Category Archives: Economic Warfare

Venezuela and Iran in the Crosshairs of Murderers Inc.

Imagine just for a moment, the World would stand up in unison, sick and tired of the aggressive killer arrogance of the United States and her vassals – and their joint war-force called NATO – and this World, our World, what’s left of it when you deduct Washington and its Brussels allies, would at once block every shipment of everything destined for the ports of the United States of America; every sea port, airport and road port. Hermetically. Nothing would enter. Nothing, no food, no medicine, no electronics, no cars – no nothing. And nothing could leave. No exports, no petrol, no grains, no meat, no pharmaceuticals and foremost, no weapons. Nothing.

And now, take your mind a step further – and imagine the same – exactly the same, a total and full blockage of Israel – nothing would enter, no food, no fuel, no medication, no machinery and especially no weapons – and nothing would leave; a full and total blockage.

This would, of course, be totally illegal; illegal and unacceptable, by any international law, by the standards of the UN Charter, by the Human Rights Laws and Directives, by any ethical values of human morals. Wouldn’t it?  Yet, this is exactly what these countries are doing, have been doing for decades, sanctioning to strangle and murder entire populations into death or submission. The US with Cuba; Israel with Palestine. And the coercion and strangulation go on, unabated.

The longest embargo — illegal, inhuman and outright criminal — Washington imposed on Cuba 60 years. Because Cuba has chosen socialism as her form of state and government. Cuba survived and will never give in to the tyrant of the north.

Now the US is expanding her palette of killing by impunity to dominate and subjugate nation after nation which they do not consider bending sufficiently to the dictate of their masters. Venezuela has been targeted for two decades, ever since former President Hugo Chavez was democratically elected in 1998; and Iran, ever since the US-imposed Shah was deposed in 1979, exactly 40 years ago by Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Both Venezuela and Iran are rich in natural resources, especially hydrocarbons but also in gold, rare earths and other precious metals and stones.

Contrary to what one would like to imagine, international world bodies, like the United Nations and her sister and associated organizations remain just about silent. When a high-level official utters some benign criticism of the US or Israel it flairs up for a moment in the ‘news’, then it disappears again, as if it never happened. And indeed, nothing happens. They – the US and Israel – go on with their crimes in impunity.

The latest is an open declaration of economic warfare by Washington, a total embargo on Venezuela; the embargo is now being turned into a naval blockade. Similar steps are to be taken for Iran. That literally means that no merchandise, no matter how vital for survival, like food and medication, is allowed into Venezuela. Three days ago, the US seized, totally illegally, a cargo ship attempting to deliver food and medication to Venezuela in the Panama Canal, territory which the US does not own or control anymore.

The ship was carrying soy cakes, from which Venezuela was to produce food. Never mind, that the cargoes are fully paid for by Venezuela. And this seems to be just the beginning. Vessels leaving Venezuela with petrol deliveries to client countries are also targeted for blockage, thus confiscating, or rather stealing, Venezuela’s main source of income on which she intends to survive and feed and provide health care for her people. This, in addition to the more than 130 billion dollars total Venezuelan assets confiscated – stolen – by the US worldwide.

And nobody says beep. Almost. Yes, there are some collective protests by countries in solidarity – like key members of the Sao Paulo Forum, as well as more than 60 members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM – total 120 members) that have become especially active in recent years in defense of Venezuela within the United Nations. Protests and protest declarations also take place by ALBA members, a Latin American trade alliance (ALBA — Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America — (11 members: Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica, Ecuador, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Grenada and the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis).

But most interesting are the hypocrites, those who write and scream that Venezuelans are starving to death, that the Maduro government neglects its people, yet these accusers-in-falsehood, let the US and her vassals strangle Venezuela and steal her foreign assets, including foreign reserves and gold, food and medical imports, they are saying zilch, nada, nothing. Just watching.

To top it all off, the Human Rights Commissioner, Madame Michelle Bachelet, Hypocrite-in-chief, who recently visited Venezuela, at the invitation of President Nicolas Maduro, on a Human Rights mission, and who delivered a devastating report about Venezuela’s HR, full of lies, half-truths and outright omissions, not mentioning with one word the US inspired coup attempts, the US-funded opposition and its bloody atrocities perpetrated on the Chavista population, and the strangulating and starving by the US and US-dictated European sanctions, Madame Bachelet now came forward condemning the naval blockade. Great. But she did not stand up against the deadly embargo by the US and the European Union.  What credibility remains for the Human Rights Commission?  The world can see it.  It’s all bought, coerced into submission, like so many other UN agencies by the Murderers Inc.

If we are not careful, they are soon going to rule the globe. Thanks god, for Russia and China, which are also subjects of US-EU sanctioning and targeted for take-over. But they are a tiny little bit too big and too strong for this sort of games by the decaying US empire and her obedient rats on the sinking ship.

Similarly, the European Union, despots as they have been for hundreds of years as colonialists in Africa, Asia and Latin America – and continue in a modern colonial role through economic control of much of Africa, this very EU has been sanctioning Venezuela for years on the orders of Washington, naturally, who else?  Now they condemn the naval blockade, but continue their routine sanctions regime.

