Palestinian residents take belongings from destroyed homes

US Silent While EU Condemns Destruction Of Palestinian Homes

“Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace.”

By Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

The European Union on Friday joined a prominent Israeli human rights group in condemning last week’s demolition of multiple homes in occupied East Jerusalem, an illegal action that displaced 22 Palestinians including 15 children.

“We reiterate our call to halt demolitions and any other unlawful practices that coerce Palestinians out of their homes,” the European Union Delegation to the Palestinians (DPAL) tweeted.

“Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace,” DPAL added.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem:

At around 6:00 am [on November 23], civil administration personnel and border police officers arrived at the neighborhood of Wadi al-Humos, an eastern extension of Zur Baher in East Jerusalem. The forces bulldozed three buildings: a two-story building that was home to a family of five, including three minors, and a building that was home to one person. From there, the forces moved to the other side of the separation barrier and demolished a four-story building under construction that included three apartments.

“The wave of demolitions expresses the perception of the Israeli regime, which holds that land is a resource intended primarily to serve the Jewish population,” B’Tselem said. “This regime uses a variety of administrative, planning, and bureaucratic tools to implement this concept. Governments come and go, but the apartheid regime remains untouched.”

Palestinian residents take belongings from destroyed homes
Photo by RafahKid Kid

B’Tselem published a video of the “day of destruction”:

In September, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that Israeli demolitions and seizures of Palestinian homes in the illegally occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem increased by 21% so far this year. The agency said that 28% more Palestinians were displaced during the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period last year.

The EU condemnation came a day after the Israeli government notified the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden that it was shelving a highly controversial plan to build 9,000 housing units for the exclusive use of ultra-Orthodox Jews on the site of what was formerly Jerusalem’s international airport. According to Israeli media, the move was the result of pressure from the Biden administration.

A factory in the background with large smoke plumes and the PH signature circles in the foreground

Carbon Capture Is Not A Solution — It's A Stalling Technique

Why the oil industry’s pivot to carbon capture and storage – while it keeps on drilling – isn’t a climate change solution

By June Sekera and Neva Goodwin, The Conversation

After decades of sowing doubt about climate change and its causes, the fossil fuel industry is now shifting to a new strategy: presenting itself as the source of solutions. This repositioning includes rebranding itself as a “carbon management industry.”

This strategic pivot was on display at the Glasgow climate summit and at a Congressional hearing in October 2021, where CEOs of four major oil companies talked about a “lower-carbon future.” That future, in their view, would be powered by the fuels they supply and technologies they could deploy to remove the planet-warming carbon dioxide their products emit – provided they get sufficient government support.

A factory in the background with large smoke plumes and the PH signature circles in the foreground
Photo by Robert S. Donovan

That support may be coming. The Department of Energy recently added “carbon management” to the name of its Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management and is expanding its funding for carbon capture and storage.

But how effective are these solutions, and what are their consequences?

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Jail cell bars cover a businessman smoking a cigar

White Collar Privilege: Why Don't We Prosecute Corporate Crimes?

The other side of criminal justice reform is focusing on white-collar prosecutions.

By Alvin Bragg and Zephyr Teachout, The Nation

There have been 13 deaths at Rikers Island this year already, while white-collar criminals rarely even get ankle bracelets as they await trial. This month, as the Chamber of Commerce amped up its campaign to stall legislation that would hold the Sackler family accountable for the deaths they caused and profited from by encouraging the over-prescribing of opioid drugs, a poor man in a wheelchair was killed by Covid. He’d been charged with gun possession and became the 13th Rikers’ death because he couldn’t afford $100,000 bail.

Two criminal justice systems, separate and unequal, means we don’t have justice. One criminal justice system is for the wealthy and well-connected, where prosecutors and judges hesitate, negotiate, and, if they even think about bringing criminal charges, are tempted to settle. The other is for poor Black, brown, and vulnerable communities where even before a trial you can be sent to a death trap like Rikers. In 2018, fewer than 40 people employed by major corporations got prison time for any federal white-collar crime, while nearly 20,000 people were federally sentenced for drug crimes. More people went to Rikers yesterday than were ever charged with causing the financial crisis.

