A Brief History of US Concentration Camps

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ignited a firestorm of criticism for calling US immigrant detention centers “concentration camps.” To her credit, Ocasio-Cortez has refused to back down, citing academic experts and blasting the Trump administration for forcibly holding undocumented migrants “where they are brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying.”

What follows is an overview of US civilian concentration camps through the centuries. Prisoner-of-war camps, as horrific as they have been, have been excluded due to their legal status under the Geneva Conventions, and for brevity’s sake. Continue reading

Trump Is Misleading America Into a New War

Trump’s closest allies (and business partners) in the region—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel—urge military attacks. His closest Washington advisors in the White House, the State Department, and Fox News also want war and have said so repeatedly. They skillfully feed reporters sound bites and cherry-picked intelligence to convince them to report Iran’s “malign activities” in the region. With Trump’s approval or ignorance, they have taken a series of steps, beginning with the ill-advised and unnecessary abrogation of the Iran anti-nuclear accord, to provoke a conflict. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, is working full-time to lay the groundwork for military strikes. Continue reading

The Remorseless Working of Things: A Political Tragedy in Three Parts

We have climate change deniers in the face of a changing climate. We have people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnel who create massive deficits from tax cuts for the rich, even though we’ve tried trickle down and supply side at least three times now, and it has failed every time. Facts don’t matter. Belief in astrology is on the rise. And more than forty percent of Americans believe Jesus will return to Earth before 2050, presumably ushering in the “end times.” And we have a press that thinks a “balance” between the forces of darkness and reason is reasonable. Meanwhile, trust in scientists is eroding. Continue reading

If Trump’s the Symptom, What’s the Disease?

Never before in history has the rise and decline of imperial powers taken place in the context of the decline of the planet itself. The rising political temperature stirred by the growing populist right is taking place in the context of (and, worse yet, aiding and abetting) record global temperatures, the melting of ice across the planet, the rise of sea levels and the future drowning of coastlines (and cities), the creation of yet more refugees, the increasing fierceness of fires and droughts, and the intensification of storms. In the midst of it all, an almost unimaginable wave of extinctions is occurring, with a possible million plant and animal species, some crucial to human existence, already on the verge of departure. Continue reading

The Thought Police Are Coming

We have watched over the last decade as freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by wholesale government surveillance and the criminalizing of the leaking and, with Julian’s persecution, publication of these secrets. The press has been largely emasculated in the United States. The repeated use of the Espionage Act, especially under the Obama administration, to charge and sentence whistleblowers has shut down our ability to shine a light into the inner workings of power and empire. Governmental officials with a conscience, knowing all of their communications are monitored, captured and stored by intelligence agencies, are too frightened to reach out to reporters. Continue reading

U.S. Ambassador Says Israel Is ‘on the Side of God’

David M. Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel and a driving force in crafting the Trump administration’s long-awaited proposal to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, declared Tuesday that Israel was “on the side of God.” The remark was the latest sign of an anything but evenhanded approach to the conflict by the Trump administration. In addition to moving the embassy to Jerusalem the administration has made deep cuts in aid to the Palestinians and stopped referring to the West Bank as “occupied.” Friedman also said that if he had his way, the United States would continue to push the envelope in its support for Israel. Continue reading

The Gig (Economy) Is Up

Across America, the fastest-growing category of new jobs is gig work—contract, part-time, temp, self-employed and freelance. Estimates vary but it’s safe to say almost a quarter of American workers are now gig workers.

The jobs problem today isn’t just stagnant wages. It’s also uncertain incomes. A downturn in demand, change in consumer preferences, or a personal injury or sickness, can cause future paychecks to disappear. Yet nearly 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Gig work is also erasing 85 years of hard-won labor protections. At the rate gig work is growing, future generations won’t have a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation for injuries, employer-provided social security, overtime, family and medical leave, disability insurance, or the right to form unions and collectively bargain. Continue reading

Travel to Cuba Falls Victim to John Bolton’s Wrath

John Bolton hates the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua—calling them the “troika of tyranny” and is determined to use his time as National Security Advisor to eliminate the vestiges of socialism in our hemisphere. Furious that he has been unable to successfully orchestrate a coup in Venezuela, Bolton is now lashing out at Cuba, explicitly punishing the nation for its support of Venezuelan President Maduro. Continue reading

The US Cult of Bombing and Endless War

This country’s propensity for believing that its ability to rain hellfire from the sky provides a winning methodology for its wars has proven to be a fantasy of our age. Whether in Korea in the early 1950s, Vietnam in the 1960s, or more recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the U.S. may control the air, but that dominance simply hasn’t led to ultimate success. All the happy talk about the techno-wonders of modern air power obscures its darker facets, especially its ability to lock America into what are effectively one-way wars with dead-end results. In reality, this country might do better to simply ground its many fighter planes, bombers, and drones. Paradoxically, instead of gaining the high ground, they are keeping us on a low road to perdition. Continue reading