News Articles | June 26, 2022

Afghanistan, capitalism, Climate Change, corporate, Corruption, democracy, Global Warming, government, inequality, inflation, Israel, julian assange, Ukraine, War, war crimes, World Economics

The role of stupidity in determining the course of history is often underestimated by historians. They neglect it as too crude and shallow a factor to be the cause of crucial events, preferring to unearth more sophisticated and intellectually respectable explanations. Calling a leader “a fool” may be pervasive as abuse, but is seldom accepted as the underlying reason for a calamitous decision.

This is surely a mistake. “Never lose your sense of the superficial,” said the newspaper publisher Lord Northcliffe and his advice applies as much to historic trends as it does to daily news. Yet pundits like to feel that they are digging deeper than a personal failing, and seldom focus on plain and simple stupidity as the reason why leaders make unforced errors. READ MORE

Expansion of Public Sector in Nicaragua Has Improved Quality of Life for Everyone

In 2018, 48% of U.S.-based churches had their own food-distribution ministry or supported efforts run by other churches or organizations such as food pantries or food banks.

These faith-based ministries, unlike government programs, provide immediate help to hungry people with no requirements. And more than two million people volunteer at a food pantry, soup kitchen, emergency shelter or after-school programs in the U.S., working more than 100 million volunteer hours a year—according to Hunger in America 2014, a study conducted by Feeding America.

This wave of charity recognizes a serious problem in the United States: Despite being a wealthy nation, food insecurity remains high.

People in the U.S. Are Not Food Secure

In the U.S., the average percentage of households with food insecurity stayed between 10% and 15% from 1995 until 2020, when the numbers shot up. Despite volunteer and government food aid, hunger grew 9% from 2019 to 2020, when 38 million people were hungry.

According to recent research by the Census Bureau from the week before Christmas 2021, 81 million people experienced food insecurity, and 45 million reported not having enough food. Families with children have suffered most: The rate of hunger has been 41% to 83% higher for households with children than adult-only households. READ MORE

Did you know that Kansas is known as “the Wheat State”?  In 2021, it produced nearly one-fourth of all wheat that was harvested in the United States.  Needless to say, we really need Kansas to come up big again this year because the war in Ukraine and a number of other factors have combined to bring us to the precipice of an absolutely horrifying global food crisis.  Unfortunately, things are not going well in Kansas this year.  In fact, wheat crops in much of the state are failing on a massive scale

This time of year, the wheat growing in this part of western Kansas should be thigh-high and lush green.

But as a months-long drought continues to parch the region, many fields tell a different story.

“There’s nothing out there. It’s dead,” farmer Vance Ehmke said, surveying a wheat field near his land in Lane County. “It’s just ankle-high straw.”

At this point, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is telling us that 41 percent of all wheat in Kansas is in “poor” or “very poor” condition. READ MORE

"Gas is over $5 a gallon. Why? Well, oil companies made $93 billion in profits in the first quarter and are spending $88 billion on stock buybacks."

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday slammed oil companies for raking in huge profits on the backs of U.S. consumers and reiterated his case for a windfall tax, a demand that came as President Joe Biden's call for a federal gas tax holiday faced growing pushback from progressives and top officials in his own administration.

"Corporate greed is destroying this economy. Right now, people all over the country are paying $5, $6 for a gallon of gas," said Sanders (I-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Budget Committee. "Meanwhile, in the first quarter of this year, oil company profits were $93 billion, and they're going to spend $88 billion on dividends and stock buybacks for their wealthy stockholders."

"This is outrageous," he added. "Corporate profits soar, working people can't afford to fill up their gas tank. We need to pass a windfall profits tax now." READ MORE

So Honest Joe Biden is now going to give another $1.2 billion to the Ukrainians on top of the sixty or so billion that is already in the pipeline, but who’s counting, particularly as Congress refused to approve having an inspector general to monitor whose pockets will be lined. The money will be printed up without any collateral or “borrowed” and the American taxpayer will somehow have to bear the burden of this latest folly that is ipso facto driving much of the world into recession. And it will no doubt be blamed on Vladimir Putin, a process that is already well under way from president mumbles. But you have to wonder why no one has told Joe that the whole exercise in pushing much of the world towards a catastrophic war is a fool’s errand. But then again, the clowns that the president has surrounded himself with might not be very big on speaking the truth even if they know what that means.