According to a study carried out by the Washington DC based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), under guidance of Mark Weisbrot, CEPR co-director and Jeffrey Sachs, economics professor, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, New York, US and EU sanctions have cost some 40,000 Venezuelan lives. This mainly since August 2017, when Washington escalated its unilateral coercive measures against Venezuela and her state oil company, PDVSA, cutting them off international financial markets.

Yes, the world would have plenty of reasons to stand up and dish out similar naval and air blockades against the US and Israel. Just as a teaser to begin with, and if that doesn’t send a strong enough wake-up message, perhaps such embargoes should be considered on a longer-term indefinite scale. It’s illegal. But we are living in a world where international laws don’t count, where laws are made, as we go, by the self-declared hegemon, the US of A, and her symbiotic Middle East ally, Israel. So, why not nudge the legal, moral and ethical order back into balance?

Gender Neutral Pronouns While Nukes Go Unregulated

Charlie Hill, Oneida-Mohawk-Cree: “A Redneck told me to go back where I came from, so I put a tipi in his backyard.”

What exactly is the size and shape and breadth of that infamous straw that broke the camel’s back? One thousand more African-American youth murdered by cops this year in US of A? One million more people this year leaving homelands because of climate change? One billion more people making less than $2 a day? Flotilla of icebergs floating down the Baja coast? Epstein-Trump-Clinton-Woody Allen on tape raping boys and girls?

See the source image

Yet, well, how many toxins, how many chemicals, how much sewage in freshwater and how many oil spills on beaches, and how much radioactivity, and how many EMF’s will it take for that camel’s back to crack? Oh, those great white men and women telling you how many cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, DNA-morphing, chronic illness-producing poisons should be allowed on the corn flakes and potato chips! Read on:

*Health harms

Human exposure to atrazine is linked to a number of serious health effects. A potent endocrine disrupter, atrazine interferes with hormonal activity of animals and humans at extremely low doses.

Endocrine Disruption: The science on atrazine’s effects on the hormone system continues to grow. It alters the levels of key hormones in rats and can delay puberty. In male frogs, exposure to atrazine causes a kind of “chemical castration,” causing them to develop female sex characteristics. Researchers hypothesize that atrazine signals the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, demasculinizing the frogs.

Reproductive Effects: Because atrazine disrupts hormones, it’s not surprising that epidemiological studies find associations between exposure to the herbicide and reproductive effects including increased risk of miscarriage, reduced male fertility, low birth weight, increased chance of any birth defect, and higher incidence of abdominal defects;

Cancer: Evidence for the carcinogenic potential of atrazine is growing — exposure has been linked to elevated risk of breast and prostate cancer. The recent President’s Cancel Panel Report notes that atrazine has possible carcinogenic properties. In response to concerns, U.S. EPA is currently re-evaluating atrazine’s carcinogenic potential.

[or….]

See the source image

Scientist Dr. Emily Marquez, who spoke at the DARTIC hearing in Sacramento, said this:

The committee made the right decision in light of the scientific evidence. Chlorpyrifos is neurotoxic and the Prop 65 listing affirms what scientists, doctors and communities have been saying for years – children’s developing brains are incredibly vulnerable to low amounts of the chemical during critical windows of development. State regulators should follow today’s decision by finally taking this chemical off the market.

15 years later . . .
It’s not new news that chlorpyrifos harms brains, particularly children’s developing brains. Research showing this was the impetus behind banning the chemical from home use more than 15 years ago. But progress on getting this chemical out of agricultural fields, and off of food crops, has been slow thanks in large part to the focused attention of its manufacturer, Dow Chemical.

On the national stage, Dow’s influence was made clear earlier this year when, after closed door meetings with the company’s CEO, newly appointed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made the surprising announcement that he wasn’t going ban the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops — as the agency had previously announced it would do based on its own scientific analysis.

I was on the radio yesterday, SOS Spokane with KYRS-FM, my old radio station when I had an hour show, Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge, a weekly public affairs show where I had all sorts of guest on, a veritable list of greats (a few so-so’s) both local and national. Winona LaDuke, Bill McKibbeon, David Suzuki, Naomi Wolf, Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Jeremy Scahill, and so many more whose names are not household names, but amazing authors and scientists and literary types — James Howard Kunstler, Novella Carpenter, Richard Heinberg, Richard Wrangham, Tim Flannery, so-so many more!

It was a look back (and forward) on my 10 years in Spokane organizing, writing columns, doing special reports for magazines and newspapers, teaching college, and more-more, including another graduate degree (urban planning), helping raise a child, literary and non-literary publishing, and environmental organizing. A fellow named Paul Potocky hosts it, and  it was both fun and frustrating to be back on the air.

Big issues, like, how do we fix our education system, how to fix the mush and propaganda of Media, how to deal with cities like Spokane spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on paid shills/people rallying the rest of the country to move to the town (how many other big and small communities do the same?), how to get lefties off their asses and to quit griping over other lefties’ nuanced beliefs, climate change, etc.

