Dissident Voice http://www.uueaaf.icu a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice Sat, 14 Nov 2020 22:12:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 Taking Stock: The View of One Amateur Pundit from a Very, Very Deep Hole http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/taking-stock-the-view-of-one-amateur-pundit-from-a-very-very-deep-hole/ Sat, 14 Nov 2020 22:12:09 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110882 I am not a pundit, or at least not a legitimized one.? I have never been a guest on any major TV network, as a pundit or as anything else.? I have never taken a poll or been paid to make any predictions.? But for two presidential elections in a row, the punditry was generally […]

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I am not a pundit, or at least not a legitimized one.? I have never been a guest on any major TV network, as a pundit or as anything else.? I have never taken a poll or been paid to make any predictions.? But for two presidential elections in a row, the punditry was generally way off on their predictions, and I was pretty close to the mark.? And yes, I also made my predictions in a public form — Twitter — prior to the elections, so there would be a record of them.

I am not trying to gloat here, but it seems worth setting the stage a little, before I share a little perspective.? In 2016, as the polls and many other people were predicting that Trump would lose badly to anyone the Democrats put forward, because so many people would want to repudiate his blatant racism, xenophobia and obviously corrupt nature, I made the call that he’d win.? Not exactly an accurate call, since he did lose the popular vote by 3 million, but he did win the electoral college, and thus, the office.?In 2020 my prediction was that he’d again lose the popular vote, by a bigger margin than in 2016, but not by a landslide, and that he’d ultimately win the electoral college again.?My prediction of the margin of Trump’s loss of the popular vote was accurate, but we don’t know yet about the outcome of the election. I also predicted in 2020 that Sanders-backed candidates would do well.?This prediction was also borne out, and, as I expected, there was no “blue wave” of Democratic Party victories, aside from the explicitly socialist-leaning candidates.

There are reasons why I was mostly right in my predictions, both times, and the pollsters were mostly wrong, both times.?It is not random, and I am not lucky.?I have a superior analysis to the pollsters, evidently.?I made my judgment calls based on a combination of factors — massive consumption of a wide variety of news sources from throughout the US and the world, across the political spectrum is one of my sources.?Other sources include closely following the political trajectories of people who comment on my YouTube videos, and actively walking the streets in every neighborhood in the city of Portland, Oregon and the surrounding suburbs, postering.? In 2016, I traveled extensively throughout the US as a touring performer, another important way to take the pulse of a country.? In 2020, as a pandemic-inspired broadcaster, I’ve conducted over a hundred interviews, mostly with people in different parts of the US, about what’s going on here.? And altogether, these sources proved to be more accurate than those that most of the pundits have relied on, in both 2016 and 2020.

Now that I’ve hopefully established my credentials as a (non)pundit, despite my chronic lack of exposure on network TV, I’m going to intentionally skip over any further explanation of methodology.?That is just to say, my predictions do take into account the fact that Republican skullduggery has ensured that millions of US citizens have been deprived of their voting rights in the past ten years or so.?They do take into account, as well, that Bloomberg’s billions didn’t seem to help the DNC candidates much at all in buying their way back into the Congress.? But these are only two of innumerable factors that went into the results of this election, or these many elections, since we’re talking about lots of local electoral struggles that played into the whole picture as well.

Lots of other pundits are currently berating themselves once again and very publicly agonizing over where they went wrong, and what is really going on with the voters, what they want, where each party is heading politically, demographically, etc.?Most of these pundits will come to the wrong conclusions and go on to make all the wrong predictions again.? There’s a whole lot that I and others are saying, and can say, about why the following conclusion is an accurate one, and how I reached it — how so many of us reached it, long, long ago:

If you really look at the results of these elections with a clear eye, and you understand how I make my political predictions, and why they are more or less accurate, you will conclude that what the people want is socialism.?If they can’t get something that feels like real socialism, they’ll settle for fake socialism, also known as National Socialism, also known as fascism.? What they hate the most is the capitalist elite.? So many people are so desperate and feel so legitimately so abandoned by the Democratic Party and any connection it used to have to the working class, that they would rather vote for anyone who appears to be critical of the establishment, regardless of how vile that person may be in every other possible way.

There is no question in my mind that all else being equal, if the DNC had not sabotaged his campaigns, Bernie Sanders would have won in 2016 and in 2020 by a landslide.?Of course, all else is not equal, and if it weren’t the DNC sabotaging him, it would have been the media, or any number of other elements of the established elites.

So what we end up with, if we are lucky here, is literally that which brought us Donald Trump.? What we end up with is the man who ran on the achievements of the presidency for which he served as Vice President, during which time the stock market boomed, and my rent doubled, as did the cost of living for a hundred million other Americans.?That’s the time period he keeps bragging about.?That’s what he’s promising.?If we don’t get Trump again, that’s what we get — the neoliberal, empire-loving, $700-billion-a-year-isn’t-a-big-enough-military-budget, God Bless Our Troops, “my family is slightly less nepotistic than his” Joe Biden.

What can only follow is catastrophe.?Nothing good can come out of this, at least not without a popular movement coming out of the grassroots of this society that makes the past few months of rebellion in the streets look like a house concert.?But if you have any expectations of the so-called political leadership from either party doing anything useful without such pressure, you have your head in the sand.

For those of you here in Portland or elsewhere in Oregon, I’ll just state my agreement with what so many local radicals I follow on Twitter have been saying for the past few days:

Most of the good initiatives that were on the ballot won.?This is because people had a chance to read the description of what they were about, which made sense to them, so they voted for them.? Thus, we have now more or less decriminalized hard drugs, set into motion free public daycare for all, as well as the framework for a police oversight body with the power to fire cops.? Unfortunately, while voters can read about the initiatives and vote according to their consciences after doing so, it’s much harder for the average voter to differentiate between two candidates who are both Democrats and both posture as really cool progressives on every possible issue.?It takes a lot of research work to find out who these people are, if you’re not already a local news junky, or even if you are.?The mayor, Ted Wheeler, got a lot of national media attention.? In the liberal press he was generally praised as a fellow liberal who was standing up to the feds, and also who banned tear gas.?The truth, that he was and is a wealthy friend of the landlord lobby and a supporter of the city’s massive police budget, was never mentioned in the national press.?If people read the Portland Mercury or other local publications, they might have known better, but Wheeler squeaked in with a victory over his far more progressive main challenger, and the same kind of thing happened in the City Council race for Chloe Eudaly’s seat, now lost to a candidate preferred by the police union and the landlord lobby.? A little knowledge can be a terrible thing, and here we are.

What comes next in this complex social and political and economic saga in this country we call the United States??I don’t have a clue. I only made my election predictions the day before the elections.?What’s going to happen next week or next month would seem like a real fool’s errand to try to predict.?All I know, based on my analysis of the history of this country, is that any positive change that might come will come out of movements that take to the streets and shut down business as usual, until broad demands for transformative changes are clearly and transparently and completely met.

What I can say beyond any shadow of any doubt, what I know to my bones, what every analysis of history and society that I can make tells me, is that now is not a time for moderation.?Now is a time for demanding the impossible, and then some.

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The Future is in Our Hands http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/the-future-is-in-our-hands/ Sat, 14 Nov 2020 20:22:28 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110879 The election is now over and Joe Biden is the President-elect. What is likely to happen after Biden is inaugurated? The incoming Biden administration will face numerous huge problems left behind by the Trump administration. It is likely that Covid-19 will still be a major concern here and in many other nations around the world. […]

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The election is now over and Joe Biden is the President-elect. What is likely to happen after Biden is inaugurated? The incoming Biden administration will face numerous huge problems left behind by the Trump administration. It is likely that Covid-19 will still be a major concern here and in many other nations around the world. President Biden will also have to deal with high levels of unemployment, of homelessness, of hunger, of people under-insured or without health insurance, of income and wealth inequality as well as an angry and divided people. In addition, the Biden administration will have to deal with the appalling systemic discrimination against minorities, women and the poor.

The Trump administration also took steps that will likely increase the severity of the climate catastrophe scientists have been warning about for decades. We are already seeing devastation caused by the rapidly changing climate and the risk of ever greater devastation continues to grow. This situation requires an urgent worldwide campaign larger than anything humans have ever done. To achieve this necessary international cooperation also requires a huge change in the criminal and barbaric US militaristic and sanctions-based foreign policy. The US must rely on diplomacy and, among other things, respect the sovereignty of other nations. This change will thus allow a huge reduction in the corporate welfare given to the military-industrial complex.

However, if we accept politics as usual under the Biden presidency, that is, politics directed and controlled by Wall Street and large corporate interests, the human rights of a large portion of the US population will continue to be ignored. When government fails to address the needs of its people, its legitimacy can be questioned and there is a risk of society falling apart. The low level of voter participation in our elections, particularly in non-presidential years, is already a concern. Do people not vote because they have given up on the system? Even this year with a hotly contested election, roughly 1/3 of the eligible electorate failed to vote. Making matters worse, the blatant politicization of the Supreme Court has weakened its already tenuous claims to legitimacy as a non-partisan and independent branch of government.

If we continue to allow the profit-driven corporate controlled media, including social media, to divide us from one another, we will be unable to overcome the huge problems mentioned above. It is necessary for ‘we the people’ to unite, to overcome the left/right, Democratic/Republican partisan divide, in order to force the US political system to work on behalf of the people instead of on behalf of the special interests of the wealthy. Only constant and strong nonviolent pressure on Congress and the White House from ‘we the people’ can overcome the power of money, that is, the legalized bribery in our national political system.

If the Biden administration adopts positions that clearly benefit ‘we the people’ instead of the wealthy and powerful, there is a good chance of overcoming much of our dangerous division. People of all political persuasions will realize we finally have a president who represents their interests instead of those of the super wealthy.

Note what we demand are universally recognized human rights that people deserve wherever they are on the left/right political spectrum. These rights include decent housing, living wage jobs, good food, health care, education, fair and equal treatment before the law, voting and a clean and safe environment. These are not extreme positions and people in many other nations have had these rights for decades. Unfortunately, we still don’t have these rights, making the US exceptional in the sense of how few basic human rights we actually have.

For example, in countries with these rights, people are not afraid of losing their health care if they lose their job or of going bankrupt due to high medical charges. There is not a loss of dignity or respect associated with receiving social benefits. Low and middle income students can go to college without a fear of graduating with huge debts.

Can we pressure President Biden enough for him to adopt this popular and winning approach? Can we put enough pressure on Congress to cause it to join in this campaign? Sí, se puede! This campaign requires that all of us across the political spectrum stand up for our legitimate rights. We have no other choice if we want to make the US live up to the lofty words that inspired millions here and around the world.

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Future of American Democracy: On Inequality, Polarization and Violence http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/future-of-american-democracy-on-inequality-polarization-and-violence/ Sat, 14 Nov 2020 17:19:13 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110858 In January 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s Democracy Index downgraded the state of democracy in the United States from “full democracy” to “flawed democracy”. The demotion of a country that has constantly prided itself, not only on being democratic but also on championing democracy throughout the world, took many by surprise. Some US pundits […]

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In January 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)’s Democracy Index downgraded the state of democracy in the United States from “full democracy” to “flawed democracy”.

The demotion of a country that has constantly prided itself, not only on being democratic but also on championing democracy throughout the world, took many by surprise. Some US pundits challenged the findings altogether.

However, judging by events that have transpired since, the accuracy of the EIU Index continues to demonstrate itself in the everyday reality of American politics: the extreme political and cultural polarization; growing influence of armed militias, police violence; mistreatment of undocumented immigrants, including children; marginalization of the country’s minorities in mainstream politics and so on.

The EIU’s Democracy Index has, finally, exposed the deteriorating state of democracy in the US because it is based on 60 different indicators which, aside from traditional categories – i.e. the function of government – also include other indicators such as gender equality, civil liberties and political culture.

Judging by the number, diversity and depth of the above indicators, it is safe to assume that the outcome of the US general elections this November will not have an immediate bearing on the state of American democracy. On the contrary, the outcome is likely to further fragment an already divided society and continue to turn the country’s state-run institutions – including the Supreme Court – into a battleground for political and ideological alliances.

While the buzzword throughout the election campaigns has been ‘saving American democracy’, the state of democracy in the US is likely to worsen in the foreseeable future. This is because America’s ruling elites, whether Republicans or Democrats, refuse to acknowledge the actual ailments that have afflicted American political culture for many years.

Sadly, when the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, former Democratic presidential nominee, insisted that massive structural adjustments were necessary at every level of government, he was dismissed by the Democratic establishment as ‘unrealistic’, and altogether ‘unelectable’.

Sanders was, of course, right, because the crisis in American democracy was not initiated by the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The latter event was a mere symptom of a larger, protracted problem.

These are some of the major issues that are unlikely to be effortlessly resolved by the outcome of the elections, thus will continue to downgrade the state of democracy in the US.

The Inequality Gap: Income inequality, which is the source of socio-political strife, is one of the US’ major challenges, spanning over 50 years. Inequality, now compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic, is worsening, affecting certain racial groups – African Americans, in particular – and women, more than others.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in February 2020, “income inequality in the US is the highest of all the G7 nations,” a major concern for 78 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Republicans.

Political Polarization: The large gap between the wealthy few and the impoverished many is not the only schism creating a wedge in American society. Political polarization – although, interestingly, it does not always express itself based on rational class demarcation – is a major problem in the US.

Both Republicans and Democrats have succeeded in making their case to enlist the support of certain strata of American society, while doing very little to fulfill the many promises the ruling establishments of these two camps often make during election campaigns.

For example, Republicans use a populist political discourse to reach out to working-class white Americans, promising them economic prosperity; yet, there is no evidence that the lot of working-class white American families has improved under the Trump Administration.

The same is true with Democrats, who have, falsely, long situated themselves as the champions of racial justice and fairer treatment of undocumented immigrants.

Militarization of Society: With socio-economic inequality and political polarization at their worst, trust in democracy and the role of the state to fix a deeply flawed system is waning. This lack of trust in the central government spans hundreds of years, thus, the constant emphasis on the Second Amendment of the US Constitution regarding “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”

Indeed, US society is one of the most militarized in the world. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), two-thirds of all local terrorism in the US is carried out by right-wing militias, who are now more emboldened and angrier than ever before. According to an October Southern Poverty Law Center report, there are about 180 active anti-government paramilitary groups in the US.

For the first time in many years, talks of another ‘American Civil War’ have become a daily mainstream media discussion.

It would be entirely unrealistic to imagine that democracy in the US will be restored as a result of any given elections. Without a fundamental shift in US politics that confronts the underlying problems behind the socio-economic inequality and political polarization, the future carries yet more fragmentation and, possibly, violence.

The coming weeks and months are critical in determining the future direction of American society. Alas, the current indicators are hardly promising.

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US Election History Marred by Fraud and Controversies http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/us-election-history-marred-by-fraud-and-controversies/ Sat, 14 Nov 2020 15:27:39 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110865 Republicans supporting Trump’s fraud allegations are putting democracy ‘on a dangerous path’ according to Barack Obama. But the US election system has been questioned for decades.

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Republicans supporting Trump’s fraud allegations are putting democracy ‘on a dangerous path’ according to Barack Obama. But the US election system has been questioned for decades.

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The Ramblings of a Self-confessed Liar, Cheater, and Thief http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/the-ramblings-of-a-self-confessed-liar-cheater-and-thief/ Fri, 13 Nov 2020 15:36:35 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110818 On 10 November 2020, the United States secretary-of-state Mike Pompeo, he of the ill-famed confession “We lied, we cheated, we stole,” spoke at the Ronald Reagan Institute. The liar Pompeo can even speak candidly, “I’ve talked about American exceptionalism. I did so in Brussels; I did it in Cairo; I did it in Jakarta, and […]

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On 10 November 2020, the United States secretary-of-state Mike Pompeo, he of the ill-famed confession “We lied, we cheated, we stole,” spoke at the Ronald Reagan Institute.

The liar Pompeo can even speak candidly, “I’ve talked about American exceptionalism. I did so in Brussels; I did it in Cairo; I did it in Jakarta, and every opportunity that I’ve had in my public life. Sometimes it was met with a resounding thud as well. I’ve walked out of quiet ward rooms.”

Imagine a US secretary-of-state admitting that people walked out on American exceptionalism.

