My late friend Cecile Pineda wrote a powerful book arguing that nuclear war was already with us. As I wrote in my eulogy for Cecile, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste is collective suicide.
On March 22, China and Russia issued a joint statement of their intention to avoid the use of nuclear weapons.
Within days, Great Britain announced it will ship DU ammunition to Ukraine for use in the proxy war against Russia. Meanwhile, research physicist Chris Busby published data showing elevated levels of uranium in the atmosphere over the British isles. That’s a fact, and his hypothesis about causation is that DU is already present in munitions used by Ukraine.
The British government’s announcement has had several consequences.
☢️ Some commenters wondered if the plan to irradiate Ukraine’s prime agricultural land would sit well with big corporate players like Monsanto that have been buying up real estate there.
☢️ Russia announced it plans to move nuclear weapons into Belarus this summer. (Naturally the U.S. and NATO nations are crying foul without acknowledging that they already have nuclear weapons in position in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Türkiye if not Poland, too.)
☢️ More attention was paid to data on the long term effects in Serbia of being bombed with DU munitions by NATO during the Clinton administration e.g. “5,500 out of every 100,000 Serbs suffer from some kind of carcinoma, a rate nearly three times the global average.”
☢️ Same for data on the use of DU by the U.S. and NATO in Iraq, especially concentrated in the area of Fallujah. Clusters of birth defects occurred early there attributed to DU, and these persist.
The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) condemned the UK decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine and elaborated thus:
A byproduct of the nuclear enriching process used to make nuclear fuel or nuclear weapons, DU emits three quarters of the radioactivity of natural uranium and shares many of its risks and dangers. It is used in armour piercing rounds as it is heavy and can easily penetrate steel. However on impact, toxic or radioactive dust can be released and subsequently inhaled.
DU shells were used extensively by the US and British in Iraq in 1991 and 2003, as well as in the Balkans during the 1990s.
It is thought that the extensive use of these shells is responsible for the sharp rise in the incidence rate of some cancers like breast cancer or lymphoma in the areas they were used. Other illnesses linked to DU include kidney failure, nervous system disorders, lung disease and reproductive problems. However, a lack of reliable data on exposure to DU means no large-scale study on its true impact exists.
DU sidesteps frying its targets to a crisp. In other words, the thermo part of thermonuclear is absent. And that is a good thing.
My friend Fang used to protest during the Iraq war using a sign that said D.U. = war crime. I used to tease him about what passing motorists made of his message, guessing that they read D.U. as the Homer Simpson exclamation, “Duh!”
Recently the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Russian officials including President Putin for allegedly kidnapping and interning thousands of Ukrainian children.
The U.S. has not signed on to the ICC (nor have Russia or Ukraine) and in fact at one point the U.S. threatened to arrest and sanction ICC judges if anyone in the U.S. were to be indicted for war crimes in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, the corporate media that serve as stenographers to the government have widely promoted the ICC news and President Biden used it as a pretext for further vilifying Putin.
Eva Bartlett, a Canadian journalist who covers the war in Ukraine from on site, interviewed a refugee mom in Russia about the alleged kidnappings. The woman shared that her own mother-in-law had heard such claims circulating in Ukraine (where the older parent remained) and was alarmed about her grandchildren’s safety. The kids’ mom reassured grandma that they were fine and allowed to move freely in and out of the refugee camp where they’re staying now.
War propaganda often spreads claims of harm to children by evildoers on the other side. Claims of kidnapping, atrocities, or babies thrown out of incubators are bread and butter propaganda tropes that warmakers never tire of using. Because inflaming emotions with assertions about alleged harm to kids work on an audience driven by sentimental thinking but lacking a clear analysis of facts on the ground.
One of the reasons I have little interest in examining war atrocities reported on either side in the Ukraine war is that I know 1) truth as seen through the fog of war is murky at best; and 2) all armies commit atrocities against civilians in warfare. Just ask the villagers who survived the U.S. Army’s My Lai massacre.
Let’s talk about another real harm to children: recruiting them to fight in wars for conquest.
AOC, a Democrat who represents some of the low income youth of color who reside in the Bronx, is advertising her desire to “be of service” by connecting them with military recruiters.
a former U.S. Central Command commander, recently retired,.. at a closed door meeting in a large, empty conference room with the [1st Marine] division’s officers..shocked many of us when he said, “Marines, there is no ongoing WMD program in Iraq, but you are going to war anyway.”
He paused, and with an exasperated look on his face, said gravely, “The administration is cooking the books on the intel about WMD in Iraq.”
This was a leader who had been in charge of all U.S. military activities in the region for more than three years and had the highest of security clearances.
He let that thought hang for a moment — that the administration was cooking the books — and then continued, “But if you don’t go through the Iraqi Army like a hot knife through butter, I’ll disown every one of you.”
So who’s really guilty of harming children — those who throw them gleefully into the gears of the imperial war machine, or those who escort them and their parents out of war zones?
My friend Pat Taub who lives in Maine wrote to me this morning, “the local NPR station announced for a future series on the military they were soliciting stories from locals re: their military service. I had fantasies of the Pentagon sending out a directive to all NPR stations to broadcast these stories.”
I suspect the mechanism is more likely one of the many new narrative management agencies that Matt Taibbi has been reporting on, but the end result is the same.
Let’s hope the ICC considers who has been shelling civilians in the Donbas since 2014 (that would be the government of Ukraine) as they examine the inflammatory claim of wartime kidnapping.
Then they might move on to indicting someone for half a million Iraqi children dying as the result of sanctions. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, heard here, is dead now, but plenty of the neocons responsible are free, and none have been held responsible for this war crime of mammoth proportions.
The demonstration will make connections between the human and financial toll of U.S. militarism at home and abroad. Key demands include:
Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
No war with China!
End U.S. aid to racist apartheid Israel!
Fight racism & bigotry at home!
U.S. hands off Haiti!
End Sanctions on Syria!
From the United National Antiwar Coalition’s flyer for March 18 actions:
The US/NATO proxy war in Ukraine puts the US in an escalating conflict with Russia, a major nuclear power. Now, a coalition of progressive organizations have come together to organize this demonstration. We join with groups around the world that are beginning to build big protests against this war. We join in demanding “no more weapons and no more money for the Ukraine war.”
We are also seeing increasing US aggression against China, another major nuclear power. As Syria recovers from the devastating earthquake, the US has refused to drop the sanctions against Syria and the right-wing government on Israel is increasing its attacks against the Palestinian people, Iran, Syria and has recently bombed the airport at Aleppo, which is used to bring aid to the Syrian earthquake victims.
The US is clearly the main cause of war around the world with bases that surround Russia and China and foreign bases that number 20 times those of all other countries in the world combined. The ever-increasing military budget drains money that could be used for human needs instead of war. Therefore, we must build a strong antiwar movement here in the US, the main imperialist power in the world.
We need a government to support human needs before the war machine. We need those countless $billions for health and education—not death and destruction. After the March 18 protest, we ask you to join with UNAC to build strong local and regional action during the week of April 15 – 22.
If you can’t make it to Washington DC on March 18, there are a number of actions taking place around the country in solidarity. You can find them here.
In Maine or northern New England on March 18?
Protesters against U.S. involvement in Ukraine will gather near Portland in Westbrook, Maine from 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 at the intersection of Stroudwater Street and William Clark Drive. (For GPS try Westbrook Market – 28 Stroudwater Street.)
The Maine event is co-sponsored by: Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Party for Socialism & Liberation Maine, and Maine Veterans for Peace.
If you click the country name it links to an article or video on U.S. meddling in that country. Note that some of the corporate media sources or government-aligned NGOs deny U.S. meddling because of course they do.
Bottom line: why does the U.S. think its vital interests lie all over the planet, and how much does all this meddling cost? It’s nearly impossible to quantify because so much of the cost is hidden in support for foundations, NGOs, or just plain CIA “dark” i.e. invisible activities.
In terms of human suffering, violence, and bad will generated, that, too, is difficult to quantify.
As anecdotal evidence, I’ll leave you with a quote from Caitlin Johnstone’s recent post on the AUKUS submarine deal:
In reality, Australia is not arming itself against China to protect itself from China.
Australia is arming itself against China to protect itself from the United States.
Some events in history seem significant at the time. They often involve explosions (like the bombing of Nord Stream pipelines) or mass deaths (9/11 attack on NYC skyscrapers). But sometimes they are more subtle. When Iran and Saudi Arabia restored diplomatic relations this week with China brokering the agreement, nothing exploded and no one died. Yet this event is evidence of a seismic shift in global power dynamics as the world moves steadily away from domination by the U.S. hegemon and, not incidentally, the U.S. petrodollar. In short, the U.S. can no longer exploit a regional rivalry that has been resolved.
Meanwhile, China announced it was appointing a new head for the People’s Liberation Army. General Li Shangfu has been sanctioned by the U.S. for buying weapons from Russia. Probably more significant is his expertise in aerospace. The Pentagon has long since established it intends outer space to be the next “warfighting domain” and in fact all nations use communications satellites already to connect their military personnel and outposts.
Some of you may remember China earlier this month publishing a gloves-off document detailing the many war crimes and other belligerent actions of the U.S. If you haven’t yet had time to read “U.S. Hegemony and Its Perils“, I recommend you do. It is also likely to be seen in hindsight as historic, a highly significant departure for usually tactful conduct by Chinese officialdom as it is blunt, truthful, and, well, undiplomatic.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. a cycle of bank failures seems to be underway with the first domino to fall being the Silicon Valley Bank. Most of its deposits were uninsured, and several other banks lost millions upon SVB’s descent into insolvency.
Many more tech firms who banked with SVB could also suffer significant losses. RocketLab USA is among them.
Will we see a repeat of the Obama administration’s signature “banks got bailed out, we got sold out” in 2008? Of course we will. It’s already underway. This just in from CNN:
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday instructed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to guarantee Silicon Valley Bank customers will have access to all of their money starting Monday.
By guaranteeing all deposits – even the uninsured money customers kept with the failed bank – the government can ensure public confidence in America’s banking system, Yellen, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said in a joint statement.
Meanwhile, using migrant children as young as 9 to work in meat packing facilities is happening all over the U.S., implicating firms like Whole Foods (owned by Amazon). Some states are even legalizing the practice. Oh, and some in Congress want to raise the Social Security and Medicare retirement age from 65 to 70. So that would amount to six decades of working for the man many earning only a minimum wage that hasn’t risen in decades.
No wonder so many branches of the federal government are engaged in taxpayer-funded thought control via social media platforms. Testimony before a House committee this week by journalist Matt Taibbi went far beyond anything envisioned by Kafka.
The video of the exchange between bonehead reps and a seasoned journalist who believes in both the 1st amendment and protecting his sources is worth watching if only for the astonished expression Taibbi wears throughout much of the hearing. He is clearly struggling not to LOL while remaining respectful in a governmental body that he may have once respected.
If you’re a reader like me, Taibbi’s report after the fact is available here.
Too long, didn’t read? Here’s the executive summary: Multiple agencies of the feds insisted that platforms like Twitter and Facebook shut down user accounts that were telling inconvenient truths or asking inconvenient questions (e.g. Could the covid pathogen been created in a lab rather than evolving in nature?). This was and is done under the guise of combating misinformation, but examining Twitter’s internal documents reveal that it is after all just plain censorship.
The U.S. government does not want people to think thoughts that might threaten its power to rule over us.
Dying empires typically use their remaining strength to control and threaten those who cannot be controlled. While you might think that the U.S. would consolidate its power by regulating banking fraud, railroad safety, and providing for its elderly, you would be wrong. The empire appears determined to keep doubling down until it arrives at nearly zero.
China, Russia, and Iran are mature civilizations whose conduct contrasts sharply with that of the bully who is getting his comeuppance.
Manufacturing consent for U.S. wars by staging Punch and Judy shows of Republicans versus Democrats may be nearing the end of its usefulness.
Now that the U.S. is all out for all war, all the time, these distinctions are beginning to unravel. Case in point is the knock down, drag out fight in Maine’s House of Representatives this week over a resolution expressing support for fighting Russia over there in Ukraine.
A similar resolution a year ago passed almost unanimously, but not this time. Fifty-four representatives from all over the state voted no, while 87 still on the bandwagon voted in favor and it passed.
The sponsor and most of the yes votes are staunch liberal Democrats whose carefully managed corporate news feed leaves them vulnerable to a profound lack of knowledge about a war that actually kicked off in 2014. I say profound because their resolution’s litany of Russian crimes reads like a tabloid.
These are the same people ignoring the obvious war crime and environmental disaster of destroying the Nord Stream pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Germany. Maybe ignorance is bliss but it may be time to wake up: Seymour Hersh has been a trending topic on Twitter all day. Could liberals actually believe that the man who broke the My Lai massacre and Abu Ghraib torture stories is probably just a Putin lover these days?
On the other hand we have kneejerk Republicans who were fine with Trump’s conduct of U.S. wars but are dead set against this war because Dark Brandon started it. And he profits from it through his family’s shady connections in Ukraine’s energy sector. And by forcing Europe to buy fracked gas shipped over from the U.S. at a hugely higher price than the Russian gas formerly flowing through Nord Stream.
The predictable accusations were made in debate over Maine’s resolution. Those who spoke against it were dangerous appeasers a la Neville Chamberlain caving to Hitler in 1938. Those who spoke in favor pointed this out.
It went downhill from there.
Political grandstanding aside, some of us have given legislators our feedback. I agree with my representative on almost nothing domestically but I thanked him for representing my views with his “no” vote.
Another Mainer took it upon himself to write to one of the Democratic representatives who dared to buck their party’s rush to WW3 by voting no.
Hello, Rep. Warren,
I’m from Southwest Harbor, not in your district, but I want to thank you for parting company with the rest of your Dem (my party, which I find increasingly hard to recognize in recent years) colleagues on the Ukraine resolution.
I’m not aware of what your reasoning was, but it has been clear to me and anyone who has paid the slightest attention to Russian and Ukrainian history, to the 8-year bloody aftermath war against ethnic Russian civilians in Ukraine after our overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014, and to our prodding NATO into ever-increasing provocation of Russia, would have to think that supporting that far-right quasi-Nazi government we installed is immoral.
The war wouldn’t have happened if we’d listened to Putin’s clear legitimate red-line against NATO encroachment. The terrible toll on civilians would have been almost non-existent had we not been deliberately prolonging an unwinnable war with aid better spent here. And all the suffering in the rest of the world would not exist if it were not for the (ineffective) sanctions we have thrown against Russia.
Whether one approves of Mr. Putin’s approach to foreign policy or not, the resolution’s sponsors’ blame for the horror is inappropriately assigned to him. It is the war-mongers in the US government who are responsible. Thanks again for your vote. I hope your constituents are half as savvy as you are.
I also noticed that an ambitious Republican representative from a town I used to live in voted in favor of the resolution. She is the type of public official who rides any bandwagon that looks likely to make her more famous. I didn’t bother writing to her.
Why do I see a donnybrook in the Maine State House as significant? Because public support for the proxy war on Russia in Ukraine is eroding fast among members of both corporate parties.
And third parties are hanging their hats on opposition to the war. Not just because Ukraine is losing and will lose — that’s been clear all along to people with decent sources of information. But because the costs — moral, financial, and environmental — are skyrocketing, along with the dangers of a nuclear WW3.
What party does this young person belong to? Unknown, but I can guarantee you that elected officials are scared of this happening at their town halls.
And that’s probably why Maine’s congressional delegation hasn’t held a town hall in years.
My critics have already jumped in to lament my aligning with a Tweeter who is “unsavory” despite the fact that I’m not aligning with them on any issue other than dissenting about the Ukraine war and government lies on Nord Stream.
In these perilous times, I can live with that.
My friend Cynthia Howard a year ago in Maine with her homemade banner warning of the dangers of nuclear war. A year later, she’s still out there. Join us March 18 in Westbrook, Maine if you share our concerns and don’t mind standing with the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Party for Socialism & Liberation Maine, and Maine Veterans for Peace.
REVISED March 10 to correct an error:
Thanks to former Rep. Jeff Evangelos who reminded me that last year’s resolution did meet with some principled opposition.
Urgency must replace complacency. The recent decades of tranquillity were not the norm in human affairs, but an aberration.
Australia’s holiday from history is over.
Holiday from history. That is quite a concept. Who the f ever gets a holiday from history? In this instance, I believe the phrase is supposed to mean war is on the horizon and soon. Because history is only a series of wars, and wars are normal, and your complacency is slack.
Pax Australia as enjoyed under the soft authority of Pax Americana is about to come to an end if these authors get their way.
Here’s context for the quote from Caitlin Johnstone:
The report by the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age — which former Prime Minister Paul Keating just called “the most egregious and provocative news presentation of any newspaper I have witnessed in over 50 years of active public life” — actually comes close to actually admitting that there’s a concerted propaganda campaign designed to increase hysteria about China and manufacture consent for war. The “expert” panel asserts that there needs to be a “psychological shift” in the public toward this direction which they must be actively persuaded to accept.
“Most important of all is a psychological shift,” the report says. “Urgency must replace complacency. The recent decades of tranquillity were not the norm in human affairs, but an aberration. Australia’s holiday from history is over.”
Plenty of fearful reasons for Australian taxpayers to enrich those guys behind Uncle Sam in the cartoon above.
Some have suggested that Australia, not Taiwan, is slated to be the next Ukraine. Others have suggested it could be Japan.
I haven’t seen any polls but I’m going out on a limb and say that the vast majority of people living in these places which are likely candidates to be selected for a proxy war on China do not want that to happen.
But it’s clear that the empire thinks it can act with impunity at this point in history.
Impunity supported by the profound lack of curiosity about whodunit on Nord Stream evident throughout western media. Imperial control 0f that sector is working well with independent media covertly choked by lawfare, financial attacks, shadow banning, and cancellation. I’ve come to feel that getting authentic information is akin to getting nutritious food — it’s possible, but you have to work at it.
Who else is curious about NATO nuclear weapons and related systems being moved around? I know I am.
Imperial plotters fancy themselves eagles (dark eagles in the service of Dark Brandon, apparently) but the whole world knows they’re really more like pigeons.
My recent interview for the International Friends of Crimea show by Regis Tremblay where Bruce Gagnon and I report on Rage Against the War Machine actions and the current mood in the U.S. after a year of pouring $100 billion into war in Ukraine.
Includes discussion of why liberals and Democrats are gung-ho for a looming World War 3 with both Russia and China, and the threat of nuclear annihilation that entails.
As U.S. social media companies rush to do the bidding of the federal government and restrict dissenting narratives, Regis had his YouTube channel with thousands of followers shut down earlier this year. Some free speech we’ve got, eh?
As we mention in the video, we’re organizing for a sister rally in Maine on the next day of national action, March 18. Co-sponsors include the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, the Maine Natural Guard, and Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick.
In Maine we will hold a ‘No war with Russia’ peace vigil on Saturday, March 18 at 1:30 pm in Westbrook. (Intersection of Stroudwater St. & William Clark Dr. (Westbrook Market & Dunkin are there)
Let us know if your organization would like to be listed as a co-sponsor.
A document published recently on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China is long, well-researched, and worth the time to read in its entirety. I repost it here with that recommendation.
