Tag Archive: United States

Apr 21 2019

Julian Assange: Within Washington’s grasp?

Is journalism at risk or is it personal? Plus, the Polish priest whose mini media empire packs a political punch. Assange: Within Washington’s grasp? When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was forced out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London last week, the debates that appeared on the airwaves, online and in print went to the core …

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Aug 15 2016

MSF: Another Hospital in Yemen Bombed By Saudi Arabia

Another hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has been bomb today in Yemen by a Saudi Arabian coalition armed with US weapons. Early reports by the international organization state that at least seven people have been reported killed and 13 injured. BREAKING: #Yemen MSF-supported hospital was hit by airstrikes at 15:45. We …

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Jan 12 2016

US Backed Saudis Continue Targeting Hospitals in Yemen

The US funded Saudi Arabian coalition that has been bombing Yemen in the name of fighting terrorism has bombed several more hospitals and clinics since they destroyed a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in early December. On Sunday, Shiara hospital in Razeh District, where MSF has been working since November 2015, was destroyed resulting …

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Dec 04 2015

Bombing Hospitals: The New Norm of War

In early October the medical facility run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Kunduz, Afghanistan was purposely bombed by the United States. Then, on October 26, the US backed Saudi bombed another hospital in Yemen that was run by MSF. A hospital run by international aid group Doctors Without Borders (referred to internationally in French as …

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Nov 18 2015

Death in Plain Sight

The mass shootings in Littleton, Newtown, and the Washington, DC Navy Yard have become a rallying cry for gun control in the United States. Yet, on average, every day across the country at least three women are killed by intimate partners, the majority shot to death. Guns and domestic violence are a lethal combination in …

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Aug 17 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Cooperative Movement vs Capitalist Domination in the Global Economy

By Geminijen

I’ve been running around to various left conferences this spring and summer and everywhere I go the cooperative movement is touted as the potential savior of the global economy. Admittedly, cooperatives are only “a grain of sand on the beach” (to use a summer metaphor)when one views the entire global economy. At this point it is also not clear that the interest in a cooperative economy is not just a desperate hope that something  – anything – can save us from total economic catastrophe as capitalism seems to be in its last throes with levels of inequality that cannot be sustained.

Do cooperatives really have the potential to be a transition to another more fully progressive economic form that can replace capitalism? Or is it – as cooperatives generally have been – a temporary safety valve during depressions which disappear or are assimilated over time or a capitalist reform as capitalism regains its footing (i.e., the mines in England, the paper plants in the Northwest United States, the electric cooperatives in the Southwest United States).

Since the cooperative movement is currently the fastest growing movement for systemic economic change it deserves an overview of what it is and where its going –which I will attempt to do, in a very limited way.

I will briefly comment on the recent changes in the cooperative movement in:

1) Venezuela which has attempted to use coops as part of its transition to socialism;

2) In the Mondragon cooperative network which applies the cooperative principles in the capitalist system;

3) In the United States because it is in the belly of the beast of capitalism and as such has special problems, and

4) In Cuba which is using cooperatives to transition away from a fully socialist economy to a more mixed economy. (I will write a separate article on cooperatives in Asia or Africa as BRIC countries have unique problems, although India has a highly developed cooperative economy and China has the most cooperatives in the world.)

Aug 10 2015

ACM: On attacks on women’s reproductive rights: budgets, no choices, and eugenics, oh my!

By NY Brit Expat

An incident at dinner in Italy during my vacation there and the subsequent discussion has driven me to prioritise this piece. Following a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant, one man decided that it was time for us to listen to his misogyny on women’s reproductive rights. I knew he was saying offensive things as the two English speakers at the table refused to translate what he was saying. Upon my insistence, he tried to speak in English, but what he was saying was so offensive I refused to believe he was saying it. I turned to my husband and the other English speaking friend and they shook their heads yes, that is what he was saying. This man argued that women have to the right to choice but if they get pregnant with a child they do not want, they must be forced to carry the child to term and to give it up for adoption. Those that know me would not be surprised at my angry response in which I spoke of women having the right of property in their own body, spoke of bodily autonomy and reminded him that we were not incubators, but human beings. I concluded by calling him a misogynist and telling him that this was not an opinion but hate speech.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978 when Law 194 was passed. While not a perfect law, it was won after intense struggle by the women’s movement. This law not only guaranteed access to abortion, but access  to reproductive health care, contraception, and a whole range of rights for women and these were tied into public health provision. Like in the US (and this has been a failing in both countries), the conscientious objector clause has led to a decrease in the numbers of medical professionals willing to carry out the procedure on religious grounds (and in the US due to pressure from anti-abortion activists). So to hear someone (who is not religious) babbling this crap at me following dinner was way too much. So, who ruined dinner? Was it him or me?

