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Poppy > Opioid > Addiction: Why I Don’t Wear One November 8, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Uncategorized, War.
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War is an addiction.  A most deadly addiction.

It pains me every year around this time to see so many of my fellow humans walking around sporting those red poppies, which to me represent a justification, if not a glorification of war.

I know that most of those who wear them would not see it that way, but, unfortunately, most of us don’t look beyond the surface of things.  How could you not wear a “Support your local police” button?  Don’t you support your local police (have you stopped beating your spouse?)?  How can you not support those who fought and gave their lives to defend freedom, democracy and the American way of life?

But that’s not really the question to ask here.  The question is: what do these ubiquitous red pieces of cheap material (made in China?) really represent?

We celebrate various holidays every year: we celebrate mothers, fathers, presidents, MLK, Christopher Columbus, the Easter Bunny, Spring Break, Thanksgiving, the questionable birth of a world religious leader, etc.  But on only one day do we remember the dead.  Veterans Day.  We remember soldiers and war dead (and only our own, not the ones we cause).

Does that in itself not say something?  Does that not elevate war above all else?  Do we have a day to remember those who have died of poverty?  hunger? illness and disease? automobile accidents? overdosing?  smoking? natural disasters?

No. Only WAR.

War is an addiction.  But, above all, war is a racket.  As it destroys en masse human lives and lays to waste entire cities, it creates unimaginable wealth for the very people who are responsible for war, who General Eisenhower referred to as the Military Industrial Complex.

No one said it better than another general (note that I am citing here generals, not Gandhian pacifists), the estimable General Smedley D. Butler, in his classic “War is a Racket.”

Which is my recommended reading for 11/11.

WuerkerComplex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bolivia’s Former President and Defense Minister Face Florida Trial for Civilian Deaths March 12, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Bolivia, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Imperialism, Latin America, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: there’s a familiar pattern here.  A Latin American head of state is supported, propped up or whatever by the United States government in order to protect U.S. corporate, military and geopolitical interests.  When his murderous policies become so untenable that popular uprisings (and in a few cases democratic elections) succeed in overthrowing said caudillo, he finds refuge in a playboy’s lifestyle in the United States or elsewhere.  Batista, Jiminez, Duvalier, Somosa… There is a long list.  Chile’s brutal dictator, Pinochet, got caught in England, but a British court let him slip away.  Ecuador’s Mahuad, responsible for millions losing their life savings, was last seen teaching Economics at Harvard.

Now we see, perhaps for the first time,  a possibility for justice for U.S. supported high crimes in Bolivia.

 | MARCH 5, 2018, Miami New Times

Mamani plantiffs

In 2003, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and Defense Minister Carlos Sánchez Berzaín fled to Miami amid roiling protests in La Paz. The two had enraged indigenous Bolivians by trying to sell off the country’s natural gas reserves to private corporations and then had responded to peaceful protests by ordering out the army, which killed 58 civilians and wounded more than 400 people.

The two figured they would find safe haven in South Florida, as so many other deposed strongmen have done. But they didn’t count on the extraordinary resolve of Eloy and Etelvina Mamani, whose 8-year-old daughter, Marlene, bled to death in their home near Lake Titicaca after a government sniper shot her through the chest.

Along with several other victims of the massacre, the Mamanis sued the two Bolivian leaders in federal court with the help of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard. Today, after more than a decade of legal battles, the Mamanis will get to face Sánchez de Lozada and Berzaín in court.

 

Lawyers for the families say the trial, set to begin in Fort Lauderdale’s federal courthouse, will be the first time a former head of state faces a human rights trial in U.S. civil court.

“The former president and his minister of defense must now listen as we testify about what happened,” Teófilo Baltazar Cerro, a member of the indigenous Aymara community of Bolivia, said in a news release. “We look forward to this historic opportunity to have our day in court.”

The roots of the case date back to the early 2000s, when Sánchez de Lozada — a U.S.-educated, corporation-friendly leader — took power and tried to begin privatizing state resources, with the hearty backing of the Clinton administration. (James Carville even ran his successful 2002 campaign in Bolivia.)

As New Times wrote in a 2008 feature about the case, that move quickly ran into strong opposition from the impoverished Aymaras and Quechuas in the western highlands:

By 2003, a long-simmering feud over what to do with Bolivia’s natural gas deposits had reached a boil. Goni wanted to bring in foreign companies to pipe the gas through neighboring Chile, to the sea, and eventually to California, but indigenous protesters — who despised foreign companies and Chile with equal aplomb — vowed to stop him. In early 2003, a young, charismatic Aymara coca farmer named Evo Morales (who had come in second to Goni in the election a year before) began gathering indigenous groups to block the plans, pushing instead for nationalization. With little political clout, Morales turned to civil disobedience: Protesters destroyed roads and barricaded towns in the highlands around La Paz, seeking to choke the economy until their demands were met.

Sánchez de Lozada ordered Berzaín and the military to respond — and they did, with violent force. As protests intensified amid the dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, Sánchez de Lozada and his defense minister resigned October 17, 2003, and jetted to Miami. They lived here in comfort in Key Biscayne, but the Mamani family wanted justice for their daughter.

“I want them all in jail,” Etelvina told New Times in 2010. “But that doesn’t seem possible.”

With the help of Harvard’s lawyers, they found one angle for justice in Miami’s federal courts. Lawyers for the former leaders have spent years arguing that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over what happened in Bolivia in 2003.

“All evidence shows the response of the Sánchez de Lozada government was constitutional, lawful, and appropriate,” Howard Gutman, an attorney for the Bolivian leaders, said in 2008.

But the Mamanis have won several major victories already. In 2016, a judge ruled they could continue fighting for their case under the U.S. Torture Victim Protection Act, and last month a motion for summary judgment by the former leaders was tossed out, clearing the way for today’s trial.

“The trial will offer indigenous Aymara people, who have historically been excluded from justice, a chance to testify about events that led to dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries,” Beth Stephens, an attorney for for the victims, says in a statement.

