but why these two omnipresent types of shopkeeper refused to share the same opinions, whatever they were.” (Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital)

Posted in USAComments Off on Roaming Charges: Leader of the Pack

The Doomsday Cuckoo Clock


Photograph Source: Robin Davies – CC BY 2.0

Even when he’s losing, Donald Trump wins (and bigly!) every time. His secret? He knows how to tap into our nihilism with the same technique he used to milk investors of his real estate schemes. If greed is the stated ideology of capitalism, then nihilism is its less overt philosophical underpinning. A system of mass murder will eventually turn its blood lust inward, having expended itself in the endless pursuit of prey. Unlike his more technocratic cohorts across the aisle, Trump has the charisma to turn a collective death wish into a raucous, bloody spectator sport. No gradual march off the proverbial cliff, but a gleeful nosedive into the abyss. His high rise mausoleums across a mostly submerged Manhattan skyline will someday stand testament to yet another victory.

The dream that a slain civil rights leader had in 1963 was supplanted in 2001 by the radical vision of his assassins. Inequality and unchecked state power are its underlying doctrine, and privatization the means of transitioning from a nation state into a “borderless” National Security apparatus. The undead architects of the national nightmare wasted no time dismantling the institutional frameworks of Dr King’s legacy, replacing them with a televised spectacle. Donald Trump rose from the ashes of the World Trade Center like a Macy’s parade balloon, an airborne disease headed for the White House, guided by the same forces that launch Republican airstrikes and Democrat drones. It’s there he serves as an exalted ribbon cutter at the epicenter of a nation-wide Ground Zero.

Today, he functions as the explosive device that our overlords implanted into the electoral system to ensure the destruction of its last remaining democratic relics. For proof, look no further than Bernie Sanders at the Iowa Caucus. Once again, deliberate fiasco as a well-honed political tool wielded by the popular candidate’s own party to secure defeat in November. This deliberate strategy of failure is a win/win for future DNC fundraising efforts. Why cure cancer when you can rake in the cash by pretending that you are trying to eradicate it? Why bother, in fact, adhere to any democratic principals when you can gerrymander an outcome with a calculator that does the alternative math?

We grow to accept these assaults on our reasoning, eventually normalizing all the atrocities of the ruling class. We justify them, often cynically, as the price we have to pay for gas. No use pondering those “charred Panda bears in Austria” while you are filling up the tank. Now that reasoning has been supplanted by “intelligence” and knowledge replaced with information, our time here on earth is done. The Slumlord-in-Chief has served us all an eviction notice to make way for a retail/prison/casino complex, manned by automatons equipped with surveillance cameras seeking out faces in a void, and recording devices picking up only static.

Trump is the last human stand against continuing life on the planet. What he can’t singlehandedly rubbish and burn with the sheer force of his Trumpness, the autonomous systems in place to print money and wage endless war will ensure its eventual destruction. Capitalism makes it impossible to imagine an alternative to a kleptocracy on autopilot. Our neoliberal overlords have seen to that by installing us into their networks and making us all data providers for its expanding matrix.

There is no Trump, only Trumpness; a dense, sulfurous fog that hangs over the earth and eats at our sanity like it was a bowl of pretzels to snack on during Super Bowl. He is capitalism as it gnaws at its own flesh, having devoured everything external to it. His tweets are the cuckoo sounds of the Doomsday clock striking midnight at every hour. Trumpness itself is the unmentionable gas released from the corpse of Empire. Its colored contours no longer a map but a blinking grid that traces a transnational supply route through melted ice caps encircled by war ships. The world is his plague ground.

Freedom, he understands, is being unshackled from life itself. It takes a scorched earth policy at home to maintain his own pristine Astroturf lawns and golf courses around the world. What bombs can’t obliterate, the weather can. He is the match lit under it, ignited by the arsonists tools of the bipartisan establishment that launched him into the White House.

