News Releases

AFRICOM Strikes Somalia: Black Bombings Matter

CommonDreams reports: “Sanders, Lee, and Murphy Slam Biden Administration’s First Drone Strike in Somalia.” It also reports: “‘A Huge Outrage’: Senate Panel Approves $25 Billion Pentagon Budget Increase.”

Politico reports in “Welcome to Joe Biden’s Somalia war“: “On Tuesday, U.S. Africa Command [AFRICOM] chief Gen. Stephen Townsend authorized a single drone strike against al-Shabaab militants attacking an American-trained elite Somali force known as the Danab. While no U.S. troops accompanied the Somalis during the operation near Galkayo, Pentagon spokesperson Cindi King told NatSec Daily that Townsend has the authority under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter ‘to conduct collective self-defense of partner forces.'”

In February, Biden bombed Syria, see Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Biden Bombing Syria: ‘Illegal.’

ABDI SAMATAR, [currently in Mogadishu] samat001@umn.edu
    Available for a limited number of interviews, Samatar is professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota.

    Samatar recently wrote the piece “Somalia’s toxic political and security order: the death knell of democracy” for The Conversation: “In 2006, after a decade-and-a-half of cruel civil war, the Union of Islamic Courts, a homegrown alliance of religious leaders, terminated 15 years of warlords’ terror and tyranny. They pacified Mogadishu and surrounding areas and were about to set up local administration for the city and the surrounding settlements.
“But the initiative was short-lived. The international community, led by the U.S., reversed this local initiative, and empowered a government dominated by warlords.

    “U.S. (and foreign) influence was further consolidated after 2008 — the year Washington listed Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation. Since then, the U.S. and its allies have spent billions of dollars on illusive security and superficial development that has failed to improve the capacity of Somalis to take charge of their future.”

    Vice just published the piece: “U.S. Airstrikes Have Torn Somali Families Apart. They’re Still Seeking Justice.” See their reporting on AFRICOM.

    See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from last year on AFRICOM: “U.S. Bombings in Africa: Why Are People Unaware?

Cuba and the “Pink Tides” in Latin America

Pedro Castillo of the Free Peru party, which is both socialist and Marxist, has been declared Peru’s president-elect. He is a former teacher and son of peasant farmers.

In “Chile Stocks Surge as Communist Knocked Out of Presidential Race” Bloomberg reports: “Chilean assets bucked a global sell-off after a communist presidential hopeful unexpectedly lost a primary vote before the country’s November election, making room for a more moderate candidate to move forward. One-time student protest leader Gabriel Boric won the far-left vote with 60.4 percent of support, beating Communist Party candidate Daniel Jadue, a front-runner who had spooked financial markets with calls for radical economic reform.”

CARLOS GARRIDO, carlos.garrido@siu.edu@MarxMidwest
    A Cuban American currently in Miami, Garrido is an editorial board member and co-founder of the Journal of American Socialist Studies and Midwestern Marx, which, among other things, produces podcasts. A graduate student at Southern Illinois University, he was just on a podcast titled “Hands Off Cuba,” which highlighted continuous attacks on Cuba by the U.S. governemnt. See “USAID shells out $2.6 million for Cuba projects” and other reports from the Cuba Money Project. Also see AP story from 2014: “U.S. co-opted Cuba’s hip-hop scene to spark change.”

Last month Garrido co-hosted a podcast “The Struggle for Socialism in Peru: An Interview with Peruvian Intellectual Sebastian León.”

Garrido recently wrote the piece “A Marxist Analysis of the New Socialist Tide in Latin America” for The International. Garrido notes that about 20 years ago, there was a “Pink Tide” of left-wing victories in Latin America, but was followed by right-wing governments: “Brazil saw the emergence of Michel Termer after the illegitimate, U.S. backed impeachment of Dilma Rousseff — this, along with the imprisonment of Lula [da Silva], was a precondition for the 2018 electoral victory of Jair Bolsonaro and neofascism in Brazil. Along with this we have Peronist Cristina Fernández’s loss in Argentina (2015); the loss of socialist president Michelle Bachelet in Chile (2018); the turn towards neoliberalism of Lenín Moreno (2018); the U.S.-backed coup in Bolivia (2019); and more. In all of these cases,” Garrido argues, the U.S. government helped play a critical role in turning back the leftist victories.

Garrido argues that left-wing governments therefore are “working on borrowed time” if they do nothing “to change the fundamental bourgeois nature of the existing state apparatuses.” This includes meaningful changes to the “liberal-democratic electoral processes, the legal institutions, the military, the police.”

