Category Archives: Police brutality

The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism

In October 2019, in a speech at an International Monetary Fund conference, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King warned that the world was sleepwalking towards a fresh economic and financial crisis that would have devastating consequences for what he called the “democratic market system”.

According to King, the global economy was stuck in a low growth trap and recovery from the crisis of 2008 was weaker than that after the Great Depression. He concluded that it was time for the Federal Reserve and other central banks to begin talks behind closed doors with politicians.

In the repurchase agreement (repo) market, interest rates soared on 16 September. The Federal Reserve stepped in by intervening to the tune of $75 billion per day over four days, a sum not seen since the 2008 crisis.

At that time, according to Fabio Vighi, professor of critical theory at Cardiff University, the Fed began an emergency monetary programme that saw hundreds of billions of dollars per week pumped into Wall Street.

Over the last 18 months or so, under the guise of a ‘pandemic’, we have seen economies closed down, small businesses being crushed, workers being made unemployed and people’s rights being destroyed. Lockdowns and restrictions have facilitated this process. The purpose of these so-called ‘public health measures’ has little to do with public health and much to do with managing a crisis of capitalism and ultimately the restructuring of the economy.

Neoliberalism has squeezed workers income and benefits, offshored key sectors of economies and has used every tool at its disposal to maintain demand and create financial Ponzi schemes in which the rich can still invest in and profit from. The bailouts to the banking sector following the 2008 crash provided only temporary respite. The crash returned with a much bigger bang pre-Covid along with multi-billion-dollar bailouts.

The dystopian ‘great reset’ that we are currently witnessing is a response to this crisis. This reset envisages a transformation of capitalism.

Fabio Vighi sheds light on the role of the ‘pandemic’ in all of this:

… some may have started wondering why the usually unscrupulous ruling elites decided to freeze the global profit-making machine in the face of a pathogen that targets almost exclusively the unproductive (over 80s).

Vighi describes how, in pre-Covid times, the world economy was on the verge of another colossal meltdown and chronicles how the Swiss Bank of International Settlements, BlackRock (the world’s most powerful investment fund), G7 central bankers and others worked to avert a massive impending financial meltdown.

The world economy was suffocating under an unsustainable mountain of debt. Many companies could not generate enough profit to cover interest payments on their own debts and were staying afloat only by taking on new loans. Falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cash flows and highly leveraged balance sheets were rising everywhere.

Lockdowns and the global suspension of economic transactions were intended to allow the Fed to flood the ailing financial markets (under the guise of COVID) with freshly printed money while shutting down the real economy to avoid hyperinflation.

Vighi says:

… the stock market did not collapse (in March 2020) because lockdowns had to be imposed; rather, lockdowns had to be imposed because financial markets were collapsing. With lockdowns came the suspension of business transactions, which drained the demand for credit and stopped the contagion. In other words, restructuring the financial architecture through extraordinary monetary policy was contingent on the economy’s engine being turned off.

It all amounted to a multi-trillion bailout for Wall Street under the guise of COVID ‘relief’ followed by an ongoing plan to fundamentally restructure capitalism that involves smaller enterprises being driven to bankruptcy or bought up by monopolies and global chains, thereby ensuring continued viable profits for these predatory corporations, and the eradication of millions of jobs resulting from lockdowns and accelerated automation.

Author and journalist Matt Taibbi noted in 2020:

It retains all the cruelties of the free market for those who live and work in the real world, but turns the paper economy into a state protectorate, surrounded by a kind of Trumpian Money Wall that is designed to keep the investor class safe from fear of loss. This financial economy is a fantasy casino, where the winnings are real but free chips cover the losses. For a rarefied segment of society, failure is being written out of the capitalist bargain.

The World Economic Forum says that by 2030 the public will ‘rent’ everything they require. This means undermining the right of ownership (or possibly seizing personal assets) and restricting consumer choice underpinned by the rhetoric of reducing public debt or ‘sustainable consumption’, which will be used to legitimise impending austerity as a result of the economic meltdown. Ordinary people will foot the bill for the ‘COVID relief’ packages.

If the financial bailouts do not go according to plan, we could see further lockdowns imposed, perhaps justified under the pretext of  ‘the virus’ but also ‘climate emergency’.

It is not only Big Finance that has been saved. A previously ailing pharmaceuticals industry has also received a massive bailout (public funds to develop and purchase the vaccines) and lifeline thanks to the money-making COVID jabs.

The lockdowns and restrictions we have seen since March 2020 have helped boost the bottom line of global chains and the e-commerce giants as well and have cemented their dominance. At the same time, fundamental rights have been eradicated under COVID government measures.

Capitalism and labour

Essential to this ‘new normal’ is the compulsion to remove individual liberties and personal freedoms. A significant part of the working class has long been deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ – such people were sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberalism. They lost their jobs due to automation and offshoring. Since then, this section of the population has had to rely on meagre state welfare and run-down public services or, if ‘lucky’, insecure low-paid service sector jobs.

What we saw following the 2008 crash was ordinary people being pushed further to the edge. After a decade of ‘austerity’ in the UK – a neoliberal assault on the living conditions of ordinary people carried out under the guise of reining in public debt following the bank bail outs – a leading UN poverty expert compared Conservative welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses and warned that, unless austerity is ended, the UK’s poorest people face lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a state of denial about the impact of policies. He accused them of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population”.

In another 2019 report, the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank laid the blame for more than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 at the door of government policies. It claimed that these deaths could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts.

Over the past 10 years in the UK, according to the Trussell Group, there has been rising food poverty and increasing reliance on food banks.

And in a damning report on poverty in the UK by Professor David Gordon of the University of Bristol, it was found that almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing conditions, 12 million are too poor to engage in common social activities, one in three cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in winter and four million children and adults are not properly fed (Britain’s population is estimated at around 66 million).

Moreover, a 2015 report by the New Policy Institute noted that the total number of people in poverty in the UK had increased by 800,000, from 13.2 to 14.0 million in just two to three years.

Meanwhile, The Equality Trust in 2018 reported that the ‘austerity’ years were anything but austere for the richest 1,000 people in the UK. They had increased their wealth by £66 billion in one year alone (2017-2018), by £274 billion in five years (2013-2018) and had increased their total wealth to £724 billion – significantly more than the poorest 40% of households combined (£567 billion).

Just some of the cruelties of the ‘free market’ for those who live and work in the real world. And all of this hardship prior to lockdowns that have subsequently devastated lives, livelihoods and health, with cancer diagnoses and treatments and other conditions having been neglected due to the shutdown of health services.

During the current economic crisis, what we are seeing is many millions around the world being robbed of their livelihoods. With AI and advanced automation of production, distribution and service provision on the immediate horizon, a mass labour force will no longer be required.

It raises fundamental questions about the need for and the future of mass education, welfare and healthcare provision and systems that have traditionally served to reproduce and maintain labour that capitalist economic activity has required.

As the economy is restructured, labour’s relationship to capital is being transformed. If work is a condition of the existence of the labouring classes, then, in the eyes of capitalists, why maintain a pool of (surplus) labour that is no longer needed?

A concentration of wealth power and ownership is taking place as a result of COVID-related policies: according to research by Oxfam, the world’s billionaires gained $3.9 trillion while working people lost $3.7 trillion in 2020. At the same time, as large sections of the population head into a state of permanent unemployment, the rulers are weary of mass dissent and resistance. We are witnessing an emerging biosecurity surveillance state designed to curtail liberties ranging from freedom of movement and assembly to political protest and free speech.

The global implications are immense too. Barely a month into the COVID agenda, the IMF and World Bank were already facing a deluge of aid requests from developing countries that were asking for bailouts and loans. Ideal cover for rebooting the global economy via a massive debt crisis and the subsequent privatisation of national assets.

In 2020, World Bank Group President David Malpass stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet after the various lockdowns but such ‘help’ would be on condition that neoliberal reforms become further embedded. In other words, the de facto privatisation of states (affecting all nations, rich and poor alike), the (complete) erosion of national sovereignty and dollar-denominated debt leading to a further strengthening of US leverage and power.

In a system of top-down surveillance capitalism with an increasing section of the population deemed ‘unproductive’ and ‘useless eaters’, notions of individualism, liberal democracy and the ideology of free choice and consumerism are regarded by the elite as ‘unnecessary luxuries’ along with political and civil rights and freedoms.

We need only look at the ongoing tyranny in Australia to see where other countries could be heading. How quickly Australia was transformed from a ‘liberal democracy’ to a brutal totalitarian police state of endless lockdowns where gathering and protests are not to be tolerated.

Being beaten and thrown to the ground and fired at with rubber bullets in the name of protecting health makes as much sense as devastating entire societies through socially and economically destructive lockdowns to ‘save lives’.

It makes as much sense as mask-wearing and social-distancing mandates unsupported by science, misused and flawed PCR tests, perfectly healthy people being labelled as ‘cases’, deliberately inflated COVID death figures, pushing dangerous experimental vaccines in the name of health, ramping up fear, relying on Neil Ferguson’s bogus modelling, censoring debate about any of this and the WHO declaring a worldwide ‘pandemic’ based on a very low number of global ‘cases’ back in early 2020 (44,279 ‘cases’ and 1,440 supposed COVID deaths outside China out of a population of 6.4 billion).

There is little if any logic to this. But of course, If we view what is happening in terms of a crisis of capitalism, it might begin to make a lot more sense.

The austerity measures that followed the 2008 crash were bad enough for ordinary people who were still reeling from the impacts when the first lockdown was imposed.

The authorities are aware that deeper, harsher impacts as well as much more wide-ranging changes will be experienced this time around and seem adamant that the masses must become more tightly controlled and conditioned to their coming servitude.

The post The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Patriarchy:  The Struggle Continues

In a day when America is ruling over a global Empire maintained with violent enforcement to insure universal subordination to its will;  and in a day when a military-style domestic police state relentlessly makes sure anti-government protest and dissent is contained,  the patriarchal part of that America has been enhanced and strengthened.

Feminist movements have launched long, fierce struggles to undermine patriarchal culture:  to ensure female power, to assert woman’s image as showing woman’s strength, to refute women’s inferiority to men, to establish female equality, politically, economically, and personally.  In my own work, I’ve analyzed those struggles:  first, the National Woman’s Party’s heroic campaign for woman’s suffrage, which included jail, beatings and forced feeding;  second, the uphill battle of women athletes, from the late 19th century on, striving to rid themselves of the necessity to have an image of “sex appeal” and just play ball.  And last, I’ve written of the amazing courage of American women political prisoners, women who challenged a government and society which refused to recognize their right to be  dissenters against imperialism—racism—capitalist inequality and ecocide—and sexism.

The Patriarchy, in spite of all the movements, campaigns and struggles, is not dead yet. The problems come from many directions, but they circle back to age-old conditions.  We feminists of the 1960s-70s thought we might have won some of the battles.  I almost got out of my car to object when I drove through a town near where I live to challenge workers sporting “men working” signs.  My Saratoga NOW chapter succeeded in eliminating separate sections for male and female in the local paper’s help wanted section in the 70s.  What happened to that?!  We feminists must continue to stubbornly insist on our equality, on woman’s image not being sexualized, and on changing women’s lack of power.  We must keep on insisting that women are not inferior to men, should be believed, should be listened to.

