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27.02.2020 – US, United States – David Swanson

Bernie Finally Puts a Number on Cutting Military Spending

Bernie Sanders’ campaign has published a fact sheet on how everything he proposes can be paid for. On that fact sheet we find this line in a list of items that collectively will pay for a Green New Deal:

“Reducing defense spending by $1.215 trillion by scaling back military operations on protecting the global oil supply.”

Of course there is an obvious problem or mystery about this number, namely, isn’t it too damn good to be true? The full cost of military spending including numerous agencies plus debt for past wars, etc., is $1.25 trillion a year. While one might like to hope that Bernie is intent on leaving the military only $0.035 trillion a year, it seems highly unlikely that he means that. It’s highly unlikely that he even thinks of military spending costing $1.25 trillion a year rather than the $0.7 trillion a year or so that goes to the one agency misnamed the Department of Defense.

Elsewhere, the fact sheet uses 10-year periods to refer to certain numbers, and 10 years is the most common random period of time used by people to confuse budget figures for no apparent reason. However, Bernie’s Green New Deal Plan, which has long been online, refers to “15 years” just prior to referring to cutting back military spending by an unstated amount. This makes it highly likely that 15 years is the clue to this particular obfuscation.

$1.215 trillion divided by 15 is $81 billion. And $81 billion per year is the super-conservative figure that a study estimated the U.S. spends “to protect global oil supplies.” I think we can safely conclude that Sanders is proposing to take $81 billion a year out of militarism.

Of course, $81 billion falls dramatically short of the $350 billion that progressive groups have proposed moving out of militarism annually, or even the $200 billion urged by Public Citizen, or even the high range of the $60 billion to $120 billion that the CATO Institute suggests saving merely by closing foreign military bases.

On the other hand, the Sanders campaign has finally revealed a number related to moving money out of militarism, but only in relation to paying for part of a Green New Deal. It’s possible to fantasize, in the absence of any information, that Sanders wants to move other bits of military spending to other human and environmental needs. Sanders has claimed he wants a “very different” military budget, dramatically reduced; he just hasn’t put any approximate number on it — at least not in recent years.

As Politico reported four years ago on Sanders, “In 1995, he introduced a bill to terminate America’s nuclear weapons program. As late as 2002, he supported a 50 percent cut for the Pentagon. And he says corrupt defense contractors are to blame for ‘massive fraud’ and a ‘bloated military budget.’” Those last bits are not really disputable facts, but the fact that Bernie has said them out-loud augurs danger for war profiteers.

The trouble is that presidents for the past couple of centuries have performed less well in office than their campaign platforms, not better. Secretly imagining that Bernie simply must want to significantly reduce militarism is highly unlikely to produce a President Sanders who works hard to reduce militarism — much less a mass public movement that works hard to compel Congress to do so. Our best chance at moving money in a major way our of mass-murder and into mass-protection-of-life is to demand that Bernie Sanders take a position now. Moving money out of the military and into human and environmental needs is a hugely popular position in polls and has been for many years. The corporate media doesn’t like it, but the corporate media is already all-in on trying to stop Bernie — it can’t get any worse. Taking a position now would be beneficial to Sanders and distinguish him from other candidates.

Let’s look at how Bernie’s fact sheet proposes to pay for things.

College For All –> Wall Street speculation tax.

Expanding Social Security –> Lifting the cap on Social Security.

Housing For All –> Wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent.

Universal Childcare/Pre-K –> Wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent.

Eliminating Medical Debt –> Income inequality tax on large corporations that pay CEOs at least 50 times more than average workers.

Green New Deal –>

– Raising $3.085 trillion by making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.
– Generating $6.4 trillion in revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Administrations.  This revenue will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.
–  Reducing defense spending by $1.215 trillion by scaling back military operations on protecting the global oil supply.
–  Collecting $2.3 trillion in new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.
– Saving $1.31 trillion by reduced the need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.
–  Raising $2 trillion in revenue by making large corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

Key Points:

By averting climate catastrophe we will save: $2.9 trillion over 10 years, $21 trillion over 30 years and $70.4 trillion over 80 years.
If we do not act, the U.S. will lose $34.5 trillion by the end of the century in economic productivity.

Medicare for All –>

According to a February 15, 2020 study by epidemiologists at Yale University, the Medicare for All bill that Bernie wrote would save over $450 billion in health care costs and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths – each and every year.

Since 2016, Bernie has proposed a menu of financing options that would more than pay for the Medicare for All legislation he has introduced according to the Yale study.

These options include:

Creating a 4 percent income-based premium paid by employees, exempting the first $29,000 in income for a family of four.

In 2018, the typical working family paid an average of $6,015 in premiums to private health insurance companies.  Under this option, a typical family of four earning $60,000, would pay a 4 percent income-based premium to fund Medicare for All on income above $29,000 – just $1,240 a year – saving that family $4,775 a year.  Families of four making less than $29,000 a year would not pay this premium.
(Revenue raised: About $4 trillion over 10-years.)

Imposing a 7.5 percent income-based premium paid by employers, exempting the first $1 million in payroll to protect small businesses.

In 2018, employers paid an average of $14,561 in private health insurance premiums for a worker with a family of four.  Under this option, employers would pay a 7.5 percent payroll tax to help finance Medicare for All – just $4,500 – a savings of more than $10,000 a year.
(Revenue raised: Over $5.2 trillion over 10-years.)

