Saturday, February 16, 2019

Green Cross Purposes: corporations horn their way into the GND

Arguably the most thoughtful, in-depth article yet on the subject of subversion of The Green New Deal appears as a five-part series by Cory Morningstar and Forest Palmer, on The Wrong Kind of Green blog. The article traces the manufacturing of consent needed in order to advance capitalist solutions to global warming coinciding with a time when the world economy has stagnated, and the financial markets are looking to create new kinds of profit-making enterprises. It addresses the sudden, recent phenomenon which has raised the stakes of world-wide recognition that the threat of climate change is real (let’s call it the true-blue climate movement) and exposes what forces are hidden behind another, corporate movement that has reached critical mass in a short enough time to arouse skepticism, and has co-opted Greta Thunberg as its point person, the Swedish school girl who was first photographed skipping school to hand out leaflets outside the Swedish Parliament outlining the perils of global warming to any willing takers but who became the poster girl for We Don’t Have Time, a new social media platform, which projects earnings in the billions of dollars. This by way, not of impugning Greta Thunberg or her motives, but of pointing up the danger when the youth movement behind the Green New Deal lets itself be co-opted by corporations riding its coattails, and out to make a buck.


Below we offer serious readers access to the five part-series, abbre- viating The Wrong Kind of Green headlines followed by their links:
ACT I  Greta Thunberg, the…face of the youth movement to combat climate change, serves as special youth advisor and trustee to the burgeoning mainstream tech start-up, “We Don’t Have Time”.  The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex Jan 17, 2019
ACT II …How today’s youth are the sacrificial lambs for the ruling elite…, introduc[ing] the board members and advisors to “We Don’t Have Time, ” (and)…explor[ing] the leadership in the nascent We Don’t Have Time and the partnerships between well-established corporate environmental entities: Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project,, Avaaz, Global Utmaning (Global Challenge), the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum (WEF).  The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: “The Inconvenient Truth” Behind Youth Cooptation Jan 21, 2019
ACT III  …How Al Gore and the planet’s most powerful capitalists are behind today’s manufactured youth movements and why, (and)…the We Don’t Have Time/Thunberg connections to Our Revolution, the Sanders Institute, This Is Zero Hour, the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal…. The generous media attention afforded to Thunberg…by SvD, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers. The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Most Inconvenient Truth: “Capitalism is in Danger of Falling Apart”  Jan 28, 2019
ACT IV  …The current campaign… “leading the public into emergency mode”, summariz[ing] who and what this mode is to serve. The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The House is On Fire! & the 90 Trillion Dollar Rescue Feb. 3, 2019
ACT V  …The Guardian and Extinction Rebellion (and) the Green New Deal, [all of which have] plans to go global in scale….How mainstream NGOs are attempting to safeguard their influence by going underground through Extinction Rebellion groups being organized in the US and across the world, [and] their weak and essentially non-existent demands….And how celebrity…has become a key tool for both capital and conformity.  The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The New Green Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature Feb. 13, 2019

Although the Morningstar/Palmer feature article ends there, we offer our readers a Sixth Act, an act that seeks to draw a dichotomy between those who recognize the need to subtract content—clearly a strategy antithetical to capitalism’s deeply entrenched unlimited growth Religion—and those who need to add content to guarantee profit. It is a distinction which draws the line between two schools of writing as well, the former calling on brevity to make its point.

The so-called Green New Deal is a non-binding Congressional resolution (read the text at Before addressing alternatives, let me point out one of the critical omissions in the current Resolution now before Congress, a current omission whose inclusion appears in an earlier draft of the Green New Deal Resolution, namely, first and foremost, the dangers of nuclear energy.  Is it at all possible that the nuclear lobby had something to do with this vitally important omission? (We remind our readers that nuclear energy has two problems: contrary to popular belief, it is highly carbon-intensive in the mining, milling, and uranium refining processes, as well as in the actual plant construction process; and there is no known way of safely disposing of radioactive waste which continues to pile up as a by-product of its technology.)

The Resolution shores up the continuation of the capitalist system, a system predicated on unlimited growth, which is killing the planet. Nowhere is there mention of de-growth, a phenomenon exemplified by Morningstar/Palmer by the drastically reduced carbon footprint of the homeless; but whereas no one willingly makes such a sacrifice (except perhaps Simon Weill), a life style predicated on consuming less cannot quite so easily be coopted, nor can it serve the goals of capitalism. It offers no profits, or promises of unlimited growth, but it may offer the makings of a more sustainable way of life.

