Irpin, Bucha, Dmitrivka. Atrocities of the russian army in the suburbs of Kyiv. Irpin. Houses of civilians destroyed by russian tanks. russia's war against Ukraine.

Chris Hedges On Ukraine: The War That Went Wrong

NATO support for the war in Ukraine, designed to degrade the Russian military and drive Vladimir Putin from power, is not going according to plan. The new sophisticated military hardware won’t help.

by Chris Hedges, ScheerPost

Empires in terminal decline leap from one military fiasco to the next. The war in Ukraine, another bungled attempt to reassert U.S. global hegemony, fits this pattern. The danger is that the more dire things look, the more the U.S. will escalate the conflict, potentially provoking open confrontation with Russia. If Russia carries out retaliatory attacks on supply and training bases in neighboring NATO countries, or uses tactical nuclear weapons, NATO will almost certainly respond by attacking Russian forces. We will have ignited World War III, which could result in a nuclear holocaust.

Irpin, Bucha, Dmitrivka. Atrocities of the russian army in the suburbs of Kyiv. Irpin. Houses of civilians destroyed by russian tanks. russia's war against Ukraine.

U.S. military support for Ukraine began with the basics — ammunition and assault weapons. The Biden administration, however, soon crossed several self-imposed red lines to provide a tidal wave of lethal war machinery: Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Javelin anti-armor systems; M777 towed Howitzers; 122mm GRAD rockets; M142 multiple rocket launchers, or HIMARS; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles; Patriot air defense batteries; National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; and now 31 M1 Abrams, as part of a new $400 million package. These tanks will be supplemented by 14 German Leopard 2A6 tanks, 14 British Challenger 2 tanks, as well as tanks from other NATO members, including Poland. Next on the list are armor-piercing depleted uranium (DU) ammunition and F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.

Since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022, Congress has approved more than $113 billion in aid to Ukraine and allied nations supporting the war in Ukraine. Three-fifths of this aid, $67 billion, has been allocated for military expenditures. There are 28 countries transferring weapons to Ukraine. All of them, with the exception of Australia, Canada and the U.S., are in Europe.

The rapid upgrade of sophisticated military hardware and aid provided to Ukraine is not a good sign for the NATO alliance. It takes many months, if not years, of training to operate and coordinate these weapons systems. Tank battles — I was in the last major tank battle outside Kuwait City during the first Gulf war as a reporter — are highly choreographed and complex operations. Armor must work in close concert with air power, warships, infantry and artillery batteries. It will be many, many months, if not years, before Ukrainian forces receive adequate training to operate this equipment and coordinate the diverse components of a modern battlefield. Indeed, the U.S. never succeeded in training the Iraqi and Afghan armies in combined arms maneuver warfare, despite two decades of occupation.

I was with Marine Corps units in February 1991 that pushed Iraqi forces out of the Saudi Arabian town of Khafji. Supplied with superior military equipment, the Saudi soldiers that held Khafji offered ineffectual resistance. As we entered the city, we saw Saudi troops in commandeered fire trucks, hightailing it south to escape the fighting. All the fancy military hardware, which the Saudis had purchased from the U.S., proved worthless because they did not know how to use it.

NATO military commanders understand that the infusion of these weapons systems into the war will not alter what is, at best, a stalemate, defined largely by artillery duels over hundreds of miles of front lines. The purchase of these weapons systems — one M1 Abrams tank costs $10 million when training and sustainment are included — increases the profits of the arms manufacturers. The use of these weapons in Ukraine allows them to be tested in battlefield conditions, making the war a laboratory for weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin. All this is useful to NATO and to the arms industry. But it is not very useful to Ukraine.

The other problem with advanced weapons systems such as the M1 Abrams, which have 1,500-horsepower turbine engines that run on jet fuel, is that they are temperamental and require highly skilled and near constant maintenance. They are not forgiving to those operating them who make mistakes; indeed, mistakes can be lethal. The most optimistic scenario for deploying M1-Abrams tanks in Ukraine is six to eight months, more likely longer. If Russia launches a major offensive in the spring, as expected, the M1 Abrams will not be part of the Ukrainian arsenal. Even when they do arrive, they will not significantly alter the balance of power, especially if the Russians are able to turn the tanks, manned by inexperienced crews, into charred hulks.

So why all this infusion of high-tech weaponry? We can sum it up in one word: panic.

Having declared a de facto war on Russia and openly calling for the removal of Vladimir Putin, the neoconservative pimps of war watch with dread as Ukraine is being pummeled by a relentless Russian war of attrition. Ukraine has suffered nearly 18,000 civilian casualties (6,919 killed and 11,075 injured). It has also seen  around 8 percent of its total housing destroyed or damaged and 50 percent of its energy infrastructure directly impacted with frequent power cuts. Ukraine requires at least $3 billion a month in outside support to keep its economy afloat, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director recently said. Nearly 14 million Ukrainians have been displaced — 8 million in Europe and 6 million internally — and up to 18 million people, or 40 percent of Ukraine’s population, will soon require humanitarian assistance. Ukraine’s economy contracted by 35 percent in 2022, and 60 percent of Ukrainians are now poised to live on less than $5.5 a day, according to World Bank estimates. Nine million Ukrainians are without electricity and water in sub-zero temperatures, the Ukrainian president says. According to estimates from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 100,000 Ukrainian and 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war as of last November.

“My feeling is we are at a crucial moment in the conflict when the momentum could shift in favor of Russia if we don’t act decisively and quickly,” former U.S. Senator Rob Portman was quoted as saying at the World Economic Forum in a post by The Atlantic Council. “A surge is needed.”

