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When America Interfered in a Russian Election March 22, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, History, Russia, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: those of us who love irony will appreciate the fact that the Russian regime that is accused of influencing the 2016 U.S. election is the direct heir of the Yeltsin government which in turn came to power largely as a result of Clinton administration interference.  What goes around …

Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness on Russia, backed by much of her party, the Republicans and the lap dog corporate media, was cause for great concern to some of during the election campaign and created the illusion that a Trump presidency might in fact be less likely to bring on World War III.  This remains to be seen.  It is of no comfort that the Democrats and the media continue to demonize Russia (which is not to say that Putin is any thing less than an oligarch who rules with an iron fist in his homeland).

Ever since the fall of the former Soviet Union, I have been fascinated by process of the transition of the so-called socialist Russia (it was functionally not socialist, rather state capitalist) to free market capitalism.  The monumental change in the world’s second largest country did not happen “automatically” or in a single moment.  Since all major production was owned by the State, ending this monopoly meant that all billions upon billions of capital had to go somewhere.  

In an article I wrote a few years ago (https://www.opednews.com/populum/page.php?f=Putin-it-to-Putin-the-Ru-by-roger-hollander-Capital_Capitalism_Capitalism-Failures_Class-140503-466.html) I posited the notion that the destruction of Soviet State Capitalism provided the opportunity to democratize production and thereby create the kind of genuine socialism envisioned by Karl Marx.  We know, of course, that this didn’t happen, that, rather all Russian enterprise was stolen by former Soviety high level bureaucrats (Putin himself was head of  the Soviet KGB at the time); and Russia lost most of its social programs as it sank into a pure capitalist swamp.

 

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The U.S. is the unchallenged champion of hijacking, fixing and subverting elections around the world. On every inhabitable continent – from Italy to Iran to Accra to Tegucigalpa — Washington has stolen people’s rights to elected leaders of their choice. Only two decades ago, Bill Clinton and his operatives were busy stealing Russia’s first post-Soviet elections. But, U.S. corporate media seem to have forgotten such inconvenient facts.

All of the news is fake when corporate media connive with the powerful to produce their desired ends.”

There is still no evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election. What substitutes for proof is nothing but an endless loop of corporate media repetition. The Democratic Party has plenty of reason to whip up hysteria in an effort to divert attention from its endless electoral debacles.

What no one mentions is that the United States government has a very long history of interfering in elections around the world. Since World War II American presidents have used electoral dirty tricks, fraud and violence to upend the will of people in Italy, Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam and Honduras to name but a few nations. If possible brute force and murder are used to depose elected leaders as in Haiti and Chile.

Amid all the hoopla about Russia’s supposed influence in the election or with Donald Trump directly, there is little mention of a successful American effort to intervene in that country. In 1996 American political consultants and the Bill Clinton administration made certain that Boris Yeltsin remained in the Russian presidency.

There is no need for conjecture in this case. The story was discussed quite openly at the time and included a Time magazine cover story with the guilty parties going on record about their role in subverting democracy.

“In 1996 American political consultants and the Bill Clinton administration made certain that Boris Yeltsin remained in the Russian presidency.”

Polls showed that Yeltsin was in danger of losing to the Communist Party candidate Gennadi Zhuganov. The collapse of the Soviet Union had created an economic and political catastrophe for the Russian people. Oligarchs openly stole public funds while government workers went without pay. Russians lost the safety net they had enjoyed and the disaster resulted in a precipitous decline in life expectancy and birth rates.

The United States didn’t care about the suffering of ordinary Russians. Its only concern was making sure that the once socialist country never turned in that direction again. When Yeltsin looked like a loser the Clinton administration pressed the International Monetary Fund to send quick cash and bolster Yeltsin’s government with a $10 billion loan.

Clinton had an even more direct involvement. Led by a team connected to his adviser Dick Morris, a group of political consultants went to work in Moscow, but kept their existence a secret. One of the conspirators put the case succinctly. “Everyone realized that if the Communists knew about this before the election, they would attack Yeltsin as an American tool.” Of course Yeltsin was an American tool, and that was precisely the desired outcome.

The Time magazine article wasn’t the only corporate media expose of the American power grab. The story was also made into a film called “Spinning Boris.” One would think that this well known and documented account would be brought to attention now, but just the opposite has happened. The tale of Clinton administration conniving has instead been disappeared down the memory hole as if it never took place.

When Yeltsin looked like a loser the Clinton administration pressed the International Monetary Fund to send quick cash and bolster Yeltsin’s government with a $10 billion loan.”