Having followed the Ukraine problem since the United States and its poodles refused to negotiate seriously with Vladimir Putin in the real world, I have had to wonder what is wrong with Washington. We have had the ignorant and impulsive Donald Trump supported by a cast of characters that included the mentally unstable Mike Pompeo and John Bolton followed by Biden with the usual bunch of Democratic Party rejects. By that I mean deep thinkers about social issues who would not be able to run a hot dog stand if that were what they were forced to do to make a living. But they are real good at shouting “freedom” and “democracy” whenever questioned concerning their motives.


The U.S. Government spends on its military, annually, in not just its ‘Defense’ Department, but all of its departments taken together, around $1.5 trillion dollars.  (Much of that money is hidden in the Treasury Department and others, in order to convey to the public the false idea that ‘only’ around 800 billion dollars annually is now being spent for the U.S. military.)
On 25 April 2022, the Stockholm Internal Peace Research Foundation (SIPRI) headlined “World military expenditure passes $2 trillion for first time”, and reported that, “US military spending amounted to $801 billion in 2021, a drop of 1.4 per cent from 2020. The US military burden decreased slightly from 3.7 per cent of GDP in 2020 to 3.5 per cent in 2021.” However, they did not include the full U.S. figure, but only the portions of it that are being paid out by the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department. Consequently, a more realistic global total would have been around $2.8 trillion, which is around twice the approximately $1.5T U.S. annual military expenditure. All of the world’s other 172 calculated countries, together, had spent an amount approximately equivalent to that.
Prior to the creation by U.S. President Harry S. Truman of the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department, on 18 September 1947, replacing the U.S. War Department that had been created on 7 August 1789 by America’s Founders (shortly after the U.S. Constitution had become effective on 4 March 1789), the U.S. was a democracy — however flawed, but a real one, nevertheless.

Ukrainian authorities have banned the country’s main opposition party and seized all its assets, once again undermining the narrative that President Zelensky is presiding over a beacon of democracy.

The country’s Ministry of Justice announced the move via Facebook, revealing that the Opposition Platform — For Life had been shut down and its assets, money and property transferred to the state.

The party had previously had its operations suspended in March after it was accused of being complicit with Russia and being “anti-Ukrainian.”

The ban means that Zelensky’s main political opposition has been eliminated. The OPPL was the second largest party in the country and its popularity surpassed that of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party last year.

Its leader Viktor Medvedchuk, who claims he is merely looking out for the interests of the Ukrainian people by seeking better relations with Russia, was placed under house arrest last month.

The announcement said the party was suspected of acting to “undermine the sovereignty” of Ukraine, with authorities have already banned 10 other political opposition parties for the same reason.


“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” ~ Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

It wasn’t until 1969 that the Supreme Court’s modern First Amendment jurisprudence made it clear that whenever there is a clash between the government and a person over the constitutionality of the person’s speech, the courts will give every benefit and draw every inference to the speaker, and none to the government. This is so because the freedom of speech is a natural right, and thus it is always to be presumed constitutional and lawful.

I have argued elsewhere that because the essence of government is the negation of liberty, this presumption against the government should always be the case. Even when it purports to be protecting liberty, the government – because its existence without unanimous consent is based on stealing liberty and property – should always be presumed wrong, immoral, unconstitutional and unlawful. But the courts have only made that so in the case of the freedom of speech.

I offer this brief philosophical and historical background in order to examine just how twisted the government’s views on speech have become in the Trump and Biden years, as the Department of Justice in both administrations has persecuted mercilessly and sought to prosecute aggressively the Australian journalist Julian Assange for his exercise of the freedom of speech.


Dear President Biden:

The recent news that British courts approved Julian Assange’s U.S. extradition is the occasion for this letter. Mr. Assange is one of the most astute publishers, activists, and intellectuals of my generation; I write imploring you to drop all charges against him and other Wikileaks affiliated individuals– past, present, and future.

I was born in 1970. Easy access to my parents’ Time Life photo book series had me opposing the Vietnam War by elementary school. The pictures said it all. I pursued anti-war activism in college during the Persian Gulf War, and as a CSU Sacramento junior faculty member in the early 2000’s, I lectured on the failed foreign policy leading to Afghanistan and Iraq invasions. All of this work relied on excellent journalism pursued outside official U.S. media channels.

In 2006, Wikileaks made perfect sense because we need truthful war journalism outside Pentagon control. Brave Wikileaks warriors have risked their lives to shed light on wartime’s truths beyond corporate media propaganda. Your pursuit of Mr. Assange reveals wartime journalism’s threat to the Biden White House. Current U.S. military failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere fuel the need for independent journalism more than ever. READ MORE

Let's not be naïve about the symbolic importance of the US putting Assange on trial. It would be an alibi for cracking down on journalism for every repressive, authoritarian government in the world.