American sports, still a stubbornly male-dominated institution, has largely held the line against real female equality.  All this was very evident last March when NCAA women’s basketball was not accorded anywhere near balanced attention, or its needs met in a comparable way to the men’s.  More ominously, the NCAA has shown their (lack of) concern for women athletes, especially vis-à-vis some criminally violent male athletes, when it decided, as Jessica Luther wrote in the LA Times, that “rape is not an NCAA violation.”  Between 2011 and 2016, 17 women reported assaults by Baylor University football players, including four gang rapes.  In the spring of 2012 a woman volleyball player reported being assaulted by “multiple football players” at a party.  After her mother spoke to the athletic director and football coach Art Briles, nothing was done.  A player was convicted of sexual assault in 2015, but in 2016 and 2017 lawsuits against Baylor accused the school of continuing to ignore its “culture of sexual violence.”  Coach Briles was finally fired in 2016, and college president Ken Starr, who had belatedly started an investigation, also resigned.  Recently, citing pandemic delays, the NCAA finally ruled on Baylor’s culture of violence by deciding it “did not break NCAA rules.”  Although the NCAA panel punished them for an academic infraction, they did not find Baylor guilty for not reporting or addressing “sexual and interpersonal violence.”  They declared it was a failure of the coaching and athletic staff, but not an NCAA problem.  They who supposedly wanted (women) athletes to be safe, offered no assistance in the case of “gendered violence.”  Numerous attempts to get the NCAA to change this policy have not succeeded.  Remember Michigan State was cleared of blame for allowing gymnastics’ doctor Larry Nasser’s unspeakable sexual crimes against young women!

The NFL also does not do well dealing with sexual violence.  Player violence against women has been commonplace, with few repercussions.  The recent case of accused multiple sexual assaulter DeShaun Watson is illustrative of valuable player versus serious female complaints about him.  The Houston quarterback has had a number of licensed massage therapists accuse him of unwanted sexual acts and assault.  At this time, Watson is facing 22 civil law suits and 10 criminal complaints, and is thus on the NFL’s “inactive” list.  The victims were interviewed by NFL investigators who treated them—said the women—in a “patronizing” and “victim-blaming” manner.  The NFL placed no restrictions on Watson during the investigation, who, according to his accuser Ashley Solis, not only assaulted her but threatened her career when she got upset.  When the investigator questioned what she wore for their massage sessions, she asked:  “What did they think I should wear to suggest that I don’t want you to put your penis in my hand?”  She has said that “the NFL is taking a stand against women and survivors of sexual assault.”  The NFL is also not so great in other areas regarding women’s worth and dignity.

Cheerleading is a (predominantly) female sport which has encountered all kinds of indignities.  The NFL teams Buffalo, Cincinnati, Jets, Tampa Bay and Oakland all faced lawsuits from cheerleaders in 2014.  Two Buffalo Jills told HBO’s Real Sports they receive $125 a game, and nothing for ads, photo shoots or practices.  Some of these lawsuits were successful, but today there are still NFL cheerleaders making less than $1,000 a year.  The interviewed Jills also said they were rejected as dancers if they didn’t pass “the jiggle test” while doing jumping jacks. First female Jet football coach Collette Smith said on “Real Sports” that it does not seem right for cheerleaders, “athletes,” to just have to “shake with no clothes on, like sex kittens!”  There’s a new documentary film called “A Woman’s Work:  The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem,” about which Director Yu Gu says, that in a culture with “toxic masculinity… men feel entitled to women’s bodies.”  An even darker situation took place with youth cheerleaders.  In an unregulated sport, except by its own million-dollar profit-making organizations, abuses have been many.  Male cheerleading “coaches” supposedly training cheerleaders, instead sexually assaulted them—and continued to participate in the sport.  Two were even featured on the Netflix “Cheer” show, before finally being arrested and scheduled for trial.  Not much protection there, when, as usual, it might interfere with image and therefore profit.

Image is also an issue regarding this year’s Tokyo Olympics.  I watched with admiration as silver medalist shot putter Raven Saunders demonstrated for human rights and against racism on the Olympic podium by crossing her arms over her head to show their intersection.  The IOC’s (International Olympic Committee) restrictions on protests held quite well, although hammer thrower Gwen Berry and the US women’s soccer team took a knee before competing.  Women Olympic athletes have not been afraid to speak out.  Track and field athlete Sara Goucher, with several other women, accused former champion marathoner and prominent track coach Alberto Salazar of “doping violations” and of abuse.  He is banned, at least for now.  A problem which has always resonated with me is the way female athletes dress to do their sport.  It’s not new:  female baseball players had to wear short skirts and female basketball players sported red wigs in the 40s, but now it is beyond absurd.  Women have to wear (it’s mandatory) very revealing outfits as skaters, runners, beach volleyball players and gymnasts.  But some women are protesting this.  Norway’s women’s beach handball team (not yet an Olympic sport) were fined after they wore shorts instead of bikinis at EURO2021.  And at the Olympics, the German women’s gymnastics team wore unitards covering their whole body from the neck down.  They said they wanted to “push back against the sexualization of women in gymnastics.”  Male gymnasts wear shorts and loose pants.  It’s the Olympic women who wear revealing outfits to run, and bikinis to play beach volleyball.  It’s an extreme demonstration of “sexualization,” of a patriarchal culture limiting woman’s image to a sexual one, rather than one of a competent, strong athlete.

In a patriarchal culture, male power attempts to supersede women’s.  In such an environment, women have little value and receive little respect.  And when powerful male politicians do this (and there are so many of them), it becomes very public.  (Former) Governor Andrew Cuomo is the latest to fall from grace after many years of getting away with sexual misconduct toward his staff, campaign organizers, and even a female state trooper.  Some of his fellow Democratic politicians have called him “a lecherous tyrant” who empowered his staff “to threaten and intimidate.”  Cuomo collected young, good-looking women to work for him and they were expected to always dress well, including makeup and high heels.  If a woman decided she didn’t like his demands and cruel work environment, it was made clear she’d have a hard time getting another job.  Inappropriate comments and touching were his trademarks.  He was able to maintain this extremely harmful situation for women in his employ until on August 3rd, New York Attorney General Letitia James, after taking on the growing complaints (which had gotten nowhere with senior staff), issued her thorough and well-investigated report which accused the governor of “sexually harassing 11 women in violation of the law.”  The report detailed “unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and inappropriate comments.”  Some were worse, such as the Albany staffers who reported that he grabbed their breasts.  And so the media darling who supposedly handled the COVID crisis so well (except for that pesky problem with covering up nursing home deaths), had to resign.  Most Democratic politicians abandoned him in the end:  but two who held out a long time were President Biden and Vice President Harris.

President Trump’s sexual misadventures were numerous, as such things are very much bipartisan.  Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct got him impeached.  He admitted to relations with Monica Lewinsky, but faced more serious allegations of rape from Juanita Broaddrick.  Last March Kamala Harris held a discussion about “empowering women and girls”—something the Clinton Foundation states that it does around the world—which included Mr. Clinton.  Broaddrick asked in a tweet if conference host Howard University might “like to include me in their empowering event with Bill Clinton?”  Harris had no comment on that, nor, at that point, on the accusations surrounding Governor Cuomo.  The President also did not feel Cuomo should resign, until after the Letitia James report was revealed.  Funnily enough, Joe Biden has been accused of the self-same thing as Cuomo, for years.  During Biden’s presidential campaign, these proclivities were brought up, especially by Tara Reade, his former staffer.  Reade accused Biden of serious sexual assault, including pressing her against a Capitol corridor wall and digitally penetrating her.  She reported this incident to friends and family, and senior staff (to no avail), at the time.  Other women have complained of similar incidents of inappropriate touching, up to and including on the 2020 campaign trail.  Reade’s May 2020 interview with Megyn Kelly tells of her experience, but she also talks about the overwhelming hate she has received from the media and the utter disbelief from Democratic women protecting their candidate.  As Reade said to Kelly:  “Do we want [as president] someone who thinks of women as objects, who thinks that they can just take what they want in that moment for their pleasure and that’s it?”   She was not believed, an experience common to so many women who have undergone abuse by powerful men, from Dylan Farrow (re Woody Allen), to Ambra Gutierrez (re Harvey Weinstein), to Andrea Costand (re Bill Cosby), and to women aides and staff of important and powerful men.  #Me Too has been a good thing, to a point.  Women still shy away from believing accusations against certain men.

Not believing women is inherent to patriarchal culture.  I remember going to the hospital when I was teaching in Fargo, where I was eventually admitted for severe dehydration and a bad case of the flu.  The male doctor who first saw me talked of “the so-called pain in my chest.”  He apparently didn’t believe me.  The value of women’s bodies certainly seems to be in question when yet another struggle supposedly won in the 70s—a woman’s right to choose abortion—is, thanks to the rise in power of Christian right fascists who are (!) patriarchal, again in jeopardy.  Women’s lives are in jeopardy on many fronts.  Attorney and John Jay professor Marcie Smith Parenti wrote a piece for the Grayzone, entitled “Why Won’t the US Medical Establishment Believe Women?”  She outlines a serious situation where the CDC and FDA, in their rush to vaccinate everyone (only 23% of pregnant women have at least one dose), have seriously downplayed and dismissed evidence that thousands of women have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 vaccines (most related to the mRNA vaccines).  Large numbers of vaccinated women have had their menstrual cycle disrupted:  extreme cramping, passing golf-ball size blood clots, and having “hemorrhagic bleeding.”  Parenti has several friends with such symptoms.  But beyond possibly anecdotal experience, by July of this year, the UK had 13,000 reports of “menstruation disruption,” with similar reports in Canada and India.

The US, with its “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), had thousands of reports (they admit VAERS only catches a low percentage of adverse events) by July as well:  such reports included 88 “fetal deaths” and 25 “stillbirths” along with the hemorrhagic bleeding.   Although the FDA and CDC quickly warned of the myocarditis threat (a heart ailment) to young men posed by the vaccine, no warnings have been issued regarding menstrual disruption.  Parenti argues that menstruation is a central issue for women’s health and there are many incidents revealing that cycle’s disruption in myriad and very serious ways, including possible infertility.  She says that women deserve an investigation into these reports, with explanations and medical information, and “non-punitive accommodations if they decline a vaccine at this time.”  But no:  they can be barred from school and public places, and lose their jobs.  And if women are showing too much concern publicly, Parenti says they are “subjected to 1950s-style dismissal and demonization.”   After all, such concerns could “stoke unwarranted vaccine fears.”  And about such trivial health issues as menstruation, just “woman troubles.”

Last June the National Institute of Health called for proposals to study a possible link between the vaccine and menstruation disruption.  And now, the NIH has at last ordered a study about that possible link, $1.67 million worth, with a half million (!) participants.  But Diana Bianchi, NIH head of child health and human development says the FDA should not be faulted for the investigation’s delay.  And the (of course, justifiable) reason for the delay has been echoed in every single item of media coverage I’ve read over the last few days.  The FDA was “worried this was contributing to vaccine hesitancy in reproductive-age women.”  Bianchi says the vaccine certainly does not cause infertility.  And (again echoing all the news reports on it), “really [menstruation} is not a life and death issue.”  Women should simply do what they’re told and ignore their “so-called bleeding.”