The supposedly free media in this country march in lock step with presidents. After Obama and his secretary of state Hillary Clinton made Russia bashing a national pastime the media followed suit. The reason for the hostility is very simple. Russia is an enormous country spanning Europe and Asia and has huge amounts of energy resources which European countries depend on. Its gas and oil reserves make it a player and therefore a target for sanctions and war by other means.

The American impulse to control or crush the rest of the world is thwarted by an independent Russia. While Americans are fed an endless diet of xenophobia Russia and China continue their New Silk Road economic partnership. Of course this alliance is born of the necessity to protect against American threats but no one reading the New York Times or Washington Post knows anything about it. Nor do they know that Vladimir Putin’s mentor stayed in power because of Bill Clinton’s meddling.

All of the news is fake when corporate media connive with the powerful to produce their desired ends. If they want to make Yeltsin a hero, they make him a hero. If they want his successor to be cast as the villain then he becomes the villain. If the United States wants to play the victim it is turned into the hapless target of Russian espionage. If its history of thwarting the sovereignty of other countries becomes an inconvenient truth, then the truth is disappeared.

It is difficult to know what is true and what is not. But it usually a safe bet to assume that this government and its media hand maidens are covering up criminality of various kinds. The story of the 1996 manipulation of Russian voters is but one example.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

Images 8 March 17, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Health, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: some miscellaneous images.

 

My money’s on Mona.  The further away you are when looking at this, the more interesting it gets.

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Early NRA???

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Sorry for the blurry image, but it is to remind us that almost every industrial nation has had universal health care, in some cases for half a century.  The U.S. to its shame lags behind; and while the fight is on against Trump’s killer amendment to Obamacare, let’s not forget that Obama, by adopting the Romney Republican plan, set back for decades the goal for single payer universal coverage.  What he did was to etch in stone the monopoly over health care to the voracious private health insurance industry.  He didn’t even put universal health on the table when developing the legislation, which is nothing more than an enormous gift to the private insurers.

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Here I am at my spiritual political home, the campus of U.C. Berkeley.  I cut my radical teeth here, and I hope that they haven’t lost their bite.  This picture was taken last year in front of Sather Gate.  As an undergraduate on the Student Council, I established the Hyde Park Free Speech area, which served as an embryo for the Free Speech Movement two years hence.

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(Canadian) CSIS’s alternative facts universe March 16, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Right Wing, Surveillance, Uncategorized, War on Terror.
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Roger’s note: people round the world, including many Canadians, like to think that there is a substantial difference between Canada and the United States when it comes to things like the military and national security.  Of course, the U.S. is the imperial giant and Canada a minor but important satellite.  Nonetheless, Canada has just emerged from the ten year reign of Stephen Harper’s ultra-right government, one that could teach the likes of Paul Ryan and Donald Trump a thing or two.  The current Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, presents a kinder gentler image, but behind the haircut and bedroom eyes lies a man who rules with limits set basically by the military, the security apparatus and the corporate world.  U.S. lite, if you will.  Trudeau is already playing footsie with Trump, inviting the entrepreneurial daughter to sit with him at a Broadway show, for instance.  Don’t expect any substantial challenge to the U.S. imperial and economic adventures coming from the neighbour to the North.

Spy agency’s first public report in two years on the threat posed by terrorism in Canada has a slippery relationship with reality

BY MATTHEW BEHRENS
MARCH 15, 2017

Images 6 March 16, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: here are some images that document the upside-down world we live in.

I vote for a War on Chocolate.  Sorry, it’s my addiction.

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This child has just been inoculated against Fox News.  Bravo for Mom.

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The Europeans came, and they wiped out entire nations.  Some call this Genocide.  Others call it Manifest Destiny, a notion that is alive and well today, and with a global reach.

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And, speaking of globalized Manifest Destiny, no nation has more blood on its hands than the United States of America.  But, of course, it is Iran that we must fear.

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The American Gulag: the highest prison population and incarceration rate (724 per 100,000) in the world.  Costs over $70 Billion per year.  More jails than colleges.  Half the federal prisons filled with non-violent drug offenders.  Private prisons, slave labor, solitary confinement, capital punishment.  Shame.

