Charter School Corruption Will Increase In 2022

While corruption and fraud have been widespread and relentless in the charter school sector for several decades, both appear to be increasing with each passing year.1  The year 2022 promises to bring even more corruption and scandal to this crisis-prone sector that is rapidly undermining public schools and lowering the level of education in society.

As the economy continues to decline, as democracy and accountability further deteriorate, and as the private profit motive remains center-stage, major owners of capital will become more desperate, reckless, and greedy in their quest for profits. They will become more emboldened to dictate affairs with even greater force and impunity. In many states powerful forces behind privately-operated charter schools are increasingly using the state to create new non-public entities or mechanisms that can quickly and unilaterally override democratic decisions made by mayors, voters, or elected bodies such as public school boards when they reject charter school applications or decide to close a corrupt or failing charter school. If they do not like a decision rendered by elected public officials, or even a judge, the rich and their representatives will rapidly circumvent it or overrule it no matter how damaging or unconstitutional such a decision is. Neoliberals and privatizers will not tolerate any democratic pro-social decisions that interfere with their antisocial aim to create more pay-the-rich schemes like privately-operated charter schools, which is why charter schools are continually multiplying despite more and more damning and indicting evidence against them. Major owners of capital are determined to preserve their class privilege and have no interest in a modern public education system. To fool the gullible, they will continue to over-promise and under-deliver.

In this context, it is more critical to expose and oppose school privatization, while also stepping up efforts to defend public education and the public interest.

A useful tool in this regard is the newly-improved Charter School Scandals website organized by the Network for Public Education. The public can use the website to obtain more granular state-by-state information about various crimes and scandals in the charter school sector. While the updated site contains links to endless old and recent news articles exposing different crimes and scandals in nonprofit and for-profit charter schools coast to coast, it does not come close to collating all the disturbing news on charter schools, partly because a lot of bad news on charter schools never even makes it to the news. Suffice it to say, probably no other sector or institution in society comes close to having the volume of corruption and fraud found in the charter school sector, which does not even make up 7% of schools in the country.

To be sure, more individuals and organizations will take on the social responsibility of opposing charter schools in 2022 because social consciousness of long-standing problems in the charter school sector is increasing and more people are realizing that neoliberals and privatizers are driven by maximizing profit with greater avarice and impunity. The fact that privatization increases corruption and violates the public trust is not lost on many.

There is an alternative to school privatization and the suppression of the public interest by narrow private interests. People can and must create spaces to discuss all the affairs that concern them. They can represent themselves and put forward their own views and demands on what is needed to advance education and society. No one is under any obligation to accept any of the retrogressive ideas and arrangements embraced by the rich and their entourage. The crisis in education and society cannot be overcome by further privileging private interests over the public interest.

  1. For endless reports and articles documenting charter school corruption in detail, search for “charter school corruption” here.
The post Charter School Corruption Will Increase In 2022 first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fauci Goes There: Finally Admits Kids Not Being Hospitalized From COVID

undefined

For the past 18 months we've reported how a large percentage of those 'hospitalized with Covid' were actually admitted for other ailments, only to test positive after admission during routine screening - meaning 'Covid hospitalizations' for the purposes of policymaking (and fear mongering) were vastly overstated in many (if not most) cases.

Public health officials have largely avoided this important distinction, while pushing the false narrative over hospitalizations - until now.

In a Thursday appearance on MSNBC, America's top Covid official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, admitted to a distinction between the number of children hospitalized with Covid as opposed to "because of Covid."

"And what we mean by that: If a child goes into the hospital, they automatically get tested for COVID and they get counted as a COVID-hospitalized individual, when, in fact, they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that. So it’s over counting the number of children who are, quote, hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID," said Fauci.
Fauci - whose comments come after a record surge of children in the US having been "hospitalized with Covid" - was slammed by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who tweeted: "Now Fauci says this?" adding "Is this because pandemic politics have changed for the Biden admin?" (h/t Fox News)
And of course, despite Fauci's admission, he still recommends that parents vaccinate children, telling NewsNations's "Morning in America" that while it's true that "the numbers are very low," parents have to consider that "when it's your child, it's a very high number."

So - an appeal to emotion by 'the science' in order to get kids jabbed.

Reprinted with permission from ZeroHedge.

The Covid narrative is insane and illogical…and maybe that’s no accident

undefined

“Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense.” George Orwell, 1984

The “Covid pandemic” narrative is insane. That is long-established at this point, we don’t really need to go into how or why here. Read our back catalogue.

The rules are meaningless and arbitrary, the messaging contradictory, the very premise nonsensical.

Every day some new insanity is launched out into the world, and while many of us roll our eyes, raise our voices, or just laugh…many more accept it, believe it, allow it to continue.

Take the situation in Canada right now, where the government has enforced a vaccine mandate on healthcare workers, meaning in British Columbia alone over 3000 hospital staff were on unpaid leave by November 1st.

How have local governments responded to staff shortages?

They are asking vaccinated employees who have tested positive for Covid to work.

Whether or not you believe the test means anything, they notionally do. In the reality they try to sell us every day, testing positive means you are carrying a dangerous disease.

