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July 2018

Gaza Flotilla Ship Al Awda Violently Seized By Israelis, USS Liberty Survivor Amongst Those Captured

Israeli soldiers in international waters boarded the Al Awda ship headed to Gaza to deliver relief supplies on Sunday, detaining everyone on board, including a USS Liberty survivor, after beating and tasering some passengers, according to an eyewitness account. Only two of the 22 passengers on the ship have been released, with the rest being held in Givon prison in Israel, the flotilla’s organizers said on Monday. One of those released, Zohar Chamberlain Regev, an Israeli citizen, contested an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) statement that the ship had been captured “without exceptional incident.” “People on board were tasered and hit by masked IOF soldiers. We did not get our passports or belongings before we got off the boat. Do not believe reports of peaceful interception,” Regev said in a statement to the organizers, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. Regev referred to the IDF derogatorily as the Israeli Occupation Force.

How The Ultrarich Can Help Fix The Affordable Housing Crisis

A growing number of people invest in real estate they never intend to occupy and push up prices for the rest of us. Cities should make them pay. Down the street from my office, a luxury residential tower is rising, the fifth such project in Boston in the last decade. The 61-story “One Dalton Place” is being marketed as “New England’s tallest and most luxurious residential building.” Across the coastal cities of North America, cranes are rising to construct similar stunning new glass towers of both residential and commercial properties. Real estate in existing neighborhoods is being bid up by investors and wealthy buyers, pushing up the cost of land and housing for everyone else. A high percentage of these housing units will sit empty or rarely occupied. In Boston’s luxury Millennium Tower, for example, only 25 percent of the units are considered the occupants’ principal residence.

Our ‘Rentier Capitalism’ Is One More Nail In Earth’s Coffin

“Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.” This famous socialist slogan, adapted from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ “The Communist Manifesto,” struck Noam Chomsky as a poor fit for most people in the world’s rich nations almost half a century ago. “There is no doubt,” Chomsky wrote in August 1969 (when I was a sixth-grader mourning the Chicago Cubs’ collapse before the onrushing New York “Miracle Mets”), “that we can learn from the achievements and failures of revolutionary struggles in the less-developed countries. …” But, Chomsky added, “In an advanced industrial society, it is, obviously, far from true that the mass of population have nothing to lose but their chains … [since] they have a considerable stake in preserving the existing social order.”

How And Why Trump Should Take Control Of The Fed

For nearly half a century, presidents have refrained from criticizing the “independent” Federal Reserve; but that was before Donald Trump. In response to a question about Fed interest rate policy in a CNBC interview on July 19, 2018, he shocked commentators by stating, “I’m not thrilled. Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. . . . I am not happy about it. . . . I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.” He acknowledged the central bank’s independence, but the point was made: the Fed was hurting the economy with its “Quantitative Tightening” policies and needed to watch its step. In commentary on, Richard Bove contended that the president was positioning himself to take control of the Federal Reserve.

Ahed Tamimi: ‘I Am A Freedom Fighter. I Will Not Be The Victim’

The teenage Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has said she used her eight months in prison as an opportunity to study international law and hopes to one day lead cases against Israel in international courts. “God willing, I will manage to study law,” the 17-year-old from Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank told the Guardian a day after her release. “I will present the violations against the Palestinians in criminal courts. And to try Israel for it and to be a big lawyer, and to return rights to my country.” Tamimi, who rose to global prominence as a child living under military occupation, said she and other Palestinians in her all-female prison unit would sit for hours and learn legal texts. “We managed to transform the jail into a school,” she said. To an outcry from rights groups, the teenager was arrested in December after slapping and kicking Israeli soldiers on camera outside her home.

Creating Pension Plan Chaos For Teachers, Firefighters, And Cops

A single butterfly flapping its wings, chaos theory tells us, can wreak social havoc. Those flaps could alter the course of a tornado two weeks later. A big deal if your home happens to be in that tornado’s new course. Now if a single butterfly could wreak such havoc, imagine the damage a few flaps by America’s super rich could wreak. We don’t have to imagine, suggests a new report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. We just have a trace the recent history of America’s pension funds for state and local government employees. Our story starts decades ago, in the middle of the 20th century, an era in the United States much more equal than today. One prime driver of that greater equality: high taxes on high incomes, as high as 91 percent on joint return income over $400,000.

An Exclusive Interview With Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega

Since the sudden outbreak of protests and violence last April, an uneasy calm had fallen over Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista government have claimed victory over what they call a coup attempt, but they now face condemnation from the US and its allies, who accuse them of unleashing lethal violence against peaceful protesters. I spent much of July inside Nicaragua, speaking with supporters of the government and their opponents. I learned that Washington’s narrative of a despised dictator mowing down unarmed demonstrators wasn’t exactly accurate. Across the country, I observed widespread support for Ortega and the Sandinista movement. It also became apparent from the moment I arrived that Western media had covered up the brutality of the opposition, as well as its anti-democratic agenda.

