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Topic Summary

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 13, 2018, 09:16:47 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: Pentagon response to the following 100% factual article:


The Political Economy of the Weapons Industry: Guess who’s sleeping with our insecurity blanket

by Joan Roelofs, Counterpunch 25:3, 16-22 (2018) republished August 7, 2018

For many people the “military-industrial-complex (MIC)” brings to mind the top twenty weapons manufacturers. President Dwight Eisenhower, who warned about it in 1961, wanted to call it the military-industrial-congressional-complex, but decided it was not prudent to do so. Today it might well be called the military-industrial-congressional-almost-everything-complex. Most departments and levels of government, businesses, and also many charities, social service, environmental, and cultural organizations, are deeply embedded with the military.

The weapons industry may be spearheading the military budget and military operations; it is aided immensely by the cheering or silence of citizens and their representatives. Here we will provide some likely reasons for that assent. We will use the common typology of three national sectors: government, business, and nonprofit, with varying amounts of interaction among them. This does not preclude, though it masks somewhat, the proposition that government is the executive of the ruling class.

Every kind of business figures in the Department of Defense (DoD) budget. Lockheed is currently the largest contractor in the weapons business. It connects with the worldwide MIC by sourcing parts, for example, for the F-35 fighter plane, from many countries. This helps a lot to market the weapon, despite its low opinion among military experts as well as anti-military critics. Lockheed also does civilian work, which enhances its aura while it spreads its values.

Other types of businesses have enormous multi-year contracts—in the billions. This despite the constitutional proviso that Congress not appropriate military funds for more than a two year term. Notable are the construction companies, such as Fluor, KBR, Bechtel, and Hensel Phelps. These build huge bases, often with high tech surveillance or operational capacity, in the US and abroad, where they hire locals or commonly, third country nationals to carry out the work. There are also billion-funded contractors in communications technology, intelligence analysis, transportation, logistics, food, and clothing. “Contracting out” is our modern military way; this also spreads its influence far and wide.

Medium, small, and tiny businesses dangle from the “Christmas tree” of the Pentagon, promoting popular cheering or silence on the military budget. These include special set-asides for minority-owned and small businesses. A Black-owned small business, KEPA-TCI (construction), received contracts for $356 million.  [Data comes from several sources, available free on the internet: websites, tax forms, and annual reports of organizations; usaspending.gov (USA) and governmentcontractswon.com (GCW).] Major corporations of all types serving our services have been excellently described in Nick Turse’s The Complex. Really small and tiny businesses are drawn into the system: landscapers, dry cleaners, child care centers, and Come-Bye Goose Control of Maryland.

Among the businesses with large DoD contracts are book publishers: McGraw-Hill, Greenwood, Scholastic, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, Elsevier, and others. Rarely have the biases in this industry, in fiction, nonfiction, and textbook offerings, been examined. Yet the influences on this small but significant population, the reading public, and the larger schooled contingent, may help explain the silence of the literate crowd and college graduates.

Much of what is left of organized industrial labor is in weapons manufacture. Its PACs fund the few “progressive” candidates in our political system, who tend to be silent about war and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Unlike other factories, the armaments makers do not suddenly move overseas, although they do use subcontractors worldwide.

Military spending may be only about 6% of the GDP, yet it has great impact because: 1. it is a growing sector; 2. it is recession-proof; 3. it does not rely on consumer whims; 4. it is the only thing prospering in many areas; and 5. the “multiplier” effect: subcontracting, corporate purchasing, and employee spending perk up the regional economy. It is ideally suited to Keynesian remedies, because of its ready destruction and obsolescence: what isn’t consumed in warfare, rusted out, or donated to our friends still needs to be replaced by the slightly more lethal thing. Many of our science graduates work for the military directly or its contractee labs concocting these.

The military’s unbeatable weapon is jobs, and all members of Congress, and state and local officials, are aware of this. It is where well-paying jobs are found for mechanics, scientists, and engineers; even janitorial workers do well in these taxpayer-rich firms. Weaponry is also important in our manufactured goods exports as our allies are required to have equipment that meets our specifications. Governments, rebels, terrorists, pirates, and gangsters all fancy our high tech and low tech lethal devices.

Our military economy also yields a high return on investments. These benefit not only corporate executives and other rich, but many middle and working class folk, as well as churches, benevolent, and cultural organizations. The lucrative mutual funds offered by Vanguard, Fidelity, and others are heavily invested in the weapons manufacturers.

Individual investors may not know what is in their fund’s portfolios; the institutions usually know. A current project of World Beyond War advocates divestment of military stocks in the pension funds of state and local government workers: police, firepersons, teachers, and other civil servants. Researchers are making a state-by-state analysis of these funds. Among the findings are the extensive military stock holdings of CALpers, the California Public Employees Retirement System (the sixth largest pension fund on earth), the California State Teachers Retirement System, the New York State Teachers Retirement System, the New York City Employees Retirement System, and the New York State Common Retirement Fund (state and local employees). Amazing! the New York City teachers were once the proud parents of red diaper babies.

The governmental side of the MIC complex goes far beyond the DoD. In the executive branch, Departments of State, Homeland Security, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Interior; and CIA, AID, FBI, NASA, and other agencies; are permeated with military projects and goals. Even the Department of Agriculture has a joint program with the DoD to “restore” Afghanistan by creating a dairy cattle industry. No matter that the cattle and their feed must be imported,  cattle cannot graze in the terrain as the native sheep and goats can, there is no adequate transportation or refrigeration, and the Afghans don’t normally drink milk. The native animals provide yogurt, butter, and wool, and graze on the rugged slopes, but that is all so un-American.

Congress is a firm ally of the military. Campaign contributions from contractor PACs are generous, and lobbying is extensive. So also are the outlays of financial institutions, which are heavily invested in the MIC. Congresspeople have significant shares of weapons industry stocks. To clinch the deal, members of Congress (and also state and local lawmakers) are well aware of the economic importance of military contracts in their states and districts.

Military bases, inside the US as well as worldwide, are an economic hub for communities. The DoD lists more than 4,000 domestic properties. Some are bombing ranges or recruiting stations; perhaps 400 are bases with a major impact on their localities. The largest of these, Fort Bragg, NC, is a city unto itself, and a cultural influence as well as economic asset to its region, as so well described by Catherine Lutz in Homefront. California has about 40 bases, and is home to major weapons makers as well. Officers generally live off-base, so the real estate, restaurant, retail, auto repair, hotel and other businesses are prospering. Local civilians find employment on bases. Closed, unconvertible installations are sometimes tourist attractions, such as the unlikeliest of all vacation spots, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

DoD has direct contracts and grants with state and local governments. These are for various projects and services, including large amounts to fund the National Guard. The Army Engineers maintain swimming holes and parks, and police forces get a deal on Bearcats. JROTC programs nationwide provide funding for public schools, and even more for those that are public school military academies; six are in Chicago.

National, state and local governments are well covered by the “insecurity blanket;” the nonprofit sector is not neglected. Nevertheless, it does harbor the very small group of anti-war organizations, such as Iraq Veterans Against War, Veterans for Peace, World Beyond War, Peace Action, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for International Policy, Catholic Worker, Answer Coalition, and others. Yet unlike the Vietnam War period there is no vocal group of religious leaders protesting war, and the few students who are politically active are more concerned with other issues.

Nonprofit organizations and institutions are involved several ways. Some are obviously partners of the MIC: Boy and Girl Scouts, Red Cross, veterans’ charities, military think-tanks such as RAND and Institute for Defense Analysis, establishment think-tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, Atlantic Council, and the flagship of US world projection, the Council on Foreign Relations. There are also many international nongovernmental organizations that assist the US government in delivering “humanitarian” assistance, sing the praises of the market economy, or attempt to repair the “collateral” damage inflicted on lands and people, for example, Mercy Corps, Open Society Institutes, and CARE.

Educational institutions in all sectors are embedded with the military. The military schools include the service academies, National Defense University, Army War College, Naval War College, Air Force Institute of Technology, Air University, Defense Acquisition University, Defense Language Institute, Naval Postgraduate School, Defense Information School, the medical school, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the notorious School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. “In addition, Senior Military Colleges offer a combination of higher education with military instruction. SMCs include Texas A&M University, Norwich University, The Virginia Military Institute, The Citadel, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), University of North Georgia and the Mary Baldwin Women’s Institute for Leadership.”

A university doesn’t have to be special to be part of the MIC. Most are awash with contracts, ROTC programs, and/or military officers and contractors on their boards of trustees. A study of the 100 most militarized universities includes prestigious institutions, as well as diploma mills that produce employees for military intelligence agencies and contractors.

Major liberal foundations have long been the “Sinews of Empire,” engaging in covert and overt operations to support imperial projection. They have been close associates of the Central Intelligence Agency, and were important in its instigation. The foundation created and supported Council on Foreign Relations has long been a link among Wall Street, large corporations, academia, the media, and our foreign and military policymakers.

Less obvious are the military connections of philanthropic, cultural, social service, environmental, and professional organizations. They are linked through donations; joint programs; sponsorship of events, exhibits, and concerts; awards (both ways); investments; boards of directors; top executives; and contracts. The data here covers approximately the last twenty years, and rounds out the reasons for the astounding support (according to the polls) that US citizens have conferred on our military, its budget, and its operations.

Military contractor philanthropy was the subject of previous reports, in 2006 and 2016. Every type of nonprofit (as well as public schools and universities) received support from the major weapons manufacturers; some findings were outstanding. Minority organizations were extremely well endowed. For many years there was crucial support for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from Lockheed; Boeing also funded the Congressional Black Caucus. The former president and CEO of the NAACP, Bruce Gordon, is now on the Board of Trustees of Northrop Grumman.

General Electric is the most generous military contractor philanthropist, with direct grants to organizations and educational institutions, partnerships with both, and matching contributions made by its thousands of employees. The latter reaches many of the nongovernmental and educational entities throughout the country.

Major donors to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (listed in its 2016 Annual Report) include the Defense Intelligence Agency, Cisco Systems, Open Society Foundations, US Department of Defense, General Electric, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Lockheed Martin. This is an echo of the CEIP’s military connections reported in Horace Coon’s book of the 1930s, Money to Burn.

The DoD itself donates surplus property to organizations; among those eligible are Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League Baseball, and United Service Organizations. The Denton Program allows non-governmental organizations to use extra space on U.S. military cargo aircraft to transport humanitarian assistance materials.

There is a multitude of joint programs and sponsorships. Here is a small sample.

The American Association of University Women’s National Tech Savvy Program encourages girls to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers, with sponsorship from Lockheed, BAE Systems, and Boeing. Junior Achievement, sponsored by Bechtel, United Technologies, and others, aims to train children in market-based economics and entrepreneurship. Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is partnered with Northrop Grumman for an “early childhood STEM ‘Learning through the Arts’ initiative for pre-K and kindergarten students.” The Bechtel Foundation has two programs for a “sustainable California”— an education program to help “young people develop the knowledge, skills, and character to explore and understand the world,” and an environmental program to promote the “management, stewardship and conservation for the state’s natural resources.”

The NAACP ACT-SO is a “yearlong enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students,” with sponsorship from Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman et al. The national winners receive financial awards from major corporations, college scholarships, internships, and apprenticeships—in the military industries.

In recent years the weapons makers have become enthusiastic environmentalists. Lockheed was a sponsor of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation Sustainability Forum in 2013. Northrop Grumman supports Keep America Beautiful, National Public Lands Day, and a partnership with Conservation International and the Arbor Day Foundation (for forest restoration). United Technologies is the founding sponsor of the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools, and co-creator of the Sustainable Cities Design Academy. Tree Musketeers is a national youth environmental organization partnered by Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

Awards go both ways: industries give awards to nonprofits, and nonprofits awards to military industries and people. United Technologies, for its efforts in response to climate change, was on Climate A list of the Climate Disclosure Project. The Corporate Responsibility Association gave Lockheed position 8 in 2016 in its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. Points of Light included General Electric and Raytheon in its 2014 list of the 50 Most Community-Minded Companies in America. Harold Koh, the lawyer who as Obama’s advisor defended drone strikes and intervention in Libya, was recently given distinguished visiting professor status by Phi Beta Kappa. In 2017, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility recognized 34 Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers; 3 were executives in the weapons industry. Elizabeth Amato, an executive at United Technologies, received the YWCA Women Achievers Award.

Despite laborious searching through tax form 990s, it is difficult to discover the specifics of organizations’ investments. Many have substantial ones; in 2006, the American Friends Service Committee had $3.5 million in revenue from investments. Human Rights Watch reported $3.5 million investment income on its 2015 tax form 990, and more than $107 million in endowment funds.

One of the few surveys of nonprofit policies (by Commonfund in 2012) found that only 17% of foundations used environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in their investments. ESG seems to have replaced “socially responsible investing (SRI)” in investment terminology, and it has a somewhat different slant. The most common restriction is the avoidance of companies doing business in regions with conflict risk; the next relates to climate change and carbon emissions; employee diversity is also an important consideration. Commonfund’s study of charities, social service and cultural organizations reported that 70% of their sample did not consider ESG in their investment policies. Although 61% of religious organizations did employ ESG criteria, only 16% of social service organizations and 3% of cultural organizations did.

Weapon industries are hardly ever mentioned in these reports. Religious organizations sometimes still used the SRI investment screens, but the most common were alcohol, gambling, pornography, and tobacco. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a resource for churches, lists almost 30 issues for investment consideration, including executive compensation, climate change, and opioid crisis, but none concerning weapons or war. The United Church (UCC) advisory, a pioneer in SRI investment policies, does include a screen: only companies should be chosen which have less than 10% revenue from alcohol or gambling, 1% from tobacco, 10% from conventional weapons and 5% from nuclear weapons.