Turning logic on its head, the shills for war argue that “the greatest nuclear threat we face is a Russian victory.” The cavalier attitude to a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia by the cheerleaders for the war in Ukraine is very, very frightening, especially given the fiascos they oversaw for twenty years in the Middle East.

The near hysterical calls to support Ukraine as a bulwark of liberty and democracy by the mandarins in Washington are a response to the palpable rot and decline of the U.S. empire. America’s global authority has been decimated by well-publicized war crimes, torture, economic decline, social disintegration — including the assault on the capital on January 6, the botched response to the pandemic, declining life expectancies and the plague of mass shootings — and a series of military debacles from Vietnam to Afghanistan. The coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars and military interventions carried out by the United States around the globe since the end of World War II have never resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. Instead, these interventions have led to over 20 million killed and spawned a global revulsion for U.S. imperialism.

In desperation, the empire pumps ever greater sums into its war machine. The most recent $1.7 trillion spending bill included $847 billion for the military;  the total is boosted to $858 billion when factoring in accounts that don’t fall under the Armed Services committees’ jurisdiction, such as the Department of Energy, which oversees nuclear weapons maintenance and the infrastructure that develops them. In 2021, when the U.S. had a military budget of $801 billion, it constituted nearly 40 percent of all global military expenditures, more than the next nine countries, including Russia and China, spent on their militaries combined.

As Edward Gibbon observed about the Roman Empire’s own fatal lust for endless war: “[T]he decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted for so long.”

A state of permanent war creates complex bureaucracies, sustained by compliant politicians, journalists, scientists, technocrats and academics, who obsequiously serve the war machine. This militarism needs mortal enemies — the latest are Russia and China — even when those demonized have no intention or capability, as was the case with Iraq, of harming the U.S. We are hostage to these incestuous institutional structures.

Earlier this month, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, for example, appointed eight commissioners to review Biden’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) to “examine the assumptions, objectives, defense investments, force posture and structure, operational concepts, and military risks of the NDS.” The commission, as Eli Clifton writes at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is “largely comprised of individuals with financial ties to the weapons industry and U.S. government contractors, raising questions about whether the commission will take a critical eye to contractors who receive $400 billion of the $858 billion FY2023 defense budget.” The chair of the commission, Clifton notes, is former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who “sits on the board of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications firm that was awarded a seven-year $738.5 million contract with the Department of Defense in 2019.”

Reports about Russian interference in the elections and Russia bots manipulating public opinion — which Matt Taibbi’s recent reporting on the “Twitter Files” exposes as an elaborate piece of black propaganda — was uncritically amplified by the press. It seduced Democrats and their liberal supporters into seeing Russia as a mortal enemy. The near universal support for a prolonged war with Ukraine would not be possible without this con.

America’s two ruling parties depend on campaign funds from the war industry and are pressured by weapons manufacturers in their state or districts, who employ constituents, to pass gargantuan military budgets. Politicians are acutely aware that to challenge the permanent war economy is to be attacked as unpatriotic and is usually an act of political suicide.

“The soul that is enslaved to war cries out for deliverance,” writes Simone Weil in her essay “The Iliad or the Poem of Force”, “but deliverance itself appears to it an extreme and tragic aspect, the aspect of destruction.”

Historians refer to the quixotic attempt by empires in decline to regain a lost hegemony through military adventurism as “micro-militarism.” During the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.) the Athenians invaded Sicily, losing 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat ignited a series of successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman Empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, became captive to its one military man army that, similar to the U.S. war industry, was a state within a state. Rome’s once mighty legions in the late stage of empire suffered defeat after defeat while extracting ever more resources from a crumbling and impoverished state. In the end, the elite Praetorian Guard auctioned off the emperorship to the highest bidder. The  British Empire, already decimated by the suicidal military folly of World War I, breathed its last gasp in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain withdrew in humiliation and became an appendage of the United States. A decade-long war in Afghanistan sealed the fate of a decrepit Soviet Union.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.” “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micro-military operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

The plan to reshape Europe and the global balance of power by degrading Russia is turning out to resemble the failed plan to reshape the Middle East. It is fueling a global food crisis and devastating Europe with near double-digit inflation. It is exposing the impotency, once again, of the United States, and the bankruptcy of its ruling oligarchs. As a counterweight to the United States, nations such as China, Russia, India, Brazil and Iran are severing themselves from the tyranny of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a move that will trigger economic and social catastrophe in the United States. Washington is giving Ukraine ever more sophisticated weapons systems and billions upon billions in aid in a futile bid to save Ukraine but, more importantly, to save itself.


dont let fox news take your humanity

Republicans Already Own The Media And It's About To Get Worse

Wealthy partisans aligned with the GOP are going for that Hispanic vote in a big, big way. They intend to use the same tools that have turned state after state reliably red since the 1980s: radio & TV

by Thom Hartmann, The Hartmann Report

If you’re a Democratic candidate for office in New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Colorado, New Jersey, New York or Illinois, get ready: the ceiling is about to fall in on you.

dont let fox news take your humanity

The white vote in America is split, leaning 53%-42% toward the GOP. The Black vote is reliably 83 percent Democratic. But the Hispanic vote is up for grabs: they represent the second largest and fastest growing demographic group in the country at 13.3 percent of the 2020 electorate (Blacks were 12.5 percent, whites 66.7 percent) and, as conservative Spanish-language radio proliferates, they’re shifting to the right.

