I let Ava lead me where she wants to go, finding traces on the snow-scraped pavement where she or some acquaintance (though many are only scent-acquaintances, inhabitants of a virtual world inside Ava’s snout) has made some statement that needs to be footnoted or overwritten. It was only a week or so ago when it occurred to me how Ava’s paces, her bold and patient pissings, must have been immensely comforting to Perkus, and in a sense familiar. Ava’s a kind of broadsider herself, famous within a circle of correspondents, invisible to those who don’t care. She’s flying under the radar, not a bad trick.
"Non-authenticated email address: You must have an authenticated email address in order to post to another account"
With little publicity, Obama declared a “national emergency with respect to significant malicious cyber-enabled activities” on April 1, 2015. Under the terms of Executive Order 13694, the secretary of the treasury, in consultation with the attorney general and the secretary of state, may designate for economic sanctions, including freezing of all property and bank accounts in the United States, any person they designate as a target.
That's the message I get from Livejournal when I try to create a new entry. I had one of those free emails when I initially opened the account, but as I described in the entry here
, I got rid of it.
I don't intend to open another one.
Apparently I can still update and add to any current diary entries (private or public) that have not yet maxed out the size allotted. So I'll continue doing that.
Anyone “responsible for or complicit in, or... engaged in, directly or indirectly, cyber-enabled activities” directed or originating “from outside the United States,” whose purpose, in the judgment of these officials, would harm the US infrastructure, disrupt computer networks, cause misappropriation of funds or affect the US elections, is a potential target for US government retaliation.
But whatever the reasons Livejournal has for requiring that its users keep an email address, I think taking away the ability to post a new entry for lack of one is a bit draconian. A banner that springs up now when I log in refers to it as "access to all features":
"To gain access to all LiveJournal features you should validate your email."
Given that virtually all human interaction in economically developed countries is “cyber-enabled,” and that the World Wide Web is by definition a global entity “outside the United States,” this language is a mandate for the exercise of essentially unlimited, arbitrary power.
Kind of like, Oh, he's not dead, he's just lost access to certain features, such as breathing.
The text of the executive order, as posted on the White House web site, contains vague, sweeping language that has ominous implications for the democratic rights of the American people. Any political activist opposed to the official two-party system could face sanctions or even criminal charges for actions “with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions."
Is uncovering internal documents of the Democratic National Committee or the emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta “interfering with or undermining election processes or institutions”? Evidently so, since that is the principal crime alleged against the Russian government.
All of that said, over the years I do believe I've said my piece.
What about making those documents widely available, as the WikiLeaks organization did? What about publishing excerpts or the full texts of those documents, as virtually the entire American media did? Where do “interfering with or undermining” end and freedom of speech and freedom of the press begin? Obama’s executive order makes no distinction.
In many instances, said and said and said!
The corporate-controlled media, ever compliant with the dictates of the US military-intelligence apparatus, has made no challenge to the legality or constitutionality of Obama’s order. It has not criticized [but embraced] the refusal of the White House to provide a single fact to substantiate its claims of Russian hacking directed against the Democrats.
Instead, the presumption of Russian guilt is taken up by the entire corporate media in the United States to pummel public opinion with the necessity for unspecified retaliatory action against Moscow and prepare the political climate for direct military conflict with Russia, whether in the Middle East, Ukraine or Eastern Europe. -Obama escalates anti-Russian campaign with new sanctions and threats
I do appreciate the chance to write, goodbye diary, it's been real.
-gregYesterday Ava and I went out walking, and she tugged me to an unfamiliar block, Ninety-fourth Street, beyond First Avenue, almost to York. There we discovered a street corner where a flock of gray-jacketed, white-bellied birds were scattered like jimmies over a mound of snow, a mound some custodian must have heaped up in the process of clearing the gated courtyard where it lay—a church courtyard, when I looked up to see. The birds pecked at seed strewn over the icy heap, until Ava, uncharacteristically, and despite the heavy black iron that divided them, made a leash-snapping charge and scattered the birds to the sky. It was as if she wanted them in the air. Only after they found the altitude they liked, that which made them feel safe or free or whatever it was birds found in their places in the sky, and began wheeling, passing between buildings and repeatedly in and out of view, did I judge the shape of the church’s spire and knew that these were my birds, that we stood at the foot of my tower.
Badiou has acknowledged, with a frankness that is worthy of respect, that no alternative has been discovered to take the place of the rejected orthodox Marxism.
They can feel, but they do not necessarily understand. -Meryl Streep, Donald Trump and the Golden Globes
In an essay of confession that bears the title, “Our Contemporary Impotence,” Badiou writes: "I think that what we are experiencing today is… that the majority of the political categories movement activists are trying to use to think and transform our current situations are, as they now stand, largely inoperative." -Philosophy and Politics in an Age of War and RevolutionWe watched a while and then headed home, and when we had ridden up in the elevator and gone inside and I’d freed Ava from the leash I went to my window for the first time in two months to see if they were still aloft, to catch a bit of the aerial pandemonium ballet it now seemed to me I’d been heedlessly neglecting. The birds were there, still satisfyingly continuous in their asymmetries and divergences, as if I’d been abiding with them through all these weeks and days. But I noticed something else as well. The Dorffl Tower had shifted a little to the right, shaving another margin from my window’s view. I don’t know how this can be possible, but then again there are so many things that escape me. It’s still a view I can live with. I only hope it doesn’t get any smaller.
-last chapter, Chronic CityUpdate Saturday January 14th, 2017New York City has increasingly become a playground for the super-rich and the wealthiest layers of the middle class. The construction of luxury apartments that cost thousands of dollars a month to rent and millions to purchase is proceeding at a heated pace.
Setting the pretext for continuous US provocation. The NYPD presence comes on top of a security review by the DHS and months of a media campaign led by the city’s two tabloids, the Daily News and the New York Post, the latter of which routinely refers to the unhoused homeless people as “bums.” Both newspapers speak for the rich and the upper middle class that would like to see the homeless locked up and out of sight.
The homeless will also be subject to increased state surveillance. As the DHS notes, it has “revamped the surveillance system and infrastructure at the 30th Street Men’s Shelter through the installation of more than 300 surveillance cameras, all of which are now fully operational.” While the social crisis itself has made shelters dangerous places, the NYPD supervision will not seek to protect the homeless, one of the most oppressed and vulnerable segments of the population, but rather to terrorize and monitor them.
“But for the belief that he would be protected, both by fellow officers and by the department, from serious consequences, Defendant Officer Lowell Houser would not have engaged in the conduct that resulted in the shooting and death of Jose Angel Felipe Nieves.”-Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder for killing unarmed manWith nearly 1,000 people killed by police in 2016 nationally—and nine in New York City—it is a farce to claim that the city’s homeless will be safer under NYPD oversight.
-NYPD to take over security at New York City homeless sheltersCriminalizing The Poor“Trump attacked immigrants as ‘criminals, rapists, and drug dealers’ but the real criminals…are to be found in the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Border Patrol, ICE, Wall Street, and every major police department in this country.”
The attack on MSF was not a “mistake.” It was a crime. The purpose of Hickman’s inquiry will be to cover up for those responsible. -New evidence that US Army deliberately targeted hospital in KunduzThis part received the largest applause and approval from the audience.
-Hundreds attend IYSSE rallies to defend immigrant rights in New York and San Diego
Who are the real criminals
?At least 10 state legislatures are planning to vote on bills attacking the right to protest in various ways. “I’ve never seen a coordinated attack on protesters’ rights anywhere near this scale,” stated the American Civil Liberties Union’s senior staff attorney Lee Rowland to the Washington Post. “What all of these bills have in common is they may be dressed up as being about obstruction or public safety, but make no mistake about it: These are about suppressing protests with draconian penalties so that the average person would think twice before getting out on the street and making their voice heard.”
-Lawmakers push legislation seeking to criminalize protest throughout the US
Yesterday, Friday morning the 13th at 4:30am, after more than 28 months of not being arrested for illegal lodging (or for anything for that matter), I was arrested for illegal lodging and taken to jail by San Diego sheriff's deputies. After being sworn in, Sessions said he would direct his offices to end immigrant “lawlessness,” counter “an increased threat from terrorism,” and beat back an alleged growth of violent crime. He described the latter as a “dangerous permanent trend,” though data on violent crime demonstrates that it is at its lowest level in decades.
The result will be a massive increase in deportations, an increase in workplace and home raids by ICE officials and police, and the incarceration of hundreds of thousands or millions of workers for the “crime” of bringing their families to the US to escape violence or look for work. -Trump orders could affect up to 8 million immigrants as deportations beginThis is coded language for a major increase in US police powers to target the entire working class.
-Sessions sworn in as attorney general as Trump signs orders to increase police powers
It was pouring rain at the time I was arrested. It had been pouring all through the night so I was at the covered spot on C street between Front street and Union street where the San Diego County Court House crosses over C street creating a shelter over the street and the sidewalk from the rain. I have been going to this exact location when it rains for over 10 years now and have never been arrested for illegal lodging. I've been going to this spot all this past winter, starting in late October and thru to December of 2016 and into January of this year. In fact, I spent the night at the same spot earlier in the week on Tuesday January 10th.
Out of all those times I've never seen one person get arrested at this location for illegal lodging until this morning when about one hour before I get up at this spot at 5:30am the San Diego sheriffs woke me up yelling, "Wake up! San Diego sheriffs! Wake up!"
While I sat up in my sleeping bag and said, "What's going on?" I quickly put on my fleece fuzzy pullover (which I was using as a pillow) as well as my glasses. The sheriff's deputy told me to show ID. When I started to put on my fleece sweat pants (which I was also using for a pillow) I heard the female deputy indicate to the male deputy that I was getting dressed. So while I was about to put my legs into the pants the sheriff's deputy snatched them out of my hands and threw them behind him on the sidewalk yelling in my face to stand up.
So I stood up only wearing my socks, gym shorts and t-shirt under my pullover, and they instructed me to sit against the wall, telling me again to show ID. When I told them they were harassing me and I refused to "cooperate " they hand cuffed me and took me to jail.
This is the first time I've been arrested by San Diego sheriff's deputies instead of the city police. But they locked me in the same old dungeon at the county jail. This time I was put into a tiny holding cell that had a steal bench that was only 3 feet long which sat directly under a ceiling vent that was blowing cold air from when I was placed in the cell at 5:30 am until 8 pm that Friday evening.
After almost 15 hours in the same cell with no food or drinkable water they ordered me out and took my finger prints and brought me to the booking window. It was then that I learned that I was going to be designated "B&R"--to be booked and then released. I was put into another holding cell and at 6am the folloing Saturday, this morning, I was released with a notice to appear in court at 8am February 24th.
My backpack, sleeping bag, coat, hat, twice-daily triglyceride medication, toiletries and wallet including my St. Vinny's food card, EBT card and library card have all been impounded so that when I got out on the street at 6am the only thing I had to wear were my shoes, socks, gym shorts and t-shirt under my pullover. I have no money.
The building where the deputies sent my belongings is at a facility located miles (not within walking distance) from downtown and is not open on weekends or holidays.
Since they've arrested me just before the holiday weekend I won't be able to claim my belongings until Tuesday, January 17th.
So tonight when the temperature goes down to the forecasted 53 degrees I'll be out in shorts and no jacket with no sleeping bag. That means I can't go to sleep tonight, tomorrow night or the night after.
After almost 2 and a half years of not being arrested. As if they had all along been saving it up.Update Tuesday January 17th, 2017
Of the three nights without a sleeping bag, coat etc., Saturday night was the worst. I froze. Starting at 10pm and for the next 6 hours I had to stay moving. Eventually my left leg, which has an injury, started to freeze up making it uncomfortable to move. By 4am I was at the downtown Horton Plaza Park. Between 4am and 7pm is generally the coldest part of any night. At that point I had my t-shirt pulled up to my mouth so that I could blow warm air into my shirt while breathing in through my nose. But as I was sitting in a chair with my elbows on my knees, I kept falling asleep. When I'd awake, it seemed my core body temperature was even colder than before. Eventually blowing warm air into my shirt lost its effectiveness so I got up and decided to start moving again. But just then, one of the workers at the park showed up to unlock the bathroom. The bathroom was not heated but it was a couple of degrees warmer than outside--I suppose because of the wind chill factor. Anyway, I stayed in the bathroom for nearly 3 hours. I was the only one in there. At one point I went into the stall and sat on the toilet and fell asleep for about 30 minutes. When I woke up I couldn't move my legs, the circulation had cut off.
At 7pm I headed to Burger King which opens on Sunday mornings at that time. As I mentioned, my EBT card was impounded and I had no money. Since lately I've been going to BK every morning for coffee and a value meal burrito, I was hoping one of the homeless people I usually see there in the mornings could buy me coffee with their EBT and I'd pay them back Wednesday morning. Otherwise I'd just take a seat in the dining area and try to warm up, inconspicuously.
On the walk over to BK I came across a linen sheet and a blanket lying on the sidewalk next to a pillow. Now I had come across bedding before lying on the ground but those times the blankets looked pretty used and dirty. The last thing I need is an infestation of bedbugs or worse. But this time the bedding seemed to a have a detergent scent so I gathered them both and left the pillow.
When I got to BK I was lucky to run into someone I've seen and talked to before and he used his EBT to buy me a large coffee. I felt awful asking him because EBT only gets each person a paltry amount. But when I got the coffee it was the best I've ever had and the refill was free.
Later in the morning on Sunday I went to St. Vinny's. I had taken a shower at Vinny's the previous day on Saturday by giving them my card number. Luckily I had memorized it (6 digits) because the card itself was also impounded. And when I went to lunch (both Saturday and Sunday) I was able to get a temporary card so food was not a problem.
Sunday afternoon I went to the Logan Heights branch library. On Saturday I was able to access the internet and begin these entries because luckily I could remember my library card number which has 14 digits. Unfortunately, since the deputies had also impounded my library book I couldn't get another one without a library card and some form of ID which were also impounded. That meant that on the holiday when the library was closed I had nothing to read.
Sunday evening on my way back from the library I came across a heavy, extra large hooded sweat shirt that was next to the sidewalk but not on private property. It looked like someone took it off while walking down the sidewalk, turning it inside out and tossing it on the grass. I rang the doorbell of the house it was in front of but nobody answered--which was what I was desperately hoping. I put the hooded sweatshirt on and knew right then that it was a game changer.
The pullover fuzzy that I wear is no longer fuzzy, it's matted and thin. When I got it was used and I've had it for over 5 years. The collar zipper is gummed up so you can't zip it up, but other than that this one piece of clothing seems indestructible. Nevertheless, wearing it I was already cold walking out of the library (the computer room was frigid) that evening and dreading the prospect of another night trying to stay warm--even with the bedding I found. But now, that bedding together with the hooded sweatshirt (and a piece of cardboard I came across) I had the chance of getting some sleep.
The only problem was by the time I got under the covers to go to sleep that night a major cold was kicking in. In fact, besides congestion, a sore throat and coughing, it felt like someone tried to kick in my back. That's where colds usually settle since I've been homeless. Sometimes in the right shoulder too. But this time it was all over my back, especially at the small of my back and over my kidneys. Every 15 minutes I had to roll to my other side to alleviate the pain. The temperature went down to 53 again but eventually I went into a deep sleep.
The next morning on Monday I went over to the Horton Plaza Park and the same worker who had been there Sunday morning brought me one of those large fuzzy blankets. Now I was good to go for Monday night. It still wouldn't be as warm as my sleeping bag but I'd be able to get some sleep. I was especially fortunate to get that extra blanket as that Monday night it was forecasted to go down to 49 degrees.
On Tuesday morning, today, I used the transit pass they issue to you when you're exiting the jail if you don't have any money (I didn't even have my wallet). I took the bus to Fashion Valley transit center and from there took a bus up Genesee Ave past Balboa to Mt. Etna where the Sheriff's Crime Lab is located (that's what they call it). The woman who turned my belongings over to me told me I was lucky they had already been delivered to that location. I suspect there's an implicit threat to that statement, although she seemed very nice.
The result was that later today I was able to keep my dentist's appointment I'd made back in September of 2016.
During my walking that first Saturday night I passed by the Civic Center. Apparently the police have been, for the time being anyway, allowing homeless people to lie up against the wall under the second story walkway in the Civic Center courtyard to shelter from rain. I have observed over the years (see 2011 diary entry here
) that when it comes to allowing homeless people to sleep overnight at the Civic Center, the city has had an on again off again record.
I don't know what brought about the sudden change in policy--if there was one, but I would think it's decidedly temporary. Every weekday morning streams of city workers head through the court yard on their way to their offices. And what do they see right under their noses? Or what will they be seeing soon if not already?
To answer that question, let me describe what happened at the spot where I was just arrested at C street between Front street and Union streets. As I mentioned, I've been going there for over 10 years when the forecast says rain. It used to be mostly older people who would go there to sleep over night, and I mean sleep. That's what attracted me to that area.Anarchist groups such as ANTIFA are politically reactionary. They represent demoralized sections of the middle class that are hostile to any struggle to politically educate and mobilize the working class and youth against the capitalist system. Their tactics, gratuitous violence and destruction of property, flow from and reflect their bankrupt politics.
Undercover police and paid provocateurs would act no differently at a mass demonstration than ANTIFA did Wednesday evening in Berkeley. In fact, such organizations are, by dint of their politics and the social forces they attract, magnets for police infiltration. There can be little doubt that significant numbers of the hooded anarchists who rioted in Berkeley were police agents or informants.
-Trump threatens UC Berkeley funding cut after protest against fascistic provocateur
Then in 2015, rather abruptly, a whole new set of people began spending overnight at that spot, driving out the people who wanted to sleep because these new groups would stay up all night. They acted as if they were untouchable (i.e., not arrestable). As such they began defecating on the sidewalk around the corner on Union street where the cops park their SUVs in the morning. This despite the fact that the city public bathroom on 3rd and C is just a couple of blocks away. Worse, they began defecating not just on the sidewalk, but splattering feces against the wall of the court house.While thousands of Berkeley students turned out to protest peacefully against Yiannopoulos, a reactionary provocateur who laces his speeches with Islamophobia, racism and right-wing nationalism, a minority of about 150 black-masked demonstrators organized under an amorphous coalition describing itself as ANTIFA, standing for anti-fascist, marched onto the campus and carried out acts of gratuitous violence that an overwhelming majority of the students at the protest opposed.
The ANTIFA contingent smashed windows, set fires, shot fireworks at police, assaulted the few Trump supporters in the area and vandalized local stores, buildings and ATMs.
The intervention by these hooded vandals managed to turn a mass protest into a police provocation.
-Why is the New York Times promoting the “black bloc”?
It appeared to me to be a deliberate provocation. The brothers, in short, were crazy. That’s the end of it. Does this explain anything? In fact, there are many unanswered questions surrounding the Tsarnaevs and their activities—none of them pursued by Berg, Wahlberg and company. Above all, there are the brothers’ evident connections to US intelligence agencies and anti-Russian groups in Chechnya. Tamerlan, in particular, was well known to both the CIA and FBI. In what is something of a brief moment of (private) embarrassment and frustration for the agents involved, someone mentions they “might know this guy.” The true significance of that fact, however, is essentially ignored.
And of course the cops used it as a pretext to do what they had already planned to do which has been year by year closing off from homeless people places that provide shelter out of the rain. A now notorious (national news) example were the pointy stones that were cemented into the sidewalk where the I-5 highway overpass shelters the sidewalk at Imperial ave. As usual, Berg and Wahlberg ignore the broader social forces at work in the events they dramatize, remaining instead at the tabloid level of “human interest,” which drifts into a kind of right-wing populism. They continue to celebrate the police and the military.
What I'm trying to communicate with this diary entry is one aspect of ruling establishment's policy. That's the focus of this diary entry. It's not about lack of compassion or humanity. Those things have nothing to do with what drives such sadistic class policies described above. The police and deputies themselves might be compassionate and humane in their personal lives, but the purpose of law enforcement of which they are complicit is bent on one and only one thing, to serve the interests of the ruling class no matter how sick, depraved and sadistic doing so may be.The stuff of real life is entirely absent from this film. In its place are populist mythologies about salt-of-the-earth cops and banal monologues about love conquering hate. The taste for revenge is also present. When the victim of the Tsarnaevs’ carjacking tells a cop to “Go get those m-------rs!,” one has the feeling it is the motto and mood of the entire work.
-Patriots Day: An ode to law enforcement and repression
I got lucky this weekend. I'm afraid to think of what would have happened if I hadn't found that sweatshirt and bedding. Pneumonia would be a distinct possibility. Maybe even death. I'm a year shy of 50 but I'm still pretty strong and healthy. I don't want to think about what would happen to someone else. For someone with compromised health, which there are many in the numbers of homeless people, it would be a death sentence. The growth of poverty and the increasing economic precariousness for ever-larger sections of workers and youth is not an aberration but the deliberate policy pursued by the Obama administration over the last eight years in order to funnel wealth from the bottom to the top 1 percent. The Trump administration intends to carry out this same policy, only more nakedly and with greater brutality.
The deaths of 279 homeless persons in the Portland area since 2011―when the medical examiners’ office first started recording these fatalities―underscores not only the life-and-death conditions facing the homeless on a year round-basis but makes clear the entirely predictable, and therefore preventable, nature of these latest deaths. In 2015, 88 homeless persons, the highest recorded so far, died on Portland’s streets.
-Four homeless dead in Portland, Oregon since beginning of 2017
Another, more direct--as in deadly, aspect of ruling class policy has been the number of police
killings of unarmed poor people year after year after year.Richard Gonsalves, the San Diego police officer who last year shot and killed Alfred Olango, an unarmed immigrant from Uganda, will not face criminal charges. San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced at a press conference last week that the shooting, along with five other shootings involving San Diego police officers last year, was justified. In announcing and excusing the other shootings, two of which were not caught on camera, Dumanis and others sought to minimize the public outcry over the shooting of Olango. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, only six officers have been prosecuted “in the hundreds of shootings in the county since 1980.”
-San Diego police cleared of wrongdoing in shooting death of Alfred Olango
Update Thursday January 19th, 2017
Since it was raining last night I slept in the courtyard at the Civic Center. At 4:30 am the security guard came through saying it was time to get up and kicked everybody out. It was still raining and the people around me were slow in getting up. The security guard said if people didn't move quicker, the next time the wake up call would be 4:am.
I noticed most of the people were elderly. I suspected as much since during the night it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. The younger, Smarter Set must have moved on to greener pastures.
It was a sad sight watching these older people trudge off, disappearing into the rain and darkness to who knows where because at that hour, nothing is open. The whole thing was nothing less than cruel and arbitrarily punitive.
At 5:20 am, once again during the coldest part of the night, I was at the Horton Plaza Park, hacking and coughing, sitting at one of the tables that had an umbrella when it started pouring. Of course this time the restrooms were closed. But now I was wearing my coat, sweatpants and thermal hat--not to mention my hooded sweatshirt.Update Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
This morning at the Civic Center the security guard woke us up and kicked us out at 4:00am. It rained all morning long. I asked the security guard why 4:00am and not 4:30am? He ignored the question.Update Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
Yesterday on Tuesday at about 9:30 am I went over to the downtown superior court to see if a case had been filed with regard to my arrest last January described above.
The sheriff's deputies wouldn't let me in the court house.
That was a first. The deputies manning the metal detector wouldn't allow me to bring in my backpack because it has a cable running through it. That's never prevented me before from entering the court house.
The cable frames the backpack and holds it together. I applied it a number of years ago when through wear and tear (and Sabotaggy
) it became likely that the shoulder straps of the backpack were going to separate from the rest of the backpack. As that did happen, now I attach the shoulder straps to the cable at both the top and bottom of the backpack.
Removing the cable would mean I'd have to cut it out which would destroy what's left of the backpack's structural integrity. Besides, then where would I put the cable while I was inside the court house?
So I asked to see the supervising deputy who was in charge of the metal detectors so I could get their name (C.N. Allister) and see if there were any other alternatives (she recommended I leave it on the sidewalk) and document that I had actually gone to the court house to see if my case had been filed for my court appearance.
This Tuesday morning at about 10am, using the phone lab over at St. Vinny's I was able to get through the court's Byzantine phone menu and speak to a clerk, "Serena" who informed me no case has yet been filed with regard to my arrest. Normally, at over a month since my arrest, the case would have been filed if the prosecutor intended to move forward with the case. That's what I've been told in the past by the clerks in department one with regard to my other arrests for illegal lodging.
But as per "Serena" (who is not one of the clerks in department one) the case can be filed up until February 24th (the date on the ticket) and if I don't show up I will incur an FTA (failure to appear) and a bench warrant will be issued for my arrest. As per Serena, if that happens and I turn myself in at the police station (which I said I would do), I'll get another notice (ticket) to appear at the court, (which I also wouldn't be able to do without risking the loss of my belongings) creating a "vicious cycle" of FTAs.
Bench warrants are the lifeblood of the criminal justice system, they ensure an ever-growing need for armies of bureaucrats and deputies to process. (Hence the new multi-story superior court house downtown) The FTAs, as I've mentioned before in this diary, are used to deny release on OR (own recognizance) and fill jail beds until the appointed court date. Together they act in coordination, to grind and masticate the system's fodder--poor people like me.
Later on that Tuesday morning I stopped at Albertson's (as I usually do before heading to St. Vinny's) and was also told I couldn't bring my backpack with me (as described in the update here
) while I was in the store.Update Monday February 27th, 2017The US military commander stated that “the major export of Iran is actually malign influence across the region.” He said that the US military buildup against Iran was designed to “make sure we have freedom of navigation through the Straits of Hormuz, and that we deter conflict and crisis in the region, and that we advance our interest to include our interest in dealing with violent extremism of all forms.” All of these alleged aims are pretexts for continuous US provocations aimed at countering Iran’s regional influence and furthering the drive for US hegemony in the Middle East.
This morning at 8:30 am once again using the phone lab over at St. Vinny's I was able to get through the court's phone menu and speak to a clerk who told me the prosecutor filed the case (apparently) last Friday. According to unnamed US officials cited Friday by the Wall Street Journal, the proposal is expected to include “sending additional troops to Iraq and Syria” and “loosening battlefield restrictions” to “ease rules designed to minimize civilian casualties.”
Another first.As in previous US-backed offensives against Fallujah and Ramadi, Mosul faces the prospect of being reduced to rubble. It is in this city where the proposed changes in the “rules of engagement” will find their first expression in the elevated slaughter of Iraqi civilians.
-Pentagon prepares for bigger, bloodier war in Iraq and Syria
So after calling around I was able to make arrangements with someone at the San Diego's Public Defender's Office to put my backpack there while I made arrangements at the court house regarding my appearance before a judge. As it stands now, certainly a bench warrant has been issued for my arrest.
Having kept that possibility in mind (however slight I thought at the time) over the past two rainy nights I've been sleeping (and getting rained on) at my usual spot which is not sheltered.
On Saturday evening it was forecasted to rain but when I walked through the Civic Center around 8:30 pm there was not one homeless person in the sheltered part of the court yard. I took a walk over to where the court house covers B street (between Front street and Union street) because I heard that the "police where allowing homeless people to sleep there." When I got there the sidewalks on both sides were full up, like sardines. On the wall behind people sleeping was the exact same no illegal lodging sign that's on the wall at C street just one block over where I was arrested last January.
Heading back toward my usual spot I passed by where I had been arrested and there were two people sleeping there.
So I continued on and slept at my usual spot and was awoken at 1:30 am by light rain. I moved across the street under one of the sidewalk trees. Luckily it only rained lightly for a few more minutes and I stayed dry for the rest of the night--despite the forecast--until about 5:30 Sunday morning when it started pouring. Since I was under the tree my sleeping bag was not soaked when I packed it into my backpack and headed down to the Horton Plaza Park. At a little past 6:00am while I was sitting at one of the tables with an umbrella, one of the security people (as described in the Sunday February 26th, 2017 update here
) from the mall came and closed the umbrella at my table.
Last Sunday night the overnight forecast called for 50% chance for rain. Yet again, when I walked through the Civic Center around the same time as the night before I didn't see one homeless person. Also again I took a walk over to where the court house covers B street and this time there were only about 15 or so people sleeping there. And also again I passed by where I got arrested last month and this time I counted 6 people sleeping there.
Figuring there's no rhyme or reason to where you can and can't sleep in shelter overnight from the rain, once again I slept at my usual spot but this time was awoken at 12:30 am by rain. Unlike the previous night, the rate of rain seemed to be increasing instead of diminishing so I packed up my sleeping bag (which had been soaked) and again headed down to the Horton Plaza Park. This time I was able to sit at a table under an umbrella until 5:23 am when I headed over to the Burger King which opens at 5:30 am.
Before heading to the park I passed through the Civic Center and counted 9 homeless people sheltered there by the rain. When I slept at the Civic Center the previous Friday night there must have been over 60 people sheltered there along with me. Keeping in mind the (what at that time I thought was the slight) possibility there might be a warrant out for my arrest, I decided to check with the security guard whose station is in one of the offices near the entrance. But looking through the glass doors to the office I did not see her, only where she left her coat on the back of her chair. Luckily I decided not to risk sleeping there and continued on to the park.
Otherwise, it's my gut feeling the police would have rousted me and found out (or knowing) that I have an outstanding warrant.
The court system “will be a lot more vigilant in protecting its own authority and privilege in the face of such bullying” from Trump, the ISO continues. “It’s a battle, in other words, between an incompetent and very stoppable presidential force versus a pliant and quite movable judicial object.”Coyote Pérez was detained in Livingston County on February 24 and had spoken at a protest in Rochester on February 3—only three weeks before his detention. After Coyote Pérez spoke, another immigrant threatened with deportation, Dolores Bustamante, spoke to the crowd about her impending immigration hearing. Like Coyote Pérez, Bustamante is a member of the Workers’ Center of Central New York. She is also on the board of Alianza de Mujeres Campasinas.
For this reason, the ISO concludes, protests are needed “to keep up the pressure on the courts.” In fact, these institutions of the capitalist state are responsible for creating the legal framework and military/police infrastructure that will be used to deport the millions of undocumented people living in the US today.The fact that both Coyote Pérez and Bustamante, along with 22-year-old Daniela Vargas, face deportation indicates that ICE may be targeting activists for daring to speak out against xenophobic measures and attempting to improve their conditions of life. The terror this is spreading in immigrant communities appears to be deliberate.
-Protesters in Rochester, New York oppose detention of José Coyote Pérez
A genuine socialist response requires the opposite of what the ISO and SA propose. It completely rejects the entire reactionary framework of the so-called immigration “debate” between different factions of the ruling class. It insists on the unqualified right of all workers to live and work in the country of their choice, with full citizenship rights and without fear of repression or deportation. -International Socialist Organization, Socialist Alternative promote Democrats and courts as defenders of immigrants
Thing is, I don't think it's expecting too much to be able to go to a place that's sheltered on a rainy (or forecasted to be raining) night and go to sleep without having to worry about the cops waking you up in the middle of the night demanding ID.The terrorized population of Mosul—including an estimated 600,000 children—is being used as guinea pigs by the US military in preparing its forces for such operations, which it sees as inevitable given the vast social polarization created by the profit system. Such future urban battles, it is well aware, will be waged not only in war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East, but in America’s own cities.
-Pentagon exercises free rein in global military escalation
I did plan on going to court after lunch at Vinny's. But it was raining so hard all morning that I made the judgment call not to get into the food line which was outside during the downpour (which is yet another first described in the Thursday March 2nd, 2017 update here
) and instead waited until 12:15 pm when there was a brief break in the heavy rain to walk up to the Logan Heights branch library after stopping at Walmart to buy lunch. Otherwise this afternoon would have found me downtown after getting out of the court house (presuming I got out) with no place to shelter from the rain (which picked right up again) nearby.
So I plan to go to the court house tomorrow morning. Hopefully it won't be in jail clothes. Tonight's forecast is 60% chance of rain.Update Tuesday February 28, 2017
As I got out of the branch library yesterday evening at around 6:50 pm the rain was coming down in buckets. By the time I got to the Downtown Civic Center my shoes were water logged. It was still coming down hard but there were only about 15 other homeless people in the sheltered part of the courtyard. I talked with a couple of women who told me security had been through on their rounds and didn't object to people staying the night. So I slept there last night until 4:05 am when security came and told everyone to leave.
Later in the morning I entered the court house (having left my backpack at the Public Defenders' Office) and proceeded to Department One. Only now it's called the Misdemeanor Business Office. While I was sitting in the waiting area to be called I couldn't help but overhear an elderly woman who was at one of the windows speaking to a clerk. She was angry that she took the day off to come to the court house and no case had been filed. I got the impression she very much wanted her day in court. She demanded that the clerk provide her with a receipt or proof that she had shown up. It sounded like the clerk told her it would be an hour wait before she could get a receipt!The supposed “war against ISIS” has been marked by the flagrant collective punishment of the civilian populations where ISIS established influence. In the first months of 2016, most of the western Iraqi cities of Ramadi and Fallujah were reduced to rubble to “liberate” them. The same policy has guided the attack on Mosul.
I'm guessing the woman had been written some sort of bullshit ticket by a cop who thought doing so would intimidate her. (She wasn't)Above all, the political and media establishment attempt to conceal the fact that the very emergence of ISIS is the direct outcome of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, followed by the destruction of Libya and the proxy war the US and its allies sponsored in Syria.
When the clerk called my name I gave him the case number M228702 and went through a list of questions, including the new name of the department and what the direct phone number is. (The phone hours are limited to weekdays between 8:30 am and 11:30 am) He told me there is no direct number, you have to go through the court's main number and phone menu where you get some random clerk who doesn't work in his department.
But the first question I asked was when the case had been filed. As I described above, over the phone on Wednesday February 22nd Serena had told me it had not been filed.
When he answered "February 17th" I was surprised. Then, before I could even ask another question or the next question on my list he said, "No warrant had been issued." I was more surprised. I asked, are you sure? When he said "Yes" he sounded more surprised than me.
My gut tells me that what Serena had told me was completely accurate.
Normally at that point the clerk would have filled out a slip of paper for me to go right into department two (the first court room), hand it to the bailiff and then sit and wait for my case to be called. Instead, the clerk gives me the slip of paper with the date March 16th written on it for me to return to the court house and go to court then
.A feature of American media coverage on the weekend was the paucity of commentary on the air strike and broader humanitarian catastrophe in Mosul, compared with the immense attention paid to the atrocity committed in London by a lone British-born extremist.
Barely months ago, every report of civilian casualties caused by the Russian and Syrian government assault on the US-backed rebel forces in the city of Aleppo was declared a war crime and accompanied by demands for an immediate ceasefire. In Mosul, even greater civilian deaths are dismissed as “unfortunate” and no reason to slow, let alone stop, the offensive.
-The massacre in Mosul
That's yet another first.The report by the human rights group, which chronicles bloody incidents that took place in eastern Mosul during the end of 2016 and the beginning of this year, has been released amid mounting evidence that the Pentagon carried out one of its worst atrocities in decades in the March 17 bombing of the Jadida neighborhood in the densely populated western sector of the city.
“Evidence gathered on the ground in East Mosul points to an alarming pattern of US-led coalition airstrikes which have destroyed whole houses with entire families inside,” reports Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera following field investigations in the war-ravaged city. “We were all huddled in one room at the back of the house, 18 of us, three families. But when the house next door was bombed, it collapsed on us, precisely over the room we were sheltering in. My son Yusef, nine, and my daughter Shahad, three, were killed, together with my brother Mahmoud, his wife Manaya and their nine-year-old son Aws, and my niece Hanan. She was cradling her five-month-old daughter, who survived, thank God.”