With the sheer force of his Trumpness, he raises global temperatures and sea levels, rallies Wall Street and hurricanes with the same oafish glee that he conducts a Super Bowl national anthem. He maintains the chaos necessary for new markets to emerge from the ashes and rubble of soon-to-be-buried continents.

This is his swamp, and these are his people, the buried millions beneath a morass of debt, addiction and the sort of despair that unleashes Armageddon while keeping the pitchforks aimed squarely at themselves. His acolytes see their own doom as deliverance outside the fixed parameters of a predatory state, and into a rapturous realm fortified against it with a physical wall, separating themselves from others like them. This enclosure fence isn’t high enough yet to contain their rage, but ‘smart’ enough to electronically harvest it.

Meanwhile, his ‘real’ people are raising their champagne flutes at their annual gathering of inter-terrestrial replicants known colloquially as the National Prayer Breakfast. Here they praise the infernal engines of growth and capital, exhorting the now exhausted Beast Machine to continue belching out its blessings to the class that created it in their own image.

Elites on the other side of the aisle seek refuge within the State apparatus that serves and protects their class against internal threats to its own survival, upholding these spook agencies and military brass as protective barriers against Trump and the fungal spread of Trumpness into their yachts and vineyards. They conspire in their wine caves – not against Trump but against the only candidate in their own party who can unseat him. With the same bug-ridden app they used to plug a failed Venezuelan coup leader into their “backyard” power grid, they reverse the process to disconnect the Sanders’ campaign from the DNC, and impose a nation wide blackout on its media coverage.

Trump has sown the seeds of our own self-destruction whether we vote for him or don’t vote for him. For the first time in his life, his business is succeeding – the business of harvesting outrage, the single most valuable currency of the oligarchy – and spinning it into the kind of confusion that allows a blood-spattered perpetrator with a smoking gun in her hand to stand over a crime scene and declare herself “above suspicion”. We applaud as she tears up the arrest warrant. We celebrate each pre-determined outcome in political productions staged every four years by masked plutocrats.

In this particular one, understudy Pete Buttigieg enters stage right as the finale approaches. He serves as its Deus ex Machina – literally a God from a machine – reimposing the neoliberal order to the chaos engendered by the ham lead playing the tyrant. The curtain comes down, and the players take center stage. The ham takes a bow, and the curtain delineating the spectacle from the crowd once again descends, this time forever.

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Amazon Onslaught


This month Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro proposed a new bill promoting mining, expanded agriculture, and energy production on indigenous lands in the Amazon. Accordingly, private developers as well as private hedge funds will occupy and develop land that’s been home to indigenous people for thousands of years.

Meantime during Bolsonaro’s first full year in office, deforestation increased by 85%. More on this eye-popping number follows.

Of recent, there have been several deeply disturbing developments in the Amazon. Less than two months ago the world’s leading Amazonian scientists, Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University) and Carlos Nobre (University of Sao Paulo) issued a harsh warning to the people of the world: “Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.” (Source: Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 12, December 20, 2019).

Tipping points are final acts in nature, meaning points of no return for ecosystems, as functionality turns sour. Regarding the vastness of the Amazonian rainforest, its functionality is so worldly powerful that loss is incomprehensible and likely indicative of an impending final act for civilized, as well as uncivilized, life on the planet.

Nevertheless, recklessly flirting with extreme potent danger, the “tipping point warning” by leading scientists is brushed aside by Bolsonaro’s government, as the Amazon rainforest suffers direct attack on all fronts; it’s like an Anti-Climate Change Crusade, meaning, clearing the planet of all life forms, except for humans, but that can only last for so long before “thudding humans” start reverberating throughout the planet.

Already, the belated impact of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming over the decades has only now started clobbering the Amazon with three 100-year droughts, back-to-back-to-back every 5 years. It’s unprecedented, never happened before, until excessive levels of CO2 accumulated in the atmosphere.

According to NASA, serious, likely permanent, damaging episodes of drought in 2005, 2010, and 2015 have literally changed the Amazon, losing its special “carbon sink status.” As such, the Amazon’s sphere of influence in various regions throughout the rainforest transforms from preserving humanity via its powerful “carbon sink” capabilities to morphing into a shameful “carbon emitter,” same as coal-fired power plants spewing CO2, but not as sooty.

