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The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Death of the Republic

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.    — Article IV, Section 4, US Constitution

A republican form of government is one in which power resides in elected officials representing the citizens, and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law.

In The Federalist Papers, James Madison defined a republic as “a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people . . . .”

On April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that would override our republican …

Europe’s Feeble Efforts to “Punish” Israel

The question of punishing illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory was considered separately in Europe and Israel last week, with only superficial differences in the conclusions reached. Israel’s near half-century occupation is in no immediate danger, either at home or abroad.

Some 16 European foreign ministers sent a letter to the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, calling for the EU to label clearly Israeli settlement products to alert shoppers to their true provenance.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s former finance minister who is widely regarded as a moderate, angrily phoned Mogherini to warn that major European states were calling for a “de …

Ziad Aziz: “Time is not on Our Side”

April 24th, 2015, Twelfth Anniversary of a US Travesty of Justice

Vincent Nichols, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, is spiritual leader of the four million Catholics of England and Wales. He was also elevated to Cardinal on February 22nd, 2014, receiving the Cardinal’s red hat from Pope Francis in Rome’s St Peter’s Basilica. He has been cited as a man: “not afraid to speak out when he feels compelled to do so.”

He has indeed railed against “punitive” welfare cuts, calling them a “disgrace”, he has spoken in defence of Catholic masses for gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics and has come under attack for defending Irish priests and nuns who had abused children …

Professors for Israel try to Shut Down Lancet

Academia is far from the bastion of free thinking and free speech it would like to claim for itself, as a newly confected “row” involving the leading medical journal The Lancet confirms.

Recently Southampton University in the UK caved in on hosting an important conference examining Israel and international law, following an intensive campaign of intimidation from Israeli apologists.

Now some 400 medical professors are blackmailing Reed Elsevier, publishers of The Lancet, by threatening to boycott its publications unless the company sacks editor Richard Horton – or as they duplicitously phrase it, “enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship”.

By refusing to publish papers or peer review them, the professors, …

Tesla Tackles Global Warming

Somebody’s gotta do it!

Meanwhile, America’s Congress ignores one of the biggest problems of all time, global warming/climate change. America’s entrepreneurs know better. They’re not waiting for Congress to fiddle whilst the planet burns.

American ingenuity, in the hands of Tesla Motors Inc., is taking on global warming head on. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, is risking a fortune to make a fortune with renewable energy. And, yes, he’s in it for profits, not as a benefactor to “Greenies,” but who really cares if he sets in motion an unstoppable nationwide renewable revolution.

In that regard, America is about to witness one of …

The Future of Solidarity

The future of solidarity in Catholic social teaching provides the basis for a human rights policy that grants priority to the claims of people whose human dignity is threatened by systemic and structural injustice. This development has been supported by the inclusion of Marxist analysis. In a world that is constantly assuming new organizational institutions, the rights and dignities of persons are still at risk. Consequently, solidarity in both Catholic and Marxist notions prioritize institutional protection and human rights. David Hollenbach, S.J. states:

Thus, since Vatican II, the documents have emphasized the importance of discriminating (or discerning) attention to the differences

What Should French People Do about “post Charlie” National Unity ?

Interview with Saïd Bouamama

In 2010, Saïd Bouamama co-writed the book Fuck France with Saidou from the ZEP group. After its release, an extreme right-wing association pressed charges for incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence. In January 2015, shortly after the freedom of speech defense “march,” Saïd Bouamama and Saidou appeared before the Court of First Instance. Saïd Bouamama, a sociologist specializing in discrimination towards the popular class’ immigrants, analyzes the context of the post Charlie French society.

Michel Collon: In which context did the book that lately brought you to the District Court of Paris did emerge? And for what reason?

Saïd Bouamama: The book …

Privatizing Public Services

The basic conservative movement has never altered its views. It has always been based on the domination of society by an aristocracy, but its approach has varied to suit the times.

Since the ascendency of Reagan conservatism, that aristocracy is increasingly measured by money and power, cementing both with a redistribution of wealth from middle class to the rich. Policy in a 21st century world embedded with democratic principles required changes in voting allegiance. With a government remake and the election of conservative allies in government, the first goal is to release any union constraints on private industry, which then …

The Lesson of Hacking Team’s Malware

Mass Surveillance Is Driven By The Private Sector

Yet another report has surfaced describing how tools created by the malware-industrial complex are being deployed by U.S. security services. While the coverage surrounding this story focuses primarily on federal agencies it’s important to step back for a moment and view the big picture. In particular, looking at who builds, operates, and profits from mass surveillance technology offers insight into the nature of the global panopticon.

A report published by Privacy International as well as an article posted by Vice Motherboard clearly show that both the DEA and the United States Army have long-standing relationships with Hacking Team, an …

Making History and Building a Future in the Nevada Desert

On March 26, I was in Nevada in my role as event coordinator for Nevada Desert Experience, preparing for the annual Sacred Peace Walk, a 65-mile trek through the desert from Las Vegas to the nuclear Test Site at Mercury, Nevada, an event that NDE has sponsored each spring for about 30 years. Two days before the walk was to begin, a car load of us organizers traced the route.

The last stop but one on the traditional itinerary is the “Peace Camp,” a place in the desert where we usually stay the last night before crossing Highway 95 into what …

Turkey Commemorates 1.5 Million Armenians Killed in a Terrible Accident in 1915

After a century of denial, the government of Turkey has finally expressed solidarity with what it calls “the Armenian tragedy” of 1915.  “It was a traumatic experience,” acknowledged Turkish spokesperson E. Bulent Sbendokter.  “There’s hardly a family without loss.  We Turks want Armenians to know that we feel their pain.”  I persuaded him to give me an interview.

