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September 2020

Reportback: Julian Assange Hearing On Tuesday September 29

Tuesday has been another day on which the testimony focused on the extreme inhumane conditions in which Julian Assange would be kept imprisoned in the USA if extradited. The prosecution’s continued tactic of extraordinary aggression towards witnesses who are patently well informed played less well, and there were distinct signs that Judge Baraitser was becoming irritated by this approach. The totality of defence witnesses and the sheer extent of mutual corroboration they provided could not simply be dismissed by the prosecution attempting to characterise all of them as uninformed on a particular detail, still less as all acting in bad faith.

The US Postal Service Is A National Asset

The financial problems of the United States Postal Service (USPS) are the result of misguided policy decisions — some of them long-standing — not declines in first-class mail, its primary source of revenue. With the increased demands of voting by mail in a national election and a boom in home package delivery, the pandemic makes a well-resourced postal service more important than ever. Nostrums about the public debt have contributed to a decades-long, bipartisan attack on the US public sector, including the postal service.

Canada Has A War Crimes Problem

Two new reports on Canadian weapons exports reveal that Canadian-based corporate entities (and, by extension, government agencies that support and encourage their exports) are complicit in the commission of war crimes in Yemen, Turkey, Libya, Syria and Iraq. These findings build on previously raised concerns that the Canadian military was complicit in war crimes during the occupation of Afghanistan (including when current Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan operated there as a soldier).  Earlier this month, the United Nations criticized Canada, among other nations, for continuing to export weapons to all parties that fuel the commission of war crimes in Yemen. 

The Battle For Democracy In Ecuador

Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno and his allies have gone to great lengths to prevent former president Rafael Correa and his political movement from returning to power. In order to achieve this goal, the current government has persecuted opponents and barred candidates from running. Moreno’s authoritarianism has, so far, gone largely unnoticed internationally. With elections scheduled for February 2021, it is crucial that the international community keeps a vigilant eye on the Ecuadorian government’s persistent attempts at perverting the course of democracy.

Fake News Hoax About ISIS Exposed

The top US newspaper has been exposed for overseeing another large-scale fake news operation. The main source for the New York Times’ award-winning podcast, Caliphate, has been arrested and charged with lying about joining ISIS. The major media outlet had relied on this man’s fabricated story as the core of its reporting, and said two US government officials had independently confirmed his identity. So far, the Times has not issued any retractions or corrections. But the fake news spread by the American “newspaper of record” has touched off a political scandal in Canada.

As The Veteran Suicide Crisis Persists, Washington Turns To Snake Oil And Swamp Creatures

In mid-August, former Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Anthony Principi (2001-2005) worked to get a number of fellow former VA chiefs to sign on to a draft Op-Ed encouraging the House to take up a Senate-passed suicide prevention bill —S. 785: The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. The seemingly innocuous legislation actually represents a major step towards privatizing veterans’ mental health care.  It will give the VA Secretary broad authority to award $174 million in grants up to $750,000 in size to private sector programs that ostensibly enhance veterans’ mental health and reduce veteran suicide.

The Secret To Farming For The Climate

A major change to how we farm is not only necessary, it’s inevitable. The 2019 Climate Change and Land IPCC report described the need to focus on changing land use and current agriculture practices in order to address the climate crisis. A quiet but growing trend of stock-free, otherwise known as veganic, farming can protect and regenerate the environment, and offer a prosperous economic future for farmers and regions alike. The agriculture ‘value chain’ (including deforestation, farming, processing, packaging, transportation, and waste) accounts for 25% to 57% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Report: Special Police Units Exclusively Used Force On Black People

The vast majority of people stopped, frisked, or arrested by officers in D.C.’s special gun recovery and narcotics units were Black, according to a new report mandated by the D.C. Council. Black people were the subjects of 87% of stops, 91% of arrests, and 100% of use-of-force incidents, despite making up 46% of the population. White people accounted for just 5% of stops. The report gives a more complete picture of the operations of these special units, which have been accused of using aggressive tactics with little oversight or transparency. The units are responsible for complex narcotics investigations, as well as efforts to get illegal guns off the streets.

