Archive | November 1st, 2020

Al-Akhras Suffering Full Body Convulsions on 98th Day of Hunger Strike

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported that the health of hunger striking detainee, Maher Al-Akhras has declined in recent days.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Administrative Detainee has been on hunger strike for 98 consecutive days, and is currently in serious condition at the Nazi camp Kaplan hospital.

The PPS added that Al-Akhras, 49, has been experiencing full body convulsions which last 60 minutes at a time, in addition to severe deterioration of his hearing and sight.

Furthermore, the administrative detainee, is also suffering from acute shortness of breath as well as extreme pain in his head and chest.

Al-Akhras has been refusing all food and medical intervention since the day he was detained, July 27, 2020, to protest Nazi Gastapo policy of detention without charge or trial.

The PPS asserted that the continued detention of Al-Akhras, by the Nazi regime, bearing in mind his critical condition, constitutes a slow and systematic execution.

Administrative detention (AD) is a procedure that allows the Nazi occupation forces to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret information without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. The secret information or evidence cannot be accessed by the detainee nor his lawyer, and can according to Nazi military orders, an administrative detention order can be renewed for an unlimited time. The court issues an administrative detention order for a maximum period of six months, subject to renewal. Addameer, the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association

Head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority, Qadri Abu Bakr on Sunday, expressed his deep concern for the health of the detainee, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

“Palestinian efforts have not stopped in supporting Akhras in this heroic battle by following his condition at the highest levels.” – Qadri Abu Bakr, Head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority

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Detainee Sa’adi Suspend His Hunger Strike

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that a hunger-striking detainee has suspended the hunger strike he started on October 20th, after an agreement was reached regarding his administrative detention.

The PPS said the detainee, identified as Mahmoud Sa’adi, has suspended the strike after the Nazi regime agreed not to renew his administrative detention order.

It is worth mentioning that Mahmoud, 40, from Jenin in northern West Bank, was taken prisoner on May 20, 2020, and was slapped with an administrative detention order for five months, without charges or trial.

Sa’adi was later slapped with another order for five additional months. He is a married father of eight children and suffers from kidney disease in addition to various complications.

It is worth mentioning that detainee Maher al-Akhras is ongoing with the hunger strike he started 98 days ago, despite his serious health condition, amidst fears of vital organ failure. He is being held under Administrative Detention orders without charges or trial.

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Dumping Fukushima’s Water into the Ocean

What could possibly go wrong?

BY ROBERT HUNZIKER

Photograph Source: IAEA Imagebank – CC BY 2.0

For nearly a decade the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has been streaming radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. As it happens, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) struggles to control it. Yet, the bulk of the radioactive water is stored in more than 1,000 water tanks.

Assuredly, Japan’s government has made an informal decision to dump Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. A formal announcement could come as early as this year. Currently, 1.2 million tonnes of radioactive water is stored.

The problem: TEPCO is running out of storage space.

Government of Japan’s solution: Dump it into the Pacific Ocean.

Third-party expert solutions: Build more storage tanks.

Environmental groups insist there is no reason why additional storage tanks cannot be constructed outside the perimeter of the plant. They accuse the government of seeking the cheapest and quickest solution to the problem. All along, authorities have promised the site will be safe in 40 years. Really, only 40 years!

According to IAEA’s Director General Grossi, who visited Fukushima in February 2020, dumping radioactive water that is mainly contaminated with tritium meets global standards of practice. (Source: Michael Jacob in Tokyo, What! Is Japan Really Planning to Dump Radioactive Water From Fukushima Into the Ocean? Sweden-Science-Innovation, June 10, 2020)

In that regard, advocates of nuclear power utilize a subtle storyline that convinces, and deceives, the public into accepting nuclear power, however reluctantly. It goes something like this: “There’s nothing to worry about. Nuclear power plants routinely release tritium into the air and water. There is no economically feasible way to remove it. It’s normal, a standard operating procedure.” Nevertheless, as shall be explained in more detail forthwith, there is nothing positive about that posture, absolutely nothing!

According to TEPCO, all radioactive isotopes will be removed, except tritium, which is hard to separate. Still, similar to all radioactive substances, tritium is a carcinogen (causes cancer), a mutagen (causes genetic mutation), and a teratogen (causes malformation of an embryo).

The good news: Tritium is relatively weak beta radiation and does not have enough energy to penetrate human skin. The principal health risks are ingesting or breathing the tritium.

TEPCO has deployed an Advanced Liquid Processing System that purportedly removes 62 isotopes from the water, all except tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and cannot easily be filtered out of water.

However, the filtration system has been plagued by malfunctions. According to Greenpeace International, within the past two years TEPCO admitted to failures to reduce radioactivity to levels below regulatory limits in more than 80% of the storage tanks. Reported levels of Strontium-90 (a deadly isotope) were more than 100 times regulatory standards with some tanks at 20,000 times.

“They have deliberately held back for years detailed information on the radioactive material in the contaminated water. They have failed to explain to the citizens of Fukushima, wider Japan and to neighboring countries such as S. Korea and China that the contaminated water to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean contains dangerous levels of carbon-14. These, together with other radionuclides in the water will remain hazardous for thousands of years with the potential to cause genetic damage. It’s one more reason why these plans have to be abandoned.” (Source: Fukushima Reactor Water Could Damage Human DNA if Released, Says Greenpeace, The Guardian, October 23, 2020)

Cancer is the main risk to humans ingesting tritium. When tritium decays it emits a low-energy electron (roughly 18,000 electron volts) that escapes and slams into DNA, a ribosome or some other biologically important molecule. And, unlike other radionuclides, tritium is usually part of water, so it ends up in all parts of the body and therefore, in theory, can promote any kind of cancer. But that also helps reduce the risk because tritiated water is typically excreted in less than a month. (Source: Is Radioactive Hydrogen in Drinking Water a Cancer Threat, Scientific American, Feb. 7, 2014)

Some evidence suggests beta particles emitted by tritium are more effective at causing cancer than the high-energy radiation such as gamma rays. Low-energy electrons produce a greater impact because it doesn’t have the energy to spread its impact. At the end of its atomic-scale trip it delivers most of its ionizing energy in one relatively confined track rather than shedding energy all along its path like a higher-energy particle. This is known as “density of ionization.” As such, scientists say any amount of radiation poses a health risk.

According to Ian Fairlie, Ph.D. (Imperial College/London and Princeton University), a radiation biologist and former member of the 3-person secretariat to Britain’s Committee Examining the Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters: “At the present time, over a million tonnes of tritium-contaminated water are being held in about a thousand tanks at the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan.  This is being added to at the rate of ~300 tonnes a day from the water being pumped to keep cool the melted nuclear fuels from the three destroyed reactors at Fukushima. Therefore new tanks are having to be built each week to cope with the influx.” (Source: Ian Fairlie, The Hazards of Tritium, March 13, 2020)

Furthermore, radioactive contaminants in the tanks, such as nuclides like caesium-137 (an extremely deadly isotope) and strontium-90 (which is equally deadly) in reduced concentrations still exist in unacceptable high levels. According to Fairlie: “These problems constitute a sharp reminder to the world’s media that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima did not end in 2011 and is continuing with no end in sight.”