So they are requesting people allegedly carrying a “deadly virus” work, rather than letting perfectly healthy unvaccinated people simply have their jobs back.

This is insanity.

But could anything more perfectly illustrate the priorities of those running the game?

We already know it’s not about a virus, it’s not about protecting the health service and it’s not about saving lives. Every day the people running the “pandemic” admit as much by their actions, and even their words.

Rather, it seems to be about enforcing rules that make little to no sense, requiring conformity at the price of reason, drawing arbitrary lines in the sand and demanding people respect them, making people believe “facts” that are provably untrue.

But why? Why is the story of Covid irrational and contradictory? Why are we told on the one hand to be afraid, and on the other that there is nothing to be afraid of?

Why is the “pandemic” so completely insane?

You could argue that it’s simple happenstance. The by-product of a multi-focused evolving narrative, a story being told by a thousand authors all at once, each concerned with covering their own little patch of agenda. A car with multiple drivers fighting over a single steering wheel.

There’s probably some truth to that.

But it’s also true that control, true control, can only be achieved with a lie.

In clinical psychology one of the diagnostic signs of the psychopath is that they tell elaborate lies, compulsively. Many times they will tell a lie even if the truth would be more beneficial.

Nobody knows why they do this, but I have a theory, and it applies to the swarming groups of little rat minds running the sewers of power as much as it does any individual monstrosity.

If you want to control people, you need to lie to them, that’s the only way to guarantee you have power.

Fair use excerpt. Read the whole article here.

Britain helped create the refugees it now wants to keep out

The deaths of at least 27 people who drowned as they tried to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy in search of asylum have quickly been overshadowed by a diplomatic row engulfing Britain and France.

As European states struggle to shut their borders to refugees, the two countries are in a war of words over who is responsible for stopping the growing number of small boats trying to reach British shores. Britain has demanded the right to patrol French waters and station border police on French territory, suggesting that France is not up to the job. The French government, meanwhile, has blamed the UK for serving as a magnet for illegal workers by failing to regulate its labour market.

European leaders are desperate for quick answers. French President Emmanuel Macron called an emergency meeting of regional leaders a week ago to address the “migration” crisis, though Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel, was disinvited.

Britain’s post-Brexit government is readier to act unilaterally. It has been intensifying its “hostile environment” policy towards asylum seekers. That includes plans to drive back small boats crossing the Channel, in violation of maritime and international law, and to “offshore” refugees in remote detention camps in places such as Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic. UK legislation is also being drafted to help deport refugees and prosecute those who aid them, in breach of its commitments under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Not surprisingly, anti-immigration parties are on the rise across Europe, as governments question the legitimacy of most of those arriving in the region, calling them variously “illegal immigrants”, “invaders” and “economic migrants”.

The terminology is not only meant to dehumanise those seeking refuge. It is also designed to obscure the West’s responsibility for creating the very conditions that have driven these people from their homes and on to a perilous journey towards a new life.

Power projection

In recent years, more than 20,000 refugees are estimated to have died crossing the Mediterranean in small boats to reach Europe, including at least 1,300 so far this year. Only a few of these deaths have been given a face – most notably Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian toddler whose body washed up on the Turkish coast in 2015 after he and others in his family drowned on a small boat trying to get to Europe.

The numbers trying to reach the UK across the Channel, though smaller, are rising too – as are the deaths. The 27 people who drowned two weeks ago were the single largest loss of life from a Channel crossing since agencies began keeping records seven years ago. Barely noted by the media was the fact that the only two survivors separately said British and French coastguards ignored their phone calls for help as their boat began to sink.

But no European leader appears ready to address the deeper reasons for the waves of refugees arriving on Europe’s shores – or the West’s role in causing the “migration crisis”.

The 17 men, seven women, including one who was pregnant, and three children who died were reportedly mostly from Iraq. Others trying to reach Europe are predominantly from Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and parts of North Africa.

That is not accidental. There is probably nowhere the legacy of western meddling – directly and indirectly – has been felt more acutely than the resource-rich Middle East.

The roots of this can be traced back more than a century, when Britain, France and other European powers carved up, ruled and plundered the region as part of a colonial project to enrich themselves, especially through the control of oil.

They pursued strategies of divide and rule to accentuate ethnic tensions and delay local pressure for nation-building and independence. The colonisers also intentionally starved Middle Eastern states of the institutions needed to govern after independence.

The truth is, however, that Europe never really left the region, and was soon joined by the United States, the new global superpower, to keep rivals such as the Soviet Union and China at bay. They propped up corrupt dictators and intervened to make sure favoured allies stayed put. Oil was too rich a prize to be abandoned to local control.

Brutal policies

After the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago, the Middle East was once again torn apart by western interference – this time masquerading as “humanitarianism”.

The US has led sanctions regimes, “shock and awe” air strikes, invasions and occupations that devastated states independent of western control, such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. They may have been held together by dictators, but these states – until they were broken apart – provided some of the best education, healthcare and welfare services in the region.

The brutality of western policies, even before the region’s strongmen were toppled, was trumpeted by figures such as Madeleine Albright, former US President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state. In 1996, when asked about economic sanctions that by then were estimated to have killed half a million Iraqi children in a failed bid to remove Saddam Hussein, she responded: “We think the price is worth it.”