Access it at its source in various languages if your browser allows it:
IV. Technological Hegemony—Monopoly and Suppression
V. Cultural Hegemony—Spreading False Narratives
Since becoming the world’s most powerful country after the two world wars and the Cold War, the United States has acted more boldly to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, pursue, maintain and abuse hegemony, advance subversion and infiltration, and willfully wage wars, bringing harm to the international community.
The United States has developed a hegemonic playbook to stage “color revolutions,” instigate regional disputes, and even directly launch wars under the guise of promoting democracy, freedom and human rights. Clinging to the Cold War mentality, the United States has ramped up bloc politics and stoked conflict and confrontation. It has overstretched the concept of national security, abused export controls and forced unilateral sanctions upon others. It has taken a selective approach to international law and rules, utilizing or discarding them as it sees fit, and has sought to impose rules that serve its own interests in the name of upholding a “rules-based international order.”
This report, by presenting the relevant facts, seeks to expose the U.S. abuse of hegemony in the political, military, economic, financial, technological and cultural fields, and to draw greater international attention to the perils of the U.S. practices to world peace and stability and the well-being of all peoples.
I. Political Hegemony — Throwing Its Weight Around
The United States has long been attempting to mold other countries and the world order with its own values and political system in the name of promoting democracy and human rights.
◆ Instances of U.S. interference in other countries’ internal affairs abound. In the name of “promoting democracy,” the United States practiced a “Neo-Monroe Doctrine” in Latin America, instigated “color revolutions” in Eurasia, and orchestrated the “Arab Spring” in West Asia and North Africa, bringing chaos and disaster to many countries.
In 1823, the United States announced the Monroe Doctrine. While touting an “America for the Americans,” what it truly wanted was an “America for the United States.”
Since then, the policies of successive U.S. governments toward Latin America and the Caribbean Region have been riddled with political interference, military intervention and regime subversion. From its 61-year hostility toward and blockade of Cuba to its overthrow of the Allende government of Chile, U.S. policy on this region has been built on one maxim-those who submit will prosper; those who resist shall perish.
The year 2003 marked the beginning of a succession of “color revolutions” — the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine and the “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. Department of State openly admitted playing a “central role” in these “regime changes.” The United States also interfered in the internal affairs of the Philippines, ousting President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1986 and President Joseph Estrada in 2001 through the so-called “People Power Revolutions.”
In January 2023, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released his new book Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love. He revealed in it that the United States had plotted to intervene in Venezuela. The plan was to force the Maduro government to reach an agreement with the opposition, deprive Venezuela of its ability to sell oil and gold for foreign exchange, exert high pressure on its economy, and influence the 2018 presidential election.
◆ The U.S. exercises double standards on international rules. Placing its self-interest first, the United States has walked away from international treaties and organizations, and put its domestic law above international law. In April 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would cut off all U.S. funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the excuse that the organization “supports, or participates in the management of a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” The United States quit UNESCO twice in 1984 and 2017. In 2017, it announced leaving the Paris Agreement on climate change. In 2018, it announced its exit from the UN Human Rights Council, citing the organization’s “bias” against Israel and failure to protect human rights effectively. In 2019, the United States announced its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty to seek unfettered development of advanced weapons. In 2020, it announced pulling out of the Treaty on Open Skies.
The United States has also been a stumbling block to biological arms control by opposing negotiations on a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and impeding international verification of countries’ activities relating to biological weapons. As the only country in possession of a chemical weapons stockpile, the United States has repeatedly delayed the destruction of chemical weapons and remained reluctant in fulfilling its obligations. It has become the biggest obstacle to realizing “a world free of chemical weapons.”
◆ The United States is piecing together small blocs through its alliance system. It has been forcing an “Indo-Pacific Strategy” onto the Asia-Pacific region, assembling exclusive clubs like the Five Eyes, the Quad and AUKUS, and forcing regional countries to take sides. Such practices are essentially meant to create division in the region, stoke confrontation and undermine peace.
◆ The U.S. arbitrarily passes judgment on democracy in other countries, and fabricates a false narrative of “democracy versus authoritarianism” to incite estrangement, division, rivalry and confrontation. In December 2021, the United States hosted the first “Summit for Democracy,” which drew criticism and opposition from many countries for making a mockery of the spirit of democracy and dividing the world. In March 2023, the United States will host another “Summit for Democracy,” which remains unwelcome and will again find no support.
II. Military Hegemony — Wanton Use of Force
The history of the United States is characterized by violence and expansion. Since it gained independence in 1776, the United States has constantly sought expansion by force: it slaughtered Indians, invaded Canada, waged a war against Mexico, instigated the American-Spanish War, and annexed Hawaii. After World War II, the wars either provoked or launched by the United States included the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, the Libyan War and the Syrian War, abusing its military hegemony to pave the way for expansionist objectives. In recent years, the U.S. average annual military budget has exceeded 700 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 40 percent of the world’s total, more than the 15 countries behind it combined. The United States has about 800 overseas military bases, with 173,000 troops deployed in 159 countries.
According to the book America Invades: How We’ve Invaded or been Militarily Involved with almost Every Country on Earth, the United States has fought or been militarily involved with almost all the 190-odd countries recognized by the United Nations with only three exceptions. The three countries were “spared” because the United States did not find them on the map.
◆ As former U.S. President Jimmy Carter put it, the United States is undoubtedly the most warlike nation in the history of the world. According to a Tufts University report, “Introducing the Military Intervention Project: A new Dataset on U.S. Military Interventions, 1776-2019,” the United States undertook nearly 400 military interventions globally between those years, 34 percent of which were in Latin America and the Caribbean, 23 percent in East Asia and the Pacific, 14 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, and 13 percent in Europe. Currently, its military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa is on the rise.
Alex Lo, a South China Morning Post columnist, pointed out that the United States has rarely distinguished between diplomacy and war since its founding. It overthrew democratically elected governments in many developing countries in the 20th century and immediately replaced them with pro-American puppet regimes. Today, in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen, the United States is repeating its old tactics of waging proxy, low-intensity, and drone wars.
◆ U.S. military hegemony has caused humanitarian tragedies. Since 2001, the wars and military operations launched by the United States in the name of fighting terrorism have claimed over 900,000 lives with some 335,000 of them civilians, injured millions and displaced tens of millions. The 2003 Iraq War resulted in some 200,000 to 250,000 civilian deaths, including over 16,000 directly killed by the U.S. military, and left more than a million homeless.
The United States has created 37 million refugees around the world. Since 2012, the number of Syrian refugees alone has increased tenfold. Between 2016 and 2019, 33,584 civilian deaths were documented in the Syrian fightings, including 3,833 killed by U.S.-led coalition bombings, half of them women and children. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reported on 9 November 2018 that the air strikes launched by U.S. forces on Raqqa alone killed 1,600 Syrian civilians.
The two-decades-long war in Afghanistan devastated the country. A total of 47,000 Afghan civilians and 66,000 to 69,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers unrelated to the September 11 attacks were killed in U.S. military operations, and more than 10 million people were displaced. The war in Afghanistan destroyed the foundation of economic development there and plunged the Afghan people into destitution. After the “Kabul debacle” in 2021, the United States announced that it would freeze some 9.5 billion dollars in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank, a move considered as “pure looting.”
In September 2022, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu commented at a rally that the United States has waged a proxy war in Syria, turned Afghanistan into an opium field and heroin factory, thrown Pakistan into turmoil, and left Libya in incessant civil unrest. The United States does whatever it takes to rob and enslave the people of any country with underground resources.
The United States has also adopted appalling methods in war. During the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War, the United States used massive quantities of chemical and biological weapons as well as cluster bombs, fuel-air bombs, graphite bombs and depleted uranium bombs, causing enormous damage on civilian facilities, countless civilian casualties and lasting environmental pollution.
III. Economic Hegemony — Looting and Exploitation
After World War II, the United States led efforts to set up the Bretton Woods System, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which, together with the Marshall Plan, formed the international monetary system centered around the U.S. dollar. In addition, the United States has also established institutional hegemony in the international economic and financial sector by manipulating the weighted voting systems, rules and arrangements of international organizations including “approval by 85 percent majority,” and its domestic trade laws and regulations. By taking advantage of the dollar’s status as the major international reserve currency, the United States is basically collecting “seigniorage” from around the world; and using its control over international organizations, it coerces other countries into serving America’s political and economic strategy.
◆ The United States exploits the world’s wealth with the help of “seigniorage.” It costs only about 17 cents to produce a 100 dollar bill, but other countries had to pony up 100 dollar of actual goods in order to obtain one. It was pointed out more than half a century ago, that the United States enjoyed exorbitant privilege and deficit without tears created by its dollar, and used the worthless paper note to plunder the resources and factories of other nations.
◆ The hegemony of U.S. dollar is the main source of instability and uncertainty in the world economy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States abused its global financial hegemony and injected trillions of dollars into the global market, leaving other countries, especially emerging economies, to pay the price. In 2022, the Fed ended its ultra-easy monetary policy and turned to aggressive interest rate hike, causing turmoil in the international financial market and substantial depreciation of other currencies such as the Euro, many of which dropped to a 20-year low. As a result, a large number of developing countries were challenged by high inflation, currency depreciation and capital outflows. This was exactly what Nixon’s secretary of the treasury John Connally once remarked, with self-satisfaction yet sharp precision, that “the dollar is our currency, but it is your problem.”
◆ With its control over international economic and financial organizations, the United States imposes additional conditions to their assistance to other countries. In order to reduce obstacles to U.S. capital inflow and speculation, the recipient countries are required to advance financial liberalization and open up financial markets so that their economic policies would fall in line with America’s strategy. According to the Review of International Political Economy, along with the 1,550 debt relief programs extended by the IMF to its 131 member countries from 1985 to 2014, as many as 55,465 additional political conditions had been attached.
◆ The United States willfully suppresses its opponents with economic coercion. In the 1980s, to eliminate the economic threat posed by Japan, and to control and use the latter in service of America’s strategic goal of confronting the Soviet Union and dominating the world, the United States leveraged its hegemonic financial power against Japan, and concluded the Plaza Accord. As a result, Yen was pushed up, and Japan was pressed to open up its financial market and reform its financial system. The Plaza Accord dealt a heavy blow to the growth momentum of the Japanese economy, leaving Japan to what was later called “three lost decades.”
◆ America’s economic and financial hegemony has become a geopolitical weapon. Doubling down on unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction,” the United States has enacted such domestic laws as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and introduced a series of executive orders to sanction specific countries, organizations or individuals. Statistics show that U.S. sanctions against foreign entities increased by 933 percent from 2000 to 2021. The Trump administration alone has imposed more than 3,900 sanctions, which means three sanctions per day. So far, the United States had or has imposed economic sanctions on nearly 40 countries across the world, including Cuba, China, Russia, the DPRK, Iran and Venezuela, affecting nearly half of the world’s population. “The United States of America” has turned itself into “the United States of Sanctions.” And “long-arm jurisdiction” has been reduced to nothing but a tool for the United States to use its means of state power to suppress economic competitors and interfere in normal international business. This is a serious departure from the principles of liberal market economy that the United States has long boasted.
IV. Technological Hegemony — Monopoly and Suppression
The United States seeks to deter other countries’ scientific, technological and economic development by wielding monopoly power, suppression measures and technology restrictions in high-tech fields.
◆ The United States monopolizes intellectual property in the name of protection. Taking advantage of the weak position of other countries, especially developing ones, on intellectual property rights and the institutional vacancy in relevant fields, the United States reaps excessive profits through monopoly. In 1994, the United States pushed forward the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), forcing the Americanized process and standards in intellectual property protection in an attempt to solidify its monopoly on technology.
In the 1980s, to contain the development of Japan’s semiconductor industry, the United States launched the “301” investigation, built bargaining power in bilateral negotiations through multilateral agreements, threatened to label Japan as conducting unfair trade, and imposed retaliatory tariffs, forcing Japan to sign the U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Agreement. As a result, Japanese semiconductor enterprises were almost completely driven out of global competition, and their market share dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent. Meanwhile, with the support of the U.S. government, a large number of U.S. semiconductor enterprises took the opportunity and grabbed larger market share.
◆ The United States politicizes, weaponizes technological issues and uses them as ideological tools. Overstretching the concept of national security, the United States mobilized state power to suppress and sanction Chinese company Huawei, restricted the entry of Huawei products into the U.S. market, cut off its supply of chips and operating systems, and coerced other countries to ban Huawei from undertaking local 5G network construction. It even talked Canada into unwarrantedly detaining Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou for nearly three years.
The United States has fabricated a slew of excuses to clamp down on China’s high-tech enterprises with global competitiveness, and has put more than 1,000 Chinese enterprises on sanction lists. In addition, the United States has also imposed controls on biotechnology, artificial intelligence and other high-end technologies, reinforced export restrictions, tightened investment screening, suppressed Chinese social media apps such as TikTok and WeChat, and lobbied the Netherlands and Japan to restrict exports of chips and related equipment or technology to China.
The United States has also practiced double standards in its policy on China-related technological professionals. To sideline and suppress Chinese researchers, since June 2018, visa validity has been shortened for Chinese students majoring in certain high-tech-related disciplines, repeated cases have occurred where Chinese scholars and students going to the United States for exchange programs and study were unjustifiably denied and harassed, and large-scale investigation on Chinese scholars working in the United States was carried out.
◆ The United States solidifies its technological monopoly in the name of protecting democracy. By building small blocs on technology such as the “chips alliance” and “clean network,” the United States has put “democracy” and “human rights” labels on high-technology, and turned technological issues into political and ideological issues, so as to fabricate excuses for its technological blockade against other countries. In May 2019, the United States enlisted 32 countries to the Prague 5G Security Conference in the Czech Republic and issued the Prague Proposal in an attempt to exclude China’s 5G products. In April 2020, then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the “5G clean path,” a plan designed to build technological alliance in the 5G field with partners bonded by their shared ideology on democracy and the need to protect “cyber security.” The measures, in essence, are the U.S. attempts to maintain its technological hegemony through technological alliances.
◆ The United States abuses its technological hegemony by carrying out cyber attacks and eavesdropping. The United States has long been notorious as an “empire of hackers,” blamed for its rampant acts of cyber theft around the world. It has all kinds of means to enforce pervasive cyber attacks and surveillance, including using analog base station signals to access mobile phones for data theft, manipulating mobile apps, infiltrating cloud servers, and stealing through undersea cables. The list goes on.
U.S. surveillance is indiscriminate. All can be targets of its surveillance, be they rivals or allies, even leaders of allied countries such as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several French Presidents. Cyber surveillance and attacks launched by the United States such as “Prism,” “Dirtbox,” “Irritant Horn” and “Telescreen Operation” are all proof that the United States is closely monitoring its allies and partners. Such eavesdropping on allies and partners has already caused worldwide outrage. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, a website that has exposed U.S. surveillance programs, said that “do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honor or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules.”
V. Cultural Hegemony — Spreading False Narratives
The global expansion of American culture is an important part of its external strategy. The United States has often used cultural tools to strengthen and maintain its hegemony in the world.
◆ The United States embeds American values in its products such as movies. American values and lifestyle are a tied product to its movies and TV shows, publications, media content, and programs by the government-funded non-profit cultural institutions. It thus shapes a cultural and public opinion space in which American culture reigns and maintains cultural hegemony. In his article The Americanization of the World, John Yemma, an American scholar, exposed the real weapons in U.S. cultural expansion: the Hollywood, the image design factories on Madison Avenue and the production lines of Mattel Company and Coca-Cola.
There are various vehicles the United States uses to keep its cultural hegemony. American movies are the most used; they now occupy more than 70 percent of the world’s market share. The United States skilfully exploits its cultural diversity to appeal to various ethnicities. When Hollywood movies descend on the world, they scream the American values tied to them.
◆ American cultural hegemony not only shows itself in “direct intervention,” but also in “media infiltration” and as “a trumpet for the world.” U.S.-dominated Western media has a particularly important role in shaping global public opinion in favor of U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.
The U.S. government strictly censors all social media companies and demands their obedience. Twitter CEO Elon Musk admitted on 27 December 2022 that all social media platforms work with the U.S. government to censor content, reported Fox Business Network. Public opinion in the United States is subject to government intervention to restrict all unfavorable remarks. Google often makes pages disappear.
U.S. Department of Defense manipulates social media. In December 2022, The Intercept, an independent U.S. investigative website, revealed that in July 2017, U.S. Central Command official Nathaniel Kahler instructed Twitter’s public policy team to augment the presence of 52 Arabic-language accounts on a list he sent, six of which were to be given priority. One of the six was dedicated to justifying U.S. drone attacks in Yemen, such as by claiming that the attacks were precise and killed only terrorists, not civilians. Following Kahler’s directive, Twitter put those Arabic-language accounts on a “white list” to amplify certain messages.
◆The United States practices double standards on the freedom of the press. It brutally suppresses and silences media of other countries by various means. The United States and Europe bar mainstream Russian media such as Russia Today and the Sputnik from their countries. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube openly restrict official accounts of Russia. Netflix, Apple and Google have removed Russian channels and applications from their services and app stores. Unprecedented draconian censorship is imposed on Russia-related contents.
◆The United States abuses its cultural hegemony to instigate “peaceful evolution” in socialist countries. It sets up news media and cultural outfits targeting socialist countries. It pours staggering amounts of public funds into radio and TV networks to support their ideological infiltration, and these mouthpieces bombard socialist countries in dozens of languages with inflammatory propaganda day and night.
The United States uses misinformation as a spear to attack other countries, and has built an industrial chain around it: there are groups and individuals making up stories, and peddling them worldwide to mislead public opinion with the support of nearly limitless financial resources.
While a just cause wins its champion wide support, an unjust one condemns its pursuer to be an outcast. The hegemonic, domineering, and bullying practices of using strength to intimidate the weak, taking from others by force and subterfuge, and playing zero-sum games are exerting grave harm. The historical trends of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit are unstoppable. The United States has been overriding truth with its power and trampling justice to serve self-interest. These unilateral, egoistic and regressive hegemonic practices have drawn growing, intense criticism and opposition from the international community.
Countries need to respect each other and treat each other as equals. Big countries should behave in a manner befitting their status and take the lead in pursuing a new model of state-to-state relations featuring dialogue and partnership, not confrontation or alliance. China opposes all forms of hegemonism and power politics, and rejects interference in other countries’ internal affairs. The United States must conduct serious soul-searching. It must critically examine what it has done, let go of its arrogance and prejudice, and quit its hegemonic, domineering and bullying practices.
When you’re trying to go about your life without the paralyzing fear of nuclear annihilation hanging overhead, you can use various coping strategies. You can distract yourself, perhaps asking your partner to watch a silly movie. You can compartmentalize e.g. I’ll think about that later but right now I’m concentrating on making dinner. You can rationalize: Pentagon brass and their counterparts around the globe have families, too, and don’t want them burnt to a crisp. You can get active organizing against war as in, all out for March 18!
Or, you can stop reading the news (when I stop doing this you’ll know I’m either dead or senile).
But no matter what I try to do, certain information breaks through my fear barriers.
Bioweapons already unleashed upon the world scare me. Future potential for bioweapons we don’t even know about yet, ditto.
Massive, unusually prolonged earthquakes in less-than-cooperative NATO ally Turkiye following a week when a slew of Western diplomats mysteriously closed embassies there saying a terrorist attack was imminent. (Turkish President Erdogan responded to the diplomats leaving by accusing the West of a psyop or psychological manipulation to instill fear. Guess he was wrong on that one.)
