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Chicago: Mass Charter School Teacher Strike

Unprecedented, Long Overdue, and a Harbinger of Things to Come

Angering Wall Street and other millionaires and billionaires who promote charter schools, in early December 2018 hundreds of teachers at a corporate charter school chain in Chicago called Acero set a historic record and held the nation’s first mass charter school teachers’ strike.

The strike at Acero’s 15 charter schools, attended by mostly poor and low-income Latino students, was something wealthy private interests urgently wanted to avoid because it would bring too much attention to many problems that have been plaguing charter schools for years.

Smaller classes, more school personnel, better pay, and greater teacher voice were some of the many demands …

Human Hierarchies, Competition, and Anarchism

Part 2 of 6: The Utility of Jordan Peterson's Digressions

New Yorker

If dominance hierarchies are an outcome of natural selection, and if early Homo sapiens were naturally selected (they were), and if humans are genetically inclined to procreate thereby ensuring their genes continue in future generations, then, to the extent that status confers reproductive advantage, humans should be genetically predisposed to challenge for the highest placement within a hierarchy. Yet, modern humans have made substantive inroads in understanding and manipulating genetics, controlling the environment, and eliminating and curing disease. While there is evidence

Dismantling the Doomsday Machines

From a technical point of view, he (Stanley Kubrick) anticipated many things. … Since that time, little has changed, honestly.  The only difference is that modern weapons systems have become more sophisticated, more complex.  But this idea of a retaliatory strike and the inability to manage these systems, yes, all of these things are relevant today.  It (controlling the systems) will become even more difficult and more dangerous.  (Emphasis, jw)

Vladimir Putin commenting on the film, Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in an interview with Oliver Stone, May 11, 2016.  Putin had …

Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent

The level of absurdity in US politics has now reached such vertigo inducing levels as to render all manner of things permissible.  Contact with the unwashed implies collaboration; discussion with the enemy implies assent.  To go to a dinner party with a perceived hostile force in the context of business of diplomacy has become a child’s condemnation of misplaced loyalties.  Yet everyday, thousands of engagements are made between powers and interests where nothing other than a hello is exchanged, or a pleasantry.  Perhaps the more relevant question to ask here is that businessmen and women in power suggest the limits …

Europe on the Brink of Collapse?

The Empire’s European castle of vassals is crumbling. Right in front of our eyes. But Nobody seems to see it. The European Union (EU), the conglomerate of vassals. Trump calls them irrelevant, and he doesn’t care what they think about him, they deserve to be collapsing. They, the ‘vassalic’ EU, a group of 28 countries, some 500 million people, with a combined economy of a projected 19 trillion US-dollar equivalent, about the same as the US, have submitted themselves to the dictate of Washington in just about every important aspect of life.

The EU has accepted on orders by Washington to …

US Blunders have made Russia the Global Trade Pivot

The year 2019 had barely begun before news emerged that six Russian sailors were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Benin. It was perhaps a foretaste of risks to come. As nations reel from deteriorating economic conditions, instances of piracy and other forms of supply chain disruptions are bound to increase.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 107 cases of piracy were noted during the first half of 2018 vis-à-vis 87 throughout 2017.  The 2018 tally included 32 cases in Southeast Asian waters and 48 along African shores – representing 75% of the total. To put this …

Court Uses Law’s Absurdity to Allow Unfit Kavanaugh to Remain as Justice

The allegations contained in the complaints [against Judge Kavanaugh] are serious, but the Judicial Council is obligated to adhere to the Act. Lacking statutory authority to do anything more, the complaints must be dismissed because an intervening event – Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court – has made the complaints no longer appropriate for consideration under the Act…. Because it lacks jurisdiction to do so, the Council makes no findings on the merits of the complaints.

— Order of the Judicial Council of the US Tenth Circuit, December 18, 2018

That is the sound that eight federal judges make when they know …

No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit

Theresa May’s prime ministership remains one of torment, drawn out, and weakened daily.  But does it really matter?  If it is true to claim that people deserve the government they elect, then there is something madly representative of the debacle of May’s leadership, one where problems are sought for any possible solutions.

