South Korea Shifts Towards China

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By Alexander Mercouris for The Duran. The big news in Asia this week is not US President Trump’s grand but ultimately empty visit to China. It is the quiet steps China and South Korea have begun to take towards each other. In a recent article for The Duran I discussed how Russian foreign policy seemed to be edging towards a solution to the Korean crisis involving direct Chinese – Russian brokered talks between North and South Korea which would not involve the US. I also referred to the longstanding Russian projects to build railway lines and gas pipelines across North Korea to South Korea, providing South Korea via North Korea and Russia with a land bridge to Europe, whilst bringing the two Koreas together and binding them closer both economically and politically to the two Great Eurasian Powers ie. Russia and China. I also speculated that these Russian plans – which I said had unquestionably been worked out in collaboration with China – might also involve the two Koreas coming together in some form of confederation with each other.

How It Became A Crime To Be Poor In America

‘Exorbitant fines and fees designed to make up for revenue shortfalls are now a staple throughout most of the country.’ Illustration: Rob Dobi

By Peter Edelman for The Guardian – In the United States, a system of modern peonage – essentially, a government-run loan shark operation – has been going on for years. Beginning in the 1990s, the country adopted a set of criminal justice strategies that punish poor people for their poverty. Right now in America, 10 million people, representing two-thirds of all current and former offenders in the country, owe governments a total of $50bn in accumulated fines, fees and other impositions. The problem of “high fines and misdemeanors” exists across many parts of the country: throughout much of the south; in states ranging from Washington to Oklahoma to Colorado; and of course in Ferguson, Missouri, where, in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, revelations about the systematic criminalization of the city’s poor black residents brought these issues to national attention. As a result, poor people lose their liberty and often lose their jobs, are frequently barred from a host of public benefits, may lose custody of their children, and may even lose their right to vote. Immigrants, even some with green cards, can be subject to deportation. Once incarcerated, impoverished inmates with no access to paid work are often charged for their room and board. Many debtors will carry debts to their deaths, hounded by bill collectors and new prosecutions.

As Climate Talks Open, Federal Report Exposes U.S. Credibility Gap

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By John H. Cushman JR. for Inside Climate Change – As global climate talks resume this week, the U.S. is straddling a climate credibility gap, with the Trump administration’s policies on one side of an abyss and what the government’s own scientists know about climate change with increasing certainty on the other. The disconnect became more evident last week as the administration published, but then basically shrugged off, a comprehensive report on the state of climate science. Written by authoritative government and academic experts, then honed by the extreme vetting of a formal National Academy of Sciences peer review, the latest volume of the National Climate Assessment paints a stern and explicit picture of the risks of climate change. The report’s executive summary pronounced that temperatures have reached the warmest point in human civilization, that our own actions are the cause, and that the worst is yet to come. It followed with a staccato drum-roll of familiar findings: “Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor.” On Monday, the G7 countries—including the U.S.—also affirmed that climate change exacerbates health risks.

ICC Prosecutor Seeks To Investigate US Crimes In Afghanistan

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By Staff of ICC – Today, the Situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has been assigned to a Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’ or the ‘Court’), following my decision to request authorisation to open an investigation into crimes alleged to have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in that State. For decades, the people of Afghanistan have endured the scourge of armed conflict. Following a meticulous preliminary examination of the situation, I have come to the conclusion that all legal criteria required under the Rome Statute to commence an investigation have been met. In due course, I will file my request for judicial authorisation to open an investigation, submitting that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan. It will be for the Judges of the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber, constituted by the Presidency, to decide whether I have satisfied them that the Statute’s legal criteria to authorise opening an investigation are fulfilled. Given the limited temporal scope of the Court’s jurisdiction, my request for judicial authorisation will focus solely upon war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed since 1 May 2003 on the territory of Afghanistan as well as war crimes closely linked to the situation in Afghanistan allegedly committed since 1 July 2002 on the territory of other States Parties to the Rome Statute.

