CNN should have fired Brian Stelter long ago. He is repugnant and abusive.
Here is a word that risks deterring you from reading on much further, even though it may hold the key to understanding why we are in such a terrible political, economic and social mess. That word is “externalities”.
It sounds like a piece of economic jargon. It is a piece of economic jargon. But it is also the foundation stone on which the west’s current economic and ideological system has been built. Focusing on how externalities work and how they have come to dominate every sphere of our lives is to understand how we are destroying our planet – and offer at the same time the waypost to a better future.
In economics, “externalities” are usually defined indifferently as the effects of a commercial or industrial process on a third party that are not costed into that process.
Here is what should be a familiar example. For decades, cigarette manufacturers made enormous profits by concealing scientific evidence that over time their product could prove lethal to customers. The firms profited by externalising the costs associated with cigarettes – of death and disease – on to those buying their cigarettes and wider society. People gave Philip Morris and British American Tobacco their money as these companies made those smoking Marlboros and Lucky Strikes progressively unhealthier.
The externalised cost was paid – is still paid – by the customers themselves, by grieving families, by local and national health services, and by the taxpayer. Had the firms been required to pick up these various tabs, it would have proved entirely unprofitable to manufacture cigarettes.
Externalities are not incidental to the way capitalist economies run. They are integral to them. After all, it is a legal obligation on private companies to maximise profits for their shareholders – in addition, of course, to the personal incentive bosses have to enrich themselves, and each company’s need to avoid making themselves vulnerable to more profitable and predatory competitors in the marketplace.
Companies are therefore motivated to offload as many costs as possible on to others. As we shall see, externalities mean someone other than the company itself pays the true cost behind its profits, either because those others are too weak or ignorant to fight back or because the bill comes due further down the line. And for that reason, externalities – and capitalism – are inherently violent.
All this would be glaringly obvious if we didn’t live inside an ideological system – the ultimate echo chamber enforced by our corporate media – that is complicit either in hiding this violence or in normalising it. When externalities are particularly onerous or harmful, as they invariably are in one way or another, it becomes necessary for a company to obscure the connection between cause and effect, between its accumulation of profit and the resulting accumulation of damage caused to a community, a distant country or the natural world – or all three.
That is why corporations – those that inflict the biggest and worst externalities – invest a great deal of time and money in aggressively managing public perceptions. They achieve this through a combination of public relations, advertising, media control, political lobbying and the capture of regulatory institutions. Much of the business of business is deception, either making the externalised harm invisible or gaining the public’s resigned acceptance that the harm is inevitable.
In that sense, capitalism produces a business model that is not only rapacious but psychopathic. Those who pursue profit have no choice but to inflict damage on wider society, or the planet, and then cloak their deeply anti-social – even suicidal – actions.
A recent film that alludes to how this form of violence works was last year’s Dark Waters, concerning the long-running legal battle with DuPont over the chemicals it developed to make non-stick coatings for pots and pans. From the outset, DuPont’s research showed that these chemicals were highly dangerous and accumulated in the body. The science overwhelmingly suggested that exposed individuals would be at risk of developing cancerous tumours or producing children with birth defects.
There were huge profits to be made for DuPont from its chemical discovery so long as it could keep the research hidden. So that’s exactly what its executives did. They set aside basic morality and acted in concert with the psychopathic demands of the marketplace.
This is an important article but, as I read it, what comes to mind for me is: What is Jane Fonda going to do? She says she cares about the environment but she invested heavily in DuPont -- in fact, Tom Hayden used the threat of exposing that stock portfolio to get his huge cash settlement in the divorce. So now she is Fire Drill Friday Jane but should some of those millions she made from investing in DuPont be turned over to the people? She made money off tragedies and harm?
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Suadad al-Salhi remains targeted in Iraq, Joe Biden continues to campaign on nothing, real issues are ignored by both Joe and the press, and much more.
America's long nightmare will soon be over. The Trump presidency? No, the hysteria over the election as if voting ever changed anything. Emma Goldman was right: "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." The American Empire goes on, regardless of who is in the White House. Donald Trump is crass and that seems to upset a number of neocons and neolibs. He's not the different from Barack Obama -- who made a mockery of the lead water in Flint -- except he's less smooth. They're madmen, the criminals who run the United States. They terrorize the world and a lot of Americans fool themselves otherwise.
