WordPress database error: [You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MariaDB server version for the right syntax to use near ') AND t2.taxonomy = 'post_tag' AND p2.post_status = 'publish' AND p1.ID...' at line 13]
SELECT DISTINCT terms2.term_id as tag_id, terms2.name as tag_name, null as tag_link FROM wp_posts as p1 LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships as r1 ON p1.ID = r1.object_ID LEFT JOIN wp_term_taxonomy as t1 ON r1.term_taxonomy_id = t1.term_taxonomy_id LEFT JOIN wp_terms as terms1 ON t1.term_id = terms1.term_id, wp_posts as p2 LEFT JOIN wp_term_relationships as r2 ON p2.ID = r2.object_ID LEFT JOIN wp_term_taxonomy as t2 ON r2.term_taxonomy_id = t2.term_taxonomy_id LEFT JOIN wp_terms as terms2 ON t2.term_id = terms2.term_id WHERE t1.taxonomy = 'category' AND p1.post_status = 'publish' AND terms1.term_id IN () AND t2.taxonomy = 'post_tag' AND p2.post_status = 'publish' AND p1.ID = p2.ID ORDER by tag_name

Biden Latest President To Tout the Vietnam War As Proud History

LA PROGRESSIVE, Norman Solomon, September 20, 2023

You might think that—after killing such a vast number of people in a war of aggression based on continuous deceptions—some humility and even penance would be in order.

When Joe Biden flew out of Hanoi last week, he was leaving a country where U.S. warfare caused roughly 3.8 million Vietnamese deaths. But, like every other president since the Vietnam War, he gave no sign of remorse. In fact, Biden led up to his visit by presiding over a White House ceremony that glorified the war as a noble effort.

Presenting the Medal of Honor to former Army pilot Larry L. Taylor for bravery during combat, Biden praised the veteran with effusive accolades for risking his life in Vietnam to rescue fellow soldiers from “the enemy.” But that heroism was 55 years ago. Why present the medal on national television just days before traveling to Vietnam?

The timing reaffirmed the shameless pride in the U.S. war on Vietnam that one president after another has tried to render as history. You might think that—after killing such a vast number of people in a war of aggression based on continuous deceptions—some humility and even penance would be in order.

But no. As George Orwell put it, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And a government that intends to continue its might-makes-right use of military power needs leaders who do their best to distort history with foggy rhetoric and purposeful omissions. Lies and evasions about past wars are prefigurative for future wars.

And so, at a press conference in Hanoi, the closest Biden came to acknowledging the slaughter and devastation inflicted on Vietnam by the U.S. military was this sentence: “I’m incredibly proud of how our nations and our people have built trust and understanding over the decades and worked to repair the painful legacy the war left on both our nations.”

In the process, Biden was pretending an equivalency of suffering and culpability for both countries—a popular pretense for commanders in chief ever since the first new one after the Vietnam War ended.

Two months into his presidency in early 1977, Jimmy Carter was asked at a news conference if he felt “any moral obligation to help rebuild that country.” Carter replied firmly: “Well, the destruction was mutual. You know, we went to Vietnam without any desire to capture territory or to impose American will on other people. We went there to defend the freedom of the South Vietnamese. And I don’t feel that we ought to apologize or to castigate ourselves or to assume the status of culpability.”


ALEC’s Funding Revealed

CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY, David Armiak, July 28, 2023  

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tries to rewrite the state laws that govern your rights, often benefiting huge corporations. A review of hundreds of tax filings by CMD reveals some of the top bankrollers of ALEC.

For years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has claimed to be “committed to transparency”—yet it refuses to disclose its donors on its website. 

When asked about this, ALEC’s CEO Lisa Nelson told the press that donor information is available in tax filings published on its website. But a review of those filings shows that although the organization’s Schedule B does include donation amounts, all donors’ names are redacted.


NYC Campaign Finance Board demands transparency from everyone — but itself

Gothamist, Brigid Bergin, July 17, 2023

In May, the New York City Campaign Finance Board announced that Beth Rotman, its executive director, had resigned after a seven-month tenure, citing the “need to move to care for an ailing family member.”

The statement did not tell the full story.

Following a Gothamist investigation, the board’s chair acknowledged that Rotman did not resign voluntarily as the agency publicly announced. Instead, she was asked to step aside following a board investigation into concerns about her management.

“On May 13, Ms. Rotman was informed the Board had lost confidence in her leadership of the agency and requested her resignation effective immediately,” Frederick Schaffer, the board’s chair, said in a statement.