American Psychosis

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By Chris Hedges for Truth DIg – Reality is under assault. Verbal confusion reigns. Truth and illusion have merged. Mental chaos makes it hard to fathom what is happening. We feel trapped in a hall of mirrors. Exposed lies are answered with other lies. The rational is countered with the irrational. Cognitive dissonance prevails. We endure a disquieting shame and even guilt. Tens of millions of Americans, especially women, undocumented workers, Muslims and African-Americans, suffer the acute anxiety of being pursued by a predator. All this is by design. Demagogues always infect the governed with their own psychosis. “The comparison between totalitarianism and psychosis is not incidental,” the psychiatrist Joost A.M. Meerloo wrote in his book “The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing.” “Delusional thinking inevitably creeps into every form of tyranny and despotism. Unconscious backward forces come into action. Evil powers from the archaic past return. An automatic compulsion to go on to self-destruction develops, to justify one mistake with a new one; to enlarge and expand the vicious pathological circle becomes the dominating end of life. The frightened man, burdened by a culture he does not understand, retreats into the brute’s fantasy of limitless power in order to cover up the vacuum inside himself. This fantasy starts with the leaders and is later taken over by the masses they oppress.”

‘Hitler’s American Model: United States And Making Of Nazi Race Law’

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By Bill Moyers for Moyers and Company – Boy, did they ever. In fact, they saw America doing it in a more radical fashion than any of the Nazis themselves ever advocated. I mentioned earlier the demands of the radicals during the early Nazi period in 1933, which were embodied in something called the Prussian Memorandum. Kind of a sinister name, but that’s what it was. The Prussian Memorandum specifically invoked Jim Crow as a model for the new Nazi program, and here’s the irony: The Prussian Memorandum also insisted that Jim Crow went further than the Nazis themselves would desire to go. They were planning to ban offensive socialization between the races if it took place in public but not in private. They went on to observe that the Americans went even further than that, banning interactions even in private. As Nazi debates continued, however, there was a great deal of disagreement over whether anything like Jim Crow segregation was appropriate for Nazi Germany. In fact, if you read the stenographic transcript of that meeting we’re talking about, you’ll come across a leading Nazi radical who denied that segregation would work in Germany. As he put it, “The Jews are just much too rich and powerful. Segregation of the Jim Crow kind could really only be effective against a population that was already oppressed and impoverished,” like the African-American population in America.

North Korea Foreign Minister On What Is Needed For Negotiations With US

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By Adam Garrie for Mint Press News – North Korea’s Foreign Minister, Ri Yong-ho, has spoken exclusively to TASS on the occasion of the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Moscow. Before taking questions, Ri Yong-ho, who recently delivered the DPRK’s speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations, addressed the current state of relations between his country and Russia: Tomorrow, October 12, will mark the 69th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the DPRK and Russia and in this connection I would like to express the hope that friendship and cooperation between our peoples will be growing stronger and that the strategic importance of interaction will grow with the passage of time. My country today is attaining a victory and acting as a worthy counterbalance to the United States, which refers to itself as the “only superpower.” I believe that having such a strong neighbor by its side quite agrees with Russia’s interests. Lately, Korean-Russian relations have been not at the desirable level due to internal and external factors and a number of difficulties and obstacles, but we are optimistic about their potential and their prospects, because there is a solid groundwork for the development of bilateral relations, resting upon a long history of friendship and cooperation.

US Rejects UN Resolution Condemning Use Of Death Penalty To Target LGBTQ People

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By Zack Ford for Think Progress – The United Nations approved a resolution Friday condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory fashion, including its use to punish “apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, and consensual same-sex relations.” But the United States joined a minority of states who voted against it. ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, highlighted the outcome of the vote. Executive director Renato Sabbadini noted in a statement how atrocious some countries’ anti-gay laws are, saying, “It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in States where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love.” Four countries punish homosexuality with death (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen), as do certain provinces in Nigeria and Somalia and ISIS-controlled territories in northern Iraq and northern Syria. The nations of Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates also permit the death penalty, but rarely enforce it. There are far more countries where homosexuality is illegal but not punishable by death. Brunei Darussalam previously passed a death penalty law, but it has not been implemented. Uganda considered such a law just a few years ago.