Another area where there is a lack of confidence in what women say is when they warn of wider environmental dangers.  Traditionally women have tried to prevent harm and bring healing to the environment.  Women whistleblowers have suffered repercussions for warning against corporate entities’ disastrous policies; while indigenous women have sacrificed to try to protect Mother Earth from corporate disregard for the Earth’s destruction.  African-American women are all too familiar with environmental racism, from the drinking water of Flint, Michigan to the waters of Hurricane Katrina (and now Ida).  When Mississippi environmental analyst Tennie White, a Black woman, brought to light highly toxic wastes produced by Kerr-McGee endangering the people of Columbus, Mississippi, she was railroaded by the EPA’s “Green Enforcement” Unit and went to jail.  And recently, another woman whistleblower was ignored and punished.  Ruth Etzel was hired by the EPA as an expert in children’s health; a pediatrician and epidemiologist she has done stints at the WHO and CDC.  Etzel was to investigate lead poisoning in the chemical industry.  She found herself put on leave, demoted and then became a victim of an EPA smear campaign.  Etzel and other fellow scientists found that the EPA’s biggest concern is protecting chemical companies. Her suggested policy to help children avoid lead poisoning, formed after she found industries were doing “irreparable harm,” has yet to be put into effect.  Neither Obama, nor Trump, nor now Biden has changed the trend to protect corporations, and not the environment, humans, or even children.

Native-American women fighting fiercely against the terrible poisons of oil pipelines are harassed and jailed.  Winona LaDuke, Green Party VP candidate and head of environmental advocacy group “Honor the Earth,” was arrested and jailed repeatedly last July for protesting against construction of a new Enbridge oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.  Minnesota recently granted Enbridge the right to displace five billion instead of the former half billion gallons of water.  Such a disastrous situation leads LaDuke to protest and thus be charged with trespassing, harassment, unlawful assembly and public nuisance charges.  She charges Minnesota governor Tim Walz with giving “the water, the land and our civil rights to a Canadian multinational.”  The incomparable LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, died last April, fighting to the very end against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  As of a month ago, federal regulators had fined DAPL for safety violations like not doing necessary repairs and insufficient oil spill impact studies.  But Biden’s Army Corps of Engineers is still allowing the pipeline to operate.  The women of Standing Rock and Honor the Earth will never stop their campaigns against corporate poisoning of their lands.  As LaDonna Allard said, the movement is not just about a pipeline.  “To save the water, we must break the cycle of colonial trauma.”  And:  “We are fighting for our rights as the Indigenous peoples of this land; we are fighting for our liberation, and the liberation of Unci Mako, Mother Earth.”  Women fight to protect the Earth from the American corporate state and women fight to protect people from the violence of the American police state.

The penalties can be dire for those who dare challenge police violence.  Lillian House and Eliza Lucero of the Denver area’s Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) helped lead a persistent protest against the police and paramedics’ killing of the unarmed and unresisting young man, Elijah McClain.  Lucero and House faced felony charges of incitement to riot and kidnapping (of police) which could have meant sentences of 48 years.  Thanks to public pressure and a new district attorney, all charges were dropped on September 13th.  Earlier in the month, three police officers and two paramedics were indicted for McClain’s murder.  PSL’s Lillian House stated that “the indictments are a major victory, but they’re not convictions yet.  This is just the beginning of the people here taking power.”  And this is what these women activists want:  a dismantling of the police state in favor of “the people” being in charge.

This is the goal of the movement, bringing huge numbers of people into the streets after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s executions.  But these demonstrations, gradually called “riots” by the corporate media, have been hard-pressed to continue.  A report by the Movement for Black Lives found there has been a major crackdown on dissenters against police violence.  Charges against protesters were made into more serious federal crimes, with harsher penalties.  Surveillance, violence, and intimidation, in a coordinated vast federal enterprise, has been the usual response to potentially viable movements to change the corporate police state.  Because Rev. Joy Powell tried to curb police violence in Rochester, NY, she’s served 14 years inside, framed for crimes she didn’t commit.  But she is never cowed, despite solitary, COVID, and all the harassment they dish out.  She recently wrote me (and I get some of her letters, but she gets very few of mine) that she “made it to an interview” with Essence magazine, which did a great job of gaining her deserved attention.  The Police State is an entrenched corporate/capitalist/patriarchal institution, as is the American Empire.

The Empire is not feminist.  It is dangerously extreme in its macho Patriarchy.  The military, particularly one which has for years fed on death and destruction against helpless civilians, many of them women and children, is not feminist in its aims.  Expecting an occupying army to initiate and protect women’s rights is insane.  The women of Afghanistan have been tortured and murdered by US forces for over 20 years.  Perhaps a few elite women were helped and protected under American occupation, but their numbers are few.  Aafia Siddiqui, Muslim woman prisoner of the Empire is serving her 86 years in a Texas maximum security prison—or not, it’s not clear if she’s still alive.  Siddiqui was raped, mutilated and tortured in American black sites, including Bagram (US) Air Force Base, Afghanistan, and was grievously shot in Ghazni, Afghanistan by American soldiers who needed her to be seen as a “terrorist” and so staged what was supposed to be her attack on the soldiers.  This is women’s rights in Afghanistan.  As the incredible Caitlin Johnstone has written:  “If the US empire hadn’t manufactured consent for the invasion by aggressive narrative management about Taliban oppression westerners would give 0 fucks about women in Afghanistan, just like they give 0 fucks about women in all the other oppressive patriarchal nations.”  Was it worse for women to have a Taliban government, or to endure a 20-year occupation which has brought untold death and destruction to Afghan women and their families?  Occupying and controlling Afghanistan is not a feminist undertaking.  And so-called American feminist leaders should know better than to support it.  But NOW leaders urge you to write your Congress people to protect Afghan women (from the Taliban).  The “advances in [Afghan] women’s rights of the last 20 years are in jeopardy.”  The Feminist Majority web page asks for money for the same purpose, telling us that in 2009 Obama showed concern for “Afghans’ security” and the Americans “have brought much progress for women there,” in the last 20 years.  With all Obama’s drone killings?  Are you people serious?  This is not feminism.

“Feminists” are also proud to see female warmongers as part of President Joe Biden’s Team.  There is Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who helped engineer the Iran deal (not a great one for them) and spent her early days in office busily scolding China to ramp up our newest Cold War.  Or Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who famously helped arrange the neo-Nazi takeover of Ukraine in a power play vs. Russia, with her also famous leaked diplomatic conversation where she said “fuck the EU” re involving American allies.  Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth has a strong police/Homeland Security background; and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks will oversee a “modernization of our nuclear triad.” Avril Haines, Biden’s Director of National Intelligence, from the CIA, directed the drones program for Obama, sometimes having to get up in the middle of the night to decide who should be killed by a drone next.  Of course, there was never “collateral damage,” as we’ve seen just recently in our Afghanistan drone hit which killed an entire family (they were not ISIS K).  Wonderful to have such feminist examples!  As commentator Richard Medhurst (half Syrian, half British) has said:  isn’t it great for Biden to have all these women involved?  Will they drop pink bombs—rainbow bombs?—on my country?

The real feminists are the stalwart anti-war women who fight the very real threats of Empire.  The women to be truly admired are women like Elizabeth McAlister, Martha Hennesy (Dorothy Day’s granddaughter) and Clare Grady. In 2018 they entered Kings Bay, Georgia naval base to bear witness against the Empire’s potential for nuclear war.  They have all now served time, 10 to 12 months, for trying to, as McAlister said, “slow the mad rush to the devastation of our magnificent planet.”  They too would save Mother Earth.  They too, like the tortured and ruined Julian Assange, are truth-tellers against the Empire.  Dismissed, ignored, not believed, imprisoned.  These are what 1980s political prisoner Marilyn Buck called “noncompliant women”—women who the patriarchal authorities believe should be put back into subordinate, quiet and compliant status.  Such authorities believe women should wear bikinis and makeup as athletes, not question if a vaccine has deleterious side effects on them, and overlook a governor’s inappropriate behavior.  Let’s not be compliant.  Let the struggle continue.

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So You Go Deaf at a Protest: *MIC/MICC* at the Helm

*Military Industrial Complex, or Lawrence Wilkerson’s, Military Industrial Congressional Complex*

You get a story on the supposed Havana Syndrome, and then you also get the concept of mass psychogenic illness (you know, it’s all in your head, buster, those heart palpitations, the sweats, the throbbing veins, after getting mRNA “vaccinated”) explained, and, well, no huge outrage on these weapons of mass destruction created by USA, Israel, UK, France other shit-holes. None. Yes, of course, China and Russia, they have their directed energy weapons, their lasers, their rail guns.

As a collective, we just take it up the rear end daily, a thousand times, with these illustrations of the perversion of the inventors (scientists) and the CEOs and their armies of Eichmanns and then their armies of wrench turners and computer motherboard makers to help build these tools of oppression and murder. .

Get this one here:

The United Kingdom deployed an American-made Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), in essence, a sound cannon, during the London 2012 Olympics. Products like LRAD represent a shift from military to domestic usage of directed energy weapons, Dawson noted, explaining:

DEW manufacturers seem to be developing more hand-held versions of what was industrial-scale military weaponry. So they are transitioning from something that was the size of a truck used in Afghanistan or Iraq and turning it into something more like a taser that can be held by a police officer. In fact, the Taser Corporation, as well as other manufacturers of crowd-control weaponry, are listed in the WikiLeaks files as being manufacturers of directed energy weapons.”

LRADs are used at airports to deter wildlife from runways. But they are also commonly used by law enforcement against protestors, such as at Occupy Oakland, the George Floyd protests, and at the 2017 Women’s March.

 EU police officer deploys an LRAD

[An EU police officer deploys an LRAD near a popular refugee crossing point on the Greek – Turkish border, May 21, 2021. Giannis Papanikos | AP]

LRAD focuses a piercing and unbearable noise at those at whom it is pointed, leaving targets dizzy and suffering headaches. It is undoubtedly effective, but also poses a risk to human health. The National Institutes of Health advises that permanent hearing loss can begin when exposed to sounds of more than 85 dB. Yet police LRADs are capable of producing sounds of higher than 150 dB. There are serious concerns that the LRAD will be used liberally and illegally to disperse peaceful demonstrations. This is already happening: in 2017, the city of New York was forced to pay $748,000 to Black Lives Matter protestors targeted with LRAD. The NYPD suspended its use.

So, look at the thug, with earplugs and fake mask on, while using a weapon turned on refugees. Now if this is not a picture of the Great White Sadistic Race, then, I can’t begin to help you, kind reader.

Our tax dollars at this murderous work —

Read Alan MacLeod’s piece here — Havana Syndrome, Directed Energy Weapons, and the New Cold War

It’s the supplements, stupid!

So, from illegal and unethical and monstrous weapons against we the people, to the power of the Food and Drug Administration’s prostitutes in the employ of Big Pharma and Big Med:

Yep, emergency use authorization to approve the universal jabbing of hundreds of bottles of boosters on the wall, that FDA is something else —

Resveratrol, a plant-derived polyphenol found in grapes, could be eliminated in supplement form like pyridoxamine (B6) was a number of years ago due to an FDA back-channel that lets Big Pharma turn supplements into drugs. If Big Pharma asks the FDA to remove resveratrol, the agency’s job of eliminating these supplements is made much easier if it gets the “mandatory filing” requirement that it wants. We need to fight for major changes in the law and to block this “mandatory list” from ever passing to protect our access to important supplements.

Resveratrol has been available as a supplement for years. But we know from FDA documents that the agency rejected a “new supplement” notification for resveratrol, stating that resveratrol doesn’t meet the legal definition of a supplement because a drug company started investigating it as a drug in 2001, and the agency has no evidence that resveratrol was sold as a supplement before that date. This means that the drug company could, at any time, petition the FDA to remove resveratrol supplements from the market. This is what happened to pyridoxamine, a form of B6, and it still isn’t available as a supplement even though no drug ever came to market; it could also happen to CBD and l-glutamine.

So, imagine, all those supplements, all those proven natural elements to keep us out of the medical system. Out of the death chambers of doctors’ offices and mass murder hospitals. You know, this FDA and CDC and NIH group of liars, or in some camps, poison delivery villains:

Rumble — Expert Testimony provided by Dr. Christina Parks, Ph.D, to the Michigan House of Representatives in hearing on HB 4471. This is an unedited screen recording. This science of viruses, what they can and cannot do, and that is a huge discussion point, though I see this doctor talking to glazed eyes in the Michigan House — Eight minutes to get illuminated so please, watch. This absurdity, using boosters of those mRNA jabs to stop the Delta Variant? Makes zero sense. Listen, watch, and enlighten yourself.

If there are no national leaders, folks with bully pulpits, with media stages, to really drill down on the absurdity of this country, these trillions lost/stolen of our tax dollars, then the cascading number of stories will continue to come out with no umph, no fanfare, no repercussions.

The Pentagon doesn’t care that it snuffed out innocent lives in an airstrike; it does that all the time and its officials would do it a lot more if that’s what it took to secure their futures as lobbyists, consultants, board members and executives for defense industry corporations after they retire from the military. And the mass media don’t care either; they only cared about this one particular highly politicized airstrike during a withdrawal from a military engagement the mass media vehemently opposed.

“Pentagon acknowledges Aug. 29 drone strike in Afghanistan was a tragic mistake that killed 10 civilians.” Can you believe that headline? Not “admits” but “acknowledges”. Not “killed children while targeting an aid worker based on flimsy evidence” but “was a tragic mistake”. How many times did New York Times editors rewrite this? Imagine if this had been a Russian airstrike.

It’s the CIA (and assassinations) Stupid! 

And so, we get back to the USA, CIA, all those nefarious mutants from the UK, Israel, et al. I was almost five when Dag Hammarskjoild was murdered (1961). This documentary goes around the evidence, gets into the ugly reality of MI6 and CIA and apartheid whites wanting to eradicate the Blacks in, well, Black Africa. Lo and behold, the documentary that looks into the UN chief’s murder exposes another reality — a clandestine group using fake medical doctors and fake clinics to inoculate Blacks (poor, of course) with HIV, to help spread the deadly virus.

Former President Harry Truman told reporters two days after Dag Hammarskjöld’s death on Sept. 18, 1961 that the U.N. secretary-general  “was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said ‘when they killed him.’”

The mystery of the second U.N. secretary-general’s death festered until the 2011 book Who Killed Hammarskjöld? by British researcher Susan Williams, who uncovered new evidence that pointed to the likelihood that U.S., British and South African intelligence had a hand in his death in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia, today’s Zambia. He was on his way to negotiate a cease-fire in Katanga’s separatist war from the Congo.

Williams’ findings led to an independent commission that called on the U.N. to reopen its 1962 probe in the killing, which ended with an open verdict. “The possibility … the plane was … forced into descent by some form of hostile action is supported by sufficient evidence to merit further inquiry,” the commission concluded.

All roads lead to hell, when it comes to USA, Israel, UK, EU and Canada. Exterminate all the Brutes!

“I wanted to push the boundaries of conventional documentary filmmaking and find a freedom to tell this story by any means necessary.” Director Raoul Peck sits down to discuss the creative intentions behind documentary series Exterminate All the Brutes.

Check out more on Dag over at Consortium News —

Oh, the truths of the day, around 6 million people dead because of the War on Terror. Six million!

New Byline Times report which found that

“at least 5.8 to 6 million people are likely to have died overall due to the War on Terror – a staggering number which is still probably very conservative.”

Image

 

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The Rise of the Security-Industrial Complex from 9/11 to COVID-19

I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life.

— Osama bin Laden (October 2001), as reported by CNN

What a strange and harrowing road we’ve walked since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties. We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade a freedom-loving people to march in lockstep with a police state.

Our losses are mounting with every passing day.

What began with the post-9/11 passage of the USA Patriot Act  has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse.

The citizenry’s unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security has resulted in a society where the nation has been locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.

Set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, police violence and the like—all of which have been sanctioned by Congress, the White House and the courts—our constitutional freedoms have been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded.

The rights embodied in the Constitution, if not already eviscerated, are on life support.

Free speech, the right to protest, the right to challenge government wrongdoing, due process, a presumption of innocence, the right to self-defense, accountability and transparency in government, privacy, press, sovereignty, assembly, bodily integrity, representative government: all of these and more have become casualties in the government’s war on the American people, a war that has grown more pronounced since 9/11.

Indeed, since the towers fell on 9/11, the U.S. government has posed a greater threat to our freedoms than any terrorist, extremist or foreign entity ever could.

While nearly 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government and its agents have easily killed at least ten times that number of civilians in the U.S. and abroad since 9/11 through its police shootings, SWAT team raids, drone strikes and profit-driven efforts to police the globe, sell weapons to foreign nations (which too often fall into the hands of terrorists), and foment civil unrest in order to keep the security industrial complex gainfully employed.

The American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, denied due process, and killed.

In allowing ourselves to be distracted by terror drills, foreign wars, color-coded warnings, pandemic lockdowns and other carefully constructed exercises in propaganda, sleight of hand, and obfuscation, we failed to recognize that the U.S. government—the government that was supposed to be a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”—has become the enemy of the people.

Consider that the government’s answer to every problem has been more government—at taxpayer expense—and less individual liberty.

Every crisis—manufactured or otherwise—since the nation’s early beginnings has become a make-work opportunity for the government to expand its reach and its power at taxpayer expense while limiting our freedoms at every turn: The Great Depression. The World Wars. The 9/11 terror attacks. The COVID-19 pandemic.

Viewed in this light, the history of the United States is a testament to the old adage that liberty decreases as government (and government bureaucracy) grows. Or, to put it another way, as government expands, liberty contracts.

This is how the emergency state operates, after all, and we should know: after all, we have spent the past 20 years in a state of emergency.

From 9/11 to COVID-19, “we the people” have acted the part of the helpless, gullible victims desperately in need of the government to save us from whatever danger threatens. In turn, the government has been all too accommodating and eager while also expanding its power and authority in the so-called name of national security.

This is a government that has grown so corrupt, greedy, power-hungry and tyrannical over the course of the past 240-plus years that our constitutional republic has since given way to idiocracy, and representative government has given way to a kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves) and a kakistocracy (a government run by unprincipled career politicians, corporations and thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of American citizens).

What this really amounts to is a war on the American people, fought on American soil, funded with taxpayer dollars, and waged with a single-minded determination to use national crises, manufactured or otherwise, in order to transform the American homeland into a battlefield.

Indeed, the government’s (mis)management of various states of emergency in the past 20 years has spawned a massive security-industrial complex the likes of which have never been seen before. According to the National Priorities Project at the progressive Institute for Policy Studies, since 9/11, the United States has spent $21 trillion on “militarization, surveillance, and repression.”

Clearly, this is not a government that is a friend to freedom.

Rather, this is a government that, in conjunction with its corporate partners, views the citizenry as consumers and bits of data to be bought, sold and traded.

This is a government that spies on and treats its people as if they have no right to privacy, especially in their own homes while the freedom to be human is being erased.

This is a government that is laying the groundwork to weaponize the public’s biomedical data as a convenient means by which to penalize certain “unacceptable” social behaviors. Incredibly, a new government agency HARPA (a healthcare counterpart to the Pentagon’s research and development arm DARPA) will take the lead in identifying and targeting “signs” of mental illness or violent inclinations among the populace by using artificial intelligence to collect data from Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home.

This is a government that routinely engages in taxation without representation, whose elected officials lobby for our votes only to ignore us once elected.

This is a government comprised of petty bureaucrats, vigilantes masquerading as cops, and faceless technicians.

This is a government that railroads taxpayers into financing government programs whose only purpose is to increase the power and wealth of the corporate elite.

This is a government—a warring empire—that forces its taxpayers to pay for wars abroad that serve no other purpose except to expand the reach of the military industrial complex.

This is a government that subjects its people to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA and VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes.

This is a government that uses fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, to track the citizenry’s movements, record their conversations, and catalogue their transactions.

This is a government whose wall-to-wall surveillance has given rise to a suspect society in which the burden of proof has been reversed such that Americans are now assumed guilty until or unless they can prove their innocence.

This is a government that treats its people like second-class citizens who have no rights, and is working overtime to stigmatize and dehumanize any and all who do not fit with the government’s plans for this country.

This is a government that uses free speech zones, roving bubble zones and trespass laws to silence, censor and marginalize Americans and restrict their First Amendment right to speak truth to power.

This is a government that persists in renewing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely based on the say-so of the government.

This is a government that saddled us with the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.

This is a government that, in direct opposition to the dire warnings of those who founded our country, has allowed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish a standing army by way of programs that transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police.

This is a government that has militarized American’s domestic police, equipping them with military weapons such as “tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; a million hollow-point bullets; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft,” in addition to armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like.

This is a government that has provided cover to police when they shoot and kill unarmed individuals just for standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

This is a government that has created a Constitution-free zone within 100 miles inland of the border around the United States, paving the way for Border Patrol agents to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant. Nearly 66% of Americans (2/3 of the U.S. population, 197.4 million people) now live within that 100-mile-deep, Constitution-free zone.

This is a government that treats public school students as if they were prison inmates, enforcing zero tolerance policies that criminalize childish behavior, and indoctrinating them with teaching that emphasizes rote memorization and test-taking over learning, synthesizing and critical thinking.

This is a government that is operating in the negative on every front: it’s spending far more than what it makes (and takes from the American taxpayers) and it is borrowing heavily (from foreign governments and Social Security) to keep the government operating and keep funding its endless wars abroad. Meanwhile, the nation’s sorely neglected infrastructure—railroads, water pipelines, ports, dams, bridges, airports and roads—is rapidly deteriorating.

This is a government that has empowered police departments to make a profit at the expense of those they have sworn to protect through the use of asset forfeiture laws, speed traps, and red light cameras.

This is a government whose gun violence—inflicted on unarmed individuals by battlefield-trained SWAT teams, militarized police, and bureaucratic government agents trained to shoot first and ask questions later—poses a greater threat to the safety and security of the nation than any mass shooter. There are now reportedly more bureaucratic (non-military) government agents armed with high-tech, deadly weapons than U.S. Marines.

This is a government that has allowed the presidency to become a dictatorship operating above and beyond the law, regardless of which party is in power.

This is a government that treats dissidents, whistleblowers and freedom fighters as enemies of the state.

This is a government that has in recent decades unleashed untold horrors upon the world—including its own citizenry—in the name of global conquest, the acquisition of greater wealth, scientific experimentation, and technological advances, all packaged in the guise of the greater good.

This is a government that allows its agents to break laws with immunity while average Americans get the book thrown at them.

This is a government that speaks in a language of force. What is this language of force? Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weapons. Less-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality. Contempt of cop charges.

This is a government that justifies all manner of government tyranny and power grabs in the so-called name of national security, national crises and national emergencies.

This is a government that exports violence worldwide, with one of this country’s most profitable exports being weapons. Indeed, the United States, the world’s largest exporter of arms, has been selling violence to the world in order to prop up the military industrial complex and maintain its endless wars abroad.

This is a government that is consumed with squeezing every last penny out of the population and seemingly unconcerned if essential freedoms are trampled in the process.

This is a government that routinely undermines the Constitution and rides roughshod over the rights of the citizenry, eviscerating individual freedoms so that its own powers can be expanded.

This is a government that believes it has the authority to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation, the Constitution be damned.

In other words, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, this is not a government that believes in, let alone upholds, freedom.

 

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Authoritarians Drunk on Power: It Is Time to Recalibrate the Government

The executive power in our government is not the only, perhaps not even the principal, object of my solicitude. The tyranny of the legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come. The tyranny of the executive power will come in its turn, but at a more distant period.

― Thomas Jefferson, (Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville(

It is time to recalibrate the government.

For years now, we have suffered the injustices, cruelties, corruption and abuse of an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution or the rights of the citizenry.

By “government,” I’m not referring to the highly partisan, two-party bureaucracy of the Republicans and Democrats. Rather, I’m referring to “government” with a capital “G,” the entrenched Deep State that is unaffected by elections, unaltered by populist movements, and has set itself beyond the reach of the law.

We are overdue for a systemic check on the government’s overreaches and power grabs.

We have lingered too long in this strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures and a disinterested, distracted populace—rule by fiat rather than by the rule of law.

This COVID-19 pandemic has provided the government with the perfect excuse to lay claim to a long laundry list of terrifying lockdown powers (at both the federal and state level) that override the Constitution: the ability to suspend the Constitution, indefinitely detain American citizens, bypass the courts, quarantine whole communities or segments of the population, override the First Amendment by outlawing religious gatherings and assemblies of more than a few people, shut down entire industries and manipulate the economy, muzzle dissidents, reshape financial markets, create a digital currency (and thus further restrict the use of cash), determine who should live or die, and impose health mandates on large segments of the population.

These kinds of crises tend to bring out the authoritarian tendencies in government.

That’s no surprise: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Where we find ourselves now is in the unenviable position of needing to rein in all three branches of government—the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative—that have exceeded their authority and grown drunk on power.

This is exactly the kind of concentrated, absolute power the founders attempted to guard against by establishing a system of checks of balances that separate and shares power between three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.

“The system of checks and balances that the Framers envisioned now lacks effective checks and is no longer in balance,” concludes law professor William P. Marshall. “The implications of this are serious. The Framers designed a system of separation of powers to combat government excess and abuse and to curb incompetence. They also believed that, in the absence of an effective separation-of-powers structure, such ills would inevitably follow. Unfortunately, however, power once taken is not easily surrendered.”

Unadulterated power in any branch of government is a menace to freedom.

There’s no point debating which political party would be more dangerous with these powers.

The fact that any individual—or branch of government—of any political persuasion is empowered to act like a dictator is danger enough.

So what can we do to wrest back control over a runaway government and an imperial presidency?

It won’t be easy.

We are the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority.

This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government: from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often than not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations.

We are ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the travails of the average American.

We are viewed as relatively expendable in the eyes of government: faceless numbers of individuals who serve one purpose, which is to keep the government machine running through our labor and our tax dollars. Those in power aren’t losing any sleep over the indignities we are being made to suffer or the possible risks to our health. All they seem to care about are power and control.

We are being made to suffer countless abuses at the government’s hands.

We have little protection against standing armies (domestic and military), invasive surveillance, marauding SWAT teams, an overwhelming government arsenal of assault vehicles and firepower, and a barrage of laws that criminalize everything from vegetable gardens to lemonade stands.

In the name of national security, we’re being subjected to government agencies such as the NSA, FBI and others listening in on our phone calls, reading our mail, monitoring our emails, and carrying out warrantless “black bag” searches of our homes. Adding to the abuse, we have to deal with surveillance cameras mounted on street corners and in traffic lights, weather satellites co-opted for use as spy cameras from space, and thermal sensory imaging devices that can detect heat and movement through the walls of our homes.

That doesn’t even begin to touch on the many ways in which our Fourth Amendment rights are trampled upon by militarized police and SWAT teams empowered to act as laws unto themselves.

In other words, freedom—or what’s left of it—is threatened from every direction.

The predators of the police state are wreaking havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government doesn’t listen to the citizenry, it refuses to abide by the Constitution, which is our rule of law, and it treats the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers are shooting unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents—including local police—are being armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies are fleecing taxpayers. Government technicians are spying on our emails and phone calls. Government contractors are making a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

In other words, the American police state is alive and well and flourishing.

Nothing has changed, and nothing will change unless we insist on it.

We have arrived at the dystopian future depicted in the 2005 film V for Vendetta, which is no future at all.

Set in the year 2020, V for Vendetta (written and produced by the Wachowskis) provides an eerie glimpse into a parallel universe in which a government-engineered virus wreaks havoc on the world. Capitalizing on the people’s fear, a totalitarian government comes to power that knows all, sees all, controls everything and promises safety and security above all.

Concentration camps (jails, private prisons and detention facilities) have been established to house political prisoners and others deemed to be enemies of the state. Executions of undesirables (extremists, troublemakers and the like) are common, while other enemies of the state are made to “disappear.” Populist uprisings and protests are met with extreme force. The television networks are controlled by the government with the purpose of perpetuating the regime. And most of the population is hooked into an entertainment mode and are clueless.

Sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it?

As director James McTeighe observed about the tyrannical regime in V for Vendetta, “It really showed what can happen when society is ruled by government, rather than the government being run as a voice of the people. I don’t think it’s such a big leap to say things like that can happen when leaders stop listening to the people.”

Clearly, our leaders have stopped listening to the American people.

We are—and have been for some time—the unwitting victims of a system so corrupt that those who stand up for the rule of law and aspire to transparency in government are in the minority. This corruption is so vast it spans all branches of government—from the power-hungry agencies under the executive branch and the corporate puppets within the legislative branch to a judiciary that is, more often than not, elitist and biased towards government entities and corporations.

We are ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the travails of the average American. We are relatively expendable in the eyes of government—faceless numbers of individuals who serve one purpose, which is to keep the government machine running through our labor and our tax dollars.

What will it take for the government to start listening to the people again?

In V for Vendetta, as in my new novel The Erik Blair Diaries, it takes an act of terrorism for the people to finally mobilize and stand up to the government’s tyranny: in Vendetta, V the film’s masked crusader blows up the seat of government, while in Erik Blair, freedom fighters plot to unmask the Deep State.

These acts of desperation and outright anarchy are what happens when a parasitical government muzzles the citizenry, fences them in, herds them, brands them, whips them into submission, forces them to ante up the sweat of their brows while giving them little in return, and then provides them with little to no outlet for voicing their discontent: people get desperate, citizens lose hope, and lawful, nonviolent resistance gives way to unlawful, violent resistance.

This way lies madness.

Then again, this madness may be unavoidable unless we can wrest back control over our runaway government starting at the local level.

How to do this? It’s not rocket science.

There is no 10-step plan. If there were a 10-step plan, however, the first step would be as follows: turn off the televisions, tune out the politicians, and do your part to stand up for freedom principles in your own communities.

Stand up for your own rights, of course, but more importantly, stand up for the rights of those with whom you might disagree. Defend freedom at all costs. Defend justice at all costs. Make no exceptions based on race, religion, creed, politics, immigration status, sexual orientation, etc. Vote like Americans, for a change, not Republicans or Democrats.

Most of all, use your power—and there is power in our numbers—to nullify anything and everything the government does that undermines the freedom principles on which this nation was founded.

Don’t play semantics. Don’t justify. Don’t politicize it. If it carries even a whiff of tyranny, oppose it. Demand that your representatives in government cut you a better deal, one that abides by the Constitution and doesn’t just attempt to sidestep it.

That’s their job: make them do it.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, all freedoms hang together. They fall together, as well.

The police state does not discriminate. Eventually, we will all suffer the same fate.

The post Authoritarians Drunk on Power: It Is Time to Recalibrate the Government first appeared on Dissident Voice.

From BLM to Palestine: Only a Marriage of Movements can Counter a Marriage of Empires

On this one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, I’m thinking about settler colonial nations who routinely spend great amounts of capital to militarily and politically repress indigenous and popular uprisings led by the most historically oppressed peoples of the world.

The United States and Israel—two settler-colonial nation states whose drive to exterminate and replace indigenous peoples with settler colonists has led to unending repression and brutality for decades (in the case of Israel) and centuries (in the case of the United States). These two inherently genocidal projects also happen to be financially, materially, logistically and geopolitically intertwined. They depend on each other.

As President Biden so aptly put it in his Congressional speech in 1986, “We look at the Middle East. I think it’s about time we stop, those of us who support, as most of us do, Israel in this body, for apologizing for our support for Israel. There’s no apology to be made. None. It is the best $3 billion investment we make. Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region. The United States would have to go out and invent an Israel.”

Israel is described as “the most militarized nation in the world” by the Global Militarization Index. The US provides Israel $3.8 billion a year in cash and weapons, to make sure it is so. The marriage of these two settler empires makes it such that any US Congressional attempts to thwart Israel’s ongoing brutality against Palestinians are probably about as likely to be effective as Hamas’ rockets launched at Israel’s Iron Dome.

The US also provides Israel massive state-sponsored propaganda, backed by incredibly powerful Israeli lobbying groups like AIPAC, to make sure this funding stays in place and is not ever ideologically challenged inside the United States or Israel. These lobbying groups picked up steam and recruited more right-wing backers during Trump’s tenure, enhanced by his extreme support of Zionism, Netanyahu, the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and further funding for Israel’s settler colonial projects. But to be clear, US support for Israel is a bipartisan project, and it has been for decades. Even so-called progressive Democrats like Rep. Mondaire Jones of New York and Rep. Ro Khanna of California, have just signed onto an AIPAC letter, whose aim is to prevent any cuts in funding to Israel, in response to Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum’s new bill, HR2590, designed to “block Israel from using U.S. military aid to demolish Palestinian homes, arrest Palestinian children, and annex Palestinian land.”