As Gloria La Riva observes, the Democrats and the Republicans are two pillars of the Pentagon.
Gloria is the US presidential candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
2020 could have been a change moment. Bernie Sanders isn't an especially smart person, not especially wise and he certainly never demonstrated much of a backbone in his Congressional career but, in 2020, he did run on real issues, on the actual needs of the American people. That's why people responded to his campaign in such large numbers. Had he received the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, you would have had an electrified electorate who would have made demands and held him to what he was promising. Instead, the powers-that-be rigged the election for the worst person running for the nomination: Joe Biden.
Joe promises nothing. He will deliver nothing for the people. He's pro-fracking, he's anti-New Green Deal, he's anti-Medicare For All and he's never held accountable for his actions with regards to Iraq. In fact, the media has acted as though -- has lied -- his actions with Iraq began and ended in 2002 with his vote for the Iraq War. Joe's been able to stand on the debate stage during the primaries, taking credit for Iraq and bragging that Barack put him in charge of Iraq. Barack did put him in charge. For eight years, Joe was in charge. It was eight of the worst years the country has seen since the war began.
It was under Joe, for example, that the US government overturned the votes of the Iraqi people in 2010 and then brokered The Erbil Agreement to give the loser of that election, thug Nouri al-Maliki, a second term as prime minister. It was under Joe that the US looked the other way as Nouri refused to honor the promises he made in The Erbil Agreement to get a second term. This despite, please remember, the November phone call Barack made to Ayad Allawi promising that The Erbil Agreement had the full backing of the US government and would be enforced. Allawi, of course, is the person the Iraqi people voted for. This led to efforts to remove Nouri from office. Moqtada al-Sadr, Masoud Barazani, Ayad Allawi, Ammar al-Hakim and other leaders announced their intent and Moqtada, while the process went on, repeatedly and publicly reminded that all Nouri had to do to stop the effort was to start implementing his side of The Erbil Agreement. He refused, so they followed the removal process outlined in the Constitution, gathering signatures from MPs for the move for a no-confidence vote. They gathered those signatures and submitted them to the then-president of Iraq, Fat Ass Jalal Talabani.
So Nouri was removed?
If you're asking that question, you're admitting the American media failed you. It failed you in real time as this went down and it failed you for the last two years as they cheerleaded Joe and avoided reality.
Per the Constitution, Jalal's only role was to read the names into the record in Parliament. Under pressure from Joe Biden (and with US monies being dangled before him) the corrupt and corpulent Jalal invented 'new rules.' He had, he insisted, the obligation to verify the signatures. Okay . . . but then he added that he had the right to make sure that not only did they sign the paper but that if he had the paper in his hand today and was holding it and giving them the stink eye, the people who signed would still sign. He never revealed numbers but he insisted that a large number of MPs insisted that, yes, they signed but if, he was holding the petition in front of them today, they wouldn't sign it.
Joe's responsible for that. Jalal's responsible for lying. And Jalal got bit on his fat ass by karma. He did that, he betrayed Iraq, and sensing that the Iraqi people were going to be outraged, immediately left the country. He fled to Germany. He lied to the Iraqi people telling them this was life-threatening surgery. It wasn't. He had elective knee surgery (his knees were shot from carrying that fat ass of his around) (seriously, he was most infamous in America for a trip to a bookstore where his fat ass fell to the ground and he had to be helped up -- this after he had the equivalent of lipo on the same trip). Karam didn't like Jalal. That's why it made true on his lies. Meaning? By the end of the year, it gave him a stroke -- in the midst of an argument with Nouri. And he had to be medically transported to Germany. And? He never recovered. He couldn't speak, he could barely move.
All of that got left out in the US press that pretended to cover Iraq. So did the reality that Nouri's second term is responsible for the rise of ISIS. Nouri was a delusional paranoid, as the CIA noted in early 2006. That's why Bully Boy Bush selected him to be the prime minister of Iraq. It was thought that Nouri's intense paranoia would make him easy for the US government to manipulate and control. Joe wanted Nouri to have a second term and did not care about Nouri's make up or, for that matter, his actions. By 2010, it was already known that Nouri was running secret prisons and torture cells in Iraq. But Joe gave him that second term and one of the results was the rise of ISIS and ISIS seizing Mosul.
