Gabriel Boric and Jose Antonio Kast

Can The Left Really Win In Chile?

The recent first round election in Chile has left the country with a stark choice – a far-right candidate who admires the legacy of Pinochet or a left-wing reformer pledging to tackle social inequality. Nearly 50 years after Allende – can the left really win power in Chile?

By Melany Cruz, Tribune

The first round of the Chilean Presidential elections on 21 November was surprising. In short, the traditional centre-left coalition, Nuevo Pacto Social, and the traditional right-wing coalition of incumbent president Sebastian Piñera, Chile Podemos, did not make it to the second round of the vote. Instead, it was the left coalition, Apruebo Dignidad, and the far-right coalition, Frente Social Cristiano, which passed to the second round, for which the vote will take place on December 19.

In the Chilean electoral system, to be elected President, a candidate needs to reach 50%+ of the votes. Due the plurality of political parties and the several candidates running for the position, none of them can get enough votes to win in the first round, leading commonly to a second round between the two top candidates—in this case, between far-right candidate Jose Antonio Kast and progressive 35-year old MP Gabriel Boric.

Gabriel Boric and Jose Antonio Kast
Credit: fotografoencampana

The results may not come as a shock to many who are aware of the larger context of political polarisation in the world, especially with the rise of far-right politics in Europe. However, there are important factors to observe in Chile, especially after the social uprising of 2019. How did the far-right candidate, an open supporter of dictator Augusto Pinochet, become the leading majority (27.91%) in this first round? Gabriel Boric, who is also a former leader of the 2011 student movement, finished in second place (25.83%), despite polls placing him as the frontrunner in the months before the election.

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Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish

Israeli Court To Bereaved Doctor Who Lost 3 Daughters: Sucks To Be You

Israeli court to bereaved doctor who lost three daughters and a niece to Israeli bombs: “there is no recourse or remedy.” They rejected his demands for compensation. Israel always demands justice from Palestinians, but can’t offer it to them.

By Middle East Monitor

A Palestinian doctor, on Wednesday, lost his last Israeli court appeal for compensation over the killing of his three daughters and a niece in shelling by Israel during 2009 fighting in Gaza and said he may seek justice in an international forum instead, Reuters reports.

Upholding a lower court’s rejection of Izzeldin Abuelaish’s claim, the Supreme Court deemed the lethal incident an “act of war”. The military has said its troops fired after thinking they had seen Hamas fighters on the upper level of the doctor’s home.

“Our hearts go out to the appellant … but within the bounds of the proceedings before us, there is no recourse or remedy,” the three-justice panel said in its ruling.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
Credit: ippnw Deutschland https://www.flickr.com/photos/ippnw/6260865200

Abuelaish, a Hebrew-speaking gynecologist who has worked in Israeli hospitals and now lives in Canada, had sought an apology and compensation over the deaths of his daughters Mayar, 15, Ayah, 13, and Bessan, 21, and niece Nour, 14.

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iran chained behind sanctions

Sanctions Are War By Other Means; The U.S., Iran, & JCPOA

When it comes to Iran, sanctions are war by other means. Time to stand up to American imperial bullying.

By Hanieh Jodat, RootsAction

For decades the U.S. has used sanctions as a weapon of war and starvation, aimed at other countries — mostly those with resources such as oil. The through line is that if a country won’t allow America and its allies to control resources and submit, those countries end up as targets for economic, diplomatic, and military action. While military intervention and covert action are never off the table, economic sanctions allow the U.S. to force other leaders into submission by impoverishing their people. What looks on the pages of the New York Times like a genteel, diplomatic effort to resolve a thorny situation is usually much simpler: the most powerful country on the planet using hunger, unemployment and illness to foment regime change against any rival.

How does it work? Sanctions prevent access to international credit, disrupting the normal operation of trade relations. Fancy words for depriving food and medicine from the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses.

iran chained behind sanctions

Iran is home to an ancient and proud civilization. Since its revolution in 1979, the U.S. has engaged in constant efforts to undermine, destabilize, and threaten its regime. In other words, since long before nuclear weapons had anything to do with anything.

