“He’s Got Eight Numbers, Just Like Everybody Else”

by Kathy Kelly

April 3, 2020

On April 4, 2020, my friend Steve Kelly will begin a third year of imprisonment in Georgia’s Glynn County jail. He turned 70 while in prison, and while he has served multiple prison sentences for protesting nuclear weapons, spending two years in a county jail is unusual even for him. Yet he adamantly urges supporters to focus attention on the nuclear weapons arsenals which he and his companions aim to disarm. “The nukes are not going to go away by themselves,” read more

Could this virus and economic crisis be a revolutionary moment?: Marx on COVID-19

By Ron Ridenour

Copenhagen“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre ofCovid-19. For Marx and Engels writing the Communist Manifesto, in 1848, that spectre was communism, their political system of choice. This flaring ghost they described frightened the capitalist class, which endeavored to exorcise its breath.

The contemporary specter (thesis-see note) is a new corona virus, code named COVID-19. The spectre of communism lurks for a rebirth as the capitalist read more

Money for pandemics, not for war!: We Have Met the Enemy and It’s a Tiny Virus

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Over the course of just a couple of days last week, the backbone of the US Navy’s Pacific fleet was just been shut down for the next month. The enemy that managed to cause this sudden surprise unilateral disarmament of the mighty US Navy’s Pacific Fleet was not Russian or Chinese cyber hackers or a sneak attack by some foreign enemy. Rather, it was just a tiny virus, COVID-19, that infected one crew member on each of two $13-billion Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carriers.

The USS Reagan and its carrier group of support vessels is now holed up in Japan with at least two infected crew members on board so far and others being quarantined.  Meanwhile, the USS Roosevelt, which had been steaming from the its homeport in San Diego armed to the teeth with attack aircraft, bombs other weapons, towards a mission in the South China Sea, has been urgently rerouted to Guam with an onboard epidemic that has already spread to a total of 38 sailors among it’s “Big Stick” crew of 5000.

This effective sidelining of the US Pacific Fleet’s only two carrier groups by some microscopic specks of inanimate RNA protoplasm, offers a perfect metaphor for the absurdity of the decades-long US misallocation of trillions of dollars to the military in the name of national security.

Clearly, the fact that the Navy, deprived of required air cover for the next month, is in no position to engage in significant military action in the Pacific doesn’t put the US in any jeopardy — only the crews of its two carrier groups, who are at risk a spreading coronavirus infection.

Meanwhile, though, the global pandemic caused by that same virus has infected nearly three-quarters of a million people around the globe and close to 150,000 here in America, which has replaced China as the epicenter of the pandemic. The US economy has already been brought to a screeching halt because of a lockdown of the population in most states and urban centers, while hospitals are being overrun with coronavirus patients and their doctors and nurses in desperate need of scarce ventilators, masks, test kits  or just empty hospital beds.

Amid this unprecedented crisis, the Pentagon, Energy Department and other military agencies, are seemingly running on autopilot, continuing to spend over a trillion dollars a year (including $13 billion on yet another new carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, scheduled to be finished and ready for testing later this year), much of it on weapons intended for imagined wars against major powers like Russia and China, or intended for future interventions in countries around the world most Americans cannot even find on a map.

All this spending on arms is happening as it becomes increasingly clear that the biggest threat to the security of the American people is not foreign militaries or terrorist groups, but rather a tiny virus that is completely immune to all the weapons…

 

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to:  https://thiscantbehappening.net/we-have-met-the-enemy-and-its-a-tiny-virus

Vigil for Peace in Yemen – a New Norm

March 27, 2020

For the past three years, several dozen New Yorkers have gathered each Saturday at Union Square, at 11:00 a.m. to vigil for peace in Yemen.

Now, however, due to the coronavirus, the vigil for peace is radically altered. Last week, in recognition of the city’s coming shelter in place program, participants were asked to hold individual vigils at their respective homes on the subsequent Saturday mornings. Normally, during the public vigils, one or more participants would provide updates on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the ongoing war, and U.S. complicity. As COVID-19 threatens to engulf war-torn Yemen, it is even more critical to raise awareness of how the war debilitates the country.

If the vigil for peace were to gather in Union Square this Saturday, activists most certainly would draw attention to how Turkish officials  indicted 20 Saudi nationals for the murder of the dissident writer, Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey’s investigation of the murder and dismemberment of Mr. Khashoggi indicts 18 people for committing the murder and names two officials for incitement to murder. One of them, General Ahmad Al-Asiri, a close associate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was deputy chief of intelligence when Mr. Khashoggi was murdered.

