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December 2017

Seymour Melman And The New American Revolution

Seymour Melman believed that both political and economic decline could be reversed by vastly scaling back the U.S. military budget which represented a gigantic opportunity cost to the national economy.  The other side of the $1 trillion military budget was a vast development fund which Melman believed could be used to modernize the U.S.’s energy and transportation infrastructure and reinvest in other areas of economic decay self-evident in collapsing bridges, polluted waterways, and congested transit systems.  He linked urban under-development and deficits in ecological remediation to wasteful military budgets. Melman believed that peace movements, while opposing senseless wars, had “become safe for the Pentagon.”  By being remote from the culture of production, they did not realize the simple fact that producing and selling weapons generates capital and power, thereby requiring more than a reactive protest system to Pentagon capital accumulation.  In contrast, the founder of Mondragon, José María Arizmendiarrieta Madariaga, realized in the Nazi bombing campaign of the Spanish Republic that technology had become the source of ultimate power.  The other side of Picasso’s Guernica was a system in which workers themselves could control technology for their own use, providing an alternative to capitalists and militarists monopoly over technological power.

Scotland Bringing Basic Income to Life

People living in the Scottish cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, and North Ayrshire may soon receive an unconditional monthly sum as part of a series of universal basic income pilots currently being explored with support from the local government. In a world where jobs are being increasingly taken over by machines, leaders have started to recognize that the welfare safety net will need to change. Advocates of universal basic income believe that the unconditional offer of a regular, though tiny, sum of money could help many get back on their feet, and even encourage them to invest in new business ideas.

Facebook Deleting Accounts At Direction of US & Israel

A Facebook spokesperson told the New York Times that the company deleted these accounts not because Kadyrov is a mass murderer and tyrant, but that “Mr. Kadyrov’s accounts were deactivated because he had just been added to a United States sanctions list and that the company was legally obligated to act.” As the Times notes, this rationale appears dubious or at least inconsistently applied: Others who are on the same sanctions list, such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, remain active on both Facebook and Instagram. But just consider the incredibly menacing implications of Facebook’s claims. What this means is obvious: that the U.S. government — meaning, at the moment, the Trump administration — has the unilateral and unchecked power to force the removal of anyone it wants from Facebook and Instagram by simply including them on a sanctions list. Does anyone think this is a good outcome?

Activists ‘Arrest Donald Trump’ Outside His Manhattan Residence

Saturday afternoon, dozens of activists gathered in midtown Manhattan to demand the United States impeach and remove President Donald Trump and set a national standard for leadership and accountability. Bill Moyer, the Backbone Campaign’s  Executive Director and co-founder said of the overall action, “Humor and ridicule of tyrants is a timeless tradition we are proud to be part of.  Our grave concerns mount as the stage is being set for the Predator-in-Chief Donald Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Trump’s profane buffoonery and criminal incompetence are an insult to rights and protections people have fought and died for abroad and at home in the social movements that have improved our society."

Paramilitary Attack On Colombian Peace Community

December 29, 2017, four paramilitary persons entered the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado in San Josecito for the purpose of murdering the Peace Community’s legal representative, German Graciano Posso. The paramilitaries had threatened to assassinate German for several weeks. Their attack was thwarted, although German suffered a wound in his hand and another Peace Community member was injured in his leg. The Peace Community members who responded with 20 or more Community members to protect German, captured two of the four paramilitary men, including the one who fired against German.

New Year’s Message And Warning From A War Correspondent

Periodically I disappear into some jungle or a war zone as a war correspondent, in Afghanistan, Southern Philippines or in the middle of plundered Borneo Island. When I return to what some people would readily describe as the‘normal world’, and a news bulletin unexpectedly confronts me at some airport lounge, everything suddenly appears to be bizarre, grotesque, totally surreal, at least for the few initial but excruciating moments. Remembering how things really feel, taste and smell I get desperate. I don’t recognize places described by the mass media. We are talking about two different universes; yes, about two absolutely opposite realities.

Iranian Protests Part Of Regime Change Campaign By US & Israel?

"[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals." This is probably a result of the above meeting: Hundreds took to the streets of Iran’s second largest city of Mashad on Thursday to protest over high prices, shouting slogans against the government.Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators in Mashad in northwest Iran, one of the holiest places in Shia Islam, chanting “death to (President Hassan) Rouhani” and “death to the dictator”.

New York Times Trumpwashes 70 Years of US Crimes

Trumpwashing—defined as whitewashing, obscuring or rewriting the broader US record by presenting Donald Trump as an aberration (, 6/3/16)—was on full display Thursday in a nominally straight news report from the New York Times’ Mark Landler (12/28/17) on how Trump has reshaped US foreign policy. What exactly is this “liberal, rules-based international order,” and when did “the world” view the United States as its most reliable anchor? Landler doesn’t say, he simply asserts this highly contestable and ideological claim, and moves on to pearl-clutch about Trump ruining the US’s hard-won moral authority. He has some 100 percent uncut pro-US ideology to push under the guise of criticizing Trump, and no amount of basic historical facts will get in his way.