Despite this history, Iran and the U.S. were able to come to an agreement that took nuclear weapons off the table in Iran in exchange for the lifting of (some, not all) sanctions and the resumption of (closer to) normal trade relations with the world. Trump unilaterally abandoned this agreement in 2018 and re-imposed a brutal sanctions regime. Today, there are over 1500 primary and secondary sanctions on a country of 83 million people, half under the age of 35.

Sanctions have reduced Iran’s access to equipment needed for energy production, prompting many foreign oil companies to leave Iran. Hospitals cannot access necessities ranging from critical drugs for epilepsy patients to chemotherapy medications for cancer. All of this was true before the pandemic, which made things even worse for regular people. Food prices are up 60%. Those who rely on work to make a living, and the poor, are the ones most impacted.

Sanctions Around The World

The U.S. has not been shy about enacting sanctions to challenge countries embracing socialism or pursuing the nationalization of key industries. For sixty years the U.S. has imposed an embargo on goods to and from Cuba. Since 2017, the U.S. has frozen all Venezuelan government assets, withholding over $5 billion dollars of Venezuela’s own money.

Congress has done little to advocate for U.S. compliance with its treaty obligations. There is seemingly no political will to urge the Biden administration to carve out meaningful exemptions for humanitarian aid, or to allow the flow of  medicine, food, and equipment for essential infrastructure — the kind that treats water and sustains a country’s healthcare system. Americans don’t ask out loud how many children must die so we can impose our will on others. The affected countries think about it all the time.

When will members of Congress call for mandatory public assessments of all current and future sanctions to best determine their impact on the lives of innocent people and on the economic stability of targeted countries? In the face of the imperial presidency, Congress has all but abdicated its constitutional authority to declare war. Because that’s what is happening in Iran and elsewhere: a U.S. led war against enemy populations, most of whom are innocent by any measure.

We hope you will consider attending our teach-in, to understand what is happening right now – and what we can all do.


Thanksgiving myth

Today Is Not Thanksgiving. It's Our National Day Of Mourning.

The National Day of Mourning was founded in 1970 by Wamsutta Frank James, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).

By Kisha James, The Lily

On Thursday, millions of families across the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving without giving much thought to the truth behind the heavily mythologized and sanitized story taught in schools and promulgated by institutions. According to this myth, 400 years ago, the Pilgrims were warmly welcomed by the “Indians,” and the two groups came together in friendship to break bread.

The “Indians” taught the Pilgrims how to live in the “New World,” setting the stage for the eventual establishment of a great land of liberty and opportunity.

Romanticization of war
Credit: r2hox

In the usual narrative, no further mention is made of the Native people, as if they all faded away. By sanitizing the English invasion of Wampanoag homelands, the Thanksgiving myth blatantly disregards the true history of the Pilgrims’ arrival in America and the centuries of violence and oppression that Indigenous peoples have endured as a result of the colonization of the Americas.

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Romanticization of war

The Way We Glorify 'Good' Wars Is Killing Us

Has the American myth of the Good War helped ensnare us in bad ones?

By Carlos Lozada, The New Yorker

The terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001, supposedly launched a new kind of American war, with unfamiliar foes, unlikely alliances, and unthinkable tactics. But the language deployed to interpret this conflict was decidedly old-school, the comfort food of martial rhetoric. With the Axis of Evil, the menace of Fascism (remixed as “Islamofascism”), and the Pearl Harbor references, the Second World War hovered over what would become known as the global war on terror, infusing it with righteousness.

This latest war, President George W. Bush said, would have a scope and a stature evoking the American response to that other attack on the U.S. “one Sunday in 1941.” It wouldn’t be like Desert Storm, a conflict tightly bounded in time and space; instead, it was a call to global engagement and even to national greatness. “This generation will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future,” Bush avowed.

