News Release Archive - Media

Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War, but Will He?

SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, @shireen818
Al-Adeimi an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University. Since 2015, she has played an active role in raising awareness about the Saudi-led war on her country of birth, Yemen, and works to encourage political action to end U.S. support.

She just wrote the piece “Biden Says He’s Ending the Yemen War — But It’s Too Soon to Celebrate” for In These Times. She gives Biden credit for positive moves, but scrutinizes his speech at the State Department yesterday in which he said: “We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen including relevant arms sales. … At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks and UAV strikes and other threats from Iranian supplied forces in multiple countries. We are going to continue to help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.”
But Al-Adeimi notes: “Unfortunately, qualifiers like ‘offensive’ and ‘relevant’ do not signal a clear commitment to ending all forms of support for the U.S. war in Yemen, which includes targeting assistance, weapons sales (the U.S. is the largest supplier of arms to Saudi Arabia), logistics, training, and intelligence sharing with the Saudi-led coalition. Labeling Yemen’s Houthis as ‘Iranian supplied forces,’ and making a commitment to defending Saudi Arabia’s ‘sovereignty,’ echoes President Obama’s initial pretense for entering the war on Yemen in 2015. …

“Importantly, [National Security Advisor Jake] Sullivan noted that ending the war in Yemen ‘does not extend to actions against AQAP,’ or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. While sanctioned by the [2001] AUMF [which is continuing to be used to justify attacks in many countries], it’s important to oppose this parallel U.S.-led war in Yemen that has also led to the killing of civilians.

“Now, more than ever, it is vital to hold a firm line about what a real end to U.S. participation in the Yemen war means: an end to all U.S. assistance, including intelligence sharing, logistical help, training, providing spare parts transfers for warplanes, bomb targeting, weapons sales and support for the naval blockade (we still don’t know the full extent of U.S. support for the latter). It also requires that the United States immediately reverse the Trump administration’s designation of the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), a determination that is cutting off critical aid to northern Yemen and significantly escalating the crisis of mass starvation.

“Because these things have not yet come to pass, it is critical to keep up the pressure until the war is really ended. As much as we might welcome positive messaging – no doubt a result of the pressure exerted by dogged organizers – we must not rest until we have won actual material relief. …

“The Obama-Biden administration made numerous announcements in 2012 and 2013 that it would end the U.S. war in Afghanistan by 2014. But we saw that declarations do not, in themselves, end U.S. aggression. This principle especially applies when declarations are loaded with red-flag-raising qualifiers like ‘offensive operations’ and ‘relevant weapons systems.'”

Are they “Debates” or Joint Televised Appearances?

Media analyst Jeff Cohen comments: “When you see the VP candidates ignoring most questions and giving stump speeches that make the ‘debate’ look more like a ‘NATIONALLY TELEVISED JOINT APPEARANCE,’ that’s by design. Literally. It happens because nonpartisan groups and independent journalists don’t run the debates.

“Instead, the debate rules and moderators are dictated by the two major parties — operating behind the fig leaf of a ‘Debate Commission’ set up to remove control over debates from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters (which had run the presidential and VP debates in 1976, ‘80 and ‘84). In 1985, as the national chairs of the two major parties — Democrat Paul Kirk and GOPer Frank Fahrenkopf — moved to sideline the League and set up their Commission, they signed a remarkable agreement that referred to future debates as ‘nationally televised joint appearances conducted between the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the two major political parties … It is our conclusion that future joint appearances should be principally and jointly sponsored and conducted by the Republican and Democratic Committees.’ (Joint Memorandum of Agreement on Presidential Candidate Joint Appearances, Nov. 26, 1985.)

Thus, Susan Page was inaccurate when she claimed at the beginning of the event last night that it was sponsored by the “nonpartisan” Commission on Presidential Debates. The group is a creation of the Democratic and Republican parties, and is bipartisan.

Beckerman is the founder and director of Open the Debates, “a cross-partisan effort to open up and elevate the political debates of our nation.” The group states: “Three-quarters of U.S. voters agree that if you are on enough state ballots to win the Electoral College, you should be in the debates. But the corrupt Commission on Presidential Debates has squashed that principled sentiment like a bug, cycle after cycle.”

He just co-wrote the piece “The Two-Party System’s Failure Opens Door for Independent Debate,” for Independent Voter News, which notes: “This week, at least five presidential contenders will join us in Denver for another open presidential debate. With the Commission on Presidential Debates reeling from its poor stewardship of the debate process, Thursday’s cross-partisan debate is an opportunity for the nation to advance a much more meaningful political discourse — one that represents our deep yearnings for a more perfect union.”