If Republicans can pull just a few percent of the Hispanic vote their way, they can hold the House, retake the Senate, and seize the White House in 2024. Not to mention flipping multiple purple states red.

Now, wealthy partisans aligned with the GOP are going for that Hispanic vote in a big, big way. They intend to use the same tools that have turned state after state reliably red since the 1980s: radio and television.

Big business was consistently Republican through the 1920s, supported in large part by Father Coughlin, the nation’s first talk radio host, listened to daily by as many as a third of all Americans. But when Wall Street crashed the economy in 1929, Coughlin started supporting Democrats; FDR came into office with the election of 1932 and began hammering what he called the big business “economic royalists” with a relentless vigor.

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pills and money healthcare for profit

Americans Want Government-Run Health Care—What’s Standing In The Way?

It’s true that the number of uninsured Americans has dropped to an all-time low. But that fact obscures the failures of our patchwork, profit-driven health care system.

by Sonali Kolhatkar, Independent Media Institute

Here’s one of many indicators about how broken the United States health care system is: Guns seem to be easier and cheaper to access than treatment for the wounds they cause. A survivor of the recent mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, reportedly said to Gov. Gavin Newsom that he needed to keep his hospital stay as short as possible in order to avoid a massive medical bill. Meanwhile, the suspected perpetrator seemed to have had few obstacles in his quest to legally obtain a semi-automatic weapon to commit deadly violence.

pills and money healthcare for profit

Americans are at the whim of a bewildering patchwork of employer-based private insurance plans, individual health plans via a government-run online marketplace, or government-run health care (for those lucky enough to be eligible). The coverage and costs of plans vary dramatically so that even if one has health insurance there is rarely a guarantee that there will be no out-of-pocket costs associated with accessing care.

It’s hardly surprising then that the latest Gallup poll about health care affirms what earlier polls have said: that a majority of Americans want their government to ensure health coverage for all. In fact, nearly three-quarters of all Democrats want a government-run system.

Gallup also found that a record high number of people put off addressing health concerns because of the cost of care. Thirty-eight percent of Americans said they delayed getting treatment in 2022—that’s 12 percentage points higher than the year before. Unsurprisingly, lower-income Americans were disproportionately affected.

Women are especially impacted, with more women than men delaying treatment as per the same Gallup poll. The findings were consistent with results published by researchers at New York University’s School of Global Public Health—that women’s health care was increasingly unaffordable, compared to men’s—in a study that solely focused on people with employer-based health coverage. Imagine how out-of-reach health care is for uninsured women.

Added to that, Republican-led abortion bans have made it even harder for American women to obtain reproductive health care. On the 50th anniversary of the recently overturned Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wadeabortion providers in Massachusetts, for example, reported a steady stream of people driving to their state—one where abortion remains legal—to access care.

President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party appear to think that this grim status quo is perfectly acceptable. Democrats’ reliance on the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a bulwark against Republican opposition to any government intervention in health care seems to be resoundingly successful—on paper. In December 2022, Biden touted the fact that 11.5 million Americans, a record high number, had signed up for ACA plans during the last enrollment period. He said, “Gains like these helped us drive down the uninsured rate to eight percent earlier this year, its lowest level in history.”

His administration, rather than working to fulfill what a majority of his party’s constituents want—a government-run health care system—has continued instead to tweak the ACA by extending a period of discounted monthly premiums for private insurance plans. Such tweaks are not permanent. Neither are they a panacea for accessing adequate care. If anything, they are a façade protecting profit-based private insurance companies.

survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that although the number of insured Americans is now at an all-time high, more than 40 percent of those who bought ACA plans and nearly 30 percent of those with employer-based plans were underinsured—that is, the plans were inadequate to cover their health care needs.

By focusing solely on the number of people who had health plans as a measure of success, the White House is participating in a great coverup of the ongoing American health care tragedy.

Meanwhile, just over the horizon from Biden’s celebration of record numbers of ACA signups is the fact that millions of people currently enrolled in the Medicaid government health plan could lose access because of the end of an emergency provision that allowed for “continuous enrollment.” That provision expires at the end of March 2023. If all Americans were automatically enrolled in government-provided health care regardless of eligibility, this would not be a concern.

Right-wing sources, so terrified that too many Americans want a government-run health system, are busy shaping public opinion against it. The Pacific Research Institute’s Sally Pipes published an op-ed about how Canada’s national health system was a good reason why the U.S. should not have a similar program. Using the deadly logic of a free marketeer, she wrote, “In Canada, health care is ‘free’ at the point of service. As a result, demand for care is sky-high.”

The implication is that charging people for service would reduce the demand, just as it would for, say, an electric vehicle. In Pipes’ world, people are accessing health care just for fun, and if they were charged money for it, their ailments might resolve themselves without treatment.

The Heritage Foundation also published an attack on Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), gleefully claiming that it is “cratering,” and warning that it is a lesson for American liberals who might support a similar “single-payer” system in the United States.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published a similar warning, claiming that the NHS was “failing patients, with deadly consequences.”

It’s puzzling why the Pacific Research Institute, Heritage Foundation, and Wall Street Journal appear unconcerned about the 330,000 Americans who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic simply because they don’t live in a nation with a universal health care program.

The U.S. spends nearly twice as much per capita on health care than other comparable high-income nations. According to Health Affairs, excessive administrative costs are the main reason for this discrepancy—these are nonmedical costs associated with delivering health care in a patchwork system of employer-based private health and publicly subsidized plans. In fact, “administrative spending accounts for 15–30 percent of health care spending.”

