CDC contradicts previous police reports, says missing Ebola and Zika virus expert had recently received promotion
CDC contradicts previous police reports, says missing Ebola and Zika virus expert had recently received promotion | 14 March 2018 | An Atlanta-area Centers for Disease Control and Prevention employee who disappeared over a month ago did receive a promotion, the agency said, seemingly contradicting previous reports from police. In a statement Monday, the CDC said Timothy Cunningham, who hasn't been seen since Feb. 12, had been promoted last July..."In fact, he received an early promotion/exceptional proficiency promotion to Commander effective July 1, 2017, in recognition of his exemplary performance in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS)," the statement continues. Atlanta police previously said Cunningham, 35, a commander in the Public Health Service who has been sent to respond to public health emergencies including the Ebola virus and the Zika virus, was told on Feb. 5 that he didn't get a promotion he was up for. A police spokesman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday that they stand by their previous statements.
Three Children in Pakistan Die After Getting Measles Vaccine | 16 March 2018 | Three children in Pakistan became critically ill and died a day after they were vaccinated with the measles vaccine in the city of Nawabshah. One the children died at home and the other two children died at the People's University Medical Hospital (PUMH) in Nawabshah. At least seven other Pakistani children who received the same vaccinations were reported to be in critical condition...The parents of the three dead children have reportedly said that a female health worker visited their homes in the Saeedabad area of Nawabshah on March 3 and administered the measles vaccines against their will.
Judge enters not guilty plea for Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz |14 March 2018 | A judge entered a plea of not guilty on Nikolas Cruz's behalf as the teen was arraigned Wednesday in last month's massacre at a South Florida high school -- on the same day students across the country walked out of class to demand stricter gun laws because of the killings. A Broward County grand jury last week indicted the 19-year-old gunman on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. Wednesday's plea in a Fort Lauderdale court came after Cruz's defense attorney told the judge that the teen was standing mute to the charges -- meaning he was declining to enter a plea.
US training Syria militants for false flag chemical attack as basis for airstrikes - Russian MoD | 17 March 2018 | Russia's Defense Ministry says "US instructors" are training militants to stage false flag chemical attacks in south Syria. The incidents are said to be a pretext for airstrikes on Syrian government troops and infrastructure. "We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria," Russian General Staff spokesman General Sergey Rudskoy said at a news briefing on Saturday.
China to bar people with bad 'social credit' from planes, trains | 16 March 2018 | China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year. People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.
MPs retweet claim that Porton Down scientists can't identify nerve agent as Russian | 17 March 2018 | Several MPs have retweeted claims that scientists at the British lab investigating the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter are actually struggling to identify the source of the nerve agent used. Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan turned blogger, wrote on his website that scientists at Porton Down, the center responsible for identifying the nerve agent allegedly used in the attack against the Skripals, have failed to find evidence of Russian "culpability." He said a "well-placed" source in the Foreign Office told him. Murray added scientists had been "resentful" over the pressure put on them to prove the military-grade nerve agent is of Russian manufacture.
Ah, then came the dawn: Porton Down laboratory to get 48m pound boost after Skripal attack --Defence science and technology institution was at centre of 'investigation' and clean-up | 14 March 2018 | UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson will on Thursday pledge an additional 48m pounds for Britain's defence science and technology laboratory at Porton Down, in the wake of the poisoning of a former Russian [and MI6] spy with a weapons grade nerve agent. The laboratory was instrumental in identifying Russia [Really? See: MPs retweet claim that Porton Down scientists can't identify nerve agent as Russian] as the source of the nerve agent used to target Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia 10 days ago in Salisbury. The pair remain in a critical condition in hospital. Scientists from Porton Down have also been at the centre of the clean-up operation in Salisbury following the attack, which has prompted one of the biggest crises in UK-Russian relations since the end of the cold war.
Framing Putin - Saga of the Spy and the Nerve Agent | 15 March 2018 | ...Who's Got CW? Russia got rid of all its chemical weapons under the supervision of OPCW. On the other hand, the US hasn't destroyed all its chemical weapons yet and there are still two CW sites in the US! The US government claims it will destroy them within the next five years. Ha ha...Samples Everywhere: The fact is that many labs around the world have samples of that deadly agent. It so happens that there is a UK military chemical lab in Porton Down, just a few miles from where the alleged incident took place. Each lab has a signature attached to it. If the UK wanted to be credible, it would release the samples to third parties -- Russia and OPCW -- so they can analyze it and see where it came from. But the UK refuses to do so. Guess Who Lives in the US? The "father" of Novichok defected to the US a long time ago and lives in the US now. He brags about it openly on his Facebook page. His name is Vil Mirzayanov.