Here’s my beef — Paul is an old lefty, and he’s retired, and he is in a community within a community — left-leaners but people who will never ever criticize the powers that be or the town itself. In the end, the new black is green or social services or legal aid, or what have you. People in the left-leaning arena are not willing to go full blast on criticizing America, the white supremacist threads of heavy gauge wire binding the minds of the left-leaners. They are not there to put stops on growth, to really look deeply at the embedded capitalists in the colleges that are part of Spokane, and the rah-rah small town folk but mean as cuss people who love a good Trump sexist, racist, wacko Christian joke. Spokane wants growth, Spokane wants a fulfillment (sic — a devil’s den) center from head Devil, Jeff “Amazon-Monopoly-and-Slaver” Bezos, and Spokane wants more roads, no public transportation. Spokane has a drug, depression, drop-out, decaying neighborhoods, dragging intellect problem, and the city wants to forget about the dispossessed, the near-homeless, and aging, chronically ill peeps.

When you go to a county or city meeting, the people that are the movers and shakers are developers, builders, and a few in various city-county departments. The town, like many towns, is non-responsive to we the people, but rather, we the money bags.

The very idea of “fixing things” means getting rid of things, stopping this digitalization of everything, this new disruptive and demeaning economies of scale, economies of hate, economies of monopolizing pigs who run the show. Paul and I quibbled over the media, or really, the Press. I posit that we need small rags back, more neighborhood and community broadsheets and newsletters and monthlies and weeklies — grassroots — on the streets. We need more readers. He thinks that since the cat is out of the bag, that there is no going back to a newspaper-newsprint hard copy time.

I disagree, and now is the time to teach young people how to resurrect mimeographs and typesetting, cold or hot. Time to have groups go after all levels of bad government and worse than bad business and those chamber of commerce felons.

Imagine, ten thousand or more people hitting the streets of a town like Spokane. Snap-snap-snap of maleficence, and more and more prying into the problems facing its citizens, with no salvation or solutions coming from the top, the ones who love those trendy Portlandesque bars and food emporiums and bad ass cafes.

There is no rabid, frothing, scabies-infested cat out of the bag we can’t stuff back in and gas back into euthanasia heaven.

We could say that, well, now that the cat is out of the bag in PK12 education — the common “killing” core/standardized testing brought to us by Gates-Pearson-Eli Brand — there’s no turning back. Or, now that we are completely surveilled and our lives dictated by a few chosen people vis-a-vis their schemes of anti-democratic info-biometric-history-DNA collecting, there’s no putting that black plague infected cat back in the bag. Same with all the toxins being foisted on us all, daily, and all the illegal wars not-in-our-name; all the illegal financial-real estate-insurance fraud, those distemper filled cats are out of the bag, so why attempt to change those systems of penury and structural violence? Universities that are colonized by the Koch Brothers and Fortune 1000 Companies of Fraud, well, those leukemia-finished cats are also out of the bag, so also give up?

Nope — Zapata: I would rather die on my feet than to live on my knees.

In fact, the foundation to any revolution and radical (root) change in this un-Democracy is more robust discourse, discussion, and coverage — by local entities, by local various forms of media!

This chipping away at America, or putting in better wires and cloud servers just to say new is new and better is in the mind’s eye, just allows the oppressors to do their dirty deeds quicker, more pervasively, and with a Nazi’s efficiency and Eichmann cold heart and Goebbels collective double- and triple-tap to the human brain and eco-landscape to completely confuse the population.

My thesis is to have these conversations many many more times, daily, and with more radically truthful concepts, with gusto, no holds barred, and to ram the facts down their throats — both sides of the manure pit called US Politics-Law Making-Legislative Governing.

Every single hour, now, I receive emails and texts from friends who are becoming more and more fatigued — as in Stockholm syndrome or abusive-battered spouse syndrome —  with not just the deplorable stories and vapidity of the press reporting (stenographing) on the people running the country, running the corporations, or those in the throw-a-trillion-dollars-at-their-talentless celebrity culture, or those rally goers with their chronic illnesses and vicious Christian ideology of hate thy neighbor, BUT absolutely drained with the entire project that they believe was a possibly decent American way of life in some mythical golden period of prosperity (for the rich, the white), as in post-WWII? That magical time when all things were in place —  all the bells and whistles, all the “Kum ba yah” (African spiritual song of slaves, meaning, come by here), and two cars in every driveway and smart, adorable, handsome/beautiful offspring with prominent college degrees and a trajectory that might be the envy of a Chelsea or Ivanka.

Truly, the amount of information that floods our corpuscles and demands dendrites and synapses to fire simultaneously while also filtering out the reality that this country has ALWAYS been warped and bad hombre-like puts most average people into a tailspin: spiritual, guilt-laden, fearful, hypocritical and circling the wagons kind of multivariate predicament.

Not acknowledging the U.S. as a white supremacist settler-state translates into a fundamental error.

I am sorry, but there are more white nationalists in the U.S. than folks want to admit. Not acknowledging the U.S. as a white supremacist settler-state translates into a fundamental error. AOC along with other liberals and most of the Eurocentric left are not calling for a break in the history of the U.S. state. They are not calling for authentic de-colonization. By not doing so, they are embracing the perspective of the invader.

Really, what is this “America” that the squad loves and claim to be a part of? AOC’s family is from the colony of Puerto Rico. Tlaib’s America is probably the most Islamophobic country on the planet. Omar’s native land of Somalia became one of the first of the so-called “failed states,” those states where U.S. and Western imperialism plunders and then pretends that the state failed as a result of its internal weaknesses. Pressley, as an African American, is part of a captive population subjected to 243 years of enslavement, 100 years of post-slavery apartheid, and 54 years of benign neglect.

