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Hooked on Orcas

Michigan Native Fights to Protect ballena asesina

Facts about orcas abound in Colleen Weiler’s brain, because her role is to lead policy research and engagement around what we call the Southern Resident Orcas (SROs).

Her job is with the Plymouth, Massachusetts-based US headquarters of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation non-profit, established 32 years ago in England.

Our name is what we do.

Protecting cetaceans involves direct action, lobbying lawmakers, public engagement and education/outreach to the public.

Her official title is Jessica Rekos Fellow for Orca Conservation and, for the past five years, her focus has been on orca recovery. Now headquartered in Newport, she has also been tracking the efforts of …

Hong Kong:  Pure Western Insanity

The impunity with which the US aggresses Hong Kong is insane. Equally or more insane is western media coverage of what is going on in Hong Kong. Not one word on how the incredible “pro-democracy” vote of the rather unimportant District Council Elections was achieved. Of the 18 District Councils, 452 of 479 seats (71%) went to “pro-democracy” candidates. Such an extreme anti-Beijing vote could only be obtained by massive western propaganda at the cost of millions of dollars, targeted with algorithms, developed on the principles of the now (apparently) defunct Cambridge Analytica. And this with 70% of eligible voters …

Quo Vadis, Lebanon?

Good bye, Lebanon, metaphorically and truly.

Good bye to a country which, many believe, actually has already ceased to exist.

For five long years I have been commuting between the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. And Beirut, for all that time, was one of my homes.

I arrived in Beirut when the situation in the region was beginning to be unbearable; when destabilized, tortured Syria commenced losing its children in large numbers. They were forced to leave their homeland, heading for Beirut and Beqaa Valley, and, in fact, to all parts of the world. I arrived when Syrian refugees were freezing to …

French Unions and Yellow Vests Converge: December 5 General Strike

MONTPELLIER, France — On the eve of an “unlimited” (open-ended) General Strike called for today, more and more unions and protest groups are pledging join in.

Two things are unusual about this strike. The first is that it is open-ended, rather than the usual one-day ritualistic protest marches, and it may be prolonged from day to day by workers’ assemblies as long as necessary. The second is that the Yellow Vests, the self-organized, horizontal, social movement that sprung up spontaneously just over a year ago and is still popular despite severe repression, have decided to converge with the strike.

Just …

Bethlehem, Palestine: “Tourists often come to see the sacred stones, not their inhabitants”.

From the terrace of Wi’am, also known as the “Palestinian Conflict Resolution Centre”, you can see a horizon interrupted by the Israeli wall and a cloud of tear gas. At the foot of it, a narrow path leads the visitor off the tourist circuit to the refugee camp of Aida, jealously guarded by soldiers. At the entrance to the camp we see a large key to the return, symbolizing the identity that the 1948 refugees are unwilling to renounce. It is the Nakba or “catastrophe” as a consequence of …

David Osborne Keeps Casually Peddling Worn-Out Charter School Disinformation

David Osborne is a well-funded neoliberal demagogue who has authored several books advocating the elimination of the public sphere and public interest. He has long championed the narrow private interests of major owners of capital.

Osborne has spent much of his life openly attacking the public sector and pushing for its privatization (“reinvention” and “innovation”) as fast as possible. This includes aggressively promoting school privatization through the creation of poor-performing pay-the-rich schemes like charter schools.

In a November 2019 article in the Wall Street Journal,  [1] Osborne nonchalantly repeats one of …

Legitimised Surveillance: Kim Dotcom’s Case Against GCSB

Surveillance activities and the law are often at loggerheads.  The former specialises in destroying privacy; the latter, in so far as it might be adequate, sometimes furnishes a means of preserving it.  When it comes to exposing overly-eager surveillance activity, obstacles arise.  Ironically, the privacy of agents, and the sacrosanct nature of their abuse, become points of issue.  Public interest tests are employed, often against the public.  To expose such conduct might be to compromise the State apparatus altogether.

To prosecute an open case of fair spread and free access to evidence often requires material deemed sordidly compromising.  When it comes …

Extremism Strikes Xinjiang

Countless terrorist attacks occurred in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang from 1990 to 2016. Terrorism has destroyed many innocent lives, similar to what has happened around the world. Such extremism has uprooted the peaceful lives of local residents in the region.

Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides

The UK-based Independent online newspaper recently published an article about a potential link between air pollution from vehicles and glaucoma. It stated that according to a new study air pollution is linked to the eye condition that causes blindness.

The report explained that researchers had looked at vision tests carried out on more than 111,000 people across Britain between 2006 and 2010 and cross-referenced results against levels of air pollution in their neighbourhoods. Those living in areas with higher amounts of fine particulate matter were at least 6% more likely to have glaucoma than those in the least polluted areas.

Glaucoma affects half …

Trading Chihuahua Desert Hardscrabble for Coast Range Wet

The word was the ember and the forest was my life.
― Jimmy Santiago Baca, “Coming into Language,” March 3, 2014

We’re at the Flip ‘n Chicken sharing food, swapping stories about El Paso, and philosophizing about what it means to be an educator in the Early Childhood program at Oregon Coast Community College.