That's the actual record Joe bragged about in Democratic Party debates. And the bordello that is the American press whored and looked the other way.
They also looked the other way with regards to Jo Jorgensen which is why so many are unaware that -- by any standard -- Jo should have been on stage at the debates this month. She's the presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party and voters in all fifty states can vote for, she has the ballot access. There was no reason to bar her from the debates but no big corporate 'news' outlet wanted to write that article or serve up that video report, did they?
It's not enough that they rally behind Joe, they have to render invisible anyone who might challenge him -- that's a political opponent, that's Tara Reade or anyone else telling uncomfortable truths about Joe.
And the reality is that the man they rally behind promises nothing and swears nothing will change, that a bunch of lying whores rally behind.
Howie Hawkins is the presidential candidate for the US Green Party. At COUNTERPUNCH this morning, he notes:
The result of progressives consistently settling for the Democrats as the lesser evil has created a political dynamic has been moving US politics to the right for decades. The soft-right Democrats ignore progressive demands they pose no threat of taking their votes elsewhere. Instead, they adapt to the hard-right Republicans. Bill Clinton called it “triangulation.” Joe Biden calls it “working across the aisle.”
Meanwhile, the progressives in the Democratic Party are accommodating to Biden’s politics. Bernie Sanders is now for Medicare for All over 55 years old with a public option for the rest. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took the Green New Deal slogan from the Greens and diluted the content in the non-binding resolution for a Green New Deal by dropping the essential immediate demand for a ban on fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure, eliminating the rapid phase-out of nuclear power, removing the deep cuts in military spending to help fund the program, and extending the deadline for zero carbon emissions from 2030 to 2050. The words Green New Deal were not mentioned at the Democratic convention, in the Sanders-Biden Unity Task Force recommendations on climate, or in the Democratic Platform, which is pro fossil fuels and, for the first time in 50 years, pro nuclear.
There will be no Medicare for All or Green New Deal from the Democrats, let alone a retreat from military bloat, wars, and coups abroad. But these progressives counsel people to vote for them everywhere, which tells the Democrats to take them for granted because posed no threat to vote for the Greens anywhere.
I don’t support a safe states strategy. Every state is a battleground for the Green Party. The gas industry is fracking the hell out of battleground states Pennsylvania and Ohio where the ducking Democrats join the retrograde Republicans lending no support to the anti-fracking movement. Greens, not the Democrats, are fighting the expansion of the Enbridge oil pipelines that take Alberta tar sands oil and Bakken fracked oil across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota on to oil refineries. In every state, Greens are taking on Democratic machines in the cities, and real estate industry that finances them, when we fight for affordable housing and against the brutality of police forces that do what the Democrats in the cities designed them to do, which is to keep downscale people, particularly Black people, down and out of upscale communities. They are set up to police the New Jim Crow lines of school district and municipal boundaries that segregate us by race and class.
We should all be concerned about the voter suppression activities of Trump and the Republicans. But Greens know from bitter experience that we should also be concerned about voter suppression in the form of party suppression by the Democrats. The Democrats were able to knock the Greens off the ballot in Montana, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania where the Green petitions had two to three times the required signatures, which was difficult to do in the Covid lockdown. But the Democrats are also legislating party suppression. For example, in New York the Democrats rammed through a law attached to the state budget bill in April while attention was focused on the pandemic that triples the number of votes the Greens need to keep their ballot line. Only Nader for president in 2000 and me in 2014 for governor ever got that many votes as a Green candidate in New York. If we lose the ballot line, we will need 45,000 good signatures – triple the old number – collected in a six-week window to get statewide candidates on the ballot. When the Socialist Party lost its ballot line in 1938 in New York, it never recovered it. There was not an independent left party with a ballot line in New York again until the Green Party, 1999-2002 and 2010-?.
I can understand why people in a close state would vote for Biden to stop Trump. I don’t agree, but I share their desire to get Trump out. But why aren’t the prominent progressives afraid of a repressive Democratic Party that is suppressing the Green Party?
AOC whores lately. Did she ever do anything else? I don't know. But we called out AOC and Jane Fonda whoring yesterday. Here's a discussion of Howie rightly calling out AOC.