These are the practices and policies of a state and society committed to upholding white colonial/capitalist power. The squad must understand that if one’s people are part of the working class and nationally oppressed, you don’t beg to become part of that de-humanizing and degrading machine. You don’t call for integration or for the recognition of your rights, which is not going to happen. No! You fight and struggle for your inherent dignity, understanding that human rights are not going to be granted by the oppressor.They have to be won through ferocious struggle.

Ajamu Baraka, national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace

More people in the USA, according to the “pollsters” like Gallup, say they want to leave than even under Obama or Bush, and their number one choice? Again, so American of them, so elitist and exceptionally ignorant of them, but it makes sense these Yankee Doodle Dandy defectors hands down see the white land to the north, Canada, somehow is in their sights as the number one choice from where to skedaddle. As if Oh Canada is this gilded, vaunted place of harmony, endless socialized this and that, and non-bigoted, pro-woman, highly respectful people! Just read the pages of Dissident Voice by putting “Canada” into the search box and you will get a virtual house of horrors/whores list of the not-so-good, bad and ugly of that land of my mother’s birth!

But, truly, so many friends have known the CIA-WTO-Skulls&Bones-MilitaryIndustrialComplex-Fortune500 fix has been in for decades; some, however, go back to this “union’s” roots and realize that the foundation of this country (forget that there were hundreds of First Nations here) —  invaded by undocumented Puritans, illegal aliens the lot of them: thieves, slave- traders, rum-runners, suckah-born-every-minute — is/was/continues to be based on land theft, raping women, enslaving women, children, men, robbing granny blind, flimflamming, scamming and bilking, polluting, lying, marketing, stealing the public coffers.

Even with this knowledge — sort of like knowing a vote for the Democrats is the same as a vote for the Republicans — one is not so steeled from succumbing to a type of despair and fatigue and paralysis even if you knew the jig was up two centuries ago. The younger ones are skeptical and so jaded — cynical — they have little push toward any sort of reckoning for the kings of this rape-thy-neighbor culture. They put noses down and push through this rotting capitalist culture, hoping that something really bad happens collectively, regionally and nationally (heat waves, tornado’s, hurricanes, earthquakes, plagues, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, viral outbreaks, war, invasions) to wipe the slate clean, so to speak. Cynics, man, cynics. Then, the older people are shaking fists at Trump, forgetting to mind their P’s and Q’s, forgetting recent and old history. Trump is Obama is Bush is Clinton is Reagan is Carter is Ford is Nixon is Kennedy . . . . and so on. Trump a racist? Open racist, for sure, in the same bad hombre company —  Jackson, Fillmore, Buchanan, A. Johnson, Wilson, Nixon. We have to really watch those politicians and presidents who are never openly racist or misogynistic — like Willy Clinton and Joey Biden!

Oh those good old days in the 20th Century:

Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List by William Blum

Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government)

China 1949 to early 1960s
Albania 1949-53
East Germany 1950s
Iran 1953 *
Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s
Syria 1956-7
Egypt 1957
Indonesia 1957-8
British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 *
North Vietnam 1945-73
Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 *
France 1965
Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 *
Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *
Indonesia 1965 *
Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 *
Greece 1967 *
Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 *
Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s
Zaire 1975
Portugal 1974-76 *
Jamaica 1976-80 *
Seychelles 1979-81
Chad 1981-82 *
Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84
Suriname 1982-84
Fiji 1987 *
Libya 1980s
Nicaragua 1981-90 *
Panama 1989 *
Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 *
Iraq 1991
Afghanistan 1980s *
Somalia 1993
Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 *
Venezuela 2002 *
Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 *
Somalia 2007 to present
Honduras 2009 *
Libya 2011 *
Syria 2012
Ukraine 2014 *

Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

So, yeah, these are rough times, but what point in history do we see the good times rolling for the majority of people on planet earth? How were those wars waged from time immemorial? All-volunteer and well-treated armies of the Roman Empire, Alexander’s? How were those cities and pyramids built? Union jobs? How were those lands acquired, plots laid out, cattle drives perpetrated? Who got to “have” Canada or “have” Australia? Whose Hawaii is it?

I know, I know, it’s tough actually living in and fighting within and struggling inside because of everything this society stands for when it comes to all those self-delusions. I know, one out of four Americans say they will never retire . . . just work themselves to the grave or hospital gurney or care facility (streets). I know, there are a million jobs — professions — that are not worthy of the print their descriptions are printed upon, yet we continue to let the chosen few determine the futures of young and old with their a suckah (mark, fool, patsy, money-train, fall-guy/gal) is born every nano-second schemes.

The world burns, the crops desiccate, the water dries up, the diseases are spreading, the neo-natal units are busting at the seams, infrastructure’s collapsing, minimum wage blocked ($7 and change man, in 2019 — yep, we are a failed and failing and falling down nation), housing and rentals costs sky-rocketing, debt increasing, mental duress and illness burgeoning, the few gaining more and more by stealing from the many, more toxins and nuclear particles streaming into our daily lives, and yet, we now no longer can have printed on sewer and stormwater plates — manhole. It’s a they-hole, or them-hole, maybe a shit-hole cover.