AIPAC and its bipartisan allies have also, for decades, functioned to make sure that anyone who dares question “Israel’s right to self-defense” loses all political credibility, career opportunity, and is unilaterally smeared by Democrats and Republicans alike. From AP Press writers who get fired because they used to support Palestine in college, to US Congress members who joke about “the Benjamins,” criticizing Israel in any form has become a form of political suicide inside the United States. Recent attempts to criminalize anyone who supports the BDS movement have become clear violations of the First Amendment according to the ACLU, and yet, US states are moving ahead with these measures, despite legal challenges in the courts. Now that is one powerful international propaganda apparatus.

So it is against this David-and-Goliath-style backdrop that we see the beginnings of the US-Israeli-military-public-relations façade beginning to crumble inside the realm of US public opinion, as decades of organizing work on behalf of Palestinian human rights begin to slowly trickle up into the halls of Congress. According to a new Gallup poll, there’s a “53 percent majority of Democrats favor pressuring Israel—a 10-point jump since 2018—and progressive figures are clearly betting that the broader electorate is more willing to hear critics out than ever before.

This is a significant shift, especially inside a country where both major parties’ unilateral support for Israel has gone unquestioned for decades. And in the last few weeks, we’ve also seen some of the most progressive US Congressional members take courageous stances on Palestinian human rights: Rashida Tlaib’s impassioned speech on the House floor, AOC’s reference to Israel as an “apartheid state,” Bernie’s “resolution of disapproval” and other attempts to block an increased $735 million in additional weapons package.

These rhetorical shifts are tremendous acts of resistance inside the proverbial belly of the beast. And they certainly represent a broader shift in US public opinion, which we also see shifting internationally, given the massive Palestine solidarity protests throughout the United States, Europe and Australia, over the last few weeks. But make no mistake—these rhetorical shifts inside the US halls of power are not the same thing as fundamentally shifting US policy, which is deeply invested in maintaining and supporting its own economic, geo-political and military interests inside what UC Barbara Sociologist William I. Robinson calls the “global police state.” The following is an excerpt from Robinson’s book, Global Police State:

The Occupied Palestinian Territory has been transformed into probably the most monitored, controlled, and militarized place on earth. It epitomizes the dream of every general, security expert and police officer to be able to exercise total bio-political control. In a situation where the local population enjoys no effective legal protections or privacy, they and their lands become a laboratory where the latest technologies of surveillance, control, and suppression are perfected and showcased, giving Israel an edge in the highly competitive global market. Labels such as ‘Combat Proven,’ ‘Tested in Gaza,’ and ‘Approved by the IDF’ (Israeli Defense Forces) on Israeli or foreign products greatly improves their marketability.

These methods of control and repression fine tuned against the Palestinians have been exported by Israel to racist police in US inner cities, Brazilian security forces that patrol the impoverished residents of the Rio favelas, Colombian and Guatemalan military and paramilitary forces in their battles against social movements, Central Asian intelligence officers monitoring human rights activists and journalists, Chinese Army agents developing domestic systems of social control, and corporate clients and repressive states and police agencies the world over.

Indeed, many Palestinian activists who have found solidarity with indigenous rights activists in the United States have noted, as recently as Standing Rock in 2016:

Many of the law enforcement officers at Standing Rock have been trained in Israel. The weapons and tactics are identical. The use of high pressure water cannons, rubber bullets, rubber coated steel bullets, the use of attack dogs, and sound grenades are the same in both places.

And over the last few years, Amnesty International and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), have published reports detailing how Israeli training of US police officers has resulted in systematic brutality. Amnesty International’s report cites “widespread constitutional violations, discriminatory enforcement and a culture of retaliation” within the Baltimore Police Department. JVP’s report went on to say, “Police brutality of the kind that led to the death of George Floyd is both deeply embedded in American policing and also reinforced by the exchange of the ‘best practices’ and expertise in counter-terrorism techniques taught to US law enforcement officials during their training in Israel. Thousands of these officials from across the US have been sent to Israel for training, and thousands more have participated in conferences and workshops with Israeli personnel.”

The Middle East Monitor writes:

George Floyd’s killing is the latest, but probably not the last, example of classic American policing to mirror Israel’s ‘best law enforcement practice.’ It is being put to deadly use on the streets of America. If black lives really do matter in 21st century America, then the ‘deadly exchange programmes’ with Israel should be brought to an end without delay.

So this is the fundamental barrier for our movements trying to stop US aid to Israel. For decades, we’ve watched US Presidents offer Israel and Palestine peace deal after peace deal. We’ve seen an inordinate number of trips from Washington to Israel to host diplomatic talks about “two-state solutions.” Throughout all of these duplicitous negotiations, the US government has pretended to be an honest broker in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is not. It never has been. It never will be. And while there may be much-welcomed symbolic efforts coming down the pike to pass resolutions condemning Israeli violence as a sort of symbolic offering to human rights groups, the United States will not cut off aid to Israel any time soon. Nor will it ever be able to broker an honest peace deal, as long as its geopolitical, economic and military interests are fundamentally tied to those of Israel.

Both Israel and the United States are settler-colonial projects whose very existence is based on oppressing and replacing its indigenous peoples, as well as repressing popular resistance movements that emerge within their national borders. Both states now exist within a new global context described by Bill Robinson — a transnational capitalist project of building a global police state against ever-increasing popular uprisings. This is the current political moment in which we find ourselves. These well-intentioned measures from even the most progressive US Congress members are definitely worth celebrating for their rhetorical and symbolic progress. They are not, however, likely to become law, nor result in any fundamental reduction in military aid or support to Israel. We are going to need a lot more to break up the geopolitical marriage of these two capitalist, settler empires. Only relentless, intersectional and international solidarity movements against white supremacy, transnational capitalism, and settler colonialism have the power to do that.

The post From BLM to Palestine: Only a Marriage of Movements can Counter a Marriage of Empires first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Drivers Beware: The Deadly Perils of Blank Check Traffic Stops

The Fourth Amendment was designed to stand between us and arbitrary governmental authority. For all practical purposes, that shield has been shattered, leaving our liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of every cop on the beat, trooper on the highway and jail official. The framers would be appalled.

— Herman Schwartz, The Nation. August 16, 2012

We’ve all been there before.

You’re driving along and you see a pair of flashing blue lights in your rearview mirror. Whether or not you’ve done anything wrong, you get a sinking feeling in your stomach.

You’ve read enough news stories, seen enough headlines, and lived in the American police state long enough to be anxious about any encounter with a cop that takes place on the side of the road.

For better or worse, from the moment you’re pulled over, you’re at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to “serve and protect.”

This is what I call “blank check policing,” in which the police get to call all of the shots.

So if you’re nervous about traffic stops, you have every reason to be.

Trying to predict the outcome of any encounter with the police is a bit like playing Russian roulette: most of the time you will emerge relatively unscathed, although decidedly poorer and less secure about your rights, but there’s always the chance that an encounter will turn deadly.

Try to assert your right to merely ask a question during a traffic stop and see how far it gets you.

Juanisha Brooks—black, 34 years old and on her way home at 2:20 am—was pulled over, handcuffed, arrested and charged with resisting arrest, eluding the police, reckless driving and failure to use headlights after repeatedly asking police why she had been stopped. When Brooks—a Department of Defense employee—filed a complaint, prosecutors conceded that the traffic stop had been carried out without “proper legal basis” and dropped all charges.

Caron Nazario, a uniformed Army officer returning home from his duty station, was stopped for not having a rear license plate (his temporary plates were taped to the rear window of his new SUV). Nazario, who is Black and Latino, pulled over at a well-lit gas station only to be pepper sprayed, held at gunpoint, beaten and threatened with execution.

Zachary Noel was tasered by police and charged with resisting arrest after he questioned why he was being ordered out of his truck during a traffic stop. “Because I’m telling you to,” the officer replied before repeating his order for Noel to get out of the vehicle and then, without warning, shooting him with a taser through the open window.

Despite complying with all police orders when ordered to show his identification and exit his parked vehicle, Jeriel Edwards was subjected to excessive force and brutality, including being thrown to the ground, tasered, and placed in a chokehold that rendered him unconscious and required his hospitalization for three days. Although dash cam video of the arrest confirms that Edwards was peaceful, did not defy police orders, and did nothing to provoke police, a federal court ruled that Edwards’ trouble understanding police directions during the encounter constituted “resistance” that justified the force used by the four police officers involved in the violent arrest. Edwards is African-American.

Gregory Tucker, also black, was stopped by police for a broken taillight, only to be thrown to the ground, beaten and punched in the face and body more than 20 times, then arrested and hospitalized for severe injuries to his face and arm, all for allegedly “resisting arrest” by driving to a safe, well-lit area in front of his cousin’s house before stopping.

No wonder Americans are afraid of getting pulled over by police.

Mind you, all of these individuals complied with police. They just didn’t do it fast enough to suit their purposes.

At a time when police can do no wrong—at least in the eyes of the courts, police unions and politicians dependent on their votes—and a “fear” for officer safety is used to justify all manner of police misconduct, “we the people” are at a severe disadvantage.

Add a traffic stop to the mix, and that disadvantage increases dramatically.

According to the Justice Department, the most common reason for a citizen to come into contact with the police is being a driver in a traffic stop.

On average, one in 10 Americans gets pulled over by police.

According to data collected under Virginia’s new Community Policing Act, black drivers are almost two times more likely than white drivers to be pulled over by police and three times more likely to have their vehicles searched. As the Washington Post concludes, “‘Driving while black’ is, indeed, a measurable phenomenon.”

Historically, police officers have been given free range to pull anyone over for a variety of reasons.

This free-handed approach to traffic stops has resulted in drivers being stopped for windows that are too heavily tinted, for driving too fast, driving too slow, failing to maintain speed, following too closely, improper lane changes, distracted driving, screeching a car’s tires, and leaving a parked car door open for too long.

Motorists can also be stopped by police for driving near a bar or on a road that has large amounts of drunk driving, driving a certain make of car (Mercedes, Grand Prix and Hummers are among the most ticketed vehicles), having anything dangling from the rearview mirror (air fresheners, handicap parking permits, toll transponders or rosaries), and displaying pro-police bumper stickers.

Incredibly, a federal appeals court actually ruled unanimously in 2014 that acne scars and driving with a stiff upright posture are reasonable grounds for being pulled over. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that driving a vehicle that has a couple air fresheners, rosaries and pro-police bumper stickers at 2 MPH over the speed limit is suspicious, meriting a traffic stop.

Equally appalling, in Heien v. North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court—which has largely paved the way for the police and other government agents to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance—allowed police officers to stop drivers who appear nervous, provided they provide a palatable pretext for doing so.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone objector in the case. Dissenting in Heien, Sotomayor warned, “Giving officers license to effect seizures so long as they can attach to their reasonable view of the facts some reasonable legal interpretation (or misinterpretation) that suggests a law has been violated significantly expands this authority… One wonders how a citizen seeking to be law-abiding and to structure his or her behavior to avoid these invasive, frightening, and humiliating encounters could do so.”

In other words, drivers beware.

Traffic stops aren’t just dangerous. They can be downright deadly.