Is it possible to wean an entire culture away from entrenched Capitalist Religion? José Mujica-Cordano (an actual atheist in real life) served five years as President of Uruguay, from 2010 to 2015. Born of a Basque father, and an Italian immigrant mother, his father died of hardship when José was only five; in his youth, his toughness allowed him to become a Tupamaro guerilla fighter until he was captured and served some 12 years in prison, two of them confined to the bottom of a cattle trough. But freed in a political amnesty when democracy was restored to Uruguay, and because of his resilience and his personal charisma, he eventually rose to be elected president with a stated salary of $12,000 dollars a month, 90% of which he preferred to give away to the poor and to encourage small business enterprises. He disdained the presidential palace, preferring to live simply on his wife’s chrysanthemum farm instead, where his sole declared wealth was a 1958 Beetle Volkswagen, and a three legged dog named Manuela (after Simon Bolivar’s fiery mistress). As a politician he legalized marijuana in Uruguay to foil the drug cartels and governed as a pragmatist, sidestepping dogma wherever possible.

Uruguay President Mujica-Cordano with Manuela
He voiced his principles in a 2013 speech to the UN General Assembly citing the necessity of efforts to preserve the planet for future generations and decrying the power of the capitalist financial system and its fallout on ordinary people.  Above all, he stressed the need to return to simplicity, to lives built on human relationships, love, friendship, adventure, solidarity and family instead of being governed by striving for economic advantage.

Shackled to Capitalist Religion, it is a challenge to imagine another way, one that allows personal dignity and self respect, and that bypasses corporate and governmental solutions. Regardless of whether or not “we have no time left,” a way that frees us to make do with much less, and from the need to acquire more, more comfort, more convenience, and more children; ways that encourage us to do what is right for the planet, and for all life on Earth, and to imagine the creation of a genuinely non-profit social media platform, one not linked to profit, to help us organize this new way of being.

The possibilities of such a platform are hallucinatory. Starting with the first building block of any society (agriculture) here is just this morning’s layout:

1. urban farmer (eating local)
            a) seed exchange
            b) produce exchange
            c) fertilizer and soil exchange
            d) surplus food exchange
2. neighborhood-centered categories designed to reduce transportation
3. barter exchange (bypassing the need for money)
            a) surplus goods
            b) services
            c) token scrip valorizing goods and services and facilitating transfer
4. volunteer exchange
            a) children    
            b) the aged
            c) the sick
5. generosity platform
6. cultural exchange
            a) books, learning tools, art supplies
            b) classes
            c) workshops: poetry, writing, journalism, music
            d) mentors
7. lists by       
            a) resources
            b) affinity groups
            c) organizations
            d) meetings
            e) locations
8. initiatives
            guaranteed minimum wage
            healthcare for all
            housing for all
9. cooperatives
            worker coop opportunities
            transitioning workshops
10. Rethinking radical means of conserving energy:
            (such as tying gyms and exercise facilities to the grid)

Evergreen worker-owned cooperativ

Such a template begins to suggest it is possible to live with much less, but only if the power of money is defeated. Change is possible, and much of it is already taking place, albeit in a disorganized way. 
To quote from The Wrong Kind of Green:
The crux of the corporate strategy document, Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement, is that citizens must first face, then accept that there is a life-threatening emergency in order to go into the necessary emergency mode. Once triggered, this enables the deployment of “a huge amount of resources toward solving the crisis” which would quickly become the clear, top priority for society. [p. 4 & p. 5] The more the climate movement provides “structures for people’s engagement — clear directions and support for people who are ready to tackle the climate emergency — the more people will go into emergency mode.”[p. 7] but “the collective energy of the west stemming from a growing societal discontent, is being captured and utilized [by corporations]…into a new weapon of choice that will aid the further colonization of the Global South.  A climate revolution in name only, this…[corporate-backed] emergency, has nothing to do with the protection of our Earth – or climate – and never will. Rather, it has everything to do with saving, protecting and expanding the capitalist economy – at the expense of our already decimated planet.”

Find a protest near you: Turn up! This is real at

Under a state of emergency, (as previous presidents have done) #45 can:

order the military to round up immigrants or stop protests in American cities;

order the killing or indefinite detention of anyone designated an ‘enemy;’

freeze assets and block financial transactions of anyone hiring legal representation to asylum seekers.

block access to websites and social media tools or disrupt e-mail communication.

Tell your Senators: No Nukes in the GND at

Contact your Senator to stand against #45’s power grab at

Please sign the PGE buy-out and public utility formation at

Please join the February 23 national mobilization to stop war in Venezuela at
or by joining the rally at Oscar Grant, 14th at Bway, Oakland at noon the 23rd.

