Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Freedom From Facts: Truth As Fetishism

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

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From a site called Freeminds.org which seems to be some kind of Islamic fundamentalist site.

I am tempted to post another paper, but hell, I decided to do a little ranting for a change. The Earth is flat again! Climate change is a hoax! As Firesign Theatre one proclaimed “Everything You Know is Wrong!” I would comment on the Trump phenomenon but things are changing so rapidly that anything I say today will be old news in a day or two. so I will keep the political commentary focused on the long haul. Or the short dig, I am not thinking too good these days, Things, facts, data, all floating around my brain…. can’t think….

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The Nazi’s are back, interesting that it was American advertising genius that taught the Nazi’s propaganda, Trump is just owning the concept, rebranding. From http://mype.co.za/new/on-trump-many-big-lies-and-us/82645/2017/01

Recently I have become interested in Critical Theory, mostly feminist, post-Marxist and the rest of what they are teaching in the Universities these days. I just finished my Geography degree, although I spent a lot of time taking history and classics. I was going to be an English Lit major, but got tracked into English Rhetoric, which is really prep for teaching or in my case technical writing. I hate technical writing, but I was getting money from the state to go through the program while I was on dialysis and then rehabilitation from my transplant. Free money from the state, what was I going to do? I took it and endured. But then I started working again. Drag, yes, but hell, it was what my machine self was created for. Hooboy, that opens a can of worms, dualism versus monism.

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From: http://mimiandeunice.com/2010/10/08/critical-theory/

I like to try things out. I even am trying on this whole Trump white race is good thing. Not exactly my identity, after all I am a believer in the old Lou Reed song “I want to be black” and have spent much of my adult life becoming a self identified under class person, so much so that in fact, surprise, surprise, that is exactly what I have become. An earnest, poor person struggling to join the middling classes. How ironic, how appropriate, I lecture minority youth on the benefits of good credit, how to pass for passive when the cops are on your case, how to get grants and find public education rather than getting trapped in debt with scam for profit school education. Although I must admit, one girlfriend has gone to one of those schools and has her Dental assistant degree and she loves that shit.

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From: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dualism-vs-Monism.png

Another girlfriend did the for profit school medical assistant program and is really bored being a billing clerk. She has debt, not tons, but was it worth it? I got my Geography degree and what do I do, estimating for a graphic design and commercial print and packaging company, its kind of boring, but then I have my own office, I get respect more or less, and I can look up academic papers on line between working on estimates. I am thinking about a paper on the effects of climate change on the prophetic and messianic process during the Reformation. I am beginning to think that the technological changes with the invention of the Printing Press was more of a factor, but I am having fun researching. Getting a masters, now that should be interesting, if I don’t die first.

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From: http://www.politicalcartoons.com/cartoon/590cfe89-e690-48f7-bf94-5af5ff8d3fe5.html

So what to say, Dump Trump, sure, but Pence? No, Trump at least wants to be loved and will cater to some extent to a populist agenda. Pence and the rest of the crew are straight up Republican establishment types. What is really interesting and disconcerting is the rise of the Alt Right and the ability of fact free news sites to become legitimate. In my youth an equivalent would have been if all of a sudden the Tattler and the other tabloids at the supermarket check out stands became the new legitimate news sources. They are for a certain type of semi - literate person. But for the ruling classes to manipulate that to destroy the truth seeking process enshrined in the enlightenment theory, and the news media that subscribe to the enlightenment, the academia, and the general educated class perspective, tossed aside for a populist, no-nothing type of anti-intellectualism, pandering to the lowest common denominator, not out of necessity but by deliberate choice, is well, tough to take.

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From: http://list.ly/list/1ML2-fake-news-lessons

On the other hand from a nihilistic point of view, why not. Flush it all down the toilet and start fresh. Fresh could be nice, if it wasn’t racist, homophobic, and celebrating monster truck culture. Hell when is the President going to show up at a monster truck rally? I heard him talking about professional wrestling the other day before a crowd in Iowa. Why not, nobody really cares, as Randy Newman in his classic tune Political Science said:

No one likes us, I don’t know why
We may not be perfect but Heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
They don’t respect us so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them

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Slim Pickens Rides the Bomb in the Kubrick classic “Dr. Strangelove”

That song was written almost 50 years ago. Some things never change. The Earth is flat again and science doesn’t matter, its how you feel about it that makes it real, right?
With that said, the bigger the lie the better, just repeat it often enough and abracadabra you have fact free reality.

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Test used in early child teaching. From: https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/fact-or-make-believe/

Bolivarian Revolution Unwinds, Another Victory for the Elites.

Monday, May 29th, 2017

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Image from: Democracy and Class Struggle. http://democracyandclasstruggle.blogspot.com/2014/12/us-imperialism-and-venezuela-and-cuba.html

Venezuela, Bolivarian Revolution, and US Foreign AID
By Gary Crethers 5-12-17

The United States Foreign Policy has been consistently opposed to the political challenge to US hegemony in the western hemisphere represented by the Bolivarian Revolution. Just as the USA conspired with Saudi Arabia to cut the price of oil in the 1980’s and force the Soviet Union into effective bankruptcy, the USA has done its best to destabilize and destroy the Venezuelan government, since Chavez won the election and moved dramatically to alter the social conditions of the clear majority of Venezuelans. As it Taffet wrote “aid is rarely for the benefit of the poor …’The Alliance for Progress was not an economic program; it was a political program designed to create certain types of political outcomes’” (Taffet 2007, p. 10; Dominguez 2012). Development policy serves the aims of the global north and the large corporate and government entities particularly in this case that of the United States. Any aid that benefits the mass of the population is considered a social cost of doing business. Nelson Rockefeller said “’we must recognize the social responsibilities of corporations…If we don’t [speaking of US interests in Latin America] they will take away our ownership” (Grandin 2006, p. 30). Rockefeller’s advice was for the most part taken, and US corporate and governmental policy since the Monroe Doctrine was promulgated to promote United States hegemony over the western hemisphere, a warning to European powers to stay out, initially a policy more aspirational than real when it was announced by President Monroe in 1823, at the time reflecting more the general American fear of powerful European states interference in the affairs of the fragile democracies that emerged in the early nineteenth century in Latin America (Mariano 2011).

Historical Background

Venezuela itself the home of Simon Bolivar liberator of much of Latin America in the 1820’s from Spanish colonial rule, became the model for the modern Bolivarian movement with a mythology that has been utilized by the Chavez initiated Bolivarian movement, one that points the finger directly at the United States as the imperial power (Kingsley 2015). Located on the southern side of the Caribbean Sea, directly south of Cuba and Miami, it has presented a land of opportunity for US corporate interests especially with regards to its oil resource initially with the discovery of oil in 1918 foreign interests developed and controlled the oil wealth. In 1958 with the overthrow of a dictatorship and the establishment of a democratic government, the national oil company called Corporation Venezolana de Petröleo was established, Venezuela became a founding member of OPEC and further private development of the oil resource was prohibited (Faria 2008, p. 522).

Development Background in Latin America

The creation of the development community, although primarily a post-World War Two construction, goes back to the altruism of reformers in nineteenth century Europe that was a constant counterpoint to colonialism, both antagonistically and as a justification. The institutional mindset called the epistemic community by Haas described as a professional community with recognized expertise, and competence in a particular domain or policy area. But also more critically there is “a set of common practices associated with a set of problems to which their professional competence is directed” (Haas 1992, p.3). Specifically in the context of tropical medicine, Neill shows as an outgrowth of the European reform movement in the nineteenth century, an epistemic community developed with an altruistic belief in their ability to improve the health outcomes, and at the same time improve the backwardness of the community in which the colonizers found themselves (Hass 1992, Neill 2012, p. 6-7).

Washington Consensus, Neo-liberalism and Neo-structuralism

International development theory, in the post Washington Consensus environment of the twenty-first century has focused on presenting a kinder and gentler face of Neoliberalism. Smarting from the failures in Latin America and facing the election of many leftists who rejected the Neoliberalism of the Washington Consensus with its focus on restructuring the economies of Latin American countries by removing constraints on the flow of capital, privatizing institutions, allowing labor flexibility, and deregulating markets as well as reforming the remaining government institutions to make them business friendly. Rather than rethinking the nature of economic neoliberalism, and the Washington Consensus, a phrase coined by John Williamson in 1990, the post consensus development theory places emphasis on particularizing the form of intrusion, moving away from cookie cutter approaches to more individualized approaches that double down on the values, calling for more thorough and conscientious efforts at implementing reform (Bergsten 2003; Williamson 2003).

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By polyp@poplyp.org.uk Found on http://www.herinst.org/BusinessManagedDemocracy/government/international/adjustment.html

As Bergsten put it “ it is high time the world moved on from tendentious ideological debates in which the Washington Consensus is caricatured as a neoliberal manifesto to a serious discussion of the new wave of reform the region needs to restart growth and make it more equitable than it has been in the past” (Bergsten 2003, p. vii-viii). Neoliberals betray a proclivity to determine the course of affairs in Latin America, while indicating the need for democratic reform their ideas do not imply a greater democracy, but a restriction of democracy to further implement neoliberal reforms. Regarding the developments in Venezuela, Williamson who after listing a litany of neoliberal reforms that further needed implementation in Latin American, bemoaned “political institutions that can allow a Hugo Chavez to capture control of the state and ravage an economy” (Williamson 2003, p. 13).

The “left turn” in Latin America that follows the neo-Structuralist model of post-neoliberalism proposed by the theoretical work by the United Nations initiated organization Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) based in Santiago, Chile proposed starting in 1990 that there would be an alternative to “savage capitalism” (Leiva 2008, p. xvii). With a mix of social equity, economic growth, and political democracy that would take advantage of globalism in the twenty-first century, especially, after the collapse of economies such as Argentina which had been the “poster child for the Washington Consensus,” the leftists swept into power at the turn of the twenty-first century presented an intellectual challenge to neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. Neo-structuralism, the framework of this challenge to neoliberalism, as described by Leiva, viewed from the perspective of a Chilean who as a teen had lived through the Allende experiment, states “Latin American neostructuralism’s discursive potency derives from simultaneously being (1) an alternative vision to neoliberal dogmatism; (2) a comprehensive development strategy; (3) an integrated policy framework; and (4) a grand narrative about the path toward modernity that the twenty-first century offers Latin American and Caribbean societies” (Leiva 2008, p. xv, xix).

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“Washington Consensus Cartoon” From http://developmentstudiesperspectives.blogspot.com/2010/04/washington-consensus-cartoon.html

The debate between the neoliberal and neo-structural approach, perhaps a softer version of the cold war after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the acknowledged dominance of the United States, meant that the struggle for control of the hearts and minds of the world had entered into a new phase. Cuba, with its older tradition of state socialism had to reposition itself and find alliances with states that would not interfere with the vision of socialism as elucidated by the Castro dominated Communist state. As Leiva put it “triumph of ‘a more pragmatic approach, a political economy of the possible’ has become the dominant trend in the Latin American continent, a direct result from the definitive defeat both of 1960s ‘good revolutionaries; and 1980s ‘well-intentioned free-marketeers’ (Santiso 2006, 8)” (Leiva 2008, p. xvii).

