Informed Comment

Syndicate content
Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion
Updated: 19 hours 8 min ago

US Military in Syria to Stay, YPG Kurds Say

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 - 1:13am

TeleSur | – –

The United States has been funding and supporting the group for months, due to “strategic interests” in the region, a spokesperson revealed.

U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria — who are among Washington’s most important and powerful regional allies — told Reuters Thursday that the U.S. military will remain in northern Syria “for decades to come.”

A spokesman from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of militias headed by the Kurdish YPG, Talal Silo, told Reuters that the the United States has a “strategic interest” in the area, and that U.S. forces will be staying there long after the Islamic state group might be defeated.

“They have a strategy policy for decades to come. There will be military, economic and political agreements in the long term between the leadership of the northern areas (of Syria) … and the U.S. administration,” Silo said.

The U.S. military has funded the SDF extensively, also supporting them with air strikes, artillery, and special forces on the ground. It was in March when the then-new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump began distributing arms to the YPG, ahead of their assault in Raqqa.

When probed about their long-term strategy, Col. Ryan Dillon, another spokesman for the coalition, deferred Reuters to the U.S. Pentagon, adding that there is “still a lot of fighting to do, even after ISIS has been defeated in Raqqa”.

Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, in turn, stated, “The Department of Defense does not discuss timelines for future operations. However we remain committed to the destruction of ISIS and preventing its return.”

The head of the YPG revealed last month that the United States has established seven military bases in areas of northern Syria that are controlled by the YPG or SDF, including a major air base near Kobani, which borders Turkey.

“In the beginning, American support was secret,” Alan Hassan, a Kurd in northeastern Syria’s Qamishli, told The New York Times of the group’s affiliations back in May. “Now it is public. The relationship has changed from undeclared to declared.”

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Wochit News: “Militia Allies Claim U.S. Forces To Remain In Syria For Decades”

No Longer “Indispensable?” The World is moving on from Trump’s America

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 - 12:55am

By Tom Engelhardt | ( | – –

Let me try to get this straight: from the moment the Soviet Union imploded in 1991 until recently just about every politician and mainstream pundit in America assured us that we were the planet’s indispensable nation, the only truly exceptional one on this small orb of ours.

We were the sole superpower, Earth’s hyperpower, its designated global sheriff, the architect of our planetary future.  After five centuries of great power rivalries, in the wake of a two-superpower world that, amid the threat of nuclear annihilation, seemed to last forever and a day (even if it didn’t quite make it 50 years), the United States was the ultimate survivor, the victor of victors, the last of the last.  It stood triumphantly at the end of history.  In a lottery that had lasted since Europe’s wooden ships first broke out of a periphery of Eurasia and began to colonize much of the planet, the United States was the chosen one, the country that would leave every imperial world-maker from the Romans to the British in its shadow.

Who could doubt that this was now our world in a coming American century beyond compare?

And then, of course, came the attacks of 9/11.  A mere $400,000 and 19 suicidal hijackers (mostly Saudis) armed with box cutters and organized from Afghanistan, a country plunged into an Islamic version of the Middle Ages, had challenged the greatest power of all time.  In the process, they would bring down iconic structures in what would soon be known to Americans as “the homeland,” while killing almost 3,000 innocent civilians, acts so shocking that they really did change the world.

Yet even then, a fervor for world-organizing triumphalism only took firmer hold in Washington.  The top officials of President George W. Bush’s administration almost instantly saw the 9/11 attacks as their very own “Pearl Harbor,” the twenty-first-century equivalent of the moment that had launched the U.S. on the path to post-World War II superpowerdom.  As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld instantly told his aides in the rubble of the Pentagon, “Go massive.  Sweep it all up.  Things related and not.”  And indeed they would do just that, seizing the moment with alacrity and promptly launching the “Global War on Terror” — aka, among the cognoscenti, World War IV (the third, in their minds, having been the Cold War).

No simple “police action” against the modest al-Qaeda organization and Osama bin Laden would do (and those who suggested something so pathetically humble were to be laughed out of the room).  At that moment, their newly launched “war” was to be aimed at no less than 60 countries.  The world was to be swept clean of “terror” and the tool for doing so and for imposing Washington’s version of a world order on much of the planet would be the U.S. military, a force like none ever seen before.  It was, President Bush would claim, “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known.”  It was, as both he and Barack Obama affirmed, as became gospel on both sides of the aisle in Washington (until Donald Trump arrived in the presidential race of 2016), “the finest fighting force” in history.  It was so unquestionably powerful that no enemy could conceivably stand in its path.  It would “liberate” not just Afghanistan, but Iraq, a country in the Middle Eastern oil heartlands that had nothing to do with either al-Qaeda or Islamic terror but had a ruler despised in Washington.

And that, mind you, would only be the beginning. Syria and Iran would undoubtedly follow and soon enough the Greater Middle East would be brought under the aegis of a Pax Americana.  Meanwhile, globally, no country or even bloc of countries would be capable of rising to challenge the United States into the imaginable future.  As Bush put it in a speech at West Point in 2002, “America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge, thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.” In that year, the U.S. National Security Strategy similarly called for the country to “build and maintain” its military power “beyond challenge.”

What a soaring dream it all was!  In response to the destruction of part of the Pentagon and those towers in New York City, a small group of top officials in Washington, long waiting for just such an opportunity, were determined to impose their version of order and democracy, military-first, on significant parts of the planet and no one would be capable of resisting. Not for long anyway.

Almost 16 years later, you know how that dream of domination turned out, but to Washington’s power players at the time it all seemed so obvious.  Except for a few retrograde Muslim rebels, it was clearly no one else’s planet but ours to organize as we wished.  The Soviet Union was already an instant historical memory, its empire scattered to the winds, and Russia itself largely immiserated. The Chinese had a capitalist economy of no small means (even if run by a Communist Party), but as a military force, as a great power, they were anything but impressive.  And if you looked at the rest of the world, there were no other potential great powers, no less superpowers, on any imaginable horizon.

Given the history of the Global War on Terror and of the stunning inability of the U.S. military to impose Washington’s will, no less its planetary dreams, on more or less anyone, it took an awful long time for such thinking to begin to die.  And before it did, the political class, in a fervor of defensive exaggeration, began insisting in a mantra-like way on the “indispensability” and “exceptionality” of… well, us.  It was as if the sense of decline most Americans had started feeling in their bones wasn’t happening.  Of course, the constant invocation of the country’s singular specialness should itself have signaled just how wrong things were, because when you’re truly indispensable and exceptional you don’t need to repeatedly say so (or even say it at all). 

It took a reality TV star with a curious comb-over who had run a set of casinos into the ground to pick up a Reagan-era slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and bodysurf it into the White House.  He did so in part on the widespread sense in the American heartland that, a quarter-century after the Soviet Union imploded, the U.S. was indeed in decline, even heading for the exit at a creep, not a gallop.  The “again” in that slogan was the telltale signal that the billionaire “businessman” (and classic American huckster) had an intuitive handle on an American world of failed war-making and raging inequality about which both his Republican opposition and his Democratic opponent in election 2016, all still priming the pump of indispensability and exceptionality, seemed clueless. 

Who? Us?

Now, here we are on the planet the U.S. was to dominate and run for an eternity with an embattled president surrounded by generals whose skills were honed in America’s losing wars of the twenty-first century.  If you want a personal gauge of American decline, consider this: barely half a year into office, Donald J. Trump is already threatening to launch a nuclear war and exploring whether he has the power not just to pardon aides, friends, and family, but himself in case of future convictions. With the previous decade and a half in mind, here’s a question for you: Pardon me, but even if he pardons himself, who’s going to pardon the rest of us?

I mean, am I wrong, or aren’t we living in the mess of a world the sole superpower had a major hand in creating and was, once upon a not-so-distant time, all too eager to take credit for?  So I find it strange that no one who matters here seems to feel the slightest responsibility for the planet’s dismal state.  All the politicians, power players, and pundits in Washington who wouldn’t have hesitated to take complete credit, had the U.S. achieved anything like its fantasy of a Pax Americana world, couldn’t be quicker these days to place the blame for what’s actually happened elsewhere.

You know the tale.  When it comes to the world’s ills, it’s Vlad, the Ukrainian Impaler, or Vlad, the Hacker, who’s spoiled so much.  Among other things, he had, we’re told, the temerity to mess with the sacrosanct electoral system of the most democratic country on the planet, a place so pure that its denizens had never heard of such a shocking act — except, of course, for the scores of times Washington did exactly that to other countries.  (Who in the U.S. these days even remembers “the first 9/11”?)  The Russian president now gets much of the blame in Washington for the sorry mess of our world, from Eastern Europe and the unsettled NATO alliance to Syria.  As for where the rest of the blame lands: it’s the Chinese, of course, who’ve had the nerve to flex their potential great-power muscles by bulking up their military, building fake “islands” in the South China Sea, and claiming parts of that body of water as their own, while not pressuring the North Koreans harder to stand down.  It’s the Iranians who somehow are responsible for much of the mess in the Middle East, along with various jihadi successors and spin-offs from the original al-Qaeda.  They take the rest of the blame for the world of chaos that continues to spread across the Greater Middle East, parts of Africa, and now the Philippines (not to mention the refugees fleeing embattled and desperate lands who are, we are regularly assured, threatening the continental U.S. with disastrous harm).

I don’t mean to say that such a crew (refugees excepted) shouldn’t bear some of the blame for our disintegrating world, but just remind me: Wasn’t the Islamic State born in an American military prison in Iraq?  Weren’t the Iranian theocrats, those Great-Satan haters, born in the grim crucible of the Shah’s rule (and that of his brutal secret police) after the CIA helped hatch a coup that overthrew the elected prime minister of that country in 1953?  Didn’t Washington ignore promises made to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and others and do its damnedest to move NATO’s line of control into parts of the former Soviet empire and associated satellite states?

Didn’t the Bush administration lump North Korea with Iraq, a nation it was eager to invade, and Iran, another it planned to take down sooner or later, in the infamous “axis of evil,” even though the North Koreans had nothing to do with either of those countries?  In the most public manner possible, in a State of the Union address to the nation, the American president linked all three of those countries to terrorism and evil in what was unmistakably a “regime change” package.  (If you were eager to convince the North Korean leadership that possessing a nuclear arsenal was the only way to go, that certainly was a good start.)  In the process, didn’t George W. Bush and his officials functionally shred the Clinton-negotiated agreement by which the North Koreans had indeed frozen their nuclear program, in part by listing that country in its 2002 Nuclear Posture Review “as one of the states that might become the target of a preventive strike”? 

And that’s just to begin to explore what it meant to be in the world of the sole superpower from 2001 to 2017.  Remind me, for example, which country only recently announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, the crucial global architecture for protecting the planetary environment, and so humanity’s future, from a grim kind of dismemberment?

Who’s Going to Sanction Us?

So here’s my next question: If you’re parceling out blame on this planet of ours, why just dump it on the evil doers?  What about us?  What about the sole superpower, its changing leadership, and the finest fighting force in the history of the universe?  Don’t we have any responsibility for the situation we now face globally, from North Korea to the Greater Middle East, Ukraine to Venezuela?  Didn’t the actions of America’s leaders and its national security state have anything to do with the world that called forth the Trumpian wave, which could now swamp so many ships of state?  Maybe President Trump can indeed pardon himself (an issue being debated at the moment by constitutional scholars), but who pardoned everyone else who lent a hand, large or small, to the creation of what increasingly looks like a failed world?   

Are there no high crimes and misdemeanors for which we Americans are responsible on a planet of the otherwise guilty? 

Here’s one thing I think about sometimes on bleak nights.  I’m sure you remember the way the Bush administration used fraudulent claims about weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs, as an excuse to launch an invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and occupy his country.  In fact, there was indeed a weapon of mass destruction in Iraq and no one needed to search for it.  I’m talking about the U.S. military. 

It was also a weapon of destructive creation. It cracked Iraq open, set Shia and Sunni at each others’ throats, loosed a grim process of religious “cleansing” there and across the region, and so provided fertile ground for the worst of the worst. Its “successful” invasion was the crucial factor in preparing the way for the birth of al-Qaeda in Iraq and then of the Islamic State in a country where no such organizations had previously existed.