The cheater Pompeo boasted, “In the Middle East, American strength has replaced leading from behind. We destroyed the caliphate, the ISIS caliphate. We killed Baghdadi and Soleimani, and we have restored substantial deterrence.”

It is a bizarre form of exceptionalism to brag about assassinations carried out by one’s country. The US created Daesh and later killed their associate, the Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as the major destroyer of Daesh, Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani, commander of its Quds Force.

Speaking of theft, Pompeo chortled, “And by just simply recognizing Jerusalem – candidly recognizing Jerusalem – as the capital of Israel and acknowledging that the Golan Heights are part of Israel, we’ve helped secured our ally, the Jewish state, as central to the region’s future.”

The colonial-settlers managed to wipe out many Indigenous nations in what is now called the United States, and they later aided European Jews in stealing the land of Indigenous Palestinians. But as the events in Armenia and Azerbaijan indicate, territory conquered in the past can be regained in the future. Sitting on stolen land can be like sitting on a ticking time bomb.

Finally Pompeo got to the crux of his speech where he identified the “foundation for America’s policy towards the world’s number-one threat to freedom today: the Chinese Communist Party.”

Liars, cheaters, and thieves count on their audience to accept their proclamations and not probe into the background of the speaker and the glasshouses in which they reside. Thus Pompeo could smugly assert of China, without an iota of evidence presented:

And it also means no more illegal claims in the South China Sea, no more coercion and co-optation of American businesses, no more consulates used as dens of spies, no more stealing of intellectual property, and no more ignoring fundamental human rights violations. And the party’s atrocities in Xinjiang, Tibet, and elsewhere will not be tolerated.

Is China a paragon of virtue? No. And the US is no paragon of good either. Illegal claims? Do settler-colonialists have a legitimate legal claim to the landmass of the US? To the Hawaiian islands? To Puerto Rico? To Guam? Where is the evidence that US corporations were co-opted or coerced by the Chinese? One hears such claims over and over but never with evidence. Why? Because entry to the Chinese market was conditioned on access to technology, a decision that US corporations could have refused. This is not coercion. That a former CIA head speaks of dens of spies is risible. Theft of intellectual property? And what was the forced sale of China’s social media TikTok in the US supposed to represent? US protesting human rights violations? Like the occupation and oppression of Palestinians by the Jewish state? Like the Muslim holocaust?1 Like the police murders of Blacks in the US? How about the human right to freedom from poverty and to have a roof over one’s head?

Pompeo said, “The fight is between authoritarianism, barbarism on one side and freedom on the other.”

As I wrote recently:

Among other items “proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,” the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “… human beings shall enjoy freedom … from want.”

The UDHR preamble goes on to state that “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person … have [been] determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.”

China is the country that addresses the fundamental dignity and worth of the human person. The US falls abysmally short of addressing dignity of all citizens. Chinese have freedom from homelessness and poverty. Consequently lying and cheating is required by US politicians to hide their thievery.

China conquered COVID-19 while Americans suffer. Americans are warring in several countries while the Communist Party of China calls for peace. Who are the barbarians? If it is a choice between two countries, it seems an easy choice to make.

  1. Gideon Polya, US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide (Korsgaard Publishing, 2020).

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The Schizophrenic Crisis http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/the-schizophrenic-crisis/ Fri, 13 Nov 2020 15:30:38 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110819 I’m not looking at schizophrenia for the moment as a sickness, but as a more or less inevitable development or consequence of a body that refines thought to such an extent that it becomes confused by its own images and beliefs and mistakes them for reality itself. Conclusive certainty or dogma would be an obvious […]

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I’m not looking at schizophrenia for the moment as a sickness, but as a more or less inevitable development or consequence of a body that refines thought to such an extent that it becomes confused by its own images and beliefs and mistakes them for reality itself.

Conclusive certainty or dogma would be an obvious symptom of this crisis — a crisis which may have begun several thousand years ago and is only now approaching its ‘do or die’ moment: Learn this lesson or perish.

I think that some degree of schizophrenia is an inevitable consequence of hitting this confusion. And depending on how hard or soft that collision might be, the schizophrenia manifests more or less dramatically. But it’s a natural crisis; a collision with the limits of a particular mode of intelligence.

The confusion seems to be telling us that thought isn’t intelligent on its own. No matter how subtle the thought may be in one sense, in a functional sense, the thought is only a static construct, or a dead conclusion, which has put an end to learning.

Introduce yourself to any conclusive thought and the little bugger will turn out to be a rather pig-headed atom of mind. “No, the issue is closed,” it will always say, before walking away. I met one the other day that said, “Mankind is violent by nature! End of discussion!” And when learning is stopped like this, the conclusion becomes another self-fulfilling prophecy.

And it’s interesting to notice that any “human trait” we can name — arguing, selfishness, meanness — is the fulfillment of a self-fulfilling prophecy driven by beliefs or thoughts that we confuse with reality itself, with absolute fact.

So we end up becoming as pigheaded as the thought that is running us.

This confusion translates into an unconscious belief or set of assumptions that are taken for granted to be factually real. I call this a hidden “philosophy” of Literalism (though it operates automatically, without any conscious realization (usually) on our part). (Picture the relationship between hidden philosophies and human behavior in this way maybe: An absent-minded person is traveling down a very complex system of highways. This person has no idea how the highways were constructed, or what they even look like from an overview perspective. But the person’s “behavior” (the car) is nevertheless proceeding along these complex, highly intellectual structures).

But this Literalism or tendency to conflate thought and thing is the essence of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is the symptom of this confusion: An inevitable confusion, an inevitable symptom.

Let’s look at crises as having two sides, like a coin. On one side, we’re confronting a disturbing death of an old way of operating. On the other side, we’re being challenged to make an evolutionary leap. Death and birth you might say.

What’s dying is a way of life that worked well up to a point, but increasingly over the past centuries has tended towards a hard and brittle absolutism, where positions are deeply staked, and where all challenges (including the challenges of reality itself) are denied or justified, even if it leads to one’s own self-destruction.

Thanks god it’s dying, BUT: This death is still very frightening to all of us, and particularly schizophrenically terrorizing to those who came out of childhood already terrorized by the idea that they’re “nobody” until they succeed in this positive, assertive, domineering, competitive direction. The fear of being nobody (of being without the conditional love that is all they probably ever encountered) is tremendously blinding.

And we’re facing crises where this kind of everyday competitive (unloving) mode of operating is no longer suitable.

In other words, the kind of learning that seeks a dead conclusion, or that seeks to accumulative knowledge — or what I call “positive” learning, because it’s always seeking the security of a positive certainty or dogma or status — can no longer be the primary mode of learning, because the problems we’re facing in so many areas of life are deeper than the material and practical problems that positive learning is “designed” to solve.

Dead conclusions won’t serve us in any kind of relational, social, or political activity — in fact, in any activity that requires language (which is basically everything). In this domain conclusions make us stupid.

But the other side of the coin is not yet clear. It seems to be provoking an awareness of the potential of a different way of learning — not strictly an accumulative, knowledge-gathering mode, which ends in conclusions, but a subtractive, eye-opening mode that leaves wider and more penetrating questions.

We’ve always had the capacity to learn negatively — to see falsehood, to notice that the emperor is naked, to be stripped of old certainties that blinded us, leaving us in a kind of alert uncertainty, like the genius on the basketball court who can see everything as it develops. Conclusions are utterly useless in a shifting context.

But this negative mode of learning, which is being primarily aware of how events err from expectations, has gotten increasingly suppressed as positive learning took over. The more we accumulate positive expertise, the less likely we are to question our own now elaborate and firm (but brittle and unchanging) ideas. We might correlate this shift from a mode of living that depended primarily on Not coming to conclusions (such as cultures close to earth, which depend on a deep and quickly adapting intelligence of their environment) to one that seeks conclusive certainty and confidence (which is status and authority) to the shift from right to left brain dominance; or the shift from a more metaphoric to a more analytical perspective.

We threw something out with the bathwater when we made this switch. But this isn’t unnatural. Life always makes mistakes. There is no perfect response to anything, because every situation is new and impossible to know in its entirety. Every adaptive act makes waves of some sort and these waves reveal the shortcomings of the action, so that one becomes like a surfer, I suppose, always finding an inconclusive balance, in this way remaining coherent and realistic without the need for any certainty. This is why negative learning needs to become primary again. Positive dominance tends to repress essential negative information. We need to see our mistakes or we’re going to die out soon.

This doesn’t mean going back to a “primitive” way of learning. It wasn’t “primitive” to begin with, and we CAN learn something new here: focusing so intently on the material, positive plain for all these centuries helped us develop skills in this direction. But now we need to return to the wisdom of a wider, more negatively aware mentality to use those skills in a less self-destructive manner. Prior to this hyper-rational period, we lived coherently with the earth, but only because we hadn’t yet taken thought to its extreme limits and gotten confused by it as we have now. Before, we were still susceptible to the illusions of thought. But this crisis is making us immune to their black magic, because it’s forcing us to look more deeply at the nature of thought.

And negative learning is how this crisis in thought, this schizophrenia, gets resolved. Because if a person keeps confusing thought and thing, we can’t keep feeding them more ideas, solutions, and stories in hopes of helping them. We’re only leading them deeper into the maze of dead-end certainties, into a babble of arguing dogmas, which can only end with extinction.

The only real solid ground or certainty in a world of hallucinations is negative, which is to say, error. Errors are the bread crumbs that lead us out of our blind convictions.

One last note: I wouldn’t call this schizophrenic crisis a “natural” development in the sense that it’s “always” inevitable. That THIS IS HOW THE WORLD OPERATES BY NATURE, in some conclusive sense. To me, our patterns of development, our stages of growth, aren’t fixed features, aren’t set in stone, but are more like the course of a river, which shifts as rocks (assumptions), or trees (belief systems), come and go. So at this point in our human imagination of the world, certain assumptive boulders have pushed our development towards a kind of excess rationality that ends up in a little backwater whirlpool of schizophrenia. But if we resolve this confusion, then human development would no longer encounter this problem in quite the same way. Human “nature” shifts; behavior, ideas, visions change. There is no vantage point that shows everything, so there’s always room to learn, and no form or nature ever settles.

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Structural Violence, Marginalized Communities, and Radical Change http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/structural-violence-marginalized-communities-and-radical-change/ Fri, 13 Nov 2020 15:08:17 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110804 A recent analysis by Harvard geneticist Stephen Elledge tabulated the number of years that Americans who died from COVID-19 might have lived had they reached a typical life expectancy. The shocking answer is that the coronavirus ?has claimed more than 2.5 million years of potential life in the United States since 2020. And despite making […]

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A recent analysis by Harvard geneticist Stephen Elledge tabulated the number of years that Americans who died from COVID-19 might have lived had they reached a typical life expectancy. The shocking answer is that the coronavirus ?has claimed more than 2.5 million years of potential life in the United States since 2020. And despite making up only one-fifth of the total recorded deaths from COVID-19, people under age 65 accounted for 1.2 million of potential years lost. A follow-up study now underway using race and ethnicity will very likely show young Black and Latinos having lost substantially more years than younger white Americans.1

Setting aside the pandemic for the moment, we can extrapolate that a similar type of analysis could be undertaken to calculate the number of years of life lost for Americans who die prematurely from the normal, everyday functioning of capitalism in this country.? Those consequences can be classified under what Norwegian politician scientist Johan Galtung termed “structural violence.”2 Looked at this way, structural violence is “the increased rates of death and disability suffered by those who occupy the bottom rungs of society.”3

Violence is usually thought of as damage to, or loss of life from, avoidable and external causes and direct violence takes the form of acts perpetrated against specific individuals. One can identity the victims, agents, intentions and means of direct violence. In contrast, whenever persons are harmed, maimed or killed by poverty and unjust social, political and economic institutions, systems or structures, we speak of structural violence.?Structural violence, unlike armed violence, can have two effects — it either kills its victims or harms them in various ways short of killing.4

Put succinctly, when the global society or a national society’s means of survival, from jobs, food and medical assistance are concentrated in the upper class, the majority of the population has a life expectancy lower than necessary.5? And for what follows, it’s important to stress that structural violence lacks a visible person committing an intentional act of excessive violence to whom responsibility may be assigned. Rather, it results from the underlying unequal distribution of power and resources.

Structural violence measures the gap between the actual and the potential, that is, a society without the national repressive structures. When such measurements have been taken on a global scale, the results are staggering in that the number of fatalities from structural violence were found to be seventeen times greater than from direct civil and international violence and cause ten times more than homicides, suicides and warfare combined.6?And if commonly accepted estimates by the World Health Organization and other sources are correct, between now and 2030, 56 million children under the age of 5 will die from poverty and wholly treatable causes. Their fundamental right to live out their lives will be violated.

Structural violence, according to Harvard public health expert Paul Farmer, is a “broad rubric that includes a host of offenses against human dignity…ranging from racism to gender inequality…[to] extreme and relative poverty.” ?It advances not unlike an invisible virus that lays waste to a patient’s immune system by means of political-economic processes.7? Although less visible, structural violence is by far the most lethal and widespread form of violence that would not occur within a more equitable society. Therefore, it’s one of the most critical areas of violence studies meriting further investigation in our time.8

Because health, gender, economic and racial disparities are affixed deep within society’s structure itself, they tend to go unnoticed ?and normalized as just among the routine problems of life. The underlying inequality accounting for marginalized people’s susceptibility to infection, illness and premature death is virtually invisible, lending the conveniently false impression that irresponsible personal behavior is the culprit. The upshot here is that “economically driven processes and forces conspire to restrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon those whose social status denies them access to scientific and social progress.”9? That is,an important distinction is that overt/behavioral violence like police executions of Black citizens, ICE locking children in cages or the conscious restricting of the economy to immiserate workers is easy to discern and episodic. Structural violence is steady, insidious, covert and exponentially far exceeds the visible form.

Structural violence permeates U.S. society. It’s inherent in the country’s governance and major sectors of the population have suffered under neoliberalism with its celebration of rugged individualism, inequality and the free market. Identifying and publicizing its gruesome consequences would make it obvious that structural violence could be mitigated by a different allocation of national resources. Indeed, an Economic Law of Life is operating here under which the amount of structural violence, including life expectancy is, to a high degree, a function of the country’s wealth and income distribution. Wealth buys life.

Put another way and writing specifically about the United States today, economist Richard Wolff maintains that “Pandemic capitalism distributes death in an inverse proportion to wealth and income… so that unequal income distribution finances unequal “natural” outcomes.” Wolff continues that when private profit trumps public health, “a half million of us die, sort of like a “natural” car accident.10? Clarifying this would allow what is now normal to be totally loathsome. Most important, it all materializes from the “normal” textbook operation of liberal democracy and the market system. The complicity of the duopoly that enables structural violence to continue unchallenged would also be exposed for its illegitimacy.

U.S. officials talk about incremental change and celebrate nonviolence but this conceals massive structural violence and a status quo of silent suffering and peacefully secure cemeteries.? That is, untold millions of years of life expectancy are being lost each year in the United States because of the economic injustice of the capitalist system. However, as Farmer explains, these ideas “provoke discomfort in a moral economy still geared to pinning praise or blame on individual actors.”10? As such, people cannot absolve themselves with righteous proclamation like “I have never and would never engage in or support violent behavior toward another human being,” because the culpability for structural violence lies with those who support the system giving rise to it.

One way to approach this is to measure ?the general population’s potential life expectancy in the United States versus its actual life expectancy owing to factors such as economic deprivation, access to health care, denial of ?opportunities, institutional racism and marginalization. Going further, the critical breakdown would include ?examining the qualitative ?effects of structural violence on marginalized communities in the United States.11? A team of activist academics, led by Prof. Rakhshanda Saleem and a team committed to furthering social justice, has undertaken just such a much needed research project.12

The project’s initial ?focus is on multiple groups with marginalized identities and it highlights the intersectionality of their experience with structural violence. Not everyone will agree and there are different variables at work, ?but given the bleak future of young millennials, I would add them to the usual mix of racial, ethnic and other categories. They are unanticipated victims of structural violence but may not even see themselves in this way. However, there’s an undeniable and logical connection between how normal neoliberal capitalism operates and the structural violence in which millions of millennials are ensnared.