Bolivarian Development Model

The emergence of an alternative model in Latin America to the US dominated development market driven approach had been up until the collapse of oil prices a viable alternative. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America was formed in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela as an alternative to the development model being promulgated by the USA as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the proposed La Area de Libre Comercio de las Americas (ALCA). Originally the Cuban and Venezuelan organization was called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas and the Caribbean, based in the models of structural development theory utilized by Raoul Prebisch former director of the UN Conference of Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which basically states that “underdevelopment is perpetuated by the pattern of international trade because raw materials and agricultural goods produced in the periphery – the underdeveloped countries – were worth less that the industrial goods imported from the ’centre’ – the advanced capitalist countries” (Cole 2010; Yaffe 2011, p. 130).

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From Article by Joel Hirst http://www.americasquarterly.org/HIRST/ARTICLE

The dominance of the US and the major capitalist powers in the institutions primarily concerned with international development were perceived in many nations of the Global south to be more interested in developing markets for dumping western goods than for the actual development of the developing nations. The Bolivarian challenge sought to find means of coordination rather than competition, and was initiated by the Cuban and Venezuelan exchange of Cuban medical assistance for Venezuelan oil that was initiated in 2001 and finalized in 2004 with the formation of ALBA (Yaffe 2011, p. 134). Corrales take the view that Venezuela working with Cuba sees the use of the soft power of oil money to aid other countries that had become members of ALBA and others such as the CITGO discounted oil for poor USA consumers as being a third use of power as he states “social power diplomacy attracts allies because it provides governments with far more latitude in domestic spending than is the case with any form of Western aid. This domestic freedom produces close international ties” (Corrales 2009, 97-98; Vyas 2014). The use of social power perceived as a threat to US interests in the region added to the rationale for perceiving Venezuela and the Bolivarian project as an attempt not merely to offer an alternative to the capitalist neo-liberal model of development but also as a threat to US hegemony. Corrales describes it as part of a policy of “soft balancing” described as “a relatively new concept in international relations, referring to efforts by nations, short of military action, to frustrate the foreign policy objective of other presumably more powerful nations” (p. 98).

The consequences of what has been called the New Economic Model, the neo-liberal policy of economic stabilization, opening-up trade, privatization, and financial liberalization, leading to in the case of Latin America after the 1980’s debt crisis to deceleration of economic growth, increased unemployment, reductions in real wages, and reduction in social services. The negative effects of these initial phases in this neo-liberal approach must have a strong social welfare component to aid in the transition to the final phase of successful integration into the world economy according to Alejandro Foxley, minus that then the transition is likely to be fraught with political instability and the results may be derailed. The success of austerity must be predicated on the sharing of the burden fairly and the increase in social capital that gives citizens a sense of participation and not alienation from the process (Foxley 1996). This is no small order and has been an inconsistent model to say the least leading to reactions such as that of the Bolivarian proposal of Chavez and Castro.

Social Benefits under Bolivarian Rule

Gains made in the decade prior to the collapse of the Oil economy in Venezuela by the urban and rural poor, in terms of the increased standard of living has been threatened. But it is important to acknowledge that there were many benefits to the people of Venezuela because of the Bolivarian movement of Hugo Chavez and his successor Madero, as indicated by Dominguez, with poverty reduced from 44 percent in 1998 to 26.7 percent by the end of 2011, the highest minimum wage in Latin America, the eradication of illiteracy by 2005, primary education increased from 43 percent in 1998 to 71 percent in 2011, with the second highest higher education participation in Latin America and the fifth highest in the world (Cole 2012; Dominguez 2012, p. 106-107). Also the labor legislation had by 2007 become supportive of workers control of industries, although state run institutions resisted the idea (Azzellini 2017). Availability of computers with 1.6 million handed out by the state to primary education students (Dominguez 2012, p. 107), Public health care centers had increased from 5360 in 1998 to 7721 by 2011, with some 20 million Venezuelans having free health care, the government having increased funding to health care by 4000 percent and some 11 million receiving subsidized food at the government markets by 2011 (p. 107-108).

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“Venezuela: Hugo Chavez’s six-year plan for the Bolivarian Revolution.” From LINKS http://links.org.au/node/3079

With all of these subsidies the question arose, were the people of Venezuela independent actors or the irrational followers of a charismatic leader? Lupien, doing field work in Venezuela reached the conclusion that the people of all classes were for the most part rational actors, with the bottom line of benefits from the government taking precedence over an irrational alliance with a charismatic leader (Lupien 2015).

Subversion of Reforms

The subversion of the reforms by the US particularly via organizations such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and National Endowment for Democracy (NED), has been addressed by Dominguez who writes that the main aim of these organizations has been to “distribute funds to pro-US groups (NGO’s, think-tanks, political parties, interest groups, private enterprise, private media outlets and the like)” (Dominguez 2012, p. 109). The Office for Transitional Initiatives (OTI), established in 1994, was established in the USAID to effect transitions for problematic governments (p. 109). The 2002 attempted coup in Venezuela, and the 2003 oil lockout organized by the opposition lasting over two months almost brought the economy to its knees (p. 110). Some $19 million was allocated by the US government to support the efforts of the opposition to remove the Bolivarian government in the 2012 elections (p. 112).

The Saudi’s allowed prices in oil to drop precipitously, were aimed at bringing discipline to the OPEC members that would especially affect the countries with few reserves to handle the blow of low oil prices, Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela in particular according to Goldwyn at the Atlantic Council although there are other theories, including at attempt to punish Russia, and Venezuela by the Saudis and the US. Another theory states that the Saudis were attempting to nip the US oil shale industry before the US became too energy independent, but in reality the recession and especially as the Chinese reduced demand as it slowed its own stimulus production (Goldwyn 2015).

Media Domination

Consider the domestic media in Venezuela where the media “Unable to discredit the results of the elections, the private media have sought to attack the legitimacy of these governments from below by framing their supporters as mindless followers or as dangerous, irrational mobs (Lupien 2013, p. 226). The US Media has not been particularly enthusiastic either. Shiller argues “rather than embrace dominant liberal norms, which hold that a “free press” requires autonomy from the state, community media producers in Caracas approach the state as a potentially liberatory process of collective engagement” (Shiller 2103, p. 540). Community control of media may have given the Bolivarian revolution an impetus in bypassing the conservative media controlled by financial elites who still dominate the mainstream market. But that can be a double edged sword if the community is unhappy with the powers that be.

Current Crisis

The Bolivarian Revolution was and remains, although it is facing severe strain both economically and politically as I write. The optimistic writing of the neostructural parties would seem to have faded as one left wing government after another has fallen, most significantly those of Argentina and Brazil. Honduras suffered and US backed coup and even Cuba is now negotiating with the US after the historic reopening of the US embassy under the Obama administration. The current situation in Venezuela in the spring of 2017 has become one of high drama, with the US media reporting on violent protests against the Maduro Government. “On March 29, Venezuela’s highest court ruled that it would take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly, the country’s opposition-controlled Congress. The move by the Supreme Court, which was stacked with Maduro-allies during the last session of the National Assembly before it fell in opposition hands, sparked fierce condemnation from activists, international powers and even supporters of President Maduro” (Gordts 2017, n.p.; Cahill and Saravia 2017).

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Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demonstrate in front of riot police in Caracas on January 24, 2015 (AFP Photo/Federico Parra) From: https://www.yahoo.com/news/thousands-march-venezuela-over-economic-crisis-shortages-233310318.html

The Constitutional crisis with the take-over of the parliament by the judiciary would seem to be more suspect as the opposition mobilized its forces, but due to the lack of credibility of the Morales government, there has been little support in the US on the left for the Regime. Recent events in Venezuela, with protests on the streets due to food shortages, the suspension of the National Assembly, and the packing of the Supreme Court by President Maduro, where even critical left supporters such as Noam Chomsky, bemoan the lost opportunities in Venezuela, make such statements such as that of Shiller seem utopian (Lange-Churion 2016). As Chomsky said in a Democracy Now interview:

Venezuela is really a disaster situation. The economy relies on oil as to a great—probably a greater extent than ever in the past, certainly very high. And the corruption, the robbery and so on, has been extreme, under the—especially after Chávez’s death… there are hopes and possibilities for reconstruction and development. But the promise of the earlier years has been significantly lost (Chomsky 2017).

The reality on the ground as even the left admits is dire. How did the dreams of Chavismo succumb to such a crisis? The American and Saudis sponsored dip in oil prices, aimed primarily at Iran and Russia affected Venezuela to a much greater extent, even while the USA has continued to receive some 17 percent of its oil from Venezuela, a business partner despite the attempted coup of 2002, and the declaration by the Obama administration in 2015 that Venezuela was a national security threat. Lange-Churion calls the ruling elite corrupt, and inept, and unlike Chomsky who had felt that Venezuela under Chavez was making progressive strides, Lange-Churion sees the corruption going back to Chavez and his cronies (Lange-Churion 2017). The lack of foodstuffs, and medicines in Venezuela that resulted from the collapse of oil income at about the same time as Madero took office in 2013, combined with the impact of rampant 800 percent inflation, has led to members of the poorer classes joining in some of the protests against the government as they see their interests being unmet by the government (Cahill and Saravia 2017).

Conclusion

The Bolivarian regime is under assault as this paper is being written. The evidence presented shows that although the government has struggled to provide services for the vast majority of the public, the dependence on oil and the subsequent collapse in the prices of oil left the regime overextended and without adequate financial resources to weather the reduced prices. The administration may not have been responsible for the collapse in oil prices, but it did not plan ahead adequately. But this financial situation could be mitigated if the country had adequate aid from the largest customer of Venezuela, the USA. The US policies, in particular its aid policies show that the US punishes regimes it finds politically threatening to the US leadership in the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean basin in particular, especially in the case of Venezuela with the support of the attempted coup in 2002 to overthrow the Chavez led government, with that the gloves were off and since that time it has been clearly US policy to remove the Bolivarian government with direct aid via agencies that are intended to support the growth of democracy, focused on overthrowing the elected government (Grandin 2006; Taffet 2007; Cole 2012; Dominguez 2012).
Lupien wrote media supportive of the US position present a “portrayal of supporters of “bad left” governments as ignorant, illegitimate, and potentially dangerous. Supporters of leaders such as Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) and Evo Morales (Bolivia) are supposedly easily bribed into mindless loyalty, are tricked into trading democracy for handouts, are poorly informed and emotional rather than rational actors, and are likely to engage in violence” (Lupien 2013, 227). The use of foreign aid as a weapon of policy, in conjunction with the use of media, and economic sabotage, as well as covert warfare, it can be seen that those who would challenge US hegemony do so at their own risk. The Monroe Doctrine conception of the Western Hemisphere as the special sphere of United States influence remains alive and well despite more recent attention by the US in other parts of the world (Taffet 2007; Grandin 2006, Dominquez 2012).

