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Trump and Republicans Propose Abolishing the Estate Tax

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JOSH HOXIE, josh at ips-dc.org@JoshHoxie

Co-editor of Inequality.org, Hoxie said today: “Part of the Trump tax proposal is abolishing the estate tax, only paid by households with wealth over $11 million and individuals over $5.5 million. Trump claims that estate tax repeal will help farmers and small businesses. Estate tax repeal will worsen inequality and cost over $260 billion over the next decade.”

Hoxie just wrote the piece “Trump Tax Plan Would Widen Racial Wealth Divide,” in the Las Vegas Sun, which states: “Perhaps more insidious is Trump’s plan to eliminate the federal estate tax, also known as the inheritance tax. This levy applies exclusively to the wealthiest 0.2 percent of households and is intended to curtail the growing concentration of wealth in families like, say, the Trumps.”

CHE-CHING HUANG, huang at cbpp.org@dashching

Huang is with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and co-wrote “Ten Facts You Should Know About the Estate Tax,” which states: “It is appropriate that people who have prospered the most in this society help to preserve it for future generations through tax revenues that derive from their estates.”
chuck at ips-dc.org, @Chuck99to1
Collins is co-author with Bill Gates Sr. of Wealth and Our Commonwealth: The Case for Defending the Estate Tax. He’s a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a co-editor of Inequality.org.

He recently wrote “Limos, Not Tractors: Republicans are Using Farmers To Justify Estate Tax Repeal” in U.S. News & World Report, which states: “Republicans have offered a strange populist fig leaf to justify repealing the estate tax: images of America’s farmers and ranchers.”

Collins also recently wrote “Indiana Farmer Complaining about Estate Taxes with Trump Cashed $3.3 Million in Farmer Subsidy Checks.”

Behind Spanish Gov’t Attempts to Halt Catalonia’s Independence Vote

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SEBASTIAAN FABER, [in D.C. Fri.] Sebastiaan.Faber at oberlin.edu, @sebasfaber
BÉCQUER SEGUÍN, becquer at jhu.edu, @bcqer
Faber is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Oberlin College and author of the forthcoming Memory Battles and the Spanish Civil War. Seguín is an assistant professor of Iberian studies at Johns Hopkins University. They just wrote the piece for The Nation: “Have Spain and Catalonia Reached a Point of No Return?” which states: “While the repressive measures taken so far have certainly made a region-wide vote more difficult, the Catalans refuse to give up. In a nationally televised interview aired on Sept. 24, Catalan President Puigdemont vowed to go ahead with the referendum [this Sunday]. Meanwhile, the arrests of Sept. 20 have prompted massive, ongoing demonstrations in Barcelona and elsewhere.”

SIMONA LEVI, [in Barcelona] simona at xnet-x.net, @x_net_
Levi is a theater director, activist and co-founder of the Spanish digital democracy group Xnet and of 15MpaRato, a citizens’ device to bring to court those responsible for the economic crisis in Spain.

She recently wrote the piece “We just want to stop pleading,” which states: “It’s truly unsustainable that there’s no way of having a referendum in Spain. I’m not just referring to this one. I mean any referendum. The law decrees that it’s the government that decides whether there can be a referendum or not. And, naturally, the government of Spain always says no. If this isn’t so, go and tell the PAH (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages), which collected one and a half million signatures in a popular legislative initiative (ILP) to change Spain’s foreclosure law and, though an ILP only needs 500,000 signatures in order to be put before parliament, the government refused to discuss the issue. …

“So what Catalonia is asking for is not just for Catalonia. It’s because the centralism of the powers-that-be in Madrid, and of all the parties that egg them on with the chumminess of parliamentary rituals, ignores the peoples of Spain, using them merely as raw material to extract what they can, regarding them as colonies and even, as we have seen lately with certain questions of security, as cannon fodder (note: the government excluded the Catalan police from Europol and the Catalan police are not receiving all the information about jihadi terrorists in Catalonian territory). Once more all this is about covering up their own privileges, abuse, and corruption, or simply protecting the patronage networks of each and every party.”