Is Biden Obscuring Root Causes of Migration?

CommonDreams reports: “Outrage as Biden Says Fate of Immigration Reform Is ‘For the Parliamentarian to Decide.’

AVIVA CHOMSKY, achomsky@salemstate.edu
    Chomsky is professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts. Her new book is Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration.

    She just wrote the piece “Migration Is Not the Crisis: What Washington Could Really Do in Central America” for TomDispatch: “Earlier this month, a Honduran court found David Castillo, a U.S.-trained former Army intelligence officer and the head of an internationally financed hydroelectric company, guilty of the 2016 murder of celebrated Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres. His company was building a dam that threatened the traditional lands and water sources of the Indigenous Lenca people. For years, Cáceres and her organization, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, had led the struggle to halt that project. It turned out, however, that Cáceres’s international recognition — she won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 — couldn’t protect her from becoming one of the dozens of Latin American Indigenous and environmental activists killed annually.

    “Yet when President Joe Biden came into office with an ambitious ‘Plan for Security and Prosperity in Central America,’ he wasn’t talking about changing policies that promoted big development projects against the will of local inhabitants. Rather, he was focused on a very different goal: stopping migration. His plan, he claimed, would address its ‘root causes.’ Vice President Kamala Harris was even blunter when she visited Guatemala, instructing potential migrants: ‘Do not come.'”As it happens, more military and private development aid of the sort Biden’s plan calls for (and Harris boasted about) won’t either stop migration or help Central America. It’s destined, however, to spark yet more crimes like Cáceres’s murder. There are other things the United States could do that would aid Central America. The first might simply be to stop talking about trying to end migration. …

    “It’s true that Central America is indeed plagued by poverty, violence, and corruption, but if Biden were willing to look at the root causes of his root causes, he might notice that his aren’t the solutions to such problems, but their source. …

    “We could undo the harmful provisions of the 2005 Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Yes, Central American governments beholden to Washington did sign on to it, but that doesn’t mean that the agreement benefited the majority of the inhabitants in the region. In reality, what CAFTA did was throw open Central American markets to U.S. agricultural exports, in the process undermining the livelihoods of small farmers there. …”

Global Rights Threat of Israeli Spying Firms

RICHARD SILVERSTEIN, richards1052@gmail.com, @richards1052
Silverstein is an independent journalist and researcher writing about Israeli foreign policy and covert operations. He writes the Tikun Olam blog and contributes to Al Jazeera English, Middle East Eye, and Jacobin magazine.

He just wrote the piece “NSO Group Targets 50,000 Cell Phone Numbers in 50 Countries: Heads of State, Cabinet Ministers, Diplomats, Security Officials.” He also recently wrote the piece “Israeli Cyber-Mercenary Company, Candiru, Exposed as New Global Rights Threat.”

He said today: “Two major media exposes in the New York Times and Washington Post have shone a light on the damage done by Israeli cyber-hacking companies to human rights around the world. The Post story, published in collaboration with Amnesty International’s Pegasus Project, details a massive corporate spying campaign by the world’s largest such company, NSO Group, targeting 50,000 cell phones located in 50 countries. At its heart is the most sophisticated cyber-malware product on the world market, Pegasus.

“Among those targeted were heads of state, cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military-security officials. The articles indicate that the NSO client state Saudi Arabia had infected the phones of a close associate of murdered journalist, Jamal Khasoggi, his ex-wife, and his fiance. The electronic device of a Mexican journalist was hacked less than two weeks before his murder.

“As it faces a major lawsuit from Whatsapp, which was compromised by an exploit created by NSO, the company is mounting an aggressive defense including creating an ethics panel meant to whitewash the moral and ethical lapses for which the technology is responsible. Members of the panel included former Obama administration officials including Julie Kayyem and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. It has also hired a major D.C. lobbying firm and one of Washington’s leading libel lawyers in an effort to cajole or intimidate its critics into silence.

“These reports prove that this industry must be regulated by U.S. legislation and/or international treaty. Cyber-hacking on this scale is an incredibly lucrative business in which the more dangerous the technology, the more money is to be made. If restraints aren’t imposed, the damage could spread exponentially in coming years.”

Public Banking Gaining Traction in California

MICHAEL BRENNAN, mryanbrennan@gmail.com@mrbrnn
Brennan is a research fellow for The Democracy Collaborative and just published the report “Constructing the Democratic Public Bank: A Governance Proposal for the Los Angeles Public Bank.” They also published a Public Banks policy kit for the Democracy Policy Network. Last year, Brennan had an op-ed in the Washington Post on the need for public banks in response to the pandemic.