 

 

When will there be a film on Winston Churchill, the barbaric monster with the blood of millions on his hands? March 10, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Genocide, History, Human Rights, Imperialism, India, Kenya, Race, Racism, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: before I knew about Churchill’s genocidal acts in India and Kenya, I was aware that he had ordered the fire bombing of Dresden, a city of great cultural but no military value, in the final days of World War II.  I think I must have read been reading Kurt Vonnegut’s classic, Slaughterhouse Five, which is set in that holocaust.  As with India and Kenya, Churchill’s motivation for burning alive thousands of German civilians was pure vindictiveness.  It has always galled me to no end, therefore, to see this racist monster lionized as Patriot and a Great Man (Shame on Gary Oldman).  I therefore gasped when I read the headline in yesterday’s Toronto Star, and after I read the article I have to ask myself how this one got by the Star’s head honchos.  But somehow it did, and it is a credit to bravery of the author of the article to have written it for publication in a main stream publication.  And from one of the Empire’s most noteworthy colonies as well!

Imperialistic pop culture has enshrined Churchill only as a military great, a fun drunk, a loyal monarchist with a penchant for fine speech and a flair for loquacious prose. But the British PM lacerated the world with tragedies, profiting from plunders and mass murders, writes Shree Paradkar.

darkest_hour_still.jpg.size-custom-crop.1086x0Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. In his Oscar acceptance speech for playing the role, Oldman said, “I would just like to salute Sir Winston Churchill.” He might as well have danced on 3 million dead bodies, writes Shree Paradkar.   (JACK ENGLISH / FOCUS FEATURES)

 

By the time I came across the ledger at the Bangalore Club with Winston Churchill’s name on it in the late 1990s, British rule in India had been sanitized; airbrushed to present a picture of overall benevolence with a few violent splotches.

The entry in the ledger is dated June 1, 1899 and names one Lt W.L.S. Churchill as one of 17 bill defaulters. He owes the club 13 rupees from a time when a whisky cost less than half a rupee.

Had we then heard that Churchill once described our beloved city as a “third rate watering place … without society or good sport,” we would have probably laughed it off as the irascibility ever only indulged in the great. Jolly good, old chap.

Colonialism of the mind lingers long after the land is free.

And if we had heard that he once said, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion,” meh. He was dead. We were thriving.

There are flawed heroes. Lincoln, MLK and Gandhi to name a few — men who inflicted injustices on individuals.

Then there are monsters.

Powerful men who lacerate the world with tragedies. Adolf Hitler, certainly, but his nemesis Churchill, too.

It was only in 2014 that I first got a glimpse of genocidal mania in the man so lionized for leading his nation through its finest hour.

It was a piece titled Remembering India’s forgotten holocaust, in Tehelka magazine that detailed the ghastly origins of the Bengal famine of 1943 that killed an estimated 3 million people in one year.

Historians have easily traced it back to Churchill who had diverted the bountiful harvest from Bengal to Britain and other parts of Europe. When the locals began starving, he steadfastly refused to send them food. He said no to rerouting food that was being shipped from Australia to the Middle East via India. No to the 10,000 tons of rice Canada offered to send to India, no to the 100,000 tons of rice America offered. The famine was the Indians’ fault, he told a war-cabinet meeting, “for breeding like rabbits.”

In his Revisionist History podcast, Malcolm Gladwell delves into how the historian Madhusree Mukerjee, author of Churchill’s Secret War, dug into Britain’s shipping archives to uncover evidence that Britain had so much food at the time that the U.S. had become suspicious they were stockpiling it to sell it after the war.

In India, she wrote, “parents dumped their starving children into rivers and wells. Many took their lives by throwing themselves in front of trains.” Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers were fighting alongside the Allied forces.

Yet, what did the actor Gary Oldman who portrayed Churchill in Darkest Hour say last Sunday when he received an Oscar for Best Actor? “I would just like to salute Sir Winston Churchill who has been marvellous company on what can be described as an incredible journey.”

Salute. Sir. Marvellous. Incredible.

Oldman might as well have danced on 3 million dead bodies, many of whom were too weak to cremate or bury their loved ones.

Such tributes for a heinous white supremacist who once declared that “Aryan tribes were bound to triumph.”

Words as hollow as the tunnel-visioned ideals on which people fashion this man, but they can’t stem the drip, drip of blood from his hands.

They can’t hide tens of thousands of Kenyans who were rounded up in concentration camps called “Britain’s Gulags” under his orders, where thousands were tortured and killed for rebelling against British rule.

They can’t hide the bodies of the Greek civilians who were celebrating German withdrawal in 1944, but were killed by the British army because Churchill thought the communist influence on the Nazi resisters — who had allied with Britain — was too strong. And we haven’t even got into his treatment of Iraqis or the wiping out of entire Indigenous populations of Tasmania.

Churchill was not the first Western leader to profit from plunders and mass murders. Remember John A. Macdonald? But imperialistic popular culture continues to enshrine him, despite the Gallipoli disaster, only as a military great, a fun drunk, a loyal monarch with a penchant for fine speech and a flair for loquacious prose.

Churchill tried to manipulate history with the six volumes of his memoirs. Indeed he succeeded so well that even today the Bangalore Club thumps its chest about his membership there. “Many a past great … including Sir Winston Churchill” have been members, says its website.

This compounds the tragedy. Erasing his crimes pronounces his victims worthless, deems their lives undeserving of acknowledgement, and leaves their deaths but a footnote in history.

On Twitter @shreeparadkar

Win Without War: We just got the chance to save millions of lives March 8, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized, united arab emirates, War, yemen.
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Roger’s note: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria … Yemen.  Where will it stop?  With Iran and North Korea in Trump’s cross hairs?  It’s permanent war, which began with the Bush Mafia and continued with Obama and Trump.

We have a chance to save millions of lives by ending America’s shameful role in the war in Yemen.

