United States Withdraws From Afghanistan? Not Really

The United States, it appears, is willing to allow the Taliban to return to power with two caveats: first, that the U.S. presence remains, and second, that the main rivals of the United States—namely China and Russia—have no role in Kabul. In 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in Chennai, India, where she proposed the creation of a New Silk Road Initiative that linked Central Asia through Afghanistan and via the ports of India; the purpose of this initiative was to cut off Russia from its links in Central Asia and to prevent the establishment of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which now runs all the way to Turkey.

Colombia on the Brink

In the last week, Colombia has experienced the most widespread civil unrest of its modern history. Since Wednesday, April 28th, millions of people have taken to the streets to fight back against a regressive national tax reform bill. The bill, farcically called the “law of sustainable solidarity,” aimed to cover budgetary shortfalls resulting from the paralysis of the economy brought on by COVID. In fact, the legislation was a cynical attempt by right-wing President Ivan Duque to shift the burden of the economic crisis onto those who can least afford it.

Napoleon Between War and Revolution

To avoid losing its power to the royalists or the Jacobins, France’s well-to-do bourgeoisie turned its power over to Napoleon, a military dictator who was both reliable and popular. The Corsican was expected to put the French state at the disposal of the haute bourgeoisie, and that is exactly what he did. His primordial task was the elimination of the twin threat that had bedeviled the bourgeoisie.

Roaming Charges: We Who Are About to Get Shot, Salute You

My number had finally been called. Well, texted. No one calls anymore, except sexy robotic voices trying to sell me extended warranties for my car and electric toothbrush. On Monday, I was scheduled for my second dose of Pfizer’s COVID elixir, a strange brew which one friend pungently described as a mixture of germs, animal parts, formaldehyde and pus. Yum. My appointment with destiny: High noon at the convention center in Portland, shrouded in tear gas or not. My only choice: right arm or left.

Death by Neoliberalism

One of the persistent questions from history is how once thriving peoples and nations decline. This decline can come in the form of high drama— think Germany in the 1930s, or steady social decline that reaches a point where it becomes irreversible. Part of an explanation is that the terms ‘peoples’ and ‘nations’ suggest singularities [...]

The “Kill a Leftist” Law

So now it’ll be legal in some Neolithic U.S. states to run over leftists with your car. What’ll come next? Legalizing pushing people out of airplanes at 35,000 feet? Running over swimmers with boats? Unleashing your rabid dog on people whose political persuasions offend you? There are so many possibilities! It’s already legal for cops [...]

Does Big PhRma Know No Shame? Profiteering While People Die by the Hundreds of Thousands

The global COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, as the current human catastrophe in India reminds us, a nation of 1.3 billion people where just 2 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID and more than 400,000 new cases a day are being reported with some 3,000 deaths. Now enter Moderna, with its approved COVID-19 vaccine, pledging to supply the World Health Organization (WHO) with 34 million doses of its vaccine in the fourth quarter of 2021 at its “lowest tiered price.”

Would Anyone Care to Defend American Radicals?

I am told that a leading senior and radical American historian quipped last year that a second Trump administration might have given the American Left a chance to gather together – under armed guard “in Yankee Stadium.” A bit of excessively paranoid dark humor? Maybe. But maybe not entirely. Consider. As President of the United [...]

Palestine’s Moment of Reckoning: On Abbas’ Dangerous Decision to ‘Postpone’ Elections

The decision on April 30 by Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, to ‘postpone’ Palestinian elections, which would have been the first in 15 years, will deepen Palestinian division and could, potentially, signal the collapse of the Fatah Movement, at least in its current form. Unlike the last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, the big story, [...]

An Urgent Call for Action by Nobel Laureates

Our Planet, Our Future is the title of the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit. As a follow up to that summit, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently published Our Planet, Our Future: An Urgent Call for Action d/d April 29th 2021. The opening paragraph of the Noble Laureate declaration implicitly calls for immediate [...]

