Surreal reality: Killer Rittnehouse goes free

November 26th, 2021

by B. R. GOWANI

The one in T-shirt is Kyle Rittnehouse with AR-15 rifle PHOTO/Huffington Post
CARTOON/Matt Wuerker/Politico
“Acquitted killer Kyle Rittenhouse (right) flew to the Mar-a-Lago resort of twice-impeached former president Donald Trump (left) in Palm Beach, Florida, following the teen’s recent criminal trial.” PHOTO/Screenshot/Twitter/Yahoo

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Illinoisan, killed 2 and injured another

in Kenosha, a town in the neighboring state of Wisconsin, on 08/25/20

on 11/19/21, he was acquitted of all charges on the basis of “self defense”

the surreal thing is the murderer went unpunished; was glorified

racist/misogynist/bigot Donald Trump met him in his Florida mansion

former president told Fox TV’s Sean Hannity that he met Rittenhouse.

“Kyle [Rittnehouse], I got to know him a little bit…really a nice young man. That was prosecutorial misconduct.” “He called. He wanted to know if he could come over and say hello because he was a fan. He came over with his mother, really a nice young man.”

Rittenhouse also got internship offers by many congresspersons

US House Representative Matt Gaetz (Republican) said the following:

“He is not guilty and deserves a not guilty verdict.” “You know what, Kyle Rittenhouse would probably make a pretty good Congressional intern. We might reach out to him and see if he be interested in helping the country in additional ways.”

“helping the country”? how?

by killing people in 2024 when Republican candidate denies defeat

Marjorie Taylor Greene proposes Congressional Gold Medal for Rittenhouse

Greene has already introduced a bill in the Congress

but earlier she had voted against awarding a medal to police officers

U.S. Capitol Police officers who faced rioters on January 6, 2021

Fox TV’s T. Carlson interview of Rittenhouse attracted 5 million viewers!

the more surreal thing is yet to come post 2024 presidential election

a recent poll: Trump is still the “800-pound gorilla” dominating his party

if Trump or a more nastier character than Trump loses election

all hell will break loose when Trump or other refuse to accept the result

the Republican Party is propelling this country on the path to a civil war

Noam Chomsky describes Republicans as the “gang of radical sadists

this will prompt the Republican supporters to come out on the streets

they have all the weapons at their disposal – and have plenty of them

they can use “self defense” excuse as Rittenhouse successfully did

and Rittenhouse’s “future looks hideously bright,” as Kali Holloway says

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

Une chorégraphie originale par Sadeck Waff

November 26th, 2021

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Why capitalism needs imperialism to drain wealth from the global South

November 26th, 2021

by RANIA KHALEK

Why does capitalism need imperialism? What is the magnitude of colonial and imperial theft of resources from the Global South? How did global capitalism adapt after World War II and in the neoliberal era? And how is it fueling neofascist movements today?

Rania Khalek was joined by renowned Marxist Economist Utsa Patnaik. She is co-author of “A Theory of Imperialism” and the more recent “Capital and Imperialism: Theory, History, and the Present,” with Prabhat Patnaik.

TIME CODES 0:00 Intro 1:00 Why Marxism is important to understanding imperialism 2:41 How much wealth was stolen by colonial powers from the Global South? 7:29 What to look at to quantify colonial transfers of wealth 9:50 Effects of British colonial drain on India, then and now 11:23 Why we don’t understand mechanisms of colonial drain 13:26 Why the Global North stole from the Global South 17:04 Oil in West Asia as primary product the Global North needs 19:35 The Global South is NOT poor! 22:32 Why did the Global North have to subjugate the Global South? 25:21 Magnitude of colonial transfers from India to England, 1700s 33:42 The industrialization of the Global North deindustrialized the Global South 39:21 The slave trade & indigenous land theft 42:24 The Global South does not need trade from the Global North 52:15 After 1857 mechanism of British colonial drain changes 58:19 How the budgetary revenues were used by colonial powers 1:03:08 British colonialism drained $64 trillion from India! 1:06:03 From colonialism to imperialism and The rise of neoliberalism 1:23:37 Capitalism caused food insecurity and farmer’s protests in India 1:28:52 Connection between neoliberalism & neofascism