Third court rules Tepco, government liable over Fukushima disaster - media | 15 March 2018 | Kyoto district court on Thursday ruled that Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) and the Japanese government were liable for damages arising from the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, the Asahi newspaper said. The ruling is the third court decision assigning liability to both Tepco and the government for the disaster that led to the evacuation of around 160,000 people.
Russian Embassy in US Slams State Department Over Meddling in Domestic Election | 17 March 2018 | The Russian Embassy in Washington accused the US State Department of interfering in Russian home affairs over claims that the upcoming presidential voting would not be transparent. "[State Dept] is showing another example of interference in our internal affairs. Now with fake news. Bad attempt to damage Russian democracy. Will not work. Full transparency of Presidential elections guaranteed," the Embassy tweeted in response.
Officials say engineer reported cracks in Florida bridge before collapse | 16 March 2018 | Florida's Department of Transportation says an engineer left a voicemail two days before a catastrophic bridge failure to say some cracking had been found at one of the concrete spans. However, the agency says the voicemail left on a landline wasn't heard by a state DOT employee until Friday because the employee was out of the office on an assignment.
The myth that laziness is the direct cause of homelessness is not only insulting, but it also perpetuates people's ignorance of the real problems associated with being homeless, and further isolates people who find themselves in that situation. Outsiders are much less likely to be kind or even empathize with homeless people when they can just "blame the victim" without knowing their story.
The fact is, a lack of work motivation is rarely the cause of homelessness. The true culprits: Unforeseeable life circumstances, mental illness and trauma.
There are many misconceptions about homelessness. For starters, there is no such thing as "a homeless person," as this implies that someone is permanently homeless, and equates their status with the person's being. In fact, homeless doesn't refer to a type of person but, rather, to an unfortunate and usually unpredictable event in some people's lives.
Homelessness is also deeply individualistic. For example, women who face the challenges of homelessness have to deal with additional factors when they find themselves without a place to live. Here are some of those specific causes, challenges and ways to help women who face homelessness.Trauma and Domestic Abuse
Studies have found that in cases of homelessness for women and children, 80 percent of them involved past domestic violence. In such situations, a woman might not have any other option than to leave everything behind for her safety. This often results in the financial burden of finding a new place to live. If she didn't have a steady income before, and if she doesn't have family to stay with, she can end up living on the street.
In fact, in an article by Healthline about homelessness and trauma, Dr. Barry Zevin says the following about how trauma affects the majority, if not all, homeless people:
"Violence and victimization are a daily reality to most homeless people I see. If I had to say one unifying theme of practically everyone I see it's this idea of having been traumatized, whether that was in childhood at the hands of parents, whether that was in adolescence, or sexual trauma, whether that's in the streets. It's just practically universal."
Viewed in that way, trauma plays perhaps one of the most impacting roles as a driving force for homelessness.Understanding Medical Needs
On the surface, homelessness may seem to revolve mostly around having a safe place to sleep and a next meal to eat. While that might be true, many other underlying problems come with being homeless, and often they have to do with medical care. When people are homeless, they become part of the medically underserved population, meaning that they struggle to receive health care.
According to Bradley University, the problem is particularly severe in medically underserved areas. The university reports that this is especially evident in five states and the District of Columbia, and "even though they are primarily rural and southern, the inclusion of the nation's capital on the list signifies the prevalence of underserved populations in urban centers, as well."
For women in particular, common struggles also include getting the necessary supplies to deal with menstrual cycles, like tampons, sanitary pads and access to showers. Tampons and pads are expensive and although they are basic needs, food and shelter usually take priority.
Women who are homeless also struggle with healthcare if they are pregnant. Whether they can't afford the prenatal care, or they can't get to a clinic that offers free prenatal care for those who can't afford it, the lack of access can pose a risk to both mother and child.Community Solutions to Homelessness
While homelessness affects individuals, more and more it is communities that feel responsible for them. Studies have shown that providing housing for the homeless is three times cheaper than keeping them on the streets. Additionally, Duquesne University reports that the following factors can help reduce risks to vulnerable homeless populations:
Improve social determinants to promote healthy living
Use a global budgeting national healthcare system
Provide access to virtual healthcare
Match hospitalization needs to surrounding communities
Support community-appropriate healthcare access
Additionally, you can take steps in your own community to help homeless individuals. Besides volunteering and donating, you can get an app that issues a call to volunteers to help the homeless with mental health training. The app, called Concrn, connects community volunteers with mental health training so they can respond to escalating situations with homeless people. This allows people to feel more connected to their community, especially the homeless population, while helping people avoid unnecessary conflicts with police.