When I retuned to the Public Defenders' Office to pick up my backpack I made arrangements to do the same thing all over on the 16th.“We probably had a role in those casualties,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top US commander in Iraq and Syria, acknowledged to Pentagon reporters Tuesday. At the same time, however, Townsend suggested that the “the enemy had a hand in this,” alleging that there was no reason for civilians to have congregated inside buildings targeted by US warplanes other than their being exploited as “human shields.”
This attempted alibi is contradicted by multiple reports from survivors of the bombing raid, who said that entire families, terrorized by US bombs as well as mortar attacks by Iraqi government forces, had huddled in basements of homes in the neighborhood. Indeed, before launching the offensive last fall, the US-backed Iraqi military dropped leaflets on Mosul, a city of 1.8 million people, urging residents to “shelter in place” rather than flee to safety.
Even if the Islamist fighters showed indifference to human life, this did not justify the indiscriminate air strikes launched by US warplanes, the human rights group [Amnesty International] said. It also pointed out that the US-backed Iraqi military is setting up its own firing positions in and around civilian homes, exposing them to return fire from ISIS forces.
-US accused of war crimes in air strikes on Iraqi city of Mosul
from directly above-Update Thursday, March 16th, 2017Nor for that matter have the changed “rules of engagement” enacted by the Pentagon under the Trump administration elicited any protest from its ostensible political opponents in the Democratic Party.
“Yeah well, we’re not going to be doing that—Thank You!”This is because, as the Amnesty report documents, the carnage in Mosul was already well under way before Barack Obama left the White House. The US escalation in Iraq and Syria enjoys bipartisan support.
-US accused of war crimes in air strikes on Iraqi city of Mosul
That’s the second thing the supervisor had said to me at 8:15 am this morning at the office of the San Diego public defender when I stopped to leave my backpack and head to court. It was in response to my saying to her, “You understand that I’ve made arrangements with the receptionist here who said I could leave my backpack at this office on this date while I went to court.”
The first response to that statement had been, “Who?” The way she said sounded like I had been talking about some kind of ghost receptionist. I looked at the chair where last time the young women I had spoken with had been sitting. But this time the chair was filled with an elderly man, dressed in casual attire, who looked like a retiree filling in temporarily while someone was in the bathroom or break area.
I had a feeling something like this was going to happen. This was especially so earlier in the morning when I arrived at the door to the public defender’s office at 7:45 am. I had just stepped off the elevator on their floor when a woman who I recognized from my last visit was opening the door to the office. She didn’t seem to recognize me from last time so I explained why I was there.
At that moment, reading her face and her body language (she had opened the door and was standing, facing me in the threshold, her body wedged between the door jamb and the door held tightly against her side so that no view could be seen past her into the office) I got the feeling I would not be going to court.
At that time she told me the office was not open yet and to try back at 8:30 am. Then, as I walked toward the elevator she told me, still wedged in the doorway, 8:00 am. I went down to the building’s lobby and waited until 8:15 am and returned then.
When I initially spoke to the (now ghost) receptionist over the phone (on Monday February 27th) and told her what I wanted to do, she had said to me, “Hold on while I see if that would be ok”. Presumably she would have spoken with her supervisor. At the very least, the women seated next to her at the reception desk (whom I noticed on my visit Tuesday February 28th), and with whom I spoke with this morning at 7:45 am, would know something. But by 8:15 am when I returned, she had disappeared too. (Another ghost??)
Anyway, I left their office with my backpack and didn’t appear in court.
This latest development would seem to suggest the reason why I wasn’t allowed to just go into court last time (on Tuesday February 28th) and instead was given a new date to return. So now, the next time they arrest me, they can do the same thing all over (issue a ticket for an appearance before the court) or keep me in jail and try to see if they can convince a judge to deny me OR (for the reasons mentioned above). This is how they do it--churn the fodder to make the money.The budget proposes to increase spending on the military and homeland security by nearly $60 billion, while slashing spending on the environment and social programs. There is also a proposed $2.6 billion in funding for building a wall along the southwest US border—only a fraction of the estimated $25 billion cost of this mad and inhuman project.
-Trump budget to fund wider wars by slashing domestic spending
Likely, I’m not only being targeted simply as a poor person (in this case homeless) but also individually for daring to speak out.Earlier in the week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer declared that the administration had taken “the shackles off” of ICE and Border Patrol agents with the issuing of new rules of engagement that essentially target every undocumented immigrant living in the US for apprehension and deportation.
After the hearing, Rubio expanded on the theme, telling reporters that Russian operatives “use things like Ferguson, like Occupy Wall Street, legitimate movements in America ... but then they try amplify on that and exacerbate it in the hopes of then being able to report back to the world and their own people that America’s a disaster. It’s not new, but they now have the Internet and technology that they can use to rapidly spread exaggerated news and sometimes false news in a way that furthers their aims.”Incidents taking place within days of the new enforcement memos have graphically exposed the police state methods that are being unleashed first upon immigrant workers and being readied for attacks on the working class as whole.
Such comments point to the real danger that any upsurge of social struggles in the United States, any challenge by the working class to the policies of Wall Street and American imperialism, will be branded the work of “Russian agents.” -Senate hearing sets stage to escalate bipartisan campaign against RussiaIn other words, anyone exercising his or her constitutional rights can expect illegal detention and abuse.
-The assault on immigrants and the specter of a US police state
The line promoted by the political reactionaries speaking at the hearing is that mass political and social discontent is largely attributable to the malevolent actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. -Senate committee hearing blames Russian “information warfare” for social discontent in the US
That, in addition to being homeless or an immigrant, or hiding in your basement "sheltering" from bombs, is also a “crime”. The very first scene portrays a brutal massacre of poor people gathering dead wood in a forest, a punishable offence according to the law of that time. An article by Marx from the Rheinische Zeitung is quoted: “The people sees the punishment, but it does not see the crime. And because it sees no crime where there is punishment, you should fear it, because it will take revenge.”
-Raoul Peck’s The Young Karl Marx
Trump was able to tap into deep social anger. Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other so-called Rust Belt states have been ravaged by plant closings and mass layoffs and are at the center of the social crisis that has led to declining life expectancy and rising suicide.
The victory of Trump is a historic debacle not only for the Democratic Party, but also for the trade union bureaucracy. The industrial states that were critical to the Republican sweep are those that have been most devastated by the betrayals carried out by the United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers, the United Mine Workers and the AFL-CIO. Their decades-long alliance with the Democratic Party and suppression of the class struggle turned former auto, steel and mining centers into economic wastelands.
To the extent that there is content to the overtures by Sanders and Warren to work with the Trump administration, supposedly to improve the lot of workers, it is agreement with Trump’s program of economic nationalism and trade war, with which the trade union bureaucracy has also publicly solidarized itself. This is a reactionary policy to pit American workers against workers in other countries and line them up behind their “own” bosses. -As anti-Trump protests spread, Democrats scramble to contain opposition
When the racist and pseudo-populist demagogue George Wallace won the Michigan Democratic primary in 1972, the Workers League and the Bulletin, the forerunners of the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site, explained that this dangerous development was the outcome of the UAW’s bankrupt political alliance with the Democratic Party. The union’s role in maintaining the stranglehold of this big business party over the working class, we stressed, created the conditions in which workers facing attacks on their jobs and living standards could be lined up, on the basis of economic nationalism, behind the most reactionary representatives of the ruling class.
It did not take long for the executives that run the US trade unions to offer their loyal services to President-elect Donald Trump. While millions of workers and young people are disgusted and angered over the election of the ultra-right billionaire, the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers (UAW) issued statements Thursday cozying up to Trump and praising his economic nationalism and protectionist trade policies. -US unions praise Trump and his “America-First” nationalism
Nearly 45 years later, under conditions of a far more advanced crisis of American and world capitalism and a far greater intensity of attacks on the working class, this danger is finding malevolent expression in the coming to power of a government of the far-right. -Race, class and the election of Trump
The first African-American president has nothing to say about his successor filling one of the two leading positions on his staff with a white supremacist!
The announcement by President-elect Donald Trump that he is appointing Breitbart News head Stephen Bannon as his “chief strategist,” and the absence of any significant opposition from the Democratic Party, has vast political significance. A man with direct ties to fascist, racist and white supremacist organizations will be the right-hand man of the president, with immense power to determine government policy. -Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon: A new stage in the crisis of American democracy
This was so remarkable and pronounced that at one point ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz asked, with a note of surprise in her voice, “Is there anything that concerns you about a Trump administration?”
Getting to the crux of the matter, the newspaper’s publisher declared that “we also approach the incoming Trump administration without bias.” No one with any courage or principle would or could respond to this foul, illegitimate president-elect, the loser in the popular vote, who won the ballots of barely a quarter of eligible voters, “without bias.” -New York Times apologizes for coverage of presidential election
Obama could [at the very least!] have suggested that, given Trump’s losing the popular vote [possibley more than 2 million votes! ], he lacked a genuine mandate from the voters and should proceed cautiously in implementing his policies, and only after taking into consideration the views of those who voted against him. He did nothing of the kind.That Trump was able to exploit these conditions is above all an indictment of the Democratic Party, which is indifferent and hostile to the social concerns of masses of working people.
-Jerry White speaks on Trump's electoral victory
The word “prostration” doesn’t do justice to the collapse of any opposition by the Democratic Party to the ultra-right takeover of the US government, which next January will include not only the White House and both houses of Congress, but the Supreme Court as well, once Trump nominates and the Republican Senate confirms an ultra-right successor to the late and unlamented Antonin Scalia. -Obama defends Trump at White House press conference
This party of big business, from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, is a thousand times more fearful of a mass movement of the working class against capitalism than it is of Trump’s ultra-right agenda. -Republican Congress, Trump plan assault on Medicare
Their “anybody but Trump” boils down, in its essence, to “anything but socialism.” -Trump and the Democratic PartyEconomic Pain & AngerOn the basis of the so-called “individual mandate,” which requires all those not covered by employer-sponsored plans or government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to purchase health coverage from private insurance companies, Obamacare has established a model whereby each individual “consumer” is placed at the mercy of gigantic insurance companies, which are virtually unrestricted in setting fees and conditions.
-Obamacare: The reality hits home
The Obama administration funneled trillions of dollars into Wall Street via quantitative easing as it spearheaded the assault on the working class with the bailout of the auto industry in 2009, which slashed the wages of new hires in half, and backed the bankruptcy of Detroit in 2013, which clawed back benefits from retired city workers.
Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, epitomizes a corrupt status quo that is totally identified with Wall Street and the military-intelligence establishment.
The significant loss of manufacturing work over the last period, combined with declining or stagnating wages, found its reflection in the election of Republican Donald Trump as president in November and the significant collapse in the vote for the Democratic Party, particularly in the Midwest.
Not one of the social problems that afflict the great majority of Americans is addressed in her election program.
During the campaign, Trump appealed to the anger of workers in the so-called Rust Belt states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as throughout the coal mining regions of Appalachia. -November jobs report highlights impact of Obama’s eight-year assault on the working class
These include declining living standards, the rising cost of health care, the absence of job security, and, for millions of young people, staggering levels of student debt. -Philosophy and Politics in an Age of War and Revolution
Addressing Sanders, a retired toolmaker said, “For the people I know it was either Trump or you, that’s from a grassroots point of view. They liked Trump or Bernie because they talked to the people. Everybody else was talking hogwash, they were talking over us.” -“Sanders in Trump Country”: Vermont senator peddles his own brand of economic nationalism
For the working class, objective reality has been saying one thing, and the ruling class--including the Democratic Party, privileged and wealthier layers of the middle class and people close to the trade union bureaucracy, have been busy saying another.Obama’s signature domestic program, the Affordable Care Act, was an assault on health care packaged as a reform. In the final weeks of the election, millions of workers discovered that they are facing double-digit increases in health care costs.
Darlene, a health care worker, said, “The rise in health care insurance is not fair for the working class. We’re busting our butts and everything is going up except our wages.
Despite the official unemployment rate returning to pre-2008 levels, [having taken the entire eight years of the Obama administration where the decline was due largely to workers dropping out of the workforce] the labor force participation rate [62.7] remains well below what is was when Obama took office in January 2009. [Meanwhile, as there has been a negligible growth in wages] The value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased by 140 percent since Obama took the oath of office in January 2009. -November jobs report highlights impact of Obama’s eight-year assault on the working class
The stock market keeps going up but it doesn’t help us.”This was likely far more important in affecting the outcome of the election than the actions of FBI director James Comey in reviving the Clinton email scandal.
Asked about the endless wars being pursued by the US around the world, Darlene said, “What’s it for? Instead of spending trillions on war, what about helping the homeless, the children or the vets who are living under bridges? Don’t people need that more than nuclear war?” -SEP candidates speak with voters at the polls in MichiganClinton waged her campaign on the lowest and most reactionary level. She combined claims that Trump was an agent of Putin—aimed at creating the framework for aggression against Russia—with denunciations of the working class as racist and “privileged.”
-Trump’s victory and the debacle of American democracy
The main issue, [Obama] asserted, was Clinton’s greater fitness to be “commander in chief.” -Obama makes election eve appeal to students and workers at University of Michigan
At this point in time, the working class has been looking primarily for a president to stop the pain--to discontinue anti-working class policies. Workers were not looking for another commander in chief to continue escalating imperialist aggression and violence against the population of the world including attacks on the working class at home. “The attempts to view the election as the product of ‘white supremacy’ or the ‘white working class’ are dispelled by the actual breakdown of the vote.
Another indication that Trump was seen as the “change” candidate against the status quo is the fact that, of the 18 percent of voters who said they disliked both candidates, Trump won 49 percent to Clinton’s 29 percent.
It must not be forgotten that earlier this year, millions of Americans responded enthusiastically to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, who was popularly identified as a socialist. After Sanders abandoned his campaign and shifted his support to Clinton, many of his supporters looked to Trump as the only alternative to the status quo. But that does not mean they want a fascistic government. -Philosophy and Politics in an Age of War and RevolutionThis identity-based narrative has its base in the upper-middle class, which is shown by the shift among wealthy voters toward the Democrats and away from the Republicans.”
-David North addresses packed meeting in San Diego on the election of Donald Trump
The affluent and rich voted for Clinton by a much broader margin than they had voted for the Democratic candidate in 2012. Among those with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000, Clinton benefited from a 9-point Democratic swing. Voters with family incomes above $250,000 swung toward Clinton by 11 percentage points. The number of Democratic voters amongst the wealthiest voting block increased from 2.16 million in 2012 to 3.46 million in 2016—a jump of 60 percent. -The myth of the reactionary white working class
In Trump they'll get neither a stop to the anti-working class policies:The attack on Medicare will be a centerpiece of the drive by the Trump administration to destroy all that remains of the social reforms of the past century. Trump is not the initiator of this class war against working people. It has been underway for decades, beginning in earnest with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and continuing under every succeeding administration, including the eight-year tenures of Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Trump has picked Wall Street banker Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary and anti-Medicare zealot Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services. -Trump forms a Wall Street government to attack health care and workers’ rightsTrump’s victory, however, with its shift to “fortress America” nationalism, signals a sharp escalation of this class war policy.
Even more revealing than Trump’s threat to criminalize political dissent is his offhand reference to stripping people of their US citizenship, which he bizarrely equated to a “year in jail.” -US president-elect says flag burners should be stripped of their citizenshipThe ferocity of the coming attacks on the basic social needs of the working class—health care, education, decent-paying jobs, pensions—is prefigured in the gang of billionaire parasites being assembled by Trump to staff his cabinet, virtually all of whom have made their fortunes by savaging workers’ living standards and attacking social programs.
While the Trump administration is assembling an ultra-right cadre to carry out the dismantling of economic and environmental regulations, halt enforcement of civil rights, voting rights and restraints on police brutality, slash taxes for the wealthy, and pour trillions into building up the military-intelligence apparatus, Obama preaches complacency. -Obama defends Trump at White House press conference
US stock indexes reached record highs again on Wednesday on expectations that the policies of the incoming Trump administration, based on “America first” economic nationalism, the removal of all regulations restricting corporate profit-making, and huge business tax cuts, will provide a major boost to the bottom lines of banks and corporations. -The 19,000 Dow: Markets soar on prospects for profiteering under Trump
Trump’s closest allies include billionaire asset stripper Wilbur Ross who destroyed the jobs and pensions of thousands of steelworkers, auto parts workers and coal miners, as he bought and “flipped” entire industries. Another is Carl Icahn, the corporate raider who did the same to airline workers and Trump’s casino workers, and left Trump’s post-election celebration to invest a billion dollars to buy up stocks as the market plunged, only to make a bundle as its shot back up. -US unions praise Trump and his “America-First” nationalismBillionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for secretary of education, is a leading proponent of charter schools and vouchers and vehement enemy of teachers and public education.
-Republican Congress, Trump plan assault on Medicare
Nor a stop to the US military-intelligence
The claim that Trump will do anything to benefit working people is a fraud.
Both Trump and Sanders are nationalists who rail against China and other countries for “stealing our jobs.” Both pit American workers against immigrants and blame the latter for bringing down wages. Both speak in a vaguely oppositional manner about living standards, but both have nothing to say in opposition to the capitalist system or the American war machine. On this basis, Sanders holds out hope that Trump might be “serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families.” -Bernie Sanders declares willingness to “work with Trump”
He is committed to a right-wing policy of corporate tax cuts, deregulation and slashing wages.
In a speech Friday to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, meeting in Washington, Warren detailed possible points of agreement with the new Republican administration, particularly in opposing trade agreements and promoting economic nationalism. -From “political revolution” to collaboration: Sanders and Warren pledge to work with Trump
These anti-working class policies, however, are entirely compatible with the role of the unions themselves in enforcing cuts on the workers they claim to represent. -US unions praise Trump and his “America-First” nationalism
Where is the campaign of economic nationalism leading? What would be the consequences of a return to isolated national economies? The tortured and bloody history of the twentieth century provides the answer. -Economic nationalism, war and the fight for international socialism
For the working class, no capitalist president or party is going to "fix
" anything.What is being assembled in the ongoing sessions at New York City’s Trump Towers is a government of class war, comprised of billionaires and generals. It is turning to the military as it prepares to implement policies of social reaction at home and war abroad, and to confront the massive popular opposition that these policies will provoke from within the working class and the youth.
-A Trump junta?
Police officers increasingly resort to deadly force all over the country for minor incidents. This year alone over 970 people have been killed by police, according to the Guardian, and thousands are killed every year. Since the events at Ferguson, and the police murder of Michael Brown, little has changed despite mass opposition to police brutality.
His appointments are a Southern racist to run the Justice Department, an anti-Muslim bigot for national security adviser, and a congressman tied to the Koch brothers as CIA director. -Trump begins selecting ultra-right cabinet
Carson argues that his own career, including 30 years as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, demonstrates that, as he paraphrased his mother in his autobiography, “if you don’t succeed, you have only yourself to blame.” -Trump names opponent of public housing to run Housing and Urban Development
More significant is the selection of General “Mad Dog” Mattis as secretary of defense. Mattis is a fanatic anti-Islamic militarist who played a significant role in the US invasion of Afghanistan and led the brutal 2004 assault on Falluja, Iraq. Speaking of his experiences in Afghanistan, Mattis said in 2005 that “it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” -Trump outlines right-wing program of extreme nationalism at Cincinnati rallyUnder the Obama administration, the police forces have been armed to the teeth with high-grade military weapons—previously used in Iraq and Afghanistan—to crack down on anti-police protests and working class opposition to attacks on democratic rights.
-Chicago police fatally shoot 25-year-old man
No matter what they say. (And no matter what legislation they pass or the programs they implement
To the extent Sanders is prepared to oppose Trump, it is on the very narrow basis of racial and environmental politics: If Trump “pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”
By throwing his support to Clinton, the personification of the corrupt status quo, Sanders ensured that the anger and frustration over declining living standards and rising inequality that were motivating broad sections of working people would be captured by the right, ultimately ensuring the victory of Trump. -The way forward in the fight against Trump
But by pledging his support for Trump on economic issues, Sanders is paving the way for capitulation on the most basic questions of democratic rights related to issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. The very fact of Trump’s election is proof that the defense of these democratic rights cannot be entrusted to the Democratic Party, which will turn on a dime on these issues if political expediency so dictates. -Bernie Sanders declares willingness to “work with Trump”
The economic pain and suffering inflicted on workers and carried over from previous presidential administrations has only grown sharper during the Obama administration and will only continue to accumulate and intensify
into the next administration.
The Bush regime is no doubt reactionary and dangerous. However, its character does not arise from the personalities of its various representatives, but from the crisis of American and world capitalism. This crisis will not go away if the Democrats are elected. On the contrary, the situation will grow sharper, no matter which of the two big business parties comes to power. -Professor Chomsky comes in from the coldWarren outlined a thoroughly dishonest and false historical account of the past three decades in her speech.
Over the past six years the United States and Mexican governments have collectively apprehended nearly 1 million refugees fleeing to the United States from the Northern Triangle countries—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—deporting more than 800,000, including more than 40,000 children. Nearly 10 percent of the Northern Triangle countries’ total population have reportedly left the region. -Deporter-in-Chief: The legacy of ObamaIn fact, deindustrialization and the systematic assault on the working class was the response of the American ruling class to the long-term decline of American capitalism.
Decades of war, austerity and social reaction have fatally undermined democratic processes and produced a society dominated by financial parasitism and political corruption. These are the conditions that have vomited up Donald Trump, the fascistic personification of the collapse of American democracy.It has had the full support of Democrats as much as Republicans, and began under the administration of Jimmy Carter.
-Elizabeth Warren speaks at AFL-CIO meeting
This is because they defend the capitalist system, which is in mortal crisis all over the world. -The way forward in the fight against Trump
It confirms the analysis made by the World Socialist Web Site that the so-called “war on terror,” together with the militarization of the police, were never about protecting the American population from harm. Instead, these policies—implemented relentlessly through both the Bush and Obama administrations—were designed to build up the framework of a police state and abrogate democratic obstacles to authoritarian rule.
In a forthcoming autobiography, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, reportedly in the running to become Trump’s secretary of homeland security, argues that “radicalized Americans” should be treated like “terrorists” in the war on terror. This means they can be abducted on secret charges, tried in military tribunals without attorneys, held indefinitely, and presumably tortured or assassinated. -Trump to build on Obama’s antidemocratic legacy
These are tools the incoming Trump regime is now itching to deploy against any opposition to its unpopular policies. -Trump’s candidate for Homeland Security chief calls for suppression of anti-Trump protestsThe Political Independence of the Working ClassTrump's rise to power signals a drastic political realignment within the American ruling class.
-Trump’s appointment of Stephen Bannon: A new stage in the crisis of American democracy
Why is there such conformism in this crowd? Why did not one of these people reject the award or make a statement denouncing the Obama administration for its murders by drone and its policy of universal spying, its presiding over unprecedented levels of income inequality and its bailout of the banks, the answer comes naturally.
The answer lies not only in the vast wealth accumulated by these layers and their identification with the state that defends it, but also in their increasing distance from the vast majority of the population, where anger and hostility to the existing social setup is seething. -Obama awards those who “have helped make me who I am”
As Trotsky noted, “No one has yet invented a means for paralyzing the effects of the law of the class struggle.” -Professor Chomsky comes in from the cold
The petty bourgeoisie has its own language (from "political revolution" to collaboration
) which reflects its dependence on the ruling class. There is no question that the legacy of Stalinism has been a major factor in the disorientation of those petty-bourgeois theoreticians who have played a major role, directly and indirectly, in the formulation of the theoretical and political conceptions associated with both the Frankfurt School and postmodernism. The historical pessimism that constitutes a major element in their outlook is closely related to their attribution of responsibility to the working class for the consequences of the crimes committed by the Stalinist regimes.
After the utterly shameful capitulation of Syriza in Greece, and its exposure as a reactionary party representing the interests of very affluent and smugly self-satisfied sections of the Greek petty-bourgeoisie, it is impossible to deny the close connection of key elements of academic post-Marxism—however disguised with the deliberately obscure phraseology employed by the representatives of the many varieties of the Frankfurt School and postmodernism—with political agendas that are overtly hostile to the interests of the working class.
Paraphrasing Marx, the post-modernists and the adherents of the Frankfurt School advance an absurd politics not because their philosophy is absurd. Rather, the crass absurdities of their philosophy arise from their reactionary petty-bourgeois politics.
What does the post-Marxist professor propose as the alternative to Marxism? Alain Badiou has acknowledged, with a frankness that is worthy of respect, that no alternative has been discovered to take the place of the rejected orthodox Marxism. In an essay of confession that bears the title, “Our Contemporary Impotence,” Badiou writes:
"I think that what we are experiencing today is… that the majority of the political categories movement activists are trying to use to think and transform our current situations are, as they now stand, largely inoperative."
-Philosophy and Politics in an Age of War and Revolution
With each new political realignment
comes the deterioration of basic democratic principles and rights that inevitably
gets expressed by the petty bourgeoisie as deep pessimism
or outright prostration to the ultra-right. A cabal of media and finance giants wasted billions of dollars to manipulate public opinion with lies and false promises. TV audiences were subjected to an endless cycle of meaningless election coverage by networks staffed by affluent pundits who know nothing about social reality in the United States.
In the World Socialist Web Site ’s initial assessment of the show, we wrote that, “The idea of ‘revolution’ and ‘revolutionaries’ put forward by Mr. Robot is ludicrous ... In general, the series appears to have little interest, despite the references to inequality, in the conditions of wide layers of the population, much less any conception that masses of people will take part in the process of changing things. This is a ‘revolution’ carried out by (and presumably for) a layer of disgruntled computer engineers and other professionals.”
On Monday, Sanders berated his own delegates, who booed him at an event outside the convention hall, defending his endorsement by declaring, “This is the real world we live in.” -The end of the Sanders campaign: The political lessons
In arguing for a strategy based on reliance on the “least evil” wing of the establishment, Chomsky rejects one of the central political lessons of modern history: that liberalism inevitably degenerates and turns to the right, despite its misgivings, in the face of the threat posed from below, by the working class. -Professor Chomsky comes in from the cold
The creators’ conceptions have led them from outrage to pessimism. -USA Network’s Mr. Robot, Season 2: Pessimism overtakes anger, with unfortunate results
The working class also possesses its own language, one uniquely suited to expressing the objective reality of the exploited class.
“One must face life as it is. …” This is the best possible advice, although it does not immediately solve all––or perhaps any of––the problems of today’s film writers and directors.
This longtime party of American imperialism cannot be changed, reformed or “taken back.” All those advancing such a perspective are in objective political terms working to block the emergence of an independent political movement of the working class.
Many of the latter think they are facing life as it is, but their notions of reality are very limited or distorted by their social prejudices and background. Perhaps it would be better to say, “One first needs to understand life deeply, and then face it as it is. …” -Marija, Past Life, Ember: Facing life, in different ways
Politically aligned with the international working class, it represents a conscious break with all capitalist parties.
Only in this way can the working class orient itself, under conditions in which demands will be made again and again to take sides in a bourgeois faction fight that will assume ever more malignant and dangerous forms. -UK: Corbyn threatens to block Brexit and trigger general election
Instead of seeking to raise the democratic consciousness of the voters, the Greens—in a manner typical of capitalist political parties—employ reactionary arguments that are pitched toward the interests of the ruling class.
While members of the petty bourgeoisie become mere academics
, high priests
and curators of dead (not yet buried
) languages:Any political viewpoints outside of the Democratic and Republican campaigns were blacked out entirely.
The [lecture] dealt with many issues normally avoided in academic discussions on campus. [North] repeatedly traced ideological currents back to their roots in political developments and explained the motives and sensitivities of the social strata that developed the theories of postmodernism and the Frankfurt School. -Hundreds attend lecture by David North in Frankfurt, GermanyIt is entirely fitting that Donald Trump emerged from the ashes of this degrading spectacle.
-Bernie Sanders declares willingness to “work with Trump”
Committed to moral appeals
that defend the comfort and certainty
of a corrupt status quo:
With the election decided, the ruling class is shifting in the direction of economic nationalism, with substantial sections of the Democratic Party supporting the aggressive trade war measures proposed by Trump. At the same time, Trump’s agenda of war, the destruction of democratic rights, sweeping corporate tax cuts and an immense escalation of the assault on the working class has the backing of dominant sections of the ruling class and both of its political parties. -Popular vote margin against Trump hits 1.7 million
It does not seem to occur to the Greens that the result of the 2016 election is, in objective terms, the expression and outcome of a profound crisis of American society. -The political issues in the campaign for a recount in the US elections
The pressing question for workers is how
can we consciously and accurately aim the rage, anger and frustration? These political tendencies are oriented not to the working class, but to a privileged upper middle class layer that is hostile to and fears the development of an independent movement of the working class.
Obama spoke in this way at what may well be his final press conference in order to perform one last service to the American ruling elite. Recognizing that the victory of Trump means a fundamental reorientation by the ruling class, towards the prosecution of an all-out assault on working people using the most ruthless methods possible, Obama is doing his part in chloroforming popular consciousness.
The response of the Democratic Party to the election underscores a fundamental political fact: Opposition to Trump cannot be carried forward through or in association with the Democratic Party or any of its factions. -The way forward in the fight against Trump
Now, as opposition is developing against Trump, Sanders is again being called forward to corral opposition. -As anti-Trump protests spread, Democrats scramble to contain opposition
And Obama’s services are appreciated. Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway hailed the comments of leading Democrats and contrasted them to the anti-Trump protests around the country. “Folks should do what President Obama, Secretary Clinton and others are doing, frankly,” she said. “I heard Senator [Bernie] Sanders this morning, which is to support this new president-elect and his mission to unify the country and to implement his 100-day plan.” -Obama defends Trump at White House press conferenceInstead, they seek to use the justified anger of workers and youth over Trump’s victory to pressure the Democratic Party.
-Anti-Trump protests continue across US for fifth day
Key to answering that question comes down to understanding the logic of the present crisis. In the writing of his remarkable analysis of Imperialism, Lenin’s aim was to expose the logic of the [first world] war, and thereby establish the possibility of aligning the consciousness and practice of the Russian and international working class with the objective processes that were leading to revolution. The correct alignment of objective reality and the social consciousness of the working class was realized in the conquest of power by the Russian working class in October 1917.
Chomsky told an interviewer in 1995 that “Lenin was one of the greatest enemies of socialism,” who allegedly held the idea “that workers are only interested in horse-racing.” In reality, it is precisely the independent, self-conscious movement of the working class, expressed in the October 1917 revolution and the entire previous development of the socialist workers’ movement, that disturbs and enrages the petty-bourgeois professor. -Professor Chomsky comes in from the coldThe world has become more complicated than it was a century ago. But the essential task remains the same: social thought must be aligned with reality.
-Philosophy and Politics in an Age of War and Revolution
To lay bare the objective, material forces that drive both history and society and take the form of the struggle between the two fundamental social classes. In late September, the Democratic mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced a dramatic increase of the police force. Emanuel said he plans to hire nearly 1,000 police officers, detectives and supervisors over the next two years as a part of a so-called “crime-fighting” initiative. Supported by all layers of the political establishment, this is part of an aggressive campaign by the Democratic Party to ramp up the powers of the state in response to the broader social crisis.
Emanuel’s speech served as damage control, and covered over the diversion of public funds to the police and to corporate interests. Under his tenure, social polarization in Chicago has become more and more acute, as tax incentives and giveaways lure major corporations to downtown real estate, and prompt developers to pour billions into developing luxury housing within a limited downtown radius, while vast expanses of the city, particularly in the South and West side, receive pitifully small amounts of funding.
The rise of violence in Chicago is a product of the overall social crisis in the city—after decades of deindustrialization and the decimation of good-paying jobs for workers and young people. Instead of providing jobs or good education opportunities for young people, the political establishment, including figures such as Emanuel and others, see the need for greater policing to deal with social opposition to come. Indeed, CPD Superintendent Johnson recently made an appeal to activists in Black Lives Matter to join the police force instead of protesting police violence.
Or to put it more directly, to lay bare who (which of those two classes) is to blame for the ever-deepening social polarization of American society
, imperialist wars and ongoing social catastrophes.The plan was announced in a widely touted speech Emanuel delivered at Malcolm X College. In his speech, Emanuel called for more policing, blamed workers for lack of “mentorship” of youth, blamed young people for their poor choices, and blustered about new programs to mentor teenagers and provide further opportunities. It offered no accountability for the repeatedly criminal behavior of the CPD and political establishment, most recently in the cover-up of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald’s murder by the police.
-Chicago police fatally shoot 25-year-old man
The “law and order” measures are being instituted as the working class is being thrust into struggles over jobs and living standards. Following a 40 percent drop in the global price of nickel, major job cuts are underway in the mining and processing sector. -French crackdown on “youth delinquency” in New Caledonia
So that when objective necessity says it's time for the class-based capitalist system to finally go, the interests and the historic role of the working class will be impossible to ignore.In the brilliant philosophical treatise, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, written in 1908, Lenin explained that Marxism had discovered “the objective logic” of the economic laws that determine the evolution of social being. Therefore, he wrote:
The highest task of humanity is to comprehend this objective logic of economic evolution (the evolution of social life) in its general and fundamental features, so that it may be possible to adapt to it one’s social consciousness and the consciousness of the advanced classes of all capitalist countries in as definite, clear and critical a fashion as possible.
-Philosophy and Politics in an Age of War and RevolutionWorking LanguageWhat was the decisive factor in Tuesday’s election?
Get fluent.Large industrial states that have been economically devastated by plant closures and the destruction of decent-paying jobs, which voted for Obama in 2012, shifted into the Republican column and gave the election to Trump. This was largely a vote by working people, most of whom happen to be white, in protest against pro-corporate and anti-working class policies that have been continued and intensified by Obama.
The pharmaceutical industry, which has contributed to the opioid epidemic, is now hiking the price of naloxone, the treatment for opioid overdoses. -Virginia declares opioid addiction a public health emergency
The state’s most vulnerable residents will be hit with an $11 million cut in public schools and a supposed one-time reduction of $25 million to Medicaid. The order comes on top of a previous four percent across-the-board budget reduction in the previous fiscal year. There has been no mention of increasing the corporate income tax or restoring the business franchise tax by either of the big business parties.These states include Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa. Other industrial states that were formerly solidly Democratic but have in recent years become Republican, such as West Virginia and Kentucky, added to Trump’s margin of victory.
The road map for these reductions were laid out by then-Governor Joe Manchin, also a Democrat, a decade ago with the ostensible purpose of “job creation.” Ten years later, the West Virginia workforce participation rate continues to remain the lowest in the nation and there has been zero net job growth in the state. The West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy has previously estimated that the revenue lost through these tax cuts is approximately equal to the current projected shortfall.