Steering through the waters of Brexit has been a nigh impossible task rendered even more problematic by a stubborn myopia nursed by May.  She nurses dogmas incapable of learning new tricks.  Her latest Brexit plan, as it headed to inevitable defeat, would have rendered Britain bound to the EU …

The Utility of Rules and Hierarchy

Part 1 of 6: The Utility of Jordan Peterson's Digressions

The overzealous politically correct-speech crowd has triggered a backlash. One person who took exception is Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto who rocketed into the spotlight for his courageous dissent against compelled speech. I support that stance taken by Peterson. Peterson also has a youtube presence, and this year his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Crisis (Penguin Random House UK) was published.

Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life contains plenty of wisdom, but also plenty of bias, often ill-supported by …

The “Kosher Nostra” Nation

[T]the loveliest trick of the Devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.

– Charles Baudelaire, The Generous Gambler (1864)

The Jewish state of Israel characterizes itself as a “Jewish and democratic” state, although the latest law of the Knesset wishes to raise “Jewishness” above “democracy”. However, it must be blindingly obvious to anyone not in thrall to the ruling narratives, that when a minority of a population is regarded as hostile, is unwelcome and therefore is never part of a governing coalition, democracy must be a casualty, especially when that minority has been singled out for discriminatory and dispossessory

Remembrance: The Dehumanised Human

It is clear even from their titles that corporate newspapers are objective, balanced and impartial. Or so we are to believe. The Telegraph and Mail are disinterested systems of communication – the prejudices of telegraphists and postmen/women certainly do not influence the content of the messages they deliver. The Times and Financial Times simply reflect the key events of our time, as, of course, does the Mirror. The Sun impartially spreads illumination to the benefit of all life on earth. As does the Independent, with no shadows cast by the Russian oligarch by which it is owned or the adverts …

Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion

It’s a messy, though typical picture.  US President Donald Trump wants to pull out forces in Syria.  When announced in December, jaws drooped and sharp intakes of breath were registered through the Washington establishment.  Members of the military industrial complex were none too pleased.  The president had seemingly made his case clear: US blood and treasure will not be further drawn upon to right the conflicts of the Middle East.

His national security advisor, John Bolton, prefers a different message: the US will not leave north-eastern Syria till the militants of Islamic State are defeated and the Kurds protected.  If this …

Israel and the Golan Heights: A Wider Geopolitical Game

In the recent autumn session of the United Nations General Assembly a number of resolutions involving the Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel came up for debate and voting. A familiar pattern emerged. The first of the votes to be noted was UNGA Resolution A/C.4/73/L.20. The wording of this resolution was that the general Assembly “reaffirmed that Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem are illegal and an obstacle to peace and social development”.

The second resolution, A/C.4/73/L.22 said that the General Assembly “determines that all legislation and administrative measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, that purport

Long Live the Armed Struggle!

Part Two of book review, and ... The Revolution Will Not Be Televised or plugged onto Twitter, or in the Streets with Your Placards, or Sending in 'Save the Whale' Postcards

Murdering Truthsayers 

I am thinking of Karen Silkwood for some odd reason. Murdered November 13, 1974 as a twenty-eight-year-old labor union activist and chemical technician working for a nuclear power plant, Kerr-McGee Cimarron River nuclear facility in Crescent, Oklahoma. The industry was supplying nuclear fission rods for reactors. She found violations of health and safety regulations, and well, the story of this ordinary woman with an ordinary life has turned into a cause celebre with Meryl Streep playing her in a 1984 movie.

Karen was pursued by some dark figures on a cold night, and the manila envelope she was carrying with …

Glossip v. Gross: the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States

On June 29, 2015 the United States Supreme Court argued in Glossip v. Gross that executions may continue with the use of lethal drug cocktails including the use of midazolam, an extremely painful drug, which in effect, burns to death the condemned by scorching internal organs. The use of midazolam, according to the Court, does not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Eighth Amendment. The Court found that condemned prisoners can only challenge their method of execution after providing a known and available alternative method.