Eliminating health tax expenditures, which would no longer be needed under Medicare for All.
(Revenue raised: About $3 trillion over 10-years.)

Raising the top marginal income tax rate to 52% on income over $10 million.
(Revenue raised: About $700 billion over 10-years.)

Replacing the cap on the state and local tax deduction with an overall dollar cap of $50,000 for a married couple on all itemized deductions.
(Revenue raised: About $400 billion over 10-years.)

Taxing capital gains at the same rates as income from wages and cracking down on gaming through derivatives, like-kind exchanges, and the zero tax rate on capital gains passed on through bequests.
(Revenue raised: About $2.5 trillion over 10-years.)

Enacting the For the 99.8% Act, which returns the estate tax exemption to the 2009 level of $3.5 million, closes egregious loopholes, and increases rates progressively including by adding a top tax rate of 77% on estate values in excess of $1 billion.
(Revenue raised: $336 billion over 10-years.)

Enacting corporate tax reform including restoring the top federal corporate income tax rate to 35 percent.
(Revenue raised: $3 trillion of which $1 trillion would be used to help finance Medicare for All and $2 trillion would be used for the Green New Deal.)

Using $350 billion of the amount raised from the tax on extreme wealth to help finance Medicare for All.

All of which suggests that Bernie thinks he can pay for much of what he wants to pay for without moving money out of the military. But he can’t reduce the risk of nuclear apocalypse, decrease wars, slow the environmental destruction of the most environmentally destructive institution we have, curtail the impacts on civil liberties and morality, or put a stop to the mass slaughter of human beings without moving money out of militarism. The money needs to be moved out, which as a side-benefit produces jobs, whether the money is moved to humane spending or to tax cuts for working people. Not only that, but a program of economic conversion needs to transition to decent employment those engaged in supplying weaponry to governments around the world. We need to demand that every candidate tell us now how much money they want to move out of militarism and what their plan is for economic conversion.

##

UPDATE February 25, 2020:

Timmon Wallis has kindly pointed out to me that Bernie mentions the $81 billion figure in his Green New Deal plan. Unfortunately, he did not state there that he wanted to stop spending that $81 billion, only that the U.S. currently was spending it. Here’s the relevant section:

Bring together the leaders of the major industrialized nations with the goal of using the trillions of dollars our nations spend on misguided wars and weapons of mass destruction to instead work together internationally to combat our climate crisis and take on the fossil fuel industry. Bernie recognizes that the Pentagon is the largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gases in the world and that the United States spends $81 billion annually to protect oil supplies and transport routes. We are uniquely positioned to lead the planet in a wholesale shift away from militarism.

25.02.2020 – Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion Faith Communities launch 40 Days of Action on Ash Wednesday: Enough Earth Destruction!
(Image by https://rebellion.earth/press/)
  • Christian Climate Action and Extinction Rebellion Faith Communities join forces during Lent for 40 days of Action where people are invited to choose one action to commit to for 40 days to protect the Planet
  • 40 Days of Action will launch on the 26th of February, Ash Wednesday, with a vigil outside Westminster Abbey starting at 2pm
  • 40 Days of Action is for everybody and everyone, people of all faiths and none. This is all about system change triggered by personal growth and interconnectedness. Some will be led to divest from fossil fuels, others will undertake acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.

40 Days of Action will be launched on the 26th of February, Ash Wednesday, with a vigil outside Westminster Abbey starting at 2pm to align with Lent. Groups such as Christian Climate Action and Extinction Rebellion Faith Groups will be coming together to call on religious organisations to fully divest from fossil fuels by the end of Lent. Our over-attachment to oil is crucifying the poor and harming life beyond repair.

During the vigil, a global prayer and meditation lasting 40-Days and 40-Nights will begin, with people being invited to choose one action to commit to for 40 days. All are invited into the wilderness together, a ‘vision quest’, a time to reflect upon the ways that we can strengthen the bonds of community and give up our over-dependence on fossil fuels. Some will decrease the amount of time spent on computers and social media, others will value and buy more locally sourced food, switch to an eco-friendly bank, or stop, pause and appreciate the beauty of a planet we are about to lose if we do not change direction. Others will find the courage necessary to step out into the unknown and commit to non-violent civil disobedience.

From the 26th of February until the 11th of April, many Christians around the World mark the season of Lent, the 40 days when Jesus of Nazareth went into the desert to fast and be tempted. This reflects the story in the Jewish tradition of forty years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after exile from Egypt. Many Indigenous traditions such as those of Aboriginals, the California Yuki, the Pueblo people of New Mexico and the Sioux practice prolonged exposure to wilderness as part of their vision quest that will help them find their purpose in life, their role in a community, and how they may best serve the People.

The 40 days action is inclusive by design and by necessity. It is open to everyone and every part of everyone. It can and should be interpreted according to one’s values and principles. It is non-violent and non-passive.

Birds, ancient trees, mammals and all living creatures need a non-toxic planet free from pollution and over-heating. We can act now.

Forty days of protest and strike for some, for others 40 days of restraint and journeying into a simpler more fulfilling life lived with others. For some, 40 days of self-analysis. For some,  reaching into communities, developing relationships and mutual understanding. For many, 40 days of solidarity with those already devastated by the climate and ecological emergency.