Numerous news reports over the past five years establish a pattern of Mr. Al-Asiri responding to inquiries about Saudi-led coalition military attacks against Yemen civilians with misleading statements, outright denials and attempted cover-ups.

For example, On August 30th, 2015, according to Human Rights Watch, a Saudi coalition led airstrike attacked the Al-Sham Water Bottling Factory in the outskirts of Abs, in northern Yemen. The strike destroyed the factory and killed 14 workers, including three boys, and wounded 11 more.

Later on August 30, after the airstrike, Gen. Al-Asiri told Reuters that the plant was not a bottling factory, but rather a place where Houthis made explosive devices. However, all of the individuals Human Rights Watch interviewed concurred:

…that plant was being used to bottle water and was not used for any military purposes… A group of international journalists traveled to the site of the blast two days after it was hit and reported that they could not find evidence of any military targets in the area. They said that they carefully examined the site, and took photos and videos of piles of scorched plastic bottles melted together from the heat of the explosion. They could not find any evidence that the factory was being used for military purposes.

Meanwhile, Yemenis were desperately trying to contend with rising cases of cholera caused by shortages of clean water.

In October, 2015, when eyewitnesses declared a hospital in northern Yemen run by Doctors Without Borders was destroyed by Saudi-led coalition warplanes, Gen. Al-Asiri told Reuters coalition jets had been in action over Saada governorate but had not hit the hospital.

On August 15, 2016,  a Saudi-led bombing campaign again targeted a hospital in northern Yemen supported by Doctors Without Borders. 19 people were killed.

The Abs hospital was bombed two days after Saudi airstrikes attacked a school in northern Yemen, killing ten students and wounding dozens more.

Yet Saudi officials continued to insist they struck military targets only. Commenting on the August 13 school attack, Gen. Al-Asiri said the dead children were evidence the Houthis were recruiting children as guards and fighters.

“We would have hoped,” General Al-Asiri said, that Doctors Without Borders “would take measures to stop the recruitment of children to fight in wars instead of crying over them in the media.”

In one of the deadliest attacks of the war, on October 8, 2016, the Saudi-led military coalition’s fighter jets repeatedly bombed a hall filled with mourners during a funeral for an official in the capital city of Sana. At least 140 people were killed and 550 more were wounded.

General Al-Asiri, still a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, suggested there were other causes for the blast and later reported the coalition had not carried out any strikes near the hall. But outraged U.N. officials, backed up by videos on social media, insisted that airstrikes had massacred the mourners.

The U.S. has steadily sided with Saudi Arabia, including supplying it with weapons, training its armed forces and covering for it in the United Nations Security Council. But “Defense One,” a U.S. news agency intending to provide news and analysis for national security leaders and stakeholders, recently issued a stinging rebuke to the Kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. They denounced the “humanitarian abomination ushered by Riyadh’s war in Yemen,” and called his leadership “as destabilizing to the Middle East as its Iranian rival.” Defense One urged Washington to discontinue enabling “Riyadh’s most reckless behavior.”

Turkey’s indictment of 20 Saudi nationals for murder and their insistence that Mr. Al-Asiri bears responsibility may help move the court of public opinion to resist all support for the Kingdom’s ongoing war in Yemen.

Particularly now, with intense focus on U.S. health care, it’s timely to recognize that in the past five years U.S. supported Gulf Coalition airstrikes bombed Yemen’s health care facilities 83 times. As parents here care for children during school closures, they should be reminded that since December 13, 2018, eight Yemeni children have been killed or injured every single day. Most of the children killed were playing outdoors with their friends or were on their way to or from school. According to the Yemen Data Project, more than 18,400 civilians have been killed or injured by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies since the initial  bombing campaign in 2015.

U.S. national security leaders and stakeholders in war, as they shelter in place, have an extraordinary opportunity to set a new norm and link with the vigil for Peace in Yemen, virtually. And, some may even join Yale students on April 9, from sunrise to sunset, in their National Fast for Peace in Yemen. They invite us to pledge support for Doctors Without Borders and other relief groups in Yemen.