Groups such as al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State quickly moved in to fill the void that was left after the West laid waste to the economic and social infrastructure associated with these authoritarian governments. They brought their own kind of occupation, fragmenting, oppressing and weakening these societies, and providing additional pretexts for meddling, either directly by the West or through local clients, such as Saudi Arabia.

States in the region that so far have managed to withstand this western “slash and burn” policy, or have ousted their occupiers – such as Iran and Afghanistan – continue to suffer from crippling, punitive sanctions imposed by the US and Europe. Notably, Afghanistan has emerged from its two-decade, US-led occupation in even poorer shape than when it was invaded.

Elsewhere, Britain and others have aided Saudi Arabia in its prolonged, near-genocidal bombing campaigns and blockade against Yemen. Recent reports have suggested that as many as 300 Yemeni children are dying each day as a result. And yet, after decades of waging economic warfare on these Middle Eastern countries, western states have the gall to decry those fleeing the collapse of their societies as “economic migrants”.

Climate crisis

The fallout from western interference has turned millions across the region into refugees, forced from their homes by escalating ethnic discord, continued fighting, the loss of vital infrastructure, and lands contaminated with ordnance. Today, most are languishing in tent encampments in the region, subsisting on food handouts and little else. The West’s goal is local reintegration: settling these refugees back into a life close to where they formerly lived.

But the destabilisation caused by western actions throughout the Middle East is being compounded by a second blow, for which the West must also take the lion’s share of the blame.

Societies destroyed and divided by western-fuelled wars and economic sanctions have been in no position to withstand rising temperatures and ever-longer droughts, which are afflicting the Middle East as the climate crisis takes hold. Chronic water shortages and repeated crop failures – compounded by weak governments unable to assist – are driving people off their lands, in search of better lives elsewhere.

In recent years, some 1.2 million Afghans were reportedly forced from their homes by a mix of droughts and floods. In August, aid groups warned that more than 12 million Syrians and Iraqis had lost access to water, food and electricity. “The total collapse of water and food production for millions of Syrians and Iraqis is imminent,” said Carsten Hansen, the regional director for the Norwegian Refugee Council.

According to recent research, “Iran is experiencing unprecedented climate-related problems such as drying of lakes and rivers, dust storms, record-breaking temperatures, droughts, and floods.” In October, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies noted that climate change was wreaking havoc in Yemen too, with extreme flooding and an increased risk of waterborne diseases.

Western states cannot evade their responsibility for this. Those same countries that asset-stripped the Middle East over the past century also exploited the resulting fossil-fuel bonanza to intensify the industrialisation and modernisation of their own economies. The US and Australia had the highest rates of fossil fuel consumption per capita in 2019, followed by Germany and the UK. China also ranks high, but much of its oil consumption is expended on producing cheap goods for western markets.

The planet is heating up because of oil-hungry western lifestyles. And now, the early victims of the climate crisis – those in the Middle East whose lands provided that oil – are being denied access to Europe by the very same states that caused their lands to become increasingly uninhabitable.

Impregnable borders

Europe is preparing to make its borders impregnable to the victims of its colonial interference, its wars and the climate crisis that its consumption-driven economies have generated. Countries such as Britain are not just worried about the tens of thousands of applications they receive each year for asylum from those who have risked everything for a new life.

They are looking to the future. Refugee camps are already under severe strain across the Middle East, testing the capacities of their host countries – Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq – to cope.

Western states know the effects of climate change are only going to worsen, even as they pay lip service to tackling the crisis with a Green New Deal. Millions, rather than the current thousands, will be hammering on Europe’s doors in decades to come.

Rather than aiding those seeking asylum in the West, the 1951 Refugee Convention may prove to be one of the biggest obstacles they face. It excludes those displaced by climate change, and western states are in no hurry to broaden its provisions. It serves instead as their insurance policy.

Last month, immediately after the 27 refugees drowned in the Channel, Patel told fellow legislators that it was time “to send a clear message that crossing the Channel in this lethal way, in a small boat, is not the way to come to our country.”

But the truth is that, if the British government and other European states get their way, there will be no legitimate route to enter for those from the Middle East whose lives and homelands have been destroyed by the West.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Britain helped create the refugees it now wants to keep out first appeared on Dissident Voice.

2021 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide Rises Again

US policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean continued in a seamless transition from Trump to Biden, but the terrain over which it operated shifted left. The balance between the US drive to dominate its “backyard” and its counterpart, the Bolivarian cause of regional independence and integration, continued to tip portside in 2021 with major popular electoral victories in Chile, Honduras, and Peru. These follow the previous year’s reversal of the coup in Bolivia.

Central has been the struggle of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America) countries – particularly Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua – against the asphyxiating US blockade and other regime-change measures. Presidential candidate Biden pledged to review Trump’s policy of US sanctions against a third of humanity. The presumptive intention of the review was to ameliorate the human suffering caused by these unilateral coercive measures, considered illegal under international law. Following the review, Biden has instead tightened the screws, more effectively weaponizing the COVID crisis.

Andean Nations

The unrelenting US regime-change campaign against Venezuela has had a corrosive effect on Venezuela’s attempt to build socialism. With the economy de facto dollarized, among those hardest hit are government workers, the informal sector, and those without access to dollar remittances from abroad.

Nonetheless, Venezuela’s resistance to the continued US “maximum pressure” hybrid warfare is a triumph in itself. Recent economic indicators have shown an upturn with significant growth in national food and oil production and an end to hyperinflation. Further, the government has built 3.7 million housing units, distributed food to 7 million through the CLAP program, and adroitly handled the COVID pandemic.

When Trump recognized Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela in 2019, the then 35-year-old US security asset had never run for a nationwide office and was unknown to over 80% of the Venezuelans. Back then some 50 of the US’s closest allies recognized Guaidó; now barely a dozen does so. Contrary to campaign trail inuendoes that Biden would enter into dialogue with the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, Biden has continued the embarrassing Guaidó charade.

The November 21 municipal and regional elections were a double triumph for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution: the ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) won significantly while the extreme right opposition (including Guaidó’s party) was compelled to participate, implicitly recognizing the Maduro government.

Venezuelan special envoy Alex Saab was extradited – really kidnapped – to the US on October 16 on the vague and difficult to disprove charge of “conspiracy” to money launder. Swiss authorities, after an exhaustive 3-year investigation, had found no evidence of money laundering. Saab’s real “crime” was trying to bring humanitarian aid to Venezuela via legal international trade but circumventing the illegal US blockade. This egregious example of US extra-territorial judicial overreach is being contested by Saab’s legal defense because, as a diplomat, he has absolute immunity from arrest under the Vienna Convention. His case has become a major cause in Venezuela and internationally.

Meanwhile, Colombia, chief regional US client state, the biggest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere,  and the largest world source of cocaine, is a staging point for paramilitary attacks on Venezuela. President Iván Duque continues to disregard the 2016 peace agreement with the guerrilla FARC as Colombia endures a pandemic of rightwing violence especially against human rights defenders and former guerillas.

On April 28, Duque’s proposed neoliberal tax bill precipitated a national strike mobilizing a broad coalition of unions, members of indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, social activists, and campesinos. They carried out sustained actions across the country for nearly two months, followed by a renewed national strike wave, starting on August 26. The approaching 2022 presidential election could portend a sea change for the popular movement where leftist Senator Gustavo Petro is leading in the polls.

In Ecuador, Andrés Arauz won the first-round presidential election on February 7 with a 13-point lead over Guillermo Lasso, but short of the 40% or more needed to avoid the April 13 runoff, which he lost. A victim of a massive disinformation campaign, Arauz was a successor of former President Rafael Correa’s leftist Citizen Revolution, which still holds the largest bloc in the National Assembly. The “NGO left,” funded by the US and its European allies, contributed to the electoral reversal. Elements of the indigenous Pachakutik party have allied with the new president, a wealthy banker, to implement a neo-liberal agenda.

In Peru, Pedro Castillo, a rural school teacher and a Marxist, won the presidency in a June 6 runoff against hard-right Keiko Fujimori, daughter of now imprisoned and former president Alberto Fujimori. Castillo won by the slimmest of margins and now faces rightwing lawfare and the possibility of a coup. Just a few weeks into his presidency, he was forced to replace his leftist foreign Minister, Hector Béjar, with someone more favorable to the rightwing opposition and the military.

In Bolivia, a US-backed coup deposed leftist President Evo Morales in 2019 and temporarily installed a rightist. Evo’s Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party successor, Luis Arce, took back the presidency last year in a landslide election. With the rightwing still threatening, a massive weeklong March for the Homeland of Bolivian workers, campesinos, and indigenous rallied in support of the government in late November.

Southern Cone

Brazil has the world’s eighth largest economy world and the largest in Latin America. Rightwing President Jair Bolsonaro has been dismantling social welfare measures, rewarding multinational corporations, and presiding over wholesale illegal mining and deforestation, while the popular sectors protest. Former left leaning President Lula da Silva is strongly favored to win in the October 2, 2022 elections. He was also favored to win in the 2018 presidential election against Bolsonaro but was imprisoned on trumped up charges, preventing him from running.

In Chile, Gabriel Boric won the second round of the Chilean presidential election by a landslide on December 19 against far-right José Antonio Kast, the son of a German Nazi Party member. The 35-year-old Boric was a leader in the huge protests in 2019 and 2020 against corrupt President Sebastian Piñera, who is the richest person in the country. The slogan of the protests was: “If Chile was the birthplace of neoliberalism, then it will also be its graveyard!”

Although the victory is a repudiation of the Pinochet legacy, Boric has also been somewhat critical of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Boric’s libertarian socialist Frente Amplio party rode to victory with major support from the Chilean Communist Party along with center-left forces. Earlier in the year, in a plebiscite to forge a united popular campaign, Communist Daniel Jadue lost to Boric. A Constituent Assembly, where the left won the majority of the delegates in a May election, is currently rewriting the Pinochet-era constitution.

In Argentina, the center-right Together for Change coalition decisively swept the November 13 midterm elections, rebuking the Peronists who have been unable to effectively address high unemployment and inflation.  In 2019, the center-left Peronist Alberto Fernández succeeded rightwing President Mauricio Macri, whose record breaking $50.1 billion IMF loan saddled the people with austerity measures. Prospects are now dim for restructuring of the debt or suspending payments with an opposition majority more intent on discrediting Fernández than addressing the issues.

Caribbean

Candidate Biden had signaled a return to the Obama-Biden easing of restrictions on Cuba. But once in office, Biden intensified the US hybrid war against Cuba. Discontent with critically deteriorating economic conditions erupted in popular demonstrations on July 11, fanned by the US-funded opposition. A repeat effort at a regime-change demonstrations, largely orchestrated by Washington, fizzled on November 15. Biden continues the same illegal policy of regime change against Cuba  as that of the previous twelve US presidents: covert and overt destabilization, blockade, and occupation of Guantánamo.

Despite an economy severely impacted by the pandemic and the tightening of US blockade, Cuba has produced three COVID vaccines with two more in development. More than 90% percent of Cubans are vaccinated, surpassing the US.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit on August 14. Another upheaval has been the nearly continuous popular revolt against US-installed presidents. President Jovenal Moïse, who had ruled by decree after cancelling elections, was assassinated on July 7 in an apparent intra-ruling class squabble. Claude Joseph was installed as interim president for a few days and then replaced by Ariel Henry, with elections still postponed.

Biden deported thousands of emigres back to Haiti. This represented “a disappointing step backward from the Biden administration’s earlier commitments to fully break from the harmful deportation policies of both the Trump and Obama presidencies,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Central America and Mexico

In El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele, formerly associated with the left FMLN party, continued his regression to the right. In response, the Popular Resistance Bloc and other civil society groups staged large protests on September 15 and October 17.

In Honduras, Xiomara Castro, wife of the former President Zelaya, was swept into the presidency by a landslide popular vote on November 28. The slogan of the now triumphant resistance front was: “They fear us because we have no fear.”

In the twelve years since the US-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, the country had devolved into a state where the former president, Juan Orlando Hernández, was an unindicted drug smuggler, the intellectual authors who ordered the assassination of indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres ran free, Afro-descendent people and women were murdered with impunity, gang violence was widespread, and state protection from the pandemic was grossly deficient.

In neighboring Nicaragua, the US called the November 7 presidential election an undemocratic fraud nearly a year in advance as part of a larger regime-change campaign against left-leaning governments. The US claimed that “pre-candidates” were barred from running. However, these individuals had been arrested for illegal activities and were not credible candidates.

In fact, the US has never supported democracy in Nicaragua. US Marines occupied Nicaragua from 1912 to 1934, only leaving after installing the autocratic Somoza dynasty to do their bidding. When the Sandinistas ousted the dictatorship in 1979, the US launched the Contra War. After fomenting an unsuccessful coup in 2018, the US NICA Act then imposed sanctions. This was followed in 2020 by the RAIN plan, a multi-faceted coup strategy.

Disregarding Washington’s call to boycott, a respectable 65% of the Nicaraguan electorate went to the polls and 76% of the voters re-elected Sandinista President Daniel Ortega. The Sandinista’s landslide victory was a testament to their success in serving Nicaragua’s poor and a repudiation of the 2018 coup attempt. Immediately after the election, the US RENACER Act imposed new illegal sanctions.

In Mexico, the June 6 midterm elections pitted the ruling MORENA coalition against the traditional parties (PAN, PRI, PRD), chambers of commerce, and the US embassy. NGOs funded by USAID and NED supported the opposition, whose talking points were echoed by the Economist and the Nation. While MORENA retained is majority in Congress and two-thirds of the governors in the midterms, they suffered setbacks in Mexico City, their traditional stronghold.

Mexico is a critically important state as the second largest economy in Latin America, the eleventh in the world, and the US’s top trade partner. After decades of rightwing rule, left-of-center Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his new MORENA party have been in office for three years. Early on, AMOL earned the enmity of the US, when he proclaimed: “The global economic crisis has revealed the failure of the neoliberal model…The State should assume responsibility to lead development without foreign interference” (meaning the US).

AMLO has predictably experienced pushback from traditional elites in Mexico and from the US, particularly in his attempts to reverse the privatization of the energy sector. The Zapatistas and some leftists oppose AMLO and his national development projects, especially the Mayan train. They accuse the government of supporting violence against indigenous communities in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Prospects for the New Year

Independence from the hegemon to the north, regional integration, and international cooperative relations are on the agenda for the new year.

China is now the second largest investor in Latin America and the Caribbean, which “reduce[s] US dominance” according to the US Congressional Research Service. Economic cooperation with China and to a lesser extent with Russia and Iran have been a lifeline for countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua under regime-change siege by the US. In late December, Nicaragua broke relations with Taiwan and normalized them with the People’s Republic of China. The new government in Honduras has indicated they may soon follow suit. China intends to invest over $250 billion in the region, providing an alternative to dependence on Yankee capital for national development “south of the border.” If the inter-ocean canal project with Chinese backing in Nicaragua were resuscitated, it would be a geopolitical game-changer.