In dissenting views justices opened the legal door for future challenges to the death penalty. …

Uniting For A Green New Deal

Support is growing in the United States for a Green New Deal. Though there are competing visions for what that looks like, essentially, a Green New Deal includes a rapid transition to a clean energy economy, a jobs program and a stronger social safety net.

We need a Green New Deal for many reasons, most obviously the climate crisis and growing economic insecurity. Each new climate report describes the severe consequences of climate change with increasing alarm and the window of opportunity for action is closing. At the same time, wealth inequality is also growing. Paul Bucheit writes

Surgical Totalitarianism

You don’t have to control everything to be in total control.

In the modern world this seeming paradox is a systemic reality.

In the past, classic totalitarian governments sought to literally control every aspect of biopower.

As it turned out, this was a very inefficient and self-defeating way to maintain and increase scientific knowledge and technology, capital accumulation, and total effective power over the long term.

Modern totalitarian arrangements are far more culturally efficacious, superficially unobtrusive, stylistically democratic, and, most importantly, surgically precise.

In addition, modern totalitarian elites not only demand de facto control over society as such, but they also desire, as part of …

The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba

The game is afoot. Israel, believe it or not, is demanding that seven Arab countries and Iran pay $250 billion as compensation for what it claims was the forceful exodus of Jews from Arab countries during the late 1940s.

The events that Israel is citing allegedly occurred at a time when Zionist Jewish militias were actively uprooting nearly one million Palestinian Arabs and systematically destroying their homes, villages and towns throughout Palestine.

The Israeli announcement, which reportedly followed “18 months of secret research” conducted by the Israeli government’s Ministry of Social Equality, should not be filed under the ever-expanding folder …

Gilets Jaunes: Catalyst for a Global Movement?

France is at a crossroad. A fairly benign bread-and-butter protest has turned into a major popular dissent putting in question France’s political system. It is new, unheard of, and because we live in the digital age, with immediate communication, the world is not only watching, but there is a contagious factor to it, which in the Anglo-Saxon world is called “Yellow Vests Movement”. In what could be a healthy contagion of a social yellow fever of dissent, this polymorphic movement has already spread to 25 countries and counting. …

Give Children the Vote, Strengthen Democracy

In December 2018 David Runciman, Head of Politics at Cambridge University, made the radical proposal that children as young as six should be allowed to vote in elections to deal with the age bias in contemporary democracies. Allowing children to vote he said, would give a ‘jolt of energy’ to democracy. While the thought of six year olds voting sounds extreme and will no doubt be broadly dismissed, there is a strong democratic argument for lowering the eligible age from 18, which is the standard voting age in most countries, and allowing children to vote.

In response to Professor Runciman’s suggestion …

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

... in Syria

The fact is, the U.S. interventions in the Middle East since 9/11–especially the illegal, immoral war on Iraq based on lies—has, as regional leaders predicted it would, generally “destabilized” the area, and nearby regions.

The ruination of the Baathist Iraqi state has by this point produced a Sadrist-led regime that must maintain a degree of friendship with the U.S. that ushered in its ascent to power but is closer to Iran and will, defying the U.S., maintain that relationship based in part on religious commonality. This is an awkward situation, in that a regime produced by U.S. imperialist aggression chooses to …

The Persecuted

I recently had the interesting experience of sitting in on a fundamentalist Christian sermon in a small church in southeast Louisiana. The text of the pastor’s sermon was drawn from 2nd Thessalonians, a Pauline epistle exhorting young believers of a fledgling congregation. The emphasis taken from the block of scripture this Sunday was Paul’s encouragement to his flock in the face of persecution. After setting the narrative in motion the preacher sought to establish an analogy between the persecuted 1st century church at Thessalonica and the 21st century church in America and Western Europe.