Zoom Censors University Event

Nora Barrows-Friedman reports in the Electronic Intifada: “Major Silicon Valley companies censored an event at San Francisco State University on Wednesday.

“This means that during the pandemic, private companies closely aligned with the government have immense power over what can be said, even in an academic setting.

“Zoom, the web-based videoconferencing platform, announced Tuesday evening that it was prohibiting SFSU from using its software to host a planned webinar on Wednesday with Leila Khaled, the Palestinian resistance icon who is now in her seventies and lives in Jordan. … A member of the left-wing political group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Khaled is best known for her role in a series of plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970. She has not been involved in any armed resistance activities in decades.”

Abdulhadi is director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora program at San Francisco State University. She co-moderated the event with Tomomi Kinukawa. They said in a statement: “This censorship violates our freedom of speech and academic freedom as faculty to teach, deprives our students from the right to learn, and denies the general public the right to hear from speakers who are not readily available in mainstream media.” Other panelists were a former member of the armed wing of the African National Congress, a current member of Jewish Voice for Peace and a former member of the Black Liberation Army.

Khalidi, director of Palestine Legal, said: “This is a dangerous attack on free speech and academic freedom from Big Tech: Zoom cannot claim veto power over the content of our nation’s classrooms and public events. The threat to democracy is elevated by the fact that Zoom’s decision to stamp out discussion of Palestinian freedom comes in response to a systematic repression campaign driven by the Israeli government and its allies.”

Jillian York, author of the forthcoming book Silicon Values tweeted: “Note that this is ToS [terms of service] and not law, despite what Facebook and co have repeatedly and incorrectly claimed. … The New York Times can and has hosted op-eds from US-designated terrorists; so too can Facebook host their page or Zoom their call. They just don’t want to so they conveniently claim it’s the law.”

See also from CommonDreams: “Advocates Demand Facebook #StopCensoringPalestine After Platform Blocks Livestream Featuring Palestinian Rights Defenders.”

Why Is Barr Prosecuting Catholic Peace Activists?

On Wednesday at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Attorney General William Barr denounced “a new orthodoxy that is actively hostile to religion,” arguing that “militant secularists” are trying to move religion out of the public square and out of conversations on the common good. Trump also spoke and Barr accepted an award from the group. The event was held online and was delayed from its originally scheduled date in March.

The Catholic News Agency reported: “‘Separation of church and state does not mean — and never did mean — separation of religion and civics,’ said Barr, as he insisted Catholics should be more involved in public life through advocating for religious freedom.”

As Attorney General, Barr has continued to prosecute seven Catholic activists who attempted to fulfill the Biblical calling to turn swords into plowshares. At their trial last year, they were prevented from mounting a series of defenses, including invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Six of the defendants have sentencing dates currently scheduled for Oct 15 and 16.

One of the seven Catholic Plowshares activists, Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. In late December, the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

Colville, with the other six activists — known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 — entered a major nuclear weapons facility in Georgia on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. They were protesting U.S. nuclear weapons policy and sought to “nonviolently and symbolically disarm the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay.” Colville used a hammer made from melted-down guns to smash parts of a shrine to nuclear weapons at the facility.

One of the seven, Father Steven Kelly, a Jesuit priest, is in jail, where he has been for 29 months. Others, like Elizabeth McAlister, the elderly widow of Philip Berrigan, spent over 17 months in jail prior to trial with little media attention. Colville spent over a year in jail. The other defendants are Clare Grady of Ithaca, New York, Martha Hennessy from Vermont (the granddaughter of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker movement), Carmen Trotta from New York and Patrick O’Neill of North Carolina — who gave oral arguments regarding religious freedom.

They were supported in their efforts by many in the clergy, including Rev. Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
Said Colville: “The Trident Submarine is an idolatrous blasphemy against God. It’s mere existence refutes all of the basic tenets of faith that I have embraced as a Christian. While our leaders frequently invoke Christianity as this nation’s heritage, they wantonly violate its most basic command, namely, that we are to place our ultimate security in God alone, not in a weapon or a nation. Trident is an omnipresent threat to all life on the planet, and it has never been more urgent that the human community, and particularly the people of the United States, confront exactly what that reality means: We stand poised to murder our own children, for no other reason than to preserve our nation’s dominance in the world. This is the definition of idolatry. This is the definition of insanity.”

Bill Ofenloch,
Mary Anne Grady Flores,

Should Negative Things About the U.S. be Taught?

On Thursday Trump attacked the work of Howard Zinn, whose books include A People’s History of the United StatesUntil his death in 2010, Zinn was repeatedly featured on news releases.

