Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Coming War On China


Counterpunch  |  I have spent two years making a documentary film, The Coming War on China, in which the evidence and witnesses warn that nuclear war is no longer a shadow, but a contingency.  The greatest build-up of American-led military forces since the Second World War is well under way. They are in the northern hemisphere, on the western borders of Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, confronting China.

The great danger this beckons is not news, or it is buried and distorted: a drumbeat of mainstream fake news that echoes the psychopathic fear embedded in public consciousness during much of the 20th century.

Like the renewal of post-Soviet Russia, the rise of China as an economic power is declared an “existential threat” to the divine right of the United States to rule and dominate human affairs.

To counter this, in 2011 President Obama announced a “pivot to Asia”, which meant that almost two-thirds of US naval forces would be transferred to Asia and the Pacific by 2020. Today, more than 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and, above all, nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to Japan, Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, says one US strategist, “the perfect noose”.

A study by the RAND Corporation – which, since Vietnam, has planned America’s wars – is entitled, War with China: Thinking Through the Unthinkable.  Commissioned by the US Army, the authors evoke the cold war when RAND made notorious the catch cry of its chief strategist, Herman Kahn — “thinking the unthinkable”. Kahn’s book, On Thermonuclear War, elaborated a plan for a “winnable” nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

Today, his apocalyptic view is shared by those holding real power in the United States: the militarists and neo-conservatives in the executive, the Pentagon, the intelligence and “national security” establishment and Congress.

The current Secretary of Defense, Ashley Carter, a verbose provocateur, says US policy is to confront those “who see America’s dominance and want to take that away from us”.

For all the attempts to detect a departure in foreign policy, this is almost certainly the view of Donald Trump, whose abuse of China during the election campaign included that of “rapist” of the American economy. On 2 December, in a direct provocation of China, President-elect Trump spoke to the President of Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province of the mainland. Armed with American missiles, Taiwan is an enduring flashpoint between Washington and Beijing.

“The United States,” wrote Amitai Etzioni, professor of international Affairs at George Washington University, “is preparing for a war with China, a momentous decision that so far has failed to receive a thorough review from elected officials, namely the White House and Congress.”  This war would begin with a “blinding attack against Chinese anti-access facilities, including land and sea-based missile launchers … satellite and anti-satellite weapons”.

Is The U.S. Worried That China Will ‘Win’ With World’s First GMO Humans?


wakingscience |  Rejecting the inherent ability of the human immune system to naturally fight disease on its own, researchers out of China have taken nature to task by introducing a new set of genetic modification techniques that they claim will “enhance” the ability of the human body to attack and destroy cancer cells.

According to reports, the procedure involves injecting extracted immune cells with so-called “CRISPR” technology, which essentially reprograms the ways in which they handle foreign invaders. CRISPR combines a DNA-cutting enzyme with a specific molecular guide that, in essence, changes the way genes express themselves.
As reported in Nature, a team of scientists led by Lu You, an oncologist from Sichuan University in China, have already used CRISPR to “treat” a patient suffering from an aggressive form of lung cancer, which is part of a larger clinical trial currently taking place at West China Hospital.

Previous trials have taken place with similar technologies, but those pushing CRISPR claim that it’s simpler and more efficient than its predecessors. If eventually approved for commercial use, CRISPR would become the world’s first form of genetic modification for humans, opening a Pandora’s box of biotechnology that threatens to further syncretize man and machine.

You’s trial received ethical approval from the hospital board back in July, and so far the results have met his expectations. Immune cells extracted from the test patient’s blood were injected with CRISPR, which in effect disabled the gene codes for certain proteins including PD-1, which under normal circumstances halt’s the body’s immune response, allowing cancer cells to proliferate.

After the reprogramming process was complete, You and his team cultured these cells, replicated them into much larger quantities, and re-injected them back into the patient. Now they wait to see whether or not the genetically-modified (GM) genome successfully overcomes the patient’s metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer.

Old Triple-Dipper Still Out Hustling Gwalla in These Streets...,


NYTimes  |  Former Senator Bob Dole, acting as a foreign agent for the government of Taiwan, worked behind the scenes over the past six months to establish high-level contact between Taiwanese officials and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s staff, an outreach effort that culminated last week in an unorthodox telephone call between Mr. Trump and Taiwan’s president.

Mr. Dole, a lobbyist with the Washington law firm Alston & Bird, coordinated with Mr. Trump’s campaign and the transition team to set up a series of meetings between Mr. Trump’s advisers and officials in Taiwan, according to disclosure documents filed last week with the Justice Department. Mr. Dole also assisted in successful efforts by Taiwan to include language favorable to it in the Republican Party platform, according to the documents.

