Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Princess of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)?

caravan |  Outside the venue, around two dozen people had gathered to protest. They were neither irate protestors opposing her domestic policies nor activists angered by her stance on America’s wars. They were people such as Baljit Kumar, a young Dalit refugee residing in nearby Riverside. “She supports the people I ran from in India,” Kumar told me. Claiming that Gabbard’s congressional campaign financing is heavily augmented by American affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—the parent organisation of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party—protestors held bold red, white and blue signs proclaiming her “Prince$$ of the R$$.” Since 2015, a handful of articles in online Western media outlets have speculated about Gabbard’s perceived closeness to the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and the BJP.

The mood inside the hall was different. As she concluded her speech, the crowd chanted: “Tulsi! Tulsi!” The emcee, Jimmy Dore—a comedian who hosts a popular YouTube show, and is a Gabbard supporter—opened the floor up for questions. As hands went up all around, he pointed to me. Aware that my prepared question was about to strike a discordant tone, I removed my hat and glasses.
“It is getting serious,” Gabbard joked.

“In your first two terms in office, you met the RSS spokesperson at least three times,” I said. “You spoke at many RSS events, including two in India. When did your collaboration with the RSS begin and how much money have they given you?”

The usually unflappable Gabbard, who speaks with slow deliberation, grimaced. She paused long enough for an audience member to shout, “Speak up.” Finally she responded. “I am a soldier, and I took an oath,” she began. “One oath in my life. That was an oath to serve and protect this country, to put my life on the line for the people of this country.”

She grew more emphatic. “We stand for aloha. We stand for diversity. We stand for peace and bringing people together around these shared ideals of freedom and opportunity for all people.” Gesturing to the audience to stand, she continued, “Thank you everybody for standing with me. It is this kind of attacks that are rooted in religious bigotry that we must stand together and condemn. Whether these attacks are being targeted at Hindus, or Buddhists, or Muslims, or Jews, or atheists, or Catholics, we must stand united and condemn this hate and bigotry because an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us.” Again, the crowd chanted, “Tulsi, Tulsi.”

This is typical of how Gabbard responds to questions about the depth of her relationship with Modi, her association with affiliates of the Sangh Parivar—the family of organisations working with the RSS—or the identity of many of her key donors. Such queries are dismissed as signs of “Hinduphobia.” When an article in The Intercept described her as “a rising progressive star, despite her support for Hindu nationalists,” Gabbard lashed out with an opinion piece for Religion News Service, headlined: “Religious bigotry is un-American.” She said her critics were “trying to foment anti-Hindu sentiment.”

Yet, as they say, the devil is in the details.

Hindutva and Zionism

mondoweiss |  Large-scale protests have been roiling Indian cities since earlier this month, when the country’s parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, CAA. It offers citizenship to any refugees from the neighboring (majority-Muslim) countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who are members of non-Muslim “minority” communities in those countries—but notably not to any Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had introduced this clearly discriminatory measure as part of a package of anti-Muslim steps he has taken since his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an increased majority in the Lok Sabha (parliament) last April.

The BJP was founded in 1980 as a party that proudly and explicitly pursues “Hindutva” (Hindu power) in a country that, throughout the 50 years after it won Independence from Britain in 1947, had remained committed to the determinedly non-religious form of civic equality envisaged by the Congress Party and key independence-era leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Congress Party is now but a shadow of its earlier self. In the April elections, the BJP won 303 of the Lok Sabha’s 543 elected seats.

Democrats and progressives around the world have been united in protesting the BJP’s radically pro-Hindutva (or “saffronizing”) policies. It is instructive, therefore, to note the many parallels between the BJP’s policies and the classic kinds of policies Zionists have pursued both on the ground in Palestine and in the lavish p.r. campaigns they have run worldwide. Modi, it turns out, can teach us all a lot about Zionism. Here, in a nutshell, are Modi’s step-by-step lessons for how to create and defend an exclusivist, ethno/sectarian-nationalist state:

ADOS REALLY Need to Consider Tipping Point Pragmatism...,

asiatimes  |  he Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), often termed “the world’s largest NGO,” is considered the parent organization of the right-wing, Hindu nationalist political party: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The RSS sought to dispel British colonial rule in India, but also to combat Muslim separatists, soon extending their militancy towards Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, and lower-caste communities. During WWII, the RSS drew inspiration from fascist movements in Europe  –  notably admiring Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini for their ideologies on strengthening nationalism through racial purity .

In 1939, RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar wrote: “To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races  –  the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”  Golwalkar was not alone.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, another ideologue who helped shape Hindutva wrote, “If we Hindus in India grow stronger, in time these Muslim friends of the League type will have to play the part of German-Jews instead.”

While references to early far-right European influences are not explicitly found in the RSS’ official “Vision & Mission” today, the statement repeatedly calls for the protection, preservation, and dominance of Hindu culture through the “re-organization” of society. This philosophy, formally known as “Hindutva”, espouses similar ideas as Italy’s Fascist Party (PNF) and Germany’s Nazi Party of instituting ultra-nationalism through forging adherence to a single, pure Hindu society.

An official RSS statement echoes this. The “Sangh is unique in according primacy to the inculcation of patriotism in all citizens and in all life’s activities. […] Erosion of the nation’s integrity in the name of secularism, economic and moral bankruptcy, incessant conversions from the Hindu fold through money-power, ever-increasing trends of secession, thought-patterns and education dissonant with the native character of the people, and State-sponsored denigration of anything that goes by the name of Hindu or Hindutva: these pervasive tendencies provide ample proof of the soundness of the philosophical foundation of the Sangh as conceived by Dr Hedgewar and its continued relevance for the survival and health of the Hindu society and of the nation as a whole.”

Compare this to Adolf Hitler’s visions of the ideal relationship between the State and race, it’s not hard to see an ideological likeness .

“Thus the highest purpose of the folkish State is the care for the preservation of those racial primal elements which, supplying culture, create the beauty and dignity of a higher humanity. We, as Aryans, are therefore able to imagine a State only to be the living organism of a nationality which not only safeguards the preservation of that nationality but which, by a further training of its spiritual and ideal abilities, leads it to the highest freedom,”  Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf in 1925.