If you are looking to help homeless members in your community, first consider their situation and their needs. Remember that women have specific needs that men don't have. If you are donating items, remember to include tampons, pads and wipes. Consider offering women rides to healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood, which can offer them affordable solutions. And if you're looking to help an individual in particular, don't hesitate to ask them what their needs are so that you can best help them.
This article was published by TalkPoverty.org.
My abuser's father was the one who delivered the court's petition to my slummy apartment. Because I had a protection order in place, my abuser couldn't do it himself. I was in the bathroom, getting ready for bed -- I had an interview the next day for a job as a paid fundraiser for a local arts program -- so my husband accepted the paperwork in my stead. It was a request for genetic testing to establish paternity of the child my abuser had forced me to birth when I was 19 years old.
The first day I stood in the courtroom, all I had was my story. I prepared to tell the judge that I had been groomed by the man seven years my senior since I was 14; that I had been kidnapped, drugged, beaten, bitten, strangled, and raped. I prepared to tell her that the last time we were alone together, the petitioner strangled me while I was holding my infant son until I had a seizure and dropped my baby. I prepared to tell the judge that my son was now an eight-year-old boy who still wore diapers and could not speak, while I was in recovery from a heroin addiction that had, for many years, been my only means of coping with the PTSD.
My abuser came to court equipped with an attorney. His lawyer was a tall man with an olive complexion and an easy self-confidence that he showcased by strolling through the courtroom, addressing the clerks by name and punctuating their interactions with a rolling belly laugh. My abuser's attorney had all the papers in order. I, attorneyless, did not.
When the judge entered she told me I needed a lawyer, and offered me a continuance I didn't know I could request. I took it, thinking it would give me a little more time before my son would officially belong to the man who had terrorized me when I was little more than a child myself. I knew the continuance would ultimately make no difference; there was no attorney I could afford.
This type of legal divide is not uncommon. According to the American Psychological Association, abusive fathers file for sole custody more often than fathers who have no history of domestic violence. Since 99 percent of domestic violence victims also face some form of financial abuse, abusers tend to have more money and thus more access to legal resources than the women fleeing their abuse. That gives them an advantage in the courts that makes them just as likely, or even more likely, to gain custody.
These prolonged legal battles can turn into an abuse of their own. Court-related abuse -- sometimes called litigation abuse -- is a widely under-recognized phenomenon in which a perpetrator of intimate partner violence will use family law court as a means of maintaining contact with their victims, even when legal protections would otherwise forbid it. Women and their children who have endured horrific abuses, including sexual molestation and rape, can be forced to interact repeatedly with their assailants in the courtroom upon escaping the relationships.
My abuser discovered his judicial advantage in 2016. I had a five-year protective order against him, a length of time I was told is rarely granted except in cases of extreme violence. But even that did not stop my abuser from dragging me to court.
Unlike many women, I got lucky. I won a lottery for a pro bono attorney through a program offered by my county that mentors licensed lawyers hoping to switch from their previous specialty to family law. These lawyers are only available -- in limited quantity -- to domestic violence survivors involved in custody cases where a child faces significant danger should the outcome favor the opponent. My attorney's previous specialty was personal injury law. My abuser's attorney had been practicing family law for decades. He filed claim after claim trying to dispute my testimonies, forcing me to recount abuses I hadn't even yet addressed in therapy, and painting me as the negligent junkie who abandoned my son and couldn't even keep a home clean.
When the case was over, I asked my attorney if she still planned to pursue family law. She said no.
After a year of litigation that included a comprehensive assessment by a child's advocate, threats of Child Protective Services involvement, numerous courtroom proceedings that placed me side-by-side with my abuser, and an attempt at mediation, my abuser got bored and gave up his parental rights. Or maybe his new girlfriend became angry that he was giving me so much attention. Or maybe he litigated himself out of money, though that's extremely rare in these types of cases. I don't know. What I do know is that my son's biological father now gets to put his name on the birth certificate. I know that I still have a domestic violence protection order, but it no longer covers my now-10 year old son, who is nonverbal and cannot call for help or tell anyone if he is harmed.
During the proceedings, I lost my job as a fundraiser. I began hallucinating the face of my abuser over the faces of men who resembled him, which made me afraid to leave my home. I had to start taking medication for trauma nightmares that made me dizzy if I stood up too quickly in the morning. I also relapsed on heroin, briefly, and take medication now for that too. Before the case began, my PTSD centered on events in the past. Now I have to be scared of the future: of the possibility that my abuser will come after my son and me again.