“There are no easy answers here. Barring a miraculous technical discovery which is unlikely, I think TEPCO/Japanese Gov’t will have to buy more land and keep on building more holding tanks to allow for tritium decay to take place. Ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years: that’s how long these tanks will have to last – at least. This will allow time not only for tritium to decay, but also for politicians to reflect on the wisdom of their support for nuclear power.” (Fairlie)

Meanwhile, over the course of seemingly endless years, Fukushima Daiichi remains “the world’s most dangerous active time bomb” for several reasons, and spent fuel rods are at the top of the list.

In addition to the 800 tons of lava-like molten fuel, aka: corium, (the big meltdown) in the three reactor containment vessels, the crippled reactor buildings contain more than 1,500 units of used nuclear fuel rods in open pools of water and must be kept cool at all times or all hell breaks loose. Loss of water from structural damage or another major earthquake (the structures are already seriously compromised) could expose the fuel rods, resulting in uncontrolled massive release of sizzling radiation that could be worse than the original meltdown, possibly exposing Tokyo to an emergency mass evacuation event with people running and screaming.

Tokyo Electric Power has plans for complete removal of the dangerous fuel rods by 2031. That work is being carried out remotely from a control room about 500 metres distance due to extraordinarily high radiation levels inside the reactor buildings.

Dismally, a perverse endlessness overhangs Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima Daiichi (2011), earmarking these nuclear power meltdowns as the worst industrial accidents in human history.

Yet, with 440 operating nuclear plants worldwide, and 50 new plants under construction, there are plans to build a few hundred more.

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Why Capitalism Was Destined to Come Out on Top in the 2020 Election

BY RICHARD D. WOLFF

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

No matter who “won” the U.S. election, what will not change is the capitalist organization of the country’s economy.

The great majority of enterprises will continue to be owned and operated by a small minority of Americans. They will continue to use their positions atop the capitalist system to expand their wealth, “economize their labor costs,” and thereby deepen the United States’ inequalities of wealth and income.

The employer class will continue to use its wealth to buy, control, and shape the nation’s politics to prevent the employee class from challenging their ownership and operation of the economic system. Indeed, for a very long time, they have made sure that (1) only two political parties dominate the government and (2) both enthusiastically commit to preserving and supporting the capitalist system. For capitalism, the question of which party wins matters only to how capitalism will be supported, not whether that support will be a top governmental priority.

No matter who won, the private sector and the government will continue their shared failure to overcome capitalism’s socially destructive instability. Economic crashes (“downturns,” “busts,” “recessions,” and “depressions”) will continue to occur on average every four to seven years, disrupting our economy and society. Already in this young century, we have endured, across Republicans and Democrats, three crashes (2000, 2008, and 2020) in 20 years: true to the historic average. Nothing capitalism tried in the past ever stopped or overcame its instability. Nothing either party now proposes offers the slightest chance of doing that in the future.

No matter who won, the historic undoing of the New Deal after 1945 will continue. The GOP and Democrats will both keep reversing the 1930s’ reduction of U.S. wealth and income inequalities (forced from below by the Congress of Industrial Organizations [CIO], socialists, and communists). As usual, the GOP reverses these gains for Americans further and faster than Democrats, but both parties have condoned and managed the upward redistribution of wealth and income since 1945.

The GOP will likely celebrate explicitly the wealthy they serve so slavishly. The Democrats will likely moan occasionally about inequality while serving the wealthy quietly or implicitly. The GOP will “economize on government costs” by cutting social programs for average people and the poor. The Democrats will expand those programs while carefully avoiding any questioning, let alone challenging, of capitalism.

No matter who won, what U.S. politics lacks is real choice. Both major parties function as cheerleaders for capitalism under all circumstances, even when a killer pandemic coincides with a major capitalist crash. Real political choice would require a party that criticizes capitalism and offers a path toward social transition beyond capitalism. Countless polls prove that millions of U.S. citizens want to consider socialist criticisms of capitalism and socialist alternatives to it. The mass of voters for Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other socialists provided yet more evidence. However, the system allowed and enabled a near-fascistic right wing to take over the GOP and the presidency. At the same time, it aided and abetted the Democrats in excluding a socialist from even running for that presidency. Trump and Biden are long-standing, well-known cheerleaders for capitalism. Sanders was, in contrast, a critic.

A new political party that offered systemic criticisms of capitalism and advocated for a transition to a worker-coop based economic system would bring real choice into U.S. politics. It would place before the electorate a basic question of vital importance: what mix of capitalist and worker-coop organized enterprises do you wish to work for, buy from, and live with in the United States? Voters could thereby genuinely participate in deciding the range of job descriptions from which each of us will become able to choose. Will we mostly have to accept positions as employees whose jobs are designed exclusively by and for employers? Or will all job descriptions include at least two basic tasks: a specific function within an enterprise’s division of labor plus an equal share (alongside all other enterprise workers) of the powers to design and direct the enterprise as a whole?

Any community that wishes to call itself a “democracy” for more than rhetorical, self-promotional reasons should welcome a one-person, one-vote decision-making process governing how work is organized.

Most adults spend most of their lives at work. How that work is organized shapes how their lives are lived and what skills, aptitudes, appetites, and relationships they develop. Their work influences their other social roles as friends, lovers, spouses, and parents. In capitalism, the work experience of the vast majority (employees) is shaped and controlled by a small minority (employers) to secure the latter’s profit, wealth accumulation, and reproduction as the socially dominant minority. In a real democracy, the economy would have to be democratically reorganized. Workplace decisions would be made on the basis of one person, one vote inside each enterprise. Parallel, similarly democratic decision-making would govern residential communities surrounding and interacting with workplaces. Workplace and residential democracies would have significant influences over one another’s decisions. In short, genuine economic democracy would be the necessary partner to political democracy.

Many “capitalist” societies today include significant sites of enterprises organized as worker cooperatives. What they need but lack are allied political parties to secure the legislation, legal precedents, and administrative decisions to protect worker coops and facilitate their growth. Early capitalist enterprises and enclaves within feudalism likewise had to find or build political parties for the same reasons. Anti-feudal and pro-capitalist parties contested with feudal lords and their monarchs first to protect capitalist enterprises’ existence and then to facilitate their growth. Eventually, pro-capitalist parties undertook revolutions to displace feudalism and monarchies in favor of parliaments in which those capitalist parties could and did dominate.

Today, pro-capitalist parties publicly deny but privately fear that their political dominance is threatened. Mass disaffection from capitalism is growing. One reason is the relocation of capitalism’s growth from its old centers (Western Europe, North America, and Japan) to new centers (China, India, and Brazil). Globalization—the polite but confused term for that relocation—generates economic declines in the old centers that destabilize communities unable to admit let alone prepare for them. There, vanishing job opportunities, incomes, and social services provoke increasing questions and challenges confronting capitalism. These are now leading to broad and growing disaffection from the capitalist system. Polls and other signs of that disaffection abound. In the United States, on the one hand, the Republican Party lurched to the right. Trump-type quasi-fascism wants to impose a nationalist turn to “save” U.S. capitalism. On the other hand, the old, pro-capitalist establishment running the Democratic Party blocked Bernie Sanders and other socialists from any real power or voice. Saving capitalism was and also remains that establishment’s goal.