It was at this point that my …

Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise

January the 1st, 2019 marked the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. Back in December 1958 the city of Santa Clara fell to the combined forces of Che Guevara, Cienfuegos, and Revolutionary Directorate (RD) rebels led by Comandantes Rolando Cubela, Juan (“El Mejicano”) Abrahantes, and William Alexander Morgan. Upon hearing the news of the defeat of his forces by the Fidel Castro-led revolutionaries, Batista left Cuba and flew to the Dominican Republic on 1 January 1959.
Havana (October 2018)
Since then the Cuban people have …

Why is Japan So Bitter About Unstoppable Rise of China

There used to be a pair of beautiful swings for children, not far from an old rural temple in Mie Prefecture, where I used to frequently power walk, when searching for inspiration for my novels. Two years ago, I noticed that the swings had gotten rusty, abandoned, and unkempt. Yesterday, I spotted a yellow ribbon, encircling and therefore closing the structure down. It appears that the decision had already been made to get rid of the playground, irreversibly.
Abandoned swings Mie Perfecture
One day earlier, I observed an old …

The Government Shutdown Makes You Think About Socialism

Many people are cynical about government, with good reason. They see leaders who don’t care about getting a job done, who just maneuver and finger-point and yell to puff themselves up and put someone else down. They read about tunnels and transportation terminals that cost three times what they were supposed to, are opened for business years behind schedule, and need endless fixes.

These realities are not enough for the rich and the reactionaries. They drown us in propaganda attacks on government and demands to get it off our back (actually, their back). Of course, the huge corporations they own keep …

Israeli Politics is Being Dragged into the Grubby Realm of Reality TV

As Benjamin Netanyahu demands a televised showdown with his corruption accusers and Roseanne Barr prepares to address the Knesset, the poverty of public discourse has never been more apparent

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu commandeered the country’s airwaves last week in what many assumed would prove a moment of profound national import. They could not have been more wrong.

The context was his decision last month to move forward the general election to April, widely seen as a desperate effort to turn the vote into a referendum on his innocence as long-standing corruption investigations close in.

The police have recommended that he be charged over three separate allegations of bribery. By calling the election, Netanyahu has forced the attorney-general, Avichai Mendelblit, onto unfamiliar – and constitutionally tricky – terrain.

Mendelblit, an appointee …

Updating Some U.S. Political Prisoners January 2019

Writing from another country I remember the Americans I’m supposed to forget, those forced into the lives that made them prisoners or simply targets of law enforcement programs. Some are religious people, Christians and Muslims. Many were Black Panthers. Some were and are radicals. Most are Americans. All cared for their communities and people. They were condemned by society at large. Under the FBI’s COINTELPRO activists in the Sixties and Seventies political and community movements but particularly the Black Panthers were targeted and hunted and engaged in fire-fights by law enforcement. Any police casualty brought charges of murder in court. …

Fight for Promised Peace Dividend

Interview with author John Rachel

Ron Ridenour: You wrote the book, The Peace Dividend: the most controversial proposal in the history of the world, (Lulu Publishing). What is the basic idea of this project?

John Rachel:  In 1992 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the citizens of the United States and the world were promised the arrival of a new era of peace and prosperity. The Cold War was over. Much of the money spent in the military standoff with the Soviets, and the preparation for a cataclysmic war, would now be diverted to peaceful ends. This massive reordering of our priorities and the …

Why Are the Media So Eager to Declare Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Dead?

Virtually from the moment Donald Trump announced that he would be removing U.S. troops from Syria, corporate media have converged around a narrative that the president has been forced to walk back his decision. But while a withdrawal will undoubtedly prove more challenging than the president originally anticipated, this verdict simply does not reflect the facts on the ground.

When John Bolton spoke in Jerusalem earlier this month, leading news outlets reported that Trump’s national security adviser had declared that withdrawal would not be completed unless and until specific conditions had been met or objectives achieved. The New York Times announced …

Capitalist Agriculture: Putting Soil on a Diet of Snake Oil and Doughnuts

In their rush to readily promote neoliberal dogma and corporate-inspired PR, many government officials, scientists and journalists take as given that profit-driven transnational corporations have a legitimate claim to be custodians of natural assets. The premise is that under capitalism water, food, soil and agriculture should be handed over to powerful and wholly corrupt transnational corporations to milk for profit, under the pretence these entities are somehow serving the needs of humanity.

These natural assets (‘the commons’) belong to everyone and any stewardship should be carried out in the common interest by local people assisted by public institutions and governments acting on …