Although his capitulation ultimately tore out their hearts, roughly 10 million beleaguered and bitter Millennials embraced Bernie Sanders ?because they realized they were being shafted by the Lords of Capital.13 Today, they could ?declare, “It’s not the pandemic, stupid!? It’s the pandemic under economic inequality.” ?In sum, what is so exciting about this research is that an “intersectional perspective that promotes solidarity across struggles needs to be advocated” and the groundwork now exists.

Finally, beyond the episodic public protests against egregious acts of overt violence, there is a largely invisible, insidious, and relentless class war taking place. Below the 1-2 percent who own the nation’s wealth, including 705 billionaires with more wealth than the bottom half of the population are the 17-20 percent who administer the system and are richly rewarded for their role. Below them, we find the 80 percent, the working class that actually produces all of society’s good and services. A close analysis of structural violence can serve to heighten awareness of the advantages of the disparate groups in the third category who are victimized, subordinated and played off against one another by the ?same enemy, to join in a struggle against a system that’s destroying their common welfare.

  1. Katherine Wu, “The Coronavirus Has Claimed 2.5 million Years of Potential Life in the United States, Study Finds,” New York Times, October 21, 2020.
  2. Johan Galtung, “Violence, Peace and Peace Research,” Journal of Peace Research, 6, (3,) (1969), p. 167-91.
  3. James Gillian, Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, (New York: First Vintage Books, 1997).
  4. Gernot Kohler and Norman Alcock, “An Empirical Table of Structural Violence, Journal of Peace Research, 13, (4), Vol. XIII, 1976.
  5. Tord Hoivik, “The Demography of Structural Violence”, Journal of Peace Reserch 14, (1 )(1977), p. 60.
  6. William Eckhardt and Gernot Kohler, “Structural Violence and Armed Violence in the Twentieth Century: Magnitudes and Trends,” International Interactions 6, (4) (1980: 365); World Health Organization. 10 facts about violence prevention, 2017.
  7. Paul Farmer, Pathologies of Power: Health, human rights, and the new war on the poor. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), p. 8 and 18.
  8. Bandy X. Lee, “Structural Violence,” March 1, 2019.
  9. Richard Wolff, The Sickness in the System (New York: Democracy at Work, 2020) p. 117,129.
  10. Paul Farmer, “An Anthology of Structural Violence,” Current Anthropology, 2004, 45 (3).
  11. For an illustrative example, see: Cecilia Montesdeoca,”Inadequate Access to Healthy Opportunities and Structural Violence: A Case Study of Health Disparities and Hispanics in McLean County,” (2013) Senior Theses – Anthropology. 5.
  12. Saleem, Rakhshanda; Vaswani, Akansha; Wheeler, Emily; Maroney,Meredith; Pagan-Ortiz, Marta; and Brody, Madeline (2016), “The Effects of Structural Violence on the Well-Being of Marginalized Communities in the United States,Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, Vol.8, (1), Article 13; See also Saleem,R, Pagan-Ortiz, M.E. Merrill, Z, Brody, M & Andrade L (2020) “I thought it would be different”: Experiencing of Structural Violence in the Lives of Undocumented Latinas. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 26 (2), p. 171-180.
  13. Gary Olson, “Youth and the Looming Economic Crisis,” Counterpunch, May 1, 2020.?

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Trump and Melania According to Fritz Lang http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/trump-and-melania-according-to-fritz-lang/ Fri, 13 Nov 2020 14:37:43 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110834 As of today, America does not seem convinced by its democratic nature and its democratic process. One poll?released yesterday claims that “less than half of the Americans believe Biden is the legitimate winner of election; a third say Trump won.”? By now it is reasonable to admit that America is far from being confident about […]

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As of today, America does not seem convinced by its democratic nature and its democratic process. One poll?released yesterday claims that “less than half of the Americans believe Biden is the legitimate winner of election; a third say Trump won.”? By now it is reasonable to admit that America is far from being confident about anything that is traditionally associated with its core ideological roots and its founders’ philosophy.

By now it is also clear beyond doubt that the predictions of a Democratic ‘landslide victory’ were either delusional or even consciously duplicitous. As of today, Republicans have gained seats in the House of Representatives, and look likely to retain control of the senate. If this is not enough, President Trump also increased his support base significantly. He even managed to expand his share of votes within marginal segments that until now were considered ‘democratic territory’ such as the Black and Latino communities.

America is divided in the middle. Some may wonder what is it that made so many American voters give their votes to a presidential candidate who seems to be past his best days and often appear confused and cognitively challenged. Others wonder how is it possible that such a significant number gave their vote for a second time to an eccentric real estate tycoon who proved to be totally foreign to some elementary knowledge of running a country, let alone the language of politics and diplomacy. How is it possible that more than 70 million Americans voted for a man who shakes his hands and ass to?the music of YMCA?at his rallies?

The truth of that matter can’t be denied: Trump’s electoral power is based on his wall-to-wall support amongst White uneducated males. It is America’s white working class that support a man who has never engaged in any form of manual work so to say, a man who was born into wealth.

I would expect every American political scientist to clear his or her table and concentrate on one question: what is it at the core of this bond between?this demographic?and this abrasive real estate oligarch? Seemingly the many Americans who do not approve of Trump prefer to go to bed in the night and wake up in a Trump-less universe. Bizarrely enough, this is exactly what happened on election night.?America went to sleep accepting that Trump might very well make it again, that he might be here to stay for another four years.??Yet miraculously, when America woke up, just a few hours later Trump looked likely to be on his way out.?We may never know what really happened at the wee small hours in those?‘swing states.’?Yet, Trump’s bond with?America’s white working class?is, no doubt, a fascinating question and it remains a mystery.

Trump is?not the first American tycoon to be loved and admired by the working masses. Henry Ford, the chief developer of the?assembly line?technique of?mass production, a man who made the USA into?an industrial superpower, wasn’t exactly a ‘socialist’ by any means but he took great care of his workers and improved their lives by unimaginable proportions.

Ford was a pioneer of ‘welfare capitalism.’ He astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage, practically doubling the rate of most of his workers.?Ford believed that paying employees more would enable them to afford the cars they were producing and thus boost the local economy. In practice, Ford offered a valid answer to Marx’ theory of?‘alienation.’?His workers bonded with their reality by means of consumption.? Ford believed in manufacturing, nationalism and?patriotism. He?was against?wars; he?saw Wall Street and global capitalism as America’s prime enemy. This fact alone put him on an inevitable collision course with the wolves of Wall Street. Consequently Henry Ford went down in History as a “notorious anti-Semite” and Trump has been denounced more than once? by the ADL and other Jewish organizations for “extolling” him and his achievements.

It is not difficult to point at some crucial similarities between Ford and Trump.?Both are critical of military interventions. Both adhere to nationalist, patriotic and conservative values. Both believe in manufacturing. Both oppose globalism of any form and see globalist Wall Street as a prime enemy.?But the bond between the struggling worker and the arch capitalist has deeper cultural, rational and psychological roots that go beyond the particular historicity of one industrialist or another.

The significance of the fantasy of bond between the oligarch and the oppressed is at the centre of?Fritz Lang’s?Metropolis?(1927),?one of the most important cinematic epics of the 20th?century.


Watch Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

Metropolis?was created in Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. It is set in a futuristic ultra-capitalist dystopia that isn’t so removed from the reality we witness in the growing abyss between Americas’ seashore urban metropolises and the so-called ‘Fly Over’ States. It tells the story of Freder, the son of the city master, and Maria, an inspirational working class, Christian and saintly character. Together, Freder and Maria defeat social injustice and the class divide by means of unity.?Against all odds, they?manage to unite capital and labor. For this unity to occur, a mediator has to come forward to transform social clash into a harmonious future.? Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is two-and-a-half hours of horror, oppression, slavery, capitalist malevolence and class divide that resolves in the end into harmonious reconciliation of the Hegelian ‘end of history’ type. The cinematic epic exhausts itself when the workers’ leader and the city master are shaking hands and accepting their mutual fate and co-dependence. “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart,” is the inter title of the scene, emphasizing the ideological and metaphysical motto of the film. In the eyes of Trump supporters, Donald is such a ‘heart.’

Yesterday I watched?Melania Trump – The Mysterious First Lady,?a new Arte documentary that attempts to grasp the role of Melania and her contribution to her husband’s?success.

It didn’t take me long to notice the similarities between Lang’s?Freder and?Donald Trump. It took me even less time to see a resemblance between Maria and Melania.

Looking at the Arte film it becomes clear that Melania’s role in Trump’s success is far greater than what the American compromised media may be willing to admit. The American press treats the current first lady as a meaningless decorative element planted in proximity to the ‘great evil’. But, as the Arte film reveals, for Trump’s supporting crowd, Melania is a loaded symbol of deep spiritual and cultural meaning.

Melania is practically the ultimate embodiment of the ‘American dream.’ Born in a remote village in Communist (former) Yugoslavia, she made it to the top of the world. She is literally the First Lady, married to the most powerful man in the world. She did it on her own. She had a wish, she dedicated herself and she accomplished her mission.

But it goes further, this ‘sleeping beauty’ character happens to ‘wake up’ in the most volatile moments and say the right things. Being a?dedicated mother, she?furnishes the turbulent presidency with a deep sense of family commitment. She fits like a glove with the conservative understanding of conventional gender relations. But she also enlightens the compatible and mutual relations between the male and the female couple:

She is ‘young and beautiful,’ he is ‘old and shrewd’ but when things ‘get out of hand,’ when the president, for instance, is caught on tape calling to “grab them by the p*ssy” the couple swap rolls immediately. Melania, out of the blue, becomes the big caring mother/wife, she forgives her naughty husband, however confirms that he is actually a very nice gentleman and qualified for presidency. It is, practically Melania who Gives Donald the kosher stamp when he really needs it.

It isn’t a coincidence that no one in the USA could produce such a documentary that delves into the true meaning of Trump and his Trumpina. Not one camera owner in the USA has the mental power to admit that the Trump project is actually way more sophisticated than what we are willing to admit. One?filmmaker?who apparently understands the Trump project is obviously Michael Moore who predicted Trump’s victory in 2016. He also tried to warn his fellow progressive friends that they are deluding themselves into?believing the pollsters and their phantasmic landslide victory predictions.

Trumpism is ideologically motivated and strategically driven. Not many ?Americans in the Left have the guts to admit that if one political offering is pushing for non-binary gender, trans identiterianism, globalism and anti-patriotism, there would be enough people that push back on this message, clinging to the most obvious call for nationalism, family values, strict gender binaries, Christian ethos, etc.

In Fritz Lang’s epic?Metropolis?the leader unites the under-city slaves with the Mammonites on top. I am not so sure that Trump can establish any kind of a bridge between Wall Street and his supporters in the?‘Fly over’ States.?Wall Street does not see any reason to reach out to the so-called ‘deplorables.’ America is already divided on pretty much every possible front. Two days ago?I asked a NY friend how does?he feel about the current events in the USA. He corrected me immediately.? “I live in NYC not in the USA… the USA” he said, “starts after the Hudson.”

It is hard to predict where America is going from here. But since Henry Ford predicted the current mess almost a century ago it may be good to remember that it was the same guy who cleverly pointed out that “when everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

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Rolling Heads at the Pentagon: Trump as Sacker-in-Chief http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/rolling-heads-at-the-pentagon-trump-as-sacker-in-chief/ Fri, 13 Nov 2020 05:43:39 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110830 A sense of redundancy might encourage calm. ?The job is done, however well or poorly.? The legacy charted.? But in the case of President Donald Trump, there is still much to be done.? Leaving aside his priority of fortifying himself in the White House against any bailiff onslaught by president-elect Joe Biden, he is busy […]

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A sense of redundancy might encourage calm. ?The job is done, however well or poorly.? The legacy charted.? But in the case of President Donald Trump, there is still much to be done.? Leaving aside his priority of fortifying himself in the White House against any bailiff onslaught by president-elect Joe Biden, he is busy making decisions.? One of them is something that this administration will always be remembered for: sackings.

The sacking of Defence Secretary Mark Esper was in keeping with a recently minted tradition.? Trump has made a habit of cycling through appointees, notably those in the Defence Department. Five acting or confirmed defence secretaries during the course of a presidential term is a spanking record and unlikely to be outdone for some years.

It was Esper who showed alarm at the possibility that troops would be deployed against protesters and did little to hide that fact.? As he explained in the Pentagon briefing room on June 3, “The option to use active duty troops in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations now.? I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Solid stuff from someone the president had mocked for undue subservience as Yesper, a tag he expressed resentment over in an interview given to Military Times a few days before his sacking.? “My frustration is I sit there and say, ‘Hm, 18 Cabinet members.? Who’s pushed back more than anybody? Name another Cabinet secretary that’s pushed back.”

He was hardly top of the cabinet pops, and so, the beleaguered commander-in-chief, wishing for some gratuitous blood, found Esper’s exposed head.? “Mark Esper,” came the president’s tweet, “has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”? His replacement: Christopher C. Miller, Director of the National Counterterrorism Centre.

What makes this unusual is that transitions are usually periods of dull resignation and tidying up.? Job massacres do not tend to figure.? But Trump was rarely ordinary in anything concerning White House business, often reprising his role from The Apprentice as firer-in-chief.

Talking heads have found such moves not merely poor form but disconcerting.? Former assistant Secretary of Defence during the Reagan administration, Lawrence Korb, was concerned with appearances.? “This is purely an act of retaliation by a president thinking more about his petty grievances than about the good of the country.”? It conveyed a “message… that Trump is going to continue his disruptive policies for the rest of his time in office.”

House speaker Nancy Pelosi saw a continuing pattern of behaviour.? “The abrupt firing of Secretary Esper is disturbing evidence that President Trump is intent on using his final days in office to sow chaos in our American Democracy and around the world.”? Nothing new on that front, then.

Similarly, Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat, was concerned that others – namely the enemies of the United States – might be enthused by such cavalier sackings.? “Dismissing politically appointed national security leaders during a transition is a destabilizing move that will only embolden our adversaries and put our country at greater risk.”

Conservative think tankers such as Kori Schake at the American Enterprise Institute agree, suggesting that Trump was not living up to the expectations of the imperial military establishment. “Firing a competent defence secretary within two months remaining in his term is exactly the kind of petty recklessness that made so much of the Republic defence establishment support Joe Biden for president.”

Given the tenure of the Trump administration, and the propensity to prevent appointees from resting on their laurels, it is doubtful whether these adversaries would care one way or the other. But the psyche of the imperium not only demands lusty enemies, but demands that they take interest, gazing across oceans and deserts at what Freedom’s Land will be up to next.? Democratic Senator from Virginia Mark Warner promotes the worn view that “our adversaries are already seeking vulnerabilities they can exploit in order to undermine American global leadership and national security during this transition period.”

In the radio chatterverse, NPR’s Greg Myre was also worried about what the sacking would do to confidence in the already nerve shattered ranks of US allies.? “[T]he world doesn’t take a timeout during a US presidential transition.”? This speculation tends to forget that such allies have generally adapted to Trump’s tongue lashings over defence expenditure or pulling their weight, and anticipate the next erratic move as a matter of course.? The rickety US alliance system has also come in for some suggested revisions, notably in the form of French President Emmanuel Macron’s notion of strategic autonomy.

Esper’s removal is part of a transition spring clean in the dying days of the Trump presidency.? Anthony Tata, a retired brigadier-general, former superintendent of Wake County Schools and North Carolina Department of Transportation chief, has been shoehorned into the role of Pentagon’s policy chief.? Tata struggled with Senate confirmation earlier in the summer, a situation aided by past statements of some factual elasticity.? (Neither he, nor the truth, tend to trouble each other.)? In 2018, he accused President Barack Obama for being a Muslim “terrorist leader”. He has also had his sights on former CIA Director John Brennan, giving firm advice on Twitter that has since been removed: “Might be a good time to pick your poison: firing squad, public hanging, life sentence as a prison b*tch, or just suck on your pistol.”

In all this clouded mess, acting undersecretary of defence for policy, James H. Anderson, also handed in his resignation papers, along with Joseph D. Kernan, undersecretary of defence for intelligence.? To make the picture that more interesting, Tata had been, in effect, Anderson’s deputy, in circumvention of Senate confirmation protocols.? Not only has Trump proven to be the firing boss par excellence; he continues to fiddle protocol and muddy convention.? Expect more heads to roll.

