Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Erickson Report, Page 8: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrage]

The Erickson Report, Page 8: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrage]

[Because the discussion of the "Deal of the Century" ran so long, I had to edit on the fly and the part about "non-persistent" mines didn't make it to air.]

Living in a sea of Outrages and with time for just one, I chose this one because it has gotten, I think, too little attention.
In 1997, something called the Ottawa Process lead to the Mine Ban Treaty, an agreement to ban landmines, which are notoriously indiscriminate and persist to cause injury long after the conflict in which they were used is over.

It went into force in 1999. Today, 164 nations are party to the Treaty. Despite helping to develop it, the US is not among the signers.

However, in September 2014 the Obama administration announced a commitment not to use antipersonnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula and not to assist, encourage, or induce other nations to use, stockpile, produce, or transfer antipersonnel mines outside of Korea. This came three months after the US forswore future production or acquisition of antipersonnel landmines.

So while the US still was not a signatory to the Treaty, it had taken a big step towards being in line with it.

But on January 31, the Tweetie-pie White House reversed that directive, allowing combatant commanders to use antipersonnel landmines anywhere the "specific operational context" allows.

result of a landmine in the war in Yemen
This is attached to a claim that landmines are necessary for US forces and that not using them "could place them at a severe disadvantage." However, the US has not used antipersonnel mines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, has not produced them since 1997, and has destroyed millions of stockpiled mines. And yet somehow the military manages to carry on.

The claim is that the mines to be used in the future are an advanced, "non-persistent" type intended to "reduce unintended harm to civilians" but that's a verbal fig leaf to cover the fact that the mines are indiscriminate weapons that still can't tell the difference between friend and foe, innocent and enemy, adult and child, human and animal (note they only promise to "reduce" the number of civilians killed and maimed).

Moreover, Jeff Abramson, senior fellow with the Arms Control Association, dismisses the "advanced" landmines outright. "Technical solutions to make landmines self-destruct or otherwise labeled as 'smart.'" he said, "have failed to work as advertised" and have been rejected by the countries that have signed onto the Treaty.

What makes this especially outrageous is that you know damn well that the only reason this was done is that it was an Obama-era policy and Tweetie-pie seems determined to make it like the Obama years never happened.

On all accounts, an Outrage.

The Erickson Report, Page 7: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages {the Clowns]

The Erickson Report, Page 7: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]

[Note: The discussion of the "Deal of the Century" was long enough that I only had time for two Clowns and one Outrage - and it turned out that is ran so long that I had to edit on the fly and the first Clown below never made it to air.]

Now for our regular feature, Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages.

Our first Clown this time is MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, whose terror at the thought of a Bernie Sanders presidency prompted a bizarre rant following the February 7 Democratic debate.

He started by saying he’d keep his opinions on socialism to himself and then almost immediately kept  his opinions to himself by declaring that "I believe if Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. And certain other people would be there cheering, okay?"

He then suggested Bernie Sanders might have been among those cheering: "I don’t know who Bernie supports over these years. I don’t know what he means by socialist."

When Chris Hayes interrupted to say that Sanders is "pretty clearly" in favor of the type of socialism found in countries like Denmark, a country whose brand of socialism Matthews had already said was "harmless," Matthews responded with "Is he? How do you know? Did he tell you that?"

Um, yeah, he did. With his policies. With his speeches. With his decades-long record. Hey Matthews, you do recall you job title says "journalist," right?

Nicole Saphier
But this has got be our top Clown for this time out because it is just so damn funny.

On the February 7 edition of Fox and Friends, Dr. Nicole Saphier, a "medical contributor" for Faux News, declared that "Americans are dying younger, from largely preventable disease and bad health policy decisions."

And what was the bad policy decision that lead to these preventable deaths? Why, it was the Affordable Care Act! How? Because by enabling more people to have health insurance, it "took away the incentivizations for good behavior choices."

Yes - because having better access to health care is bad for you.

My gosh, what a Clown.

By the way, the decline in life expectancy was caused by increases in drug overdoses and suicides, not heart disease, contrary to what Dr. - Doctor? Really? - Dr. Sapphire suggested.


The Erickson Report, Page 6: "Deal of the Century" - A Footnote

The Erickson Report, Page 6: "Deal of the Century" - A Footnote

[A note about sources: Pages 1-6 were originally to be one long piece and I usually only cite a reference the first time I use it. Which means some things in this page may be based on references cited on an earlier page.]

Okay, the Footnote.

On February 9, the Israeli government instituted a blockade on Palestinian agricultural exports through Jordan. Trucks loaded with produce were stopped by quickly-erected Israeli blast walls and turned back from the border.
This was at the order of Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett. He said it is payback for the fact that on February 2, Palestinians ceased importing goods from Israel.

Okay, two problems: One, the West Bank is under Israeli military occupation, and therefore is governed by the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Regulations, which among other things lay out the occupier's responsibilities in areas it occupies, which include not interfering with people's abilities to make a living, which Bennett's order clearly does.

That is, he did it, because, y'see, he is totally outraged that anyone would boycott Israel over its human rights abuses, so his response is to commit human rights abuses.

The other problem is that the Palestinians are clearly within their rights not to buy from Israel, just as anyone for who those agricultural exports were intended would be within their rights to refuse to buy from Palestinians. But Bennett is not refusing to buy certain goods, he's imposing a blockade, preventing someone else from buying those goods out of his own, let's call it, imperial or better put imperialist pique.

If you needed more proof that Palestinians of the West Bank are not free agents but rather an occupied and oppressed people, I can't imagine what it would be.

The Erickson Report, Page 5: "Deal of the Century" - An Old Game

The Erickson Report, Page 5: "Deal of the Century" - An Old Game

[A note about sources: Pages 1-6 were originally to be one long piece and I usually only cite a reference the first time I use it. Which means some things in this page may be based on references cited on an earlier page.]

Could that be true? Could it have been intended to be rejected? Absolutely - because we've seen this game before.

The year was 2000. Seven years earlier, 1993, Yasir Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin had agreed on a peace deal that formally recognized Israel's right to exist while granting the Palestinians limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Now, with limited movement toward greater Palestinian self-rule, the relative peace that had existed for those seven years was at risk.

Bill Clinton wanted to meet with then-Israeli PM Ehud Barak and Arafat. Arafat was reluctant, thinking nothing would come of it and a failure would be worse than not doing it at all. But Clinton convinced Arafat to come by promising him that there would be no recriminations.

At that meeting, Barak made a supposedly "generous offer" to Arafat, involving a Palestinian state in Gaza and something like 90% of the West Bank. Arafat refused. The talks broke down and Clinton returned to Washington and despite his promise, denounced Arafat for the talks' failure. Thus, it was said, Arafat's "true face" was exposed, that of a man determined not to make peace with Israel.