Additionally, while imposing austerity on the state’s working class the governor and legislature last year reduced severance taxes on coal and timber companies. These taxes are traditionally charged to industries that extract or sever non-renewable resources from a region. -West Virginia governor orders $60 million in budget cuts
SEP candidate for West Virginia House of Delegates Naomi Spencer
speaks on the social crisis in Appalachia
The elections saw a massive shift in party support among the poorest and wealthiest voters. The share of votes for the Republicans amongst the most impoverished section of workers, those with family incomes under $30,000, increased by 10 percentage points from 2012. In several key Midwestern states, the swing of the poorest voters toward Trump was even larger: Wisconsin (17-point swing), Iowa (20 points), Indiana (19 points) and Pennsylvania (18 points).There is a correlation between the industrial states that flipped to Trump and the closure of auto plants under the Obama administration’s 2009 GM-Chrysler bailout. That restructuring, in addition to a 50 percent wage cut for all new-hires, included the shutdown of 14 factories and the elimination of 35,000 jobs. Seven of the closed plants were in Michigan and three were in Ohio. Wisconsin saw the closure of the Janesville GM plant.
The most significant statistic from 2016’s election is the massive drop in support for both the Democratic and Republican candidates. While uncounted votes from California may slightly alter these figures, Hillary Clinton received about ten million fewer votes than Barack Obama did eight years ago. Trump, who lost the popular vote while winning the electoral vote, received the least votes of any candidate from either party since 2000. These figures are even more striking because of a drastic increase in the population of eligible voters: 18 million since 2008.Another expression of the deep anger expressed in the Trump vote is the number of states voting for the Republican candidate that had voted for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary race, including Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Indiana and Idaho. Sanders’ shameless capitulation to Clinton, the inevitable result of his promotion of the Democratic Party, played a major role in Trump’s victory.
Far larger in number than the vote for either candidate are the 99 million eligible voters who abstained from the 2016 election or voted for a third party. This is a measure of social discontent and not of apathy. In other words, while Clinton and Trump received the vote of 26.6 and 25.9 percent of eligible voters, 43.2 percent chose neither.
Remarkably, 57 percent of voters said they would be concerned or scared by a Trump presidency, but Trump still won 14 percent of these voters. These figures indicate the depth of the hatred that exists for the political establishment.All the Midwest industrial states that shifted from the Democrats to the Republicans were targeted with double-digit premium hikes, [two weeks before the election!] including Pennsylvania’s brutal increase of 32.5 percent.
Among those who did vote, Trump received the votes of just over 27 million white men, about equal to the 27.2 million white men who voted for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012. As for women, 35.5 million voted for Clinton in 2016, a significant drop from the 37.6 million who voted for Obama in 2012. Remarkably, just 30 percent of women eligible to vote cast ballots for Clinton in 2016, compared to 47 percent who did not vote.On the other side of the ledger, the racialist interpretations are belied by the sharp fall in voter turnout in heavily African-American cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee, which sealed Clinton’s defeat.
Clinton also suffered significant losses among African-American, Latino and young voters. In 2012, Barack Obama won 16.9 million African-American votes, over 3 million more than Clinton’s 13.7 million. Just over 9 million Latinos voted for both Obama and Clinton, despite a significant increase in the Latino voting population over the past four years. Among people aged 18-29, Clinton’s 13.6 million votes is roughly 8 percent less than Obama’s 14.8 million figure from 2012, despite a similar growth in this age demographic.These facts make abundantly clear that it was economic and class issues, not race or gender, that underlay the defeat for Clinton and the Democrats.
As a percentage of votes cast, all racial groups swung toward the Republican candidate in 2016 compared to 2012. However, white voters showed the lowest swing to the Republicans (1 percentage point), compared with African-Americans (7 percentage points), Latinos (8 percentage points), and Asian-Americans (11 percentage points).
-Race, class and the election of Trump
These shifts, which occurred within the broader framework of abstention, were driven largely by economic issues. Fifty-two percent of voters said that the economy was the most important issue in the election, far above the second most important issue at 18 percent. Racial and gender issues did not register, while sixty-eight percent of voters said their financial situation was the same or worse than it was four years ago. Thirty-nine percent said they were looking for a candidate who “can bring change,” and of these, 83 percent voted for Trump. This equals roughly 40 million votes, or two thirds of Trump’s total. -The myth of the reactionary white working class
The fight against Trump must therefore be based on the fight against capitalism. That means a fight to unify working people and youth of all races and genders, in the United States and internationally, on the basis of a socialist program.
The callous and vengeful attitude of government officials toward Flint residents is more than an expression of individual corruption or malevolence. It is the essential attitude of the capitalist state, which views workers as expendable tools in the profit drive of the corporate elite. -Flint residents threatened with water shutoffs
It is not a question of opposing one individual ("We need to be building together to stop trump"), but an entire social and economic system that is based on private ownership of the levers of production and the ever-greater accumulation of wealth by the corporate and financial aristocracy. -Mass student protests against Trump election: The way forward
"That's the thing that's so amazing about Michael Berry, he just follows the logic. He doesn't respond to what's popular, doesn't respond to the guy in the $7,000 suit who's charasmatic. He purely looks at the numbers."
-The Big Short: Director Adam McKay Behind the Scenes Movie Interview"We kept talking about why doesn't our mainstream culture tell us this stuff? Why aren't we learning about this on the news, why aren't we learning about it through documentaries, why aren't we hearing people talking about it, why isn't it being discussed in debates and what are we hearing about instead?" [Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Trump’s alleged sexual transgressions, scandal-mongering, Putin etc.]
-Comment from Director Adam McKay in 'The Big Short' Roundtable: “You’re Rooting For These Guys. They’re Like Us. They’re Outsiders"Meanwhile, there is a deafening silence when it comes to the conditions that have created war, poverty, and violence in the immigrants’ home countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The tragic accident does not exist in isolation, and can be added to the ever-increasing list of immigrant and refugee atrocities for which the global capitalist powers play no small part.
-Six immigrants die in Texas police chase crashThe Architects of Catastrophe and the 2008 Financial Market Mistake“How could the ruling clique, with its innumerable mistakes, concentrate unlimited power in its hands?”
“Of every dollar made in the recession, i.e., the Obama ‘recovery’, 94 cents went to the top 1 percent of society.” -Hundreds attend IYSSE rallies to defend immigrant rights in New York and San Diego“This “mistake” from the point of view of socialism was a pure gain from the point of view of the bureaucracy."
-The Revolution Betrayed
The issue of inequality and income stratification was also a central concern in Trotsky’s analysis of the Soviet Union. A substantial portion of his The Revolution Betrayed is devoted to an examination of inequality in the USSR, and its relation to the emergence of a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. -Further observations on social inequality and the politics of the pseudo-left
The editorial denounces Putin’s “brutality,” including “bombing civilians in Syria,” while rejecting any comparison of his actions with some “terrible mistakes” made by Washington. -The New York Times indicts Trump for questioning the CIA’s moral superiority
Why doesn't our mainstream culture tell us this stuff?The effective tax rate for the super-rich is lower than the statutory marginal rate imposed on working class families. Single workers pay a tax rate of 25 percent, after payroll deductions, for income of over $36,000; for single workers who earn more than $88,000, the income tax rate rises to 39.6 percent.
Tax evasion by the super-rich has become a way of life over the past 35 years, as the tax laws have been repeatedly revised by the Democrats and Republicans working together, beginning with the bipartisan Reagan tax cuts of 1981 and followed by bipartisan agreements in 1986 and 1990, culminating in the 2001 bipartisan tax cut under George W. Bush. -Trump’s taxes: Capitalist corruption and class privilegeThe current state of affairs is the outcome of a longer process. In 1961, the high-end marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans stood at 91 percent. The liberal administrations of Democrats John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, responding to the first signs that the post-World War II global economic system was failing, reduced the tax rate of the top income bracket to 75 percent, and also cut corporate taxes from their statutory rate of 50 percent.
The assumption was that the rich and corporations would redirect this cash into investment. Instead, the tax cuts set the stage for the mergers and acquisitions wave of the late 1960s, and accelerated the outflow from the US economy of dollars that found more profitable returns overseas, exacerbating the underlying crisis of the Breton Woods system, by which the dollar was convertible to gold at the fixed rate of $35 per ounce.
The shift away from commodity production and toward parasitic financial speculation, at a certain point, went from being a policy error to a policy goal. A milepost was passed in 1979 when Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker, Democrat Jimmy Carter’s appointee, raised the Fed’s benchmark overnight bank lending rate past 20 percent, redirecting investment from basic industry to finance. ”
-America’s richest 400 households paid a 16.7 percent tax rate in 2012
To invent a new market was only a matter of finding a new asset to hock. The most obvious untapped asset in America was still the home. People with first mortgages had vast amounts of equity locked up in their houses; why shouldn't this untapped equity, too, be securitized? "The thinking in subprime," says Jacobs, "was there was this social stigma to being a second mortgage borrower and there really shouldn't be. If your credit rating was a little worse, you paid a lot more--and a lot more than you really should. If we can mass market the bonds, we can drive down the cost to borrowers. They can replace high interest rate credit card debt with lower interest rate mortgage debt. And it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy." ” -The Big Short (-8, 9)
If you look at the context in which social inequality has been on the increase consistently since the mid-1980s.
In the mid-1980s, the top 10 percent of US income earners took in 11 times more than the bottom 20 percent. This figure rose to 12.5 times in the mid-1990s, but in 2013, the US’s top 10 percent made 19 times more than the bottom 10 percent.
Subprime mortgage lending was still a trivial fraction of the U.S. credit markets--a few tens of billions in loans each year--but its existence made sense, even to Steve Eisman. "I thought it was partly a response to growing income inequality," he said. "The distribution of income in this country was skewed and becoming more skewed, and the result was that you have more subprime customers." ” -The Big Short (-9)Wealth inequality in the United States is even greater than income inequality. In the US, the top 10 percent controls 76 percent of all the wealth, while the bottom 60 percent owns just 2.5 percent. The top five percent of households in the US have about 91 times more wealth than the average household.
-OECD report: Global social inequality hits new record
"I started to look more closely at what a subprime mortgage loan was all about," Eisman said. "A subprime auto loan is in some ways honest because it's at a fixed rate. They may be charging you high fees and ripping your heart out, but at least you know it. The subprime mortgage loan was a cheat. You're basically drawing someone in by telling them, "Your're going to pay off all your other loans--your credit card debt, your auto loans--by taking this one loan. And look at the low rate!" But that low rate isn't the real rate. It's a teaser rate."” -The Big Short (-19)Marxists have long analyzed these developments and foreseen their consequences. Almost exactly 17 years ago, on December 21, 1998, in response to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the World Socialist Web Site editorial board posted a statement, “Is America drifting towards civil war?” The statement argued that the crisis in Washington arose “from an interaction of complex political, social and economic processes,” and that bourgeois democracy was “breaking down beneath the weight of accumulated and increasingly insoluble contradictions.”
Eisman's pessimism toward high finance was becoming tinged with political ideas. "That's when I started to see the social implications," he said. "If you are going to start a regulatory regime from scratch, you'd design it to protect middle- and lower-middle-income people, because the opportunity for them to get ripped off was so high. Instead what we had was a regime where those were the people who were protected the least."” -The Big Short(-18)
Responding to Clinton’s criticism that he benefited personally from the housing market collapse, [Trump] declared, “That’s called business.” -The US presidential debate and the war plans of the ruling classThe editorial board pointed, above all, to “the proletarianization of vast strata of American society, the decay in the size and economic influence of the traditional middle classes, and the growth of social inequality, reflected in the staggering disparities in the distribution of both wealth and income.” Large numbers “of white-collar, professional and middle management workers have been affected by corporate downsizing and restructuring, with their salaries, benefits and job security dramatically eroded. ”
-Social inequality and the disintegration of the American middle class
Including the role that Paul Volcker played in initiating the ruling establishment's financialization of the economy
during the Carter administration:The measures adopted by the Nixon administration in 1971-73 were intended to bolster the position of the US at the expense of its rivals. But, throughout the 1970s, the economic situation of American capitalism continued to worsen. Attempts by the Carter administration to initiate a coordinated global upturn failed, and by the end of the decade the US and world economies were experiencing stagflation--a combination of rising inflation and growing unemployment.
First, however, it is important to stress that deindustrialization and financialization are not simply impersonal economic processes. They are bound up with the class struggle. They have played a central role in the offensive of the ruling class against the social conditions and basic rights of the working class. These processes accelerated in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and sharply intensified following the Wall Street crash of September 2008. -The rape of Detroit: Deindustrialization, financialization and parasitism
The author addresses the complex problem of growing poverty with a short historical overview: “Between 1979 and 1983, Milwaukee’s manufacturing sector lost more jobs than during the Great Depression—about 56,000 of them.” He quotes University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers in a 1988 report describing the impact even then on wages: “Machinists in the old Allis-Chalmers plant earned at least $11.60 an hour; clerks in the shopping center that replaced much of the plant in 1987 earned $5.23.”In 1979, in the midst of a growing crisis, reflected in the plunge of the US dollar, a further major turn was undertaken with the appointment of Paul Volcker as head of the US Federal Reserve.
“These economic transformations—which were happening in cities across America— devastated Milwaukee’s black workers, half of whom held manufacturing jobs. When plants closed, they tended to close in the inner city, where black Milwaukeeans lived. The black poverty rate rose to 28 percent in 1980. By 1990, it climbed to 42 percent. There used to be an American Motors plant on Richards and Capitol, on the city’s predominantly black North Side. It has been replaced by Walmart … the Schlitz and Pabst breweries have been shuttered and one in two working age African-American men doesn’t have a job.”
He follows his brief history of Milwaukee with another observation that bears further examination. He says: “In the 1980s, Milwaukee was the epicenter of deindustrialization. In the 1990s, it would become ‘the epicenter of the anti-welfare crusade.’” -Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Volcker raised interest rates past 20 percent in order to cause mass unemployment and thereby drive down wages and break the strike wave. In 1982 alone, 2,700 mass layoffs resulted in 1.25 million industrial jobs lost. Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Toledo, St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the rest of the industrial heartland were shattered.The Volcker measures, based on record interest rates and the creation of the deepest recession since the Depression, were aimed at a restructuring of American capitalism to maintain its global dominance.
Volcker’s “shock therapy” and Carter’s attack on the Chrysler workers proved the opening salvos in a ruling class counteroffensive. They were followed by Ronald Reagan’s crushing of the strike of the PATCO air traffic controllers in 1981, which set a pattern that repeated throughout the 1980s, including among UAW workers in the parts plants and at heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar. All the old brutal methods of class rule were revived. Union-busting—the use of scabs, strike-breakers and violence against strikers—virtually unheard of for some 30 years, became commonplace. -The UAW and the Democratic PartyAmerica's rise to power, from the period after the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, had been based on the development of its industrial and manufacturing capacity. The Volcker measures, which destroyed whole sections of industrial capital, heralded the start of a new mode of accumulation--one based on finance capital. The beginning of this new era can be dated to 1982, when the American stock market began to climb.
-Capitalist breakdown and the revolutionary perspective of the Fourth International
For decades, financial assets were roughly equivalent in size to global gross domestic product. But the rise of financialisation, starting in the 1980s, led to a situation where, by the time of the 2008 crisis, these assets were more than 360 percent of global GDP. This ratio has only increased since then as a result of the extraordinary monetary policies—the pumping of trillions of dollars into the financial system and ultra-low and even negative interest rates—adopted by the world’s major central banks. -Deutsche Bank and the global financial crisis
Which would eventually culminate in the 2008 financial crisis that would change everying.
Under conditions where financial asset claims vastly outweigh real wealth, each section of finance capital must turn ever more viciously against its rivals in an attempt to eliminate them.The economic problems and contradictions of American capitalism, so graphically revealed in the collapse of 2008, have only increased since then.
While American banks were strengthened by the bailouts organised by the US government, the financial position of Deutsche Bank has been steadily eroded. -Deutsche Bank and the global financial crisis
For the working class in all the major economies the past eight years have been characterised by stagnant or declining real wages, endless austerity programs which have cut social conditions—accompanied by the mantra “there is no money”—and the growth of social inequality to unprecedented levels.
Under the Obama administration, more than 90 percent of income gains since the so-called “recovery” began have gone to the top one percent. Labor’s share of the GDP has fallen to the lowest level since World War II -Class struggle in US intensifies on eve of electionThis is the economic impetus for war, as US imperialism seeks to use its military might to reverse its economic decline and assert its global hegemony.
Far from bringing about economic “recovery,” the promotion of the very parasitism which led to the 2008 crash has become de facto the official policy of the world’s major financial authorities.While the connections between economic trends and political developments are never direct and immediate, but always complex, there is nonetheless a profound significance to the fact that this year, one of deepening economic malaise, both the German and Japanese governments have broken with the post-World War II geo-political framework.
While the global economy has entered a period of “secular stagnation”—a term first developed in the 1930s to characterise a period of permanent low growth—US share markets have reached record levels and quantitative easing has created a bubble in global bond markets with the price of bonds so high that around $13 trillion worth are trading at negative yields.The German ruling elite, powerful sections of the mass media, and the foreign policy establishment are conducting a campaign to assert Germany’s role not only as the dominant power within Europe, but as a world power—a return to Hitler’s agenda of the 1930s. Likewise, the right-wing nationalist government of Shinzo Abe in Japan has “reinterpreted” the country’s constitution to allow Japan to play an international military role.
At every point over the past eight years, the response of central bank and monetary authorities to continued low inflation and growth has been to double down on the QE program. The result is that, whatever their intentions may have been at the start, they are now completely beholden to the financial markets and their insatiable demands for cheap money in order to accumulate vast wealth through financial manipulation and speculation.The significance of these events, in which three of the major imperialist combatants of World War II are asserting their global role, is unmistakeable. Six years into the global economic breakdown, the major powers, facing contracting markets and stagnant or negative growth, are determined to fight for their interests by military means.
The two world wars of the 20th century arose out of the conditions produced by the intersection and intertwining of economic and political tensions. In conditions where financial parasitism, an essentially predatory mode of profit accumulation, has reached extraordinary heights, those tensions are once again on the rise. -Financial parasitism and the rising war dangerThe drive to war is accompanied by militarism at home. The ruling classes everywhere know they have no economic solution to the ongoing crisis of the profit system.
-Six years since the Wall Street crash
And if you look at the political establishment's response to that crisis (as reflected in media commentary in the wake of overwhelming opposition by the American people to the Bank Bailouts):The House of Representatives initially rejected the bailout, largely because of opposition by the right-wing of the Republican Party. This triggered a huge fall in the stock market, and a furious reaction in the ruling elite, summed up in a comment published by the Murdoch-owned Times of London under the headline “Congress is the Best [Advertisement] for Dictatorship.”
“This is dangerous,” writes Thomas Friedman, the senior foreign policy columnist for the New York Times, in a column published Wednesday. “We have House members, many of whom I suspect can’t balance their own checkbooks, rejecting a complex rescue package because some voters, whom I fear also don’t understand, swamped them with phone calls. I appreciate the popular anger against Wall Street, but you can’t deal with this crisis this way."
Orr answered by saying that ordinary people simply didn’t understand the complicated and difficult work consulting firms like Jones Day were doing. Then he blamed the people of Detroit for creating the crisis. -Emergency manager outlines scorched earth policy on Detroit talk showIn short, the opposition of the majority of the American people cannot be allowed to stand in the way of a “complex rescue package” designed by “experts” like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Goldman Sachs’s former CEO, for the purpose of bailing out his colleagues on Wall Street and rescuing the fat portfolios of individuals like Friedman.
“The most flattering reading of the turmoil in Congress this week has been that this is democracy in action,” wrote columnist Camilla Cavendish Wednesday. “Personally, I have never felt more attracted to benign dictatorship. ””
-The Wall Street bailout and the threat of dictatorship
And then look at the intented results of government policy following
the 2008 crisis:
In response to the the longterm decline in the global position of American capitalism, the American ruling class responded on the one hand by promoting a wave of financial speculation, mergers and acquisitions, wage cuts, and the transfer of social wealth from the great majority of the population to its own pockets. On the other hand, it has sought to use its predominant military power to counteract the consequences of its economic decline by force. -War and the destruction of social infrastructure in AmericaFor all the talk about “economic recovery” by the White House, the real financial state of most American households is far worse than before the 2008 financial crisis and recession. As of 2013, Americans were almost 40 percent poorer than they were in 2007, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. While a large portion of the decline in household wealth is attributable to the collapse of the housing bubble, falling wages and chronic mass unemployment have played major roles.
Income inequality in the United States is substantially worse than in any other developed country. The OECD claims that one reason for this difference is that “redistribution through income taxes and cash transfers is considerably lower in the United States than in most other OECD countries." -OECD report: Global social inequality hits new recordThe yearly income of a typical US household dropped by a massive 12 percent, or $6,400, in the six years between 2007 and 2013, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest survey of consumer finances. A large share of this decline has taken place during the so-called recovery presided over by the Obama administration.
The chief economist of the World Bank published an article on January 1 pointing to a “remarkable statistical trend” in high and middle-income countries. The article noted: “Total labour income as a percentage of GDP is declining across the board and at rates rarely witnessed. From 1995 to 2015, labour income dropped from 61 percent to 57 percent of GDP in the US; from 66 percent to 54 percent in Australia; from 61 percent to 55 percent in Canada; from 77 percent to 60 percent in Japan; and from 43 percent to 34 percent in Turkey.” -The New Year stock sell-off
Since the 2008 crisis, every economic metric, from output to productive investment and the growth of wages, has consistently fallen behind the predictions of economists. But the global economy has proven exceedingly capable of doing one thing: creating and enriching billionaires. -The ruling class meets at DavosIn addition to becoming poorer, America has become much more economically polarized.
The new report documents the systematic de-funding of public schools since 2008.
Contrary to claims by the Obama administration, there has been no “recovery” in the quality of education experienced by the most vulnerable students in the state.
In the aftermath of the recession, Virginia faced a budget shortfall of more than $300 million. Lawmakers responded by tailoring the formula used to allot education funding in a way that disproportionately affected poorer school districts. As a result of this adjustment, a separate study by the Commonwealth Institute found, the poorest schools lost three times more in funding than wealthier schools. -Income and racial segregation grows in Virginia public schools
With each annual budget, districts throughout the US are slashing spending and becoming more stratified by class. For the majority of young Americans, education is becoming increasingly barebones. -Clinton and Trump committed to new attacks on public educationAccording to a separate Pew survey, for the first time in more than four decades “middle-income households” no longer constitute the majority of American society. Instead, the majority of households are either low- or high-income.
The number of full-time, year-round workers increased by 2.4 million in 2015—1.4 million men and 1 million women. Between 2014 and 2015, the real median earnings of men and women who worked full time, year round in both years increased by 1.5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
These [men and women who worked full time, year-round] comprised more than 111 million people, more than half the total number of working-age adults (aged 18 to 64).
This is far lower than the reported 5.2 percent increase in median income for all households.
How is it possible for the median household income to rise by 5.2 percent overall when the figure [1.5 percent and 2.7 percent] for workers holding full-time, year-round jobs is so much lower?
This suggests that the largest source of these gains is increased working hours for part-time workers rather than any rise in hourly pay.
Many workers who were limited to part-time work in 2014, or were unemployed entirely, went back to work or worked longer hours in 2015. This does not mean they got a raise. A minimum-wage worker who went from 15 hours of work a week in 2014 to 30 hours of work a week in 2015 would see a doubling in his or her income, a 100 percent increase, entirely from longer hours, even as their pay remained abysmally low.
As workers moved from unemployment or part-time work to full-time jobs, many of these jobs are likely in the low-wage retail and other sectors.
The Washington Post editorial sneered at Sanders because he “served up a story of beaten-down employees serving their corporate bosses ‘long hours for lower wages’.” The Census report actually suggests that “longer hours for low wages” would have been a completely precise description of the predicament facing tens of millions of American workers.
The census’s comparison of household incomes distributed across all quintiles of the population showed virtually no change from 2014 to 2015, indicating that extreme income inequality persists despite the modest increases in household median income. -Despite increase in 2015, US household income still lags behind pre-recession levels
The Current Population Survey found: “During the 4-year period from 2009 to 2012, 34.5 percent of the population had at least one spell of poverty lasting 2 or more months.” The number is staggering: about 110 million people. The official poverty line is absurdly low, set now at $24,250 for a family of four, or $11,770 for an individual. But more than one-third of all Americans fell below that abysmal marker for a significant period of time. -Further considerations on the household income report: Poverty and inequality in AmericaPew called its findings “a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point” in American society.
-The lottery and social despair in America
Early on in his work, Desmond defines the scope of the crisis by observing that during the Great Depression of the 1930s evictions in major American cities like Milwaukee were a fraction of what they are today.
“Eviction affects the old and the young, the sick and the able-bodied. But for poor women of color and their children, it has become ordinary,” Desmond relates. Among Milwaukee renters, one in five black women report having been evicted in their adult life compared to one in 12 Hispanic women and one in 15 white women.
During Desmond’s time in a trailer park on the south side of Milwaukee he met up with Pam and Ned, a white working class couple being evicted due to a job loss. They find quickly that it is not the bi-racial make up of Pam’s children that is the biggest deterrent to finding a place to live after eviction—it is that they are children.
He explains from his original research: “The presence of children in the household almost triples a tenant’s odds of receiving eviction judgment. The effect of living with children on receiving an eviction judgment was equivalent to falling four months behind in rent.” -Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Including several years of "quantitative easing".In the course of his hour-long speech, Sanders made one passing and obscure remark that was meant to reassure those in the know that they had nothing to fear from his populist demagogy. He said that his proposal to break up the banks would be “authorized under Section 121 of the Dodd-Frank Act.”
This caveat confirms that his proposal is entirely unserious. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as the Dodd-Frank Act, was enacted after the 2008 financial crisis in order to shield the major financial institutions, whose quasi-criminal speculative activity triggered the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, from any significant liability, while providing a public pretense of banking “reform.”
Among the most blatant lies in Obama’s [State of the Union] speech was the assertion, “For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works better for everybody.” Had Obama added “who counts” to the end of this sentence he would have been closer to the truth.
Snyder’s admission of the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was made the day after President Obama gave a State of the Union address in which he declared, ritualistically, that “the state of our union is strong.” He bragged, “our auto industry just had its best year ever,” as part of a “manufacturing surge” that had led the United States to “recover from the worst economic crisis in generations.”
These disasters arise from the failure and bankruptcy of the capitalist system, an outmoded and reactionary economic order that subordinates the most elemental needs of society to the enrichment of the corporate and financial aristocracy. In the 21st Century, no one should go without water, or, for that matter, a well-paying job, health care, education and affordable housing. -The Flint water crisis and the criminality of American capitalism
The conditions in Flint and Detroit reveal the reality behind the Obama administration’s claims of an “economic recovery” in America’s manufacturing cities, and the triumphal assertions by politicians and the media that the bankruptcy of Detroit—which sold off city assets to speculators and slashed the pensions of municipal workers and retirees—has brought about an economic turnaround.
The recent developments explode the claims of economic “recovery” and confirm that the destruction of decent-paying jobs, pensions and social services that followed the Wall Street crash of 2008 is not a temporary condition, but only the beginning of a permanent and escalating attack on working class living standards. For the financial aristocracy, on the other hand, the signs of slump are welcome indicators that the Federal Reserve will continue to pump trillions of dollars into the financial markets, delaying further interest rate increases and perhaps rolling back the initial increase it imposed in December. -Wall Street celebrates mounting signs of US slump
In fact, the desperate conditions in Flint and Detroit are a microcosm of the social disaster that has been imposed on the American working class by decades of deindustrialization, mass layoffs and attacks on workers’ living standards.
The euphoric response of Wall Street to economic news that spells growing distress and suffering for countless millions is a demonstration of an irreconcilable conflict of social and class interests. -Flint, Michigan: Portrait of an American cityUnder section 121 of the law, it is the Federal Reserve’s unelected Board of Governors, dominated by bankers, and not the president, that has the authority to break up companies worth more than $50 billion, and only if lesser measures are determined to be “inadequate to mitigate a threat to the financial stability of the United States.”
Large majorities of Americans, black and white, oppose cuts in Medicare, Social Security and other programs. Majorities also consider Congress a corrupt institution, whose members are “out of touch with average Americans” and represent “special interests” (i.e., the corporate elite).Since the 2008 financial crisis, the activities of the Federal Reserve have been aimed at defending and increasing the wealth of the super-rich and expanding the size and power of the biggest Wall Street banks.
Wide layers of the population oppose the endless wars in the Middle East and Central Asia and the rampant police violence. Among those aged 18 to 29 in the US, more have a favorable view of socialism than capitalism, according to the Pew Research Center, and 43 percent of those making less than $30,000 also view socialism more favorably than capitalism. Nearly three-quarters of the American people believe the country is headed in “the wrong direction.” Fifty percent think it is fair to say that neither major party is “the party of the American people.”
Where are the genuinely left-wing or socialist-minded films, which would speak to the opinions and feelings of a substantial section of the population? The answer is obvious. -The 88th Academy Awards nominations
To the extent that Obama touched in passing on the growth of social inequality, the ever greater domination of the corporate-financial elite, falling wages and rising poverty, these pervasive features of social life in America were ascribed to cosmic forces of “change” entirely disconnected from government policies in general and those pursued by his administration in particular over the past seven years. -Obama’s State of the Union address and the breakdown of American democracyIts policies, including the printing of hundreds of billions of dollars under its “quantitative easing” program and keeping benchmark interest rates near zero, have directly contributed to record profits for American corporations.
Social and economic inequality has soared as the top one percent has monopolized the overwhelming majority of income gains since 2009. Through Obama’s program of quantitative easing, trillions of dollars of virtually free money have been injected into the stock market. The implementation of Obamacare, presented as a major domestic “reform,” has involved a massive attack on health care services. -Obama, Trump and the working classSanders himself admitted as much when he accused the Federal Reserve of being “hijacked by the very bankers it is in charge of regulating” in the course of his speech. (Sanders’ feigned indignation notwithstanding, the use of the word “hijacked” to describe the domination of the US central bank by bankers is an example of the puerile phrase-mongering that is typically used to dress up a conventional bourgeois politician as a “radical.”)
-Bernie Sanders poses as an opponent of Wall Street in New York speech
The result has been the intentional creation of an economically backward society. The United States is a society in which 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the country, or nearly 200 million people. It was reported this week that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, increased his wealth in the past year alone by $10.2 billion, or about $34,000 for every one of the company’s 300,000 employees. Since 1980, the bottom half of the population has seen its income share fall from 20 percent to 12 percent, while the income share for the top one percent has risen from 12 percent to 20 percent.
-Senate committee hearing blames Russian “information warfare” for social discontent in the US
With no economic solution to the ongoing crisis of the profit system, such unprecedented levels of social inequality have paved the way for economic nationalism, the corollary of which is militarism.All those in attendance Tuesday night were well aware that the important policy decisions on both the domestic and international front are made neither by the president nor Congress, but rather by the military brass, the intelligence establishment and Wall Street.
Detroit was long an industrial center and home to a militant and combative workforce. After decades of deindustrialization, the city has borne the brunt of a counteroffensive by big business after the financial crash of 2008, aimed at stripping workers of the gains made in an earlier period. This includes Obama’s 2009 forced bankruptcy and restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler and the 2013-14 bankruptcy reorganization of the city of Detroit.
-SEP presidential candidate Jerry White campaigns at Detroit auto factory
So that when it comes to asking why?
the ptb at Goldman Sachs would allow one of their departments to not only create CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) out of garbage loans guaranteed to default and then sell them on the subprime mortgage bond market:In the process, Goldman Sachs created a security so opaque and complex that it would remain forever misunderstood by investors and rating agencies: the synthetic subprime mortgage bond-back CDO.
-The Big Short
But then go even further to purchase insurance (credit default swaps) from AIG on those same CDOs.What demanded genius was finding $20 billion in triple-B-rated bonds to launder. In the original tower of loans--the original mortgage bond--only a single, thin floor got rated triple-B. A billion dollars of crappy home loans might yield just $20 million of the crappiest triple-B tranches.
To create a billion-dollar CDO composed solely of triple-B-rated subprime mortgage bonds, you needed to lend $50 billion in cash to actual human beings. That took time and effort. A credit default swap took neither.
-The Big Short
Creating a near-replica of the very worst of the existing mortgage bonds, many times over:When Mike Burry bought a credit default swap based on a Long Beach Savings subprime-backed bond, he enabled Goldman Sachs to create another bond identical to the original in every respect but one: There were no actual home loans or home buyers. Only the gains and losses from the side bet on the bonds were real.
The original home mortgage loans on whose fate both sides were betting played no other role. In a funny way, they existed only so that their fate might be gambled upon.
-The Big Short
(-75, 76, 77)
(Here the triple-B-rated bonds in each new synthetic CDO got "processed." Where the ostensible purpose of building CDOs into layers or tranches is so that a diverse pool of mortgage bonds can redistribute the risk (spreading the jelly), under synthetic
CDOs, just as had been done with CDOs composed of subprime mortgage bonds, it now became a way to hide risk through mind-numbing complexity.)Once they had this package (a "synthetic CDO," it was called, which was the term of art for a CDO composed of nothing but credit default swaps), they'd take it over to Moody's and Standard & Poor's. Somehow, roughly 80 percent of what had been risky triple-B-rated bonds now looked like triple-A-rated bonds. The other 20 percent, bearing lower credit ratings, generally were more difficult to sell, but they could, incredibly, simply be piled up in yet another heap and reprocessed yet again, into more tripe-A-rated bonds.
-The Big Short
From which pretty much everything else that was rigged about the market would flow.The market for "synthetics" removed any constraint on the size of risk associated with subprime mortgage lending. To make a billion-dollar bet, you no longer needed to accumulate a billion dollars' worth of actual mortgage loans. All you had to do was find someone else in the market willing to take the other side of the bet.
Allowing Goldman's traders to turn around and sell the synthetic CDOs, now backed by bonds with triple-A-ratings, again and again and again.The roughly $20 billion in credit default swaps sold by AIG to Goldman Sachs meant roughly $400 million in riskless profits for Goldman Sachs. Each year. The deals lasted as long as the underlying bonds, which had an expected life of about six years, which, when you did the math, implied a profit for the Goldman trader of $2.4 billion.
-The Big Short
Risking not just the implosion of the subprime mortgage bond market but the entire global financial system.The thoroughly parasitic relationship between international finance capital and world governments, which encourages the most exploitive and hazardous forms of speculation, was summed up by one financial analyst: “If companies were not implicitly backed by the taxpayers, then managements would get very reluctant to go out after that next billion of notional on swaps. They’d look over their shoulder and say, ‘This is getting dangerous.’”
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) debt, which was incessantly cited by Orr as an example of the city’s mismanagement, was a direct product of bondholders bleeding of the “cash cow” of the DWSD. For example, hundreds of millions of dollars in “penalties” were extracted from the city in a credit default swap deal, which the bankruptcy judge Rhodes acknowledged was likely illegal, yet the perpetrators still had to be paid off. -Thousands forced to live without water in DetroitOr, as a former International Monetary Fund chief economist put it, “Goldman Sachs has become the world’s biggest hedge fund underwritten by the US government.”
-Finance capital and the Greek debt crisis
Clearly the answer has become: "Why wouldn't they?"Forty percent of the 639-page Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report, or some 240 pages, were devoted to the fraudulent and deceptive practices of Goldman Sachs. The report presented documents, emails, internal communications and other evidence showing that the largest US investment bank had sold billions of dollars in subprime mortgage-backed securities to investors, vouching for their value, even as it was betting that the investments would fail. Goldman made billions and CEO Blankfein and other top executives pocketed millions in bonuses by accelerating the collapse of the financial system.
