Thursday, April 30, 2015

Trouble A Comin'

There was this little blurb from Yahoo Business last night:

U.S. stocks dropped Wednesday following news that the economy skidded to a near halt in the first three months of the year, battered by harsh weather, plunging exports and sharp cutbacks in oil and gas drilling. Stocks stayed lower after the Federal Reserve downgraded its assessment of the economy and kept its key interest rate unchanged. The overall economy grew at a barely discernible annual rate of 0.2 percent in the January-March quarter, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That is the poorest showing in a year and down from 2.2 percent growth in the fourth quarter.

The IMF, too, a few days ago predicted growth will be negligible in the next year.

Since presidential elections are usually decided by the economy it'll be very bad news for Hillary Clinton and Democrats in general if the economy is in recession during the campaign.


It's good that Bernie Sanders, who they are calling a Democratic Socialist now, will be in the race because it'll mean the media has to report some of what he says. His class based rants will help raise class consciousness. His message of income redistribution through government sounds pretty radical now but it's only what a mainstream Liberal Democrat would have said 30 years ago.

His presence will also mean Hillary has to sound even more populist than she's been sounding in the first days of her campaign. Her and her people have been counting delegates for months and know the liberal wing of the party has a lot to say about who the nominee is.

Deep inside of Hillary there's still that crusading, caring, traditional Liberal. Then she opens her eyes, puts her feet on the floor and checks her cell phone.

Trouble is coming.






The Future Will Be Better







Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore Uprising

As the news media paints a picture of marauding thieving Negro thugs in Baltimore, the inevitable more complete explanation of events, which the corporate media never report, is already emerging.

A story in Mother Jones magazine has teachers and parents explaining how the initial clashes were caused by police in West Baltimore after the funeral of Freddie Gray. Gray, arrested for "running while Black," died with a severed spine after police gave him what police call a "rattle the can" ride in the back of a police van while handcuffed, a practice explained by retired Philadelphia police Captain Ray Lewis. Baltimore police have a long history of abusing and even killing prisoners in this way.




Teachers and parents in West Baltimore say the protests turned violent after police prevented students from going home on buses and public transportation after school and then attacked them. Police had apparently been monitoring social media and read that protesters would be gathering that afternoon at a mall across the street from the school

Keep in mind also that in the wake of other such so-called "riots" it turns out the destruction is never random but is specifically directed at businesses owned by people who live outside the community that have severely exploited the local community. Call it justice, call it vigilante justice, call it what you like, but it's rational and purposeful and not people going berserk or lazy people taking the opportunity get some free stuff, as the media always portrays it.

Any violence directed against Baltimore police will turn out to have been brought upon themselves, as the Mother Jones story makes clear and as has happened before, most recently last summer in Ferguson, MO. Keep in mind too that anything that happens in Baltimore will occur in the context of the ongoing genocide of African Americans by law enforcement nationwide.

NBC photo



Note: The events in Baltimore notwithstanding, as I have noted before, news media coverage of the police is gradually shifting from that of being staunch defenders of police brutality to skepticism and disgust. This local news story from Inkster, MI, that shows officers on video taking time from cleaning blood off themselves to mock their beating victim, a 57-year-old Black man, before taking him to the hospital is another indication of that.

It seems plausible then that news media coverage will eventually begin to put police violence in the context of efforts to suppress the working class and working class discontent, and to place working class reaction to that oppression in the same context.





Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Comment Left At The LA Progressive Magazine

Mac Coon says
 Your comment is typical of that of a USer who is a descendent of white, european immigrants who came to this continent as interlopers and who systematically eradicated the indigenous population while stealing their homeland right out from under them, and then either directly or indirectly benefited (and probably continues to benefit) from the labors of Africans who were kidnapped from their home continent and forced to work like cattle without pay or civil rights. It would be such persons who, as the descendants of the worst type of terrorists, aka ‘colonists’, later sought to legitimize their crimes by organizing as ‘states’, and then conspiring to unite as a ‘country’ in order to preserve their ill-gotten comforts and privileged lifestyle. And now today speak about ‘defending’ that status by depriving others of the same opportunities their ancestors illegally secured, even while those new immigrants are not nearly as malicious, inhumane, or despicably hubristic about their own aspirations as were the monstrous ‘colonists’. You should be ashamed of your contemptible self-centered smugness. Your type gives the rest of us USers a bad name.

And please note that I do not self-identify as ‘American'; to do so is an arrogant reminder to others of the hegemonic damages done by the US in the rest of the Americas, especially Latin America. In case you never took the time to notice, there are other ‘Americans’ in the world, and the US is not entitled to the exclusive use of that name.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Net Neutrality Struggle Update

Pro Publica writer Leticia Miranda's article on why the Comcast-Time Werner Cable "merger" was called off provides plenty of examples of things giant cable and internet provider Comcast has done in the past to give the feds pause, including not keeping promises it's made to the government after similar mergers but instead using its power to stifle competition in myriad ways. Among them are things that Comcast, which exerts tremendous control over TV programming, does to prevent competition from sources like YouTube and Netflix that rely on the internet to reach its customers.