THOMAS HARRINGTON, [going to Spain Thurs.] thomas.harrington at trincoll.edu
Harrington is professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. and author of Public Intellectuals and Nation Building in the Iberian Peninsula, 1900–1925: The Alchemy of Identity.

In a recent piece, he writes: “That people in Scotland addressed the matter of their possible independence this way with the full acceptance of the UK government in 2014 does not move [Spanish Prime Minister Mariano] Rajoy …

“For most of the years since the ratification of the Spanish post-Franco Constitution in 1978, the matter of independence was a non-starter for a broad swath of the Catalan political establishment.

“What changed things?

“What changed things was the election of José María Aznar, the son of an important propagandist for the Francoist regime, as prime minister in 1996 with a clear — albeit at first skillfully camouflaged — program to roll back the regime of timid decentralization that grew out of the aforementioned post-Franco Constitution.”

“Theocrat” Roy Moore May Be the Next U.S. Senator from Alabama

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FREDERICK CLARKSON, frederick.clarkson at gmail.com, @FredClarkson
Clarkson is senior fellow at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts.
He said today: “Roy Moore is the most openly theocratic politician in national life — and he has a good chance of being the next U.S. Senator from Alabama.

“The special election to fill the remainder of the term of Jeff Sessions, who was appointed as U.S. Attorney General by president Trump, will be held on Dec. 12. Moore is heavily favored to prevail over Democrat and former federal prosecutor Doug Jones.

“Moore favors criminalizing abortion and homosexuality. He does not respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, and the federal courts to enforce civil rights laws. His views hark back to the time of massive resistance to civil rights for African Americans, when opponents invoked the notions of nullification and interposition — which basically meant that states could ignore federal actions; including court orders they believed were inconsistent with the Constitution.

“Like the nullificationists of the last century, Moore does not view the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal courts as binding on the states. Particularly if they conflict with his idiosyncratic view of what God requires.

“Roy Moore epitomizes the contemporary politics of theocratic Christian dominionism in his attacks on separation of church and state and religious freedom.

“Moore was twice elected on a statewide ballot as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He has also been removed from office each time because he violated orders from a federal judge. The first time, he had installed a two-and-a-half-ton monument to the Ten Commandments in the foyer of the state courthouse. A federal judge ruled that this was an unambiguous violation of separation of church and state and ordered it removed. Moore refused. The second time, he sought to undermine a federal court order to state officials to honor the Supreme Court’s 2015 stand for marriage equality in the case of Obergefell v Hodges. Moore sought to direct state probate judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses, claiming that existing state bans on same sex marriage were still in force.”

Clarkson is author of the 2016 report “When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Christian Right.” He also wrote the book Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.

Killer Drone Protesters Arrested

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Just Security just published the piece: “How Obama’s Drones Rulebook Enabled Trump.” Last week, the New York Times reported: “Trump Poised to Drop Some Limits on Drone Strikes and Commando Raids.”

Syracuse.com reports that: “Seven drone protesters were arrested Monday morning at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in DeWitt.

“The Upstate Drone Action protesters blocked the entrance to the base with several large signs and banners, and refused to remove them.

“‘Officers from the base came out and told us to leave, and when we didn’t, we were arrested,’ Upstate Drone Action founding member Ed Kinane said. ‘We’re trying to make a statement about the war crimes being committed at the air base with drones that kill human beings.’ …

“Those charged were: Ann Tiffany, of Syracuse; Dan Burgevin, of Trumansburg; Kinane, of Syracuse; Harry Murray, of Rochester; Julienne Oldfield, of Syracuse; Mark Scibilia-Carver, of Trumansburg; and Rae Kramer, of Syracuse.

“The protesters said they placed a ‘huge dollar sign dripping with blood in the main entrance way to the base.

“‘The six-foot high dollar signs dramatize what the group believes determines the many overseas wars the Pentagon/CIA engages in: Corporate greed,’ Upstate Drone Action said in a news release announcing the arrests.

