As the United States, with the aid of Western allies and the corporate media, escalates aggression toward Russia using Ukraine as the vehicle, it is necessary to take time to look at the bigger picture of the United States' disregard for international law and the impact that is having globally as well as the push to expand NATO and how that is causing significant division within the alliance. Clearing the FOG speaks with Ajamu Baraka, a long time international human rights defender and the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace, about the United States as a rogue state and what that means for Black America. He also discusses the state of the antiwar movement in the US and the black misleadership class, plus what we need to be doing as US hegemony and the white supremacist-based American Exceptionalism that undergirds are being challenged.
Back in December, Russia sent the U.S. and NATO two draft treaty documents spelling out its demands for security guarantees related to NATO’s posture in Eastern Europe. These demands came in a climate of tension fueled by both a Russian military buildup bordering Ukraine, and U.S. and NATO hysteria over what they deemed an imminent Russian military incursion into Ukraine. The written replies that arrived on Jan. 22 failed — as expected — to address any of Russia’s concerns, including the red line of continued NATO expansion. Rather, the U.S. and NATO listed alternative pathways to diplomatic engagement, including arms control and limits on military exercises, and they now couch the ongoing crisis as a choice between accepting the diplomatic offramp they dictated, or war.
The New York Times handed over its popular The Morning daily newsletter on January 18 to new hire German Lopez, formerly of Vox. His debut edition of the data-driven newsletter (usually helmed by David Leonhardt) was headlined “Examining the Spike in Murders.” As criminal justice activist and expert Alec Karakatsanis (Twitter, 1/18/22) pointed out, the analysis presented as indisputable the notion that a rise in homicides demands a police-based solution—a position that is, in fact, highly disputed, and worth debunking in detail, since it’s a popular one these days, both in the Times and in other prominent outlets (FAIR.org, 6/24/21, 7/20/21). Lopez describes an increase in the murder rate over 2020 and 2021 (which, it’s worth pointing out, is still lower than it was from 1970 through 1996) and explains that victims are disproportionately Black, framing his analysis in terms of racial justice
As the United States weighs more involvement in the growing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, some of the largest weapons companies in the world — Raytheon and Lockheed Martin — are openly telling their investors that tensions between the countries are good for business. And General Dynamics, meanwhile, is boasting about the past returns the company has seen as a result of such disputes. The statements come as the U.S. government escalates arms shipments to Ukraine, among them the Javelin missiles that are a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. House Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to quickly push through a bill that would significantly increase U.S. military assistance to Ukraine, and impose new sanctions on Russia.
This Sunday, January 30, on the streets of Cuba and other parts of the world, the demand for lifting the illegal US blockade against Cuba prevailed. This came just days after the 60th anniversary of the officialization of this hostile policy against the Caribbean island. According to the Twitter profile of the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry, from the cities of Santa Clara in the center of the country, and Bayamo in the east, the family of the Antillean nation joined a caravan that demanded the end of the economic, commercial and financial siege. “Compatriots residing in Italy and friends of #Cuba build #PuentesDeAmor and demand the end of the blockade that hit this Island 60 years ago,” published the Twitter account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since the initiative is also engaged with other cities around the world.
Date on which the Florida Senate Education Committee gave initial approval along party lines to a bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. and championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel "discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress" when teaching about racism: 1/18/2022 Number of days later that a Florida school district canceled a college professor's seminar for teachers on the history of the civil rights movement, citing in part concerns over critical race theory: 1 Month in which DeSantis held a campaign-style event in which he called critical race theory — a decades-old academic movement examining the intersection of race and law — "crap" and said he'd press for legislation banning it from being taught in his state's schools: 12/2021
This week, Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he is retiring from the Supreme Court and President Biden promptly reiterated his promise to fill the seat—for the first time ever—with a Black woman. Breyer, who has served 27 years on the Court, is one of the three remaining “liberal” justices. In that sense, this resignation isn’t a major earthquake: the makeup of the court will remain the same. Still, the announcement comes at an opportune time for the Biden administration. A few months ago, Breyer himself said he was not ready to retire. The timing of his recent announcement to retire before the Court’s session ends in June and ahead of the November midterm elections indicates that he is concerned about the future political makeup of the court.