Although described by the media as a merger, the $45 billion deal was actually Comcast buying Time Warner Cable. The Washington Post provides some insider insight into why the deal failed and further examples of how Comcast has used its position to stifle competition and says the deal "would have combined the two largest cable providers in the country and would have put more than half of all high-speed Internet customers under one company."

Some people are beginning to wonder whether the explosion of wireless means cable's days are numbered, but as of now Comcast has a lot of power and the merger's defeat can only be seen as a good thing for the internet.

In late February, following an extended campaign by net neutrality groups, the FCC announced it would regulate internet service providers like Comcast as "common carriers," which means putting them under the strict regulatory regime that controlled the old telephone companies. This was seen as a huge win for the internet and thwarted what had been only the most recent of several attempts by big internet providers like Comcast to privatize the internet.

House Republicans immediately filed legislation to try to prevent FCC from issuing the new rules, then, when the rules were published this week, all the big cable and internet providers, individually or through their front groups, filed law suits to try to prevent them from taking force. Filing lawsuits so far have been:

AT&T
Alamo Broadband
CTIA (cell phone company trade group)
US Telcom (cable company trade group)
American Cable Association (cable company trade group)
CenturyLink


FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, an Obama-appointed former cable company lobbyist who surprised everyone in late February by suddenly siding with the commission's Democrats in favor of net neutrality, which led to the issuing of the new "common carrier" rules this week, says he thinks the FCC can win the lawsuits.

As reported by Opposing Views, Wheeler issued a statement after the Comcast Time Warner Cable deal was called off:

 "Comcast and Time Warner Cable's decision to end Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers,” Wheeler said. “The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and the video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests.

"Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice," he continued. "The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation, including to the ability of online video providers to reach and serve consumers.

"I am especially proud of our close working relationship throughout the review process with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice," Wheeler added. "Our collaboration provided both agencies with a deeper understanding of the important issues of innovation and competition that the proposed transaction raised."

In other words, the justice department heard the side of consumers and not just of big business. Strange things happen.




Thursday, April 23, 2015

Another One

In a bizarre ruling in a bizarre case, a judge has tossed out all charges against a Chicago cop who fired into a crowd of people, killing 22 year old Rekia Boyd. Prosecutors had charged the cop with reckless conduct and having an unregistered gun, and people are saying the case was mishandled, maybe intentionally. The result, though, is another Black person is executed by a cop, and another cop gets away with murder.

Meanwhile, Cornel West has posted  a brief statement on Facebook in response to the much publicized attack on him by fellow academic Michael Dyson.




Activist scholar Cornel West - 2014 mug shot












Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Criminal State And Its Enforcers

As protests mount in Baltimore over the death in police custody of Freddie Gray from a spinal cord injury, video has surfaced in South Gate, CA, of a cop grabbing a woman's cell phone as she records police and smashing it to the ground.

Both incidents are receiving national coverage by TV networks. That marks a difference. The coverage itself is different. A CBS report about the Baltimore protests puts that case in the context of a history of police misconduct. That indicates certain elements of the ruling class are beginning to take notice, sounding the alarm, pointing out the need for reform.

Not too long ago such things went pretty much unnoticed by the general public, like an incident in Bakersfield, CA, where, after the police shot and killed an unarmed Latino, they went around and confiscated the cell phones of all the witnesses. Last I heard about that no one had gotten their cell phone back.

This past weekend I posted a piece that put rampant police criminality, that's finally beginning to see the light of day, in the context of state power, and I posted one this morning listing the many places around the world where our warmongering federal state is causing murder, mayem and instability.

Whether the general public begins to make the connections between corrupt police and the criminal exercise of state power remains to be seen. I was radicalized at a young age. The illusions dropped away. The curtain was pulled back. I'm not burdened by nationalism, which we like to call patriotism. I view Capitalism itself as a criminal activity. Most people don't. To see things that way would represent a big leap, a complete reversal, almost.

We need to believe that our country will right itself, that things will get back to normal. That the future will be better than the past, that there will be good jobs again, that we can trust the police and the government, and feel safe. We need to believe that things are going to keep keeping on. We need to believe in something.

The solution is pretty simple, really. We need to believe in each other. They have us divided, Republican and Democrat, right and left, black and white, brown and black, young and old, engaged and disengaged, socially conservative and socially liberal, religious and otherwise. It's hard to see how much more divided we can be. But there are things that could unite us in a hurry. Fear. Mass disillusionment. The realization that in each of us there's a desire for justice and fairness. A human being.








US Destabalizes The Planet

At his Only In New Mexico blog yesterday Jim Baca talked about the potential for mass instability owing to widespread "poverty and persecution." I left a comment there about the potential for revolutionary upheaval, organized or otherwise.

As if to drive home Baca's point the Inter Press New Service today published an article UN Helpless as Crises Rage in 10 Critical Hot Spots telling how the United Nations humanitarian and diplomatic capabilities are being overwhelmed by simultaneous crises in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

Of the 10 situations, at least 7 were directly caused by the United States and at least two others have US involvement in their history, and those don't represent the limits of US meddling by any means. The US is actively seeking to destabilize Venezuela and Ecuador and is in the process of surrounding China with military bases and warships much the same way it has surrounded Russia since the Cold War ended with new additions to NATO complete with new bases, missile batteries and active duty troops.

