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Whose Nukes to Worry About?

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North Korea War Games

JAMES BRADLEY, james[at]jamesbradley.com
Bradley is author of several bestsellers including FlyboysFlags of Our Fathers and The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia.

He just wrote the piece “Whose Nukes to Worry About?” which is published at CounterPunch and states: “North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test on Friday, September 9. President Obama has condemned the action while the Pentagon called it a ‘serious provocation.’

“Ho-hum, here we go again.

“Every year America pays its vassal-state South Korea huge sums of U.S. taxpayer money to mount 300,000-man-strong military ‘games’ that threaten North Korea. North Koreans view images that never seem to make it to U.S. kitchen tables: hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. armaments swarming in from the sea, hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops — their turrets and rifles pointed north — and nuclear-capable U.S. warplanes screaming overhead.

“But when a young dictator straight out of central casting responds to U.S. threats with an underground test on North Korea’s founding day, it’s the #1 story on the front page of the New York Times.

“Let’s connect some dots. Washington and their note takers in the American press constantly tell us that crazies in Pyongyang and Tehran are nuclear threats. The misplaced, but easily sold, fears of the ‘North Korean missile threat’ and the ‘Iran missile threat’ allows the Pentagon to install ‘defensive’ missile systems in South Korea and the Ukraine which are actually offensive systems targeting Beijing and Moscow.

“We need to look beyond the simplistic, race-based cartoon-like scaremongering to see that far more reality-based and frightening is the nuclear threat posed by the United States.

“President Obama — the Nobel Prize winner who pledged to lead a nuclear-free world — has committed over $1 trillion dollars to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal. Almost unreported by the press, we have been spending a bundle to make nukes ‘usable,’ by miniaturizing them. And to top it off, Obama has approved a ‘first use’ option for the U.S.”

Why Prisoners Nationwide are Striking

CBS News reports in “Why Prisoners Nationwide are Striking” that: “Prisons can’t run without inmates, in more ways than one. Prisoners wash floors, work in the laundries and kitchens and provide a large amount of the labor that keeps their facilities running. In return, they earn pennies per hour or even no pay at all.”

NOELLE HANRAHAN, globalaudiopi[at]gmail.com
Hanrahan, P.I. is an investigative journalist, private investigator, and director of Prison Radio. She is the co-producer of the theatrically released feature documentary “Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu Jamal.”

She said today: “With 2.3 million people behind bars, mass incarceration has put the United States on the map as the world’s largest per capita incarcerator: the biggest jailor.

“One in 46 U.S. citizens will do time, and one in 99 are currently in prison. Racial bias plays heavily in the numbers as well. One in three African American men will spend time behind bars.

“Today all across America, in at least 24 states, prisoners have called for a work strike. It might not be obvious, but the fact is that prisons are actually run by prisoners. Prisoners do the vast majority of the work it takes to run the facilities. If they slow down or stop providing labor — the actual caging of humans would be impossible.

“Today prisoners all across the country will express their self determination with a historic show of ‘convict class solidarity’ in a nationwide coordinated work strike.

“In many cities, states, towns and parishes, thousands of prisoners are taking a stand, expressing their inherent human dignity by protesting modern-day slavery … extensive human rights violations, and illegal reprisals. The conditions in American prisons are cruel, indifferent and unconstitutional.

“The use of hunger strikes, workstoppages and prisoner actions has been growing — from Bensalem women’s ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention facilities outside of Philadelphia, to Wisconsin state prisons to Guantanamo Bay.

“In the wake of the massive hunger strikes [in 2013] with over 30,000 prisoners participating that shocked the California Department of Corrections, there have been dozens of additional hunger strikes.”

76 Percent Want Independents in Debates

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DAVID PALEOLOGOS, dpaleologos[at]suffolk.edu, @davidpaleologos
Paleologos is director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. He just wrote the USA Today piece “Voters Want Third-Party Candidates on Debate Stage,” about the results from the latest Suffolk University/USA Today national poll.

Paleologos notes a disappointment among voters, “76 percent of whom believe that third-party candidates like [Libertarian Gary] Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein should be able to share the stage with Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump this fall. …

“Nationally, there is a voter appetite this year for something not found in the major parties. This makes sense given that both Clinton and Trump have extraordinarily high unfavorable ratings (Trump 59 percent and Clinton 51 percent). Neither Clinton nor Trump are seen as trustworthy and honest, according to the poll, (Trump 61 percent untrustworthy and Clinton 59 percent untrustworthy). … [See by Susan Page, front page USA Today piece “Poll: Fear, Not Excitement, Driving Clinton and Trump Supporters.”]