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My (Your) University is Still Racist and Equity Training Won’t Change That

When I began teaching almost 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan was president. Denouncing affirmative action and “welfare queens,” and endorsing “states’ rights” and Apartheid South Africa, Reagan described the America of Jim Crow as a golden age, the “shining city on a hill.” Racism increasingly appeared to be woven into the fabric of national and international politics with no way to unravel it.

The Fascinating Memoir of a “Citizen Pilgrim”: Q&A with Richard Falk

Richard Falk, the well-known international relations scholar, taught at Princeton University for four decades. Starting in 2002 he has taught Global and International Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Falk is also a chair for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. This lengthy interview is about his latest book, a memoir, Public Intellectual: The Life of a Citizen Pilgrim, that explores his [...]

How We Lost It All: Labor Unions and Taft-Hartley

It’s hard to know precisely what’s being asked of them, but opinion polls show that upwards of 50% of working people say they’d be interested in joining a labor union. That much seems to be true. Yet, only 10.8% of America’s workforce is unionized. Barely one in ten. Even acknowledging that some of those expressing [...]

Biden’s Big Steps on TRIPS: Getting the World Vaccinated

President Biden made a huge step yesterday when his trade representative, Katherine Tai, announced that the United States would be supporting a resolution at the World Trade Organization (WTO), to suspend intellectual property rules on vaccines for the duration of the pandemic. This resolution had been introduced by India and South Africa back in October. [...]

Tamál Húye: Coast Miwoks Fight for Recognition of Point Reyes’ Indigenous History

On April 22, the California Coastal Commission held a virtual hearing to discuss the impact of dairy and cattle ranching at Point Reyes National Seashore. Superintendent Craig Kenkel began his presentation with the words, “Point Reyes is the ancestral home of the Coast Miwok.” Kenkel spent the rest of his talk advocating for a Park [...]

Liberalism’s Last Legs?

By destroying traditional social habits of the people, by dissolving their natural collective consciousness into individual constituents, by licensing the opinions of the most foolish, by substituting instruction for education, by encouraging cleverness rather than wisdom, the upstart rather than the qualified, by fostering a notion of getting on to which the alternative is a [...]

The Global Spread of Fascism is as Real as the Spread of COVID-19

The global spread of fascism is real, as real as the spread of COVID-19, and you better believe it. For purposes of academic analysis, it might be legitimate to distinguish between a “fascist-leaning” movement and a truly fascist one, or a far-right regime and fascist regime, or an authoritarian populist and a fascist. But I [...]

Postal Service Reform: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. – Proverbs 19:18 We are starting to see changes come the way of the US Postal Service (USPS). There is a bill from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and a multitude of co-sponsors to eliminate the arbitrary requirement that [...]

Capitalism, Borders and the Damage They Do

Todd Miller writes about modern empire and borders. His works tell of a US border security apparatus that extends into other nations around the world and provides various immigration police agencies in the United States to operate anywhere they please inside US borders. His descriptions of the surveillance technology and its uses are simultaneously fascinating [...]

Castigating Its Competitors: Western Hypocrisy and China

The West’s political and media assault on China increases week by week. Human rights has become the primary means of criticism and justification for sanctioning China over its actions in Hong Kong and treatment of the Uighers. This info war is creating a divide – those pro-Western ‘values’ arguing China has to be brought to [...]

Challenging the Bias of the Refugee as “Other”: Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains

Refugee narratives contain the stories of those voices that rarely see the light of recognition or acceptance. The defining characteristic of a refugee is the perception thrown upon them by the nations of closed borders that they can only be seen as the “other.” The inescapable label many refugees face then reinforces the false stereotypes [...]

Chile’s Neoliberal Nightmare, New Constitution, and Daniel Jadue

Working and marginalized people in Chile can now see possibilities of relief from the political grief of decades.  A new constitution is in the works. And Daniel Jadue, author of an astonishingly progressive program as mayor of Rocoleta municipality, is a presidential candidate. The election is set for November 21, 2021. Chileans will vote on [...]

