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French Students Protest Macron's Attacks on Education. Occupy Campuses



Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Students throughout France have been occupying their campuses to protest attacks on education.  This video is interesting for those that are not familiar with the events of 1968 when the largest general strike in history took place in France.

The French General Strike did not take place in a vacuum of course. The colonial revolution was in full swing as they fought to expel direct control by the British French and colonial regimes. In the US we had the Civil Rights movement that shocked US capitalism to its core. Two of the greatest leaders on the 20th century Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were assassinated by the US state machine in this decade.

In Northern Ireland as well, the movement was in full swing as students and workers fought against the discrimination against Catholics and for unity. Ireland's events were very much influenced by the Civil Rights movement in the US and its most militant sections by the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and other socialist and left elements of the black revolt.

But in France the student movement ignited a General Strike that threatened to topple the state and capitalism itself. Some of the gains under attack today were won in 1968 as the video explains.

In 1968 the state was brought in and viciously attacked the students. Clare Doyle in her pamphlet describes it: "At the beginning of May some students from Nanterre including Daniel Cohn Bendit were to be tried in the university courts for 'disruptive behavior'. A battle between students and fascists loomed. On May 2nd  Roche, the Director, closed Nanterre University"  *

"The next day students gathering peacefully with those fo the Sorbonne, were viciously attacked by the hated riot police----the CRS---and hundreds of students were arrested..."

As the state increased its repression the University teachers' union called a strike. The government banned demonstrations but the strikes spread to the secondary schools. The more repression, the more anger resulted and the working class, particularly young workers began to join the fray. There were mass demonstrations in Paris of more than one million and at its height ten million workers struck and occupied their workplaces.

The movement shocked not only the French ruling class and French President Charles De Gaulle but the ruling classes throughout the world including the Stalinist regimes that were also facing revolt in Czechoslovakia in 1968 12 years after a revolt in Hungary. In the US the student movement was fighting against the Vietnam war as were many French students. The post World War Two economic boom was coming to an end.

Contrary to the views expressed in the video, the 1968 French General Strike which was "detonated" by the student movement to be joined by the heavy battalions of the working class, threatened to overthrow capitalism itself. It was not, as the commentator in the video says, a battle between liberalism and conservatism. It became a movement to eliminate capitalism, to change the economic and political nature of society.  The workers and youth were betrayed by both the Communist and Socialist leadership that headed the French workers'' movement and things eventually returned to normal with some reforms.

That the strike was kicked off by the student demonstrations and the violent response from the state is to be expected. Workers are more conservative when it comes to moving in to struggle in a major way, have a lot more to lose. The bosses' and their politicians are aware of these dangers which is why movements are nipped in the bud using both the carrot and the stick. In the US during the Civil Rights movement they had to get the movement off the streets and in to the courts that they control introducing what we know now as Affirmative Action measures that have failed the US black population as a whole miserably. These measures were part of a conscious effort to build up a black petit bourgeois, a buffer against the revolutionary potential of the black working class holding them back, telling them that change can only come from limiting protests to within the confines of accepted norms, "look at us. The system works" .

This is just a short commentary to accompany this video but I am certain with some research the reader will see that the rise of the black middle class after the Civil Rights movement runs counter to the deepening crisis and violence affecting black working class communities. There are more black millionaires, and a few billionaires and more black politicians that has not resulted in significant changes in the conditions of life for the black working class.

The teachers strikes in the US have so far been dealt with mildly in the hope they will subside. The Democratic Party representing the liberal wing of the ruling class and the "official" trade union leadership will do their best to ensure the movement doesn't get out of hand as things did in France in 1969 and the movement of teachers doesn't spread to other protest movements that have arisen over the past period against racism, sexism, the environmental crisis etc. It took a month in France 1968 for a protest movement that was dominated by student and education reform that involved 10 million workers and a real threat to capitalism itself.

* France 1968: Month of Revolution: Lessons of the General Strike by  Clare Doyle

I think this brief account of the events of 1968 is an excellent introduction to this issue for workers. It is well written and easy to read giving a real feel of the explosive nature and mood in France at the time as well as the world situation as a whole. It is also available in Spanish at the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) website.  The writer is a former, expelled member of the CWI and one regrettable but all too common trait of the author of this pamphlet and the self styled revolutionary groups like the CWI, is the claim that they and only they predicated any of these events and only they have the answers.
Source: French Students Protest Macron's Attacks on Education. Occupy Campuses
2
Georgia Republican's Sick 'Deportation Bus' Broke Down?Restauran Owner Tells Racist Candidate to Get Lost


The poorly-performing bigot is not having a good week.


Georgia Republican Michael Williams, bless his heart, is desperate for attention and even more desperate for the racist vote, which is why he kicked off his ?Deportation Bus Tour? stunt, traveling from city to city and threatening to ?fill this bus with illegals.? Impersonating a federal officer is illegal, by the way. But facts aside, things aren?t going well for Williams, aside from the fact that he?s polling dead last. Not well at all, actually:

Williams, a Georgia Republican state senator and gubernatorial candidate, has been taking a ?deportation bus? to campaign rallies across the state. But on Thursday, Cracker Barrel and several other restaurants where the bus is scheduled to stop told The Daily Beast that Williams? campaign isn?t welcome.