Barb Weir: Why do you call the death of so many people a tragedy and not a genocide, Mr. Sbendokter?

E. Bulent Sbendokter: Because it was tragic, Ms. Weir.  Is it not appropriate to call something tragic a tragedy?

BW: But why do you avoid describing it …

Are “Bible Churches” Biblical?!

With a new election cycle now in its early stages, Jeffrey Tayler has observed:

Aspirants to the White House, both Democratic and Republican, have, as we all know, begun “announcing,” thus initiating, from a rationalist’s point of view, a media carnival featuring, on both sides, an array of supposedly God-fearing clowns and faith-mongering nitwits groveling before Evangelicals and nattering on about their belief in the Almighty and their certainty that if we just looked, we could find answers to many of our ills in the Good Book.

The “Good Book” in question is, of course, the (Christian) Bible, and …

The Myth of “Value-Free” Social Science

Or The Value of Political Commitments to Social Science

For many decades, mainstream social scientists, mostly conservative, have argued that political commitments and scientific research are incompatible. Against this current of opinion, others, mostly politically engaged social scientists, have argued that scientific research and political commitment are not contradictory.

In this essay I will argue in favor of the latter position by demonstrating that scientific work is embedded in a socio-political universe, which its practioners can deny but cannot avoid. I will further suggest that the social scientist who is not aware of the social determinants …

Capitalism and an Increase in the Minimum Wage

Across the United States, the campaign for raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars is gaining momentum. From cities such as traditionally left wing Olympia, Washington, to more moderate Atlanta, Georgia, activists are pushing for better wages- and they’re starting to win the debate.

But will a higher minimum wage really change that much for the average American? It’s unlikely unless the struggle is broadened beyond the scope of the minimum wage in the United States. To explore this further, let’s start with a hypothetical future scenario of the results of the domestic struggle.

Once the groundswell of activism in …

One Billion at COP21

Just imagine the impact, the feeling, the awe-inspiring circumstance of one billion people all standing for the same purpose on the same day. Yes, that is the goal of The Billion People March, coming this December 19th. Don’t miss it.  The world has never ever experienced such a spectacle. One (1) out of every seven (7) people on the face of the planet will attend. History will be made. #BILLIONPEOPLEMARCH.

The story line for that upcoming yet-to-be-famous march is: “We change the course of history.”

It’s all about COP21 (Conference of the Parties 21), the greatly anticipated Paris gathering of the nations, …

No Marx Again!

I note with some disappointment but no real surprise that Edward Martin and Mateo Pimentel, the authors of “Revisiting Marx and Liberalism” have not responded to my article, “No Marx!” which challenged their contention that for Marx, Socialism was the first stage of Communism.

Given that Mr Pimentel is a long-term member of S.P.U.S.A., the Socialist Party U.S.A., it’s no wonder that confusion reigns when it comes to his and his co-author’s view of Marx in respect of a future post-capitalist society.

Mr Pimentel’s Party favours, “a classless socialist society that places people’s lives under their own control… where …

The Sherri Shepherd Case: One More Reason to Ban Commercial Surrogacy

The actress, author, and businesswoman Sherri Shepherd, currently on The View, lost her court battle today over the custody of her surrogate-born son. She and her soon-to-be former husband Lamar Sally, a scriptwriter, had been embroiled in an odd custody and support battle involving a child born to a surrogate they hired.

Shepherd and Sally entered into a 23-page contract with Jessica Bartholomew to serve as a gestational surrogate for them, using a purchased egg. The three faced off in court over the custody and financial responsibility for the baby boy named Lamar Sally Junior.

Unlike other disputed surrogate agreements, this …

Wealth Destruction for the 99.9 Percent

Blaming the 1% for diminished prosperity avoids the real reasons for designed poverty. In round terms, the seven billion souls that populate this planet translate into seventy million to be part of the 1%. Well, that amount is still a very large number to blame for the systemic transfer of riches into the hands of the few. A far more relevant approach is to examine the .001% or around seven million that fall into the mover or shakers of asset and possessions. Before targeting this group of mega wealth, that figure includes a very significant number, who are non players …

Who Are the Starving and Besieged Residents of Yarmouk and Why Are They There?

There are many illusions about what is happening to the Yarmouk district of Damascus and its Palestinian refugee population. The district was originally set aside in 1957 for Palestinian refugees already living there, whom Israel had expelled from their homes in 1948, with periodic additional populations thereafter. Today it is home to around one million Syrians and Palestinians, of whom the Palestinians number roughly 170,000. Palestinians in Syria have all the rights of Syrian citizens except voting, and in Yarmouk their homes are indistinguishable from those of the Syrian residents.

Starting in 2012, armed elements trying to overthrow …

Plan Colombia and Beyond

In conjunction with many geopolitical interests, general stability and prosperity in the Western hemisphere (i.e., the stratification and disparity in wealth) have kept Latin America, in Washington’s eyes, ripe for free trade and economic alignment. There exist unimaginable caches of resources, such as Venezuela’s oil stores, which could foreseeably feed into America’s global capitalist system over the course of its now decline. Hence the free trade agreements and America’s subversive efforts throughout the region. Additionally, the United States floats weak states with military aid when it is advantageous. And, as for nonaligned groups who resist and defend their sovereignty and/or …