America: The Farewell Tour – Chris Hedges

 

 

Welcome to on contact;  I’m Hugh Hamilton.

Today we discuss the decline of the American Empire in a two-part interview  with Chris Hedges about his new book.

Trump was not elected because of the Podesta emails or because of Russian Box  on Facebook.  Trump was elected because of the massive  social inequality and the sense of  entrapment, the frustration and the rage on the part of a betrayed working class and they were betrayed primarily by the  Democratic Party in this sense because  the Democratic Party continued to speak as if it cared and protected their interests and yet, especially under the Clinton administration, sold them down the river.

In his seminal work on moral man and immoral society, the eminent American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr famously observed that no nation has ever made a frank avowal of its real  imperial motives.

It always claims to be primarily concerned with the peace and prosperity of the people whom it subjugates.  As with its imperial predecessors this has been equally true of the United States for well over a century now.  But historians are warning  that the age of American Empire is coming to an end.

In his latest book, America The Farewell Tour, Pulitzer prize winning journalist and author Chris Hedges argues that the nation is at the precipice of an emerging dystopia and overseeing this descent at the  highest levels of government is a motley collection of imbeciles, con artists, thieves, opportunists, and war mongering generals.

Chris is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, a former war correspondent and author of eleven books.

I am pleased and honored that he joins me now On Contact to discuss his latest  work.

Hello Chris, thank you and it’s a  pleasure to see you again  …don’t do too good a job … well I really can’t after such an excellent book and this is certainly long overdue.  You write that short of a sudden and  widespread popular revolt the collapse of the American Empire appears  unstoppable meaning that the United  States as we know it will no longer exist within a decade or at most two.

That’s a very narrow window.

Well, all the signs are there.  Seventy, roughly seventy percent of the American population are living in severe economic distress; the complete paralyzation of the political  system; it’s been captured by this  corporate cabal and redirected all of  the institutions and mechanisms of government to their own enrichment and  consolidation of power, the burlesque  that now takes the place of political  the political process especially the electoral process, the burlesque which  takes the place of the news on CNN which  it’s all about revenue it’s all about  it’s not about news anymore it’s that  fusion of entertainment or I would  say the masquerading of entertainment ,trivia celebrity, celebrity gossip as  news and the de-industrialization of the country …

Read more here

 

Challenges facing the Latin American left

Calls for Lula’s freedom are being heard across Latin America. Photo: Ntn24.com

Forces on the left are mobilizing in Latin America and the Caribbean to confront the right wing offensive which, encouraged and financed by the United States, is underway in the region, with the use of strategies meant to foment political destabilization and discredit progressive governments in power and former elected leaders.
Political leaders, intellectuals, and representatives of social movements are evaluating the unfavorable correlation of forces developing over the last few years, and charting action plans, taking the victory of progressive candidate

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in Mexico, as a positive sign.
“The storm arrived and shut the window opened at the end of the 90s… The question now posed, for the Brazilian left especially, is how to open the window again,” recently wrote Valter Pomar, a member of Brazil’s Workers’ Party and a professor of International Affairs at the Federal University, in his essay on how to move forward.

In his opinion, the left needs strong candidates to challenge the right in elections, but this is not enough since the strategic “utility” of legislators and government leaders rises and falls in accordance with political perspectives and the level of organization outside of the institutional environment, implying the need for a change in methods on the left, and a recovery of spaces lost alongside the working class.

In Latin America, “The challenge for this possible left is that of building alternatives to capitalism in the economic field, where the current plan is the Uber-ization of the economy; total deregulation – except when the state is needed to dismantle a progressive gain; but above all, build alternatives in the cultural field, challenge capitalist hegemony in the cultural (and media) environment to construct a people, not consumer citizens deluded with false middle class hopes,” writes political analyst Katu Arkonada on the teleSUR blog.

Likewise, essayist, journalist, sociologist, university professor, and political analyst Olmedo Beluche, wrote in Rebelión: “Without nationalization of the national banking and financial system, without state control of foreign trade; and without the nationalization of large industries, that is, without truly socialist measures, Latin American governments in general are at the mercy of the bourgeoisie, of imperialism, and economic sabotage, as the case of Venezuela has repeatedly shown.”

This contradiction, he argues, explains the limitations of the left and the difficulty it faces in responding to the offensive being mounted by national right wing forces supported by U.S. imperialism, plus the reformist attitude of leaders who docilely accept the formalities of bourgeois institutions.