Monday, December 30, 2019

India is Ruled by a Nazi Party with its own Sturmabteilung (RSS)

newyorker |  Muslim-Hindu harmony was central to the vision of India’s founders, Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who laid the foundation for a secular state. India is home to all the world’s major religions; Muslims constitute about fourteen per cent of the population. As the British Empire prepared to withdraw, in 1947, Muslims were so fearful of Hindu domination that they clamored for a separate state, which became Pakistan. The division of the subcontinent, known as Partition, inspired the largest migration in history, with tens of millions of Hindus and Muslims crossing the new borders. In the accompanying violence, as many as two million people died. Afterward, both Pakistanis and Indians harbored enduring grievances over the killings and the loss of ancestral land. Kashmir, on the border, became the site of a long-running proxy war.

India’s remaining Muslims protected themselves by forging an alliance with the Congress Party—Gandhi and Nehru’s group, which monopolized national politics for fifty years. But the founders’ vision of the secular state was not universally shared. In 1925, K. B. Hedgewar, a physician from central India, founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an organization dedicated to the idea that India was a Hindu nation, and that Hinduism’s followers were entitled to reign over minorities. Members of the R.S.S. believed that many Muslims were descended from Hindus who had been converted by force, and so their faith was of questionable authenticity. (The same thinking applied to Christians, who make up about two per cent of India’s population. Other major religions, including Buddhism and Sikhism, were considered more authentically Indian.)

Hedgewar was convinced that Hindu men had been emasculated by colonial domination, and he prescribed paramilitary training as an antidote. An admirer of European fascists, he borrowed their predilection for khaki uniforms, and, more important, their conviction that a group of highly disciplined men could transform a nation. He thought that Gandhi and Nehru, who had made efforts to protect the Muslim minority, were dangerous appeasers; the R.S.S. largely sat out the freedom struggle.

In January, 1948, soon after independence, Gandhi was assassinated by Nathuram Vinayak Godse, a former R.S.S. member and an avowed Hindu nationalist. The R.S.S. was temporarily banned and shunted to the fringes of public life, but the group gradually reƫstablished itself. In 1975, amid civic disorder and economic stagnation, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended parliament and imposed emergency rule. The R.S.S. vigorously opposed her and her Congress Party allies. Many of its members were arrested, which helped legitimize the group as it reƫntered the political mainstream.

The R.S.S.’s original base was higher-caste men, but, in order to grow, it had to widen its membership. Among the lower-caste recruits was an eight-year-old named Narendra Modi, from Vadnagar, a town in the state of Gujarat. Modi belonged to the low-ranking Ghanchi caste, whose members traditionally sell vegetable oil; Modi’s father ran a small tea shop near the train station, where his young son helped. When Modi was thirteen, his parents arranged for him to marry a local girl, but they cohabited only briefly, and he did not publicly acknowledge the relationship for many years. Modi soon left the marriage entirely and dedicated himself to the R.S.S. As a pracharak—the group’s term for its young, chaste foot soldiers—Modi started by cleaning the living quarters of senior members, but he rose quickly. In 1987, he moved to the R.S.S.’s political branch, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P.

That's a Lot of Ashy Little Rascals with Big Ole Ass-Whooping Sticks!

afp |  As Indian protests against a new citizenship law have intensified, so has police use of "lathis", sturdy sticks used to whack, thwack and quell dissent since British colonial times -- to sometimes deadly effect.

At least 27 people have died in the past two weeks of protests, mostly from bullets, but hundreds more have been injured in clashes between demonstrators and riot police wielding the bamboo canes.
Images shot by AFP and other media of officers hitting people with them, in some cases apparently indiscriminately lashing out at passers-by and even minors, has only fuelled public anger.

One video of a group of Muslim women in New Delhi protecting a cowering male fellow student from a police lathi barrage spread like wildfire on social media in India.

Those who have experienced a blow from a lathi, measuring five or six feet (1.5-1.8 metres) and made of stout bamboo or plastic, say it leaves a numbing sensation that lasts for days.

Multiple strikes can break bones, cripple and even kill.

"From being used as means to regulate crowds, lathi has turned into a lethal weapon," said V. Suresh, the secretary general of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a non-profit rights group.

"It is... being freely used, so much so that as a country we have become inured to it. Lathi is seen as a normal but it is a horrible weapon," Suresh told AFP.

"Nothing legitimises its brutal use."

- Fear and awe -
Many believe the lathi originated as a martial arts accessory in South Asia. It was also used by feudal landlords against poor peasants, emerging as a symbol of unquestioned power and authority.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

All About Overcoming BeeHotches...., EVERYTHING ELSE is Conversation

Tracking Monsters Presumes You Have the Nerve and Means to Do Something About Them

project-syndicate |  We are living in the Dark Ages of inequality statistics. More than a decade after the “Great Recession,” governments are still unable to track accurately the evolution of income and wealth. Statistical agencies produce income-growth statistics for the population as a whole (national accounts), but not for the “middle class,” the “working class,” or the richest 1% and 0.1%. At a time when Google, Facebook, Visa, Mastercard, and other multinational corporations know intimate details about our private lives, governments still do not capture, let alone publish, the most basic statistics concerning the distribution of income and wealth.

This failure has huge costs for society. The perception that inequalities are reaching unjustifiable heights in many countries, combined with a lack of any possible informed choice for voters, is fodder for demagogues and critics of democracy.

Making matters worse, experts in the field of inequality are sometimes depicted as being overly reliant on specific methodological approaches, as illustrated in The Economist’s recent cover story, “Inequality illusions.” But, of course, data in the social sciences are by their very nature open to challenge, which makes methodological debates largely unavoidable. The question is where to draw the line between legitimate academic disagreement about inequality levels and trends and outright inequality denialism.

Whether or not inequality is acceptable – and whether or not something should be done about it – is a matter of collective choice. To help inform the debate, more than 100 researchers from around the world have joined forces to develop innovative methods for compiling inequality statistics through the World Inequality Database, which now covers more than 100 countries. The WID includes the widest possible array of available data sources, from household surveys, tax-administration data, national accounts, and wealth rankings published in the media, to the “Panama Papers,” through which the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed stockpiles of wealth stashed in various tax havens.

Monsters Cause Wars and Go to Exhausting Lengths to Cover-Up Their Crimes

speigel |  On Nov. 23, DER SPIEGEL reported on the background of the so-called Magnitsky sanctions (the English report was published on Nov. 26). The sanctions, applied by the U.S. and others to Russian officials, are largely based on depictions provided by the former investor Bill Browder and are related to the fate of his employee Sergei Magnitsky.