The announcement by UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would be extradited to the US to face espionage charges may be news that many consider to be of lesser importance. We are, after all, in the midst of both a war inside of European borders and an economic crisis. The seemingly endless Assange saga has been going on for 12 years, and there is undoubtedly fatigue on the part of news consumers who have lost interest in the story.

But we should be interested, because this is about far more than Assange. And the stakes are very high.

The reaction from international journalism and free speech organizations to the decision by the UK government (which Assange will certainly appeal) has been close to uniform condemnation. Amnesty International issued a statement in which they stated, "allowing Julian Assange to be extradited to the US would put him at great risk and sends a chilling message to journalists the world over." Similarly, Pen International stated that, "invoking the Espionage Act for practices that include receiving and publishing classified information sends a dangerous signal to journalists and publishers worldwide."


Ever since U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel formally ordered the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the U.S. last week, press freedom advocates around the world have been mobilizing.

Assange Defense, on whose advisory board I serve, is organizing a national and international campaign to pressure U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden to drop the extradition request and dismiss the charges against Assange. The stakes could not be higher.

The charges, which include 17 counts under the infamous Espionage Act, could result in 175 years in prison for the journalist who exposed U.S. war crimes.

Last week, Assange’s brother, filmmaker Gabriel Shipton, wrote in an email to Truthout,

“UK Home Secretary has decided today that any publisher who exposes national security information of an allied country may face extradition to two lifetimes in prison. Julian will appeal this decision and this once in a lifetime fight for freedom of the press continues.”

Assange’s indictment is based on WikiLeaks’s 2010-2011 disclosures of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the military prison at Guantánamo. Those revelations included 400,000 field reports about the Iraq War; 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians; and systematic rape, torture and murder committed by Iraqi forces after the U.S. military “handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad.” WikiLeaks also disclosed the Afghan War Logs, which are 90,000 reports of more civilian casualties by coalition forces than the U.S. military had admitted to. And its revelations additionally included the Guantánamo Files, 779 secret reports showing that 150 innocent people had been held there for years and documenting the torture and abuse of 800 men and boys in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


In March of 2020 COVID-19 spread to the shores of the United States, introducing a medical threat that had all the signs of devastating families from sea to shining sea. But in the shadows, slipping in under the veil of a potentially deadly pandemic, another threat loomed. This threat, known as ESG, was not airborne or viral in the traditional sense. This threat was birthed in the imaginations of banks, corporations, and governments, and much like COVID, this threat is going to alter the life of millions of people worldwide.

ESG is an acronym that stands for Environmental, Social (Justice), and (Corporate) Governance. The goal of ESG, as World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab stated in Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is to utilize investors to move corporations into a more socially progressive direction; moving technologies and businesses away from the current models of doing business to a new stakeholder method of business.


The Federal Reserve Board’s ostensible policy aim is to manage the money supply and bank credit in a way that maintains price stability. That usually means fighting inflation, which is blamed entirely on “too much employment,” euphemized as “too much money.”[1] In Congress’s more progressive days, the Fed was charged with a second objective: to promote full employment. The problem is that full employment is supposed to be inflationary – and the way to fight inflation is to reduce employment, which is viewed simplistically as being determined by the supply of credit.

So in practice, one of the Fed’s two directives has to give. And hardly by surprise, the “full employment” aim is thrown overboard – if indeed it ever was taken seriously by the Fed’s managers. In the Carter Administration (1977-80) leading up to the great price inflation of 1980, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker expressed his economic philosophy in a note card that he kept in his pocket, to whip out and demonstrate where his priority lay. The card charted the weekly wage of the average U.S. construction worker.


Afghans for a Better Tomorrow said President Joe Biden "should move quickly and decisively at this critical moment; time is of the essence."

After a massive earthquake killed more than 1,000 people and leveled entire villages in southeast Afghanistan, the Biden administration on Wednesday faced fresh calls to return the roughly $7 billion in central bank assets it seized from the war-torn and impoverished nation as it attempts to recover from the catastrophe.

"Aid organizations have long cited the frozen assets as well as the sanctions regime as insurmountable barriers to ensuring Afghans receive basic needs and emergency aid," tweeted the advocacy group Afghans for a Better Tomorrow. "[President Joe Biden] should move quickly and decisively at this critical moment; time is of the essence."

The earthquake added to the already horrific humanitarian crisis facing ordinary Afghans, tens of millions of whom are facing acute hunger as the nation's economy—strangled by U.S. and European sanctions and other punitive measures—verges on total collapse. The United Nations has warned that 97% of the Afghan population could be plunged into poverty this year.