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Hezbollah Leader: US Creator of Terrorist Groups, Cannot Accuse Others of Terrorism http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/hezbollah-leader-us-creator-of-terrorist-groups-cannot-accuse-others-of-terrorism/ Fri, 13 Nov 2020 00:22:05 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110815

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Biden will fail to bring back “normal” politics http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/biden-will-fail-to-bring-back-normal-politics/ Thu, 12 Nov 2020 22:23:07 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110809 Analysts are still grappling with the fallout from the US election. Trumpism proved a far more enduring and alluring phenomenon than most media pundits expected. Defying predictions, Trump improved his share of the overall vote compared to his 2016 win, and he surprised even his own team by increasing his share of minority voters and […]

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Analysts are still grappling with the fallout from the US election. Trumpism proved a far more enduring and alluring phenomenon than most media pundits expected. Defying predictions, Trump improved his share of the overall vote compared to his 2016 win, and he surprised even his own team by increasing his share of minority voters and women.

But most significantly, he almost held his own against Democratic challenger Joe Biden at a time when the US economy – the incumbent’s “trump” card – was in dire straits after eight months of a pandemic. Had it not been for Covid-19, Trump – not Biden – would most likely be preparing for the next four years in the White House.

Of course, much of Trump’s appeal was that he is not Biden. The Democratic party decided to run pretty much the worst candidate imaginable: an old-school machine politician, one emphatically beholden to the corporate donor class and unsuited to the new, more populist political climate. His campaigning – on the rare occasions he appeared – suggested significant cognitive decline. Biden often looked more suited to a luxury retirement home than heading the most powerful nation on earth.

But then again, if Trump could lead the world’s only superpower for four years, how hard can it really be? He showed that those tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists might be right after all: maybe the president is largely a figurehead, while a permanent bureaucracy runs much of the show from behind the curtain. Were Ronald Reagan and George W Bush not enough to persuade us that any halfwit who can string together a few cliches from a teleprompter will suffice?

No return to ‘normal’

The narrowly averted Trump second term has at least prompted liberal pundits to draw one significant lesson that is being endlessly repeated: Biden must avoid returning to the old “normal”, the one that existed before Trump, because that version of “normal” was exactly what delivered Trump in the first place. These commentators fear that, if Biden doesn’t play his cards wisely, we will end up in 2024 with a Trump 2.0, or even a rerun from Trump himself, reinvigorated after four years of tweet-sniping from the sidelines. They are right to be worried.

But their analysis does not properly explain the political drama that is unfolding, or where it heads next. There is a two-fold problem with the “no return to normal” argument.

The first is that the liberal media and political class making this argument are doing so in entirely bad-faith. For four years they have turned US politics and its coverage into a simple-minded, ratings-grabbing horror show. A vile, narcissist businessman, in collusion with an evil Russian mastermind, usurped the title of most powerful person on the planet that should have been bestowed on Hillary Clinton. As Krystal Ball has rightly mocked, even now the media are whipping up fears that the “Orange Mussolini” may stage some kind of back-handed coup to block the handover to Biden.

These stories have been narrated to us by much of the corporate media over and over again – and precisely so that we do not think too hard about why Trump beat Clinton in 2016. The reality, far too troubling for most liberals to admit, is that Trump proved popular because a lot of the problems he identified were true, even if he raised them in bad faith himself and had no intention of doing anything meaningful to fix them.

Trump was right about the need for the US to stop interfering in the affairs of the rest of the world under the pretence of humanitarian concern and a supposed desire to spread democracy at the end of the barrel of a gun. In practice, however, lumbered with that permanent bureaucracy, delegating his authority to the usual war hawks like John Bolton, and eager to please the Christian evangelical and Israel lobbies, Trump did little to stop such destructive meddling. But at least he was correct rhetorically.

Equally, Trump looked all too right in berating the establishment media for promoting “fake news”, especially as coverage of his presidency was dominated?by an evidence-free narrative claiming he had colluded with Russia to steal the election. Those now bleating about how dangerous his current assertions of election fraud are should remember they were the ones who smashed that particular glass house with their own volley of stones back in 2016.

Yes, Trump has been equally culpable with his Twitter barrages of fake news. And yes, he cultivated rather than spurned support from one of those major corporate outlets: the reliably right wing Fox News. But what matters most is that swaths of the American public – unable to decide who to believe, or maybe not caring – preferred to side with a self-styled maverick, Washington outsider, the supposed “underdog”, against a class of self-satisfied, overpaid media professionals transparently prostituting themselves to the billionaire owners of the corporate media.

Once voters had decided the system was rigged – and it is rigged towards the maintenance of elite power – anyone decrying the system, whether honestly or duplicitously, was going to prove popular.

Indebted to donors

Trump’s appeal was further bolstered by styling himself a self-made man, as his campaign riffed on the long-standing myths of the American Dream. The US public was encouraged to see Trump as a rich man prepared to gamble part of his own fortune on a run for the presidency so he could bring his business acumen to USA Ltd. That contrasted starkly with Democratic party leaders like Clinton and Biden who gave every appearance of having abjectly sold their principles – and their souls – to the highest-bidding corporate “donors”.

And again, that perception – at least in relation to Clinton and Biden – wasn’t entirely wrong.

How can Biden not end up trying to resurrect the Obama years that he was so very much part of during his two terms as vice-president and that led directly to Trump? That was why corporate donors backed his campaign. They desire the kind of neoliberal “normal” that leaves them free to continue making lots more money and ensures the wealth gap grows.

It is why they and the media worked so hard to pave Biden’s path to the presidency, even doing their best to bury political stories embarrassing to the Biden campaign. Maintaining that “normal” is the very reason the modern Democratic party exists.

Even if Biden wanted to radically overhaul the existing, corporate-bonded US political system – and he doesn’t – he would be incapable of doing so. He operates within institutional, structural constraints – donors, Congress, the media, the supreme court – all there to ensure his room for manoeuvre is tightly delimited.

Had his main rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, been allowed to run instead and won the presidency, it would have been much the same. The important difference is that the existence of a President Sanders would have risked exposing the fact that the “world’s most powerful leader” is not really so powerful.

Sanders would have lost his battles trying to defy these structural constraints, but in the process he would have made those constraints far more visible. They would have been all too obvious had someone like Sanders been constantly hitting his head against them. That was precisely why the corporate class and the technocratic leadership of the Democratic party worked so strenuously to make sure Sanders got nowhere near the presidential race.

Resistance posturing

Biden will do his best to achieve what his donors want: a return to the neoliberal “normal” under Obama. He will offer a sprinkling of initiatives to ensure progressive liberals can put to rest their resistance posturing with a clear conscience. There will be some “woke” identity politics to prevent any focus on class politics and the struggle for real economic justice, as well as some weak, corporation-friendly Green New Deal projects, if Biden can sneak past them past a Republican-controlled Senate.

And if he can’t manage even that … well that’s the beauty of a system tailor-made to follow the path of least financial resistance, to uphold the corporate status quo, the “normal”.

But there is a second, bigger problem. A fly in the ointment. Whatever Biden and the Democratic party do to resurrect the neoliberal consensus, the old “normal”, it isn’t coming back. The smug, technocratic class that has dominated western politics for decades on behalf of the corporate elite is under serious threat. Biden looks more like a hiccough, a last burp provoked by the unexpected pandemic.

The neoliberal “normal” isn’t coming back because the economic circumstances that generated it – the post-war boom of seemingly endless growth – have disappeared.

Plutocracy entrenches

A quarter of a century ago, the Cassandras of their day – those dismissed as peddlers of false conspiracy theories – warned of “peak oil”. That was the idea that the fuel on which the global economy ran either had peaked or soon would do. As the oil ran out, or became more expensive to extract, economic growth would slow, wages would fall, and inequality between rich and poor would increase.

This was likely to have dramatic political consequences too: resource wars abroad (inevitably camouflaged as “humanitarian intervention”); more polarised domestic politics; greater popular dissatisfaction; the return of charismatic, even fascist, leaders; and a resort to violence to solve political problems.

The arguments about peak oil continue. Judged by some standards, the production peak arrived in the 1970s. Others say, with the aid of fracking and other harmful technologies, the turning-point is due about now. But the kind of world predicted by peak oil theory looks to have been unfolding since at least the 1980s. The crisis in neoliberal economics was underscored by the 2008 global economic crash, whose shockwaves are still with us.

On top of all this, there are looming ecological and climate catastrophes intimately tied to the fossil-fuel economy on which the global corporations have grown fat. This Gordian knot of globe-spanning self-harm urgently needs unpicking.

Biden has neither the temperament nor the political manoeuvre room to take on these mammoth challenges and solve them. Inequality is going to increase during his term. The technocrats are again going to be exposed once again as impotent – or complicit – as plutocracy entrenches. The ecological crisis is not going to be dealt with beyond largely empty promises and posturing.

There will be lots of talk in the media about the need to give Biden more time to show what he can do and demands that we keep quiet for fear of ushering back Trumpism. This will be designed to lose us yet more valuable months and years to address urgent problems that threaten the future of our species.

The age of populism

The ability of the technocratic class to manage growth – wealth accumulation for the rich, tempered by a little “trickle down” to stop the masses rising up – is coming to an end. Growth is over and the technocrat’s toolbox is empty.

We are now in the age of political populism – a natural response to burgeoning inequality.

On one side is the populism of the Trumpers. They are the small-minded nationalists who want to blame everyone but the real villains – the corporate elite – for the west’s declining fortunes. As ever, they will search out the easiest?targets: foreigners and “immigrants”. In the US, the Republican party has been as good as taken over by the Tea party. The US right is not going to repudiate Trump for his defeat, they are going to totemise him because they understand his style of politics is the future.

There are now Trumps everywhere: Boris Johnson in the UK (and waiting in the wings, Nigel Farage); Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil; the Le Pen dynasty in France; Viktor Orban in Hungary. They are seeding the return of xenophobic, corporate fascism.

The corporate media would have us believe that this is the only kind of populism that exists.?But there is a rival populism, that of the left, and one that espouses cooperation and solidarity within nations and between them.

Jeremy Corbyn in the UK and Sanders in the US are the first shoots of a global reawakening of class-conscious politics based on solidarity with the poor and oppressed; of renewed pressure for a social contract, in contrast to the worship of survival-of-the-fittest economics; of a reclaiming of the commons, communal resources that belong to us all, not just the strongmen who seized them for their own benefit; and, most importantly, of an understanding, lost sight of in our industrialised, consumption-obsessed societies, that we must find a sustainable accommodation with the rest of the living world.

This kind of left wing populism has a long pedigree that dates back nearly 150 years. It flourished in the inter-war years in Europe; it defined the political battle-lines in Iran immediately after the Second World War; and it has been a continual feature of Latin American politics.

Warped logic

As ever, the populism of the nationalists and bigots has the upper hand. And that is no accident.

Today’s globalised wealth elite prefer neoliberal, technocratic politics that keep borders open for trade; that treat the labouring poor as human chattel, to be moved around on a global chess board as a way to force wages down; and that ensure the elite can stash its ill-gotten gains away on island sanctuaries far from the tax man.

But when technocratic politics is on its death bed, as it is now, the corporate elite will always settle for the populism of a Trump or a Farage over the populism of the left. They will do so even if right wing populism risks constraining their financial empires, because left wing populism does much worse: it upends the warped logic on which the corporate elite’s entire hoarded wealth depends, threatening to wipe it out.

If the corporate elite can no longer find a way to foist a neoliberal technocrat like Biden on the public, they will choose the populism of a Trump over the populism of a Sanders every time. And as they own the media, they can craft the stories we hear: about who we are, what is possible and where we are heading. If we allow it, our imaginations will be twisted and deformed in the image of the deranged totem they choose.

We can reclaim politics – a politics that cares about the future, about our species, about our planet – but to do so we must first reclaim our minds.

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Everybody Knows the Fight was Fixed http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/everybody-knows-the-fight-was-fixed/ Thu, 12 Nov 2020 06:50:38 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110794 Yeah, like [in] a church. Church of the Good Hustler. —?Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) in The Hustler, 1961 At the end of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A Doll’s House, Nora, the aggrieved wife, leaves her husband’s house and all the illusions that sustained its marriage of lies. She chooses freedom over fantasy.? She will […]

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Yeah, like [in] a church. Church of the Good Hustler.

—?Fast Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) in The Hustler, 1961

At the end of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A Doll’s House, Nora, the aggrieved wife, leaves her husband’s house and all the illusions that sustained its marriage of lies. She chooses freedom over fantasy.? She will no longer be played with like a doll but will try to become a free woman – a singular one.? “There is another task I must undertake first. I must try and educate myself,” she tells her husband Torvald, a man completely incapable of understanding the social programming that has made him society’s slave.

When Nora closes the doll’s house door behind her, the sound is like a hammer blow of freedom. For anyone who has seen the play, even when knowing the outcome in advance, that sound is profound. It keeps echoing. It interrogates one’s conscience.

The echo asks: Do you live inside America’s doll house where a vast tapestry of lies, bad faith, and cheap grace keep you caged in comfort, as you repeat the habits that have been drilled into you?

In this doll’s house of propaganda into which America has been converted, a great many of our basic assumptions are totally illusory.

Americans who voted for either Trump or Biden in the 2020 election are like Torvald clones.? They refuse to open that door so they might close it behind them.? They live in the doll’s house – all 146+ million of them. Like Torvald, they are comforted. They are programmed and propagandized, embracing the illusion that the electoral system is not structured and controlled to make sure no significant change can occur, no matter who is president. It is a sad reality promoted as democracy.

They will prattle on and give all sorts of reasons why they voted, and for whom, and how if you don’t vote you have no right to bitch, and how it’s this sacred right to vote that makes democracy great, blah blah blah. It’s all sheer nonsense. For the U.S.A. is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy run by the wealthy for the wealthy.

This is not a big secret.? Everybody knows this is true; knows the electoral system is sheer show business with the presidential extravaganza drawing the big money from corporate lobbyists, investment bankers, credit card companies, lawyers, business and hedge fund executives, Silicon Valley honchos, think tanks, Wall Street gamblers, millionaires, billionaires, et al.? Biden and Trump spent over 3 billion dollars on the election. They are owned by the money people.

Both are old men with long, shameful ?histories. A quick inquiry will show how the rich have profited immensely from their tenures in office.? There is not one hint that they could change and have a miraculous conversion while in future office, like JFK.? Neither has the guts or the intelligence.? They are nowhere men who fear the fate that John Kennedy faced squarely when he turned against the CIA and the war machine.? They join the craven company of Johnson, Ford, Carter, Reagan G.H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama.? They all got the message that was sent from the streets of Dallas in 1963: You don’t want to die, do you?

Ask yourself: Has the power of the oligarchic, permanent warfare state with its propaganda and spy networks, its vast intelligence apparatus, increased or decreased in the past half century? Who is winning the battle, the people or the ruling elites? The answer is obvious.

It matters not at all whether the president has been Trump or Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, Barack Obama or George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, or Jimmy Carter. The power of the national security state has grown under them all and everyone is left to moan and groan and wonder why.

All the while, the doll’s house has become more and more sophisticated and powerful. It is now essentially an electronic prison that is being “Built Back Better.” The new Cold War now being waged against Russia and China is a bi-partisan affair, as is the confidence game played by the secret government intended to create a fractured consciousness in the population through their corporate mass-media stenographers. Trump and his followers on one side of the coin; liberal Democrats on the other.

Only those backed by the wealthy power brokers get elected in the U.S.A. Then when elected, it’s payback time.? Palms are greased.? Everybody knows this is true. It’s called corruption.? So why would anyone, who opposes a corrupt political oligarchy, vote, unless they were casting a vote of conscience for a doomed third-party candidate?

Leonard Cohen told it true with? “Everybody Knows“:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

And yet everybody who voted for the two men backed by the super-rich owners of the country knew what they were doing, unless they live under a rock and come out every four years to vote.? Perhaps they were out buying stuffing for the Thanksgiving turkey, so they can give thanks for the farce (stuffing: Latin: farcire).

