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Exhibit A of this erasure is an article headlined “Venezuela’s Health System Ready to Collapse Amid Economic Crisis” (NPR, 2/1/19), in which Samantha Raphelson treats sanctions as a ... The South American country is experiencing widespread shortages of food and medicine, along with rolling power blackouts. All of which have sparked rioting a... Despite all the headlines about Venezuela's collapse, researchers were still surprised by the scope of the crisis. Venezuela is a middle-income country with a previously strong infrastructure ... Venezuela's worst economic meltdown in history has had a huge impact on neighboring Colombia, where hospitals, schools and welfare agencies are dealing with 2 million Venezuelan refugees. Philip Reeves NPR October 22, 2019. ... Remarks by Vice President Pence at a Special Session of the United Nations Security Council on the Crisis in Venezuela. Mike Pence White House April 10, 2019. The pattern is repeated in NPR’s coverage of Venezuela’s economic crisis through the lens of out-migration (6/21/19, 6/7/19), school truancy or alleged “intimidation” of private charities . Here sanctions—which are set to cause Venezuela’s economy to contract by 37% this year—are either completely ignored, or their devastating ... After Fleeing Crisis, Venezuelan Migrants Now Struggle In Coronavirus Lockdown Colombia is home to about 1.7 million who fled neighboring Venezuela in recent years. Now that it has shut down to ... An 'Almost Unimaginable' Crisis In Venezuela Apr 02, 2019 New York Times reporter Nicholas Casey was in Maracaibo, Venezuela, in March 2019 during a six-day power outage. Political Crisis In Venezuela Escalates. By Philip Reeves, David Greene NPR Tuesday, April 30, 2019 ... And let's see what we can learn from NPR's Philip Reeves, who has been following this. Hi ... We would like to show you a description here but the site won’t allow us.
[Effortpost] Using the Past to Understand the Present: The 60's and Today
2020.08.05 18:45 Paramus98[Effortpost] Using the Past to Understand the Present: The 60's and Today
Rioting on the streets during protests on police brutality, public incidents of far-right terrorism, student activism showing a generation of young people embracing radical left politics that goes beyond that of the progressives and liberals in the Democratic Party. This may seem like a description of the current day political climate, (while rioting does seem to have largely died down from its peak in the first week or two of protests, some cities had more sustained unrest) and that wouldn't be inaccurate, but it just as well could be a description of America in the mid to late 1960's. I think looking back at our past in a time of great crisis and unrest can be useful for putting current day unrest in perspective. A few years ago (and still today to a lesser extent) I felt uneasy reading accounts of young people being radicalized into the alt right, often through social media or other online platforms. Listening to stories of ISIS radicalization gave me a similar discomfort. And today with many left-wing political movements the trend seems the same, young, disaffected youth searching for identity find a community of people online to identify with. In the midst of a number of young people giving accounts of being "radicalized" I wanted to look at the past and compare past radical movements of the 1960's to today and see if the new factor of the internet looks to make these movements more prevalent or dangerous. Riots and Social Unrest First though, let’s take a look at the rioting, looting and chaotic protests that have begun during the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. The costs of riots in Minneapolis totaled to over 500 million dollars, the second highest costs of civil unrest since the 1.4 billion dollar (in 2020 dollars) bill brought on by the Rodney King Riots.10-15 million dollars was done in Atlanta, "tens of millions" in New York City and more damage in countless other cities. Let's try to put this into some perspective, looking back at the toll of the Rodney King riots, that was more than twice as much damage as from the George Floyd Protests in Minnesota alone, but the Rodney King riots were mostly limited to LA in a way that riots following the death of George Floyd weren't with at least 25 cities reporting some level of violence in the outbreak of protests. So, while the costs may not be as high as the Rodney King Riots, they are higher than rioting in the 60's. The Watts riots for example totaled 40 million dollars of damage at the time (327 million today), and other riots of the 60's were all less costly (at least in terms of dollar value) than the Watts riots were. Financial cost is but one metric to look at though, human life is another to consider. A concrete answer on the extent to which protests exacerbated the spread of COVID-19 would be impossible to find (especially as contact tracers generally weren’t collecting information on if people attended protests), but keep in mind that is an additional potential cost to mass protests today. Two weeks into the George Floyd protests, the death toll was 19, and there hasn’t been a huge surge in uncovered deaths since then. Compare that to the death toll of riots in the Long, Hot Summer of 1967, 26 people were killed in Newark and 43 in Detroit.The King Assassination Riots killed 43 people. and the Watts riots killed 34. Looking at just human life lost the picture in 2020 looks much better, with nationwide deaths lower than the deaths of individual city's riots in the 60's. Meanwhile in the Rodney King Riots there were 64 deaths, many of them unsolved to this day. While the property damage numbers today are still greater, the very substantial decrease in violence is still something to celebrate. And while a greater value of property was destroyed in recent waves of protests, part of that is likely explained by the increase of value of property between the mid 60's and today. The same level of destruction of physical property will cause more damage even after accounting for inflation because of the economic growth that has occurred since the mid 1960’s. Revolutionary Activism While the chaos today may be less intense than that of the 1960's. that doesn't mean the actors involved are necessarily also less radical. Next, let’s compare some of the major players in what I'll call "revolutionary politics" (and minor but important players as well) of the 60's with some of the major groups and ideologies going around in that a similar tradition today. The goal here isn't to label all these as equivalent with each other, since some are terrorist organizations who've killed a number of people while others are mostly just groups of young idealistic university students, but all of these are skeptical of a liberal democratic political framework as a possibility to attain power and put into action their ideas. Some groups don't exactly fit into that lens either as they are using current power structures to gain power within the government, but I think there's still a rejection of liberalism as a framework as well as a desire to transform the current system to one unrecognizable to the current one (or to the system of the 1960's in the case of older groups). Even if the radical label is contentious to some, the revolutionary label need not be since most of these groups are explicitly revolutionary. This list is in no way exhaustive and there are countless groups that will be missing from this list. These notable revolutionary actors are put into three categories: Left wing groups, right wing groups and black nationalist groups. Black nationalists have some overlap with the left-wing groups (and surprisingly with some right-wing groups even) but to have them in their own category is helpful as Black Nationalism really is its own thing. Again, hopefully the focus here isn't on the categorization than the groups themselves. Black Nationalism Several prominent Black Nationalist groups were present and notable in the 1960's, to list just a few:
Black Panther Party: This was founded by two university students, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, but its chapters would spread across the country. A primary objective of the Black Panthers was open carry patrolling of neighborhoods to defend them from police (or a more critical eye might see them as more interested in aggression against police than merely community defense) This would lead to Ronald Reagan banning open carry with loaded weapons via the Mulford Act. The Black Panthers functioned like many paramilitary political groups do by combining political positions (in this case a mix of Marxism and Black Nationalism), a paramilitary aspect (in the form of copwatchers) and a social outreach aspect (in the form of feeding their communities and medical clinics). The group would attract much opposition including from FBI director J Edgar Hoover, infighting and a campaign from the FBI would lead to the organization's decline after peaking in 1970 with offices in more than 30 US cities and membership in the thousands as well as the support of many in African American communities that took advantages of resources provided by the Black Panthers.
Looking at Black Nationalism in 2020 the picture is a lot smaller, but unlike other movements we’ll look at later, there's much more consistency within Black Nationalist organizations than far left and far right groups.
Black Nationalism appears to be a movement far past its prime. NOI is still going but at smaller numbers than in the past, and it’s more concerning as an extremist cult than a movement that could ever attain substantial power. Interestingly there has been at least one incident of Black Nationalist radicalization in the case of the 2016 Dallas Police shootings, so radicalization in this way could still occur today even with the ideology looking like it's on the decline. Far Left Groups on the 60's (and early 70's) Students for a Democratic Society: SDS is the major group to look at for left wing radicalism of the 60's, it led to all sorts of splinter groups and a powerful political movement that would end up defining much of the 60's and early 70's. The history of this group isn't really that important, basically they stemmed from a socialist group called the League for Industrial Democracy which stemmed from another socialist group called the Intercollegiate Socialist Society that was formed in 1905. In the early 60's the freshly minted Students for a Democratic Society put out the Port Huron Statement, a 250,000 word statement outlining their goals. It's a lot easier of a read than you might think, I'd recommend giving it a quick skim at the least. If you don’t have the time, here are a few important points that stick out:
Pushing all Dixiecrats out of the Democratic party: Racial justice is a big point of this statement and SDS seems the Democratic party as a key group to influence to achieve their agenda.
Attaining influence and power through Universities: The group saw the university as the institution they'd find power and influence rather than a more traditional means of rising up to power through a political party. It's a bit unconventional, but considering this was a group of college students it makes a good deal of sense that they'd seek to change the world through the institution they were naturally most involved in.
Democratization of society: The statement reads like something you'd see in a typical libertarian socialist groups' manifesto. There are many appeals to make society more democratic, and fight against inequality. I was surprised at how modern a document it really appeared to resemble.
The last point I'll mention is what wasn't in the statement: A condemnation of communism. At a time when McCarthyism wasn't that far in the past, a condemnation of communism was commonplace in statements and manifestos like this at the time. There is a rejection of Stalinism, but for warping the views of the left. Presumably showing at least some sympathy with the early Bolshevik movement.
SDS would grow considerably in the face of social unrest over both civil rights and an escalating conflict in Vietnam, and it reached a peak of 100k members in 1969 growing 100 times from its size at formation. Throughout its existence it was a somewhat eclectic organization, while the initial manifesto was vaguely libertarian socialist, support for civil rights and opposition to the Vietnam war were the two main issues holding a few ideologically diverse groups together. For most of its life the group consisted of liberals, Marxists, Marxist-Leninists, Anarchists, and others. Within those groups views on race and gender were varied as well, many women within the group found the group a lot more hostile to women than their rhetoric would suggest. Of course a group with that many different factions can only survive so long, and infighting would cause SDS to dissolve into a number of different groups. (My source on much of the splitting of SDS can be found here)
Progressive Labor: This was one half of the biggest schism within SDS. PL would best be described as the more Marxist-Leninist wing of SDS, they found their activism based on class issues and rejected the Black Nationalism that the National Office faction supported. PL was much more of the authoritarian left group within SDS. This faction was closely aligned with the Progressive Labor Party, a Marxist Leninist party that still exists today!
National Office: National Office faction was the more libertarian left group within SDS, they focused more on issues of race than their PL counterparts, were more interested in anticolonialism and much more willing to align with Black Nationalist thinkers and groups than their PL counterparts were.
Eventually this divide would help lead to the fall of SDS as a prominent organization, other conflicts included conflict between Black SDS members and white women as both (obviously not universally) viewed the other with skepticism as always pushing their side of issues and ignoring prejudice against either group within SDS. Another smaller schism group was the Weathermen who would later be known as the Weather Underground, a black nationalist terrorist group responsible for a few bombings, mostly in 1970. The group's threat can be overstated though, FBI consistently had a presence in it, and overestimated the size of the group at 1000 when in reality it was in the triple digits. Certainly the group was a dangerous one, but it wasn't nearly as large as it's notoriety would suggest. Left wing political parties probably don’t warrant a whole section, but they're fun to talk about so here are three notable ones:
Communist Party USA: The largest Communist party in America which was also given funding from the USSR. Still exists today and broke ties with the USSR in the 80's due to their opposition to perestroika. Still exists today!
Socialist Workers Party: The Trotskyists who split from CPUSA, still active today as well.
Youth International Party: Also known as the Yippies, this was a very interesting group, running a pig for president in 1968, also organizing massive protests turned riots at the Democratic Convention in 1968. Yippies were kind of the extreme version of hippies (who were already a lot more extreme than they're seen today. A good deal moved to communes and lived in their own micro society). The group walked the line between serious and satire in much of what they did, but their ideals were quite revolutionary.
So why did left wing activism decline? Several different explanations have been given, and as is often the case, some combination of them all is likely an accurate reason.
People become more conservative as they age: Certainly a possibility here that a number of people active in these groups look upon it as their silly past more than any serious values that they hold still today.
People sold out: Yippies would become Yuppies and work for Apple, Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale would release a cookbook in the 80's, and countless others found the appeals of American capitalism in the 80's too enticing to hold on to revolutionary ideals any longer.
People realized their hypocrisy: Leftist regimes committed plenty of war crimes and atrocities and for some, seeing regimes they once saw as just falling into the same violence they saw America as guilty of, the revolutionary ideals lost their power
What changes were means, not values: This one I think isn't talked about enough, a good deal of female university activists would use their experiences with men in SDS (for example) to inform their work as second wave feminists. Second wave feminism developed a reputation for being quite "man hating" and it’s worth considering if negative experiences with men in SDS and other such groups gave feminist academics something to hate. But even outside of academia, plenty of ideals that formed from 60's activism would make their way to congress.
People just moved on to other things: College doesn't last forever, and once people got jobs and families, the radicalism took a step aside.
FBI shut these groups down: COINTELPRO was a big operation taken by the FBI to discredit the antiwar movement, many figures in the civil rights movement (including MLK Jr.), pretty much all of the New Left, and the KKK. You could write a lot more about the FBI under J Edgar Hoover and the extent to which this was valid vs how much was an abuse of power (certainly much of Hoover's time in charge of the FBI would be rightfully considered an abuse of power) but FBI involvement certainly at the very least exacerbated divisions within these groups and caused conflicts to get blown up more and take more of a toll than would otherwise have occurred.
Left Wing Revolutionaries Today After all that on the left in the 60's it’s worse comparing the left today to see what parallels (if any) can be found in the modern era.
Democratic Socialist of America: An easy place to look to as the largest socialist movement in the country with 70k members (and likely to continue rising). DSA has already had considerable electoral success with two national level Representatives (almost certain to be at least 3 come 2021) and 11 state level Representatives holding office. On one hand that's more influence within a political party than SDS ever had, but as well the two national level Democrats are two of the most divisive members in the party, so mass institutional sway of the Democratic Party is certainly a long ways away. DSA has a pretty smart method to gain power as well, looking to gain institutional power through the Democratic party until it's viable to split off into their own Democratic Socialist party. I think a comparison to SDS is warranted as both have a clear and at least somewhat well thought out plan to gain power. DSA has actually existed since the 80's but you'd be forgiven if you didn't know that, their membership has only blown up in recent years.
In some ways I think it's helpful to compare DSA to SDS, but not in all. DSA currently is set up to ensure there's a good amount of diversity in leadership, requiring half of it's highest leadership to be female and a quarter to be minorities, so with stable leadership there shouldn't be the kind of splitting over race or gender issues present in SDS. As well DSA have chosen a different path to pursue their accumulation of power through in the Democratic party rather than in Universities. DSA also rejects central planning outright in favor of a greater democratization of the workplace and society. That means potentially a smaller presence of the authoritarian left within the group, so any splitting off over issues like that would be less major. There also (at least as far as we can know) isn't a mass FBI plot to destabilize and undermine the group. Some elements still hold in common though, the groups both share(d) similar goals of democratizing society to the greatest extent, and while the early days of SDS leaned quite heavily towards libertarian socialisms, in time Marxism-Leninism would gain popularity as well, it's not impossible that could occur within DSA too. It's not as if prominent DSA members haven't spoken well of strongmen already after all. And DSA seems to be perfectly willing to support left wing autocrats like Maduro, so I'm a bit skeptical of the extent to which the organization doesn't have at the least a pretty substantial level of Marxist-Leninists. Time will tell if DSA can reach the peaks of SDS but the much more important question is how well it can stick around. There are a few roadblocks SDS had that DSA doesn't, but it's far from a certainty that there's even a clear path for them to get to the part of their goal where they split off into their own party (and when they do if they'll just end up splitting a bunch of votes).
Justice Democrats: A group very similar to DSA policy wise, but rather than looking to be a splinter party in the future, Justice Dems' goal is to simply become the dominant faction within the Democratic Party (probably a smarter goal as long as FPTP continues on). Justice Dems have more active members of congress than DSA with 7, but they also have a lot more notable failures, Their Wikipedia page shows their electoral record and there's a lot more failures than successes. Justice Dems was formed by a bunch of notable left-wing media figures rather than political activists themselves, so it fills a role that wouldn't really be possible in the more moderate media climate of the 60's.
There are a few other more issues-based groups like the climate centric Sunrise Movement or the Black Lives Matter organization, but I don't think these type groups are very sustainable. BLM for example had a director do an AMA and it was pretty poorly received due to unclear objectives and lack of transparency over how money is spent. Sunrise Movement and many other climate groups have embraced the Green New Deal and made it a purity test for supporting a politician, something I see likely backfiring, especially due to their willingness to be confrontational to Democratic Party leadership. While these groups may very well bring more attention to issues, I don't see them setting the agenda as nearly as much as they just force a topic more into the conversation. So how does left wing activism today compare to the 60's? Well it's hard to say. We're currently in the middle of a growing moment of left wing activism among youths, if right now is it's peak the left certainly never grew as big, but if right now is more where SDS was at in 1965 with Vietnam energizing their movement, it's certainly possible the same could be happening with Trump energizing groups like DSA further, and with less outside opposition, it's possible these organizations could find themselves more long lasting in the future. On the other hand, societal shifts are still commonplace, and it's not like the landscape couldn't radically change from here on out. To best tell how successful these groups are at getting power, keep a watchful eye on these movements, since much of the activism involves changing the Democratic Party, perhaps the best indicator of their success would be watching how the Democratic party changes in response to them. If there's a level of recalibration that's not indicative of a takeover necessarily, but if Justice Dems begin to get important leadership roles within the party, then a revolutionary moment really might not be out of the question. With a very old Democratic Party leadership right now, that could open up a vacuum that the most left-wing Democrats will likely try to fill. The Far Right of the 1960's I initially just wanted to focus on left wing groups here, a few years ago alt right radicalization seemed to be a trend but as notable figures of that movement began to fade away I perceived the left to be filling that vacuum; however, reports of far right instigators during the George Floyd protests both made me question the movement's relative irrelevance and also wonder the extent of far right activism in the 60's.
Ku Klux Klan: The best known far right group in the country, the KKK is best known for times in great power following reconstruction as well as in the 1920's on by the 60's the KKK's power had considerably declined, but that didn't stop the group from committing a number of murders and church bombings in the decade. Still considering the 2nd Klan had their numbers in the millions (more than 1% of the country in the early 20's) it was fortunately a much less corrosive influence in the country at the time. The KKK was one of the few right-wing extremist groups targeted by the FBI at a time when opposition to communists and communist fellow travelers was more key to the FBI's mission. The KKK terrorized both Black Americans and White southerners who fought against segregation. Reading some accounts of the extent to which the Klan really had a hold in aspects of southern society is quite sobering.
John Birch Society: For those well versed in the history of the American conservative movement, this should not be a new name. The John Birch Society (or Birchers as they were called) was a paleoconservative group who made leaving the UN a key element of their work, calling the UN a prelude to a one world autocratic government. Not surprisingly Birchers were known for nativist positions on immigration, antisemitism, conspiracy theories and strong opposition to global trade.
Birchers at the time were growing in their influence over the GOP and many in elite GOP circles worried about what could happen to the party if this cancer on conservatism were to continue to go untreated. William Buckley Jr. and others at National Review with a different model of conservatism for the GOP tried to either publicly shun or keep a general distance from the group to prevent a Bircher takeover of the party. Which worked quite well as for a few decades the GOP would continue to advocate for greater immigration and more liberal trade as libertarians took hold of much of the party dogma following the end of the Bircher's influence. At their peak in the 60's they had nearly 100k members, so size wise they were comparable to the SDS, certainly that's enough to sway public opinion at least a bit.
Neo Nazi groups: These were small and insignificant, probably not dissimilar to the Weather Underground at their peak. Most prominently was the American Nazi Party, formed by George Lincoln Rockwell, who would later be assassinated by a former American Nazi Party member who was kicked out of the party for Bolshevik leanings. American Nazi Party would make less of an impact on politics through their beliefs than a 1977 case the ACLU brought to the Supreme Court arguing for the group's right to protest. This would end up defining much of the very liberal laws around public speech in America ever since.