Clare Daly, a socialist member of the European Parliament, demanded Wednesday that Biden administration officials "give back the billions they stole like crooks from the Afghan people."

Those funds, Daly wrote on Twitter, are "needed now more than ever to address the devastation."


Since Britain withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, there has been practically no discussion in Britain of the atrocities that were committed by British soldiers in Afghanistan.

Instead, the focus has been almost entirely on the limited improvements that NATO made in Kabul, whereas the plight of the rural areas in Afghanistan that were the victims of NATO occupation have been totally ignored. American soldiers committed horrendous atrocities in these areas, ranging from systematic rape and sexual assault to massacres of civilians. Australian soldiers also committed similar atrocities, such as tying up children and slitting their throats. British soldiers also committed atrocities in these areas, most of which are simply not known, because the findings of the British government’s official inquiry into these atrocities, Operation Northmoor, have been classified. Thus, we can only rely on information disclosed in those rare cases that have made it to court, and on information leaked by British military detectives and revealed in media investigations.

Despite these limitations, there is some information available in the public domain about serious atrocities that British soldiers committed in Afghanistan. This article will focus on the information that is currently available about how British soldiers abused and murdered Afghan children in 2011 and 2012; this information ought to be kept in mind when the Conservative Partythe Labour Party and the media vociferously defend the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and laud the role that Britain played in occupying the country.


The SCOTUS is about to use it's ill-gotten power on behalf of the fossil fuel industry to cripple America's ability to meet the challenge of climate change.

It appears that Republicans on the Supreme Court are preparing to light our planet on fire.

Longtime readers of my work and listeners to my program know that the Supreme Court has seized for itself extraordinary powers that the Framers of the Constitution never intended for it to have. There are summaries here and here, for example.

This is not an opinion unique to me or my book The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America: two Harvard Law professors just this week wrote an article for The Atlantic that lays out pretty much the same arguments.

And now it appears Republicans on the Court are about to use that ill-gotten power—on behalf of the fossil fuel industry—to cripple America's ability to meet the challenge of climate change.

It's a bizarre concept and just a fig-leaf to hide the fossil fuel industry's desire to end government regulation and kill subsidies of green energy. To get there, they want to turn regulatory agency rule-making upside-down.


A half-century long power play, led by corporations, Wall Street, governments, and central banks, has gone badly wrong.

The blame game over surging prices is on. Was it too much central-bank money being pumped out for too long that caused inflation to take off? Was it China, where most physical production had moved before the pandemic locked down the country and disrupted global supply chains? Was it Russia, whose invasion of Ukraine took a large chunk out of the global supply of gas, oil, grains, and fertilizers? Was it some surreptitious shift from pre-pandemic austerity to unrestricted fiscal largesse?

The answer is one that test-takers never encounter: All of the above and none of the above.

Pivotal economic crises frequently evoke multiple explanations that are all correct while missing the point. When Wall Street collapsed in 2008, triggering the global Great Recession, various explanations were offered: regulatory capture by financiers who had replaced industrialists in the capitalist pecking order; a cultural proclivity toward risky finance; failure by politicians and economists to distinguish between a new paradigm and a massive bubble; and other theories, too. All were valid, but none went to the heart of the matter.


If the Fed continues down this path—as it has signaled it will—the economy will be plunged into a recession

The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point, the biggest single increase in interest rates since 1994. It’s another move in the Fed’s effort to tackle the fastest inflation in four decades.

I understand the Fed’s urgency, but it has entered dangerous territory. If the Fed continues down this path—as it has signaled it will—the economy will be plunged into a recession. Every time over the last half century the Fed has raised interest rates this much and this quickly, it has caused a recession.

Besides, interest rate increases will not remedy the major causes of the current inflation—huge pent-up worldwide demand from two years of pandemic, shortages of goods and services responding to that demand, Putin’s war in Ukraine, and big profitable corporations with enough pricing power to use inflation as a cover for pushing up prices even further.

The Fed assumes that price increases are being driven by wage increases—so-called “wage-price inflation.” That’s incorrect. Wages are lagging behind inflation. A more accurate description of what we’re now seeing might be called “profit-price inflation”—prices driven upward by corporations seeking increased profits. (See chart below, from the Economic Policy Institute.)


If people throw away money, opportunities, and their very lives chasing destructive delusions, then we might as well revert to divine right of kings or the selection of leaders by lottery.

For nearly two centuries, literature from Marx and Dickens to Thomas Picketty and Barbara Ehrenreich has dissected and denounced the machinations of the greedy rich. Turn their pockets inside out, make them pay their fair share, and a more just society might be possible.