The US has in the past few years started a new military command, Africom, with the intent of controlling African oil the way it controls Middle Eastern oil. The Middle East lies in ruins. Tensions are high between the US and Russia over the US organized fascist Ukrainian coup and the US continues through allies Japan and South Korea to inflame tensions with China over meaningless territorial disputes involving tiny islands.

Who will bring the mad dog to heal?



(Note: this was written yesterday but not posted until this morning)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Haiti, The Police, The State (in reverse order)

The US maintains a steady and very heavy handed involvement in tiny Haiti, that makes little sense unless you're aware of the financial interests involved.



The US has twice now removed Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide from office. Aristide, twice elected honestly, is a former Catholic priest who pursued a radical program based on Liberation Theology, a vein in Catholicism that comes out of Latin America that has many of the elements of Socialism. Aristide was first removed by Bill Clinton in 1991, then by Bush Jr. in 2004.

Not toeing the Capitalist line in America's backyard is enough to get you illegally ousted by the US government, as has been proven over and over, but in Haiti someone has come across some interesting evidence of the bigger picture, having found "cached" web pages that show that Hillary Clinton's brother, Anthony Rodham, is invested in VCS Mining, a gold mining company that's been given sweatheart deals by Haiti's current president, Michel Martely, who is only president because just before the last elections the US decided Lavalas, Artistide's party, was ineligible to take part.

Cached web pages are earlier version of web pages stored by Google that you can sometimes find with Google searches, so that if someone changes a web page you can sometimes find out. In this case Anthony Rodham's name appears on earlier versions of the VCS Mining company web site, but not the current version. The same goes for Clever Mesidor, a woman who's been part of the Obama Administration and also has ties to the Clintons, who was involved in setting up the sweetheart deal for VCS.

Capital and Coercion

Amateur videos showing blatant police murders and savage beatings have begun to peel back the veil from the criminal regime known as law enforcement. Most telling have been the videos that emerged only after the police had already fabricated a story and released it to the media; to, I might add, an almost always compliant and unquestioning media. I've posted recently about the many cases of entrapment in so-called "terrorism" cases brought by federal prosecutors in league with the FBI and other federal cops, and about cases I came across as a reporter where police got people people to snitch on each other by illegal coercion.

There have been a few high profile revelations in the past several years about outright criminality at state "crime labs" -- which are usually part of the state police, i.e. the state government, the "labs" where local law enforcement send evidence to get it scientifically analyzed. In those cases the labs weren't doing any tests but were documenting that they had and even testifying at trails that they had.

Now comes the Washington Post with a story about the FBI's own crime lab in Washington, which for decades was saying it was analyzing hair samples for police all over the country but in reality wasn't, and was simply saying what local law enforement agencies wanted to hear.

That article, by the way, refers to a project called The Innocence Project, which has gotten many death sentences overturned by simply going through the trial record and police work and finding that a working class suspect was railroaded into a conviction or convicted on falsified evidence -- and they were on death row or in for life and were completely innocent.

The State

The police -- state, local, federal law enforcement -- are best understood as one of the coercive arms of the government, which exists to protect the interests of Capital. Everything the police do, prosecutors do, prisons do, and the military does, is best understood in the context of their roles as coercive arms of the government.

Coercive arms of the state, is how it's said in most academic and Marxist scholarship. The term "the state" pre-dates the formation of the US. In fact, the legal status of the newly independent early states, before the adoption of the Constitution and its federal system, was closer to that of independent countries than it is now, and the term "state" has just stuck.

The state, sometimes called "nation state, is a concept that includes not just government but the economic, and social, systems that determine what government there is and its characteristics. It's "the Establishment," as we said in the 60s.

In the US, the main determinant of the characteristics of our government is Capitalism. All through the Constitution you can see that. There's nothing in there about the rights of workers, or women or minorities or anything like that, but plenty about the rights of private property, property owners, and business, and a lot about trade. It's all to protect the interests of Capitalists.

Constitutional protection has been expanded by amendments to cover some of the rights of the working class, as in those outlawing slavery or giving freed slaves the vote, and by modern, liberal interpretations of the Constitution; the right to an abortion for everyone and not just those with a lot of money, for example, is construed under a liberal interpretation of the constitutional right to privacy.

In summary, what we call law enforcement, like the rest of the State, exists to protect Capital, which forms not only the outlines of government but also of society. The idea that we go to war for oil is something everyone knows about, but "the state" is also why the elected president of Haiti can be removed by the US government, just like that, and why members of the working class can be murdered at will by the state, whether by police or lethal injection or drones or bombs, and why the media just writes down what the government wants it to.

Agence France Press photo





Saturday, April 18, 2015

Tax Time, For Some Of Us


"In 1952, the corporate income tax accounted for about 32 percent of all federal tax revenue. Today, despite record-breaking profits, corporate taxes bring in just 11 percent." The Nation magazine

Right wingers keep repeating that the "US has the highest corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world," yet somehow corporations pay only 1/3 of the taxes they used to pay. All of us are paying the price, but most critically our educations system and people who are having a hard time are having to pay for the free ride being given to the rich, who own the overwhelming majority of corporate stock,.