Mr. Dole’s firm received $140,000 from May to October for the work, the forms said.

The disclosures suggest that President-elect Trump’s decision to take a call from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, was less a ham-handed diplomatic gaffe and more the result of a well-orchestrated plan by Taiwan to use the election of a new president to deepen its relationship with the United States — with an assist from a seasoned lobbyist well versed in the machinery of Washington.

“They’re very optimistic,” Mr. Dole said of the Taiwanese in an interview on Tuesday. “They see a new president, a Republican, and they’d like to develop a closer relationship.”

The United States’ One China policy is nearly four decades old, Mr. Dole said, referring to the policy established in 1979 that denies Taiwan official diplomatic recognition but maintains close contacts, promoting Taiwan’s democracy and selling it advanced military equipment.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Negative ROI of Team America World Police



thearchdruidreport |  History shows that there are two ways that empires end. Their most common fate involves clinging like grim death to their imperial status until it drags them down. Spain’s great age of overseas empire ended that way, with Spain plunging into a long era of economic disarray and civil war. At least it maintained its national unity; the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires both finished their imperial trajectories by being partitioned, as of course did the Soviet Union. There are worse examples; I’m thinking here of the Assyrian Empire of the ancient Middle East, which ceased to exist completely—its nationhood, ethnicity, and language dissolving into those of its neighbors—once it fell.

Then there’s the other option, the one chosen by the Chinese in the fifteenth century and Great Britain in the twentieth. Both nations had extensive overseas empires, and both walked away from them, carrying out a staged withdrawal from imperial overreach. Both nations not only survived the process but came through with their political and cultural institutions remarkably intact. This latter option, with all its benefits, is still available to the United States.

A staged withdrawal of the sort just described would of course be done step by step, giving our allies ample time to step up to the plate and carry the costs of their own defense. Those regions that have little relevance to US national interests, such as the Indian Ocean basin, would see the first round of withdrawals, while more important regions such as Europe and the northwest Pacific would be later on the list. The withdrawal wouldn’t go all the way back to our borders by any means; a strong presence in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific basins and a pivot to our own “near abroad” would be needed, but those would also be more than adequate to maintain our national security.

Meanwhile, the billions upon billions of dollars a year that would be saved could be put to work rebuilding our national infrastructure and economy, with enough left over for a Marshall Plan for Mexico—the most effective way to reduce illegal immigration to the United States, after all, is to help make sure that citizens of the countries near us have plenty of jobs at good wages where they already live. Finally, since the only glue holding the Russo-Chinese alliance together is their mutual opposition to US hegemony, winding up our term as global policeman will let Russia, China and Iran get back to contending with each other rather than with us.

Cancel This Wasteful Crap!!!



Politifact |  As the trade publication Defense One has noted, the two current Air Force Ones -- a modified version of a Boeing 747-200 aircraft known as VC-25 -- were purchased under President Ronald Reagan and were delivered in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush. With Boeing closing down its 747-200 production line 24 years ago, spare parts for the two current planes have become hard to find. And the plane is approaching the end of its expected 30-year life.

So during his second term, President Barack Obama ordered a replacement fleet. (By tradition, a president does not order planes that he will expect to use personally.) Since the old model of the basic aircraft isn’t being made any longer, a new one had to be created. The new model will be based on the Boeing 747-8, with four engines and two floors.

Trump’s tweet referenced one plane, but the Air Force One program will actually produce two planes, not one. That allows one to undergo maintenance while the other one is available.

Of course, Air Force One is more than just a plane. It’s also a mobile command center, with state-of-the-art communications and safety features.

The plane must be able to refuel while flying, and the president and his staff need to have communications capabilities equivalent to what is in the Oval Office -- secure video conferences, classified computer access, and nuclear-strike controls. It also needs robust defensive systems such as missile evasion.

The new planes will be "both the fastest and longest commercial airliner in the world," according to military.com. They will be able to fly 7,730 nautical miles -- nearly 1,000 more than the current planes -- and will produce 16 tons less of carbon dioxide on a typical flight, according to the company.

Unsustainable Wastefulness of the Unspeakable Parasite



WaPo |  The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

All Fun and Games and Profit - Till It Backfires On You


theatlantic |  In response to my article, “Are Jews White?,” some people, primarily on Twitter, have voiced concerns about the headline.
  • Some seem to read it as a dog-whistle to white nationalists who seek to show that Jews are part of what they regard as a non-white, inferior racial group, thus reinforcing tropes of anti-Semitism.
  • Others seem to see it as an earnest questioning of whether Jews belong in the “white” racial category, thus promoting the use of racial categories.
  • And still others claim the headline reinforces old stereotypes within the Jewish community—specifically, a blindness to the experiences of Jews of non-Ashkenazi or non-European descent, many of whom might not self-identify or be seen as white by other people in the American context.
We’re keeping the headline, and I want to explain why.