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Momentum Builds for Reforming El Salvador’s Abortion Ban March 14, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in El Salvador, Health, Hillary Clinton, Latin America, Uncategorized, Women.
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Roger’s note: El Salvador has what may be the most repressive abortion laws in the Western world.  There are cases of young women jailed for years because of a miscarriage.  It is barbaric.  And no one is more responsible for such barbarism than the Catholic Church.  When I read that abortion is a sin, that there are campaigns to totally eradicate abortion in the struggle for good over evil, it takes me back to the Dark Ages.  Such attitudes and laws reflect inhuman religious ideology in the service of patriarchy. It has been said jokingly, but I believe it literally, if men could have babies then abortion would be a sacrament.

The movement to decriminalize abortion in El Salvador described in the article below, if successful, would only eliminate the most Draconian elements of the anti-abortion legislation (abortion in the case of rape, for example); but there still would be a long way to go to reach the ideal of abortion being solely a matter between a woman and her physician.

Mar 10, 2017, Kathy Bougher, rewire news

“Is it the will of a compassionate God to mandate that young girls who have been raped carry to term resulting pregnancies?” asked theologian María Lopez Vigil at a talk organized by advocates. 

In 1997, the legislature in El Salvador was considering a vote to criminalize abortion under all circumstances. Morena Herrera, a feminist activist, “was facing the legislature, alone, trying to defend and justify why they should not change the law,” recalled Mariana Moisa, communications director at the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto.

“They were transmitting live, and they shut off her microphone,” Moisa recalled.

The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly went on to ban abortion in all circumstances. In addition to making abortion illegal no matter what, this unjust law has been misapplied in cases of obstetric emergencies or miscarriages—leading to the imprisonment of dozens of women in the country because of pregnancy complications.

Now, however, the legislature is considering a bill from Vice President of the Legislative Assembly Lorena Peña that would decriminalize abortion in cases of rape or human trafficking, fetal non-viability, or to preserve the pregnant person’s health or life. It would also legalize abortion when the pregnancy results from rape or statutory rape of a minor, with the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian. Although it would not necessarily shield women from prosecution when the law is misapplied, it effectively returns the law to its pre-1997 state.

On February 27, the legislature’s Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Points, where the bill is being heard, convened a first-ever public hearing on abortion in response to the unexpected number of requests they received to present testimony. Twelve out of the seventeen organizations and individuals who testified spoke in support of decriminalization, including nationally and internationally recognized professionals in public health and law, representatives from two progressive Protestant churches, and a variety of activists.

Marcela Zamora, a well-known Salvadoran filmmaker, shared her recently published essay, “I Aborted,” a rare public statement in El Salvador. She recounted how more than ten years earlier, while living in a country that allowed abortion, she experienced a pregnancy with complications that threatened her life. Although she was able to obtain an abortion, she questioned what would have happened to her if she had been in El Salvador at that time.

Moisa said she was struck by the contrast with the tenor of the hearing in 1997. “This time, in 2017, they invited us to the legislature, and our voices were heard. They made clear that the discussion would be based on scientific and legal information. Morena was there again, [this time] with a whole panorama of diverse voices who stood up alongside her to express their support for a possible reform,” she remembered.

This change didn’t come out of nowhere. Activists on the ground have been working for two decades to engage allies and elected officials on this issue—and in the last few months, that momentum has ramped up on a number of fronts.

Abortion as a Health Issue

Those speaking out in favor of the bill are, for the most part, concentrating on the exceptions to the ban it enshrines into law.

At a January forum organized by the Alliance for the Life and Health of Women—a coalition in which the Agrupación is a key player—members of the medical profession provided the medical and scientific justifications for the proposed change to the law.

Gynecologist Guillermo Ortiz, currently a senior adviser for Ipas and formerly chief of obstetrics at the Women’s Hospital in El Salvador, said that physicians who support the proposal for reform “are in favor of saving lives. But there are conditions that make [abortion] necessary, and we are talking about those situations so that exceptions can exist within the law.”

As part of that convening of medical experts, seven nationally and internationally recognized OB-GYNs signed off on a memo to the Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Points. The memo, viewed by Rewire, says the society must “generate legal instruments that guarantee protection for [patients’] lives,” in at least the four cases defined in the proposed reform.

The memo cited the Ethics Committee of the International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians: “There exists a broad consensus … that abortion is ethically justifiable when it is carried out for medical reasons to protect the life and health” of the pregnant person.

“It is fundamental to remember that the global experience shows that the frequency of abortion does not depend on legislation and that the rates of abortion do not increase with more liberal legislation,” the memo continued. “To the contrary, they can diminish, if at the same time other measures are adopted,” such as information and free access to highly effective contraception.

As part of its scrutiny of the proposal, the legislature had requested an opinion from the El Salvador Health Ministry.