Unprecedented 100/year droughts occurring every five years sends a clear resounding signal to the world that something is horribly wrong.

Consider: According to NASA, the timing between drought sequences has impeded regrowth. The rainforest just doesn’t react like it used to. It does not have enough time between droughts to heal itself and regrow. Throughout all of recorded history, this has never been witnessed before. The implications are downright dreadful. (Source: NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage, NASA Earth Science News Team, August 9, 2018)

Meanwhile and regrettably, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, deforestation of the Amazon surged by 85% in 2019. Wall Street brokers would kill for a stock that increased by 85% in one year, and they would not blink an eye over a bloody mess, if necessary, to achieve such spectacular results, which, in a sense, is equivalent to the 85% Amazonian deforestation scenario. Which will likely get worse in 2020.

Not only that, killing indigenous tribal people is on the rise as private adventurers take Bolsonaro’s rightwing sentiments to heart, intruding into the Amazon. They’re armed for self-defense as well as to assault new lands. One never knows when a barefooted half-naked man carrying a thin wooden spear may appear from within the bush on his sacred homeland.

As if the situation couldn’t get much worse, the outlook for 2020 is simply awful! According to MapBiomas, a Brazilian organization in collaboration with universities, NGOs, and technology companies that monitor deforestation: “It would be expected that it will be worse than last year unless something really big happens in the next two or three months to avoid the high season of deforestation that starts in May (2020), according to Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of a group called MapBiomas.” (Source: Victoria Klesty, Amazon Deforestation Could Speed Up In 2020: Expert, Reuters January 15, 2020)

What’s worse than 85% deforestation? Is it 100% or maybe more now that Bolsonaro is so anxious to open up the Amazon to the deep-seated impulses of neoliberal-neocolonial capitalism (1) privatize (2) extract (3) monetize, as quickly as humanly possible, no questions asked.

Going forward, and assuming the Bolsonaro Amazon Extraction Scheme works as planned and passes muster in the hallowed halls of The National Congress of Brazil (Brasilia), it likely puts at risk essential life-sourcing features of the Amazon: Without its wondrous strength and power to generate (1) hydrologic systems (rivers across the sky as far north as Iowa), (2) absorb and store carbon (CO2) and (3) miraculous life-giving endless supply of oxygen, civilization would cease to exist beyond scattered tribes, here and there.

In all, it’s obvious where the Amazonian affair is headed, especially giving consideration to “civilization ceasing to exist beyond scattered tribes, here and there.”

Fortuitously, the infrastructure is already in place for that new world order. There are 305 Brazilian tribes, population 900,000, already in place to teach civilized society how to act and behave and live within natural ecosystems that fundamentally support the planet with vital life-giving resources… for free!

Postscript: An excellent new film by ScientistsWarning.TV (Stuart Scott, Executive Director) “Rollbacks – An Assault Against Life on Earth” is an exposé of Trump’s attack on the environment.

Posted in Brazil, EnvironmentComments Off on Amazon Onslaught

An Epic Act of Resistance and Trial of Our Times

By: Lauren Smith

The four members of the Embassy Protectors Collective, which will be tried before  a United States court on On Feb.11.
  • The four members of the Embassy Protectors Collective, which will be tried before a United States court on On Feb.11. | Photo: Embassy Protection Collective

On Feb. 11, four American peace activists, known as the Embassy Protectors Collective, will be tried before the U.S. empire for “interfering with certain protective functions” of its Federal government for their occupation of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C. to prevent it from being handed over to coup leaders sponsored by the Trump administration.

Maduro Personally Thanks Embassy Protection Collective From US

Their occupation ended on May 16, 2019, when federal agents broke into the sealed embassy, against international law, and arrested them in a swat style raid. The government’s accusation against them is merely a pretext used for their arrest and prosecution since they haven’t broken any laws. Matter of fact, their true crime in the minds of the Trump administration is just the opposite – it’s their brilliant defense of international law, and Venezuela’s sovereign right to self-determination against Yankee imperialism.