Valerie Brown, 40 Days of Action spokesperson, says: “The values and laws of the UK and many other countries around the world including parts of Africa spring from the teachings of the Bible. Likewise the Koran in the Middle East and also in Africa is the foundation of laws and values. 40 Days shines a light on what we have in common rather than the culture of dissent which has developed over the last 20 years. At a time like no other in human history the Climate and Ecological Crises has to pull us together if we are to overcome it. The regenerative message of 40 Days speaks to everyone because we want the same things. It’s an Action which gives each person self expression and time to reflect on what they want to do with our threatened world. The beauty of it in a world of sorrow is so much what we all need.”

Nick Cooper, Christian Climate Action spokesperson, says: “This is about system change, triggered by personal growth. We invite everyone to journey with us into the wilderness of Lent and encounter the ‘quiet voice’ so often hidden from us in daily life. We need desperately to hear that sacred voice calling us together as a global community – learning to live simpler more connected lives, and find the courage to take up civil disobedience in the face of an ever more desperate climate crisis. We need to stop denying the power that we hold as one sacred and interconnected body.”

Maria Chenoweth,  The Earth Day Switch Spokesperson, says: “The climate emergency makes it utterly critical that all individuals and groups must reconfigure and become one mass voice against the continued damage inflicted on our Earth. The beginning of lent 26th February, marks the date where across the world all faith and non-faith groups come together, united with one voice to tell the world that the fossil fuel industry is destroying our planet.  Together we will reflect on our collective and individual participation with fossil fuels, transitioning away from our personal use and how we indirectly fund them with our own money through the choice of bank, energy supplier and pension provider.”

Capacitar Prayer’. Adapted from the UN’s ‘Prayer of the Sabbath’

We join with the Earth

and with each other

with our ancestors

and all beings of the future

to bring new life to the land,

to recreate the human community,

to provide justice and peace,

to remember our children,

to remember who we are.

We join together as many and

diverse expressions

of one Loving Mystery,

For the healing of the Earth

and the renewal of all Life.

ABOUT CHRISTIAN CLIMATE ACTION

Christian Climate Action is a community of Christians supporting each other to take meaningful action in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate breakdown. Inspired by Jesus Christ, and social justice movements of the past, we carry out acts of non-violent direct action to urge those in power to make the change needed.

Purpose of Christian Climate Action:

  • To raise the alarm about the urgency and scale of the climate crisis facing God’s creation
  • Taking meaningful action to tackle the issue
  • To communicate the key role that Christians and the church can play in this climate emergency
  • To demonstrate the power of  non-violent direct action in change-making
  • To create safe spaces for people to emotionally process the effects this climate emergency has already caused to our planet and what it threatens to destroy if we carry on as business as usual.

Our Principles and Values:

OUR GOD IS LOVING: Our God is the creator who cares about creation

WE ACT IN LOVE: God calls us to love our neighbours, our enemies and our God – we must do all things in love.

WE ARE CALLED TO PARTICIPATE IN BRINGING ABOUT A RENEWED WORLD: Creating a world that is fit for generations to come.

OUR ALLEGIANCE IS TO GOD: Where there is a choice between obeying God and obeying the law of the land, we chose to obey God.

WE SET OUR MISSION ON WHAT IS NECESSARY: Mobilising enough of the population to take meaningful action in order to achieve system change.

WE ARE CALLED TO BE FAITHFUL, NOT SUCCESSFUL: None of us are perfect for tackling the climate emergency, but there is no time to wait until we are. We are called to tell the truth about the emergency we are in and to faithfully act now.

WE TAKE ACTION IN A SPIRIT OF REPENTANCE: We acknowledge we are part of the problem that we are fighting against and come to our actions in repentance and prayer.

WE NEED A REGENERATIVE CULTURE: Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.

WE OPENLY CHALLENGE OURSELVES AND THIS TOXIC SYSTEM: Leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.

WE VALUE REFLECTING AND LEARNING: Following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.

WE WELCOME EVERYONE AND EVERY PART OF EVERYONE: Working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.

WE ACTIVELY MITIGATE FOR POWER: Breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.

WE AVOID BLAMING AND SHAMING: We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.

WE ARE A NON-VIOLENT NETWORK: As Jesus did, we use non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.

WE ARE BASED ON AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALIZATION: We collectively create the structures we need to challenge power.

Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take action in the name of Christian Climate Action. It is important to note that all actions are taken by individuals acting in their own personal responsibility.

ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

25.02.2020 – Montréal, Québec – Anne Farrell

Police arrest Mohawk demonstrators at the blockage on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville Ontario
(Image by Native America Calling)

On Monday, police were clearing away Mohawk demonstrators who have blocked rail traffic on one of Canada’s most vital routes for the past 18 days, as threats break out of further protests in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

As television stations in Canada played video of arrests at the Tyendinaga Mohawk blockades near Marysville, Ontario hundreds of activists held a solidarity protest that began on Parliament Hill and crawled through downtown Ottawa.

At the same time, protesters from the Mohawk community in Kahnawake, Quebec — where activists have held their own rail blockade since February 8 held a slow-moving demonstration on a highway leading into Montreal.