“Race” is a historically contingent and subjective category that is used to justify violence against minority groups. I specifically wrote about American Jews because their experiences—which are incredibly diverse and varied—show the hypocrisies and limits of these racial categories. Looking at the historical experiences of this one particular group, and the present-day tensions its faces, is a means of critiquing the way “whiteness” is used to delineate who is and isn’t considered powerful and valuable in society.

When I was first looking into writing this article, I worried that the question might be stale. A number of scholars, including Emory’s Eric Goldstein, whom I interviewed; UCLA’s Karen Brodkin; and, most recently, Princeton’s Mitchell Duneier have written about the way Jews relate to whiteness, from a variety of different angles. I wondered whether this debate would seem too esoteric and niche—a conversation of interest only to a small group of Jews and scholars, but effectively irrelevant outside of those circles.

The reaction I’ve gotten has been surprising, and shows that this is clearly not the case. Certain parts of the Jewish community are having conversations along these lines; others seem stunned that this is a question at all. A lot of people seem to feel strongly that talking about Jews in terms of race—even to challenge the notion that Jews could ever fit neatly into a single racial category, which is what my article is about—is thought-provoking or, at worst, dangerous.

Rancher, Plumber, Birther, Cherokee Ending Tribal Detente


Reuters |  Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. 

Now, a group of advisors to President-elect Donald Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands, two chairmen of the coalition told Reuters in exclusive interviews. 

The group proposes to put those lands into private ownership - a politically explosive idea that could upend more than century of policy designed to preserve Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations, which are governed by tribal leaders as sovereign nations. 

The tribes have rights to use the land, but they do not own it. They can drill it and reap the profits, but only under regulations that are far more burdensome than those applied to private property. 

"We should take tribal land away from public treatment," said Markwayne Mullin, a Republican U.S. Representative from Oklahoma and a Cherokee tribe member who is co-chairing Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition. "As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country." 

Trump’s transition team did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

The plan dovetails with Trump’s larger aim of slashing regulation to boost energy production. It could deeply divide Native American leaders, who hold a range of opinions on the proper balance between development and conservation. 

The proposed path to deregulated drilling - privatizing reservations - could prove even more divisive. Many Native Americans view such efforts as a violation of tribal self-determination and culture.
"Our spiritual leaders are opposed to the privatization of our lands, which means the commoditization of the nature, water, air we hold sacred," said Tom Goldtooth, a member of both the Navajo and the Dakota tribes who runs the Indigenous Environmental Network. "Privatization has been the goal since colonization – to strip Native Nations of their sovereignty." 

Reservations governed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs are intended in part to keep Native American lands off the private real estate market, preventing sales to non-Indians. An official at the Bureau of Indian Affairs did not respond to a request for comment. 

The legal underpinnings for reservations date to treaties made between 1778 and 1871 to end wars between indigenous Indians and European settlers. Tribal governments decide how land and resources are allotted among tribe members. 

Leaders of Trump’s coalition did not provide details of how they propose to allocate ownership of the land or mineral rights - or to ensure they remained under Indian control.

This Election Marked the End of America's Racial Detente


thefederalist |  There is a misconception that political correctness was responsible for the breakdown of the racial détente. This is incorrect. Political correctness, as loose a term as it is, was the means by which we continually renegotiated the terms of the deal. After all, the primary rules for whites had exactly to do with what was acceptable to say.

Privilege theory and the concept of systemic racism dealt the death blow to the détente. In embracing these theories, minorities and progressives broke their essential rule, which was to not run around calling everyone a racist. As these theories took hold, every white person became a racist who must confess that racism and actively make amends. Yet if the white woman who teaches gender studies at Barnard with the Ben Shahn drawings in her office is a racist, what chance do the rest of have?

Within the past few years, as privilege theory took hold, many whites began to think that no matter what they did they would be called racist, because, in fact, that was happening. Previously there were rules. They shifted at times, but if adhered to they largely protected one from the charge of racism. It’s like the Morrissey lyric: “is evil just something you are, or something you do.” Under the détente, racism was something you did; under privilege theory it is something you are.

