Archive for the 'Democracy?' Category

MILITARY COUP IN THE UNITED STATES?

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

I read today in an article published in the Boston Globe that the United States is undergoing a military coup.  Titled “America’s Slow Motion Military Coup”, you can read it at the link at the end of this post.

The article states, “… Trump has turned much of his power over to generals.”  A very scary development indeed.   The generals are: General James Mattis, Secretary of Defence, General John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff, and General H.R. McMaster, national security adviser.

General James Mattis, Trump’s Secretary of Defense

General John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff

General H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser

The article talks about the United States now having a “junta.”

“Our new junta is different from classic ones like, for example, the ‘National Council for Peace and Order’ that now rules Thailand. First, our junta’s interest is only international relations, not domestic policy. Second, it did not seize power in a coup, but derives its authority from the favor of an elected president. Third and most important, it[‘s] main goal is not to impose a new order but to enforce an old one, in that they [the generals advising Trump] persuaded Trump not to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan but rather to increase troops there and continue ‘killing terrorists.'”

By definition, a military coup has happened when generals dictate policy to the supposed leader of a country.  We have had a military coup here.

What are we going to do about it?

Here is the link to the article.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/09/16/america-slow-motion-military-coup/WgzYW9MPBIbsegCwd4IpJN/story.html

BERNIE WANTS TO REVOLUTIONIZE U.S. HEALTHCARE

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Here is a link to an article about Bernie Sanders’ efforts to create Medicare for All in the US.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/13/bucking-profit-system-sanders-aims-revolutionize-us-healthcare-medicare-all

I lived in France which has had health care for all its people for many years. This meant that when I suffered a serious medical condition and was sent to the hospital where I had two surgeries and was kept there for two months, the bill was what a weekend in the hospital in this country would have cost.

Furthermore, the surgeon who operated on me was the acknowledged best in the world for that kind of procedure.

The Unites States is very much out of line with the rest of the developed world in the matter of health care. Some people in the US have excellent health care, but there are many who have no health care and many other people with little health care as well as those unable to afford what health care would be available to them.

I do not know how to go about changing this situation and bringing the US in line with France and other countries with health care for all.  If anyone has ideas please share them.

NO PREPARATION FOR HURRICANE IRMA

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

People Fleeing Irma

Below is a link to an article about the failure of preparation for a hurricane such as Irma.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/09/11/pers-s11.html

I was especially struck by this:

“Certain basic actions must be taken. Those who have been impacted by Harvey and now Irma must be made whole through a massive social effort to rebuild quality and safe housing. Everyone has a right to a secure home, not open to the elements like those currently suffering in Florida in mobile structures.

“A multi-trillion-dollar public works program is necessary to modernize and develop social infrastructure, including water systems, power grids, bridges, roads and transportation networks. High-quality public transportation is needed not only for the every-day requirements of modern life, but is critical in emergency situations. Plans must be developed in all disaster-prone areas to provide free transportation and emergency housing to all who need it.”

I agree that those actions are necessary, but fear they will not be realized.   Nor do I know how I can help bring these actions about.

LOFOTEN DECLARATION

Friday, September 8th, 2017

“The Lofoten Declaration, named for an archipelago in Norway where drilling by the oil industry has been successfully blocked by environmental groups, demands ‘unprecedented action to avoid the worst consequences of our dependence on oil, coal, and gas.’  The document notes that new oil and gas exploration and production are ‘incompatible with limiting global warming to well below 2ºC,’ the stated goal of the Paris climate agreement of 2016 and that countries that do not embrace clean energy will soon be left behind …”

Read more about this at:
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/07/unprecedented-lofoten-declaration-demands-managed-decline-fossil-fuel-industry

I worry that the United States is being left behind, as I see precious little effort to eliminate fossil fuels here. Indeed, as I look out my window in New York City, I see many automobiles, virtually none of which are powered by anything but fossil fuels.

What can we do about this?  I don’t know how to begin to confront this problem that may mean very grave dangers for human life in this city, this country, and on this planet.

DANGEROUS AND UNPRECEDENTED STORM

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Hurricane Irma, “the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded” is devastating the Caribbean as I write.

“Fueled by warm ocean waters and fulfilling some of the most ominous predictions from climate scientists who warned that powerful storms would occur with increasing frequency and intensity, a “ferocious” Hurricane Irma slammed into the islands of Barbuda and Antigua early Wednesday morning as the most powerful Category 5 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.”  From Common Dreams, 6 September 2017

Global warming is real and very frightening to me.  As I have written in previous posts lately, weather here in New York City is significantly warmer than it was 40 years ago.  And these fierce storms in the Caribbean are even more disastrous than anything we have seen here, so far at least.

It frightens me to see so little response to these changes.  We could, as Paris has done (not for climate reasons so far as I know, however) ban automobile traffic in parts or all of our major cities.  We have excellent public transportation here in New York, but many people still drive their cars.  Worse perhaps, the number of taxis in this city is astronomical.

I do think that there may be some fewer automobiles here than forty years ago and fewer than in the rest of the country.  I read that in 2015 there were only about 0.6 vehicles for every household in New York City — the least of any city nationally.

Even so, why should there be any cars?  When will we make steps toward preserving our planet? Will the Earth be habitable for my great grandchildren?

FALL IS COMING

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

New York City at Night

I like the four seasons we have here in NYC very much. I have lived where it is just hot and hotter and where, though there is some difference in the lengths of days, it was not nearly so pronounced as here.

Even so, New York weather is very different from nearly forty years ago when I moved here. Then there were four very markedly different seasons with snowy winters. We didn’t have complete snow cover for the whole winter as there was in New England, but nearly. And, I remember great piles of snow along the sidewalks, taller than I am. And the winters were much colder.