Speaking to reporters on his way to meet with the government’s incident response group, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the barricades on rail lines “cannot persist” because they are having an unacceptable “negative impact on Canadians across the country.” (TheStar)

The Mohawk condemned the use of force being used in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on people who are standing up for human rights and the land and water. The rule of law includes human right and Indigenous rights. The international Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination condemns colonization which Canada practices through the Indian Act. Canada is a signatory to the ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination).

Political and public rhetoric about the “rule of law” has been invoked by those who support and those who oppose the protests. As Canadians work through these competing positions, an understanding of the constitutional freedom of peaceful assembly can offer some clarity. Protected under section 2(c) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, freedom of peaceful assembly is one of our most fundamental – and ignored – constitutional rights. (TheGlobalMail)

Protests raise some of the most important and thorniest questions at the intersection of constitutional rights and politics in a democratic society. These questions can get mired in confusion due to a common misconception: that freedom of peaceful assembly is the same as freedom of expression.  But freedom of peaceful assembly is different from freedom of expression (protected by section 2(b) of the Charter). The former protects expression that takes a particular form (assembly) and is exercised collectively. Equal freedom of expression alone is not enough to permit all perspectives to compete fairly in the “free marketplace of ideas.” Rather, unequal distribution of wealth and social standing amplifies some voices and silences others. In short, freedom of peaceful assembly gives marginalized groups a way to make themselves heard. (TheGlobalMail)

Environmental Assessment refusal

British Columbia has ordered the energy company behind the Coastal GasLink pipeline to go back and carry out more consultations with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs before it can proceed. The province’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) has refused a key report from the company, which is required before Coastal GasLink can get its final green light for construction in Wet’suwet’en territory.  (The National Obverser)

The company has 30 days to carry out more consultations with Wet’suwet’en community.

Yves-François Blanchet, Bloc Québécois chief and major Québec opposition on Parliament Hill in Ottawa pointed out on Sunday that the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office’s (EAO) request was known on Friday when Justin Trudeau called for respect for the law and the lifting of barricades. Blanchet said the Prime Minister should have used it as leverage to force dialogue since the assessment was dated February 18th. (TVA Nouvelles)

“Rather than referring to the suspension of work, the Prime Minister of Canada once again hid behind the police forces of the provinces and Quebec,” said Mr. Blanchet in an interview with TVA Nouvelles. It’s the opposite of the type of initiative you have to take. We must not threaten to use force when there is a great openness at present to have favorable conditions for negotiations. “(TVA Nouvelles)

Since the Prime Minister’s exit from the rail crisis on Friday, neither of the two largest barricades, that of Tyendinaga, east of Belleville, Ontario, (lifting up by police on Monday) and that of Kahnawake, on the South Shore of Montreal, has been lifted, and sympathy demonstrations continue to take place in various locations across the country.

23.02.2020 – London UK – Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Italian

Julian Assange extradition hearing begins 24/2. Yesterday’s London demo for his release
(Image by Free Assange Facebook)

Thousands went to the streets to demand Julian Assange’s release. Speakers at the event included Yanis Varoufakis, Julians‘a father John Shipton, Pink Floyd’s Roger Walters and fashion designer Vivien Westwood. The demo was also attended by people from several European countries. Here some images of the day.

Yanis Varoufakis and John Shipton (photos by Antonio Carvallo)

Photos Free Assange Facebook

Photos Alphaville 451 via Free Assange Facebook

The Canary reports that “Lawyers acting on behalf of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manninghave lodged a motion, arguing for her release. This comes as WikiLeakstweeted that Julian Assange‘s lawyers intend to produce ‘bombshell’ evidence at next week’s extradition hearing.

“Meanwhile, more evidence has emerged to further the argument that the extradition hearings should end on the grounds of extreme prejudice by UK authorities.”

22.02.2020 – The Baltic Word

This post is also available in: Greek

Washington prepares Europe for war
Defender Europe 20 (Image by US Army Europe)

By Lukas Ramonas for The Baltic Word.

As you know, large-scale NATO maneuvers Defender-Europe 20 will soon begin. Nearly 40 thousand troops will take part in the exercise. The exercise will be held in 10 European countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Germany.

These maneuvers will be the largest transfer of troops directly from the United States to the European continent in more than 25 years. For the first time, an American division will be transported to Eastern European countries located directly on the border with Russia; 37,000 soldiers and 35,000 military vehicles will be transported eastward through Germany.

As we can see, the U.S. and NATO plan to hold an uncovered demonstration of power, transferring a huge number of soldiers and military equipment to the borders of Russia.

Despite the deep crisis in U.S.-Russia relations and the unprecedented threat of military conflict between two nuclear countries, such a behavior of Washington is not something new. The U.S. openly acknowledges that diplomacy and consultations are not for them. The most attractive is the “dialogue” with other countries using a position of strength and a demonstration of military power.

It is remarkable, that such kind of American diplomacy, as well as the exercise Defender-Europe 20, begins to scare even NATO allies.

So, the danger of U.S. provocation with use of a large number of soldiers and military equipment was realized in Germany.

Thus, the deputies of the Bundestag from the Left Party prepared this week an appeal to the federal government of Germany. In this document they urged to abandon the “deployment of troops at the Russian border” as part of the U.S.-led Defender-Europe 20 exercise.

German politicians worry about authorities’ support of U.S. troops transfering to the East and sending contingent to military exercise in the Baltic States and Poland instead of taking steps to reduce tensions.

