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Tensions Escalate as Logging Work Commences Near Active Treesits in a Redwood Rainforest

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Trinidad, CA 

On Wednesday, August 6, Green Diamond Resource Company, an industrial logging company that owns nearly 400,000 acres in Humboldt County, started logging another forest that is being actively defended by activists living in trees. The forest activists are calling for an end to industrial logging during the climate crisis and have been defending trees across two Green Diamond timber harvest areas since April.

Yesterday, Green Diamond started logging in osprey (Pandion haliaetus) habitat, where the bird of prey could be heard in between the roars from the heavy machinery (see video). Forest defenders are protecting the largest trees within the area that are slated to be cut, some of which measure up to 7’ in diameter.

In the neighboring units, surrounding Strawberry Rock, Green Diamond has been shovel yarding directly below tree sitters for two days. Tree sitters, who have been protecting this area for 127 days, stated, “For the last two days my comrades and I have watched from the canopy as heavy machinery move logs, excavate stumps and flatten the soil on the hillside below us. What is truly horrifying is the realization that this is happening all over the Pacific Northwest – this is the devastating reality of modern mechanized forestry that is converting complex mixed forest ecosystems into monocropped tree plantations on a bioregional scale.”

The company’s response to the treesitters has been to station security at the trailhead and beneath the protected trees. Though the sitters have informed the workers and the company that forest defenders are dispersed throughout the area, the company has chosen to continue cutting and operating heavy machinery, even close to known treesits. “Green Diamond says they prioritize safety. Clearcut logging is not safe for engaged species who rely on these forests. It is not safe for future generations coping with climate catastrophe. It is not safe for redwood ecosystems, a rare ecological niche reduced by industrial logging to 5% it’s original two- million acre range.

The forest defenders state that they will continue to protect the forested stands. They call “for an end to industrial timber harvest during the climate crisis and sixth mass extinction. We demand that Green Diamond should return all the land within its holdings to the land’s Indigenous people.”

Media Contact

Cupcake, Treesitter/Redwood Forest Defense (502)298-8654
Lupine, Treesitter/Redwood Forest Defense (510)904-7352

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The Low Magic of Charles Bukowski

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Still from “You Never Had It: an Evening With Charles Bukowski.”

Among my favorite writers, Harvey Pekar and Charles Bukowski share an uncommon distinction. Despite having lowly jobs as a Cleveland veterans hospital file clerk and sorting mail in the post office, they received the highest accolades for their work. In a 1985 New York Times book review, David Rosenthal wrote that “Mr. Pekar’s work has been compared by literary critics to Chekhov’s and Dostoyevsky’s, and it is easy to see why.” As for Bukowski, Jean-Paul Sartre described him as “America’s greatest living poet today,” although his biographer Howard Sounes discounts that as a tale Bukowski circulated. As for me, I don’t need Sounes’s imprimatur to evaluate Bukowski’s literary merits. I regard him as one of our best writers of the past half-century, and the kind of writer that helped me keep me feeling less isolated in a mammon-worshiping nation. Writers who have held down regular jobs like Herman Melville on a whaling ship or Jack Kerouac as a railway brakeman are closer to our reality than those churned out on the Iowa Writer’s Workshop assembly line.

Charles Bukowski died in 1994, not from cirrhosis of the liver but leukemia. Well-known for his alcoholism, it surprised me that he made it to the age of 73. As was also the case with Pekar, it was like losing a friend. As I read all of Pekar’s comic books, I always made time to read a new Bukowski novel. Since both writers mined their workaday lives, disappointments, and loneliness for deeply affecting literature, you felt as close to them as if they were good friends. Moreover, once they became celebrities, you appreciated how ambivalent they were about such glory. Pekar refused to make any more appearances on the David Letterman show, even if it meant cutting into comic book sales.

By 1981, Charles Bukowski had “made it.” His books were selling in the millions, and young people everywhere went to his standing-room-only poetry readings. That was the year he allowed Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and her film crew into his San Pedro home for an interview that lasted over six hours. By the time it ended, they had downed many bottles of wine. On August 7th, a 52-minute documentary culled from this event will be shown as Virtual Cinema under the auspices of Kino Marquee  and Slamdance. While shorter than most feature films, “You Never Had It: An Evening With Bukowski” is essential viewing for anybody who has read and appreciated the poet laureate of flophouses, racetracks, and dive bars. And even if you haven’t, it is a fascinating discussion of the kind of choices every writer makes.

Like Pekar, Bukowski was uncomfortable being in the limelight. That was just one of the revelations found in this documentary that, despite being little more than a home video, is critically important for understanding the craft of writing fiction. Very few authors are as open about their convictions and doubts as Charles Bukowski. Even fewer are as witty and insightful, especially after the consumption of what looked like gallons of wine.

The interview is an exercise in demythologizing Charles Bukowski as orchestrated by the writer himself. Silvia Bizio, obviously a fan, keeps trying to lionize him while he rebuffs her efforts. She brings up the Sartre quote, and he shrugs his shoulders, saying who knows if he said it or not.

When she raises the question of why sex plays such an essential role in his writing, he downplays it in the most disarming manner. He was in the habit of browsing the newsstands to see what kind of articles the magazines featured. Making ready to quit the post office and devote himself to writing full-time, he noticed that the number one topic was sex. So, if sex sold, he’d have to make sure to have a sex scene in all his novels and short stories. His primary interest, however, was in showing the daily grind of the average working stiff. The sex was just the sugar-coating.

Bizio asked how he felt about his fame. He stated that popularity was not what he sought. Instead, he felt vindicated by hatred. When you are telling unpopular truths, a measure of your success is getting under peoples’ skin. It is best to be a hundred years ahead of your time and shunned by polite society.

Most of all, Bukowski was anxious to dispel the idea that he was a sexual gymnast. Sitting next to his wife Linda, who laughed at many of his outrageous comments, he said that he was only good for ten seconds. She interjected that it was more like three or four. The sex was just something they got out of the way before taking in the Johnny Carson show. By 1981, Bukowski was sixty-one so it was likely that he was only being honest. But you can never tell with him. His main point through this fascinating interview is that the Charles Bukowski of fiction, known as Henry Chinaski, was an exaggeration of the real man.

When the topic of his influences came up, he cited three familiar writers: Celine, Dostoevsky, and D.H. Lawrence. However, soaring above them in importance was John Fante, a writer’s writer. Fante, who lived a down-and-out existence in Los Angeles during the Depression, showed him how to transform a meager life into heroic tales, just as Harvey Pekar described making it through the day as a low-paid flunky in Cleveland.

