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Sanctions Time

The Disaffected Lib - mar, 07/12/2016 - 12:58

This time it matters. The issue is the deadly business that could lurk behind China's refusal to accept the judgment of the international tribunal of The Hague over claims to territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea.

None of the fiercely disputed Spratly Islands, the UN body found, were “capable of generating extended maritime zones … [and] having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the tribunal found that it could — without delimiting a boundary — declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”

The tribunal found that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, constructing artificial islands and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. At Scarborough Shoal, where it said fishermen from the Philippines and China had traditional fishing rights, it said China had restricted these rights. It added that China had created a serious risk of collision when its patrol boats had physically obstructed Philippine fishing vessels.

The tribunal also condemned China’s land reclamation projects and its construction of artificial islands at seven features in the Spratly Islands, concluding that it had caused “severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened, or endangered species”.
Why sanctions? Well, it's a lot better than inching ever closer to war in the South China Sea. The military buildup there - Chinese, American as well as most of the nation states of the Asia-Pacific region is massive. Even the city state of Singapore is acquiring a fleet of modern attack subs. The region has already witnessed many incidents of provocation including China's construction of artificial islands on reefs complete with air strips and missile defence batteries. In Japan, Abe's recent victory in both houses has observers suspecting Japan will soon restore its full military capability, constitutionally muzzled since Japan's surrender in WWII. 
Canada has a direct interest in this. China has already said that it is entitled to Arctic Ocean seabed resources and says that the rules of the law of the sea are of no application to Arctic waters. China has also declared that it intends to maintain a permanent and substantial military presence in the Arctic. There's something that needs to be nipped in the bud.

The American Tipping Point. . . .

kirbycairo - mar, 07/12/2016 - 08:54
I grew up in the States in the turbulent times of the 1960s and early 70s. As a young child I lived in Detroit during the infamous riots there. My family also lived in LA during the Watts riots. Major race riots seem to break out in the US ever twenty years or so. And politicians and activists talk about how important it is to change things, and after the furor dies down nothing seems to change.

Actually, strike that. Looking at what is going on in the US this week, I realize that what has changed is that the police are now more like a paramiltary strike-force than a civilian police force. Take a look at video of protests in Baton Rouge and you can see just how much things have changed. You can find some video at the facebook page of Revolution News here. But this video is even more frightening.

This video lays bare all the hypocrisy of US politicians who are talking about peace and reconciliation. Talk of change, talk of peace, talk of community cooperation is utterly empty while you are using paramilitary forces in the face of peaceful protests! Putting armoured vehicles in communities flanked by military men armed in many cases with assault rifles is a demonstration of the very things against which people are protesting, and will lead to nothing good. There is a terrible and painful irony in the fact that in the face of state violence which is out of control (in the continual killing and violence against blacks), the state's response is to double down and ramp up the very image and nature of the violence. 
One needn't be an expert in political history to understand that this is a "third-world" response. I lived in El Salvador during the 90s just after the civil war there ended. I heard so many stories from regular people who hadn't been active or political but eventually became so as the State's response to protests became more and more violent. This is exactly what is happening the US today. When the state makes it clear that their agenda is military and violent, people who might otherwise watch from afar will understandably begin to question the real goals of the state. Not only has the US government ramped up the violence with their response but they have set in motion an inevitable legitimation crisis in the country as a whole. And sadly, they have also established a precedent that will further divide the country in an already divisive time. 
Looking back on the periodical racial tensions that have divided America over the past century, it seems that this is not just another blip on the screen of American racial problems. Rather, this is finally the moment when the paramilitary nature of the US state has been laid bare and the descent of the most powerful nation in the world into the chaos of a banana-republic-style dictatorship. 
This is, as they say, the tipping point. America and Americans will never be the same. 

Democracy's Shortcomings*

Politics and its Discontents - mar, 07/12/2016 - 07:50

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

― Winston S. Churchill

The above is clearly not in accord with the thinking of our 'betters,' aka the corporate elite, who are now lamenting the terrible things that democracy can bring about.