As India Gasps to Breathe, Modi Government Abdicates Responsibility

The COVID-19 pandemic continues its brutal march across India. Figures of new infections reached 355,828 on May 3—which accounted for more than 62 percent of the world’s new infections on that day. As hospitals run out of beds, ICU capacity, and even oxygen, these factors have been contributing to the already skyrocketing death toll in [...]

Palestinian Mothers are the Glue that Bonds Palestinian Society

My father, Jamil Halaby, passed away in Jerusalem, Palestine, in 1947.  Fifty years later and until her death on March 16, 1997, Katrina Halaby, my late mother, was never able to visit her husband’s grave to say the kaddish or lay flowers. And because of the turbulent 1948 political climate in Palestine, no tombstone was [...]

The Robot Was Born a Hundred Years Ago

“Robot!” was what the painter Josef Čapek, his mouth full of paint brushes, said to his brother Karel, the writer, when asked what name he could give to an artificial assistant of mankind in the play that Karel was completing. Karel didn’t have too many second thoughts. Robot: the word was just right for his [...]

COVID-19: Bosses Lie. Workers Suffer and Die.

In Yakima County in Washington state, where a mutant coronavirus is fueling a deadly fourth wave, Superior Court Judge Blaine Gibson has just relaxed COVID-19 protections for farmworkers. Key to Judge Gibson’s April 21 decision is disallowing access to farms by community workers. This decision was hailed by Vegetable Growers News, which claimed that “elected [...]

Ten Things to Understand about Latin America

The United States — the land and people — will be a lot better off when the idea of US supremacy is dropped. Toward that end, and toward the goal of a better world, here are ten things for the US to understand about Latin America. 1. Threat of a good example. That is the [...]

GDP versus Lasting Growth Rooted in Love

In what feels like a throwback to another era, banks and big business are once again talking about ‘growth’, and economic development. Both of which amount to the same thing to the men and women of money – profit. After over a year of utter turmoil, death, illness, heartache, social and economic lockdowns, some nations [...]

About That “Rules-Based International Order”

The Biden administration has taken to frequently asserting its intention to return — versus the Trump administration’s departure therefrom — to something called a “rules-based international order.” What is this supposed “order?” What obligations does it impose, and upon whom? Which governments meet those obligations. Which don’t? Google returns about 197,000 results on the phrase [...]

A Very British Case: Postmasters and Miscarriages of Justice

British justice is a splendidly odd animal.  Its miscarriage is one of those wonders of institutional repetition.  When textbooks are written on the subject, one will feature prominently.  On April 23 this year, the convictions of 39 former sub-postmasters were quashed by the criminal division of the Court of Appeal.  They had been accused, and [...]

Why Wildfires May Benefit Spotted Owls

A couple of years ago, I attended a meeting of the Deschutes Collaborative. Spotted Owls and wildfire was the topic that day. The meeting was a classic example of how collaboratives selectively use science to justify more logging of our forests. The two-hour meeting featured a biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and [...]

Cashing in on the Housing Crisis

Sheelah Kolhatkar’s article “Trailer-Park Trades: When corporations acquire mobile home communities, what happens to the residents?” in the 3/15/21 issue of The New Yorker explores how private equity companies have targeted the low-income residents of mobile home parks. The residents have a substantial investment in staying if they own the mobile home, but not the [...]

Infrastructure Wars

“There is no alternative”. – Margaret Thatcher (ad nauseum) “There is only a heart-shaped hole filled with cold indifference where India’s public heart should be.” – Arundhati Roy (April 2021)[1] There has been discussion lately[2] regarding definitions of the word “infrastructure”. Tons of money, supported by all its power relations, working to extend the practical [...]