Brennan explains: “In 2019, California passed AB-857, allowing the state to charter ten local public banks. The grassroots group Public Bank Los Angeles has been organizing since 2017 to advance public banking, and legislation to create a business plan for the public bank in Los Angeles is currently pending before the City Council. In June, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance mandating a task force create the business and governance plans for a public bank, and the California State Assembly passed AB-1177, which would create a free retailing banking public option. Ten cities and counties in central California have recently passed resolutions to begin the process of creating a joint regional public bank.

“The emerging California public banks have the potential to address a host of economic, social, and ecological crises, and public banking efforts across the country are looking to California’s cities and regions to lead the way. State and local governments need public financial infrastructure to recapture the public’s money being extracted by private banks and bond investors. The economic recovery from COVID-19 must be equitable. The ongoing housing crisis demands better tools to keep tenants and the public in control of housing and real estate development. To address the climate crisis, the financial sector must embed social values beyond profit. Economic development needs a paradigm shift toward community wealth building, especially as part of strategies for reparations for Black and Indigenous peoples.

“But with public banks moving now to a question of ‘how,’ rather than ‘if,’ movements have to begin critically considering the governance design of these banks. Because banking, finance, and policymaking are intentionally obscure and technocratic terrains, ensuring the new public banks are designed to address these crises requires ongoing popular education and engagement.”

Propaganda Campaign Against Cuba

JAMES EARLY, early1947@aol.com
Early has visited Cuba many times over 45 years. He is the former Smithsonian Institution assistant secretary for education and public service and was director of its Cultural Heritage Policy Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

He said today: “The widely propagated U.S. media reports and images in support of public demonstrations in Cuba and criticism of the Cuban government have invited proposals to punish the Cuban government by continuing and expanding draconian Trump administration policies. This would lead to further deterioration of the already suffering national economy, heighten frustrations of Cubans across the ideological and political spectrum, and plummet the material quality of life for all Cubans caused mainly by the global pandemic and U.S. economic warfare called the ‘Cuban Embargo’ by the U.S. government, and ‘Blockade’ by Cubans. …

Early called for scrutiny of “blame pronounced in U.S. mainstream media and the threadbare standard propaganda of Democratic and Republican Party administrations” against Cuba.

He stressed that there has been more open, internal criticism within Cuba: “Contrary to President Biden’s uninformed or intentional mischaracterization of recent protests in Cuba that the Cuban government is denying the needs of its citizens to ‘enrich themselves,’ Cuban President Diaz Canal Bermudez has proactively convened government officials and Cuban citizens to assert national sovereignty and assume responsibility for informing the nation of the causes of their economic predicament, including inefficiencies in government economic plans, and explained proposals for resolving the crisis and public conflicts without external intervention. …

“We urgently call upon all U.S. citizens to demand that the Biden-Harris administration implement its campaign promise to drop Trump Cuba policy, which he said has ‘inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights,’ to restart normal diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States crafted by former presidents Barak Obama and Raul Castro, and take immediate steps to dismantle the inhumane and illegal embargo economic warfare against the Cuban people and the Cuban government.”

See in-depth pieces and interviews with Early on The Real News, including on Cuba.

Last month, UN News reported: “A total of 184 countries … voted in favour of a resolution to demand the end of the U.S. economic blockade on Cuba, for the 29th year in a row, with the United States and Israel voting against.”

Is Big Pharma’s Dominance Through Bayh-Dole Act Finally Getting Scrutiny from Biden?

STAT News in “Biden’s executive order would pause a Trump rule forbidding march-in rights to lower drug costs” reports: “In a little-noticed move, the Biden administration has hit the pause button on a rule that would prevent the federal government from using a controversial legal provision for combating the high prices of products developed with taxpayer dollars.”

(Last week, STAT News reported: “Major pharmaceutical companies and trade groups helped fund the campaigns of more than 2,400 state legislators nationwide in the 2020 election.” STAT News focuses on health issues and is produced by Boston Globe Media.)

JAMES LOVE, james.love@keionline.org, @jamie_love
    Love is director Knowledge Ecology International, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization that “searches for better outcomes, including new solutions, to the management of knowledge resources.” KEI is focused on “social justice, particularly for the most vulnerable populations, including low-income persons and marginalized groups.”