President Obama has submitted and Democrats have voted for budgets that have cut federal spending each year Obama's been in office, and have reduced taxes on corporations and businesses.

Meanwhile, wealth and income inequality are worse than they were in the so called "Gilded Age" of the early 20th century and keep getting worse, and part of the reason has to be that we're paying the taxes the rich used to pay.

Neither does it help that all the"record-breaking profits" being hauled in by the rich go only to the rich, as even the Wall Street Journal admits, while wages and living standards for the rest of us stagnate and in some cases have even declined.

The trade agreement called the TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, that the president and many Democrats want to rush through with no meaningful debate, will only make things worse, and that's not really the worst of the TPP. It will enshrine into US and international law many provisions that give corporations more power over governments than they already have, and over what we can say on the internet, and that's why it's being negotiated in secret.

Everyone should contact their elected officials and demand they oppose the TPP, and start making the rich pay their fair share of taxes again.

 



Friday, April 17, 2015

The Debut of a Latin American Military Alliance

As if to put a coda on the OAS sponsored Summit of the Americas that ended last weekend in Panama with a bedazzled US mainstream media inaccurately and perhaps hopefully heralding the reestablishment of US dominance in Latin America, South American nations today announced the creation of the South American School of Defense.

The school, which will offer graduate and post graduate instruction for military and civilian personnel, is the next logical step in the process spearheaded by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to extricate Latin America from US economic and military dominance in order chart its own, more democratic path.


                                                                                  Telesur
The South American School of Defense is being consciously billed as a counterpoint to the infamous School of the Americas based in Fort Benning Georgia, where the US has long trained those who ran the military dictatorships and torture chambers of US Latin American client states. Instead the school will provide an education that "promotes peace and democracy" and furthers the process of regional integration.

The philosophy behind the school is "a shared doctrine in terms of defense for South America which is considered a zone of peace, democratic stability and where differences are not addressed through interventionism or violence,” according to Ecuador's defense minister Fernando Cordero.

Fernando Cordero - Mercopress
The school also appears to be a first step in the creation of a NATO style military alliance that would bolster the economic alliances already established under UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) and other regional alliances* that have been replacing the US-dominated OAS (Organization of American States) as forums for Latin American economic cooperation and conflict resolution.

Yankees, Stay Home

The just concluded OAS sponsored Summit of the Americas, the first such summit attended by Cuba, ended with the US blocking the summit's final declaration because it called for an end to US aggression against Venezuela and declared health as a human right.

That development was ignored by the US media, which billed the summit as a diplomatic coup by US President Barak Obama, despite the fact that Obama left the summit having done nothing to end the isolation of the US in the region.

To the US media the summit was all about Cuban-US rapprochement. The US media generally hasn't  reported that US overtures to Cuba are part of a dual strategy by the US to gain goodwill in Latin America, which has universally condemned US treatment not only of Cuba but of Venezuela, and to attempt to drive a wedge between Cuba and its most important ally Venezuela. Neither has the US media reported that the timing of US raproachment efforts toward Cuba were forced by the announcement by several Latin American countries that they would boycott last week's summit unless Cuba attended. The US before this year has always blocked Cuban participation in Summit of the Americas conferences.


* UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations
   CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
   ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America

All are organizations initiated by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and include as members some countries, such as Columbia and Uruguay, that still consider themselves close US allies and client states.

Although their goals are the betterment of their countries and peoples, a first order of business of the groups has necessarily been to counter US dominance of Latin America by various means.

No one I know of asserts that there hasn't been a tremendous change in Latin America vis a vis the US role there since Hugo Chavez began the project of uniting Latin America in opposition to US dominance. The US government, and friendly media outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and others, still issue daily propaganda against Latin American Leftist leaders that exaggerate and even misstate some of the problems they've had, but in Latin America itself there's an entirely different story unfolding.





Thursday, April 16, 2015

Better Business Bureau




I joined the Better Business Bureau a couple weeks ago and a plaque and some decals arrived this week.

I'm not sure if anyone in New Mexico has heard of the Better Business Bureau. In some parts of the country everyone has heard of it and the Better Business Bureau is in a nice building downtown. Here their office is in an anonymous looking little business park off Jefferson out near Paseo del Norte.

The Better Business Bureau promotes ethics in business. If you are listed with them it means they have checked you out and that you are who you say you are, that you have the proper permits and so forth. If someone files a complaint against you it will be listed on their web site.

In some parts of the country, if a consumer threatens to file a complaint with the BBB, it means something, and the business will try to rectify the customer's complaint to prevent a formal complaint being filed with the BBB.  There's a saying, in some parts of the country: "The customer is always right." People generally believe businesses adhere to that saying.





Tuesday, April 14, 2015

746

So far this year at least 328 people have been killed by the police.

Since Michael Brown was killed by a Ferguson cop in August at least 746 people have been killed by the police.





Monday, April 13, 2015

Lalo Weighs In



Lalo Alcarez is the author of the long running La Cucaracha cartoon strip and co-hosts the Pocho Hour of Power radio program on KPFK, the Los Angeles Pacifica station, a program I'd sometimes hear while sitting in traffic trying to get out of Los Angeles in the afternoon. It's billed as political satire. It was a raucous group of young Latino men who used a lot of barrio slang I often didn't understand.







