Category Archives: US Hypocrisy

The Planet Cannot Begin to Heal Until We Rip the Mask off the West’s War Machine

Making political sense of the world can be tricky unless one understands the role of the state in capitalist societies. The state is not primarily there to represent voters or uphold democratic rights and values; it is a vehicle for facilitating and legitimating the concentration of wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands.

In a recent post, I wrote about “externalities” – the ability of companies to offset the true costs inherent in the production process. The burden of these costs are covertly shifted on to wider society: that is, on to you and me. Or on to those far from view, in foreign lands. Or on to future generations. Externalising costs means that profits can be maximised for the wealth elite in the here and now.

Our own societies must deal with the externalised costs of industries ranging from tobacco and alcohol to chemicals and vehicles. Societies abroad must deal with the costs of the bombs dropped by our “defence” industries. And future generations will have to deal with the lethal costs incurred by corporations that for decades have been allowed to pump out their waste products into every corner of the globe.

Divine right to rule

In the past, the job of the corporate media was to shield those externalities from public view. More recently, as the costs have become impossible to ignore, especially with the climate crisis looming, the media’s role has changed. Its central task now is to obscure corporate responsibility for these externalities. That is hardly surprising. After all, the corporate media’s profits depend on externalising costs too, as well as hiding the externalised costs of their parent companies, their billionaire owners and their advertisers.

Once, monarchs rewarded the clerical class for persuading, through the doctrine of divine right, their subjects to passively submit to exploitation. Today, “mainstream” media are there to persuade us that capitalism, the profit motive, the accumulation of ever greater wealth by elites, and externalities destroying the planet are the natural order of things, that this is the best economic system imaginable.

Most of us are now so propagandised by the media that we can barely imagine a functioning world without capitalism. Our minds are primed to imagine, in the absence of capitalism, an immediate lurch back to Soviet-style bread queues or an evolutionary reversal to cave-dwelling. Those thoughts paralyse us, making us unable to contemplate what might be wrong or inherently unsustainable about how we live right now, or to imagine the suicidal future we are hurtling towards.

Lifeblood of empire

There is a reason that, as we rush lemming-like towards the cliff-edge, urged on by a capitalism that cannot operate at the level of sustainability or even of sanity, the push towards intensified war grows. Wars are the life blood of the corporate empire headquartered in the United States.

US imperialism is no different from earlier imperialisms in its aims or methods. But in late-stage capitalism, wealth and power are hugely concentrated. Technologies have reached a pinnacle of advancement. Disinformation and propaganda are sophisticated to an unprecedented degree. Surveillance is intrusive and aggressive, if well concealed. Capitalism’s destructive potential is unlimited. But even so, war’s appeal is not diminished.

As ever, wars allow for the capture and control of resources. Fossil fuels promise future growth, even if of the short-term, unsustainable kind.

Wars require the state to invest its money in the horrendously expensive and destructive products of the “defence” industries, from fighter planes to bombs, justifying the transfer of yet more public resources into private hands.

The lobbies associated with these “defence” industries have every incentive to push for aggressive foreign (and domestic) policies to justify more investment, greater expansion of “defensive” capabilities, and the use of weapons on the battlefield so that they need replenishing.

Whether public or covert, wars provide an opportunity to remake poorly defended, resistant societies – such as Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria – in ways that allow for resources to be seized, markets to be expanded and the reach of the corporate elite to be extended.

War is the ultimate growth industry, limited only by our ability to be persuaded of new enemies and new threats.

Fog of war

For the political class, the benefits of war are not simply economic. In a time of environmental collapse, war offers a temporary “Get out of jail” card. During wars, the public is encouraged to assent to new, ever greater sacrifices that allow public wealth to be transferred to the elite. War is the corporate world’s ultimate Ponzi scheme.

The “fog of war” does not just describe the difficulty of knowing what is happening in the immediate heat of battle. It is also the fear, generated by claims of an existential threat, that sets aside normal thinking, normal caution, normal scepticism. It is the invoking of a phantasmagorical enemy towards which public resentments can be directed, shielding from view the real culprits – the corporations and their political cronies at home.

The “fog of war” engineers the disruption of established systems of control and protocol to cope with the national emergency, shrouding and rationalising the accumulation by corporations of more wealth and power and the further capture of organs of the state. It is the licence provided for “exceptional” changes to the rules that quickly become normalised. It is the disinformation that passes for national responsibility and patriotism.

Permanent austerity

All of which explains why Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, has just pledged an extra £16.5 billion in “defence” spending at a time when the UK is struggling to control a pandemic and when, faced by disease, Brexit and a new round of winter floods, the British economy is facing “systemic crisis”, according to a new Cabinet Office report. Figures released this week show the biggest economic contraction in the UK in three centuries.

If the British public is to stomach yet more cuts, to surrender to permanent austerity as the economy tanks, Johnson, ever the populist, knows he needs a good cover story. And that will involve further embellishment of existing, fearmongering narratives about Russia, Iran and China.

To make those narratives plausible, Johnson has to act as if the threats are real, which means massive spending on “defence”. Such expenditure, wholly counter-productive when the current challenge is sustainability, will line the pockets of the very corporations that help Johnson and his pals stay in power, not least by cheerleading him via their media arms.

New salesman needed

The cynical way this works was underscored in a classified 2010 CIA memorandum, known as “Red Cell”, leaked to Wikileaks, as the journalist Glenn Greenwald reminded us this week. The CIA memo addressed the fear in Washington that European publics were demonstrating little appetite for the US-led “war on terror” that followed 9/11. That, in turn, risked limiting the ability of European allies to support the US as it exercised its divine right to wage war.

The memo notes that European support for US wars after 9/11 had chiefly relied on “public apathy” – the fact that Europeans were kept largely ignorant by their own media of what those wars entailed. But with a rising tide of anti-war sentiment, the concern was that this might change. There was an urgent need to further manipulate public opinion more decisively in favour of war.

The US intelligence agency decided its wars needed a facelift. George W Bush, with his Texan, cowboy swagger, had proved a poor salesman. So the CIA turned to identity politics and faux “humanitarianism”, which they believed would play better with European publics.

Part of the solution was to accentuate the suffering of Afghan women to justify war. But the other part was to use President Barack Obama as the face of a new, “caring” approach to war. He had recently been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – even though he had done nothing for peace, and would go on to expand US wars – very possibly as part of this same effort to reinvent the “war on terror”. Polls showed support for existing wars increased markedly among Europeans when they were reminded that Obama backed these wars.

As Greenwald observes:

Obama’s most important value was in prettifying, marketing and prolonging wars, not ending them. They saw him for what U.S. Presidents really are: instruments to create a brand and image about the U.S. role in the world that can be effectively peddled to both the domestic population in the US and then on the global stage, and specifically to pretend that endless barbaric US wars are really humanitarian projects benevolently designed to help people — the pretext used to justify every war by every country in history.

Obama-style facelift

Once the state is understood as a vehicle for entrenching elite power – and war its most trusted tool for concentrating power – the world becomes far more intelligible. Western economies never stopped being colonial economies, but they were given an Obama-style facelift. War and plunder – even when they masquerade as “defence” or peace – are still the core western mission.

That is why Britons, believing days of empire are long behind them, may have been shocked to learn this week that the UK still operates 145 military bases in 42 countries around the globe, meaning it runs the second largest network of such bases after the US.

Such information is not made available in the UK “mainstream” media, of course. It has to be provided by an “alternative” investigative site, Declassified UK. In that way the vast majority of the British public are left clueless about how their taxes are being used at a time when they are told further belt-tightening is essential.

The UK’s network of bases, many of them in the Middle East, close to the world’s largest oil reserves, are what the much-vaunted “special relationship” with the US amounts to. Those bases are the reason the UK – whoever is prime minister – is never going to say “no” to a demand that Britain join Washington in waging war, as it did in attacking Iraq in 2003, or in aiding attacks on Libya, Syria and Yemen. The UK is not only a satellite of the US empire, it is a lynchpin of the western imperial war economy.

Ideological alchemy

Once that point is appreciated, the need for external enemies – for our own Eurasias and Eastasias – becomes clearer.

Some of those enemies, the minor ones, come and go, as demand dictates. Iraq dominated western attention for two decades. Now it has served its purpose, its killing fields and “terrorist” recruiting grounds have reverted to a mere footnote in the daily news. Likewise, the Libyan bogeyman Muammar Gaddafi was constantly paraded across news pages until he was bayonetted to death. Now the horror story that is today’s chaotic Libya, a corridor for arms-running and people-trafficking, can be safely ignored. For a decade, the entirely unexceptional Arab dictator Bashar Assad, of Syria, has been elevated to the status of a new Hitler, and he will continue to serve in that role for as long as it suits the needs of the western war economy.

Notably, Israel, another lynchpin of the US empire and one that serves as a kind of offshored weapons testing laboratory for the military-industrial complex, has played a vital role in rationalising these wars. Just as saving Afghan women from Middle Eastern patriarchy makes killing Afghans – men, women and children – more palatable to Europeans, so destroying Arab states can be presented as a humanitarian gesture if at the same time it crushes Israel’s enemies, and by extension, through a strange, implied ideological alchemy, the enemies of all Jews.

Quite how opportunistic – and divorced from reality – the western discourse about Israel and the Middle East has become is obvious the moment the relentless concerns about Syria’s Assad are weighed against the casual indifference towards the head-chopping rulers of Saudi Arabia, who for decades have been financing terror groups across the Middle East, including the jihadists in Syria.

During that time, Israel has covertly allied with oil-rich Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, because all of them are safely ensconced within the US war machine. Now, with the Palestinians completely sidelined diplomatically, and with all international solidarity with Palestinians browbeaten into silence by antisemitism smears, Israel and the Saudis are gradually going public with their alliance, like a pair of shy lovers. That included the convenient leak this week of a secret meeting between Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

The west also needs bigger, more menacing and more permanent enemies than Iraq or Syria. Helpfully one kind – nebulous “terrorism” – is the inevitable reaction to western war-making. The more brown people we kill, the more brown people we can justify killing because they carry out, or support, “terrorism” against us. Their hatred for our bombs is an irrationality, a primitivism we must keep stamping out with more bombs.

But concrete, identifiable enemies are needed too. Russia, Iran and China give superficial credence to the war machine’s presentation of itself as a “defence” industry. The UK’s bases around the globe and Boris Johnson’s £16 billion rise in spending on the UK’s war industries only make sense if Britain is under a constant, existential threat. Not just someone with a suspicious backpack on the London Tube, but a sophisticated, fiendish enemy that threatens to invade our lands, to steal resources to which we claim exclusive rights, to destroy our way of life through its masterful manipulation of the internet.

Crushed or tamed

Anyone of significance who questions these narratives that rationalise and perpetuate war is the enemy too. Current political and legal dramas in the US and UK reflect the perceived threat such actors pose to the war machine. They must either be crushed or tamed into subservience.

Trump was initially just such a figure that needed breaking in. The CIA and other intelligence agencies assisted in the organised opposition to Trump – helping to fuel the evidence-free Russiagate “scandal” – not because he was an awful human being or had authoritarian tendencies, but for two more specific reasons.

First, Trump’s political impulses, expressed in the early stages of his presidential campaign, were to withdraw from the very wars the US empire depends on. Despite open disdain for him from most of the media, he was criticised more often for failing to prosecute wars enthusiastically enough rather than for being too hawkish. And second, even as his isolationist impulses were largely subdued after the 2016 election by the permanent bureaucracy and his own officials, Trump proved to be an even more disastrous salesman for war than George W Bush. Trump made war look and sound exactly as it is, rather than packaging it as “intervention” intended to help women and people of colour.

But Trump’s amateurish isolationism paled in comparison to two far bigger threats to the war machine that emerged over the past decade. One was the danger – in our newly interconnected, digital world – of information leaks that risked stripping away the mask of US democracy, of the “shining city on the hill”, to reveal the tawdry reality underneath.

Julian Assange and his Wikileaks project proved just such a danger. The most memorable leak – at least as far as the general public was concerned – occurred in 2010, with publication of a classified video, titled Collateral Murder, showing a US air crew joking and celebrating as they murdered civilians far below in the streets of Baghdad. It gave a small taste of why western “humanitarianism” might prove so unpopular with those to whom we were busy supposedly bringing “democracy”.

The threat posed by Assange’s new transparency project was recognised instantly by US officials.

Exhibiting a carefully honed naivety, the political and media establishments have sought to uncouple the fact that Assange has spent most of the last decade in various forms of detention, and is currently locked up in a London high-security prison awaiting extradition to the US, from his success in exposing the war machine. Nonetheless, to ensure his incarceration till death in one of its super-max jails, the US empire has had to conflate the accepted definitions of “journalism” and “espionage”, and radically overhaul traditional understandings of the rights enshrined in the First Amendment.

Dress rehearsal for a coup

An equally grave threat to the war machine was posed by the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of Britain’s Labour party. Corbyn presented as exceptional a problem as Assange.

Before Corbyn, Labour had never seriously challenged the UK’s dominant military-industrial complex, even if its support for war back in the 1960s and 1970s was often tempered by its then-social democratic politics. It was in this period, at the height of the Cold War, that Labour prime minister Harold Wilson was suspected by British elites of failing to share their anti-Communist and anti-Soviet paranoia, and was therefore viewed as a potential threat to their entrenched privileges.

As a BBC documentary from 2006 notes, Wilson faced the very real prospect of enforced “regime change”, coordinated by the military, the intelligence services and members of the royal family. It culminated in a show of force by the military as they briefly took over Heathrow airport without warning or coordination with Wilson’s government. Marcia Williams, his secretary, called it a “dress rehearsal” for a coup. Wilson resigned unexpectedly soon afterwards, apparently as the pressure started to take its toll.

‘Mutiny’ by the army

Subsequent Labour leaders, most notably Tony Blair, learnt the Wilson lesson: never, ever take on the “defence” establishment. The chief role of the UK is to serve as the US war machine’s attack dog. Defying that allotted role would be political suicide.

