News Releases

Climate: * Political Will * Candidates

Climate: * Political Will * CandidatesVICTOR WALLIS, zendive at aol.com
Wallis is author of Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism (2018) and Democracy Denied: Five Lectures on U.S. Politics (2019). See his website: VictorWallis.com.

He said today: “Greta Thunberg told the UN on Monday: ‘People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, How dare you!’

“This puts it in a nutshell. The scientific reports already note the need for systemic change. The diagnosis is no longer at issue. What is missing is the political force to compel the necessary steps. The development of this force — which will require participation by the tens of millions — is what needs to accelerate.

“As of now we are confronted by two forms of denial: the open rejection of science by the Republicans vs. the ‘yes but’ approach of the establishment Democrats. These approaches reinforce each other in practice.

“The idea of a Green New Deal provides a mobilizing focus, but it needs to be understood as requiring the prohibition of fracking and of new oil-exploration. It indeed will create ‘jobs,’ but these will require a new kind of authority that has the power to draw resources away from current wasteful and destructive pursuits — and from the extraordinarily concentrated fortunes that have been allowed to form.

“So far the political energy and organization for such steps is still lacking, but the scale of young people’s involvement — along with their sense of urgency — provides a ray of hope. But all our efforts must go in this direction without delay.

“Elements of the required policy measures can be found both in Bernie Sanders’ environmental plan and in the Green Party’s program, which they have been promoting since 2010.

“The action of the Democrats in quashing the effort to have in-depth discussion of environmental policy is symptomatic of the corporate-inspired resistance that has to be overcome. They fear debate precisely because any thorough discussion would point toward the need for more radical steps than they are willing to have us even think about — let alone put into practice.”

Trump and Modi

Trump and ModiJUNAID AHMAD, [currently in Britain] junaidsahmad at gmail.com

Director of the Center for Global Dialogue and professor of Middle Eastern politics at the University of Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmed was recently featured in “Will India’s Occupation of Kashmir Become Colonization?” on The Real News.
He said today: “The theatrical display of camaraderie between President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Modi in the ‘Howdy Mody’ event in Houston is representative of the shared bonds between two of the leading icons of ultra-right wing, xenophobic, quasi-fascist, nationalist tendencies emerging in the world today. The Hindu supremacist political party of Modi, the BJP, is a mirror image of the white supremacy that Trump’s ideology epitomizes. Modi and the BJP’s genealogy is of course based on a century of fascist mobilization and thought, inspired by European fascism.

“Despite the horrendous record of Modi both internally against Muslims and other minorities in India, his grotesque decision to illegally annex the internationally disputed territory of Kashmir, his stripping way of citizenship from millions of the most destitute Indians, as well as his recklessly dangerous bellicosity toward Pakistan, Trump has hosted and put on a show for this world leader like no other. Trump wants the financial and electoral support of wealthy Indian-Americans, wants American goods to have more access to Indian markets, wants India to invest heavily in buying more American goods and especially in the energy sector, expects more compliance with Washington’s demands with regard to India’s relations with Iran, etc., and ultimately, wants Modi to once again re-commit its loyalty to American plans to encircle, contain, and subvert the rise of China. For Modi, just the photo-ops and such political theater alongside Trump are sufficient for him to try to divert the attention of Indians back home and the world from the criminal Indian state actions he has been implementing.”

Climate Protests: * Amazon * War 

NATALIA DE CAMPOS, ndcampos at gmail.com, @BrazilDemocracy
Natalia de Campos is with the New York City, grassroots group Defend Democracy in Brazil, which is organizing a series of actions on Brazil, Climate, the Amazon and the United Nations. The group states: “[Current Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro’s policies and pronouncements have led to a surge of arson in the Amazon rainforest, as well as the assault on indigenous territories and protected areas. These policies include non-enforcement of existing environmental protections, evisceration of the governmental bodies tasked with environmental enforcement, systematic attempts to weaken environmental laws and protections of indigenous territories, and installation of Ministers who are representatives of the economic interests destroying the rainforest.”

Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept recently wrote the piece “Military Build-up and War Contribute to Climate Emergency.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson at gmail.com, @davidcnswanson
Swanson is director of World BEYOND War, which is taking part in climate actions with StrikeDC Monday. He states: “The U.S. military is one of the biggest polluters on earth. Since 2001, the U.S. military has emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the annual emissions of 257 million cars on the road. The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of oil ($17B/year) in the world, and the largest global landholder with 800 foreign military bases in 80 countries. …

“As the environmental crisis worsens, thinking of war as a tool with which to address it threatens us with the ultimate vicious cycle. Declaring that climate change causes war misses the reality that human beings cause war, and that unless we learn to address crises nonviolently we will only make them worse.

“A major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas.”

Last Year Teachers, Now GM Strike

Last Year Teachers, Now GM Strike

MIKE ELK, mike.elk at gmail.com, @MikeElk

Elk is the senior labor reporter at Payday Report and with reporting being co-published by The American Prospect. He was just in Ohio and is now in Spring Hill, Tenn.

Elk writes: “With union popularity on the rise, the strike is likely to galvanize massive public support, as the wave of teachers strikes did more than a year ago.

“The strike at GM could put Trump in a box on whose side to take. When campaigning for office in 2016, Trump pledged to bring back manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt, and he has chastised GM CEO Mary Barra in the past for plant closings. However, Trump has taken to Twitter in the past to blame UAW leaders for those closings as well.

“The strike also has the potential to revive the UAW, which has been marred in a series of corruption scandals. Recently, five top UAW officials were convicted for accepting bribes from auto employers, in exchange for concessions at the bargaining table, and the FBI raided the home of UAW President Gary Jones in August.

“Many union-ambivalent workers cited the corruption scandal in UAW’s recent unsuccessful attempt to unionize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant in June. The union lost by a mere 29 votes and many anti-union workers interviewed by Payday Report said they were skeptical, given the corruption scandal, that the UAW would stand up for them.

“A successful strike at General Motors could persuade UAW members that the union is willing to take significant risks to fight on behalf of its members, potentially opening the door to more organizing in the anti-union South, where many auto plants have migrated.

“’We are the architects of showing a better way, showing the light and that’s what I think would be really beneficial if UAW was successful,’ says UAW staff representative Mark Barbee.

“At General Motors’ Rochester plant, where 99.5 percent of workers voted to authorize the strike, Maloney says that his union is willing to go the distance to stand up against General Motors’ demands.
“With the company and the union very far apart on agreeing to a new contract, it’s unclear how long the strike will go on. However, on the picket line in Rochester, workers seem to be excited.”

Elk’s recent pieces at Payday Report include: “WATCH: UAW Kid Denied Cancer Treatment After GM Cuts off Healthcare,” “WATCH: Black Vietnam Vet on How the UAW Helped Him Overcome Addiction,” and “New York Times Cites Our Coverage of GM Strike.”

Israel: “Apartheid Vote”

REBECCA VILKOMERSON, rebecca at jewishvoiceforpeace.org, @jvplive

Available for a limited number of interviews, Vilkomerson is the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace.

See Vilkomerson’s tweet thread from this morning: “A few initial thoughts on the Israeli election: 1) this was an apartheid vote with an apartheid outcome. Any conversation about the election needs to include the context of millions of Palestinians who have no vote over who rules them;

“2) though one thing you can say about Netanyahu is that the guy is good at hanging on to power, it seems his era may finally be over. He is either greatly weakened or done;

“3) The Zionist Left (or so-called Left) has extremely minimal appeal to the Israeli public and has no political power;

“4) The gains of the Joint List are good news and show that a stand for full civil and political rights have more vibrancy and appeal than an attempt to square the circle of moderate Zionism;

“5) it is hard to imagine a scenario where the Joint List enters a coalition government. If it happens, it would be groundbreaking. Assuming it doesn’t, it is a reminder of the status quo racist custom that Palestinian parties are not allowed in ruling governments;

“6) And it gives the Joint List some clout/opportunities as leader of the opposition;

“7) While Netanyahu not being around is a pleasant prospect, Cahol Lavan [Blue and White] must be understood as a rightwing party with less corruption issues. It will be easy for people less deeply steeped in it all to feel complacent/less urgent if there is a less belligerent face on the government;

“8) And for those of us outside of Israel, who have gotten [accustomed] over 10 years to the Netanyahu playbook, it will necessitate some strategic adjustments about how to organize and talk to continue building the global movement for full freedom for all.”