Capitalism eventually defeated and displaced feudalism by combining micro-level construction and expansion of capitalist enterprises with macro-focused political parties finding ways to protect those enterprises and facilitate their growth. Capitalists’ profits funded their parties’ activities. Socialism will defeat and displace capitalism by a parallel combination of expanding worker coops and a political party using government to protect them and facilitate their growth. The worker coops’ net revenues will finance their parties’ activities.

The emergence of politically significant socialist parties is well underway in the United States. Besides the small remainders of past socialist parties, Occupy Wall Street, the recent growth and prominence of the Democratic Socialists of America, the two Sanders campaigns, and the rise of other socialist politicians such as Ocasio-Cortez are all signs of socialist renewal. But those signs also reveal a huge remaining problem: disorganization on the left. The social movements, labor unions, and the new socialist initiatives need to coalesce into a broad, new socialist party. If that party could also become the political voice of a growing worker-coop sector of the economy, many key conditions for a transition beyond capitalism will have been achieved.

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Roaming Charges: the Fog of Bores

BY JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Fog settles over the Cascade Foothills. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Soon we will awaken from the current national nightmare and fall back to sleep into the next.

+ I don’t know about the rest of you, but the last four days have left me lost in the fog of bores. MSDNC’s Steve Kornacki and his tedious explanations of meaningless demographic trivial, all delivered in a rapid-fire patter, as if he had consumed a Sartrean-quantity of black beauties, the pompous posturing before maps and charts by John King,  the banal patter of Gloria Borger, who seems to have eclipsed Elizabeth Drew as the chief purveyor of conventional wisdom (often wrong), which she then repeats, phrase by clichéd phrase over the course of her three hours, the lethal drone of Wolf Blitzer’s voice. The more they say, the less meaningful any of it becomes. Face it, any network, besides the Comedy Channel, that hires Rick Santorum as a political analysts should lose its license. And Santorum isn’t even the worst of the bunch. That honor probably belongs to Van Jones, who, if Trump somehow survives, will eagerly pronounce the Fluke of Orange humbled by the experience and ready to assume a new, more presidential bearing. God, let’s hope not. The best thing about Trump is that he’s never even pretended to be the least bit presidential. Trump’s going out, the way he came in. The “burden of the office” hasn’t changed him…

+ Largely, I escaped from it all by turning to the only offering of any value on HBO-Max and it alone is worth a subscription: Sergei Bondarchuk’s meticulously restored film of War and Peace, all 460 glorious minutes of it. I’ve long mourned the fact that Stanley Kubrick, after years of preparation, junked his plan for an epic film on Napoleon, allegedly because the financing fell through after Bondarchuk’s own Soviet-Italian production of Waterloo, was released a year earlier. I’ve read Kubrick’s treatment and script and looked at the designs for the costumes and sets, all meticulously done (See: Kubrick’s Napoleon: The Greatest Film Never Made). But it wouldn’t surpass Bondurchuk’s masterpiece, made over three years (1965-67), with its gorgeous cinematography, swirling camera movements, subjective points of view (including a charging horse at the battle of Austerlitz) and panorama of nearly the entire spectrum of Russian society from aristocrats to serfs, Cossacks to Orthodox priests, bankers to the bankrupt, pacifists and anarchists to monarchists and genocidal maniacs. It’s an overwhelming cinematic experience, even when the sweeping images are shrunk to the diminutive confines of a TV screen. Even the minor characters pulse with more authenticity than almost anyone on our political or cultural scene today.  The duel between the rakish Dolokhov and the portly, near-blind intellectual Pierre (played adroitly by Bondarchuk himself) is one of the most compelling two-minutes sequences in film.

Napoleon gazing on the wounded Prince Andrei. Still from War and Peace.

+ If there’s one thing Trump has taught us it’s that lies are no longer a liability, if they ever were, in politics, that fact-checkers are smartypants irritants, that many people like to be told lies and find them deeply comforting. Most people also grew up hearing them in church, civics class,  every week.

+ Based on his Thursday night tirade, Trump seems intent on going out like Ceausescue, only less eloquently…

+ I’d nominate Trump for the Nobel Peace prize he craves so greedily, if during his lame duck transition period he pulls US troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria before Biden takes office.

+ On his first day in office (should that day ever come), Biden must commute the sentences of every person still in federal prison under the racist and punitive drug laws that he inflicted on the country for 40 years and back reparations for the damage done to them. If he doesn’t act to immediately correct this grievous stain on the country, you’ll know everything you’ve heard up to this point has been bullshit. Except the part about not banning fracking, I guess.

+ A country of innumerates trying, and failing, to count and recount their votes…Betsy DeVos, you can return to your yacht, your mission is done here.

+ Was Pat Robertson’s prophecy that Trump had to be actually re-elected by all of the votes before the asteroid strikes the earth or just the counted votes? Can we get a clarification from the Supreme Deity or his prophet on Earth?

+ You don’t have to be Huey Long to understand that if you want to decisively win an election, you have to offer people more than the slogan “I’m not Trump,” a pledge to continue fracking and a Springsteen poem he didn’t even write.

+ I keep hoping that one day there’ll be a presidential candidate who just says very plainly: I don’t want to invade anyone else’s country or drone their wedding parties; I don’t want to torture anyone; I don’t want your family to go bankrupt from the bills for your daughter’s chemo; I want you to be paid fairly for the work you do and not be preyed upon by bill collectors when you’re unemployed; I want you to have a roof over your head and clean water to drink; I don’t want your kids to go hungry at school or be thrown in jail for smoking grass or be shot by the police while walking home from the 7/11; I want you to have time off to enjoy your life and not worry about your house burning down in a wildfire or being swept away in a hurricane. Is that too much to ask? Where is this person?

+ Combined Amy McGrath and Jaime Harrison raised $199,004,686. They lost to Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham by a combined 35 points. Maybe that $$ would have been better spent in Maine, Iowa and North Carolina? Meanwhile, the Republicans sank $10,000,000 into trying to unseat AOC and lost by 37%. But at least the consultants got paid.

+ Trump actively courted the Lumbee vote in the final weeks of the campaign and promised them tribal recognition (even as he moved to strip recognition from other tribes). Biden was MIA. Robeson County, North Carolina precincts where Native Americans are a majority of voters:

2012

Obama – 59.4%
Romney – 39.2%

2020

Trump – 69.1%
Biden – 30.1%

+ When CNN labeled Indigenous Americans “something else”….

+ Looks like it’s a dead heat in Arizona now between Biden and Trump. Don’t worry, I’m told it’s a dry one.

+ So it remains possible that Biden could win the popular vote by more than 6 million votes with more than 50 percent of the total and still lose the election to Trump. There’s your update on the state of democracy in America, Monsieur de Tocqueville.

+ According to an analysis in the Washington Post, it’s theoretically possible to win the electoral college with less than 22 percent of the popular vote.

+ Biden’s popular vote lead is now larger than the population of 22 states. But he still may lose…Will the Organization of American States intervene?

+ Over to you, Tutar…!

+ Speaking of Rudy and Tutar, I was reminded this morning that the first name of President Muffley in Dr. Strangelove is “Merkin”, which flew right by me the first few times I saw the film. But like so much else in Terry Southern’s script, it continues to draw satiric blood today and will tomorrow, whoever wins.