Support the Green New Deal at

Urge Congress to save TPS and create roadmap to citizenship for all immigrants at

Stop ICE from Force feeding refugee hunger strikers (a form of torture) at

Read UNAC blog about what’s really happening in Venezuela at

Advocate for poor people to continue receiving food assistance at


Navajo First Nation produces energy powering 13,000 homes through solar.

Dutch company unveils world’s first pre-fab house made entirely of cannabis.

MacDonald’s agrees to reduce use of antibiotics to raise beef.

New report emphasizes climate change is urgent and calls for international treaty to address the problem.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline delayed to 2020 with Dominion adding $1 billion to cost estimate.

House committees hold hearing on climate change for first time in years while work of Russian scientists about Arctic methane is supressed.

Australian Judge strikes down coal mine in part because of carbon emissions.

Congressman Mike Levin kicks off task force to examine nuclear waste at California’s San Onofre (until now stored in Holtec thin-walled canisters with significant percentage of failure).

AOC and Markey unveil Green New Deal Resolution with strong support from progressives and backing from presidential candidates Sanders, Gillibrand, Warren and Bloomberg.

New legislation aims to avert Arctic giveaway to corporate polluters sneaked into GOP tax scam.

US sues Lockheed for alleged kickbacks at Nuclear cleanup site.

Energy Transfer Pipeline on hold after string of violations.

Energy Transfer’s $900 million lawsuit against Greenpeace and other water protectors thrown out of court.

Court rejects oil industry’s retaliatory lawsuit again LA youth groups.

Share of renewables in EU up 17.5% in 2017 with eleven member states already achieving the 2020 targets. (US lags way behind and needs serious nudging.)

LA Mayor Garcetti puts stop to rebuilding 3 LA gas-fired power plants,   moving LA closer to 100% renewables.

Ontario’s Independent Electricity SO asks Hydro One to upgrade transmission system to Ontario can buy low-cost water power from Canada.

PA Governor Wolf announces his administration to stop issuing construction permits to Energy Transfer Pipeline, including dangerous Mariner East project.

N. Mexico Bureau of Land Management calls for delay on sale of 1500 Chaco acres for oil and gas development after Food and Water Watch delivers 27,000 opposition signatures.

TVA board of directors votes to close last remaining unit as Paradise coal-fired power plant in Western Kentucky, ignoring #45’s pleas to keep it running.


Citing no border emergency, both governors of California and New Mexico order National Guard away from border.

After not striking for 25 years, after three-day strike Denver teachers in nations-wide #RedForEd Movement win concessions.

In effort to fight climate change and malnutrition, influential investors add voices to chorus of health professionals calling for radical changes to agriculture.

In New York's Guggenheim Museum, chanting ‘Lock ‘em up,’ demonstra- tors drop thousands of white slips designed to mimic OxyContin prescriptions, highlighting the Sackler family’s role in fueling the opioid epidemic.

Black Lives Matter-Louisville and other organizations in KY, buy homes for single mom homemakers.

Anticipating shut down, airport workers plan mass protests in 80 major cities.

Dr. Mubarak Awad, founder of Nonviolence International speaks at DC protest against incarceration of both immigrant youth at the border and in Florida and Palestinian youth by Israel.

NY State Indivisible talks up state campaign finance reform; Indivisible Oregon joins clean energy jobs lobby day; Indivisible Maryland plans to expand voting access by mail; and Indivisible AZ packs statehouse and protests package of voter suppression bills.

Colombia Red Cross refuses distribution of any US aid, insisting that US action in Venezuela is not  ‘Humanitarian Aid.’

15 activists make hole in perimeter fence, chain themselves all night to UK plane about to deport people to West Africa.

With 3 killed, Haiti protests swell against inflation and demand that President Moise resign.

Protests force Amazon to look outside Queens for location of satellite spot.

Black Alliance for Peace vows never to abandon Venezuela where many Afro-Venezuelans reside.

Anchor Steam workers sign union cards.

UK headteachers union backs student #ClimateStrike.

AMLO’s election raises hope of millions of Mexican workers, supporting their strikes.

Mountain Valley Pipeline tree sitters save forest with tree sit of over 156 days.

Baltimore City Council unanimously passes bill forcing city’s Wheelbrator trash incinerator dramatically to reduce pollution emissions or shut down entirely.

West Virginia teachers and school staff overwhelmingly authorize work ‘action.’

Johns Hopkins latest plan for police force prompts student-faculty protest.

“Resist Rockwool’ holds sit-in at Sen Manchin’s office.

Domestic Affairs

US sues Lockheed for alleged kickbacks at Hanford nuclear cleanup site.