See the source image

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Berkeley, California, has adopted an ordinance to replace some terms with gender-neutral words in the city code.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Wednesday that “she” and “he” will be replaced by “they.” The words “manpower” and “manhole” will become “workforce” and “maintenance hole.”

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed the measure to replace more than two dozen commonly used terms. There will be no more “craftsmen” in city code, only “craftspeople” or “artisans.”

Berkeley has a long history of leading on politically and socially liberal issues.

The sponsor of the ordinance is councilman Rigel Robinson, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. He says his time in college expanded his awareness of gender issues.

Robinson says critics suggested the council spend time on more important matters.

We talk about these prescient and emblematic moments in this essay forum I deploy to stave off my own insanity and the likelihood of going postal. You know, one vote here by the prostitutes of politics, or one headline or story there crafted by the presstitutes, or this or that “scientific” claim/report promulgated by this or that biostute (biologist bought, paid for and wrapped up by The Industry). It is more than just a Mad Mad Mad World, where I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore people running around.

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. (shouting) You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’

I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’

— Peter Finch in the 1976 movie, Network, playing newscaster, Howard Beale!

I am staving off that Howard Beale moment by putting into perspective everyone’s insanity and my own slippage here. That spillage is my own frustration trying to help guide others who are seeking justice, balance, perspective and answers to “how the hell did we get to this place” and “why have I failed my children and my children’s children’s children’s futures. Indeed, even making a few shekels out here on the coast for a column I pitched (and I got) Deep Dive with Paul Haeder, I get to interview people I want to get to know and learn about; some of them are powerhouses, these individuals who in a lifetime make people who have become so cynical and rotten in their lack of push forward and against the powers that be really pause.

Carol Van Strum, captured here — A real-life Toxic Avenger

Carol Van Strum

Early in her book, A Bitter Fog:

A Bitter Fog

“Where the road skirted the riverbank, overhanging shore and water, they directed their hoses into the water, inadvertently spraying the four children fishing down below. The truck moved on, leaving the children gasping in a wet mist that clung to their skin and clothing. With smarting skin, tearing eyes, burning mouths, throats and noses, they stumbled home. By nightfall, all four were sick.”

Fighting against Dow, against the Forest Service, against the Timber Companies, against the OSU biologists, against the media/Press, against the powers that be, and against ignorance. Monsanto and 2,4,5-D, that fine ingredient as one baseline poison that made  Agent Orange another gift that keeps on giving. She lost four children in a fire in their cabin, and Carol was not afraid to point to the FBI, the thugs of the herbicide companies, or the timber companies. And she keeps going, man.

Vietnamese Girl Writes With Foot

Project 1 C

Spraying Agent Orange Ranch Hand

Vietnamese Before Billboard

Carol Van Strum in my interview: All the legal wranglings have reinforced my chronic intolerance of lies. Ditto the never-ending battle against poisons — that is an industry that could not exist without lying about its products; therefore, it should not exist.

One person can’t save the world, or even see the other side of it. When I was four years old, I set out to see the world — thinking it was a special place like the World’s Fair with carousels and Ferris wheels. After the cops found me asleep in a pile of leaves by the street, my mom asked why I had run away. I told her I didn’t run, I walked, because I wanted to see the world, and she laughed and said, ‘It’s been right here all the time — the world begins at home.’ Lessons you never forget. I can’t save the world but I’ll fight tooth and nail to save this little corner of it.

So, my fine people, friends, aging folk who are going to more and more memorials, or visiting the cancer wards and Alzheimer’s facilities; those people who can’t understand this America, the one We Have Always Had America, I love you for the work you attempt.

I know people like me stir the pot and wack the hornets’ nest. I understand that in a world of spitting, cursing, lying, shooting, imprisoning, raping, stealing, a guy like me opening yet more floodgates on how much we are cooked climate-wise, civil liberties-wise, sanity-wise might be too too much. For that, I hope I do not push anyone over anyone’s edge point. You can do that all on your own, or not!

We can’t go back to some mythical time, but we can put all those polluting, infecting, scratching and biting cats back in the bag, man.  The market knows best, and below, Chomsky’s quote,  just replace “fossil fuel extraction” with any of the following — coal, mining, medical malpractice, banking, computer engineering, chemical making, big pharma, real estate, stock market, artificial intelligence, big ag, big anything, big retail, big guns, big nukes, big energy, big marketing, big ed, big prisons, big fat planned and perceived obsolescence manufacturing-marketing-retailing-delivering (think Amazon).

The logic of the capitalist market rules — what Joseph Stiglitz 25 years ago called the “religion” that markets know best. The same reasoning extends beyond, for example to the major banks that are pouring funds into fossil fuel extraction, including the most dangerous, like Canadian tar sands, surely in full awareness of the consequences.

CEOs face a choice: They can seek to maximize profit and market share, and (consciously) labor to undermine the prospects for life on earth; or they can refuse to do so, and be removed and replaced by someone who will. The problems are not just individual; they are institutional, hence much deeper and harder to overcome.

There is no need to review record of interventions, subversion and violence, particularly since World War II, which established the U.S. in a position of global dominance with no historical precedent. The record includes the worst crime of the postwar period, the assault on Indochina, and the worst crime of this millennium, the invasion of Iraq.