Again, right-wing media outlets and think tanks appear unconcerned by this disturbing fact. They only want to convince Americans that a government-run health plan is a bad idea. And, sadly, the Democratic Party leaders like Biden seem to agree implicitly.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers together with Healthy California Now created an online calculator for individuals to determine how much money they would save if the U.S. had a single-payer system.

I have an employer-based health care plan that is considered very good. Using the calculator, I determined that I would save more than $16,000 if California, the state where I live, had a single-payer system. That’s money I could be saving for my children’s higher education or for my retirement.

The victims of mass shootings, like the Half Moon Bay survivor, are saddled with high costs of care on top of the trauma of having been shot. Every year, there are more than 80,000 survivors of injuries from firearms in the United States. Having a single-payer health care system would not fix our epidemic of gun violence. But it would certainly make it easier to bear.

Canada and Britain’s state-run systems of health care may be imperfect, but they are a vast improvement on the survival-of-the-fittest approach that the U.S. takes.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.


Sonali Kolhatkar is an award-winning multimedia journalist. She is the founder, host, and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a weekly television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. Her forthcoming book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights Books, 2023). She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute and the racial justice and civil liberties editor at Yes! Magazine. She serves as the co-director of the nonprofit solidarity organization the Afghan Women’s Mission and is a co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan. She also sits on the board of directors of Justice Action Center, an immigrant rights organization.


MAPA rally to stop war in ukraine

“Tanks? No Thanks”, Say Rallies Across Massachusetts, As Biden Escalates War

Massachusetts rallies oppose Biden’s decision to send tanks to Ukraine, escalate war with Russia.

by Cole Harrison, Massachusetts Peace Action

About eighty people rallied at six Massachusetts Congressional offices Thursday, January 26, to protest President Biden’s decision to send US Abrams battle tanks to join the fight in Ukraine.   At four of the six offices they met with Congressional staff and turned in letters and petitions.

MAPA rally to stop war in ukraine

In Worcester, twelve people joined the stand-out on busy Shrewsbury St., which was organized by Claire Schaeffer-Duffy of the Center for Noviolent Solutions.  Worcester activists were joined by Sister Clare Carter and Brother Toby of the Leverett Peace Pagoda.  Rep. McGovern’s district director Jon Niedzielski met the group, who gave him a letter, and heard Sr. Clare’s words of concern and alarms about the escalation of the war.

“Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate. Our request may sound like a broken record to some, but negotiations are how all wars ultimately end. The US needs to push hard for this. The recent decision to send tanks to Ukraine is moving this conflict in the wrong direction,” said Schaeffer-Duffy.   This Week in Worcester covered the action.

Northampton residents protested the US escalation of the Ukraine war outside Rep. Jim McGovern's office, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo: Paki Wieland/MAPA)

Another 25 peace protesters stood outside Rep. McGovern’s satellite office in Northampton the same day.  “The idea of more tanks is anathema to peace talks,” said Paki Wieland, coordinator of the Northampton group.  “This only further escalates the war.”

“Americans only hear one side,” added Stanley Maron, a member of Veterans for Peace. “There’s got to be some discussion and debate on both sides,” reported the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Constituents call for peace in Ukraine at the office of Rep. Seth Moulton, Salem, MA, Jan. 26, 2023

15 peace activists gathered in Salem to criticize Rep. Seth Moulton’s pro-war policy.  The group spoke spoke to Conor Friend, staff aide to Rep. Seth Moulton.  Friend then read a statement from Moulton, which was “worse than we had imagined,” according to the rally organizer, Rev. Art McDonald  of the First Universalist Church of Essex. “We expected a more nuanced response, but he was pretty defiant and talked about the importance of Ukraine winning the war,” Macdonald said.    The Salem News and Gloucester News put the protest on page 1 and published an online photo essay on the event by Jaime Campos and an article by Dustin Luca.

In Newton, Susan Mirsky read a constituents’ letter to Rep. Auchincloss in a meeting with Auchincloss’ aide.  She was joined by a dozen peace supporters.

Constituents protested Rep. Katherine Clark's support for the Ukraine war at her Malden office, Jan. 26, 2023. (MAPA photo)

In Malden, peace activists led by Steve Gallant and Massoudeh Edmond met with Rep. Katherine Clark’s district director Kelsey Perkins, and Wade Blackman, district director for policy.  “We are alarmed by an American policy that focuses almost exclusively upon increasing military aid to Ukraine, rather than promoting a negotiated settlement of the war,” said Gallant. “There is an assumption that US policy makers understand Russia’s red lines well enough so that US/NATO escalation will not lead to a devastating World War, possibly turning nuclear.  We are not confident that strategy makers can continually increase arms aid to Ukraine while avoiding a US/NATO direct confrontation with Russia.”

Peace activists went to Rep. Stephen Lynch's Quincy office to deliver a letter calling for peace in Ukraine, but nobody was there to receive it. The letter was delivered later. (MAPA photo)

In Quincy, activists challenged Rep. Stephen Lynch’s support for the Ukraine war.

“The Ukraine-Russia war is in a dangerous cycle of escalation.  Both sides  are sending more powerful weapons, training troops, and planning spring offensives.  Meanwhile, Russia has mobilized 300,000 new troops and is bombarding Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, greatly increasing the suffering of the population,” said Cole Harrison, MAPA’s executive director.

