Trade policy is amounting to be an increasinly contentious topic as the Trump administration has clearly showed its intentions to keep major TPP provisions in NAFTA. Corporations are working with the Department of Commerce to eliminate the few but significant labor and environmental protections the government enforces while members of Congress begin to campaign around trade. 2018 promises to put trade policy at the forefront as presidential elections in Mexico and mid-terms in the United States could determine the fate of North American trade agreements to come.
By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. Following bombings in Afghanistan and Syria, the media has become rather fluent in the “language of war.” Turn on your TV and you’ll be witness to government and mainstream media outlets trying to soften and normalize barbaric bombing by using manipulative words to describe it all. The mainstream media’s use of words like “cruising” and “loitering” to describe weapons that maim and destroy innocent people only diminishes the gravity of warfare. And at its core, the media’s propping up the technology of weapons, such as the Tomahawk missile, are essentially a massive, glorified advertisement for waging more war. What’s more, networks like MSNBC and Fox News both gush over the missile strikes and even suggest that these actions make Trump look more presidential. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp shows how it should be hardly a surprise that in a time of war, corporate-funded media outlets are lacking in the humanity department.
By Naomi Wolf, Alicia Garza, Linda Tirado and May Boeve for The Guardian – The first 100 days of President Donald Trump: how has my life changed? First of all, there was the mourning period. Not for me, but for my fellow citizens. I was just mad. And I wasn’t even maddest at the Trump voters. I understood that the critical battle lines now are not left versus right, but the 1% neoliberal globalisers making off with all of the loot and disembowelling the middle class. So when I saw the campaign, I knew that in the US, just as in the UK, a candidate who said anything at all about people forgotten in the neoliberal race would have a solid chance. No – I was mad at my own leftwing tribe. All of January, people on the left would confront me with dazed, grief-stricken expressions, as if they had just emerged from a multi-car pileup on a foggy highway. “How could this have happened? What will we do?” I couldn’t even bear to participate in those conversations. Finally I started explaining my rage to my closest friends. I had been screaming about the possibility of this very moment for eight years, since I published a piece in the Guardian titled “Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps” and wrote a book based on it, called The End of America (2007).
By Fred Nagel for Counter Punch – Whenever there are obvious conflicts within the ruling class, the concept of a Deep State is brought out to explain why our government seems to be coming apart at the seams. When the tired rhetoric of our two party system can’t bring us to a satisfying catharsis, there is always the deus ex machina of grand conspiracies and hidden rulers. The actual nature of our oppression, however, has been in plain sight for decades, although assiduously avoided by much of our media. The criminality of the CIA and the FBI is a case in point. Both agencies have long been well beyond Congressional oversight. The dirty tricks, political harassment, and illegal spying carried out by the FBI, as well as the foreign assassinations, political coups, and massive surveillance of the CIA have only been thoroughly investigated once, and that was during the Church Committee hearings of 1975. The hearings exposed the lawlessness of FBI and CIA, but made little difference in either agencies’ long term accountability, despite the creation of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Thirty-two years later, Senator Jay Rockefeller, then Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee…
By Kyle Daly and Michaela Ross for BNA – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai huddled with Facebook Inc. and Oracle Corp. executives in Silicon Valley to discuss the agency’s net neutrality rules, as the tech sector gears up to fight his planned changes. Pai told reporters April 20 he met with executives from the two companies and others, including Cisco Systems Inc. and Intel Corp, on April 17, but declined to discuss specifics. The coming storm over the rules promises to pit the tech giants against communications titans, including AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. The fight is likely to be the biggest test yet of whether the tech sector’s clout in Washington has diminished since President Donald Trump took office. The current rules bar internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic flowing across their networks in most circumstances. Pai said he sought ideas from the tech companies on “how to secure some of those principles of free and open internet that I think most people agree on.” Pai has met with broadband trade groups and other stakeholders to discuss his plan to shift net neutrality enforcement powers to the Federal Trade Commission, according to people familiar with those discussions.