Although the Trump administration didn’t want President Maduro to win a second term, 67 percent of Venezuelans did. This stands in stark contrast with President Donald Trump’s own experience since he lost the popular vote in 2017 to Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a candidate despised by her own democratic party’s base – who only managed to secure her place as a presidential nominee due to the fraud perpetrated by the party’s elite.

Even the Republican party’s use of targeted racist and classist voter suppression and purge techniques could not secure Trump winning numbers at the polls. In the United States of America, as demonstrated by Trump, a loser can win the presidency. Compare this with Former President Jimmy Carter’s 2012 declaration that “the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.

Nonetheless, the Trump administration set its heart on Juan Guaido, a man that was not even a candidate in the 2018 election. Yet, with the superpower’s backing, what would be a farce in any other context still remains a threat  – as Guaido, left to his own device, is merely a self-appointed president as well as being a self-appointed leader of a self-appointed assembly.

What elevates this trial in our collective consciousness is the fact that these brave activists struck a successful blow against imperialist aggression from inside the belly of the beast – literally from within Washington, D.C.  For 37 days, the Trump administration was powerless against the guile & guts of the pediatrician, Margaret Flowers; medical anthropologist, Adrienne Pine; attorney, Kevin Zeese; and activist, David Paul as they bravely upheld Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention. The four were aided by a strong coalition of activist groups.

In solidarity, 70 members of the various groups, including journalists, took turns staying inside the embassy with them. As conditions worsened, or for personal reasons, they disbursed prior to the raid. However, many remained outside the embassy protesting the siege conditions faced by their comrades inside and delivered food despite facing assault and arrest. Even the aged civil rights defender, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, personally took part in food delivery to the Embassy Protectors. Fortunately, unlike the 72-year-old president of Veterans for Peace, Gerry Cordon, he was not assaulted by police and arrested in this process.

It is this grassroots collective that protected the Venezuelan embassy from seizure by Trump’s federal agents, local police, and an Astroturf fascist, racist & sexist mob – making their united act of resistance epic and their prosecution a trial of our times.

Despite the best efforts of the biased judge who ruled on Dec. 13 against their right to critical information needed for their defense, their acts of bravery cannot be silenced – as activists will ensure their story is told.  On Jan. 29, Judge Beryl Howell will hear pre-trial arguments concerning a recent motion filed by government lawyers that even more severely restricts what can be discussed during their Feb. 11 trial.

If Judge Howell grants the government’s motion, it will leave the Embassy Protectors virtually defenseless. The government wants the prosecution to be limited exclusively to three things (1) the four were in the embassy, (2) they were given a notice of eviction by the police, and (3) they refused to leave. Essentially, they want the jury that decides their fate to be blindfolded. This will ensure the Trump administration’s desired outcome – which is to convict the Embassy Protectors and make them a model for how it intends to deal with challenges to its illegal foreign and domestic policies.

The fact that Howell is assigned the case is no accident as she is the chief judge of the U.S. District Court and co-author of the unconstitutional Patriot Act. Under the Patriot Act, protections against unreasonable search & seizure are waived, and incarceration can be indeterminate and without charge. So, it’s no surprise, with her Intelligence Community background, that Judge Howell referred to the embassy protectors as a “gang”, stated facts in a way that supported their guilt and made it clear that a trial will result in their conviction.

Among the issues the Trump administration is asking to not be discussed in the Embassy Protectors’ trial are the following:

– That Nicolas Maduro is the democratically elected president of Venezuela. More than 300 election observers for the 2018 election agreed that the election met international standards. Additionally, more than 150 governments around the world recognize him as the President of Venezuela as does the United Nations.

– That Juan Guaido has no legitimacy to represent the Venezuelan government. Also, he is under investigation for his role in the “humanitarian aid” corruption scandal.