Romanticization of war
Credit: r2hox

Elizabeth D. Samet finds such familiarity endlessly familiar. “Every American exercise of military force since World War II, at least in the eyes of its architects, has inherited that war’s moral justification and been understood as its offspring: motivated by its memory, prosecuted in its shadow, inevitably measured against it,” she writes in “Looking for the Good War: American Amnesia and the Violent Pursuit of Happiness” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

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US forests

Environmental Preservation At Will Of The Billionaires Who Own The Land

Most of the places that should be protected do not belong to federal lands. More than half of the country’s forests are privately owned

By Jordan G. Teicher, TheBaffler

When the billionaire John Malone became the country’s largest private landowner in 2011 with the purchase of nearly a million acres of forest in Maine and New Hampshire, it sparked a great deal of curiosity in the press. Why, reporters wanted to know, did a then-seventy-year-old media tycoon want to own 2.2 million acres of land—an area roughly half the size of Lake Ontario?

Malone has offered a variety of mundane reasons over the years, including his Irish heritage, his wife’s horseback riding hobby, and the joy he takes in being “out in the open.” The most creative among them, though, came during a CNBC interview, when he described his decades-long land binge as a kind of affliction, a “virus” passed on to him by his friend, CNN founder Ted Turner—a fellow billionaire who, after Malone’s 2011 purchase, became merely the second-largest land baron in the country.

If a lust for land among the billionaire class is a virus, it has become something of an epidemic recently. In 2007, the nation’s hundred largest private landowning families owned a combined 27 million acres of land—an area, as the Washington Post reported, the size of Maine and New Hampshire combined. By 2017, they’d increased their haul by nearly 50 percent to encompass an area equivalent to all of New England minus Vermont. In the pages of The Land Report—a magazine that covers land ownership—wealthy readers can browse new potential additions to their territory: a mountain range for $60 million, a collection of watersheds and creeks for $68 million, a “combination of landscapes” for $96 million.

US forests
Photo by U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region

If a lust for land among the billionaire class is a virus, it has become something of an epidemic recently. In 2007, the nation’s hundred largest private landowning families owned a combined 27 million acres of land—an area, as the Washington Post reported, the size of Maine and New Hampshire combined. By 2017, they’d increased their haul by nearly 50 percent to encompass an area equivalent to all of New England minus Vermont. In the pages of The Land Report—a magazine that covers land ownership—wealthy readers can browse new potential additions to their territory: a mountain range for $60 million, a collection of watersheds and creeks for $68 million, a “combination of landscapes” for $96 million.

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Noncitizens to vote in local elections

New York City Expands Voting Rights — And Democracy

New York City will become the largest municipality in the country to allow legal residents to vote if the legislation is approved as expected in December.

By Jeffery C. Mays and Annie Correal, The New York Times

New York City lawmakers are poised to allow more than 800,000 New Yorkers who are green card holders or have the legal right to work in the United States to vote in municipal elections and for local ballot initiatives.

The bill, known as “Our City, Our Vote,” would make New York City the largest municipality in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

The legislation, expected to be approved by the City Council on Dec. 9 by a veto-proof margin, comes as the country is dealing with a swath of new laws to impose voter restrictions, as well as the economic and demographic effects of a decline in immigration.

Voters in Alabama, Colorado and Florida passed ballot measures last year specifying that only U.S. citizens could vote. The states joined Arizona and North Dakota in specifying that noncitizens could not vote in state and local elections.

“It’s important for the Democratic Party to look at New York City and see that when voting rights are being attacked, we are expanding voter participation,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, a councilman who sponsored the bill and represents Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan.

The legislation, first introduced almost two years ago, is the culmination of more than a decade of work to gain local voting rights for some legal permanent residents. It also extends the right to those with work authorization, such as the so-called dreamers, recipients of a program known as DACA that shields young immigrants brought into the country illegally from deportation and allows them to live and work here.

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Tax the Rich

Trump's Tax Giveaway To The Rich Is Bigger Than You Thought

Measures of the Trump administration generated a massive tax relief that has favored the ultra-rich and less revenue for social reinvestment

By Mary Papenfuss, HuffPost

As Republicans bellyache about Democrats not balancing the budget, a new report reveals that a massive Trump administration estate tax giveaway that particularly served the ultra-rich sparked a 50% plunge in IRS revenue from the taxes.