That shift, from carefully directed accusations of racism for direct actions to more general charges of unconscious racism, took away the carrot for whites. Worse, it led to a defensiveness and feeling of victimization that make today’s whites in many ways much more tribal than they were 30 years ago. White people are constantly told to examine their whiteness, not to think of themselves as racially neutral. That they did, but the result was not introspection that led to reconciliation, it was a decision that white people have just as much right to think of themselves as a special interest group as anyone else.

Blame and Destroy Whitey 
The unfortunate place where we now find ourselves is one in which blatant attacks on white people, often from white people, are driving them further into a tribal cocoon. Samantha Bee’s awful and irresponsible berating of white women as the evil force behind Trump’s victory, while condescendingly describing magical people of color as the only ones who can save us, is a clear example of where white defensiveness and victimization are coming from.

Furthermore, the ever-present drumbeat from the Left that every conservative victory is the death throes of bad, old white people who are about to be swept away by waves of brown immigration is making many whites dig in. On a certain level, how can you blame them? They are explicitly being told that their values and way of life are under the sword. How do we expect them to react?

The détente was far from perfect. It often allowed quieter racism to lurk unchallenged. In some ways, it was a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. But Band-Aids have a role to play in treating bullet wounds—the body heals itself better when the wound is clean and free from infection. This is true of discourse’s ability to heal our body politic, as well. Under the détente, there was still racism, but Steve Bannon, whose publication Breitbart has traded in vile explicit racism, could never have been considered for White House chief of staff.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Violence is the Highest Moral Imperative: Everything Else is Self-Calming Conversation....,



theatlantic |  Stigmatization and appeals to moral rightness are among the most effective ways to seize power when dispossessed of it. But also, calling out racism aids its victims in understanding the powers at play in their own lives, and is the foundation of solidarity for many people of color. There is a reason why movements like the civil-rights movement and Black Lives Matter that have had dramatic impacts on the course of American history have developed around rather vivid and unflinching call-outs of white supremacy and racism, even leveled against their own white members.

The movements and empowerment built around calling out racism are what give activists the vocabulary to disassemble it, regardless of whether they choose to use the tactics of civility in individual conversations or not. The ultimate irony of Drum’s objection to expanding definitions of white supremacy is that it took decades of open emotional appeals by black people to persuade—and perhaps stigmatize—the country into believing that segregation, disenfranchisement, and other actions of “real” racists, were in fact racist. Given the objections to incivility that Wells, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other black leaders faced generations ago, it is rather clear that incivility watered the rhetorical ground on which both sides of the debate over racism today stand.

Those concerns among communities of color seem to muddle Singal’s conclusion, focused as it is on psychological rather than sociological analysis, and on the reactions of recalcitrant white people rather than the transformative development of people of color. Maybe, in a limited sense, Singal is right: White Americans can be persuaded to join the liberal project by individual interlocutors jettisoning identity politics and abandoning moralizing about racism. But maybe incivility can be used to empower people of color, establish social penalties for racism, and change social mores and modes of mass communication, which all in the aggregate could push white society towards inclusion and away from bias. Or perhaps calling out racism just helps people of color cope with racism.

Civility is not the highest moral imperative—especially in response to perceived injustices—nor is hand-holding and guiding reluctant people to confront their bigotry gently. American history is full of fights, including the ongoing struggle for civil rights, that have been as fierce as they are ultimately effective. Civility is overrated.

Restoring Civic Virtue in America


BostonGlobe |  The direst threat American society faces today is the collapse of civic virtue. By that, I mean the honesty and trust that enables the country to function as a decent, forward-looking, optimistic nation.

The defining characteristic of the 2016 Presidential election is that neither candidate was trusted. The defining characteristic of American society today is that Americans trust neither their political institutions nor one another. We need a conscious effort to reestablish trust, by making fair play and truth-telling an explicit part of the national agenda.

There are four interrelated reasons for these downtrends: (1) the rise of the secretive and duplicitous US security state, which has left a deep divide between the public and the federal government; (2) the sharp widening of the inequality of wealth and power since the early 1980s; (3) the impunity of the rich regarding the rule of law; and (4) the precipitous decline of political parties as vehicles of political participation and their replacement by the mass media.

In order to restore democratic legitimacy, we must reverse all four.

The first precipitous decline in trust occurred from 1963 to 1973. It started with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and extended through the failed Vietnam War to the Watergate scandal. For a decade the US government lied relentlessly to the public, and the public gradually came to see that official explanations hid darker truths. The machinations of the CIA in toppling governments and withholding evidence from the Warren Commission investigation of the Kennedy assassination, combined with relentless government lying about Vietnam, created a gulf between Washington and the people that has never closed. In more recent years, the perpetual shadowy wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, have further deepened the public’s doubts and distrust.

