Saturday, December 15, 2018

Renewing Russia's Caribbean Military Presence

Russian Bombers Landing in Venezuela: A Reaction to US Threats


December 14, 2018

Two Russian bombers landed in Venezuela on Monday provoking a strong rebuke from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who tweeted, “Russia’s government has sent bombers halfway around the world to Venezuela. The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

Meanwhile, also on Monday, Venezuelan President Maduro accused the White House and National Security Adviser John Bolton, in particular, of being behind assassination plots against President Maduro. A third piece of news from Venezuela, which further points to US-Venezuelan tensions, is that Goodyear announced on Tuesday that it will close its factory in Venezuela because of the harsh US financial sanctions against the country.

While the US tried to portray the landing of Russian nuclear weapons capable bombers in Venezuela as a threat, Venezuela clearly sees the US as the threat, which is why the Russian military was invited, say Steve Ellner and Greg Wilpert.

The Christmas Abolition of War: New Thoughts, Words, and Actions

The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions 

by David Swanson - CounterPunch

December 14, 2018

Remarks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, December 12, 2018
Video is uploading now, at airplane internet speed, to

There’s action happening now in the U.S. Senate on ending U.S. participation in the war on Yemen. There’s a big loophole in the bill. There’s the matter of selling Saudi Arabia its weapons. There’s the House of Misrepresentatives to worry about. There’s the veto threat. There’s the question of getting compliance out of a president you’ve pretty well promised never to impeach, at least not for any of dozens of documented offenses unrelated to Russia. All that being said, the current action is a very good thing, and New Mexico’s senators have thus far been on the right side of it.

If the U.S. Congress were to stand up to a president on one war, people might raise the question of every other war. If the U.S. were to stand up to Saudi Arabia, not by giving it weapons and military assistance and protection from international law while asking it gently to mend its ways, but by refusing to be its partner in crime, somebody might ask why the same couldn’t be tried with Israel or Bahrain or Egypt, and so on.

But you can’t just end a war, can you? What should we replace the war on Yemen with? This is a question I get asked. When this war was what President Obama called a “successful” drone war, the question was usually something like this: “Hey, would you rather have a real war? With a drone war at least nobody gets killed!” Without commenting on who counts as nobody and who doesn’t, I’ll just recall that I would respond that I’d replace it with nothing whatsoever, but that it would eventually replace itself with a worse war — as it has now done.

Wars are different from other things one might propose to end. If I say we should get rid of mass incarceration or gerrymandering or fossil fuel subsidies or livestock or nations or religions or war monuments or major television networks or corporate tax breaks or the United States Senate or the Central Intelligence Agency or the off-sides rule or the acceptability of revenge or private campaign funding or aircraft carriers or telemarketing or the Electoral College or the Commission on Presidential Debates or advertising on stadiums — sorry, sometimes it’s hard to stop — it may or may not make sense, depending on one’s perspective, to ask what I would replace each of those things with. You might be asking, in the absence of gerrymandering, exactly how would districts be drawn. But in the absence of advertising on stadiums, the answer could be stadiums with taxes on corporations or it could just be stadiums without advertising on them, couldn’t it? Not everything needs a replacement.

If I say we should get rid of murder or theft or child abuse or rape or the torture-of-kittens, there are a lot of people who would not ask “But what would you replace it with?” There are even people to whom I could say that we should end the torture of human beings, and not just of kittens, who would still not respond by asking “But what would you replace it with?”

Now, let’s look at the war on Yemen. It’s killing men, women, and children by the tens or hundreds of thousands and risking the deaths of millions more. It’s putting men, women, and children through the agony of deadly diseases, starvation, violent attack, and the ever-present possibility of instant death or maiming. Compared to what this war is doing to millions of people who now live with their families in the middle of what used to be called a battlefield, compared to that, being threatened with a bunch of roving Muslims from Honduras crossing the border and taking over your job almost sounds like good news. I mean, at least on your way out the door you’d get to learn something about Hondurans and why they’re all Muslims and maybe even get your hands on that priceless answer to the eternal question “Why do they hate us?” For what you could sell that answer to Fox News for, you wouldn’t need your job anymore.

The war on Yemen is making a few stinking rich people even richer, but most people poorer. It’s causing horrendous damage to the natural environment, including the earth’s climate, and to a society’s basic infrastructure. It’s making the United States hated and the people who live here less safe, not more. It’s strengthening al Qaeda, ISIS, and violence in general. It’s distracting from actual problems that need to be solved rather than manufactured, such as climate, such as nuclear danger, such as oligarchy. It’s serving as an excuse to flood that region with yet more weapons and to keep propping up the nation with the very worst human rights record on earth. A human rights record, by the way, consists of how you treat humans outside of wars. You could bomb a billion houses but never kill anybody with a scimitar or a bone saw and have a glowing human rights record. Or you could oversee a death camp but wage no wars and have a miserable human rights record. Or you could wage more wars than anybody else, and lock up more prisoners than anybody else, engage in executions and solitary confinement and racist police killings, and allow the most poverty and suffering among all wealthy nations and still have such an awesome human rights record that your people believe your wars are waged for the purpose of spreading human rights. Anyway, my point is that you should, of course, only give bombs to governments that have good human rights records, because pretty much everybody prefers to be bombed by those governments.

The war on Yemen is accomplishing nothing good, while the harm it is doing could be listed for the next hour. And it’s costing financially many times what it would take to transform that nation for the better through actual aid. So, what should we replace the war with? What should we do instead of bombing Yemen?

Not bomb Yemen!

Generally, that’s my first answer when it comes to any war, although there are two other good answers that are progressively less flippant. And I think they’re needed, because even though wars like the war on Yemen are fought by militaries, like the U.S. and Saudi militaries, if I ask “What should we replace the U.S. military with?” nobody thinks that’s a crazy question in the way that I do. That is, nobody thinks it’s as ridiculous a question as “What should we replace kitten torturing with?” If anything, people think it’s a crazy question because they aren’t ready to think that militaries should be abolished.

The second type of answer one can give to “What would you do instead of the war on [insert the name of a nation almost nobody can find on a map here]?” is that you should address the supposed problem by sensible means rather than killing large numbers of people and attempting to somehow connect that to the advertised problem. In other words, search for the nonexistent weapons, or prosecute the alleged crime in an actual court, or negotiate an agreement prior to a massacre that you’re pretending has been threatened, or bring home the U.S. citizens you are claiming are in danger or as many of them as you can persuade to leave. Usually you’ll be dealing with a pile of lies, but this solution works regardless. Libya wasn’t at risk of mass slaughter, but bombing it created that. Iraq wasn’t overrun with terrorists, but now it is. Wouldn’t allowing the African Union to meet with Gadaffi or allowing the inspectors to keep searching for the weapons in Iraq have been better than actually making real the fictional concern? Afghanistan was willing to let bin Laden be put on trial. Why not do that? Vietnam was not actually attacking the United States by not actually firing back at ships off its coast. Why not show the Vietnamese the absence of any damage to the ships and ask them to pay the zero dollars for the needed repairs? Spain was willing to go to arbitration over the ship it didn’t blow up in Havana Harbor. Why not do that?

This answer looks a little different when a just cause has been attached to a past war. Whatever you think of slaughtering three-quarters of a million young men and then ending slavery, most of the world rid itself of slavery or serfdom without that first step. If we were to decide to end mass incarceration, would we first find some fields and kill each other in large numbers, and then end mass incarceration? I tend to think we’d be much better off to just jump straight to ending mass incarceration, gradually or rapidly but without the mass murder first.

When I talk about war lies, and about the fact that a just cause can be glued onto a war but cannot become an inherent part of it, cannot actually justify it, people will sometimes ask, “Well, but then, what is the real reason for all the wars?” If the glorious sacrament of Pearl Harbor was not actually a surprise but was sought out, if the United States didn’t actually fight to save Jews but refused them and condemned them to their fate, if Iraq didn’t really take babies out of incubators, if Mexico didn’t really shoot first, if the Commies didn’t really have a set of super dominoes ready to take over the globe, if Saddam Hussein’s friendship with Al Qaeda was about as strong as Donald Trump’s sense of humility, if Canadians aren’t all miserable servants of the King of England as a result of not having ever fought a bloody revolution, if the native peoples of this continent aren’t actually better off for having been slaughtered, then why? Why do it? You can’t just run around killing people by the tens of millions and risking nuclear apocalypse without some reason? What’s the reason?

I hate to break it to most of the people who email me the answer to this question on a regular basis, but the answer is not, as far as I can tell, any one single thing or necessarily rational at all. Is it financial corruption? Yeah, that’s part of it, but not the biggest part, at least not simply and directly through the buying of officials. There’s also the buying of media, the funding of think tanks, the funding of political parties that buy officials, the screening out of any candidates who might push peaceful proposals on their colleagues, etc. But that’s still not much of the answer.

The answer is also not the existence of a secret subspecies of sociopaths who look just like you and me but have no souls, a contention that is no more established by science than are the racist theories of the surging fascists.

