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War Talk from the Mad Monk: Tony Abbott goes to Taiwan

No one can stop him.  He can barely stop himself.  The former Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, seems to be everywhere, fighting the poor cause.  At the very least, he is everywhere with the press cameras, the niggling concerns, the irritations that make it into the twenty-four-hour news cycle before sinking with toxic charm.  He is the perfect ingredient in a stew of conflict, the agitator, the irritant.

The range of issues that have seen his intervention have taken him to conservative, often reactionary fora, the world over.  He has given a gloss of legitimacy to the Great Replacement theory, worried …

Empty Gestures or Substantive Change? On the Nobel Prize in Literature and Its Discontents

The fact that Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah has won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature is welcome news, especially as the Swedish Academy is historically known for lacking in diversity, as if intellectual creativity is largely confined to Western intellectual circles.

It is premature to suggest that the Academy has finally decided to break away from its ethnocentric past and genuinely embrace the incredible literature constantly originating from the Global South. One can be excused for appearing too cynical – after all, since its inception in 1901, over 80% of those who have received the award hail from …

The Banners of the King of Hell Advance

Vexilla regis prodeunt Inferni

— Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: The Inferno

Try to look ahead and see if you can see what’s been coming for decades.  Try to climb higher and see the beautiful things that Heaven bears, where we came forth, and once more see the stars and raise a banner of resistance to the King of Hell and all his henchmen. For they are here, and working hard as usual, and indifference will only strengthen their resolve.  Don’t be deceived by these digital demons.  They want to make you think they …

Colin Powell’s Own Staff Had Warned Him Against His War Lies

In the wake of WMD-liar Curveball’s videotaped confession, Colin Powell was demanding to know why nobody warned him about Curveball’s unreliability. The trouble is, they did.

Can you imagine having an opportunity to address the United Nations Security Council about a matter of great global importance, with all the world’s media watching, and using it to… well, to make shit up – to lie with a straight face, and with a CIA director propped up behind you, I mean to spew one world-class, for-the-record-books stream of bull, to utter nary a breath without a couple of whoppers …

Discontent by Design: The Lost World of the West

A cursory glance at the ‘State of the World’ reveals what a mess things are: from the environmental emergency and war to injustice and poverty, a tightly woven man-made mess of interconnected issues, unprecedented in scale.

The greatest crisis of all, however, is humanity, and the culture that we, specifically ‘The West’, have built and are wedded to. The Culture of Pleasure sits tightly within and feeds the pervasive Ideology of Consumerism, a socio-economic model that has  poisoned the environment and led to the commodification of everything, and everyone.

While there are counter trends with people living simpler, more responsible lives, broadly …

Unholy Trinity: Medicine, Science, and Corporate Power

This one goes out to all of you who still “trust the science.” 
Edward Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. He was a public relations pioneer, one of America’s most innovative social engineers, and the author of a 1928 book brazenly entitled Propaganda. In 1929, Bernays was hired by the American Tobacco Company to persuade women to take up cigarette smoking. His slogan, “Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet,” exploited women’s fear of gaining weight (a concern purposefully manufactured through previous advertising and/or public relations …

Persistent Desperation of Charter School Promoters

Promoters of privately-operated charter schools have continually sought to justify the existence and expansion of charter schools since their inception 30 years ago in Minnesota. In and of itself this is curious because if charter schools are supposedly so successful and so much better than public schools, as charter school promoters endlessly like to boast, then what need is there to constantly try to justify and defend the value and superiority of charter schools over public schools? Usually when something is excellent and has a great track record, it speaks for …

The Age of Chatham House and the British Roots of NATO

With the expulsion of half of Russian’s diplomatic delegation to NATO, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Dimitry Peskov stated that “NATO is not an instrument of cooperation, not an instrument for interaction; it is a bloc that overall is anti-Russian in nature… These actions, of course, do not allow us to pretend there is a possibility of normalizing relations and resuming dialogue with NATO. Instead, these prospects are undermined almost completely.”

Unfortunately, with these and other belligerent actions which are propelling the world ever closer to WWIII, too many onlookers continue to see NATO as a purely American imperial institution without any …

China and Japan Show Signs of a Closer Relationship

When Japan selected its new prime minister Fumio Kishida on 4 October 2021, there were concerns that his known conservative views did not augur well for Japan’s relationship with China. Thus far, however, those fears appear to have been overly pessimistic. Four days ago on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Japan formal diplomatic ties, the Japanese Prime Minister telephoned his Chinese counterpart.

By all accounts, the conversation was very friendly. For his part Xi noted that Japan and China were close neighbours and he cited an ancient Chinese saying that good neighbourliness is a treasure of a country. He made the …

Cheap Grace and Climate Change: Australia and COP26

It was not for everybody, but the shock advertising tactics of the Australian comedian Dan Ilic made an appropriate point.  Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a famed coal hugger, has vacillated about whether to even go to the climate conference in Glasgow.  Having himself turned the country’s prime ministerial office into an extended advertising agency, Ilic was speaking his language.