I'm Ready For Hillary, But Is She Ready For Me?


I'm not sure why everyone hasn't stopped what they're doing to observe Eduardo Galeano's passing.


TeleSur photo


Gunther Grass gets a mention, and rightly so.

Hugo Chavez gave Barak Obama a copy of Galeano's The Open Veins of Latin America which details the 500 year European and American rape and pillage of Latin America. Obama never read it, and neither has Hillary.

After eight or ten bottles of La Maja Sidra Leve Espumante Dulce Eduardo Galeano might have described her as a neocon pimp for Wall Street, or he might have said that after hearing her display as much gall as one person can possible display yesterday when she opened her campaign by claiming that she's for the working class, but he's dead, so we'll probably never know.





Sunday, April 12, 2015

Remember

The first Organization of Americans States' Summit of the Americas attended by Cuba ended yesterday on the anniversary of the 2002 US-backed coup against Venezuela's elected President Hugo Chavez, which lasted only two days due to massive street protests outside the presidential palace, and after the US government had quickly recognized the coup government.



After the 2002 US-backed coup, efforts by the US to topple Chavez never ended, and the US government continues to this day to try in various ways to topple Venezuela's current elected president, Nicolas Maduro. Perhaps that's why in the traditional group photo Maduro (blue suit, back row, finger raised) took a position from where he could an eye on President Obama.





Saturday, April 11, 2015

Obama's Latin American Scheme

Updated below

President Obama's rapprochement with Cuba is seen by many as directed against Socialist Venezuela, whose influence in Latin America has grown as that of the US has diminished. Obama seeks to drive a wedge between Venezuela and Cuba, and to counter criticism in the region over US aggression against Socialist Cuba. The timing of his overtures to Cuba is seen as having to do with the Summit of the Americas going on now in Panama, which some Latin American countries had threatened to boycott if the US ban on Cuba's attendance wasn't lifted.

Barak Obama, Raul Castro, Ban Ki Moon, Panama City, Panama, April 11, 2015 - Reuters


Things haven't exactly gone according to Obama's plan. Cuba has remained steadfast in its support for Venezuela, having harshly condemned, as have most other Latin American countries, each of a series of actions recently taken by the US against Venezuela intended to destabilize it and bring about regime change in that country. And Cuba has several times publily asserted in strongly worded terms that any rapprochement with the US would have no affect on its internal politics and policies, and has consistently insisted that the condition for the rapprochement is that the US lift its economic blockade of Cuba.

Discussions between the US and Cuba, which US officials predicted would only take a few weeks, and thereby be completed before the Summit of the Americas, are still ongoing after three months. And it's anticipated by many that the Summit will be dominated by discussion of US aggression against Venezuela.

The Summit itself is held by the US dominated Organization of American States, which has diminished in relevance as it becomes largely replaced as a forum for Latin American cooperation by UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, and ALBA, the BolivarianAlliance for the Peoples of Our America, all organizations initiated by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arriving at the Summit of the Americas, April 11, 2015 - AP


Update 4/11/15: Coverage of the summit in the media of the US and its allies has focused primarily on the Castro-Obama "handshake" but some has attempted to include the Venezuelan dynamic. Of that most takes the US State Department line, as an article in The Atlantic by Moises Naim, which never mentions that Naim was a top Venezuelan official in the pre Chavez days and has since made a career of trashing Venezuela at places like Foreign Policy magazine.

Among US reporters there seems to be little awareness of the dynamics now playing out in US-Latin American relations and most see Latin America through a lens created by US government propaganda. Cuba, for example, since Obama launched his rapprochement scheme in December, in the eyes of the US media has suddenly become a "good guy" while its close ally Venezuela remains a "bad guy."

US media stories about Venezuela traditionally repeat a few talking points about the country provided by the US State Department, such as that it's inflation rate is astronomical, it's teetering on the verge of collapse, and that the violence that occurred during last summer's anti government protests was done by the Venezuelan government and not by protesters (NM's senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have perpetuated this falsehood).

Likewise, with a few exceptions in Op-ed pieces, Venezuela is seen in the US media as trying to spoil the Summit of the Americas. Not mentioned is the fact that all Latin American countries, even the handful that remain American client states like Columbia, Uruguay and Honduras, have sided with Venezuela. All, for example, signed onto a statement issued last month at a UNASUR summit of Latin America's foreign ministers that condemned the latest round of US sanctions against Venezuela and demanded the US respect Venezuela's sovereignty.






Friday, April 10, 2015

Another Entrapment Case

Mark my words. The case being splayed all over today's front pages of a supposed Muslim terrorist in Kansas arrested "while trying to arm what he thought was a bomb" will turn out to be another case of entrapment.

John Booker in 2010
In every case I know of in which federal law enforcement has arrested someone on much ballyhooed domestic terrorism charges, it's later turned out to be a case of entrapment. Those revelations of course only come long after all the TV cameras are gone and the public has ingested the storyline that we're all in imminent danger of being killed by crazed Muslims.

The case in Kansas, played up big in this LA Times piece, already has several obvious signs of entrapment:

1. A US attorney brought the charges, which means the biggest entrapment law enforcement agencies, the FBI being chief among them, are involved.