It’s also not public opinion, democracy in action, at least not simply and completely. If we had direct democracy, few if any wars would get started, and military spending would be slashed, likely stimulating a reverse arms race that would eventually make any speeches like this one superfluous. Trump took the White House after making as many antiwar as pro-war statements. Clinton lost a couple of key states to — among many other fair and unfair factors — the belief among military families that she would be more likely to get their loved ones killed. The last time people gave the Democrats the majority in Congress it was explicitly to end the war on Iraq, which the Democrats then escalated. Luckily they haven’t been given the majority for any especially clear purpose this time!

Nor can we attribute all the wars to simple inertia, though it is a major factor. You set up an empire of bases, you sell and give weaponry to the most volatile areas, you arm and train three-quarters of the world’s dictators by your own definition of dictator, you train and practice for every possible and plenty of impossible wars, you normalize wars to the point that nobody even notices them. Few can even name all current U.S. wars. Nobody can name all current U.S. bases or the countries they are in. CNN asks presidential candidates if they’d be willing to kill hundreds and thousands of children. Starbucks says it has a store at Guantanamo because not to have one there would amount to taking a political position. You manipulate language and policy until it’s easier to add more wars than to end any of them. Yet, still, inertia is not enough. Somebody has to act.

I’ve never seen a war that didn’t have a lot of real motivations, all of them misguided or reprehensible, and usually chief among them the crazed desire to dominate the earth and to inflict pain and suffering, and a lot of pretended motivations, all of them false or ludicrous. One of the real motivations that has always been around but which has taken a different twist and emphasis lately is related to image. If you’ve been to a lot of peace rallies you may be familiar with the person, who may or may not be secretly working for the police, who believes that a good, energized, nonviolent rally that’s being ignored by the corporate media would be better off boosted onto the frontpage by smashing a few windows — even if that action actually ensures that the next rally will be smaller rather than larger. Now, imagine finding that guy and making him president of the United States. Imagine the people running the big television networks making him president of the United States because they completely agree with him that there is no such thing as bad attention. The CEO of CBS, in explaining all the free air time for one candidate, said that Donald Trump might be bad for the United States but he sure was good for ratings.

As president, Trump seems to be driven by, in no particular order: what Fox News says, what gets him the most attention, what the last person in the room with him said, what increases his personal financial profits, and what results in the most minutes of Trump on TV. But Trump is not alone in caring, in his own way, what certain media outlets say about him. According to the Pentagon Papers, 70% of the reason for continuing the war on Vietnam — for many years and millions of deaths — was simply so as not to end it, because ending it would be criticized more than any method of continuing it. Or so the war planners believed, and it wasn’t a crazy expectation. Watch what the so-called liberal media say every time Trump takes a step away from or a step toward nuclear war with Russia or North Korea. Media outlets’ loyalties are not to peace or justice but to the storylines they’ve developed.

The most recent commander of the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan recommended ending it, as have others, the moment he was out of it. But the reason that recommendation — made about this war by former top officials of all kinds for longer than high school graduates have been alive now — has not been acted on is probably best summed up by what another former commander of that crime, Stanley McChrystal said recently. McChrystal is played by Brad Pitt in The War Machine on Netflix, but he said this stranger-than-fiction line in reality. He said this when asked what should be done in Afghanistan:

“I met with Secretary Pompeo this morning and he asked me the same question, and I said, ‘I don’t know.’ I wish I did. If I had a clever answer… if we pull out and people like al Qaeda go back, it’s unacceptable for any political administration in the U.S. It would just be disastrous, and it would be a pain for us. If we put more troops in there and we fight forever, that’s not a good outcome either. I’m not sure what [is] the right answer.
My best suggestion is to keep a limited number of forces there and just kind of muddle along and see what we can do. But that means you’re gonna lose some people, and then it’s fair for Americans to ask, ‘why am I doing this? Why am I putting my sons and daughters in harm’s way?’ And the answer is, there’s a certain cost to doing things in the world, being engaged. That’s not as satisfying. That’s not an applause line kind of answer, but that’s what I think, the only thing I could recommend.”

The U.S. military is getting a bit desperate for recruits, and still I have yet to see a poster reading “Sign up to kill people and risk your life for the cause of muddling along! Increase your risk of suicide! We can’t promise you won’t end up freezing on a street or shooting up a night club, but we can guarantee we’ll start lots more wars in the name of supporting you!”

There’s muddling along, and then there’s Army muddling along.

A muddling of one.

Continuing war so as not to end war. That’s a recipe for permawar. And that’s what we’ve got, wars that cannot be ended. And wars that not enough people demand the ending of because not enough of the people being killed in the wars count as what Stanley McChrystal considers people. This past year in Afghanistan has been quite deadly, possibly the deadliest, with more bombs dropped than at any time since the peak in 2011, but fewer than 15 of the deaths have been members of the U.S. military. That number goes up if you count suicides and various other categories that are left out, but it remains tiny compared to Afghan deaths and compared to past wars. That’s what bombing poor people does, it creates one-sided slaughters. But does the U.S. media tell you about it?

I just watched a Hollywood movie called Shock and Awe, which dealt with the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and Vietnam, and I had to wait for a line of text on the screen at the end for any indication that anyone from any nation attacked had been harmed in any way. Apart from that, it seemed that U.S. wars must be waged against U.S. troops who do 100% of the suffering in the wars.

Across the political spectrum the grandest remaining acceptable form of bigotry is that which considers 96% of humanity to be virtually worthless in comparison with the other 4%. Two weeks ago Senator Elizabeth Warren claimed the war on Iraq had killed 6 thousand people. Of course there are well the over 1 million, possibly 2 million, people who lived there who also died, and we have nothing against them, but they aren’t, you know, people, you know, wink wink — only without the wink winking because this is right out in the open. Try, I dare you, to find a U.S. newspaper article about that U.S. civil war that ended slavery that either (1) admits that it didn’t end slavery, or (2) refrains from referring to it as the deadliest U.S. war ever. You’re far more likely to find a skeptical article on the War on Christmas. Yall are aware that the U.S. Civil War is far from the deadliest U.S. war ever, right?

By the way, I understand that Congressman Adam Smith has said he will introduce legislation to cut off funding for the war on Afghanistan. I think we should support ending the war on Yemen and the war on Afghanistan and putting part of the money from both into a green new deal. And I think the draft Green New Deal should acknowledge that the military budget exists as a potential source of funds and that militarism does severe environmental damage that needs to be halted.

I’ve not encountered an actual war on Christmas, but it’s been a long time since the United States had fewer that a half dozen wars raging on any given Christmas. And almost nobody can even name them. Almost everybody can tell me that some wars are justified and others not. But almost nobody can tell me which are which or even name the existing wars in order to discuss them — a problem that I don’t think even the ancient Romans had. Apart from Yemen, there is of course the war on Afghanistan that we refer to as the longest U.S. war ever because the wars against the people who lived in North America were not real wars because they were not actually totally real people, I mean, you know what I mean. Bombing is up dramatically in Afghanistan last year and again this year, according to the U.S. Air Force Central Command’s account of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Imagine how much worse the prisons would be that little refugee children get stuck in if not for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. They’re going to start making us pay fees to hold public gatherings in Washington, D.C., but surely they’d be higher fees without Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Then there’s Operation Inherent Resolve, a war named so well that almost nobody knows where it is, a war that has seen CIA-trained troops and Pentagon-trained troops fighting each other, a war that generally has never made up its mind what it is for, Operation Inherent Resolve, otherwise known as the bombing of Iraq and Syria. Bombing was up last year when Mosul was demolished, but is down dramatically this year.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism lists documented drone missile strikes. They role on at a steady pace in Afghanistan, and have increased in Yemen and Somalia, but are down drastically in Pakistan. Then there’s ongoing U.S. fighting in Libya. Then there are wars across North Africa, a number of them fueled by the destruction of Iraq and of Libya. Then there’s the endless weapons dealing that has saturated a region of the world that, apart from Israel, makes no more weapons than the Native Americans made whiskey or the Chinese made their own opium.

Then there are all the wars threatened and risked, and the smaller-scale violence in dozens of nations across the globe.

Donald Trump is the first U.S. president since Jimmy Carter not to have yet started any big new wars. And the fact that he hasn’t, even though his television tells him that he’s finally presidential when he bombs people, even though he craves the blind worship that comes to war makers, says something very positive about U.S. culture. While the Vietnam Syndrome that Bush the First believed he’d cured was never perfect, the Iraq Syndrome sure isn’t either, but it does exist. It’s why Congress said no to a massive bombing of Syria in 2013. And it’s undoubtedly a big part of why Trump has not launched all out war on Iran. Nobody wants to do something as despised as is what Bush the Younger did. Nothing is healthier than what U.S. culture calls a syndrome.

Now, I’m not here to deny the existence of the so-called Deep State or to tell you that there are no career bureaucrats in Washington, no lobbyists for life, no toxic groupthink, no insidious corruption. But I won’t be the first to tell you that Trump is superficial. I’ve met a number of Congress Members as well. If they weren’t superficial to begin with, they soon become so. And this is not necessarily a bad thing or an anti-democratic thing. If Trump is resistant to attacking Iran because he and others in government know that the rest of us would sooner or later realize it was a horrendously awful thing to do, and if Senators will turn against Saudi Arabia — including Senators funded by Saudi Arabia — because Saudi Arabia killed a Washington Postreporter without using a missile, this opens up some possibilities for us. What if we treated wars that kill anyone the way that politicians fear we might treat wars that kill lots of Americans? What if we treated preparations for more wars that way?