There was just one problem: It wasn't true. The deal that Barak proposed was one that the Israelis knew in advance Arafat would not, could not, accept. For one thing, the 10% of the West Bank not part of this Palestinian state would be occupied by Israeli "security corridors" connecting settlements and outposts, which would have sliced the West Bank into a bunch of disconnected pieces, just like this time, with Palestinians needing the permission of the Israeli military to get from one part of their country to another. And it required relinquishing any "right of return."

It was nothing but a propaganda ploy designed to head off the possibility of a settlement. As subsequent events have shown, it was one of the most successful PR coups of modern times.

And now we're seeing a re-run: a supposedly "generous" offer known to be unacceptable, intending to use its rejection as justification for continued oppression.

One person said that "The real threat to peace is not whether the Trump plan will fail but whether it will succeed." The truth is, I'm not sure which is worse.

But I say this, knowing that it is not my life on the line and not my choice to make, but I still have to say that it seems to me that if you're going to go down either way, better to do it as the bull in the ring than the pig in the abattoir.

I'm going to stop here except for one revealing footnote, which I'll get to in a second. Next time I intend to spend some time looking at US media reactions to this Ripoff of the Century, reactions which tell us a lot about the way the political and media establishment view the world.

The Erickson Report, Page 4: "Deal of the Century" - What about Israel?

The Erickson Report, Page 4: "Deal of the Century" - What about Israel?

[A note about sources: Pages 1-6 were originally to be one long piece and I usually only cite a reference the first time I use it. Which means some things in this page may be based on references cited on an earlier page.]

Israel gives up nothing, zilch, zero, nada in this deal except - maybe - for what it already decided it didn't want. For example, Israel oh so graciously promised a four-year halt to construction of settlements in the West Bank, we're told to give time to work out the details. Except, no, like the man in the movie Independence Day said, that's not entirely accurate - meaning it is entirely false. Israel only promised not to build new settlements in areas where there are none now, which it hadn't been planning to do. Expansion of existing settlements can continue apace.

Even the clause supposedly placing a moratorium on the demolition of Palestinian homes and structures doesn't apply to the demolition of any structure that Israel says is a security risk - an excuse used as recently as July, when 100 Palestinian apartments in a part of East Jerusalem were leveled. In fact, it doesn't even have to pose a risk, it could be a punitive demolition after some supposed act of terrorism -with no requirement, of course, that those in those homes have any connection to the act. Which is collective punishment, which is illegal under international law.

It is allowed to continue to maintain it has no responsibility for conditions in Gaza, even though is called, quite accurately, world's largest outdoor prison, with access of people and goods into and out of the area entirely controlled by Israel.

The plan also allows for the annexation of significant parts, in fact 30%, of the West Bank - that is, no longer simply occupying the area but literally stealing the land and making it part of the State of Israel. That is a transparent violation of both international law and UN resolutions, but Netanyoyo doesn't care and as long as the US doesn't, he doesn't have to. In fact, he wanted to move immediately to annex the settlements, but backed off after the US objected because there is supposed to be a committee dealing with it.

To show just how farcical this whole process is, Netanyoyo said he agreed to hold off because "this can't be a one-sided act" and the other side he meant was the US, not the Palestinians.

But of course that's in keeping with the entire document, which one source described as reading like it was suffused with white supremicism.

Only the Israeli side is worthy of empathy, of having its  history understood and its claims to the land acknowledged.

Only Israel is worthy of having its desires for a homeland, for nationhood, be embraced.

Only Israel is worthy of having security - in fact, the document says “The security portion of this vision was developed based on our best understanding of the security requirements of the State of Israel" - and the security interests of an oppressed, occupied people be damned.

Only Israelis are worthy of charting their own future.

Only Israel and Israelis and in fact the more equal Jewish Israelis are worthy of justice.

The plan is so blatantly one-sided, so blatantly unjust, so blatantly beyond the farthest bounds of reason that more than one commentator has suggested that the plan may have been designed to be rejected by the Palestinians, a rejection which then would be used to justify a claim that the Palestinians are not interested in peace and so Israel, for its own security, needs to just go ahead and do what it was going to do anyway. "We offered them a state," they'll say, "but they've made it clear they are interested in nothing but our destruction."

The Erickson Report, Page 3: "Deal of the Century" - a "State of Palestine"

The Erickson Report, Page 3: "Deal of the Century" - a "State of Palestine"

[A note about sources: Pages 1-6 were originally to be one long piece and I usually only cite a reference the first time I use it. Which means some things in this page may be based on references cited on an earlier page.]

Finally we come to the centerpiece of this piece of trash: a proposed Palestinian state. Except that it isn't a state. It is, as already noted, "a 21st century bantustan." Even that barely describes it. This is not a state, it's an un-state.

The first map below shows the proposed un-state. Connecting the various communities are segregated Palestinian and Israeli roads, much like in the region today. The blue circles with the arrows indicate bridges and tunnels connecting various areas of the un-state, the most prominent being a tunnel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The brownish-green circles mark off Israeli settlements to remain under Israeli control and jurisdiction despite being inside the borders of the un-state, with the lines marking their access roads.

Someone described this un-state as looking like a very gerrymandered Congressional district, but it's worse than that.

the un-State of Palestine
Take a close look at the map and you start to realize that, unlike the most gerrymandered district, this un-state is not even one contiguous territory.

In fact, Ben Silverstein, Digital Director at J Street, a self-described liberal pro-Israel lobbying group, said the shading of the map actually gives a very generous notion of the proposal and that the second map below gives a truer picture. When the UN's Michael Lynk called it "scattered archipelagos," he was not exaggerating.

How anyone can even pretend this is a serious proposal for a Palestinian state is incomprehensible - except for accomplished liars like Tweetie-pie and Netanyoyo. Under the Deal of the Century, this un-state has no external borders, no right to defend its security, no geographic basis for a viable economy, no freedom of movement. Israel will control all security, all territorial waters, all international crossings of this un-state and can even maintain a permanent naval blockade.

And in case you thought they missed something, the text stipulates that “solely as determined by the State of Israel, the State of Israel will rely on blimps, drones and similar aerial equipment for security purposes.” That is, this un-state doesn't control its own airspace, either, and can be freely spied on by the Israeli military.

And as if all that wasn't enough, the glorious un-state of Palestine only comes into being if a series of preconditions are met, including an array of legal, political, fiscal, and security reforms, with Israel being the sole arbiter if they have been met. Bizarrely but I expect unsurprisingly, the only place human rights are mentioned in the plan is as a requirement placed on the un-state of Palestine.