In a February 21 symposium on health and bioethics organized by the ministry, El Salvador Minister of Health Dr. Violeta Menjivar responded, “As the Ministry of Health, we consider it appropriate that the legislature and society together participate in a reflection and deliberation on the harm the absolute prohibition on abortion causes to the health of Salvadoran women.”

She supported the move to reform the law, noting that the United Nations had made a request in January 2015 that El Salvador repeal its broad criminalization of abortion under all circumstances.

At the February 27 hearing, Sofia Villalta, a nationally recognized gynecologist with more than 40 years of professional experience, testified on the causes of unwanted pregnancies and emphasized the underlying role of the “subordination of women to masculine power.” She cited a study within the Salvadoran society of gynecologists which showed that 80 percent of them want to return to the prior legislation allowing abortion.

The Consequences of Criminalization

At the February 21 forum organized by the Ministry of Health, Dr. Virginia Rodriguez of the National Committee on Bioethics in El Salvador posed the question, “If a woman has rights from conception, at what point does she lose her rights? When do the rights of the fetus in development take priority over her rights to life?”

Rodriguez was referencing a February 15 decision from the El Salvador Supreme Court, when it ruled on a 2007 case involving conflicting laws over when life begins and when the State must protect that life.

Although the Court agreed that the the El Salvador Constitution declares life as beginning at “conception,” it said “it is necessary to weigh each case.” It also stated that the idea of fetal rights does not “claim a duty of absolute and unconditional protection of life in gestation.”

Alberto Romero of the Agrupación Ciudadana and the Movement for Secular Culture wrote in a booklet published by the Salvadoran Foundation for the Study of the Application of Law, FESPAD, that the Court’s decision “permits a resolution of the vacuum that exists in the current legislation, which does not establish legal mechanisms to resolve the collision of rights that takes place between the [fetus] and the woman who is pregnant.”

On the day of the hearing, the nine-member National Committee on Bioethics in El Salvador—which also includes Morena Herrera and Margarita Rivas of the Agrupación—published a paid ad in La Prensa Gráfica, noting the ways in which existing law infringes on the rights of pregnant people and women in general.

The ad stated that the existing law promotes gender discrimination against women; prevents women with high-risk pregnancies or obstetric complications from accessing medical treatment in accordance with existing scientific knowledge; and has provoked cases of discrimination against women within the justice system based on economic conditions, effectively criminalizing poverty.

The law has also, the committee said, generated legal conflicts whereby physicians’ responsibilities to protect doctor-patient confidentiality conflict with their mandates under the anti-abortion laws. Overall, the ad said, the broad criminalization of abortion violates the rights of pregnant people by treating their constitutional rights as equal to or subordinate to those of the fetus.

Responding to Questions of Faith

The Alliance for the Life and Health of Women also organized a series of events from February 17 through 21 to address the realities and contradictions around religion in El Salvador.

“The Alliance knew it was important to address religious concerns in a society as deeply religious as El Salvador, where almost 99 percent of the population professes a belief in God and about 91 percent belong to a religion,” said Romero, who researches secularism and social issues in El Salvador.

“For many people, both legislators and citizens in general, it’s difficult to reconcile [many religions’] mandate against abortion with the rational arguments for permitting it. It’s important to present a variety of interpretations that do not condemn and criminalize abortion,” he said.

Advocates noted that different religions take varied stances on abortion. “The Anglican Church here in El Salvador talks about abortion not being a theological issue, but a pastoral one of accompaniment of women,” said Alejandra Burgos, a member of the Agrupación and a progressive feminist theologian.

Indeed, during the February 27 hearing, Martin Barahona of the Anglican Church in El Salvador explained that “in this case the Anglican bishops consider that the only people who have the right to decide are the women who are pregnant.”

“Even Pope Francis, who maintains that abortion is a sin, mandates priests to have compassion and accompany women,” Burgos pointed out.

“It’s necessary in this society to provide alternatives to people who are living with these contradictions; to show that a religious believer can also support the right [to] interrupt a pregnancy,” she concluded.

In one talk, María Lopez Vigil, a Cuban-Nicaraguan theologian, author, and editor of the progressive Nicaraguan magazine Envio, proposed looking at abortion in a broader perspective, considering the realities of the country.

“Consider the commandment ‘do not kill’ with situational ethics. There is nothing more abortive than poverty,” she said.