“Because of this distaste for Clinton and Trump, the voting public is clamoring for serious third-party candidates to be part of the nationally televised debates. But as it stands, they won’t and therefore Stein and Johnson’s poll numbers will stay low or dissipate.”

“The lack of even adequate or equal press coverage already has hurt both Johnson and Stein. …”

Background: In the past, when some suggested having independent candidates in the debates, the Commission on Presidential Debates (a creation of the Democratic and Republican parties) dismissed asking the public who they want in the debates. Paul Kirk, the then-co-chair of the CPD (now co-chairman emeritus) and former head of the Democratic National Committee, said: “It’s a matter of entertainment vs. the serious question of who would you prefer to be president of the United States.” But the polls the Commission relies on for its 15 percent criteria don’t actually ask the “serious question of who would you prefer to be president of the United States” — they ask some variation of “if the election were held today, who would you vote for.”

Sam Husseini in “How Presidential ‘Non-Opinion’ Polls Drive Down Third Party Numbers and Facilitate Debate Exclusion” argues that this effectively drives down the numbers for independent candidates, since many may prefer Johnson or Stein, but feel compelled to be voting for either Trump or Clinton to stop the other. Husseini writes: “But public opinion polling should be a relief from that. Such polling should find out what the public thinks or wants — especially if the electoral system doesn’t allow for those choices. But that’s not what’s happening. The ‘tracking’ poll question that’s being used over and over and obsessed over by all these organizations is actually disguising public opinion. And then the CPD, acting on behalf of the two major parties, is using that to exclude third party candidates from the debates, further marginalizing any public thinking that questions the establishment parties.”

Also see No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates by George Farah.

Fracking and Earthquakes

Untitled design-5Shortly after the recent earthquake in Oklahoma, the U.S. Geological Survey released a statement: “Without studying the specifics of the wastewater injection and oil and gas production in this area, the USGS cannot currently conclude whether or not this particular earthquake was caused by industrial-related, human activities. However, we do know that many earthquakes in Oklahoma have been triggered by wastewater fluid injection. The USGS will continue to process seismic data in the following days and weeks that will help answer this question.”

WENONAH HAUTER, via Seth Gladstone, sgladstone[at]fwwatch.org, @foodandwater
Executive director of Food & Water Watch, Hauter said in a statement: “The 5.6 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Oklahoma and was felt throughout the Midwest on Saturday threatened countless homes and businesses, and put lives at risk. But it could have been prevented. This earthquake, like hundreds of others over the last few years, was the direct result of the underground disposal of fracking wastewater. There can’t be fracking without disposing of fracking waste, and there is no safe way to do so. This is just one of many reasons why fracking is inherently dangerous and must be banned.” Gladstone is deputy communications director for the group.

Sanders and “Our Revolution”?

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Steven Rosenfeld writes in AlterNet in “Why the New Sanders Group OurRevolution Is Leaving Many Bernie Backers Scratching Their Heads” that “The shape, direction, agenda and transparency of Our Revolution has become an issue in progressive circles. The most obvious reason is that for political change to occur the movement, as Sanders himself has said, has to be bigger than any candidate. With that principle in mind — that elections have to be subsets of social movements — the organizers of the Bernie Delegates Network, which has been keeping in touch with 1,250 of their 1,900 delegates at the Democratic Convention, sent out a petition Tuesday concerning the new group’s agenda, inclusiveness and candidate endorsements. The petition was posted on RootsAction.org, and received several thousand signatures in its first hours.”

KAREN BERNAL, nekochan99[at]hotmail.com, @karenbernal5
Bernal is former California Bernie Sanders delegation co-representative. She is among the signers of the RootsAction petition, which states that in “OurRevolution” events and material so far “one particular focus was notably absent: International relations and antiwar activism and policy, including such matters as intervention, bases abroad, drones, nuclear danger, disarmament, the military budget, adherence to international law, and more. We believe ‘OurRevolution’ should address these immense violations of human well being as well as their connections to all the other topics already addressed.”

The petition continues that the picture of the new organization that emerged from its August 24 live-streamed kickoff event “evoked concerns of having a typical corporate structure including a board and a chief executive but having no explicit membership rights, powers, or even responsibilities and little visible evidence of diversity, as well.”

The signers of the petition expressed concerned that “many will get the impression that only progressive Democratic Party candidates will get ‘OurRevolution’ support, not Greens, for example. We hope it will become more clear that ‘Our Revolution’ will support progressives of all kinds whose campaigns can usefully educate and especially elicit and organize support for social change, including trying to win office to advance that change.”

 

Does Trump’s Wall Already Exist?