Playing nuclear chicken with the Zaporizhia power plant under Russian occupation and Ukrainian bombardment scares me, as does the claim that a deliberate release of radioactive material in the vicinity of one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants will occur soon as a false flag event.
Oddly, though, what scares me the most is Ukraine war propaganda.
Liberals who are well-meaning but poorly informed have let my local peace community know that they believe Russia is kidnapping Ukrainian children and forcing them into camps for re-education. I clicked through to the petition with its rhetoric at fever pitch (“We can’t abandon Ukraine’s stolen children!”) and found it to be an entirely evidence-free claim. That is, not a shred of documentation, citations, or photographs was offered to support this alarming accusation.
In short, a perfect piece to teach teenagers how to spot propaganda — which I used to do for a living.
From the petition’s website:
Note that none of the bold face type above was linked to anything.
The only evidence offered in support is a photograph with no source and no identifying information.
Why do what appear to be fabrications in service of the U.S./NATO empire’s demonization of Russia scare me so much?
Remember I mentioned I was a history major which means I’ve spent a lot of of time studying what the prelude to wars looks like. And this is the image that immediately came to mind (trigger warning: artist’s rendering of violence against children):
Look familiar? It’s a staple of propaganda from WW1, supporting the claim that Germans were killing babies in Belgium using the bayonets on their rifles.
I also remembered that a similar claim used to whip up support for the first Gulf War, that Saddam Hussein’s forces threw premature infants out of incubators in Kuwait, was later proven false.
Fast forward to today. Children allegedly in Russian re-education camps is propaganda being spread by educated Democrats in my state who you might think would know better. They are on the Friends Committee for Maine Public Policy aka Quakers, who I grew up thinking were pacifists.
Now that even they are salivating for war with Russia, we’re in big trouble.
I have seen several videos said to be of Ukrainian children being trained as soldiers in neo-Nazi camps. Since the empire generally accuses others of its own crimes like harboring weapons of mass destruction, I suppose this is fitting.
As a friend thinking of Leni Reifenstahl said this morning: The bourgeoisie is ready to kill.
Yesterday’s gatherings to rage against the war machine in Maine were among the most interesting I’ve organized. Not only did we get a bunch of new people to fill in the ranks of those missing because they only oppose wars when a Republican is in the White House, but our participants were from a broad range of political parties and tendencies: Green Independent Party of Maine, Communist Party of Maine, Libertarian Party of Maine, and independents were all represented.
Two people said they were Republicans, while two others told me (separately) that they were registered Democrats but did not feel like the party represented their interests and were planning to unenroll.
One person came from New Hampshire to join us, while two others had come up from NYC as one of them has ties to Waterville, Maine.
Professors from the Maine College of Art in Portland and Colby College in Waterville were with us, plus someone who works at the University of New England.
Our messaging was varied and most signs or banners played on one of the nine demands we were organized around for raging on February 19:
Not One More Penny for War in Ukraine
Stop the War Inflation
Global Nuclear De-escalation
Slash the Pentagon Budget
Abolish War and Empire
Restore Civil Liberties
Free Julian Assange
In addition we had a sign made the night before at my house calling out the Biden administration on revelations by investigative reporter Sy Hersh that the Nordstream pipelines were bombed by U.S. and NATO nations working together under cover of so-called “war games.”
I saw another good sign on this theme in the coverage of the Rage event in Washington DC.
Estimates of that crowd range from 3,000-5,000 (crowds are notoriously hard to count). We had 20 in Bath and 15 in Westbrook, with some overlap. Many of the groups represented said their members had traveled to DC for the bigger rally. Honestly, as an anti-war organizer in Maine, I’m please when we have attendance in the double digits.
We also received coverage from Maine Public Radio and I just finished a follow-up radio interview this morning with the Ric Tyler/George Perry Show. Those two media outlets in Maine are as far apart ideologically as our group was. However, since the corporate media ignores us in these days of draconian narrative control, I’m willing to spread our message on whichever platforms are available. (Just to be clear, I don’t align politically with either of those media outlets.)
What’s next? March 18 is the date we agreed to meet again in Westbrook, where response was positive from many of the hundreds of cars that drove by in an hour.
Want to join us next time? Leave your email address in the comments and we’ll be in touch. Because we don’t have to agree on everything to stand together against the real possibility of a nuclear World War 3.
In a week of horrendously bad news mostly not covered by the corporate press — a train wreck in Ohio with a catastrophic chemical spill, and earthquake relief efforts hampered by U.S. sanctions on Syria — there was a little ray of light.
Young people in the U.S. do not want to join the Army.
Like, REALLY don’t want to.
Reporting on marketing-type research, Associated Press said that alleged “wokeness” bandied about in Congress as a reason has almost nothing to do with young people shunning enlistment.
The top reasons not to enlist were, in this order:
Fear of dying
Fear of PTSD
Not willing to leave friends and family
Not willing to put their life “on hold”
And 13% said they expected that women and people of color would experience discrimination in the Army.
Many young people do not know anyone in the Army and are unfamiliar with the jobs or benefits it offers. [Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, head of Army marketing] said trust in government institutions, including the military, has declined, particularly among this group.
“They just don’t perceive the Army as being in touch with the modern, everyday culture that they’re used to,” he said.
Fink said about 10% in the surveys say they do not trust military leadership, based on the way recent events or missions have been handled. That could include the Afghanistan withdrawal or use of the military during racial unrest and protests in the United States.
These surveys were conducted before the Super Bowl ran a misleading video about former NFL player Pat Tillman and his death in Afghanistan. Killed by friendly fire after he turned against the war? Oops, they forgot to mention that.
With WW3 against China and Russia at the same time gathering clouds on the horizon, it’s an inconvenient time for truth.
So Seymour Hersh’s article detailing the who, what, where, when, and why of the NordStream pipeline sabotage was either ignored or ridiculed by the corporate press. Except when the weasly spokesman for the U.S. State Department was directly challenged about it at a press conference.
Honestly, I’m surprised that Ned Price’s nose did not grow right on camera for these whoppers.
UK journalist Craig Murray commented on the silencing of the most accomplished investigative reporter of his generation in “Sy Hersh: The Way We Live Now“:
I learnt something very important about how the Big Lie works.
The secret is not that people genuinely believe an outrageous claim. The secret is that people do genuinely believe that they are in a battle of good against evil, and it is necessary to accept the narrative being promoted, in the interests of fighting evil.
Don’t question, just follow. If you do question, you are promoting evil.
I am sure that is how it works.
State and corporate stenographer journalists are actually intelligent individuals. If they thought about it, they would realise that the narrative that Russia blew up its own pipeline is obvious nonsense.
But they are convinced it is morally wrong to think about it.
Then a little more truth leaked out, this time over the Russiagate deception, in an article by reporter Jeff Gerth in a pretty mainstream publication, the Columbia Journalism Review. An excerpt:
it’s notable that Gerth got Bob Woodward, journalism’s original movie star, to go on record castigating the business over its Trump-Russia reporting. Woodward told Gerth he believed the coverage “wasn’t handled well,” and “urged newsrooms to ‘walk down the painful road of introspection.’” He also described to Gerth how he tried to warn “people who covered this” in the Washington Post newsroom away from certain stories, only to be met with shrugs. “To be honest, there was a lack of curiosity..
the legacy press is still mostly trying to ignore the CJR article. To be fair, dealing with its implications would require a cleanup/retraction process on a scale the business has probably never seen.
Bottom line: propagandists and former journalists can dick around all day telling half truths or denying real truths while still raking in big paychecks.
But young people asked to put their life on the line for the U.S. war machine are not easily fooled. And that is good news, indeed.
Seven years ago I published a list of sources I considered useful for gathering real news as opposed to repackaged Pentagon or State Department talking points posing as news.
The list is much shorter today. Venerables like Democracy Now! have succumbed to the lure of big money and as a result are cheerleading for proxy war in Ukraine. How the mighty have fallen.
With a particular focus on the ginning up of war against China, here’s my current list. The link will take you to an article or episode related to the U.S. pivot to Asia, but the whole publication is worthy of attention. In no particular order:
First off I just have to share the exciting news that my blog has an imposter! I consider this a great compliment in the sense that my contributions to a sane narrative on U.S. wars in general and the war in Ukraine in particular is a threat to the mainstream narrative managers. FBI? CIA? NSA? Who really knows. I usually think of my communications efforts as being small scale enough to fly under the radar, but this indicates that, as of September 2022, that’s no longer the case. Yay!
It’s been a great week overall as I had a very nice note from a board member at Bread & Puppet appreciating my letter to the editor defending B&P’s political theater and shining some light into the abyss of liberal support for the U.S./NATO war in Ukraine.
But there has also been a whole lot of pushback this week on my having organized a Feb 19 “Rage Against the War Machine” event in Maine where I live.
So far the cogent objections to the rally in DC that I have seen are:
o Libertarians are too racist to stand with against war. (If I accepted this I would have to cease doing much of anything political in Maine because there are many Libertarians among us.)
o Organizers failed to add anti-racist demands.
o Organizers failed to add bodily autonomy demands. Have seen this in connection with both pro-abortion and anti-vax activists.
o Some speakers are unacceptable. Probably the most high profile (at least today) is on again, off again, on again, off again Scott Ritter. Arguably the loudest voice against NATO’s war on Russia, Ritter is again being smeared with bogus claims he is a twice convicted pedophile. My response:
Ritter is to “pedophile” as Julian Assange is to “rapist.”
At our Maine event co-sponsored by Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Libertarian Party of Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, and People’s Party of Maine, we will share the demands of the national event:
At our event, there will be no speakers. We are instead standing with signs and banners in two different busy intersections. We will be standing with folks who belong to groups that I dislike and strongly disagree with, for example, Democrats.
With WW3 underway and the distinct threat of it turning nuclear, I am willing to do that.
My fave blogger Caitlin Johnstone had this to say about the Feb 19 coalition controversy:
This evening I’ll be standing against racism in Portland in response to vicious attacks and threats against some Black leaders in our beloved community. I’ll be standing with a lot of people who are so confused that they support the war in Ukraine. Oh well. May they eventually come to see the light.
Corporate media will try very, very hard to make sure that they don’t. That’s why New Yorker magazine, the New York Times, and the Washington Post wouldn’t publish Seymour Hersch’s historic article about how the U.S. blew up the NordStream pipelines with Norway’s help, and they also won’t report on the article other than to say the White House is denying it. To discredit him, corporate media is dragging out all sorts of deep fakes like, Hersch also denied (correctly) that Syria used chemical weapons on its own people.
Hersch won a Pulitzer Prize for his expose of the My Lai massacre, and also broke the story on torture by U.S. Army personnel at Abu Graib prison in Iraq.
But now I expect we will soon be hearing about some sort of sex crime Hersch is alleged to have committed. Stay tuned.
Anti-racist blogger Shay Stewart-Bouley of Black Girl in Maine shared news of white backlash against Black History Month in the U.S. generally and targeting her specifically. She posted the above photo to social media platforms with her commentary and the predictable backlash from terrified, angry white people ensued.
Her analysis of the “It’s OK to be White” message is worth a read.
Coincidentally, my weekend kicked off with my 6 year old grandson sharing that he had watched Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier read a nasty letter she received and decided to publicize on social media.
(Note: I greatly appreciate my grandchildren’s parents for their active anti-racist educational efforts in our mostly white family.)
My grandson remembered Councilor Pelletier from the community television show we do together as he and his mom had been in the studio audience last year. As a young constituent of Portland’s 2nd District, he was concerned that people were “being mean” to Councilor Pelletier.
Yup, me too, and kudos to Pelletier for lifting the rock and showing us the ugly racism that she and other people of color face constantly when elected to public office.
All this on the weekend of the Chinese weather balloon theatrics.
White people locally, nationally, and internationally are expressing their perception of being backed into a corner where their power over others and control of common resources is eroding rapidly.
NATO, a white supremacist military alliance, has bombed, occupied, and pillaged populations around the globe. Now that Ukraine is being used in a proxy war to weaken China’s strongest ally, Russia, the violence is targeting whites — as it did in air strikes on Yugoslavia in the 1990’s.
But NATO and its U.S. masters are watching their economic power slip away.
This is what working class white people are experiencing domestically as well.
Arguments about fairness and equity fall on deaf ears. The fact that Black households in the U.S. have a mere 11% of the household wealth of white households doesn’t matter to these terrified white folks. They can’t afford enough food or heat and are panicking. Their healthcare options are pathetic, and access to luxuries like regular dental care are almost non-existent.
Media owned by billionaires have people in the U.S. trained to blame each other rather than the root of their common problems: corporate government that allows, even facilitates, profit from misery.
Example of a false dichotomy narrative common in the U.S.
Big Pharma and weapons manufacturers spring to mind but there are many more.
The U.S. doing business as NATO is panicking, too. The Ukraine war sanctions on Russia harmed Europe’s economy, not Russia’s, and hastened the abandonment of the U.S. dollar as a currency for international trade. Billions of dollars and weapons later, Ukraine’s military cannot prevail, and it has already lost in the humanitarian sense with neo-Nazis steering the ship of state.
Most likely the PR aspect of hyping this appearance of a hot air balloon (there have been many in the past, but did you ever hear about them?) was to create a pretext for U.S. Secretary of State Blinken to cancel his announced visit to Beijing to meet with President Xi. This small step toward peaceful relations with China had to be stopped by those who want war and are very rapidly arming up in the Pacific region.
White supremacy has had its day.
Delaying tactics are in some cases hastening its demise. Decisions made from fear are often not logical or ultimately beneficial to those making them.
It’s logical to be fearful of losing the major privilege accorded those who appear white. Although they play the victim, white privilege is very much something they benefit from all the time. Enslaving labor plus other plunder of colonized populations and their resources has created an artificial standard of living for white people that could never have endured on a level playing field.
So, as loss of status plus economic disaster overtakes this group, they lash out in myriad ways to stave off the inevitable.
From the micro level where leaders of color are insulted and threatened to the macro level where NATO moves nuclear weapons into place all over the globe and ramps up anti-China rhetoric, white people are running scared.
If imitation is a sincere form of flattery, here is my one-time attempt to imitate my friend JK’s terrifically useful mini-digest on Ukraine. Sent via email a few times a week, containing “information you are not likely to read/hear in the Western/U.S. media,” its author has identified the need for someone to do something similar for news on the war on China the U.S. is planning aka the Obama-Biden pivot to Asia.
I’m unqualified to take on this project because I don’t read Chinese or Japanese beyond the kindergarten level or any other East Asian languages. But, in the spirit of JK’s heroic communication efforts around the U.S. war on Russia, here goes.
(Note from LS: MUST READ. It’s a year old and long, but well worth your time to understand reality behind headlines like “China, Russia partner up against West at Olympics summit” by Reuters or “Russia and China unveil a pact against the West” in the New Yorker.)
Why export the misery to Guam? The indigenous population of Okinawa understands all too well what it’s like to live under Japanese imperialism. And taxpayers in Japan are by no means on board with ramping up military spending and abandoning Article 9 as the U.S. is demanding.
Instead, those who consume corporate media should expect to read more ranting from psychopaths like U.S. Air Force general Michael Minihan. He was in the news this week due to a memo (that the Pentagon disavowed, for what that’s worth) urging preparations for war with China which he predicted will be underway by 2025.
He ordered his underlings to practice shooting targets in the head to prepare.
He’s been quoted as believing that,
“[W]hen you can kill your enemy, every part of your life is better. Your food tastes better. Your marriage is stronger.”
No comment on what we’re all imagining about Minihan’s marriage.
Meanwhile another ex-Marine, weapons inspector Scott Ritter, shared his examination of the shift in U.S./NATO policy toward east Asia and also the “war-fighting domain” of outer space.
A recent statement by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) head Bill Nelson that the US was in a space race with China, when combined with recent moves by both the US and China to militarize space, could send the US on a policy trajectory that transforms established policy regarding space-based activities as being exclusively exploration-driven in nature, to one where conquest and domination become the dominating factors.
Why do I pay attention to these “coulds” when the clear and present danger of Ukraine escalating into a nuclear confrontation grows daily?
Because weakening Russia and overthrowing Putin is the first stage of the neocon plan to take out China as the U.S.’s only feasible economic competitor.
But the sanctions that were supposed to cripple Russia’s economy have instead strengthened it, and boomeranged on the economies of the U.S. and NATO nations.
Early indications are that sanctions on China are having a similar effect: weakening the dollar, and pushing the targeted nation toward more cooperation with others and diversification of its industrial capacity.
[Dutch tech manufacturer] ASML CEO Peter Wennink previously told CNBC that China accounted for around 15 percent of the company’s sales in 2022.
Wennink has said that any restrictions are unlikely to prevent China from building its own versions of the machines eventually. “If they cannot get those machines, they will develop them themselves,” Wennink told Bloomberg. “That will take time, but ultimately they will get there.”
On the Japanese side, the restrictions are expected to impact companies such as Nikon and Tokyo Electron.
As its old ally Germany has suffered under U.S. leadership from helping to conduct war on Russia via Ukraine, I think it’s reasonable to expect Japan to suffer from helping its old enemy conduct a proxy war on China via Taiwan.
Certainly Australians as traditional allies of the U.S. military empire are increasingly concerned about being targeted as a consequence of hosting bases and spying outposts on their soil, and of their economy unraveling if their extensive trade with China is disrupted. And some observers have speculated that neighboring New Zealand saw the recent resignation of PM Jacinda Ardern because she had lost the battle for Kiwis to remain neutral and nuclear-free.
In the U.S. we have half a million people unhoused and at risk of freezing to death this winter. We have 1 in 5 children growing up impoverished and hungry, and the federal government tells us there is no money for universal health care, student loan forgiveness, or to house and feed the people. Yet, at $858 billion for 2023, the military budget is at it highest point ever, and ominously increasing every year.
Historically, wars have caused untold suffering for populations who had little to no interest in pursuing them. War profiteers hijacked their governments and raked in profits while their people starved and died.
Democracy Now!, legacy alternative media for the latte left, has been repeatedly exposed as biased in favor of the U.S./NATO empire. But most who watch DN! cannot tolerate the cognitive dissonance to acknowledge this shift.
Credit for the title of my post — Democracy Then! Propaganda Now — goes to “Diogenes” who posted a version of it commenting on this discussion between Max Blumenthal, Aaron Mate and Randy Credico on The Grayzone’s YouTube channel.
A shorter version of the video can be found attached to this Grayzone tweet, but the longer version (11 or so minutes) is worth watching if only to see Julian Assange lied about to his face as he repeatedly denies the false charge that wikileaks said Donald Trump would be less dangerous as president than Hillary Clinton.
Count how many times Assange says “No, we didn’t” while DN!’s guest talks over him.
Summary of The Grayzone’s charges against Democracy Now!:
John Pilger told Blumenthal he was banned from DN! because their funder the Lannan Foundation did not like Pilger’s views
DN! was wrong on wikileaks & Julian Assange, and has never apologized
DN! was wrong on the Syrian war & the White Helmets
DN! was wrong on Russiagate, which it heavily promoted
DN! was wrong on alleged Uyghur genocide
DN! is wrong on the Ukraine war origins & goals, and clearly biased against Russia
The propaganda of the U.S. empire is, as many have observed, outstandingly effective.