The majority of analysts agree that the progressive cycle on the continent is in crisis, but not coming to an end. Although some popular governments were removed from office via elections (Argentina) or through semi-legal or judicial maneuvers (Brazil), the progressive era’s hard core of change has not collapsed: Bolivia and Venezuela, accompanied by Nicaragua and the Cuban Revolution.

“The two projects, along with Nicaragua and Cuba, which propose going beyond capitalist relations in the long run, are on their feet, indicating that the strategic battle of our time is defending these processes,” as was made clear during the 24th annual meeting of the São Paulo Forum, held in Havana this past July.

At this gathering of the region’s political forces, proposals were made for sustained action based on the idea that government positions won by the left must reinforce their legitimate hegemony and build popular power. Peoples with political consciousness are always the best antidote to the return of the right in the Americas.

STRATEGIES FROM THE LEFT

– Systematically and creatively disseminate the economic, social, and political gains of popular governments that, for one reason or another, have suffered reverses, as well as those which have endured.
– Strengthen a constructive, serene debate on the historic, political, and ideological limitations of each process.
– Seek more efficient mechanisms for organization, consciousness building, and political participation of the social base committed to post-neoliberal change.

– Renovate relations between government political parties and popular movements with nationalist and patriotic positions, taking a favorable position on the need for a state that assures democratic functioning in the construction of consensus.
– Build consensus among segments of society that share, or could share, demands, interests, and revolutionary or progressive change.

– Strengthen the cause of Puerto Rican independence, as a symbol of the anti-colonial struggle to be defended.
– Build active participation of the people and national majorities in the political process of each country.

– Provide decisive support and encourage liberation efforts and anti-capitalist ideas within social movements.

– Promote efforts to advance the integration of what Martí called Our America.
– Support, in all international spaces available, any action taken to reduce the level of domination and hegemony of the United States in our countries, as essential and possible.

How is a pretext for a cold war manufactured?

Source:  Granma
September 6 2018

Author: 

A pretext is all that is needed to start a conflict, something with which the United States has experience, from the Spanish-American War, to Vietnam, Iraq… but its latest efforts to vilify Cuba are unique

a pretext for war.jpgPhoto: Ishmael Francisco

A pretext is all that is needed to start a conflict, something with which the United States has experience, from the Spanish-American War, to Vietnam, Iraq… but its latest efforts to vilify Cuba are unique.
Last year, the U.S. asserted that its diplomatic personnel in Cuba had been affected by “sonic attacks,” an accusation that has been developed in the media in an attempt to justify launching a Cold War.
A timeline of events illustrates the current administration’s efforts to undermine the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

2017
February
On the 17th the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Havana report, for the first time, to Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic in Washington, the occurrence of alleged acoustic attacks between November 2016 and February 2017.
April and May
On April 25, two new alleged sonic attacks are reported.
On May 23, the State Department orders two Cuban diplomats in Washington to leave the country.
June and August
Three meetings between U.S. experts and their Cuban counterparts take place on the Island. The U.S. acknowledges that it has no evidence to support its allegations.
September
The Cuban Foreign Minister informs the U.S. Secretary of State that Cuba rigorously fulfills its obligations with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. The withdrawal of 60% of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana is announced, and the State Department recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to Cuba, absurdly citing the risk of sonic attacks.
October
Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, states that the number of affected individuals has reached 24. On October 3, the expulsion of 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington is announced, which Cuba denounces as “unjustified” and “unacceptable”.
2018
January
The AP news agency reports that the FBI has found no evidence of the alleged “attacks” after investigations and several trips to Havana. On January 9 a hearing is held in the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, organized by Marco Rubio, to impose the accusation, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever.
February
On February 14, a controversial article is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), under the title “Neurological symptoms among U.S. diplomats in Cuba.”
An attempt is made to use the text as the scientific confirmation of the Washington hypothesis. However, the authors Christopher C. Muth and Steven L. Lewis affirm that “a unifying explanation of the symptoms experienced by the officials (…) remains vague and the effect of a possible exposure to auditory phenomena is not clear”.
April
The Canadian government reports the recall of diplomats’ families in Havana, since 10 of its employees have reported symptoms. Cuba respects the decision, while describing it as unjustified.
May
On May 29, the U.S. Embassy in Havana reports that on the 27th a new victim was reported. No interviews with the individual are allowed. The United States issues an advisory to its citizens living in China, warning them to seek medical help for symptoms such as those noted in Cuba.
June
On June 5, the U.S. Secretary of State reports the creation of a Joint Task Force to respond to what are described as “unexplained health incidents” affecting personnel stationed abroad, specifically in Cuba and the People’s Republic of China. Cuba reiterates that there is no evidence to support such a statement.
August
Neurologists and doctors from several countries question the conclusions of the report made by doctors from the University of Pennsylvania supporting the U.S. government’s version of events. The U.S. announces further reductions of its personnel and services in Havana.
September
On the 1st, The New York Times cites the University of Pennsylvania report, and on the 3rd, the Cuban Foreign Ministry reiterates that U.S. arguments continue to lose credibility over time.

