Daily News Digest March 14, 2019

Daily News Digest March 14, 2019

Daily News Digest Archives

Laura Gray’s cartoon from the front page of The Militant August 18, 1945, under banner headline: “There Is No Peace”

During This Economic Crisis, Capitalism’s Three Point Political Program: Austerity, Scapegoat Blacks, Minorities, and ‘Illegal’ Immigrants for Unemployment, and  The Iron Heel.

Democracy?:  As the Capitalist Robber Barons Steal from the 99%: Only the 1% Voted For Austerity — The 99% Should Decide On Austerity — Not Just The 1% Who Profit From Austerity!  Under Austerity, All of the World Will Eventually Be Pauperized, Humbled, and Desecrated Like Greece and Puerto Rico.

Image of the Day:

What is the Difference?

Quotes of the Day:

Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation. — Atifete Jahjaga

The widespread misunderstanding and confusion about socialism and democracy has profound causes. These causes must be frankly stated and examined before they can be removed. And we must undertake to remove them, if we are to try in earnest to get to the root of the problem.

Shakespeare’s Marc Antony reminded us that evil quite often outlives its authors. That is true in the present case also. Stalin is dead; but the crippling influence of Stalinism on the minds of a whole generation of people who considered themselves socialists or communists lives after Stalin. This is testified to most eloquently by those members and fellow travellers of the Communist Party who have formally disavowed Stalinism since the Twentieth Congress, while retaining some of its most perverted conceptions and definitions.  Socialism, in the old days that I can recall, was often called the society of the free and equal, and democracy was defined as the rule of the people. These simple definitions still ring true to me, as they did when I first heard them many years ago. But in later years we have heard different definitions which are far less attractive. These same people whom I have mentioned —leaders of the Communist Party and fellow travellers who have sworn off Stalin without really changing any of the Stalinist ideas they assimilated—still blandly describe the state of affairs in the Soviet Union, with all its most exaggerated social and economic inequality, ruled over by the barbarous dictatorship of a privileged minority, as a form of “socialism”. And they still manage to say, with straight faces, that the hideous police regimes in the satellite countries, propped up by Russian military force, are some kind of “people’s democracies”.  When such people say it would be a fine idea for all of us to get together in the struggle for socialism and democracy, it seems to me it would be appropriate to ask them, by way of preliminary inquiry: “Just what do you mean by socialism, and what do you mean by democracy? Do you mean what Marx and Engels and Lenin said? Or do you mean what Stalin did?” They are not the same thing as can be easily proved, and it is necessary to choose between one set of definitions and the other. —James P. Cannon, Socialism and Democracy

In the Soviet Union, it is a struggle to restore the genuine workers’ democracy established by the revolution of 1917. Workers’ democracy has become a burning necessity to assure the harmonious transition to socialism. That is the meaning of the political revolution against the bureaucracy now developing throughout the whole Soviet sphere, which every socialist worthy of the name unreservedly supports. There is no sense in talking about regroupment with people who don’t agree on that, on defense and support of the Soviet workers against the Soviet bureaucrats.  In the United States, the struggle for workers’ democracy is preeminently a struggle of the rank and file to gain democratic control of their own organizations. That is the necessary condition to prepare the final struggle to abolish capitalism and “establish democracy” in the country as a whole. No party in this country has a right to call itself socialist unless it stands foursquare for the rank-and-file workers of the United States against the bureaucrats. — James P. Cannon, Socialism and Democracy

 Videos of the Day:

UK Parliament Rejects Latest Brexit Deal, Corbyn Calls for New Elections

Venezuela Update: Massive Blackout, US Unconventional Warfare?While Venezuela struggled with the most massive blackout in its history, president Maduro said there is evidence that a US cyber-attack caused the blackout. Meanwhile, Trump administration officials continue the offensive against Venezuela and the NYT uncovers false reporting


The United States is not a Democracy (A government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly)! Only the 1%, through their ownership of the Republicrats and who profit from war and the war budget, vote for War and the war budget — A policy, which Gore Vidal called a  Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace.— The 99% Should Decide On War — Not Just The 1% Who Profit From War!  Under a Democracy, The 99% would and should have the right to vote on the policy of Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace!