His looks are a cross between Lee Trevino (golfer from El Paso) and my buddy the muralist from El Paso, Mario Colin.

My hope is that I can influence high school students to become teachers . . . to be better teachers . . . go to grad school

The IRS Deserves Cheers, Not Jeers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) struggles every day with an infernal problem. It’s expected to separate taxpayers from their hard-earned money and leave them feeling well-treated at the same time.

They don’t feel well-treated, far from it. According to the 2019 report to Congress by the National Taxpayer Advocate: “The current state of IRS customer experience lags far behind other government agencies and the private sector”

But the IRS doesn’t lag behind when it comes to return on investment, or ROI. That’s the standard measure of “bang for the buck”—in this case how many dollars the Treasury takes in for each …

The Conspiracy to Stop Corbyn: Reopening Auschwitz

Thoreau got it right:

‘Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.’ (Thoreau, ‘Walden’, Penguin, 1983, p.68)

The same is certainly true of propaganda. We can laugh now at McCarthyite paranoia warning of Soviet tentacles threatening every aspect of Western life during the Cold War. In the 1940s and 1950s, Hollywood produced dozens of anti-communist films with titles like I Married a Communist and I Was a Communist for the FBI. Large-circulation magazines were titled, Communists are after Your Child. Even children’s comics declared:

‘Beware, commies,

Myanmar, Genocide, and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble

Going to the ICJ

Leaders currently in office rarely make an appearance before either the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court. International law remains affixed to the notion that heads-of-state are, at least for the duration of their time in office, safe from prosecution. Matters change once the time in office expires.

Be that as it may, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, with an ever dwindling number of peace prizes and awards to her name for questionable responses to the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority, has a plan. She …

Failed Action on the Climate Crisis Makes Resistance Imperative

On December 2, the 25th two-week long United Nations climate conference begins in Madrid, Spain. The stated task of the conference, referred to as COP 25 (Conference Of Parties), is to make sure there are plans to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The goals of that agreement, which are nonbinding, are:

Reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030;
Achieve a net zero global carbon footprint by 2050; and
Stabilize the global temperature increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Last week, prominent scientists issued a warning that significant changes …

Inconsistencies in the Narrative

US soldiers pose over a mass grave with some 300 bodies of innocent Native American Lakota Sioux, two-thirds women and children, massacred at Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge Reservation in 1891.

When a white man kills an Indian in a fair fight it is called honorable, but when an Indian kills a white man in a fair fight it is called murder. When a white army battles Indians and wins it is called a great victory, but if they lose it is called a massacre and bigger armies

BNP before a French Court

A court case is currently running in France that is of relevance to more than the French.

During two weeks to 29 November, Banque Nationale de Paris Paribas is being sued in the Tribunal correctionnel of Paris (a mid-level criminal court) by lawyers representing borrowers of loans denominated in foreign currency.

The issue is of broad relevance because Eastern European countries are bogged down in a quagmire of the stuff. Millions of naïve customers were sold loans in foreign currencies to finance housing, auto loans, etc. Welcome to the freedoms of the West. It was a bomb waiting to explode. Explode it …

Betraying the Constitution: Who Will Protect Us from an Unpatriotic Patriot Act?

While Congress subjects the nation to its impeachment-flavored brand of bread-and-circus politics, our civil liberties continue to die a slow, painful death by a thousand cuts.

Case in point: while Americans have been fixated on the carefully orchestrated impeachment drama that continues to monopolize headlines, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law legislation extending three key provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which had been set to expire on December 15, 2019.

Once again, to no one’s surprise, the bureaucrats on both sides of the aisle—Democrats and Republicans alike—prioritized political grandstanding over principle and their oath of office to protect …

Israel’s Unfinished “Coup”

The End of Netanyahu’s Era and the Political Earthquake ahead

This time, nothing seems to work. Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has tried every trick in the book to save his political career and to avoid possible prison time. But for Israel’s longest-serving leader, the honeymoon is certainly almost over.

It is an “attempted coup”, is how Netanyahu described his indictment on charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust by Israeli Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, on November 21. Netanyahu’s loyalists agree. On November 26, a few thousand Likud party supporters gathered in Tel Aviv, under the title “Stop the coup”, …

NATO’s Crises

The 2% goal as defence illiteracy

Political

NATO’s London Summit on December 3 and 4, 2019 displays the deep political crisis of the 70-year-old alliance: Only a dinner and a short meeting, no statement to be issued, quarrels among the leading military members, accusations, substantial differences on Syria …

Trump Was Right: NATO Should Be Obsolete

The three smartest words that Donald Trump uttered during his presidential campaign are “NATO is obsolete.” His adversary, Hillary Clinton, retorted that NATO was “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world.” Now that Trump has been in power, the White House parrots the same worn line that NATO is “the most successful Alliance in history, guaranteeing the security, prosperity, and freedom of its members.” But Trump was right the first time around: Rather than …

Bloomberg for President? God No!