AOC and Markey unveil Green New Deal Resolution with backing from presidential candidates Sanders, Gillibrand, Warren and Bloomberg and strong progressive support.

TVA board of directors votes to close last remaining unit of Paradise coal-fired power plant in Western Kentucky, ignoring #45’s pleas to keep it running.

New legislation aims to avert Arctic giveaway to corporate polluters sneaked into GOP tax scam.

Sanders introduces bill expanding Social Security to ensure dignity for the most vulnerabe, the aged and disabled.

Five incumbent GOP legislators resign seats in Congress including Marino (R-PA) and Woodall (R-GA).

Sen. Patty Murphy introduces National Classified School District of the Year award.

Sens. Espallat, Serrano, Bonamici, Beyer, Jayapal, and Garcia introduce Protecting Sensitive Locations Act.

Sen. Schatz (D-HI) introduces Census IDEA Act.

Reps Rochester, Castor, Kildea, and McBath introduce MORE Health Education Act.

Democrats in Montana legislature introduce bill increasing penalty for assaulting a journalist from $500 to $5000 plus year in jail.

House committees hold hearing on climate change for first time in years, while Russian Arctic methane reseasrch is suppressed.

2019 NAACP Chairman’s Award to be presented to Maxine Waters.

Rep. Huffman introduces Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act restoring protections to Arctic Refuge.

Appeals court overturns FCC’s attempt to throw 70% low income people off broadband.

Baltimore state’s attorney declares her office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession.

Rep. Ilhan Omar applauded for grilling war terrorist psychopath and wanna-be Kissinger, Elliot Abrams over role in US-backed genocide, massacres,  and death squads in Central and Latin America.

Four dozen millionaires demand law makers pass a “multi-millionaires tax to benefit education.

Bill reforming Michigan’s asset forfeiture laws receives broad bipartisan support.

Senate votes 98-2 to extend key funding mechanism for national and local parks, totalling one million acres with the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Contra Costa rules in favor of releasing police records, now part of established California law.

Educators endorse safety measures: not arming teachers.

For fifth time, Colorado lawmakers try banning conversation therapy for minors.

Virginia cop suspended after anti-fascists expose his white supremacy group affinity.

House Democrat majority joined by handful of Republicans, passes resolution directing #45 to halt military assistance to Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthis in Yemen; approves War Powers Resolution to end US complicity in Yemen in historic vote.

Controversy over Venezuela regime change forces even right-wing chair of Committee, Eliot Engel to pronounce opposition to U.S. military ‘action’ (invasion) in Venezuela.

Illinois House passes bill and sends to governor for signature making $15 minimum wage law.

By 3-2 vote, Portland breaks with FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force

And Foreign

European Parliament adopts legislation supporting transparency in their dealings with lobbyists.

Debate over U.S. nuclear weapons stored in  Germany flares up for first time since 80s.

AMLO’s election raises hope of millions of Mexican workers, supporting their strikes.

In view of U.S-Russian nuclear arsenals restraints being under threat, global leaders head to Munich Security Conference to put nuclear arms control front and center.

International Court of Justice rules Iran has legal claim to $2 billion in assets frozen by U.S. (U.S. similarly holds sanctions against Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, and other entities it doesn’t like.)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: U.S. Piracy in Latin and Central America

A nation built on greed is not a nation; it is just a legal framework for rape and pillage, slavery and exploitation, theft, murder, and genocide.       —Rivera Sun writing in Dandelion Salad.

The current U.S. sword rattling trying to topple the government of Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela is the 68th U.S. attempt at regime change, a "national interests" strategy already demonstrating disastrous and failed results most notably in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya in recent years.

Recently Jimmy Carter said about Venezuela's version of democracy: "as a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world." To cast a vote, Venezuelans touch a computer screen, then receive a paper receipt, which they have to verify and deposit in a ballot box a system (unlike in the U.S.) which is virtually tamper proof because to hack the computers and then stuff the ballot box to match the rigged vote is impossible.

According to Telesur, despite the U.S. embargo and severe economic war against it, Venezuela under Maduro has managed to offer free healthcare to more than 60%; it has rated high on the Human Development Index, surpassing most LatAm countries; it has built 3 million homes for poor and working class people, 1.8 million of them under Maduro; it has provided more than 4.8 million computers and over 100 million technology textbooks to students across the country, and more than 20,000 schools have received new computer equipment; it ranks sixth in the world in terms of enrollment in primary education and has increased secondary education to embrace 73%; and there have been civil rights gains of oppressed sectors of the society such as women, Afro-indigenous people, and the LGBTQ community.