Fante’s novels were autobiographical with an avatar named Arturo Bandini, Henry Chinaski’s counterpart. For both authors, the author and the anti-hero were identical. Even when there are exaggerations for literary effect like how many bottles of wine they consumed or women they slept with, both men sought to explore their respective souls with brutal honesty.

After decades of working shitty jobs just like Bukowski’s, Fante went blind and lost both legs from diabetes. Bukowski then persuaded Black Sparrow Press to republish all of Fante’s major novels. That’s the Bukowski we pay homage to, not the mean drunk of both fact and fiction.

I learned about Bukowski in the mid-seventies, not long after Black Sparrow published his first novel “Post Office.” My best friend and fellow Trotskyist Nelson Blackstock turned me on to him. Like me, Nelson came to politics after going through a hipster phase in the early 60s. Technically speaking, both of us were not boomers, having been born before WWII ended. Feeling stifled by the 1950s, we were anxious to hook up with anybody marching to the tune of a different drummer.

As a young man, Bukowski was a rebel but not quite a bohemian. Suffering from an extreme case of acne that left a not too pretty face all the more disfigured, he had to put up with taunts in high school. Showing disdain for his classmates, he began making the case for Adolph Hitler just to piss them off. I know this act. Back in 1960, I liked to annoy classmates by saying that I was for Nixon. He wasn’t serious, of course. Things were even worse at home. His father was an authoritarian who used to beat him with a leather strop for the slightest infraction, like missing a few blades of grass when mowing the lawn. All this suffering turned him into a writer since it was the only way to cope with an impossible situation in the same way as a talking cure can help with depression.

If you have Kindle, you can download “Post Office” for free on Amazon. This book had the same impact as “On the Road” had when I was fourteen. Much of it deals with the grind of working for the post office that led some men to “go postal”. For Bukowski, it had the effect of incubating great literature.

The route started at the station. The first of 12 swings. I stepped into a sheet of water and worked my way downhill. It was the poor part of town —small houses and Courts with mailboxes full of spiders, mailboxes hanging by one nail, old women inside rolling cigarettes and chewing tobacco and humming to their canaries and watching you, an idiot lost in the rain.

When your shorts get wet they slip down, down down they slip, down around the cheeks of your ass, a wet rim of a thing held up by the crotch of your pants. The rain ran the ink on some of the letters; a cigarette wouldn’t stay lit. You had to keep reaching into the pouch for magazines. It was the first swing and I was already tired. My shoes were caked with mud and felt like boots. Every now and then I’d hit a slippery spot and almost go down.

“Post Office” contains all the tropes that kept reappearing in all his novels: drinking bouts, weekends at the race track, fights with women, and trying to write despite all the odds against him. In a poem titled “So You Want to Be a Writer”, he lets you know what to expect:

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.

Given his misanthropic streak and his high-school stunt of praising Hitler, you might think that Bukowski would be a right-winger like Kerouac. Over the past year or so, I’ve developed an appreciation for his poetry. His poems reveal another side of this complex writer, especially this one:

Having The Flu And With Nothing Else To Do

I read a book about John Dos Passos and according to
the book once radical-communist
John ended up in the Hollywood Hills living off investments
and reading the
Wall Street Journal
this seems to happen all too often.
what hardly ever happens is
a man going from being a young conservative to becoming an
old wild-ass radical
however:
young conservatives always seem to become old
conservatives.
it’s a kind of lifelong mental vapor-lock.
but when a young radical ends up an
old radical
the critics
and the conservatives
treat him as if he escaped from a mental
institution.
such is our politics and you can have it
all.
keep it.
sail it up your
ass.

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Rural America Deserves a Real COVID-19 Response

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As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, many rural communities are in a uniquely difficult position.

According to Kaiser Health News, nearly 80 percent of rural America is categorized as a “medical desert,” meaning the nearest hospital is more than 60 minutes away. These hospitals are also much harder pressed to come up with ventilators and personal protective equipment for practitioners — and not to mention COVID-19 tests, which are in short supply everywhere.

Health care in rural America was in crisis well before the outbreak, with higher uninsurance rates in the countryside limiting access to care and financially undermining health facilities. Despite legislation giving financial relief to some hospitals, over 350 rural hospitals remain at high risk of closing.

Rural communities are at risk of severe outbreaks for other reasons as well.

For one, many rural communities lack reliable broadband connections. With so much COVID-19 information being transmitted via the internet, some rural residents may miss out on key updates.

Rural residents are also typically older, putting them at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. And they disproportionately lack access to healthy food and other necessities, which have become only more scarce in the pandemic.

Given the various risk factors associated with rural communities, a coronavirus outbreak in rural communities would be catastrophic. However, some government officials have not shown urgency.

For one, despite warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a potential “second wave” of COVID-19infections, some governments are easing social distancing mandates. For example, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is allowing non-essential businesses to reopen.

Meanwhile, the federal response to COVID-19 has utterly failed. In addition to failing to expand severely limited U.S. testing supplies, the White House has not kept its promises to provide more protective equipment or control misinformation.

Indeed, it’s been issuing a steady stream of its own misinformation, prompting warnings from health officials that no, you should not inject bleach to treat coronavirus. A direct consequence of Trump’s carelessness has been a steady increase of emergency room visits and poison control calls for bleach ingestion.

Rural communities cannot afford to be neglected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments at all levels must coordinate their efforts to educate, protect, and care for rural residents during this uncertain time.

In addition to continuing and strengthening local social distancing orders, local governments must continue making resources — like food, shelter, and medical supplies — accessible and free. Accurate information on COVID-19 must also be made accessible, especially for rural residents without an internet connection.

In addition to government help for rural hospitals, temporary and affordable clinics should be created in high-risk areas with limited hospitals. Nationally, testing and protective equipment such as masks and gloves should be readily available regardless of one’s location.

The response to COVD-19 will be a true test in capability, resilience, and crisis-planning for all those in positions of power. The neglect of rural communities during this pandemic is yet another way this nation’s COVID-19 response continues to fail.