Jail cell bars cover a businessman smoking a cigar
Photo by Kevin Case

What that means is that we need two kinds of reform: Along with ending mass incarceration, retooling prosecutorial practices and incentives, and reducing sentence length, we also need to dial up our white-collar prosecutions. The failure to stop theft, abuse, and suffering at the hands of criminals with spreadsheets and fancy systems of fraud is directly leading to impoverished communities and fewer resources for public investments. It’s also leading to a crisis for the rule of law.

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Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema against a green background with a rocket firing behind it

Right-Wing Dems Quiet While Military Budget Balloons To Over $8 Trillion

Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized his colleagues who complain about social spending but “all of a sudden forget about the deficit when we’re talking about an annual defense budget of $778 billion.”

By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

Right-wing Democrats who have spent the past several months griping about the cost of the Build Back Better Act—and lopping roughly $2 trillion off the bill’s top line—are facing growing pushback from progressive lawmakers and analysts as Congress gets ready to approve a military budget that’s far more expensive on an annual basis.

Stephen Semler, co-founder of the Security Policy Reform Institute, estimated Monday that projected U.S military budgets over the next decade will cost roughly $8.31 trillion—double the combined price tag of the Biden administration’s big-ticket agenda items, which include the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure law, and the $1.75 trillion reconciliation package.

“Social spending bills—despite being more urgent/relevant for everyday security than military spending—will continue to bear the brunt of austerity politics,” Semler wrote in a blog post.

The Senate is currently debating a sweeping $778 billion military policy bill that would allocate $768 billion to the Pentagon in Fiscal Year 2022, significantly more than the current budget approved under former President Donald Trump.

After President Joe Biden requested a $753 billion military budget earlier this year, committees in the House and Senate—both narrowly controlled by Democrats—proceeded to tack on $25 billion more. Over a decade, that increase alone would amount to more spending than all of the healthcare provisions currently in the Build Back Better Act.

In total, as HuffPost‘s Akbar Shahid Ahmed reported last week, the annual Pentagon budget “approves more than four times as much spending as Biden’s Build Back Better Act.”

“The National Defense Authorization Act would approve $778 billion in spending in 2022, compared to the approximately $170 billion in spending that Biden’s social policy would entail next year,” Ahmed added. “Hawkish Democrats worked with Republicans to ensure that the defense bill would be $25 billion greater than Biden’s proposal for the military budget, and to quash progressive efforts to trim costs.”

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema against a green background with a rocket firing behind it
Photo by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted Monday that “my colleagues seem to be so concerned with the deficit when it comes to addressing the needs of working people, but all of a sudden forget about the deficit when we’re talking about an annual defense budget of $778 billion.”

“What hypocrisy,” added the Vermont senator, who said he plans to vote against the NDAA.

Last week, in an effort to block the proposed $25 billion increase, Sanders and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced an amendment that would bring the proposed NDAA back down to what Biden requested in May.

“Let me be clear: this is not a radical idea, it is the military spending amount proposed by the president of the United States and the amount requested by the Department of Defense,” Sanders said in a floor speech. “I should also point out that this extraordinary level of military spending comes at a time when the Department of Defense is the only agency of our federal government that has not been able to pass an independent audit, and when defense contractors are making enormous profits while paying their CEOs exorbitant compensation packages.”

It’s unclear whether the Sanders-Markey amendment will have any more success than other recent efforts to reduce the latest U.S. military budget, which have been defeated by Republicans and Democrats bankrolled by the defense industry.

