R – E – S – P – E – C – T, Find Out What It Means to Xi

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.

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.

Source: World Beyond War

Source: World Beyond War

COP-OUT27 Hastens Climate Catastrophe #COP27

Source: “Estimating the military’s global greenhouse gas emissions
report by Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOB), November, 2022

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.

I disagree.

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, 

the first casualty of war might be climate.

COP-OUT27 Hastens Climate Catastrophe

Source: “Estimating the military’s global greenhouse gas emissions
report by Conflict and Environment Observatory (CEOB), November, 2022

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.

I disagree.

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.

The Emperor’s New Clothes Are Awfully Revealing

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. 

But, it was fun while it lasted.

One last joke before we go:

Mission Creep: Armistice Day To Veterans Day

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 DreamsDemocracy Now!Mother JonesRolling StoneThe AtlanticThe 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.

Tale Of Two Broken Accords: Oslo And Minsk

“Tens of thousands of Italians marched through Rome on Saturday calling for peace in Ukraine and urging Italy to stop sending weapons” © Stefano Ronchini / ipa-agency.ne/Stefano Ronchini / ipa-agency.net  Source: MSN


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.

Alleged Peace Voter 2022 Campaign Endorses Warmongering Democratic Congresswoman Pingree

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:

Signed the Progressive Caucus letter to President Biden suggesting negotiations with Russia commence immediately — and then retracted it!

* 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.

Source: https://justfacts.votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/6586/chellie-pingree/89/foreign-aid

* Voted yes on recent gargantuan funding bills for the Pentagon and its other wars, including Space Force, and NSA spying programs.

Source: https://justfacts.votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/6586/chellie-pingree/89/defense/

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.

Peasants WILL Support The Wars Of Their Overlords — Or Else

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? 

In “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” Ritter details how he was suspended from Twitter back in April for the a tweet like this one:

He went on to explain:

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.

Killer Drone Base Blockaded To Oppose Remote-Controlled Killing of Humans

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.
##

FMI

Toby Blomé 510-501.5412, Virginia Hauflaire 602-403-7576

If Taiwan Is The Next Ukraine, Better Start Studying

Source: China Protests US Navy, Coast Guard Ships in Taiwan Strait, VOA

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.

Since information rather than propaganda is so hard to come by these days, I’ve compiled a digest that goes partway toward addressing that problem. I don’t read Chinese so I’ll have to rely on English translations or, in some cases, messaging prepared with a Western audience in mind.

I acknowledge that this is a very incomplete list of worthwhile readings, so I welcome your feedback and further suggestions in the comments.

China digest

outsider perspectives

Taiwan and the making of an ‘Asian NATO’ – Monthly Review Online, Danny Haiphong

China chip ban a US exercise in extreme self-harm – Asia Times, David P. Goldman

Countries struggling against US domination are inevitably turning to China – Friends of Socialist China, Margaret Kimberley

‘China knows it’s getting stronger’ George Yeo on US-China tensions – South China Morning Post, Talking Post with Yonden Lhatoo

‘Peaceful modernization’: China’s offering to the Global South – The Cradle, Pepe Escobar

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.

Chinese perspectives

Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive in Unity to Build a Modern Socialist Country in All Respects – Report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, October 16, 2022, Xi Jinping

Special report on the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China – People’s Daily Online (in Google English translation, for what it’s worth)

‘Who Am I,’ video about CPC’s growth, purposes and goals, goes viral – Global Times

Who Am I? – YouTube

Congested & Contested: Space Wars Are Upon Us

Free download here


When the Pentagon’s think tank, the RAND corporation, publishes a study it’s worth paying attention. Remarkable in their prescience, RAND reports accurately predicted the Ukraine war and the Iraq war

Consider, for instance, their recent study of what Chinese and Russian primary sources had to say about 10 key events in the U.S. space program 1985-2011. The authors described how the U.S. had others on the planet riled up by

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:

A report from 2000 may be of interest too. With it looking like Taiwan could become the next Ukraine, maybe I’ll find time to read RAND’s Dire Strait: Military Aspects of the China-Taiwan Confrontation and Options for U.S. Policy.

What’s Wrong About Public-Private Partnerships?

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.

“The aftermath of a large explosion that heavily damaged the strategic Crimea Bridge, also known as the Kerch Strait Bridge, which connects the Crimean peninsula with the Russian mainland, on Saturday | ©2022 MAXAR TECHNOLOGIESsource: Japan Times

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.

Big Money Backing White Supremacist Form Of Govt For Portland, Maine

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.

Headline from 2021 refers to controversy over then city manager Jon Jennings, who subsequently resigned.

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.

Excerpt:

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.

Corporations Mad For War While People Suffer Deprivation

Photo of United Nations in session.
Can the United Nations prevent another world war as it was created to do? Stay tuned. Photo: UN

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).

Archival photo of Hiroshima devastation following atomic bomb dropped by U.S. in 1945.
Hiroshima after the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb in 1945. Source: nationalww2museum.org

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?

Map with headline "Mystery leaks reported from Nord Stream gas pipelines" and 3 of the leaks pinpointed along the route of the piplines.

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.

Surface of Baltic Sea with wide circle of gas bubbles visible.
Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark September 27, 2022. Danish Defence Command/Forsvaret Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

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.

Screenshot of a Telegram post by @intelRepublic: BREAKING NEWS US, Jpan, and South Korea to begin joint anti-submarine warfare exercises tomorrow near Korean Peninsula for first time in 5 years, with aircraft carrier (depicted) to participate.

Yesterday, North Korea conducted test launch of 2 ballistic missiles from North Korean territory.

What day do you think your children will remember if they survive WW3?

Maine Child Woken By Rocket Test In Brunswick, Many More To Come

Illustration of a rocket being launched with graphics indicating extreme noise levels.
Source: Popular Mechanics “How The Noise Of Big Rockets Breaks Apart Buildings”

A friend of mine received an email from a friend of his in Brunswick, Maine this week:

Did you hear this last night? I thought of you when my 8 year old came running into my room terrified and crying after they woke him up.

https://www.wmtw.com/article/maine-company-successfully-test-fires-rocket/41347930

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.

Photo from Twitter user Scott Gustin showing a fireball and black smoke at a rocket launch site in Florida.
Explosion rocks SpaceX test launch site during test

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.

Sand beach with large piece of twisted metal and a local bird in Texas.
Wilson’s Plover with debris from SpaceX operations in Boca Chica, Texas. Image credit: Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (CBBEP)

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).

Map of Maine coast showing close proximity of Acadia National Park to Steuben.
Steuben, Maine is outlined in red

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.

Worth A Read: Today’s Curated Short List

Source: Consortium News

Some days my morning reading is especially rich. It’s mostly delivered via email now that social media platforms are thoroughly controlled by our corporate overlords. 

In the spirit of pre-covid social media, 

here’s my curated short list of what’s currently worth a read:

Margaret Kimberley

Decolonizing the Mind

Edward Snowden

America’s Open Wound: The CIA Is Not Your Friend

Caitlin Johnstone

Biden Keeps Pledging Direct U.S. War With China Over Taiwan

U.S. Lawmakers Say Student Loan Forgiveness Will Hurt Military Recruiting

Matt Taibbi

What Happened to America’s Civil Libertarians?

The Justice Department Was Dangerous Before Trump. It’s Out Of Control Now.

Sonali Kolhatkar

The Cult Of Positive Thinking (a tribute to Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Bright-Sided)

Ray McGovern

“Stable as mountains” Putin and Xi in Samarkand

Chris Hedges

Strike! Strike! Strike!

Leaked RAND Report Suggests U.S. Is Crashing Europe’s Economy On Purpose

“Protesters attend a demonstration against rising energy prices on Parliament Square in London on Feb. 12.” Photo: CHRIS J. RATCLIFFE/GETTY IMAGES”  Source: Foreign Policy*

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. 

Overextending And Unbalancing Russia: Assessing the Impact of Cost-imposing Options” is widely viewed as the blueprint for using Ukraine as a proxy for NATO to menace Russia. 

An excerpt:

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.

And here is RAND’s 2016 report, “War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable.” An excerpt:

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.

Excerpt:

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? 

Cue the “dark Brandon” memes.

*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:

Nice Manners Uphold White Supremacy & Brutal Class Warfare

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “A 22-year-old woman was arrested..on Sunday 11 September 2022 in connection with a breach of the peace.” This occurred during a public ceremony to recognize Charles as the new King of Scotland. Source: The National

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:

Proxy War In Ukraine Has Unintended Consequences Corporate Press Are Hiding

Censored mural by Peter Seaton in Melbourne was immediately attacked by Ukranian officials in Australia for its message of shared humanity and the longing for peace. It used to depict Russian and Ukranian soldiers hugging, but has now been painted over.

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.

This necessitates:

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).

Promoting false claims about the Russian military shelling its own POW camp or the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Current headlines on Cold War propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe‘s website

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.

Source: TeleSUR “In Prague, 70,000 people took to the streets on Saturday [Sep 3] to protest against the sharp rise in energy prices and to demand a neutral position on the war in Ukraine. Photo: Twitter @oriolsabata”

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./

Blaming Russia for the fact Europe is reeling from the effects of economic sanctions that cut off much of Europe’s fuel supply — for home heating, among other uses.

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.

Divide & Conquer, Part 4: VBNW v. MAGA

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.

Onward, to Civil War 2.0. 

Divide & Conquer, Part 3: White v. Human

Source: McGill University

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.

Enter white supremacy and its unearned benefit, white privilege.

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.

Source: Ben & Jerry’s

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.

Jennifer Schulte aka “BBQ Becky” became famous for calling police in Oakland on Black men who were grilling with charcoal in an undesignated area of a public park.

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.

Divide & Conquer, Part 2: Boomers v. The Youngs

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?

Boomers, that’s who.

Divide & Conquer, Part 1: Higher Edu For You v. For 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.

“In a study done by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in 2017, 50% of nursing graduates said their number one concern was their ability to pay their loans back.” Source: StudentLoanPlanner.com

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.

U.S. Empire Rapidly Losing Consent Of The Governed

Let’s start by admitting that the U.S. empire never had the consent of the governed in places like OkinawaRamsteinManagua, or Vicenza

What it did have: imperial servants who made possible the soft and hard coups that enabled 800+ military bases in other nations. Also, a rapidly metastisizing NATO.

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 



Find more statistics at Statista

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.

“New York police officers beating protesters with batons on May 30 [2020].  Mostafa Bassim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images” Source: Vox.com

Because when you’re rapidly losing the consent of the governed, who you gonna call?

Is Extraordinary Attorney Woo An Indictment Of Capitalism?

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. 

Protesters in Seoul on August 13, 2022 demand peace on the Korean peninsula. The signs read “Stop the joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.”

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.

Cecile Pineda, ¡Presente!

From her website: “Cecile Pineda was born in New York City, migrating to California in 1961 where she has lived ever since in the San Francisco-Bay Area. She is the author of The Love Queen of the Amazon, written with the assistance of a National Endowment Fiction Fellowship and named Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times; Frieze, and Face which won the Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California; the Sue Kaufman Prize awarded by the American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters, and the American Book Award nomination for first fiction. Other works including Fishlight: A Dream of Childhood, a non-fiction memoir, Bardo99, and Redoubt, both mononovels, as well as her works of non-fiction, Devil’s Tango, Apology to a Whale, and Three Tides are all available from Independent Publishers Group.”

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. 

Selfie with Cecile, Berkeley, spring 2022

Cecile Pineda, ¡Presente!

Take Action

World Beyond War Sign the petition: Don’t get Yanked into war with China!

Roots Action Sign the petition:No to war, hot or cold, with Russia.

Send a Letter to Biden: Sanctions Fuel the Fire In response to the catastrophic fire at Matanzas energy facility in Cuba,an open letter signed by a growing list of prominent figures in the US and internationally, including Cornel West, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Noam Chomsky, and Jeremy Corbyn, calls for lifting sanctions on Cuba.

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Ask your elected officials to take the pledge to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Sum of Us Tell the Japanese government: don’t dump Fukushima nuclear waste water into the ocean!

Our Children’s Trust Demand Biden’s Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland end their opposition to Juliana! The 21 youth plaintiffs, from across the United States and including 11 Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth, in their landmark youth-led constitutional climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States need your support today! For seven years since the case was filed, young people have suffered from increasingly severe climate harms and we need our nation’s courts to do their duty and protect the rights of our children to a safe climate. 

DontExtraditeAssange.com Sign the new petition. The UK must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty: “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”

Lakota People’s Law Project Please send President Biden an email today, and ask him to cement his legacy as an advocate for Native communities by taking action to protect our children and sovereignty, up to and including an Executive Order.

1CM69 STOP! SpaceX Starlink from Spoiling Outer Space for Humanity, sign the petition. SpaceX was given the green light by the FCC in the USA to launch a network of satellites in to Low Earth Orbit, 60 at time of writing, rising to 12,000 over time. These satellites will forever ruin the view of the heavens for the entire planet.

#DeleteFacebook trended and thousands left both Meta platforms (FB and Instagram) after learning that the company had turned over private messages between a 17 year old and her mother leading to felony charges for murder as the two procured and the daughter used abortion pills. You can delete your account on these apps, too.

Roses Amidst The Thorns

🌹The U.S. Army has so far recruited only about half the soldiers it hoped for fiscal 2022.

🌹70% of younger voters have lost faith in both the Republican and the Democratic Parties to represent the needs of the people.

🌹Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Matthew Hoh is on the ballot in North Carolina following a successful lawsuit against Democratic Party shenanigans to keep him off.

🌹Christopher Cooper, the Black man who a white woman falsely claimed to police was attacking her in NYC Central Park, will be hosting a new tv show, “Extraordinary Birder.”

🌹More workplaces have filed to form a union this year than in all of 2021 including workers at Starbucks, Amazon, and Trader Joe’s.

🌹Caitlin Johnstone, Australian blogger extraordinaire, examines “the end of illusions” with humor on a daily basis.

Drought, Heat & Energy Nightmares — But U.S. Climate Bill Favors Fossil Fuel Extraction?

I recently saw a joke that Germans were down to one shower a week and tourism had fallen off. Now I can’t find it again, and I’m not sure anymore that it was a joke.

Did Germany foresee the Rhine River drying up when they gave in to U.S. pressure not to certify the NordStream 2 gas pipeline from Russia? The U.S. told them: no problem we will sell you fracked gas which we’ll deliver via shipping. “German energy nightmare,” indeed.

Of course, it’s not just Germany. England is also in a drought exacerbated by record high temperatures.

Drought in the western part of the continental U.S. is also reaching epic proportions

and fire season is a thing of the past because now it’s pretty much year round.

Drought in eastern Africa is also at life-threatening levels.

