Friday, March 28, 2014

03-28-14 Activist Newsletter

March 28, 2014, Issue 200

1.   Quotes Of The Month: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964)
2.   What Really Happened In Ukraine?
3.   Crimeans Vote To Join Russia
4.   Is The U.S. Backing Neo-Nazis In Ukraine?
5.   The Crux Of The U.S.-Russian Rivalry
6.   Spanish Women Fight To Keep Abortion
7.   Int’l Women's Day Event In New Paltz
8.   Call For Stronger Women’s Movement
9.   Facts About American Women
10. U.S. Youth Protest Tar Sands Pipeline
11. The March Of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption
12. Total Renewable Energy For U.S.
13. At First, Global Warming To Hit Asia Hardest
14. Uganda, Nigeria Pass Bigoted Anti-LGBTQ Laws
15. U.S. Backs Uprising, Oas Backs Venezuela
15. China: Another Right Turn?
16. Obama Says He Will Reform Spy Program
17. Adjunct Professors — The Working Poor
18. What Adjuncts Are Demanding:
19. Academia’s Rich And Poor
20. No Jobs For Over 60% Of Job Seekers
21. The Economics Of Middle Class Collapse
22. Books: India’s Contradictions


We have multiple articles this week devoted to particular subjects — Ukraine-Crimea, Women’s History Month, the Environment, Adjunct Professors (“the working poor”), and Foreign Affairs — so we have grouped each topic together. The Ukrainian situation is complex and it is important to understand what is really going on because you won’t find it in most of the corporate media. Our articles on this topic include a wrap-up analysis of what is happening, a piece on the fascist element involved in the coup, and a brief history of U.S.-Russian relations. 

1.   QUOTES OF THE MONTH: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964)
New Hampshire-born Elizabeth Gurley Flynn became active in socialist groups and gave her first public speech when she was 15, on "Women Under Socialism." She was a feminist supporting women’s causes all her life. She began making speeches for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) for which she was expelled from high school in 1907 when she was 17. She then became a full-time organizer for the IWW. Before World War I, which she vociferously opposed, Flynn participated in organizing strikes, including historic walkouts by textile workers in Lawrence, Mass, and Paterson, N.J. In 1920, she helped help found the American Civil Liberties Union and serve on its national board. From 1927 to 1930 she chaired the International Labor Defense, supporting workers and political prisoners.

After a few years of serious illness she returned to public life, joining the U.S. Communist Party in 1936 and writing a feminist column for the Daily Worker for years. Flynn and other Communist members were expelled from the ACLU in 1939. Two years later she was elected to the Communist Party's Central Committee. During World War II she ran unsuccessfully for Congress. Throughout the war she devoted herself to improving the pay and conditions of women workers. Postwar anti-communist government repression resulted in the arrest of many party leaders for “conspiracy to overthrow” the government. Convicted in 1953, she served over two years in prison. In 1961, she was elected National Chairperson of the Communist Party. She remained chair of the party until her death from a heart attack on a trip to the Soviet Union. She was given a state funeral in Moscow’s Red Square. In 1976, the ACLU restored Flynn's membership posthumously. IWW songster Joe Hill composed "Rebel Girl" in Flynn’s honor when she was 25. Here is a four-minute video “Rebel Girl,” introduced by Flynn, and rendered by great country singer Hazel Dickens:

• I hated poverty. I was determined to do something about the bad conditions under which our family and all around us suffered. I have stuck to that purpose for 46 years. I consider in so doing I have been a good American. I have spent my life among the American workers all over this country, slept in their homes, eaten at their tables. They are the majority of the people who have the inalienable right in our view to govern the country.

• The IWW has been accused of pushing women to the front. This is not true. Rather, the women have not been kept in back, and so they have naturally moved to the front.

• History has a long-range perspective. It ultimately passes stern judgment on tyrants and vindicates those who fought, suffered, were imprisoned, and died for human freedom, against political oppression and economic slavery.

• What is a labor victory? I maintain that it is a twofold thing. Workers must gain economic advantage, but they must also gain revolutionary spirit in order to achieve a complete victory. For workers to gain a few cents more a day, a few minutes less a day, and go back to work with the same psychology, the same attitude toward society is to achieve a temporary gain and not a lasting victory.

• The silk worker may make beautiful things, fine shimmering silk. When it is hung up in the window of Altman's or Macy's or Wanamaker's it looks beautiful. But the silk worker never gets a chance to use a single yard of it. And the producing of the beautiful thing instead of being a pleasure is instead a constant aggravation to the silk worker. They make a beautiful thing in the shop and then they come home to poverty, misery, and hardship. They wear a cotton dress while they are weaving the beautiful silk for some demi monde in New York to wear.

• What precipitated the big [Lawrence, Mass.] strike in 1912 — one of the great historical struggles in our country — was a political act on the part of the State. The hours of labor were reduced to 54 hours. You can imagine what they were before. That was only for women and children, but it affected something like 75% of the workers in the mills. On the first pay after the law went into effect, the employers cut the wages proportionately to the cut in hours and the wages were on the average of $7 and $8 a week at that time, and the highest pay to loom fixers and more highly skilled were getting possibly, $15 and $20. It was a margin between mere subsistence and starvation and so there was a spontaneous strike.”
Pro-Russian supporters  rally in Donetsk eastern Ukraine, after Crimea annexation.

By Jack A. Smith

 “The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then.
Henry Kissinger, Washington Post, March 6, 2014

“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard (1998)

Russia has taught the United States a stern and embarrassing lesson in Ukraine as a riposte to Washington-backed regime change in Kiev, the capital. “So far,” Moscow in effect warned a thoroughly shocked Washington, “but no further.” President Vladimir Putin then annexed Crimea.

Nothing quite like this this move on the geopolitical chessboard has happened since the U.S. became the world’s single superpower over two decades ago.

The objective of the Obama Administration’s support for a coup to remove an essentially neutral Ukrainian government (though neighborly toward Russia) was to install a regime leaning toward — and economically dependent upon — the United States and the European Union. The purpose is to compromise Russia’s revival as a regional power critical of U.S. policies.

The neutrality of the Kiev government, if not close ties, is exceptionally important to Moscow for its own long-term regional goals, and it will work toward repairing relations in time. Considerable support for Russia remains in the country.

Washington was obviously disoriented by Russia’s unexpected move in Ukraine, and perhaps even more so when Putin shrugged off President Obama’s subsequent threats. But for all the anti-Russia
rhetoric, sanctions and other punishments emanating from the U.S. and EU, the danger of an armed clash or greatly heightened East-West tensions is relatively remote at the moment, but if the confrontations continue there may be more serious problems ahead.

Eye to eye, and worlds apart.
On March 21, Putin said “he wanted to halt the cycle of tit-for-tat retribution between Moscow 
and Washington,” according to the New York Times. 

But it is too early for the self-righteous Obama Administration and Congress to simmer down. Russia in effect challenged the global superpower — an act of supreme lèse-majesté — and this requires considerable posturing, tough rhetoric and a dose of pain from an offended Washington.

From Moscow’s point of view, however, the U.S. and UE made a deep penetration into Russia’s long recognized sphere of influence and Putin had to respond with some degree of equivalence. He easily found it in Crimea. 

In a speech in Brussels March 26, Obama took issue at Putin’s recent statement that the U.S. was hypocritical in its protestations about Crimea, given Washington’s illegal and unjust eight-year war against Iraq. The American president said he personally opposed the Iraq war (though as a senator he always voted in favor of the war budget) and then suggested the Crimea annexation was worse: "But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.” One person died in Crimea, nearly One million in Iraq.

The U.S. and EU so far have imposed relatively mild sanctions on Russia though warning they would be significantly intensified should Moscow engage in other military moves in Ukraine, which President Putin earlier ruled out. On March 24, the Group of 8 wealthy countries announced it would not invite Russia to future meetings, as least temporarily, and also decided not to attend the scheduled upcoming G8 meeting in the Olympic city of Sochi but will gather at the “G7” in Brussels next June. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia wasn’t disturbed by the development.

Incongruously, the act that provoked the Crimean referendum — the U.S.-backed right wing coup against the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich — received far less attention from the American media and hardly any outrage from Washington and most European capitals, even over the fact that organized fascist elements joined the protests leading to the so-called “revolution.”

Washington intrigued to bring about a coup as punishment Yanukovich's  recent decision to rely on Russian aid and not that offered by the European Union (which was backed by the U.S.) to help bail Ukraine out of a severe economic crisis.

The Ukraine government had been in discussions with the EU to produce a tentative proposal last year. It was short of the country’s needs but better than nothing, even though it also demanded economic, social  and infrastructural “reforms” to get the funding. Last fall, Moscow then offered Ukraine an exceptionally generous aid package — a better deal for the government and the working class than the pending proposition from the austerity-minded EU and the conservative International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The entire situation could possibly have been avoided. According to journalist, author and Russia expert Stephen Cohen, interviewed on Democracy Now Jan. 30:  “The European Union in November told the government of Ukraine, ‘If you want to sign an economic relationship with us, you cannot sign one with Russia.’ Why not? Putin has said, ‘Why don’t the three of us have an arrangement? We’ll help Ukraine. The West will help Ukraine.’”

The EU and U.S. refused. Our guess is that they wanted to control Ukraine for themselves, not least because it was the most important Soviet republic after Russia itself— a blow to Moscow — as well as a military threat.

Why a coup over this? The White House has long sought to separate Kiev from Moscow since the implosion of the Soviet Union in order to eventually move American power and NATO bases directly up to Ukraine’s Russian border. Washington has been engaged for about two decades in seeking to transform Ukraine into a pro-Western state situated within Washington’s sphere of influence and leadership.

The U.S. thought it achieved its objective when it helped engineer Ukraine’s so-called “Orange Revolution” in 2004, but this victory was short-lived — the victim of infighting and treachery in a basically oligarch-controlled democratic political system that of course still exists. Yanucovich’s election in 2010 was a major turning of the page, and now seems to be turning back.

One proof of Washington’s role in regime change materialized when a secretly taped telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, and Geoffrey Platt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, appeared on YouTube Feb. 6. The call was made weeks earlier. They were so sure of a coup several weeks ahead that they were discussing who would be the U.S. candidate to replace Yanukovich when the day came. There were three possible “moderate Democratic” pro-U.S. choices..

Victoria Nuland with neo-Nazi Oleg Tyahnybok,
(Svoboda Party) (left), politician Vitali Klitschko
(ctr.), Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (right).
Nuland pushed for Arseniy Yatseniuk, leader of the rightwing opposition Fatherland party, and Platt agreed. Yatseniuk, a 39-year-old banker, lawyer and politician, was named Prime Minister Feb. 27, five days after Yanukovich was ejected. Nuland’s by now infamous “Fuck the E.U.” comment on the tape reflected Washington’s displeasure that the European Union was not moving fast enough to take full advantage of the crisis.

Neoconservative Nuland is evidently managing the current aspect of the State Department’s Ukraine project. In a mid-December speech to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a group dedicated to promoting U.S.-European political and business values in the old homeland — i.e., it’s anti-Russian — Nuland revealed that the American government spent at least $5 billion over the years to turn Ukraine toward Washington. Dozens of U.S.-affiliated NGO’s and government agencies have been engaged in “democracy building” projects in Ukraine over the years, including the United States Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, International Republican Institute, the Open Society Foundations, Freedom House, and The National Democratic Institute.

The Obama Administration clearly knew of the important contribution toward regime change made by fascist and neo-Nazi forces involved in the three months of demonstrations against the government following Russia’s aid offer. Nuland and her entourage even attended a mass demonstration, giving out pastries and urging people to keep up the good work. Several top American politicians also dropped by to show support and to appear important. Some — such as Sen. John McCain — allowed themselves to be photographed with fascist leaders.

Secretary of State John Kerry was a frequent visitor to Kiev during the months of anti-government protests, dashing here and there and making pompous pronouncements on behalf of President Obama. Vice President Joe Biden also showed up, no doubt thinking about how the trip will improve his hopeless chances to become the next Democratic presidential nominee. The Nuland tape has her telling Platt she was sending Biden to Kiev to say “ata-boy” to America’s candidate in the Ukraine election.

The White House was mum about the role of the extreme right wing in the protests since it served U.S. interests. The Oval Office also didn’t say a peep about the provisional government’s decision — for the first time in Europe since the Nazi era — to name several fascist leaders to high level positions. It will be of intense interest if these same ultra right groups are again elevated to significant office in the permanent government to be elected May 25.

The fascist groups, mainly Svoboda and the Right Sector, have grown very fast in the last several years. Svoboda won only a couple of seats in the 2006 parliamentary elections, but in 2012 it obtained 37 seats out of 450.

President Obama and leaders of the European Union were blindsided by the Crimea affair. They refuse to accept the astonishingly popular vote, alleging the secession was illegal and that the vote was meaningless because the rest of the country must also vote in such a situation. Considerable hypocrisy pervades the current U.S./EU hand-wringing about territorial integrity, given their own recent conduct, such as:

The province of Kosovo broke away from the Serbian component of Yugoslavia in 1999 with help from a devastating three-month U.S.-NATO bombing campaign that caused heavy damage and many lives in Belgrade, the capital. There was no vote at all for secession by the residents of Kosovo province or throughout Serbia. Washington and the UN then recognized Kosovo’s separation and helped support the territory until it became an independent state. EU entities encouraged and backed this move as they did earlier “assisted” secessions from socialist Yugoslavia. Kosovo now houses Camp Bondsteel, a large U.S./NATO base. In recent years the U.S. has supported the separation of South Sudan from Sudan, Eritrea from Ethiopia, and East Timor from Indonesia.

