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Book Review

Book Review: ‘No More American Thanksgivings’ And Other Essays

Of the traditional US holidays, Thanksgiving was by far my favorite. I can do without the excessive commercialization of Xmas with its cheesy music that broadcasts for weeks on end. Cancel the forced festiveness of New Years and the sloppy drunks it generates; ditto for the militarism of July 4th.  So, what’s not good about coming together with friends and family and sharing a home cooked feast? I don’t want to ruin the party, but before you carve up the turkey, read the opening essay in Glen Ford’s The Black Agenda. His critique of the holiday is that the mythology surrounding Thanksgiving serves as a justification for our nation’s founding genocide of its native peoples and a validation of white supremacy.

Survivors Uncensored: Voices From Rwanda And The Rwandan Diaspora

Samantha Power, former UN Ambassador, National Security Advisor, current USAID Chief, and a principal in the decisions to bomb both Libya and Syria "to stop genocide," was on the ground in Yugoslavia in the 1990s as a pro-NATO journalist. She went on to build her whole histrionic career on a Machiavellian distortion of the Rwandan Genocide before writing "A Problem from Hell, America in the Age of Genocide " and creating her laughable 1-800-GENOCIDE line.  Search now for Ukraine and "genocide" and you'll get a slew of headlines and proposed prosecutions. Recently, Samantha Power spoke with Rachel Maddow in a segment titled "Samantha Power On Russian Atrocities And 'Genocide': 'The Facts Are Plain As Day '." Everything's black and white and plain as day for Samantha Power and the humanitarian imperialists, and everything returns to Rwanda.

Can Workers Overseas Provide Tips For US Labor Organizers?

The worldwide spread of Covid-19 created major challenges for workers and their unions throughout the globe. Very similar pandemic disruptions provided a timely reminder of the inter-connectedness of the global economy—and the need for cross-border links that enable workers to share information about their own struggles and learn from organized labor in other countries. What are some of the “best practices” abroad that might be reproducible in the U.S. to help strengthen workplace protections here? Two labor-oriented academics, Kim Scipes and Robert Ovetz, have recently published collections of case studies that answer that question in great detail. Their new books will be useful to both union organizers and campus-based observers of comparative labor movements.

The True Adventure Of A 19-Year-Old North American Fighting In The Cuban Revolution With Fidel Castro

Wild Green Oranges describes how author Bob Baldock dropped out of college and was at loose ends in 1958. Then he became inspired after a chance viewing of a newsreel. It was about a band of rebels in the remote eastern mountains of Cuba fighting a guerilla war against the US-backed Batista dictatorship. He had access to news about the little-known events in Cuba at his job as a copyboy at the (now defunct) New York Herald Tribune and became determined to interview the rebels. Then a youth of nineteen years, his only travel outside the Midwest was to New York City. He recruited another dropout classmate, forged press credentials, and hitched to Miami. Working odd jobs and getting by with a little help from their friends to buy air tickets, the two flew to Havana.

Self Defense, Punishment And The Legacy Of Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times journalist and Howard University journalism professor, is the architect of the revised and expanded book version of “A New Origin Story: The 1619 Project, published in late 2021. Hannah-Jones often discusses the influence of 19th and early 20th century journalist, women’s rights organizer, anti-lynching campaigner and public speaker, Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931), on her initial interests and pursuit of a career as a writer focused on themes related to racial justice in the United States. Many of the issues which Wells-Barnett was engaged in during her lifetime remain as key elements of the repressive apparatus of state power. Therefore, two chapters in the latest iteration of the 1619 Project examines the questions of self-defense and punishment as they relate to the continuing plight of African Americans living under national oppression and institutional racism in the 21st century.

On Contact: Islamophobia, Race And Global Politics

Islamophobia is not defined solely as anti-Muslim sentiment. It is not limited to hate speech and hate crimes, racial stereotypes, or discrimination against Muslim men and women. Islamophobia, in its most pernicious and deadly form, is embodied in the wars waged by the United States in the Muslim world, as well as the laws and internal security structures that turn Muslims in the United States into “the other.” These laws include the criminalization of migrants, allowing Americans to justify the violent and illegal treatment of the undocumented, and the wholesale surveillance of Muslim communities. It includes the crippling sanctions imposed by the United States on countries such as Iraq and Iran. It includes the numerous military bases and occupation forces in Muslim countries.

In Conversation With Clayton Thomas-Müller

Indigenous climate activist, writer, and filmmaker Clayton Thomas-Müller was raised in Winnipeg, a city named after the Cree word meaning “muddy waters.” His memoir, Life in the City of Dirty Water, published in August 2021, recounts his early years of dislocation growing up in the core of the Manitoba capital—from the domestic and sexual abuse he endured to the drugs he sold to survive (his first job was managing a drug house for the largest Indigenous gang in the country). Clayton’s early struggles are only the beginning of his remarkable story, however. Years later, his immersion in Cree spirituality and reconnection with the land and his home territory of Pukatawagan led him on a personal healing journey that saw him become a leading organizer on the frontlines of environmental resistance, opening new pathways against the extractive forces perpetuating climate breakdown.