The Art Institute of Chicago states on their website that “[W]ith the fiduciary responsibility to maximize returns on investment consistent with appropriate levels of risk, the Art Institute maintains a strong presumption against divesting for social, moral, or political reasons.” Listed as an associate is Honeywell International, and a major benefactor is the Crown Family (General Dynamics), which recently donated a $2 million endowment for a Professorship in Painting and Drawing.

Nonprofit institutions (as well as individuals and pension funds of all sectors) have heavy investments in the funds of financial companies such as State Street, Vanguard, BlackRock, Fidelity, CREF, and others, which have portfolios rich in military industries. These include information technology firms, which, although often regarded as “socially responsible,” are among the major DoD contractors.

In recent years foundations and other large nonprofits, such as universities, have favored investments in hedge funds, real estate, derivatives, and private equity. The Carnegie Endowment, more “transparent” than most, lists such funds on its 2015 tax form 990 (Schedule D Part VII). It is unlikely that Lockheed, Boeing, et al, are among the distressed debt bonanzas, so these institutions may be low on weapons stock. Nevertheless, most of them have firm connections to the MIC through donations, leadership, and/or contracts.

Close association with the military among nonprofit board members and executives works to keep the lid on anti-war activities and expression. The Aspen Institute is a think-tank that has resident experts, and also a policy of convening with activists, such as anti-poverty community leaders. Its Board of Trustees is chaired by James Crown, who is also a director of General Dynamics. Among other board members are Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Javier Solana (former Secretary-General of NATO), and former Congresswoman Jane Harman. Harman “received the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Service in 1998, the CIA Seal Medal in 2007, and the CIA Director’s Award and the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2011. She is currently a member of the Director of National Intelligence’s Senior Advisory Group, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.” Lifetime Aspen Trustees include Lester Crown and Henry Kissinger.

In recent years, the Carnegie Corporation board of trustees included Condoleezza Rice and General Lloyd Austin III (Ret.), Commander of CENTCOM, a leader in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and also a board member of United Technologies. A former president of Physicians for Peace (not the similarly named well-known group) is Rear Admiral Harold Bernsen, formerly Commander of the US Middle East Force and not a physician.

TIAA, the college teachers’ retirement fund, had a CEO from 1993-2002, John H. Biggs, who was at the same time a director of Boeing. TIAA’s current board of directors includes an associate of a major military research firm, MITRE Corporations, and several members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Its senior executive Vice President, Rahul Merchant, is currently also a director at two information technology firms that have large military contracts: Juniper Networks and AASKI.

The American Association of Retired Persons’ chief lobbyist from 2002-2007, Chris Hansen, had previously served in that capacity at Boeing. The current VP of communications at Northrop Grumman, Lisa Davis, held that position at AARP from 1996-2005.

Board members and CEOs of the major weapons corporations serve on the boards of many nonprofits. Just to indicate the scope, these include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, New York Public Library, Carnegie Hall Society, Conservation International, Wolf Trap Foundation, WGBH, Boy Scouts, Newport Festival Foundation, Toys for Tots, STEM organizations, Catalyst, the National Science Center, the US Institute of Peace, and many foundations and universities.

The DoD promotes the employment of retired military officers as board members or CEOs of nonprofits, and several organizations and degree programs further this transition. U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Eden Murrie (Ret.) is now Director of Government Transformation and Agency Partnerships at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. She maintains that “[F]ormer military leaders have direct leadership experience and bring talent and integrity that could be applied in a nonprofit organization. . .”  Given the early retirement age, former military personnel (and reservists) are a natural fit for positions of influence in federal, state, and local governments, school boards, nonprofits, and volunteer work; many are in those places.

Perhaps the coziest relationships under the insecurity blanket are the multitudes of contracts and grants the Department of Defense tenders to the nonprofit world. DoD fiscal reporting is notoriously inaccurate, and there were conflicting accounts between and within the online databases. Nevertheless, even a fuzzy picture gives a good idea of the depth and scope of the coverage.

From their 2016 Annual Report: “The Nature Conservancy is an organization that takes care of people and land, and they look for opportunities to partner. They’re nonpolitical. We need nongovernment organizations like TNC to help mobilize our citizens. They are on the ground. They understand the people, the politics, the partnerships. We need groups like TNC to subsidize what government organizations can’t do.” Mamie Parker, Former Assistant Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arkansas Trustee, The Nature Conservancy.

Among the subsidies going the other way are 44 DoD contracts with TNC totaling several million for the years 2008-2018 (USA). These are for such services as Prairie Habitat Reforestation, $100,000, and Runway and Biosecurity upkeep at Palmyra Atoll, HI, $82,000 (USA). For the years 2000-2016, GCW lists a total of $5,500,000 in TNC’s DoD contracts.

Grants to TNC for specific projects, not clearly different from contracts, were much larger. Each is listed separately (USA); a rough count of the total was more than $150 million. One $55 million grant was for “Army compatible use buffer (acubs) in vicinity of Fort Benning military installation.” Similar grants, the largest, $14 million, were for this service at other bases. Another was for the implementation of Fort Benning army installation’s ecological monitoring plan. Included in the description of these grants was the notice: “Assist State and local governments to mitigate or prevent incompatible civilian land use/activity that is likely to impair the continued operational utility of a Department of Defense (DoD) military installation. Grantees and participating governments are expected to adopt and implement the study recommendations.”

TNC’s Form 990 for 2017 states its investment income as $21 million. It reported government grants of $108.5 million, and government contracts of $9 million. These may include funds from state and local as well as all departments of the federal government. The Department of the Interior, which manages the vast lands used for bombing ranges and live ammunition war games, is another TNC grantor.

Other environmental organizations sustained by DoD contracts are the National Audubon Society ($945,000 for 6 years, GCW), and Point Reyes Bird Observatory ($145,000, 6 years, GCW). USA reports contracts with Stichting Deltares, a Dutch coastal research institute, for $550,000 in 2016, grants to the San Diego Zoo of $367,000, and to the Institute for Wildlife Studies, $1.3 million for shrike monitoring.

Goodwill Industries (training and employing the disabled, ex-offenders, veterans, and homeless people) is an enormous military contractor. Each entity is a separate corporation, based on state or region, and the total receipt is in the billions. For example, for 2000-2016 (GCW), Goodwill of South Florida had $434 million and Southeastern Wisconsin $906 million in contracts. Goods and services provided include food and logistics support, records processing, army combat pants, custodial, security, mowing, and recycling. Similar organizations working for the DoD include the Jewish Vocational Service and Community Workshop, janitorial services, $12 million over 5 years; Lighthouse for the Blind, $4.5 million, water purification equipment; Ability One; National Institute for the Blind; Pride Industries; and Melwood Horticultural Training Center.

The DoD does not shun the work of Federal Prison Industries, which sells furniture and other products. A government corporation (and thus not a nonprofit), it had half a billion in sales to all federal departments in 2016. Prison labor, Goodwill Industries and other sheltered-workshop enterprises, along with for-profits employing immigrant workers, teenagers, retirees, and migrant workers (who grow food for the military and the rest of us), reveal the evolving nature of the US working class, and some explanation for its lack of revolutionary fervor, or even mild dissent from the capitalist system.

The well-paid, and truly diverse employees (including executives) of major weapons makers are also not about to construct wooden barricades. Boards of directors in these industries are welcoming to minorities and women. The CEOs of Lockheed and General Dynamics are women, as is the Chief Operating Officer of Northrop Grumman. These success stories reinforce personal aspirations among the have-nots, rather than questioning the system.

Contracts with universities, hospitals, and medical facilities are too numerous to detail here; one that illustrates how far the blanket stretches is with Oxford University, $800,000 for medical research. Professional associations with significant contracts include the Institute of International Education, American Council on Education, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, National Academy of Sciences, Society of Women Engineers, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Society of Mexican-American Engineers, and U.S. Green Building Council. The Council of State Governments (a nonprofit policy association of officials) received a $193,000 contract for “preparedness” work. Let us hope we are well prepared.

The leaders, staff, members, donors, and volunteers of nonprofit organizations are the kind of people who might have been peace activists, yet so many are smothered into silence under the vast insecurity blanket.

In addition to all the direct and indirect beneficiaries of the military establishment, many people with no connection still cheer it on. They have been subject to relentless propaganda for the military and its wars from the government, the print and digital press, TV, movies, sports shows, parades, and computer games—the latter teach children that killing is fun.

The indoctrination goes down easily. It has had a head start in the educational system that glorifies the violent history of the nation. Our schools are full of in-house tutoring, STEM programs, and fun robotics teams personally conducted by employees of the weapons makers. Young children may not understand all the connections, but they tend to remember the logos. The JROTC programs, imparting militaristic values, enroll far more children than the ones who will become future officers. The extremely well-funded recruitment efforts in schools include “fun” simulations of warfare.

There is a worldwide supporting cast for the complex that includes NATO, other alliances, defense ministries, foreign military industries, and bases, but that is a story for another day.

The millions sheltered under our thick and broad blanket, including the enlistees under the prickly part of it, are not to blame. Some people may be thrilled by the idea of death and destruction. However, most are just trying to earn a living, keep their organization or rust belt afloat, or be accepted into polite company. They would prefer constructive work or income from healthy sources. Yet many have been indoctrinated to believe that militarism is normal and necessary. For those who consider change to be essential if life on this planet has a chance at survival, it is important to see all the ways that the military-industrial-congressional-almost everything-complex is being sustained.

            “Free market economy” is a myth. In addition to the huge nonprofit (non-market) sector, government intervention is substantial, not only in the gigantic military, but in agriculture, education, health care, infrastructure, economic development (!), et al. For the same trillions we could have a national economy that repairs the environment, provides a fine standard of living and cultural opportunities for all, and works for peace on earth.

 

Joan Roelofs is Professor Emerita of Political Science, Keene State College, New Hampshire. She is the author of Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (SUNY Press, 2003) and Greening Cities (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996). She is the translator of Victor Considerant’s Principles of Socialism (Maisonneuve Press, 2006), and with Shawn P. Wilbur, of Charles Fourier’s anti-war fantasy, The World War of Small Pastries (Autonomedia, 2015). A community education short course on the military industrial complex is on her website, and may be used for similar purposes.


Web site: www.joanroelofs.wordpress.com Contact: joan.roelofs@myfairpoint.net

 https://worldbeyondwar.org/the-political-economy-of-the-weapons-industry-guess-whos-sleeping-with-our-insecurity-blanket/

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 09, 2018, 09:35:46 pm »


Trump 🦀 Ally Rep. Chris Collins 😈 Arrested for Insider Trading – Is the Swamp Drained Now?

August 9, 2018

White collar criminologist Bill Black analyzes the significance of Rep. Chris Collins arrest for insider trading along with his son and son’s fiance’s father on 13 counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, and making false statements to the FBI.

Collins was first Congressman to endorse Trump and is one of his closest confidants


https://therealnews.com/stories/trump-ally-rep-chris-collins-arrested-for-insider-trading-is-the-swamp-drained-now

Agelbert NOTE: This is just the tip of the Trump "iceberg" .

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: August 05, 2018, 05:55:16 pm »

Do Major Corporations Pay a Lot in Income Tax?


The nation's top CEOs get richer, while the U.S. government loses out, at least according to the Institute for Policy Studies. The think tank reviewed tax and personal financial information from 2010 and found that at least 25 U.S. companies paid their CEOs more in total compensation than the firms themselves paid in corporate income taxes.  >:(

In fact, while the CEOs earned an average of $16.7 million USD each, their businesses received an average of $304 million in tax refunds from the federal government.

Among the widest discrepancies:

John Lundgren got paid more than $32.5 million from Stanley Black & Decker, while the firm saw a tax refund of $183 million.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally earned more than $26.5 million and Ford received a $69 million refund. 🤬

The report follows up on recent controversies about sky-high CEO pay, as some estimates show that top executives earn about 325 times more than the average American worker.

It's good to be the boss: 

On average, CEOs in the United States earn the equivalent of $6,000 per hour.

Average CEO pay has jumped 930 percent since 1978, compared with an 11 percent hike for all other employees.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the world's wealthiest man, with a net worth of about $150 billion USD.

https://www.wisegeek.com/do-major-corporations-pay-a-lot-in-income-tax.htm



Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 31, 2018, 08:14:08 pm »

Gore Vidal Interview Series with Paul Jay (7/7)

July 31, 2018

On the sixth anniversary of the death of Gore Vidal, and the final day of our fundraising campaign, we republish Paul Jay’s 2007 interview with Vidal on the state of journalism. Vidal says, “I’ve been around the ruling class all my life, and I’ve been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country”


Story Transcript

PAUL JAY: The economic structure of television makes what I’m going to ask difficult to accomplish. But do you think television journalists have learned anything from this last four years?

GORE VIDAL: Well, they’ve always been lazy, and they’re not used to getting to the heart of problems, of matters. They’re not used to investigating anything. Socrates tells us that the unexamined life is not worth living, and that is an absolute truth. Those who want to examine life don’t go in for journalism, because they’re not allowed to. So they’ve got to be very careful. They have to think about tenure if they’re at a university. They’ve got to think about, you know, the publisher and advertisers. So it’s a difficult row to hoe, and we have no intellectual tradition of any kind in the United States. I even told Arthur Schlesinger, you know, Arthur, one Schlesinger does not make a spring. He was horrified.

PAUL JAY: What do you think is the significance of what we’re trying to do?

GORE VIDAL: Well, I’m all for it. I wouldn’t be sitting here today if I didn’t like the notion. And it’s apt to catch on. It’s when the news starts to break how two presidential elections, 2000 and 2004, were stolen, and The New York Times would not review the book written about it by Congressman Conyers, nor Washington Post, nor Wall Street Journal. The great instruments of news were silent. Well, they’re saying, we don’t give a goddamn about the United States. Just stew in your own juice. Leave us alone. We have corporate figures to add up now, and we have certain things we want to put in place, and we may have a couple of candidates for you dumdums, but you probably won’t like them.