Fidel: Why there a single party in Cuba

Source:  Granma
August 17 2018

Excerpt from speech by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz closing the National Assembly of People’s Power Third Legislature’s 10th period of ordinary sessions

a single party in cuba.jpgThe closing event of the second congress of the Cuban Communist Party.  Photo:  Archive

Multiparty systems are imperialism’s great tool to keep societies fragmented, divided in a thousand pieces; making societies incapable of solving problems and defending their interests.

A country divided in ten pieces is the perfect country to dominate, to subjugate, because the nation is without will, since the will of the nation is divided in many fragments; the strength of the nation is divided in many fragments; all intelligence is divided; and what it has is a constant, interminable battle among parts of the society.

A Third World country cannot afford this luxury. Actually many do give themselves this luxury, clearly for quite a while they have, and for quite a while a large part have been subjugated and dominated.

Clearly, for a society that must confront the problems of underdevelopment and develop under the difficult conditions for development existent in today’s world, unity is essential…

… Thus I have the most profound conviction that the existence of one party is, and must be, for a long historical period – no one can predict how long – the form of political organization of our society

National Black Police Association Stands Behind Colin Kaepernick

Source:  Officers.com
September 6 2018

kaepernick kneeling.jpgSan Francisco 49ers’ Eric Reid (35), quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and
Eli Harold (58) take a knee during the singing of the national anthem before a
game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 at Levi’s
Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.  
JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP/TNS

Mr. Parker:

It is with great dismay that we were made aware of a letter that you received from the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) regarding your use of Colin Kaepernick in your new “Just Do It” advertising campaign. The National Black Police Association (NBPA) is not in agreement with NAPO on this matter, and we strongly condemn their call for police officers and their families to boycott Nike and its products.

Your inclusion of Mr. Kaepernick in your ads seems appropriate to us. We live in a country where the 1St Amendment is a right of the people. Mr. Kaepernick chose to exercise his right where his passion was on the football field. NAPO believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s choice to openly protest issues surrounding police brutality, racism and social injustices in this country makes him anti-police. On the contrary, the NBPA believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s stance is in direct alignment with what law enforcement stands for-the protection of a people, their human rights, their dignity, their safety, and their rights as American citizens. NAPO has shown an adeptness at maintaining the police status quo and the tone in their letter further validates Mr. Kaepernick’s concerns, as it undermines the trust that is needed by law enforcement in order for the profession to maintain its legitimacy. That NAPO has chosen this matter to take a stance, only perpetuates the narrative that police are racist, with no regard, acknowledgement, respect, or understanding of the issues and concerns of the African- American community.

Related:  Serena Shows Her Admiration for Colin Kaepernick Over Nike Ad, TeleSUR

Your quote “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” is also appropriate as it relates to Mr. Kaepernick. For NAPO to presuppose that Mr. Kaepernick has not made sacrifices because he did not die on a battlefield, shows you just how out of touch NAPO is with the African-American community. We would like for them to stop their false narrative that you are not worthy of respect unless you were in the military or worked in law enforcement. The beauty of this country are the countless sacrifices that all people make in their everyday lives. The African?American community makes a sacrifice each time a life is unjustly lost at the hands of the very people who should protect them. A sacrifice is made each time the criminal justice system treats people of color as less than. A sacrifice is made each time a letter is sent asking officers to boycott a corporation, without asking those very African-American officers who are most affected, what their opinion is.

If they had asked the NBPA, we would have told them that they are out of line, and that the NBPA supports any person or group who exercises their right to peacefully protest against any form of social injustice, including police brutality and racism.