2. The charges resulted from a "months long investigation." In other words, it wasn't as if they caught someone in the act of something, and there was no danger to the public. They've been intimately involved with this person for a long time. It takes time to talk these troubled young men into going through with the plots presented to them by the agents. Usually the feds use an informant who gains the kids' confidence and then proposes bombing something. The informant then supplies the kid with a fake bomb provided by the FBI, which of course has been recording everything the victim's been saying for months and edits the tape to conceal the informants coercion and any misgivings the victim may have had. Sometimes the FBI even ships its informant elsewhere to entrap other victims.

3. The suspect is a poor, troubled young man, just the kind of person entrappers prey on. He fits the profile of those kids who were arrested in Florida for supposedly wanting to blow things up, and the young men arrested for supposedly wanting to blow up La Guardia airport, and the "Newberg Four" in White Plains, NY, or the 19-year-old Somali who was supposedly going to set off a bomb at a Portland, OR Christmas tree lighting ceremony. All were entrapment cases.

After the FBI has enough damning evidence, they give the young man the fake bomb and arrest him with it in his possession. Then, to provide the aura of officialdom, there's the press conference with the US attorney from that area, which the media dutifully transcribes without looking into the facts of the case. Watch this local Kansas station's breathless "team coverage" of John Booker's arrest today, that begins with a clip from the US attorney's press conference, which to the unsuspecting listener sounds pretty good but is pretty much an admission that they entrapped the guy.

"Ongoing Investigation" 

The press conference by the way follows the script all law enforcement uses for announcing charges of any kind: the threat to the public is exaggerated and what law enforcement actually did is cloaked in law enforcement press release jargon designed to exaggerate the difficulty and danger and make everyone involved sound like they just stepped out of a detective novel.

Law enforcement work is actually pretty mundane and routine. When I was a police reporter I would question the cops to find out exactly what they did. Building a case usually involves finding someone who will snitch on the suspect. They'll look for someone who's vulnerable, maybe someone they have a warrant for, or someone who is already in jail and can be enticed with getting out.

Sometimes they'll pick someone up and drive him around and use good cop/bad cop psychology on him. I found out about a case in which one detective drove a young kid around and two detectives sat the back seat and poked the kid in the back of the head and pulled his hair until they got him to talk.

Law enforcement always tells the press the case was solved as a result of a criminal "investigation," a term that conjures up images of Dick Tracy or Sherlock Holmes, made up people who were figments of someone's fertile imagination, but in reality most cases are solved because someone snitched; someone who in any other case, their own for instance, is never even believed.

The sad thing is, although there's a legitimate entrapment defense that's been used in important cases over time, courts almost never accept it anymore. For one thing the courts for years have been packed with law and order conservatives, the kind who don't mind frying innocent people, and for another, with all the terrorism hyperbole we've been subjected to, judges don't want to be the one who let off the terrorist, as explained as part of this serious article about entrapment by Adam Serwer in The American Prospect.

How many videos have to come out before the veneer of respectability police have been granted begins to wear thin? Recall that in the two days after the North Charleston, SC, police murder, before the video came out, the media was running with the police version of the murder. If not for the video that cop would have got away with it. It happens all the time, and African Americans have known for a long time that it happens all the time.

It really only makes sense in the context of the role race and class have in propping up Capitalism. The police, including the FBI and all the rest of them, the NSA included, are simply one of the coercive arms of the state. The nation state, with the compliance of Neoliberal/Reaganomics Democrats is merely the handmaid of the Capitalist system.

We go along with it, too, naively sitting on our couches wondering what's going on having internalized the violence of the thuggish goons of a thuggish Capitalist system -- that got away with stealing trillions from us in the Wall Street meltdown. Trillions. Not one of them has gone to jail, the most vulnerable among us are being gunned down in the streets, and we're sitting on our couches wondering what's going on.







Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Special Forces Church of Concealed Carry Jesus is for sale.





For more about the defenders of faith and family from the liberal Muslim terrorists that roam the streets of Albuquerque on Sunday mornings see Jim Baca's Only In New Mexico blog of yesterday.




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Another Police Execution Of An Unarmed Man

A North Charleston, SC police officer guns down a man running away from him, then calmly walks over, handcuffs the dead man and plants evidence on him.






Before the cell phone video surfaced, the government said the man and the officer had been struggling. The government said witnesses saw it all. The media began dutifully vilifying the dead man.


At of now, #Walther Scott is the number one trending hash tag in the world

Like somebody posted, How many god damn people have to become hash tags before something changes. #Walter Scott.






Another Election Day In Chicago



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As voting takes place today in the runoff between Democratic mayoral candidates Chuy Garcia and Rahm Emaneul, Twitter is alive with warnings to look out for voter fraud, of which Chicago has a notorious and colorful history. A lot of it was done by the old "Daley Machine" incumbent Emanuel is heir to.







Monday, April 6, 2015

Can Chuy Do It?

The runoff election between Chuy Garcia and Rahm Emmanuel is tomorrow. The winner between these two Democrats is expected to be Chicago's next mayor.
 