“In 2010, the Hancock base became the site of the 174th Attack Wing of the National Guard’s MQ-9 Reaper drone operations and the first to have an MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft squadron. The drones have missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

The following are among the activists available for interviews:

ED KINANE, edkinane340 at gmail.com
JUDY BELLO, judith at papillonweb.net, @elladabella13

See the news release from Upstate Drone Action. Julienne Oldfield said: “The Hancock Reaper terrorizes whole communities, generating desperate refugees.” Mark Scibilia-Carver adds that “U.S. taxpayers fund this terrorism keeping the pot boiling and creating enormous ill will toward the United States — instead of funding health, education and infrastructure here.” Video of protest is on YouTube.

See by Norman Solomon from earlier this year: “Killer Drones in the Empire State.”

See pieces on Truthout by Kinane, including “Weaponized Drones And The Phony ‘War On Terror.'”

Hollywood Joins the “Plot to Scapegoat Russia”

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DAN KOVALIK, DKovalik at usw.org, @danielmkovalik
Kovalik is author of the recently-released book The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia. He teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

He said today: “Quite strangely, the beloved actor, Morgan Freeman, in a two-minute video produced by Rob Reiner and his self-described ‘Committee to Investigate Russia’ (note that it is not a committee to investigate Trump), declared war on Russia. Freeman states that ‘We have been attacked,’ and that ‘We are at war’ with Russia. He then goes on to tell the tale of ‘a former KGB spy [Vladimir Putin, of course], angry at the collapse of his mother land, [who] plots a course of revenge … against his sworn enemy: the United States.’

“In an interesting, and indeed tragic, twist of fate, the very types of Hollywood liberals who were once the victims of McCarthyism, are now the promoters of a new witch hunt and a new Cold War against Russia. This would be comical, if it were not so dangerous.

“This incredible piece of jingoistic propaganda, which could have easily been made in the 1950s, is based upon the very untruths which formed the basis of the first Cold War – that the U.S. is a unique force for good in the world, and has been so, we are told by Morgan Freeman, for 241 years; and that Russia under Putin is a unique force for evil which must be eliminated at the roots.

“Of course, none of these propositions are true. This is part of the mythology of American Exceptionalism, that the U.S. is somehow a beacon of democracy and freedom in the world. Far from it. It is the U.S. which has been busy toppling democracies and interfering in other nations’ political systems, many times partnering with right-wing forces to do so. And, this is not ancient history. Thus, just to name a few, Bill Clinton and his campaign team were critical in helping the drunkard Boris Yeltsin win (or, more accurately, steal) the 1996 elections in Russia. For her part, Hillary Clinton was critical, by her own admission, in solidifying the brutal Honduran coup in 2009; and then in leading the charge to topple Libya’s government in 2011, thereby leading to the chaos that now reigns in that country.

“Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin, far from plotting revenge on the U.S., was the first world leader to offer condolences and help to the U.S. after 9/11, and then gave such help to the U.S. in its operations in Afghanistan shortly thereafter. Putin also helped Obama negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, helped rid Syria of its chemical weapons and recently hosted leaders from both North and South Korea to try to prevent a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.

“Putin is hardly the menace portrayed in the Western press, and Russia is no threat to the United States. There’s anti-Russian hysteria which appears to be gripping the U.S. and which continues to be stoked on a nearly daily basis, including by Freeman, Reiner and their right-wing friends on the anti-Russia Committee, James Clapper, Max Boot and Norman Ornstein.

“We need a more sober and even-handed look at, and approach to, Russia and Putin, so we can indeed avert the next major war which some have foolishly already declared.”

Vietnam War and “The Killing of History”

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JOHN PILGER, [in London] jpilger2003 at yahoo.co.uk, @johnpilger
Available for a limited number of interviews, Pilger is an Australian-British journalist based in London. He covered the Vietnam War for a decade. His latest film is “The Coming War on China.” He recently wrote the piece “The Killing of History,” which states: “One of the most hyped ‘events’ of American television, ‘The Vietnam War,’ has started on the PBS network. … I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war ‘was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings.’

“The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of ‘false flags’ that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record — the Gulf of Tonkin ‘incident’ in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971. …

“I thought about the ‘decency’ and ‘good faith’ when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off Napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as ‘termites.’ …

“The ‘meaning’ of the Vietnam War is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the leveling of every city in North Korea. …

“Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on Sept. 19 — a body established to spare humanity the ‘scourge of war’ — he declared he was ‘ready, willing and able’ to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea and its 25 million people. …

“His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to ‘totally obliterate’ Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now. …

“Returning to the U.S., I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition — on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the ‘mainstream’ has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground.