Source: Flickr “1.5 million livestock heads have been lost in southern Ethiopia already. The migration of people and livestock from drought-affected areas is straining already scarce resources in host communities. 285,000 people are displaced.” © European Union, 2022 (photographer: Silvya Bolliger)

So, what does the U.S. government do? Pass a “climate” bill with provisions to expand fossil fuel extraction! Congress at this point in history can only pass legislation if it benefits their wealthy donors. (The bill also extended the Unaffordable Care Act for three years. Because that will definitely bring down the global temperature.)

It’s a major reason that Democrats and Republicans are rapidly losing the consent of the governed, and we are running out of time to take action designed to protect life on Earth.

The other anti-climate bill is, of course, massive military spending authorized for FY23. 

To name just one small part of the problem, what’s the climate impact of all those weapons the U.S. is sending to Ukraine for use in a war they can’t win? Reporting from your state-affiliated corporate media doesn’t dare ask that question.

Also increasingly evident is massive expansion of (militarized*) space exploration. From “Increased Spaceflight Will Warm Earth’s Stratosphere 4 Degrees, Study Finds” by Caroline Delbert in Popular Mechanics:

In new research published earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) simulates the effect of greatly increased spaceflight on the stratosphere. The results show that planned spaceflight over the next few decades could raise Earth’s temperature, change global air currents, and dampen the ozone layer. The study appears in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmosphere.

* All U.S. space exploration and development is military in nature, no matter what NASA says.

But not to worry, everything is fine.

Facebook Crossed A Line Sharing DM Of Teen Who Faces Felony Rap Over Use Of Abortion Pill

Buy it on Etsy


The massive social media platform Facebook is in the news this week, and I’m outta there. After being lured to Facebook in its infancy by one of my children who insisted I’d love it (he left the platform years ago) I’ve watched it emerge as the most effective spying tool ever. 

Most people who still use it put public stuff on their timeline and private stuff in direct messages (DM).

So when a 17 year old in Nebraska needed an abortion she and her mother both used their DM to share information about that. Then someone snitched and police demanded the messages of both the formerly pregnant person and her mom. After Facebook turned over evidence that, yes, a teen terminated an unwanted pregnancy using pills, the girl was arrested, charged with murder (a felony), disposing of a dead body, and will be tried as an adult. Mom is facing felony charges, too, for supporting her child’s need for health care unobtainable in Nebraska.

“Facebook previously said it would ban users who posted that they would mail abortion pills to people in states where it is banned or restricted,” according to “The Is The Data Facebook Gave Police To Prosecute A Teen For Abortion” where Vice published the actual court documents).

This tweet went viral:


Today I joined many in deleting my accounts on Spybook and Instagram.

And I actually felt relief but not much regret after doing so

Facebook is owned by a company now known as Meta. It also owns Insta and presumably would also turn over your DM from Insta to the police if asked. Facebook’s defense was that the court order didn’t mention abortion, just a criminal investigation into a stillbirth. Uh huh. (I know pr flaks for Meta aren’t stupid, but apparently they think we are.)

Anything I ever put on those platforms is fair game — something I was always fully aware of and behaved accordingly.  Did you know many low-income people use Facebook Messenger instead of texting which incurs charges on most phone plans?

But here’s the thing: that time I needed an abortion, I had access to a safe, legal, medical procedure as part of my HMO health plan. I didn’t need to go searching for solutions I hoped would not be desperate enough to risk my life, my health, or my liberty. 


And I didn’t have to worry about snitches.

Do you work at a tech company? Do you have information on how they are handling data with regards to abortion rights? We’d love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Do you work at Facebook? Do you know of any other cases where Facebook or another tech company has provided information about an abortion to law enforcement? Reach out to jason.koebler@vice.com or securely on Signal: 202-505-1702

Israel Killing Children Again With U.S. Support

U.S. “aid” to Israel runs about $38 billion per year.

Israel is the top recipient of U.S. total “aid” receiving $146 billion as of 2020.

This is mostly in the form of credits to buy U.S. weapon systems where U.S. taxpayers pick up the tab. So, corporate welfare — which is business as usual for Congress and the White House.

So all this death and suffering is very much on U.S. hands.

The White House has the key role of issuing bland statements of tacit support for Israel’s war crimes, pretending to wish for peace. Because, as we all know, shipping lots of weapons to Yemen, Ukraine, etc. has resulted in much more peace for the people living there.

As long as these are the facts on the ground

anyone still calling for a two-state solution in Palestine is just blowing hot air. 

Land theft, water theft, destruction of homes, destruction of agricultural lands, and apartheid laws including segregated roads characterize Israel’s actions in the occupied territories.

The attempt to separate Palestinian refugees herded into the open air prison that is Gaza from the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Jerusalem has not succeeded. The most recent attacks on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem were understood as punishment for their support of people in Gaza — many of whom are their relatives.

President Joe Biden says he is a Zionist, as if adherance to a violently racist belief system were a source of pride. All of Maine’s congressional delegation vote and sound like Zionists, too. The blood of these innocent children is on their hands.

End Pentagon Climate Crimes! Say Veterans Arrested In DC

Before deciding to reduce my own emissions by taking action closer to home, I used to join Veterans for Peace members risking arrest in Washington DC to protest U.S. wars. VFP members’ motivation this week was an issue I’ve been focused on for years, and one that is finally getting some traction in the corporate press: the climate impact of the U.S. military. So I’m a bit sad that I wasn’t there with them.

I appreciate this group’s efforts to get our warmongering government to recognize that we’re in a climate emergency and act accordingly. VFP members also called attention to other dangerous enivronmental impacts of military pollution, from toxic burn pits to leaking jet fuel into the groundwater in Hawai’i.

Here’s the press release from their action in DC.

Military Veterans Arrested Demanding Presidential & Congressional Action on Climate Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Wednesday, August 3rd, seven military veterans and supporters were arrested near the U.S. Capitol Building. Members of Veterans For Peace, an organization of over 120 military veteran chapters worldwide, gathered at the foot of the Capitol demanding more robust action on addressing the climate crisis.

Veterans For Peace demands that the President and Congress:

  • Stop the U.S.-driven wars and all military weapons sales, shipments and support to nation states engaged in open armed conflict.
  • Require the U.S. military release a full report on their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States military does not publicly and regularly report its overall fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions—despite requirements laid out in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. DoD is estimated to emit more CO2 than over 120 separate countries.
  • Declare a Climate Emergency NOW–and use all the resulting Presidential powers including stopping the granting of new resource extraction permits and leases, e.g., drilling on public lands and pipeline construction, and strengthening of standards including air quality and methane emissions.
  • Cut the Pentagon Budget- Military spending should be reduced by at least $200 billion annually, freeing up $2 trillion or more over the next decade for domestic and human needs priorities. With those spending cuts, the Pentagon’s budget would remain more than enough to keep America safe at a level well above our nation’s post-World War II historical average.
  • Prioritize investing in communities in the U.S. impacted by the military and climate change and in the Global South including paying the U.S.’ climate debt.
  • Prioritize diplomacy over the threat of military force, beginning with negotiations for a global Climate Emergency Treaty and the renegotiation of lapsed nuclear arms treaties between U.S. and Russia.

“The military has done next to nothing to reduce their carbon footprint, either ignoring the climate mandate completely or just focusing on creating more advanced weapons systems that can continue to operate under worsening climate conditions. From the burn pits to nuclear waste to water contamination in Hawai’i, the U.S. military is responsible for an unprecedented amount of climate disasters. It is past time for Congress and the President to hold the U.S. military accountable for their catastrophic effects on the planet.” -Garett Reppenhagen, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, U.S. Army, Cavalry/Scout Sniper, OIF Veteran.

“I chose to risk arrest today because as a Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, I saw firsthand the devastation that the military has wrought on countries around the globe, including just 48 hours ago when the U.S. military issued yet another drone strike on Afghanistan. The U.S. spends unprecedented amounts of money on an ever-expanding U.S. military, using veterans like me as pawns in their justifications for more money. We need to be reducing U.S. militarism and redirecting that money towards climate solutions like renewable energy and resources that meet human needs.” -Chris Velazquez, OIF/OEF Veteran, 2004-2010

Interviews available upon request

####

 For Photos of the Event

“As a retired research geologist I fear the climate crisis. As a veteran, I know our military fuels this crisis and they have no accountability for their actions. It is too late for more talk, we need immediate action.” -Jim Rine, U.S. Army, 1970-73

“As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, Virginia, which has the largest naval institution in the world, I’ve seen the domestic environmental harm the military causes in my own backyard. From the dumping of jet fuel into wetlands in Virginia Beach to the contamination of our waterways from shipyards, it’s important to recognize all impacts of incessant militarism and say no to the military’s war on the climate.” T.J. Thompson, U.S. Navy, 1998-2004, deployed to South America, Mediterranean Cruise and the invasion of Iraq

“It is totally irresponsible for our government to spend billions of dollars funding wars abroad that accelerate the climate crisis while people are suffering at home without housing or food.” -Jeff Parente, U.S. Marine Corps, 2006-2014, OIF Veteran

“The money needed to avoid the worst results of climate change, as well as many other social issues that lack adequate funding, is the wasteful and bloated military budget. Not only that, the U.S. military is the greatest contributor to mounting ecological catastrophe.” -Joshua Farris, U.S. Army, 2000-2004, OIF veteran

“We’ve passed the point of return for our climate and our world. I am here because I know that we must do everything we can to mitigate the worst of what is to come. We must not sit back in apathy and hopelessness. The time to act is NOW.” -Stephanie Atkinson, U.S. Army Reserve, 1984-1990

“As a veteran I have seen first hand the waste of the U.S. military. I have also watched Congress say that they care about veterans and active duty members of the military as an excuse to enrich lobbyists and military contractors, while defunding any military benefits. Since leaving the military I have become a land conservation advocate and I believe I have a responsibility to speak out against U.S. militarism and the pollution that the military creates.” -Mike Marion, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1988-90, Panama

“One of the ways I atone for my actions when I was in the military in Iraq, before I knew any better, was to work towards a better world.  I want future generations to have a chance to live in a world that is not on fire.”  -Jules Vaquera, U.S. Air Force, OIF Veteran, 2000-2006

Contact: 314-899-4515, press@veteransforpeace.org

##

Check out VFP’s Climate and Militarism Project which is doing great work educating and resisting. 

End Pentagon Climate Crimes! Say Veterans Arrested In DC

Before deciding to reduce my own emissions by taking action closer to home, I used to join Veterans for Peace members risking arrest in Washington DC to protest U.S. wars. VFP members’ motivation this week was an issue I’ve been focused on for years, and one that is finally getting some traction in the corporate press: the climate impact of the U.S. military. So I’m a bit sad that I wasn’t there with them.

I appreciate this group’s efforts to get our warmongering government to recognize that we’re in a climate emergency and act accordingly. VFP members also called attention to other dangerous enivronmental impacts of military pollution, from toxic burn pits to leaking jet fuel into the groundwater in Hawai’i.

Here’s the press release from their action in DC.

Military Veterans Arrested Demanding Presidential & Congressional Action on Climate Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Wednesday, August 3rd, seven military veterans and supporters were arrested near the U.S. Capitol Building. Members of Veterans For Peace, an organization of over 120 military veteran chapters worldwide, gathered at the foot of the Capitol demanding more robust action on addressing the climate crisis.

Veterans For Peace demands that the President and Congress:

  • Stop the U.S.-driven wars and all military weapons sales, shipments and support to nation states engaged in open armed conflict.
  • Require the U.S. military release a full report on their greenhouse gas emissions. The United States military does not publicly and regularly report its overall fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions—despite requirements laid out in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. DoD is estimated to emit more CO2 than over 120 separate countries.
  • Declare a Climate Emergency NOW–and use all the resulting Presidential powers including stopping the granting of new resource extraction permits and leases, e.g., drilling on public lands and pipeline construction, and strengthening of standards including air quality and methane emissions.
  • Cut the Pentagon Budget- Military spending should be reduced by at least $200 billion annually, freeing up $2 trillion or more over the next decade for domestic and human needs priorities. With those spending cuts, the Pentagon’s budget would remain more than enough to keep America safe at a level well above our nation’s post-World War II historical average.
  • Prioritize investing in communities in the U.S. impacted by the military and climate change and in the Global South including paying the U.S.’ climate debt.
  • Prioritize diplomacy over the threat of military force, beginning with negotiations for a global Climate Emergency Treaty and the renegotiation of lapsed nuclear arms treaties between U.S. and Russia.

“The military has done next to nothing to reduce their carbon footprint, either ignoring the climate mandate completely or just focusing on creating more advanced weapons systems that can continue to operate under worsening climate conditions. From the burn pits to nuclear waste to water contamination in Hawai’i, the U.S. military is responsible for an unprecedented amount of climate disasters. It is past time for Congress and the President to hold the U.S. military accountable for their catastrophic effects on the planet.” -Garett Reppenhagen, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace, U.S. Army, Cavalry/Scout Sniper, OIF Veteran.

“I chose to risk arrest today because as a Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, I saw firsthand the devastation that the military has wrought on countries around the globe, including just 48 hours ago when the U.S. military issued yet another drone strike on Afghanistan. The U.S. spends unprecedented amounts of money on an ever-expanding U.S. military, using veterans like me as pawns in their justifications for more money. We need to be reducing U.S. militarism and redirecting that money towards climate solutions like renewable energy and resources that meet human needs.” -Chris Velazquez, OIF/OEF Veteran, 2004-2010

Interviews available upon request

####

 For Photos of the Event

“As a retired research geologist I fear the climate crisis. As a veteran, I know our military fuels this crisis and they have no accountability for their actions. It is too late for more talk, we need immediate action.” -Jim Rine, U.S. Army, 1970-73

“As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, Virginia, which has the largest naval institution in the world, I’ve seen the domestic environmental harm the military causes in my own backyard. From the dumping of jet fuel into wetlands in Virginia Beach to the contamination of our waterways from shipyards, it’s important to recognize all impacts of incessant militarism and say no to the military’s war on the climate.” T.J. Thompson, U.S. Navy, 1998-2004, deployed to South America, Mediterranean Cruise and the invasion of Iraq

“It is totally irresponsible for our government to spend billions of dollars funding wars abroad that accelerate the climate crisis while people are suffering at home without housing or food.” -Jeff Parente, U.S. Marine Corps, 2006-2014, OIF Veteran

“The money needed to avoid the worst results of climate change, as well as many other social issues that lack adequate funding, is the wasteful and bloated military budget. Not only that, the U.S. military is the greatest contributor to mounting ecological catastrophe.” -Joshua Farris, U.S. Army, 2000-2004, OIF veteran

“We’ve passed the point of return for our climate and our world. I am here because I know that we must do everything we can to mitigate the worst of what is to come. We must not sit back in apathy and hopelessness. The time to act is NOW.” -Stephanie Atkinson, U.S. Army Reserve, 1984-1990

“As a veteran I have seen first hand the waste of the U.S. military. I have also watched Congress say that they care about veterans and active duty members of the military as an excuse to enrich lobbyists and military contractors, while defunding any military benefits. Since leaving the military I have become a land conservation advocate and I believe I have a responsibility to speak out against U.S. militarism and the pollution that the military creates.” -Mike Marion, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1988-90, Panama

“One of the ways I atone for my actions when I was in the military in Iraq, before I knew any better, was to work towards a better world.  I want future generations to have a chance to live in a world that is not on fire.”  -Jules Vaquera, U.S. Air Force, OIF Veteran, 2000-2006

Contact: 314-899-4515, press@veteransforpeace.org

##

Check out VFP’s Climate and Militarism Project which is doing great work educating and resisting. 