The anti-Venezuela “Lima Group,” a US-Canada initiative, is now moribund with defections of key countries. Likewise, the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) is an increasingly discredited tool of US imperialism as evidenced by its complicity in the Bolivian coup. Cuba and Venezuela are not members of the OAS, and Nicaragua recently announced its withdrawal.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) includes all the hemisphere except the US and Canada. CELAC is being revived as an independent regional alternative by Mexican President López Obrador and others.

2022 promises continued left advances with favorable prospects for the Colombian and Brazilian presidential elections in May and October respectively. Overall, the pink tide is again rising with some 14 countries on the left side of the ledger and the revolt against neoliberalism intensifying from Haiti to Paraguay.

The post 2021 Latin America and the Caribbean in Review: The Pink Tide Rises Again first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference, by Vladimir Putin

The President's annual news conference was broadcast live by Rossiya 1, Channel One, NTV and Rossiya 24 television channels, as well as Mayak, Vesti FM and Radio Rossii radio stations. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. I think that we can get down to work. There is quite a distance between us, but I do hope that our technical staff have made all the necessary arrangements so that you can hear me well. I also hope that I will be able to hear you clearly. Mr (...)

Killjoy Fauci: ‘No Hugging Or Kissing On New Year’s!’

Fauci is again in front of the camera, hectoring people to stay home on New Year's - and whatever they do, DON'T hug each other to greet the New Year. What's wrong with this guy? Also today - is Biden purposely withholding a proven Covid treatment? Florida's Surgeon General says so. And...is a massive purge of Marines who have religious objections to the vaccine a way to "honor the troops"? Every single request has been denied. Fraud? Watch today's Liberty Report:

We Dance into the New Year Banging Our Hammers and Swinging Our Sickles

P.S. Jalaja (India), We Surely Can Change the World, 2021.

P.S. Jalaja (India), We Surely Can Change the World, 2021.

Bittersweet is the passage of this year. There have been some immense victories and some catastrophic defeats, the most terrible being the failure of the Global North countries to adopt a democratic attitude towards confronting the COVID-19 pandemic and creating equitable access to key resources, from life-saving medical equipment to vaccines. Tragically, by the end of this pandemic, we will have learnt the Greek alphabet from the variants named after its letters (Delta, Omicron), which continue to emerge.

Cuba leads the world with the highest vaccination rates, using its indigenous vaccines to protect its population as well as those of countries from Venezuela to Vietnam, following a long history of medical solidarity. The countries with the lowest vaccination rates – currently led by Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, South Sudan, Chad, and Yemen – are amongst the poorest in the world, reliant on foreign aid since their resources are essentially stolen, such as by being acquired at outrageously low prices by multinational companies. With 0.04% of Burundi’s 12 million people vaccinated as of 15 December 2021, at its current rate of vaccination the country would only achieve 70% coverage by January 2111.

In May 2021, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation, said that ‘the world is in vaccine apartheid’. Little has changed since then. In late November, the African Union’s vaccine delivery co-chair Dr Ayoade Alakija said of the emergence of Omicron in southern Africa, ‘What is going on right now is inevitable. It’s a result of the world’s failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner. It is as a result of hoarding [vaccines] by high-income countries of the world, and quite frankly it is unacceptable’. In mid-December, Ghebreyesus appointed Alakija as the WHO Special Envoy for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator. Her task is not easy, and her goal will only be met if, as she put it, ‘a life in Mumbai matters as much as in Brussels, if a life in São Paulo matters as much as a life in Geneva, and if a life in Harare matters as much as in Washington DC’.

Addis Gezehagn (Ethiopia), Floating City XVIII, 2020.

Addis Gezehagn (Ethiopia), Floating City XVIII, 2020.

Vaccine apartheid is a part of a broader problem of medical apartheid, one of the four apartheids of our time, the others being food apartheid, money apartheid, and education apartheid. A new report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says that the population of undernourished people in Africa has increased by 89.1 million since 2014, reaching 281.6 million in 2020. It is worthwhile to consider Dr Alakija’s question about humanity, about the worth assigned to different human beings: can a life in Harare be valued as much as a life in Washington DC? Can we, as a people, overcome these apartheids and solve the elementary problems that are faced by the people of our planet and end the barbarous ways in which the current economic and political system tortures humankind and nature?

A question like that sounds naïve to those who have forgotten what it means to believe in something – if not in the idea of humanity itself, then at least in the binding United Nations Charter (1945) and the partly binding UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The Declaration calls upon us as a people to commit to upholding each other’s ‘inherent dignity’, a standard that has collapsed in the years since heads of governments signed onto the final text.

Nougat, The Sniper of Kaya, 2021, courtesy of BreakThrough News.

Nougat, The Sniper of Kaya, 2021, courtesy of BreakThrough News.