    He said today: “The Bayh-Dole Act, passed in 1980, created a uniform policy for the management of patents on federally funded R&D. Among the provisions are some that can be used to increase competition and address abuses, such as excessive pricing. In the early 1990s, Congress pressed the federal government to curb high prices on federally funded drugs for HIV, cancer and rare diseases. In 1995, President Clinton announced he would no longer enforce reasonable pricing conditions in contracts. Since then, the NIH has rejected a number of petitions to use its rights to ‘march-in’ on patent rights, and grant licenses to generic manufacturers, when prices are excessive.

    “Universities and drug companies have lobbied aggressively and successfully for more than 20 years to prevent this from happening. There is a petition outstanding today by three prostate cancer patients for the government to grant a march-in request on Xtandi, a drug that costs $150k+ per year in the United States, and far less everywhere else. On Jan 5, 2021, NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] proposed a regulation to eliminate pricing as a grounds for a march-in request. The executive order put a hold on that provision, and now the Biden administration will have to rule on the Xtandi petition, which is before DoD. The precedent will be important for many other products.”

Haiti, Cuba and U.S. Interference

KIM IVES, kives15@gmail.com, @kimives13
    Ives is the English language editor for Haiti Liberté and has recently been interviewed on “Anti-Empire Project” and “Democracy Now!” and other programs following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse.

    The New York Times states: “Haitian Officials Say U.S.-Based Suspect in President’s Killing Was Seeking Power.”

    Ives states that many in Haiti assess that the assassination is linked to wealthy families in Haiti. Ives notes: “Moïse’s government had issued an arrest warrant for Reginald Boulos, perhaps the most prominent member of this sector, and was on the verge of seizing his facilities in Haiti. On top of that, the entire bourgeoisie was panicked” because of the “growing organization of armed groups in Haiti’s impoverished shantytowns. Their leader, former police officer Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier last week declared a ‘revolution’ against the bourgeoisie, saying that the people were preparing to raid their grocery stores, banks, and car dealerships.” See “Suspected Assassins of Haitian President Moïse Trained by US, Linked to Pro-Coup Oligarchy” by Dan Cohen, which quotes Ives. Ives also notes that Boulos hired a D.C. lobbyist two days before the assasination of Moïse.

    Ives also notes: “There had been dozens of protests against Jovenel Moïse over the past months, but they hardly made a blip on the mainstream media’s radar. Contrast that coverage to the hullabaloo being made about one protest in Cuba and you get an idea of how dismissive and downplaying the U.S. scribe press is toward protest against a Washington ally.”

The BBC states: “Cuba protests: Thousands rally against government as economy struggles.”

JAMES EARLY, earlytempos@gmail.com
    Early has visited Cuba many times over 45 years. He is the former Smithsonian Institution assistant secretary for education and public service and was director of its Cultural Heritage Policy Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

    He said today: “First we have to face the material reality inside Cuba — a decades-long U.S. bipartisan economic sanctions war which was intensified by Trump and continued by Biden-Harris. Cuba is especially vulnerable to this because of its dependence on limited natural resources and its own self-critical attempts to rectify its economic policy. The U.S. government economic war, despite U.S. corporate projects desirous of normal economic relations with Cuba, was designed to undermine the economy and compel the people to rise up against their elected officials. And they are elected, though their system is different from others.

    “And prior president Raúl Castro had called for more self-reflection and self-criticism to consolidate the county’s achievements over the past 60 years, and to rectify its errors and failures independent of the U.S. blockade. So, we’re seeing these protests in the U.S. media significantly orchestrated via Cuban dissidents inside and outside Cuba openly funded by the U.S. State Department. What we’re not seeing is that the current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has said that the Communist Party and the Cuban government are obligated to improve their performance in collaboration with a proactive critical citizenry. Despite the economic woes suffered by all Cubans, there is a refreshing, open critical debate mostly to improve the existing inefficiencies of the economic and political system in Cuba. ….

    “This even includes people calling for a return to corporate capitalism. What’s needed is that the Cuban people have that open debate about their own internal development. They can’t have that with the U.S. government waging an economic war or talking about some sort of interventionist humanitarian salvation. Such claims from the Biden administration are ridiculous given their backing of the brutal Colombian government or the apartheid Israeli government’s constant attacks on the Palestinians.”

    People in the U.S. should “demand that the U.S. government abandon the economic blockade and allow Cuban citizens and their government to address and resolve their own internal disputes within the frameworks and protocols established by the community of nations that overwhelmingly vote against the U. S. blockade.”