+ If we’re going to have a Civil War in the wake of this election, can they finish it this time?

+ On his first day in office (should that day ever come), Biden must commute the sentences of every person still in federal prison under the racist and punitive drug laws that he inflicted on the country for 40 years and back reparations for the damage done to them.

+ It’s always so disappointing when the cool slang words of our youth assume human form…Robbie Mook, for example, who after running HRC’s losing campaign to Donald Trump, just managed to blow the congressional elections for the Democrats, somehow allowing the Republicans to flip seven seats in the House in a general election.

+ Prediction: If Trump loses, the seismic activity in DC for the next 2 months from shredders will rival that of the fracking earthquakes that have been rattling Oklahoma for the past decade.

+ Biden is in full ideological retreat and he hasn’t even been elected yet. CNBC: “A source familiar w/the Biden transition points out that Biden + GOP Senate would mean the transition will have to re-evaluate the names it has in mind for Senate confirmed positions. May have to send more moderate figures who can get through. Wall Street will like that.”

+ Clinton and Obama could sell the likely scenario spelled out by CNBC’s reporter. Biden can’t. But he’ll try anyway and it will end badly for him and the Democrats. One term president and GOP will retake the House in 2022.

+ If Trump wins, one would expect the Democratic House to resist his agenda and try to impose a kind of legislative & budgetary gridlock. But if Biden wins and begins triangulating with the GOP Senate, the House is much more likely to capitulate to measures they’d otherwise block. That’s the key political lesson from Clinton time.

+ You can always count on Claire McCaskill to let slip what the Democratic Party’s political elites really think of their base: “Whether you are talking guns or…abortion…or gay marriage and rights for ‘transexuals’ and other people who we as a party ‘look after’ and make sure they are treated fairly. As we circled the issues we left voters behind and Republicans dove in.”

+ The big untold story isn’t the predictable stalemate between Biden and Trump. It’s that Pelosi’s Democrats managed to lose SEVEN seats in the House, in a big turnout general election. And she wants to lead the House again as speaker. That really spells long term trouble for the Democrats.

+ The median age of people living in the US is 38. By contrast, the age of the leaders of the Democratic Party are as follows.

Joe Biden, 77.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 80.
House majority whip Jim Clyburn, 80.
House majority leader Steny Hoyer, 81.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer clocks in at a sprightly 69.

+ Speaking of which, here’s Clyburn’s post-election message to the Democratic troops (ie, funders) on Thursday: “If we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win Georgia senate races.”

+ The Hill reported a similar story (we get this kind of rear-guard action after nearly every Democratic electoral debacle) that the “centrist Democrats” (that is, every one to the right Ilhan Omar) are meeting to rethink their leadership and strategy. Group hug followed by ice cream and seppuku?


The Hill@thehill
JUST IN: Centrist Democrats talk leadership changes after negative election results http://hill.cm/1wmBZjt

Image

+ It’s an axiomatic rule of American politics that when Republicans lose elections, they respond by catering even more deferentially to the demands of their base. Democrats, however, respond by denouncing theirs (what’s left of it) and groveling apologetically before the money brokers.

+ You can defeat Trump (maybe, barely), but you won’t defeat Trumpism until you demolish the current incarnation of the Democratic Party and build something new–freed from this kind of arthritic thinking, timid politics and feverish addiction to Wall Street money.

+ One of the ways I interpret Obama’s ability to win Iowa, Ohio North Carolina and Florida is that his purported opposition to the Iraq war allowed him to capture working class whites. The Democrats responded in 2016 and 2020 by running candidates who voted for the very war Obama opposed with predicable results.

+ Memo to Pelosi and Clyburn:

Democratic co-sponsors of Medicare-for-All who just won re-election in swing districts:

Jared Golden (ME-02; R+2)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02; R+1)
Mike Levin (CA-49; R+1)
Katie Porter (CA-45; R+3)

Susan Wild (PA-07; D+1) and Matt Cartwright (PA-08; R+1) seem on track to win as well. (h/t Jonathan Cohn)

+ The only lesson that will eventually be learned from this election is that the Democrats learned no lessons from this election.

+ You know what a Biden presidency with a GOP senate means, don’t you? Hit it boys…A lot of people won’t get no supper tonightA lot of people won’t get no justice tonightThe battle is gettin’ hotter, In this iration
Triangulation Time….

+ Obama himself, however, has gone quieter than the Lincoln Project bros. Back in their counting houses, counting out their money, I presume…

+ The Lincoln Project raised $67 million. Republican Voters Against Trump raised $10 million. 93% of Republicans voted for Trump in 2020, up from 90% in 2016.

+ After WW II, the US immediately began recruiting “ex”-Nazis to work for OSS and the US missile programs (See: Project Paperclip). Who will Biden pluck from the Trump team for positions in his administration?

+ Pollster Nate Silver is a non-self-correcting entity. He’s like a system flaw in the early MS Windows programs that somehow came to life.

+ Trump’s blistering attacks on FoxNews in recent weeks are merely preparing the way for his takeover of the OANN network, where he will be delivering his daily broadcast from his exile in Turks and Caicos.

+ Russia didn’t manipulate our elections. We could only screw things up this badly ourselves. But increasingly I feel like we’re living out the plot of a Russian novel by Gogol or Goncharov.

+ The second sinking of the Armada: Trump lost 4 of the top 5 states for boat ownership: CA, MI, MN and WI.

+ A top New York Police Department official, accused of posting racist comments online under the name Clouseau, runs the office “combating” workplace harassment. No word on whether the estate of Peter Sellers is bringing suit….

+ Portland cops brutalizing women in the street this week for no explicable reason…


Sergio Olmos@MrOlmos·Nov 5, 2020Replying to @MrOlmos“We got the guillotine you better run”

+ Another reason to Disarm the Police…Disarm the police….With a voice vote, the Baltimore Police were awarded 12 new sniper rifles this week,  at $9,500 per gun. The expenditure was buried among 80-plus pages of spending items before the city’s Board of Estimates.

+ Good riddance! Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who put 23 people on death row, has been defeated by DA-Elect George Gascon, a death penalty opponent who will never put anyone on death row, will never request an execution date, and will work to re-sentence those already on death row.

+ The cost of detaining people in a pandemic: ICE released it year-end report on health care costs for detainees. In 2020, the cost was $315 million, or $25.50 per detainee a day, up from $248M and $13.55 per detainee a day in 2019.

+ Meanwhile, the world continues to spin, ominously…Security forces destroyed 76 structures in the Humsa al Bqai’a Bedouin community. The number of Palestinians made homeless by Israeli house demolitions has already reached a four-year high, with now 869 Palestinians displaced between January and November.

+ In yet more deflating news from AMLOland, Mexico is getting paid to build the (apartheid) wall…

+ Jared the Slumlord’s company is moving swiftly to evict hundreds of renters in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, a pandemic he was in charge of handling for Trump. Kushner’s tenants are among tens of thousands of Americans who face eviction when moratoriums expire in the coming days and weeks.

+ How do you sever ties with someone who owes you $340 million? That’s what Deutsche Bank is trying to figure out…

+ Trump’s final federal income tax bill, year by year, since 2011.