In arguing for a compassionate, merciful view of God, she asked the audience of more than 300—many of whom had not attended Alliance events in the past—if it was “the will of a compassionate God that women suffer and die for ‘not having enough faith’ when they experience obstetric emergencies? Is it the will of a compassionate God to mandate that young girls who have been raped carry to term resulting pregnancies?”

She challenged structural injustices and spoke of “abortive societies,” in which countries obligate pregnant girls and adolescents to give birth, but after the birth do nothing to help them support and raise their children. That, she said, is a “structural sin.”

What’s Next?

Responses to the campaign for decriminalization are diverse.

After the various hearings and forums, Legislative Representative Juan Valiente of the right-wing ARENA party spoke on a TV talk show supporting debate on the reform, going against his party’s stance.

In addition, he tweeted, “I’m against abortion, but I recognize that there is a collision of rights and it’s important to investigate and debate. I’m not afraid.” And to another constituent opposed to decriminalization, he posted, “I prefer to lose your vote than my conscience.”

Even with these sea changes in some public opinions and attitudes, there is still strong religious opposition.

A group of Catholic churches initiated “40 days of prayer” leading up to Easter Sunday with the goal of “ending abortion in the world and in the country” in a war “between good and bad.” Regarding the Ministry of Health position, prayer campaign leader Karla de Lacayo told La Prensa Gráfica, “it’s a lie” that women’s lives are at risk.

“With [medical] advances now, there is no way the woman is going to die. And, if it’s true, if the child dies in the process, then that’s what God wanted,” de Lacayo said.

In the legislature itself, there remains the fact that supporters of the reform must form coalitions in order to get the majority vote necessary to first pass the measure out of committee, and then win a majority of votes in the full body. Neither the right-wing ARENA party nor the left-leaning FMLN has a numerical majority in the committee or the full legislature.

Supporters hope for a positive resolution in the next few weeks, before the next election cycle gets underway. At that point, they say, chances of any substantive vote on any matter disappear.

As Sara Garcia, coordinator for the Agrupación, told Rewire, “This is a historic moment. International organizations such as the UN are speaking out. More and more social movements are making pronouncements. Professional medical organizations and the universities declare their support.”

“The government can’t keep ignoring the realities of women in this country,” she said.

Images (5) March 9, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Capitalism, Drugs, First Nations, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: here are some miscellaneous images taken from the Internet.

One would think that this trick is too obvious to fool anyone.  However, it has been used more than once by governments to create an illusion of safety.  I saw this when I was on the Council fighting against a new garbage burning incinerator.  Instead of reducing emissions, simply change the safe level standard.  Voila!

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Don’t get me started on capitalism.  OK.  Get me started.  In a capitalist economy, where capital rules with an iron fist over living labor, decisions about economic growth are made by PRIVATE enterprise, where profit is the only consideration.  Contrast this with such decisions made socially for the benefit of society as a whole.  Capitalism as cancer is the most apt analogy I can think of.  That is why we are in danger of planetary death either by environmental catastrophe or nuclear holocaust.  Given the choice, no society would consciously choose annihilation.  That is why the very survival of the universe as we know it demands the defeat of world capitalism.

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I remember the sermon given at my daughter’s wedding,  where the minister said the secret to a successful marriage lies in three words: forgive, forgive, forgive.

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The major opponents of the decriminalization of marijuana in the US are the Chambers of Commerce, Police Departments and private prisons.  Bad for business.

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Dare to dream!

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Leading Black Democrats Love School Privatization Too March 8, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Education, Race, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: public education is not only the backbone of democracy but also to some degree a social equalizer, one of the few mitagators of social and economic inequality in our class society.  To my mind the politicians of both parties who are selling out this legacy are doing no less than committing a kind of treason.  This is happening at the national level and state by state as private school money continues to purchase one legislator after another.  And this was happening long before Trump.

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Since voters nearly always reject privatization initiatives on the ballot, Republicans and Democrats, both in the pay of charter school sugar daddies, are obliged to make it happen without them. In the maze of double dealing we call legislative processes, leading Democrats in most state legislatures have thrown their bipartisan weight behind school privatization bills. Georgia and its leading black Democrats are no exception.

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

As voters wise up across the country, they have rejected almost every school privatization proposal put before them. Last November Georgia’s governor Nathan “let’s make a” Deal threw a constitutional amendment at voters that would have closed 120 mostly black public schools and given them to a statewide charter school district which in turn would be privatized in 2018. Deal’s rotten deal on education was thrown back, thanks in part to many Georgia Democrats who enthusiastically support handing public education over to private profiteers, just not Republican ones.