Magnitsky died in 2009 in a Moscow prison under circumstances that haven't been completely clarified. Browder claims that Magnitsky was murdered because he had uncovered a tax scandal. The report from DER SPIEGEL describes the inconsistencies in Browder's version of events and demonstrates that he is unable to present sufficient proof for his claims.

Browder has now gone public with his complaints about the DER SPIEGEL story in the form of a letter to the newsmagazine's editor-in-chief in addition to a complaint filed with the German Press Council. In his letter, he accuses DER SPIEGEL of having misrepresented the facts.

We believe his complaint has no basis and would like to review why we have considerable doubts about Browder's story and why we felt it necessary to present those doubts publicly. The English text of the original story can be found here, and the paywall has been removed from the German version, which can be read here. In addition, you will find links below to some of the sources that we relied on in our reporting.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Peasants Tolerate the Hot Breath of Monsters on the Backs of Their Necks...,

Kunstler |  What is most perilous for our country now, would be to journey through a second epic crisis of authority in recent times without anybody facing the consequences of crimes they might have committed. The result will be a people turned utterly cynical, with no faith in their institutions or the rule of law, and no way to imagine a restoration of their lost faith within the bounds of law. It will be a deadly divorce between truth and reality. It will be an invitation to civil violence, a broken social contract, and the end of the framework for American life that was set up in 1788.

The first crisis of the era was the Great Financial Crash of 2008 based on widespread malfeasance in the banking world, an unprecedented suspension of rules, norms, and laws. GFC poster-boy Angelo Mozilo, CEO and chairman of Countrywide Financial, a sub-prime mortgage racketeering outfit, sucked at least half a billion dollars out of his operation before it blew up, and finally was nicked for $67 million in fines by the SEC — partly paid by Countrywide’s indemnity insurer — with criminal charges of securities fraud eventually dropped in the janky “settlement.” In other words, the cost of doing business. Scores of other fraudsters and swindlers in that orgy of banking malfeasance were never marched into a courtroom, never had to answer for their depredations, and remained at their desks in the C-suites collecting extravagant bonuses. The problems they caused were papered over with trillions of dollars that all of us are still on-the-hook for. And, contrary to appearances, the banking system never actually recovered. It is permanently demoralized.

How it was that Barack Obama came on-duty in January of 2009 and got away with doing absolutely nothing about all that for eight years remains one of the abiding mysteries of life on earth. Perhaps getting the first black president into the White House was such an intoxicating triumph of righteousness that nothing else seemed to matter anymore. Perhaps Mr. Obama was just a cat’s paw for banksterdom. (Sure kinda seems like it, when your first two hires are Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.) The failure to assign penalties for massive bad behavior has set up the nation for another financial fiasco, surely of greater magnitude than the blow-up of 2008, considering the current debt landscape. Not a few astute observers say they feel the hot breath of that monster on the back of their necks lately, with all the strange action in the RePo market — $500 billion “liquidity” injections in six weeks.

Remove Fairness from Society and You Create the Conditions for Revolt

nakedcapitalism |  This site regularly discusses the rise of neoliberalism and its consequences, such as rising inequality and lower labor bargaining rights. But it’s also important to understand that these changes were not organic but were the result of a well-financed campaign to change the values of judges and society at large to be more business-friendly. But the sacrifice of fair dealing as a bedrock business and social principle has had large costs. 

We’ve pointed out how lower trust has increased contracting costs: things that use to be done on a handshake or a simple letter agreement are now elaborately papered up. The fact that job candidates will now engage in ghosting, simply stopping to communicate with a recruiter rather than giving a ritually minimalistic sign off, is a testament to how impersonal hiring is now perceived to be, as well as often-abused workers engaging in some power tit for tat when they can. 

But on a higher level, the idea of fair play was about self-regulation of conduct. Most people want to see themselves as morally upright, even if some have to go through awfully complicated rationalizations to believe that. But when most individuals lived in fairly stable social and business communities, they had reason to be concerned that bad conduct might catch up with them. It even happens to a small degree now. Greg Lippmann, patient zero of toxic CDOs at Deutsche Bank, was unable to get his kids into fancy Manhattan private schools because his reputation preceded him. But the case examples for decades have gone overwhelmingly the other way. My belief is that a watershed event was the ability of Wall Street renegade, and later convicted felon Mike Milken, to rehabilitate himself spoke volumes as to the new normal of money trumping propriety. 

Another aspect of the decline in the importance of fair dealing is the notion of the obligations of power, that individuals in a position of authority have a duty to those in their sway. 

The abandonment of lofty-sounding principles like being fair has other costs. We’ve written about the concept of obliquity, how in complex systems, it’s not possible to chart a simple path though them because it’s impossible to understand it well enough to begin to do so. John Kay, who has made a study of the issue and eventually wrote a book about it, pointed out as an illustration that studies of similarly-sized companies in the same industry showed that ones that adopted nobler objectives did better in financial terms than ones that focused on maximizing shareholder value.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Real Supremacy: Why Space Force Now? (Lotta New Hardware and Capabilities Previously Undisclosed)

vox |  “What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial,” Vice President Mike Pence said in an August 2018 address at the Pentagon announcing initial plans for the force. “It’s not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space. And so we will.”

Bringing that vision to pass has not been easy for the Trump administration. 

The executive branch does not have the power to unilaterally create new branches of the military; the Constitution gives Congress the sole power “to raise and support armies.” And as Ward has reported, the White House faced a military that was not in favor of a Space Force — a former Navy secretary said it was “a solution in search of a problem,” and then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters last summer: “The Pentagon is complicated enough. This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart.”

In a sort of compromise, rather than delivering on the administration’s initial grandiose vision for space dominance, Congress attempted to answer both the White House and Pentagon’s concerns.
“Part of the argument for Space Force was that space was kind of getting lost within the Air Force, with its focus on air dominance,” Kaitlyn Johnson, an associate fellow and associate director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Verge

The Space Force, then, will focus just on space — and on countering Russia and China there — as the Trump administration wanted. But, in response to military concerns, it will not add a completely new structure to the Pentagon, housed as it is in the Air Force. (Its leaders will, however, have the authority to make operational and training decisions without consulting the Air Force.) 

Beyond the creation of a chief of space operations, the Space Force will give the military a few other new top-level officials, most notably, assistant secretaries dedicated to developing new technologies and creating strategies for orbital warfare.