The language was promoted through sponsored imagery in Times Square, New York, with advertising space purchased by a crowdfunding campaign of considerable success.  Billboards featured the prime minister as a “Coal-o-phile Dundee”, mercilessly mocked Australia’s climate policies and responses to the …

Free Alex Saab Delegation at the African Bar Association

An international Free Alex Saab delegation attended the October 3-7 annual meeting of the African Bar Association in Niamey, Niger. Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab has been under arrest in Cabo Verde since June 2020 by orders of the US and is fighting extradition to Miami. His “crime” is organizing humanitarian missions to procure food and medicine for Venezuela in violation of the illegal US blockade.

The Free Alex Saab delegation was composed of Canadian John Philpot, a lawyer specializing in international law, who represented the American Association of Jurists and …

Reporter’s Alert: Part VI

Reporters at major newspapers and magazines are hard to reach by telephone. Today it is increasingly hard to converse with them about timely scoops, leads, gaps in coverage, and corrections to published articles.

We started an online webpage: Reporter’s Alert. From time to time, we use Reporter’s Alert to present suggestions for important reporting on topics that are either not covered or not covered thoroughly. Reporting that just nibbles on the periphery won’t attract much public attention or be noticed by decision-makers. Here is the sixth installment of suggestions:

1. More states …

News on China | No. 71

This week’s News on China in 2 minutes.

Funeral Rites for COVID Zero

It was such a noble public health dream, even if rather hazy to begin with.  Run down SARS-CoV-2.  Suppress it.  Crush it.  Or just “flatten the curve”, which could have meant versions of all the above.  This created a climate of numerical sensitivity: a few case infections here, a few cases there, would warrant immediate, sharp lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the closure of all non-vital service outlets.

Then came mutations and variants.  Delta became the word mentioned like a terrorist saboteur, placing bombs under the edifice of the health system.  The pro-market factions within governments receptive to using lockdown formulas could claim …

Captives of Coca-Cola

Ad for Coca-Cola on wallIn July 2018 the attention of The New York Times and then Esquire magazine was somehow drawn to a mountain town in southern Mexico and the truly remarkable amount of Coca-Cola drunk by its residents. The British Broadcasting Corporation has produced a documentary on the same topic.

The town is San Cristobal, in the Central Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest and southernmost state. A third of its quarter-million or so residents are of Mayan descent. Their average per capita daily consumption of ‘the friendliest drink …

Women Hold Up More Than Half the Sky

Junaina Muhammed (India) / Young Socialist Artists, A woman working in the korai fields, where women often work from a young age to earn a living.

Reminder: Indian peasants and agricultural workers remain in the midst of a country-wide agitation sparked by the proposal of three farm bills that were then signed into law by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party government in September 2020. In June 2021, our dossier summarised the situation plainly:

It is clear that …

That Time My Pediatrician Lied to “do no harm”

Once upon a time, I had a pediatrician who made house calls — complete with a little black bag. Dr. Harris practically became part of the family after my older sister was born. This was an age when doctors really got to know their patients. They also weren’t in a hurry to prescribe meds or suggest surgeries. Sometimes, they’d even go out on a limb and make moves that would be unimaginable today. Here’s a story about one of those moments.
After being told she’d never have a second child, …

Abandoning Yemen?

United Nations Human Rights Council action silences Yemeni  victims of human rights abuses.

Monday, October 11, marked the official closure of the U.N. Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (also known as the Group of Experts or GEE). For nearly four years, this investigative group examined alleged human rights abuses suffered by Yemenis whose basic rights to food, shelter, safety, health care and education were horribly violated, all while they were bludgeoned by Saudi and U.S. air strikes, drone attacks, and constant warfare since 2014.

“This is a major setback for all victims who have suffered serious violations during the armed conflict,” the GEE wrote in a statement the day …

Back at Ground-Truthing Again and Again and Again

we cover all those international stories, all those big time national stories, but the rot is from the top down, into the bowels of "we the ordinary people"

Time and time again, the left sites just keep pushing all those international stories, all those stories tied to this or that political party head, and while China is important, and while we know the dirty deeds of Blinken to Pompeo, all the way back, we still miss out on the common people, us, the little ones.

Sure, this is a trending story, in California, tied to the vaccine mandate, the hysteria, the fascism:

The University of California, Irvine has placed their Director of Medical EthicsDr. Aaron Kheriaty, on ‘investigatory leave’ after he challenged the constitutionality

Build Back Better Legislation: New Keynesianism or Neoliberal Public Relations Stunt? 

For more than a week the country has been caught up in the ongoing melodrama of the “Build Back Better” (BBB) legislation, the Democrat Party’s “social investment” bill now languishing in the House because of the inability of the Democrats to come to an agreement. The fight is characterized by the corporate media as an intra-party struggle between the emerging “progressive/left” pole of the Party and the “center,” represented by the recalcitrant neoliberal corporate Democrats in the persons of Senators Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

But the media’s tendency to reduce this struggle to a battle …

French Finance Minister Issues Declaration of Independence from the U.S.