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From: http://www.conspiracy-cafe.com/apps/blog/entries/show/43985777-watch-venezuela-because-food-shortages-looting-and-economic-collapse-are-coming-to-america-too

Works Cited

2003. After the Washington Consensus: Restarting Growth and Reform in Latin America. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.
` - Bergsten, C. Fred. 2003. Preface. After the Washington Consensus. P. vii-viii.
- Williamson, John. 2003. Overview. After the Washington Consensus. P. 1-19.
Cahill, Petra and Laura Saravia. Venezuela Protests and Economic Crisis: What Is Going On? NBC News. May 6, 2017. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/venezuela- crisis/amp/venezuela-protests-economic-crisis-what-going-n755306
Chomsky, Noam. Interview by Goodman, Amy & Juan Gonzalez. Full Interview: Noam Chomsky on Trump’s First 75 Days & Much More. Democracy Now! democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. April 4, 2017. Accessed transcript April 11, 2017, https://www.democracynow.org/2017/4/4/full_interview_noam_chomsky _on democracy
Cole, Ken. 2010. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America Part I: Knowledge is What Counts. International Journal of Cuban Studies. 2, no. 3: 249-264.
Corrales, Javier.2009. Using social power to balance soft power: Venezuela’s foreign policy. The Washington Quarterly 32, no. 4: 97-114.
Dominguez, Francisco. 2012. Venezuela: another good example under threat. Soundings 51, no. 51: 101-114.
Faria, Hugo. 2008. Hugo Chávez Against the Backdrop of Venezuelan Economic and Political History. The Independent Review. 12, no. 4: 519-535.
Foxley, Alejandro (1996) Preface. The New Economic Model in Latin America And Its Impact on Income Distribution and Poverty. Ed. Victor Bulmer-Thomas. London: Palgrave Macmillan in association with Institute of Latin American Studies University of London. p. 1-6.
Goldwyn, David L. Here’s Why Saudi Arabia Has Let Oil Prices Fall—and Why They Could Revive by Year’s End. The Atlantic Council. January 20, 2015. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/heres-why-saudi-arabia-has-let-oil- prices-fall-and-why-they-could-revive-by-years-end
Gordts, Eline, 10 Days of Unrest in Venezuela Come to A Head in Massive Protest. Huffington Post (04/09/2017). Accessed April 10, 2017 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/venezuela-protests_us_58ea4aa1e4b05413bfe3981f
Grandin, Greg. 2006. Empire’s Workshop Latin America, The United States, and the rise of the New Imperialism. New York: Metropolitan Books.
Haas, Peter M. 1992. Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination. International Organization. 46, no. 1: 1-35.
Kingsbury, Donald V. 2015. Bolívar as Precursor: Contested Mythology, Social Movements, and Twenty-first-century Socialism in Bolivarian Venezuela. Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 1-14.
Lange-Churion, Pedro. (May 20, 2016), Venezuela and the Silence of the Left. Counterpunch. Accessed April 10, 2017. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/20/venezuela-and-the- silence-of-the-left/
Leiva, Fernando Ignacio.2008. Latin American Neostructuralism: The Contradictions of Post- neoliberal Development. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Lupien, Pascal. 2013. The Media in Venezuela and Bolivia: Attacking the “Bad Left” from Below. Latin American Perspectives. 40, no. 3: 226-246.
Lupien, Pascal. 2015. Ignorant Mobs or Rational Actors? Understanding Support for Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution”. Political Science Quarterly. 130, no. 2: 319-340.
Mariano, Marco. 2011. Isolationism, Internationalism and the Monroe Doctrine. Journal of Transatlantic Studies. 9, no. 1: 35-45.
Neill, Deborah, J. 2012. Networks in Tropical Medicine Internationalism, Colonialism, and the Rise of a Medical Specialty 1890-1930. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Taffet, Jeffery. F. (2007). Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy: The Alliance for Progress in Latin America, New York: Routledge.
Schiller, Naomi. 2013. Reckoning with Press Freedom: Community Media, Liberalism, and the Processual State in Caracas, Venezuela. American Ethnologist. 40, no. 3: 540-554.
Vyas, Kejal. “Venezuela Cancels Plan to Sell US Oil Refiner Citgo; Earlier this Year Officials Indicated they were Looking to Sell Citgo for Up to $10 Billion.” Wall Street Journal (Online), Oct 26, 2014. Accessed 3/13/17.
Yaffe, Helen. 2011. The Bolivarian Alliance for The Americas: An Alternative Development Strategy. International Journal of Cuban Studies. 3.2 & 3.3 p.128-144. Cubanstudies.plutojournals.org.

Syrian Cockpit Nears Climatic End Game

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

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Syrian children who fled their home with their family lie on the ground while they and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey in this 2012 file photo. The number of Syrians who have fled their country during the civil war topped 4 million in 2015. (Muhammed Muheisen / AP)

The Trump administration wants to write off Syrian refugees, in fact all refugees as ineligible to come to the United States. Fortunately the courts have so far called every attempt on the part of the administration to block refugees and immigrants as unconstitutional, at least until a superior court decides otherwise. The Trump administration has an agenda that has played upon irrational fears of the other. Propaganda in the alt right media which has very successfully been able to dominate much of the dialog on the internet where seemingly many people get their news now has resulted in a population badly misinformed.

Refugees of the Syrian Civil War or Syrian refugees are citizens and permanent residents of Syrian Arab Republic, who have fled from their country since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 and have sought asylum in other countries.

In 2016, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and over 4.8 million are refugees outside of Syria.[37] In January 2017, UNHCR counted 4,863,684 registered refugees.[1] Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 2.7 million Syrian refugees.[3][38][39] Assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria, and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, is planning largely through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_the_Syrian_Civil_War

A proposed assault upon Raqqah will result in more refugees

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A U.S. fighter stands near a military vehicle, north of Raqqa city, Syria, on November 6, 2016. Aaron Stein writes that American forces working by, with and through local ground forces are poised to begin the assault on Raqqa, ISIS’s most important urban area in Syria. Rodi Said/reuters

Various forces are now in control of intersecting front lines, including: Syrian Kurdish, Kurdish allied Arab forces, American Special Forces, Syrian regime elements, Russian special forces, Iranian units, Turkish military units and Turkish allied forces. These groups—many of them hostile with one another and engaged in battle elsewhere in Syria—are now within mortar range.

From: Now More U.S. Forces Are in Syria, What’s the Plan?
There are early signs of what the borders of a peace settlement might look like.
By Aaron Stein On 3/10/17 at 6:40 PM
http://europe.newsweek.com/now-more-us-forces-are-syria-whats-plan-566249

Unfortunately with the Trump administration in the driver’s seat, the end game is likely to be as chaotic as Iraq.

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Identity and Progressive Agenda 2016 Notes

Monday, December 26th, 2016

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Testing the limits of tolerance in the post Coup Turkey.
Hundreds of Turks made a rare protest for LGBT rights in Istanbul Sunday after the murder of Turkish transgender icon Hande Kader, whose body was found burned in a forest earlier this month. Photo by Hande Kader/Facebook
From UPI article August 22, 2016 http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/08/22/Turks-join-rare-demonstration-for-LGBT-rights-after-transgender-womans-murder/3441471845290/

I have been fortunate this year. I managed to have surrounded myself with a family that is relatively loyal if somewhat dysfunctional, and my constant search for novelty in an ongoing campaign to give meaning to an otherwise seemingly meaningless existence, has got me in and out of a couple of problematic situations this year. One was my attempt at a truly transsexual alliance which turned out to be something of a pipe dream. Ultimately in my view relationships cannot be based on transitory sexual appetites. Commercial careers, perhaps, but not strongly based family ties. Poly fidelity, has its moments but I am probably more of a poor mans patriarch in the polygamous biblical sense of the word, than a trail blazer on the frontiers of human relationships, although I certainly do try to do my part in the romantic belief in the eventual progress of humanity into a truly trans-sexual-racial heterogeneity. The fact that in the US the discourse over the nature of human sexuality has been diverted to a conversation on toiletry is a bit discouraging though. Struggle in the world continues as post modernist struggles over liberation in identity politics continue in the face of repression such as is evident in Turkey. Whether identity issues have distracted from bread and butter issues of class struggle, is something that is being hashed out in the light of the on going right wing reaction around the world. Trumpism can be seen in the light of Nazi attempts to overcome decadence identified with sexual transgression of rigid sexual norms as was brilliantly portrayed in the 1972 film Cabaret.

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From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unisex_public_toilet, distraction or battle for control of personal space?

The continued demise of my own personal sexual prowess has been paralleled by the increased ability to encounter and intercept the lives of younger souls aspiring to some kind of continuity in an unstable and chaotic post modern world in which institutions have become both increasingly omnipresent and yet unable to fulfill the somewhat futile goal of social stability. Capitalism doesn’t allow for social and interpersonal stability. It’s pressure to excel and exploit resources, of any and all kinds pinned to a monetary value, has eroded social solidarity to the extent that humans of the modern period have become a hodgepodge of flotsam in a sea of potential resources to be adapted and rejected as required by the mindlessly grinding efforts of the mega machine.

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From: http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2016/7/27/political-cartoons-july-27 Political Cartoon from Summer 2016 when US presidential elections were still in progress. The Russian factor was already in play as was the betrayal of the independent left push represented by the Sanders campaign.

The need for resistance and the creation of an alternative agenda to corporate capitalism as crystallized in the Bernie Sanders campaign showed that like in the McGovern campaign of an earlier generation, that there is in the USA an ongoing desire on the part of the young and the progressive thinking people for change at a fundamental level. It also shows how much better the system has gotten at eliminating such a challenge with old fashioned dirty politics and fear mongering. The left, liberal, minority alliance was unable to beat the right largely due to the decampment of labor and the white working class generally as those hurt by the modern economy abandon their intellectual allies who have shown them little gain. for the demagoguery on the right.

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Life’s little Ironies. From: https://warosu.org/lit/image/93GRPOG-N9CFTQSvI7XpVg

There needs to be a clear headed assessment of what we desire and how we wish to get where we want to go. Post Modernism although it has liberated many from the fetters of normative identity has muddied the waters in the struggle to unite humanity in a broad based movement to progressive evolution of the human condition. This has been enhanced by the severe disruption caused by modernism and its industrial megamachine over the last couple of centuries. People’s desire for community in the face of the disruptive and depersonalizing power of technological progress gives evidence of the lag between social evolution and our ability to manipulate the physical world around us. We are now just realizing that humanity has to come to terms with the balance between technology and the social mechanisms that allow this tail to wag the collective dog of humanity. Faced with the potential disruption of all life on the planet, humans need to create truly world wide networks of community that put technology firmly at heel and leash capitalism to the service of humanity or train the dog with some new socially progressive tricks.

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From: http://iacenter.org/racism/blm-pride100715/ BLM queer and trans people of color contingent, Sept. 26. Durham, NC, 2015.
The issue of identity will continue to be important but it must be in the context of ongoing progress or the right wing backlash will cause delays in progress for humanity and the planet as a whole.