On top of that came the takeover of politics by the super-rich. This got underway in earnest in the 1980s, when the Reagan Administration and Congress slashed top marginal tax rates and “greed is good” became the Wall Street mantra. Since then, the inequality of income has soared to unprecedented levels. The rich have used their power assiduously to protect their growing wealth. Their tactics have included tax loopholes of countless varieties to hold their growing wealth offshore and free of taxes; privatization of public functions (schools, prisons, military operations) as sources of new profitability; monopoly power in the health care sector (the largest single sector of the economy); union busting; and encouragement of offshoring of jobs and inflows of migrant workers to keep wages low.

The public routinely asserts that the politicians do not care “about people like me” — and they are right. Top political scientists have carefully documented that only the attitudes of the richest Americans determine the policy outcomes of the political process.

The soaring inequality of wealth and income has also created an age of impunity, in which the rich and powerful escape from legal and even moral responsibility by virtue of their great wealth. We have seen everywhere the deterioration of basic moral standards among the elites of the society. The Clintons and Trumps epitomized the process, both using the political system to maximize their personal wealth while skirting all manner of ethical and civic responsibility.


A Truth About "Post-Truth"?


stratfor |  In the stream of post-election postmortems on journalism's performance, "post-truth" is the handiest of explanations in a campaign season that took fibs and fabrication to a new level. The Oxford English Dictionary has declared "post-truth" its International Word of the Year. A Google search on the term yields some 240 million results. Layer what the candidates said against the "fake news" manufactured on Facebook and elsewhere and, for some, this is all but a civilizational threat.

But the term is actually older than we think. It was coined back in 2004 by the author Ralph Keyes. It took a while, but now it has transformed into a new meme alive in the media ecosystem. It is an illustrative case study of how memes emerge and dominate discourse, refracting perceptions of political reality.

But first, a bit of background. The term "meme," devised in 1976 by sociologist Richard Dawkins from the Greek "mimema," or "something imitated," was originally used to describe patterns of belief that spread vertically through cultural inheritance (from parents, for example) or horizontally through cultural acquisition (as in film or media). Dawkins' point was that memes act much like genes, carrying attributes of beliefs and values between individuals and across generations. It is even a field of academic study known as "memetics."

The Best of Intentions

Today the term meme is more popularly applied to videos, a bit of text, a viral tweet, becoming a fixture, a short-lived canon if you will, in social media-driven consciousness. "Post truth" is just one in a long line of them.

Which is not to be dismissive of the underlying issue of partisans planting fabrications into the echo chamber of partisan news media. I share the alarm at the speed with which misleading charges or downright falsehoods can spread through the Twittersphere. And it's not just an evil embedded in presidential campaigns. The new media age has many dark sides. I worry about "covert influence" that state intelligence agencies — and not just Russia's — can and do spread. Social media as a tool of terrorist recruitment is a real threat. While writing this column, I chanced across the news that Facebook (inadvertently I'm sure) enabled a far-right group in Germany to publish the names and addresses of prominent Jews, Jewish-owned businesses and Jewish institutions on a map of Berlin to mark the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Why is the NYTimes Publishing Fake News About Italy?


Voting to keep things the way they are now is not "smashing the traditional political structure" or in any way "anti-establishment". Rather, the opposite. "NO" was the vote for political stability, and "YES" the vote for political instability. Hence the NYT article is complete BS. It's true Italian banks may fall into crisis, but it has nothing to do with this vote that I can tell. A "yes" vote would not have helped banking in any way that I can see.

All the news in English that I see about it falls into the "horse-race" category, with nothing of substance about the actual terms of the proposed legislation. See this Guardian piece for an example of content-free reporting.

One site admits: "The vote is not about any financial or economic issue, but its timing and its potential implication for political stability are such that a negative outcome could trigger some financial instability."

So, while the vote has nothing to do with finance, all media sites seem to be SAYING it "could trigger financial instability", and by saying so they contribute to it becoming a *faît accompli"

It also has nothing to do with "populism". 

NYTimes |  In a strategic blunder that echoed David Cameron’s call for a “Brexit” referendum, Mr. Renzi had tied his government’s tenure to Sunday’s vote when he was flying high in the polls.

But his support eroded, and world leaders anxiously watched the vote in Italy, the fourth-largest economy in Europe, as a referendum on Mr. Renzi’s centrist government and as a barometer of the strength of anti-establishment winds blowing across both sides of the Atlantic.