That sentiment is not wrong. If someone like Elon Musk has a higher net worth than the gross domestic product of a country like Ukraine, with over 40 million people, something is out of whack. But what if the analysis is incomplete? Suppose there is more collusion with the rich and the powerful, and not just from their public relations people, lawyers, and financial advisers, but from tens of millions of people who derive no benefit?

Josh Marshall, the editor of Talking Points Memo, wrote about a conservative acquaintance. Years ago this person, an immigrant from Britain, admitted that he didn't like firearms and didn't want them near his children. But he agreed with the NRA position on guns as a matter of ideological solidarity. Lately, he bought a firearm and sees himself protecting home and family from the crazed criminal hordes a la Night of the Living Dead.


People love to hate, and they really love to hate on big companies – whether or not they have a reason to. I especially dislike it when the latter happens. Companies (big companies included) are the very backbone of our economy, and they often get a bad rep for little or no reason. But sometimes there is a reason, or as in this case, several solid reasons, as we’ll see below. Which brings me to the next point: why are we writing this article? ZME Science is a science website (crazy, right?), and this is not strictly science, at least not in the way our regular articles are. But we also write about environmental issues, especially when they affect many of us, and especially when we can make a difference.

Nestle is a Swiss multinational food and beverage company. According to Wikipedia, their products include baby food, bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks. Twenty-nine of their brands have sales of over $1 billion a year and have over 8,000 brands. They have 447 factories across 194 countries and employ around 333,000 people. They truly are what you would call a giant. They’re also considered to be one of the best employers in Europe with six LEED certifications and sponsor numerous activities and sustainable projects. Looking at only these stats, it would seem that Nestle is one of the “good guys”… but then why are they so hated? Let’s take it step by step.


Nearly all of Spain faced an "extreme fire risk" in recent days as hundreds of people were evacuated in the northwestern Zamora region.

Hundreds of people have been forced from their homes and tens of thousands of acres have been burned through by wildfires across Spain, with global climate experts warning that nearly the entire country is at risk of facing the flames.

"Nearly all the country faces extreme fire risk Friday as a result of the heatwave and drought" Spain and much of Europe is experiencing, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported Friday, noting that a Saharan dust cloud that's drifted north toward the continent may also have an impact on public health.

Roughly 61,000 acres of land in the northwestern province of Zamora had been destroyed by the wildfires as of Sunday and several Spanish cities reported temperatures topping 104°F in recent days.


In the Lents neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, residents gathered at a public forum last June to voice their concerns about the city’s growing population of homeless individuals.

Over the last decade, rent grew twice as fast in Portland as the rest of the country, and the estimated number of people experiencing homelessness increased by nearly 30%. The effects of those dynamics were on full display in Lents, one of the city’s most racially diverse areas and among the neighborhoods where home prices had been rising the fastest.

Encampments had sprung up in parks and along bike and walking paths, and the tension between housed and unhoused residents simmered. Residents desperately wanted someone to address the litter, drug use and mental health crises they’d seen.

Months earlier, the residents had expressed their frustrations to a police commander. This time, their guest was the commissioner of Portland’s Housing Bureau.

Lents resident Martin Johnson complained about the trash left in yards and on streets. “We clean it up. They come back, we clean it up. They come back,” he said. Johnson noted that he and his wife both carry concealed weapons.


Protests erupted in response to extremist right-wing Supreme Court justices’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, the result of the far right’s decades-long disinformation and funding campaign to restrict bodily autonomy and the right to an abortion in the U.S.

The Court ruled 6 to 3 to overturn 50 years of precedent set by Roe, the landmark 1973 ruling that established abortion protections across the country. The decision will have wide-reaching and devastating consequences for the nation’s 330 million people. At least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion now that Roe is gone, and health experts have said that many people will die as a result.

Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett ruled as the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a concurring judgment with the majority. Dissenting from the opinion were Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.


Confirming the findings of several major journalistic investigations, the United Nations Human Rights Office said Friday that Israeli forces fired the shots that killed beloved Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and wounded her colleague last month as they covered a raid in the occupied West Bank.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement that it is “deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation” in the six weeks since Abu Akleh’s killing, which sparked international outrage.

“We at the U.N. Human Rights Office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident,” said Shamdasani. “All information we have gathered — including official information from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney general — is consistent with the finding that the shots that killed Abu Akleh and injured her colleague Ali Sammoudi came from Israeli Security Forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”


An unidentified male motorist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa intentionally rammed into several women on Friday night as abortion rights defenders peacefully protested the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The driver of a Ford truck maneuvered around multiple cars at a red light and drove through the tail end of a group of demonstrators who were crossing a street downtown, running over one woman’s ankle and sending her to the hospital, witnesses told HuffPost.