2017 – $750
2016 – $750
2015 – $641,931
2014 – $0
2013 – $0
2012 – $0
2011 – $0

+ The MAGA version of levitating the Pentagon…

alyssa estrada@anenewsWomen just arrived at the Clark County election department. They tell me they’re praying justice will be done and that righteousness prevails.

+ What does Steve Bannon want from Trump’s second term? The heads of Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray on pikes outside the White House as “a warning to other federal bureaucrats.”  He said this while out on bail for federal fraud charges over his border wall scam.

+ Trailing Bannon on the mad dog meter, but not by much, is Newt Gingrich, who showed up on FoxNews to urge Trump to order Bill Barr to arrest Pennsylvania election workers, have the state legislature throw out the election results and appoint their own “electors” for the Electoral College vote.

+ Then there’s this from Glenn Beck. Remember when CNN gave him a show on their Headline News network and years later Samantha Bee tried to rehabilitate him?


Right Wing Watch@RightWingWatchDuring his election night coverage, Glenn Beck floated the possibility that people may have a duty to take up arms and overthrow the government to prevent Democrats from stealing the election and destroying the Constitution.

+ Then along came Gorka: “We need the U.S. Marshals to deploy and they need to break down the doors of those polling stations and stop the crimes being committed!”

+ Imagine, if you will, the federal response to a similar communiqué by Agent Boisenberry broadcast on Radio Antifa….

+ Has John Yoo been hired by Trump to waterboard confessions out of malfeasance out of the election workers in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania?

+ Are they burning their “Fuck Your Feelings” t-shirts? Can I have one?

+ C. Vann Woodward: “Just as the Negro gained his emancipation and new rights through a falling out between white men, he now stood to lose his rights through the reconciliation of white men.”  (The Strange Career of Jim Crow.)

+ Cancel Culture, Bill Barr edition. The Justice Department has seized 27 websites, it says are controlled by Iran. Where is Bari Weiss?

+ This is what your website (the American Herald Tribune in this case), looks like when it’s been taken over by Bill Barr, on suspicion of being backed Iran. Will he soon become seizing websites from the Anarchist Jurisdictions of Portland and the East Village?

+ It turns out, the way that things tend to do, that child sex prosecutions have been way down under Trump. Who will tell Q?

+ Obama helped usher in the Age of the Gig economy and his buddies at Uber and Lyft spent a record $205.7 million to score a decisive win for California’s union-busting Prop. 22, which condemns gig workers to the perilous and unshielded fate of independent contractors.

+ COVID is so rampant in Wisconsin prisons now that one of them is no longer even trying to isolate its positive inmates.  Gov. Evers campaigned on cutting our prison population in half.  I’m told by lawyers in the state that he could do this relatively easily if he really wanted to, but that the Dept. of Corrections hasn’t granted a single petition to release an inmate for medical reasons (or because she’ll be released soon anyways) to reduce the risk of COVID.  Almost all of the state’s prisons are overcrowded.

+ It’s estimated that 1 in 100 French citizens now have COVID. French Health Minister Olivier Véran: “The second wave is here, and it’s brutal.”

+ There were 116,255 new COVID cases reported on Thursday in the US–a 204% increase from only one month ago.

+ A new study on gender differences in COVID-19 attitudes and behavior from 8 countries reveals that women are more concerned about covid infection and are more likely to follow public health advice, contributing to their lower morbidity and mortality rates.

+ According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, more than 61,000 children in the U.S. were diagnosed with Covid-19 last week — more cases than in any other week during the pandemic.

+ CounterPunch Michael McKnight notes the ultimate margin in Georgia is likely to be roughly the number of white seniors who have died in the state, many of them likely following Trump’s cavalier advice about the innocuous nature of the virus and the uselessness of masks and social distancing to their graves….

+ As president of the University of California, Janet Napolitano oversaw the pepper spraying of student protesters by UC-Davis campus police.  As Secretary of DHS under Obama and Biden, she caged children and supervised mass deportations. Now she’s on the board of Zoom…

+ “Extremely active” Atlantic hurricane seasons based on NOAA definition in satellite era (since 1966) are: 1969, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2017 and 2020.

+ Last week ExxonMobil announced it may have to write-off $30 billion in losses tied exclusively to its natural gas fracking business.

+ Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest surged in October and the number of blazes is up by 25% in the first 10 months of 2020, over a year ago, according to data from government space research agency INPE.

+ Don’t be alarmed the scorching temps in the Southwest will start to decline soon after Biden appoints some natural gas executive to run the EPA…

+ Colorado just voted to reintroduce wolves to the Rocky Mountain state, a week after Trump removed them from endangered species list….

+ Best news from a grim week: There’s evidence that reservation dogs are “on the verge of forming a single conscious.” If only the Left could achieve this kind of solidarity.

+ Bo Diddley: “I’m what you call a black Frenchman, a Creole. All my people are from New Orleans–French, African, Indian, all mixed up. That’s where my music comes from, all that mixture.”

And He Walked on Down the Hall…

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Stories I Forgot to Tell You
Dorothy Gallagher
(NYRB)

Tacky’s Revolt: the Story of an Atlantic Slave War
Vincent Brown
(Belknap Press)

She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs
Sarah Smarsh

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

No Tears Suite (For the Little Rock Nine)
Christopher Parker and Kelley Hurt
(Mahakala)

Budapest Concert
Keith Jarrett
(ECM)

Electric Meditations
The Silence
(Drag City)

A Powerful Criminal in the Name of the Law

Judith Butler: “What has always been distinctive of the Trump regime is that the executive power of the government has consistently attacked the laws of the country at the same that he claims to represent law and order. The only way that contradiction makes sense is if law and order are exclusively embodied by him. A peculiarly contemporary form of media-driven narcissism thus morphs into a lethal form of tyranny. The one who represents the legal regime assumes that he is the law, the one who makes and breaks the law as he pleases, and as a result he becomes a powerful criminal in the name of the law.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Roaming Charges: the Fog of Bores

When and How Joe Biden Should Declare Victory

If Pennsylvania goes for Biden, he should move immediately and decisively to declare that Trump has been defeated.

By John NicholsTwitter

biden-portrait-wilmington-november-gty-img

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks on November 5, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Joe Biden is a rule-follower running against a rule-breaker. So, while Donald Trump was busy announcing in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, “Frankly, we did win this election”—when in truth the race was too close to call—Biden counseled caution. Trump’s statement was rated “egregiously false” by fact-checkers. Biden’s statement hit such a proper note that it got compliments even from Republicans for his “patient” but “confident” message.

With each passing hour, however, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Democrat soon will have to cast aside caution.

While anything is possible in so turbulent a political year as 2020, the headlines and TV tickers now read “Biden on Brink of Win” and “Biden…on Brink of White House.” Biden has already won two of the three states that gave Trump an Electoral College advantage and the presidency in 2016—Wisconsin and Michigan—and the long count in the third state, Pennsylvania, is trending in his favor. Where Trump led by over 500,000 votes on Wednesday in Pennsylvania, his advantage had collapsed on Thursday to barely 78,000 votes. The Trump lead has continued to decline as mounds of mail votes are counted in Philadelphia and other Democratic cities. “The Biden people are very confident. The numbers are moving in his direction right now,” says former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, a Republican who has reviewed the data from the Keystone State counties that are still counting. Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey Jr. is blunter. Pointing to the trend lines, Casey declared Thursday afternoon that a Biden win in the state had already become “inevitable.”