– That Carlos Vecchio, whose demand that the Embassy Protectors leave the embassy and was the basis of their eviction, is not an ambassador from Venezuela but part of Guaido’s failed coup. Additionally, Vecchio, a former Exxon oil executive, is charged with fraud, embezzlement and money laundering to the tune of US $70 million through CITGO, Venezuela’s US-based subsidiary of the state oil company PDVSA.

– That they were in the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela.

– That they received advice that they were in the embassy legally.

– That negotiations were ongoing between the US and Venezuela for a mutual protecting power agreement which would have resulted in Switzerland protecting the US embassy in Caracas and Turkey protecting the Venezuelan embassy in DC. And that the Embassy Protectors had stated that they would leave voluntarily when that agreement was reached. Additionally, The day before the four were arrested, Samuel Moncada, the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN, held a press conference where he discussed the negotiation for a protecting power agreement and reconfirmed that the Embassy Protectors were in the embassy with Venezuela’s permission.

– That they were surrounded by a coup mob that was blocking food from coming into the embassy.

– That the electricity and water were turned off on them.

– That the Vienna Convention was violated by federal agents, who had no legitimate right to enter the embassy to arrest them.

– That the Embassy Protectors were acting within their First Amendment rights.

The Embassy Protectors face federal charges punishable by up to one year in prison, a US$100,000 fine each, and restitution to the government for police time & damages, which is considerable given the duration of their occupation and the absurd amount of armed forces used in the embassy raid – as they remain four unarmed senior and middle-aged peace activists. Since their charges are unjust and anything can happen in prison, especially to dissidents, people of consciousness must ensure all charges are dropped. So, let us stand on the right side of history with the Embassy Protectors and show solidarity by attending their trial in Washington, D.C., which begins on Feb. 11, donating to their legal fund, and spreading the truth of what’s really happening widely.

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on An Epic Act of Resistance and Trial of Our Times

The ‘Deal of the Century’ Challenge for Palestinians

U.S. President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu while unveiling his Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, USA, Jan. 28, 2020.
  • U.S. President Donald J. Trump shakes hands with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu while unveiling his Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, USA, Jan. 28, 2020. | Photo: EFE

By: Ramzy Baroud

Anti-Muslim Violence Engulfs New Delhi For 3rd DayOPINION

Trump’s plan will fail to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Worse, it will exacerbate it even further, for Israel now has a blank check to speed up its colonial venture.

After several postponements, United States President Donald Trump has finally revealed the details of his Middle East plan, dubbed ‘Deal of the Century’, in a press conference in Washington on Jan. 28.

Draft UN Resolution Condemns Trump Middle East ‘Peace’ Plan

Standing triumphantly beside Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must have surely understood that the timing of the announcement, only a few weeks before Israel’s third general elections in one year, was tailored especially to fit the embattled Israeli leader’s domestic agenda.

Consisting of 80 pages, 50 of which are entirely dedicated to the plan’s economic component, the document was a rehash of previous Israeli proposals that have been rejected by Palestinians and Arab governments for failing to meet the minimum standards of justice, equality, and human rights.

Former Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat contended in an interview that the plan is not even American but an Israeli one.

“What you heard last night from Trump is what I heard from Netanyahu and his negotiating team in 2011-2012,” Erekat said. “I can assure you that the U.S. team did not make a single word or comma in this program. I have the protocols and I am willing to reveal to you what we have been offered. This is the plan of Netanyahu and the settler council.”

It was no surprise, then, to read the reaction of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who assigned Trump’s plan to the “dustbin of history.”

As expected, Trump has granted Netanyahu everything that he and Israel ever wanted. The American vision for Middle East ‘peace’ does not demand the uprooting of a single illegal Jewish settlement and recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided’ capital. It speaks of a conditioned and a disfigured Palestinian state that can only be achieved based on vague expectations; it wholly rejects the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees and fails to mention the word ‘occupation’ even once.