“The fact that NATO plays with the military stability of Europe precisely on the days of the approaching 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi fascism is an insult to the Russian population and many people in other countries. Their ancestors made the biggest sacrifice and made the greatest efforts to free Europe from fascism during the Second World War”, they say.

Indeed, European countries support the United States and become Washington’s puppets in their rivalry with Moscow instead of taking their own steps towards mutual understanding, dialogue, easing tensions and creating a collective security system in Europe. In the other words, America regularly uses violence in order to assert its right to govern and exploit others.

Incidentally, such demonstration of military power as Defender-Europe 20 military exercise questions the future of the remaining arms limitation and control agreements in Europe. It is obvious that all the participants of such aggressive actions become potential targets of Russian missiles in the future.

It is obvious that Russian generals are thinking over options for defense in such an environment and adjusting their future actions in case of military aggression against them.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that Russia would not leave these maneuvers without attention. “Of course, we will respond. We cannot ignore processes that are of great concern. But we will react in such a way that it does not create unnecessary risks”, Lavrov said.

As you can see, the situation is similar to the fact that the U.S. is trying to provoke a military conflict in Europe.

Unlike the United States, Russia conducts military exercises on its territory, moves military units on its territory and stores its nuclear weapons on its territory.

Unfortunately, the situation in the sphere of international security is getting worse. The risk of a large-scale war is increasing. However, not everyone understands the consequences. The patience of nuclear Russia was enough for German politicians. Let’s hope that this patience will be enough for all countries.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWqg7n2-_sI

 

21.02.2020 – Montréal, Québec – Anne Farrell

Media strategy? Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) offered to pull out of Wet’suwet’en Territory
Solidarity to Wet’suwet’en Commons Dream Portland

The solidarity movement with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs is growing everywhere in Canada. We’re into a second week of rail blockades and mass protests, and new ones keep popping up in different parts of the country and in United States.

Thursday the RCMP has offered to pull its officers back from the road along a pipeline construction route on Wet’suwet’en territory, a move federal public safety minister Bill Blair says meets the condition for lifting the paralyzing rail blockades elsewhere.

Blair told reporters Today that the RCMP’s deputy commissioner in B.C. made the offer in a letter to the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. He said in doing so the conditions that were set out by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters “have been met.”

But according to Molly Wickham it seems like a media strategy “the RCMP(Royal Canadian Mounted Police) have clearly not yet vacated, or officially engaged with our hereditary chiefs and governance. It’s suspicious to me that RCMP and government would claim to have met our conditions without talking to our hereditary chiefs.”

Molly Wickham is a Gidimt’en Clan member, adopted into the Cas Yikh (Grizzly Bear House), originally from House of Spookw. Molly’s father clan is C’ilhts’ëkhyu (Frog Clan). Molly completed her undergraduate degree on Coast Salish territories at the University of Victoria (UVIC) in Sociology and went on to earn a master’s degree in Indigenous Governance, also at UVIC. (Wet’suwet’en)

Theses protests and blockages are starting to have direct impact on the Canadian economy. The companies who depend on the more than 40,000 kilometres of rail line-crossing the country to get goods to market say they’re getting caught in the crossfire, after Canadian National Rail said Tuesday it had no choice but to shut down “significant” parts of its network if blockades remained. (TheToStar)

According to businesses leaders across Canada the delivery of goods ranging from oil to car parts to various food products were at risk of serious delays as railway blockages and growing protests against the construction of a pipeline in Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under increasing pressure to end the blockades, with Conservatives calling for the government to use forced and with Canadians businesses, the Liberal government insists negotiations are the only way to a lasting solution.

The hereditary chiefs demand that the pipeline construction company cease operations because it hasn’t obtained the consent to build on traditional territory from the hereditary chiefs. The company has signed benefit agreements with elected band councils along the route however.

The truth about politics in Canada is that when the population is this divided on an issue, there is no resolution to be found in law enforcement. The only way out is to listen to the anger, and make real changes.

First Nations, conversely, are successful in only 19 per cent of cases where they seek an injunction to stop resource development projects on their territory. At its lower levels, our legal system acts a lot like a rubber stamp for the demands of industry and government. Indigenous peoples usually have to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get a more thorough hearing, and when they do they often win. (Ricochet)

21.02.2020 – Jhon Sánchez

Writing to Julian Assange

Dear Julian,

I wish I were in fifth grade. If so, this letter would be easier to write. I think if the judge were in fifth grade too, he would release you. But when we grow up, logic is compromised with personal interests, fear, and arthritis sometimes.

I had read about you sometimes, and I had watched some of your interviews in Democracy Now. Last Saturday, I went to the CUNY Law School to attend a Panel discussion about your case. The room was packed. They are your followers. They believe in you, in what you have achieved. A woman even said that she had watched you in livestream until they took you away.

There are many things that I don’t understand like a kid from fifth grade. The US government wants to prosecute you because you exposed true information about their wrongdoings during the war. One of the panelists said that those documents, images, and videos changed American perception of the Iraq war. We realized that we’re not the saviors of the world but instead the Devil himself.