“He tried to murder them,” said Lyz Lenz, a local journalist and witness to the attack. “These women see him coming and a bunch of people put their hands out to stop him. And he just keeps going.”

Video footage recorded by Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker shows several women standing in front of the truck with outstretched arms, trying to persuade the driver to stop. But the motorist keeps plowing forward, knocking down and injuring several of them.


Across the globe, mask mandates are gone; airplanes, bars and sports stadiums are teeming; and governments, corporations, and bosses increasingly exhort and extort people to return to cubicles and office buildings, classrooms, and shopping malls. Yet, despite this push to return to “business as usual,” we must act to ensure that the pandemic-generated focus on prisons and jails — their deplorable conditions, the high rates of deaths, and the status quo of medical neglect — does not waver.

During the initial panic of the pandemic many nations, including the United States, were forced to recognize that prisons and jails were among the spaces hardest hit by COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In April 2020, Cook County Jail in Chicago was the nation’s top COVID-19 hot spot. Federal prison populations had a rate of COVID-19 three times higher than neighboring communities.


"There is a growing perception that the global 'free market' economy is inherently an enemy to the natural world, to human health, and freedom to industrial workers."

The great progressive Harvard economist and prolific best-selling author, John Kenneth Galbraith, wrote that, "Ideas may be superior to vested interest. They are also very often the children of vested interest." I wished he had written that assertion before I took Economic 101 at Princeton. One of the vested ideas taught as dogma then was the comparative advantage theory developed by the early 19th century British economist, David Ricardo. He gave the example of trading Portuguese wine for British textiles with both countries coming out winners due to their superior efficiencies in producing their native products.

Ricardo's theory drove policy and political power for two centuries fortifying the corporate and conservative proponents of alleged "free markets" (See: Destroying the Myths of Market Fundamentalism) and "free trade." The theory's endurance was remarkably resistant to contrary obvious empirical evidence. Whether Ricardo envisioned or not, "free trade" became an instrument of colonialism entrenching poor nation's in extracting and exporting of natural resources while becoming almost totally dependent on western nations' value-added manufactured products. "Iron ore for iron weapons" as one observer summed it up. Tragically, too often, the weapons came with the invaders/oppressors.


The Democratic Party has a winning message: "Stop dangerous extremists."

"Trump and his allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy."—the Honorable J. Michael Luttig

Speaking slowly but powerfully, Judge Michael Luttig last week may have handed Democrats what has so far eluded them: a winning message for the midterm elections. Given all the revelations to date from the January 6 hearings—as well as five-plus years of Republican malevolence—Democrats can campaign this fall against a GOP full of "dangerous extremists" and run by "dangerous extremists."

The evidence is voluminous, though rarely is it thematically connected. Campaigning against "dangerous extremists" does that. What else can you call political leaders who condone overthrowing a democratically elected government, incite white nationalists yet don't disavow their violence, allow Covid-19 to spread and kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, want to imprison women who have abortions, support unbridled access to automatic weapons, ignore the climate crisis, menace LGBTQ youth, and routinely disregard norms and laws? And are led by an ex-president who—in a first—put his vice president's life in jeopardy.


“Where will the state’s nuclear waste go?” was the headline of a story bannered last month across the front page of Connecticut’s largest newspaper, the Hartford Courant.

What, indeed, is to be done about the nuclear waste that has been produced at the two Millstone nuclear power plants which have been operating in Connecticut? (They are now the only nuclear power plants running in New England.)

And what is to be done about the nuclear waste at other nuclear power plants?

Decades ago, one scheme was to put it on rockets to be sent to the sun. But the very big problem, it was realized, is that one-in-100 rockets undergo major malfunctions on launch, mostly by blowing up.

As Forbes magazine has pointed out, because of the “possibility of launch failure” if “your payload is radioactive or hazardous and you have an explosion on launch…all of that waste will be uncontrollably distributed across Earth.”

So, scratch that idea.


To Reverend Andrew Wilkes, inequality is a dire and immoral injustice. The pastor and political scientist spends every Sunday considering how to build a more equitable economy with his New York congregation.

“From unemployment to health care outcomes, virtually every issue hits poor folks the hardest,” he told me.

As a result, pastors like him have more prayers to shepherd, more funerals to perform, and more concerns to ease — “not because it’s God’s will or because fate declared it,” he said, “but because identifiable policy choices have created burdens on people that should be lifted.”