In truth, in every land across the Greater Middle East and Africa where that military has gotten involved in hostilities, from Libya to Iraq, Yemen to Afghanistan, it has left in its wake shaken or failed states, untold numbers of desperate refugees, and spreading terror movements.  It has been a major player in a decade and a half of disaster that has helped destabilize significant parts of the planet.  And yet when it comes to apportioning blame, the main people tarred with the disaster that’s been the war on terror are those who have been made into refugees in its wake, those who, we are told, would be a mortal danger to us, were we to welcome them here.

And while we’re at it, it might be worth mentioning one other weapon of mass destruction in our world: the rise to glory of the 1% and the widening inequality chasm that’s accompanied their successes.  From Ronald Reagan’s presidency on, a series of administrations, Republican and Democratic, have presided over a country and a world growing ever more disastrously unequal, as the rich make staggering gains in income and wealth while the poor and working classes labor ever harder for, relatively speaking, ever less.  Consider that but another story of devastation on what reputedly was once an American planet.

In such a global context, our Congress has been eager indeed to sanction the Russians, the Iranians, and the North Koreans for their roles in spreading misery, but who’s going to sanction us?  Honestly, don’t you wonder how we got off the hook so easily for the world we swore that we alone would create?  Isn’t the U.S. responsible for anything?  Doesn’t anyone even remember? 

We now have a president with the strangest demeanor imaginable, a narcissistic bully spouting a kind of rhetoric that eerily echoes the bellicose threats of North Korea.  However, like the spreading terror movements and failed states of the Greater Middle East, he should be seen as a spawn of the actions, programs, and dreams of the sole superpower in its self-proclaimed glory and of its plans for a military-enforced global Pax Americana.  By the time he’s done, President Trump may be responsible for high crimes, including nuclear ones, of a sort that even impeachment wouldn’t cover and who, these days, could ever miss his demeanor? 

Blame the evil doers for the devastation visiting this planet?  Sure thing.  But us?  Not for a second.

And while you’re at it, welcome to the post-American world.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Tom Engelhardt


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Euronews: “Iraq bombs ISIL-held Tal Afar ahead of ground assault”

Rethink Coal! Australia emits nerve poison Mercury at double Global Average

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 - 12:38am

Robyn Schofield | (The Conversation) | – –

A report released this week by advocacy group Environmental Justice Australia presents a confronting analysis of toxic emissions from Australia’s coal-fired power plants.

The report, which investigated pollutants including fine particles, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, also highlights our deeply inadequate mercury emissions regulations. In New South Wales the mercury emissions limit is 666 times the US limits, and in Victoria there is no specific mercury limit at all.

This is particularly timely, given that yesterday the Minamata Convention, a United Nations treaty limiting the production and use of mercury, entered into force. Coal-fired power stations and some metal manufacturing are major sources of mercury in our atmosphere, and Australia’s per capita mercury emissions are roughly double the global average.

In fact, Australia is the world’s sixteenth-largest emitter of mercury, and while our government has signed the Minamata convention it has yet to ratify it. According to a 2016 draft impact statement from the Department of Environment and Energy:

Australia’s mercury pollution occurs despite existing regulatory controls, partly because State and Territory laws limit the concentration of mercury in emissions to air […] but there are few incentives to reduce the absolute level of current emissions and releases over time.

Mercury can also enter the atmosphere when biomass is burned (either naturally or by people), but electricity generation and non-ferrous (without iron) metal manufacturing are the major sources of mercury to air in Australia. Electricity generation accounted for 2.8 tonnes of the roughly 18 tonnes emitted in 2015-16.

Mercury in the food web

Mercury is a global pollutant: no matter where it’s emitted, it spreads easily around the world through the atmosphere. In its vaporised form, mercury is largely inert, although inhaling large quantities carries serious health risks. But the health problems really start when mercury enters the food web.

I’ve been involved in research that investigates how mercury moves from the air into the food web of the Southern Ocean. The key is Antartica’s sea ice. Sea salt contains bromine, which builds up on the ice over winter. In spring, when the sun returns, large amounts of bromine is released to the atmosphere and causes dramatically named “bromine explosion events”.

Essentially, very reactive bromine oxide is formed, which then reacts with the elemental mercury in the air. The mercury is then deposited onto the sea ice and ocean, where microbes interact with it, returning some to the atmosphere and methylating the rest.

Once mercury is methylated it can bioaccumulate, and moves up the food chain to apex predators such as tuna – and thence to humans.

As noted by the Australian government in its final impact statement for the Minamata Convention:

Mercury can cause a range of adverse health impacts which include; cognitive impairment (mild mental retardation), permanent damage to the central nervous system, kidney and heart disease, infertility, and respiratory, digestive and immune problems. It is strongly advised that pregnant women, infants, and children in particular avoid exposure.

Australia must do better

A major 2009 study estimated that reducing global mercury emissions would carry an economic benefit of between US$1.8 billion and US$2.22 billion (in 2005 dollars). Since then, the US, the European Union and China have begun using the best available technology to reduce their mercury emissions, but Australia remains far behind.

But it doesn’t have to be. Methods like sulfur scrubbing, which remove fine particles and sulfur dioxide, also can capture mercury. Simply limiting sulfur pollutants of our power stations can dramatically reduce mercury levels.

Ratifying the Minamata Convention will mean the federal government must create a plan to reduce our mercury emissions, with significant health and economic benefits. And because mercury travels around the world, action from Australia wouldn’t just help our region: it would be for the global good.

In an earlier version of this article the standfirst referenced a 2006 study stating Australia is the fifth largest global emitter of mercury. Australia is now 16th globally.

Robyn Schofield, Senior Lecturer for Climate System Science and Director of Environmental Science Hub, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

National Sierra Club: “Coal 101: What’s Wrong with Coal?”

German Politicians think Trump is dangerously close to Neo-Nazis, and they Should know

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 - 1:51am

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The nation of Germany gazed with helpless horror at Trump’s disastrous Tuesday press conference, in which he tried to make a false equivalency between the neo-Nazis and the counter-protesters.

Even before Trump’s wretched performance this week, only 11 percent of Germans said they trusted him to do the right thing. About 25 percent of Germans said that they trust Russian president Vladimir Putin to do the right thing!

That is worth repeating. Germany is one of America’s closest allies, but Germans are twice as likely to trust Putin as to trust Trump. Germans don’t have much confidence either leader, but they have a special distrust of Trump.

German Foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said that comparing the two sides at the protests instead of clearly distancing himself from the potential for Nazism that had clearly been shown there “was a giant mistake and is also wrong.”

Minister Gabriel added that the violence in Charlottesville demonstrated what happens when you let extremist elements “run free,” and said it should be a wake up call for Europe, as well.

Gabriel concluded that it “just shows how intertwined some of Trump’s base is with the right-radical scene in the United States. His chief ideologist (Steve) Bannon is close to them.”

Gabriel is a leader of the Social Democratic Party, which is in coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. He has however been critical of her, saying she is overly deferential to Donald Trump.

The German minister of justice, Jeff Sessions’ counterpart, Heiko Maas, said it was “unbearable” for Trump to gloss over the violence that occurred during the march of a “right wing horde” on Charlottesville.

Columnist Sascha Lobo of Der Spiegel online said of that Trump made it clear where he stood and showed himself a master at downplaying or trivializing the horror of Nazism.

Germany is still profoundly traumatized by the crimes of the National Socialists during WW II and has laws forbidding the exaltation of Nazism. My guess is that if Trump were in Germany and saying the things he said this week, he might well be arrested.


Related video:

Wochit Politics: “Trump’s Stance On Virginia Violence Shocks Germany”

Remembering the White Rose anti-Nazi Activists

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 - 12:44am

Global Nonviolent Action Database | Swarthmore University

By Aly Passanante | (Edited by Max Rennebohm) | Global Nonviolent Action Database | – –

Amidst the omnipresence of violence during World War II, nonviolent protest is often overlooked or unheard of. However, there were several resistance campaigns that took place in Germany, led by its own citizens. One such campaign in the period of 1942-1943 was the resistance initiated by the White Rose society. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful, the members of the White Rose became an influential example of student resistance against repressive regimes.

The main leaders of the campaign, Hans Scholl, Alex Schmorell, and Sophie Scholl, were not all anti-Nazi throughout their entire lives. Schmorell’s family was always opposed to the Nazi regime, but the young Scholls had originally believed in Hitler’s values and even joined the Hitler Youth despite their father’s disapproval. Gradually, Hans and Sophie began to sympathize with their father’s views of the regime, especially when they observed harsh treatment and dehumanization of their Jewish friends. Breaking off from the common theory that citizens should support their troops in war no matter what the circumstances, the young Scholl siblings thought that it was the duty of citizens to stand up against what they perceived as an evil regime, even in wartime, especially when it was killing such a huge quantity of its own citizens. Hans tried to alter the direction of the movement from within the Hitler Youth, but was immediately thrown out and even sent to court.

Organized resistance was essentially out of the question since the Gestapo was permitted to listen to any phone call, open any mail, or search anyone’s person, all without reason. Speaking openly and honestly with friends was also rare, since people never knew who was a Nazi spy, or which one of their friends or neighbors would turn them in. This is not to suggest that opposition of the regime was nonexistent; on the contrary, we now know that there were over three hundred citizens who openly disagreed with the Nazi mindset, but groups of them were so small and isolated that it was difficult to know of each other and therefore initiate a larger movement.

George Wittenstein, another member of the White Rose, and Alex Schmorell met in 1938 on an obligatory two-year army service where they were in the same training school for medics. By 1939, most of the members of the White Rose were enrolled at the University of Munich. However, shortly after the war started, most of the medical students were drafted and required to attend classes in uniform. It was in this student company that Wittenstein introduced Schmorell and Hans Scholl.

Within the first couple of months at the University of Munich, Hans Scholl created a group of intellectual medicine students that convened at nights to talk about cultural subjects, and would even invite professors, writers, and musicians to come lecture to the group. This group, which had fostered deep friendships through similarities in profound subjects beyond the common interest in medicine, initially avoided the topic of politics altogether. However, as the regime became increasingly oppressive, the group realized the necessity of taking action.

In the early summer of 1942, Hans Scholl and Alex Schmorell wrote the first four of six opposition leaflets, called the “Leaves of the White Rose.” These leaflets attacked the Nazi regime and mentioned its crimes, from the mass extermination of Jews, to the dictatorship and the elimination of the personal freedoms of Germany’s citizens. Furthermore, it called the Nazi regime evil, and called for Germans to rise up and resist the oppression of their government. The leaflets also contained quotes from great philosophers and highly esteemed writers, demonstrating how they were clearly aimed at the intellectual public, and especially students and professors. At the bottom of the leaflets was the phrase, “Please make as many copies of this leaflet as you can and distribute them.”

The “Leaves of the White Rose” were left in telephone boxes, mailed to students and professors throughout Germany, and brought by train to spread the White Rose’s beliefs to other regions of the country. Since traveling on trains with such dangerous documents was extremely risky, females began to take on the responsibility of distributing leaflets to other cities because they were less likely to be searched by the Gestapo. Of the first hundred leaflets that the students mailed, thirty-five were given to the Gestapo. However, many of the pamphlets successfully arrived at their destinations, and some even showed up in different parts of Austria.

All four leaflets were written in a relatively short time period, between June 27 and July 12. As far as is known today, Hans Scholl wrote the first and fourth leaflets, while Alex Schmorell wrote the second and third ones. George Wittenstein edited the third and fourth leaflets. The “Leaves of the White Rose” caused a remarkable reaction among the student body, for this resistance literature challenged the regime’s authority and stimulated ideas of opposition among young people.

Sophie Scholl enrolled in the University of Munich shortly following the creation of the first leaflets, and soon learned about the White Rose society. Although Hans originally opposed her participation in the group in an attempt to defend her, he eventually surrendered and allowed her to join. Sophie soon became one of the main leaders of the group. A mutual friend of Hans and Sophie, Christoph Probst, also joined the White Rose around this time, but did not help write the leaflets since he had transferred to the University of Innsbruck.

