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Why This Isn’t the Time for a Public Option or Medicare for Some

This has been a tumultuous week for healthcare reform. First there was the pleasantly quick defeat of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon. Then, that evening, Senator Sanders spoke at a town hall in Vermont with Senator Pat Leahy and Representative Peter Welch where he announced that he would introduce a Medicare for All bill. Medicare for All and Bernie supporters lit up social media with their excitement over the announcement. This should have been great news, but it wasn’t exactly.

Over the weekend, more information was revealed in a series of …

Disaster As Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes

If the building starts to break up, protect yourself w[sic] mattresses, rugs etc under strong table or hold onto solid fixture.

— Queensland Ambulance, Twitter, March 28, 2017

Townsville, North Queensland — The eerie sense that something is about to happen, with unsolicited fulsome vicious force was hard to avoid.  There is a pregnant sense in the air, the pre-moisture in the winds that tease the leaves, caress the branches with harshness, the palm leaves bending painfully in worship before a divine storm.

Whilst sultry, the air is dry enough to suggest that the cyclone is short of breath, free of moisture. No …

Letter to the World Anti Doping Agency and International Olympic Committee

Regarding the McLaren Report and the Politicization of Doping in Sports

Russian track and field athletes, plus the entire Paralympics team, were banned from the Rio Games last summer.  This was based on the first McLaren report commissioned by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA).

The second McLaren Report was published in December 2016 and immediately accepted by the western media and political establishment as “proof” of the accusations about institutional corruption and doping conspiracy in Russia.

The following “open letter” is a critical review of the second McLaren Report and accusations of ‘state sponsored doping’  in Russia which have been promoted in the West. 
*****
To: WADA President Sir Craig Reedie

Universal Basic Income: A Fast Track to Precariousness

Would the universal basic income (or universal allowance) be the miracle reform that reduces social inequalities and relieves millions of people from the threat of poverty? Both the right and left find things to like about the idea. Socialist Party candidate Benoît Hamon made the universal basic income a flagship proposal for his program for the upcoming presidential elections. Manuel Valls (ex-Prime Minister) and Marine Le Pen (extreme right and National Front candidate) are also in favor. Surprising? To better understand what the stakes of this apparently progressive proposal …

The Deep State As Fake News

The deceptive nature of the concept of a “deep state”; the state is knowable if enough time is spent studying it; 70 years of fake news; Central Intelligence operates illegally and unaccountably; how the CIA has corrupted the system; egregious crimes committed by Central Intelligence globally; did CIA initiate an intelligence coup against an elected president?; does the President of the United States run the CIA, or does the CIA run the President?; the Phoenix Program as a bureaucratic and structural model for Central Intelligence and Homeland Security; organizational …

Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote

On March 24, after two weeks of frustrating contract talks, negotiators for the WGA (Writers Guild of America) notified the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) that, because the talks were stalled, they had no choice but to ask their 12,000 members to give them strike authorization.  It was a bold move.

As sparklingly glamorous and self-absorbed as Hollywood’s entertainment business is, when it comes to contract negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA (or the DGA or SAG-AFTRA), they’re depressingly similar to those between, say, a group of pipefitters and welders and the IAM (International Association of Machinists).

The …

A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers

Never before in the history of the human species has climate set so many spine-chilling new records as last year, 2016. That dire assessment comes via analysis of the World Meteorological Organization’s (“WMO”) annual report dated March 21, 2017, prompting a thought: Does a wildly out of control climate threaten lifestyle and/or life as we know it?

The answer is a resounding yes it does! It’s just a matter of time.

Still, nobody knows for certain, meaning 100%, whether an out of control climate is truly life-threatening or not (it is a new experience, so nobody knows what to expect), but on …

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 …