By Gareth Porter for Middle East Eye – After it quickly became clear that the US war in Iraq was already motivating young men across the Middle East to wage jihad against the US in Iraq, the chief architect of the occupation of Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, came up with the patently false rationalisation that Iraq would be a “flytrap” for jihadists. But in January 2005, after a year of research, the CIA issued a major intelligence assessment warning that the war was breeding more al-Qaeda extremist militants from all over the Middle East and even giving them combat experience that they would eventually be able to use back home. In a 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, the intelligence community warned that the number of people identifying themselves as jihadists was growing and was becoming more widespread geographically and even predicted growing terrorist threats from “self-radicalized cells” both in the US and abroad. The war managers continued to claim that their wars were making Americans safer. CIA director Michael Hayden not only sought to sell the flypaper argument on Iraq, but also bragged to the Washington Post in 2008 that the CIA was making great progress against al-Qaeda, based mainly on its burgeoning drone war in Pakistan.
By Staff of Cosecha. The sit in a the South Bay detention center in Boston comes in response to the detention of three immigrant rights activists from Justicia Migrante in Burlington, VT: Jose Enrique “Kike” Balcazar, Zully Victoria Palacios, and Cesar Alexis Carrillo Sanchez. ICE has been specifically targeting immigrant rights activists in what appears to be blatant political retaliation for advocating publicly for the rights of immigrants and dairy workers. “While the realities of raids, repression, and deportations are nothing new for our people, they’ve reached an unbearable boiling point,” said Rodrigo Saavedra, a Cosecha organizer. “The time has come for immigrants to transform the political weather. Cosecha is planning what could be the largest immigrant strike since the 2006 megamarches on May 1. It will be a Day Without Immigrants: We won’t work; we won’t buy; we won’t go to school. Instead, we will rise together, we will march together and, in the absence of our labor and consumption, we will be recognized.”
By AFP for The Indian Express – Yemeni protesters reached the Red Sea city of Hodeida on Tuesday, ending a weeklong march from the capital to demand the rebel-held port be declared a humanitarian zone. Some 25 protesters made the 225-kilometre (140-mile) walk, dubbed the “march for bread”, to call for unrestricted aid deliveries to Yemen, where Iran-backed Huthi rebels have battled government forces allied with a Saudi-led Arab coalition for two years. Protestors waved flags emblazoned with loaves of bread and chanted slogans demanding the port be spared in the war, which the United Nations estimates has killed more than 7,700 people and left millions struggling to find food. “The Hodeida port has nothing to do with war… Let them fight anywhere, but leave the port alone. The port is for our women, children, our old people,” said protester Ali Mohammed Yahya, who walked for six days from Sanaa to Hodeida. Hodeida, the main entry point for aid, is currently controlled by the Huthis but fears are mounting over a potential coalition military offensive to seize control of the port. The United Nations last week urged the Saudi-led coalition not to bomb Hodeida, the fourth most populated city in Yemen.
By Eric London for WSWS – A wide range of nominally left-wing political groups and publications have acquiesced to a series of dangerous military actions by the Trump administration that have brought the world to the brink of war. On April 13, the US dropped the largest nonnuclear bomb ever deployed in history in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb weighs over 10 tons and is so destructive it reportedly obliterated the homes of peasants living several miles from the drop zone. Four days later, Vice President Michael Pence traveled to the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula, where the US has threatened to use preemptive military force against the nuclear-armed North. Pence acknowledged that the MOAB bombing was aimed at proving that the US was prepared to go to war. “Just in the past two weeks,” he declared, “the world witnessed the strength of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.” The growing danger of a nuclear conflagration is widely felt.
By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet – From Staten Island to Standing Rock, “copwatchers” are everywhere in America. “Copwatching is an idea, it’s an act. WeCopwatch is a group,” explains WeCopwatch founder and Oakland-based guerrilla filmmaker Jacob Crawford at the documentary’s start. Crawford has been copwatching since the early 2000s, having been inspired by George Holliday, a Los Angeles plumber who used his Sony Handycam to tape the beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department in March 1991. “Seeing that there’s a real issue of police brutality in East Bay, I thought I’d take my camera out to the streets and really try to document what was going on,” Crawford says. But copwatching is often risky, and in extreme cases, creates a downward spiral of retaliation. Ramsey Orta, who filmed Eric Garner’s chokehold death at the hands of police, was sentenced to prison in April 2015. And he’s not alone. “I started to see a trend of arrests happening,” Copwatch director Camilla Hall told AlterNet. For the documentary, Hall went to great lengths to tell Orta’s story, both in and out of jail.
