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Category Archives: North America

Stop trying to educate fascists

In 2007, I worked at Quartet Copies, a print shop in Evanston, Illinois. My manager at the time, Vic, found out I was Jewish. In front of the whole staff he joked, “Hey Mike, what’s the difference between a Jew and a pizza? A pizza doesn’t scream when you put it in the oven.” I locked myself in the bathroom at work, crying. I didn’t know how to assert myself and I fled in fear. I thought about trying to persuade him to realizing why he said was wrong, but instead I just tried to escape. 

White supremacy can take many, many forms. It can be verbal, institutional, and violent. And unfortunately, we have to, once again, talk about when it becomes fatal.

It is nauseating to think that today we as a country are once more reckoning with white supremacist violence. Here we go again. Another set of body cameras turned off. Another innocent Black man shot. The term “innocent” should not be necessary for clarification, because cops shouldn’t be shooting guilty people either.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2020 in North America

 

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Reclaiming American Greatness

Julia Jackson, the mother of Jacob Blake, a young black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was shot seven times in the back by police, got it right when she said, “America is great when we behave greatly.” Sadly, for the past four years, President Donald Trump has been leading America in the exact opposite direction.

The country’s entire history seems to be on the line when Trump faces the voters again on November 3. It has been 160 years since the United States tried to deal with its “original sin” of African slavery. On that occasion, President Abraham Lincoln famously warned that, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Yet, under Trump, all of America’s divisions have been widened.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2020 in North America

 

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The Revenge of the Special Relationship

Seventy-five years ago, the prestige of the United States and the United Kingdom could not have been higher. They had defeated imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, and they did so in the name of freedom and democracy. True, their ally, Stalin’s Soviet Union, had different ideas about these fine ideals, and did most of the fighting against Hitler’s Wehrmacht. Still, the English-speaking victors shaped the post-war order in large parts of the world.

The basic principles of this order had been laid down in the Atlantic Charter, drawn up in 1941 by Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt on a battleship off the coast of Newfoundland. What they had in mind, after the eventual defeat of the Axis powers, was a world of international cooperation, multilateral institutions, and the right of peoples to be independent and free. Although Churchill resisted extending this right to Britain’s colonial subjects, Roosevelt believed that the Anglo-American relationship was too important to quarrel about it too much.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/revenge-of-us-uk-special-relationship-by-ian-buruma-2020-08

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2020 in Europe, North America

 

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The Democrats need a plan to stop Donald Trump from stealing the election

Donald Trump spoke, his son spoke, his son’s girlfriend spoke, his daughter spoke, another son spoke  – and that was only the first two days of the Republican National Convention. What they spoke was mainly lies, about Joe Biden and the Democrats.

Biden wants a “government takeover of healthcare”, said the former UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Not true. Biden wants to “abolish suburbs altogether”,  said Patricia McCloskey, referring to an Obama-era rule designed to stop racial segregation in housing. McCloskey is famous for pointing a gun at Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters as they passed her home – but you can’t point a gun at facts. 

And as one over-groomed and crimplene-suited person vacated the stand for another, the lies got bigger. Trump was “decisive” over Covd-19 while Democrats and the media “downplayed” it. The record shows Trump first claimed the virus was a Democrat-led “hoax” and then said it would “disappear” through a miracle.

On top of the lies was a layer of far-right code words and trigger points unprecedented in the history of official conservative politics. Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former prosecutor, attorney and TV personality who is dating Donald Trump Jr, delivered a primetime speech in which she called leading Democrats members of a “cosmopolitan elite”. She added: “They want to destroy this country… to steal your liberty, your freedom; they want to control what you see and think and believe, so that they can control how you live.”

https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2020/08/democrats-need-plan-stop-donald-trump-stealing-election

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2020 in North America

 

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Before a fatal shooting, teenage Kenosha suspect idolized the police

Before he took his rifle and drove 20 miles up the road to confront the unrest in Kenosha, Wis., Kyle Rittenhouse seemingly idolized one thing: the police.

Growing up in Chicago’s far northern suburbs, the 17-year-old shadowed local law enforcement, filling his social media feeds with posts declaring that “Blue Lives Matter” and photos of himself posing with guns.

On Tuesday night, Rittenhouse was with fellow armed men self-appointed to protect the streets of a city aflame, insisting he was there to render first aid and protect a business. But asked by a reporter to clarify whether his role was “nonlethal,” he cradled his weapon and pointedly disagreed.

“We don’t have nonlethal,” Rittenhouse said.

Now the teen is in custody, suspected of shooting three people, two of whom died. Instead of helping to keep the peace, authorities say, Rittenhouse turned an already chaotic situation into a murder scene.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/27/kyle-rittenhouse-kenosha-shooting-protests/

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2020 in North America

 

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Two Disasters Are Exponentially Worse Than One

Eleven thousand lightning strikes, 370 wildfires, a pandemic, a heat wave, and rolling blackouts—California has endured a lot this week. Hundreds of thousands of acres have burned, and tens of thousands of people have had to evacuate. The largest of the blazes—the LNU Lightning Complex fires, which alone span Napa, Sonoma, Solano, and Lake Counties—is only 7 percent contained.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/08/exponential-threat-pandemic-wildfires/615574/

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2020 in North America

 

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Trump’s performance at the Republican convention reminds me of Saddam Hussein – nationalism at its worst

The Republican convention was a nauseating performance even by the cess-pit standards of the Trump administration. In its cult-like obeisance to the supreme leader it reminds me of meetings of the Iraqi Baath Party that periodically endorsed Saddam Hussein as the national saviour.

The only speeches acceptable in both cases were dollops of fawning praise. Speakers outdid each other in adulation, pretending that shambolic failures were triumphant successes. Trump’s calamitous inability to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, leading to the death of 180,000 Americans, was ignored. Thirty years ago, Saddam Hussein likewise informed wildly applauding Baathists that the “mother of battles” in Kuwait had been a splendid Iraqi victory.

The comparison is not fanciful: the Iraqi Baath Party was an Arab nationalist party and the Republican Party could well be renamed the American Nationalist Party. In each case, anybody whose loyalty to the leader was suspect has mostly been purged and replaced with flunkies and members of the leader’s family.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/trump-rnc-2020-speech-us-election-saddam-hussein-nationalism-a9693416.html

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2020 in North America

 

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The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling

The year 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

https://theintercept.com/2020/08/28/the-social-fabric-of-the-u-s-is-fraying-severely-if-not-unravelling/

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2020 in North America

 

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How the Pandemic Defeated America

How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.

In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million. But few countries have been as severely hit as the United States, which has just 4 percent of the world’s population but a quarter of its confirmed COVID‑19 cases and deaths. These numbers are estimates. The actual toll, though undoubtedly higher, is unknown, because the richest country in the world still lacks sufficient testing to accurately count its sick citizens.

Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer. “The U.S. fundamentally failed in ways that were worse than I ever could have imagined,” Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, told me.

Since the pandemic began, I have spoken with more than 100 experts in a variety of fields. I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/09/coronavirus-american-failure/614191/

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2020 in North America, Reportages

 

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Male Leadership Malpractice

The United States, Brazil, and India have surged ahead of the rest of the world in terms of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with no peak in sight. They (and fourth-place Russia) have one thing in common: macho leaders with authoritarian personalities.

There are notable differences in how these countries have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump have consistently downplayed the severity of the threat, and refused to take strong action.

More recently, Trump adjusted his stance somewhat, undoubtedly motivated by his falling approval rating. For example, he has begun wearing a mask in public, after months of refusing to do so – and ridiculing those who did. But he continues to undermine health experts with false and misleading claims. Bolsonaro, for his part, remains cavalier, even after having contracted (and recovered from) COVID-19.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/bolsonaro-trump-modi-leadership-failures-covid-19-by-jayati-ghosh-2020-08

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2020 in Asia, North America, South America

 

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