Chicago 1900: Pickled hands and much worse

October 25th, 2021


“In the beginning he had been fresh and strong, and he had gotten a job
that first day, but now he was second-hand, a damaged article, so to speak, and they did not want him. They had worn him out, with their speedin-up and their carelessness, and now they had thrown him away!”Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906) Meatpacking workers carrying their product to unrefrigerated and most likely rat infested storage areas

Newly hired children workers.

The nightmare of the Chicago meatpacking industry was described as follows:

The words of the late Pulitzer prize winning author Upton Sinclair only begin to tell the story of the beginning of the Chicago meatpacking business. As the wheels of American industries began to move, so moved the meatpacking business in Chicago 1900 – and the conditions were unsanitary, unregulated, and clearly unsafe. Add into the equation long hours, low wages, and child workers, what emerges is a social nightmare.

It was January 12, 1909, and the weather in Chicago was typical – freezing cold, and the wind coming off the Chicago river was harsh. Early that morning, John Panzezyk set off from his dismal tenement home in the Stockyard district to walk the short distance to his job at a meatpacking plant. His work days were usually 12 to 15 hours, and this day, he was simply hoping to stay warm. He said goodbye to his wife and four small children. Sadly, it would be the last time they would see him alive. Later that day, John was killed at work when he got caught in the belting of a large meat machine. In a time when big business ruled, and workers had no rights, and certainly no extended benefits, it is likely that Mrs. Panzezyk and her children would soon become destitute, and possibly homeless. The reality of this terrible event offers a small window into the family tragedy that would have certainly followed. The story of John Panzezyk serves as just one example of the realities that Upton Sinclair was trying to express.

Our Great American Heritage for more

Alison Gopnik: Cognition, care and spirituality

October 25th, 2021

The psychologist and philosopher Alison Gopnik explains how the act of caring puts us in touch with our deepest humanity.

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Weekend Edition

October 22nd, 2021

Colin Powell, the vial guy, is dead

October 22nd, 2021


United States Secretary of State Colin Powell holding a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council PHOTO/Wikipedia

an explosion on US carrier USS Maine was blamed on Spain

Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!

such a rallying cry in the US led to a US/Spain war in 1898

The US heavily profited, it usurped:

Guam, the Philippines, & Puerto Rico from Spain

Although, Cuba got independence from Spain …

it remained in US shackles till 1959, when Castro and Che freed it

before Fox News, CNN, Washington Post …

there were other rumour mongers and war mongers

William Hearst’s New York World & Joseph Pulitzer’s New York Journal

Hearst quoted an “officer high in authority

“The idea that the catastrophe resulted from an internal accident [on USS Maine] is preposterous. In the first place, such a thing has never occurred before that I have ever heard of either in the British navy or ours.

a blatant lie from Hearst

nowadays, BBC, NYT etc quote “Western sources,” “government sources” …

in 1964, President Johnson wanted to escalate the US war in Vietnam

so he falsely claimed that Viet Minh naval forces had attacked US vessels

the result:

war was intensified with huge devastation and millions of deaths

Colin Powell didn’t need big ships to convince people for a war

on February 5, 2003, Powell spoke at the United Nations:

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

one of the sources was Rafid al-Janabi who later admitted that he was lying:

“I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the [Saddam] regime. I and my sons are proud of that and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy.”

common people feel they’ve caused certain devastating events

as if Bush and his team of rogues needed al-Janabi to go to war

al-Janabi was quoted in the Guardian whose headline itself was a lie:

Curveball: How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam

nobody dupes the US; the US always pretends that it’s being duped

was Colin Powell duped? hell no!

Powell wanted to save his ass as much as he could

so to strengthen his case

he and his state department tried to get whatever they could

in 2009, Powell lamely defended the war to CNN’s Larry King:

“You are always his voice. It’s just like in the military — you argue, you debate something, but once the president has made a decision, that becomes a decision for the cabinet.”

Collin was his master’s voice, literally

to King’s query, “And if it’s immoral, you quit, right?” Powell replied:

“If it’s immoral, you quit.”

one wonders what was moral about the horrific war against the Iraqis?

the vial Powell displayed at the UN should be placed in his coffin

he’s dead so it would be inapt to suggest any other place for that vial

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

Why is the US right suddenly interested in Native American adoption law?

October 22nd, 2021


Members of the Mosakahiken Cree Nation hug in front of a makeshift memorial at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honor the 215 children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility, in British Columbia. PHOTO/Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images

A 1978 law tried to remedy adoption practices created to forcibly assimilate Native children. Now conservative lawyers are arguing that the law constitutes ‘reverse racism’

George Armstrong Custer of the Seventh Cavalry was infamous during the 19th-century Indian wars for riding into the enemy camp, holding Native women, children and elders hostage at gunpoint, and forcing the surrender of the tribe. He systematically attacked and captured civilians to crush Indigenous resistance, which is partly how he defeated the Cheyenne at the Battle of Washita River in 1868. Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho warriors later killed Custer as he fled after trying the same hostage-taking ploy at the Battle of Greasy Grass in 1876.

Attacking non-combatants, especially children, to enable the conquest of land by destroying the family, and therefore Indigenous nations, wasn’t unique to Custer or the US military.

There’s a reason why “forcibly transferring children” from one group to another is an international legal definition of genocide. Taking children has been one strategy for terrorizing Native families for centuries, from the mass removal of Native children from their communities into boarding schools to their widespread adoption and fostering out to mostly white families. It’s what led to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, touchstone legislation that aimed to reverse more than a century of state-sponsored family separation.

Yet the spirit of Custer still haunts the fate of Native children even today. The fight has shifted from battlefield to courtroom.

In the new season of the This Land podcast premiering this Monday, Cherokee journalist Rebecca Nagle shows how corporate lawyers and rightwing thinktanks like the Cato Institute have teamed up with non-Native families to not only dismantle the ICWA but the entire legal structure protecting Native rights. And so far, they’ve made small but important victories.

Last April, an appeals court upheld parts of a federal district court decision, in a case called Brackeen v Haaland, that found parts of ICWA “unconstitutional”. The non-Indian plaintiffs contend that federal protections to keep Native children with Native families constitute illegal racial discrimination, and that ICWA’s federal standards “commandeer” state courts and agencies for a federal agenda. Put plainly, the mostly white families wanting to foster and adopt Native children are claiming reverse racism and arguing that federal overreach is trampling states’ rights – two codewords frequently associated with dismantling anti-racist policies.

According to this upside-down logic, ICWA – monumental legislation consciously designed to undo genocidal, racist policy – is racist because it prevents mostly non-Indians from adopting Native children. The thinking is as old as the “civilizing” mission of colonialism – saving brown children from brown parents.

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Edward Said “The Idea Of Empire” feat Eqbal Ahmed – 1993 – Arena Series

October 22nd, 2021

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The vocabulary of neoliberal diplomacy in today’s New Cold War

October 21st, 2021


George Soros PHOTO/CC BY-SA by boellstiftung/Greanville Post

George Soros has thrown a public hissy fit over the fact that he can’t make the kind of easy money off China that he was able to make when the Soviet Union was carved up and privatized. On September 7, 2021, in his second mainstream editorial in a week, George Soros expressed his horror at the recommendation by Black Rock, the world’s largest asset manager, that financial managers should triple their investment in China. Claiming that such investment would imperil U.S. national security by helping China, Mr. Soros stepped up his advocacy of U.S. financial and trade sanctions.

China’s policy of shaping markets to promote overall prosperity, instead of letting the economic surplus be concentrated in the hands of corporate and foreign investors, is an existential threat to America’s neoliberal priorities, he spells out. President Xi’s “Common Prosperity” program “seeks to reduce inequality by distributing the wealth of the rich to the general population. That does not augur well for foreign investors.”[1] To neoliberals, that is heresy.

Criticizing China’s “abrupt cancellation of a new issue by Alibaba’s Ant group in November 2020,” and “banishment of U.S.-financed tutoring companies from China,” Mr. Soros singles out Blackstone’s co-founder Stephen Schwarzman and former Goldman Sachs President John L. Thornton for seeking to make financial returns for their investors instead of treating China as an enemy state and looming Cold War adversary:

The BlackRock initiative imperils the national security interests of the U.S. and other democracies because the money invested in China will help prop up President Xi’s regime … Congress should pass legislation empowering the Securities and Exchange Commission to limit the flow of funds to China. The effort ought to enjoy bipartisan support.

The New York Times published a prominent article defining the “Biden Doctrine” as seeing “China as America’s existential competitor; Russia as a disrupter; Iran and North Korea as nuclear proliferators, cyberthreats as ever-evolving and terrorism as spreading far beyond Afghanistan.” Against these threats, the article depicts U.S. strategy as representing “democracy,” the euphemism for countries with minimal governments leaving economic planning to Wall Street financial managers, and infrastructure in the hands of private investors, not provided at subsidized prices. Nations restrict monopolies and related rent-seeking are accused of being autocratic.

The problem, of course, is that just as the United States, Germany and other nations grew into industrial powers in the 19th and 20th century by government-sponsored infrastructure, progressive taxation, and anti-monopoly legislation, the post-1980 rejection of these policies has led them into economic stagnation for the 99 Percent burdened by debt deflation and rising rentier overhead paid to the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sectors. China is thriving by following precisely the policies by which the former leading industrial nations grew rich before suffering from the neoliberal financialization disease. This contrast prompts the article’s thrust, summarized in its summary of what it hopes will become a Congressionally supported Biden Doctrine of escalating a New Cold War against non-neoliberalized economies, juxtaposing U.S.-sponsored liberal-democratic imperialism against foreign socialism:

Last month, Mr. Blinken warned that China and Russia were ‘making the argument in public and in private that the United States is in decline – so it’s better to cast your lot with their authoritarian visions for the world than with our democratic one.[2]

Mr. Soros had seen the ending of the Cold War open the path for him and other foreign investors to use “shock therapy” to provide easy pickings in Russia, followed by the much broader Asian Crisis of 1997 as a grab-bag opportunity to buy up the most lucrative rent-yielding assets. He is upset that President Xi is not emulating Boris Yeltsin and letting a client kleptocracy emerge in China to carve up Russia’s economy – which made Russia’s stock market the world’s darling for a few years, 1995-97.

Counterpunch for more

The murderous plot against Julian Assange

October 21st, 2021


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange angered the CIA after sensitive information was published SCREENSHOT/via YouTube

After sensitive CIA information was leaked, Mike Pompeo and the Trump Administration sought to exact revenge upon Julian Assange. Dr John Jiggens reports.

In April 2017, CIA director Mike Pompeo declared that it was time to call out WikiLeaks, describing it as “a non-state hostile Intelligence service, often abetted by state actors like Russia” and said that WikiLeaks would be ended.

Julian Assange responded to Pompeo’s threat in an interview with Jeremy Scahill on his podcast, The Intercept:

“Pompeo has stated that this is the end of WikiLeaks and its publications. So how does he propose to conduct this ending? He didn’t say, but the CIA is only in the business of collecting information, kidnapping people and assassinating people. So it’s quite a menacing statement that he does need to clarify.”

In a powerful piece of investigative journalism this week, Yahoo! News revealed that Julian Assange’s suspicions were right. Pompeo’s speech marked an intensification of the war on WikiLeaks. The CIA had begun planning to either kidnap Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy or to assassinate the Australian publisher.

The Yahoo! teams’ investigation was based on conversations with 30 former U.S. officials. Among those interviewed, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange. They said Assange had become an obsession for the CIA and its director Mike Pompeo.

The Yahoo! team quoted one associate who said:

“Pompeo was completely detached from reality and was seeing blood.”

Greg Barns SC, a barrister and advisor to Julian Assange, told Bay FM that the CIA was angry over the leak about the CIA’s secret computer hacking tools, known as Vault 7:

Essentially, this was after the publication by WikiLeaks, called ‘Vault 7’, which is a highly classified document of the CIA that is a how-to manual, if you like, and provides a lot of detailed information about how the CIA goes about its very darkest operations. Once it was published, it created a storm. What was already a hostile climate became intense, a collective hatred for Assange in the CIA, which built on top of the already hostile climate WikiLeaks faced in Washington generally.

Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA director then and would later become Secretary of State under Trump, became party to a scheme, which was essentially to kidnap or kill Assange. The CIA hatched a number of extraordinary plans, which were knocked back as too dangerous and likely to endanger U.S. legal moves.

Independent Australia for more

The meandering nature of the Quad

October 21st, 2021


By coincidence, perhaps, on the same day that US President Joe Biden hosted the first Quad summit, he also cleared the way for a senior executive of Huawei Technologies to return to Beijing –“removing one major irritant between the two superpowers,” as The New York Times put it . 

Meng Wanzhou’s release on Friday made headlines overshadowing the Quad event. Beijing reciprocated instantly by releasing former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor.

Meng’s detention had had“major geopolitical implications, further souring relations between Beijing and both Washington and Ottawa,” The Washington Post noted. 

Perhaps something of that“feel-good” rubbed on to the Quad joint statement , where Washington agreed that the grouping stood for“a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is also inclusive and resilient.” (Emphasis added.)

Washington’s stubborn refusal to utter that nine-letter word“inclusive” was meant to be a jab at China, and the shift is a sign of realism. It hints at renewed overture to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an attempt to assuage the European sentiments aggrieved over the US pivot away from the trans-Atlantic alliance. 

Contextually, as WaPo put it:“Coming on the heels of a diplomatic blowup over a US plan to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia [AUKUS], the Biden administration sought to play down the idea that the Quad grouping could become a new kind of trans-Pacific military alliance. Rather, US officials call it ‘informal’ and non-military.

“Biden also did not mention China by name during his address to the United Nations General Assembly [on September 21], though he told the gathering that he does not seek ‘a new Cold War.’” 

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Five foods the ancient Egyptians used to eat

October 20th, 2021


Detail from North Side of the West Wall of Nakht’s Offering Chapel showing grape picking to make wine IMAGE/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Evidence of some uniquely Egyptian foods from the ancient world still remains – a record of the diets and plans for the afterlife

We might not know what was on the daily menu in a typical ancient Egyptian household, but there’s no shortage of evidence of favourite foods. 

Dr Mennat-Allah El Dorry, an archaeologist and archaeobotanist who specialises in the history of food, says that the cuisine Egyptian rulers prepared for the afterlife are well documented, and a clue to what Egyptians ate in daily life.

“Things like how many meals they ate a day weren’t significant enough to document for all eternity, and it wasn’t going to help you have a good afterlife. What would help you have a good afterlife? Having bread and beer,” says El Dorry. 

One of the main sources of what we know about ancient Egyptian cuisine are the remains found in tombs, including an abundance of foodstuffs, ostensibly left for afterlife servants to prepare and for the deceased to enjoy.

Middle East Eye for more