Vermont progressive Senator Bernie Sanders and constitutional conservative Senator Mike Lee of Utah have introduced a resolution to cut off  U.S. support for this illegal war. Because Congress has never authorized the war in Yemen, Bernie’s resolution is guaranteed a vote within days. This is huge. And we have just a few days to get our senators on board.

Will you watch my video message, then call your senators and ask them to vote for Bernie’s resolution?

For three years, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been waging a secretive war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and its allies have deliberately put 8 million people a step away from famine. Meanwhile, the United States continues to funnel bombs, planes, and fuel into enabling Saudi and UAE brutality.

In the movie Spotlight, I play a journalist who is determined to uncover abuse, no matter how powerful the abuser. Spotlight shows us that harm against innocents can only persist when no one is watching. In Yemen, the powerful figure enabling human rights abuse is our own government.

I believe that when the American people are presented with the facts, we will act to stop our tax dollars from being used to bomb and starve innocent Yemenis simply to advance the Saudi dictatorship’s military ambitions.

Please watch my video, then call your senators and urge them to vote for the Sanders-Lee resolution to end the unauthorized war in Yemen.

Thank you for working for peace,

Mark Ruffalo and the Win Without War team

Here’s How The Nation Responded When A Black Militia Group Occupied A Government Building February 28, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in California, Gun Control/Violence, History, Race, Racism, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: Here, believe it or not, is a true story about  NRA supported Republican sponsored legislation on gun control.  It happened in my and maybe your lifetime; I remember it well.  I guess all things are relatives.  For Republicans and the NRA when oppressed people begin to arm themselves, that is another thing.  In other words, Black Panthers trump (no pun intended) the Second Amendment.  Getting back to the present, unless and until Blacks, Latinos, and Women begin to arm themselves en masse; it’s open season on assault gun sales.  Government tyranny must be addressed; and when the attack begins we will need those AK-15 to mow down as many as we can of those government soldiers, even though, of course, we support our troops.

Huffingtonpost, 01/06/2016 01:38 pm ET Updated Dec 21, 2016
Nearly 50 years ago, a group of armed Black Panthers entered the California state Capitol to protest a gun control bill.

When armed militants seized a government building in Burns, Oregon, on Saturday, stating their willingness to “kill and be killed” and promising to stay for “years,” the official response was cautious and restrained. Many onlookers wondered whether this would still be the case if the militants were people of color instead of white people.

If you’re not familiar with the history of protest in the U.S., you might not know that the armed occupation of government buildings hasn’t always been just for white guys. In fact, on May 2, 1967, a group of 30 Black Panthers walked into the California state Capitol building, toting rifles and shotguns and quickly garnering national headlines.

Just to be clear, there are a world of differences between the Black Panthers’ demonstration and what’s happening in Oregon now (although it is noteworthy that you have to go back to 1967 to find an example of black activists doing something even remotely analogous). The two groups employed different tactics, fought for different causes and — predictably — elicited different reactions in vastly different places and times. But the 1967 incident serves as one example of the way Americans tend to respond to black protest — which some say is always likely to be different from the way Americans react when it’s white people doing the protesting.

SACRAMENTO BEE/MCT VIA GETTY IMAGES
Members of the Black Panthers hold guns during the group’s protest at the California Assembly in May 1967.

In October 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party for Self Defense as a small community organization based in Oakland, California. Its members — including the 30 people who would travel to Sacramento the following May — believed that black Americans should exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves against an oppressive U.S. government. At the time, California lawmakers were trying to strip them of that right, and the Black Panthers wanted to tell the U.S., and the world, that they found this unacceptable.

Among other things, the Black Panthers’ agenda involved taking up arms and patrolling their communities to protect against rampant racism in policing. And that’s what they did in the first few months of the party’s existence, carrying guns openly in compliance with California law, driving around their neighborhoods, observing arrests and other law enforcement activity — effectively policing the police. Newton was even known for packing a law book alongside his rifle that he’d recite from when informing an officer that a civilian’s rights were being violated.

The patrols weren’t meant to encourage violence. The Panthers were committed to using force only if it was used against them, and at first, their mere presence appeared to be working as a check on abusive policing. But the Panthers’ willful assertion of their rights — like the day Newton reportedly stood up to a cop in front of a crowd of black onlookers — was unacceptable to white authority figures who’d come to expect complete deference from black communities, and who were happy to use fear and force to extract it.

Don Mulford, a GOP assemblyman who represented Oakland, responded to the Black Panther police patrols in 1967 with a bill to strip Californians of the right to openly carry firearms.

Nobody tried to stop the 30 Black Panthers — 24 men and six women, carrying rifles, shotguns and revolvers — as they walked through the doors of the state Capitol building on May 2 of that year. This was decades before Sept. 11 or the Oklahoma City bombing, and the protesters were, after all, legally allowed to have their weapons. They entered with their guns pointed at the ceiling. Behind them followed a horde of journalists they’d called to document the protest.

As the rest of the group waited nearby, six Panthers entered the assembly chamber, where they found lawmakers mid-session. Some legislators reportedly saw the protesters and took cover under desks. It was the last straw: Police finally ordered the protesters to leave the premises. The group maintained they were within their rights to be in the Capitol with their guns, but eventually they exited peacefully.

Outside, Seale delivered the Black Panther executive mandate before a crush of reporters. This section of remarks, reprinted in Hugh Pearson’s The Shadow of the Pantherstill resonates today:

“Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against black people. All of these efforts have been answered by more repression, deceit and hypocrisy. As the aggression of the racist American government escalates in Vietnam, the police agencies of America escalate the oppression of black people throughout the ghettoes of America. Vicious police dogs, cattle prods, and increased patrols have become familiar sights in black communities. City Hall turns a deaf ear to the pleas of black people for relief from this increasing terror.”

Shortly after Seale finished, police arrested the group on felony charges of conspiracy to disrupt a legislative session. Seale accused them of manufacturing “trumped up charges,” but the protesters would later plead guilty to lesser misdemeanors.