By contrast to Wilson, who posed a threat to the British establishment only in its overheated imagination, Corbyn was indeed a real danger to the militaristic status quo.

He was one of the founders of the Stop the War coalition that emerged specifically to challenge the premises of the “war on terror”. He explicitly demanded an end to Israel’s role as a forward base of the imperial war industries. In the face of massive opposition from his own party – and claims he was undermining “national security” – Corbyn urged a public debate about the deterrence claimed by the “defence” establishment for the UK’s Trident nuclear submarine programme, effectively under US control. It was also clear that Corbyn’s socialist agenda, were he ever to reach power, would require redirecting the many billions spent in maintaining the UK’s 145 military bases around the globe back into domestic social programmes.

In an age when the primacy of capitalism goes entirely unquestioned, Corbyn attracted even more immediate hostility from the power establishment than Wilson had. As soon as he was elected Labour leader, Corbyn’s own MPs – still loyal to Blairism – sought to oust him with a failed leadership challenge. If there was any doubt about how the power elite responded to Corbyn becoming head of the opposition, the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times newspaper soon offered a platform to an unnamed army general to make clear its concerns.

Weeks after Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, the general warned that the army would take “direct action” using “whatever means possible, fair or foul” to prevent Corbyn exercising power. There would be “mutiny”, he said. “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it.”

Such views about Corbyn were, of course, shared on the other side of the Atlantic. In a leaked recording of a conversation with American-Jewish organisations last year, Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state and a former CIA director, spoke of how Corbyn had been made to “run the gauntlet” as a way to ensure he would not be elected prime minister. The military metaphor was telling.

In relation to the danger of Corbyn winning the 2019 election, Pompeo added: “You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best. It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

This was from the man who said of his time heading the CIA: “We lied, we cheated, we stole. It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses.”

Smears and Brexit

After a 2017 election that Labour only narrowly lost, the Corbyn threat was decisively neutralised in the follow-up election two years later, after the Labour leader was floored by a mix of antisemitism slurs and a largely jingoistic Brexit campaign to leave Europe.

Claims that this prominent anti-racism campaigner had overseen a surge of antisemitism in Labour were unsupported by evidence, but the smears – amplified in the media – quickly gained a life of their own. The allegations often bled into broader – and more transparently weaponised – suggestions that Corbyn’s socialist platform and criticisms of capitalism were also antisemitic. (See here, here and here.) But the smears were nevertheless dramatically effective in removing the sheen of idealism that had propelled Corbyn on to the national stage.

By happy coincidence for the power establishment, Brexit also posed a deep political challenge to Corbyn. He was naturally antagonistic to keeping the UK trapped inside a neoliberal European project that, as a semi-detached ally of the US empire, would always eschew socialism. But Corbyn never had control over how the Brexit debate was framed. Helped by the corporate media, Dominic Cummings and Johnson centred that debate on simplistic claims that severing ties with Europe would liberate the UK socially, economically and culturally. But their concealed agenda was very different. An exit from Europe was not intended to liberate Britain but to incorporate it more fully into the US imperial war machine.

Which is one reason that Johnson’s cash-strapped Britain is now promising an extra £16bn on “defence”. The Tory government’s  priorities are to prove both its special usefulness to the imperial project and its ability to continue using war – as well as the unique circumstances of the pandemic – to channel billions from public coffers into the pockets of the establishment.

A Biden makeover

After four years of Trump, the war machine once again desperately needs a makeover. The once-confident, youthful Wikileaks is now less able to peek behind the curtain and listen in to the power establishment’s plans for a new administration under Joe Biden.

We can be sure nonetheless that its priorities are no different from those set out in the CIA memo of 2010. Biden’s cabinet, the media has been excitedly trumpeting, is the most “diverse” ever, with women especially prominent in the incoming foreign policy establishment.

There has been a huge investment by Pentagon officials and Congressional war hawks in pushing for Michèle Flournoy to be appointed as the first female defence secretary. Flournoy, like Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Tony Blinken, has played a central role in prosecuting every US war dating back to the Bill Clinton administration.

The other main contender for the spot is Jeh Johnson, who would become the first black defence secretary. As Biden dithers, his advisers’ assessment will focus on who will be best positioned to sell yet more war to a war-weary public.

The role of the imperial project is to use violence as a tool to capture and funnel ever greater wealth – whether it be resources seized in foreign lands or the communal wealth of domestic western populations – into the pockets of the power establishment, and to exercise that power covertly enough, or at a great enough distance, that no meaningful resistance is provoked.

A strong dose of identity politics may buy a little more time. But the war economy is as unsustainable as everything else our societies are currently founded on. Sooner or later the war machine is going to run out of fuel.

The post The Planet Cannot Begin to Heal Until We Rip the Mask off the West’s War Machine first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US Intervenes as Venezuela Prepares for High Stakes Election

The US finally appointed an ambassador to Venezuela after a decade hiatus and in the runup to the Venezuelan National Assembly elections. The new ambassador, James Story, was confirmed by US Senate voice vote on November 18 with Democrats supporting Trump’s nominee.

Ambassador Story took his post in Bogotá, Colombia. No, this is not another example of Trump’s bungling by sending his man to the wrong capital. The US government does not recognize the democratically elected government in Caracas.

Impasse of two Venezuelan presidents

US hostility to Venezuela started when Hugo Chávez became president in 1999 and continues to this day, according to Adán Chávez, the late president’s older brother and vice-president of the PSUV, the ruling socialist party in Venezuela. “For the last 21 years,” he commented, “the empire has been perfecting its attacks” on Venezuela.

The elder Chávez, spoke at an international online meeting with the US Chapter of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity on November 19. Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, he explained, was not initially socialist, although it was against neoliberalism. The traditional parties in Venezuela in 1998 had lost their appeal to the voters. Hugo Chávez ran and won, looking for a “third way” that was neither capitalist nor socialist. What the revolution discovered was that there was no third way: either socialism or barbarism.

When in 2013, Venezuela elected President Nicolás Maduro and not the US-backed candidate, the US declared that election fraudulent and refused to recognize the winner. In the 2018 when Maduro was reelected, the US – not taking any chances – proclaimed fraud four months in advance of the vote.

Then in January 2019, US Vice President Pence telephoned the newly installed president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó. The following morning Guaidó declared himself president of Venezuela on a Caracas street corner. Almost immediately Donald Trump recognized him as Venezuela’s de facto president.

Guaidó’s claim to the national presidency was based on being third in constitutional succession, overlooking that neither the Venezuelan president nor vice-president had vacated their offices. At the time, the 35-year-old was unknown to 81% of the Venezuelan people, according to a poll by a firm favorable to the opposition. Guaidó was not even a leader in his own far-right party, Popular Will. He had never run for national office and his previous “exposure” was just that. A photograph of his bare behind made the press when he dropped his pants at a demonstration against the government. The person, whose butt may have been better known than his face, only got to be president of the National Assembly by a scheme which rotated the office among the parties in the legislature.

But Juan Guaidó had one outstanding qualification to be the US-anointed puppet president of Venezuela – he was a trained US security asset.

Guaidó’s parallel government has named ambassadors without power and has colluded with the US to loot Venezuelan national assets, some $24 billion. His former attorney is now on the legal team working to take over CITGO, the oil company in the US owned by Venezuela.

“As time went on,” Mission Verdad reported from Venezuela, “support for Guaidó faded and his childish image became a laughable anecdote of Venezuelan politics.” After several failed coup attempts, corruption, embezzlement, resigning from his own party, and losing the presidency of the National Assembly, Guaidó’s last shred of legitimacy – his National Assembly seat – will be contested on December 6 with elections to the unicameral legislature.

US interference and sanctions on Venezuela

The extraordinary level of US interference in Venezuela’s electoral process highlights their importance. The US government has preemptively declared the upcoming National Assembly elections fraudulent.  Guaidó’s political party and others on the far right have dutifully obeyed Trump’s directive to boycott the contest.

However, other opposition elements have broken with the US strategy of extra-parliamentary regime change and are participating in the elections. They have also distanced themselves from Guaidó’s calls for ever harsher sanctions against his people and even for US military intervention.

To maintain discipline among the moderate opposition, the US has sanctioned some opposition party leaders for registering to run in the parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, 98 opposition parties and nine Chavista parties (supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution) will be contesting for 277 seats in the National Assembly.

Following the US’s lead, the European Union rejected the upcoming election and an invitation to send election observers. A long list of international figures including Noble Prize winners and former heads of state petitioned the EU: “This election represents, above all a democratic, legal and peaceful way out of the political and institutional crisis that was triggered in January 2019 by the self-appointment of Juan Guaidó as ‘interim president’ of Venezuela.”

The Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA) and other internationals will be observing the election on December 6. CEELA Chairman Nicanor Moscoso noted: “We, as former magistrates and electoral authorities in Latin America, have organized elections and also participated in over 120 elections…Our aim is to accompany the Venezuelan people.”

The nine Chavista parties are not running on a unified slate. The new Popular Revolutionary Alternative coalition, which formed to run candidates independently, includes the Venezuelan Communist Party.

Communists normally would not get favorable ink in The New York Times. But when there are splits on the left, the empire’s newspaper of record exploits them: “They championed Venezuela’s revolution – they are now its latest victims.” The paper reports: “The repression is partly an outcome of Mr. Maduro’s decision to abandon the wealth redistribution policies of his late predecessor, Hugo Chávez, in favor of what amounts to crony capitalism to survive American sanctions [emphasis added].”

The key to deconstructing the Times’s hit piece is the phrase, “to survive American sanctions.” As Alfred de Zayas, the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur on Venezuela, had observed even before the pandemic hit, the US sanctions on Venezuela are causing “economic asphyxiation.” Compromises have been necessitated.

President Maduro has survived a drone assassination attempt, mercenary invasions, and abortive coups. In this context, the ruling party realistically feels under siege.

Although running independent candidates, Communist Party leader Oscar Figuera states “we see imperialism as the main enemy of the Venezuelan people.” And on that the Chavista forces are united.

National Assembly elections as a referendum on the Venezuelan project

Venezuela’s Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Ron characterized the election as a referendum against the “brutal blockade” imposed by the US and its allies and against their effort to undermine Venezuela’s democracy by trying to prevent the election from being conducted. He spoke from Caracas in a webinar produced by the US Peace Council and others on November 18.

Carlos Ron lamented that the Venezuelan opposition does not play by the rules. In the 24 national elections held since the election of Hugo Chávez, only the two that have been won by the opposition were deemed truly legitimate by them. Yet this is the electoral system that former US President Jimmy Carter proclaimed to be “the best in the world.”

Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance spoke in the November 18 webinar calling for the US government to end the illegal coercive economic measures, including unfreezing Venezuela’s assets. Flowers called for reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the legitimate government of Venezuela based on peace and mutual respect.

Ajamu Baraka of the Black Alliance for Peace spoke at the webinar of the necessity to protect the Venezuelan project as the “gateway to the transformation of the entire region,” which is also why the US sees Venezuela as a threat. He cautioned that Joe Biden has the same regime-change policy as Trump. Our responsibility, Baraka concluded, is to build a clear anti-imperialist movement.

The post US Intervenes as Venezuela Prepares for High Stakes Election first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Expansion and Mass Eviction: Israel “Takes Advantage” of Trump’s Remaining Days in Office  

In a few words, a close associate of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, summed up the logic behind the ongoing frenzy to expand illegal Jewish settlements in Israel.

“These days are an irreplaceable opportunity to establish our hold on the Land of Israel, and I’m sure that our friend, President (Donald) Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu will be able to take advantage,” Miki Zohar, a member of the Likud Party was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor.

By “these days”, Zohar was referring to the remaining few weeks of Trump’s term in office. The US President was trounced by his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in the presidential elections held on November 3.

Trump’s defeat ignited fears in Tel Aviv, and heated debates in the Israeli Knesset that the new US administration might challenge Israel’s unhindered settlement expansion policies.

Indeed, not only was Israel allowed to expand old settlements and build new ones throughout Trump’s term, but was actually encouraged by US officials to do so with a great sense of urgency.

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is an ardent supporter of rapid expansion and was handpicked for his role, not because of his diplomatic experience – he has none – but to help facilitate US support for Israel’s colonial expansion. In doing so, the US violated international consensus on the issue, and reversed earlier US positions that perceived Israel’s illegal settlements as “obstacles to peace”.

Friedman was entrusted with communicating the ominous new American agenda regarding Israel’s illegal action in the occupied Palestinian territories and also in the Syrian Golan Heights. In June 2019, Friedman, rather clumsily, articulated a new American position on the illegal Jewish settlements when he said in an interview with the New York Times that “Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

The green light to Netanyahu was translated, in January 2020, into an announcement by Israel that it intended to formally annex nearly a third of the West Bank within a few months.

The illegal annexation was set to take place on July 1. Just prior to that date, Friedman resurfaced, this time with a less coded message, that Netanyahu’s annexation had the full backing of the US government. He told the Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, that Washington was preparing to acknowledge the Israeli move to apply sovereignty in ‘Judea and Samaria’, using the biblical reference to the West Bank.

Annexation did not materialize as grandly as expected. Instead, the Netanyahu government opted to cement its de facto annexation of Palestinian land by announcing plans to build more settlements, barring Palestinian farmers from reaching their land and accelerating the policy of home demolition.

Months before Biden became the US president-elect, Israel seemed to be preparing for the possibility that the Trump administration might not be re-elected. Certainly, while a Biden presidency is bound to remain unconditionally supportive of Israel, the new administration is likely to return to old policies pertaining to the ‘peace process’ and the two-State solution. Netanyahu has long been averse to such rhetoric as, in his view, such unnecessary delays will cost Israel precious time that could be invested in building yet more settlements. Politically, the mere discussion of a return to negotiations could, potentially, splinter Israel’s powerful, yet fractious, pro-settlement right-wing alliance.