In the two months since announcing Rotman’s departure, internal documents obtained by Gothamist along with interviews with more than 10 current and former colleagues show that the agency, which prides itself on accountability and transparency, is facing an internal integrity issue of its own making related to Rotman’s exit.

Rotman’s short tenure at the CFB, which is considered the nation’s gold standard for distributing and overseeing taxpayer dollars to the city’s political campaigns, was marred by concerns over her professionalism, management style and what colleagues called wasteful spending, internal records show. Gothamist reviewed memos, invoices, receipts, expense statements and resignation letters from the past year through a Freedom of Information Act request.

While Rotman’s time leading the agency was brief, the fallout included two senior staff members who resigned during her tenure, citing concerns about her leadership, according to resignation letters obtained by Gothamist, as well as thousands of dollars in high-end office furniture and personal expenses, like food delivery and restaurant tabs, that did not conform with city policy.

In two written statements to Gothamist, Rotman did not admit any wrongdoing, and instead touted her credentials and noted that she is still a “valued adviser” to the agency.

Rotman’s responses

Read Rotman’s full statements to Gothamist here and here.

“Our role is to keep people trusting us and to keep faith in the system so I certainly would never want to do anything but support this and do not believe that I have done so,” said Rotman. “I regret submitting anything without the necessary detail to demonstrate why expenses fell within exceptions.”

Although the board said it “lost confidence” in Rotman over her conduct, the CFB continued to keep her on the payroll as a special assistant to Schaffer, the board chair, and the interim executive director, at her existing $250,000 annual salary through July 14. It was part of a separation agreement to prevent Rotman from suing the city, according to a signed copy of the document obtained by Gothamist.

Read More: Gothamist

Charles Barron expected to lose City Council seat to Chris Banks

City & State, SAHALIE DONALDSON, June 29, 2023

The Black radical socialist has represented East New York for 21 of the past 22 years.

Just one New York City Council incumbent seemed poised to fall Tuesday: Charles Barron. In what is shaping up to be one of the biggest upsets of the night, Barron is all but sure to lose reelection to the City Council, bringing his more than two decades of representing East New York to an end. With 99% of scanners reporting in District 42, he trailed nonprofit director and community organizer Chris Banks by about 7 points, with just 43% of the vote.

A Banks win would mark the end of Barron and his wife Inez Barron’s longtime political hold in eastern Brooklyn. Since 2002, the couple has rotated between the same City Council and Assembly seats. District 42 includes most of East New York, Starrett City and sections of East Flatbush. Signs of the Barrons’ fading power were already apparent last year, when their handpicked successor Keron Alleyne lost the primary for Assembly District 60 to Nikki Lucas, who also defeated Inez Barron in the race for district leader.  

Banks and the Barrons have faced off before. Inez defeated Banks in the Democratic primary for an Assembly seat in 2012, and Charles beat him for the same seat in 2014. In between, Inez defeated Banks in the primary for this City Council seat in 2013. Nearly a decade later, things are different, as Banks benefited from the support of some powerful allies. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries backed his campaign, as did Attorney General Letitia James and much of organized labor. The Labor Strong coalition, the New York City District Council of Carpenters and the United Federation of Teachers all endorsed Banks, and some of them devoted significant money and resources to the race. According to campaign finance filings, super PACs affiliated with labor unions have reported spending at least $189,000 so far against Barron. 

“Tonight the results sent a pretty obvious message: If you stand with the @CarpentersNyc, we will have your back,” tweeted Kevin Elkins, political director of the New York City District Council of Carpenters. “If you screw us and the workers of New York City over then we will take you on and you will lose your election.” In a subsequent text message, Elkins told City & State that Barron “doesn’t answer calls, doesn’t care about making sure there are labor standards on projects in his district and union opportunities for his constituents.”

Barron, a former Black Panther who now identifies as a Black radical socialist, has proudly bucked mainstream Democratic support and alliances throughout his time in elected politics. He tried to block municipal unions’ deal with the Adams administration to shift retired workers onto Medicare Advantage plans, which earned him the enmity of powerful union leaders like District Council 37 president Henry Garrido. Barron was one of only a few City Council members to vote no on the city budget last year and one of just two who did not vote for Adrienne Adams to become City Council speaker. Kristin Richardson Jordan, the only other member not to vote for Adams, was a close ally of Barron but announced earlier this year that she would not seek reelection. That means the City Council will likely be losing two of its most left-leaning members by the start of the new term in 2024.

There are no Republicans running for election in District 42, so Banks will likely have a clear shot to the City Council. He has already declared victory in the primary against Barron. 

“The people held (Barron) accountable tonight and we thank them for the opportunity and, we’re moving forward as the Democratic nominee,” Banks told The City Tuesday night.

Read More: City & State

Arrest made in SF killing of Bob Lee — tech exec’s alleged killer also worked in tech

(Mission Local) JOE ESKENAZIAPRIL 13, 2023

Mission Local is informed that the San Francisco Police Department early this morning made an arrest in the April 4 killing of tech executive Bob Lee, following an operation undertaken outside the city’s borders. The alleged killer also works in tech and is a man Lee purportedly knew. 

We are told that police today were dispatched to Emeryville with a warrant to arrest a man named Nima Momeni. The name and Emeryville address SFPD officers traveled to correspond with this man, the owner of a company called Expand IT.

Multiple police sources have described the predawn knifing last week, which left the 43-year-old Lee dead in a deserted section of downtown San Francisco, as neither a robbery attempt nor a random attack. 

Rather, Lee and Momeni were portrayed by police as being familiar with one another. In the wee hours of April 4, they were purportedly driving together through downtown San Francisco in a car registered to the suspect. 

Some manner of confrontation allegedly commenced while both men were in the vehicle, and potentially continued after Lee exited the car. Police allege that Momeni stabbed Lee multiple times with a knife that was recovered not far from the spot on the 300 block of Main Street to which officers initially responded. 

This scenario would explain, in part, why Lee was walking through a portion of Main Street in which there is little to no foot traffic at 2:30 a.m. That was one of several incongruous circumstances surrounding Lee’s violent death, which law-enforcement sources, from the get-go felt made it far from a straightforward or random crime. 

Nevertheless, some of Lee’s fellow tech luminaries and a chorus of other influential voices portrayed this killing as part and parcel of a city awash in violent crime and on a descent into further chaos. While Lee is one of a dozen homicide victims in San Francisco this year, his is the only killing that has garnered national coverage — or, in most cases, even cursory local coverage. 

San Francisco’s other homicide victims in 2023 are Gavin Boston, 40; Irving Sanchez-Morales, 28; Carlos Romero Flores, 29; Maxwell Maltzman, 18; Demario Lockett, 44; Maxwell Mason, 29; Humberto Avila, 46; Gregory McFarland Jr, 36; Kareem Sims, 43; Debra Lynn Hord, 57; and Jermaine Reeves, 52.

Read More: Mission Local

Celebrating Daniel Ellsberg and a Courage Unconfined to the Past

COMMON DREAMS, Norman Solomon, April 11, 2023

In the closing time of his life, the famed whistleblower continues to speak out with urgency, in particular about the need for genuine diplomacy between the U.S. and Russia, as well as the U.S. and China, to avert nuclear war.

In just a few words—”those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future”—George Orwell summed up why narratives about history can be crucial. And so, ever since the final helicopter liftoff from the U.S. Embassy’s roof in Saigon on April 30, 1975, the retrospective meaning of the Vietnam War has been a matter of intense dispute.

The dominant spin has been dismal and bipartisan. “We went to Vietnam without any desire to capture territory or to impose American will on other people,” Jimmy Carter declared soon after entering the White House in early 1977. “We went there to defend the freedom of the South Vietnamese.” During the next decade, presidents ordered direct American military interventions on a much smaller scale, while the rationales were equally mendacious. Ronald Reagan ordered the 1983 invasion of Grenada, and George H.W. Bush ordered the 1989 invasion of Panama.

In early 1991, President Bush triumphantly proclaimed that reluctance to use U.S. military might after the Vietnam War had at last been vanquished. His exultation came after a five-week air war that enabled the Pentagon to kill upwards of 100,000 Iraqi civilians. “It’s a proud day for America,” Bush said. “And, by God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”


No Country for Nuclear Madmen

Everything that can be done must done to avert global nuclear annihilation.

COMMON DREAMS, Norman Solomon, March 28, 2023

Everything that can be done must done to avert global nuclear annihilation.

The announcement by President Vladimir Putin over the weekend that Russia will deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus marked a further escalation of potentially cataclysmic tensions over the war in neighboring Ukraine. As the Associated Press reported, “Putin said the move was triggered by Britain’s decision this past week to provide Ukraine with armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium.”

There’s always an excuse for nuclear madness, and the United States has certainly provided ample rationales for the Russian leader’s display of it. American nuclear warheads have been deployed in Europe since the mid-1950s, and current best estimates say 100 are there now—in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

Count on U.S. corporate media to (appropriately) condemn Putin’s announcement while dodging key realities of how the USA, for decades, has been pushing the nuclear envelope toward conflagration. The U.S. government’s breaking of its pledge not to expand NATO eastward after the fall of the Berlin Wall—instead expanding into 10 Eastern European countries—was only one aspect of official Washington’s reckless approach.


LABOR Why Unions Matter So Much

NYTIMES, David Leonhardt, March 10, 2023 

The shrinking of unions effectively redistributes income from low- and middle-income workers to affluent investors.

For decades, the Republican Party has seemed to care more about labor unions than the Democratic Party has.

Many Republican officials treat organized labor as their political enemy. When Republicans gain power in a state capital, they often try to pass “right to work” laws meant to shrink unions. And these laws have their intended effect: They reduce the number of workers who belong to unions, reduce Democrats’ share of the vote in elections and reduce the number of working-class candidates who run for office, academic research has found.

Modern Democratic politicians, on the other hand, have often sat out the political battle. Every Democratic president for decades, including Joe Biden, has said he favors a federal law to make it easier for workers to organize — and each of those presidents has failed to pass such a law. Democratic leaders in Congress also have not made labor law a priority. Nor have many Democratic governors.

Read More: NYTIMES

NYC Mayor Eric Adams faces thousands in fines for potential campaign finance violations

GOTHAMIST, Gwynne Hogan, March 15, 2023

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines for three alleged violations of campaign finance law based on issues stemming from his 2021 Transition and Inauguration Entity — a fund that recently elected candidates use to cover expenses after they win an election and before they officially take office.

Members of the city’s Campaign Finance Board have accused Adams of accepting prohibited donations, failing to respond to requests for information and documentation, and failing to close the fund once Adams became mayor in 2022.

The charges were published in an advisory and while the board didn’t disclose the exact amount Adams might have to pay during their public meeting Wednesday morning, it could range between roughly $20,000 to $50,000, based on the fines outlined by the board guidelines.

At the public hearing Wednesday board members and Adams’ attorneys discussed five allegations of “prohibited donations” amounting to a total of $15,600. Among those donors were four who had business before the city and were thus barred from donating to the mayor-to-be: a real estate developer, an architect and the head of a private carting company.

Adams attorney Ardian Tagani said the campaign had refunded the donations of concern, though some took months to return due to a clerical error. He argued that given Adams’ transition and inauguration entity raised more $1.9 million in total, the donations in question were “not problematic” since they represented just a fraction of funds collected overall.


More Than 1.2 Million March in France Over Plan To Raise Pension Age to 64

THE GUARDIAN, Angelique Chrisafis, March 9, 2023

More than 1.2 million protesters marched in France Tuesday as rail workers and refinery staff began rolling strikes and trade unions stepped up their campaign to try to stop Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the pension age to 64.

For the sixth time since the start of the year, trade unions called a nationwide day of strikes and demonstrations. Many protest rallies attracted bigger crowds than previous ones organised since mid-January, including in Marseille, one of France’s biggest cities, authorities and local media said.

“The idea is to bring France to a standstill,” said Fabrice Michaud of the railway workers’ branch of the CGT trade union.

Rail unions called for rolling, open-ended strikes, which could affect all national trains as well as international routes including the Eurostar. Bin collectors and truck drivers joined the action.

By midday, approximately 39% of workers at the state rail operator SNCF were on strike, a union source told Agence France-Presse – the highest number since the first strike against the pension changes on 19 January.

Local urban buses and subway trains in large cities were affected, as were airlines, with up to 30% of flights cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday as air traffic controllers went on strike. About 24% of public sector workers stopped work, and many schools closed as teachers held a one-day strike. Some students, including at Rennes 2 University in Brittany, began blockading faculties on Monday night.

Refinery and energy workers also took part in strikes. The CGT union said fuel deliveries from refineries across France had been blocked from Tuesday morning, which could see petrol stations running short if the protests continue.

“The government has to take this [resistance] into account when there are so many people in the street, when the government is having so much trouble explaining and passing their reform,” Laurent Berger, the head of the moderate CFDT union, said at a Paris demonstration.

Macron’s proposals to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and increase the number of years of work required to claim a full pension are being debated in the French senate.

Macron has been left severely undermined on the domestic front after his centrist grouping failed to win an absolute majority in parliamentary elections last June amid gains for the far right and radical left.