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The Demon Drink and Cricket Sponsorship

A strong tone of temperance has characterised discussions about Australian cricket of late. The tone got somewhat more excited with the announcement that Cricket Australia, after two decades, would end its relationship with Carlton and United Breweries, producer of Victoria Bitter.

A veritable whoop of delight could be noted through medical and activist circles: a chance to get a new sponsor, perhaps?  An opportunity to get on the puritan water wagon?  The Royal Australasian College of Physicians president Catherine Yelland was one of the gloomier preachers insisting that Cricket Australia do right by health and morality.  “It is well and …

Immigration: No Easy Answers

The cross border flood of millions of immigrants provokes profound political divisions, violence and the rise of mass movements challenging the unity of the European Union (EU) and the survival of the dominant political parties in the US and Europe.

Both the progressive pro-immigrant and right-wing anti-immigration parties and movements propose easy answers and attack their adversaries with political invective.

Both left and right engage in a losing war, based on historical omissions, abstract and muddle-headed assumptions and …

The West is becoming Irrelevant: The World is Laughing

I was recently told by an Asian friend of mine who is working in Paris:

Lately I stopped following almost all that is happening politically in the United States, in the UK and even here in France. It all feels suddenly so irrelevant, a waste of time.

Statements like this would be unimaginable only one decade ago. In the past, what came from Washington and (to a smaller extent) from London was monitored with great attentiveness and fear all over the world.

But all of a sudden, things have begun to change, rapidly. Despite the extremely violent nature of the Western-designed-and-manufactured global regime, …

“Decolonizing the Mind”: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam

When Terry Holdbrooks Jr., converted to Islam in 2003, he was inundated with death threats and labeled a ‘race traitor.’

If a religious conversion ever deserves to be admired, Holdbrooks’ conversion does, and not because Islam has ‘won’ yet another convert, but because the new convert was assigned the very rule of subjugating his Muslim prisoners.

Yes, Terry Holdbrooks was a US army employee entrusted with guarding Guantanamo detainees.

The Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo, held for years and tortured without due process and in violation of the most basic tenants of human rights and international law, mostly subsisted on faith.

I had …

China’s Great Leap Forward: Western Frogs Croak Dismay

Introduction

From their dismal swamps, US academic and financial journal editorialists, the mass media and contemporary ‘Asia experts’, Western progressive and conservative politicians croak in unison about China’s environmental and impending collapse.

They have variably proclaimed (1) China’s economy is in decline; (2) the debt is overwhelming; a Chinese real estate bubble is ready to burst; (3) the country is rife with corruption and poisoned with pollution; and (4) Chinese workers are staging paralyzing strikes and protests amid growing repression – the result of exploitation and sharp class inequality. The financial frogs croak about China as an imminent military threat to the …

Peter Tosh’s Resistance against Racism, Apartheid and Settler-Colonialism

March 21 was the 57th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre that was carried out by the South African apartheid regime against protesting Africans in 1960. This protest was organized by the liberation organization, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). It targeted the pass law of the settler-colonial regime that regulated the movement and residential pattern of the indigenous Africans. International opinion was so outraged by the murderous behaviour of the apartheid system that the United Nations’ General Assembly was inspired to declare March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD).

Whenever we …

Trudeau’s Oil Views Spur African Famine

Today the lives of over 10 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk due to a drought at least partly caused by climate change. A study by Britain’s Met Office concluded that human-induced climate disturbances sparked a famine in Somalia in 2011 in which over 50,000 died. For its part, the Climate Vulnerability Monitor estimated in 2012 that climate change was responsible for some 400,000 deaths per year, a number expected to hit one million by 2030.

To mitigate this downward spiral radical action is needed. Instead, here is what Justin Trudeau told oil …

The Conspiracy Against President Trump

March 20, 2017: Listening today to the broadcast of testimony by FBI Director Comey and National Security Agency Director Admiral Michael Rogers before the House Intelligence Committee (an oxymoron) made it clear that the Democrats, Comey, and Rogers intend conflict with Russia.

The Republicans, for the most part, were interested to know how security leaks targeted at Trump Republicans came from meetings at which only the CIA Director, NSA Director, and FBI director were present. Of course, they did not get an answer, which shows how powerless congressional oversight committees are. Comey repeatedly said that he could not tell the committee …

The Adventures of a Peace Corps Volunteer in India Fifty Years Ago

Review of David Macaray's book, How to Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows: Weird Adventures in India Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims - When the Peace Corps was New

Every Peace Corps Volunteer has a near-death story. For David Macaray, supplementing his diet of curry and rice with a ball of opium did the trick.

But not to worry. Had he died, he wrote, “Our mothers and fathers would have received the obligatory telegram from the State Department: ‘Dear Parent: [stop] Your son ate opium, passed out, and set house on fire. [stop] He is deceased. [stop] Details to follow.”

Fifty years later, one wonders if Macaray, in a fit of nostalgia, ingested a bit of opium while organizing this sometimes heartbreaking but mostly hilarious book. Because it’s not really a …

Immigration: Gateway for Cheap Labor and Deliberate Disunity

A dear lawyer friend of mine for nearly 60 years recently posted a Facebook comment lamenting President Trump’s new, tightened immigration policy, saying that “immigration made America great.” My wife and I will be visiting him and his wife not long after this essay is published. It is, in effect, a long response to his lament, but I am leaving out here any elaboration on what I will also say to him, “Jim, face it, America has never been great.”