The news came the same day the bus broke down ? a setback Williams? campaign manager blamed on the left.

The bus is painted with slogans like ?Follow me to Mexico? and ?Danger! Murderers, rapists, child molestors [sic], and other criminals on board.? In a video for his tour, which YouTube briefly took down Wednesday for violating its hate speech policy, Williams promises to ?fill this bus with illegals to send them back to where they came from.?

That same week, a Facebook user posted a video of a very polite Georgia business owner telling shit-for-brains to get his racist bus off his property. ?Sir, can you do this somewhere else?? the business owner asks. ?You?re blocking my parking lot.? Rather than just moving it right away, Williams makes two more inquiries about whether he?s really the owner. It?s probably no coincidence that the man has brown skin. ?Yes, sir,? he replies. ?You can go wherever you like, because you?re blocking the whole of my parking lot.?

Georgia?s history should be a lesson for Williams. Following the 2011 passage of anti-immigrant legislation, Bryan Tolar, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, said local farms lost $300 million in the immediate aftermath, after immigrant farm workers fled the state. Should be a lesson, but how can you expect common sense from someone who?s been banned from restaurants?

 

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Source: Georgia Republican's Sick 'Deportation Bus' Broke Down?Restauran Owner Tells Racist Candidate to Get Lost
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Infoshop News / A preliminary summary of an IWW organising effort, winter 2017/18
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:01:50 AM »
A preliminary summary of an IWW organising effort, winter 2017/18

In late September 2017 the IWW London branch invited friends and comrades to take part in an organising drive in West London factories and warehouses. We chose half a dozen companies, employing between 100 and 800 mainly migrant workers where there was no trade union present.
Source: A preliminary summary of an IWW organising effort, winter 2017/18
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Infoshop News / Call Congress?s ?Blue Lives Matter? Bills What They Are: Another Attack on Black Lives
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on Yesterday at 06:01:50 AM »
Call Congress?s ?Blue Lives Matter? Bills What They Are: Another Attack on Black Lives

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 by a vote of 382 to 35.
Source: Call Congress?s ?Blue Lives Matter? Bills What They Are: Another Attack on Black Lives
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Trump's Corrupt Abuse of Power on Display in New Report About His Efforts to Target Amazon



 
 
 



The president is reportedly going outside the normal process to target a company he explicitly links with a critical publication.


President Donald Trump has personally been pressuring the U.S. Postal Service to raise rates on Amazon, according to a new report from the Washington Post. While the report is not particularly surprising, given Trump's public statement on the matter, it also suggests he's engaging in high-level corruption in an attempt to punish Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Post.

The report finds that Trump has pushed Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double Amazon's rate, but she has so far resisted, noting that contracts with firms like Amazon cannot be changed at a whim and are subject to oversight. While there are certainly reasons to be critical of the company, the Postal Service's parcel delivery ? of which Amazon makes up a significant portion ? is actually one of the profitable branches of its operations, in contrast to its overall budget.

Regardless of the specifics of the deal, though, it's unusual for the president to make a specific request ? doubling prices ? for a single company, and the report says that Trump has repeatedly made this request of Brennan. The executive branch has certain formal processes to go through so that these sorts of decisions don't need to be made by the president ? one way in which the U.S. system functions differently from a monarchy.

But what's particularly troubling about this case is that Trump has explicitly targeted theWashington Post, which has an editorial board and investigative staff that has often roiled the president, for it's connections to Amazon. 

He wrote on Twitter in July 2017: "The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad." In April 2018, he tweeted: "The Fake News Washington Post, Amazon?s 'chief lobbyist,' has another (of many) phony headlines, 'Trump Defiant As China Adds Trade Penalties.' WRONG!"

Personally directing a federal agency to raise prices on Amazon, therefore, looks like a blatant attempt to punish Bezos and the Post for negative coverage. This would be a classic example of an abuse of power.

Even if Trump has good reasons for saying we should raise prices on Amazon, the mere appearance of the abuse of power could have a chilling effect on other people or organizations who may want to be critical of the president. In this way, Trump can accomplish his goal of stifling dissent without even actually carrying out any retaliatory measures.






 

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Source: Trump's Corrupt Abuse of Power on Display in New Report About His Efforts to Target Amazon
6
Richard Mellor / And the Architects of Death Assemble in Jerusalem
« Last post by Richard Mellor on May 19, 2018, 06:32:23 PM »
And the Architects of Death Assemble in Jerusalem

We republish this article from Mondoweiss

Dystopia: The Live Feed

Middle East
on   
Yesterday on the TV screen, I  watched a beautiful black Israeli singer of Ethiopian origin sing  ?Halleluja? as part of the festive opening ceremony of the US embassy in  Jerusalem. Minutes later, the funeral of a local paramedic, led by an  ambulance and flanked by two fire engines, passed by my house in the  western region of Gaza City. Three minutes after that, another funeral,  this time of a boy, maybe 14 or 15 years old, processed towards the  cemetery, accompanied by the usual chants and wails of grief. In one of  the cars that accompanied the funeral, I could see a man whose face was  in utter shock and whose arms and hands were thrown on his knees in a  posture of complete exhaustion.

