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The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They are Brilliant

Trump the 'master of the deal' has nothing to show

 

It's long been an American conceit that the way you negotiate is to demand a surrender by your opponent, and then you hammer out the terms of that surrender.

It worked great in World War II after the Red Army chewed up Germany's elite army and left the country with the choice of being overrun by the Soviets or surrendering at least part of the country to the US, Britain and France. It worked great in Japan too after the US, with a temporary monopoly on an unimaginably powerful new weapon, incinerated two of the country's cities and threatened to keep on doing so until The emperor and his generals gave up or let the Island nation be turned into charcoal.

But the concept didn't work in Vietnam, which drove the US out. It didn't work in Iraq, which is now an client state of Iran, it didn't work in Afghanistan, where the US is still fighting the Taliban 17 years after invading that poorest of countries. Truth to tell, the only time the policy really has worked was against the tiny island nation of Grenada, where the primary resistance to the US armada that assaulted the place was a company of Cuban construction workers working on a new airport. (7000 medals were awarded to US military personnel following that triumphant victory.)

But history doesn't matter for the world's "exceptional nation," and so now we have Trump's key advisors -- the neoconservative nut-job John Bolton, Trump's latest National Security Advisor whose primary asset seems to be hair, not brains or even military experience, and Mike Pompeo, recently shifted from the CIA director post over to Secretary of State, a porcine West Point graduate whose international experience appears to be limited to his having concluded that former President Barack Obama somehow managed to be both an "evil Muslim" and a Commuinist.

This goofy pair, appointed by that wiley deal-maker Trump, have managed to queer the deal on a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. First to give Kim second thoughts was Bolton who announced that the model for a peace agreement between the two nuclear powers, the US and North Korea, would be Libya, where of course, the US got Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafy to ship off all his nuclear bomb-making equipment to the US, and then orchestrated his overthrow and brutal murder. Bolton has insisted, with no disagreement from his boss, that for starters, North Korea would have to fork over all its nuclear weapons, and destroy all its nuclear weapons-making facilities. Then we can talk, the idea goes.

 Trump (center), Bolton (left) and Pompeo (right)Three White House Bozos: Trump (center), Bolton (left) and Pompeo (right)
 

Kim, of course, no dummy he, especially backed as he is by a treaty with neighboring China which commits China to come to North Korea's aid -- as it did quite decisively only a year after the foundation of the People's Republic of China, remember? -- should North Korea be attacked by the US or any other foreign power, has said no deal. Kim says he is all for denuclearizing the North Korean peninsula (in return for foreign aid and an end to sanctions), but that would include having the US sign an enforceable peace treaty including both China and Russia as guarantors, with the US recognizing his as the legitimate government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It would also include the US pulling its forces out of South Korea, where they used to keep hundreds of nuclear weapons, and are in place to stock up on them again at a moment's notice at present.

Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza

And how does his differ from the Nazis and the Warsaw Ghetto?

 

Hong Kong -- Sitting in this peaceful city on the far side of world from the United States can put some things in perspective. For one thing, the local papers, both Chinese-language and the English-language South China Morning Post today featured front-page images of dead Palestinian protesters lying on the ground in Gaza. Accompanying articles focused on the latest day's slaughter of over 50 unarmed Palestinians (later upped to 61, six of them children) and the deliberate maiming, often with high-velocity fragmentation bullets that reportedly shatter bones and tear huge holes in their victims, of another 1000 or more, including children. Meanwhile, the international edition of the New York Timesfor two days following the shootings has yet to carry such a photo, and has yet to feature a leading article about the latest IDF massacre in Gaza. Instead page one featured a piece about the risks to Israel posed by the US opening of an Israeli embassy in the supposedly international city of Jerusalem.

The slaughter of protesters in Gaza was a minor point in that article.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong readers are elsewhere seeing and reading about the true horror of what has been happening in Gaza.

The killers and maimers there are soldiers of the Israeli army, all of them sitting safely on earthen berms themselves behind three rows of security fence inside of Gazan territory that keep the protesting Gazan "inmates" at bay, way too far off to even pose a threat by throwing stones. Yet the IDF snipers still kill and maim, often, as the viral videos below shows, laughing at the results or their target practice.