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Crossing the Creepy Line: Google, Deception and the ACCC

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Belief in Google’s promises is much like believing in virgin births. For a company so proud of its pursuit of a transparent information environment, it has remained committedly opaque about informing customers on the way it gathers user data. Statements from the company over the years have not been reassuring, and should foster prolonged scepticism and dread. “Google policy,” former Google executive Eric Schmidt explained with flesh-crawling discomfort in 2010, “is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” Don’t bother typing at all, he claimed. “We now where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” Always a charmer.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is yet another regulatory body that has thrown itself into the fray, taking its second case against Google in the Australian Federal Court. Central to this action is the claim that will come as little surprise to watchers of the Silicon Valley scene: the instance of “deception by design”.

In the words of ACCC chairman Rod Sims, Google need merely have said “if you agree to this, we’re going to combine the personally identifiable information we have on your Google account with your browsing activity on non-Google sites, if you agree. If you agree, here’s the benefits and here are the issues, but make it really clear.”

According to the ACCC media release, Google “misled consumers when it failed to properly inform consumers, and did not gain their explicit informed consent, about its move in 2016 to start combining personal information in consumers’ Google accounts with information about those individuals’ activities on non-Google sites that used Google technology, formerly DoubleClick technology, to display ads.”

Prior to June 28, 2016, Google’s privacy policy noted that it would “not combine DoubleClick cookie information with personally identifiable information unless we have your opt-in consent”. On June 28, 2016, that statement was erased and confined to the digital dustbin, replaced with something far more equivocal: “[d]epending on your account settings, your activity on other sites and apps may be associated with your personal information in order to improve Google’s services and the ads delivered by Google.” The “I agree” notification the company posted that day was said to be misleading as consumers “could not have properly understood the changes Google was making nor how their data would be used”. That discrepancy in impaired any prospect of giving informed consent.

Instead of clarifying matters, as Sims puts it, Google indulged in using adtech in a rather sneaky way, thereby connecting the activity of the user with third party sites. “Google significantly increased the scope of information it collected about consumers on a personally identifiable basis. This included potentially very sensitive and private information about their activities on third party websites.” Once done, the information enabled the forensic targeting of advertisements without the expressed informed consent of consumers. “The use of this new combined information allowed Google to increase significantly the value of its advertising products, from which it generated much higher profits.”

Google’s response has been tyrannically snooty. The change in the company’s policies on June 28, 2016 was made clear to users by means of “prominent and easy-to-understand notifications”. (Condescension is second nature in such pronouncements.) Users who did not consent to the update were left with “their experience of our products and services”, according to a Google spokesman, “unchanged”. Typically, Google generates the idea of the mythical, all-knowing user, aware of preferences, informed of choices, and fully appraised of the environment they inhabit. It is a fiction that has lost much ballast over the years. The consumer is as an oblivious as a date consuming a spiked drink.

The ACCC should be congratulated for its persistence, though it remains short on returns. In October 2019, it commenced its first, and to date unresolved action, against the company, chastising it for misleading consumers in making on-screen representations about how they collected and used local data during 2017 and 2018. The central problem in Google’s alleged conduct was how the site continued to collect and use personal data, irrespective of consumers’ wishes. As Sims explained at the time, “We are taking court action against Google because we allege that as a result of these on-screen representations Google has collected, kept and used highly sensitive and valuable personal information about consumers’ location without them making an informed choice.” Cockily, he also called the venture “a world-first case”.

The concise statement filed last year alleges that Google “represented to users of the Android Operating System that it would not obtain data about their location, or that where such data was obtained it would only be used for the user’s own purposes. However, Google did obtain and retain such data and used that data for Google’s purposes.” Misleading or deceptive conduct and false or misleading representations were thereby made on the Location History function.

The confidence of the ACCC seems misplaced, bringing meek conventional weapons to a thermonuclear party. Google has the deepest pockets to draw upon, and is happy to duck and weave through the legal processes of most countries to adapt. Even if fined, its transgressions will continue.

The first federal court case is still dawdling away. Justice Thomas Thawley, wishing to speed things up, vacated two case management hearings scheduled later in the year. By August 3, he has ordered the ACCC and Google to file a statement of agreed facts, and a final document on issues with which the parties are in dispute by August 7. The proceeding will also be referred to mediation commencing on November 2, 2020. The indiscriminate information gathering colossus that is Google will hardly be shaking.

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Giants and Warriors Give Their Workers the Boot

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Photo: Marc Norton.

I got the email firing me from my job at the Giants ballpark on Monday evening, July 27. On Tuesday evening I learned from the San Francisco Examiner website that I was also being fired from my job at the Warriors new stadium, and that there were 2,154 other food service workers being shown the door at these two sports venues. That was a pretty cold way to get the news.

Stadium workers are overwhelmingly people of color. San Francisco stadium workers in particular have a large contingent of Black workers, in part because the Giants and 49ers old Candlestick Park stadium was located in Bayview-Hunters Point. Both the Giants and the Warriors have been bragging about supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, but are now kicking their Black, Latino, and Asian workers to the curb.

Since 2013, I have sold garlic fries and beer to untold numbers of fans. Back in the 1980s I cooked hot dogs for the vendors at Candlestick. Now it looks like my jobs at Oracle Park and Chase Center may be going the same way as Candlestick.

I grew up in Los Angeles, where I was a fan of the Dodgers, Jackie Robinson’s old team. But I have lived in the greater San Francisco Bay Area since I was 17, for more than five decades, and now I am a Giants fan. And a Warriors fan. It’s just that they don’t seem to be a fan of me anymore.

None of us at the Giants ballpark or the Warriors stadium have been working since March, when San Francisco shut down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. But we had been assured that this was just temporary, until things got better. “This will not result in the termination of any individual’s employment with the Company.” That’s what the company wrote in March.

But now it’s July, and they have changed their minds. According to their email, “We have to eliminate a number of positions [2,154 to be exact], including yours.”

It’s not as if the Giants or the Warriors are in some kind of dire financial straits. Each team is worth multiple billions of dollars.

As a recent article in The Nation said, the teams we work for “are among the most profitable corporations in the country, and… the owners who control those companies are among the wealthiest individuals in the nation.” Major league baseball teams alone “are worth over $55 billion. The 30 principal owners of these teams are worth $78 billion.”

Larry Baer, the Giants CEO, said in an April 1 statement that stadium workers are “the people that work hard, work diligently and serve our fans, which is the lifeblood of our sport and our business.” Perhaps, in the light of our firing, this was meant to be an April Fool’s joke. As others have pointed out, MLB (Major League Baseball) is BLM spelled backwards. Unlike many stadium workers, I don’t think many of our sports team owners worry about being stopped by the cops on their way home from work.