“The people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry,” Clinton said in another speech to Goldman Sachs. -Sanders’ damning silence on Clinton’s Wall Street speeches In 2011, Michigan Senator Carl Levin had recommended that the Justice Department criminally prosecute Blankfein for his fraudulent and deceptive conduct, and the Senate subcommittee charged that he had perjured himself in testimony in 2010 regarding his bank’s role in the financial crash. Nevertheless, no charges were brought, and in 2013 Clinton was accepting upwards of $225,000 per speech from Blankfein’s firm.
What Band outlines in the memo is the real substance of capitalist politics. Bill Clinton, as a former president, was being richly rewarded for his services to the American capitalist class. -Leaked documents detail how Wall Street bought the ClintonsOnly the very naive could believe that these vast sums were paid for the speeches themselves. They were payment for services rendered to the American financial aristocracy over a protracted period.
-In secret Goldman Sachs speeches, Clinton explains why the rich should rule
Never mind the fact that none of the criminals involved went to jail --or had their firm suffer more than a financial slap on the wrist as penalty, --or that these criminals and the institutions they represent are now more wealthy and powerful than ever. Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman-Sachs executive responsible for a pandemic of foreclosures, has been tapped as Secretary of the Treasury.
-Trump names hedge fund boss as finance chairman
Or that the conditions that led to the 2008 crisis have not only not been remedied, but have in fact been exacerbated many times over to create an eventual greater catastrophe.The exploitation of the US tax system by the mega-wealthy is surpassed only by tax cheating by the firms they control. According to an October, 2015 report by the PIRG Education Fund and Citizens For Tax Justice, the vast majority of America’s Fortune 500 hid profits in offshore tax havens in 2014—especially the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. These companies, the report concludes, reported an accumulated $2.1 trillion in offshore income solely for tax avoidance purposes. Fortune 500 corporations likely have dodged $620 billion in federal income taxes on these offshore profits, the study concludes—a figure about 8 times greater than Obama’s proposed spending on education in the 2016 federal budget.
According to economists Thomas Philippon and Ariel Reshef, until the early 1980s Wall Street bankers were paid no more than other private sector professionals. Their research shows that the average Wall Street salary has gone from just under $50,000 in 1981 to over $350,000 in 2012. Today there are about two times as many “financial professionals” in the top 1 percent of US income earners as there were in 1979, and about 1 in 5 members of the richest .1 percent of Americans “work” in finance.
This has not been a socially neutral process. The growth of “complex financial products has served primarily to boost income for the firms themselves” Philippon’s research shows.”
-America’s richest 400 households paid a 16.7 percent tax rate in 2012
Given the historical context of the growth of social inequality in what has been an unfolding social counterrevolution by the ruling class over the past 45 years
, the only rational conclusion is that the 2008 market crash was allowed to happen. Far from Trump’s demagogic claims that he would “drain the swamp,” the corrupt nexus between Wall Street and Washington is tighter than ever. In many ways, the Trump administration represents the fusion between the two, with prominent members of the financial aristocracy, including three of the 500 or so US billionaires—Trump, Ross and DeVos—taking leading positions in the nation’s capital.
-Trump forms a Wall Street government to attack health care and workers’ rights
Any other conclusion suggests the same kind of preoccupation "our" mainstream culture has with subjective impressions and personal comfort that allowed the subprime crisis to remain so well hidden, from so many, for so long.American politics must now be focused exclusively on militarism and “security,” Cohen claims.
“Baberowski not only justifies violence, but speaks out in favour of the maintenance of social inequality and the creation of a police state. He had, for example, already said that it would be better that money for social programmes was “poured in the Spree”, because the state was not responsible for social welfare but for “security.” -IYSSE meeting defends Bremen University Student Union against attacks by Jörg BaberowskiIt is no longer possible to imagine Bernie Sanders as president, he asserts. “Suddenly, big banks are the least of our problems.”
“Banker bashing” was only ever an attempt [puerile phrase-mongering] to deflect public anger away from the huge bank bailouts and the impact it would have on public spending [“poured in the Spree”] on social services. -UK regulator abandons banking inquiryWhile using Sanders as a stand-in, Cohen is in fact declaring that the widespread opposition to inequality—and war—is illegitimate. Everything must be subordinated to the needs of war.
-Liberal propagandists in US agitate for total war in Syria and Iraq
“Goldman Sachs was one of those companies whose illegal activity helped destroy our economy and ruin the lives of millions of Americans.” This, [Bernie Sanders] continued, is what a “rigged economy is about.” Now that he has joined the Clinton campaign, fulfilling the task assigned him by the ruling class of diverting mass anger over social inequality into the dead end of the Democratic Party, Sanders has changed his tune. -Sanders’ damning silence on Clinton’s Wall Street speeches
-Part B continued
from Part A directly above-The last quarter century of US-instigated wars must be studied as a chain of interconnected events. The strategic logic of the US drive for global hegemony extends beyond the neocolonial operations in the Middle East and Africa. The ongoing regional wars are component elements of the rapidly escalating confrontation of the United States with Russia and China.
-A Quarter Century of War: The US Drive for Global Hegemony 1990–2016
The Indiana autoworker said, “I don’t want to die in a nuclear war, and for them World War Three is a money maker. I fear that it is going to happen. I just hope we don’t get nuked. The US is in the [South] China Sea, and they’re trying to mess with China for no reason, and that’s going to provoke World War Three.
What has changed in the wake of the Cold War and the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 is the eruption of American militarism, based on the conviction of the US ruling establishment that, with the demise of the USSR, it could freely employ its military might in a bid to assert world hegemony and reverse the global economic decline of American capitalism.
It’s the US’s stupidity of trying to control everything. That’s not being talked about in the elections.
Carter’s speech contained passages hinting at the undeniable fact that the threat of a nuclear conflagration is now greater than at any time since the height of the Cold War.
And the media is talking about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie getting divorced. But the world is hanging by a thread.
This massive US death machine, Carter insisted, provided “the bedrock of security” that has “enabled millions and millions to get up in the morning to go to school, to go to work, to live their lives, to dream their dreams and to give their children a better future.”
In reality, assuming the continuation of the present “security environment” and the continued existence of nuclear weapons, there is good reason to fear that the world will be incinerated in the lifetimes of “our children and their children.” -Pentagon chief outlines preparations for nuclear war with Russia
There are so many nuclear weapons.” -US autoworkers speak out on war, inequality and the 2016 elections
“I think it’s scary, first of all, the fact that we’re fighting and bombing seven different countries and that’s not being discussed and what’s also not being discussed is the conflicts it’s creating with China and Russia. There’s a reason for it, why those in power are hiding it, why it’s not being discussed, and it’s because they know there’s opposition to war.” -SEP holds meetings in Illinois in lead up to November 5 anti-war conferenceDisaster After Disaster After Disaster...?Nobody asks the obvious question: Are there forces in political circles and the security apparatus who knew about the planned attack and were prepared to allow it in order to advance their extreme right-wing agenda?
-Berlin terror suspect was well known to security forces
Under Trump, the ruling class is embarking on a new stage in this catastrophic project. -The Trump administration and the crisis of American capitalism
There are so many "terrible mistakes
":State Department spokesman John Kirby added menacingly, “Extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which could include attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.
[T]hese reactions raise the inevitable question of to what extent Washington was involved in the assassination, either directly or indirectly. Officials and media sources in both Russia and Turkey have voiced strong suspicion that there were direct links. Moreover, there is persuasive evidence that he carried out the killing in support of the Al Qaeda-linked militias in Syria. -New York Daily News column hails assassination of Russian ambassadorRussia will continue to send people home in body bags, and will continue to lose resources, perhaps even aircraft.”
If the terrorists were able to plan and execute such a massive, coordinated attack, it was because intelligence agencies did not use the powers they already have to prevent attacks that were carried out by Islamist terrorist forces with which they have close political ties.
At the very least, the ruling class sees such atrocities as an opportunity to rapidly implement plans prepared long in advance. -The Paris terror attacks
The ruling elites are happy to rely on Islamist terrorist groups as instruments of their foreign policy overseas, while using their operations to justify massive assaults on democratic rights at home. -New data on police foreknowledge of terrorists raise questions on Paris attackThe Syrian civil war, which is now more than five years old and has claimed the lives of close to half a million Syrians, was fomented by Washington and its allies, including by directly supporting Islamist extremists, to topple the Assad regime and install a pro-Western puppet in Damascus.
-US threatens Russia with end to cooperation in Syria as fighting rages in Aleppo
Alongside the growth of social inequality:The disintegration of American democracy through both the Bush and Obama administrations can be understood only in the context of the historical period.
The Atlantic Council, a leading US geopolitical strategy think tank, published a report on September 20 titled The Future of the Army. It presents a picture of the near future (2020-2025) as a horrifying dystopia, characterized by spiraling inequality, economic insecurity and perpetual war. “Today’s world of haves and have-nots will be greatly magnified,” it states, “with those fortunate enough to have employment and access to stunning technology living in stark contrast to the hundreds of millions struggling to survive in disrupted environments.”It is no coincidence that the Obama administration presided over a collapse of democratic institutions at the same time that it oversaw a vicious assault on wages, benefits and social programs; a massive transfer of wealth to the super-rich; and eight solid years of bloody warfare abroad.
This world “will be marked by the breakdown of order, widespread violent extremism and aggressive large states.” The world situation will be driven by “unpredicted and unpredictable events,” including the possibility of “a nuclear exchange.” Noting that “urban operations will increasingly dominate land warfare,” the Atlantic Council predicts that armies will operate “in densely packed metropolitan areas where civilian populations are a part of the battlefield.”
Finally, there must be active preparations for an intervention—or even takeover—by the military in the event of what the report calls a “breakdown of civil order”—a euphemism for the emergence of a political challenge from below to the domination of the ruling class. The Atlantic Council notes that “the large-scale disruption of civil order…would almost certainly engage much of the Army in providing extensive support to civil authorities throughout the country.”
Totally left out of this analysis, except as the object of military repression, are the American people. It never occurs to those engaged in the preparation of these policies to consult the population. It is taken for granted that it must acquiesce to a course of action that will result in death and destruction on a horrific scale. -The “major and deadly” wars to come
-Trump to build on Obama’s antidemocratic legacy
Has been the growth of the US military-intelligence apparatus.The economic crisis intersects with and intensifies geopolitical conflicts, which in 2015 brought the globe closer to world war than at any time in the past half-century. Virtually every part of the world has either become a battlefield or is assuming the character of a potential battlefield. The Middle East has been propelled into a regional civil war stoked by the imperialist powers, with Syria now the target of an intensified war drive waged under the guise of a new “war on terror.” Eastern Europe is being remilitarized as part of the US and NATO’s campaign against Russia. In East Asia, the US is staging provocations against China over the South China Sea. In Africa, US and European forces are planning operations in Libya, Cameroon, Nigeria and other countries.
-On the threshold of the New Year
Nobody should believe that the criminal cabal that runs US foreign policy will proceed with any more deliberation or caution in launching a war whose body count will be in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, than it does in plotting wars in which “mere” millions of lives are squandered. -“Godfather” Biden visits Turkey
“Hillary Clinton is the personification of the corrupt nexus between the political establishment, the military-intelligence apparatus and Wall Street” -SEP US presidential candidates denounce war drive at Humboldt University meeting in Berlin
If you look at the terrorist attacks on 911 in the context of the ruling establishement's pre-911 plans for military operations throughout the Middle East and Central Asia:
First of all, the vast surveillance began decades ago. In fact, the 9/11 attacks merely provided the occasion to put in place plans that had been prepared well in advance (and which also depended on the development of certain technologies). The very universality of the spying speaks to something systemic, to the profound fear felt by every ruling elite for its population at a time of profound economic and social crisis. -Oliver Stone’s Snowden: The NSA is “running a dragnet on the whole world”It is not an accident that these revelations have appeared overseas, rather than in the US. The ruling classes in these countries have their own economic and political interests to look after, which do not coincide, and in some cases directly clash, with the drive by the American ruling elite to seize control of oil-rich territory in Central Asia.
-US planned war in Afghanistan long before September 11
And then look at the recent wars in Afghanistan
, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen
--and with increasing frequency, Africa
(just to name a few) in the name of "The war on terror."The decision to launch a new war was taken behind the backs of the American population with no attempt to secure congressional approval. The Obama administration absurdly cited the 2001 Authorisation for Use of Military Force that approved military action against those who had planned and carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks. ISIS not only did not exist in 2001 but is now the sworn enemy of Al Qaeda.
-More airstrikes in new US war in Libya
The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the assault on democratic rights, the violations of international law, and the ever-expanding scale of violence that the Bush administration (joined most conspicuously by the governments of Britain, Australia and Canada) is planning as part of its never-to-end “War on Terror” derive their legitimacy from the claim that brooks no argument: “9/11 changed everything.” -Five years since 9/11: A political balance sheetAt every opportunity, the American political establishment cites the terrorist attacks that took place on that date as justification for military aggression abroad and the buildup of a police state at home. Immediately after the attacks, a “war on terror” was declared that continues to this day.
The “human rights” pretext foisted on the public in 2011 and the “terror” pretext being employed today are equally fraudulent. They are both designed to conceal the predatory objectives of military interventions carried out with the aim of imposing US semi-colonial hegemony over countries and regions sitting on top of vast energy resources—in Libya’s case the largest oil reserves on the entire African continent.
Those within the political establishment and the media who bother connecting the growth of ISIS in Libya to the US-NATO intervention of 2011 habitually present the matter as a sin of omission: Washington and its allies failed to follow up the bombing campaign with a “nation-building” occupation.
This is, of course, a deliberate cover-up for very real crimes that were committed. ISIS is not some accidental beneficiary of chaos in Libya. Its own growth and development were intimately bound up with the US-NATO war, in which similar Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militias were lavishly armed and funded to serve as ground troops. -Pentagon prepares another war in Libya
Official remembrances of the attacks have taken on the character of state rituals. However, the US government continues to obstruct the release to the public of factual information about the events of 9/11. -Obama administration continues to block report on Saudi financing of 9/11 attacks
All deliberately covered-up.The subject of war has been deliberately covered up in the 2016 election campaign.
By examining these events solely through the eyes of individuals who became unwillingly caught up in them, the Times magazine piece manages to completely obscure the responsibility of those who made the decisions that led to these wars and the resulting death and social devastation.This was the particular responsibility of Clinton’s main challenger, the self-styled “socialist” Bernie Sanders, who confined himself to occasionally criticizing Clinton’s vote for the Iraq War 14 years ago while supporting the ongoing and equally criminal war policies of the Obama administration in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya, and its preparations for war against Russia and China.
That those within the Bush administration who ordered an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, like those in the Obama White House who engineered first the US-NATO war for regime change in Libya in 2011, followed by the CIA-backed proxy war for regime change in Syria, are responsible for killing and maiming millions is deliberately excluded from the article. So too, it should be added, is the criminal role of the New York Times in propagandizing for these wars.
Anderson has also selected his subjects in a dishonest manner. The New York Times chose not to select the parents or children of those killed in the US wars as subjects in this series. Instead, it regurgitates the same propaganda it employed when the newspaper supported the US invasion of Iraq over a decade ago. -New York Times whitewashes US imperialism in Middle East and contemplates ethnic cleansing
-After the conventions, Democrats attack Trump from the right
As well as--and most recently, the deliberate cover-up of the failed coup attempt in Turkey.The recklessness and criminality of this policy are breathtaking. Having killed and maimed millions and wrecked entire societies in Iraq, Libya and Syria, US imperialism was prepared to do essentially the same in Turkey to further its desperate drive for regional and global hegemony.
In an August 4 editorial titled “Turkey’s new anti-Americanism,” the New York Times takes not only the government but also the people of Turkey to task for drawing the obvious and well-founded conclusion that Washington played a central role in backing the abortive July 15 coup to overthrow the country’s elected president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Shaken by a failed coup attempt, Turkey’s government and many of its citizens are desperate for someone to blame. Instead of undertaking a thorough investigation of the facts, though, they have accused the United States of complicity in the insurrection,” the Times argues, adding, “This has ignited a new wave of anti-Americanism.”
The Times treats such accusations as illogical and absurd. “It makes no sense that the United States would seek to destabilize a NATO ally whose cooperation is crucial to alliance security as well as to the fight against the Islamic State, especially when much of the region is in chaos.”
-New York Times covers up Obama administration’s role in Turkish coup
And of course the ongoing attacks on democratic rights
along with the growth of police-state forms of rule
(the Patriot Act and domestic spying, Guantanamo Bay, CIA torture) and the nullification (drone assassinations and "secret law
") of the Constitution triggered
by the September attacks.
The saturation of the airwaves and the press with images of a five-year-old child in Aleppo should be taken as a warning that Washington is preparing public opinion for a major military escalation. -“Human rights” propaganda campaign paves way for military escalation in SyriaIn a commentary published December 17 in the Washington Post, columnist David Ignatius, who has close connections with the US military-intelligence apparatus, comments on the debate within US ruling circles about the scale and timing of an escalation of the US military intervention in Iraq and Syria.After noting that President Obama has so far rejected calls to deploy substantial numbers of US ground troops against ISIS, Ignatius poses this revealing question: “What would cause Obama to change his mind and treat the war against the Islamic State as an existential crisis requiring a major US military intervention? Probably the trigger would be a big, orchestrated terrorist incident that so frightened the public that it began to prevent the normal functioning of America. At that point, Obama might decide there was no alternative to taking ownership of the Middle East mess with tens of thousands of US troops.”
Defense industry analyst Deloitte gleefully declared earlier this month that military spending is “poised for a rebound” as a result of “heightened tensions” around the world. The day after the White House gave the go-ahead for replacing the Ohio-class submarines, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reported Monday that up to a million people will lose food stamp benefits in 2016. -The US in 2016: No money for social programs, cash to burn for the militaryThese attacks become the pretext for the launching of predatory wars long planned by the imperialist powers and needing only a suitable pretext. Thus 9/11 became the launching pad for the US invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The Paris attacks have brought a French aircraft carrier into the bombing campaign in Syria along with the participation of British bombers and a substantial troop deployment by Germany.
D’Andre, a student, said, “A lot of people don’t realize that the US constitution doesn’t prohibit discrimination on class. It protects you for religious or racial reasons, but it doesn’t protect you from class discrimination… This is class war.” -Emergency meeting on the crisis in Detroit and Flint draws over one hundred workers and youthWar abroad is inevitably accompanied by repression at home, with police-military mobilizations that are carried out in the name of fighting “terrorism,” but whose real purpose is to suppress domestic antiwar sentiment and working class opposition to the austerity measures required by the deepening crisis of world capitalism. Thus the Paris attacks were followed by a savage crackdown by the French government, whose first victims were environmental protesters outside the climate summit earlier this month.
The state’s decision to punish Goodyear workers marks a profound shift in class relations in France and internationally. After nearly a decade of social austerity for workers and bank bailouts for the super-rich, during which tens of millions of workers across Europe lost their jobs, there is explosive social anger. Fearing a sudden eruption of class struggle outside the control of the union bureaucracy, along the lines of the 1968 French general strike, the ruling class is sending a signal that it intends to ruthlessly punish any and all protest. -Amid state of emergency, French workers jailed for struggle to defend jobsAccording to Ignatius, who participated in a closed-door briefing at the White House with a group of editors and columnists on December 15, the Obama administration does not view San Bernardino as providing a sufficient casus belli for a full-scale US war in Syria. Something bigger would be required.
Education is at the center of the fight for social equality. The American ruling class, drunk with profits and hell-bent on stealing everything that is not nailed down, has repudiated the democratic principle that all children, regardless of their socio-economic background, have the right to a high-quality education. While handing trillions to the financial crooks who crashed the economy in 2008, and squandering trillions more in ever-expanding wars, the Obama administration has cut Title I funds earmarked for impoverished districts like Detroit by 11 percent and reduced special education funding by 9 percent.This should be taken as a warning. There are many in the vast US intelligence apparatus with the experience and ruthlessness required to manufacture such an incident, either by permitting an ongoing terrorist plan to go forward without disruption—as was apparently the case in the 9/11 attack—or by directly organizing such an operation under a false flag. At the very least, they consider events such as the Paris and San Bernardino attacks as a political godsend.
-The US terror scare
The struggle to defend public education poses the question of who controls society’s wealth and decides how it is distributed. Under capitalism, the wealth produced by the collective labor of working people is monopolized by the super-rich, which controls the entire political system and both the Democratic and Republican parties. -The Detroit teachers’ fight to defend public education
It should be clear why
the ptb inside the US military-intelligence apparatus would allow Saudi Arabia, Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world
, to send its state supported terrorists to attack the US.Throughout the January 17 discussion, no participant dared point out the contradiction between the anti-Vietnam war position of King (who famously referred to the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”) and Sanders’s own promotion of the “war on terror.”
The attitude taken by Sanders, and every other candidate and politician, toward the questions of war and US imperialism’s role in the world is the touchstone for understanding the real character of their politics.
Most of the corporate media’s coverage of Sunday’s debate, while going on at length about verbal jousting over gun control, health care, campaign finances and other domestic issues, skipped over entirely the questions posed to the candidates on US foreign policy, the “war on terrorism” and the US intervention in Iraq and Syria.
This was no accident, as there were no confrontations to report on this front between Sanders and his opponents, Clinton and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley. None of them voiced any opposition to the global eruption of American militarism, the drone assassination program, or the successive campaigns for regime-change from Libya, to Syria to Ukraine.
The MacDill event marks a milestone in the long-term strengthening of the role of the armed forces in US political life and erosion of the constitutional principle of civilian control. -Trump appeals to the military against the press and the courtsRather than denounce US imperialism, he has fully embraced the current administration’s drive to war, arguing at the Democratic Party debate Sunday that Barack Obama was “doing the right thing” in regard to his criminal policies in the Middle East.
-Bernie Sanders mobilizes African American celebrities to help “keep hope alive”
And why it was all deliberately covered-up.At least two of the hijackers—15 out of 19 of whom were Saudi nationals—were directly aided by Omar al-Bayoumi, who was identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Saudi intelligence agent with “ties to terrorist elements.” Some hijackers received paychecks for fictitious jobs from a company affiliated with the Saudi Ministry of Defense.
Al-Bayoumi, meanwhile, worked closely with an Emir at the Saudi Defense Ministry. According to phone records obtained through a US government investigation, al-Bayoumi called Saudi government agencies 100 times between January and May of 2000. Meanwhile, three of the hijackers stayed at the same Virginia hotel as Saleh al-Hussayen, a Saudi interior ministry official, the night before the attacks. [And two of them actually lived in the home of an FBI informant.]
"Why did the US government deliberately cover up the Saudi connection after the fact, instead claiming that Afghanistan was a “state sponsor of terrorism” and that Iraq was developing “weapons of mass destruction?” -Congress overrides Obama veto of bill allowing 9/11 lawsuitsBoth the Bush and Obama administrations sought to cover up these and other facts pointing to Saudi complicity in the September 11 attacks. The involvement of the government of Saudi Arabia in the attacks—together with Israel, one of America’s key allies in the Middle East for more than half a century—was deemed too embarrassing. It would have raised too many questions about the possible foreknowledge of the attacks within any section of America’s military or intelligence apparatus.
Indeed, the documents released this year confirm that American intelligence agencies had a policy prior to September 11, 2001 of not following the activities of Saudi intelligence agents within the US, on the grounds of Saudi Arabia’s status as a major US ally. For this reason, US intelligence agencies paid little to no attention to the activities of Saudi agents like al-Bayoumi while they organized and facilitated the attacks. The possibility that this state of affairs was intentional has not been ruled out, and nobody was ever prosecuted for what amounts—if the official story is to be believed—to systemic incompetence and colossal negligence.
-Obama pledges to veto legislation allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi government
No government official has ever been held accountable for what is universally described as a catastrophic intelligence failure. After Pearl Harbor—to which 9/11 is frequently compared—admirals were fired. But not a single official of the vast US military-intelligence complex lost his job after an attack carried out by well-known terrorists, many of them under state surveillance, and two of them actually living in the home of an FBI informant. -Fifteen years since the 9/11 attacks
Trump also follows Bush and Obama in excluding from sanctions Saudi Arabia, home of nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers, but also a source of vast wealth for American big business from oil and gas as well as arms contracts. -The Trump-Bannon government: Rule by decree
In short, the opposition of the majority of the American people cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the ruling class in the pursuit of its material and strategic interests.There is a connection between the criminal character of this financial aristocracy and the criminal character of foreign policy.
How is it possible for a political system which, according to Sanders, is “rigged” in favor of the top 1 percent to play a progressive and democratic role on the world stage? Is it in any way credible that Sanders is going to lead a “political revolution” to rein in the “handful of billionaires who control economic and political life in this country,” while supporting a foreign policy elaborated by the same political establishment they control?
According to the Congressional Budget Office, public capital investment in transportation and water infrastructure, already underfunded for decades, has been slashed by 23 percent since its peak in 2003. The year 2003 is significant as it coincides with the beginning of the illegal invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration. The “war on terror” has entailed a vast expansion of the military at the same time that spending on anything not directly related to the accumulation of wealth by the financial aristocracy has suffered from continual cutbacks. -War and the destruction of social infrastructure in America
The report recalls that as the Bush administration was preparing to launch the war of aggression against Iraq, the administration’s chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey came under intense fire for estimating that the “upper bound” costs of the war reached between $100 and $200 billion. This estimate was roundly rejected by everyone from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to House Democrats, who put the figure at roughly $50 billion, which it is now clear underestimated the real cost by a factor of 100.
The new report does not attempt to estimate the wars’ broader impact on the economy and the living standards of broad masses of American working people. Another report issued two years ago by Harvard University conservatively estimated that the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars amounted to $75,000 for every American household. -US has spent nearly $5 trillion on wars since 9/11
Washington’s foreign policy is no less determined by the interests of the ruling corporate-financial elite than its domestic policy. US foreign policy is conducted to further the profit interests of US-based banks and corporations, and American militarism, which generates vast profits for big business, is directed at resolving the crisis of the capitalist system by violently redividing the world. -Sanders in the Democratic debate: A “political revolution” that stops at the water’s edgeThe war at home against US workers mirrors the predatory wars launched by the US against the people of the Middle East and Africa. Used to speculative gambling to make its billions, the financial elite turns to geopolitical “risk-taking” and homicidal recklessness in its international policy.
-The mergers boom, the financial oligarchy and imperialism
Delivered to the Economic Club of Washington, DC, an appreciative audience whose sponsors include the major arms manufacturers Boeing and Northrop Grumman as well as financial giants like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, the defense secretary’s speech presented an unabashed declaration of Washington’s intentions to assert its hegemony over the world’s markets and resources by whatever means necessary, up to and including a nuclear holocaust.
All of these proposals to escalate military confrontations that lead in the direction of global catastrophe are being made without even the semblance of a public debate, never mind the support of the American people, who have repeatedly demonstrated their hostility to militarism and war. The drive toward World War III is unfolding largely behind the backs of the public, with the corporate media and the two major parties showing no interest whatsoever in making the chilling implications of the Pentagon’s preparations known to the population. -Pentagon budget: A blueprint for World War III
There is a connection between the economic crisis, the vast social inequality in America and globally, and the accumulation of vast amounts of data on the population. The government and military-security apparatus are preparing for mass social opposition and upheaval.
One of the most chilling sequences occurs in Hawaii, at the huge underground NSA complex known as “the tunnel,” whose specialty is spying on China. An army of technicians and operatives works around the clock with the most sophisticated equipment to monitor America’s economic and military rivals. This is the real face of international terrorism, the US military-intelligence apparatus as it gears up for global war. -Oliver Stone’s Snowden: The NSA is “running a dragnet on the whole world”
At one point during the film, Gordon-Levitt/Snowden shares his realization that the surveillance of the population of the entire planet is “not about terrorism, it’s about social and economic control, it’s only about protecting the supremacy of the US government.” The film also has many limitations. -Edward Snowden speaks live in 800 theaters across North America
Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals. -The Revolution Betrayed by Leon Trotsky
With the twin rise
of the financial aristocracy and the military-intelligence apparatus
both again working together
to increase their power.Clinton’s response is an open defense of the aristocratic principle: the rich should rule. By virtue of being very wealthy, the rich have the leisure time to pursue a political career. Moreover, they supposedly have immunity from being bribed, since they are already so wealthy.
The email was sent at the height of the financial meltdown that erupted after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15. Even as Citigroup and its Wall Street counterparts were dragging the US and world economy into its deepest crisis since the 1930s, they remained, as the email shows, the real power behind the façade of American democracy and its electoral process. -Citigroup chose Obama’s 2008 cabinet, WikiLeaks document reveals
This political duopoly is reinforced by the unrestricted role of corporate money in US elections, corrupting the entire process to a degree, and with a brazenness, unmatched by any other major industrialized country. It is estimated that campaign spending by presidential and congressional candidates this year will hit a new record of more than $7.3 billion. For all practical purposes, to win high office in America one must either have billionaire backers or be a multi-millionaire oneself. -Is the US election rigged?Finally, they have the “experience in business” necessary to preside over a social system that benefits the social layer which appropriates all the profits from business and finance. These are sentiments that any 18th or 19th century aristocrat would recognize and embrace.
-In secret Goldman Sachs speeches, Clinton explains why the rich should rule
Fifteen years of uninterrupted and ever expanding war, accompanied by a frontal attack on democratic rights and the erection of the framework of police state rule, the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and a further transfer of wealth to the rich have only increased the power of the military and intelligence “deep state” and further eroded the traditional constitutional framework of capitalist rule in America. -The 2016 US election and the crisis of the two-party system
Dictating policies (the historic redistribution of wealth
from the bottom to the very top of the income ladder alongside escalating imperialist aggression and violence against the population of the world including attacks on the working class at home) to what would once have been called the “civilian” branches of government
, including both official political parties:The forum was the first back-to-back appearance of the two leading presidential candidates, and its unstated premise was that those in the military or who have been in the military should have the first right to screen the candidates seeking to exercise the powers of the commander-in-chief. This conception stands in direct opposition to the longstanding constitutional principle of civilian control over the military. The president is designated “commander-in-chief” in the US Constitution, not to elevate the role of the military, but just the reverse, to assert the subordination of the military to the highest elected civilian authority.
Trump’s comments left Democrats and the intelligence agencies aghast and outraged. The Wall Street Journal reported, “White House officials have been increasingly frustrated by Mr. Trump’s confrontations with intelligence officials,” quoting one official as saying, “It’s appalling… No president has ever taken on the CIA and come out looking good.” -Split widens between Trump, CIA over Russian hacking allegationsIn the last two decades, it has become commonplace to see an array of retired generals and admirals on the dais of Democratic and Republican national conventions—a once unheard-of spectacle. This year, retired officers gave major speeches in prime time. General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, spoke at the Republican convention in support of Trump, while General John Allen, the former US commander in Afghanistan, addressed the Democratic convention on behalf of Clinton.
Senators from the two parties—most of whom supported the Iraq war on the basis of lies about “weapons of mass destruction”—seemed to be in competition to demonstrate the most abject loyalty to the intelligence agencies. They were all speaking from talking points supplied by the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon. Senator Joseph Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat, was the most sycophantic, telling the spy chiefs that in a truth-telling competition with Assange and WikiLeaks, “We’re on your side every time."Trump and Clinton have vied to assemble the longest list of supporters among retired military officers. After the Trump campaign released a list of 88 generals and admirals Tuesday, the Clinton campaign countered with a list of 95. Clinton noted that Trump’s support fell well below the hundreds of military endorsements of previous Republican nominees, boasting, “I’m doing better than any Democrat” in collecting such support.
Trump seemed to retreat in the face of the media barrage, tweeting his disapproval of Assange and his love for the intelligence agencies. -Congress grovels before the CIA as it escalates “Russian hacking” hysteriaGiven their acceptance of the principle that their main task as commander-in-chief is to satisfy the military brass and take its “advice,” the differences between Clinton and Trump on foreign policy shrink to complete insignificance. What the “Commander-in-Chief Forum” made clear is that whether Clinton or Trump becomes the next US president, the US financial aristocracy and its military-intelligence apparatus will remain the ultimate decision-makers, dictating a policy of escalating imperialist aggression and violence against the population of the world.
-Clinton and Trump bow to the military
The growing number of recently retired generals joining the Trump cabinet is an expression of the ever-growing power of the military over political life.
The placing of both the Defense Department, overseeing the massive US war machine, and the Department of Homeland Security, which coordinates a ballooning police-state apparatus, in the hands of two recently retired Marine Corps generals is particularly chilling, suggesting a government that aims to seamlessly coordinate war abroad and repression at home under the tight control of a military camarilla. -A Trump junta?
Including plans and preparations
made long in advance for a new world war
[Cohen's] conclusion: a “‘Reasonable assurance’ of popular support again assumes too much…Achieve military success and public support will follow, not the other way around” [215-216]. In other words, the US must carry out its drive to war with or without the support of the population. NATO officials revealed plans for a more aggressive nuclear strategy to counter “Russian aggression,” just days after the publication of an extensive report, “Project Atom: Defining US Nuclear Strategy and Posture for 2025-2050 by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Over the past quarter-century, the essential relations of capitalism as a system of war, social inequality and repression in which governments function, as Marx explained, as nothing other than the executive committee of the capitalist ruling classes, have come ever more clearly into view. There is not a single capitalist government around the world that is regarded as having any genuine political legitimacy. And nowhere is this crisis of bourgeois rule more concentrated than in the centre of world capitalism, the United States. -The political significance of the global economic turmoilThe thrust of the CSIS analysis is that the US must make its nuclear arsenal easier to use in a war with Russia, China or some other power. The military must adopt “a US nuclear strategy designed for twenty-first century realities,” based on new generations of tactical warheads and delivery systems.
The Law of War Manual Declares legitimate the use of nuclear weapons, stating, “There is no general prohibition in treaty or customary international law on the use of nuclear weapons.” Nor is the use of nuclear weapons considered “inherently disproportionate,” even if the target is a military force that does not possess nuclear weapons. -Pentagon manual justifies war crimes and press censorship
“The actual use of nuclear weapons by the United States is not a last resort” -Eliot Cohen’s blueprint for World War ThreeMore advanced tactical nuclear weapons will enable Washington to threaten and launch small nuclear wars without being “self-deterred” by concerns that its actions would lead to a nuclear holocaust, the CSIS report argues. Such “small-scale” nuclear conflicts would inevitably claim tens, if not hundreds of millions of lives, even assuming they did not escalate into a global nuclear war.
The picture presented in the Reuters report is one in which a cabal of military figures in the Pentagon and the US Navy formulate strategic objectives and the means for their enforcement, then press the White House for the stamp of approval. In other words, policy objectives are not formulated by the civilian administration but by the upper echelons of the military establishment. -US military cabal organised South China Sea provocation
A proposed ban on US funding of Ukrainian neo-Nazis that had attracted substantial media attention last June when it was introduced never actually became law. -US Congress quietly enables funding for Ukrainian neo-Nazi-led Azov RegimentIn barely veiled language, CSIS is suggesting that the US should utilize allied and client governments as staging areas and arenas for “controlled” atomic warfare.