Video taken by an IDF soldier of a sniper shooting a Palestinian boy to death and then being cheered by his comrades.Video taken by an IDF soldier of a sniper shooting a Palestinian boy to death and then being cheered by his comrades.
 

This one-sided violence is not a case of self-defense, though the Israeli government ludicrously tries to claim that because Palestinians are throwing rocks or attempting to, David like, use slings to toss them further, and are flying burning kites over the border in hopes if igniting Israeli farmers' fields, they pose a serious threat. Nor is it a case of deterrence, as there's no way Gazans can push through the walls confining them and enter Israeli territory. It is purely a case of asserting authority and attempting to cow a captive population -- for Gaza is in reality the world's largest prison camp, a place where food, medicine, fuel and even water are strictly controlled and limited by the prison owner and operator, Israel. Close to two million Gazans cannot leave this ghetto except with Israeli permission or by stealth -- the former a rarity and the latter a deadly project. Recently the IDF even bombed a tunnel that was used to allow a few Gazans to slip into Egypt, and that had also allowed small amounts of scarce goods to be slipped into this hell-hole of Israeli's making.

Welcome to the Apocalypse

BDSM, #MeToo, Torture and the Drumbeat For War

 
In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity.
                  - NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman upon resigning

I’m not going to sit here, with the benefit of hindsight, and judge the very good people who made hard decisions, who were running the agency in very extraordinary circumstances.
                  - Gina Haspel, before the Senate Intelligence Committee
 
Life and politics are getting weirder and weirder. Now we have a powerful political figure -- the New York state attorney general -- who publicly advocated for, and allied with, the #MeToo Movement, who fought for the physical safety of women vis-à-vis men in the criminal justice system, who is, out-of-the-blue, outed by four women who accuse him of choking and beating them. His immediate explanation is that, whatever he did, he was participating in “consensual sexual ... role-playing.”

It’s becoming so weird it’s now trite to say: “You can’t make this stuff up.”

Gina Haspel and Eric Schneiderman in public happy-face modeGina Haspel and Eric Schneiderman in public happy-face mode

Thanks to Mr. Schneiderman’s predicament I learned a new acronym: BDSM, Bondage, Domination, Sado-Masochism. I also learned about the notion of “safe words.” That is, if Mr. Scheiderman is truthful in his claim that he has “never engaged in non-consensual sex” and the four women are truthful in their accusations of being on the receiving end of violent acts they apparently did not accede to, then the issue seems to be a kinky legal, contractual one. Law school Contracts 101. Did the attorney general get a bit over-enthusiastic and break his contractual agreement? Did the woman in question contractually agree to being choked as long as the attorney general agreed to stop when she said her safe word -- or when she gasped, "I can't breathe!" That is, was it play-acting akin to the plot of bestselling female romance novels and movies like 50 Shades of Gray or was it play-acting NYPD bad cop? There are so many questions looming in a bizarre case like this, thanks to the fact such apparently kinky behavior is naturally kept secret.

Open Letter

 
 
This is an open letter
to those whose egg shell chest
cracks
under the pressure
of their breath
breathing down borrowed air
like they aren’t worth
the photosynthesized miracle
of carbon and oxygen
 
This is an open letter
to those whose sense
of “this is who I am”
is up for grabs
at the hands of too many
unsecured moments
and people
fluttering in and out of their lives
like migratory birds
or rainy seasons
 
This is an open letter
to those whose childhood was marked
by the mental health of their parents
whose ability to survive
relied on accommodations
they made to another's mind
like
feeling out a form in the dark,
and learning
how to dance with it
 
This is an open letter
to those whose bridges
never felt sturdy enough
who never learned to take the chance
to walk across
even our most dilapidated
of structures.
 

Mumia Seeks to Show Top State Judge Doubled as Prosecutor and Jurist Reviewing his Appeals

Philly cops get priority courtroom seats

 

Following a brief hearing in Philadelphia yesterday, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker, learning that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office had thus far failed find and turn over, in response to his earlier order, any documents showing a role by former District Attorney Ron Castille regarding the department’s handling of an appeal by then death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, adjourned the hearing until Aug. 30. The judge acted to give Abu-Jamal’s attorneys time to depose a former DA employee about a still unlocated memo apparently composed by her for then DA Castile concerning Abu-Jamal’s case.