Why Activists Need Art To Create Social Change

“The Art of Activism: Your All-Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible” by Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert compiles knowledge the authors have gleaned from training hundreds of activists and artists around the world over the last 12 years. Their main message? Because today’s political terrain is one of signs, symbols, stories and spectacles, activists must learn to operate in that cultural space if they hope to change the world. Although a free companion workbook is available for those looking to sharpen their practical skills, “The Art of Activism” is more than a nuts and bolts “how-to” guide. Duncombe and Lambert also deliver thought-provoking discussions on the theoretical underpinnings of artistic activism, drawing on fields as diverse as marketing, cognitive science and pop culture.

The Politics Of Protection

The 2008 financial meltdown and the global economic crisis that followed put thousands of cracks into what Mark Fisher called “capitalist realism”—the idea that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. The neoliberal era appeared to be at its end. But it staggered on; the next decade saw most Western states respond with the typical neoliberal playbook. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has made it even easier to imagine the end of the world, and the response of those same states has been quite different. Is neoliberalism actually ending? And what comes next? Political theorist Paolo Gerbaudo explores those questions in his new book, The Great Recoil: Politics After Populism and Pandemic. 

‘Tell the Bosses We’re Coming’

The ongoing debate about reviving the U.S. labor movement tries to grapple with the devastating decline in the union membership rate from one-third of the workforce in the 1950s to less than 11% today. In this discussion, occasionally a book comes along that is a great combination of labor history, thoughtful analysis of union organizing, and suggestions for ways forward. Shaun Richman’s Tell the Bosses We’re Coming: A New Action Plan for Workers in the Twenty-First Century is such a book. Richman is the Program Director of the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies at the State University of New York Empire State College. He brings the unique perspective of a veteran organizer who stepped away from union work to rethink organizing strategy and the legal framework in which unions operate.

Ex-CIA Analyst On Hidden Realities Of Syria War

As a CIA analyst, David McCloskey covered Syria from 2008 to 2014. He draws on his experience for his new spy thriller, “Damascus Station,” set during the early years of the Syrian war. David McCloskey joins Aaron Maté to discuss “Damascus Station”; the early years of the Syrian war; the role of foreign powers including the US; the US decision to support the insurgency despite knowing that Al Qaeda and other Salafi jihadist groups were its “primary engine”; allegations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria; and the direction of US policy in post-war Syria. Guest: David McCloskey. Former CIA analyst who covered Syria for six years, from 2008 to 2014. Wrote memos for the President’s Daily Brief (PDB), lived and worked in CIA field stations throughout the region, and briefed senior White House officials, members of Congress, and Arab royalty.

Path To Extinction Or To A Livable Future

As climate change leads humanity’s march to Armageddon, data surfacing during late 2021 suggests that the march could be much briefer than previously thought.  “Nature is starting to emit greenhouse gases in competition with cars, planes, trains, and factories,” asserts Robert Hunziker.  The Amazon has switched from soaking up CO2 to emitting it.  Likewise, the Arctic has flipped from being a carbon sink to becoming an emission source.  Permafrost is giving off the three main greenhouse gases (GHGs): CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide. So much Siberian permafrost is melting that buildings are collapsing as methane bombs explode, resulting in craters 100 feet deep. As global warming becomes obvious, “climate denial” fades into the sunset. 

Scheer Intelligence: War Is A Multi-Trillion-Dollar Racket

Twenty years since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the human and financial cost of the United States’ failed “War on Terror” is plain to see: as one headline put it, “20 years, $6 trillion, 900,000 lives.” The estimates of lives lost and trillions spent vary throughout media sources, but even the most conservative estimates speak for themselves. Yet, while the Pentagon billed America’s latest imperial endeavors as an imperative series of operations aimed at protecting U.S. national security, there is a simpler, far more cynical and obscene motivation behind these forever wars, according to the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Andrew Cockburn: money. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Cockburn joins host Robert Scheer to discuss his most recent book, “Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine,” released by Verso Books on September 21.

Scheer Intelligence: Something’s Rotten In The Science Of Food

Leading nutritionist Marion Nestle has spent much of her long illustrious career writing about what we eat and the science of food. The James Beard award-winner and author of the blog Food Politics has written a whopping 14 acclaimed books on subjects related to nutrition, including “Soda Politics” and “What to Eat.” And yet, “Unsavory Truths: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, ” a book journalist Robert Scheer calls one of her most important books to date, has gone largely ignored by mainstream media. On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Nestle joins Scheer to discuss some of the shocking revelations  the author uncovered about the links between food science and the incredibly powerful food industry. 

Kucinich Memoir Is A Moving Account Of The Battle Against Corporate Power

The Division of Light and Power,” by Dennis Kucinich, like Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York,” is a gripping, moving and lucidly written account of the hidden mechanisms of corporate power in the United States and what happens when these corporate interests are challenged. It is essential reading, especially as we face an intensified corporate assault, done in the name of fiscal necessity following the financial wounds imposed by the pandemic, to seize total control of all public assets.   Kucinich warns that this assault is more than the seizure of public assets for private gain.  These corporate forces, which function as a shadow government in Washington and cities across the country, threaten to achieve a monolithic lock on all forms of power and extinguish our anemic democracy.
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