US Negotiations: Masters of Defeats  Introduction: The US is currently engaged in negotiations with at least a dozen countries; which involve fundamental political, military and economic issues. The US has adopted diplomatic strategies in the face of its ‘inability’ to secure military victories. The purpose of adopting a diplomatic approach is to secure through negotiations, in part or fully, goals and advantages unattainable through military means. While diplomacy is less subject to military and economic losses it does require making concessions. Negotiations are only successful if there are reciprocal benefits to both parties. Those regimes which demand maximum advantages and minimum concessions, usually fail or succeed because they are based on very unequal power relations. We will proceed to evaluate Washington’s success or failure in recent negotiations and analyze the reasons and consequences for the outcome . By  Prof. James Petras

States Begin To Crack Down On Broker Abuse As The Sec Dithers Less than two weeks after a new Democratic majority took office in the New York state Senate, legislators introduced the Investment Transparency Act, a bill seeking to protect ordinary investors from aggressive salespeople in the financial industry. The legislation, if it passes, would require brokers to tell their clients point blank, “I am not a fiduciary. Therefore, I am not required to act in your best interests, and am allowed to recommend investments that may earn higher fees for me or my firm, even if those investments may not have the best combination of fees, risks, and expected returns for you.” By Susan Antilla

Intercept Investigation Leads To Record Fines Over Foreign Campaign Contributions The Federal Election Commission has unveiled one of the most significant enforcement actions in its history, citing a 2016 investigative series by The Intercept. The series, “Foreign Influence,” detailed how Right to Rise USA, a Super PAC supporting the 2016 presidential candidacy of Jeb Bush, received $1.3 million in campaign donations from American Pacific International Capital, a California corporation controlled by two Chinese citizens. The FEC fined APIC $550,000 and Right to Rise USA $390,000. The total of $940,000 is the third-largest financial penalty the FEC has ever issued. It is illegal for foreign nationals to contribute money in connection with U.S. elections. However, APIC and Right to Rise USA attempted to use an odd loophole created by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision to funnel overseas cash into American politics. By Lee Fangand Jon Schwarz


We’re Living in the Warmest Decade Since Record-Keeping Began 2018 was the fourth warmest year ever recorded, with the only warmer years being 2015, 2016 and 2017. On top of that, the Met Office reported that we are currently in the middle of what is likely to be the warmest decade since record keeping began, so expect more “record warmest” years in the near future. A recent report warned that if current climate disruption trends continue (and there is no reason to believe they will lessen) the Himalayas could lose most of their glaciers by 2100 as they warm up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit (8°F). This would bring radical disruptions to food and water supplies for upwards of 1.5 billion people, in addition to a mass migration crisis. By Dahr Jamail

Big Energy:

‘Monumental step backwards’ – the $1bn gas pipeline project dividing New York Environmental groups oppose the underwater pipeline that would bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New York A battle is erupting over a proposed gas pipeline on the doorstep of New YorkCity, with environmental groups claiming the project is unnecessary and would lock in planet-warming emissions for decades to come. Energy company Williams, based in Oklahoma, plans to build a 23-mile-long underwater pipeline through New York’s lower bay to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New York. The $1bn project would link existing infrastructure in New Jersey, to the Rockaways in the New York borough of Queens. By Oliver Milman

 Civil Rights/Black Liberation:Freedom Rider: Justice and Paul Manafort  Now that Trump’s sleazy associates are facing prison, lots of Democrats that never gave a damn about mass Black incarceration are self-righteously blasting the criminal injustice system. “White people suddenly claiming concern about the racist criminal justice system should have to prove their sincerity.” By every measure black people are the most oppressed of any group in the United States. We consistently rank last in every positive outcome and first in every one that is negative. The mass incarceration system exemplifies this dynamic more than any of the other woes we face. Black people are a mere 13% of the population yet make up half of those held behind bars. Incarceration is the norm for minor offenses and sentences are usually as draconian as possible. So it is understandable that the 47 month sentence handed down to Paul Manafort would elicit so much outrage. The man who briefly served as chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential chairman was found guilty of tax and bank fraud. Robert Mueller recommended a 19-year sentence but judge T.S. Ellis decided otherwise. By Margaret Kimberley, BAR editor and senior columnist 