Real Supremacy: 6.5 Billion'a'Y'all Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go!!!

redflag |  In the event of disaster, the response of the rich hasn’t been to work with others to ensure the collective security of all those affected. It has been to use all resources at their disposal to protect themselves and their property. And increasingly, as in New Orleans, this protection has come in the form of armed violence directed at those less well off – people whose desperation, they fear, could turn them into a threat.

The most forward thinking of the super-rich are aware that we’re heading toward a future of ecological and social break-down. And they’re keen to keep ahead of the curve by investing today in the things they’ll need to survive. Writing in the Guardian in 2018, media theorist and futurist Douglas Rushkoff related his experience of being paid half his annual salary to speak at “a super-deluxe private resort ... on the subject of ‘the future of technology’”. He was expecting a room full of investment bankers. When he arrived, however, he was introduced to “five super-wealthy guys ... from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world”. Rushkoff wrote:

“After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own ... Which region will be less affected by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? ... Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked: ‘How do I maintain authority over my security force after the Event?’

“The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr Robot hack that takes everything down ... They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for survival.”

There’s a reason these conversations go on only behind closed doors. If your plan is to allow the world to spiral towards mass death and destruction while you retreat to a bunker in the south island of New Zealand or some other isolated area to live out your days in comfort, protected by armed guards whose loyalty you maintain by threat of death, you’re unlikely to win much in the way of public support. Better to keep the militarised bunker thing on the low-down and keep people thinking that “we’re all in this together” and if we just install solar panels, recycle more, ride to work and so on we’ll somehow turn it all around and march arm in arm towards a happy and sustainable future.

The rich don’t have to depend only on themselves. Their most powerful, and well-armed, protector is the capitalist state, which they can rely on to advance their interests even when those may conflict with the imperative to preserve some semblance of civilisation. This is where people like Morrison come in. They’re the ones who have been delegated the task, as Karl Marx put it in the Communist Manifesto, of “managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”. In the context of climate change, this means taking the steps necessary to ensure the continued ability of the capitalist class to profit even if the world may be unravelling into ecological breakdown and social chaos. 

There are three main ways in which Australia and other world powers are working toward this. First, they’re building their military might – spending billions of dollars on ensuring they have the best means of destruction at their disposal to help project their power in an increasingly unstable world. Second, they’re building walls and brutal detention regimes to make sure borders can be crossed only by those deemed necessary to the requirements of profit making. Third, they’re enhancing their repressive apparatus by passing anti-protest laws and expanding and granting new powers to the police and security agencies to help crush dissent at home.

Military strategists have been awake to the implications of climate change for a long time. As early as 2003, in a report commissioned by the Pentagon, US researchers Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall argued that “violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate pose a different type of threat to national security than we are accustomed to today. Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food, and water rather than conflicts over ideology, religion, or national honor. The shifting motivation for confrontation would alter which countries are most vulnerable and the existing warning signs of security threats”.

Real Supremacy: When All You Peasants Got Is "We Know They Exist",

DenverPost |  Myers suspects the drones might be operated by a private company, although the machines haven’t targeted any obvious landmarks or features — sometimes they fly over towns, other times over empty fields.

“They do not seem to be malicious,” Elliott said. “They don’t seem to be doing anything that would indicate criminal activity.”

Vic Moss, a Denver-based commercial photographer, drone pilot and co-owner of an online drone school called Drone U, said Monday he’d bet either a company or a government agency is flying the aircraft.

“We have a number of drone companies here in Colorado, and they’re very innovative,” he said. “So maybe they’re testing something of theirs out in that area because it is very rural. But everyone that I know of, they coordinate all that stuff with local authorities to prevent this very situation. They all very much want people to understand drones and not cause this kind of hysteria.”

The grid pattern suggests the drone operators might be creating a map or carrying out a search, Moss said, although he added that some drone operators will fly at night in order to use infrared cameras, which are sometimes used in agriculture to examine crops.

He urged people not to try to shoot the drones down, both because their batteries can cause intense fires and also because shooting a drone is a federal crime.

“It becomes a self-generating fire that burns until it burns itself out,” he said. “If you shoot a drone down over your house and it lands on your house, you might not have a house in 45 minutes.”
Even if the sheriff’s office identified the pilot or pilots of the drones, they’re likely not breaking any laws, Myers said.

“The way Colorado law is written, none of the statutes fit for harassment or trespassing,” Myers said. “Colorado hasn’t gotten on board with identifying the airspace around your property as the actual premises, so we don’t have anything we could charge.”

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Healthcare CEO's Work SO HARD For The Money

hcrenewal |  Inflated executive compensation in health care is rarely challenged, but when it is, the responses are formulaic.  Justifications are usually made by public relations flacks who are accountable to these executives, or the executives' cronies on their boards of trustees.  As I wrote in 2015,  and in May, 2016,  It seems nearly every attempt made to defend the outsize compensation given hospital and health system executives involves the same arguments, thus suggesting they were authored as public relations talking points. Additional examples appear here, here here, here, here, and here, here and here

The talking points are:
- We have to pay competitive rates
- We have to pay enough to retain at least competent executives, given how hard it is to be an executive
- Our executives are not merely competitive, but brilliant (and have to be to do such a difficult job).

Yet the examples above suggest that the work of a top health care manager hardly is as difficult as that of a health care professional.  And as we have discussed, these talking points are otherwise easily debunked.  But that certainly has not stopped executive compensation from rising year after year. 

The plutocratic compensation given leaders of non-profit hospitals is usually justified by the need to competitively pay exceptionally brilliant leaders who must do extremely difficult jobs.  Yet even leaders whose records seem to be the opposite of brilliance, or whose work does not seem very hard, often end up handsomely rewarded.

Other aspects of top health care managers' pay provide perverse incentives.  While ostensibly tied to hospitals' economic performance, their compensation  is rarely tied to clinical performance, health care outcomes, health care quality, or patients' safety.  Furthermore, how managers are paid seems wildly out of step with how other organizational employees, especially health care professionals, are paid.

Exalted pay of hospital managers occurred after managers largely supplanted health care professionals as leaders of health care organizations.  This is part of a societal wave of "managerialism."  Most organizations are now run by generic managers, rather than people familiar with the particulars of the organizations' work. 