You know, I’ve been around the ruling class all my life, and I’ve been quite aware of their total contempt for the people of the country. And the Republican machine became so good at transmitting its own feelings about the world to the enemy, to the liberals, once anyone, any of the right wing hear what I just said, he’ll say, oh, the liberals have always hated America. We know that. They despise family values, because they’re only interested in gangbangs and drugs and so forth. This is the way they deal. And whenever they have a real coward for president, like Bush himself, and you have a hero like Kerry, oh, he’s a coward. Didn’t you know that? We’ve got five guys who were in Vietnam with him. What they do is whatever is their transgression, whatever are their faults, they lie and apply it to the other person. That confuses everything. If I were an average voter in the United States I wouldn’t know who was telling the truth, whether Kerry really had run away and didn’t get purple hearts, or whether Junior, you know, had actually learned how to fly a plane.

PAUL JAY: And television news covers the lies like news.

GORE VIDAL: Yes. It has a lock on it.

PAUL JAY: You’ve been touring the country after your new book.

GORE VIDAL: Well, no, I was touring it before the last congressional election to raise money for the Democratic Party. Not that I like the Democratic Party, but we have to have the semblance of a second party to get rid of these others.

PAUL JAY: What do you hear from people?

GORE VIDAL: Well, I’ve never heard cries of rage so loud. It’s when I’m in New Mexico or West Virginia. I’ve covered the whole country by now.

PAUL JAY: Our project’s fundamentally motivated out of our own concern for what the future holds, especially in terms of what democratic rights we do have and the way the media has played such a destructive role. What do you think is the potential for what we’re doing? What do you make of the project?

GORE VIDAL: Well, the potential is enormous. There’s not anyone with an IQ above, you know, lowest room temperature who isn’t interested in something like this. Everybody is on to the con act of our media, that they are obeying bigger, richer interests than informing the public, which is the last thing that corporate America has ever been interested in doing. So I think, you know, the sky’s the limit to the amount of audience you can get.

And one of the secrets is, aside from telling the truth, which most people in America hate because they’ve been brought up on advertising, and they think the truth is just something irrelevant. Irrelevant. You know, everybody lies. You know, I love that line. So it’s alright to steal the election. Well, that isn’t what the world’s about. And I think it’s really come down to we’re going to be blown up one of these days. We have now acquired so many enemies with so much power in the world that, well, they’re going to take a couple of cracks at us. I would rather have Real News here telling us just where it was they struck, where it is, intelligence says they may strike again, and maybe why they’re doing it. We blew up their mosque, we killed their president, or whatever it was that set them off. What our fictional news does now, and this is- all it is is fiction, whether it’s CNN or CBS or NBC, it’s all fiction. The people making this junk know that. The viewers suspect it. But where are they going to turn to? Where are they going to find out? They can’t all go out and get a, you know, subscription to The Nation, which would help straighten them out, at least in print.

So you’re going to be the only alternative, and the word will start to spread. Look at the speed with which, you know, just by telling jokes, John Stewart and company got the attention of everybody. And now they say, well, most of the real news that the people know about they get from the satirizing of it that Stewart does. And very funny he is, too. In other words you build a better mousetrap, and the mouse will come to your door.

PAUL JAY: Thank you.

https://therealnews.com/stories/gore-vidal-interview-series-with-paul-jay
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 28, 2018, 04:39:30 pm »

Common Dreams

BY Jake Johnson

PUBLISHED July 27, 2018

Quote
How are they going to pay for this?” asked one commentator on Twitter. “Oh wait, that question only gets asked when it comes to social programs that benefit the working class.”

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald added:

It seems strange, at least to me, that Democrats – with one side of their mouth – say Trump is an authoritarian, lawless traitor, but then, with the other side, keep voting to increase his war powers, military budget and detention & spying authorities. https://t.co/nRoOM7Kifw pic.twitter.com/X11kYf9Qsf

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 27, 2018

House Democrats Join GOP to Approve $717 Billion in Military Spending

Full article:

https://truthout.org/articles/house-democrats-join-gop-to-approve-717-billion-in-military-spending/
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 27, 2018, 09:49:04 pm »

JUL 25, 2018TD ORIGINALS

American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 Myths

Our society should’ve collapsed by now. You know that, right?

No society should function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a “Star Wars” movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself.

Worldwide, one in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years. (If they only buy single-ply toilet paper.) Put simply, you cannot comprehend the level of inequality in our current world or even just our nation.

So … shouldn’t there be riots in the streets every day? Shouldn’t it all be collapsing? Look outside. The streets aren’t on fire. No one is running naked and screaming (usually). Does it look like everyone’s going to work at gunpoint? No. We’re all choosing to continue on like this.

Why?

Well, it comes down to the myths we’ve been sold.


Myths that are ingrained in our social programming from birth, deeply entrenched, like an impacted wisdom tooth. These myths are accepted 🙉 🙊 and basically never questioned.

I’m going to cover eight of them. There are more than eight. There are probably hundreds. But I’m going to cover eight because (A) no one reads a column titled “Hundreds of Myths of American Society,” (B) these are the most important ones and (C) we all have other s h i t to do.

Myth No. 8—We have a democracy.

If you think we still have a democracy or a democratic republic, ask yourself this: When was the last time Congress did something that the people of America supported that did not align with corporate interests? … You probably can’t do it. It’s like trying to think of something that rhymes with “orange.” You feel like an answer exists but then slowly realize it doesn’t. Even the Carter Center and former President Jimmy Carter believe that America has been transformed into an oligarchy: A small, corrupt elite control the country with almost no input from the people. The rulers need the myth that we’re a democracy to give us the illusion of control.

Myth No. 7—We have an accountable and legitimate voting system.

Gerrymandering, voter purging, data mining, broken exit polling, push polling, superdelegates, electoral votes, black-box machines, voter ID suppression, provisional ballots, super PACs, dark money, third parties banished from the debates and two corporate parties that stand for the same goddamn pile of fetid crap!

What part of this sounds like a legitimate election system?

No, we have what a large Harvard study called the worst election system in the Western world. Have you ever seen where a parent has a toddler in a car seat, and the toddler has a tiny, brightly colored toy steering wheel so he can feel like he’s driving the car? That’s what our election system is—a toy steering wheel. Not connected to anything. We all sit here like infants, excitedly shouting, “I’m steeeeering!”

And I know it’s counterintuitive, but that’s why you have to vote. We have to vote in such numbers that we beat out what’s stolen through our ridiculous rigged system.

Myth No. 6—We have an independent media that keeps the rulers accountable.

Our media outlets are funded by weapons contractors, big pharma, big banks, big oil and big, fat hard-on pills. (Sorry to go hard on hard-on pills, but we can’t get anything resembling hard news because it’s funded by dicks.) The corporate media’s jobs are to rally for war, cheer for Wall Street and froth at the mouth for consumerism. It’s their mission to actually fortify belief in the myths I’m telling you about right now. Anybody who steps outside that paradigm is treated like they’re standing on a playground wearing nothing but a trench coat.

Myth No. 5—We have an independent judiciary.

The criminal justice system has become a weapon wielded by the corporate state. This is how bankers can foreclose on millions of homes illegally and see no jail time, but activists often serve jail time for nonviolent civil disobedience. Chris Hedges recently noted, “The most basic constitutional rights … have been erased for many. … Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.”

If you’re not part of the monied class, you’re pressured into releasing what few rights you have left. According to The New York Times, “97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains, with defendants pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence.”

That’s the name of the game. Pressure people of color and poor people to just take the plea deal because they don’t have a million dollars to spend on a lawyer. (At least not one who doesn’t advertise on beer coasters.)

Myth No. 4—The police 🦍 are here to protect you. They’re your friends.

That’s funny. I don’t recall my friend pressuring me into sex to get out of a speeding ticket. (Which is essentially still legal in 32 states.)

The police in our country are primarily designed to do two things: protect the property of the rich and perpetrate the completely immoral war on drugs—which by definition is a war on our own people.

We lock up more people than any other country on earth. Meaning the land of the free is the largest prison state in the world. So all these droopy-faced politicians and rabid-talking heads telling you how awful China is on human rights or Iran or North Korea—none of them match the numbers of people locked up right here under Lady Liberty’s skirt.

Myth No. 3—Buying will make you happy.

This myth is put forward mainly by the floods of advertising we take in but also by our social engineering. Most of us feel a tenacious emptiness, an alienation deep down behind our surface emotions (for a while I thought it was gas). That uneasiness is because most of us are flushing away our lives at jobs we hate before going home to seclusion boxes called houses or apartments. We then flip on the TV to watch reality shows about people who have it worse than we do (which we all find hilarious).

If we’re lucky, we’ll make enough money during the week to afford enough beer on the weekend to help it all make sense. (I find it takes at least four beers for everything to add up.) But that doesn’t truly bring us fulfillment. So what now? Well, the ads say buying will do it. Try to smother the depression and desperation under a blanket of flat-screen TVs, purses and Jet Skis. Now does your life have meaning? No? Well, maybe you have to drive that Jet Ski a little faster! Crank it up until your bathing suit flies off and you’ll feel alive!

The dark truth is that we have to believe the myth that consuming is the answer or else we won’t keep running around the wheel. And if we aren’t running around the wheel, then we start thinking, start asking questions. Those questions are not good for the ruling elite, who enjoy a society based on the daily exploitation of 99 percent of us.

Myth No. 2—If you work hard, things will get better.

According to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey: “80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs” and “[t]he average person spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime.” That’s about one-seventh of your life—and most of it is during your most productive years.

Ask yourself what we’re working for. To make money? For what? Almost none of us are doing jobs for survival anymore. Once upon a time, jobs boiled down to:

I plant the food—>I eat the food—>If I don’t plant food = I die.

But nowadays, if you work at a café—will someone die if they don’t get their super-caf-mocha-frap-almond-****-latte? I kinda doubt they’ll keel over from a blueberry scone deficiency.

If you work at Macy’s, will customers perish if they don’t get those boxer briefs with the sweat-absorbent-ass fabric? I doubt it. And if they do die from that, then their problems were far greater than you could’ve known. So that means we’re all working to make other people rich because we have a society in which we have to work. Technological advancements can do most everything that truly must get done.

So if we wanted to, we could get rid of most work and have tens of thousands of more hours to enjoy our lives. But we’re not doing that at all. And no one’s allowed to ask these questions—not on your mainstream airwaves at least. Even a half-step like universal basic income is barely discussed because it doesn’t compute with our cultural programming.

Scientists say it’s quite possible artificial intelligence will take away all human jobs in 120 years. I think they know that will happen because bots will take the jobs and then realize that 80 percent of them don’t need to be done! The bots will take over and then say, “Stop it. … Stop spending a seventh of your life folding shirts at Banana Republic.”

One day, we will build monuments to the bot that told us to enjoy our lives and … leave the shirts wrinkly.

And this leads me to the largest myth of our American society.

Myth No. 1—You are free.

And I’m not talking about the millions locked up in our prisons. I’m talking about you and me. If you think you’re free, try running around with your nipples out, ladies. Guys, take a dump on the street and see how free you are.

I understand there are certain restrictions on freedom we actually desire to have in our society—maybe you’re not crazy about everyone leaving a Stanley Steamer in the middle of your walk to work. But a lot of our lack of freedom is not something you would vote for if given the chance.

Try building a fire in a parking lot to keep warm in the winter.

Try sleeping in your car for more than a few hours without being harassed by police.

Try maintaining your privacy for a week without a single email, web search or location data set collected by the NSA and the telecoms.

Try signing up for the military because you need college money and then one day just walking off the base, going, “Yeah, I was bored. Thought I would just not do this anymore.”

Try explaining to Kentucky Fried Chicken that while you don’t have the green pieces of paper they want in exchange for the mashed potatoes, you do have some pictures you’ve drawn on a napkin to give them instead.

Try running for president as a third-party candidate. (Jill Stein was shackled and chained to a chair by police during one of the debates.)

Try using the restroom at Starbucks without buying something … while black.

We are less free than a dog on a leash. We live in one of the hardest-working, most unequal societies on the planet with more billionaires than ever.

Meanwhile, Americans supply 94 percent of the paid blood used worldwide. And it’s almost exclusively coming from very poor people. This abusive vampire system is literally sucking the blood from the poor. Does that sound like a free decision they made? Or does that sound like something people do after immense economic force crushes down around them? (One could argue that sperm donation takes a little less convincing.)

Point is, in order to enforce this illogical, immoral system, the corrupt rulers—most of the time—don’t need guns and tear gas to keep the exploitation mechanisms humming along. All they need are some good, solid bullshit myths for us all to buy into, hook, line and sinker. Some fairy tales for adults.

It’s time to wake up.

If you think this column is important, please share it. Also, check out Lee Camp’s weekly TV show “Redacted Tonight” and weekly podcast “Common Censored.”


https://www.truthdig.com/articles/american-society-would-collapse-if-it-werent-for-these-8-myths/
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 22, 2018, 12:25:46 pm »


Poisoning Our Children: The Parent's Guide to the Myths of Safe Pesticides

July 22, 2018 • 71,521 views 👀




Story at-a-glance

• In the U.S., there are about 80,000 registered chemicals. Of these, only a few hundred have been tested for safety, and even that testing is considered inadequate by most toxicologists

• Chemicals are tested in isolation. In real world application however, chemicals are used in combination, and the few studies done on synergetic effects reveal even nontoxic chemicals can become toxic when mixed together

The agricultural and global chemical industries have manipulated the system to control and suppress safety concerns. Through regulatory capture, regulators end up working for the industry’s 😈 👹 💵 🎩 rather than the public’s interest

• Regulators make decisions on the safety of poisons in our food and environment based on data provided by the company selling the toxin, and outsiders cannot review that evidence

• There’s no specific safety testing done for children, but studies show there is no lower level of pesticides that is safe for children

Read more:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/07/22/no-safe-limit-for-pesticides-for-children.aspx
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 13, 2018, 04:51:38 pm »

Truthout

July 13, 2018


Exploiting Pensions, Wall Street Cost Taxpayers $624 Billion Over Last Decade

Jake Johnson, Common Dreams: In a frenzied bid for higher profits in the decade following the 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street pension fund managers have siphoned as much as $624 billion from Americans' retirement savings -- and, as a direct result, taxpayer coffers -- through a vicious combination of high fees and foolish investment strategies.