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When, exactly? “I can’t make that guesstimate,” said Casey. But he added, “No question, I think, Joe Biden will win the state.”

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If Biden wins Pennsylvania, he wins the presidency.

By Thursday afternoon, Biden was projected as the winner of states with 253 electoral votes, as compared with 213 for Trump. He needs 270 to win. He can get there most quickly and easily via Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes. Or he can go via a combination of states that are still counting—Georgia with 16 electoral votes, North Carolina with 15, Arizona with 11, and Nevada with 6. As of Thursday afternoon, Biden was already ahead in Arizona and Nevada and only narrowly behind in the others. In Georgia, for instance, Trump’s advantage had fallen to less than 10,000 votes.

Biden isn’t going to get ahead of himself. I have covered this man for decades, as a senator, a vice president, and a presidential candidate. I have seen him in triumph and in defeat. After 50 years of bidding for office, he knows when and how a winner gets to declare victory. He will follow the old-school political protocols and wait until the Associated Press has declared him the winner of a sufficient number of states to claim the 270 electoral votes required to take the job from Trump. That’s appropriate and, frankly, appealing in contrast to the petulant president he seeks to replace.

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But if and when the moment of victory comes, the former vice president will need to move quickly and decisively. He can’t afford to leave any opening for Trump to claim that a settled result is somehow uncertain.

Fortunately, Biden and his team appear to recognize this. They’ve been proactive in making statements and gently spinning the narrative in their direction. But when the 270 figure is achieved, the former vice president must make it clear that the transition process has begun. This is about more than launching a transition website, as the Biden campaign has already done. This is about putting an exclamation mark on the decision of the people of the United States to end the presidency of Donald J. Trump.

Even if Trump seeks recounts and mounts legal challenges in states that have declared for the Democrat, even if Trump cries “voter fraud” and refuses to concede, Biden has to be firm enough to control the narrative.

Trump is shameless. On Wednesday, he tweeted, “We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a BIG Trump lead. Additionally, we hereby claim the State of Michigan if, in fact, there was a large number of secretly dumped ballots as has been widely reported!”

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Twitter tagged that announcement with this message: “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.” That was a generous assessment of a delusional set of claims. On Thursday, the president was beside himself, tweeting, “STOP THE FRAUD!” And “All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud. Plenty of proof—just check out the Media. WE WILL WIN! America First!”

“The President is using Twitter to spread disinformation and undermine the integrity of our election,” says Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which with Common Cause has called for Twitter to suspend Trump “to ensure that its platform is not used to attack the foundations of our democracy.”

When the tide turns against him, this president tweets even more outrageously. If past is prologue, Trump and allies like Rudy Giuliani will not hesitate to lie about election results. They will also create confusion by suggesting that the normal processes of recording results—the reviews of provisional ballots, the counting of late-arriving overseas and military ballots, the formal canvassing of the totals, the legal challenges, the recounts where necessary—bar Biden from declaring victory.

The accepted practice is that when the 270 threshold is passed, the winner stakes the claim. Biden should do that immediately, day or night, spelling out how that win was achieve, explaining the contour and character of the count. He did some of that on Wednesday and Thursday in brief statements on the vote counting. He said Wednesday:

Of special significance to me is that we’ve won with the majority of the American people. And every indication is that that majority will grow. We have a popular vote lead of nearly 3 million votes and every indication is that will grow as well.

Indeed, Senator Harris and I are on track to win more votes than any ticket in the history of this country that ever won the presidency and vice presidency. Over 70 million votes. I’m very proud of our campaign. Only three presidential campaigns in the past have defeated an incumbent president. When it’s finished, God willing, we’ll be the fourth. This is a major achievement. This is a major achievement. And it’s been a long and difficult campaign, but it’s been a more difficult time for our country.

Biden can get to the talk of “healing” and “unity” that are another part of the protocols for any presidents-elect. But he will make things less difficult, for himself and for his country, if he fully embraces the will of the people and declares in clear and unequivocal terms that Trump has been defeated.

Posted in USAComments Off on When and How Joe Biden Should Declare Victory

U.S. Foreign Policy is a Failure, Whoever’s President

BY EVE OTTENBERG

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

The world recognizes what U.S. elites don’t: the utter, total American failure to contain Covid-19 has damaged U.S. standing and will do so until the virus is controlled. Meanwhile, regional powers, China and Russia, cooperate and share resources, particularly vaccines. Cuba provides treatments, but the U.S. turns up its nose at Cuban medicine, even if it means more American covid patients die – this, though Cuba’s pharmacopeia for this plague appears superior. China sends doctors and medicines across the globe. Russia opts for sane herd immunity – through vaccination. These countries act like adults. Not a good look for the U.S.

The Obama regime’s deplorable trade and military “pivot to China,” along with its sanctions against high-ranking Russians and Russian energy, financial and defense firms and the Trump regime’s provocations, sanctions and insults aimed at both countries have now born fruit: There is talk of a military alliance between China and Russia. Both countries deny that such is in the offing, but the fact that it is even discussed reveals how effectively U.S. foreign policy has created enemies and united them. Even if they would have drawn closer anyway, China and Russia cannot ignore the advantage of teaming up in the face of U.S. hostility. A more idiotic approach than this hostility is scarcely imaginable. Remember, not too long ago the U.S. had little problem with its chief trading partner, China, and there were even reports some years back of actual military cooperation in Syria between the U.S. and Russia. All that is gone now, dissolved in a fog of deliberate ill-will.

So what are some of the absurd U.S. policies that have reaped this potential whirlwind? An utterly unnecessary trade war with China, with tariffs that were paid, not by China, but by importers and then passed on to American consumers. There is the Trump regime’s assault on China’s technology sector and its attempt to lockout Huawei from the 5G bonanza. Then there are the attacks on Russian business, like its deal to sell natural gas to Germany, attacks in which the U.S. insists Germany buy the much more expensive U.S. product to avoid becoming beholden to Russia. And of course, there are the constant mega-deals involving sales of U.S. weapons to anyone who might oppose China, Russia, North Korea or Iran.

Aggravating these economic assaults, the U.S. navy aggressively patrols the South China Sea, the Black Sea and more and more the Arctic Ocean, where Russia has already been since forever. Russia has a lengthy Siberian coast, making U.S. talk of Russia’s so-called aggressive posture there just plain ludicrous. And now a NATO ally, Turkey, stirs the pot by egging on Azerbaijan in its war against Armenia, which has a defense treaty with Russia. Azerbaijan is famous for the oil fields of Baku.

Never has it been clearer that the U.S. deploys its military might to advance its corporations’ interests, international law be damned. As General Smedley Butler wrote of his military service way back in the early 20th century, he was “a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico…safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank Boys to collect revenues in,” and on and on. Nothing has changed since them. It’s only gotten worse. Indeed now we’re in a position where it is Russia that abides by international law, while the U.S. flouts it, instead following something bogus it calls the “rules of the liberal international order.”