Chelsea Manning Defies Secret Grand Jury, Julian Assange Scoops Michael Cohen  Whistleblower Chelsea Manning is jailed for refusing to testify against Julian Assange, whose house-confinement puts the lie to much of the Russiagate fantasy.  “No journalist will go to prison for Russiagate lies even if they lead to nuclear war.”In 2010, former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning leaked the “Collateral Murder ” video and the Iraq and Afghan War Logs, which implicate the Pentagon in war crimes and crimes against humanity. She leaked them to Wikileaks, and for that she was court-martialed, sentenced to 35 years in prison, then released after seven because President Obama commuted her sentence. — Ann Garrison, BAR contributor BAR Book Forum: Sharla Fett’s “Recaptured Africans”The illegal slave trade continued right up to the Civil War, requiring US authorities to “recapture” and then expel the human cargo. “U.S. law mandated the ‘removal’ of Africans seized from illegal slavers, which led to their detention in federal camps and a second forced passage to Liberia.” In this series, we ask acclaimed authors to answer five questions about their book. This week’s featured author is Sharla Fett. Fett is Professor of History at Occidental College. Her book is Recaptured Africans: Surviving Slave Ships, Detention, and Dislocation in the Final Years of the Slave Trade. By Roberto Sirvent, BAR Book Forum Editor BAR Book Forum: Alys Eve Weinbaum’s “The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery”Slavery is everywhere banned, but the ethos of the slave trade thrives in the baby-buying business. “Life in contemporary ‘biocapitalism’ is complexly connected to life in ‘slave racial capitalism.’” In The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery Alys Eve Weinbaum investigates the continuing resonances of Atlantic slavery in the cultures and politics of human reproduction that characterize contemporary biocapitalism. As a form of racial capitalism that relies on the commodification of the human reproductive body, biocapitalism is dependent upon what Weinbaum calls the slave episteme—the racial logic that drove four centuries of slave breeding in the Americas and Caribbean. Weinbaum outlines how the slave episteme shapes the practice of reproduction today, especially through use of biotechnology and surrogacy. In this series, we ask acclaimed authors to answer five questions about their book. This week’s featured author is Alys Eve Weinbaum. Weinbaum is Professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her book is The Afterlife of Reproductive Slavery: Biocapitalism and Black Feminism’s Philosophy of History. By Roberto Sirvent, BAR Book Forum Editor

My Wise Country Cousin on de Dems dissin’ Kids By Raymond Nat Turner, BAR poet-in-residenceDid you see de Kids questin Madum Di-Fi—
catchin’ her befo’ she cud spin de big lie…?
Lawd, de ‘tude an’ disdain she cudn’t cunseel
show’d her true colors on de Green New Deal…
She tolt ‘em dat she know’d whass bes fo’ dem—
jus’ lak Miss Nancy, Cap’n Steny, an’ Unca Jim!De Dems dinosores an’ will soon be ekstink—
Wit de Republikkkans who dey nod and wink
De chillen say, “NO water’d-down resolution!”
Lak dey ‘bout a decade ‘way frum revolution!
Way dey peepin’ de Dems’ bull-scuses an’ lyin’ Questin is: when de shoes gonna start flyin’? 

Bernie Sanders and Black Democratic Primary VotersBernie Sanders is slightly more popular among black Democratic voters than white ones. “Sanders receives his strongest support from those making less than $50,000.” Three weeks after launching his presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading all other announced candidates in support from black voters, a new poll finds. The only potential candidate who polled better with African-Americans than Sanders, according to the poll by Morning Consult, is former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced a campaign. By Ryan Grim

Denver Teachers’ Strike Was a Rejection of Education ‘Reform’Teachers in the school district that was supposed to be the model for education reform just rebelled—and won. “One of the principal demands of the striking teachers was to scrap the ProComp system. Former superintendent of Denver Public Schools Michael Bennet pushed privatization measures as well as changes to the ProComp teacher pay program. “I definitely drank the education reform kool-aid,” recalls Alex Nelson, a Denver teacher who, along with over 5,300 fellow teachers and school support staff, walked off the job earlier this month in a four-day strike that resulted in the teachers having most of their demands met. By Jeff Bryant The Fight for Justice Takes Its Toll on Ferguson Activists  Activists keep winding up dead under questionable circumstances, but Black St. Louis is a stressful and violent place. “The suspicion in the activist community ‘speaks to the level of distrust for law enforcement in many communities in St. Louis.’” Ferguson activist Melissa Mckinnies sat on her couch, her hair tied in a bun, and spoke deliberately, in a soft, hushed tone. The shades were drawn. On October 17, Mckinnies had woken to a terrible event. Early in the morning, when her husband, Derek, came home from his nightshift, he and Melissa noticed that her eldest son, twenty-four-year-old Danye, had left the light on in his basement bedroom. When they went to check on him, Danye was nowhere to be seen. Panicked, Mckinnies and her husband, Derek, searched the house and found a packed bag on the back porch, as if he had been preparing to go somewhere. Then she looked into the backyard, and there she found her son hanging by a sheet from a tree, mucus from his nose and mouth on his face. By Joe Penny 

Study Finds Racial Gap Between Who Causes Air Pollution And Who Breathes It  Air pollution is disproportionately caused by white Americans’ consumption of goods and services, but disproportionately inhaled by blacks and Hispanics. “Blacks and Hispanics bear 56 and 63 percent more air pollution, respectively, than they cause by their consumption.” Pollution, much like wealth, is not distributed equally in the United States. Scientists and policymakers have long known that black and Hispanic Americans tend to live in neighborhoods with more pollution  of all kinds, than white Americans. And because pollution exposure can cause a range of health problems, this inequity could be a driver of unequal health outcomes across the U.S. By Jonathan Lambert

A Venezuela Union Leader’s Analysis of Crisis A veteran labor activist says the Maduro government must boost national production and reduce prices, or face erosion of its political base. “The conspiracies and the fight to the death haven’t stopped in 20 years of Chavista governments.” The following are excerpts from an interview with Stalin Pérez Borges, a union leader and veteran socialist militant in Venezuela. He is a member of the Unitarian Unionist Chavista League (LUCHAS) and of the Bolivarian Socialist Workers’ Central (CBST) Advisory Council. The original appeared in Spanish on Feb. 7 — that is, long before the Feb. 23 showdown on the border. Translated by Pedro Alvarez from Aporrea. (Entire interview: tinyurl.com/y4tknu43) By Stalin Pérez Borges 

The Conflict of Our Time: US Imperialism vs the Rule of Law  The U.S. gives lip service to international law while relentlessly pursuing global domination. “The U.S. recognizes no permanent geographic limits to its imperial sovereignty.” The world faces many overlapping crises: regional political crises from Kashmir to Venezuela; brutal wars that rage on in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia; and the existential dangers of nuclear weapons, climate change, and mass extinction. By Nicolas J S Davies


Chicago Charter Teachers Strike, Win Last December 4th educators at the Acero charter chain in Chicago became the first charter teachers in the country to go on strike. This was both stunning to the charter industry, which was created in part to avoid the inconvenience of unionized educators, and revelatory to educators across the country.After picketing four days, the unity and enthusiasm of the charter teachers, along with widespread sympathy and solidarity among parents, forced the Acero leadership to capitulate. This led to a major step in closing the gap between charter and Chicago public school teachers on compensation, hours and working conditions. By Robert Bartlet

Economy:The Fed’s Fancy Footwork on Stress Tests Was About Silencing Bank Examiners Last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors rushed through a rule change to its stress test for the too-big-to-fail banks on Wall Street, putting it into immediate effect without the customary 30-day delay. It is further noteworthy that the Board did not get the customary unanimous vote to move forward with the rule change: Fed Board Governor Lael Brainard, arguably the smartest member of the Board, voted against the rule change while the four other Governors, including Chairman Jerome Powell, voted in favor. There is a strong case that can be made that the rushed rule change was to protect the biggest banks on Wall Street – the ones serially charged with crimes around the globe – while putting the public at risk of another epic financial collapse. By Pam MartensThe Global Economy Is a Time Bomb Waiting to Explode So here we go again. No less a figure than Claudio Borio, the chief economist of the Bank for International Settlements central, who warned of the dangers of a synchronized housing bubble well before the 2008 crisis, is again sounding the alarm about a recurrence. The crash gave us a chance to downsize finance and restrict its ability to wreak comparable havoc on the economy going forward. Instead, we let the crisis go to waste, which almost certainly means a nasty sequel to 2008 facing us in the near future. By Marshall AuerbackWorld:

Cuba condemns the terrorist sabotage against the power supply system in Venezuela The Revolutionary Government strongly condemns the sabotage perpetrated against the power supply system in Venezuela, which is a terrorist action intended to harm the defenseless population of an entire nation and turn it into a hostage of the non-conventional war launched by the government of the United States against the legitimate government headed by comrade Nicolás Maduro Moros and the civic and military union of the Bolivarian and Chavista people. Several US  politicians have rushed to celebrate an action that deprives the population from an essential basic service; leaves hospitals without the power they require to work; disrupts other basic services which are indispensable  in the everyday-life of people, such as food, water supply, transportation, communications, public safety, trade, bank transactions and payments using credit cards. Such an action affects work in general and the proper functioning of schools and universities.

‘The world stands disgraced’ – Israeli shelling of school kills at least 15 UN condemns IDF attack on sleeping children as violation of international law —Strike on crowded market in Shujai’iya during ceasefire kills 17 —Death toll now more than 1,300 after three weeks of fighting  —United Nations officials described the killing of sleeping children as a disgrace to the world and accused Israel of a serious violation of international law after a school in Gaza being used to shelter Palestinian families was shelled on Wednesday ByHarriet Sherwood in Jerusalem and Hazem Balousha in Jabaliya

Revolution in Algeria: one phase ends, another beginsYesterday evening, the streets of Algeria erupted with joy after the announcement that the hated, de facto dictator-for-life was withdrawing from the presidential election scheduled for April. “No fifth term for Bouteflika!” was the rallying cry of the masses for weeks. Now it seems that they have achieved their goal. President Abdulaziz Bouteflika has announced that he will not stand for a fifth term. This withdrawal is a big victory for the masses in action over a regime that did not want to budge. The latest estimate (France24, 11 March) put the number of participants in the daily demonstrations at somewhere between 10 and 15 million at their height, out of a population of 40 million. This scope of these mobilisation has not been seen since the country achieved independence in 1962. By Anass Rahimi

Revolution on the cards in AlgeriaA system rotten from top to bottom Algeria, the sleeping giant of the Arab world, has awoken. In a country where open dissent was rare, tens of thousands have taken to the streets across the country, demanding an end to decades of despotism. This, in a country where street protests have been illegal for decades. What is behind this recent turn of events? Recently it was announced that the ailing, half-dead, octogenarian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was running for a fifth term as president in the April 2019 elections. This is in spite of the fact that he has hardly been seen in public since a stroke he suffered in 2013. This has left him incapacitated and unable to govern the country. He is effectively a stooge in the hands of ‘le pouvoir’ (‘the power’), the shadowy cabal of generals and intelligence officials that has ruled Algeria since independence in 1962. In particular his brother, Caid Bouteflika, and other aggrandising ancillaries in the crooked court that is the Algerian deep state, are suspected of being the real governors of the country. By Aaron Kyereh-Mireku

 Health, Education, and Welfare:

The government of the United States can pass laws in a few days to spend tens of trillions of dollars for war and the bailout of wall street and the bankers. Yet those who ‘govern’ pass universal healthcare for themselves, but they cannot spend even one trillion dollars for universal health for those who are ‘governed’! This is what is considered, by the powers that be a democracy and part of the democratic way. — Roland Sheppard, Let The People Vote on Healthcare!