Amazing Things Happened When 206 Ugly Vacant Lots In Philly Were Landscaped

Almost one in five American adults report some form of mental illness; more than 16 million adults experience depression alone every year. Yet patient mental health services only account for an estimated 5 percent of total medical care spending in the United States. Noting that “spending time and living near green spaces have been associated with various improved mental health outcomes, including less depression, anxiety, and stress,” a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania set out to determine if by changing the places near where people live, they could affect change in mental health outcomes. Their conclusion may come as little surprise to those of who know the health benefits of green space: “Greening vacant urban land significantly reduces feelings of depression and improves overall mental health for the surrounding residents.”

Travel Ban And Sanctions Obstruct Humanitarian Efforts In North Korea

Within moments of returning from his summit with Kim Jong Un, President Trump struck a triumphant tone, buoyantly tweeting, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea … North Korea has great potential for the future!” But just nine days later he extended an existing executive order “Notice Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to North Korea” declaring, “North Korea continue[s] to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” Meanwhile, sanctions imposed by the US, United Nations (UN), European Union and other international entities continue to make life hard for ordinary North Koreans, with no sign of relief in sight.

A Sign Of The Times; US Journalist Detained At Helsinki Summit

During the scripted Trump-Putin press conference in Helsinki, Finland, a US journalist, Sam Husseini, was taken into police custody for holding a small sign. Husseini, a long time advocate for exposing and breaking through the corporate media machine, hoped to ask a few critical questions of the world leaders. He speaks about the press conference, how he was treated and the state of media in general. We also cover recent news including the Mueller indictments, Russia gate, NATO, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the release of Ahed Tamimi and her mother.

On 65th Anniversary Of Korean Truce, Activists Criticize US For Delaying Real Peace

South Korean peace and justice activists have been writing to us complaining that the United States is not responding to the positive steps being taken by North Korea before and after the meeting between President Trump and Chairman Kim. Their views show a great divide between the United States and the calls for a permanent peace which includes removal of US troops as just last week the Congress passed a National Defense Authorization Act which forbids removal of US troops from Korea. The activists argue that the temporary halt in war games which practice nuclear and other military attacks on North Korea are insufficient. They want to see movement toward a real peace treaty and, they want US military forces out of Korea, permanently.

Happy Birthday Medicare!

On July 30, Medicare turned 53. For over half a century, it has provided healthcare as a right to all Americans over 65 and many disabled Americans. It has saved countless lives and kept millions out of poverty. Together with Social Security, it has been the most popular and successful social program in U.S. history.  As we honor their achievement, let us rededicate ourselves to building a diverse grassroots movement, backed by the resources and organizing capacity of America's unions, that is powerful enough to take on the medical industrial complex and establish an expanded and improved Medicare system that covers everyone from the cradle to the grave.

Retired Schoolteacher Blockades Pipeline On Family Land

Monroe County, WV — On Tuesday, July 31, a West Virginia grandmother halted construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) by blockading herself in a 1971 Ford Pinto elevated off the ground at a pipeline work site. The blockade is being carried out by 64-year old local resident, author, retired schoolteacher, and grandmother Becky Crabtree on the section of pipeline easement that is ravaging the land her family lives on in Monroe County. Banners at the site read “Defend What You Love” and “Resist All Pipelines;” messages on the Pinto include, “Power to the People” and “The Fire is Spreading.”

Of Course, Medicare For All Increases Federal Spending…

A recent report by the Koch Brothers-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University found that moving to a National Improved Medicare for All single payer healthcare system would increase federal spending. They analyzed Senator Sanders’ Medicare for All Act and estimated it would increase annual federal spending by $32 trillion over ten years. Don’t let their attempt to weaken the strong support for single payer healthcare in the US fool you. Even though their report underestimates the savings, they admit that single payer would lower the total cost of health care.

Liberals Go Mum On Israel’s Apartheid Law

Did you notice? Liberals didn’t bother to condemn the new Israeli apartheid law. Nor did they say a word about that settler-colonial state’s recent attacks on Gaza. We must be clear racist settler-colonial assault happening anywhere affects oppressed folks everywhere. Israelis have been training police forces in every state of the United States on their brutal methods of suppression they have practiced on the long-suffering Palestinians. The increased militarization of U.S. society makes allowances for white violence on oppressed peoples on this stolen land. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, already notorious for protecting George Zimmerman when he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, is now shielding another white supremacist who has a history of harassment.
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