“We call on the U.S. to support negotiations instead of hindering them, to stop sending arms that escalate the conflict, to sit down with Russia to address U.S./Russian security issues, including reestablishing strategic stability, arms control, US missile bases in Eastern Europe, and conventional force deployments, and to seek mediated negotiations to end the conflict,” Harrison continued.

The group sang peace songs and leafleted passersby.


90 seconds until midnight

Doomsday Clock Shows Unprecedented Danger: 90 Seconds To Midnight

This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.

by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The war in Ukraine may enter a second horrifying year, with both sides convinced they can win. Ukraine’s sovereignty and broader European security arrangements that have largely held since the end of World War II are at stake. Also, Russia’s war on Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact, eroding norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks.

90 seconds until midnight

And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict—by accident, intention, or miscalculation—is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high.

Russia’s recent actions contravene decades of commitments by Moscow. In 1994, Russia joined the United States and United Kingdom in Budapest, Hungary, to solemnly declare that it would “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine…” These assurances were made explicitly on the understanding that Ukraine would relinquish nuclear weapons on its soil and sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—both of which Ukraine did.

Russia has also brought its war to the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor sites, violating international protocols and risking widespread release of radioactive materials. Efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency to secure these plants so far have been rebuffed.

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stop killing us blm sign

Taking A Hard Look At Police Killings

Police killed more people last year than any other on record. Can reimagining city budgets make our communities safer?

by Sonali Kolhatkar, OtherWords

Last year was the deadliest on record for police killings in the United States. According to a Washington Post database, law enforcement officers shot and killed 1,096 people in 2022.

stop killing us blm sign

And that’s likely an understatement.

According to Abdul Nasser Rad, a research director at Campaign Zero, the Post ​“only captures incidents where a police officer discharges their firearm and the victim is killed.” This means that it wouldn’t count the 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, for example, which resulted from asphyxiation.

In contrast, Campaign Zero’s Mapping Police Violence project includes any action that a law enforcement officer takes that results in a fatal encounter. Rad’s project counted 1,158 police killings in 2021 compared to 1,048 for the Post. (Final results for 2022 are not yet available.)

The upshot is that in spite of the huge public attention to police violence since 2020, police are actually killing more people than before. We can expect 2023 to be even deadlier if the years-long trend continues.

Another clear conclusion is that communities of color face a much higher risk.

According to the Washington Post, Black Americans ​“are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans.” Mapping Police Violence puts the figure closer to 3 times. Police killings of Latinos and Indigenous people are similarly disproportionate.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, some activists called for “defunding the police.”

They argued that over-funded police departments — which can often consume a third or more of city budgets — were using their resources to kill people. These advocates wanted to shift some of those funds to reduce poverty, improve mental health, and take other steps to make people safer.

That seemingly reasonable call was greeted with a reactionary backlash. Politicians across the spectrum, including President Joe Biden, promised to increase police funding instead. Biden even begged local governments to use federal stimulus funds to bolster their police departments in 2022.

But does giving police more money result in greater public safety?

One recent study analyzing funding for hundreds of police departments over nearly three decades concluded that ​“new police budget growth is likely to do one thing: increase misdemeanor arrests.”

These arrests do little to reduce violent crime. Instead, the authors explained, they lead to more police encounters that result in killings.

On the contrary, cities that took steps to reduce arrests for petty crimes saw a decrease in police killings, according to data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe, a cofounder of Campaign Zero. He also concluded that crime rates in those cities did not increase.

These issues needn’t be divisive. None of us should simply accept that police will continue to kill more and more people each year. Making sure our local budgets invest in real safety, not just deadly force, is one place to begin.

The Community Resource Hub has created a powerful internet tool, Defund​Police​.org, to help communities put police spending into perspective and reimagine their city budgets. The site includes a detailed video tutorial on how to use tools like a ​“people’s budget calculator” to advocate for change locally.

We all want safer communities. To get them, we need to put our money toward people’s needs, not deadly deeds.


Sonali Kolhatkar is the host of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. This commentary was produced by the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute and adapted for syndication by OtherWords.org.


biden at pentagon

Progressive Democrats Welcome A Primary Challenge To Biden In 2024

Anyone not previously glued to MSNBC and drunk on Russia Phobia, has to wonder why Biden has refused to vigorously pursue diplomacy with Putin.

by Marcy Winograd, LA Progressive

With President Biden’s approval ratings hovering at 40% and the US chasing endless war in Ukraine, Progressive Democrats of America’s foreign policy team, which I co-chair with Jim Carpenter of Milwaukee, welcomes a primary challenge from a peace candidate in the 2024 Presidential race. In fact, with Republicans hollering about Biden’s classified docs locked up in his Wilmington garage, it would hardly come as a surprise if primary challengers soon stepped into the spotlight

biden at pentagon

California Governor Gavin Newsom made no secret of his presidential ambitions last year when he ran a television commercial in Florida blasting right-wing Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans, in general, for banning books, knee-capping voting rights and “criminalizing women and doctors.”

Rumors abound that policy wonk Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) would love to run again in 2024, if only Joe, turning 81 next November, would hurry up to announce his retirement and take a celebratory spin in his Corvette.

Ever since spiritual leader Marianne Williamson became the most Googled candidate on the 2020 presidential stage, speculation has swirled around another run for the charismatic author of “Return to Love.” Will she return? My Ouija Board says, “It appears likely.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, already 81, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and never one to go hard against Joe, says he won’t run a third time as long as Biden runs for re-election.

Perhaps progressive Presidential hopefuls need more encouragement from the base.