Ku Klux Klan: I don't know if it's their historical legacy, their wacky wardrobe or what, but reading about the KKK today, it's really surprising to me how much press they seem to get lately. The KKK today is a very small group, with only about 3000 members in 2016, quite the decline from their peak of a thousand times more people. Of course, criminal activity is still very prevalent from their small numbers. Fortunately, the KKK looks like a group that's likely to decline
Alt Right: Often the Alt Right is a term used to describe any sort of far right group, but the alt right is a fairly specific label, it can't just be applied to someone who presents themselves as a far right "alternative" to conservatism. Alt-Right is best defined as an extremely online ideology that combines white nationalism with paleoconservatism, identitarianism and of course a lot of memes and internet culture. A good example of an Alt-Right member would be the New Zealand Mosque shooter, a bad example would be Alex Jones or David Duke. Following the Unite the Right rally, the alt right has had much difficulty maintaining the same levels of popularity and recruiting and they did in earlier years.
Other Misc. Groups: Skinheads, Christian Identity (a strange cult like mix of neo-nazism and Christianity. Notable for being the ideology those involved in the Ruby Ridge standoff held to), Neo Nazi Groups, Prison Gangs and probably other fringe groups. While not super prevalent, the violent activities these groups are known to partake in is concerning.
There's likely always going to be some level of societal fringe racist extremists in a given country, but the increasing violence of these groups in particularly concerning. 2019 was the 6th most violent year since the ADL began keeping count and far right violence far outpaces any other such violence in the US. The rise of the alt right and the internet and social media as a means of communication no doubt have played a role in the rising prevalence of such attacks. White Supremacist groups aren't the only far right groups that are important in American life today, since the 90's another form of extremism called the Patriot Movement has risen to prominence. The Patriot movement is characterized by extreme anti-government sentiments, and while there is some overlap with white supremacy, one certainly need not be a white supremacist to fit into this category. Some examples:
Sovereign Citizens: GWU considers them a far-right group, but I think it's more helpful to think of sovereign citizens as almost their own group since the group is more identifiable by being extreme libertarians than left or right wing. Sovereign Citizens have their own bizarre legal theories that view all laws as illegitimate and not applying to them. Unlike other ideologies here, there are tens of thousands of people of color who are sovereign citizens. In the mid 2010's, Sovereign Citizens were considered the greatest terrorist threat the US faced.
You'll notice I tried to follow up on each of the groups I mentioned in the 60's. Whether they're active today or how they fell apart or lost much influence. The last one I have to touch on is the John Birch Society, but the Birchers are an interesting group in that all the other groups I mentioned from the 60's lost a lot of their influence over the past 50-60 years, but after being rejected by the Republican Party quite soundly, the Birchers were irrelevant for decades and looked like another group who'd turn into a think of the past... But then an interesting thing happened. In 2010 CPAC had an interesting new co-sponsor, which on one hand isn't a huge deal, CPAC has always been full of nuts, but on the other hand it was only the first step in an increasing Bircher influence within the GOP. They certainly haven't moderated their views, believing in the Illuminati (and also that the CFR is an Illuminati ally) or that George W. Bush was pushing for one world government. Conclusions Looking at urban unrest and violence, the situation seems better than the 60's, but the biggest question is whether the unrest we saw in early June and late May will turn out to be a one off thing or become a yearly tradition like in the 60's. A Trump re-election this year would likely only increase instability and make a continual pattern of unrest as summer approaches more likely, and certainly COVID lockdowns contributed to a sense of both outrage, boredom and uneasiness that made protests more dynamic. Likely (hopefully) future summers won't have this factor in place. Trump is far from the only reason unrest has risen though, regardless of who occupies the White House, growing unrest remains a possibility. Looking at Black Nationalism, the movement is basically dead. While I have some reservations about implicit calls for segregation from some among the hyper progressive left, in the 60's explicit black separatism was commonplace among activists in a way it just isn't today. Looking at left wing activism, some impediments towards long term sustainability for these movements remain the same from the 60's, but others (such as FBI interference) don't appear to be existent and others (such as family formation moderating view) occur less today than in the 60's. It's too early to tell if 2020 is the left's peak or not. I could easily see a scenario where Biden wins in November and kills a good amount of momentum for the left as they lost their best foil in Donald Trump (someone so broadly easy to hate is unlikely to win office again), but I could also see a reality where the Tea Party model is followed within the Democratic Party and leadership struggles to balance the concerns of Progressives with the concerns of moderates. Democrats should learn from the Republicans failures and ensure elites within the party can still gatekeep elections. The successful anti-Sanders campaign before Super Tuesday shows the party still has some capacity for gatekeeping, especially when contrasted with the failure of Republicans to keep the much less qualified Donald Trump from winning the nomination in 2016. Looking at the right, far right groups still present a threat to the country and should be addressed, (and are being addressed in some cases) but I'm not concerned about the possibility of a second civil war or any of this accelerationist nonsense actually working. Revolution is unlikely. While Justice Dems taking over the Democratic Party is a possibility I worry about, the Bircher takeover of the GOP is farther along than the left's takeover of their party. Perhaps no notable politician best exemplifies the Bircher tradition than Donald Trump, quick to throw out unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, staunchly anti-trade and anti-immigration, gives speeches opposing the "globalists". And this isn't just a Trump phenomenon, a number of Qanon supporters have won primaries this year, the current SoS thinks baseless conspiracies about Ukraine warrant investigation, Ted Cruz blames the "deep state" foremost of policy for Trump's lack of execution on policy. Arguments rooted in conspiracy are commonplace within much of the GOP today and we're likely seeing the consequences of a GOP without a Buckley like gatekeeper to the party's right to prevent the party from straying into dangerous territory. Perhaps these new Birchers will end up self-destructing like countless other extremist groups have, I'd even say it's likely, but until they do the party will continue to find itself in need of some sort of gatekeeping authority to cleanse itself of a seemingly growing neo-Bircher faction.
2020.06.30 01:29 jst4redditThe South China Sea disputes reeks of WWII Appeasement
edit: This blew up in a way I didn't expect, so I'd just wanna point out that I am by no means unbiased. I provided as many sources as possible so that anyone can verify the statements for themselves, even if this means making to your own conclusions. Also, need to point out the PCA is not a court, but rather a tribunal of arbitration. This is an important distinction because a the former litigates and the latter arbitrates. Take care everyone. Monyets I bring to you an issue all of us know but none of us really talk about because of it's complexities, but mainly because it's boring as shit. I was talking with my friend when I realized she was woefully misinformed about the South China Sea dispute, and that's when I realized we need a more ELI5 way to present the facts. I am no political science major but I would love to be corrected because this is the one of the real topics we should be talking about since China has been amp-ing up their aggression with their bullshit 9 Dash Line claims. I will be providing as much sources as I can, and trying to explain this with as much colorful language as possible for entertainment. A detailed analysis will follow below. So, while all this House of Cards political showdown in Malaysia is great and all, this is an equally important issue that all Malaysians should know. TLDR: China is doing some crazy shit and what's happening right now in the South China Sea is eerily similar to how Germany was appeased during World War II. The South China Sea dispute in a nutshell The Claims Just watch this video. Basically, China made huge claims to the South China Sea and the islands within, on some random and ancient historical grounds. These islands are important because of the United Nations Conventions for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) which gives countries 200 nautical miles of territory the right to do fun stuff like fish, mine oil and charge overpriced water activities for tourists. The UN then basically told China to fuck off with their bullshit in 2016, when some international high courttribunal you've never heard of before (Permanent Court of Arbitration) ruled against China. This is important as the court consists of many members, Malaysia being one of them. China of course noped out from agreeing with it, and instead built man made islands and voila here we are today. https://preview.redd.it/f5etn34pzw751.png?width=631&format=png&auto=webp&s=1bee6f18e77826b17ab1c83acac732e8d88945fb So why the US gotta keep sailing round the South China Sea So if the UN ruled against China, problem solved right? Wrong, because how a country gets territory is whether it can exert its power on the territory(Declarative theory of statehood). Might makes right), and it's also the case with a country's borders. Only if a country willingly gives up power over a territory, can that territory be recognized as it's own. Now if that sounds really unfair and fucked up, well tough shit. Basically, it's kind of like if you go out dating and your house is empty, if I can go in and replace your locks with my own, poof your bed is mine now. The US is kind of like the polis. They see me climbing your gate, but because they damn lazy to chase after me and do paperwork, they ronda-ronda around so I will think twice about stealing your sweet sweet bed. (This is probably a bad comparison) So the US sails the disputed South China Seas on purpose, as a middle finger to China's power and thus 'legal' claim over the area. A lot of people here seem to dislike the US for one reason or another, even though they are the only power helping ASEAN stand in China's way of claiming South China Sea. https://preview.redd.it/7w5p86ep4x751.png?width=882&format=png&auto=webp&s=e6fcadb149523384c8982f427d848a7bc9f4ff3b The Chinese Dream It's getting very important that we start to pay attention because Covid-19 is a damned bitch and has wrecked the world's economy and will continue to do so. China might be struggling with the rest of Asia, but they are well positioned to recover first. This is important, because then poorer countries like us that need economic recovery assistance will end up like Africa or Mongolia and fall into their kanina debt politics which will influence us, with their appetite for for their "Chinese Dream". So around 2013, Xi Jinping started coining the phrase 'Chinese Dream'. It's really just a cool waypropaganda to combine socialism and capitalism, daring the young to dream and contribute to the glory of China. Its kinda like the American Dream, which itself was born out of shit like Manifest Destiny, but in reverse. So like Wolf of Wall Street, Chinese money began to look for shit to buy into, and projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was born. China was like some angel from the heavens, making it rain money from the sky, blessing poor countries alike. Highways, railways, ports, cities, you name it and China will build it for you. Before they knew it they were heavily indebt and owing China lots of cash for shit they don't even need. Yes, in some cases they lose more than they hope to gain, but when you lend out money like a loan shark, sometimes getting your money back isn't even that big a deal. Kinda reminds you of KLIA, Sepang & KLCC huh? https://preview.redd.it/xwdab4bg5x751.png?width=503&format=png&auto=webp&s=41f7842321bf5f757d0496a2a53479cb4f226e59 Fuck Get to The Point This kind of money makes countries damn scared to say anything bad about China because fuck it, who doesn't want to get paid? In Philippine's case, they didn't even say much at all. Imagine yeah, the guy who said shoot all the drug dealers now wants to avoid conflict despite having the most advanced army as their ally as well as the legal standing. He has even rejected joint training exercises with the US, and even allowed the same company that built the man-made islands that gave so much trouble a contract in the Philippines. This is an ASEAN country at the edge of the South China Sea disputes, with people even crying out that Duterte lacks balls and he can still be so relatively ambivalent to this kind of behavior. If you don't know history, World War 2 (WW2) happened for a lot of reasons, but a lot of people point to appeasement being one of them. Basically, they had all this shit in the peace treaty from WW1 to avoid WW2 from happening. But Germany slowly kept testing the limits, and because everyone wanted to avoid conflict, they just kept giving in and giving in, and giving in, and giving in until it was too late. I don't know about you guys, but this same exact shit is happening once again, though yes, China is being very smart and subtle about it. China is building shit all over the world secretly and non secretly and even conducting espionage. The only nation to actually take a stand against this kind of practice is ironically Trump's US, who initiated the trade war with tariff's on the Chinese economy. Whether this did more to harm the US (most likely) is not the point, but the fact is this makes US the only nation to actually fight back against China. Even the latest national security bill in Hong Kong has done nothing but drawn "strong condemnation" from everyone but the UK and the US. (Whether condemnation is an effective tool is debatable) https://preview.redd.it/9mi7o40bzw751.png?width=793&format=png&auto=webp&s=acce98794b8ef052a215fe726c95166cd39f70a8 In Summation So obviously, the US is not doing this out of the kindness of their hearts. Like any large power they understand the importance of the logistical routes that run through the South China Sea and more importantly the disadvantages of losing control over such strategically important territory. Given that they are embroiled in a trade war with China, one of the strategies they can employ is to put more pressure on China's sea aggression. ASEAN is the smaller power between the two, and while it would be strategic to let the two superpowers duke it out, there has never been a better time for ASEAN to come together and stand firm. I don't believe conflict is inevitable, but with the strength China is showing and Philippines being the first ASEAN nation to so willingly cede control of its sea, it's definitely on the table. I made this post so that more Malaysians can be aware of the increasingly aggressive actions China is taking, as well as their less aggressive ones such as practicing debt trap diplomacy. While nations are perhaps not as coy as I made them seem to be, they definitely perhaps underestimate the long term effectiveness of having develop both stronger footholds in the South China Sea as well as the development of the RBI. I can only hope that a simplified outlook will encourage more Malaysians to talk about this issue that is currently affecting our neighbors, but if left unchecked will definitely end up on our very shores. A Deeper Perspective https://preview.redd.it/1swzfwn6ex751.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=13a9fe63b14d6e1554305b7e8315c12aeb9dbad6 This post started after watching a video u/stormy001 posted, regarding US Naval Posture and the overall level of Maritime Security in Southeast Asia. It's long, dry and winded, but I manage to summarize what I think is some of their key points. A Summary of Sorts 2010-2020 is a decade of concern as US Naval power decreases relative to China's vast and ever increasing improvement. China is seen as desiring to cut US from their Asian allies in order to gain control of the sea trade routes. This goes hand in hand with the RBI, as China gains access to the Eurasian landmass, forging military relationships that they hope will blossom into strategic benefits into the coming years. The panel believed that the South China Sea (SCS) is core to this strategy, as they can ensure a constant logistic chain to supply efforts in the RBI and shore up their flanks once enough control in SCS is ceded. For Vietnam, realities came into play after the 2014 incident when they had a 1 month stand off over a Chinese oil rig that came into Vietnam's territory. While no shots were fired, there was a definite show of overwhelming force from China that forced Vietnam to rethink its once calm outlook on the SCS disputes. It is also important, as China has actively interfered with ASEAN nations attempt to explore oil and energy within this region, such as the Repsol incident in Vietnam and the more recent Malaysia standoff. Both incidents show China's boldness in a world devastated by Covid-19, a fact that's been highlighted by numerous entities. In the event of conflict, barring a historic change in the world it's hard to foresee that a US or US led coalition of forces would engage in a land war in Asia, underpinning the need for strong Naval presence. However, only Singapore is well equipped with a modern Navy and submarines, while actually affected nations like Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia lack the Naval presence to even mitigate piracy and attacks from terrorists like Abu Sayyaf. Indonesia was another topic that was brought up, as it was seen as a strategic nexus between the Indian and Pacific Ocean (Indo Pacific Region), and they have not been immune to China's bullying. What prevents Indonesia from fulfilling this role however is Joko's inward focus, and fires that he has to put out domestically. Despite coming up with the global maritime fulcrum, a paradigm shift in how Indonesia perceived its status on the world stage, it has largely been put aside. Effective or not, it has enabled Indonesia to focus more on their geographical shortcomings, and building the important domestic maritime infrastructure that before was never really focused on. They asserted that Indonesia should however shrug off their internal focus and to step up its presence in ASEAN policies. Here they suggested the US take a closer look at their politics, and help shape Indonesia to fill this leadership role, in perhaps even a joint-leadership capacity like Indonesia enjoys with Australia with the Bali Process. Soft support could also be encouraged in areas such as the continuance of the illegal fishing task force or the environmental protections agency. There are of course other realities that caution against this exertion of Western influence. For one, there is an alleged 50 million dollars a year from the US pledged to fight Islamic insurgency. While this has helped Indonesia make great progress, it also has given them an incentive to protract the fight as finishing the insurgents off would also mean losing 50 million dollars a year. This affects their priorities on their maritime security challenges, influencing their strategy to be inward focusing, specifically on counter-terrorism. As a result of this inability or unwillingness to sort their internal security in order, they lapse in their maritime security, forcing Malaysia and Philippines to demand a trilateral patrol agreement of their waters. This was a largely effective move, until June of 2019, when Abu Sayyaf continued their kidnapping operations. This in turn caused Malaysia to invest more into ESSCOM (Eastern Sabah Security Command). This all comes to naught however when the realities of military readiness from all the affected ASEAN nations come into play, arguing that it's not so much a lack of will but rather a lack of capacity which necessitates US intervention. This forces an economic battle, which in turn is about projecting a nations capability to be able to prosper in spite of the pressure China may place upon them such as in the case of Taiwan. The loss of TPP severely weakened the US presence in SCS, thus putting less incentive on them to remain in this region to uphold any sort of prosperity or peace (keep in mind this is a US perspective panel). Final Conclusions & Some Points for Discussion I mostly bring this up because of some red flags a few of my Chinese friends saying to me. In essence there are apparently quite a few quiet but hardcore Chinese supporters here, which honestly kind of shocked me. They said things like "finally the Chinese have a reason to be proud in the world", "there is no harm in having China exerting more political power in ASEAN" and most disconcertingly "I would welcome if China came into Malaysia". I am legit surprised that any Malaysian would feel this way, and when pressed on why they think such things the bullshit reasons they gave were no better. "At least China won't fuck with your ability to make money or get an education", "For so long we have been regarded as second-class citizens. Why must we work harder to get on equal playing field?", "What China is doing to the Uighur's is principally the same as how we are treated." Now I have lived in China, and 1000% living in China is bad shit. They actively ban websites, there's this eerie sense of indoctrination from the people, you suddenly feel scared speaking your mind, since they have no problem making you disappear at the drop of a hat. Could things get better? Sure. But it seems that decades of racially charged politics has created a silent minority that I found personally alarming due to the steadfastness of their beliefs. I just need to know if any of you other monyets found more people with similar perspectives, and perhaps what your thoughts are given this has a very serious implication on how we perceive the geo-political realities today.
2020.05.11 15:26 derpblahWhen someone tells you to vote for Joe Biden, remember: The Democrats don't want your vote.
Progressives will refuse to vote for Joe Biden, as a bloc. Joe Biden will lose the election. Democrats will continue to lose. Again. And again. And again. Until they stop pushing right wing policies. Until they give us what we want. If you're a progressive, neither of the two powerful parties represent you. The Democrats have long pretended to, but as modern democracies continue to leave us behind, as the DNC continues to shovel the mantra of "that's not possible" and "how are you going to pay for that" while they go along with dumping trillions of dollars into the hands of big business and wall street with nary a peep of protest, the contradictions can no longer be ignored. The internet exists. We can actually interact with people from other countries, countries that have universal healthcare. But in the United States this is not possible? BULLSHIT. Let's run through a small list of issues and see what Joe Biden and the DNC are offering and their record on these issues:
Small adjustments to the ACA. Mitt Romney's healthcare plan. A ridiculous and failed attempt to allow insurance companies and the for-profit healthcare industry to keep running the show. Millions uninsured, policies that are ridiculously expensive and cover almost nothing, skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices. A joke.
“Joe Biden once spoke about jailing employers who hire ‘illegals,’ said sanctuary cities shouldn't be allowed to violate federal law, and argued a fence was needed stop ‘tons’ of drugs coming into the country from ‘corrupt Mexico,” source
Student debt. Biden is responsible for the student loan debt problem. He stripped bankruptcy protections from student loan debt.
Right wing education policy. Biden helped push through George Bush's No Child Left Behind, a move that has largely harmed public education and teachers.
Terrible judgement and war mongering. Joe Biden voted in favor of the Iraq War and proudly championed the push for war. Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people in the middle east are dead because of this decision, something he now says was a mistake. Can we really afford mistakes like that?
Democrats have given Trump every bit of military money he's requested.
Sabre rattling at Russia and now China.
Biden in particular seems to have a pattern of suggesting he can clean up messes he caused, whether its student loan debt, mass incarceration, or war in the middle east. If someone tells you Biden changed his position on any of the above issues, why the fuck should we believe him? His record is terrible and he is a proven liar. He won't even admit his "former" positions when there's video evidence. Democrats offer progressives lip service and token gestures, but the needle never moves. The country drifts further right, income inequality continues to rise, we work longer hours as the value of our wages declines. Every time the stakes are high, on every important issue, they betray us. When we come close to nominating a true progressive, they close ranks and pull out all the stops to block us. They work harder to stop progressives than they do conservatives. They pander to the right every single election. They work harder to earn the votes of conservatives than they do progressives. They don't want our votes. They would rather nominate a right-wing rapist than allow us to have health care. Enough is enough. Coronavirus has proven that incrementalism is complete and utter bullshit. The next time someone tells you that big changes cannot be made and small changes/slow transitions are the answer, just remember what happened the past few months. How much things changed. How they suddenly found trillions of dollars for the things they wanted to do.