Despite these apartheids, several advances for humankind are worth highlighting:

  1. The Chinese people eradicated extreme poverty, with nearly 100 million people lifting themselves out of absolute misery over the past eight years. Our first study in the series ‘Studies in Socialist Construction’, entitled Serve the People: The Eradication of Extreme Poverty in China, details how this remarkable feat was achieved.
  2. Indian farmers bravely fought for the repeal of three laws which threatened to uberise their working conditions, and – after a year of struggle – they prevailed. This is the most significant labour victory in many years. Our June dossier, The Farmers’ Revolt in India, catalogued the struggle over land in India and the farmers’ militancy over the past decade.
  3. Left governments came to power in Bolivia, Chile, and Honduras, overturning a history of coups and regime changes in these countries that run from 1973 (Chile) to 2009 (Honduras) to 2019 (Bolivia). A year ago, our January dossier, Twilight, considered the erosion of US control over global affairs and the emergence of a multipolar world. The failure of the United States to attain its objectives in these countries and to overthrow the Cuban Revolution and the Venezuelan revolutionary process through hybrid wars is a sign of great possibility for people in the American hemisphere. Trends show that in 2022, Lula da Silva will defeat whoever is the right’s candidate in Brazil, ending the atrocity of Jair Bolsonaro’s governance. Our May dossier, The Challenges Facing Brazil’s Left, is a good place to read up on the political dilemmas in Latin America’s largest country.
  4. A rising tide of anger on the African continent against the increasing military presence of the United States and France found expression in the town of Kaya in the western part of Burkina Faso. When a French military convoy drove near the town in November, a crowd of demonstrators stopped it. At that point, the French launched a surveillance drone to monitor the crowd. Aliou Sawadogo (age 13) shot down the drone with his slingshot, ‘a Burkinabé David against the French Goliath’, wrote Jeune Afrique. Our July dossier, Defending Our Sovereignty: US Military Bases in Africa and the Future of African Unity, was co-published with the Socialist Movement of Ghana’s Research Group and tracks the growth of the Western military presence on the continent.
  5. We have seen strikes by care workers of all kinds across the world, from health workers to domestic workers. These workers have been hit hard by the cruelty of neoliberalism and by what we have called CoronaShock. But these workers have refused to cower, refused to surrender their dignity. Our March dossier, Uncovering the Crisis: Care Work in the Time of Coronavirus, provides a map of the pressures weighing on these workers and opens a window into their struggles.
Harrison Forman (US), Afghanistan, men surrounding storyteller in K abul market, 1953.

Harrison Forman (US), Afghanistan, men surrounding storyteller in Kabul market, 1953.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. These are merely some of the benchmarks of progress. Not every advance is clear-cut. After twenty years, the United States was forced to finally withdraw from Afghanistan as it lost the war to the Taliban. None of the United States’ aims for its war seem to have been attained, and yet it continues to threaten this country of close to 39 million people with starvation. The United States has prevented Afghanistan from accessing its $9.5 billion in external reserves that sit in US banks, and it has prevented Afghanistan’s government from taking its place in the UN system. As a consequence of the collapse of foreign aid, which accounted for 43% of Afghanistan’s GDP last year, the UN Development Programme calculates that the country’s GDP will fall by 20% this year and then by 30% in subsequent years. Meanwhile, the UN report estimates that by 2022, the country’s per capita income may decline to nearly half of 2012 levels. It is estimated that 97% of the population of Afghanistan will fall below the poverty line, with mass starvation a real possibility this winter. A life in the Wakhan Corridor is not valued as much as a life in London. The ‘inherent dignity’ of the human being – as the UN Declaration puts it – is not upheld.

This is not merely an Afghanistan matter. The newly released World Inequality Report 2022 shows that the poorest half of the world’s people owned merely 2% of the total private property (business and financial assets, net of debt, real estate), while the richest 10% owned 76% of the total private property. Gender inequality shapes these numbers, since women received barely 35% of labour income compared to men who received 65% (a slight improvement over 1990 figures, when women’s share was 31%). This inequality is another way of measuring the differential dignity afforded to people along class lines and along the hierarchies of gender and nationality.

In 1959, the Iranian communist poet Siavash Kasra’i wrote one of his elegies, Arash-e Kamangir (‘Arash the Archer’). Using the popular mythology of the ancient battle fought by the heroic archer Arash to liberate his country, Kasra’i depicts the anti-imperialist struggles of his time. But the poem is not only about struggles, for we also wonder about possibilities:

I told you life is beautiful.
Told and untold, there is a lot here.
The clear sky;
The golden sun;
The flower gardens;
The boundless plains;

The flowers peeping up through the snow;
The tender swing of fish dancing in crystal of water;
The scent of rain-swept dust on the mountainside;
The sleep of wheat fields in the spring of moonlight;
To come, to go, to run;
To love;
To lament for humankind;
And to revel arm-in-arm with the crowd’s joys.

The post We Dance into the New Year Banging Our Hammers and Swinging Our Sickles first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Putin Speaks

undefined

Vladimir Putin was “defiant” during his end-of-year press conference last Thursday. The Russian president, who has held these impressive question-and-answer events for the past 20 years, was “bellicose.” He was “threatening.” So we read in the all-the-same-always American press.

Here’s a gem from one Mary Ilyushina, a CBS News correspondent in Moscow: Putin is worried about the military activities of NATO members in Ukraine, she tells us, “you know, on Russia’s doorstep, which is what Putin believes Ukraine is.”

Putin believes. Got it. Mary Ilyushina, my nominee for president of the Overseas Press Club. I have other words for Putin’s performance before 500 domestic and international journalists, and it is far more pertinent to our circumstances. Putin was confident. He was clear, well-informed per usual, and meant neither more nor less than what he said. 