Last Days of the Western Enlightenment

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

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Taken from a conspiracy site on reddit, the post was wrong, predicting 8 years of Clinton, the sentiment in the cartoon, greatly influenced by Crumb’s visual style, is a widely held fear on the part of civil libertarians

From: https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/4w2mde/prediction_of_whats_coming_in_the_next_8_years/

I have been reading The Age of Wonder By Richard Holmes, a scholar of the Romantic Movement in late 18th and early 19th Century England. I am struck by the optimism and hopefulness for the future of humanity expressed in the views of the scientific tinkerers and poets of the age. It was a time when a gentleman, or talented craftsman, and some women, could participate the exploration of the physical, intellectual, and poetic realms in a relatively democratic and free spirited manner. The old authority of the King, Church, and Gentry was being pulled down in so many realms, with the American and French Revolutions presenting political dramatic change. Even though in England the old regime was not destroyed, this was largely due, in my view, to the fact that England had undergone its own revolution and liberalization in the previous century. But there was a strong movement in England to expand the franchise and there were those who avidly supported the actions of the French and the Americans. A strong abolitionist movement to took hold in Great Britain which led to the forward thinking abolition of the slave trade, the development of industrial capitalism and the liberation of the middle classes from dependency on the gentry and patronage of royalty as independent centers of wealth emerged.

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Political cartoon by James Gillray (1757-1815)
From: http://web.utk.edu/~gerard/romanticpolitics/revolution.html Romantic Politics.

These ideals of liberty, and the Rights of Man come out of the period known as the Enlightenment. This period in which a more optimistic view of humanity arose, in which man became the measure of meaning and the ability of the intellect became predominant in finding a more just and affluent life for humanity came to the fore. Life, Liberty and Fraternity or the Pursuit of Happiness, became watchwords and represented the very real expectations of the mass of European humanity, as they spread and colonized across the planet. Not always seen as the bringers of light, often the bringers of oppression to the indigenous peoples to whom the Europeans purported to spread their enlightenment, but propelled by the newly released powers of the mechanical ingeniousness of the likes of James Watt, and the mechanisms of trade and capital concentration developed by adventurous capitalists, the imperial European age was impressed upon the world.

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Painting by Benjamin West
William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians when he founded the Province of Pennsylvania in North America, 1771
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.
From: http://statemuseumpa.org/penn-treaty/creating/ and http://pluralism.org/encounter/historical-perspectives/first-encounters-native-americans-and-christians/

The industrial revolution and the enlightenment philosophy putting the desires of the individual in the forefront, combined with the Romantic ideals of the solitary genius extracting the secrets of life from a sometimes recalcitrant nature, provided a powerful force propelling the western Europeans into a predominance world wide that had been only preambled by the earlier European conquest of the Americas. Old civilizations in Asia, China, the Ottomans, and the Moguls in India, fabulously wealthy nations, run as empires in an older autocratic tradition were assailed and swept away under the force of the newly empowered Europeans of the relatively small nations of the Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Spain and Portugal.

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The East offering its riches to Britannia, painted by Roma Spiridone for the boardroom of the British East Asia Company 1778.

What we are seeing now is in the post modern period, a designation that will probably be replaced by some other historical reference as we get further away from the Twentieth Century by something more appropriate, after all what will Modernism mean to someone a century from now? But I digress, in a era in which the benefits of the Western Expansion has become assimilated and digested by the traditional centers of wealth and power, China, India and the Middle East, we are now beginning to see the emergence of the Oriental repossession of their traditional dominance. The Obama pivot to Asia and Trump’s fear mongering denigration of American infrastructure when compared to the marvels being constructed in Asia, are reflections of an awareness of this reality. Thus we come to the end of the era of the western Enlightenment, and are entering into uncharted waters. Are we entering a period in which the individualism of the last two to three centuries will be subordinated under a technocratic autocracy with a new imperial examination system to sift out the deserving elite aids to the autocrats? Certainly trends in economic imbalance seem to be headed that way. What with the massive focus on education as if that were the solution, indicates an end to the quality and fraternity inherent in the Enlightenment approach. Now we have the dictatorship of meritocracy as the gateway to enter the garden of earthly delights. Woe unto you who don’t achieve the holy grail of high grade point averages or are not inheritors of great wealth. For you there will be the universal basic income, and meaningless lives at the bottom of the new pyramid of wealth and power. But again I diverge, the oriental nations are not by nature autocratic, but because of the necessity to create hierarchies of meaning that can sift through the mass of humanity, and the algorithms created by the power of computer technology, there will be a rather extreme and undemocratic process of winnowing unless there is a wise emperor like Vespasian who rejected the labor saving machines of the clever Greek engineers, saying, to paraphrase What will my people do to earn their bread if I take away their ability to earn a living?

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Textile Laborers in Lowell, Mass. early Nineteenth Century.
From: http://www.saltofamerica.com/contents/displayArticle.aspx?13_525 Opinions: American Technology and Human Welfare Part 2, Technology is Democracy 1800-1850
by Hugo Meier

Whether there is an alternative that is egalitarian, in which some pastoral or urban ideal can be implemented, whether in a form of cooperative industrial democracy as postulated by the IWW, the COOP movement or idealists in the sense of Owens, is to be seen. Certainly the pro-fascist protectionism and corporate nationalism proposed by the Trump group is predicated on a trade and probable war with China which is not going to be beneficial in the long run. Think of it this way, China is the international sleepy giant that the USA was before World War II. If they directed their industrial might to war industries, it might be impossible for the US to create an adequate embargo to prevent the oil and iron from reaching China unless the US can convince Russia to refuse access to its vast natural resources. I don’t think Putin is that stupid.

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Missiles are displayed in a parade to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing in this October 1, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files

From: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-defence-idUSBRE88F0GM20120916

Black Lives Matter, Grim Sleeper, & Green Hope

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Aspen Institute Conference on Race Relations Video.

I went to a Black Lives Matter event in front of City Hall in LA where the activists involved are protesting police shootings of minority youth. They are calling for the police chief to step down. Although I am no fan of Chief Beck and have never been personally helped by LAPD, I find calling for the removal of the police chief to be a step that while it may be personally empowering for the activists if the were to achieve this goal, it does not get to the root of the problem. This is a matter of power relationships. As long as the law is structured to protect the property interests of the wealthy, there will be no real reform. Underclasses are policed to keep them from spreading their undesirable ways into the areas of the city inhabited by the controlling class. Police are the thin blue line protecting property and those who have entered the sphere of the protected classes.

With that said, occasionally there is some basic policing, such as the recent capture of the murderer of many women in south Central Los Angeles, Lonnie David Franklin Jr., now better-known as the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer, convicted of at least ten murders, was sentenced to death recently. Margaret Prescod, founder of advocacy group Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders, host of the Sojourner Truth radio show on KPFK, has pressured LAPD to find the murderers of these black women, and has accused the police department of neglecting solving the murders because the victims were perceived to be, as she put it, “Crack Whores.” In reality they were mothers, and daughters, persons who did not deserve to die simply because some of them were sex workers. Franklin claims he did not commit the murders according to the LA Times article on the trial “The ‘Grim Sleeper’ is sentenced to death for string of murders” by Marisa Gerber and James Queally dated August 10, 2016, when he was confronted by the victims families. But the evidence seems conclusive.

In an interview with NPR Prescod explains “We went down to what was then Parker Center Police Headquarters to find out about the murders, see what was being done about it, how the community was being informed, and we were told by the guy in charge, said, ‘Why are you concerned about it? He’s only killing hookers,” from Families Of LA Serial Killer’s Victims Still Await Closure by Kirk Siegler May 2, 2016 transcript.

This seems to be a glaring example of where police priorities have been. The murders have been going on in poor neighborhoods for decades. Police claim that there is a code of silence that often prevents residents from reporting crimes and helping investigations. But when the police act, as the recently released Department of Justice report on the Baltimore police that condemns the abusive culture of police treating minority neighborhoods as occupied territory, there is good reason why people may be reluctant to turn to the police. To quote from the report in another NPR piece ‘Lock Up All The Black Hoodies’: DOJ Report Details Abuses By Baltimore Police by Camila Domonoske dated August 10, 2016, the pressure to bring about significant reform in local police departments around the country is increasing as the establishment media gets the green light from the Obama administration to ramp up the coverage of cases of police maleficence.

I don’t want to just parrot reports from NPR that I hear on the radio as I drive to and from work in the Los Angeles traffic gridlock, so I went down to meet with Prescod at the Black Lives Matter encampment, and listened to the stories of those present including a woman representing a Gang Truce group who had nothing good to say about the police, her husband is currently locked up. Talk went around a circle of some fifty to sixty persons, mostly persons of color, but some white supporters such as my self as well. This was the weekend before the Republican convention. I heard of he incarceration nation where large swaths of black youths have been incarcerated for minor offenses and have since in many places lost their right to vote, as convicted felons in many states cannot vote and incarcerated persons are denied the right. Also due to the requirement on job applications to report convictions many are unable to find jobs, denied housing and public assistance, even food stamps. These mostly minority men become even more likely to return to crime or find themselves trapped in a marginal world of exploited off the grid employment often as sex workers.

I know quite a few denizens of the motels on commercial strips who have no ID, outstanding warrants, work selling drugs or their bodies, who survive from day to day with little hope other than the enthusiasm of youth. What these young persons need is opportunities to go back to school or to find entry level apprenticeships. Instead they find drugs, easy temporary cash from the sex trade, and the inevitable return to prison.

I know plenty of more fortunate twenty somethings who cannot find meaningful employment, live precariously depending on the kindness of strangers, all in an economy that seems to have left an entire generation outside and an increasing number of what were formerly middle class in marginal service jobs or in the gig economy with no benefits and no job security. I am fortunate to have a skill and experience, but I would hate to be an unemployed youth today. Education is a debt trap for them with no guarantee of employment. For minority youths it is worse, far worse, because not only is the limited opportunity, but also a police apparatus that has been designed to oppress and incarcerate with color and youth being the indicators that flag the individual as a target.

This dystopian view, most recently a result from the failure of the Sanders campaign to make real headway in changing the Democratic Party establishment, which the recent Wikipedia release of the DNC emails shows that the party apparatus actively attempted to thwart the Sanders campaign, leaves one again in the political desert seeking some kind of relief. In my case I am leaning back to the Green Party. I like the Canadian Strategic voting plan, vote green in Red and Blue states and only vote for the Democrats in swing states. This will help build the momentum for a Green Party presence in the next round of elections, especially if Green Party candidates can begin to show results in local elections. This may be a pipe dream, but many of those who rallied to Bernie have now got the grass roots campaign experience to work on an entirely independent manner. If the Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Rights groups and the Environmental movement can find common cause under the banner of a new party, Green or other, then there is hope for America. Otherwise we will have demagogues like Trump and establishment tools like Hilary Clinton running the show.

Gangsterism Reflects Failed Modern State

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Victims found dumped in Tijuana, Mexico
From: http://www.sneakymag.com/features/guide-mexican-drug-war/

Narco-Economy: Review of Gangster Warlords Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America, by Ioan Grillo. New York: Bloomsbury Press. 2016. Hardback $28.00. 378pp.

The author, Ioan Grillo is a British journalist living in Mexico City who has been on the Latin American beat since 2001. He is the author of a previous book about the cartels El Narco Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency (Grillo 2016). The book is thankfully footnoted and has an index and even though it reads a bit like a detective story, it has incisive analysis and references academic work to back up the author’s own on the ground analysis interviewing drug lords, street dealers, community residents, police, and government officials in Brazil, Jamaica, the UK, USA, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico. With some 15 years of experience the author gives an on the ground perspective on the rise of the Narco shadow state in the Americas. Fueled by demand in the USA, the UK, Europe and increasingly, in the countries in which the gangs and Cartels operate, Grillo describes the conditions in which the gangs and Cartels thrive. Not focusing on the consumer end, or the production of the drugs so much as the sociology of the gang and cartel networks, how they manage to survive and thrive in nations with less well developed infrastructures than in the developed world providing real life alternatives for the chronically under and unemployed youth of the barrios and favelas as well as the small towns in where they are located.