But if privatization is not the will of the people, it IS the will of the one percenters and their stooges in both parties. Both Obama Secretaries of Education were enthusiastic privatizers. A Democrat, the First Black President came into office vowing to close 5,000 public schools in his first term. He used $4 billion in one-time stimulus money to do just that, dispersing more qualified black teachers, disempowering more parents, and delivering more children into the profitable hands of charter school crooks – I mean entrepreneurs, than any president before him, and shattering the cohesion of thousands of neighborhoods where the public school had been a kind of anchor.

Donald Trump gave us Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, the sister of Blackwater founder Eric Prince and a militant Christian billionaire who has championed religious and charter schools in Michigan and resisted laws that would oversee or regulate them. DeVos is so ignorant she imagined that historically black colleges and universities were the result of black choices, rather than white philanthropy and black self-help in an era when institutions of higher learning would not admit black students. DeVos sponsored multiple voucher and charter school referenda, and they all failed.

But again, privatizing education is an elite bipartisan project, much too important to allow voters to get in the way. Since Georgia voters rejected the privatization amendment on the ballot, state legislators in their infinite wisdom have decided to put high heels and lipstick on the pig and grease it through that state’s brief legislative session this year. Georgia has a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both houses of its legislature, but many rural Republicans have begun to see that the privatizations will hit them next after black and brown communities.

So it fell to the state’s leading black legislator, House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta to go to the well of the state house, point to the pig’s pretty lipstick and heels, and endorse the privatization bill HB 338, and encourage those in her caucus to vote for it.

To be fair, there are Democrats in Georgia and elsewhere who say they oppose school privatization. But they’re members of a party that takes big money from the privatizers and because of careertacy or other considerations they will not, they cannot break with the privatizers.

There’s another party in Georgia, the only political party that doesn’t take money from the privatizers, and the only party that stands explicitly against school privatization as nothing more or less than a new kind of grand theft. It’s the Green party, and unless the state legislature finds a way to keep us off the ballot, the Georgia Green party will have its first seats in that body in 2018.

For Black Agenda Radio, and for the Georgia Green Party I’m Bruce Dixon.

Images (4) March 4, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Humor, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: Here are some more images, which I hope are worth at least a thousand words.  But I add a few anyway (here in Ecuador my fruit lady always throws in some extra, it’s called “Yapa.”)

 

You can always count on those who benefit, always unjustly, from the status quo, to come up with what are supposed to appear to be “self-evident” eternal truths.  Of course these are nothing more than verbal slights of hand designed to take the wind out of the efforts of those who struggle for change (justice).

 

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This cartoon was designed for a Clinton victory, but because she lost the civilians of mostly Muslim countries will have to continue to blasted to smithereens by a male president.  Well, at least he is white and not a Black Kenyan.

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How dare it be suggested that this traditional American value group be considered as terrorist.

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Nike has somehow been able to withstand my my many years of personal boycott.  When I could only find a baseball cap that fit me with the logo I wanted, for the first time in ages I purchased the slash.  Please don’t tell anyone.

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Berta Cáceres court papers show murder suspects’ links to US-trained elite troops March 3, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Honduras, Human Rights, Latin America, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: “Violence against social activists has surged since a military backed coup d’état ousted populist president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Since then at least 124 land and environmental campaigners have been killed.”  This violence along with government repression of civil dissent is a direct result of that coup, which was welcomed by the United States government in the person of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  President Zelaya had proposed moderate reforms, which were viewed as a threat by Honduran ruling classes; who with U.S. tacit support carried out the coup for the purpose of promoting and protecting U.S. investments in the country.  The major military leaders who carried out the coup and instituted a new puppet government were ultra right evangelical christian conservatives.  I character the dis-stabilisation of Honduras under the category “your tax dollars at work.”

Today an email from Amnesty International contained the following:

“A year ago, beloved water defender and Goldman Environmental Prize winner Berta Cáceres was gunned down in Honduras, causing shock waves around the world. The message from Berta’s killers and those who gave the orders was clear: no one was safe if their defense of human rights and the environment challenged powerful economic interests.

Over the past year, more courageous women and men, raising their voices for human rights, for the rights of Indigenous peoples, for defense of land and the environment, have been shot to death in Honduras.