That CEOs would view the minor travails of bureaucratic life as so significant suggests how deep they are within their managerialist bubbles, and how little they understand and relate to what their organizations actually are supposed to do, provide health care on the ground to real patients. 

Rather than putting patient care first, paying generic managers enough to make them rich now seems to be the leading goal of hospitals. I postulate that managerialism is a major reason the US health care system costs much more than that of any other developed country, while providing mediocre access and health care quality.

Improving the situation might first require changing regulation of executive compensation practices in hospitals, improving its oversight, and making hospital boards of trustees more accountable.  But that would be just a few small steps in the right direction

True health care reform might require something more revolutionary, the reversal of the managers' coup d'etat, returning leadership of health care to health care professionals who actually care about patients and put their and the public's health first, ahead of their personal gain.  Of course, that might not be possible without a societal revolution to separate managers from the levers of power in government, industry, and non-profit organizations. Remember the most salient example of managerialism now for most people in the US is a an executive with a Wharton business degree as the President of the United States.

The Medical Industrial CONGRESSIONAL Complex

WaPo | Vilified by lawmakers from both parties for months, the health-care industry this year appeared to face an existential threat to its business model.

But this week, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurance companies and medical device manufacturers practically ran the table in Congress, winning hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks and other gifts through old-fashioned lobbying, re-exerting their political prowess.

“It’s the ‘no special interest left behind bill’ of 2019. That’s what it feels like this is,” said Andy Slavitt, a former health administrator who served in the Obama administration. “There’s no other explanation.”

Support came from virtually every corner of Congress.

A bipartisan push to curb the practice of surprise medical billing was delayed until next year, with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) working behind the scenes to raise objections to the package, according to three people familiar with the talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of private negotiations.

A bipartisan bid to rein in prescription drug prices failed to advance, as Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for blocking the effort.

Pharmaceutical firms also won extended protections for select patents, as lawmakers tucked 17 words into Page 1,503 of a bill that critics allege could amount to billions more in profits for the industry.

And through a flurry of letters and targeted meetings with freshman House Democrats, the health-care industry ginned up broad support for repealing taxes that were central to the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), one of the law’s architects, agreed to go along.

The success shows how formidable the health-care industry remains, able to overwhelm Democrats with well-honed talking points and splinter Republicans through a concerted push.

A New Era of HealthCare Fraud

khn |  Derek Lewis was working as an electronic health records specialist for the nation’s largest hospital chain when he heard about software defects that might even “kill a patient.”

The doctors at Midwest (City) Regional Medical Center in Oklahoma worried that the software failed to track some drug prescriptions or dosages properly, posing a “huge safety concern,” Lewis said. Lewis cited the alleged safety hazards in a whistleblower lawsuit that he and another former employee of Community Health Systems (CHS) filed against the Tennessee-based hospital chain in 2018.

The suit alleges that the company, which had $14 billion in annual revenue in 2018, obtained millions of dollars in federal subsidies fraudulently by covering up dangerous flaws in these systems at the Oklahoma hospital and more than 120 others it owned or operated at the time.

The whistleblowers also allege that Medhost, the Tennessee firm that developed the software, concealed defects during government-mandated reviews that were supposed to ensure safety.

Both CHS and Medhost have denied the allegations and moved to dismiss the suit. The motions are pending. Last month, Department of Justice lawyers wrote in court filings that they were still investigating the matter and had not yet decided whether to take over the case.

The lawsuit is one of dozens filed by whistleblowers, doctors and hospitals alleging that some electronic health records (EHR) software used in hospitals and medical offices has hidden flaws that may pose a danger to patients — and that a substantial chunk of the $38 billion in federal subsidies went to companies that deceived the government about the quality of their products, an ongoing Fortune-KHN investigation shows. The subsidies were designed to persuade hospitals and doctors’ offices to install software that would track the medical history of every patient and share the information seamlessly with other health care providers.

But the software makers allegedly gamed the system, repeatedly. Three major EHR vendors have made multimillion-dollar settlement deals — totaling $357 million — over Justice Department investigations which include allegations that they rigged or otherwise gamed the government’s certification test. At least two other companies are under investigation.

Beyond those cases, federal officials have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to doctors and hospitals that could not show they were even qualified to receive them, according to federal officials. Nearly 28% of doctors and 5% of hospitals who attested to meeting government standards later failed audits. Federal officials told Fortune and KHN that they have clawed back $941 million in improper subsidies.

“We’re entering an entirely new area of health care fraud,” John O’Brien, senior counsel with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, said in a July 2017 video announcing a $155 million False Claims Act settlement with eClinicalWorks, one of the nation’s leading sellers of EHRs for physicians.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Look Here Red Shirt, Maybe Your Purpose on this Planet isn't on this Planet!

airforcetimes | Air Force officials on Friday told reporters that people are clamoring for information on how to join the military’s latest branch. The short answer is, they’re going to have to wait a while.

President Trump officially signed the Space Force into law Friday, but for now, all that means is everyone at Air Force Space Command will now be assigned to Space Force. Over the next 18 months, officials said, the finer details of manning and training the new branch will be hammered out and set in motion.

“It’s going to be really important that we get this right. A uniform, a patch, a song ― it gets to the culture of a service,” said Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond, the head of Air Force Space Command and U.S. Space Command, who will lead Space Force until a chief of space operations is confirmed by the Senate. “There’s a lot of work going on toward that end. It’s going to take a long time to get to that point, but that’s not something we’re going to roll out on day one.”

For now, the 16,000 active-duty airmen and civilians who work at Air Force Space Command will be assigned to the Space Force, but nothing else will change. Uniforms, a rank structure, training and education are all to be determined, and for the foreseeable future, Space Force will continue to be manned by airmen, wearing, Air Force uniforms, subject to that service’s fitness program, personnel system and so on.

defensenews |  All the fun cultural details — the Space Force emblem, what personnel will call themselves, whether they wear Star Trek uniforms — are still being formulated. 

“It’s going to be really important that we get this right. A uniform. A patch. A song. It gets to the culture of a service,” Raymond said. “So we’re not going to be in a rush to get something, and not do that right. There’s a lot of work going on towards that end. I don’t think it’s going to take a long time to get that done, but that’s not something we’re going to roll out on day one.”

Air Force bases centered around space operations — specifically Peterson, Buckley and Schriever AFB in Colorado; Vandenberg AFB in California; Patrick AFB in Florida and others — will likely be renamed to reflect that they are Space Force bases, Raymond said.