I haven’t even mentioned the main way in which war kills. Three percent of U.S. military spending could end starvation on earth, one percent the lack of clean water. The United States could provide houses and schools and hospitals for everyone in Afghanistan for far less than it has spent destroying the place. Could things be bad and in some ways worse when the United States gets its military out? Of course. We’ve known that and demanded it anyway for many, many years now, based on the understanding that the later it happened the worse it would be. They say that air pollution both causes the greenhouse effect and reflects sunlight, so that if we actually stopped it and had clean air, the loss of that reflectivity would mean additional warming. But that’s no reason whatsoever to continue polluting. Afghanistan has been getting worse in many ways for many years. What if we were to compel the U.S. media to condemn each day of continued occupation that makes things worse the way it is expected to condemn any withdrawal that makes things worse? What if we were to imagine possible ideas to mitigate the damage as if we had at our disposal the unfathomable funds of the U.S. military budget? Could you disarm a country offering $1,000 per gun? Australia did it offering just what guns cost. If you offered people jobs in solar and wind, would they take them? If you can dump hundreds of billions of dollars into cockamamie theories of how to make Afghans like being occupied, why can’t you spend less than that on creating a civilian conservation corps in Afghanistan? If armed forces have proven so incapable, but unarmed civilian protectors and nonviolent peaceforces have been having successes around the world, why not give the latter a try?

The trouble, of course, is that non-war initiatives that cost money are considered expensive, while wars that cost twice as much are considered inevitable. On June 20, 2013, the Atlantic published an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates called “No, Lincoln Could Not Have ‘Bought the Slaves’.” Why not? Well, the slave owners didn’t want to sell. That’s perfectly true. They didn’t, not at all. But the Atlantic also focuses on another argument, namely that it would have just been too expensive, costing as much as $3 billion (in 1860s money). Yet, if you had read closely—it was easy to miss it—the author admitted that the war cost over twice that much. Nobody foresees what a war will cost at its start, but given that every war in history, as far as I know, has been confidently predicted to cost dramatically less than it ended up costing, and given that wars today never end, we could start considering their costs to lie in a range between enormous and infinite.

The conglomeration of endless wars on terrorism that have predictably increased terrorism have not, by the way, cost whatever enormous sum the latest report exclaims. Each such report on what wars have cost is actually trying to tell you that only a fraction of military spending is for wars, while the rest of it is for something else unidentified. In fact, military spending is all for wars and preparations for wars. It costs the United States over a trillion dollars a year. It’s a top destroyer of the natural environment, in addition to being the only likely place to find the funding to seriously mitigate the environmental collapse that is probably already locked in — which makes odd the omission of its existence from drafts of the Democrats’ version of a Green New Deal and the claim therein that money will simply be manufactured. It is the justification for government secrecy. It is the top justification for the erosion of civil liberties. It is a leading cause of increased racism and bigotry. Its veterans make up over 35% of U.S. mass shooters but only 14% of the male population of the relevant ages. It has led to people in many countries telling pollsters that the United States is the top threat to peace in the world. The institution of war is counter-productive on its own and anybody else’s terms. It does more harm than any particular war. It creates the risk of nuclear apocalypse while many nations are working to ban nuclear weapons. For a particular war to be just it would have to impossibly be justifiable on its own terms and, just as impossibly, outweigh all the death and destruction created and allowed to happen by the choice of dumping our resources into the institution of war.

War is the worst and dumbest thing that humans do, and yet it has been so normalized that it just goes without saying, and the need to be rid of it is never said.

If you read the campaign websites of New Mexico’s two senators and three representatives, you’ll not be able to discover whether any of them thinks 60% of discretionary spending for militarism is too little or too much or just right, nor whether any of them wants the United States to join any of the many treaties it is a hold out on, nor whether any of them wants to end any wars or start any wars, close any bases or open any bases. On the websites of two of them, Ben Ray Lujan and Xochitl Torres Small you’ll find no foreign policy at all and only be able to infer that the world must exist because they believe that veterans protect us and defend our freedom, and veterans must do that somewhere. A third, Deb Haaland, provides three sentences and wants the use of force to be a last resort, but doesn’t explain how that’s possible. Tom Udall is pleased with the war on Afghanistan but nonetheless wants it to end some unspecified year or decade. He imagines that the United States is spreading democracy in the Middle East and that giving weapons to Israel is helpful. Martin Heinrich accuses Trump of saber rattling in one sentence and of isolationism in the next, sees NATO as a force for good, believes North Korea and Russia are “worldwide threats,” and claims Russia has attacked the United States in some unspecified way. Heinrich says that the United States should only commit the mass-murderous crime of starting a war when it has “specific, achievable objectives.” He adds a couple of sentences supporting foreign aid and addressing climate change.

There is a third type of answer to the question “What would you replace this war with?” It is to say that we need to replace the whole institution of war with peaceful industries, diplomacy, democratic international institutions, nonviolent conflict resolution, and a culture of peace, This sort of systemic change is outlined in World BEYOND War’s book, A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.

So, what do we need to do to get there? What are the new actions that are required?

We need to demand the immediate end to particular wars and weapons deals, but we need to do so as part of a campaign aimed at total abolition. That means not opposing wars in order to be better prepared for other wars. It means not opposing weapons on the grounds that they don’t work and better-working weapons are needed. It means not pretending that the 3 or 4 percent of deaths in a war that are U.S. deaths are 100 percent of the deaths. Because they can avoid those deaths while still killing on a massive scale. It means replacing the celebrations of militarism in our culture with celebrations of peacemaking. It means educating people to understand and demand steps toward disarmament and conversion.

But it does not mean a lack of urgency. The growing calls for immediate and massive nonviolent resistance and strikes and interference, including from groups with appropriate names like Extinction Rebellion should also be the aim of those who have looked both at the levels of carbon in the atmosphere and at the nuclear doomsday clock. These twin threats are both closer than ever, and deeply interlocked. Not only is militarism where the money sits that is needed for environmental protection, but militarism is a major force in the destruction of the environment.

I recently wrote a letter to Senator Bernie Sanders asking him to take on militarism in a serious way. I asked 100 scholars and activists to sign it at first, and many thousands have signed it since. Today, World BEYOND War,, and CODE PINK launched a petition to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, asking for her Green New Deal to acknowledge the existence of the U.S. military both as a destructive force to scale back through base closures and as a source of funding that needs to be moved to human and environmental needs.

World BEYOND War is working on a couple of campaigns that anyone can get involved in. One is closing bases. Another is divesting from weapons dealers. We are also focused on education. We’re speaking in colleges and high schools, and with groups of teachers. We have free webinars and online courses coming up soon that you can sign up for at

We’re also doing coalition building. Because war is a top destroyer of the environment and of civil liberties and of the rule of law, and a promoter of racism, and a hole into which funding is dumped that is needed by every good movement out there, we can and must build a broader coalition.

One opportunity to do that is this coming April 4th, which ought to be a day to mark Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech against war and his assassination exactly one day later. NATO plans to celebrate itself, its wars, its bases and weapons on April 4th in Washington, D.C. We plan to celebrate peace and to unwelcome NATO to town, and you’re invited to come to DC and to do your own event here. Check out where you can volunteer, endorse, sponsor, find rides and lodging, etc.

In building a larger coalition, there are many things that divide us and distract us. One of the worst things that does both is partisanship. I think it’s important to recognize the lessons of history: most significant change has come primarily from nonviolent movements that have altered what was acceptable, not from putting different people in power.

I’m not against elections. I think the United States should have them someday at international levels of fairness and verifiability. And I think we should use the rotten system we’ve got. And I’m not opposed to changing who’s in power. In fact, I think elections are much too slow and insufficiently punitive, and that we need impeachment and removal, and the credible threat of another impeachment and removal, which is far more important than who the person is who steps into the office.

When it comes to elections, if you want to do the lesser evil thing, knock yourself out. Refraining from arguing about that would be an enormous gift of time and energy to society. But when it’s not election day, I consider any and all lesser-evil thinking and lesser-evil activism to be horribly self-defeating. Years ago a labor union organized rallies for healthcare legislation at which they forbid people to say the words “single payer” insisting that people pretend to want something called “the public option.” They had asked the Democrats what people should pretend to want. And of course they got neither what people actually wanted nor what people obediently pretended they wanted. Elected officials should do their own compromising. They don’t need you to do it for them.

I recently watched former President Obama bragging about how much he’d increased fossil fuel production. And I recalled that had held protests of Obama with Obama logos and cheers for Obama and proclamations that Obama should radically change his ways because these people were with him whether he did or not.