Since bravely assuming leadership of Berta’s organization, COPINH,Tomás Gómez Membreño has suffered multiple attempts on his life.
He and other activists are in grave danger for work that should be commended for its integrity and service to the human rights of the most vulnerable. 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/28/berta-caceres-honduras-military-intelligence-us-trained-special-forces

The Honduran environmental activist’s killing a year ago bears the hallmarks of a ‘well-planned operation designed by military intelligence’ says legal source

Indigenous Hondurans and peasants march to demand justice for the murder of Berta Cáceres on 17 August 2016 in Tegucigalpa.
Hondurans demand justice for Berta Cáceres on 17 August 2016 in Tegucigalpa. Officials have denied a state role in the killing despite the arrest of one serving and two ex-soldiers. Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images

Leaked court documents raise concerns that the murder of the Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres was an extrajudicial killing planned by military intelligence specialists linked to the country’s US–trained special forces, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Cáceres was shot dead a year ago while supposedly under state protection after receiving death threats over her opposition to a hydroelectric dam.

The murder of Cáceres, winner of the prestigious Goldman environmental prize in 2015, prompted international outcry and calls for the US to revoke military aid to Honduras, a key ally in its war on drugs.

Eight men have been arrested in connection with the murder, including one serving and two retired military officers.

Officials have denied state involvement in the activist’s murder, and downplayed the arrest of the serving officer Maj Mariano Díaz, who was hurriedly discharged from the army.

But the detainees’ military records and court documents seen by the Guardian reveal that:

  • Díaz, a decorated special forces veteran, was appointed chief of army intelligence in 2015, and at the time of the murder was on track for promotion to lieutenant colonel.
  • Another suspect, Lt Douglas Giovanny Bustillo joined the military on the same day as Díaz; they served together and prosecutors say they remained in contact after Bustillo retired in 2008.
  • Díaz and Bustillo both received military training in the US.
  • A third suspect, Sgt Henry Javier Hernández, was a former special forces sniper, who had worked under the direct command of Díaz. Prosecutors believe he may also have worked as an informant for military intelligence after leaving the army in 2013.

Court documents also include the records of mobile phone messages which prosecutors believe contain coded references to the murder.

Bustillo and Hernández visited the town of La Esperanza, where Cáceres lived, several times in the weeks before her death, according to phone records and Hernández’s testimony.

A legal source close to the investigation told the Guardian: “The murder of Berta Cáceres has all the characteristics of a well-planned operation designed by military intelligence, where it is absolutely normal to contract civilians as assassins.

“It’s inconceivable that someone with her high profile, whose campaign had made her a problem for the state, could be murdered without at least implicit authorisation of military high command.”

The Honduran defence ministry ignored repeated requests from the Guardian for comment, but the head of the armed forces recently denied that military deaths squads were operating in the country.

Five civilians with no known military record have also been arrested. They include Sergio Rodríguez, a manager for the internationally funded Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam which Cáceres had opposed.

The project is being led by Desarrollos Energéticos SA, (Desa), which has extensive military and government links. The company’s president, Roberto David Castillo Mejía, is a former military intelligence officer, and its secretary, Roberto Pacheco Reyes, is a former justice minister. Desa employed former lieutenant Bustillo as head of security between 2013 and 2015.

Cáceres had reported 33 death threats linked to her campaign against the dam, including several from Desa employees. Desa denies any involvement in the murder.

Cáceres was killed at about 11.30pm on 2 March, when at least four assassins entered the gated community to which she had recently moved on the outskirts of La Esperanza.

Berta Cáceres speaks to people near the Gualcarque river in 2015 where residents were fighting a dam project.
Berta Cáceres speaks to people near the Gualcarque river in 2015 where residents were fighting a dam project. Photograph: Tim Russo/AP

A checkpoint at the entrance to the town – normally manned by police officers or soldiers – was left unattended on the night she was killed, witnesses have told the Guardian.

Initially, investigators suggested the murderer was a former lover or disgruntled co-worker. But amid mounting international condemnation, Díaz, Bustillo and two others were arrested in May 2016.

Hernández, who was eventually arrested in Mexico, is the only suspect to have given detailed testimony in court. He has admitted his involvement, but says he acted under duress.

All eight have been charged with murder and attempted murder. The other seven suspects have either denied involvement or not given testimony in court.

Prosecutors say that phone records submitted to court show extensive communication between the three military men, including a text message which was a coded discussion of payment for a contract killing.

American experts have been involved in the investigation from the start, according to the US embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Senator Ben Cardin, ranking member of the Senate foreign relations committee, said US support should not be unconditional: “It is essential that we not only strengthen our commitment to improving the rule of law in Honduras, but we must also demand greater accountability for human rights violations and attacks against civil society.”

Last year, the Guardian reported that a former Honduran soldier said he had seen Cáceres’s name on a hitlist that was passed to US-trained units.