New Advisor is “Bolton Lite”

Trump has just named Robert O’Brien as his new National Security Advisor, replacing John Bolton.

[While O’Brien is being touted as having recently been involved with the release of the African American rapper A$AP Rocky from Swedish custody, the journalist Hijo del Cuervo notes on Twitter: “O’Brien was a Rotary scholar at the University of the Free State in South Africa. A whites-only institution since 1904. Desegregated in 1996 — after he was there.” O’Brien’s Linkedin profile states that he speaks two languages: English and Afrikaans.]

CURT MILLS, Cmills1 at gmail.com, @CurtMills
Mills is senior writer for The American Conservative. He has been writing about Bolton’s departure.

Mills stated this morning in a series of tweets that noted hawk “Hugh Hewitt wrote the introduction to National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien’s 2016 book, ‘While America Slept,’ a collection of essays that argues that American involvement overseas needs a restoration. …

“O’Brien is ‘Bolton lite,’ a source close to him described earlier in the replacement search. …

“For realists and core supporters of the president who hoped for a turn after the president fired Bolton, this is a deeply disappointing moment. Will O’Brien work to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan? Or will he expand/facilitate war with Iran? Track record suggests latter. …

“This is still a triumph for Pompeo, who gets a State guy in there and a weaker NSA than [with] Bolton. Pompeo is achieving Kissingerian levels of power in national security…”

Medicine for All

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to introduce a proposal for pharmaceutical drugs this week.

DANA BROWN, via press at democracycollaborative.org
Brown is director of The Next System Project at The Democracy Collaborative and author of a new study, “Medicine for All” which advocates a public alternative to Big Pharma.

She said today: “If all we needed were patches to the current market-based drug system, the steps that Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic leaders have proposed would be welcome additions to the debate, but the reality is the system is so broken we have to move beyond patches to a more fundamental transformation.”

Brown co-wrote the just-published piece “The Case for a Public Option for the Drug Industry” in The New Republic. Brown notes: “A United States public option for pharmaceutical production would address a range of problems in an industry rife with market failure. Some medications are out of reach for many patients who need them because of the high prices pharmaceutical companies charge. There are also dozens of drugs for which the for-profit drug industry is not meeting the demand because it’s not financially attractive…

“The case for a public option is simple…publicly owned pharmaceuticals are free of the structural need to appease profit-hungry shareholders and are thus able to focus on public health priorities. They can work hand-in-hand with public health departments to assure that essential medicines — originally researched and developed with significant public spending — are in adequate supply and priced to be accessible to everyone who needs them.”

“Forcing pharmaceutical companies to compete with a public alternative that does not answer to Wall Street and its demands for profit extraction would transform the market in ways that empowering the federal government to negotiate prices for a subset of drugs would not. It would also mean that patients with chronic diseases like diabetes would not be forced to ration their medication because a drug company executive felt compelled to jack up its price hundreds of percentage points above cost.”

Why Would Saudi Arabia Get Attacked?

Noam Chomsky wrote in an email to accuracy.org of the allegation that Iran was behind the attacks in Saudi Arabia: “Easy to think of a rationale, with the U.S. (along with the Saudis) working to destroy not only [Iran’s] petroleum system but their whole economy, a consideration that seems to be left out of commentary that reflexively accepts that what the U.S. is doing, however shocking, cannot really be that bad, perhaps an error in judgment. The Houthi also have more than enough reason.

“Washington has provided no meaningful evidence. And there’s little in the way of independent evidence. I think a fair speculation at this point is that it was a Houthi operation with some indirect Iranian support, maybe just weapons supply. But just speculation.”

GARETH PORTER, porter.gareth50 at gmail.com, @GarethPorter
Independent investigative journalist Porter has written many pieces on the region including “The U.S. Provided Cover for the Saudi Starvation Strategy in Yemen” and “Time to End the Ruinous U.S. Alliance with Saudi Arabia.” He is author of the book Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Porter tweeted yesterday afternoon: “Today’s NYT story reveals those satellite photos cited as proof the strikes on #Saudi oil facilities at #Abqaiq weren’t launched from #Yemen actually don’t show that at all. But most readers may not have seen it, because it was buried in the 10th graf.”