A protest demanding the salvation of the earth does not need to be for or against anybody’s team. It needs to be for all of humanity. Our identity does not need to be one corrupted team or another, or even the whole 4 percent of humanity in this country. It needs to be everybody in this species, in other species, and the ecosystems on which we all depend.
David Swanson wants you to declare peace at His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.
More articles by:David Swanson

Grasping the Integrity Initiative

Integrity: Grasping The Initiative

by Tim Hayward

December 15, 2018 

This is my first personal blogpost since April. At that time I referred to a ‘coordinated smear campaign’ against anti-war journalists, tweeters and academics, whose number included myself and other members of the SPM Working Group.

The portrayal of us as “useful idiots” for some or other official enemy, I suggested, was evidently a strategic communication.

We now know a lot more about the coordination of that communications strategy, thanks to the recently accessed documents exposing the Institute for Statecraft’s so-called Integrity Initiative (here, here and here).

Numerous points of interest and concern emerge, one of which regards the high profile attack launched at our Working Group on the front page of The Times. Two of its authors, we learn, are named in the newly available documents. They – Deborah Haynes and Dominic Kennedy – have not so far responded to invitations to clarify their association with the “Initiative”.

What we do know from the documents is that a coordinated network was very closely following all public comments on such critical events as the Skripals poisoning in Salisbury, on which SPM produced its first Briefing Note, and the chemical attack in Douma this year, which was the focus of SPM’s second Briefing Note.

The working group’s third Briefing Note will be released soon.

Meanwhile, for anyone wishing to catch up with others’ comments on the “Integrity Initiative”, links to discussions of the issue will be maintained here below.

Discussions of Institute for Statecraft’s “Integrity Initiative”

Anonymous (14 December 2018) The documents of ‘Integrity Initiative’, Part 3

Moon of Alabama (14 December 2018) Newly Released ‘Integrity Intitiative’ Papers Include Proposal For Large Disinformation Campaigns

Craig Murray (13 December 2018) British Security Service Infiltration, the Integrity Initiative and the Institute for Statecraft

David Miller (12 December 2018) (Interview:) Integrity Initiative Operations Are ‘Outrageous in Democratic System’, Sputnik News

George Galloway (12 December 2018) A very British coup: The spies who went out to the cold – by George Galloway, RT [Yes, Russia Today. Where is the Western media coverage?]

Aaron Bastani (10 December 2018) Undermining Democracy, Not Defending It: The ‘Integrity Initiative’ is Everything That’s Wrong With British Foreign Policy, Novara Media

John Landale (10 December 2018) Russia hack ‘bid to discredit’ UK anti-disinformation campaign – Foreign Office, BBC [note the perspective adopted in this piece!]

John Ferguson (9 December 2018) Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn, The Daily Record

Conrad Landin (9 December 2018) Researcher at government-funded think tank behind fake news story that Kremlin aided Corbyn’s rise, Morning Star

Ben Gelblum (9 December 2018) Labour demand government explains £2m taxpayers’ cash funding infowars unit which smeared Corbyn and Labour, The London Economic

Alejandro López (6 December 2018) Hackers reveal British government’s interference in Spanish politics, World Socialist Web Site

Mike Robinson (2 December 2018) Integrity Initiative: A Look Into the Deep State? UK Column

John Ferguson (2 December 2018) Derelict Scottish mill is shadowy hub in UK’s fight against Putin’s propaganda machine, Daily Record

Chris Williamson MP (28 November 2018) UK Government ‘Black Propaganda’ and Scrapping Universal Credit, Going Underground, RT (video)

David Miller (26 November 2018) The Integrity Initiative is a British state-funded propaganda operation, Radio Sputnik podcast

Integrity Initiative (26 November 2018) Statement on Russian media publication of hacked II documents

Moon of Alabama (24 November 2018) British Government Runs Secret Anti-Russian Smear Campaigns,

Anonymous (5 November 2018) Documents of ‘Integrity Initiative’, Part 1

Triumph of the Wall: Deaths of Their Own Choosing

The death of Jackeline Caal: A seven-year-old victim of Trump’s war on immigrants

by Patrick Martin - WSWS

15 December 2018  

Seven-year-old Jackeline Caal died in the custody of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last week, the agency admitted Thursday.

The child’s death was a direct consequence of the savage repression of immigrants by the Trump administration, which has intensified to the point where such deaths cannot be considered accidents. They are the inevitable and deliberate result of policies chosen to maximize the suffering and privation for refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

Caal and her father were part of a group of more than 160 Guatemalan immigrants who crossed the US-Mexico border on the night of December 6, seeking sanctuary from rampant violence and oppression in their home country. They turned themselves in to immigration officials at the port-of-entry in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin

Caal’s father Nery told the CBP that she was ill and vomiting, but there were no medical personnel at the location. The detained immigrants were packed into two buses and taken on a 90-minute drive north, ending at a CBP facility in Lordsburg, New Mexico.

Once in Lordsburg, according to the DHS, agents separated Caal from her father on the pretext that he did not have documents proving they were related. This is part of the deliberately cruel regime maintained along the border, aimed at intimidating refugees with the threat that their children will be taken away from them and never returned.

After the separation, Caal began having seizures. Local EMT personnel were called and had to revive the child twice when she stopped breathing. They found she had a fever of 105.7 degrees. They had her airlifted to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, about 160 miles away. There she was treated for severe dehydration and lack of food but died in the intensive care unit less than 24 hours later. Her father Nery had been driven to the hospital and was there when she died.

The chain of circumstances here is damning. The refugees were compelled to make the dangerous trek through the Sonora desert because the US government refuses to allow them to apply for asylum at well-traveled border crossings, deliberately stalling their processing for weeks, even months.

The CBP facility at Antelope Wells had no medical personnel and was completely unsuited to receiving refugees in family groups. At a congressional hearing Tuesday, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan testified that the stations were built many years ago to handle border crossers who were unaccompanied men of working age, usually in good physical condition.

In November, however, 25,000 immigrants crossed the US-Mexico border as family groups, he said, including 5,200 children without a guardian.

“Our infrastructure is incompatible with this reality,” McAleenan admitted.
“Our border patrol stations and ports of entry were built to mostly handle male single adults in custody. Not families or children.”

Once the CBP took the Guatemalan group into custody, they first ignored the father’s concern for his young daughter, then deliberately separated him from her, claiming he lacked proof of parenthood. It was only when the girl stopped breathing that emergency services were called. But it proved to be too late. It is not clear whether the CBP provided either water or food to the refugees after they turned themselves in.

When the news of this horrific death was first reported Thursday night, the Trump administration immediately went into damage control, blaming the family of the child. Appearing on Trump’s favorite program, Fox & Friends, on Friday morning, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declared,

“This family chose to cross illegally.”
She continued, “What happened here was they were about 90 miles away from where we could process them. They were in such a large crowd that it took our Border Patrol folks a couple of times to get them all.” 

The DHS secretary concluded by making use of the tragedy to deter future border crossings. 
“I cannot stress,” she said, “how dangerous this journey is when migrants choose to come here illegally.”

The White House took the same tack, even more crudely.

“Does the administration take responsibility for a parent taking a child on a trek through Mexico to get to this country? No,” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said Friday morning, also on Fox News.

Neither the DHS secretary nor the White House addressed the undisputed fact that Jackeline Caal died, not in the desert, but in the custody of the DHS.

The CBP and DHS initially refused to release the name of the young victim, describing her only as a “juvenile detainee” in the statement announcing her death. It was only the foreign ministry of Guatemala that supplied the name of the girl and her 29-year-old father, adding that they were from Raxruha, in the Alta Verapaz department of northern Guatemala.

The father is a native speaker of a Mayan Indian language. He has limited fluency in Spanish as a second language, and no English. He was interrogated in Spanish by Border Patrol agents and filled out a health questionnaire in English at their direction.

The death of Jackeline Caal prompted a flood of hypocritical statements from Democratic Party politicians.

“There are no words to capture the horror of a seven-year-old girl dying of dehydration in U.S. custody,” Hillary Clinton said on Twitter Friday morning.
“What’s happening at our borders is a humanitarian crisis.”

Clinton was part of the Obama administration, which deported more immigrants than all previous administrations in the American history, mobilized troops to the border like Trump, if on a slightly smaller scale, and began the mass detention of refugee families from Central America that Trump has now transformed into a virtual war against supposed “invaders” of the United States.

Moreover, as secretary of state, Clinton was directly responsible for the US-backed military coup in Honduras in 2009, which was a turning point in the upsurge of mass repression and violence that is the driving force for the large-scale northward migration from that country.

The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, wrote on twitter that DHS Secretary Nielsen was to appear before the committee next week, “and we will be demanding immediate answers to this tragedy.” Nadler appeared on several television interview programs Sunday in which he raised the prospect of impeaching Trump over campaign finance violations or the Russia investigation, and said nothing at all about the administration’s persecution of immigrants.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic congressman from El Paso, where Jackeline Caal died, tweeted,

“I am deeply saddened by this girl’s death,” adding,
“There must be a complete investigation and the results shared with Congress and the public.” 

O’Rourke, who lost the Senate race in Texas to incumbent Ted Cruz, is now considering a presidential bid.

Representative Joaquín Castro of San Antonio, the incoming chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), is also considering a 2020 presidential campaign. He issued a statement declaring,

“This is a humanitarian crisis and we have a moral obligation to ensure these vulnerable families can safely seek asylum, which is legal under immigration and international law, at our borders.”