Read the Article
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 10, 2018, 10:55:12 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: It turns out there was ANOTHER RAT named Anthony Kennedy in the Supreme Crooks Court 😈 👹 💵 🎩 🍌 🏴‍☠️ ALL THE TIME!

Exposed: secret corrupt retirement deal between
Anthony Kennedy and Donald Trump 🦀

Bill Palmer | 6:04 pm EDT July 10, 2018

Palmer Report » Analysis

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was secretly negotiating with Donald Trump about his replacement, even as he was casting major pro-Trump votes that were out of character with his own judicial record. This comes on top of earlier revelations that Kennedy’s son played a key role at Trump’s favorite Russian money laundering bank. We’re now looking at a full blown scandal that’s getting uglier by the hour.


NBC News is now backing off from its earlier implication that Anthony Kennedy only agreed to retire if Donald Trump specifically picked Brett Kavanaugh, and is now reporting that Kennedy provided Trump with five names that would be acceptable to him. Brett Kavanaugh was the only conservative name on the list, so Kennedy would have known that Trump could only pick Kavanaugh. These negotiations reportedly began months ago. This means that Kennedy was secretly negotiating his retirement with Trump while he was casting the swing vote on issues like Trump’s Muslim Ban.


While Kennedy has sided with conservatives on fiscal issues, he’s often sided with liberals on civil rights issues like gay marriage; his vote in favor of the Muslim Ban was out of character. If Kennedy had voted against Trump on the Muslim Ban, at a time when he was negotiating with Trump over his potential replacement, it likely would have prompted the vindictive Trump to break off those negotiations. Kennedy would have known this – meaning that his final votes can be seen as fully corrupt.


If anyone were tempted to give Anthony Kennedy the benefit of the doubt about the corrupt nature of this secret deal, that goes out the window within the context of the fairly straight line that can be drawn from Kennedy to his son to Donald Trump to Russian money laundering to the Trump-Russia election rigging conspiracy. Kennedy’s legacy is clearly ruined; the only question is whether he’ll end up facing criminal charges. Follow the money.

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http://www.palmerreport.com/analysis/corrupt-kennedy-trump-exposed/11311/
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 10, 2018, 02:10:24 pm »

Agelbert NOTE: Trump 🦀 is following EXACTLY the same playbook Hitler used in Germany to make the courts a handmaiden to fascist murder ☠️ and mayhem 💣. >:( God help us.

Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh stumbles out of the gate

Bill Palmer | 11:58 pm EDT July 9, 2018

Palmer Report » Analysis

Brett Kavanaugh just did a big favor for those who are seeking to defeat his nomination to the Supreme Court. Donald Trump could have picked any far-right judge and made his billionaire donors and extremist supporters happy. So why did he choose Kavanaugh specifically? You and I know that it obviously involved a private conversation about personal loyalty. But thanks to Kavanaugh’s big stupid mouth, now the whole world knows it.

After Donald Trump introduced Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee, Kavanaugh stepped to the microphone and said this: “No president has ever consulted more widely or talked to more people from more backgrounds to seek input for a Supreme Court nomination.” It was precisely what Trump wanted to hear. It was also the dumbest thing Kavanaugh has ever said in public, because he just personally married himself to Trump in the court of public opinion.

There are two ways we can convince mainstream America to ferociously stand up and fight against this Supreme Court pick. The first is to point out that Brett Kavanaugh will cast the deciding vote to overturn Roe v Wade, gay marriage, and other crucial rulings. This simply requires pointing to his existing record of far-right extremism. The second is to frame Kavanaugh as being a corrupt puppet of Donald Trump. This was going to be a difficult sell, until Kavanaugh just handed us the above quote.

I’ll post Brett Kavanaugh’s words about Donald Trump again, because this is the quote that you copy-paste and send to all your friends who wouldn’t normally care about the Supreme Court but who think Trump is a corrupt criminal: “No president has ever consulted more widely or talked to more people from more backgrounds to seek input for a Supreme Court nomination.”

These are not the words of a legitimate judge. They’re the words of a corrupt judge who is willing and eager to do Trump’s 🦀 personal bidding 🦍 at the expense of America.

Contribute to Palmer Report

You can follow Palmer Report on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our mailing list.

http://www.palmerreport.com/analysis/stumbles-brett-kavanaugh-trump-court/11298/

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 07, 2018, 08:11:42 pm »

How the Democrats take the Supreme Court back from Donald Trump 🦀

Tim Faulkner | 12:18 am EDT July 7, 2018

Palmer Report » Analysis

Article III, Section I of the Constitution states that “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” While the Constitution established the Supreme Court, it left it up to Congress to decide how to fill the court. The Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number at one chief justice and five associate justices.
 
While the intended purpose of the Supreme Court is to determine the constitutionality of laws, there have been several instances where the court was used for partisan political moves. When the Federalists lost power in 1800 the lame-duck Congress made a play to prevent President Thomas Jefferson from being able to make an appointment by reducing the number of justices to five. However, the incoming Congress repealed this to put the number back at six. In 1807, Congress increased it to seven.

Then in 1837, President Andrew Jackson was able to appoint two justices after Congress increased the number of justices to nine. Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, a Republican majority in Congress voted to reduce the number of justices to prevent Democrat President Andrew Johnson from appointing any new justices. When Ulysses S. Grant won the presidency in 1868, Congress increased it back to nine to allow him two appointments. The number of Supreme Court justices has remained at nine since the Judiciary Act of 1869.

With Donald Trump ready to announce his next appointment on Monday, there have been a multitude of strategies put forth for Democrats to attempt to prevent the confirmation. With so many critical laws that protect the rights of so many people at risk, this is an extremely important effort. When Andrew Johnson was about to be impeached, Congress passed the Judicial Act of 1866, which reduced the number of seats to prevent him from getting any appointments.
 
If the Republicans currently in Congress cared enough to put country over party, they could prevent Donald Trump from making another appointment, but we all know that will not happen. Instead, if Trump is able to push through his next choice, at least we know that once Democrats take back power, they have the ability to counter Trump’s appointments by adding two new seats which can be filled by justices who will actually make decisions to protect Americans, not hurt them.


Help support Palmer Report and independent political journalism: PayPal • GoFundMe

http://www.palmerreport.com/analysis/democrats-supreme-court-trump-back/11248/

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 05, 2018, 09:47:30 pm »

Scandal Ridden Pruitt 🦖 Finally Resigns from EPA, Leaving Another Climate Denier 🦕 in Charge 👎

July 5, 2018

Sierra Club’s Mary Anne Hitt says Pruitt’s long list of scandals is only matched by his long list of attempted environmental rollbacks, and new acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler will advance the same deregulatory agenda


Story Transcript

DHARNA NOOR: It’s The Real News. I’m Dharna Noor.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt resigned on Thursday amidst numerous allegations of ethical and legal violations. Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation via Twitter, where he also said that EPA Deputy Administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler will assume the role of acting administrator this Monday. Just hours before Pruitt resigned, two congressmen called upon the EPA’s inspector general to investigate allegations that Pruitt has been hiding and falsifying calendar records of his meetings with industry officials. And these came in a slew of new allegations reported by The Washington Post on Monday. Aides also said that the administrator asked EPA staffers to help his wife get a six-figure job, and to perform many other nonofficial tasks.

Here to talk about all of this is Mary Anne Hitt. She’s the director of the Beyond Coal Campaign at the Sierra Club. Thanks for joining us today.

MARY ANNE HITT: Thanks for having me.

DHARNA NOOR: So first let’s talk a little bit about what we’re losing in Scott Pruitt. Let’s assess his record a little bit. So as you know, and many of you probably know, on Monday a schoolteacher named Kristen Mink actually confronted Pruitt in a D.C. restaurant and asked him to resign. Let’s see that clip.

KRISTIN MINK: I just wanted to urge you to resign because of what you’re doing to the environment in our country. Meanwhile, you’re slashing strong standards for cars and trucks for the benefits of big corporations. We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, someone who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children. So I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.

DHARNA NOOR: So Mink castigated Pruitt for being a climate denier, for attacking clean air and water standards, for renting a condo from the spouse of a prominent fossil fuel lobbyist with whom he was in talks. This was just as a reminder at the time that he actually approved the Alberta Clipper pipeline, allowing hundreds of thousands more barrels of oil per day to flow to the United States from Canada’s tar sands. Talk a little bit about his record generally, and what Pruitt’s environmental impact was, and about his deregulatory agenda.

MARY ANNE HITT: Well, let me say first that I am a mom of an 8-year-old, and I found it very heartwarming when that mom stood up and I think said what a lot of us moms wish we could say to Scott Pruitt in person, which is that it’s our clean air and our clean water and the very safety of our kids that is on the line. And Scott Pruitt from day one in office was, frankly, working to dismantle the EPA. It was his life’s work formerly as the Oklahoma attorney general to try to find shortcuts or loopholes around our clean air and clean water standards, and from his first day on the job he began working at the behest of polluters to do just that.

And in doing so, if that wasn’t bad enough, he also was just-. It was just, frankly, a bottomless pit of scandals, of corruption, from multi-hundred dollar fountain pens, to accepting cheap rent from a lobbyist for a fossil fuel company, to tactical paants that were bought for him for the price of hundreds of dollars a pair. So it was really, frankly, I think-. Again, as a mom, as someone who’s worried about the safety of your air and water, the fact that he was that corrupt in his personal dealings was one thing. The fact that he was playing fast and loose with the water that we all drink and the air that we all breathe was what was truly scary about Scott Pruitt.

DHARNA NOOR: Talk a little bit more about what some of the impacts that he had were on clean air and clean water regulations. Talk a little bit more specifically about what some of his legacies will be, moving on from the EPA.

MARY ANNE HITT: Well, the long list of Scott Pruitt’s ethical scandals is only matched by a long list of air and water and climate regulations that he tried to roll back in his tenure at EPA. Everything from standards for how to dispose of toxic coal ash safely so it doesn’t end up in the drinking water, so you don’t have things like arsenic in your drinking water from coal ash, to the first ever climate standards that we had as a nation to reduce climate pollution from power plants. He was working to repeal and revoke those. You can talk about the safety of pesticides. You can talk about-. Really, Scott Pruitt never met an environmental regulation that he didn’t want to try to roll back or repeal. And the good news, if there is any, is that he didn’t get too far in that agenda. A lot of what he was trying to do, we believe, was illegal. And the Sierra Club and other groups were challenging him in court every step of the way. So he set a lot of bad things in motion. And we are worried that Andrew Wheeler, the number two at the EPA who is now in charge, will continue on that toxic agenda. But we also are very determined to fight them every step of the way.

DHARNA NOOR: Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit more about Andrew Wheeler. Again, he’s a former coal lobbyist. And I understand that your organization actually obtained emails between him and Scott Pruitt through the Freedom of Information Act. What did you find from those emails, and what do you generally expect from him as an EPA administrator?

MARY ANNE HITT: Well, I want to give a special shoutout to our attorneys and press folks at the Sierra Club. They paged through, I am not kidding you, almost 60000 pages of FOIA documents from the EPA that are the source of the information about a lot of these scandals that you saw on the news and you wrote about on the front pages of the newspaper. And Wheeler and Pruitt were definitely partners in crime, working to advance this agenda of rolling back our environmental safeguards that they’re going to continue full speed ahead with Wheeler at the helm, to try to get that agenda over the finish line. And we are going to be fighting at the Sierra Club and with all of our partners every step of the way to prevent that from happening. Because it really is, you know, just as the mom who confronted Scott Pruitt in the restaurant put it so so beautifully, it’s our kids future. It’s the safety of the water we drink and the air that we breathe. And that, that is what they are playing fast and loose with to benefit their polluter buddies.

DHARNA NOOR: And then, lastly, how can people hold the EPA administrator, whether it’s Pruitt, Wheeler, or somebody else accountable? What are some actions that people can take to ensure that, you know, we don’t have another EPA administrator like Scott Pruitt? Is that even possible?

MARY ANNE HITT: Well, the Sierra Club tonight is reaching out to all of our members and supporters and asking them to call their members of Congress, because Congress is the agency that does have oversight over the EPA. And obviously Trump is happy to have folks reading the EPA doing the bidding of polluters. And so our check on that is the Congress. And Scott Pruitt did get a lot of a lot of very hard questions, increasingly hard questions, every time he appeared before the Congress and before the Senate. That was a lot of what put him on the hot seat and, again, exposed some of this corruption.

And so we’re going to be counting on members of Congress now to do the same thing with Wheeler who, again, he’s a coal lobbyist. He has a very long and not very pretty track record when it comes to clean air, clean water. He’s got the same agenda as Pruitt and Trump, which is to dismantle all of our environmental safeguards. And so folks should call their members of Congress and ask them to oppose Wheeler and Trump’s agenda, and to actually put someone in charge of EPA who will let the EPA do its job and fulfill its mission. I’m sure the very hardworking folks at EPA are breathing a sigh of relief tonight, and would just like to be able to do their jobs to make sure our air and water are safe. And the Congress needs to allow the EPA to do just that. That’s what the American people are counting on.

DHARNA NOOR: All right. Well, Marianne, as we see what Wheeler and others do in the EPA we’ll be sure to check in again with you. Thanks so much for coming on today.

MARY ANNE HITT: Thank you so much for having me.

DHARNA NOOR: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

https://therealnews.com/stories/scandal-ridden-pruitt-finally-resigns-from-epa-leaving-another-climate-denier-in-charge
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 04, 2018, 01:50:19 pm »

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 04, 2018, 01:11:52 pm »



By Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 4, 2018

Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.