Mulford’s legislation, which became known as the “Panthers Bill,” passed with the support of the National Rifle Association, which apparently believed that the whole “good guy with a gun” thing didn’t apply to black people. California Gov. Ronald Reagan (R), who would later campaign for president as a steadfast defender of the Second Amendment, signed the bill into law.

Although the May 2 demonstration failed to sway lawmakers into voting against the Mulford Act — and may have even convinced some of them that such a measure was necessary — it did succeed in making the Black Panthers front-page news. Headlines ran above evocative photos of armed black protesters, many wearing berets, bomber jackets and dark sunglasses, walking the halls of the California Capitol. And the American public’s response to that imagery reflected a nation deeply divided on the issue of race.

On one hand, such a defiant demonstration of black power served as recruitment fodder for the Black Panther Party, which had previously only been operating in the Bay Area. It grew in size and influence, opening branches in a number of major cities, building a presence on college campuses and ultimately surging to as many as 5,000 members across 49 local chapters in 1969.

The party even attracted a number of radical-leaning white supporters — many of whom were moved by the Black Panthers’ lesser-remembered efforts, like free breakfasts for children in black neighborhoods, drug and alcohol abuse awareness courses, community health and consumer classes and a variety of other programs focused on the health and wellness of their communities.

But it was clear from the moment the Black Panthers stepped inside the California Capitol that the nuances of the protest, and of Seale’s message, weren’t going to be understood by much of white America. The local media’s initial portrayal of the brief occupation as an “invasion” would lay the groundwork for the enduring narrative of the Black Panthers first and foremost as a militant anti-white movement.

SACRAMENTO BEE
The front page of The Sacramento Bee on the night of the protest.

In August 1967, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover took steps to ensure that public support for the Black Panthers would remain marginal. In a memorandum just months after the armed protest, he deemed the group a “black nationalist, hate-type organization“ to be neutralized by COINTELPRO, a controversial initiative that notoriously skirted the law in its attempts to subvert any movement that Hoover saw as a potential source of civil disorder. A 2012 report further uncovered the extent of the agency’s activity, revealing that an FBI informant had actually provided the Black Panthers with weapons and training as early as 1967.

As the Panthers’ profile grew in the months and years following the California Capitol protest, so too did their troubles — something that many of the Panthers themselves regarded as no coincidence. Just two months after Hoover put the Black Panthers in his sights, Newton was arrested and convicted of killing Oakland police officer John Frey, a hotly contested development and the first in a series of major, nationwide controversies that engulfed the movement. (Newton ultimately served two years of his sentence before his conviction was overturned in a set of appeals.)

The strength of the Black Panthers ebbed and flowed in the years leading up to the organization’s dissolution in 1982. The party struggled to find a balance between its well-intentioned community efforts and its reliance on firepower and occasional violence to bolster its hardened image. High-profile shootouts with police and arrests of members created further rifts in the group’s leadership and helped cement the white establishment’s depiction of Black Panthers as extremists.

Many white Americans couldn’t get over their first impression of the Black Panthers. Coverage of the 1967 protest introduced them to the party, and the fear of black people exercising their rights in an empowered, intimidating fashion left its mark. To them, the Black Panthers were little more than a group of thugs unified behind militaristic trappings and a leftist political ideology. And to be fair, some members of the party were criminals not just in the minds of frightened white people.

The Black Panther protest in 1967 is not the “black version” of what’s happening in Oregon right now. Those demonstrators entered the state Capitol lawfully, lodged their complaints against a piece of racially motivated legislation and then left without incident. But for those who see racial double standards at play in Oregon, the scope and severity of the 1967 response — the way the Panthers’ demonstration brought about panicked headlines, a prolonged FBI sabotage effort and support for gun control from the NRA, of all groups — will serve as confirmation that race shapes the way the country reacts to protest.

 

This article has been updated to specify that one has to go as far back as 1967 to find black activists — rather than any activists of color at all — participating in a protest similar to the Oregon occupation.

Senator Calls Out Big Pharma For Opposing Legal Marijuana February 25, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Drugs, Health, Laols, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: what a surprise, the pharmaceutical industry putting profit over human need.  I’m shocked.

Tom Angell, Forbes, February 23, 2018

A prominent Democratic U.S. senator is slamming pharmaceutical companies for opposing marijuana legalization.

“To them it’s competition for chronic pain, and that’s outrageous because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said. “It’s not the same thing. It’s not as highly addictive as opioids are.”

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“On the federal level, we really need to say it is a legal drug you can access if you need it,” she said.

Gillibrand, in an appearance on Good Day New York on Friday morning, was responding to a question about whether marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads people to try more dangerous substances.

“I don’t see it as a gateway to opioids,” she said. “What I see is the opioid industry and the drug companies that manufacture it, some of them in particular, are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients and addict people across this country.”

Legalization advocates have long speculated that “Big Pharma” is working behind the scenes to maintain cannabis prohibition. And in 2016, Insys Therapeutics, which makes products containing fentanyl and other opioids, as well as a synthetic version of the cannabinoid THC, donated half a million dollars to help defeat a marijuana legalization measure that appeared on Arizona’s ballot that year.

Numerous studies have shown that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid overdose rates.

Research published this month, for example, concluded that “legally protected and operating medical marijuana dispensaries reduce opioid-related harms,” suggesting that “some individuals may be substituting towards marijuana, reducing the quantity of opioids they consume or forgoing initiation of opiates altogether.”

Marijuana is a far less addictive substance than opioids and the potential for overdosing is nearly zero,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Health Economics.

Last week, Gillibrand became the second cosponsor of far-reaching Senate legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and withhold federal funding from states that have racially disproportionate enforcement of cannabis laws.

“Millions of Americans’ lives have been devastated because of our broken marijuana policies, especially in communities of color and low-income communities,” she said at the time. “Legalizing marijuana is a social justice issue and a moral issue that Congress needs to address.”

Gillibrand is also a sponsor of far-reaching medical cannabis legislation and recently signed a letter calling for new protections for state marijuana laws to be inserted into federal spending legislation.