Kumashiro is former dean, University of San Francisco School of Education. His books include Teaching toward Democracy.
He said today, “Here we go again. Yesterday’s attacks by the Trump administration on efforts to raise awareness about the historical and systemic nature of race and racism are not new.

“Divisive, un- or anti-American, biased, inflammatory — for decades, such were the claims made about efforts to teach a more accurate and complete history of the United States. From the multicultural curriculum of the Civil Rights era and the ‘people’s history’ by Howard Zinn, to recent struggles to include ethnic studies curriculum and the 1619 Project in schools, scholars and educators have long argued that curriculum is irresponsible, misleading, and undemocratic when it fails to include the experiences of marginalized groups, as well as the dynamics, systems, and ideologies that caused or perpetuated their disenfranchisement. Such inquiry is particularly important to make visible the many ways that race and racism are invisible, normalized, obscured, or rationalized, including in the curriculum itself. Not surprisingly, it is this whitewashed curriculum that often gets framed as objective and neutral, whereas efforts to raise awareness about the discomforting realities of race and racism get framed as, in Trump’s words, ‘toxic propaganda.’

“Two weeks ago, the White House directed against using taxpayer dollars to support ‘divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions’ — and by explicitly flagging trainings about ‘critical race theory’ and ‘white privilege,’ demonstrated once again the easy tendency to conflate studying racism with being divisive or weakening the nation. Yesterday, at the White House History Conference, Pence warned that, in schools, ‘some are seeking to erase our history.’ Trump attributed this erasure to ‘decades of leftwing indoctrination’ by the likes of Zinn and others, even threatening to withhold funding from California schools that teach the 1619 Project. Earlier that day, Education Secretary DeVos praised the ‘1776 Unites Curriculum’ for its more positive portrayal of the experience” of African Americans in the U.S. when “compared to the 1619 Project, and Trump echoed this praise and suggested that the government should support the creation of more such ‘pro-American’ curriculum.

“Our country cannot become more just and democratic without illuminating, addressing, and healing from its long legacies of injustices, including imperialism, colonialism, and racism, which means that continuing to deny or ignore the legacies and systems of racism that have defined the United States for centuries will only perpetuate the problems. The battle over what story about the United States gets taught in schools, and who gets to tell that story, is what makes education, at its core, one of the main sites of ideological struggle for any democratic society — and is, therefore, a battle that the general public must engage.”

See talk by Howard Zinn at MIT in 2005: “The Myth of American Exceptionalism.” “Democracy Now” played a clip from an interview with Zinn Friday morning that talked about overlooked heroes in U.S. political history, like Mark Twain, who was the Vice President of the Anti-Imperialist League and Helen Keller, who was a socialist.

How Racists Have Manipulated the Post Office

Commondreams reported recently: “Postmaster General Urged to ‘Immediately Step Aside’ as North Carolina AG Backs Probe Into Campaign Finance Fraud Allegations.”

Lusane is author of $20 and Change: Harriet Tubman, Andrew Jackson, and the Struggle for a Radical Democracy (forthcoming from City Lights Books) and The Black History of the White House.

He said today regarding Trump’s repeated attacks and statements about the Postal Service and mail-in balloting: “Regrettably, the Post Office has been used politically before by past administrations to disrupt efforts at racial justice or black progress. In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson, Trump’s favorite predecessor, sided with local officials in South Carolina who stopped the mail distribution of abolitionist materials. … Jackson, who had been a slave trader and a slaveowner … proposed federal legislation that would ‘prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern States, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.’ …

“In the early 20th century, the postal service went after Nashville black activist Callie House. In 1894, she founded and led the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty, and Pension Association that sought to win pensions for African Americans who had survived slavery. The movement grew to over 800,000 according to researcher Mary Francis Berry. Like other organizations of the period, she used the mail to solicit and receive donations for her movement. Unhappy with the effort by this black group, Postmaster General A. S. Burleson charged her and other Association leaders with using the mail to commit fraud in 1915. The U.S. government argued that since black survivors of slavery would never receive a pension, her campaign was criminally misleading. After her arrest and nearly year-long imprisonment in 1917-1918, the organization faded.

“Perhaps, most famously, the same law used to go after House was used against Pan-Africanist leader Marcus Garvey. Long under scrutiny by U.S. law enforcement for his strong advocacy of black repatriation to Africa, the newly formed Bureau of Investigation searched for a means to destroy him politically. Garvey’s Black Star Steamship Line, funded in part by mail solicitations, was in financial trouble, and this became an opening for his enemies. Using informants and perjured witnesses, Garvey was charged with mail fraud and convicted. He was sent to prison in 1925, although he was released and deported two years later.”