Litigation gave him freedom to pick at the most private things about me. I had to defend the reasons why my son didn't live with me. I had to defend how and why I have PTSD. I had to reveal my addiction and treatment history, and then defend that too. On the other hand, I learned very little about my abuser. What I did learn was that he has a new girlfriend. She is not yet fully fluent in English, which fits his pattern of bouncing between underage girls and women who are new to the country and language. I learned that he lives with his girlfriend on a small piece of land outside of the city. I heard they raise chickens, and that on some weekends his girlfriend's daughter -- a young girl who has begun experimenting with hair dye -- stays overnight.
Editor's note: To protect the privacy of certain individuals, identifying details have been changed.Ready to make a difference? Help Truthout provide a platform for exposing injustice and inspiring action. Click here to make a one-time or monthly donation.
US House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi speaks during a weekly news conference March 1, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)Pledge your support for ethical, insightful independent media: Make a tax-deductible donation to Truthout and choose the "monthly" option at checkout.
Republican Rick Saccone came up short in Tuesday's special election for Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district, losing by a few hundred votes to 33-year-old Democrat Conor Lamb. But the biggest losers were arguably Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and his Democratic counterpart Rep. Nancy Pelosi.
From the very beginning of the race, national Republicans worked hard to push the message that the rookie Democrat was nothing more than a stooge of Pelosi and other "liberal elites." They pushed the idea early and often, particularly after the House minority leader repeatedly dismissed the comparatively small amounts of money that middle-income taxpayers received from the recently-passed GOP tax cut as "crumbs." (After resisting intra-party calls to apologize for her accurate but indecorous phrasing, she eventually recanted.)
Democrats who hear such messaging invariably roll their eyes without realizing that they are not its intended audience. Republicans made the same mistake in 2012 when Democrats seized on covertly recorded remarks from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney which derided "47 percent" of Americans for supposedly being useless wards of the federal government.
While the message is one the GOP has used since 2010, it's effective. Pelosi elicits strongly negative views from Republicans and lukewarm support from Democrats, giving her a less than 29 percent approval rating and 50 percent unfavorable rating as of last September. Attacking her was likely the key to GOP victory last year in Georgia, where insurgent candidate Jon Ossoff failed in his special election bid for the state's 6th congressional district.
"Every morning I wake up and I take a moment to be thankful that the Republican Party still has Nancy Pelosi because Nancy Pelosi is absolutely toxic," Corry Bliss, executive director of a PAC controlled by Ryan, told The Washington Times in reference to the Georgia race.
Instead of allowing the GOP to tie him to Pelosi, however, Lamb repeatedly declared that he did not support Pelosi and would not vote for her as the Democrats' House leader. He took the rhetoric an important step further, not just disowning a link to Pelosi but turning the question around to Paul Ryan. Repeatedly.
"The real issue here is not Nancy Pelosi: It's Paul Ryan," Lamb said in a January interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He's the one who has declared that he's coming after Medicaid and Social Security."
In a February debate, Lamb gave a much more adept response to the GOP tax cut than Pelosi, the legislative veteran, could come up with.
"I've always been for middle class tax cuts. What I'm not happy about is that I think people's health insurance premiums are now going to go up and we've added $1.5 trillion to the national debt," Lamb said when asked what he thought of the new tax law. "We didn't need to add a penny to our debt to have the tax cut for our working and middle class people. We now know that 85-90 percent of that $1.5 trillion went to the one percent, people who earn $700,000-$800,000 a year and to our largest corporations. I don't think that was right," Lamb said.
During the debate, he also managed to turn Saccone's religiosity against him by pointing out how the Republican's claims to be caring for the "helpless" by opposing abortion sound insincere when coupled with his desire to cut federal spending.
This was an incredibly savvy move, for at least three reasons. The first is that for all the liberal anger that President Donald Trump constantly provokes, Ryan is also exceptionally unpopular. In a December poll commissioned by Politico, 36 percent of respondents said that an endorsement from Ryan would make them less likely to support a candidate. Just 25 percent said it would make them more supportive. His numbers tracked respondents' views of Pelosi: Twenty-six percent said an endorsement from her would make them more supportive while 34 percent said it would make them less interested.
The second reason Lamb's attacks on Ryan were smart is that they enabled him to carry out a divide-and-conquer strategy on Pennsylvanians who had voted for Trump. As research has repeatedly shown, about 10 percent of Trump's voters nationally (and even more in Midwestern states) are not committed conservative voters. Instead, they're disaffected Democrats who feel abandoned by a party that under former President Barack Obama began referring to a new "coalition of the ascendant" based on educated whites and racial minorities.