Regarding the need for an entire country to vote, Canada’s separatist Parti Québécois has participated in different (failed) legal referenda on national sovereignty for the province of Quebec without the rest of the country voting. There are other examples, of course.

The struggle that took place in Ukraine from November until now is extremely complex and in this article we shall look back in history— back to the origins and travail of Crimea, back to Washington’s expensive two-decade effort to lure Ukraine into America’s sphere of influence and to bring it into NATO as well.

First, a word about Ukraine: It is the largest country situated entirely in Europe. If it were a U.S. state it would be third in size at 233,032 sq. mi. The population was 44.3 million, until the 2.2 million people of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation. (This includes Sevastopol city, within Crimea but under the jurisdiction of the national capital Kiev, not Crimea’s capital of Simferopol.) Residents of Crimea who wish to retain their Ukrainian citizenship were given 30 days to make their application. Ukraine is an urban, industrialized country that excels in agriculture and is a major exporter of grain and corn. U.S. business interests, primarily Big Agriculture, are deeply invested in the country.

Moscow is weaker than the U.S but holds some powerful pieces in this geopolitical chess match:

Russian public opinion strongly supports President Putin and his handling of the Ukraine crisis. Putin’s popularity is usually about 60% but it has jumped to 75.7%, since Jan.1, the highest in five years, according to the VCIOM All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center. RT reports a second poll March 14-15 that showed 91.4% of Russian citizens approve of Crimea becoming a part of the Russian Federation. Only 5% said they were opposed.

Pro-Russian demonstration in eastern Ukraine.
In the U.S., CBS reported March 25 that a new poll found “61% of Americans do not think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the situation between Russia and Ukraine, nearly twice as many as the 32% who think it does…and specifically 65% do not think the U.S. should provide military aid and equipment to Ukraine in response to Russia's actions, while only 26% think the U.S. should.” A few days earlier, a Pew Research poll shows that 56% of Americans oppose becoming “too involved in the Ukraine situation.” Those favoring “a firm stand against Russian actions” amounted to 29%. The “don‘t knows” were 15%. Only 8% of the people thought the U.S. should “consider military options.”

What is remarkable here is that most Americans get their information about international affairs from a mass media and government that is one-sided and often deceptive — and still they strongly opposed going to war against Syria a few months ago and now want to keep out of Ukraine. This is quite a change from the public support for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, subversion and near war against Iran, and potential wars or regime-change in Venezuela, Bolivia and North Korea. The people are weary of war.

Sanctions aren’t a big worry for Moscow at this point. Russia supplies 30% of the EU’s essential natural gas supply and much oil as well. Russia’s energy sector produces over half of government revenues — and for the next several years at least Europe is in no position to allow sanctions to disrupt this centerpiece of Russia’s economy. Obama is a master at applying sanctions — a virtual qualification for the presidency — but they will cause nothing like the pain being applied to Iran.

In this connection it must be noted that Russia is cooperating with U.S. sanctions against Iran but if Washington and the EU were to significantly increase sanctions or demands on Russia, Moscow could retaliate, in the words of the New York Times March 22, by reviving “plans for a barter deal with the Iranians that would enable them to sell more oil, undercutting the pressure exerted on Iran by Western sanctions.” The Financial Times reported March 25 that in addition Russia could decide to sell Iran the long-range S-300 air defense missile system analysts say “can be a game changer because it would reduce Israel’s ability to attack Iran.”

On March 20 Standard & Poor downgraded Russia's credit rating from stable to negative, a move that may have been more political than financial. Europe is obviously reluctant to impose strong sanctions and Obama is restrained by objections from U.S. finance and corporate interests that profit from doing business with Russia. So far a number of ranking Russians are being inconvenienced by individual sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes, and Visa/MasterCard owners are out of luck — but the economy, which wasn’t in such good shape to begin with, seems to be remaining stable.

A March 21 report in Politico by Oliver Bullough suggests U.S. sanctions may actually be helping Putin’s several-year campaign to pressure Russian capitalists to deposit their money in Russian, not foreign, banks, where they often hide their assets to cheat tax collection at home. The Russian leader hopes that sanctions and the threat of having their assets frozen will bring more money back to Moscow. Putin has greatly weakened the power of the oligarchs since taking office. Having more of their money in Russian banks empowers state control.

As a member of the UN Security Council Moscow has an important say (and a veto) in global matters, including those pertaining to Syria, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela — all countries the U.S. seeks to punish or overthrow.

Russia has many nuclear weapons and adequate delivery systems. After falling apart during the 1990s following the implosion of the USSR, Russia’s armed forces and weapons are now considered sufficient for most challenges. Given this and the Crimean episode, it is now quite doubtful a sober White House will order NATO bases built in Ukraine in the foreseeable future. Halting NATO’s continual advance toward Russia is an existential matter for Moscow. Interim Prime Minister Yatseniuk sought to assure Russia by stating, “association with NATO is not on the agenda.” But Moscow wasn’t born yesterday, and knows today’s agenda could change tomorrow.

As the Soviet Union was beginning to come apart in 1990, Washington promised Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev — in return for the reunification of Germany — that it would not seek to recruit NATO membership from the impending dissolution of the Warsaw Pact or from the various ex-republics. The U.S. broke that promise right after the USSR imploded 23 years ago.

Years later Gorbachev declared: “They probably rubbed their hands rejoicing at having played a trick on the Russians,” adding this probably is a factor behind Russia’s distrust today.

The anti-Soviet NATO military pact never disbanded and now functions as Washington’s Foreign Legion, fattened by the acquisition of nearly all the former East European members of the Warsaw Pact and three former Soviet republics — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In 2008, the Bush Administration announced that Ukraine and Georgia were becoming members of NATO. Moscow announced it would not tolerate any such maneuver, and briefly invaded Georgia on the side of separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Washington’s support and intimate involvement in the undemocratic ouster of Yanukovich renewed Moscow’s deep concern about the expansion of NATO to Ukraine, which they would never tolerate any more than the U.S. would Russian troops at the Mexican border.

Moscow has friends. The 120 member nations of the Non-Aligned Movement have no beef with the Russian Federation. It would hardly be surprising if many of them quietly admired Russia’s chutzpah for standing up to the imperial superpower. A number of other countries are close to Moscow, such as those in Commonwealth of Independent States, Collective Security Treaty Organization or Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The BRICS group of rising economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — is not about to chasten a fellow member of a club that prefers a multilateral world leadership in place of the existing unilateral hegemon. (Incidentally, Harvard history Professor Niall Ferguson wrote this month that the first four BRICS countries will come close within five years to overtaking the four established economic giants: The U.S., UK, Germany and Japan.) China is keeping silent about Ukraine because of its non-interference policy, and it is unenthusiastic about successions, being jittery about Tibet, but if the conflict sharply intensifies Beijing will work to ease tensions, probably siding with Russia in extremis.

Putin’s facilitation of Crimea’s desire for independence from Ukraine was not simply Moscow getting back at Washington for the overthrow of Yanukovich or the desire to protect Russian speakers from the fascist elements, although they were factors. It is also a genuine belief held by most Russians that it is time to bring the Crimean people back home. Further, and this cannot be underestimated, it secured Russia’s prized Navy base.

Without firing a shot, Moscow’s response to regime change was so adept it could have been choreographed by the Bolshoi. On March 11, the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea adopted a declaration of independence from Ukraine. Five days later a peaceful democratic and honest referendum was conducted in the region and 96.77% voted to return to Russia (see election sidebar). The next day President Vladimir Putin, with overwhelming backing from the Russian people and parliament, annexed the territory.

Only one-third of the Ukrainian soldiers and their families stationed in Crimea are heeding Kiev’s call to return to Ukraine. The remaining two-thirds have opted to stay in Russian Crimea. We don’t know the reasons.

Crimea had been part of Russia since the late 1700s. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to neighboring Ukraine in 1954, supposedly to facilitate construction of a huge hydro-electrical project that would supply power to Ukraine and Crimea. Correspondent Jim Miles reported in Foreign Policy Journal this month that Khrushchev “gave the eastern portion and the Crimea to the Ukraine, hoping to water down the still latent Nazism that survived World War II in western Ukraine.” There had been a substantial pro-Nazi movement in the country during the war, part of which fought alongside the Germans and/or against the Russians. Many of Ukraine’s younger fascists today look up to those earlier fighters as heroes.

The people of Crimea, virtually all Russians at the time, were not consulted about the shift and most resented Khrushchev’s decision, though they at least remained in the same Soviet Union, as close to each other as New York to New Jersey. Many longed for Crimea to return to Russia, especially after the union fell apart in 1991.

In 1994 the people of Crimea held their first referendum on separation from Ukraine, and 80% voted for independence but nothing came of it. Twenty years passed before the second referendum, and Crimea returned to Russia.
Russian Fleet Day parade in Sevastopol, Crimea.

When Ukraine absorbed Crimea, Russia retained leased rights to the huge strategically important northern Black Sea Fleet base in Crimea, which it has occupied for 221 years. The facility is a geopolitical treasure because it is Russia’s only significant warm water port. Obviously, Moscow was worried that a U.S.-installed regime in Kiev might refuse to renew Russia’s lease. Now this important military facility is safely in Russian hands. (As an aside, Russia’s main warm water port outside its own territory is in the Mediterranean Sea at Tartus in Syria. From the Russian point of view, both strategic bases have been endangered by U.S. imperialism — one by regime change in Ukraine, one by supporting regime change in Syria.)

Serious opposition was aroused in November when Yanukovich rejected the EU-U.S. bailout measure in favor of the Russian aid package. The trouble was mainly in western Ukraine where many citizens identify with Europe, and less so in east and south Ukraine where there is a large population of ethnic Russians, especially in Crimea.

The demonstrations were not so much arguments about the merits of the offer from the European Union, U.S. and International Monetary Fund versus that from Moscow but whether to move toward Europe or Russia. Moscow offered the near-bankrupt Ukrainian government a huge package of aid, including an offer to buy $15 billion of the country’s bonds and reduce the price of Russian gas imports by a third. Now, as a result of the overthrow, gas retail prices are expected to rise up to 50%.

The initial offerings from the EU and IMF before the demonstrations were not high. After the new pro-Western interim government took power, it was announced March 27 that the IMF had significantly upped the ante — undoubtedly at U.S. urging since Ukraine now was in safe hands — to from $14-$18 billion with the usual strings attached with more expected in the future. President Obama offered a $1 billion loan guarantee.

Within a week 100,000 protesters converged in Maidan Square in a largely peaceful demonstration. There were clashes with police outside the square when breakaway groups smashed their way into Kiev's city hall, while others tried to crash through police lines to get to the presidential office, resulting in 35 arrests. Hundreds of thousands participated in a protest on Dec. 8.

Street fighting rebels in Maidan Square confront security forces.
By now it was becoming evident that the conservative forces in opposition to Yanukovich were losing control of the demonstrations as extreme right wing organizations began setting up a battlefield in the Maidan. By mid-January Kiev appeared under siege and anti-government demonstrators expanded their protests to several cities in western Ukraine, storming and occupying government offices. Parliament then passed anti-protest laws, but they were ineffective. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned near the end January. Parliament rescinded the new laws and passed legislation dropping all charges against arrested protesters if they leave government buildings. In mid-February all 234 arrested demonstrators were released and the office occupations ended.

The real trouble began a couple of days later. Some 25,000 people were in the square when gunfire broke out, killing 11demonstrators and seven police. Hundreds were wounded. It has not been established how it began.  Feb. 20 was the worst day of violence when 88 people were killed. The police were largely blamed although there were reports that provocateurs fired at both sides to create even stronger opposition to the government. The next day Yanukovich signed a substantial power sharing deal with opposition leaders, but protests, led by the extreme right, continued and government offices were again occupied. On Feb. 22, as protests continued, Yanukovich “fled for his life,” ending up in Russia.

The coup was completed Feb. 23 when Parliament, including Yanucovich’s Party of the Regions, quickly capitulated to reality and oligarch instructions and voted 328-0 to impeach the president. They then elected Obama’s choice, Yatseniuk, interim Prime Minister.

According to Richard Becker’s article “Who's Who In Ukraine's New [Semi-Fascist] Government?” in Liberation newspaper March 6: “The new, self-appointed government in Kiev is a coalition between right-wing and outright fascist forces, and the line between the two is often difficult to discern. Moreover, it is the fascist forces, particularly the Svoboda party and the Right Sector, who are in the ascendancy, as evidenced by the fact that they have been given key government positions in charge of the military and other core elements of the state apparatus.” Here is a list of five fascists in the new government and their positions:

1.     Dmytro Yarosh, Right Sector neo-Nazi commander who said "our revival begins with our Maidan," is now second-in-command of the National Defense and Security Council (covering the military, police, courts and intelligence apparatus).
2.     Andriy Parubiy, co-founder of the fascist Social National Party, which later changed its name to Svoboda, is the new top commander of the National Defense and Security Council.
3.     Ihor Tenyukh, member of neo-Nazi Svoboda party, was named Minister of Defense, but resigned March 24 over accusations he mishandled the troop withdrawal from Crimea, a charge he denied.
4.     Oleksandr Sych, member of neo-Nazi Svoboda, is one of three Vice Prime Ministers.
5.     Oleg Makhnitsky, member of neo-Nazi Svoboda, is now Prosecutor-General (Attorney General), and has immediately set out to indict the leaders of Crimea who do not want to live under the new order in Kiev.