-US, NATO powers intensify preparations for nuclear war
Just as with the 2008 market crash or the 2001 terrorist attacks, it's not a matter of "why" the next disaster or even "if" the next disaster.In the two decades after I left, I waited for the end of Wall Street as I had known it. The outrageous bonuses, the endless parade of rogue traders, the scandal that sank Drexel Burnham, the scandal that destroyed John Gutfreund and finished off Solomon Brothers, the crisis following the collapse of my old boss John Meriwether's Long-Term Capital Management, the internet bubble; Over and over again, the financial system was, in some narrow way, discredited. Yet the big Wall Street banks at the center of it just kept on growing, along with the sums of money that they doled out to twenty-six-year olds to perform tasks of no obvious social utility. -The Big Short
The so-called “Volcker rule,” adopted Tuesday by the main US bank regulatory agencies, is being hailed by the Obama administration as a major reform that will rein in Wall Street speculation and hold bankers accountable. In fact, it is a toothless measure that will do nothing to stop the speculative and fraudulent activities that triggered the financial meltdown of 2008 and have continued unabated since then. -Volcker rule gives free pass for Wall Street speculation
Percival Stanion, a top strategist at Pictet Asset Management, told the BBC that there was “definitely a shift in tone towards the banks.” It was, he said, “no coincidence” that the FCA [the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority--the replacement of the discredited regulator, the Financial Services Authority--was supposed to instill ethical standards in the U.K.’s financial sector and “avoid a repeat of the financial crisis.”] had ditched the investigation after Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, threatened to quit the City of London complaining of too much regulation. HSBC was one of the institutions whose greed and lawlessness helped plunge the world into an economic crisis in 2008 from which it has never recovered, and launched a wave of austerity globally involving the slashing of workers jobs, wages and social benefits.
“Faced with proposals for solutions that match the depth and severity of the crisis in banking standards and culture, politicians will be given many reasons to shy away from the necessary reforms.” It did not take long for this to prove true. The publication of the report into the “destruction” of the U.K.’s biggest mortgage lender, Halifax-Bank of Scotland (HBOS), was delayed by three years and only saw the light of day in November 2015. The FCA is yet to decide if the bank’s top 10 executives it blamed for the collapse are to suffer a ban on working in the financial sector.
All the pledges made by the leaders of the major powers and top bankers in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 collapse to clean up the financial system have come to nought. -UK regulator abandons banking inquiry
On the eve of the Davos meeting, William White, former chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements and now chairman of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s review committee, warned that the global financial system was unstable and faced an avalanche of bankruptcies. “The situation is worse than it was in 2007,” he said. “Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up.” Debts had continued to build up over the past eight years and it would become obvious in the next recession that many of them would never be repaid.
European banks already had $1 trillion of non-performing loans and were heavily exposed to emerging markets. “Emerging markets were part of the solution after the Lehman crisis. Now they are part of the problem too,” he said. -The political significance of the global economic turmoil
That's all been decided. The only questions are when and how.The RAND Corporation paper is a chilling confirmation of the warnings made by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) in its statement of February 18, 2016 titled “Socialism and the Fight Against War.” The statement notes that at a certain point, military fatalism becomes a significant contributing factor to the outbreak of war. It cites an international relations specialist who wrote: “Once war is assumed to be unavoidable, the calculations of leaders and militaries change. The question is no longer whether there will or should be a war, but when the war can be fought most advantageously.”
Cordesman, matching Kahn’s insanity, wrote in 2013 regarding a nuclear war between India and Pakistan: “The good news, from a ruthlessly ‘realist’ viewpoint is that such a human tragedy does not necessarily have serious grand strategic consequences for other states, and might well have benefits ... The loss of India and Pakistan might create some short term economic issues for importers of goods and services. However, the net effect would shift benefits to other suppliers without any clear problems in substitutions or costs” [emphasis added].The paper is a war-gaming exercise in the Kahn tradition: weighing the possible outcomes of a war between two nuclear powers with utter indifference to the catastrophic consequences for people in the United States, China and the rest of the world.
-RAND Corporation lays out scenarios for US war with China
In a toxic atmosphere where China’s rise is being blamed for the economic decline of US imperialism, the horrifying prospect is that the American political establishment will conclude that the nuclear devastation of China also “might well have benefits.” -US vice president’s trip triggers debate on US-China conflict
After suffering debacles in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, the question raging in ruling circles is how to use America’s residual military might to ensure its global hegemony, and against which of its major rivals—Russia or China? -Trump’s coming confrontation with China
to entry directly below-
from entry directly above-The Obama administration is pushing ahead with its plans to slash pension benefits [retirees would lose between 50 and 80 percent of their pension benefits] for up to one million participants in “underfunded” multiemployer pension funds as part of its drive to make defined-benefit pensions a thing of the past for all US workers. The White House campaign, carried out in a conspiracy with the major trade unions and multinational corporations, takes place in the wake of the 2013–2014 bankruptcy of Detroit, which set a precedent for slashing the legally protected pension benefits of retirees.
-White House pushes ahead with plan to slash pensions for up to one million retirees
It is now a century since the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin described the imperialist epoch as a stage of capitalism in which finance capital dominates, giving rise to a “new financial aristocracy” characterized by “corruption, bribery on a huge scale and all kinds of fraud.”The Truth About The Dysfunctional Ruling ClassThe state government, which had disastrously underfunded the state pension system, contracted hedge funds to secure financing for the pension plan.
The processes Lenin was describing were at the time only in their infancy. They have vastly matured and expanded in the ensuing period. A criminal financial elite has bankrupted the world economy, stealing unimaginable sums by means of speculation and parasitism and operating outside of any legal restraint. -Imperialism, political corruption and the real face of capitalism
According to economist Susan Ozawa, “the states and municipalities were entering into these long maturity swaps out of necessity. They were desperate, if not naive, and couldn’t look to the Federal Government or Congress and had to turn themselves over to the banks.” -Wall Street swindles, not pensions, behind financial crisis in Detroit and other US cities
In her affidavit, former City Council woman Sharon McPhail detailed the deception and corruption associated with the predatory swap deals. "All of the representatives of the banks continually assured Council members that there would be no risk associated with the City adopting these financial instruments,” McPhail said. She added that former Detroit Chief Financial Officer Sean Werdlow aggressively pushed for the loan, and that “After this process was over, CFO Werdlow was given a lucrative job with one of the financial institutions involved in the [COPs structure] Pension Obligation Certificates." -Detroit emergency manager conceals evidence of possible financial collusionWith the hedge funds charging exorbitant fees, far higher than those charged by a typical bank, it is estimated that the state will pay $2.1 billion in fees over the next 20 years. This nearly matches the $2.3 billion the state will take from workers over the same period by freezing their cost-of-living adjustments.
-The rape of Detroit: Deindustrialization, financialization and parasitism
"[These] complex swap deals were arranged to overcome democratic and legal checks against the loan. “It appears that the COPs structure was used to avoid limitations on debt, such as voter approval of the transaction and legal limits on debt, that would have applied had the conventional general obligation bond been used. ” -New report exposes lies used to justify Detroit bankruptcy
The appointment of emergency managers was a process designed to run roughshod over existing legal protections. The implementation of rate hikes historically required utilities to make a case before certain regulatory bodies to get them approved. At the same time, emergency management was seen as a means to get around city charters and other local laws, which provided at least a modicum of protection against the outright privatization of public services. ” -Despite lead poisoning, Flint water rates highest in USMeanwhile, according to an analysis by Bloomberg News, the city has paid $474 million to banks such as UBS, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase for “underwriting expenses, bond-insurance premiums and fees for wrong-way bets on swaps” since 2005. This figure does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars paid annually in interest on the city’s debt.
-Detroit emergency manager to freeze city pensions
“This deal should have the swap counter-parties paying the city, not the city paying the swap counter parties,” English said at the conclusion of her statements. “The swap payments were about 50 million a year…The swap counter-parties owe the city hundreds of millions of dollars.” English demanded that Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes reject the deal, arguing the court “can't just rubber stamp what Orr or the city wants to do.” -Further evidence shows illegality of Detroit interest rate swapsWhile the Demos report was a lead article in the Guardian in the UK, it was ignored by virtually all of the major US media outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, and barely reported in Detroit itself.
[Detroit's unelected emergency manager Kevyn Orr] Orr’s report and the Times article are part of a vicious campaign by the political establishment and the media to pin the blame for the city crisis on the working class.The announcement on pension cuts was timed to coincide with the release of a report by the city's independent auditor, commissioned by Orr, which claims that “questionable practices” and “excess payments” to retirees were major causes of the city's debt crisis.The report asserts that the pension fund’s “excess payments” cost the city over $1 billion. Prior to the release of Orr’s report, the New York Times ran a front-page article claiming that Detroit “spent billions extra” on pensions. -Detroit emergency manager to freeze city pensionsThe Detroit Free Press criticized the report, saying it shifted the blame to “outsiders,” when the real problem was an “unwillingness to face fiscal realities, a devotion to expensive benefits, excessive pension bonuses” and a failure to make “tough decisions.”
-New report exposes lies used to justify Detroit bankruptcy
The hypocrisy is glaring. Instead of ruling on the clear violation of the law—which would raise the issue of criminal prosecution and ordering the banks to pay reparations—the judge advised the city to pay the banks. Clearly aware of the anger building in the working class against the entire bankruptcy process, he calculated that lowering the figure paid to the banks would make the deal more palatable for public consumption. -Bankruptcy judge tells Detroit officials to renegotiate bank swap dealBlame-ShiftingOfficials from both political parties and at every level of state, local and federal government are implicated in the catastrophe in both Flint and Detroit. The response from officials has been crocodile tears, lies, evasions and blame shifting.
When it comes to the ruling class and its long gritty history of unbridled pursuit of its material interests, the financial aristocracy and the military-intelligence apparatus depend in common on a variety of tactics such as crocodile tears, lies, conspiracies and evasions.
The mask has to be ripped off and the lies and misinformation stripped away. During the bankruptcy trial, indisputable evidence emerged of a plot [the Jones Day blueprint to gut pensions], starting after the inauguration of Governor Snyder in early 2011, to install an emergency manager in Detroit and throw the city into bankruptcy. To achieve this, the Republican governor, a former venture capitalist, worked with Democratic state and local officials, including his appointed state treasurer, Andy Dillon, and Detroit Mayor David Bing.
Assiduously avoided was any mention of the connection between the crisis in Flint and the bankruptcy in Detroit. The effort to privatize Detroit’s utilities was a primary motivation for removing Flint from the DWSD. Instead, Democratic and Republican officials took turns shifting blame along partisan lines while making demagogic and empty gestures of contrition to the residents of Flint. “This is not supposed to happen, this is America!” exclaimed Chaffetz. The mutual finger-pointing and hand-wringing of the rival factions in Congress is aimed at obscuring the fact that the crisis in Flint is a political crime for which both big business parties, from Democratic President Barack Obama down to Republican Governor Rick Snyder and local officials, are complicit. -Political crisis over Flint poisoning intensifies as Congress holds hearing
In the background was a shadow government of financial consultants, investment bankers and bankruptcy attorneys. For an entire year—long before the formal ruling by Judge Rhodes approving the Chapter 9 bankruptcy petition of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr—a coterie of attorneys, accountants, investment bankers and bankruptcy reorganization experts have been busy at work. They are being paid tens of millions of dollars to carry through the looting of city assets and the gutting of workers’ and retirees’ pensions and health care benefits. -The Detroit bankruptcy trial
Orr answered by saying that ordinary people simply didn’t understand the complicated and difficult work consulting firms like Jones Day were doing.Then he blamed the people of Detroit for creating the crisis. -Emergency manager outlines scorched earth policy on Detroit talk show
In her speech to Goldman Sachs on October 24, 2013, she said, “The list of tough decisions are known to everybody, from entitlement reform to revenues to future growth investments…” -Sanders’ damning silence on Clinton’s Wall Street speeches
So that while making the "tough decisions."
In the year before the April 2013 decision [by Flint’s state-appointed emergency manager to end the city’s half-century practice of buying water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD)], Snyder and Dillon were deeply involved in the conspiracy to declare a “financial emergency” in Michigan’s largest city [see quotes at top of entry] and set in motion the installation of an unelected emergency manager in Detroit who would throw the city into bankruptcy. In March 2013, using highly dubious estimates of the city’s liabilities—particularly in regards to pensions and other so-called legacy costs—Snyder announced an emergency and installed the new EM, Kevyn Orr, a partner in the Jones Day law firm.
Earlier this week, Bill Johnson, the former public affairs director of the Detroit water system, released an April 15, 2013 email from then-DWSD director Susan McCormick. The email sent by McCormick to her board describes a proposal for an immediate 48 percent rate reduction from $20 to $10.46 per 7,500 gallons. “When compared over the 30-year horizon the DWSD proposal saves $800 million, or said differently—saves 20 percent over the KWA proposal,” she wrote. [The Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), is a competing multi-county body which had a multi-year plan to construct a 70-mile pipeline to link Flint directly to Lake Huron.]
As early as March 2012 Dillon had met with Flint city officials to discuss switching from Detroit to KWA. A study by the engineering firm Tucker, Young, Jackson and Tull, which was commissioned by Dillon, found it was far more cost-effective to stay with DWSD. Their results were ignored, based on claims by Dillon that their numbers were wrong.
The decision to switch to the KWA despite potential cost-savings for Flint raises several questions about the real motivation of state and local officials for the move. -Questions emerge over motives behind ending Flint’s ties to Detroit water system
To protect themselves.
The email stated: “While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB [the Department of Technology, Management and Budget] is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink. The coolers will arrive today and will be provided as long as the public water does not meet treatment requirements.” Just days later, the city issued an advisory that cited the presence of trihalomethanes in the water, but maintained the water was safe to drink for residents in good health.
By doing nothing to address the issue.
Nowhere is there a single politician who has responded to the disaster by demanding what is clearly required: the immediate allocation of a relatively modest sum, $273 billion according to the Environmental Protection Agency, to replace all of the municipal lead pipes in the US. This is equivalent to the annual spending on the US Army, just one of the four branches of the US military. There is simply “no money” for such a proposal to be considered, much less approved.
In a press statement a few days ago, Snyder announced that a full replacement of the city’s lead piping is “not imminent.” He stated that an overhaul of the city’s water system would take 15 years, despite statements from local plumbers that it could realistically be done in two.
“The problem here goes back to the government. The facts were kept from us for so long. That is what made it so bad. We need to fix this problem and right now. And there is a risk that nothing will be done.” -Parents fighting lead poisoning denounce government inaction and lies
"They’ve never apologized. They’ve never accepted responsibility. Even when they were caught, they got out of it by telling even more outrageous Orwellian lies. So, you can be sure as long as these people are in power that this will happen over and over again." -An interview with Professor Marc Edwards on the Flint water crisis
The governor put forward the absurdly low figure of $55 million as the cost of such a project. In fact, estimates of the cost of replacing Flint’s aging piping are as high as $1.5 billion. -State workers in Flint supplied with bottled water one year prior to acknowledgement of crisis
While politicians pore over any allocation of resources for social spending with a fine tooth comb, almost unimaginable sums are made available to the military without a second thought. How many know that the US military is shelling out over a trillion dollars to defense contractor Lockheed Martin to fund its beleaguered F-35 program? Or that it is spending another trillion dollars to “modernize” its nuclear arsenal by making atomic bombs smaller and more maneuverable? -War and the destruction of social infrastructure in America
No tactic has served the ruling class more fully, disaster after disaster after disaster, than the time-tested and proven tactic of blame-shifting.The question that is imperiously raised by such facts is: What is it about American society that so frequently leads mentally unstable individuals to resort to mass murder, often combined with suicide? This is a question that the political and media establishment does not care to—or dare to—address. The reason is that it leads rapidly to an exposure of the malignant state of American capitalist society.
Instead, what is offered is a cynical and dishonest rehash of past cover-ups for the system that generates such levels of social dysfunction and violence. The official response to each new incident of mass killing is a stereotypical combination of war mongering and demands for further surveillance on the population and other police-state measures. From the Democrats, the recipe also includes demands for gun control, as though the prevalence of guns is the cause, rather than a symptom, of the disease.
From the Republicans, and especially their current likely presidential candidate, the fascistic billionaire Donald Trump, the response features new and even more savage attacks on immigrants in general, and Muslims in particular.
-The social roots of the mass shooting in OrlandoThe Democrats—including individuals brought in to contain the outrage, such as Michael Moore and Jesse Jackson—for their part blame the Republicans and [almost] no one else.
After leading a series of chants, his trademark, Jackson went on to blame workers in Flint for the water crisis due to their failure to vote for Democrats. “Those of you who didn’t vote elected Snyder. If you don’t vote, you are going to elect problems,” he declared. -Jesse Jackson promotes Democratic Party at Flint rallyIn fact, the catastrophe in Flint and devastation of Detroit during the bankruptcy—which was supported by Obama—are two sides of the same process. During the bankruptcy, wages, pensions, infrastructure and social programs were slashed and the city threatened to sell the art in the Detroit Institute of Arts to pay off the Wall Street creditors. On top of this, tens of thousands of families had their electricity and water shut off. Detroit was not “rebuilt,” it was restructured in the interests of the rich.
Especially when it comes to identity politics.
There is a broad consensus, across both parties, that the class issues raised by the Sanders campaign in the primaries must be buried in the general election campaign. The decision has been taken at the highest levels of the political establishment to direct attention to issues of race and gender—including deliberately provoking such issues—in order to distract the public from the more fundamental economic division in society. Alongside these efforts at evasion are the inevitable attempts to present the Michigan crisis as a racial matter. In an editorial published yesterday, New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote, “It is hard to imagine this happening in a city that didn’t have Flint’s demographic profile—mostly black and disproportionately poor.”
Speaking to the press outside the White House, [Sanders] made clear that he was planning on working closely with Clinton, as he had pledged to do at the outset of his campaign. He denounced Donald Trump, declaring, “It is unbelievable to me, and I say this with all sincerity, that the Republican Party would have a candidate for president who in the year 2016 makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign.”
It was noticeable that Sanders did not describe Trump as a billionaire, or link his opposition to Trump to his own year-long campaign against the domination of “millionaires and billionaires” over US politics. He referred exclusively to Trump’s bigoted attacks on Mexican immigrants, Muslims, women and other groups defined by religion, race, language or gender, not economic class.
The extraordinary intervention by Vice President Joe Biden into the controversy over a Stanford University sexual assault case is part of this effort to promote identity politics as the central issue in the 2016 campaign. Last week, Biden lent his support to a campaign led by a Stanford professor to recall the judge who presided over the sexual assault trial and conviction of a university freshman, on the grounds that the judge’s sentence was too lenient.
There is no basis for the federal government to intervene into what is a local criminal matter. Biden has shown no such solicitude for the victims of the lead poisoning of the water supply in Flint, Michigan or the countless victims of US police killings, to say nothing of those bombed, incinerated or turned into homeless refugees by US military violence in the Middle East. -Race, gender and the US presidential campaign
The disastrous impact of the economic crisis upon the lives of tens of millions of people is reflected in the growing rejection of a political system that is seen to be controlled by the elite which first caused and then profited off the 2008 collapse.
Viewed from another perspective, the amount of aid Clinton cited for Flint is little more than the cost of a single F-35 fighter jet. The policy of both Clinton and Obama is clear: unlimited funds when it comes to bombing Iraq and Syria, but no money to address the life-or-death social ills facing working people.
[T]here is growing nervousness in the Democratic Party establishment, and more widely in ruling circles, that Sanders’ attacks on Wall Street could encourage a movement going well beyond the intentions of the senator from Vermont. [I]ssues of race and gender are being deliberately injected into the political arena in order to divide the working class and head off the growth of class consciousness. -On eve of first presidential contest: US two-party system in crisis
The visit by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Flint, Michigan on Sunday was an effort at damage control aimed at covering up the criminal role of the Democratic Party in the lead poisoning disaster and cynically using the tragedy confronting residents to boost her own campaign. Speaking at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, which has a mostly black congregation, on the North side of Flint, Clinton sought to gloss over the culpability of local and state Democratic party officials in the Flint water crisis, while strongly implying that the poisoning of Flint residents was a racial, not a class issue.
As was evident from the audience at the town hall, the city is a highly integrated working class community. The political establishment is clearly alarmed by the fact that all sections of the Flint working class—white, black and immigrant—have come together to oppose the attack on their right to clean and safe water. The role of forces such as Williams and his mentor Sharpton is to disrupt that unity.
The attempt to portray the crisis in Flint as a racial issue is absurd, given the fact that nearly half the population of Flint is white. Meanwhile the majority of the largely-Democratic local elected and appointed officials who presided over the disaster are African-American. In fact, the racial composition of Flint and Detroit has nothing to do with it. Whether white or black, immigrant or native-born, there is no section of the working class that is immune from the consequences of 40 years of social counterrevolution in America. The crisis in Flint and Detroit is the inevitable outcome of this massive transfer of wealth and is part of a general process that is unfolding internationally.
For her part Democratic Michigan US Senator Debbie Stabenow defended the miserly response by the Obama administration to the Flint disaster. The White House has committed $80 million, not all of which is even specifically earmarked for Flint, in comparison to an estimate of as much as $1.5 billion needed to upgrade Flint’s water infrastructure alone.
The top hedge fund managers made more in a year than the cost of replacing all lead pipes in Flint, Michigan and fixing the city’s poisoned public water system. -Highest-earning US hedge fund managers raked in $13 billion last year
Maddow interjected to argue against more federal aid to Flint, claiming that this would let the state of Michigan off the hook. -The Rachel Maddow show in Flint: Damage control for DemocratsIn every country, the social needs of the population are subordinated to the accumulation of vast sums of wealth by the corporations and the financial aristocracy. -The roots of the crisis in Flint and Detroit
While the Republican administration of Governor Rick Snyder and Democrats attempt to shift blame for the crisis, Flint residents continue to confront elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. To date, not a single lead pipe in the working class city of 100,000 has been replaced in the aftermath of the crisis. -Hillary Clinton covers for Obama and Democrats in Flint water crisisJust as had been done during the 2008 subprime crisis and market crash, the blame was shifted from Wall Street onto the backs of the poor and working class through fraudulent subprime loans that heavily targeted immigrants and minorities.
Speaking to the Real News on the subject, Tom Ferguson, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said that cities and states, which he described as “public sector prey,” were “basically just shoveling out millions of dollars on a decline in rates” saying that the interest rate swaps had “all the looks of the same type of deal as the mortgage story, where predatory deals were used.” Ferguson further cited the “tacit collusion of the press” in this process, saying that the “daily papers didn’t cover it." -Wall Street swindles, not pensions, behind financial crisis in Detroit and other US cities
For the ongoing terrorist attacks around the world, the blame was shifted from Pentagon machinations, CIA conspiracies, Black Op interventions and US wars of aggression onto the backs of the poor and working class through the sham War on Terror that targeted Muslim and Middle-Eastern populations.
The few thousand youth who do join ISIS are allowed to go to Syria by the Belgian secret services like their colleagues across Europe to fight the proxy war for regime change operations in Syria. It is these European governments that created the conditions for terrorist attacks in their own countries. As the scandal mounts in Belgium over the state’s role in the attacks, bourgeois politicians of all stripes are seeking to divert attention from the politically criminal character of their policies by instead inciting fear and hatred of Europe’s Muslim population. -Officials stoke anti-Muslim hatred following Brussels attackAs if in a slow-motion coup d’état, the ruling elite is moving to transform political life in France, creating an authoritarian regime. Under the state of emergency, public protests are banned, there is no guarantee of freedom of the press or freedom of assembly, and no judicial oversight of arbitrary searches and seizures carried out by police. Already, the government banned protests against the COP21 ecological summit in Paris after the November 13 attacks and put the organizers under house arrest.
The state’s decision to punish Goodyear workers marks a profound shift in class relations in France and internationally. After nearly a decade of social austerity for workers and bank bailouts for the super-rich, during which tens of millions of workers across Europe lost their jobs, there is explosive social anger. Fearing a sudden eruption of class struggle outside the control of the union bureaucracy, along the lines of the 1968 French general strike, the ruling class is sending a signal that it intends to ruthlessly punish any and all protest. -Amid state of emergency, French workers jailed for struggle to defend jobsPolice can enter anyone’s house, search without warrants, and arrest people on mere suspicion that they are a threat to public order. The arguments provided by Valls to justify the indefinite suspension of democratic rights are a pack of lies. IS (Daesh) is not an unstoppable foe that poses an existential threat to the French Republic and to the French people, leaving the French state no choice but to suspend democratic rights in order to safeguard the very survival of the French people.
Naked fascist violence on the streets of a major European city is a result of the anti-refugee hysteria being whipped up by the political establishment across the continent and the turn to authoritarian methods traditionally associated with the far right. The portrayal of the hundreds of thousands of desperate men, women and children who have fled wars in the Middle East and North Africa initiated by the imperialist powers as criminals has been encouraged by the mainstream media and governments of every political stripe, from the grand coalition in Germany to Denmark’s right-wing Liberal government and France’s Socialist Party government. This in turn is being used to justify an expansion of the imperialist war drive in the Middle East and North Africa, which received new impetus over the past week with the announcement of preparations for a new US-led intervention in Libya and an expansion of operations in Syria.IS is, in fact, a political asset of the ruling class of France and of all the major NATO countries. Valls’ claim that France and its allies are engaged in total, global war with IS does not hold water. Rather, IS and the reactionary attacks it has carried out in France are being invoked as a pretext to push through vast attacks.
The attacks also follow plans by the German government to establish massive internment camps for refugees, including a proposal to create one in Greece with European Union funding capable of holding up to 300,000 people. The Danish government implemented a policy last week allowing border guards to confiscate valuables worth more than €1,340 from asylum-seekers entering the country. Nothing like this has been seen in Europe since the days of Hitler’s Third Reich, when the Jewish population was rounded up, deprived of its property and sent to concentration camps.
The Social Democrats’ embrace of the policies of the Sweden Democrats is the outcome of decades of a steady shift to the right. Since the 1990s, the Social Democrats have implemented vast privatisation programmes, helped create areas of social and economic misery in major cities where immigrants have been disproportionately affected, and whipped up militarism and nationalism to justify increased spending on the armed forces in the face of alleged Russian “aggression. ” -Neo-Nazi mob assaults immigrants in Stockholm, Sweden
The court decision, utilizing an obscure and antidemocratic law from the 18th century, is part of efforts to utilize last year’s attack in San Bernardino, California to intensify the assault on democratic rights and expand the police-state spying powers of the government. The basic target of these moves—as with the police-state spying apparatus as a whole—is not the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, but all opposition to the American ruling class’s policy of war and social reaction. As the United States prepares for a massive escalation of military violence, it is at the same time intensifying the assault on democratic rights at home.” -FBI wins court order forcing Apple to install backdoor in iPhone security systems That is, Hollande was willing to shield and rely upon IS as a tool of various twists and turns of French and NATO policy against Assad. When IS emerges as a domestic policy issue, however, the PS suddenly insists France is engaged in an all-out war on IS in which no democratic right can be allowed to stand in the way of the assertion of state power. -Prime Minister Valls pledges permanent state of emergency in France
French youth and workers have carried out mass demonstrations to protest Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri’s reactionary labour law reform. They have done so in defiance of the state of emergency imposed by the Socialist Party (PS) government after the November 13 Paris terror attacks. These initial mobilizations mark a new stage in the international class struggle, with implications well beyond the borders of France.
“They are bringing up the issue of banning the Islamic veil in the universities now, by pure coincidence, when all the youth are out on the streets protesting a government measure ... I do not agree with this.” -Protests shrink as police attack fourth day of action against French labour law
The attempt to promote hysteria over terrorism to suppress popular opposition is failing in the face of a growing radicalization of workers and youth. The working class has not been intimidated by the state of emergency and is entering into struggle against the social counterrevolution being carried out by the PS government and the European Union as a whole. -The working class in France mobilizes against austerityWhether the ruling class (through both political parties and corporate media) panders to racialism or racism, or puts the blame on the immediate victims of its policies or merely blames the other party, ultimately, the aim of the political and media elite is to shift policy further to the right.
The Left Party created the conditions that enabled the right-wing nationalist AfD to tap into social frustration and anger and channel it in a reactionary direction.
Serving as a safety valve, the Left Party ensured that social dissatisfaction could find no independent, anti-capitalist outlet. This is the main reason why the AfD is in a position to direct protest votes in a right-wing, anti-immigrant direction. -German state elections: Far-right Alternative for Germany gains double-digit support The established parties and the media have systematically promoted the AfD. They responded to the wave of sympathy and active assistance to refugees from the war-devastated Middle East last summer by giving the AfD a platform and spreading fear and xenophobia. A central role was played by the media’s claims of mass assaults on women by refugees during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne. It has since become clear that the alleged events were either wildly exaggerated or, more likely, never happened.
From the beginning, Sanders’ role has been to serve as a lightning rod for social discontent, directing it into the dead end of the Democratic Party. In his more candid moments, he has stated that the actual content of his “political revolution” is to encourage millions of young people and workers not to lose faith in the “political system” and to increase the Democratic vote in November. He will now begin the process of pressuring his supporters to back the eventual nominee, Clinton.This campaign has continued unabated in the aftermath of Sunday’s elections. Led by Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer and the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the demand is being raised that the political establishment listen to the “voice of the people” and shift its refugee policy even further to the right. As if the 1.3 million of the 12.6 million people eligible to vote who cast ballots for the AfD represented the entire people.
The very real danger represented by Trump cannot be countered by support for the Democratic Party. On the contrary, Trump’s ability to exploit social anger and direct it into reactionary channels is due above all to the role of the Democratic Party and what passes for the “left” in the United States, including Sanders and the organizations that have backed him—a “left” characterized by contempt for the working class and dedicated to smothering the growth of workers’ militancy and demobilizing opposition to social inequality and war. -After the March 15 US primaries: The political role of the Sanders campaignThe aim of the Left Party is not to build a left-wing movement against capitalism, but to prevent such a development.
For her part, the leading Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has responded to the divisions in the Republican Party and the rise of Trump by shifting rhetorically to the right, seeking to position herself as the responsible representative of the ruling class and American imperialism. -Trump threatens violence at Republican National ConventionThe very idea that this party of political functionaries, state officials, trade union bureaucrats and privileged representatives of the middle class could mobilise the social anger of the working class and the rebellious spirit of the youth against capitalism is absurd. -What is behind the electoral success of the Alternative for Germany?
While putting the blame on the poor and working class.
Behind the lies of Krugman and others like him is contempt and outright hatred for the working class. This is commonly articulated by the “liberal” establishment and its pseudo-left hangers-on in the form of denunciations of the “white working class”—in keeping with their reactionary obsession with racial and identity politics. They either ignore the broad support for Sanders from white workers who are attracted to what they mistakenly believe or hope to be a socialist campaign, or equate it with support for Trump among more backward layers—branding it as an expression of “white privilege.”
Food stamp recipients, and particularly childless adults on food stamps, have become targets of abuse for big business politicians of both parties. -Democrats silent as one million lose food stamp benefits in the USKevin Williamson, writing in the right-wing National Review, recently gave vent in unadulterated form to the anti-working class outlook of these social layers, stating: “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible… the white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.” -The social crisis and the US elections
Blow’s comment, and many others like it, assumes as a matter of course that workers are acting not on the basis of economic interests, but on the basis of racial identity. These commentators reject any notion that the concerns motivating broad sections of workers who happen to be white are the same as those animating workers who happen to be black. They deny that workers are capable of rational judgment as to where their interests lie. They provide no evidence for these claims. Rather, they assume that repeating them incessantly will make them true.
More and more, the fundamental class questions are coming to the fore. Now that it has been shown that broad sections of workers are prepared to accept a socialist alternative, the response of the so-called “left” is to attempt to reinforce racial divisions.
It is high time that workers and youth reject the entire reactionary effort to define politics on the basis of racial, ethnic or other artificial divisions. Class is real, rooted objectively in the process of production. -Why Sanders won in West Virginia
-continued directly below-
from entry directly above-Capital expenditures on transportation and water infrastructure fell 23 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars between 2003 and 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“Non-revenue water” is a euphemism for water that leaks from the city’s decaying infrastructure, either soaking into the ground or returning back into the sewage system. This is estimated to be some 40 percent of the city’s total usage.After the 2008 financial crash, the administration deliberately starved states and municipalities of federal funds, reducing non-military discretionary spending as a percentage of national gross domestic product to its lowest level since 1961. The federal Centers for Disease Control has cut state grants for lead poisoning prevention by more than half since 2009, and the share of children younger than six who are tested has fallen by more than 40 percent.
Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, a pediatric expert from Mott Children’s Health Center, described anecdotally how at his own hospital parking lot he has seen water bubbling up from the ground and for the last three years has been reporting it. Yet, nothing was ever done to fix the leak. He added pointedly, “It gets pretty fatiguing to hear that people must be stealing a significant portion of the 40 percent of the water.”
With perhaps more significance than she intended, Flint’s newly appointed utilities administrator, JoLisa McDay, spoke repeatedly to emphasize that the city did not have the resources to send crews out to repair broken or leaking water mains without pulling them off federally mandated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) preparations to process water from the KWA pipeline.
The city of Flint currently has a poverty rate of 41.6 percent, with a median household income of $24,679 a year. With the average water and sewerage bill being $140 each month, almost 7 percent of the average resident’s income goes just to pay the water bill. The EPA estimates the threshold for water affordability at 2.0 percent to 2.5 percent of household income. -Water officials envision doubling of city of Flint water rates
-The Flint water crisis and the US elections
Preemptive ScapegoatingThe entire political establishment—including Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton—accepts the “right” of the US ruling class to expel the victims of imperialism, poverty and war. Sanders has blamed immigrants for low wages and job losses, promoting the worst forms of American nationalism.
The ruling class is fanning the flames of xenophobia in an attempt to deflect anger from the wholesale assault on the working class.
-Oppose Obama’s assault on immigrants!
But blame-shifting needn't be relegated to post-disaster tactics.The very terms used in the report are designed to present China as an aggressive, expansionist power and obscure the dramatic US military build-up throughout the Indo-Pacific over the past three years as part of the pivot. The phrase “China’s tolerance of risk” really means China’s failure to bow to sustained US pressure and provocations in the region and accept Washington’s demands.
The CSIS cites China’s expansion of “anti-access” weaponry to counter an annihilating American attack on the Chinese mainland as the pretext for escalating Washington’s own military preparations. The think tank emphatically rules out any US retreat from the Western Pacific, criticises the Obama administration’s defence spending cuts, and proposes trillions of dollars in new outlays to expand the American military presence in Asia and develop new weapons systems. “At the current rate of US capability development,” it warns, “the balance of military power in the region is shifting against the United States.”“Current US capabilities resident or routinely deployed in the Asia-Pacific include power projection from carrier strike groups, strategic bombers, and guided-missile submarines; ballistic missile defence from a network of installations and platforms in Japan, Korea, Guam, and forward-deployed Aegis-equipped navy ships; anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability resident in ships, submarines, and patrol aircraft operating throughout the Asia-Pacific theatre; air superiority from fourth- and fifth-generation fighters deployed to Japan and Korea; and ISR [Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities from space-based to tactical systems to provide early warning and support to warfighters.”
The claim that the US will be outgunned by China without further massive military spending is not only absurd, but expresses the insane logic of American militarism. The US defence budget already dwarfs that of any of its potential rivals, including China. -US think tank outlines master plan for war with ChinaIf China were to “forward-deploy” military forces on this scale permanently to waters off the Californian coast and openly discuss plans to annihilate forces on the American mainland, it is not difficult to imagine the belligerent and aggressive US response. Yet that is exactly what Washington is doing in the Western Pacific and more broadly in Asia.