In the later months of the summer, the University did not know what to do with the medical students they had drafted so they sent them to the Russian front for 3 months to experience medical care under fire, and to work as physician assistants in field hospitals. During this time, Willi Graf, another medical student, befriended Hans and Alex and became an active member of the group once they returned to the University in November. After seeing the treatment of the Russians, the members of the White Rose understood that the only way Germany could be saved was by losing the war, a difficult realization for the students who truly did love their homeland. Once they returned to Germany, their energy increased and they began writing their next leaflet.

When the group returned, their main objective was to increase the size of their campaign and to find willing participants at other universities to continue to spread the group’s message. By this point, bombings over Germany began to take place, and the citizens felt the effects of war; thus, they were slightly more willing to voice their opinions against the regime. Around this time, Kurt Huber, a professor of philosophy, psychology, and musicology at the University of Munich joined the campaign.

Although the pamphlets were the main method of opposition by the White Rose, on February 4, 8, and 15, they painted huge slogans on walls throughout Munich, including at the university. The graffiti was short and simple with statements such as: “Freedom!” “Down with Hitler!” and “Hitler the Mass Murderer!”

The fall of Stalingrad in February 1943 was a great turning point in the war and inspired Huber to write the fifth leaflet at the request of Hans. The group accepted the draft, making only minor changes, and sent it out between February 16 and 18. This leaflet took a different tone and was now entitled “Leaflets of the Resistance Movement of Germany,” as was the sixth and final leaflet.

While furious Nazi officials tried to clear away the unexpected call for freedom and justice, the rebellion began to spread, first by jumping to Berlin. A medical student who was friends with Hans took the responsibility of forming a similar resistance group there and brought copies of the leaflets that the group wrote. Inspired by the courage of the White Rose, students also decided to become active in Freiburg. Later, a female student carried a leaflet to Hamburg where yet another group of students took up the responsibility of spreading the resistance even further.

The sixth leaflet was the final one written. On February 18, 1943, Hans and Sophie went to the university with a large suitcase filled with leaflets to distribute. They placed stacks in the hallways minutes before lectures were dismissed, but there were still extra leaflets when finished. Consequently, Hans and Sophie went to the roof and dumped the rest of the suitcase into the court. The two nearly went unnoticed, but were observed by a senior janitor at the university who locked the doors of the building and turned them over to the Gestapo. When a draft of a leaflet that Christoph Probst had written was found in Hans’ pocket, Probst was arrested as well. Within a few days, over eighty people were arrested throughout Germany, some executed and some sent to concentration camps.

On February 22, 1943, a “People’s Court” was opened in Munich and after a trial that lasted barely four hours, Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Probst were convicted of high treason and sentenced to death. The presiding Judge, Roland Freisler, who had been sent from Berlin, could not understand what had corrupted these German youths. After all, they came from good families, attended German schools, and had been members of the Hitler Youth. Sophie shocked everyone in the courtroom with her response: “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare to express themselves as we did. You know that war is lost. Why don’t you have the courage to face it?”

Hans’ and Sophie’s parents were denied entrance to the trial. However, once escorted back to the prison, the guards permitted the Scholls to reunite for the last time since the guards were so impressed by the siblings’ bravery. The guards also permitted Sophie, Hans, and Christoph to have one last meeting. Once finished, Sophie was led first to the guillotine. A witness described Sophie as unflinching as she walked to her death. The executioner also remarked that he had never seen someone meet the end of life as courageously as she did. Next was Christoph, who shouted, “We will meet each other in a few minutes!” right before his death. Last was Hans, whose last words were simply: “Long live the freedom!” The Nazis were so eager to eliminate this danger to the regime that the news of the incident was not released until after the executions took place.

This was not the end of the killing. Alex Schmorell tried to escape to Switzerland, but had to retreat due to deep snow. He was later arrested during an air raid, after being betrayed by a former girlfriend. A second trial took place on April 19, at which Schmorell, Graf, and Huber were all tried and convicted. Schmorell and Huber were later executed on July 13, 1944, and Graf was executed on October 12. Hundreds of other people connected with the White Rose were arrested and sentenced to various punishments. George Wittenstein was the only man to survive the war. He was tried after attempting to help a Jewish woman escape from Germany, but was found not guilty and was set free.

Research Notes Sources:  "Resistance Part Eight." Reocities Archive, Rising from the Ashes – RIP Geocities… Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <>.

Scholl, Inge. The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 1983. Print.

"The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent." Jewish Virtual Library – Homepage. Web. 23 Feb. 2011. <>.

Wittenstein, George. "Points of View: Memories of The White Rose – Part One." The History Place. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <>.

Additional Notes:  Alex Schmorell, Willi Graf, and Kurt Huber were eventually executed on July 13, 1944.

George Wittenstein was the only member of the White Rose to survive.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Via Global Nonviolent Action Database


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Rome Reports in English: “How “White Rose” members fought against Hitler’s nazi regime 70 years ago”

Number of Hate Groups Spiking under Trump (Video)

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 - 12:02am

The Atlantic | (Video News Report) | – –

“According to research by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has been increasing rapidly since 2000. Heidi Beirich, director of the Center’s Intelligence Project, links the rise in recruitment to the 2000 census that predicted whites would be a minority by 2042. Beirich says there’s been another spike following the election of Donald Trump, particularly among alt-right organizations who have attached themselves directly to the current president. In an interview filmed at the 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival, Beirich says that Trump’s limited commentary on hate crimes shows his lack of concern.

The Atlantic: “Hate Groups Are Growing Under Trump”

1 in 9 Deaths are from Air Pollution & Trump is making it Worse

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 - 11:54pm

The Tree | – –

Air pollution is driving a global public health crisis. It is responsible for one in nine deaths worldwide, and touches everyone given 92% of the human race live in places that do not meet World Health Organisation guidelines. As it is also driving a climate crisis – with increasingly heavy health implications – doctors, nurses, public health practitioners and other healthcare professionals are coming together to call for practical solutions to cut pollution levels in cities and deal with both.
In a new global initiative called Unmask My City, these health groups are using air quality monitors, smartphones, and innovative LED light masks that change colour according to pollution levels to highlight the preventable and direct impacts of air pollution. These include asthma attacks, increased risks of heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and strokes, and climate change-related heatstroke, tropical disease spread, and more. The sources of and solutions to air pollution are clear. It is up to authorities to make better choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get our cities into the World Health Organization’s green “healthy” air zone by 2030.

Air pollution is responsible for 6.5 million premature deaths per year. Doctors are at the front lines, and see the increasing impact air pollution has on patient mortality and morbidity. They are now speaking out globally, like they did with cigarette smoking, to demand action from decision makers on this absolutely preventable threat to public health.

Air pollution is not just a problem for China or India. The world is becoming increasingly urban, and as it does our urban environments are becoming more and more polluted. In 1800, only three percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. Today, more than half do, and by 2050 two-thirds will. Thousands of cities around the world already consistently breach air pollution limits, and this problem will worsen without concerted action.

Eliminating air pollution is a health, climate, and economic imperative. Improving air quality and ‘unmasking’ our cities will save millions of lives, improve the health of billions, reduce health costs, drive new economic opportunities, and address the challenge of global climate change. Solutions to reduce urban air pollution are some of the most effective ways to tackle climate change in the near term. Turning around the global trend of increasing climate pollution by 2020 with the intent on reaching World Health Organization guidelines for healthy air by 2030 is critical to avoiding unmanageable levels of climate climate in the future.

Doctors were pivotal in the anti-tobacco campaigns of the late 20th century, not only helping people understand the risks of cigarette smoking, but building a compelling case to propel decision makers into action, and ensure a healthier future for people in countries all over the world.

Just like the anti-tobacco campaigns of the late 20th century, doctors are sounding alarms about the health risks of poor air quality in our cities, and through the Unmask My City initiative are aiming draw attention to the public health crisis air pollution is driving.

Air pollution drives direct health impacts like increased risk of heart disease, asthma attacks, lung cancer, respiratory diseases and stroke; and also indirect threats like heatstroke, tropical disease spread and more through its contribution to global warming. The Lancet Commission for example released a report in 2015 that not only reaffirmed the severity of the threat climate change poses to global health, but labelled it a “medical emergency”. The Lancet showed that tackling the crisis could be the “greatest health opportunity of the 21st Century”, especially considering it could undermine the last fifty years of gains in development and public health.

To highlight the global nature of this problem, Unmask My City groups are conducting “community monitoring” activities, and mapping personal exposure to bad air using AirBeam air quality monitors and the AirCasting smartphone app by US NGO HabitatMap. However, while soupy pollution in China and India makes headlines, bad air remains a largely invisible problem. To demonstrate that even clear skies can hide risky levels of air pollution, Unmask My City also makes use of custom-built LED light masks that change colour according to how good or bad the air is.

The AirBeam measures PM2.5 particulates and provides estimates of micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter air (µg/m3). The scale it uses is based on the revised Air Quality Index for PM2.5, and the colours mean:

  • Green: Good quality air with little to no risk.
  • Yellow: Moderate risks for those unusually sensitive to air pollution.
  • Orange: Unhealthy for sensitive groups
  • Red: Unhealthy for everyone, with sensitive groups potentially facing serious health effects.

Using the AirBeam and light masks in Turkey, the USA, Poland, Serbia, India, Brazil, and the UK, we found that despite there being a number of clear days where particulate pollution stayed in the green, more often than not it consistently dipped into the yellow, orange and red, showing risky and unhealthy levels of pollution.

The reasons for this vary between cities – some face problems from traffic pollution, others from heavy industry, some from reliance on dirty coal power, and others from low stack emissions such as coal boilers for heating – but the result for all is the same: regular exposure unhealthy air for their citizens. As the world is becoming increasingly urban, with more than half of people living in cities today and two-thirds by 2050, it is little wonder that increasing numbers of people worldwide are being regularly exposed to urban air pollution.

This problem will worsen without concerted action. Fortunately, we have the knowledge, the technology, and the global understanding that cleaning up our planet is not a choice, but an urgent necessity, and the rewards for action are tremendous.

Many policies to address air pollution and climate change are “no-regret”, in that they will reduce ill health, enhance resilience, alleviate poverty and address inequality. For example by investing in clean energy over fossil fuels, and in public and active transport over internal combustion engine cars governments will not only be reducing the climate threat, immediately improving air quality and reducing respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, but will also be supporting technologies already shown to improve the lives of the world’s poor faster and cheaper.

Everyone has a right to safe, clean air, and that means air pollution levels must be brought in line with World Health Organisation safety standards in our cities. To get there by 2030, we need practical solutions and tangible city level policy changes to drive a clear, downward global trend in urban air pollution. This will save millions of lives, improve health outcomes for billions of people, and make a huge contribution to greenhouse gas reductions needed to keep the world safe from climate change crises.

Via The Tree


Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: “America Choking On Corporate Freedom”

The Historical Falsehoods That Feed White Supremacy

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 - 11:35pm

Peter J. Hammer | ( Yes! Magazine) | – –

Behind the racist slogans are historical tropes that the broader White America clings to, not just those who showed up for the “Unite the Right” protests.

White supremacist racism is shaking Charlottesville and the country. It is difficult to make sense out of such nonsense. Protesters chanted “take America back,” “you will not replace us,” and “blood and soil,” a well-known Nazi rallying cry. But they came to fight, not speak, fueled by anger and projecting their own deep anxieties onto the feared “other.”

This type of hatred is not new in America. Behind the racist slogans are historical tropes that the broader White America clings to, not just those who showed up for the “Unite the Right” protests.

Here are some. Sure slavery was awful, but that was a long time ago. We all just need to get over it. The Irish overcame indentured servitude, Other immigrant groups faced discrimination, and have successfully integrated economically and politically into America, so why can’t African Americans. This is underscored with an ingrained invocation of the American Dream and the repeated mantra that if anyone just works hard enough, they will succeed.

This is an opportunity to ask deeper questions about the nature of racism.

These are the historical rationalizations of anti-Blackness.

It is easy to turn these sentiments into slogans and placards that advance a White supremacist agenda. But more damaging is articulating them in a manner fit for polite conversation, and in forms appropriate for publication in high school history texts.

Decent White people are embarrassed by the violence in Charlottesville, and many appropriately condemn their actions. But let’s not be too quick to dismiss it as just episodic or aberrational.

This is an opportunity to ask deeper questions about the nature of racism, and the ongoing legacy of White supremacy as it defines the structure and institutions of America today.