America Not Immune From Chaos

Hurricane Irma as seen from space. (NASA photo)

By Ann Wright for Consortium News – “Exceptional” America views itself as largely immune from devastating storms and the violence that infect much of the world, but recent weeks show that there is no protection against natural and human catastrophes, writes Ann Wright. Over the past two months – between natural disasters and the actions of a heavily armed gunman firing from a high-rise hotel – citizens of the United States have faced the kind of havoc and violence that people in other parts of the world have been enduring routinely. Of course, other places in the Caribbean suffered their own devastating blows from these major hurricanes: Cuba, Barbuda, Dominica, Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, British Virgin Island, St. Martin, Monserrat, Guadaloupe, St. Kitts and Nevis.Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas killed 59 and left more than 500 wounded. In previous weeks, American citizens have faced loss of life and massive property damage in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands from Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey. In other parts of the world, one-third of Bangladesh has been under water from monsoon rains; parts of Nigeria have been flooded; Mexico has endured killer earthquakes.

Six Things To Know About Mass Shootings In America

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By Frederic Lemieux for Conversation – America has experienced yet another mass shooting, this time at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is reportedly the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. As a criminologist, I have reviewed recent research in hopes of debunking some of the common misconceptions I hear creeping into discussions that spring up whenever a mass shooting occurs. Here’s some recent scholarship about mass shootings that should help you identify misinformation when you hear it. A study I conducted on mass shootings indicated that this phenomenon is not limited to the United States. Mass shootings also took place in 25 other wealthy nations between 1983 and 2013, but the number of mass shootings in the United States far surpasses that of any other country included in the study during the same period of time. The U.S. had 78 mass shootings during that 30-year period. The highest number of mass shootings experienced outside the United States was in Germany – where seven shootings occurred. In the other 24 industrialized countries taken together, 41 mass shootings took place. In other words, the U.S. had nearly double the number of mass shootings than all other 24 countries combined in the same 30-year period.

The Importance Of The Fight For The South–And Why It Can And Must Be Won

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By Bob WIng and Stephen McClure for Organizing Upgrade – The importance of the fight for the South is a matter of considerable controversy. Whatever the rhetoric it’s safe to say that most progressives outside of the South have put little time, energy or money into this struggle since the height of the southern Civil Rights movement. Many have outright given up on the South, considering it either a reactionary lost cause or simply unwinnable. We beg to disagree, and in this essay will make the case that failure to the fight for the South downplays the centrality of the Black struggle in U.S. politics, strategically surrenders the upper hand to the far right and the Republican Party and cripples the fight against poverty. The South is a dynamically changing region and the fight for it is absolutely crucial to defeating the far right and winning a progressive future. Specifically, we argue that as regards building the progressive movement into a powerful force in this country, the South is crucial. (1) Defeating the right and building a strong progressive movement in this country needs the leadership, experience and energy of African Americans, a growing majority of whom who live in the South. (2) Targeting the Southern racist rightwing in its own backyard, on issues of race, poverty, militarism, climate change and democracy, is a crucial part of a broad movement to defeat the right nationally in public opinion, on policy and in elections.