Immediately it was clear that Trump had lost the race, Netanyahu begrudgingly congratulated Biden. Even the Israeli leader’s belated acknowledgement of Trump’s defeat did not spare him the political ambush that awaited him. Many Knesset members attacked Netanyahu for losing Israel’s bipartisan support in Washington by allying himself with the Republican Party and the Trump administration.

Leading the charge was Israel’s opposition leader from Yesh Atid-Telem, Yair Lapid, who had already criticized the Prime Minister’s “Republican First” approach to US politics. His views were shared by many Israelis in the Knesset and media.

Reversing course in Trump’s last weeks in office is not an easy choice, especially as the Trump administration remains committed to help Israel achieve its objectives to the very end.

On November 19, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, became the first top US official to visit an illegal Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. During his visit to a winery in the Psagot settlement, Pompeo gave Netanyahu yet more good news. He announced that products from illegal Jewish settlements could now be labeled “Made in Israel”, and that the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement would be declared ‘anti-Semitic’ by the US State Department.

The latter announcement will give Israel the legal capital required to prosecute and silence any US civil society opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation. Israel is counting on the fact that Biden is unlikely to dare contest or reverse such policies due to the sensitivity of the subject of anti-Semitism – real or alleged – in US politics.

The same rationale applies to the settlement building frenzy throughout occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

On November 20, Israeli authorities announced that 80 Palestinian families would be evicted from their homes in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. These homes would, in turn, be handed over to illegal Israeli Jewish settlers.

The news of the mass eviction came only a few days after the government’s announcements that the illegal settlements of Givat Hamatos and Ramat Shlomo, both located in East Jerusalem, are set for major expansion.

The massive development in Givat Hamatos, according to the Israeli group ‘Peace Now’, “will severely hamper the prospect of a two-State solution because it will ultimately block the possibility of territorial contiguity between East Jerusalem” and major urban centers in the West Bank.

The announcements are strategically timed, as they carry an unmistakable political message that Israel does not intend to reverse its settlement policies, regardless of who resides in the White House.

The coming weeks are likely to witness even more coordinated Israeli-US moves, where the Trump administration will seek to fulfill Netanyahu’s political wish list, leaving Biden with little political margin to maneuver, thus denying his government the self-proclaimed, undeserved title of the ‘honest peace broker’.

The post Expansion and Mass Eviction: Israel "Takes Advantage" of Trump’s Remaining Days in Office   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Pompeo Spells Out the New Normal: All Criticism of Israel is “antisemitic”

It is tempting to dismiss last week’s statements by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism and suggesting the global movement to boycott Israel is driven by hatred of Jews, as the last gasp of a dying administration. But that would be foolhardy.

Pompeo’s decision to label all but the most tepid criticism of Israel as antisemitism is fully in line with the current redrawing of the limits of western political debate about Israel.

To underscore his message, Pompeo issued his statement as he headed to an illegal Jewish settlement in the West Bank – the first such official visit by a US secretary of state. New guidelines announced that in future the US would mark settlement goods as “Made in Israel”, concealing the fact that they are produced in the occupied Palestinian territories.

For good measure, Pompeo described the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), widely supported by Palestinians, as a “cancer”. “We will regard the global, anti-Israel BDS campaign as antisemitic,” he added. The state department would identify any individual or group opposed to “doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel” – that is, in the settlements – “and withdraw US government support”.

‘Made in Israel’

The settlement visit was doubtless intended as affirmation by the departing Trump administration of its recognition of Israel’s right to annex swaths of the West Bank seized by settlers. That position was cemented into a so-called “peace plan” earlier in the year.

Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian peace negotiator, warned that Pompeo’s declarations would be hard for the new Democratic administration under Joe Biden to reverse, either rhetorically or substantively, when it takes office in January. “Such malicious measures are intended to corner the incoming US administration with layers of legal and administrative measures that maintain the destructive Trump legacy beyond his disruptive term,” she said.

To change course, Biden will have to declare the settlements illegal and come to the defence of the BDS movement – incurring the wrath of Israel’s lobbyists in Washington and opposition from the overwhelming majority of his own lawmakers in Congress.

It is fanciful to imagine he will do either.

The reality is that Israel’s endless facts on the ground, all ultimately pushing towards annexation, will continue as before, whether Biden or Trump is in charge. More significantly still, however, Pompeo’s statement marks the logical endpoint of a new foreign policy consensus on Israel that has rapidly taken shape in the US and Europe.

By this stage, only concerted action from western states to penalise Israel can alter the cost-benefit calculus that has so far made expanding the settlement enterprise pain-free. But trenchant criticism of Israel – of the kind so urgently necessary – is now increasingly off-limits. Instead western states are actually defaming and outlawing even the most limited forms of grassroots, non-violent action against Israel, like the BDS movement.

Topsy-turvy view

Pompeo’s statement, in fact, marks a complete inversion of the United Nations’ decision in 1975 to declare Zionism “a form of racism and racial discrimination”. At the time, supporters of Resolution 3379 made a self-evident case: any state is structurally racist if its founding ideology, as with Zionism, accords superior rights to citizens based on their ethnicity or religion.

An international convention further makes clear that such a political arrangement amounts to apartheid.

While in the 1970s Israel made efforts to obscure its ideological character, it has long since abandoned such pretence. In 2018 Israel passed the Nation-State Law making its apartheid explicit. The law affirmed superior legal rights for Jewish citizens over a large minority of Palestinian citizens.

In late 1991, however, the UN was browbeaten into revoking the “Zionism is racism” resolution after the Soviet Union fell and the US, Israel’s patron, emerged as the sole global superpower. We have now reached the point where, as Pompeo’s statement underscores, it is criticism of Israel and Zionism that is viewed as racism.

In this topsy-turvy worldview, nuclear-armed Israel is the victim, not the Palestinians who have been dispossessed and ethnically cleansed by Israel for decades. This derangement is so entrenched that last year the House of Representatives passed a near-unanimous resolution – pushed by the Israel lobby group AIPAC – denouncing any boycott of Israel as antisemitic.

Some 32 US states have passed legislation uniquely denying First Amendment rights to those who support a boycott of Israel in solidarity with oppressed Palestinians. Other states have similar legislation in the pipeline.

Criminal offence

The absurdity extends beyond the US.

The German parliament passed a resolution last year that declared boycotting Israel – a state occupying Palestinians for more than five decades – comparable to the Nazi slogan “Don’t buy from Jews”. Bonn has the power to deny public funds to any group that supports, however tangentially, such a boycott.

Last month, Israeli Jewish academics in Berlin became the latest group targeted. Their art school removed their web page and cut funding for a series of workshops critical of Zionism after an outcry from German anti-racism groups and the media.

A similar inversion of reality is taking place in the UK, where the government has ruled that local authorities are not allowed to divest pension funds from Israel. These investments, some in illegal Jewish settlements, are assessed at nearly £3.5bn ($4.7bn), meaning ordinary Britons heavily subsidise Israel’s occupation.

The decision by Boris Johnson’s government was struck down by Britain’s highest court in April, but the government has vowed to bring in new anti-BDS legislation that would nullify that ruling.

In France, meanwhile, support for boycotting Israel has long been treated as a criminal offence under anti-discrimination legislation. A group of 12 Palestinian solidarity activists lost a series of court battles in France after they were convicted a decade ago of calling for a boycott outside a supermarket. The activists received a reprieve in June only after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that their convictions violated Europe’s human rights convention.

Growing chasm

That judgment serves only to highlight the growing chasm between, on one side, the political and legal environments being shaped by lobbyists in individual western states and, on the other, the principles of international law and human rights established in the wake of the Second World War.

Pompeo’s claim that opposition to Zionism – the ideology oppressing Palestinians – is antisemitic has taken widespread root because pro-Israel activists have managed to advance an entirely novel definition of antisemitism. In 2016 the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a highly contentious and politicised “working definition” of antisemitism – one promoted by Israel. The definition is illustrated with 11 examples, seven of which refer to various criticisms of Israel, including that it is a “racist endeavour”.

A conclusion reached by the UN 45 years ago – that it is racist for a state to promote rights based not on our shared humanity but on ethnic or religious difference – is now defined as antisemitic. Donald Trump used an executive order to incorporate this weaponised definition into the Civil Rights Act last year, thereby chilling speech about Israel, especially on US campuses.

The IHRA definition is now widely accepted in the West, making it all but impossible to mount a defence against the malicious characterisation of support for Palestinian rights as equivalent to hatred of Jews. Pompeo is simply echoing a discourse that has rapidly become entrenched.

This became obvious when the British Labour party found itself plunged into a manufactured controversy in early 2016 that, overnight, it had become uniquely and institutionally antisemitic. The campaign began shortly after the membership elected as leader Jeremy Corbyn, one of a handful of socialist MPs in Labour and a vocal advocate of Palestinian rights.

Fear of backlash

The degree to which Israel has become untouchable – even when criticisms accord with international law – was highlighted when the United Nations compiled a list of businesses colluding with Israel’s illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

Publication of the database was repeatedly delayed for fear of the backlash the UN would receive for offending Israel and its lobbyists. The list finally saw daylight last February.

But the firms identified in the list have not come under any significant pressure to pull out of the settlements. In fact, what pressure they have faced has been for them to stay put, or otherwise face accusations of unfairly discriminating against Israel.

Countervailing pressure on them could come through the actions of popular, grassroots groups calling for a boycott. But western states now characterise the BDS movement that organises such boycotts as antisemitic too.

Quiescence and inaction are the only options allowed, if one wishes to avoid being labelled antisemitic.

Human rights ‘racist’?

Pompeo’s remarks in support of the settlements last week were foreshadowed by reports last month that the State Department is considering a mechanism for labelling the world’s most prominent human rights groups as antisemitic. The US would then urge other states not to deal with organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam.

Pompeo’s approach – ridiculous as it might have seemed a decade ago – does not stray far from the current logic in western capitals. Their officials have ridden roughshod over international law for some time – especially with their “interventions” in Arab states such as Iraq, Libya and Syria.

As the Palestinian cause is progressively sidelined by both western states and Arab states, groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have found themselves solitary critical voices on Israel. They are almost alone in continuing to articulate concerns about Israel’s egregious violations of international law, especially in relation to the settlements.

As a result, Pompeo’s moves to silence them may face much less resistance than many observers might assume.

Might makes right

Sadly, there is a self-fulfilling logic to these moves by the Trump administration. From Corbyn to Amnesty International and the BDS movement, those trying to uphold human rights and international law are being forced on to the defensive.

They have been strong-armed into the dock and must prove to their accusers the impossible: their innocence, measured not in concrete, public positions but in what supposedly lies behind them, in the form of private and unprovable motives.

This is safe ground for right-wing politicians and lobby groups.

Antisemitism is the insidious charge that sticks to anything it touches. The stain is all but impossible to remove. Which is why those standing up for human rights – and against racism and oppression – are going to find themselves ever more aggressively condemned as antisemitic.

This is a path not towards peace and reconciliation but towards greater tribalism, confrontation and violence. It strips out the tools of argument and persuasion, as well as non-violent forms of pressure like boycotts, and ensures a world ruled by “might makes right”.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Pompeo Spells Out the New Normal: All Criticism of Israel is "antisemitic" first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Active Shooter in the Brain

Oh, the act of deactivating, the process of disconnecting, the very process of uncluttering the brain — bye-bye Facebook — Emancipation!

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Some might say we are caught in a fun-house . . . or caught in a psych ward. I have more and more people in my sphere — work, friends, email world, Facebook world, family — who are not only showing signs of insanity, but also lobotomy, or massive electro-shock therapy (sic-sick). They actually buy into that Matrix shit, that we are part of a sophisticated code god, a program that creates the “reality” we are in. A Super Duper Mario Brothers Hollywood style. Really, and then the ancient astronauts and those aliens that had to help build Chichén Itzá and the great Pyramids of Gaza.

Conversations about this new normal sort of circle the drain, and in so many instance, the putrid politics of “never Trump” come spewing from the mouths of these people, unsolicited. And as a frame of reference, this “Trump is Gone Now — Hurray for Harris and Biden” (sigh of relief, smiles, giddy chortles) — I am back in the back of the back of the intellectual and political bus. You see, many of us know, through study, travel, experience, rebuff — that the system both Biden and Trump adore is the shooter in the brain. Active Shooter in the House. Active Shooter in the Books they Read (not many). Active Shooter in their Consumer Choices. Active Shooter in the Work Places. Active Shooter in the State Capitals. These Active Shooters are everywhere, and have been since the founding of the Active Shooter Society that is called United (hahaha) States (really?) of America (a map maker, man!).

Pin on Greeting Cards and Party Supply. Home and Garden

Just the way the Kingdom of Puritans and Kingdom of Capital laid the groundwork for this sick-in-the-head, sick-in-the-heart, sick-in-the-spirit, sick-in-the-body, sick-in-the-spirit, sick-in-the-commercial-culture has galvanized all those parts to the Active Shooter scenario and Active Shooter response to everything.

A Good Indian is a Dead Indian. There Will be Blood. Atonement for their Savagery. Beat the Dickens Out of their Native Soil/Soil/Spiritual Being. It’s that Collective Psychological Response to the Active Shooter White Patriarchal Rapist/Land Stealer/Murderer Government working out of the White House vis-à-vis all those houses of ill repute, from the CIA, to Pentagon, from NASA, to Every University, from the New York Times to Netflix, from Bank of America to BlackRock, from Jerusalem, to Geneva. Here a few other things these presidents said —

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted putting “dangerous or undesirable aliens or citizens” in “concentration camps.” During World War II, Roosevelt signed an executive order that led hundreds of thousands of people of Japanese descent––including 80,000 U.S. citizens––to be incarcerated in concentration camps on the West Coast of the U.S. The U.S. was in a war against Japan at the time. It was also fighting Italy and Germany, but did not broadly incarcerate people in the U.S. of Italian and German descent.