-CSIS report: A blueprint for US war with China
The latest exercise is a further escalation, extending the US challenge from the Spratly Islands, where Subi Reef is located, to the Paracels which are closer to the Chinese mainland and have been controlled by China for more than four decades. Washington’s actions are deliberately provocative and reckless, raising the danger of a military confrontation.
Speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington last Wednesday, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, made clear that the US would expand its provocations in the South China Sea [stating that] “everything that is new and cool is going to the Pacific.” -US navy carries out provocative operation in South China Sea
To the fury of China, the communique issued by the G7 foreign ministers’ summit in April for the first time declared the G7’s “opposition” to any actions that raised “tensions” in the South and East China seas. The statement of Washington’s NATO and Japanese allies was not a reference to the US provocations, but to China’s reaction. -War danger grows following new US provocation in South China SeaThe peculiar fixation of the pseudo-left on the fiction of “Russian imperialism” has ominous significance.
In a move Russian officials denounced as a “direct threat,” US and NATO officials presided over the formal launch of a new missile system based in Bucharest. -US-NATO officials unveil Romania-based missile systemHaving promoted and defended imperialist interventions in Libya and Syria under the false flag of “human rights,” they are now lending their efforts to promoting far bloodier conflicts, including a potential war between the US and Russia, the world’s two largest nuclear powers.
- “Left” propagandists for escalation of imperialist war
Given the ruling class and its long gritty history of unbridled pursuit of its material interests:Did then-state treasurer Andy Dillon make the decision to sever Flint—Detroit’s largest customer—from Detroit in order to deliberately exacerbate the financial crisis in Detroit?
The essential and intended consequence of government policy over the past seven years has been to vastly increase social inequality. -On the threshold of the New Year
The focus of domestic policy has been to subsidize the utterly parasitic and quasi-criminal speculative activities of the banks and financial institutions, starving the real economy of productive investment, in order to engineer a further concentration of income and wealth among the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent of the population. -Wall Street celebrates mounting signs of US slump“So why did Flint leave? To create a crisis within the DWSD to enable the GLWA [Great Lakes Water Authority, the entity that currently controls what once were DWSD’s regional assets] to take over and eventually be run privately.”
Over the past several weeks, Detroit teachers have engaged in a series of sickout protests, culminating in the near-shutdown of the school system on January 20, the day Obama visited the city. The movement, which erupted outside of the control of the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), brought national and international public attention to rodent- and insect-infested schools and other deplorable conditions in the long cash-starved district.
There is mounting evidence that crumbling infrastructure in American schools is creating a national health and safety problem.-Thousands of Detroit children exposed to lead or copper contaminated water
Teachers in the city named by Obama’s former education secretary as “ground zero” for the administration’s education policies demanded adequate resources and personnel to repair unheated and unsanitary school buildings, reduce class sizes, and provide social services to address alarming rates of poverty among their students. They also demanded a return of wages and benefits ceded by the DFT.
In Chicago, the third largest school district in the US, tens of thousands of teachers and other school employees are battling the demands of Mayor Rahm Emanuel—a former investment banker who served as Obama’s White House chief of staff—to starve the public schools, slash wages and benefits, and funnel even more money to big bondholders and for-profit education firms.
The AFT and its local affiliates in both Detroit and Chicago, which have long collaborated with the enemies of public education, are trying to smother the movement by promoting the Democratic Party and depicting the attack on education as a purely Republican matter. This is a fraud. -Detroit and Chicago teachers fight to defend public education
The removal of Darnell Earley paves the way for a bipartisan deal in the state legislature to restructure the schools and divert even more resources to private education companies.
Last January , it was suddenly announced that the schools would likely run out of money in April. The overnight appearance of this doomsday prediction turned out to be the result of debt refinancing quietly conducted by DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley last fall.
The action followed the provocative announcement by Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Emergency Manager Steven Rhodes that the district did not have the money to pay teachers over the summer months. -Teacher sickout shuts Detroit Public Schools
The debt agreement meant that monthly payments for the impoverished district would balloon from $6.6 million to $26.8 million as a February 2016. These numbers translate into payments of over $3,000 per pupil debt—under conditions when the state’s foundation grant per student is $7,296.
This highly manipulated emergency was then used as the basis of Snyder’s insistent demand to pass the reorganization plan. “The time to act is now,” he said during last month’s State of the State, “I ask you to move with great haste.”
Earley was forced to announce his resignation, and now Snyder and the powers-that-be have turned to Judge Rhodes to assume responsibility for implementing the attacks on Detroit public education.
In other words, the very same players who used “crushing debt” in the city’s municipal bankruptcy as a pretext to slash city workers’ pensions, deprive retirees of their hard-earned health and death benefits, eliminate thousands of jobs, hive off public assets for privatization, undermine the Detroit Water and Sewerage system and move the Detroit Institute of Arts from public ownership to foundation-control are now hard at work pushing through similar plans for the city’s schoolchildren.
Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature have been engaged in a protracted debate over the funding of the measure and the exact proportioning of decision-making powers and resources. The sometimes-bitter struggle has had nothing to do with restoring “democracy” or improving the schools. On the contrary, it is essentially over how the spoils from the dismantling of public education will be divvied up. -Detroit Public Schools emergency manager resigns
The Detroit municipal bankruptcy of 2013-14 established Rhodes’ ability to bring Democrats, Republicans and unions to the table and devise legal stratagems to enforce the brutal demands of Wall Street. In the lead-up to the final agreement, Rhodes postured as a “neutral arbiter,” and unlike the initial ham-fisted actions of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr he fully engaged the services of the trade unions to contain social opposition and impose the dictates of the hedge funds and bondholders.Was the move part of a wider plan to privatize publicly owned water system and “monetize” the DWSD, which was viewed by private investors as the most valuable asset in the city of Detroit?
Such political skills are now in demand as the financial elite place their hopes in Rhodes to push through the legislative and political logjam and impose what will prove to be a deeply hated plan to gut public education in Detroit and create vast new and lucrative edubusiness opportunities.
Rhodes—whose violation of the state constitution set a national precedent to use US bankruptcy court proceedings to attack public employee pensions—said his biggest regret in the Detroit bankruptcy was not entirely eliminating city’s defined benefits pension program. It appears that Snyder is giving him another go at accomplishing the overall mission of abolishing public sector pensions.In early 2014, Kevyn Orr made public that he had been actively seeking a buyer for the century-old municipally owned water system in Detroit for some time.
Pension funds have been hard hit by the systemic pay cuts endured by DPS teachers coupled with the fact that new teachers are no longer eligible for the defined-benefit plan. The proliferation of charter schools and Teach for America employees means that a declining minority of teachers in Michigan are paying into the system or will be eligible upon retirement. -Detroit bankruptcy judge appointed to restructure public schools
Like Flint, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), used revenue from water bills to pay budget shortfalls. [In Detroit, the DWSD was being bled dry to pay the banks who swindled the city (see quotes at top of entry.] By the time of the 2013 Detroit bankruptcy, water rates had been rising by an average of eight percent yearly for over a decade. However, the system, which serves four million customers in Southeast Michigan, bringing in revenues of a billion dollars each month, was seen by Wall Street as the city’s most prized asset—its “crown jewel.”Orr contracted Veolia North America (VNA), a branch of the massive French transnational known as the “world’s leader in water services,” to downsize DWSD, slash costs and maximize payments to the big bondholders who controlled the water department’s debt. This coincided with a campaign to shut off water to tens of thousands of residents behind on their bills.
By March 2014, 1,500 to 3,000 customers were being cut off of water every week to make DWSD more attractive for a takeover by private investors. “It’s interesting that at the same time the mass shutoffs were announced in Detroit, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr issued an RFP [request for proposal] to find a private buyer for Detroit’s water system,” Grant told the WSWS. “The clearing away of the city’s so-called bad debt was critical to getting regional officials to come back to the table with the proposed regional authority and found the [GLWA] Great Lakes Water Authority.” -Despite lead poisoning, Flint water rates highest in US
While GM is paying out billions to its richest investors, residents in Flint, Michigan—the birthplace of GM—have been poisoned by lead, largely due to decades of toxins the automaker dumped into the Flint River. While state and local officials ignored resident complaints about the taste, color and odor of the tainted water, in December 2014 GM quietly stopped using the river-supplied water at its local engine plant because of corrosion to its parts. The company’s employee drinking fountains and ice machines, however, continued to use the poisoned water. -As its hometown of Flint remains poisoned, GM makes record 2015 profit
The joint donation of $600,000 a year is equal to what GM made in profits every half hour last year. It is not known how much the UAW—which owns the largest block of GM stock, worth billions—is contributing. In any case, this is an insulting amount for the city’s children, who will require lifelong health, educational and other social services to cope with irreparable damage from neurotoxins. The cost of replacing the city’s antiquated pipe system—long starved of resources due to tax abatements demanded by GM and the consequences of automaker’s deindustrialization of the city—is estimated at $1.5 billion alone. -GM and UAW donate $3 million to Flint: Criminals covering their tracks
Obama’s bailout of GM also gave GM immunity from lawsuits stemming from the spread of toxic pollutants, including into the Flint River. -In Detroit visit, Sanders promotes the UAW and economic nationalismIn February 2015, Flint officials hired Veolia to do a study of the city’s water. In March 2015, Veolia announced that the water met federal and state standards, echoing the lies of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). VNA did not reveal the high lead levels, although the toxin had been flowing into the city’s water for 10-11 months without any corrosion control. Veolia’s recommendation was to use chemical treatments to alleviate complaints about the discoloration of the water.
When an official from the Genesee County Health Department (GCHD), Jim Henry, warned in a March 10, 2015 email that the dramatic increase in the occurrence of cases of Legionnaires’ disease, the deadly waterborne sickness, “closely corresponds with the timeframe of the switch to Flint River water,” Brad Wurfel, now-resigned Communications Director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), responded by describing Henry to a governor’s office staffer as “beyond irresponsible.” “Getting away from DWSD and getting towards a quasi-private operation was the idea all along,” Steve Paraski, a former DWSD Master Plumber, told the WSWS. “The KWA is just a front for Veolia North America and Veolia is a big-time Jones Day client.”
Henry’s email from March 10 referred to previous GCHD “verbal and written requests for specific information since October, 2014, including a Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request on January 27, 2015.” Henry goes on to note, “The information still has not been received and the city’s lack of cooperation continues to prevent my office from performing our responsibilities.”President Obama, whose appointee at the Environmental Protection Agency was complicit in covering up the lead poisoning of Flint residents, has deliberately pushed for the privatization of essential social services, from public education to water systems. While handing trillions to Wall Street and the Pentagon, the administration has systematically starved states and municipalities of federal funding, forcing them deeper and deeper into debt. The administration then promotes “Public Private Partnerships” to begin the process of privatization.
It is highly unusual that Henry would resort to the FOIA to obtain information from an agency that is supposedly collaborating in the interest of protecting public health. Dr. Marc Edwards notes on his website that “The fact that GCHD felt obligated to use FOIA to get information, normally shared freely between health agencies, speaks to a new level of dysfunction beyond anything previously exposed.” -Emails reveal Michigan governor’s staffer knew about Flint Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in March 2015
-Questions emerge over motives behind ending Flint’s ties to Detroit water system
The earlier it gets started blame-shifting:Various media shills for the Democratic Party are attempting to deflect criticism by placing blame for the disaster solely on the Republican governor.
While the Republican governor played a leading role in this crime, he was not alone. According to one email, former Democratic State Treasurer Andy Dillon made the “ultimate decision” to permit the city of Flint to leave the Detroit water system and begin drawing from the polluted Flint River. This proved to be a catastrophe for the city’s residents, with the corrosive river water causing lead to leach from the city’s antiquated pipes, poisoning the city’s residents, including highly vulnerable children.The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), staffed by Obama administration appointees, also played a key role in the cover-up of lead poisoning. As for the EPA’s top official, Gina McCarthy, she defended the agency’s role, claiming the EPA “did its job.”
Just as criminal as the role of the Snyder administration were the actions of Obama-appointed officials in the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The top EPA official for Michigan, Susan Hedman, silenced a lower-ranking employee [Regulations Manager Miguel Del Toral] who tried to raise warnings about lead in Flint’s drinking water. Instead Hedman colluded with state officials to keep reports of elevated lead levels from the public for months, until Edwards’ research exploded the cover-up. -Hillary Clinton covers for Obama and Democrats in Flint water crisis
National EPA Director Gina McCarthy, an Obama appointee, appeared for the first time in Flint at a February 2 EPA press conference. When a World Socialist Web Site reporter asked her directly about the quashing of the Del Toral memo, she lied, insisting the lead-in-water expert had not been silenced.
The significance of the cover-up for the EPA by the Democratic Party establishment is vast.
The atmosphere Del Toral describes in the EPA is not simply the product of bureaucratic indifference by this or that functionary. It is an expression of the decades of deregulation and defunding by both the Democrats and Republicans, which have transformed the character of these governmental agencies that once exercised at least a modicum of oversight over the rapacious activities of big business.
These bodies, from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), set up in 1927 to monitor quality and prices of food products and pharmaceuticals; the Securities and Exchange Commission, (1934), to oversee and regulate the financial operations of banks, the stock market and investment banks; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), (1958), to regulate practices and prices of commercial airlines; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the EPA, both set up in 1970, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration MSHA, (1977), all fall under the executive branch of government, i.e., under the President.
Over the last four decades, successive governments from Reagan to Obama have slashed funding to these agencies and promoted “free-market” policies that have eviscerated any real check on the relentless drive for profits at the expense of the health, safety and living standards of working people. In many cases, former corporate executives or bought-and-sold trade union officials have been put in charge of “regulating” such operations, leading to the predictable spread of disease, occupational deaths and, of course, the reckless speculation that led to the 2008 financial crash. -Newly-released email details complicity of Obama’s EPA in Flint poisoning
Over the last weeks, it has emerged that lead poisoning of the population through the water systems is not isolated to Flint, but is a national phenomenon. In the state of Ohio, lead levels in the blood of children are high in many areas of the state. In the village of Sebring, Ohio, near the deindustrialized city of Youngstown, it has recently been made public that state water quality officials kept quiet for months when they knew that residents had lead-tainted water flowing through their taps. -Democrats cover up role of Obama administration in Flint water crisis
Despite this defense of the agency’s criminal actions in abetting the poisoning of Flint’s population, Obama has not sought McCarthy’s resignation or accepted any responsibility for the crisis. Instead he and other Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have attempted to shift all blame onto the shoulders of the Republican governor. -Democratic state treasurer played key role in Flint water disasterDillon was not the only Democratic politician involved in the poisoning of Flint residents. Both the mayor of Flint and members of the City Council were Democrats. They gave their political support to the decision to switch to Flint River water. They joined with state officials in stonewalling the bitter complaints of city residents over discolored, foul-tasting water.
Manwhile, Democratic Party politicians have been scrambling to distance themselves from the disaster.
-State workers in Flint supplied with bottled water one year prior to acknowledgement of crisis
The sooner it can resume plundering the working class.Kenneth Feinberg, the Obama administration’s appointee to oversee the pension cuts, held a hearing on behalf of the Treasury Department in Detroit Monday to hear objections to the plan to slash the pension benefits of some 270,000 retired truck drivers, package handlers and other members of the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund.
The Democratic Party has also made attacks on pensions and retirements a central plank of its program, to the point that former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn said he was “put on earth” to cut pensions. This stand on pensions played no small role in Rauner’s election as governor, with working class disgust severely limiting turnout on behalf of Quinn, who the party nonetheless put up for reelection. This was at least partly motivated by the idea that the Democrats needed a Republican governor as a foil to make them appear oppositional.This overwhelming opposition by pensioners does not matter, according to Feinberg. When asked by the World Socialist Web Site after the hearing what would happen if workers voted down the proposed pension cuts, Feinberg said he had the prerogative to impose pension cuts regardless. The law Feinberg was referring to is the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, passed by Congress in December 2014 with virtually no public discussion as part of an omnibus appropriations bill.
After decades of collaborating with both big business parties in undermining the jobs and living standards of state and city workers, the unions have also sought to patch up their credibility by posing as opponents of the Republican governor. -Obama urges Illinois legislature to adopt bipartisan plan for austerityActing on this law, in October 2015 the Teamsters Central States Pension Fund unveiled its plans to cut the benefits of workers it covers. That law is itself the outcome of a February 2013 proposal, entitled “Solutions not Bailouts,” from the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, composed of major corporations and unions. The document lists among its signatories the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), both of which have since sought to publicly distance themselves from the pension-cutting bill.
In the immediate aftermath of the bank bailout [during the 2008 financial crisis], Obama-appointed mediator Kenneth Feinberg rubber-stamped multimillion-dollar bonuses to executives at firms that had received billions of dollars in bailout funds, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Having performed this service for the US financial oligarchy, Feinberg was last month appointed by the Obama administration to oversee the slashing of pension benefits of retirees at multiemployer pension funds. Feinberg will be given unilateral authority to impose benefit cuts on workers who vote against proposals to slash their benefits. -Top bankers’ pay rose 17 percent in 2014In 2009, the Obama administration justified giving multi-million-dollar bonuses to executives at American International Group, which had received a $185 billion bailout from the federal government, on the grounds that contractual obligations were sacrosanct and could not be abridged by the government. Asked by the World Socialist Web Site whether he would use a similar approach with regard to workers’ pensions, Feinberg declared that he never approved multi-million-dollar bonuses to Wall Street executives.
Workers must realize that all of the official institutions, including both major political parties, the courts and the media, are instruments of the financial oligarchy and are rigged against them.
The past month has seen Detroit teachers organizing job actions over horrible conditions in the schools in defiance of their union, the Detroit Federation of Teachers. Meanwhile, residents of Flint, Michigan, are mounting protests against local, state and federal authorities who covered up the lead poisoning of 100,000 people in the city. -UAW President Dennis Williams denounces role of “outside groups” in 2015 auto contract negotiations
Sanders’ selection of the UAW union hall—and in particular, Local 600—for his remarks is of some significance. Only three months before, 140,000 autoworkers, including 52,000 workers at Ford, were locked in a battle not only against the giant automakers but the UAW itself. The UAW was only able to push through pro-company labor agreements at Fiat Chrysler, GM and Ford by resorting to lies, intimidation and outright fraud.
What brings the UAW and Sanders together? Like the rest of the Democratic Party, Sanders understands that the unions play a critical role in containing and suppressing the class struggle and keeping political opposition bottled up within the Democratic Party. The aim of the Sanders’ campaign and its rhetoric about a “rigged economy” and “corrupt political system” is to rebrand the Democrats and prevent workers from breaking with this big-business party and fighting for far more radical, i.e., genuinely anti-capitalist and socialist solutions, to their problems. -In Detroit visit, Sanders promotes the UAW and economic nationalism
It is not a matter of appealing to the politicians or courts, but rather of independently mobilizing the immense social power of the working class, both within the United States and internationally. -The looting of US workers’ pensionsTo be successful, these struggles cannot be conducted as disparate and sectional battles. Even as Detroit teachers are being made the scapegoats for the ruling class policy of starving and dismantling the public schools and Flint residents are being poisoned as part of the corporate drive to privatize the water system, tens of thousands of impoverished households are having their water and utilities shut off for failure to pay exorbitant rates.
This is a class struggle, and we must wage it as a class struggle. It is also a political struggle against not just one company or one politician or party, but against the capitalist system as a whole.
-After sickouts, what is the way forward for Detroit teachers?
The hearing, which took place at Wayne State University, drew an overflow crowd at a 500-seat lecture hall, with up to 1,000 people participating in total. With the exception of the World Socialist Web Site, the media ignored the event, [as it does with most social crises and disasters] with no US video crews present. -White House pushes ahead with plan to slash pensions for up to one million retirees
The latest job action follows the appearance of a baiting editorial in the Detroit News over the weekend, headlined, “It’s time to dump Detroit Public Schools,” that called for essentially scrapping public education and the introduction of a voucher system. -Teacher sickout shuts Detroit Public Schools
There is a well-known film, Cool Hand Luke, which was made in 1967, starring Paul Newman. It is set in a southern prison camp. The prisoners are watched by rifle-toting guards as they toil in miserable conditions unshielded from the burning sun. They are ruled over by a mad and sadistic warden. He responds to every expression of discontent and resistance with savage violence.
They [those in authority] acted as if they believed only one thing: that force and force alone governed. -Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter -114And after administering a beating, the warden, affecting a tone of compassion and reasonableness, declaims before the horrified prisoners who witnessed the bloody episode: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate!”
It is certainly true that the American people “are not inherently more prone to violence.” But what about the American ruling class, the “we” for whom Obama actually speaks? -Crocodile tears from the commander-in-chiefThis phrase could serve as Obama’s motto. The problem, as he sees it, is not the spying, but the public’s reaction to it.
A state that has organized wars in every region of the globe, invariably justified on the basis of defending human rights, employs the most brutal forms of repression against opposition within its borders. While associating himself with a decision giving police a license to kill, Obama declared, referring to protesters, that there is “never an excuse for violence.” -Political lessons of the Ferguson whitewashThus, what is required is not an end to the criminal behavior of the state, but, rather, better communication techniques.
-Obama, the secrets of the state, and the persecution of Edward SnowdenCan You Hear Me Now??In June 2014, UC Davis contracted with the PR firm IDMLOCO for $82,500 to design a “comprehensive search engine results management strategy.” IDMLOCO promised to create a “reasonable balance of positive natural search results.”
Apparently after achieving some success, the company was awarded two more contracts last year—one in February 2015 for up to $96,000 and another in September for up to $67,500. As part of these deals, the company agreed to create an “integrated social media program for executive communications.”
The firm also stated that its “primary goal” was to “achieve a reasonable balance of positive natural search results on common terms concerning UC Davis and Chancellor Katehi.”
Financing for these lucrative contracts came from UC Davis’ strategic communications department, whose budget increased under Katehi from $2.93 million in 2009 to $5.47 million in 2015.
-University of California, Davis pays $175,000 to erase pepper spraying incident from Internet
I gave the clinic's assistant director the "quick" answer, "Maybe they don't like me." She had asked me why I thought the people at San Diego's Health and Human Services (HHS) were deliberately denying me access to Medi-Cal.This is entirely in keeping with the Obama administration’s record on democratic rights.
These efforts are a continuation of the policy of the American ruling class since the beginning of the “war on terror,” now in its 15th year. Democratic rights—including the Fourth Amendment safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures—have been under relentless assault under cover of a phony crusade against terrorism. First Bush and then Obama have overseen an immense expansion of state powers to spy on the population. -The assault on encryption and the drive to expand police state spyingThe Obama White House has carried out twice as many prosecutions of reporters and whistleblowers for leaking classified information than all previous administrations combined, including the jailing of Chelsea Manning and the witch hunts of Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Earlier today I was at the Logan Heights Clinic waiting for my scheduled doctor's appointment when the receptionist called me up and told me I would need to pay $25 first. When I told her I didn't have $25 she asked me if I wanted to cancel the appointment then. When she added that my "homeless grant" had run out, I asked her, "Why would the doctor schedule me for another appointment if the homeless grant had run out?" She said I was supposed to have applied for Medi-Cal after the last visit.The Obama White House has refused to prosecute those within the Bush administration responsible for torture, and instead conspired with CIA Director John Brennan, whom Obama appointed, to suppress the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report. The administration then defended Brennan when his hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee staffers’ computers was exposed.
So I went downstairs to the clinic's lobby and asked the receptionist there if I could speak with the director. That person was not available so he put me in touch with the assistant director. After telling her that I was homeless and didn't have $25 and explaining the four attempts I've already made to get Medi-Cal, she asked me if I had the application I filled out during one of those attempts last October (where HHS refused to let me turn the application in). When I dug it out of my backpack, a little yellowed from the elements but otherwise none the worse for wear, she brought me into the room where they handle Medi-Cal applications. I gave the application to one of the case-workers there and she went and got a fresh one and we spent less than 5 minutes filling it out before she faxed it to HHS.This is in addition to having been the first president to claim the right to kill American citizens, including inside the borders of the United States, without a trial. To date, the White House’s drone murder program has led to the deaths of thousands of people in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries, including at least four American citizens.
-White House steps up drive to outlaw encryption
This is the 5th time I've tried to reapply for Medi-Cal. No one knows what's going to happen.I read your document and it’s astonishing. These practices go beyond accident, beyond negligence. If I’m interpreting it correctly, this is deliberate concealment of lead in drinking water as essentially unofficial government policy. Is that correct?
"It’s this institutional scientific misconduct where, if you have unethical, corrupt scientists and engineers running your agency, you don’t care about the truth, or data, or science integrity. You care about abusing and keeping your power, first and foremost. So no one ever really anticipated that people would do this with no profit motive whatsoever, to poison little kids when it’s their job to protect us. So there’s obviously something seriously wrong with these agencies where we’d actually be better off without them, frankly."
"If I lived in Flint or Detroit, I would have a hard time believing it was not related to the emergency manager or racially motivated, because the behavior is so outrageous. But I saw the exact same thing happen in these other cities. And as remarkable as it is, and as unbelievable as it is, I therefore conclude it’s something even worse, frankly, than racism."
What would you think that would be?
"It’s this culture of corruption where they’re not going to do the job they’re paid to do. And how can you force them to do a job that they’re paid to do if they don’t want to do it? No one ever anticipated such a thing. There’s no check and balance. When I found CDC engaged in scientific misconduct in 2004 and Congress reamed them, they just responded by writing another falsified report.
The Flint mother [LeeAnne Walters ] noted that federal agencies, particularly the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), have been downplaying the importance of lead in drinking water for decades, focusing almost exclusively on lead in paint and dust. This attitude toward public water systems was a significant factor in the lead poisoning of Washington, DC from 2001 to 2005 and contributed to the culture within agencies tasked to protect drinking water safety that has been exposed in the Flint events. -Democrats cover up role of Obama administration in Flint water crisisSo what are you going to do when no one ever thought such a thing would happen? We don’t have a check and balance on their power."
-An interview with Professor Marc Edwards on the Flint water crisis
I have to start checking my EBT mail drop box in about two weeks, every two weeks in case the HHS sends me correspondence regarding my application. In the meantime, the assistant director assured me another homeless grant will cover my rescheduled doctor's appointment which will be next Tuesday.In his monumental Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, Marx wrote:
The bureaucracy has the state, the spiritual essence of society, in its possession, as its private property. The general spirit of the bureaucracy is the secret, the mystery preserved within itself by the hierarchy and against the outside world by being a closed corporation. Avowed political spirit, as also political-mindedness, therefore appears to the bureaucracy as treason against its mystery. Hence, authority is the basis of its knowledge, and the deification of authority is its conviction.
-Obama, the secrets of the state, and the persecution of Edward Snowden
To get back to the assistant director's question, the slightly longer answer is that this follows a systematic pattern
demonstrating how the ruling class, through the state bureaucracy such as HHS or the police
, the jails
, the courts
, the public libraries
, the museums
, the parks
, "communicates" with the poor and working class. And what happens when they discern a failure to communicate.Since 2013, Obama has overseen a staggering increase in police violence in the US and the distribution of military-grade weaponry and vehicles to domestic police departments, including those used in Ferguson, Missouri against protests over the 2014 police murder of Michael Brown.
-Three shot, two killed by Chicago police in one dayThe role of government officials in Minnesota follows the pattern of a number of killings, such as that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, where the state intervened in an effort to protect the police from legal consequences. In Minnesota, these actions are not the product of extreme right-wing politicians, but those of Democratic administrations in both the state and local government which promote identity politics. Dayton, along with the Democratic Mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges, both oppose the immediate release of the video footage related to the Clark shooting. Dayton said it would jeopardize an ongoing investigation.
-Police suppress protest at Mall of America over recent police killing in Minneapolis
I think that's why the HHS case worker insisted that I sign the affidavit when I was reapplying for EBT (food Stamps). The cops and the powers that be at HHS were communicating to me that they work together. As they see it, the problem is not their abuse of power
, but my reaction to it.The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) debt, which was incessantly cited by Orr as an example of the city’s mismanagement, was a direct product of bondholders bleeding of the “cash cow” of the DWSD. For example, hundreds of millions of dollars in “penalties” were extracted from the city in a credit default swap deal, which the bankruptcy judge Rhodes acknowledged was likely illegal, yet the perpetrators still had to be paid off. These costs are in effect, charged to the city’s ratepayers. The establishment of a new regional water system, the Great Lakes Water Authority, provides the legal pretext to undermine anything that was left of protections for the populace from being gouged by profiteers.
Aaron came from Lansing to attend the protest. He is with the environmental group Clean Water Action. He said, “It is something I personally care about. Healthy and safe water is a human right.” -Jesse Jackson promotes Democratic Party at Flint rally
To add insult to injury, residents are still being charged hundreds of dollars for the poisoned water and many are being threatened with shutoffs for past due bills. The poisoning of the population in the former manufacturing center for General Motors—and the cover-up by state officials—highlights the socially destructive character of American capitalism. -Lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan
The FWW survey compares rates based on an average household usage of 60,000 gallons a year. On that basis, Flint’s rates are calculated at $864 a year. This week’s Food and Water Watch report pointed out that privatized systems charge on average 58 percent higher rates than publicly owned water systems. “We are seeing a greater trend toward running utilities as business entities,” one of the report’s authors, Mary Grant, told the World Socialist Web Site. “Appointed officials are replacing elected officials who once made decisions based on constituents,” she said. ” -Despite lead poisoning, Flint water rates highest in USIn September 2014, US bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who oversaw the Detroit proceedings, famously answered the widespread outrage over water shutoffs that “there is no such right or law” that protects people from being deprived of water ["Just as there is no such affordable right to other necessities of life such as shelter, food and medical care,” he said.].
-Thousands forced to live without water in Detroit
American warplanes and drones swarm the Middle East and North Africa, bombing, killing and maiming indiscriminately and driving millions from their homes. President Obama, according to press reports, will spend his holiday mulling over plans to further expand bombing in populated areas in Syria, which will radically expand civilian casualties. Every major combatant in the first two world wars is again on the warpath. Germany and Japan, are feverishly remilitarizing to assert their influence on the European continent and in East Asia, respectively.
Criticism of the treatment of refugees in Berlin has been growing. The words “Lageso” (Berlin state agency for health and social care) and “hangars” for the mass internment camps in the heart of the city have become by-words for arbitrary bureaucracy and anti-refugee chauvinism. It is becoming increasingly clear that the deplorable conditions at Lageso and in mass accommodation camps are deliberate and aimed at deterring other refugees. -Refugees confront misery in Berlin
The millions of human beings displaced by war and poverty are greeted by states everywhere with barbed wire and guns. At least five million people were forced to flee from their homes this year, with one million seeking refuge in Europe, as a result of the wars in the Middle East stoked up by the Western powers. These same powers, the self-styled bastions of tolerance and human rights, have responded to the flood of people desperately in need of aid by closing off their external borders and forcing hundreds of thousands to make their way over the Aegean Sea. Over 3,000 people have died this year seeking to cross into Europe by this route, while over 1,000 of these are children. -No “peace on Earth” in 2015
The issue has come to the courts once again because of the protests, including hunger strikes, by mothers imprisoned with their children in these illegal and abusive camps [massive new detention centers—run for profit by private prison corporations]. Treating refugees seeking asylum like criminals and locking up traumatized children is Obama’s method for dissuading other Central Americans from attempting to reach the US.
Most of those targeted are women and children who have sought to escape gang attacks, drug-related violence and brutality by US-backed security services in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The DHS move against Central American refugees is a green light to Trump and other ultra-right anti-immigrant forces, and Trump quickly embraced the proposed raids as a triumph for his campaign. -Obama administration prepares raids on Central American immigrants
Also crafted as a deterrent is the militarization of much of the US border, forcing migrants into ever more hostile territory, where many die. These deaths, like those in the Mediterranean, are meant to “send a message. ” -The worldwide persecution of refugeesUpdate Thursday January 7th, 2016The RMP (the new Restaurant Meals Program) was officially launched for eligible recipients in February 2013. As part of Live Well, San Diego! and our efforts to support positive, healthy choices, the RMP offers options for individuals who may have difficulty preparing meals for themselves or do not have a place to store and cook food.
The RMP allows elderly, disabled and homeless individuals and their spouses receiving benefits to use their Golden State Advantage (EBT) cards to purchase meals from participating restaurants. For all other CalFresh recipients, the federal rules preventing the purchase of prepared food still apply.
-San Diego HHS Restaurant Meals Program
Earlier this morning at 9am, the Empire strikes back. I had ordered a coffee and chicken nuggets at the downtown Burger King with my EBT (food stamps) card when the girl behind the counter took the coffee back after having just placed it on the counter. She told me my EBT card was being declined. When I told her I was sure I had enough money on it to buy the coffee and nuggets she showed me the receipt that had printed out telling her to tell me to contact the offices at HHS."We have focused those enforcement efforts on high priority issues we’ve identified. That primarily is criminals as you might expect…" Far from being “criminals,” those targeted by the raids are mothers and children fleeing drug gangs and right-wing military death squads in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, all countries ruled by US-backed regimes that uphold the economic and political interests of local oligarchies.
Following the deportation of children and mothers and the breakup of entire families, a spectacle that disgusted the entire world, Obama sought to advance a new public relations strategy at the end of 2014. From then on, the immigration system was to target criminals, not families, declared the President who promised “change. ” -Report documents pervasive use of excessive force by US Border Patrol agentsThe 121 detentions are only the tip of the iceberg. Press reports said some 10,000 women and children are to be targeted in the first round of sweeps this winter, while as many as 100,000—all those who have entered the country since early 2014 and who have not been granted official refugee status—could ultimately fall victim to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Clinton postured as the most qualified to occupy the position of “commander-in-chief” based on her “many hours in the situation room, advising President Obama.” This record includes her role in orchestrating the right-wing 2009 coup in Honduras, which plunged that country into unprecedented repression and violence, contributing to the waves of refugees heading to the US border.” -Sanders in the Democratic debate: A “political revolution” that stops at the water’s edgeThe raids have been deliberately staged to produce widespread fear. In several instances in Georgia, for example, mothers have been taken from their homes in the middle of the night, having been given five minutes to pack their children’s belongings.
As the Post noted, “A group of 140 House Democrats sent a letter to Obama demanding that he halt the operations, and the three major candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, including Hillary Clinton, have denounced the raids.”
She then cynically made an appeal to the plight of undocumented immigrants. “When I met a terrified little girl in Nevada who burst into tears because she worried her parents would be deported,” she said, “it hit me right in the gut. I knew how hard-working her parents were. I knew the sacrifices they were making so that she could have a better life.”
In point of fact, in 2014, with a growing number of Central American refugees arriving on the US border, Clinton wholeheartedly endorsed mass deportations of children. “We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay,” she said then. -Supreme Court to rule on Obama immigration program
Clinton herself, one might add, is directly responsible for the current instability in Central America. In 2009, Clinton played a central role in the coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, resulting in a brutal crackdown that forced countless thousands of children and adults to flee the country, many to the United States. In her autobiography, she openly boasted of her “plan to restore order in Honduras … which would render the question of Zelaya moot.” -Clinton’s speech at Temple University: A desperate appeal to young votersSo much for Obama’s supposed compassion for children, which was on display only last Tuesday when, announcing measures to curb gun violence, Obama shed tears for the TV cameras over the 2012 death of first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School!