Is War A Hollywood Production?

“Not the Onion”

Many have observed that it’s nearly impossible to parody shit like Olena Zelensky being puffed by Vogue magazine. The flagship of Conde Nast’s pro-capitalism propaganda machine promoting NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine is not surprising, but the fact that many people consider war glamorous is pretty shocking. 

Since the U.S. dropped the military draft and now relies on the poverty draft for cannon fodder, the public in this country is mostly indifferent to the suffering inflicted by combat. Or maybe Vogue readers care about Ukrainians suffering because they are blond the mass media tells them to?

The U.S. destroyed social studies education during the bi-partisan debacle of No Child Left Behind, and it shows.

I’ve never lived in a war zone, unless you count inner cities devasted by poverty and police violence, but I grew up reading history and literature which often depicted the terrible effects of wars and genocides. I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one left who read Gone with the Wind in high school and concluded that a) war is hell and b) most people in doomed societies don’t see the writing on the wall until it’s way too late. A list of the all the anti-war books I was influenced by would now be replaced by a list of all the pro-war video games a young person has played. 

You shot the most bad guys! You win!!!!

I had to take a long weekend break from the news because the prospect of the freezer queen of insider trading provoking war with China via an ill-advised trip to Taiwan was, frankly, terrifying.

Also “Not the Onion” — Speaker Pelosi’s let-them-eat-ice cream moment during the 2020 Covid lockdown when she showcased her extravagence as little children starved in the street mere blocks from her mansion in San Francisco.

It would be hard to think of anyone less qualified to navigate sensitive diplomatic waters than Pelosi. It would also be hard to think of anyone more clueless to send on a mission signaling to China that their red line i.e. the U.S. abandoning its long standing “one-China” policy will be respected any more than Russia’s red line at the Ukraine border was respected. So she is sufficiently obtuse to be a useful pawn in this situation.

Even the Pentagon brass has said the trip is a bad idea. But they’re sending war planes to “protect” her anyway.

This is in the context of numerous provocations involving U.S. warships bullying others in the South China Sea.

The Confederacy thought they would sail to an easy victory during the first U.S. civil war. They believed the Christian God was on their side as they fought for the right to continue enslaving fellow human beings.

U.S. empire managers are making money hand over fist on the Ukraine war. Apparently all that money in the bank makes them giddy enough to believe they can beat great powers Russia and China, even with the two giants allied for their common defense.

The hubris of imperial thinking is evident at the end of every empire that exhausted its citizens through endless expansion and, often, ecocide. As the Ottoman Empire struggled to stave off its declining fortunes it unleashed the Armenian genocide, and the competition to grab its rich colonies escalated into WWI.

War is not a Hollywood production. 

War is hell, but a boomer like Pelosi has lived in blissful ignorance overseeing the policy of “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”

In a shrinking, burning planet there really is no over there anymore. There are only distractions, like ice cream and fashion, both of which would go quickly in a planetary conflagration lit by nuclear weapons. For me, personally, holding babies on my lap is not only a calming distraction but also restores my motivation to speak out against the madness.

So maybe there is a parody version of First Lady Zelensky’s photo shoot after all, one where the flesh is dripping from her bones as she stands amid piles of radioactive ash.

Excerpt from English translation of Barefoot Gen by Hiroshima survivor Keiji Nakazawa.


Click here for ways to take action on reducing the risk of nuclear war.

Reporting On Military’s Role In Driving Climate Crisis Too Negative For Corporate Media?

“Horrific heat descends upon Western Europe:  104° in London”
 Source: Yale Climate Connections (Image credit: tropicaltidbits.com)

Source: India Today

Following an extensive clampdown on information sharing — using the pretext of dangerous wronthink on the covid pandemic — no corporate media outlets and few social media posts in 2022 are in danger of connecting these dots: 

Despite years of research and reporting on the U.S. military’s enormous role in driving climate crisis, and despite record high temperatures and wildfires across the Global North, what messages are corporate media putting out?

Fear Russia and send more weapons to Ukraine. 

By astonishing coincidence, the popular Netflix horror series Stranger Things began production in 2016 and just happens to be set in the 1980’s, getting maximum mileage out of Cold War era bad guys.

Fear China, and conduct RIMPAC war games with South Korea and Japan blowing up battleships in the Pacific.  Also, focus on Taiwan as the location for the next U.S./NATO proxy war.

Remind people how beastly hot it is and how many unnecessary deaths result — but do not address the root cause: fighting wars for access to fossil fuels.

Admonish climatologists to not be so negative.

Spin “protecting the homeland and the United States” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) as necessary because Russia and China might get better access to fossil fuel reserves, rare earth minerals, and potable water in Latin America.

Promote WWIIIignoring the abundance of historical examples of what happened to empires that overextended in the mistaken belief that they were invincible.

Fiddle while Rome burns.

Image courtesy of ARRT! (Artists’ Rapid Response Team) arrteam.org

Garbage In, Garbage Out: The Nuclear Option

What we need: universal health care and urgent action on climate crisis.

What we get: a Democratic Party supported gargantuan Pentagon budget bill (and all the climate harm that goes along with it)

plus propaganda implying that nuclear war is survivable.

This message is from NYC Emergency Management, “not The Onion.” It would be virtually impossible to parody something that is already this ridiculous.

Pretending that the nuclear option is a viable option is galloping ahead of our species’ ability to survive. 

Part of this strategy is pretending that the nuclear option is survivable.

The claims in this video would not have been true in Hiroshima or Nagasaki 50 years ago, and they’re even more false today. Today’s nuclear weapons, which our corporate overlords have gone on building while people went without health care, are vastly more powerful than the old school versions. 

Meanwhile, sabre rattling at other nuclear powers is ramping up steadily.

Does it really matter which branch of the corporate duopoly is in power? 

Militarization Of Fragile Pacific Leaves Destruction And Death

“MUTUAL AID FOR RESIDENTS OF KAPILINA, whose drinking water was contaminated by the US military’s jet fuel into the Oahu aquifer!!” Source: Ann Wright

Today I am reposting a great op-ed which ran on July 4 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (emphasis and photos added by me). 

I met the author when we collaborated on a webinar during the COP26 Peoples Summit exposing the role of the U.S. military in driving climate crisis.

Militarization Of Fragile Pacific Leaves Destruction And Death

by Koohan Paik-Mander, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power In Space board member

While recently visiting Honolulu, I attended two events: the congressional town hall meeting about Red Hill, and sign-holding at Pearl Harbor (my sign read, “CLEAN UP RED HILL NOW!”).

I have to admit, the experience of being on Oahu was chilling.

Because, it is here that toxic decisions are made that impact our beautiful Pacific for generations. You see it all around you. Just pause, look behind the edifices, adjust your eyes to the shadows, read between the lines. This is how to glean clues on the classified plans now underway for war with China. They are affecting us all.

They say the Red Hill tanks can’t begin draining until the end of 2023 at the earliest. Congressman Kai Kahele pointed out a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that says that drainage depends upon the military’s ability to provide fuel for war by alternative means.

In other words, the purity of our drinking water is not as important as the Pentagon’s assessment of warfighting capabilities.

Right now, two alternative fuel storage facilities are being built. One of them is on pristine Larrakia land in northern Australia. The other is on Tinian, one of the lovely northern Mariana Islands.

We never hear about opposition overseas to construct these fuel tanks, nor the grievous cultural and environmental impacts, nor the fact that during any conflict, it is the fuel storage facility that is targeted by the enemy first, filling the skies with billows of black smoke for days.

Holding my sign at the Pearl Harbor base gate, I notice a Korean flag in the distance. My first thought was that it must be a Korean restaurant. Then, I saw shimmering water beyond. Apparently, I was on the harbor banks and the flag was actually attached to a docked warship. Its steel radar equipment peeked up from behind buildings.

South Korean government photo of the Marado


It was the Marado, the gigantic amphibious assault ship — as large as an aircraft carrier — but even more treacherous, because when a vessel that gargantuan plows into a reef, crushing everything on its path before lumbering onto shore to release battalions of troops, robots and vehicles, it is simply stomach-turning.

It is here for RIMPAC to enact the next world war, along with militaries from 26 other countries.

 They will sink ships, blast torpedoes, drop bombs, launch missiles, and activate whale-killing sonar. They will wreak havoc on the well-being of our ocean, hobbling its capacity as the single most important mitigating force to climate catastrophe.

I thought of the Marado berthed, just last month, at the new navy base on Jeju Island, Korea. The base is built atop a wetland, once bubbling with pure, freshwater springs — home to 86 species of seaweeds and over 500 species of shellfish, many endangered. Now paved over with concrete.

I thought of the Marado conducting “amphibious exercises by forcible entry” at Kaneohe Bay, on Oahu.

screenshot from video Valiant Shield 16 shared by Pentagon on Facebook in 2016

I thought of it ravaging Chulu Bay on Tinian, where, in 2016, environmentalists forced the cancellation of a Valiant Shield war maneuver because it coincided with the nesting of endangered turtles. When I visited Chulu Bay, it reminded me very much of Anini Beach on Kauai, except that, unlike Anini, it was wild and biodiverse and without multimilliondollar beachfront homes.

No one would allow such a thing on Anini where celebrities live. But because Chulu is invisible — which is also why it has continued until now to be so kaleidoscopically wild — it and so much of the Pacific have become fair game for unbridled military ecocide.

A weaponized Pacific is a dead Pacific.

And a dead Pacific is a dead planet.

Rocket Launch Site Coming Soon To A Pristine Coast Near You?

Link to video: The Hidden Problems of Rocket Launch Sites 

Rocket launch sites are popping up all over the planet. Here’s a website where a group of us have been collecting news of such and also the opposition on environmental grounds. Scroll down to read my recent article for Space Alert! about this growing problem.

Also, despite corporate press reports spotted herehere, and here

I do not believe that the approval process for a rocket launch site in Steuben, Maine is a foregone conclusion. 

(All three articles read like a rehash of the same press release without much actual reporting.) I say the proposed site is still up in the air because I found at least two people who live in Steuben or nearby who are opposed to the plan, and don’t believe any public hearings or votes on the subject have been held.

A comment on the Maine Biz article claimed that the town is a “Pinkham family controlled” town. I’m not sure what that entails, but if you can enlighten me I’d love to hear about it.

Space Alert spring/summer 2022 issue – 900 words

Rocket launch sites popping up all over

by Lisa Savage

When you hear the phrase “public-private partnerships” what do you think of  – maybe corporate branding on public university research centers, or billionaires raking in taxpayer-funded subsidies? Both of these associations would be true of an increasingly evident manifestation of such partnerships: the construction of multiple rocket launch sites around the planet. 

Promoters don’t like to call these rocket launch sites. They prefer the public relations value of calling the sites “spaceports” which sounds much more appealing and, not by coincidence, much less military.

In capitalist countries, new launch site construction is always sold as a good way to create jobs. Because sites are necessarily distant from population centers, they’re proposed in communities where jobs for wages are typically scarce. People in places that have already built launch sites, however, found the promised jobs never materialized. A crew of specialists arrive to handle the occasional launch while the only permanent jobs are a few for security guards and custodians.

Space Alert! has previously reported on sites in Indonesia, Guyana, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It should be noted that it is common for nations to use launch sites located in other nations, so enticements like a decade of free internet service are used to persuade economically depressed countries to host a site. What follows is an overview of what we know about proposed launch sites and local resistance to their toxic fallout.

SaxaVord in Unst, Shetland has seen some evidence of a planned launch site including reports of an environmental impact statement that is unavailable online. Shetlanders have shown themselves to be vigorous advocates for environmental conservation in the past, and it’s likely many would oppose a rocket launch site in the island northernmost in Scotland.

Last winter, the Welsh Government released a National Space Strategy for Wales citing job creation in high-skilled technology professions and monetary rewards for locales identified as Cardiff, Newport, Port Talbot, Broughton, Llanbedr (Gwynedd), Aberporth, and Radnorshire. The profiteers included numerous companies specializing in missile technology and military training: Raytheon, Qinetiq, Quioptiq, and Airbus Defence and Space.

Less than half of the 20 “spaceports” listed by the United States Federal Aviation Administration have seen rocket launches so far. These are scattered around the nation including sites in Florida, Texas, Kodiak (Alaska), and New Mexico but there are many more locations proposed. 

Michigan is one of many states where groups are working to develop rocket launch sites. In August of 2021, the state hosted a North American Space Summit to bring together rocket profiteers and investors. Investors at the summit were told that building commercial rocket launch sites could be a “space gold rush” with the chance of creating next-gen Silicon Valley tech profits. But no such sites in the U.S. have been profitable yet. Pentagon watchers theorize that the reason the U.S. military is using grants to encourage the construction of many sites right now is to gain an advantage in bargaining down the price of launching from them.

Still, many Michigan residents are opposing a plan to put a rocket launch site at the edge of Lake Superior. And voters in the state of Georgia recently rejected a plan for Camden County to purchase land to launch commercial rockets. Opponents who forced the referendum expressed concerns about environmental harms and safety risks.

Where I live in the U.S. we recently organized to oppose the creation of a public-private partnership called the Maine Space Corporation. A bill was rushed through a public hearing without notice and passed by the lower house of the Maine legislature without a roll call vote. Why the urgency? To create a public structure that allowed private corporations and public universities to apply for grants from the federal government in order to develop sites. One of the aerospace companies involved already had extensive contracts with the U.S. military. Another claims to be operating in a purely educational realm with close ties to the state’s university system. Any profits derived from using future launch sites will, of course, be privately held. So far no launch site has been constructed, and commercial fishermen successfully imposed a moratorium in a proposed location at the municipal level. Needless to say, we will monitor future developments closely and spread the word via our website notoxicrockets4me.org.

The lands of indigenous people continue to be invaded and colonized by for-profit and/or military launch sites over community objections. In Texas, the Comecrudo Tribe has filed suit citing the American Indian Religious Freedom Act on the grounds that it is violated by the closure of public beaches during SpaceX rocket testing. Comecrudo ceremonies on sacred days must be conducted at the beach. Joined by environmental groups, their suit says such closures also violate the Texas Constitution and names the county and the Texas General Land Office as being in violation.