Back in my living room, Netanyahu was  giving his speech about how the greatest power in the world has just  moved its embassy to Jerusalem and what a great place the State of  Israel therefore was. The ceremony was like a scene from a dystopian  science fiction movie, where the wealthy oppressor calmly unveils his  latest symbol of cosmic oppression while far away, out of sight and  thought, oppressed masses are being executed.

Less than an hour?s drive away, people were  literally fighting iron with bare chests. What made this gathering more  chaotic than previous marches was that it was specifically timed to  protest the US embassy?s relocation. Days before, a general strike had  been called for; and all sides of the Palestinian political spectrum had  intensified calls for greater participation just the night before. In  another dystopian scene, even the mosques? minarets were broadcasting  calls for greater participation in the same rhythmic style as  traditional Eid chants.

The embassy relocation was planned to take place a  day before Palestinians commemorated the greatest loss in their history.  What we view as 70 years of humiliation, deprivation, oppression, and  slow but effective ethnic cleansing has now been rounded off with this ?  and our objections to it have come at a high price: 56 lives to be  exact, and nearly 1900 wounded, yesterday alone. Witnesses talk of young  boys running directly into the barbed wire facing live bullets ? they  break free from history for a moment. They feel free and in control of  their own lives for moments or seconds. These young men and women are  not stupid or simply emotional (although nothing is wrong with being  emotional in such a context), they are simply fed up. And they can see,  very clearly, what is happening around them and what has been happening  around them all their lives.They know that if they don?t run for their  lives, nobody will save them from a brutal force that disregards their  lives and basic rights.

This scene of sheer desperation  that has enveloped the Gaza fences today can only remind us of the  aftermath of the mass expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, precisely  what the march is trying to turn our attention towards. When 250,000  refugees first arrived in the Strip their immediate prospect was to  starve, just as Gazans have been starved of basic supplies, medicines  and clean water for the last 11 years. Then, like now, Israeli militants  surrounded the Strip and prevented anyone from leaving: anyone who  attempted to leave was shot on the spot, or captured and then released  in an unknown location in the middle of Negev desert, left to die of  thirst.

The TV screens? smiles and the decorous speeches,  drizzled with victimhood, were drowned out again, a few minutes later,  by yet another funeral passing by. Kushner talked of his ancestors being  Holocaust survivors who had fled the Nazis to the forests of Russia.  The irony was almost unbearable. Kushner and his glamorous wife seem to  be sleepwalking through the snipers? guns, currently mowing down  Palestinians in Gaza, which might very well be filled with the same  bullets those Nazis would have fired at his ancestors: encased in  nationalism, tipped with populist appeal back home.

Outside the embassy itself,  protestors were being assaulted. In the West Bank too, protesters took  to the streets only to be met by teargas canisters and more bullets.  Israel?s arrogance and complete disregard for human rights and  international law today is only a continuation of what this colonialist  state has been doing since its existence.

The opening ceremony of the embassy, as well as the  nauseating tweets of Trump and Netanyahu, confirm and conclude Israel  and the US view Palestinians as unworthy of the basic right to live, let  alone speak. Both confirm a complete incapability of engagement in any  true diplomatic discussion with anyone of us about any of the facts  surrounding their embassy move. If only Palestinians were not  sub-humans, if only we had hundreds of millions of dollars to compete in  lobbying efforts before heading to the border to demand our rights, as  human beings. The families of those who were shot dead have buried their  dead and will mourn them for the rest of their lives. Those who are  injured will battle through their wounds maybe for a few months and  maybe for life, disappointed with what the human race has come to.

For Gaza, it was a sad day from which people woke up in shock. Our lives only too real, not science fiction.

Rawan Yaghi is a Palestinian woman from Gaza. She graduated from  Jesus College- Oxford, where she studied Italian and Linguistics and at  which she was awarded the first Junior Members' Scholarship, a student  led initiative to fund the studies of a student from Gaza. She is a  Gaza-based writer. Fiction, journalism, and languages are among her  interests. Follow her on Twitter at @larawanpal
 

Source: And the Architects of Death Assemble in Jerusalem
7
Infoshop News / Snipers Shooting Unarmed People at 100 Meters Isn?t a ?Clash?
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on May 19, 2018, 06:32:21 PM »
Snipers Shooting Unarmed People at 100 Meters Isn?t a ?Clash?

via FAIR by Adam Johnson As FAIR has noted before (e.g., Extra!, 1/17; FAIR.org, 4/2/18), the term ?clash? is almost always used to launder power asymmetry and give the reader the impression of two equal warring sides. It obscures power dynamics and the nature of the conflict itself, e.g., who instigated it and what weapons […]
Source: Snipers Shooting Unarmed People at 100 Meters Isn?t a ?Clash?
8
Here's Everything You Need to Know About Right-Wing Theory That FBI Planted Spy in Trump Campaign


The claim relies upon the testimony of a co-founder of Fusion GPS.