Without a doubt this is an issue of import and as I read the book I became engrossed with the tales of these alternative state-lets emerging in the collapsed world of the global economy. Not only has neoliberalism failed to deliver the goods, but it has been complicit in destroying the infrastructure that would provide an alternative to collapse. This is the Disaster Capitalism Naomi Klein wrote about in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine where she describes how the shock doctrine to curb inflation in Bolivia prescribed by Jeffrey Sachs in the 1980’s led directly to massive unemployment, and pushed thousands of Bolivians into the Cocaine trade with an estimated one in ten in the coca business by 1989 (Klein 2007, 188). The victory of neo-liberal economics forced upon the Bolivian people, in a coup-less victory unlike the previous model Pinochet’s Chile, where the democratically elected communist Allende was overthrown in a CIA backed coup (78-80). But the neoliberal connection to the rise of the drug trade is unfortunately not very evident in Ioan Grillo’s book which is long on narrative and folksy descriptions of the Narco commanders and foot soldiers but is short on background analysis. His book certainly raises alarms as to the extent of the problem, and he does spend some time describing the vigilante movement in Mexico that emerged to contest the Knights Templar of Nazario Moreno in lieu of an effective government which had essentially ceded control of vast regions of Michoacán and Guerrero provinces to the cartels (Grillo 298-300). But while mentioning the Zapatistas as inspiring indigenous people to rise up by their example of a successful resistance to the Mexican state in forming an autonomous region, he does not really seem to understand the import of the rising which he almost dismisses as not serious. “Their armed challenge lasted only twelve days before a bishop brokered a cease fire” (299). What Grillo does not mention was the timing of the rebellion to coincide with the initiation of the NAFTA trade agreement which has proven to be so devastating to small farmers in Mexico were every farmer who could follow the debates over NAFTA knew that in the early 1990’s Mexican corn sold for $224 a ton and US Iowa corn sold for $110 a ton on the border (Womack 1999, 22). Free trade would be the death of the Mexican small holder farmers and inevitably would lead to the flooding of the markets with cheap American corn. John Womack’s description of the EZLN upon the towns of Chiapas has a different ring. “On January 1, 1994, some 3000 booted, uniformed, masked, and well trained men and women, all armed, many with Stern Mark II’s, AK-47’s, M-6’s, and Uzis, moved out from numerous clandestine bases, concentrated in several units, and captured San Cristóbal, two towns not far north, six more eastward toward the cañadas, two of them in pitched battles, and many villages elsewhere in the region” (12). Developing the background in some detail of the policies of the Mexican government, and attempts on the part of the mostly indigenous peasant farmers to call attention to their plight including a major anti NAFTA protest on the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the white oppressor in 1992 in which protest was largely peaceful (22), Womack unlike Grillo, explains the social, economic, and political context, including many supporting texts, including statements from the Zapatistas, with specific reference to symbolism of the January 1 rebellion as it related to the first day NAFTA went into effect (42).

Grillo mentions the traditions of the leftist guerrilla insurgencies of the 1970’s in Guerrero and to a lesser extent in Michoacán, noting the 1968 Tlatelolco Square massacre in passing, he treats the left in Mexico, as he did the revolutionary left in Brazil, and in Jamaica in an almost scornful manner, as merely the breeding ground for a more effective brand of gangster, writing of the Red Commando in Brazil, Grillo describes the leader he William da Silva Lima who “sees his crimes as political in a broader sense, and himself as a robber because he was born poor. This echoes the self-justification made by gangsters across the Americas (Grillo 2016, 64, 242). Simplistically noting that gang leaders tend to be readers and studious, as if that were the link that made gangs as powerful as they were (53). Grillo describes the M8 revolutionaries in Brazil dismissively describing Fernando Gabeira as the Green Party politician “photographed on Ipanema Beach wearing a purple women’s G-string…. [and] kidnapping the U.S. ambassador in MR8’s most notorious operation in 1969” (55). His description of the series of dictators who overthrew democratically elected governments, aided and abetted by the CIA as the result of a “moth bitten document with SECRET stamped on it” (51), as if the period was merely the result of US government paranoia. This dismissal of the period of the generals, the disappeared, the torture, and murder of leftists, unionists and others who merely attempted to express their civil rights, seems to play into the rather shallow content of the analysis overall. The author is constantly making pop cultural comparisons as he describes Williams as being like the Paul Newman character in the movie Cool Hand Luke, trivializes the oppression of the poor and turns the leader of the Red Commandos into a pop cartoonish figure, easily dismissed (44).

The recent murder of the indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres brings home the brazen level of violence in the nation of Honduras which has the highest per capita murder rate in the world (186). Co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Movements of Honduras (COPINH) which had participated in the opposition to the coup government in 2009 as part of the Refoundational Space resistance group (Webber and Gordon 2013, 46), Cáceres had more recently been active in opposing the building of a massive dam project by a Honduran company, Desarrollos Energéticos S.A., or DESA and had convinced several of its backers to withdraw funding from the dam project drawing the ire of DESA. The environmental activist had won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2014 among other awards (Pestano 2016). The environment of impunity in Honduras has fueled the violence against environmental activists in a nation where some 111 had been murdered between 2002 and 2014 (Global Witness 2015, 16). The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights at the UN has called for an independent investigation due to the lack of credibility of the President Juan Orlando Hernández government efforts to investigate the murder of Cáceres and her fellow activist Nelson Garcia (OHCHR 2016). As Blitzer in his article of April 11, 2016, in The New Yorker, pointed out that the Honduran regime claims to have the support of the FBI in its investigation of the murder was not true and the investigations were being conducted by a private investigator from New York. The fallout has even affected the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton where protesters have accused her of being responsible for the death of Cáceres due to Clinton’s involvement as Secretary of State in the U.S. government position not to call the overthrow of the Liberal Zelaya government in 2009 a coup (Pestano 2016).

Webber and Gordon state, the 2009 coup represented a consolidation of the neo-liberal agenda fused with militarism across the region from Columbia to Mexico (Webber and Gordon 2013, 18). Their research indicates that as neo-liberalism kicked into high gear in the 1990s, after all threats from the leftist groups in neighboring states had been defeated or otherwise neutralized, the Conservatives and Liberals implemented reforms that resulted in the dispossession of peasants of much of the gains from previous land reforms. People headed for the urban slums and the United States as rural poverty reached some 70% in the late 1990s (26). Maquiladoras expanded and in the slums gangs gained a foothold so that the conservative government under President Maduro was able to expand the military in a “war on gangs” (23-25, 32-33). “Violent crime has increased dramatically in Latin America in the wake of neoliberal restructuring. Central America is at the leading edge of this phenomenon” (32). Corruption in the government of Honduras with extends to the highest levels of the police force as well as prominent politicians as they have been implicated in the murder of the former Honduran Drug Czar in 2009 (Arce 2016).

Skipping this entire history, Grillo in his synopsis on the recent history of the Central American states glosses over the 1980’s leftist insurgency in El Salvador, the Sandinista overthrow of the U.S. backed dictatorship in Nicaragua, the brutal dictatorships in Guatemala, and the strongman rule in Honduras where he mentions the U.S. campaign against the Sandinista government under the Reagan administration which used the air base at Palmerola in Honduras to arm and support the Contras (Grillo 2016, 188-189). While mentioning the CIA backed coup in Guatemala in 1954, his three paragraph history lesson is boiled down to another pop cultural representation the Oliver Stone movie Salvador (189). While giving factual information, that he must assume readers are familiar with due to the briefness of his background briefing, the constant pandering to the reader with pop references, indicates a journalistic bias that assumes the reader will be lost or bored, without entertaining cultural titbits. Where Grillo has an interesting use of pop culture is in his identification of certain gang names and symbols with pop culture such as the relationship between the El Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha with a movie starring Charlton Heston The Naked Jungle, translated in Spanish as ‘Cuando Ruge la Marabunta” which translates as “When the Ants Roar” thus the Maras are a group of friends who gather together like ants in a mutual protection society Grillo gets his information from an anthropologist Juan Martinez (189-200). While this and other rather trivial information, such as how the Maras were originally associated with heavy metal culture in Los Angeles, where the gang formed among refugee and immigrant youth in the 1980’s, such trivial is not a substitute for a deeper analysis of the background of the conditions in Central America (195-196). Revealing that the child immigrant wave of 2014 was a direct result of U.S. deportations of gang members in Los Angeles back to their countries of origin, does not tell the reader much about the underlying conditions there other than to say the wars of the 1980s led to a refugee population settling in Los Angeles (203-204). Facile arguments such as the gang members fought because they liked to, and as a way to establish a reputation among the gang, does not go far in explaining the persistence of the gangs or the economic drivers behind the attraction of the gangs (199).
Grillo does do a decent job in tracing the cultural roots of the gangs and the sociological attraction of being in a gang as a way to protect the recent immigrant youths in the potentially hostile streets of Los Angeles. A better analysis of the U.S. policy to deport plane loads of El Salvadoran gang members onto the impoverished streets of El Salvador after the 1992 truce between the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the El Salvadorian government would have been useful. The short sighted U.S. policy, out of sight out of mind came back to haunt the U.S. with the exodus of the children in 2014 (185-186). Interesting factors also indicate that simply eliminating the gang wars with truces don’t necessarily work, as the short term results may be a dip in violence but quickly return to previous or higher levels (Katz and Amaya 2015). This would seem to indicate that the drivers for the violence is not a socially driven factor but has a strong economic driving force behind it and larger political dimensions that are not directly related to the immediate activities of individual gangs.

Conclusion

As the U.S. goes from one drug epidemic to another, with high grade heroin being the most popular in the news cycle of late (Ahmed 2015). The American appetite for drugs remains unabated and will not necessarily result in a decrease in the activities of the crime syndicates as drug legalization and harm reduction becomes increasingly the focus in the United States and other countries, witness the recent drug policy conference at the United Nations where the split between those who would double down on the punitive approach to drugs, were countered by the increasing view of the harm reduction parties who would reduce the violence resulting in something of an impasse (Glenza 2016). Clearly the policy of focusing on the war on drugs has been a disaster that has led to tine militarization of and occupation of poor communities around the world. If there was an intentional policy to oppress the poor around the world, the war on drugs could hardly have been improved upon. As neo-liberal practices have been increasingly causing disruption to traditional cultures and live styles around the world, there has been an increased disparity between the concentrations of wealth in the hands of the few, at the cost of social services in many countries, education, and traditional work opportunities, The results have been masses of young ambitious and desperate young men seeking out a path to follow their own aspirations to a better life. For thousands around the world and especially in Latin America that opportunity is in the cartels and the gangs.

Grillo describes the symptoms, and the personal stories of the actors, foot soldiers, tactical middle men and masterminds of this new world in which the alternative economy has emerged. His focus is on sensational descriptions with some background information for the casual reader with a focus on the criminal sociology of the gangs and cartels. The book was interesting in a tabloid journalistic sense, although having personal experience in the underground economy and with gang members the voyeuristic aspects of the book were not particularly interesting. Grillo does not propose particularly profound solutions but he is to be admired for his willingness to tread upon the paths local journalists have been reporting upon for years, describing the development of the underground economic and quasi-political response to the neo colonial and neo liberal policies of the wealthy elites of the world.

Works Cited

Ahmed, Azam. Aug. 29, 2015 Young Hands in Mexico Feed Growing U.S. Demand for Heroin. The New York Times. Accessed 2 April, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/30/world/americas/mexican-opium-production-rises- to-meet-heroin-demand-in-us.html?_r=0
Arce, Alberto. (April 22, 2016). Honduran Ex-Police Chief Says Government Faked Documents in Assassination Case. The New York Times. Accessed 24 April 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/23/world/americas/honduras-ramn-sabilln-pineda- police-antidrug-assassination.html?_r=0
Blitzer, Johnathan. (April 11, 2016).No Answers in the Murder of Berta Cáceres. The New Yorker. Accessed 22 April 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/no- answers-in-the-murder-of-berta-caceres
Glenza, Jessica (21 April 2016). Decriminalize all drugs, business and world leaders tell UN. The Guardian. Accessed 21 April 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/21/un-special -session-global-drug-policy- failure-critics-say
Global Witness (2015). How Many More? 2014’s deadly environment: the killing and intimidation of environmental and land activists, with a spotlight on Honduras. Global Witness Limited Accessed 22 April 2016. https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/how-many-more/
Katz, Charles Max and Amaya, Luis Enrique (2015) The gang truce as a form of violence intervention : implications for policy and practic. Fundación Nacional para el Desarrollo, San Salvador, El Salvador, América Central. ISBN 9789996149313 (E-Book, inglés, resumen)
Klein, Naomi. (2007). The Shock Doctrine The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. New York: Picador.
OHCHR. (22 April 2016). Honduras murders: UN Expert urges independent investigation into killings of rights defenders. United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR). Geneva. Accessed 22 April 2016. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19864&=E#st hash.pI5j67VO.dpuf
Pestano, Andrew V. (April 19, 2016). Why this protester is blaming Clinton for the murder of a Honduran activist. UPI. United Press International, Inc. Accessed 23 April 2016. http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2016/04/19/Why-this-protester-is-blaming-Clinton- for-the-murder-of-a-Honduran-activist/8981460996811/
Webber, Jeffery R., and Todd Gordon. 2013. “Post-Coup Honduras: Latin America’s Corridor of Reaction.” Historical Materialism 21, no. 3: 16-56. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 24, 2016).
Womack, John Jr. (1999). Rebellion in Chiapas an historical reader. New York: The New Press.

Jens Stoltenberg NATO Sec General, Foreign Policy Advisors-Cruz, Trump, Sanders

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks on the state of affairs with NATO during the Atlantic Council at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, USA on April 6, 2016.
April 07, 2016| Credit: Anadolu Agency

Jens Stolenberg speaking before the Atlantic Council on April 6, 2016, made encouraging noises for the United States and the advocates of the establishment view that the NATO alliance is the right wing of the American imperial project. Japan and the Asian Alliance being the left wing. Stoltenberg argued for increased defense spending on the part of NATO members to their 2% commitments (A Conversations with NATO Secretary General 2016).

“Only Poland this year joined the four other countries, out of 28 total NATO members, that are meeting the alliance’s goal of spending 2% of their gross domestic product on defense. The other four are the U.S., Great Britain, Greece and Estonia.Overall, six countries are raising and six are cutting their military spending as a proportion GDP this year when compared with 2014, and the rest are staying the same” (Bendavid 2015, np).

The lack of unity among the NATO members in their commitment to become the tool for policy generated largely from Washington, DC is evident in these numbers. Wishful thinking on the part of Stoltenberg is largely driven by a desire to reassure the US Congress which he had spoken before earlier in the day. The presence of the Secretary General at the Atlantic Council at which he pointedly refused to be baited into commenting on the statements of some of the American Presidential Candidates, should be interpreted in my view, based on the prologue to the question “wild ideas spouted by some of the candidates” as being a polemic to provide an oblique comment on the commentary of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Bernie Sanders, leaving Hillary Clinton and perhaps John Kasich would be acceptable.

Regarding the Cruz team, they are a mix of NeoCons and Rigt wing Extremists like “Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan administration Pentagon official who has emerged as a lightning rod in the Obama era, accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center of being one of the nation’s leading Islamophobes” (Lake 2016, np). To the left, in Republican terms is Eliot Abrams from the Bush Administration who advises against demonizing Islam, as well as Mary Habeck an expert on Jihadist organizations who advocates a more moderate stance also. Victoria Coates is Cruz’s main foreign policy advisor. She apparently deliberately included the rabid Islamophobes with the more traditional Neocons, bringing the debate to a much harder line than has been the norm in recent Republican administrations.

Looking at Donald Trump there is marked move away from the top ranks of the foreign policy establishment. “The advisors he has enlisted appear to have spent little to no time as policymakers, and of those who have served in the military, few have top-level experience. One has been consistently condemned by Muslim rights groups and another was investigated while working as the Pentagon’s inspector general” (Lee 2016, np). The members include Keith Kellog who works in intelligence and security firms. Carter Page an investments firm manager who wrote a blog post that is similar to the chickens coming home to roost argument made famous by Malcolm X and that got Ward Churchill in so much trouble. George Papadopoulos is “a director at the London Centre of International Law Practice. In its mission statement, the group views global issues with a “promotion of peace,” which falls into accord with Trump’s noninterventionist approach” (Lee 2016, np). He also was an economic advisor for the Ben Carson campaign. Also Walid Phares professor at George Washington University with controversial links to Christian Militias in Lebanon accused of massacres of Muslims. He defends some of Trumps rhetoric as in this quote from NPR “Mr. Trump, because we are in a political season, he’s making those statements, but when he will come to the White House … then he’s going be tasking experts to answer that question, and I’m not sure that the experts are going to recommend any form of torture” (Phares cited by Lee 2016).
There are also a number of former military with service in the field as well as a Silver Star recipient Bert Mizusawa. Joseph Schmitz the former Pentagon Inspector General has been accused of blocking investigations of Bush administration officials during his tenure. This group is a mixed bag of possibly interesting out of the box thinkers, but none of them are as Lee states, top level operatives in the Washington establishment.

Sanders has still been somewhat reluctant to release information regarding his foreign policy team. Larry Korb “a defense policy expert at the Center for American Progress” (Crowley 2016, np), has been offered a position according to this Politico article but there is not much more on it He served in the Reagan administration. Another Bill French, a policy analyst at the left-leaning National Security Network” has become a foreign policy staffer. Bill French, a policy analyst at the left-leaning National Security Network” (Crowley 2016), as a foreign policy staffer. Lawrence Wilkerson the former aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell, has also been helping the Sanders campaign. He is a well known critic of the invasion of Iraq. Speaking about the CIA’s past activities Sanders said “The CIA plays an important role,” he added. “But have they done things which they should not have done on behalf of the United States government? Absolutely” (Crowley 2016). He is a critical voice but represents a position that seems to be not much further to the left of President Obama, a critical realist who has renounced his 1974 view that the CIA should be abolished.

Hilary and Kasich representing more main stream views will not be subject to discussion at this point. I would only add that Sanders and Trump take a more conservative position regarding foreign policy while in my view Ted Cruz has the more extreme interventionist view, perhaps even more hawkish than Clinton although not the hawk that his erstwhile rival Rubio was.

Works Cited

A Conversation with NATO Secretary General H.E. Jens Stoltenberg. April 6, 2016 - 4:00 pm. Atlantic Council. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/events/upcoming-events/detail/a-conversation-with-nato-secretary-general-he-jens-stoltenberg

Bendavid, Naftali June 22, 2015 9:03 a.m. ET Just Five of 28 NATO Members Meet Defense Spending Goal, Report Says
Report comes amid concern over Russia’s growing military assertiveness. Wall Street Journal. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-calls-for-rise-in-defence-spending-by-alliance-members-1434978193.

Crowley, Michael. 02/24/16 04:10 PM EST Updated 02/24/16 04:48 PM EST/ Sanders reaches out for foreign-policy help. Politico. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.politico.com/story/2016/02/bernie-sanders-foreign-policy-help-219744#ixzz45PpgOmcS.

Lake, Eli. March 17, 2016 6:00 AM EST. Cruz Assembles an Unlikely Team of Foreign-Policy Rivals. Bloomberg View. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-03-17/cruz-assembles-an-unlikely-team-of-foreign-policy-rivals

Lee, Kurtis. 7 April 2016. 3: AM. Here’s who Donald Trump is taking foreign policy advice from. Los Angeles Times. Accessed 9 April 2016. http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-trump-foreign-policy-team-20160407-htmlstory.html

Sanders Campaign, Apathetic Youth, and Grumpy Old Me.

Sunday, February 28th, 2016


From Brecorder.com- Bernie Sanders Presidential Candidate.

I almost never post here anymore. School, work and my granddaughter are eating up my time. But I thought I would take some of my homework time to make a couple of comments. Perhaps it was watching The Big Short that got me fired up, or the work doing get out the vote calling for the Bernie Sanders campaign today. Whatever the reason, I am writing some of my observations on the current scene around me.

Once I got the hang of the automated dial system, I did pretty good calling to get out the vote for Sanders. Mostly I skipped the script and got to the point. I hate it when people read from scripts and so I didn’t feel like subjecting anyone to my version of the same. More Sanders supporters answered than Hillary supporters, fewer Republicans than I expected and lots of no answers since it was Saturday evening. I found myself encouraging people to go to the caucuses or primaries, no matter who they supported. Interestingly there was only one outspoken Trump supporter in the batch and only one lady lectured me on the evils of socialism. America truly does seem more liberal, or at least more frustrated with the system than four years ago. I think the failure of the Obama administration to gain significant headway has broiled over into the public at large. The copays on Obama care are too high, the wages are still stagnant, and youth unemployment is way too high.

Having my stepdaughter living with me has made me very aware of the levels of youth unemployment, that being around the relatively privileged student population at the university hasn’t. She is out of work, all of her friends are out of work or have marginal Mc Jobs. The worst part is the total lack of interest in participation in the political process. They have bought into the radical critique of the Occupy movement but they are totally apathetic in terms of doing anything about it. The same goes for the students, although not to the same degree. I spent a long five minutes in my Political Geography class lecturing kids on how things haven’t changed as much as they would like, because of the same generalized sense of malaise and despair over their personal ability to make a difference. It was a bit shocking actually.