Remember Walter L. Scott? Reportedly pulled over for a broken taillight, Scott—unarmed—ran away from the police officer, who pursued and shot him from behind, first with a Taser, then with a gun. Scott was struck five times, “three times in the back, once in the upper buttocks and once in the ear — with at least one bullet entering his heart.”

Samuel Dubose, also unarmed, was pulled over for a missing front license plate. He was reportedly shot in the head after a brief struggle in which his car began rolling forward.

Levar Jones was stopped for a seatbelt offense, just as he was getting out of his car to enter a convenience store. Directed to show his license, Jones leaned into his car to get his wallet, only to be shot four times by the “fearful” officer. Jones was also unarmed.

Bobby Canipe was pulled over for having an expired registration. When the 70-year-old reached into the back of his truck for his walking cane, the officer fired several shots at him, hitting him once in the abdomen.

Dontrell Stevens was stopped “for not bicycling properly.” The officer pursuing him “thought the way Stephens rode his bike was suspicious. He thought the way Stephens got off his bike was suspicious.” Four seconds later, sheriff’s deputy Adams Lin shot Stephens four times as he pulled out a black object from his waistband. The object was his cell phone. Stephens was unarmed.

Sandra Bland, pulled over for allegedly failing to use her turn signal, was arrested after refusing to comply with the police officer’s order to extinguish her cigarette and exit her vehicle. The encounter escalated, with the officer threatening to “light” Bland up with his taser. Three days later, Bland was found dead in her jail cell. “You’re doing all of this for a failure to signal?” Bland asked as she got out of her car, after having been yelled at and threatened repeatedly.

Keep in mind, from the moment those lights start flashing and that siren goes off, we’re all in the same boat. However, it’s what happens after you’ve been pulled over that’s critical.

Survival is key.

Technically, you have the right to remain silent (beyond the basic requirement to identify yourself and show your registration). You have the right to refuse to have your vehicle searched. You have the right to film your interaction with police. You have the right to ask to leave. You also have the right to resist an unlawful order such as a police officer directing you to extinguish your cigarette, put away your phone or stop recording them.

However, there is a price for asserting one’s rights. That price grows more costly with every passing day.

If you ask cops and their enablers what Americans should do to stay alive during encounters with police, they will tell you to comply, cooperate, obey, not resist, not argue, not make threatening gestures or statements, avoid sudden movements, and submit to a search of their person and belongings.

Unfortunately, there are no longer any fail-safe rules of engagement for interacting with the police.

In the American police state, compliance is no guarantee that you will survive an encounter with the police with your life and liberties intact.

Every day we hear about situations in which unarmed Americans complied and still died during an encounter with police simply because they appeared to be standing in a “shooting stance” or held a cell phone or a garden hose or carried around a baseball bat or answered the front door or held a spoon in a threatening manner or ran in an aggressive manner holding a tree branch or wandered around naked or hunched over in a defensive posture or made the mistake of wearing the same clothes as a carjacking suspect (dark pants and a basketball jersey) or dared to leave an area at the same time that a police officer showed up or had a car break down by the side of the road or were deaf or homeless or old.

More often than not, it seems as if all you have to do to be shot and killed by police is stand a certain way, or move a certain way, or hold something—anything—that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or ignite some trigger-centric fear in a police officer’s mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety.

Now you can make all kinds of excuses to justify these shootings, and, in fact, that’s exactly what you’ll hear from politicians, police unions, law enforcement officials and individuals who are more than happy to march in lockstep with the police.

However, to suggest that a good citizen is a compliant citizen and that obedience will save us from the police state is not only recklessly irresponsible, but it is also deluded and out of touch with reality.

To begin with, and most importantly, Americans need to know their rights when it comes to interactions with the police, bearing in mind that many law enforcement officials are largely ignorant of the law themselves.

A good resource is The Rutherford Institute’s “Constitutional Q&A: Rules of Engagement for Interacting with Police.”

In a nutshell, the following are your basic rights when it comes to interactions with the police as outlined in the Bill of Rights:

You have the right under the First Amendment to ask questions and express yourself. You have the right under the Fourth Amendment to not have your person or your property searched by police or any government agent unless they have a search warrant authorizing them to do so.  You have the right under the Fifth Amendment to remain silent, to not incriminate yourself and to request an attorney. Depending on which state you live in and whether your encounter with police is consensual as opposed to your being temporarily detained or arrested, you may have the right to refuse to identify yourself. Not all states require citizens to show their ID to an officer (although drivers in all states must do so).

As a rule of thumb, you should always be sure to clarify in any police encounter whether or not you are being detained; i.e., whether you have the right to walk away. That holds true whether it’s a casual “show your ID” request on a boardwalk, a stop-and-frisk search on a city street, or a traffic stop for speeding or just to check your insurance. If you feel like you can’t walk away from a police encounter of your own volition—and more often than not you can’t, especially when you’re being confronted by someone armed to the hilt with all manner of militarized weaponry and gear—then for all intents and purposes, you’re essentially under arrest from the moment a cop stops you. Still, it doesn’t hurt to clarify that distinction.

While technology is always going to be a double-edged sword, with the gadgets that are the most useful to us in our daily lives—GPS devices, cell phones, the internet—being the very tools used by the government to track us, monitor our activities, and generally spy on us, cell phones are particularly useful for recording encounters with the police and have proven to be increasingly powerful reminders to police that they are not all powerful.

Knowing your rights is only part of the battle, unfortunately.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the hard part comes in when you have to exercise those rights in order to hold government officials accountable to respecting those rights.

The post Drivers Beware: The Deadly Perils of Blank Check Traffic Stops first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Brazil’s Perfect Storm

Lula da Silva has confirmed that he wants to be a presidential candidate in Brazil’s 2022 election. This was expected. After being freed from a process of lawfare intended to curtail his political career, Lula has reemerged on the national scene with full force. The Datafolha Institute has published a poll according to which Lula would win the first electoral round with 41% of the votes and the second round with 55% of the ballots. On the other hand, if neo-fascist President Jair Bolsonaro seeks re-election, he would only obtain 32% of the votes in the second round.

Abysmal statistics about Bolsonaro fail to convey the depth of the crisis being faced by his regime. The ruling administration’s toxic mix of pandemic mismanagement and savage neoliberalism has generated cracks in Bolsonaro’s “bull, bullet and bible bloc” – a coalition based on connections with the agribusiness sector, military and police forces, and the evangelical religious Right. In addition to the internal fragmentation of the top-level governing caste, there has been a groundswell of grassroots resistance to the right-wing agenda of neoliberal fascism.

Callousness

In spite of the growing pressures, the ruling dispensation has remained steadfast in its commitment to callousness. The Bolsonaro-headed political class continues its anti-science virus denialism, now perceiving the pandemic not as a public health issue but as a biological or psychological weapon created by China to gain competitive advantages in the global market and expand communist domination. This view has resulted in a strategy of herd immunity, ensuring that the free-market economy would keep working without any hassles and the internal enemies linked to international communism would also be defeated.

By downplaying the disease’s severity, preventive measures have been interpreted as arbitrary authoritarian acts. The deaths among risk groups have been accepted as casualties of war that would have the corollary effect of natural selection in the population, thus reducing the social security deficit and streamlining the country’s economic mechanisms.

Bolsonarist doctors have backed the thesis that Covid-19 is a much less serious disease than the World Health Organization (WHO) is portraying in ostensible collusion with China. They have also defended a cheap and accessible medicine kit with no proven efficacy for the treatment of Covid-19 infection. According to them, this medicine kit has not been officially recommended against the disease because it would go against the interests of big pharmaceutical companies.

Rising Hysteria

With no arrows left in his quiver, Bolsonaro is increasingly resorting to hysteria to somehow consolidate his hegemony. On May 6, 2021, the state police entered the favela of Jacarezinho in Rio de Janeiro and opened fire, killing at least 25 people who appeared to surrender before the guns fired. A day later, Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said:

This appears to have been the deadliest such operation in more than a decade in Rio de Janeiro, and furthers a long-standing trend of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by police in Brazil’s poor, marginalized and predominantly Afro-Brazilian neighborhoods. We…urge a broad and inclusive discussion in Brazil about the current model of policing in favelas – which are trapped in a vicious cycle of lethal violence, with a dramatically adverse impact on their already struggling and marginalized populations.

Growing violence is a natural extension of the tendencies inherent in a specific component of Bolsonaro’s power alliance, namely, the bullet bloc. Firstly, a pro-armament stance performs a cultural function, attempting to symbolically suture the economic disempowerment suffered by Brazilian men under neoliberalism through a hyper-masculine code of violence. Secondly, members of the bullet coalition promote deregulation in terms of gun sales and fund Bolsonaro’s campaign with money coming from the arms industry.

Strengthening of the combative capacity of the police and the armed forces has proven to be lethal. State squadrons involved in the federal government’s ongoing operations against drug traffickers have become dangerously violent. Countless civilians, mostly those who are Black and poor, have been killed in such operations, including many children.

As Brazil’s human travail increases due to the criminal negligence of the ruling elite, Bolsonaro will go hammer and tong against in his efforts to shore up support through hysterical means. This will include a deepening of an obnoxious crusade against the rising left-wing camp and a possible increase in repression. However, the desire among the Brazilian masses for a better future can’t be defeated easily. It will keep increasing in tandem with worsening existential conditions.

The post Brazil’s Perfect Storm first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System

Colombia has been burning with the flames of resistance ever since a national strike began on April 28, 2021. The initial impetus for the large-scale demonstrations came from a regressive tax reform. The tax bill came into being due to the necessity of the Colombian state to push down the rising fiscal deficit, which could reach 10% of GDP this year. On top of this, the tight integration of the Colombian economy into the architectures of imperialism has resulted in an external debt of $156,834,000,000 (51.8% of GDP, projected to come up to 62.8%).

Someone had to pay for this crisis and the ruling class had no interest in doing so. This was demonstrated when the finance minister ignored the recommendations made by the state-appointed expert committee to tax the highest earners first. The attempt to make the workers and the middle layers pay for the crisis was the spark that ignited the masses’ accumulated rage.

The movement has slowly spread into the larger questions of political economy, openly confronting the structural barbarity of a glaciated plutocracy. This plutocracy has blood on its hands; it has amassed obscene amounts of wealth by relentlessly mowing down the resistance of the oppressed masses.

Entrenched Violence

The modern history of Colombia is enveloped in vapors of violence. Between 1948 and 1958, the country was the scene of one of the most intense and protracted instances of widespread violence in the twentieth century. In this period, there was a civil war called “The Violence” between Liberal and Conservative parties which took 200,000 lives. In order to bring an end to civil war, the Conservatives and Liberals made a political pact in 1958, known as the National Front (NF) which established that the presidency would alternate between the two parties for a period of 16 years and all positions in the three branches of government would be distributed evenly between them. Despite this, violence continued until 1966.

NF barred the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) from conventional political process in 1955 to ensure that its rising popularity was curtailed. In this way, NF helped in the alternation of power between the different factions of the Colombia elite while strengthening the armed forces to suppress popular reforms. After the civil war, capital accumulation consolidated, agri-business interests grew stronger and land concentration increased. Suffocated by the brutal vehemence of blood-tainted profit-making and hamstrung by the closure of traditional channels of opposition, PCC formed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) on May 27, 1964, as its armed wing.