  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower told Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren white Southerners “are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes” while discussing the desegregation of schools.
  • Johnson is often credited as one of the most consequential presidents with respect to civil rights, having signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But for much of his political career, Johnson opposed civil rights legislation. According to a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography on Johnson, during the two decades he served in the U.S. Senate he would use the phrase “nigger bill.” Johnson also reportedly defended appointing Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court––the court’s first black justice in U.S. history––by stating, “Son, when I appoint a nigger to the court, I want everyone to know he’s a nigger.”
  • Recorded conversations of Nixon’s time in the Oval Office reveal extremely bigoted views of black people, among other groups. In one conversation, Nixon said, “We’re going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family—let people like [New York Sen.] Pat Moynihan … believe in all that crap. But I don’t believe in it. Work, work—throw ’em off the rolls. That’s the key.”
  • Nixon added, “I have the greatest affection for [blacks], but I know they’re not going to make it for 500 years. They aren’t. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they’re dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don’t live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.” On Jewish people, Nixon said, “The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”

And then, butter-for-brains Vice President Joe Biden, with more and more of his racist toes and feet in his mouth — “The way Trump deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening,” Biden said. “No sitting president has ever done this, never, never, never. No Republican president has done this, this no Democratic president,” he continued. “We’ve had racists and they’ve existed, they’ve tried to get elected president but he’s the first one that has. And the way he pits people against one another is all designed to divide the country, divide people, not pull them together.”

Shall I say more about the absurdity of the presidential election/selection? I’d end up in the poor house if I gave a reader a penny for each racist thought-or-statement written by or yammered by USA politicos, media mavens, Holly-Dirters, authors, celebrities, Fortune 1000-ers, et al!

With the continual panic and lockdown mentality and genuflection to authority, this society pre-and post-Trump has been the bum’s rush for me and my ilk. When we put this society through the settler-colonial lens, we are lambasted on both sides of the political manure pile. “You know, the Indians were not all these noble savages. You know, they came here using the Land Bridge. You know, progress means adaptation.” These people have always believed in American exceptionalism, believed in the red and white and blue. Always believed those alabaster statues of Lincoln or Jefferson or even Martin Luther King. That Active Shooter in the House is what creates that Collective Stockholm Syndrome. It can be collective in rarified forms — the Stockholm Syndrome of Branch Davidians or MAGA or QAnon. The Stockholm Syndrome of Greta/350.org/David Attenborough. The Stockholm Syndrome of K-Street. Stockholm Syndrome of the Military Police State. Stockholm Syndrome of Techies and Bezos Types. That Syndrome is the result of the Active Shooter Mindset.

Siberian eatery is ideal spot for a Putin fan | Reuters

Until we end up here, in Lockdown, in a society where stores are boarded up. Streets are empty. Barricades of the mind and spirit erected from sea to shining sea. Incomes frozen. Assets Hacked. Lives Set Inside that Funhouse, or to use non-PC lingo, Madhouse. That Active Shooter rules of engagement also include not speaking out and not moving too quickly, or use anything in reach to subdue and escape, or to crawl and stop and hide. Lights out, doors locked, no sounds, no whispering, nothing, just crouch and hold still until, what? Whirling Blackhawks and Rumbling SWAT Armored Vehicles with Machine Gun Turrets?

The perceptions from the individual and collective Stockholm Syndrome, and the intellectual actions and inactions in this Active Shooter Lockdown Abide by All Leaders’ Laws/Regulations/Rules/ Fines/Admonishments/ Recommendations/Edicts/Penalties/Crimes/Offenses/Dictates, well, that certainly has constructed a very mean and very ostrich like society, and the see-hear-speak no evil and head in the sand and the lashing out and the hyper propaganda and the hyper-knee jerking, and, well, with it all facilitated by unsocial media, we are in the super minority if we dare question the question and the responses and the answers. We dare to go up against any of the narratives, and alas, we then become the pariah and the Scarlet-ed Letter “A” for Anarchist or Anachronistic or Abnormal or Ambiguous or Antagonistic or Adversarial or Asymptomatic or Argumentative or even the letter “A” for Anticlockwise.

“All forms of perception are “subjective” in the sense that they represent only those aspects and properties of the world that can be detected by an organism’s sensory transducers. Hence all perception is subjective in the sense of being partial. Moreover, once organisms reach a stage of cognitive complexity where they start to encode some sort of model of the surrounding world through their sensory contact with it, then the result is subjective in an even deeper sense. For what is represented will only comprise those aspects of the world that potentially matter to the organism (whether this is explicitly represented in the organism’s values, or implicit in the lifestyle that has been selected for it by evolution).”

— Peter Carruthers, from Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest ( Oxford University Press, Jan 5, 2020;  p. 68)

Imagine that, the very act of just shutting it off, that Fuck You Book, that social ingratiation book, that rotting of the brain book. I was on it only because I had to set up an account for the nonprofit that was/is Gig Economizing me to work on their rather bombastic project of getting billionaires and millionaires and governments and philanthropies to put in “cash” transfers to poor people during, before and after (there will be no after) the Plan-demic Covid-19, SARS-CoV2, corona virus thing. Then, with the multitasking aplomb of wanting to take a break from this or that writing project, alas, I ended up messing with the Paul Haeder Facebook page, and then “befriending” a thousand or so, and then letting loose the philosophical and political tirades of our age. I did end up exposing folk to left of left stuff, to things that are pretty mainstream to me like Black Agenda Report, and groups like the Black Alliance for Peace. Discourse around why Trump or Trump-lite or Pence or GOP-lite, or DNC, or AOC or Biden-Obama-Hillary lite, and the hard stuff brewed by Empire of the Capitalists, that it’s all the same to revolutionaries or those with the Scarlet Letter “A” emblazoned on our t-shirts. Pure addictive and mind-blowing shit, this country is, and that is the unholy alliance of a country tis of me based on torture, raping, burning, immolating, murdering, beheading, pollution, animal slaughter, and air and soil and water destruction, all in the name of toilet paper for the masses, and kingdoms of jewels, banks, homes, mansions, castles for the Capitalists in Power. The ethanol brain rot of Capitalism a la North America.

I would throw out bombs on why Biden and Trump come from the same patriarchal DNA, how the Democratic Party Machine is as Bad and Corrupt as the Republican Party Machine. How the Machine is greased with Capital, and the Machine is not of, for, by, with, entwinned to the People, US, but for the banks. The techno-fascists, and brothers and sister of the Military Industrial Complex of Another and Another and Another Mother/Mothership.

United Snakes of America. United States of BlackRock. Un-united States of Capitalism, what have you, in variations on the theme, well, those stars on that other Banner, tell the story, and the story shifts with the logos, and those stores are indeed just banners, hiding the real sophisticated thugs of Transnational, Transhuman, Transcultural, Transhumane capital.

Corporate Logo Flags (US Flag) from Reclaim Democracy

In that abortion of Facebook just days ago, I find myself less distracted, though I have always worked as a writer, done my time in the world of nature, walks, paddles, bike riding, and now another gig for the 63-going-on-64-white (self-loathing, sort of)-communist-male-who-has-to-in-polite (mixed up)-company-call-himself-socialist. This one, well, full-time, with benefits, and back in the slog of things, working with adults with developmental and intellectual (and psychological and physical) disabilities. As a counselor, in this case all-around job-employment counselor, developers, what have you. Back to getting my expired certificates re-upped, and then all the vocational rehabilitation and department of human services and department of developmental disabilities courses and trainings. Deja vu, and well, in the beach life of the Central Oregon Coast, my spouse and I have to work, even though it feels fluttering around here that half the people are retired and enjoying high lifestyle, or at least solid retired middle class, and then, there are those who service this place, and many of them are struggling big time. In Oregon with the Nanny Governor and the schizophrenia of Red-Neck and Blue-Neck, the pain of businesses shuttering and main streets depopulating, well, this makes for a very hard time for the clientele I work with — how to get a job for someone who has to usually work 20 hours or less to keep the SSI under wraps. People who are not “normally” those we see in the workplace (the highest unemployment rate for any demographic is adults with developmental disabilities — think 83 percent). Getting creative in Plan-Demic times, well, I am up for the challenge, but alas, working that 40-hour a week schedule, and then doing my own thing as a journalist and novelist and such, well, I have to utilize as much brain-space and keyboard and mouse time as possible for MY work.

Facebook was a kick for a while, then for many of those nanoseconds (they do add up to minutes and then an hour is wasted on Fucker-Berg’s Mind Manipulation Tool, I was put on 24 hour and then three-day and then one week suspension. Expelled from posting and commenting. Then, to make matters even more hilarious (sad, too) those dyed in the wool exceptionalists, those with the Democratic Party diarrhea dreams dream, I just had to call it quits. They are the worse of the worse, the same as Christian MAGA and Conservative MAGA and Military MAGA and Retiree MAGA and Female MAGA, and the like. Total cognitive dissonance, and the Active Shooter mind-scape, well, that got the best of me (not really). Endless stupid dead-end posts and mini-discussions about why Trump is in and why Biden is bad, and, then, just coming from this angle as a communist, err, in Active Shooter land, a “socialist,” the arguments are back on the table about how great it is to have that first person of color in as VP-soon-to-be-Prez . . . (1928-’32, Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover’s Vice President, was a member of the Kaw Nation).

Endless stupidity about the lesser of two evils, about the evils of two lessers, about how a Biden win will allow for pressure on the left side of things to move the party and the country leftier . . . . Right! Bankers, bombers, baggers, bottom-feeders, bombasts, buccaneers, bag men/women, broadcasters, botulism boys, and the like, already lined up for the Harris-Biden Kill Show. Active Shooters show. Then, the Trump All Encompassing Digital and Cable Network . . . . all the while the offense industrialists (elites in and out of the military industrial complex) will bilk the nation, the globe, the resources until a future is this below, the fighting orangutan’s, a la Homo Psychopithecus!

Alternate text

PETITION TARGETCambodian Ambassador to the United States Chum Sounry

The Phnom Penh Safari zoo in Cambodia showcases disturbing orangutan boxing matches, forcing innocent apes to fight each other in a boxing ring. The animals are also made to ride bikes, hula-hoop, and wear degrading outfits, as shown in numerous TripAdvisor photos.

Orangutans aren’t the only animals abused at this zoo: tigers jump through flaming hoops and cower in fear of trainers’ electric prods; crocodiles are hit with sticks and have their mouths taped shut for selfie opportunities; and elephants are controlled with bullhooks.

The animals appear neglected, too. The tigers are declawed and extremely thinaccording to EARS Asia. And the drinking water is filthy, according to a Khmer Times article that has since been deleted.

Animals do not exist for human amusement. They deserve natural habitats and loving caretakers, not cruel zoos where they’re forced to perform for park-goers.

The abuse must stop. Sign this petition urging Cambodian Ambassador to the United States Chum Sounry to call for an end to all cruel animal performances at the zoo and push for a thorough investigation into the animals’ treatment.

The abusive husband in this loveless marriage of capitalists ruling the roost, writing the narrative, spinning the malignant history, fears the loss of her/his master because that abusive system has turned him/her into a clinging hopey-dopey thing who believes all those decades of oppression will somehow be redefined to allow this shattered individual and collective to lose all self-esteem to the point that we are no longer capable of imagining a life without our parasitic master.

We are collectively servants of those masters who have for centuries plotted and prodded populations into fearing agency, revolution and radical transformation. We are that Disney-fied and Disney-fed collective, and those elites especially, yammering and yammering about the LGBTQA+ minority’s play (Lin-Manuel Miranda), “Hamilton,” being so wonderous and so emblematic of the good of this nation, well, not a one would question the slaver’s role in America — a slaver, new documents do show that not only was Alexander Hamilton a slave trader for his in-law family, the Schuyler’s, his own account books demonstrate that Hamilton bought, sold and personally owned slaves. But try and have that conversation about Miranda and the elite’s bullshit love of this bullshit play on Fuck-You-Book, or in person (of course, masked up and at least six feet of separation, please, and no more than 8 gathered in an open space, please or else!!!).

I would have expected a few of the people on Fuck-You-And-The-Horse-You-Rode-Into-Town-On BOOK, to nuance the Biden-Harris gig, the bullshit nature of GOP and DNC, and the trillions thrown at the sex addicts and money changers in the billionaire class, while mom and pop, sister and brother, downtrodden and almost-to-be-downtrodden, get shit from Pelosi and Mitch, but instead, the Collective Stockholm Syndrome of the liberal lite kind has just plummeted our 2021 into the new normal of following more anti-civil rights and anti-free speech and anti-freedom of movement laws backed by thousand-dollar fines, the fuzz with their assault rifles and, well, the GIANT Scarlet Letter A for, well, fill in the blank of anti- as prefix. You get expelled from Zoom Doom school, get cut from the team, get sacked, get ostracized, and get kicked to the curb if you dare question narratives of the ruling class. Dare to question this science (sic) versus that science. You know, that is the mob mentality of America, whether it is in the village square burning heretics, or on the greasy grass mowing down dancers and drummers. We are in a Little Bighorn, and the Big-Small-wannabe Eichmann’s are there, mostly, in places of “authority,” the elites, the nanny governors and their cadre of pencil neck followers, the compliant ones, the ones who follow order, those who say LGBTQA+, but are hope-dopey Stockholm Syndrome sufferers of the major kind, creating dictate after dictate.

You can’t even talk about small businesses closing. Can’t talk about the renter and mortgage class (sic) sticking it and sticking it and resticking it to the masses. Imagine this fucked up Corona World, where stupidity and no-deep questioning rule. Can you imagine scum bucket governors from red and blue states, yammering and yammering.