Hillary Clinton carried the idea even further in 2016 by actively refusing to campaign in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, while openly denigrating half of Trump's supporters as "a basket of deplorables."
"If you look at the map of the United States, there's all that red in the middle where Trump won," Clinton said. "But what the map doesn't show you is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America's gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward."
There is some truth to that analysis, but it's not the sort of thing that a savvy politician -- such as Clinton's husband, for instance -- would ever say. Not only because it's patronizing but also because it is morally no better than the type of "maker and taker" rhetoric that Republicans use to justify cuts to anti-poverty programs. Clinton's insult was eerily similar to conservative rhetoric about black Americans supposedly being kept on "plantations" because they generally don't vote Republican.
Michael Moore was correct in proclaiming proclaimed before the 2016 election that Trump would win because he spoke to a population of voters who felt shut out by both parties.
"Trump's election is going to be the biggest 'f**k you' ever recorded in human history — and it will feel good," Moore argued at an event promoting his film "Michael Moore in TrumpLand."
"Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he's saying the things to people who are hurting, and that's why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump," Moore continued.
Instead of repeating Hillary Clinton's error, Lamb's focus on Ryan enabled him to peel off enough voters in a district Trump won by 20 percent by reminding them who really calls the policy shots in the GOP. For all the attention Trump's erratic behavior and controversial statements provoke, he is primarily just an old man who likes yelling at the TV. In-between shows, he wants to sign bills and be flattered. Since the GOP controls Congress, Trump is more than happy to do whatever Ryan, a true conservative believer, wants him to.
There's no doubt that some Trump voters were motivated by racism or sexism, but plenty of them were people who got tricked. In a post-election survey by the Washington Post, a full 20 percent of people who voted for Trump also said they approved of Obama's job performance. In another survey commissioned by Priorities USA, 30 percent of Obama-to-Trump voters said that they were primarily voting againstClinton. Just 21 percent of them said they expected Trump to create economic policies that would favor the wealthy.
Conor Lamb reminded those voters that they had been sold a bill of goods in a way that did not insult them.
The third reason why Lamb's attacks on Ryan were smart is that they highlighted the huge division on the role of government between between Republican voters and the conservative elites who rule the party.
Needless to say, these subjects are not ones that Republican politicians want to discuss much. Instead, they'd rather deliver cultural populist appeals to grassroots Republicans about how Democrats are motivated by "hatred" for Trump, America, and even God, as Saccone said at a Monday campaign rally.
Unlike Lamb, Saccone couldn't brush off attacks on his party leader. Not only because Republicans are much less tolerant of intra-party ideological dissent but also because Saccone's campaign was being kept afloat by huge sums of out-of-state money from anti-government Republican fat cats. To disavow Ryan, their golden boy, would have meant cutting himself off financially.
During the candidates' February debate, Saccone refused to name any policies where he would differ with Ryan. In his closing statement, Lamb made the connection between Saccone's sycophancy before the conservative donor class and the over $10 million they spent on his behalf.
"They don't tell the truth in their advertising. They want to buy this election that way. And they try to get legislation that they can buy, like the new budget that's coming out which makes cuts to programs that people rely on," he said.
Democrats looking for a lesson coming out of Pennsylvania now have one: To win, make the election about Paul Ryan, not Donald Trump. And get rid of Nancy Pelosi's limousine liberalism in favor of economic policies advocated by Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., or Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. The best way to beat fake populism is with real populism.
Protesters dressed as Guantánamo detainees hold an anti-torture demonstration on the 15th anniversary of Guantánamo's opening on January 11, 2017. The Trump administration continues to perpetuate and glorify torture, exemplified by the recent nomination of Gina Haspel to CIA director. (Photo: Justin Norman)
Fifteen years after Bush's invasion of Iraq, we don't talk much about it anymore. This is unfortunate, because advocates and practitioners of torture are about to control the White House, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency simultaneously. The stain of Bush administration policy remains, like Lady MacBeth's damned spot.
Protesters dressed as Guantánamo detainees hold an anti-torture demonstration on the 15th anniversary of Guantánamo's opening on January 11, 2017. The Trump administration continues to perpetuate and glorify torture, exemplified by the recent nomination of Gina Haspel to CIA director. (Photo: Justin Norman)The following article could only be published thanks to support from our readers. To fund more stories like it, make a donation to Truthout by clicking here!
I would bring back waterboarding, and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.