The Space Force may also diverge from the Air Force’s organization into squadrons and wings, he said.

“We have an opportunity. We looked at and will continue to look at different organizational constructs,” Raymond said.

Speaking of Overcoming...,

themindunleashed |  By September of 2013, there were already more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or “space junk” orbiting Earth and that number is still increasing.

The bits of junk travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph—fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. This is also potential danger to space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station, space shuttles, and other spacecraft with humans aboard.

“The greatest risk to space missions comes from non-trackable debris,” said Nicholas Johnson, NASA chief scientist for orbital debris.

As a result of this risk, the European Space Agency signed a debris-removal contract with Swiss startup ClearSpace tasking the company with de-orbiting a substantial piece of a Vega rocket left in orbit in 2013.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Arc of History ONLY Bends Toward Overcoming

theatlantic |  The clash between the Times authors and their historian critics represents a fundamental disagreement over the trajectory of American society. Was America founded as a slavocracy, and are current racial inequities the natural outgrowth of that? Or was America conceived in liberty, a nation haltingly redeeming itself through its founding principles? These are not simple questions to answer, because the nation’s pro-slavery and anti-slavery tendencies are so closely intertwined.

The letter is rooted in a vision of American history as a slow, uncertain march toward a more perfect union. The 1619 Project, and Hannah-Jones’s introductory essay in particular, offer a darker vision of the nation, in which Americans have made less progress than they think, and in which black people continue to struggle indefinitely for rights they may never fully realize. Inherent in that vision is a kind of pessimism, not about black struggle but about the sincerity and viability of white anti-racism. It is a harsh verdict, and one of the reasons the 1619 Project has provoked pointed criticism alongside praise.

Americans need to believe that, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, the arc of history bends toward justice. And they are rarely kind to those who question whether it does.

 Published 400 years after the first Africans were brought to in Virginia, the project asked readers to consider “what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year.” The special issue of the Times Magazine included essays from the Princeton historian Kevin Kruse, who argued that sprawl in Atlanta is a consequence of segregation and white flight; the Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, who posited that American countermajoritarianism was shaped by pro-slavery politicians seeking to preserve the peculiar institution; and the journalist Linda Villarosa, who traced racist stereotypes about higher pain tolerance in black people from the 18th century to the present day. The articles that drew the most attention and criticism, though, were Hannah-Jones’s introductory essay chronlicling black Americans’ struggle to “make democracy real” and the sociologist Matthew Desmond’s essay linking the crueler aspects of American capitalism to the labor practices that arose under slavery.

The letter’s signatories recognize the problem the Times aimed to remedy, Wilentz told me. “Each of us, all of us, think that the idea of the 1619 Project is fantastic. I mean, it's just urgently needed. The idea of bringing to light not only scholarship but all sorts of things that have to do with the centrality of slavery and of racism to American history is a wonderful idea,” he said. In a subsequent interview, he said, “Far from an attempt to discredit the 1619 Project, our letter is intended to help it.”

The letter disputes a passage in Hannah-Jones’s introductory essay, which lauds the contributions of black people to making America a full democracy and says that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery” as abolitionist sentiment began rising in Britain.

This argument is explosive. From abolition to the civil-rights movement, activists have reached back to the rhetoric and documents of the founding era to present their claims to equal citizenship as consonant with the American tradition. The Wilentz letter contends that the 1619 Project’s argument concedes too much to slavery’s defenders, likening it to South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun’s assertion that “there is not a word of truth” in the Declaration of Independence’s famous phrase that “all men are created equal.” Where Wilentz and his colleagues see the rising anti-slavery movement in the colonies and its influence on the Revolution as a radical break from millennia in which human slavery was accepted around the world, Hannah-Jones’ essay outlines how the ideology of white supremacy that sustained slavery still endures today.

Fake News Metastasizing Into Fake History Too?

WaPo | Five historians recently wrote to the New York Times Magazine, asking the architects of its comprehensive 1619 Project, which tells the founding narrative of America through the lens of slavery, to issue several corrections. They argued that assertions in the 1619 package about the motivations that sparked the Revolutionary War and President Abraham Lincoln’s views on black equality were misleading.

“We ask that The Times, according to its own high standards of accuracy and truth, issue prominent corrections of all the errors and distortions presented in The 1619 Project,” wrote the five professors, from Princeton University, Texas State University, Brown University and the City University of New York.

In a lengthy response published online over the weekend, New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein addressed each concern from the professors but stood firmly behind the reporting and declined to correct it.

“Though we respect the work of the signatories, appreciate that they are motivated by scholarly concern and applaud the efforts they have made in their own writings to illuminate the nation’s past, we disagree with their claim that our project contains significant factual errors and is driven by ideology rather than historical understanding,” Silverstein wrote. “While we welcome criticism, we don’t believe that the request for corrections to The 1619 Project is warranted.”

Monday, December 23, 2019

What IS The 1619 Project?

If You Want to Go to War..., I'll Take You There!

wsws |  “White privilege,” “wealthy elites,” “mansplainers,” “old white people,” “ivory tower elites.” These are just a few of the epithets hurled at me and the four historians I joined in protesting the flawed and inaccurate history presented in the New York Times’s 1619 Project. A quick pass through Twitter reveals that some historians are “ashamed of,” even “heartbroken by,” our letter to the Times editor. One historian chastised us for criticizing the 1619 Project at a time when our “republic” is so dangerously divided! Really, historians? Is it no longer our right or responsibility to critique works of history, at least not when they’re about a long, ugly episode of our nation’s history? Does history not have to be accurate if the subjects were truly victims, as enslaved Americans surely were? But I digress.

On August 18, 2019, the New York Times released its highly-touted 1619 Project, featuring historical essays and original literary works aimed at “reframing” American history with a new founding date—1619, the year that 20 or more Africans were brought to Virginia—to replace 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. The project offers slavery and its legacies to contemporary American society as the nation’s central defining features. New York Times journalist and project director Nikole Hannah-Jones provides the project’s “intellectual framework,” which posits slavery as the dominant feature of North American settlement, and the American Revolution as a duplicitous movement designed to protect slavery from its abolition by the British Empire. Hannah-Jones urges that we remember Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln first and foremost for their racism rather than their ideals of nationhood. Her assertions on these topics were forcefully critiqued by historians Gordon Wood, James McPherson, and James Oakes in interviews with the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), and by Sean Wilentz in the New York Times Review of Books (NYTR). My own criticisms, in an interview with the WSWS, centered on the Project’s historical treatment of class and race. I elaborate here on those remarks.