There is no plan for the resettling in and after Plan-demic. But there is that Fourth Industrial Revolution, the big plans by big tech, and the Google world and the economies of scale of the Amazon-kind variety and the satellites launched at sunset and the Elon Musks and the entire shit-show that is Forbes and Rockefeller and Council on Foreign Affairs, the Aspen Institute, the Federalist Society, the Family, the TED Talk crews, all of them, from QAnon to the Tweets, and everything in between, it is the world of the ACTIVE Shooter, and duck and cover, the name of one generation’s game, and now, the slave master will say, “All Money, All Movements, All Things” will and must be on a digital platform. Passports from Hell to Enter a New Hell. No Travel Unless Eyes Are Scanned and Vaccination Record Checked.

Somehow, that has been the pathway of the elites, from Holly-Dirt, to the schools, to the drone programs at two-bit community colleges, to the food purveyors. We have colonized each generation, and the baselines of old hopes — agency, real food, real relationships with people-land-planet, real debate, real learning, real arguing, real water, real air, real art, real feelings, real history, real enfranchisement, real conversations — that too has been put on Red Flag Active Shooter hold. Deep Sixed.

Conversations and philosophical constructions and deconstructions are put on hold as the majority of people in the United Snakes of BlackRock, well, they talk about “things” as bifurcated nonsense, politics, histrionics, heliographs, shit shows and PT Barnum One-Upping Scams of the Mind and of the Culture.

I love what John Steppling has to say in the front of his essay, The Mechanical Soul:

One of the reasons I keep writing about AI is that the entire construct of an artificial intelligence has become both a symbol and metaphor for contemporary thought, and, is part of this ongoing reshaping of human consciousness.

I admit I am surprised how many people believe in the entire project of AI. Clearly it holds something very appealing that people WANT to believe in. And a key element in this is the idea of predictability. And predicting means controlling. So, in one sense, there is nothing new in this desire to foretell the future.

Now the first problem when discussing “consciousness” is that finding a definition for that word is nearly impossible.

“Moreover, the explicit dualistic beliefs of children in Western cultures get less strong with age (Bering 2006). This suggests that dualism is the default setting of the folk-psychological system, which gets weakened by cultural input in scientific cultures—at least at the level of explicit verbal expression—rather than depending on such input (Riekki et al.2013;Willard & Norenzayan 2013; Forstmann & Burgmer 2015). Indeed, dualist intuitions are prevalent in both children and adults, even in cultures whose norms discourage overt attention to mental states, albeit becoming weaker as a function of exposure to Western education (Chudek et al.2018).” –Peter Carruthers (Human and Animal Minds)

With Facebook and Twitter and even consumption of the low art of Netflix and everything on the Internet, that is, almost all of it on the Web, we are losing the race for dualistic beliefs, of holding many counter-arguments in our brains, and even just considering counter-intuitive things. But, the news, the real news, should send shudders down any human’s spine — Bend, Oregon, on the frigid east side of the Cascade Range, is currently without a warming shelter, largely due to complaints by rich residents about a location. Early Tuesday morning, the body of Dave Melvin Savory, 57, a homeless double amputee, was found slumped against a dumpster outside a Rite Aid pharmacy.

Finally, of course, any real leftist would be cheering the defeat and dethroning of any ruler of the empire. Christ, just watching both sides of the sewer pond is what a revolutionary would hope for. Trump defeated and his slim-balls and himself slipping and sliding in their own shit, that is a good day to be a human being. And, the end of Biden and Harris and all the hit men he and she are hiring on for the Biden-Harris Empire Shit Show, that too will be a very good day for humanity.

Something About Heads on Pikes and All Chained up in the Docks? Banned on Facebook.

America’s Active Shooters!!!

One-time rival Senator Kamala Harris backs Joe Biden for president | amNewYork
Oh Say Can You See by the Dawn’s Early Covid Lockdown…
Pope Francis offers prayers for President Trump - The Dialog
… and Christian Bombs Bursting in Air while laughing all the way to the bank!

Final Note — Imagine this shit show America, and this blog, and the few things I wrote in it, enough to toss me to the curb. Big Brother and Big Sister, they are all watching. Just this recent new job, I was told by a person in the nonprofit involved in hiring me that “I Googled you . . . I had to really get beyond that to think, ‘there is more to this guy than all that.'” Hmm. Is this the proverbial digital straw that broke the human being’s back?

The post Active Shooter in the Brain first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) work hand in glove – smoothly. Not only are they regularly lending huge sums of money to horror regimes around the world, but they blackmail poor nations into accepting draconian conditions imposed by the west. In other words, the WB and the IMF are guilty of the most atrocious human rights abuses.

You couldn’t tell when you read above the entrance of the World Bank the noble phrase, “Our Dream is World Free of Poverty”. To this hypocrisy I can only add, ”…And we make sure it will just remain a dream.” This says both, the lie and the criminal nature of the two International Financial Institutions, created under the Charter of the United Nations but instigated by the United States.

The front of these institutions is brilliant. What meets the eye are investments in social infrastructure, in schools, health systems, basic needs like drinking water, sanitation – even environmental protection – over all “Poverty Alleviation”; i.e., A World Free of Poverty. But how fake this is today and was already in the 1970’s and 1980’s is astounding. Gradually people are opening their eyes to an abject reality, of exploitation and coercion and outright blackmail. And that, under the auspices of the United Nations. What does it tell you about the UN system? In what hands are the UN? The world organization was created in San Francisco, California, on 24 October 1945, just after WWII, by 51 nations, committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UN replaced the League of Nations which was part of the Peace Agreement after WWI, the Treaty of Versailles. It became effective on 10 January 1920, was headquartered in Geneva Switzerland, with the purpose of disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries, through negotiation diplomacy and improving global welfare. In hindsight it is easy to see that the entire UN system was set up as a hypocritical farce, making people believe that their mighty leaders only wanted peace. These mighty leaders were all westerners; the same that less than 20 years after the creation of the noble League of Nations, started World War II.

*****

This little introduction provides the context for what was eventually to become the UN-backed outgrowth for global theft, for impoverishing nations around the world, for exploitation of people, for human rights abuses and for shoveling huge amounts of assets from the bottom, from the people, to the oligarchy, the ever-smaller corporate elite – the so-called Bretton Woods Institutions.

In July 1944 more than 700 delegates of 44 Allied Nations (allied with the winners of WWII, including the Soviet Union) met at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after WWII. Let’s be sure, this conference was carried out under the auspices of the United States, the self-declared winner of WWII, and from now on forward the master over the financial order of the world – which was not immediately visible, an agenda hidden in plain sight.

The IMF was officially created to ‘regulate’ the western, so-called convertible currencies, those that subscribed to apply the rules of the new gold standard; i.e., US$ 35 / Troy Ounce (about 31.1 grams). Note that the gold standard, although applicable equally to 44 allied nations, was linked to the price of gold nominated in US dollars, not based on a basket of the value of the 44 national currencies. This already was enough reason to question the future system and how it would play out. But nobody questioned the arrangement. Hard to believe, though, that of all these national economists, none dared question the treacherous nature of the gold-standard set-up.

The World Bank, or the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), was officially set up to administer the Marshall Plan for the Reconstruction of war-destroyed Europe. The Marshall Plan was a donation by the United Stated and was named for U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed it in 1947. The plan gave $13.2 billion in foreign aid to European countries that had been devastated physically and economically by World War II. It was to be implemented from 1948 to 1952 which, of course, was much too short a time, and stretched into the early 1960s. In today’s terms the Marshall plan would be worth about 10 times more, or some US$ 135 billion.

The Marshall Plan was, and still is, a Revolving Fund, paid back by the countries in question, so that it could be relent. The Marshall Plan money was lent out multiple times and was therefore very effective. The European counterpart to the World Bank-administered Marshall Fund was a newly to be created bank set up under the German Ministry of Finance, The German Bank for Reconstruction and Development (KfW – German acronym for “Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau”).

KfW, as the World Bank’s European counterpart still exists and dedicates itself mostly to development projects in the Global South, now primarily with funds from the German Government and borrowed from the German and European capital markets. KfW often cooperates on joint projects with the World Bank. Today there is still a special Department within KfW that deals exclusively with Marshall Plan Fund money. These still revolving funds are used for lending to poor southern regions in Europe, and also to prop up Eastern European economies, and they were used especially to integrate former East-Germany into today’s “Grand Germany”.

Two elements of the Marshall Plan are particularly striking and noteworthy. First, the reconstruction plan created a bind, a dependence between the US and Europe, the very Europe that was largely destroyed by the western allied forces, while basically WWII was largely won by the Soviet Union, the huge sacrifices of the USSR – with an estimated 25 to 30 million deaths. So, the Marshall Plan was also designed as a shield against communist Russia; i.e., the USSR.

While officially the Soviet Union was an ally of the western powers, US, UK, and France, in reality the communist USSR was an arch-enemy of the west, especially the United States. With the Marshall Plan money, the US bought Europe’s alliance, a dependence that has not ended to this day – and has, and still is, preventing Europe from establishing normal relations with Russia, even though the Soviet Union disappeared three decades ago. The ensuing Cold War after WWII against the USSR, also all based on flagrant lies, was direct testimony for another western propaganda farce whichm to this day, most Europeans haven’t grasped yet.

Second, the US imposition of a US-dollar based reconstruction fund was not only creating a European dollar dependence, but was also laying the ground work for a singular currency, eventually to invade Europe — what we know today has become the Euro. The Euro is nothing but the foster child of the dollar, as it was created under the same image as the US-dollar.  It is a fiat currency, backed by nothing. The United Europe, or now called the European Union, was never really a union. It was never a European idea, but put forward by US Secret Services in disguise of a few treacherous European honchos. And every attempt to create a United Europe, a European Federation, with a European Constitution, similar to the United States, was bitterly sabotaged by the US, mostly through the US mole in the EU, namely the UK.

The US didn’t want a strong Europe, both economically and possibly over time also militarily (pop. EU 450 million, vs US pop. 330 million; 2019 EU GDP US$ 20.3 trillion equivalent, vs US GDP US$ 21.4 trillion. Most economists would agree that a common currency for a loose group of countries has no future, is not sustainable. There is no common Constitution, thus no common objective, financially, economically and militarily. A common currency is not sustainable in the long run under these unstable circumstances. This is more than visible only 20 years into the Euro. The eurozone is a desperate mess. In comes the European Central Bank (ECB), also a creation inspired by the FED and the US Treasury. The ECB has really no Central Bank function. It is rather a watch dog. Because each EU member country has still her own Central Bank, though with a drastically reduced sovereignty which the eurozone countries conceded to the ECB, without receiving any equivalent rights.

Out of the currently 27 EU members, only 19 are part of the Euro-zone. Those countries not part of the Eurozone; i.e., Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden and more, have preserved their sovereign financial policy and do not depend on the ECB. This means had Greece opted out of the Eurozone when they were hit with the 2008/2009 manufactured “crisis”, Greece would now be well on her way to full recovery. It would not have been subject to the whims and dictates of the IMF, the infamous troika, European Commission (EC), ECB and IMF, but could have chosen to arrange their debt internally, as most debt was internal debt, no need to borrow from abroad.

In a 2015 bailout referendum, the Greek population voted overwhelmingly against the bailout, meaning against the new gigantic debt. However, the then Greek President Tsipras, went ahead as if the referendum had never taken place and approved the huge bailout despite almost 70% of the popular vote against it.

This is a clear indication of fraud, that no fair play was going on. Tsipras and/or his families may have been coerced to accept the bailout – or else. We may never know the true reason why Tsipras sold his people, the wellbeing of the Greek people to the oligarchs behind the IMF and World Bank – and put them into abject misery, with the highest unemployment in Europe, rampant poverty and skyrocketing suicide rates.

Greece may serve as an example on how other EU countries may fare if they don’t “behave” – meaning adhere to the unwritten golden rules of obedience to the international money masters.

This is scary.

*****

And now, in these times of covid, it is relatively easy. Poor countries, particularly in the Global South, already indebted by the plandemic, are increasing their foreign debt in order to provide their populations with basic needs. Or so they make you believe. Much of the debt accumulated by developing countries is domestic or internal debt, like the debt of the Global North. It doesn’t really need foreign lending institutions to wipe out local debt. Or have you seen one of the rich Global North countries borrowing from the IMF or the World Bank to master their debt?  Hardly!

So why would the Global South fall for it? Part corruption, part coercion, and partly direct blackmail. Yes, blackmail, one of the international biggest crimes imaginable, being committed by the foremost international UN-chartered financial institutions, the WB and the IMF.

For example, the whole world is wondering how come that an invisible enemy, a corona virus, hit all 193 UN member countries at once, so that Dr. Tedros, Director General of WHO, declares on 11 March a pandemic – no reason whatsoever since there were only 4,617 cases globally – but the planned result was a total worldwide lockdown on 16 March 2020. No exceptions. There were some countries who didn’t take it so seriously, like Brazil, Sweden, Belarus, some African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania – developed their own rules and realized that wearing masks did more harm than good, and social distancing would destroy the social fabric of their cultures and future generations.

But the satanic deep dark state didn’t want anything to do with “independent” countries. They all had to follow the dictate from way above, from the Gates, Rockefellers, Soroses, et al elite, soon to be reinforced by Klaus Schwab, serving as the chief henchman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Suddenly, you see in Brazil a drastic surge in new “cases”, no questions asked, massive testing, no matter that the infamous PCR tests are worthless, according to most serious scientists – see The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test: How to Mislead All Humanity. Using a “Test” To Lock Down Society (by Pascal Sacré – 5 November 2020)
(only sold and corrupted scientists, those paid by the national authorities, would still insist on the RT-PCR tests). Brazil’s Bolsonaro gets sick with the virus and the death count increases exponentially – as the Brazilian economy falls apart.

Coincidence? Hardly.