Financial analysts have warned that instability caused by Mr. Renzi’s premature departure could result in a renewed and possibly contagious financial crisis in Italy, where banks are saddled with bad loans, and where desperately needed investors are turned off by the return of Italian instability.

Some world leaders, seeing in Mr. Renzi a critical defense against populism’s rising tide, had urged him to stay. President Obama, speaking at the White House during Mr. Renzi’s visit in October, said he hoped Mr. Renzi would “hang around for a while no matter what.”

The incoming administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump was less eager to see him remain. Members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle have closely watched, and rooted for, the surging populism in Europe.

What was clear, said Stefano Stefanini, who served as a diplomatic adviser to Giorgio Napolitano, a former Italian president, was that the vote was “a test of strength of the anti-Europe and anti-establishment forces in Italy.”

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Dutertism: Interesting Times if Trump Elevates Sharif Clarke


milwaukeemag |  As a young boy, Clarke lived with his family in Berryland, a housing project on the far North Side. When he was 12, his parents bought their first home, a compact house blocks from Berryland at 39th and Kaul Avenue. The neighborhood was made up of similarly compact houses clad in white aluminum siding and wide aluminum awnings.

Clarke went to St. Albert’s Catholic school. He was an avid reader and sports fan. He idolized his uncle, Frank Clarke, a pro football star with the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys, and kept a scrapbook of his career. Frank Clarke was the first Cowboy receiver to score 1,000 yards; he played in the 1996 NFL Championship as a Cowboy, losing to Vince Lombardi’s Packers. Another uncle, Edwin Clarke, was a reporter for The Milwaukee Journal who went on to work as a public relations specialist for Schlitz, Manpower and United Way and hosted black public affairs programs on local television.

But without a doubt, David Clarke’s biggest influence was his father. The senior Clarke bought used cars instead of new and skimped on home luxuries and family vacations so he could send his five kids to Catholic schools.

“My dad was very unselfish,” says the sheriff. “Our vacation was piling into the car and visiting my grandmother in Beloit. We were never wealthy… but we had a decent home life.”
The young Clarke’s world was small and sheltered. He walked to and from school and came home every day for lunch. He was taught not to walk across the neighbor’s lawn and wasn’t allowed to roam. An empty field a few blocks from his home served as the neighborhood park and formed his boundary line.

“I didn’t know how big the city was because I rarely left the neighborhood,” he says. “We weren’t running the streets – my father didn’t go for that and he didn’t go for hangin’ out.” Going to the nearby train trestle or corner drugstore with his buddies was frowned upon, and he was expected home when the streetlights went on. If he was late, his father would drive through the streets to fetch him. To keep him under his watch, his father would hide his son’s shoes so he couldn’t sneak out.

“We had to keep him close,” says the senior Clarke. “We had to keep an eye on him. We kind of kept him in a circle.” The Clarkes were one of just two African-American families in the neighborhood. Nearly all of the boy’s friends were white. Once in awhile, he found himself on the hurtful end of a racial epithet.

“Heck yeah, I got called ‘Little Black Sambo,’ I got called ‘nigger,’ ” he says. “But it was the sticks-and-stones thing. People are cruel. I didn’t dwell on it.” He learned to shrug it off.

“I told him just to ignore that stuff, walk away from it,” says his father. Clarke Sr. himself had grown up in a white neighborhood in Beloit. He learned to disregard the racial slurs, shook them off “like water off the back.”

If his father was authoritarian, his mother was nurturing. Raised on the North Side of Milwaukee, Jeri Clarke was a stay-at-home mom until her children were in school, then worked as a secretary for Milwaukee Public Schools. She, too, downplays any prejudice directed against her son. Students who used foul language, she says, were dealt with swiftly by the priests and nuns at St. Albert’s.

The Moon and the Ghetto



unz |  An enormous but seldom acknowledged paradox exists in American race relations. On the one hand, white America has gone to extraordinary lengths to help blacks: billions spent on anti-poverty programs and education; enacting countless anti-discrimination laws; interpreting laws and legal doctrines to give African Americans every possible advantage, obsessing over diversity and if these measures were insufficient, there’s the self-flagellation of whites confessing to bigotry, white privilege and, most recently, micro-aggressions. And let’s not forget the plague of Political Correctness—speech codes, covering up black-on-white crime, taboos topics galore—and similar measures designed to insulate blacks from hate.

Nevertheless, the vitriol that blacks direct toward whites seems only to grow stronger. This animus, moreover, emanates from all segments of black society, from the most advantaged Ivy League students to poorly educated, inarticulate rioters. Think Ta-Nehisi Coats, Cornell West and similar “intellectuals” who earn handsome livelihoods excoriating whites. This message is remarkably uniform: America is a repressive, racist society that continuously kills innocent blacks and refuses to let up despite superficial gestures to the contrary. How else can you explain the demands for “safe spaces”? A visiting Martian would surmise that contemporary American blacks live under a government far worse than what existed in apartheid South Africa.

