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Winds of Change in Belarus: Neither Dictatorship Nor Democracy Offer Anything for the Working Class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/08/2020 - 2:35am in

image/jpeg iconbelarus_protests.jpg

The onus lies on the workers of Belarus to seek their own solution outside of the futile battle to refurbish the shabby window dressing of democracy.

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Trump’s Scattershot Campaign Strategy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 3:01am in

Dr. Deborah Birx, the doctor advising the White House on the coronavirus, warns that we are entering a “new phase” of the pandemic, when the virus is everywhere and is spreading at such a pace that we could see more than 300,000 deaths by the end of the year. Continue reading

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Barr Doubles Down

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 2:10am in

Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow for the first time. The Attorney General of the United States is, of course, not the president’s lawyer. The AG is supposed to be the attorney for the United States, protecting the rule of law. (The office of the president has its own lawyer—the White House Counsel—and the president has his own bevy of personal lawyers.) Continue reading

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William Barr Will Follow Fake News with Fake Testimony

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 9:20pm in

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee today for the first time....

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Homeland Security Justifies Invasion of Portland by Claiming Shields and Gas Masks are Weapons

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 25/07/2020 - 3:45am in

Far from restoring order, the arrival of federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Border Patrol in Portland, Oregon has only heightened tensions, with agents attacking and arresting protesters nightly. DHS’ Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli took to social media yesterday to share images of items confiscated from demonstrators.

“Here is a shield and a couple of gas masks from a rioter arrested in Portland. Not a sign with a slogan that someone expressing their first amendment rights might carry, but preparations for violence. Peaceful protester? I don’t think so,” he wrote. Evidence that demonstrators were using inherently defensive items like shields and gas masks to protect themselves from tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper balls appeared not to convince many to drop their support of the movement. “‘The steps you take to protect yourself from the violence I perpetrate against you are the evidence that you deserve that violence’ is rarely articulated quite so plainly. At least not in public,” replied Angus Johnston of Hostos Community College (City University of New York).

The DHS justifies its invasion of Portland — over the objections of city and state officials — on the grounds that it is protecting federal property, particularly the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, which has become a venue of intense struggle. “Simply put, we need to make sure [it is] not burned down, as rioters have tried to do for weeks. That’s our mission,” it stated. Yet it is far from clear whether the DHS has the legal remit to do so. Its own website notes that its mission is “striving to prevent future [terrorist] attacks against the United States and our allies, responding decisively to natural and man-made disasters, and advancing American prosperity and economic security long into the future,” none of which would be covered by protesters graffiting federal property. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the government and the DHS for their actions.

Despite this, Cuccinelli has promised to expand the use of federal troops or police nationwide, including into a number of Democratic-run cities. “This is a posture we intend to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country,” he told NPR.


Fears over live ammo and violence against the press

Local elected officials appear far more concerned about the violence of the feds than of any damage protesters have done. The city’s mayor, Ken Wheeler, has repeatedly demanded federal agents leave the city immediately. Instead, they gassed Wheeler himself when he joined the demonstrations.

What I saw last night was powerful in many ways. I listened, heard, and stood with protesters. And I saw what it means when the federal government unleashes paramilitary forces against its own people. It is unconscionable and un-American. We are all committed to change – this must stop so the work can move forward,” he wrote.

Wheeler also raised concerns over unconfirmed reports that agents had been authorized to use live ammunition. Despite Wheeler and many other Oregon representatives’ opposition to the President’s moves, demonstrators themselves have criticized the mayor for failing to rein in his own police force, who have been no less aggressive. Despite a judge banning the use of tear gas, earlier this month, police broke the court order and declared a riot, using flashbang grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters.

According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, Portland has seen 52 attacks on journalists since the nationwide protests against racist police violence began in late May, Minneapolis being the only city recording more. Not counted among the 52 is the case of MintPress contributor Wyatt Reed. Late Wednesday night, federal agents shot him in the face with pepper balls, injuring his eye. Last night, he was also hit in the knee and the hand. “For the record I was sitting by myself, well away from anyone else & nowhere near any of more militant demonstrators when these “specially trained” federal agents shot me directly w chemical weapons projectile,” he tweeted.

The current protest movement was sparked by the viral images showing the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Since then they expanded to every state in the union and to other nations. One recent Morning Consult poll found that 23 percent of police officers said they held “very” or “somewhat favorable” views of white supremacy, by far the highest proportion of over 100 identifiable groups the survey asked. President Trump has opted to confront the protests head on, rather than make concessions. If shields and gas masks are now considered weapons, it appears likely that more government escalation is on the cards for Portland.

Feature photo | Federal officers use tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on July 22, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Noah Berger | AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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The President’s Personal Militia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/07/2020 - 1:37am in

Today Trump announced that he will send federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, as part of his push to advance the idea that he is a “LAW & ORDER” president. Trump insists that “violent anarchists” allied with “radical left” Democrats have launched “a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” To hear the president tell it, the country is at war against a leftist enemy that is destroying us from within. Continue reading

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Trump Sends Federal Troops to Cities Run by Democrats

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/07/2020 - 1:31am in

The big news today—and it is indeed big news—is that the Trump administration has announced it will be sending federal officers into Chicago, and perhaps other cities run by Democrats, ostensibly to fight crime there. Continue reading

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 Portland  Mayor Condemns Masked Federal Agents Abducting Protesters

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/07/2020 - 3:26am in

Anonymous masked federal agents in military uniforms jump out of unmarked minivans, abducting seemingly random people on the street in Portland, frightening new viral videos show. Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC have been sent to the city to tamp down of 49 days of continuous demonstrations against racist police brutality. The move appears to be the Trump administration’s latest tactic to crush the nationwide protests that erupted in late May over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police.

One video shows individuals in battle fatigues pull up beside a small group of people on a deserted Portland street, arresting one man without identifying themselves or saying anything and putting him into the back of a minivan. “It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets,” said Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, who has been working on issues of police brutality on protestors for weeks. “It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay,” he said, adding that he found the new events “terrifying.”

Repressive tactics have increased since Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf began involving himself and his department in the protests, with federal agents firing tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators. Homeland Security has justified its invasion, claiming that Portland has been “under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property.” The DHS claims that “violent anarchists” have wrecked the city, although the examples of destruction they give, such as graffiti and throwing rocks, appear trifling in comparison to abduction. Wolf himself arrived in Portland recently, declaring that, “Our men and women in uniform are patriots. We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch.”

Wolf’s actions have received strong condemnation from demonstrators, human rights groups, and even local politicians who have unequivocally told federal agents to leave. Mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler claimed that, “This is clearly a coordinated strategy from the White House. It is irresponsible and it is escalating an already tense situation. Remove your heightened troop presence now,” adding that the city neither needed nor wanted their help. Local congressman Earl Blumenauer was similarly forthright, placing the blame for the violence on government forces. “Chad Wolf just arrived in Portland. Here’s my message: go home Chad and take your unlawful DHS agents with you. The Trump admin has no place occupying and inciting violence in our community,” he tweeted late last night.

The demonstrators can also count on the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, who issued a statement reading, “Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland are being assaulted — shot in the head, swept away in unmarked cars, repeatedly tear gassed — by uninvited and unwelcome federal officers. We won’t rest until these federal officers are gone.”

The “shot in the head” comment refers to the case of Donavan LaBella, a 26-year-old protester shot outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland on Saturday. LaBella was holding a speaker over his head when police shot him in the face at close range with a rubber bullet. Video shows him instantly collapse on the street. Even as others retrieve his body, a large pool of blood is already noticeable where he fell. LaBella’s mother confirmed he survived the incident, but that he needed facial reconstruction surgery, with doctors inserting a titanium plate into his head.

Portland has been a hotspot of protest since the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 and has seen seven weeks of nightly demonstrations. The Trump administration decided to confront the protests with force rather than negotiate or co-opt them, the president infamously suggesting the National Guard should shoot any “looters.” A recent poll found that two-thirds of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement. Thus, it is unlikely that the new escalation of violence will win the president many new supporters, something he may need come November’s election.

Feature photo | Police stand as protesters gather during a demonstration, July 16, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Beth Nakamura | The Oregonian via AP

Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Dan Hodges Lies about Liberal Left Hating White Working Class

Yesterday I put up a piece attacking ‘Celebrity Radio’ host Alex Bellfield, who had falsely claimed that ‘lefties’ had done nothing about the sweatshops in Leicester. As I explained in my piece, the problem wasn’t with the left. The Labour MP for Leicester East, Claudia Webbe, had talked about the problems with the area’s sweatshops in a Zoom online meeting on Saturday afternoon organised as part of the Arise festival of the Labour Left. Webbe made it very clear that she and others had tried to get the authorities to act about the appalling conditions and low pay in the city’s garment industry, but they were ignored.

Now another right-wing hack is also spreading lies about the ‘liberal left’. Yesterday a video appeared on my YouTube page from Talk Radio. This one had had the title ‘Dan Hodges – Liberal Left View White Working Class as the Enemy’. Hodges is a writer for the Daily Mail. Such is the quality of his journalism that readers of Zelo Street know him as ‘the celebrated Blues artist Whinging Dan Hodges’. It’s an old chestnut. The Tories have been pursuing this line for years. Way back in 2003/4 the Spectator was publishing pieces like ‘Blackened Whites’ about how anti-racist activists were maligning the working class. These articles contained lines such as ‘there is only one minority not welcome under Labour on the streets of central London – White men’. They also opined about how the Left despised working class Whites because of their patriotism, amongst other values.

This is a flat-out lie. It was another one that was shown as such by the speakers at Saturday’s conference. The first of these was Black Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy. She gave a superb speech making it clear that Labour stood for the working class in all its diversity, and that we should not allow the working class to be divided. It was a theme repeated again and again by nearly all the speakers there, including, I believe, Corbyn’s deputy, John McDonnell.

Owen Jones, the bete noir of the rabid right, made the same point in his brilliant book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class. He dispels accusations of racism made against the unions during a strike. I’ve forgotten the precise details, but the media presented it as if it had been caused by White workers refusing to work alongside Blacks and Asians. In fact the reverse was true. The strike had been called by the union partly because of the exploitation of BAME workers. There is racism in the working class,  and a feeling of marginalization. The latter has its roots in the way New Labour turned its back on the working class in order to chase middle class Tories. This created a constituency of White, low-skilled, working class people in their fifties for UKIP. See the excellent study of that particular piece of populism when it was led by the Fuhrage, Revolt on the Right.

I don’t believe Black Lives Matter has helped this situation. Although the demonstrators have repeatedly stressed that they are not against Whites – I’ve mentioned the meme of the cute little Black girl holding a placard spelling this out – and there was another placard with the slogan ‘We’re Not Trying to Start a Race War – We’re Trying to End One’, unfortunately that is the impression some BLM protests make. The right-wing put up another video a few days ago about a group of BLM protesters demonstrating against White privilege in Birmingham. The photograph for that video showed a White middle-aged women waving a placard with the slogan ‘Use your White Privilege for Good’. This is particularly tin-eared. Whites and ethnic minorities are not homogenous communities occupying distinct places in the social hierarchy. While Whites generally have higher status, better jobs and education, and are more prosperous than Black, this is certainly not uniformly the case. Some ethnic groups, such as the Chinese, outperform Whites. Indians are only slightly behind Whites in society as a rule. Muslims and Blacks are at the bottom, but nevertheless there are many Whites who are as poor or poorer than parts of those ethnic groups. And the worst performing group at school are White working class boys. By waving such placards, the protesters appear to show that they are indeed elite middle-class Whites with a hatred of the working class. But if they do, those protesters do not speak for all left-liberals.

The Labour left support the White working class, just as they support all the disparate communities of the working class. The Tories don’t. They only appear to in order to garner votes, fostering racial antagonism in a very cynical policy of divide et conquera. As we’ve seen over the past ten years of Tory rule, they have cut welfare benefits, frozen pay and introduced mass unemployment and job insecurity to Whites as well as Blacks and Asians, while at the same time lying to them in the pages of the Scum, the Heil, Torygraph and Spectator that they are really defending them. It’s a classic piece of misdirection that the racist elites have done for centuries. In 17th century America the colonial rulers after Bacon’s rebellion found a way to prevent White indentured labourers joining forces in revolt with Black slaves: they simply defined Whites legally against Blacks, but gave them no extra rights nor privileges. White indentured labourers were as exploited as before, but it worked. Whites felt themselves to be superior and no longer joined Black revolts quite as they did. Although many White working people, as well as liberal Whites further up in the social hierarchy could still have considerable sympathy for Black slaves. James Walvin in one of his books on slavery has a passage from a 19th century article stating that in Scotland, the women who demand slave emancipation are working class.

The likes of Hodges have been lying to Black and White for a long time. It’s time we stopped listening and exposed this lie for what it is. Working people of all colours unite – you have nothing to lose but your chains, as Marx could have said.


Dawn Butler: Black MPs Under ‘Escalated Threat’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/07/2020 - 11:46pm in

Today’s I for Friday, 10th July 2020, has a tiny snippet reporting on page 2 that the Black Labour MP for Brent Central, Dawn Butler, has said that she and her office and staff are under a ‘drastically escalated’ threat of an attack. This has come in recent months after she has spoken out against racism. Starmer has condemned the ‘racist abuse’ targeted at her and other Black MPs.

I don’t doubt for a single minute that she and other Black MPs really are receiving real, vile racist abuse and threats. Some of this is no doubt because of the heightened racial tension generated by the Black Lives Matter protests. The protests weren’t intended to be anti-White, and Mike and others bloggers have put up an image of a cute little Black girl holding up a placard stating this. The footage of the protests shown on the mainstream news channels included Whites as well as Blacks. In Bristol the mob that tore down the statue of Edward Colston and threw it in the docks were also made up of people of all colours. Several of those in the crowd, who were interviewed about it were White. But nevertheless, for some people, particularly on the right, the protests were seen as an attack on Whites and White identity.

But even before the present controversy over Black Lives Matter, Butler and a number of other Black MPs were receiving abusive messages. Over half of all the abuse sent to female MPs is targeted at Diane Abbott. And Keir Starmer has not helped the problem. He has condemned the abuse now, but the leaked report into Labour anti-Semitism showed the right-wing plotters and conspirators against Jeremy Corbyn bullying and sending racist abuse to left-wing Black MPs. I think Diane Abbott was one, along with Clive Lewis. But so far Starmer has done nothing against the bullies responsible. It’s one of the reasons that Black members, and anti-racist Whites are leaving the party in droves. Starmer’s lack of support for Black Lives Matter, apparent indifference to the issue of racism and his inaction on the bullying of these MPs and activists, has unfortunately left them feeling abandoned by the party.

Starmer has condemned the abuse now, but he needs to show he means it by taking disciplinary action against those responsible. Instead of just reserving it for decent people smeared as anti-Semites simply for their opposition to Israel and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.