Garcia, a member of the Board of Supervisors of Cook County which encompasses Chicago, is a traditional liberal Democrat and made a surprise showing in the Feb 24 primary election to keep incumbent Emmanuel from winning 50 percent of the vote, forcing tomorrow's runoff. I wrote about the dynamics of the primary race a couple of weeks ago.

Emmanuel, a former congressman and President Obama's first term chief of staff, is a New Democrat in the Obama/Clinton mold. He's in the process of privatizing many city services and has attacked the Chicago teacher's union. Chicago's mayor appoints the school board and Rahm has closed dozens of neighborhood schools in minority neighborhoods and pushed standardized testing and charter schools, a school privatization scheme.

Obama, of course, got his political start in Chicago, and one percent Democrats like Emmanuel and Chicago heiress Penny Pritzker, who is now Treasury Secretary, form his inner circle and core fundraising force.

Most polls give Emmaneul a small lead over Garia, but the same pollsters were surprised by Garcia's showing in the primary election and he has many hopeful and active progressive supporters, including the teacher's union, who are sick and tired of big business Democrats like Emmanuel, and Obama.


Note: I have it on excellent authority that Chuy is pronounced "Chewey" and that you haven't lived until you've met a New Mexican named Chuy.


Note: A Wall Street Journal article today suggests that the tide within the Democratic Party might be turning away from the Neoliberal (Reaganomics) economic policies embraced by New Democrats like Emmanuel, Obama, and New Mexico Democrats like Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall and Michelle Grisham and suggests it might manifest itself in a showdown over the future of Social Security, which New Democrats are surreptitiously seeking to privatize.





Sunday, April 5, 2015

Dreamers Dreams


Whenever Fidel makes another appearance in public it's announced with headlines, as it was this weekend. Fidel has millions of admirers around the world for whom he symbolizes the hope for a better world. He's as much admired for that as for standing up to El Norte and surviving its unrelenting efforts to destroy him, and Socialist Cuba for the example it sets for the world, that there's a path besides rapacious Capitalism.

Viva el sueƱo. ¡Viva Fidel.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Apple Capitalism

A few weeks ago I posted some of my remarks about the new Apple operating system Yosemite, including some complaints such as that it won't run the Image Capture program that comes on my Apple computers, and I was having to use iPhoto to download pictures from my camera. I don't like iPhoto because it makes 27 copies of every photo and hides them all over my computer.

I've since found out that I can also get photos out of my camera with the Preview program that comes on an Apple.


 It works pretty well but I haven't found a setting that makes it delete the photos from my camera after downloading them, which is handy thing.  But I did learn that I can quickly delete all the photos in my camera by just reformatting its memory card. It took awhile to find the right menu on the camera but once I did it was quick and easy.

Preview will also run my scanner. I use my scanner quite a bit, mostly when I bill for my sevices every two weeks. I scan copies of all my daily Trip Sheets for the previous two weeks and consolidate them on one page and send it in with the bill to justify what I'm charging. But lately my computer has been having a hard time "finding" the scanner and I was having to use a program that found the scanner itself. The printer software itself can do it, but Preview does it faster.

Since then I solved the original problem by updating the software on my printer/scanner/copier/dishwasher. It needed new drivers, apparently, that would work with Yosemite.

This kind of problem, the constant outmoding of things we're familiar with as computer companies change their software, used to be talked about and complained about but we have become so accustomed to it happening that I don't hear any complaining any more. People have internalized the fact that they have to spend a weekend or two a month learning how to use new software and gadgets they have to buy because the old ones are obsolete and don't run on new software.

Apple Capitalism

I've been having similar problems with my new iPhone. I say "new". It's last year's model, the  iPhone 5. Some of my old "apps" wouldn't run on it: Dragon Dictation, for example, which converts my voice to text, or the app that plays any one of the Pacifica radio stations through my cell phone.

Deleting old apps and downloading new ones helped in some cases but not in others. App, by the way, in case you're me, is a new word for program.

When I started in the trucking business two years ago I needed to have a phone bill to prove my residency to the state of New Mexico when I registered my truck. I got one quickly by getting an iPhone, and a service contract with AT&T. The bill was online in a day or two.

At the time Apple gave me an iPhone 4, which at the time was last year's model, for free if I signed up for a two year service contract. At the end of last month my two years was up so I called Apple to see if they'd give me another free phone. My old one was fine but I'd cracked the glass on it and was worried it would stop working. The iPhone 6 is out now, so I thought Apple might give me a free iPhone 5.

The woman on the phone from Apple looked me up and said "Yes, you're eligible for an upgrade!"

"Alright!" I said.

It turned out my upgrade was going to cost me $149. I could have got the $99 upgrade but I wanted the iPhone 5 with 32 gigabytes of memory, so I went ahead and go it.

I wasn't getting a new free cell phone, but then again I'd been half not expecting it to be entirely free, and the woman on the phone, who seemed to be a young Black woman working out of her home somewhere because I kept hearing random home noises in the background, was very nice, and I hung up feeling somewhat pleasant about the whole thing. I do need a cell phone to do various necessary communicating during the night, and I'm now set up for at least another year, maybe two.