Journalism’s Gates Keepers

TIM SCHWAB,, @TimothyWSchwab

Available for a limited number of interviews, Schwab just wrote the in-depth investigative piece “Journalism’s Gates Keepers” for Columbia Journalism Review. He writes: “Gates’s generosity appears to have helped foster an increasingly friendly media environment for the world’s most visible charity. Twenty years ago, journalists scrutinized Bill Gates’s initial foray into philanthropy as a vehicle to enrich his software company, or a PR exercise to salvage his battered reputation following Microsoft’s bruising antitrust battle with the Department of Justice. Today, the foundation is most often the subject of soft profiles and glowing editorials describing its good works.

“During the pandemic, news outlets have widely looked to Bill Gates as a public health expert on covid—even though Gates has no medical training and is not a public official. PolitiFact and USA Today (run by the Poynter Institute and Gannett, respectively—both of which have received funds from the Gates Foundation) have even used their fact-checking platforms to defend Gates from ‘false conspiracy theories’ and ‘misinformation,’ like the idea that the foundation has financial investments in companies developing covid vaccines and therapies. In fact, the foundation’s website and most recent tax forms clearly show investments in such companies, including Gilead and CureVac.”

Schwab writes that he examined “twenty thousand charitable grants the Gates Foundation had made” and found “$250 million going toward journalism. Recipients included news operations like the BBC, NBC, Al Jazeera, ProPublica, National Journal, The Guardian, Univision, Medium, the Financial Times, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, Gannett, Washington Monthly, Le Monde, and the Center for Investigative Reporting; charitable organizations affiliated with news outlets, like BBC Media Action and the New York Times’ Neediest Cases Fund; media companies such as Participant, whose documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’ supports Gates’s agenda on charter schools; journalistic organizations such as the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the National Press Foundation, and the International Center for Journalists; and a variety of other groups creating news content or working on journalism, such as the Leo Burnett Company, an ad agency that Gates commissioned to create a ‘news site’ to promote the success of aid groups.”

Schwab scrutinizes NPR’s coverage and writes that “since 2000, the Gates Foundation has given NPR $17.5 million through ten charitable grants—all of them earmarked for coverage of global health and education, specific issues on which Gates works.”

Earlier this year, Schwab wrote the piece “Bill Gates’s Charity Paradox” for The Nation which documents how the Gates Foundation has given hundreds of millions of dollars to companies it is invested in, including Merck, Unilever and Novartis. It also documents how the Gates family and Foundation’s assets continue to grow, “raising questions about the long-term influence of billionaire philanthropy” in politics.

Trump in Kenosha

President Donald Trump is scheduled to travel to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday, where Jacob Blake was shot repeatedly by police in the back.

DENNIS J. BERNSTEIN, dennisjbernstein at, @burn_stick
Bernstein is the executive producer of the program “Flashpoints” and just wrote the piece “Don’t Expect Justice for Black People in Kenosha if Sheriff Beth Has His Way.

KEVIN ALEXANDER GRAY, kevinagray57 at, @kevinagray
Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina. He co-edited Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence which scrutinizes the impunity of perpetrators of violence to African Americans in U.S. society.

He is also author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics, which connects various issues, such as the drug war, to issues of oppression of African Americans and police violence. The book also lists Confederate and other memorials.

Many of his writings — including his essays “Rolling Back the Police State,” “What It Feels Like to be Black in America” and “Back to the Jim Crow Future” are available at Counterpunch and The Progressive.

Major Post Office Hearings Today

The House is having hearings with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Monday, see here for livestream. The following two analysts have done extensive research on the issues and are available for interviews:

CHRISTOPHER W. SHAW,, @chris_w_shaw   

Shaw is a historian and author of Preserving the People’s Post Office. He recently had an op-ed in the Washington Post: “Postal banking is making a comeback. Here’s how to ensure it becomes a reality.

He said today that since taking office, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s “actions have targeted the agency’s civic role and jeopardized voter participation in the 2020 election.

“People are starting to wake up to the need to regard the Postal Service not as a government agency that should emulate a business, but as a great public institution — enshrined in the Constitution — that has been under constant attack for decades, now accelerated under the Trump administration.

“The Postal Service is an essential public service offering a whole range of social benefits that are now under threat. By offering universal service at uniform postage rates, the U.S. Mail has bound the nation together for more than two centuries. By connecting every corner of the United States — no matter how remote — the Postal Service provides a crucial lifeline for low income Americans and residents of rural areas who otherwise would not receive affordable delivery. Post offices are centers of community life and local identity. Special postage rates for news and nonprofit organizations facilitate democracy and the public interest. Americans depend on the Postal Service for the delivery of 4 million critical prescription medications every day.”

