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Post-America and the Death of Exceptionalism

Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door.

— Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

It was almost three years ago, that red letter day for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In huge red letters, as a matter of fact. (1) Jerry Sandusky, an erstwhile football coach and inspirational leader and advocate of disadvantaged youth, was jailed for life several times over. (If you had at that time picked up a newspaper, watched television news or attended a water-cooler conversation during the previous six months, you needn’t having been told …

No Arab Bolivars

As Region Implodes, Arab Socialism Fizzles Out

A student group recently asked me to address socialism in the Arab world, with the assumption that there is indeed such a movement that is capable of overhauling inherently incompetent and utterly corrupt regimes across the region. But, of course, no such group, or configuration of socialist groups exist today, but in name.

I recall a talk I delivered in London soon after Hamas was placed under siege in Gaza in 2007. “Hamas is the largest and most effective socialist movement in Palestine,” I said to the surprise of some and the agreeing nods of others. Of course, I was not …

No Entrance: Baseball, Baltimore Style

What if they played a professional baseball game, but excluded the public? Sound Kafkaesque? Welcome to Baltimore, 2015!

To close a baseball game to the public and lock the fans out is representative of the state of “democracy” in the United States today. The Baseball Czars decided that playing to rows of empty seats was more important and consistent with “American values” than having an actual baseball game. First, Baltimore issued a curfew for the citizens of the city; then they closed their schools; and then they closed the ballpark.

Well, who is baseball for, anyway? Certainly not for the fans. The …

Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance

Rejecting the Framework of the Oppressor

Anti-Black racism, always just beneath the surface of polite racial discourse in the U.S., has exploded in reaction to the resistance of black youth to another brutal murder by the agents of this racist, settler-colonialist state. With the resistance, the focus shifted from the brutal murder of Freddie Gray and the systematic state violence that historically has been deployed to control and contain the black population in the colonized urban zones of North America, to the forms of resistance by African Americans to the trauma of ongoing state violence.

The narrative being advanced by corporate media spokespeople gives the impression that …

Money Matters

It’s very reassuring that more people are slowly learning how our monetary system really works: if you want to fix something, you need to know a bit about it. The indefatigable Ellen Brown has been hugely helpful in this regard with her regular well-informed and easy-to-read articles that relentlessly confront the myths of capitalist monetary theory. Her early work Web of Debt is an authoritative account of something that everyone should know about and understand; and if everyone were to read just one book on the subject that should be it: if everyone clearly understood the lessons of Ellen’s work …

Israeli City Revives Historic Mission to Keep Out Arabs

Established decades ago to "Judaise" the Galilee, Upper Nazareth fights back as Arabs from surrounding communities try to buy homes

For nearly 60 years, the historic city of Nazareth has been living with an unwelcome neighbour.

Upper Nazareth was built on Nazareth’s confiscated lands on the orders of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion. It was part of an official campaign to “Judaise” the only Palestinian city to survive relatively unscathed from the 1948 war.

But if Upper Nazareth and its Jewish residents were supposed to overwhelm the Galilee city that, according to the Bib`le, was home to Jesus, it has largely failed.

A far greater danger, admit Upper Nazareth’s officials, is that their small city now risks being overrun by the …

Boston School Bus Drivers Battle Racism and Privatization

The unique approach of Boston School Bus Union, Steelworkers Local 8751 offers a much needed new blueprint for building power within poor and working class communities. This particular union marks the spot where organized labor meets oppressed and marginalized people where they are. During my travels there, it was quite inspiring to see a local union work hand in hand with neighborhood youth against police brutality. It was quite encouraging to see the rank-and-file of the Boston school bus drivers work with parents and community members to organize against school closings and badly timed budget cuts to public …

Big Wine Fails to Dry Farm During California’s Relentless Drought

SONOMA COUNTY — in the heart of California’s Redwood Empire — California Governor Jerry Brown spent this year’s Earth Day at the elite Iron Horse Winery in the Sebastopol countryside. It was a great photo opportunity and promotion for the winery. Iron Horse is known for donations to President Bill Clinton and other politicians, with whom it has cozy relationships, and from whom it receives favors, such as these visits. I operate a small berry and apple farm nearby and teach sustainable agriculture, mainly to college students.

“Hope Amid Drought” headlined the April 20 pro-wine industry daily Press Democrat’s (PD) …

Can We be Neutral on the Question of Affirmative Action in the Hiring of University Professors?

“Affirmative action” means imposing positive discrimination or quotas for members of disadvantaged groups. In the case of a university department, it means imposing a hiring practice designed to select more candidates from disadvantaged groups.

One view is that the tenured professors of the academic department should have total professional independence to select the most qualified candidates in their area of knowledge, without government or administrative interference. The idea here is that they have the knowledge and experience to best select candidates, and that it is most desirable for society that the most talented teachers and researchers be selected.

In the 1960s this …

Obama, Corporate “Free Traitors,” and You!

The pro-big business President Barack Obama and his corporate allies are starting their campaign to manipulate and pressure Congress to ram through the “pull-down-on-America” Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and foreign investment treaty between twelve nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam).

The first skirmish is a fast track bill to have Congress formally strip itself of its constitutional authority to regulate trade and surrender this historic responsibility to the White House and its corporate lobbies.