We should be thankful for small favors. When we were furloughed in March, the Warriors gave us each a check for $1,000, and the Giants ponied up $500. What we didn’t know at the time was that this was our severance pay.

I need to clear up one little legal detail. We don’t work directly for the Giants or the Warriors. We work for their food-service contractor, a big-time corporation called Bon Appetit. Does that name make you hungry for more? Bon Appetit is part of an even bigger corporate giant called Compass.

Bon Appetit is the food service contractor at both the Giants and Warriors stadiums. That way the Giants and the Warriors can claim to be somehow uninvolved in all of this, while their hatchet men do the dirty work. But does anyone really think the Giants and the Warriors don’t know what Bon Appetit is doing and aren’t consulted in little moves like firing 2,000-plus people?

Bon Appetit is trying to soften the blow by promising that we have recall rights, perhaps with seniority, for 12 months at the Giants ballpark, and 24 months at the Warriors stadium. The Giants bit is in our expired UNITE HERE Local 2 contract, so thank you very much. I haven’t seen anything in writing yet about my expired Warriors stadium job. I am pretty sure we will all be hearing a lot more from Local 2.

Curiously, I got the “see you later, alligator” email on the very same day that I got my last $600-per-week pandemic unemployment payment. That $600 is bye-bye now, courtesy of the Republicans in the Senate. That was a double whammy day. What timing.

Bon Appetit told the San Francisco Chronicle that “We look forward to a time when venues reopen and hope to rehire manyof our former employees as service levels return to normal.” You know the old story about how good it feels to stop hitting yourself in the head with a hammer? I guess we got fired so our bosses could “look forward to a time” when they can rehire “many” of us.

Marc Norton has worked in the food service and hospitality industry his entire life and was last fired from his job as a bellman at a small downtown hotel after Wells Fargo Bank took over the hotel and launched a not-quite-successful union-busting campaign. His website is MarcNortonOnline.wordpress.com.

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Time for an Emergency Charity Stimulus

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We are living through a time of unprecedented challenges: a major public health crisis and a deepening recession.

Congress has already authorized trillions in stimulus funds. But millions of Americans are still relying on the support of local nonprofits such as food banks and human services. These nonprofits are going to need major infusions of support from charitable donations and foundations.

Fortunately, Congress can help them come up with $200 billion — without costing taxpayers another dime.

We have heard many heartening stories of charitable foundations and individual donors stepping up to fund emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this moment has also unmasked a basic design flaw in the U.S. charity system: donors can contribute to charitable intermediaries that then may sideline the funds for years — or forever.

Right now, there’s an estimated $1.2 trillion in wealth warehoused in private foundations and donor-advised funds. While the donors to these funds have already taken substantial tax breaks for their contributions — sometimes decades ago — there are few incentives to move the money out to charities doing urgent, necessary work.

In fact, America’s 728,000 donor-advised funds, or DAFs — which hold an estimated $120 billion — aren’t legally required to pay out their funds at all, ever. While some DAFs, especially those administered by community foundations, pay out in a timely way, other accounts can languish for years.

America’s 86,000 foundations, which hold over $1 trillion in assets, are mandated by tax law to pay out 5 percent of their assets each year. But many treat that 5 percent as a ceiling, not a floor. And even that 5 percent can include overhead expenses and investments in profit-making companies, rather than direct support for nonprofits.

Remember: these donations are subsidized by ordinary taxpayers. For the wealthiest donors, every dollar parked in their foundation or DAF reduces their tax obligations by as much as 74 cents, leaving people of more modest means to cover public programs.

These wealthy donors have already claimed their tax breaks. Now — in a crisis — ordinary taxpayers need to see the benefit of the funds they subsidized flowing to charities on the ground.

Over 700 foundations have signed a pledge to “act with fierce urgency” to support nonprofit partners and communities hit hardest by COVID-19. And the community foundation sector has set up emergency response systems in all 50 states to channel donations to COVID-19 response efforts.

These are inspiring voluntary efforts. But in this unprecedented emergency, it’s time to mandate an increased flow of funds.

As part of the CARES Act stimulus, Congress increased incentives for charitable giving. In the same spirit, we urge Congress, as part of its next relief bill, to support an “Emergency Charity Stimulus” to inject more than $200 billion into the economy, protect jobs in the nonprofit sector, and help fight the coronavirus disaster.

For three years, Congress should require private foundations to double their annual required payout, from 5 percent to 10 percent. For each one percent increase in payout, an estimated $11 billion to $12.6 billion will flow to charities annually. The same standard should apply to donor advised funds as well.

America’s taxpayers have already effectively paid for these funds. Now we need them deployed to working charities.

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Celebration of Change

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Raving about Joe:

What if grandad showed up at a rave? You’d probably be smart to dip out of the nearest exit and find your kicks somewhere else that night. Or maybe you could just gyrate over to a dark corner and hope that all the dry ice, electro-lightning bolts and shock-and-awe subwoofers would dazzle and dumbfound your aged relative and he wouldn’t even notice you were there.

But your judgement—if you can call it that—is a touch clouded by that cocktail of chemicals and lies you’d slugged down before the night got going.

Grandad has his own set of prescriptions, too. He takes lots of pills every day—and night. Lately (and by that you mean for as long as you can remember—which is a lot longer than grandad can), he really hasn’t been looking too sharp, nor acting it either. Like last summer at the family Fourth of July clambake when he didn’t seem altogether there and called your cousin Jake “Mayor Pete” and later slapped you on the back and said there’s nothing a like a “corn feed in Iowa come Caucus time” —which seemed weird since you were at the family place in North Shores, Delaware at the time. There were thumb prints all over the lenses of his aviator sunglasses and ketchup on his white shirt whose buttons were in the wrong holes. His fly was undone. It turned out that he was the one who had stepped in the dogshit with really expensive leather shoes.

The thing is, the rave you’re at was totally lame even before gramps showed up. You’ve got nothing against old folks. There are tons of hall-of-fame hippies who could show the next four generations of partiers a thing or three about fun.

It’s true that your grandad was never one of those gonzo dudes, though he likes to talk about how in his younger days he partied a lot with a “good buddy” named Strom at some club called the Senate Cloakroom. Sometimes Grandpa did get a bit out of control at Christmas and would give your aunts long hugs from behind and smell their big hair.

But at the rave we’re talking about there were no shadows to hide in.