It has split the antiwar movement in the U.S. by capturing many of their sources of information.
I once worked in marketing (for cars) and learned of the strong spending to build brand loyalty among college students. Because research shows that brand loyalties are formed when we are quite young and these loyalties are extremely resistant to change for most people.
This is why it’s effective to lure people into trusting a news outlet like Democracy Now! (or Common Dreams, or NPR, etc. — those are posts for another day). Once trust has been established, the slow drift toward supporting the imperial narrative can begin. Much like the frog in that pot of slowly warming water, most won’t notice and many will employ strong denial tactics to maintain that they’re not being boiled to death.
Some have identified the first sign of Democracy Now!’s rightward drift in their coverage of the unfortunate events of 9/11/01. Since the current nonstop warmongering of the U.S. kicked off using 9/11 as a pretext, that makes a lot of sense. But substantiating that claim would take more research than I have time for at the moment.
In the video you see a simulation of how the pressure wave from a nuclear explosion affects people in a building. Photo: Storyblocks
New computer simulation shows: How to hit the blow from an atomic bomb
UPDATED IDAG 03:47PUBLISHED IDAG 00:49
Those who are many kilometers from a nuclear explosion can manage indoors if they do right, a new study shows. – Take cover far into the building and stay away from windows, researchers say.
What is this bullshit?
Swedish television is presenting nuclear war as if it were winnable, limited, and survivable. Just stay away from the windows exactly like they told me in the 1960’s when I was climbing under my desk at school. It was a big fat lie then, and it’s exponentially more of a big fat lie now.
This spin is built on the central lie that “since the start of the Ukraine war, Russia has rattled its nuclear weapons.” In fact, the opposite is true. The Biden administration moved from following Trump in not signing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to actually signaling from both government and corporate media channels that “limited” use of “tactical” nuclear weapons was indeed on the table.
Even more alarming than the posturing words of politicians, U.S. nuclear weapons and their delivery systems have been moving steadily into place in Eurasia and the Pacific, including Australia. Then there is the increasingly pro-nuke bellicose rhetoric of key U.S./NATO collaborators like Sweden, South Korea, and Japan. That is ominous.
Normalizing nukes is in no one’s best interest, including the uber wealthy that want to become the super uber wealthy by selling nuclear weapons.
Because they will die and suffer, too, even though they think they won’t.
Some truth from official sources has begun leaking out: Ukraine is losing in the NATO proxy war against Russia. Two Polish officials said so, Condoleeza Rice in the Washington Post said so, and the mainstream/lamestream press began admitting it as well. The wrong conclusion is that more weapons will ensure Ukrainian victory, but that did not stop the U.S. and NATO from pledging more weapons.
Ukraine’s government has come a bit unraveled this week with key advisor Oleksiy Arestovych resigning and then being arrested and put on the Mirotvorets kill list for (accidentally?) admitting that Ukraine caused a Russian missile to go off course and fall on an apartment building killing 44 civilians in Dnipro.
Then there was the mysterious crash of a helicopter carrying all the top officials of the Ministry of the Interior, an accident which killed all aboard plus some children from the kindergarten it fell on.
Next, the president of Ukraine addressed the World Economic Forum at Davos looking pale and strained and claiming to be uncertain whether the president of Russia is actually alive. (Cue the Twitter cocaine addict jokes. Of course substance use disorder is no joke for its sufferers, nor do most of us have any way of knowing if Zelensky is among them.)
But some things remain unchanged. Western cheerleaders of the war effort are falling all over themselves to pledge their support for “democracy” in a country that banned opposition parties and “free speech” in a country that banned the use of Russian, the first language spoken by many of its citizens. Ajamu Baraka’s essay in Black Agenda Report, “The Ukrainian Solidarity Network: The Highest Stage of White Western Social Imperialism” is well worth a read for the context to understand why alleged leftists are siding with the fascists at this time.
My photo of our vigil in Portland, Maine January 19, 2022
So, as part of a week of anti-imperialist and anti-war actions organized by members of UNAC for Martin Luther King, Jr. week (see the full list here) a hardy band of the unconfused stood in Portland, Maine yesterday at the evening commute.
We were on the second shift after a mid-day vigil in nearby Brunswick that occurs weekly. At that event a surprising number of passersby had expressed agreement with our anti-NATO stance remarking “Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe” or “Ukraine is full of Nazis” before the light changed and they drove away. This felt like a shift in public opinion, barely discernible but distinct from our past experiences with the public around this issue.
My photo of our vigil in Portland, Maine January 19, 2022
A few positive reactions in Portland were offset by a woman who rolled down her window to claim unspecified atrocities were happening at the hands of the Russian military and then shouted, “You should be ashamed!” before zooming off in her Tesla. Note: we were not ashamed to speak up for the truth as we understand it, Western propaganda on Ukraine notwithstanding.
I’m not sure when we’ll be back in Portland, but the hour-long vigil at 11:30am in front of the Tontine Mall in Brunswick will continue weekly for now.
What an apt metaphor was the top heavy, bare-assed national costume for Miss USA prior to her being crowned Miss Universe 2023. Videos of contestant R’Bonney Gabriel barely managing the unstable weight of U.S. imperial hubris amid plans to colonize the moon and achieve “Full Spectrum Dominance” in space did not meet any of my criteria for beauty. But of course that wasn’t really the point — exaltation of the mighty U.S. was.
The irony that a Filipino American woman would help glorify U.S. imperialism despite her ancestors having suffered brutal colonization by the U.S. in the Philippines is indicative of where we’re at in 2023; without an understanding of history, it can be difficult to detect irony at all.
Gabriel’s costume is a good visual companion to the unsustainable hubris fairly dripping from my last missive from Maine’s Senator Angus King.
No relation to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and, as a wealthy white man, seriously lacking MLK’s insight into the dangers of U.S. militarism, Senator King establishes the low quality of his response to my concerns about nuclear weapons by starting with a quote from…Ronald Reagan.
It goes downhill from there.
Notice how his aides have managed to compose an entire letter on the dangers of nuclear war without once mentioning either Ukraine or Russia. (Or, for that matter, China.) We are meant to decode for ourselves threats it does name: “malign actors” and “potential adversaries.” Quite a feat of obfuscation, wouldn’t you say?
King watchers note, however, that our senator recently traveled to Ukraine and met with the president there, did the obligatory photo op, and made remarks comparing Russian Federation President Putin to Hitler.
King is not a stupid person nor an ignorant one, but he is willfully overlooking the strong presence of actual neo-Nazis in Ukraine’s government and military. He was also quoted while in Ukraine as saying, “Putin has made it very clear his overall goal is to establish the Soviet Union.” That is a bald faced lie, but he’s counting on the ignorance of his audience back in the U.S. to accept it without question.
Does King have his own imperial ambitions? Perhaps to run for president of the U.S. after helping to funnel billions into the coffers of weapons corporations? Stay tuned.
Historians among us might also take a look at this 2014 story about riding on a nuclear submarine under Arctic ice as the Arctic is another area of special interest for King. The story is quite revealing about U.S.-NATO intentions (on Russia’s extensive northern border, but for heavens sake don’t admit that).
As a high school teacher 15 years ago, I showed students the Laura Poitras documentary on Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing and subsequent hair raising escape. They enjoyed the film but were mystified at the excitement. What was the big deal about Snowden’s revelations? they asked me.
It was a big deal because he revealed that the telecom corporations were spying on everybody, I told them.
The reaction of teenagers the second decade of the 21st century? Duh, which is Homer Simpson-speak for only a complete idiot didn’t know that already.
Now I feel like the Twitter files are at least as significant but much of my generation views this as another giant Duh.
Social media platforms are censoring our speech quietly behind the scenes, so what?
In fact it is a huge revelation that numerous government employees (including the delightfully named Elvis Chan of the FBI’s Las Vegas office) spent untold hours of their taxpayer-funded time insisting that Twitter silence dissent. Elvis and the others did this rather than engaging in the law enforcement we’re told the FBI exists to do.
Liberals have gotten quickly caught up in the personalities around the Twitter files dump of internal data — and it’s easy to do. It would appear that billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter for the purpose of revealing the private messages of work colleagues discussing how to handle the U.S. government’s increasing demands for 1) intervention in the debate about the pandemic and how best to respond and 2) intervention in the 2020 presidential election. The sequence of those two interventions is not without significance.
Also, some of the journalists Musk selected to work with are conservative. One exception is investigative reporter Matt Taibbi (who used to publish in Rolling Stone before it was captured by the security state now infiltrating most legacy media). Since Musk is himself a wealthy conservative who thinks it’s okay to overthrow governments of nations with large reserves of the elements needed to make his electric cars, no surprises there. But let’s not fail to understand that Twitter has been systematically silencing not only far-right voices but politically left voices as well. (Silencing both is probably fine with liberals who have monumentally failed to stick up for speech that doesn’t align with their views.)
According to the journalists, they received a large dump of internal communications from Twitter and the only constraints they agreed to on their reporting was the requirement that they “break” their stories on Twitter before publishing elsewhere.
So far this reporting has brought us news of how Twitter worked to suppress the entirely true story of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents implicating Senator Joe Biden in corrupt business deals in Ukraine prior to his election as president; how Twitter silenced numerous medical researchers and clinical practitioners debating as scientists do about a novel virus; and how Twitter began designating accounts as “_______ state-affiliated media” where you fill in the blank of the enemy du jour of the U.S. empire.
Some have downplayed the significance of this quiet censorship for years saying, Twitter (or Facebook) is a company not the government so it cannot by definition be in violation of the 1st amendment right to freedom of speech. But what if government was actually pulling the levers of speech repression from behind the scenes?
What if the FBI paid Twitter $3.41 million to censor speech?
Others have made the argument: so what, Facebook is much worse. And indeed Twitter users for a long time cherished the mistaken belief that their favorite platform, the digital town square where ideas were supposedly shared and debated openly (as the founder of Twitter claims was the goal), was in fact free and open. Twitter was the respectable social media platform, the intelligent choice, where policy makers and journalists and the public who were paying attention gathered.
Not everyone believes as I do that information control is the ball to keep your eyes on.
Just look at the war in Ukraine. Information management has all corporate media cheering for our proxy war against Russia, and those of us who dare to dissent find our accounts canceled, with the videos on our YouTube and Vimeo channels disappeared. Despite having tens of thousands of followers; or, perhaps, precisely because the canceled accounts had built up a large number of followers.
Did I mention that the corporate media have pretty much ignored the Twitter Files?
Interest on Twitter itself is strong, however, and likely to remain so as we anticipate the next reveal.
If you’re still not sure that ideas are as powerful as facts on the ground, consider the current campaign to make you believe that a nuclear war is either survivable or winnable. President Biden has said a first-strike with nukes is on the table, a table likely to be reduced to smoldering radioactive ash as WW3 ensues.
I made a colossal blunder yesterday when I described this Ukrainian flag in the hands of the U.S. Vice President and Speaker of the House as being signed by members of Congress. My bad. The flag is actually signed by Ukrainian soldiers and was presented by, not to, President Zelensky.
What Congress actually gave him was a standing ovation.
And the promise of another $44 billion or so for Ukrainians to keep fighting our proxy war against Russia.
Blogger Caitlin Johnstone published a good piece today examining the contradiction between claiming Russia’s entry into the war was “unprovoked” and simultaneously claiming that this war is the perfect opportunity for the U.S. to weaken Russia without a single U.S. soldier freezing or dying.
Notwithstanding the fact that vast numbers of children in poverty are freezing as climate chaos sends temperatures + wind chill plunging into the negative numbers in Texas and the Deep South. And never mind the millions in the U.S. who’ve died without adequate or any health care while Congress goes ka-ching for Raytheon, which just announced a new $412.6 million contract from the Air Force.
Looks like support for Ukraine pays off handsomely!
That weapons manufacturers are showing robust growth while the rest of the stock market is in a slump, and climate crisis largely fueled by militarism spirals out of control, is a snapshot of the state of U.S. empire as 2022 draws to a close.
A hardy band of boomers stood out in snowy Portland, Maine, USA on Sunday at a vigil for peace that recognized the U.S./NATO war against Ukraine is really a war on Russia.
Publicity for the event made it clear that would be our focus, and requested no flags. If only 10 people in the “peace community” of Maine could stand with us on this basis, so be it.
As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, I’m reminded of this wisdom he shared before the U.S. government assassinated him:
Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks: is it politic? Vanity asks: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, politic nor popular – but simply because it is right.
This where the few of us not confused by government propaganda find ourselves these days. I wrote about it here as a guest post for my friend Pat Taub’s blog:
As a blogger I enjoy hearing from readers even when they disagree with me. It’s an indication of reader engagement if someone takes the time to offer a critique.
So, I was glad to hear from an old friend in response to a recent blog post of mine. “Tale of Two Broken Accords: Oslo And Minsk,” written during the recent COP27 climate conference. It was my reflection on how international agreements are often achieved with great effort and announced with great fanfare only to be cast aside.
My friend wrote:
“Lisa: Am I misunderstanding something, or have you become an apologist for Vladimir Putin?”
I have old friends from many walks of life but relatively few who stand beside me in objecting to U.S. wars. This friend, however, was part of the original In Spite of Life Players putting on satirical political plays each 4th of July here in Athens, Maine. These plays routinely lampooned propaganda and U.S. imperial ambitions.
The author appearing as “Senator Susan Snow” in a past 4th of July play
I wrote back:
“If you’d been reading my blog you’d know that I reject the “Putin bad” analysis of the RAND-inspired war on Russia by NATO, with the endgame taking out China’s powerful ally. If that were to be accomplished (i.e., regime change and break up of Russia), Taiwan is sure to become the next Ukraine.
At least in Taiwan the U.S. will not have to arm and otherwise support neo-Nazis. Maybe old Japanese Empire collaborators instead? It’s disappointing that you seem to be ill-informed about what’s going on. May I ask what sources of information you rely on to understand global politics? It’s a sincere question.”
This is a person with a huge collection of books about history and politics and I was reminded about that. But books necessarily lag behind other media in interpreting current events, and I was more interested in what news outlets they were relying on to form opinions.
The New York Times, the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Harpers, The Atlantic, and television news were on their list, all of which my friend described as “Mainstream/Lamestream Media.”
But then came the real kicker.
“I’d like to think that I would have the intellectual humility/integrity to reconsider my positions if I found myself espousing the views of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Mike Flynn, and Kevin McCarthy.”
My friend was afraid of being associated with right wing influencers and was warning me of the danger of sounding like I agreed with them!
Will my friend expand their reading following our dialogue? I like to think so but who knows. (Something I’ve found interesting about liberals’ strong disagreement with me over Ukraine is that, when I was running for the U.S. Senate in 2020, they loved my foreign policy analysis in debates.)
The author, Maine’s Green Party candidate for the US Senate, during the 2020 debates
There is strong pressure to conform to the group one identifies with – in this case, critics of the media outlets who promoted the rise of 45. So-called legacy media relentlessly associated 45 with Russian President Putin for years, and the transition from hating 45 to hating Putin was a short trip for many. It has blinded them to the facts on the ground in Ukraine.
How did the rebels of the boomer generation become so conformist? Maybe a joke will help:
Two passengers are flying to New York. The American turns to the Russian and asks, “Why are you coming to America?”
“To study U.S. propaganda.”
Pat shared a comment she received on my guest post:
This was not worth offering a window into her thinking nor a contribution to any debate that defends one country attacking another with out provocation and murdering thousands. Her comments are drivel. This action by Putin is not up for debate. I and many of my friends have been donating to Ukraine so they may survive. I can’t believe a thinking person has another point of view.
If you can’t believe a thinking person has another point of view from yours, maybe you aren’t as much of a thinking person as you think you are.
We’ve all be wrong lots of times; the question is, are we willing to examine our beliefs and sometimes change them in light of new evidence?
From new-to-us, more reliable sources than corporate sources that parrot U.S. press releases.
Pro-tip: if your news source uses the word “unprovoked” about Russia intervening after years of Ukraine killing thousands of Russian-speakers in the Donbas border region, you’re definitely reading U.S. government propaganda. (Ditto China’s alleged “threat” to world peace — but that’s a post for another day.)
If you see someone with a sign like this, maybe ask them what they’re currently reading.
This is a really depressing post, so let’s get to it before the longest, darkest day of the year is upon us a week from now.
What got me started down this dark path is the news that presumed CIA spook Anne Sacoolas failed to appear for trial in the UK after she killed teenager Harry Dunn. The victim was doing nothing wrong, simply riding his motorcycle along on the road near RAF Croughton, used by the Pentagon as a spying outpost.
Sacoolas, with typical imperial hubris, was driving on the wrong side of the road.
Probably a simple tragic accident but Sacoolas turned it to a real crime by fleeing the country. It has taken Dunn’s family three years to have their day in court but they were denied the opportunity to see justice: Sacoolas was acquitted of driving dangerously, convicted of driving carelessly, and received a paltry 8 month sentence which she will not have to serve if she kills no other kids in the coming year. Even if she did, the UK appears unable and/or unwilling to have her extradited to face charges.
Her attorney’s explanation for Sacoolas’ failure to appear in court and hasty departure from the country following the accident: “diplomatic immunity.” According to Sky News:
The court heard that she had been advised by American officials not to fly to the UK, as her return “could place significant US interests at risk”.
If one of Sacoolas’ own three children is murdered someday, I’m sure she will understand that U.S. interests will receive higher priority than bringing the family some justice.
Okay, so one evil lady and her enabling government. What’s the other evidence for my claim?
How about the news — being treated as a blockbuster exposé — that teenagers in places like Detroit, Michigan (i.e. low income with a high proportion of students who are Black or otherwise of color) are enrolled in JROTC programs without their consent. Told if they ask that this Pentagon program requiring them to wear military uniforms and be shouted at by military personnel posing as “teachers” is mandatory. Which is a lie, but if your guidance counselor in 9th grade won’t change your schedule after you request it, becomes a de facto truth.
I know you will be shocked to learn that the textbooks used in middle school and high school JROTC programs paint a rosy picture of the U.S. worldwide empire of military bases. And the intentions behind them.
If I’m not shocked it’s because as a high school teacher for many years I organized against the presence of military recruiters in the lunch room, their access to students during the school day, and the allegedly mandatory ASFAB test harvesting demographic and knowledge base info on teenagers without parental consent. My state does have JROTC programs also though I never taught at a school that had one.
When you look up groomers in the dictionary what you should see is a military recruiter handing a teenager the gift of a cell phone. But, this word has been hijacked by right-wingers claiming teachers are trying to turn students gay or trans.
Speaking of groomers, let’s talk about Jeffrey Epstein’s little black book of contacts none of whom have been outed or charged for actual pedophile crimes. Grooming is a key component of convincing teen girls to have sex with old, powerful men and the currently incarcerated Ghislaine Maxwell was in charge of that operation.
It’s generally understood that Epstein (who supposedly committed suicide in prison when the guards fell asleep and the security cameras malfunctioned) and Maxwell worked for Mossad. Israel’s international spy agency functions as an integral if secretive part of the U.S. imperial system of coercion. (Though NATO’s war against Russia may be weakening this alliance.)
The black book names we do know about, most prominently Prince Andrew of the UK royal family, were only revealed because individual victims like the immensely brave Virginia Giuffre pursued legal action against her rapist. Before Queen Elizabeth II died the monarch had stripped Andrew of his honors and titles, and had UK taxpayers shell out a settlement presumed to be enormous.