After hanging up with the nice lady I got to thinking and went on the Apple web site and learned that a new iPhone 5 with 32 gigabytes of memory costs $149. You can get one with less memory for $99. In other words, a child abuser, or someone who's always late paying their bill, can get last year's iPhone for the same price as a loyal, responsible customer like me.

With my dying breath, I assure you, I will be trying to defeat Capitalism. If it's the last thing I do I will send these Capitalist bastards to hell.








Thursday, April 2, 2015

Houthi Frutti




Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin must be thankful Ted Cruz came along. He's drawing a lot of internet barbs now. This one might delight you if the old Buce Springsteen song Born in the USA spontaneously plays in your head now and then, like it does in mine. If that crashing drum back beat is interspersed with things my ex did that still make me cringe, see me.

On a somewhat related matter, if you're wondering what Yemen is all about, US academic Sheila Carapico has studied Yemen for a long time and has an article about it in The Nation.

Carapico explains where these Houthis who are taking over the place came from and why they're mad, and why they have a lot of support among the public. She starts out with a several paragraph condemnation of Saudi Arabia, I suppose because it's attacking Yemen along with the US and because it's long meddled in Yemen, which is on the same peninsula as Saudi Arabia. Or maybe Carapico just wanted to get some things off her chest.

Anyway, I heard her interviewed about Yemen in a podcast recently and she knows the topic. She was interviewed on a program called Voices of the Middle East and North Africa which is on the Berkeley Pacifica station.

Pacifica is a little network of five listener supported stations where you hear a pretty wide variety of voices coming mainly from the Left. There's also many programs that play music you don't hear anyplace else, and with modern technology you can stream any of the stations live. They have a Pacifica "app" now.

I've sometimes been listening to the morning program from WBAI, the New York station, on my cell phone on my way back from Holbrook. WBAI is where Amy Goodman came from. Currently it is has an African American station manager and predominantly African American on air people and it's interesting for that reason. I'm probably not the only Anglo who wonders what it would like if my race wasn't the dominant one. If, say, Latinos were in charge, what would life be like for me? (I had a little taste of that in my year driving the Albuquerque city bus.) Or if African Americans took over, would the issues important to me get aired on Pacifica radio, as often as I like and in the way I like?

Going by WBAI's morning program and the recurring bouts of uneasiness I feel while listening to it, the answer is no. Things like that, and the experience at the bus garage, may give me a little insight into what it's like for other groups, but I'm not sure if the experiences quite equate. It does though force me to investigate my own psyche. The fear of no longer being the master race, of course, is a lot of what's driving politics in the US right now. It isn't operating at a conscious level in most people. It's deep in the unconscious. It's there, though, and is causing anxiety and fear. Maybe not as much as what's being caused by the economic transition we're going through, but it will increase over time.

It's what makes these preachers and politicians get on the air and lie about what Indiana's discrimination law is all about, and it's driving a lot of Republican politics. Anglos, not just in the US but throughout the West, are going away. Our numbers are declining, in relative terms everywhere and in absolute numbers in many places. Our birth rates have declined while others have increased, and everybody is catching up to the advantages Anglos have enjoyed that came from technological superiority and Capitalism, and they are figuring things out, and we'll eventually lose our grip on power. It's going to be interesting. It will get ugly, I'm sure.





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Lonely Plight Of Purvi Patel

Purvi Patel, 33, of South Bend, IN, was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison for "feticide" -- basically for having a miscarriage and throwing the fetus in a dumpster.  The crime she was convicted of is one of those crimes the anti choice crowd got passed to go after people who perform abortions.

Patel was also convicted of child neglect, and some the handful of articles expressing displeasure at the verdict say they are displeased because the charges contradict each other.

And several of the articles I've read are using the case to charge the anti choice crowd with hypocrisy. They're saying that the anti choice crowd always promised that these "feticide" laws wouldn't be used to go after women, only abortion doctors.

What strikes me, however, is that there's no groundswell of outrage from women's rights advocates. There were no massive demonstrations to try to get the prosecutor in St Joe County, IN, to back down, and there's been nobody at this woman's side.

Abortion rights advocates like to say that pro-lifers are only pro life until the child is born, then they forget about the child. They point out that pro-lifers are usually the same people who do everything they can to take away programs that would help the child grow up healthy and happy.

In this case, it seems the woman's rights advocates are doing the same thing. If Purvi Patel had been denied an abortion presumably they'd be in Indiana in numbers and be providing lawyers and giving her all kinds of support and publicity, but once Purvi Parel's fetus was out of her womb, the women's rights groups and feminists weren't really interested, except to register some amount of displeasure after the fact, and to call the anti choice crowd hypocrites.

I wonder if there's a racial bias, too. Patel is the first woman ever convicted of the crime of feticide, i.e., killing a fetus. PRI says Patel "comes from a family of Hindu immigrants from India."

Another woman was charged with the "feticide," also in Indiana, but the charges were later dropped. Her name was Bei Bei Shuai. She's an immigrant from China.

In other words, both women are minorities. Neither was white.

Minority and poor feminists sometimes refer to a bias in feminism and say that mainstream feminism seems to be only concerned with the problems faced by white middle class and upper class women. I wonder if that's why Purvi Patel is facing 20 years in prison, and facing it alone.