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Russell Banks, John Brown And The American Soul

The deep malaise that defines American society — the rage, despair and widespread feelings of betrayal and loss — is rarely captured and almost never explained in the pages of newspapers or on screens. To grasp what has happened to the United States, the savage economic and emotional cost of deindustrialization; the destruction of our democratic institutions; the Neolithic violence that sees us beset with almost daily mass shootings in malls, offices, schools and movie theaters; the rise of the militarized state; and the consolidation of national wealth by a tiny cabal of corrupt bankers and corporations, we must turn to our artists, poets and writers. Foremost among writers who explored our peculiar American zeitgeist was the novelist Russell Banks, who died on January 7th at the age of 82.

The US Is Evading Its Responsibility On Climate Change

Eugene Puryear of BreakThrough News talks about the failure of the United States to fulfill its responsibilities in combating climate change. The US is the largest polluter in historical terms. However, it has failed to provide enough funds or take the necessary steps to meet the goals it has set to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Eugene explains the domestic conversation and policy-making around climate change and also talks about how globally, it has taken extremely positions that hurt the interests of the Global South.

The Most Dangerous Situation That Humanity Has Ever Faced

Since 1947, the Doomsday Clock has measured the likelihood of a human-made catastrophe, namely to warn the world against the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who attend to this clock, originally set the device at seven minutes to midnight, with midnight being, essentially, the end of the world. The farthest that the clock has been from midnight was in 1991, when it was set at 17 minutes from midnight. The closest to midnight that the clock has been is now. Since 2020, the clock has sat at ‘doom’s doorstep’ – 100 seconds from midnight. The motivation for this alarming setting was the unilateral withdrawal by the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019.

Let’s Stop Pretending America Is A Functioning Democracy

There is a fatal disconnect between a political system that promises democratic equality and freedom while carrying out socioeconomic injustices that result in grotesque income inequality and political stagnation. Decades in the making, this disconnect has extinguished American democracy. The steady stripping away of economic and political power was ignored by a hyperventilating press that thundered against the barbarians at the gate — Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, ISIS, Vladimir Putin — while ignoring the barbarians in our midst. The slow-motion coup is over. Corporations and the billionaire class have won.

Autocracy, American-Style

The abuse of executive powers has become so commonplace as to be accepted as the norm. We experience it in organizations public and private – ranging from the Oval Office to elite universities to charitable NGOs and foundations, and of course across the business world where the MBA mindset and CEO hubris reign. In this era of impunity, autocratic behavior is taken as a perquisite of office, if not indeed part of the job description. A general condition of social nihilism entices and emboldens the willful who crave arbitrary power for its own sake. The drifting attention of our political class and an inert citizenry are critical facilitating factors. The result in an overall weakening of the country’s dedication to civic principles.

Iran Awaits US Response In Latest Move To Revive The Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, in a conversation with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavosoglu, said on Wednesday, August 10, that Iran “hopes that the American side, with a realistic and pragmatic view and acceptance of the legitimate demands of the Islamic Republic of Iran, will provide the ground for an agreement on the final text,” Press Tv reported.  Iran had earlier objected to media reports on Monday claiming that the final draft of the deal has been reached and negotiations are finalized. Iran said that the US has to respond to its fundamental demands before any deal is signed.  Abdollahian made it clear that Iran will not sign any deal that does not address all the issues raised in the talks related to Iranian interests. 

The Chris Hedges Report: Breaking The Cycle Of American Violence

American society is the most violent of any nation in the industrialized world. Nothing we do, from administrating the world’s largest prison system to militarizing our police, seems to help. Dr. James Gilligan argues that childhood abuse, and the shame it engenders, is the engine that fuels America’s deadliest epidemic. This abuse and shame, he argues, fosters a dangerous numbness that breeds a deep self-loathing and inchoate rage. It is only by understanding the causes of our national epidemic, and addressing those causes, that we will have any hope of stemming the nihilistic violence that grips American society. Dr. Gilligan grounds his writing not only in case studies of the violent patients he works with, but Greek myths and Shakespeare.

China And The US Response To Covid-19

In May and June of 2022 two milestones were passed in the world’s battle with Covid and were widely noted in the press, one in the US and one in China.  They invite a comparison between the two countries and their approach to combatting Covid-19. The first milestone was passed on May 12 when  the United States registered over 1 million total deaths (1,008,377 as of June 19, 2022, when this is written) due to Covid, the highest of any country in the world.  Web MD expressed its sentiment in a piece headlined: “US Covid Deaths Hit 1 Million: ‘History Should Judge Us.’” Second, on June 1, China emerged from its 60-day lockdown in Shanghai in response to an outbreak there, the most serious since the Wuhan outbreak at the onset of the pandemic. 