2020.04.10 22:48 -en-@NPR: Doctors in Venezuela say many health care workers have left amid the country's economic crisis. Many hospitals don't have necessities — including soap and running water. Now, they're contending with a pandemic. https://t.co/35O4ifFQ2z
2020.04.10 17:48 -en-@NPR: Venezuela's economic crisis has wrecked its health system, creating severe shortages of protective equipment, intensive care beds and personnel. Some are worried COVID-19 could soon bring a new humanitarian catastrophe to the country. https://t.co/OxiCVm6nvd
2020.04.08 00:47 vanillablueseaImmediate Aftermath : The more data we collect and analyze, the clearer the picture becomes.
This is the updated first part of the list that has recorded the notable events as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. [2nd Part] ― The LINKS to events and sources are placed throughout the timeline. ------------------------ The More Data We Collect and Analyze, the Clearer the Picture Becomes. Someone threw a stone in a pond a long way away. And we're only just feeling the ripples. — Fukuhara from Giri/Haji, Netflix series ------------------------ On Jan 30, Italian PM announced that Italy had blocked all flights to and from China. While Italy has banned people from air-travelling to China, however according to IATA data, there's no measurement implemented for air-travellers from China into Italy till the Mar 07. Especially for Chinese people who have EU passports. On Jan 31, the US announced the category-I travel restrictions, barring all foreigners who have been in China for the past 14 days, with measures including the refusal of visas and mandatory quarantine. • "Because the US focused on China and didn't expect the infected people's entry from Europe and the Middle East, the Maginot Line was breached from behind. And so little of credible data at the beginning made the US government to miscalculate its strategic response to the virus." — Dr. Zhang Lun, currently a visiting scholar at Harvard (economics & sociology), during the interview with ICPC on Mar 29. Also on Jan 31, the WHO changed its tune and declared the coronavirus outbreak a Global Public Health Emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
Decisions on a PHEIC always involve politics .... West African countries discouraged a declaration in 2014 after they were hit by the largest Ebola virus outbreak on record, mainly because of concern about the economic impact.
------------------------ On Feb 02, regarding the US category-I travel restrictions, Kamala Harris, the former Democratic presidential candidate, declared on Twitter:
Since 2017, Trump’s travel bans have never been rooted in national security—they’re about discriminating against people of color. They are, without a doubt, rooted in anti-immigrant, white supremacist ideologies. This travel ban is no different.
On Feb 03, criticizing Trump for his travel restrictions continues. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (华春莹), a Peking University professors James Liang (梁建章), New York Times, the Nation, OBSERVER, the Boston Globe, Yahoo, and Daily Kos were saying, it's a "panicky" decision and "racist" or it's "cruel and callous," he's stoking fear for political gains, and the president is "inappropriately overreacting." And professors Liang even said the US ban "will hurt goodwill and cooperation [with China] in the future."          Also on Feb 03, Mr. Tedros of the WHO said there's no need for travel ban measure that "unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade" trying to halt the spread of the virus.
China's delegate took the floor ... and denounced measures by "some countries" that have denied entry to people holding passports issued in Hubei province - at the centre of the outbreak - and to deny visas and cancel flights.
Also on Feb 03, China is expected to gradually implement a larger stimulus packages (in total) than a USD $572 billion from 2008. — We'd never find out but my guess is that the fund will probably go to Shanghai clique. On Feb 04, The FDA has given emergency authorization to a new test kit by the CDC that promises to help public health labs meet a potential surge in cases.
The speed ... pushing through a new diagnostic test shows just how seriously they’re taking the potentially pandemic threat of 2019-nCoV. It’s also a sign that the world is starting to learn how to deal with an onslaught of new pathogens.
Also on Feb 04, the Wuhan Institute of Virology and China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS, Chief Chen Wei belongs to) have jointly applied to patent the use of Remdesivir. Scientists from both institutes said in a paper published in Nature’s Cell Research that they found both Remdesivir and Chloroquine to be an effective way to inhibit the coronavirus. On Feb 06, Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research & analysis unit, noted that with State Council of PRC praising his performance of containing the pandemic situation, the council expanded Li Keqiang's political control over Politburo Standing Committee of CCP. (Li Keqiang = Communist Youth League = Shanghai clique) Also, on Feb 06, as the US evacuation planes leave China, the wave of the US evacuees have arrived who are met by the CDC personnel at the quarantine sites for screening, and those who were suspected of infection will be placed under quarantine for 14 days. Also, on Feb 06, a CDC-developed lab test kit to detect the new coronavirus began shipping to qualified US laboratories and international ones. — However, on Feb 12, the CDC said some of the testing kits have flaws and do not work properly. The CDC finally ended up shipping the working test kits for mass testings on Feb 27. This was three weeks later than originally planned. On Feb 07, China National Petroleum has recently declared Force Majeure on gas imports. They are trying to create a breathing room for their foreign exchange reserves shortage. China's foreign exchange reserves fell to mere USD $3.1 trillion in Oct. 2019. On the same day, Bloomberg reported that PetroChina has directed employees in 20 countries to buy N95 face masks and send them home in China. The goal is to get 2 million masks shipped back. You can also find YouTube videos that show Overseas Chinese are scouring the masks at the Home Depot to ship them to China (the video in Korean). Also Chris Smith is pissed. On Feb 09, Trump renews his national emergency on its southern border, and Elizabeth Goitein from the Brennan Center for Justice, published an opinion article on New York Times titled "Trump Has Abused This Power. And He Will Again if He’s Not Stopped." On Feb 10, Dr. Tedros said that an advance three-person team of the WHO arrived in Beijing for a joint mission to discuss with Chinese officials the agenda and questions. Then, the joint mission of about 10 international experts will soon follow, he said. — Those WHO experts ended up visiting Chinese epicentre for the first time on Feb 24. On Feb 12, the US targets Russian oil company for helping Venezuela skirt sanctions. The US admin seemingly tried to secure leverage against Russia after noticing something suspicious was up. On the same day, Trump told Reuters "I hope this outbreak or this event (for the US) may be over in something like April." — Dr. Zhong Nanshan (钟南山), China's top tier SARS-hero doctor, also said "the peak of the virus (for China) should come in mid to late February, followed by a plateau or decrease," adding that his forecast was based on on mathematical modelling and data from recent events and government action. On Feb 13, Tom Frieden who is a former US CDC chief and currently the head of public health nonprofit Resolve to Save Lives, said:
As countries are trying to develop their own control strategies, they are looking for evidence of whether the situation in China is getting worse or better. [But] We still don't have very basic information. [since the WHO just entered China] We hope that information will be coming out.
On the same day, the CDC reports that the 15th case in the US was confirmed. The patient was a part of group who were under a federal quarantine order at the JBSA-Lackland base because of a recent trip to Hubei Province, China. By Feb 13, China hasn't accepted the US CDC's offer to send top experts, and they haven't released the "disaggregated" data (specific figures broken out from the overall numbers) even though repeatedly been asked. On Feb 14, CCP's United Front posted an article on its official website, saying (Eng. text by Google Translation):
Fast! There is no time difference to raise urgently needed materials! Some Overseas Chinese have used their professions in the field of medicine in order to purchase relevant materials Hubei province in short of supply (to send them to China). .... Some Overseas Chinese took advantage of the connection resources, opened green transportation channels through our embassies and consulates abroad, and their related enterprises, and quickly sent large quantities of medical supplies (to China), making this love relay link and cooperation seamless.
On Feb 18, Reuters reports that 3M is on the list of firms eligible for China loans to ease coronavirus crisis.
There is no indication from the list that loans offered will necessarily be sought, or that such firms are in any financial need. The Bank of Shanghai told Reuters it will lend 5.5 billion yuan ($786 million) to 57 firms on its list.
On Feb 21, Xi Jinping writes a thank-you letter to Bill Gates for his foundation’s support to China regarding COVID-19 outbreak. On Feb 24, China was rumoured on Twitter to delay the phase one trade deal implementation indefinitely which includes the increase of China's purchasing American products & services by at least $200 billion over the next two years. Also on Feb 24, S&P 500 Index started to drop. Opened with 3225.9 and closed 3128.2. By the Mar 23, it dropped to 2208.9. Also on Feb 24, China's National Health Commission says the WHO experts have visited Wuhan city for the first time, the locked-down central Chinese city at the epicentre, inspecting two hospitals and a makeshift one at a sports centre. On Feb 26, IF the picture that has been circulated on Twitter were real, then chief Chen Wei and her team have developed the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine within time frame of a month. On the same day, the CDC's latest figures displays 59 people in the US who have tested positive for COVID-19. Also on Feb 26, the Washington Post published an article that says:
.... the WHO said it has repeatedly asked Chinese officials for "disaggregated" data — meaning specific figures broken out from the overall numbers — that could shed light on hospital transmission and help assess the level of risk front-line workers face. "We received disaggregated information at intervals, though not details about health care workers," said Tarik Jasarevic of the WHO. — The comment, in an email on Feb 22 to the Post, was one of the first instances that the WHO had directly addressed shortcomings in China's reporting or handling of the coronavirus crisis.
On Feb 27, after missteps, the CDC says its test kit is ready and the US started to expand testing. On Feb 28, China transferred more than 80,000 Uighurs to factories used by global brands such as Apple, Nike, & Volkswagen & among others. Also on Feb 28, the WHO published the official report of the WHO-China joint mission on coronavirus disease 2019. (PDF) On Feb 29, quoting Caixin media's investigation published on the same day, Lianhe Zaobao, the largest Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper, published an article reporting the following:
Dr. Li Wenliang said in the interview with Caixin media; [in Dec 2019] another doctor (later turned out to be Dr. Ai Fen) examined and tried to treat a patient who exhibited SARS-like symptoms which akin to influenza resistant to conventional treatment methods. And "the family members who took care of her (the patient) that night also had a fever, and her other daughter also had a fever. This is obviously from person to person" Dr. Li said in the interview."
------------------------ On Mar 01, China's State Council super tighten up their already draconian internet law. On the same day,Princelings published an propaganda called "A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combating COVID-19 in 2020" which compiles numerous state media accounts on the heroic leadership of Xi Jinping, the vital role of the Communist Party, and the superiority of the Chinese system in fighting the virus. Starting on Mar 03, the US Fed has taken two significant measures to provide monetary stimulus. It's going to be no use as if a group of people with serious means are manipulating the markets to make sure MM will have liquidity concerns when they need it most. On Mar 04, Xinhua News, China's official state-run press agency posted an article "Be bold: the world should thank China" which states that
If China retaliates against the US at this time, it will also announce strategic control over medical products, and ban exports of said products to the US. ... If China declares today that its drugs are for domestic use only, the US will fall into the hell of new coronavirus epidemic.
On Mar 05, Shanghai Index has recovered the coronavirus loss almost completely. On Mar 07, Saudi's Ahmed bin Abdulaziz and Muhammad bin Nayef were arrested on the claims of plotting to overthrow King Salman. — Ahmed bin Abdulaziz is known to have very tight investment-interest relationship with Bill Gates, Bill Browder, Blackstone, & BlackRock: One common factor that connects these people is China. On Mar 08, the Russia–Saudi oil price war has begun. The ostensible reason was simple: China, the biggest importer of oil from Saudi and Russia, was turning back tankers while claiming that the outbreak forced its economy to a standstill. On Mar 10, the Washington Post published the article saying that the trade group for manufacturers of personal protective equipment urged in 2009 "immediate action" to restock the national stockpile including N95 masks, but it hasn't been replenished since. On Mar 11, the gentleman at the WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak a "Global Pandemic." He called on governments to change the course of the outbreak by taking "urgent and aggressive action." This was a full twelve days after the organization published the official report regarding the situation in China. On Mar 13, the US admin declared a National Emergency and announced the plan to release $50 billion in federal resources amid COVID-19. Also on Mar 13, China's Ministry of Commerce states that China is now the best region for global investment hedging. On Mar 15, Business Insider reports that Trump tried to poach German scientists working on a coronavirus vaccine and offered cash so it would be exclusive to the US. The problem is the official CureVac (the German company) twitter account, on Mar 16, 2020, tweeted the following:
To make it clear again on coronavirus: CureVac has not received from the US government or related entities an offer before, during and since the Task Force meeting in the White House on March 2. CureVac rejects all allegations from press.
On Mar 16, the fan club of European globalists has published a piece titled, "China and Coronavirus: From Home-Made Disaster to Global Mega-Opportunity." The piece says:
The Chinese method is the only method that has proved successful [in fighting the virus], is a message spread online in China by influencers, including many essentially promoting propaganda. ... it is certainly a message that seems to be resonating with opinion leaders around the world.
On the same day, unlike China that had one epicentre, Wuhan city, the US now overtakes China with most cases reporting multiple epicentres simultaneously. Also on Mar 16, the US stocks ended sharply lower with the Dow posting its worst point drop in history. But some showed a faint hint of uncertain hope. On Mar 17, according to an article on Chinese version of Quora, Zhihu, chief Chen Wei and her team with CanSino Biologics officially initiated a Phase-1 clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccine at the Wuhan lab, Hubei China, which Bloomberg News confirmed. — Click HERE, then set its time period as 1 year, and see when the graph has started to move up. Also on Mar 17, China's state media, China Global TV Network (CGTN), has produced YouTube videos for Middle Eastern audiences to spread the opinion that the US has engineered COVID-19 events. Also on Mar 17, Al Jazeera reported that the US President has been criticized for repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus" as critics saying Trump is "fueling bigotry." • China's Xinhua News tweeted "Racism is not the right tool to cover your own incompetence." • Tucker Carlson asked: "Why would America's media take China's side amid coronavirus pandemic?" • Also, Mr. Bill Gates: "We should not call this the Chinese virus." On Mar 19, for the first time, China reports zero local infections. Also on Mar 19, Al Jazeera published an analysis report, titled "Coronavirus erodes Trump's re-election prospects." On Mar 22, Bloomberg reports that China's mobile carriers lost 21 million users during this pandemic event. It's said to be the first net decline since starting to report monthly data in 2000. On Mar 26, EURACTV reports that China cashes in off coronavirus, selling Spain $466 million in supplies. However, Spain returns 9,000 "quick result" test kits to China, because they were deemed substandard. — Especially the sensibility of the test was around 30 percent, when it should be higher than 80 percent. ------------------------ On Apr 03, Germany and other governments are bolstering corporate defenses to address worries that coronavirus-weakened companies could be easy prey for bargain hunting by China's state owned businesses. On Apr 05, New York Times says "Trump Again Promotes Use of Unproven Anti-Malaria Drug (hydroxychloroquine)." On Apr 06, a Democratic State Rep. Karen Whitsett from Detroit credits hydroxychloroquine and President Trump for "saving her in her battle with the coronavirus." On Apr 07, the US CDC removed the following part from its website.
Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown, some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally different hydroxychloroquine dosing such as: 400mg BID on day one, then daily for 5 days; 400 mg BID on day one, then 200mg BID for 4 days; 600 mg BID on day one, then 400mg daily on days 2-5.
------------------------ ☞ If there were ever a time for people not to be partisan and tribal, the time has come: We need to be ever vigilant and attentive to all kinds of disinformation & misinformation to see it better as well as to be sharp in our lives. — We really do need to come together. ☞ At first, I was going to draw up a conspiracy theory-oriented list focused on Team-Z, especially Mr. Gates. However, although it's nothing new tbh, recently many chats and discussions seem overflowing with disinformation & misinformation which is, in my opinion, particularly painful at a time like this. Hence, this post became a vanilla list that's just recorded the notable events. — We all are subject to misinformation, miscalculation, and misjudgment. But the clearer the picture becomes the better we can identify Funkspiel. ------------------------ ☞ Immediate Aftermath pt.2.a ------------------------ ☞ Feasible Timeline of the Operation ------------------------ ☞ Go Back to the Short Story. ----
2020.04.03 15:31 rusticgorillaCoronavirus response: Stockpile for me, not for thee
Welcome, dear readers, to the second installment of my coronavirus roundup. If you all find it helpful, I'll post these every Friday in addition to Lost in the Sauce on Mondays. The title is a reference to this Jared Kushner moment from yesterday. Housekeeping:
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More warnings ignored
On March 6, President Trump said the coronavirus crisis was “an unforeseen problem” that “came out of nowhere.” On March 11: "We're having to fix a problem that, four weeks ago, nobody ever thought would be a problem.” Trump insisted on March 19 that “nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before. ... Nobody ever thought of numbers like this." As we saw in last week’s round-up, this is not true. Trump’s administration ignored recurring warnings that spanned his entire time in office and originated from varied sectors. This week, we learned of even more instances of overlooked and rejected alarm signals. 2003-2015: As evidence that part of the government’s failure to respond to the coronavirus outbreak is systemic, there were at least 10 government reports on ventilator shortages that pre-date the Trump administration. In 2003, the Government Accountability Office warned that “few hospitals have adequate medical equipment, such as the ventilators that are often needed for respiratory infections ... to handle the large increases in the number of patients that may result” from an infectious disease outbreak.” In 2015, DHS and CDC modeled a scenario in which a high severity influenza outbreak would “need approximately 35,000 to 60,500 additional ventilators, averting a pandemic total 178,000 to 308,000 deaths." 2017: The Defense Department created a pandemic influenza response plan that specifically referenced the possibility of a dangerous coronavirus outbreak. The plan foresaw the medical supply shortages we’re now facing: “Competition for, and scarcity of resources will include…non-pharmaceutical MCM [Medical Countermeasures] (e.g., ventilators, devices, personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves), medical equipment, and logistical support. This will have a significant impact on the availability of the global workforce.” June 2017: A study by the CDC advised public health agencies to “stockpile critical medical resources,” warning that the Strategic National Stockpile “might not suffice to meet demand during a severe public health emergency.” On Wednesday, DHS officials said the emergency stockpile was “nearly exhausted” of medical supplies like masks and gloves. While there are reportedly about 9,500 ventilators in the stockpile (see more below), governors and experts predict the nation will need tens of thousands more in order to keep infected patients alive and breathing. 2019: Last fall, the White House Council of Economic Advisers published a report estimating the health and economic losses associated with a potential influenza pandemic. In the most serious scenario, the report determined that over half a million people could die from a pandemic in America and warned that “healthy people might avoid work and normal social interactions... incapacitating a large fraction of the population.” Critically, the report cautions against conflating the seasonal flu with a pandemic disease, which is exactly what Trump did as the coronavirus spread across the country.
Trump tweet on March 9: "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
Mid-January 2020: At a March 30 House Oversight Committee briefing, “HHS admitted that the Department knew as early as mid-January based on 2015 models that the United States would not have enough N95 respirator masks to respond to an infectious disease outbreak.” January and February 2020: National security adviser Robert C. O’Brien and his deputy, Matthew Pottinger, were pushing for “strong action” earlier than others in the administration. Pottinger, who lived in China during the SARS crisis, knew that the Chinese government was underplaying the outbreak in their country and, with O’Brien, “repeatedly pressed other top [U.S.] officials to take the threat more seriously.” According to the Washington Post, then-acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were among the officials who were not convinced. Feb. 3, 2020: The Daily Beast reported: “An unclassified briefing document on the novel coronavirus prepared on Feb. 3 by U.S. Army-North projected that ‘between 80,000 and 150,000 could die.’ ...if the White House had heeded an Army warning nearly two months ago, it might have prompted earlier action to prevent an outbreak that threatens to kill more Americans than two to four Vietnam Wars.” Feb. 5, 2020: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for $2 billion to buy respirator masks and other supplies for the depleted Strategic National Stockpile. The request turned into a “shouting match” on Feb. 5 between Azar and an OMB official, who alleged that Azar improperly lobbied Congress for money for the stockpile. The White House cut the $2 billion down to just $500 million in the final budget request sent to Congress.
More details: In February 2019, the White House was planning for a presidential executive order on preparing for a potential flu pandemic. HHS requested a more than $11 billion investment over 10 years for [the stockpile]...some of those funds would go toward “better protective devices, manufactured faster.” But the executive order issued by Trump in September 2019 did not include that money.
Feb. 5, 2020: While Azar was trying to secure funding via the White House OMB, he was simultaneously denying additional funding from Congress. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted on Feb. 5 about a coronavirus briefing he had attended, saying “Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff etc. And they need it now.” In an interview last week, Murphy explained that numerous lawmakers demanded to know why the administration wasn’t asking Congress for funding for medical supplies. “Their position was that this wasn’t the moment to start panicking, staffing up and buying supplies,” Murphy continued.
More details from WaPo: “Crucially, several lawmakers were already telling administration officials that ‘our local public health systems were fundamentally just not ready,’ Murphy told me. ‘States were beginning to grapple with some of the most thorny questions, and it was clear the administration didn’t understand the scope of what was going to be necessary.’”