The land yet named “America,” after first being set afoot by voluntary immigrants thousands of years earlier, was subsequently touched for …

The Korea Problem

This is What Democracy Looks Like

The United States and its allies have embarked on a dangerous path of aggression against the government of North Korea and its allies China and Russia.

As usual, the western propaganda system presents a near unified front showing how horrible and atrocious the North Korean government is purported to be, and how murderous and ruthless and amoral their intentions are purported to be, and how their military objectives and missile programs — now allegedly targeting the “free” world–are out to dominate the rest of the world, starting with their deadly missiles being launched against the United States and our ally Japan. …

What Is Objective Journalism?

'Just The Facts, Ma'am'

So what is objective, impartial journalism?

The standard view was offered in 2001 by the BBC’s then political editor, Andrew Marr:

When I joined the BBC, my Organs of Opinion were formally removed.

And by Nick Robinson describing his role as ITN political editor during the Iraq war:

It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking… That is all someone in my sort of job can do.’

‘Just the facts, …

Portugal, the EU and the Euro: Interview with João Ferreira

Part 2 of a 2-part series

Mural at the Communist Party headquarters in Lisbon
The European Union is in turmoil. Years of crisis and brutal austerity have had terrible social consequences, especially in peripheral countries. In Portugal a change of government after the 2015 legislative elections brought an end to the previous troika-imposed austerity and even a reversal of some policies. But structural problems persist due to the nature of the EU and its mechanisms, particularly the single currency. To discuss the political situation in Portugal, the consequences of entering the single market and …

Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen

This week at the Voices for Creative Nonviolence office in Chicago, my colleague Sabia Rigby prepared a presentation for a local high school. She’ll team up with a young friend of ours, himself a refugee from Iraq, to talk about refugee crises driven by war. Sabia recently returned from Kabul where she helped document the young Afghan Peace Volunteers’ efforts to help bring warmth, food and education to internally displaced families living in makeshift camps, having fled the Afghan War when it raged near their former homes.

Last year Sabia had been visiting with refugees in “the Calais Jungle,” who …

It’s Year Zero A.C. (After Correa)

An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?

On April 2 Ecuador will choose a new president. For the first time in a decade, Rafael Correa’s name will not be on the ballot. After ten years in office, Correa is stepping down from the presidency and, however temporarily, stepping away from politics.

The two candidates, Lenin Moreno and Guillermo Lasso, have radically different agendas. Moreno is Correa’s former vice president and designated successor. He would continue Correa’s center-left social programs for the poor and the infrastructure, despite the country’s ongoing economic crisis. Lasso, a banker, has pledged to reduce taxes, cut spending and return the country to its …

Portugal, the EU and the Euro: Interview with João Ferreira

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

Mural at the Communist Party headquarters in Lisbon
The European Union is in turmoil. Years of crisis and brutal austerity have had terrible social consequences, especially in peripheral countries. In Portugal a change of government after the 2015 legislative elections brought an end to the previous troika-imposed austerity and even a reversal of some policies. But structural problems persist due to the nature of the EU and its mechanisms, particularly the single currency. To discuss the political situation in Portugal, the consequences of entering the single market and …

First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump

With the hullabaloo about Trump and fascism, it is useful to review Hitler’s first months in power to get a sense of a real fascist regime.

Hitler came to power January 30, 1933, Trump on January 20, 2017, making easy a chronological comparison of their lead ups to power and their first months in power. The comparison shows how silly and hysterical it is to claim Trump represents fascism.

Hitler did not take power by entering into the primaries of a German version of the Republican Party. In complete contrast to Trump, he built, controlled, and ran under the banner of his …

Why Are Norwegians So Happy?

With apparently nothing more challenging to do with its time, the UN, since 2012, has been publishing an annual list of the happiest countries in the world.  The document is cheerfully titled, “The World’s Happiness Report.”  Not surprisingly, its 2017 findings place Norway at the head of the pack, followed closely by last year’s winner, Denmark.

Although such lists are always going to be accused of being grossly subjective or unfairly skewed, the six broad categories in which citizens of 154 countries were asked to assess themselves are: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, income, and good governance.

The 2017 top ten countries, all …

Israel’s New Travel Ban

Dear Israeli Government:

You’ve recently banned foreigners who support boycotts against Israel or Israeli settlements from being allowed to enter Israel – even Jewish foreigners, a first for the self-proclaimed Jewish state After all, your “Law of Return” has allowed (and encouraged) Jewish foreigners to freely immigrate to Israel, even as multitudes of Palestinians have been banned from returning to their homes.

People throughout the Western world have objected in outrage to your new law, particularly Jewish Westerners who have family and connections in Israel from whom they’ll be cut off in retaliation for their political positions.

Critics, even some who oppose boycotting Israel …

The Dead Don’t Rest

Han Kang’s Human Acts and the Gwangzu Uprising

South Korean author Han Kang has written two short novels translated into English in the past five years. In a time of global social movements for liberation like the mid-20th century, they would doubtless have been considered part of the literature of socio-political engagement. In the dyspeptic early 21st century, in the Age of Consequences that is now dawning, they are instead examples of what I would call a “literature of mourning.” What they are mourning for is the ever-less tenable idea that humanity is engaged in an irreversible process of triumph over its most destructive qualities.

Booker Prize winner The