Of course teenage girls in nations invaded by imperial troops do not even need to be groomed.
the U.S. is now joining chief thief Israel in illegally occupying land belonging to Palestinian families in Jerusalem;
or, if you prefer,
in addition to stealing land for military bases (e.g. Okinawa, Somalia) and oil theft (e.g. Syria, Iraq), the U.S. now plans to steal land in Jerusalem to construct an embassy.
The advent of neoliberal faker Joe Biden as POTUS has done nothing to halt U.S. enabling of Israel’s violent occupation of the West Bank and bombing of blockaded Gaza. Remember when he told a roomful of oligarchs “nothing will change”? Following on the heels of the most pro-Israel president ever, Biden has in fact kept many of 45’s bad policies in place.
Building an embassy on Palestinian land in Jerusalem is the icing on the cake.
“unshakeable U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, and especially to the maintenance of its qualitative military edge [emphasis mine]”
“The United States further reiterates that these commitments are bipartisan and sacrosanct [emphasis mine]”
(One might wonder how a Democratic administration can pledge the support of Republicans. Or, one might have long since concluded that both the D and the R parties are wings of the same imperial government in service to corporate business interests.)
The statement also contained some astonishing hypocrisy:
“the United States and Israel affirm that among the values the countries share is an unwavering commitment to democracy, the rule of law..[emphasis mine]”
Israel is and has long been an apartheid state with full rights for its Jewish citizens — and even its foreign settlers as long as they profess the correct religion. It detains, tortures, and executes Palestinians, including children, regularly. In May an Israeli military sniper assassinated a U.S. citizen, journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, well-known as an Al Jazeera t.v. correspondent for decades. Succumbing to pressure to investigate the murder of a U.S. citizen by a foreign military, last month the Biden administration announced the FBI will investigate the incident. Not holding their breath for that outcome, Al Jazeera Media Network has requested that the International Criminal Court investigate and prosecute those responsible.
As for the U.S. “commitment to democracy” and “the rule of law” one has only to look at its many coups toppling elected governments (e.g. Ukraine 2014, Australia 1975, Iran 1953) to bely that claim. And the destruction and looting of Iraq beginning in 2003 is emblematic of what the U.S. means when it proclaims it values the rule of law. Or maybe persecution of journalist Julian Assange would be a clearer example of how little the U.S. cares for the law?
Three paragraphs in, we get to the heart of the matter:
The United States stresses that integral to this pledge is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome. The United States further affirms the commitment to work together with other partners to confront Iran’s aggression and destabilizing activities..
The U.S. is building new nuclear weapon systems as fast as it can since the Obama administration’s green light, and Israel pretends not to have nuclear weapons though everyone knows it does. But it’s Iran that’s the threat! 45 scuttled the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement and Biden, despite campaign promises to restore it, is letting the JCPOA sink to the bottom of the sea.
Iran is indeed a threat to U.S. ambitions in Syria where the theft of oil proceeds apace.
So Israel, the wealthiest of nations, receives billions from U.S. taxpayers each year as credit to buy weapons that further enrich the oligarchy that owns and operates Congress and the White House.
Stealing from Palestinians to construct an embassy in Jerusalem is arguably the least of U.S. crimes against an occupied people. By contrast, 45’s closure of the U.S. Consultate General for the Palestinians in Jerusalem remains in effect.
But the land theft for an embassy is highly symbolic of the dangerous alliance between two aggressive nuclear powers.
It’s an alliance the U.S. will go to great lengths to support as the lure of cooperating with Russia beckons amid the global economic meltdown over sanctioned energy supplies and soaring prices.
About a zillion years ago, I earned a history degree from Bowdoin College. I was a scholarship student and incurred some debt, but the price of a college education had not yet climbed into the stratosphere (currently $78,300 per annum).
Today I live in another part of Maine but I often go to Brunswick to vigil for peace near my old campus. Yesterday, I attended the third in a series of talks on Ukraine.
Sponsored by the college’s Russian Department the lecture was, as advertised, an opportunity to bash the Russian Federation. Although I did not attend the first two lectures in the series, several friends did and reported back on delivery of a seamless CIA narrative on Ukraine (seamless except for my friends’ comments during Q & A that is).
On November 18, I had a letter to the editor published in the student paper The Orient on the problem of one-sided information control at a liberal arts college:
I see the college is hosting a series of lectures on Russia-Ukraine, the first of which was already held (virtually) on October 27 when Ukrainian scholar Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed delivered “Russia’s War On Ukraine: Culture, Memory, Politics.”
I missed the lecture, so I can’t be sure how much the Orient’s coverage omitted, but I was troubled by Shpylova-Saeed’s neglect of historical context. She is quoted as saying, “There was very little understanding of what Ukraine was back in 2014,” but I doubt that she is unaware of the CIA’s involvement in a coup that year overthrowing Ukraine’s elected government. That event is well-documented, including the involvement of the U.S., and led directly to the civil war in which tens of thousands died prior to 2022. One may disagree with Russia’s entry into the conflict or argue about its motivations, but to ignore the context entirely while focusing on the “big man theory” that “bad Putin” is responsible for all of the death and suffering in Ukraine is silly.
Ironically, Senior Lecturer in Russian Reed Johnson was quoted as saying of the lecture series, “[we] feel very strongly about the importance of talking and teaching about these events so there’s a better understanding of that context, how we got here.”
May it be so.
Last night’s lecture was similarly disappointing.
Leon Kogan, a Boston College lecturer, titled his talk “Blame it on Pushkin: Rethinking Russian Culture During the War in Ukraine.” The textual focus was a recent poem by Andrey Orlov, “I’ve read to the middle the list of ships,” which Kogan read in Russian while projecting his own translated version in English. (I would love to give you a link to the poem, but I am unable to find one.)
The poet had employed a ships metaphor assigning various (all male) cultural heroes of Russia such as Pushkin, Dostoevsky, et al. and some cultural icons like ballet, to indict Russian imperialism. Kogan deconstructed the poem for us and introduced a related concept from Hannah Arendt about the responsibility of even passive people for the crimes of their empire.
I thought this was highly relevant to those of us sitting in the largest empire on the planet.
My comment to that effect was scoffed at by Kogan.
Two of my friends offered context on the notion of Russia’s alleged imperial designs i.e. the CIA-sponsored coup in Ukraine in 2014, and relentless NATO expansion since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Predictably, these truths were characterized as “conspiracy theories.”
One of my friends distributed a Ukraine issue of Peace & Planet News that we’d brought along. He was warned by a Bowdoin professor that he was “abusing the privilege” of attending the lecture series. “Aren’t they public meetings?” he asked the prof. “They are for now,” she replied.
(This suggests that Bowdoin may go the direction of nearby Bath Iron Works which has steadily restricted access to their public events over the years in response to our truth telling there.)
As an alumna I could probably still wangle an invite. It’s worth the effort because my audience is not a visiting lecturer who’s busy kissing the NATO ring.
Cherishing the hope that I had helped introduce a glimmer of doubt about the prevailing narrative in the minds of even one of the students who were present, I went home satisfied.
I suppose by now we’ve all seen the video of Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of U.S. empire vassal state Canada, schooled by Xi Jinping at the G20 conference in Bali. Because details of their previous private talk had been leaked to the press, the Chinese President was annoyed and expressed it. Trudeau did not even bother to let the interpreter finish translating what Xi said before spouting some talking points he had memorized. To summarize, Trudeau looks forward to warm, mutually beneficial relations with China.
Xi: “Then create the conditions.”
Trudeau’s talking points sounded a lot like those of U.S. President Biden in his private meeting with Xi. According to the Associated Press, “Biden said that when it comes to China, the U.S. would ‘compete vigorously, but I’m not looking for conflict’ and ‘I absolutely believe there need not be a new Cold War.'” He also claimed not to support Tawan independence, and to have no desire to contain Beijing.
Based on recent history, these are hollow words and empty slogans which we have no reason to believe. Not a day goes by without government-sponsored media in the West denigrating China and sabre-rattling over Taiwan (for example, here’s AP’s lead: “President Joe Biden objected directly to China’s ‘coercive and increasingly aggressive actions’ toward Taiwan during the first in-person meeting of his presidency with Xi Jinping.”)
Presumably the core purpose of the meeting was to peel away China’s support of Russia’s defense of Crimea and the Donbas region. I doubt that happened. They did reportedly agree nukes should not be used in Ukraine.
At G20, Canada got the lecture. The times they are a changin’.
Meanwhile, countries are clamoring to join economic cooperation group BRICS and say goodbye to dependence on the U.S. dollar. The economic sanctions the U.S. has wielded against those countries have been coming home to roost, and Russia and China (the R and C in BRICS) are already using their own currencies to for energy transactions.
Pepe Escobar’s “Goodbye G20, Hello BRICS+” in The Cradle is well worth a read as a nation-by-nation analysis of who’s leaving the West-dominated structures of capitalism behind and embarking on new cooperative agreements among the Global South. That link is blocked by Google this morning, but maybe your browser will let you access it. I was able to get back there on my phone to pull this quote on the G20’s final statement:
The collective west, including the Japanese vassal state, was bent on including the war in Ukraine and its “economic impacts” — especially the food and energy crisis — in the statement. Yet without offering even a shade of context related to NATO expansion. What mattered was to blame Russia — for everything.
It was up to this year’s G20 hos Indonesia — and the next host, India — to exercise trademark Asian politeness and consensus building. Jakarta and New Delhi worked extremely hard to find wording that would be acceptable to both Moscow and Beijing.
Call it the Global South effect.
Some analysts have noted that China is steadily divesting from investments in dollars as a sign of one great power descending while another ascends.
Another milestone came as China came ahead of the U.S. in an international chip research venue. According to Yuki Okoshi reporting in Nikkei Asia:
This is the first time China has taken the top spot in papers accepted by the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), which is considered the Olympics of the semiconductor sector. The annual event opens in February in San Francisco.
This occurs in the context of the U.S., home to international scholars for decades now, losing researchers as brains drain back to China.
A survey by the Asian American Scholar Forum of roughly 1,300 Chinese American scientific researchers in the U.S. who are involved in computer science and engineering, math, and other sciences..found that 72% did not feel safe as an academic researcher, 61% had thought about leaving the U.S., and 65% were worried about collaborations with China..
Some scientists of Chinese origin employed by U.S. universities who have used federal grant money to conduct research in the past are reluctant to apply again: 45% of the AASF study participants..
My interpretation of what Xi said to Trudeau is: Respect us if you want to work with us. Disrespect will get you nowhere and you are no longer in a position to act like that.
My interpretation of what Biden said to Xi: Here is a bunch of empty blather we both know conceals the salient facts on the ground. Subtext: We’ve got you surrounded.
Following international climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, with a parallel People’s Summit I participated in, the focus on military emissions and their lethal undercount has faded in the war fever of the alleged battle for “democracy” and “freedom” in Ukraine.
COP27, held in the especially brutal police state of Egypt (thanks, “Arab Spring” color revolution) was swarmed by both fossil fuel lobbyists and private jets.
Activists temporarily blocked private jets from taking off for Egypt from Amsterdam as an expression of the new climate focus that says billionaires and their greenhouse gas emissions are THE problem.
Multi-millionaires who “lead” the big weapon systems manufacturers are THE problem when it comes to climate. Because the revolving door between U.S. government and the military-industrial complex is always spinning, and this ensures non-stop spending on war planes and bombs which both contribute massively to climate disaster. (And that’s just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg.)
I’ve been following this thread for years and compiling a collection of links I find especially useful. Groups like the Veterans for Peace Climate Crisis and Militarism Project and researchers like Dr. Neta Crawford continue to focus on the military aspect of the larger climate problem: wealthy nations cause the crisis while people living the Global South suffer the most dire impacts.
CEOBS researchers have taken on the task of monitoring military emissions by nation, reporting on this in a database we can all use.
Since U.S. military spending is so excessive compared with all other nations, it’s not surprising that the Pentagon fears what the chart at the top of this blog post would look like if military emissions were included in the national total.
It used to be said that the first casualty of war is truth but, in the 21st century,
Following international climate summit COP26 in Glasgow, with a parallel People’s Summit I participated in, the focus on military emissions and their lethal undercount has faded in the war fever of the alleged battle for “democracy” and “freedom” in Ukraine.
COP27, held in the especially brutal police state of Egypt (thanks, “Arab Spring” color revolution) was swarmed by both fossil fuel lobbyists and private jets.
Activists temporarily blocked private jets from taking off for Egypt from Amsterdam as an expression of the new climate focus that says billionaires and their greenhouse gas emissions are THE problem.
Multi-millionaires who “lead” the big weapon systems manufacturers are THE problem when it comes to climate. Because the revolving door between U.S. government and the military-industrial complex is always spinning, and this ensures non-stop spending on war planes and bombs which both contribute massively to climate disaster. (And that’s just the tip of the rapidly melting iceberg.)
I’ve been following this thread for years and compiling a collection of links I find especially useful. Groups like the Veterans for Peace Climate Crisis and Militarism Project and researchers like Dr. Neta Crawford continue to focus on the military aspect of the larger climate problem: wealthy nations cause the crisis while people living the Global South suffer the most dire impacts.
CEOBS researchers have taken on the task of monitoring military emissions by nation, reporting on this in a database we can all use.
Since U.S. military spending is so excessive compared with all other nations, it’s not surprising that the Pentagon fears what the chart at the top of this blog post would look like if military emissions were included in the national total.
It used to be said that the first casualty of war is truth.
In the 21st century, the first casualty of war might be climate.
Not since the days when I helped plan satirical plays for a gravel pit in West Athens, Maine have I laughed so hard. The simultaneous meltdown of Twitter’s ability to verify its high profile users and the resulting outburst of creative fun have been a welcome relief from the relentless bad news of the day: bait-and-switch on a few crumbs of student loan forgiveness, simultaneous CIA regime change operations aimed at Russia, China, and Iran, and cold weather approaching while hundreds of thousands in the U.S. are without homes.
The closest thing the U.S. empire has to an emperor is the SpaceX CEO, a man who inexplicably bought a highly successful social media platform in order to .. run it into the ground? It’s likely he thought it would bend to his will because, hey, he’s a billionaire and that’s how things work. But it turns out that’s not how free or even partially free speech works.
In a shocking revelation that legitimacy cannot be purchased (who would have guessed?) the sale of the blue check mark quickly turned into a free for all where, as one wag put it, kids spent their lunch money to impersonate Fortune 500 companies. And this tanked their stocks!
Another thrilling example of an evil, bloodsucking corporation lampooned financially with humor:
Verification on sale for $7.99 a month quickly led to a hall of mirrors as accounts scrambled to claim to be who they said they were (or weren’t, as the case may be).
Needless to say, the emperor himself came in for a lot of impersonation as did his once valuable platform.
Social media is a newish phenomenon, unlike building cars or even rocket ships. But one of its most well-established tenets is: if you’re getting a service for free, then YOU are the product. Because the owners of the platform can sell access to you to their advertisers. Charging you to be the product exhibits the confusion of those who think anything can be monetized to their advantage.
Did I mention that while taking an ax to the free-content-from-famous-people model that built Twitter, the new owner also decided to fire 50% of the workers? The speed with which this was done violated labor laws in several states.
And the new normal at Twitter may entail generating income by selling users’ personal data in ways that are prohibited by law. But not to worry — the emperor’s personal lawyers assured his remaining employees that they would be safe from legal repercussions if they followed his orders. I doubt that many of Twitter’s remaining workers were dumb enough to fall for that.
It takes a special kind of wealth and worldly success to engender the hubris to make these kinds of blunders.
Did I mention that the emperor also tweeted the day before the midterms to vote Republican? But, like many of his tweets as supreme leader of the bird, he took that one back down.
Pessimists are predicting that, without the terminated software engineers to keep the bird aloft, it will lose more feathers each day until it eventually sinks to Earth. Notwithstanding the fact that many who were fired were offered their jobs back almost immediately, you won’t be surprised to hear that many considered themselves well out of the chaos and declined. (A slew of top executives were either fired or resigned, too.)
Free speech used to mean oration and publishing in the press. Then social media came along offering a ton of freedom and reach until the tech bros got cozy with government and began restricting the flow of information quietly, behind the scenes. The emperor’s need to brag went against this tacit agreement about how things are done. He was supposedly good at making money but his new attire reveals his butt hanging out there, slowly twisting in the wind.
I’m old enough to know that most things come to an end no matter how much you love them. The In Spite of Life Players retired from the gravel pit to be seen no more. I still miss them, and I will miss Twitter.
The U.S. has always been an incredibly violent society. Founded on genocide of Native people (ongoing to this day) and slavery (ditto), what chance was there for us to not turn Armistice Day into Veterans Day?
The survivors of the first industrialized war, one where even the wealthy sent their sons to be slaughtered, did not think the price of an entire generation of young men worth it. How many believed they were sending their beloveds off to stop barbarity in its tracks? How many knew that the fight had broken out over competition for the rich colonies of the rapidly failing Ottoman Empire?
As my friend Abby’s grandmother said after returning home from organizing against incipient World War I, the whole thing was about Mosul Oil.
As an adult on 9/11, I watched my own country turn into a jingoistic herd of war mad flag wavers.
Youngsters who remember nothing of that day know this: you dare not be called unpatriotic. Support the troops became a posture that no official hoping to be elected could afford to omit.
Photo of airplane maintenance worker was edited by me to obscure a homophobic slur.
The droves of people who sat by while their military invaded Afghanistan were traumatized by seeing the twin towers burn again and again and again, with soon-to-be corpses sailing out of the windows.
They’d woken up a bit by the war in Iraq. Millions bought the twin lies that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, and that he was a madman with weapons of mass destruction he aimed to use. But the people who oppose wars when a Republican is Commander-in-Chief came out in droves to object to the impending shock and awe unleashed on civilians in Bagdhad (and, later, Mosul).
By the time Obama was in office, continuing those wars and upping the ante by drone bombing civilians around the globe while his government admittedly “tortured some folks,” satisfied Democrats had gone back to reading the New York Times and believing it.
That satirical newspaper The Onion was consistently more fact-based than legacy media did not seem like a reason to give up their prestige. Educated, liberal, and peering myopically through a tiny peephole deemed to be “world news” was where they were comfortable.
In the same way that big money crept in and hollowed out organizations that had once challenged the powerful, alternative media was infected. Common Dreams, Democracy Now!, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The Intercept — arguably once worthy of attention, now worse than useless. Worse because they hide their defense of oligarchs behind platitudes of either wokeness or limited investigations careful not to drill down far enough to see the levers of entrenched power at work. Many people are fooled by this strategy. The old are fooled by it because they value their comfort. And conformity for social animals is usually comfortable. The young are fooled by it because they want to belong and for their efforts to matter.
What happens to the few who don’t get fooled?
My ex once explained to me that historically the Ottoman Empire would send agents out into the provinces, e.g. Greece, where he was born, to find rebellious youth. Preteens or young teens with a penchant for kicking over the established order were evident living as a religious minorities under a repressive imperial government. These young men were lured into distant, luxurious jobs for life in the imperial service. The price: castration.
A thousand NGOs now employ once idealistic young people to go through the motions of halting climate catastrophe, “saving democracy,” or upholding civil rights. Entire careers are built on not achieving the stated goals.