Yahoo News: “Had we appropriated money in February to start buying re-agent, we would be in a position to do many more tests today than we are,” Murphy said. ”It was just so clear to us that the administration didn't think this was going to be a problem. We begged them in that meeting to request emergency funding from the Congress and they told us ... that they had everything that they needed on hand, which was false.”
Late February: The Daily Beast reported: “A high-ranking federal official in late February warned that the United States needed to plan for not having enough personal protective equipment for medical workers as they began to battle the novel coronavirus, according to internal emails obtained by Kaiser Health News.”
Testing still an obstacle
On March 10, Vice President and leader of the coronavirus task force Mike Pence told the country that “over a million tests have been distributed” and promised "more than 4 million more tests" would be available across the country by the end of that week. Three days later, on March 13, Trump said we would have “1.4 million tests” within the following week “and 5 million within a month.” However, at the end of March, the COVID Tracking Project reported only 964,865 total tests had been conducted, including available data from private labs. This number is far short of the promises made by the White House. When asked about the discrepancies last month, Trump said: “I cannot explain the gap. I’m hearing very good things on the ground.” Just days ago, on a conference call with Trump and other governors, Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana) told the president that his state doesn’t have enough tests to trace the spread of the virus (audio). “Literally we are one day away, if we don’t get test kits from the C.D.C., that we wouldn’t be able to do testing in Montana,” Bullock said. “I haven’t heard about testing in weeks...I haven’t heard about testing being a problem,” Trump responded, also repeating the inaccurate claim that “We’ve tested more now than any nation in the world.”
Fact check: The U.S. has tested only 1 in 366 people. South Korea has tested 1 in every 124 people.
Bullock’s complaint that states were struggling with a lack of testing kits was backed up by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who told NPR that Trump’s claim that states have adequate testing supplies is “just not true,” adding that “no state has enough testing.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told CNN last week that his state has “a desperate need for the testing kits” and lacks “the materials to take the test itself… things as simple as the swabs.”
Reminder: Washington scientists wanted to test for the coronavirus in January, when the first U.S. case was confirmed (in a man who arrived from Wuhan). But the FDA prevented local labs from performing the tests. A professor at the University of Washington became exasperated mid-February trying to get approval, saying “This virus is faster than the F.D.A.” On Feb. 25, a Seattle team began testing without government approval, confirming the first instance of community-transmission of COVID-19 in the nation. “It must have been here this entire time,” Dr. Chu recalled thinking with dread. “It’s just everywhere already.”
There is evidence to suggest that the federal government has shipped out more tests than the COVID Tracking Project reports. CNN and The Atlantic have reported that commercial labs have a huge backlog of coronavirus tests to process. These pending results would not be captured by the Tracking Project. For instance, New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics had about 160,000 coronavirus test orders waiting to be processed on March 25 from across the country. California apparently has the largest backlog in its private labs, with over 57,400 people waiting for results at the end of March. Drive-through testing Another Trump promise that never materialized: During one of the corporate showcases masquerading as a coronavirus briefing, the president brought the executives of Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and CVS before the TV cameras to announce a network of drive-through COVID-19 testing sites across the country (video). Despite having a combined 26,400 U.S. stores, these four retailers have only opened four testing sites, none of which are open to the general public:
Walgreens and CVS have opened one site each, while Walmart last weekend opened two drive-through testing locations near Chicago. Target hasn’t opened any. Rite Aid, which joined the effort later, has opened one drive-through facility in Philadelphia.
Why is widespread testing important? Iceland, a country of just 360,000 people, has tested 5% of its population for coronavirus. A biopharma company has screened the wider population, not just those with symptoms, and found that around 50% of those who tested positive said they were asymptomatic. This is critical because it confirms that people without symptoms can spread the virus. Right now, in America, we’re only testing those with severe symptoms (and even then, some states are unable to test anyone except healthcare workers). Until we have the capacity to test asymptomatic people as well, we’ll never know who should be self-quarantining.
States plead for supplies
A prediction from the past I’d like to open this section with a quote from President Trump about his interactions with governors desperate for medical supplies for their states: “I want them to be appreciative. I don't want them to say things that aren't true. I want them to be appreciative. We've done a great job.” Later, Trump said he has told Pence not to call the Governor of Washington or the Governor of Michigan because “if they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.” Now, a quote from Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan during her testimony in the impeachment inquiry on Dec. 4, 2019: “What would you think if, when your governor asked the federal government for the disaster assistance that Congress has provided, the President responded, ‘I would like you to do us a favor. I’ll... send the disaster relief once you brand my opponent a criminal.’” Can we really say that the scenario we’re living through today is different from what Karlan predicted? ‘I would like you to do us a favor. I’ll send the coronavirus aid once you publicly praise me.’ Trump was impeached for holding aid hostage to his selfish, venal demands and Republicans refused to convict. Now, he is repeating the same behavior in the middle of a pandemic. Unequal distribution Some states seem to have better luck at getting supplies from the national stockpile than others. Occasionally these disparities occur along ideological lines, but just as often there seems to be no (visible) pattern to which states receive aid and which miss out. This leaves us with two equally disturbing conclusions: Either the federal government is playing favorites with life-saving medical supplies, or the federal government is too incompetent to fulfill basic orders from the states. One instance that piques suspicions of partisan bias: Florida, headed by Trump-ally Ron DeSantis, has received 100% of its requests with a third surplus shipment on the way. Meanwhile, Democratic-leaning Massachusetts has only gotten 17% of the personal protective equipment (PPE) it requested and Colorado, led by a Democratic governor, received “enough for only one full day of statewide operations.”
Officials in Florida have pointed to the close relationship between DeSantis and Trump as a helpful tool in shaping federal policy. The two speak almost daily… Trump will probably need the 29 electoral votes of his adopted homestead to win reelection… “The president knows Florida is so important for his reelection, so when DeSantis says that, it means a lot,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be frank. “He pays close attention to what Florida wants.” (WaPo)
Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee released confirmation from DHS and FEMA that states are not receiving enough supplies from the stockpile - aside from Florida, apparently:
The Oversight Committee released documents suggesting dramatic shortfalls of equipment requested by states in FEMA's Region III, which includes Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C. Collectively, the states and D.C. sought 5.2 million respirator masks, but received less than 10 percent of their requests. And they received less than 1 percent of their request for 194 million pairs of gloves. A request for 15,000 body bags went unfulfilled as well.
To rebut evidence that the federal supply is not being used correctly, Jared Kushner, leader of a shadow task force, made the extraordinary, and inaccurate, claim that the federal stockpile “is supposed to be our stockpile, it’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.” The website (view archived version) for the Strategic National Stockpile clearly spells out the opposite: “When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency.” EDIT: After Kushner said this, the SNS website changed the definition of the stockpile, so it now says it exists just to supplement state supplies: “Many states have products stockpiled, as well.”
Kushner also repeatedly advised Trump in the early days of the outbreak that the media was exaggerating the threat. That Google website that Trump falsely announced was coming? That was Kushner, too. Meanwhile behind the scenes a Kushner family health insurance company (Oscar Health) built the website that was promised. A senior official described Kushner’s “shadow” task force as “a ‘frat party’ that descended from a U.F.O. and invaded the federal government.”
This basically sums up the danger Kushner is putting us all in: "when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. 'I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,' Kushner reportedly said. 'I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.' (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)"
eBay for supplies The President and the task force have directed states not to rely on the stockpile and to turn to the private sector instead. However, simultaneously the president has refused to take control of the supply chain, instead encouraging an eBay-like bidding war between itself, all 50 states, and private hospitals.
"It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator," a frustrated Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., said Tuesday morning, adding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's bids are pushing the cost of medical supplies higher. "I mean, how inefficient. And then, FEMA gets involved! And FEMA starts bidding! And now FEMA is bidding on top of the 50 [states]. So FEMA is driving up the price. What sense does this make?" Elizabeth Warren: Trump told states they were on their own to purchase medical equipment, so that’s what MA tried to do. But then the federal government outbid MA at least 3 times – and reports show two of our orders were seized by federal authorities. This is unacceptable. MA requested supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile nearly a month ago. Only a fraction ever came. Without Trump’s full & consistent use of the DPA, state officials are still scrambling to find essential equipment but the federal govt has created a logistical black hole.
Defective equipment Even when the federal government has sent supplies to states, sometimes the materials are defective or simply not what’s needed.
After criticizing Trump’s response to the outbreak, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) was sent surgical masks instead of the 300,000 N95 masks the White House promised. “I can’t emphasize enough how much we need the federal government to step up and amplify the size of their PPE [personal protective equipment] deliveries to Illinois and frankly across the nation,” Pritzker said.
Last Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) announced that “LA received 170 broken ventilators from the national stockpile,” the entire shipment. "Rather than complaining about it, rather than pointing fingers about it...We got a car and a truck, we had those 170 taken to a facility” to be refurbished, Newsom said.
Almost 6,000 masks that Montgomery County (AL) received from the national stockpile were rotted and had a 2010 expiration date, according to Christi Thornton, the local emergency management director. Thornton said they received a replacement shipment Wednesday.
I'm addressing the problems with ventilators in a separate section, because it is a uniquely expensive piece of medical equipment desperately needed across the country. First, there are not enough ventilators in the reserve for all the states. This is complicated by the fact that Trump and Pence do not believe states need as many machines as they’re requesting:
Officials in Illinois say they asked for 4,000 and got 450. New Jersey sought 2,300 and got 300. New Mexico has only 370. Virginia requested 350 ventilators but has not received any. The governor of Illinois asked Vice President Mike Pence for 4,000 ventilators this week and was told the state would not need that many. (NYT) Video: Trump told.Sean Hannity. ‘I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes, they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying can we order 30K ventilators?’” Video: ABC News’s Jonathan Karl asked Trump if “everybody who needs one will be able to get a ventilator?” To which Trump responded, “Look, don’t be a cutie pie, okay? Nobody’s done what we’ve been able to do.”
Second, as Gov. Newsom discovered, many ventilators in the stockpile do not work. The New York Times reported that apart from the 9,500 Trump has spoken about being in the reserve, “an additional 2,109 lifesaving devices are unavailable after the contract to maintain the government’s stockpile lapsed late last summer, and a contracting dispute meant that a new firm did not begin its work until late January.” Presumably, Newsom did not receive 170 of the 2,109 that are out of commission, revealing that a certain percentage of the 9,500 ventilators do not work, either.
As White House officials have for the first time looked at a supply they had not thought about, they have discovered it is not only far smaller than what they need — it is also in constant need of maintenance.
Third, Trump is belatedly using the Defense Production Act (DPA) in a very limited fashion to compel one company, General Motors, to begin mass-producing ventilators… or is he? In a Politico interview, the president's top trade official, Peter Navarro, said the administration has not been able to verify whether GM has made any progress since the Defense Production Act was invoked Fourth, the confusion about ventilators exceeds just the use of the DPA. According to the House Oversight Committee, FEMA reported that most of the 100,000 ventilators promised by President Trump will not be available until late June at the earliest. Fifth, a ventilator manufacturer is negotiating with Jared Kushner to build complex and expensive ventilators when taxpayers have already paid $32.8 million for 10,000 low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilators that were never delivered. ProPublica’s investigation found that Health and Human Services has been “remarkably deferential” to the company, Royal Philips N.V., even during the pandemic when Philips has prioritized commercial sales over beginning the government’s order.
Had government officials insisted that Philips first produce the ventilators that taxpayers paid to design, the government could conceivably be distributing all 10,000 to hospitals now.
The Defense Production Act
“The government’s not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping, we’re not a shipping clerk,” Trump said. “As with testing, the governors are supposed to be doing it.” A “shipping clerk” is exactly what is needed, though. The federal government could help by using the Defense Production Act (DPA) to procure resources and direct production to resolve supply shortages:
The federal government could get involved and place an order for masks, which would get fulfilled first because a DPA order takes priority over all others. Then, because the government knows which areas have the most need for those masks, it can distribute them appropriately... The federal government can find other sources of those materials and then put in an order to have the company sell the materials to the federal government instead of using them to make their own products.(Vox)
Trump’s resistance to using the DPA at its full force is especially puzzling considering the federal government’s long history of using the act… for weapons of war. The New York Times reported last week that Trump himself has used the DPA to “place hundreds of thousands of orders” for equipment before the pandemic struck.
Invoking the Defense Production Act is hardly a rare occurrence. As recently as last summer, the Department of Defense used it to obtain rare earth metals needed to build lasers, jet engines, and armored vehicles. The Defense Department estimates that it has used the law’s powers 300,000 times a year.
As has already become obvious, Trump recognized the problem too late, ignoring January warnings from medical experts that the U.S. will face a critical shortage of ventilators. Had the president acted sooner, thousands of new ventilators would probably be coming off production lines next month. Even after the problem was recognized, under the leadership of Jared Kushner, the White House and FEMA “struggled to define what was needed, who would pay for it and how to solve the problem of supply chains that stretched across more than a dozen countries.” Now, with Trump beginning to use the DPA for (some) ventilators, there are new challenges.
The president needs to use the DPA for PPE like masks
The federal government needs to direct manufacturers on where to deliver their newly-produced supplies. CNN reported last week that “medical and ventilator manufacturing companies said they have pressed the federal government to take on the role of deciding where to place their supplies. But those calls, these companies said, have gone unanswered.” Abbott Labs, which developed the rapid-response tests Trump showcased last week, is asking the administration where to deploy the tests. Some White House officials reportedly want to ship the tests to rural areas, while officials in hard-hit areas argue that the tests are most useful for first responders and health-care workers in hotspots.
FEMA is importing medical supplies from overseas, but only a portion is being delivered to hospitals in coronavirus hotspots. “The rest will resupply the private market, where competition between states and the federal government has been a source of frustration for governors,” according to CNN. "Everything that's brought, 80% of it, is just dumped into the private market. So then governors are competing against one another, at times the federal government, to try to get these supplies," Montana Gov. Bullock (D) said
There have been a ton of news stories that deserve coverage here. Unfortunately, I am but one person with a 40,000 character limit. So here are some links to articles that would appear above in an ideal world:
NYT: The 1,000-Bed Comfort Was Supposed to Aid New York. It Has 20 Patients. “It’s a joke,” said a top hospital executive, whose facilities are packed with coronavirus patients.
Buzzfeed News: Coronavirus Cases Have Surged, But The US Is Refusing To Take The World’s Most Available Masks
USA Today: U.S. exported millions in masks and ventilators ahead of the coronavirus crisis
Politico: Last week, a Trump administration official working to secure much-needed protective gear for doctors and nurses in the United States had a startling encounter with counterparts in Thailand. The official asked the Thais for help—only to be informed by the puzzled voices on the other side of the line that a U.S. shipment of the same supplies, the second of two so far, was already on its way to Bangkok. Trump aides were alarmed when they learned of the exchange, and immediately put the shipment on hold while they ordered a review of U.S. aid procedures.
Salon: Study: Republican governors “slower” to adopt coronavirus restrictions, causing “significant” harm; The study itself from the University of Washington.
Axios: Florida's slow response may have made its coronavirus outbreak worse
Tampa Bay Times: Hours after Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order, he quietly signed another one that appeared to override restrictions put in place by local governments to halt the spread of coronavirus.
NBC News: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp admits he just learned asymptomatic people can spread coronavirus
NBC News: Navy relieves captain who raised alarm about coronavirus outbreak on aircraft carrier
Stars and Stripes: Pentagon orders installations to stop reporting coronavirus cases as military-linked infections eclipse 1,000
2020.04.03 04:10 GraphenesA Venezuelan Navy vessel recently sank itself after ramming a cruise liner with an ice class hull, rated 1A Super, in the Caribbean Sea on March 30, 2020. The steel-hulled patrol ship suffered severe damage from repeatedly ramming the cruise ship, began to take on water, and ultimately sank.
A Venezuelan Navy vessel recently sank itself after ramming a cruise liner in the Caribbean Sea on March 30, 2020. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/32853/this-venezuelan-patrol-ship-sunk-itself-after-ramming-a-cruise-liner-with-an-reinforced-hull The cruise ship, which had no passengers on board at the time and has a reinforced hull to sail through ice-filled waters, suffered only minimal damage in what the operating company, Columbia Cruise Services, has called an "act of aggression ... in international waters." https://preview.redd.it/udu92rnrgiq41.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=2a335b121ebe42ab99c72cf3a664f8bc50a9a6f4 The incident occurred in the early hours of Mar. 30, 2020, but Columbia Cruise Services only released an official statement on Apr. 1. The company, which is headquartered in Germany, said the RCGS Resolute was drifting just over 13 miles off the coast of Isla La Tortuga, a Venezuelan island situated some 60 miles off the country's northern coast, when ANBV Naiguatá, also known by its hull number GC-23, approached it. The Venezuelan Navy ship ordered the cruise ship to follow it to Puerto Moreno on Isla De Margarita, located to the east, accusing it of violating the country's territorial waters. "When the event occurred, the cruise vessel RCGS Resolute has already been drifting for one day off the coast of the island to conduct some routine engine maintenance on its idle voyage to its destination, Willemstad/Curaçao," the statement from Columbia Cruise Services says. "Shortly after mid-night, the cruise vessel was approached by an armed Venezuelan navy vessel, which via radio questioning [sic] the intentions of the RCGS Resolute’s presence." The 403-foot-long Resolute, which is flagged in Portugal, reportedly had a gross tonnage of around 8,445 tons at the time. The ship was laid down in September 1990 and completed in June 1991. Intended for Antarctic cruises, it has a reinforced ice-capable hull. The Naiguatá, which is just over 262 feet long, is a Guaicamacuto class offshore patrol vessel and displaces around 1,720 tons with a full load. Naiguatá is the third ship in the class and entered service in 2011. https://preview.redd.it/7j8n2kkpgiq41.png?width=1440&format=png&auto=webp&s=e993abff6702f5327bfefb53f47d62f04b643b8b Spanish shipbuilder Navantia designed and built all of the Guaicamacuto class ships and had been working on a fourth one, named Comandante Eterno Hugo Chávez, which translates to Eternal Commander Hugo Chavez. The shipbuilding firm halted work on this last ship, which was named after the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, after Venezuela descended into a major, and still ongoing, political crisis in January 2019. "While the Master was in contact with the head office [in Germany], gun shots were fired and, shortly thereafter, the navy vessel approached the starboard side at speed with an angle of 135° and purposely collided with the RCGS Resolute," the statement continued. "The navy vessel continued to ram the starboard bow in an apparent attempt to turn the ship’s head towards Venezuelan territorial waters." Columbia Cruise Services does not say what kind of gun was fired or if it did any damage to the Resolute. The Naiguatá has a 76mm main gun in a turret forward of the main superstructure, as well as a pair of 20mm cannons and two .50 caliber machine guns. The crew would also have access to various small arms. Whatever the case, the steel-hulled patrol ship suffered severe damage from repeatedly ramming the cruise ship, began to take on water, and ultimately sank. Columbia Cruise Services says Resolute remained in the area until it was clear its services were not required to help in the rescue of the 44 crew members. It then continued on, as planned, to the Port of Willemstad in Curaçao. Venezuelan authorities have disputed this version of events, claiming Resolute "in a cowardly and criminal manner fled collision site and didn’t try to rescue the crew of sinking ship." Venezuelan Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino also described the cruise ship's actions as an "act of imperial aggression" and "piracy." The exact circumstances that led to the incident remain murky. If the Resolute was drifting as the crew performed work on board, it may well have found its way into Venezuelan national waters, as the country's authorities allege. It's hard to see how an inadvertent crossing of the boundary would have been enough cause to board and seize the ship under established norms. Even if the cruise liner had deliberately sailed within 12 miles of Isla La Tortuga, it very likely would have been legally entitled to do so under the right of innocent passage, unless Venezuelan officials believe the ship of conducting some other prohibited activity. Of course, this would not be the first time a country has seized, or attempted to seize, a commercial ship to exert its own pressure on its international opponents. Iran infamously took control of a British-flagged oil tanker in July 2019 in part in an effort to get the United Kingdom to release an Iranian supertanker it had impounded. Venezuela's dictatorial current President, Nicolas Maduro, has been locked in a major political dispute with opposition groups since January 2019. The country had already been in the grips of a serious economic crisis for years. However, Maduro remains in power despite international pressure, especially from the United States, pushing him to leave office and allow for a transition to a new government. On Mar. 26, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments against the Venezuelan President, as well as 13 other officials and other individuals in that country, on drug trafficking charges. The U.S. State Department subsequently announced a $15 million reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Maduro. The incident involving the Resolute may be linked to Portugal, where the Resolute is flagged, the government of which is in the midst of its own set of disputes with Venezuela. Despite acknowledging that Maduro is the de facto head of state, the Iberian country has recognized his principal opponent, Juan Guaido, as the country's legitimate leader. In February 2020, Venezuela accused Guaido, along with his uncle, of flying from Portugal on that country's flag carrier TAP while carrying explosives in their luggage. It later accused TAP of conspiring with both men to smuggling the explosives into Venezuela. Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva responded to these allegations by saying they "made no sense." Venezuela responded by barring TAP from flying to Venezuela for 90 days. It also accuses Portuguese banks of holding a "large part of Venezuela’s stolen money," referring to frozen assets belonging to the Venezuelan government. This crisis has become somewhat moot as the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world, including both Portugal and Venezuela, which has led to a massive drop in global air travel. Regardless of the exact circumstances, the Venezuelan Navy's attempt to seize the cruise ship has certainly backfired in the immediate term. The Resolute is safely in port and the country has now lost a third of its Guaicamacuto class patrol ship fleet.