This incident highlighted something that has become extremely obvious and this applies both to women’s rights and to racism. The days when someone who held these offensive positions knew to keep their mouths shut is long gone; instead they pose hate speech as opinion and demand their right to preach it.  Our response must be swift and strong so that these troglodytes are driven back to the primordial soup from which they have barely crawled out from.

In a follow-up discussion on the way to the car park, I told my English speaking friend what just passed the British parliament as part of the Welfare Bill. I told him that the Tories are changing the nature of the social welfare state which covered all women (child-tax credits, child benefits) to only cover the poor and working class. And then I told him about the limits to benefits only to 2 children in the future. I explained that the former made it easier to eliminate benefits totally (why should taxpayers take care of the working class – employed and unemployed — after all?). I explained the latter policy was a form of eugenics and was a neo-Malthusian policy. While he agreed with the former (he is a mainstream neoclassical after all), he was horrified at the latter (maybe because he has 5 children and has benefited from receiving benefits in several countries to help with covering the costs for all his children).

 photo 7af76752-8ad4-4f0c-85d0-028a5271ac7b_zpshgbyomvq.jpg

When women talk about reproductive rights and justice they are not only speaking about women’s rights to not have children. This is an essential part of reproductive rights: the right to choose not to have children, to have access to birth contraceptives abortion and voluntary sterilisation. But we are also speaking of the right of women to have children and to determine when and how many. This right has been most often denied to working class women, disabled women and to women of colour. Sterilisation abuse and forced usage of birth control against working class women, disabled women and women of colour is part of a long-term agenda of eugenics and neo-Malthusianism.

Wealthier white women fought for the right to not have children and to choose when they had them and to demand sterilisation without the consent of their husbands. Eugenics law that promoted the “betterment of the human race” by forcing wealthier white women to have children also led to laws that demanded the use of birth control to access welfare benefits and forced sterilisation for working class women. These laws have been the tools of choice against working class women, women of colour and disabled women and have been used to prevent their choosing to have children and to limit the numbers that they had. In the US, to this day, eugenics laws are still on the books to be used against disabled women; Buck vs Bell (1927) in which the Supreme Court ruled that compulsory sterilisation of the unfit did not violate the Due Process Clause of the US constitution.  This endorsement of negative eugenics has not been repealed and still stands as US law. So to say that to leave things of the past in the past doesn’t really hold up as these things of the past tend to revive. After all, patriarchy is still strong and these arguments are not only a position of patriarchy but of the bourgeoisie that does not feel the need to humour women in their bizarre beliefs that they, not the family, not the church and not the state control their own bodies.

Mar 07 2014

I Hear A Very Gentle Sound



March 06, 2014

Russia Threatens to Drop The Dollar and Crash The U.S. Economy if Sanctions Are Imposed – Obama Signs Sanctions Anyway

On Tuesday Reuters reported that a Kremlin aid Sergei Glazyev had announced that if the U.S. were to impose sanctions on Russia Moscow may drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks saying that Moscow could recommend that all holders of U.S. treasuries sell them if Washington freezes the U.S. accounts of Russian businesses and individuals.

“We would find a way not just to reduce our dependency on the United States to zero but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefits for ourselves,” said Glazyev.

“An attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system”

That statement is startling by itself, but the true gravity of this situation is only evident when you consider it in context. China has taken Russia’s side in the Ukraine conflict (they are after all allies) and China holds the lion’s share of U.S. treasuries. If Russia puts out the call to drop the dollar China would have a choice: either hold on to those treasuries while the dollar slides (losing their shirt in the process) or join Russia and dump their holdings as well. It should be pretty obvious which way China would go.