Yatseniuk was summoned to Washington to receive his official elevation from the leader of the free world on March 12. Sitting in the Oval Office chatting with President Obama, he promised he would “never surrender” to Russia. He then paraphrased a famous quote from former President Reagan: “Mr. Putin, tear down this wall, the wall of war, intimidation and military aggression.” Obama and Nuland  certainly picked the right man for the job.

Virtually the entire U.S. mass media did not question or critically examine the implications of the White House honoring an unelected prime minister who just replaced a democratically elected prime minister who was overthrown by mass demonstrations that included fascists, some of whom are ending up in the new government. This is an interesting commentary on the condition of American democracy. Ah, the corporate media will reply, “but he was subsequently impeached,” and this makes it all peachy.

The U.S. government dislikes President Putin, especially after Moscow provided the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden sanctuary in Russia. The antipathy goes back for over a decade. The New York Times published a front page article Feb. 24 headlined “3 Presidents And A Riddle Named Putin.” Former presidents and other leading officials are quoted over the years as characterizing him as cold, or autocratic, or uninformed, or a stone killer, or KGB, or a dictator. Hillary Clinton compared President Putin to Hitler last week, a title Washington usually reserves for political leaders it is about to bomb, though this time it probably was just HRC revving up for 2016.

In reality there are three real reasons for America’s antipathy: 

Russia was a traumatized basket case for a decade after socialism was replaced by robber baron capitalism and forced into an undignified subservience to Washington. Putin took power in 2000 after the abrupt resignation of the by then exceptionally unpopular Boris Yeltsin, who had dissolved the Soviet Union against public opinion. Over the last 14 years as president, premier and president again, Putin’s policies have pulled Russia out of Uncle Sam’s pocket and helped bring the country back to life. James Petras, in a March 11 article, described it this way: “With the advent of President Vladimir Putin and the reconstitution of the Russian state and economy, the U.S. lost a vassal client and source of plundered wealth.” 
He openly criticizes America’s unjust wars and its attempt to dominate the rest of the world.
He had the effrontery to declare in a 2005 State of the Nation speech to the Russian people: “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century…. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.”

Putin was being honest. The Russian people certainly understood what he meant — even those who opposed communism. But the neoconservatives who dominated George W. Bush Administration and those of lesser number in the Obama Administration (who happened to be quite active in the Ukraine regime-change operation) remain unforgiving and do their best to demonize the actions and intentions of Russia and its president.

Putin has shortcomings and has made mistakes, of course. He is fairly conservative in general but most pronouncedly in certain social matters that probably coincide with the thinking of a majority of the Russian people. His government’s antagonism toward the LGBT community is about where the U.S. was 30 or 40 years ago and where many Americans still are today. (How many months ago was it when the White House first okayed same sex marriage?) He is also too much a one-man show with an ego as large as Russia.

But the principal aspect of his governance is that he is reviving an independent Russia as a regional power, after a number of post-Soviet years in the doghouse, and that’s what mainly irks Washington.

The New York Times March 25, noting that the Russian president has been complaining for years “about the West moving unilaterally to reorder the Continental balance of power… [interpreted U.S.-UE] courting of Ukraine… as a step too far, prompting Mr. Putin to risk sanctions and the worst conflict since the Cold War to make clear that Washington and its friends do not call all of the shots anymore.”

Pro-Russian youths guard Crimea Parliament during rally
It seems impossible for the White House to see the world the way Putin sees it — through Russian eyes that cannot forget the relatively recent past and are wide open to the geopolitical realities taking place today. The Russian president also might think that Washington’s support for Ukraine regime change was an appalling and mocking “thank you” for recently (1) saving Obama’s face by providing him with an exit from an unpopular decision to bomb Syria, and (2) for Russia’s influence on Iran’s leadership that played some role in the recent rapprochement between Tehran and Washington.

The U.S. news media have been asking what nefarious deed to expect next from Russia, and whether Putin plans to grab more territory. It is risky making predictions but this writer’s view the Russian government is going to watch and wait, with no dramatic actions in the immediate future. Russia will try hard to win friends, especially with former republics, to bolster its position against further infringements from Washington. Putin has domestic and other matters on his agenda, including a Eurasian Economic Union. He is flying high after Crimea, Sochi Olympics/Paralympics, and super high approval ratings and he’d rather not climb down for a while.

The real question is what the U.S. will do next about Russia and about a very troubled Ukraine, given all the other crises on the crowded agenda of American empire, Obama or his successor will eventually try in one way or another to pay Russia back for Crimea, a deed no self-respecting superpower can simply shrug off. Moscow will be prepared.

The problem for Washington may be its latest geopolitical acquisition. The new Ukrainian government to be elected in May will be utterly dependent on the U.S., its principal enabler and protector, lesser so the EU and the IMF. The economy is in a serious crisis. The IMF austerity program could cause great hardship for working people. The oligarchs will remain oligarchs, richer now because of the business and security the U.S. brings with it.

The country is split into antagonistic factions. Potential trouble can be expected between Ukrainian and Russian speakers. Hot heads will want to retaliate for the loss of Crimea. The fascists have come out boldly and assumed considerable responsibility in overthrowing Yanukovich. They expect a big payoff.

Despite all this, the accomplishment-starved Obama Administration evidently thinks the entire adventure is a big success in that it has just pocketed Ukraine and found an issue with which to throttle Russia for years to come. However, this well may end up far more of a headache than Washington ever imagined. Obama and the Europeans would have been much smarter to accept Russia’s offer of three equal parties sharing the cost of bailing out the Ukraine, and left well enough alone.

By The Vineyard of the Saker

These are official results from the March 16 referendum in Crimea. There were no reports of election fraud in carefully watched balloting.

96.77% voted for Crimea to join Russia
02.51% voted for Crimea to remain a sovereign autonomous republic inside the Ukraine
00.72% of the votes were declared invalid
83.10% of the eligible voters participated in this referendum (thus:16.9% did not vote)
Election Day in Crimea.

The official ethnic makeup of Crimea (in 2001):
58.32% Russians
24.32% Ukrainians
12.10% Crimean Tatars

What does this referendum mean? First and foremost, the participation was massive and the “yes” to Russia won by a landslide.

Second, this was not a vote along ethnic lines.  When we say there are 58.32% Russians in Crimea that does not mean that all of these are eligible voters as children are not allowed to vote.  So the real figure of eligible Russian voters in Crimea is probably well under 50%.  And yet the results show that 96.77% of the eligible voters voted to join Russia. 

Where did the rest of the 43.77% (more or less) come from?  It had to be from Ukrainian and Tatar voters.  Even if we assume that 100% of the Russians in Crimea were eligible voters and that they all showed up to vote and all of them voted for the “yes” to Russia, it still leaves 35.45% of the “yes” vote to non-Russians.  Even 100% of the Ukrainians does not fill the gap.  In other words, the so-called "Tatar boycott" of this referendum is a fabrication of the Western media.

— From Asia Times March 19, 2014


A big majority of  EuroMaidan demonstrators were not neofascists, but a large number were.
By Max Bloomenthal

As the EuroMaidan protests in the Ukrainian capitol of Kiev culminated this week, displays of open fascism and neo-Nazi extremism became too glaring to ignore. Since demonstrators filled the downtown square to battle Ukrainian riot police and demand the ouster of the corruption-stained, pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, it has been filled with far-right street fighting men pledging to defend their country’s ethnic purity.

[Note: Maidan Square in Kiev is where the protests were mainly held. Maidan means “Independence.” The protests were pro-European, hence EuroMaidan.]

White supremacist banners and Confederate flags were draped inside Kiev’s occupied City Hall, and demonstrators have hoisted Nazi SS and white power symbols over a toppled memorial to V.I. Lenin. After Yanukovich fled his palatial estate by helicopter, EuroMaidan protesters destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who died battling German occupation during World War II. Sieg heil salutes and the Nazi Wolfsangel symbol have become an increasingly common site in Maidan Square, and neo-Nazi forces have established “autonomous zones” in and around Kiev.

An Anarchist group called AntiFascist Union Ukraine attempted to join the EuroMaidan demonstrations but found it difficult to avoid threats of violence and imprecations from the gangs of neo-Nazis roving the square. “They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists,” one of its members said. “There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult.”

“There are lots of Nationalists here, including Nazis,” the anti-fascist continued. “They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters.”

Oleh Tyahnybok at Svoboda party meeting.
One of the “Big Three” political parties behind the protests is the ultra-nationalist Svoboda, whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has called for the liberation of his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” After the 2010 conviction of the Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk for his supporting role in the death of nearly 30,000 people at the Sobibor camp, Tyahnybok rushed to Germany to declare him a hero who was “fighting for truth.” In the Ukrainian parliament, where Svoboda holds an unprecedented 37 seats, Tyahnybok’s deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is fond of quoting Joseph Goebbels – he has even founded a think tank originally called “the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center.” According to Per Anders Rudling, a leading academic expert on European neo-fascism, the self-described “socialist nationalist” Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda’s official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector.

Right Sector is a shadowy syndicate of self-described “autonomous nationalists” identified by their skinhead style of dress, ascetic lifestyle, and fascination with street violence. Armed with riot shields and clubs, the group’s cadres have manned the front lines of the EuroMaidan battles this month, filling the air with their signature chant: “Ukraine above all!” In a recent Right Sector propaganda video [embedded at the bottom of this article], the group promised to fight “against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, for traditional national morality and family values.” With Svoboda linked to a constellation of international neo-fascist parties through the Alliance of European National Movements. Right Sector is promising to lead its army of aimless, disillusioned young men on “a great European Reconquest.”

Svoboda’s openly pro-Nazi politics have not deterred Senator John McCain from addressing a EuroMaidan rally alongside Tyahnybok, nor did it prevent Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland from enjoying a friendly meeting with the Svoboda leader this February. Eager to fend off accusations of anti-Semitism, the Svoboda leader recently hosted the Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine. “I would like to ask Israelis to also respect our patriotic feelings,” Tyahnybok has remarked, “Probably each party in the [Israeli] Knesset is nationalist. With God’s help, let it be this way for us too.”

In a leaked phone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Nuland revealed her wish for Tyahnybok to remain “on the outside,” but to consult with the U.S.’s replacement for Yanukovich, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, “four times a week.”

“The EuroMaidan movement has come to embody the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies,” Nuland proclaimed.

Two weeks later, 15,000 Svoboda members held a torchlight ceremony in the city of Lviv in honor of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator who led the pro-fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B). Lviv has become the epicenter of neo-fascist activity in Ukraine, with elected Svoboda officials waging a campaign to rename its airport after Bandera and successfully changing the name of Peace Street to the name of the Nachtigall Battalion, an OUN-B wing that participated directly in the Holocaust. “’Peace’ is a holdover from Soviet stereotypes,” a Svoboda deputy explained.

Dmytro Yarosh of Right Sector addresses EuroMaidan rally.
Revered by Ukrainian nationalists as a legendary freedom fighter, Bandera’s real record was
ignominious at best. After participating in a campaign to assassinate Ukrainians who supported accommodation with the Polish during the 1930s, Bandera’s forces set themselves to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles in 1943 and 1944. In the process, they killed over 90,000 Poles and many Jews, whom Bandera’s top deputy and acting “Prime Minister,” Yaroslav Stetsko, were determined to exterminate. Bandera held fast to fascist ideology in the years after the war, advocating a totalitarian, ethnically pure Europe while his affiliated Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out a doomed armed struggle against the Soviet Union. The bloodbath he inspired ended when KGB agents assassinated him in Munich in 1959.

Many surviving OUN-B members fled to Western Europe and the United States – occasionally with CIA help – where they quietly forged political alliances with right-wing elements. “You have to understand, we are an underground organization. We have spent years quietly penetrating positions of influence,” one member told journalist Russ Bellant, who documented the group’s resurgence in the United States in his 1988 book, “Old Nazis, New Right, and the Republican Party.”

In Washington, the OUN-B reconstituted under the banner of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), an umbrella organization comprised of “complete OUN-B fronts,” according to Bellant. By the mid-1980’s, the Reagan administration was honeycombed with UCCA members, with the group’s chairman Lev Dobriansky, serving as ambassador to the Bahamas, and his daughter, Paula, sitting on the National Security Council. Reagan personally welcomed Stetsko, the Banderist leader who oversaw the massacre of 7,000 Jews in Lviv, into the White House in 1983.