They have their reasons.? Now the Biden people celebrate, just as Trump’s supporters did in 2016.? I can hear fireworks going off as I write here in a town where 90% + voted for Biden and hate Trump with a passion more intense than what they ever could work up for a spurned lover or spouse.? This is mass psychosis. It’s almost funny.

At least we have gotten rid of Trump, they say.? No one can be worse. They think this is logic.? Like Torvald, they cannot begin to understand why anyone would want to leave the doll’s house, how anyone could refuse to play a game in which the dice are loaded.? They will deny they are in the doll’s house while knowing the dice are loaded and still roll the die, not caring that their choice – whether it’s Tweedledee or Tweedledum – will result in the death and impoverishment of so many, that being the end result of oligarchic rule at home and imperialism abroad.

Orwell called this Doublethink:

Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them…. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary.

And while in Nineteen Eighty-Four Doublethink is learned by all the Party members “and certainly by all who are intelligent as well as orthodox,” today in the U.S.A., it has been mastered even by the so-called unintelligent.

To live in the U.S.A. is to live in the Church of the Good Hustler.

People often ask: What can we do to make the country better?? What is your alternative?

A child could answer that one: Don’t vote if you know that both contenders are backed by the super-rich elites, what some call the Deep State.? Which, of course, they are.? Everybody knows.

The so-called left and right argue constantly about whom to support.? It’s a pseudo-debate constructed to allow people to think their vote counts; that the game isn’t rigged. It’s hammered into kids’ heads from an early age. Be grateful, give thanks that you live in a democracy where voting is allowed and your choice is as important as a billionaire’s such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Charles Koch. In the voting booth we are all equal.

Myths die hard.? This one never does:

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

— Inaugural Address, President Donald Trump, January 20, 2017.

With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal.?

— President Elect, Joe Biden, November 7, 2020.

Above all else, the time has come for us to renew our faith in ourselves and in America.? In recent years, that faith has been challenged.

— President Richard Nixon, Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1973.

Ask the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Afghanis, the Libyans, the Palestinians, et al. ?They sing a different tune, one not heard In the Church of the Good Hustler.

After campaigning hard for the losing presidential candidate in 1972, I nearly ?choked when I heard Richard Nixon’s inaugural address in January 1973. Clinging to the American myth the previous year, I had campaigned for a genuine anti-war Democrat, Senator George McGovern. The war against Vietnam was still raging and Nixon, who had been first elected in 1968 as a “peace candidate,” succeeding the previous “peace candidate” Lyndon Baines Johnson, was nevertheless overwhelmingly elected, despite Watergate allegations appearing in the months preceding the election.? Nixon won forty-nine states to McGovern’s one – Massachusetts, where I lived.? It was a landslide. I felt sick, woke up, got up, and left the doll’s house.

“Propaganda is the true remedy for loneliness,” wrote the French sociologist Jacques Ellul in 1965 in Propaganda:

It corresponds to the need to share, to be a member of a community, to lose oneself in a group, to embrace a collective ideology that will end loneliness…. It also corresponds to deep and constant needs, more developed today, perhaps, than ever before: the need to believe and obey, to create and hear fables, to communicate in the language of myths.

In a country where loneliness is widespread, the will to believe and the power of positive thinking are far more powerful than the will to truth.? Unlike Nora, who knew that when she left the doll’s house she was choosing the loneliness of the solitary soul, Americans prefer myths that induce them to act out of habit so they can lose themselves in the group.

This is so despite the fact that In the Church of the Good Hustler, when you play the game, you lose.? We are all Americans and your vote counts and George Washington never told a lie.

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Petitions, Probes and Rupert Murdoch http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/petitions-probes-and-rupert-murdoch/ Thu, 12 Nov 2020 05:39:32 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110798 Australia has given the world two influential and disruptive exports in the field of media.? One, currently in London’s Belmarsh Prison, is facing the prospect of extradition to the United States for charges that could see him serve a 175 year sentence in a brutal, soul destroying super max.? The other, so the argument goes, […]

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Australia has given the world two influential and disruptive exports in the field of media.? One, currently in London’s Belmarsh Prison, is facing the prospect of extradition to the United States for charges that could see him serve a 175 year sentence in a brutal, soul destroying super max.? The other, so the argument goes, should also be facing the prospect of incarceration for what he has done to politics in numerous countries.? But media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the gruesome presence behind Fox News and News Corp, is unlikely to spend time in a cell any time soon.? The same cannot be said for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.

Ingratiatingly, politicians have made the journey of pilgrimage to the not-so-holy Murdoch to keep in his good books.? Disgracefully, though motivated by perceived necessity, British Labour’s Tony Blair wooed Murdoch prior to the 1997 UK general election he was to win.? The victory for New Labour led to an association between Blair and Murdoch that was, according to former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil, “almost incestuous”.

Blair’s kowtowing did its magic.? As former deputy editor of The Sun, Neil Wallis, recalls in the first instalment of the documentary series The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty, he was flayed by Murdoch for initially running what he called a “fairly standard” front page on the election.? This was the same paper that boastfully declared on April 11, 1992, that, “It’s The Sun Wot Won It.”? Labour, then led by Neil Kinnock, was favoured in the polls to defeat John Major’s weary, dysfunctional Conservatives.? Murdoch, and his paper, would have none of it.? On election day, the paper’s headline bellowed: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights.”

By 1997, attitudes had changed.? Wallis recalls entering his office after editing the first edition.? Murdoch called: “Hated your paper this morning,” he raged.? “Two or three minutes later my door opens, Rupert comes up and says ‘you’re getting this wrong. You’ve got this totally wrong.? We are not just backing Tony Blair but we are going to back the Labour party and everything he does in this campaign 200%.? You’ve got to get that right.”

The paper’s endorsement for Blair followed but came with its pound of tantalising flesh.? Blair was required to write a puff piece for the paper promising a referendum should he wish Britain to embrace the Euro currency.? Former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, forever associated with the Brexit campaign and Murdoch worship, saw this intervention as crucial.? “The price of Rupert Murdoch’s support for Tony Blair was that Blair promised he would not take us into the European currency without a referendum, and if Rupert Murdoch had not done that we would have joined the Euro in 1999 and I doubt Brexit would have happened.”

In a 2016 study published in Social Science Research, the authors found that The Sun’s endorsement for Labour in 1997 led to a boost of support in the order of 7%.? In 2010, the same paper’s return to backing the Conservatives increased support by 15%.? Even if these figures were to be scaled back significantly, they would still suggest a degree of staggering influence.

It is precisely such power that has become something of an obsession for former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.? Rudd has never resiled from the view that Murdoch was directly responsible for his demise.? True, his own knife-wielding colleagues in the Australian Labor Party, addled by negative poll ratings, were happy to do the deed, but it was Murdoch who sang the tune of encouragement.? At the launch of his second volume of autobiography in 2018, Rudd claimed that Murdoch “is ideologically, deeply conservative, deeply protective of his corporation’s commercial interests and, therefore, prosecutes a direct agenda through his newspapers which I’ve been on the receiving end [of].”

Another former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, albeit from the conservative side of politics, is also convinced, having become something of a crusader against Murdoch and his foot soldiers.? On the ABC’s Insiders program, he warned of the costs accruing to Australia in permitting the dominance of Murdoch’s press imperium.? “We have to work out what price we’re paying, as a society, for the hyper-partisanship of the media.” He cast his eye to the United States “and the terribly divided state of affairs that they’re in, exacerbated, as Kevin [Rudd] was saying, by Fox News and other right-wing media.”

This had led to an alliance of sorts between the two men on this point, despite Turnbull’s previous description of Rudd as one of those “miserable ghosts” that haunt politics after the fact.? A wiser Turnbull understands Rudd that much better after his own party initiated a palace coup, leading to the ascent of Australia’s current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

While an online petition against the dominance of the Murdoch press imperium seems like peashooter stuff, Rudd’s initiative has gathered momentum.? His petition, now tabled in Australia’s Parliament, specifically calls for a royal commission “to ensure the strength and diversity of Australian news media.” Having received 501,876 signatures, it notes concern “that Australia’s print media is overwhelmingly controlled by News Corporation, founded by Fox News billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with around two-thirds of daily newspaper readership.”? Australians holding views contrary to the Murdoch line “have felt intimidated into silence.”? Adding to this such matters as the “mass-sackings of news journalists,” the stripping influence of digital platforms on media diversity, News Corp’s closure of 200 smaller newspapers after their acquisition and “relentless attacks on the ABC’s independence and funding”, the picture is bleak.

The petition’s tabling caused a flutter of interest in Parliament.? While Murdoch is unlikely to break out into sweat at efforts made by Australia’s politicians to investigate his reach of influence, any inquiry will be irritating.? Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is certainly hoping to cause a stir, having pushed members of the Senate to establish an inquiry into media diversity in response to Rudd’s petition.? “Australians have become increasingly concerned about the concentration of media ownership and the power and political influence of Murdoch.”? The Senator is also keen to see the two former prime ministers “speak frankly and have the protection of parliamentary privilege, which is important when you’re talking about issues of power and influence”.

Murdoch’s hirelings are ready.? Unfortunately for Hanson-Young, the News Corp imperium is skilled in camouflaging inertia against change with promises of activity.? The inquiry’s terms of reference are also shallow, omitting any reference to News Corp Australia while calling for an examination of the “state of media diversity, independence and reliability in Australia and the impact that this has on public interest journalism and democracy.”

News Corp Australia’s executive chairman, Michael Miller, was cool in his statement, noting that the company had participated in at least nine previous media inquiries.? “As always, we will continue to constructively engage in these important conversations.”? Murdoch will be hoping that the conservative Morrison government, and a good number of Labor opposition figures, will not go wobbly in preventing change.? History may well prove him right.? Again.

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“Playing for Time”: The Non-strategy of Mahmoud Abbas? http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/playing-for-time-the-non-strategy-of-mahmoud-abbas/ Thu, 12 Nov 2020 04:21:29 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110778 “If we are going to live another four years with President Trump, God help us, God help you and God help the whole world.” These were the words of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, during a virtual meeting with European legislators on November 3. While some may agree with Shtayyeh’s assessment, such utterances by […]

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“If we are going to live another four years with President Trump, God help us, God help you and God help the whole world.”

These were the words of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, during a virtual meeting with European legislators on November 3. While some may agree with Shtayyeh’s assessment, such utterances by a top Palestinian official are hardly reassuring.

This was not the first time that Shtayyeh used the phrase, “May God help us,” with reference to US President, Donald Trump. Nor were these the only instances in which the Palestinian leadership employed such inconsequential political discourse to counter Trump’s pro-Israel bias throughout his first term, allowing Tel Aviv to entrench its military occupation in Palestine, while denying Palestinians the meager financial handouts secured under previous political agreements.

In response to the Trump Administration’s announcement that it intends to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on December 6, 2017, followed by an American decision to cancel all US aid to the PA in August 2018, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, also called on God. “May God destroy your house,” Abbas exclaimed in a speech before the PLO’S Central Committee, while referring to Trump.

In January 2018, the Central Committee had been summoned for a meeting under the banner of “Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of the State of Palestine”. The urgency and the timing of this meeting indicated that Abbas was ready with a counter-strategy in response to Israel and the US’ ongoing violations, not only of international law but also of the Oslo Accords and all resultant agreements. Asking God to burn Trump’s house was hardly the strategy that Palestinians needed at the time.

Nearly two years have passed since Abbas delivered his absurd speech, yet no actual steps have been taken to ensure Jerusalem becomes the “eternal capital of the State of Palestine”.

If one is to review the Palestinian leadership’s strategy since Trump’s advent to the White House four years ago, one is left confused by the chaotic and unproductive nature of the Palestinian political discourse.

Still, four years were insufficient for the PA to change course, produce and champion a new political strategy that is not predicated on begging and pleading with Washington to return to the long-defunct ‘peace process’. Why?

Abbas’ ongoing dilemma is that his Authority and his very position as a ‘president’, were, themselves, an outcome of a US-sponsored political ‘vision’ in the region. Even the PA security forces were largely trained and funded by the US government. It would not be hyperbole to claim that the entire political lexicon according to which the PA has operated since 1994 – but especially since the start of Abbas’ leadership in 2005 – was predicated on American diktats and sustained by US dollars. Consequently, one can appreciate the impossible position in which Abbas and the Palestinian political elites found themselves when Washington cut them off politically and financially.

Without an alternative to Washington’s political involvement and generosity – however biased towards Israel –?the PA persisted in a state of suspended animation. Speech after fiery speech and statement after heated statement, Abbas wanted the Palestinians, and the rest of the world, to believe that the PA was progressing beyond Washington and its peace process. Ultimately, yet unsurprisingly, they went nowhere.

The state of arrested development that has afflicted Palestinian politics in the last four years can also be attributed to another factor: the hope that a Democratic presidency would eventually be restored; and only then, the ‘peace process’ gambit could return to business as usual. But the ‘let’s wait and see’ strategy was not supposed to last this long. The PA was assured by top Democratic Party officials that the Trump presidency would not last long.

In fact, around the time Abbas was calling on God to burn Trump’s house, the Palestinian leader was receiving assurances from former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, that, soon enough, all would return to normal. Abbas was told through a close associate, Hussein Agha – who met with Kerry in London in January 2018 – to “hold on and be strong.”

“Tell President Abbas,” Kerry conveyed to Agha, “that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump’s demands,” the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported at the time, a report that was confirmed by PA officials.

However, the former Secretary of State had not anticipated that the Trump Administration would last until the end of its term, that the US President would move forward with all of his threats, and that the so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ would attempt to revise the entire geopolitical map of the Middle East.

Yet, the PA hung on. Not only did it fail to formulate an alternative strategy, it even failed to unify the rank of Palestinian groups or follow a consistent political line that was followed by meaningful action. It merely ‘condemned’, ‘rejected’, and ‘criticized’, repeating old clichés and insisting on a ‘two-state solution’ that was never a serious or realistic option.

The PA remained politically paralyzed for four years in the hope that it would eventually return to the previous paralysis of the peace process under a Democratic administration. Such a befuddled agenda exposes the tragic state of Palestinian politics under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas.

Considering Washington’s military and economic influence, it is understandable that US politics matter on the world stage. However, it makes no sense for a government, any government, to hedge all of its bets on the outcome of US elections. In the case of Abbas’ PA, such a non-strategy reeks of desperation, while reflecting weakness and political bankruptcy.

To be deserving of such a title, the Palestinian leadership must wean itself off its total dependence on US validation and handouts. Judging by many years of blind and unconditional US support of Israel, no matter which party claims the White House, Washington will remain committed to Israel, funding its occupation and defending it at every turn.

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The Strange Demise of the American Herald Tribune http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/the-strange-demise-of-the-american-herald-tribune/ Wed, 11 Nov 2020 23:14:03 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110768 Many observers would agree that the biggest loser in the recent U.S. presidential election was not Donald Trump, it was the media. The news that was presented to the American public amounted to a tsunami of negative reporting on Donald Trump buttressed by opinion polls that turned out to be poorly executed and wrong by […]

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Many observers would agree that the biggest loser in the recent U.S. presidential election was not Donald Trump, it was the media. The news that was presented to the American public amounted to a tsunami of negative reporting on Donald Trump buttressed by opinion polls that turned out to be poorly executed and wrong by a huge margin. Some might argue that Trump got what he deserved as he was a bad candidate and a bad man, but the unwillingness of the media to pursue stories detrimental to Joe Biden, particularly the corruption surrounding son Hunter, demonstrated a reckless disregard for admittedly unpleasant facts that might have changed some votes.

As an honest media is essential to the proper functioning of a democracy the issue of the politicization of the Fourth Estate is perhaps more serious than who eventually wound up being elected. The degradation of the traditional media, exemplified by the shameful reporting on the Russiagate fiction, has unfortunately come at a time when the new media, i.e. the “internet” is also undergoing transformation. Though some Americans continue to believe that when they go “online” they will get a free flow of useful and factual information that will guide them in making decisions or coming to conclusions about the state of the world, they are increasingly finding only spin or misdirection.

The conceit that the internet would bring with it alternative viewpoints challenging the status quo might have been true to an extent twenty years ago, but the growth and consolidation of corporate information management firms has instead limited access to material that it does not approve of, thereby successfully shaping the political and economic environment to conform with their own interests, and, increasingly those of the federal government. Facebook, Google and other news and social networking sites now all have advisory panels that are authorized to ban content and limit access by members and threats from Washington about regulating the companies and their offerings keep everyone toeing the line.