Enter RootsAction, an online petition site which recently launched a “Don’t run, Joe!” campaign, saying, “The threat of a neo fascist GOP has become all too obvious. Bold and inspiring leadership from the Oval Office will be essential. Unfortunately, President Biden has been neither bold nor inspiring. And his prospects for winning re-election appear to be bleak.”

Following RootsAction’s lead, the End Wars and Occupations team of Progressive Democrats of America went on record encouraging a primary challenge to the sitting President. Our concerns? Let’s start with Ukraine, where a proxy war between the two most heavily armed nuclear nations threatens the end of the world as we know it.

Carpenter of PDA’s foreign policy team says, “War is always human failure but you would never know that looking at Biden’s provocations in Ukraine and failure to promote a diplomatic settlement to end Russia’s brutal invasion.”

Hear, hear.

Anyone not previously glued to MSNBC and drunk on Russia Phobia, has to wonder why Biden has refused to vigorously pursue diplomacy with Putin. Isn’t there a phone in the Oval Office? Certainly, there’s precedent for compromise. Think President John F. Kennedy. He resolved the Cuban Missile Crisis by promising to remove Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

We need a truce and negotiations, not more weapons for a war in which the Biden administration played a provocative role. In Sept., 2021, a few months before Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, Biden signed a Strategic Partnership with Ukraine to privatize state owned industries, as well as encourage Ukraine to join NATO and pursue a confrontation with Russia over Crimea, a strategic Black Sea naval portal Russia annexed following the 2014 US-backed coup in Ukraine.

Biden has also been hawkish on China and supportive of NATO expansion to the Pacific. He should have told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to go to Taiwan, a dangerously provocative move that disrupted US-China collaboration to thwart the climate crisis.

If only Biden had listened to the 550 DNC delegates who in 2020 signed a letter urging him to hire a new foreign policy team with a track record for diplomacy. Instead, Biden promoted Antony Blinken, of hawkish WestExec Advisors, to Secretary of State. Blinken was Biden’s Senate foreign policy advisor who crafted Biden’s support for the horrific US invasion of Iraq.

As President, Biden has refused to lift sanctions against Cuba and kept in place Trump’s policy of assigning Cuba to the State Sponsors of Terrorism list which has brought tremendous hardship to the Cuban people who’ve had trouble obtaining syringes to administer COVID vaccines.

Biden has not stopped arming the Saudis in their genocidal war on Yemen, insisting the US maintain the bombers for the Saudi Air Force. Biden even afforded MBS immunity from prosecution in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose body parts were packed into five suitcases after he was strangled during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve papers for a pending marriage.

Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review betrays his campaign promise to support a “no first strike” nuclear policy. Instead, he reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.” He supports nuclear rearmament, estimated to cost well over a trillion dollars in the next few decades, and the production of new ICBMS that would again leave the midwest sitting ducks in the event of a nuclear attack.

Despite the new Israeli government’s agenda to annex the West Bank and further erode Palestinian rights, the Biden administration has pledged “ironclad” support for Israel. Previously, Biden elevated Israel to a full-fledged military partner in a NATO-like defense pact that could embroil the US in more wars in the Middle East.

The Biden administration continues to back the Trump-initiated extradition order and espionage charges against Julian Assange for publishing evidence of US war crimes in Iraq–this despite the fact that the New York Times also published documents Wikileaks released. This prosecution is a direct attack on freedom of the press, foundational to democracy and the prevention of war.

Finally, although the Biden administration ended the 20 year US occupation of Afghanistan, the White House then froze $7 billion of Afghan Central Bank reserves held in US banks, strangling the Afghan economy and contributing to mass unemployment and famine.

“We need a President who values diplomacy and supports a just foreign policy, not one that pushes us to the brink of World War III,” added Carpenter.

Our grassroots foreign policy team is one of several issue-oriented working groups in Progressive Democrats of America, which was founded in 2004 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, during the 2004 National Democratic Convention when activists from the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich met to swing the party left and anti-war.

While the PDA foreign policy team has not endorsed a specific primary challenger to Biden, we hope that issuing a call for peace candidates to step forward will, at the very least, encourage vigorous debate about US foreign policy and the imperative to change course in an increasingly multipolar world.

Poll after poll confirms:
Americans are ready to move on from Joe Biden.

We’re calling on Joe Biden to announce that he’s not running for President in 2024.

Sign our petition below saying “Don’t Run Joe”! Learn more at www.DontRunJoe.org


stop cop city they can't kill us all banner at demonstration 2

CHEAT SHEET: The Battle Over Cop City

In just five minutes, we’ll tell you all about the Atlanta Police Foundation’s controversial plan to build the country’s largest cop training facility.

by Aditi Ramaswami, The Lever

Over the weekend, protesters gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, to mourn the police killing last Wednesday of Tortuguita, a 26-year-old environmental activist fighting the planned construction of so-called “Cop City,” the largest police and fire department training facility of its kind in the country.

stop cop city they can't kill us all banner at demonstration 2

Give us five minutes of your time in this new edition of Cheat Sheet, and we’ll explain how Atlanta arrived at this moment, and what the conflict reveals about the politics and finances of U.S. policing, land defense and environmental justice, and whose voices matter most in the discourse on resource allocation.

NUTS AND BOLTS

Activists in Atlanta, Georgia, have spent the last two years battling city officials and law enforcement over a city-approved plan to build a $90-million training center for police and firefighters, in an alleged attempt to reduce crime.