After reframing the meaning of the American Revolution, Hannah-Jones moves on to the Civil War and Reconstruction, barely touching on American abolitionism and ignoring the free soil movement, though both were seeds of the antislavery Republican Party. In discussing the nation’s wrenching effort to reconstruct itself after the Civil War, she asserts that “blacks worked for the most part. .. alone” to free themselves and push for full rights of citizenship through passage of the Reconstruction Amendments. Rightly emphasizing the vigilante white violence that immediately followed the victories of a Republican-dominated Congress, she ignores important exceptions, including the Southern white “Scalawags,” many of whom were nonslaveholders who fought against the Confederacy in the war and participated with blacks and Northern Republicans in passing the Reconstruction Amendments.

Identity Politics When You're Concocting a Hoax? NYTimes1619 Project Some Bullshidt....,

wsws |  Historian Victoria Bynum on the inaccuracies of the New York Times 1619 Project

Historian Victoria Bynum, author of The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies (University of North Carolina Press, 2010), The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2001) and Unruly Women: The Politics of Social and Sexual Control in the Old South (University of North Carolina Press, 1992), spoke to the World Socialist Web Site’s Eric London on the historical falsifications involved in the New York Times’ “1619 Project.”

The 1619 Project, launched by the Times in August, presents American history in a purely racial lens and blames all “white people” for the enslavement of 4 million black people as chattel property.
Bynum is an expert on the attitude of Southern white yeomen farmers and impoverished people toward slavery. Her book The Free State of Jones studied efforts by anti-slavery and anti-confederate militia leader Newton Knight, who abandoned the Confederate army and led an armed insurrection against the Confederacy during the Civil War. It was adapted for the big screen in Gary Ross’s 2016 film Free State of Jones.

You Talk About Identity Politics When That's All You've Got to Sell...,

wsws |  What are the stakes that people imagine to be bound up with demonstrating that capitalism in this country emerged from slavery and racism, which are treated as two different labels for the same pathology? Ultimately, it’s a race reductionist argument. What the Afro-pessimist types or black nationalist types get out of it is an insistence that we can’t ever talk about anything except race. And that's partly because talking about race is the things they have to sell.

If you follow through the logic of disparities discourse, and watch the studies and follow the citations, what you get is a sort of bold announcement of findings, but finding that anybody who has been reading a newspaper over the last 50 or 70 years would assume from the outset: blacks have it worse, and women have it worse, and so on.

It’s in part an expression of a generic pathology of sociology, the most banal expression of academic life. You follow the safe path. You replicate the findings. But it’s not just supposed to be a matter of finding a disparity in and of itself, like differences in the number of days of sunshine in a year. It’s supposed to be a promise that in finding or confirming the disparity in this or that domain that it will bring some kind of mediation of the problem. But the work never calls for that.

Q. You make important points about the way social problems are approached. As an example, we have a scourge of police violence in this country. Over 1,000 Americans are killed each year by police. And the common knowledge, so to speak, is that this is a racial problem. The reality is that the largest number of those killed are white, but blacks are disproportionately killed. But if the position is that this is simply a racial problem, there is no real solution on offer. We have a militarized police force operating under conditions of extreme social inequality, with lots of guns on the streets, with soldiers coming back from serving in neocolonial wars abroad becoming police officers. And all of this is excised in the racialist argument, which if taken at face value, boils down to allegations about racial attitudes among police.

A. Cedric Johnson [3] has made good points on this and I’ve spoken with him at considerable length about the criminal justice system. To overdraw the point, a black Yale graduate who works on Wall Street is no doubt several times more likely to be jacked up by the police on the platform of Metro North than his white counterpart, out of mistaken identity. And that mistaken identity is what we might call racism. But it’s a shorthand. He’s still less likely to be jacked up by the police than the broke white guy in northeast Philadelphia or west Baltimore.

The point of this stress on policing is containing those working-class and poor populations and protecting property holders downtown, and in making shows of force in doing so. I mean the emergence of, or the intensification of, militarized policing in the 1990s and 2000s was directly connected with an increased focus on urban redevelopment directed toward turning central cities into havens for play and leisure. To do this you have to accomplish a couple of things, as Saskia Sassen pointed out almost 30 years ago, in the reconfiguration of the urban political economy in ways that create a basis for upscale consumption, and an industrial reserve army who will work for little enough to make that culture of upscale consumption profitable. Then you have to have the police to protect all of this. It’s really like a tourist economy.

So that’s kind of natural enough and you don’t need to have a devil theory like the crack epidemic to explain it—all of this pointless back-and-forth about how the cultural and political authorities are responding to the opioid crisis compared to how they responded to the crack epidemic. I mean, it’s all beside the point.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

“Insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.” Larry Summers

theburningplatform |  Let’s take this one right to the hoop: The Epstein saga may be the biggest, most broadly based scandal in US history. Of course, it has some serious competition, but to use the logic of Peter Dale Scott, the Berkeley professor who cut his teeth studying drug cartels, once in a while you get fleeting images of what lurks in the political pipes down in the basement. Peter called it “deep politics” in 1996, what is now called the deep state or, according to Wikipedia,1 a Conspiracy of the Loons. Previous peeks into the basement include the collapse of BCCI,2 the Panama papers,3 Fast and Furious,4 the Iran-Contra scandal,5 and, for the nostalgic, a spate of assassinations.6 You couldn’t miss the Epstein saga (unless, of course, you are still chained in the basement by one of his friends), but our wokeness is highly variable and, by definition, poorly developed. The Tetris pieces fall slowly at first but quickly by the end. Amazon is already filling up with treatises by those who can type 300 words per minute. My sources are a combination of random news reports, daily searches of the keyword “Epstein” on Twitter, and a few particularly persistent sleuths including Michael Krieger (@Libertyblitz),7 Witney Webb (@_whitneywebb),8 and articles flying across Zerohedge (@zerohedge). While reading this chapter let’s play Jeopardy—“Alex: I’ll take ‘WTF?’ for $500”—or maybe even Bizarro Bingo wherein you place a ‘✓’ every time something just got really weird.