    See from UN on June 23: “UN General Assembly calls for U.S. to end Cuba embargo for 29th consecutive year.”

    See in-depth pieces and interviews with Early from The Real News with Early, including on Cuba.

Image source: Wikipedia

Fact: Biden Plans to Continue Bombing Afghanistan

An NBC headline claims: “Biden defends decision to end war in Afghanistan.” Similarly, a recent New York Times headline claims: “Unlikely Coalition of Veterans Backs Biden on Ending Afghan War.”

Nick Mottern in “Biden Betrays Another Campaign Pledge — Admits that U.S. Will Continue to Bomb Afghanistan” scrutinizes comments Biden made on July 4: “When the President refers to ‘over-the-horizon capacity that we can be value added,’ he is referring to a plan, that appears might cost $10 billion, to fly drones and manned attack aircraft from bases as far away as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.”

Similarly, David Swanson in “Biden Defends Ending a War He’s Not Fully Ending” notes that Biden’s remarks on Thursday referred to “counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on any direct threats to the United States in the region, and act quickly and decisively if needed.”

On July 6, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby was asked for examples of continued military operations. He responded: “the way you’ve seen it being conducted in the past, through — through airstrikes.”

Late last month a petition was launched: “To: President Joe Biden — No More U.S. Air Attacks in Afghanistan” to forestall such continued war-making. See June 29 IPA news release: “Former State Dept. Officials Call on Biden to Bar ‘Over the Horizon’ Drone Attacks in Afghanistan.”

Signers of the petition include:

Matthew Hoh – Former U.S. Marine officer and resigned U.S. State Department official in Afghanistan

Kathy Kelly – Peace activist who has made 30 trips to Afghanistan and co-coordinator BanKillerDrones.org

Media contact: Nick Mottern — nickmottern@gmail.com

Haiti and the Disaster Foreign Manipulation Has Wrought

The Miami Herald reports in “Haiti President Jovenel Moïse assassinated in middle-of-the-night attack at his home“: “The assailants apparently claimed to be agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to videos taken by people in the area of the president’s home. Moïse, 53, lived in Pelerin 5, a neighborhood just above the hills in the capital.

“On the videos, someone with an American accent is heard yelling in English over a megaphone, ‘DEA operation. Everybody stand down. DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down.'”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “These reports are absolutely false.”

See Wednesday Institute for Public Accuracy news release on Haiti. Also see Twitter list on Haiti.

AMY WILENTZ, awilentz@uci.edu@amywilentz
Wilentz is author of numerous books on Haiti including The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier and Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti. She can talk about the history of Haiti and how U.S. interventions have “inspired enmity and disgust” among the Haitian people.

See Twitter thread on U.S. interventions in Haiti.

CHRIS BERNADEL, cbernadel@protonmail.com@Blacks4Peace
Bernadel is on the Haiti Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace; both of his parents are Haitian immigrants. See the group’s statement from Wednesday: “Will the Biden administration and other political players use this moment as the pretext for military intervention, as was done in 1915? Will interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph attempt to consolidate power under the pretext of the current state of siege? Will the Core Group find a new willing puppet, more pliable than Moïse, to bring ‘stability?'”

EMMANUELA DOUYON, [in Haiti] emmanuela.douyon@gmail.com@emmadouyon
Douyon testified in March before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on what Biden administration policy on Haiti should be. She said today: “Since last June, with the collective of activists, NOU PAP DOMI (We Will Not Sleep), I have been actively denouncing the increase in violence in Haiti and urging the authorities to act accordingly. A friend and fellow activist, Netty Duclaire, was killed less than a week ago along with 18 other Haitian citizens. I am mourning and now comes this terrible news.

“Never would I have imagined that the head of the country would be assassinated. If he can be assassinated in his home, who is safe in this country? Whose life matters in this country? How are we supposed to keep going and keep burying our loved ones?

“We, young activists, Petrochallengers, tried to warn the international community with the hashtag #freeHaiti but it was to no avail. We are not receiving the kind of support we need whether it’s from the UN or other countries and organizations. This partly explains why the situation keeps getting worse and we can’t see the impact of all the aid received, not to mention that because of corruption there is at least one notable case of mismanagement of aid money: the Petrocaribe scandal.

“I am shocked by the news of the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse. This shows the extent to which violence reigns in Haiti. Justice must be served. We, the Haitian people, must stop the current political crisis and end the vicious cycle of violence.”

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