Later, Tracey Kavanagh, the attorney from the DA’s office who represented the DA's office at the hearing, stood outside on the sidewalk outside the Criminal Justice Center amidst a scrum of TV cameras and said, “We haven’t found any evidence so far that Judge Castille played any role as DA in Abu-Jamal’s appeal of his conviction. It was just a run-of-the-mill appeals process.”

If one wanted evidence of how absurd Kavanagh's assertion was — that the appeal of a 1982 murder conviction and death sentence for the slaying of a white police officer by one of the city’s leading African-American journalists, himself police critic and former member of the city’s Black Panther Party, was anything but a prime political concern for District Attorney Castille, whose office had the responsibility of preventing any challenge to sentence — all one had to do was try to get into the courtroom on Monday.

XX

I tried. Some 100 or so supporters of Abu-Jamal had shown up at 7:30 in the morning outside the county courthouse on Filbert St. near City Hall to protest his continued incarceration. They then lined up when doors opened to shuffle their way through security in the court building and then up to the 11th floor to line up again at the entrance to the small courtroom Number 1108. By the time I got there, along with many other journalists and interested parties, we found ourselves unable to get into the courtroom. But a lot of police officers, even those arriving later than us, had no trouble gaining entry.

The sheriff’s deputy standing guard in her flak vest at the courtroom entrance, and another guarding a side entrance to the courtroom, saw to it that plenty of cops in uniform, fully equipped with their sidearms and tasers, were allowed inside to sit in the spectator benches and put pressure on the judge and the attorneys from the DA’s office. When anyone left the courtroom, the sheriff controlling access still barred other citizens waiting in the hallway from replacing them. But if a cop left the courtroom, another would freely enter. Over at the side door, other officers were also occasionally being allowed to enter. Clearly space was being reserved in the courtroom for police at this hearing.

In general, police officers are not supposed to wear their uniforms when they are off duty, although in some cities they are allowed to do so if they are doing some security job where the department has specifically authorized them to wear the uniform. Otherwise no. But here they were — even a burly Highway Patrol motorcycle cop decked out ostentatiously in his knee-high leather boots, motorcycle jacket, and ‘30s-era aerodynamic motorcycle officer’s cap.

So that raises the question of who dispatched these officers to sit in the courtroom and to hang out in the hallway. Philly cops don’t provide court security, a task assigned to Sheriff’s Department. So either the Philly Police Department sent them over and they were there on official duty, collecting paychecks to hang around in the hall or sit in the courtroom looking grim and angry, or they were organized by the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union which, like Ahab pursuing his White Whale, has been dedicated to having Abu-Jamal executed or, since 2011 when his death sentence was finally tossed out on Constitutional grounds, to seeing that he never gets out of jail.

Starbucks & Philadelphia's Bitter Brew of (Police-Sanctioned) Pernicious Prejudice

Cops and coffee shop in hot water

Philadelphia police car outside Starbucks location of infamous 4/12/18 arrest incident. PhotoLBWPhiladelphia police car outside Starbucks location of infamous 4/12/18 arrest incident. PhotoLBW
 

Startling Philadelphia Police Department data related to the Starbucks coffee shop location where the flawed mid-April 2018 arrest of two black men sparked outrage internationally shines an unflattering spotlight on tolerance of racial discrimination within the Starbucks corporation and among police in Philadelphia.

This recently released data coupled with other accounts details a year-plus long pattern of discriminatory conduct by Starbucks personnel that seemingly received tacit backing from middle management at Starbucks and by Philadelphia police.

That now infamous April 12th arrest arose when a white manager at a Starbucks location in Philadelphia’s ritzy Rittenhouse Square neighborhood called police on the two black businessmen two minutes after they entered the coffee shop to await a scheduled meeting with a white businessman who arrived as the pair were placed in handcuffs.

That Starbucks manager, identified in news reports as Holly Hylton, claimed the two businessmen had defiantly rejected her requests to leave the shop because they had not immediately made purchases. One of the pair had asked to use the shop’s bathroom a request rejected by Hylton, who declared bathroom access is limited to paying customers only.