—Donald Trump, 02/16/2016
Fifteen years ago this week, George W. Bush and his pack of unprosecuted murderers transformed the city of Baghdad into a bowl of fire, "Shock & Awe," in what was a massive war crime right there on live television. I call it a war crime justly: It was an act based entirely on lies founded in greed and lust for power, for which not one person has been called to account.
Millions of human beings have been butchered, maimed, displaced and undone in those 15 years since the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. The war there has actually been going on in one form or another for 27 years now. Yet no one is held accountable even as we slog, year after year, through the drifting ashes of aftermath.
We simply don't talk about it.
We are allowed, within the narrow confines of permissible debate, to rub our collective woes together and wonder how so much could go so wrong so fast. The physical shock of September 11 doesn't explain it, but the manner in which that day was used against us certainly fills in the blank spaces. They used it to start a war that has now become several wars, and a few people you'll never meet continue to swim in the profits.
More than a trillion dollars have been spent so far on the wars, and that's just the coin on the books, not to mention the trillion or more to be spent as the veterans of that war seek VA care for the damage they will bear all their lives. They are still young, most of those who have survived their multiple tours in the forever wars. They will be with us for a half-century at least, and they deserve every dime we spend on their care. All in all, we will spend plenty on this butcher's bill.I used to imagine George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and the rest of them standing before the bar in The Hague. Fifteen years later, I can't imagine a more farfetched possibility.
We don't talk about the war and what it has stolen from us, because the politicians and news organizations still live in dread of a reckoning that seems, in the orange light of the now, so terribly and enduringly out of reach. I used to imagine George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and the rest of them standing before the bar in The Hague. Fifteen years later, I can't imagine a more farfetched possibility. Neptune is closer.
The war in Iraq was and remains a debasing, despicable act the United States may never recover from. It is a moral catastrophe in every respect, one that still wounds us deeply to this day. No aspect of our shame is more vivid than the stain of torture. Some have tried to scrub that stain out of us -- President Obama famously whitewashed the horror of it all by admitting "We tortured some folks," before calling the critics "sanctimonious" and the torturers "patriots" -- but it's still there, like Lady MacBeth's damned spot.
Now, as we approach the 15th anniversary of Bush's Iraq invasion, two notorious torturers are poised to assume positions of enormous power within the federal government. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been tapped to replace ignominious failure Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and agency veteran Gina Haspel is set to replace Pompeo as head of the CIA.
Pompeo was quick to denounce the practice during his CIA confirmation hearings, but his political path to power is littered with the broken bodies of torture victims. He did not lay hands on them himself, but was an ardent supporter of the "black sites" where torture took place, and he has championed an Islamophobia so profound that he once blamed all Muslim leaders everywhere for the Boston Marathon bombing. Pompeo's ardent support for torture is what first caught Donald Trump's attention, as the president is also an ardent believer in "enhanced interrogation."
Gina Haspel is another matter entirely. She was not just another pro-war shouter back in DC. Haspel was in it up to her throat. For a time, she ran one of the "black sites," this one located in Thailand, and was so proud of her work that she destroyed the tapes of her interrogations. For this, she was neither fired nor prosecuted, and pending confirmation will be in charge of one of the largest intelligence organizations in the world.The lengths those talking heads went to try and butter over Pompeo and Haspel's bloody history was positively aerobic.
These are some of the many issues only a thorough investigation can answer, but with torture advocates and practitioners about to control the White House, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, such an investigation is almost certainly never going to happen. "Gina Haspel does not belong as head of the CIA," journalist Jeremy Scahill told Democracy Now! "She belongs in front of a judge, answering to what she was doing, running a torture operation at a black site in Thailand and destroying evidence."
When the TV news people were covering Tillerson's sudden departure and Pompeo's subsequent elevation, the subject of torture actually elbowed its way into the discussion. Suddenly, we were talking about one of the things we never talk about … and it was as vile as every other seedy, shabby element of this ongoing disgrace.
The lengths those talking heads went to try and butter over Pompeo and Haspel's bloody history was positively aerobic. There hasn't been that much televised stammering since the Porky Pig marathon on the Cartoon Network. The sum and substance of their collective conclusion was, "Well, Steve, it … seems to me … that if we … took away … everyone in CIA who … participated … in … torture … well … there wouldn't … be anyone left … to run the place."
Now there's a thought.
To get through the climate change emergency, we need the state itself to become just and scientific because justice is a climate-change technology of great power, says award-winning science- and climate-fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. But it would require replacing capitalism with an ecologically-based socialist democracy.