In comes the World Bank and/or the IMF, offering massive help mostly debt relief, either as grant or as low interest loans. But with massive strings attached: You must follow the rules laid out by WHO, you must follow the rules on massive testing on vaccination, when they become available, mandatary vaccination – if you conform to these and other country-specific rules, like letting western corporations tap your natural resources, continue privatizing your social infrastructure and services – you may receive, WB and IMF assistance.

Already in May 2020 the World Bank Group announced its emergency operations to fight COVID-19 had already reached 100 developing countries – home to 70% of the world’s population with lending of US$ 160 billion-plus. This means, by today, 6 months later and in the midst of the “Second Wave” the number of countries and the number of loans or “relief’ grants must have increased exponentially, having reached close to the 193 UN member countries. Which explains how all, literally all countries, even the most objecting African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania, among the poorest of the poor, have succumbed to the coercion or blackmail of the infamous Bretton Woods Institutions.

These institutions have no quarrels in generating dollars, as the dollar is fiat money, not backed by any economy – but can be produced literally from hot air and lent to poor countries, either as debt or as grant. These countries, henceforth and for pressure of the international financial institutions, will forever become dependent on the western masters of salvation.  Covid-19 is the perfect tool for the financial markets to shovel assets from the bottom to the top.

In order to maximize the concentration of the riches on top, maybe one or two or even three new covid waves may be necessary. That’s all planned, The WEF has already foreseen the coming scenarios by its tyrannical book Covid-19 – The Great Reset. It’s all laid out. And our western intellectuals read it, analyze it, criticize it, but we do not shred it apart – we let it stand, and watch how the word moves in the Reset direction. And the plan is dutifully executed by the World Bank and the IMF – all under the guise of doing good for the world.

What’s different from the World Bank and IMF’s role before the covid plandemic?  Nothing. Just the cause for exploitation, indebtment, enslavement. When covid came along it became easy. Before then and up to the end of 2019, developing countries, mostly rich in natural resources of the kind the west covets, oil, gold, copper and other minerals, such as rare earths, would be approached by the WB, the IMF or both.

They could receive debt relief, so-called structural adjustment loans, no matter whether or not they really needed such debt. Today these loans come in all names, forms, shapes and colors, literally like color-revolutions, for instance, often as budget support operations.  I simply call them blank checks – nobody controls what’s happening with the money. However, the countries have to restructure their economies, rationalizing their public services, privatizing water, education, health services, electricity, highways, railroads – and granting foreign concessions for the exploitation of natural resources.

Most of this fraud –fraud on “robbing” national resources — passes unseen by the public at large, but countries become increasingly dependent on the western paymasters. People’s and institutional sovereignty is gone. There is always a corrupter and a corruptee. Unfortunately, they are still omni-present in the Global South. Often, for a chunk of money, the countries are forced to vote with the US for or against certain UN resolutions which are of interest to the US. Here we go – the corrupt system of the UN.

And, of course, when the two Bretton Woods organizations were created in 1944, the voting system decided is not one country, one vote as in theory it is in the UN, but the US has an absolute veto right in both organizations. Their voting rights are calculated in function of their capital contribution which derives from a complex formula, based on GDP and other economic indicators. In both institutions the US voting right and also veto right is about 17%. Both institutions have 189 member countries. None of these other countries have a voting right higher than 17%. The EU would have, but they were never allowed by the US to become a country or a Federation.

*****

Covid has laid bare, if it wasn’t already before, how these “official” international, UN-chartered Bretton Woods financial institutions are fully integrated in the UN system – in which most of the countries still trust, maybe for lack of anything better.

Question, however: What is better, a hypocritical corrupt system that provides the “appearance”, or the abolition of a dystopian system and the courage to create a new one, under new democratic circumstances and with sovereign rights by each participating country?

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

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A Dedicated Obsession: Washington’s Continuing Iran Sanctions Regime

One dogma that is likely to persist in US foreign policy during a Biden presidency will be the sanctions regime adopted towards Iran.  Every messianic state craves clearly scripted enemies, and the demonology about the Islamic Republic is not going to go begging.  Elliot Abrahams, the current US special representative for Iran, told Associated Press on November 12 that, “Even if you went back to the (nuclear deal) and even if the Iranians were willing to return … this newly enriched uranium, you would not have solved these fundamental questions of whether Iran is going to be permitted to violate long-term commitments it has made to the world community.”

It is worth pointing out that it was President Donald Trump who proved so itchy to renege on the nuclear deal to begin with.  In May 2018, his administration formally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the long negotiated harvest of the Obama administration in July 2015.  Over the course of 120 days, it re-imposed all previously lifted economic sanctions, including “secondary sanctions” on non-US entities conducting financial or commercial transactions with Iran. A unilateral shredding of Washington’s own undertakings was made while still expecting the mullahs to continue in sweet compliance.

The less than compliant response from Tehran has not made this one of Trump’s finer moments: an abandonment of nuclear limits marked out by the agreement; a resumption of the nuclear program; an increasingly emboldened stance in the Middle East.  According to UN inspectors, Iran’s enriched stockpile currently lies at 2,440 kilograms.  Under the deal, it would have been under 300 kilograms.  All of this took place despite the precipitous fall in oil exports, a decline in currency value and a steep rise in inflation.

Even before the pandemic, human rights organisations were already warning about the broader health implications of a brutal sanctions regime.  As Human Rights Watch explained in an October 2019 report, the consequences of such sanctions “pose a serious threat to Iranians’ right to health and access to essential medicines – and has almost certainly contributed to documented shortages – ranging from a lack of critical drugs for epilepsy patients to limited chemotherapy medications for Iranians with cancer.”

The US State Department and the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control continue to maintain that humanitarian goods, which also covers medicine and medical supplies, are exempt in the sanctions policy.  A rosily inaccurate picture, given the imposition of sanctions on 18 Iranian banks including those entities engaged in financing foods and medicines.  To this comes the added complication of what the US considers “dual use” items: hazmat suits, face shields, oxygen generators, air filters.  Decisions to grant exemptions, the purview of bureaucrats, are tardily made.

The advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic inspired a ghoulish train of thought in the Trump administration.  Easing sanctions to better enable Iran to cope with COVID-19 was never entertained.  Instead, as Djavad Salehi-Isfahani of the Brookings Institute observed, “the US piled on more sanctions, and chose to ignore calls from world leaders, former US diplomats, and the United Nations to ease sanctions.”  Such a bloodthirsty sentiment was captured by the Wall Street Journal in March 2020, whose editors decided that sanctions should continue, despite Iran becoming a pandemic hotspot.  “If American sanctions were the culprit, it might be reasonable to consider lifting them.  But the regime’s incompetence and self-interest are to blame.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif thought differently of it, accusing the US of “medical terrorism” in blunting Tehran’s efforts to access financial resources during the COVID-19 crisis.  Hadi Yazdani, a physician and a member of the reformist Union of Islamic People Party, sports a more nuanced view: US sanctions have well hobbled the government’s pandemic policy, but so has inefficiency and habitual bureaucratic mismanagement.

The dedicatedly nasty sanctions regime encouraged and enforced by the United States is now frustrating efforts in the country to make advance payment to the COVAX facility, created to assist in providing future COVID-19 vaccines to more indigent states.  This will become more pressing, given rising death tolls.  (On November 13, 461 were reported in the state media.)

The rate of COVID-19 infections is also scorching: 11,737 cases over 24 hours from Friday, according to Sima Sadat Lari, a health ministry spokeswoman who has become the regular herald of doom.  She also admitted that various questions on the vaccines remained unanswered, notably in terms of “how effective the vaccine is and for what groups it is more effective.”

During the transition period in US politics, we can expect the Trump administration to be particularly testy about modifying its position on sanctions.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to busy himself with blacklisting Iranian entities.  The Treasury Department, for instance, recently placed a supply chain network on the list, claiming it “facilitated the procurement of sensitive goods, including US-origin electronic components” for an Iranian entity linked to the production of “military communication systems, avionics, information technology, electronic warfare, and missile launchers.”

Pompeo — and in this, he has a few devotees — argues that a return to the nuclear deal would be dotty and dangerous.  “It’s a crazy idea to think that you’re going to get back into a deal that permitted a clean pathway for the Iranians to have a nuclear weapon by which they could terrorize the entire world.”  President-elect Joe Biden, for his part, insists that Iran “must return to strict compliance with the deal.  If it does so, I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”

The statements of the president-elect suggest nothing comforting to health specialists and policy makers bearing witness to the suffering caused by sanctions.  Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy might be abandoned in name, but will continue exerting a haunting influence.  The hawks in the Republican Party will be sharpening their talons, ever watchful of any softening towards Tehran.

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The Conspiracy Against Nuclear Energy: How Big Oil Built the Ecology Movement to Demonize Nuclear Energy Competition

Some skeptical questions

Is nuclear energy safe? What can we do about the waste? What about Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima – don’t they prove that we can’t rely on nuclear reactors? Won’t a tiny amount of radiation kill you? Why are reactors so expensive to build with so many delays? Why don’t we just use renewables? Why don’t we just abandon dirty, wasteful industry and go back to the land?

These are some of the skeptical questions on the minds of progressives and even socialists. In this article I will try to answer them and make the case for a global program to replace fossil fuels with nuclear fuels in the interest of climate change mitigation and human well-being.

A promising start

Until the 1970s nuclear energy was generally recognized as the energy source of the future. Many industrial countries had started installing cheap, clean nuclear power plants to produce electricity. Although only 2% of electricity in the US was produced by nuclear power plants in 1970, they were already seen as an important alternative to the fossil fuel plants that dominated the market. In 1974, the far-sighted French government launched a program to diminish France’s reliance on imported petroleum by constructing nuclear power plants that today account for 75% of France’s electricity production. In the United States, President Eisenhower had in 1956 threatened King Saud of Saudi Arabia with disruption of oil markets by sharing nuclear technology with European countries.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: BIG OIL CREATES FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

The oil industry quickly acted to protect its market share. In 1969 Robert O. Anderson, CEO and founder of Atlantic Richfield Oil, made a gift of $200,000 (half a million today) to David Brower to create Friends of the Earth, which became the leading voice internationally in creating opposition to nuclear energy and spreading inaccurate information about it. Soon the Council on Foreign Relations and the mass media, both of which have ties to the petroleum industry, jumped on the band wagon. Rapidly, a propaganda campaign that exists to this day was put together to denigrate nuclear energy to Big Oil’s benefit. Even Hollywood helped out at a critical moment with the film “China Syndrome”.

The lesson from this bit of history is that we have been had by the same capitalists whose propaganda machine leads us into war, tells us every day that there is no alternative to their insanely anarchic economy, and lies systematically about all the socialist countries. Everything that you think you know about the dangers of nuclear energy is wrong. It is simply the outcome of an advertising campaign that trashes the competition.

WHAT DO NUCLEAR REACTORS DO BETTER THAN FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS?

Nuclear reactors provide clean electricity at a reasonable price. They do not pump pollutants into the air that kill millions of people every year. They do not produce greenhouse gases that aggravate climate change.

By replacing fossil-fueled electrical plants with nuclear, we can eliminate 27% of current US greenhouse gases. As I will explain later, we can’t do that with solar and wind, which require fossil-fueled or nuclear backup plants to cover their down times.

By converting to all electric vehicles, we can eliminate an additional 28% of US greenhouse gases.

By converting to all electric residential and commercial heat we can eliminate most of the 12% of US greenhouse gases from that source.

By satisfying industrial energy needs with nuclear-generated electricity we can eliminate a significant portion of the industry’s 22% contribution to US greenhouse gases.

HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS CONVERSION HAPPEN?

Capitalism cannot do the job

A conversion project of the magnitude described above is beyond the capabilities of the global capitalist economy in its current state of decay. A cut in petroleum product consumption in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the price of oil negative for a while, and it is currently selling below $40/barrel less than production costs for many producers. The first large victim of this relatively minor disturbance has been ExxonMobil, which Dow Jones no longer lists. Imagine the effect on the oil industry, in particular, and capitalist economies in general were a decision to replace petroleum with uranium to become policy. Every oil company would have to write down the value of its assets, oil in the ground and equipment, and rapidly declare bankruptcy. It would be necessary to artificially maintain oil production during the interim period until it is no longer needed.

Not only is private capitalist finance manifestly incapable of supporting projects on this scale, but nor do capitalist priorities – putting return on investment before all else – sufficiently value human well-being to put it before the scramble for profit. Although the US government was once able to launch a program to land a man on the moon, it is politically impossible to launch a similar program to massively convert to nuclear energy as the levers of power are completely compromised by the petroleum industry and the economy would face near certain ruin.

Nuclear power under socialism

However, a socialist economy has massively different priorities and is impervious to the capitalist drive for profits. The first and essential priority of a socialist economy is the betterment of living conditions for all humans. In practice, this means:

  • the elimination of poverty;
  • provide adequate food;
  • clothing;
  • shelter;
  • education;
  • healthcare;
  • transportation; and,
  • safety.

In a planned economy, the active population deliberates on what it needs to accomplish with the material and intellectual resources at hand. We have plenty of examples of this from socialist history.

From its beginning, the Soviet Union created a national healthcare system where none had previously existed. At the same time, its leadership recognized early on that it would be attacked and obliterated by the capitalist powers unless it could create a modern industrial economy and build the weaponry of modern warfare in time. As we know it made the necessary decisions and destroyed the invading German army in WWII.

Early after the revolution, poverty-stricken Cuba decided that literacy was a priority and with the help of its school children virtually eliminated illiteracy in the adult population. Cuba also made it a priority to create a first-class healthcare complex, not only for Cubans, but for any people in the world who need its help. We know what Cuba’s success in this area has done for the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In about 1980 the Chinese Communist Party decided to eliminate absolute poverty. Since then 800 million Chinese have been lifted from the lowest internationally recognized category of poverty, and the last few Chinese citizens will be raised from absolute poverty in 2020. Current projects that the Chinese people are working tt to include achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 and evolving toward a totally socialist economy in 2049, the centenary of the Chinese Revolution. Nuclear energy looms large in the plan to achieve carbon neutrality. The current plan is to increase nuclear electricity production to six times the current level by 2050 – from about 70GW to 400GW.