Billionaire entitlement run amok

Billionaire on the mayoral campaign trail in New York. (Mike Bloomberg is the turkey to the right of the chicken and eagle.)
Michael Bloomberg, according to Forbes Magazine the 9th richest man in the world with a net worth this year of $54.7 billion, isn’t just the real billionaire candidate for President in 2020 (Donald Trump’s net worth is almost certainly not counted in the billions, and could be negative for all we know, since he won’t release his …

UK Jewish Lobby Continues to Smear Jeremy Corbyn

For the last 15 years I have been warning both Brits and Jews of the possibility of serious consequences that might result from the intensive activities of the Jewish Lobby in Britain and beyond. I have written thousands of commentaries about the topic, given endless talks and interviews and published the best selling books on Jewish Identity politics in return for which I have received relentless abuse. However, I survive and with just a bit of luck Britain may also survive the present chaos inflicted …

How We Win via NVDA Campaigning

Long-time peace, justice, democracy and lgbtq activist and trainer George Lakey has written a book, How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning, about the strategic centrality to movement-building of the approach of nonviolent direct action campaigning. Built upon his decades of organizing experience going back to the ‘60s civil rights movement, there is a great deal of generalized wisdom all throughout it.

Lakey argues compellingly that what progressives need to be about is not just the tactic of nonviolent direct action but, instead, …

Iraqis Rise Up Against 16 Years of ‘Made in the USA’ Corruption

As Americans sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, Iraqis were mourning 40 protesters killed by police and soldiers on Thursday in Baghdad, Najaf and Nasiriyah. Nearly 400 protesters have been killed since hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets at the beginning of October. Human rights groups have described the crisis in Iraq as a “bloodbath,” Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi has announced he will resign, and Sweden has opened an investigation against Iraqi Defense Minister Najah Al-Shammari, who is a Swedish citizen, for crimes …

Irresponsible Charter School Promoters Blocked from Further Lowering Teaching and Learning Standards

Despite the vehement objections of thousands of teachers, parents, college professors, public school advocates, state officials, and teachers’ unions, in late 2017 the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustee’s charter school committee voted 4 to 1 to unilaterally and illegally lower training and preparation standards for teachers employed at privately-operated charter schools approved by SUNY (about 165 across the state). State officials called SUNY’s irresponsible decision to put more unqualified teachers in classrooms “an insult to the teaching profession.”

The anti-democratic SUNY decision meant that many privately-operated …

Alien Invaders and the Ethic of the Earth

Imagine this rather typical SF scenario: alien invaders arrive on Earth. They are vastly superior in intelligence, technology, and most importantly, ethics. They quickly perceive that Earthlings are a dire mortal threat to the Earth’s biosphere. They reason that they must take decisive action soon, or else the Earth will meet its biological death. What are they to do?

First, they take up a consequentialist position and reason that eliminating a significant portion of the human population would immediately alleviate Earth’s acute environmental problems while saving countless numbers of species.

Second, …

Visiting Britain’s Political Prisoner

I set out at dawn. Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh is in the flat hinterland of south east London, a ribbon of walls and wire with no horizon. At what is called the visitors centre, I surrendered my passport, wallet, credit cards, medical cards, money, phone, keys, comb, pen, paper.

I need two pairs of glasses. I had to choose which pair stayed behind. I left my reading glasses. From here on, I couldn’t read, just as Julian couldn’t read for the first few weeks of his incarceration. His glasses were …

The Personal has Always Been Political for Rich People

The personal is political for Donald Trump, even though he is certainly no feminist. The president, who was a young adult at the time this women’s liberation slogan was popular — to point out that what happens in a woman’s private life was part of a larger political problem of male supremacy — may have unintentionally absorbed the words, but never understood their meaning.

Ironically, while the slogan can express an important feminist truth, “the personal is political” also seems an apt characterization of a Republican 21st century, neoliberal, Ayn …

Chief Rabbi Mirvis is Helping Stoke Antisemitism

Chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has not only misrepresented the known facts about Labour and its supposed antisemitism crisis. He has not only interfered in an overtly, politically partisan manner in the December 12 election campaign by suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn – against all evidence – is an antisemite.

By speaking out as the voice of British Jews – a false claim he has allowed the UK media to promote – his unprecedented meddling in the election of Britain’s next leader has actually made the wider Jewish community in the UK much less safe. …

The American Health Care Dilemma

A Suggested Resolution

That the U.S. is a nation divided is a statement few knowledgeable individuals would challenge. These divisions have been exacerbated, to some degree, by the impending 2020 election wherein Americans will go to the polls to elect their next President and a cadre of senators, congressmen and a multitude of lesser known local politicians.

These divisions include race, ethnicity, religion, the distribution of wealth and the provision of medical services. The Latin motto that appears on American currency and elsewhere, “e plurubus unum” (out of many, one) is clearly no …