The training facility, dubbed “Cop City” by protesters, would be built on 85 acres of former plantation and prison farm land in unincorporated Dekalb County, land the Atlanta City Council voted to lease to the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) for just $10 a year. The center is supposed to include a shooting range, a mock village complete with a fake night club and other amenities, and a park named after former first lady Michelle Obama.

Atlanta City Council greenlit the plan in 2021 on a 10-4 vote following 17 hours of public comment, the vast majority of which was in opposition to the proposal.

Read More

lithium batteries

A Zero Emissions Future Without The Mining Boom

A new report finds that the U.S. can reduce lithium demand by up to 90 percent.

by Blanca Begert & Lylla Younes, Grist

The effort to shift the U.S. economy off fossil fuels and avoid the most disastrous impacts of climate change hinges on the third element of the periodic table. Lithium, the soft, silvery-white metal used in electric car batteries, was endowed by nature with miraculous properties. At around half a gram per cubic centimeter, it’s the lightest metal on Earth and is extremely energy-dense, making it ideal for manufacturing batteries with a long life.

lithium batteries

The problem is, lithium comes with its own set of troubles: Mining the metal is often devastating for the environment and the people who live nearby, since it’s water intensive and risks permanently damaging the land. The industry also has an outsized impact on Native Americans, with three-quarters of all known U.S. deposits located near tribal land.

Demand for lithium is expected to skyrocket in the coming decades (up to 4,000 percent according to one estimate), which will require many new mines to meet it (more than 70 by 2025). These estimates assume the number of cars on the road will remain constant, so lithium demand will rise as gas guzzlers get replaced by electric vehicles. But what if the United States could design a policy that eliminates carbon emissions from the transportation sector without as much mining?

new report from the Climate and Community Project, a progressive climate policy think tank, offers a fix. In a paper out on Tuesday, the researchers estimated that the U.S. could decrease lithium demand up to 90 percent by 2050 by expanding public transportation infrastructure, shrinking the size of electric vehicle batteries and maximizing lithium recycling. They claim that this report is the first to consider multiple pathways for getting the country’s cars and buses running on electricity and suppressing U.S. lithium demand at the same time.

“Conversations [about the dangers of mining] can lead folks to think that there’s a zero-sum trade-off: either we address the climate crisis or we protect Indigenous rights and biodiversity,” said Thea Riofrancos, an associate professor of political science at Providence College and the lead author of the report. “This report asks the question: is there a way to do both?”

Riofrancos and the other researchers modeled four scenarios for public transportation in the U.S. that would lead to different levels of lithium demand. In the baseline, the country follows the path it’s currently on, swapping out all gas cars for electric ones by 2050 with few other changes.

The other three scenarios consider what happens when more people are walking, biking, or taking trains and buses. Cities grow denser, commutes shorten, and public transportation expands and is electrified. Governments take away subsidies for owning cars, like free parking, and limit on-street parking and lots. Assuming average battery size stays the same and 8-year battery warranties remain in place, lithium demand drops by 66 percent in the most ambitious scenario as compared to the U.S. staying on its current path. But even the more modest scenarios bring 18 and 41 percent drops in demand for the metal, largely thanks to expanding mass transit and denser urban areas that allow families to live without cars.

“The scenarios were really informed by what already exists in certain places,” said Kira McDonald, a Princeton University researcher. She and her colleagues used real-life examples for their estimates, looking at success stories in cities like Vienna, which has slashed car use in recent years through car-free zones, bike-sharing, and improvements to pedestrian comfort and safety. London, Lyon, and Amsterdam have also all seen steep declines in vehicle ownership after rolling out low-emission zones and adding more bike lanes; in Paris car use has fallen by about 45 percent since 1990.

The researchers experimented with other variables that could influence lithium demand and were surprised to find that by reducing average battery sizes to 54 kilowatt-hour, close to the capacity of the Nissan Leaf, lithium demand fell as much as 42 percent, even when car use stayed on its current trajectory. While the global average battery is small, with a capacity of around 40kWh, bigger batteries used in the United States have an average capacity around 70kWh, and the report notes a trend toward even bigger batteries with higher capacities like the 150 kWh ones found in electric trucks and SUVs.

Riofrancos said there’s a way around building big batteries, while allowing that there are reasonable concerns about the availability of charging stations and the need for longer battery ranges in certain areas. “But the solution to that is to build more charging stations, not make enormous electric vehicles.”

Battery recycling – a nascent industry in the U.S. – could also reduce lithium demand, but it’s unlikely to help much for at least a decade, according to experts. Currently, there just aren’t a lot of electric-car batteries to recycle, as most of the early EVs are still on the roads, and batteries that do putter out often get reused for solar and wind energy storage. While the European Union will soon require new lithium-ion batteries to use some recycled parts, and China makes battery manufacturers collaborate with recycling companies, the United States has no such requirements. The Climate and Community Project report points out that recyclers have also had little reason to recover lithium, as it’s cheaper to mine. Even a fully up-and-running industry that recovers 98 percent of EV battery material could only meet about a third of lithium demand by 2050 if the country continues to rely on cars the way it does now– two thirds would still come from the earth.

Getting Americans out of their cars, even their electric ones, would take sweeping changes to the country’s infrastructure, the fabric of urban areas, and the very culture. Some have described the level of transformation required as unrealistic. But the researchers found examples of successful efforts in big cities around the world, even in the United States. Riofrancos pointed to free bus lines in Providence, Rhode Island, e-bike subsidies in Denver, and efforts in other cities to scale back parking lots.