Demonstrator hoists photo of Stepan Bandera.
“Your struggle is our struggle,” Reagan told the former Nazi collaborator. “Your dream is our dream.”
When the Justice Department launched a crusade to capture and prosecute Nazi war criminals in 1985, UCCA snapped into action, lobbying Congress to halt the initiative. “The UCCA has also played a leading role in opposing federal investigations of suspected Nazi war criminals since those queries got underway in the late 1970’s,” Bellant wrote. “Some UCCA members have many reasons to worry – reasons which began in the 1930’s.”

Still an active and influential lobbying force in Washington, the UCCA does not appear to have shed its reverence for Banderist nationalism. In 2009, on the 50th anniversary of Bandera’s death, the group proclaimed him “a symbol of strength and righteousness for his followers” who “continue[s] to inspire Ukrainians today.” A year later, the group honored the 60th anniversary of the death of Roman Shukhevych, the OUN-B commander of the Nachtigall Battalion that slaughtered Jews in Lviv and Belarus, calling him a “hero” who “fought for honor, righteousness…”

Back in Ukraine in 2010, then-President Viktor Yushchenko [he was succeeded by Viktor Yanukovich, who was  ousted in the U.S.-backed coup] awarded Bandera the title of “National Hero of Ukraine,” marking the culmination of his efforts to manufacture an anti-Russian national narrative that sanitized the OUN-B’s fascism. (Yuschenko’s wife, Katherine Chumachen, was a former Reagan administration official and ex-staffer at the right-wing Heritage Foundation). When the European Parliament condemned Yushchenko's proclamation as an affront to "European values," the UCCA-affiliated Ukrainian World Congress reacted with outrage, accusing the EU of "another attempt to rewrite Ukrainian history during WWII." On its website, the UCCA dismissed historical accounts of Bandera's collaboration with the Nazis as "Soviet propaganda."

Following the demise of Yanukovich this month, the UCCA helped organize rallies in cities across the US in support of the EuroMaidan protests. When several hundred demonstrators marched through downtown Chicago, some waved Ukrainian flags while others proudly flew the red and black banners of the UPA and OUN-B. "USA supports Ukraine!" they chanted.

— See 2 minute video:” Right Sector -- The Great Ukrainian Reconquista,” at
— Max Blumenthal is the author of Goliath and Republican Gomorrah (Basic/Nation Books, 2009).


The The famous  Kitchen Debate at  U.S. Industrial Fair in Moscow, 1959.  Vice President Richard Nixon (right) argues with Soviet leader  Nikita Khrushchev. Nixon was bragging about U.S. accomplishments, and his counterpart was hardly impressed.
[What are some of the chief historic factors that have led up to the present conflict between Washington and Moscow? In this article, Brian Becker, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, traces the key developments from the end of World War II. This article is an excerpt from a longer piece March 17 that began with a discussion of the clash over Ukraine and Crimea, which we cover elsewhere in this issue.]

By Brian Becker

Russia today is far weaker in relation to the United States and the other NATO powers than was the Soviet Union before it imploded in 1991. Russia's military is one-fifth the size of the Soviet Armed Forces, Air Force and Navy.

More important than the size of its military, Russia's main European allies in the Soviet era have now been absorbed into the U.S./NATO sphere of influence. So too have many former non-Russian republics of the USSR.

The Soviet Union was composed of 15 republics. The largest was Russia. Ukraine was the second largest powerhouse of the USSR. It had both heavy industry and a vast agricultural sector and was called the breadbasket of the Soviet Union.

Industry in Russia, Ukraine and the other republics was public property. It belonged to the state and its productive capability and products were government owned. There was not a class of billionaires, multi-millionaires, and oligarchs who controlled the economy. Nor did western multi-national corporations have a foothold in this economy.

The Soviet economy operated according to the principle of economic planning. The mainspring of this economic mechanism was completely different from that of the major capitalist powers where bankers lend and corporations produce and trade solely and exclusively to make profits for owners and investors.

The Soviet Union was sanctioned, largely cut off from trade and investment with the United States following World War II and pushed into diverting a huge section of its national treasury to a nuclear arms race forced upon it by the Pentagon. Nonetheless, the Soviet Union, with Russia as its anchoring republic, became the second greatest economic and military power in the world.

The USSR not only projected economic and military power for Russia, it did so on a different class basis. As the global struggle to decolonize Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East became the central feature of world politics after World War II, the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc nations became the economic and military ally of those fighting for independence.

Even though the Soviet political leadership was most anxious to have peaceful coexistence and a period of non-confrontation with the United States, the anti-colonial global struggle in the so-called Third World kept drawing the USSR into struggle.

Each of the former colonizing powers of Europe and the United States opposed the revolutionary movements in Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Indonesia, Iraq, Palestine, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique and elsewhere while the USSR provided military and economic assistance.

The other hotspot for confrontation between the USSR and the United States was over the status of Eastern Europe following World War II. Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania had been dominated by the fascists.

Eastern Europe was the staging ground and gateway for the German invasion into the USSR in 1941. The Soviet leadership wanted to guarantee that the post-war leadership of these countries not be controlled by anti-Soviet political forces who owed their political allegiance to the United States and Britain.

It was the Soviet Red Army that defeated Nazism in the area of Eastern and Central Europe in 1944 and 1945. The Red Army was able to mount a massive counter-offensive against the Nazi military machine and its quisling forces in the region but at a nearly unimaginable cost. More than 27 million Soviet soldiers and civilians were killed in the war and most of the country was devastated. (The name of the Soviet Red Army was changed to the Soviet Armed Forces in 1946.) By contrast the U.S. lost 405,000 troops, and mainland America was virtually untouched by the war. Indeed, World War II was a main factor that ended the Great Depression.

It is critically important to understand this basic history, not only to grasp the essence of the U.S.-Soviet confrontation during the so-called Cold war but to ascertain the orientation of Putin and the Russian government today in the Ukraine crisis. Even though the socialist-led government of the Soviet Union was overthrown and the USSR was dissolved in 1991, even though the current Russian government is ideologically and programmatically pro-capitalist rather than communist, there is a constancy in the policies of the United States and the NATO powers that are deeply threatening to Russia.

Germany's invasion of the USSR was motivated not only by Hitler's extreme anti-communism and hatred for communists, it was also to designed to grab hold of the vast resources of the lands of Eastern Europe: Ukraine, the Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), the Caucasus region (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan) and big parts of Russia as well.

German imperialism, under Hitler, invaded these lands because it wanted to create a German imperialist zone of economic domination, not only or even mainly for fascist ideological goals, but rather for the benefit of Germany's capitalist-owned banks and industries.

Hitler's Germany and later the United States and the NATO powers viewed these countries largely as they viewed their former colonies in the Third World: as a potential source of super-profits based on exploiting their land, resources and labor.

Under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union hoped for a respite from war following World War II. The Soviets would have preferred that the wartime alliance with the United States would continue. They would have been content with a neutral Eastern Europe along the lines of the agreement that was worked out with Austria's neutral status.

But the new leadership in Washington after President Roosevelt died in April 1945 was headed in a different direction altogether. The Soviet Red Army's sweep into Europe coupled with the rising tide of anti-colonial national liberation movements and the global popularity of the USSR for its defeat of Nazism. This created widespread fear and a war fever in Washington D.C. The U.S. establishment envisioned that a third World War was probable but this time it would be against the Soviet Union and its allies.

The U.S. began massive covert and overt operations to bring right wing and anti-Soviet forces back to political power in Eastern and Central Europe, the same lands that Hitler had used as a staging ground for the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. It was under this pressure that Stalin and the Soviet leadership decided to abandon the idea that Eastern Europe could be "neutral" and started bringing to power permanent governments that were lead by communist parties who were allies of the USSR. The exception was Yugoslavia, where the indigenous communist forces led by Josip Broz Tito were strong enough to carry out their own socialist revolution following their long and bitter struggle to defeat the Nazi occupiers.

By "socializing" the governments in Eastern Europe, the Soviet leadership in the late 1940s also removed them as an arena for exploitation by European and United States capitalist corporations and banks.

The Cold War is usually presented as an ideological struggle between pro-communist and pro-capitalist governments. That was one component to be sure. Imperialism, however, isn't fundamentally an ideological program or project. It is a global economic system that compels the banks and corporations to dominate every piece of potential real estate for the benefit of those same entities.

This global economic system was reorganized in a transformative way after World War II. Inter-imperialist competition and rivalry between the colonizing powers had been the dominant characteristic of this global system between 1900 and 1945. In the postwar period the rivalry between imperialist countries that had generated so much chaos and two world wars within two brief decades was muted as a direct consequence of the dominant role achieved by the United States and a sophisticated global strategy employed by the U.S. government in its newly acquired position of global leader and anchor of the global economic system.

Instead of punishing, sanctioning and weakening its enemies in World War II, U.S. policy set about reviving the economic and political power of its defeated capitalist foes in Germany and Japan.

Under conditions of U.S. military occupation, German and Japanese ruling economic elites and most of their political operatives were quickly restored to power. Instead of smashing them economically, the strategy of U.S. imperialism was to allow German and Japanese business to receive access to global markets and resources.

This arrangement welded Germany and Japan along with Britain, France and the other major capitalist economies and governments into a united front against the USSR and socialism.

After more than four decades of global struggle against the USSR — a struggle that was unremitting and carried out on every front — it was an internal political implosion inside the summits of the Soviet Communist Party that finally collapsed Soviet political power and led to the dissolution of the second greatest power on earth.

Russia was weakened greatly. Its prime allies were picked away by NATO. Its economy went into a giant tailspin. The living conditions for a broad part of the population dropped dramatically. There had never been such a precipitous drop recorded in peace time. Big parts of the nationalized economy were looted by gangsters with connections to international financing.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and
President Ronald Reagan sign The 1987 

Intermediate Range NuclearForces treaty.
Russia was on its knees throughout the 1990s and its now capitalist economy was in the hands of newly spawned oligarchs. This suited the United States, which wanted Russia to be a puppet or so weak that it could never again be an obstacle to imperialism's desires and designs, including in the vast resource-rich and geo-strategically important territories within the former boundaries of the Soviet Union.

But Russia is too big to be a puppet. Its military is too large, its land mass and resources too vast, and its level of development too high for Russia to be a doormat for western imperialism. The internal economic situation began to change when President Vladimir Putin took office in 2000.

So even though the Soviet Union is no more, there remains a continuing struggle between the club of imperialist countries, led since 1945 by the United States, and Russia. The ideological struggle against communism is no longer a feature of the new rivalry. But the inherently expansionist nature of modern day imperialism puts it on a continual collision course with Russia, China or any national entity or mass movement that serves as a brake or an obstacle to its desire for unfettered domination over the planet’s land and resources.

This historical pattern is observable because it is the dominant characteristic of modern imperialism. It is also the reason that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War did not bring about a peace dividend, disarmament and the diminution of militarism.

On the contrary, the last 20 years have witnessed one imperialist war after another as the primary power center in the global economic system marches on in pursuit of its predatory agenda. In that sense, there is not a new Cold War but rather a continuation of an ongoing effort by the most powerful elites in the largest capitalist countries to maintain their stranglehold over the world.

By Laurie Penny

Porque Yo Decido. “Because I decide.” That was the title of a manifesto handed to the Spanish government in February on behalf of the millions of women and men across the country who oppose the conservative People's Party’s push to ban abortion.

“Because it’s my choice,” reads the manifesto. “I am free, and I live in a democracy, I demand from the government, any government, that it make laws that promote moral autonomy, preserve freedom of conscience, and guarantee plurality and diversity."

In late December, against the wishes of 80% of the population, the People's Party government, led by
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, approved a bill that will make abortion illegal in all but the most extreme medical circumstances and in cases of rape.

Forcing through the new law generated “an explosion of resistance,” says feminist activist Cristina Lestegas Perez. “Since then, there have been hundreds of street protests, debates, demonstrations, parades, conferences, seminars, exhibitions and performances all over the Spanish states and overseas.

 “The public response been massive, spreading far beyond the feminist community, and men, too, have been on the streets from the start. There is common opposition to the law from all the sectors: doctors, lawyers, judges, educators, housewives, politicians, laborers. It is really thrilling and motivating to witness such a shared resistance to a so-called gender issue.”

On International Women’s Day tens of thousands of women and men in Spain and across the continent marched and rallied against the Rajoy government’s determination to restrict women’s reproductive rights in the face of popular resistance.

Under the fascist Franco regime [that lasted from 1936 to 1975], abortion was illegal in Spain. In 1985, laws were passed permitting termination of pregnancy in very limited cases, but so many Spanish women were travelling to Britain to have abortions that dedicated flights had to be chartered. In 2010, the law was finally liberalised by the then socialist government to permit abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy.

If the parliament passes the bill, as it almost certainly will, Spain will once again have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Women will be forced to carry pregnancies to term even in cases of severe fetal abnormality. Teenage girls will require the consent of a parent to have an abortion under any circumstances.

“This law will take Spanish women back to dictatorship times when we needed the consent of our fathers or husbands to do anything,” says lawyer Maria Alvarez, who has been active in the pro-choice protests from the start. “In my opinion, hearing a priest speaking about my uterus is disgusting and obscene. I haven't seen any priests or bishops in any of the demos against domestic violence. They don't give a damn about women. They want to control us. They won't win this battle!”