A third potential 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, denounced the death of Jackeline Caal as “tragic and awful,” but said there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the Border Patrol officers. “I hope she got immediate care and received water as everybody should at the border,” he said, but he offered no evidence that this was the case.

The most emotional statement from a Democrat came from Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, who will head the Appropriations subcommittee for Homeland Security in January. She tweeted that she was “horrified, heartbroken, and infuriated” and declared,

“This is yet another example of how the Trump Administration puts NO value on the lives and dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

All these Democratic representatives and senators, however, were supporters of the Obama administration during the period that it maintained the most repressive anti-immigrant policy in American history—until Trump. Moreover, the Democratic representatives have just reelected Nancy Pelosi as their leader, after which she went to the White House with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer to argue with Trump about the border wall, while pledging her support for increased “border security” to the tune of at least $1.3 billion.

In other words, the Democrats are happy to bash Trump after a tragedy like the death of Jackeline Caal, but they are fully in support of the machinery of repression on the border which makes such deaths inevitable, as long as it doesn’t take the form of a concrete wall from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico.

Also Friday, the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that they arrested more undocumented immigrants during the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2018, than in any year since 2014. The total was 158,851 people, an 11 percent increase over 2017. ICE arrests of immigrants with no criminal history jumped by nearly one third, to 20,464. “Criminal history” can be as little as a drunk driving arrest or minor drug possession, or a reentry to the United States after being deported once.

While these figures show that during the first fiscal year entirely under the Trump administration, persecution of immigrants increased significantly, they also show that Trump still lags behind the worst years of the Obama administration, when Obama was branded the “deporter-in-chief” by immigrants’ rights groups.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Oliver Stone, Remembering Bill Blum

Oliver Stone Remembers Anti-Imperialist Journalist William Blum, Chronicler of CIA Crimes


December 14, 2018  

The world has lost an antiwar legend. The renowned historian and journalist William Blum died on December 9 at the age of 85. He was a lifelong anti-imperialist committed to exposing U.S. war crimes and CIA covert activities across the globe.

Blum was the author of several influential books, including Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, and Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II. And to discuss Blum’s legacy we have the privilege of being joined by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, who was a friend and supporter of Blum.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone speaks about the life and legacy of dissident journalist and historian William Blum, who documented US war crimes and CIA interventions across the planet.

Meeting the Landlords: Human Property and Its Owners

Wall Street, Banks, and Angry Citizens: The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme

by Nomi Prins - TomDispatch

December 13, 2018

  As we head into 2019, leaving the chaos of this year behind, a major question remains unanswered when it comes to the state of Main Street, not just here but across the planet. If the global economy really is booming, as many politicians claim, why are leaders and their parties around the world continuing to get booted out of office in such a sweeping fashion?

One obvious answer: the post-Great Recession economic “recovery” was largely reserved for the few who could participate in the rising financial markets of those years, not the majority who continued to work longer hours, sometimes at multiple jobs, to stay afloat. In other words, the good times have left out so many people, like those struggling to keep even a few hundred dollars in their bank accounts to cover an emergency or the 80% of American workers who live paycheck to paycheck.

In today's global economy, financial security is increasingly the property of the 1%. No surprise, then, that, as a sense of economic instability continued to grow over the past decade, angst turned to anger, a transition that -- from the U.S. to the Philippines, Hungary to Brazil, Poland to Mexico -- has provoked a plethora of voter upheavals. In the process, a 1930s-style brew of rising nationalism and blaming the “other” -- whether that other was an immigrant, a religious group, a country, or the rest of the world -- emerged. 
Tomgram: Nomi Prins, A World That Is the Property of the 1%

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: I hate to even bring it up, but we’ve come to that moment again. You know, the one at year's end when I ask all of you for money to keep this website afloat. This isn’t exactly how I like to spend my time either, but your contributions really do keep us going. So I’ve written a funding appeal to all TomDispatch subscribers that begins this way: “What a year! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted by You Know Who and the 'Fake News Media' coverage of him. I know, I know... in the president’s inimitable style I should have at least six exclamation points after that last sentence. Still, I don’t think it would be an unfair description to say that I’m one of the un-Trumps. I don’t insult. I don’t even tweet...” The appeal includes, of course, the expectable but necessary plea for donations. If you’re not a TD subscriber but visit this site regularly, you can click here to read my whole letter. Or, if the mood strikes you instantly, you can just go right to the TD donation page and contribute. In return for a $100 donation -- $125 if you live outside the U.S. -- you can also choose to receive a signed, personalized copy of various Dispatch Books or others as a token of our thanks. Believe me, you really do make all the difference. Tom]

This year, I simply couldn’t get one fact out of my head: according to a 2017 report from the Institute for Policy Studies, three billionaires -- Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates -- have amassed as much wealth as the bottom half of American society. That’s 160 million people! (And unlike our president, I don’t use exclamation points lightly or often.) Or as Oxfam reported in January of this year, the wealth of eight men -- and yes, they were men (including the three mentioned above) -- was equal to that of half the people on this planet in 2017. Yikes! And just to give you a sense of where we’ve been heading at supersonic speed, an Oxfam report a year earlier had 62 billionaires owning half the planet’s wealth. Imagine that: 62 to eight in a single year.

Then consider what we know about the rise of the billionaire class. Again, according to Oxfam, a new billionaire appeared every two days in 2017, while 82% of the wealth being created on this planet already went to the top 1% and the bottom half of the global population saw no wealth gains at all. In 2017 (the last year for which we have such figures), the total wealth of the globe’s billionaire class ballooned by almost 20%. (And I want you to know that, unlike our president, I’m fighting hard to restrain the urge to put one or more exclamation points after every one of those sentences.)

Oxfam released its figures this January to coincide with the annual meeting of the world’s top dogs at Davos in Switzerland. Assumedly, it will do so again in January 2019 and I shudder to think what the next set of stats are likely to be. In the meantime, consider what TomDispatch regular Nomi Prins, author most recently of Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World, has to say about a planet on which the actual economic situation of most people bears remarkably little relationship to what’s generally advertised and why, if you think stability is already a thing of the past in a Trumpian world, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. Tom

Wall Street, Banks, and Angry Citizens: 

The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme

by Nomi Prins

This phenomenon offered a series of Trumpian figures, including of course The Donald himself, an opening to ride a wave of “populism” to the heights of the political system. That the backgrounds and records of none of them -- whether you’re talking about Donald Trump, Viktor Orbán, Rodrigo Duterte, or Jair Bolsonaro (among others) -- reflected the daily concerns of the “common people,” as the classic definition of populism might have it, hardly mattered. Even a billionaire could, it turned out, exploit economic insecurity effectively and use it to rise to ultimate power.

Ironically, as that American master at evoking the fears of apprentices everywhere showed, to assume the highest office in the land was only to begin a process of creating yet more fear and insecurity. Trump’s trade wars, for instance, have typically infused the world with increased anxiety and distrust toward the U.S., even as they thwarted the ability of domestic business leaders and ordinary people to plan for the future. Meanwhile, just under the surface of the reputed good times, the damage to that future only intensified. In other words, the groundwork has already been laid for what could be a frightening transformation, both domestically and globally.

That Old Financial Crisis

To understand how we got here, let’s take a step back. Only a decade ago, the world experienced a genuine global financial crisis, a meltdown of the first order. Economic growth ended; shrinking economies threatened to collapse; countless jobs were cut; homes were foreclosed upon and lives wrecked. For regular people, access to credit suddenly disappeared. No wonder fears rose. No wonder for so many a brighter tomorrow ceased to exist.

The details of just why the Great Recession happened have since been glossed over by time and partisan spin. This September, when the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the global financial services firm Lehman Brothers came around, major business news channels considered whether the world might be at risk of another such crisis. However, coverage of such fears, like so many other topics, was quickly tossed aside in favor of paying yet more attention to Donald Trump’s latest tweets, complaints, insults, and lies. Why? Because such a crisis was so 2008 in a year in which, it was claimed, we were enjoying a first class economic high and edging toward the longest bull-market in Wall Street history. When it came to “boom versus gloom,” boom won hands down.

None of that changed one thing, though: most people still feel left behind both in the U.S. and globally. Thanks to the massive accumulation of wealth by a 1% skilled at gaming the system, the roots of a crisis that didn’t end with the end of the Great Recession have spread across the planet, while the dividing line between the “have-nots” and the “have-a-lots” only sharpened and widened.

Though the media hasn’t been paying much attention to the resulting inequality, the statistics (when you see them) on that ever-widening wealth gap are mind-boggling. According to, for instance, those with at least $30 million in wealth globally had the fastest growth rate of any group between 2016 and 2017. The size of that club rose by 25.5% during those years, to 174,800 members. Or if you really want to grasp what’s been happening, consider that, between 2009 and 2017, the number of billionaires whose combined wealth was greater than that of the world’s poorest 50% fell from 380 to just eight. And by the way, despite claims by the president that every other country is screwing America, the U.S. leads the pack when it comes to the growth of inequality. As notes, it has “much greater shares of national wealth and income going to the richest 1% than any other country.”