Kim Stanley Robinson is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author. A science- and climate-fiction novelist, Robinson has written more than 20 books, including the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt and 2312. In 2008, he was named a "Hero of the Environment" by Time magazine, and he works with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute.
In this interview, Truthout talks with Robinson about his books Green Earth and New York 2140. Set in the present or near future, Green Earth portrays struggles over climate science in the US capital, whereas New York 2140 depicts life in a 22nd century metropolis that has been inundated by the melted polar regions.
Javier Sethness: Stan, thank you kindly for being open to participating in this interview. First, Ursula K. Le Guin passed away recently. Her influence on your own creative writing is marked. Do you have any reflections on Le Guin's life and work that you wish to share?
Kim Stanley Robinson: I wrote a memorial statement after her death for Scientific American. What I can add to that now as I continue to feel the loss of her living presence, is that in listening to the science fiction community talk about her, I'm struck by how beloved she was, both her and her work, and I'm thinking now that this was a very unusual quality in her work and her person. Also, less crucially, her work always had a quick sureness about it; she didn't waste words or pile on details. She cut a clean line, as surfers would say. That's the mark of a good style: distinctive and clear. Her prose has a poetry to it.
One major theme in Green Earth and New York 2140 is democracy versus capitalism. New York 2140 begins with a statement of Proudhonian or Marxian value analysis: The coders Mutt and Jeff (as workers) create the surplus-value (profit) that drives the capitalist monster which persists even in the year 2140, after it has melted Greenland and parts of Antarctica, raising sea levels by 50 feet and devastating coastal and low-lying regions. You clarify that it is capitalism ... responsible for such ecological catastrophe, in parallel to the grossly unequal wealth and power distribution it engenders.... Capital's class divisions are symbolized in New York 2140 in the struggle between flooded lower Manhattan and the intertidal region versus uptown, where the superscrapers of the rich stand on higher ground. Ultimately, you envision mass popular resistance building up from a rent strike toward a global general strike to overturn this oppressive system. Is this how we should wield revolutionary democracy and organize?
A fiscal strike is one possible way to exert people power. Finance is systemically over-leveraged -- and therefore in a precarious position -- if something like the 2008 crash were to occur again. Such a crash will happen anytime there is a crisis of confidence in the markets and in the value of money, and the various money-surrogates. People could all together and at once refuse regularly scheduled payments, or less radically, they could together remove their money from banks and put them in credit unions. Done as a mass-action, this would crash the system. After that, there would have to be a plan to rescue the banks by nationalizing them, as we did to [General Motors] in 2009. This is just one tactic and just one step on the road to post-capitalism, but it does point out the power people have as the ultimate source of value, including financial value. Finance is parasitical on ordinary people, so some modes of detoxification are available. The parasites can't live on their own.
Your exploration of the exercise of autonomy and egalitarian cooperation at the MetLife Tower, transformed into a cooperative living residence, and via the Lower Manhattan Mutual Aid Society in New York 2140 recalls the anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin's analysis in Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902). Indeed, your Mr. Hexter advises his youthful counterparts that "[h]elping animals or helping people" would be just ways of being in the world. May I ask to what degree libertarian socialism inspires you?
I have never read a definition of the word "libertarian" that makes any sense to me, nor sounds attractive as a principle, so I avoid that word as much as I can. Maybe "democratic socialism" is the better term for me -- the idea being that people in democracies would elect representatives that would then pass laws based on socialist principles. That is a story I'm often interested in telling, as something that could and should happen in our near future. It's my form of utopian science fiction. The social democracies of north Europe and the name "social democrat" also resonate for me, although these political parties, when in power in Europe, have had to make alliances and compromises with capitalism that make them far from satisfactory. But from the viewpoint of the United States, they look like at least a step along the path to more justice. There would be more steps later. I usually favor stepwise reform, but I have to admit we need the steps to come really fast, one after the next, now that climate change is about to overwhelm us.
In both Green Earth and New York 2140, you raise many imaginative possibilities in terms of collective responses to climate catastrophe that we might want to consider: redirecting excess sea-level rise into East Antarctica and inland deserts; introducing Arctic polar bears to Antarctica to avoid extinction; designing floating cities; rebuilding beaches and shorelines; and infusing the Arctic Ocean with vast quantities of salt transported in container fleets in order to restart the thermohaline circulation, or Gulf Stream, threatened by global warming. The emphasis on cooperatives and the commons in New York 2140, in parallel to Green Earth's examination of simple living, "freeganism," and the transition to wind, water and solar energy gives us a lot to think about.
