Saturday, November 26, 2016

With what morality can the [US] leaders talk of human rights in a country where there are millionaires and beggars, where blacks face discrimination, women are prostituted, and great masses of Chicanos, Puerto Ricans and Latin Americans are deprecated, exploited and humiliated?” Fidel Castro, 1978, speech delivered to the World Communist Youth Conference


"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws." -John Adams


"The vast majority of working-class and middle-income seniors would be squeezed out of Medicare and left with narrow network Medicare Advantage plans, which are run by private corporations. Such a shift would have catastrophic consequences for the millions of seniors who rely on Medicare. They would see their access to specialist doctors and hospitals, life-saving treatments and procedures sharply curtailed, resulting in unnecessary suffering and death." Kate Randall, WSWS


"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist." - Saint Francis of Assisi



1--Castro dies at 90


There are so many examples of Fidel’s unwavering stance in solidarity with the oppressed against their oppressors that it would take an entire book to list them all. Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, Bobby Sands, Ben Bella – the roll call of legendary revolutionaries and freedom fighters who have come and gone in Fidel’s lifetime marks by itself a tribute to his legacy, and the tempestuous period he lived through.

Yet, perhaps the most important aspect of Fidel’s legacy is the way he transformed the lives of millions of Cubans in the realms of education, healthcare, and sustainable development, albeit truncated by a decades-long US trade embargo inflicted on the island and its people with the objective of bringing it to its knees. However, even through the ‘special period’ of the 1990s, when after the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba stood alone as a socialist country and society in a sea of global capitalism, the revolution survived.

2--Global Financial Market Losses Reach $50 Trillion, Says Study


3--Russia is Manipulating US Public Opinion through Online Propaganda


Crude attempt to censor popular websites

4--Names of websites on list and Obama's support for censorship.


Russia scapegoating for the ineffectiveness of westrn media to control the narrative that is shaping public perceptions

5--The biggest peddler of fake news. The Government


6--Obama's Departure is One Reason to Feel Optimism for Trump's Arrival

Obama's failed legacy


Obama moved forward to protect the banks, escalate war, and erect the largest national security state ever assembled. He instantly became the austerity President, waging a war of privatization on public education with the expressed plans to do the same to Social Security. Only gridlock saved Social Security and Medicare from being privatized during his Presidency....


years later, Black America is in a worse condition than before, working class people as a whole have lost ground to a low-wage economy, and the world is closer to a World War III scenario than at any point prior.  


6--Washington Post Promotes Shadowy Website That Accuses 200 Publications of Being Russian Propaganda Plants Max Blumenthal (Today's "must read")


Called PropOrNot, the blacklisting organization was described by the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg as “a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.”  (How does the WP know who these guys are if they can't identify them?)...


Despite the Washington Post’s charitable description of PropOrNot as a group of independent-minded researchers dedicated to protecting the integrity of American democracy, the shadowy group bears many of the qualities of the red enemies it claims to be battling. In addition to its blacklist of Russian dupes, it lists a collection of outlets funded by the U.S. State Department, NATO and assorted tech and weapons companies as “allies.” PropOrNot’s methodology is so shabby it is able to peg widely read outlets like Naked Capitalism, a leading left-wing financial news blog, as Russian propaganda operations....


The group also seeks to brand major progressive politics sites (and a number of prominent right-wing opinion outlets) as “‘gray’ fake-media propaganda outlets” influenced or directly operated by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). It can then compel Facebook and Google to ban them, denying them the ad revenue they rely on to survive.Though PropOrNot’s hidden authors claim, “we do not reach our conclusions lightly,” the group’s methodology leaves more than enough room to smear an outlet on political grounds. Among the criteria PropOrNot identifies as clear signs of Russian propaganda are, “Support for policies like Brexit, and the breakup of the EU and Eurozone” and, “Opposition to Ukrainian resistance to Russia and Syrian resistance to Assad.”...

Among the most ironic characteristics of PropOrNot is its claim to be defending journalistic integrity, a rigorous adherence to the facts, and most of all, a sense of political levity. In fact, the group’s own literature reflects a deeply paranoid view of Russia and the outside world. According to PropOrNot’s website, Russia is staging a hostile takeover of America’s alternative online media environment “in order to Make Russia Great Again (as a new ‘Eurasian’ empire stretching from Dublin to Vladisvostok), on the other. That means preserving Russian allies like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, breaking up the ‘globalist’ EU, NATO, and US-aligned trade and defense organizations, and getting countries to join ‘Eurasianist’ Russian equivalents… Or else.”
The message is clear: Stamp out the websites blacklisted by PropOrNot,or submit to the malevolent influence of Putin’s “new global empire."...

As scrutiny of PropOrNot increases, its credibility is rapidly unraveling. But that has not stopped Beltway media wiseguys and Democratic political operatives from hyping its claims. Fake news and Russian propaganda have become the great post-election moral panic, a creeping Sharia-style conspiracy theory for shell-shocked liberals. Hoping to punish the dark foreign forces they blame for rigging the election, many of these insiders have latched onto a McCarthyite campaign that calls for government investigations of a wide array of alternative media outlets. In this case, the medicine might be worse than the disease.    

7--Republican Congress, Trump plan assault on Medicare

During his election campaign, Donald Trump declared that he had no plans to make “substantial” changes to Medicare, the government-run health insurance plan for the elderly and disabled that covers 55 million Americans. The president-elect’s web site now says his administration will work to “modernize Medicare” and allow more “flexibility” for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor jointly administered by the federal government and the states.

These are code words signaling the readiness of the incoming administration to work with the Republican-controlled Congress to shift Medicare from a guaranteed government program to a plan with fixed government contributions—or vouchers—and to pave the way for the program’s privatization and dismantlement. Medicaid is to suffer a similar fate...

Seniors would eventually pay a larger share of costs, while government costs would shrink.
In an earlier version proposed by Ryan, cost-sharing—where the government currently pays roughly 70 percent of Medicare costs and beneficiaries pay 30 percent—would flip, leaving seniors responsible for 70 percent of costs and the government only 30 percent.   ...

The vast majority of working-class and middle-income seniors would be squeezed out of Medicare and left with narrow network Medicare Advantage plans, which are run by private corporations. Such a shift would have catastrophic consequences for the millions of seniors who rely on Medicare. They would see their access to specialist doctors and hospitals, life-saving treatments and procedures sharply curtailed, resulting in unnecessary suffering and death.

The attack on Medicare is part of a frontal assault to be carried out by the Trump administration against all that remains of the social reforms wrested by the working class from the ruling elite over the last century. None of the social programs enacted in the 1930s and 1960s, including Social Security, the government retirement program, will be outside the scope of the social counterrevolution that is being prepared ...

Since Obama’s signature domestic program became law in 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has worked at breakneck speed to transform Medicare’s fee-for-service payments into a system that rewards doctors and hospitals for cutting costs.
HHS projects that nearly every fee-for-service payment to Medicare will be tied in some way to “value” by 2018. A recent estimate by the Congressional Budget Office anticipates a reduction in Medicare spending under Obamacare of $716 billion from 2013 to 2022.
The ferocity of the coming attacks on the basic social needs of the working class—health care, education, decent-paying jobs, pensions—is prefigured in the gang of billionaire parasites being assembled by Trump to staff his cabinet, virtually all of whom have made their fortunes by savaging workers’ living standards and attacking social programs.

Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for secretary of education, is a leading proponent of charter schools and vouchers and vehement enemy of teachers and public education. Investor and former banker Wilbur Ross, Trump’s likely pick for secretary of commerce, made his fortune through leveraged buyouts of distressed steel and coal companies. He made billions by downsizing firms, slashing wages and pensions, and selling off what remained for a hefty profit.
The incoming administration has singled out the 2.7 million US federal employees for attacks on jobs, employment security and pensions 

8--Unimaginable Savagery; Trump names opponent of public schools to head Department of Education

      

President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet of billionaires, religious fundamentalists and militarists is emerging as the most right-wing in US history. His nominee for secretary of education, long-time Republican fundraiser Betsy DeVos, is no exception.
Politically and personally, DeVos personifies the oligarchic and rapacious American ruling class.

For 10 years, DeVos led an organization that calls for the reinstatement of child labor. From 1995 to 2005, she sat on the Board of Directors for the Acton Institute and has given $1.28 million to support the organization since 2000.

A November 3, 2016 blog post by the Acton Institute is titled: “Work is a gift our kids can handle.” The blog argues that turn of the 20th century photographs of young children with their faces covered in coal dust from mining “represent the faces of those who are actively building enterprises and cities, using their gifts to serve their communities, and setting the foundation of a flourishing nation, in turn.”
The article quotes another recent pro-child labor article noting that being a child coal miner is “an exciting life” and that “if kids were allowed to work and compulsory school attendance was abolished, the jobs of choice would be at Chick-Fil-A and Walmart. And they would be fantastic jobs too …”  

Devos’s political orientation reflects the anti-social interests of the aristocratic milieu on whose behalf she speaks.
She is the heiress of her billionaire industrialist father Edgar Prince’s fortune. Her brother, Erik Prince, is the founder of Blackwater USA (since renamed as Academi), the mercenary firm that murdered 17 Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square, Baghdad in 2007. Her husband, Richard DeVos, is the billionaire heir of the Amway corporation fortune who spent tens of millions of dollars of personal wealth running a failed campaign for Governor of Michigan in 2006.
Both Betsy and Richard DeVos’s parents belong to a class of religious zealots who have donated vast sums of money to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

In the book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, author Jane Mayer described the role of the DeVos family: “Starting in 1970, they began to direct at least $200 million into virtually every branch of the New Right’s infrastructure, from think tanks like the Heritage Foundation to academic organizations such as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which funded conservative publications on college campuses.”
In 1997, Betsy DeVos penned a column in the Washington DC publication Roll Call which defended the aristocratic privilege of the wealthy to dominate government:    

9--     The peak oil election?

It was the Peak Oil Election because peak oil defeated both of them. Without increasing energy consumption, there can be no economic growth and, without increasing supplies, there can be no increase in energy consumption. The so-called renewables are hopelessly dependent upon fossil fuels for manufacture, installation and maintenance and are much less energy-intensive than fossil fuels.

The fact is that because oil production cannot be increased, economic growth is now over. Donald Trump’s promise to bring back coal production, increase all fossil fuel extraction and rebuild manufacturing are simply not going to happen, not because of Trump but because policy is no longer in charge. From now on, geology and physics call the shots. The remaining oil is too expensive to get to and extract. Oil companies can’t make a profit at a price that customers in a contracting economy can afford to pay. The growth game is finished as will be soon the multitude of financial frauds that, starting with the peak of United States oil production in 1970, have come to comprise much of our economy.

We need a new sort of politics and economy: local, cooperative, community-based, low-energy, conservationist, non-polluting, an economy that sustainably supports biological needs and health, rather than pursuing riches. I don’t think any politicians are going to do that for us; we need to do it for ourselves


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