Hylton claimed she was merely enforcing Starbucks corporate policy. However, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, said it was “completely inappropriate to engage the police” because those two men were not creating a “disturbance.”

That recently released data – Philadelphia police 911 call logs – list 69 police responses to various incidents at that 1801Spruce Street Starbucks location between January 2016 and April 18, 2018. Those incidents ranged from improper operation of the security system to robbery.

What Does ‘Denuclearization’ Mean in the Negotiations for an End to the Korean War?

Ending US occupation of South Korea

Media news reports and commentary as well as political statements coming out of Washington on the surprising blossoming of peace talks between North and South Korea tend to focus on the question of whether North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is really “serious” about eliminating his recently developed nuclear weapons arsenal, or whether he will just try to keep what he has while decrying US military threats to his regime.

Missing in all the verbiage has been any reporting on the long US history of nuclear weapons in South Korea, where the US still, 65 years after the end of fighting on the peninsula, maintains at least three military bases and 28,000 combat-ready troops.

That history includes the US keeping as many as 950 nuclear bombs and a variety of delivery systems — rockets, planes and even howitzers that fire nuclear shells — within miles of the North Korean border.

The US military still calls the shots in South Korea,  even over that country's own militaryThe US military still calls the shots in South Korea, even over that country's own military
 

An excellent 2017 report by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, based upon publicly available Defense Department documents, gives detailed history of the basing of nuclear weapons — strategic and tactical — in South Korea during at least 33 years of the 65 years that the US and North Korea have been officially in a state of war. That report makes it clear that North Korea continues to have a bull’s eye on it for US Trident submarines patrolling the north Pacific, and for nuclear-capable aircraft based on Guam, Okinawa and possibly or potentially in Japan, where the US has a major naval base.

The report states that US nuclear weapons were finally fully removed from South Korea in 1991, on orders from then President George H. W. Bush, but discussions to return them took place on several occasions when tensions rose on the peninsula, including as recently as 2011 during the Obama administration.

In US reporting on the peace negotiations between North and South Korea, and in speculation about whether Kim Jong-un is “serious” about “giving up” his country’s nukes, there is typically a mention that while “denuclearization” for the US means Kim giving up his nukes, the term for Kim and North Korea might mean a demand that the US pull its troops from South Korea and shut its bases there.

US Media Fudge Rebels' Douma Surrender Date to Imply Alleged Assad Chemical Attack Turned Tide

Shifting timeline to oonfirm US propaganda

 

Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have only recently reached Douma, scene of an alleged chemical bombing attack on April 7, and have not yet had time to test samples they collected to see if banned poison chemicals were actually used, but already US mainstream media reporting on the situation in the Damascus suburb where the alleged chemical attack is said to have occurred is starting to shift. That shift tends to make the story to fall more comfortably in line with the US government position that the attack, if it happened, was the work of the Syrian military, and that Assad's "attack" caused rebels to surrender and agree to leave the embattled city.

The problem is, though, that back on April 1, a week before the alleged attack, the Associated Press was reporting something quite different: namely that rebels in Douma were beginning to evacuate the area they had held for years, under a safe passage agreement negotiated with the Syrian government, according to which buses would be able to remove them to safety in the north of the country. That report made clear that the rebel resistance had already collapsed g and that the rebel fighters were going to be evacuated in following days by chartered buses, which had already begun moving them out of the city well before April 7.

A French state television report on April 1 also reported that on that date:
 

Negotiators in the last rebel-held bastion in Syria's eastern Ghouta reached a deal on Saturday with the Russian side to evacuate the wounded from Douma to rebel-held northern Syria, local sources familiar with the deal said.
The agreement was reached by the negotiating committee that comprises both civic leaders and representatives of Jaish al-Islam, the rebel faction in control of Douma, the sources said.
The committee has been negotiating a deal to spare the city a military assault by the Syrian army and its allies who encircle it. They have threatened to storm the city if rebels do not agree to surrender the last patch in the enclave in return for safe passage to insurgent-held territory in northwestern Syria.
 