Small businesses build local wealth, with benefits for nearly every aspect of the community and region. They offer a path to prosperity for hard-working entrepreneurs. They keep a larger share of their economic output within the community than businesses with outside ownership, putting that output to work to support schools, public safety, roads, parks, affordable housing, and many other vital public needs. And young, small businesses create the bulk of the nation’s new jobs. But one of the biggest challenges facing America’s communities is leveling the playing field for small businesses and intentionally moving away from the past decade’s Amazon-take-all trajectory. The $1.9 trillion ARPA provides America’s towns and cities with the money and encouragement to do so.
Union membership fell by almost 2% in 2021 as employment rose by over 3%. That took union density—the share of the workforce belonging to unions—down from 10.8% in 2020 to 10.3% last year, where it was in 2019. Density rose in 2020 because more nonunion workers lost their jobs in the covid crisis than their unionized counterparts, but 2021’s return to employment undid that. For the private sector, just 6.1% of workers were unionized last year, down from 6.3% in 2020, an all-time low for a series that goes back to 1900. (Official numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics began in 1983; I’ve assembled figures for earlier years from various sources.) Public sector density also fell, from 34.8% to 33.9%, not quite a record low. But the number of government workers organized in unions fell by 2.7%, almost four times as much as private sector members. The full history is graphed below.
In recent weeks, Kroger has faced a rash of negative news reports about its employees’ working and living conditions, drawn new scrutiny from lawmakers, and seen thousands of workers go on strike in Colorado — all as the company lobbies on union rights legislation, and bankrolls corporate trade associations trying to kill it. Now amid the potential for congressional hearings and a federal crackdown, the grocery giant did what so many other corporate behemoths do when they’re feeling the heat: pay big bucks to run counter programming claiming it offers “great pay and great benefits” in a Beltway tip sheet read by Washington insiders. The DC tip sheet industry, which includes daily email newsletters like Politico Playbook, Axios AM, and Punchbowl News, may seem obscure, but it serves a special purpose in media.
These are dark days for both our nation and the world. Climate change is wreaking havoc everywhere, a global pandemic continues its onslaught, our nation's experiment in democracy is threatened by a slow-motion insurrection and, to top it all off, our nation has taken the lead in pushing Russia toward a war over Ukraine that is capable of going off the rails into a full-scale nuclear war (and that is not hyperbole!). At least four or five U.S. OHIO Class “Trident” ballistic missile submarines are currently at sea on “hard alert” in their designated patrol areas—ready to launch any or all of their 20 Trident II D5 ballistic missiles, bristling with thermonuclear warheads, at the command of the President.
Ever since Nestle applied for the permit to increase pumping at the White Pine Springs well (PW 101)in Evart for its bottling operation in Stanwood in 2016, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation has been contesting this outrageous water grab. We have argued in public forums, educated across the state about the injustices this grab represents to the people and ecosystems of Michigan, and worked with organizations and citizens who submitted thousands of comments opposing the more than 200,000 gallons a day increase. Failure of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to deny this increase has left two former trout streams badly damaged. We have had a few victories along the way, but without strict enforcement by EGLE, the damage will continue.
The last month has seen a drastic escalation in the war in Yemen. According to the UN, January will most likely be the month with the highest ever casualties reported since the war began in 2014. The January 21 strike on a prison in Sa’ada which killed 91 people marked the highest death toll in a single strike in the last three years. The number of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition last December was already the highest in years. In all likelihood, this figure will be even higher by the end of January. On the other hand, the Houthis have demonstrated their capacity and willingness to retaliate against members of the Saudi-led coalition by sending drones and missiles hundreds of miles away to Abu Dhabi. Exactly at a time when decisive international intervention to find a political solution to end the war is needed, the UN and the international community have shown their unwillingness to take the extra efforts required.
Washington - Earlier this month, Congress launched the bicameral, bipartisan Abraham Accords Caucus to support normalization between Israel and Arab states. Backed by pro-Israel groups, this new political development can be interpreted as a way for the Israel lobby to regain its power over a U.S. Congress that is increasingly critical of Israel. Described as a “cheerleading squad” in the Jewish Insider by its co-chair, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), the caucus’s stated goals include expanding the Abraham Accords agreements and fostering regional peace. The group’s other co-chairs are Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), David Trone (D-MD), Ann Wagner (R-MO), and Brad Schneider (D-IL).