Jeff had humble roots. After working summers as a farmhand choking the chickens, he was hired to teach math at an elite private girls school in New York City…despite not having a college degree. His new employer was Donald Barr, the father of Bill Barr, our current Attorney General (✓). Soon thereafter, they both moved on to higher callings.13 (Bill Barr’s law firm also defended Jeff in a previous brush with the law, forcing Bill to recuse himself from the forthcoming execution prosecution; ✓)14 Jeff’s job as a high school teacher naturally catapulted him to a few non-descript jobs on Wall Street, allowing him to accrue an estimated billion-dollar nest egg without anybody on Wall Street actually knowing who he was (✓). Leslie Wexner, founder of Victoria’s Secret, is said to be his only client and appears to have given Epstein power of attorney and handed over his $100 million NYC condo to Jeff (✓).15 In a pay-it-forward moment, Jeff was a seminal investor in the Clinton Global Initiative (last ✓; you are on your own from here.)16 Harvard and MIT also got millions.17 A 2003 story in the Harvard Crimson painted Jeff as a mysterious billionaire with a not-for-profit foundation: “Epstein is also well acquainted with University President Lawrence H. Summers.18 The two serve together on the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, two elite international relations organizations.” The Trilateral Commission? That’s real?

Epstein’s Black Book including over a thousand names published by Gawker in 201519 has now been scrutinized.20 Cronies of special note included billionaire Wexner, Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Woody Allen, the Duke of York Prince Andrew, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, Bill Gates, Larry Summers, Andrew Cuomo, former Prime Minister of Israel and current Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ehud Barak, George Stephanopoulos, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Charlie Rose (who used Epstein as a talent scout for his interns),21 financier Ron Perelman, modeling mogul Jean Luc Brunel, ex-labor minister Peter Mandelson, Adnan Khashoggi (arms dealer and brother of the New York Times reporter Jamal Khashoggi who got fed to the camels by the Saudis last year),22 Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (suspected to be the “prime minister” alluded to in released court transcripts),23 and Mr. Rogers. (Just ✓-ing to see if you are still awake.)

Trump is the Most Transparent President

RCP |  In an interview with Syrian state TV first reported in English by NBC News, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave President Trump a backhanded compliment by calling him the "best" and "most transparent" American president. Assad praised Trump for openly admitting that the U.S. is engaged in military operations in the Mideast for oil interests and that the U.S. tolerates the Saudi government because they buy a lot of weapons from American defense contractors.

"All American presidents commit crimes and end up taking the Nobel Prize and appear as a defender of human rights and the 'unique' and 'brilliant' American or Western principles," Assad said. "But all they are is a group of criminals who only represent the interests of the American lobbies of large corporations in weapons, oil, and others."

"I'm not going to destroy … the economy of our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia," Trump told reporters on the White House lawn shortly after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi in November 2018. "They’re buying hundreds of billions worth of things from this country. If I say we don’t want to take your business, if I say we’re going to cut it off, they will get the equipment -- military equipment and other things from Russia and China."

"Trump speaks with transparency to say 'We want the oil.' This is the reality of American politics since the Second World War at least," Assad said.

"We have secured the oil and, therefore, a small number of U.S. troops will remain in the area where they have the oil," President Trump said on October 23 when announcing the cease-fire agreement between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.

"What do we want more than a transparent foe?" Assad asked facetiously. 

Did Their Filthy Bidnis, Pulled Out, then DARED YOU TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!!

NYTimes |  Two weeks after Tufts University became the first major university to remove the Sackler name from buildings and programs over the family’s role in the opioid epidemic, members of the family are pushing back. A lawyer for some of the Sacklers argued in a letter to the president of Tufts that the move was unjustified and a violation of agreements made when the school wanted the family’s financial help years ago.

The letter described Tufts’s decision to remove the name as “contrary to basic notions of fairness" and “a breach of the many binding commitments made by the University dating back to 1980 in order to secure the family’s support, including millions of dollars in donations for facilities and critical medical research.”

Institutions that have accepted financial support from the Sacklers have in recent months faced growing cries to distance themselves from the family. 

The forceful response by Sackler family members now may be seen as a signal to other institutions amid a flurry of announcements by major cultural organizations that they would no longer take donations from the family. The response also raised complicated legal questions about what room institutions have to unilaterally remove a donor’s name long after a gift has been accepted.

The lawyer, Robert Cordy, who represents the descendants of two of the brothers who built Purdue Pharma, Raymond and Mortimer Sackler, wrote that Tufts chose “to prioritize optics over a fair process.”

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Brace Yourself For What Will Come Out My Mouf When I Get Free!!!

blackagendareport |  “When the ruling class believes it is faced with existential threats, they throw bourgeois democracy out the window.”

The catastrophic defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in last week’s elections does, indeed, foreshadow what’s in store for Bernie Sanders if the U.S. ruling class believes the self-styled socialist has a real chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination. Although the Brexit dispute added deep and unique layers of complexity to the British electoral contest, the sheer magnitude of Labour’s loss to a discredited Conservative Party headed by the Trump-class clown Boris Johnson, is the result of a full-court, every-dirty-trick-and-lie-in-the-book campaign by British corporate media, working hand-in-glove with intelligence circles, the trans-Atlantic military industrial complex, and the pro-corporate wing of the Labour Party (“Blairites”), itself. Sanders faces the same demonic alignment of corporate/media-national security forces in 2020, against an identical “Russiagate” backdrop that has, over the past three years, revealed the fascist face of late stage capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic. 

If anything, Sanders is even more vulnerable than Corbyn, whose grassroots supporters controlled the Labour Party machinery. The Democratic Party is firmly in the hands of corporate servants who are dishonor-bound to bring down the self-styled socialist by any means necessary, to blunt the momentum of the super-majority issues he champions: Medicare for All, Green New Deal, living wage, free higher education, and a steep wealth tax. Together, these measures would spell the death of the austerity “Race to the Bottom” regime that has been imposed over the course of two generations with the collaboration of both corporate parties. The corporate Democrats are, therefore, fully invested in Sanders’ demise, since it is their base that presents the greatest threat to the austerity regime -- not Donald Trump’s race-obsessed deplorables, who threaten only Black, brown and Arab-looking Americans. 

KC Gets KKFI Community Radio And Kultcha That Y'all Don't Get...,

pbs.org   |   [Cerrone's "Supernature" playing] Woman: The disco sound was just wonderful. It was exciting, powerful, you kno...