Rebels fleeing Douma by bus caravan under a Russian-negotiated 'safe passage' agreementRebels fleeing Douma by bus caravan under a Russian-negotiated 'safe passage' agreement
 

These accounts of course raise serious questions as to why Assad would opt to drop a few chemical bombs as he’s accused by the US of doing, killing a few dozen local residents while predictably angering the world community and giving the US an opening to bomb his forces. Why do that if Assad’s military forces had already won full control of the last rebel stronghold in Syria’s capital city region, with an agreement, already being implemented, to ship the rebels out of the city?

The coming world that should be

New TCBH! poem:

 
 
There is a world coming that should be.
I can see it.
It’s close to being the world we have
But different in some important ways:
More food for the hungry,
More love,
More honesty,
Less gas and oil and meaningless death and wars,
More love,
Oh, I already said that, more love.
 

And let it be soon
Before it’s too late
And the door closes
For the creation of would-be worlds.
But whether there is a new world
The time for the end to this old world has arrived
With a clap of thunder,
So loud it makes your brain go numb.
It makes your ears ring
Like the great gong
In the courtyard of a Buddhist temple
To an ant climbing on the gong,
When the gong is struck 33 times
For the 33 faces of the Buddha.
 

Starbucks has a Racism Problem, but the Police, both Racist and Authoritarian, are Worse

Shut up or you’re under arrest

 

At a time when we have over a millions young high school and college students march in the streets demanding a ban on assault-style semi-automatic rifles, and an end to mass shootings, as well as continued protests over police shootings of unarmed and all too often black or latino young people, it might seem trivial to see a wave of national outrage over an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks shop involving two black men who were arrested by police for refusing a manager’s order to leave because they weren’t buying anything.

But when you look at the story closer it becomes clear that, as horrible as the Starbucks manager at this one store, and Starbuck corporate management, have been shown to be, this ugly incident really is also about the more serious issue of the increasingly militarized and authoritarian behavior of our nation’s police — a problem which we as a society have come to accept as normal.

Consider for a moment what transpired: Two 23-year-old black men, Rashon Nelson and Dante Robinson, casually but well-dressed, last week entered a Starbucks located in a toney mostly white residential section of central Philadelphia at Spruce and 18th Street and sat down to wait for a white property developer who was going to discuss a potential real estate deal with them. One of the men, Nelson, needed to use the restroom, which required obtaining a key or an access code as many urban coffee shops do. He was denied access by the store manager, allegedly because they hadn’t purchased anything yet. The manager then went over to the two seated men and told them they had to leave, according to Nelson. Offended because, of course, many customers — at least white ones — routinely use Starbucks restrooms without buying something first, they went back to their seats to wait for the person coming to meet them, as countless people do who arrive early for a planned meeting at Starbucks.

The manager then took things further, dialing 911 and calling for the police to come and evict the two. It was an outrageous act, and would have been even if she had waited until the men had been sitting for some time without buying anything. After all, Starbucks patrons (at least white ones), routinely go into Starbucks, sit for long periods of time talking, reading or using electronic equipment, and using the restrooms, and then leave. Reportedly a local white jogger actually trotted in and used the restroom at this particular Starbucks as this incident was developing, without anyone complaining or stopping him. I myself, a white freelance writer who works at home all day, often take a break and visit my local Starbucks to work for a while with my phone and computer, just to have some human contact. I may meet a friend from the neighborhood, or just hear other conversation while I work. Often I’ll buy a coffee, but not necessarily if I’m already over-caffeinated. Nobody bothers me, or any others I see just sitting and reading a paper or talking with a friend, again often at an empty table devoid of coffee product. But admittedly as I think of it, most of those sitting around staring into computers or smartphones or reading are white or Asian, not black.

Developer Andrew Yaffee objects to police arresting two men waiting to meet him for to discuss a business deal at a Philly Starbucks (twitter vid screen grab)Developer Andrew Yaffee objects to police arresting Rshon Nelson and Dante Robinson (center) waiting to meet him for to discuss a business deal at a Philly Starbucks (twitter vid screen grab)
 

After the manager called 911 and reported that two men were refusing her demand that they leave her store, Philly’s Finest raced to the scene, apparently in force with between six and eight officers converging on the location by car and bike. Most of those who showed up were white, including a supervisor whose presence indicated the cops were expecting trouble.

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Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

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by Dr. Radut