Tellingly, no amount of effort by whites to convince blacks of their good fortune and amazing progress, e.g., a black President, a black Attorney General etc. etc. cools the anger. One can only be reminded of British Prime Minister William Gladstonesitting in his Club reading The Times and being informed that a man was going about London telling the most awful lies about him. “I don’t understand it,” he said, “I never once did the man a favor.”

As per Gladstone’s quip, let me try to explain this paradox. It is “The Moon and the Ghetto” phenomenon and while it drew some attention in the late 1960s and early 70s, it is worth reviving. Its gist is a question: how can a society capable of astonishing technical accomplishment fail to achieve far simpler and less costly tasks? The contradiction applies broadly but put in terms of American race relations, the question is why a government can send a man to the moon but is unable to teach every black youngster in Detroit’s public schools to read? After all, moon shots required genuine rocket scientists and the investment of billions, while past successful efforts at imparting literacy only needed school teachers working for a pittance.

The “Moon and Ghetto” explanation rests on three implicit assumptions. First and foremost, all the problems that bedevil blacks are caused by whites and given white domination of American society, whites are responsible for curing these tribulations. Only whites can figure out how to educate black children, uplift blacks from poverty or any other item on the black agenda. Like some god, whites are all-powerful and doubters need only observe awe-inspiring white accomplishments.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The ProporNot WaPo LITERALLY Quadruples Down Calling Trump a Liar

WaPo |  Welcome to — brace yourself for — the post-truth presidency.

“Facts are stubborn things,” said John Adams in 1770, defending British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre, “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Or so we thought, until we elected to the presidency a man consistently heedless of truth and impervious to fact-checking.

WaPo |  It should be obvious that without the so-called mainstream media, especially newspapers such as the New York Times and The Post, no one would know anything that has any basis in objective fact — and yes there is such a thing. We will rue the day we forgot that newsgathering is a profession with demanding standards regarding performance and ethics. Notwithstanding the billion-member global newsroom, it’s nice to have smart, well-educated, experienced reporters and editors to pluck the pearls from the muck.

Therefore, the highest service the president of the United States could perform would be to actively engage the media in the national interest of nurturing an informed populace, without which a 8democratic Republic cannot long survive.

WaPo |  You may think you are prepared for a post-truth world, in which political appeals to emotion count for more than statements of verifiable fact.

But now it’s time to cross another bridge — into a world without facts. Or, more precisely, where facts do not matter a whit.

WaPo |  “I think that’s out of Trump’s hands. He should leave it to the Justice Department, and she should be prosecuted.”

His wife agreed, adding: “It was a debate. . . . He doesn’t always think. He’s not a politician. He just says it.”

Still, at Trump’s first mention of Clinton during the rally that night, the whole arena began chanting: “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

Trump stood by and smiled.

Sitting one section over from the Meyers was another couple in their 70s who were convinced that Trump’s change in tone on Clinton is just a strategic act.

Friday, December 02, 2016

The Saker's Assessment Trumps Engdahl's



thesaker |  Let me begin by immediately say that I have the utmost respect for F. William Engdahl and that I consider him a person far more knowledgeable of US politics than myself.  Furthermore, I want to also make it clear that I am not going to refute a single argument Engdahl makes in support of his thesis simply because I believe that his arguments are fact-based and logical.  I strongly urge everybody to read Engdahl’s article “The Dangerous Deception Called The Trump Presidency” in the New Eastern Outlook and carefully consider each of his arguments.  Of course, Engdahl only offers indirect, circumstantial, evidence and only time will really show whether he is right or wrong.  What I propose to do today is to consider the other possibility, that in spite of all the evidence presented by Engdahl, Trump might not be a fraud and a showman.  You will see that this conclusion is not necessarily more optimistic than Engdahl’s.

My main argument is much more primitive than Engdahl’s and even more circumstantial: I see clear signs of a *real* struggle taking place inside the US elites and if, indeed, such a struggle is taking place, then I conclude that Trump is not a showman who has been “selected” (to use Engdahl’s words) by the US elites but that quite to the contrary, his election is a nightmare for these elites.
My subsidiary argument is that even if Engdahl is right and if Trump is a showman, the ploy of the US elites to save the Empire and prepare for war will fail.