Like most terms of political discourse, “imperialism” is a contested notion. Whatever term we want to use, the U.S. is alone in having hundreds of military bases and troops operating over much of the world. It is also unique in its willingness and ability to impose brutal sanctions designed to punish the people of states designated as enemies. And its market power and dominance of the international financial system provide these sanctions with extraterritorial reach, compelling even powerful states to join in, however unwillingly.

Noam Chomsky: “Worship of Markets” Is Threatening Human Civilization

The New Politics of Starvation

President Donald Trump’s use of the most vicious aspects of economic warfare prompt another examination of the politics of starvation.

After George W. Bush’s administration, Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump lessened Bush’s aggressive war policies and leaned to economic warfare. Sounds harmless when compared to exploding bombs, but it is not — economic warfare can crush an adversary without firing a shot. Gone to its extreme, economic warfare has the force of a neutron bomb; it disables the nation’s infrastructure and debilitates its population. Isolation from the international financial system, material embargos, and other sanctions reduce living standards and bring populations close to starvation The most serious aspects of economic warfare are major crimes and a form of terrorism.

Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Iraq endured the most punishing sanctions from the United States. Results of sanctions against these countries, models for the effects of sanctions, show that sanctions have rarely accomplished their stated purposes and their intentions may be for other reasons — stalling economic progress, weakening challenges to antagonistic actions, advancing dominance, and promoting regime change.

Iran

Disturbed with the rule of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and infuriated by the hostage taking of 52 of U.S. embassy personnel by extreme Islamic students and militants, President Jimmy Carter froze several billions of dollars in Iranian bank deposits, gold and other properties, and followed with a 1980 embargo on trade with and travel to Iran. These punitive actions accomplished nothing for the United States, strengthened the Ayatollah’s Authority and hardened the student demands for releasing the captured embassy officials.

President Reagan, who partially owed his climb into the executive office to the hostage crisis, showed contempt for Iran’s resolution of the problem. Driven by the unproven assertion that Iran was involved in the 1983 bombing of a marine barracks in Beirut, and favoring Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Iraq-Iran war, the U.S. president imposed additional sanctions on the Islamic Republic. and, in 1987, banned all imports from Iran.

Duriing the Clinton administration, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) penalized all foreign companies that provided investments over $20 million for the development of petroleum resources.

Iran’s entrance into the atomic age provoked a series of new sanctions. Economic warfare soon reached full scale by subduing Iran’s earnings from its most precious resource and export – oil. The U.S. Congress passed unilateral sanctions that targeted Iran’s energy and banking sectors. Sanctions did not halt Iran’s nuclear activities, or prevent it from signing contracts with foreign firms to develop its energy resources. Exports slowly grew to an estimated $82 billion in 2012, with liberated Iraq and independent China filling the gap as trading partners.

Nevertheless, economic warfare affected Iran’s industries and welfare. In October 2012, Iran’s currency, the rial, fell to a record low against the US dollar, losing about 80 per cent of its value in one year. Lack of spare parts and inability to replace planes affected aviation safety. Real growth rate in GDP, at a steady six per cent a year during the first decade of the twenty first century, fell to two per cent in 2011-2012. One report, citing officials from the U.S. Departments of State and Energy, concluded that gasoline imports in the Shah’s former kingdom declined from 130,000 barrels a day in 2009 to 50,000 barrels a day in 2011. Machinery wears, and the  costs and time for repairs rapidly increased. A nation of educated professionals, who depended upon access to foreign technology and scientific cooperation, had their access to knowledge severely curtailed.

In a October 5, 2012 report to the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon summarized effects of sanctions on Iran’s population.

The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran have had significant effects on the general population, including an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine,

The embargoes have also hampered humanitarian operations, as the imposed restrictions on Iran’s banking system have halted the imports of medicines needed for treating diseases like cancer and heart and respiratory conditions.

The Obama administration eventually eased restrictions on the sale of medicines to Iran, and, after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in which Iran halted and downsized its uranium enrichment, the UN lifted sanctions. In a following year, Iran GDP increased 15 percent.

On May 8, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. and U.S. sanctions came into effect again in November 2018. President Trump articulated his plan for renewed sanctions as, “to bring Iran’s oil exports to ‘zero’ and remove a main source of revenue for the regime.” Trump imposed the ultimate harm afforded by economic warfare — starve the people and have them revolt against the regime.

That has not happened nor is predicted to occur. World Bank statistics indicate a severe slowing of the economy and steady rise of inflation.

As shown in the charts, oil production, and GDP growth dropped monotonically and severely. Currency value suffered an initial shock and had some recovery. Inflation was up 40%, especially in food (up 60%) — a suffering economy, a suffering people, and no political gain for the U.S.

Cuba

Immediately after the 1960 Cuban revolution, the United States imposed an embargo against Cuba. Fifty plus years of sanctions have not succeeded in accomplishing the purposes for which the United States proposed the sanctions — compensation to U.S. firms nationalized by Cuba and the overthrow of the Castro regime. The only result of the embargo has been deprivation of the Cuban people.

Although the United Nations General Assembly on November 2, 1995, voted 117 to 3 to recommend an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, President Clinton, on March 12, 1996, signed into law the misnamed Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. This Act imposed penalties on foreign companies doing business in Cuba, permitted U.S. citizens to sue foreign investors who make use of American-owned property seized by the Cuban government, and denied foreign investors in Cuba’s industry to enter the U.S.