What happened in Charlottesville shows how much American racism is grounded in American history. The genesis of the planned “United the Right” protest was the decision to remove a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in what is now called Emancipation Park. It was renamed from Lee Park in June. But racial history goes deeper than the Civil War. Charlottesville is only a stone’s throw from Thomas Jefferson’s slave plantation at Monticello. It is only 140 miles northwest of Jamestown, the location of one of the earliest British colonies.

African descendants have always been a part of U.S. history.

Most initial European residents of 1600s Jamestown were Scottish and English indentured servants, committing their labor for a period of years in exchange for the costs of their voluntary passage. African descendants have always been a part of U.S. history. The arrival for Africans in Jamestown is most often dated at 1619, with the visit of a distressed Dutch slave ship.

But what is the meaning of “slavery” or notions of “Black” and “White” in a world before these labels are given legal and social construction?

After 1619, these were fluid categories. Africans joined Europeans as indentured servants also, serving for a period of time before becoming “free.” In this common status, there were numerous examples of mutual aid between common indebted laborers from different continents. It was not until 1641, in Massachusetts, that a notion of slavery was given legal status. It would take decades more for similar legal categories to be formalized in Virginia.

As the status of European male decedents evolved into new legal, economic, and social entitlements, the status of African descendants devolved into increasingly complicated institutions of chattel slavery, followed by centuries of social and economic degradation.

In terms of economic opportunity, the paths of these former common indentured servants would never cross again.

The overt racist attitudes of the South became a successful export to the North.

Slavery legally ended in 1865 with the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, Virginia, some 65 miles southwest of Charlottesville. But as historian Eric Foner famously noted, newly freed slaves were given “nothing but freedom”—no land, no access to institutionalized systems of education, and no political rights after the demise of Reconstruction and the elimination of the Freedman’s Bureau. The end of the Civil War also saw the genesis of the Ku Klux Klan, a violent arm of domestic terrorism designed to politically and economically disenfranchise African Americans, an organization celebrated at the “Unite the Right rally” in Charlottesville.

The overt racist attitudes of the South became a successful export to the North. Fueled by the genocidal campaigns against Native Americans with the wars of western expansion, waves of immigrants from the “wrong” types of eastern and southern European nations, who could not claim the status of White, and the rise of America as an imperial power in the Philippines and elsewhere after the Spanish American War, most “White” Americans were unapologetically White supremacists by 1915.

And as White supremacy spread, African Americans suffered.

Institutions of slavery transformed themselves into institutions of Jim Crow segregation. And nowhere is the story of inequality more dramatically illustrated than in the history of housing discrimination and its impact of African American wealth and opportunity. Housing discrimination was grounded in discriminatory federal policies expressly denying African Americans loans to buy houses and local policies and attitudes that confined them.

This has had profound and lasting implications. The primary way wealth has been accumulated and transferred between generations in the last century has been through housing.

The historical paths of the U.S. Black experience and the White experience cannot be reasonably equated.

Access to quality housing and federally subsidized loans created the White middle class. The exclusion of African Americans from housing also marked their exclusion from the ability to accumulate wealth and live in neighborhoods with good schools, jobs, and social opportunity. Like interest, these differences compound over time. They do not diminish. As a result, the average White family today has 13 times greater average wealth than the average Black family.

The past did not go anywhere.

In contrast, the English and Scottish indentured servants in Jamestown eventually became freemen, property owners, and enfranchised citizens. While Irish immigrants faced substantial discrimination and were not initially considered White, this changed over time. Notions of Whiteness were reconstructed to include not only the Irish but southern and eastern Europeans, with all of the entitlements that status afforded.

The historical paths of the U.S. Black experience and the White experience cannot be reasonably equated. Yet, some of these contested and disembodied notions of Whiteness and its alleged supremacy stand at the center of the violence unfolding in Charlottesville.

There is a lack of political coherence, beyond fear and hatred. The riots represented an alliance between pro-Confederates and pro-Nazis, both representing anti-Blackness, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrants, basically anti-others. Clearly these forces have gathered momentum by the political space created by the Trump campaign and Trump presidency.

In Racing to Justice, john a. powell, Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at U.C. Berkeley, describes the origins of the American psyche as that of an isolated White self, born of the twin parentage of the European Enlightenment and institutions of chattel slavery. The anxiety and self-loathing of these isolated White selves was on display in the streets of Charlottesville, projecting their hatred at their construction of the “other.”

These are dangerous trends that must be countered. The United States has witnessed significant movements for civil rights, but has never witnessed a sustained campaign of anti-racism.

More honest dialogue about the less recognized effects of White supremacy in American institutions and mythology as part of an explicitly anti-racist agenda would help draw the air out of the movements behind the violence in Charlottesville. It would put us on the path to meaningful social change and racial equity.

Peter J. Hammer is a professor at Wayne State University Law School and the director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights in Detroit. The Keith Center is dedicated to promoting the educational, economic, and political power of underrepresented communities in urban settings.

Via Yes! Magazine


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Ivory’s Historical Connection to the Slave Trade | National Geographic

Fascism in Charlottesville: Why it had a monopoly on violence & Intimidation

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 - 3:08am

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

In his unhinged news conference on Tuesday, Trump equated what he called the “alt-Left” (which is not a thing) with the alt-Right. He characterized the latter as good people who were just protesting removing a statue of the traitor Robert E. Lee and wondered if statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (not notably traitors to the United States of America) would be removed next.

At one point he asked who the alt-Right are.

The answer is only knowable by how they behave. The racist, violent throng in Charlottesville revealed themselves by their tactics to be fascists.

Trump as usual sidestepped all the really important issues. Charlottesville was not about ideas or statues. It was an attempt to demonstrate the political efficacy of acting unconstitutionally, as a menacing mass able to intimidate people. Fascism doesn’t have many ideas, and isn’t the same in each country. Mussolini, Franco and Hitler were all very different in policy and style, and all of them are different from Trump. That’s one reason why the easy resort to Hitler analogies is usually not very illuminating (though you have a sinking feeling that we may need to entertain more such analogies now).

People don’t come to mere rallies with Klan torches and bats and shields and brickbats and even guns. The Unite the Right mob invasion of Charlottesville was not a political protest. It was intended as a Kristallnacht, as the breaking of the windows of the shops of the liberal Jews and Blacks who the ‘Alt-Right’ believes runs the small college town of Charlottesville.

Aljazeera English: “US: Torch-wielding white supremacists protest Confederate statue’s removal”

The organizers of this mob action got enormous bang for their buck. A few hundred people, many of them armed and dangerous, were able to model for the whole country how it is possible to sidestep democratic institutions and go straight for the public jugular, with visceral hatred and identity politics and whipping up fear.

The ISIL-style vehicular terrorism that killed Heather Heyer and injured 19 others, sending bodies flying, was only one instance of wanton violence perpetrated by the Alt-Right. (And by the way, Trump’s impassioned defense of the creeps is still not matched by any praise for Heather.)

A white gang also beat DeAndre Harris to within an inch of his life.

ABC7: Photographing A White Supremacist Attack — Charlottesville

The fascists were emboldened to perform this demonstration project by the knowledge that the president is a right wing billionaire who is generally supportive of their goals. Fascists are mostly lower middle class but they want to get rich and join the billionaires, and so are willing to act as the shock troops of the anti-social section of the rich (i.e. Trump and the Kochs, not Warren Buffett). In return, they get to categorize themselves as in the same faction as Donald Trump, as though suddenly thereby their toilet seats will turn into gold, as well. They get to be better by simple mantras of racial exclusivism, than Jews, Blacks, Latinos, Asians and Muslims. They get to rise to the top of the heap, not because of hard work or special insights or striving for higher education, but just by being free to throw around racial slurs and stick their chests out and brandishing assault rifles they have courtesy the pro-Right NRA Lobby.

Here is how Alan Zimmerman described the situation at his synagogue in Charlottesville on Saturday morning:

“On Saturday morning, I stood outside our synagogue with the armed security guard we hired after the police department refused to provide us with an officer during morning services. (Even the police department’s limited promise of an observer near our building was not kept — and note, we did not ask for protection of our property, only our people as they worshipped).

Forty congregants were inside. Here’s what I witnessed during that time.

For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple. Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either. Perhaps the presence of our armed guard deterred them. Perhaps their presence was just a coincidence, and I’m paranoid. I don’t know.

Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, “There’s the synagogue!” followed by chants of “Seig Heil” and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.”

Cornell West also reported of the white nationalist thugs,

“But what happened was, they held us hostage in the church. We could not leave after the service, because the torch march threatening the people who were there…”

… You had a number of the courageous students, of all colors, at the University of Virginia who were protesting against the neofascists themselves. The neofascists had their own ammunition. And this is very important to keep in mind, because the police, for the most part, pulled back. The next day, for example, those 20 of us who were standing, many of them clergy, we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the antifascists who approached, over 300, 350 antifascists. We just had 20. And we’re singing “This Little light of Mine,” you know what I mean? So that the—

AMY GOODMAN: “Antifa” meaning antifascist.

CORNEL WEST: The antifascists, and then, crucial, the anarchists, because they saved our lives, actually.

If these individuals really were there to protest the removal of a statue in a democratic way, they had other choices. They could have joined in local politics, gone to city council meetings, walked neighborhoods, tried to elect a different city council. But how likely would they have been, you ask, to succeed in a liberal college town? One of the more essential elements in democratic practice is that the losers in a political contest accept defeat and go home. Where that doesn’t happen, as in Libya in 2014 and after, you get civil war. Democracy isn’t a guarantee of your views winning and being implemented. It is a guarantee that you get to make a reasoned, public appeal for them before people vote on them.

Trump, and Faux News’s phony equivalence of the fascist mobsters with the counter-protesters is easily refuted. How many people did the counter-protesters put in the hospital? What policy did they attempt to force illegitimately on the democratically elected leaders? How are they, like Trump and his corporate backers, trying to poison our water, spew toxic carbon dioxide into the air and take away people’s health insurance, for the sake of corporate profits?

Shouting Sieg Heil at a synagogue is not democratic process, it is thuggery. And ultimately, all fascism is is commonplace mass thuggery.

The novelist E. L. Doctorow wrote in Billy Bathgate that mobsters view death as a form of garbage. When a gangster loses his temper and kicks a man to death, he has to call cleaners to take out the trash. The criminality of fascism is likewise just a way of making a healthy society into sewage, with hobnail boots and brandishing of weapons and marching and torches and angry racial slurs. It is as banal as turds in a toilet. It builds nothing, makes nothing, invents nothing. It just swallows up everything that is good and turns it into shit.

That, Mr. President, is what your alt-Right is. And if it is what you identify with, then so are you.

Think there’s too much Trouble in the World? Now Global Heating is Kicking In

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 - 1:55am

Gulrez Shah Azhar | (Project Syndicate) | – –

SANTA MONICA – With India experiencing its worst drought in 140 years, Indian farmers have taken to the streets. At a protest in Madhya Pradesh this summer, police opened fire on farmers demanding debt relief and better crop prices, killing five. In Tamil Nadu, angry growers have held similar protests, and lit candles in remembrance of those killed. And at one rally in New Delhi, farmers carried human skulls, which they say belonged to farmers who have committed suicide following devastating crop losses over the past six months.

According to a recent study by Tamma A. Carleton of the University of California, Berkeley, suicides among Indian farmers have increased with the temperature, such that an increase of 1º Celsius above the average temperature on a given day is associated with approximately 70 additional suicides, on average.

Beyond exposing failed farming policies, this year’s drought-fueled turmoil also underscores the threat that climate change poses not just to India, but to all countries. As global temperatures rise and droughts become more common, political agitation, social unrest, and even violence will likely follow.

In 2008, when severe weather cut into the world’s grain supply and drove up food prices, countries ranging from Morocco to Indonesia experienced social and political upheavals. More recently, food insecurity has been used as a weapon in the wars in Yemen and Syria.

According to the Center for Climate and Security, failure to address such “climate-driven risks” could lead to increased fighting over water, food, energy, and land, particularly in already unstable regions. CCS identifies 12 “epicenters” where climate change might ignite or exacerbate conflicts that could engulf large populations, and spill across national borders.