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IMG_3348 (1)TODD MILLER toddmemomiller[at]gmail.com, @memomiller
Miller, author of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Homeland Security, just wrote the piece “No Need to Build The Donald’s Wall, It’s Built,” for TomDispatch.com.

He said today: “Last night Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump … said that he is going to build an ‘impenetrable, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall.’ He said that it will be equipped with the most sophisticated technology imaginable, sensors that can detect people both above and below, aerial surveillance, and an upsurge of agents. However, Trump is describing what already exists. There is already a wall. There is already sophisticate technology including aerial systems and surveillance towers. And there are already more than 21,000 Border Patrol agents, a five-fold increase since the early 1990s. Clearly, Trump would add to this if he won the presidency. However, he would be building on the most massive border enforcement regime that has already been created in the United States, by both political parties.”

Miller wrote: “Although wall construction began during Bill Clinton’s administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) built most of the approximately 700 miles of fencing after the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was passed. At the time, Senator Hillary Clinton voted in favor of that Republican-introduced bill, along with 26 other Democrats. ‘I voted numerous times when I was a senator to spend money to build a barrier to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in,’ she commented at one 2015 campaign event, ‘and I do think you have to control your borders. … If the comprehensive immigration reform that Hillary Clinton pledges to introduce as president is based on the already existing bipartisan Senate package, as has been indicated, then this corporate-enforcement landscape will be significantly bolstered and reinforced.”

Trump in Mexico, NAFTA Ironies

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LAURA CARLSEN, carlsenster[at]gmail.com,
@cipamericas
Carlsen is director of the Mexico-based Americas program of the Center for International Policy.

MANUEL PÉREZ-ROCH, manuel[at]ips-dc.org, @ManuelPerezIPS
Associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Pérez-Rocha wrote the articles “NAFTA Pushes Many Mexicans to Migrate” and “Free Trade Agreements Have Exacerbated a Humanitarian Crisis in Central America.” He also wrote the pieces “The Moral Case Against the TPP” and “When Corporations Sue Governments” for the New York Times.

He said today that Mexican President “Peña Nieto is opening the doors of Mexico to a xenophobe he once compared to Hitler. Trump has vilified Mexicans and continues promising a wall between our countries. By doing this Peña Nieto demonstrates how weak and temeros he is, and is legitimizing Trump’s twisted solutions that will only further aggravate problems.

“Ironically, it is Peña Nieto who will defend NAFTA, when ordinary Mexicans have been the biggest losers of this trade deal. It devastated the Mexican countryside, bankrupted thousands of small businesses, destroyed entire national industries and made Mexicans produce and consume food the American way (no wonder Mexico´s obesity rate has matched that of the U.S.). Ironically, it is Peña Nieto who will defend the status quo, in front of Trump who attacks NAFTA hypocritically and only for electoral purposes, because he is an outsourcer of jobs and an embodiment of free trade and unbridled corporate power himself. It is a meeting between two very perfidious characters.

“Both the U.S. and Mexican populations overwhelmingly want to rethink the NAFTA approach that has caused so much forced migration. It will be terrible to see how Peña Nieto and Trump may talk both about NAFTA and migration without even thinking of linking both. Like they are different issues. I would commend Trump, for once, if he says that NAFTA caused so much Mexican migration to the U.S. But I doubt he has the capacity to understand such cause and effect. He only attacks NAFTA as if only U.S. workers have lost. And by doing this he will only perpetrate the blindsided us-and-them strategy. We are the good, they are the bad, is his simplistic reasoning.”

Apple Avoiding Irish Taxes: Why is U.S. Gov. Doing Corporations’ Bidding?

JAMES HENRY, jamesshelburnehenry[at]mac.com,
@submergingmkt
Henry’s books include The Blood Bankers: Tales from the Global Underground Economy and The Pirate Bankers.

He said today: “The EU has just dealt a sharp blow to tax competition — especially more than a decade of very aggressive tax dodging by MNCs [multinational corporations] like Apple, Alcoa, Google, Facebook and Pfizer, which have been parking their intellectual property and their non-U.S. sales in First World-corporate tax havens like Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and paying themselves profits and royalties almost tax-free. For example, Apple has used Irish shell companies that are essentially ‘citizens of nowhere’ for tax purposes to pay less than 4 percent taxes on more than $200 billion derived from its offshore activities. This kind of gouging, while strictly speaking, ‘legal,’ is utterly unprincipled, at a time when most ordinary U.S. taxpayers — including small business as individual taxpayers — are still struggling and the U.S. government is facing a huge debt burden as far as the eye can see.