Barack Hussein Obama: International Man of Misery...,


Guardian |  Through the US Export-Import Bank, Barack Obama’s administration has spent nearly $34bn supporting 70 fossil fuel projects around the world, work by Columbia Journalism School’s Energy and Environment Reporting Project and the Guardian has revealed.

This unprecedented backing of oil, coal and gas projects is an unexpected footnote to Obama’s own climate change legacy. The president has called global warming “terrifying” and helped broker the world’s first proper agreement to tackle it, yet his administration has poured money into developments that will push the planet even closer to climate disaster.
For people living next to US-funded mines and power stations the impacts are even more starkly immediate.
Guardian and Columbia reporters have spent time at American-backed projects in India, South Africa and Australia to document the sickness, upheavals and environmental harm that come with huge dirty fuel developments.
In India, we heard complaints about coal ash blowing into villages, contaminated water and respiratory and stomach problems, all linked to a project that has had more than $650m in backing from the Obama administration.
In South Africa, another huge project is set to exacerbate existing air pollution problems, deforestation and water shortages. And in Australia, an enormous US-backed gas development is linked to a glut of fracking activity that has divided communities and brought a new wave of industrialization next to the cherished Great Barrier Reef.
While Obama can claim the US is the world’s leader on climate change – at least until Donald Trump enters the White House – it is also clear that it has become a major funder of fossil fuels that are having a serious impact upon people’s lives. This is the unexpected story of how Obama’s legacy is playing out overseas.

Poor People Pay More for Essential Goods and Services



phys.org | In the UK, the poverty premium—the idea that poorer people pay more for essential goods and services—is an important and relevant social policy concern for low-income families.

A timely new study from the Personal Finance Research Centre (PFRC) at the University of Bristol revisits and advances earlier research conducted in 2010 by Save the Children.

The 2016 study reflects markets and household behaviour as it exists today, and, for the first time, explores how manylow-income households are actually affected by the poverty premium, and by how much.

The new research reveals:
  • The average cost of the poverty premium is £490 per household each year. This is lower than the previous estimate of around £1,300 per year and this difference largely derives from the way that the average premium for each of the eight poverty premium components takes into account the proportion of households incurring it.


  • Not all low-income households experience all components of the premium. The research identifies seven distinct groups (or clusters) representing the most dominant combinations of poverty premiums experienced by low-income households. This exposure ranges from experiencing an average of only three types of premiums, to an average of eight. Based on these combinations of exposure, the cost incurred ranged from an average of £350 among the 'premium minimisers' to £750 among the more 'highly exposed'.


  • The largest share of the average premium incurred by low-income households related directly to low-income households that had not switched household fuel tariff. This was compounded by other smaller premiums associated with households' fuel payment methods. And even a household that had switched to the best prepayment meter tariff could still expect to incur an estimated premium of £227 compared to the best deals available to those who pay by monthly direct debit.


  • The new research suggests that there is still scope for the poverty premium to be reduced, and there is clearly role for providers, government and regulators to help address it. Central to the solution may be striking a better balance between cost-reflective pricing and cross-subsidy (where cross-subsidy is possible) and roles for greater partnerships and involvement of trusted intermediaries. The clearest priorities for action relate to insurance, higher-cost credit, and fuel.

Sara Davies, Research Fellow at PFRC, said: "This study provides an important and timely update to previous research.

"While the average poverty premium we have calculated is lower than the previous estimate, it is important to bear in mind that averages mask significant variation in the lived experience of the poverty premium. For example, one highly exposed family is estimated to incur a premium of over £1,600 each year, considerably more than the average premium of £750 for their cluster."

Yvette Hartfree, Research Fellow at PFRC, added: "It is also important to remember that the poverty premium only reflects the additional costs low-income households pay compared to higher-income households. It doesn't take into account the extent to which low-income households avoid paying poverty premiums simply because they can't afford to and instead go without."

Still Not Differentiating Between What Offends and What Affects


WaPo |  The raw, lingering emotion of the 2016 presidential campaign erupted into a shouting match here Thursday as top strategists of Hillary Clinton’s campaign accused their Republican counterparts of fueling and legitimizing racism to elect Donald Trump. 

The extraordinary exchange came at a postmortem session sponsored by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where top operatives from both campaigns sat across a conference table from each other.

As Trump’s team basked in the glow of its victory and singled out for praise its campaign’s chief executive, Stephen K. Bannon, who was absent, the row of grim-faced Clinton aides who sat opposite them bristled.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri condemned Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart, a news site popular with the alt-right, a small movement known for espousing racist views.
“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”

“You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri, who choked up at various points of the session.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” Conway asked. “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”