Human influenced global warming is very evident to me and distressing. What will become of this planet?

A FRIGHTENING LOW FOR THE US

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Comparing the United States to Hitler’s Germany in 1933, a former British ambassador expressed shock at Donald Trump’s statements. A UN panel has issued a warning about the Charlottesville matter.

British ambassador Peter Westmacott compared Trump’s “campaign style” rally in Phoenix to what might have been seen in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

At that event in Phoenix, Trump railed against the press, which has been very critical of his response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination invoked its “urgent warning procedure,” denouncing failure of the US at the highest level to condemn the violent racist events and demonstrations led by white supremacists. In the past, the United States promoted tolerance and understanding between ethnic groups. Things have changed under Trump.

The UN employed its urgent warning procedure used for cases where unrest might “spiral into terrible events,” said the committee chairperson Anastasia Crickley.

The last time the UN issued decisions like this was last year in Burundi.  I am alarmed to find my country, the United States of America, classed with Hitler’s Germany and Burundi.

I contact my Senate and Congressional representatives regularly on this matter. What else I can do, I am not sure.

CORNELL WEST GETS A SURPRISE

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Cornel West says he was standing with 20 clergy members and social justice activists at the event in Charlottesville on Saturday singing “This Little Light of Mine” as nine military-style units of white nationalists marched past them shouting and cursing in their faces.

They were defended by the groups of anarchists and anti-fascists or they would have been in danger of their lives.

I am grateful for Cornel West and his compatriots at that event and for those among the anti-fascists and anarchists who protected them.

Cornel and his compatriots were faithful to this injunction:

Matthew 5:16 King James Version (KJV)

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

FAILURE OF THE RULE OF LAW

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

Reading the story about Sufyian Barhoumi, prisoner at Guantanamo, on Andy Worthington’s website has affected me far more than I imagined I could be affected after all the years of reading about these prisoners.  I feel anger and outrage at the US government and its leaders for causing this man to have lost so many years of his life in that loathsome prison.

The title of the article on Andy’s website is “Sufyian Barhoumi, the Peaceful Algerian Cleared for Release But Still Trapped in Guantanamo.”  This poor man, pictured above,  is, like nearly all of the prisoners who have been incarcerated in that dreadful place, completely innocent of any aggression against the United States or anyone.

A young lawyer, new to working with the prisoners at Guantanamo, Noor Zafar, has written of her experiences on Andy Worthington’s site. She writes,

“The jurisprudence that has crystallized in the Guantánamo detainees’ cases is so deferential to the government that it ensures no detainee may be set free as the result of a court order. Beyond embodying the failure of the rule of law, Guantánamo is a testament to what three years of legal education did not teach me: the powerful can twist the law beyond recognition to validate unjust outcomes. There is no other way to explain why Sufyian is still detained today.”

Noor Zafar published her narrative of a first trip to the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Mother Jones, July 14, 2017. It was re-posted on Andy’s site where you can read the entire horrific story as well as Andy’s remarks.

http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/

As always when I read about these prisoners and the horrible injustices done to them, even the few who unlike Sufyian Barhoumi actually were involved in violence, I am outraged that the United States is still engaged in this brutal and inhumane repression of human rights and of justice.

Donald Trump, as ignorant of the known truth about the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo as he is about so many things, brags about sending more people to the torture camp.

As an American citizen, I am horrified at the prison at Guantanamo, at the torture committed there.  What  can we do to stop it and close that disgraceful prison camp down?

HEALTH CARE

Friday, July 28th, 2017

I was very fortunate to have been in France when I suffered a serious health crisis–a colon perforation.  I was sent to the University Hospital in the city of Tours in which I lived where one of the best surgeons on the planet for that condition operated immediately to save my life.  A second operation was needed a few weeks later.

There was a whole staff of doctors who took care of me (I loved their rounds where the head surgeon gave a sort of lecture to all the people who were caring for me–from surgeons to nutritionists, about a dozen in all were included). Only when I was not only up and about but had been eating again after weeks of having nutrition intravenously did they let me leave.  I felt so cared for and secure there that I did not mind the long stay.  Furthermore, my sister Jacque who lived in Brussels came down to Tours and was at the hospital every day.  They fed her, too.

The nursing staff were wonderful.  One day several of them rushed into my room and asked Jacque and me about “JR and Bobby–pronounced “gee aire et Bobbie (accent on the second syllable of Bobbie).”  They knew I lived in Dallas and thought perhaps I might.  Alas, we had to disappoint them on that matter.  I did, however, tell them about seeing the place where that program was filmed.

In addition to their interest in US television, the nurses were very professional and competent.  France is the place where modern scientific medicine originated.  Louis Pasteur and Marie Curie were French, of course, and medical research and innovation continues as well as excellent medical practice for all at very low cost.  My bill for those two months in the hospital and two surgical procedures was the equivalent in francs of six thousand dollars; the cost of a weekend in the hospital in Dallas at the time.  Also, that included a month’s supply of the medication that they gave me when I left the hospital; they wanted me to continue taking it.

The person on their staff whose title I forget, a doctor who wrote all the reports and did research, gave me a very detailed account of my condition and treatment for my doctor in the US.  When I got home and went to his office,  I translated it for him and left him the original as well.  His reply was “Goodness, I am going to have to be a doctor and write back.”  He wrote an excellent report that I translated into French and sent to the doctors in Tours.

US health care often falls far short of that.  Some people here get excellent medical care, though it usually costs a lot of money, but many people in this country have little or no health care.  What would it take for Americans to demand and get universal health care of the highest quality for all of us that is also relatively low cost?  That is a question I ask repeatedly. If France can do it, we could here in the United States as well.