The Spanish government’s concern for the rights of unborn children appears to terminate swiftly once those children have been born. Six months ago, the Council of Europe, the continent's main human rights watchdog, has warned Spain that its austerity program could have a devastating impact on its children, 30% of whom now live in poverty. And here we get to the crux of the issue, the real reason that the abortion rights question is back on the table in Spain. It’s not about morality. It’s about austerity.

In the years since the global economic crisis of 2008, politicians worldwide have used attacks on abortion, contraception and LGBT rights to distract attention from fiscal disaster. Unemployment stands at 26%. The government has been mired in corruption scandals for many months. It has no coherent political narrative to offer those who voted for the PP out of despair except more austerity — and abortion.

— From the New Statesman (UK), March 14, 2014

By the Activist Newsletter

International Women’s Day was celebrated in New Paltz March 6 at an exciting public meeting in the auditorium of the State University of New York. The forum was organized by a collaboration of Mid-Hudson Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD), the Mid-Hudson Valley chapter of Amnesty International, and the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter.
SUNY New Paltz students comprised half the audience.


An audience of 120 people, about half of them students, attended the two-hour meeting in CSB
Auditorium. The event opened with a playlist of feminist music, followed by a video of a feminist parody of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” depicting the century-long struggle for the right to vote.

Among the speakers were three members of the statewide SUNY union, United University Professions, including two organizers of the meeting: Donna Goodman, a UUP delegate and coordinator of the local WORD chapter, and New Paltz Professor of Political Science and International Relations Ilgu Ozler, who leads the Mid-Hudson Valley Amnesty chapter. Third was Lydia Johnson, a UUP delegate from Stony Brook and president of the newly chartered Long Island chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW).

Other speakers included Leah Obias of the Filipina activist organization Damayan; Himali Pandya of Grace Smith House (a women's and children's shelter in the region); Daniella Monticciolo of the student Feminist Collective (and campus rugby team); and Kelvin Then of the campus slam poetry group Urban Lyrics. Elizabeth Gross was the MC.

Goodman led off with a discussion of the long, hard struggle to win past victories in the quest for female equality and the need for even sharper struggles to win new gains while protecting earlier advances from being dismantled by the right-wing war on women. Calling for building a fighting independent women’s movement, she identified future targets such as pay equity, ending violence against women and demanding that the political system provide significant social programs for women and all working people.

Ozler reported on Amnesty International's campaigns to end violence against women, to end the victimization of women caused by wars, and to expand women’s rights worldwide. She stressed the importance of informing and engaging politicians who might not be viewed as natural allies, and proudly announced Amnesty's success in securing Republican Congressman Chris Gibson's sponsorship of the International Violence Against Women Act.

(L to R) Ilgu Ozler, Himali Pandya, Leah Obias, 
Daniella Monticciolo, Lydia Johnson(Photos, Jamie Levato)
Johnson gave an inspiring history lesson on the accomplishments of trail blazing women in the labor movement from the 1800's to the present. Naming a dozen women, from Mother Jones to Addie Wyatt, from Rose Schneiderman to Linda Chavez-Thompson, Lydia showed the importance of sisterhood andsolidarity in building the union movement, improving the lives of working women, and struggling for both bread and roses, concluding: “A woman’s place is in her union.”

Obias told a hushed audience about the super exploitation and cruelty that is the lot of so many low wage Filipina domestic workers who emigrate to the U.S. in search of jobs and income to help support their families back in the Philippines. Few of the attendees had been aware of the suffering of these virtually trafficked women, and all were moved by a brief film depicting the work of Damayan in organizing and standing up for them.

Pandya, who is the shelter's youth outreach coordinator, spoke of the grim statistics of domestic violence, the elevated risks to young women, and the effects of domestic violence on families and communities. At the same time, she pointed out the importance of education and prevention, and stressed that an informed, concerned and committed community, working together to take this issue seriously, can go a long way to combatting domestic violence.

Monticciolo spoke passionately about the need for unity and solidarity, among feminists and between feminism and other movements. She connected the academic research on intersectionality with current trends in the activist movement and expressed optimism that by identifying and uniting around their common interests, feminism and related movements could become even stronger.

Then performed an original poem dedicated to his future daughter, vowing to protect her, teach her to respect herself, and help her fight against the inequality and sexism she will surely face as a woman.

Endorsers included New York Civil Liberties Union, Mid-Hudson Valley Planned Parenthood, Working Families Party, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Upper Hudson Central Labor Council, and United University Professions (UUP, SUNY NP chapter). Also OXFAM America @ SUNY NP, Democracy Matters (SUNY NP), Dutchess Greens, Hudson Valley Progressives, La Voz (Bard), Middle East Crisis Response, Mid-Hudson ANSWER, New Paltz Women in Black, Orange County Democratic Alliance, Real Majority Project, Ulster County Democratic Women, Women Against War, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, WESPAC, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies (SUNY NP), Queer Student Union (SUNY NP), Students for Sustainable Agriculture (SUNY NP), Unitarian Universalists of Poughkeepsie (Social Justice Committee), Dutchess Peace, American Assn. University Women (Kingston), Environmental Task Force.

By Donna Goodman (Speech at New Paltz International Women’s Day)

American women didn’t gain their rights by remaining passive or waiting for others to do the hard work of organizing, demonstrating and not infrequently suffering for their rebellion against demeaning codes of behavior and for challenging the age-old edifice of male domination.

Donna Goodman.
No political party “gave” women the right to vote in elections. These parties — backed by a huge majority of their constituents — battled against it, and used threats, humiliation and the power of their domination to prevent women from casting a ballot until the rebels succeeded.

The women’s campaign for an equal vote began in the early1800s and lasted 100 years, involving four generations of women — many of whom made extreme sacrifices to attain that monumental victory.

We now take the vote for granted, but we must never forget the heroic battles our foremothers fought for our rights. They thought about all women and future generations as they struggled, and so should we.

The nationwide right to abortion was granted by the Supreme Court in 1973 — but the court did not simply “give” women that right. Roe v. Wade was the product of many years of agitation by women, of needless agony and sharp social contradictions.

Abortion was legal when the United States was young. It did not occur to the Founders to interfere in such private matters. Connecticut was the first state to criminalize the procedure in 1821, 45 years after the Declaration of Independence, when it passed a law penalizing pharmacists who sold chemicals to women for purposes of abortion. By 1900 it was a felony in all states. The influence of religion and those who sought to further control the lives of women were mainly responsible for these laws.

Women have made many other gains in our country — the right to contraception; the right to occupy jobs previously reserved for men only or to participate in so-called “male” sports; the right to relative sexual freedom and to love whom they please; the right to property, to serve on juries, to have college educations and to be elected to high office, among other advances that have come about mainly because women demanded them.

Some women have asked why we should struggle now when we have already won many rights in America. I answer by pointing to the important rights we do not yet have, but in the last couple of years I also emphasize the effective efforts by the right wing to eviscerate some of our essential gains. They have been counter-attacking and gaining ground for years.

We don’t see this much in fairly liberal New York State, which legalized abortion in 1970, three years ahead of Roe v. Wade at a time when there was a Republican governor, State Senate and Assembly. This is one reason why women in our state should demonstrate more solidarity with our sisters with reactionary state leadership.

The Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter reported Feb. 21 that among the 52 anti-choice state measures enacted by some two dozen states last year, the most prominent trends were: bans on abortion care after 20 weeks; measures prohibiting insurance coverage of abortion; and laws subjecting abortion providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to
other medical professionals. Laws that single out abortion providers particularly threaten access to abortion care because they reduce further the already declining number of providers. Already, 87% of U.S. counties have no abortion provider, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Since 1995, states have enacted 807 anti-choice measures.

Despite these state-by-state attacks on abortion, the activism of the anti-choice movement, and the conservatives on the Supreme Court, the American people support the right to abortion. That doesn’t stop anti-abortion politicians from being exceptionally crude. A couple of weeks ago, Virginia State Senator Steve Martin said that a pregnant woman is just a “host” and should not have the right to make health care decisions affecting her body.

An authoritative poll by Pew Research determined in 2013 that 63% of the American people do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. This is up from 60% in 1992 and 62% in 2003. Those who favor overturning the measure were 29% in 2013 down from 34% in 1992.

On another matter: We all know there is a male-female pay gap, and it’s not just nickels and dimes for most of the 75 million full time women workers in the U.S. over the age of 16. The median annual earnings of women 15 or older who worked year-round, full time in 2012 was $37,791. For men it was $49,398. The average American woman will lose $431,000 in lifetime earnings due to the earnings gap.

Full-time women workers’ earnings are about 77% of their male counterparts’ earnings. The pay gap is even greater for super exploited African-American women and Latinas. They earn, respectively, 64 cents and 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man.

And as most Americans have come to learn in recent years, nearly all that pay difference ends up in the bank vaults of the top few percent of the population, while the great majority experiences harder times.

Other speakers tonight will discuss the extremely important topic of frequent male violence toward women, including rape. I’ll just mention that about 800,000 U.S. women experienced what the Justice Department primly defines as “domestic incidents” last year. Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk.

 Rape is a greatly underreported crime. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, counted nearly 1.3 million sexual assaults in 2010. Data from the FBI, which gathers its statistics on rape or attempted rape reported as a crime by local law enforcement, counted only 85,593 in that year.

In addition there is the particular violence against LGBT people, and especially trans women of color.

Superpower America possesses great wealth and is a national security state par excellence. If the first duty of a state is to protect its people from harm, why, aside from the Violence Against Women Act, does our country lack a massive, well-funded national program to sharply curtail male violence and the rape of women? We are being harmed in great disproportion because we are women. Washington spends billions fighting terrorism, but frankly it’s not terrorists we worry about when we walk down a deserted street at night — or sometimes even when we come home.

All Americans, and especially women, because of lower paying jobs and more household and childcare responsibilities, need family-friendly workplaces. Many wealthy countries far outshine the U.S. in benefits offered their people, including flex time, paid time off for family emergencies, vacations and sick leave and some real support for single working mothers. And how about national pre-school for all four-year olds, affordable college tuitions and a Medicare-for-all health care program?

Programs like this would make a real difference for women and the entire society. Of course it’s expensive, but so is the bloated annual $1.3 trillion cost of the combined Pentagon war budget and the various budgets for national security (from Homeland Defense and the 16 spy agencies to nuclear defense and a colossal war debt going back several decades).

A sensible society that really served its people would cut these expenses in half and increase taxes on the wealthy to reduce inequality and increase needed social services to catch up with Sweden or Denmark or Germany or about 20 other countries. 

Such a society would not cut food stamps for the hungry, or reduce support for children, or terminate unemployment insurance for the long-term jobless in a stagnant employment market. Such a society would not allow 25 out of 50 states with right wing governments to reject free funding from Washington and opt out of expanding Medicaid for millions of Americans because they oppose the federal government’s health plan. (This decision will cost 27,000 deaths this year alone.)

We live in a conservative time. It has been over 40 years since our last period of significant social progress and beneficial government programs — a period in the 1960s and early ‘70s of mass movements for social change, including an upsurge of the women’s movement. Since then the unions, working class and middle class have gradually lost considerable ground, and there has been hardly any progressive legislation from Washington, particularly since the atrophy of the Democratic Party’s left wing.

It’s past time for the revival of the mass social movements, and that certainly means for the independent women’s movement as well. The opposition to many of the rights gained by women in the last half century is getting bolder and more destructive.

It seems to me and to the organization with which I am affiliated — WORD — that it is time to build our movement ever stronger. It is time to intensify our struggle against reaction. And it is time to make new gains, particularly for obtaining pay equity, ending violence against women, and pressuring the political system to once again — as in the 1930s and 1960s —come forth with significant social programs for women and all working people.

When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand Up, Fight Back!

By the Activist Newsletter

The U.S. Census Bureau released the following statistics to coincide with Women’s History Month:

·      161 million:  The number of females in the U.S. as of December 2013. The number of males was 156.1 million.
·      2 to 1:  At 85 and older, the approximate ratio by which women outnumbered men in 2012 (3.9 million to 2.0 million).
·      74.8 million:  The number of females 16 and older who participated in the civilian labor force in 2012. Women comprised 47.4%of the civilian labor force in 2012.
·      $37,791:  The median annual earnings of women 15 or older who worked year-round, full time in 2012. In comparison, the median annual earnings of men were $49,398.
·      77¢:  The amount that female year-round, full time workers earned in 2012 for every dollar their male counterparts earned. This ratio was statistically unchanged from 2011.
·      11.3 million:  Number of women college students in fall 2012. Women comprised 56.8% of all college students.
·      31.4% of women 25 and older who had obtained a bachelor’s degree or more as of 2012.
·      25% of women 18 and older with an alternative educational credential — such as professional certifications, licenses and educational credits — not statistically different from men. However, women had higher rates of alternative credentials than men at the bachelor’s degree and advanced degree levels.
·      15%:  Among people with advanced degrees, the percentage of women who held educational certificates compared with 12% of men; 51% of women held professional certifications or licenses compared with 43% of men.
·      63.7% of female citizens 18 and older who reported voting in the 2012 presidential election, in comparison to 59.7% of their male counterparts.
·      85.4 million:  Estimated number of mothers in the U.S. in 2009.
·      66 million:  Number of married women 18 and older (including those who were separated or had an absent spouse) in 2013.
·      5.2 million:  Number of stay-at-home mothers nationwide in 2013; compared with 214,000 stay-at-home fathers.
·      —————————


March begins from Georgetown Univ, March 3, headed to White House; 400 were arrested.
By Nation of Change (as edited)

More than 1,200 youth from across the country marched to the White House March 3 from Georgetown University to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.