The United States government, riding a wave of Donald Trump inspired complaints about fake news, has itself been increasingly engaged in suppressing viewpoints that it objects to. The first major attack on foreign media operating in the United States came in 2017, when Russian government news sites Russia Today (RT America) and Sputnik were compelled to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. U.S. intelligence agencies had stated in a January report that the stations, which broadcasts on cable and over radio in the United States, are part of “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine” and that they had contributed to the Kremlin’s campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential. That was of course untrue. Based on the report, the Department of Justice compelled RT America and Sputnik to register under FARA, which inter alia requires the disclosure of financial information.

The United States has moved to criminalize what it considers propaganda by foreign adversaries through its 2017 creation of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FTIF) in the bureau’s Counterintelligence Division. The Justice Department claim that both the Russian sites were agents of the Kremlin might appear to be fair enough, but it was noted at the time that many other government-supported foreign news services operate freely in the U.S. without having to declare themselves “agents” and the U.S. itself openly operates propaganda sites like Radio Free Europe overseas without any hindrance.

Since that time, Washington and the media have also been beating the familiar drum that foreigners are interfering in American politics, to include Russia, the Chinese, and the Iranians. In August a 77 page report produced by the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) on Russian internet based news and opinion sources was released. It claimed that the Russians were guilty of spreading disinformation and propaganda on behalf of the Kremlin. Its full title read “Understanding Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem” and it included a lead paragraph asserting that “Russia’s disinformation and propaganda ecosystem is the collection of official, proxy, and unattributed communication channels and platforms that Russia uses to create and amplify false narratives.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the New York Times is hot on the trail of Russian malfeasance, describing the report and its conclusions in a lengthy article “State Dept. Traces Russian Disinformation Links” that appeared on August 5. The Times described how the government report identified a number of online sites that it claims are actively involved in the “disinformation” effort. The Times article focuses on one site in particular that this author writes for, describing how “The report states that the Strategic Culture Foundation [website] is directed by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the S.V.R., and stands as ‘a prime example of longstanding Russian tactics to conceal direct state involvement in disinformation and propaganda outlets.’ The organization publishes a wide variety of fringe voices and conspiracy theories in English, while trying to obscure its Russian government sponsorship.” It also quotes Lea Gabrielle, the GEC Director, who explained that “The Kremlin bears direct responsibility for cultivating these tactics and platforms as part of its approach of using information and disinformation as a weapon.”

Russia has, of course, been falsely accused of supporting the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the existence of alternative news sites funded wholly or in part by a foreign government is not ipso facto an act of war or even particularly aggressive. Also, the claim that the Strategic Culture Foundation was and presumable still is a disinformation mechanism is overwrought. Yes, the site is located in Moscow and it may have some government support but it features numerous American and European contributors in addition to Russians. Its content is generally speaking antiwar and often critical of U.S. foreign policy but the contributors include conservatives, libertarians and progressives who write on all kinds of

subjects.

The latest attack by the U.S. government on an alternative media resource, involves the American Herald Tribune (AHT), which was launched as an alternative news site in 2015. Canadian Professor Anthony Hall, serves as the Editor in Chief of the site. Hall currently lives in Lethbridge Alberta Canada and is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Lethbridge. The name and internet domain base of the site were set up and initially funded by Iranians whom Hall had encountered on one of his several trips to Iran. The news site is admittedly highly critical of American foreign policy and of Israel, which also means that it is supportive of both Iran and Syria. It is strongly opposed to the United States initiating a war with the Iranians. Its contributors include myself as well as scores of writers from the Americas, Europe and Asia and articles have appeared on a wide range of topics.

AHT first came under pressure in February, based on a cyber-security report that alleged that the site was one element in a large disinformation network being run by the Iranian government. The story was picked up by CNN and the Washington Post, with a Post review of the CNN information claiming that though AHT masquerades as a self-professed “’genuinely independent online media outlet’ …cybersecurity experts have determined [it] is part of a far-reaching Iranian influence campaign. The strategy is simple: create a network of inauthentic news sites, then enlist associated accounts on popular platforms to spread the stories not only here but also in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. American Herald Tribune’s modus operandi matches what we’ve already learned about online disinformation: Adversaries ‘launder’ their campaigns through sympathetic citizens of target countries, or just citizens they offer money to — from authors on propagandistic or outright deceptive news sites to run-of-the-mill social media users.”

The cybersecurity company that wrote the damning report cited by CNN is based in California and is called Fire Eye. It reportedly has numerous contracts with the federal government and its assessment about the Iranian disinformation network provided nothing in the way of actual evidence nor did it actually name AHT, though there has been an independent unsupported claim that AHT was founded in Iran. Fire Eye also rated its “assessments” in the report as being presented with “moderate confidence.” In government-speak, that means that the conclusions are mostly speculative, not based on hard evidence, and do not require further action.

Prominent investigative journalist Gareth Porter has also described the social media censorship AHT has endured. His June report maintains that the FBI had encouraged Facebook, Instagram, and Google to remove or restrict ads on AHT specifically. In 2018, AHT’s Facebook page was deleted and its Instagram account was closed.

If the allegations regarding AHT’s role in a larger conspiracy sounds similar to the false charges made against Russia post 2016, they should, as they come out of the same script of “foreign interference.” The CNN coverage of AHT should have been seen as a warning that more was to come. On October 7 the Department of Justice took decisive action when it “…seized 92 domain names that were unlawfully used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to engage in a global disinformation campaign… According to the seizure documents, four of the domains purported to be genuine news outlets but were actually controlled by the IRGC and targeted the United States for the spread of Iranian propaganda to influence United States domestic and foreign policy in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and the remainder spread Iranian propaganda to other parts of the world. In addition, the seizure documents describe how all 92 domains were being used in violation of U.S. sanctions targeting both the Government of Iran and the IRGC. We will continue to use all of our tools to stop the Iranian Government from misusing U.S. companies and social media to spread propaganda covertly, to attempt to influence the American public secretly, and to sow discord…”

On November 4 the Justice Department seized an additional 27 alleged IRGC supported domains. The AHT was included in the seizures and the site is now down. All of AHT’s accumulated articles archived in the domain are also inaccessible.

What is happening here is an effort by the U.S. government to suppress any news source if it can be plausibly linked to a foreign government that is unfriendly. At the present time that basically means Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. To be sure, AHT publishes authors with dissenting views, who frequently criticize U.S. foreign policy towards Iran in particular and also regarding the Middle East more generally. But to make the case against AHT and the other alleged Iranian disinformation sites, the Justice Department had to claim that the funding for the network was coming from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Force, an organization that it has conveniently labeled as “terrorism supporting.” It is a tenuous argument on all levels, but the real damage being done is to the First Amendment right, Freedom of Speech. The ability of Americans in particular to obtain up-to-date and reliable information has been eroding for twenty years or more while the claim that “foreigners” providing alternative viewpoints to small audiences are destroying democracy is ridiculous as there is no evidence that anyone was radicalized by anything through what he or she was hearing or seeing. If Joe Biden’s administration continues to move in the same direction as Donald Trump and the mainstream media itself self-censors to go along with the charade, there will be very little freedom left when the next national election rolls around.

The post The Strange Demise of the American Herald Tribune first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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The Conspiracy Against Nuclear Energy: How Big Oil Built the Ecology Movement to Demonize Nuclear Energy Competition http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/the-conspiracy-against-nuclear-energy-how-big-oil-built-the-ecology-movement-to-demonize-nuclear-energy-competition/ Wed, 11 Nov 2020 19:46:49 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110775 Some skeptical questions Is nuclear energy safe? What can we do about the waste? What about Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima – don’t they prove that we can’t rely on nuclear reactors? Won’t a tiny amount of radiation kill you? Why are reactors so expensive to build with so many delays? Why don’t we just […]

The post The Conspiracy Against Nuclear Energy: How Big Oil Built the Ecology Movement to Demonize Nuclear Energy Competition first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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Some skeptical questions

Is nuclear energy safe? What can we do about the waste? What about Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima – don’t they prove that we can’t rely on nuclear reactors? Won’t a tiny amount of radiation kill you? Why are reactors so expensive to build with so many delays? Why don’t we just use renewables? Why don’t we just abandon dirty, wasteful industry and go back to the land?

These are some of the skeptical questions on the minds of progressives and even socialists. In this article I will try to answer them and make the case for a global program to replace fossil fuels with nuclear fuels in the interest of climate change mitigation and human well-being.

A promising start

Until the 1970s nuclear energy was generally recognized as the energy source of the future. Many industrial countries had started installing cheap, clean nuclear power plants to produce electricity. Although only 2% of electricity in the US was produced by nuclear power plants in 1970, they were already seen as an important alternative to the fossil fuel plants that dominated the market. In 1974, the far-sighted French government launched a program to diminish France’s reliance on imported petroleum by constructing nuclear power plants that today account for 75% of France’s electricity production. In the United States, President Eisenhower had in 1956 threatened King Saud of Saudi Arabia with disruption of oil markets by sharing nuclear technology with European countries.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: BIG OIL CREATES FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

The oil industry quickly acted to protect its market share. In 1969 Robert O. Anderson, CEO and founder of Atlantic Richfield Oil, made a gift of $200,000 (half a million today) to David Brower to create Friends of the Earth, which became the leading voice internationally in creating opposition to nuclear energy and spreading inaccurate information about it. Soon the Council on Foreign Relations and the mass media, both of which have ties to the petroleum industry, jumped on the band wagon. Rapidly, a propaganda campaign that exists to this day was put together to denigrate nuclear energy to Big Oil’s benefit. Even Hollywood helped out at a critical moment with the film “China Syndrome”.

The lesson from this bit of history is that we have been had by the same capitalists whose propaganda machine leads us into war, tells us every day that there is no alternative to their insanely anarchic economy, and lies systematically about all the socialist countries. Everything that you think you know about the dangers of nuclear energy is wrong. It is simply the outcome of an advertising campaign that trashes the competition.

WHAT DO NUCLEAR REACTORS DO BETTER THAN FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS?

Nuclear reactors provide clean electricity at a reasonable price. They do not pump pollutants into the air that kill millions of people every year. They do not produce greenhouse gases that aggravate climate change.

By replacing fossil-fueled electrical plants with nuclear, we can eliminate 27% of current US greenhouse gases. As I will explain later, we can’t do that with solar and wind, which require fossil-fueled or nuclear backup plants to cover their down times.

By converting to all electric vehicles, we can eliminate an additional 28% of US greenhouse gases.

By converting to all electric residential and commercial heat we can eliminate most of the 12% of US greenhouse gases from that source.

By satisfying industrial energy needs with nuclear-generated electricity we can eliminate a significant portion of the industry’s 22% contribution to US greenhouse gases.

HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS CONVERSION HAPPEN?

Capitalism cannot do the job

A conversion project of the magnitude described above is beyond the capabilities of the global capitalist economy in its current state of decay. A cut in petroleum product consumption in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the price of oil negative for a while, and it is currently selling below $40/barrel less than production costs for many producers. The first large victim of this relatively minor disturbance has been ExxonMobil, which Dow Jones no longer lists. Imagine the effect on the oil industry, in particular, and capitalist economies in general were a decision to replace petroleum with uranium to become policy. Every oil company would have to write down the value of its assets, oil in the ground and equipment, and rapidly declare bankruptcy. It would be necessary to artificially maintain oil production during the interim period until it is no longer needed.

Not only is private capitalist finance manifestly incapable of supporting projects on this scale, but nor do capitalist priorities – putting return on investment before all else – sufficiently value human well-being to put it before the scramble for profit. Although the US government was once able to launch a program to land a man on the moon, it is politically impossible to launch a similar program to massively convert to nuclear energy as the levers of power are completely compromised by the petroleum industry and the economy would face near certain ruin.

Nuclear power under socialism

However, a socialist economy has massively different priorities and is impervious to the capitalist drive for profits. The first and essential priority of a socialist economy is the betterment of living conditions for all humans. In practice, this means:

  • the elimination of poverty;
  • provide adequate food;
  • clothing;
  • shelter;
  • education;
  • healthcare;
  • transportation; and,
  • safety.

In a planned economy, the active population deliberates on what it needs to accomplish with the material and intellectual resources at hand. We have plenty of examples of this from socialist history.

From its beginning, the Soviet Union created a national healthcare system where none had previously existed. At the same time, its leadership recognized early on that it would be attacked and obliterated by the capitalist powers unless it could create a modern industrial economy and build the weaponry of modern warfare in time. As we know it made the necessary decisions and destroyed the invading German army in WWII.

Early after the revolution, poverty-stricken Cuba decided that literacy was a priority and with the help of its school children virtually eliminated illiteracy in the adult population. Cuba also made it a priority to create a first-class healthcare complex, not only for Cubans, but for any people in the world who need its help. We know what Cuba’s success in this area has done for the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In about 1980 the Chinese Communist Party decided to eliminate absolute poverty. Since then 800 million Chinese have been lifted from the lowest internationally recognized category of poverty, and the last few Chinese citizens will be raised from absolute poverty in 2020. Current projects that the Chinese people are working tt to include achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 and evolving toward a totally socialist economy in 2049, the centenary of the Chinese Revolution. Nuclear energy looms large in the plan to achieve carbon neutrality. The current plan is to increase nuclear electricity production to six times the current level by 2050 – from about 70GW to 400GW.

Never, to my knowledge, has a capitalist economy been able to plan for national goals, nor achieve them, except in war. The best capitalists can do is to plan for individual enterprises, or perhaps even a few related enterprises. Even in a country like Germany, which was well on the way to conversion to full nuclear-generated electricity, opposition capitalists were able to sabotage the plan. Now, German nuclear installations are being shut down and replaced with coal-fired plants.

LET’S REFUTE SOME FALSE CLAIMS ABOUT NUCLEAR ENERGY

What is ?

Radioactivity is the emission, spontaneous or induced, of particles from decaying atomic nuclei. The particles can be electrons, protons, neutrons, ionized light atoms such as helium, photons, neutrinos, or antineutrinos. All these decay products together are called radiation. Some of them are ionizing radiation, since they carry enough energy to knock electrons off atoms as they pass near them. The neutrinos, however, can traverse the entire earth and touch nothing.

Radioactivity is not harmful in small doses

There is a lot of mystery, misunderstanding, and outright obfuscation about radiation. Let us be clear. Radiation, like many other things we encounter in nature — snakes, cyanide, some mushrooms and plants, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) – can kill. This is a good thing. Radiation therapy kills cancers and saves the patient. It can also kill microbes and sterilize surfaces and foods. In large doses it can kill human beings. In small doses it is harmless.

In fact, you are being continuously bombarded with cosmic radiation and you are totally unaware of it. Radiation doses are measured in Sieverts (Sv). At sea level, you absorb about 0.1 micro Sv every hour of every day. At higher altitudes and during air travel, doses can be significantly higher — 2, 4, or even 9 micro Sv/hour. Cosmic rays account for about one tenth of the radiation that you absorb from nature. The rest enter your body from things you breathe in or eat, or things just around where you are. For example, by entering Grand Central Station in New York City, which is made of granite, you increase your radiation dose from the naturally decaying materials in the granite.

In our evolutionary history we have built up a certain degree of immunity

So, why haven’t you already died from radiation poisoning? Every living thing since the beginning of life on Earth has been subjected to all this natural background radiation. Every living species has ancestors who evolved mechanisms to repair radiation damage. Those species that didn’t don’t exist. Our species did. Congratulations to us. As a gift from our evolutionary forebears, we have natural immunity to a certain level of radiation.

How does a nuclear reactor work?

Nuclear reactors cause atomic nuclei to split in a controlled environment. When the nuclei split, they release energy in the form of moving atomic particles (atomic nuclei, protons, neutrons, electrons, etc.). Some of the neutrons go on to induce other nuclei to split. This is called a chain reaction. The other particles dissipate their energy, generating heat as they ionize atoms in the reactor. This heat is used to produce steam to turn electrical turbines. In the future, reactors still in the design stage may be able to perform other tasks such as generating hydrogen, producing reactor fuel, and neutralizing nuclear reactor waste products.