Billionaire CEO Steve Schwarzman first sounded the alarm in January at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"I find the whole thing sort of astonishing, and what's remarkable is the amount of anger, whether it's on the Republican side or the Democratic side," he said, in a slow cadence that served to highlight his confusion. "Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of the stuff going on on the Republican side. How is that happening? Why is that happening? What is the vein in America that is being tapped into, across parties, that's made people so unhappy?"

"Now," he concluded, smiling, "that's something you should spend some time on."Schwarzman's bewilderment gave way to introspection and analysis, leading some to conclude there is too much democracy, thereby paving the way for demagogues like Donald Trump, who 'prey' on the emotions of the masses.

James Traub, writing in Foreign Policy, goes further:
It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them. Is that “elitist”?Such an assertion provoked a strong response from Jake Johnson:
It is elites — including Traub himself — who have for decades cloaked devastating wars in the soaring rhetoric of "humanitarian intervention." It is elites who have forced upon crumbling economies austerity that has served to prolong and worsen already dire circumstances. It is elites who have peddled the fantasy of neoliberalism, which has created a system that lavishly rewards the wealthiest while leaving everyone else to compete for the rest. It is elites, political and corporate, who have devastated the environment in the name of profit. It is elites who have crashed the global economy.

The masses, for their part, are always there to pick up the costs.

And they're sick of it.Writing in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi says,
"Voters in America not only aren't over-empowered, they've for decades now been almost totally disenfranchised, subjects of one of the more brilliant change-suppressing systems ever invented.

People have no other source of influence ... Unions have been crushed. Nobody has any job security. Main Street institutions that once allowed people to walk down the road to sort things out with other human beings have been phased out. In their place now rest distant, unfeeling global bureaucracies.

Elites, by forcefully eliminating avenues for democratic progress, have cultivated the environment in which anti-establishment sentiment now thrives.

And the major political parties of the wealthiest nations on earth, in order to curry favor from big business, have pushed aside the needs of the working class, often disregarding workers as racists unworthy of attention. And the punditry has dutifully followed suit.And so the schism between the elites and the masses continues. What is left unspoken, however, is the role that all of us can play in counteracting this alleged debasement of democracy.

We have a choice. We can choose to go along our merry way, content and narcotized by the trivial diversions available to us, or we can speak forcefully whenever the occasion demands that we do, and we can refuse to cede authority to the uninformed and the ignorant by turning out in droves during elections, debates, etc.

There is nothing inherently wrong with our democratic institutions. It is its potential participants who need to be regularly reminded of their responsibilities in facilitating their effective discharge. To say that there is no real choice in our political leadership may be true to some extent. But to use that as a reason for withdrawal will only serve the interests of a minority at the expense of the majority.

Anger is justified, but it must be tempered with reason. Otherwise, all will indeed be lost.

*Thanks to Kev for bringing this to my attention.Recommend this Post

Dallas In Context

Northern Reflections - mar, 07/12/2016 - 05:15

Chris Hedges puts the recent violence in the United States into a larger context. It's what happens, he writes, when the corporate state has become firmly entrenched:

Globalization has created a serious problem of “surplus” or “redundant” labor in deindustrialized countries. The corporate state has responded to the phenomenon of “surplus” labor with state terror and mass incarceration. It has built a physical and legal mechanism that lurks like a plague bacillus within the body politic to be imposed, should wider segments of society resist, on all of us.

The physics of human nature dictates that the longer the state engages in indiscriminate legalized murder, especially when those killings can be documented on video or film and disseminated to the public, the more it stokes the revenge assassinations we witnessed in Dallas. This counterviolence serves the interests of the corporate state. The murder of the five Dallas police officers allows the state to deify its blue-uniformed enforcers, demonize those who protest police killings and justify greater measures of oppression, often in the name of reform. 
Therefore, policing becomes militarized. And the response is also militarized -- a sniper on the rooftop. All of this takes place in a community which lacks empathy:

Neoliberalism, like all utopian ideologies, requires the banishment of empathy. The inability to feel empathy is the portal to an evil often carried out in the name of progress. A world without empathy rejects as an absurdity the call to love your neighbor as yourself. It elevates the cult of the self. It divides the world into winners and losers. It celebrates power and wealth. Those who are discarded by the corporate state, especially poor people of color, are viewed as life unworthy of life. They are denied the dignity of work and financial autonomy. They are denied an education and proper medical care, meaning many die from preventable illnesses. They are criminalized. They are trapped from birth to death in squalid police states. And they are blamed for their own misery. 
Something to think about in these days following the death of Elie Wiesel.