“I think medical marijuana could be treatment for a lot of folks,” she said in the interview on Friday. “A lot of veterans have told us that this is the best treatment for them. I do not see it as a gateway drug.”

Many political observers have speculated that Gillibrand will run for her party’s presidential nomination in 2020. She and at least two other potential Democratic contenders have already endorsed marijuana legalization.

 

Tom Angell publishes Marijuana Moment news and founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Follow Tom on Twitterfor breaking news and subscribe to his daily newsletter.

The Real Goal of “Russiagate” is to Prepare for Endless Austerity and War February 24, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Russia, Trump, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: Confession, I didn’t vote for Clinton, and during the election I took the position that there was no difference between the two stooges of the oligarchy.  However, the minute that Trump won, something I didn’t think could ever happen, I started to re-think.  The major concern being the nuclear codes in the hands of a madman.  On sober third thought, however, I more or less agree with this article.  Of course, there is a difference to some degree between the two parties, especially in the area of immigration; but on the essential issues of war and peace, labor and capital, the parties are essentially the same.  

In Canada we have the saying the the (slightly) left New Democratic Party (NDP) advocates are “Liberals in a hurry.”  Well a Clinton White House might not be as quick to destroy the environment and roll back the safety net, but it would in its own way advance the military industrial complex agenda, and eventually we would end up in the same place as with the Republicans (and when it comes to war and peace, I still am not sure that Clinton would’t be more of a provocateur).  Maybe, then, Republicans can be referred to as “Democrats in a hurry.”

Of course, too, there is also the argument that Democrats in power co-opt much of the opposition because of the myth that the Democratic Party is somehow progressive.

Glen Ford, BAR executive editor
22 Feb 2018
The Real Goal of “Russiagate” is to Prepare for Endless Austerity and War

“The ruling circles of the imperial superpower set out to destabilize and call into disrepute the government of the home country.”

Robert Mueller, the former head of the national political police (FBI), has indicted 13 Russian nationals for the crime of sowing “discord in the U.S. political system” and encouraging “U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.” The defendants’ nationality makes their acts of political speech a crime, in Mueller’s legal view, but “at least 20 Americans” are embedded in the document as unindicted co-conspirators “ because they interacted in various ways with the Russian team’s activities during the 2016 presidential campaign.

These U.S. citizens “were just engaging in politics,” said independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, on Democracy Now! “They were putting together campaign events. They were engaging in online speech. That’s like, you know, the most sacred part of being an American citizen. And yet, they were unknowingly interacting with Russians….”

The Russians will never face trial in the U.S., and it is highly unlikely that the unindicted Americans will be criminally charged — but that is not the purpose of Mueller’s indictment. The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States. The witch hunt has found a legalistic vocabulary.

The New York Times’ in-house witch-hunting Negro, Charles Blow , has worked his mojo to the bone, fulminating against the dark forces that refused to support Hillary Clinton’ return to the White House. Mueller’s indictment is the charm Blow has been seeking to remove the hex of resistance to the established duopoly. Blow quotes Mueller’s document: “On or about October 16, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used the Instagram account ‘Woke Blacks’ to post the following message: ‘Particular hype and hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.’”

“The political crime has been defined, for the broad purpose of repressing dissent in the United States.”

These are the Russians’ words, but the sentiment is not at all alien to the contemporary and historical Black political conversation. Yet, for Blow, it is heresy and devilment to urge Black people to vote for third parties, or to refrain from voting. There ought’a be a law against it! — or some string of words that can be made to sound like a law. “What happened in this election wasn’t just a political crime, it was specifically a racialized crime, and the black vote was a central target,” wrote Blow.

Blacks that refuse to forgive the Clintons for mass incarcerating and dehumanizing our people are guilty of Black voter suppression and deemed dupes of both Trump and the Kremlin. To prove that anti-Clinton Blacks are in league with foreign and domestic devils, Blow quotes a Trump operative who bragged that the Republican campaign reminded Black voters about Hillary Clinton’s “suggestion that some African-American males are ‘super predators,’” in order to discourage them from voting. Mueller’s legal framework requires that we forgive such trivial history as mass Black incarceration.

Black Bernie Sanders activists are co-conspirators, in Blow’s view: “Even after Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, rapper Killer Mike, a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, was still promoting the position that ‘If you’re voting for Trump or Hillary Clinton, you’re voting for the same thing.’”

Which is true, in that both are corporate capitalist politicians and warmongering racists that don’t deserve the vote of any decent person. But, saying so can now be construed as giving “aid and comfort” to a foreign “enemy” – either directly to Putin or to his “surrogate,” Trump. It must be a crime, because “the Russians” were indicted for it, right? Mueller’s “law” spells it out: “In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.”

“Blacks that refuse to forgive the Clintons for mass incarcerating and dehumanizing our people are guilty of Black voter suppression and deemed dupes of both Trump and the Kremlin.”

Funny thing, though: the Democrats refused to cite the Republicans’ systematic, mass suppression of Black voters through the Cross Check scheme which, as Margaret Kimberley points out in this week’s Freedom Rider, caused 400,000 heavily Black votes to disappear in Michigan. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein called for a recount in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and found that Black voter suppression was a major factor, particularly in Detroit. “We are seeing again this evidence in Michigan that communities of color are systematically disenfranchised through the machinery that constitutes really another form of electoral Jim Crow,” Stein told The Guardian . “It’s pretty staggering. Eighty-seven optical scanners [in Detroit] broke on election day.”

The Democratic Party reluctantly added its name to the recount petition, while at the same time claiming it had seen no “actionable evidence ” of grounds for challenging Trump’s victory. But that’s par for the course. The Democrats have never confronted the GOP’s blatant theft of elections through massive suppression of Black votes. They are bound, apparently, by a gentleman’s agreement among the two parties. John Lewis, the Black congressman from Atlanta who wears his voting rights credentials like a robe of glory, abides by that agreementThe first thing out of Lewis’ mouth after Trump was declared the winner, in November, was a denunciation of “the Russians” – but not Black voter suppression by Republicans.