Obviously, only Israel benefits from the U.S. plan; the Zionist discourse, predicated on maximum territorial gains with minimal Palestinian presence, has finally prevailed. Every Israeli request has been met, to the last one. Meanwhile, Palestinians received nothing, aside from the promise of chasing another mirage of a Palestinian state that has no territorial continuity and no true sovereignty.

CJ Werleman@cjwerleman

This is what Trump’s “Deal of the Century” looks like on the ground.

Israeli Occupation Forces demolishing Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem today.

In other words, ethnic cleansing!

(via Quds News)1,77811:26 PM – Feb 4, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy1,674 people are talking about this

Palestinian concerns continue to be ignored, as Palestinian rights have been ignored for many years, even during the heyday of the ‘peace process’, in the early and mid-1990s. At the time, all fundamental issues had been relegated to the ‘final status negotiations’, which have never taken place.

The ‘Deal of the Century’ merely validated the status quo ante as envisioned and unilaterally carried out by Israel.

That said, Trump’s plan will fail to resolve the conflict. Worse, it will exacerbate it even further, for Israel now has a blank check to speed up its colonial venture, to entrench its military occupation and to further oppress Palestinians, who will certainly continue to resist.

As for the economic component of the plan, history has proven that there can be no economic prosperity under military occupation. Netanyahu, and others before him, tried such dubious methods, of ‘economic peace’ and such, and all have miserably failed.

Time and again, the United Nations has made it clear that it follows a different political trajectory than that followed by Washington, and that all U.S. decisions regarding the status of Jerusalem, the illegal settlements and the Golan Heights, are null and void. Only international law matters, as none of Trump’s actions in recent years, have succeeded in significantly altering Arab and international consensus on the rights of the Palestinians.

As for the status of – and Palestinian rights in their occupied city – East Jerusalem, rebranding a few neighborhoods – Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis – as al-Quds, or East Jerusalem, is an old Israeli plan that has already failed in the past. The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had enough political sagacity to reject it, and neither Abbas nor any other Palestinian official would dare compromise on the historic and legal Palestinian rights in the city.

The Palestinian leadership cannot be absolved from its responsibility towards the Palestinian people, and its unmitigated failure to develop a comprehensive national strategy.

Immediately after Trump announced his plan, Abbas called on all Palestinian factions, including his rivals in the Hamas movement, to unite and to develop a common strategy to counter the ‘Deal of the Century.’

Knowing that the U.S.-Israeli plot was imminent, why did Abbas wait this long to call for a common strategy?

National unity among Palestinians should never be used as a bargaining chip as a scare tactic, or as a last resort option aimed at validating ineffectual Abbas in the eyes of his people.

The PA is now facing an existential crisis. Its very formation in 1994 was meant to marginalize the more democratically-encompassing Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

According to the new American diktats, the PA has already outlasted its usefulness.

As for Israel, the PA is only needed to maintain ‘security coordination’ with the Israeli army, which essentially means ensuring the safety of the illegal and armed Jewish settlers in occupied Palestine.

While unity among Palestinian parties is an overriding demand, Abbas’ PA cannot expect to maintain this ridiculous balancing act: expecting true and lasting national unity while still diligently serving the role expected of him by Israel and its allies.

While Trump’s sham ‘plan’ does not fundamentally alter U.S. foreign policy in Israel and Palestine – as U.S. bias towards Israel preceded Trump by decades – it has definitely ended the so-called ‘peace process’ charade, which divided the Palestinians into ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ camps.

Now, all Palestinians have become ‘extremists’ from Washington’s viewpoint, all equally shunned and marginalized.

Abbas would be terribly mistaken if he thinks that the old political discourse can be saved,  which was, oddly enough, written in Washington.

The problem with the Palestinian leadership is that, despite its frequent protestations and angry condemnations, it is yet to take independent initiatives or operate outside the American-Israeli paradigm.

And this is the Palestinian leadership’s greatest challenge at this stage. Will it move forward with a Palestinian-centric strategy or persist in the same place, regurgitating old language and reminiscing of the good old days?