LISA GRAVES, via Evan Vorpahl,, @itstruenorth

Graves is the executive director of the policy research group True North. She was recently on an IPA news release: “Behind the Attacks on the Post Office,” that scrutinized the conduct of DeJoy and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. A month ago, she wrote the brief “The Billionaire Behind Efforts to Kill the U.S. Postal Service,” about Charles Koch.

She said today: “Congress must insist that the mail sorting and delivery capacity be restored to the pre-Louis DeJoy level of this spring and machines that were removed be restarted or repaired. Congress must also restrict the power of Steve Mnuchin to interfere with the timely delivery of mail, including medicines and ballots, and provide the funding requested by the prior Postal leadership.

“Never before in the past century has the Postal Service leadership been held by such partisans as DeJoy and Mike Duncan [chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service], both of whom have financially aided not just the political campaigns of President Trump but also Senator Mitch McConnell. Never before has the Postal Service faces such a grave risk from the privatization pressures unleashed by billionaire Charles Koch.

“Congress should scrap the stacked and packed current Board of Governors, and take measures to ensure to restore its political independence and integrity and make sure future appointees are genuinely devoted to preserving and expanding the vital public service our Postal Service and its dedicated public servants provide.”

Biden: An FDR or Deficit Hawk?

BRANKO MARCETIC, branko.95.m at, @BMarchetich
Marcetic is author of the book Yesterday’s Man: the Case Against Joe Biden. See his recent pieces at In These Times and  Jacobin.

He said today: “Last night and since April, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his advisors have insisted the former vice president is planning what New York magazine in May called ‘an FDR-sized presidency.’ These claims have been amplified by a hopeful liberal press.

“Over the past week, however, Biden and his team have signaled they will not be following through on this promise. Last Saturday, Democratic congressional aides told the Hill the party likely wouldn’t push forward with Biden’s public health insurance option should he win, and would instead pursue tweaks to Obamacare, a claim the Biden campaign didn’t correct. Meanwhile, the Democratic convention featured hard-right Republican John Kasich assuring conservative viewers Biden wouldn’t ‘turn sharp left and leave them behind,’ in a four-day program targeted chiefly at Republican voters.

“Even Biden’s promise in his DNC speech last night to ‘protect Social Security and Medicare’ should be viewed with caution. A President Biden could try, as he suggested in 2018 and in private in 2014, to means-test Social Security and claim he is ‘protecting’ it from insolvency, without having technically cut it.

“Wall Street has happily highlighted similar, earlier signals. One financial advisory firm called the Biden-Bernie Sanders unity task forces ‘a very successful effort by Biden and his team to control the narrative and policy direction,’ while the chairman of another celebrated that ‘his pick of Harris reinforces’ that he won’t move left. Biden is now outraising Trump among Wall Street donors, with some of them giving the campaign policy advice, with one reportedly telling his staffers to match any big federal spending with budget cuts.

“Longtime Biden advisor Ted Kaufman has now told the Wall Street Journal Americans shouldn’t expect more spending should Biden win, warning that ‘what Trump’s done to the deficit’ means ‘we’re going to be limited.’ This appears to directly contradict Biden’s claim in May that he wanted something ‘a hell of a lot bigger’ than the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus and that massive public investment was the only way out of a deficit.

“All of this signals not just a narrowing of Biden’s ambitions, but the alarming prospect of austerity during the Covid recession. Biden is uniquely susceptible to budget-cutting dogma. He quickly became a fiscal hawk after entering the Senate in 1972, introducing the Federal Spending Control Act five years later to potentially put all federal spending programs on the chopping block, and musing that Reagan’s 1980 victory was ‘more consistent with the budgetary thrust that a guy like me … has been going for.’

“From the 1980s on, Biden has called for and introduced legislation aimed at slashing federal spending, including by cutting Medicare and Social Security. He voted three times for a balanced budget constitutional amendment, and as vice president, repeatedly made deals with Mitch McConnell and other Republicans to choke off government revenue and make drastic cuts to programs.

“By no means does this make Biden worse than President Trump, who has cut taxes for the rich while seeking massive cuts to these and other vital social programs, and recently proposed to do so again if he’s re-elected. But it’s a reminder that socialists, progressives, and rank-and-file Democratic voters must organize to hold Biden’s feet to the fire right now and after his prospective win in November, and be willing to take to the streets whether it’s a Republican or Democratic president who implements austerity.”