Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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By Jim Kavanagh

“That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”
–George Orwell

As can be expected, in the aftermath of the horrific mass murder committed in Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock, the issue of “gun control” and “gun violence” comes to the fore again. Reprising some of the points I made in an essay on the subject after the Sandy Hook shooting, I want to argue against the impulse to use this event to eliminate what the Marxist and socialist left has historically recognized as an important right.

Let’s start with the basic difference in principle: Some people consider the citizen’s right to possess firearms a fundamental political right.

The political principle at stake is simple: to deny the state the monopoly of armed force, and, obversely, to empower the citizenry, to distribute the power of armed force among the people. The “sub-political” concerns—weapons collecting, target practice, individual self-defense—are valid in themselves, but they are not as important to the gun rights question as the political concern about the distribution of power in a polity.

This is not a right-wing position. Only in the ridiculous political discourse of the United States, where Barack Obama is a Marxist, can citizens’ right to gun ownership be considered a purely right-wing demand. The notion that an armed populace should have a measure of power of resistance to the heavily armed power of the state is, if anything, a populist principle, and has always been part of the revolutionary democratic traditions of the left.

Per George [Orwell], above, and Karl [Marx], here: “The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition… Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”

That’s because left socialists who hold a Marxist analysis of capitalist political economy have a particular understanding of the state—including our American capitalist state; for them, it’s an apparatus whose main purpose is to protect class rule and its accompanying injustices, and to project compliance-inducing aggression on behalf of the American elite and its favored allies — locally, nationally, and internationally. They understand that any mitigations of these injustices and aggressions are not the products of the liberal state’s inherent neutrality and altruism. They are the hard-won, always-precarious, fruits of social movements that scare the liberal capitalist state into forgoing particular wars, advancing particular minority and civil rights, establishing remunerative social welfare policies, etc.

From a left-socialist perspective, then, the concentration of wealth and the concentration of armed power in the hands of a few, are both bad ideas—and the one has everything to do with the other. Thus, though far from revolutionary, insofar as it supports this principle—explicitly denying the state the monopoly of armed force—the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is one of the most radical legal statutes in the world.

If you hold this position, you will consider whatever regulations on gun ownership are necessary (because some will be) with circumspection, because those “regulations” are limitations on a right, and rights, though never absolute, are to be valued. You won’t seek, overtly or surreptitiously, to eliminate that right entirely, and your discourse will reflect all of that. If you understand gun ownership as a political right, then, for you, if there weren’t a Second Amendment or something like it, there should be.

Some people, on the other hand, including most self-identified liberals, and, in the United States today, most self-identified socialists, do not consider the right to possess firearms a fundamental political right. In fact, they consider it some kind of peculiarity, and, as represented by the Second Amendment, an embarrassing anachronism.

That’s because these liberals and leftists are working with a different understanding of the state. For liberals, of course, the state—our American capitalist state—is a neutral force that mediates social conflicts fairly, and actually does, or at least sincerely tries to, look out for everyone’s lives and well-being equally.

And, on this issue alone, many left-socialists simply forget the core understanding of the state as an instrument of class rule enunciated above, and fall back on the traditional liberal view. Though they righteously protest rampant police brutality against minorities and the poor, the mass-incarceration state, the increasing restriction of rights in the name of surveillance and security, and the thoroughgoing purchase of the American political system by a corrupt oligarchy that oversees it all, when it comes to this issue—well, it’s fine for that state to have a monopoly of armed force. . .

Source: The Rifle on the Wall: A Left Argument for Gun Rights (Reprise)

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The problem with all of these excerpts: Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. It has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons. Over 30 countries have civilian nuclear programs; only a handful—including, of course, the US and Israel—have nuclear weapons programs

MCViewPoint

http://fair.org/home/iran-doesnt-have-a-nuclear-weapons-program-why-do-media-keep-saying-it-does/

The problem with all of these excerpts: Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. It has a civilian nuclear energy program, but not one designed to build weapons. Over 30 countries have civilian nuclear programs; only a handful—including, of course, the US and Israel—have nuclear weapons programs. One is used to power cities, one is used to level them.

If you are skeptical, just refer to a 2007 assessment by all 16 US intelligences agencies (yes, those 16 US intelligence agencies), which found Iran had “halted” its nuclear weapons program. Or look at the same National Intelligence Estimate in 2012, which concluded again that there “is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.” Or we can listen to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, which concurred with the US intelligence assessment (Haaretz3/18/12).

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District voters approved these funds for financially stretched public schools – a new bill would transfer it to failing for profit charter schools. Corporate welfare at its sleeziest.

Diane Ravitch's blog

If ever you want evidence that Betsy DeVos bought and paid for the legislature in Michigan, consider the decision just made by the State Senate to take money approved by voters for their public schools and give it to charter schools. More than 80% of the state’s charters operate for profit. They get worse results than the state’s public schools. The state has minimal expectations or accountability for charter schools. Why are they getting more money?

“The Michigan Senate passed a controversial bill Wednesday that will allow charter schools in the state to collect revenues from enhancement millages levied by intermediate school districts.

“Republicans said the bill would treat all students — whether they attend traditional public schools or charter schools — fairly, but Democrats said the legislation was stealing money that voters approved for traditional public schools and shifting those funds to charter schools.