The Ottomans thrashing in their imperial death throes unleashed the first genocide of the 20th century, marching a million Armenians to death in the Syrian desert.
The U.S. thrashing in its imperial death throes already has attempted genocide on its bloody hands. As its ability to control its vassal states and far-flung colonies unravels, it becomes increasingly dangerous (I know, hard to believe). But the nuclear weapons it claims others want to use in a first-strike are gleaming in their bays, and the bombers that could drop them are fanning out around the globe.
Today, legacy media outlets will glorify the imperial forces, now expanded even to outer space as a “warfighting domain.” Politicians will weep, embracing the mangled bodies of warriors. Little children will be paraded before their father’s coffins, draped in flags.
And liberals will cling to their comfort here in the heart of the empire, unless of course the final bomb is dropped. Then they will emerge from the radioactive dust like hikabusha before them to testify to the need for an armistice that endures.
Many people understand that war is hell. That’s why they clamor for negotiated settlements that move belligerents back from the battlefield and set them on a path to reconciliation.
The Oslo Accords established a two-state solution to Israel’s violent occupation of Palestinian homelands and at the time was hailed as a major achievement.
Then came facts on the ground for the last several decades.
It would by now be virtually impossible to create a State of Palestine that was not hopelessly Balkanized into tiny, unconnected territories. At the time of Oslo, many expressed doubt and believed that only a truly democratic one-state solution could work. (Full disclosure: I’m in that camp.)
The insanely belligerent and corrupt Israeli PM Netanyahu has won the recent elections and stands poised to bring even more violence and suffering to the long-occupied Palestinians. And Israel is a nuclear weapons nation. With lots of nuclear threats and innuendoes being thrown around these days, it’s important to keep that in mind.
So we can expect to see a continuation of Israel’s attacks on Palestinians in blockaded Gaza
in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank
and Israel bombing Syria and Lebanon, other nations altogether.
The Minsk II agreement established a game plan for resolving civil war in Ukraine.
Tens of thousands of civilians and combatants had been killed by missile strikes and more hands-on violence from militias operating freely in the Donbas border region with Russia following a 2014 CIA-sponsored coup in Kyiv. Years later, Ukraine’s President Zelensky was elected on a platform promising to implement Minsk and end the death toll. Then the neo-Nazis enabled by the U.S. and NATO got to him. I suspect he was threatened with assasination unless he signed on to his country serving as the killing grounds for proxy war to weaken Russia.
One wonders why nations sign on to accords and then immediately show no intention of fulfilling them?
It could be a stalling tactic to temporarily reduce international pressure to de-escalate.
Or it could be a case where those who signed on are ousted either by coup or elections, and succeeded by those with a lust for war.
Or maybe diplomatic efforts like accords are doomed in the face of the profit motive provided by modern industrialized killing?
Workers hold the key to stopping wars no matter what the motives of those waging them.
An international general strike would make wars literally impossible.
I pray we are seeing signs of this developing, especially in Europe where the economic impact of the war on Russia via Ukraine has been most intense. Certainly we are seeing signs of alarm from rulers enacting laws that actually criminalize gathering.
Okay, so don’t gather. Stay inside and refuse to work helping the war machine grind on. Mutual aid could not only make this strategy survivable but also strengthen solidarity among the people. Build it on the foundation of a shared desire to not be burned to a crisp by wars escalated via nuclear weapons.
A peace advocacy organization that I used to be part of — and that used to actually advocate for peace — has endorsed Rep. Chellie Pingree for re-election. The organization explained in its November newsletter:
Peace Action Maine is a proud affiliate of Peace Action and supporter of their PeaceVoter2022 Campaign. Again, as in the past, PA has endorsed Rep. Pingree . Today PAM (a c4) announces: “Rep. Chellie Pingree is an experienced, thoughtful, and effective legislator who knows how to speak and act clearly and precisely on the issues facing our district and the nation as a whole. Among her colleagues in Congress, her track record on questions of war and peace, programs of social and economic uplift, and environmental protection is especially good. For those reasons, Peace Action Maine gladly supports her bid for re-election.”
“Especially good” in this context means that Pingree:
* Voted yes on every bill sending billions in weapons to Ukraine at U.S. taxpayer expense. Many of these weapons have gone to neo-Nazi miltias allied with the Ukranian government, and many have found their way from Ukraine onto the black market.
In what sense is this candidate a peace candidate?
She isn’t. But she’s a Democrat, and that’s what matters to the millions who only oppose U.S. wars when a Republican is in the White House.
My photo of Maine peace lobbyists meeting with Rep. Chellie Pingree in Portland during her first term of office, 2009.
I’ve birddogged Pingree on her support for military spending for years. You can see some examples here and here.
My attempts to reach out to Peace Action Maine’s leadership to engage on the topic of their support for Pingree and, previously, support for the U.S./NATO proxy war on Russia via Ukraine, have met with silence.
I’m going to be returning the two PeaceWorker awards I’ve received from Peace Action Maine in years gone by, most recently for writing this blog.
It is embarrassing to be called a PeaceWorker alongside the likes of Chellie Pingree.
And it is extremely dangerous to be so beholden to weapons manufacturers that you obediently go along with the party line (“No negotiations! More weapons!”) as we teeter on the brink of a nuclear WW3.
There’s no point trying to write something better about so-called progressives in Congress publishing and then quickly disavowing a letter to Biden suggesting negotiations to end the bloodshed in Ukraine. In “The Brutal Comedy of the Withdrawn Letter,” Matt Taibbi has already aptly described the clownish collapse of anything resembling opposition to shoveling billions into arming Ukraine. Jayapal, AOC, Liz Warren, and even Bernie are millionaires controlled by billionaires, and the fear that they had angered the billionaires who own them was palpable.
The project of weakening Russia in order to take on China without their big ally is one underwritten by every billionaire-owned media outlet in the West. “Step out of line, the man comes and takes you away.”
Scott Ritter provided an immediate test case for the claim that “the bird is freed” i.e. Elon Musk’s Twitter would no longer see speech stifled to please the rich and powerful.
Musk flunked. Is there anyone who really believed he’d pass?
I based this conclusion on three primary sources, which included a videotape of a Ukrainian official warning the citizens of Bucha that a “cleansing operation” was going to be conducted in Bucha, and that the citizens should remain indoors and not to panic, an article which appeared in an official Ukrainian government website, LB.ua, entitled “Special forces regiment ‘SAFARI’ began to clear Bucha of saboteurs and accomplices of Russia,” which declared that “Special forces began clearing the liberated, by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, city of Bucha of the Kiev region from saboteurs and accomplices of Russian troops,” and video which purported to show members of the Safari Regiment shooting civilians who were not wearing the blue distinguishing armbands signifying loyalty to the Ukrainian cause.
But never mind about evidence. Controlling information about the NATO’s war in Ukraine has been job #1 from the get-go, and I’ve written about it several times already (e.g. here and here).
Truth tellers are still out here but their reach is much curtailed.
Various pretexts have been offered for why too much truth could endanger the peasantry.
First, they said Russia was meddling in U.S. elections. And anyone questioning or denying this should be silenced. (Meanwhile, The Intercept among others news outlets silenced news of the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop until after the 2020 election.)
Source: “During COVID-19 Pandemic It Isn’t Just Fake News But Seriously Bad Misinformation That Is Spreading On Social Media”, Forbes
Then, they said so-called disinformation on the pandemic was dangerous to our health. And the restrictions put in place to suppress beliefs that eventually became mainstream e.g. lab origin, ineffectiveness of vaccines in stopping transmission, remained.
Next, they said Ukraine was a democracy and an innocent victim of Russia’s unprovoked aggression. Journalists with large followings who pointed out the Maidan coup happened all the way back in 2014 were shadow banned or suspended from social media. And an army of bots attacked anyone who expressed doubt about the righteousness of NATO’s cause.
Finally, they said any questioning of the many false flags in this war — massacred civilians in Bucha, shelling of the nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhia, sabotage of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany– was grounds for being silenced.
Silencing of dissent is dangerous as we face open confrontation between nuclear powers.
I took some comfort yesterday from war-watcher Big Serge on why neither the U.S. nor Russia is likely to use nukes in Ukraine.
I wanted to include a photo of the massive French austerity protests here, but Google only wants me to know about the CIA-sponsored uprisings in Iran — despite my using the search terms “france protests today.” Search engines are an important part of the information control matrix.
Meanwhile, more austerity for the peasants rolls on. After Ukraine sent drones to attack ships at port in Sevastopol, Russia suspended grain shipments via ship. (That the grain was supposed to go to hungry people in Africa but was actually ending up in Europe may have had something to do with it.)
Those with the patience and a stomach for truth may want to listen to the 3 1/2 hour speech plus Q & A session with Putin at the Valdai Discussion Club last week. If you need a chuckle today, imagine either Biden or Kamala Harris pulling off something like what Putin did at Valdai.
Why am I laughing in the face of millions freezing and starving this winter as we face the real possibility that our corporate overlords crave nuclear war?
Because if I start crying I might not be able to stop.
* Actually, I was wrong. AOC is only half a millionaire. Thanks to reader Edward F. for the correction.
It’s fashionable to say that there is no longer a peace movement in the U.S. But it isn’t true.
What is true: corporate media entirely ignore the direct actions, conferences, marches, and publications of the peace movement.
Here’s my reporting on the most recent actions in a decade plus of vigorous resistance against flying killer robots deployed by the U.S. Weaponized drones have killed thousands of civilians in numerous countries during the U.S./NATO ‘War on Terror”. Now, reports that Russia is using Iranian drones in Ukraine has led to the U.S. calling for (even more) sanctions on Iran. Like kicking them out of the World Cup? I guess when you have no shame, hypocrisy doesn’t even register.
Two Grandmothers & a 3rd Female Arrested at Creech Assassin Drone Base North of Las Vegas
Killer Drone Base Blockaded to Oppose Remote-Controlled Killing of Humans
LAS VEGAS, NV – Anti-drone activists, here for a weeklong protest at a U.S. assassin drone base just north of Las Vegas, increased their resistance on Wednesday, October 19, with a peaceful nonviolent blockade of the entrance road into Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, NV that lasted nearly two hours – three protestors were arrested.
Dozens, maybe hundreds, of vehicles were stalled on the highway trying to enter the base. Protestors hope to motivate Air Force personnel involved in the US drone program to follow their conscience and no longer participate.
Protesters held life-sized cardboard cut-outs of 4 of the 7 children from the Ahmadi family who were killed by a US drone attack in Kabul in August 2021, and held two signs that read: “A Call To Conscience” and “Can You See, You Are Murdering Me.”
Two grandmothers and a third elder female were arrested, detained for over 30 minutes, and ultimately cited and released.
Thousands of unarmed civilians have been killed in U.S. drone strikes according to independent investigative NGOs, including hundreds of children.
“Assassination is illegal by both International and national laws,” said Toby Blome, one of the organizers. “By carrying these cardboard figures with the names and ages of some of the children killed (Ayat, age 2; Sumiya, age 2; Benyamin age 3, Armin, age 4,) it is our hope to memorialize and humanize the drone victims and to emphasize the tragic side of the secret, US drone program that should never have been developed.”
Participants in the weeklong protest are calling for a worldwide international ban of all armed and militarized drones.
Anti-war cable TV spots on CNN and MSNBC, produced by BanKillerDrones.org, and featuring voice-over by actor Martin Sheen, have been airing, including this weekend, Oct. 15 and 16 in President Biden’s weekend hometown, Wilmington, DE. The commercials, as well as counseling resources for drone operators, may be found at https://bankillerdrones.org.
Protestors charge militarized drones are rapidly proliferating around the globe, with dozens of countries now possessing their own armed drones, unmanned planes that, controlled from afar, are used to remotely fire their deadly missiles against “suspected targets.”
Through prolonged protests, activists, from as far away as New York, California, and Hawaii, intend to communicate their grievances to the Pentagon and federal government about the alarming issues that assassin drones raise, including high civilian death rates, violations of international laws, moral injury to drone operators, and the rapidly increasing destabilization of international relations.
Participants will show the current conflict in Ukraine, with Iranian-made drones used by Russia competing with Turkish-made drones used by Ukraine, as a perfect example of the worsening global instability that is created by these militarized drones.
Protestors are seeking an international ban to prohibit killer drones worldwide. “Overwhelming evidence supports that weaponized drones do not make us safer, but instead they create more enemies abroad by terrorizing communities and killing innumerable innocent bystanders, ultimately helping to recruit individuals into radicalized militant organizations,” argues Toby Blomé, one of the organizers of the bi-annual extended protest called “Shut Down Creech.”
Members of Shut Down Creech are part of a network of anti-Drone groups collaborating under the umbrella organization, Ban Killer Drones, working to ban the use of armed drones globally. Throughout the week, other U.S. anti-drone groups held simultaneous protests at U.S. drone control bases in Pennsylvania, Iowa, New York and Arizona, and elsewhere in solidarity with Shut Down Creech week, and as a united front calling to halt the use of armed drones.
The U.S. has never held high-ranking military officers accountable when U.S. drone attacks have caused the killing of innocent lives, like the August 2021 US drone attack in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed seven members of the Ahmadi family, including children. Instead, drone whistleblower Daniel Hale is currently serving the 2nd year of his 45 month sentence for leaking military documents that exposed drone war crimes, and the resulting high civilian death toll.
“When whistleblowers are imprisoned, and war criminals are protected then we have a truly failing democracy,” said Blomé.
As a complementary event to Shut Down Creech week, the sneak preview of new drone documentary Battles beyond the Horizon was shown Thursday night at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A post-film panel discussion included Shut Down Creech activists, including retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. Diplomat, Ann Wright, now turned full-time peace activist.
Activist Vera Anderson, from Las Vegas, now a graduate student in New York, states it simply and directly, “All human beings have the right to life!”
An open letter to the commander of the base Col. Schmidt and to President Biden was hand delivered to base personnel in an effort to call for an immediate ceasing of all drone attacks, and calling for an international ban by all nations.
“People need to realize that not only are a lot of civilians being killed, the drones are terrorizing entire communities by their mere presence in the sky,” said Fred Bialy, a retired emergency room physician participating in the week of protest. “Weaponized drones are steadily proliferating around the globe…they should be banned completely,” he added. ##
Toby Blomé 510-501.5412, Virginia Hauflaire 602-403-7576
My last blog post made reference to a RAND study on perceptions of U.S. space programs in both Russia and China. The report noted how much more difficult it is for people in the West to understand Chinese attitudes and beliefs. Indeed, the authors could not even select ten space developments in recent decades that were seen as significant by Chinese publications they studied.
As U.S. warmongers clearly signal their intention to use Taiwan to weaken China
in a move analogous to using Ukraine to weaken Russia, it’s time for me to do some studying.
Screenshot from a video of former Communist Party of China (CPC) Chairman Hu Jintao, age 79, being removed from the closing day of the 20th National Congress of the CPC. Xi Jinping is seated to his left when a man in a mask comes to escort Hu out.
The interpretations of this odd event are indicative of 1) the difficulty for Westerners to understand what’s going on in China and 2) the often knee-jerk hostility where most commenters assumed this was like a Mafia hit or purge. Other commenters said: Hu has Alzheimers and may have needed someoe to attend to his personal hygiene.
It is well nigh impossible for me to know the truth of what happened. So, I’ll keep reading.
the establishment of the U.S. Space Force in 2019, and multiple policy and warfighting documents have rapidly followed. Given this activity and the concerns raised in domestic and international fora[sic] regarding the increasingly congested and contested nature of space, there has been surprisingly little open-source analysis of Chinese and Russian perceptions of these developments. [emphasis mine]
Findings included that neither Russia nor China appears to believe U.S. space programs are not military in nature (no kidding), and that the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in 2002 was viewed by both as a turning point after which a more aggressive stance was evident
Here’s the list of all the events for which reactions were collected:
• Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) (1983) and U.S. Space Command creation (1985)
• President Bill Clinton’s National Space Policy (1996)
• Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL) test (1997)
• Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and
Organization (“Rumsfeld Commission”) (2001)
• U.S. withdrawal from Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty (2002)
• U.S. Air Force (USAF) Counterspace Operations doctrine (2004)
• President George W. Bush’s National Space Policy (2006)
• Operation Burnt Frost (2008)
• President Barack Obama’s National Security Space Policy (2011)
RAND also observed that Russia had more national pride invested in space technology and achievements, while China appeared to study Western space tech mostly with an eye to understanding it. They did not necessarily want to build something better themselves. However, China did successfully shoot down their own satellite recently after the U.S. did so in 2008.
The authors appeared to believe it was harder for Americans to understand Chinese nuance and societal expectations than Russian attitudes. For instance, some of the events on their list of 10 were little noted at all in Chinese publications they surveyed, while other events not on the list received significant attention in “native-language primary sources, such as..government publications, military journals, academic reports, and domestic media.”
RAND also appeared to be setting up conditions for further curtailments of free speech in the U.S. and Europe as there were multiple references to China and Russia taking note of Western voices critical of their own countrys’ space programs.
Draconian anti-protest laws just passed in the UK are a harbinger, no doubt, as the declining West struggles to manage the narrative.
From the What’s Happening feed on my Twitter account this morning:
Aside from the fact that public-private partnership is a euphemism for fascism (or, as Mussolini preferred, corporatism) what is wrong about this structure of taxpayer-funded quasi- government? Public-private partnerships are all the rage these days e.g. the State of Maine just created a Space Corporation to enable private profits based on public infrastructure, and Ukraine relies heavily on Elon Musk’s Starlink network for the communications needed to conduct its war on Russian-speaking Ukrainians.
Or at least it has until now.
Word on Twitter is that Ukraine asked Elon to hook them up in Crimea but he declined, citing the heightened risk of nuclear war following Ukraine’s terror attack on the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea and Russia.
I seldom agree with Elon “We-will-coup-whoever-we-want” Musk and have always wondered about that “we” in his infamous statement. But I have to admit in this case he’s spot on.
Nuclear war is something to be actively avoided, and calling for a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia should be job #1 right now.
Given the fact that the UK (most likely with U.S. encouragement) actively halted peace talks in Turkey back in April, one could be forgiven for thinking we’re safer in Elon’s hands.
But this is really only the case because our national government was long since captured by corporate interests. President Biden called in reps from the big weapons manufacturers to make plans about arming Ukraine, and then Congress handed taxpayers the bill for $17,000,000,000. Some of that went to pay Starlink.
Of course Twitter is awash with accounts calling Musk a traitor, a Putin puppet, and lots more unsavory names for taking this position.
They’ve identified what the problem is with public-private partnerships: use of public resources to advance private agendas.
This is routinely viewed as a good thing by those who think capitalism is the official religion of the U.S., and that adherence to its profit agenda is equivalent to patriotism.
It’s the same kind of twisted thinking that fails to count military emissions when reckoning with how to address climate crisis. Somehow the planet’s atmosphere is assumed to be patriotic. As if politics dictates to science.
Billionaires can take their ball and go home if they decide they don’t like the way the partnership is going. And calling them unpatriotic is just about the only leverage the public has.
Some of you know that I host a community tv show in Portland with city councilors Victoria Pelletier and Roberto Rodriguez. Pathways to Progress is broadcast live from the Portland Media Center providing space to explore progressive opportunities in municipal government.