1Sgt Rodrigo Cruz said that two elite units were given lists featuring the names and photographs of activists – and ordered to eliminate each target.

Cruz’s unit commander deserted rather than comply with the order. The rest of the unit were then sent on leave.

In a follow-up interview with the Guardian, Cruz said the hit list was given by the Honduran military joint chiefs of staff to the commander of the Xatruch multi-agency taskforce, to which his unit belonged.

Cruz – who asked to be referred to by a pseudonym for fear of retribution – deserted after Cáceres’s murder and remains in hiding. The whereabouts of his former colleagues is unknown.

Following the Guardian’s report, James Nealon, the US ambassador to Honduras, pledged to investigate the allegations, and in an interview last week, said that no stone had been left unturned.

“I’ve spoken to everyone I can think of to speak to, as have members of my team, and no one can produce such a hitlist,” said Nealon.

But the embassy did not speak to the Xatruch commander, Nealon said. Activists, including those with information about the alleged hit list, have told the Guardian they have not been interviewed by US or Honduran officials.

Lauren Carasik, clinical professor of law at Western New England University, said America’s unwavering support for Honduras suggests it tolerates impunity for intellectual authors of high-profile targeted killings.

“Washington cannot, in good conscience, continue to ignore mounting evidence that the Honduran military was complicit in the extrajudicial assassination of Cáceres.”

Extrajudicial killings by the security forces and widespread impunity are among the most serious human rights violations in Honduras, according to the US state department.

Nevertheless, the US is the main provider of military and police support to Honduras, and last year approved $18m of aid.

The Gualcarque river, sacred to local indigenous communities and the site of the controversial Agua Zarca dam.
The Gualcarque river, sacred to local indigenous communities and the site of the controversial Agua Zarca dam. Photograph: Giles Clarke/Global Witness

In recent years, US support has focused on Honduras’s special forces units, originally created as a counterinsurgency force during the 1980s “dirty war”.

The elite units ostensibly target terrorism, organised crime and gangs, but campaigners say the Honduran intelligence apparatus is used to target troublesome community leaders.

Violence against social activists has surged since a military backed coup d’état ousted populist president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Since then at least 124 land and environmental campaigners have been killed.

A recent investigation by corruption watchdog Global Witness described extensive involvement of political, business and military elites in environmentally destructive mega projects which have flourished since the coup.

One of the most troubled parts of the country has been northern Bajo Aguán region, where a land conflict between palm oil companies and peasant farmers has claimed more than 130 lives over the past six years.

The Bajo Aguán is also home to the 15th battalion – one of two special forces units in the Honduran army – and the special forces training centre.

Two of the suspects, Díaz and Hernández, served in the 15th battalion together; Cruz’s elite unit was also stationed in the Bajo Aguán.

Ambassador Nealon said that there was no record of Díaz, Hernández or Bustillo attending any US training courses in Honduras.

“Our training programmes for police or for military are not designed to instruct people in how to commit human rights violations or to create an atmosphere in which they believe that they are empowered to commit human rights violations, in fact, just the opposite,” said Nealon.

Honduran military records show that Díaz attended several counterinsurgency courses at special forces bases in Tegucigalpa and in the Bajo Aguán.

He also attended cadet leadership courses at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1997, and a counter-terrorism course at the Inter American air force academy in 2005.

The court documents also reveal that at the time of his arrest, Díaz, 44, was under investigation for drug trafficking and kidnapping, while also studying for promotion.

Military records show that in 1997, Bustillo attended logistics and artillery courses at the School of the Americas, at Fort Benning, Georgia, which trained hundreds of Latin American officers who later committed human rights abuses.

Images (3) March 2, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Humor, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: well, today I read that, unlike previous presidents, the Trump Team passed on ethics training.  Why does this not surprise me?  Reminds me of the report that the Saudis training as pilots in Florida in preparation to strike the Twin Towers on 9/11, passed on learning how to land their planes.  In both cases why waste time on unnecessary training?  I also read about how George W. Bush (the new century’s first of two idiot presidents) and Michelle Obama have become best buds.  Warms my cynical Marxist heart, and I will sleep better tonight.

Here are a few on the lighter side which may help lighten the load we bear:

Just as some paranoids may have real enemies, some conspiracy theorists may have real conspiracies.

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Given that the media are America’s greatest enemy, this may be a difficult task.

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Don’t worry, be happy.

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As I say, don’t worry, be happy.

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So you see, the world hasn’t changed that much.

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