In recent days, many on the right have pushed the claim that the FBI "infiltrated" President Donald Trump?s 2016 campaign with a "mole." The claim relies upon the testimony of a co-founder of Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired a former British agent who compiled an intelligence dossier about Trump?s connections to various Russians. The claim also builds off of a recent squabble between the Department of Justice and the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), over the release of classified information. Here is what you need to know about the story?s origins:

  • On January 2, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the founders of the research firm Fusion GPS, claimed in an op-ed that the FBI had a source ?inside the Trump camp? during the 2016 election.

  • On January 9, the transcript from Simpson?s August 2017 Senate testimony was released, revealing that he had told the Senate Judiciary Committee it was his ?understanding? that the bureau had an ?internal Trump campaign source.? Simpson also testified during the hearing that conversations he had with the author of the dossier about Trump?s Russia connections, Christopher Steele, led him to believe that the FBI had ?a human source from inside the Trump organization.?

  • The same day, reporters tweeted that the Trump campaign insider Simpson referred to was George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and that the FBI's source was an Australian diplomat who informed U.S. officials that Papadopoulos had mentioned to him receiving Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton in May 2016.

  • Between January 9 and January 10, both The New York Times and The Washington Post reported that the ?human source? Simpson had mentioned was allegedly the Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer.

  • On January 18, however, a lawyer for Simpson sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asserting that Simpson ?stands by his testimony.? The lawyer stated that Simpson was not withdrawing his claim that Steele had ?believed the FBI had another source within the Trump organization/campaign.?

  • On May 8, The Washington Post reported that the DOJ was refusing to hand over information requested by Nunes because it could ?endanger a top-secret intelligence source.? The source, according to the Post, had developed information that was ?provided to the Mueller investigation.?

  • Two days later, The Wall Street Journal?s Kim Strassel published an op-ed in which she speculated that the FBI may have secretly had a source ?who used his or her non-FBI credentials? to interact with the Trump campaign.

    • Strassel wrote in the Journal that the DOJ and the FBI ?outright hid critical information from a congressional investigation," which could mean that the FBI had a spy linked to the Trump campaign.
    • Strassel wrote that ?When government agencies refer to sources, they mean people who appear to be average citizens but use their profession or contacts to spy for the agency,? asserting that the FBI could have secretly planted a source who interacted with the Trump campaign.
    • According to Strassel, any such move on the FBI?s part would ?amount to spying.?
    • Strassel also concluded that "Now we find [the FBI] may have also been rolling out human intelligence, John Le Carré style, to infiltrate the Trump campaign."
  • Strassel doubled down on her assertion during a May 11 appearance on Fox News, claiming, ?The FBI was using human intelligence to spy on a presidential campaign.?

Right-Wing Media Is Pushing the Spy Theory

Radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed he knows ?who the spy is? and that this person was ?like an operative employed by the FBI to basically entrap somebody who worked with the Trump campaign in a peripheral way.? He also said that Papadopoulos ?was entrapped by three people, including the person who is reputed to be the spy."

Fox?s Sean Hannity argued that there was a spy embedded in the campaign and called the Strassel op-ed a ?stunning new development? that raises ?serious concerns and questions about the possibility [of] the F.B.I. planting a mole inside the Trump campaign.?

The hosts of Fox & Friends devoted multiple segments to Strassel?s op-ed and also highlighted Limbaugh?s theory that the FBI planted a ?spy? to ?entrap? Trump associates. Fox?s Pete Hegseth argued that Limbaugh is ?on to something,? and co-host Steve Doocy asked, ?Was the FBI out to frame candidate Donald Trump??  

Trump sycophant and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs tweeted: ?#ExposeTheMole- FBI & DOJ planted an spy in @realDonaldTrump?s 2016 campaign & didn?t tell congressional investigators.?

During an appearance on Hannity?s radio show, Fox?s Sara Carter claimed, ?It appears [the FBI] had somebody that was reporting back on information inside the Trump campaign, which would mean that they had a mole connected to people in the Trump campaign or within the Trump campaign.? Carter repeated the report on Hannity?s prime-time Fox News show, claiming, ?Yes, I believe [the FBI] did have an informant, somebody that was reporting back to them.?

The Daily Caller pushed the narrative in an article about Rep. Ron DeSantis? (R-FL) appearance on Fox News: ?Ron DeSantis Says He May Know Who Was Spying On The Trump Campaign: ?There Needs To Be Follow Up?.?

Pro-Trump site The Gateway Pundit ran multiple articles by founder Jim Hoft that pushed the claim, including one in which Hoft claimed to know the ?probable? identity of the ?spy,? and another that argued there were multiple ?deep state? sources.   

Far-right fringe blog Zero Hedge posted Strassel?s op-ed with the headline, ?WSJ: The FBI Hid A Mole In The Trump Campaign,? even though Strassel never claimed the ?mole? was actually inside the campaign.