With a big election coming November 8, our episode #7 in October focused on the big money campaign opposing all thirteen of the ballot measures that voters will address. That’s right: corporate money is advising folks to just vote no on all of them. Disrespecting that the Charter Commission worked for months to craft Questions 1-8 based on input from the public. Disrespecting that Questions A-E were placed on the ballot via citizens initiatives. And maybe implying that voters are too numb to think through them all? Hard to say.
What can be said for certain: the big money in this election — $430k and counting — is on preserving the white supremacist form of city government designed in the 1920’s with Ku Klux Klan help.
Currently Portland’s city manager role has most of the executive power with a weak role for mayor and other members of the city council. Thus a bureaucrat with no accountability to voters makes many of the decisions affecting them. Charter commissioners recommended fixing this by returning to a more responsive form of government. More districts with fewer constituents in each means a bigger city council, and a strong mayor that can be removed by either voters or the council is part of this plan.
Blogger/podcaster Samuel James has an excellent overview of the city manager role and its roots in slavery and Jim Crow in this month’s Mainer magazine.
The history of the city manager form of government is a story of a small group of powerful, extremist white supremacists using their power to successfully normalize their hate. The problem with normalizing hate is not just that we stop being able to see it. It’s also that we then defend it. We forget the progress this country was once moving toward. We forget that some cities weren’t always segregated. We forget why the KKK marched through our streets and we forget that they won. And even though we can clearly see their desired outcomes all around us, many will say we should do nothing. “It used to be worse,” they’ll say, leaving out that it also used to be better. “That isn’t the right way,” they’ll say, even though it is the only way. “It’s complicated,” they’ll say, and that’s usually true, but this one time it’s actually simple.
This November, Portlanders voting “yes” on Question 2 will be voting for more democracy.
This article is partially a transcript from Samuel James’ new podcast, 99 Years, exploring why Maine continues to be the whitest state. More information is available at 99YearsPod.com.
On Friday, November 4 our next episode of Pathways to Progress airs on Channel 5 locally (also watchable online).
Just prior to the election, episode #8 will use lightning rounds to consider all the ballot questions with emphasis on the changes to city government.
Those changes include two other questions designed to increase access and participation for all Portlanders: proportional ranked choice voting, and a clean elections fund.
Also significant are measures to control skyrocketing rents in Portland, and to raise the minimum wage. Obstructing equity in prosperity is also a white supremacy issue.
Because big money is powerful enough. It shouldn’t be able to buy municipal elections.
Readers of this blog may recall that I once had a child born on Pearl Harbor Day in Tokyo, where I lived at the time. My Japanese friends did not know the Pearl Harbor Day reference.
Me: You know, that was when the U.S. entered WW2 after Japan bombed their military site in Hawai’i.
Them: Hmm, I may have heard something about that. (Note that they had all graduated from university in Japan.)
Me: What day do Japanese people remember as significant in WW2?
Them: Hiroshima (duh).
Then I often asked a follow up question because I was truly curious. Why did Japan enter into a war where pilots were sent on suicide missions in planes built without landing gear in order to save dwindling resources?
The Japanese people did not want war, my Tokyo friends said. People were starving, they said. It was the zaibatsu that pursued conquest and war.
Zaibatsu, (literally “financial clique”), were vertically integrated business conglomerates in the Japanese empire with both industrial and financial branches.
Why do I bring this up now?
As we teeter on the brink of WW3, the zaibatsu of the U.S. empire push for war while controlling finance, media, social media, and what’s left of our industrial base building weapons of mass destruction.
Their control of information streams is devastating as Democratic Party-aligned liberals and Republic Party-aligned conservatives alike cheerlead for sending billions in weapons and cash to Ukraine.
It is nearly impossible to find a glimmer of truth about extremely significant news of the contemporary slouch toward war.
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were sabotaged by underwater explosives last week, and the corporate press in the U.S. and Europe blamed..Russia?
This is despite several facts on the ground such as: Victoria Nuland threatened the pipelines, Joe Biden threatened the pipelines, while Russia, an investor in the pipelines, could at any point simply turn off gas on their end. Reported Dave DeCamp in antiwar.com:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the attacks on the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines that connect Russia to Germany offer a “tremendous opportunity” to end Europe’s dependency on Russian energy.
Now Russian gas is bubbling up in the Baltic Sea, worthless, right in the spots where NATO conducted undersea war exercises last month.
But reporting that addresses the cui bono (who benefits?) is censored.
(The practice run over Covid-19 information supression was awfully well-timed, was it not?)
Then there are the referenda in four eastern oblasts of Ukraine, which showed overwhelmingly (90%+) that people there want to join the Russian Federation.
In the corporate press the approved doublespeak for these votes is “sham.” (It is telling when you encounter the very same adjectives over and over in numerous corporate-owned media outlets.)
The reports that claim the voting in every location was faked never bother to mention that two of the oblasts have been shelled by Ukraine for the past 8 years, resulting in 14,000 deaths, most of them Russian-speaking civilians. Russia intervened by attacking Ukraine’s military which is waging war by proxy on behalf of NATO nations.
Why do I believe the voting was authentic? Because I follow several independent journalists who went there, observed the polls, interviewed people on the street, and reported on it. Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley were both informative sources.
The UN Security Council failed to declare the referenda “illegal” when put to a vote last week.
Meanwhile, the wheels are coming off the kamikaze airplanes.
The British pound and the euro are struggling along with their populations who face high rates of inflation, in many cases hunger, and a very cold winter ahead due to sanctions blocking Russian fuels they depended on. And even if they change their minds about the sanctions, the pipelines are defunct and will require months of repairs to be functional.
As if conditions weren’t bad enough, the military-industrial-congressional-media complex is simultaneously gearing up to confront China, because that’s the end game.
Taking Russia out first, as a key ally to China, is the plan for world domination.
What day do you think your children will remember if they survive WW3?
If you can imagine being 8 years old again, you are probably aware of the threat of war breaking out. (At least I was at that age.) Even if you are not, a terribly loud industrial sound — loud enough to wake you up — could send you running in tears to your parents to ask them what’s going on.
The parents were alarmed by the loud noise also, but didn’t find out until the following day that it was bluShift Aerospace testing one of the rockets it intends to launch from the Maine coast at Steuben, near Acadia National Park. The company’s headquarters, however, is in Brunswick, a heavily populated area where they plan several more tests.
Brunswick already gets hit hard by excessive noise every time a military air show comes to town. Last time the Blue Angels performed, a sonic boom cracked the sliding glass doors of another friend of mine, a woman in her 90’s. Her daughter contacted the Brunswick Landing folks who hosted the airshow, but no compensation for the damage was offered.
I continue to be mystified about two things:
What democratic process was used in Steuben to determine that rocket launches would be allowed there? Or in Brunswick to determine if the public wants to endure this level of noise pollution?
When will environmental groups and activists in Maine wake up to the environmental harms of a rocket launch site on the coast? BluShift plans up to 35 launches per year from the Steuben site! I’ve reached out to Sierra Club of Maine, 350 Maine, and several other groups. But if they are beholden to the Democratic Party, they will likely continue to look the other way.
According to her recent newsletter to constituents, Brunswick’s Senator Mattie Daughtry (a Democrat) is full of self-congratulation over her authorship of this bill. Clearly she is representing moneyed interests in Maine, not schoolchildren who deserve not to be terrified awake on a school night.
Those of us in Maine who are paying attention have a website, NoToxicRockets4ME.org, where you can find out more about this environmental issue plus the experiences of other places (Kodiak, New Zealand) where rocket launch sites have been built. Locals are promised that what they will get in return for the industrialization of a pristine coastal spot is jobs (which don’t materialize) and no military use (which does materialize).
I hope Mainers wake up before campers in Acadia are awakened by loud noises scaring children and disrupting wildlife in what was once a peaceful spot.
If you’re like me you may have wondered if the U.S./NATO knew what they were setting in motion when they slapped sanctions on Russia and insisted their allies follow suit or else. Within six months Europe’s fuel costs have skyrocketed, factories have shut down for lack of fuel, and citizens are rioting over their energy bills. The Euro is tanking, and the ruble is stronger than ever. With Nordstream 1 & 2 pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Germany fully shut down, a very cold winter is looming.
Was this crisis in Europe unexpected, or planned?
You gotta love whistleblowers. One day they’re pursuing a lucrative career in the service of empire, and the next they’ve had an attack of conscience and leaked information of historic importance. They often pay dearly for this. Let’s hope the mole at the RAND corporation, or one of its many clients, escapes with his or her freedom and life intact.
Here in a series of screenshots is a leaked report published by Swedish news source Nya Dagbladet yesterday (you can read their article on the leaked info here):
Copyright page looks authentic but could of course be a forgery. How to evaluate its authenticity?
RAND denied authorship while throwing around a lot of neocon narrative management tropes like “truth decay” and “firehose of falsehood.” Hmm…
One approach to deciding who is deploying the firehose might be to read some authenticated RAND reports and see if this one is consistent in terms of content, strategy, and tone. RAND is best known for being the architect of the first Cold War, and by its own reports in 2020 received more than 75% of its funding from the federal government.
So, for comparison purposes, here is the infamous and fully authenticated RAND study from 2019 planning for regime change in Russia.
Russia remains a powerful country that still manages to be a U.S. peer competitor in a few key domains. Recognizing that some level of competition with Russia is inevitable, RAND researchers conducted a qualitative assessment of “cost-imposing options” that could unbalance and overextend Russia. Such cost-imposing options could place new burdens on Russia, ideally heavier burdens than would be imposed on the United States for pursuing those options.
the United States can prepare for a long and severe war by reducing its vulnerability to Chinese A2AD forces and developing plans to ensure that economic and international consequences would work to its advantage
Both these reports are well worth reading in their entirety especially if, as a U.S. taxpayer, you paid for them. As for the leaked report, the cynical manipulation of the German Green Party to support the war on Russia via Ukraine is foretold (or, if you doubt the report’s veracity, reflected).
Which brings us to the most suspicious aspect of the leaked report on tanking Germany’s economy: from the Executive Summary’s opening paragraphs, it appears to have been prepared for the Democratic Party among other clients (see title page above listing “DNC”). Since the other recipients are governmental agencies, may we assume that this analysis and report was funded by U.S. taxpayers on behalf of Democrats?
After citing fiscal policies under both the previous administration and the current one (so, both R and D), the report warns of a banking crisis in markets flooded by quantitative easing i.e. printing more dollars. Then, the report goes on to reveal a partisan bias which is unusual for RAND reports I have previously read.
The continuing deterioration of the economic situation is highly likely to lead to a loss in the position of the Democratic Party in Congress and the Senate[sic] in the forthcoming elections to be held in November 2022. The impeachment of the President cannot be ruled out under these circumstances, which must be avoided at all costs.
So, keeping one of the two corporate parties in power is the driving force behind U.S. belligerence and trouble making in Europe?
*Foreign Policy is a major source of narratives supporting U.S./UK/NATO ambitions. Since we know that some things are best understood in retrospect, here are a couple of current headlines from FP to ponder:
One of the strongest messages a white baby boomer received growing up was the need to behave well. “Pretty is as pretty does,” was one such admonition, particularly tailored for girls. “Fools’ names and fools’ faces are often seen in public places,” was another.
This conditioning must be overcome in order to raise a dissenting voice.
The changing of monarchs in the United Kingdom produced an outburst of fawning over crowned heads as well as an outburst of truth telling and its inevitable companion, tone policing.
Scots were arrested protesting the ascension of the rather unpopular Charles III. Some with signs were put in handcuffs, while others who boo’d appear to have gotten away with it.
The quintessential tone policing remark was predictable. As reported in The National:
Donald Maclaren, 64, of Livingston, said: “It’s very disrespectful, there is a time and a place if you want to protest, but this isn’t it.”
See, his mother just died, so it’s not the time and place to protest a man who just inherited a vast fortune and is exempt from the 40% inheritance tax others must pay.
No matter how rich you are, you are likely to be totally clueless about how bad tone policing makes you look. Billionaire labor nemesis Jeff Bezos chastised a Black academic on Twitter who wrote: “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.”
His criticism and the pushback to it greatly elevated her original tweet (which now appears to have been censored by Twitter). More tone policing came from Carnegie Mellon University where she is employed. They said her remarks did not reflect their values despite Dr. Uju Anya’s explanation to a journalist:
“I am the child and sibling of survivors of genocide.
From 1967-1970, more than 3 million civilians were massacred when the Igbo people of Nigeria tried to form the independent nation of Biafra..
this genocide was directly supported and facilitated by the British government..
weapons, bombs, planes, military vehicles, and supplies were sent to kill us and protect their interests in the oil reserves on our land.”
If you’re white and live in a racist country like the U.S., you’ve probably been in lots of situations where you were hearing white supremacist rhetoric while wondering what to say in response.
That’s if you could find the courage to speak up at all.
You might have been at a family holiday dinner.
You might have been in a hair salon where the person you angered might be holding scissors next to your face.
Is it a coincidence that the part of the U.S. where many still revere the Confederacy has the reputation of being especially polite?
No matter where you live in the U.S., you were probably raised to be conflict averse in a society where “conflict” is a euphemism for war.
So there’s likely an element of fear of violence involved in the calculus about what to say or whether to say anything.
Doris Lessing, one of my favorite authors, grew up white in apartheid colonial Africa, the part that is now Zimbabwe. Her penchant for telling the truth about British colonialism among other things did not always make her popular. She died in 2013 but I’ll give her the last word:
I’ve written previously about the intense narrative control that is a key feature of the U.S./NATO proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. As the military becomes an increasingly undesirable option for young people in the U.S. (currently only 9% would consider enlisting, according to Pentagon researchers) the pressure is on to make sure Ukrainians are the ones fighting and dying in the imperial war to topple Russia.
Lying about the progress of the war and repeatedly claiming Ukraine is “winning” when it is doing no such thing (former U.N. military expert Jacques Baud’s current analysis of this is worth a read).
Mischaracterizing the combatants, as Yale professor Timothy Snyder did recently in Foreign Affairs: “Russia, an aging tyranny, seeks to destroy Ukraine, a defiant democracy.” (Actually, Ukraine is resolutely undemocratic at this point in its history and maintains a “hit list” of everyone, including international rock stars, who doesn’t support the official narrative — while Putin’s approval rating among Russians last month was over 80%.)
Coordinating messaging in corporate media internationally so that specific key words e.g. “unprovoked” are repeated ad nauseum without examination of copious evidence to the contrary.
Suppressing narratives in the alternative press and on social media (and, apparently, the sides of buildings) by canceling accounts, deleting archives, unleashing trolls, and shadow banning./
At a time when Russian pipeline gas supplies have been in free fall, the EU had no choice but to ramp up imports from the US at all costs, generating unprecedented profits for US gas suppliers, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Saturday.
Pushing the false claim that the Russian economy is in trouble after six months of war in Ukraine. In fact, the ruble has never been stronger while the nations of the world are abandoning the petrodollar like rats fleeing a sinking ship. And as of this week the € is trading below the US$, a two-decade low for that currency.
What’s a U.S. taxpayer to do?
Find some sources of reliable information (you can use many of the links above for that purpose), grow your own food, and diversify your heating fuels. Note that false narratives enrich weapons manufacturers, but will do little to keep you warm and fed this winter.
This installment in my series examining how our corporate overlords stoke the flames of civil war in the hopes of avoiding a revolution will focus on the two corporate parties.
After a divisive speech in Philadelphia with the inflammatory title “Remarks by President Biden on the Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation,” I was inspired to do some compare and contrast on this topic. Rather than a Venn diagram which offers a very small space for similarities, I used a “top hat” graphic organizer from my teaching days. Not exhaustive by any means, but here’s what I came up with:
Why such divisive, inflammatory rhetoric on the eve of midterm elections? Because, with the scene below repeated all over the planet, the ruling class in the U.S. fear they are next.
One of the huge differences we were supposed to believe distinguished red from blue was a scientific approach to the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. The demogogue with bad hair that leads the MAGA cult disinguished himself in the White House spouting unscientific nonsense about a disease the public knew almost nothing about at that point. Oddly, his administration still delivered more “covid relief” at least in economic terms than has Biden’s.
Once the current administration came to power, we got plenty of vaccines and boosters that didn’t actually keep us from getting infected but no mitigation effects like N95 masks for all to protect the vulnerable, nor high quality air filtration in public spaces like classrooms. Science became “the science” which is science in the service of commerce — not the same thing. And economic relief from the effects of layoffs, illness, lack of free public school daycare? Fuggidaboudit.
I think history will conclude that, if not for the pandemic, 45 might very well have been a two term president. But never mind about the current ~400 deaths per day. It’s pretty clear that our rulers of either color have lost interest in protecting us from premature death. Neither party supports the universal health care fundamental to success in adressing public health elsewhere.
But what about January 6?
It’s clear that the outgoing president incited his followers to stage a riot at Congress on the day the election results were to be certified. The legal fallout from that is pretty intense for said followers who are receiving hefty jail sentences for their participation. The fallout for 45 remains to be seen. It would, however, be unprecedented for him alone among presidents to be held to account for any of his crimes, including a new possibility, that of mishandling classified documents.
The war crimes of each successive president are never called to account, no matter whether the man in the White House has a D or an R after his name.
The other science topic that was once supposed to be — and is still heavily sold as — a HUGE difference between blue and red was protecting access to reproductive health care, including abortion.
I say supposed because Democrats for decades did nothing to codify Roe v. Wade into law. They were able to fearmonger and fundraise so successfully off the prospect of it being overturned that they didn’t want to give it up.
The fact that the Supreme Court is now a swamp of sex offenders and religious zealots was the fundamental reason used to promote the need to Vote Blue No Matter Who. But this argument doesn’t hold up. The Obama administration failed to insist on hearings for their 11th hour nominee Merrick Garland, and failed to block the 11th hour confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett. For that matter, the Democratic Party failed to convince elderly, ailing Ruth Bader Ginsberg to step down in time for Obama to replace her.
Once upon a time, we were able to distinguish the two parties by their differing aesthetics. When the GOP was in the White House, we were embarrassed on the international stage. 45 pandering to his base had to stoop pretty low, and George W. Bush was the most inarticulate president since the advent of television.
Those days are gone. Or maybe the White House just kept on the same art director?
I’ll end with a few of the zillions of tweets commenting on Biden’s speech.
The divide and conquer trope at the heart of the U.S. empire’s moral rot is race.
Race is the biologically imaginary distinction between humans based on melanin i.e. skin color.
The fact that white supremacy was first enforced against indigenous people in the Caribbean and North American continent gets muddied by the ideology of Christianity’s Doctrine of Discovery where not-white = heathen.
It took 1619 and the enslavement of African people to start cementing in place a permanent underclass based on the skimpy ideology of skin color-hair texture.
White America has been sitting on a powder keg of race relations ever since, with discontent always brewing, and terrified owners desperate to keep their power over workers.
When I was a young child my father pointed out that I was white but that fact didn’t make me better than anyone else, just luckier. “Many doors will be open to you that would not be if your skin were a different color,” he explained.
Some examples of what dad was talking about:
Dad used the GI bill to get a college education after discharge from the Army. Many Black GI’s did not receive this earned benefit. They also did not receive GI bill support for home ownership as millions of white veterans did.