The effects of a coordinated bond sell off by China and Russia would be earth shattering. This would be the financial equivalent of a nuclear bomb being dropped. It is no exaggeration to say that such a move would mark the end of an era.

You would think that this would prompt some serious reflection and that diplomats would be scrambling to resolve this peacefully, but instead today Obama signed a sanction order anyway and revoked the visas of a number of Russian officials.

Mar 04 2014

Ukraine Crisis

If you’ve turned on your television, the radio or read any on line news, you know there was a revolution in the Ukraine that overturned the government of Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych refused to step down, even after he was removed by the Parliament and a warrant for his arrest was issued for the deaths of protesters when the police used snipers to kill unarmed demonstrators in Kiev. Yanukovych disappeared showing up in Russia where Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the deposal of Yanukovych an unconstitutional coup d’etat, On Friday, Putin sent troops into Ukrainian Peninsula of Crimea and blockading the Black Sea deep water port of Sevastopol. The UN Security Council met at the New York City headquarters yesterday and NATO will meet for the second time in three day in Brussels at the request of member nation Poland that shares a border with Ukraine.

Crimea crisis: Putin rules out war but will use force ‘as last resort’

• We will not go to war with the Ukrainian people, says Putin

• Claims ousting of Ukrainian president was ‘coup d’état’

• Yanukovych ‘still legitimate head of state’

• Pro-Russian troops and Ukrainian soldiers in tense standoff

Vladimir Putin ruled out war with Ukraine on Tuesday, but also reserved the right to use force “as a last resort” days after his forces took control of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

Breaking his silence for the first time since the revolution in Ukraine toppled Viktor Yanukovych, Putin denounced the takeover as an unconstitutional coup d’etat, insisted Yanukovych was still the legitimate head of state, although he declared him politically dead, and said he would not recognise presidential elections being held in Ukraine at the end of May.

Putin emphasised that Russia had no intention of invading Ukraine, or of annexing territory. But he also kept his options open by claiming Yanukovych had written a letter asking for Russian help.

It appeared that Putin was also seeking to send signals to the west, keen to ward off growing US-led pressure for sanctions against his regime and to sow divisions among the Europeans who are economically much more engaged in Russia than the Americans.

He also warned that sanctions were a two-way street that would effect those applying them.

Kerry, Arriving in Kiev, Offers $1 Billion in Loan Guarantees to Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine – In a demonstration of support for Ukraine’s fledgling government, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived here on Tuesday with an offer of $1 billion in American loan guarantees and pledges of technical assistance, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

The purpose of the loan guarantee is to support Ukraine’s efforts to integrate with the West and to help offset the reduction of energy subsidies from Russia, which has challenged the new government’s legitimacy and occupied the Crimean Peninsula.

The United States will also send technical experts to help Ukraine’s national bank and finance ministry, provide advice on how to fight corruption and train election monitors to help establish the legitimacy of Ukraine’s coming election.

As Prime Russian Trading Partner, Germany Appears Crucial to Ending Crisis

In the face of the diplomatic maneuvering over how to confront a bellicose Russia in Ukraine, one country appears to hold the key to any long-lasting entente: Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse and one of Russia’s primary trading partners.

Whether it is importing fuel from Gazprom or selling Mercedes-Benz to billionaire oligarchs, trade with Russia has played an important role in Germany’s emergence as an economic superpower over the last decade. Germany is now heavily reliant on Russia for its energy needs, importing more natural gas from Russia than any other country in Europe.

But Germany’s enhanced status on the world stage – combined with the end of the commodity boom and the onset of economic stagnation in Russia – has also shifted the balance of power. Some analysts argue that it is Russia that has the most to lose if economic sanctions are ever imposed.

This dynamic could offer insight into the role that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will play in any negotiations with the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin.

Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and Ray McGovern, activist and former senior CIA analyst joined Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! to discuss the crisis and who is provoking the unrest.