These choices include the lapse of pandemic-era protections for housing and paychecks, the unrealized necessity of universal healthcare, the prohibitive costs of higher education, and the destruction of voting rights and our environment, he said.

These are choices that “haunt the lives of folk who are of faith.”


Today, world capitalism’s neo-liberal globalization is best characterized as a new form of organization where global value chains have become the dominant form of production, employing workers for one out of every five jobs on the planet. From low to high tech commodities, basic consumer goods to heavy capital equipment, food to services, goods for the world market are now produced across many countries, integrated through global value chains.

Led by the dominant capitalist-imperialist nations, especially the U.S. and China, the system involves the capture and transfer of surplus value from workers in poorer countries to leading corporations in the advanced countries. Today, global value chain corporations that represent only 15 percent of all trading firms worldwide, capture some 80 percent of total trade.

This unprecedented globalization and monopoly concentration of capital is driven by the inherent contradictions in the capitalist system itself. Ever declining average rates of profit, as repeatedly demonstrated by British Marxist economist Michael Roberts, have been countered worldwide by ever intensifying attacks on working people, including union-busting at home, systemic racism/sexism/LBGTQI+ discrimination, massive social cutbacks, anti-labor legislation, layoffs, speed-up, part time casualization of work, forced overtime, cuts in fringe benefits, obliteration of pensions and the imposition of multiple-tier wage systems. When these prove insufficient to stem profit declines, the ruling elite embark on massive drives to transfer production [de-industrialization] outside their borders to further free themselves from the gains workers have won during decades of struggle.


“The most reliable and most widely accepted view of the etymology of the name “Baghdad” is that it is Middle Persian compound of Bag “god” + dād “given,” translating to “god-given” or “God’s gift,” whence Modern Persian Baɣdād. The name is pre-Islamic and the origins are unclear.”

Johnny Wink, a former colleague alongside whom I taught for 42 years,  possesses  one of the most fertile minds I’ve ever had the privilege of engaging. His legendary intellectual prowess is expansive. In addition to mastering all matters of metrics, grammar, linguistics, writing, literary criticism, current events, world history, geography, and composing poems and essays on myriad subjects, he speaks and reads Greek, French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Latin, one of the most popular classes he teaches. And he’s dabbled in Arabic and Hebrew.

Johnny’s known for sending almost daily emails to former/current students and colleagues and friends across the planet. His missives include original poems, quotations, critiques of texts covering a range of grammatical, syntactical, and revelatory interpretive and argumentative fine points on  composition,  language and its idiosyncrasies,  its cadence, its beauty, and its uses as well as its abuses.


Arctic sea ice June 2022 - why the situation is so dangerous

Arctic sea ice extent has fallen strongly in June 2022. On June 22, 2022, Arctic sea ice extent was among the lowest on record for the time of year, as illustrated by the above image, adapted from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC Chartic).

The image below, from an animation by Zachary Labe, shows Arctic sea ice extent up to June 20, 2022, based on Vishop data. The yellow line is the year 2022. The white line shows extent for the year 2012, when it reached a record minimum in September. The blue line shows extent the year 2020, when the minimum in September was second lowest.

The image below, adapted from Vishop, shows that on June 23, 2022, global sea ice extent was at a record low for the time of year.

[ adapted from NOAA ]

The fact that sea ice is so low for the time of the year is the more striking as we are currently in the depths of a persistent La Niña, which suppresses the temperature rise.

El Niños typically occur every 3 to 5 years, according to NOAA and as also illustrated by the NOAA image below, so the upcoming El Niño can be expected to occur soon.

The NOAA image below indicates that going from the bottom of a La Niña to the peak of an El Niño could make a difference of more than half a degree Celsius (0.5°C or 0.9°F).

Furthermore, the rise in sunspots from May 2020 to July 2025 could make a difference of some 0.15°C (0.27°F). The next El Niño looks set to line up with a high peak in sunspots, in a cataclysmic alignment that could push up the temperature enough to cause dramatic sea ice loss in the Arctic, resulting in runaway temperature rise by 2026.

The NSIDC compilation below illustrates how much multi-year sea ice has already declined over the years. The top panel shows the age of Arctic sea ice for the March 12 to 18 period in (a) 1985 and (b) 2022. The oldest ice, greater than 4 years old, is in red. Plot (c) shows the timeseries from 1985 through 2022 of percent cover of the Arctic Ocean domain (inset, purple region) by different sea ice ages during the March 12 to 18 period.

On June 18, 2022, Arctic sea ice volume was among the lowest on record for the time of year, as illustrated by the image below, adapted from Polarportal.