Related:  Nike Features NFL’s Kaepernick in Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ ad

The NBPA proudly supports Nike and your use of Mr. Kaepernick in your new “Just Do It” advertising campaign. Truth and upholding the Constitutional rights of citizens, are cornerstones of leadership in policing. Our mission includes striving constantly to bridge the gap between law enforcement and our communities we are committed to ensuring equity for the community, as we work to enhance trust, legitimacy, transparency, and accountability in policing.

We will likely be buying and wearing lots of Nike products in the near future.

Best wishes,

Sonia Y.W. Pruitt

National Chairperson

Nike Features NFL’s Kaepernick in Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ Campaign

Source:  TeleSUR
September 3 2018

nike ad features kaepernick.jpgSan Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick pumps his fist as he
acknowledges the cheers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in
Los Angeles, California, U.S. on December 24, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Nike unveiled the campaign last week by releasing a film featuring Serena Williams entitled “Voice of Belief.”

Nike has chosen Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racism, as one of the faces for advertisements commemorating the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” slogan, amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s ire.

RELATED:  US: Kaepernick’s Case Against NFL For Collusion ‘Will Continue’

“Colin has been a Nike athlete since 2011,” Nike spokeswoman Sandra Carreon-John said on Monday. “Colin is one of a number of athletes being featured as part of our 30th anniversary of Just Do It.”

Based on images sent by Nike, other athletes featured in the ad campaign include New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., skateboarder Lacey Baker and Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who is an amputee with one hand.

Former NFL quarterback Kaepernick posted a black-and-white close-up of himself on Instagram and Twitter on Monday featuring the Nike logo and “Just do it” slogan along with the quote, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Gino Fisanotti, a Nike vice president of brand for North America, according to ESPN, which first reported Nike’s decision to use Kaepernick as part of the ad campaign.

Kaepernick was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers for six years. He raised the anger of nationalist and white supremacist sectors by taking a knee while the anthem was played before games during the NFL’s 2016 season to draw attention to police killings of black men and other issues.

The anthem protests, soon embraced by other players, also raised the ire of Trump, who has said he would love to see NFL owners fire football players who disrespect the American flag.

The NFL this season has adopted a rule requiring all players to stand during the anthem, although it gave them the option of staying off the field until the ceremony was over. Even so, the protests have persisted through the preseason and the NFL has said it is in discussions with the players union on the policy.

Kaepernick and another former 49ers player, Eric Reid, have not been signed by any of the NFL’s 32 teams since their protests spread around the league. Both have filed collusion grievances against NFL owners.

On Thursday, arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied the league’s request to dismiss the case, which means he found sufficient evidence for the case to continue and perhaps go to trial.

News of Nike’s ad campaign broke just days before the first game of the NFL season on Thursday, when the controversy over pre-game protests could flare anew.

Kaepernick received an enthusiastic welcome from fans at the U.S. Open’s showcase tennis match between Serena and Venus Williams on Friday night when he was shown raising his fist on the big screen.

Nike has in recent months been under scrutiny for its culture and accusations that women are not adequately represented in its leadership ranks. Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker apologized for the company’s work culture in May to employees in a company-wide meeting.

Nike, which has said it opposes discrimination and is committed to diversity and inclusion, previously announced “unconscious bias training” for its managers and a review of its human-resources systems.

Libya in chaos seven years after NATO’s ‘liberation’, but who cares?

Source:  rt.com
September 7 2018

libya seven years after.jpgA historic building ruined during a conflict, Benghazi, Libya, February 28, 2018 © Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters

Libya remains a lawless land, with rival militias fighting battles in the streets of Tripoli and over 1 million people in need of aid. But the West’s ‘liberal interventionists’ aren’t interested in the catastrophe they created.

Hundreds escape prison amid deadly clashes in Tripoli,” a headline on the BBC News website declared this week.

Over 60 people have died in the current fighting with many more injured and hundreds of ordinary citizens displaced. The latest disturbances began after the Tarhuna’s 7th Infantry ”Kaniat‘ Brigade made advances into the capital from the south and clashed with a coalition of Tripoli militias.

The situation in Libya is worse than in Syria

It’s really hard to keep up with who’s fighting who. If you think the situation in Syria is complicated, you haven’t been paying much attention to Libya. As the BBC article acknowledged: “Libya has faced continuing chaos since NATO-backed militia forces, some of them rivals, overthrew long-serving ruler Colonel Gaddafi in October 2011.”