Many of the right-wing House Democrats who have held up the Build Back Better Act over purported concerns about its costs—including Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Stephanie Murphy of Florida—voted with Republicans in September to tank an amendment aimed at reversing the $25 billion add-on.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the major obstacles to the Build Back Better Act in the upper chamber, voted to advance the full $778 billion NDAA last week without once complaining about its price tag. Over the past decade, Manchin—a self-styled enemy of “fiscal insanity“—has voted in favor of over $9 trillion in military spending.

The Intercept‘s Jeremy Scahill wrote Sunday that “while there is much media focus these days on the intensely polarized dynamic on Capitol Hill between Democrats and Republicans, as well as domestic legislative battles among Democrats, none of this has stopped the work of the empire from moving forward.”

“Legislation aimed at increasing funding for social programs, education, and other public goods is consistently held hostage by politicians harping over the costs,” Scahill noted. “This has been the case with Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, which has seen some conservative Democrats join their Republican colleagues in gutting social spending in the name of fiscal responsibility.”

“The original BBB 10-year projection was $3.5 trillion and has been steadily chiseled down to half that size to appease critics,” he added. “Juxtapose this with the bipartisan ‘defense’ spending spree that has the U.S. on course to produce a Pentagon budget of more than $7 trillion over the next decade, and the priorities of this government’s political class come into sharp focus.”

Jim Justice sits in front of a stack of coal

West Virginia Governor Got Rich On Environmental And Labor Negligence

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice faces justice for coal crimes in Kentucky

By Adam Mahoney, Grist

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice used coal to propel himself into public office in the coal-friendly state, but a few hundred miles away his association with coal is not so positive. Earlier this month in Kentucky, the billionaire politician and his son-turned-business partner were personally fined $2.9 million by the state for failing to reclaim three of their Eastern Kentucky mines, a process that makes them environmentally safe for redevelopment.

The proprietor of the Greenbrier Resort owns more than 50 coal mines and businesses and has faced fines before — along with community opposition —  for failing to pay taxes and suppliers, inadequately implementing mine safety requirements, and ignoring court-ordered environmental remediation work.

Jim Justice sits in front of a stack of coal

He joins other high-ranking elected officials, such as Senator Joe Manchin and Congressman Michael McCaul, who are in the business of passing climate legislation while having interests in the fossil fuel industry. Justice’s attorneys claim the missed deadline that prompted the most recent fine is not his fault;  the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to safely get the reclamation work in time.

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Striking Sears workers framed in a circle with a green background and a white bar

It Isn't Just Left Wing Propaganda; Unions Really Improve Workers' Lives

Unions aren’t just about strikes and politics—the stories the media covers. There’s a big story the media usually misses about unions: how, concretely, they improve workers’ lives.

By Steven Greenhouse, The American Prospect

  • Laura Asher, a former combat medic who was working as a hospital aide, saw her pay jump when she entered her union’s apprenticeship program to become a crane operator. Her pay is now more than three times what her hospital job paid.
  • Gregory Swanson, a charter school teacher, was hugely frustrated that his school’s top official assigned him a salary far below his level of experience. But his union contract changed that, requiring the school to follow a pay scale based on years of experience.
  • Madeleine Souza-Rivera, a barista at a café in one of Google’s giant office complexes, used to feel overwhelmed by the $9,600 she paid each year in health care premiums. Thanks to her union contract, she now pays nothing toward health premiums.
  • Donnell Jefferson, a warehouse worker, complained that he was never sure when he could leave work—his boss would suddenly order workers to put in two, and sometimes even eight, extra hours on the job. But with his union contract, his work hours are now far more predictable.
  • Lorie Quinn, a hospital housekeeper who cleans intensive-care units, has seen her pay increase by 70 percent since her hospital unionized six years ago. Moreover, her health insurance premiums have been cut in half.

More than 14 million workers across the United States—carpenters, steelworkers, nurses, teachers, truck drivers, and many others—are union members, but rarely does one read how unions have improved workers’ jobs and lives.