As we celebrate the nation's Independence, a virtual pallor seems to hang over the proceedings like a shitmist. There will be parades, fireworks, cookouts and picnics, and the attendant mindlessness of a hot summer day. There will be 21-gun salutes with appropriate solemnity. But in many ways, it's almost as if it's "Bizarro- Fourth of July–" similar, but a bit off. As if our hearts are not fully in it. Given that hundreds of thousands attended over 800 rallies demonstrating against government-sanctioned kidnapping of children and separation of immigrant families, they may not be. Now comes proof we're just not as patriotic as we used to be.

FULL ARTICLE:







Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 04, 2018, 12:41:55 pm »


The Dictatorship Over America: How It Functions

Eric Zuesse

07/03/2018

Democrats have won the national vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, which, with the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, will have resulted in the appointment of eight of the Supreme Court’s nine justices. And yet four of those justices will have been appointed by presidents who took office despite having fewer votes than their opponent. Republicans will have increasingly solid control of the court’s majority, with the chance to replace the sometimes-wavering Kennedy with a never-wavering conservative movement stalwart.

Over the last generation, the Republican Party has moved rapidly rightward, while the center of public opinion has not. It is almost impossible to find a substantive basis in public opinion for Republican government. On health care, taxes, immigration, guns, the GOP has left America behind in its race to the far right. But the Supreme Court underscores its ability to counteract the undertow of its deepening, unpopular extremism by marshaling countermajoritiarian power.

This is the way that the neocon (Hillary Clinton wing) Democrat Jonathan Chait, writing at the Democratic Party propaganda-organ New York magazine, got something profoundly correct, for a change. That quotation opened Chait’s June 27th commentary, which was titled "The Republican Court and the Era of Minority Rule”.

Neoconservatives (otherwise called “America’s imperialists” but they’re basically no different from imperialists in other countries) now run both of America’s political Parties - not only the Republican Party - regardless of what voters might happen to think of the neoconservative philosophy.

This disparity between the non-ideological public and the virtually 100% neoconservative rulers, is due to the fact that voters have no real power in America (something that Chait noted in that excerpt, but only within a partisan Democratic-Party-versus-Republican-Party context, not any broader or more encompassing context, that questions the political and economic system itself — at a deeper level than merely “Democratic” versus “Republican”). By contrast against that powerless public, America’s aristocrats possess all of the power, and they’re imperialists (“neocons”) because they want their private international corporate empires to dominate over the entire world. But this insightful (though too narrowly focused) opening from Chait shows that even neoconservatives (such as he) aren’t always wrong about everything.

In fact, this opening, from a Democratic Party neoconservative, about America’s increasing conservative (Republican) dictatorship, was entirely truthful within its partisan narrow scope, and therefore (to that extent) more like an exemplification of the proverbial “infinite monkey theorem” — that “a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.”

However, Chait’s ‘Shakespearean' string ended precisely there, when he immediately followed up that opening statement of his, by saying, “The story really begins in December 2000,” and he proceeded to blame everything on Bush-v.-Gore, and on the way that the Republican operatives raped the American nation on 9 December 2000. This problem of America’s being a dictatorship, however, actually goes far deeper — and farther back — than that Republican Party victory (as will be shown here).

The only comprehensive and scientific study which has ever been done of whether the US is a democracy or instead a dictatorship, was published in 2014, and it found that, “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.”

Consequently, for example, our opinions of “Saddam’s WMD” were simply being manipulated by the controlling owners of US-based international corporations, just as those same super-rich individuals (most of whom are Americans) have controlled whom the nine people will be who rule from the Supreme Court, on what the US Constitution means, and doesn’t mean (and this judicial panel, of course, also decided Bush-v.-Gore).

So: the US Constitution has become increasingly twisted (by such jurists) to ‘mean’ things (such as aristocratic dictatorship) that were loathed by America’s Founders, who actually went to war against Britain’s aristocracy — this Constitution has become increasingly twisted to ‘mean’ things such as creating and expanding an international empire, and as allowing US taxpayers to be forced to subsidize the political speech of some religions and not of other religions, nor of opponents of all religions. (Especially the Republican Party benefits enormously from empowering evangelical pastors to preach Republican propaganda to their congregations.)

According to that scientific study, the United States, during the period that was studied, which extended from 1981 through to 2002, which was virtually the entire twenty years PRIOR to Bush-.v.-Gore — and this is quoting now directly from the study itself: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

So: how does this — the aristocracy’s dictatorial grip on America’s Government — function? Not only the 2000 US Presidential ‘election’ was stolen from the American electorate, but so too are almost all US national elections stolen, especially the crucial ones, such as the political primary elections to Congress and the Presidency, for candidates to become the selected nominees of each of the two political Parties and thus to become offered to the public as the final contestants who might actually win those offices in the US national Government. Just as Bernie Sanders was the most-preferred of all candidates in 2016 to become the US President but the nomination was stolen from him by the Democratic National Committee for Hillary Clinton, it’s the same in most ‘elections’ to American national offices. And this dictatorship by the super-rich didn’t start with Bush.-v.-Gore, such as Chait alleges.

Right now, the US aristocracy, who control all of the large US corporations — including all of the major news-media — are pushing very hard to impose a kind of lock-down against the few media that they don’t control: against the media whose only presence is online, because these small media lack the funding to have either a print-and-paper presence, or else network broadcast and telecast facilities or a cable network.

The way that the ‘news’-giants propagandize this lockdown against unwanted truths, is by calling those small media sites (the half-dozen or so which do publish the elsewhere prohibited truths) ‘fake news’ media, and by alleging that only the print-broadcast-cable ‘news’ media (the very same ‘news’media which had deceived the public in 2002 to fear “Saddam’s WMD” and which had ‘justified’ in 2011 Obama’s destruction of Libya, and his subsequent invasion of Syria) ought to be trusted by the American people. Obviously, that’s crazy, but America’s aristocrats want the public to believe this way.

On June 27th, Gallup reported:

Gallup and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation conducted a web-based experiment to assess the effectiveness of a news source rating tool designed to help online news consumers discriminate between real news and misinformation. The tool identifies news organizations as reliable (using a green cue) or unreliable (using a red cue) based on evaluations of their work, funding and other factors by experienced journalists.

The Gallup news-report closed: “Gallup and Knight Foundation acknowledge support for this research provided by the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.” All of them are neoconservative organizations, which represent the interests of America’s billionaires — not of the public anywhere.

The technical report of this experiment concluded that mainstream news-media can increase the public’s prejudice against non-mainstream news-media, by having their own hired “experienced journalists” label those small competing news-media as providers of ‘misinformation’ instead of ‘news’:

This survey experiment evaluated the effect of a specific source rating tool — cues about news organization trustworthiness based on evaluations from experienced journalists. The findings suggest that using this approach may help combat online misinformation and restore confidence in obtaining quality news.

Of course, this finding is very good news for America’s billionaires, because further suppressing what the aristocrats are calling ‘misinformation’ (such as this) will enable them to increase their dictatorship, even more.

As time goes by, the means of deceiving the public, become even cagier than they were before. The way that the dictatorship in America functions is by deceiving the public; and perhaps this Gallup-Knight-Ford-Gates-Soros study has helped them to develop a more effective “tool” to do that.

Maybe the next big invasion will be of Iran. American-and-allied media seem to be focusing increasingly on this particular target. Perhaps “experienced journalists” are being promoted right now, for that very purpose. With Donald Trump in power, Iran is systematically becoming the main next target. It was his top target even before he became elected; and one can even say that he was selected by the US aristocracy, and by Israel's aristocracy, and by the Saud family who own Saudi Arabia, and by the leader of UAE’s royal families, mainly for this reason, to be installed to run the US regime. But, of course, they would also have done very well if Hillary Clinton had been ‘elected’.

That’s the way things are: politics in America, especially at the national level, is now merely a puppet-show. And, apparently, many if not most of the people who are pulling the strings in it don’t so much as live here — they are foreigners, though of the types that Trump (as now is obvious), relies upon, instead of persecutes (such as ‘wetbacks’).

The American people are merely the audience. We didn’t even buy this puppet-show. Those billionaires did. (The American ones also buy the puppet-theater which presents Russia as being the foreign power that controls the US Government and that ‘endangers democracy’ everywhere. During the communist era, that story-line was believable by even intelligent people, but after 24 February 1990, it no longer is.)

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/07/01/dictatorship-over-america-how-it-functions.html

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: July 02, 2018, 07:43:05 pm »

So, Now You Want Civility?

JUNE 26, 2018 / JOHN PAVLOVITZ

Civility?


That’s the card you’re pulling now, Trump supporters?
That’s where you’ve landed?
That’s your go-to play at this stage of the game?
It’s a little late for you to roll that out now, isn’t it?

After voting for a self-proclaimed genitalia-grabber.
After he suggested dissenters at his rallies should be beaten up.
After hearing him call violent nazis “fine people.”
After he bulldozed sacred Native American lands and turned frigid hoses on tribe elders.
After he ignored mass deaths in Puerto Rico and vilified their public servants.
After he began dismantling protections to our planet and shrinking our national parks.
After witnessing Flint, Michigan go without clean water.
After watching exhausted refugee families stranded at airports.
After leveraging religion to justify all manner of discrimination.
After ignoring evidence of a Russian interference that threatens our national sovereignty.
After seeing ICE raids in hospital rooms and workplaces.
After his gross, reckless fabrications about Muslims and Mexicans and immigrants.
After witnessing him work tirelessly to take healthcare from the sick and the poor.
After he vilified kneeling black athletes and badgered their employers into silencing their peaceful protest.
After his unhinged Twitter rants against private citizens and their businesses, against celebrities and political opponents and world leaders.
After terrorizing teenage shooting survivors on social media.
After allowing the radicalized Christian right and soulless NRA gun zealots to shape national policy.
After sanctioning Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka and Jeff Sessions.
After retweeting the toxic filth of Dana Loesch and Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter.
After celebrating while he’s alienated our greatest allies and aligned with malevolent dictators.
After your silence in the face of migrant children being ripped from their parent’s arms and placed in dog kennels.
After digging in your heels for the past two years on every bit of it.

Now you want to pretend to be civilized?

Now want to talk about measured debate?
Now you want to wag your finger at us for being disrespectful?
Now you want to shame us for our supposed lack of manners?
Now you want to gaslight us into guilt and apology—as if we’ve lost our dignity, as if we’ve sacrificed our humanity, as if we’ve bastardized our religion, as if we’re the ones impervious to other people’s feelings.

With all due respect—to hell with your phony civility.   

No, you don’t get to play that card. That request is off the table for you.

You lost that moral high ground somewhere between excusing his mocking of a disabled reporter—and celebrating brown-skinned kids in cages.

Your lengthy, sickening body of work over the past two and a half years is the greatest witness of your fraudulence.

You don’t really want civility, anyway. If you did, you wouldn’t still be supporting this President. Civility not what you’re asking for. If you were simply asking for that, we wouldn’t have an issue.

You want something else:
You want consent to your abject cruelty. You’re not going to get it.
You want our silence in the face of perversions of justice. It will not be forthcoming.
You want tacit approval for a white Evangelical theocracy. That ain’t gonna happen.
You want to us to quietly witness this President dismantling democracy. We’re simply not going to.
You want us worship your white, angry, American, gun-toting God. We won’t.
You want us to join you in your blind idolatry of a man fully lacking nobility. We won’t be.
You want the steady stream of Sarah Sanders lies, alternative Fox News facts to go unchecked. We’re not giving you that courtesy.
You want us to allow you to perpetuate dangerous false stereotypes of immigrants and young black men and Transgender people. We’re not going to.
You want us excuse your supremacy and indulge your privilege and sanction your President’s bigotry and applaud this Administration’s legislated assaults on marginalized communities. It’s gonna be a long wait, friend.

No, we’re not doing any of that.


What we are going to do, is clearly, repeatedly, and unapologetically oppose it all with everything we have.
We’re going to push back hard against every divisive meme you produce, every incendiary Tweet he manufactures, every human rights atrocity this Administration generates, every effort you make to normalize monstrous behavior or excuse his ramblings.

We’re going to be unflinching, and we’re going to use our outside voices, and we aren’t going to mince words when it comes to the inherent worth of human beings, the affronts on our Constitution, or the hijacking of our faith traditions.

You can call that uncivilized if you’d like, but honestly we don’t give a damn.

We’re going to be profoundly pissed off whenever diversity is threatened or when human beings are treated as less-than or when religion is invoked to do harm or when America’s stability is under attack.

In the face of the inhumane things on display in this country right now, we’ll take the cause of humanity and our volume every single time.

We’re going to be loud in the cause of love, even if that sounds like anger in your ears.

 
Order John’s forthcoming book ‘HOPE AND OTHER SUPERPOWERS” here!

https://johnpavlovitz.com/2018/06/26/so-now-you-want-civility/
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 30, 2018, 09:52:14 pm »

Quote
Wilkinson and her staff concluded they could not serve Sanders in good conscience because of her immoral actions, not her identity.

Some, not I, would say the staff had no say since they had no risk in the business.  Capitalism has a way of forcing everyone to a lowest common denominator.  A business can go out of business if it tries to pay a living wage when the competition won't.  Tariffs are meant to prevent unfair competition as one example of necessary regulation to fix the problem.  The idea is hundreds of years old.  The responsibility of leveling tariffs left to the president in our constitution.  Yet so called progressives are acting like it is a poison Trump personally invented.  Capitalism corrupts and it corrupts absolutely.  It robs people of being able to know right from wrong.  In this situation the decision was really the wish of the employees which the owner could have vetoed.  They called her in to make the decision.  Going along with them was the right thing to do from any point of view, wise or decent.  They had respect enough for the owner to have her come in and make the decision and that was wise for all that she returned that respect.  Far better for the health of the business than to risk the loss of a few customers who are OK with immorality.  The ones lost would be no loss.  The infectious gain in restaurant moral will bring in new customers.