Some of these ideas have been explored by research institutes since I wrote about them in my novels. I don't think the researchers involved read my novels; I think they are ideas that emerge naturally given the problems we are facing. So, pumping seawater up onto the Antarctic ice cap could be done, but would require something like 7 percent of all the energy humanity creates. Even so, it might be considered a good idea compared to losing all sea level infrastructure and beaches and ecologies. Assisted migration is being planned and even tried experimentally, and this will continue, but polar bears to Antarctica was my idea of a joke. It has been taken up and studied, however. Salting the Gulf Stream would probably not work, and yet it might be tried if the Gulf Stream stalled, just to see.
Still, you have caught the drift of my fiction -- I'm interested in describing actions like these. Some are geoengineering, some are political economy and involve return of the commons, socialism, clean energy, etc.
Over the course of Green Earth, we see "gradualist-progressive" elements within the State evermore placing science center-stage in the struggle to curb capitalism's contributions to climate change. We encounter Charlie Quibler, the young aide to Sen. Phil Chase, drafting a bill to legislate the implementation of recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), only to have the law inevitably watered down by legislators, including Chase himself. Then, Washington, DC, is struck by a massive storm, and it is on the flooded Mall that Quibler confronts Chase, imploring him to finally do something about climate change. Subsequently, Chase announces his Democratic presidential candidacy at the North Pole -- or what's left of it -- and upon being elected as the "first scientific presidential candidate," he launches an emergency climate mobilization in the "first 60 days" of his administration. In New York 2140, similarly, there is a revolutionary, popular upsurge which follows a massive hurricane that sweeps through the city; yet here, too, the revolt "lives on" through the State. In light of these social-democratic models you present for evidence-based policy-making and your view that scientific inquiry is linked to justice and fairness, what do you make of the status of science now one year into the Trump regime?
It's been a year of continuous assault on science and justice by the Trump administration, and it's been shocking to see how many people there are willing to implement such a ... wicked vision.... But all of these poor people will immediately run to a scientist the moment they feel sick -- that's their doctors. They believe in science when they're scared for their lives. What this reveals is their hypocrisy ... and greed, but also, the strength of the system they're attacking, which enfolds them completely. We live in a world that is a scientific achievement, and we can't live without the scientific achievements, and even though some of the scientific achievements have definitely led us to our current crisis -- public health and agriculture leading to quick population rise, and carbon-burning energy leading to climate change -- still, it's science in action that will be involved in all the solutions, along with politics aiming our scientific work.
I think the science is robust and will survive this attack from Trump, his supporters, the Republican Party in the US and capitalism worldwide. There will be damage, and the political battles will never end, but over the long arc of history.... You know the rest.
In New York 2140, you cite John Dos Passos recalling a meeting with Emma Goldman at which "everybody [gathered] was for peace and the cooperative commonwealth and the Russian Revolution." It is clear that your work features several anarchistic characters and themes, yet you also often invoke Lincoln's vision of government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" as an ideal. So, 100-plus years since the Russian Revolution, do you consider the state necessary for the transition to an egalitarian, ecological post-capitalist world?
Yes, I do. This is not an easy thing to say, given how much that is bad has accrued around what we call "the state" in world history. But the term is probably too broad and philosophical. If you want to use it, and speak at that level of broad generality, I'll join briefly and say, we need the state itself to become just and scientific, and the expression of everyone alive agreeing how to live together. That agreement formalized as laws becomes the state.... Best to focus on creating a good state based on just laws. For getting through the climate change emergency, I think it's the only way that will work.
In closing, do you have any thoughts for the ongoing struggle of promoting "compassion for all sentient beings" (Green Earth) within the context of the sixth mass extinction?
Time is running short in terms of dodging a really bad sixth mass extinction that would result if we create a much, much warmer world by our burning of carbon into the atmosphere. If we can quickly reduce our carbon burn, which is really what powers our culture now, that would be a huge change and would allow all sorts of other good potentialities to come to pass. We have to keep emphasizing the need to decarbonize fast. Fortunately, the technologies to do this include women's rights (this stabilizes population) and economic equality (this reduces impacts of poverty and over-consumption). Justice is a climate-change technology of great power, so there is no need to set up false dichotomies as to which good cause we support. The good causes reinforce each other and we need them all at once. This is why capitalism has to give way to an ecologically-based post-capitalism, which, in some features, will be aspects of socialism chosen democratically. We have to figure out a way to pay ourselves to do the work of survival.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.You don't need an ad blocker to view Truthout, because we don't run advertisements. In fact, we refuse all corporate-interest funding. Help Truthout stay independent: Make a donation now!
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