“The Democrats have never confronted the GOP’s blatant theft of elections through massive suppression of Black votes.”

Roughly one year later, Jill Stein — who fought Black voter suppression harder than the Democrats — was targeted for investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee as a possible collaborator with the Russians .

The suppression of the franchise of their Black base is not considered “treason” or any kind of “high crime” by the Democratic Party, but the siphoning of Black votes away from the corporate duopoly, through voluntary non-voting or support of third parties, is cause to bring out the pitchforks.

Under the Mueller legal formula, there are many more potential co-conspirators. The highest political crimes are “sowing discord” and “spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general” – for which one can theoretically go to prison, if you are a foreigner (Russian, not Israeli), or become an unindicted party to the charge, if American.

The Republicans, of course, have been sowing racial discord as a matter of policy ever since they adopted their “Southern Strategy” in 1968, and it’s been key to their success ever since. The United States is the nation that invented apartheid, and has served as a model for racists around the world. Racial discord is part of its DNA, and is the principal reason for the historical lack of a social contract and the weakness of the Left in this country. Corporate political hegemony would not exist in the U.S., were it not for the endemic nature of white supremacy in this society. The Russians have nothing to do with it — especially the Russian amateurs from St. Petersburg.

The suppression of the franchise of their Black base is not considered ‘treason’ or any kind of ‘high crime’ by the Democratic Party.”

The cabal has flipped the factual script. It was the Democrats and their allies in corporate media and the national security state that devised a calculated campaign to sow “discord” and “distrust towards the political system in general,” such as not seen in living memory. The initial goal was to depose or discipline the unpredictable, racist billionaire who in 2016 crushed the establishment leaders of the Republican Party — potentially destabilizing the duopoly system of corporate governance — rhetorically rejected the dogma of “free trade,” and spoke as if he would not maintain the momentum of his predecessor’s global military offensive. With the “intelligence community” on point, the political offensive could not help but take on the characteristics of a profoundly destabilizing regime change and psychological operations mission.

In other words, the ruling circles of the imperial superpower set out to destabilize and call into disrepute the sitting government of the home country. They have inflicted great trauma and anxiety among the public in the process, but thanks to the corporate media component of the cabal, most of the blame has accrued to the targets of the campaign: Trump, “the Russians” and those defamed as “dupes” and “co-conspirators” with the fictitious Putin-Trump axis.

It is quite evident that this campaign of self-inflicted chaos is a project of the global corporate class, manifesting elsewhere in the “West” in remarkably similar fashion, but with local characteristics. Russia is, thus, charged with attempting to subvert governments around the world through minions like the St. Petersburg outfit. Through their servants in the Democratic Party, the corporate media, and the intelligence agencies, multinational capital has used Trump’s election to inflict a kind of shock treatment on their domestic polities — a very dangerous gambit, especially in the United States, with its weak social contract and immense capacity for civil violence.

“With the ‘intelligence community’ on point, the political offensive could not help but take on the characteristics of a profoundly destabilizing regime change and psychological operations campaign.”

More dangerous, is the whipping up of war fever based on Russia’s non-existent aggressions (Ukraine, Syria) and fabricated ambitions (the demise of the “West”).

We can be confident in blaming this politically engineered horror on the dominate elements of the U.S. capitalist ruling class, since they could surely call the project to a halt if it were merely a “rogue” enterprise mounted by a small section of their class-mates. Capital is using Russiagate to inflict extreme shocks to the very political system they claim to be defending. The trauma is necessary, they believe, because capital has nothing to offer to the masses of people, and must therefore dramatically weaken or destroy the political mechanisms through which the people make demands on the rulers. They are preparing the landscape for a regime of permanent austerity and war, and plan to suppress all opposition on the Left. That’s why Black Agenda Report and a dozen other Left web sites were named and defamed as Russian fellow travelers and purveyors of “fake news” by the Washington Post, the plaything of the CIA-partnered oligarch, Jeff Bezos.

A lot has happened in the space of a little over a year. Based on Russiagate-era interpretations of “law” and civil propriety, free speech is in the political eye of the corporate owners of media. The shrinking of the digital world that is accessible to the Left is well underway, with no workable alternatives in sight.

The Russiagate express keeps on rolling, despite the fact there is still no evidence for the original contention, that “the Russians” and Vladimir Putin conspired to steal and reveal the emails of the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, emphasized that there is no evidence that any actual votes were altered or tampered with in the 2016 presidential election. No matter. The Democrats keep imagining other “Pearl Harbors” worthy of going to war over, because their project is to harden the political system for endless war and austerity.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .

As Symbols of White Supremacy Continue to Fall, Our Movement Grows Stronger February 19, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Racism, Uncategorized.
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No matter the outcome in court – we are more determined than ever

 

February 19, 2018 marks the beginning of eight trials in Durham County district court.

Our trials begin six months after the people of Durham toppled their downtown Confederate monument. The removal of the statue on August 14, 2017, took place during a vigil and rally with hundreds present, two days after the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA.

Two days earlier, we had watched in horror as dozens of anti-racist protesters were injured, and one, Heather Heyer, killed when a white supremacist member of the American Vanguard Party drove his car into a crowd.  Many Durham anti-racist fighters had been in the streets of Charlottesville that day, returning with trauma and scars inflicted by the violent white nationalists who occupied and terrorized the town.  We in Durham were determined that such actions could not go unanswered, could not go unchallenged.

Today we face these charges head on. And in turn, we charge the system itself with racism, violence, and complicity in violence against Black and Brown people that has gone on for centuries.

In January, we scored a major victory when our movement beat back the felony riot charges – we did this with statements of supports from unions, churches, and community organizations from around the country, with protest and petitions, and thousands of phone calls to Durham officials demanding – Drop the Charges!  Toppling Racism is not a Crime!  Today we stand trial on three misdemeanor charges: defacing a public building or monument; conspiracy to deface a public building or monument; injury to real property.