Kati Rocket Lab in New Zealand was sold to indigenous people whose land it is on as a purely civilian facility and launch site. Lockheed Martin Corporation now runs Rocket Lab and the peace community in NZ is protesting this betrayal as military technology is now hoisted from the launch site.

As launch sites proliferate, so do launches. The rapid growth of new satellites which join older objects already in orbit plus a lot of non-functioning junk has implications for climate, the ozone layer, wildlife exposure to disruptive sound pollution, and toxic fallout here on Earth.

Only A General Strike Will Secure The Right To Safe, Legal Abortion

Yesterday I endangered the 20 people I was with, standing on the pavement thinking about the government. I yelled at an older man in a car with NY license plates who was mansplaining that Maine still has access to safe medical abortion. I asked him if he had a uterus and then told him “If you don’t have a uterus then shut the f up” (yes, I said f not the f word). Luckily he did not become angry and shoot anyone. He just said, “Nice language, lady” and drove away.

I’ve apologized to the event organizer for losing my temper. 

The incident made me realize how deeply angry I am about the attack on people who can get pregnant, by attackers who can’t. 

I was disappointed by the coverage in the local paper which focused on the need to vote harder for Democrats. Really? Y’all still falling for that bullshit that got us to where we are today?

Honestly, though, I just became a hair more willing to vote for the Democratic incumbent for governor, a woman who has disappointed numerous times with her craven pandering to big business. Her challenger is the old incumbent, a man who arguably was channeling 45 before that demagogue had even made it to the White House. Rude, crude, and would definitely strip Maine of reproductive rights if he were able. (And ranked choice voting does not apply to the election for governor in our state.)

Some of my friends are posting as former wards of the state about their hellish experiences in foster care. They are challenging the narrative that adoption is a magic wand that solves unwanted pregnancy problems. They are reminding us that they were kicked to the curb after aging out of the system at 18; many ended up unhoused, exploited, addicted, or dead.

I’m also reminded of the now decades old statistical analysis pointing out that access to safe, legal abortions caused the U.S. crime rate to plummet. (If you’ve not heard about this theory before, you can listen or read about it here on the Freakonomics site.) There’s no doubt that policing and incarceration are systems built to keep white people at the top of the heap. Unfortunately, those are constants in the U.S. But did legalizing abortion in the 1970’s have a ripple effects on the rate of violent crime 20 years later?

As a teacher for 25 years I had occasion to know many families. The vast majority of people love their kids — even moms and dads who didn’t particularly want children to be born into poverty and who are struggling themselves after a bad childhood. Parents and other caregivers (increasingly grandparents after their own child succumbs to substance use disorder) don’t always make the choices that seem wise to their teachers. Educators are a middle class bunch, mostly raised by parents that had resources and took the job seriously. We are often judgmental about the suffering we see and who’s causing it. 

If you haven’t lived a childhood full of trauma it can be hard to empathize with those who have. The scars are invisible, but they are deep.

I worked with children in dire poverty for many years. Subsequently, I wrote a novel about their struggles and triumphs; the book includes trafficking, sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. My protagonist experiences all of the above but she triumphs in the end because she’s a bad ass who’s able to find her way into nurturing communities. She has a safe, legal abortion while other characters are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Now I’m revising while trying to find an agent and/or publisher. If you have any suggestions for me, I want to hear them.

You can buy this cool poster here on the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) website.

I could end this post by saying, see you on the streets, but I’m pretty sure only a general strike will turn this ship around. Easy for a retired person like me to say, but if all the women and girls who could manage it stayed home from work next week, within a month Congress would have passed and the president would have signed a law guaranteeing the legality of abortion throughout the U.S.

We must hit our corporate overlords in the pocketbook by withholding labor in order to get their attention.

Of course then Democrats would lose the ability to fundraise off the abortion political football. And I’m pretty sure we’re all clear on which they value more: $$$$ or basic human rights. Under their leadership, what’s the only wealthy country on the planet that doesn’t have universal health care? Of which abortion on demand is just one component.

The fervor of this young person attempting to communicate with the president’s motorcade in Los Angeles this month is what’s needed now. What are they shouting? 

“An abortion ban will not stop abortions! Only safe ones!!!”

I’m Reading A Very Dangerous Book: How Civil Wars Start

Cars were weaponized in Charlottesville in 2017, resulting in the death of people protesting the Unite the Right rally. Several states have since legalized running protesters over with a motor vehicle.

‘m reading a very dangerous book. It jumped off the recommendations shelf of my public library because its title is something I’ve been thinking about lately: How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them (Penguin Random House, 2022)by Barbara F. Walter, professor of International Relations in the University of California system. To say that she’s pushing a neoliberal agenda would be putting it mildly. 

The book purports to share findings from research into civil wars and the conditions that precede them. The concept leans heavily on “democracy” in that the author claims nations rapidly democratizing or moving rapidly away from democratic governing structures are most vulnerable to civil war. Do I need to mention that the domestic demons in her book are 45 supporters that cannot or will not accept his defeat at the polls in 2020? Prior to that the U.S. was a beacon of democracy for the whole world [sarcasm, mine not hers].

The extent to which a government entirely captured by business interests and operated for their benefit while denying basic rights like health care and housing could be called democratic I will leave you to ponder.

What’s so dangerous about this book?

As with most powerful propaganda of our day, the danger lies in the multitude of information conveniently left out of the author’s narrow frame. As one example of what I mean, let’s consider how civil wars of the last few decades are presented completely devoid of reference to CIA meddling or to “color revolutions” orchestrated by neoliberal foundations paving the way for business.

Walter poses the question, “When does sporadic vioence escalate into civil war?” and then ignores the influence of outside forces. She is worse than willfully ignorant because she’s deliberately misleading the public, including students, who may read her book while swimming in the sea of misinformation provided 24/7 by U.S. corporate media.

She tells us helpfully that “The CIA has been studying this question for decades, in an effort to quell insurgencies around the world — in effect, to stop civil wars before they start.” Gosh that would be news to Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, and the nations that once made up Yugoslavia. Their experience: the U.S. covertly funds insurgencies to effect regime change that favors neoliberal economic interests. Also Ukraine, where U.S. governmental agencies have literally been arming neo-Nazi militias for over a decade to fight their ethnic Russian neighbors in the Donbas.

But the central thesis of Walter’s book is not telling lies about the ways and means of U.S. foreign policy. It is ringing the alarm bell to let us know that the U.S. is poised on the brink of civil war right here at home. 

No shit. 

Anyone who’s been paying attention since, say, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, five years ago is well aware of this growing danger. 

To take our temperature in the current moment, here’s a report back from Couer d’Alene, Idaho where white supremacist groups organized to disrupt a PRIDE event, and antifascists organized to prevent them. There were inklings of this in Maine this year, too, where nothing of consequence happened in the streets but online saw a lot of sabre rattling, bulletproof vest displaying, and boasting about plans to counter PRIDE in Portland with a “white lives matter” rally.

Portland City Councilor Victoria Pelletier, a Black woman, explained her understanding of this illogical counter messaging:

Basically there are groups here and there are individuals here that want to make their presence known in opposition to anything that is celebrating any marginalized identity..

It could be PRIDE, it could be a Black Lives Matter protest..any event that is in celebration of a group that has been historically under-represented.

“Bikes lie on the ground after a car struck multiple Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City on Dec. 11.”
 Timothy A. Clary/AFP Getty Images Source: Slate.com

One of my favorite jeremiad authors, Chris Hedges, has roots in rural Maine. He often writes about how neoliberal economic policies have abandoned the working class in places like the one where he grew up. One of Hedge’s recent essays, “America’s Gun Fetish” is worth a read in the context of civil war abrewing. Austerity drives radicalization, and as white people lose power and feel backed into a corner economically, they turn ever more toward violence.

My neighbors in rural Maine have been noticing an influx of heavily armed men “from away” i.e. not from Maine who spend an inordinate amount of time shooting weapons after purchasing some acres in the woods. One group has filled the trees in a neighbor’s wood lot with bullets. Another shoots in the general direction of people growing food nearby. To say that these woods are full of doomsday preppers would be putting it mildly, and there seems to have been an influx since the COVID shutdowns of early 2020. Property values in Maine have skyrocketed, and it isn’t not just wealthy urbanites acquiring second and third homes.

Anecdotal evidence, I know. 

Here’s another piece: Sen. Susan Collins and her husband just put their Bangor home on the market following an incident where someone scribed a polite appeal to protect women’s reproductive rights in chalk on her sidewalk. She called the cops (who, to their credit, said no crime was apparent in chalking a public sidewalk) and then the city public works department showed up at taxpayer expense to clean away the offending message.

Is Collins retreating to make her home in a gated community? Time will tell.

We know that member of Congress are scared, Supreme Court justices are scared, and little children in schools have been scared for years now. I’m scared every time a gunman mows down Black grocery shoppers or Jewish worshippers or anyone else targeted for their race, religion, or ethnicity. 

A nation built on attempted genocide of indigenous people and enslavement of kidnapped African people, a nation that continues to kill and imprison Black, Brown, and indigenous people at alarming rates, probably has such bad karma that it could only end in violent discord.

One of the more chilling depictions of the rise of Nazism in Germany. It’s fiction, but based on true events. Not sure why this book is not more widely known.

I know from reading about the rise of Nazism in Germany that one day you’re saying hi to your neighbors and the next day they’re spouting hate speech and you’re left wondering what the hell happened.

Now I have a moral dilemma about How Civil Wars Start: return the book to the library to do its work on young minds, or throw it in the trash where it belongs?

Leave your opinion in the comments.

Pathways To Progress Talk Show With Portland Maine City Councilors #mepolitics

Some of you know that I host a monthly television program in Portland, Maine with two newly elected city councilors. Pathways to Progress runs on cable tv (channel 5) and now streams live on the Portland Media Center site

This month, Councilors Victoria Pelletier and Roberto Rodriguez joined me to talk about racism in the schools and in local politics, and threats that were circulating on the eve of the city’s annual PRIDE celebration (which occurred without violence, thankfully). 

We also talked about a theme near and dear to both their hearts: role modeling for young BIPOC leaders who will follow.

Enjoy! And expect our next show July 29 at 7pm EDT on portlandmedia.org/live.

Direct link if embedded video does not work for you: youtu.be/ONhMEXBnJLM.

Calling For A Radical Break With The Status Quo Of Incrementalism — Cheri Honkala

While Democrats march around in Washington DC pretending they care about quality of life for poor people, it’s important to remember who actually walks the walk as opposed to just talking the talk.

A joint press conference held by the Philadelphia-based Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign with the Black Alliance for Peace, shared these words of wisdom via zoom on June 16, 2022. Note that the PPEHRC operates as the Poor People’s Army, a well-established organization that has struggled and won housing for single mothers and their children. Details about attending their August boot camp to learn how it’s done are at the end of this post.

Poor People’s Army, Philadelphia (Source: PPEHRC Facebook)

PPEHRC and BAP Joint Press Conference June 16, 2022 

Statement from Cheri Honkala 

Today is our day to break silence regardless of the fear of the consequences. We are honored to take this step along with the Black Alliance for Peace & dear Pastor Keith Collins from Church of the Overcomer. We have no choice but to be here today – not because we want to be here, but because we have a responsibility to our ancestors & brothers & sisters struggling for survival at home and abroad. We come here today on the days before the weekend where many children, like my son, will grieve their father on Father’s Day because this system and the reform path took his life and never gave him a chance. It is because of this ongoing war at home, literally not symbolically, that we can no longer afford incrementalism. We must make a radical break with a system that is killing our family members. 

The drug war has taken more lives than have been lost during Vietnam. My son doesn’t weep alone this Father’s Day. He weeps with children in Palestine, Yemen, Africa, Venezuela, and all over the world because we continue to stand silent as our violent government continues to deny the basic necessities of life and fails to prevent human rights violations at home and abroad. There is no reason for gun deaths in our country. There is no reason for hunger or homelessness – this is the land of plenty. If we wanted to, we could address all of these issues but we live in a country that continues to kill the dreams of children all over the world. 

From the poor in Kensington, Philadelphia to the poor all over the world, we stand with you today. We see you. We hear you. These wars of sanctions and allocating billions for war need to stop, and they need to stop now.

How dare we stand by as billions are spent on war when children all over the world, and here in Kensington, go without water, health care, food or a place to lay their heads tonight. 

We understand we are on the precipice of an economic revolution. Robots and computers are replacing human labor faster and faster. The potential exists for a society where everyone has the basic necessities of life and where war and famine are prevented and where problems are collectively solved. We are calling for a radical break with the status quo of incrementalism and doing business as usual. We are moving forward in the tradition of other forward thinking pioneers and ancestors. We are building a Poor People’s Army. Today we reconfirm our commitment to building this Poor People’s Army and ask you for your support in doing that. Join with us and the Black Alliance for Peace. We will be holding a Boot Camp in Philadelphia August 12-14 and we encourage you to join us in this endeavor. We intend to map out our plans to take back the basic necessities of life by taking land, taking housing, taking food and ensuring that everyone gets educated around a People’s Centered Human Rights model. The ruling class has betrayed us thousands of times – what makes us think this will be any different. We want to move away from the US exceptionalism that keeps us from uniting from the rest of the world. Now is the time in our lives for all walks of life – artist, faith people, and musicians to get off the treadmill that is taking us nowhere. Everyone has lost someone to preventable causes. It’s time we put an end to a system that is killing us and create the kind of cooperative society that we can all flourish in.

Statement from Ajamu Baraka

Black Alliance for Peace 

Thank you all for attending this morning. And thank you PPEHRC that has been at the forefront of the domestic struggle human rights in this country, and especially we want to acknowledge the visionary leadership of our dear sister and comrade Cheri Honkela. 

It is indeed an honor to for BAP to be a part of this gathering to lean our voice to call for a shift in priorities away from the cult of death and oppression represented by the policies of this administration from the streets of Philly to the completely avoided, and we say in BAP, the manufactured war in Ukraine. 

We say this morning as groups are gathering this weekend to supposedly to challenge this state’s continued avoidance of the issue of poverty, that poverty and its eradication can not occur without the acknowledgement that it will take fundamental structural change by popular forces that are independently organized and prepared to challenge the entrenched power of capital operating through the duopoly and currently through the Neoliberal Biden administration. 

Dr. King reminded us of the connection between racism, materialism (capitalism) and militarism – he referred to these as the giant triplets. In remind the movement of these fundamental relationships and declaring his opposition to the war in Vietnam he earned the wrath of the entire liberal establishment and had his life taken from him one year to the date of his declaration to break the silence on war. 

This ultimate sacrifice is the model that must be assumed if one if serious about human rights. One can not have one foot in the establishment, echoing its most backward positions on issues like the war in Ukraine, and the other foot with the people declaring solidarity with the people suffering from the rapacious greed and violence of a ruling class operating through the two capitalist parties.

One has to make a choice – you are either with the people all the way – or with the enemies of human rights, democracy, and global social justice. 