Well I beat my head against the wall with my step daughter and her friends, but they just seem to want to hang out, smoke pot and joke around. I guess on a superficial level my generation was the same from an outside perspective, but we were fired up with ideals of revolution. Much of the changes we fought for have become part of their daily life and they just accept, liberal pot laws, racial tolerance and sexual diversity as normal. On the other hand I do find anti-homeless attitudes that I find inexplicable. My step daughter even approves of the gentrification of downtown LA, even though it meant that her former boyfriend could no longer afford to live there. She didn’t get connection between Whole Foods entering the neighborhood and the increased rents. Explanations of the dynamics of the situation on my part simply go over her head. I have actually had comments from her friends that I am spreading negative vibes. That sort of no-nothingism, has led me to the unhappy conclusion that all this easy access to pot is supporting an apathetic view that I find alarming. These kids are not getting high and dreaming of revolution. I am not sure what they dream of. Based on what I overhear of their conversations it is not of a particularly high intellectually stimulating order.

OK, I can hear it now, gramps is getting grumpy. I hear my irrelevance reflected in the incomprehension to my attempts at giving them political analysis. When I turn on CSPAN or a documentary about current events, on the TV in the living room they put on the ear plugs and turn up the volume of the latest Britney Spears tune on their iPods. Funny all these jobless broke kids have iPhones and recently I discovered that there is a thriving black market in stolen and second hand Apple products that these kids participate in. In fact it seems that they live in a third world like cash and barter economy. Most of them have little or no ID, don’t have driving licenses, take services like Uber or the disdained public transit, and seem to all have food stamps, but they don’t cook! My step daughter loves to buy overpriced organic junk food from Whole Foods. I tell her at least go to Trader Joes or Ralphs where the stuff is less expensive and the owner’s political views are not quite so fascistic. She likes the atmosphere, when she shops at Whole Foods she says she feels like she is part of the young healthy and successful. Explaining that that is simply a marketing ploy on the part of Whole Foods does not work, rational decision making is not her strong suit or seemingly something that any of her friends indulge in. They hang out, some at the Hare Krishna temple, and wait, for what I am not sure, but they seem pretty fatalistic about their prospects.

I don’t exactly live the life of a middle class success story. In fact I try to use my life as a warning as to what not to do with your life as I am spending my late working life trying to catch up and stash a little savings while I still can. The Revolution didn’t happen and as things stand it looks like our Socialist Vanguard in Bernie Sanders is about to get crushed in the Democratic machine’s super delegate insurance policy that a truly populist candidate can be crushed before it can capture the nomination. I am less optimistic than I wish I could be about the prospects for change. But people are pissed and even if these kids are not part of the solution, I do hope that eventually they become uncomfortable enough to desire more. My step daughter made the comment that she would support a candidate that gave her free child care for her daughter. I told her that both Clinton and Sanders had polices to expand just that, but she had to participate in the struggle to make the changes happen, not wait for it to be handed too her as a given. I don’t know if she got it. But perhaps the discomfort of being a single parent will eventually prod her into activism. The lack of jobs, or the hassle getting her GED, or the fact that she and most of her friends are in their mid-twenties with few prospects may prod them reluctantly into action.

Perhaps, like during Occupy, enough of them will become inspired. They don’t pay enough attention to the political process to catch the Burn, even though I have Bernie Sanders signs, bumper stickers, tee shirt and buttons all over the apartment. One can hope something will get them going. Sometimes I wish we had another Vietnam War, now that was a great motivator, the Draft and an ugly war in a faraway jungle. Right now the military is something to aspire too for these kids. But then that is the general idea. No prospects, the military can pick and choose its cannon fodder. But that is another conversation.

Indigenous Tribes & ‘Green’ Energy Exploitation in California Desert

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

This paper was presented in a Geography class studying the DRECP plan for Southern California. Since this was written the plan has been announced. There is a comment period in December 2015 before the Plan is finalized for Federal Lands in the California Desert. It allows for fast track development of Green energy in designated areas.

The Tribal Perspective on the Draft DRECP and EIR/EIS
By Gary Crethers, Nicole Beatty, Cheyenne Armstead, Cassandra Casapulla, and Derek Sanders
December 10, 2015.

Abstract: The draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), proposes to give renewable energy companies a fast track to cutting red tape by creating Development Focus Areas (DFA’s), where environmental impacts will be the least harmful. The affected regional tribes have concerns that Cultural impacts have taken a back seat and that the tribes were invited late to the process of critiquing the proposals. The Tribes have concerns over a lack of access to data from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), responsible for the plan, and have been pitted against one another in attempts to mitigate impacts on traditional lands due to the nature of the process of designation of one area of greater value over another. This paper addresses the concerns of the Tribes focusing on the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), and the San Manual Band of Mission Indians (SMBMI).
Key Words: Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, Native American Tribes, Renewable Energy, Colorado River Indian Tribes, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Bureau of Land Management.