This issue is revealing everyones true colors.  The idea that someone has the right not to serve someone in their restaurant is making those who think they can own other people very uncomfortable.  Conservatives, some even here in the diner, would have you believe that not being a slave to the system and not serving the rich and the powerful makes you immoral.  These same people would have no trouble throwing out a bum.  What's the difference?  Capital is the god of the bourgeois and it defines their morality.   Only capital makes the situations different.



This Is The World They Want

TPTB will kill most of us quite happily to avoid losing their grip on the profit over planet business as usual destroying the biosphere. Capitalism is the Cancer giving us Hydrocarbon Hell. 



Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 30, 2018, 07:06:53 pm »

TruthDig

June 28, 2018TD ORIGINALS

To Hell With Civility

By Sonali Kolhatkar Columnist

Sonali Kolhatkar is a columnist for Truthdig. She also is the founder, host and executive producer of "Rising Up With Sonali," a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV (Dish Network, DirecTV,…

SNIPPET:

By its very definition, “protest” is an act of disapproval. It cannot be made with kind words, fake smiles, handshakes or quiet dinners. Protest is often an act of rage against a perceived injustice, and at this moment Americans are outraged and have every right to nonviolently confront Trump’s defenders in the streets, in restaurants and outside their homes.

Rep. Maxine Waters  , D-Calif., gets it.  The intrepid progressive urged her supporters to act, saying that if they “see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

A careful reading of her words makes it imminently clear that Waters believes in raucous and peaceful protest. Contrast that with Trump, who has literally called for violence against individuals and whole communities repeatedly. Worse than Trump threatening Waters for her statement has been the response of Waters’ fellow Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement showing immense cowardice, saying, “If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action and vote them out of office. But no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right. That’s not American.”

Actually it is very American to engage in protest, whether or not Schumer interprets that as “harassment.” What is “not right” are Trump’s policies and Schumer’s unwillingness to confront them more harshly. Other Democrats echoed Schumer in denouncing Waters. Waters rightly refused to capitulate to the weak-willed establishment wing of her party and demanded a refocusing of efforts on what matters, saying, “I decided I’m just talking about the children. I want the children released, I want a plan. I want a plan for what this administration is going to do to connect these children.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan had the audacity to call on Waters to apologize, saying, “There is no place for this,” even though the Republican leader has, for well over a year, silently acquiesced to the ugliest and most violent of discourses from the president he continues to back. Perhaps Ryan is truly worried he too may no longer be able to eat out in peace or enter and exit his home without facing protesters in the streets outside. If so, Waters and the activists she spoke to in her statements are the real winners in the war for the nation’s moral conscience.

There is nothing civil about a president and Supreme Court deciding to ban people from whole nations vis-à-vis the Muslim ban ruling by the Supreme Court this week. There is nothing civil about more than 2,000 children being held hostage by the Trump administration. There is nothing civil about the massive numbers of undercounted deaths in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria for which Trump has yet to be held accountable. There is nothing civil about Trump’s undoing of the Iran nuclear deal. There is nothing civil about the GOP’s offensive on Obamacare, its tax giveaway to the rich, its attacks on voting rights or the undermining of unions. In the face of such relentless daily assaults on our Constitution, our social safety net, our human rights and dignity, Schumer and his ilk want us to remain civil?

It is quite likely that proponents of slavery, Jim Crow racism, Japanese-American internment, etc., called for calm over fury. Nothing helps the status quo quite like civil discourse in the face of daily destruction.

Full article:

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/to-hell-with-civility/
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 29, 2018, 05:25:47 pm »

LIVEWIRE  TRUMP 🦀 SWAMP🦖 🐊 🦎 🐍 🐲
 

Livid Over Aide’s Testimony, Pruitt 🦖 Tried To Ruin Her Future Job Prospects

By Kate Riga | June 29, 2018 9:26 am

After former EPA director of scheduling Millan Hupp testified to a congressional committee that she had tried to obtain a used mattress from Trump Tower for her boss, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt went after her, smearing her name to conservative groups and assuring them that she couldn’t be trusted, according to a Thursday Daily Beast report.

Before her testimony, which she had no choice but to deliver, Hupp was one of Pruitt’s most loyal aides, sticking with him since his attorney general campaign in Oklahoma.

Pruitt is already reportedly under investigation due to charges levied by his former chief of staff, Kevin Chmielewski, who claims that Pruitt leaked damaging information about him when he suspected that Chmielewski was leaking to the media.

Sources told the Daily Beast that Pruitt also tells his employees to pitch “oppo hits” to media outlets about other staffers who left on bad terms. 

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/livid-over-testimony-pruitt-tried-to-ruin-aides-future-job-prospects

Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 27, 2018, 08:02:15 pm »

Justice Kennedy Retires....Is That a Bad Thing?
The voting record of Anthony Kennedy is very much a mixed bag. He wrote the opinion sanctioning gay marriage, but he also wrote the majority opinion on Citizen's United, one of the worst (possibly the worst) Supreme Court decisions of all time. I think he probably tried to be fair, and it ended up often putting him at odds with the conservatives like Scalia and Thomas....but in the final analysis, his tenure on the court probably did more harm than good.

Unfortunately, the next nominee is liable to be much worse. The Supreme Court has failed the American people in so many ways I could list. On civil seizure. On surveillance. On gay wedding cakes. Some of those failures are more important than others. Citizens' United is huge and very, very bad, for regular people, and great for billionaires.


Dem senator: Justice Kennedy's resignation a 'disaster' for vision of 'We the People'
BY AVERY ANAPOL - 06/27/18 02:45 PM EDT  103
64
   
Dem senator: Justice Kennedy's resignation a 'disaster' for vision of 'We the People'
© Getty
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Wednesday lamented the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as “a disaster” for “We the People.”

The 81-year-old Kennedy, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan's, who has long been considered a “swing vote” on the court, announced his retirement on Wednesday.

“This is a disaster for everyone who believes in the 'We the People' vision of the Constitution,” Merkley tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, Merkley noted that he was “worried” about the standing of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.

Kennedy’s retirement opens the door for President Trump to nominate a second conservative justice to the Supreme Court. Anti-abortion advocates are expected to pursue more cases if the court leans right.

Emboldened by the Trump administration, anti-abortion advocates have been gearing up to potentially move to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Trump said he will immediately begin his search for Kennedy's replacement.

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/394455-dem-senator-kennedy-resignation-a-disaster-for-vision-of-we-the-people


Justice Kennedy Retires....Is That a Bad Thing?  It Don't Matter No More...


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 25, 2018, 05:06:07 pm »

Regardless of what one thinks about the restaurant owner that kicked out Sarah Huckabee Sanders, The Donald's Tweet about it being dirty and needing paint is so typical of his knee-jerk way of responding to things that happen in the world that he doesn't like.

They don't like me and my codependent sidekick?  They must be filthy scumbags, then.

In Trump's mind anyone who doesn't like him is automatically a target, and he just shoots from the hip with his Social Media Gun.

Trumpovetsky stopped his maturation process sometime before Kindergarten.  He never learned the important lessons you are supposed to accumulate there.
[/size]

RE

Well said.


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 22, 2018, 06:48:50 pm »

 
Make Nexus Hot News part of your morning: click here to subscribe.

June 22, 2018



Racism, Xenophobia, Misogyny, Homophobia and Climate Denial: All Part of the Rich White Man’s 😈💵🎩 Status Quo.

Last month, Nexus Media reported on a study in Environmental Politics showing that racial resentment, specifically against President Obama, is perhaps one reason for the increased polarization in climate change. The general idea of the study is that old white men who make up the denier demographic saw a black man in power who cared about climate change, and that pushed them further into denial. The Sierra Club’s magazine covered the study this week, which brought it to the attention of James Delingpole at Breitbart.

Interestingly, Delingpole didn’t even really bother trying to refute in his post, instead just suggesting that because Republicans are “more skeptical of the mainstream media” and are “better-informed generally,” they “have been quicker to grasp the truth than Democrats.” Given the expose last year showing how Breitbart “smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist ideas into the mainstream,” it comes as no surprise that Delingpole doesn’t bother trying to disprove the idea that deniers are racist.

While the study doesn’t say it outright, anyone who’s spent any amount of time in the dredges of a comment section or dealing with trolls on social media knows that it generally doesn’t take much scrolling through a denier’s feed to find some barely or not-at-all disguised racism. Granted, those who focus specifically on climate tend not to stray into other areas, but the generalists, so to speak, tend to hold a range of… we’ll say “deplorable” opinions.

A Forbes piece published yesterday by Dr. Marshall Shepherd, the second African American President of the American Meteorological Society, on deniers using his race to push back on his work offers just the latest example of the latent undercurrent of racism within the denial community (even from those with PhDs). Shepherd’s experiences are just one part of why it’s so important that climate and environmental groups face our own whiteness problem, an issue addressed by sociologist Dorceta Taylor in a new Yale360 interview.

Unfortunately, it’s not just America’s age-old grapple with the legacy of slavery that’s making headlines these days. The kidnapping, drugging, and physical and mental abuse of children, now likely turned to an illegal semi-permanent detainment with well-documented and horrific long-term psychological ramifications, is an absolute crisis of humanity.

And as much as we might like to focus on anything but this atrocity, like most everything else, it too has a climate connection. One of the tent cities erected to house children in Texas is facing 100+ degree heat, offering little respite for those thrown into its terrible conditions. And many of those facing that threat are coming from the Dry Corridor of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where the climate change-boosted swing of drought and deluge has wreaked havoc on subsistence farming. Combined with years of horrific violence stemming from US policies, the agricultural crisis is yet another factor leaving people with little choice but relocation.

And as climate change continues, things will only get worse. Which is why, as Kate Aronoff wrote recently, “Abolishing ICE is Good Climate Policy.” As climate change continues making it harder for those only barely scraping by to survive, we’re going to see more migration. The only moral response is compassion, not militarism, opening our arms and our borders to those who like all white American families at one point or another, are seeking a piece of the American dream and an escape from an increasingly hostile homeland. This spirit of kindness and compassion is beautifully expressed in a Scientific American piece by NASA’s Kate Marvel, whose experience as a mother formented her concern about climate change.

Much like our need to incorporate people of color more fully into the climate community, so too must women’s voices be heard. Fortunately, that message is starting to ring out, with former president of Ireland Mary Robinson saying us on Monday that “climate change is a man-made problem and must have a feminist solution.” One paleoclimatologist leading that charge, with an admirable humility, is Dr. Sarah Myhre. Her recent profile in Grist deals not only with the constant struggle of balancing emotionally honest outreach to the public with the outdated maxim of scientific objectivity, but also the constant assault of misogyny that women face, much like the ever-present racism Dr. Shepherd endures.

And finally, given that it’s Pride month, we would be remiss to not point out that the LGBTQ+ community faces similar discrimination from the same old white status-quo men. (Let’s not forget that climate deniers like those in Britain's UKIP party or supposed Christian leaders in the US regularly blame extreme weather disasters on homosexuality.) It’s also worth noting that members LGBTQ folks are particularly vulnerable to climate disruption due to the discrimination they face by church-run shelters, for example. 

This all comes together in a story from Michigan this week, where GOP state senator Patrick Colbeck proposed major overhauls to the state’s social studies curriculum, removing climate change, mentions of the accomplishments and challenges facing the LGBT, American Indian, Latinx, immigrant communities, while also claiming that giving rights to some is an infringement on the rights of others. (He also explained to the state’s education regulators in his notes on the draft that the KKK was created to be an “anti-Republican” organization, not an “anti-black” one.)

The status quo, of white men with power who couldn’t care less about the lives of others so long as the paychecks keep coming in, is a multi-faceted enemy which will only be overcome by a coordinated effort among all the rest of us.   

Nothing exists in a vacuum, both literally and figuratively. And climate change is certainly no exception. Happy Pride Month and Refugee Week everyone. Celebrate our shared humanity, then there’s work to do.

https://mailchi.mp/climatenexus/methane-emissions-much-higher-than-epa-estimates-usgs-moves-to-muzzle-scientists-more?e=0fd17c5b57
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 22, 2018, 05:29:13 pm »

ECONOMY & LABOR

Workplace Deaths ☠️ Are Rising. Trump-Era 🦀  Budget Cuts Could Make It Worse.

BYBruce Vail In These Times

PUBLISHED June 22, 2018

SNIPPET:

The number of deaths hit a total of 5,190 in 2016, up from 4,836 in 2015, according to an April 2018 report by the AFL-CIO. That’s about 14 deaths each day from preventable worker accidents. It’s also the third year in a row that the number has inched up, and the highest death rate since 2010, the labor federation reported.

Workplace safety systems are “definitely in the failure mode,” says Peter Dooley, a consultant with the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health who was worked closely with labor unions over the years. “In the last two years it is getting dramatically worse. It’s just outrageous.”

The precise reasons for the rise are not simply stated, adds Peg Seminario, AFL-CIO’s long-time director of occupational safety and health. Overall patterns such as very high rates of injury in the logging and construction industries are consistent over time, she says, and there is no single employment trend that accounts for the recent rise. “The numbers are actually down in construction, but they are up almost everywhere else,” she says.

Inadequate enforcement of existing safety rules is the most commonly cited explanation for the rise, Seminario tells In These Times.


Full article:

https://truthout.org/articles/workplace-deaths-are-rising-trump-era-budget-cuts-could-make-it-worse/

Agelbert NOTE: Happy Days are HERE AGAIN for Capitalism. The "Good old Days" of TOTALLY UNREGULATED CAPITALISM have returned. Oh. Happy Day for "Liberty, Freedom, Justice and the American Way". 😈 👹 💵 🎩 🍌 🏴‍☠️  



Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 22, 2018, 05:11:29 pm »

Truthout

HUMAN RIGHTS

The Republican War on the Poor and Vulnerable

BY Mike Ludwig

PUBLISHED June 22, 2018

SNIPPET:

Lynne Haney is a professor of sociology at New York University who has spent years studying a population that is often ignored, if not misunderstood and ridiculed, by policy makers and the general public: low-income fathers who owe child support debt. She has interviewed more than a hundred such men and observed about 1,200 child support cases. Haney says only about 10 percent reflect the stereotype that “child support” brings to mind — a father who refuses to take responsibility for his children. In reality, most care about their families but live in a constant state of financial instability, where one wrong move can set them back years.