During the event, I was happy to hear Alice Walker who spoke in your support. “He’s a man concerned with facts.” I don’t want to misquote her, but I think she said that you’re “obnoxiously concerned with facts.” I’m not. Factual reality doesn’t’ seem very entertaining to me. As a fiction writer, I pass half of the time daydreaming. Well, if they’re after you who work with factual corruption, factual abuses, what would happen to me who works with dreams, with assumptions, basically with lies. Nothing that I write is real, but I could be even more damaging.

But governments or at least this one, the US government now, threatens people and makes them fearful. I wondered about that. What kind of things could I do if I’m fearful all the time?

Spring came earlier to NY this year. Even though the trees are still brownish and naked without leaves, people are walking around enjoying the sunshine and some of them are running in shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. How many of them would be able to publish documents that you had decided to publish? Do I need the courage to do it or only the realization that it’s part of my job? Should I ask myself before writing one of my dreams if this wouldn’t be allowed or if I need a government’s approval? Well, we may live in the age of dream with a pre-approval sanitation label.

The government tries to make us feel fear, and that’s what many people translate as ‘security.’ In the land of the First Amendment, the sacred freedom of expression, the New York Times also was persecuted for trying to publish the Pentagon Papers. This was a reminder by James Goodale. If this our precedent that clearly allowed the publication of documents related to the Vietnam War, what would be the responsibility of the prosecutor who actively looks for your punishment? It seems that in States, prosecutors can act irresponsibly without significant consequences. Well, if they found out of their negligence years later, they probably are going to remove their ‘sacred names’ from the law school halls, but that’s all. Persecution or ‘prosecution’ is a trend, another face of what some people call ‘security.’

After Goodale talked, I kept asking myself why we still have the Espionage Act in books. This is a vague, broad law. Shouldn’t we have repealed it since the times of the Pentagon Papers? Is there one of our politicians interested in erasing it or, at the very least, to restrict it? It seems that if the government can disobey a precedent like that, at least Congress is supposed to do something about it. But sadly, neither Republicans nor Democrats are interested in that.

Renata Avila, your lawyer, told us about your life and reminded us that many of the journalists that denigrate you have never met you. I don’t know if I need to like you or dislike you to agree that what you have done is your job: Publishing. So why do some people want you in jail because you’re in a certain way or in another? Well, you have already been confined for a long time now since the time that you’re were not allowed to leave the Ecuadorian embassy. Seven years? People forgot that. The British government was interfering with Ecuador’s sovereign decision to grant you asylum. They ignored it. Of course, the current President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, revoked your asylum and your citizenship, and the British put you in jail. What do the Ecuadorians think about it? Still, it’s difficult to believe that Lenin Moreno was acting out of pure principle. Well, he obviously ignored something called due process.

After all these ‘mishaps,’ we cannot believe in the British judges either. Mrs. Avila said that the judge would likely not to rule in your favor. They don’t want to take the responsibility, so this may go to the court of appeals. How sad. And the British and the Americans accused the third world of not having independent judges.

Well, everything would be clear if we were in fifth grade. If I can tell you, Julian, you didn’t anything wrong, drawing the Devil as it is. They shouldn’t send you that corner. Besides, who can tell us that we only need to draw little angels?

By for now,

Jhon

If you want to write to Julian Assange, you can do go to writejulianmeets.blogspot.com or https://writejulian.com/  and follow the instructions.

Join to The Global Protest at the UK Consulate in NYC to mark the beginning of Julian Assange’s full extradition hearing on February 24th, 11:00AM
British Consulate, 885 Second Ave at 47th St., New York, NY

For more information, contact NYCFreeAssange@gmail.com


About the Author:  Jhon Sánchez: A Colombian Born, Mr. Sánchez, arrived in NYC seeking political asylum where he is now a lawyer. His short stories are available in Midway Journal, The Meadow, Newfound, Fiction on the Web, among others. The DeDramafi, was published on The Write Launch, and Storylandia will reprint it in issue 36. He was awarded the Horned Dorset Colony for 2018 and the Byrdcliffe Artist Residence Program for 2019. In 2021, New Lit Salon Press will publish his collection Enjoy Pleasurable Death and Other Stories that Will Kill You. For updates, please visit the Facebook page @WriterJhon .

18.02.2020 – Democracy Now!

This post is also available in: Italian

20 Teens Arrested as Youth Climate Activists Take Over Capitol Building for Green New Deal Teach-In
(Image by Sunrise Movement)

Over 150 youth climate activists with the Sunrise Movement took over the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Monday to hold a teach-in on the Green New Deal and to call on lawmakers to immediately adopt the measure. Twenty teenagers, one as young as 13, were arrested during the demonstration. This is a student protester speaking at the action.

Gus Demerath: “No matter who you are, you have a place at the table. That’s why I ask my senators to co-sponsor this Green New Deal. I don’t want any change in 5, 10, 20, 50 years; I want it fucking now!”

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

18.02.2020 – Los Angeles, USA – Robert Hunziker

Amazon Onslaught
Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest, near Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. Date:19 April 2011, 10:17:23. Author: Neil Palmer/CIAT

This month Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro proposed a new bill promoting mining, expanded agriculture, and energy production on indigenous lands in the Amazon. Accordingly, private developers as well as private hedge funds will occupy and develop land that’s been home to indigenous people for thousands of years.

Meantime during Bolsonaro’s first full year in office, deforestation increased by 85%. More on this eye-popping number follows.

