Category Archives: Olympics

Cultivated Delusions at the Tokyo Olympics

Australia’s Channel 7 team was all about ignoring history as its selected commentators went into describing, poorly, the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. The trio was poorly equipped culturally, geographically and totally (the Japanese component was barely credible: “We want to make things warm for you,” she chirped), to deal with the eclectic groupings of the athletes as they assembled.  Clichés and platitudes clogged the commentary as each team strode into the stadium.

It would have been interesting had they noted the militaristic, political echo that follows the beginning, and end, of each Olympic Games.  “In the Olympic Opening ceremony,” remarked Australia’s foremost sporting journalist Gideon Haigh in 2016, “serried ranks of well drilled, well resourced, uniformed national exemplars march behind their country’s flag.  Nothing could be a more political event than that.”

And political it was.  The torch relay was not, as the intoxicated romantics on the International Olympic Committee payroll claim, a creature of Greek antiquity but one of Nazi creativity. Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels were enamoured with the idea, though it was Carl Diem, secretary general of the organising committee of the 1936 Berlin games who first proposed it.  That great German armaments institution, the Krupp Company, did its bit, creating and sponsoring the torches which were intended to burn for ten minutes. “The first torch manufactured,” writes German sports historian Arnd Krüger, “was used to ignite a new furnace for the production of long-range Krupp canons.”

Behind Tokyo 2020 was a sense of financed apology, with most of the Olympic commentariat bulging with self-interest in keeping this indulgent exercise on the road, even in the face of the worst global pandemic since the Spanish Influenza.  This was a tournament imposed upon a populace by cadres of sporting officials, an anti-democratic, despotic, insensitive gesture based on revenue incentives and broadcasting rights.  The focus had to be on the athletes, the show pony alibis, who distracted from the logisticians and backroom players.

The distraction was, at points, impressive: streamed images of torrential tears, the mingling of sweat from exhausted bodies and tormented competitors, the meeting of flags across competing tracks and ecstatic expressions of the human spirit.  There was video footage of vulnerable winners and those barely defeated; sharp camera focus on such noble acts as the sharing of a gold medal between Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar in the men’s high jump.  This was flesh and feelings made substantive in film.  “When people experience inwardly periods of greatness, they represent those periods through external forms,” said that man of theatre, show and murderous finality, one Adolf Hitler.  “Their word thus expressed is more convincing than the spoken word: it is the word in stone.”

This was all meant to make a difference, and outside the main Olympic stadium and the venues this was taking place, Tokyo was facing an aggressive pandemic and public health restrictions. The stadium hosting the closing ceremony, from the air, looked like a capsule of insulated distraction.  Those interested were watching at home; the stadium seats remained empty.

The pandemic-minded types were also far from impressed by the implications of holding the event.  IOC president Thomas Bach opined that the COVID-19 infections surging in Tokyo had no links, directly or otherwise, to the Games.  Tsuyoshi Masuda, head of the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions, disagreed: “[H]olding the Olympics sent a strong message to citizens that infection control measures would become less strict.”

The budget minded types (how dare they question the uplifting image of the Games?) would certainly have raised their eyebrows at the official price tag: $15.4 billion.  The calibration led to other options as to where the money might have been better spent: building 300 hospitals with 300 beds each; 1,200 elementary schools. “The problem is disentangling what is Olympics cost and what is just general infrastructure spending that would have happened anyways but was sped up for the Olympics,” suggests sports economist Victor Matheson.

The bidding process itself demands that host cities and authorities will cover excess costs. “This means,” contend the authors of a study in Environment Planning, “that hosts get locked in to a non-negotiable commitment to cover such increases.”

Bach, being his usual ostensibly noble self, put the case that finance was no bar to the events.  “We would have cancelled the Games 15 months ago,” he told The Associated Press.  “Financially, it would have been the easiest solution for the IOC.  But we decided at the time not to cancel the Games, not to draw on the insurance we had at the time.”

Such views should be treated with a healthy dose of stern scepticism.  “For the IOC,” sports editorial writer for the Mainichi Shimbun Takiguchi Takashi points out, “what is important is not whether there are spectators in the stands, but that the games go ahead and are broadcast to the entire world.”  Broadcasting rights constitute 70% of IOC revenue, characterised by such lucrative arrangements as that of NBCUniversal’s $12 billion payment for rights to broadcast all Olympic events from the 2014 Sochi Winter games to the 2032 Summer Olympics.

The response to the Olympics by its defenders has generally been one of cultivated delusion.  NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was banking on it, given his network’s promise to broadcast 7,000 hours of the Tokyo games.  From the moment the opening ceremony takes place, he insisted, “everybody forgets [concerns like COVID-19] and enjoys the seventeen days.”

This ploy has worked, at least in the past.  Robert Baade and Matheson note the buoyancy that follows the holding of the games: in London 2012, for instance, there were those proud to be British and even happy to pay amounts “above any costs associated with actually attending any of the events.”  Despite Japanese success in the medal tally, Tokyo 2020 promises a different story.

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Cuba Is Putting Its Heart into the Olympic Games in Tokyo

When dawn broke this morning on the fourteenth day of the Olympic Games, Cuba was in 15th place in the Tokyo medal standings. It is admirable and not fortuitous that the small island of only 11 million people is 15th among the 204 countries attending the world games.

Each of the talented athletes who represent the Cuban flag in Japan trained and sacrificed to represent their country. The passion they exhibit on the field, including those who have not won medals, moves us here.

Cuba will not forget the tears of young Juan Miguel Echevarría, who was hampered by a femoral bicep injury that prevented him from jumping for the sixth time during the final competition on August 1.

He knelt just above the takeoff board and hit the ground with his fists. “I cried, but not from the joy of the silver medal, but from the pain of losing the gold,” he told the press.

The island will also not forget the joy on the face of four-time Olympic champion Mijaín López when he defeated his rival Iakob Kadzhaia in Greco-Roman wrestling on August 2. All of Cuba was awake at 4am local time to watch the match of the irreducible Cuban giant, who won with little effort and became the best wrestler in the history of this sport.

“I think I’m just doing my job,” Mijaín said minutes after the victory as if he had not just accomplished this tremendous feat.

“I am fulfilling what I learned, what I was taught by my ancestors, my parents, my children, my grandparents… No matter how great you are, humility will always be greater than virtue,” he added.

Then on August 2, a photo was taken by a Cuban photographer that took Cuba by storm: the legendary Mijaín López carrying Luis Alberto Orta, who also won the gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling, just 30 minutes apart. A Cuban flag was shining brightly between the two of them.

Athletes have not only gone to Japan to leave their hearts, but they have also gone to defend their country from any provocation or expression of hatred. This was the case of young boxer Julio Cesar la Cruz, who faced Cuban-Spanish Enmanuel Reyes during the most awaited fight of July 30.

The fight occurred shortly after Reyes, who was representing the Spanish flag in the ring, threatened to “tear off the head” of his opponent, regardless of the fact that both were born in the same country.

“I will be the first person to shout ‘Patria y Vida’ (Homeland and Life) in the Olympics,” he added, alluding to the song that has allegedly become the anthem of the Cuban right-wing.

La Cruz won after beating Reyes in the first and third rounds. Before getting out of the ring, he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Homeland and Life, no. Homeland or Death. We will prevail,” in honor of Cuba’s historic leader Fidel Castro.

Not only have the athletes given their all in these Olympic Games. The sports reporters have also been heroes, and they have served as a bridge between Cubans and the emotions experienced in Tokyo.

No Cuban will forget journalist Renier Gonzalez’s narration of the 1,000-meter double canoe race, in which the Cubans Serguey Torres and Fernando Dayan Jorge Enriquez won the gold medal by a mere 0.2 seconds.

As the final-second battle between the Chinese canoe and the Cuban canoe, Gonzalez fired off words as he sat up and stood from his seat; “Here comes the Cuban canoe, here comes the Chinese canoe… Seguey, Dayan. Come on, let’s all paddle, Cubans. Come on. We will have a medal. China, Cuba, Cuba. Gold medal for Cuba! The Cuban canoe is gold!”

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who has called each medalist after every victory, could not contain his emotion as he congratulated Torres and Fernando Dayán. “The final seconds were electrifying. You rowed your hearts out,” he told them.

The feat of this small Caribbean island in Tokyo has been historic. The athletes are holding Cuba’s name up high amid the most difficult conditions. The country is fighting against a seemingly unstoppable pandemic while media attacks are gaining strength, and food and medicine shortages persist. However, Cuba perceives the Tokyo Olympics as a shining example of the resistance of the Cuban people to hatred, to adversity.

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Why is the Top Chinese Swimmer not at the Tokyo Olympics?

Primary players and acronyms:

FINA – Fédération Internationale de Natation (International Swimming Federation). Established 1908.

WADA – World Anti-Doping Agency. Established in 1999. Based in Montreal, Canada.

CAS – Court of Arbitration for Sport. Highest court for adjudicating international sport. Established in 1984. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

IDTM – International Doping and Test Management. Swedish company that merged with US based Drug Free Sports in September 2018.

ADRV – Anti-Doping Rule Violation. Official name for doping offense which leads to sanction (ineligibility) for some time.

ISTI – International Standards for Testing and Investigation. Initiated by WADA in 2004.

DCO – Doping Control Officer. Doping test team leader.

BCO – Blood Collection Officer. Medical staff who draws blood sample.

DCA – Doping Control Assistant. May act as “chaperone” to verify urine collection.

Introduction

Why is the all-time greatest Chinese swimmer Sun Yang not at the Tokyo Olympics?  The short answer is that he has been banned from competitive swimming for four years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).  He has been banned for four years NOT for doping, but for a “doping rule violation”.

What lies behind this? What are the essential facts? Was the decision just or biased? This article will review the case and offer suggestions to improve the process.

CAS Panel admission and decision

The Court of Arbitration for Sport decision about Sun Yang came very recently, in mid-June.  At the very end of the 88-page decision, there is a crucial acknowledgment:

The Panel considers it pertinent that there has been no allegation that the Athlete was doped on 4 September 2018. Indeed, given that Mr. Sun tested negative eight times in the prior two weeks, the likelihood that he would have tested positive, had the samples of 4–5 September 2018 been analyzed in Beijing, appears remote.

Despite this acknowledgement, the CAS Panel decided that Sun Yang was guilty of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV).

The controversial and aborted test

The controversy involves an aborted attempt to take blood and urine samples from Sun Yang on the night of September 4, 2018. Sun Yang arrived home late at night after travelling all day from Jakarta Indonesia where he had competed at the Asia Games.  He was about to commence a one-month vacation.

A doping test team from the Swedish American company, International Doping Tests & Management (IDTM), met Sun Yang and said they wished to take an “out of competition” blood and urine sample. There was a female Doping Control Officer (DCO), a female Blood Collection Officer (BCO) and male Doping Control Assistant (DCA).

There are conflicting reports about what transpired over the next few hours, but these are essential facts:

* After seeing the Doping Control Assistant surreptitiously taking photographs of him, Sun Yang became suspicious and asked to see the authorization papers of the test team.

* The DCO did not have paper IDTM accreditation but did have an image on her cell phone.  The BCO and DCA had no proof of authorization from IDTM.  Nor did they have paperwork to authorize this specific out of competition test. All they had was a generic annual authorization for IDTM to do testing for the International Swimming Federation (FINA).

* Sun Yang consulted his doctor and Chinese swim team leader asking what to do. Both said the test should be stopped until the test team can provide proper documentation.

* The DCO consulted with her supervisor in Sweden. They then said to Sun Yang they could not leave the equipment behind.  A member of Sun Yang’s group broke the container holding the blood vial so the IDTM team could leave with their equipment. The blood vial was preserved and is still under refrigeration at the doctor’s hospital.

* Over the next days, Sun Yang reported that the test was aborted because the test team lacked accreditation. The leader of the test team, the DCO, reported that Sun Yang had committed a “Refusal to Comply” with the test.

The FINA Doping Panel 

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) convened a Doping Panel to examine the events and determine whether Sun Yang had committed a doping rule violation.  They held the hearing and issued their decision in early January 2019. They determined that “Sun Yang has not committed an anti-doping rule violation” because the test team did not have the required accreditation documentation to take blood and urine samples from the athlete.

The FINA Doping Panel also faulted the test team leader for not making the athlete (Sun Yang) aware that she would consider this incident to be a “Failure to Comply” and thus a potential Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV).

WADA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)

For whatever reasons, the Canadian-based World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) strongly objected to the FINA Doping Panel decision. They filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against Sun Yang and FINA.

In November 2019, the first CAS Panel held a public hearing about the case.  In February 2020, CAS issued their decision that Sun Yang DID commit a doping rule violation and was to be banned from swimming for eight years.  Some western competitors and sports media cheered this decision. Others were more objective and thoughtful. The decision was criticized in articles here and here.

Based on evidence revealed in the article, “Why the Sun Yang Decision Should be Overturned“, Sun Yang’s attorneys won their appeal to the Swiss supreme court. There was compelling evidence the CAS Panel chairman was biased if not racist.

Although the CAS decision was annulled, WADA decided to continue. A new CAS panel was created.

The second CAS Panel had new members but all the same background. All three jurists were senior white western European men. Additionally, they all have strong ties to the United States.  Although the second panelists claim they were not influenced by the decision of the first CAS panel, their decisions are essentially the same: they say Sun Yang is guilty of an Anti-Doping Rule Violation. With relaxed punishment requirements, he is now banned for 4 years, three months beginning February 2020.

FINA Doping Panel vs CAS panels

Why did the FINA doping panel conclude that Sun Yang did not commit an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV) while the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled that he did?

Here are the essential differences:

1) Was the test team legitimate? 

CAS says they were, even though two of the three test team members had no proof that they were authorized by the test contractor, International Doping and Test Management (IDTM). CAS said that only the test team leader, the Doping Control Officer, needed proof of accreditation.

The CAS decision says, “ISTI imposes a specific threshold for notification. The threshold seeks to ensure that an athlete understand that a demand for his samples is legitimate and duly authorized—all the while avoiding the imposition of unnecessarily burdensome administrative criteria or the creation of yet more opportunities for gamesmanship by bad actors. “

In contrast, FINA said that all members of a test team need to be trained, accredited, and have proof.  “FINA members (swimmers) must know with certainty under whose authority they are being tested and that every official attending at the sample collection session has been properly trained, appointed and authorized by the Sample Collection Agency.” 

Which is right? The ISTI is ambiguous and can be interpreted both ways. ISTI Annex H says, “Sample Collection Personnel requirements start with the development of the necessary competencies for Sample Collection Personnel and end with the provision of identifiable accreditation.”  There was debate over whether “personnel” was singular or plural.

One thing is certain: the Doping Control Assistant was not properly trained. The controversy was sparked because he took personal photographs which is a significant violation of protocol and the athlete’s privacy.

2) Did the test team show adequate proof they were authorized to conduct the test?

CAS says yes; it was sufficient to show the annual authorization paper from FINA to IDTM, nothing more.

FINA said no; there needs to be more than an annual authorization. The test team must show evidence that they are authorized to carry out this specific mission.

Which is right? Again, the ISTI is ambiguous. It seems reasonable to require a test team entering a person’s personal space to show proof of the fact they have authorization to collect bodily fluid samples from that individual at that time.  The test team must have a mandate to go to the Athlete’s residence and collect the samples. Why not show it to the athlete to confirm this is a legitimate intrusion?

3)  Was the Blood Collection Officer (BCO) qualified to draw blood from the athlete?

CAS says yes, even though the Blood Collection Officer only had an old junior nurse certificate in her possession.

FINA said no. They explain, “What is certain is that she did not produce unequivocal evidence of her qualifications to draw blood from the athlete, as required in the ISTI.”

The ISTI clearly states the blood collection must meet local standards and regulatory requirements.

4) Did the Doping Control Officer warn the athlete that his actions could be considered a Refusal to Comply as required?

FINA says no. The DCO did not make that clear and to further complicate things, she signed a statement of events written by Sun Yang’s doctor.

“The ISTI is clear in Annex A 3.3.a) that the DCO must tell the Athlete, in a language he can understand, the consequences of a possible Failure to Comply. Explaining the risks that certain conduct might lead to a violation is not sufficient. The DCO must go further and clearly articulate that she is treating the Athlete’s conduct as a Failure to Comply and that the following consequences will apply.”

CAS says the DCO warned the athlete sufficiently. They claim the DCO told the athlete the consequences of “Refusal to Comply”.

CAS says, “Nothing in Annex A.3.3(a) requires a DCO, on the spot, to proclaim a definitive anti-doping rule violation. The Panel therefore has no hesitation in disavowing this artificially high threshold. It is enough for Sample Collection Personnel to tell an athlete, in language he can understand, the consequences of a possible failure to comply. As to whether an actual violation has occurred, this is for the Testing Authority to determine and prosecute; such a proclamation is not within any DCO’s competence.”

Which is right? One thing is clear: the ISTI wording is poor and misleading.  All athletes know the consequence of a Refusal to Comply is an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.  This is comparable to a policeman telling a civilian the consequences of a crime (you go to prison) instead of telling them they are being charged with a crime.

Under ISTI regulations 5.4.8 and 7.4.6, the DCO is supposed to document what happened. The DCO did not document the events as required. Promoting more confusion, she signed the statement by Sun Yang’s doctor.  If she was only signing the statement as a witness, it seems that should have been explicitly indicated.

Summary of Differences: FINA Doping Panel vs CAS Panel  

In summary, the FINA doping panel emphasized that all test team members must be authorized.

In contrast, the CAS Panel advocated fewer requirements for a doping test team. Only the test team leader needs to have credentials and they do not have to show proof that their specific visit is authorized. The blood collection nurse does not need to prove she is qualified. CAS expressed preference to avoid “burdensome administrative criteria” and a concern for “gamesmanship by bad actors”.

The WADA Guidelines regarding Blood Collection support the position of Sun Yang in various respects. Dismissing this, CAS says “Guidelines are recommendations, not law, and they do not alter the minimum requirements of the ISTI”.  They ignore the fact that Blood Sample Collection Guidelines have “ISTI” prominently printed on the cover.

Questions and Observations about this case

At the November 2019 public hearing, Sun Yang said he thought there were “dark forces” behind the effort to ban him. He did not say much more, but the suggestion was clear enough. Having studied this case in some depth, I believe his concerns are warranted.

If there is a “bad actor” here, it might be the private test contractor, IDTM. At each step of the events, they seem to have provoked rather than resolved the dispute. They selected as DCO a person who Sun Yang had complained about when she was DCA on a previous test. They chose to go to Sun Yang’s residence very late at night knowing he was returning from all day travel from Indonesia. They brought an improperly trained DCA who proceeded to surreptitiously take photographs. They declined to get a substitute DCA. They declined to postpone the test until the next day. They falsely claimed they needed to take the test equipment. They did not tell Sun Yang that they would file a Refusal to Comply.

The DCO was a Chinese woman who lives abroad. She was a DCO for less than a year.  Her supervisor in Sweden, Romanian Tudor Popa, had only nine months experience at the time of the incident. He is now Vice President of International Testing at IDTM.

For the past 30 months, WADA has pursued this case against Sun Yang at great cost in time and resources.  It is fair to ask why they have done this. It is not as though Sun Yang was avoiding being tested or making a habit of objecting. He is one of the most tested athletes in the world, on average every two weeks. Nearly all tests have been performed without any problem at all. Logic would dictate that Sun Yang had no motive to take performance enhancing medications. At the Asia Games, where he was tested six times, he won four gold plus two silver medals. Also, he was about to start a one-month vacation and rest period from swimming.  It was not like he was a struggling swimmer who might be tempted to get some little extra advantage.

Would WADA have pursued this case if the swimmer had been an American, British, Canadian, or Australian? It was a huge investment of time and resources.  In the end, they “achieved” the elimination of the Chinese athlete even though he was not doped.  What kind of achievement is that?

The bias of the first CAS panel was acknowledged by the Swiss Federal Court.

Was the second CAS panel any less biased?  Their decision suggests no. At each critical point, they favor minimizing requirements for the test team contractor. They hint that an athlete who is concerned with the test integrity may be a “bad actor”.  They critique the FINA Doping Panel decision as showing “leniency” towards Sun Yang and “stringency” toward the testing process.

The CAS panel considers that requiring each test team member to have identifiable credential would be “unnecessarily burdensome administrative criteria”. Making this a requirement might give “opportunities for gamesmanship by bad actors”.

It should be noted that WADA had a serious conflict of interest in this case. They were the expert witnesses while also being the appellant.

Suggestions to improve the process

The World Anti-Doping Agency has become an influential force in global sport. They say they are “impartial, objective, balanced and transparent.” They publicly ask for feedback.

Here are some suggestions considering the Sun Yang case:

* WADA documentation including the Guidelines and ISTI should be critically reviewed, and areas of ambiguity cleared up.

* A genuine mix of international athletes should review the requirements for a test team. Should it be confirmed that all members of a test team are trained, accredited, and have proof?  Should it be confirmed that an “out of competition” test team intruding in an athlete’s personal space needs to show authorization for this mission?

*  An athlete should be given a written warning if a test team is going to report a potential “Refusal to Comply”.  There should be a standard “Refusal to Comply” form. Such notices or warnings are standard in society. This simple measure would probably have avoided the entire costly controversy with Sun Yang.

* The composition of WADA should be more diverse to avoid appearing or in fact being biased.

Conclusion

The FINA Doping Panel was correct and Sun Yang should be competing in the Tokyo Olympics.

The post Why is the Top Chinese Swimmer not at the Tokyo Olympics? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Politics of Cheering and Booing: On Palestine, Solidarity and the Tokyo Olympics

When the Palestinian Olympic delegation of five athletes – adorned in traditional Palestinian attire and carrying the Palestinian flag – crossed into the Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium during the inauguration ceremony on July 23, I was overcome with pride and nostalgia.

I grew up watching the Olympics. All of us did. Throughout the month-long international sports event, the Olympics were the main topic of discussion among the refugees in my refugee camp in Gaza, where I was born.

Unlike other sports competitions such as football, you did not need to care about the sport itself to appreciate the underlying meaning of the Olympics. The entire exercise seemed to be political.

However, the politics of the Olympics is unlike daily politics. Indeed, it is about something profoundly deeper, related to identity, culture, national struggles for liberation, equality, race and, yes, freedom.

Before Palestine’s first Olympic participation in 1996, with only one athlete, Majed Abu Marahi, we cheered – we still do – for all the countries that seemed to convey our collective experiences or share part of our history.

In our Gaza refugee camp, in a small, often hot, simply furnished living room, my family, friends and neighbors would gather around a small black and white television set. For us, the opening ceremony was always critical. Though the camera often allocates mere seconds to each delegation, a few seconds were all we needed to declare our political stances regarding each and every country. It was no surprise, then, that we cheered for all African and Arab countries, jumped in joy when the Cubans came marching in, and booed those who have contributed to Israel’s military occupation of our homeland.

Imagine the chaos in our living room as a small crowd of people made loud and swift political declarations about every country, making a case of why we should cheer or boo, all simultaneously: “The Cubans love Palestine”, “South Africa is the country of Mandela”, “The French gave Israel Mirage fighter jets”, “The Americans are biased towards Israel”,  “The president of this or that country said the Palestinians deserve freedom”, “Kenya was occupied by the British too”, and so on.

The judgment was not always easy as sometimes none of us would be able to offer a conclusive statement to make a case for why we should cheer or boo. For example, an African country which normalized relations with Israel would give us pause: we hated the government but we loved the people. Many such moral dilemmas were often left unanswered.

These dilemmas existed even before I was born. The previous generation of Palestinians also struggled with such pressing quandaries. For example, when African American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, raised their fists during the award ceremony in the October 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, that, too, must have been a difficult philosophical question to be readily answered by the residents of my refugee camp. On the one hand, we loathed the historically devastating role played – and continues to be played – by the US, in arming, funding and politically supporting Israel. Without such support, Israel would have found it impossible to maintain and profit from its ongoing system of military occupation and apartheid. On the other hand, we supported, as we continue to support, African Americans in their rightful struggle for equality and justice. In these situations, it is often resolved that we should support the players while still rejecting the countries they represent.

The ongoing Tokyo Olympics were hardly the exception of this complex political system. While much media coverage has been placed on the Covid-19 pandemic – the fact that the games were held in the first place, the safety of the players and so on – the politics, the human triumph, the racism, and much more were also still present.

As Palestinians, this time around, we have more to cheer for than usual: our own athletes. Dania, Hanna, Wesam, Mohamed and Yazan are making us proud. The story of each one of these athletes represents a chapter in the Palestinian saga, one that is rife with collective pain, besiegement and ongoing Diaspora, but also hope, unparalleled strength and determination.

These Palestinian athletes, like athletes from other countries who are enduring their own struggles, whether for freedom, democracy or peace, carry a heavier burden than those who were trained under normal circumstances, in stable countries that provide their athletes with seemingly endless resources to reach their full potential.

Mohamed Hamada, a weightlifter from the besieged Gaza Strip, competes in the 96 kg men snatch. In actuality, the 19-year-old is already carrying a mountain. Having survived several deadly Israeli wars, a relentless siege, lack of freedom to travel, to train under proper circumstances and, of course, the resulting trauma, by taking his first step in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, Hamada was already a champion. Hundreds of aspiring weightlifters in Gaza and throughout Palestine must have watched him in their own living rooms, filled with hope that they, too, can overcome all the hardship, and that they, too, could be present at future Olympics.

Yazan al-Bawwab, the 21-year-old Palestinian swimmer, embodies, despite his youth, the story of the Palestinian diaspora. A Palestinian, who grew up in the United Arab Emirates, now living in Canada while carrying dual Italian and Palestinian citizenships, he represents a generation of Palestinian youngsters who live outside the homeland and whose life is a reflection of the constant search for home. There are millions of Palestinian refugees who were forced by war, or circumstances, to constantly relocate. They too, aspire to live a normal and stable life, to carry the passports of their own homeland with pride and, like al-Bawwab, to achieve great things in life.

The truth is, for us, Palestinians, the Olympics are not an ethnocentric exercise. Our relationship to it is not simply inspired by race, nationality or even religion, but by humanity itself. The dialectics through which we cheer or boo conveys so much about how we see ourselves as a people, our position in the world, the solidarity that we wish to bestow and the love and solidarity that we receive. So, Ireland, Scotland, Cuba, Venezuela, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden and many more, including all Arab countries without exception, can be certain that we will always remain their loyal fans.

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Greenwashing the Tokyo Olympic Games

The gap between rhetoric and reality is a persistent one when looking at the sustainability of commitments of Olympic Games hosts.
— Martin Müller, European Urban and Regional Studies, 2015

The organisers of the Olympics have always been into appearances and grand theatre.  And the International Olympic Committee has always been keen in keeping them up, from the barely credible notion of political neutrality to the now popular goal of carbon neutrality.  In 2015, the IOC decided to fully hop on the sustainability bandwagon, though it claimed to have been “an important topic for the IOC for many years”.  Indeed, in the 1990s, the body echoed the sentiments of the UN’s sustainable development plan Agenda 21 by publishing Olympic Movement’s Agenda 21, though that report displays, rather prominently, the company logo of the oil behemoth Shell.  Sustainable development was, according to the then IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch, “totally in conformity with the goal of Olympism, which is to place everywhere sport at the service of the harmonious development of man.”

In its Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC sets out recommendations for three “spheres of responsibility”.  The first: that the IOC adopt sustainability principles and include them “in its day-to-day operations.”  The second: that the organisation “take a proactive and leadership role on sustainability and ensure that it is included in all aspects of the planning and staging” of the games.  The third, as being the “leader of the Olympic Movement”, the IOC will engage and assist the movement’s “stakeholders in integrating sustainability within their own organisations and operations.”

As with other organisations of scale, problematic strategies such as carbon offsetting are embraced. Much is made of making sure that such “efforts” are communicated both internally “via workshops or by circulating infographics” and externally.  Get the public interested, let them visit “a dedicated webpage, creating interactive tools or apps (carbon footprinter)” or have “non-site activities at Games-time to raise public awareness.”

In its Carbon Footprint Methodology for the Olympic Games, the IOC extols the “golden rules” of “transparency and honesty” in communicating sustainability efforts “to avoid any risks of greenwashing or overstatement.”  With a propagandist’s care, attention is given to separating functions lest misunderstanding emerge.  Emissions arising from preparations and operations are to be distinguished from permanent infrastructure emissions and those arising from “associated activities”.  “A clear explanation must be given for any excluded categories.”

The quest for acquiring a sufficient number of carbon credits for the Tokyo games has been advertised, or communicated, as a success.  A member of the Tokyo Olympics sustainability committee, Masako Konishi, tells us that “more than enough carbon credits, more than 150 per cent of what was needed”, has been obtained.  “These carbon credits follow robust guidelines, which I think could be a role model for future Olympics.”

Such credits do nothing to remove existing emissions in the way that soil carbon sequestration or direct air capture does, giving an accountant’s version of carbon neutrality.  But they give the IOC a chance to boast about carbon offsetting practices with Dow, which has been in a “carbon partnership” with the organisation since 2017.  In doing so, the committee holds on to a tradition that fails to address the harm caused by mega events, infrastructure projects and large numbers of spectators while promoting the credentials of environmental citizenship.

Specifically to Tokyo, the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games are advertised as “the most innovative in history” garlanded with meaningless platitudes such as “Achieving Personal Best”, “Unity in Diversity”, and “Connecting to Tomorrow”.  The Tokyo Organising Committee emphasises four sustainable development principles with the enthusiasm of a university manager (stewardship, inclusivity, integrity and transparency – all in capitals, of course), “harmonized with the Games vision, while embracing the sustainability concept of the Games: ‘Be better, together – For the planet and for the people.’”

Sustainability box ticking involves decarbonisation with renewable energy and “maximum energy savings”; “zero wasting” with the Tokyo Games “aiming to suppress deforestation and land devastation caused by resource exploitation”; restoring biodiversity and creating “a rich ecological network” and “new urban system that will improve comfort and resilience”.

The opening ceremony was also signatured with tokens of greenish sustainability. The white T-shirts and trousers worn by the torchbearers of the Olympic flame used recycled plastic bottles gathered by Coca-Cola.  The hydrogen-fuelled torch, by Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka, was the product of construction waste from temporary housing used for victims of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Athletes will also bear witness to the IOC sustainability doctrine.  Japanese bedding company Airweave has created 18,000 beds using recycled cardboard, 8000 of which will be repurposed for the Paralympics.  Winners can know that the 5000 medals for the games are made from metal extracted from donated mobile phones and other electronic devices.  The 3D-printed podiums upon which such medals will be received are sourced from 24.5 tonnes of discarded household plastics.

Behind such an extensive show of environmental soundness is an uglier truth.  In an April study in Nature Sustainability, the authors evaluated the sustainability credentials of 16 Olympic Games, both summer and winter versions, between 1992 and 2020.  The model used by the researchers found that sustainability had never been the event’s strong suit and had actually decreased over time.  Salt Lake City 2002 was the best; Sochi 2014 and Rio de Janeiro 2016, the worst.

The study suggests three actions in the short term to improve the poor score card, all of which make environmentally good sense but would scandalize IOC officialdom. Future events should be reduced in size, meaning that fewer resources would need to be consumed.  (It followed that the revenue base would also shrink.)  “It will diminish the carbon emissions by visitors and bring down the ecological and material footprint by reducing the size and cost of the new infrastructure required.”  Sports content of the immersive type could be provided in digital form.

The games could also be rotated among the same cities.  There would be no need to build more infrastructure, as it would already be in place, minimising cost and social and ecological disruption. Finally, to achieve this would require an independent body “to develop, monitor and enforce credible sustainability standards” and would overcome the problem of having individual cities hosting the games to dedicate their own sustainability goals.

David Gogishvili, one of the co-authors of the study, was politely scathing of the IOC.  “The efforts the International Olympic Committee is making are important but they are limited and not enough.  From my perspective, unless they heavily limit the construction aspect and the overall size of the event, they will always be criticised for greenwashing.”  Those IOC communicators will be working around the clock.

The post Greenwashing the Tokyo Olympic Games first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Tokyo’s Pandemic Games Open

The auguries are not good for the Tokyo Olympic Games.  Resignations have filled the ledger, including Japanese composer Keigo Oyamada, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori and the creative director Hiroshi Sasaki.  Then there is the lamentable behaviour of the authoritarian International Olympic Committee and the obsequious conduct of the Suga government.  The continued prospect of COVID-19 infections in the Olympic camp and public, have all been marked off as manageable.

It will not matter that athletes suffer infections.  It will not matter that they will be spread. It will be irrelevant that the Japanese public do not want these games. The IOC will throw money and a range of threats to make sure that officials comply. Some of this was on show with the curt remarks by IOC official John Coates to an Australian state premier, Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, who was visiting Tokyo to receive news that the city of Brisbane had been awarded the 2032 Olympic Games.

As Australian Olympic President, Coates wished to impress upon the Queensland Premier that she had to attend the opening ceremony in Tokyo and learn the ropes.  “You are going to the opening ceremony,” he berated Palaszczuk.  “I’m still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group and so far as I understand, there will be an opening and closing ceremony in 2032 and all of you are going to get along there and understand the traditional parts of that, what’s involved in an opening ceremony.”  Gruffly, he issued an instruction.  “So none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms, alright?”

While much hot air has been made about Coates, this vulgar episode served to show that the IOC is a body that dictates rather than advises. The dictatorial behaviour by Coates may well have been unintended, but was symbolically potent.  Used to years of giving directions, he slipped into his comfortable norm of chastisement.  The direction to an elected politician superbly captured the problems associated with an organisation that has done its best to warrant abolition.

To justify Tokyo 2020, the IOC has opted for a specially minted rhetoric that focuses on the human spirit and global solidarity in times of crisis, ignoring its own bullying and money hungry ways.  Think of the athletes and their challenges, the body tells us, a celebration that supposedly signals a halt to hostilities of countries as their sporting folk participate.  Forget the ballooning costs and resources that fall into ruin after the tournament.

This has been the special approach of IOC president Thomas Bach, who misspoke by calling the Japanese “Chinese people”.  He stated on July 15, with an almost contemptuous air, that there was “zero” risk of athletes passing on the virus to residents of the Olympic village or to the Japanese populace in general.  The Mainichi newspaper put paid to that assertion, noting how athletes arriving in the country’s airports were doing so in a state of “disarray” with some “coming close to general travellers and fans asking for autographs”.  The idea of maintaining hermetic “Olympic bubbles” is already proving spurious.

Bach has become a despot in full form, dominating the IOC even more so than such predecessors as Juan Antonio Samaranch.  In this, he keeps good company with Coates, who lectured Japan by insisting that the games go ahead despite the pandemic and continuing state of emergency.  All health requirements and prescriptions outlined in the organisation’s health playbooks were sound, and opposition to the staging of the games, he confidently observed, would wane as vaccination rates improved.  “I think that there’s a correlation between the numbers who are concerned about their safety with the numbers who have been vaccinated in Japan.”

As it happens, Japan’s vaccination rate continues to be poor, as is the general public impression of the games.  Major sponsors such as Fujitsu, Asahi and Panasonic have turned up their nose at the opening ceremony.  Toyota has joined them and is refusing to run advertising connected with the games “out of sensitivity to the COVID-19 situation.”

Public health specialists are beside themselves with worry, though a contribution to the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month could still praise the games as connecting “us at a time of global disconnect.”  Despite such enthusiasm, the authors were damning in claiming that the IOC playbooks were “not built on scientifically rigorous risk assessment, and they fail to consider the ways in which exposure occurs, the factors that contribute to exposure, and which participants may be at highest risk.”  According to one of the authors, Michael Osterholm, the planning had focused on dealing with respiratory droplets prevention.  “The science is now convincingly showing that this is an airborne virus, largely, which means it’s like cigarette smoke, it will float wherever.”

Japan’s officials also find themselves in a bind.  Japanese Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi was brutally frank in writing that the games had “already lost their meaning and are being held just for the sake of them.”  The organisers had “been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.”  The opportunity to cancel had passed.  This mad, costly pandemic experiment is upon us.

The post Tokyo’s Pandemic Games Open first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Solidarity with Resistance to Extraction

People the world over are opposing fossil fuel extraction in an incalculable number of ways.  It is now clear that burning fossil fuels threatens millions of Life forms and could be laying the foundation for the extermination of Humanity.  But what about “alternative” energy?  As progressives stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those rejecting fossil fuels and nuclear power, should we despise, ignore, or commend those who challenge the menace to their homes and their communities from solar, wind and hydro-power (dams)?  The Green Party of St. Louis/Gateway Green Alliance gave its answer with unanimous approval of a version of the statement below in May, 2021.

*****

Global Conflicts Over Fossil Fuels, Nuclear and Alternative Energy

The monumental increase in the use of energy is provoking conflicts across the Earth.  We express our solidarity with those struggling against extraction, including these examples.

Standing Rock, North Dakota.  We stand in solidarity with the on-going Native American protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota protesting environmentally irresponsible and culturally damaging pipelines that transport crude oil extracted from tar sand, destroying their ancestral lands. So-called “clean” and “renewable” energies depend on the climate killer oil for their production.

Ogoni People vs. Shell.  We stand in solidarity with the Movement for Survival of Ogoni People against Shell. The Niger-Delta was devastated and traditional culture weakened by soil, surface and groundwater contamination that makes farming and fishing impossible.  Local communities still seek to receive denied compensation, clean-up, a share of the profits and a say in decision-making.

Coal extraction in India.  We stand in solidarity with the Centre for Policy Research in India as it opposes efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open 41 new coal mines because burning coal is a major factor in climate change, leads to asthma, premature births, and spreads toxins (including mercury) by air, water and land.

Fracking in Pennsylvania.  We stand in solidarity with the Green Party of Pennsylvania which has opposed fracking since 2008 when it realized that use of volatile chemicals could harm local communities and waterways and contribute to climate instability. Local residents have become ill and major waterways and delicate ecosystems have been damaged.

Nuclear power and Olympic Games.  We stand in solidarity with the No Nukes Action Committee of the Bay Area who are demonstrating against the Olympic Games slated for Tokyo in order to raise awareness of the ongoing disaster of Fukushima nuclear power since nuclear power is deadly and intimately connected with the potential for nuclear war.

Uranium Mining in Africa.  We stand in solidarity with “Solidarity Action for the 21 Villages” in Faléa, Mali against the French multinational COGEMA/Orano. After years of struggle, this NGO defeated a uranium mine through community mobilizing.  Aware of the detrimental effects on health, environment, agricultural land, water sources and cultural heritage, they are still fighting to undo already done infrastructural damage.

Solar arrays in Washington State.  We stand in solidarity with rural Klickitat County, WA residents who are being invaded by industrial solar facilities which would exceed 12,000 acres and undermine wildlife/habitat, ecosystems, ground/water, and food production because solar panels and lithium ion batteries contain carcinogens with no method of disposal or re-cycling and could contribute to wildfires from electrical shortages.

Wind turbines in Broome County NY.  We stand in solidarity with the Broome Tioga Green Party’s fight against industrial wind turbine projects that would increase drilling and mining, dynamite 26 pristine mountain tops, and destroy 120,000 trees while requiring precious minerals and lithium for batteries and being dependent on fossil fuels for their manufacture, maintenance and operation.

Hydro-power in Honduras.  We stand in solidarity with the indigenous Lenca people opposing the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River in Honduras whose leader Berta Cáceres was murdered for uniting different movements to expose how dams destroy farmland, leave forests bare, disturb ancestral burial sites, and deprive communities of water for crops and livestock.

Lithium mining in Thacker Pass.  We stand in solidarity with activists aiming to stop Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass open-pit mine (Nevada).  Essential for electronic devices including electric cars, the mine would destroy rare old-growth big sagebrush, harm wildlife including many endangered species and lower the water table. Its operation would require massive fossil fuel use and toxic waste ponds.

Cobalt Extraction in DR Congo.  We stand in solidarity with the child laborers slaving and dying in Democratic Republic of Congo cobalt mines.  Cobalt is an essential ingredient for some of the world’s fastest-growing industries—electric cars and electronic devices. It co-occurs with copper mining, used in construction, machinery, transportation and war technology worldwide.

Child Labour in Democratic Republic of Congo

Most of all, we stand in solidarity with thousands upon thousands of communities across the Earth opposing every form of extraction or transmission for energy which seeks to cover up human health and environmental dangers.

*****

The version adopted by the Gateway Green Alliance differs only by referring to its organizational name in the text.  If you would like to join those spreading the word regarding the need to challenge all forms of energy extraction because we can provide better lives for every society on Earth by reducing the global production of energy, please contact the author at the email below.

The post Solidarity with Resistance to Extraction first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Collaboration

African Americans must learn the truth about socialism that they may preserve their culture, get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease, and help America live up at least to a shadow of its vain boast as the land of the free and the home of the brave.
W.E.B DuBois

The Message is the Truth!

He who controls the media, controls the world. And with media, that is everything — curriculum design, product manuals, white papers, legislative treatises, novels, history books, magazines, on-line, off-line, textbooks, music, film, TV, the entire ranch, including The Press.

It was early when I got into Gannett papers, Pulitzer owned papers, small town mom and pop “chains, LA Times Syndicate, and others. Chilling, really, the naivete I had as a J student in Tucson, working the Arizona Daily Wildcat and other lab papers. Seems like I thought I was a warrior for truth, and that was on occasion true, but in the end, the powers that be in big or small locales control the message because the newspaper owners and editors usually are embedded in the community: Chamber of Commerce, School Board, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, and more.

There is not much freedom, and you better get the quotes right, and you better not pry too much around the edges.

No more competing newspapers in small towns. No more weeklies. No more radical and hokum papers. There are no more papers. Well, a few, but in this Zoom scroll world, and this antisocial shit storm of the social networks (sic), we have pretty threadbare conversations. Digital stories are worthless for that, getting the juices flowing. It’s all curated and personalized, these digital platforms and news aggregators; and there is just so much shit out there on the Internet the quagmire is part of the lesson plan and lessons learned — no one is right. Bullshit. Some great sources, in the digital world, but they are read by a few hundred, maybe a thousand or so. Writing rants in the comments sections, well, not sure the impact that has on anything other than ego building and endless criticism. There are a million know-it-all’s out there for every decent piece of news or feature.

But reading ain’t enough, since we need robust parsing and discourse, and exactly what it is we are asked to read and comprehend and take hook, line and sinker, as the prevailing truths of our time, or the situational truths of our day.

It is A Sickness: Shifting Baseline Disorder/Disease?

So much shifting baseline disorder, and so many truths lifting and tossed and remixed. Without education, that is, table and coffee talk, what have, it is a one-way line of communication. Even these little rants need some feedback, or better yet, discourse. Ain’t gunna happen. Here, today, on Democracy Now:

And this is something that the AP and other news organizations really need to think about. Who are we going to let work in our newsrooms? How are we going to deal with — I mean, if you have, for example, a whole generation of students who went to Black Lives Matter protests last summer, and then they come and take my journalism class at Stanford or another university, and they say, “You know what? I want to be a journalist,” and their lives live on TikTok and Instagram and all that, are all these journalists not — are these students not going to be able to be journalists now? I mean, are there not top managers in news organizations who were in anti-Vietnam protests in the ’60s, and their lives live on in Instagram?

Or is this specific to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Which, as you noted, the coverage is shifted the very week that Emily got caught up in this. You had the bombing of the AP bureau in Gaza. You had a very visceral reaction by the American public to the Israeli attacks in Gaza, in a way that you did not have in 2014 when 2,200 Palestinians were killed. You didn’t see this kind of reaction. You had, on the A1 of The New York Times on Sunday, a story about the brutality of life under Israeli occupation. These are all very unusual. Look on The New York Times today in terms of a letter from Gaza that really calls into question a lot of the Israeli narrative about Hamas and what’s really happening in Gaza. I mean, there’s just — there’s a major shift going on.

— Stanford journalism professor Janine Zacharia, a former Jerusalem bureau chief for the Washington Post

You Can’t Talk about this in Polite Company!

To distract from Gaza slaughter, Israel lobby manufactures antisemitism freakout. Grayzone.

media Israel lobby antisemitism

Mark Ruffalo apologizes for posts on Israel: ‘It’s inflammatory, disrespectful and is being used to justify antisemitism’

mark ruffalo

Emily Wilder’s Firing Is No Surprise: AP Has Always Been Right-Wing — Source.

Following the collapse of the Summit Conference in Paris, New Yorkers stop to read the news on the Associated Press ticker. (Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

On February 10, Abby Martin filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a Georgia law requiring all independent contractors to sign a pro-Israel pledge, promising to not participate or advocate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli crimes.

The death knell is talking critically about “Israel,” man. Line up those rusty three-penny nails and hammer truth away in a pine coffin. Facts don’t matter. The up is down, war is peace, lies are truth mentality and propaganda, that is on overdrive with the Zionists especially, those here, there, and in other parts of the world, like UK and Australia. Forget Canada!

Israel is in breach of more than 30 U.N. Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 that states that Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”

— Chris  Hedges in his recent commentary, “Israel, the Big Lie” for ScheerPost

To Boycott or Not to Boycott?

Well, that is not the question. Really, when I was working for the University of Texas in El Paso, there was a loyalty oath to the Texas Constitution. Basically, you sign a state statute disqualifying for government employment persons who advocate the overthrow of government by force or violence or persons who were members of organizations that so advocated; the statute had been supplemented by a provision applicable to teachers calling for the drawing up of a list of organizations that advocated violent overthrow and making membership in any listed organization prima facie evidence of disqualification.

No Sign, No Job. Or, for a measly adjunct with no union (as if teacher’s unions do squat for the rank and file), you attempt to push the illogic of a loyalty oath to the state’s constitution, etc., when, in fact, much of what some teachers do IS tied to groups the prevailing neoliberal, neocon, conservative consider as dissident, adversarial, contrary to the American/Texan way, etc. That was me for much of my 18 years, on and off, in El Paso.

Of course, those corrupt and syphilitic judges pushing state loyalty oaths, and loyalty ones for apartheid and murderous Israel, they come back like this in their legal opinions:  “If they do not choose to work on such terms, they are at liberty to retain their beliefs and associations and go elsewhere. Has the State thus deprived them of any right to free speech or assembly? We think not.”

A state could also deny employment based on a person’s “advocacy of overthrow” of the government by force or violence or based on unexplained membership in an organization so advocating with knowledge of the advocacy.

We already are behind the eight ball, as in these shit hole right to work (sic) states (read: anti union, anti worker rights, the right to get fired for no reason, thank you very much, mister, clean out your desk, and you have 10 minutes to leave the facility/office/warehouse/yard).

I’ve been escorted out of several workplaces with an hour’s notice, and these purveyors are wicked people, don’t let their PC and Cancel Culture and LGBTQAI+ spiels fool you.

Cancelling Your Subscription to Critical Thinking

Oh, so many ways that Tricky Shithead Force of Authority can wrangle “communist/radical/anarchist/Antifa/ ecoterrorist/antigovernment malcontent/fomenter of overthrow” out of this or that group or essay or membership into what would be now, terrorism. I was in Governor George W. Bush Country when it shifted — loyalty oath was required now of teachers, college adjuncts, what have you. “To honor, protect, defend and hold high the constitution of Texas . . . . ” El Paso may have voted straight democratic ticket, but many of the people in my circle who were artists, Chicanos, radicals outside that two-party system, but still voting for the lesser of two evils, always the democrat. Then, put in a large chunk of Latinx (mostly Mexicans and Mexican-Americans) who follow the Pope and indeed enlist in the military, well, we do have that conundrum of conservative “Hispanics.”

There really is no great place for a two-bit person — teaching hundreds of students at a time, in different schools or locations — to live. I was the Freeway Flyer, but in effect, now, before the lockdown and Zoom Rooms, 80 percent of all faculty are adjunct — just-in-time, precarious, at-will, 11th-hour, unprotected, un-benefited faculty.

That job is already fraught with landmines — bad department chairs, bad deans, asshole tenured faculty, bad unions, no unions, basic inhumane conditions in terms of teaching: no office, no health care, no nothing. That’s low wages, man — $6 an hour, $15, up to $18 (maybe).

Try being a creative teacher (I’ve written this a million times), and alas, scrutiny after scrutiny you find yourself in the public domain, even as a small fry. I was in the two newspapers all the time because I was working as a journalist, and I was not afraid of opinion pieces leveled against Empire, Powers, Administrators and the like.

Target after target are what I got plastered on my two-bit back. Hell, two-bit (no superstar teacher, shitty little articles, shitty little literary journals, shitty little everything in the eyes of the Capitalist Hierarchical Heathens) sometime feels like the world is against you, and other times, it seems as if the world could give squat what happens to you. That is the freedom, I guess — to never be noticed, read or consider an enemy of any “state.”

Above, that is, the story about Associated Press, it is no world of stopping the presses, so to speak. In terms of AP, well, a good piece over at the billionaire’s Intercept on that. Read:

“From its founding during the Mexican-American War to its reporting on Latin America today, AP’s always been quietly conservative” by Jon Schwartz.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS has received an enormous amount of criticism, including from its own staffers, for firing Emily Wilder, 22, after hiring her as a news associate just 17 days before. According to AP, Wilder was let go for “violations of AP’s social media policy.” AP’s action was clearly in response to a right-wing pressure campaign targeting Wilder for her activism in college supporting Palestinian rights.

[…]

AP’s conservatism continued for the rest of the century. Seymour Hersh, who worked for AP from 1962 to 1967, later said editors there were “timid on Vietnam” and that he could not have written his 1970 exposé of the My Lai Massacre for the wire service. In 1984, at a time of great fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan “joked” before a radio address that “I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” An AP reporter filed an article on this, but editors didn’t publish it — until other news outlets ran the story. That same year, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger asked AP not to run what it knew about the launch of a military satellite. AP happily obeyed.

The-Masses-Political-Cartoon-AP

I worked on stories for the AP a long time ago, and had friends who were employed by the AP. Absolutely, covering Southeast Arizona, the border, the militarized border, and such, I ran into editors on the newspapers that employed me who were scared shitless because their small town owners were also scared shitless capitalists. Amazing, any balance, really, to the other side of the border repression, or the outright thuggery of the officials, well, that was chopped out. My buddies with the AP, well, mostly culled stories, or at least parsed to nothing!

No Competing Narratives Allowed!

The price you pay for arguing is no job. Loyalty oath to the Constitution of Texas? There were some of us protesting, and I think I just signed on the dotted line, Paula Abdulla, quickly and sloppily, and while I didn’t put down my real John Hancock, it still felt like a cop-out. Paula Abdulla has been a signature I have used over the years. Each one is a bit different, and I have perfected the signature to not contain any resemblance to my real signature.

The outcry, and the protests, sure, maybe they did something, and my own pathetic personal deceptive signature may have felt good, but in the end, This is Not My/Our House.

So many of my African-American brothers and sisters have repeatedly stated, as we worked in these nonprofit (poverty pimps) jobs, that when the supervisors plied their unethical, ill-mannered, rotten tools to subjugate professional social services professionals, and I railed, always, and I always got sacked, the rejoinder was from my Black brothers and sisters,  “This is not your house, Paul.” Not because of my skin color, because I am white, but because of my anti-Imperial, anti-authority, and oppositional defiance to the managers’ and overlords’ consistent and corrupting misjustice, and maladjusted injustice, all of what their hierarchies create in capitalism, I criticized/criticize.

Oh, then there are the multimillionaires, the Mark Ruffalo’s of the world. Imagine, the fear of losing films, man, for making a TRUE statement about Israel as an Apartheid State and a Genocidal Fanatical Religious State.

Any number of “projects” this Ruffalo multimillionaire hawks, well, this is the stuff of his backbone — fear of losing to the Israel Lobby.

The story dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. It stars Mark Ruffalo as Bilott, along with Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, and Bill Pullman.

Review: Dark Waters | Redbrick Film

Now, well, many Jewish writers have stated, “Of course, Jews run Hollywood.” I’m thinking about the early 2000s. Now, Google states:

hollywood5n-1-web

Mea Culpa, Holly-Dirt!

Of course, Oliver Stone also had to apologize —

During a Television Critic Association panel on his 10-hour television Showtime documentary A Secret History of America in January, Stone got started with this little ditty: “Hitler was an easy scapegoat.”

This weekend he amped it up a notch. The controversial director complained to the London Sunday Times of “Jewish domination of the media” and claimed that Hitler did more damage to Russia than he did to the Jews.

Stone, who is half-Jewish, told the Times: “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f—ed up United States foreign policy for years.”

While “Hitler was a Frankenstein [monster],” Stone said, “there was also a Dr. Frankenstein: German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.”

Stone continued: “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 million [killed].”

It is the most bizarre and conspiratorial thing of our times, no, the fact that Jews were the heads of the major Hollywood studios, yet what Stone stated was, well, wrong! And he too grovels, and apologizes for stating his opinion, or deploying his First Amendment rights.

Oliver Stone Chasing The Light Trump Movie Platoon, Scarface, Salvador – Deadline

The complex web of interactions between Hollywood and the German government in the decade before the War reveals quite a different story – one not of antifascism but of “collaboration” [“Zusammenarbeit”]. The studios agreed not to attack the Nazis in any of their productions, and in return American movies were permitted in Germany, even potentially threatening ones like King Kong. At the same time – and this was a result less of the direct arrangement between the two groups than of a much deeper shared understanding – the American studios eliminated Jewish characters from the screen entirely. For seven years, the studios put out movies that were unobjectionable and sometimes even beneficial from the Nazi standpoint, and as a result they were able to continue doing business with Germany. (Source).

Hitler and Hollywood: The Collaboration of American Movie Studios with Nazi Germany
By Benjamin Alexander Urwand

From the book:

9780863694431: An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood - AbeBooks - Kulik, Karol: 0863694438

The names Harry Cohn, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer, Jack and Harry Warner, and Adolph Zucker are giants in the history of contemporary Hollywood, outsiders who dared to invent their own vision of the American Dream.  Even to this day, the American values defined largely by the movies of these émigrés endure in American cinema and culture. Who these men were, how they came to dominate Hollywood, and what they gained and lost in the process is the exhilarating story of An Empire of Their Own.

That is the gigantic sticky wicket, no, that we have Hollywood invented by Jews, but, well, Jews Don’t Run Hollywood. Then, there are those Jews who write about how Jews Run the Media, too — media being a plural, including books, music, film, TV, radio, marketing, what have you, including The Press.

Well, there could be some .001 percenters in the financial world, billionaire class, white men, mostly, and some are Goy and others Jewish. That’s just fact.

Jews are estimated to make up less than 1.4% of the world’s population, yet approximately 25% of the world’s billionaires. Even the Times of Israel states this:

Forbes published its 2018 roster of America’s wealthiest this week, and five members of the tribe made the top 10 list.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads the Jewish pack at number 4, with a net worth of $61 billion. He is followed by software giant Oracle’s Larry Ellison at #5 with $58.4b and Google co-founder Larry Page at #6 with $53.8b.

Fellow co-founder Sergey Brin falls a bit behind with $52.4b, leaving him at #9. Finally, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg closes out the top 10 with a respectable $51.8b.

5 Jews make Forbes’ list of top 10 wealthiest Americans

Ahh, Oy Vey —

We Can Always Rewrite a Murder Conviction into Self-Defense, those little Bastard Babies!

You can have your cake and eat it too! But no matter how you spin it, please find movies out of Hollywood or distributed or acted in by big names that might, oh, look at the rampant racism, indoctrination of, and apartheid loving Jewish man or woman, or child, in Israel. Think about that, uh, a movie script that shows one of the IDF pilots refusing to bomb Gaza. You think there might be a Netflix or Hulu series on that, how the family is not split in half, but just one son, a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, refuses to bomb Gaza. Imagine those dinner table conversations. Nah, not on Netflix.

Listen to Dan Cohen and Miko Peled talk about how indoctrinated Jews are in Israel. This is what you need to know about an entire people destroyed by agency, and free thought:

Or Norman Finkelstein —

And then the question is: Why? And I think the answer is: Because, whether one likes it or not, Benjamin Netanyahu is the true face of Israel. He’s an obnoxious, loudmouth, racist, Jewish supremacist. And that’s the whole population now. Now, I’m saying it’s in their DNA. I’m not saying it’s genetic. But it is a very sorry thing that the state of Israel has degenerated into. And that—

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s clearly not the entire population. You have so many critics. You have a peace movement there.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, no, I would say—you know, Amy, I would wish that were the case. I would wish that were the case. But if you ask the critics themselves, if you ask a Gideon Levy, you ask an Amira Hass, you ask a—

AMY GOODMAN: Who write for Haaretz.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Right—you ask B’Tselem, you ask—

AMY GOODMAN: The human rights group.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Right—Breaking the Silence, the soldiers’ group, they’ll tell you they represent nobody. They’ll tell you they don’t represent anymore. There was a period where they represented at least a factor in Israeli life. But it’s no longer true. And the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu endures, despite the succession of scandals, is a manifestation of how much that society has degenerated.

So, Gideon Levy, I think, the columnist, he made a comment the other day which I found very interesting. He said, the Israelis, they see a fellow in a wheelchair—he lost both his legs—in Gaza. He’s holding a flag. They shoot him right between the eyes, a sharpshooter. Everybody sees it on video. He says, no Israelis cared. Then another kid is killed. In this case, the second case, a kid is killed. A third is killed. Nobody cares. One thing they care about: The young girl, Ahed Tamimi, smacked an Israeli soldier. That causes hysteria. How dare a Palestinian smack an Israeli soldier? But the daily atrocities— Source.

Of course, by highlighting these statements, all of this, well, in the minds of racists, it’s antisemitism.

How much bearing witness do we go through?

Storytelling 101 — Only A Chosen Few Tell Our Stories

You think there are any dramatizations of that situation? Sure, come on, what about the Family known as, the Glosser Family:

Let me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration.

It begins at the turn of the 20th century, in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack, Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.

He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian and Yiddish, he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweatshop toil, Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hardworking immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens.

What does this classically American tale have to do with Stephen Miller? Well, Izzy Glosser is his maternal grandfather, and Stephen’s mother, Miriam, is my sister.

Will there be a totally interesting Netflix Original or Amazon Studies flick on that Stephen Miller dynamic family life, and the variations on a theme of how many Jews are racists, not just some Miller-Trump aberration. We can have Norman Lear with Archie Bunker and all of that in that family, but, what about the Miller-Glosser All About Apartheid series?

Many of us wonder how it is the stories of the “other people” get told through the eyes of the White American or European scriptwriter or producer or director or novelist? Come on. Look at the films and documentaries, and look at the credits and follow the money, the Ivy League, the East Coast chosen ones.

That quote from above is from Miller’s uncle’s short piece, and you never-ever see any mention of the border wall, the economic strangulation, the eye, knee, torso shooting. No mention of the apartheid state and the daily international laws of humanity broken by Israel, and the chosen people:  It would be a perfect piece to broach that topic, since Miller and Trump love what Israel does to Palestine. But He doesn’t do it, Mr. Glosser.

— “Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle. If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out” by David S. Glosser

Here, more of that chosen people, and their amazing PR bombs, הַסְבָּרָה

‎(Hasbara is a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. Often, Hasbara efforts includes a negative portrayal of the Arabs and especially of Palestinians.)

The Israel lobby’s latest blitz of antisemitism allegations has successfully deflected US media’s attention away from Israel’s deliberate bombing of civilian towers and extermination of entire families in Gaza, the pogroms Jewish extremists waged against Palestinians just minutes from Tel Aviv, and the ongoing police round-up of Palestinian citizens of Israel. In turn, it has cast an American Jewish community basking in almost unimaginable affluence and privilege as the true victims of the Israel-Palestine crisis, while impugning a movement agitating for the rights of a dispossessed and colonized people as bigoted criminals.

Max Blumenthal

Hasbara: Why does the world fail to understand us?

Shifting Baselines — Oh, the Marketing, Man, Mad Men, Women, LGBTQIA+

  • Free beer and a hot dog: Across US, incentives push to get holdouts vaccinated against COVID-19
  • States are getting creative with vaccine incentives. In Kentucky, you can win up to $225K
  • $1m in Ohio. $100 savings bonds in West Virginia. How incentives could improve the vaccination rate
  • Want tickets to the Super Bowl or a seven-day cruise? Get vaccinated at CVS

COVID-19 vaccine on April 16, 2021, in New York City.

Some of the recipients of a Michigan marijuana dispensary's "Pot for Shots" scheme

Some of the recipients of a Michigan marijuana dispensary’s “Pot for Shots” scheme

 

Oh, those were the days, uh, lifting the Black power salute in Mexico City, and, well, banned for life. May Lee Evans R.I.P.

Lee Evans, an African American sprinter who helped found the Olympic Project for Human Rights after leading protests against racism in the United States, has died in Nigeria at the age of 74. Lee Evans won two gold medals while setting world records in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

His victories came just days after John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute as the U.S. national anthem played during an awards ceremony. Carlos and Smith were suspended from the U.S. team and would later be banned for life from the Olympics for their protest in support of Black lives. Just two days later, Lee Evans wore a black beret and raised his fist in a similar protest, after winning a gold medal in the 400-meter dash.

Harry Edwards, who co-founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights, said, “Lee Evans was one of the greatest athletes and social justice advocates in an era that produced a generation of such courageous, committed and contributing athlete-activists.” (Source)

Oh, that fucking Olympics — one continuing criminal enterprise. Maybe several thousand students and others murdered, beginning in July, 1968, with the October 2, 1968 massacre, 10 days before the Olympic games were to begin in Mexico City. Police and army thugs fired on thousands of demonstrators. Hundreds were killed, thousands were beaten and jailed, and the government did its best to sweep the incident under the rug. No boycott there, uh?

Monument at site of 1968 Mexico City Massacre.

Memory of Tlatelolco
by Rosario Castellanos

And who saw that brief, vivid flash of light?
Who is the one who kills?
Who are the ones who breathe their last; who die?
Who are the ones fleeing without their shoes?
Who are the ones belonging to the deep well of jails?
Who are the ones rotting in hospital?
Who are the ones struck dumb, forever, with horror?
Who? Who are the ones? Nobody. The next morning, nobody.
They found the square was swept clean. The front pages of the newspapers were full of the state of the weather. And on the television, on the radio, in the cinema, there was no change of programming, no special announcement. Not any meaningful silence in the midst of the banquet, because the banquet went on.
Don’t look for what isn’t there: traces, bodies, it’s all been given as an offering to a goddess, the Great Devourer of Excrement…
There are no official records.
Yet the fact is I can touch a wound.
In my memory it hurts, therefore it’s true.
I remember. We remember.
That’s our way of helping the very brave on so many a stained mind…
I remember.
Let’s all remember until justice becomes clear among us.

Rosario Castellanos (May 25, 1925 – August 7, 1974) was a Mexican poet and author.

Now those Tokyo Olympics, to be cancelled  or not to be cancelled, because of coronavirus SARS-CoV2? Contractual law, right, and the message is Covid-19, super spreader event, those 100 yard dashes?

JULES BOYKOFF: Each time an Olympic host city gets ready to start the games, they need to sign a host city contract with the International Olympic Committee. Those contracts are extremely lopsided in favor of the International Olympic Committee, and it gives them — and only them — the power to cancel the Olympics in a case like this. So, when the prime minister of Japan states in public, under pressure from people in Japan and around the world to cancel the Olympics — when the prime minister states in public that he actually doesn’t have the power to cancel the Olympics, he’s absolutely correct.

And that’s part of a larger state of exception that comes into the Olympic city when the Olympics arrive on your doorstep. There are all sorts of special laws that are put into place, all sorts of special rules that are put into place. New technologies are secured for the Olympics. So, for example, in Tokyo, you see facial recognition systems being put in place at all Olympic venues, even though they’re known for having a racial bias. Security forces use the Olympics to get all the special weapons and funding they’d normally never be able to get during normal political times.

And so, that’s exactly what we’re seeing transpire here. The all-powerful IOC, that is really a privileged sliver of the global 1%, is exerting itself and forcing the games ahead against the will of the population. More than 80% of the people in Japan oppose hosting the Olympics this summer, and yet the IOC insists on pressing ahead.

Boykoff, scholar and former Olympic athlete who played for the U.S. Olympic soccer team from 1989 to 1991. He has published several pieces, his latest this morning in The Washington Post, “Tokyo is learning that the only force stronger than a pandemic is the Olympics.” His guest essay in The New York Times is headlined “A Sports Event Shouldn’t Be a Superspreader. Cancel the Olympics.” He’s written four books about the Olympics, his latest headlined NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beyond.

Donuts for that jab, and what about the booster, uh? Nah, do not expect free trips on a shit-hole cruise line. Expect a letter from Uncle Sam (Big Pharma induced) that states: “Thanks for participating in the Covid-19 vaccination last year, and we now have an easy-booster program. Kiosks, with your vaccine passport in hand on that app, you go to one of these, put that app on the scanner, along with your cornea scan, and put your left or right arm (doesn’t matter) into the high tech device, and there you go, instant booster. No line, nothing, since Big Tech will be hosting these kiosks by the millions in all those zip codes and all Census tracks. Isn’t Making America Vaccinated Great Again?”

I kid you not, so No Jab, No Life. Lockdown. Permanent. Expect those wearable ankle bracelets for all unvaccinated folk. Expect those by next Xmas.

That is the shifting baseline, no? Today, on Dissident Voice (May 27) hot off the digital press:

The ease with which the German authorities implemented the new official ideology, and how fanatically it has been embraced by the majority of Germans, came as something of a shock. I had naively believed that, in light of their history, the Germans would be among the first to recognize a nascent totalitarian movement predicated on textbook Goebbelsian Big Lies (i.e., manipulated Covid “case” and “death” statistics), and would resist it en masse, or at least take a moment to question the lies their leaders were hysterically barking at them.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Here we are, over a year later, and waiters and shop clerks are “checking papers” to enforce compliance with the new official ideology. (And, yes, the “New Normal” is an official ideology. When you strip away the illusion of an apocalyptic plague, there isn’t any other description for it). Perfectly healthy, medical-masked people are lining up in the streets to be experimentally “vaccinated.” Lockdown-bankrupted shops and restaurants have been converted into walk-in “PCR-test stations.” The government is debating mandatory “vaccination” of children in kindergarten. Goon squads are arresting octogenarians for picnicking on the sidewalk without permission. And so on. At this point, I’m just sitting here waiting for the news that mass “disinfection camps” are being set up to solve the “Unvaccinated Question.”

— “Greetings from “New Normal” Germany! by C.J. Hopkins

 

Passengers remain onboard the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship in Cozumel, Mexico, on February 27, 2020. - A cruise carrying 6,000 people which was turned away by Jamaica and the Cayman Islands after a crew member tested positive for flu has docked in Mexico. (Photo by JOSE CASTILLO / AFP) (Photo by JOSE CASTILLO/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Oh, C.J. Hopkins, I wonder if you are getting the putridity of Capitalism, mixed with the strong arm and stiff arm salute of the Corporate elite, the Group of 30 and those 199 Companies controlling human and animal and flora kind! Make that an a great One-Seven, 17: Check out journalist Abby Martin interview Peter Phillips, former director of Project Censored and professor of Political Sociology at Sonoma State University. His new book “Giants: The Global Power Elite” details the 17 transnational investment firms which control over $50 trillion in wealth—and how they are kept in power by their activists, facilitators and protectors.

So, donuts, ballpark trips, Super Bowl, marijuana, and alas, free cruise trips, to get the jab. Oh, wehat about all those millions who lined up for the jab who got nothing but a masked technician moving them along. Look at Portland, OR, man, of course, St. Clair laughing at any other narrative around SARS-CoV2. This Counterpuncher is, well, so so confident in his so-so wrong view of how to debate an issue. Shit!

When I arrived at the Convention Center (which Portland old-timers (ie, people who have lived here longer than five years) have long referred to as the Palais de Gaultier, because the twin glass cones outside the hulking post-modernist structure resemble the spiky bra Jean-Paul designed for Madonna during the Blonde Ambition Tour), it was clear that the vibe of the place had changed. Three weeks earlier, the cavernous building had a community atmosphere. The way stations were helmed by welcoming volunteers, the jabbing was done by retired physicians, the recovery rooms monitored by local nurses.

Now the building resembled an armed camp. Those of us about to be shot were herded into serpentine lines by burly figures in uniform and combat boots, their severe eyes scanning our faces from behind camouflaged masks. The festive spirit of April had been replaced by May’s military gloom.

The National Guard had taken over the operation and few of them looked glad to be here, as if helping to save what’s left of the Republic from a killer pandemic was beneath their calling and that they’d rather be searching the border for migrant “caravans” or making some of the last raids on peasant villages in Kandahar before the big show leaves Afghanistan.

There was something deeply unsettling about the entire scene and it flashed into my head that the Guard had taken over not for reasons of efficiency, but to instill popular fear about what a national health care system might look like if it fell into the wrong hands. The vaccination program in the US has been one of the most successful government operations in decades and one that the moneyed interests are desperate not to see replicated.

Oh, the most successful government operation in decades! Whew, C.J. Hopkins! His last posting on Counterpunch is August 2018! He starts publishing over at Off-Guardian, June 2018!

Here you go with those cruise lines, man!

Last week, the Economist asked the question in the title of its article about excessive corporate compensation – Will Shareholders Halt the Inexorable Rise of CEO Pay? Today, a clear majority of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shareholders in what is called a “say-on-pay” vote, gave a big “thumbs down” to the company’s plan to pay its CEO Frank Del Rio $36,400,000 million for 2020, according to a Miami Herald article published this afternoon.

Herald Reporter Taylor Dolven wrote “in a rare rebuke, 83% of shareholders did not approve the company’s executive compensation in a non-binding vote” today. The newspaper cited Luis Navas, an executive compensation adviser, describing the vote as “incredibly embarrassing.”

Yes, its should be embarrassing, but that assumes this cruise executive is capable of feeling shame. Even before the pandemic, CEO Del Rio was the poster child of a spoiled, overpaid cruise executive in an industry where companies incorporate in places like Liberia (Royal Caribbean) and register their cruise ships in places like (Panama) and the Bahamas (NCL) in order to avoid all U.S. income taxes and wage and labor laws.

— Check it out, Dirty Cruises, Jim Walker’s cite

That new new abnormal normal here ends with the dumb PR rag from one of the alma maters, Eastern Washington University. It’s called, Eastern. It is a deplorable PR rag, like all the others I have been associated with through three college degrees — University of Arizona, University of Texas and now EWU.

There is an interim president, some political science faculty named David May. He replaced some English faculty who was president for a few months, who is going back to teaching in that English Department.

Some of the stuff coming from May’s mouth is pure “I am your leader and I listen to you and I was ready to save the world, err, Cheney, WA, and even Spokane, from the deadly pandemic.”

The “article” is just out, titled, “Man of the Moment.” On page 28 of the piece, it is clear this May has the agenda in mind of the World Economic Forum and Davos and the Tech Wunderkinds. He doesn’t know it, though.

The article’s write states that May isn’t dwelling on all the storms swirling around him. He is focused on the best way to serve students of Eastern, even before Covid-19. They call it, “right-sizing,” par of an Academic Review Program coming to a college and community college and university near you. Double-speak, this “right-sizing.”

As in sizing out programs. This is about student demand and regional needs for graduates, as well as looking at program to program, department to department, budget shortfalls.

“We will continue to teach art, we will continue to teach music, we will continue to teach philosophy, we will continue to teach political science, but we have to rethink how those things fit into the overall education of the student.”

Case closed, folks. This short of shit came into play for me as a graduate student in 1983, and while the great days of undergraduate school, 1974-1979, at the University of Arizona may have put me into the mix as a report and assistent editor of the daily Wildcat, this is the way of budgets determined by the capitalists, the Military Industrial Complex’s demands. And we know the MIC is:

  • business programs
  • chemistry programs
  • biology programs
  • marketing programs
  • law programs
  • computing programs
  • engineering programs
  • life sciences programs
  • psychology departments
  • sociology programs
  • journalism programs
  • bio-tech programs
  • drone programs
  • architecture programs
  • criminal justice programs
  • pharmacy programs
  • communication programs
  • planning programs
  • health programshttps://www.truthdig.com/articles/rise-of-the-managerial-class/
  • physics programs
  • et al (look up a typical four-year research institution’s departments and programs and show me the ones NOT making bank from that MIC?)

That is the shifting baseline for some of us who thought, naively, that there would still be scrappy and independent minded and against Empire faculty and students participating in those schools of higher education. The entire system is corrupted, and alas, now, as I receive instanteous (a day after applying) rejections from various agencies, nonprofits and government agencies, I get that middle man’s life is the destroyer of it all. They sign up for my name, Paul Haeder, Paul K. Haeder, PK Haeder, to see the dirt on me. I have some cousin I never met, who is an MD with my name, so he must get some odd out of the blue emails or such, but in the end, the schools I have envisioned are nothing in comparison to K12 or K20 or post doctoral.

