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Geopolitics / 🤡 The Crushing Dumbness of Donald Trump
« on: Today at 03:11:59 AM »

 The Slatest
The Crushing Dumbness of Donald Trump

By Elliot Hannon
Oct 22, 20189:24 PM

President Trump examines a fire truck from Wisconsin-based manufacturer Pierce on the South Lawn during a 'Made in America' product showcase event at the White House in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Olivier Douliery (Photo credit should read OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump is the president of the United States, which, to Donald, is great because it’s like being the star of a show that everyone has to watch, because they’re terrified of what he might do next. Trump has embraced that breezy you-never-know-and-I’ve-got-nukes vibe and, you’ll notice, really settled into himself on the stump as president, even though the stump is a place that most presidents avoid for much of their first term, in order to actually do the job of being president. Not Donald. Early on, he recognized the positive feedback loop of saying unthinkably dumb things out loud. Doing so set off a frenzied chain reaction of analysis, reporting, and speculation about what was meant by whatever came out of his mouth that didn’t make any sense at all.

Donald J. Trump
‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump

Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ???  Enjoy!

NBC News


BREAKING: President Trump claims he misspoke while discussing election meddling during news conference with Putin: "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't.' ... The sentence should've been: 'I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia'

So away he went, burrowing further and further into his own fevered reality, erecting a Ponzi scheme of truth in the West Wing that has been broadcast into American homes and psyches for nearly two years now. When the president comes up for air, forced to improvise, it feels like watching the wheels visibly turn in a 6-year-old’s mind, biting his bottom lip trying to come up with a whopper, a sick burn, whatever really.

    Donald J. Trump
     · 10h

    The Fake News Media has been talking about recent approval ratings of me by countries around the world, including the European Union, as being very low....

    Donald J. Trump

    ....I say of course they’re low - because for the first time in 50 years I am making them pay a big price for doing business with America. Why should they like me? — But I still like them!

And it’s not that Trump is dumb himself that irks, although he very much is; it’s how baldly dumb the things he says are, all the time.

Donald J. Trump


Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!

The lying grates, but how poorly crafted and executed the lies are, how telegraphed they are in his own interest, and how unmoored from any semblance of reality they are, makes them particularly crushing. Replace “Middle Easterners” with “Storm Troopers.” It’s that absurd; it wouldn’t make a difference. Maybe there are Storm Troopers deployed by Darth Vader from the Death Star embedded with “the Caravan,” who knows? Where’s the proof they aren’t?

By the end of a full day spent reading and hearing practically everything he says, where do you start? You can’t. The explanations are too elementary to literally start at the beginning each time, over and over again.

He doesn’t know anything. It’s not just that he’s lying; he’s not even trying.

Last night's culinary experience was fabulous.  We went to the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet at the Emerald Hotel & Casino in Tacoma, where we are staying.  On Sundays they feature LOBSTER at the buffet, along with tons of other great Seafood.  Also at the Buffet were PRIME RIB, TRI-TIP STEAK, SHRIMP, CLAM CHOWDER  and other all-time RE favorite foods.  :icon_sunny: Not only were all the offerings fabulous, unlike the typical Buffet they weren't overdone or over-cooked.  It was all Restaurant Quality dishes.  To make it even BETTER, it all came FREE, as a Comp for Gambling at the Casino!  ;D  I also walked away from the Blackjack Table a WINNER  :icon_sunny:, +$20 after earning my $25 Comp Card playing at the $3 Minimum Bet Table.  I was up around $60 but then the Dealer changed and my luck went south.  :(   I wasn't counting cards on the 8 Deck Shoe, my stiffening Brain isn't up to that anymore.  Just going on Intuition and following the statistical rules for the most part.  Even if you paid for it though, it is still a fabulous value at $25.   You can have a fabulous Surf &  Turf with PRIME RIB & LOBSTER for just $25, whereas normally you would pay at least $50 for these dishes at this level of Quality.  Trust me I know, I not only frequented restaurants with these offerings, I also was a Sous Chef in one, Capsuto Freres in NY Shity.  Below are a few Pics from the Buffet.  Enjoy.  :icon_sunny:

Buffet Lobster 10
Buffet Lobster 10
Buffet Lobster 9
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Buffet Lobster 8
Buffet Lobster 8
Buffet Lobster 7
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 CBS/AP October 21, 2018, 8:27 AM
Migrant caravan swells to 5,000 in Mexico, with members vowing to reach U.S.

A Central American migrant, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S, is pictured after crossing the Suchiate river to avoid the border checkpoint in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, October 20, 2018.

Last Updated Oct 21, 2018 8:54 AM EDT

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the border, about 2,000 Central American migrants swam or rafted across a river separating that country from Guatemala, re-formed their mass caravan in Mexico and vowed to resume their journey toward the United States.

Their numbers swelled to about 5,000 overnight and at first light they set out walking toward the Mexican town of Tapachula, 10 abreast in a line stretching approximately a mile.

It was not immediately clear where the additional travelers had materialized from since about 2,000 gathered on the Mexican side Saturday night. They seemed likely to be people who had been waiting on the bridge over the Suchiate River or in the Guatemalan town of Tecun Uman and who decided to cross during the night.

At dawn there were still an estimated 1,500 migrants on the Guatemalan side hoping to enter legally.

They marched on through Mexico like a rag tag army of the poor, shouting triumphantly slogans like "Si se pudo!" or "Yes, we could!"

As they passed through Mexican villages on the outskirts of Ciudad Hidalgo, they drew applause, cheers and donations of food and clothing from Mexicans.

Maria Teresa Orellana, a resident of the neighborhood of Lorenzo handed out free sandals to the migrants as they passed. "It's solidarity," she said. "They're our brothers."

Olivin Castellanos, 58, a truck driver and mason from Villanueva, Honduras, said he took a raft across the river after Mexico blocked the bridge. "No one will stop us, only God," he said. "We knocked down the door and we continue walking." He wants to reach the U.S. to work. "I can do this," he said, pointing to the asphalt under his feet. "I've made highways."

The migrants, who said they gave up trying to enter Mexico legally because the asylum application process was too slow, gathered Saturday at a park in the border city of Ciudad Hidalgo. They voted by a show of hands to continue north en masse, then marched to the bridge crossing the Suchiate River and urged those still on it to come join them.

The decision to re-form the migrant caravan capped a day in which Mexican authorities again refused mass entry to migrants on the bridge, instead accepting small groups for asylum processing and giving out 45-day visitor permits to some. Authorities handed out numbers for people to be processed in a strategy seen before at U.S. border posts when dealing with large numbers of migrants.

But many became impatient and circumventing the border gate, crossing the river on rafts, by swimming or by wading in full view of the hundreds of Mexican police manning the blockade on the bridge. Some paid locals the equivalent of $1.25 to ferry them across the muddy waters. They were not detained on reaching the Mexican bank.

Central American migrants, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S., cross the Suchiate River to avoid the border checkpoint in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, October 20, 2018.

Sairy Bueso, a 24-year old Honduran mother of two, was another migrant who abandoned the bridge and crossed into Mexico via the river. She clutched her 2-year-old daughter Dayani, who had recently had a heart operation, as she got off a raft.

"The girl suffered greatly because of all the people crowded" on the bridge, Bueso said. "There are risks that we must take for the good of our children."

In addition to those who crossed the river, immigration agents processed migrants in small groups and then bused them to an open-air, metal-roof fairground in Tapachula, where the Red Cross set up small blue tents on the concrete floor.

Mexico's Interior Department said it had received 640 refugee requests by Hondurans at the border crossing. It released photos of migrants getting off buses at a shelter and receiving food and medical attention.

At least half a dozen migrants fainted in the crush.

Some tore open a fence on the Guatemala side of the bridge and threw two young children, perhaps age 6 or 7, and their mother into the muddy waters about 40 feet below. They were rafted to safety in on the Mexican bank.

Mexican workers handed food and bottled water to the migrants on the bridge. Through the bars, a doctor gave medical attention to a woman who feared her young son was running a fever.

Sustenance also came from Guatemalan locals — for Carlos Martinez, a 24-year-old from Santa Barbara, Honduras, the plate of chicken with rice was the first bite to eat he'd had all day.

"It is a blessing that they have given us food," Martinez said. "It gives me courage to keep waiting, as long as I can."

Migrants cited widespread poverty and gang violence in Honduras, one of the world's deadliest nations by homicide rate, as their reasons for joining the caravan.

Juan Carlos Mercado, 20, from Santa Barbara, Honduras, says corruption and a lack of jobs in Honduras has stymied him. "We just want to move ahead with our lives," he said Sunday. He said he'd do any kind of work.

The caravan elicited a series of angry tweets and warnings from President Trump early in the week, but Mexico's initial handling of the migrants at its southern border seemed to have satisfied him more recently.

"So as of this moment, I thank Mexico," Mr. Trump said Friday at an event in Scottsdale, Arizona. "I hope they continue. But as of this moment, I thank Mexico. If that doesn't work out, we're calling up the military — not the Guard."

"They're not coming into this country," Mr. Trump added.

"The Mexican Government is fully engaged in finding a solution that encourages safe, secure, and orderly migration," State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Saturday, "and both the United States and Mexico continue to work with Central American governments to address the economic, security, and governance drivers of illegal immigration."

After an emergency meeting in Guatemala, presidents Hernandez of Honduras and Jimmy Morales of Guatemala said an estimated 5,400 migrants had entered Guatemala since the caravan was announced a week ago, and about 2,000 Hondurans have returned voluntarily.

Morales said a Honduran migrant died in the town of Villa Nueva, 20 miles from Guatemala City, when he fell from a truck.


In Hurricane Michael's Wake, Florida Panhandle Faces Steep Path Back To Normal


October 21, 20188:12 AM ET
Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday
Debbie Elliot 2010

Debbie Elliott

Port. St. Joe Mayor Bo Patterson stands in front of what's left of one of the towns two gas stations. Both were destroyed by Hurricane Michael, the fuel pumps torn from their concrete slabs.
Debbie Elliott/Debbie Elliott/NPR

More than a week after Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida panhandle, cities and towns are facing the daunting task of trying to rebuild. The recovery is hampered by catastrophic damage not only to homes and businesses, but to vital infrastructure as well.

The small Gulf coast town of Port St. Joe, with a population of about 3,500 residents, is one of countless communities that was hit by the storm.

"Everywhere you turn and go you see some kind of destruction," says the town's mayor, Bo Patterson. "Whether it was wind damage, whether it was water, one of the two."

Patterson says Hurricane Michael pushed in a 13-foot storm surge that flooded the streets closest to St. Joseph Bay on the west side of Port St. Joe. The rest of town saw roofs ripped off, windows blown out and huge oak and pine trees toppled.

"Devastating, devastating," he repeats. "I don't know any other word to describe what you're seeing."

The roof is off at the local Baptist church; its steeple is bent over. The walls are gone from the Burger King. Port St. Joe's two gas stations are also destroyed — the fuel pumps torn from their concrete slabs.
Article continues after sponsorship

"We can't even pump gas," Patterson says.

The mayor says the city can't even start to think about recovery until it can clear all of the downed trees from local roadways. Backhoes have been brought in to help, and crews are working on most streets to replace power poles.

In the community of Highland View, just west of Port St. Joe, the storm surge from Hurricane Michael toppled houses and knocked mobile homes completely over.
Debbie Elliott/Debbie Elliott/NPR

Meanwhile, residents are trying to muck out soggy homes, and using chain saws to cut up downed trees.

"You hear that sound a lot," Patterson says of the buzz of chain saws. "Up until dark. You hear that all day long."

Couches, mattresses and piles of soaked clothing are stacked up curbside on residential streets.

"Just about every street you go down ... you'll see destruction like that," Patterson says. "People just — all they own is by the road to be thrown away."

At a flooded apartment near the bayfront, Alesha Smiley and her brother spent a recent afternoon moving soaked mattresses from the unit she shares with her grandmother, an elderly amputee in poor health.

"It is depressing," she says. "I try not to think about it too hard. But it's been a lot of people come in and helping."

Mayor Patterson says the city has been getting help from relief agencies and the state and federal government. He admits the town is at the mercy of outside assistance because its main source of revenue — tourism and water and sewer bills — has been decimated.
After Hurricane Michael, A Call For Stricter Building Codes In Florida's Panhandle
After Hurricane Michael, A Call For Stricter Building Codes In Florida's Panhandle

"We don't know how we'll pay our bills," he says. "Seriously."

Driving through a neighborhood on the west side of town, Patterson does see signs of progress as he greets residents out cleaning up storm debris.

"I think most people in this area do have power, so that's good," Patterson says.

He stops at an old high school gym that's been converted into an emergency supply distribution point. Among those helping to coordinate the response from there is Port St. Joe city commissioner Eric Langston.

"We still have some things to look forward to," Langston says. "We're still here. We're still breathing. The worst has already happened as far as the hurricane. All we can do is look ahead and try to rebuild."

But Langston acknowledges it will be a long time before the town gets back to a sense of normalcy.

Back on the road, Mayor Bo Patterson points out the damage in the downtown business district. The roof is off his pest control business.

"It's unbelievable," he says.,11567.msg163495/topicseen.html#msg163495

He contemplates the rebuilding that's ahead.

"It's going to take years," Patterson says. "And I'm hoping the city can survive it."

The Kitchen Sink / 📰 A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
« on: October 21, 2018, 01:29:53 AM »
Sounds like a day in my life at the Diner Desk.


October 19, 2018
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
by Jeffrey St. Clair

The view from my desk.

It’s six in the morning here in Oregon City. The sun won’t be up for another hour. The west wind is rattling the windows. I hope a storm is brewing. We need the rain. Then I hear the tea kettle sputtering. The damn thing refuses to whistle. I make pot of Moroccan mint tea and settle behind my battered Mac. The new grandkid is already up, has been for an hour or so, gnawing on the ears of a stuffed toy grizzly that Kimberly and I picked up several years ago in Yellowstone.  The once feral gray cat who has no known name is now curled up at my feet and the sleek black cat we call Baudelaire is standing on the table brushing his back against the screen. There will be no breakfast. There hasn’t been any breakfast in a year. I’ve been bamboozled into following an “intermittent fast,” which prohibits any food from 7 PM to 11 AM. I don’t recommend it.

I check the CounterPunch page to make sure all of the morning’s stories have posted, since they were edited and loaded into WordPress last night. Occasionally there are screw-ups, usually mine. All looks good so far. There are 15 new pieces today. An intriguing mix of stories ranging from the killing of Jamal Khashoggi to the tottering global economy, from the failure of Democrats to appeal to millennials to the torments of Gaza.

Then I grit my teeth and download my email. There are 612 new messages in my inbox since I last checked eight hours ago. The count is a little higher than normal because of the annual fund drive. Every morning starts with a purge, wiping out the spam and the advertisements, the duplications, the bounces, the latest alerts on crisis actors in Vegas and thermite at Ground Zero. That leaves 503 messages that need my attention. First, I scan for advisories from the CounterPunch team: Joshua, Becky, Nathaniel, Deva and Nichole. Becky sent a note about yesterday’s totals from the fund drive. We’re down from last year by about 25 percent, even though the number of contributors has actually risen. The economy is more brutal and unforgiving than anyone admits. The rising stock market only reflects how much wealth the one-percent has amassed at the expense of the rest of us. Many of our readers live from paycheck to payday loan.

There’s a note from Nichole about books for potential review that have landed in Petrolia. I pick out four or five titles to be shipped north. Nathaniel writes to say that the debate over “fascism” has flared up again on the CounterPunch social media platforms in response to a provocative piece by my pal Anthony DiMaggio. Deva says that a troublesome bug in the site’s shopping cart has been resolved. Josh sends a gloating email about the Dodgers’ big win over the Brewers and another about the four or five stories he’s editing today, before he assembles the email Blaster, which will be sent off to nearly 50,000 CounterPunchers in a few hours. There are several group emails about CounterPunch business. We are all brainstorming about ways that we can make the fundraiser more effective, less annoying and end as soon as possible. None of us are professional fundraisers. None of us like asking for money or sacrificing staff hours and space on the website for this annual ordeal. But we don’t have any other options. We won’t sell ads and we don’t get big grants from liberal foundations.

Not many outlets that take our line on the Middle East or the vacuity of the Democratic Party get grants from the Pew Charitable Trusts or the Rockefeller Foundation. That’s one big reason there aren’t that many sites like CounterPunch, frankly. Another, of course, is that they don’t have our writers. We’re funded by our readers and only our readers. Live by the word, perish by the word.

Thankfully one of our longtime supporters has stepped up this week and promised to match every $100 or more donation up to $25,000 total. The matching grant is landing right on time, but will only make a dent in our modest goal if our readers pitch in.

We seem to scrape by every year, though some years are leaner than others. This has been a very lean couple of years, partly because we’ve lost one of our largest donors, who had graciously supported CounterPunch for 15 years. He said that it’s time to see if we can swim against the current on our own. I told him we’re all taking swimming lessons and are intent on drowning as slowly as possible. But he was quite right. We now have more than two million unique visitors to the site every month. If each of them gave merely five dollars a year we wouldn’t have to run another fundraiser until 2030.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. Nearly three weeks into this annual fund drive we’ve received contributions from more than 2100 CounterPunchers. That’s a nice round number, but it represents only a tiny fraction of our readers. Even so, CounterPunch’s online edition remains a commons; it’s free to all who come and we intend to keep it that way as long as we can. If people like it, if they feel they need it, they’ll pony up the money to keep us afloat. We are compelled to survive amid the grinding swirl of the very market forces that we abhor and are seeking to undermine.

There’s also an email from Zach at AK Press saying that our new book, The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink should be getting into bookstores, those endangered spaces, sometime this week. It’s a big book with more than six years of reporting in it from some of the most battered places on the continent, such as the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. It’s not just a book about the environment, but the defenders of nature–from the desert southwest and the Rocky Mountains to Flint and Standing Rock–and how those brave environmentalists have become the targets of the FBI, corporate goons and mysterious infiltrators. It’s an urgently written book with real blood on the pages.

Next, I scan in the inbox for any threatening legal letters. We’ve been sued in the past by a former CIA officer, a Saudi sheikh, two US senators and the nation of Qatar. To name a few. We’ve never lost, knock on wood. Still, the last time we were sued, the legal fees cost us $30,000 and the case didn’t even reach the deposition phase. Since the Gawker ruling, the situation for the independent press has become ever more perilous. Any aggrieved billionaire who sues over the slightest critique and litigates against cash-strapped media sites can force these outlets into bankruptcy. Trump, of course, is eager to lend presidential authority to this assault on the first amendment.

Fortunately, there are no demand letters this morning. But there was a torrent of hate mail, which is always more instructive to read than the rare herogram. “Why are you so soft on Putin?” “Why are you in Putin’s pocket?” “Your blind support of Assad is outrageous.” “Why did CounterPunch turn its back on the Syrian regime?” “ANTIFA are fascist scum.” “ANTIFA is the last line of defense against fascists.” “You guys are climate deniers.” “Why did CounterPunch abandon Cockburn’s critique of global warming science?” “You Bernie Bros are responsible for Trump!” “I’ve donated for many years, but not after St. Clair’s vile attacks on Bernie Sanders.”

I sympathize with the confusion. Unlike many political sites, CounterPunch doesn’t a have company line. The online edition of CounterPunch has always been a venue where different voices, on what can loosely be described as the “left,” can freely engage in fierce debates about politics, economics, war, movies, racism, music and political movements. We’ve tried to make CounterPunch free from dogma and cant, but to keep it open for writers with fresh points of view and vivid writing styles. The experience can perplex readers who are used to grazing in the usual media feedlots of processed prose and artificially-colored opinions.

The phone rings at 7:30 AM. It’s the first call of the day. There will be dozens more before it finally goes silent. As usual, those early morning calls remind me of Cockburn. We talked every day at 7 AM for nearly 20 years. I miss his friendship and his political voice. Alex would have had rich sport carving up Trump, his deranged adherents and his banal Democratic pursuers. This call, however, is for a radio interview about the 14 different ethics investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

It’s Thursday, the busiest day of the week for Josh and me. This is the day we begin preparing Weekend Edition, which generally runs a slate of 45 stories. We’ve been collecting potential pieces over the week. Now the essays must be edited, the links inserted, photos selected, captions, headlines and sub-headlines written. We have to order the stories, write blurbs and load them all into WordPress. I usually edit about 20 stories on Thursday another batch early on Friday morning, waiting on some of our late-arriving regular contributors, such as the usually tardy but indispensable David Yearsley. Each story takes about 20 minutes to edit and load. That’s nine hours of steady work at the Mac. If nothing goes awry and something usually does.

After my first interview, I dive in.  Yigal Bronner has sent a devastating piece from the West Bank, where he has been camped out in small village slated for demolition by Israel. It’s sure to unnerve some timid readers. The historian Jacques Pauwels has sent a piece on eating at the House of the Swan, 450-year old restaurant in Belgium where Karl Marx once hung out. The old Rousseau scholar Andy Levine sends a note telling me to hold a spot for his piece on the future of progressive politics in a party (the Democrats) dominated by neoliberals. Jason Hirthler, who is a tremendously gifted writer, has sent a new piece whacking the fragile pieties of our liberal elites. Paul Street tries to make sense of the Trump/Kanye West show. Ramzy Baroud writes a political obituary for Nikki Haley’s savage tenure at the UN. It should prove to be another rich palette of stories.

At noon, I take a break for lunch. The first protein of the day is a chunk of sockeye salmon I barbecued for dinner last night. It’s even better cold. I wash it down with a glass of apple cider (I’ve stopped drinking alcohol since the kid moved in with us) and skim the headlines of the New York Times, the Independent, London Review of Books and Ha’aretz. I take a walk in the rain and return soaked and cold. I write a few emails to writers reminding them of the deadline for the next print issue of the magazine and write some thank you notes for contributors to the fund-drive.

My wife Kimberly calls and reports that she’s got the flu. The library is always the first vector for the autumn plagues. I’ll go down next, as I always do. This is not good news and we’re fearful of passing it to the grandkid, who is staying with us for the next month, while his father is on assignment in Hungary. We’re damn lucky we have health care through Kimberly’s work at the university. So few American journalists enjoy this privilege, which should be a fundamental right for all. There are no sick days or mental health days (though god knows we could use them) at CounterPunch. The website must go up.

At 1:30 PM, I dive back into the editing and work steady until my interview at 3. Nick Pemberton tries to make sense of Chomsky’s voting strategy. Jill Richardson explores the consequences, political and cultural, of Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test. Ricardo Vaz writes from Belgium on Saudis’ genocidal war on Yemen. Dr. John Carter sends a painful piece from the wilds of Idaho describing the plight of Great Pyrenees guard dogs who have been abandoned by their owners. There’s a piece by the courageous Dr. Hakim Young from Afghanistan.

After the radio show, I work on a few more stories and then I am seized in panic. Damn. It’s 5 PM on Thursday and I haven’t written a word for my own column. I didn’t even have a topic. What the hell I am going to do? Becky temporarily distracts me with an update on the daily totals from the fund drive. Not awful, but not great, either. We’ve got to pick up the pace or confront a crisis. I quickly check the website traffic. It looks pretty robust. Patrick Cockburn’s essay on the Saudis and Greg MacDougall’s powerful report on the epidemic of suicides among indigenous people in Canada are still buzzing, being read and debated from Olympia, Washington to Cape Town, South Africa.

Around 6 PM I finish editing the last of the pieces for Weekend Edition and begin cooking dinner. I select a challenging but delicious recipe taken from south of France by the great Paula Wolfert called “Chicken with Red Onion Sauce.” As I quarter the chicken, I continue searching for an idea for a column. Kimberly rings to say she’s snarled in traffic. I grumble about my predicament. She comes to the rescue by suggesting that I write about a typical day at CounterPunch. Would that be cheating, I wonder? Nah. I scribble some notes as the chicken sizzles and the rice steams.

After dinner, I retreat to my office with my Macbook and a pre-rolled from Gnome Grown (the local pot shop) and start pounding out this journal entry while listening to John Coltrane’s “Lost Album.”  Not wanting this to be an entirely fact-free column, I do a little research. In the last year, CounterPunch has published 5301 articles by 3050 different writers. On average, we add 12 new writers to the site every week. This year we published writers on every continent, including Antarctica, and from every state, including Alabama and Wyoming. The articles were read, posted, tweeted, re-tweeted millions of times by nearly 16 million individual readers. Those numbers are impressive, considering CounterPunch’s origins 25 years ago as a six-page newsletter published fortnightly for a few thousand subscribers. Many of those original subscribers stay with us to this day.

Over 25 years, I think we’ve proved our worth. We’ve built CounterPunch into an intelligent, combative and radical presence around the world. But we can only move forward with your financial support. There’s no safety net for us. CounterPunch is run by a dedicated skeleton crew. After all these years, against all odds we’re still here. We’re still a lean operation with no waste to prune. Every dollar you can manage is crucial to our survival.

It’s 10 PM when I finish this column-cum-plea for money. I download my email for the last time and shutter the Macbook. It’s been an exhausting but productive day. A gentle but steady rain begins to beat at the window. The black cat looks up at me. He’s an odd cat and usually follows me on my late night walks to clear my head, but he’s showing no inclination toward venturing outside into the Oregon drizzle tonight. Come on, Baudelaire, let’s take a stroll–even evil flowers need a little water to grow.

We got an early start this morning for the drive to Tacoma, and after a stop at Costco to fuel up were on the road by 9AM.  I made Tuna Sandwiches for Road Food so we wouldn't have to stop for Fast Food on the road trip, and we made the crossing on the I-90 with just a couple of bathroom breaks, arriving in Seattle around 2:30, where our first stop was at K-Dog's digs.  K-Dog recommended the Whistlestop Pub.  Good food, best aspect though was the hot looking servers.  ;D

After that Brian & I drove down to the Casino Hotel we are staying at, which was somewhat confusing because they actually have 2 locations and are in the process of vastly expanding the Tacoma one and the one we are at is actually in Fife, a couple of miles up the road on the I-5.  We did eventually find the right location though, and were checked in with all our preps in the hotel room by around 7 PM.

After that we went to explore the Hotel ammenities, which include a really nice looking buffet at a reasonable price, but we discovered how we can enjoy this buffet 100% FREE without ever gambling or buying a hotel room!  :o  How to do it is a TOP SECRET.  We got food vouchers, but didn't use them tonight because we were already stuffed from the dinner with K-Dog at the Whistlestop.  Tomorrow though we will hit the buffet and I will get some boots on the ground pics of the various buffet offerings, which are heavily weighted toward seafood.  Tomorrow night features LOBSTER at the buffet!  They also have a Chinese themed regular restaurant and a deli where the food vouchers are good. :icon_sunny:

Tomorrow is a day to relax and have some fun gambling and pigging out at the buffet.  K-Dog should be coming down to join us in the afternoon.  After that on Monday morning it's Tombstone Time!


Frostbite Falls Newz / The Great Tombstone Adventure 2 Restaurant Tour
« on: October 20, 2018, 08:01:29 AM »
The first restaurant on the Great Tombstone Adventure 2 was Cedar's Floating Restaurant in Couer d'Alene, Idaho.  That is just outside of Spokane if you don't know.  The restaurant is actually ON the lake, not next to it.

It's built on something like 1 million pounds of ferro cement floating cannisters.  It's very scenic, and the food is very good also.  I recommend this eatery if you visit.

RE Sits Down to Dinner
RE floating Restaurant
RE floating Restaurant

Smoked Trout & Clam Chowder Appetizers
Smoked Trout
Smoked Trout

Clam Chowder 1
Clam Chowder 1

Prime Rib and Garlic Mashed Potatoes Main Course

All accompanied by a very good Pinot Noir.

I'm eating some of the leftovers for breakfast.



CBS/AP October 20, 2018, 8:51 AM
Thousands of migrants stuck as caravan halted on Mexico's southern border

This frame grab from video shows migrants bound for the U.S.-Mexico border waiting on a bridge that stretches over the Suchiate River, connecting Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.
Televisa via AP

TECUN UMAN, Guatemala -- A standoff between thousands of Central American migrants trying to reach the United States and Mexican police stretched through the night at Mexico's southern border, with some migrants hanging from the closed border gate wailing "there are children here." Others slept on a crowded bridge linking Guatemala to Mexico.

As of early Saturday, thousands were stuck on Mexico's southern border after a failed attempt to enter the country, BBC News reported.

Members of the migrant caravan, comprised of more than 3,000 migrants, had earlier burst through a Guatemalan border fence and rushed onto the bridge over the Suchiate River. Men and women, some with young children and babies drenched in sweat, began storming and climbing the barrier — tearing it down. They defied Mexican authorities' entreaties for an orderly crossing and U.S. President Donald Trump's threats of retaliation.

But they were met Friday by a wall of police with riot shields on the Mexican side of the bridge. About 50 managed to push their way through before officers unleashed pepper spray and the rest retreated, joining the sea of humanity on the bridge.

Police and immigration agents began letting small groups of 10, 20 or 30 people through the gates if they wanted to apply for refugee status. Once they file a claim, they can go to a shelter to spend the night.

Some migrants, tired of waiting, jumped off the bridge into the Suchiate River on Friday. They risked drowning over defeat. When asked why he wanted to jump, one 16-year-old said, "there are no jobs here."

As night fell on the bridge, the migrants' frustration turned to despair as women clutching small children took up the rows in front of the gate pleading with the Mexican federal police. Some migrants yelled "We are hungry!" Others set up tarps to prepare for the night sleeping on the increasingly dirty and befouled bridge.

"Please, it is night. Let us pass," Alba Luz Giron Ramirez, a former shop employee and mother of three, pleaded to the officers.

Giron said they had come from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and that gangs had killed her brother and threatened her.

"We want them to give us permission to go to Mexico," her 5-year-old son Ramon said in a child's voice. "We wouldn't stay."

Alison Danisa wept as she knelt in the garbage already piling up on the bridge, clutching her naked 11-month-old infant to her breast.

"We have suffered so much. She has a fever and we brought nothing," she said, showing the baby's bare bottom to indicate they had no diapers.

APTOPIX Central America Migrant Caravan

A Mexican marine official with a loudspeaker approached the gate and told migrants they would be taken in trucks to "a humanitarian attention center" in Tapachula, a border city in the Mexican state of Chiapas. But the official did not say when this would happen.

Migrants have banded together to travel en masse regularly in recent years, but this caravan was unusual for its huge size, said Victor Clark Alfaro, a Latin American studies professor at San Diego State University. By comparison, a caravan in April that also attracted Trump's ire numbered about 1,000.

"It grabs one's attention that the number of people in these kinds of caravans is on the rise," Clark Alfaro said. "It is migration of a different dimension."

Elizabeth Oglesby, a professor at the University of Arizona's Center for Latin American Studies, said people join caravans like this because it's a way to make the journey in a relatively safe manner and avoid having to pay thousands of dollars to smugglers.

Late Friday night, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in an address to the nation that a large group of migrants had "tried to enter Mexican territory irregularly, attacking and even hurting some elements of the Federal Police."

"Mexico does not permit and will not permit entry into its territory in an irregular fashion, much less in a violent fashion," he said.

A police officer helps a Honduran migrant, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S., as she storms a border checkpoint to cross into Mexico, in Ciudad Hidalgo

A police officer helps a Honduran migrant, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S., as she storms a border checkpoint to cross into Mexico, in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico October 19, 2018.

Mexican officials said those with passports and valid visas -- only a tiny minority of those trying to cross -- would be let in immediately. Migrants who want to apply for refuge in Mexico were welcome to do so, they said, but any who decide to cross illegally and are caught will be detained and deported.   

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez tweeted late Friday that he spoke with his Guatemalan counterpart, Jimmy Morales, and asked permission to send Honduran civil protection personnel to the bridge to help the migrants. "I also asked authorization to hire ground transportation for anyone who wants to return and an air bridge for special cases of women, children, the elderly and the sick," Hernandez tweeted.

Hernandez and Morales are expected to meet in Guatemala early Saturday to discuss the situation.

The U.S. president, meanwhile, has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. On Thursday he threatened to close the U.S. border if Mexico didn't stop the caravan. Later that day he tweeted a video of Mexican federal police deploying at the Guatemalan border and wrote: "Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!"   

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called illegal migration a "crisis" and emphasized "the importance of stopping this flow before it reaches the U.S. border," while also acknowledging Mexico's right to handle the crisis in a sovereign fashion.

He also said, "We have to fix U.S. laws in order to handle this properly. This is an American burden and a uniquely American burden."

Oglesby, the professor at the University of Arizona's Center for Latin American Studies, disputed Pompeo's assertion that that there is a "crisis" of migration.

"The border is not in crisis. This is not a migration crisis. ... Yes, we are seeing some spikes in Central Americans crossing the border, but overall migration is at a 40-year low," Oglesby said.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Geopolitics / 🌍 Economic and Judicial War Tools to Subvert Democracy
« on: October 20, 2018, 12:53:38 AM »

Economic and Judicial War Tools to Subvert Democracy
By Nino Pagliccia
Global Research, October 18, 2018
Region: Latin America & Caribbean, USA
Theme: Law and Justice

This is the edited version of a panel presentation by the same title that took place in Toronto, Canada on October 13, 2018 The Event was sponsored by a number of progressive organizations


I think this is a very important and timely topic to cover in order to have a broad context and hopefully contribute some useful thinking to the topic.

We live in times of dramatic changes, as I see it.

I am sure many are noticing that we are moving from a unipolar to a multipolar geopolitical world where important new players have something to offer.

If we are noticing this, I am sure that the United States is also paying attention.  The U.S. knows that it is losing its hegemony to other powers like China and Russia. Many other countries are taking notice. Venezuela is certainly one of them.

The U.S. is showing a reaction to that inevitable occurrence and what we are seeing are the struggling gasps of a dying empire that is imminent when measured in historical time.

This will not be a peaceful death, unfortunately. The dying empire will not die in peace.

I think this image might help us understand what is happening today.

Warfare tools

There was a time – say, last century – when we used to call conflictive relationships among nations by their direct descriptive name.

We had wars that countries declared to each other and sent soldiers to kill each other. They would even “announce” their wars. They had, and still do, what is called “rules of engagement”… but this was no engagement to be married… It was truly an “engagement to be destroyed”.

Then we had invasions where one nation would attack another nation to kill their people – a kind of war that was not announced.

We even had the so-called Cold War that was nothing else than a permanent threat of war.

Today we have quite a wide range of “conflictive relationships” among countries. But it’s interesting to see the corresponding proliferation of terminology that we have come to use in describing those conflicts.

We have:

    Undeclared wars. And here we have to be careful how we use the term “war”. For example, there is no war in Syria. There is a war on Syria. Semantic is important here.
    New Cold War. I don’t know what’s new about it. It’s still a permanent threat of war.
    Infowar. The production of false news with media participation in order to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of a government.
    Economic war. This is the one that is caused through sanctions, and I’ll come back to that.
    Incitation to commit political crimes. For example, the life attempt against president Nicolas Maduro and other high officials last August 4.
    Incitation to mutiny. Repeated calls to the military to overthrow a government.
    Coups. We still have those…with a soft touch now.
    We have Soft Coups. These are the ones that have been at play in Latin America in the last few years. They oppress and kill people all the same.
    Terrorism. The ultimate destructive tool to be used against another nation. And it is being used by the U.S. widely, not only in the Middle East but also in Latin America and other regions.
    Finally, we have the most contradictory of all aggressions: Lawfare.

This is quite a repertoire of warfare tools that can be used in any combination with the single goal of imposing a regime change.

I recognize some of these tools were also used in the last century, but maybe not to the extent they are used today. Certainly, today they have become part of the new narrative about conflicts. They have achieved a level of recognition and acceptance that makes those actions extremely dangerous.

That is why it is important to be aware of them.

All of these actions are a form of warfare, and all have embedded an element of illegality. They are not used as legitimate self-defense. They are used to subvert democracy.

They extend the notion of weapons to situations where everything can be “weaponized” (notice the new terminology) with total disregard to legality, morality, humanity and ethical considerations.

As someone who is anti-war, I reject all implications of warfare especially when a war is carried out by a bully entity against smaller and weaker contenders.

Let’s take a closer look at lawfare and sanctions.


Wikipedia gives the following definition of the term:

    “Lawfare is a form of war consisting of the use of the legal system against an enemy, such as by damaging or delegitimizing them.” [1]

It is believed that a U.S. General by the name of Charles Dunlap used the term for the first time in 2001. He defined “lawfare” as the “use of law as a weapon of war,” which he described as “the newest feature of 21st century combat.” [2]

Another similar definition of lawfare says that it is “the abuse of Western laws and judicial systems to achieve strategic military or political ends”.

A law expert said,

    “lawfare is about more than just delegitimizing a state’s right to defend itself; it is about the abuse of the law and our judicial systems to undermine the very principles they stands for: the rule of law, the sanctity of innocent human life, and the right to free speech.”

All these definitions seem to have a consensus on the blatant contradiction: lawfare is not for the pursuit of justice; it is not the application of the law. It is just the opposite. It is the breaking down of the legal and constitutional order of another state for political gain.

Reportedly, the majority of U.S. laws that have come out after 9/11 constitute today the new tools used to repress any resistance in the name of national security, not only in the U.S., but also in other countries.

The United States’ Disregard for International Law Is a Menace to Venezuela and Latin America

But we know that other countries are also misusing their own laws in a cruel copycat fashion to repress any internal resistance. We all think of the cases against Cristina Kirchner, Dilma Rousseff, Luiz Inácio Lula, Rafael Correa, and others.

Sanctions as economic war

Something we need to know about sanctions is that the United Nations can also impose and apply sanctions on countries. And it does.

At last count, 12 countries are sanctioned by the UN. More than half are African countries. Sanctions include asset freezes; travel bans, and arms embargoes.

No Latin American country is currently being sanctioned by the UN; certainly not Venezuela.

Imposing sanctions seems to be the assumed privilege of the U.S. based on its doctrine of exceptionalism. And the UN allows this to happen in spite of its own stated principles such as:

    The principle that States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. [Remember, the purpose is to pursue peace]
    The principle that States shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered. [Remember, Venezuela has persistently asked to dialogue, even to meet with Donald Trump]
    The principle concerning the duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State.

I believe that the UN is a dysfunctional institution. We have seen many times the ineffective work of the UN. Despite the purpose of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security, we see a proliferation of wars, conflicts, and interventions every day.

Despite the intention, the United Nations is not a democratic institution by design from inception.

The UN is definitely not a democratic institution when we have a body like the Security Council – with such an important responsibility as to apply sanctions according to Article 41 of the Charter – which is ruled by a handful of self-appointed permanent members that have a veto power. Security Council permanent members are: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In addition, Article 25 says: The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council…

The misuse of the veto, the lack of accountability and the unfair representation at the UNSC – for example, not a single African or Latin American country is a permanent member – have all emasculated an organization that is meant, at least on paper, to uphold international law and achieve peace and global security.

If this was a country we lived in, we would have a Junta of five people – never elected; they or their successors are there in perpetuity – ruling our country, and we would have to agree to let that happen and would have to obey their decisions against the will of the majority.

This is the model of democracy that the United Nations gives to other nations.

Right now, in this kind of UN chaos, nothing prevents any country to impose sanctions unilaterally on another country if they so decide.

I have proposed an idea that all sanctioned States should start an international movement similar to the Non Aligned Movement founded in 1961. This could be called the Block of Sanctioned States Movement – the BoSS movement. I hope it catches on.

Are sanctions illegal?

Simply put, yes they are. They are against international law. Of course some disagree.

In spite of what I said about the United Nations, many States accept that only the UN has the legal right to impose sanctions. Mind you, it would have to be a drastically reformed UN.

At least there would be more eyes supervising the legal application of sanctions. And hopefully – emphasis on hopefully – there would be stronger accountability to provide evidence of any accusation against a legitimate government.

Currently there is no evidence that there is a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela!

The UN knows that, by the way, and does nothing. In the meantime, the U.S. is using infowar to create false evidence. Sanctions imposed by the U.S. are unilateral and are only based on domestic U.S. laws. The U.S. can legislate all they want within their jurisdiction but that does not make sanctions on another country legal when they break international law.

Sanctions are a form of intervention to pursue national goals.

Let me quote a paragraph from the Venezuela Report of last July:

    “The policy of imposing unilateral coercive measures, known as “sanctions” … violates the Charter of the United Nations, and conceals an aggressive model of intervention…  Beyond the rhetoric that justifies it in the name of “democracy”, sanctions are an instrument of war, designed to make people suffer in order to bend sovereign States.” [3]

Notice that Venezuela is calling sanctions by its full name: “Unilateral coercive measures”. That’s what they are.

It is important to know that Venezuela has responded with the most advanced economic strategy to this economic war by sanctions and the parallel foreign-induced inflation.

Venezuela has targeted the essence of the damaging effect of sanctions: the U.S. financial system itself that imposes the U.S. dollar as the world reference currency. The latest Venezuelan monetary reconversion has set an economic recovery path by which the Venezuelan economic system is not measured in terms the U.S. dollar but by the value of its own oil resources linked to a crypto currency, the Petro.

I called this a monetary revolution within the Bolivarian Revolution. It minimizes the impact of the U.S. sanctions, but most importantly it has already set an example to other nations. [4] [5]

Legal Trojan horses

It is often the case in international agreements; legislation or charters that “exceptions” are introduced, which invalidate the main thrust of the agreement or charter. I have already referred to the UN that establishes a Security Council with powers over the whole assembly of nations as such an exception.

This is what I call a legal Trojan horse that facilitates the lawfare.

I want to give an example of a legal Trojan horse in international legislation that is closer to home in Latin America, in relation to the OAS.

Image result for lima group

Lima Group

Last February the illegitimate Lima Group, with no OAS authority, used Article 19 in Chapter 4 of the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter to prevent Venezuela from participating at the OAS Summit in Lima, Peru. They quoted the following bit from the article:

    “…any unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state’s government in the Summit of the Americas process.”

But they conveniently omitted in that quote of Article 19 the very relevant beginning of the article that says,

    “Based on the principles of the Charter of the OAS and subject to its norms…”

Therefore the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter does not supersede, does not invalidate or cancel out the 1948 OAS Charter. It recognizes it explicitly.

If we read the principles of the 1948 OAS Charter, the relevant article – Article 19 of Chapter 4 (not to be confused by the coincidence of the same article numbers in the two different pieces of documents) – says:

    “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.”

In my view the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter is the Trojan horse introduced to weaken the OAS Charter of 1948.

I do not believe that the team of international lawyers in 2001 would have made such a gross error to have missed the most relevant article of the OAS Charter that prevents precisely what’s at the essence of all U.S. actions: Intervention!

I am inclined to believe that this was an intentional planting of confusion and attack. A true Trojan horse.

What to do?

I know what not to do. I don’t think we should all become international lawyers or experts to fight back lawfare and illegal sanctions. But we must be sufficiently aware to have a working knowledge of the implications of those interventions in Latin America.

Today we cannot lose Venezuela. We need to maintain the Bolivarian Revolution alive. I don’t say this because I am a Venezuelan and a Chavista. I say this for the sake of democracy and the rule of law in Latin America.

We have worked hard to keep the Cuban Revolution alive. We can do it. Tomorrow it might be Bolivia’s turn needing our solidarity.

Once we understand that interventions in internal affairs of another country are illegal – by tribunal decision or by people’s majority decision – we may use those arguments in our solidarity work wherever and whenever necessary.

I think that the “Canada-U.S. campaign to end sanctions against Venezuela” underway now is a great action that can bring us all together. [6] Venezuela and Latin America need us.

We only have a decaying U.S. empire to take on. We can do it if we stick together.


Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This is the edited version of a panel presentation by the same title that took place in Toronto, Canada on October 13, 2018 The Event was sponsored by:

    The Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle
    Venezuela Solidarity Committee Toronto
    Colombian Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA)
    Socialist Action
    NDP Socialist Caucus
    Casa Salvador Allende
    Toronto Association for Peace and Solidarity (TAPS)
    Victor Jara Cultural Group
    Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)
    Hugo Chavez Peoples Defense Front (HCPDF)
    Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto
    Canadian Latin American and Caribbean Policy Centre (CAL&C) Common Frontiers
    Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN)


Nino Pagliccia is an activist and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. He is a Venezuelan-Canadian who writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. He is editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations” He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.







The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Nino Pagliccia, Global Research, 2018

Geopolitics / 🐀 The Rats Revolt
« on: October 20, 2018, 12:34:47 AM »

The Rats Revolt
October 18, 2018

The cover art of Ralph Nader's new book is by Truthdig contributor Mr. Fish.

There is no American who has fought with more tenacity, courage and integrity to expose the crimes of corporate power and to thwart the corporate coup d’état that has destroyed our democracy than Ralph Nader. Not one. There is little he has not tried in that effort. He has written investigative exposés on the unsafe practices of the auto industry; published best-sellers such as “Who Runs Congress?”; founded citizen action and consumer groups; testified before countless congressional committees; written a raft of environmental and worker safety bills that were passed in Congress under the now defunct liberal wing of the Democratic Party; and, when he was locked out of the legislative process by corporate Democrats, been a candidate for president. He even helped organize the first Earth Day.

His latest assault is a fable called “How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress.” (And though at times the prose can be a bit stilted and the scatological jokes on par with the humor of the average 10-year-old—the rats crawl up out of the toilet bowls as congressional leaders are taking a dump—Nader is deadly serious about the revolt the rats engender.)

The key in Nader’s story to the citizens retaking control of Congress and the government is sustained mass nationwide demonstrations and rallies. These demonstrations, like all protests that are effective, are organized by full-time staff and steadily build in numbers and momentum. The demonstrations are funded by three enlightened billionaires. I don’t share Nader’s faith—also expressed in his other foray into fiction, “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us”—in a renegade wing of the oligarchy funding the overthrow of the corporate state, but he is right that successful movements need to be sustained, grow in size and power, have dedicated organizers and amass significant cash and resources so they do not disintegrate.

Nader writes in his new book:

    Protests rise and fall in the ether for the most part. They generally don’t ripple out from the core group of concerned people who originate them. Experts on crowds attribute this to little planning, minuscule budgets, poor leadership, and the lack of focus which induces protest fatigue among the core before they make an impact. The core never convincingly answers the questions, “Just How Far Do the Majority of Our Fellow Citizens Want To Go and How Do They Expect to Get There?”

    Another explanation for the lackluster showing of protest movements in this country is that American politicians, over the past twenty-five years, have learned to quietly dismiss big rallies, demonstrations, and even temporary “occupations,” because they have gone nowhere. The lawmakers never consider them when making decisions. Remember, too, that in Washington, giant rallies, such as those against the Iraq War, for the environment or for a jobs program were traditionally held on weekends when neither the members of Congress nor the journalists were around. These crowds are lucky to get a picture in the Sunday newspapers. The lack of publicity curtails any impact they might have had. The smaller gatherings, even those by Veterans for Peace, get zeroed out completely, rating at best a paragraph squib deep in the paper.

The demonstrations for the restoration of our democracy take place in cities around the country. They also see enraged citizens pour into Washington, D.C., to surround and occupy the Capitol and the headquarters of other government agencies and institutions to demand a return to democratic rule. The ruling elites become afraid.

Indeed, it is only when the elites become afraid of us that there will be any hope of destroying corporate power. Politics, as Nader understands, is a game of fear.

As Nader points out, elected officials have surrendered their constitutional power to do the bidding of corporations in return for corporate money. It is a system of legalized bribery. The consent of the governed has become a joke. Politicians in the two ruling parties are the agents of corporate exploitation and oppression, the enemies of democracy. They no longer hold public hearings at the committee level. They govern largely in secret. They pass bills, most written by corporate lobbyists, and appoint judges to protect corporations from lawsuits by those these corporations have wronged, injured or defrauded. They deny our standing in the courts. They divert money from the country’s crumbling infrastructure and social services to sustain a war machine that consumes half of all discretionary spending. They run up massive deficits to give tax cuts to the ruling oligarchs and orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upward in American history. They suppress the minimum wage, break unions and legalize the debt peonage that corporations use to exact punishing tribute from the citizenry, including from young men and women forced to take on $1.5 trillion in debt to get a college education. They revoke laws, controls and regulations that curb the worst abuses of Wall Street. They abolish our most cherished civil liberties, including the right to privacy and due process. Their public proceedings, as was evidenced in the one held for new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, are shameless political theater that mocks the democratic process.

“Congress itself is a clear and present danger to our country,” Nader writes. “It feasts on raw global corporate power and is oblivious to various fateful degradations of life on the planet.” He calls Congress “a concentrated tyranny of self-privilege, secrecy, exclusionary rules and practices.”

Nader warns that any uprising has to be swift to prevent the ruling elites from organizing to crush it. It has to capture the public imagination. And it has to have a sense of humor. He writes of the fictitious uprising in “How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress”:

    A contingent from New York and New England, led by nurses and students, delivered a truck load of “Wall Street Rats” with the sign explaining that they would obviously be welcomed by the Congress that had refused to pass a Wall Street speculation tax, such a sales tax would have provided $300 billion a year that might have been utilized to provide healthcare and reduce the student loan burdens. Millions of postcards were being sent showing one giant black rat on the Capitol Dome with a sign saying, “You Didn’t Listen to Them—The People—But Now You’re Going To Listen To Us.” This was only a sliver of the corrosively critical anthropomorphism attributed to the rats and their imagined political agenda. They had become the voice of the public! Little statuettes of [House Speaker] Blamer, [Minority Leader] Melosay, and [Senate Majority Leader] Clearwater, wearing crowns upon which lolled a pompous rat, were selling like hotcakes. Poster art rose to new heights of imaginative, symbolic, and real-life portrayals of what was increasingly being called the perfidious “Withering Heights” of Washington, DC.

    The calendar was filled with non-stop street action: rallies, soapbox speeches, marches, and sit-ins at zoos where the protesters said the rats should be given luxury cages as reward for their heroic takeover. The media couldn’t have enough of it. Ratings soared and increasing print, radio, and TV time was being devoted to what was making a very deep impression everywhere. Protests—across the country, red state, blue state, north, south, east, and west—were moving into mobilization stages with overdue specific demands for justice, fairness, and participation qua citizens replacing control qua wealth as the sine qua non of government functioning. And, the most ominous sign of all for incumbents: there were early indications of candidates, holding the same beliefs as the protesters, readying challenges to the lawmakers in the upcoming primaries.

    Petitions were circulating on the Internet demanding the members go back to their jobs regardless of the rat infestation. Millions of workers show up every day at jobs far more dangerous. They don’t cower in fear. If they did, they would have their pay cut or be fired by their bosses. The petition pointed out that Members of Congress were getting paid while they stayed home in bed. Outrageous! These petitions contained common left/right demands—the kind that really scare politicians.

No revolution will succeed without a vision. Nader lays out the basics—a guaranteed living wage, full government-funded health insurance, free education including at the university level, the prosecution of corporate criminals, cutting the bloated military budget, an end to empire, criminal justice reform, transferring power from the elites to the citizenry by providing public spaces where consumers, workers and communities can meet and organize, breaking up the big banks and creating a public banking system, protecting and fostering labor unions, removing money from politics, taking the airwaves out of the hands of corporations and returning them to the public and ending subsidies to the fossil fuel industry while keeping fossil fuels in the ground to radically reconfigure our relationship to the ecosystem.

He writes of the popular convergence on the centers of power:

    Meanwhile, by car, bus, rail, plane and even by bicycles and by foot, people of all ages, backgrounds, and places continued to pour into Washington. They filled the restaurants and the motels. They usually had to find a room in a city where there were few affordable apartments but many large, under-inhabited houses whose longtime owners wanted to make some money to pay for their property taxes and repairs. So they were renting to the new arrivals.

    The ways these visitors made their voices heard were quite imaginative. There was a cavalcade of horseback riders in a procession down Constitution Avenue resplendent with the signs, “Pass this …” or “Pass that …” always ending with the ominous “or Else.” One horseman was using his trumpet to raise the emotional level of the demonstration, which was fully covered in the press. Others joined the daily “resign … or else” rally going on at the backside of the Capitol while mini-demonstrations were becoming daily events in front of the White House and at other major government buildings containing departments and agencies. Even those agencies in the suburbs, such as the Pentagon, the CIA, the Patent Office, or the Food and Drug Administration, where the employees had thought they would be beyond reach, did not escape the rallying.

It is a wonderful vision. I hope it comes to pass. But even if it does not, we should try. Appealing to the ruling elites and the two corporate political parties, as well as attempting to have our voices and concerns addressed by the corporate media, which has blacklisted Nader, is a waste of time. The corporate state will be overthrown by a citizens’ revolt or we will continue to barrel toward a political and ecological nightmare. Nader dares to dream. We should too.
Chris Hedges
Chris Hedges is a Truthdig columnist, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, a professor in the college degree program offered to New Jersey state prisoners by Rutgers…
Chris Hedges
In this article:
“how the rats re-formed the congress" congress corporate control economy environment government government reform law politics protest ralph nader senate td originals wall street


2 Days After Legalisation, Canada Pot Stores Run Out Of Supplies

Most consumers were exuberant about the end of prohibition, but a few expressed disappointment over not being able to buy cannabis on the first day.

World | Agence France-Presse | Updated: October 19, 2018 09:14 IST
by Taboola

2 Days After Legalisation, Canada Pot Stores Run Out Of Supplies

People stand in line outside a cannabis store in Canada (AFP)
Ottawa, Canada:

Day two of legal recreational cannabis in Canada on Thursday saw more long lineups outside pot stores and supply shortages in parts of the country.

Most consumers were exuberant about the end of prohibition, but a few expressed disappointment over not being able to buy cannabis on the first day.

Others balked at the relatively high prices -- ranging from Can$5.25 (US$4.02) in Quebec to Can$18.99 in Saskatchewan per gram -- compared to the black market that saw average prices plunge in the last year to Can$6.79 per gram.

After waiting seven hours in line at a store in downtown Montreal on Wednesday, Alexandre, 30, said he was turned away at closing at 9 pm (0100 GMT). Police stepped in to disperse the crowd, without incident.

"It was hell, it was cold," Alexandre said. "But we had fun anyway, talking with people in the crowd and sharing joints."

He was back early Thursday morning to try again.

"Yesterday was the day that everyone was waiting for but I think that little by little the queue will decrease," he said.

'The bomb'

Genevieve Despres, 41, was one of the lucky ones to make it inside the store on Wednesday. She described the scene in line as "super friendly, we sang, we laughed, I made friends."

"I do not usually smoke but since it was a historic day for Canada I thought I'd try," she told AFP.

Despres bought pot with a low level of THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis.

"My God it's the bomb!" she said -- and returned with friends Thursday to buy more.

In Ontario, Canada's most populated province, 38,000 orders for weed worth about Can$750,000 were processed in the first few hours Wednesday (total figures for the day were not yet available), while in neighboring Quebec 42,000 orders were processed in-store and online, smashing all expectations.

"This volume of orders far exceeds the forecasts of the SQDC," the Quebec government pot retailer said.

It said it was "difficult to anticipate the volume of sales ... given the lack of data from a sector that 48 hours ago was still illegal."

The statement added that short-term supply shortages are expected due to "the craze surrounding legalization of cannabis and the scarcity of product across Canada."

Canada's smallest provinces on the Atlantic coast, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, posted Can$660,000 and Can$152,000 in sales, respectively.

Supply shortages were already reported in the provinces of Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, as well as in the Arctic territory of Nunavut.

Several online retailers including the Ontario government's pot portal warned customers to expect shipping delays of up to five days as they worked late into the night filling orders.

Canada Post workers are also poised to strike starting on Monday after more than a year of contract talks stalled, which could further delay deliveries of online orders.

Canada on Wednesday became the world's first major economy and only the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize the recreational use of cannabis and embark on the controversial experiment in drug policy.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended legalization -- the fulfillment of a 2015 campaign promise -- as intended to protect young people and to shut down drug dealers.

But there has been pushback from some doctors and the opposition Tories.

In total, Statistics Canada says 5.4 million Canadians will buy cannabis from legal dispensaries in 2018 -- about 15 percent of the population. Around 4.9 million already smoke.

"We expected, you know, certain strains might run out and there would be a bit of a run on supply," Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who is the government's pointman for legalization, told public broadcaster CBC.

"But, you know, they've got a pretty good infrastructure in place and I'm confident it will work," he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Frostbite Falls Newz / Re: The Great Tombstone Adventure Part 2
« on: October 19, 2018, 05:20:15 AM »
I just love it when you go full Fundy Reverend Gantry.

It's not Fundyism.  Fundies don't believe in Reincarnation.


Economics / 📉 China's economic growth hits nine-year low
« on: October 19, 2018, 04:31:14 AM »
The Chinese are TOAST!


    Business & Economy

China's economic growth hits nine-year low

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China's economic growth slows down to 6.5 percent in the third quarter as trade frictions with the US take their toll.
3 hours ago

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China's economic growth has slowed down to 6.5 percent in the third quarter - its slowest quarterly growth since 2009 - as a campaign to tackle mounting debt and trade frictions with the US take their toll.

The world's second-largest economy expanded 6.5 percent in the July-to-September period year-on-year, according to official gross domestic product (GDP) figures released on Friday by China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The rate is down from 6.8 percent and 6.7 percent in the first and second quarters, respectively, but in line with a growth target of roughly 6.5 percent for the year set by China's economic policymakers.

"Faced with an extremely complex environment abroad and the daunting task of reform and development at home, China's economic growth remained generally steady," said NBS spokesman Mao Shengyong.

The reading will likely put pressure on the leadership to provide fresh support as investors grow increasingly concerned about a flood of cash leaving the country, which has seen the yuan and stock markets fall to four-year lows.
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China is in the midst of an increasingly bitter trade row with the United States, with both sides exchanging tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods that have fanned fears about the impact on the global economy.

But the standoff comes at a tough time for Beijing, which is battling to tackle a mountain of debt, with credit tightening and infrastructure investment falling.

And while exports to the US have held up so far, the trade frictions have sapped confidence.

Stock index falls

As a result, Shanghai's composite stock index has fallen by about a third from its January high, while the yuan has slipped about nine percent against the dollar.

In response, three of China's top financial officials, including the head of the central People's Bank of China, made a concerted effort on Friday morning to reassure investors and to stem the market sell-off that one of them called "abnormal".

Adding to concerns was data showing fixed-asset investment growth remains down. It inched up to 5.4 percent in January-September from a record low of 5.3 percent in the first eight months as Beijing reined in spending on bridges, railways, and highways this year.

Spending appears to be bottoming out thanks to the recent step up in local government borrowing, said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics.

But he added: "Looking ahead, we doubt the latest pick-up in infrastructure spending will be enough to prevent the economy from cooling further in the coming quarters."

Analysts say the slowing growth could prompt an end to Beijing's fiscal prudence, while the gloomy export picture has reinforced the need for China to rely on its legion of consumers to grow its economy.

"We expect further escalation of US-China trade tensions going into 2019, which will likely be partially offset by yuan adjustment and more growth-supportive fiscal and monetary policies," JPMorgan economists led by Zhu Haibin, said in a note.

Washington has hit roughly half of Chinese imports worth about $250 while Beijing has responded in kind.

Exports still drive a significant chunk of China's economy and Washington's targeting of cars, machinery, electronics, consumer appliances and other products has led many firms to shift production out of the country, or begin considering it.

Geopolitics / 🚢 Trump warns caravan of immigrants heading to US
« on: October 19, 2018, 04:18:42 AM »
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Trump administration supports Mexico, UN plan to deal with caravan of migrants
Sergio Bustos, USA TODAY Published 11:12 p.m. ET Oct. 18, 2018 | Updated 1:45 a.m. ET Oct. 19, 2018

The president has vowed "very severe" consequences if the Saudi government is found responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.USA TODAY
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(Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)

The Trump administration on Thursday night welcomed a Mexican government plan to work with the United Nations refugee agency to deal with a controversial caravan of mostly Honduran migrants — fleeing poverty and violence — before they can make their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The caravan of migrants, who number anywhere between 1,500 to 4,000 people, has angered President Donald Trump. This week, he threatened the governments in Central America and Mexico if they failed to deal with the situation.

A top Mexican official said Thursday night that his government will ask the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help identify “legitimate” asylum claims from the migrants who are part of the caravan making its way through his country’s southern border en route to the U.S.

Under the Mexican government’s plan, those migrants whose asylum claims get rejected would be immediately repatriated to Honduras and other countries, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., told Fox News’ “Special Report” in an interview.
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“We want to make sure that those claims are legitimate,” he said, noting a handful of migrants had already applied for asylum in Mexico.

“We obviously are sensitive to the humanitarian situation that we encounter,” said Gutiérrez. “But we have also made very clear that there is no legal ground on which Mexico can issue a permit by which people can just go through Mexico towards the United States.”

“Mexico is in favor of legal, safe and orderly migration,” he added. “And the step we took today, it’s extremely important.” 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is visiting Mexico on Friday, applauded the move by Mexican government officials.

“We welcome the Government of Mexico’s statement that they will seek cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address immigration issues in the region, including the influx of people arriving in Mexico,” he said in a statement. “The United States stands ready to assist the Government of Mexico and UNHCR in this effort.”

Mexico’s decision to seek UN assistance came following a barrage of tweets from Trump over the past two days in which he railed against Democrats in Congress and the governments of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, threatening to cut off U.S. aid to the Central American countries and close the southern border.

“The assault on our country at our Southern Border, including the Criminal elements and DRUGS pouring in, is far more important to me, as President, than Trade or the USMCA. Hopefully Mexico will stop this onslaught at their Northern Border. All Democrats fault for weak laws!” he wrote in one of his tweets.


In a separate tweet, Trump later thanked Mexico for sending law enforcement officers to its southern border to intercept the migrant caravan, linking to a short video clip of dozens of Mexican federal police disembarking from a plane.

Trump tweeted his praise shortly before Thursday night’s campaign rally in Montana, where he blasted Democrats before next month’s midterm elections.

“They wanted that caravan,” Trump said of Democrats. “It’s going to be an election of the caravan.”

Trump is ramping up his rhetoric on immigration as he begins a three-day campaign swing of western states where border security has become a top issue in the upcoming election.

In his interview with Fox News, Mexico’s Gutiérrez criticized organizers of the migrant caravan.

“It’s not in the interest of anybody to have those people make that trip,” he said. “They’re frequently tricked by human smuggling organizations.”

He also said the Mexican government had “evidence that this caravan is also very much politically motivated,” but he did not elaborate.

More: Trump claims Democrats wanted caravan, ups immigration rhetoric ahead of western swing

Also: Trump: Aid will end to Central American countries allowing migrant caravan to head to US

He acknowledged, however, the need for Mexico and the U.S. to continue aiding Central American countries, while enforcing its own immigration laws.

“We need to work in development and help those countries, and we’re doing [it].  And we also need to make sure that laws are enforced, and that’s also what we’re doing.”

The Honduran migrant group started last Friday with about 160 people who banded together in the hopes that their numbers would protect them from robbers and other dangers facing them on their journey, according to The Associated Press. Organizers said they were fleeing north from a corrupt Honduran government, along with rampant poverty and violence.

According to the World Bank, 66 percent of Hondurans live in poverty and about one out of five Hondurans in rural areas live on less than $1.90 a day.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, slammed the Trump administration for backing Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s “corrupt government” and “painting a picture of this migrant caravan as a threat to our national security instead of the desperate group of refugees that they are.”

“The migrant caravan struggling toward our border is a direct result of Juan Orlando Hernandez’s anti-democratic regime,” she said in a statement on Thursday night. “We must support these refugees and stop turning a blind eye to Hernandez’s repression and violence.”

Also: Trump threatens to seal U.S.-Mexico border over migrant caravan. Can he do it?

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