It is no coincidence that conflicts proliferate alongside rising temperatures. A 2013 study estimates that interpersonal violence rises by 4%, and intergroup conflicts by 14%, “for each one standard deviation change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall.” Moreover, psychological studies have shown that when people are subjected to uncomfortably hot temperatures, they show increased levels of aggression. And new research is finding that what is true for the individual also holds true for populations.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, researchers have found a strong correlation between three decades of rising temperatures and outbreaks of civil war. If warming trends continue, civil wars and other conflicts will become more common in Africa, the South China Sea, the Arctic, Central America, and elsewhere. Avoiding such outcomes will require renewed support for multilateral treaties such as the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which has been weakened by the withdrawal of the United States. But it will also require increased engagement by countries, cities, and industries on three key areas: resource management, disaster mitigation, and migration.

In largely agricultural societies, farm productivity affects the entire economy. As we’ve seen in the Horn of Africa and India this year, changes in temperature and rainfall can reduce crop yields, and thus rural incomes. Under such conditions, and in the absence of other economic opportunities, communities may resort to violence as they compete for food and scarce resources.

International aid organizations, working with state and federal governments, should go beyond addressing the immediate causes of poverty to also develop long-term strategies for helping agricultural communities survive bad harvests. Such strategies should focus on arable-land management and water conservation, among other areas.

Additionally, new strategies are needed to coordinate disaster-relief efforts. As the climate changes, weather-related calamities such as floods, hurricanes, landslides, and typhoons will increase in frequency, intensity, and duration, undermining individual livelihoods and the broader economy. Governments must work together to mitigate these risks, and to respond forcefully to disasters when they happen. Otherwise, the fallout will disproportionately hurt poor and vulnerable communities, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and violence.


Finally, we need better policies for managing human migration, much of it related to severe weather and droughts. In 2015, the number of international migrants reached a record high of 244 million. As the climate shifts, entire regions could become uninhabitable, and many more people will be uprooted. Parts of the Middle East, for example, could become too hot for humans by the end of this century; and heavily populated cities such as New Delhi could experience temperatures over 95º Fahrenheit (35º C) up to 200 days out of the year. The International Organization for Migration fears that as more people flee the heat, the concentration of humanity into smaller spaces will have an unprecedented impact on local “coping capacity.”

Scientists agree that climate change poses a grave danger to the planet. But for some reason, politicians and government officials have not connected the dots between a changing climate and human conflicts. Among the many threats associated with climate change, deteriorating global security may be the most frightening of all. It is bad enough to see farmers carrying skulls through the streets of India. But if we do not get serious about climate-driven security risks, we could see far worse.

Gulrez Shah Azhar is an Aspen New Voices fellow, an assistant policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, and a PhD candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

Licensed from Project Syndicate

Related video added by Juan Cole:

VICE News: “Al Gore Explains The Threat That Trump Poses to Our Climate (HBO)”

Answering Trump’s Question: Who are the “Alt-Right” Among Us?

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 - 1:41am

By George Michael | (The Conversation) | – –

Over the past year, far-right activists – which some have labeled the “alt-right” – have gone from being an obscure, largely online subculture to a player at the very center of American politics.

On August 12, an amalgamation of far-right activist groups, ranging from Vanguard America to Identity Evropa, convened in Charlottesville, Virginia for a “Unite the Right” rally. The event took a tragic turn tragic when a 20-year-old white supremacist from Ohio plowed into a crowd of counter-demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19.

Long relegated to the cultural and political fringe, alt-right activists were among the most enthusiastic supporters of Donald Trump. Former executive Steve Bannon – who declared the website “the platform for the alt-right” – is the President’s chief political strategist.

I’ve spent years extensively researching the American far right, and the movement seems more energized than ever. To its critics, the alt-right is just a code term for white nationalism, a much-maligned ideology associated with neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The movement, however, is more nuanced, encompassing a much broader spectrum of right-wing activists and intellectuals.

How did the movement gain traction in recent years? And has the alt-right already changed America’s political landscape?

Mainstreaming a movement

The alt-right includes white nationalists, but it also includes those who believe in libertarianism, men’s rights, cultural conservatism and populism.

Nonetheless, its origins can be traced to various American white nationalist movements that have endured for decades. These groups have historically been highly marginalized, with virtually no influence on the mainstream culture and certainly not over public policy. Some of the most radical elements have long advocated a revolutionary program.

Groups such as the Aryan Nations, White Aryan Resistance, the National Alliance and the World Church of the Creator have preached racial revolution against ZOG, or the “Zionist Occupation Government.” Many were inspired by the late William L. Pierce’s “Turner Diaries,” a novel about a race war that consumes America. (Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, had pages from the book in his possession when he was captured.)

But these exhortations didn’t resonate with most people. What’s more, after 9/11, many of the revolutionary right’s leading representatives were prosecuted under new anti-terrorism statutes and sent to prison. By the mid-2000s, the far right appeared to have reached its nadir.

Into this void stepped Richard Spencer and a new group of far-right intellectuals.

In 2008, conservative political philosopher Paul Gottfried was the first to use the term “alternative right,” describing it as a dissident far-right ideology that rejected mainstream conservatism. (Gottfried had previously coined the term “paleoconservative” in an effort to distance himself and like-minded intellectuals from neoconservatives, who had become the dominant force in the Republican Party.)

William Regnery II – a wealthy and reclusive publisher – founded the National Policy Institute as a white nationalist think tank. A young and rising star of the far right, Spencer assumed leadership in 2011. A year earlier, he launched the website “Alternative Right” and became recognized as one of the most important, expressive leaders of the alt-right movement.

Around this time, Spencer popularized the term “cuckservative,” which has gained currency in the alt-right vernacular. In essence, a cuckservative is a conservative sellout who is first and foremost concerned about abstract principles such as the U.S. Constitution, free market economics and individual liberty.

The alt-right, on the other hand, is more concerned about concepts such as nation, race, civilization and culture. Spencer has worked hard to rebrand white nationalism as a legitimate political movement. Explicitly rejecting the notion of racial supremacy, Spencer calls for the creation of separate, racially exclusive homelands for white people.

Different factions

The primary issue for American white nationalists is immigration. They claim that high fertility rates for third-world immigrants and low fertility rates for white women will – if left unchecked – threaten the very existence of whites as a distinct race.

But even on the issue of demographic displacement, there’s disagreement in the white nationalist movement. The more genteel representatives of the white nationalism argue that these trends developed over time because whites have lost the temerity necessary to defend their racial group interests.

By contrast, the more conspiratorial segment of the movement implicates a deliberate Jewish-led plot to reduce whites to minority status. By doing so, Jews would render their historically most formidable “enemy” weak and minuscule – just another minority among many.

Emblematic of the latter view is Kevin MacDonald, a former psychology professor at the California State University at Long Beach. In a trilogy of books released in the mid- to late 1990s, he advanced an evolutionary theory to explain both Jewish and antisemitic collective behavior.

According to MacDonald, antisemitism emerged not so much out of perceived fantasies of Jewish malfeasance but because of what he argued were genuine conflicts of interests between Jews and Gentiles. He’s claimed that Jewish intellectuals, activists and leaders have sought to fragment Gentile societies along the lines of race, ethnicity and gender. Over the past decade and a half, his research has been circulated and celebrated in white nationalist online forums.

A growing media and internet presence

Cyberspace became one area where white nationalists could exercise some limited influence on the broader culture. The subversive, underground edges of the internet – which include forums like 4chan and 8chan – have allowed young white nationalists to anonymously share and post comments and images. Even on mainstream news sites such as USA Today, The Washington Post and The New York Times, white nationalists can troll the comments sections.

More important, new media outlets emerged online that began to challenge their mainstream competitors: Drudge Report, Infowars and, most notably, Breitbart News.

Founded by Andrew Breitbart in 2007, Breitbart News has sought to be a conservative outlet that influences both politics and culture. For Breitbart, conservatives didn’t adequately prioritize winning the culture wars – conceding on issues like immigration, multiculturalism and political correctness – which ultimately enabled the political left to dominate the public discourse on these topics.

As he noted in 2011, “politics really is downstream from culture.”

The candidacy of Donald Trump enabled a disparate collection of groups – which included white nationalists – to coalesce around one candidate. But given the movement’s ideological diversity, it would be a serious mischaracterization to label the alt-right as exclusively white nationalist.

Yes, Breitbart News has become popular with white nationalists. But the site has also unapologetically backed Israel. Since its inception, Jews – including Andrew Breitbart, Larry Solov, Alexander Marlow, Joel Pollak, Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos – have held leading positions in the organization.

Furthermore, the issues that animate the movement – consternation over immigration, national economic decline and political correctness – existed long before Trump announced his candidacy. As political scientist Francis Fukuyama opined, the real question is not why this brand of populism emerged in 2016, but why it took so long to manifest.

Mobilized for the future?

The success of the Trump campaign demonstrated the potential influence of the alt-right in the coming years. At first blush, Trump’s victory in the Electoral College seems substantial. But his margin of victory in several key states was quite slim. For that reason, support from every quarter he received – including the alt-right – was vitally important.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that they were among his most avid foot soldiers in getting out the vote in both the primaries and general election. Moreover, the Trump campaign provided the opportunity for members of this movement to meet face to face.

Shortly after the election, Richard Spencer said that Trump’s victory was “the first step, the first stage towards identity politics for white people.” During the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said, “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

But if Trump fails to deliver on his most emphatic campaign promises – such as building the wall – the alt-right might become disillusioned with him, just like the progressives who chastised Barack Obama for continuing to prosecute wars in the Middle East.

Unlike old-school white nationalist movements, the alt-right has endeavored to create a self-sustaining counterculture, which includes a distinct vernacular, memes, symbols and a number of blogs and alternative media outlets.

Now that it has been mobilized, the alt-right is gaining a firmer foothold in American politics.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article first published on Nov. 23, 2016.

George Michael, Professor of Criminal Justice, Westfield State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer Praises Donald Trump After Charlottesville | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Neo-Nazi Website forced on to ‘Dark Web’ as no ISP Wants Them

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 - 1:34am

TeleSur | – –

Web hosting firms, Sendgrid, SaaS and Zoho as well as tech firm Discord are the latest providers to dump The Daily Stormer.

Citing terms of service violations, more companies have followed Go Daddy and Google’s lead by severing their business ties with The Daily Stormer.

The Neo-Nazi website which helped to organize the violent gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday, has been forced underground because its registration to use the open internet has been revoked.

Google Also Drops Neo-Nazi Site After GoDaddy Dumps It

Web hosting firms, Sendgrid, SaaS and Zoho and Discord, a tech firm, are the latest providers to cut loose The Daily Stormer which describes itself as “The World’s Most Genocidal Republican Website”. 

The internet boycott has forced it onto the ‘Dark Web’, which is not indexed by popular search engines, hides the identity and location of users and can only be accessed via a special browser. 

Godaddy giving The Daily Stormer the boot… over four years after it was registered. That’s some true leadership right there. ��

— Ryan Block (@ryan) August 14, 2017

The Daily Stormer published an article celebrating the death of 32-year-old, Heather Heyer, an anti-fascist demonstrator who was killed by a far-right demonstrator as he rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, the TechCrunch reported. 

GoDaddy Inc and Alphabet’s Google said the group had violated terms of service, which prohibit clients from using their sites to incite violence.

Ahead of the Virginia rally, Airbnb also deactivated the accounts of several people after learning they were using the platform to book accommodation to attend the rally and host after-parties related to the event.  The website cited its "non-discrimination policy" as the reason for the decision. 

"In 2016, we established the Airbnb Community Commitment reflecting our belief that to make good on our mission of belonging, those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age," the website said in a statement. 

"There are those who would be pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this case, removing them from the platform," the website added. 

.@Cloudflare is now hosting The Daily Storm. RT if you think this website should be dropped and banned for violating terms of service.

— Girls Really Rule. (@girlsreallyrule) August 14, 2017

However, CloudFlare which provides website security including bolstering defenses against denial of service attacks and masking the identity of a site’s domain provider, appears to be still providing DDoS protection services to The Daily Stormer.

“CloudFlare is aware of the concerns that have been raised over some sites that have used our network. We find the content on some of these sites repugnant. While our policy is to not comment on any user specifically, we are cooperating with law enforcement in any investigation," the firm told Techcrunch. 