Russia is vowing to keep its troops in the Ukrainian region of Crimea in what has become Moscow’s biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War. Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said Russian President Vladimir Putin had effectively declared war on his country. Concern is growing that more of eastern Ukraine could soon fall to the Russians. Earlier today, Russian troops seized a Ukraine coast guard base in the Crimean city of Balaklava. On Sunday, the new head of Ukraine’s navy defected to Russia



Transcript can be read here

Jan 09 2013

Hot, Hot, Hot

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported that 2012 was the warmest year on record since it started keeping records in 1895, eclipsing 1998 by 1ºF.

The 1°F difference from 1998 is an unusually large margin, considering that annual temperature records are typically broken by just tenths of a degree Fahrenheit. In fact, the entire range between the coldest year on record, which occurred in 1917, and the previous record warm year of 1998 was just 4.2°F.

The year consisted of the fourth-warmest winter, the warmest spring, second-warmest summer, and a warmer-than-average fall. With an average temperature that was 3.6°F above average, July became the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous U.S. The average springtime temperature in the lower 48 was so far above the 1901-2000 average – 5.2°F, to be exact – that the country set a record for the largest temperature departure for any season on record. [..]

With 34,008 daily high temperature records set or tied the year compared to just 6,664 daily record lows – a ratio of about five high temperature records for every one low temperature record – 2012 was no ordinary weather year in the U.S. It wasn’t just the high temperatures that set records, though. Overnight low temperatures were also extremely warm, and in a few cases the overnight low was so warm that it set a high temperature record, a rare feat. [..]

Not alarmed yet? Australia is not only experiencing its hottest Summer but its also on fire.

Australia Climate Change? New Colors Added To Forecast Maps To Track Potential Record Heat

Austrlia Temperature Map

Click on image to enlarge

Right now, things are pretty hot in Australia. So hot, in fact, that meteorologists Down Under have added new, never-before-used colors to temperature maps in anticipation of record-breaking heat.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology amended its interactive weather chart Tuesday, adding the colors deep purple and pink to indicate a temperature range of up to 54 degrees Celsius, or 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The previous range had capped at 50 Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

The change was based on one weather prediction model that forecasts temperatures to climb above 50 Celsius early next week.

The all-time hottest temperature recorded in Australia was 50.7 Celsius on Jan. 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

According to the current model, the forecast for next Monday will bring a “Tasmania-sized” area of heat in excess of 50 degrees to South Australia.

50ºC is 122ºF. That’s hot. Too hot.

Australian heatwave puts south-east on alert as wildfires burn out of control

by Alison Rourke, The Gusardian

Fire service issues ‘catastrophic’ warnings in New South Wales with temperatures expected to breach 45C in coming days

A record-breaking heatwave and high winds across south-eastern Australia have produced some of the worst fire conditions seen in the country, with blazes destroying thousands of hectares of land (video) and threatening properties, but – so far – sparing lives.

Emergency teams fought more than 130 fires across New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, on Tuesday, with at least 40 burning out of control. Fires also continued to burn in Tasmania, after blazes at the weekend destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of land and dozens of properties. [..]

The NSW rural fire service issued “catastrophic” fire warnings for four areas in the state – the most severe fire warning level.

“The word catastrophic is being used for good reason,” the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, said on morning television. “So it is very important that people keep themselves safe, that they listen to local authorities and local warnings. This is a very dangerous day.”

Alarmed after the NOAA report, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a new climate bill.

Sanders announced the bill a day after federal officials reported that 2012 was the hottest year on record in the lower 48 states, smashing the record set in 1998 by a full degree Fahrenheit.

The bill from Sanders would create a “transparent fee on greenhouse gas emissions from the biggest polluters,” his office said in a brief summary.

“After the hottest year on record and extreme weather disturbances such as Hurricane Sandy, we must take strong action to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and move toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” said Sanders, a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I intend to introduce legislation in the Senate to do just that.” [..]

Environmentalists are pressing President Obama to take tougher steps using his administrative powers, including establishment of first-time carbon emissions standards for existing power plants.

Sanders’ plan also aims to boost green energy development and nix tax incentives for oil companies.

Not just the US but countries around the world need to take action to curb carbon emissions. The Unites States should be taking the lead and setting the example.

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