And: “Here’s the previous time Pompeo claimed a drone strike on Saudi came from Iraq and WSJ reported it. This is yet another point where journalists must either serve the interests of the powerful or keep questioning until the truth has clearly been established.”

Trump Threatens War With Iran: Why is Congress AWOL? 

Trump tweeted: “Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed.”

While much of the congressional leadership is silent, Rep. Justin Amash responded: “Under our Constitution, the power to commence war lies with Congress, not the president and certainly not Saudi Arabia. We don’t take orders from foreign powers.”

Bernie Sanders tweeted: “Mr. Trump, the Constitution of the United States is perfectly clear. Only Congress — not the president — can declare war. And Congress will not give you the authority to start another disastrous war in the Middle East just because the brutal Saudi dictatorship told you to.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He is a leading expert on Congressional war powers.

He said today: “It’s certainly true that Congress is charged with deciding whether or not to declare war. But the Congress has failed to live up to its responsibility as the U.S. is waging war in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Niger and elsewhere without a constitutionally mandated declaration of war. The U.S. government is also providing critical assistance to Saudi Arabia in what is effectively a genocidal war in Yemen.

“Allegedly, the Houthis, faced with the international community’s refusal to restrain Saudi Arabia’s criminality, have resorted to attacking Saudi oil fields. This threatens to spiral into a major regional war. Of course, the Yemen war and a whole assortment of U.S. government actions violate the UN Charter, which prohibits both force and the threat of force to achieve political ends.”

The annual UN General Assembly meeting, which typically features heads of government addressing the body, is scheduled for Sept. 24.

Investigative reporter Gareth Porter noted in a tweet: “Here’s the previous time Pompeo claimed a drone strike on Saudi came from Iraq and WSJ reported it. This is yet another point where journalists must either serve the interests of the powerful or keep questioning until the truth has clearly been established.” See also accuracy.org news release:  Iran Attack? * Pretext for War * Impeaching Bolton.”

Beyond the Wall “Debate”: The “Bipartisan Border Industrial Complex”

TODD MILLER, toddmemomiller at gmail.com, @memomiller

Miller is the author of the just-released report “More Than A Wall: Corporate Profiteering and the Militarization of U.S. Borders” from the Transnational Institute. Miller has written on border and immigration issues for more than 15 years and resides in Tucson, Arizona. His most recent book is Empire of Borders: The Expansion of the U.S. Border Around the World.

Miller said today: “Joe Biden was not telling the truth when at the debate on Thursday he said that the Obama administration did not ‘lock people in cages’ or ‘separate families.’ The statement is an impossible one given the nearly 3 million deportations during the eight years of Obama, the most ever by a sitting president, among other things. With his denial what Biden tried to do was extract himself from a vicious border and immigration enforcement system that the Obama administration both bolstered and helped normalize.

“When Donald Trump took office in 2017, at his disposal was the most massive border and immigration apparatus in United States history, built on turbocharge for 25 years, particularly over the three previous administrations. There were already 650 miles of walls and barriers, nearly 21,000 Border Patrol agents, more than 250 immigration detention prisons, and billions of dollars of deployed surveillance technology. The border and immigration enforcement annual budget in 2017 was $20 billion dollars (combined CBP and ICE), a historic number compared to the annual budgets of the early 1990s that hovered around $1.5 billion. It is true that Trump has ratcheted up and consolidated this apparatus — he’s taken it to its limits in every way imaginable, including its limits of cruelty — at the same time all his tools were already in place.

“It is a system that is much bigger than any president: a complex of complicit administrations, politicians and policy makers of all stripes, and a surge of influential corporations ready to cash in with contracts There are companies at the ready to design and manufacture those very technologies and tools to surveil, arrest, and encage people. Between 2006 and 2018, CBP has given more than $26 billion (ICE $18 billion) in contracts to such corporations that include large military monoliths such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. From 2005 to 2018, many of those same companies were top campaign contributors to Congress Appropriation Committee and House Homeland Security Committee members. They were also the top lobbyists. It is this bipartisan border industrial complex which poses the biggest obstacle to a humane and compassionate response to migration.”

Miller is also author of the books Border Patrol Nation and Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security.

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