Tony Clement and the Con Clown Meeting in Muskoka

Montreal Simon - mar, 07/12/2016 - 02:45

As announced, today is the day Tony Clement, the King of Muskoka aka Gaz Boy or Gas Bag, will make what he calls an "important announcement." 

When he will solemnly declare that he too wants to be the new leader of the Harper Party.

And while the poor scribblers in the MSM draw straws to see who gets the deathly assignment of covering that Con clown's "important announcement." 

And who will be forced to stifle their yawns, and try not to die laughing.

I'm happy to report that Clement's doomed leadership bid just got even more hilarious.

Read more »

from the front lines, day eight

we move to canada - lun, 07/11/2016 - 18:52
Another amazing day!









Amerika's Untermensch

The Disaffected Lib - lun, 07/11/2016 - 12:58

Today they're loosely gathered as the Tea Party. A decade or two before that they were called White Trash. To America's founding fathers they were were called "manure" or "offscourings" a term for human faeces. They're as American as apple pie.

I've just ordered Louisiana State University professor Nancy Isenberg's new book, "White Trash, the 400 year untold history of class in America." For now we'll have to be content with Crawford Kilian's review in today's Tyee.

Isenberg ...makes a persuasive case that 16th century England saw North America not as a source of wealth like Mexico and Peru, but as a dump. Colonization advocates like Richard Hakluyt proposed exporting petty criminals, prostitutes and those who were simply poor, just to get them out of the way.

Hakluyt and his colleagues saw them as "manure," better exploited overseas than costing money in British jails. Their function would be to clear land and push the Aboriginals back. The survivors would breed new generations that could be impressed into the army and navy as cannon fodder.

...They were "squatters" and "crackers" (derived from the expression "crack a fart"). They were human waste, trash -- at best, compost to support worthier people.

Poor whites had formed a kind of slave class in the early years of the colonies, before Africans largely displaced them. They weren't even considered much use. Their children were malnourished and sick. Today we would call them stunted, kept from full physical and intellectual growth by lack of food.

...The Founding Fathers believed in class and race divisions as sincerely as anyone. Equally sincerely, they believed their own class had been bred to rule; "democracy" was a dirty word. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the American colonies' Declaration of Independence, supported a vague ideal of "yeomen" farmers, free whites who would support their families on their own land, fight the wars of the ruling class, but never challenge their rulers.

The reality, of course, was a handful of great landowners employing a landless class of poor whites, and not a yeoman in sight. (The great 18th century criticism of slavery was that it undercut poor whites' willingness to do the same work done by slaves.)

...As Isenberg notes, poor whites were able "to refashion the redneck and embrace white trash as an authentic heritage." By the end of the 20th century, Bill Clinton (a white trash Rhodes Scholar) was both president and "Slick Willie," attracting voters by entertaining them with his sax playing and his sexual adventures. Then came Sarah Palin, and now Donald Trump.

But these were all exceptions. Most poor whites settled for regular blue-collar jobs. When the economy became stagnant in the 1980s, they saw their real incomes stagnate also -- assuming their jobs didn't move to Mexico or China. They found themselves competing for jobs with black people.

As Lyndon B. Johnson once observed, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

...Some working-class whites who go into police work bring such an attitude with them and find it often intensified by police culture itself. Hence the tendency of white American police officers to shoot black American civilians in disproportionate numbers: 102 unarmed blacks in 2015, five times the rate of killing unarmed whites. Black hostility to police is therefore predictable.

The current spate of police killings, and the killing of five Dallas police officers by a black army reservist with mental health problems, are also predictable. Isenberg's book, a chronicle of deaths foretold, shows how such violence became not only predictable but a way of life.

What is impossible to predict is a way out of this four-century nightmare.


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