“Yet the Obama administration has chosen to respond to this bold European step toward tax justice by denouncing it, and even threatening to launch a kind of ‘tax war’ in response. Why? It is just politics — like most other mainstream political parties around the world, both leading U.S. parties simply lack the courage to stand up to the MNC corporate tax lobby in an election year.”

The New York Times reports “Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, called it a ‘cheap money grab’ by the European Commission, ‘targeting U.S. businesses and the U.S. tax base.'” Henry tweeted in response that Schumer “smells an [opportunity] for a cheap donation grab.”

Henry is a senior advisor to the Tax Justice Network, a global justice fellow at Yale, a senior fellow at the Columbia University Center for Sustainable investment and former chief economist of McKinsey and Company.

Colin Kaepernick and Racism of The Star-Spangled Banner

The group RootsAction.org has started a petition: “Tell Colin Kaepernick you support his brave stance for racial justice.” The group states that it was signed by 7,500 “the first eight hours after it was launched on Monday afternoon.”

GERALD HORNE, GHorne[at]uh.edu
Horne is Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. His books include Negro Comrades of the Crown: African Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation.

Horne commented in a segment for The Real News just last month: “Look at the third stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner, which is sung routinely, as you know, at sporting events, at every major, perhaps even minor, event at this country. The third stanza, the lyrics, devised by Francis Scott Key of Maryland — who, by the way, was a slaveowner, and by the way, in 1835 helped to incite a pogrom against people of African descent, particularly slaves, in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area — in the third stanza, he denounces the black population of the United States.”

The third stanza reads:
No refuge could save the hireling and slave 
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Added Horne: “And one of the reasons he denounces them is because the Star-Spangled Banner comes out of the War of 1812, when there was this conflict between Britain, the former colonial power, and the United States of America, which had seceded from the British Empire in 1776. Voila, the July 4holiday. And the African population, by several orders of magnitude, not only fought against the secession in 1776, but they aligned with London. And when the redcoats invaded, particularly the Washington, D.C.-Maryland area in August 1814, and they set Washington, D.C. afire, set the White House afire, sent President James Madison and his garrulous spouse Dolly fleeing into the streets. …

“And the Star-Spangled Banner speaks specifically and particularly to that, reprimanding, reproving, and denouncing black people for not standing alongside the star-spangled banner, but instead aligning, as the black population tended to do, with the real and imagined enemies of the United States of America.”

See Jon Schwarz at The Intercept: “Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery.” Also see from Jason Johnson at The Root: “Star-Spangled Bigotry: The Hidden Racist History of the National Anthem.”

Brazilian President Testifying at Impeachment

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Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is scheduled to testify at her impeachment trial Monday. A vote on impeachment in the Senate is expected this week.

MARIA LUISA MENDONCA, [Currently in the U.S.] marialuisam222[at]gmail.com
Mendonça is director of Brazil’s Network for Social Justice and Human Rights. She is also a professor in the International Relations department at the University of Rio de Janeiro and the editor of the book Human Rights in Brazil. She was recently featured on a Institute for Public Accuracy news release, saying: “It is widely expected that, within a few days, senators will vote to definitively remove [Rousseff] from office. The impeachment — labeled a coup by many Brazilians — has generated outrage and frequent protests in Brazil, including during the Olympic Games in Rio.”

JAMES N. GREEN, [in NYC] James_Green[at]brown.edu
Green is professor of Brazilian History and Culture at Brown University. He said today: “Impartial observers generally recognize that the charges against her are more political than fiscal in nature. Numerous governors, whose parties are supporting the impeachment, have organized their own states’ public finances in similar ways over the last two decades.

“Tape recordings leaked earlier in the year reveal that many who favor the removal of President Rousseff are doing so because she refused to block federal investigations against widespread corruption among politicians, including many from her own coalition government.

“Michel Temer, her replacement and her vice-presidential running mate from the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement, has already reversed all of the policies from their joint electoral platform, turning his back on the 54 million voters who elected Rousseff to a second term in 2014.

“President Rousseff, who underwent torture in 1970 at the hands of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, will leave office with her head held high. Although she now readily admits that she made many errors as president, no serious corruption charges have been leveled against her.

“On the other hand, the former Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, the President of the Senate, the Interim President, and Rousseff’s main opponent in the 2014 presidential election are all fending off corruption allegations.

“Based on policies implemented by Temer in the four months since he assumed the interim presidency, it seems that the new government will swerve sharply to the right, cut many of the social programs that were trademarks of the Lula-Rousseff governments, and do everything possible to prevent former President Lula from running for the office of chief executive in 2018. At the same time, it is expected that Temer will try to put a stop to corruption investigations against the members of his new center-right government coalition.”

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