Striking Sears workers framed in a circle with a green background and a white bar
Photo by Kheel Center

There are plenty of stories about weeks-long strikes, hard-fought unionization drives, unions’ role in political campaigns, and unions fighting to raise the minimum wage. Perhaps it’s considered too prosaic, but there are hardly any stories that examine in depth how belonging to a union or joining a union has changed workers’ lives and improved things for their families.

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A pipeline cuts through pine forest

Fresh Off Line 3, Enbridge Wants To Build Yet Another Pipeline

Gulf Coast Tribe Vows to Resist Enbridge’s New Pipeline Expansion Plans

By Candice Bernd, Truthout

As Indigenous Water Protectors and allies in northern Minnesota are stuck with legal and environmental fallout of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline’s construction and operation, Enbridge is already moving on — eyeing ways to streamline and further expand its ability to deliver Canadian tar sands to the Gulf Coast for export to global markets.

The Canadian oil giant is looking to increase capacity across its fossil fuel infrastructure systems that connect to the Texas Gulf Coast, including potentially building a pipeline linking the Houston area to its newly acquired crude-export hub at the Port of Corpus Christi in order to accommodate Line 3’s ramped up capacity, according to reporting by S&P Global Platts.

A pipeline cuts through pine forest
Photo by rickz

The company is also looking at ways to expand its capacity across its Southern Access Extension and Flanagan South pipelines, corporate officials reportedly said on its third-quarter earnings call. It’s just waiting on a major Canadian regulatory decision later this month that will determine whether Enbridge can overhaul the way it awards space on its biggest tar sands pipeline network into the U.S., allowing it to contract up to 90 percent of its capacity on its Mainline system by signing long-term deals with potential shippers, rather than operating as a so-called “common carrier.” Corporate officials say they will provide more details on future projects at a December investors event.

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An Israeli soldier holds a phone camera against an Israel/Palestine flag background

Palestinian Kids Photographed And Intimidated By Israeli Troops

One Israeli human rights group said the incident illustrates “how arbitrarily the routine of the lives of Palestinians living under occupation is disrupted, and how easily soldiers violate their rights.”

By Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

Human rights groups this week reacted with outrage to video footage showing Israeli troops forcing Palestinian children from their slumber and photographing them outside their family home—an act that Israel’s military admits was “not proper.”

The footage, first published Wednesday by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, captures an incident that occurred on September 3 in the unlawfully occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The recording shows Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers ordering adult Palestinians to wake the frightened children, 13 of whom are gathered into a group and then told to “say cheese” before being photographed outside the home.

A woman in the home asks the troops, “Do you like when the soldiers come and take pictures [of] your kids?”

One of the Israeli soldiers explains that the children are being photographed “because they’re throwing stones here,” a reference to the futile yet symbolic act of Palestinian youth hurling rocks at heavily armored IDF vehicles.

B’Tselem said that the video shows “how arbitrarily the routine of the lives of Palestinians living under occupation is disrupted, and how easily soldiers violate their rights.”

“It seems that for the army, all Palestinians, including boys and girls of elementary school age, are potential criminals—they are allowed to wake them up at any time at night, enter their house and conduct a lineup,” the group added.

An Israeli soldier holds a phone camera against an Israel/Palestine flag background

The London-based, pro-Israel Jewish group Yachad U.K. called the incident “morally repugnant.”

Dylan Williams, senior vice president of the U.S.-based pro-Israel lobby group J Street, said the troops committed “a violation of international law.”

“If any of the arms or equipment used by Israeli forces during this were U.S.-sourced, it’s also a violation of U.S. law,” he added.

According to the IDF, the home was invaded following a stone-throwing incident at the nearby illegal Israeli settler colony of Kiryat Arba.

“During the incident, minors were photographed by the officer to identify the stone-throwers,” an IDF official said, according to The Times of Israel.

“This officer’s conduct was not proper,” the army official added. “The officer has received a reprimand on his conduct, and procedures will be sharpened among the forces to prevent the recurrence of similar cases.”