That, in part, is due to an institution many in the U.S. normally pay little attention to: the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve. It helped spark that increase in wealth disparity domestically and globally by adopting a post-crisis monetary policy in which electronically fabricated money (via a program called quantitative easing, or QE) was offered to banks and corporations at significantly cheaper rates than to ordinary Americans.

Pumped into financial markets, that money sent stock prices soaring, which naturally ballooned the wealth of the small percentage of the population that actually owned stocks. According to economist Stephen Roach, considering the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances, “It is hardly a stretch to conclude that QE exacerbated America’s already severe income disparities.”

Wall Street, Central Banks, and Everyday People

What has since taken place around the world seems right out of the 1930s. At that time, as the world was emerging from the Great Depression, a sense of broad economic security was slow to return. Instead, fascism and other forms of nationalism only gained steam as people turned on the usual cast of politicians, on other countries, and on each other. (If that sounds faintly Trumpian to you, it should.)

In our post-2008 era, people have witnessed trillions of dollars flowing into bank bailouts and other financial subsidies, not just from governments but from the world's major central banks. Theoretically, private banks, as a result, would have more money and pay less interest to get it. They would then lend that money to Main Street. Businesses, big and small, would tap into those funds and, in turn, produce real economic growth through expansion, hiring sprees, and wage increases. People would then have more dollars in their pockets and, feeling more financially secure, would spend that money driving the economy to new heights -- and all, of course, would then be well.

That fairy tale was pitched around the globe. In fact, cheap money also pushed debt to epic levels, while the share prices of banks rose, as did those of all sorts of other firms, to record-shattering heights.

Even in the U.S., however, where a magnificent recovery was supposed to have been in place for years, actual economic growth simply didn’t materialize at the levels promised. At 2% per year, the average growth of the American gross domestic product over the past decade, for instance, has been half the average of 4% before the 2008 crisis. Similar numbers were repeated throughout the developed world and most emerging markets. In the meantime, total global debt hit $247 trillion in the first quarter of 2018. As the Institute of International Finance found, countries were, on average, borrowing about three dollars for every dollar of goods or services created.

Global Consequences

What the Fed (along with central banks from Europe to Japan) ignited, in fact, was a disproportionate rise in the stock and bond markets with the money they created. That capital sought higher and faster returns than could be achieved in crucial infrastructure or social strengthening projects like building roads, high-speed railways, hospitals, or schools.

What followed was anything but fair. As former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen noted four years ago,

“It is no secret that the past few decades of widening inequality can be summed up as significant income and wealth gains for those at the very top and stagnant living standards for the majority.” 

And, of course, continuing to pour money into the highest levels of the private banking system was anything but a formula for walking that back.

Instead, as more citizens fell behind, a sense of disenfranchisement and bitterness with existing governments only grew. In the U.S., that meant Donald Trump. In the United Kingdom, similar discontent was reflected in the June 2016 Brexit vote to leave the European Union (EU), which those who felt economically squeezed to death clearly meant as a slap at both the establishment domestically and EU leaders abroad.

Since then, multiple governments in the European Union, too, have shifted toward the populist right. In Germany, recent elections swung both right and left just six years after, in July 2012, European Central Bank (ECB) head Mario Draghi exuded optimism over the ability of such banks to protect the financial system, the Euro, and generally hold things together.

Like the Fed in the U.S., the ECB went on to manufacture money, adding another $3 trillion to its books that would be deployed to buy bonds from favored countries and companies. That artificial stimulus, too, only increased inequality within and between countries in Europe. Meanwhile, Brexit negotiations remain ruinously divisive, threatening to rip Great Britain apart.

Nor was such a story the captive of the North Atlantic. In Brazil, where left-wing president Dilma Rouseff was ousted from power in 2016, her successor Michel Temer oversaw plummeting economic growth and escalating unemployment.

That, in turn, led to the election of that country’s own Donald Trump, nationalistic far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro who won a striking 55.2% of the vote against a backdrop of popular discontent. In true Trumpian style, he is disposed against both the very idea of climate change and multilateral trade agreements.

In Mexico, dissatisfied voters similarly rejected the political known, but by swinging left for the first time in 70 years. New president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known by his initials AMLO, promised to put the needs of ordinary Mexicans first. However, he has the U.S. -- and the whims of Donald Trump and his “great wall” -- to contend with, which could hamper those efforts.

As AMLO took office on December 1st, the G20 summit of world leaders was unfolding in Argentina. There, amid a glittering backdrop of power and influence, the trade war between the U.S. and the world’s rising superpower, China, came even more clearly into focus. While its president, Xi Jinping, having fully consolidated power amid a wave of Chinese nationalism, could become his country’s longest serving leader, he faces an international landscape that would have amazed and befuddled Mao Zedong.

Though Trump declared his meeting with Xi a success because the two sides agreed on a 90-day tariff truce, his prompt appointment of an anti-Chinese hardliner, Robert Lighthizer, to head negotiations, a tweet in which he referred to himself in superhero fashion as a “Tariff Man,” and news that the U.S. had requested that Canada arrest and extradite an executive of a key Chinese tech company, caused the Dow to take its fourth largest plunge in history and then fluctuate wildly as economic fears of a future “Great Something” rose. More uncertainty and distrust were the true product of that meeting.

In fact, we are now in a world whose key leaders, especially the president of the United States, remain willfully oblivious to its long-term problems, putting policies like deregulation, fake nationalist solutions, and profits for the already grotesquely wealthy ahead of the future lives of the mass of citizens. Consider the yellow-vest protests that have broken out in France, where protestors identifying with left and right political parties are calling for the resignation of neoliberal French President Emmanuel Macron. Many of them, from financially starved provincial towns, are angry that their purchasing power has dropped so low they can barely make ends meet.

Ultimately, what transcends geography and geopolitics is an underlying level of economic discontent sparked by twenty-first-century economics and a resulting Grand Canyon-sized global inequality gap that is still widening. Whether the protests go left or right, what continues to lie at the heart of the matter is the way failed policies and stop-gap measures put in place around the world are no longer working, not when it comes to the non-1% anyway. People from Washington to Paris, London to Beijing, increasingly grasp that their economic circumstances are not getting better and are not likely to in any presently imaginable future, given those now in power.

A Dangerous Recipe

The financial crisis of 2008 initially fostered a policy of bailing out banks with cheap money that went not into Main Street economies but into markets enriching the few. As a result, large numbers of people increasingly felt that they were being left behind and so turned against their leaders and sometimes each other as well.

This situation was then exploited by a set of self-appointed politicians of the people, including a billionaire TV personality who capitalized on an increasingly widespread fear of a future at risk. Their promises of economic prosperity were wrapped in populist platitudes, normally (but not always) of a right-wing sort. Lost in this shift away from previously dominant political parties and the systems that went with them was a true form of populism, which would genuinely put the needs of the majority of people over the elite few, build real things including infrastructure, foster organic wealth distribution, and stabilize economies above financial markets.

In the meantime, what we have is, of course, a recipe for an increasingly unstable and vicious world.

Nomi Prins is a TomDispatch regular. Her latest book is Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World (Nation Books). Of her six other books, the most recent is All the Presidents' Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power. She is a former Wall Street executive. Special thanks go to researcher Craig Wilson for his superb work on this piece.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky's novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt's A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower's The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Copyright 2018 Nomi Prins

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mobilizing Crimea

Ukraine Requests NATO Military Buildup, Imposes Martial Law as Russia Sends Troops to Border


December 12, 2018

A growing military buildup in Ukraine and Russia has put the world on edge. Ukraine has imposed martial law and requested a major NATO military presence in the Black Sea and Russia is sending troops to its border.

In a disputed incident on November 25th, the Russian Coast Guard fired at and captured three Ukrainian navy vessels that were trying to cross from the Black Sea into the Asov Sea. Russia claimed these waters as its own territory and said that it told Ukrainian ships not to enter but they were refusing to respond to its radio warnings.

Tensions flare as Ukraine imposes martial law and President Poroshenko requests a major NATO military presence in the Black Sea, while Russia sends troops to Crimea and its border. Historian Tarik Cyril Amar speaks about the increasing militarization of the conflict.

Bourdain Still Dead After Six Months

Bourdain Still Dead After Six Months

by C. L. Cook - Pacific Free Press

December 12, 2018

"Anxiety and depression are normal reactions to circumstances that are profoundly disordered: when lies are promoted as truth, ugliness as beauty, and fear is your motivation. Do not medicalize your pain: fight back. You will die anyway, but give yourself a reason to live." ~ Werner Twertzog sez

Fishing through the head-side newspaper rack for a cryptic crossword to take into the bath I came across an aged, single, yellowing page of the 'Life' section of the local rag.

The challenge puzzles long-done, I settled into the tub anyway with the Jumble and a standard ten-minute Grid-for-Dummies. Eleven minutes later I turned the page, hoping to see what I knew wasn't on the other side, another puzzle.

Instead, there below a large photograph of Anthony Bourdain, were a pair of articles, obituaries of the feted author, famous television show host/producer, and globe-trotting kitchen raconteur found hanged in his suite at the five star, Hotel Le Chambard in Kayserberg, France.