Why nuclear waste is not an uncontrollable danger

The simple truth is that nuclear reactors do not produce very much waste. After some months of operation, the fuel in a reactor is consumed. In order to sustain the reaction, uranium, for example, must be treated so that its fissile isotope, U-235, is concentrated (usually to 3-5%) to provide a sufficient number of targets to sustain the chain reaction.

An isotope is a nucleus with a specific number of neutrons. For example, U-235 has 92 protons, like all the different isotopes of uranium, but has 235-92 or 143 neutrons. Saying that the fuel is consumed means that the concentration of U-235 has fallen below the level necessary to maintain a chain reaction. There are still significant quantities of U-235 in the spent fuel, just not enough to do the job.

Fortunately, the spent rods can be recycled as raw material to produce new fuel rods. Another one of the byproducts of nuclear fission is the element plutonium, which can also be used as fuel in a reactor. At present the United States does not recycle spent nuclear fuel. However, France, the UK, Russia, Japan, and India do. In fact, France recycles waste for several European countries in its facility at La Hague on the Normandy coast. There is a very informative film about the La Hague facility here.

Other byproducts are just waste at our current level of technology. At some future time, they may turn out to be useful. If not, there may one day be reactors that can break them down into harmless material. In the meantime, these byproducts are embedded in glass pellets and stored.

What about nuclear accidents?

Well, there was the accident in 1979 at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, PA. A minor malfunction led, through a series of operator errors, to the partial meltdown of the nuclear core. At one time during the recovery process a small amount of radioactivity, well within the range of background radiation in the region, was released. During 17 years of monitoring, the Pennsylvania Department of Health found no deleterious effects on the health of the 30,000 people who lived near the reactor at the time of the accident. A lot of money was spent cleaning up the damaged reactor, while the other one on the site is in operation, certified until 2034. There is a detailed description of the accident and the aftermath here.

Fukushima: On March 11, 2011, a tsunami damaged three of five nuclear reactors at Fukushima, Japan. The three damaged reactors are a write-off. High levels of radioactivity were released to the environs at the time of the accident, but only insignificant amounts have been released subsequently. The local population was immediately evacuated and has suffered no deleterious effects from the radioactivity. Currently, some residents are being allowed to return. No deaths or injuries occurred due to the accident. A detailed report can be found here.

A great deal of radioactive water, used to cool the damaged reactor cores, has accumulated since the accident. It is stored on site after radioactive contaminants have been removed. One contaminant, tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, remains in the water. the Japanese government plans to dump the water into the ocean at the site. This decision has led to a great deal of adverse press, largely due to ignorance about what the contaminated water contains and the significance of the contaminant.

As tritium spontaneously decays into helium-3, a stable isotope, it emits a low energy electron. This particle can barely penetrate matter, so its ability to ionize, for example, human tissues is nearly negligible. However, in concentrated doses, it can be dangerous. No concentrated doses of tritium are stored at Fukushima. When the water is eventually dumped into the ocean, the tritium will be diluted to the point that the radioactivity will be hardly detectable at exit from the plant’s harbor. Here is an article about the current situation.

Chernobyl: In 1986 a reactor with a flawed design suffered a steam explosion. The accident was exacerbated by the presence of poorly trained staff. Twenty-eight people working at the plant died of acute radiation syndrome (ARS). Nobody off site suffered from ARS; however, some thyroid cancer deaths in people who were children at the time may have occurred.

In the area around Chernobyl 350,000 people were evacuated. Resettlement is ongoing, and it is possible to make tourist visits to the reactor site. A detailed report of the accident and the aftermath can be found here. As a condition for entering the European Union a number of countries have closed their Chernobyl-style reactors.

Nuclear construction projects so often incur cost overruns and delays in the US and Europe, but not everywhere

It is true that nuclear reactor construction in the United States has been plagued for years with cost overruns and long delays. Until recently, I thought that this problem was primarily political. Anti-nuclear activists, I thought, had thrown enough impediments, legal and regulatory, in the way that utilities were hamstrung in their efforts to build new nuclear capacity.

I recently discovered, to my surprise, in an article from Forbes Magazine that my assumption is wrong. It turns out that delays and costs are a problem in the US and Europe, but not in Asia and the Middle East. The article indicates that, according to a MIT study, the problem stems from poor project management:

  • Construction is begun before site design is complete;
  • Insufficiently committed management teams cannot adapt to changing conditions; and,
  • Supplies are unreliable and trained workers are lacking.

This last problem is a direct result of western lack of commitment to installing nuclear power plants in recent decades.

Why regressing to pre-industrial times will not work

What are we trying to achieve as we abandon fossil fuels? Clearly, we want to halt the climate change associated with increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. That said, what kind of society do we want once we no longer depend on fossil fuels?

In advocating in favor of nuclear energy over several decades, I have been struck by a remarkably na?ve line of argument. Radical environmentalists sometimes claim that humans are a blight or a cancer on the planet. Our industrial society, they say, is nothing but an assault on Nature, and we must return to a more natural, simple agrarian economy.

This cannot occur, and here is why. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1800, world population is estimated to have been between 800 million and 1.1 billion. Current world population is about 7.8 billion.

That increase in population is due, among other major achievements, to our success in defeating disease and hunger, increasing crop yields, providing safe drinking water, making possible moderately livable urban environments, creating a global division of labor, and neutralizing religious rejection of science and education. By continuing in this direction, world population will soon peak, and before the end of the century it will decrease to about 8.8 billion.

Were we to return to a pre-industrial life, the world population would have to decrease to a billion or fewer people. We cannot do that in a humane way. Furthermore, why would we want to?

Pre-industrial societies suffered from high infant mortality, for example. We would not be able to provide the energy-intense health environment to maintain current low infant mortality rates. We would not be able to maintain highly energy-intensive production of medications for otherwise mortal diseases for people of all ages. Life expectancy would severely decline. We would not be able to produce fertilizers and pesticides that protect crops and increase their quantity and quality. Famine would become commonplace, as it always has been in pre-industrial societies. We would have to abandon the use of electricity production, which depends on energy-intensive materials such as steel for both generation and transmission equipment. In any real and politically acceptable sense, there is no way to go back to a not so idyllic pre-industrial past. That leaves us the imperative to work out the political and technical means to achieve a sustainable industrial future.

Why wind and solar energy are not enough

In fact, there is not a single solar, wind, biomass or other “renewable” energy source capable of matching the power density that nuclear reactors provide. That means that any of these “green” options gobble up vast amounts of the earth’s surface simply for energy production, leaving less space available for, say, agriculture or natural habitats. What are the numbers? The best we can hope for is desert solar photovoltaic farms, which can produce electricity at the rate of up to 20W/m2. By contrast, both nuclear and fossil fueled plants achieve outputs in excess of 1000W/m2 — at least 50 times more power density than the best-case green solution. In practice, this means that some countries like Germany and the UK would need to cover half their area in wind turbines to supply energy at current consumption rates. Other industrial countries, Japan and South Korea, are too small to supply their own electricity needs. Both nuclear and fossil fuels can easily meet the density constraint, and nuclear energy meets it without greenhouse gas emissions.

There is no need to invoke the effects on the environment of massive electricity generation from low intensity solar and wind farms. Nor need we critique the short mean time between failures of these technologies, their short life span or the significant pollution problems caused by disposal of failed equipment.

CONCLUSION

In this article, I focus on the energy needs for a sustainable industrial future. Two criteria suffice to determine how to go forward:

  • We will need to be able to guarantee stable base-line electricity production for both home and industrial/commercial needs; and,
  • We will need to provide high temperature process heat for industry.

Today baseline electricity comes from a mix of fossil fueled generators (coal, oil, natural gas), hydroelectric facilities, and nuclear fueled reactors. To achieve sustainability, we will need to remove fossil fuels from this mix. Electricity generated by direct solar and wind energy cannot fill that gap. Quite simply, they are, and always will be, unreliable. When the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing, electricity production stops.

Process heat is today provided both by fossil fuels and electricity. For example, iron and steel production require high temperatures to purify and manipulate the final product. Both glass and ceramics require high temperature ovens. Production often continues around the clock and furnaces can be damaged or destroyed if the internal temperature drops. Because neither solar nor wind powered generators can meet this constraint, they are unsuitable.

In some cases, furnaces heated with fossil fuels can be replaced with electrical furnaces. Nuclear reactors are currently used as well. For information about this technology see this article.? In short, nuclear energy can replace fossil fuels both generating reliable base-line electricity and producing industrial process heat.

The upshot of our history of nuclear accidents is that they are uncommon, but can cost the utility owner a lot of money, and they rarely cause radiation injuries. The more we use nuclear reactors, learn from mistakes, and improve them, the fewer accidents will occur and the less significant they will be. That is the general history of the development of any technology. Consider, for example, what has occurred with automobiles and airplanes.

Remember Ford’s Model T? Probably not. You would likely have been terrified to ride in one. There were no seat belts or air bags. The windows were not shatter proof. There were hardly any paved roads. The steering wheel and front axle were held on with cotter pins! To complete the picture of how vehicle safety has improved as the technology evolved, look at the chart “Deaths and MV rates” here. The point is that for any technology, the same thing happens. As it is introduced, innovations make it work better with less danger to people who depend on it.

One word about airplane evolution: Charles Lindberg crossed the Atlantic with no navigation system other than the seat of his pants.

People often fear novelty and are easily manipulated to reject it. When I see the fear-mongering that the anti-nuclear movement carries out, I am reminded of an editorial in the New York Times. At the time of the debate about electrification in New York City, the Times ran a fear-mongering editorial claiming that power lines would collapse in the first storm, leaving electrocuted horses in the streets. No comment.

REFUTING FRIENDS OF THE EARTH PROPAGANDA ABOUT NUCLEAR ENERGY ?

Now that we have explained what nuclear energy is all about, let’s see what Friends of the Earth says today, half a century after it was created to crush the nuclear power industry.

After 60 years, despite massive subsidies, the nuclear industry is dying of its own accord.

— Not true. It is flourishing in Asia and provides much of the electricity in Western Europe.

Because it’s too expensive, too dangerous and dirty, and takes too long to deploy.?

— Not true. If you have read this article diligently, you can refute Friends of the Earth and their friends.

Reactors are closing across the country, and major corporations have declared bankruptcy.

— Misleading. Despite efforts of the petroleum industry and its allies like Friends of the Earth who have done everything they could to sabotage the nuclear power industry, nuclear reactors have supplied about 20% of US electricity since the late 80s. In order to do so, more reactors have had to come online to maintain that level as electricity demand has increased. Without The petroleum industry’s sabotage, nuclear reactors would probably provide an even greater proportion electricity today.

Nuclear power simply cannot compete against safer, cleaner and cheaper renewable energy.

— Not true. Nuclear power doesn’t need a backup energy source for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. In fact, nuclear energy provides the backup, when it isn’t a fossil fuel burning plant.

Nuclear power is also expensive.

— Not true. Whole countries depend on nuclear energy to supply their electricity. Some even sell their excess electricity to their neighbors at competitive prices.

Nuclear’s subsidies have been buried in hundreds of spending bills, it’s [sic] costs externalized to the environment and future generations, and its bills literally unpaid, defaulted on or passed to taxpayers. Conservative estimates suggest?that the nuclear industry has received more than $85 billion in subsidies. A centrist estimate might double that.

— So what? Go find out how much the petroleum industry receives in subsidies.? Spoiler alert: Lots. This is a feature of a capitalist economy that applies to every industry, even pork.

For 60 years, nuclear power has posed a serious risk to people and our planet.

— Not true. Friends of the Earth is confusing nuclear with the fossil fuel industries, whose pollution kills millions of people every year. Review the discussion of nuclear accidents.

It will be the same for the next 10,000 years. Our children and generations of their children will be forced to endure the radioactive pollution and fallout from devastating accidents like 3 Mile Island, Fukashima [sic] and Chernobyl, and the permanent waste that no one can safely store.

— Not true. Review the section on nuclear waste storage and recycling of nuclear fuel. Then take a guided tour to Chernobyl.

The risks of nuclear proliferation and the spread of dangerous weapons and technology only adds to this.

Partially true. Nuclear proliferation is a byproduct of capitalist warfare. Nuclear fuel cannot be used for nuclear weapons since the concentration of radioactive material is far too low. If capitalist nations want to build atomic bombs, they won’t use reactor fuel; they will directly enrich the materials they need.

This whole screed from the Friends of the Earth website reminds me of advertising. One soap manufacturer insinuates that his competitor’s product leaves a ring around your collar. If you are na?ve enough to fall for it, you buy his product. At the beginning of this article, we reviewed the role of Robert O. Anderson, CEO of Atlantic Richfield Oil, in providing the money to create Friends of the Earth. He gave about half a million current dollars for this advertising campaign in 1969. Boy, has he gotten his money’s worth!

? First published in Planning Beyond Capitalism

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Stop Press: No Left Turn http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/stop-press-no-left-turn/ Wed, 11 Nov 2020 17:27:21 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110750 When one is stuck in traffic with an old car, in my case a 1962 Mercedes diesel, with no power anything, and merely 45 bhp to deal with younger cars, there is no temptation to aggressive driving. Despite the fact that a Mercedes is a classic man’s car, there is no machismo with a vehicle […]

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When one is stuck in traffic with an old car, in my case a 1962 Mercedes diesel, with no power anything, and merely 45 bhp to deal with younger cars, there is no temptation to aggressive driving. Despite the fact that a Mercedes is a classic man’s car, there is no machismo with a vehicle that tops at 120 km/h. However, what driving such a car makes obvious is just how few good drivers there are on the road despite, or perhaps because of, the advances in automotive technology.

Today’s drivers take no note of safety intervals or speed limits because they do not know what a braking distance is. Modern technology has bred something like autism, not only through contaminated vaccines, as a state of culture. Dementia is also not confined to the aged but clearly is a kind of lifestyle now.

For the last four years people writing, also in these pages, have reiterated ad nauseam the chant that the reigning POTUS is “the worst ever” in addition to other insults disguised as political analysis. As I wrote in 2017, what these people truly mean is that Donald Trump says what they really think but would not dare to say. He also speaks the language of ordinary power — not his but the power that the Anglo-American ruling elite can muster from the heartland — with its killer Iowa farm boys — to the urban metropolises on either coast with their thousands of underpaid, overambitious scriveners serving every segment of the American Dream machine — from Right to farthest Right. The Left in the US was killed off, banned or exiled by 1974. Everything else under that banner is mere sentimentality.

As the so-called Left — in that sense Mr Trump was only using domestic terminology — set out to prove, together with the sponsorship of other government agencies, that indeed a coup d’etat was possible without a US Embassy, it became apparent — at least from RoW — why the US Empire will never be ended by Columbia’s progressives.

I could go into far greater detail but I have written enough over the past years to explain myself.

Here I would like to highlight the most grievous moments of dishonesty. As I noted above people who sit in modern motor vehicles and believe that their road travel is driving are deluded. They cannot even hear their engine. They do not feel the speed. They are not able to detect the differences between their own cocoon on wheels and the rest of the environment with its diversity.

Since the AP presumed to declare the victor in this year’s POTUS contest, everyone from the FT to the usual “leftie” writers that post here, blatantly disregards the US Constitution and the election laws in force. Even in the 19th century there was an instance where the Electoral College chose a candidate who had not obtained the majority of the popular vote.1 That is a legal risk of the fundamental law that the so-called “Left” has yet to change. The reigning POTUS has every right to remain in office and to exhaust every remedy to assert his claims — by no means irrational or unjustified given the four years of uninterrupted threats by his opponents to use any means to remove him — that what was no doubt the greatest single electoral fraud in US history is tried and duly adjudicated.

I find the word hypocrisy weak because it suggests that the people who say one thing and do another are engaged in a petty offense. I do not believe that the “Left” of which I write here is hypocritical. Rather they believe as little in law or democracy as those whom they oppose. The adamance with which on one hand Mr Trump’s charges are dismissed and on the other hand simultaneous apologies are given for the fascists who dominate the Democratic Party (personified in the Bush-Clinton gang) shows, or ought to show, that what presents itself as “Left” or “progressive” in the US (and among their foreign friends) is just the low budget imperialism with which German Social Democrats supported the slaughter of World War I.

I could name names. However, I just had lunch and that would only add to my dyspepsia.