Never, to my knowledge, has a capitalist economy been able to plan for national goals, nor achieve them, except in war. The best capitalists can do is to plan for individual enterprises, or perhaps even a few related enterprises. Even in a country like Germany, which was well on the way to conversion to full nuclear-generated electricity, opposition capitalists were able to sabotage the plan. Now, German nuclear installations are being shut down and replaced with coal-fired plants.

LET’S REFUTE SOME FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT NUCLEAR ENERGY

What is ?

Radioactivity is the emission, spontaneous or induced, of particles from decaying atomic nuclei. The particles can be electrons, protons, neutrons, ionized light atoms such as helium, photons, neutrinos, or antineutrinos. All these decay products together are called radiation. Some of them are ionizing radiation, since they carry enough energy to knock electrons off atoms as they pass near them. The neutrinos, however, can traverse the entire earth and touch nothing.

Radioactivity is not harmful in small doses

There is a lot of mystery, misunderstanding, and outright obfuscation about radiation. Let us be clear. Radiation, like many other things we encounter in nature — snakes, cyanide, some mushrooms and plants, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) – can kill. This is a good thing. Radiation therapy kills cancers and saves the patient. It can also kill microbes and sterilize surfaces and foods. In large doses it can kill human beings. In small doses it is harmless.

In fact, you are being continuously bombarded with cosmic radiation and you are totally unaware of it. Radiation doses are measured in Sieverts (Sv). At sea level, you absorb about 0.1 micro Sv every hour of every day. At higher altitudes and during air travel, doses can be significantly higher — 2, 4, or even 9 micro Sv/hour. Cosmic rays account for about one tenth of the radiation that you absorb from nature. The rest enter your body from things you breathe in or eat, or things just around where you are. For example, by entering Grand Central Station in New York City, which is made of granite, you increase your radiation dose from the naturally decaying materials in the granite.

In our evolutionary history we have built up a certain degree of immunity

So, why haven’t you already died from radiation poisoning? Every living thing since the beginning of life on Earth has been subjected to all this natural background radiation. Every living species has ancestors who evolved mechanisms to repair radiation damage. Those species that didn’t don’t exist. Our species did. Congratulations to us. As a gift from our evolutionary forebears, we have natural immunity to a certain level of radiation.

How does a nuclear reactor work?

Nuclear reactors cause atomic nuclei to split in a controlled environment. When the nuclei split, they release energy in the form of moving atomic particles (atomic nuclei, protons, neutrons, electrons, etc.). Some of the neutrons go on to induce other nuclei to split. This is called a chain reaction. The other particles dissipate their energy, generating heat as they ionize atoms in the reactor. This heat is used to produce steam to turn electrical turbines. In the future, reactors still in the design stage may be able to perform other tasks such as generating hydrogen, producing reactor fuel, and neutralizing nuclear reactor waste products.

Why nuclear waste is not an uncontrollable danger

The simple truth is that nuclear reactors do not produce very much waste. After some months of operation, the fuel in a reactor is consumed. In order to sustain the reaction, uranium, for example, must be treated so that its fissile isotope, U-235, is concentrated (usually to 3-5%) to provide a sufficient number of targets to sustain the chain reaction.

An isotope is a nucleus with a specific number of neutrons. For example, U-235 has 92 protons, like all the different isotopes of uranium, but has 235-92 or 143 neutrons. Saying that the fuel is consumed means that the concentration of U-235 has fallen below the level necessary to maintain a chain reaction. There are still significant quantities of U-235 in the spent fuel, just not enough to do the job.

Fortunately, the spent rods can be recycled as raw material to produce new fuel rods. Another one of the byproducts of nuclear fission is the element plutonium, which can also be used as fuel in a reactor. At present the United States does not recycle spent nuclear fuel. However, France, the UK, Russia, Japan, and India do. In fact, France recycles waste for several European countries in its facility at La Hague on the Normandy coast. There is a very informative film about the La Hague facility here.

Other byproducts are just waste at our current level of technology. At some future time, they may turn out to be useful. If not, there may one day be reactors that can break them down into harmless material. In the meantime, these byproducts are embedded in glass pellets and stored.

What about nuclear accidents?

Well, there was the accident in 1979 at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, PA. A minor malfunction led, through a series of operator errors, to the partial meltdown of the nuclear core. At one time during the recovery process a small amount of radioactivity, well within the range of background radiation in the region, was released. During 17 years of monitoring, the Pennsylvania Department of Health found no deleterious effects on the health of the 30,000 people who lived near the reactor at the time of the accident. A lot of money was spent cleaning up the damaged reactor, while the other one on the site is in operation, certified until 2034. There is a detailed description of the accident and the aftermath here.

Fukushima: On March 11, 2011, a tsunami damaged three of five nuclear reactors at Fukushima, Japan. The three damaged reactors are a write-off. High levels of radioactivity were released to the environs at the time of the accident, but only insignificant amounts have been released subsequently. The local population was immediately evacuated and has suffered no deleterious effects from the radioactivity. Currently, some residents are being allowed to return. No deaths or injuries occurred due to the accident. A detailed report can be found here.

A great deal of radioactive water, used to cool the damaged reactor cores, has accumulated since the accident. It is stored on site after radioactive contaminants have been removed. One contaminant, tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, remains in the water. the Japanese government plans to dump the water into the ocean at the site. This decision has led to a great deal of adverse press, largely due to ignorance about what the contaminated water contains and the significance of the contaminant.

As tritium spontaneously decays into helium-3, a stable isotope, it emits a low energy electron. This particle can barely penetrate matter, so its ability to ionize, for example, human tissues is nearly negligible. However, in concentrated doses, it can be dangerous. No concentrated doses of tritium are stored at Fukushima. When the water is eventually dumped into the ocean, the tritium will be diluted to the point that the radioactivity will be hardly detectable at exit from the plant’s harbor. Here is an article about the current situation.

Chernobyl: In 1986 a reactor with a flawed design suffered a steam explosion. The accident was exacerbated by the presence of poorly trained staff. Twenty-eight people working at the plant died of acute radiation syndrome (ARS). Nobody off site suffered from ARS; however, some thyroid cancer deaths in people who were children at the time may have occurred.

In the area around Chernobyl 350,000 people were evacuated. Resettlement is ongoing, and it is possible to make tourist visits to the reactor site. A detailed report of the accident and the aftermath can be found here. As a condition for entering the European Union a number of countries have closed their Chernobyl-style reactors.

Nuclear construction projects so often incur cost overruns and delays in the US and Europe, but not everywhere

It is true that nuclear reactor construction in the United States has been plagued for years with cost overruns and long delays. Until recently, I thought that this problem was primarily political. Anti-nuclear activists, I thought, had thrown enough impediments, legal and regulatory, in the way that utilities were hamstrung in their efforts to build new nuclear capacity.

I recently discovered, to my surprise, in an article from Forbes Magazine that my assumption is wrong. It turns out that delays and costs are a problem in the US and Europe, but not in Asia and the Middle East. The article indicates that, according to a MIT study, the problem stems from poor project management:

  • Construction is begun before site design is complete;
  • Insufficiently committed management teams cannot adapt to changing conditions; and,
  • Supplies are unreliable and trained workers are lacking.

This last problem is a direct result of western lack of commitment to installing nuclear power plants in recent decades.

Why regressing to pre-industrial times will not work

What are we trying to achieve as we abandon fossil fuels? Clearly, we want to halt the climate change associated with increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. That said, what kind of society do we want once we no longer depend on fossil fuels?

In advocating in favor of nuclear energy over several decades, I have been struck by a remarkably naïve line of argument. Radical environmentalists sometimes claim that humans are a blight or a cancer on the planet. Our industrial society, they say, is nothing but an assault on Nature, and we must return to a more natural, simple agrarian economy.

This cannot occur, and here is why. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1800, world population is estimated to have been between 800 million and 1.1 billion. Current world population is about 7.8 billion.

That increase in population is due, among other major achievements, to our success in defeating disease and hunger, increasing crop yields, providing safe drinking water, making possible moderately livable urban environments, creating a global division of labor, and neutralizing religious rejection of science and education. By continuing in this direction, world population will soon peak, and before the end of the century it will decrease to about 8.8 billion.

Were we to return to a pre-industrial life, the world population would have to decrease to a billion or fewer people. We cannot do that in a humane way. Furthermore, why would we want to?

Pre-industrial societies suffered from high infant mortality, for example. We would not be able to provide the energy-intense health environment to maintain current low infant mortality rates. We would not be able to maintain highly energy-intensive production of medications for otherwise mortal diseases for people of all ages. Life expectancy would severely decline. We would not be able to produce fertilizers and pesticides that protect crops and increase their quantity and quality. Famine would become commonplace, as it always has been in pre-industrial societies. We would have to abandon the use of electricity production, which depends on energy-intensive materials such as steel for both generation and transmission equipment. In any real and politically acceptable sense, there is no way to go back to a not so idyllic pre-industrial past. That leaves us the imperative to work out the political and technical means to achieve a sustainable industrial future.

Why wind and solar energy are not enough

In fact, there is not a single solar, wind, biomass or other “renewable” energy source capable of matching the power density that nuclear reactors provide. That means that any of these “green” options gobble up vast amounts of the earth’s surface simply for energy production, leaving less space available for, say, agriculture or natural habitats. What are the numbers? The best we can hope for is desert solar photovoltaic farms, which can produce electricity at the rate of up to 20W/m². By contrast, both nuclear and fossil fueled plants achieve outputs in excess of 1000W/m² — at least 50 times more power density than the best-case green solution. In practice, this means that some countries like Germany and the UK would need to cover half their area in wind turbines to supply energy at current consumption rates. Other industrial countries, Japan and South Korea, are too small to supply their own electricity needs. Both nuclear and fossil fuels can easily meet the density constraint, and nuclear energy meets it without greenhouse gas emissions.

There is no need to invoke the effects on the environment of massive electricity generation from low intensity solar and wind farms. Nor need we critique the short mean time between failures of these technologies, their short life span or the significant pollution problems caused by disposal of failed equipment.

CONCLUSION

In this article, I focus on the energy needs for a sustainable industrial future. Two criteria suffice to determine how to go forward:

  • We will need to be able to guarantee stable base-line electricity production for both home and industrial/commercial needs; and,
  • We will need to provide high temperature process heat for industry.

Today baseline electricity comes from a mix of fossil fueled generators (coal, oil, natural gas), hydroelectric facilities, and nuclear fueled reactors. To achieve sustainability, we will need to remove fossil fuels from this mix. Electricity generated by direct solar and wind energy cannot fill that gap. Quite simply, they are, and always will be, unreliable. When the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing, electricity production stops.

Process heat is today provided both by fossil fuels and electricity. For example, iron and steel production require high temperatures to purify and manipulate the final product. Both glass and ceramics require high temperature ovens. Production often continues around the clock and furnaces can be damaged or destroyed if the internal temperature drops. Because neither solar nor wind powered generators can meet this constraint, they are unsuitable.

In some cases, furnaces heated with fossil fuels can be replaced with electrical furnaces. Nuclear reactors are currently used as well. For information about this technology see this article.  In short, nuclear energy can replace fossil fuels both generating reliable base-line electricity and producing industrial process heat.

The upshot of our history of nuclear accidents is that they are uncommon, but can cost the utility owner a lot of money, and they rarely cause radiation injuries. The more we use nuclear reactors, learn from mistakes, and improve them, the fewer accidents will occur and the less significant they will be. That is the general history of the development of any technology. Consider, for example, what has occurred with automobiles and airplanes.

Remember Ford’s Model T? Probably not. You would likely have been terrified to ride in one. There were no seat belts or air bags. The windows were not shatter proof. There were hardly any paved roads. The steering wheel and front axle were held on with cotter pins! To complete the picture of how vehicle safety has improved as the technology evolved, look at the chart “Deaths and MV rates” here. The point is that for any technology, the same thing happens. As it is introduced, innovations make it work better with less danger to people who depend on it.

One word about airplane evolution: Charles Lindberg crossed the Atlantic with no navigation system other than the seat of his pants.

People often fear novelty and are easily manipulated to reject it. When I see the fear-mongering that the anti-nuclear movement carries out, I am reminded of an editorial in the New York Times. At the time of the debate about electrification in New York City, the Times ran a fear-mongering editorial claiming that power lines would collapse in the first storm, leaving electrocuted horses in the streets. No comment.

REFUTING FRIENDS OF THE EARTH PROPAGANDA ABOUT NUCLEAR ENERGY  

Now that we have explained what nuclear energy is all about, let’s see what Friends of the Earth says today, half a century after it was created to crush the nuclear power industry.

After 60 years, despite massive subsidies, the nuclear industry is dying of its own accord.

— Not true. It is flourishing in Asia and provides much of the electricity in Western Europe.

Because it’s too expensive, too dangerous and dirty, and takes too long to deploy. 

— Not true. If you have read this article diligently, you can refute Friends of the Earth and their friends.

Reactors are closing across the country, and major corporations have declared bankruptcy.

— Misleading. Despite efforts of the petroleum industry and its allies like Friends of the Earth who have done everything they could to sabotage the nuclear power industry, nuclear reactors have supplied about 20% of US electricity since the late 80s. In order to do so, more reactors have had to come online to maintain that level as electricity demand has increased. Without The petroleum industry’s sabotage, nuclear reactors would probably provide an even greater proportion electricity today.

Nuclear power simply cannot compete against safer, cleaner and cheaper renewable energy.

— Not true. Nuclear power doesn’t need a backup energy source for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. In fact, nuclear energy provides the backup, when it isn’t a fossil fuel burning plant.

Nuclear power is also expensive.

— Not true. Whole countries depend on nuclear energy to supply their electricity. Some even sell their excess electricity to their neighbors at competitive prices.