The biggest and most consequential U.S. foreign policy failure involves nuclear weapons. Here the Trump regime has outdone all its predecessors. It withdrew the U.S. from the Intermediate Range Nuclear treaty, which banned land-based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and certain missile launchers and which it first signed in 1987. It withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty, inked in 1992. That agreement allowed aircraft to fly over the signatories’ territory to monitor missile installations.

Trump has also made clear he intends to deep-six the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia, which limits nuclear warheads, nuclear armed bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and missile launchers. The Trump regime has made the ridiculous, treaty-killing demand that China participate in START talks. Why should it? China has 300 nuclear missiles, on a par with countries like the U.K. The U. S. and Russian have 6000 apiece. China’s response? Sure we’ll join START, as soon as the U.S. cuts its arsenal to 300. Naturally that went over like a lead balloon in Washington.

And now, lastly, the white house has urged nations that signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – which just recently received formal UN ratification – to withdraw their approval. The U.S. spouted doubletalk about the TPNW’s dangers, in order to head off international law banning nuclear weapons, just as it has banned – and thus stigmatized – chemical weapons, cluster bombs and germ warfare. Doubtless the Trump regime’s panic over the TPNW derives from its desire to “keep all options on the table” militarily, including the nuclear one.

What is the point here? To make the unthinkable thinkable, to make nuclear war easier to happen. The Pentagon appears delighted. Periodically military bigwigs are quoted praising new smaller nuclear missiles, developed not for deterrence, but for use. Indeed, scrapping deterrence policy – which has, insofar as it posits no first use, arguably been the only thing keeping humanity alive and the planet habitable since the dangerous dawn of the atomic era – has long been the dream of Pentagon promoters of “small, smart nuclear weapons” for “limited” nuclear wars. How these geniuses would control such a move from escalating into a wider nuclear war and planetary holocaust is never mentioned.

Before he assumed office, Trump reportedly shocked his advisors by asking, if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them? Only someone dangerously ignorant or profoundly lacking in basic human morality could ask such a question. Only someone eager to ditch the human-species-saving policy of no-first-strike nuclear deterrence but willing to risk nuclear extinction could flirt with such madness. Later in his presidency, Trump asserted that he could end the war in Afghanistan easily if he wanted, hinting that he meant nukes, but that he did not incline toward murdering 10 million people. Well, thank God for this shred of humanity.

Some assume a Biden presidency would chart a different course, but they may be counting their chickens before they’re hatched. Biden has made very hostile noises about Russia, China and North Korea and has surrounded himself with neo-con hawks. He has so far made no promise to return to the nuclear negotiating table for anything other than START. Would he try to resuscitate the INF and Open Skies treaties? Would he end Trump regime blather aimed at scotching TPNW? Maybe. Or he may have imbibed so much anti-Russia and anti-China poison that he, like Trump, sees the absence of treaties as a green light for nuclear aggression.

Biden’s official Foreign Policy Plan says that he regards the purpose of nuclear weapons as deterrence, thus endorsing this at best very flawed compromise for survival. That he, apparently unlike Trump, abjures a nuclear first strike is a huge relief, but how long will it last? The Pentagon has been very persuasive over many decades of center-right rule and there is no reason to assume that it will suddenly adopt a hands-off policy with Biden just because he favors nuclear deterrence. Some military-industrial-complex sachems regard the no-first-use principle as a mistake. Also, remember, Obama okayed a trillion-dollar nuclear arms upgrade. Biden was his vp. What about that? This is no minor, petty concern. Russia is armed to the teeth with supersonic nuclear weapons and China has concluded from U.S. belligerence that it better arm up too. We are in dangerous waters here. Let’s hope they don’t become radioactive.

Posted in USAComments Off on U.S. Foreign Policy is a Failure, Whoever’s President

The Election and the Empire

BY RON JACOBS

Photograph Source: Cpl. Theodore W. Ritchie, U.S. Marine Corps – Public Domain

When examining the activities of the US military it is essential to maintain the long view. In other words, despite the practice of looking at Pentagon activities in four-year spans that approximate the terms of the US president, the reality is that the military operates on its own timeline. This doesn’t mean that what happens in the legislative and executive arenas doesn’t affect the actions of the military. However, it does mean that troop movements, wars, and weapons procurement have a trajectory of their own. Nothing in the modern world proves this more than the decades-long conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both nations have been the site of military conflict involving US forces for quite a while—since the late 1970s in the case of Afghanistan and since 1991 in Iraq. Those forces include CIA operatives, US military Special Forces like the Green Berets, SEALS, and Rangers, regular troops and private mercenaries contracted by the Pentagon.

Besides these two countries, there are other places on the globe where the United States military presence is a hostile one. These include the Persian Gulf, where the US Navy maintains a large and constant presence, southern Korea, and some nations in Central and South America, and various nations on the African continent. In addition, tens of thousands of US forces are also stationed under friendlier conditions in Europe, Japan, and other Latin American countries. The presence of troops in the latter areas is usually related to the perceived need to keep so-called enemies at bay: Russia in Europe, Venezuela and Bolivia in South America, Nicaragua and Cuba in Central America. Even a superficial examination of the global situation shows that none of those nations are enemies. They are, however, either competitors for certain markets and resources or, in the case of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Iran, and possibly Nicaragua, examples of an alternative form of governance that is not beholden to the US empire.

Since Donald Trump ended up in the White House, some have insisted that he is some kind of antiwar president. They point to the fact that he has not started any new wars and has even withdrawn some regular forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan (most were then transferred to another theater overseas). These same people fail to acknowledge the increase in civilian deaths from US-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, just like they ignore the presence of at least one US military base in Syria—a nation the US was not invited into and whose civil war is arguably the result of ongoing covert US intervention in the internal politics of that country that intensified in 2011, when Obama was president and protests shook the Arab world. Tangentially, these same champions of Trump’s military policies seem to have forgotten his aggressive actions against Iran (most notably the assassination of Suleiman) and the murderous bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabian forces flying US-made bombers dropping US-made bombs. In addition to the bombers, US forces operate on the ground in Yemen in support of the Saudi bombing.

If one shifts their focus to the United States’ south, not only will they discover that US Navy ships regularly harass oil tankers carrying oil to and from that nation, they will also see that hundreds of US troops and intelligence operatives are based in Colombia. Although the role these forces play in subverting the popularly elected Venezuelan government is not exactly known, it is safe to assume it is part of the ongoing US attempt to overthrow the Bolivarian governments in Caracas and La Paz (where the 2019 coup was soundly defeated in recent elections, but where the possibility of another right-wing coup looms large.)