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

GoDaddy dumps a white supremacist site after Twitter outcry | Engadget Today

Is it time for Trump Administration to stop Declaring War on every Problem?

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 - 1:20am

By Rebecca Gordon | (Via ) | – –

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been fighting a “war on terror.” Real soldiers have been deployed to distant lands; real cluster bombs and white phosphorus have been used; real cruise missiles have been launched; the first MOAB, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal, has been dropped; and real cities have been reduced to rubble. In revenge for the deaths of 2,977 civilians that day, real people — in the millions — have died and millions more have become refugees. But is the war on terror actually a war at all — or is it only a metaphor?

In a real war, nations or organized non-state actors square off against each other. A metaphorical war is like a real war — after all, that’s what a metaphor is, a way of saying that one thing is like something else — but the enemy isn’t a country or even a single group of Islamic jihadists. It’s some other kind of threat: a disease, a social problem, or in the case of the war on terror, an emotion.

In truth, it may not matter if the war on terror is a real one, since metaphorical wars have a striking way of killing real people in real numbers, too. Take the U.S war on drugs, for example. In Mexico, that war, fueled by U.S. weapons, using U.S. drones, and conducted with the assistance of the Pentagon and the CIA, has already led to the deaths of many thousands of people. A 2015 U.S. Congressional Research Service report estimates that organized crime caused 80,000 deaths in Mexico between 2007 and 2015. Most of the guns used in what has essentially been a mass murder spree came from this country, which is also the main market for the marijuana, cocaine, and heroin that are the identified enemy in this war of ours. As with our more literal wars of recent years, the war on drugs shows no sign of ending (nor does the U.S. hunger for drugs show any sign of abating). If anyone is winning this particular war, it’s the drugs — and, of course, the criminal cartels that move them across the continent.

American metaphorical wars fought in my own lifetime began with President Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty,” first announced in 1964 when I was 12 years old. Indeed, my mother “served” in that war. We lived in Washington, D.C., at the time and she worked for the United Planning Organization, a community-based group funded under Johnson’s Model Cities program. It fought poverty in the slums of my hometown, just a few blocks from the White House. As with other similar groups around the country, its personnel tested new “weapons” in the war on poverty — job training programs, citizen advice bureaus, and community-organizing efforts of various sorts. I was proud that my mother was a “soldier” in that war, which for a few brief years it even looked like we might be winning.

And there were victories. After all, the legacy of Johnson’s Great Society and the war that went with it included Medicare for older people — I’ll be starting on it next month myself — and Medicaid for people of any age living in poverty. The struggles, sacrifices, and deaths of civil rights activists together with Johnson’s political mastery gave us the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (Of course the Trump Justice Department is doing its best to roll back both of these victories.) Then, as now, poverty touched the lives of many white people, but it flourished most abundantly in black and brown communities and so these new rights for people of color, some of us believed, signaled a light at the end of the tunnel when it came to the genuine abatement of poverty.

By 1968, Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Council were addressing poverty across racial divides, organizing a Poor People’s Campaign. It was to include a march on Washington and culminate in the building on the Capitol Mall of a “Resurrection City,” which was to serve as a model — a metaphor — for a United States risen from the cross of poverty. King was, however, murdered that April and so didn’t live to see that city.  It turned out, in any case, to be a plywood encampment that would be drowned in mud from days of torrential rain. In the minds of those who still remember it, Resurrection City became a sad metaphor for Lyndon Johnson’s war. “The war on poverty,” as the saying went, “is over.  Poverty won.”

Meanwhile, much of the country was distracted from that metaphorical war by an actual war in Vietnam, where the only metaphor around was the insistence of commander of U.S. forces General William Westmoreland that there was “light at the end of the tunnel” when it came to that disastrous conflict.

What’s in a Metaphor?

The war on poverty was hardly this country’s first metaphorical war. In the 1930s, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover launched a “war on crime,” anticipating by some 40 years Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, which itself has lasted another 40 years with no end in sight. Nixon also gave us the “war on cancer” — still ongoing — even as he continued to pursue the actual war in Vietnam, a rare American conflict in the second half of the twentieth century, metaphorical or otherwise, that came to a definitive end (even if in defeat).

Nor is the United States alone in fighting “wars” against nonhuman enemies. The World Bank, for example, ran a seven-year “total war” on AIDS in Kenya. The project ended in 2014, by which time 1.6 million people, or 6% of the population, were infected with HIV. Perhaps the bank was smarter than the U.S. in choosing to declare victory and go home, as at one point Vermont Governor George Aiken famously suggested we should do in relation to Vietnam.

What, you might wonder, is the problem in using the metaphor of war to represent a collective effort to battle and overcome some social evil? Certainly, fighting a war often requires from whole populations a special kind of heroic focus, a willingness to mobilize and sacrifice, a commitment to community or country, and for those in uniform, loyalty to one’s fellow soldiers. It also requires people to relinquish their own petty interests in the service of a greater whole. Correspondent Chris Hedges caught this aspect of war in the title of his powerful book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. Aren’t such qualities useful ones to bring to the struggle to solve urgent, life-destroying problems like disease, poverty, or addiction? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if human beings could confront those horrors with the same kind of passion, intensity, and funding we bring to actual wars?

Yes and no. A metaphor is, of course, an implied comparison in which two things share enough qualities in common that calling one by the other’s name will be illuminating. If, for instance, you said, “Donald Trump is a giant Cheeto,” you wouldn’t be suggesting that the president is actually a large, puffy piece of junk food. You would be highlighting the way he shares with that particular delicacy a certain orange coloration, as well as an airy structure that crumbles when you try to get your teeth into it — as so many of Trump’s statements crumble in the jaws of truth.

Metaphors only work when the similarity between two things is striking enough that you learn something about one by comparing it to the other. Those two things must also, however, be different in crucial ways, or what you have isn’t a metaphor but an equation. For instance, Trump as Cheeto works exactly because you and I are unlikely to transfer to Donald J. Trump the feelings and attitudes we have toward Cheetos. We know enough about the nature of both never to want to eat the president, however much we may love the salty crunch of that snack food. When, however, you know less about at least one of the terms of comparison — or less than you think you do — then a powerful metaphor can be a deceiver, making us think we understand a phenomenon that actually goes over our heads (another metaphor). A bad metaphor can affect how we act individually and as a society and in some grim cases even whether we, or others, live or die.

And the use of war as a metaphor — the treating of every human ill as if it were an enemy that could be defeated by a battle plan — works just that way. When we declare war on phenomena like crime, drugs, or terror, instantly militarizing such problems, we severely limit our means for understanding and dealing with them.

The Power of Metaphor

What happens, for example, when we transform the problem of human addiction into a war on drugs? For one thing, fighting a war requires an enemy, at least one group that, given the logic of war, we can imagine as not quite human as well as an existential danger to the rest of us. It’s easy to forget that the ultimate aim of the war on drugs is not, or at least should not be, to destroy drug users but to release them from the prison of addiction (to mix metaphors dangerously).  Instead, not just drugs but drug users often become the enemy.

One consequence of militarizing the problem of drugs — a lesson from the war on terror, too — is that our survival comes to seem dependent on ensuring that captured enemies be detained until the end of hostilities.  And since such hostilities never seem to end, that means essentially forever. In other words, as soon as you make war on drugs (and so on those who use them), the urge to end the real human suffering that drug addiction causes quickly devolves into, in Trumpian terms, “winning.”  That, in turn, means ensuring vastly more suffering through actual violence and the endless incarceration of millions of people, a startling number of them for drug offenses, or what might be thought of as the Guantanamo-ization of America.

Can a metaphor really do all that? It can indeed when it so limits our vision that any other approach becomes unthinkable, unimaginable. In the war on drugs, as in all wars, there must be good guys and bad guys, good citizens who are to be mobilized (at least in their sympathies) against not-quite-human drug users. Similarly, when we declare war on a disease, like cancer, we risk limiting understanding of the disease process to models like invasion, or territorial aggression, and so limit imaginable treatments to therapies that eradicate the invaders with poison or radiation. In effect, we accept that in the case of cancer, as in the case of the Vietnamese village of Ben Tre, it may be necessary to destroy the patient in order to save her. (This is not to say that chemotherapy and radiation don’t save lives; they do. Rather, it suggests that a military approach to disease can cause doctors to think of patients as battlefields, rather than as people.)

There’s another problem with declaring “wars” on threats to human well-being: a tendency to conflate the threat and the victim of the threat. A war on AIDS becomes a campaign to protect “society” from “AIDS carriers,” as happened in 1986 when California voters were asked to approve Proposition 64, which would have made it possible to quarantine everyone in the state with HIV. Proposition 64 was soundly defeated, but by then almost 30% of that state’s voters had been convinced that the enemy they confronted wasn’t AIDS, but people living with AIDS. 

Suppose we were to think about the struggle to deal with drug abuse not as a metaphorical war, but as a real public health problem (as seems to be happening in the case of the opioid crisis that presently affects mainly white people).  What might change? For one thing, we might be able to separate the concepts of drug use and criminality in our minds. Not automatically identifying drug use with crime might make it possible to imagine adopting a program similar to Portugal’s decriminalization of drug possession. In 2001, that country stopped prosecuting simple possession of all illegal drugs and made government-run drug treatment easily available. Unlike the rest of Europe, let alone the United States, Portugal’s addiction rates have plummeted since decriminalization took effect and that country began putting funds that would previously have gone into incarceration into treatment instead. With Americans stuck on the idea of fighting a drug war, however, the Portuguese example remains beyond imagining here. It would be the moral equivalent of surrender.

Another problem with war as a metaphor for social ills is that warring and caring call upon very different moral qualities. While both share characteristics like courage, persistence, and often the need to endure real hardship, the prosecution of war also requires other qualities: obedience, indifference to the suffering of oneself and others, and the necessity of viewing the world in black and white. War requires that we recognize in ourselves only virtue and, in our foe, only inhuman evil. We should not be surprised when President Trump informs us that, in his wars on crime and drugs, the human enemies — gang members, and by extension immigrants in general — are not people, but “animals.” And to be good soldiers, the rest of us are expected to practice dehumanizing the enemy, too.

When, in the twentieth century, the United States began fighting metaphorical wars against social ills, most Americans understood actual war as something with a beginning (requiring a congressional declaration) and an end (the surrender of one side, with a peace treaty to follow). However, the American wars of the second half of that century turned out to lack such clear demarcations. With the exception of outright defeat in Vietnam, starting with the Korean War, our military conflicts have lacked endings. We now have a generation of young people who have never known a time when the United States was not involved in war, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, or Yemen.

In a 2001 essay, “The War Metaphor in Public Policy: Some Moral Reflections,” the philosopher James Childress argued that, like real wars, metaphorical wars against social evils ought to be just wars. In the tradition of what ethicists call “just war theory,” legitimate wars begin for just reasons (primarily defense against direct aggression), are necessary and proportionate (military action taken is in proportion to the aggression suffered), and have a reasonable expectation of success.

Most crucially, just war theory imagines wars with beginnings and ends. But in the twenty-first century, Washington’s wars have essentially become endless, or as the Pentagon has taken to saying, “generational.” Former CIA head Michael Hayden is typical these days in predicting that the fight against ISIS alone will last 30 years. And the country’s metaphorical wars have followed an eerily similar pattern.

War metaphors mainly have the effect of distorting legitimate efforts to resolve real social problems, while at the same time cheapening our understanding of actual war. We misunderstand the complexities of a problem like poverty when we approach it as if it were an enemy to be defeated.  We also fail to appreciate the horrors of actual war when we equate the destruction of entire nations with attempts to end the suffering of impoverished people. A bad metaphor obscures at least as much as it illumines. Unlike attempts to improve people’s lives by eradicating poverty or curing disease, actual war involves the imposition of the will of one group on another, through acts causing injury, pain, destruction, and death.

Of course, as we’ve seen with recent Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare, policy proposals can kill, too, but they are not wars. It’s important to maintain that distinction. 