The subhead of the first, a syndicated piece from the Associated Press, informed, "Chef whose whimsical sense of adventure won millions of fans is thought to have hanged himself at hotel".

A little more than six months from the day, that's how the story remains.

Late to appreciate Bourdain's programs, I watched enough of them however to get a sense of the man, (in a media-witnessed way) and felt the familiar, "Oh gee...bummer" sensation when first hearing the news on that late Spring day in June.

Though nothing on the scale of the annus horribilus for celebrities in 2016, the quick succession of his and fellow New York culture celeb, Kate Spade's suicides created a brief zeitgeist ripple, reminding again of both the fragility and mystery of life. "Why?" we asked, "when they seemed to have it all..."

The portrait accompanying the piece offers only as much as can be read into it. Bourdain seated in a well-appointed room, (the suite at the Chambard?) in a medium shot. An arm draped round the chair back, his other on the table, as though he may stand for a different pose. The expression a poker face, not blank but unrevealing, the caption ironic in the circumstance, reading,

"You go out there and show the best story you can as best you can. If it's interesting to you, hopefully it's interesting to others."

The second obit is more focused, detailing Bourdain's appearances at local and near-local restaurants to me, a speaking engagement to a sold-out house possessing a "rock concert-like atmosphere", and Canadian anecdotes.

There are too quoted reactions by friends.

"I'm in shock, devastated and at a total loss for words (the right and wrong ones)," restaurateur, Jen Agg says.
"I'm so sad for his family. I'm so sad for his friends. I'm so sad for his colleagues. I'm so sad for me."

All those left behind by suicide are left sad and bewildered and wondering not why, but how they missed the chance to intervene, to make things better, good enough to stay around for; missed the chance to save their loved ones.

The New York Times eulogized the native son. A quick internet search of articles from the day after turns up, 'Sorrow and Questions in a French Village After Anthony Bourdain's Suicide'. It probes, between ads for Zenith wrist watches and make-up routines older women should know about, the baffling occasion of Bourdain's sudden death.

There are pictures, taken just days before the unhappy event, of friends in a narrow, cobblestone, Kayserberg street, all smiles and bonhomie; nothing to hint at the dark time to come.

Olivier Nasti, chef and owner of Le Chambard sends out condolences to all Bourdain's fans, to all "the anonymous people around the world" on behalf of the "whole family of French gastronomy that joins me, to renew our deep friendship to our American brothers bereaved."

An American tourist, unexpectedly arrived at the tragic scene laments his countryman's passing, observing,

"He opened up doors; he took people where they would otherwise not go, because they were afraid to go. He made them be not afraid."

And there he is, his photograph in a newspaper, dug from deep among many in my bathroom magazine rack, faintly smiling, enigmatic, seated in a chair, alive and still dead six months later.

Genuflecting Genocide Along a Road to Global Disaster

Veneration of Power Leading to Climate Catastrophe

by Media Lens

December 12, 2018

In a recent media alert, we presented a few rules that journalists must follow if they are to be regarded as a safe pair of hands by editors and corporate media owners. One of these rules is that 'we' in the West are assumed to be 'the good guys'.

This seriously damaging narrative, flying in the face of historical evidence and endlessly crushing state policies, ensures that the public is kept ignorant and pacified.

The consequences have been deadly for millions of the West's victims around the world, and now mean climate catastrophe that could end human civilisation.

First, take the recent devout coverage following the death of George Herbert Walker Bush, US President from 1989-1993, and Vice-President under Ronald Reagan from 1981-1989.

When a (former) Western leader dies, the raw propaganda is often at its most fawning and servile. On Bush's death, 'mainstream' media outlets broadcast and published eulogies and fanciful words of praise, divorced from reality. For example, BBC News channelled former President Barack Obama:

'George HW Bush's life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey.'

The Clintons - like the Bush dynasty, part of the US ruling class - added their own gushing propaganda tribute:

'Few Americans have been - or will ever be - able to match President Bush's record of service to the United States and the joy he took every day from it.'

Referring to the massive US attack following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the 1990-1991 Gulf War, 'impartial' BBC News launched into full-blown Orwellian newspeak:

'The subsequent battle proved to be a triumph for American military expertise and a major boost for the nation's morale.'

Likewise, the Guardian's obituary described Bush Senior's devastation of Iraq as 'triumphant'; 'the president did not put a foot wrong'; 'his most impressive achievement'; 'Bush's masterly management of the first Iraq war'; and so on, in an elite-friendly script that was essentially a press release from the very centre of US power.

The cruel reality of Bush's 'most impressive achievement', as we noted in a 2002 media alert, was that Iraq's entire civilian infrastructure was targeted and largely destroyed under the rain of bombs. All of Iraq's eleven major electrical power plants, as well as 119 substations, were destroyed. 90 per cent of electricity generation was out of service within hours; within days, all power generation in the country had ceased. Eight multi-purpose dams were repeatedly hit and destroyed, wrecking flood control, municipal and industrial water storage, irrigation and hydroelectric power. Four of Iraq's seven major water pumping stations were destroyed. According to Eric Hoskins, a Canadian doctor and coordinator of a Harvard study team on Iraq, the allied bombardment:

'effectively terminated everything vital to human survival in Iraq - electricity, water, sewage systems, agriculture, industry and health care'. (Quoted Mark Curtis, 'The Ambiguities of Power', Zed Books, 1995)

Under the 88,500 tons of bombs - the equivalent of seven Hiroshimas - that followed the launch of the air campaign on January 17, 1991, and the ground attack that followed, 150,000 Iraqi troops and 50,000 civilians were killed. The Guardian's glowing obituary omitted all of these brutal facts. The Observer, the Guardian's Sunday sister paper, sang from the same hymn sheet, describing the former head of the CIA and US president as:

'an American patriot with a deep sense of duty'.

The guff piece was written by serial propagandist Simon Tisdall who has variously been a foreign leader writer, foreign editor and US editor for the Guardian. Tisdall waxed that:

'Bush set great store by civility in public life. As Republican candidate in 1988 he called for a "kinder, gentler nation". He was, quintessentially, a decent man, with a taste for the lifestyle of an English country gentleman.'

Bush's 'most admirable quality', opined the Guardian man, was 'his deep sense of public duty and service.' That word 'service' again, repeated over and over like a mantra. But who was really being served by Bush's violence?

The Guardian devoted a section of its website to Bush Sr, featuring headlines such as:

  • '"A different command". How Bush's war shaped his work for peace'
  • 'a man of the highest character'
  • 'The "dear dad" dedicated to faith, family and country'
  • 'Steady hand during collapse of communism'
  • '"Dear Bill." Clinton heralds letter from Bush as source of lasting friendship'

When Official Enemies portray their Glorious Leaders in this way, western commentators routinely sneer with derision. Al Abunimah, editor of Electronic Intifada, highlighted the above litany of nonsense in a single tweet, and rightly scorned the Guardian as 'a bastion of regime propaganda and sycophancy to powerful elites.'

Meanwhile, BBC News, like the rest of the corporate media, virtually canonised Bush as a saintly agent of Western benevolence. Even his 'service dog' Sully paid a 'touching last tribute', sleeping beside the late President's casket. We were to understand that Sully was heart-broken after long years spent devotedly serving his 'master'. In fact, he had been assigned to assist Bush in the summer of 2018, just a few months ago.

By glaring contrast, a Morning Star editorial gave an honest assessment of Bush Sr's contribution to the world, summed up as:

'A lifetime in the service of imperialism.'

Nathan Robinson, editor of Current Affairs, listed numerous appalling crimes and abuses of human rights carried out by Bush, almost entirely buried by sycophantic journalists on his death, and concluded:

'Coverage of George H.W. Bush's death proves that Noam Chomsky's media theory is completely true'.

'Mainstream' media professionals do not know, or do not care, what Bush actually did in his life. Perhaps they also assume that the public do not know or care either. Obedient journalists have simply buried the destruction and mass death wreaked on Iraq in the Gulf War. In his Bush obituary, Nick Bryant, the New York-based BBC News correspondent, brushed all this away and stuck to the standard deception of 'mistakes were made' in Iraq. By 'mistakes', Bryant meant that the US encouraged the Kurds and Shia-dominated south to revolt against Saddam Hussein, but then failed to offer sufficient backing. Under BBC 'journalism', Bush's 'mistakes' do not include mass killing and destruction. That is simply unthinkable.

The truth is that the corporate media, the BBC very much included, do not care about the deadly effect of mass sanctions and infrastructure destruction on Iraq through the 1990s, up to the 2003 Iraq War. Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, reported that 4,000 more children under five were dying every month in Iraq than would have died before Western sanctions were imposed. A total of half a million children under five died, amongst a total death toll of over one million Iraqis. There is clearly no need or desire for western corporate media to dwell on Bush Sr's role in such horrors.

Nor do corporate journalists care about his service to death, torture, secret assassinations, and propping up of dictators in his role as head of the CIA. They do not care that, as Vice-President, Bush refused to apologise for the shooting down of Iran Air flight 655 over the Persian Gulf by the US warship Vincennes on July 3, 1988. All 290 people on board the plane were killed, including 66 children. Instead, he said callously:

'I will never apologize for the United States — I don't care what the facts are. ... I'm not an apologize-for America kind of guy.'

Clearly, most corporate journalists do not care that Bush shares responsibility for the multiple bloodbaths that soaked Latin America in the 1980s. They do not care that Bush was, as historian Greg Grandin notes, an 'icon' of 'brutal US oppression in the Third World'. They do not care that Bush invaded Panama in 1989, in the biggest deployment of US force since the Vietnam War, ostensibly to capture former US ally Manuel Noriega on charges of drug trafficking. US planes heavily bombed populated areas, resulting in the estimated deaths of 3,000 Panamanians. Grandin says that the 'lasting impact of the Panama invasion' is the US wars that followed in subsequent decades. On Bush's death, the corporate media did their job of whitewashing his blood-soaked legacy; just as they covered for his crimes when he was in power.

'Climate Catastrophe Now Inevitable'

All this matters because the media's veneration of Bush, and western leaders generally, is a glaring symptom of a deep truth about the corporate media: their primary function is to project a severely distorted view of world events, one that embodies state and corporate priorities rooted in power and short-term profit at any cost.

The public is perennially starved of rational facts about the real state of the planet, and the greed-driven policies that hold sway over electorates and even over global ecosystems. The appalling consequence is that we are now certainly headed for climate catastrophe. Even a few within the corporate media have started to admit as much. Science writer Robin McKie noted in the Guardian that:

'Climate catastrophe is now looking inevitable.'

McKie added that the US has produced around one third of the carbon dioxide responsible for global warming:

'Yet it has essentially done nothing to check its annual rises in output. Lobbying by the fossil fuel industry has proved highly effective at blocking political change – a point most recently demonstrated by groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute, which helped persuade President Trump to pull out of the Paris agreement, thus dashing the planet's last hope of ecological salvation.'

He cited environmentalist Bill McKibben:

'The coalition [fossil fuel lobby] used its power to slow us down precisely at the moment when we needed to speed up. As a result, the particular politics of one country for one half-century will have changed the geological history of the Earth.'

Global carbon emissions reached a new high in 2018. In other words, nothing of real significance has been achieved in thirty years of supposedly trying to cut emissions - other than making the problem very much worse – and we now only have a decade to completely turn things around. The blocking effects by powerful industry lobbies and corporate-captured political 'leaders', hugely underreported by the corporate media, are a disaster for the human race. Stefan Rahmstorf, a senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, highlighted a new analysis of carbon emissions by the Carbon Research Project and said:

'See how easily we could have solved the climate crisis if we had started in 2000! Only 4% reduction per year. Now we need 18% per year. You can thank climate deniers, lobby groups and cowardly politicians for this delay.'

Kevin Anderson of the UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Research concurred:

'Spot on by [Rahmstorf]. The academic community also take some responsibility for all too often remaining quiet about completely irresponsible decisions. Just listen to the roar of complicit silence over the UK's shale gas plans, the new oil platform, airport & road expansion'.

Renowned climate scientist Michael Mann declared:

'We've got a LOT of work to do folks. After flat-lining for 3 years, CO2 emissions have now ticked up two years straight. This is no time for climate change denying/delaying politicians. We must vote them out & elect in their place politicians who will LEAD on climate.'

He added:

'It is no longer enough for politicians to just say the right things about climate change. They must demonstrate a commitment to meaningful actions & specific policies aimed at rapid reductions in carbon emissions. We are now officially starting to run out of time...'

Julia Steinberger, Associate Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds, put the scale of the challenge succinctly:

'If people had ANY idea of the harm and loss that is coming our way with #ClimateBreakdown, they would stop driving, flying, eating meat, overheating and overconsuming pretty much instantly, and work tirelessly to build new low carbon societies.'

Instead, powerful industry lobbies are working tirelessly to block the radical action that is required.

A new Met Office study shows that the UK summer heatwave this year was made thirty times more likely by the human impact on climate. Met Office scientist Peter Stott issued a deadly warning:

'Humanity just won't be able to cope with the world we are heading for.'

Last year, Arctic News editor Sam Carana pointed out the dangers of methane, a highly potent global warming gas:

'As the temperature of the Arctic Ocean keeps rising, it seems inevitable that more and more methane will rise from its seafloor and enter the atmosphere, at first strongly warming up the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean itself – thus causing further methane eruptions – and eventually warming up the atmosphere across the globe.'

A giant 'burp' of methane gas could happen suddenly and increase global temperatures rapidly. If this sounds like a scare story, Harold Wanless, Professor of Geology and a specialist in sea level rise at the University of Miami, puts it in perspective:

'Scientists tend to be pretty conservative. We don't like to scare people, and we don't like to step out of our little predictable boxes. But I suspect the situation is going to spin out of hand pretty quickly. If you look at the history of warming periods, things can move pretty fast, and when that happens that's when you get extinction events.

'I would not discount the possibility that it could happen in the next ten years.'

In summary, scientists are calling for immediate large cuts in carbon emissions. Given the normally conservative pronouncements by overly cautious experts, such warnings should stop us all in our tracks. Climate scientists are virtually screaming at those running our political and economic systems to make drastic changes now.

However, at the start of a new UN climate conference in Poland, the follow-up to the 2015 Paris summit, a BBC News article observed starkly:

'the gap between what countries say they are doing and what needs to be done has never been wider.'

In other words, the dangers of rapid and cataclysmic global warming are now so glaring that some degree of urgency is being communicated occasionally, very occasionally, from within the corporate media. It would hurt establishment media credibility too much in the eyes of the public were that otherwise.

Safe 'national treasure' David Attenborough has become more outspoken of late. He addressed the UN conference:

'We're facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.'

He told the BBC:

'All over the world there are people who are suffering as a consequence [of climate change] whose voices have not been heard.'

Last week, the Daily Mirror went as far as putting Attenborough's warning on its front page:

'Time Is Running Out To Save Planet'

But the daily diet of 'news' pumped out by the major news media is still a massive distraction from the huge widespread changes in society, politics and the economy that are needed immediately. Why is the climate crisis not a vital component, perhaps even the primary component, of news reporting on the economy, business, commerce, politics, and Parliament? Why is it usually restricted to science and environment 'stories'? For instance, how often does the BBC's business editor, Simon Jack, address the climate crisis in his reports? Never, if our occasional sampling is indicative. Nor does he ever respond to our polite challenges to do so. The same applied to the recently departed BBC economics editor, Kamal Ahmed. This is a gross dereliction of duty by the BBC to the public who pays for it.

Are we supposed to obsess over slight changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, the FTSE 100 index, and the size of the UK economy, even while the planet's natural resources are plundered, ecosystems collapse, and the mass loss of species accelerates? Why are these much latter, more crucial numbers and facts about the state of the planet not routinely cited in corporate media reporting on the state of business and the economy? Perhaps we are supposed to regard the number of rivets on the Titanic a reliable measure of the ship's robustness, even as it plummets beneath the waves.

Just consider the US news media reporting on the appalling forest wildfires in California last month. Although scientists have stated clearly that climate change is a significant factor in these catastrophic wildfires, national US television networks made the link with climate in less than four per cent of their reports on the calamity. We are not aware of any similar study of UK television coverage. But it was certainly apparent that BBC News at Ten made very little mention of the links between global warming and the Californian wildfires, just as climate was glaringly absent from its coverage of this summer's drought in the UK.

It is true that the burgeoning grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion, and the remarkable 15-year-old Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, are not entirely absent from news coverage. But, given the stakes, their activism and their urgent messages to society as a whole would be making headlines every day in a sane media system. Extinction Rebellion are calling for peaceful mass civil disobedience to demand:

'an immediate reversal of climate-toxic policies, net-zero emissions by 2025 and the establishment of a citizen's assembly to oversee the radical changes necessary to halt global warming.'

During one recent climate protest that blocked five major bridges in central London, one protester said:

'We have tried marching, and lobbying, and signing petitions. Nothing has brought about the change that is needed.'

Extinction Rebellion issued a stark warning:

'Our aims may be ambitious. But we are striving for nothing less than the fate of our planet.'

The inspiring clip that goes along with these words depicts suffragettes, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and many others pushing for positive changes in the world. Thunberg has explained in very simple and powerful terms how and why she became so motivated to do something about climate change. It happened in school at the age of nine:

'They [teachers] were always talking about how we should turn off lights, save water, not throw out food. I asked why and they explained about climate change. And I thought this was very strange. If humans could really change the climate, everyone would be talking about it and people wouldn't be talking about anything else. But this wasn't happening.'

Now, at 15, her commitment to go on school strike to devote herself to climate activism is an inspiration to many around the world, including the Extinction Rebellion movement. She has a succinct riposte to those who accuse her of neglecting her education:

'Some say I should be in school. But why should any young person be made to study for a future when no one is doing enough to save that future? What is the point of learning facts when the most important facts given by the finest scientists are ignored by our politicians?'

The time has passed for the public to rely on political leaders taking the right steps to tackle the climate crisis. As Thunberg said in her speech to the UN climate conference:

'So we have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not.'

As ever, it is up to each one of us to ensure that this change happens.