AOC's a whore. And Jane needs to shut up about the environment. We're talking about a woman who just produced a glossy paged coffee book about the environment -- so thick headed, she didn't grasp that coated paper isn't biodegradable. What an idiot.
Yesterday, we noted a conversation Tara Reade took part in. She pointed out that despite both Donald Trump and Joe Biden being accused by multiple women each of harassment and assault, the topic was never raised in either debate. So much was ignored in the duopoloy debate.
That's Howie talking about the environment. You know what else the duopoly debate ignored? Poverty. You can say basically any word now on primetime TV. The only word censored today is, in fact, poverty.
That's Howie talking about poverty. I haven't her 'Scranton Joe' talking about poverty. Have you? The duopoly debate certainly didn't address peace. The US government has multiple wars going on across the globe and the Iraq War, for example, turns 18 years old in March. But despite Donald and Joe both wanting to be sworn in as president in January 2021, neither had anything to say about peace or how to end these forever-wars.
You have many alternative to corporate Joe if you're voting. You can vote for Gloria La Riva, Jo Jorgensen and Howie Hawkins, to name but three.
Turning to Iraq and the threat against journalism and specifically against journalist Suadad al-Salhy. Suadad has reported for ALJAZEERA, THE NEW YORK TIMES, ASSOCIATED PRESS and REUTERS. She currently reports for MIDDLE EAST EYE. The Iraqi government is attempting to silence her. RUDAW reports:
The Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) is calling for the
retraction of an arrest warrant issued for Middle East Eye journalist
An Iraqi court ordered the arrest on October 22 over a libel lawsuit which is penalizable under Iraqi law by imprisonment, financial compensation or both. The warrant didn’t include information about the claimant, says the CFWIJ.
Salhy’s arrest warrant came the same day the journalist published an exclusive report claiming that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was behind Iraqi armed factions deciding to halt their attacks on US interests last week.
No announcement of Salhy's arrest has been made.
“The Coalition For Women In Journalism condemns the arrest warrant against Suadad and expresses its solidarity with the journalist,” the organization said in a Friday statement. “CFWIJ calls upon the Iraqi authorities to amend the penal code to remove imprisonment of journalists for publishing and libel and to ensure a safe and free environment for women journalists in Iraq.”
The report was posted to the web on Thursday and hours later, a judge at the Investigative Court in Karada issued a warrant for her arrest, charging her with “defamation.”
So in the view of the judge, Salhy had defamed Khamenei by stating that he was behind the militias’ declaration of a ceasefire.
The charge of defamation appears under article 443-1 of Iraq’s Penal Code and is punishable by a fine and a year in prison.
Kurdish officials have complained that despite Iraq’s liberal 2005 constitution, many laws from the deposed Baathist regime remain in effect.
Just why that article should have produced a charge of defamation—within mere hours of its publication—is not clear. It is quite possible that what really upset the judge in Karada (and any others who might have been involved) was Salhy’s earlier article, in which she reported, in detail, that Iran and its proxies in Iraq had retreated in the face of very serious US threats.
It is also unclear what authority the judge had to issue such a warrant or what investigation preceded its issuance, coming as it did, so soon after the article’s publication.
According to the website of Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council, under which the Karada court operates, a court of investigation consists of one judge and one attorney, and it responds to complaints from local police stations.
For now, no further steps have been taken against Salhy, and both the CPJ and RSF have called on Iraqi authorities to refrain from executing the arrest warrant and to drop the charge against her altogether.
None of the reporters who have worked with her, including Ned Parker, have bothered to note what's going on right now. I would've thought they would rush to support her and raise awareness about what's going on right now. Scott Horton (ANTIWAR RADIO) interviewed her in February (see below) and he still hasn't even Tweeted about her being targeted.
Meanwhile, protests continue in Iraq and we'll note two video reports.
New content at THIRD:
- Media: NPR doesn't trust its listeners
- Truest statement of the week
- Truest statement of the week II
- A note to our readers
- Editorial: It must be nice to live in stupidity an...
- Video of the week
- Knots Landing
- Tweet of the week
- This edition's playlist
- Jo Jorgensen is the US presidential candidate fro...
- Howie Talking Environmental Policy with students f...
- 'Democrats and Republicans are Two Pillars of the ...
The following sites updated: