Sunday, May 31, 2020

‘The US is the World’s worst abuser of human rights’ | Activist Margaret Kimberley

Opinion | The Police Killed George Floyd. Redirect Their Funding Elsewhere. - The New York Times

Opinion | The Police Killed George Floyd. Redirect Their Funding Elsewhere. - The New York Times: Redirect it to emergency response programs that don’t kill black people.

EXCERPT (more good ideas here, but couldn't get the whole article to post -- read it at link above):

Here’s another idea: Imagine if the
money used to pay the salaries of police officers who endlessly patrol
public housing buildings and harass residents can be used to fund plans
that residents design to keep themselves safe. The money could also pay
the salaries of maintenance and custodial workers; fund community
programs, employment and a universal basic income; or pay for upgrades
to elevators and apartment units so residents are not stuck without gas during a pandemic, as some people in Brooklyn were. The Movement for Black Lives and other social movements call for this kind of redirection of funds.
need to reimagine public safety in ways that shrink and eventually
abolish police and prisons while prioritizing education, housing,
economic security, mental health and alternatives to conflict and
violence. People often question the practicality of any emergency
response that excludes the police. We live in a violent society, but the
police rarely guarantee safety. Now more than ever is the time to
divest not only from police resources, but also the idea that the police
keep us safe.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Thursday, May 28, 2020

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Michael Flynn & the FBI Setup – Consortiumnews

Excerpt--words of Justice Robert Jackson in 1940:

“The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation that any
other person in America. His discretion is tremendous.  He can have 
citizens investigated and, if he is that kind of person, he can have this done
to the tune of public statements and veiled or unveiled intimations.
Or the prosecutor may choose a more subtle course and simply
have a citizen’s friends interviewed.  The prosecutor can order
arrests, present cases to the grand jury in secret session, and on the
basis of his one-sided presentation of the facts, can cause the citizen
to be indicted and held for trial.  He may dismiss the case before
trial, in which case the defense never has a chance to be heard.  Or he
may go on with a public trial.  If he obtains a conviction, the
prosecutor can still make recommendations as to sentence, as to whether
the prisoner should get probation or a suspended sentence, and after he
is put away, as to whether he is a fit subject for parole. While the
prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our
society, when he acts from malice or other base motives, he is one of
the worst.”


Congress is poised to pass far-reaching Israeli wish list – Mondoweiss

Congress is poised to pass far-reaching Israeli wish list – Mondoweiss:

Congress is poised to enact with little transparency its most far-reaching bill related to Israel at the height of a national public health emergency.

Nina Turner REACTS: Minneapolis, Amy Cooper, and what Biden should have ...

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

A Better World is Possible -- ZZ's Blog

Capitalism is an amazingly resilient system. This is not meant as praise, but as an observation that Marxists have made again and again since Marx and Engels first foresaw capitalism’s demise. 

Its resilience lies not in its delivering the public goods, but in its ability to convince a critical mass of people that it does deliver and, when faced with an existential crisis, to stop at nothing to save the reign of capital. 

Of course earlier socio-economic systems had long runs as well. But it is a fool’s errand and decidedly un-Marxist to call the date of the “final” crisis. Unfortunately, far too many have foolishly made that call-- I have the books on my bookshelves to prove it.

What Marxists can do is check the pulse of the capitalist system, take an x-ray, and make a cautious diagnosis. I think everyone-- Marxist and non-Marxist alike-- would agree that today the system is ill, indeed, critically ill. Global capitalism is breathing heavily, and struggling to get out of bed. Maybe it’s because of the coronavirus, maybe it’s also from some serious pre-existing conditions.

Metaphor aside for a moment, capitalism is, at this time, declining rapidly. The usual numbers-- unemployment, GDP, investment, manufacturing activity, trade, etc.-- are all trending in ways unseen at least since the Great Depression. 

What is the prognosis?

The pollyannas of the capitalist class-- most capitalists, economists, politicians-- speak of a quick recovery. They see the crisis as beginning and ending with the rise and fall of Covid-19 infections. Once the coronavirus is conquered, they say, the global economy will pick itself up and, in time, continue briskly marching forward. This should, and does, sound like whistling past the graveyard. 

Liberals and social democrats-- the social-work left-- understand that great human damage is occurring; their sympathy for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the crisis’s victims is genuine and heartfelt; and they sense an opportunity to reform. However, for them, reform must accomplish two-- I would argue, contradictory-- tasks simultaneously: restore and repair the capitalist system and repair and restore the carnage inflicted upon people by this crisis. 

Sure, the respectable left rails against capitalism-- crony capitalism, disaster capitalism, pandemic capitalism, gender capitalism, Trump capitalism, “cancerous form of capitalism” (Michael Moore) or neo-liberal capitalism. But they don’t really mean capitalism itself. Rather, they reject what they consider aberrant capitalism, bad capitalism, capitalism off its otherwise benign rails. Instead, they desire a good capitalism: “human-centered capitalism” (Brookings), “accountable capitalism” (Elizabeth Warren), “capitalism for everyone” (Center for American Progress), “post-capitalism” (the science-fiction capitalism imagined by many academic leftists), or a host of other capitalisms tailored to the supposed greater good. 

The unstated truth is that the soft left, the reformist left does not connect the social ills of growing inequality, wealth concentration, increasing poverty, declining life expectancy, and social dysfunction directly to the intrinsic mechanism of capitalism. They believe that, with some tinkering, they can make the insatiable drive for profit, for accumulation, take a backseat to human needs.

It is an odd view; for centuries, through capitalism’s birth, growth, and maturation, this reformist program has not come close to any lasting success.

In the twenty-first century, with three devastating, life-crushing economic crises in twenty years, that prospect appears even dimmer.

Many in the US are entirely focused on the forthcoming Presidential election campaign. Do they think that the two-party electoral system-- finely honed over many decades to repel even moderate reformism-- will produce solutions equal to the tasks of this era? For young people, it is hopefully a learning experience; for older people, confidence in a favorable outcome is a disappointing measure of their cynicism, not their maturity. Could anyone believe that either Donald Trump or Joseph Biden (now joined with the execrable Laurence Summers) is able to tackle, for the good of the people, an economy now in free fall?

In the past, the reformist left relied upon the labor union hierarchies, the center-left political parties, and issue-oriented activist networks. But today, these groups are more and more compromised. The center-left parties are thoroughly “bourgeoisified”; corporate ownership-- once a dirty, little secret-- is now apparent to all. 

The labor union leadership has exchanged class confrontation for partnership with capital; in some embarrassing cases, they have mounted a stiffer defense of capitalism than the corporations, notably when attacking “foreign” competitors.

And far too many issue-groups have drunk from the poisoned chalice of foundation money. Understandably, there are desperate needs for funding, especially for a resource-starved left, but foundation money is a stealth assault on independent action.

The way forward lies in unleashing the potential of working people, freeing them from the institutional fetters imposed by bankrupt political parties, an ossified labor leadership, and ineffective NGOs.

While it is a daunting task, organizing the millions of unemployed workers promises to break from the inadequate tactics of the recent past. It was the Communist-led unemployment councils that sparked the peoples’ movement in The Great Depression. The marches on state capitals and Washington DC, the confrontation with assistance agencies and evicting officials, and relentless agitation pressed the authorities to reluctantly consider remedies to widespread human misery. Contrary to the “great man” mythology ascribed to Franklin Roosevelt, it was the militant action of the unemployed and other workers that constructed the popular base for New Deal reforms. Without that base demanding more, Roosevelt would have retreated. This time, even greater victories are possible.

Encouraging signs are rising that workers are seeking a new militancy to combat the ravages of capitalism. There is a thirst-- expressed especially among younger workers-- for new ways to organize and direct the anger emerging from the failures of the system to protect and support workers faced with a deadly virus. The callousness of many capitalist leaders toward the safety of health care workers, the rush to return enterprises to profit making despite endangering workers, and the failures to promptly and efficiently provide the resources necessary to combat and treat the virus have exposed the inhumanity of capitalism. Amazon workers, gig workers, the precariat, and other unorganized workers, now more than ever, see the need for collective action. Danger and idleness are great teachers.

Those with the lowest paying jobs, women, Blacks, and Latinos have been hit the hardest by the layoffs and are the most neglected by the politicians and those pretending to represent labor. Like in the era of the Great Depression, a resurgent, militant, and independent labor movement must appeal to those left out. Whether the movement follows the pattern established by the 1930s industrial movement, the CIO, or takes another form, it must not be shackled with moderation and class pacification. The objective need is there, the conditions are ripe; all that is needed is the will. 