Some 400 youth were arrested while participating in a nonviolent civil disobedience sit-in. This protest, led by XL dissent, was the largest youth act of civil disobedience at the White House in a generation.

Blocking the avenue in front of White House.
Opposition protests are accelerating as President Obama nears a decision on whether to approve the pipeline, which would transport exceptionally toxic tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S. for transshipment abroad.

 “As the fight to stop XL enters its final stages, it’s truly inspiring to see young people at the
forefront,” said Bill McKibben, founder of, a leading organization in the struggle against global climate change. “This pipeline is scheduled to last 40 years — right through the prime of their lives. President Obama needs to look them in the face.”

The young people represented more than 50 colleges and universities taking action in solidarity with groups on the frontlines of dirty energy expansion and climate impacts, such as First Nations and refining communities, ranchers and farmers along the route, and those fighting tar sands expansion in Michigan and beyond.

“The construction of Keystone XL will be ‘game over’ on the climate front, as climatologist Jim Hansen has stated,” said Conor Kennedy on the XL Dissent website. “Most of us understand that we have reached the tipping point. The question now is whether we continue down the path toward cataclysm, or make a bold break towards a brighter future.”

 “These people who are willing to put themselves on the line are real heroes because our leaders do not understand the importance of this,” Hansen declared just before the protest

By Dahr Jamail
Last year marked the 37th consecutive year of above-average global temperature, according to data from NASA.
The signs of advanced Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) are all around us, becoming ever more visible by the day. At least for those choosing to pay attention.
While the causes of most of these signs cannot be solely attributed to ACD, the correlation of the increasing intensity and frequency of events to ACD is unmistakable. Let's take a closer look at a random sampling of some of the more recent signs.
Sao Paulo, South America's largest city (over 12 million people), will see its biggest water-supply system run dry soon if there is no rain. Concurry, a town in Australia's outback, is so dry after two rainless years that their mayor is now looking at permanent evacuation as a final possibility. Record temperatures in Australia have been so intense that in January, around 100,000 bats literally fell from the sky during an extreme heat wave.
A now-chronic drought in California, which is also one of the most important agricultural regions in the United States, has reached a new level of severity never before recorded on the US drought monitor in the state. In an effort to preserve what little water remained, state officials there recently announced they would cut off water that the state provides to local public water agencies that serve 25 million residents and about 750,000 acres of farmland. Another impact of the drought there has 17 communities about to run out of water. Leading scientists have discussed how California's historic drought has been worsened by ACD, and a recent NASA report on the drought, by some measures the deepest in over a century, adds:
"The entire west coast of the United States is changing color as the deepest drought in more than a century unfolds. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture and NOAA, dry conditions have become extreme across more than 62% of California's land area - and there is little relief in sight.
"Up and down California, from Oregon to Mexico, it's dry as a bone," comments Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologst Bill Patzert. "To make matters worse, the snowpack in the water-storing Sierras is less than 20% of normal for this time of the year."
"The drought is so bad, NASA satellites can see it from space. On Jan. 18, 2014 - just one day after California governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency - NASA's Terra satellite snapped a sobering picture of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Where thousands of square miles of white snowpack should have been, there was just bare dirt and rock." 
During a recent interview, a climate change scientist, while discussing ACD-induced drought plaguing the US Southwest, said that he had now become hesitant to use the word drought, because "the word drought implies that there is an ending."
Meanwhile, New Mexico's chronic drought is so severe the state's two largest rivers are now regularly drying up. Summer 2013 saw the Rio Grande drying up only 18 miles south of Albuquerque, with the drying now likely to spread north and into the city itself. By September 2013, nearly half of the entire US was in moderate to extreme drought.
As if things aren't already severe enough, the new report Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers shows that much of the oil and gas fracking activity in both the United States and Canada is happening in "arid, water stressed regions, creating significant long-term water sourcing risks" that will strongly and negatively impact the local ecosystem, communities and people living nearby.
The president of the organization that produced this report said, "Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country's most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions. Barring stiffer water-use regulations and improved on-the-ground practices, the industry's water needs in many regions are on a collision course with other water users, especially agriculture and municipal water use."
Recent data from NASA shows that one billion people around the world now lack access to safe drinking water.  Last year at an international water conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan said: "For us, water is [now] more important than oil." Experts now warn that the world is "standing on a precipice" when it comes to growing water scarcity.
Looking northward, Alaska, given its Arctic geo-proximity, regularly sees the signs of advanced ACD. According to a recent NASA report on the northernmost US state:
"The last half of January was one of the warmest winter periods in Alaska's history, with temperatures as much as 40°F (22°C) above normal on some days in the central and western portions of the state, according to Weather Underground's Christopher Bart. The all-time warmest January temperature ever observed in Alaska was tied on January 27 when the temperature peaked at 62°F (16.7°C) at Port Alsworth. Numerous other locations - including Nome, Denali Park Headquarters, Palmer, Homer, Alyseka, Seward, Talkeetna, and Kotzebue - all set January records. The combination of heat and rain has caused Alaska's rivers to swell and brighten with sediment, creating satellite views reminiscent of spring and summer runoff."
Another recent study published in The Cryosphere shows that Alaska's Arctic icy lakes are losing their thickness and fewer are freezing all the way through to the bottom during winter. This should not come as a surprise, given that the reflective capacity of Arctic sea ice is disappearing at twice the rate previously shown.
As aforementioned, science now shows that global temperatures are rising every year. In addition to this overall trend, we are now in the midst of a 28-year streak of summer records above the 20th century average.
In another indicator from the north, a new study by the UC Boulder Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research showed that average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years, and indications are that Canadian Arctic temperatures today have not been matched or exceeded for roughly 120,000 years. Research leader Gifford Miller added, "The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is. This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
As ACD progresses, weather patterns come to resemble a heart-rate chart for a heart in defibrillation. Hence, rather than uniform increases in drought or temperatures, we are experiencing haphazard chaotic extreme weather events all over the planet, and the only pattern we might safely assume to continue is an intensification of these events, in both strength and frequency.
Iran's Lake Urmia, once the largest lake in the country, has shrunk to less than half its normal size, causing Iran to face a crisis of water supply. The situation is so dire, government officials are making contingency plans to ration water in Tehran, a city of 22 million. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has even named water as a "national security issue," and when he gives public speeches in areas impacted by water shortages he is now promising residents he will "bring the water back."
In other parts of the world, while water scarcity is heightening already strained caste tensions in India, the UK is experiencing the opposite problems with water. January rains brought parts of England their wettest January since records began more than 100 years ago. The UK's Met Office reported before the end of that month that much of southern England and parts of the Midlands had already seen twice the average rainfall for January, and there were still three days left in the month. January flooding across the UK went on to surpass all 247 years of data on the books, spurring the chief scientist at Britain's Met Office to say that "all the evidence" suggests that the extreme weather in the UK is linked to ACD.
Another part of the world facing a crisis from too much water is Fiji, where residents from a village facing rising sea levels that are flooding their farmlands and seeping into their homes are having to flee. The village is the first to have its people relocated under Fiji's "climate change refugee" program.
More bad news comes from a recently published study showing that Earth's vegetation could be saturated with carbon by the end of this century, and would thus cease acting as a break on ACD. However, this study could be an under-estimate of the phenomenon, as it is based on a predicted 4C rise in global temperature by 2100, and other studies and modeling predict a 4C temperature increase far sooner. (The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research suggests a 4C temperature increase by 2060. The Global Carbon Project, which monitors the global carbon cycle, and the Copenhagen Diagnosis, a climate science report, predict 6C and 7C temperature increases, respectively, by 2100. The UN Environment Program predicts up to a 5C increase by 2050.)
Whenever we reach the 4C increase, whether it is by 2050, or sooner, this shall mark the threshold at which terrestrial trees and plants are no longer able to soak up any more carbon from the atmosphere, and we will see an abrupt increase in atmospheric carbon, and an even further acceleration of ACD.
And it's not just global weather events providing the signs. Other first-time phenomena abound as well.
For the first time, scientists have discovered species of Atlantic Ocean zooplankton reproducing in Arctic waters. German researchers say the discovery indicates a possible shift in the Arctic zooplankton community as the region warms, one that could be detrimental to Arctic birds, fish, and marine mammals.
Another study shows an increase in both the range and risk for malaria due to ACD, and cat parasites have even been found in Beluga whales in the Arctic, in addition to recently published research showing other diseases in seals and other Arctic life.
Distressing signs of ACD's increasing decimation of life continue unabated. In addition to between 150-200 species going extinct daily, Monarch butterflies are now in danger of disappearing as well. Experts recently reported that the numbers of Monarch butterflies have dropped to their lowest levels since record-keeping began. At their peak, the butterflies covered an area of Mexican pine and fir forests of 44.5 acres. Now, after steep and persistent declines in the last three years, they only cover 1.65 acres. Extreme weather trends, illegal logging, and a dramatic reduction of the butterflies' habitat are all to blame.
A recently ublished study that spanned 27-years showed that ACD is "killing Argentina's Magellanic penguin chicks." Torrential rainstorms and extreme heat are killing the young birds in significant numbers.
Distressingly, the vast majority of these citations and studies are only from the last six weeks.
Meanwhile, the polluting continues as global carbon emissions only continue to increase.
Another recent study shows that black carbon emissions in India and China could be two to three times more concentrated than previously estimated. Black carbon is a major element of soot, and comes from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. The study showed that parts of India and China could have as much as 130 percent higher black carbon concentrations than shown in standard country models.
India is now rated as having some of the worst air quality in the world, and is tied with China for exposing its population to hazardous air pollution.
Meanwhile, Australian government authorities recently approved a project that will dump dredged sediment near the Great Barrier Reef, a so-called World Heritage Site, to create one of the world's largest coal ports.
Also on the front lines of the coal industry, miners now want to ignite deep coal seams to capture the gases created from the fires to use them for power generation. It's called underground coal gasification, it is on deck for what comes next after the fracking blitz, and it is a good idea for those wishing to turn Earth into Venus.
Then we have BP's "Energy Outlook" for the future, an annual report where the oil giant plots trends in global energy production and consumption. With this, we can expect nothing less than full steam ahead when it comes to vomiting as much carbon into the atmosphere in as short a time as possible.
BP CEO Bob Dudley announced at a January press conference that his company's Outlook sees carbon emissions projected to rise "29% by 2035."
Speaking of BP, the corporate-driven government of the United States continues to serve its masters well.
The US State Department recently released its environmental impact statement that found "no major climate impact" from a continuation in the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a pipeline that will transport tar sands oil – the dirtiest fossil fuel on Earth, produced by the most environmentally destructive fossil fuel extraction process ever known.
US President Barack Obama claims he has yet to make a decision on the pipeline, but we can guess what his decision shall be.
In late January, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee voted down an amendment that would have stated conclusively that ACD is occurring, despite recent evidence that ACD has literally shifted the jet stream, the main system that helps determine all of the weather in North America and Northern Europe. The 24 members of the committee who voted down the amendment, all of them Republicans and more overtly honest about who they are working for than is Obama, have accepted approximately $9.3 million in career contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industries.
Systemic problems require systemic solutions, and thinking the radical change necessary to preserve what life remains on the planet is possible without the complete removal of the system that is killing us, is futile.
The fact that the planet is most likely long past having gone over the cliff when it comes to passing the point of no return regarding ACD is a fact most people prefer not to contemplate.
And who can blame them? The relentless onslaught of distress signals from the planet, coupled with the fact that the governments of the countries generating the most emissions are those marching lock-step with the fossil fuel industries are daunting, to say the least.
Oil, gas, and coal are the fuels the capitalist system uses to generate the all-important next quarterly profit on the road toward infinite growth, as required by the capitalist system.
Systemic problems require systemic solutions, and thinking the radical change necessary to preserve what life remains on the planet is possible without the complete removal of the system that is killing us, is futile.
Half measures, as we have seen all too often, avail us nothing.

"Copyright, Reprinted with permission."
— Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

By the Activist Newsletter

Stanford University scientist Mark Jacobson and colleagues have developed a 50-state roadmap for transforming the United States from dependence on fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2050. He unveiled the plan at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

"Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions," said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Our new roadmap is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future."

The motivation for the 50-state plan, he said, is to address the negative impacts on climate and human health from widespread use of coal, oil and natural gas. Replacing these fossil fuels with clean technologies would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming and spare the lives of an estimated 59,000 Americans who die from exposure to air pollution annually, he said.

— From Stanford (Univ.) News, 2-26-14.
The 50-state plan, an interactive graphic, is posted on the website of The Solutions Project, at (For New York State readers who wish to view the 16-page scientific article upon which the plan for their state is based, go to


Asia may be hit first by catastrophic climate change. (Above) A march in for sanity Bangladesh.