The lighting was terrible, bright and bleached. You could see way too much, basically everything . All the DJs and other “entertainers” and “celebs” were spread across a Zoom screen. The event was by RSVP and they wanted you to pay at least fifteen bucks. The thing opened not with mind-altering wham but a goofy cast singing a lame song from their own little squares like on that show the Brady Bunch you saw a meme of. Some guy topped by a bowler hat like Alex in A Clockwork Orange and wearing a purple-sequined tuxedo jacket (not like Alex) with a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt peeking out from the upper chest triangle was the ring leader. It looked like an After School Special jamboree with singers beamed in from their own playpens. They tried to make it cool and retro by having the squares moves around the screen. The dude with the bowler sang “Reason to rejoice is we know … we can help Joe”— Hey, that’s your grandad’s name, too! The white guy with the beard and all the rest of this rainbow-coalition Brady Bunch then chimed in with stuff about “abuse of power” and “finest hour” and “getting our country back on track by helping Joe go all the way.”

Usually at an EDM all-night bash you can’t hear the sound of your own voice, never mind that of the person thrashing next to you. But social-distancing was in effect and so you texted your friend with a “WTF?” That friend is into musicals (Broadway sucks, but you’re not judgmental) and said that these were new words to a song called “Got Magic To do” from a musical called Pippin from, like, the early 1970s. Come to think of it—even though you’re not doing much thinking—that’s when, as grandad won’t stop telling you, he started “serving” in the U. S. Senate.

You should have been long gone from this do, but then a white-haired doughy guy popped up. Your friend said this beardless Santa Claus used to host something called the Tonight Show. Funny, because Leno J or whatever his name is is so last night. Last Century. He kept telling “you kids” to spread the word on “social media” and “give money” by PayPal or whatever. You’re at the party and they won’t stop hitting you up as the tally of incoming cash tabulating on screen keeps getting bigger? Santa kept chortling in a sinister happy way about “change” — you guess he means to the past, as in time travel. It’s a “hundred days to the election” he says. Election? What election? You didn’t even know there was one.

Then John Legend—yeah, that John Legend—and some woman you don’t recognize start singing some opera by someone called Whitney Houston and getting all sentimental and sickly sweet that the “children are our future.” You didn’t realize kids could vote and had credit cards. If they did, Grandpa Joe would want higher interest rates for kiddy credit.

Your joy juice must have started to kick in cause then it really got weird: all these pretty normal people started saying how “Joe” was the greatest guy ever. They sang more shitty songs from a church where the rave should have been happening in the first place. Someone called Billie Jean King talked about “freedom.” I think she was a Senator, too, maybe from California, because she came to our clambake one time and had a really good backhand.

Then things got even weirder: the Joe they were talking about turned out actually to be your grandpa. Santa and some Four-Star General dude met him—your grandpa—at a little airport and started to race a couple of Corvettes. Like wow, dude, you actually worked on that car one summer for grandad! “I can flat shift this thing from second” gramps smack-talked the general. With the help of cranes that were obviously edited out of the video, Grandpa Joe and Santa got into the convertible and sped down the tarmac like with Powell in a new Corvette in “hot” pursuit. Electric guitars growled on the soundtrack. The only change they were heading for was an oil change—and maybe a prostate check. “The question is, can he drive?” bluffed grandad. Guess he passed his eye exam after all …

A guy in a leopard-skin shirt did a song “Ready to Run” tying things together with the senior citizens’ road race. The trio behind him wore black Covid masks and matching panties visible through between crotchless chaps. Fast cars and babes: now that’s the kind of Democratic Action we can all get behind, especially, Grandad.

The Rave raved on: Legend doused the crowd with more schmaltz liquor. Some white dude named Black gave a sermon on “Hope” which seems to be handcuffed “Change.”

An android engineered to look like Barbra Streisand (you know about her from Meme Land, too) mumbled through her facelifts some mumbo-j about “checks-and-balances” — which you guess meant the bigger the check the bigger the balance in the Biden “war chest.” An unbeardless guy named Dave Matthews pledged totally to support grandad, and started into some wispy song about “When the war is over …” which it never is.

You were stuck in a time loop: Legend again, again. The only change you could see was in the numbers: two hours in and nearly a million bucks counted. The war-is-over guy came back for an encore and then there was a video about grandad Amtracking back and forth from DC to Delware: four hours of travel “not just going home for his kids, but going to work for them.”

The Rave went on for two hours and twenty minutes but seemed the longest one you’ve ever been to.

And there are almost a hundred days still to go. But to what …

The post Celebration of Change appeared first on CounterPunch.org.

Why Did President Trump Place a New Tariff on Canadian Aluminum?

Mother Jones Magazine -

It’s been just over a month since President Trump signed a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, so guess what he did today? He turned right around and placed new tariffs on Canadian aluminum:

The White House said certain types of aluminum were surging into the U.S., depressing the U.S. industry. The administration justified the tariffs, which will be set at 10%, using a national security provision and argued that a depressed U.S. aluminum industry threatens U.S. national security.

“Earlier today I signed a proclamation that defends American industry by reimposing aluminum tariffs on Canada,” President Trump said during a speech at a Whirlpool factory in Clyde, Ohio. “Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual,” he said. “The aluminum business was being decimated by Canada, very unfair to our jobs and our great aluminum workers.”

I don’t know about “certain types” of aluminum, but it’s pretty easy to dig up total US imports of aluminum from Canada:

Maybe I’m missing something, but it doesn’t look like there’s been a surge in aluminum imports from Canada. Maybe there is if you do it by tonnes instead of dollars? Or if you look only at certain specialized types of aluminum products? Or something.

More likely, Trump still hasn’t gotten over being humiliated by Justin Trudeau at that G7 meeting a few years ago. That’s more his style.