 

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Source: Here's Everything You Need to Know About Right-Wing Theory That FBI Planted Spy in Trump Campaign
9
AlterNet / How Trump Assaults the Very Language of American Democracy with Every Word He Utters
« Last post by AlterNet on May 19, 2018, 06:52:11 AM »
How Trump Assaults the Very Language of American Democracy with Every Word He Utters


Trump?s strategic assault on democracy, word-by-word.


Consider us officially in an Orwellian world, though we only half realize it. While we were barely looking, significant parts of an American language long familiar to us quite literally, and in a remarkably coherent way, went down the equivalent of George Orwell?s infamous Memory Hole.

This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.

This hit me in a personal way recently. I was asked to give a talk at an annual national security conference held in downtown Manhattan and aimed largely at an audience of college students. The organizer, who had pulled together a remarkable array of speakers, encountered problems in one particular area: his efforts to include representatives of the Trump administration in the gathering. Initially, administration officials he dealt with wouldn?t even divulge the names of possible participants, only their titles, leaving who was coming a mystery until days before the conference opened.

In addition, before agreeing to send speakers, his contacts at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known by the acronym ICE, had not just requested but insisted that the word ?refugee? be removed from the conference program. It was to appear in a description of a panel entitled ?Refugee Programs, Immigration, Customs and Border Protection.?

The reason given: the desire to get through the administration approval process in Washington without undue delay. It?s not hard to believe that the administration that wanted to slow to a standstill refugees coming to the U.S. didn't have an allied urge to do away with the very word itself. In order to ensure that ICE representatives would be there, the organizer reluctantly conceded and so the word ?refugee? was dutifully removed from the program.

Meanwhile, the actual names of Department of Homeland Security officials coming to speak were withheld until three days before the event. Finally, administration representatives in touch with the conference organizers insisted that the remarks of any government representatives could not be taped, which meant, ultimately, that none of the proceedings could be taped. As a result, this conference was not recorded for posterity.

For ? and I?ve been observing the national security landscape for years now ? this was something of a new low when it came to surrounding a previously open event in a penumbra of secrecy. It made me wonder how many other organizers across the country had been strong-armed in a similar fashion, how many words had been removed from various programs, and how much of what an American citizen should know now went unrecorded.

To some extent, I understood the organizer?s plight, having myself negotiated requests from government officials for 15 years? worth of national security get-togethers of every sort. As director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law and before that of a similar center at New York University School of Law, I had been asked by more than one current or former Bush or Obama administration official to not record his or her remarks. Indeed, one or two had even asked to be kept away from the audience until those remarks were delivered.

Still, most had come eager to debate, confident that their views were the preferable ones, aware that the perspectives of many in the room or conference hall would differ from theirs, often drastically, on hard-edged issues like torture, Guantánamo, and targeted killings. But one thing I know: not once in all those years had I been asked to change the language of an event, to wipe a word or phrase out of the program of the moment. It would have been an unthinkable violation.

The very idea that the government can control what words we use and don?t at a university-related event seems to violate everything we as a country hold dear about the independence of educational institutions from government control, not to mention the sanctity of free speech and the importance of public debate. But that, of course, was in the era before Donald Trump became president.

Assaulting the language of American democracy

Tiny as that incident was, at a conference meant largely for students but open to an array of professionals, it caught the essence of this administration?s take-no-prisoners approach to the language many of us customarily use to describe the country we live in. Such an assault is, of course, nothing new under Trump. After all, the current president had barely entered the Oval Office when the first reports began to emerge about instances in which language at various government websites was being altered, words and concepts being changed or simply obliterated.

Since then, the language of an America that the president and his associates reject has been under constant attack. Some of those acts of aggression were to be expected, given the campaign promises that preceded his election. Take climate change, which Donald Trump called a ?Chinese hoax? long before he filled his administration with rabid climate deniers. The Department of Agriculture was typical. Its new officials excised the very word ?climate change? from their website, substituting ?weather extremes,? and changed the phrase ?reduce greenhouse gases? to the palpably deceptive ?increase nutrient use energy.? Across the board, in fact, .gov websites replaced ?climate change? with vague words like ?resilience? and ?sustainability.?

But you don?t have to focus on the urge to obliterate all evidence of climate change, even the words to describe it. Other alterations have been no less notable. For starters, as at the recent conference I attended, there has been a clear rejection of language that connoted the have-nots, the excluded, and the marginalized of our world. At the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for example, this year?s budget request carefully excluded such descriptors from its mission and purpose statement. Originally incorrectly reported as a policy decision to ban certain words from use at the agency, CDC officials were simply reading the tea leaves of the new administration and quickly ridding their budget requests of key words, now poison in Trump?s Washington, describing their mission. These were words suddenly seen as red flags when it came to the use of government funds to help the less fortunate or the discriminated against. Examples included "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," and "? and with science now in disrepute for its anti-fossil-fuel findings, also discarded were the phrases "evidence-based" and "science-based."

The disavowal of marginalized groups and of the vulnerable in society, including those ?refugees,? has hardly been limited to the CDC. It also reared its head, for example, in the mission statement of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, where the label ?nation of immigrants? was dropped from its mission statement, which now reads:

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation?s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values."

Given the latest news from the border of children being torn from their parents and the president?s recently reported cabinet rant about not yet securing the border effectively, no one should be surprised that ?security? and ?values? have trumped ?immigrants? and inclusion in that mission statement. So, too, has such a mindset left its mark on another agency created to help out those in need. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, led by Ben Carson, has ditched the terms ?free from discrimination,? ?quality homes,? and ?inclusive communities? in favor of a mission that supports ?self-sufficiency? and ?opportunity.? In other words, the onus is being put on the individual rather than the government.

Trump is hardly the first president to discover the importance of language as a political tool that can be self-consciously used for practical ends. Barack Obama, for instance, banished both the name ?war on terror? for America?s unending post-9/11 conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa and ?Islamic extremist terrorism? for those we fought -- even though that ?war? went right on. Still, the current president may be the first whose administration hasn?t hesitated to delete terms tied to the foundational principles of the country, among them ?democracy,? ?honesty,? and ?transparency.?

Putting a fine point on the turn away from core values, for instance, the State Department deleted the word ?democratic? from its mission statement and backed away from the notion that the department and the country should promote democracy abroad. In its new mission statement, missing words also included ?peaceful? and ?just.? Similarly, the U.S. Agency for International Development?s mission statement veered away from its prior emphasis on ?ending extreme poverty and promoting the development of resilient, democratic societies that are able to realize their potential.? Its goal, it now explains, is ?to support partners to become self-reliant and capable of leading their own development journeys? largely through increased security (including presumably the purchase of American weaponry) and expanding markets.

Alongside a diminished regard for the very thought of inclusiveness and for helping impoverished nations improve their conditions through aid, the idea of protecting civil liberties has taken a nosedive. President Trump?s first appointee to head the Guantánamo Bay Detention Center, Rear Admiral Edward Cashman, for example, took the words ?legal? and ?transparent? out of the prison facility?s mission statement. In a similar fashion, the Department of Justice has excised the portion of its website devoted to ?the need for free press and public trial.?

A ministry of propaganda?

Meanwhile, in a set of parallel moves of betrayal, the dismemberment of agencies created to honor and protect peacefulness and basic civil liberties at home or abroad is ongoing. At the moment, for instance, less than half of the top positions at the State Department have been filled and confirmed. The fallout is clear: ambassadors to countries of major importance in current tension-ridden areas and the very concept of diplomacy that might go with them are missing in action. That includes the ambassadors for Libya, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Syria. Meanwhile, in the first year of the Trump era, nearly 2,000 career diplomats and civil servants were pushed out of the department and, by the time Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went the way of so many Trump appointees, top posts there had been halved. In an Orwellian world, agencies stripped down to bare minimum staffs and leadership are that much easier to tilt and turn in grim new directions.

Similarly, the Trump administration has all too often endeavored to disavow or obliterate facts. It?s not just a matter of endlessly reported presidential lying and misstatements, but of a wholesale disregard for reality that can again be seen at government websites where factual information of all sorts has been tossed down the memory hole. References to climate change disappeared from the White House website on Inauguration Day 2017. Many references and links to climate change put up during the Obama years were, for example, quickly removed from the State Department?s website, and other agency websites followed this pattern.

Similarly, the White House website wiped out pages focused on federal policies toward people with disabilities, leaving only this message for interested citizens: ?You are not authorized to access this page.? Nor does the administration evidently feel any responsibility to issue reports to the public on its activities, including those that might damage respect for Americans worldwide. Recently, the Trump administration missed a deadline for reporting on civilian casualties resulting from U.S. drone strikes, a yearly requirement established by President Obama in 2016. A White House spokesperson explained that such a reporting requirement was ?under review? and could be ?modified? or ?rescinded.?

Such an approach to what should and shouldn?t be known about and available to citizens from a government still theoretically of, by, and for the people has regularly been described as fascist, Stalinist, totalitarian, or authoritarian. More important, however, than any labels is the recognition that, whatever you might call it, there is indeed a strategy at work here. This is, in fact, a far less ad hocand amateurish administration than pundits and politicians assume. Trump associates like to talk about the in-the-moment quality of present White House decision-making, but the concerted, continual, and consistent on-message attack on words, phrases, and language that offends those now in office seems to contradict that notion.

What we are evidently living through is a coordinated attack on the previous American definition of reality. The question is: Where do such directives come from? Who has identified the words and concepts that need to be deleted from the national lexicon? However unknown to us, is there a virtual minister or ministry of propaganda somewhere? Is there someone monitoring and documenting the progress of such a strategy? And what exactly are the next steps being planned?

Whatever the circumstances under which this is happening, it certainly is a bold attempt to use language as a doorway that will take us from one reality ? that of the past 250 years of American history and its progression towards inclusion, diversity, equal rights for minorities, and liberty and justice for all ? to another, that of an oligarchically led transformation focused on intolerance, racial and ethnic divides, discrimination, ignorance (rather than science), and the creation of a state of unparalleled heartlessness and greed.

It might be worth reflecting on the words of Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister for Hitler?s Nazi Party. He had a clear-eyed vision of the importance of disguising the ultimate goal of his particular campaign against democracy and truth. ?The secret of propaganda,? he said, is to ?permeate the person it aims to grasp without his even noticing that he is being permeated.?

Consider this a word of warning to the wise. Perhaps instead of hurling insults at President Trump?s incompetence and the seeming disarray of his presidency, it might be worth taking a step back and asking ourselves whether there is indeed a larger goal in mind: namely, a slow, patient, incremental dismantling of democracy, beginning with its most precious words.

 


Source: How Trump Assaults the Very Language of American Democracy with Every Word He Utters
10
Richard Mellor / Capitalism in Crisis: McCain the Defense of Last Resort
« Last post by Richard Mellor on May 18, 2018, 06:00:14 PM »
Capitalism in Crisis: McCain the Defense of Last Resort

Yes, the one on the left is their best anti-Trump weapon.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

A not insignificant number of my friends have asked me why on earth the political establishment can?t get rid of Trump. It?s a fair question. Believe me, with a few exceptions, the dominant and more sober sections of the US ruling class wants to be rid of Trump. He is a liability, an embarrassment. He is destabilizing the global system of plunder they love so much. The big question for his class colleagues though, is how to be rid of him.

A major problem is that there is no genuine political opposition in the US and certainly no working class party. The Democrats and the Republicans are both political organizations of the US capitalist class and its imperialist aims which drives the assault on US workers at home. The capitalist class, of which Trump is a member albeit a rather crude and reckless one, funds and controls both political parties.

So it might seem like madness that despite Trump being a serial sexual predator, liar, racist, viciously anti-worker, anti-immigrant and a supporter of Nazi?s and the KKK, the best the Democrats can come up with in terms of offense is that he might have violated some campaign finance laws during his during his bid for the presidency in 2016. Isn't that's what's on every worker's mind, that Trump may have cheated the campaign finance laws?

But what can they do? Mobilize the working class and call on the trade unions to organize mass demonstrations and strikes? They are with Trump on that one and above all they have to defend the legitimacy of the system and its institutions.

So it?s not Trump they are defending; it is the institutions of capitalism itself. This is why there was a collective gasp from every wing of the ruling class in this country when Trump threatened during his debate with Hillary Clinton, that he might not abide by the election results if he were to lose. He can be a pimp, a racist, a sexual deviant but to reject the results of a democratic election in a bourgeois democracy is traitorous. It is sacrilege even to suggest such a thing. It undermines the legitimacy of their political system and their propaganda that elections are fair and free and Trump is doing that already. If Trump can trash the state and its institutions in this way, even ignore their hypocritical diplomatic relations and rules, so can we all.

Myself and other contributors to this blog have maintained that US capitalism is in an acute political, economic and social crisis. Millions of workers have abandoned the two capitalist parties and a political process they have no faith in at all.  Both its parties are in turmoil and it cannot be ruled out that both will split at some point in the not so distant  future with the possibility of new formations rising in the period ahead.  We have discussed the possibility of numerous candidates arising in the 2020 elections here on this blog.

The big bourgeois is desperately trying to find a way out of this. The thought of a Trump presidency so terrified them that many of them backed the dreaded Hilary Clinton in 2016. But conceding the right of universal suffrage has its downside; sometimes the voters don?t elect the candidates the ruling class wants.

McCain to the Rescue.
The situation is so dire that both left and right wings of US capitalism?s mass media and members of both parties are focusing attention on a dying member of the old guard; the old Reagan conservative Republican, John McCain. McCain has been ridiculed and humiliated by many in his own party despite being touted as a war hero due to the five years he spent as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese after his plane was shot down (a rare occasion for US pilots in colonial wars of aggression like Vietnam and Korea). We don?t refer to World War Two German or Japanese pilots as war hero?s for obvious reasons and by all accounts McCain isn?t one either as part of a force that, without provocation, waged a massive assault on a former colony of the French. 

One would think that McCain might be grateful to the North Vietnamese for not ripping him limb from limb when he hit the ground, after all, he was part of an aerial bombardment that dropped more than 7 million tons of bombs on Vietnam Laos and Cambodia including chemical weapons and napalm. The US war machine even poured this stuff on their own troops. The people of South East Asia are still suffering from this savage assault today as their children are often born deformed due to the chemical war and unexploded bombs that are still around. As the New York Times reported, ?
America dropped three times more ordnance over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia than all sides did during World War II. Estimates are that at least 350,000 tons of live bombs and mines remain in Vietnam, and that it will take 300 years to clear them from the Vietnamese landscape at the current rate.? NYT 3-20-18.

While McCain is not the degenerate that Trump is, he was part of a war waged against a poor colonial nation.  The Vietnam War was not a just war but a war to maintain corporate profits and it cost some three million Vietnamese their lives as well as almost 70,000 Americans, mostly workers. In these wars workers are cannon fodder and our youth that are sent to fight in them are different than the people who send them. McCain was fighting for his class (being a pilot is a lot different to fighting on the ground), he is from an established bourgeois military family. He was not in Vietnam by force or because he had no other options.