Blue Ocean Event occurs when virtually all sea ice disappears and the surface color changes from white (sea ice) to blue (ocean). According to many, a Blue Ocean Event starts once Arctic sea ice extent falls below 1 million km².

The image on the right shows a trend pointing at zero Arctic sea ice volume by September 2027.

Note that the volume data in the image are averages for the month September ⁠— the minimum for each year is even lower. Furthermore, since zero volume implies zero extent, this indicates that a Blue Ocean Event (extent below 1 million km²) could happen well before 2027.

The Naval Research Laboratory one-month animation below shows Arctic sea ice thickness up to June 18, 2022, with 8 days of forecasts added.

The above animation shows a dramatic fall in sea ice thickness over a large area, while sea ice is disappearing altogether in some places. This fall in thickness is mostly due to warm water from the Atlantic Ocean that is melting the sea ice hanging underneath the surface. This is where the sea ice constitutes the latent heat buffer, consuming incoming heat in the process of melting.
The University of Bremen image below also shows sea ice thickness, on June 23, 2022. The image shows a large area near the North Pole where sea ice is less than 20 cm thick.

The NASA Worldview image below shows the situation on June 24, 2022. Plenty of water is showing up as close as 200 km to the North Pole.

Close to the coast of Siberia, where much of the sea ice has disappeared altogether, the decline is due for a large part to warm water from rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean.
Sea ice has disappeared altogether in the Bering Strait, for a great part due to warm water from rivers in Alaska, especially the Yukon River, the Kuskokwim River and the Copper River, as illustrated by the above NOAA image, which shows sea surface temperatures as high as 15.6°C or 60.08°F.

On June 10, 2022, the sea surface temperature anomaly from 1981-2011 in the Bering Strait was as high as 15.5°C or 27.9°F (at green circle), illustrated by the above image. In 1981-2011, the Bering Strait was still largely frozen at this time of year.

The NOAA image below illustrates how the Gulf Stream is pushing warm water toward the Arctic, with sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic reaching as high as 32.1°C or 89.78°F on June 19, 2022.

Heatwaves look set to continue on the Northern Hemisphere, extending heat over the Arctic Ocean and thus affecting Arctic sea ice from above, while warm water from rivers will cause more melting at the surface, and while rising ocean heat will continue to cause more melting of the ice underneath the surface. If this continues, we can expect a new record low for sea ice in September 2022 and the joint loss of the latent heat buffer and the loss of albedo will push up temperatures dramatically over the Arctic.

Keep in ind that even if a lot of sea ice remains, the situation is dangerous, if not even more dangerous. The continuing La Niña could cause a lot of thin sea ice to remain at the surface of the Arctic Ocean this year. The more sea ice remains, the less ocean heat can be transferred from the Arctic Ocean to the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean, which means that more heat remains in the Arctic Ocean. As the latent heat buffer of the sea ice underneath the surface disappears, more of this heat could then reach sediments at the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean, threatening eruptions to occur of seafloor methane (from hydrates and from free gas underneath the hydrates). The methane could similarly push up temperatures dramatically over the Arctic, and globally over the next few years.
[ The Buffer has gone, feedback #14 on the Feedbacks page ]


In conclusion, temperatures could rise strongly in the Arctic soon, due to sea ice loss in combination with an upcoming El Niño and a peak in sunspots, with the potential to drive humans extinct as early as in 2025, while temperatures would continue to skyrocket in 2026, making it in many respects rather futile to speculate about what will happen beyond 2026. At the same time, the right thing to do now is to help avoid the worst things from happening, through comprehensive and effective action as described in the Climate Plan.
• Blue Ocean Event
• Polarportal
• Naval Research Laboratory
• University of Bremen
• NASA Worldview satellite
• NOAA - sea surface temperature

• nullschool

• Albedo, latent heat, insolation and more

• Feedbacks in the Arctic

• Extinction

• Climate Plan


Iran proposes new currency for trade with China, Russia, India, Pakistan in Shanghai Cooperation Org

31,821 views | Jun 3, 2022 | 12.5 Minutes

Iran proposed a new currency for trade with China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). This could help circumvent illegal Western sanctions and weaken US dollar hegemony.

Criminality of US empire and deep state with historian Aaron Good

8,468 views | Streamed live on Jun 24, 2022 | 2 Hours

Multipolarista host Ben Norton speaks with historian Aaron Good about his book "American Exception: Empire and the Deep State," detailing the breakdown of democracy, the criminality that lies at the heart of US government policy, and the corporate interests driving it.

You can get the book here:

Expect mid-week additions come Thursday mornings.

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