“We know a whole lot about poor women and their vulnerabilities, for decades and decades of research has debunked a lot of myths about them,” Haney said. “But we haven’t had a similar rethinking of poor men.”

Like the “welfare queens” of the past, such noncustodial parents have become the latest targets of conservatives seeking to shrink the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. On Thursday, House Republicans passed their version of the Farm Bill, which includes a number of provisions that analysts estimate would eliminate or reduce SNAP benefits for 2 million people and about 1 million families. SNAP already has strict time limits for benefits and work requirements for many participants, but conservatives are seeking new restrictions as they search for ways to pay for their tax cuts for the rich.

Full article:

https://truthout.org/articles/the-republican-war-on-the-poor-and-vulnerable/

Agelbert NOTE: The Republicans are just being true to their morallly bankrupt Capitalist Ideology, which they share with too many Democrats.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 20, 2018, 05:37:43 pm »


I think capitalism is a very mixed bag (some very, very bad issues, I do admit) , but people should be allowed to be communist if they want to be. Including West Point cadets.

Including anybody.

What I find abhorrent is the lack of tolerance. Kicking this young man out over his political beliefs is very obviously a clear violation of his rights as guaranteed by the US Constitution. But who cares, right? He's a communist.



First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

------------ Martin Niemoller


Capitalism US Style 🦍 has always been totally intolerant of Communism and any of its Socialist iterations here and abroad. There never has been any freedom in this country to be a Communist/Socialist, unless you plan to live in poverty with your Socialist principles. That is NOT "freedom". Yeah, you are "free" to believe any old thing you want and embrace any "ism" you want, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T CRITICIZE DA PROFITS OF DA BIDNESS.

The hysteria over the "Communist threat to our freedoms" goes all the way back to Hoover, even before that Capitalist Crook became he head of the FBI.

And even decades before that, the tyranny against the Socialists in Chicago (Haymarket arrests and Kangarro Court trials) evidenced the deep hatred and brutal intolerance for Socialism in this country by the business people who NEVER want to be on an equal footing with their employees in regard to pay, no matter how valuable the employee.

The Capitalist DISEASE forces people with high work skills to start their own business, thereby perpetrating the disease. It pits all against all in an insane race to see who pays their employees LESS, rather than motivate people to build a better, more caring society where people look to help each other, rather than stomp each other into the ground for profit.

The reason Italy did not go Socialist after WWII is because our CIA KILLED all the leaders of the movement there. Now Italy is going full fascist AGAIN, thanks to OUR Capitalist Skullduggery.

After WWII, the CIA sent a nice message to France, as well. France was leaning towards Socialst egalitarian policies and our CIA massively overdosed a WHOLE TOWN in France with LSD.
It wasn't to "try the drug out". 

There are around ten or more other countries where other anti-socialst murder and mayhem Capitalist skullduggery was practiced. It continues to this day.

The Black Panthers, a NON-VIOLENT (though the propaganda BULLSHIT claimed otherwise) Socialst group were ruthllessly gunned down in various cities in the USA.

The McCarthy era witch hunts against Socialsts/Communists has never really gone away for a Capitalist reason.

Equality of opportunity and payment for work done, the basic idea behind Socialism, is a threat to any greed based system in general, and Capitalism in particular.

Capitalists don't give a rats ass about anybody's "rights". All that lip service about "freedom" is fine and dandy as long as the Socialist doesn't try to unionize da bidness. It's okay in the USA for Socialists to be "noble = poor", but the moment they actively question the bankrupt ethics of Capitalists, they get Capitalist Police State Crushed.


THAT is the REAL history of Capitalism and Capitalists in the USA.   


Donald Trump is, and always has been, a TRUE REPRESENTATIVE of what Capitalism (which is nothing but dressed up Fascism) is.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 20, 2018, 02:25:59 pm »


Army Discharges West Point Grad Who Promoted Communism

by Tyler Durden

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 12:33

Authored by Commie Bishop via Campus Reform,

The West Point graduate who promoted communism in social media posts last year has officially been discharged from the U.S. Army.

According to Fox News, Spenser Rapone’s resignation was accepted Monday, and he will be leaving the military with an other-than-honorable discharge.


Rapone’s social media posts, including a picture of him wearing a Che Guevara shirt under his military attire, sparked outrage last year, with officials blasting the West Point graduate for his radical political activism.

"The U.S. Military Academy strives to develop leaders who internalize the academy's motto of Duty, Honor, Country, and who live the Army values,” the military academy said in a statement at the time.

“Second Lieutenant Rapone's actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.

“As figures of public trust, members of the military must exhibit exemplary conduct, and are prohibited from engaging in certain expressions of political speech in uniform,” West Point continued.

“Second Lieutenant Rapone's chain of command is aware of his actions and is looking into the matter. The academy is prepared to assist the officer's chain of command as required.”

According to The Daily Caller 🦕, former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, Jason Altmire, who nominated Rapone for the elite military institution, also disavowed the former cadet’s actions, calling them “abhorrent.”

“While I strongly support the rights of American citizens to express their opinions, the actions of 2nd Lieutenant Rapone are abhorrent and appear to be in clear violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in addition to being inconsistent with the values of the United States Military Academy,” the former lawmaker said last year.

“I have no doubt that the U.S. Army will take appropriate action.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) welcomed the decision to discharge the West Point graduate, noting that Rapone’s pictures suggest that he supported U.S. enemies.

“While in uniform, Spenser Rapone advocated for communism and political violence, and expressed support and sympathy for enemies of the United States,” Rubio said, as reported by Fox News.

I’m glad  to see that they have given him an ‘other-than-honorable’ discharge.”

According to the news network, Rapone said that he “knew there could be repercussions,” to his actions and that his “military career is dead in the water.”

“On the other hand, many people reached out and showed me support,” he said.

“There are a lot of veterans both active duty and not that feel like I do.”


Quote
"I would encourage all soldiers who have a conscience to lay down their arms and join me and so many others who are willing to stop serving the agents of imperialism and join us in a revolutionary movement," Rapone added.   

Rapone also posted a picture on Twitter Monday showing him giving the middle finger to the sign outside Fort Drum, along with the caption, “One final salute.”


https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-06-20/army-discharges-west-point-grad-who-promoted-communism


This took me back to the days when I wore those uniforms. Shining that tiny breast plate (a token symbol of an ancient large breastplate) was always a chore. You also had to be very careful when you attached it to the white canvas straps that attach to the dummy powder box (a token symbol from the Revolutionary War) because the Brasso polish you used on the breastplate, which comes in contact with the 4 bent metal clasps underneath the breastplate, might stain the white straps (a lot of cadets got demerits for that when we had to wear the full dress gray uniform for parades) :P . You put everything on and THEN carefully positioned the breastplate. Full dress gray is the one with that ridiculous three lines of round gold colored fake buttons in the front. The military just LOVES shiny objects.

I admire the this brave man of conscience, Spenser Rapone 🌟, for realizing the ethical and moral value of Communism and its vast superiority over our ethically and morally bankrupt Capitalist System Cruelty.

I salute him.  

But, I ain't done yet.




This is MY CONSTANT SALUTE to anyone who thinks Capitalism is "the best system".

 
Have a nice Brainwashed Capitalist day.
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 19, 2018, 07:38:40 pm »

US 🦍 leaves 'hypocritical and self-serving' UN Human Rights Council

19 Jun, 2018

Washington has decided to walk out of the UN Human Rights Council, accusing the body of hypocrisy. The US has long cited concerns about the body’s “anti-Israel bias.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley announced the decision at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

“The US is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council,” Haley said, calling it a “hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

“American participation is the last shred of credibility the council has,” Haley argued. “That is precisely why we must leave.”

“The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights. Worse than that, it has become an exercise in shameless hypocrisy,” Pompeo said, blasting the council for passing more resolutions against Israel than against the rest of the world combined.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the US for the “courageous decision” to leave the body, which he called a “biased, hostile, anti-Israel organization that has betrayed its mission of protecting human rights.”

“The US decision to leave this prejudiced body is an unequivocal statement that enough is enough,” Netanyahu said. “Israel welcomes the American announcement.”

This is the first time a member of the council would leave the body voluntarily. The US was halfway through its three-year term on the 47-member panel.

On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein criticized Washington over the “unconscionable” policy of separating children of immigrants who cross the border illegally and holding them in detention centers.

“I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children,” al-Hussein said.

While the timing of the US exit from the UN body coincides with this criticism, Washington’s objections to the Human Rights Council over the years have mostly been in regard to Israel. Ambassador Haley has accused the council of a “relentless, pathological campaign” against Israel, and said the US would leave unless the body gets rid of its “chronic anti-Israel bias.”

Shortly after its establishment in 2006, the council voted to make a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel a permanent feature of every session, known as Agenda Item 7. Likewise, the body’s special rapporteur on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only expert whose mandate is not time-limited.

The George W. Bush administration boycotted the council at its inception, but the Obama administration decided to “re-engage” with the body in 2009. Even so, in 2011 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused the council of “structural bias” against Israel.

Domestically, some critics of President Donald Trump are citing the move as proof his administration does not believe in human rights and rule of law.

The decision “sends a clear message that the Trump administration does not intend to lead the world when it comes to human rights,” said Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Leaving the council is unlikely any immediate practical implications for US diplomacy, aside from allowing the UN body to continue condemnations of Israel without much in the way of opposition. Last month, when the council voted to investigate the killing of over 100 Palestinians in protests along the Israel-Gaza border and accused Israel of excessive force, only the US and Australia voted against.

https://www.rt.com/usa/430256-us-quits-human-rights-council/]https://www.rt.com/usa/430256-us-quits-human-rights-council/


Agelbert NOTE:Yep. In the face of  U.S.  "Human Rights" reports 😇  ;), which routinely consist of amazingly selective condemnation of some countries, while others 😈 are ignored or given sainthood, China has countered with Human Rights Reports about the U.S., where China has a thing or two to say about the consistent U.S. Human Rights Violations REALITY. I live here. They are correct.  It has, if anything, gotten WORSE since 2014. Anyone who calls this "anti-U.S. commie propaganda" is in Capitalist Worshipping La La Land.

Quote
2014 report

China published a report on the United States' human rights situation on June 26, 2015, hitting back at U.S. remarks about China.

The report, titled "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2014," was released by the Information Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, in response to "the 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" issued by the U.S. State Department on June 25 local time.

China's report states that the U.S. made comments on the human rights situations in many countries while showing not a bit of regret for or intention to improve its own terrible human rights record.

"The U.S., a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems," it says.

While its own human rights situation was increasingly grave, the U.S. violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more "red cards" in the international human rights field, according to the report.

Ji Hong, a research fellow with Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said America does not hold the moral high ground to tutor or judge others in that itself is also plagued by major human rights issues. According to Ji, who took part in drafting the report, US racial problems even deteriorated during the Obama presidency. "In the past, there were only implicit discrimination against ethnic minorities, but recent cases such as Charleston shooting spree reflected a more flagrant bias."

VIOLENCE & TORTURE

The U.S. was haunted by spreading guns, frequent occurrence of violent crimes, which threatened citizens' civil rights. The excessive use of force by police officers led to many deaths, sparking public outcry, the report says.

An unarmed 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, a town in Missouri. After the grand jury of both Missouri and New York decided to bring no charges against the white police officer, massive protests broke out in more than 170 cities nationwide, it cites cn.nytimes.com as saying.

"The U.S. used cruel tortures indiscriminately, notably those carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)," it says.


To acquire intelligence from suspects of terrorism and extremism, the CIA used brutal methods, such as sleep deprivation, waterboarding, long-term solitary confinement, slamming prisoners against the wall, lashing, death threat and even "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding, according to the report.

DISCRIMINATION & ABUSE


"The U.S. is a country with grim problems of racial discrimination, and institutional discrimination against ethnic minorities continued," according to the report.

Serious racial bias persisted in the police and justice systems. Minority groups and indigenous people are subject to unfairness in environment, election, health care, housing, education and other fields, it says. In August 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in its concluding observation on the periodic report of the U.S. on the latter's implementation of relevant convention, slammed the U.S. for violating the rights of ethnic minorities, indigenous people, immigrants and other minority groups.

It criticized the fact that members of racial and ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately arrested, incarcerated and subjected to harsher sentences, according to the report.

"American women and children's rights were not fully protected," it says, adding that women were discriminated at workplaces, and domestic violence was prevalent.

The report quotes media reports as saying that 2.1 million American women on average were assaulted by men each year. Three females were murdered by their partner each day, and four females died each day as a result of abuse.

Also, "millions of American children were homeless." Three children died each day as a result of abuse. School violence and sex assaults were pervasive and gun shootings happened from time to time, it says.

MONEY POLITICS

"Money is a deciding factor in the U.S. politics, and the U.S. citizens' political rights were not properly protected," the report says.

Despite the highest midterm election spending in history, general election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest since World War II, according to the report.

"Dark money" flowed into elections, and the voting rights of racial minorities and other groups were intentionally suppressed, it says, adding that a few interest groups with power were able to influence the government's decision-making.

The U.S. democratic system was experiencing a crisis of representation, it says.

"Ordinary citizens feel that their supposedly democratic government no longer truly reflects their interests and is under the control of a variety of shadowy elites," the report cites Foreign Affairs as saying.

INEQUALITY

"Although the U.S. is the most developed country in the world, it is hard for the economic and social rights of its citizens to be soundly ensured," the report says.