And even if those preconditions were ever met, under this plan you'd have an un-state where Israel not only controls its land, sea, air, and security, Israel also controls its foreign policy: The un-state of Palestine would be barred from entering into treaties and would require Israel's assent to join any international organization.

a truer picture
Israel even controls its immigration. You know, I expect, that Jews anywhere in the diaspora have a right of return to Israel, but under this agreement not only would Palestinians have no right of return to Israel, they'd have no right of return to the un-state of Palestine. The text says "the rights of Palestinian refugees to immigrate into the State of Palestine shall be limited in accordance with security arrangements and regulated by various factors including increased security risks to the State of Israel" from there being more Palestinians around. Put another way, the very existence of Palestinians is to be regarded as a threat to Israel - and so of course the more of them around the greater the threat. QED.

Oh but let's be fair: Israel wants to help with immigration to the un-state of Palestine. One provision of the Deal of the Century is for a land swap that would take the so-called Triangle area in central Israel, now heavily populated by Palestinian citizens of Israel, and shift it to the new un-state, thereby reducing the number of non-Jews living in Israel, a long-standing dream of the Israeli right wing backing Netanyoyo.

And if even after somehow surrendering, capitulating, far enough to meet all these requirements, if after that the Palestinians felt that Israel was still violating their human rights, they could do absolutely nothing about it. A provision of the proposal says that the un-state of Palestine will
Take no action, and shall dismiss all pending actions, against the State of Israel, the United States, and any of their citizens before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and all other tribunals; [and] Take no action against any Israeli or United States citizen before Interpol or any non-Israeli or United States legal system."

Quick sidebar: The International Criminal Court is being dragged, somewhat against its will, but being dragged toward conducting an investigation into alleged war crimes committed against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, a fact which puts an exclamation point on that provision of the plan. Israel, predictably, responded by calling the Court anti-Semitic. Because as we all know, any criticism, even potential criticism, of Israel is obviously and by definition anti-Semitic. Just ask the people trying to make the BDS movement illegal.

I think that's enough - way more than enough - to see why this so-called "deal" is a vile fraud. But wait, we're not finished. Because the deal giveth and the deal taketh away - only it taketh from the Palestinians and giveth to Israel.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Erickson Report, Page 2: "Deal of the Century" - What's wrong with it

The Erickson Report, Page 2: "Deal of the Century" - What's wrong with it

[A note about sources: Pages 1-6 were originally to be one long piece and I usually only cite a reference the first time I use it. Which means some things in this page may be based on references cited on an earlier page.]

Okay, lots of people, including people knowledgeable about the issue, don't like it. So what's wrong with it? We can start with what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu said at the White House ceremony announcing the plan.

Netanyahu said the Palestinians would be required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, cede the entire Jordan Valley, disarm Hamas, and surrender any claims to a right to return, and accept an "undivided" Jerusalem as the "eternal capital" of Israel. He said to Tweetie-pie that "Your peace plan offers the Palestinians a pathway to a future state" but "it may take them a very long time" to get there - which, he could have added, under this plan they never will in any meaningful sense.
Hey, if you're a Palestinian, what's not to like in that?

But let's get more specific and we'll start with Netanyoyo's points, in that same order. Israel has been by law a Jewish state since July of 2018. Israeli Palestinians - about 20% of the population of Israel - were and are opposed to this because even as legally they are equal citizens, in practice they are not, but are treated as 2nd class or even sometimes as enemies. For the Palestinian Authority to accept that Israel is a Jewish state is seen as enshrining that status into law. Like in Animal Farm, everyone is equal except that some are more equal than others.

the "1967 borders"
Next: The Jordan valley is the breadbasket of the West Bank and to a significant degree of Israel. Remember that in the classic "1967" borders, the ones people usually think of when they picture the West Bank, the border of a Palestinian state created there would extended to the Jordan River. Under this plan,  it would not. The Jordan Valley would be retained by Israel. Taking access away means taking away Palestinian farmland and orchards, meaning Palestinian food and produce for export.

The deal does allow for any Palestinian who already owns land in the valley to continue to use it - subject to Israeli regulations and leases as well as “security requirements,” which have already been used on a number of occasions as a justification for seizing Palestinian land in the West Bank. That is, the "rights" of those farmers are subject to Israeli control and dependent on Israel's good will.

"Disaming Hamas" isn't even the half of it. The plan denies the Palestinians any right to any military force or any military self-defense and requires not only disarming but disbanding any militant group. Laughably, the document says that the Palestinians should be grateful for this, because they are "relieved of the burden of defense" because Israel will take care of it. Against who they would need defense is unclear - unless, of course, you include Israel.

Then there's the "right of return," an intensely emotional issue for Palestinians, a notion of returning home, similar to the dream of "next year in Jerusalem" for the Zionists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Israelis have known for some time - and Palestinian leaders have made it clear for some time - that a negotiated Palestinian "right of return" could be limited and mostly symbolic, but demanding it be given up entirely - the text says “there shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the State of Israel” - is beyond what the Palestinians could possibly accept. And again, and this is important, the Israelis know it.

As for Jerusalem, as others have noted before, is it a remarkable city in that it is important in three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Palestinian desire to have a capital in Jerusalem is every bit as strong as the Israeli desire. To declare Jerusalem to be all Israeli territory, with Muslims getting to their holy sites there only by permission of the Israelis, is for Palestinians a non-starter. To understand why, you need only think back to the years when Israelis could not get to the Wailing Wall, which was in what was then Jordan, and the emotional intensity among Jews when they gained access to it as a result of the 1967 war.

But don't worry: The plan says that the capital of the proposed Palestinian state can be in East Jerusalem - in other words, close to Jerusalem - and helpfully suggests it be called Al-Quds, which is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, so that's supposed to make everything okay. "Hey, you have a capital in Jerusalem. What's the problem?"

The Erickson Report, Page 1: "Deal of the Century" - Other Voices

The Erickson Report, Page 1: "Deal of the Century" - Other Voices

I noted last time that I would refrain from taking a real look at Tweetie-pie's "Deal of the Century" for Israel and the Palestinians because the text was being released almost literally at the same time I was recording the show so I would hold off until this time so we have the actual plan before us.

Well, it's this time now and the deal is every bit as bad as predicted. Wait, no that's wrong: Because as I said last time, with Tweetie-pie, the actuality is almost always worse than the prediction. And so it is here.

This thing is a monstrosity. It is horrendous, evil, bigoted, a slap in the face - make that a kick in the gut - make that two kicks in the gut and another to the head - not only of the Palestinians but to anyone who has held on to any shred of a hope for anything better out of the gang of thugs making up the US and Israeli governments. I could spend the entire show on how bad this is, in fact I probably will, on how much it reveals the not so much pro-Israel as anti-Palestinian bias at the heart of not just Trumpian but US foreign policy on the issue.

How bad is it? A few quotes:

Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied territories, says the deal doesn’t offer Palestinians a state but "a 21st century bantustan," consisting of "scattered archipelagos of non-contiguous territory completely surrounded by Israel."