Rebecca Gordon, a TomDispatch regular, teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Rebecca Gordon



Related video added by Juan Cole:

Democracy Now! “Jeff Sessions Pushes New War on Drugs While Killing Obama-Era Police Reform Measures”

Why don’t People think Trump’s Denunciation sincere? B/c he Ran on Racism

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 - 2:04am

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump finally came out, two days late, to denounce explicitly and by name the hate groups who organized an invasion, hundreds-strong, of little Charlottesville, VA (pop. 46,000) on Saturday.

While the statement will take some of the political pressure off the president, it will be dismissed by most Americans as too little, too late and at worst insincere.

The difficulty Trump faces is that his initial reaction, on Saturday, in which he blamed “many sides” for the violence, was clearly spontaneous and represented his first gut reaction. He thinks that liberals, Blacks and Mexicans were as guilty as (or more so than) Steve Bannon’s Alt-Right, the Nazis, the KKK, the bikers, etc. I.e. the White Nationalists who have killed the majority of of those killed in domestic terrorist incidents during the past decade in this country.

Immediately after his pro forma, prepared statement (which carefully avoided mentioning the ‘Alt-Right’), Trump’s staff leaked his alleged plans to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona. Arpaio was notorious for his profiling-based unconstitutional round-ups of immigrants. When a court ordered him to desist, what with the fourth Amendment and all, he went on with his round-ups, and so was convicted of criminal contempt of court.

Pardoning Arpaio is the White Nationalist move.

Likewise, Trump has not backed off building his wall.

He hasn’t apologized for calling Mexican-Americans rapists and criminals.

He hasn’t apologized for his years-long public campaign to denigrate Barack Obama as not an American citizen.

He hasn’t backed off his bizarre Muslim visa ban.

In the end, there is one reason that Trump cannot heal the country, cannot properly eulogize Heather Heyer, who died for her anti-hate activism.

Because Trump, based on his public statements, would have been a perfectly plausible attendee of the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville last Saturday.


Related video:

The Oregonian: “Trump condemns KKK, neo-Nazis: ‘Racism is evil'”

Call it what it is: Domestic White Nationalist Terrorism on the Rise

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 - 12:48am

By Arie Perliger | (The Conversation) | – –

The attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a man named James Alex Fields Jr. used his Dodge Challenger as a weapon against a crowd of protesters, underscores the growing violence of America’s far-right wing.

According to reports, Fields was a active member of an online far-right community. Like many other far-right activists, he believes that he represents a wider ideological community, even though he acted alone.

My 15 years experience of studying violent extremism in Western societies has taught me that dealing effectively with far-right violence requires treating its manifestations as domestic terrorism.

In the wake of the Charlottesville attack, the Department of Justice announced it would launch a federal investigation:

“…that kind of violence, committed for seeming political ends, is the very definition of domestic terrorism.”

This acknowledgment may signal that a growing domestic menace may finally get the attention it deserves. While attacks by outsider Jihadist groups will probably continue, domestic terrorism still deserves more attention than it’s getting.

Domestic terrorism

Terrorism is a form of psychological warfare. Most terrorist groups lack the resources, expertise and manpower to defeat state actors. Instead, they promote their agenda through violence that shapes perceptions of political and social issues.

Fields’ attack, if it was motivated by racist sentiments, should be treated as an act of domestic terrorism. Here I define domestic terrorism as the use of violence in a political and social context that aims to send a message to a broader target audience. Like lynching, cross-burning and vandalizing religious sites, incidents of this kind deliberately aim to terrorize people of color and non-Christians.

I consider domestic terrorism a more significant threat than the foreign-masterminded variety, in part because the number of domestic terror attacks on U.S. soil is greater. For example, my report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point identified hundreds of domestic terror incidents taking place between 2008 and 2012.

Another report, published in 2014 by New America Foundation on domestic incidents of extremist violence, shows that excluding the Orlando nightclub massacre, between 2002-2016, far-right affiliated perpetrators conducted 18 attacks that killed 48 people in the United States. Meanwhile, terrorists motivated by al-Qaida’s or the Islamic State’s ideology killed 45 people in nine attacks.

The Orlando mass shooting, given its mix of apparent motives, is difficult to categorize.

A spontaneous appearance

In briefings with law enforcement and policymakers, I have sometimes encountered a tendency to see U.S. right-wing extremists as a monolith. But traditional Ku Klux Klan chapters operate differently than skinhead groups, as do anti-government “patriot” and militia groups and anti-abortion extremists. Christian Identity groups, which believe Anglo-Saxons and other people of Northern European descent are a chosen people, are distinct too.

Certainly, there is some overlap. But these groups also differ significantly in terms of their recruitment styles, ideologies and whether and how they use violence. Across the board, undermining the threat they pose requires a more sophisticated approach than investigating their criminal acts as suspected hate crimes.

In an ongoing study I’m conducting at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with several students, we have determined that, as it seems to be also in the case of Fields, many attacks inspired by racist or xenophobic sentiments are spontaneous. That is, no one plans them in advance or targets the victim ahead of time. Instead, chance encounters that enrage the perpetrators trigger these incidents.

Sporadic attacks with high numbers of casualties that are plotted in advance, such as Dylann Roof’s murder of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina church, are always big news. More typical incidents of far-right violence tend to draw less attention.

The fatal stabbing of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Rick Best aboard a train in Portland, Oregon on May 26 seems to be no exception. The alleged killer of these two white men, Jeremy Joseph Christian, attacked them with a knife after they stood up to him for haranguing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, police said. A third injured passenger, Micahel Fletcher, has survived. Much of the media coverage is focused on Christian’s violent and racist background.

Given the spontaneous nature of so much far-right violence, U.S. counterterrorism policies should, in my view, target the dissemination of white supremacist ideology, rather than just identifying planned attacks and monitoring established white supremacy groups.

An iceberg theory

The number of violent attacks on U.S. soil inspired by far-right ideology has spiked since the beginning of this century, rising from a yearly average of 70 attacks in the 1990s to a yearly average of more than 300 since 2001. These incidents have grown even more common since President Donald Trump’s election.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that researches U.S. extremism, reported 900 bias-related incidents against minorities in the first 10 days after Trump’s election – compared to several dozen in a normal week – and found that many of the harassers invoked the then-president-elect’s name. Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit that tracks anti-Semitism, recorded an 86 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the first three months of 2017.

Beyond the terror that victimized communities are experiencing, I would argue that this trend reflects a deeper social change in American society.

The iceberg model of political extremism, initially developed by Ehud Shprinzak, an Israeli political scientist, can illuminate these dynamics.

Murders and other violent attacks perpetrated by U.S. far-right extremists compose the visible tip of an iceberg. The rest of this iceberg is under water and out of sight. It includes hundreds of attacks every year that damage property and intimidate communities, such as the attempted burning in May of an African-American family’s garage in Schodack, New York. The garage was also defaced with racist graffiti.

Data my team collected at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point show that the significant growth in far-right violence in recent years is happening at the base of the iceberg. While the main reasons for that are still not clear, it is important to remember that changes in societal norms are usually reflected in behavioral changes. Hence, it is more than reasonable to suspect that extremist individuals engage in such activities because they sense that their views are enjoying growing social legitimacy and acceptance, which is emboldening them to act on their bigotry.

Budget cuts

Despite an uptick in far-right violence and the Trump administration’s plan unveiled earlier this year to increase the Department of Homeland Security budget by 6.7 percent to US$44.1 billion in 2018, the White House also proposed to cut spending for programs that fight non-Muslim domestic terrorism.

The federal government has also frozen $10 million in grants aimed at countering domestic violent extremism. This approach is bound to weaken the authorities’ power to monitor far-right groups, undercutting public safety.

How many more innocent people like Heather Heyer, who was killed in Fields’ attack – and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Rick Best in Seattle – have to die before the U.S. government starts taking the threat posed by violent white supremacists more seriously?

This is an updated version of an article originally published on May 28, 2017.

Arie Perliger, Director of Security Studies and Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

CBS Evening News: “Charlottesville car attack suspect denied bail in first court appearance”

Federal Agencies Warned of White Supremacist Threat in May

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 - 12:35am

By Julia Conley, staff writer. | | – –

A memo by the FBI and DHS said white supremacist groups pose a bigger threat to the U.S. than other extremist organizations.

White supremacist groups have been responsible for more homicides than any other domestic extremist movement in the past 17 years, according to a memo by the FBI and DHS.

White supremacist groups have been responsible for more homicides than any other domestic extremist movement in the past 17 years, according to a memo by the FBI and DHS. (Photo: Karla Cote/Flickr/cc)

A government intelligence report obtained by Foreign Policy shows that federal law enforcement agencies expressed concern earlier this year about the domestic threat white supremacist groups posed and would continue to pose.

While President Donald Trump spent much of his campaign and the first six months of his presidency warning Americans about the dangers posed by immigrants from Central America, refugees from majority-Muslim countries, and the street gang MS-13, the joint intelligence bulletin compiled by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notes that members of white supremacist groups were “responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016, more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

According to the two agencies, “racial minorities have been the primary victims of [white supremacist] violence. The second most common victims were other Caucasians…and other white supremacists perceived as disloyal to the white supremacist extremism [WSE] movement.”

The report is dated May 10, five days before prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer led protests over Charlottesville, Virginia’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee—a demonstration that was quickly denounced by city officials and offered a preview of the bloody protests that erupted in Charlottesville this past weekend.

The report details several attacks by white supremacists that took place over the last year, including one in which an extremist allegedly stabbed a black man for kissing a white woman in Olympia, Washington, and one in which a black man was murdered by a white supremacist in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The bulletin also says that the FBI and DHS are primarily concerned with attacks by lone offenders and small groups of white supremacists, “due to the decentralized and often disorganized status of the WSE movement.” It also mentions “the often spontaneous and opportunistic nature of these acts that limits prevention by law enforcement.”

Following the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, some officials signaled a move toward recognizing white supremacists for the threat they pose to Americans and encouraging law enforcement agencies to fight harder against them. On Monday, the Illinois State Senate passed a resolution calling for police in the state to designate white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups “as terrorist organizations, and to pursue the criminal elements of these domestic terror organizations in the same manner and with the same fervor used to protect the United States from other manifestations of terrorism.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License



Related video added by Juan Cole:

Undercover Nazi Michael German: Police Inaction Encourages White Nationalist Groups | MSNBC

Under Saudi Bombs, Yemen hit by 500,000 Cholera Cases

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 - 12:15am

TeleSur | – –

Each day there are more than 5,000 new cases of the waterborne disease.

More than half a million people in Yemen have been infected with cholera since the epidemic began four months ago and 1,975 people have died, the World Health Organization, WHO, announced Monday.

Each day there are more than 5,000 new cases of the waterborne disease, which causes acute diarrhoea and dehydration, in the country where the health system has collapsed after more than two years of war, it said.

“The total number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen this year hit the half a million mark on Sunday, and nearly 2,000 people have died since the outbreak began to spread rapidly at the end of April,” the WHO said in a statement on Monday.

“The spread of cholera has slowed significantly in some areas compared to peak levels but the disease is still spreading fast in more recently affected districts, which are recording large numbers of cases,” it said, reporting a total of 503,484 cases.

The disease, spread by ingestion of food or water tainted with human faeces, can kill within hours if untreated. It has been largely eradicated in developed countries equipped with sanitation systems and water treatment.

But Yemen’s devastating civil war, pitting a Saudi-led military coalition against the Iran-backed armed Houthi group, and economic collapse has made it extremely difficult to deal with catastrophes such as cholera and mass hunger.

Millions of Yemenis remain cut off from clean water and waste collection has ceased in major cities, the WHO added.

Yemen’s 30,000 critical health workers have not been paid salaries in nearly a year and critical medicines are lacking, the WHO said.

“These doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response — without them we can do nothing in Yemen. They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

WHO and partners are working around the clock to set up cholera treatment clinics, rehabilitate health facilities, deliver medical supplies and support the national effort, the United Nations agency said.

More than 99 percent of patients who reach health facilities survive but children and the elderly are most vulnerable.

“The response is working in some places. We can tell you that surveillance confirms a decline in suspected cases over the past four weeks in some of the most affected governorates,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a news briefing last Friday.

“Most notably Sanaa city, Hajja and Amran are consistent with his decline. But in many other districts, cases and deaths persist and are on the rise.”