Rally in support of Maduro
Washington has been trying to interfere with Venezuela ever since Hugo Chavez was elected, with several assassination attempts on his life, and one on Madura’s life last year by drone. The conflict fault line is a racial one as demonstrated in two Venezuelan rallies, one on Bolivar Avenue in Caracas on Saturday to lend strong support to President Maduro and let the world know that Venezuela is to be respected, the other in the eastern Caracas district of Las Mercedes, in the Plaza Alfredo Sadel in support of #45-sanctioned fake president Guaido. But notice, of the thousands upon thousands of persons on Avenida Bolivar, all were people of color, whereas the white faces of the malcontents in Plaza Alfred Sadel were those of the advantaged Venezuelan class, backed by a light-skinned, wealthy, internationalist group operating under a plan designed by neocons in Washington to control Venezuela's oil and wealth. At that rally the opposition removed the Venezuelan flag, to display massive U.S. and Israeli flags, and pro-#45 puppets (one of #45-as-the Statue–of-Liberty, with the Christian cross around his neck).
But, contrary to what it puts out, U.S. sword rattling is not motivated by any concern whatsoever with socialism, communism, the Bolivarian revolution, or democracy for that matter. Nor is it about the humanitarian aid Bolton offered to send Venezuela . (Recently twitter wiped out 2,000 pro-Venezuela accounts to keep the American people "better informed.") #45’s pick to bring “Democracy” to Venezuela, war criminal Elliott Abrams, has spent his life crushing democracy. His record goes back to 1980 when 75,000 Salvadorans were murdered by government-sanctioned death squads; he supported the government of Guatemala’s murder of over 200,000 people and the destruction of over 600 peasant villages which simply disappeared (I know, I was there. Now Guatemala seems poised for anotehr coup.) In the Contra war in Nicaragua, Abrams pled guilty to lying about U.S. complicity in tens of thousands of deaths. Under George Bush’s presidency he oversaw the abortive coup against Hugo Chavez. Sanctions under Bush escalated under Obama, and further escalated under #45 so that in the past year, the U.S. has managed to bleed Venezuela of billions of dollars.

The U.S. principal motivator, as is always the case with so-called regime change, happens to be Venezuela’s rich oil and gold reserves, especially now that fracking  has peaked as the best wells have been tapped, and to exploit the remainder is costing more, so that fracking is already losing millions. Any sensible country would recognize the writing on the wall, and see fracking’s decline as a golden invitation to transition even more rapidly to renewables, but as it props up its oil industry by moving to help itself to Venezuela’s oil, the U.S. romance with fossil fuels shows no let up. The threat of actual invasion is very real: Bolton’s notepad revealed a plan to send 5,000 troops to the Colombia-Venezuelan border, a move calculated to conceal the actual number already deployed, which a source reported as closer to 30,000.

In a recent article, David Sladky writes: it’s not…seen as sexy to protest war anymore. But when enough people learn that the U.S. warfare industry and U.S. military are the greatest purveyors of global warming through their massive use of fossil fuel, people may sing a different tune. Already major hands-off-Venezuela demonstrations have been called  by Popular Resistance for March 16 in Washington, D.C., and local events are slated at Lake Merritt Columns, Sunday, February 10 at 1 PM, (info: and The Bridge Walk in San Francisco on Sunday, February 10, by Code Pink. The walk meets at 11:45 AM, either at the S.F. or Marin end of the eastern walkway of the bridge. Info:

Conclusion: From Ambrose Bierce wiktionary:  regime change, politically correct synonym for piracy.


Sign on as a citizen cosponsor of the Prevention of Arms Race Act to block Trump’s banned nukes at

End U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen at

Keep the pressure on Congress to repeal the Muslim ban at


Indigenous women of West Bengal save their forest with the use of sticks, sickles, and bravery.

Earthjustice wins suit to halt the slaughter of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains.

Thanks to Polish woman physicist, buildings to be equipped with windows and facades satisfying the structure’s energy needs, rain or shine.

French court bans Monsanto’s Roundup.

Thanks to pressure by activists, Rep. McGovern pledges to cease taking money from the war, fossil fuel industries and corporations.

AWEA’s wind industry reports American workers installed 5,944 MW wind capacity in 2018’s last quarter.

Court rules out Hunter Valley coalmine on climate change grounds.

In a significant shift for activism, Indigenous tribes of Atenco on Rights of Nature grounds successfully defend Lake Texcoco from initiative to build secondary Mexico City airport on it.

Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s recently elected president, announces that under his government fracking will no longer be used.

With major party backing, and hailed as a “watershed moment,’ AOC and Markey unveil green new deal outlining WWII scale transformation necessary.