In what the IDF called “intelligence mapping,” troops entered the homes of Palestinians who are not suspected of any wrongdoing at night in order to gain knowledge of the buildings’ residents and layouts. In June, the IDF announced it would significantly curtail the controversial practice.

Earlier this month, Common Dreams reported that the IDF veterans’ group Breaking the Silence revealed a sweeping IDF West Bank surveillance operation in which troops are using facial recognition technology integrated with ubiquitous security cameras and smartphones to compile a database of as many Palestinians as possible.

To build the database, IDF soldiers held competitions to see who could take the most photos of Palestinians, including children. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted that it is illegal for IDF troops to photograph minors.

The federal reserve appears against a green background

The Inflation Panic Is Not Tethered To Reality

Elites are sounding the alarm over threats of inflation in order to block Biden’s social spending plan. We shouldn’t fall for it.

By Max B. Sawicky, In These Times

After years of hypocrisy and bungled forecasts of doom, the budget deficit no longer provokes panic. The elites need a new bogeyman, otherwise Congress might actually spend us into happiness. Now, the new monster in the closet is Inflation. The great prognosticators Sen. Joe Manchin (D‑W.V.) and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer have weighed in, and we are officially advised to be afwaid, vewy afwaid.

Since 2010, median housing rents have gone up by 36 percent. The cost of family health insurance has risen 47 percent. From the academic year 2009 – 2010 to 2018 – 2019, average costs of college went up 39 percent. And the median hourly wage rose by just 11 percent, so rent, healthcare and college — among other things — are all less affordable now than they were ten years ago.

The federal reserve appears against a green background
Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid

To varying degrees, each of these problems is addressed in the Democrats’ budget reconciliation bill, dubbed the Build Back Better (BBB) plan. That legislation includes added support for housing, increased premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, and expanded Pell Grants for college students. There is compensation for the inadequate growth of wages, including tax credits for families with children, subsidized childcare, pre‑K for three- and four-year olds, and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children. Of course, each of these items is scaled down from what was originally proposed by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. More should be done.

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A group of Cubans sits on the Malecon with a green and white background

While US Stokes Embers Of Division, Most Cubans Look To The Future

Cubans More Excited About School Reopening Than Regime Change

By Medea Benjamin, LA Progressive

“If you build it, they will come,” said Kevin Costner in the Field of Dreams. In Cuba, they didn’t come. Dissidents on the island, with their U.S. backers, had been working feverishly for months to turn the unprecedented July 11 protests into a crescendo of government opposition on November 15. They built a formidable structure, with sophisticated social media (including an abundance of fake news), piles of cash from Cuban Americans and the U.S. government, and declarations of support from a bipartisan Congress and all the way up to the White House.

Even after the Cuban government denied the protesters a permit on the grounds that they were part of a destabilization campaign led by the United States, anti-government forces insisted that they were undeterred and were ready to take the risks. But in the end, their Field of Dreams turned out to be an illusion. What happened?

A group of Cubans sits on the Malecon with a green and white background
Photo by flako

Intimidation of dissidents was certainly a key factor. The leader of the Facebook group Archipelago, Yunior Garcia, was kept under virtual house arrest. Other leaders were threatened with arrest and repudiated by their pro-revolution neighbors.

But at the grassroots, I talked to Cubans who had second thoughts about the usefulness of street protests. They had come into the streets on July 11, spontaneously, with all kinds of legitimate gripes: the scarcity of food and medicines, the long lines for basic goods, the rapid spread of COVID, the hard currency stores they didn’t have access to. But in the intervening months between the July protests and November, many realized that street protests only created division when the country needed unity. They realized that despite all the social media hype, the government was not about the fall, and that even if it did, there was no telling what would follow. If it was chaos and civil strife, or a rush of voracious Cuban Americans trying to grab waterfront island properties, their precarious economic situation might be even worse.

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