According to the Pentagon’s Defense Manpower Center, the Pentagon has regular troops in more than 150 countries around the world, with approximately 165,000 of its active-duty personnel permanently assigned outside the United States and its territories. (Defense Manpower Data Center. August 7, 2020) These numbers do not include those troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, there are around forty thousand special forces troops on classified missions in places kept secret from the people of the United States. Like a young friend of mine recently rotated out of the army told me: that means the United States has forty thousand troops trained to kick ass and kill people doing exactly that with little or no responsibility to the citizens of the countries they are in or to the citizens of the United States. He continued, telling me even good people who don’t like to beat or kill innocent people end up doing exactly that in such circumstances. Other acquaintances either in the military or recently dismissed have discussed their work in African nations setting up drone bases, conducting night time searches of homes where people were sound asleep, and arresting boys as young as ten for being in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”

When Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the wars conducted were called low-intensity conflicts. It seems obvious that these conflicts were not of very low intensity in the regions where they took place. Indeed, tens of thousands of Nicaraguan, El Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran civilians and others lost their lives because of US financial and military involvement. There was also the acknowledged use of US combat troops during the brief and gratuitous invasion of Grenada. As for the rest of the world, Reagan’s war cabinet financed, advised and participated in the war against Soviet and Afghan government forces in Afghanistan. Equally important, expenditures on weaponry doubled in Reagan’s first four years in office and did not slow down during his final term. Although the conflicts in Central America had subsided by the time ex-CIA chief George HW Bush became president in 1988, the US support for Iraq’s bloody war with Iran had convinced Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that he had leeway to invade Kuwait. Before that invasion, Papa Bush invaded Panama and captured its leader. It’s fair to assume that this action was linked to Bush’s complicity in cocaine smuggling operations and the end of the Panama Canal Treaty. Going back to Iraq and Kuwait, it’s obvious Hussein was wrong. Papa Bush ordered tens of thousands of US troops into the region and on January 16, 1991, attacked Baghdad and other cities in Iraq. This began the ongoing occupation, intimidation and war in Iraq. Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House was relatively free of military action. However, besides lobbing cruise missiles into Iraq and Sudan, it was the US Air Force which conducted flyovers of Iraqi territory and bombed the nations at least a dozen times. All of that was just a prelude to the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the George W. Bush White House. As noted at the beginning of this piece, both of those conflicts continue. In fact, Bush’s Global War on Terror is now a catchall for any offensive military operation by US forces. Barack Obama used its rationale to kill hundreds via weaponized drones. It was during his administration US forces were sent to Libya and Syria, along with other places known and unknown. Donald Trump has not changed this scenario much if at all. In addition, the buildup for a potential war with Russia or China continues. Recently, Secretary of State Pompeo discussed a new agreement with the Greek government to build a naval base on Crete. A likely reason for this base is as part of an ongoing US plan to bring back a strategy from between the last two world wars that would create an alliance of countries reaching from the Baltic Sea over the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, with Poland as a primary member. Known as the Intermarium, this alliance would serve as an alternative power bloc between Germany and Russia. This might help explain the growing presence of the US military in Poland. (“Intermarium in the 21st Century. A New Path for Europe?” ; Cohen, Nick; November 2019; accessed 11/2/2020)

The purpose of the timeline above is to accentuate the fact that the United States is a war making nation. Even during periods when there are few if any military conflicts, Washington is rearming itself. This is the meaning of the huge increase in military expenditures during Reagan’s presidency. A similar situation existed under Trump; military budgets increased dynamically every year of his tenure, with most increases going towards weapons manufacture. His role, like the role of a so many presidents before him, was to maintain and expand the US arsenal, which in turn is used to maintain and expand the US Empire.

The election, however it turns out, is not going to change this. We all know the capitalists and their governments will do anything to protect capitalism. The only possible restraint on the continuation of the wars mentioned here and any future conflicts is a consistent and vocal antiwar sentiment is organized outside of the two major political parties—both of which are singular in purpose when it comes to the Pentagon and the empire. Building this movement to express it is not only a good idea, it is essential to resolving the multitude of other troubles facing the human race.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Election and the Empire

Ending the Nuclear Age

BY OLIVIA ALPERSTEIN

With all the urgent global crises right now, from climate change to the Covid-19 pandemic, it may seem as though the world is hovering on the edge of destruction. But despite the odds, humanity just took a major step back from the brink.

On October 24, the historic U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (a.k.a. the nuclear ban), officially received its fiftieth ratification, clearing the threshold to enter into force. Nuclear weapons make the world less, not more, safe, and with this critical milestone, they will now be treated as prohibited weapons of mass destruction.

None of the nuclear-armed nations are parties to this treaty, and although it will carry the force of law, the country with the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, the United States, has not only announced that it won’t abide by the treaty but has actively encouraged other nations to withdraw their ratifications.

That should come as no surprise. The United States remains the only nation in the world to have used nuclear weapons in an act of war, and the current administration has shown a frightening willingness to risk future nuclear conflict.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Now is the perfect time for the United States to recognize the spirit of the nuclear ban treaty and take concrete steps towards not only preventing the future use of nuclear weapons, but also reducing and eliminating our nuclear arsenal.

We’ve come within minutes of nuclear war in the past, and we all have a vested interest in preventing the end of humanity as we know it. Famine and a global plummet in temperatures due to fallout in the event of a nuclear strike would result in the death of millions. As the late President Ronald Reagan said, “A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”

Yet, 75 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, under the Trump administration, we’ve withdrawn from most international treaties that reduce or limit the potential for nuclear war and we’re now considering re-engaging in live nuclear testing for the first time in decades.

Like the scheming villain in a James Bond movie bent on the destruction of humanity, the United States is happily reheating the Cold War and seeking to further destabilize the precarious hard-won international agreements that have thus far prevented us from engaging in a future nuclear conflict. Several generations of communities around the United States are still dealing with the fallout of nuclear testing and nuclear storage facilities from our bid to win the nuclear arms race.

Our nation has been locked in the world’s most idiotic game of chicken for decades, and it’s putting all our lives at risk.

I’m a millennial, part of a younger generation that will inherit a world full of nuclear weapons, enough to destroy the earth thousands of times over. I’m one of many young people around the world who refuse to accept that status quo, who recognize that nuclear weapons pose one of the gravest existential threats to humanity.

In the past, the United States recognized the horrors that nuclear war could bring and took concrete steps to prevent a future nuclear conflict. We can do so again.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, we’re currently at just 100 seconds to midnight, thanks in part to the Trump administration’s reckless, systematic dismantling and undermining of vital international arms control agreements. The United States can play a major role in turning back the clock. Our government owes it to Americans and to other nations to do so

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Artsarkh accuses the Nazi regime of complicity in preparing genocide

On 11 October 2020, the president of the self-proclaimed Artsakh Republic, Arayik Harutyunyan (photo), accused the Jewish Nazi regime of having actively participated in the “4-day war”in 2016 and of being involved, with full knowledge of the facts, in the one being carried out in 2020.

According to him, the suicidal intent of Turkey and Azerbaijan is incontrovertible as regards the systematic mass murder perpetrated by the populations of those two states in 1894-95 and again in 1915-23 against non-Muslims and the Armenian Orthodox community, in particular.

The Nazi regime supplied arms to Azerbaijan three days before the outbreak of hostilities, with another delivery taking place three days after the start of the war [1]. At present, Nazi officers are instructing the Azerbaijani army on the handling of the weapons.

For President Harutyunyan, the Nazi state, which boasts to be a haven for the survivors of the “final solution”, cannot overlook the genocide that is currently in the making. If the Nazi regime claims to want to prevent another genocie were sincere, she would immediately withdraw from the conflict.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, Armenia, Azerbaijan, PoliticsComments Off on Artsarkh accuses the Nazi regime of complicity in preparing genocide


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