The World Health Organization (WHO) complimented pre-90’s Cuba for its public health system, which had been credited with eliminating hunger and malnutrition and wiping out infectious diseases. A tightened embargo reinforced Cuba’s suffering after Russia withdrew subsidies. and, soon, Cuba of the mid-90’s portrayed another image. The American Association for World Health and the American Public Health Association ascertained that the embargo caused significant deterioration in Cuba’s food production and health care:

  • Cuba was banned from purchasing nearly 1/2 of new drugs on the market.
  • Physicians had access to only 890 medications, down from 1,300 in 1989.
  • Deterioration of water supply increased water borne diseases.
  • Daily caloric intake dropped by 33% between 1989 and 1993.

In 2000, the Clinton administration finally allowed Cuba to have some relief from an aggressive economic warfare. The administration allowed the sale of agriculture and medicine to Cuba for humanitarian purposes. According to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba reached $380 million in 2004. However, after hitting a peak of $710 million in 2008, U.S. food sales to Cuba declined over 50 percent by the year 2011. Reasons for the decline were largely economic – lack of foreign currency and better financial terms being offered by other countries.

Representatives of a dozen leading U.S. business organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, signed a letter in December urging Barack Obama to scrap the embargo. The letter pegs the cost to the U.S. economy at $1.2 billion per year. The CPF’s estimates are much higher: up to $4.84 billion annually in lost sales and exports. The Cuban government estimates the loss to Cuba at about $685 million annually. Thus the blockade costs the United States up to $4.155 billion more a year than it costs Cuba.1

After a period of harsh policy toward Cuba under President George W. Bush, President Obama announced in late 2014 that Washington and Havana would begin normalizing relations. To that end, the Obama administration achieved three pillars of normalization: 1) the removal of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, which allowed Cuba to access international finance; 2) the reestablishment of diplomatic relations; and 3) relaxed restrictions on travel and trade through executive action. The embargo remained in place.

In 2017, the Trump administration reversed some of the changes made under President Obama, but the vast majority remained U.S. policy. Despite some tighter trade sanctions and limitations on authorized travel, there are still legal pathways for Americans to export and travel to Cuba. On the list of  new sanctions is allowing Americans to sue foreign companies in Cuba that are profiting from or using properties that were seized during the Cuban revolution.

Havana — The Cuban government announced Friday it is launching widespread rationing of chicken, eggs, rice, beans, soap and other basic products in the face of a grave economic crisis. Commerce Minister Betsy Díaz Velazquez told the state-run Cuban News Agency that various forms of rationing would be employed in order to deal with shortages of staple foods.

Díaz blamed the hardening of the U.S. trade embargo by the Trump administration. Economists give equal or greater blame to a plunge in aid from Venezuela, where the collapse of the state-run oil company has led to a nearly two-thirds cut in shipments of subsidized fuel that Cuba used for power and to earn hard currency on the open market.2

Another suffering economy, suffering people, and no political gain for the U.S.

North Korea

The proud and impoverished nation of North Korea has been continually subjected to sanctions, threats of economic sanctions, and hastily withdrawn sanctions. The media is peppered with the words: “U.S. Lifts sanctions,” “U.S. recommends sanctions,” “South Korea wary of sanctions.” It’s difficult to know if North Korea is being sanctioned or being forced into being sanctioned. After its 2006 claim of conducting a nuclear test, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic Korea) leaders responded to intended sanctions by labeling them as “a declaration of war.”

The DPRK has,suffered from economic warfare, which includes restrictions on trade and financial transactions. Export of sensitive dual-use items (items that have both military and non-military uses) have, at times, been prohibited.  During March 2012, the politics of starvation entered the situation; angered by an intended North Korea missile test, the U.S. suspended food aid to the “hermit kingdom.”

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has suspended planned food aid to North Korea as Pyongyang vows to push ahead with a plan to launch a long-range missile in defiance of international warnings, U.S. military officials said on Wednesday.

Under President Obama, sanctions increased as a policy of “strategic patience;” the US waited for North Korea to change its bad behavior before engaging with the state. As a result, trade between North Korea and China increased and sanctions did not encourage Kim Jong-An to discuss de-nuclearization.

On September 21, 2017, President Donald Trump, as part of his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, allowed severing from its financial system and/or freezing assets of companies, businesses, organizations, and individuals who traded in goods, services, or technology with North Korea.

U.S. negotiations with North Korea have a built-in error; they request de-nuclearization in exchange for improved relations and reduction in sanctions. Not considered is that North Korea’s development of a nuclear arsenal was a response to its regard of U.S. actions in the Korean peninsula as a direct threat to its regime and the developments had no relation to sanctions. Therefore, the DPRK will not trade de-nuclearization for relief of sanctions, and that approach is a non-starter.

Sanctions, intended to collapse the North Korea regime, have not halted its development of nuclear weapons and guided missile delivery systems. They have collapsed the economy and harmed the North Korean people; starvation during droughts have occurred. Although some international assistance has been provided to North Korea, the intensive economic warfare waged against the “hermit kingdom” has exacerbated its problems, without any apparent benefit to its principal antagonist, the United States.