“What is known in the U.S. as ‘the left’ has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to prevent a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.”

Harvard Faced with Petition and News Conference Protesting Chelsea Manning’s Disinvitation

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A petition organized by the group RootsAction.org with more than 15,000 signers is scheduled to be presented to the Harvard Kennedy School on Friday, a week after the university revoked its invitation to U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow.

VICTOR WALLIS, zendive at aol.com

Wallis, a member of the Harvard College class of 1959, will be among several Harvard graduates who will be presenting the petition in Cambridge at the office of the Kennedy School’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf.
Wallis said today: “Harvard’s motto is Veritas — Truth. Chelsea Manning’s revelations gave evidence of war crimes that the U.S. ruling class committed in furtherance of its imperial agenda — a truth that its operatives naturally find embarrassing. … We should honor those who help us understand the atrocities rather than those who perpetrate or rationalize them.”

“Respecting the decisions of the Kennedy School administrators who annually choose these Fellows would show collegiality, avoid the negative publicity of rescinded invitations, and also support freedom of speech,” noted Margaret Morganroth Gullette, Radcliffe ’62, Harvard Ph.D. ’75, Bunting Institute Fellowship, ’87, who worked in Harvard administration for many years.

The presenters of the petition will hold a news conference outside the Kennedy School, at 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, on Friday, September 22, at 11 a.m.

The Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics cancelled the invitation to Manning after intense pressure from top CIA officials. The cancellation came shortly after the acting director of the Institute, Bill Delahunt, had publicly declared: “We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media.”

The RootsAction petition being presented on Friday says: “By revoking Chelsea Manning’s fellowship, you have disgraced the Harvard Kennedy School. By caving in to pressure from present and former top officials of the CIA, you have jettisoned academic freedom. By deciding that it is appropriate for Sean Spicer but not Chelsea Manning to retain a fellowship, you have failed to fulfill Harvard’s responsibility to be independent of government power and coercion. During his stint at the Trump White House, Mr. Spicer earned a reputation for lying. As a whistleblower, Ms. Manning earned a reputation for truth-telling. It is a sad day when a record of facile mendacity is more revered at Harvard than a record of revealing difficult truths.”

More Than 40 Nations Sign Nuclear Ban Treaty in First Hour

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Reuters reports today: “Dozens of countries signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons on Wednesday amid tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, although the United States, Britain, France and others boycotted the event at the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders.

“The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons will enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified it. …

“‘There remain some fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in existence. We cannot allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children’s future,’ U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said as he opened the treaty for signing.

“Earlier this month North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear weapons test. U.S. President Donald Trump told the 193-member U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday that if threatened, the United States would ‘totally destroy’ the country of 26 million people and mocked its leader, Kim Jong Un, as a ‘rocket man.’

“The treaty was adopted in July by two-thirds of the 193 U.N. member states after months of talks, which the United States, Britain, France and others skipped.”

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons states: “Forty-five nations have now signed the UN #nuclearban. Three of these nations have also ratified it.”

Meanwhile, NPR reports “Stanislav Petrov, ‘The Man Who Saved The World,’ Dies At 77.” “In 1983, he was on duty when the Soviet Union’s early warning satellite indicated the U.S. had fired nuclear weapons at his country. He suspected, correctly, it was a false alarm.”

The following analysts are among the speakers at the No War 2017 conference in Washington, D.C. which begins Friday and will be live streamed.

SUSI SNYDER, snyder at paxforpeace.nl, @susisnyder
Snyder is nuclear disarmament program manager at the group Pax in the Netherlands and just wrote the piece “42 countries sign the nuclear ban treaty.” She said today: “Forty-two states signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the first hour after it opened for signature. This demonstrates the overwhelming urge of the international community to outlaw and eliminate all nuclear weapons without delay.”