Of recent, there have been several deeply disturbing developments in the Amazon. Less than two months ago the world’s leading Amazonian scientists, Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University) and Carlos Nobre (University of Sao Paulo) issued a harsh warning to the people of the world: “Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.” (Source: Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 12, December 20, 2019).

Tipping points are final acts in nature, meaning points of no return for ecosystems, as functionality turns sour. Regarding the vastness of the Amazonian rainforest, its functionality is so worldly powerful that loss is incomprehensible and likely indicative of an impending final act for civilized, as well as uncivilized, life on the planet.

Nevertheless, recklessly flirting with extreme potent danger, the “tipping point warning” by leading scientists is brushed aside by Bolsonaro’s government, as the Amazon rainforest suffers direct attack on all fronts; it’s like an Anti-Climate Change Crusade, meaning, clearing the planet of all life forms, except for humans, but that can only last for so long before “thudding humans” start reverberating throughout the planet.

Already, the belated impact of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming over the decades has only now started clobbering the Amazon with three 100-year droughts, back-to-back-to-back every 5 years. It’s unprecedented, never happened before, until excessive levels of CO2 accumulated in the atmosphere.

According to NASA, serious, likely permanent, damaging episodes of drought in 2005, 2010, and 2015 have literally changed the Amazon, losing its special “carbon sink status.” As such, the Amazon’s sphere of influence in various regions throughout the rainforest transforms from preserving humanity via its powerful “carbon sink” capabilities to morphing into a shameful “carbon emitter,” same as coal-fired power plants spewing CO2, but not as sooty.

Unprecedented 100/year droughts occurring every five years sends a clear resounding signal to the world that something is horribly wrong.

Consider: According to NASA, the timing between drought sequences has impeded regrowth. The rainforest just doesn’t react like it used to. It does not have enough time between droughts to heal itself and regrow. Throughout all of recorded history, this has never been witnessed before. The implications are downright dreadful. (Source: NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage, NASA Earth Science News Team, August 9, 2018)

Meanwhile and regrettably, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, deforestation of the Amazon surged by 85% in 2019. Wall Street brokers would kill for a stock that increased by 85% in one year, and they would not blink an eye over a bloody mess, if necessary, to achieve such spectacular results, which, in a sense, is equivalent to the 85% Amazonian deforestation scenario. Which will likely get worse in 2020.

Not only that, killing indigenous tribal people is on the rise as private adventurers take Bolsonaro’s rightwing sentiments to heart, intruding into the Amazon. They’re armed for self-defense as well as to assault new lands. One never knows when a barefooted half-naked man carrying a thin wooden spear may appear from within the bush on his sacred homeland.

As if the situation couldn’t get much worse, the outlook for 2020 is simply awful! According to MapBiomas, a Brazilian organization in collaboration with universities, NGOs, and technology companies that monitor deforestation: “It would be expected that it will be worse than last year unless something really big happens in the next two or three months to avoid the high season of deforestation that starts in May (2020), according to Tasso Azevedo, coordinator of a group called MapBiomas.” (Source: Victoria Klesty, Amazon Deforestation Could Speed Up In 2020: Expert, Reuters January 15, 2020)

What’s worse than 85% deforestation? Is it 100% or maybe more now that Bolsonaro is so anxious to open up the Amazon to the deep-seated impulses of neoliberal-neocolonial capitalism (1) privatize (2) extract (3) monetize, as quickly as humanly possible, no questions asked.

Going forward, and assuming the Bolsonaro Amazon Extraction Scheme works as planned and passes muster in the hallowed halls of The National Congress of Brazil (Brasilia), it likely puts at risk essential life-sourcing features of the Amazon: Without its wondrous strength and power to generate (1) hydrologic systems (rivers across the sky as far north as Iowa), (2) absorb and store carbon (CO2) and (3) miraculous life-giving endless supply of oxygen, civilization would cease to exist beyond scattered tribes, here and there.

In all, it’s obvious where the Amazonian affair is headed, especially giving consideration to “civilization ceasing to exist beyond scattered tribes, here and there.”

Fortuitously, the infrastructure is already in place for that new world order. There are 305 Brazilian tribes, population 900,000, already in place to teach civilized society how to act and behave and live within natural ecosystems that fundamentally support the planet with vital life-giving resources… for free!

Postscript:  An excellent new film by ScientistsWarning.TV (Stuart Scott, Executive Director) “Rollbacks – An Assault Against Life on Earth” is an exposé of Trump’s attack on the environment. The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUWZZTu0GAM&feature=youtu.be

We are Chinese, not a virus

16.02.2020 – Redazione Italia

This post is also available in: Italian

We are Chinese, not a virus

Because of the great paranoia that generated the Coronavirus coming from China, several episodes of racism and violence against Chinese citizens in different countries of the world are being unleashed. The horror generated by an unknown virus mixed with widespread sinophobia (anti-Chinese sentiment) generally affects the “almond-eyed” people who are our fellow citizens.

I met Sun, about 18 years ago, in Siena, at the university. He called himself Sole (Italian translation on Sun, ndt); a really sunny, young and bright boy. Sun was the object of a racist attack during the famous Sars virus outbreak. Today he lives in Shanghai and tells us in his words what it means to be a victim of collective paranoia and how important it is to know how to appreciate people’s hearts, without defining them as a threat, or simply as a virus.