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, says that under the plan,
Palestinians will not have self-determination and will continue to be completely dependent on Israel’s goodwill, with no political rights and no way to influence their future.
They will, the group went on, continue to be at the mercy of Israel’s draconian "permit regime" and would in fact be worse off because the plan "perpetuates the situation and gives it recognition." The group's executive director, Hagai El-Ad, added that “What the Palestinians are being ‘offered’ now is not rights or a state, but a permanent state of Apartheid."

Al-Haq, a Palestinian NGO that has special consultative status with the UN, declares that the proposal “rewards Israel for its illegal colonization of the occupied Palestinian territory" by allowing Israel to annex more territory, "in flagrant violation of international law."

Daniel Levy, president of the U.S./Middle East Project and a former Israeli government negotiator under Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, labeled it "a hate plan, not a peace plan" where "the language of peace had been cut and pasted, then put through a grinder, delivering an act of aggression dripping with the coarse syntax of racism," a plan which "oozes colonialist supremacism."

Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, called the plan "insidious" and "little more than a piece of political malware masquerading as a credible diplomatic initiative," one intended "not to bring about peace but to normalize the status quo, including Israel’s military rule over millions of Palestinians, and render it permanent."

Tareq Baconi, an analyst for The Crisis Group observed that “The plan sets out parameters that are impossible for Palestinians to accept, and effectively provides Israel with a blueprint to sustain the one-state reality that exists on the ground.”

For its part, on February 4 the European Union rejected the plan and opposed any Israeli move to annex more territory.

Oh, and Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren rejected the plan, along with fellow Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Chris Murphy and Reps. Mark Pocan, Pramila Jaypal, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Andy Levin, and Debbie Dingell.

The Erickson Report for February 12-25



The Erickson Report for February 12-25

[A note about sources: Pages 1-6 were originally to be one long piece and I usually only cite a reference the first time I use it. Which means some things in Page 2 may be based on references listed under Page 1, and so on.]

The Erickson Report, Page 1: "Deal of the Century" - Other Voices
https://fair.org/home/media-urge-palestinians-to-take-crumbs-because-democracy-is-not-on-offer/
https://prospect.org/world/dont-call-it-a-peace-plan-israel-palestine-trump/
https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/29/trump-middle-east-peace-plan-trojan-horse-israel-occupation-permanent/
https://www.crisisgroup.org/
https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/eu-rejects-trump-mideast-plan-amid-annexation-concerns-68745475
https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/anti-peace-plan-many-democrats-are-denouncing-trumps-deal-century

The Erickson Report, Page 2: "Deal of the Century" - What's wrong with it
https://theintercept.com/2020/01/28/trump-netanyahu-dictate-terms-palestinian-surrender-israel-call-peace/
https://www.jns.org/knesset-makes-it-official-israel-is-a-jewish-state/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm
https://fair.org/home/ending-palestinian-statehood-as-path-to-palestinian-statehood/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Shana_Haba%27ah

The Erickson Report, Page 3: "Deal of the Century" - a "State of Palestine"
https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/revealed-trumps-deal-century-map-future-palestine-israel
https://www.alternet.org/2020/01/buried-in-the-trump-netanyahu-deal-is-an-effort-to-torpedo-a-war-crimes-investigation/
https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/01/14/justice-at-last-panic-in-israel-as-the-icc-takes-momentous-step-in-the-right-direction/
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/icc-judges-dash-hopes-swift-probe-israeli-war-crimes

The Erickson Report, Page 4: "Deal of the Century" - What about Israel?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEbwZfkeIt8
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/israeli-forces-prepare-demolish-100-palestinian-homes-190722032443910.html
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/No-daylight-between-Trump-Netanyahu-but-will-the-sun-set-on-annexation-617049
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Netanyahu-We-want-to-annex-settlements-with-US-support-not-without-it-617113

The Erickson Report, Page 5: "Deal of the Century" - an old game
http://whoviating.blogspot.com/2004/11/yasser-arafat.html
http://whoviating.blogspot.com/2004/07/peas-in-pod.html

The Erickson Report, Page 6: "Deal of the Century" - a Footnote
https://www.juancole.com/2020/02/blocking-palestinian-apartheid.html

Two Weeks of Stupid - Clowns and Outrages [the Clown]
https://www.mediamatters.org/fox-friends/fox-news-doctor-blames-obamacare-americans-dying-preventable-illnesses
Two Weeks of Stupid - Clowns and Outrages [the Outrage]
https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/31/us-trump-administration-abandons-landmine-ban
https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/10/03/united-states-landmine-policy-questions-and-answers
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/31/bringing-back-archaic-and-gruesome-weapons-trump-reverses-us-restrictions-landmines
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-107/

Saturday, February 01, 2020

The Erickson Report, Page 6: RIP

The Erickson Report, Page 6: RIP

We end with two extremely brief RIPs.

Terry Jones, a founding member of Monty Python's Flying Circus, died of a rare form of dementia at home at home in Highgate, London, on January 21. He was 77.

And LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26. He was 41.

The world is a bit darker today.

The Erickson Report, Page 5: We Are Not Alone

The Erickson Report, Page 5: We Are Not Alone

Now for an occasional segment called We Are Not Alone, when we remind ourselves that we are not alone on this planet and newsworthy things happen in places beyond our borders.

First we go to India, which has seen weeks of protests which have resulted in over two dozen protesters killed by police. The protesters, mostly but not exclusively Muslim, are opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, which was passed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government in December.

The CAA offers an accelerated pathway to citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, and Christian immigrants in India claiming religious persecution. The claim is that it is protection for people facing such persecution in neighboring countries, but the law will not bear the weight of that claim.

First, for the first time in the history of India as an independent nation and apparently contrary to its constitution, it makes religious affiliation a basis for citizenship and what's more does it in a discriminatory way: You may have noticed that Muslim immigrants claiming religious persecution in their home countries are not covered by that law.

Second, it does not require proof of claims of religious persecution on the part of those it does cover.

Third, it only applies to certain neighboring countries, specifically Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (marked in red). It does not apply to other neighboring countries such as China, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka (marked in blue), in all three of which there is documented evidence of persecution of religious minorities: Christians, Buddhists, and Uighur - who are Muslim - in China, the Royhingya, who are majority Muslim, in Myanmar, and Muslims in Sri Lanka.

India and neighbors
The difference in those two sets of countries is not a coincidence, which becomes even clearer when you consider that those marked in red are majority Muslim with Muslim governments - while those marked in blue are neither.

The law is part of and reflects a wave of extremist Hindu nationalism which has swept over India, where it has become commonplace for senior political figures to refer to Muslim immigrant workers as “infiltrators” or “termites" and to move to create a National Register of Citizens, requiring the production of documents to prove you are a citizen, an obstacle that of course will leave out many. But don't worry: Amit Shah, the home minister of India, has promised that the CAA will help anyone who fails that requirement to reclaim their citizenhip - except, that is, for Muslims who, again, are not covered by that law.
The law has been challenged in the courts as well as in the streets. We'll have to see what happens.