Introduction: In 2010 the BLM agreed to permit a 709 Megawatt solar farm to be built in the Imperial Valley desert, it would have taken up 6000 acres of public land. Problem was, the tribes were not consulted and The Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation opposed on those grounds, citing section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), among others. They claimed some 459 cultural resources were affected and they sued. Quechan Tribe v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior, (755 F. Supp. 2d 1104, 1108-11 (S.D. Cal. 2010)). (Dreveskracht 2013, 433). The project, which would have been the largest in the nation, suffered a severe setback and lost most of its backing. The tribal complaint was one of procedure. The tribe had not been invited to the table and stood by their legal rights, making the point that they were not opposed to alternative energy, but to the lack of consultation, a costly error on the part of the BLM (Dreveskracht 2012). The Colorado River Indian Tribes have sued over the Blythe Solar Power Project known as the Genesis Project for a “mass disturbance” of cultural artifacts, in this case the BLM claims to have consulted the tribes but evidently the consultation was inadequate, costing additional millions to the project. In this case there was mitigation which Daniel McCarthy claims to have been adequate CRIT may beg to differ (Copley 2014; McCarthy pers. comm. 2015; Dreveskracht 2012; Patch 2015). Clearly litigation causes the development of alternative energy resources setbacks, for energy development to proceed in the future, the tribes must be consulted and sensitivity to cultural factors must be maintained through the entire process. On the other hand in the suit against the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility Project, Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation v. United States Department of the Interior, (43 ELR 20047 No. 12cv1167-GPC, (S.D. Cal., 02/27/2013) (Curiel, J.)), the tribe lost.
The validity of tribal claims to the spiritual inheritance associated with sacred spaces has been acknowledged by the government and is part of law in “the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA 1979), the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA 1990), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA 2004), and California Senate Bill 18 (SB 18 2004)” yet sacred sites are still not respected fully by government authorities and private industry (Greenberg and Greenberg 2013, 30). The ethical care of the environment is imbedded in Native American beliefs and with traditional notions of the sacredness of nature lending itself to ecologically oriented belief systems, which due to the lack of “pro-environmental” views of faiths such as that of the Puritan founders of New England, make it hard sometimes for non-natives to understand the significance of sacred sites and artifacts (35). This miss communication has led to legislation meant to alleviate some of that misunderstanding with indigenous consultations mandated by the NHPA Section 106 whenever Federal lands use changes on tribal lands or significant cultural resources are affects. Further SB 18 mandates tribal consultation at the beginning of these procedures (32, 35). The violation of these Federal and State mandates partially are due the fact that consultation is not the same as legislated rights prior interest, leading to being ignored, or lengthy legal wrangling and lawsuits (Dreveskracht 2012, Greenberg and Greenberg 2013, Patch 2015). This seems counter intuitive when Native belief systems have a profound propensity to favor environmentally sensitive perspectives with their “sense of autochthony – the spiritual experience of belonging to a place” (Greenberg and Greenberg 2013, 33).
The Native peoples who live in the Southeastern California Desert have a vested interest in how the development of alternative energy impacts their tribal lands and their traditional cultural environment. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that the impact on any historically significant resources be submitted for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) determined from their NAHC Sacred Site data base that the tribes would be affected and as the State body responsible for oversight of Native Interests in that regard, submitted to the DRECP in 2011, a list of Native tribal contacts and a copy of a recommended guidelines for consulting tribes that had been submitted to the California Department of Fish and Game Renewable Energy Action Team in 2009 (Singleton 2011). The process of contacting the tribes on the state level had thus become part of the bureaucratic process in meeting the State of California goals for renewable energy initiated under Governor Schwarzenegger wherein some 33 percent of the state energy had to come from renewable sources by 2020 (Singleton, 2011). Tribes cultural concerns had not been in the original planning for the DRECP, and many tribes perceived their interests as being “a late ‘add on’ to the core biological goals and have been given short shrift in the Plan” (Coyle 2015, 1). This view was reiterated by Daniel McCarthy in a personal interview (McCarthy pers. comm. 2015).
Even though the planners of the DRECP had been notified of a legal and procedural basis for tribal input, the tribes themselves have indicated a lack of ability to participate or contribute to the outcomes, with the “deferral of in depth cultural resource studies until after project developer has submitted an application to develop a specific project inevitably results in the destruction or removal of such cultural resources and landscapes” (Patch 2015, 6). Thus the tribes have deep reservations about the efficacy of the DRECP process and advocate that the cultural resources be put on the same level as the biological resources for the tribes to consider that their interests are being taken seriously (4). It is our interest in this paper to develop and advocate for the interests of the native peoples affected by the DRECP.
Methodology: Interviewing at least one interested party, and reading the submitted testimony of several of the tribes to the California Energy Commission comments, as well as some of the relevant literature on the subject, including the portions of the DRECP draft report related to the Native American Issues, provided the majority of the material from which the research was developed and conclusions arrived.
Results: The propensity for the BLM to not consult the tribes, ignoring statutes such as Section 106 of the NHPA, the provisions for consultation in NEPA, the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA), American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA), and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, Executive Order 12898 Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (1994), and the Council on Environmental Quality’s Environmental Justice Guidance Under the National Environmental Policy Act (CEQ), the National Policy Issuance 94-10 USFWS Native American Policy (1994), Executive Order 13007 Indian Sacred Sites (1996), Executive Order 13175 Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments (2000) and Secretarial Order 3206 American Indian Tribal Rights and the Endangered Species Act (1997) to mention only a partial list of Federal regulations and laws regarding relations with Native people, should provide an exhaustive basis for covering the interests and concerns of the tribes (Draft DRECP III.9 2014, 2-9). In fact the legislation only claims the Native American rights to be consulted, not to completely block Government action which is a critical issue that the CRIT brought up in their critique of the DRECP as having sham effectiveness (Dreveskracht 2013, 435; Patch 2015, 4). The approach of the tribes has been less than welcoming although repeatedly they all claim to support the need to develop renewable energy and have expressed interest in participation in the process especially if granted control of the development of their own resources, something that is currently severely restricted by federal law (Dreveskracht 2012; McCarthy pers. comm. 2015; Paresa 2015; Patch 2015).
The BLM has accumulated enough data to understand that renewable solar and wind energy can be “especially harmful to biodiversity, scenic landscapes, water supplies, natural quiet and cultural resources” (Nagle 2013, 62). The evidence shown in the case of the Native Americans regarding cultural resources, natural quiet, and the scenic landscape in particular have been shown to be causes for concern acknowledged in the Draft DRECP with a listing of potential impacts that would require site specific environmental impact statements (EIS). Tribal concerns being listed in terms of cultural resources impacts, specifically physical destruction of cultural resources, isolation of cultural resources from access or alteration significant to be considered under the standards of NRHP, CRHR, or CEQA by tribal members, introduction of sights, smells, or other atmospheric elements that are not characteristic to a site. Excessive impacts to sites linked to tribal identity and “disproportionate impact to places that play an essential role in the perpetuation of the generations” (Draft DRECP IV.9, 6).
It is critical to note that there are some 50 tribes listed in the DRECP as having an interest as defined by the various laws, statutes, and executive orders. Each of these tribes has specific concerns, cultural resources, and histories that may go back for some 10,000 years (Draft DRECP 2014 III.9, 14-16; McCarthy 2015). CRIT is concerned about the I-10 Corridor being developed which contains many sacred sites. None of the plans in the Draft DRECP addressed their concerns and past experience had led them to believe that litigation was the path to take. Tribes historically have been ignored. Beginning in 1970’s legislation was passed to empower the tribal governments to be treated as sovereign powers. Over the past half century legislation has been passed, in which the standard of living has increased but at painfully slow rates. There has been little headway in terms of the development of alternative energy within the Reservations due in part to a lack of capital and expertise but also due to the lack of Federal legislation to empower the tribes to make their own decisions. Tribes are still, treated paternalistically and thus their sense of autonomy been constrained by a tradition of treating the Tribes as wards of the state (McCarthy pers. comm. 2015; Dreveskracht 2012; Patch 2015).
Historically the tribes have lost continuity due to the disruption caused by colonization, and genocide on the part of the colonizing powers, Spain, Mexica and finally the United States. Indians early on were treated to Christian civilization where “Spaniards… acting like ravening beasts, killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native peoples … to such a degree that this Island of Hispaniola, once so populous (I estimated to be more than three millions), has now a population of barely two hundred” (Las Casas 2004, 36). Later the Americans hunted Indians like wolves, as one hunter said “the best buckskin I ever seed was tanned with Injun brains” (Smith 2011, 84). The disappearance of history, and languages, have left the Native Peoples unable to locate ancient remains, leaving them dependent upon surviving traditions and archeology. As McCarthy stated the BLM expects the Tribes to have complete data bases, while the BLM was not forthcoming in providing access to data (McCarthy pers. comm. 2015). The “cumbersome structure and extensive cross referencing thereby undermining the Executive Summary’s claim of a ‘transparent’ approach” indicated to tribes that the BLM may not have been taking tribal concerns seriously, with the entire process called in to question (Coyle 2015, 1). The lack of access to adequately trained cultural survey persons, professional geologists, anthropologists, archeologists, geographers among others to both adequately respond to the demands of the Draft DRECP or to implement their own Renewable Energy Programs through the Tribal Energy Resource Agreement (TERA), which is supposed to bypass many of the onerous regulatory stipulations of the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), with the tribes setting up their own equivalents to the EPA, something of a hurdle that no tribe had been able to successfully negotiate (McCarthy pers. comm. 2015; Draft DRCECP III and IV 2014; Dreveskracht 2012, 444-446).
The lack of a truly comprehensive listing of cultural resources has compounded problems associated with the Draft DRECP. The CRIT noted that the DRECP has based its analysis on the “online list of California Historical Resources” which admittedly “includes only as a small portion of the resources that may actually be present” (Patch 2015, 5). Tribes have repeatedly requested that there be an extensive cultural resources inventory taken before leases are granted instead of the due diligence after. The tribes want comprehensive surveys done (Patch 2015, Coyle 2015). Once a lease is in motion it becomes very hard to stop a multi-million dollar project and tribal concerns become downgraded or even presenting the tribes with a false conception that there will be “significant and unavoidable impacts on all sites for energy development” (Patch 2015, 4). Independent scientific reviews of earlier phases of the project cited poorly handled data and a lack of adequately rigorous science in the Draft DRECP process. ”The panel unanimously concluded that DRECP is unlikely to produce a scientifically defensible plan without making immediate and significant course corrections, including strengthening leadership of the scientific program, increasing transparency in decision-making and documentation, improving scientific and technical foundations and analyses, and improving integration and synthesis of all analytical processes and products” (The DRECP Independent Science Panel 2012, 2). Interestingly there was not one mention of cultural resources in the report, reinforcing the position of the tribes regarding the focus of the DRECP.
Tribes with different approaches and specific needs are vulnerable to manipulation from the process by which the DRECP process has given the benefit to tribes and groups that are well funded as opposed to those that have limited resources. Complaints that the BLM was not forthcoming with cultural resource data, plus the lack of adequately trained cultural resource workers and professionals in the related fields of renewable energy development and the ecologically focused sciences has led to a situation in .which the tribes with greater scientific, legal, and financial resources are pitted against those without. The lack of comprehensive regional cultural resource surveys with the BLM depending largely on a 1980 data base, has led to a situation in which those in areas where the cultural resources have been not examined thoroughly face greater pressure as the DFA’s have been located on BLM land where the perception is that less damage will occur. The lack of specific data being available or released in a meaningful manner is problematic and undermines the fairness of the process (McCarthy pers. comm. 2015; Dreveskracht 2012; Patch 2015; Draft DRECP 2014).
The Draft DRECP plan expects that specific sites within the DFA’s will undergo the EIR/EIS process once potential developers have been granted the right to access a particular site. As has been noted once the lease has been granted the likelihood of the tribes to be able to stop the project or move it becomes greatly reduced and the expectation built into the process that damage will occur makes the mitigation process more of a remedy that often is acceptable to tribes with many tribes refusing to accept what are seen as bribes (McCarthy pers. comm. 2015; Patch 2015). The inability of the plan to perceive that some cultural resources may have very great value even if they are few in number as opposed to perhaps an area with many resources of which there may be few of any value, has caused a weighting to sheer numbers which is also problematic (Copley 2015; Draft DRECP 2014; Patch 2015).
Conclusions: The Tribal position is clearly one in which there is reason to suspect the methodology of the DRECP as noted in the comments by the tribes (Copley 2015; Paresa 2015; Patch 2015). The science has been criticized by the scientific review panel established by the DRECP, as well by the advocates for the tribal positions. There is an imperative to get the process of development of renewable resources done right as the process is in its early stages to avoid unnecessary litigation. The tribes are willing to participate in the process but their concerns must be taken seriously and respected for all parties to benefit.
Recommendations: 1.) A thorough and scientific evaluation of the cultural resources in all the areas being considered for DFA designation before the process of allocating leases has begun.
2.) Training of cultural resource workers and assignment of adequate resources to the tribes to adequately determine their best interests in the development process, including access to BLM data, training and resources for tribal representatives to process and interpret the data.
3.) A focus on preventing the necessity for mitigation by adequately determining site acceptability based on protocols that are agreed upon by the tribes affected.
4.) A fair and holistic process that incorporates environmental justice to remove the tendency to pit tribes against one another in the attempt to protect valued cultural resources.
5.) Development of the ability for the tribes to become stakeholders in the process by streamlining of TEFA to allow tribes access to participation in renewable energy development.
6.) Respecting the legislation and statutes already in place and treating the cultural resources on the same level as the biologically impacted ones originally considered by the Draft DRECP.

References Cited.
2014. Draft DRECP and EIS/EIR. Native American Interests III.9. Draft DRECP and EIS/EIR. Accessed November 3, 2015. http://www.drecp.org/draftdrecp/files/d_Volume_III/III.09_Native_American_Interests.pdf
2014. Draft DRECP and EIS/EIR. Native American Interests IV.9. Draft DREP and EIS/EIR. Accessed November 3, 2015. http://www.drecp.org/draftdrecp/files/e_Volume_IV/IV.09_Native_American_Interests.pdf
Copley, Michael. 2014. Tribe Suing Federal Government to Block Construction of Blythe Solar Project. SNL Energy Power Daily.
Coyle, Courtney. 2015. Re: DRECP NEPA/CEQA, Tribal Comments on Draft EIS/EIR. Carmen Lucas, Kwaaymii Laguna. Courtney Coyle Attorney for Carmen Lucas. Energy Docket Optical System, Docketed 09-Renew EO-1 TN 75066 February 23, 2015. Accessed November 21, 2015. http://www.drecp.org/draftdrecp/comments/Kwaaymii_Laguna_Band_of_Indians_comme nts-2015-02-23.pdf
Dreveskracht, Ryan D. 2012. Alternative Energy in American Indian Country: Catering to Both Sides of the Coin. Energy Law Journal. 33, no. 2: 431.
Greenberg, Joy, and Gregory Greenberg. 2013. Native American Narratives as Ecoethical Discourse in Land-Use Consultations. Wicazo Sa Review. 28, no. 2: 30-59.
Las Casas, Bartolome de. 2004. The Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account (1542). Voices of a people’s history of The United States. Ed. Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. New York: Seven Stories Press. 35-42.
McCarthy, Daniel. 2015. Personal Communications. Director of Cultural Affairs San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Interviewed November 18, 2015.
Nagle, John Copeland.2013.Green Harms of Green Projects. 27 Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 59. Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 1332. Accessed November 21, 2015. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2275373
Paresa, Jerry, J. 2015. Re: San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Comments on Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan “DRECP”. San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Email: to David Harlow March 10, 2015. Accessed November 21, 2015. http://www.drecp.org/draftdrecp/comments/San_Manuel_Band_of_Mission_Indians_com ments_2015-03-10_late.pdf
Patch, Dennis. 2015. Re: Comments of the Colorado River Indian Tribes on Draft DRECP NEPA/CEQA Documents. Colorado River Indian Tribes. Colorado River Indian Reservation. California Energy Commission. Docketed 09-Renew EO-1 TN 75205 Feb. 23, 2015. Accessed November 21, 2015. http://www.drecp.org/draftdrecp/comments/Colorado_River_Indian_Tribes_comments_2 015-02-23.pdf
Singleton, David. 2011. California Energy Commission, Dockets Office, MS-4. Dear Mr. Chew. Native American Heritage Commission. Docket 09 Renew EO-1 August 8, 2011. Received October 5, 2011. California Energy Commission. Accessed November 21, 2015. http://www.drecp.org/nepaceqa/comments/Native_American_Heritage_Commission_co mments.pdf
Smith, David Livingstone. 2011. Less than Human Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
The DRECP Independent Science Panel. 2012. Final Report Independent Science Review for the California Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. Renewable Energy Action Team. California Department of Fish & Game, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the California Energy Commission. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Wayne_Spencer/publication/273763679_Independe nt_Science_Review_for_the_California_Desert_Renewable_Energy_Conservation_Plan _%28DRECP%29/links/550b1ce60cf265693cef6859.pdf

Related Materials.
2010. California Energy Commission Selects Bureau Veritas as Delegate Chief Building Official for NextEra Energy Resources’ Genesis Solar Energy Project. Energy Weekly News. 422.
Morris, Amy Wilson, and Jessica Owley. 2014. Mitigating the Impacts of the Renewable Energy Gold Rush. Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology. 15, no. 1: 293
Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation v. United States Department of the Interior Citation: 43 ELR 20047 No. 12cv1167-GPC, (S.D. Cal., 02/27/2013) (Curiel, J.) Environmental Law Reporter. Accessed November 22, 2015. http://elr.info/litigation/43/20047/quechan-tribe-fort-yuma-indian-reservation-v-united- states-department-interior#content


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