Remembering Hiroshima

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Editor’s note: The following is an encore presentation of David R. Henderson’s column of July 31, 2006. Sometimes, something happens that is so awful that we find ourselves rationalizing it, talking as if it had to happen, to make ourselves feel better about the horrible event. For many people, I believe, President Truman’s dropping the … Continue reading "Remembering Hiroshima"

The post Remembering Hiroshima appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

With the US Rocked by a Pandemic, It’s Time to Leave Afghanistan

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Domestic issues have largely occupied people’s political bandwidth during the Trump era. Foreign policy used to be one of the most polarizing agenda items while George W. Bush and Barack Obama were in office. Ever since Donald Trump was elected in 2016, foreign policy has almost become an afterthought. But it still remains an important … Continue reading "With the US Rocked by a Pandemic, It’s Time to Leave Afghanistan"

The post With the US Rocked by a Pandemic, It’s Time to Leave Afghanistan appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

China and the United States Could Avoid an Unnecessary War

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Although few Americans seem to have noticed, China and the United States are currently on a collision course – one that could easily lead to war. Their dispute, which has reached the level of military confrontation, concerns control of the South China Sea. For many years, China has claimed sovereignty over 90 percent of this … Continue reading "China and the United States Could Avoid an Unnecessary War"

The post China and the United States Could Avoid an Unnecessary War appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

War and Pandemic Journalism

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Originally posted at TomDispatch. In the midst of the pandemic from hell, with a president who seems incapable of grasping the reality of, no less dealing with, the spreading virus, as deaths mount and cases cascade, in a land where a Covid-19 “second wave” in the fall isn’t conceivable because the first will never have … Continue reading "War and Pandemic Journalism"

The post War and Pandemic Journalism appeared first on Antiwar.com Original.

A School District in Georgia Says Requiring Masks Is Impractical. But It Already Enforces a Lengthy Dress Code.

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As students in some states are starting to trickle back into schools, those very institutes of learning have become the latest battleground for the Great Mask Debate. (I use the term “debate” loosely, and sarcastically.) On Thursday, the debate hit the pages of the New York Times, by way of a high school in the Atlanta suburbs. The Times recirculated several viral photos of mostly white teenagers crammed into the hallways of North Paulding High School, creating a modern Where’s Waldo, but for face coverings.

The school district’s superintendent told the Times that they encouraged students and staff to wear masks, but they wouldn’t require them.

“Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” the superintendent wrote to the Times.

Unfortunately for Paulding County School District students, there are a number of other clothing items that can be mandated. 

According to the district’s publicly available student handbook, skirts must be no more than “3 [inches] from the top of the kneecap as measured by a ruler or the length of a 3 x 5 index card” and shorts must be “5 [inches] from the top of kneecap as measured by a ruler or the width of a 3 x 5 index card.” Shirts must be free of “writing, pictures, or graphics that unreasonably attract the attention of other students or cause disruption.” And that’s just a sample of what is allowed; the list of prohibitions is even longer:

So the schools in Paulding County, Georgia, can ban hats, but not mandate masks. Iiiiiinteresting.

Some of the lower schools in the district have their own, even stricter dress codes. One of the middle schools in the district has a 28-slide powerpoint presentation about the dress code, with three full slides dedicated just to leggings. 

Another middle school in the district prohibits “pants that touch the ground… wide legged pants, skin-tight pants [and] form-fitting clothing,” as well as jewelry that is studded or pointy. 

But a mask requirement is just impractical. 

Why Did World War II End?

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A few years ago I wrote a post about new research into the cause of Japanese surrender in World War II. Today is the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, and I thought it might be interesting to repost it. Here it is.

There has long been a scholarly debate about whether it was necessary for the United States to use atomic weapons to bring World War II to an end. Traditionalists say yes: If not for Fat Man and Little Boy, Japan would have fought to the last man. But revisionists argue that by August of 1945: (a) Japan’s situation was catastrophically hopeless; (b) they knew it and were ready to surrender; and (c) thanks to decoded Japanese diplomatic messages, Harry Truman and other American leaders knew they were ready. A Japanese surrender could have been negotiated in fairly short order with or without the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

For various reasons I’ve always found the revisionist view unsatisfactory. After all, even after the Hiroshima bomb was dropped, we know there was still considerable debate within the Japanese war cabinet over their next step. Surely if Japan had already been close to unconditional surrender in early August—and for better or worse, unconditional surrender was an American requirement—the atomic demonstration of August 6 would have been more than enough to tip them over the edge. But it didn’t. It was only after the second bomb was dropped that Japan ultimately agreed to surrender.

But although the revisionist view has never persuaded me, a new revisionist view has been swirling around the academic community for several years—and this one seems much more interesting. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, a trilingual English/Russian/Japanese historian, reminds us that the actual timeline of Japanese surrender went like this:

August 6: Hiroshima bomb dropped.

August 8: Soviet Union declares war on Japan and invades Manchuria.

August 9: Nagasaki bomb dropped.

August 10: Emperor Hirohito breaks the cabinet deadlock and decides that Japan must surrender.

So what really caused the Japanese to finally give up? Was it America’s atomic bombs, or was it the Soviet Union’s entrance into the Pacific war? Hasegawa, based on meticulous research into primary sources, argues that it was probably the latter—though not quite in the way we usually think. Gareth Cook summarizes Hasegawa’s argument in the Boston Globe:

According to his close examination of the evidence, Japan was not poised to surrender before Hiroshima, as the revisionists argued, nor was it ready to give in immediately after the atomic bomb, as traditionalists have always seen it.…Americans, then and today, have tended to assume that Japan’s leaders were simply blinded by their own fanaticism, forcing a catastrophic showdown for no reason other than their refusal to acknowledge defeat.…But Hasegawa and other historians have shown that Japan’s leaders were in fact quite savvy, well aware of their difficult position, and holding out for strategic reasons.

Their concern was not so much whether to end the conflict, but how to end it while holding onto territory, avoiding war crimes trials, and preserving the imperial system. The Japanese could still inflict heavy casualties on any invader, and they hoped to convince the Soviet Union, still neutral in the Asian theater, to mediate a settlement with the Americans. Stalin, they calculated, might negotiate more favorable terms in exchange for territory in Asia. It was a long shot, but it made strategic sense.

On Aug. 6, the American bomber Enola Gay dropped its payload on Hiroshima.…As Hasegawa writes in his book “Racing the Enemy,” the Japanese leadership reacted with concern, but not panic.…Very late the next night, however, something happened that did change the plan. The Soviet Union declared war and launched a broad surprise attack on Japanese forces in Manchuria. In that instant, Japan’s strategy was ruined. Stalin would not be extracting concessions from the Americans. And the approaching Red Army brought new concerns: The military position was more dire, and it was hard to imagine occupying communists allowing Japan’s traditional imperial system to continue. Better to surrender to Washington than to Moscow.

In some sense, the real answer here is probably unknowable. Two events happened at nearly the same time, and they were closely followed by a third. Figuring out conclusively what caused what may simply not be possible. Probably they both played a role. Still, aside from the documentary evidence that Hasegawa amasses, his theory accounts for other aspects of the war. Like the dog that didn’t bark in the night, Japan didn’t give up after the fire bombing of Tokyo. Nor did Germany surrender after the fire bombing of Dresden. And although it’s undeniably true that atomic bombs are a more dramatic way of destroying a city than conventional weaponry, it’s also undeniably true that simply destroying a city was never enough to produce a surrender. So why would destroying a city with an atomic bomb be that much different?

This is fascinating stuff. At the same time, I think that Cook takes a step too far when he suggests that Hasegawa’s research, if true, should fundamentally change our view of atomic weapons. “If the atomic bomb alone could not compel the Japanese to submit,” he writes, “then perhaps the nuclear deterrent is not as strong as it seems.” But that hardly follows. America in 1945 had an air force capable of leveling cities with conventional weaponry. We still do—though barely—but no other country in the world comes close. With an atomic bomb and a delivery vehicle, North Korea can threaten to destroy Seoul. Without it, they can’t. And larger atomic states, like the US, India, Pakistan, and Russia, have the capacity to do more than just level a city or two. They can level entire countries.

So, no: Hasegawa’s research is fascinating for what it tells us about a key event in history. But should it change our view of atomic weaponry or atomic deterrence? I doubt it. It’s not 1945 anymore.

Health Update

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I’ve been sick all day with some kind of stomach bug. However, I should be fine by tomorrow, so join me here for the exciting July jobs report!

As Biden Mulls VP Pick, Pundits Vie for Most Substance-Free Forecast

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As presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s search for a running mate drags on, press coverage hasn’t failed to disappoint.

Useful coverage would lay out each potential pick’s background and qualifications. While you certainly can find that if you look hard enough, many journalists seem quite content to avoid content. The Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake (7/24/20) offered a nice helping of unedifying rankings in his “12 Most Logical Picks for Joe Biden’s Vice President, Ranked.” At number one, Blake put Kamala Harris:

Kamala Harris is the “most logical pick,” writes the Washington Post‘s Aaron Blake (7/24/20). His logic? “Nobody makes more sense than the senator from California right now.”

Another list, another list with Harris at No. 1. While others have been jockeying to climb up, nobody makes more sense than the senator from California right now, which has been the case for a while. About the best argument against her is that her 2020 presidential campaign wasn’t exactly a resounding success. But for a campaign showing a wide lead, she’s clearly the safest pick. And safe might be what the doctor orders.

Why does “nobody make more sense” than Harris? Why is she the “safest pick”? Perhaps Blake assumes you remember his three-line explanation from June, when he similarly offered rankings—or perhaps he doesn’t care. (For the record, she’s been the “favorite from the start” because of her “high-ranking résumé,” her “experience on the national stage” and the fact that “she has shown she is a capable messenger.”)

Over at CNN (7/30/20), Chris Cillizza has really been milking the drawn-out process, putting out new rankings so often (he’s currently at 16) you’d think he was running a gambling ring.

Much of the problem is that since the top contenders have already been fairly well-established for the last few weeks, most outlets don’t have much new ground to break. So what’s left? Mainly, politicians and operatives on all sides trying to create positive coverage of their team and negative coverage of their opponents—and journalists that seem happy to go along.

California representative and new short-list candidate Karen Bass took multiple trips to Cuba 40 years ago, and in 2016 called Fidel Castro’s death “a great loss to the people of Cuba.” Her opponents gleefully pushed out this “Cuba baggage” (AP, 8/6/20) to drum up a story about how this makes her dead in the water (because Florida!), and journalists happily complied. No matter that Cuban Americans make up only 6.5% of the population of Florida, and Cuba is for vanishingly few of them their primary motivating issue when voting.

As the response to Bernie Sanders’ positive comments about Cuba’s literacy program demonstrated (FAIR.org, 3/6/20), US political orthodoxy does not permit even hints at acknowledgment that longtime Official Enemies like Cuba might not be evil.  Bass’s supposed Communist sympathies were the subject of widespread coverage—and not only in outlets like Fox News—under headlines like “I’m Not a Communist” (NBCNews.com, 8/3/20) and “Karen Bass Eulogized Communist Party USA Leader” (Politico, 8/4/20); the Atlantic (7/31/20) saw fit to devote nearly 3,000 words to an investigation of Bass’s relationship with Cuba.

Sometimes it happens even as journalists appear to be at least somewhat aware of what’s going on. In a Washington Post piece headlined, “Biden’s Delay in Choosing a Running Mate Intensifies Jockeying Between Potential Picks,” Annie Linskey (8/2/20) describes how “Biden allies” worry that the process is “pitting women, especially Black women, against one another.”

The piece refers to “nastiness,” “backbiting” and “currents…many of them sexist, that have been swirling for weeks,” seeming to attribute these largely to “allies of the women”—but it’s not always entirely clear who is being blamed. It’s certainly not the media, though, which appears merely as the vehicle for the nastiness. (Such as: “One donor implied to CNBC that Harris has too much ‘ambition.’ And former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a longtime Biden friend, told CNN that Harris can ‘rub people the wrong way.’”)

At the same time, Linskey offered her own piece as a vehicle for some sexism. Quoting Rendell on the “buzz” around Susan Rice, Linskey ate up without comment a tired trope used repeatedly in the past on women:

Her demeanor on television fueled the speculation, he said. “She was smiling on TV, something that she doesn’t do all that readily,” Rendell said. “She was actually somewhat charming on TV, something that she has not seemed to care about in the past.”

The “Year of the Woman” has come and gone, and come and gone again (Extra!, 9/92, 4/13), and yet we keep talking—in 2020—about how female politicians need to smile more (FAIR.org, 6/14/99; Intercept, 9/26/16). Biden may be breaking the mold by only considering female running mates, but the media sure aren’t straying from tradition.

 

As Bolivian Regime Delays Elections a Third Time, Media Continue to Ignore Coup

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting -

 

Reports like the Washington Post‘s (11/10/19) failed to convey the reality that Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced out by the military.

In the Bolivian elections last October 20, incumbent President Evo Morales of the Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS in Spanish) won a 10-point victory over his nearest challenger, as pre-election polls predicted. The next day,  the Organization of American States issued a statement challenging the legitimacy of the elections, asserting a “hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results.” Immediately, right wingers violently took to the streets to protest the president. The OAS issued a followup statement confirming their analysis on November 10. The same day, the military forced Morales to step down.

Senator Jeanine Añez declared herself president with the support of high-ranking members of the Bolivian military, as well as the US State Department—despite the fact that her conservative party earned a mere 4% of the vote during the elections.