New law Surfaces South’s Racist Beginnings Of Felon Voter Disenfranchisement

Tennessee - In June, large crowds of Black Lives Matter protesters occupied the plaza in front of Tennessee's State Capitol, where inside, a 44-inch bust of the first Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard, Nathan Bedford Forrest, has sat still in his bronze bearing for over 40 years. A line of state troopers stood silently on the other side of the encampment, making arrests and dragging protesters away. Those who remained chained themselves to the property, chanting and playing Kendrick Lamar through loudspeakers, annoying representatives inside the capitol, and making it clear—they were not leaving until the immortalizing bust of the KKK's first leader was removed or Governor Bill Lee would meet with them.

‘Bomb Trains’ Coming Soon Through Your Town

An energy company tied to a hedge fund that loaned millions to the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies will benefit after Team Trump approved railroads running “bomb trains” through our nation. They are loaded with liquefied natural gas with more explosive power than the atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Liquefied natural gas is even more volatile than Bakken crude oil carried on trains like the one that derailed and caught fire on July 6, 2013, in Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, killing 47 people.

Report: Bad Day For Julian Assange

Today was the worst day for the defence since the start of the trial, as their expert witnesses failed to cope with the sheer aggression of cross-examination by the US Government and found themselves backing away from maintaining propositions they knew to be true. It was uncomfortable viewing. It was not that the prosecution had in any way changed their very systematic techniques of denigrating and browbeating; in fact the precise prosecution template was once again followed. It goes like this. undermine academic credentials as not precisely relevant humiliate by repeated memory test questions of precise phrasing of obscure regulations or definitions

Unfounded UN Report On Venezuela Used As Regime Change Tool

The United Nations Human Rights Council issued a report* by the Independent Mission to Determine the Facts in Venezuela (Independent Mission), which accuses Venezuela of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed since 2014.” The veracity, timing, and political intent of this report is best understood in the context of a campaign led by the U.S. to overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected government of President Nicolás Maduro and before him of Hugo Chávez. Venezuela is a historically petroleum exporting nation and has consequently suffered from the crash in the international oil prices starting in 2014.

The Next Steps In Eviction Defense

Oregon - Here in Portland, there are signs that the movement for Black lives and the movement for actually affordable housing are increasingly intersecting in all kinds of ways.  Among the networks engaged in popular education and resistance organizing efforts around housing issues, you’ll find groups normally focused on the massive problems of killer cops and institutional racism, such as Don’t Shoot PDX.   Outside of the home of a family facing foreclosure in North Portland on Mississippi, you’ll find people who have long been involved with the daily protests that have been going on in Portland since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th.

Venezuela: Democracy Versus Blockade

On December 6 there will be elections in Venezuela to elect all the deputies to the National Assembly (NA), an event of extraordinary political transcendence. But before going into that subject I will mention the elections that will be held in several Latin American countries in the coming months, all of them are very important in the dispute for our America between the right-wing and the popular forces. On October 18, general elections in Bolivia, where Evo Morales’ MAS is the favorite to win in the first round, but the big question remains whether the same oligarchic and racist group that, supported by Washington, overthrew Morales and established a dictatorship, is willing to recognize the victory of the “savages,” as they call the Indians.

Natural Gas Fracking Under Fire In Pennsylvania

In a blistering report on Pennsylvania’s 12-year experience with hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, a special statewide grand jury said public health and the environment have suffered and the state’s environmental and health agencies, rather than acting as watchdogs, had a “culture of inadequate oversight.” “When it comes to fracking, Pennsylvania failed,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who convened the Investigating Statewide Grand Jury that listened to scores of witnesses and reports of investigators over two years.
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