-Obama rejects pleas to halt deportations
It just so happened that the San Diego HHS has one of its offices downtown right around the corner from the Burger King so I walked over there. I was familiar with this office because it is where I had originally signed up for EBT in 2012 and where I renewed my EBT in 2013. Then in 2014 I was assigned to a caseworker in another office away from downtown (at the office down near St. Vinny's) even though the downtown office was closer to where I sleep at night and more convenient for me to get to, especially in the mornings.Courts dealing with eviction orders tend to show less mercy to families with children, such as the Meyers.
“Children do not shield families from eviction, but rather they often expose them to it,” Desmond wrote for the November 2015 issue of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin. “If a tenant in eviction court lives with children, her or his odds of receiving an eviction judgment almost triple, even after taking into account how much is owed to the landlord, household income and several other key factors. ”
-Pennsylvania constable shoots dead 12-year-old girl during home eviction
District Attorney Andrew Bender last Thursday cleared Constable Clark Steele, who shot the girl, of any wrongdoing. Donald Meyer protested the charge. “They’re responsible for the murder and shooting of my daughter and me, and now it’s a big cover up,” he said. “They’re charging me with a felony for protecting my family?”
According to a report Wednesday in the Detroit News, while family homes comprise little more than one half of the reported $119 million in past due water bills, they account for nearly all of the water shutoffs. -Mass water shutoffs continue in Detroit, Michigan
Some news sources, including CNN, have falsely reported that Steele came that morning to the family’s apartment to serve an “eviction notice.” In fact, Steele had come to physically remove the family. The low temperature that day was 19 degrees, and 12-year-old Ciara was suffering from bronchitis.” -Father of girl killed by Pennsylvania cop charged with murder
The same Congress had no difficulty in approving hundreds of billions in military spending. The $2 billion proposed for Zika is equivalent to the amount spent to purchase a single Virginia Class nuclear submarine or two stealth bombers. However, there is supposedly no more money that can be allocated to protect mothers, infants and others from the tragic consequences of the Zika virus.” -Zika, social inequality and capitalism
When I got to the downtown HHS office a guard searched very thoroughly through my backpack, opening up each compartment and taking some things out and reaching his hand in feeling around through the backpack before instructing me to go through the metal detector. After that, when I stepped into the waiting room area, right away I noticed the absence of bedlam.Isaacs describes a case in which he was involved. A female detainee confided that she was raped by a cleaner, only to be described by a psychologist as having “dressed provocatively.” Isaac says this “victim-blaming approach typified how many International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) staff had come to see people seeking asylum as guilty and unworthy of normal human consideration.” ”
-Doctor challenges Australian government over refugee conditions on Nauru
At the HHS office I now have to go to, every time it looks like the waiting area in an airport during a storm. It's crowded and people are strewn all over the chairs in a way that suggests they've been waiting for a very long time. And the first thing you have to do is get a number and then wait for it to be called.During the vast majority of his incarceration in Angola, Woodfox was held alone for 23 hours a day in a six-foot-by-eight-foot cell, with the view through metal bars of only a concrete corridor. He was allowed only one hour a day outside the cell, in order to shower, walk up and down the corridor, or have an isolated walk in the exercise yard.
Prison authorities have made the spurious claim that such conditions do not constitute true solitary confinement, as Woodfox and others have been allowed limited conversation with other inmates through the bars. But there is no other reasonable way to define this type of incarceration, which serves no other purpose than vindictive retribution by means of isolation and sensory deprivation amounting to psychological torture.
Such prolonged solitary confinement had been largely abandoned in the US at the turn of the century. However, by the 1970s, federal and state authorities began to adopt the practice on a widespread basis, having abandoned any pretense of prisons serving as places of rehabilitation.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, as prisons were filled with victims of mandatory sentencing and “tough on crime” laws, solitary confinement became one of the means to control and punish this growing population. Among the 2.2 million people in America’s prisons and jails today, there are more than 80,000 men, women and children in solitary confinement, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
A 2003 Human Rights Watch report found that anywhere from one-fifth to two-thirds of these prisoners are believed to have some form of mental illness, many of them finding themselves in prison as mental health facilities shut their doors, particularly to workers and the poor.”
- “Angola 3” prisoner Albert Woodfox released after 45 years
At the downtown office there were about 12 people seated and 3 people waiting in line to speak with someone at one of the windows. I noticed none of those 15 or so people had backpacks or appeared to be homeless.
During the decade between 2005 and 2015, seven years of which Obama was president, all net job growth was accounted for by people working in “alternative work arrangements,” or those working as independent contractors, temps, through contract agencies or on-call. In 2013, a typical American household had 40 percent less wealth than it did in 2007. The yearly income of a typical US household dropped by a massive 12 percent, or $6,400, in the six years between 2007 and 2013.Hundreds of Social Security recipients in eastern Kentucky are threatened with the loss of their federal disability benefits in the new year, nearly a year after some 1,500 people were ordered to attend hearings to re-certify their eligibility. Around 1,000 disability recipients have no legal representation for their re-certification hearings, and Attorney Ned Pillersdorf said it was likely that they could lose their cases as a result.
Obama’s comments were a continuation of a theme laid out by Obama in March, when he declared “America is pretty darn great right now” and disparaged “an alternative reality out there from some of the political folks that America is down in the dumps.” The problem according to Obama, channeling the sadistic prison warden in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, is a “failure to communicate.”There is no evidence that individuals whose benefits have been suspended are committing fraud. In many cases, the claimants are former workers in coal and lumber, physically demanding industries that have high rates of injuries and chronic conditions. “Never have so many economically vulnerable people, in one of the most economically distressed areas of our nation, had to endure as much turmoil, economic uncertainty, suicides and distress,” Pillersdorf commented in a court motion.
-Kentucky Social Security recipients commit suicide after benefits cut
Suicide and mortality rates are soaring, while life expectancy is falling for a significant share of the population. Drug overdoses are becoming an epidemic, and the gap between the expected lifespan of the top and bottom 1 percent has reached nearly 15 years. -Obama touts an economic "legacy" of inequality and poverty
Significantly, ABC reports that of Democratic primary voters polled, only a quarter “want the next president to continue Obama’s policies,” a position closely associated with Hillary Clinton.
The liberal establishment, which contemptuously presents the Appalachian coalfields as a hotbed of racism, has portrayed both Clinton’s fall in popularity and the votes for Trump as evidence of the hopeless backwardness of the white working class population. -Sanders defeats Clinton in West Virginia primary by large margin
Waiting in line it only took a few minutes before I got to speak with someone and explain what happened at the Burger King. The woman behind the window couldn't explain what was happening and had to call over her supervisor. After a few minutes the supervisor told me there was a "glitch" with my EBT card that was preventing me from using it for the hot meals program (see quote above) at Burger King.Working class men and women in their 20s and 30s, who 50 years ago would have had a chance at employment in a decent-paying job, now face conditions where long-term unemployment is pervasive and wages are stagnant and plunging. They have lived their entire lives under the ruling-class offensive—aided and abetted by the trade unions—that has relentlessly driven down wages and dismantled social services.
The dramatic growth in poverty and associated social problems over the last 15 years is not the outcome of merely abstract economic processes, as Obama is wont to claim. Rather it is the result of deliberate bipartisan policy decisions carried out by Republicans and Democrats alike, from Bill Clinton’s ending of welfare, to George W. Bush’s massive tax cuts, through Obamacare and the halving of autoworkers’ wages through the 2009 restructuring. Even as millions have been driven into poverty, trillions of dollars have been wasted on wars of aggression and plunder in the Middle East and Central Asia. -The reality of poverty in America: SEP candidate replies to Obama’s “frustration” over social discontentThe ruling class and its political representatives have no solution to the overdose epidemic because they are responsible for the economic and social reality that is devastating communities across the country. While there is much handwringing in these circles over the lives lost to drug abuse, it is approached as simply a personal mental health issue.
-Drug overdoses in US drive sharp rise in mortality rates among white young adults
I explained to the supervisor that I had been using the card for years (in fact I got signed up for the hot meals program at the very same downtown office when I renewed my EBT in 2013) at participating fast food restaurants and in fact I had used it at the very same Burger King just yesterday
. Not to mention the fact that I just got my EBT renewed last October (at the other office). The supervisor told me I'd have to see someone about it at the other office because that was where my caseworker was assigned.The action is the latest effort on the part of MFA management to reduce staffing and eliminate flexible working hours for the museum’s approximately 95 guards, making it impossible for many union members to keep their jobs. While management is seeking to impose its vindictive agenda on the guards, the MFA has had a banner year, with more than 1,227,000 visitors in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. The value of its endowment as of June 2015 was $597 million, an 8 percent growth over the previous year, with a budget surplus of $2.7 million.
-Boston: Museum of Fine Arts victimizes veteran worker
So I left. I don't plan on trying to see someone about it at the other office. At the very least I'd have to take a ticket and wait an hour before even talking to someone. And truth be told, I don't use my EBT at places like Burger King or Wendy's because they're all just too expensive. (The Jack-in-the-box restaurants are much more reasonably priced but they don't participate in the program.)While the $400-a-ticket charity gala at the auto show this Friday will be the occasion for the wealthy glitterati to show off the latest fashions, furs and jewelry, just blocks away, the city’s children are packed into classrooms with 45-50 students in ice-cold, rat- and roach-infested school buildings that have leaking roofs and black mold.
The reason why I had used the card at Burger King yesterday and this morning was that I had been waiting since 5:30 am for it to open (at 9 am) to get out of the rain. And to buy the hot coffee and nuggets. (the 7-11s are always open, but you can't buy hot coffee with an EBT card.)Sixty miles away, the residents of Flint, Michigan, a devastated and deindustrialized former center of GM production, have had their water supply poisoned by lead due to the criminal actions of the city’s former emergency manager, Darnell Earley, the very same bankers’ puppet chosen by Governor Snyder to exercise dictatorial powers over the Detroit schools.
-The Detroit teachers’ fight to defend public education
The conclusion of her decade-long struggle is especially devastating in the context of the crisis in Flint. “The major government agencies have been deceiving us about this problem. We have allowed the industry to dictate the conditions of public health.” -Parents fighting lead poisoning denounce government inaction and lies
So much for "the support of positive, healthy choices".
In another development, the US Department of Agriculture rejected a request by Snyder to extend the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to Flint residents up to the age of 10. A department spokesperson said federal law limited the program to children under age five. The program provides grants to states for supplemental foods, health referrals and nutrition information to pregnant and postpartum women with infant children. Health professionals say proper nutrition is important in mitigating the long-term effects of lead poisoning in children. -Report: Flint lead filters provide inadequate protection for residentsThe catastrophe will have a “multigenerational impact,” according to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Flint Hurley Medical Center’s pediatric residency program, who revealed the doubling and tripling of lead in the blood of city children since April 2014.
A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson, Angela Minicuci, immediately responded, saying “our data is not in line” with that of Hanna-Attisha, adding that the state’s data was more comprehensive and “much more accurate.” In an e-mail, Michigan governor Rick Snyder called the Hurley data “spliced and diced.” -Michigan political crisis over lead poisoning in FlintBecause exposure to lead can cause permanent neurological damage, Dr. Hanna-Attisha said, “In five years, these kids are going to have cognition problems. Seven to 10 years, they’re going to have behavioral problems.”
On Tuesday, the Detroit News reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency had indications as early as February that drinking water in the city of Flint was contaminated, but took no action to inform the population, even as state and local officials sought to publicly reassure residents that the water was safe to drink.Testing done by the state Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) of residents’ water was performed in a slipshod manner that minimized the levels of lead in the samples. When further tests showed lead levels above the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action levels, the results were statistically doctored to bring them under the EPA threshold. Even after the city’s remaining GM plant publicly made its own arrangement to reconnect to Detroit water because the city’s water was corroding its engine components, state and local officials continued to stonewall residents.
Even as government officials were forced to admit the scale of the disaster taking place in Flint, teachers in Detroit were engaged in a mass sick-out in defiance of their union that closed 60 schools, protesting dismal school conditions that left buildings covered in dangerous mold with huge gaps in flooring and no heat. The authorities have not organized a door-to-door campaign to distribute lead filters—only a third of the certified filters donated to the county have been distributed—nor are local, state or Obama administration officials doing anything to marshal the necessary human, financial and medical resources to address the crisis.
-Lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan
The conscious policy of deindustrialization begun in the late 1970s, which reduced cities throughout the country to rubble, was aimed at extracting trillions of dollars from American workers by slashing wages, raiding pensions and selling off assets. But more than pure greed was involved in these sociopathic measures. Flint was the scene of the powerful sit-down strike of 1936-37 and a symbol of the independent strength of the American working class. Its destruction was a form of cruel vengeance extracted by the ruling elite.
The site of the [November of 2004] massacre was Fallujah, Iraq. In that barbaric siege, US Marines turned an entire city into a free-fire zone after warning its inhabitants to leave. Men and boys, however, were turned back, forced to face an onslaught of napalm, cluster bombs, white phosphorus shells and other munitions that incinerated their victims and brought their homes crashing down upon them. Of the 50,000 Fallujans who were either unwilling or unable to flee, more than 6,000 lost their lives. Fully 60 percent of the city’s buildings were demolished or damaged.
After the illegal invasion of Iraq and overthrow of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, Fallujah was the scene of one of the first widely reported crimes by American troops against Iraqi civilians. Two hundred youth demanding the reopening of their school were fired on by troops of the US 82nd Airborne Division. Seventeen were murdered and over 70 wounded. -Fallujah: A symbol of US war crimes
Seven years later, the residents of Fallujah still pay a terrible price for the collective punishment inflicted upon them. They endure an epidemic of birth defects, childhood cancers and other ailments caused by depleted uranium shells and other ordnance dumped on the city. -Hillary Clinton and Middle East war crimes
Legend has it that when the ancient Romans sacked the city of Carthage, in addition to razing it to the ground, they salted the earth so that nothing would grow there again. This was done as retaliation for the defeats they had suffered at the hands of their great enemy, Hannibal.
Hanna-Attisha further discussed the deleterious effects of lead, especially on children and infants: “If you were to put something in the population to keep them down, now and for generations to come, it would be lead. It is a well-known, potent, irreversible neurotoxin. There is no safe level of lead for the CDC, for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Lead should never be in a child, and if it is in a child, you’ve messed up. It’s too late.”
What’s more, she pointed out that her data, which showed a staggering twofold increase in the number of Flint children with elevated blood lead levels, actually significantly underestimated the number of children exposed to lead. Lead screening tests are only conducted for children between the ages of one and two years, when they are most likely to be exposed to lead-based paint. With lead-tainted water, however, children are likely to be exposed much earlier, and many infants in the city had been drinking lead-laced formula for the first six months of their lives.
After noting that lead-based abortion pills were used in 19th century England, she said Flint residents likely have suffered miscarriages from lead exposure as well.
“What have we done to an entire population?” she asked.
-Hundreds attend University of Michigan talk on Flint water crisis
That story, describing the actions of a people who were among the cruelest in history, is as far as we can tell not true. But the American ruling class, filled with bitter hatred of the workers of Flint, not only reduced the city’s factories to rubble and its children to poverty, but poisoned its water supply.Update Monday March 7th, 2016Economic ApartheidWalters, a key figure in exposing the consistent cover-up by water quality officials, told the Huffington Post on Monday, “I hated Clinton’s answer. To tell a Flint resident that we’ll handle this in five years is no different than what the city was telling us and what the state was telling us.”
The disaster in Flint reveals the nature of the sociopaths and murderers among America’s billionaire financial oligarchs and their hired politicians and functionaries. -Flint, Michigan: Portrait of an American city
It was pouring rain again this morning so I stopped off at the downtown Burger King to see if I was still being blocked from the HHS hot meals program and sure enough I am. As I mentioned above, everything from basic freedoms such as going to the park, or the library or just getting a night's sleep etc.--even basic life
-necessities such as food and water are now seen by the ruling class not as rights but instead, nothing more than a useful means for communicating
with the poor and working class.
The horrific consequences for Flint residents of the decision by state and local officials to switch the city’s water source to the highly polluted Flint River has become a focal point for the indignation of working people throughout the country angered by deteriorating living conditions and a political system that is contemptuous of their needs. Thousands of children have been permanently affected by the lead poisoning and at least ten people have died as a result of diseases linked to the crisis. -The Flint water crisis and the US elections
Among the various corrupt chancellors and heads of American universities facing student demands for their resignation, Katehi is arguably the most deserving. In her ruthless careerism and pro-business policies, she personifies the transformation of public higher education in the US along corporate lines.
The 26 member UC Board of Regents are handpicked by the Governor to serve 12-year terms. Like the majority of the board, Napolitano has no experience in higher education. While governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, Napolitano oversaw $100 million in cuts from the Arizona State Universities and another $40 million from the state’s community colleges. Such was the extent of her previous experience overseeing higher education.
The Regents and UC administration are overseeing a virtual wrecking operation increasing tuition all while libraries, art centers, classes, and campus services are cut. The Regents are so widely despised by students, faculty and staff that the board has been forced to hold meetings in secret, as all publicly known meetings have been meet with protests.-University of California installs secret spyware system
In a statement issued upon the ending of their occupation, the students wrote, “The problem is not only with Linda Katehi and does not only reside at UC Davis. We are calling on students, workers, and faculty across the UC campuses and across the broader United States to speak out against their administrators and institutions that are placing pride and profit over students and workers.” -University of California, Davis pays $175,000 to erase pepper spraying incident from Internet
To wit, and speaking of libraries, later on in the day I was talking with another homeless person who told me the downtown San Diego Private (let's drop the pretense that it's public) Library wouldn't let him log on to the library's internet computer because he owed a fine on a book. He said he is however still able to log on to the internet at the branch libraries and that St Vinny's has made some internet computers available. Walters said Sanders’ response to her question—that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under his administration would monitor water safety—was “lame,” adding that this is what the EPA is already supposed to do.
He said he no longer even tries to use the library downtown.Neither Democratic Party candidate has any intention of investing in desperately needed infrastructure. They dare not cut across the agenda of the financial elite to amass greater and greater profits at the expense of the working class, and to dedicate obscene sums to the endless pursuit of technology and weapons for war.
I told him that's exactly what they want him to do. In fact, the ruling elite used to do the same thing 60 years or so ago in the South with a little thing called Jim Crow. It's a matter of history and the ruling elite's role in it repeating itself, but this time without the mask of racism.Food and Water Watch, the Washington DC-based advocate for public water, reports that federal water infrastructure spending has been cut by 74 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1977. Obama’s latest budget calls for another 11 percent cut.
-Democrats cover up role of Obama administration in Flint water crisis
from entry directly above-The orientation course, which covers German history and the German legal system, will now have 100 instead of 60 lessons. In the future, the orientation course will “contain content appropriate to the emphasis on teaching values.” Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière spelled out what this means, demanding that everyone who wants to live in Germany must “know German culture and accept our basic values. I expect respect, politeness and readiness to help from everyone.”
He implies that refugees lack “respect” and “readiness to help.” At the same time, the deterrence policy of the German government is responsible for the mass death of refugees in the Mediterranean, and this same government is seeing to it that people who are fleeing from war and persecution are held in deportation prisons and deported back to their countries of origin.
The federal government also wants to exploit the refugees in order to expand the low wage sector. It is planning to create 100,000 jobs for asylum seekers that will pay around €1 per hour. The example of the German €1 jobs shows that such forced labour measures almost never lead to a transition to the normal job market. In fact, this is not at all what the coalition government intends.
The remarks of Bavarian Social Minister Emilia Müller (CSU) underscored its real purpose when she tried to explain the “customs of the German working world” to refugees. In a racist tone, she explained that in this way asylum seekers would learn “important values like punctuality, responsibility and conscientiousness, on which our working world is based.”
In Bavaria, where the forced employment of refugees is already being practiced, asylum seekers who reject the work assigned to them are punished with cuts to social services. The human rights organization ProAsyl called the job market program “authoritarian integration pedagogy for refugees.”
-German government backs draconian refugee “integration” law
The rise of extreme-right and xenophobic violence is a direct result of the brutal refugee policy of the German government, which aims only at sealing off borders and deterrence. This is supported by all the state governments and established parties in Germany.Denying Food As A WeaponDetroit, which lies next to one of the largest bodies of fresh water on the planet, is resuming a policy that denies thousands access to one of the most basic requirements of life.
A hideous competition between the various state administrations can be witnessed as to who can be the “most effective” and most ruthless when it comes to deportations.
Hundreds of thousands of people are denied decent housing and proper treatment. This is meant to discourage others from coming to Germany, and at the same time is grist to the mill of the far-right parties and fanatics. -Drastic increase in far-right crimes in Germany
-Detroit, Michigan resumes mass water shutoffs
"You have to be accountable
for your actions."Obama’s statements are reminiscent of the declaration attributed to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France before the Revolution, upon hearing that the population of Paris could not afford bread: “Let them eat cake.” Obama declared instead: Let them drink lead (or eat lead-based paint)!
-Obama in Flint: Let them drink lead
That's what the women behind the counter admonished while I was at San Diego's Health and Human Services (HHS) office near St. Vinny's. I'm thinking, which actions? It is worthwhile in this context to look back at the paper published jointly by two social democratic heads of government, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, in 1999. Almost all of the social attacks that have taken place since then in Germany, Great Britain, Southern and Eastern Europe, Greece and now in France were outlined there.
In the paper, entitled “The Way Forward for Europe's Social Democrats,” Blair and Schröder call for the transformation of the “social safety net from entitlement to a springboard for personal responsibility.”
As we wrote at the time on the WSWS, the paper is “a list of social atrocities, which have become the standard repertoire of European economic, financial and social policy, is meticulously and approvingly catalogued. The authors take care to invoke every cliché: cuts in state expenditure; criteria of efficiency, competitiveness and performance for public services; adjustment of the social insurance system; encouragement of business; reductions in taxes on employers and property; flexibility ... and more flexibility.”
The chapter “An active labour market policy for the left” demanded, as the WSWS summarized, that “all social and political means are to be employed to encourage individual responsibility. The system of taxation and social payments are to be revamped to 'ensure that it works in the interests of the people'. Low-paid 'probationary jobs' should be subsidized by the government and all those receiving social payments should be evaluated according to their ability to earn their own living. In short, the paper advocates massive state pressure to force the acceptance of low-wage jobs that, in turn, serve to drive down wages as a whole.”
-The El Khomri law in France and the Schröder-Blair Paper
Earlier this morning, Wednesday May 4th I discovered at one of the downtown 7-11s that my EBT (food stamps) card balance was zero instead of the expected $194 that gets added to it on this day of the month.
Apparently San Diego's HHS has decided to implement a new policy regarding the provision of food stamps to homeless people which will now require homeless people to reapply and re-interview for benefits every 6 months instead of every year.
To that end, a reapplication form (SAR 7) had been mailed to my EBT mail dropbox but had not been returned by me by the indicated deadline. As a consequence, the woman behind the counter informed me, I "might" not be able to use my EBT card again for up to two weeks. But since this is a new policy, with regard to the two weeks, initially some leeway may be provided on a case by case basis.Criticism of the treatment of refugees in Berlin has been growing. The words “Lageso” (Berlin state agency for health and social care) and “hangars” for the mass internment camps in the heart of the city have become by-words for arbitrary bureaucracy and anti-refugee chauvinism. It is becoming increasingly clear that the deplorable conditions at Lageso and in mass accommodation camps are deliberate and aimed at deterring other refugees.
-Refugees confront misery in Berlin
But eventually going forward, miss the indicated deadline and it's no food for you. Beginning with the heading “fostering and requiring,” every line of the 15-point paper reeks with the stench of authoritarianism. The “fostering” means in practice that refuges will be restricted, controlled and threatened with the loss of their residence permits. The legislation exposes the fraudulent character of the official “welcoming culture” in Germany, because the planned measures will systematically marginalize refugees.
-German government backs draconian refugee “integration” law
I told the woman behind the counter that's draconian.
Thing is, even if the two-week hunger penalty is not applied (at first), what they will do (and have done if your miss one of their deadlines) is deduct from the measly EBT monthly allotment of $194 a pro-rated amount up to the day that your EBT card is reactivated.
So for me, since I get my monthly allotment on the 4th of every month, after they deactivate my card the next time
, and I go to get it reactivated on the 4th, the first 3 days of the month totaling $18 (3 days x $6 pro-rated/day) will get deducted from my EBT card.
But that's not what happened this time
because I was not supposed to even get the reapplication form (SAR 7) mailed to me in the first place since the new policy targeting homeless EBT recipients is not supposed to go into effect until this coming June.
What I was getting this time was a sneak-peek at what San Diego's HHS will be doing to me and other homeless people who receive EBT benefits in the future.“People have to beg to get the money to get a room each night. To stay at a backpacker’s hostel you have to raise $45 each day … People are kicked off Centrelink [welfare payments] if they fail to turn up to just one appointment, but some of them cannot make it.”
-Australia: Melbourne homeless continue city protest
But WHY did they mail me the reapplication in the first place? Because someone at HHS accessed my computer record and clicked the toggle "No" from "Yes" in answer to the question is the applicant homeless. That change "triggered" the SAR 7 application which gets sent out to EBT recipients who are not homeless. Given the timing of when that application was put in the mail, the change to my computer record likely occurred on Wednesday January 6th, 2016.
How do I know that exact date? Because that's also the date, as per the diary entry directly above, someone clicked the toggle "No" from "Yes" in answer to the question "refer to restaurant meals program." So I was no longer able to purchase hot food at participating fast food restaurants like Burger King or Wendy's.
This information was helpfully provided by the woman behind the counter, although she suggested the unexplained change of my information was possibly due to an errant "update". She also gave me a voucher to the DMV so I can replace the license the cops took last time I was arrested.
Given that someone at HHS went in and changed my information resulting in my both losing the ability to access the hot meals program as well as access to my EBT benefits, how d'ya suppose this new policy of theirs is going to work out for homeless people in general and me in particular?
As I mention in my diary entry here
, when it came to my MediCal benefits also through HHS, on July 1st 2015, I had received two letters from MediCal, one date-stamped-received June 8th and the other two weeks later date-stamped-received June 25th. The first letter said they had not received my "annual redetermination information" and that "If we do not receive this information, your Medi-Cal benefits may be discontinued."
The second letter, date-stamped-received June 25th said "Your eligibility to receive Medi-Call will be discontinued the last day of June 2015." In other words, the first time they mentioned a deadline is in a letter in which they gave me exactly 5 days from the day the mail was received at the EBT mail dropbox to respond or I'd be dropped from the program.
Subsequent to both those letters, after they kicked me off MediCal for missing the above deadline, in the following October I had my annual reapplication for EBT benefits interview. Just barely.
That's because toward the end of the previous September I had received a letter from HHS alerting me that I would receive another, separate letter with an interview date and time. That letter never arrived. So early on Friday October 9th I went to the fifth floor of the HHS offices in person to find out that my appointment was scheduled for 10am that morning.The Australian government has labelled the protests as acts of “self-harm” to divert from any examination of why refugees have been driven to such desperate actions.
-Two refugees set themselves alight in Australia’s Nauru detention centreUpdate Tuesday, May 10th, 2016
Last night at exactly 11:00 pm I was awakened from a sound sleep by what I thought was yelling coming from two people walking by my spot on the sidewalk.
In fact they were "singing."
They stopped walking near the end of the block, about 20 or 25 feet away from where I was, but continued their singing about Jesus Christ.
After a few minutes when they hadn't moved on I yelled out, "Do you mind, I'm trying to sleep here." to which the two of them continued singing about Jesus Christ.
After a couple of more minutes I started gathering my stuff to move to the other end of the block. At this they moved on down the street (no longer singing) meeting up with a third person.Update Sunday, May 22nd, 2016Food As A Weapon
Earlier this morning I was eating my meal for the day at St. Vinny's. On Sundays, the cafeteria is open for food between the hours of 9:30 am and 11:00 am. At about 11:10 or so one of the volunteers came by with a tray of extra soups asking if anyone wanted one. Usually during the week volunteers do not come by with extra food from the kitchen. But on Sunday's they do because there's always food left over. (Fun Fact: There is no food shortage)
I said sure! and she gave me what looked like a cream of broccoli soup.
Shortly after getting my soup one of the kitchen managers who works at Vinny's shouted from behind the counter over at the woman seated directly opposite me (with her back toward the kitchen manager), telling her "food can't be taken out of the cafeteria."
In all my years coming to St. Vinny's I had never heard of such a policy.
The woman had placed some of her food in a plastic bag. Before the soup volunteer came around, I had given her one of my biscuits which was now placed in one of her plastic bags.
Earlier the same woman (sitting across from me) spoke up when she saw me putting my sloppy joe sandwich into a plastic bag for later. She asked me if that was allowed. That was the first time I've ever heard someone raise that question at Vinny's. I told her I often put food in a plastic bag (to eat later, usually in the evening) so that I can get back into the line another time (as mentioned in the diary entry here).
When I told the kitchen manager that people often take food out of the cafeteria in baggies or tupperware, by this time she had come around the counter and approached the table where I sat with the other woman, she called security over.
Then our table was surrounded by 5 security guards. Noticing one of the security guards I've seen from over the years at Vinny's I asked her if there were a new policy. She said people were never allowed to remove food from the cafetieria. When I pointed out that the volunteers on weekends often placed out empty plastic containers (usually used but cleaned-out yogurt or cool whip containers) just for that very purpose, she mumbled something. When I asked her to repeat it, she mumbled again.
I looked down at my cream of broccoli soup which I had intended to take with me (usually I also take the soup with me because it takes a while for it to cool down) and asked the kitchen manager, "Are you saying I can't take my soup with me?"
The kitchen manager replied, "All I'm saying is..." I forget the rest of what she said but she didn't say I couldn't take the soup with me. So I grabbed my soup and headed across the cafeteria toward the doors. On the way, one of the 5 security guards ran up to me saying, "I can't allow you to leave the cafeteria with that." indicating my soup.
So I put the soup down on one of the tables and left without it.
Last Sunday I was waiting in the food line outside the cafeteria. When my position in the food line wound its way into the cafeteria, I saw that the volunteers had stopped giving out trays of food because there were "no more" available seats at the tables.
I noticed that one of the pairs of tables were missing (about 12 seats) and that many of the people sitting at the tables were not eating. One guy was sleeping on his elbows. After 10 minutes standing in the same spot looking at every seat in the entire room still occupied, I turned around and left.
One Sunday a few months ago, when my position in the food line wound its way up to where there's a volunteer standing passing out a Hershey's kiss just before you get your tray of food, I happened to mention to her the difficulty I was having getting another dark-colored t-shirt in my size.
I go for months wearing the same t-shirt (sometimes even more than a year) because it's becoming nearly impossible to get another one. The volunteer (a woman about my age) said she would get me a couple and asked me my size. The next week she wasn't handing out "kisses" and the week after that when I passed her in line she didn't say anything regarding the t-shirts. She never mentioned them again. I feel that she is certainly not obligated to give me a t-shirt but having promised to get me two she is obligated to tell me she was not going to follow through with the promise. She still hands me a Hershey's kiss.
It's not only getting more difficult to get (enough) food or even a t-shirt but hair cuts too. As a consequence, and as a matter of hygiene I shave my head because St. Vinnys has also just recently (effectively) stopped giving showers since April 22nd of this year. I say "effectively" because what they started doing on this date is having the showers open 1 hour instead of 3 in the afternoons and mornings. With everyone else waiting for a shower, getting one was tough enough when they were open 3 hours (hence the shaved head), but impossible when they're open for just one hour. As of today I haven't had a shower for over a month.Prior to the operation, the government had systematically exacerbated the situation in Idomeni. For months now, more than 9,000 desperate refugees, hoping to cross the border into Macedonia and travel further to Northern Europe, have been force to endure intolerable conditions. Anyone with any remaining money has sought to make their way north, leaving the most destitute, for whom anything is better than repatriation to war zones and poverty, stranded in Idomeni.
The Greek government has deliberately denied the refugees at the Macedonian border any sort of proper food or medical care. Everything painstakingly built up in recent months is the product of the activity of a range of volunteer groups and charities.
Employees of these groups repeatedly report on the catastrophic supply situation. There is a lack of food, medicine and doctors. After living for months in mud, the refugees are now subject to intense heat, which further intensifies a worsening hygienic crisis.
Greek media have reported on mafia organizations that have formed inside the camp to exploit the plight of the refugees. Brothels have been established where female refugees are abused in exchange for pittances.
This state of affairs is encouraged by the government who are pressuring refugees to quit the camp.
The police state methods used against the refugees are in fact directed against all workers. Just ten days before the Greek government attacked helpless refugees, its police broke up a demonstration of workers in Syntagma Square in Athens, using tear gas and stun grenades. The workers had protested peacefully against the drastic welfare cuts adopted by the Greek parliament at the behest of the EU on the same day. Now deputies are discussing further social attacks, in particular the privatization of state enterprises, which will lead to mass layoffs and wage cuts.
-Syriza government uses tear gas and stun grenades against refugeesMonday, October 3rd, 2016
On September 20th I signed up for one of those free cell phones and service for low (or no) income people that's been around for a few years. I hadn't signed up until now because one of the requirements is an ID--which the cops took the very last time I was arrested for illegal lodging back in 2014.
But this time, that was no longer a problem. The person who came up to me while I was in the food line at St. Vinny's said all you need is a MediCal card. When I told him I had no address, he said the phone would be mailed right here at the front desk at St. Vinny's in about 14 days. That also was a first, usually I was told they could only have the phone mailed to the Neil Good Day Center.
Last Saturday I checked my account on the Safelinkca.com website which provides the service in California. It included a tracking number for the delivery of the phone that linked to the FedEx cite which showed where my phone was in route. Neat! It indicated that it arrived at the San Diego Post Office at 2:40 am that Saturday morning and was delivered to St. Vinny's at 1:50pm that afternoon.
Or so it said. As I found out this morning after dialing the 1-800 number given at the FedEx cite, apparently FedEx delivers the phone to the local post office--which takes responsibility for it from there.
So when I went to the front desk this Monday morning at 8am to pick up my phone, the people behind the desk said they hadn't received it.
When I told that to FedEx representative at the 1-800 number, all she could tell me is that the local mail deliverer had indicated that my package was delivered at 1:50 pm at the "receptionist desk" at the St Vinny's address.
So who are you going to believe?
I grew up in a time when the US Post Office and the delivery of its mail was serious business. You know, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." One of my uncles worked for the Post Office.
But these days, when it comes to any kind of public infrastructure, be it roads, highways, bridges, planes, healthcare
, public schools, water utilities
etc. that's all by the wayside. Just google wsws.org and the word "infrastructure" to find out.
Nevertheless, even knowing that, after calling the 1-800 number for the US Post Office, I kept asking myself--in disbelief--this is the US
First of all you have to trick the automated menu into giving you an opportunity to be put on hold for a real person. Because that option's not offered, you have to go through the right sequence of questions and then just do nothing until they pick up. If you don't go through the right sequence, the recorded message will say, "Have a nice day" and hang up. And then you have to go through the whole thing again as well as wait about 15 minutes before one of them does pick up.
The first person I talked to said there had been a "hold mail" placed on the address at St. Vinny's. A hold mail is when the Post Office holds your mail until you give them a new address to have it sent. She gave me the local number for San Diego's Downtown Post Office (619-232-8612) and said I would have to speak with them. So I called the number and after about a dozen rings the number goes to automatic hold--playing post-office commercials, indefinitely. I held out from 9:23 am to 10:15 am before giving up.