Iraq

If Iraq were Pompeii, then the US would be Mt. Vesuvius.

The sanctions against Iraq began August 6, 1990, four days after Hussein invaded Kuwait, and featured a near-total financial and trade embargo. Resultant suffering has been outlined in a UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, submitted to the Security Council, March 1999.  Due to the length of the report, only significant features are mentioned.

Before the Iraq War

  • before 1991 Iraq’s social and economic indicators were generally above the regional and developing country averages.
  • Up to 1990, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) cited Iraq as having one of the highest per capita food availability indicators in the region.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), prior to 1991, health care reached approximately 97% of the urban population and 78% of rural residents. A major reduction of young child mortality took place from 1960 to 1990; with the infant mortality rate at 65 per 1,000 live births in 1989 (1991 Human Development Report average for developing countries was 76 per 1,000 live births). UNICEF indicates that a national welfare system assisted orphans and children with disabilities and supported the poorest families.
  • Before 1991, southern and central Iraq had well developed water and sanitation systems, composed with two hundred water treatment plants (“wtp’s”) for urban areas and 1200 compact wtp’s to serve rural areas, as well as an extensive distribution network. WHO estimates that 90% of the population had access to an abundant quantity of safe drinking water.

From Sanctions After the Gulf War

  • Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that Iraqi GDP may have fallen by nearly 67% in 1991, and the nation had “experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty” and had infant mortality rates that were “among the highest in the world.”
  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated the maternal mortality rate increased from 50/100,000 live births in 1989 to 117/100,000 in 1997. The under-five child mortality rate increased from 30.2/1000 live births to 97.2/1000 during the same period. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) calculates that the infant mortality rate rose from 64/1000 births in 1990 to 129/1000 in 1995 (the Human Development Report set the average infant mortality rate for Least Developed Countries at 109/1000). Low birth weight babies (less than 2.5 kg) rose from 4% in 1990 to around a quarter of registered births in 1997, due mainly to maternal malnutrition.
  • Calorie intake fell from a pre-war 3120 to 1093 calories per capita/per day in 1994-95. The prevalence of malnutrition in Iraqi children under five almost doubled from 1991 to 1996 (from 12% to 23%). Acute malnutrition in Center/South rose from 3% to 11% for the same age bracket.
  • The World Food Program (WFP) estimated that access to potable water decreased to 50% of the 1990 level in urban areas and 33% in rural areas.
  • School enrollment for all ages (6-23) declined to 53%. According to a field survey conducted in 1993, as quoted by UNESCO, in Central and Southern governorates, 83% of school buildings needed rehabilitation, with 8613 out of 10,334 schools having suffered serious damages. The same source indicated that some schools with a planned capacity of 700 pupils actually have 4500 enrolled in them. Substantive progress in reducing adult and female illiteracy ceased and regressed to mid-1980 levels. More families are forced to rely on children to secure household incomes. Figures provided by UNESCO indicate that drop-outs in elementary schools increased from 95,692 in 1990 to 131,658 in 1999.

Sanctions, and its toll on the Iraqi people, continued until the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Excerpts from Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions, Joy Gordon. Harvard University Press, 2010, describe the extent of irrational economic warfare conducted by the United states against a defenseless Iraq.

While the United States consistently justified its policies in terms of preventing Iraq from developing weapons or threatening its neighbors, the U.S. policy went well beyond any rational concern with security. There was an elaborate architecture of policies that found a dozen other ways to simply do gratuitous harm that had not the least relation to the threat Iraq might have posed to its neighbors or to anyone else.

For thirteen years the United States unilaterally prevented Iraq from importing nearly everything related to electricity, telecommunications, and transportation, blocked much of what was needed for agriculture and housing construction, and even prohibited some equipment and materials necessary for health care and food preparation.

As the criticism grew, there is no sign that anyone in the U.S. administration, and only a tiny handful within Congress, actually took it to heart– actually questioned the sanity and legality of reducing an entire civilization to a preindustrial state, of bankrupting an entire nation for the purpose of containing one tyrannical man.

On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, appeared on the CBS program 60 Minutes. Commentator Lesley Stahl asked, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?” Madeleine Albright replied, “we think the price is worth it.”  Is that an expected response from a normal human being?

The U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq accomplished what sanctions failed to accomplish —  push Iraq to total ruin. A question, “Why war, if had sanctions, or why sanctions if need to go to war?”

Conclusion

As shown, sanctions never accomplished their stated purposes and gravely harmed populations. The economic warfare had equivalents to military war. The country that took the offensive became the aggressor, as in any war, and the destruction to the defending state was equally brutal. In the one-sided engagement, the civilian population of the defending nation suffered greatly and the aggressor country suffered few losses. The economic wars never achieved the results that the offended party desired, and no peace treaties were signed. The struggles remained an open issue.

A limited form of economic warfare may, at times, have a legitimate purpose. A complete economic war, that invades all aspects of a country’s life and continues until it debilitates the population, cannot be accepted. In a military campaign, atrocities and human rights violations are often committed. Although no shots are fired and battlefields are not identifiable, economic warfare cannot camouflage its atrocities and disguise its human rights violations.

  1. Dollars and Sense, 2009, The Costs of the Embargo, by Margot Pepper
  2. From CBS News, May 11, 2019.