Trump’s “America First” Security Strategy Imperils The US

Last week, with great fanfare, Donald Trump rolled out his new National Security Strategy (NSS). Its guiding theme is "America First." An analysis of the 55-page document, however, reveals a program that renders the United States more unpopular and vulnerable to external threats. Trump's plan takes Barack Obama's policy of "American exceptionalism" to a new level. In his speech accompanying the NSS's release, Trump stated, "America has been among the greatest forces for peace and justice in the history of the world." Yet Trump has not only continued but also escalated the Bush-Obama wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, dropped Tomahawk missiles on Syria, threatened North Korea and Iran, intensified airstrikes against Muslim countries, and fanned the flames of conflict in the Middle East.

Israeli Teens: ‘We Refuse To Enlist Out Of Commitment To Peace’

Sixty-three Israeli teenagers have published an open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday, declaring their refusal to join the Israeli army due to their opposition to the occupation. “The army carries out a racist government policy that enforces one legal system for Israelis and another for Palestinian in the same territory,” they write. “Therefore, we have decided not to take any part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people… for as long as people live under an occupation that denies their human rights and national rights – we cannot have peace.” The group calls itself the “2017 Seniors’ Letter,” continuing a long tradition of similar letters sent by high school seniors announcing their refusal to join the army, dating back to 1970 (the writer of this text was a signatory of the 2001 letter). Members of the group have stated they are willing to be imprisoned for their conscientious objection

Activist Victory Forces EPA To Regulate Neurotoxin

A federal appeals court in California this week ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must update their antiquated federal lead regulations within 90 days. Advocates for the change have been fighting in court to get the EPA to update very outdated regulations regarding lead, a harmful neurotoxin. The new rules will strengthen lead hazard standards. The EPA has previously concluded that “lead poisoning is the number one environmental health threat in the U.S. for children ages 6 and younger” and that the current standards are insufficient. The previous standards the EPA was using for dangerous levels of lead in paint and dust were 17-years-old. “This is going to protect the brains of thousands of children across the country,” said Eve C. Gartner, a staff attorney for Earthjustice, one of the groups supporting stronger standards.

The People Of Venezuela Successfully Fight Regime Change

Venezuela’s right-wing political opposition boycotted the vote. But the boycott decision was not part of a coherent political strategy. Rather, it reflected the increasing political disarray and decline of the country’s right-wing opposition–divided by outlook, competing ambitions and by the increasing turn to violence on the part of significant sections. Fueling the disarray of the opposition was the earlier, landslide victory of the PSUV in regional (state) elections on October 15. The party won 54 per cent of the vote and 17 of 23 state governments. Voter turnout was 61 per cent. Western media has turned to two, time-worn tactics as its agitation for the overthrow of Venezuela’s government and president continues. One is to self-censor the reporting of bad news, in this case the PSUV’s positive election results in October and now in December. The other is to lie.

Apple Execs Face Jail In France After Lawsuit Over Slowing Down iPhones

A French activist group has launched a criminal lawsuit against Apple over its policy of slowing down older iPhones in a case that could see the tech giant 's executives jailed and cost it five percent of its income if convicted of the crime of "planned obsolescence". The move by Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP - Stop Planned Obsolescence), an environmental association, comes after lawsuits were launched this week in the US against Apple for similar reasons. The suit was filed on Wednesday in the Paris prosecutor’s office, HOP said in a statement. “Apple has put in place a global strategy of programmed obsolescence in order to boost its sales” of new iPhones, the group said.

We Need A Moral Movement

Preaching at Riverside Church in April on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s sermon against the Vietnam War, I reflected on the continued resonance of his prophetic plea for a “revolution of values” in the United States, and celebrated the resurgence of “a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life” that sanctifies moral resistance and refuses to be silent anymore. From Anchorage to Alabama — from Detroit to Skid Row — we’ve witnessed the courage of directly impacted people, who are determined to become the nation we’ve not yet been. We walked side by side with women who lost their children for lack of healthcare and still demand access for everyone else, men who lost their jobs to a profit-mad economy and still defend the God-given right to meaningful work, and children who lost their innocence to gun violence and still dream of a society that defends the public good.

Trump Admin Fires White House HIV Council Members

President Donald Trump’s Administration has terminated all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). GPB has learned that members of the council were notified yesterday in writing about the decision and were advised their dismissals were effective immediately. The firings came with no warning.  As many as 12 people may have been let go. “It is a dangerous thing when the administration is eliminating people whose views are based in science and community experience,” HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal in an interview with GPB. News of the terminations comes after the Trump administration prohibited officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.
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