Nuclear’s subsidies have been buried in hundreds of spending bills, it’s [sic] costs externalized to the environment and future generations, and its bills literally unpaid, defaulted on or passed to taxpayers. Conservative estimates suggest that the nuclear industry has received more than $85 billion in subsidies. A centrist estimate might double that.

— So what? Go find out how much the petroleum industry receives in subsidies.  Spoiler alert: Lots. This is a feature of a capitalist economy that applies to every industry, even pork.

For 60 years, nuclear power has posed a serious risk to people and our planet.

— Not true. Friends of the Earth is confusing nuclear with the fossil fuel industries, whose pollution kills millions of people every year. Review the discussion of nuclear accidents.

It will be the same for the next 10,000 years. Our children and generations of their children will be forced to endure the radioactive pollution and fallout from devastating accidents like 3 Mile Island, Fukashima [sic] and Chernobyl, and the permanent waste that no one can safely store.

— Not true. Review the section on nuclear waste storage and recycling of nuclear fuel. Then take a guided tour to Chernobyl.

The risks of nuclear proliferation and the spread of dangerous weapons and technology only adds to this.

Partially true. Nuclear proliferation is a byproduct of capitalist warfare. Nuclear fuel cannot be used for nuclear weapons since the concentration of radioactive material is far too low. If capitalist nations want to build atomic bombs, they won’t use reactor fuel; they will directly enrich the materials they need.

This whole screed from the Friends of the Earth website reminds me of advertising. One soap manufacturer insinuates that his competitor’s product leaves a ring around your collar. If you are naïve enough to fall for it, you buy his product. At the beginning of this article, we reviewed the role of Robert O. Anderson, CEO of Atlantic Richfield Oil, in providing the money to create Friends of the Earth. He gave about half a million current dollars for this advertising campaign in 1969. Boy, has he gotten his money’s worth!

• First published in Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post The Conspiracy Against Nuclear Energy: How Big Oil Built the Ecology Movement to Demonize Nuclear Energy Competition first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Confronting Bipartisan Repression and the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination Beyond Election Day

Chaos, violence, legal challenges, voter suppression and party suppression all culminated in the pathetic display of democratic degeneration on Election Day. After two decades of losing wars, plus the economic collapse of 2008, the response to COVID-19, and now the election debacle, if there were any doubts the U.S. is a morally exhausted empire in irreversible decline, they would have been erased with yesterday’s anti-democratic spectacle.

Democratic Party propagandists and “frightened” leftists are desperate. They tell their supporters and the public that the republic will not survive another term of Donald Trump. They point to his despicable, racist descriptions of undocumented migrant workers from Mexico; his characterization of some global South nations; his misogyny; his crude and obvious white supremacy; his authoritarian proclivities; and his pathological dishonesty—among his many character flaws—as reasons why he must be stopped.

However, for those of us who have been historically subjected to the colonial fascism that is the U.S. settler project, the liberal-left argument that the Trump regime represents some fundamental departure from previous administrations that were equally committed to white power and that he is an existential threat (to whom, we are not clear) remains unpersuasive.

As the Biden and Trump drama plays out, we ask from our experiences some simple questions on what might happen when a victor emerges:

  • Will either candidate really have the ability to restore the millions of jobs lost during the current economic crisis?
  • Will the illegal subversion of Venezuela and Nicaragua stop, and the blockade of Cuba end?
  • Will the prison-industrial complex that is housing ten of thousands of the Black and Brown economically redundant be closed?
  • Will the charges be dropped against Edward Snowden and the extradition demand for Julian Assange end?
  • Will Gaza continue to be the largest open-air prison on the planet?
  • Will the U.S. reverse its decision to deploy new intermediate-range missiles that will be equipped with nuclear warheads targeting Russia in Europe and China in the Asia-Pacific?
  • Will the Saudi and Obama-originated war on Yemen end?
  • Will the U.S. settler-colonial state really defund the police and the military?

What is this “new fascism” the latte-left talks about? What is this “existential threat”? For most of us, the threat has always been existential. When colonial Nazism that was inspired by the U.S. Jim Crow South was applied in Europe—with its violence and racism—it was only then that it took on a different moral and political characterization.

The racist French government launches a domestic terror campaign against Muslims in the country, while they are not bombing Africans in Africa and overthrowing their governments. The European Union gives a human rights award to a political opposition in Venezuela that burns Black people alive because those Black people are seen as Maduro supporters. Meanwhile, NATO, the military wing of U.S. and European white supremacy, expands into South America to support the Monroe Doctrine that morally justifies U.S. regional domination. But fascism is coming to the U.S., they cry!

For those of us who reside in the colonized spaces of empire, leading with uncritical emotionalism as we confront and attempt to deal with the Trump phenomenon, is a self-indulgent diversion we cannot afford. That is because, for us, the consequences truly are life threatening.

In occupied Palestine, Venezuela, Yemen, the South-side of Chicago, Haiti, the concentration camps for Indigenous peoples called “reservations,” as well as “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana, our survival depends on seeing this violent, barbarian behemoth for what it is. We must have no sentimental delusions about the difference between the governance of either of the two ruling class-dominated parties.

For us, both parties are ongoing criminal enterprises that are committed to one thing and one thing only: Ultimately serving the interests of the capitalist ruling class—by any means necessary!

It is in that commitment that we, the colonized, the excluded, the killable, who experience the murderous sanctions that deny us food and life preserving medicines, the killer cops who slowly snuff out our lives with their knee on our necks, the deadly military attacks on our nations, destroy our ancient nations and turn us into refugees, the subversion of our political systems, the theft of our precious resources, and the literal draining of the value of our lives through the super-exploitation of our labor.

For us, we ask, what will be the difference if Biden wins? Wasn’t Biden part of the administration that conspired with the Department of Homeland Security and Democratic mayors to repress the Occupy movement once it became clear the movement could not be co-opted?

Didn’t Obama place Assata Shakur as the first woman on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list and increase the bounty on her head? A recent release of FBI documents revealed it was during the Obama-Biden years that the “Black Identity Extremist” label was created.

The illegal subversion of Venezuela began with Bush, but intensified under Obama. The sanctions slapped on that country—that were expanded under Trump—have resulted in tens of thousands of innocent people dying from lack of medicines. It was the Obama-Biden administration that decided to devote over $1 trillion to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade.

Democratic and Republican strategists support the white supremacist NATO structure, the “Pivot to Asia,” and the insane theory being advanced by military strategists, who are wargaming a nuclear “first-strike” strategy against Russia and China that they believe can be successful in destroying those countries’ intercontinental ballistic missiles while the missiles are still in their launchers. That is why the Trump administration pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and has so far failed to renew the START nuclear treaty with Russia, scheduled to end in February 2021.

Not being confused by the liberal framework that advances a cartoonish understanding of fascism that Trump’s bombastic theatrics evokes in the public imagination, it is clear the threat of increased authoritarianism, the use of military force, repression, subversion, illegal sanctions, theft, and rogue state gangsterism is on the agenda of both capitalist parties in the U.S. and the Western European colonizer states.

No matter who sits in the white peoples’ house after the election, we will have to continue to fight for social justice, democracy, and People(s)-Centered Human Rights.

It is important to re-state that last sentence because the left in the U.S. is experiencing extreme anxiety with the events around the election. They want and need to have order, stability and good feelings about their nation again. But for those of us from the colonized zones of non-being, anything that creates psychological chaos, disorder, delegitimization, disruption of the settler-colonial state and demoralization of its supporters is of no concern for us.

Unlike the house slave who will fight harder than the Massa to put out the flames in the plantation house, we call to the ancestors to send a strong breeze.

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Criminally Responsible Americans Vote for Commander of Their Worldwide Genocidal Killing Machine

The good people of the 3rd World should not let themselves be taken in by worldwide satellite beamed CIA-fed media prattling on continuously about American democracy during ongoing presidential elections. Sadly, Americans are duped into participating  in elections that back crimes against humanity ordered by the ruling genocidal Wall St. plutocracy which militarily and financially plunders 3rd World humanity and corrupts American society.

A great many Americans voting believe the lies their criminal corporate media pours out daily, and are therefore gung-ho proud of Americans killing media-designated ‘bad guys” all around the world. These completely fooled Americans are happy to vote for the next commander-in-chief, but a substantial amount of Americans voting know they have been frightened into voting for what they hope is the lesser of two evils and are unhappy with what they feel is a mockery of the so called democratic process that has them voting for a choice that still represents evil.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, once the highest law officer of the USA, who helped write both important civil rights laws, speaks to his fellow Americans clearly, and meant that all the world should know this truth.

We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy: a government by the wealthy.

One of the most internationally powerful plutocrats in US history, John Pierpont Morgan, in a candid moment admitted:

Of all forms of tyranny the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of plutocracy.

The well respected third president of the USA, Thomas Jefferson, saw the plutocracy coming when he said:

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

Already in 1922, USA’s most famous economist Thorstein Veblen wrote:

The current situation in America is by way of being something of a psychiatrical clinic...Perhaps the commonest and plainest evidence of an unbalanced mentality is to be seen in a certain fearsome and feverish credulity with which a large proportion of Americans are affected…. There is a visible lack of composure and logical coherence, both in what they will believe and in what they are ready to do about it.

Veblen assumed depression to  be the normal condition  in a business-enterprise economy, to be relieved in periods of excitation caused by stimuli not intrinsic to the system like war and expansion abroad. Veblen saw the modern business leader as essentially a latter-day predatory warrior.1

Veblen’s observation is born out by Americans always having been willing to follow criminal orders and bomb, invade and occupy other people’s lands the world over.

Paul Craig Roberts, former editor of the Wall Street Journal, and Undersecretary of the Treasury under President Reagan, in his article, The Looting Machine Called Capitalism, wrote,

Americans are the least exceptional people in human history. Americans have no rights at all. We hapless insignificant beings have to accept whatever capitalists and their puppet government impose on us. And we are so stupid we call it ‘Freedom and Democracy America.’

Americans today are wildly mesmerized in avid interest in who will be president for the next four years. However, given the continual American wars in smaller countries and perpetual ramped up fear of nuclear Armageddon, it’s obviously of some greater significance who will serve as Commander-in-Chief of the American worldwide genocidal killing machine, because whether Americans realize it or not, they, each citizen, has a portion of citizen co-responsibility for the crimes of their fellow Americans ‘serving’ as soldiers following criminal, and therefore illegal, orders.

Those Americans voting, who believe the lies their criminal corporate media pours out daily and are therefore gung-ho proud of Americans killing media-designated ‘bad guys” everywhere and anywhere, believe US democracy makes them and all Americans to be above the law — above all law. On the other hand, that substantial amount of Americans voting, who know they have been frightened into voting for what they hope is the lesser of two evils, are well aware of their tacit complicity in the crimes against humanity in other people’s countries. Some more modest amount of Americans voting, or refusing to vote, realize that they have already been prosecuted in the court of public opinion and in the hearts of parents of children blown to pieces or starved to death by the actions of Americans. Hopefully, this is what people overseas, especially in nations under American attack, understand.

At the same time a multitude of Americans vote, other Americans have been fueling, arming and target selecting for the Saudi airstrikes for five years. Already back in November 2017, Save the Children reported that 130 children were dying every day, with 50,000 children already believed to have died in 2017. The U.N. officials said more than 20 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of urgent assistance, with 7 million totally dependent on food assistance. The U.N. has called it the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”

US CIA controlled media is so sure of the headlock it has on the American public, its mainstream media can even inform of Yemeni children dying from bombs and starvation knowing its captive audience will not turn against their American killing machine. Even the most eye-rebounding photos  published in wars supporting New York Times Yemen Girl Who Turned World’s Eyes to Famine Is Dead (Published 2018) and seen on PBS television channels did not put a dent in American solidarity with its government’s and military’s genocidal actions in Yemen – prosecutable genocidal crimes against humanity.

During the current presidential election campaign criminal war promoting news and entertainment networks are making no mention of President Trump’s veto of a bipartisan Congressional resolution that would have forced an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s civil war in Yemen a year-and-a-half ago.

In One American Ear and Out the Other

In 2008, for two weeks the major networks telecasted as humorous, Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s cry, his finger pointed to the sky, “God bless America? No, no, God damn America for her crimes against humanity!”

In 2012, prime time news during the Republican debates of presidential candidates, candidate Rep. Ron Paul was heard denouncing “all US bombings and invasions beginning with those in Korea as illegal, unconstitutional and a horrific loss of human life.”

But nothing seems to effect a change in American dedication to their military and its military’s heritage (of gore, death and destruction).

American film maker Michael Moore castigates his fellow Americans as“sick and twisted violent people that we’ve been for hundreds of years, it’s something that’s just in our craw, just in our DNA. Americans kill people, because that’s what we do. We invade countries. We send drones in to kill civilians.”

In one American ear and out the other.

Martin Luther King made bold headlines in newspapers throughout the world with, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my government. In Vietnam we may have killed a million already, mostly children.” King cried out, “Silence is treason!” but at home extremely few Americans spoke out in agreement,  many spoke against him, most were silent, and King was shot to death within the year.

This archival research peoples historian activist is convinced that no change will be coming from anywhere in the American led First World, especially now as it is hard pressed losing its hegemony to a future multipolar world with China’s economy now the largest.

Some of us work to somehow make this Americans killing millions of children come to be a topic of conversation in the Third World for the children’s lives that could be saved once enough people became enraged enough to demand prosecution and justice.

Once USA-EU loses world economic hegemony and can no longer sanction, the many nations that have seen their children murdered by Americans and their European allies will demand justice in the courts of a reconstituted and reorganized democratic United Nations. In the meantime let’s have faith that the astounding intelligence witnessed in the miraculous achievements in outer and inner space will eventually manifest itself in ending the five centuries of European and American genocide for money and power.

  1. Thorstein Veblen, Douglas Dowd, 1966.

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