The political science faculty interim president of a small college (oh, they will put money into new buildings, new stadium infrastructure, etc. — you know, priorities) may have had a great teaching career, and he can just cite how he took over the helm under those swirling storms, but alas, this is what those liberal class and dream hoarders ( Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It)  and Professional Managerial Class (Source) have done.

At a time when corporate America is exploring and exploiting its new Supreme-Court-bestowed role in the management of American election results, an earlier transformation in the composition and political role of American business leadership should be recalled. This was the replacement of the Gilded Age capitalists and industrialists — audacious, rapacious and innovative, who created the post-Civil War American industrial economy — by the early 20th-century professional managers who took their place.

William Pfaff

Liberals, largely comprised of the professional-managerial class that dutifully recycles and shops for organic produce and is concentrated on the two coasts, have profited from the ravages of neoliberalism. They seek to endow it with a patina of civility. But their routine and public humiliation has ominous consequences. It not only exposes the liberal class as hollow and empty, it discredits the liberal democratic values they claim to uphold. Liberals should have abandoned the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton and political hacks such as Biden transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and launched a war on traditional liberal values and left-wing populism. They should have defected by the millions to support Ralph Nader and other Green Party candidates.

Chris Hedges

main article image

**Speech, W.E.B. DuBois

The post Collaboration first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Suicidal Games: Tokyo’s Coronavirus Olympics

A pandemic crisis.  A state of emergency.  Overwhelming public opinion bristling with alarm.  Notwithstanding these factors, Tokyo is still on track to host the Olympics that was cancelled last year in response to the global pandemic.  The first sports team – Australia’s softball crew – has touched down.  Is all this folly, bravery or self-interest?

On a daily basis, the tally of reasons against holding the games grows.  Currently, the Japanese capital and nine other regions in the country labour under a declared state of emergency, one that will extend, at the very least, to June 20.  Overseas fans have been barred and some 600,000 tickets refunded.  Travel warnings have been registered, none more unequivocal than the US State Department’s advisory: “Do not travel to Japan due to COVID-19.”  As the grave Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga warned, “The next three weeks are an extremely important period in achieving results in infection prevention and vaccine inoculation, a two-pronged strategy.”

An important point here is the sheer porcine obstinacy of the administration wonks whose very existence depends on an event that takes place every four years.  They form what can only be described as the “show must go on” brigade, given the billions of dollars at stake regarding television rights.  These furnish the International Olympic Committee some 75 percent of its income, with the US broadcaster NBC being the major contributor.

The President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, has shown little concern as to what Japan is facing in terms of public health.  “We have to make some sacrifices to make [the games] possible.”  World Athletics President and IOC member Sebastian Coe is convinced that competitors will be “hermitically sealed from local people”.

The IOC vice-president John Coates, filled with the lunatic spirit of the Light Brigade, insists that the games proceed as scheduled.  “The Prime Minister of Japan said that to the President of the United States two or three weeks ago,” Coates told reporters after the AOC annual general meeting in Sydney.  “He continues to say that to the IOC.”  Coates felt that the “playbook” of health regulations covering participants was an adequate “guide for a safe and successful games”.

Administrators such as Coates have taken it upon themselves to assume some depth of public health knowledge.  Regarding the situation in Japan, he was happy to prognosticate.  “The numbers [of infections] are very small, particularly amongst the elderly.  And so as the vaccine is rolled out in Japan, I think that will improve.”  It was incumbent, he urged, that Japanese authorities reassure the public that all was well and that the safety measures were more than adequate.

The much touted Tokyo 2020 Playbook has had a few iterations.  As it stands, an extensive testing regime will be in place both before, during and after the event.  Social interaction will be limited.  Eating is to take place in designated areas.  The use of public transportation and sightseeing is prohibited.  Athletes must abide by various rules or be barred from competing: undergo testing at least once every four days, maintain a distance of 6 feet apart, eschew high-fives, hugging or sex.  The latter injunction is to read alongside the odd promise to distribute 150,000 free condoms, a classic example of absurd committee logic.

Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee, is almost blithe in assuming that the crisis will plateau.  With pandemic restrictions in place, there was an expectation that “the infection situation” would “improve”.  “Once the state of emergency is lifted, we will assess how many spectators we can allow in.”

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, in response to objections being levelled at holding the games, considered it “natural” that “different media organisations have different views”.  As with other organisers, he felt that the “stringent measures” that had been put in place by national and local governments would improve the situation.

In the face of all of this is a clamour for the game’s cancellation.  This is the position taken by the Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun, an official Games sponsor which has called upon Prime Minister Suga to “make a calm, objective assessment of the situation and make the decision to cancel this summer’s Olympics.”  The editors also took issue with the “self-righteous” disposition of Coates and other IOC Committee leaders, rebuking them for being “out of step” with Japanese public opinion.  “Saying ‘yes’ without demonstrating any clear grounds for it once again drove the self-righteous image of the IOC.”

Others have been even more acid in their comments.  The chief of the Japanese online retailer Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani is baffled by the determination of administrators to proceed with the event.  “The fact that we are so late for the vaccinations, it’s really dangerous to host the big international event.”  To hold it would be tantamount to staging “a suicide mission”.  Chief executive of the Softbank Group, Masayoshi Son, has issued dire warnings about 100,000 people from 200 countries descending “on vaccine-laggard Japan”.  The arrival of mutant variants could see the loss of more lives, the need for subsidies and more economic losses.  “If we consider what the public has to endure, I think we could have a lot more to lose.”

Most troubling of all for concerned Japanese citizens is the way Suga’s government has ceded authority to the IOC in what can only be regarded as a disgraceful abdication of responsibility.  Last month, the prime minister went so far as to defer authority to the sporting body: “the IOC has the authority to decide”.  No wonder Bach and Coates are so confident.

The post Suicidal Games: Tokyo’s Coronavirus Olympics first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fukushima Jitters

Fukushima is full of nasty surprises, similar to John Carpenter’s classic film The Thing (1982), which held audiences to the edge of their seats in anticipation of creepy monsters leaping out from “somebody, anybody, nobody knows for sure,” but unlike Hollywood films, Fukushima’s consequences are real and dire and deathly. It’s an on-going horror show that just won’t quit.

Only recently, a team of international researchers, including a group of scientists from the University of Manchester/UK and Kyushu University/Japan made a startling discovery. Within the nuclear exclusion zone in paddy soils and at an aquaculture center located several miles from the nuclear plant, the research team found cesium-rich micro-particles.

Evidently, the radioactive debris was blown into the environment during the initial meltdowns and accompanying hydrogen blasts. Accordingly, the environmental impact of radiation fallout may last much longer than previously expected.1

According to Dr. Gareth Law, senior lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester:

Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone. Whilst it is extremely difficult to get samples from such an inhospitable environment, further work will enhance our understanding….2

Their discovery dispels the long-held view that the initial explosion only emitted gaseous radionuclides. Now, it is clear that solid particles with very long-lived radionuclides were emitted. The research team did not discuss the likely impact, as more analysis is necessary before drawing conclusions.

Decidedly, they’d best hurry up, as the Olympics are scheduled for 2020.

Still, this discovery smacks in the face the government’s and TEPCO’s statements about successful cleanup efforts and pressuring prior residents to return to homes in the exclusion zones.

In another recent development, lethal levels of radiation have unexpectedly popped up in leaks at the nuclear plant facility, as explained in an article by Jeff Farrell:3

TEPCO has discovered lethal levels of radiation leaking around the facilities, radiation that would kill a person within one-hour of exposure. Even though this is not entirely a surprise with 100% total meltdowns and tons of radioactive corium sizzling wildly underneath, irradiating like crazy. This is why radioactive water continues flowing into the Pacific Ocean, necessitated to cool white-hot sizzling corium. Nobody knows what the long-term effect will be for the ocean, but guaranteed, it cannot be good.

Furthermore and distressingly, Mycle Schneider of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report claims, “TEPCO does not have a clue” to decommissioning the plant. That’s not comforting, knowing that mistakes could circumnavigate the planet much worse than the current flow of radioactive water into the Pacific, thus turning into a global catastrophe of unspeakable proportions.

After all, according to the Japa Meteorological Agency, the country has 100,000 earthquakes every year. Who knows what can happen to rickety broken down nuclear reactors in a country that slip slides so easily, so readily, so often, totally unpredictably.

According to Schneider: “It’s a disaster of unseen proportions.” The radiation leaks, coupled with inappropriate storage of radioactive waste has global consequences. Schneider is aghast at the sloppiness and ignorance of TEPCO, in charge of handling the disaster.

This is an area of the planet that gets hit by tornadoes and all kinds of heavy weather patterns, which is a problem. When you have waste stored above ground in inappropriate ways, it can get washed out and you can get contamination all over the place… This can get problematic anytime, if it contaminates the ocean there is no local contamination, the ocean is global, so anything that goes into the ocean goes to everyone… It needs to be clear that this problem is not gone; this is not just a local problem. It’s a very major thing.4

And remarkably, the Olympics are coming to Tokyo and Fukushima in 2020.

For the world’s best and clearest understanding of the power and imposing danger inherent with nuclear power, the following is a spectacular power point demonstration that discusses the ABCs of nuclear power: “The Age of Nuclear Waste, From Fukushima to Indian Point“, prepared for the Fukushima anniversary on March 11, 2017 by Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., president Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibiliy. It’s the best-ever most important-ever description of nuclear power, the process, and inherent dangers.

See a list of 211 man-made radionuclides (p.59 of the power point) contained in irradiated nuclear fuel, not found in nature, which should be a big tip-off of potential dangers inherent with irradiated isotopes… umm, not part of nature!

Gordon Edwards discusses the nuclear waste “word game” as follows:

(1) “Clean-up” is moving nuclear waste from one place to another;
(2) “Decontamination” is collecting and repacking, but not eliminating; and,
(3) “Nuclear Waste Disposal” is abandoning nuclear waste “somewhere.”

In short, there is no such thing as “getting rid of nuclear radiation waste.”

According to The Age of Nuclear Waste, From Fukushima to Indian Point, it’s impossible to dispose of nuclear waste!

Postscript:

It would be irresponsible and morally wrong to commit future generations to the consequences of fission power… unless it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that at least one method exist for the safe isolation of these wastes….

— Sir Brian Flowers, UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, London, 1976.

  1. New Evidence of Nuclear Fuel Releases Found at Fukushima, University of Manchester, Phys.org, February 28, 2018.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Lethal Levels of Radiation Detected in Leak Seven Years After Plant Meltdown in Japan”, Independent/UK, February 2, 2018.
  4. Mycle Schneider of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.