“I was in Siena when SARS occurred in 2003, I was 20 years old then. Back then, I didn’t really understand too many things around me, or I shall say I couldn’t care less about anything else other than taking care of myself. Schooling and working part-time as delivery guy for Chinese takeaway had occupied most of my time. I was exhausted by so-called everyday life.

One night, as I was walking back home from work, a group of local youngsters approached me and screamed at my face, SARS! We don’t want you here, you Chinese get the hell out of my country! Didn’t have time to think, I was shocked and furious, the rage of my anger reached to tipping point in a split second, I shouted back at them. Knowing that wasn’t a smart thing to do, but it was too late for that, and what happened next proved it. I was badly beat up by all six or seven of them. Alone and hurt, I slowly got back up from the ground, and start to move my legs toward home, because there wasn’t anything I could do…but it wasn’t over, at least it wasn’t for them, they had no intension of letting me go…they followed me, and continued to insult me with jokes and laughter. So, I did something, something that I regret even until today. I rushed home and grabbed a kitchen knife, rushed back downstairs, and slashed at the young man who hit me first. Somehow, the knife missed him, but I was there swinging it, and later on, when a roommate of mine who is also Chinese saw me fighting on my own, he went in the crowd and joined the scuffle. And all I remember was the police came shortly after. My shoes were missing, my clothes were torn, and we were all taken to the nearby police station, handcuffed.

In the hallway of the police station, where we were asked to sit and wait, my fear struck in, I knew I was in trouble, and had no clue what’s going to happen to me next, I was devasted. The youngsters sat not far from me, by the coffee machine, they were chatting while causally sipping on coffee, one even tried to tell to me that how they’d take care of me once we get out… I took a good look at them, they’re about the same age as me, or maybe even younger… I was exhausted from the fight, the pain from the injuries of my body also starts to kick in, I was suffering…moments later, I decided to talk to them, I wanted to speak for myself – You have your families here, your mum cooks for you, washes your clothes… we are about the same age, on top of going to school, learning the language, I have to work hard to make money so I can survive in Italy. I am worried about my rent next month, I need to figure out how much I can spend on food, every single day. What did I do wrong? Is it just because I am Chinese trying to make a living in this country?! The laughter stopped, they became quiet… Soon after, one young men with blonde hair came over and said to me that – “I apologize for my friends action, it wasn’t the right thing to do bullying you at first, but you shouldn’t have never taken the knife, it was just too exaggerated, and I will tell the police the truth, about what really happened”.

His honesty prevented me from a 3 years sentence in prison, and we also agreed to settle the case outside the court. At the end, my charge was disputed, but I had to pay 3,000 Euros as handling fee to the lawyer, which was quite a disaster for someone like me who makes 15 euros a day at that time. I didn’t tell my parents about it, I was too afraid to tell, because I knew they’d be upset and worried if I did. I’m not a person who likes to cry, but when later on my dad called me on the phone and asked me how I was doing in Italy, I broke down, my tears just wouldn’t stop pouring out, although I still told him that I was doing fine.

In the next few years, after the incident, my only goal was to earn more money so I can pay off my lawyer fee, my priority had switched, and I failed spectacularly at school. The Chinese roommate who fought with me was asked by parents to return home, we never met again. Because of me, he paid his due, a great one, not the one that him or his parents were wished for, and all is down to me, I fell responsible for it. They say, life is a circle, my other life lesson was learned 2 years later. When I move to a new house, I ended up living in an area where the youngsters also lived. I see them almost every day, and every time when I bump into them on the street, it just remined me of the reason that I am working my arse now is all because of them, it wasn’t a good feeling and I blamed them for where it was gotten me, I hated them.

I remember it was a summer morning, I left home for work. When I went downstairs, I saw there were people dressed in black gathering at the church entrance. I walked pass the church, there was this huge photo of a young man displayed in the centre of the church, it was a photo of a young man, the young man who got me into the fight 2 years ago, the young man who I’d hated for 2 years, he had gone, passed away in a car accident. Coming from nowhere, I suddenly felt a huge loss of emptiness. All the hatred in my heart was replaced by complicated yet mixed emotions. he was 19, he was younger than I was. I knew I hated him, but when I saw his picture in the church, I felt like I had lost a friend, someone who was closed to me. For some reason, I was hoping that he was still alive, so we’d fight again, because at least he is alive, not dead, not gone forever. Hartery is so small, when you compare it with death. From that day on, I gradually learned to accept the people I didn’t use to accept, I learned to appreciate things that I didn’t use to appreciate. No matter how we met, where we met, we met for a reason, we met for a purpose, and we shall all treat each other equally. At least since that day I have not been wishing anyone death, because that feeling of emptiness was too bad. 

Time passes fast, after 17 years, we are facing another great challenge of the century, the Coronavirus. Seeing people outside China putting on a different look towards Chinese people because of it just reminds me of my pasts, what I have experienced. We often live our lives with labels attached, perhaps this label favouritism / racism is something we should all think about. Yes, I am Chinese, and you may be Italian, and yes, we do have culture differences and things that we don’t agree with, but we often forget that we are all human beings. As human beings, we all have our wrongs and rights, we all have our good side and dark side. What’s important is that human have feelings. Viruses are terrible, but what’s even worse is to live in a world that is without empathy and love. I sincerely hope that after this epidemic has passed, not only our bodies will recover, but also our numb and unloved hearts.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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