Anti-Venezuelan coup peace activists protest outside John Bolton’s home, demand he be tried in The Hague.

Code Pink Police serve John Bolton indictment outside his home.

Despite peaceful protests, and police violence, France’s Gilet Jaunes going strong in Act 12 protests in Paris, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and all over France. 

Protesters swarm Brooklyn’s Metropolitan House of Detention that endured polar vortex with no heat (or light)., and “forgetting” to distribute extra blankets to prisoners supplied by the city., but investigations into living conditions there just beginning.

Matamoros strike grows as Mexican ruling class warns of national strike wave.

Federal prisoners served steak by unpaid guards during shutdown.

Climate activists shut off valves at Enbridge lines 3 and 4.

Nation’s largest nurse’s union kicks off week of barnstorms in cities nationwide to build support for scrapping for-profit heath care in favor of Medicare for All.

Sunrise Movement presents plan to achieve Green New Deal in the face of divisive SOTU address. and kicks off a week of action

Valve Turners shut down Enbridge Oil pipelines in Minnesota.

Oakland educators authorize strike.

Over 100 artists, activists, scholars and writers pen open latter welcoming asylum seekers and defending their Constitutional rights.

Growing number of N.Y.C. public advocate candidates oppose Williams Fracked Gass Pipeline.

Saying #45 border “emergency” does not exist, Governor of N. Mex. orders National Guard off border.

Forty–five NODAPL cases dismissed with warrants quashed upon review ordered by Judiciary Water Protestor Legal Collective.  

Sacred Stone encampment at Standing Rock
Aziz Rana argues for internationalism as a philosophy combatting the historic disconnect between American domestic and foreign policy at

Domestic Politics

Center for Constitutional Right wins court victory guaranteeing the constitutional right of California prisoners to be kept in solitary confinement no longer, thereby upholding the law already in place.

Rep. Pramila Payapal (D-WA) rips into Acting AG over devastating consequences of family separation. 

Under grilling by Veronica Escobar (D-TX ) Acting AG Whitaker admits he’s viewed pardon paperwork.

California new budget would return it to tuition-free days.

Gregory Jaczko, former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission now says risks involved with nuclear energy are just too great.  (Who knew?)

Puerto debt deal restructuring 17 billion of 72 billion debt receives court approval.

Lawsuit dismissed against American Studies Association, Steven Salaita, and others for Israel boycott.

Binding Resolution of Disapproval, a seldom used law, may be used forcing  McConnell to take disaster vote to block the “wall.”

With the exception of farm workers and tip earning workers, New Jersey adopts a $15 minimum wage.

New bill, introduced by Rep. Scott and Senator Casey to phase out subminimum wage for disabled workers.

Bernie Sanders’ “Raise the wage” Act would improve living standards for 40 million Americans.

Two non guilty verdicts, hung jury for five other defendants in Detroit Poor People’s Campaign trial.

FOX news flummoxed after channel’s own poll find people really want to tax the rich. (Gee!)

Sandusky, OH scraps Columbus (Genocide) Day to make Election Day a paid holiday.

Arizona town of Nogales sues administration to tear down wall of “inhuman” razor wire.

Roberts sides with liberals as Supreme Court stays Louisiana anti-abortion law.

Former White House chef Roberto Mendoza, started Chef Heaven’s Kitchen Foundation, and uses lottery prize to feed the homeless.


Israel temporarily suspends export permit for several senior execs at drone maker, Aeronautics while investigation of drone attacks against Azerbaijan continues.

South Korea no longer refers to North Korea as an enemy in Defense Ministry white paper.

In move threatening the dollar as a global currency and thanks to #45’s ineptitude, global nations quietly dismantle seven-decade-old-alliance to build alternative systems of bilateral trade. (Ooops!)

Peace my come to Afghanistan after 18 years of prohibitive, treasury-draining war as Taliban and U.S. government publicly state acceptance of draft framework for ongoing negotiations culminating in peace deal.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Capernaum: A Baby Named Treasure

“I don’t want them to have any more children.”

This is the pay-off line of Nadine Labaki’s movie titled “Capernaum,” Arabic for chaos or, in Labaki’s word, “hell”. It is a line that has been richly justified by the event sequences of the film itself.

Uttered by Zain, the film’s 12-year-old protagonist, the line comes late in a film whose editing throws it into a kind of chaos all its own. But it is a curious chaos. Because its actors are not professionals. They are real people, living in real time the kinds of lives the film script dictates they portray, but at the same time, because of their authenticity, it is a film in which real events and narrative are braided together in such uncanny ways, that if migrant conditions in Lebanon (and the U.S.) were not so catastrophically predictable, they would make the film seem downright prophetic. Real events (such as the incarceration of its “illegal” actress and of her baby [unrelated to the actual actress] by immigration authorities) overtake the actors in real time, much as they are developed by the film itself.