Estate tax payments dropped from $20 billion to just over $9 billion last year, Bloomberg reported, based on its analysis of IRS data.

American billionaires, meanwhile, have doubled their collective net worth to more than $5 trillion in just over five years.

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Technology is fueling systemic racism

Rapid Change And Insecurity Are Driving Political Chaos

Rapid social change, political and economic instability, and the rise of new ways of communicating are having a profound impact on our country. We’re just beginning to sort it out.

By Micah L. Sifry, TheConnector

Last night, my hometown of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, held an online town forum on cannabis. New York State recently passed the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act, legalizing the adult-use market for weed. Under one of its provisions, all the towns in the state have until December 31st to decide whether to opt in to allow cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges to apply for licenses to operate, or to opt-out. I tuned in for an hour to listen. Perhaps one-third of the residents who spoke were in favor of opting in, while the remainder either were passionately opposed or wanted to wait and see. (If a town opts out now, it can opt in at some later date.)

For the most part, the online forum was civil, though one speaker accused a town resident who is a lawyer specializing in the nascent cannabis industry, who the town trustees had earlier tapped for advice, of being no better than a tobacco industry lawyer. The people in favor of opting in had lots of evidence supporting their position: Cannabis has therapeutic value; making weed legal for adults doesn’t increase its use among minors; retail sales of cannabis doesn’t lead to increased crime rates or drops in property values. And, to help right the historical wrongs intensified by the War on Drugs, half the dispensary licenses that will be issued in New York State are being reserved for people of color and other communities disproportionately hurt by that war, and women.

The opponents had their own studies to cite, and unlike proponents, they are organized as a civic group called Hastings Opt Out. A model letter to the town trustees that they’ve written argues that the rates of pot and alcohol use in our town are much higher than the national average, and claims that proximity to dispensaries would lead to more use. That in turn, they say, will lead to increased levels of depression, psychosis, suicidal ideation, lower cognitive functioning and lack of motivation. They also argue that since the law is so new, we don’t know enough about how pot sales in the state would be regulated. The letter warns, darkly, that however that plays out, such regulation would “not be within local control.” [Emphasis in the original.] Adding dispensaries to our town, they write, “is not social justice…it is commercialization” and it will “permanently change[] the nature of our Village downtown.” Somewhat apocalyptic language for such a small issue, if you ask me.

What is particularly telling to me about the local revolt against legal cannabis is what people here aren’t upset about. In just the last few years, a very greedy corporation has penetrated our town, selling a product that makes people more anxious and fearful. No exact numbers on its use are available, but I’m willing to bet that at least a quarter of my neighbors are hooked on it. I’m talking about Amazon’s Ring video doorbell and its Orwellian-named Neighbors app, which drives attention to local incidents of petty crime and “unexpected activity” (see image below). Because it comes from Amazon, we have no local control over the weaponization of the information Ring/Neighbors produces, and its spread is absolutely changing the nature of neighborhoods. But its prevalence is not an issue, even though we have lots of evidence that these home surveillance networks reinforce white fears and prejudice against people of color and the poor.

 

Now, a little context. Hastings-on-Hudson is a town of about 8,500 people. In 2020, Westchester County voted 67-31% for Joe Biden; here in Hastings the least blue precinct voted 70-29% for him. Most of the other precincts in town were in the 80 to 90% range for Biden. The town is mostly white and affluent; three-quarters have a college degree and many work in the creative arts. Just one percent are below the poverty level. The crime rate is almost non-existent. You might think that all these conditions would lead to more openness to change, but even in this very secure little village just north of New York City, people want the status quo.

Is this just NIMBYism? I don’t think so. In 1955, when William F. Buckley launched the conservative magazine National Review, he decried the “radical social experimentation” being embraced by “literate America” that had overrun elite campuses and was now “running things.” He claimed that the federal government, which was then just inching towards dismantling formal race segregation, was imposing a new utopian social order and exceeding its sole mandate to protect life, liberty and property. His new magazine, he wrote, “…stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so.”