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

WHO Yemen: “Cholera count reaches 500 000 in Yemen”

Bannon must go, but after that, Protesters should listen to Bernie

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 - 1:58am

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Steve Bannon ran, and is still likely pulling the strings at, Breitbart, the “Stormfront” in a business suit with a skinny tie. Bannon once characterized it as enabling what he called the “alt right,” by which he meant a slightly more presentable version of the skinheads, KKK, bikers, Neo-Nazis and other far right fringe supremacist groups that might appeal to today’s youth, including the educated.

Breitbart has been wildly successful, since conspiracy theories, race resentment, Islamophobia, misogyny and other base emotions have a visceral appeal.

I would argue that the success of the Neo-Neo-Nazis calling themselves “alt-” lies in an unconscious class dilemma that they displace onto race.

That is, not only must Trump dump Bannon, but so should the youth protesters who have been misled by Breitbart fake news. They should turn instead to a different challenger of the status quo, Bernie Sanders

Since the Reagan restructuring of the tax code in the 1980s and following on further such changes under Clinton and Bush, the United States is becoming. more and more unequal society. The top 1% owned 25 percent of the privately held wealth in the US in the 1950s. How much they own now is controversial but it is between 36% and 42%. The trend line is not in doubt. They take home 20% of the country’s income annually now, up from 10% in the 1960s.

These inequalities build up year after year. If 1% gets 20% this year and next year and the year after, after a while they will have it all.

This increasing economic inequality is bad for workers, lower middle class and middle class people but very good for the upper middle class and the wealthy.

The rich and government institutions in the US have for decades conspired to knock any realistic sense of class out of the American public. Workers making $21,000 a year, middle class families pulling down $40,000, and businessmen making a million dollars a year are all typically rolled up into “the middle class” in American political discourse. But the fact is that the top 10% or the top 1% or most importantly the top 0.1 percent benefit from a different set of policies than do working and middle class Americans.

Businessmen like few regulations and not having to pay fringe benefits, and very low taxes on business earnings and capital gains, so that even though they use the national infrastructure most intensively, the working and middle classes are made to pay for it.

If you want to understand why the Republican Party often sounds like it is on Mars, denying Climate Change, arguing that all problems can be solved by lower taxes, not wanting universal health insurance, etc., you have to understand that it represents the 1%, not the 99%. It lies to the 99% about standing up for the little guy, as Trump did. But look at their actual legislation to see whom they help and whom they hurt.

The move to greater income and wealth inequality destroys opportunity for upward mobility among working and middle class youth. Europe now has more opportunities for upward mobility than the United States!

So the angry young people protesting about being replaced or being made redundant aren’t wrong. They are victims of class oppression, and especially of Neoliberal policies that privatize public services like education and even water delivery and deregulate in favor of businesses and against consumers. They are wrong that this is being done to them by Jews or globalism or Mexicans. Most Jews are suffering from these policies along with everyone else, and the most articulate critic of inequality in our time is not Trump or Bannon but Bernie Sanders.

Bannon, a multi-millionaire, tells these young people that they should idolize wealthy businessmen like Donald Trump, and that the reason they are having trouble getting a job is not increasing inequality and concentration of wealth in a few hands, but because immigrants or Latinos or African Americans are taking their jobs and pushing them to the bottom of the pile. And Muslim terrorists are lording it over them.

In fact, studies show that immigrants don’t have good enough English to take jobs away from most white workers, and that they fill different niches in the economy. Immigrants actually expand the economy and would be helping white workers and middle classes do better except for one thing. The top 1% is capturing 20% of the annual income of the country, so the expansion of GDP made possible by the immigrants isn’t going proportionally to white workers.

Bannon and Breitbart are the purveyors of the ultimate false consciousness, the illusion of race oppression to hide from their dupes the reality, of class oppression. Of course, dividing people by race and national origin and religion is extremely convenient for the Rupert Murdochs and Koch Brothers and Scaifes and others. Why do you think respectable WASPs who yearn to be invited to white tie PBS donor parties fund an Islamophobia network to the tune of tens of millions of dollars? To give people some other target to hate than their increasing share of the national wealth.

Nobody needs to hate anyone. All we have to do is go back to the tax code as it existed under Republican president Dwight Eisenhower and make sure there are opportunities for energetic young people to move up.

Trump and Bannon are taking us in the other direction. The tax code they are cooking up with the GOP Congress will be like a firehose spewing money at the wealthiest and depriving everyone else. Trump’s Scott Pruitt is destroying the EPA so that corporations can poison us at will for a profit without facing any backlash.

So the corporations and the 1% benefit from Charlottesville. Who cares about some old Confederate general? Whether a statue to him stands somewhere won’t put money in anyone’s pocket. And if young white people want to be proud of something, they can be proud of America’s role in defeating Nazism or our Catholic president Jack Kennedy’s successful moonlanding project, or American science triumphs and Nobel prizes, often won by Jews and members of other minorities. Hanging your self-worth on the Confederacy having been glorious is a fool’s errand.

So if they were smart, and really wanted to take back their country, these young people would turn to Bernie Sanders and not a hot duplicitous mess like Bannon. They would join unions and support a substantial raise in the minimum wage and get behind a single payer health insurance program. These things would all benefit them in a way that the dust of Jefferson Davis cannot. It is true that they will also benefit African-Americans and Latinos and women. That’s called synergy, when something is bigger than the sum of its parts.

It won’t help Bannon, though. It will raise his taxes and it will drain the hatred that fuels his support base.

These youth are being trained like circus animals, to hate the Left, which is the only political force that can actually rescue them. They are being trained to hate Jews and African-Americans and Latinos and Muslim-Americans, when it is only by joining forces with them that they have a prayer of outwitting the billionaires on public policy. They are being taught to reach back to rickety nineteenth century plantations for their social ideal, when the future is Elon Musk and Tesla and the gigafactory– enterprises that they can take part in if they get the right training.

Of course Trump needs to fire Bannon, whose propaganda for the Far Right in the past decade led directly to the Vanilla ISIS car-killing in Charlottesville. But more importantly, the people with genuine grievances about lack of jobs and lack of opportunity and lack of dignity need to be taught how to get those things in a positive way.


Related video:

The Young Turks: “Steve Bannon Called Fired Jeff Lord In Racist Solidarity”

A New Generation of White Supremacists Emerges in Charlottesville

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 - 12:22am

By A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, and Karim Hajj, special to ProPublica | ( ProPublica) | – –

The white supremacist forces arrayed in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend — the largest gathering of its sort in at least a generation — represented a new incarnation of the white supremacy movement. Old-guard groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nations and the Nazi skinheads, which had long stood at the center of racist politics in America, were largely absent.

Instead, the ranks of the young men who drove to Charlottesville with clubs, shields, pepper spray and guns included many college-educated people who have left the political mainstream in favor of extremist ideologies over the past few years. A large number have adopted a very clean cut, frat-boyish look designed to appeal to the average white guy in a way that KKK robes or skinhead regalia never could. Interviews show that at least some of these leaders have spent time in the U.S. armed forces.

Many belong to new organizations like Vanguard America, Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Workers Party and True Cascadia, which have seen their numbers expand dramatically in the past year. Most of these groups view themselves as part of a broader “alt-right” movement that represents the extreme edge of right-wing politics in the U.S.

These organizations exhibited unprecedented organization and tactical savvy. Hundreds of racist activists converged on a park on Friday night, striding through the darkness in groups of five to 20 people. A handful of leaders with headsets and handheld radios gave orders as a pickup truck full of torches pulled up nearby. Within minutes, their numbers had swelled well into the hundreds. They quickly and efficiently formed a lengthy procession and begun marching, torches alight, through the campus of the University of Virginia.

Despite intense interest from the media, police and local anti-racists, the white supremacists kept the location of their intimidating nighttime march secret until the last moment.

The next day, the far-right forces — likely numbering between 1,000 and 1,500 — marched to Emancipation Park. Once again, they arrived in small blocs under military-style command. The racist groups were at least as organized and disciplined as the police, who appeared to have no clear plan for what to do when the violence escalated. The racist groups stood their ground at the park and were not dislodged for many hours.

For many of them, this will be seen as victory. “Every rally we’re going to be more organized, we’re going to have more people, and it’s going to be harder and harder for them to shut us down,” said a spokesman for Vanguard America, a fascist group, who gave his name as “Thomas.” “White people are pretty good at getting organized.”

And though police arrested James Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man, for allegedly driving a Dodge Charger into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounding many others, the white supremacists generally avoided arrests.

They also outmaneuvered their anti-racist opponents. On Saturday, a multifaith group met at the historic First Baptist Church for a sunrise prayer ceremony featuring academic Cornel West and pastor Traci Blackmon. The anti-racists, many of them clergy members, walked quietly to Emancipation Park, where they were vastly outnumbered by the white supremacists.

Later, a band of more aggressive counter-protesters showed up at the park, chanting “Appalachia coming at ya. Nazi punks we’re gonna smash ya!” These militant “antifa,” or antifascists, were also repelled by the white supremacists.

Given the scale of the protests, the far-right groups suffered few injuries. That was particularly notable given the fact that multiple people near the protests were armed. Throughout the weekend, right-wing and left-wing militias equipped with assault rifles, pistols and body armor patrolled the streets of Charlottesville. (Virginia is an “open carry” state, so gun owners are legally allowed to tote around firearms.)

Many of the armed men viewed their role as maintaining a modicum of order. A “Three Percenter” militia out of New York state posted itself near Emancipation Park with the intention of keeping anti-racists from disrupting the rally. The group says it disapproves of racism but is dedicated to defending the free speech rights of all.

Blocks away, Redneck Revolt, a leftist militia from North Carolina, watched over the perimeter of a park where anti-racists had gathered, committed to preventing violent attacks by the white supremacist groups.

The presence of heavily armed citizens may have played a role in the decision of authorities to largely stay out of the violent skirmishes between the white supremacists and their opponents.

Those who actually marched included many new to the right-wing cause. The victory of Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election has energized a whole wave of young people who were previously apathetic or apolitical, rally organizer Eli Mosley told ProPublica. The president has served as “megaphone” for far-right ideas, he said.

Mosley and his comrades are seeking to draw in as many of these newly politicized young people as possible. “We’re winning,” he said. “We’re targeting the youth and making a movement that appeals to the youth.”

Some of those who’ve gravitated to the extreme right milieu are former liberals — like Mosley’s fellow rally organizer Jason Kessler — and supporters of Bernie Sanders. Many are ex-Libertarians.

“I was a libertarian,” said Mosley, as white supremacists chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” in the background. “I looked around and noticed that most Libertarians were white men. I decided that the left was winning with identity politics, so I wanted to play identity politics too. I’m fascinated by leftist tactics, I read Saul Alinsky, Martin Luther King … This is our ’60s movement.”

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

[ Disturbing Car rams into crowd of people at Charlottesville rally – BBC News

Iran’s Parliament defies new Trump/GOP Sanctions, Increases Missile Funds

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 - 11:18pm

TeleSur | – –

The bill would allocate over US$260 million each to Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Quds Force.

Iran’s parliament has approved the first step of a bill to boost Tehran’s missile program spending on the heels of new U.S. sanctions against the country.

Lawmakers gave the go ahead for the crafting of the bill which is aimed at countering “America’s terrorist and adventurist actions,” according to the state broadcaster IRIB, in a session in which members of parliament chanted “Death to America.”

The bill would allocate over US$260 million each to Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Quds Force – the external arm of the Revolutionary Guard.

State-run IRNA news agency reported that 247 lawmakers attended the voting session, with 240 approving the spending plan and one lawmaker abstaining.

The government will also bolster the elite Revolutionary Guards – a direct response to new sanctions recently imposed by the United States.

Iran denies violating a U.N. resolution which endorsed Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal, preventing them from conducting activities related to ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

Tehran says it does not design such missiles.

Abbas Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister and senior nuclear negotiator on hand for the vote, said the moderate President Hassan Rouhani government would support the bill.

He reminded members of parliament that the government backed the bill, which he said “was designed wisely so that it does not violate the (nuclear deal) and provide excuses for opposing sides,” IRNA reported.

The bill will next head to a second vote before being submitted to a clerical body for final approval and passage into law.

Via TeleSur


Related video added by Juan Cole:

Wochit News: “Iran Retaliates New US Legislation W/ Missile Related Bill”