“I introduced this bill because…

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There are well over 100 peer-reviewed studies linking vaccines and autism. Perhaps even more convincing is the whistleblower testimony from a senior CDC scientist, who has authored multiple commonly cited studies that show no link whatsoever between the MMR vaccine and autism. In fact, one of his studies, published in 2004, is the most commonly cited study used to debunk the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. He deeply regrets ceding to CDC pressure to rig the data in that study – describing it as the lowest point in his career.

peoples trust toronto

http://ift.tt/eA8V8J

?Th co-authors scheduled a meeting to destroy documents related to the study. The remaining four co-authors all met and brought a big garbage can into the meeting room and reviewed and went through all the hard copy documents that we had thought we should discard and put them in a huge garbage can.? 

Do vaccines cause autism? The science speaks for itself, and it shows that vaccines could be one of multiple causes of autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There are well over 100 peer-reviewed studies that make this link, but perhaps even more convincing is the whistleblower testimony from a senior CDC scientist, who has authored multiple commonly cited studies that show no link whatsoever between the MMR vaccine and autism. In fact, one of his studies, published in 2004, is the most commonly cited study used to debunk the link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

His name…

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MIWA – buy food, not packaging

Posted: October 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Czech Republic creates sales platform for dry goods that doesn’t involve packaging.

Make Wealth History

Only a tiny fraction of the world’s plastic waste gets recycled into new plastic – just 2%, according to the New Plastics Economy report. The majority of it goes into landfill, some of it is incinerated, and a whole third of it leaks into the natural environment. The biggest culprit is packaging, and there is a huge amount of research going into biodegradeable plastics, edible packaging, and networks for reuse.

Of course, there are other ways to buy food and other goods. Buying food on the street markets in Madagascar doesn’t involve much packaging. Rice, beans, and other dried foods are sold by the kapoka, a tin can that has become a basic unit of measurement. You can bring your own bag, or there’s a basket stall there if you forget. Here’s the snack aisle of a market in Antananarivo, with a variety of home-made crisps and snacks…

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There are two international coalitions fighting against terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq. One of them consists of Russia, Turkey and Iran, and the other one is made of a variety of actors under the leadership of the United States.

Technically, the two coalitions pursue at least one common goal: the destruction of the Islamic State terrorist organisation (banned in Russia). Like Russia, the USA considers the destruction of the terrorist organisation its first priority goal in Syria and Iraq, and Donald Trump outlined this goal clearly in the very beginning of his presidency.

Prior to Trump’s arrival in the White House, Washington’s position was somewhat different: his predecessor, Barack Obama, insisted on the removal of legitimate Syrian President Bashar Assad, whereas the destruction of the Islamic State was a second priority goal for him.

When Trump announced the change of priorities in Syria, many hoped for a possibility to establish practical cooperation between the Russian Federation and the United States. In reality, it turned out differently.

Washington was extremely reluctant to communicate with the Russian military. Coordination or joint actions were out of the question, but there were no attempts of direct opposition either. The exception was the cruise missile strike on Shayrat, but it was more likely aimed at the Syrian army and Assad. It did not show a significant negative impact on the actions of the Russian military. The consequent warning and the deployment of new air defence systems proved to be enough for the Americans to abandon their ill-considered actions.

Presently, against the backdrop of the apparent success of joint operations conducted by Syrian and Russian forces against terrorists, a question arises again: is the USA going to help or hinder Russia and Syria in the destruction of ISIL?

The question is not idle. It arose first in connection with the death of Russian General Valery Asapov in Syria. The attack was too precise and too timely; the terrorists would not have been able to do it without assistance from the outside. At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defence drew attention to the suspiciously close and peaceful neighbourhood of US servicemen and terrorists on the Syrian territory.

The Americans declined to comment on the matter, but they launched a thesis about the allegedly unfolding “race” for the right to inflict the last fatal blow on ISIL. The trophy is the right to gain control over the strategically important Syrian-Iraqi border, which is about to fall into the hands of the United States and its clients from the “moderate” Syrian opposition. The Americans claim that Moscow and Damascus make one mistake after another out of indignation, which is obviously nonsense.

As for “mistakes,” a number of questions arises: why do terrorists manage to arrange counterattacks? How do they get together all the necessary forces and means, including weapons and ammunition, transportation, as well as intelligence? Why do these counter-attacks come from the areas of the deployment of American military and pro-American forces?

Without waiting for any clear answers from Washington, the Russian side decided to strike a decisive blow on Jabhat an Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia), which is responsible for the death of General Asapov. At the same time, military operations against terrorists were intensified in the east of Syria. If the Americans want to take Raqqa and announce their triumph for the world – let them come and do it. However, the Americans are not taking any measures. On the contrary, the USA has cut activities of its Air Force in the area.

The Russian Defence Ministry demanded clarifications from the USA to find out America’s real goals in Syria. Is the destruction of ISIL and other terrorist groups still remains priority number one for Washington or does the USA want to stop Assad’s troops from winning the war with Russia’s support? Does the USA support the restoration of Syria’s territorial integrity? Indeed, what is the USA doing in Syria? The question remains.

Featured image is from the author.

Source: Is America Now Fighting on the Side of Terrorists in the Syria?

Though the leaders of some countries (we won’t name names) feel the Paris accord treats them unfairly, most other world powers are justifiably concerned about rising sea levels, increasingly severe and unpredictable weather patterns, and the chaos that climate change promises to bring. One huge factor is all the polluting, gas-guzzling cars on the roads.…

[list includes China, India, France, UK, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Paris, Madrid, Athens, Oslo, Copenhagen and California]

via The growing list of countries vowing to ban the sale of gas-powered cars — Quartz