Lest you think the TPP is too commercially complex to bother about, think again. This mega-treaty …

Behind Every Refugee Stands an Arms Trader

The refugees in the Mediterranean

The European Union members states are trying to look as if they are doing something serious to care for the poor, catastrophe-stricken people who flee from war zones to Europe under the most risky and inhuman conditions.

Apart from the lack of genuine humanism and compassion and the cynical intention to uphold the ”deterrence” factor – other features surround these tragic events.

Refugees and migrants

In various media reports and political statements the word ”refugee” is increasingly being replaced by ”migrant” – hardly just a coincidence given the fact that the number of refugees, internally displaced …

The Central Role of Israel in the U.S. State Religion

The national secular religion of this country consists of a cluster of rarely questioned premises, usually inculcated in childhood, comparable to the articles of a real religious creed.

The first proposition is the idea that we live in a “free” country, as symbolized by the Statue of Liberty idol that towers over New York City’s harbor. The system absolutely insists on this point, incessantly hammering it in. It’s its basic tenet. Indeed it’s presented as “self-evident.” You’re in this country, ergo, you are FREE.

It’s inflicted by osmosis. Every institution transmits it. Those who doubt it are encouraged to think they must …

The War on ISIS is a Farce

Nowhere in recent years have the contradictions of imperialism been so clear than in the West’s war against ISIS. Working people are bombarded with messages in the media of the worldwide threat of ISIS, with the aim of the messages to convince working people of the need to sacrifice their civil liberties and democratic freedoms to counter ISIS and to support more military interventions in the Middle East. If Barack Obama, David Cameron, Tony Abbot, and other Western leaders were truly interested in countering the threat of ISIS, perhaps they should follow Stephen Harper’s “strong leadership” by finding the nearest …

One Week: Three Lessons on the Exclusivity of Exceptionalism in America

In the week beginning April 20, 2015, the American people got three object lessons about equal treatment and the stratification of status in the twenty-first century.

Three events in the week beginning April 20, 2015, show convincingly that the American promise of national and global societal justice is a lie. They specifically show that in this new American century, one’s economic status, access to power, and place of birth determine one’s access to human rights and equal protection under the law. Any illusions to the contrary are just that.

The separating of people into groups in which the privileged few look at …

A Fly’s Eye View of America’s War Against Vietnam

Part Two: In the Ointment

In 1966, the US anthropologist Jules Henry wrote in The Nation:

The establishment throughout Southeast Asia of industrial complexes backed by American capital is sure to have a salutary effect on the development of our foreign involvement: the vast land’s cheap labour pool will permit competition with the lower production costs of Chinese and Japanese industry, which have immobilized our trading capabilities in Asia for many years… The destruction of the Vietnamese countryside is the first, and necessary step, to the industrialization of Vietnam and the nationalization of its agriculture.

Henry’s assessment of US Asia-Pacific policy was quite …

Saudis Try Yemen Peace Initiative: For More Than an Hour

US-sponsored war crimes resume as Yemenis fail to give up their country

While the US publicly plays Pontius Pilate washing his hands clean, the Saudi-led coalition of Arab police states continue to enjoy US support for their one-sided war. The same Arab dictatorships that continue to wage aggressive war with impunity against a defenseless Yemen have, at the same time, scaled back on fighting the militant Islamic State despite its hold on large parts of two other Arab countries, Syria and Iraq. Seriously, why fight someone who might …

Indonesia: The Banality of Executing Drug Convicts

No One is Facing a Firing Squad for Looting the Country

Indonesia, the country which did not earnestly punish one single top military brass for the genocides in East Timor and not one single person for horrendous and ongoing genocide in Papua, is now ready to execute another nine people for drug trafficking. In January 2015 it already slayed six drug convicts including five foreigners, sparking international indignation.

AFP reported:

“Indonesia on Sunday signaled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon.

Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight — from Australia,

Adult Students Please Get Real

You have been had.

You can’t see the obvious.

When the obvious is stated, you viscerally reject it, or fain being deaf.

Stated as plainly as I can manage:

You are workers in a controlled economy. The educational and service-professional sectors are integrated parts of the same system of extraction of your intellectual labour. If you withdraw your labour, the system grinds to a halt. This means you have real leverage to extract fair working conditions.

You should be salaried for your school work. The points of negotiation need to be the amount of salary, the working conditions, and your participation …

Argentina: A Case Study of Israel’s Zionist-Wall Street Destabilization Campaign

A recent article by Jorge Elbaum, the former executive director of DAIA (Delegation for Argentine Jewish Associations), the principle Argentine Jewish umbrella groups, published in the Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12, provides a detailed account of the damaging links between the State of Israel, US Wall Street speculators, and local Argentine Zionists in government and out. Elbaum describes how their efforts have been specifically directed toward destabilizing the incumbent center-left government of President Cristina Fernandez, while securing exorbitant profits for a Zionist Wall Street speculator, Paul Singer …

Citizen-Journalist Fined for Telling the Truth

Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., was found to be in contempt of court, Thursday, and fined $1,000.

Her offense? She tells the truth.

Truth is something that apparently has bypassed the court of Judge Kenneth W. Seamans, who retired at the end of 2014, but came out of retirement to handle this case.

The case began in October 2013.

Scroggins, a retired real estate agent and nurse’s aide, was in Common Pleas Court to explain why a temporary injunction should not be issued against her. That injunction would require her to stay at least 150 feet from all properties where Cabot Oil and …