By Robin McKie

People in coastal regions of Asia, particularly those living in cities, could face some of the worst early effects of global warming, climate experts will warn this week. Hundreds of millions of people are likely to lose their homes as flooding, famine and rising sea levels sweep the region, one of the most vulnerable on Earth to the impact of global warming, the UN states.

The report – Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability – makes it clear that for the first half of this century countries such as the UK will avoid the worst impacts of climate change, triggered by rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. By contrast, people living in developing countries in low latitudes, particularly those along the coast of Asia, will suffer the most, especially those living in crowded cities.

The authors warn that some other climate change effects will be global. "Climate change throughout the 21st century will lead to increases in ill-health in many regions, as compared to a baseline without climate change," the report states. "Examples include greater likelihood of injury, disease, and death due to more intense heatwaves and fires; increased likelihood of under-nutrition resulting from diminished food production in poor regions; and increased risks from food-borne and water-borne disease."

Other potential crises highlighted by the report include the likelihood that yields of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize are likely to decline at rates of up to 2% a decade, at a time when demands for these crops – triggered by world population increases – are likely to rise by 14%. At the same time, coral reefs face devastating destruction triggered by increasing amounts of carbon dioxide dissolving in sea water and acidifying Earth's oceans.

A final draft of the report will be debated by a panel of scientists set up by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week at a meeting in Yokohama, Japan, and will form a key part of the IPCC's fifth assessment report on global warming, whose other sections will be published later this year.

According to the scientists who have written the draft report, hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding and land loss as global temperatures rise, ice caps melt and sea levels rise. "The majority of it will be in East, Southeast and South Asia. Some small island states are expected to face very high impacts."

In addition, the report warns that cities also face particular problems. "Heat stress, extreme precipitation, inland and coastal flooding, as well as drought and water scarcity, pose risks in urban areas with risks amplified for those lacking essential infrastructure and services or living in exposed areas."

The report adds that climate change will reduce economic growth, further erode food security and trigger new poverty traps, particularly "in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger," it is argued.

This combination of a high-risk region and the special vulnerability of cities make coastal Asian urban centers likely flashpoints for future conflict and hardship as the planet warms up this century. Acrid plumes of smoke – produced by forest fires triggered by drought and other factors –are already choking cities across Southeast Asia. In future, this problem is likely to get worse, say scientists.

— From The Observer (UK), March 22, 2014.,


Protest outside Ugandan High Commission in London demanding end to anti-gay laws.
By Eugene Puryear

Uganda and Nigeria have passed draconian anti-LGBTQ laws, grossly restricting the human rights of non-heterosexual persons and stirring up an international firestorm. Uganda, in particular, long a poster-child for these sorts of laws — such as publishing identities in a newspaper in what clearly is an attempt to whip up hate violence — has drawn condemnation from commentators ranging from LGBTQ activists to some occupying the imperialist halls of power. It is criticism from the latter that has given the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, an opening to defend the indefensible by painting opposition to the laws as “Western meddling.”

This dishonest appeal to anti-imperialist sentiment has no basis in the reality of this issue, and progressive anti-imperialist forces around the world should give it no credence. Museveni and Ugandan lawmakers, as we shall see, are practicing extreme hypocrisy in attempting to use a progressive rationale as a smokescreen to promote reactionary ideas not specific or “traditional” to Africa.

Nigeria was the first to make news this past January when President Goodluck Jonathan secretly signed into law a 2011 bill known as the “Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act.” Due to its outrageous provisions, the president no doubt hoped his signing would go unnoticed. The law bans not only same-sex marriage, punishing it with 14 years in prison, it punishes with a 10-year sentence any participation in or affiliation with an LGBTQ organization. Further, it slaps a 10-year sentence on anyone who witnesses a same-sex marriage or civil union, holds hands with the same sex in public, or kisses someone of the same sex in public.

On top of all of this, in Nigeria homosexual sex acts are already illegal and carry up to a 14-year prison
term. This law was originally imposed by British colonialists, and has been held over post independence. It violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights — specifically the second and third articles — which was drafted and unanimously approved by the Organization of African Unity in the 1980s, and adopted by Nigeria.

In Uganda, President Museveni signed into law in February the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill.” Again, in Uganda it was already illegal to engage in anal intercourse, the maximum penalty being life in prison. The new law extends this to a mandatory life sentence for any same-sex act, including “kissing and touching with homosexual intent.” Further, you can be sent to prison for 5 to 7 years for advocating LGBTQ rights.

Once again, this violates the African Human Rights Charter, which Uganda has ratified, and it also transgresses on the Ugandan constitution. Further, anti-gay laws in Uganda have been supported by right-wing Christians in the United States, who have also backed Nigerian preachers who promote sentiments that have led mobs to commit anti-LGBTQ violence.

In particular, the religious organization known as “The Family,” which organizes the National Prayer Breakfast and has close ties to major politicians (including Hillary Clinton), has played a key role in promoting the anti-gay laws in Uganda.

In both countries, opponents of LGBTQ people have put forward a range of disgusting rationales, comparing non-heterosexual sex to bestiality or child molestation. President Museveni has attempted to defend the law as “traditionally” African, and the opposition to it as Western interference with African self-governance. This is false. In Nigeria, the roots of anti-gay laws are in British colonialism, and in Uganda they are part of a world-wide anti-gay offensive by the religious right, funded and coordinated by groups in the U.S. Apparently for President Museveni, Western meddling — from powerful forces, no less — is perfectly okay as long as it helps demonize LGBTQ people.

It is absurd for Museveni, in particular, to make any claim in defense of the national sovereignty of African states. He is one of the key pillars of the Western-backed occupation of Somalia, and his own military has raped and pillaged its way all over the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic, often with support from — who else? — Western imperialists. African leaders who also attempt to claim these anti-gay laws are somehow upholding indigenous values shame African people and their heritage. 

Anti-LGBTQ bigotry is not indigenous to any human society. While it is beyond the scope of this article to deeply explore this history, it can easily be shown that African societies have their own traditions of diverse sexual practices and gender expressions. This is not surprising, as it is the case in every part of the globe. The African continent is also a place where the struggle against colonialism and foreign exploitation has resulted in advances for LGBTQ liberation. The new constitution adopted in South Africa by the Black majority after the dismantling of the racist Apartheid system affirmed the rights of the LGBTQ community. South Africa became the first country on the planet to enshrine LGBTQ rights in its constitution and the fifth to legalize same-sex marriage.

The historical evolution of sexuality and gender expression is long and complex. The rise of the patriarchal family structure, itself linked to the shift from “primitive communism” to the earliest forms of class society, made the marginalization of non-heterosexual and strictly “biological” male-female gender norms the order of the day for an entire epoch. This is why, from Uganda to Russia to Arizona, bigots of varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds claim “tradition” in their support. They do indeed have the traditions of class society to look to, but not human nature or the vast majority of human history.

When bigots seek to hide behind progressive ideas, we should expose them. The bills in Uganda and Nigeria are odious and bigoted and should be opposed by progressive people worldwide.



Pro-Chavez memorial marches were held throughout Venezuela for first anniversary of his death.

[The Obama Administration strongly backs the ongoing demonstrations against the socialist government of Venezuela, just as it did when it supported the attempted coup against the late President Hugo Chavez in 2002. The Organization of American States, which Washington dominated until recent years, completely ignored Uncle Sam and backed the Caracas government.]  

By Ewan Robertson & Zoe Clara Dutka

The Organization of American States (OAS) approved a statement on March 7 expressing solidarity and support for the Venezuelan government in light of recent events. After two full days of heated debate at its summit, 29 states of the OAS voted in favor of a declaration lamenting the victims of protest-related violence in Venezuela, detailing the need for ongoing dialogue, and decidedly rejecting any intervention into, or sanctions against, Venezuela’s democratically elected government.

Only Panama, the United States and Canada voted against the statement, which in effect supported the position of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who was democratically elected a year ago. Both Panama and the U.S. accused the OAS of bias. They said diplomatic intervention was an imperative step for protecting human rights and democracy in the region.

Vice President Joe Biden tried to undercut the majority vote upon his arrival in Chile March 10 to attend the inauguration of president-elect Michelle Bachelet.  “The situation in Venezuela reminds me of the past, when strongmen ruled through violence and oppression, and human rights, hyperinflation, shortages and extreme poverty caused havoc on the peoples of the hemisphere,” Biden said in an interview with Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

Maduro praised the OAS declaration as an important show of support for Venezuelan democracy. He reiterated his request to the Venezuelan opposition to join peace talks. In recent days, another government supporter was killed in opposition barricade-related violence.

“I want to invite the MUD [opposition Roundtable of Democratic Unity coalition] to join the peace conference…. The whole country has entered the peace conference with the exception of some sectors of the opposition,” he said on March 9.

Addressing supporters at a march of commune activists in Caracas, the Venezuelan president also called on opposition student groups involved in anti-government protests, to dialogue with the government. The communes are part of Venezuela’s attempt to create participatory democracy, based on elected representatives from the neighborhood-based communal councils.

Right wing anti-government protests continue in Venezuela.
All key opposition figures, however, rejected the calls for dialogue and advocated further protests and
street action. Far right leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is currently in custody facing charges for inciting violence, tweeted to followers on March 9: “We ratify our objective: Nicolas Maduro’s exit as quickly as possible in the framework of the constitution. He’s a disaster, an assassin, and illegitimate…. The exit will only happen with an organized people in the street making the dictatorship retreat.”

For the past month, Venezuela has experienced often violent street protests after Lopez called his supporters onto the street to seek Maduro’s “exit.” Meanwhile, failed opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles wrote on March 9 that the opposition should pursue “more street activity” [to replace Maduro] but “without violence.”

While some protests are peaceful and make demands over high crime rates and economic problems, a radical wing of the opposition has engaged in a violent strategy of riots and street barricades to try to force the government’s resignation.

A total of 25 people have died in the violence, and more than 300 have been wounded.  Some 13 deaths were directly related to street barricades. Some deaths occurred when civilians accidently drove into street traps and barricades. Others took place when civilians or security forces were shot by assassins while trying to clear barricades from the road. Only four of deaths were alleged to be related to the actions of state security forces.

[From the activist newsletter: The events in Venezuela are part of what is becoming a frequent trend throughout the world — instead of waiting for the next election, there are massive street actions to overthrow democratically elected governments. In the last year alone this has taken place in Egypt, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela. The methodology of the street uprisings that dispatched dictators in Tunisia and Egypt three years ago now seems rather popular as a tool for getting rid of elected Presidents. The U.S. has overthrown a number of elected governments by subversion, and is undoubtedly deeply involved in Ukraine and backs the events in Venezuela, but there’s no evidence it had anything to do with the Thailand and Egyptian episodes. Four in one year means it is a trend worth watching.]

— From Green Left Weekly, March 11, 2014


Are Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and past Chinese leaders all merging into one?

[The Chinese Communist Party’s decades-long march away from socialist ideology appears to be quickening a bit  under the presidency of Xi Jinping, according to this article in the Jamestown Foundation’s March 20 China Brief by an associate professor at Fordham Law School specializing in China law and governance.]

By Carl Minzner

Only 16 months since assuming the top Party post in November 2012, Xi Jinping has emerged as the strongest Chinese leader in decades. His sweeping anti-corruption and mass line campaigns have shaken the bureaucracy, consolidated his power, and removed the supporters of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang. And at the Third Plenum in the fall of 2013, Xi asserted direct control over the economic reform and domestic security portfolios with the announcement of two new national committees that he himself will chair.

Xi is also moving to leave his stamp on state propaganda and ideology, borrowing language and themes used by his predecessors and accelerating a trend toward replacing socialist doctrine with nationalist rhetoric that reconciles Mao Zedong with Deng Xiaoping, Chiang Kai-shek and Confucius. In content, he has sought to neuter the struggles between left and right by declaring that the pre-reform historical legacy of Mao and the post-reform one of Deng are of equal weight. In style, he has appropriated Mao’s populist touch. Recent weeks have seen heavy state media coverage of Xi — and not other top Party leaders — eating steamed buns with ordinary citizens, delivering New Year’s greetings to the nation and extending his wishes to students and recent graduates, all to an enthusiastic citizen response.

Xi’s efforts in the ideological sphere go deeper still. He is appropriating the mantle of Chinese traditional culture to fashion a new image for one-Party rule, and sanitizing official representations of socialism to correspond with the economic realities and nationalist enthusiasms of recent years. Naturally, this is a continuation of efforts dating back to the late 20th century. Since Deng, central authorities have regularly struggled to reinterpret the Party’s socialist legacy to correspond with the market-based reforms that have dramatically changed China’s economy and society. And since the early 2000s, traditional Chinese culture has been a key tool in Beijing’s attempt to project soft power on the international stage.

But Xi’s moves are also part of a new, concerted play to rework the doctrinal foundations of Party legitimacy, one that is directly tied to the 2011 Party plenum communiqué on culture. And they are steadily altering official depictions of Chinese history in museums, textbooks and state media.

Xi set the new ideological tone early on. After the 2012 leadership transition, his first official act was to take the Politburo standing committee members on a collective tour of the newly reopened national history museum. The focus of their visit was the Road to Revival exhibit, which redefines the Party’s legacy over the past 150 years.