The film tells the rather complex story of marginalized people, half of whom has lost a country (mostly Syria) they once imagined was theirs, and those born in a country (Lebanon) in which they currently live, but where they are as much in exile as the refugees who come seeking a minimal survival on their shores. In Lebanon now, both migrants from Syria and Africa and Lebanese natives are roughly equal in number.

Tide of migrants risking drowning in the Mediterranean
The film’s events uncannily mirror one another: a Lebanese-born family “sell” their underage daughter into a marriage which ultimately kills her, and the protagonist himself, in a final desperate measure, gives up the baby whose survival has become his burden to bear, by giving him to a racketeer who falsely promises to see the baby adopted by a family which can give him a more stable life.

Zain and his sister Sahar
Untangled, the film’s plot could have appeared even more forthright than it is: Zain, the 12-year-old protagonist has been born into a numerous, and abusive family unable to feed or care for him or his many siblings in any way that might make it resemble even a marginally normal one. His threshold for abuse is crossed when his parents “sell” his favorite, barely-pubescent sister, to their landlord, for a clutch of chickens, hoping to guarantee themselves survival, and their daughter a bed.

Zain goes on the lam, eventually ending up in an amusement park where an “illegal” African cleaning woman takes pity on him, invites him to stay, and care for her baby, whose existence she needs to keep secret in order not to lose her job. When she is picked up by the authorities because of her unofficial status, that baby, who is the run-away star of this film (and in real life, actually a girl named Treasure) becomes his ward to feed and house relying on his street wits as best he can.
Zain and Treasure
When his slum landlord changes the lock on Zain’s hovel, with no shelter his any longer, he is forced to turn the baby over to the racketeer who falsely promises him a home, and who in turn will sell him, as he does others into a warehouse full of other miserable refugees, whose clandestine existence is exposed by authorities in a midnight raid.

Meantime, because he has exhausted other places to be, Zain returns home, demands his official papers, non existent because his parents are too poor and irresponsible ever to have registered his birth, and failing to secure them, steals a butcher knife, determined to kill the man who married his sister, and who has become responsible for her death. Because he succeeds only in wounding him, Zain is brought to trial for his crime, and imprisoned.

While in prison—and here comes the film’s Achilles heel—he watches a phone -in TV show which urges him to sue his parents for having been born, incidentally an idea originally culled by the director in her three years of original research among actual Lebanese slum dwelling children prior to shooting the film.

But in its truthfulness, the shabbiness of the film’s pretext exposes the fake global TV West-imported culture. Despite its arbitrariness, the device allows Zain finally to confront the parents whose unacceptable abuses have motivated the film’s action all along.

On the personal level his final line: “I don’t want them to have children any more”, unpacks the realities of unimaginable poverty and family abuse; but on the public level, the universal ring of that line is what elevates the film, flawed as it is, to a major work of art, because it conveys a message of which the film-maker herself is apparently still unaware: “This planet is no where to have children any more.” 

The catastrophic effects of global warming of which we have been aware—some of us—even before the 70s, is now upon us: Half of Syria is emptied of its inhabitants motivated as much by war as by a catastrophic drought. And what is occurring on the U.S. southern border is as much the result of warming temperatures and drought leading to crop failures as it is by U.S. ”regime change” policies (which show no signs of let up); and of NAFTA. The famine, flood and fire, of which we have been promised, is now in delivery.

I am reminded of what I published i on the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster in Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step:

If you were a child of Basra, playing in abandoned vehicles or tanks, you would have inhaled DU (“depleted” uranium, more toxic even than weapons grade plutonium) and probably ingested it. You, too, would become a statistic—an Iraqi one—one of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children developing childhood leukemia.  You would be five times more at risk for developing cancer of the thyroid. You would be condemned to a short life of bodily suffering, and while you sickened and died, you would have to see the pain in your mother’s eyes, your father’s grief—if you still had a mother or a father. If you were or are a woman in Basra, your risk of giving birth to a severely handicapped child would have increased 60%. Either you might have been helpless to prevent a pregnancy, or perhaps you would have ignored the advice of those Iraqi doctors who had not already fled Iraq who said, “Iraq is no longer a place to have children,” because had you given birth to such a child, you would have had to care for it with the little food available to you, bathed him with contaminated rain or sewer water. Perhaps you would have had to carry him, if in his short life he could never have hoped to walk, or see, or feed himself—or any of the kinds of things that characterize human living in the world. And you yourself might be one of the 70 out of 1,000 people to develop cancer.