I called the 1-800 number back (getting a different person) and told them there was no answer at the number they gave me. The woman said I had the wrong number and gave me another number, 619-232-4015. I told her I had already called directory assistance and verified that the first number (8612) was correct. (Later I dialed the 4015 number and there was no answer at that one either.)
She said she'd open up a case file and asked me for my telephone number. I explained that was what I was trying to get. Then she asked me for an email address. When I told her I didn't have one she asked me where they could send me a letter. I told her I really didn't want them sending me letters. She said she needed a contact to open a case file.
Interestingly she didn't mention anything about the "hold mail" this time.
I asked to speak with a supervisor and she put me on hold. A few minutes later a woman picked up and said "Hello?" I said "Hello" and she repeated "Hello?" again as if not hearing me. I said "Hello?" again and what followed was dead air.
By the time I got through the automated mail gauntlet again it was 10:20 am and the recorded message told me the hold wait time was between 17 and 26 minutes long. At 10:48 am someone picked and said he would open up a case file and give me a case confirmation number. He said he could use the number of the phone I was calling from (which apparently he could see) as a contact. He told me to call back in 2 to 3 business days.
I asked him if there was a "hold mail" at St. Vinny's address and he said no.Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
Today at 12:34 I called the 1-800 number to the US Post Office. Since by now I know the menu by heart I went through the sequence of questions until it asked for my case number that I had received on Monday whereupon after entering that number the recorded voice told me, "Inquiry investigated and resolved". I thought, halleluiah!
But then it asked me if I had any other questions--"say yes or no".
Well, as nice as it is to know my inquiry has been investigated and resolved, I'd still like to know what that means, for me. So I said yes and it brought me out to the main menu so I could go through the same sequence of questions again and then trick it into promising me a real person. This time I waited until 1:01 before someone picked up the phone.
When I told him my inquiry has been investigated and resolved, he told me that they had spoken with "Keelee" (sp?) at the front desk at St. Vinny's and she told them that she had accepted the package at the receptionist's desk (I asked, "On Saturday afternoon? and was told, "Yes") but that I was not a resident at St. Vinny's and was not supposed to have mail sent there.
Now, there are plenty of holes in this story, but on my way over to the front desk at St. Vinny's I had made my own resolution not to write about them if I got the phone. I didn't get the phone. So the first thing I should mention is that when the FedEx tracking site had indicated my package was received at 1:50 pm on Saturday, I saw that happen real-time while on the library's internet. After getting out of the library I stopped over at St. Vinny's and was not surprised to see the "receptionist desk" closed, as it always is closed all day on weekends. And when I say it's "closed" I mean when you walk into the lobby the desk and area where the receptionists sit is encased in metal pull-down doors that lock onto the counter.
Standing in the lobby, if you look over to the right there's a darkened room through a doorway where the security sits. That's where I walked over to and told one of the two security guards that I had a package delivered here at 1:50 pm. The security guard told me all mail is brought over to the room behind the reception area and cannot be accessed until Monday morning when the reception desk opens at 8 am.
The only way Keelee would have received my package at 1:50pm Saturday is if she was working security, and as I understand it, she doesn't. And Monday morning I was there at 8 am sharp asking for my package if in case she showed up at that time.
So when I got over to the front desk today, the same two people who were behind it on Saturday were there today. When I asked for Keelee one of them told me she'd be back in a moment. When I told them I was there to pick up my phone that was delivered, one of them started looking around the area while the other asked me my name. When I told her, her face showed recognition and she told her co-worker, "She's holding it for him" and he stopped looking.
Then Keelee came in and they told her I was looking for my phone. Keelee started going through boxes and looking around asking me if I was a resident and when I said "no" she told me non-resident packages are sent to the Neil Good Day Center. Then she said, "Let me check with security" and then walked from behind the counter over to security. She hadn't asked me my name.
Apparently she either didn't know I had been told about her conversation about me with the person from the US Post Office or she never had that conversation--which is strange because they had her
name and she seemed to know mine.
When she came back from security she told me to try checking at the Neil Good Day Center. I left. I have no intention of going to the Neil Good Day Center as the phone is either with Keelee or it was never delivered on Saturday or any day subsequent.
But at least over at the Post Office the inquiry has been investigated and resolved.
The Stanford study underscores that the essential division in the United States is not race, but class. In America, how long you live is determined above all by what social class you belong to. The increase in longevity for the richest Americans, the study noted, is equivalent to eliminating all cancer deaths in the US. -Life expectancy gap between US rich and poor widens [14.6 years for men ]As a result, there is now a life expectancy gap of more than 12 years between the poorest and wealthiest men, compared to a gap of just over five years three decades ago.
Despite the appeal to government leaders, however, neither the Obama administration nor the Republican-controlled Congress will lift a finger to address the mounting social crisis in the United States. In November 2013, a bipartisan agreement slashed food stamp benefits across the board by $36 per month for a family of four, and in January 2014, benefits were cut by an average of $90 per month for nearly a million households.The growing discrepancy in life expectancy between the rich and poor is the result of decades of attacks on workers’ jobs, wages and living standards, as well as social programs that benefit low-income households, such as food stamps, Welfare and Medicaid. While the rich have access to the best healthcare that money can buy, the poor are left with substandard care that they cannot afford.
A series of deals between the Obama White House and the congressional Republicans has put an end to extended unemployment benefits and slashed domestic discretionary spending to the lowest level, as a proportion of the US economy, since the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s. A new round of cuts targeting what little remains of the social safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable families will come between now and December 11, the next deadline for adoption of a federal budget resolution.The National Academy of Sciences study itself was commissioned as a means of gauging the economic impact of various proposals to slash Social Security spending proposed in various forms by Republicans and Democrats alike.
-Life expectancy plunges for low-income Americans
While the levels of food insecurity dropped slightly in 2014 compared to 2013, they remain at historically high levels that have persisted for nearly a decade, due to the combined effect of the deep recession that followed the 2008 financial crash and cutbacks in funding for food programs such as SNAP (food stamps); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); and school breakfasts and lunches.
Under Obama, this social counterrevolution has been intensified. The financial meltdown of 2008 has been utilized by the same forces that precipitated the crash to carry through a reordering of social relations aimed at reversing every social gain won by the working class in the course of a century of struggle. A central target of the attack is health care for working people.
Obamacare is the spearhead of a worked-out strategy to reduce the quantity and quality of health care available to workers and reorganize the health care system directly on a class basis. Corporate and government costs are to be slashed by gutting employer-paid health care, forcing workers individually to buy expensive, bare-bones plans from the insurance monopolies, and rationing drugs, tests and medical procedures to make them inaccessible to workers.
The rise in mortality for workers and the widening of the life span gap between rich and poor are not simply the outcome of impersonal economic forces. In corporate boardrooms, think tanks and state agencies, the ruling class is working to lower working class life expectancy. -Inequality, class and life expectancy in America
There is little precedent in recent American history for the current impact of food insecurity and outright malnutrition, not merely for a year or two, but for a period that corresponds to the entire childhood or adolescence of millions of children. - Pediatricians group calls for screening all US children for hunger
That the ruling class has nothing to offer to address the spiraling social crisis is reflected in the lack of serious attention paid to the shocking findings of the Princeton economists. In an earlier period, they would have been treated as a national disgrace.
As with life expectancy, the incidence of suicide is a key barometer of the health of a society. The rise in the rate at which people choose to take their own lives is yet another indication of the social crisis gripping America.-Eighty percent increase in suicide among middle-aged white women
Today, the Democrats and Republicans compete with each other in slashing social programs. A decline in life expectancy is seen as a positive good by a ruling class that is determined to cut spending on health care and pensions in order to finance an ever-expanding stock market bubble. Under capitalism, society is marching backwards. - Capitalism and mortality: Death rate soars for middle-aged US workersDeliberateness
Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s director of acute care, said “on the international scale of a humanitarian crisis, I do not think the NHS is at that point.” His defence is based upon comparing Britain with war-torn countries, as made explicit by Conservative health select committee chair Sarah Wollaston who declared baldly, “This is not equivalent to Syria or Yemen.”
Human rights observers report that the coalition has purposely taken aim at agricultural operations, such as farms raising sorghum, which Yemenis use for bread making. In addition, a naval embargo imposed by the Saudi coalition has reduced imports in a country where 90 percent of staple foods are imported. As a result, Yemen’s civilian population is suffering from a man-made famine in which hundreds of children die every day. Currently, half a million Yemeni children are severely malnourished. -Raid kills 30 civilians in Yemen, including eight-year-old daughter of US citizen assassinated by ObamaIn fact, just as with the imperialist-inspired wars in the Middle East, the crisis facing the NHS is a product of deliberate governmental policy.
-Death toll mounts as UK National Health Service deliberately destroyed
For poor and working-class people and communities throughout the world, life gets deliberately shorter as the wait grows deliberately longer.Catastrophic conditions prevail in the refugee camps in Germany’s cities. In Hamburg and many other cities, thousands are living in unheated, damp and drafty tents. In Berlin, they have to wait for weeks to be registered, without receiving adequate support. Those who volunteer, out of human sympathy and social solidarity, to help the people fleeing war and chaos are discouraged and undermined by [Fuck] the authorities.
On Wednesday, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, accused the Czech Republic of violating the human rights of refugees in order to deter them from entering the country. Measures cited by Zeid include the strip-searching of refugees in order to confiscate their money, which is then allegedly used to pay for their detention.There is a method behind the mistreatment of the refugees, one that reveals the true face of capitalism. A society that spends hundreds of billions of euros overnight to rescue ailing banks, and in which the number of billionaires is constantly rising, supposedly lacks the resources to accept refugees and provide them with decent conditions. In the age of the Internet, of worldwide air travel and global economy, there is no right to shelter, food, employment or life itself for millions of displaced people.
In a statement, Zeid said: “According to credible reports from various sources, the violations of the human rights of migrants are neither isolated nor coincidental, but systematic. They appear to be an integral part of a policy by the Czech Government designed to deter migrants and refugees from entering the country or staying there.” Leading European politicians and public figures [including German media,] [French media] [and US media] are deliberately working to mobilize the dregs of society to establish a right-wing movement directed not only against refugees, but against the working class and all politically progressive elements in society.
- The refugee crisis, war and socialism
The following day, Defence Minister Ya’alon stated that “there is a high probability that those responsible for the attack in Duma are part of a very extreme group of Jews,” but that there is not yet enough evidence to arrest any suspects.
Over the last 30 years, social and political tensions within Israel have grown as the gap between rich and poor has widened to the extent that it is now the second most unequal society in the OECD countries. With the majority of people alienated from official politics, the state has increased its reliance on ultra-nationalist, religious and fascistic layers to the extent that no party today can form a government without their support. The present government, with its majority of one, is no exception. -Wedding video shows Israeli far-right gathering celebrating arson attack on Palestinians
He later told a group of Likud activists that the defence establishment knew who the arsonists were, but would not bring charges to protect the identity of their sources, an admission of the very closest links between the armed forces and the settlers. -Israel: No prosecutions for firebombing of Palestinian family
For months, the Berlin State Senate has victimised refugees at the now notorious state office for health and social affairs (Lageso), and confined them to inhumane conditions in sports halls and airport hangars. Now it is trying to intimidate the numerous volunteers and supporters among the Berlin population with police violence. Henkel has proposed the election slogan of “Strong Berlin” for the upcoming State Senate elections.-Berlin college rector protests police intervention
Earlier this morning, Tuesday October 13th, I was at my yearly reapplication appointment for Calfresh "food stamps". Toward the end of last month (September) I had received a letter from the SD Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) alerting me that I would receive a separate letter with an interview date and time. That letter never arrived so last Friday October 9th I went to the fifth floor of the HHS offices in person to find out that my appointment was scheduled for 10am this morning.The supposedly democratic governments have moved to strengthen the security forces, seal off borders, build internment camps and dispatch vulnerable refugees back to the war zones from which they fled.In recent weeks, the governments along the Balkan route have erected one obstacle after another to deter refugees, prevent them from crossing borders and push them into neighbouring countries as quickly as possible. When the stream of people seeking shelter in Europe from the wars in Syria and Afghanistan did not diminish, European states sealed their borders, or, like Germany and Austria, tightened their border controls, leaving tens of thousands of asylum seekers stranded under catastrophic conditions.
For the first time since the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich in 1945, the use of racialist and fascistic rhetoric has become part of daily political discourse. Hardly a day goes by without the media inviting representatives of extreme right-wing parties such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the viciously anti-immigrant Pegida movement to spout their fascistic demagogy before national audiences.The ruthlessness with which the ruling circles of Europe react to the plight of the refugees can be understood only when considered within a broader political context. It stands in sharp contrast to the active sympathy and solidarity with the asylum seekers of broad sections of the population.“The level of support for the refugees is not only an expression of elementary humanity,” we wrote two months ago. “Many instinctively understand that the refugees are victims of a social system that threatens their own lives.”
The resort to Nazi-sounding, threatening rhetoric is part of a new political climate in which Merkel is being criticized openly by elements in the security and military apparatus of the state, who are working closely with the most right-wing elements within the ruling coalition. Only yesterday, Christian Social Union (CSU) Chairman Horst Seehofer threatened extralegal “emergency measures” if Merkel did not adopt more extreme anti-refugee policies.
Despite widespread popular sympathy for the plight of refugees fleeing for their lives from war-torn countries, a sinister campaign is underway, led by a cabal of military-intelligence agencies, right-wing forces in the media, and chauvinist and neo-fascist political organizations, to whip up a racially-charged atmosphere of political panic in which authoritarian rule is justified as both necessary and legitimate.
The clear implication of Comey’s argument is that those who uncover police criminality, whether a bystander with a cell phone camera or a newspaper that exposes police corruption, serve to promote violent crime and should be suppressed. It is, in essence, an argument for a police state.
On Monday, the same day that Comey addressed the police chiefs’ convention, the world was shocked to see footage of a police officer, in the middle of a math class, brutally grabbing and dragging a 16-year-old South Carolina girl, still seated at her desk, and throwing her across the floor. In keeping with Comey’s views, the assaulted girl’s classmate was arrested for having had the courage to record the incident on video.
The following day, officials in Seneca, South Carolina announced that no charges would be filed against the police officer who fatally shot 19-year-old Zachary Hammond in July, even as they released footage clearly showing that the cop was in no danger when he fired two bullets, point blank, into the young man’s head.
The previous week, the Guardian newspaper revealed that 7,000 people had been secretly detained at the Chicago Police Department’s Homan Square torture facility, twice as many as the newspaper had previously reported.
While the rhetoric of the extreme right has failed to attract genuinely mass support, the developments in Germany allow for no complacency. The degree to which the politics of the extreme right have acquired legitimacy is a byproduct of the increasingly militaristic and anti-democratic policies pursued by the German government. The German ruling class, notwithstanding the horrific crimes committed between 1933 and 1945, is engaged in a new effort to transform Germany into a global military power. This new orientation requires the mobilization of a right-wing movement and the creation of an authoritarian regime. -Dangerous developments in GermanyThe brutal treatment meted out to refugees is the sharpest expression of the crisis of a social system that no longer has anything to offer the vast majority of the people except war, repression and poverty.
- EU-Balkan summit seals off refugee escape routes
The bipartisan agreement favors the Pentagon and includes new cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security disability benefits. -Obama reaches right-wing budget, debt deal with Republicans
Is it any mystery that in a country where the wealthiest ten percent of the population controls more than 75 percent of the national wealth, and 95 percent of income gains go to the top 1 percent, the ruling class feels the need for a massive and brutal repressive force? All the more so under conditions where the political system can offer no solutions to the growth of poverty and decline in living standards of broad masses of people. -FBI Director James Comey’s apology for police murder
Since I needed to make it to lunch at Vinny's, I got to the address of the HHS offices well before the scheduled time with the application filled out. By the time I got through security and up to the 5th floor and in line to get a number, the ticket was stamped 9:23am. At around 10:30 my number 2208 was called and I met with a case worker for 20 minutes. About 3 minutes of that time was actually spent handing over the application and giving my place of birth, address (homeless) and phone number (none). Of course I filled in "homeless" on the application but I think they like to hear you say it out loud. The case worker then asked me for ID and I told her the cops had taken it.The brazen and aggressive character of the operation is underscored by the fact that it has been undertaken in the total absence of military activity against the US by China. Rather, it assumes the form of a pre-emptive strike aimed at humiliating the Chinese regime and placing it in a situation where it either confronts the US navy or bows down to Washington’s repudiation of China’s decades-old territorial claims in the strategic South China Sea. According to an unnamed US defense department official, who provided a briefing on the operation, the deployment of the USS Lassen is not a one-off, but the start of a series of provocations.
“There are billions of dollars of commerce flowing through that region of the world. Ensuring that free flow of commerce … is critical to the global economy,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Earnest’s remarks are on a par with the “Big Lie” claims of “weapons of mass destruction” used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the “humanitarian” concerns invoked by the US to instigate the 2011 overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya.
Repudiating his repeated rejection of “boots on the ground,” Obama is sending in troops not to fight terrorism, but to counter Russia. It is in response to this Russian campaign, which is beginning to turn the tide against the al Qaeda-linked militias backed by Washington and its regional allies, that the US is sending in the Special Forces.A graphic expression of the forces driving US actions was contained in a recent tweet by US Republican Party presidential candidate Ben Carson. It featured a photograph of a US aircraft carrier accompanied by the caption, “This is How to Compete with China.””
The target of the US intervention is not ISIS and not merely the Syrian government. Washington seeks regime change in Damascus as part of a wider strategy of asserting hegemony over the Middle East and preparing for even bloodier military conflicts with Syria’s main allies, Iran and Russia. -Obama orders Special Forces troops into Syria
-US launches South China Sea military provocation against China
The balance of the 20 minutes I spent alone waiting for the case worker to come back after she exited through a door in the white wall at the rear of her cubicle. The same thing happened during last year's reapplication when the case worker left after noting that her records indicated that I had spent 33 days in county jail back in 2012 and that my food stamp benefits expired just before I went to jail.On November 25, the New York Times reported that Belgian authorities had a list of suspected Islamists that included the Belgian residents who were involved in the Paris attacks. It wrote, “a month before the Paris terrorist attacks, Mayor Françoise Schepmans of Molenbeek, a Brussels district long notorious as a haven for jihadists, received a list with the names and addresses of more than 80 people suspected as Islamic militants living in her area.”
Citing sources inside Belgium’s security services, the Times wrote, “the list included two brothers who would take part in the bloodshed in France on Nov. 13, as well as the man suspected of being the architect of the terrorist plot, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Molenbeek resident who had left for Syria to fight for the Islamic State in early 2014.”
Schepmans said, “What was I supposed to do about them? It is not my job to track possible terrorists.” She noted that this is “the responsibility of the federal police.”
Although the attackers were well known to the security agencies, they were able to act virtually unhindered.
As “priority” targets in direct contact with Al Qaeda's top leadership, the perpetrators of the January 2015 attacks were under intensive surveillance, which was later totally abandoned. -Were French intelligence forces complicit in the Charlie Hebdo attacks?
Their alleged mastermind, 27-year-old Abdulhamid Abaaoud, had been sentenced to twenty years imprisonment in absentia in Belgium but was nevertheless able to travel in and out of France on several occasions. -September 11 and the Paris terrorist attacksAbaaoud’s ability to travel in Europe and plan and obtain supplies for a major terrorist attack can only be explained by the close ties between Islamist terrorist circles and French intelligence, who uses them to go fight in the imperialist war for regime change in Syria. Under these conditions, the Paris attackers were able to exploit what amounted to official protection for their operations from sections of the French state.
These reports further undermine the official presentation of the Paris attacks by governments, media, and pro-imperialist “left” parties. They insisted that the attacks were an act of Islamist terror in which the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) alone was involved and bore full responsibility.If the terrorists were able to plan and execute such a massive, coordinated attack, it was because intelligence agencies did not use the powers they already have to prevent attacks that were carried out by Islamist terrorist forces with which they have close political ties.
This presentation was always a political fraud, insofar as the NATO powers were undoubtedly politically implicated. The attacks were led by Islamist fighters trained in Syria—where the CIA, European intelligence and Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms have given financial and military backing to such Islamist forces to topple President Bashar al-Assad. Though placed on watch lists and monitored by intelligence services, these fighters were somehow allowed to prepare highly complex, coordinated attacks in Paris.
Revelations of a concrete link between Century Arms and the Paris attacks, however, raise specifically whether elements in the intelligence services aided the attackers—either inadvertently, due to their reckless war policy, or deliberately, to shift the political atmosphere far to the right. -Weapon used in November 13 Paris attacks came from CIA-linked arms dealer
The criminal assault on innocent civilians in Paris is the predictable outcome of US and European imperialism’s relentless escalation of military operations in the Middle East. At the very least, the ruling class sees such atrocities as an opportunity to rapidly implement plans prepared long in advance. -The Paris terror attacksThis policy is rooted not only in the aggressive foreign policy of French imperialism and its NATO allies, including the United States, but the escalating social and economic crisis of European capitalism. The ruling elites are happy to rely on Islamist terrorist groups as instruments of their foreign policy overseas, while using their operations to justify massive assaults on democratic rights at home. This makes a mockery of the so-called “war on terror.”
-New data on police foreknowledge of terrorists raise questions on Paris attack
I told her that was correct. In fact, my food stamps had expired on the last day of my jury trial (described here
) when I was taken out of the court in hand cuffs and taken straight to jail. That was the same day I was scheduled for my foodstamps reapplication appointment.The comparison is apt. What was revealed by Katrina was not just the incompetence and indifference of the government in the face of a widely predicted catastrophe, but also the terrible consequences of decades of deterioration and neglect of social infrastructure and the evisceration of social programs benefiting the broad masses of people in order to further enrich a ruling financial and corporate oligarchy.
About 15 minutes later the case worker I had that time returned carrying an affidavit for me to sign. She informed me I was not allowed to receive food stamp benefits while in jail. When I said I didn't she told me to sign the affidavit. When I asked why (since her records showed I didn't receive benefits) she said they needed "confirmation."The same attacks have been carried out against the public health care system through decades of budget cuts. This process has culminated in Obamacare, part of a calculated strategy to reorganize health care along class lines, while facilitating the profiteering of the big pharmaceutical and insurance corporations and hospital chains.
-Zika, social inequality and capitalism
President Obama made a perfunctory visit to flooded areas in Louisiana Tuesday, after facing sharp criticism for refusing to cut short his two-week vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to respond to the worst natural disaster in the US since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In public comments, which together with questions lasted merely 13 minutes, the president praised the miserly federal response and suggested that flood victims should chiefly rely on private donations because “volunteer help actually helps the state because it can offset some of its costs.” -Obama offers pittance to flood victims in Louisiana
This time when the case worker came back she was carrying a MediCal application. On the food stamp application I had checked off that I wanted to apply for MediCal. In fact, this is the 4th time I've tried
to reapply for MediCal.The Bush administration initially adopted an “every man for himself” attitude with regard to the storm. Significant federal aid was denied. President Bush called on individuals to provide support by donating to charitable organizations. Meanwhile, the federal government blocked many attempts to supply the city’s residents with basic necessities such as food, clothing and water, and prevented many residents from leaving the city.
The corrupt Mexican political establishment, forewarned by meteorologists that the hurricane would bring unprecedented wind speeds and flooding to coastal cities, mounted the bare minimum of an emergency response to carry out evacuations and ensure the safety of nearby residents. According to media reports, by noon on Friday there were no more bus tickets to purchase to escape the storm, and gas had run out in some areas.In particular, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) blocked aid offers from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and others. The agency also held up aid from both public and private agencies, withheld approval to allow the US Forest Service to use its helicopters to put out fires in the city, and blocked Amtrak trains from arriving to evacuate those still in the city. Reports later emerged that FEMA initially had not allowed the Red Cross to enter the city and refused to allow the unloading of food, water and medical supplies at the city harbor.
The failure of capitalist governments worldwide to adequately address the issue of climate change virtually ensures that super storms like Hurricane Patricia will become increasingly regular. The likelihood that such storms will hit major population centers across the globe, causing massive damage and loss of life akin to that of Typhoon Haiyan, grows each year, further exposing and exacerbating the global crisis of capitalism.” -Strongest hurricane ever recorded makes landfall in Mexico
The exhibit includes descriptions, photos, and dioramas of the period from the 1930s through the 1960s, when major public housing construction was undertaken, principally under the auspices of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), but later including projects sponsored by quasi-public entities and labor unions, such as the massive Co-op City in the Bronx, Penn South in Manhattan and Rochdale Village in Queens. In a statement that stands in stark contrast to today’s policies, the New York State Constitution was amended during this period to state that, “The aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state and by … its subdivisions.”Thousands of survivors remained trapped inside the flood-ravaged city without access to food, water or clothing. The ensuing social crisis, magnified by the lack of any serious response from the federal government, forced many desperate local residents to take matters into their own hands. Stores such as the Super Walmart on Tchoupitoulas Street in the Lower Garden district, initially reopened to supply food to rescue workers, were soon overrun by local residents in search of food, water and clothing.
There is no explanation anywhere in this substantial exhibit as to why “large-scale public housing is no longer being built.” It is simply taken as a given, a social and political fact of life, rather than a choice made by successive administrations, in Washington and New York City.
The unstated premise of current policies is that there is no fundamental right to decent, affordable housing for all. Only housing that is profitable to developers and landlords will be made available. If that is not adequate, public funds will have to be employed as “incentives” in an effort, inadequate at best, to induce more construction. And, if that doesn’t meet the need, then there is nothing more to be done. Workers will simply have to do the best they can.
This idea that only those with money are entitled to live comfortably is of a piece with the whole social counter-revolution in America, beginning with the collapse of the postwar boom in the early 1970s, and accelerating since the 2008 financial crash. The ruling class views as impermissible all social programs and anything else that impairs its “right” to maximize profits. It is a throwback to conditions that prevailed during the later 19th and early 20th centuries, when large numbers of the city’s working class, including a substantial proportion of immigrants, were housed in horrific slum conditions. -Behind the struggle for affordable housing in New York City
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco vowed to redeploy National Guardsmen to stop looters once federal emergency personnel had arrived to take over evacuations and rescues. “We will restore law and order,” the Democratic governor proclaimed. Expressing callous disregard for the desperate plight and suffering of thousands of people abandoned by herself and other government officials to the fury of the storm, she added, “What angers me the most is that disasters like this often bring out the worst in people. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”
New Orleans police and other security forces, roaming the streets armed with assault weapons, were given license to shoot to kill. A string of police murders took place in the initial days after the hurricane. Two unarmed hurricane survivors were killed and four more wounded by police after they sought refuge on the high point of the Danziger Bridge. An unarmed Algiers resident, a father of four, in search of water, charcoal and diapers was shot in the back by a police officer perched atop an abandoned strip mall. With the aide of top New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officials, these cases were buried for years.
The extensive use of the military as the primary means of disaster response indicated a new stage of decay within American democracy, which was deeply bound up with the resurgence of imperialist wars abroad. Army Times published an article at the time hailing the military’s entrance, declaring it would “fight insurgency in the city.” The US Army describes its own role in the Katrina relief effort on their website thusly: “[The troops] used their experience in Iraq and other operations to bring order to a confused situation. ”
-Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part one
I first signed up for MediCal back in June of 2014 when a case worker at Vinny's approached me while I was waiting in the food line. She said it would only take 20 minutes. It ended up taking less than 15 minutes. But I didn't actually receive the card until about 8 to 10 months later when it showed up in the mail dropbox that's provided by the HHS for homeless people to receive food stamps (EBT) correspondence. The EBT mail dropbox is located behind a glass teller window manned by a clerk in a room on the first floor of the building that houses the HHS offices.
In the months between the time I applied for MediCal and when I actually received the card I was getting treated over at the Logan Heights clinic for a high triglyceride level. You're supposed to be less than 150 mg/dl but I was tested at 984 mg/dl. The doctor visits and the medication were being paid for by a homeless grant. When I finally received the MediCal card in March of 2015, I started using it at the clinic.In New Orleans, the ruling elite saw the chance to implement, for the first time on a mass scale, the charter school “revolution” for which it had been pressing for decades. The framework for the privatization of the school system in New Orleans had been established well before the hurricane, and had only to be implemented on an expanded scale in the aftermath of the storm. A major beneficiary was Wall Street, which considers charter schools a growth industry worth as much as half a trillion dollars.
The original law applied to schools that produced test scores below state-imposed benchmarks for four consecutive school years. They would be returned to local jurisdiction after they were no longer deemed to be “failing.” However, this was substantially revised in the months after Katrina to facilitate the takeover of the majority of the city’s remaining schools. Act 35, passed overwhelmingly by the state legislature in extraordinary session, arbitrarily broadened the definition of a “failing school” to encompass all schools that performed below the state average in standardized test scores. Thanks to this provision, RSD was able to take control of 107 out of the city’s 128 public schools after the storm.
Even schools that were not considered failing under the state’s standards were converted into charter schools. Benjamin Franklin High School, long considered the finest public school in the state, was re-opened as a charter school in January 2006 under the jurisdiction of OPSB [Orleans Parish School Board] and operated by the nearby University of New Orleans.
Immediately after Katrina, OPSB fired its entire 7,500-person teaching staff, citing the hurricane as a pretext. Over 1,200 teachers were forced by economic hardship to retire, and 1,000 others, unable to find jobs in the changed education landscape, never returned to teaching in the city. Those teachers who were able to find jobs lost their seniority rights and job protections.
The government of Honduras, following the 2009 US-supported coup against former President Manuel Zelaya, saw in New Orleans charter schools a powerful method for attacking the country’s own restive working class. “We’ve had a huge problem with teachers’ unions” in the aftermath of the coup, one Honduran official said in 2010, shortly after the government had signed a collaborative deal on education with the city of New Orleans. He continued, “Charter schools are certainly one option to try to solve the union situation.”
A large proportion of New Orleans charter school students are taught, not by full-time, fully certified teachers who have chosen education as their career, but by volunteers from organizations such as Teach for America (TFA), a national non-profit that provides a mere five weeks of training to prospective teachers. According to Teach for America’s web site, fully 20 percent of the city’s teaching workforce are current or former TFA corps members. Most teachers recruited by Teach For America are unable to cope and leave after a few years. Some 80 percent of Teach for America volunteers leave teaching after two to three years, compared to 50 percent for traditional teachers.
Despite the fact that New Orleans charters are ostensibly run as non-profit entities, there is ample opportunity for personal enrichment of charter school administrators and board members, not to mention profit for companies that contract with charter schools to provide essential services such as transportation and nursing. As a result, RSD charter schools spent almost double the state average per-pupil on administration, while expending $147 less on educational support and $250 less on actual instruction in the 2013-2014 school year, according to the pro-charter Cowen Institute at Tulane University. (When compared to traditional public schools in OPSB, RSD spent $1,345 less per pupil on instruction).
Typical of the social layers drawn to charter schools is Doris Hicks, the CEO of Friends of King, which operates Martin Luther King Charter School, the only remaining school in the Lower 9th Ward. In addition to her job with Friends of King, Hicks is a two-time appointee to the US Department of Education’s National Assessment Governing Board, which produces the annual report known informally as the “Nation’s Report Card.”
Between 2010 and 2014, Hicks received over $540,000 for her position at Friends of King, in addition to trips funded at public expense, including a $70,000 staff retreat to a casino in Mississippi that allegedly violated state open meeting laws. This is on top of hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries for six of Hicks’ family members, for which Hicks faced nepotism charges last year by the state ethics board.”
-Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part three
Then when I checked my EBT mail dropbox on July 1st 2015, I had received two letters from MediCal, one date-stamped-received June 8th and the other two weeks later date-stamped-received June 25th. The first letter said they had not received my "annual redetermination information" and that "If we do not receive this information, your Medi-Cal benefits may be discontinued."
At that time I didn't know what "annual redetermination information" they were referring to.
And I'm pretty sure that when I first applied for MediCal back in June of 2014 I wasn't told I'd have to reapply for the card. But I know for certain
that I wasn't given a date when MediCal would mail out an "annual redetermination information."For those who survived, the psychological effects lingered for years: the suicide rate in New Orleans quadrupled immediately following Katrina, and one survey of residents conducted after the storm found that a third of respondents exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2007 survey of FEMA trailers in Mississippi found that 70 percent of respondents showed signs of depression, while 24 percent had exhibited suicidal thoughts.
Yet it was precisely at this point that access to health care in the city was severely curtailed. Far from an inevitable, temporary phenomenon resulting from the destruction of the storm, the decreasing access to medical care, especially for the city’s poorest residents, flowed from a deliberate policy pursued by the bourgeoisie and by local government.
One of most significant decisions made after the storm, with the most long-term effects for the city’s health care landscape, was the closure of Charity Hospital in the city’s downtown. One of the last vestiges of the social reforms enacted by Depression-era Louisiana Governor Huey Long, the state-run Charity Hospital and its sister facilities throughout the state stood as an outlier in the for-profit health care industry in the United States, a publicly operated hospital providing free medical services for the indigent.
Immediately after the storm, Charity Hospital was shut down and never reopened. The building, a massive high-rise with nearly 2,700 beds, spanning an entire city block, was condemned on fraudulent grounds, despite the fact that independent studies showed it was structurally sound. A replacement hospital, publicly funded but privately operated, was only recently completed, a full 10 years after the closure of the hospital it was ostensibly meant to replace.
In a statement released on October 23, which reported an increase in the death toll from 22 to 30, MSF noted that the destruction of the hospital “will have a huge impact on access to surgical care for hundreds of thousands of people in the region… Last year, more than 22,000 patients received care at the hospital and more than 5,900 surgeries were performed.” It added, “All that now remains of the three operating theaters, the ER and outpatient departments, and the intensive care unit are collapsed roofs, blackened walls, floors thick with dust, and twisted pieces of metal that were once beds and trolleys.” Beyond those immediately killed, hundreds or even thousands will die as a result of their loss of access to medical care.Since the onset of the 2008 recession, the attitude of the ruling elite towards Katrina, which saw it as an opportunity to open up further opportunities for profit, has been replicated in every facet of American life. Instead of responding to the recession with a public works program or other measures to alleviate the distress of the working class, American, and, indeed, world capitalism, with Obama at the head, has responded with a fundamental restructuring of class relations, aimed at nothing less than the dismantling of every gain made by the working class in over a century of bitter struggle.
The involvement of “an official in Washington” raises questions as to whether personnel in the Obama administration played a direct role in selecting and targeting the hospital. The new report adds to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that US forces knowingly and deliberately destroyed a hospital that was performing civilian functions, a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions and a violation of the US War Crimes Act. According to the latter, those found guilty of committing such a crime can be subject to life imprisonment or death.The working class must assimilate the lessons of Hurricane Katrina in order to politically arm itself for the class battles ahead. The roots of the catastrophe go far deeper than the subjective policy decisions of this or that politician or well-connected businessman. At its core is the breakdown of an entire social system: capitalism.
-Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part four
Over the weekend, the military announced that General John F. Campbell, the overall commander of operations in Afghanistan, has appointed Major General William B. Hickman to lead a supposedly “independent” investigation into the incident. The character of this investigation was indicated by Campbell, who said in a statement, “We will be forthright and transparent and we will hold ourselves accountable for any mistakes made.
The attack on MSF was not a “mistake.” It was a crime. The purpose of Hickman’s inquiry will be to cover up for those responsible. -New evidence that US Army deliberately targeted hospital in Kunduz