Between 1984 and 1988, the FARC-EP agreed to a ceasefire with then President Belisario Betancur and many of its militants opted for electoral politics by forming a mass-based political party, the Patriotic Union (UP).  In all, UP gained 12 elected congressional members, 21 representatives to departmental assemblies, 170 members of city councils and 335 municipal councilors. Before, during, and after scoring these substantial electoral victories in local, state, and national elections, the military-backed death squads murdered three of the UP’s presidential candidates.

Over 5,000 legal electoral activists were killed. The FARC-EP was forced to return to armed opposition because of Colombian regime-sponsored mass terrorism. Between 1985 and 2008, tens of thousands of peasant leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists, and neighborhood leaders as well as journalists, lawyers, and congress people were killed, jailed, or driven into exile. As is evident, whenever ordinary Colombians have stood up for life, the governing political caste and the ruling economic class have systematically tapped into the vast power of state terror to chop off any hope for a better future.

Even today, the same practice of deploying ever greater amounts of violence continues. The director of Human Rights Watch believes that the protests in Colombia have seen a level of police violence previously unknown in Latin America. He claims that on this continent he has never seen “tanks firing multiple rounds of tear gas projectiles, among other things, horizontally at demonstrators at high speed. A most dangerous practice”.

US Support

The Colombian elite’s construction of repressive apparatuses has been fundamentally aided by the American empire. Colombia has been witness to a US-sponsored counter-insurgent nation-building project aimed at contesting the rapid expansion of rural guerrillas on Colombia’s endless coca frontier, its mining and energy frontiers, its agro-industrial frontiers, and into most of its towns and even cities. This project has turned out to be purely destructive.

By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 400 paramilitary massacres annually. Enter US-backed Plan Colombia, ostensibly designed to cut cocaine production in half: 80% of it went to the Colombian police and armed forces, who worked with the paramilitaries against the FARC, or, more often, against the Colombian people who lived in areas where guerrillas were active. From 2006 to 2010, the Colombian armed forces disappeared more than 10,000 civilians and disguised them as guerrilla kills to boost the body count.

Propped up by a bloated, national security state, the political class became totally dysfunctional, making no move to implement the 1991 Constitution, whose provisions on indigenous autonomy became dead letters. Such was the mockery of the electorate’s existence that the passage of the constitution was preceded by record numbers of indigenous deaths.

The war machine’s dispossession, disappearance, torture, and massacre of indigenous people left no community untouched. The Afro-Colombians in the Pacific, who had secured provision to collective land title in 1993, following the indigenous model of autonomy through communal land tenure, suddenly found themselves in the thick of death and destruction as their lands were coveted by mining and logging companies as well as drug traffickers-cum-ranchers-cum-paramilitaries.

Today, Colombia continues to be the stooge of USA, being the largest recipient of American foreign aid in Latin America, and the largest outside of the Middle East. In 2020, Congress appropriated over $460 million in foreign aid, with most of the funds being directed towards “peace and security,” which includes providing training and equipment to security forces. This has translated into the build-up of massive police and military forces that are unleashed against the civilian population whenever the need comes to enforce the neoliberal model.

Continued Resistance

On November 24, 2016, the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP signed a peace agreement, the “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace”. However, this promise of peace has proven to be full of contradictory tensions. Insecurity and inequality continue unabated, despite the promise of stability, inclusiveness and state responsiveness. There can be little prospect of a meaningful or sustainable peace if large sections of society remain vulnerable to violence, insecurity, injustice and other harms.

However, an entirely elitist architecture of governance has been a part and parcel of Colombia’s history.  Whether it is conflict or “peace”, all types of political periods have been utilized by the agribusinesses, extractive industries, large-scale landowners and rural elites to enrich themselves. Meanwhile, the marginalized have been exposed to further violence and insecurity. The calcified cruelty of this system reached such a level that the subjugated pole could no longer keep quiet; it had to take to the streets to reassert its right to live with dignity.

Since Duque came to power in 2018, Colombians have led fierce social struggles: student-led demonstrations against corruption and state terror over three consecutive months in 2018; a nationwide strike of teachers, students, farmers and pensioners in support of public education and pensions in April 2019; “March for Life” demonstrations by students and teachers in response to escalation in assassinations of activists and opposition politicians by neo-paramilitaries and police in July 2019; nationwide general strikes against austerity policies and the cover-up of a military-headed bombing campaign that killed at least eight children in the department of Caquetá; and the mass demonstrations that erupted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 against police violence. In the current conjuncture, resistance will continue as the heavy fist of neoliberal authoritarianism disrupts the existence of the majority of the people.

The post Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System

Colombia has been burning with the flames of resistance ever since a national strike began on April 28, 2021. The initial impetus for the large-scale demonstrations came from a regressive tax reform. The tax bill came into being due to the necessity of the Colombian state to push down the rising fiscal deficit, which could reach 10% of GDP this year. On top of this, the tight integration of the Colombian economy into the architectures of imperialism has resulted in an external debt of $156,834,000,000 (51.8% of GDP, projected to come up to 62.8%).

Someone had to pay for this crisis and the ruling class had no interest in doing so. This was demonstrated when the finance minister ignored the recommendations made by the state-appointed expert committee to tax the highest earners first. The attempt to make the workers and the middle layers pay for the crisis was the spark that ignited the masses’ accumulated rage.

The movement has slowly spread into the larger questions of political economy, openly confronting the structural barbarity of a glaciated plutocracy. This plutocracy has blood on its hands; it has amassed obscene amounts of wealth by relentlessly mowing down the resistance of the oppressed masses.

Entrenched Violence

The modern history of Colombia is enveloped in vapors of violence. Between 1948 and 1958, the country was the scene of one of the most intense and protracted instances of widespread violence in the twentieth century. In this period, there was a civil war called “The Violence” between Liberal and Conservative parties which took 200,000 lives. In order to bring an end to civil war, the Conservatives and Liberals made a political pact in 1958, known as the National Front (NF) which established that the presidency would alternate between the two parties for a period of 16 years and all positions in the three branches of government would be distributed evenly between them. Despite this, violence continued until 1966.

NF barred the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) from conventional political process in 1955 to ensure that its rising popularity was curtailed. In this way, NF helped in the alternation of power between the different factions of the Colombia elite while strengthening the armed forces to suppress popular reforms. After the civil war, capital accumulation consolidated, agri-business interests grew stronger and land concentration increased. Suffocated by the brutal vehemence of blood-tainted profit-making and hamstrung by the closure of traditional channels of opposition, PCC formed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP) on May 27, 1964, as its armed wing.

Between 1984 and 1988, the FARC-EP agreed to a ceasefire with then President Belisario Betancur and many of its militants opted for electoral politics by forming a mass-based political party, the Patriotic Union (UP).  In all, UP gained 12 elected congressional members, 21 representatives to departmental assemblies, 170 members of city councils and 335 municipal councilors. Before, during, and after scoring these substantial electoral victories in local, state, and national elections, the military-backed death squads murdered three of the UP’s presidential candidates.

Over 5,000 legal electoral activists were killed. The FARC-EP was forced to return to armed opposition because of Colombian regime-sponsored mass terrorism. Between 1985 and 2008, tens of thousands of peasant leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists, and neighborhood leaders as well as journalists, lawyers, and congress people were killed, jailed, or driven into exile. As is evident, whenever ordinary Colombians have stood up for life, the governing political caste and the ruling economic class have systematically tapped into the vast power of state terror to chop off any hope for a better future.

Even today, the same practice of deploying ever greater amounts of violence continues. The director of Human Rights Watch believes that the protests in Colombia have seen a level of police violence previously unknown in Latin America. He claims that on this continent he has never seen “tanks firing multiple rounds of tear gas projectiles, among other things, horizontally at demonstrators at high speed. A most dangerous practice”.

US Support

The Colombian elite’s construction of repressive apparatuses has been fundamentally aided by the American empire. Colombia has been witness to a US-sponsored counter-insurgent nation-building project aimed at contesting the rapid expansion of rural guerrillas on Colombia’s endless coca frontier, its mining and energy frontiers, its agro-industrial frontiers, and into most of its towns and even cities. This project has turned out to be purely destructive.

By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 400 paramilitary massacres annually. Enter US-backed Plan Colombia, ostensibly designed to cut cocaine production in half: 80% of it went to the Colombian police and armed forces, who worked with the paramilitaries against the FARC, or, more often, against the Colombian people who lived in areas where guerrillas were active. From 2006 to 2010, the Colombian armed forces disappeared more than 10,000 civilians and disguised them as guerrilla kills to boost the body count.

Propped up by a bloated, national security state, the political class became totally dysfunctional, making no move to implement the 1991 Constitution, whose provisions on indigenous autonomy became dead letters. Such was the mockery of the electorate’s existence that the passage of the constitution was preceded by record numbers of indigenous deaths.

The war machine’s dispossession, disappearance, torture, and massacre of indigenous people left no community untouched. The Afro-Colombians in the Pacific, who had secured provision to collective land title in 1993, following the indigenous model of autonomy through communal land tenure, suddenly found themselves in the thick of death and destruction as their lands were coveted by mining and logging companies as well as drug traffickers-cum-ranchers-cum-paramilitaries.

Today, Colombia continues to be the stooge of USA, being the largest recipient of American foreign aid in Latin America, and the largest outside of the Middle East. In 2020, Congress appropriated over $460 million in foreign aid, with most of the funds being directed towards “peace and security,” which includes providing training and equipment to security forces. This has translated into the build-up of massive police and military forces that are unleashed against the civilian population whenever the need comes to enforce the neoliberal model.

Continued Resistance

On November 24, 2016, the Government of Colombia and FARC-EP signed a peace agreement, the “Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace”. However, this promise of peace has proven to be full of contradictory tensions. Insecurity and inequality continue unabated, despite the promise of stability, inclusiveness and state responsiveness. There can be little prospect of a meaningful or sustainable peace if large sections of society remain vulnerable to violence, insecurity, injustice and other harms.

However, an entirely elitist architecture of governance has been a part and parcel of Colombia’s history.  Whether it is conflict or “peace”, all types of political periods have been utilized by the agribusinesses, extractive industries, large-scale landowners and rural elites to enrich themselves. Meanwhile, the marginalized have been exposed to further violence and insecurity. The calcified cruelty of this system reached such a level that the subjugated pole could no longer keep quiet; it had to take to the streets to reassert its right to live with dignity.

Since Duque came to power in 2018, Colombians have led fierce social struggles: student-led demonstrations against corruption and state terror over three consecutive months in 2018; a nationwide strike of teachers, students, farmers and pensioners in support of public education and pensions in April 2019; “March for Life” demonstrations by students and teachers in response to escalation in assassinations of activists and opposition politicians by neo-paramilitaries and police in July 2019; nationwide general strikes against austerity policies and the cover-up of a military-headed bombing campaign that killed at least eight children in the department of Caquetá; and the mass demonstrations that erupted during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 against police violence. In the current conjuncture, resistance will continue as the heavy fist of neoliberal authoritarianism disrupts the existence of the majority of the people.

The post Colombia’s Rebellion against the Capitalist System first appeared on Dissident Voice.