If those who feel they have overtaken the “worst person” on the road that ends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are already celebrating, they should recall that in the course of four years Mr Trump has survived even impeachment proceedings. The campaign against Mr Trump did not increase the number of Democratic Party hacks in Congress, but reduced it.

Perhaps I am too obsessed with slow moving vehicles and historical comparisons. However, it is worth recalling that the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and Jim Crow. It was a Democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, who extended Jim Crow to the federal civil service and assured its enforcement in the military. It took a war the US started in Korea and nearly lost (that war is also not yet over) to force an otherwise segregationist Democratic POTUS to order integration of the US military. It was the Democratic Party that dominated the corrupt urban political machines that suppressed Black and immigrant voters in the North and ran the Klan in the South. It was the Democratic Party that defeated Radical Republicans, ended Reconstruction and perpetuated the racist system in the US for another century.

So where these people who look to the Democratic Party get the nerve to claim any decency at all escapes me. Some poignant remarks from Malcolm X come to mind:

It isn’t a president who can help or hurt; it is the system. And this system is not only ruling us in America, it is ruling the world. Nowadays, when a man is running for president of the United States, he is not running for president of the United States alone; he has to be acceptable to other areas of the world where American influence rules. … the shrewd capitalists, the shrewd imperialists knew that the only way people would run toward a fox would be if you showed them a wolf.2

I can only conclude that those who revel in the supposed defeat of Donald Trump are like those drivers in new technology-saturated cocoons to which I initially referred. They have no sense of speed, or safety intervals, braking distances or even how the machine in which they sit actually operates. They do not understand the electoral mechanics and have no respect even for the formal legal structures — they have never been able to change and hence are equally obliged to accept.

They are irresponsible, reckless drivers who should never be trusted on the roads to democracy — anywhere.

  1. Note: In the 1876 US Presidential election Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote against Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. Hayes was elected by the electoral college. In 1888 Democrat Grover Cleveland won the popular vote against Republican Benjamin Harrison but lost in the electoral college.
  2. Meeting of the Pan-African magazine Présence Africaine, 23 November 1964.

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The Job is Done, Corbynism is Defunct http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/the-job-is-done-corbynism-is-defunct/ Wed, 11 Nov 2020 16:25:14 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110756 The job is done, Corbynism is defunct, and now Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is coming for all of those who were close to him. What of Emily Thornberry? She’s keeping quiet.

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The job is done, Corbynism is defunct, and now Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is coming for all of those who were close to him. What of Emily Thornberry? She’s keeping quiet.

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Hologram Daddies and Posthumous Molestation http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/hologram-daddies-and-posthumous-molestation/ Wed, 11 Nov 2020 06:24:40 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110746 “I can’t even describe what this meant to me and my sisters, my brother, my mom and closest friends to experience together.”? So remarked Kim Kardashian West with thanks and appreciation for a hologram of her father, Robert Kardashian, who died in 2003. The hologram of one of O.J. Simpson’s defence attorneys was a gift […]

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“I can’t even describe what this meant to me and my sisters, my brother, my mom and closest friends to experience together.”? So remarked Kim Kardashian West with thanks and appreciation for a hologram of her father, Robert Kardashian, who died in 2003. The hologram of one of O.J. Simpson’s defence attorneys was a gift from husband and unsuccessful presidential aspirant Kanye West, a visually striking effort, yet implausible.? The figure does speak of being “a proud Armenian father” but the factor of implausibility is enhanced by Kanye’s own scripting and contribution.? With indulgence, the hologram tells Kim Kardashian in no uncertain terms that she “married the most, most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world, Kanye West.”

Human beings can find it hard to part with their dead.? The departed and gathered are revisited, reconstituted and even repurposed.? In some particularly disturbing instances, their bodies are dug up again, subjected to trial, and punished.? Oliver Cromwell, responsible for the execution of the Stuart king Charles I in 1649, was exhumed and posthumously executed, along with several regicides, in 1661.? By then, the Sceptred Isle had been re-sceptred with the return of Charles I’s son.? In monarchical restoration, revenge was sought by disgruntled royalists.

The famed diarist Samuel Pepys notes the wish to revisit these bodies of perpetration in an entry from December 4, 1660.? “This day the Parliament voted that the bodies of Oliver, [Henry] Ireton, [John] Bradshaw, &c., should be taken up out of their graves in [Westminster] Abbey, and drawn to the gallows, and there hanged and buried under it: which (methinks) do trouble me that a man of so great courage as he was, should have that dishonour, though otherwise he might deserve it enough.”

While Kanye West’s treatment of his spouse’s dead father is not quite in this league of extreme treatment, his efforts to hologram the dead did constitute a form of interference.? It was certainly an appropriation.? From the world of the deceased, these citizens are dredged up to serve roles for the living.? Digital ethicist Per Axbom is particularly perturbed about the issue of rights and control in this process. “Even if a person gives their consent to being used as a hologram, is it even possible for this to be an informed consent?”? To grant such consent might end up producing a hologram “expressing phrases or sentiments that are not part of their belief or value system.”? The hologram as puppet; the real self potentially lost.

Kanye West’s holographic excursion was hardly the first.? Resurrecting dead performers has become a feature of a music industry with an eye to continuing sales.? Life may be short, but art is long and potentially profitable.? In 2012, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg entertained a crowd at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with a resurrected Tupac Amaru Shakur.? As Aaron Dodson described it, “A computer-generated Tupac made his proclamation to the crowd of 80,000. It raised his arms to roars before he began to perform his posthumous 1998 single ‘Hail Mary’ and the 1996 hit collaboration with Snoop, ‘2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.’”

The late Whitney Houston has also come in for some posthumous molestation by death tech.? In 2019, a deal was struck between the singer’s estate and music marketing company Primary Wave Publishing.? The contents of the agreement included plans to produce a Broadway musical, release previously unheard tracks and run a Whitney Houston hologram tour.? Pat Houston, the singer’s former manager, sister-in-law and manager was adamant.? “The hologram has taken over everything.”? Salivating over prospective sales, she admitted that the estate “was looking to resuscitate her reputation.”

Despite being affected by cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, An Evening with Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour did make a jerky start.? “If you close your eyes it’s possible to bask in the voice and the unadulterated joy of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ and ‘How Will I Know’,” came the assessment from The Guardian after a February showing at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.? “But when you open them, it is deeply unsettling.”? Unsettling, too, given how the lines “no matter what they take from me, they can’t take my dignity” jarring awkwardly, as the review claims, “with the sense of a ghoulish cash in.”

The ethical troubles of recreating such figures have not escaped the notice of those engaged in the process.? An Amy Winehouse hologram tour was put on hold largely because of the suspicions of one of the actresses involved in its production.? This was certainly not due to any concerns of Mitch Winehouse, who insisted the hologram project would render his late daughter more authentic. It was “a chance to show the real Amy, through hologram” and would portray her “at her best”.

According to the Los Angeles actress in question, left unnamed in GQ, she mistakenly assumed she was auditioning for a role in a biopic of the English singer. Auditions followed.? No lines were given.? Body measurements were taken; numerous photographs made.? She was furnished with YouTube videos of live performances of Winehouse singing “Valerie” and “Rehab” with instructions to “replicate this performance and really hone in on Amy’s nuances.”

Suspicion was kindled. By the third audition, she asked one of the employees on whether it had anything to do with the Amy Winehouse tour.? “He just shut it down and didn’t want to talk about it.”? It was a revelation: she had been auditioning as Winehouse’s body double.? Martin Tudor, an employee of the company behind the production, Base Hologram, explained the steps. “We start with a body double who works closely with our director to choreograph the performances and we take the results of that and go to work on it digitally.”? As the actress observed, “Amy wasn’t treated like a human being when she was alive and this is treating her even more like a show pony.”

The dead are for the taking, at least in a digital sense.? Companies are being founded to feed holographic demand.? “Have you ever wished you had some tangible memory of a passed loved one?? Yearned to see your parents or grandparents one more time?”? So claims Artistry in Motion, with a promise to “offer high wealth clientele the opportunity to create lasting life legacies and powerful impressions.”

To such manipulations can be added the overall refurbishing of reality posed by the Deepfake phenomenon.? Using Artificial Intelligence technology, the creator remains a controlling deity, doctoring the world, augmenting it, as it were, from news anchors to pornography. Neither the dead nor the living have been spared.? There is money to be made and history to be revised.

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The War is Over … GloboCap Triumphs! http://www.uueaaf.icu/2020/11/the-war-is-over-globocap-triumphs/ Wed, 11 Nov 2020 05:46:30 +0000 http://www.uueaaf.icu/?p=110740 Okay, so, that was not cool. For one terrifying moment there, it actually looked like GloboCap was going to let Russian-Asset Hitler win. Hour after hour on election night, states on the map kept turning red, or pink, or some distinctly non-blue color. Wisconsin … Michigan … Georgia … Florida. It could not be happening, […]

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Okay, so, that was not cool. For one terrifying moment there, it actually looked like GloboCap was going to let Russian-Asset Hitler win. Hour after hour on election night, states on the map kept turning red, or pink, or some distinctly non-blue color. Wisconsin … Michigan … Georgia … Florida. It could not be happening, and yet it was. What other explanation was there? The Russians were stealing the election again!

But, of course, GloboCap was just playing with us. They’re a bunch of practical jokers, those GloboCap guys. Naturally, they couldn’t resist the chance to wind us up just one more time.

Seriously, though, while I enjoy a good prank, I still have a number of liberal friends, many of whom were on the verge of suffering major heart attacks as they breathlessly waited for the corporate media to confirm that they had successfully voted a literal dictator out of power. (A few of them suffer from IBS or other gastrointestinal disorders, so, in light of the current toilet paper shortage caused by the Return of the Apocalyptic Plague, toying with them like that was especially cruel.)

But, whatever. That’s water under the bridge. The good news is, the nightmare is over! Literal Hitler and his underground army of Russia-loving white supremacists have been vanquished! Decency has been restored! Globalization has risen from the dead!

And, of course, the most important thing is, racism in America is over … again!

Yes, that’s right, folks, no more racism … kiss all those Confederate monuments goodbye! The Democrats are back in the White House! According to sources, the domestic staff are already down in the West Wing basement looking for that MLK bust that Trump ordered removed and desecrated the moment he was sworn into office. College kids are building pyres of racist and potentially racist books, and paintings, and films, and other degenerate artworks. Jussie Smollet can finally come out of hiding.

OK, granted, they’re not going to desegregate liberal cities or anything crazy like that, or stop “policing” Black neighborhoods like an occupying army, or stop funding schools with property taxes, but Kamala Harris is Black, mostly, and Grampa Joe will tell us more stories about “Corn Pop,” the razor-wielding public-pool gangster, and other dangerous Black people he hasn’t yet incarcerated, so that should calm down all those BLM folks.

In the meantime, the official celebrations have begun. Assorted mass-murdering GloboCap luminaries, government leaders, and the corporate media are pumping out hopey-changey propaganda like it was 2008 all over again. Pundits are breaking down and sobbing on television. Liberal mobs are ritualistically stomping Cheetos to the death in the street. Slaphappy hordes of Covidian Cultists are amassing outdoors, masks around their necks, sharing champagne bottles and French-kissing each other, protected from the virus by the Anti-Trump Force Field that saved the BLM protesters last Summer. It’s like V-Day, the fall of the Berlin wall, and the bin Laden assassination all rolled into one!

All of which is understandable, given the horrors of the last four years, the concentration camps, the wars of aggression, the censorship, the CIA murder squads, the show trials, and all that other dictator stuff. On top of which, there was all that white supremacy, and that anti-Semitism, and that horrible wall that transformed America into an “apartheid state” where people were imprisoned in an open-air ghetto and gratuitously abused and murdered. (Whoops, I think I screwed up my citations … maybe double-check those links.)

But let’s not dwell on all those horrors right now. There will be plenty of time for all that later, when Donald Trump is hauled into court and tried for his crimes against humanity, like all our previous war-criminal presidents.

No, this is a time for looking ahead to the Brave New Global-Capitalist Normal, in which everyone will sit at home in their masks surfing the Internet on their toasters with MSNBC playing in the background … well, OK, not absolutely everyone. The affluent will still need to fly around in their private jets and helicopters, and take vacations on their yachts, and, you know, all the usual affluent stuff. But the rest of us won’t have to go anywhere or meet with anyone in person, because our lives will be one never-ending Zoom meeting carefully monitored by official fact-checkers to ensure we’re not being “misinformed” or exposed to “dangerous conspiracy theories” which could potentially lead to the agonized deaths (or the mild-to-moderate flu-like illnesses) of hundreds of millions of innocent people.

But let’s not count our chickens just yet. As much as you’re probably looking forward to life in the Brave New GloboCap Normal, or the Great Reset, or whatever they end up calling the new pathologized totalitarianism, it isn’t a fait accompli quite yet … not until Russian-Asset Hitler has been thoroughly humiliated and removed from office, and anyone who voted for him, or didn’t believe he was literally Hitler, or a Russian asset, or who otherwise refused to take part in the mindless, corporate-media-generated Anti-Trump Hate-Fest, has been demonized as a “racist,” a “traitor,” an “anti-Semite,” a “conspiracy theorist,” or some other type of “far-right extremist.” That’s probably going to take another couple months.

I’m pretty certain the plan is still to goad Trump into overreacting and trying to resist his removal from office. And I do not mean just in the courts. No, after all the money, time, and effort that GloboCap has invested over the last four years, they are going to be extremely disappointed if he just slinks away without going full-Hitler and starting a Second Civil War.

As I’ve been saying, over and over, since he won the election, GloboCap needs to make an example of Trump to put down the widespread populist rebellion against global capitalism and its ideology that started back in 2016. And no, it doesn’t make any difference whether Donald Trump is actually a populist, or whether people realize that it is global capitalism and not “Cultural Marxism” that they are rebelling against.

According to the script, this is the part where Trump refuses to respect “democracy” and has to be forcibly dragged out of office by the Secret Service or elements of the military, ideally “live” on international television. It may not end up playing out that way (Trump is probably not as dumb as I think), but that’s the Act III scenario for GloboCap: the “attempted Trump coup,” then the “perp walk.” They need the public and future generations to perceive him as an “illegitimate president,” a “usurper,” an “intruder,” an “imposter,” an “invader” … which, he is. (Being rich and famous does not make you a member of the GloboCap Power Club.)

The corporate media are already hard at work manufacturing this version of reality, not only in the content of their “reporting,” but also with the unbridled contempt they are showing for a sitting president. The networks actually cut him off in the middle of his post-election address. The Twitter Corporation is censoring his tweets. What could possibly be more humiliating … and indicative of who is really in charge?

Meanwhile, the GloboCap propaganda has reached some new post-Orwellian level. After four long years of “RUSSIA HACKED THE ELECTION!” … now, suddenly, “THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ELECTION FRAUD IN THE USA!”

That’s right, once again, millions of liberals, like that scene in 1984 where the Party switches official enemies right in the middle of the Hate-Week speech, have been ordered to radically reverse their “reality,” and hysterically deny the existence of the very thing they have been hysterically alleging for four solid years … and they are actually doing it!

At the same time, the Trumpians have been reduced to repeating, over and over, and over, that “THE MEDIA DOES NOT SELECT THE PRESIDENT,” and “BIDEN IS NOT THE PRESIDENT ELECT,” and other versions of “THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING.”

I hate to rub salt into anyone’s wounds (particularly those whose faces are currently being stomped on by GloboCap’s enormous boot), but, yes, this is actually happening. Second Civil War or no Second Civil War, this is the end for Donald Trump. As Biden and the corporate media keep telling us, we are looking at a “very dark winter,” on the other side of which a new reality awaits us … a new, pathologized, totalitarian reality.

Call it the “New Normal,” or whatever you want. Pretend “democracy has triumphed” if you want. Wear your mask. Mask your children. Terrorize them with pictures of “death trucks,” tales of “Russian hackers” and “white supremacist terrorists.” Live in fear of an imaginary plague (or perhaps a non-imaginary plague if that “very dark winter” comes to pass). Censor all dissent. Ban all protests. Do not attempt to adjust your telescreen. Click on the link to join the Zoom meeting. Have your password and your identity papers ready. Watch your pronouns. Get down on your knees. It’s GloboCap Fucking über Alles!

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