Using McCain?s dying moments to portray someone they consider a bit of a fool as a symbol of America?s greatness shows how desperate they are. Politicians, warmongers all of them, are praising him and speaking about the recent disparaging comment from a White House staffer on McCain?s looming death. Bernie Sanders claims he cannot fathom why the White House hasn?t apologized, ?It is beyond my comprehension. It is one thing in the White House for somebody to say something crude and stupid and disrespectful about an American hero. It is another thing for them not to apologize,?

Apart from glorifying an individual member of a family in the upper echelons of the military brass as a hero, why would Sanders be so surprised at the White House?  Didn?t he get a hint when the Predator in Chief mocked a disabled person? Is he not aware that Trump has aligned himself with Nazis and the KKK?

After losing to Obama in 2008 McCain said of US history in his concession speech that, ?America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.?

The election of Obama for many was historical, having a black figure at the helm and a cultured, educated black family in the White House as a counter to the usual racist images of the mass media. McCain went on to say that he, ??always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it.?  But this is the same old nonsense that if you have the ?industry?in other words, make the right choices, work hard, obey the law etc. you will prosper.  There are no class differences. Racism sexism, other forms of discrimination are no obstacle; it?s all down to your personal choices?we are in control of our own destiny.  If you fail it?s your own doing. What nationalist rubbish.

Last weekend?s long essay in the Wall Street Journal titled, Putin is an Evil Man is adapted from McCain?s deathbed book, The Restless Wave, and McCain comes to the rescue on this one. Putin wants to ?defeat the west? ?We must fight him as determinedly as he fights us? writes McCain.  The ?Inhumanity of the Russian assault on Chechnya was stunning?, he says as if the US war machine isn?t the most destructive force on earth responsible for mass slaughter and the destruction of entire nation states.

The vast majority of the people on this planet with a breath of life in them give this no credibility at all, but it doesn?t matter here at home. The true believers, those that know nothing of history or have benefited significantly from it will feel proud of this hero. Those American families that suffered and lost loved ones from US capitalism's assault on Vietnam need to direct their anger at the US ruling class and people like McCain. We have to tell our children the truth about wars and why they?re fought.

McCain assails Putin for making a deal with what he calls the Oligarchs? (Russian capitalists) but goes on to praise one of those that crossed Putin, Mikhail Khordokovsky the former head of the oil giant Yukos and the most prominent and richest of them according to our hero.  Khordokovsky is a ?well-regarded Russian businessman? says McCain.  Putin, Khordokovsky and most all the Russian capitalists are a bunch of former KGB thugs.  These former Stalinists were handed the wealth of the Russian people after Gorbachev handed over Russian state assets to them after the collapse of their murderous regime in 1989. McCain, like all of them, Russian or US, has no principles other than to defend imperialism and global plunder. They traipsed him out at Pat Tillman?s funeral where he lied about this heroic figure, honest and brave enough to speak his mind when the truth hit him in the face.

Using McCain?s dying moments to bolster a decaying empire and lift spirits at home as workers living standards continue to decline won?t help. We are in a new era. I see that North Carolina teachers took a day off to march on the state capital protesting pay and funding. Some one million students are affected according to the Wall Street Journal.
This all began with West Virginia teachers conducting an illegal strike, overcoming the narrow conservative straitjacket of their own leaders and winning a 5% pay raise for all state workers. Teachers and other sectors of the US working class are fighting an heroic battle against austerity in Puerto Rico as well.

In a sense, as Gideon Levy pointed out in this speech about the Israel/Palestine situation, the degenerate Trump has done us all a favor whipping people in to shape a bit. He has forced many who had hoped they could go on doing nothing, saying nothing, keeping their heads in the sand or nose to the grindstone, to get up and act. The many social networking pundits who wallow in their own quagmire of depression and disillusionment will point to all the mistakes and imperfect aspects common to a new movement filled with fresh layers----the Democrats are on the podium, celebrities are leading it. Some four million people turned out nationally during the women?s marches. They weren?t all celebrities and Oprah?s friends.

As expected, the Democratic Party and the union hierarchy will offer lame support for these movements in order to undermine their militancy and render them safe and secure within the confines of accepted protest. They may well succeed, but it will be a temporary victory for them. They may slow forward motion for a while but there?s no going back. The door has been opened; once solid taboos like the belief that we cannot violate the law have been broken, the dam has been breached.

Many Trump supporters see the hypocrisy of the opposition. They?re all liars. They are all thieving, preaching modesty as they use their public office for personal gain and the chance to get some sex on the side. At least Trump is brazen about it.

Yes, Trump in one sense might have opened the door to making America great again as we return to methods that worked; the direct action of the civil rights movement, the mass workplace and factory occupations of the 1930?s and the rise of the CIO. The heroic struggles of workers and all oppressed peoples that comprise true US history in the struggle against the most ruthless of the world?s ruling classes.

The pathetic opposition to Trump playing out in the glorifying of McCain, Palin?s running mate, is a reflection of the crisis US capitalism finds itself in. Despite their billions, it shows their weakness and our strength.

More reading on the teachers struggles:

Check the labels: Education, Teachers, Team Concept for more.

Source: Capitalism in Crisis: McCain the Defense of Last Resort
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