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China’s Fortune Cookie crumbles…

November 25th, 2021

by MICHAEL HUDSON & ROSS ASHCROFT

Hungarian-born US investor and philanthropist George Soros receives the Schumpeter Award 2019 in Vienna, Austria on June 21, 2019. PHOTO / © AFP 2021 / Georg Hochmuth /
Sputnik International

Ross: Welcome to Renegade Inc. With China’s increasing wealth, Western investors want some of the action. One of those investors is a bullish gentleman called George Soros. However, the Chinese are acutely aware that with Western investment comes inequality. So as Beijing begins to rethink how to do proper economic growth, we ask, will China learn from Western mistakes?

Ross: Michael Hudson, always great to have you back on Renegade Inc.

Michael Hudson: It’s good to be back here. Thanks for having me.

Ross: Michael, we join you at a time where a lot of people think the unipolar world could have maintained its supremacy. Turns out it hasn’t. Multipolar world is here to stay. You of late have been quite vocal about George Soros, no less. Mr. Soros has been casting aspersions about various things, but one of them is talking about the Chinese economy and why Black Rock, amongst others, should be allowed to invest there, because ultimately it’s going to undo American interests. Can you unpack that for us because it seems very complicated?

Michael Hudson: Well, George Soros’ dream is that China would do what Yeltsin did to Russia – that it would privatise the economy, that it would basically carve it up and let US investors buy control of the most profitable heights. And in that way, the foreign investors would be able to sort of get all of the profits of Chinese industry, Chinese labour, and it would become the darling stock market of the world, just like Russia’s stock market was the leading booming stock market of 1994-96 and that China, essentially, would be run to benefit US investment bankers. And Soros is furious that China is not following the neoliberal policy that the United States is following. It’s following a socialist policy wanting to keep its economic surplus at home to benefit its own citizens, not American financial investors. And so this, for Soros, is a clash of civilisations. And he said somehow we’ve got to stifle the Chinese economy. We’ve got to put sanctions against it. We’ve got to stop investing in it to force it to do to its country what Yeltsin did to Russia.

Ross: Let’s hear it in his words. He says: ‘The Black Rock initiative imperils the national security interests of the US and other democracies because the money invested in China will help prop up President Xis regime, which is repressive at home and aggressive abroad. 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’. He’s not mincing his words, is he?

Michael Hudson: Well, he’s a comedian. What’s wrong with that statement? He thinks that China actually needs American dollars to build its factories and invest. He thinks that somehow China’s balance of payments is going to fall apart without the US market, without US investors telling President Xi what to do. The Chinese government won’t have a clue as to what to invest in and how to let the ‘free market’, meaning George Soros and Black Rock and other companies, operate. So he’s living in a dream world where other people need us. It’s like a guy who doesn’t realise his girlfriend doesn’t need him anymore.

Ross: There seems to me to be a distinction here that the Chinese are acutely aware of, and it’s between the classical economists and the neoclassical economists. The classical economists have understood the idea of unearned wealth, unearned income. The neoclassical economists actively chase unearned wealth, unearned income, because that is central to their playbook. Can you just expand on those two ideas? And is it the case that that’s why you talk about a clash of civilisations?

Michael Hudson: Well, you put your finger on it, Ross. Well, people think that China’s advantage is its abundant, low priced labour force or the government building infrastructure. But what’s guiding this all is an understanding of the kind of economics that actually goes back even beyond Marx, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill and the other economists. They realise there’s a difference between earning and creating wealth by employing labour to produce goods, to sell at a profit and then reinvesting the profits and more capital formation, or simply buying a rent yielding property, buying land and letting it rise in price without the landlord doing anything, buying a monopoly and just raising the price and charging monopoly prices like the US pharmaceutical companies are doing.

China understands the difference between earned income and unearned income, between productive investment and unproductive investment. And in the United States, if they do recognise this difference, they realise that unearned income you can make wealth by parasitically much quicker than you can actually create wealth. It’s cheaper to be a parasite than a host. And so most of the financial strategy of Wall Street thinks, how can we get something for nothing? How can we get a free lunch? Well, let’s begin by telling people, having Milton Friedman as a kind of sock puppet saying there is no such thing as a free lunch, when the whole of Wall Street is looking for a free lunch. They’re looking to grab Chinese assets on the cheap, like Soros is grabbing post-Soviet assets. They’re looking for monopoly rights. They’re looking for lending money and let China do the work, just pay the interest to the Americans that are going to be providing it with money that the Federal Reserve ends up creating on its computers or that George Soros already has saved largely by how he got the free lunch from the Bank of England betting against that and driving Sterling down.

Ross: Some people call it the free world. Others call it a democracy. Others, for America, call it an advanced oligarchy. Do you think that the Chinese have looked at America and the wider West, understood that privatising all that rent has ultimately led to societal decline?

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Documentary ‘Apna Time Aayega’: When Dalits fight for dignity

November 25th, 2021

THE QUINT

The Quint’s original documentary on how several Dalits in eastern Uttar Pradesh are breaking through the obstacles of caste discrimination, fighting for dignity, asserting their aspirations and demanding political representation.

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AI generates hypotheses human scientists have not thought of

November 25th, 2021

by ROBIN BLADES

Machine learning techniques can help researchers develop novel hypotheses. PHOTO/ Getty Images

Machine-learning algorithms can guide humans toward new experiments and theories

Electric vehicles have the potential to substantially reduce carbon emissions, but car companies are running out of materials to make batteries. One crucial component, nickel, is projected to cause supply shortages as early as the end of this year. Scientists recently discovered four new materials that could potentially help—and what may be even more intriguing is how they found these materials: the researchers relied on artificial intelligence to pick out useful chemicals from a list of more than 300 options. And they are not the only humans turning to A.I. for scientific inspiration.

Creating hypotheses has long been a purely human domain. Now, though, scientists are beginning to ask machine learning to produce original insights. They are designing neural networks (a type of machine-learning setup with a structure inspired by the human brain) that suggest new hypotheses based on patterns the networks find in data instead of relying on human assumptions. Many fields may soon turn to the muse of machine learning in an attempt to speed up the scientific process and reduce human biases.

In the case of new battery materials, scientists pursuing such tasks have typically relied on database search tools, modeling and their own intuition about chemicals to pick out useful compounds. Instead a team at the University of Liverpool in England used machine learning to streamline the creative process. The researchers developed a neural network that ranked chemical combinations by how likely they were to result in a useful new material. Then the scientists used these rankings to guide their experiments in the laboratory. They identified four promising candidates for battery materials without having to test everything on their list, saving them months of trial and error.

“It’s a great tool,” says Andrij Vasylenko, a research associate at the University of Liverpool and a co-author of the study on finding battery materials, which was published in Nature Communications last month. The A.I. process helps identify the chemical combinations that are worth looking at, he adds, so “we can cover much more chemical space more quickly.”

The discovery of new materials is not the only area where machine learning could contribute to science. Researchers are also applying neural networks to larger technical and theoretical questions. Renato Renner, a physicist at Zurich’s Institute for Theoretical Physics, hopes to someday use machine learning to develop a unified theory of how the universe works. But before A.I. can uncover the true nature of reality, researchers must tackle the notoriously difficult question of how neural networks make their decisions.

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Heart of Darkness: Che Guevara’s Congo

November 24th, 2021

by JONAH RASKIN

PHOTO/DubRoss – CC BY 2.0

If Che Guevara were alive today he would be 93. Too old to be the kind of guerrilla he had been in Cuba, the Congo and Bolivia, where he was killed on 9 October 1967 by Mario Teran, a 27-year-old military officer who shot him 9 times, presumably not just to kill him but to inflict pain and suffering. Teran and the Bolivian military had the help of the CIA, which had been tracking and tracing Guevara’s movements for years, as he knew. There was no way Che could hide from the CIA. The agency kept track of flights and passengers and the kinds of purchases guerrillas would make to camp in a jungle and launch attacks on soldiers who were well trained and in the service of a repressive regime. Che didn’t blame the CIA. Instead, he blamed “imperialism” and explained that it had “power over all the airline companies and airports” and monitored  “the purchase of unusual quantities of backpacks, nylon sheeting, knives, blankets, etc.” He wasn’t up against a “paper tiger.”

Soon after news of his death was announced, Che became an overnight revolutionary icon, though he was already headed in that direction. I remember seeing his image everywhere, especially in buses and taxis, when I lived in Mexico in 1975.  Che is still an iconic figure, though his image has been tarnished in part by his all-too-honest account of the seven months in 1965 when he failed to foment a revolution in the Congo, not far from the shores of Lake Tanganyika, which, he explained, constantly “tempted” him and offer an escape route to friendly Tanzania. Doomed from the start, the expedition seems to have been the beginning of the end for Che who wrote, “During those last hours of our time in the Congo I felt alone.” He added “never have I felt myself so alone.”

Call the Congo, Che’s “Heart of Darkness,” the place where he confronted his own inner demons and was undone by them. Too embarrassed to return to Cuba immediately after the military defeat of the guerrilla army he had assembled, he spent six months living clandestinely at the Cuban Embassy in Dar es Salaam and at a “safe house” in Prague, evading would-be assassins.

Granted, Che was no Mr. Kurtz, the imperialist villain in Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness who wants to bring civilization to the natives in the Congo, but loses faith, exclaims, “Exterminate the brutes” and carries out a policy of genocide.  Still, like Kurtz, Che was disillusioned in the Congo. It wasn’t civilization he wanted to bring to the nation, but revolution and socialism.

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How Istanbul became the Silicon Valley of the mobile gaming industry

November 24th, 2021

by KAYA GEN

PHOTO/Nicole Tung

Overworked and underpaid developers are helping fuel Istanbul’s mobile gaming bonanza.

On February 18, 2019, just after 9 30 p.m., the Turkish video game giant Peak broadcast a TV ad that felt more like a military recruitment video: bird droppings dapple an unsuspecting driver’s window, and when he brakes and looks ahead, he notices a rhinoceros blocking the road. 

“You never know what surprises life will place in your way,” a voice says. The scene cuts to black, and over the next three minutes, a message is slowly typed out across the screen: “Wake up… We’ll change the world. But first, we should introduce ourselves. If you think we’re joking, just change the channel and see how serious we are.” 

Anyone who flipped the channel would have realized that the same commercial was playing across all of the national broadcasters simultaneously. For Peak, and by extension Turkey’s gaming sector, it was a bold, and expensive, show of force. 

Over the last decade, Peak and other Turkish gaming studios have transformed Istanbul into the world capital of the “casual game” (otherwise known as free-to-play games) industry. Unlike AAA games, like Halo, Assassin’s Creed, or Final Fantasy, casual games are mobile-native, easy to learn, shorter to play and target the broadest audience possible. According to 2020 statistics, around 58.86% of all mobile game players are casual gamers. It’s estimated that the global market for casual gaming is worth more than $8 billion. 

In March 2021, six of the Apple App Store’s top ten mobile games in the U.S. came from Turkish studios, including Basketball Arena,which asks players to steal the ball from opponents in head-to-head matches and go for slam dunks; the self-styled “super fun running game” Bounce Big,where players run around, collect items, improve the size of their backsides, and launch off pads (the winning player twerks at the end of each level); Deep Clean Inc. 3D,in which users scrub crusty iPhones and toilets; and Jelly Dye,in which players, well, inject dye into a jelly. And Istanbul has become a magnet for up-and-coming game developers. 

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Why the work of Abdulrazak Gurnah, the champion of heartbreaks, stands out for me

November 24th, 2021

by FAWZIA KHAN

Abdulrazak Gurnah, the Tanzanian winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, has some well-deserved seniority within the ever-growing ranks of East African writers. He published his first novel, Memories of Departure, in 1987, and nine more since then. Among those, Paradise (1994), was short-listed for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award. Yet another, By the Sea (2001), was long-listed for the Booker Prize and short-listed for the LA Times Book award.

Born in Zanzibar in 1948, Gurnah is also an accomplished scholar of African literature. Until his retirement recently, he was a professor at the University of Kent, in the UK. One crucial aspect of his biography remains his forced migration from Zanzibar to the UK in 1968, amid the turmoil following the 1964 revolution on the island. The trauma of that experience has fed much of his literary imagination and provided a wellspring for his novels of displacement and loss.

The East African region is rich with writers going back to the first post-independence generation. A random sampling of the first Anglophone generation from the three East African nations includes Uganda’s Okot p’Bitek, who translated his own work into English. Grace Ogot and Ngugi wa Thiongo from Kenya and Peter Palangyo and Gabriel Ruhambika of Tanzania also make the list.

More recently, a new generation of writers has obviously emerged. Again, a random sampling include millennials such as the late Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya), Moses Isegawa (Uganda), and the Ethiopian Dinaw Mengetsu in his Uganda-based novel, All Our Names (2014). Add to these Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya) who, in The Dragonfly Sea (2019), has recently used the Indian Ocean region and the East African littoral setting revisted by Gurnah in many of his novels.

The generational and political transition necessarily reflects the different historical worlds within the region that are represented by East African writers. One writer who started out before Gurnah, for example, is Ngugi wa Thiongo, himself a perennial candidate for the Nobel.

In addition to Ngugi wa Thiongo, the Somali writer Nuruddin Farah has also been tipped frequently for the Nobel Prize. One may be justified to ask, why Gurnah over Ngugi or Farah? The Nobel Committee has often defied local knowledge, in the sense of choosing internationally recognised candidates rather than those more locally celebrated at home.

At the same time, writing “contests” don’t always measure literary talent helpfully. Recognition brings prestige, a larger readership, and more sales, but this impulsion remains part of the infrastructure of a non-local book industry that’s one of the pillars of old and new capitalisms, old and new colonialisms. Even in our digital age, who can afford books, or access, among the larger population? In many cases, only the elites.

Why Gurnah’s work is powerful

Nevertheless, I was very pleased to learn that Gurnah won this year. What stands out for me is Gurnah’s constant exploration of heartbreak. Certainly, he breaks mine. His novels delve deeply into family separation, endless betrayals of core familial relations, and the inexorable pull of the lost past. Each novel exposes another nuance, another hidden aspect, another self-inflicted betrayal.

The Last Gift (2011) harbours an extraordinary secret that is only disclosed at death. Desertion (2005) uses the trope of romance, over three generations, to show the inadequacy of love in the face of social change, be it political or cultural. Paradise (1994) possibly the best known of Gurnah’s novels, is also the first to evoke deep historical and cultural research. It brings home the multiple overlays of both Omani and European colonial power, control and oppression.

The other political landscapes of gender, sexuality, race and class are perhaps more finely tuned, and certainly more robust, in Gurnah’s work than, say, Ngugi and Farah. And this may also account for his good fortune, and within the world of world literature, this well-deserved prize.

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UN warns Ethiopia’s conflict could spiral into a civil war

November 23rd, 2021

The conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region could spiral into a civil war. That is the warning from the UN Security Council, which has met, as rebels threaten to march on the capital Addis Ababa.

Government forces have been battling them for a year, but the UN is calling for an end to the fighting and urging dialogue.

Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reports from UN headquarters in New York, the US.

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