I do not think the liberals of my town are anything like the conservatives that clustered around Buckley’s flag. But I think the underlying impulse, to yell Stop, to slow down needed change, is the same, and those of us who want more change need to listen carefully. Years ago, when I was reporting on Ross Perot’s third-party movement, I spent some time in the Twin Cities area, trying to understand how Jesse Ventura, a professional wrestler-turned-talk radio host, had managed to win an upset victory in a three-way race for governor against two conventional major party candidates. I was particularly curious how he had gotten more than 50% of the vote in the counties north and west of the Twin Cities, especially vote-rich Anoka County. Part of the answer was cultural. People in that county were somewhat more working class, more inclined to drink beer than wine, local politicos told me. Ventura had racked up votes barnstorming the area’s big sports bars the weekend before the election. He just connected with them at a visceral level.

But political demographer Myron Orfield, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, had an additional explanation. When the rate of growth in a county gets too fast, he told me, more people start voting no. Something about the speed of destabilization that comes with rapid population growth—the increased traffic, the new faces on the street, the expanded demand on local schools—all of that together tends to boil over in opposition to more change. And one place where people often vent that anxiety most easily is local politics like school board elections, or town budget votes. Usually, the out-party batters the in-party; Ventura’s victory was a rare example where a viable third-party candidate, helped by the state’s relatively generous campaign finance laws, media that included him in major TV debates, and same-day voter registration, could turn that desire to vote against both in-parties into a win.

Now, we’re not in a period of rapid population growth in my little town. School enrollment is up somewhat, but that’s not what is making people anxious. Despite, or perhaps because of, the security of this suburban bubble, people seem much more unsettled about the present and the future. Things haven’t “returned to normal” by any measure: this morning I drove past the big commuter parking lot next to the Metro-North train station by the Hudson River and after years of it being impossible to find a spot there, it was only half full. This isn’t a “new normal,” either.

We live in a time of rapid and discontinuous change, but none of our “authoritative” institutions are designed to help us thrive during such periods. Families, schools, religious institutions, businesses, and government are all built around an assumption that tomorrow will be more or less like today. It’s a very shaky assumption. Since 2000, we have experienced at least nine cataclysmic events, or near-catastrophes: the Bush-Gore election standoff, the 9-11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2008 global financial meltdown, the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis of 2011 when the US almost defaulted, the 2016 Trump election, the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 George Floyd uprising, and the January 6th insurrection. At an only slightly less jarring scale are the wave of gigantic climate events that have hit the US in recent years, from various hurricanes devastating Houston, New Orleans and Puerto Rico to the massive fires out West and the heat wave in the northwest and the Texas cold snap of last spring.

The Internet has sped up both the pace of change and our perception of that pace. It’s become easier to build in-groups around a commonly shared belief, making mass protest movements like the Women’s March and the Black Lives Matter scale much more quickly. The same is true for the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain mob and today’s backlash against public schools for trying to educate kids in more inclusive ways. And not only do movements grow faster, small grievances and outrages get amplified far more quickly. In-groups also get stronger in part by targeting outsiders, and we most definitely should credit Facebook and the other major social media platforms for making life meaner since they became ubiquitous.

It is both true that change is coming at us faster, and it feels more true even when our own bucolic bubble may be insulated from the biggest shock waves. This is why I’m a broken record on the need to add more friction to digital life and to foster more local community spaces where diverse individuals can discover what they may have in common and learn how to navigate difference more fluidly. When people are fearful, they gravitate towards strongmen to protect them. Those of us who want to foster more change need to figure out how to defuse that tendency, not feed it. If a safe suburb like mine can’t take a chance on the more compassionate, less punitive version of the future represented by legal, adult consumption of cannabis, imagine how much more the resistance to change from people in less prosperous communities who imagine that teaching their kids about America’s full history will damage their self-esteem. If we’re going to make it through the 2020s successfully—a truly big “if”—it will only be by strengthening our ability to listen to each other and build trust that can reduce fear.


progressive news roundup

Progressive News Roundup: Massive War Budget, 2022, Pipelines, More

Progressive Hub Roundup

One of our principal reasons for doing this work is the shared understanding that war is a racket, the Pentagon is a bloated corporate welfare machine, and the U.S. government needs to stop meddling in other countries’ affairs. While the more-bloated-than-ever military budget is likely to pass, Senator Bernie Sanders bravely stood up to denounce it and make clear he would vote no.

Other stories worth reading, watching and sharing are about Nicaragua’s recent elections, how marijuana legalization can save the Democrats, the business of union busting, and more. Our business is amplifying the perspectives that Americans need to hear. Thank you for your time — and for taking action in addition to sharing those stories.

Best Union-Busting Inoculation Video EVER — Thank You John Oliver

October saw the largest number of workers on strike in years, and 2021 has seen a dramatic rise in coverage of unionization efforts. John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, took aim at the efforts to keep unions out.

To Help Democrats Survive 2022, Biden Should Legalize Marijuana Right Now

In states where recreational marijuana is legal, things are going well. Tax revenue has surpassed expectations in many places, opioid deaths are down, and teenagers are actually using marijuana less. With strong evidence in hand that full legalization works, Biden has everything he needs to make the political case for legalizing marijuana federally.

Veterans Day Is For Ending War

In many parts of the world, principally but not exclusively in British Commonwealth nations, this day is called Remembrance Day; it should be a day of mourning the dead and working to abolish war so as not to create any more war dead. But the day has been militarized, and a toxic alchemy cooked up by the weapons companies is using the day to tell people that unless they support killing more men, women and children in war they will dishonor those already killed.

Enbridge To Construct Next Pipeline As Biden, Leaders Do Little At COP26

The Line 3 tar sands pipeline is already an unconscionable expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure at a time when the science is clear: we need to reverse the carbon economy’s growth before it’s too late. Line 3 will result in more carbon emissions than the entire state of Minnesota currently produces, roughly equivalent to building 50 new coal-fired power plants.

Bernie Sanders Votes Against $778 Billion Pentagon War Budget

Bernie Sanders said he would vote against the legislation because it enriches the military-industrial complex at the expense of desperately needed social programs and climate action. “Many of my colleagues tell the American people, day after day, how deeply concerned they are about the deficit and the national debt.”

Report: “Breathtaking Cover-up” Of U.S. Airstrike That Killed Syrian Civilians

This New York Times report on the cover-up of U.S. war crimes in Syria should make your blood boil. The U.S. wantonly kills civilians, covers it up, and then tells other countries how “democracy” works.

Nicaragua: Chronicle Of An Election Foretold

The vote was carried out in a climate of fear and intimidation, with a total absence of safeguards against fraud, and several potential candidates in jail. Amid a breakdown of the rule of law, Daniel Ortega carried out a wave of repression since May.

Kyle Rittenhouse Is Part Of America’s Long Embrace Of Vigilantism

Even though the data show that 93 percent of Black Lives Matter marches are peaceful, the defense in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial this week is hoping to capitalize on white panic to pretend that shooting three people, killing two who were unarmed, was self-defense

How Buffalo News Helped Keep Socialist India Walton Out Of City Hall

The current mayor, Byron Brown, had the key support of the hometown daily paper, the Buffalo News. In its editorial endorsement of Brown in the general election, the paper propped up Brown’s power of incumbency against Democratic nominee India Walton, whom the paper called “dangerously unqualified” and “an inexperienced and unqualified leader who is sometimes driven by grievances.” In other words, the powerful corporate media outlet supported the corporate candidate against a genuine grassroots progressive


We don’t always reply to your suggestions for stories to cover, but we pay close attention to all of them, slowly building our list of excellent sources. Shout out in particular to the smaller ones you won’t often see flash by on social media. Keep those suggestions coming, and remember that the media landscape won’t change on its own — it needs your involvement.

Feedback always welcome.