Who’s Behind The ‘People’s Convoy’ To Washington DC?

Thousands of truckers are being hijacked by anti-vax loonies and encouraged to parade through red state America in search of any remaining Covid-19 restrictions to protest. The so-called “People’s Convoy” is scheduled to leave Barstow, California, on Wednesday, February 23, and meander eastward, picking up truckers as they go for a final jamboree and road-blocking in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 – the day of Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address. Are these the same organizers that brought us Canada’s “Freedom Convoy,” blocking the streets of the capital, Ottawa, for weeks and blocking border crossings to the U.S.? No, those organizers were arrested. Those trucks were confiscated. Those protesters have been debanked and uninsured. This is a whole new crop of American Made truckers.

Governments Buy More Weapons In First Year Of COVID-19

In 2020, when the global economy contracted over 3.1% due to the COVID-19 pandemic, global arms trade recorded an increase of 1.3%, as per latest data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday, December 6. The growth in arms trade, both domestic and international, reveals how governments worldwide chose to maintain or increase their spending on arms despite the economic hardships caused by the pandemic.  According to SIPRI, arms trade by the world’s top 100 companies in the sector touched USD 531 billion in 2020, making it the sixth consecutive year of growth since 2015. According to Alexander Marksteiner, a researcher with SIPRI, the main reason for the growth in arms trade in spite of the global economic slump was “sustained government demand for military goods and services.”

Who Will Pay For The Damage From Climate Change?

To people in developing countries, it seems clear, the wealthy countries that caused most of the problem of climate change should pay the most to adapt to it and to solve the problem.  But instead, countries like the United States lecture low low-emitting countries to do more while they extract their resources and destroy their forests. For example, Nicaragua was an outspoken critic of the Paris climate talks because they did not go far enough. It is one of the countries most impacted by climate change, yet its own greenhouse gas footprint is one of the smallest.  Nicaragua initially insisted that the Paris Accord did not reduce emissions enough (a position that was later adopted by a majority of countries and the IPCC).  Dr. Paul Oquist, Nicaraguan Minister and envoy to the talks, insisted in Paris that developing countries should receive the billions of dollars promised by the big greenhouse gas emitters to pay for greenhouse gas mitigation programs. 

Verdict In The Case Of Black, Brown And Indigenous Peoples

The fact that the United States has committed an array of human rights abuses against Black, Brown, and Indigenous Peoples should be as uncontroversial as it is incontrovertible. There is widespread agreement that settler colonialists committed genocide and other crimes against the Indigenous populations while taking their lands. No one would disagree that enslaved Africans were forced to work the settler colonial lands for hundreds of years in subhuman conditions. The historical record tells the story of additional human rights abuses committed against Mexicans and other groups as the US expanded West and colonized countries like Puerto Rico. No one doubts that Japanese were forced into concentration camps during World War II or that Blacks were lynched and brutalized during Jim Crow.

International Tribunal Seeks To Charge US Government With Crimes Against Humanity

In this era of police violence, pandemic worries, and economic crisis, it is no surprise that U.S. (and local) government agencies have a poor track record of sharing information honestly and directly—especially information about their own complicity in actions and policies that are undemocratic, militaristic, racist, sexist or otherwise oppressive. Basic truths about the society we live in are actively suppressed and denied—including truths about the imprisonment of those whose political views and actions challenge the powers that be. Though the growth of the prison industry has been well documented, there is virtually no documentation and even less news about the imprisonment of many who would be considered political prisoners by any international human rights standards.

America’s Fate: Oligarchy Or Autocracy

The competing systems of power in the United States are divided between oligarchy and autocracy. There are no other alternatives. Neither are pleasant. Each have peculiar and distasteful characteristics. Each pays lip service to the fictions of democracy and constitutional rights. And each exacerbates the widening social and political divide and the potential for violent conflict. The oligarchs from the establishment Republican Party, figures such as Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, George and Jeb Bush and Bill Kristol, have joined forces with the oligarchs in the Democratic Party to defy the autocrats in the new Republican Party who have coalesced in cult-like fashion around Donald Trump or, if he does not run again for president, his inevitable Frankensteinian doppelgänger. 

Report: Among Richest Countries, US Last in Healthcare

The U.S. health care system ranked last among 11 wealthy countries despite spending the highest percentage of its gross domestic product on health care, according to an analysis by the Commonwealth Fund. Researchers behind the report surveyed tens of thousands of patients and doctors in each country and used data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization (WHO). The report considered 71 performance measures that fell under five categories: access to care, the care process, administrative efficiency, equity and health care outcomes. Countries analyzed in the report include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.
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