The incidents of mindless, mass carnage in the United States have become so routine that they do not even make national headlines unless the incident has a potential attention-grabbing twist. One of those dramatic twists is when the victims of a mass-shooting are from a common social identity and the perpetrator appeals to be motivated by hatred of the targeted group. This is what makes the shooting in Buffalo stand out. The authorities could not hide the fact that it was a hate crime and the media saw a juicy story, if only for a day or two. However, for those of us who are members of communities and peoples who are increasingly finding ourselves on the receiving end of state and private racially motivated violence, we have a life-or-death requirement to attempt to understand the complex political and socio-cultural elements that are producing this dangerous environment.
As Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, wrote in early February, before Russia's intervention in Ukraine: America no longer has the monetary power and seemingly chronic trade and balance-of-payments surplus that enabled it to draw up the world’s trade and investment rules in 1944-45. The threat to U.S. dominance is that China, Russia and Mackinder’s Eurasian World Island heartland are offering better trade and investment opportunities than are available from the United States The most glaring example is the U.S. drive to block Germany from authorizing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to obtain Russian gas for the coming cold weather. Angela Merkel agreed with Donald Trump to spend $1 billion building a new LNG port to become more dependent on highly priced U.S. LNG. (The plan was cancelled after the U.S. and German elections changed both leaders.)
On Wednesday, Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega called for strengthening the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as the most appropriate space for the meeting of the peoples and their governments of the region. “Our starting point is CELAC. Now we need to strengthen it so that this community has more sovereignty and autonomy,” he said during the celebrations for the 127th anniversary of the birth of Augusto Cesar Sandino, the hero of the Nicaraguan struggle against U.S. imperialism. "CELAC was born with the strength and energy of the revolutionary processes that were multiplying in Latin America and the Caribbean," Ortega recalled, stressing that its promoters had the courage not to include the United States in that community.
More than a hundred artists, including Hollywood stars, acclaimed authors and prominent musicians, have condemned Israel’s killing of esteemed Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Actors Susan Sarandon, Tilda Swinton, Mark Ruffalo, Kathryn Hahn and Steve Coogan are among the signatories to an open letter calling for “full accountability for the perpetrators of this crime and everyone involved in authorizing it”. Abu Akleh, well-known across the Arab world for her reporting on Israel’s occupation and apartheid system, was shot dead last week while wearing a press vest. Israeli human rights group B’Tselem has refuted attempts by Israeli leaders to deflect responsibility.
Atlanta, Georgia - “We are on the timeline in which everyone loses,” a friend once said. It always felt that way. Even though we always tried, all of us, our victories were always innovations in methods, in discourse. Something is changing. In the forest. Across the city. Even more, it’s as if an astral plane has opened up. This plane, if it exists, seems to spiral outward in every direction. Everything is growing from one simple fact: we really intend to win. We won’t let them take everything from us, to pave over everything with condos and parking lots. Hundreds of people ride dirtbikes and ATVs on a Sunday afternoon, giving shared meaning and purpose across three generations of small-time mechanics and adventurers. Music pulses through the trees as small groups find their way down the walking path, dimly lit by glow sticks, dancing beneath the stars for free; no doorman, no cover fee. On the edge of town, apartment complexes split the cost of bounce houses so that all of the children can celebrate birthdays together, sharing food and community in the warm Georgia sun, despite whatever challenges the work week holds.
Washington, DC - Yesterday Gabe Galanda, Chairman of the Huy Board of Advisors, delivered an intervention in Washington, DC to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, regarding obstacles Indigenous prisoners in the United States face to enjoying and exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. Shaheed held a consultation with Indigeneous peoples from the United States regarding obstacles they face in exercising traditional religious freedoms. In October 2022, he will issue a report at the United Nations General Assembly regarding impediments to Indigenous religious rights worldwide. The Native American Rights Fund also delivered an intervention to the Special Rapporteur.
Almost all Latinos believe there are better ways to make their communities safer than simply funding police departments, according to a first-of-its-kind study conducted by Mijente and other groups. In “Futuro y Esperanza: Latinx Perspectives on Policing and Safety,” 93 percent of the Latinos surveyed believe that making their communities safer requires “investing money in things that prevent crime from happening in the first place, such as good schools, access to good-paying jobs, and affordable housing, instead of just funding police to respond to it.” Most Latinos (62 percent) also say they or a loved one have had negative or even “unsafe” experiences with police, though the prevalence of such experiences varies across race, class, and gender.
Bernard Callegari, a member of the Construction and Building Laborers’ Local 79 union in New York City, argues that every laborer in his craft jurisdiction deserves to work safely, with dignity and a fair wage. This is why he knew the union needed to take action when its members began to notice that a particular kind of worker was being taken advantage of in the local construction industry. “We noticed that there was a huge upswing in the workforce that was being used by these body shops, that they were focusing on and targeting the formerly incarcerated as a workforce to be exploited,” said Callegari. This concerned him not just as a union worker, whose local is part of the bigger Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), but also as someone who himself had once been incarcerated.