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on The ‘Deal of the Century’ Challenge for Palestinians

PalestineBreaking with Washington: Arabs and Muslims Must Take a United Stance for Palestine

Palestinians take part in a protest against the US Middle East peace plan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

By: Ramzy Baroud

  • Palestinians take part in a protest against the US Middle East peace plan, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. | Photo: Reuters.

by Ramzy Baroud

If Arabs and Muslims fail Palestine again, then, once more, the Palestinian people will find themselves alone in this desperate fight, which they have no other alternative but to undergo.

A negotiated solution to the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’, at least the way envisaged by successive U.S. administrations, has failed. Now, Palestinians and their allies would have to explore a whole new path of liberation that does not go through Washington. 

Crisis and Opportunity: The ‘Deal of the Century’ Challenge for Palestinians

It is easy to place all the blame on the current U.S. administration, setting apart dodgy characters such as the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as the man who has single-handedly diminished any real chances for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. 

The truth, however, greatly differs from conveniently molded assumptions. 

The U.S.-championed ‘peace process’ has been in a hiatus since the last negotiations in 2014. For years prior to the announcement of Donald Trump’s ‘Middle East Plan’ on Jan. 28, Israel did everything in its power to ensure Palestinians can never have a state of their own. 

Not only did Israeli officials openly speak of their desire to illegally annex much of the occupied territories, but the Israeli government has taken numerous steps to ensure the constant expansion of illegal Jewish settlements.

One would have to be politically naive and morally blind to assume that the Israeli government, at any point in the past, had an iota of interest in a just peace that would guarantee the Palestinian people a minimum amount of dignity, freedom, and justice. 

Yet, everyone has played along: Israel complained that it has no peace partner while simultaneously entrenching its military occupation and expanding its colonial regime; the Palestinian Authority (PA) of President Mahmoud Abbas ceaselessly waved empty threats, which ultimately amounted to nothing; the Americans urged both parties to return to ‘unconditional negotiations’, all the while funding, to the amount of US$3.8 billion, the Israeli military and economy; the United Nations and the European Union followed a predictable political script that was seen as more ‘moderate’ than that of Washington, yet failed to take a single meaningful action to discourage Israel from further violations of international law.

Meanwhile, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), who are arguably Palestine’s more solid and consistent allies, remained marginal and, by far, the least relevant of all parties. Their occasional statements in support of Palestinians and condemnation of the Israeli occupation became so predictable and ineffectual. Aside from Abbas and his Authority, ordinary Palestinians saw no value in verbal support that hardly ever translated into tangible action. 

Draft UN Resolution Condemns Trump Middle East ‘Peace’ Plan

Somehow, this skewed paradigm sustained itself for many years, partly because it suited everyone except the Palestinian people, of course, whose subjugation and humiliation by Israel carried on unhindered. 

Presently, there are two different currents fighting to define the situation in Palestine in the post-‘Deal of the Century’ era. 

First, Israel and the U.S., who are keen to translate the ‘Middle East plan’ into rapid and irreversible action. They are eager to annex the illegal settlements of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley (approximately 30 percent of the total size of the West Bank). Moreover, Washington would like to see its diligent, clandestine efforts aimed at normalization between Arabs and Israel translate into actual agreements and, eventually, full diplomatic ties.  

Second, the Palestinian Authority, the EU, the U.N., the Arab League and the OIC, want the ‘Deal of the Century’ defeated, but they have no alternative path to follow. They insist on respect for international law and remain die-hard supporters of the unfeasible two-state paradigm, but they have no actual strategy, let alone an enforcement mechanism to make that happen.  

The pro-PA camp reeks with contradictions, that are no less obvious than that of Abbas’ Authority, which speaks of ‘popular resistance’ while, jointly with Israel, is suppressing any attempt aimed at challenging the Israeli occupation. 

A perfect example of the contradictions in this camp is that only two days after the Arab League issued its statement rejecting the ‘Deal of the Century’, the head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, met with right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Uganda. Burhan is hoping to swap normalization with Israel for Washington’s favors.