In the process of economic recovery, the income inequality continued to be enlarged, the basic living conditions for the homeless people deteriorated, the health care system operated terribly and the education rights of average citizens were violated, according to the report.

VIOLATIONS ELSEWHERE

In the field of international human rights, the U.S. has long refused to approve some core human rights conventions of the United Nations and voted against some important UN human rights resolutions, the report says.

National Security Agency and other intelligence-gathering apparatus of the U.S. for a long time have spied on world leaders and civilians, according to the report.

Moreover, the U.S. continued to go even further to violate human rights in other countries, including infringing the privacy of citizens of other countries with the overseas monitoring project, killing large numbers of innocent civilians of other countries in drone strikes, and raping and killing locals by U.S. soldiers garrisoned overseas, it says.

Friday's report was the 16th such annual report published by China in response to U.S. attacks. Li Daojun, a professor with Law School of Shandong University, said the U.S. and China should expand mutual exchange and recognition on human rights causes. "The U.S. puts political rights above all else while China seeks to focus more on ensuring people's economic opportunities and development. In essence, it's the same because the two are interdependent."

[15]


The 2014 report stated:


On June 25 local time, the State Department of the United States released its country reports on human rights practices once again, making comments on the human rights situations in many countries while showing not a bit of regret for or intention to improve its own terrible human rights record. Plenty of facts show that, in 2014, the U.S., a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems. While its own human rights situation was increasingly grave, the U.S. violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more "red cards" in the international human rights field.

The U.S. was haunted by spreading guns, frequent occurrence of violent crimes, which threatened citizens' civil rights. Statistics showed that the use of firearms in the U.S. was behind 69 percent of murders, while for robberies, the figure was 40 percent, and for aggravated assaults, 21.6 percent (edition.cnn.com). The excessive use of force by police officers led to many deaths, sparking public outcry. An unarmed 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, a town in Missouri. After the grand jury of both Missouri and New York decided to bring no charges against the white police officer, massive protests broke out in more than 170 cities nationwide (cn.nytimes.com, November 25, 2014).

The U.S. used cruel tortures indiscriminately, notably those carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). To acquire intelligence from suspects of terrorism and extremism, the CIA used brutal methods, such as sleep deprivation, waterboarding, long-term solitary confinement, slamming prisoners against the wall, lashing, death threat and even "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding. United Nations human rights convention institutions such as the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee Against Torture had raised their concerns over issues in the U.S., including terrible detention conditions for convicts awaiting execution, abuse of brutal methods, secret detention, indefinite arbitrary detention, and illegal wire-tapping which infringed citizens' privacy. These institutions called on the U.S. to conduct swift, effective and fair investigations into all brutal behaviors and abuse of forces of the police force (www.un.org).

The U.S. is a country with grim problems of racial discrimination, and institutional discrimination against ethnic minorities continued. Serious racial bias persisted in the police and justice systems. Minority groups and indigenous people are subject to unfairness in environment, election, health care, housing, education and other fields. In August 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in its concluding observation on the periodic report of the U.S. on the latter's implementation of relevant convention, slammed the U.S. for violating the rights of ethnic minorities, indigenous people, immigrants and other minority groups. It criticized the fact that members of racial and ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately arrested, incarcerated and subjected to harsher sentences (tbinternet.ohchr.org).

Money is a deciding factor in the U.S. politics, and the U.S. citizens' political rights were not properly protected. Despite the highest midterm election spending in history, general election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest since World War II. "Dark money" flowed into elections, and the voting rights of racial minorities and other groups were intentionally suppressed. A few interest groups with power were able to influence the government's decision-making. As a renowned scholar pointed out sharply, the U.S. democratic system was experiencing a crisis of representation. "Ordinary citizens feel that their supposedly democratic government no longer truly reflects their interests and is under the control of a variety of shadowy elites (Foreign Affairs, September/October 2014)."

Although the U.S. is the most developed country in the world, it is hard for the economic and social rights of its citizens to be soundly ensured. In the process of economic recovery, the income inequality continued to be enlarged, the basic living conditions for the homeless people deteriorated, the health care system operated terribly and the education rights of average citizens were violated. In October 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs criticized the unprecedented water shut-offs in Detroit disproportionately affected the most vulnerable and poorest people, violating their right of access to drinking water and other international human rights.

American women and children's rights were not fully protected.
Women were discriminated at workplaces, and domestic violence was prevalent. Each year, 2.1 million American women on average were assaulted by men. Three females were murdered by their partner each day, and four females died each day as a result of abuse. In the U.S. military, reports of female soldiers getting harassed were on the rise, and more faced repercussions for reporting assaults. Millions of American children were homeless. Three children died each day as a result of abuse. School violence and sex assaults were pervasive and gun shootings happened from time to time.

National Security Agency and other intelligence-gathering apparatus of the U.S. for a long time have spied on world leaders and civilians. The U.S. has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. government 🦍 often takes an evasive or uncooperative attitude toward the criticism of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of UN, the council's working groups and special rapporteurs.

[16]

Read more:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Record_of_the_United_States
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 19, 2018, 01:18:01 pm »

Quote
Eddie: You don't think Cuba is more repressive than the US?  I suggest you try to move there. You can't.

That's biased BS.  You probably can't become a citizen of Cuba unless you marry a Cuban, but that's the same anywhere.  But you can go there for a holiday, or for a political conference (I know people who have been there, organised thru WSWS), and in Michael Moore's "Sicko" he took a dozen sick US citizens there and they got treated in hospital for free, and medicines free.  He wasn't allowed to go to the US part at Guantanamo.  After 50 years of US sanctions, their infrastructure is very run down, but that would be true in any country.

The ones that want to leave are the ones who have availed themselves of all the socialised free education, and then want to move somewhere else where they can earn more money for themselves and not pay Cuban taxes.  Greedy scum in other words.


The christian asylum seeker from Cuba I met in 2010-11 spoke English well, so I assume their education is at least half in English. That fits them perfectly for running offshore call centres for corporations or becoming bartenders and tour guides, making the big bucks compared to anyone still working for the Cuban govt "pretending to work and pretending to be paid". Perhaps taxing this free market that appeared as Castro was on his death bed can fund the govt and improve wages.  But u have to say also that if these people leave, whether they have their Cuban qualifications recognized I have no idea, but if they even work as low skill minimum wage for greed, their education failed.

Under communism all children are also wards of state and so are schooled in communism. All forms of art, music and literature are only approved to glorify the revolution. The same principle applies to all work, hence the hammer and sickle symbols. The sickles are a little ironic if there are no crops after scorched earth purges though. Anyway, would a programmer who likes to to work on apple, android and ms windows be as much a failure of communist education and greedy scum, as a painter or sculptor who isn't interested in portraits of revolutionaries?







Eddie, EVERYTHING we have access to in the USA is based on Imperial REPRESSION of other countries AND the majority of non-wealthy Americans.

How can I say such an "outrageous" statement?

Ask yourself a simple question? How would you feel if you HAD TO buy and sell everything you depend on with Russian Rubles?

Would that bother you a teensy weensy bit?

I think it would put a MOUNTAIN SIZED BURR under your Texas saddle.

It's NOT "okay" because War loving Incarceration Nation USA does it to everyone that ain't rich here and everyone that don't live in the USA.

Please DO NOT tell me that we "had to do that before some other country did it to us 😇 ;)". That is not a justification for routine repression. And yeah, economic repression DIRECTLY translates into slave wages, poverty, lack of freedom, strife, wars, murder, and so on HERE and abroad. To pretend it doesn't is sophistry.

Cuba is simply not in the same ball park with the level of repression the USA is NUMERO UNO at on this planet.

We did not get our World Reserve Currency “exorbitant privilege” by being the "land of the free". We GOT THAT BY REPRESSION here, there and everywhere, period. Everything the American Imperial Economic Hitmen have done is repression, whether you wish to admit it or not. No other country on the planet, no matter how many they killed for this or that reason, comes close to our level of despotic behavior, except for England and Spain a couple of centuries back, on a much, much smaller scale. 

The phrase “exorbitant privilege” was originally coined in the 1960s by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, then the French Minister of Finance. He was referring to the massive benefits imbuing to the United States for having the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California Berkeley, summarized it thusly:
Quote
It costs only a few cents for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to produce a $100 bill, but other countries had to pony up $100 of actual goods in order to obtain one.” Commodities are priced in dollars; trade exchange takes place in dollars; current account deficits are priced that way too. Enormous benefits accrue to the USA because of it.


Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 18, 2018, 09:02:09 pm »

Far-Right 🦀 Wins Presidency in Colombia: ‘A Frightening Result’ 😨

June 18, 2018

Ivan Duque, who is the candidate of former president Alvaro Uribe, won a solid victory for Colombia’s presidency and will probably take Colombia back towards civil war and internal repression, with the help of the US and other conservative governments, argues Manuel Rozental, of PueblosEnCamino.org

Quote
Manuel Rozental

Emmanuel Rozental is a Colombian activist, physician, and practicing surgeon with more than 40 years’ involvement in grassroots political organizing with youth, indigenous peoples, and urban and rural movements. He has been exiled several times to Canada for political activities. Academic in social and political sciences, strategist with social movements throughout the Americas and beyond.



SNIPPET from video interview:

Quote
So our fear is now that Colombia is the spearhead of the U.S. policy for this continent. And the U.S. policy for this continent in economic terms is this: war actually is not a means to an end. The resources and territories that are needed are not only a means to an end. War is the end in itself.

The Middle Eastern wars have activated the economy and have improved the economy in the U.S. [Inaudible] that Colombia’s role is one of the Israel of Latin America. And what comes here is a model and a new phase, neoliberalism is left behind.

The new phase such as Colombia and Mexico for capital from the U.S., and pushed by, promoted by U.S. corporations and the Pentagon, is actually a, let’s call it a mafia-type capitalism which is, on the one hand, drug trafficking and drug mafias together with governments and corporations, and launching all types of wars constantly.

I am not trying to generate fear. I’m just showing the type of movements we’re seeing developing here.

https://therealnews.com/stories/far-right-wins-presidency-in-colombia-a-frightening-result
Posted by: AGelbert
« on: June 18, 2018, 06:16:35 pm »

Cuba versus the USA in regard to the Level of Freedoms

I have no wish to trade my current repressive government for an even more repressive government so that I personally can live a lower standard of living. Tell me again why that's a good thing?

Oh come on.  Even you acknowledge to develop any kind of society that is remotely "sustainable" we need to Power Down, use less fossil fuels and live closer to the land with more of the population involved in food production.  The Cuban Revolution forced all those things to happen, and today Cuba is far better prepared for SHTF Day than the FSoA.  Voluntarily giving up your vacations to the VI and lowering your standard of living is a way to provide a better chance for your kids to have any kind of future at all.
I've got to second RE on this.  At least with the current government evidence can support or disprove that the government is repressive or not.  It is a matter of opinion but only so far, because facts are facts are facts and repression can be measured.  In contrast any government we 'trade' it for is a total speculative unknown because it has not yet happened.  It is a logical fallacy of some kind.  Maybe this one?


RE

Perhaps expressing two things which can't possibly be traded is not exactly an amphiboly in a strict grammatical sense but the content of Eddie's statement is a claim that this is the best of all possible world by equating knowledge of a future which has not yet transpired.  That violates causality and is impossible.  It is a bourgeois acceptance of the status quo.

If you are confused think of having "repressive government" on both sides of a mathematical equation.  Basic algebra would cancel them out leaving you with the conclusion that we should accept what we have now because it must be the best.  That is Eddie's claim.  Problem is one of Eddies 'repressive governments' is imaginary and in the future and other one is not and is here with us right now.  Two different things which can't be equated can't cancel each other out, be the current government repressive or not.


 


Well does "repression" have anything to do with resource scarcity? There is always resource scarcity more or less, less in good times, more in hard times. But now we have resource depletion and too many mouths to feed and therefore too many screams of social injustice and lack of equality. Who gets the biggest pieces of pie. Those with money and power. Who are the most repressed? Those living in places where the pie is declared evenly distributed by dictum. It's all bullshit of course, because the strongest, most opportunistic, smartest and most able always get more pie even when the pie is getting devoured. Idealists propose otherwise. That is what ideals are. Not reality! Reality is dark and stark. Nobody wants to look at it. They would rather just keep yammering about injustice and who is going to bell the cat. It's not going to change when the resources are next to nothing. The same fight for power and pie will continue in the midst of starvation. Only the weak will have less breath to scream and the strong and opportunistic will have more reason to uphold "private property". It has always been so. It will continue to be so. So Scream On. Cheers.


I think resource scarcity and repression are clearly linked.

In a world (like the one humans once lived on a few generations ago), with lots of wide open spaces and not that many people, it is much easier to live a life free of government repression.

For nearly 100 years, malcontents from the lower 48 went and lived like mountain men in Alaska on public land. They trapped and fished, and lived for years without any contact with the government. Now the US Forest Service has helicopters and technology that can spot a cooking fire miles away. All those old guys died off and new ones are not allowed. The commons has been effectively cleared, because that public land has to be managed. By "managers". Bullshit. The Forest Service is in service to the corporations who profit from the resources, not the people. It's that simple.

Even though the US Constitution GUARANTEES  the right for Americans to occupy public land.

But yeah. I do agree that the idea that you can redistribute wealth equitably to build a better world overlooks the fact that some people are greedy no matter what their politics, and that powerful people always manage to do pretty much what they want, regardless.

Yep. Nevertheless, the following extremely profitable business in the USA has absolutely nothing to do with resource depletion and everything to do with carefully and cruelly planned exploitation, humiliation, impovershment, legal slavery and the methodical destruction of all socially beneficial cohesion in communites of color. I am certain that Cuba is less repressive, at least in this regard.

 
Rattling the Bars: More Arrests And Jail Time

June 17, 2018

Executive Producer Eddie Conway uncovers why more arrests are not resulting in safer making communities.


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