This set up Black families in the U.S. for generational disparities in net worth. As reported by the Federal Reserve:
In the 2019 survey, White families have the highest level of both median and mean family wealth: $188,200 and $983,400, respectively. Black and Hispanic families have considerably less wealth than White families. Black families’ median and mean wealth is less than 15 percent that of White families, at $24,100 and $142,500, respectively. Hispanic families’ median and mean wealth is $36,100 and $165,500, respectively.
The 1619 Project is a collection of research-based essays on how white supremacy warped not only our hearts and souls but the actual structures of government (think electoral college). It also argues that racism hurt labor organizing. What true strength in numbers can there be if white workers don’t stand shoulder to shoulder with workers of color? How will labor stand up to capital if solidarity is rotted from within by racism?
The Project’s authors also cite the dreadful state of public transportation in this country as an effect of racist public policies based on white flight from cities to suburbs.
The horrifying state of policing likewise is a logical outgrowth of slave patrols and the notion that any white man with a gun is entitled to rob any person of color of their freedom. How many #sayhisnameDonovanLewis cases will there need to be before white people stop funding more and more violent police forces out of fear?
Police gunning down unarmed, even sleeping, Black and brown people is part of the very fabric of the U.S. Now, with cell phone cameras and bodycams for police, even white people can see the problem.
And as Chris Hedges argued recently, a low-income white person without health care, living precariously as the U.S. empire declines, clings to gun ownership as the final bulwark against humiliation.
Black majority cities like Jackson, Mississippi and Flint, Michigan go without potable water for years.
Mortality and other indicators of health are significantly different by race, both pre and post Covid.
Mass incarceration for a myriad of victimless crimes (cannabis possession springs to mind) denies Black families of their parents, and Black communities of their voters. And keeps ex-cons in the prison labor force many compare to slavery, but out of the labor/ force where they would compete with white workers.
White women have played an outsized role in demonizing Black people just for existing. Emmett Till was lynched at age 14 after white adult Carolyn Bryant Donham lied about him sexually harrassing her, but a grand jury in Mississippi still failed to indict Donham for her role in Till’s death.
Media has pushed the narrative of an alleged criminal class based on melanin so relentlessly that even Black and brown people are more likely to identify what a young man of color is holding as a gun when it’s actually a cell phone or a soda can.
Liberals like 3rd grade teacher Jane Elliott could easily demonstrate the educational impacts of separate, unequal treatment based on eye color, but that did nothing to change systemic racism.
Some believe, and I’m among them, that reparations is the only thing likely to effect real progress.
It would be hard to find a more divisive issue than reparations. Unless it is the first Black president of the U.S. — a neoliberal who did almost nothing to address economic disparities by race, but allowed a lot of white people to pretend that electing him had ushered in an era of post-racism. Uh huh.
What was then called the Generation Gap was a feature of my own youth. Was it driven by mainstream media? Hard to say for certain, but we experienced it viscerally as a culture gap with our WW2 or Korean war veteran fathers and our housewife mothers. The draft that condemned 58,000 young men to die and thousands more to suffer a lifetime of moral injury over terrorizing and slaughtering millions in Vietnam drove the disconnect between our generation and theirs. This spilled over into negative attitudes toward “the Establishment” in general and the government in particular (which attitudes, incidentally, eliminated the viability of the draft in the U.S.).
Today’s Boomer v. Zoomer, or Millennial, or Gen X, is a different divide. Mostly, it’s economic.
For example, a poverty draft is what replaced the “universal” draft, and the desire to pay for a college education is a very common reason young people give for enlisting in the military today.
The boomers who tuned in, turned on, and dropped out often did so cushioned by family money. I’ll always be grateful to an artist friend who heard my millennial teenager say he wanted to live like the artists who moved to the country and spent all day in their studios. Friend to my son: “We had trust funds.”
Other boomers invented the derivatives they used to get rich while crashing the housing market in 2008. Some become obscenely wealthy investing in information technology that drove the boom that preceded the bust.
Boomers got college educations with loans we could easily pay off, we bought houses with incomes from full time jobs with lavish perks and benefits, and younger generations got the crumbs of that. They are often disparaged by oldsters because they evince no loyalty to the corporations who exploit them and toss them aside. Retiring after decades of service with a comfortable pension is rare nowadays outside the upper echelons of management.
Most working families today have two full time jobs, astronomic child care costs, and a rent or mortgage payment that is staggering. Add health care that is unaffordably out of reach for many youngs, plus a climate emergency rampaging out of control, and its easy to see why respecting their elders is not in the cards for young people today.
Today, boomers are generally considered to be more racist, more selfish, and ruder than everyone else.
Some of this is undoubtedly true, while some of it is perception. I remember a family dinner where the millennials were unpacking #MeToo and one of the males opined that it was payback for boomers being dicks and proud of it. His wife responded, “You think I’ve never been sexually harrassed by someone our age?”
How much generational conflict is driven by mass media in 2022? Quite a lot. Type in the search term “boomers v.” and get 15 million hits.
The oligarchs who own and operate corporate media would far rather have young people resenting the boomers as a group than eating the specifically rich ones.
Did I mention that slogans like “eat the rich,” and images like guillotines, are common in spaces where younger people congregate?
A very interesting generational divide has been the steady movement away from binary gender identification. My grandmother bemoaned the fact that hippy long hairs made it so her generation couldn’t tell the boys from the girls (really? I could). Now, boomers crack jokes like the one above. But younger generations are on to something: the need to reject the mind control of false dichotomies that begin at birth with gender assignment.
Ultimately, the U.S. war of generations reflects the absurd situation families are in: it takes a village to raise a child, and the nuclear family is no substitute. After covid took an ax to already inadequate child care structures, working mothers especially are struggling.
Who can blame them if many don’t want to have children at all?
Besides beefing up militarized police departments, what else can U.S. oligarchs do to keep the masses from revolting? Divide and conquer! Today I begin a series on some of the many false divisions being actively sown by our corporate overlords.
My first topic is in the news due to promised cancelation of a small fraction of federal student loans. It’s hot now because the pandemic pause on loan repayments was set to expire (and has now been kicked down the road to January 1, 2023.)
Supporters of student loan cancelation v. those who think it’s unfair
This one pretty much boils down to an argument about whether you believe that higher education benefits individuals or benefits society as a whole. Talk about a false dichotomy! It benefits both, but you might miss that in the harsh exchanges about Biden’s promise to cancel student loans if elected.
Lots of real people plus a legion of trolls are attacking those promised a paltry $10-20k of debt relief in an era of predatory student lending with interest rates so high the principal lingers for decades.
And, unlike other forms of debt, there is no relief possible via bankruptcy (thank Senator Biden c.2015 for that one).
One big objection seems to be that being coerced into the military in order to pay for college is no longer working as well as it did.
So, where’s the cannon fodder going to come from?
Such are the concerns of our corporate overlords.
I was once in an emergency room doubled over with pain from diverticulitis. Another woman was sharing loudly that her daughter, a special ed student, had left school in 9th grade because, “they weren’t teaching her nothing, and she weren’t learning nothing.” I was too sick to voice the thought in my head: “Aren’t we lucky that the nurses and doctors we’re waiting to see didn’t feel that way?”
A few years later, the RN at my primary care doctor’s office recognized me and introduced herself as a student from my very first year of teaching. She was happily married with two kids and had fond memories of our school year together.
I didn’t ask about her student loans but she was from a low-income family and I doubt she got a nursing degree without debt in some form.
I took out federal student loans for a masters degree in education in order to become a teacher, and part of the focus in those years (early 90’s) was improving science education at the elementary school level. Not my area of strength, so I put more effort there. I also completed the Ms.Ed at my employers’ expense, and paid off the student loans just about as my oldest child entered college.
Who benefited most from education in this situation?
Me? My son? My former student? Or the community she serves as a health care provider and I served as an educator?
Also, right around when a college education started being pushed for everybody in order to benefit wealthy owners who needed high quality workers trained at someone else’s expense is when predatory student lending took off. Clueless boomers like me thought going into debt for a college degree was a good investment in yourself and your future ability to feed your family. That’s because we were able to pay off our student loans in a decade or so without breaking the bank.
A recent flame war on Twitter was set off when an elder commented that millenials seem “cavalier” about the decision to not have children.
This is a nice segue to the next divide and conquer strategy I’ll address: sowing discord between generations.
Such is the nature of empires. Or, as the State Department weasel word experts would have it, “The U.S. government works to advance U.S. interests in Nicaragua by helping the country increase its prosperity, security, and democratic governance.” Uh huh.
The U.S. used to have the consent of most of the white people it governed in North America. This was back when home ownership and health care were not out of reach for full time workers.
But, while WW3 looms as the military-industrial complex “solution” to eroding U.S. hegemony, the Biden administration is rapidly losing that consent on several fronts.
Losing the consent of the governed, health care dept.
For-profit health care is an oxymoron and millions have died too young as a result of the greedy medical profiteers who own and operate the U.S. government.
The architect of U.S. failure to contain a pandemic still killing 400 people a day just announced he is retiring at 81 — with a net worth of about $10 million. From a career in public service? Give me a break.
A subscriber-only piece on Patreon by Jack Mirkinson, “Good Riddance to Anthony Fauci,” argues convincingly that, “The worship of Fauci feels like the ultimate triumph of vibes over reality.” Because all the blather about how we had to vote blue no matter who to get a bad, science-denying president out of office had Democrats rejoicing that now the U.S. would “follow the science” and, with Fauci able to lead, get our deadly pandemic mismanagement under control.
We see how well that has worked out.
Number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths worldwide as of August 15, 2022, by country
Or maybe you prefer to compare per capita rates, which take into account total population? The U.S. has 10.37 deaths per million residents. By contrast, Japan, another capitalist state that miraculously also maintains a robust public health system, has 0.94 covid deaths per million. Canada, with demographics and culture more comparable to the U.S., has a rate of 4.03.
But statistics can lie, so what about the anecdotal evidence my Twitter feed is chock full of? So many posts noting that, where public health and commerce are in conflict, commerce prevails. And when it comes to commerce, Weapons R U.S.!
As the next pandemic looms, we hear that tiny and heavily sanctioned Cuba — which has one of the most successful public health programs on the planet — already has measures in place to protect its people from simian smallpox (aka monkey pox). The U.S. has a few vaccines and not much else.
Back to Fauci-land:
Losing the consent of the governed, economic dept.
Medical debt in the U.S. is a huge factor detrimental to personal wealth. It’s part of what makes us so exceptional. You think Japanese and Canadian people lose their homes to mortgage default when they can’t pay for cancer treatments?
That’s been the sad case for decades now, but recently the Biden administration’s sanctions on any country not helping with the proxy war on Russia have taken an ax to global economic structures.
This has Europe reeling from double digit inflation, only kept below 10% in the U.S. by a gas tax holiday contributing mightily to the hottest northern hemisphere summer ever.
It has also led to to a stampede away from the dollar as a medium of global exchange. Maybe the warhawks who love to wield economic sanctions didn’t really think this one through?
Meanwhile the Biden administration is roundly scorned for failing to pass universal health care or even Build Back Better, failing to forgive student loans as promised, and passing a climate bill that benefits fossil fuel and electric car corporations. Oh, and a rider extended the Unaffordable Care Act and will allow Medicare to negotiate prices of a paltry ten medicines several years from now. Too little, too late.
All the puff piece journalism lauding this “win” for Democrats — who won’t even protect the most basic medical rights of those of childbearing age elected them for — exemplifies why the U.S. public is also rapidly losing the last shreds of trust in corporate media.
Losing the consent of the governed, police state dept.
Forget the FBI at Mar-a-Lago. The loss of faith in police nationwide is accelerating steadily. Evidence? Search on Twitter for the term “suspended” and see what pops up. The recent worst in a sea of brutality:
People of color knew all along that this shit happened to their loved ones with little accountability. Now, because phone videos are everywhere, white people know it too.
Cue the Biden administration’s budget requests for FY23: $37 billion for 100,000 additional police officers, and even more transfers of used military equipment from the Pentagon to municipal police departments.
Because when you’re rapidly losing the consent of the governed, who you gonna call?
In the quest to understand other cultures, confusion is normal. I observe, perhaps clearly, but then misinterpret what I see or hear. This made living abroad endlessly fascinating, and often humorous.
The quest is one of the many things that keeps me coming back guiltily to the propaganda platform Netflix. It would take too long to list every show that depicted Russians as evil incarnate so I’ll just list one that seems specially designed to tee up the proxy war in Ukraine: Stranger Things. The propaganda is often more subtle, and harder to discern when watching a show set in Turkey, Iran, Italy, or South Korea.
Now that I’m down with Covid for the second time, Netflix is useful for keeping me resting on the couch. But I have to find a different show for daytime because my husband would be disappointed if I watched Extraordinary Attorney Woo without him.
The premise of the show — that people on the autism spectrum experience life differently than most of us, and face unique challenges in love, diet, wardrobe, and issues of employment (including revolving doors) — is not uniquely Korean. Several individuals in the community of people on the spectrum have criticized the show as coming from an ableist perspective. Also for depicting an extremely rare “genius savant” as if she represented the group accurately.
Apparently the show is popular enough in South Korea that schoolchildren are taunting classmates by asking, “Are you Woo Young-woo?”
Perhaps not surprising considering the original title in Korean translates as Weird Attorney Woo Young-woo.
So I’m watching this highly entertaining show through the lens of my own experiences. I was a teacher for many years, on teams working to eliminate the “R” word as an ableist taunt disrespectful of people with developmental delays. And I witnessed the beauty that becomes possible when neurodivergent people are afforded time and appropriate accomodations to participate fully in school activities. At my oldest grandchild’s high school graduation recently, his class gave a standing ovation to a classmate with Down syndrome who was receiving a diploma along with the rest of the class. The growth in compassion, understanding, and opportunity that resulted from inclusion is the best thing that happened in public education during my lifetime.
I also lived in Japan for several years, where Koreans conscripted during WW2 were still treated as aliens several generations later. I’ve protested General Dynamics building warships that port at Jeju Island, depicted as a tropical paradise for vacationing in certain Attorney Woo episodes, with a heritage coral reef now entombed in concrete.
I’ve heard the argument that the brutal occupation of Korea by the Japanese empire created the conditions that gave rise to a culture of political protest.
The ubiquitous presence of organized protest is one of the first things I noticed about this show.
Color-coordinated vests with political slogans show up in the courtroom when Woo’s trials address social issues like gendered discrimination or treatment of people with disabilities. An opposing lawyer steps outside her role to protest (loudly) outside the courthouse, and then makes the argument that she was doing so in her capacity as a private citizen, and that she and the plaintiffs only chose the location because they had to appear in court later that day. The judge allows it.
Even the episode on South Korea’s education culture, which many consider oppressive and inappropriately harsh, featured a character using absurdist political theater and direct action to protest. The self-styled Commander-in-Chief for the Children’s Liberation Army has elementary school students ditching their “study cafes” and instead chanting: “Children must play now! Children must be healthy now! Children must be happy now!” He’s the youngest son of a private academy owner known for her draconian regime of 12 hours straight study with no breaks or meals, where students are sent home for using the bathroom more than twice a day.
I live in a nation at the other extreme, where standards of education for the masses have eroded steadily. We look longingly at nations like Finland which has both excellent outcomes and plenty of play time, and where school tuition is illegal to ensure the wealthy don’t exclude their children from the public schools.
Overall, though, I continue to be surprised by how much South Korea’s legal system as depicted in Woo resembles that of the U.S. Our war on Korea killed 5 million before it was suspended by ceasefire and partition of the peninsula into the communist North and the capitalist South. Freedom of speech and press are part of South Korea’s constitution, as is prohibition of discrimination against people with disabilities or on the basis of sex.
That’s the structural reflection of U.S. influence, even though the national government of South Korea has often been autocratic, with heads of state installed via military coups. Militarism pervades Attorney Woo’s world as male attorneys bond over their shared military service experiences.
Most like the U.S., however, is the pervasive class resentment that crops up in nearly every episode. It underpins the education mamas’ anxieties, and fuels competition at law firms where connections trump merit. The theme of class under capitalism was an Academy Award winner in 2020 when the South Korean film Parasite won Best Picture depicting greedy landlords, and was the underpinning of the blockbuster dystopian series Squid Game in 2021.
Our increasingly desperate life under late stage capitalism transcends borders, inspiring authors in many languages.
A final note: it can’t be a coincidence that all the affluent, highly-educated characters on Woo have very light complexions — in contrast to many of their working class clients, and consistent with social stratification by melanin under capitalism. A cursory examination of K-pop stars shows those rising to the top of the highly profitable entertainment sector are uniformly fair. Also, the lighting scheme most often employed renders the actors especially bright.
This is an issue the show has yet to take up, but I’m on episode 11 out of 16, so we could still get there. Needless to say, I will stay tuned.
Author, playwright, director, mother, and blogger Cecile Pineda has passed into history
and I am one of legions who will miss her. Her wit, clarity, and courage to tell us hard truths were valuable, and it was my great honor to be mentored by Cecile in my own blogging career.
In memoriam, I dedicate this blog post to Cecile and as homage I will mimic a couple of the structures she employed in her blog/newsletter: Take Action, and This Week’s Roses Amidst the Thorns. I’m sure that by including these sections in each post, she hoped to offset the despair and cynicism that can overtake those who pay attention to current events.
Cecile’s most recent book
is not listed in the bio on her website, probably because she was slowing down a bit in recent years (she was about to turn 90).
A memoir, Entry Without Inspection: A Writer’s Life in El Norte (University of Georgia Press, 2020) examined the personal and political influences in the life of a self-identified Chicana author who won numerous awards for her fiction: the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California, and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. She also, as a married mother, took it as her duty to have dinner on the table every night. She was also a director and performer of distinction who chronicled the declining support for theater that explored the bounds of dramatic possibility rather than striving for commercial success. She was also the child of immigrant parents who forged her own identity in the face of some spectacularly bad parenting. And, typical of her ability to locate the personal within the political, she depicted the catastrophic effects of U.S. immigration politices via her father’s experience plus the story of a whistleblower who revealed the death of an immigrant while in ICE detention.
I enjoyed this book very much as I knew Cecile by the time I was reading it, and because her life at the borders of second wave feminism and 20th century immigration policies was illuminating — at least the way she tells it.
Even more influential on my thinking:
her two previous books, also non-fiction.
Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World (Wings Press, 2015) is categorized as philosophy and attracted some illustrious blurbs when published. I’ll let one from a prominent environmentalist speak for itself:
Cecile Pineda has the nerve to ask the one simple question that eludes our public posturing….It is the one question that could save us:
What has happened to our mind that we are killing our world?
What is it, at the root of our culture that sets us against the rest of creation?
The genius of this book is that the question [itself] supersedes the answers and takes us on explorations where we make our own discoveries. These widening apprehensions not only pierce us with heartache for what we have lost, but invite us to examine the imprisoning structures of the very language we use.
Cecile Pineda has the rare and enviable capacity to address the big questions without falling into abstractions or sermonizing. It is the artist in her that I trust, and that utters so potent a call to personal and collective liberation.
—Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life
If you’ve asked yourself these questions, this book is for you.
Cecile’s book with the biggest impact for me, personally, was undoubtedly this one.
Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste, much less the radiation produced by accidents, is collective suicide. Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen and another earthquake could replicate it on any of several coasts around the planet.
I am deeply grateful to Cecile for both educating me and stimulating my ability to hold unwelcome truths in mind without succumbing to despair.