She said today of Petrov: “I think that is one of the best descriptions written about him: ‘Few people know of him… Yet hundreds of millions of people are alive because of him. The actions of Stanislav Petrov, a retired Soviet military officer, prevented the start of a worldwide nuclear war and the devastation of much of the Earth.” See trailer for documentary, “The Man Who Saved the World” with Kevin Costner.

ALICE SLATER, alicejslater at gmail.com
Slater is the New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War. In July, she wrote the piece “Democracy Breaks Out at the UN as 122 Nations Vote to Ban the Bomb” for The Nation.

U.S.-Trained Warlords Committing Atrocities in Afghanistan

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This morning, President Donald Trump gave a speech at the United Nations proclaiming his commitment to peace and sovereignty.

MAY JEONG, may.s.jeong at gmail.com, @mayjeong

Jeong wrote the piece “The U.S.-Trained Warlords Committing Atrocities in Afghanistan” — just published today by In These Times magazine.

She is a magazine writer based in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is also a Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good and a visiting scholar at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

The magazine reports: “Drawing on two years of on-the-ground investigation in Afghanistan, Jeong reports on an Afghan village that alleges dozens of civilian murders at the order of a single U.S.-trained strongman — Abdul Hakim-Shujayi.”

Key findings include:

“Eyewitness accounts describe the American military protecting Shujayi from arrest by Afghan officials.

“Seven of the murders allegedly occurred within earshot of U.S. advisors.

“The U.S. military admits Shujayi was on its payroll, but says it has no records beyond that to confirm or deny these charges.

“Reports from human rights groups and witness testimony collected by Jeong show that these atrocities are not a one-off occurrence; rather, they are typical of the results of the U.S. approach in Afghanistan — training local militias to execute the war with impunity.

“This hands-off approach to warmaking in Afghanistan was started under the presidency of George W. Bush and continued under Obama. Now, President Trump is using the same buzzwords of ‘an Afghan-led’ conflict, and recently called for funds to escalate the war.

“As Afghan civilians face the deadly consequences of this U.S. military tactic, the American public has remained largely in the dark. This new investigation by Jeong finally shines light on the decade-old scandal.”

Jeong writes: “In 2010, at the behest of the United States, Afghan President Hamid Karzai forced the militias to reorganize themselves under a more respectable-sounding name: the Afghan Local Police (ALP).

“The name is misleading. The ALP, or arbeki as it is called in Afghanistan, is neither a local nor a traditional police force. … Trained and supervised by U.S. Special Operations Forces in conjunction with the Afghan government, and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Afghan interior ministry, the ALP operates independently of the national, more structured, police force and army.”

Does Burns-Novick PBS Vietnam Doc Let U.S. Government Off Hook?

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Jeff Stein of Newsweek writes in “Ken Burns’ New PBS Doc Wades Into Vietnam’s Big Muddy” a review of the latest from “Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, directors of The Vietnam War, a much-heralded 10-part, 18-hour epic series that debuted Sunday night [yesterday] on PBS.”

ROBERT BUZZANCO, Buzzanco at yahoo.com, @bobbuzzanco
Buzzanco is professor of history at the University of Houston. He has written extensively about the Vietnam War, including the books Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era, and Vietnam and the Transformation of American Life. He also co-edited A Companion to the Vietnam War with Marilyn B. Young.

He said today: “Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, America’s best known documentarians, are back with an 18-hour examination of the Vietnam War. Liberals and establishment media are praising it, with George Will calling it a ‘masterpiece’ and corporations like Bank of America as well as the Pentagon are promoting it. Burns and Novick promote an equivalency about Vietnam — both sides wanted war, both sides caused destruction, both sides are to blame.

“Vietnam was a war of aggression caused by the United States. It created a ‘country’ below the 17th parallel, sent billions of dollars and weapons and hundreds of thousands of troops there, dropped over 6 million tons of bombs on an area the size of New Mexico, and led to the deaths of 2-3 million Vietnamese. Trying to rehabilitate the war with a false equivalency does a historical disservice and lets the U.S. government off the hook politically for what amounted to a huge war crime. As the U.S. government considers further military involvement in the Middle East and Korea, it is essential to understand the truth behind the war in Vietnam.”

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