Another example is reflected in the behavior of Abbas himself, who, on Feb.1, declared that he would sever all contacts with Israel, including the so-called security coordination, the main pillar in the Oslo agreement, which practically employs PA security forces in the service of the Israeli occupation.

This is not the first time that Abbas has resorted to this lifeline, but he has never gone through with his promises. We have no reason to believe that this time is any different. 

Palestinian Voices@FalastinVoices

The Palestinian Women Struggle bloc protesting against the so-called peace plan “Deal of the Century.”#DealOfTheCentury

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There is little hope that the pro-PA camp, as exemplified in the current political structure, can truly defeat the ‘Deal of the Century’. 

The final statements resulting from the Arab League summit in Cairo and the OIC summit in Jeddah on Feb. 1 and 3 respectively, is a repeat of numerous past conferences, where promises were made and condemnations were leveled, with no follow-up nor any action.

If Arabs and Muslims are, indeed, sincere in their desire to confront U.S.-Israeli plotting, they ought to go beyond this stifling pattern of impractical politics. It is not enough to reject Washington’s stratagem and to denounce Israeli action. They ought to muster enough courage to turn their statements into an actual, unified strategy, and their strategy into action, using all means at their disposal.

Arab countries enjoy massive economic and political leverage in Washington and throughout the world. What’s the value of all of this leverage if not used in defense of Palestine and her people? 

Washington and Tel Aviv are counting on the fact that anger at the ‘Deal of the Century’ among Arabs and Muslims will eventually peter out, exactly as happened after Trump recognized all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving his country’s embassy there in May 2018. 

If Arabs and Muslims fail Palestine again, then, once more, the Palestinian people will find themselves alone in this desperate fight, which they have no other alternative but to undergo. And when Palestinians rise, as they surely will, their uprising will challenge not just Israel but the entire regional and international apparatus that allowed the Israeli occupation to go unchallenged for so many years.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on PalestineBreaking with Washington: Arabs and Muslims Must Take a United Stance for Palestine

Cuba Claims for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Cuba's Foreign Affairs minister Bruno Rodriguez at the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 25, 2020.

Foreign Minister Rodriguez stressed that U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal threatens international peace and security.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Tuesday asked the international community to work in favor of complete nuclear disarmament at the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.​​​​​​


US Deploys Dangerous Nuclear Weapon for First Time Ever

 “The international community cannot remain silent in the face of the current scenario, in which wars of pillage, arms race, and the lack of respect for the right to self-determination of peoples are proliferating,” Rodriguez said.

“The behavior of the U.S. administration and its military domination strategy is worrisome. The modernization of its nuclear weapons arsenal threatens international peace and security,” the Foreign Minister warned.​​​​​​

“This multilateral forum is prepared to negotiate simultaneously a treaty banning the arms race in outer space, and to provide effective security guarantees for non-nuclear-weapon States such as Cuba,” he said.

Bruno Rodríguez P@BrunoRguezP


Conferencia de Desarme

Trabajemos sin descanso por el desarme general y completo, especialmente nuclear, preservemos a las generaciones venideras del flagelo de la guerra y conquistemos una paz duradera y sostenible para todos.#Cuba

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2745:40 PM – Feb 24, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy239 people are talking about this“Disarmament Conference. Let’s work tirelessly for general and complete disarmament, especially nuclear. Let’s save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and let’s achieve lasting and sustainable peace for all.” 

The Foreign Affairs minister used the multilateral forum to denounce the U.S. campaigns against the Latin American leftist political forces, leaders, and progressive governments.

“We reject the unconventional war waged by the U.S. to try to overthrow the legitimately constituted government of President Nicolas Maduro in the sister the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” Rodriguez stressed.

Today, with more strength than ever, “it is indispensable that all States refrain from exerting pressure on other countries, including the application of unilateral coercive measures, contrary to international law.”

“Total disarmament is the best way to preserve future generations from the scourge of war. Let us conquer a lasting and sustainable peace for all,” the Cuban diplomat concluded.

Posted in CUBAComments Off on Cuba Claims for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

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