Photo (Bill Ofenloch): Activists practice “physical distancing” at a Saturday morning vigil for Peace in Yemen, Union Square, NYC

Kathy Kelly (kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Speaking Truth to Empire

Speaking Truth to Empire on KFCF 88.1 FM independently owned and locally operated since 1975 in Fresno, California. Dan Yaseen interviews Jeff J. Brown; he is a geopolitical analyst, journalist, lecturer and the author of The China Trilogy, which consists of 44 Days Backpacking in China”, “China Rising – Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations” and “China Is Communist, Dammit!-Dawn of the Red Dynasty”. They will discuss spread of Coronavirus and its geopolitical implications.  His website is: http://www.chinarising.puntopress.com/

 

The attack on Medicare for All is on: Saying Government-Funded Healthcare’s Too Costly is Nuts…Unless You Think the US Uniquely Can’t Do It

 

y Dave Lindorff

The new corporate media and conservative Democratic argument against front-runner Bernie Sanders’ eminently logical proposal for creating a single-payer government health insurance program that he calls “Medicare for All” is that it would destroy the huge health insurance industry and put 1.8 million insurance industry employees out on the street.

 

That is about the stupidest argument for not making an urgent reform of an outrageous pirate-capitalist system I can imagine!

 

To get a sense of how crazy this argument is, let’s look back at the history of capitalist development. When the steam engine was invented and ships started using motors instead of being drawn through canals by mule or sailed across the sea by wind-power (a labor-intensive process), did anyone worry about all the mule-drivers or sailors being put out of work by the technology shift? When the automobile was invented, did anyone worry about the collapse of the horse-breeding business, which at the time was huge, or the collapse of the passenger rail and trolly industries? When oil was discovered and refineries began cracking crude into useable oil, gasoline and kerosene, did anyone worry about the rapid collapse of the whaling industry? When electronics and the internet made operators redundant, did anyone worry about an army of unemployed switching and information-assistance operators? No, of course not! All of this “creative destruction” was viewed as progress. Losers from such shifts were expected to suck it up and find new employment.

 

Currently we are realizing that the coal, oil and gas industries are threatening to destroy the earth, so nations (excepting the US) are working to shut down those industries as quickly as possible, replacing the with clean energy alternatives like solar and wind power. It would be ludicrous to say (as the Trump administration, and some conservative Democrats do), “Well, we can’t save civilization and indeed the entire biosphere of the earth because energy workers will lose their jobs.”

 

Healthcare in the US needs a revolution

 

Well, health care is the same. The US health care system is a top-heavy, over-priced disaster costing some $3.5 trillion a year in public and private funds, and about $12,000 a year for a family of four, if you count privately paid insurance premiums, company-paid premiums (which come out of profits, competitiveness and of course worker salary budgets), co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. It’s a system that despite costing twice what any other modern nation spends on its health care leaves 30 million or one-in-ten Americans without any insurance coverage and another 50 million with costly insurance that doesn’t really cover expenses because of absurdly high deductibles that need to first be met, and because of so many needed procedures and drugs are excluded from coverage.

 

We can fix that, just as all other modern nations have already done, but…

 

 

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: https://thiscantbehappening.net/saying-government-funded-healthcares-too-costly-is-nutsunless-you-think-the-us-uniquely-cant-do-it/

Speaking Truth to Empire

On “Speaking Truth to Empire” on KFCF 88.1 independently owned and locally operated since 1975 in Fresno, Dan Yaseen interviews Miko Peled an Israeli-American peace activist and author. He grew up in a Zionist family, his grandfather was a signer on the Israeli Declaration of Independence and his father was a general in the Israeli Army.

Miko has dedicated his life to writing, speaking and activism focused on transforming the racist Zionist regime in Palestine into one democratic state with equal rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. Topic of discussion includes the so called ‘deal of the century’ announced by Trump and Netanyahu. He blogs at: www.mikopeled.com

What’s a social democratic political program really mean?: Truly Remaking Social Security is the Key to Having a Livable Society in the US

 

By Dave Lindorff

Social Security is back in the news, as both Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg, two emblematic one-percenter oligarchs, raise the issue of its future as part of their campaign strategy.

Trump (a faux wannabe billionaire) has put Americans on notice that while he may have promised during his 2016 campaign “not to touch” the New Deal’s most lasting legacy program, on which some 70 million Americans –- the elderly and the disabled as well as dependent children of those dependent upon Social Security rely —  during his term of office as president, he is ready to start hacking away in a second term. His first target:  benefits for the disabled.

Meanwhile, Michael Bloomberg, America’s eighth-richest man with $62 billion in assets at last count (minus the third of a billion has just spent so far on an ads-only campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination), is promising to “strengthen” and “improve” Social Security if he becomes the country’s first oligarch/president.

But before we get all excited about improved Social Security, let’s consider what that could mean.  First of all, most of the time when US politicians, like Bloomberg, talk about “strengthening” or “improving” social security, they are actually talking about making it harder to get, by for example raising the full-retirement age for receiving benefits, or adopting a cost-of-living metric that further reduces that adjustment made for inflation each year, so that actual benefits decline gradually over time with no actual numerical cut in the dollar amounts received.

As things stand the CPI measure used for adjusting Social Security benefits for inflation is an index designed to reflect the costs experienced by urban service workers, not the elderly. For the current year benefits were raised 1.6%, a ludicrously low amount by any standard, but wholly unlike the inflation that the elderly, whose major expenses are for food, housing and healthcare, have actually been hit with. (According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices rose 1.9% in that year, housing costs rose 2.9% and health care costs rose 2%.) Many politicians in Congress, especially Republicans (Bloomberg’s party of choice from 2000 until 2018) want to use something called a “chained CPI) which would vastly lower inflation adjustments by substituting a cheaper product whenever one included in the index rises substantially in price, the theory being that low-income consumers will shift to a cheaper product as prices rises — for example switching from beef to chicken as meat prices rise, or from a car to a bus if car prices and/or fuel prices rise.)

So beware of those talking of “strengthening” Social Security without reading all the fine print!

But beyond that, let’s consider how inadequate Social Security really is as things now stand.

So-called think tank “experts” and politicians, Republican and Democratic, are wont to remind us all the time that Social Security “was never intended to be a primary pension” for Americans…

 

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: https://thiscantbehappening.net/truly-remaking-social-security-is-the-key-to-having-a-liveable-society-in-the-us/

Democrats need backbone on militarism to win in 2020: Iran is NOT Responsible for US Dead in Iraq

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Who exactly is responsible for US casualties in Iraq during the Iraq War? The question has been raised thanks to President Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian General Qessim Suleimani.

On January 13, the New York Times published a front-page story about a lawsuit filed against Iran in federal court by US veterans and veteran families; it charges Iran with wounding or killing these men. The crux of the lawsuit is that the explosive devices that killed and maimed these soldiers were designed by Iran’s Quds Force led by General Suleimani. Whether this is true or not, the allegation has been used to argue the general’s assassination by a drone was justified. On the day he was killed Soleimani was reportedly to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to advance a fledgling peace dialogue with Saudi Arabia. Thus, Democrats and other Americans concerned about avoiding future wars should be arguing the Suleimani drone hit was a criminal act to thwart peace negotiations.

In 1980, Iraq initiated a war with its much larger neighbor Iran that like a runway train stretched into an incredibly gruesome and bloody eight-year war in which the US allied with Iraq and supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons and intelligence; over a million people died in that war. Next, there was the Gulf War in which the US turned on its ally Saddam Hussein. 9/11 happened and the United States invaded and occupied Afghanistan, the smaller, weaker neighbor to Iran’s east. In 2003, the most powerful nation in the world, then, chose to send a huge army halfway around the world to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq, Iran’s smaller neighbor to the west. The US wrecked the Arab city of Baghdad.  While many Americans are ignorant of the geography, Iranians knew that these US decisions left their country boxed in by its very powerful worst enemy.

In 1953, CIA and British intelligence operators overthrew the legitimately elected government of Iran and installed the Shah, who became a bloody tyrant who turned Iran into a US proxy in the Middle East; it already had Israel filling that role. The indisputable fact is the United States has militarily dominated the Iranian people since the 1953 coup. At the beginning, the issue was control of Iranian oil. By 1979, the Shah’s brutality had pushed opposition to the level of critical mass and the so-called Islamic Revolution threw out the Shah. This led to the hostage crisis that destroyed Jimmy Carter’s presidential career.

To expect the sovereign nation of Iran to passively accept United States military action on its eastern and western borders and not to look out for its own interests is willfully naïve and arrogantly hypocritical. Unfortunately, this is typical of US war-making behavior…

 

For the rest of this article by JOHN GRANT in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: https://thiscantbehappening.net/iran-is-not-responsible-for-us-dead-in-iraq/

Speaking Truth to Empire

On “Speaking Truth to Empire” on KFCF 88.1 independently owned and locally operated since 1975 in Fresno, Dan Yaseen interviews Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange. Topics of discussion include worsening U.S. – Iranian crisis and the fallout from Trump’s ill-advised murder of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Medea is a human rights advocate, an author and a peace & justice activist. She has worked for social justice and human rights in Asia, the Americas, and Africa for over 30 years.