Nature Is Coming After US: Angry Beast

Climate change earth melting. Source Bruce Rolff, Shutterstock

By Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins of Organic Consumers Association – First Harvey, now Irma. As a reporter at Rolling Stone put it, “Mother Nature is coming for us.” Here in the OCA offices, we’re watching and worrying along with the rest of the world. First and foremost, our thoughts are with those most deeply affected by these storms—not just those affected by Harvey and Irma, but also those in Sierra Leone and South Asia, and Los Cabos, Mexico, where flooding has also recently destroyed homes and taken lives. For us, these climate-related tragedies also heighten the sense of urgency around the work we do. They remind us that the time to transform the world’s degenerative industrial food and farming system to a regenerative alternative, one that can both reverse global warming and feed more people, is now. Industrial agriculture overall contributes more to global warming than any other industry. Regenerative agriculture has the power to reverse global warming. Yet most of our politicians and business leaders, and many well-intentioned NGOs, still focus with tunnel vision on reducing fossil fuel emissions as the only solution to global warming. Yes, we absolutely must reduce fossil fuel emissions. But that strategy alone won’t save us.

More Evidence Of Failing US Empire: Key Conflicts Are Really US V. China & Russia

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By Adam Garrie for The Duran – While some pundits continue to downplay the increasingly strong partnership between Russia and China, the reality is that as Russia’s economy continues to grow and as China’s geo-political pronouncements continue to become more wide reaching, the world is witnessing the final stage of a new geo-political alignment that has been many years in the making. China and Russia are now, not only on the same side of many global issues but they are speaking in a singular voice with a similarly loud volume. Three areas where this has manifested itself include of Venezuela, Afghanistan and North Korea. In each of these cases, both Russia and China are saying almost identical things at the same time and are doing so forcefully. By contrast, during the early stages of the Syrian conflict which started in 2011, while China was always supportive of the Syrian government in its battle against terrorists, Russia took a lead in the conflict both in respect of diplomatic announcements and after 2015, in respect of military assistance to the Syrian government.

China Tells US, North Korea To ‘Hit The Brakes’ On Threats

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By Christopher Bodeen for AP News – BEIJING (AP) — China is telling the U.S. and North Korea to “hit the brakes” on threatening words and actions and work toward a peaceful resolution of their dispute, in a sign of growing concern over the standoff on the part of Pyongyang’s only major ally. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that the two countries should work together to contain tensions and permit no one to “stir up an incident on their doorstep,” according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website. “The most important task at hand is for the U.S. and North Korea to ‘hit the brakes’ on their mutual needling of each other with words and actions, to lower the temperature of the tense situation and prevent the emergence of an ‘August crisis,’” Wang was quoted as saying in the Tuesday conversation. The ministry quoted Lavrov as saying tensions could rise again with the U.S. and South Korea set to launch large-scale military exercises on Aug. 21. “A resolution of the North Korea nuclear issue by military force is completely unacceptable and the peninsula’s nuclear issue must be peacefully resolved by political and diplomatic methods,” Lavrov was quoted as saying.

People In The US Are Using Less Electricity Than A Decade Ago

One of five banners entitled The Worker in the New World Order, painted for the founding convention of ICEM (International Confederation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers’ Unions–now merged into INDUSTRIALL). Dedicated to then-imprisoned Nigerian oil workers. Copyright © 1995.  Mike Alewitz

By Steve Hanley for Clean Technica – This startling finding seems counterintuitive, given the rise in the number of appliances and digital devices in American homes over the last decade, but major advances in efficiency — especially in flat-screen televisions — as well as a shift to smaller and smaller devices for much of our entertainment — TVs to laptops to tablets and smartphones — mean less total electricity is being used even though the number of items powered by electricity has increased substantially. Overall, residential electricity sales declined 3% from 2010 to 2016, and 7% on a per capita basis according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Americans are watching less TV, preferring laptops and tablets instead. The use of smartphones, which use very little electricity, is also rising. Although people are spending more time online, they are using Chromebooks and tablets more frequently, both of which use less electricity than the dinosaurs that used to take up space in our living rooms. ENERGY STAR–rated appliances represent another area in which the items we rely on for refrigeration, washing, and drying of clothes use less electricity than their predecessors.