As in the thirties, there is mass confusion, unfocused anger, nihilism. The divisions grow in number and grow deeper. The danger of the right coopting righteous indignation increases. Already, Trump and his international counterparts have exploited the frustration of the masses and the impotency of the center-left. 

The antidote to the appeal of the right is not hand-wringing or fear-mongering, but countering with alternatives. Communists in the thirties countered Father Coughlin, the Black Legions, and the many crackpots and demagogues with the power of organization and the inspiration of militant ideas. 

In the thirties, where a catalyst seized the initiative-- even a small catalyst like the US Communist Party-- working people were able to unite and force change on an obstinate ruling class. They were able to find their strength and a vision of a better world. Once recognized, the potential of working people knows no bounds. We must work to foster that recognition.

Our fight is not for unemployment insurance or social security. Those fights have been won, though the ruling class has chipped away at these gains from the day they were secured. Hopefully, our fight is for more, for everything, for socialism!

Greg Godels

Vijay Prashad: A Tale of Two Countries: Vietnam and the US

Not long ago, the government of Vietnam sent 450,000 units of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the United States in an act of solidarity. This is the same country which was bombed beyond belief by the United States government, which used such harsh chemical weapons that the people remain scarred by it; Vietnam’s agriculture will not recover for generations.

 The COVID-19 disease has caused more than 4.13 million infections and has taken 283,000 lives. Vietnam, which shares an 870-mile border with China, saw its first case in late January when a man from Wuhan came to visit his son in Vietnam. Thus far, however, there have only been 288 confirmed infections and no deaths. This is not because of low testing or poor record-keeping. It is because Vietnam took a science-based approach to the virus and disease, something alien to the Trump administration.

Vietnam’s government, led by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, never minimized the threat of COVID-19. It immediately set up a national steering committee to coordinate action. Testing began at border points and epidemic control teams began to test the population and do contact tracing if they found anyone with the infection. Rather than lockdown the entire population, the epidemic teams studied the population, and isolated and treated those with symptoms and who tested positive for COVID-19; if there was a region with particularly high numbers, it was quarantined.

This multi-tier isolation system helped the authorities break the chain of infection. The Communist Party of Vietnam — very early — offered a motto, “fighting the epidemic is like fighting against the enemy.”

The Ministry of Health posed a music video to explain the concept of physical distancing and hand washing; this video went viral on TikTok, where young people created a dance to go with it. The message was broadcast in days. Masks were mandated in public and alcohol-based hand sanitizers are found everywhere. Schools and religious sites were all immediately closed.

The government directed public sector units to produce necessary equipment, including PPEs and ventilators, as well as hand sanitizer and medicines. There was sufficient industrial capacity that could be directed to produce these goods without any worry about price gouging, since these are public sector enterprises. The private sector followed suit, and so did philanthropists who set up “Rice ATMs” to distribute food to those who had lost their incomes. The government set up food kitchens to feed the indigent.

Here’s how the United States failed. Alex Azar is the Health and Human Services Secretary in the Trump administration. He heard about the virus in the first week of January but did not tell Trump for two weeks. Both Trump and Azar behaved in an anti-science, hallucinatory way toward COVID-19.

On Jan. 28, Azar said that Americans would find that the virus “should not be an impact on their day-to-day life.” By then, the Vietnamese had already begun major preparations to contain the virus, including increasing capacity in medical institutions and for the production of necessary protective equipment. On the day that the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency — Jan. 30 — Trump said, with no evidence, “we think we have it very well under control.”

Right through January, February and March, Trump minimized the threat. His Twitter feed provides all the necessary evidence. On March 9, Trump likened the virus to the common flu; “Think about that!,” he wrote. Two days later, the WHO declared a global pandemic. On March 13, Trump declared a national emergency; this was months after Vietnam acted, six weeks after the WHO had declared a public emergency. These six weeks were lost. In the United States alone, 80,602 people have died thus far of the virus; remember, in Vietnam there are no fatalities.

Vijay Prashad, who lives in Northampton, was born and raised in Kolkata, India. He is the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

CARES Act Funding For Native Tribes Reveals Continued US Colonization

Useless, incorrect to blame China for coronavirus origin: Lancet editor-in-chief - New Cold War: Know Better

Useless, incorrect to blame China for coronavirus origin: Lancet editor-in-chief - New Cold War: Know Better:


Horton said he feels regret that the discussion of COVID-19 pandemic has been interpreted as a part of the geopolitical struggle of nations.

Tucker: Adam Schiff should resign

Monday, May 04, 2020