“Clear Differences Remain Between France and the U.S, French Minister Says,” is the headline to a remarkable  piece appearing in the New York Times today.  The Minister, Bruno Le Maire, is brutally frank on the nature of the differences as the quotations below Illustrate.  (Emphases in the quotations are writer’s.) In fact, they amount to a Declaration of Independence of France and EU from the U.S.

It is not surprising that the differences relate to China after the brouhaha over the sale of U.S. nuclear submarines to Australia and the surprising (to the French) cancellation of contracts with France for …

Code Red on FacingFuture.TV  

FacingFuture.TV recently hosted a preview of the upcoming IPCC 2021 UN climate report, which report guides the gathering of dignitaries from around the world meeting in Glasgow this November to discuss, analyze, and decide how to deal with global warming/climate change.

According to the Code Red interview, the IPCC is taking off its ultra conservative facemask of prior years to reveal a surly cantankerous grim sneer on a darkened background. In short, climate change is much worse than the IPCC has previously been willing to admit.

The FacingFuture.TV interview features Mark Andersen, CEO of Strategic News Service, Brian Wright a natural medicine …

Heroes or Parasites: Europe’s Self-serving Politics on Refugees

Language is politics and politics is power. This is why the misuse of language is particularly disturbing, especially when the innocent and vulnerable pay the price.

The wars in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern, Asian and African countries in recent years have resulted in one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes, arguably unseen since World War II. Instead of developing a unified global strategy that places the welfare of the refugees of these conflicts as a top priority, many countries ignored them altogether, blamed them for their own misery and, …

Waking up to Climate Change Dinosaurs

Morning listening on October 13.  Australia’s Radio National.  Members of the Morrison government are doing their interview rounds with the host, Fran Kelly.  We enter a time warp, speeding away into another dimension where planet Earth, and Australia, look different.

The first interview, with Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, is filled with the sort of rejigged reality that is less mind expansion than contraction.   It is easy to forget that she is a member of the government.  She tells listeners that her constituents and the electorate she represented were not interested in climate change or its effects.  A bold, quixotic reading.  …

The Great New Normal Purge

So, the Great New Normal Purge has begun … right on cue, right by the numbers.

As we “paranoid conspiracy theorists” have been warning would happen for the past 18 months, people who refuse to convert to the new official ideology are now being segregated, stripped of their jobs, banned from attending schools, denied medical treatment, and otherwise persecuted.

Relentless official propaganda demonizing “the Unvaccinated” is being pumped out by the corporate and …

What Does Health Care For All Look Like in Nicaragua?

Since the Sandinistas returned to power in January 2007, child malnutrition has dropped by 45% for children under five and by 66% for children ages 6-12.

I’d like you to imagine for a moment that you are the parent of a child with asthma, living in Ciudad Sandino, just outside the capital of Nicaragua, in a barrio called Nueva Vida, which was recently founded after your family – along with 1,200 other families – was flooded out of your home along the lakeshore in Managua during Hurricane Mitch. The year …

Free Indigenous Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier

In this special Indigenous Peoples’ Day episode of Rattling the Bars, TRNN Executive Producer Eddie Conway speaks with author and activist Ward Churchill about the wrongful imprisonment and deteriorating health of Indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier. A member of the American Indian Movement who was sent to prison in 1977 after a dubious trial sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences, Peltier’s continued imprisonment remains a stain on our “criminal justice” system.

No Substantive Economic Recovery In Sight

One of the fundamental economic laws under capitalism is for wealth to become more concentrated in fewer hands over time, which in turn leads to more political power in fewer hands, which means that the majority have even less political and economic power over time. Monopoly in economics means monopoly in politics. It is the opposite of an inclusive, democratic, modern, healthy society. This retrogressive feature intrinsic to capitalism has been over-documented in thousands of reports and articles from hundreds of sources across the political and ideological spectrum over the last …

Resisting Fascism

A Review of Shane Burley’s Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse

The elevation of Donald Trump onto the national political stage in 2016 provoked a heated debate among centrist and left-wing commentators that has yet to be resolved (and likely never will be): do Trump and the Republican Party today represent a recrudescence of fascism, or is this a flawed historical analogy? Writers like Timothy Snyder and Jason Stanley insisted on the parallels between interwar fascism and the contemporary far-right, from demonization of ethnic “Others” to fomenting of violence against democratic institutions (as on January 6, 2021); writers such as Samuel Moyn …

Indigenous People’s Day Reminds Us To Acknowledge And Support Indigenous Struggles

Today is Indigenous Peoples Day. Across the country, a growing number of cities and states are recognizing this day in place of the traditional Columbus Day. This change reflects the growing awareness that holidays like Columbus Day are used to rewrite the past and uphold institutions of white supremacy, racism and settler colonialism. As Justin Teba writes, in Albuquerque, they issued a proclamation to recognize this as a day “ to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples on this land.”

I can only write from the perspective of …