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Another place that has seen demonstrations for some months is Iraq.

For three months, protesters all across Iraq but particularly in the south have been demanding the fall of a government they consider corrupt and controlled by Iran. Between 600 and 700 protesters are believed to have been killed by security forces or militia gunmen in that time.
Despite the official violence, protests have been strong enough that Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi announced in November he would resign - but he is still in place as a caretaker because no one has been found to replace him, something I suspect Mahdi knew when he made the offer. Those who have come forward have been rejected by the protesters because of their various parties' ties to Iran and other foreign countries, which is pretty much exactly what is being protested.

Thousands of protesters have turned out every day in Baghdad, turning the central Tahrir Square into a sort of community - pitching tents and organizing meals, even having doctors and dentists providing services.

Iraq
On January 24, separately from the occupation in Tahrir Square, a huge throng turned out in Baghdad to demand the withdrawal of US forces from the country. Many came out in response to a call from powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political bloc controls the most seats in Parliament and who had been to that point supportive of the on-going protests.

But then al-Sadr reversed course and withdrew his support for the anti-government protests with the lame excuse of wanting to avoid “internal strife” - truly a strange sentiment coming immediately after a mass demonstration that he called for. It was not the first time in his political history that he has suddenly changed direction, but this one had immediate and violent consequences, as the very next day, January 25,  Iraqi security forces moved against the Tahrir Square protests.
They fired tear gas, they fired live ammunition, they burned tents as they stormed bridges, streets, and a highway interchange.
And not just in Baghdad: In the southern city of Nasriyah, at least three protesters were killed when security forces moved in to re-open a highway blocked by the demonstrations.

Altogether, at least 12 protesters were killed and 230 more were wounded by the assaults.
Without the support of al-Sadr, the broad-based and secular protest movement is likely to be crushed by government security forces and the Iran-backed militias ostensibly under government control.

But the protesters vowed not to give up and many said that would spend the night in Tahrir Square to try to hold it against government forces. As night fell, the Iraqi national anthem could be heard being sung there.

I'm sure more on this has happened since I recorded this. You should check it out.

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Horn of Africa
Meanwhile, east Africa has gone Biblical: A plague of locusts has spread across Ethiopia and Somalia into Kenya.

Over 100 billion of the insects, each of which consumes its own weight in food every day, are swarming through a region already reeling from a 2019 that started with drought and ended with deadly floods. The invasion is the biggest in Ethiopia and Somalia in 25 years, and the biggest in Kenya in 70 years.

Technically, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the FAO, labels the current invasion an "upsurge." Only if it gets worse and cannot be contained over a year or more, does it become a "plague." But I doubt that matters to those affected as they see crops and pasture devastated in a region which is already one of the poorest and most vulnerable in the world.

And worse may be on the way. When rains arrive in March and bring new vegetation across much of the region, the numbers of the fast-breeding locusts could grow to 500 times what they are now before drier weather in June curbs their spread - which by then could include Uganda and South Sudan.

Locals have employed traditional means of fighting the onslaught: banging on cans, waving blankets, shaking trees, anything to keep the locusts moving and flying rather than eating. But the only effective means is aerial spraying of pesticides and it needs to be done before the March rains. Some is being done now, but not enough.

So what will it take to step up the spraying? According to the FAO, about $70 million in aid. Not billion, million. That's a little more than 1/3 of what Mike Bloomberg and Tom Steyer have spent on TV ads. That's about 50 minutes worth of our military spending.

And the hungry of the world still need to beg.

By the way, does this have anything to do with climate change? Yes.

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Epicenter of earthquake in Turkey
More bad news: A major earthquake hit eastern Turkey on January 24, leaving at least 38 dead and more than 1,600 injured.
At least 76 buildings were destroyed and hundreds more were heavily damaged.

The epicenter of the magnitude 6.7 quake was near the town of Sivrice, in eastern Elazig province about 565 kilometers (350 miles) east of the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Hundreds of aftershocks, one with a magnitude of 5.4, complicated relief efforts, which nonetheless saw dozens of people pulled from the rubble as 3500 rescue experts worked around the clock in sub-freezing temperatures.

This is neither the first nor the worst quake to hit Turkey; in fact, there was one in the same area ten years ago that killed 51 people and in 1999 two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey, killing around 18,000. But I don't imagine that is any comfort to the families of those killed this time.

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I'm going to end this segment with this and I have a particular reason for putting it here.

US Women's March
The fourth annual Women's March was on January 18. Thousands turned out in Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, and a number of other places in what NPR called as "a smaller but passionate crowd" which AP described as "focused on issues such as climate change, pay equity, reproductive rights, and immigration."

Okay, so why is this under "We Are Not Alone?" To make the point that this is not a US issue, this is not a US campaign, this is not a US effort. This is a world issue, a world campaign, a world effort.

On January 18 there were over 200 marches covering 24 countries across six continents. This is a worldwide campaign for women's freedom - by which I mean women's rights, women's dignity, women's autonomy. The issues women face vary from place to place and I daresay in intensity from place to place. But it still comes under one banner, one umbrella, one headline, one non-negotiable, bottom-line principle: women as full and equal human beings.

The Erickson Report, Page 4: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrages]

The Erickson Report, Page 4: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrages]

Now for the Outrages and we certainly had enough to choose from.

We had Tucks Carlson capping Faux News months-long attacks on the homeless with his own week-long diatribe against San Francisco and the homeless problem there under the claim that it's all because of "liberalism" - because, as is well known, the way you make people homeless is by caring about them.

We had examples of the Tweetie-pie gang just openly ignoring a court order not to deport someone who was challenging their deportation order - and worse, getting away with it because the court was too cowardly use its contempt powers.

We had that same gang finalizing a rule to roll back clean water protections for streams and wetlands, affecting not only areas protected by a 2015 rule but even some covered by the original Clean Water Act of 1972, overturning pollution controls that have stood for nearly 50 years.

However, our runner-up is an outrage I'm not going to talk about. It's one I was going to talk it about even though it technically hasn't happened yet: It's Tweetie-pie's so-called "Deal of the Century" for Israel and supposedly for Palestinians although from what's known of it certainly doesn't look that way. I was going to go over it based on what it was expected to include but as it develops it is being released almost literally the same moment I am recording this so I will hold off until next time when we can look at it more closely if only because with Tweetie-pie, the actuality is almost always worse than the prediction.

What we can say now is that based on what's known and expected, it is indeed the "Deal of the Century" for Israel - if the century is the 16th or 17th, full of colonialism, expansionism, oppression, and might makes right.

But if you really want an outrage, you have to go to the source, the real source of too many outrages. You have to go to Washington, DC. No, not the White House: Many of those outrages can be undone by a new administration. No, you have to leave the White House and go past the other end of the National Mall - to the Supreme Court.