New York City, New York - At Maison Jar – a new grocery store located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in New York City – silos of dry goods line one wall. Dried beans, grains, pasta, nuts, and coffee are beside bins of cooking staples like flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar. A refrigerator on the wall opposite holds industrial-sized jars of olives, racks of eggs, and metal trays of fresh produce, and a freezer is stocked with plastic bins of frozen fruit and vegetables. Prepared snacks like dried mangos, wasabi peas, gummy bears, and chocolate-covered nuts fill glass jugs on the center tables. The back of the store has shelves of metal dispensers filled with oil and liquid condiments – like soy sauce and vinegar – glass jars of loose spices, and a table of multi-gallon pump bottles of laundry detergent, shampoo and conditioner, body lotion, and other personal care products.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic on September 26, 2020 during the General Debate of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves said that [...] the international campaign for reparatory justice, widely promoted by governments across our Caribbean Community and by social activists within the industrialized metropoles, must form part of any serious efforts to achieve the sustainable development agenda […]. On November 3, 2020 during the "Peacebuilding and sustaining peace" debate organized by the United Nations Security Council the President of the "CARICOM Reparations Commission" Hilary Beckles [...] called on the Council to acknowledge the global reparatory movement, adding that while most crimes against humanity were committed in past, the current century will be one of peace and justice […].
The campaign group, which calls itself the Tyre Extinguishers, came to prominence earlier this year when they claimed to have deflated the tyres of hundreds of vehicles. They say they are leading a new movement across the country encouraging people to take action against urban SUVs and they have previously claimed they specifically target affluent areas of the UK. In a statement earlier today, the group said: "This is to let you know that on Tuesday evening, Bristol Tyre Extinguishers disarmed 50 SUVs in the Clifton area of Bristol. "Bristol is living through an air pollution and climate crisis, and we won't stop until these monster vehicles disappear from our streets." Avon & Somerset Police is treating the spree of incidents as criminal damage and is asking anyone who witnessed anything to come forward.
Workers at a Target store in Christiansburg, Virginia, have filed for a union election and, if successful, the store would be the first belonging to the retail chain to unionize. Target has long opposed unionization, with anti-union videos to discourage workers from unionizing. Earlier this year, Target training documents for managers to prevent unionization within stores were leaked. Target has already reportedly pushed back on the union organizing effort in Virginia, trying to use union dues as a tactic to deter workers. But workers are seeking to capitalize on a surging energy in the US labor movement after recent union victories at dozens of Starbucks stores and the first Amazon warehouse in the US.
A white racist gunman targeted and killed ten African Americans in a supermarket in an African American community in Buffalo, New York. The 18-year-old shooter, Payton Gendron, has been heavily influenced by the white supremacist ideology of replacement theory which encourages violent attacks against African Americans and other nationalities in the United States. According to reports, Gendron drove more than 200 miles in New York state to this location where on several occasions, he visited the store in order to map out his murderous attacks against innocent people. One witness said that he had talked to Gendron the day before outside the supermarket for over 90 minutes. This massacre follows numerous incidents over the last few years where gunmen motivated by racist beliefs have carried out mass shooting aimed at killing as many of a particular targeted group as possible.
On May 16, the Biden administration announced new measures to “increase support for the Cuban people.” They included easing travel restrictions and helping Cuban-Americans support and connect with their families. They mark a step forward but a baby step, given that most U.S. sanctions on Cuba remain in place. Also in place is a ridiculous Biden administration policy of trying to isolate Cuba, as well as Nicaragua and Venezuela, from the rest of the hemisphere by excluding them from the upcoming Summit of the Americas that will take place in June in Los Angeles. This is the first time since its inaugural gathering in 1994 that the event, which is held every three years, will take place on U.S. soil. But rather than bringing the Western Hemisphere together, the Biden administration seems intent on pulling it apart by threatening to exclude three nations that are certainly part of the Americas.
An important aspect of debate on conflicts relates to identifying offensive and defensive forces as this has important implications for ethical aspects and the moral strength commanded by contending sides. In the Ukraine conflict there are many complexities, but perhaps such identification can become becomes easier if we follow Prof. Richard Falk in seeing the Ukraine war in terms of not one but three wars—Russia vs. Ukraine, USA vs. Russia and Western Ukraine vs. Eastern Ukraine. If Russia vs. Ukraine war is seen to be starting from February 24 2022, then clearly Russia is in the offensive position in this war. However in the larger and for world peace the riskier war-- the USA versus Russia conflict—the USA is clearly in the offensive for the much longer period of nearly three decades.