Over 1,000 U. S. military bases have metastacized throughout the war-making world, all of their war-making activities productive of pollution and global warming. How many more ruined countries besides Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Niger, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan until the world itself has become so polluted people everywhere can’t even consider bearing children any more?

(Did you know that if you have trouble with any of these links, you can search for the same petition on line?)

Support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by demanding end to family separation and child detention at the borer by signing:

Donate to unlock $500 million gift to block Keystone XL Pipeline at:

Demand Congress repeal its giveaway of sacred Native American site to foreign-owned mining company at

Urge your Representatives to support hold the LYNE, restricting nuclear weapons first use at:

Urge California’s Gov. Newsom to test Diablo Nuclear Plant for safety at

Urge Congress to cancel Puerto Rico's mountainous debt at

Domestic Politics

Panel of Virginia redistricting judges chooses redistricting map for Virginia’s House of Delegates toward Democratic voters.

California’s U.S. Federal Judge Haywood Gilliam argues that evangelical goal was specifically to withhold contraception from a substantial number of women.

Forced-birthers lose Iowa round as state judge strikes down ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion ban.

Southern Poverty Law Center sues administration on behalf of thousands of detained unaccompanied migrant kids.

ACLU wins case demanding census reflect African Americans and other people of color across the U.S.

In California, after 40 years of litigation over three staffer generations, ACLU sees SB 1421 signed into law to go onto effect in January, 2019, guaranteeing public access to information about police department wrongdoing.

ACLU urges Supreme Court to uphold separation of church and state.

Judge Sallie Kim grants motion for new bond hearing for Raul Lopez, 46 Guatemalan immigrant who has lived in the U.S. for 29 years and who is seeking asylum.

D.C. lawmakers reintroduce war powers resolution to end carnage in Yemen  and reclaim Congressional constitutional authority.

With over 200 original sponsors, Rep. John Larson (D-CT) Social Security Chair of House and Ways introduces the introduction of Social Security 2100 Act.

Introduced by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Adam Smith (D-WA)  no first-use bill would reduce the risk of nuclear war.

Starting this month, laws go into effect mandating that hospitals must publicly
reveal their master price lists on line.

U. S. House of representatives takes on voting rights after years of Republican rule.

Open internet defenders take FCC to court.

Judge advances protesters’ free speech lawsuit against San Diego police.

In local news, progressives far outnumber regular Democrats in recent Berkeley vote electing delegates to the state party convention.

In a gesture toward the homeless, anonymous Chicago good Samaritan guarantees 70 homeless people hotel rooms in subzero temperatures.

Ten more boxes!!! of suppressed evidence come to light in Abu Mumia Jamal case.

U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and a member of the Intelligence, and Education and Labor Committees, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to help children and families affected by the family separation crisis resulting from administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

Planetary Sustainability

Germany to close 84 coal fired power plants, relying primarily on renewables within the next 19 years.

Germany leads in renewables with its own green bank.

In victory for land and water, Canadian Supreme Court rules that bankrupt fossil fuel companies must clean up pollution left behind.

Diminishing demand and more affordable renewables cast doubt on feasibility and profitability of Atlantic Coast Pipeline according to report.

U.S. Meddling

Traditionally a U.S. tool, a majority of 18 OAS countries rejects motion to recognize puppet non-candidate Venezuelan Gualdó.


Medea Benjamin is thanked by Venezuelan  Foreign Minister for interrupting Pence at the OAS with her sign “a coup is not a democratic transition”.

In the midst of soasring temperatures in Australia, and sub-zero weather in Eastern U.S., Extinction Rebellion shuts down Rockefeller Center Plaza to create awareness of climate change’s extreme peril.

Gilets Jaunes Assembly of Assemblies calls for massive strike.

Kings County, Washington about to ban all fossil fuel infrastructure.

Virginia teachers march to demand funding and better salaries.

More than 80 environmental activists die in at Brighton shopping center.

Teachers in Denver, Oakland, and Chicago move towards strikes.

Civil rights groups to hold social justice rally demanding end to Confederate monuments before super bowl.

Now in its fourth week as a student-led strike, in cold rain more than 80,000 people march in Brussels demanding EU take urgent action to address world’s climate crisis.

Mexican workers engage in wildcat strikes at the border, halting production, resulting in 23 companies agreeing to a 20% wage increase and a $1,700 bonus.

Pipeline fighter locks himself to horizontal drill, effectively stopping work at Mountain Valley Pipeline.