Today PPEHRC and BAP declare our firm commitment to the life-affirming values of equality, social justice, cooperation, participatory democracy, self-determination, and non-oppression represented by the PCHR framework. 

However, we recognize that we are not going to realize PCHRs by just criticizing the rulers or begging for them to recognize HRS. We understand that the realization of HRs must come about as the result of struggle. 

That is why BAP is joining hands with PPEHRC in their efforts to build a Poor People’s Army, a non-violent army dedicated to ground working class and poor people in the PCHR framework and collectively through our own agency creating the conditions where we can experience the full range of HRs. 

People-Centered Human Rights (PCHR) are those non-oppressive rights that reflect the highest commitment to universal human dignity and social justice that individuals and collectives define and secure for themselves through social struggle

The people-centered framework proceeds from the assumption that the genesis of the assaults on human dignity that are at the core of human rights violations is located in the relationships of oppression. The PCHR framework does not pretend to be non-political. It is a political project in the service of the oppressed. It names the enemies of freedom: the Western white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy. 

The demands for clean water; safe and accessible food; free quality education; healthcare and healthiness for all; housing; public transportation; wages and a socially productive job that allow for a dignified life; ending of mass incarceration; universal free child care; opposition to war and the control and eventual elimination of the police; self-determination; and respect for democracy in all aspects of life are some of the people-centered human rights that can only be realized through a bottom-up mass movement for building popular power. 

That is the historical task we face, and the historic responsibility that we have assumed for ourselves and call on everyone to recognize this task and come off the fence. 

Neither party represents the needs and interests of the people and that understanding must be front and center in our analysis and our politics. 

That is and will be the message of the Poor People’s Army that will guide us to victory!

Press conference recording (Direct link if embedded video does not work for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vm0-sc3CvLg)

Statement from Pastor Keith Collins, Minister with the Inner CityFaith Congress & Lancaster Mennonite Conference

Excerpt:

And someone once said, Why is it that we reject the charity model? Shouldn’t the Church support charity? 

Well. the reason we reject the charity model is very simple.

Charity is vertical charity is from the top down, and in charity the people that are on the top remain on the top and the people that are on the bottom usually remain on the bottom or very close to the bottom.

We believe in a faith-based model, that that celebrates solidarity.

Solidarity is always horizontal. It respects all those around you, and respects each other person as our equal. It is not a condescending agenda, but it’s an agenda that empowers everyone.  

##  


The Biden administration and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress are called the trifecta because presumably a party in control of those branches can get shit done. Although they ran on empty promises like Medicare for All, forgiving student loan debt, and extensive claims that they would serve actual people’s actual needs far better than their Republican rivals, what Democrats have actually delivered is mostly a horrifically expensive proxy war with Russia. The $54 billion or so sent to Ukraine has enriched U.S. weapons manufacturers as working class and low-income people here struggle with soaring housing costs, soaring fuel costs, soaring food costs, and medical bankruptcy. 

A glitzy march on Washington with free sandwiches on the bus does nothing to address the fundamental problems facing poor people in the U.S., and may or may not have served as a get out the vote boost for the midterms. 

How much hungrier will poor people be come November? Will they organize on their own behalf rather than following Democrats down the road to perdition?

If you want to help organize on behalf of housing and other human needs in your area, consider attending the PPEHRC boot camp outside Philadelphia this summer. Learn from the best! And don’t forget who your real friends are.

Cecile Pineda, Mimi German, & Me On Homelessness: Past And Present

Photo from Urban Compassion Project in Oakland, California. You can join me in supporting this organization in their collaborative work to meet the needs of unhoused communities including but not limited to removing the trash that housed people routinely dump at encampments.

Today’s blog post is a collaboration that was the brainchild of my friend Cecile Pineda (author of Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World among many other books). She offers a historical perspective stemming from a trip to India, and she invited her friend Mimi German, co-founder of Jason Barns Landing, a transitional community in Portland, Oregon, to contribute an account of how activists are addressing homelesness in their communities. At Cecile’s invitation, I contributed  statistics about the magnitude of our failure to guarantee housing as a human right in the biggest, wealthiest empire ever.

What India Can Teach Us About Homelessness

by Cecile Pineda
(Fact checking by Srinivas Reddy
 
I arrived in India in 1988 after a 16-hour flight, my body so allergic to aniline dye, it had broken out in hives. I was met at 2 AM by a turbaned taxist who attempted to take me to my “hotel.” 
 
I was not too tired, and my body not too riddled with hives that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. We must have travelled many miles on the approach to Bombay proper. They were all  lined with shanty towns, “towns”  people had cobbled together from corrugated roofing plastic, corrugated cardboard, and wooden planks that had seen much better wear. I asked my taxist about them.
 
Welcome to India
 
My taxist replied that they were bull dosed at regulator intervals, turned to dust essentially, although the people living there had nowhere  left to go. Within less than a day, my well-meaning taxist assured me, they would be rebuilt and life there would go on.
 
By now it was close to 3 AM. My “hotel”  (which turned out to be something of a flop house although the people there would take good care of me, as my friend Pearl, an actress with the Bombay Talkies would assure me) was off Ashoke Kumar in a little side street which for one block only had been whimsically named Jump Rope Walk. After multiple tries not finding it, my taxist proceeded to take me to the middle class hotel district where at that hour, every doorman was sleeping on the threshold and didn’t want to be disturbed. We had tried several threshold-sleeping doormen before I began wondering why I let myself be pushed about by this upstart taxist of 25. “Take me to the Taj,” I said. Replied he, ”you can’t afford the Taj.”  I summoned my most persuasive tone, “take me to the Taj, there’s eight rupees in it for you.”
 
Although by then it was approaching 4 AM, at the Taj I knew there’d be a telephone. I phoned. “Oh, Madam, we have been waiting for you. Just lift the corrugated iron gate,” and the voice described how Jump Rope Walk was to be found. “It’s just off Ashoke Kumar.”  
 
When I lifted that impossibly heavy gate, I found a dhoti- clad boy waiting for me. The foyer was  without light of any kind but he didn’t seem to care.  He disdained carrying my bags so, flashlight held securely in my mouth, we started the ascent of what turned out to be seven floors of factories before reaching the “hotel.” On the first riser, I felt the stair move. Someone was sleeping there. The “rent” was one ana a night. Each sleeping person had paid one ana to sleep on those stairs, all seven flights, every single riser occupied.
 
While I waited for USIA to make ready to hear me read from my newly Viking-published novel, Frieze, I made the short trip to Aurangabad (site of the Buddhist Ajanta caves, and the Hindu Ellora Caves). There was only one train, and it left late at night.  Arrived on the platform, I stepped  over hundreds  if not thousands of sleeping bodies wrapped in burlap all huddled together as I imagine a Middle Passage tight-pack might have been.
 
 
The “Golden” Age of The Maharajas
 
Even before the Age of the Maharajahs, the 9th century Cholas of South India would think nothing of gifting a human being who happened to be a skilled stone carver to the Sanjaya dynast to decorate his harem in what is now known as Java.  Frieze, my second published novel, chronicles the story of one such carver. 

 Regional Aristocractic Palaces Lining Holy River Ganga

By the Age of the Maharajas (17th century to the end of the Raj in 1947) with the help of the British and Dutch East India Company, stealing from the common people become predictably  routine. Maharajas made war against other Maharajahs for territorial gains, kept entire stables just for housing war elephants, erected forts, temples and palaces, harems for wives and concubines, sometimes as many as 1000 (according to rumor they kept them satisfied, each and every one) and established foundations to benefit widows and orphans. 

Jantar Mantar Staircases in Jaipur

In the 18th century Rajput King Sawal Jai Singh even built the Jantar Mantar, an observatory located in the Rajasthan city of Jaipur. Some Maharajas built multiple royal cities. Akbar built Agra Fort and the royal city of Fatepur Sikri

Inner Courtyard of Fatepur Sikri

based on a saint’s guarantee that he would sire a desired male heir. 

Inner Coridor at Fatepur Sikri

The city would run out of water ten years later, but it was Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, who took his erection complex to a whole new level, but building the Taj beggared Shah Jahan’s treasury so Aurangzeb after declaring his father incompetent, had him imprisoned in Agra Fort. He made sure there would be no more erection complex as long as his father lived. On a clear day Shah Jahan could still admire the Taj from its distant view across the Yamuna River till eight years later when he died.

Taj Mahal

By the 19th century India had sunk into a state of gothic decay. When the Maharajah of Bangalore built his palace, its walls were studded with precious stones and in true Trumpian style, he had it fitted it with solid gold furniture.
 
In cahoots with the British, all the wealth the Maharajas managed to accumulate they did by stealing from the common people. Which is why after 300 years of stealing, you feel stairs that move in the dark, you step over people wrapped in burlap sleeping in tight-pack formation along railway stations platforms, and you see miles and miles of cobbled together shanty towns piling up along the highways in all of India’s big cities, of which Bombay is but one example.
 
What Three Hundred Years of Stealing from the American Taxpayer by a Congress Held Captive by the Pentagon Will Look Like
 
The Pentagon is not interested in building temples or palaces, some in far better taste than Bangalore’s. It isn’t interested in founding institutions to benefit all the widows and orphans it immiserates throughout the world. It’s only interested in more silos from which to  launch intercontinental missiles, more bunker busters, more supersonic bombers, more drones, more trident-armed nuclear submarines, more tanks, more weapons of mass destruction, more nuclear bombs, more pyroclastic ordnance to use in its covert nuclear wars.
 
Which is why people still wait for state-subsidized child care, why people have yet to see the dawn of state-subsidized Medicare-for-All, why the rights of women to make their own decisions about the use of contraception and abortion is still being contested (where else would the Pentagon get the cannon fodder manpower for operating all that military hardware), why people are forced to live in tents all along highways and railway rights of way of the world’s Number One nation, why incarcerated people are forced to work for slave wages for major corporations (Victoria’s Secrets, Aunt Jemima, Tampax Tampons, Crest Toothpaste, and Angel Soft Toilet Paper to name but a few of hundreds) and what in true slave patrol style, mostly Black, Brown, Asian and trans people are routinely sacrificed by Israeli-trained police.
 
Just imagine what 300 more years of stealing by a Congress held captive by the Pentagon might look like. But as it stands immiseration and homelessness in the U. S. of A., despite their swelling numbers, remain in their infancy.
 

Homelessness by the numbers 

by Lisa Savage
(Lisa was chosen by Cecile as her successor blog writer.)
 
The United States is believed to have more than half a million people unhoused. Accurately counting people experiencing homelessness is challenging, and the most recent effort at the national level dates back to January 2020. The SARS-COV-2 pandemic that followed complicated counting, resulted in innovative shelter arrangements using vacant hotel rooms, and may have lowered the actual number unhoused in part due to a moratorium on evictions, increased unemployment compensation, and limited cash subsidies.
 
“Over a period lasting more than a decade, the nation has not made any real progress in reducing the number of Americans at risk of homelessness.”
State of Homelessness: 2021 Edition
 
But it’s likely that the dip in total numbers unhoused was temporary. Evictions and foreclosures resumed and cash subsidies dried up under the Biden administration, and medical debt in the absence of universal health care continues as the leading cause of default on homeowner mortgages. Housing costs, both rent and purchase prices, are now skyrocketing, pricing people out of housing they have relied upon for years. As of March 2020 home prices in the U.S. had risen 21% over the previous year.
 
 
“A clear question is whether or not it should take a public health emergency to galvanise governments and support systems into making an intense effort to end street homelessness.”
Homelessness and the pandemic (March 2022)
 
Now that inflation is galloping while wages fail to keep up, we can expect even more people will be unable to obtain housing they can afford in the coming years.
 
Who can afford housing?
 
The uber wealthy and those who serve them in government seem to have no difficulty supporting several mansions in different locations.

Obama’s $12 million Home on Martha’s Vineyard


 
The increase in net worth of the 1% has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
 
“As the U.S. crosses the grim milestone of 1 million deaths from Covid-19, U.S. billionaires have seen their combined wealth rise over $1.7 trillion, a gain of over 58 percent during the pandemic.”
Inequality.org (May 2022)
 
And specifically the war in Ukraine has proven highly profitable for big weapons manufacturers, with most posting record profits. This should surprise no one paying attention to their having been called to the White House for a classified planning session and the U.S. sending roughly $53 billion of U.S. public funds for “aid” to Ukraine, i.e. mostly weapon systems.
 
Meanwhile President Biden tweets every day that the U.S. economy has never been better (and is ratioed daily on Twitter for these absurd claims).
 
Most of us have anecdotal experience of the burgeoning tents and encampments of people who are unhoused  in cities across the nation. From Oakland, California to Portland, Maine those who work with the unhoused say their numbers are increasing rapidly.
 
Much has been made of Russian oligarchs and, particularly, their yachts. What of U.S. oligarchs? Senator Joe Manchin has a houseboat so lavish it might reasonably be considered a home, and it’s hard to determine how many other mansions Manchin owns.
 
Will the oligarchs of the U.S. go the way of the Maharajas of India? Stay tuned.
 

Housing the Houseless

by Mimi German
(Cecile’s note: I first met Mimi at an anti-nuclear conference at San Lius Obispo, the site of the Diablo Canyon NPP bordering the sea.)
 
As a volunteer advocate for unhoused people and a co-founder of Jason Barns Landing, a transitional community for unhoused people, how I think we can help the “homeless crisis,” my response is two-fold. First, house people. The second is, love more.
 
We know that we can house people if we choose to house people. Inventory is available if you know where to look and you understand how to use money in a way that actually benefits those who are its intended population.
 
A few months ago, Street Roots, our local newspaper run by houseless people, created a multi-step response regarding how to house our unhoused neighbors. It’s brilliant and chock full of common sense. From their statement, “The humanitarian crisis on our streets requires urgent action. Our homelessness crisis is caused by a lack of affordable, accessible housing, and it is intensified by oppressive forces like racial injustice, health inequities and profound wealth inequality.”
 
We can do better by placing people “in already-built motels and existing housing, which can be quickly converted into the supported permanent housing that people need and want.” 
 
Many people still think that building more shelters is the answer. Shelters do absolutely nothing toward getting people into housing and off the streets. They are too often, dangerous places for women, places high in theft, have addiction barriers, have no support services available, are overcrowded, and shelters have rules regarding open and close times that do not work for everyone, including mandatory rules regarding exiting the shelter all day long from the early hours of morning until 8 pm at night.
 
A further response is to “recognize the leadership of autonomous villages governed by people experiencing homelessness.” Outreach to organized villages and camps working on their autonomous structure to ensure toilets, dumpsters and trash hauling, food support, and medical services along with housing advocacy, gets to these camps.  Support the efforts of the unhoused rather than disrupt or ignore them.