Libya has rival governments but even they don’t control the majority of the country. There is no ‘rule of law’, only the rule of the gun. Libya’s regression from the country with the highest Human Development Index figure in the whole of Africa just ten years ago, to a fragmented and very dangerous failed state, is hard to take in. Last year, the UN Agency IOM reported that slave markets had returned to the country.

Economic and societal collapse

Economic and societal collapse has had a devastating impact on the life of ordinary Libyans.

Take health care. A 2017 Service Availability and Readiness Assessment survey, conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, found that 17 out of 97 hospitals are closed and only four hospitals were functional between 75-80% of their capacity. Over 20% primary health care facilities are closed and the rest are not “well ready for service delivery“.

In May 2016, the WHO also expressed ‘great concern’ over the deaths of 12 new-borns in the Sabah Medical Centre neonatal intensive care unit in Sabha, southern Libya. It records: “The deaths occurred as a result of a bacterial infection and lack of specialized health staff to provide medical care.

Education

The education system is also in a state of collapse or near-collapse. In 2016, it was reported that the start of the school year was postponed because of a “lack of books, lack of security and many other factors.”

It was noted that the Libyan school year had not been regular since the fall of Gaddafi. This year, UNICEF said that 489 schools were affected by the conflict and that around 26,000 students had been forced to change schools due to closures.

1.1 m people in Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance

UNICEF also says that 378,000 children in Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance, 268,000 are in need of safe water, sanitation and hygiene and 300,000 are in need of education in emergency support. Overall 1.1m people in Libya are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Given the dire situation it is no surprise that so many Libyans have left, or are leaving. In 2014, it was reported that between 600,000 and 1m had fled to Tunisia.

If we add those who went to Egypt and elsewhere, the figure is likely to be in excess of 2 million, quite staggering when you consider that the 2011 population of Libya was around 6 million.

An invasion based on lies

As I argued in a previous op-ed, the Western assault on Libya was an even worse crime than the invasion of Iraq because it came later. There was really no excuse for anyone, seeing how the ‘regime change’ operation of 2003 had turned out, supporting a similar venture in North Africa.

Yet, those responsible for what happened have faced no comeback. The UK Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, is blamed for Brexit (by Remainers), but not for what he did to Libya and the claims he made to justify the military action. This is despite a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report concluding, five years later, that “the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President in 2011, faces a trial (or trials) in relation to three different investigations, including accepting money from Gaddafi to help his election campaign, but he has not yet been prosecuted for his role in the war.

Bernard-Henri Levy, the philosopher considered by some to be the intellectual godfather of the Western intervention – and who boasted “we are the first to say that Qaddafi is no longer the legal representative,” is performing a one-man anti-Brexit play, as the country he helped ‘liberate’ burns.

What Obama and Clinton did to Libya is far worse than anything Trump has done up to now.

Stateside and in ‘liberal’ circles across the West, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are lionised for not being Donald Trump, but what the duo did to Libya is far worse than anything Trump has done up to now.

And the British Home Secretary under whose watch control orders on members of the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were lifted, one Theresa May, is now Prime Minister, and trying to take the moral high ground against Russia. To add insult to injury, it is a politician who opposed the NATO action in 2011, Jeremy Corbyn, who is under constant media attack and painted as beyond the pale. Just how wrong is that?

A great crime has been committed

Returning to the current violence, a UN-brokered ceasefire to end the fighting in south Tripoli is reported at time of writing to be holding, but bearing in mind how previous ceasefires have collapsed, we can’t be optimistic. Part of the problem is that the country is awash with arms. The sad truth is that Libya is broken and probably will never be put back together again. A great crime has been committed, but you would never think it, judging by the lack of media coverage.

We’ve had a lot of debate this summer in Britain about Israel’s ‘right to exist’- and whether challenging this makes one ‘anti-Semitic’ but the reality is that Libya – as a modern, functioning state – has ceased to exist. And no one in elite, establishment circles seems the least bit bothered. Consider how many column inches were devoted to ‘saving’ Libya in the build up to NATO’s ‘humanitarian’ intervention seven and a half years ago, with the lack of opinion pieces about the country today.

Try googling the names of some of the leading media war hawks and ‘Libya’ and you see they tend to go as silent after 2011 – shifting their attention to propagandising for ‘regime change’ in Syria. The only conclusion one can draw is their sole interest in the country was seeing Muammar Gaddafi toppled. After that was achieved, who cares?

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