We are gratified that two weeks ago, we won a major victory when all charges were dropped against those who were arrested in connection to the righteous community defense uprising on August 18th when the Klan announced it would be marching on Durham, and over 1,000 residents of Durham flooded the streets to say NO to the Klan!

We want to uplift that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Orangeburg massacre.  On February 8, 1968 over 200 students from South Carolina State University, an HBCU, gathered to protest against racial segregation and police violence.  The state highway patrol opened fire, injuring 27, and killing three Black men.  Samuel Hammond.  Henry Smith.  And Delano Middleton, a high school student.  We honor their sacrifice with our actions, and pledge to continue in this struggle against racism and white supremacy – in our public spaces, and in the police force.

It also marks the 39th anniversary of the Greensboro Massacre, when Black and White workers boldly challenged the Klan and white power structure of Greensboro and were met with deadly violence.  That day local law enforcement turned a blind eye as the Klan opened fire, injuring 12 and killing 5 workers rights activists. Even though the entire incident was recorded on video, there were no convictions, every Klan member was aquitted.  We honor their memory today.

As we head to court, we are buoyed by the strength and determination of being part of an unrelenting peoples movement for justice. We are walking in the legacy of many freedom fighters that have come before us.  They give us the strength and determination to continue to fight racist jails, racist courts, the racism of Durham’s eviction crisis, brought on by gentrification.  We will not stop until white supremacy and all forms of oppression and exploitation are defeated.  No matter the outcome of the trial, our movements will push forward with more resolve than ever.

We call upon people of conscious to stand with us to work together to bring down the symbols of sites of white supremacy and terror against Black and Brown people.  Each day that we struggle brings us one step closer to our liberation, to the day that this system will be dismantled root and branch. Flowers of resistance are blooming from coast to coast – particularly to fight back against the Trump administration’s wide-ranging attacks, but more generally against a system that wants to crush us – and that is precisely why the state is continuing to pursue these charges.  Durham set an example on August 14, showing that people have the power and that is a dangerous prospect for the continued existence of the prevailing white power structures.

After our January court appearance, 100 people gathered for a People’s Tribunal to put on trial the real crimes of this society. Attendees mocked a justice system that lets the sheriff’s department off the hook for half a dozen jail deaths, while targeting organizers for fighting a murderous system.  Durham chooses to spend tens of thousand of dollars prosecuting anti-racist fighters rather than ensure the material well-being of its residents through housing, jobs, and quality public education.  Durham routinely sides with corporations and slumlords rather than its own working families. At the end of the Tribunal, attendees came forth with a unanimous verdict: this system is guilty as hell! And we will not stop in our efforts to deliver this verdict through bold actions and mass organizing.

In the past weeks and months, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, NC Governor Roy Cooper, and other officials have all made statements calling for the removal of these racist statues. But words alone are not enough. The people who are most directly affected by the existence of the many symbols to white supremacy that still stand need to be the ones that come together to take action to rid them from our communities once and for all.

Our time has come! Our movement will continue until the symbols of white supremacy and the system that upholds them are where they belong: in the dustbin of history.

#DoItLikeDurham

#SmashWhiteSupremacy

Solidarity with the Government and the People of Bolivarian Venezuela February 16, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Latin America, Uncategorized, Venezuela.
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Roger’s note: here’s a perspective on Venezuela you’re not getting from the whoring American mainstream media.  From Fox News to the New York Times the drum beats for diplomatic if not outright literal war on Venezuela continue to escalate.  Of course, there is corruption in the Venezuelan government, but nowhere near that of its Latino neighbors, not to mention the thoroughly and disgustingly fraudulent United States government.  Of course there are excesses in dealing with the opposition.  Of course there is mismanagement of the economy.  Just as there was for the nascent Soviet government when it was attacked on all sides by the imperialist governments of the United States, England and France.  But the fact remains that there is no opposition to the Maduro government other than that of the ultra right; and a victory therein will mean a return to the degenerate and destructive Neo-liberalism of the recent past.  No one in their right mind can support that.

 

Solidarity with the Government and the People of Bolivarian Venezuela
Photo: Bill Hackwell
February 14, 2018

The U.S. government is not slowing in its attempt to annihilate the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela in order to seize the enormous wealth of that country and to strike an unprecedented blow on all of Latin America. To do so it is sparing no effort.

In 2015, the previous administration decreed that Venezuela constituted “an unusual danger for the National Security of the United States of America”. As absurd as the decree is it remains in force today. This was implemented without Venezuela ever having threatened any country. Since Hugo Chavez assumed power in 1999 there has been a steady drum beat of war plans emanating from Washington.

The interference against Venezuela has intensified after the election of Trump by renewing Obama’s decree in January 2017 and orchestrating threats from the Organization of American States (OAS) through the buffoon of that imperial court Luis Almagro with the application of the Democratic Charter during the months of February and March. In April, extreme violent groups caused more than 100 deaths.

The siege and economic pressure is growing with a fierce media campaign of discrediting the democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro on an international scale with no recognition of the country’s democratic institutions.

The media lies do not take into account all of the 19 electoral processes carried out by the Bolivarian government nor the efforts to bring to the table a dialogue with the opposition that is best characterized by its dependence and servitude to imperialism. Venezuela recently gave a democratic civics lesson to all with the sovereign decision of the people by electing the National Constituent Assembly that has now set a general election date for April 22.

It is in this context that the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently toured Latin American countries with the main objective of lining them up to increase pressure for a military coup specifically in Venezuela but to also resurrect the Monroe Doctrine for the entire region with the infamous imperial phrase, “America for the Americans”; a true reflection of their aspirations for intervention and domination.
The pressure and exchange of favors with the subservient governments of Latin America resulted in the pathetic declaration of February 13 of the Lima Group, which supported the decision of the corrupt right-wing government of Peru to exclude Venezuela from the Summit of the Americas.