What we’ve done in the recent past is build tarpees for folks to live in, designed by Paul Paul Cheyok’ten Wagner — a member of the Saanich First Nations of Vancouver Island and an artist and inventor.  He designed a contemporary teepee that costs thousands of dollars less than a traditional teepee and uses materials found in any hardware store. We discussed the tarpee idea with the camp and they asked to have them built. We agreed that no money would ever be exchanged for the tarpees and that we would make every concerted to house BIPOC houseless peoplefirst

The Houseless Industrial Complex (HIC) needs to be taken out at the knees, buckled to the ground and boot-stomped until its dead. It is because the HIC makes so money off of the unhoused, that we have unhoused folks on the street. It’s cheaper to house people than pay the emergency room visits for each person. But without houseless people, the ‘sweeps’ companies, paid to sweep away the unhoused people from the street and steal their belongings, would be out of hundreds of millions of dollars. In Portland, Rapid Response is the largest contractor with the city. They conduct sweeps. They employ people who have just been released from the Prison Industrial Complex to do the dirty work of sweeping people. The Joint Office of Houseless Services, the pairing of the County and City ‘efforts’ to house people, exists only if houseless people exist. The JOHS makes billions of dollars to make sure houseless people continue to exist rather than to be housed.

Mitigation starts with love and a true understanding of what is needed by unhoused people. How do we get to that understanding? By listening to the people who are in need of housing. We can house everyone over a relatively short period of time. From there, we can bring in the support needed. We need transitional housing that leads directly to permanent housing. The steps are clear. The money is here and has been voted on. At least in Portland, Oregon where I live. We can move forward with the 3000 Challenge or just follow its guidelines. Or we can do nothing and perpetuate the inhumanity of local and State governments across the US. Which is it going to be? I choose housing. I choose love. 

Ellen Taylor: War Crimes, From Nuremberg to Ukraine

Today I’m reposting, with the author’s permission, an excellent piece on war crimes in the context of international law (bold emphasis is mine). I read it first in Counterpunch.

War Crimes, From Nuremberg to Ukraine

by Ellen Taylor

Telford Taylor giving his opening remarks at the judges trial, Nuremberg, 1947.

I was in Nuremberg during the war crimes trials which followed WWII. My father, Brig. Gen. Telford Taylor, was Chief Prosecutor during the  second,  American phase.  The French, Russian and British staffs had gone home to continue trials at home, but the US stayed longer, and scheduled about 400 additional  defendants. They were divided into twelve  categories: judges, doctors, industrialists, etc. There were 142 convictions and ten death sentences.

I remember the high spirits of the occupying  troops and tribunal staff,

The joy of triumph and victory. I danced with them in the ballroom of  the Grand Hotel, where the officials and court lawyers spent their evenings.  I scared myself by looking into seemingly-bottomless bomb craters, played in the war-shattered wreckage of our commandeered  townhouse, and listened to stories told by the servants, who were tearfully glad to be fed and sheltered during the hunger-stricken post-war years.

And, without paying much attention or expressing any precocious interest, I grew up convinced of  the axiomatic importance, however difficult it might be to maintain universal accountability, of  international law for human survival.

Although war crimes continued to flourish, the Nuremberg  tribunal slowly drifted into the dustbin, often disparaged as victor’s justice. My dad, in his book about the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, was pessimistic about the enforceability of its precepts.  The International Criminal Court, established in 2002, seemed to concentrate mostly in Africa, and the ghost of colonialism was in attendance at all the special tribunals. Books were written accusing the US of war crimes in Iraq, which created a mere ripple in the public consciousness.

However, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this year, journalists have taken up the subject of war crimes with enthusiasm. Even my local paper published an editorial demanding that a war crimes tribunal be organized to hang Putin, as the Nuremberg  war criminals were hanged. Karim Khan, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC),  is on site conducting investigations. Vladimir Putin is accused of waging aggressive war.

At the Nuremberg tribunals, four charges were brought against defendants: premeditated conspiracy to commit the crimes against the peace, the crime of initiating aggressive war, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The  judges asserted that waging aggressive war was the gravest crime of all: it was “essentially an evil thing” and “not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

To my knowledge, since  then, no one has been charged with the first two charges: conspiracy to instigate a war, and the initiation of a war of aggression. However, many influential voices are now accusing Russian President Putin of committing these crimes.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 26th 2022. By describing this assault as a “special operation”  instead of an act of war, Russian President Putin avoided legal interface with a document for which he confesses great respect, the United Nations Charter.  This document, like the Nuremberg Charter, has been frequently dismissed by state actors as obsolete, and is nonchalantly violated  by many nations including the US. Although he distinguished the invasion as a special operation, Putin has referred to the document in the context of Russia’s actions:

Chapter 2 article 4 states that “All Members…shall refrain from the threat or use of force” against another nation. Chapter 7 Article 51, however, states  that “nothing… shall impair  the inherent right of… self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member”.

The OSCE (Organization for Security and  Cooperation  in Europe), an intergovernmental  organization with  Observer status in the United Nations, addresses the issue of the limits of security: ”States will not strengthen their security at the expense of other states…every state has an equal right to security, with comparable levels of security for all”.

The OSCE Charter was designed expressly to contribute to the formation of a common and indivisible security space in the OSCE area, free of dividing lines.

Russian efforts to achieve  peace in Europe  and security for the Russian people were exemplary and extensive since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the subsequent dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  President Michael Gorbachev had been euphoric when the Berlin Wall went down in 1991. He himself had  barely escaped WWII : only three out of a hundred  boys, just a little older than he, survived. He nevertheless suffered heavy personal losses, from the war, and under Stalin.

Now, as the wall fell, his anxiety evaporated, and in his elation he dared to speak of “Our Common European Home- from the Atlantic to the Urals”. He had formed friendships with most of Europe’s leaders. He believed that his acceptance of German reunification would lead to an age of peace, and that the heretofore hostile military organization, NATO, would cease its aggression.

He had been assured of this, over and over, by White House Chief of Staff James Baker (NATO will move “not one inch eastward”), German Vice-Chancellor Hans-Dietrich Genscher (“ the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an impairment of Soviet security interests”), Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor (“We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity”), Baker again (“Before saying a few words about the German issue, I wanted to emphasize that our policies are not aimed at separating Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union. We had that policy before. But today we are interested in building a stable Europe, and doing it together with you”), French leader Francois Mitterrand (“The West must…. create security conditions for you, as well as European security as a whole”), Margaret Thatcher (“We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured…. CSCE could be an umbrella for all this, as well as being the forum which brought the Soviet Union fully into discussion about the future of Europe.”), G. H.W.Bush ( “So what we tried to do was to take account of your concerns expressed to me and others, and we did it in the following ways: by our joint declaration on non-aggression; in our invitation to you to come to NATO; in our agreement to open NATO to regular diplomatic contact with your government and those of the Eastern European countries; and our offer on assurances on the future”), NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner (“We must not  permit the isolation of the USSR from the European community…the fact that we will not place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm guarantee”), and  President G.H.W.Bush ( “We have no intention, even in our thoughts, of harming the Soviet Union in any way”). He believed that a bright new world was at hand.

The author and Mikhail Gorbachev in 2016, during an expedition with the Center for Citizen Initiatives. Photo courtesy of Ellen Taylor.

Because of the terrors of its history in the last centuries, Russia was unwilling to give up this dream expressed by Gorbachev. Therefore, its expressions of indignation were muted when the United States began almost instantly to meddle in Russian affairs, transmitting information acquired through the NSA to help Boris Yeltsin’s rise to power. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Russian assets were sold off, many to foreign conglomerates, and the economy was pillaged.

Russian protest, also, was mild, when, in 1999, the West definitively broke its word, and a procession of  countries, whose borders  extended 800 miles to the east of the 1991 lines, began to make their entrances into NATO. By 2007, fourteen countries had been added to NATO since the Wall had  fallen.

George Kennan was a well-known historian and diplomat,  and ambassador to Russia through the Stalinist period. He greeted this next step, the expansion of NATO to include the previous Warsaw Pact countries, with disbelief and  disgust:

“I think it is a tragic mistake. There is no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. I was particularly bothered the references to Russia as a country  dying to attack Western Europe. What bothers me is how superficial and ill-informed the whole Senate debate was. Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, than any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from  Russia.

But something of the highest importance is at stake here. Perhaps it is not too late  to advance the view that, I believe, is not only mine alone but is shared by  a number of others with extensive and in most instances more recent experience in Russian matters. The view, bluntly stated,  is that expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-Cold-War era.”

Vladimir Putin, who came to power in 2000, exhibited the same  reluctance to give up the Dream, expressed by Gorbachev,  of a “Common European Home”. In 2000, he asked then-US-President Clinton if Russia could join NATO. This was not a novel idea: Krushchev had made the same request in 1954, and Boris Yeltsin in 1991. Both requests were dismissed.

As for Clinton, he bluntly retorted that if Russia were part of NATO there would be no reason for it to exist.

Putin’s life, like Gorbachev’s, had been devastated by  WWII: his brother killed, his family destroyed by the terrible siege of Leningrad.

The spectacle of  military installations bristling with missiles in an ominously strengthening cordon surrounding Russia, and the  tramp of thousands of boots, as NATO conducted military exercises on its borders (estimated at about four simulated battles a month, with Russia in the role of  enemy force) finally woke up Russia’s historical memory of invasion.  At the Munich Conference, in 2007, addressing the 43rd Munich Conference of Security Policy, an alarmed  President  Putin delivered a powerful and now famous speech, addressing the noose he perceived, tightening around Russia.

 He  began by quoting FDR, “security for one is security for all”  and denouncing the unipolar world which had resulted from the Soviet Union’s collapse: a world with only one master, which is destructive of that security “pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.”

Observing that unipolarity does not bring peace and alluding to the wars in the Middle East, he noted that “more people are dying than ever before” due to the “uncontained use of hyper-force in international relations”.

“No one feels safe!” he repeated. “No one can feel like international law is like a stone wall which will protect them!” and, after addressing the ring of NATO bases and missiles surrounding Russia, he asked, pointedly,

“I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended?”

The audience of diplomats and statesmen and women exchanged glances and were silent.

Then he presented a visual picture of a new architecture of global security which called to mind Gorbachev’s “Common European Home”. He detailed the need for  bringing about a fairer system of global economic relations to replace the current one in which donor countries “deliver charity with one hand and collect profits with the other.”

He lamented the stagnation of disarmament efforts and the billions spent on nuclear weapons. He decried the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty, and announced he had brought a proposal to the conference, to end the threatened US militarization of space. He embraced the UN Charter as a cornerstone for the new security architecture and a foundation with which to replace the unipolar system with multipolarity.

Putin did not mince words in his speech.  He was earnest and unambiguous. But, two months later, with a proverbial poke in the Russian Bear’s eye, in Bucharest, at the NATO ministerial summit, NATO welcomed Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.

Since then, Russia has made every possible effort to express its alarm at the spectacle of  NATO’s armed might on its borders.

It has watched,  as NATO’s military exercises have increased: battalions from the different countries are deployed on Russia’s borders and engage “the enemy” in various scenarios, including nuclear, an estimated forty time a year. One such script envisioned atrocities being committed against Estonia, a NATO country, by conventional invading Russian forces. Enacted responses practiced the use of low-yield nuclear missiles deployed from US submarines.

There are military bases well-supplied with weapons in every NATO country on Russia’s borders, including trillion-dollar missile shields in Romania and Poland. The ABMs can be converted to offensive weapons by merely inserting a disc.

“Europe 2020” was designed to be the largest military exercise in 25 years. It deployed 125,000 troops from NATO  countries. US  troops brought 20,000 pieces of equipment from home, and rushed toward previously established storage positions around Europe to deploy more weapons as swiftly as possible and meet 9000 troops already in Europe on Russia’s border. As a sort of psyops feature, the exercise was to have consummated on the 80th anniversary of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, a deeply traumatic and resonating catastrophe in Russian history. The exercise had to be aborted because of covid.

In the face of this menace, Russia’s General Gerasimov stated he was convinced that NATO was  preparing for war. And indeed there is no way these exercises can be described as nonthreatening. But the US views them  differently. In the words of  former Army Secretary  Ryan McCarthy, “The last  18 years of conflict built muscle memory in counterinsurgency, but with this came atrophy in other areas.  We are now engaging these other muscle groups.”

US diplomats, clearly not expecting to be believed, claimed that missiles positioned on Russia’s borders were intended for Iran. 

Jack Matlock, former ambassador to Russia, practically laughing as he spoke, told Putin that NATO’s  line of fortresses was merely a jobs plan, intended to decrease the US unemployment rates.

General Tod Wolters, Commander of US forces in Europe and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, favors a “flexible first-use policy” regarding nuclear weapons.

As General Mark Milley , chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed, “the character of war is changing frequency”. Our nation is bent on an aggressive upgrade of existing weapons systems, and purchase of  new technology: hypersonic weapons capable of 15,000mph speeds, artificial intelligence surpassing the imagination of science fiction, autonomous systems and platforms, 5G, “low-yield” nuclear weapons, dramatic advances in cyberspace with microelectronics swifter by many orders of magnitude. For outer space we have developed what former President Trump described at their unveiling as “some of the most incredible weapons the world has ever seen”.

The new National Defense Strategy embodies the same spirit as its predecessors going back to the Plan for the New American Century of 1996. It requires full-spectrum dominance. It prepares for a high-end, “near-peer” war. Its goals are “integrated deterrence, campaigning  and actions that build enduring advantages”. “Integrated deterrence”  here means, engaging the contributions of all branches of the military, the above-described forward motion of weapons and bases toward enemies, exercises, and adventures such as the provocative entrance of guided missile-carrying destroyers with aerial escort, sailing (as they did)  into the Barents Sea, to “enforce freedom of navigation”.

“Campaigning” includes infiltration, use of special forces, the media, disinformation  dissemination, cyber sabotage, sanctions, and other  tactics to  achieve the objectives of full spectrum dominance. “Build enduring advantages”  means unwavering attention to and purchase of  the latest weapons technologies.

The word “Competitor” is used in the document  interchangeably with “enemy”.

Over the years, in preparation for  furthering this dominance, in spite of entreaties from the UN, allies, and Russia and China themselves, the US has withdrawn from multiple treaties:  ABM(2002),Iran Nuclear Deal (2018), UN Human Rights Council(2018), INF (2019), the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty (2020), and the Open Skies Treaty (2020).

Neither Russia or China is eager for the role of US adversary, the “near-peer” enemy which  will help  the US to “reactivate atrophied muscle groups”. They have had to be teased, baited and tortured, like reluctant bulls in a bullfight, into responding. The Ukraine catastrophe is part of the result.

Russians are deeply attached to the Ukraine, which was part of Russia for far longer than the US has existed: indeed, for most of Ukraine, from the 9th century until 1991. This love has been dismissed as mystical nonsense by  editorials in the New York Times and other opinion-forming media. Naomi Klein has described it as “toxic nostalgia.”

Nostalgia occupies an enormous realm in human nature. It is the deep and ever-stirring  nursery for  human creativity. It sometimes motivates self-defense, as in the American indigenous peoples’ resistance to assimilation, or the Russian kulaks’  resistance to Stalin-imposed collectivization. It is toxic when it drives military or cultural aggression.

However, nostalgia notwithstanding, Russia  did not resist Ukraine’s bid for independence in 1991, nor did it interfere with the illegal coup  of 2014, only taking the critically  self-protective  step of reclaiming its   naval base in Sebastopol and liberating  Krushchev’s gift to Ukraine, Russian Crimea.

 To be sure, there is nostalgia, just as the people of my  bioregion dream of the mighty salmon runs and giant trees of their childhood. Ukraine and Russia have what might be called a  chthonic relationship, one relating to the earth, the rivers, the spirit. Students of Russian history, culture and literature, begin their educational journey with immersion in the life and  events of Rus, what is now Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church had its origins in  Ukraine.

The action of Russia’s great epic poem, “The Song of Igor’s Campaign,” occurs in present-day Ukraine. It is, is, in beauty and profundity,  comparable to the Shanameh of Persia, the Kalevala of Scandinavia, the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh, or the French Song of Roland. It  is beloved in Russia and  memorized by Russian schoolchildren. Many of Russia’s and the world’s favorite authors are Ukrainian: Nikolai Gogol,  Mikhail Sholokov,  Mikhail Bulgakov, Isaac Babel, Taras Shevchenko. Aleksander Solzenitsyn’s mother was Ukrainian.

The Cossack culture which persisted for centuries in eastern Ukraine between the Don and the Dnieper, is a romantic, and  music-and-legend-filled part of Russian cultural heritage. Though much older and deeper, it has a role in art and history not unlike US western movies and literature.

Ukrainians are extensively intermarried with Russians, statesmen among them. Leonid Brezhnev was Ukrainian, Nikita Krushchev had a Ukrainian wife and was raised in the Ukraine, where he was Governor for many years. Dmitri Medvedev’s wife is Ukrainian.

Although there were separatist revolts after WWII in Ukraine, mainly instigated by western Ukrainians who had fought with the Nazis, the fact that Krushchev gave Crimea, home of the Russian Navy for almost 250 years, to Ukraine, in 1954, is evidence that he had not the slightest doubt of its intimate relationship with Russia.

Ukraine was the trusted repository for  a large quantity (one-third!) of  the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal, and an important nuclear research facility was located in Kharkov. However, it  did not have command and control powers over these weapons and the preplanned launch codes remained in Russia. Therefore, after 1991 they were returned to Russia in the name of nonproliferation.

 Thus, the destruction of this arsenal was in reality a destruction of Russian weapons. The Ukraine received assurances. It was inconceivable at the time that one day Ukraine would request their replacement with US weapons, to be pointed at Russia.

In the last decade Ukraine has been the flashpoint of NATO aggression. In 2014 the United States engineered “the most blatant coup in history” as George Friedman, CEO  of Stratfor, the “shadow CIA”, described it. The US  subsidized it with 5 billion dollars, and engineered it through, among others, Assistant Secretary  of State Victoria Nuland, whose clearly recorded conversation with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, was hacked and revealed to the world. The coup was led by the Svoboda (Nazi) Party, and also recorded on tape and video as it violently  overthrew democratically-elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich and his government.

Since then, Ukraine has been swiftly developed into a theatre for potential military operations. NATO has conducted exercises. Scripts such as Rapid Trident, involving thousands of Ukrainians and foreigners, have been carried out at Yavoriv, a military base  in Ukraine, in the Black Sea, and elsewhere. The Ukrainian military has become skilled, versatile, flexible and, with the help of NATO countries, especially the US, extremely well- armed. Academi, a private military company  formerly infamous as Blackwater, has been training Ukrainian soldiers since 2015, especially in city warfare. Ukraine has developed a first-class military.

Over the past  two decades Russian diplomats have exhaustively conveyed their objections to the ever-nearing shadow of NATO in Ukraine, but, after Maidan, Russian troops started to appear in greater numbers on Ukraine’s eastern border.

As President Putin observed, “For the US,  Ukraine is a matter of geopolitical dividends. For Russia, it is a matter of life or death”.

Vladimir Zelensky campaigned for President of Ukraine in 2019 on a platform of peace, promising to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine where 14,000  eastern Ukrainians had died in the previous five years resisting the coup-imposed Ukrainian regime. He promised to implement the Minsk accords which entailed withdrawal of troops, meaningful dialogue, amnesty for participants in the fighting, release of prisoners, foreign aid withdrawal, special status for autonomy for Luhansk and Donetsk,  Ukrainian control of the borders, and monitoring by the OSCE, the  European Security and Cooperation organization.

He did not fulfill these campaign promises. Instead, he repeated Ukraine’s intentions to take back the Crimea and suppress the eastern oblasts, in March 2021. Russia’s consternation was expressed in the immediate deployment of tens of thousands of troops to the Ukrainian border.

For the next nine months Russia attempted to negotiate, without success. And, while NATO and US weapons and expertise continued to flow into Ukraine, the Russian standing army  grew bigger and bigger on Ukraine’s eastern frontier. Putin reported, “Russia has been forced to respond at every step. The situation keeps worsening and deteriorating. And we are here today, in a situation when we’re forced to resolve it somehow”.

Accompanying  Russia’s final negotiations proposal, in December 2021, Putin emphasized that he had “a knife at his throat” and “nowhere further to retreat to”.

His proposal again fell on deaf ears.

By now, Russia had amassed an army of over 100,000 troops on its western border with Ukraine. Opposite them Ukraine had itself amassed an army, the advance guard of which had for the previous decade managed to kill an estimated 14,000  eastern Ukrainians resisting the Maidan coup. As a further threat, NATO had sent additional troops and massive armaments to  its member-countries along the Russian border.

Russia repeatedly and steadfastly denied US accusations that it was preparing to invade Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelensky himself appeared not to believe it.

NATO’s intention was to precipitate an attack. From the legal perspective it was imperative not to be  identified as the aggressor. Russia was aware of  this too. The looming presence of the Russian army on the border was intended be a negotiations tactic,  a forceful demonstration of  Russia’s demand for  security. Russian leadership owed this to its people: the responsibility to protect.

Rather than preparation for attack, the apparition of 100,00  Russian troops was more like a hunger strike. In the case of both, failure is death, and therein lies its strength, but also its weakness. The hunger striker depends on his captor’s interest in his survival, and it  only works if he cares.

By February, U.S. President Biden was fairly dancing with his  news that Russia was on the verge of an attack. On Feb. 15th, the OSCE  reported  that there had been  41  shellings of the Donbas by the Ukranian army. This increased to 756 the next day,  then 316, 654, 1,413, 2,026, 2,026, 1,484, on the successive days. Russia, convinced that an attack was  imminent, despairing of negotiations, persuaded by information contained in a hacked email, and aware of the danger of waiting any longer, launched its “special operation”.

The rest is history as they say. Be it remembered that Russia’s original  casus belli was that Ukraine swear not to become Russia’s official enemy by joining NATO. That was all.

For this, President Zelensky sacrificed his country. In unbelievable images, he armed grandmothers and children (there are pictures of old women being  instructed in the use of  automatic weapons!) to embellish the image of a tiny valiant country  facing a monster. Soon the country was awash with weapons, millions were fleeing, and people from other countries were making their way to Ukraine looking for  “profiles in courage”  fighting opportunities.

US congressional backing was practically unanimous. The AUMF had been updated without a murmur. President Biden made  inflammatory comments such as “ This criminal must not remain in power!”  Finland and Sweden asked for NATO membership.

Noam Chomsky, in a May 12th interview by Alternative Radio, condemned Putin’s invasion : “Had Putin been a statesman, would have done something quite different… he would have grasped tentative proposals” made by French President Macron, who since before the invasion had been urging negotiation, and, with them, tried to engage the rest of NATO nations to consider diplomacy  to provide a resolution to  the violence in Ukraine.

Placed in a historical context, Chomsky’s condemnation is disingenuous.  Macron’s idea for negotiations  was quickly suppressed by other NATO members. As above illustrated,  President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov had used every possible avenue and every opportunity to negotiate their urgent issues.

And the US and NATO have been on the warpath for decades and were clearly not going to be deterred this time. Biden had stated that he will allow no breaches of US supremacy: “it is not going to happen on my watch”.

China of course is the main enemy: in the words of Anthony Blinken “the most serious challenge to  the long-term US-led world order.” But Russia is a more proximate target. The Administration is fixated on re-election, and war is a time-honored way to gain popularity. Ukraine has many heart-rending human-interest facets. The facades of ancient ruined buildings, rustic villages with vagrant animals, children with soldiers, are a feast for the media and the armaments industry.

Nancy Pelosi  reassures President Zelensky that the US will support  Ukraine waging war “until victory”. Other Congress members speak of  persistence “until the last drop of Ukrainian blood”. More and more billions have happily been supplied,  by the US population, to destroy Ukraine. Lloyd Austin makes public the information that a US objective in this co-management of the Ukraine conflict is to “weaken Russia”, a concern which has little to do with the Ukraine, and nothing to do with saving lives. The flow of more and increasingly powerful weapons create a hydra spectacle  confronting the Russians: the more heads are severed, the more grow back.

More destruction, more death.

Our very liberal Representative Huffman urges “we can’t let them win!” in his weekly radio  interviews.

As well as being providers of weapons, we are active. US intelligence and weapons guidance were complicit in the murders of 12 Russian generals, and in the sinking of the Moskva, star ship of the Russian Navy.

President Biden  wrote on June 1st that “ If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions  it will send  message to other would-be aggressors…”

Of course, Russia has already paid a very heavy price, an especially cruel part of it being that it has destroyed part of itself, its soul, its history. But Biden’s  pronouncement is certainly a warning against crossing NATO or the US, and it is  similar to statements of purpose and objectives, made by  prosecutors at the Nuremberg tribunals.

The ICC is in Ukraine collecting evidence of war crimes. No evidence is needed to charge President Putin of waging a war of aggression. It is worthy of note, however, that the aggression of which the Nuremberg defendants were convicted occurred in the context of vastly different circumstances. They did not have to confront the mightiest military power the world has ever seen. None of their victims were remotely ready.

Ukraine was very ready. It was a set-up, and Putin lost his balance first.

The ICC is no doubt discovering facts about crimes against humanity and  crimes violating the laws of war. Much depends here on the integrity of the investigators, as  there is evidence that some of the alleged crimes were staged, or mistaken identities (mobile crematoriums, etc.)

The Nuremberg-formulated crime, the crime of conspiracy to commit a war of aggression, however, has to be laid at the feet of NATO and the US.  Only eight of the original 22 Nuremberg defendants were convicted of this charge. The judgment found that there was a premeditated conspiracy to  commit crimes against  peace, whose goals were “the disruption of the European order as it had existed since  the Treaty of Versailles”, later narrowed to “a conspiracy to wage  aggressive war”.

In the present case, the often-repeated claim that Russia’s aggression was unprovoked, is preposterous. The US assertions of its rights to dominance are substantiated by  an ample supply of statements such as

“We seek to network our efforts across domains, theaters, and spectrums of conflict to ensure that the US military, in close cooperation with the rest of the US government and our allies and partners, make the folly and costs of aggression very clear”- Kathleen H. Hicks, Assistant Secretary of Defense.

The  oppressive presence of this  bustling and officious dominance,  deliberately provocative, around the world, and  embodied in the  menacing line of military bases and missiles along Russia’s border, is a conspiracy, a threat, to commit the crime of aggressive war.

A cost citizens pay for this kind of totalitarian  assertiveness is also expressed in the Nuremberg judgment: “It was really the recoil of the Nazi blows at liberty that destroyed the Nazi regime. They struck down freedom of  speech and press and other freedoms which pass as ordinary  civil rights with us, so thoroughly that not  even  its highest officers dared to warn the people or the Fuehrer that they were taking the road to destruction. The Nuremberg trial has put the handwriting on the wall for the oppressor as well as for the oppressed to read.”

Indeed. Many active  and respected  commentators,  experts and  former members of the military have had their access  to media  outlets terminated, contracts broken, positions lost, because they have  not jumped on the bandwagon of war.

We must listen to all voices. Putin has  urgently proposed  a remodeled  security architecture,  rapid diminution of weapons,  and multipolarity  in decision-making, collectively designed under the auspices of the United Nations, to replace the current unipolar dominance of the planet. The consequences of such a transformation would be monumental and, if engineered wisely, extremely therapeutic. His ideas  might well improve our chances of survival as we are forced to face the climate, disease and ecological  catastrophes which may lie ahead.

Ellen Taylor can be reached at ellenetaylor@yahoo.com.

Is Indivisible The Invisible Hand Of The Ukraine War Thought Police?

Much of the narrative control in my area around the Ukraine war has been taken up by liberal Democrats, many affiliated with the so-called grassroots group Indivisible.

When I blogged about being the turd in the punchbowl at an alleged peace demonstration that was actually a pro-NATO, anti-Russia event in California I had not yet figured this out. I was just surprised to find myself at a rally for Ukrainian nationalism where people couldn’t figure out why I was carrying this sign:

A former ally in the mascot retirement battle took great issue with my stating that George Soros was the money behind the color revolutions movement in Europe. She accused me of antisemitism (I had not at the time realized that Soros was Jewish but I do now) and of consuming and sharing antisemitic tropes from the dregs of the right-wing internet (something I never do because I try to practice mental hygiene while still following the news of the day). At the time I removed Soros’ name due to her objections and because it was an aside in a post about the pressure to abandon anti-imperialist analysis of the war in Ukraine.

She was wrong. 

Soros is deeply involved in Ukraine present and past. 

This is clear now that I’ve had more time to read up on this aspect of the current war.

Indivisible is an organization with deep ties to the Open Society Foundations founded by Soros. It sprang up as a sort of Tea Party wannabe during the heyday of the demagogue with bad hair who became our 45th president. Indivisible is currently infiltrating and pushing aside peace organizations in Maine. Narrative control is their trademark and is accomplished sometimes by online shouting matches and sometimes by overwhelming numbers of Ukraine flag wavers at well-established vigils for peace.

I began to notice that the talking points of Indivisible members here in New England were curiously alike.

Not just the perjoratives routinely assigned to the Russian Federation’s president, but the recurring theme that dissenting voices have no right to speak up. And if they dare to speak up anyway, they are routinely accused of being aligned with Putin, or 45, or white supremacists, etc.

Then a friend mentioned that ads for an Indivisible leader in Maine who is running for District Attorney ended with rapid fine print narration that included funding from…Soros. I reached out to Jackie Sartoris’ campaign to ask if I had misheard this and got a prompt response from the campaign manager explaining that those are PAC ads and not within the control or purview of the candidate. Also that Indivisible Brunswick was a “grassroots” group operating independently of the national organization.

So I shared with the campaign manager some of what I’d found:

“Of Indivisible’s 2017 revenue, 35 percent was raised through small dollar donations, and 65 percent was received through major gifts and foundation grants.”

source: https://www.indivisibleannualreport.org/financials/

“Angel Padilla, Indivisible Project’s policy director, previously worked as an analyst with the National Immigration Law Center (an organization funded by grants from Soros’ Open Society Foundations).. “

source: https://indivisible.org/staff.

Today I had already decided to peek behind the curtain that obscures the workings of narrative management around the U.S./NATO proxy war with Russia in Ukraine only to discover that, by coincidence, I was suspended yesterday from posting in the VFP Discussion Group on Facebook. The group is run by moderators that might as well work for the Pentagon and they like to note that it’s a private group not affiiliated with VFP (odd choice for a name in that case). They decide what are acceptable and unacceptable news sources — with guidance from the same government that is silencing and shadow banning dissenters on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google search.

I wonder, does that fact that Veterans for Peace (VFP) national has been in dire financial straits the last couple of years have anything to do with shifts in narrative to defend U.S. government warmongering policies under a Democrat? Or to silence dissenters? It’s impossible to say for sure but these are questions worth asking. The Russia Working Group of VFP recently reported having a heated discussion that included a fellow calling various people “communists.” Research on Ben Schrader turned up his claim of a visiting professorship at Central European University, sometimes called “George Soros University” because it was created with an endowment from Soros and because, as board chair, he would confer diplomas.

Also sad is observing the Democracy Now! media organization become more and more aligned with the Democratic Party, probably due to accepting support from the Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, and the like. DN! touted the faux humanitarian White Helmets of Syria and has done some serious flag waving for Ukraine. Is it worth mentioning that DN! is strapped for cash, too?

Source: Caitlin Johnstone

A final note on the subject of narrative control: I see that the neo-Nazi Azov battalion that the U.S. taxpayer has been arming has revised its logo. Having the Buffalo mass shooter targeting Black grocery shoppers wear the same design as the background for the Azov logo was…inconvenient. So Azov removed it. 

I’ll bet they wish they could scrub the internet of evidence of past usage, but that would be difficult. Keep sharing!

Live By The AR-15, Die By The AR-15

Unarmed Black victims of police violence (may their families know peace), L-R from the top: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown
Image source: trauma doc Dr. Andre Campbell on Twitter

Live By The AR-15, Die By The AR-15

For AR-15 in that sentence, you could substitute drone, missile, or nuclear bomb.

That the U.S. leads the world in mass shootings, especially at schools, is a fact no one disputes. Regular people see a clear connection between a Pentagon budget that gobbles up more than half of annual expenditures by Congress. Regular people also see the pretense of elected officials who take millions in campaign contributions from weapons manufacturers and pro-weapon lobbying groups like the NRA and then tweet “thoughts and prayers” when the inevitable next mass shooting occurs.

Why then is social media is full of people blaming one of the two corporate parties for the massacre?

With the Ukraine war party in power right now controlling the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives why is our federal government still failing to enact gun control? Fund universal mental health care? Rescue from poverty the 20%+ children without housing or food security?

Who is falling for using the deaths of children to further the false dichotomy our corporate rulers think will deliver civil war (we’re well on our way) rather than the revolution we need?

Though I do support stringent gun control I don’t think that alone will reduce mass shootings. Other countries that are overrun with guns do not see 18 year olds cutting their own faces, shooting their own grandma, and then massacring little kids while local cops let them proceed. 

Did you know that in other countries, people with schizophrenia have auditory hallucinations that may be benign or even loving? In the U.S., people with schizophrenia hear voices urging them to violence.

Of course other nations weren’t built on genocide of indigenous people (not all nations, anyway) and enslavement of kidnapped laborers.

We are a traumatized nation. And trauma begets trauma. 

The vast majority of mass shooters are men, around 98%. Men and boys have no more access to guns and ammunition than women and girls do, so what’s the explanation?

It could be something most analysts overlook: adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

Back in 2019, researchers studied every mass school shooting from 1966-2018.  The vast majority of mass shooters in our study experienced early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age. The nature of their exposure included parental suicide, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and/or severe bullying,” wrote criminal justice professors Jillian Peterson and James Densley for the Los Angeles Times.

The ACEs questionnaire and scale were developed to quantify and name the cause that creates such devastating effects: high levels of stress are toxic for our nervous system as humans. If experienced in childhood, they can lead to actual changes in the structure and function of the brain. And researchers say the effects of stress on male brains is different.

Additionally, if high levels of stress lead to acting out behavior, this can often trigger additional stress as authority figures respond violently to the behavior. Ask any teacher if they’ve seen this in their school.

Forensic ACEs reveal that the vast majority of violent criminals have a high ACEs score. Poverty results in ACEs e.g. children experiencing eviction, hunger, or lack of medical care for themselves and their caregivers. Being targeted for one’s race or ethnic identity also raises the ACEs score.

Nearly 1 in 6 people in the U.S. reported four or more ACEs  as adults in a study by the CDC with Kaiser Permanente which found, “ACEs can have lasting, negative effects on health, well-being, as well as life opportunities such as education and job potential. These experiences can increase the risks of injury, sexually transmitted infections, maternal and child health problems (including teen pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and fetal death), involvement in sex trafficking, and a wide range of chronic diseases and leading causes of death such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and suicide.”

One a national level, our ACEs are through the roof. Using nuclear bombs on Japan after letting the Holocaust proceed, producing a zillion big budget films glorifying this and other violence, police murdering Black, brown, and indigenous people with impunity, illegal invasions that killed millions and which the pepetrators later laugh about in public…

I could go on but it would fill volumes.

Live by the sword, die by the sword is an old idea found in the New Testament (an account of radical truth-telling in the face of the brutal occupation of Palestine by the Roman Empire). One translation reads “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

The U.S. Empire has some very bad karma. And it’s breaking our hearts that children pay the price.

But as long as violent patriarchy is the organizing principle of our culture, nothing will change.

Bank Says Remove Women’s History Panel, Arts Council Says All Or Nothing & Replaces Mural

Detail of Gordon Carlisle mural – Image source: screenshot from video of the installation shared below

The controversy over removing a labor history mural because it was demanded by Skowhegan Savings Bank doesn’t involve me personally, but I care about it for many reasons. 

It’s partly because I’m working on a novel about the sexual exploitation of girls in poverty. The offending panel of a triptych that the bank originally asked be removed depicts young women mill workers on strike in 1907, an historic event in that it was the first successful strike of the IWW, Industrial Workers of the World. The catalyst? Sexual assault by a boss on 17 year old Mamie Bilodeau, followed by retaliation for reporting. A union organizer, Bilodeau was fired but in the end got her job back along with a raise and provisions for a union-elected grievance committee.

With union organizing enjoying a surge right now, I would have loved for the young fast food and convenience store workers in my area to see an example of their great-great-great (-great?) grandmothers standing up for their rights by withholding their labor. (Full disclosure: I was a union organizer for teachers.) 

And, with the right to be free of sexual harrassment in the workplace top of mind right now, a victory in this regard is worth depicting. Sexual assault survivors often suffer in silence for fear of retaliation. I think they deserve to know about Mamie Bilodeau and the power of collective action.

Why would the bank that guards the wealth of old Skowhegan feel threatened by that?

Another reason I care is that I was a history major and taught history in public schools. I also taught the bill of rights with its 1st Amendment protecting speech and a free press. Since none of the corporate news outlets who carry advertising for the bank cared to cover the controversy, I’m doing so here. (RIP, D.H.) Cue the chorus: “The bank owns the building, they can suppress all the speech they want.” It’s true that money buys access to speech under late stage capitalism. But that’s not a good thing and, predictably, has brought us to the point where we only have the best “free” speech money can buy.

Mural as originally installed. Image source: AFL-CIO newsletter article by Andy O’Brien

Another reason I care is my deep and abiding love of art. Gordon Carlisle’s mural was aesthetically excellent. He has a national reputation as an accomplished muralist with good reason. 

Carlisle’s mural was designed for the site, painted to be seen by thousands of passing motorists heading south on Route 201, the major highway in central Maine. The artist and the sponsoring organization, the Wesserunsett Arts Council, were originally asked to remove only the panel with the women on it. That bank managers are philistines who think removing one panel from a triptych is a “solution” doesn’t surprise me in the least. Kudos to WesArts and Carlisle for refusing to do that.

The replacement mural by Iver Lofving on the bank’s highly visible wall also depicts the IWW strike, but only in the sense that a Where’s Waldo? book depicts Waldo: it’s there, but you’re really going to have to look closely to find it. Lovfing has said that he’s disappointed his mural won’t be installed on a side street park with a deck so people can examine it up close. He also wote, “I said that they’re replacing a nationally famous muralist with an unknown artist.”

Public art often gets people upset, especially when it includes political content. 

Image source: Museo Frida Kahlo

Diego Rivera famously refused to remove parts of his frescoed mural in the Rockefeller Center in 1937, and the patrons had the whole mural destroyed. 

A former governor of Maine who term limited out and is now running again made headlines nationally in 2011 when he removed and hid a history mural from the labor department’s offices because he claimed that business owners found it offensive. 

Judy Taylor labor mural – Image source: Redtree
Detail, Judy Taylor mural – Image source: Yankee Magazine

That story has a happier ending in that Taylor’s mural is now displayed in the foyer of the building that houses the state library, archives, and museum. I was happy to see school children on a field trip viewing it there with their teachers.

Image source: Maine Public

Fact is, the wooden Bernard Langlois sculpture referred to in Skowhegan as “the big Indian” has long been controversial, and Penobscot Nation members I know would love to see it removed. The statue figured prominently in the controversy over changing the last Native-themed school mascot for sports teams as it served as a rallying point for those who objected to the change. They received national news coverage for holding an event there on what used to be the holiday honoring the genocidal maniac from Europe who ushered in colonialism on this continent. A partial happy ending: Maine now celebrates Indigenous People’s Day, and the school teams are the Riverhawks — while the statue remains.

Those interested in seeing all the murals commissioned by the Wesserunsett Arts Council can attend the opening ceremony in Skowhegan on June 4. 

Image source: Wesserunsett Arts Council

Azov Neo-Nazi Symbol On Armor Worn By White Mass Murderer Of Black Elders In Buffalo

At least ten Black people were killed and several more were injured by an 18 year old white supremacist who traveled to Buffalo, New York to shoot up a grocery store in a predominately Black zip code. Many of the victims were elders known for supporting the needs of their communities.

The image above on the left is allegedly the home page of Buffalo shooter displaying “black sun” logo which can also be seen as background on a patch worn by uniformed Azov Batallion neo-Nazis in Ukraine today. You can see it here on a Ukranian magazine called “Black Sun” from 2015.

Source: Global Thinker on Twitter

It’s the same symbol used by the mosque shooter who shot up Muslim congregations killing 50+ in Christchurch, New Zealand three years ago, displayed on his manifesto and backpack (see left image below).

Source: Fake Believe on Twitter

Why would it matter what designs or logos mass shooters use when targeting Black or Muslim people? 

The “black sun” logo links directly to a powerful far-right militia being armed as part of the billions from U.S. taxpayers flowing to Ukraine.

Provision in the obscene military spending bills was not made for keeping money out of the hands of far-right militias that the Ukranian government is allied with and uses for military projection. An amendment with that provision was defeated in the U.S. Congress, a body which primarily represents weapons manufacturers at this point in history. 

As we gallop toward the risks of a nuclear WW3 by waging proxy war on Russia via Ukraine. many who get their information from mainstream, lockstep media ask: But how could President Zelensky, who is of Jewish ancestry, be allied with Nazis?

Maybe, like the rest of us, Zelensky just wants to live another day.

War On Palestine Requires War On Truth, Death To Journalists

Women in Jordan mourn Shireen Abu Akleh  photo source: Haaretz

With sadness I awoke to the news that Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head by Israeli forces (IDF) in the West Bank region of occupied Palestine. 

The journalist was wearing body armor with PRESS in bold letters on her flak vest; presumably a sniper aimed for her head?

Here’s the last known photo of Abu Akleh, doing her job:

Photo source: Arwa Ibrahim on Twitter

Israel has been violently evicting families in the West Bank while bombing Gaza and Damascus in recent days. Abu Akleh was covering an IDF raid on the Jenin refugee camp when she was murdered.

Rapper Lowkey took the Associated Press to task in a tweet about their reporting of the incident.

All the terror is not on one side. For the second Ramadan in a row the IDF targetted worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, wounding some and arresting others, while Palestinians repelled IDF soldiers by throwing rocks and petrol bombs. And an unusual event inside Israel this week resulted in three deaths by stabbing in a knife and ax attack near Tel Aviv. The two assailants were believed to be Palestinian young men from Jenin.

Also hard to see as coincidental was an act of terrorism (i.e. instilling fear) on a flight from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport where passengers were sent photos of various airline crashes while waiting to fly to Turkey. Twitter eerily reported these two news events consecutively in their “What’s Happening” section this morning.

A search of the Committee to Protect Journalists database revealed 17 other journalists killed by the IDF in either occupied Palestine or Israel itself:

War on journalists is not new but has ramped up in recent years especially as the poster boy for press freedom, Julian Assange, languishes in Belmarsh Prison awaiting word of his possible extradition to the U.S. to be charged as a spy. Assange is an Australian citizen whose wikileaks website published evidence of U.S. and Israeli war crimes, and he has been publicly tortured for practicing journalism in the years since.

RIP Shireen Abu Akleh and all who dare to report truth amid the fog of wars.

What Goes Around Comes Around: Whipping Progressive Warmongering 2.0

President Obama, VP Biden, & Hunter Biden in 2014, the year Ukraine’s elected government was toppled by a CIA-sponsored coup and Hunter got a lucrative job in the Ukranian energy sector. Image source: Getty Images via DK.com

There are many roots apparent in weaponizing Ukraine as a cat’s paw to fight Russia.

The most significant but least visible is the goal of weakening China’s ally before proceeding to attack them. One of the more visible roots is that our current president was VP during the Obama years when wars became ok with liberals because they were promoted by a handsome, articulate Black man. 

Image source:  Shutterstock via Institute for Policy Studies

The culture wars we have are meant to replace the revolution we need. 

We are led to believe there is a fundamental difference between wars waged by Democrats vs. wars waged by Republicans. There isn’t, because their corporate sponsors in the weapons industry are the exactly the same and because many in Congress own stock in those corporations. So while Ukranians die, they profit.

My good friend Bruce Gagnon stumbled on an old report back from a “progressive” phone call designed to whip up support for Obama’s surge in Afghanistan. It is of interest primarily because the mechanisms of manufacturing consent are so visible. I’m reposting it here so we have it handy as we reflect on why the U.S. government is galloping toward WW3 and possible nuclear confrontation while suspending women’s reproductive rights, presiding over crushing inflation and runaway climate change, failing to deliver