I realize it is difficult for us, we Americans, to comprehend a political figure who is clear, well-informed, and means what he or she says. But this is what is noteworthy about Putin’s four-hour appearance. This is what’s worth our consideration.

Putin’s year-end presser, the Kremlin transcription of which is here, follows a series of developments that, in my read, has set in motion a profound shift in East–West relations as these play out along Russia’s border with Europe and across the Eurasian landmass.

“Putin wants to restructure the whole security architecture of Europe,” Mary Ilyunshina reported. Dead on this time, Mary. While Putin articulated no such thought, this is a serviceable summary of exactly his intent.

It is difficult to say just when the train of events now playing out between Washington and Moscow began. One can go back to the “civil society” funding the U.S. began sending Ukraine in the early post–Cold War years. But good enough here to mark down Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Sept. 1 summit with President Joe Biden as the occasion that set this recent phase in motion.

NATO & Ukraine 

Zelenskyy wanted assurances that the Biden regime would hold his hand as he continued to ignore Ukraine’s Minsk II commitments and stoked increasing tensions with Russia. He got that. But he didn’t get what he truly came for: As noted in this space at the time, Biden stopped well short of any commitment to advance Ukraine toward membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

I may have misread that occasion as more of a setback than it was for the corrupt, Nazi–supported Russophobes running the Kiev regime.

What has since ensued leaves NATO membership well in the distance, but there are treaty documents and there are weapons shipments, infrastructure contracts, foreign mercenaries, purposeful naval provocations, and assorted other “facts on the ground.”

So far this year the Biden regime has approved $450 million is security assistance to Ukraine, bringing the total allotted since the U.S. inspired the February 2014 coup in Kiev to $2.5 billion.

During their Oval Office sit-down, Biden stayed awake long enough to promise Zelenskyy $60 million more in small arms, ammunition and radar systems. This materiel began arriving on Dec. 10 and will continue into the new year. Beyond that more, surely.

Britain is now at work constructing two naval ports along Ukraine’s Black Sea shoreline; in October the U.K. agreed to lend Kiev $1.6 billion to pay for an assortment of British-made naval vessels, some new, some outdated scows of the kind the West typically sells the non–West.

U.S. and British naval maneuvers off Russia’s Black Sea coast are now routine. Western military officials now talk of deploying potent new technology, all the way up to nuclear-capable missiles, along the alliance’s Russia-facing eastern front. We now have Russian reports that British mercenaries have joined the forces from NATO members already deployed in Ukraine. The numbers Russia is (unofficially) putting out: 10,000 troops and mercs from NATO members on Ukrainian soil, 4,000 from the U.S.

NATO–schmATO, if you see what I mean. The thought in Washington, London and Brussels seems to be, Well, we can’t put Ukrainian membership to paper —that might be a provocation too far — but, the hell with it, we can treat Kiev as more or less a member anyway.

Since the autumn we have had incessantly alarmist reports that the Russian Federation is amassing troops and materiel in its western region near the border with Ukraine. I read everything from 60,000 Russian soldiers to 175,000. Who knows? Maybe none, maybe the higher number (or higher than the higher number).

Fair use excerpt. Read the whole article here.

Study: Vaccines don’t stop Covid hospitalizations or deaths

undefined

Even at the peak of their protection earlier in 2021, Covid vaccines barely reduced the risk of hospitalizations in vaccinated people who had “breakthrough” infections, new data show.

Vaccinated people in a study published Tuesday had a nearly 1 in 200 chance of of requiring hospitalization for Covid in the first six months after being “fully vaccinated.”

That stunning risk came even though the median age of people in the study was only 51, and most were relatively healthy.

Deaths, ventilator use, and other severe outcomes also occurred regularly in vaccinated people. The data comes from a study of about 600,000 vaccinated Americans seen at over 100 academic medical centers.

The study was published online Dec. 28 in the Journal of the American Medical Association - JAMA Internal Medicine.

The data in the study also make clear how quickly vaccine protection fades after the second dose - and that the Centers for Disease Control hugely understated the number of vaccinated people hospitalized for Covid earlier this year.

Of the 600,000 fully vaccinated people, about 2,800 required inpatient hospitalization for Covid in the first six months after “full vaccination.” That period starts 14 days after the second dose of mRNA vaccines, when vaccine protection should be at peak.

Almost 3 percent of fully vaccinated people, or 1 in 35, were infected over the first six months, with infection rates accelerating sharply at the end of the study.

In all, 148 of the 600,000 vaccinated people had what the study’s authors called “serious” outcomes from Covid, including ventilation or death, in the first six months after full vaccination.

...

The study contained no information about post-vaccine side effects.

The findings run contrary to the endlessly repeated promises of Covid vaccine advocates that even if vaccines fail to prevent infection, they are necessary to keep hospitals from being overrun. They also help bring American hospitalization data - which is both fragmented and hopelessly politicized in a desperate effort to prove vaccine efficacy - more in line with figures from the United Kingdom and other countries.

undefined

Fair Use Excerpt. Read the whole article here.