2020.04.02 07:13 BlueCoastalElite13 coronavirus predictions for April, the rest of 2020, and beyond. Let's hope they don't come true.
On February 23rd I made 22 coronavirus predictions for March and the rest of 2020. 21 of those predictions were right. Only one was wrong. Here are a couple of predictions for April, the rest of the year 2020, and beyond: 1. April will be very different from March, and much much worse. The best way to explain the difference between March and April is the famous Battle for Winterfell scene in The Long Night - season 8, episode 3 of Game of Thrones. We are the humans, trying to defend the castle. The approaching horde of undead White Walkers are the virus. The first line of defense, the Dothraki on horseback who heroically ride into the darkness to meet the approaching deluge first, are our healthcare workers. March is that moment in the battle when the fighting is still far away, and the people in the castle stare blindly into the darkness, as the Dothrakis’ torches extinguish one by one on the black horizon. The people in the castle can’t see what’s happening to the Dothraki in the distance. Just like most of us have no idea what healthcare workers on the front lines are going through right now. The Dothraki fought valiantly but they couldn’t stop the onslaught. They could barely slow it down. Now the darkness is eerily quiet. That’s us safely at home, waiting for whatever comes next. Some of us are even bored, and hoping for something exciting to happen that we can tweet about, or post on Instagram. And then, suddenly, the horde of White Walkers reaches the castle, and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly they’re everywhere, totally overwhelming the castle’s defenses. That’s what April will be like. We will be totally overwhelmed by the virus tsunami and hundreds of thousands will die. And just like the dead Dothraki riders joined the zombie horde, so are our healthcare workers joining the ranks of the infected. 2. The empty store shelves are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Global commerce, and the just-in-time inventory that stores rely on, depend on smooth supply lines. The pandemic is causing unprecedented disruption to the supply lines. While entire cities are on lockdown and countries seek refuge in nationalism and closed borders, those lockdowns and closed borders will prevent products from reaching consumers in time. What makes the situation even worse is that there will be a shortage of workers as more and more people get sick and die. 3. The times of plenty are over, at least until the end of the year, if not longer. We’re used to being able to buy whatever we want (or can afford.) We can no longer take that for granted. From now on, we’ll have to get used to buying whatever happens to be available in the store at the moment. You may be in the mood for peas and carrots, but there may not be any, so you’ll have to eat whatever happens to be on the shelf at the moment. Maybe green beans, or bread. 4. There will be a great depression that’s even worse than the Great Depression. Some experts predict unemployment could reach 32% in the US, which is significantly higher than the 24.9% during the Great Depression. 5. Essentials like food will get more expensive. Non-essentials like laptops will get cheaper. Countries in severe crisis tend to see high inflation. Rare items, like food during a food shortage, will get more expensive. We can already see this happening with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks. During the hyperinflation in Germany, a loaf of bread went from costing tens of thousands, to millions, to billions. We often use $20 bills. Back then Germany had bills with numbers as high as 500 million and even 50 billion printed on it. Money was so worthless, you could wipe your ass with it. People carried their money around in wheelbarrows. I don’t think we’ll see insane hyperinflation like that. But food will get noticeably more expensive. People won’t have enough money to spend frivolously, so manufacturers of non-essentials will have sales and reduce the prices of their products, like during the deflation in Japan. 6. The pandemic will officially turn America into a third world country. We like to think of America as a rich country. But that wealth is not evenly distributed like in Europe. In many ways America resembles developing nations in Africa, with a small super rich elite who owns almost everything, and tens of millions of dirt poor people who live in third world squalor. In America, the 3 richest men own more than 50% of the population do. That’s pretty typical for African banana republics that are known for their extreme poverty and rich elites. Many Europeans already considered America an underdeveloped country even before the pandemic. Hookworm, a parasite linked to extreme poverty, is usually only found in developing nations in Africa. It thrives in the dirt poor southern US. People in poor countries have a lower life expectancy than people in rich countries. So it's no surprise that Europeans live several years longer than Americans. One of the reasons is America's shitty healthcare system. Infant mortality is another sign of a poor country with inadequate healthcare. America has one of the highest infant mortality rates among rich countries. A child born in the U.S. is 76 percent more likely to die before their first birthday than infants born in other wealthy countries, and children who survive infancy have a 57 percent greater risk of death before reaching adulthood. 7. More and more people will demand UBI and Medicare for All. That stimulus check is only the beginning. Governments all over the world will quickly need to start figuring out by the end of May how to feed millions of unemployed people, and take care of their health. All other civilized countries already have universal healthcare, and some have already begun sending their citizens monthly checks. It’s either that, or widespread famine, civil unrest, and riots, like during the French revolution. 8. The US National Guard will be deployed nationwide More and more police officers will get infected. They will need help keeping order. In other countries that are ahead of us in their pandemic timeline, the military was deployed to keep order, enforce the lockdown and prevent looting. 9. Some countries will fail before the end of the year. Some fragile states won’t make it through the pandemic. They will descend into chaos and violence. 10. We’ll see an increase in shootings and riots in the US. Allowing every halfwit to own assault rifles was a bad idea even in the best of times. Many Second Amendment fanatics have been waiting their entire lives to use their collection of guns against a “tyrannical government.” Imagine one of those guys, drunk and armed, encountering the National Guard, who tell him to get back in his trailer. It’s a recipe for disaster. Before the end of the year, we will see Bundy-style standoffs or even shoot-outs between gun nuts and the military who try to enforce a lockdown or prevent looting. 11. As anger and unrest grows, Trump will try to redirect blame on minorities and other countries. It’s already starting to happen right now. A disease can start anywhere. There are plenty of Americans with rare or unique diseases. Some of these diseases are so rare, they don’t even have names. And we don’t call them “American disease.” Because why would you blame the people of an entire country for a disease? I’m pretty sure it’s true that China covered up the true number of dead over there. Some estimates say Wuhan had over 40,000 casualties. That sounds far more realistic to me than the official number, after I saw a whole bunch of shocking hidden camera footage from China on Weibo and from Chinese Twitter accounts. People over there risked their lives to smuggle the footage out of the country and warn the world. Someone spliced some of the footage together and created a collection that is pretty terrifying to watch. It looks like a trailer for a new horror movie. I recognize many of those scenes from the footage I saw earlier, posted by Chinese people trying to warn us about the true magnitude of what occured in Wuhan. Maybe it really did accidentally escape a Chinese bio-weapons lab. We may never know the truth. It’s unfortunate that this coronavirus started in China. But it could have just as easily started in Africa or Alabama. The Spanish Flu of 1918 that killed 50 million people actually started in Haskell county, Kansas as far as we know. Should we have called it the Kansas flu? And risk violence against the people of Kansas? Trump’s insistence on calling Covid-19 the “China flu” will cause an increase in violence against Chinese Americans. And that is by design. He is purposely deflecting people’s anger at him for ignoring the pandemic for 2 months, and directs it at a minority. During the Great Depression, Hitler manipulated Germans by making them believe that Jews were to blame for everything that was wrong in Germany. We all know how that turned out. Germans attacked and persecuted Jews for “destroying the German economy” and being “traitors.” The same will happen in the US if Trump keeps shoring up hatred against Chinese people and blames them for the great depression that’s about to come. 12. There may not be any elections in November. Bill Maher keeps saying that Trump won’t leave office voluntarily. Ever. I think he’s right. I think Trump will use every dirty trick he can to stay in power. Even if that means declaring martial law and postponing the elections indefinitely “until things improve.” Dictators often use a crisis to gain absolute power. That’s how Hitler became a dictator in the Weimar Republic. And Orban just did the same thing in Hungary. Like Hitler, Orban could have anyone killed now, if he wanted to, because he is now above any law. Trump has already made clear that he thinks of himself as above the law. 13. The Great Depression led to World War 2. The new Great Depression may very well lead to World War 3 before November. If all else fails, and Trump feels like even his MAGA death cult members are turning on him, he will declare war on China and start World War 3. That will shore up a sense of patriotism and give his poll numbers a boost. Sounds far out, I know. But so did my 2/23 predictions at the time. This prediction is no more outlandish than last month’s prediction that the Olympics will be cancelled or that US cities will be on lockdown. Trump loves the idea of being a war president, because he wants to go down in history as a tough guy and the most famous person ever. He craves attention. He’s been asking repeatedly why we can’t use nukes and even ordered the production of a new line of nukes that many people consider a bad idea because making more “usable” nukes increases the likelihood of a nuclear war. Trump even suggested using nukes against a hurricane. Who’s the most famous person in history right now? Arguably Hitler. Who’s gonna be even more famous than that? The tough guy who starts a war and uses nukes. His fans are gonna love it... Murica #1! Even our NATO allies think if anyone in the world is nuts enough to use nukes, it’s Trump. Global surveys show that Trump’s America is seen as the biggest threat to world peace. The 1918 pandemic led to the 1920 Depression. And the Great Depression led to WW2. It’s not unreasonable to assume that an even bigger pandemic will lead to an even Greater Depression and another world war. Hitler promised full employment and an end of the Great Depression. He delivered by starting a war and turning Germans into cannon fodder. And the German people loved him for it. They saw him as their savior and messiah. Just like Trump’s cult members think of him as their savior and messiah today. America is an empire in decline. China is on the rise. The 19th century was Europe’s century. The 20th century was America’s century. The 21st century is China’s century. Trump is already calling this pandemic a war. And his rhetoric against China is increasingly hostile. Trump’s minions are already declaring that China will pay for this. I think if Trump sees his minions turn on him, he will incite more hatred against China and switch from calling this a “war,” to calling it “an attack on America.” He will give his followers the false impression that America is under attack, just like Hitler convinced his followers that Germany was under attack by Jews, not the other way around. And the next thing you know, Trump’s followers will be screaming for a “retaliatory strike” to punish China for their attack on America. And US nuclear policy says that America may use nukes against countries that use biological weapons. And there you have it… World War 3. Sounds crazy, I know. But what would you have said if someone had told you 6 months ago that there will be a deadly global pandemic? That would have sounded pretty insane 6 months ago as well. And yet, here we are. Well, let’s hope I’m wrong about all this stuff. ------------- I decided to keep track in real time. You can follow along if you like. Start here: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2020
2020.03.30 17:13 NationofChangeWhy is the US so exceptionally vulnerable to COVID-19?
By: Nicolas J S Davies - March 28, 2020 Read the article here:https://www.nationofchange.org/2020/03/28/why-is-the-us-so-exceptionally-vulnerable-to-covid-19/ The United States has become the new center of the global coronavirus pandemic, with over 86,000 cases, more than China or Italy. More than a thousand Americans have already died, but this is surely only the very beginning of this deadly collision between the U.S.’s uniquely inadequate public healthcare system and a real pandemic. On the other hand, China and South Korea, which both have universal public health systems that cover the bulk of their people’s healthcare needs, have already turned the tide on Covid-19 through targeted quarantines, mobilization of public healthcare resources and testing programs that quickly and efficiently test everyone who may have come into contact with the virus. China sent 40,000 doctors and medical staff, including 10,000 respiratory specialists, into Hubei province in the first month or two of the epidemic. It has now gone up to 3 days in a row with no new cases and is starting to lift social restrictions. South Korea quickly tested over 300,000 people, and only 131 of its people have died. The WHO’s Bruce Aylward visited China at the end of February, and reported, “I think the key learning from China is speed… The faster you can find the cases, isolate the cases, and track their close contacts, the more successful you’re going to be… In China, they have set up a giant network of fever hospitals. In some areas, a team can go to you and swab you and have an answer for you in four to seven hours. But you’ve got to be set up — speed is everything.” Researchers in Italy have experimentally confirmed that up to 3 out of 4 COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic and therefore undetectable by testing only people with symptoms. After a series of deadly missteps, the U.S., which had its first case on January 20th, the same day as South Korea, has over two months later only just begun widespread testing, when we already have the most cases and the 6th highest death toll in the world. Even now, the U.S. is mainly limiting testing to people with symptoms, not doing the targeted testing of new case contacts that was so effective in China. This ensures that otherwise healthy, asymptomatic carriers will unknowingly spread the virus and keep fueling its exponential growth. So why is the United States so uniquely incapable of confronting this pandemic as efficiently or effectively as China, South Korea, Germany or other countries? The lack of a national, publicly-funded universal health system is a critical deficiency. But our persistent inability to set one up is itself the result of other dysfunctional aspects of American society, including the corruption of our political system by powerful commercial and class interests and the American “exceptionalism” that blinds us to what we can learn from other countries. Also, the military occupation of the American mind has brainwashed Americans with strictly military concepts of “defense” and “security,” perverting federal spending priorities in the interest of war and militarism at the expense of all our country’s other vital needs, including the health of Americans.
Why can’t we just bomb the virus?
Of course this question is ridiculous. But this is how U.S. leaders respond to every danger we face, with massive diversions of our national resources to the military-industrial complex (MIC) that leave this otherwise wealthy country starved of resources to tackle problems our leaders can’t pretend to solve with weapons and war. Depending what is counted as “defense” spending, it accounts for up to two-thirds of federal discretionary spending. Even now, a bailout for Boeing, the 2nd largest U.S. weapons maker, is more important to Mr. Trump and many in Congress than helping American families get through this crisis. At the end of the Cold War in 1989, senior officials told the Senate Budget Committee that the U.S. military budget could safely be cut by 50% over the next ten years. Committee chairman Jim Sasser hailed the moment as “the dawn of the primacy of domestic economics.” But by 2000, the influence of the military-industrial complex had shrunk the “peace dividend” to only a 22% reduction in military spending from 1990 (after adjusting for inflation). Then, in 2001, the military-industrial complex seized on the crime of the new century by 19 mainly Saudi young men armed only with box-cutters to launch new wars and the most expensive U.S. military build-up since World War Two. As former Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz said at the time, this was not a legitimate response to the crimes of September 11th. “It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done,” Ferencz told NPR. “If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t approve of what has happened.” Despite the abject, bloody failure of the so-called “Global War on Terror,” the opportunistic military-build-up it served to justify still wins every budget battle in Washington. After adjusting for inflation, the 2020 U.S. military budget is 59% higher than in 2000, and 23% higher than it was in 1990. Over the past 20 years (in 2020 dollars), the U.S. has allocated $4.7 trillion more to the Pentagon than if it had just maintained its budget at the same level since 2000. Even between 1998 and 2010, as Carl Conetta documented in his paper, An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in US Defense Spending, actual war spending was matched dollar for dollar by unrelated additional military spending, mostly increased procurement spending to develop and buy very expensive new warships for the Navy, budget-busting warplanes like the F-35 fighter for the Air Force, and a wish-list of new weapons and equipment for every branch of the military. Since 2010, this unprecedented diversion of our national resources to the military-industrial complex has outstripped actual war spending even further. Obama spent more on the military than Bush, and now Trump is spending even more. In addition to $4.7 trillion in extra Pentagon spending, U.S. wars and militarism have cost $1.3 trillion more for Veterans Affairs since 2000 (also adjusted for inflation), as Americans predictably come home from America’s wars needing levels of medical care that the U.S. does not otherwise provide to its people. All that money is gone now, just as surely as if it had been heaped up somewhere in Afghanistan and incinerated by a few of the 80,000 bombs the U.S. has dropped on that poor country since 2001. So we do not have it to spend on public hospitals, ventilators, medical training, Covid-19 tests or any of the things we so desperately need in this distinctly non-military crisis. Our $6 trillion have been utterly wasted—or worse. The U.S. war on terror did not defeat or end terrorism. It only fueled an endless spiral of violence and chaos across the world. The U.S. war machine has destroyed country after country: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen – but it has never rebuilt or brought peace to any of them. Meanwhile, Russia and China have built effective 21st century defenses against America’s obsolete war machine at a small fraction of its cost. As countries around the world face the common danger of COVID-19, perhaps the most cynical response of all has been the U.S. government’s decision to impose even more brutal sanctions on Iran, one of the worst-hit countries, already deprived of life-saving medicines and other resources by existing U.S. sanctions. United Nations’ Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate ceasefire in every war during this crisis, and for the U.S. to lift its deadly sanctions on all our neighbors around the world. That should include Iran; North Korea; Sudan; Syria; Venezuela; Zimbabwe; and not least Cuba, which is playing a courageous and active role in fighting the pandemic, rescuing the passengers of an infected British cruise ship that was refused entry by the U.S. and other countries, and sending medical teams to Italy and other infected countries around the world.
The 21st century command economy
The “command economy” was a derisive term used to criticize the centrally planned economies of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. But economist Eric Schutz used the 21st Century Command Economy as a subtitle for his 2001 book Markets and Power, in which he analyzed the effects of the dominant market power of monopolistic multinational corporations on the U.S. economy. As Schutz explained, neoliberal (or neoclassical) economic theory ignores a critical factor in the “free” markets a generation of Americans have been taught to revere. This ignored factor is power. As more and more aspects of American life are entrusted to the mythical “invisible hand” of the market, the most powerful players in every market are free to use their market power to concentrate wealth and even greater market power in their own (not so invisible) hands, driving smaller competitors out of business and exploiting other stakeholders: customers; employees; suppliers; governments; and local communities. Since 1980, every sector of the U.S. economy has been gradually taken over by fewer and fewer larger and larger corporations, with a predictably debilitating effect on American life: fewer opportunities for small business; diminishing investment in public infrastructure and services; shrinking or stagnant wages; rising rents; privatization of education and healthcare; the destruction of local communities; and the systematic corruption of politics. Critical decisions that affect all our lives are now made primarily at the bidding and in the interests of big banks, big pharma, big tech, big ag, big developers, the military-industrial complex and the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The infamous revolving door through which senior officials move between the military, lobbying firms, corporate boards, Congress and the executive branch is duplicated in every sector of the economy. Liz Fowler, who wrote the “Affordable Care Act” as a Senate and White House staffer, was a senior executive at Wellpoint Health (now Anthem), the parent company of Blue Cross-Blue Shield, which now rakes in billions in federal subsidies under the law she wrote. She then returned to the “industry” as an executive at Johnson & Johnson – just as James “Mad Dog” Mattis returned to his seat on the board at General Dynamics to reap the rewards of his “public service” as Secretary of Defense. Whatever mix of capitalism and socialism each American may favor as a model for the U.S. economy, very few Americans would pick this corrupt 21st century command economy as the system they would choose to live under. How many American politicians would win election if they honestly told voters that this is the system they believe in and plan to promote? We are living in a society in which everybody knows the deal is rotten, as the Leonard Cohen song goes, and yet we remain lost in a hall of mirrors, victims of a “divide and rule” strategy by which the wealthy and powerful control politics and the media along with every other sector of this 21st century command economy. Trump, Biden and Congressional leaders are just their latest figureheads, demonizing and arguing with each other as they and their paymasters laugh all the way to the bank. There is a savage irony in the way the Democratic Party closed ranks around Biden just as COVID-19 appeared on the scene. A month ago, it seemed that 2020 might be the year Americans would finally blow away the well-funded smoke and mirrors of the for-profit U.S. health insurance industry and achieve universal publicly-funded healthcare. Instead, Democratic leaders appear to be settling for the lesser evil of another humiliating defeat and four more years of Trump over (to their minds) the greater danger of a Sanders presidency and universal healthcare. But now this exceptionally dysfunctional society has run smack-bang into a real force of nature, a tiny virus that can kill millions of people. Other countries are rising to this exacting test of their healthcare and social systems more successfully than we are. So will we finally wake up from our American dream, open our eyes and start learning from our neighbors in other countries, including ones that have different political, economic and healthcare systems than ours? Our lives may depend on it.
2020.03.18 14:33 kong-daoCOVID-19: Lo que los medios de comunicación no comunican
Televisión, radio y periódicos son los medios de comunicación intermediarios entre los mandatarios y los ciudadanos, periodistas que asisten a conferencias de prensa para “transmitir” lo que sectores privados o públicos informan… Parece ser que durante las últimas semanas la única información que tienen los “medios” es el COVID-19, pero afortunadamente hay una inmensa base de datos llamada Internet, que no solamente guarda lo que los usuarios suben a las redes sociales, sino también noticias. Quizás usted, lector, lectora, o, lactante de “la media”, sepa que el COVID-19 tuvo epicentro en la capital de Wuhan, ciudad de Hubei, en la Republica Popular China. Lo que la caja negra, el cubo-parlante, o, el papel sin reciclar que “informan las noticias” no recuerdan los siguientes que iré desarrollando:
Revueltas en: Francia, China, Chile
Refugiados: La OTAN apoya a Turquí en la invasión a Siria, Grecia restringue el acceso y la Comunidad Europea apoya la desición
Guerra comercial: China vs USA
Guerra del 5G: Huawei y ZTE
China deja de comprar los desechos plásticos del 90% de la población mundial
Brexit: Inglaterra deja la Unión Europea
2 periodistas chinos desaparecidos por investigar el CVOID-19
2020.02.15 19:35 Sp3cialbrownieWho else is voting for Bernie Sanders for President? Here is my pitch on why it is so important to vote in this election and why Bernie Sanders is the best candidate with the best policies to improve our country and our planet. He is fighting against the status quo to help everyone not just the 1%.
2020.02.10 17:06 autotldrHumanitarian Aid Arrives For Venezuela — But Maduro Blocks It
This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 52%. (I'm a bot)
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, along with the U.S., is demanding that the aid convoy be allowed to pass. Updated on Feb. 13 at 10:45 a.m. Trucks full of food and medicine have arrived at the Venezuelan border, setting up a showdown between President Nicolás Maduro and U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The aid convoy arrived at the Colombian border city of Cúcuta, The Associated Press reports, but Maduro and the military have blocked the Tienditas bridge so that the trucks cannot enter Venezuela. "The United States is prepositioning relief items - including food, nutritional supplements, hygiene kits and medical supplies - in Colombia so they are available to reach those most in need in Venezuela as soon as possible," a U.S. official told The AP. Maduro has rejected aid offers and says his country has "Never been, nor are we, a country of beggars," the BBC reports. Venezuela has been in a political crisis since Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president last month. "The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The U.S. & other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela's military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers. The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE.".
Reddit Aggressively Censoring Content Critical of China: Story about Hearthstone player banned by Blizzard for pro-Hong Kong statement removed from THREE different subs on the front page of /all (19566 points, 979 comments)
Removed from TIL after hitting #3 on the front page: TIL After WWII Japanese were tried, convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding. (4252 points, 239 comments)
Comey thinks people are idiots: FBI needed almost 18 months to process 30,000 emails from Clinton and now they have allegedly processed 650,000 in 1 week - Stop the bullshit! (4771 points, 527 comments)
6855 points: colorcoma's comment in President Donald Trump thinks Scientology should lose its tax-exempt status in the United States
6757 points: deleted's comment in The only power that scares the establishment.
6574 points: diiejso's comment in Terry Crews: "If I have a timely 'accident' – you know where to look"
6055 points: EagerJewBear's comment in 9/11 WTC Towers Had Power Turned Off For 36 Hours the Weekend Before the Attack - Security Systems disabled, unknown "workers" everywhere.
5668 points: marcsmart's comment in REMINDER: It has been 2866 days since Sean Hannity offered to undergo waterboarding for charity as proof that it's not torture and has not done it.
5475 points: Fair_enough42's comment in Sources: Jeffrey Epstein dies by suicide in Manhattan jail cell
4969 points: Sorrus's comment in Sources: Jeffrey Epstein dies by suicide in Manhattan jail cell
4837 points: techguy69's comment in This rare image, featuring the victims of the mass slaughter of peaceful protesters by the Chinese army at Tiananmen Square, was just censored from the front page of reddit with 134,000 net upvotes.
4639 points: deleted's comment in We're reaching 1984 levels of deception in the media.
2020.01.07 14:50 rusticgorillaLost in the Sauce: Dec 29 - Jan 4
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind) Two important things: FIRST, the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories. SECOND, I have not had time lately to do a companion audio TLDR for Lost in the Sauce. I’m very sorry, these take so long to write and compile that suddenly it’s time to post it and I haven’t had a chance to record and edit audio. Finally:
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Let’s dig in!
Critical details in Ukraine docs
Last week, Just Security published new details of Trump administration communications regarding the freeze on aid to Ukraine. The emails were previously only available in redacted form as part of a FOIA release to the Center for Public Integrity. The new information sheds light on the role Trump and his aides played in the freeze and highlighted the administration’s ongoing cover-up.
A key person in the emails is acting Pentagon comptroller Elaine McCusker, who expressed concern almost immediately after the freeze was formalized on July 25 (91 minutes after Trump’s call with Zelensky). In August, McCusker warned senior OMB officials that time was running out to send the aid. Both of these emails from McCusker were redacted.
As the month wore on, the emails show officials bending over backwards to make every conceivable accommodation to keep the process moving without actually being able to obligate the funding. The idea was that as soon as the funds were given the green light, there would be zero delay, and presumably, impoundments could be avoided.
At the end of August, “McCusker’s frustration is palpable,” as associate director of national security programs at OMB Michael Duffey kept extended the hold with little explanation and OMB lawyers “continue[d] to consistently mischaracterize the process,” in McCusker’s own words. By Aug. 27, the Senate Armed Services Committee and House Appropriators began asking the Pentagon about the aid. All of McCusker’s emails during this time were redacted. The cover-up doesn’t end at FOIA redactions. On Dec. 11, OMB general counsel Mark Paoletta wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stating that the Defense Department had not warned them that there was a risk that the aid money could not be spent if the freeze extended for too long. In fact, the unredacted communications reveal three concrete examples of the Defense Department pointing out that risk. One of these examples was an entire draft letter from the Deputy Defense Secretary to the OMB warning that "we have repeatedly advised OMB officials that pauses beyond Aug. 19, 2019 jeopardize the Department’s ability to obligate USAI funding prudently and fully.” Why was this entire letter blacked out by the DOJ? Why did Paoletta lie in an official communication to the GAO, a congressional investigative office? Why redact practically all of McCusker’s concerns?
Reminder: In last week’s edition of Lost in the Sauce, I wrote about a report by The New York Times that detailed the intense disagreement among top administration officials over Trump’s decision to withhold aid to Ukraine. Pentagon officials were generally against the hold, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, while Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Russell T. Vought, the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget, Robert Blair, the senior adviser to Mulvaney, and Mark Paoletta were Trump’s accomplices.
Latest cover-up action: Despite a court order in response to a FOIA lawsuit, the Trump administration is refusing (non-paywalled) to produce 20 emails between Robert Blair and Michael Duffey discussing the aid freeze. The New York Times plans to “challenge the blanket withholding of the documents and would ask the judge overseeing the lawsuit, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, to approve an expedited schedule.”
The unredacted documents reviewed by Just Security show that Trump was the sole decision-maker: “What is clear is that it all came down to the president and what he wanted; no one else appears to have supported his position.” This is made clear as early as the day after the hold is formalized, in a readout of a National Security Council meeting on July 26 that states the “OMB noted that the President’s direction via the Chief of Staff in early July was to suspend security assistance to Ukraine…” Perhaps the most damning evidence, though, was in an email Duffey sent to McCusker following an Aug. 30 meeting between Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Duffey stated there was a “Clear direction from POTUS to hold” and prepared paperwork to again extend the hold. Finally, McCusker asked Duffey why the hold was lifted (on Sept. 11). He responded, “Not exactly clear but president made the decision to go. Will fill you in when I get details.” We now know what happened: Trump got caught. Just two days earlier, the House announced it was opening an investigation into whether Trump was illegally pressuring Ukraine.
"The newly-revealed unredacted emails are a devastating blow to Sen. McConnell’s push to have a trial without the documents and witnesses we’ve requested. These emails further expose the serious concerns raised by Trump administration officials about the propriety and legality of the president’s decision to cut off aid to Ukraine to benefit himself.” "Importantly, that Mr. Duffey said there was 'clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold' only further implicates President Trump and underscores the need for the Senate to subpoena the witnesses and documents we’ve requested at the onset of a trial," Schumer continued. "The American people deserve a fair trial that gets to the truth, not a rigged process that enables a cover-up."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff:
"As part of our impeachment inquiry, the House subpoenaed these very documents. From their deeply incriminating character, we can now see why they were concealed: They directly corroborate witnesses who testified that military aid to Ukraine was withheld at the direction of the President and that the W.H. was informed doing so may violate the law… The disclosure of these incriminating documents reinforces the need for all of these materials to be produced, and that a fair trial in the Senate cannot take place without them. If they are not produced, the Senate and the American people must ask, what else is the President hiding?” (CNN)
Despite all the abuse from the White House, and the fact that he took office as an utter political neophyte in one of Europe’s most dysfunctional nations, Zelensky’s government so far has been an extraordinary — and, under the circumstances, almost miraculous — success. ...For decades, successive U.S. administrations have tried to coax this kind of performance from Ukrainian presidents, mostly without much success. Yet now that Zelensky is doing virtually everything the State Department once dreamed of, there is a U.S. vacuum in Kyiv. Meanwhile, Zelensky, who still wants the legitimization of a White House visit, has yet to be given a date. It’s hard not to conclude that the Trump administration isn’t happy that Ukraine finally has a competent president. (The Washington Post)
Senate trial update
Not much has changed since Congress went on break - the Republican and Democratic leaders are still deadlocked over how a Senate impeachment trial will proceed. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he’s “content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder,” referring to House Speaker Pelosi’s decision not to nominate House managers and send articles of impeachment to the Senate. Schumer continues to back her plan, saying:
”There has never, never in the history of the country been an impeachment trial of the president in which the Senate was denied the ability to hear from witnesses… Yet, the Republican leader seems intent on violating that precedent.”
A Democratic aide told Axios that no decision has been made about when the articles could be sent to the Senate.
Further reading: How long can Pelsoi hold the articles of impeachment? The Daily Beast published an op-ed on the matter. “Pushed for a time limit, Ornstein told The Daily Beast that he thinks Pelosi can extend through February, ‘keeping all options open,’ he said.”
The opposing view: (1) “Democrats are the ones who stand to suffer by delaying the Senate impeachment trial.” The Washington Post. 1/2/2020. (2) Perhaps less credible, “Pelosi impeachment delay game ‘hurting Democrats,’ says Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz.” Boston Herald. 12/24/2019.
Change in rules?
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said he will push to change the Senate rules regarding impeachment so the trial can begin without receiving the managers/articles from the House. It’s unclear whether McConnell would be open to this approach, however, as the only person who seems to want a trial is Trump and Trump’s associates. Additionally, it would be very hard to change the rules before the trial starts:
It would take 60 votes to pass a resolution on impeachment outside a trial and 67 votes to change the impeachment rules. That threshold would require Democratic support, since McConnell has only 53 Republicans…
I want to note that the Associated Press appears to report that changing the rules would require 51 votes, but that is only true after the trial has begun.
Bolton On Monday, former National Security Adviser John Bolton released the following statement:
Accordingly, since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.
According to The New York Times: “former White House officials and people close to Mr. Bolton have indicated that his testimony would likely be damning to Mr. Trump and put additional pressure on moderate Republicans to consider convicting him.” Collins Maine Senator Susan Collins said in an interview with local media that she is “open to witnesses” during the Senate trial, breaking with McConnell. Collins added that she has advocated that the Senate use the Clinton impeachment trial as a framework for Trump’s trial:
”What happened back then is Sen. Trent Lott on the Republican side, Sen. Tom Daschle on the Democratic side, negotiated the terms to begin the trial. And those terms were adopted unanimously by the Senate, 100-0. I can't imagine anything like that happening today, regrettably. They decided that we would start with the opening arguments from both sides. And then we proceeded to a period where senators questioned the two sides through the chief justice... And those questions, of which there were more than 100, elicited a lot of information that was very useful. So I hope we do that approach this time as well.” Then we move to what I call the third stage. At that point, we debated whether or not we wanted to hear from witnesses and get additional documents. And there was a roll call vote, with Republicans wanting witnesses at that point. And Democrats, with few exceptions, not wanting witnesses, so we have a reverse of the current situation. And we decided to call just three witnesses and to have them deposed, rather than testifying live.
Read more on how Clinton’s Senate impeachment trial worked. Read about the role Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts could play in a Senate trial.
At Trump’s New Year’s Eve party, Rudy Giuliani told reporters that he’s not only willing to testify at Trump’s trial - he wants to “try the case.”
“I would testify, I would, um, do demonstrations. I’d give lectures, I’d give summations. Or, I’d do what I do best, I’d try the case. I’d love to try the case. Well I don’t know if anybody would have the courage to give me the case, but, uh, if you give me the case, I will prosecute it as a racketeering case, which I kind of invented anyway.”
So the private attorney of the defendant charged with abuse of power and obstructing congress wants to “prosecute” a RICO case… against his own client? Though that’s what Giuliani literally said, it seems what he intended to say was that he’d argue at Trump’s trial that Joe Biden and Hunter are the ones actually on trial.
Last Monday, D.C. District Court Judge Richard Leon dismissed (document) former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman’s lawsuit challenging a subpoena from House impeachment investigators. Kupperman’s lawsuit sought to determine whether he had to obey the House subpoena or the president’s order not to comply with the subpoena. Judge Leon dismissed the case because the House Intelligence Committee withdrew the subpoena last month; a House Intelligence Committee official stated that they would not allow Kupperman to delay impeachment through long court cases. With this case dismissed, the relevant precedent is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s ruling in the McGahn case that Executive branch employees do not have “absolute immunity.” This is especially applicable to former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who said he was waiting on the outcome of Kupperman’s case to determine if he would testify in impeachment proceedings. Legal experts immediately called for his compliance:
Neal Katyal: "I think the bottom line is that John Bolton now has no rock to hide behind anymore, and that he really should testify." Former prosecutor Mimi Rocah: “Bolton has no excuse anymore. The standing case law says testify. Wanting to sell a book says testify. Doing the right thing for the good of your country says testify.” Source Former prosecutor Joyce White Vance: “Bolton doesn’t have any legally cognizable privilege to assert and should testify. We can confirm this with common sense: Someone close to the president who has said he has information and who we now know was involved in counseling the president against the course of conduct he took in Ukraine must certainly testify if we’re going to learn the truth.” Source
Edit: See the "Bolton" section above for more on whether Bolton will testify.
The translator at the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, Ike Kaveladze, told Mueller’s team that the Russians spoke at length about the Magnitsky Act, though Trump’s representatives were promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Kaveladze reported that Trump Jr. was annoyed by the focus on sanctions policy and half-way through the meeting interrupted to ask: "Is there anything you have on HILLARY?"
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort used Fox News host Sean Hannity as a “back channel” to Trump during the period he was under investigation in 2017. The memos state: “Manafort knew Hannity was speaking to Trump because Hannity would tell Manafort to hang in there, that he had been talking to Trump, that Trump had his back, and things like that...Manafort understood his conversations with Hannity to be a message from Trump.”
Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen told investigators that he and Trump attorney Jay Sekulow considered having Trump issue “pre-pardons,” or “pardons to everyone so that no one had to comply with the investigations.” However, Cohen said the duo then learned that pre-pardons would have the opposite effect: individuals would have to cooperate with all investigations and could not take the Fifth Amendment.
An unknown witness spoke to Mueller’s team on April 12 and 13 of 2018; the entire 31 pages documenting the interview is redacted. This witness is the only name withheld entirely in the 365-page release. CNN speculates that this individual could possibly be Jared Kushner.
Then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told then-Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland that, before she was officially fired, Trump wanted her to write a letter stating that “the President never directed Flynn to call the Russians about sanctions." McFarland relayed this request to White House lawyer John Eisenberg, who advised her not to comply because the concurrent offer of an ambassadorship would look “like a quid pro quo situation.”
McGahn and Grand Jury arguments
Two sets of three-judge panels in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments (audio) in two separation-of-powers cases Friday: a lawsuit over former White House Counsel Don McGahn’s subpoenaed testimony and a lawsuit to reveal evidence collected by Mueller’s grand jury. In the McGahn case, two judges - Rogers and Griffith - appeared skeptical of the Justice Department’s argument that advisers like McGahn are “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.” The DOJ persisted claiming that courts had no role in arbitrating what they call a “political” conflict between the Executive and Legislative branch. The House general counsel, Douglas Letter, told the court that a third article of impeachment “is on the table,” dependent upon hearing testimony from McGahn. The same two judges joined a Trump-appointee, Judge Neomi Rao, to hear the grand jury case. Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell previously ruled in October that the House was exempt from rules that normally shield grand jury material. On Friday, Judge Griffith advised the Justice Department that they were “going up against” history by arguing that the “gold standard” legal rulings in Nixon’s impeachment should not be followed in Trump’s. Trump-appointee Neomi Rao made waves during her questioning by suggesting that there’s a possibility Attorney General Bill Barr could ignore a court ruling that the House was entitled to the grand jury information. Rao asked what the House would do if such an instance arose. Letter responded that the House could send out its sergeant at arms to collect the material, but “we don’t do that anymore” at the risk of having “a gun battle with Mr. Barr’s FBI security detail. Instead, we go to court. Everybody has recognized that we go to court.”
Some media outlets have reported that Letter seriously suggested the sergeant at arms should have a shootout with the DOJ in order to arrest Barr. You can listen to the audio yourself; Letter was using sarcasm to show that argument advanced by the DOJ was unworkable: the House doesn’t have any realistic alternatives to obtain information it is legally-entitled to, other than going to court.
Neomi Rao: Judge Rao had previously heard arguments in Trump’s challenge of the House’s subpoena to his accounting firm, Mazars USA. The majority ruled in favor of Congress. Rao, however, dissented with an opinion that has no basis in Supreme Court case law or historical precedent: She opined that Congress may not investigate the president, even for a valid legislative purpose, unless it through impeachment. As Slate correctly noted, her argument “would help place Trump above any congressional oversight and further insulate the executive branch from an important check by the judicial branch.”
Full disclosure: I am a contributor to Forensic News On Friday, Forensic News (led by Scott Stedman) reported that a whistleblower told the FBI that Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans are underwritten by VTB, the Russian state-owned bank. The whistleblower is Val Broeksmit, whose late father was an executive at Deutsche Bank. Forensic News has verified parts of Val’s story but does not confirm the claim that Trump’s loans were co-signed or paid off by VTB. Val Broeksmit has provided valuable documents and information to prosecutors that led to successful prosecutions and fines against the bank - this provides more credibility to his claims regarding VTB. A subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas (DBTCA), made the loans to Trump; it also maintained ties to VTB even after the latter was subjected to US sanctions. DBTCA owed approximately $48.6 million to VTB in 2013. Forensic News has verified these facts - yet another piece of evidence that supports Val’s claims.
Two Deutsche executives with knowledge of the alleged VTB arrangement—Bill Broeksmit and Thomas Bowers—have both committed suicide. Another, Rosemary Vrablic, has not commented publicly on the matter. It is now time she testify to Congress about what she knows. (source)
Finally, as one of the authors, Robert DeNault, points out - the timeline surrounding the article reveals suspicious activity:
Fri. (12/27): we notify Deutsche Bank about our piece Sun. (12/29): Trump + Putin have mystery phone call Wed. (1/1): we tell DB we are publishing Fri. Wed. (1/1): Trump decides to kill Soleimani Thurs. (1/2): Soleimani assassinated Fri. (1/3): we are cyberattacked [and the site taken down for 24 hours]
Someone didn’t want the public to read Forensic News’ report… You can listen to the Counter Intelligence Podcast interview with Val here.
Prosecutors told District Judge Amy Berman Jackson that they are almost ready to release less-redacted documents about how Paul Manafort lied during his cooperation with the government. CNN: “Unsealing the details could potentially explain major questions about Manafort's connections to the White House and fill in gaps about what Russia and Ukraine hoped from Trump after he took office.” These details could potentially shed more light on Trump’s Ukraine policy:
Prosecutors said Manafort lied about 2017 and 2018 discussions with Kilimnik about Ukrainian policy, specifically, a Ukraine "peace plan" that would provide a "backdoor" way for Russia to control part of Ukraine, and their interest in getting Trump's support for it, according to the Mueller report. The FBI believes Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence, according to court filings and the Mueller report.
Erik Prince Two U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Erik Prince had been referred to the Treasury Department for violating sanctions by meeting with Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez during a surprise trip to Caracas last month.
...the fact the visit was flagged underscores the concern of officials in the Trump administration over what appeared to be anunauthorized diplomatic outreach to Maduro… the mere presence in Venezuela of a businessman with longstanding ties to the U.S. national security establishment prompted questions about whether he was there to open a secret back channel to Maduro on behalf of the Trump administration
Rudy Giuliani Rudy Giuliani, currently under federal investigation for his involvement in Ukrainian foreign affairs, was also part of a second “shadow diplomatic effort” in Venezuela. The Washington Post (non-paywalled) reported that Giuliani spoke to Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro in September 2018 to try to negotiate Maduro’s resignation. This is counter to official U.S. policy and alarmed administration officials. At the time, Giuliani was representing a wealthy Venezuelan energy executive and pushed for Maduro’s exit in order to open up the resource-rich country to business. Giuliani’s actions in Venezuela appear to be a clear violation of the Logan Act (18 U.S.C. § 953), which criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments having a dispute with the U.S.
Venezuela is definitely a country engaged in a dispute with the United States, and Giuliani was arguably acting “to defeat the measures of the United States” by engaging in shadow diplomacy that contradicted official U.S. foreign policy. In fact, Bolton explicitly rejected the effort. (The Washington Post)
Giuliani: Cybersecurity adviser?
Days before his inauguration in January 2017, Trump announced that he appointed Rudy Giuliani to be a cybersecurity adviser, working with the private sector to find “the answer to cybersecurity.” However, Giuliani had little-to-no experience of knowledge about cybersecurity and reportedly had little input in practical cybersecurity matters inside the White House at the time. So, why was Giuliani named cybersecurity adviser? It turns out that it was not an official government job, but just a publicized informal role in an area that Giuliani was trying to build a clientele for his consulting business. The unpaid informal position exempted Giuliani from federal ethics laws that would have required him to “reveal any financial connections that might enable him to profit from his position.”
Without an official government job — but with a publicized informal role — the former U.S. attorney and two-term mayor of New York was able to present himself to prospective clients as someone with a direct line to the president, without any transparency for the public. ...Richard Painter, a University of Minnesota law professor who was a White House ethics official under President George W. Bush...“The bottom line is, you can’t just delegate any U.S. government function to somebody and simply because they’re not getting a salary from the government, they get to ignore all the conflict-of-interest rules,” Painter said. “That’s a nonstarter in terms of ethics. It’s a disaster.” ...Painter, the law professor, said the 2017 cybersecurity advisory position also had the potential for Giuliani to enrich himself. Because Trump never made the job official, he said, the public may never know whether that happened. “It’s just another example with this administration,” Painter said, “and we see with Ukraine it’s the same thing.”
Parnas shares info
On Friday, we learned that District Judge Paul Oetken will allow Lev Parnas to share additional information with the House Intelligence Committee. The materials include documents seized from Parnas’ house and files taken from his iPhone. Attorney Joseph Bondy said the materials are relevant to the impeachment inquiry and “essential to the Committee’s ability to corroborate the strength of Mr. Parnas’s potential [impeachment] testimony.” Bondy updated the press on Monday, saying that the government turned over the seized materials and Parnas has begun to share them with the House Intelligence Committee.
Did China give Trump dirt on Biden?
A little-noticed October report from The Financial Times (FT) received new attention last week. You may remember on October 3, Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that “China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Michael Pillsbury, an informal adviser to Trump, told FT that China fulfilled Trump’s request by providing him with more dirt on the Bidens. In an email exchange released by FT’s Washington bureau chief, Pillsbury said: "Actually, I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese." However, hours later Pillsbury denied speaking with FT. The matter still has not been settled; we don’t know if Pillsbury was telling the truth.
Trump Org’s undocumented workers
The Trump Organization kept employing undocumented workers at the Trump Winery, recently firing them after workers had finished the annual grape harvest:
Nearly a year after the Trump Organization pledged to root out undocumented workers at its properties, supervisors at the Trump Winery on Monday summoned at least seven employees and fired them because of their lack of legal immigration status, according to two of the dismissed workers. ...“Donald Trump has known about these workers for months,” said Anibal Romero, an immigration lawyer who represents many of Trump’s former undocumented employees and is advising Miranda. “He waits until the fields are tended, grapes picked, wine made. He then discards them like a used paper bag. Happy New Year — you’re fired.”
President Donald Trump has pushed his taxpayer-funded golf tab past $118 million on his 26th visit to Mar-a-Lago, his for-profit resort in Palm Beach, Florida, with a Saturday visit to his course in neighboring West Palm Beach. The new total is the equivalent of 296 years of the $400,000 presidential salary that his supporters often boast that he is not taking. And of that $118.3 million, at least several million has gone into Trump’s own cash registers, as Secret Service agents, White House staff and other administration officials stay and eat at his hotels and golf courses. (HuffPost)
According to CNN, since his inauguration Trump “has spent at least 252 days at a Trump golf club and 333 days at a Trump property.”
Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who launched the bureau’s Russia probe in 2016 and was fired two years later for sending text messages critical of Donald Trump, has alleged in a new court filing challenging his dismissal that the FBI and Justice Department violated his rights to free speech and privacy. (Politico)
Strzok’s legal team argues: “The government’s argument would leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech.”
Twenty months later, the Justice Department still has not determined if it will bring criminal charges against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for possibly committing perjury. In November, District Judge Reggie B. Walton criticized prosecutors for leaving McCabe in limbo: “This is not a hard case. I was a good prosecutor for a long time. Deciding whether or not you’re going to charge someone with false statements or perjury is not that hard, factually or legally — maybe politically, but not factually or legally.” Since the case was first referred to the DOJ, one grand jury term has expired and a second did not issue an indictment. The Washington Post Editorial Board writes that “[i]t is hard not to read between the lines and see prosecutors who realize they have a bad legal case but won’t close it out for fear of angering the president.” Lawfare editor Susan Hennessey agrees: “DOJ refusing to close cases it does not genuinely intend to prosecute in order to place a cloud over the president's political opponents is abusive, illegitimate, and immoral. Once upon a time, we would have expected people to resign over things like this. Now, they shrug.” CONTINUED IN COMMENT BELOW...
2019.12.31 20:16 NationofChange10 good things about 2019
By: Medea Benjamin - December 31, 2019 Read the article here:https://www.nationofchange.org/2019/12/31/10-good-things-about-2019/ Impeachment, Trump, impeachment, Trump. It’s hard to think of this year without obsessing about the occupant of the White House. But yes, there were lots of other events going on in the world this year. Some of them were tragic, like the coup in Bolivia, but some are hopeful and move us in a positive direction. Here are ten. Please add more.
In January, the most diverse class of lawmakers in U.S. history was sworn into Congress, including a record number of women in the House: 102. Four of the freshman known affectionately as “the squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley—have shown what a few brave women can do to shake up the DC establishment. They denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants on our southern border; pushed for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All; confronted big pharma; started paying congressional interns; refused to take the “mandatory” AIPAC trip to Israel. They changed the Congressional ecosystem and thanks to them, a lot more young progressives are now running for Congress.
The Democratic primaries have forced the country to talk about progressive policies like never before. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pushed Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and policies to address this nation’s horrific inequalities. Tulsi Gabbard has focused on the need to end the endless wars. And compared with 2016, all of the candidates have been more open to directly confronting the military-industrial complex, with vague but critical calls for reducing the overblown Pentagon budget. The debates and campaign rallies have been opportunities to air discussions on real solutions to our nation’s ills, solutions that are not popular with big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.
2019 was a year of awe-inspiring environmental youth activism. The sensational 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden captured world attention at the U.N. climate summit with her call for young people to hold adults accountable for the disaster they’ve created. Greta’s school strike (she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament instead of going to school) inspired students walkouts throughout the world. She also inspired some famous elders: Thanks to Greta, Jane Fonda brought the Fire Drill Fridays to Washington D.C., doing civil disobedience at Congress every Friday and bringing more national attention to the climate crisis.
While the environmental gains this year are not nearly on the level needed, there are countries taking serious actions. The New Zealand parliament passed landmark legislation to achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The legislation establishes New Zealand as one of the few countries in the world with a legislated commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast to Australia, where climate and energy policy has provoked toxic debate and scare campaigns from the far right, the New Zealand bill passed with bipartisan support. The government also established a $100 million Green Investment Fund, which will invest public funds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; plant one billion new trees by 2028; and stop exploration for new oil and gas reserves.
In more environmental news, the European Unionbannedsingle-use plastic, including plastic cups, plates, forks, and straws. The ban will take effect by 2021. The change could help avoid nearly $25 billion-worth of environmental pollution by 2030. While the U.S. lags behind at the federal level, jurisdictions across the United States have instituted bans and fees on various types of plastics, like bags, carryout containers, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws. Eight states, including California and New York, have passed statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, while Maine has a ban on single-use polystyrene containers.
While Donald Trump crows about how great the domestic economy is, more and more workers are demanding a fairer share of the pie. Tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, went on strike to win better wages and benefits. G.M. agreed to a path for temps to become permanent workers, and to alter its tiered wage scale. Airline mechanics, including at Southwest Airlines, won raises. The move toward a $15 minimum wage is gaining steam, with 21 states raising minimum wages in 2019 and more increases on the way in 2020.
For Latin America, 2019 was a year of people’s power. There were advances and setbacks, but it’s clear that there is a return of the Pink Tide (the name given to the wave of progressive governments in the late 1990s and 2000s). In this past year, social movements and organized people rose up against neoliberalism in Chile and Ecuador, they defeated a coup in Venezuela, they’re resisting a coup in Bolivia, they rose up against a narco-dictator in Honduras, they rose up against state violence and austerity in Colombia, they took back power in Argentina, they’re transforming Mexico, and, last but not least, in Brazil they organized a successful and massive international campaign to free former president Lula da Silva.
In the Middle East, people also rose up in a massive repudiation of neoliberal policies and corrupt governments that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations at the expense of working people. In what has been dubbed the Autumn of Discontent, there were uprisings from Iraq to Lebanon, from Iran to Egypt. The repression against activists has been savage, with hundreds killed. In Lebanon, the protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but their goals are broader: They are demanding an end to corruption and mismanagement that results in blackouts and piles of garbage in the streets, as well as the crony sectarianism that enables it.
In Sudan, where the nation suffered for years under the murderous dictatorship of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, peoplepouredinto the streets by the hundreds of thousands. After months of courageous protests in which scores of Sudanese were shot, Abdalla Hamdok took office as prime minister in a power-sharing deal between the armed forces and the pro-democracy movement. the movement won a commitment for a three-year transition leading to elections, and Bashir was sent to prison for corruption. People are still in the streets demanding justice for the people killed in protests. “The victims have the right to truth, justice and reparations under international law,” say the protesters.
While Trump didn’t fulfill his promise to end our endless wars, and he actually sent 14,000 MORE troops to the Middle East, at least he didn’t start any new wars! Why? The American people have had enough. That hasn’t always been the case. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, most Americans supported both the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But no longer. They want to get out of the wars we are in and don’t want to engage in new ones. When the U.S. accused Iran of a spectacular attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, the hawks in the Trump administration wanted to respond with a military attack. But polls showed a miniscule 13 percent in favor. This has been a restraining factor for Trump and his warhawks. And let’s remember, this year also marked the downfall of the biggest warhawk of all, Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
In the coming year, those of us in the U.S. will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Four more years of Donald Trump will be devastating for our nation and our world. No matter what happens with the impeachment process in the Senate, we must mobilize to defeat Trump and build a more effective progressive movement. Remembering some of the gains in the difficult year of 2019 can help inspire us for the critical struggles ahead.
2019.11.18 10:26 LLtheMadKing199 organizations (and their functions) that are funded be George Soros (continued in comments)
(1-25) Advancement Project: This organization works to organize “communities of color” into politically cohesive units while disseminating its leftist worldviews and values as broadly as possible by way of a sophisticated communications department. Air America Radio: Now defunct, this was a self-identified “liberal” radio network. Al-Haq: This NGO produces highly politicized reports, papers, books, and legal analyses regarding alleged Israeli human-rights abuses committed against Palestinians. All of Us or None: This organization seeks to change voting laws — which vary from state to state — so as to allow ex-inmates, parolees, and even current inmates to cast their ballots in political elections. Alliance for Justice: Best known for its activism vis a vis the appointment of federal judges, this group consistently depicts Republican judicial nominees as “extremists.” America Coming Together: Soros played a major role in creating this group, whose purpose was to coordinate and organize pro-Democrat voter-mobilization programs. America Votes: Soros also played a major role in creating this group, whose get-out-the-vote campaigns targeted likely Democratic voters. America’s Voice: This open-borders group seeks to promote “comprehensive” immigration reform that includes a robust agenda in favor of amnesty for illegal aliens. American Bar Association Commission on Immigration Policy: This organization “opposes laws that require employers and persons providing education, health care, or other social services to verify citizenship or immigration status.” American Bridge 21st Century: This Super PAC conducts opposition research designed to help Democratic political candidates defeat their Republican foes. American Civil Liberties Union: This group opposes virtually all post-9/11 national security measures enacted by the U.S. government. It supports open borders, has rushed to the defense of suspected terrorists and their abettors, and appointed former New Left terrorist Bernardine Dohrn to its Advisory Board. American Constitution Society for Law and Policy: This Washington, DC-based think tank seeks to move American jurisprudence to the left by recruiting, indoctrinating, and mobilizing young law students, helping them acquire positions of power. It also provides leftist Democrats with a bully pulpit from which to denounce their political adversaries. American Family Voices: This group creates and coordinates media campaigns charging Republicans with wrongdoing. American Federation of Teachers: After longtime AFT President Albert Shanker died in in 1997, he was succeeded by Sandra Feldman, who slowly “re-branded” the union, allying it with some of the most powerful left-wing elements of the New Labor Movement. When Feldman died in 2004, Edward McElroy took her place, followed by Randi Weingarten in 2008. All of them kept the union on the leftward course it had adopted in its post-Shanker period. American Friends Service Committee: This group views the United States as the principal cause of human suffering around the world. As such, it favors America’s unilateral disarmament, the dissolution of American borders, amnesty for illegal aliens, the abolition of the death penalty, and the repeal of the Patriot Act. American Immigration Council: This non-profit organization is a prominent member of the open-borders lobby. It advocates expanded rights and amnesty for illegal aliens residing in the U.S. American Immigration Law Foundation: This group supports amnesty for illegal aliens, on whose behalf it litigates against the U.S. government. American Independent News Network: This organization promotes “impact journalism” that advocates progressive change. American Institute for Social Justice: AISJ’s goal is to produce skilled community organizers who can “transform poor communities” by agitating for increased government spending on city services, drug interdiction, crime prevention, housing, public-sector jobs, access to healthcare, and public schools. American Library Association: This group has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s War on Terror — most particularly, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which it calls “a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.” The American Prospect, Inc.: This corporation trains and mentors young leftwing journalists, and organizes strategy meetings for leftist leaders. Amnesty International: This organization directs a grossly disproportionate share of its criticism for human rights violations at the United States and Israel. Applied Research Center: Viewing the United States as a nation where “structural racism” is deeply “embedded in the fabric of society,” ARC seeks to “build a fair and equal society” by demanding “concrete change from our most powerful institutions.” Arab American Institute Foundation: The Arab American Institute denounces the purportedly widespread civil liberties violations directed against Arab Americans in the post-9/11 period, and characterizes Israel as a brutal oppressor of the Palestinian people. Aspen Institute: This organization promotes radical environmentalism and views America as a nation plagued by deep-seated “structural racism.” 26-50 Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now: This group conducts voter mobilization drives on behalf of leftist Democrats. These initiatives have been notoriously marred by fraud and corruption. Ballot Initiative Strategy Center: This organization seeks to advance “a national progressive strategy” by means of ballot measures—state-level legislative proposals that pass successfully through a petition (“initiative”) process and are then voted upon by the public. Bend The Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice: This organization condemns Voter ID laws as barriers that “make it harder for communities of color, women, first-time voters, the elderly, and the poor to cast their vote.” Bill of Rights Defense Committee: This group provides a detailed blueprint for activists interested in getting their local towns, cities, and even college campuses to publicly declare their opposition to the Patriot Act, and to designate themselves “Civil Liberties Safe Zones.” The organization also came to the defense of self-described radical attorney Lynne Stewart, who was convicted in 2005 of providing material support for terrorism. Black Alliance for Just Immigration: This organization seeks to create a unified movement for “social and economic justice” centered on black racial identity. Blueprint North Carolina: This group seeks to “influence state policy in North Carolina so that residents of the state benefit from more progressive policies such as better access to health care, higher wages, more affordable housing, a safer, cleaner environment, and access to reproductive health services.” Brennan Center for Justice: This think tank/legal activist group generates scholarly studies, mounts media campaigns, files amicus briefs, gives pro bono support to activists, and litigates test cases in pursuit of radical “change.” Brookings Institution: This organization has been involved with a variety of internationalist and state-sponsored programs, including one that aspires to facilitate the establishment of a U.N.-dominated world government. Brookings Fellows have also called for additional global collaboration on trade and banking; the expansion of the Kyoto Protocol; and nationalized health insurance for children. Nine Brookings economists signed a petitionopposing President Bush’s tax cuts in 2003. Campaign for America’s Future: This group supports tax hikes, socialized medicine, and a dramatic expansion of social welfare programs. Campaign for Better Health Care: This organization favors a single-payer, government-run, universal health care system. Campaign for Youth Justice: This organization contends that “transferring juveniles to the adult criminal-justice system leads to higher rates of recidivism, puts incarcerated and detained youth at unnecessary risk, has little deterrence value, and does not increase public safety.” Campus Progress: A project of the Soros-bankrolled Center for American Progress, this group seeks to “strengthen progressive voices on college and university campuses, counter the growing influence of right-wing groups on campus, and empower new generations of progressive leaders.” Casa de Maryland: This organization aggressively lobbies legislators to vote in favor of policies that promote expanded rights, including amnesty, for illegal aliens currently residing in the United States. Catalist: This is a for-profit political consultancy that seeks “to help progressive organizations realize measurable increases in civic participation and electoral success by building and operating a robust national voter database of every voting-age American.” Catholics for Choice: This nominally Catholic organization supports women’s right to abortion-on-demand. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good: This political nonprofit group is dedicated to generating support from the Catholic community for leftwing candidates, causes, and legislation. Center for American Progress: This leftist think tank is headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, works closely with Hillary Clinton, and employs numerous former Clinton administration staffers. It is committed to “developing a long-term vision of a progressive America” and “providing a forum to generate new progressive ideas and policy proposals.” Center for Community Change: This group recruits and trains activists to spearhead leftist “political issue campaigns.” Promoting increased funding for social welfare programs by bringing “attention to major national issues related to poverty,” the Center bases its training programs on the techniques taught by the famed radical organizer Saul Alinsky. Center for Constitutional Rights: This pro-Castro organization is a core member of the open borders lobby, has opposed virtually all post-9/11 anti-terrorism measures by the U.S. government, and alleges that American injustice provokes acts of international terrorism. Center for Economic and Policy Research: This group opposed welfare reform, supports “living wage” laws, rejects tax cuts, and consistently lauds the professed achievements of socialist regimes, most notably Venezuela. Center for International Policy: This organization uses advocacy, policy research, media outreach, and educational initiatives to promote “transparency and accountability” in U.S. foreign policy and global relations. It generally views America as a disruptive, negative force in the world. Center for Reproductive Rights: CRR’s mission is to guarantee safe, affordable contraception and abortion-on-demand for all women, including adolescents. The organization has filed state and federal lawsuits demanding access to taxpayer-funded abortions (through Medicaid) for low-income women. Center for Responsible Lending: This organization was a major player in the subprime mortgage crisis. According to Phil Kerpen (vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity), CRL “sh[ook] down and harass[ed] banks into making bad loans to unqualified borrowers.” Moreover, CRL negotiated a contract enabling it to operate as a conduit of high-risk loans to Fannie Mae. Center for Social Inclusion: This organization seeks to counteract America’s “structural racism” by means of taxpayer-funded policy initiatives. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Reasoning from the premise that tax cuts generally help only the wealthy, this organization advocates greater tax expenditures on social welfare programs for low earners. 51-75 Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS): Aiming to redistribute wealth by way of higher taxes imposed on those whose incomes are above average, COWS contends that “it is important that state government be able to harness fair contribution from all parts of society – including corporations and the wealthy.” Change America Now: Formed in December 2006, Change America Now describes itself as “an independent political organization created to educate citizens on the failed policies of the Republican Congress and to contrast that record of failure with the promise offered by a Democratic agenda.” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington: This group litigates and brings ethics charges against “government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests” and “betray the public trust.” Almost all of its targets are Republicans. Coalition for an International Criminal Court: This group seeks to subordinate American criminal-justice procedures to those of an international court. Color Of Change: This organization was founded to combat what it viewed as the systemic racism pervading America generally and conservatism in particular. Common Cause: This organization aims to bring about campaign-finance reform, pursue media reform resembling the Fairness Doctrine, and cut military budgets in favor of increased social-welfare and environmental spending. Constitution Project: This organization seeks to challenge the legality of military commissions; end the detainment of “enemy combatants”; condemn government surveillance of terrorists; and limit the President’s executive privileges. Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund: Defenders of Wildlife opposes oil exploration in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It condemns logging, ranching, mining, and even the use of recreational motorized vehicles as activities that are destructive to the environment. Democracy Alliance: This self-described “liberal organization” aims to raise $200 million to develop a funding clearinghouse for leftist groups. Soros is a major donor to this group. Democracy 21: This group is a staunch supporter of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act. Democracy Now!: Democracy Now! was created in 1996 by WBAI radio news director Amy Goodman and four partners to provide “perspectives rarely heard in the U.S. corporate-sponsored media,” i.e., the views of radical and foreign journalists, left and labor activists, and ideological foes of capitalism. Democratic Justice Fund: DJF opposes the Patriot Act and most efforts to restrict or regulate immigration into the United States — particularly from countries designated by the State Department as “terrorist nations.” Democratic Party: Soros’ funding activities are devoted largely to helping the Democratic Party solidify its power base. In a November 2003 interview, Soros stated that defeating President Bush in 2004 “is the central focus of my life” … “a matter of life and death.” He pledged to raise $75 million to defeat Bush, and personally donated nearly a third of that amount to anti-Bush organizations. “America under Bush,” he said, “is a danger to the world, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.” Demos: This organization lobbies federal and state policymakers to “addres[s] the economic insecurity and inequality that characterize American society today”; promotes “ideas for reducing gaps in wealth, income and political influence”; and favors tax hikes for the wealthy. Drum Major Institute: This group describes itself as “a non-partisan, non-profit think tank generating the ideas that fuel the progressive movement,” with the ultimate aim of persuading “policymakers and opinion-leaders” to take steps that advance its vision of “social and economic justice.” Earthjustice: This group seeks to place severe restrictions on how U.S. land and waterways may be used. It opposes most mining and logging initiatives, commercial fishing businesses, and the use of motorized vehicles in undeveloped areas. Economic Policy Institute: This organization believes that “government must play an active role in protecting the economically vulnerable, ensuring equal opportunity, and improving the well-being of all Americans.” Electronic Privacy Information Center: This organization has been a harsh critic of the USA PATRIOT Act and has joined the American Civil Liberties Union in litigating two cases calling for the FBI “to publicly release or account for thousands of pages of information about the government’s use of PATRIOT Act powers.” Ella Baker Center for Human Rights: Co-founded by the revolutionary communist Van Jones, this anti-poverty organization claims that “decades of disinvestment in our cities” — compounded by “excessive, racist policing and over-incarceration” — have “led to despair and homelessness.” EMILY’s List: This political network raises money for Democratic female political candidates who support unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. Energy Action Coalition: Founded in 2004, this group describes itself as “a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement.” For EAC, this means “dismantling oppression” according to its principles of environmental justice. Equal Justice USA: This group claims that America’s criminal-justice system is plagued by “significant race and class biases,” and thus seeks to promote major reforms. Fair Immigration Reform Movement: This is the open-borders arm of the Center for Community Change. Faithful America: This organization promotes the redistribution of wealth, an end to enhanced interrogation procedures vis a vis prisoners-of-war, the enactment of policies to combat global warming, and the creation of a government-run heath care system. Families USA: This Washington-based health-care advocacy group favors ever-increasing government control of the American healthcare system. 76-100 Feminist Majority: Characterizing the United States as an inherently sexist nation, this group focuses on “advancing the legal, social and political equality of women with men, countering the backlash to women’s advancement, and recruiting and training young feminists to encourage future leadership for the feminist movement in the United States.” Four Freedoms Fund: This organization was designed to serve as a conduit through which large foundations could fund state-based open-borders organizations more flexibly and quickly. Free Exchange on Campus: This organization was created solely to oppose the efforts of one individual, David Horowitz, and his campaign to have universities adopt an “Academic Bill of Rights,” as well as todenounce Horowitz’s 2006 book The Professors. Member organizations of FEC include Campus Progress (a project of the Center for American Progress); the American Association of University Professors; theAmerican Civil Liberties Union; People For the American Way; the United States Student Association; theCenter for Campus Free Speech; the American Library Association; Free Press; and the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups. Free Press: This “media reform” organization has worked closely with many notable leftists and such organizations as Media Matters for America, Air America Radio, Global Exchange, Code Pink, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Mother Jones magazine, and Pacifica Radio. Funding Exchange: Dedicated to the concept of philanthropy as a vehicle for social change, this organization pairs leftist donors and foundations with likeminded groups and activists who are dedicated to bringing about their own version of “progressive” change and social justice. Many of these grantees assume that American society is rife with racism, discrimination, exploitation, and inequity and needs to be overhauled via sustained education, activism, and social agitation. Gamaliel Foundation: Modeling its tactics on those of the radical Sixties activist Saul Alinsky, this group takes a strong stand against current homeland security measures and immigration restrictions. Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement: This anti-Israel organization seeks to help Palestinians “exercise their right to freedom of movement.” Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect: This group contends that when a state proves either unable or unwilling to protect civilians from mass atrocities occurring within its borders, it is the responsibility of the international community to intervene — peacefully if possible, but with military force if necessary. Global Exchange: Established in 1988 by pro-Castro radical Medea Benjamin, this group consistently condemns America’s foreign policy, business practices, and domestic life. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Global Exchange advised Americans to examine “the root causes of resentment against the United States in the Arab world — from our dependence on Middle Eastern oil to our biased policy towards Israel.” Grantmakers Without Borders: GWB tends to be very supportive of leftist environmental, anti-war, and civil rights groups. It is also generally hostile to capitalism, which it deems one of the chief “political, economic, and social systems” that give rise to a host of “social ills.” Green For All: This group was created by Van Jones to lobby for federal climate, energy, and economic policy initiatives. Health Care for America Now: This group supports a “single payer” model where the federal government would be in charge of financing and administering the entire U.S. healthcare system. Human Rights Campaign: The largest “lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender” lobbying group in the United States, HRC supports political candidates and legislation that will advance the LGBT agenda. Historically, HRC has most vigorously championed HIV/AIDS-related legislation, “hate crime” laws, the abrogation of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and the legalization of gay marriage. Human Rights First: This group supports open borders and the rights of illegal aliens; charges that the Patriot Act severely erodes Americans’ civil liberties; has filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of terror suspect Jose Padilla; and deplores the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities. Human Rights Watch: This group directs a disproportionate share of its criticism at the United States and Israel. It opposes the death penalty in all cases, and supports open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. I’lam: This anti-Israel NGO seeks “to develop and empower the Arab media and to give voice to Palestinian issues.” Immigrant Defense Project: To advance the cause of illegal immigrants, the IDP provides immigration law backup support and counseling to New York defense attorneys and others who represent or assist immigrants in criminal justice and immigration systems, as well as to immigrants themselves. Immigrant Legal Resource Center: This group claims to have helped gain amnesty for some three million illegal aliens in the U.S., and in the 1980s was part of the sanctuary movement which sought to grant asylum to refugees from the failed Communist states of Central America. Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project: This open-borders organization advocates mass immigration to the U.S. Immigration Advocates Network: This alliance of immigrant-rights groups seeks to “increase access to justice for low-income immigrants and strengthen the capacity of organizations serving them.” Immigration Policy Center: IPC is an advocate of open borders and contends that the massive influx of illegal immigrants into America is due to U.S. government policy, since “the broken immigration system […] spurs unauthorized immigration in the first place.” Independent Media Center: This Internet-based, news and events bulletin board represents an invariably leftist, anti-capitalist perspective and serves as a mouthpiece for anti-globalization/anti-America themes. Independent Media Institute: IMI administers the SPIN Project (Strategic Press Information Network), which provides leftist organizations with “accessible and affordable strategic communications consulting, training, coaching, networking opportunities and concrete tools” to help them “achieve their social justice goals.” Institute for America’s Future: IAF supports socialized medicine, increased government funding for education, and the creation of an infrastructure “to ensure that the voice of the progressive majority is heard.” Institute for New Economic Thinking: Seeking to create a new worldwide “economic paradigm,” this organization is staffed by numerous individuals who favor government intervention in national economies, and who view capitalism as a flawed system. 101-125 Institute for Policy Studies: This think tank has long supported Communist and anti-American causes around the world. Viewing capitalism as a breeding ground for “unrestrained greed,” IPS seeks to provide a corrective to “unrestrained markets and individualism.” Professing an unquestioning faith in the righteousness of the United Nations, it aims to bring American foreign policy under UN control. Institute for Public Accuracy: This anti-American, anti-capitalist organization sponsored actor Sean Penn’s celebrated visit to Baghdad in 2002. It also sponsored visits to Iraq by Democratic Congressmen Nick Rahall and former Democrat Senator James Abourezk Institute for Women’s Policy Research: This group views the U.S. as a nation rife with discrimination against women, and publishes research to draw attention to this alleged state of affairs. It also advocates unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, stating that “access to abortion is essential to the economic well-being of women and girls.” International Crisis Group: One of this organization’s leading figures is its Mideast Director, Robert Malley, who was President Bill Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs. His analysis of the Mideast conflict is markedly pro-Palestinian. J Street: This anti-Israel group warns that Israel’s choice to take military action to stop Hamas’ terrorist attacks “will prove counter-productive and only deepen the cycle of violence in the region” Jewish Funds for Justice: This organization views government intervention and taxpayer funding as crucial components of enlightened social policy. It seeks to redistribute wealth from Jewish donors to low-income communities “to combat the root causes of domestic economic and social injustice.” By JFJ’s reckoning, chief among those root causes are the inherently negative by-products of capitalism – most notably racism and “gross economic inequality.” Joint Victory Campaign 2004: Founded by George Soros and Harold Ickes, this group was a major fundraising entity for Democrats during the 2004 election cycle. It collected contributions (including large amounts from Soros personally) and disbursed them to two other groups, America Coming Together and the Media Fund, which also worked on behalf of Democrats. Justice at Stake: This coalition calls for judges to be appointed by nonpartisan, independent commissions in a process known as “merit selection,” rather than elected by the voting public. LatinoJustice PRLDF: This organization supports bilingual education, the racial gerrymandering of voting districts, and expanded rights for illegal aliens. Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: This group views America as an unremittingly racist nation; uses the courts to mandate race-based affirmative action preferences in business and academia; has filed briefs against the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to limit the wholesale granting of green cards and to identify potential terrorists; condemns the Patriot Act; and calls on Americans to “recognize the contribution” of illegal aliens. Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: This organization views the United States as a nation rife with racism, sexism, and all manner of social injustice; and it uses legislative advocacy to push for “progressive change” that will create “a more open and just society.” League of United Latin American Citizens: This group views America as a nation plagued by “an alarming increase in xenophobia and anti-Hispanic sentiment”; favors racial preferences; supports the legalization of illegal Hispanic aliens; opposes military surveillance of U.S. borders; opposes making English America’s official language; favors open borders; and rejects anti-terrorism legislation like the Patriot Act. League of Women Voters Education Fund: The League supports taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand; supports “motor-voter” registration, which allows anyone with a driver’s license to become a voter, regardless of citizenship status; and supports tax hikes and socialized medicine. League of Young Voters: This organization seeks to “empowe[r] young people nationwide” to “participate in the democratic process and create progressive political change on the local, state and national level[s].” Lynne Stewart Defense Committee: IRS records indicate that Soros’s Open Society Institute made a September 2002 grant of $20,000 to this organization. Stewart was the criminal-defense attorney who was later convicted for abetting her client, the “blind sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, in terrorist activities connected with his Islamic Group. Machsom Watch: This organization describes itself as “a movement of Israeli women, peace activists from all sectors of Israeli society, who oppose the Israeli occupation and the denial of Palestinians’ rights to move freely in their land.” MADRE: This international women’s organization deems America the world’s foremost violator of human rights. As such, it seeks to “communicat[e] the real-life impact of U.S. policies on women and families confronting violence, poverty and repression around the world,” and to “demand alternatives to destructive U.S. policies.” It also advocates unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. Malcolm X Grassroots Movement: This group views the U.S. as a nation replete with racism and discrimination against blacks; seeks to establish an independent black nation in the southeastern United States; and demands reparations for slavery. Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition: This group calls for the expansion of civil rights and liberties for illegal aliens; laments that illegal aliens in America are commonly subjected to “worker exploitation”; supports tuition-assistance programs for illegal aliens attending college; and characterizes the Patriot Act as a “very troubling” assault on civil liberties. Media Fund: Soros played a major role in creating this group, whose purpose was to conceptualize, produce, and place political ads on television, radio, print, and the Internet. Media Matters for America: This organization is a “web-based, not-for-profit … progressive research and information center” seeking to “systematically monitor a cross-section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation.” The group works closely with the Soros-backed Center for American Progress, and is heavily funded by Democracy Alliance, of which Soros is a major financier. Mercy Corps: Vis a vis the Arab-Israeli conflict, Mercy Corps places all blame for Palestinian poverty and suffering directly on Israel. Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund: This group advocates open borders, free college tuition for illegal aliens, lowered educational standards to accommodate Hispanics, and voting rights for criminals. In MALDEF’s view, supporters of making English the official language of the United States are “motivated by racism and anti-immigrant sentiments,” while advocates of sanctions against employers reliant on illegal labor seek to discriminate against “brown-skinned people.” Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein, PC: This influential defender of Big Labor is headed by Democrat operative Harold Ickes. Midwest Academy: This entity trains radical activists in the tactics of direct action, targeting, confrontation, and intimidation. 126-150 Migration Policy Institute: This group seeks to create “a North America with gradually disappearing border controls … with permanent migration remaining at moderate levels.” Military Families Speak Out: This group ascribes the U.S. invasion of Iraq to American imperialism and lust for oil. Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment: This group is the rebranded Missouri branch of the now-defunct, pro-socialist, community organization ACORN. MoveOn.org: This Web-based organization supports Democratic political candidates through fundraising, advertising, and get-out-the-vote drives. Ms. Foundation for Women: This group laments what it views as the widespread and enduring flaws of American society: racism, sexism, homophobia, and the violation of civil rights and liberties. It focuses its philanthropy on groups that promote affirmative action for women, unfettered access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, amnesty for illegal aliens, and big government generally. Muslim Advocates: Opposed to U.S. counter-terrorism strategies that make use of sting operations and informants, MA characterizes such tactics as forms of “entrapment” that are inherently discriminatory against Muslims. NARAL Pro-Choice America: This group supports taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, and works to elect pro-abortion Democrats. NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund: The NAACP supports racial preferences in employment and education, as well as the racial gerrymandering of voting districts. Underpinning its support for race preferences is the fervent belief that white racism in the United States remains an intractable, largely undiminished, phenomenon. The Nation Institute: This nonprofit entity sponsors leftist conferences, fellowships, awards for radical activists, and journalism internships. National Abortion Federation: This group opposes any restrictions on abortion at either the state or federal levels, and champions the introduction of unrestricted abortion into developing regions of the world. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty: This group was established in 1976 as the first “fully staffed national organization exclusively devoted to abolishing capital punishment.” National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy: This group depicts the United States as a nation in need of dramatic structural change financed by philanthropic organizations. It overwhelmingly promotes grant-makers and grantees with leftist agendas, while criticizing their conservative counterparts. National Committee for Voting Integrity: This group opposes “the implementation of proof of citizenship and photo identification requirements for eligible electors in American elections as the means of assuring election integrity.” National Council for Research on Women: This group supports big government, high taxes, military spending cuts, increased social welfare spending, and the unrestricted right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. National Council of La Raza: This group lobbies for racial preferences, bilingual education, stricter hate-crime laws, mass immigration, and amnesty for illegal aliens. National Council of Women’s Organizations: This group views the United States as a nation rife with injustice against girls and women. It advocates high levels of spending for social welfare programs, and supports race and gender preferences for minorities and women in business and academia. National Immigration Forum: Opposing the enforcement of present immigration laws, this organization urges the American government to “legalize” en masse all illegal aliens currently in the United States who have no criminal records, and to dramatically increase the number of visas available for those wishing to migrate to the U.S. The Forum is particularly committed to opening the borders to unskilled, low-income workers, and immediately making them eligible for welfare and social service programs. National Immigration Law Center: This group seeks to win unrestricted access to government-funded social welfare programs for illegal aliens. National Lawyers Guild: This group promotes open borders; seeks to weaken America’s intelligence-gathering agencies; condemns the Patriot Act as an assault on civil liberties; rejects capitalism as an unviable economic system; has rushed to the defense of convicted terrorists and their abettors; and generally opposes all U.S. foreign policy positions, just as it did during the Cold War when it sided with the Soviets. National Organization for Women: This group advocates the unfettered right to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand; seeks to “eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia” from American society; attacks Christianity and traditional religious values; and supports gender-based preferences for women. National Partnership for Women and Families: This organization supports race- and sex-based preferences in employment and education. It also advocates for the universal “right” of women to undergo taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason. National Priorities Project: This group supports government-mandated redistribution of wealth — through higher taxes and greater expenditures on social welfare programs. NPP exhorts the government to redirect a significant portion of its military funding toward public education, universal health insurance, environmentalist projects, and welfare programs. National Public Radio: Founded in 1970 with 90 public radio stations as charter members, NPR is today a loose network of more than 750 U.S. radio stations across the country, many of which are based on college and university campuses. (source) National Security Archive Fund: This group collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to a degree that compromises American national security and the safety of intelligence agents. National Women’s Law Center: This group supports taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand; lobbies against conservative judicial appointees; advocates increased welfare spending to help low-income mothers; and favors higher taxes for the purpose of generating more funds for such government programs as Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, foster care, health care, child-support enforcement, and student loans.
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(21 Jun 2016) Hundreds of people marched Tuesday in Caracas to show their support for President Nicolas Maduro. The government supporters, many of them Afro-... As the political crisis in Venezuela deepens, the country's economy continues to suffer and sanctions imposed by the United States are making things worse. Water shortages and rising inflation ... Venezuela on Saturday reopened its border with Colombia after four months of blockades by the country's embattled President Nicolas Maduro. The move spurred thousands of Venezuelans to flood into ... CNN's Nick Paton Walsh goes inside the deepening crisis in Venezuela to capture the desperation gripping the nation that could lead to political change. #CNN #News. Violent clashes broke out between protesters and the military in Caracas Tuesday after Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó launched what he said was the... The country has undergone an economic crisis and faced large scale riots re... Skip navigation ... NPR 183,366 views. 1:16. Venezuela: ... Venezuela crisis: ... Life on the line: Inside Venezuela's crisis Talk to Al Jazeera - Duration: 25:28. Al Jazeera English 530,968 views. 25:28. Medal of Honor recipient recalls deadly ambush - Duration: 14:49. BBC Mundo's Daniel Pardo explains what binds the two together, and why the US is following the current crisis in Venezuela so carefully. Video journalist: Mohamed Madi Become a Premium Member: http://bit.ly/JDPremium & https://www.patreon.com/jimmydore Schedule of Live Shows: http://bit.ly/2gRqoyL Check out our Merch Store:... PBS NewsHour is one of the most trusted news programs in television and online.