This military coup was immediately decried by observers who have seen this familiar pattern of toppling governments. Mark Weisbrot, director of the Center for Economic & Policy Research, debunked the OAS statement, noting that it provided “absolutely no evidence — no statistics, numbers, or facts of any kind,” to support its conclusions. The CEPR objections were largely ignored by corporate media (FAIR.org, 11/18/19).

Immediately after Añez took power, security forces unleashed deadly violence against those who resisted. Añez began to sell off public resources and take loans from international creditors.

When a country’s military forces the ouster of a sitting president, that is a military coup. Referring to it simply as a “resignation”—as in the Washington Post’s “Bolivia’s Morales Resigns Amid Scathing Election Report, Rising Protests” (11/10/19)—fails to capture the nature of the overthrow. Describing Morales’ ouster as merely happening “amid widespread unrest” is a way of telling readers: “This sort of thing happens all the time in this part of the world. No need to look into it.”

US media ignored dissenters from the OAS throughout this period, and endorsed the coup, as FAIR (3/5/20) has previously reported. Even when dissenting views were brought up, there was little discussion of the implication: that the US had supported yet another unlawful coup.

Both the New York Times (6/7/20) and Washington Post (2/27/20) have now run articles casting doubt on the OAS’s accusations of vote fraud.

Four months after the coup was a done deal, with Morales and others forced from the country, the Washington Post published a research piece (2/27/20) that found that “the OAS’s statistical analysis and conclusions would appear deeply flawed.” The piece opened by explicitly describing the November 10 ouster of Morales as a “military-backed coup.” There was still no mention of the US role.

Añez came into power as an “interim” president, with a mandate to hold elections as soon as possible. The government instead delayed elections in March, then again in May, both times citing concerns about coronavirus. Notably, polls show that the MAS candidate, Luis Arce, has been leading in the polls for some time and would win fair elections.

Even the New York Times (3/30/20)  acknowledged that this delay was a way of consolidating power, publishing a piece headlined, “For Autocrats, and Others, Coronavirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Power” that included the (first) delay of Bolivia’s “much anticipated” elections. It’s unclear whether Añez is meant to be considered an “autocrat” or one of the “others”; the piece only mentions that “a disputed election last year set off violent protests and forced President Evo Morales to resign.”

The New York Times (6/7/20) has since reported its own analysis of the Bolivian election results, concluding that “the Organization of American States’ statistical analysis was itself flawed.” The irregularities the OAS found were “an artifact of the analysts’ error,” the academic paper cited by the Times found.

FAIR (7/8/20) has previously reported on the Times’ belated admission. Glenn Greenwald,  writing for the Intercept (7/8/20), put a fine point on the subject in a piece headlined “The New York Times Admits Key Falsehoods That Drove Last Year’s Coup in Bolivia: Falsehoods Peddled by the US, Its Media and the Times.”

Yet after both of the nation’s leading papers admitted that the reason for declaring the October election a fraud was itself a fraud, few have asked the critical questions about why the OAS and the United States were so quick to have Morales removed from office. In fact, few media outlets altered their coverage of Bolivia at all.

Reuters (7/9/20) described how “a disputed election led to widespread protests that eventually toppled…Evo Morales,” with a later piece (7/15/20) reporting that Añez “took power in a political vacuum.” A CNN segment (7/17/20) on the COVID crisis in Bolivia described how “widespread unrest last year led to the resignation of longtime leader Evo Morales.” None of these gave any hint that the complaints about the election had been debunked, and that the shift in power amounted to a coup.

Last week, the Bolivian government announced that elections would be delayed for a third time. Critics again claim that the crisis is being used to further consolidate power. Former President Morales, who is currently living in exile in Argentina, said that “the de facto government wants to gain more time to continue the persecution of social leaders and against MAS candidates. It’s yet another form of persecution.” One of the coup leaders, far-right leader Fernando Comacho, is calling for elections to be canceled altogether.

AP‘s headline (7/23/20) takes the coup government’s rationale for delaying elections at face value.

In Western reporting on the latest election delay, outlets consistently failed to place it in the context of the coup. It is as if the Times and Post’s admissions never happened.

A Reuters piece  (7/23/20)  headlined “Bolivia Election Delayed to October as Pandemic Bites, Opposition Cries Foul,” described how the current government came to power: “A fraught election last year sparked widespread protests and led to the resignation of the country’s long-term leftist leader.” They kept to the official narrative of a “fraught election,” rather than the reality of a right-wing usurpation, given cover by false OAS proclamations. There was no indication that the delay could be a form of power consolidation.

The Associated Press (republished by Washington Post, 7/23/20) not only ignored the context of the coup, it also whitewashed the opposition’s criticism of the delay. Morales was cited as objecting to the delay on procedural grounds, and worrying about the “country’s crisis of legitimacy.” No direct quotes from the former president were used.

US media have a well-documented history of supporting right-wing coups and regimes around the world, and not much seems to be changing. It is abundantly clear that Morales was unlawfully overthrown by his country’s military on false pretexts. The United States supported and continues to support this coup. That media narratives remain unchanged even after the release and acknowledgment of new evidence indicates that it is official dogma, and not reality, that sets the tone of journalistic coverage.

Lunchtime Photo

Mother Jones Magazine -

This is the San Diego Freeway near Culver Drive in Irvine. Needless to say, it’s a long exposure taken at night.

February 29, 2020 — Irvine, California

The Last State With a Lifetime Voting Ban for People With Felony Records Just Reinstated Their Rights

Mother Jones Magazine -

The erosion of voting rights across the country is a chilling fact of our moment, exacerbated by the pandemic and a president whose administration is doing all it can to weaken ballot access and throw fair elections into question. But there’s good news out of Iowa: The governor signed an executive order yesterday reinstating the voting rights of almost everyone who’d completed a felony sentence.

Iowa, the last state with a lifetime voting ban of this kind, joins the rest of the country, an overdue moment but cause for celebration. The executive order is “at best a temporary solution,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said, and “something that is fundamentally right should not be based on benevolence of a single elected official.” The order follows public pressure from advocates and Des Moines Black Lives Matter activists, and it’s a “tribute to the legacy of Congressman [John] Lewis,” said Democratic state Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, one of the state’s few Black lawmakers.

If you vote in Iowa, do you think this will fundamentally change any upcoming elections in your state? Share your thoughts at recharge@motherjones.com.

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