The empire is relying on the corrupt coup plotters like Temer and Macri, the fraudulent murderers like Hernández in Honduras, right-wingers involved in corruption up to their necks like Cartes of Paraguay and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from Peru. And then there is Santos who is responsible for the continuation of the paramilitary death squads in Colombia. These are the scum who the Empire are relying on with total cynicism to denigrate Venezuela about democracy and human rights, all of whom will sooner or later be judged by their own people.

We call on International Solidarity to keep alert and be in permanent mobilization in the face of the real danger of a provocation on the borders of Venezuela, aimed at creating a conflict that will give a justification for a multinational military intervention. We call for unrestricted support for the Bolivarian government of Venezuela, the candidacy of President Nicolás Maduro and the holding of elections on April 22.

More than ever, the Proclamation of CELAC that “Latin America is a Zone of Peace” must prevail.
International Committee Peace, Justice and Dignity

DACA Joins the Mad Rush to War January 31, 2018

Posted by rogerhollander in armaments, democrats, Imperialism, Republicans, Uncategorized, War.
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Roger’s note: I had to chuckle when I read about some worthy progressives who, in response to Schumer’s treasonous betrayal of the Dreamers, were threatening to leave the Democratic Party.  As if there was anything that progressive about the Congressional Democrats in recent memory.  I  myself left the Democratic Party in 1965 after “peace candidate” Lyndon Baines Johnson demonstrated his bona fides by proceeding to bomb the hell out of Vietnam, with Democratic Congressmen dragging their tails behind.

In the November 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats took control of Congress, which created high expectations for the rapid end to George W. Bush’s military adventures in the Middle East.  That Congress and eight years of Obama’s escalations in the Middle East (seven countries, that we’re aware of) later, we’re still waiting.

With well over a hundred military bases spread around the globe, over 600 billion dollars in military expenditures (over half of the country’s discretionary spending), and enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world a dozen times over, the United States imperial adventure is mind boggling to say the least.

One war party in this proud nation: Democratic/Republican.

“Measured in military dollars, the Democratic leadership is more warlike than the Trump administration.”

The top Democrats in Congress have transformed DACA, the effort to protect 800,000 childhood immigrants from deportation, into a gargantuan funding measure for the Pentagon. This past weekend, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer offered to fully fund Donald Trump’s border wall and boost defense spending “far above ” what the White House requested, in a deal to end the government shutdown. The military budget signed into law in December was already $30 billion higher than the White House asked for, and $80 billion bigger than the previous year’s war spending — an increase as large as Russia’s entire defense budget.

It is Democratic congressional leadership — not Donald Trump and his mad generals — that has been the driving force in this year’s military spending insanity. Back in July, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pressured her party to back a defense authorization $57.4 billion bigger than the Pentagon requested. Only a minority of Democratic House members supported the measure, but a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) followed Pelosi’s lead — including all five of the newest members of the Black Caucus, elected in 2016. By inflating the war budget even beyond the Pentagon’s demands, these Pelosi-Schumer-CBC Democrats ensured that what remains of the social safety net will be slashed into oblivion by bipartisan forces of austerity in future Congresses.

“House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pressured her party to back a defense authorization $57.4 billion bigger than the Pentagon requested.”

The Bernie Sanders faction of the Party is just as guilty, through its shameful silence on war. This group includes Our Revolution, whose purportedly “progressive” agenda suggests only that they would “take a hard look at the Pentagon’s budget and the priorities it has established.”

The imperial fist is inexorably crushing the domestic welfare agencies of government. The Democrats’ task in this infernal process is to coax their constituents to swallow the “Satan’s Sandwiches” that emerge from Congress — as suggested by Black Kansas City Rep. Emanuel Cleaver back in 2011, when Barack Obama was presenting his “Grand Bargain” to the Republicans. Having put “all entitlements” on the table for cutting at the start of his presidency, Obama proceeded to wage expensive wars against seven countries. His Grand Bargain offered even larger social cuts than the Republicans demanded, before finally unraveling in the morass of Capitol Hill. Democratic leadership is still seeking that “bargain” with the GOP, knowing full well that it will be paid for by more austerity for people’s programs.

“DACA becomes the excuse to funnel additional tens of billions to the Pentagon.”

The result is both predictable and intended: the military budget expands to consume ever greater proportions of federal “discretionary” spending — that is, moneys not locked into mandated programs like Social Security. Finally, the public is told there is “no choice” but to tap into Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare — as Obama signaled at very the beginning of his presidency, and attempted to pull off in his first term in office.

Schumer and Pelosi have been throwing money at the Pentagon with abandon this year because both wings of the War Party (Democrat and Republican) are anxious to maintain the momentum of Obama’s global military offensive, after the unexpected defeat of the reliable warmonger, Hillary Clinton. That’s why, measured in military dollars, the Democratic leadership is more warlike than the Trump administration. Not trusting Trump to keep the pressure on Moscow, Beijing and any other “threat” to U.S. hegemony, the bipartisan political servants of empire flood the Pentagon with money and poison the political discourse with Russiagate. Although there are clear conflicts within the U.S. ruling class, in general the Lords of Capital appear at this juncture to be more concerned with terrorizing the world than maintaining domestic peace. Schumer and Pelosi were instructed, accordingly.

“Both wings of the War Party are anxious to maintain the momentum of Obama’s global military offensive.”

The Democrats’ cynicism is boundless. DACA, which has great political value to a key constituency but no monetary price tag, becomes the excuse to funnel additional tens of billions to the Pentagon — on top of previous increases — while enhancing Democratic election prospects in 2018 and 2020.

The Democrats can be expected to repeat the formula. If not DACA, any symbolic program will suffice as a political battle flag to rally the various Party constituencies while simultaneously boosting the flow of cash to the war machine.

And they’ll call it “resistance.” But it’s the kind of resistance that is useless when, as Dr. Martin Luther King observed, the “demonic destructive suction tube” of war spending comes to claim its ever-larger share of the budget.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .