REDEYE 12/20/17

75 years ago, Battle of Stalingrad was turning point of WW II
NYT, 11/16 — Hitler’s murderous advance into Russia during World War II…was halted at the Battle of Stalingrad — a critical turning point in the war.The fight raged for 200 days….Resistance to the German onslaught was fierce…following Stalin’s order: “Not one step back.”
….The city has been renamed Volgograd, an effort to erase Stalin’s legacy. But memories of the fighting, 75 years ago this year, are strong….The main memorial…a statue....visible from almost every vantage point in the city…is a powerful reminder of the price that Soviet people paid to defeat Nazism….
When the Germans sent in tanks, Mikhail Panikakha was fighting in a trench. He had just two Molotov cocktails left. He was raising one bottle to throw when a bullet smashed it, setting him on fire. He took the remaining bottle, jumped out of the trench and hit the nearest German tank, setting it on fire. The other tanks withdrew….
Vladimir Turov, 97, is a war veteran….On Sept. 12, 1942, his battalion was almost completely surrounded by Germans. But he refused to leave his wounded friend, fighting off the advancing forces with his machine gun….These days Stalin’s portraits are seen more frequently…and there is a museum dedicated to him as well….The Square of Heroes…contains a monument to a nurse carrying a wounded soldier from the battlefield. The Volga River was Hitler’s main target. Soviet soldiers fought to the death to keep possession of this strategic artery and important symbol.
U.S. probation system entraps thousands of Black people daily
NYT, 11/18 — Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating his probation….Meek was around 19…when he was convicted…and he served an eight-month sentence. Now he’s 30, so he has been on probation for basically his entire adult life….He’s been stalked by a system that considers his slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside….
[This] criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day….Probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew….He was arrested…in a St. Louis airport, but all charges were eventually dropped….but the judge sent him to prison anyway….
As of 2015, one-third of the 4.65 million Americans…on…probation were black. Black people are sent to prison for probation and parole violations at much higher rates than white people.
Fascists in Poland and racist Trump join forces
NYT, 11/5 — …When 60,000 far-right nationalists from Poland and all over Europe marched through Warsaw with red flares and racist signs like “White Europe of brotherly nations” and “Clean Blood.”
Poland’s Foreign Ministry…defen[ded]…the demonstration as an outpouring of patriotism….
…Words from an old Polish nationalist song that were the march’s slogan — “We want God” — were cited by President Trump to huge applause on his visit to Warsaw in July. Neo-fascist and white-supremacist groups have become more visible in Europe and the United States….Trump…[on] the white-supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Va…said their ranks included some “very fine people” — could have only heartened the racists.
Slave owner Madison helped U.S. Constitution guarantee slavery and the slave trade
NYT, 10/29 — James Madison….is the founding father who…[held] slaves on his plantation in Virginia and failed to free them upon his death., but he also originated the notorious three-fifths compromise in the Constitution which counted a slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of legislative representation….
Madison understood…the economic reality on which his entire livelihood and that of the family plantation was based….At the Constitutional Convention in 1787….South Carolina and Georgia, backed by Connecticut, insisted on protecting the slave trade as a condition for agreeing to the Constitution. Madison went alone….Without the guarantee of slavery and the slave trade, there would have been no Constitution….The need to accommodate the realities of economics [and] politics…has continued to hold back equality in practice.
U.S. colonial racist devastate Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery
NYT, 10/10 — Of all Puerto Rico’s continuing miseries seven weeks after Hurricane Maria’s devastation, the most blatantly unjust is that islanders have been denied the…food relief distributed to storm victims…in Texas and Florida….
Both the island and mainland victims are United States citizens. But not all citizens are created equal: A 35-year-old congressional budget cap on Puerto Rico’s food stamp program has limited the amount of disaster immediately available. Texas and Florida have no such restraints….The disparity [is] painfully evidence of a colonial second-class status suffered by citizens of this American territory….
…Nearly 60 percent of the island’s power generation remains offline, its tourist and farming economies have been crippled….The lack of power may be killing the very sick and the very old in overheated hospitals and nursing homes….
…Recovery will fail without…tens of billions of dollars to restore housing, water and electric power, and to repair infrastructure….Trump is probably no more interested in this than he’s been in any of the island’s problems.


REDEYE 12/6/17

Capitalism maintains apartheid in South Africa
NYT, 10/24 — The end of apartheid was supposed to be a beginning….More than two decades later, Ms. [Judith] Sikade, 69, lives on the garbage-strewn dirt of Crossroads township, where thousands of black families have used splintered boards and metal sheets to construct airless hovels for lack of anywhere else to live.
“I’ve gone from shack to a shack,” Ms. Sikade says. “I’m fighting for everything I have. You are still living in apartheid….”
…For black South Africans, who account for three-fourths of this nations roughly 55 million people….Apartheid has persisted in economic form….An official unemployment rate [is] reaching 28 percent….In the aftermath of apartheid, the government left land and other assets largely in the hands of a predominantly white elite….
…Less than half of the working age population is officially employed….Large swaths of the black population remain hunkered down in squalor on land they do not legally own. Those with jobs often endure commutes of an hour or more on private minibuses that extract outsize slices of their paychecks.
“We never dismantled apartheid,” said Ayabonga Cawe, a former economist for Oxfam….”The patterns of enrichment and impoverishment are still the same….”
In…[Ms. Sikade’s] community, people are still cooking over coal fires and breathing in fumes. Children run barefoot on paths littered with broken glass….
“Where’s the freedom?” Ms. Sikade said, anger rising in her voice. “Where are the changes?”
….Ten percent of all South Africans — the majority white — own more than 90 percent of national wealth….Some 80 percent of the population — overwhelmingly black — owns nothing at all….
“The A.N.C.’s [African National Congress’s] primary objective was inclusion into the existing system,” said Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of the…Institute of International Affairs. “They wanted themselves to be part of the capitalist economy.”
U.S. bosses want ‘Dreamers’ to die for U.S. imperialism
NYT, 11/9 — …While deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan….more than 100 immigrant troops have made the supreme sacrifice in combat….From 2006 to 2011…45,700 immigrants…[were in] the American military….
The United States faces…growing pressures on “our” armed forces. Those forces are stronger when they embody…a large pool of…young people able to adapt to changing threats….We need legislation that will provide a pathway to citizenship for those immigrants who…are serving or have served in the military….That kind of policy will help the military recruit new service members and improve readiness….
…The importance of recruiting immigrants into… [the] military has only increased…because fewer and fewer young Americans are eligible to serve….
More than 800 so-called Dreamers…are now serving in the armed forces….
…More than 109,000 immigrants…since Sept. 11, 2001, have become citizens while wearing the uniforms of the United States military…. [which] will be the better for it.
Nazi-Developed Chemical now in food, air, water
NYT, 10/29 — …A common pesticide…[in] a class of chemicals developed as a nerve gas by Nazi Germany, is now found in food, air and drinking water….It damages the brain and reduces I.Q.s while causing tremors among children….[and is]also linked to lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease….
This chemical, chlorpyrifos,…Dow Chemical Company’s Nerve Gas.…may be inside you: One 2012 study found…it…in the umbilical cord blood of 87 percent of newborn babies tested.
…The Trump administration is embracing it, overturning a planned ban…in the works for many years….
Dow’s Nerve Gas Pesticide will still be used on…crops that end up on our plate….Fruit and vegetable…levels of this pesticide [are found]…up to 140 times the limits seemed safe….a nationwide echo of what was permitted in Flint [Mich.]….
…The $800 billion chemical industry lavishes money on politicians and lobbies its way out of effective legislation….The chemical industry lobby…is today’s version of Big Tobacco….[It] called for requiring flame retardant chemicals in couches, to ‘save lives,’….an industry hoax…to increase sales of flame retardants — whose principal effect seems to be to cause cancer….
…Toxic chemicals are lowering men’s sperm counts….By 2060, a majority of American and European men could even be infertile….Trump’s most enduring legacy may be cancer, infertility and diminished I.Q.s for decades to come.
China’s capitalism: 500 million earn less than $5.50 a day
NYT, 11/1 — Even as Chinese cities have turned into playgrounds for the nouveau rich…nearly 500 million people,…40 percent of Chin’s population, live on less than $5.50 per day, according to the World Bank.
…Kerry Brown, a China scholar at King’s College London [said]….“The Communist Party has created billionaires…and yet there are still a lot of poor people. That seems to be a massive contradiction….”
Under [President] Xi Jinping, who has played up an image as an Everyman….[his] plan is more about making headlines than bringing lasting change to poor communities….
…There are more than 200 million rural migrants in Chinese cities, where many struggle to receive education, health care and other benefits because the local government does not consider them residents. Some fall into unemployment or bad health and live in squalid conditions.


REDEYE 11/22/17

U.S. terrorists: profiteering ‘Big Pharma’ drug dealers killed 200,000
NYT, 10/19 — For decades America has…ignored the biggest drug pushers of all: American pharmaceutical companies.
…You get 15 people hooked on opioids, and you’re a thug that deserves to rot in hell; you get 150,000 people hooked, and you’re a marketing genius who deserves a huge bonus.
Big Pharma….systematically manipulated the entire country for 25 years,…responsible for many of the 64,000 deaths of Americans last year from drugs — more than the number of Americans who died in Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.
The opioid crisis unfolded because…[of] the astounding profits that could be made….In the 1960s…80 percent of Americans hooked on opioids began with heroin….Today, 75 percent of people with opioid addictions began with prescription painkillers….Pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s sought to promote opioid painkillers as new blockbuster drugs….
…The opioid promoters hailed opioids as “safe and effective,” and they particularly encouraged opioids for returning veterans — one reason why so many veterans have suffered addictions.
Pharma companies spent heavily advertising opioids — $14 million in medical journals alone….Companies even argued that signs of addiction were a reason to prescribe more opioids,….that when a patient showed strange behavior, “the clinician’s first response” should be to increase the dose of opioids….One company, Insys Therapeutics…redirected a powerful opioid called Subsys, meant for cancer pain, to patients without cancer. Sarah Fuller, a woman with neck and back pain, was prescribed Subsys by her doctor, who received payments from Insys.
Fuller died of an overdose of Subsys.
…Insys…revenue tripled in the next two years….the Sackler family, owner of…OxyContin, joined Forbes’s list of richest American families in 2015, with $14 billion….Since 2000, more than 200,000 Americans have died from overdoses of prescription opioids — the consequence of a deliberate strategy to make money ignoring public welfare….Some of America’s leading companies and business executives [have been] systematically manipulating doctors and patients and killing people on a scale that terrorists could never dream of.
Myanmmar victimized by U.S. rulers
The New Yorker, 10/23 (letter) — Myanmmar became of the world’s poorest countries….But its economic decline was also the result of sanctions imposed by the U.S….but to become a client state of the U.S. would mean infiltration by the C.I.A., and the looting of its treasury by U.S. banks, N.G.O.s and multinational corporations.
Yemen: Capitalists’ war incites genocidal cholera crisis
GW, 10/20 — The cholera epidemic in Yemen has become the largest and fastest-spreading outbreak of the disease in modern history, with a million cases expected by the year’s end and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected….
Children under five account for a quarter of all cases.The spread of the outbreak…has been exacerbated by hunger and malnutrition….
…Save the Children’s country director…said an outbreak of this scale…is “what you get when a country if brought to its knees by conflict, when a healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, when its children are starving and when its people are blocked from getting the medical treatment they need….There’s no doubt this is a man-made crisis….”
More than two year’s of fighting between the [U.S.-backed] Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels has crippled the country,…leaving millions on the brink of famine….19.3 million Yemenis — more than two-thirds of the population — does not have access to clean water and sanitation….
…Both parties to the conflict are continuing with their blatant disregard of the rights of children….Cholera should be easily treatable with oral rehydration salts and access to clean water.
Banks rake in billions from credit card squeeze on struggling customers
NYT, 10/20 — Udean Murray, a 62-year-old retired telephone operator…relies on more than a dozen credit cards to make ends meet. Her prescription medicine often goes on a Capitol One card….That’s a risky business for Mrs. Murray, whose only income is Social Security and who struggles each month to make the minimum payments on all her cards.
But it has been a boon for the nation’s biggest banks, which are earning millions of dollar a month on their credit card customers. The four top banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo — together made more than $4 billion in pretax income from their credit card businesses from July through September….
Outstanding credit card debt — the total balances that customers roll from month to month — hit a record $1 trillion this year….Banks…take a small cut of each card transaction as a fee, and they typically charge annual interest rates of 15 percent or more for essential goods and services….The four leading banks raked in…$21 billion in profits during the third quarter….
Many Americans have…their savings winnowed by…the recession and stagnant wages. Almost half of adults…could not pay for a $400 expense without…borrowing money….
…Interest rates can near 36 percent. Some borrowers can end up owing more interest then they originally spent on their cards.
…The minimum monthly payments on her cards costs Ms. Murray $500,….more than half of what she receives from Social Security….


REDEYE 11/8/17

Capitalist world crisis: bosses’ profits up, workers’ wages down
NYT, 10/8 —In many major countries, including the United States, Britain and Japan,…workers are still waiting for…fatter paychecks….
…weak wages [are] an indicator of an…economic order in which working people are at the mercy of their employers. Unions have lost clout. Companies are relying on temporary and part-time workers while deploying robots…and automation…that allow them to produce more without paying extra to human beings….
In Britain….wages…[are]…below the rate of inflation, meaning workers’ costs were rising faster than their pay. In Japan, weak wage growth is…a force that could keep the future lean, depriving workers of spending power….
Last year, only 10.7 percent of American workers were represented by a union, down from 20.1 percent in 1983….a key to why employers can pay lower wages….In short, 44 years passed with a typical American worker absorbing roughly [a] 2 percent wage cut….
[In] Elyria [Ohio]…Lindsay Martin worked at Janesville Acoustics….earning $14 an hourThen…the plant was shutting down….
She took a job at a gas station…for $9 an hour, less than two-thirds of what she had previously earned….Japanese…corporate profits are at record highs….
Companies have…sat on their increased profits rather than share them with employees….
Almost half of Japanese workers under 25 are in part-time or temporary positions, up from 20 percent in 1990. And women, who typically earn 30 percent less than men, have filled a disproportionate number of jobs
As the global crisis unfolded in 2008,….mass unemployment tore across Italy, Portugal and Spain, depressing wages across the continent…Norwegian wages….in 2016…declined in real terms by more than 1 percent….
In Arendal [Norway], Bandak…, a series of layoffs commenced. Workers…agreed to a 5 percent wage cut….The company soon descended into bankruptcy. And that was that for the…remaining workers. Per Harald Torjussen…. “feels a lot less secure….We may be approaching what it’s like in the U.S. and the U.K.”
Study proves racism prevalent in ordinary every-day inter-actions
NYT, 10/8 — A team of economists has uncovered persuasive evidence that local government officials throughout the United States are less responsive to African-Americans than…to whites.
The researchers sent roughly 20,000 emails to local government[s]…[and] posed commonplace questions, like “Could you please tell me what your opening hours are?”….
Emails with black-sounding names [DeShawn Jackson or Tyrone Washington] were 13 percent more likely to go unanswered than those with white-sounding names [Greg Walsh or Jake Mueller]….
The findings appeared to be a striking indication of racial discrimination in mundane interactions. The tendency to ignore emails sent by African-Americans was pronounced in sheriffs’ offices, but…also evident in school districts and libraries….
The new research…appears to have documented straightforward discrimination….[and] provide further indication of the many ways in which discrimination shapes the lives of African-Americans….
Racial discrimination in America….occurs not only in the labor market and the criminal justice system, but also in countless small frictions every day.
 ‘Testilying’: Racist cops lie routinely
NYT, 10/10 — …Police perjury and half-truths remain a persistent problem for the New York Police Department….False or mis-leading statements by the police has, on a national level, been intertwined with the issue of…whether officers are too quick to shoot people, particularly black men….
…In New York, the practice of routinely making up facts to justify a dubious arrest…got its own nickname…”testilying….”
…The Civilian Complaint Review Board…has documented an increase in cases in which police…give false statements.
“There is lying going on on a regular basis,” said…the chairman of the review board.
U.S. rulers backed 1965 Indonesian anti-communist mass murders
NYT, 10/18 — It was an anti-communist blood bath of at least half a million Indonesians. [Ed. Note: actually one million] And American officials…applaud[ed] the forces behind the killings, according to a newly declassified State Department files…An American political affairs counselor describes how….“Many provinces appear to be…executing their P.K.I [Indonesian Communist Party] prisoners, or by killing them before they are captured”….
“The U.S. was following what was happening…and if it wasn’t for its support…the army would never have felt the confidence to take power.”
The Indonesian slaughter took place at a time when Southeast Asia…was energized by socialist ideology.
The United States already had boots on the ground in Vietnam. Indonesia, then led by President Sukarno and home to one of the world’s largest Communist parties, was seen by Washington as the next domino that could fall.
…The extrajudicial killings spread beyond suspected Communists to target ethnic Chinese, students [and] union members….
President Sukarno, with his anti-American talk and socialist sympathies, was replaced by Suharto, a general who held power for 32 years….
…The American Embassy in Jakarta made clear that any aid from the United States was contingent on Sukarno’s being removed from power. Upon Suharto’s ascension in March 1966, the American aid began to flow….
…The United States…military and financial support…included providing lists of possible leftist sympathizers to the Indonesian government….
…An international people’s tribunal on the killings at The Hague….held the Indonesian government responsible for crimes against humanity and accused the United States, Britain and Australia of complicity.


REDEYE 10/11/17

Who wrote U.S. national anthem? A pro-slavery white supremacist
NYT, 9/25 — …The anthem was authored by a white supremacist, Francis Scott Key,…a proponent of African colonization — exporting free blacks back to Africa — and an opponent of the anti-slavery movement….
…The Colonial Marines, a mostly black unit composed primarily of runaway slaves who fought for the British during the War of 1812, on the promise of attaining their freedom….humiliated Key’s own unit in battle. Jason Johnson, a professor of political science at Morgan State University…wrote:…Key “was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.”
Bosses’ laws excluded Black, Latin workers from government benefits
NYT, 8/13 — …Today’s socio-economic order — the minimum wage…Social Security and even the G.I. Bill — created during and just after the Great Depression conferred enormous benefits on whites while excluding most Southern blacks….
…In the waning days of Jim Crow…public policy….practiced legal segregation….Social Security…excluded maids and farmworkers, the two dominant job categories for Southern blacks and Southwestern Latinos, from the program. This denied benefits to 66 percent of African-Americans across the country, and as much as 89 percent of Southern blacks. It also disproportionately hurt Mexican-Americans….Other New Deal laws…that mandated a 40-hour workweek and a minimum wage…explicitly left out agricultural and domestic workers.
The 1944 G.I. Bill helped white veterans buy homes, attend college, get job training [but] blacks were left out….The law accommodated segregation in higher education….
The National Housing Act of 1934, which insured private mortgages…supported racist covenants and typically denied mortgages to blacks.
This legacy persists. The median household wealth for white families, which consists primarily of equity in housing stands today at $134,230….but for African-American families it is just $11,030.
The [latest] Justice Department’s memo…would once again deploy the power of government and the majesty of law to fortify…the effects of the country’s long history of racial oppression.
College degrees don’t overcome racism & sexism
NYT, 9/20 — Education is supposed to be the…great socioeconomic leveler….[but] Pay gaps between white and black workers have grown since 1979, even after controlling for education….Discrimination is a leading cause. Last year, black college graduates earned about 21 percent less per hour on average than white college graduates; in 1979, the gap was 13 percent….
Last year, white college-educated women made 31 percent less than white college-educated men, while black college-educated women made 38 percent less than white college-educated men….In black families whose head of household had a college degree, median net worth was recently one-eighth that of comparable white families — $23,400 versus $185,500.
U.S.’s toxic Agent Orange shattered lives of thousands of Vietnamese
NYT, 9/18 — Phan Than Hung Duc, 20, lies immobile and silent….his mouth agape and his chest thrust upward, his hands and feet locked in gnarled deformity. He appears to be frozen in agony. He is one of the thousands of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange…. A victim of…the United States military effort during the Vietnam War to deprive the “enemy” of cover and food by spraying defoliants….
…Fifty years ago, in 1967, the United States sprayed 5.1 million gallons of herbicides with toxic chemical dioxin across Vietnam, a single-year record for the decade-long campaign to defoliate the countryside. It was done without regard to dioxin’s effect on human beings or its virulent and long afterlife…American soldiers were among the unintended victims of this decision. Unwarned, they used the empty 55-gallon drums for makeshift showers….
…Records…indicate that both the military and the chemical companies involved were well aware, early on, of the dangers of dioxin….Unconscionable…is the American government’s refusal to acknowledge that Agent Orange has caused the same damage to the Vietnamese as it has to Americans….Only $20 million has been allotted for victims. The…American…excuse is that a definitive connection between Agent Orange and the illnesses has not yet been made. But the evidence is overwhelming: Vietnamese soldiers…with perfectly health children before going to the fight, came home and sired offspring with deformities and horrific illnesses: villages repeatedly sprayed have exceptionally high birth-deformity rates….Given a Vietnamese Red Cross estimate of three million victims, the amount of aid is approximately $12 a year per victim….an inconsequential amount compared to what it cost to produce, transport and deploy the herbicide in the first place. But the legacy of Agent Orange is…about human decency. America created Agent here in a laboratory, shipped it overseas and dumped it with abandon, where it continues to shatter thousands of people’s lives.