Medical Apartheid: From Israel/Palestine to Canada

Independent Jewish Voice Canada has applauded Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem for declaring Israel an apartheid state in its treatment of Palestinians. However, neither organization included medical apartheid in its charges. Though their statements were widely reported worldwide, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) refuses to publish any information critical of Israel. Canada has a long history of [...]

Art and Outrage are Inseparable! Making Culture in the Ruins

What gave their (Kafka and Benjamin) criticism its bitter sharpness was not anti-Semitism as such…it was…the lying denial of the very existence of widespread anti-Semitism, of the isolation from reality staged with all the devices of self-deception by the Jewish bourgeoisie… – Hannah Arendt, Introduction to Illuminations: Walter Benjamin, Essays & Reflections Th[e] classical approach [...]

Why Biden Must Do More

Joe Biden came into office facing historic, overlapping crises: a pandemic, a recession, racial unrest, and flagging faith in democracy and government. He had two choices: Govern from a mythical middle and risking failing to structurally address any one of these overlapping crises, or step boldly into the moment and reassert a role for effective [...]

Mahmoud Abbas: a Puppet on a String

For the first time in fifteen years, the people of Palestine seemed to be on the verge of having the opportunity to select new leaders. This was to be a significant breakthrough for the people, long brutally oppressed by Israel. This opportunity has now been snatched from them by their president, the Palestinian traitor Mahmoud [...]

Hope for Critically Ill Covid-19 Patients Within Reach

There is new hope for severely ill patients with Covid-19. On March 30th, US company CytoDyn, released results from a randomized, double-blind study of a drug called leronlimab. The study revealed an unprecedented 82% reduction in the rate of death at Day 14 for patients on a ventilator who received 2 weekly doses of leronlimab [...]

Humanizing the People Police Kill

On the day Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, local law enforcement in my hometown killed my nephew’s father. His name was Jose Flores. When my local paper “reported” on Jose’s death, it was more a regurgitation of a police report than journalism. There were no interviews with Jose’s family, [...]

Feats of Klee

…an ordering of images a search for the hidden sense an illumination of visions in the mind – such is, to me, his art. – Antonin Artaud, “A Painter of the Mind,” (1923) The Swiss-born German artist Paul Klee created more masterpieces in the closing years of his life than most artists do in their [...]

Senators of the Lost Cause

This is what you shall do. . .stand up for the stupid and crazy… – Walt Whitman,  Preface to the first edition of Leaves of Grass  A number of readers wondered whether, following my recent piece on The Triplets in the House of Representatives, I was being unfair to the United States Senate, a body [...]

The Hamptons: Where Wealth and Poverty Clash

It’s tough being rich. For one thing, you have to be on constant alert to keep commoners from encroaching on your turf and upsetting your sense of proper social order. Consider the angst of the swells who summer in the Hamptons, an ultra-tony seaside enclave of New York City’s old-wealth families and Wall Street elites [...]

Lady Day and the Feds

The United States Vs. Billie Holiday is a powerful biopic streaming on Hulu now. Academy Award nominee Andra Day nails the times and troubles of the famous blues singer known as Lady Day, as she battles racial capitalism during the Jim Crow era. Lee Daniels, whose body of work includes Precious (2009), directs The United States Vs. Billie Holiday.  If you watched the former film, you [...]

Gone But Not Forgotten…by Pop

Unlike the days following Osama bin Laden’s death on May 2nd, 2011, the tenth anniversary of his killing passed without hoopla in the American Homeland. A decade on from death of America’s arch enemy, no jubilant drones danced in patriotic formation above the National Mall; there was no SEAL Team 6 reenactment at the freshly [...]

Philosophical Drinking Song

Philosophical Drinking Song Explications of Spinoza Go so well with a mimosa. Contemplations more Platonic Are enhanced by gin and tonic. Empiricism à la Hume Is best when Scotch is in the room. Manifestos about Dada Demand a cool piña colada. While perusing Zarathustra A swig of rum is sure to boost ya. C. Wright [...]