By Jordan Riefe for Truth Dig – Maybe Jack wasn’t the fool son when he traded the family cow for a handful of magic beans. Seeds are the givers of life, the minute building blocks of family farms and agri-empires alike. They are powerful and often sacred objects woven into local customs and cultures around the world. America’s own Thomas Jefferson was a famous horticulturist and seed saver who grew 330 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruit. Among his illustrious titles was that of patent examiner, basing his decisions on laws he himself had written. Items deliberately excluded from patents included plants and animals, placing public interest over private gain. Throughout human existence, seed diversity has been a constant, including drought-resistant strains, or those able to withstand floods or wide temperature swings. For countries plagued by war and poverty, this can mean the difference between life and death. “The Irish potato famine is a clear and elementary example of what happens when you rely on too little diversity—[you get a] mass refugee situation, many of them fleeing to the U.S.,” Jon Betz tells Truthdig. He and co-director Taggart Siegel are the filmmaking team of “Seed: The Untold Story,” a documentary that premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens on April 17, and streams online beginning April 18.
By Liu Xin for Global Times – Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump on Monday discussed bilateral ties and the situation on the Korean Peninsula over the phone, promising close contact to allow for the prompt exchange of views on major issues of mutual concern. China strongly opposes actions that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, Xi said, adding that China hopes the parties concerned will exercise restraint and avoid actions that aggravate tensions on the peninsula, the Xinhua News Agency reported. It was the second phone conversation between the presidents since Xi visited Trump in Florida on April 6. Xi noted that if the parties shoulder their responsibilities and meet each other halfway, they can solve North Korea’s nuclear issue and achieve denuclearization, according to Xinhua. Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are mounting, with South Korean and US media reporting that North Korea is preparing its sixth nuclear test on Tuesday, the 85th anniversary of the founding of its military. North Korea has reportedly evacuated citizens living near the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where it conducted the fifth nuclear test in September 2016.
By Staff of Zoom In Korea – And please help us in calling the Defense Ministry to complain and tell them to stop the forced deployment of the THAAD system! During the protest on Saturday April 22, the Seongju Struggle Committee condemned the United States Forces Korea (USFK) and the South Korean government for rushing to begin construction of the THAAD base even before completing the necessary prerequisite steps — “It is illegal to bring in construction-related material when the results of the environmental impact assessment have yet to come out.” On April 20, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the South Korean government had handed over the former Lotte Skyhill Golf Course to the United States Forces Korea. The USFK is proceeding with preparations for the THAAD deployment. On the same day, U.S. military personnel were seen driving construction vehicles through Soseong-ri Village into the deployment site. Thirty residents and Won Buddhists attempted to block two vehicles from entering but were unsuccessful. The South Korean police disrupted the peaceful protest of the residents and created a path for the vehicles to enter the deployment site.
The United States has been escalating conflict with North Korea recently. Of concern is that President Trump announced today that he plans to meet with all 100 senators on Wednesday, April 26, without their staffers, at the White House. We must send a strong message to the senators that we will not tolerate a US attack on North Korea. The time to do that is now. Use the Capitol Switchboard at 202 224 3121 to call your senators today and tell them that we want peace with North Korea. Negotiate with President Kim Jong-un. Stop US military exercises on the North Korean border. Join us at the White House on Wednesday at 2 pm. See this Facebook page for details. If you can’t come to DC, then hold an action locally.
By Staff of Health Over Profit – We are business owners, physicians and health policy experts writing to urge you to take action that will truly solve the healthcare crisis in the United States. The current approach is the most expensive and inefficient in the advanced world, is a drag on our economy and yields relatively poor health outcomes. We are writing to seek a meeting with you to discuss how to create a national system that provides health care for all in a far more cost-effective and efficient manner than our current system provides. We agree with you that the Affordable Care Act is a problem. It has not changed the fact that the United States spends the most on health care simply because the cost of services, pharmaceuticals and administration are the highest in the world. Healthcare spending is rising faster than wages and inflation and is consuming an increasing share of our Gross Domestic Product. This is not sustainable. The business sector spends more on administering and paying for employee health benefits than it gains in net profits. This makes it impossible for US corporations to compete internationally with countries that have a universal, national health system funded by taxpayers.