You may recall that back in October I noted a proposal to greatly expand the definition of a "public charge" under immigration law and so also greatly restrict the number of people who could get green cards, cutting legal immigration by an estimated two-thirds.

There long had been an understanding that the term "public charge," which had no specific definition in law, referred to people who as immigrants would be primarily dependent on cash benefits from the government - more simply, they would be mostly on welfare.

Supreme Clown
The Whitest House wants to dramatically expand that definition to include noncash benefits such as Medicaid, supplemental nutrition aid - that is, SNAP, still often called Food Stamps - and federal housing assistance. Even using subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to purchase health insurance on an exchange could be affected. Anyone predicted to use any such benefits for more than 12 months out of any three year period would be denied a green card and note that is a standard that millions, even tens of millions, of our fellow citizens could not meet.

The proposal has been under legal challenge in multiple jurisdictions with mixed results. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a nationwide injunction, barring the change from being enforced while those suits worked their way through the courts.

But on January 27, the Supreme Court overturned that injunction, freeing Tweetie-pie's thugs to start turning away anyone they think is not rich enough - or white enough - to merit their imperial favor.

It's hard to grasp the moral depravity of this decision. Injunctions are supposed to consider the idea of "irreparable harm." Where is the irreparable harm to the administration, to anyone at all, in letting "public charge" continue to be understood the same way it has been all along while the suits work their way through the courts? None that I can find. On the other hand, the irreparable harm to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who will be denied entry across that same time is manifest and undeniable.

There is just as clearly no denying that people, people denied the chance to flee the crime, the violence, the oppression, the hunger, that drives them to seek refuge in a foreign country, that people will die because of this decision. That a majority of the Supreme Court just doesn't care is an affront to basic human decency. It is indeed an Outrage.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Erickson Report, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]

The Erickson Report, Page 3: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]

And now for our regular segment, Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages. And as usual we start with the Clowns.

Our second runner-up for the Clown Award this time is the administration of Whitefield Academy, a private Christian school in Louisville, Kentucky.

Kayla Kenney turned 15 in December and her mother organized a party with a few friends and family at a local restaurant, for which she also supplied a cake from a local bakery, having requested one with colors that "pop."

It turned out that the by coincidence cake’s rainbow motif mirrored the design on Kayla's sweatshirt - which was enough for Whitefield Academy to expel her, writing in a dismissal letter that the photo "demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that" of the reactionary school's outdated, outmoded, and bigoted philosophy.

There's been a lot of fuss and feathers in the wake of this about if Kayla is LGBTQ or not or about supposed "previous problems" at the school, but one thing remains unaltered: For the administration of Whitefield Academy, you not only can't be LGBTQ, you can't even look LGBTQ, even unintentionally. And that clearly makes them Clowns.

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Our first-runner-up is MSNBC and in particular weekend anchor Joy Ann Reid.

You know about the kerfuffle between Liz Warren and Bernie Sanders. On that I will just say that I don't think either one handled it particularly well as neither of them ever raised the possibility of it all being a simple misunderstanding. But Reid went totally wonko.

Joy Ann Reid
On January 18 she had on a "body language expert" - which is not a real thing - a self-proclaimed "body language expert" named Janine Driver to claim without challenge that based on "eye level" and the "turtling of his shoulders" that Sanders lied when he denied telling Warren that a woman could not be president.

Driver, who has also endorsed a claim that Obama ordered the CIA to train ISIS, appears to be a personal friend of Joe Biden. Clearly, an unimpeachable and unbiased source.

As for Reid, an early and active pusher of the fictitious "Bernie-bro" line, she has hated Sanders ever since - and because - he challenged Hillary Clinton in 2016. Again, totally trustworthy. And a Clown.

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But our winner is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2015, a group of 21 young folks aged 11 to 22 sued the US government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property by enacting policies that contributed to the climate crisis.

the plaintiffs
In a mind-boggling 2-1 decision, a panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed with the suit's contentions that the climate crisis has brought the world close to the "eve of destruction" and that "the government's contribution to climate change is not simply a result of inaction" - that is, it's not just what the federal government hasn't done, it's also what it has.

And then after agreeing with the plaintiff's argument, the majority threw up its hands and said their case "must be made to the political branches or to the electorate at large." In other words, "nuthin' to do with us."

But the whole point of judicial review is to provide a remedy when people "are suffering harms to fundamental rights at the hands of other branches of government." As Carroll Muffett of the Center for International Environmental Law put it, "courts have a long history of doing precisely what the panel says they cannot do here."

This was not a judicial decision, it was a political one on the part of judges too cowardly to take responsibility for the meaning of their own findings of fact. And that very clearly makes them Cowns.

The Erickson Report, Page 2: The economy

The Erickson Report, Page 2: The economy

Something we haven't talked about recently is the economy but I want to now because of a welcome development in how we discuss the issue, in how we regard the issue, and that welcome development is an increasing awareness of how the ways in which we have viewed and measured our national economic health have failed us and no longer tell us the truth if indeed they ever did.

I mean, look, this is what we're told: The stock market is doing fine, GDP is up, the number of jobs is growing, unemployment is low, the economy is booming! What's not to like?

This is what's not to like: According to a study this past fall by the Brookings Institution,
53 million Americans between the ages of 18 to 64 - accounting for 44% of all workers - qualify as “low-wage.” Their median hourly wages are $10.22, and median annual earnings are about $18,000.
Forty-four percent of American workers are in low-wage jobs. That study and others are going beyond the old standard looking at the unemployment rate or the number of jobs to ask: What sort of jobs? Not that many decades ago, certainly at the time I was entering the full-time workforce, we were able to assume - at least it was not unreasonable to assume - that a person employed full-time, year-round would make enough to support a family or at the very worst get by.

That simply is no longer true. Indeed, it hasn't been true for some time.

And the research and numbers are there to back that up. A new standard of measurement, called the Jobs Quality Index, or JQI, takes each month's job report from the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the BLS, and determines the extent to which the number of jobs is weighted towards more desirable higher-wage/longer-hour jobs compared to lower-wage/shorter-hour jobs. As such, the JQI serves as a proxy for the overall health of the US jobs market and the US economy.

And its graph of the trend since 1990 clearly demonstrates an overall decline in job quality, meaning an increasing number of crappy jobs that do more to benefit corporate profits and the 1% compared to good jobs that could benefit most people and support families. In the words of Dan Alpert, an investment banker and Cornell Law School professor who helped to design the JQI,
The problem is that the quality of the stock of jobs on offer has been deteriorating for the last 30 years.”
And let's dump once and for all the lie that those low-wage jobs are first or entry-level jobs for teenagers and new grads. That's not true and, again, hasn't been true for some time. That Brookings Institution study notes that 30% of low-wage workers live in families earning below 150% of the poverty line. Some 26% of low-wage workers are the only earners in their families, getting by on median annual earnings of about $20,000. Yet another 25% live in families in which there is more than one worker but they all earn low wages, with median family earnings of about $42,000, which is just 2/3 of the national median family income.

What's more, according to fivethirtyeight.com, in the 1990s, 1/5 of minimum wage workers were still making minimum wage a year later. Now it's up to 1/3. And of those who do make more, 2/3 are still within 10% of minimum wage. Put together, it means that nearly 80% of minimum wage workers are making no more than minimum wage plus 10% a year later. And more and more people are completely stuck at that minimum wage level.

Jobs Quality Indix - January 1990 to September 2019
And it's not just low-wage workers who are getting nowhere: Bankrate’s Financial Security Poll reports that in 2018, 62% of American workers got no raise. In 2019, 51% got no raise.

The overall picture is no no better: The BLS reported on January 14 that real average hourly earnings increased just 0.6 percent in 2019 - but that combined with a 0.6-percent decrease in the average workweek resulting in essentially no change in real average weekly earnings.

Indeed, that wage stagnation is also of long standing. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank, notes that real median weekly earnings are barely above what they were when Tweetie-pie took office and the median wage of a full-time male worker is still more than 3% below what it was 40 years ago. Forty years of effort to wind up behind where you started.

People already understand this, that's why in a recent poll over 70% supported a federal jobs guarantee for the unemployed.

That's why the Pew Research Center can report that 70% of American adults say our economic system unfairly favors large corporations and the rich.

That's why a Harris poll last year found that 40% of voters and 55% of women 18-54 said they would prefer to live in a "socialist" country, understood here as one providing universal health care, tuition-free education, and a decent day's wage for a decent day's work.

American workers know they're getting screwed, they've known it for some time. Now at last the "experts" are catching on.

The Erickson Report, Page 1: Following Up

The Erickson Report, Page 1: Following Up

We start with a quick follow-up on something I mentioned last time, that Puerto Rico was still waiting for billions of dollars in aid authorized by Congress for relief in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

It seems that Tweetie-pie has finally been pressured enough that on January 15 he released $16 billion of that amount - but only with conditions attached that appear intended to continue to sabotage the relief and repair.

For one, there is a ban on paying Puerto Rico's minimum wage, $15 an hour, on the projects the federal money funds. What's more, none of the money can be used to restore the island's power grid.

Laughably, these are claimed to be "anti-corruption" measures - because, obviously, paying the local minimum wage is corrupt.

So even after they ran out of stalls, the white supremacists populating the White House still searched out for ways to make it hard for Puerto Rico to recover.

As Hunter, a staff writer at Daily Kos noted, "The reasons for these acts can only be speculated on but are not, in the slightest, hard to imagine."

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Erickson Report for January 29 to February 11




The Erickson Report for January 29 to February 11

This week:

- Following Up
https://www.alternet.org/2020/01/trump-team-finally-releases-billions-in-hurricane-relief-for-puerto-rico-with-major-strings-attached/

- The economy
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2019/11/21/low-wage-work-is-more-pervasive-than-you-think-and-there-arent-enough-good-jobs-to-go-around/
https://www.jobqualityindex.com/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2019/12/05/understanding-the-us-economy-lots-of-rotten-jobs/#38ace8c32d97
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/its-getting-harder-to-move-beyond-a-minimum-wage-job/
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/20/1912013/-Year-over-year-inflation-adjusted-wages-rose-0-in-2019-51-of-workers-got-no-raises
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/realer.htm
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/grim-truth-about-trump-economy-by-joseph-e-stiglitz-2020-01
https://thehill.com/hilltv/468236-majority-of-voters-support-a-federal-jobs-guarantee-program
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/01/09/70-of-americans-say-u-s-economic-system-unfairly-favors-the-powerful/
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/19/2020-reminder-55-us-women-between-18-and-54-would-rather-live-under-socialism

- Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]
https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/01/15/rainbowcakewhitefieldacademy/
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/18/why-no-one-trusts-media-msnbc-slammed-featuring-body-language-expert-who-calls
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/18/our-planet-seriously-burning-and-adults-keep-letting-us-down-ninth-circuit-throws

- Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrages]
https://www.mediamatters.org/fox-news/fox-news-has-spent-months-demonizing-homelessness-california-now-trump-wants-major
https://www.mediamatters.org/tucker-carlson/tucker-carlsons-weeklong-smear-homeless-amounted-little-more-hateful-broken-windows
https://www.alternet.org/2020/01/the-trump-regime-is-just-ignoring-judicial-rulings-they-dont-like-should-dems-take-notes/
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/23/biggest-loss-clean-water-protection-country-has-ever-seen-trump-guts-safeguards-us
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/23/1913532/-Trump-regime-finalizes-move-allowing-pollution-and-destruction-of-wetlands-protected-by-Obama-rule
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/23/netanyahu-join-trump-next-week-announce-deal-century-peace-plan-giving-israel
https://whoviating.blogspot.com/2019/10/the-erickson-report-page-3-two-weeks-of_18.html
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/1/8/1910205/-Appeals-court-keeps-in-place-nationwide-block-of-Trump-admin-s-discriminatory-public-charge-rule
https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/27/politics/supreme-court-immigration-public-charge/index.html
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/5-4-ruling-supreme-court-allows-trump-plan-deny-green-n1124056
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/27/shameful-disgusting-disgraceful-outrage-after-supreme-court-allows-trumps-public

- We Are Not Alone
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-01-24/muslim-women-occupy-streets-in-india-against-citizenship-law
https://www.npr.org/2020/01/25/798858125/our-democracy-is-in-danger-muslims-in-india-say-police-target-them-with-violence
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/27/opinion/india-constitution-protests.html
https://www.npr.org/2020/01/25/799507583/iraqi-security-forces-storm-tahrir-square-clash-with-protesters
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/01/iraqis-protest-u-s-occupation-following-the-killing-of-iranian-general-qassem-soleimani.amp
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51247833
https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/26/middleeast/iraq-protests-clashes-intl/index.html
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/01/200125090150459.html
https://time.com/5771621/locust-swarms-africa/
https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/25/europe/turkey-earthquake-intl/index.html
https://time.com/5771867/turkey-earthquake-rescue-teams-death-toll/
https://www.aol.com/article/news/2020/01/25/death-toll-stands-22-in-turkish-earthquake-1000-hurt/23908543/
https://www.npr.org/2020/01/18/797638115/womens-march-draws-a-smaller-but-passionate-crowd
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/women-s-march-draws-thousands-rallies-across-county-n1118416
https://twitter.com/womensmarchgbal
https://womensmarchglobal.org/

- RIP
https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/22/entertainment/terry-jones-dies-scli-gbr-intl/index.html
https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/jan/22/terry-jones-obituary
https://www.chron.com/sports/rockets/article/Kobe-Bryant-reportedly-dead-in-California-15005767.php

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Erickson Report, Page 5: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrages]

The Erickson Report, Page 5: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Outrages]

And now we go to the Outrages and we're a bit short of time so there will only be two of them.

First, some outfit called stopantisemitism.org has announced its Anti-Semite of the Year. And with the evidence of an upsurge in antisemitism to be found in any day's news - and the group offers plenty of examples - it should be easy to find someone truly deserving of the title of biggest anti-Semite of 2019.

But who did they come up with? Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, the "evidence" for this, if I can stretch the word that far, consisting mostly of a list of dredged-up and long-settled bull about statements she made last spring, statements which did reveal an embarrassing lack of knowledge about the history of anti-Semitism on her part but revealed no actual anti-Semitism, especially considering she apologized for that lack of knowledge and in fact thanked people for pointing it out to her.

One claim reprised here which I always thought was nonsensical was that it was anti-Semitic of her to suggest that Jewish groups try to buy political influence with money. Of course they do! Just like any other interest group! Do you think that when the health insurance industry gives big bucks to Pete Buttigieg they are not trying to buy influence with his campaign? Do you think that when the big telecoms spread cash around to various candidates they are not trying to buy influence with those campaigns and subsequently with what bills those candidates do and do not support? If I point that obvious truth out, does that mean I am anti-health care or anti-telecommunications? Don't be stupid.

Instead, let's be truthful: Ultimately, this is not about a handful of unrevealing tweets. This is all about her support of the BDS movement and Palestinian rights. That's the point of this smear, that's the purpose of this smear, that's why she is being labeled a huge anti-Semite. It's about equating the BDS movement and Palestinian rights with anti-Semitism.

Ilhan Omar
That isn't attacking anti-Semitism, that's weaponizing anti-Semitism for political purposes and that is a  outrage. What's revealed here is nothing about Ilhan Omar but rather that antisemitism.org, which says it is part of a non-profit foundation but doesn't say what one and which itself engages in the anti-Semitic trope of "the self-hating Jew," is part of that reactionary right-wing core that wants to establish the idea that any criticism of Israel or Israeli government policy is by definition antisemitism.

Which doubtless makes me an anti-Semite in their minds, because I do support Palestinian rights and I do support the BDS movement (without feeling, I note, obliged to support all of its leaders). And when 2019 saw a 45-percent increase in demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian homes in the West Bank over 2018, I find a lot about Israel and Israeli policy to criticize.

Footnote: On January 6, citing the group's report, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, directly meddled in US domestic politics, encouraging "action" against Omar. Oddly enough, one of the things Omar was accused of was making an accusation of "dual loyalty" because she objected to the notion that intense support of Israel is effectively a political requirement for gaining and holding office in the US. Apparently that kind of support is exactly what Ambassador Danon expects.

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https://www.alternet.org/2020/01/trump-accused-of-disgraceful-abdication-of-duty-for-proposal-to-neuter-landmark-environmental-law/
One more for the road: On January 3, the New York Times reported that the Tweetie-pie White House is about to expand its open war on environmental protection by going after its bedrock law, the law that has been called the Magna Carta of environmental legislation.

It is the National Environmental Policy Act and it is 50 years old, having been signed into law on January 1, 1970. This landmark law charges the federal government and its agencies with a responsibility to promote environmental protection, preservation, and restoration, and notes the responsibility each generation has to act as trustee of the environment for the generations to follow.

For fifty years it has provided the legal basis for environmental review of, and public input on, projects that impact the environment.

And now Tweetie-pie is planning to wreck it by redefining what the law does and does not do by:
- narrowing the definition of what type of project requires an environmental review,
- expanding the number of project categories that can be excluded from review,
- allowing companies or developers to conduct their own environmental assessments, and
- dropping entirely any requirement to consider cumulative, rather than just immediate, impacts - meaning not only that you could, for example, build a road without considering the effect of traffic or a pipeline without addressing the risk of a spill, but that any effect on climate change would be clearly beyond the law's reach.

Outrageous and nauseating.

And by the way, Australia is still on fire.

The Erickson Report, Page 4: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]

The Erickson Report, Page 4: Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages [the Clowns]

So now to our regular feature, Two Weeks of Stupid: Clowns and Outrages. And as usual, we are starting with some Clowns.

Okay, right at the top, we've done it again. I swear, Americans can be such clowns.

According to a Morning Consult poll, even as tensions between the US and Iran were rising in the wake of the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, only 23% of registered voters could locate Iran on an unlabled map of the world. Only 28% could do it even on a map zoomed in to just Europe, north Africa, and the Middle East.

Even broken down by sex, age, political party, education, and income, in not one subcategory of any of those groupings did the figure rise above 39%.

Notably, there were no statistical differences in support for the strike - or on a host of broader related questions - between those who could identify Iran on a map and those who could not. You know enough about the world to find Iran on a map? Makes no difference to what you think about the assassination. Have no flipping idea where it is - some guesses put it in the middle of the US? Makes no difference.

We really are clowns.

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Tweetie-pie Jr.
Okay, you want a jaw-droppingly stupid Clown? I feel like doing this like that scene from the Harry Potter movie "The Goblet of Fire": "Give me the wretch's name!" "Donald J. Trump ... junior!"

Two days after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, at the very time tensions threatened to spiral totally out of control, Tweetie-pie The Lesser thought it was a great time to post a photo of himself to Instagram showing him smiling while holding a custom AR-15 rifle adorned not only with an image of Hillary Clinton behind bars but also a “Crusader” cross, which has become a symbol of a Christian religious war against Islam and is now used by white supremacists.

He referred to the images as "adding a little extra awesome" to his manhood machine. I see them as describing a spoiled rich kid imagining himself as daringly poking an Iranian hornet's nest while knowing he'd not be among the ones stung.

Idiot. Dolt. Clown.

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Former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher - you remember him, he was the one who was so bloodthirsty in Afghanistan that he was turned in by members of his own platoon, who called him “evil” and “toxic” but after being convicted at court-martial was pardoned by Tweetie-pie - yeah, that Edward Gallagher, has started his own line of clothing. It's called Salty Frog, a nickname for retired SEALs, and is described as a “coastal lifestyle brand with an edge.”

You'd think being an accused war criminal would not be a good foundation for a business, but it appears that these days you'd be wrong.

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Earlier this month, singer, self-proclaimed sex god, and walking illustration of the Dunning-Kruger Effect Meat Loaf said he “feels” for Greta Thunberg, claiming she has been "brainwashed" and "forced into" into believing in climate change is real - which, he insists, it isn't.

Hey, Mr. Loaf as the New York Times has called you, you may think 2 out of 3 ain't bad, but when it comes to being a clown, you're not just 3 out of 3, you're 10 out of 10.

Oh and by the way: Australia is still on fire.
 
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