This new historical narrative more clearly situates the Communist Party in a broad story of nationalist revival, rather than one of socialist revolution. 1949 [when China was liberated from semi-feudalism/semi-capitalism after decades of furious struggle by the Chinese Communist Party - Activist Newsletter] is no longer as critical a date. Instead, the Party is part of a panoply of reformers stretching back to the late 19th century, all with a shared goal — reviving the Chinese nation. Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists are depicted more as misguided comrades-in-arms, rather than tyrannical oppressors. Such an approach also has obvious utility as mainland leaders continue to woo the Ma administration in Taiwan, recently holding the first face-to-face meetings between government officials in charge of cross-straits relations. Similarly, the imperial reformers of the late Qing [A reference to China’s last royal Dynasty, 1644-1911– AN]  are portrayed as sympathetic top-down technocrats attempting to industrialize China, rather than remnants of a feudal regime holding back the tide of modernization.

Consistent with this narrative, the public depiction of the Party’s history is being scrubbed of much of its socialist roots. The concept of class struggle is almost completely gone; 1930s-era Party efforts at organizing peasant revolution, significantly downplayed. Of course, this makes sense. Peasant rebellion and worker activism are now precisely the things most feared by the fusion of political power and economic wealth that has emerged as China’s governing elite in recent decades….


Information from The Guardian,The Intercept and, New York Times (as edited)

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, has welcomed plans by President Obama to end the practice of systematically storing Americans’ telephone data. In a statement through the American Civil Liberties Union, Snowden said the plans outlined by Obama were a “turning point.”

Obama confirmed on March 25 that the U.S. plans to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records, admitting that trust in country’s intelligence services had been shaken and pledging to address the concerns of privacy advocates. At the same time, leaders of the House intelligence committee said they were close to a deal with the White House to revamp the surveillance program. Another reform proposal, the USA Freedom Act, would go further.

Obama conceded that the Snowden revelations had caused trust in the U.S. to plunge around the world. “We have got to win back the trust not just of governments, but, more importantly, of ordinary citizens. And that's not going to happen overnight, because there's a tendency to be skeptical of government and to be skeptical of the U.S. intelligence services,” Obama said at a news conference in The Hague, where world leaders are gathered for a summit on nuclear security.

Writing in The Intercept March 25, Glenn Greenwald — who first and subsequently wrote many articles based on Snowden’s revelations  — wrote the following in The Intercept March 25:

The proposal differs in significant respects from the incredibly vague and cosmetic “reforms” Obama suggested in his highly touted NSA speech in January. Although bereft of details, it was widely assumed that Obama’s January proposal would not end the bulk data collection program at all, but rather simply shift it to the telecoms, by simultaneously requiring that the telecoms keep all calling records for five years (the amount of time the NSA now keeps those records) and make them available to the government on demand.

But under Obama’s latest proposal, the telecoms “would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would” (18 months)) and “the NSA could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order.”

As always with Obama, it remains to be seen whether his words will be followed by any real corresponding actions. That he claims to support a bill does not mean he will actually try to have Congress enact it. The details, still unknown, matter a great deal. And even if this did end the domestic bulk collection spying program, it would leave undisturbed the vast bulk of the NSA’s collect-it-all system of suspicionless spying.

Nonetheless, this clearly constitutes an attempt by Obama to depict himself as trying to end the NSA’s domestic bulk surveillance program, which was the first program we reported with Snowden documents. I agree with the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer, who told the New York Times: “We have many questions about the details, but we agree with the administration that the NSA’s bulk collection of call records should end.”

The fact that the President is now compelled to pose as an advocate for abolishing this program – the one he and his supporters have spent 10 months hailing – is a potent vindication of Edward Snowden’s acts and the reporting he enabled. First, a federal court found the program unconstitutional. Then, one of the President’s own panels rejected the NSA’s claim that it was necessary in stopping terrorism,
while another explicity found the program illegal.

A New York Times editorial March 27 welcomes the change in the administration’s position, but added:

“If President Obama really wants to end the bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records, he doesn’t need to ask the permission of Congress, as he said on Tuesday he would do. He can just end it himself, immediately. That’s what Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, urged him to do. ‘The president could end bulk collection once and for all on Friday by not seeking reauthorization of this program,’ Mr. Leahy said….

“There are still important unknown details. What standard of suspicion does the government need to meet to persuade a judge? Administration officials said it would be the “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of terror ties now used by the NSA when examining phone records, but that remains an unacceptably weak level of proof. Judicial review should require a clearer, stronger standard, though it is doubtful Congress will approve one.”

The Activist Newsletter comments: Much more must be done to eliminate the needless surveillance powers of the U.S. government and to reverse the significant erosion of civil liberties that has taken place under the Bush and Obama Administrations. That said, it is time for the U.S. government to drop all its charges against Edward Snowden and restore his passport for revealing the truth about a dangerous secret program. The man truly deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.


Adjunct professors are fighting back against salary exploitation by universities and colleges.
By Jim Hightower

There's a growing army of the working poor in our U.S. of A., and big contingents of it are now on the march. They're strategizing, organizing and mobilizing against the immoral economics of inequality being hung around America's neck by the likes of Wal-Mart, McDonald's and colleges.

Wait a minute. Colleges? That can't be. After all, we're told to go to college to get ahead in life. More education makes you better off, right? Well, ask a college professor about that — you know, the ones who earned PhDs and are now teaching America's next generation.

The sorry secret of higher education — from community colleges to brand-name universities — is that they've embraced the corporate culture of a contingent workforce, turning many professors into part-time, low-paid, no-benefit, no-tenure, temporary teachers. Overall, more than half of America's higher-education faculty members today are "adjunct professors," meaning they are attached to the schools where they teach but are not essentially a part of them. [All told, about 75%  of college classrooms or lecture hall are taught by low-paid adjuncts or graduate students.]

It also means that these highly educated, fully credentialed professors have become part of America's fast-growing army of the working poor. They never know until a semester starts whether they'll teach one class, three, or none — typically, this leaves them with take-home pay somewhere between zero and maybe $2,000 a month. Most live in or on the brink of poverty. Good luck paying off that $100,000 student loan on such wages.

Adjuncts usually get no health care or other benefits, no real chance of earning full-time positions, no due process or severance pay if dismissed, no say in curriculum or school policies, no keys to the supply cabinet. Frequently, they don't even get office space at their schools. One adjunct prof says he used the trunk of his car as his office, until one day he found that the "office" got towed. [See article directly below for what the adjunct professors are demanding.]

Like their counterparts at Wal-Mart and McDonald's, college presidents don't treat adjunct professors as valuable resources to be nurtured, but as cheap, exploitable, and disposable labor.

We know that the moral values of corporate chieftains rarely penetrate deeper than the value of their multimillion-dollar pay packages. But shouldn't we expect more from the chieftains of colleges and universities?

After all, campuses are places of erudition and enlightenment, where we hope students will absorb a bit of our society's deeper ethical principles, including America's historic commitment to fairness and justice for all. Yet, in my own town, top officials of Austin (Texas) Community College issued an edict last November that could've come straight out of Wal-Mart. A newspaper story about the college's edict was headlined: "Adjuncts at ACC face cut in hours. School seeks to avoid paying for health care."

Of this school's nearly 2,000 faculty members, three-fourths are "adjunct professors" with no health care benefits. But the new Obamacare law would've finally given them a much needed break by requiring colleges to provide health coverage to employees who work 30 hours or more a week. But the honchos of ACC — a school with the word "community" in its name — have snatched this basic element of human decency out of the adjunct faculty's hands by arbitrarily decreeing that none can work more than 28 hours a week.

That's a double whammy: Not only are the college chiefs denying needed health care for the people who carry most of ACC's teaching load, but the sneaky cut in hours means that these poorly paid professors will also suffer a pay cut. This is the Wal-Martization of higher education and it's happening at all levels all across the country. Did I mention that ACC provides full health coverage for the college's president and other well-paid administrators who're nixing coverage for the adjuncts? Now isn't that a fine ethical lesson for students to absorb?

It is happening throughout America. Unsurprisingly, this contingent of America's low-wage army is organizing campaigns for fairness and forming unions, just like the exploited workers at Wal-Mart and McDonald's.

— [An excellent nine-minute PBS News Hour feature on “Adjusts in Higher Ed,” is available at
— Article from Nation of Change, Feb. 6.

By the Activist Newsletter

Underpaid and exploited adjunct professors from State University of New York colleges and from   The demands are reprinted below.

Other states have signed a “Mayday Declaration on Contingency in Higher Education,” briefly explaining the need for economic justice on campuses plus a list of demands.

1.         Increase the starting salary for a three-credit semester course to a minimum of $5,000 for all instructors in higher education.
2.         Ensure academic freedom by providing progressively longer contracts for all contingent instructors who have proven themselves during an initial probationary period.
3.         Provide health insurance for all instructors, either through their college’s health insurance system or through the Affordable Care Act.
4.         Support the quality education of our students by providing their instructors with necessary office space, individual development support, telephones, email accounts and mail boxes.
5.         Guarantee fair and equitable access to unemployment benefits when college instructors are not working.
6.         Guarantee eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to all college instructors who have taught for ten years, during which they were repaying their student loans.
7.         With or without a time-in service requirement, allow all college teachers to vote and hold office in institutional governance, including faculty senates and academic departments.


By the Activist Newsletter

According to an article titled “The Highest-Paid University President Makes 170 Times More than the Average Adjunct,” posted on HNN Feb. 24 by Lawrence S. Wittner, a Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany:

In contrast to adjunct faculty some others on campus are doing quite well. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 42 presidents of private colleges and universities were paid more than a million dollars each in 2011 — up from 36 the previous year. The highest earners were Robert Zimmer of the University of Chicago ($3.4 million), Joseph Aoun of Northeastern University ($3.1 million), and Dennis Murray of Marist College ($2.7 million).  Unlike adjunct faculty, whose income, when adjusted for inflation, has dropped by 5% over the past four decades, these campus presidents increased their income substantially. Zimmer’s pay doubled, Aoun’s pay nearly tripled, and Murray’s pay nearly quadrupled from the previous year. The yearly compensation packages for 11 of the $42 million-dollar-or-more private college presidents nearly doubled.

Furthermore, high-level administrative positions often come with some very substantial perks. At the University of Nebraska, top administrators are given free memberships in country clubs, as well as very expensive cars, like the Porsche driven by the chancellor of its medical center. At New York University, the trustees gave president John Sexton -- whose university compensation in 2011 was $1.5 million -- a $1 million loan to help him purchase a vacation home on Fire Island. According to a New York Times article, Gordon Gee — the Ohio State University president who received university compensation in 2011-2012 of $1.9 million — was known for “the lavish lifestyle his job supports, including a rent-free mansion with an elevator, a pool and a tennis court and flights on private jets.”

By the Economic Policy Institute

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data released March 11 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that job openings increased by 60,000 in January, bringing the total number of job openings to 4.0 million — but.

In January, the number of job seekers was 10.2 million (unemployment data are from the Current
Population Survey). Thus, there were 10.2 million job seekers and only 4.0 million job openings, meaning that more than 60% of job seekers were not going to find a job in January no matter what they did. In a labor market with strong job opportunities, there would be roughly as many job openings as job seekers. We are not in a strong labor market.

Furthermore, the 10.2 million unemployed workers understates how many job openings will be needed when a robust jobs recovery finally begins, due to the existence of 5.7 million would-be workers who are currently not in the labor market, but who would be if job opportunities were strong. Many of these “missing workers” will become job seekers when we enter a robust jobs recovery, so job openings will be needed for them, too.


By Too Much

A new report, titled “Inequality, the Great Recession, and Slow Recovery,” explores “the connection between household spending, consumer debt, and rising income inequality since the 1980s” — and reminds us once again how much inequality costs us all.

The document by Barry Cynamon and Steven Fazzari of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, points out that one measure of inequality is the income share of the “bottom” 95% of the American people. It was 79% of the national personal income total in 1980 and 74% in 1989 but only 66% in 2007.

If the bottom income share had been frozen at 74% in 1989, the two authors calculate, America's bottom 95% “would have cumulatively earned $5.8 trillion dollars more from 1989 through 2007” — and not sunk into the deep debt that ushered in the Great Recession.  Instead, that huge amount was grabbed by the already rich 5%.

Reviewed by Andrew J. Nathan

An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions
By Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen

India has experienced two decades of rapid economic growth, yet half of Indian households lack indoor toilets, nearly 40% of the country’s adults are illiterate, immunization rates there are among the lowest in the world, and 43% of its children are underweight.

The benefits of growth have flowed to the top 20% of the India’s 1.27 billion people, while the profoundly poor — who represent 28% to 80% of the population, depending on where the line is drawn — have gained little.

The authors, two distinguished economists, use unfavorable comparisons with Bangladesh, China, and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, among other places, to shame India’s politicians, corrupt bureaucrats, media, and self-interested economic elites, whom they blame collectively for the country’s pattern of “biased growth.”

Against those who want to address poverty through further market reforms, Drèze and Sen argue that India needs more (albeit better-run) public services and redistributive social programs. But given the scope and severity of the problems they describe, it seems like a leap of faith to argue, as they do, that the system can right itself by means of “public reason” and greater political pressure from the poor.

— From Foreign Affairs, Dec.-Jan. Issue.