“The conversations are happening but they’re not connected with congressional funding priorities at all,” Riofrancos said. She added that the Biden administration’s recently released transportation blueprint, with its focus on public transit and land-use planning, is out of step with the emphasis on promoting EVs and domestic lithium mining in the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate legislation Biden signed into law last August.

“I think at this point the question is not whether we decarbonize, but how,” she said. “That’s still an open question, and I think we should be having a broader kind of social and political debate over the different ways forward on this.”


Daniel Ellsberg at rally

Ellsberg: Losing 1st Amendment Reverses War Of Independence

Daniel Ellsberg says using the Espionage Act against journalist Julian Assange in blatant violation of the First Amendment means the First Amendment is essentially gone.

by Daniel Ellsberg, Scheerpost

Ellsberg gave the following address to the Belmarsh Tribunal on Friday night. A transcript follows. 

Daniel Ellsberg at rally

Hi, I’m Dan Ellsberg. One of the foundation stones of our government here in the United States, for democracy and a republic, is our First Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids any law by Congress or the states abridging freedom of speech or of the press, along with freedom of religion or of assembly, that precluded the passage of a British type Official Secrets Act, which most countries have.

Almost no other country has a law singling out the press as protected by our freedom, by the First Amendment and the British type Official Secrets Act, which criminalizes any or all disclosure of information protected by the government executive branch. Even disclosure to the public or to the press or to Congress or Parliament is criminalized and subject to prison.

We’ve never had such an act because of our First Amendment. In fact, one was almost inadvertently passed by Congress in the year 2000, but it was vetoed by President Clinton as a clear cut violation of the First Amendment.

And he cited in his opinion accompanying that, some of the opinions in the Pentagon Papers case of half a century ago that had resulted from my disclosure of information that I had authorized possession of, as a contractor to the government at that time : 7000 pages of top secret documents about the history of U.S. decision making in Vietnam, which disclosed repeated sequence, by four different presidents, of lies and in effect, violations of the Constitution,  treaties and in particular misleading Congress as to the costs for war. I was facing 115 years in prison, but not for Official Secrets Act, which we don’t have.

It was an experiment by President Nixon to use our Espionage Act, which had always been directed and intended for U.S. spies, giving information secretly to a foreign government, especially in time of war. It had never been used as it was by Nixon, in my case, as a substitute for an Official Secrets Act, for disclosure to the public, with no indication of my intentions there, but simply to hold that doing that was a violation.

That was dismissed on grounds of government criminality against me and there never has been a Supreme Court decision on whether using the Espionage Act, as is now facing Julian Assange as a basis for an attempt to extradite him from Britain to the U.S., was constitutional.

They’ve never received it, even though there have been dozens of cases since then. Since my case in which the act was used as if it were an Official Secrets Act, in effect making it a reliable substitute for withholding from the public any information the government doesn’t want it to have, which is an enormous amount of information.

Up until the Julian Assange indictment, the act, however, had never been used as an Official Secrets Act against other than sources like myself, who had possession of information, who disclosed it to the public.

It had never being used against a journalist, like Julian Assange, although in each case of course, of such disclosures or leaks, some form or media was involved, and many, many people involved. But they had never been indicted for that before.

Actually, if you’re going to use the act against a journalist in blatant violation of the First Amendment’s denial of Congress’s ability to criminalize acts by journalists, by the press, the First Amendment is essentially gone.

They say we were the first to have it. We fought a war of independence and established a constitution. So we have a First Amendment. Britain does not, where Julian now is, and they have an Official Secrets Act, which we don’t.

If we acquire that, we give up the main result, I would say, of that War of Independence, in the sense that we are no longer really a Republic, or a Democracy. We have monarchical powers, imperial powers, formally, and every empire requires secrecy to cloak its acts of violence that maintain it as an empire. It’s a major change from our former government.

The fact is that the Espionage Act is even broader than the British Official Secrets Act, and that’s why Congress, people in Congress who wanted to uphold secrecy have given up trying to pass a formal Official Secrets Act.

They prefer the Espionage Act because the wording of that act – so far not used against a journalist until Julian Assange, and not used beyond a journalist to someone who simply receives the information or possesses and maintains it without giving it to an authorized authority – that is covered by the language of the Espionage Act.

To challenge that, a year ago I released a top secret document on the Taiwan Straits Crisis of 1958 – that long ago – in which the U.S. came close to using nuclear weapons to uphold the protection of Taiwan from mainland China, an issue which is now very much facing us this year.

And I challenged that as someone who had held out and refused to give it to an authorized authority for all these years, in order to raise in court for the first time whether we can take the plain language of the Espionage Act as controlling and overruling basically the First Amendment.

To go further this year in connection with the attempt to extradite Julian Assange, I also revealed the fact that I had been as subject to indictment as Julian all this time since 2010, because I had possessed the information which he released to the newspapers before he did that. He conveyed it to me before he did that as a backup to what he was doing for the press.

In the plain language of the act then, as someone who possessed that information and did not disclose it to an authorized person, who retained it, I, like actually every reader of the Times — The New York Times, The Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde, who received and published that information, every reader all over the world comes under the plain language of that act.

I’m in effect – same with Julian – I am prepared to face a test of that act going up to the Supreme Court if necessary, and restoring our status as a republic.

I call on President Biden either to indict me, along with Julian Assange and others, or to drop this unconstitutional attempt to extradite Julian – I wouldn’t have to be extradited – or to prosecute either of us in these courts. That is really the only way for him to restore our status as a Republic and a democracy.

This transcript was originally published by Consortium News here.