World

Russian government grants former NSA contractor Edward Snowden citizenship

Former National Security Agency (NSA) Edward Snowden has been gone from the United States for nine years and has been avoiding U.S. authorities by staying in Russia. And Snowden may be able to avoid them permanently; according to CNN, the Russian government has “granted” him “citizenship.”

CNN reports that the Russian government’s decision was announced in “an official decree” that was “published on the Russian government portal” on Monday, September 26.

“Snowden, who admitted to leaking information about U.S. surveillance programs to the press, has been in Russia since 2013,” CNN notes. “He is facing espionage charges and up to 30 years in prison in the U.S. In November 2020, Snowden and his wife applied for Russian citizenship. He had been already given permanent residency in Russia.”

READ MORE: No spying needed: Why prosecuting Espionage Act violations is 'controversial and complicated'

How bankrupt liberalism is empowering fascist movements in Europe and the US

Energy and food bills are soaring. Under the onslaught of inflation and prolonged wage stagnation, wages are in free fall. Billions of dollars are diverted by Western nations at a time of economic crisis and staggering income inequality to fund a proxy war in Ukraine. The liberal class, terrified by the rise of neo-fascism and demagogues such as Donald Trump, have thrown in their lot with discredited and reviled establishment politicians who slavishly do the bidding of the war industry, oligarchs and corporations.

The bankruptcy of the liberal class means that those who decry the folly of permanent war and NATO expansion, mercenary trade deals, exploitation of workers by globalization, austerity and neoliberalism come increasingly from the far-right. This right-wing rage, dressed up in the United States as Christian fascism, has already made huge gains in Hungary, Poland, Sweden, Italy, Bulgaria and France and may take power in the Czech Republic, where inflation and rising energy costs have seen the number of Czechs falling below the poverty line double.

By next spring, following a punishing winter of rolling blackouts and months when families struggle to pay for food and heat, what is left of our anemic western democracy could be largely extinguished.

Extremism is the political cost of pronounced social inequality and political stagnation. Demagogues, who promise moral and economic renewal, vengeance against phantom enemies and a return to lost glory, rise out of the morass. Hatred and violence, already at the boiling point, are legitimized. A reviled ruling class, and the supposed civility and democratic norms it espouses, are ridiculed.

It is not, as the philosopher Gabriel Rockhill points out, as if fascism ever went away. “The U.S. did not defeat fascism in WWII,” he writes, “it discretely internationalized it.” After World War II the U.S., U.K. and other Western governments collaborated with hundreds of former Nazis and Japanese war criminals, who they integrated into western intelligence services, as well as fascist regimes such as those in Spain and Portugal. They supported right-wing anti-communist forces in Greece during its civil war in 1946 to 1949, and then backed a right-wing military coup in 1967. NATO also had a secret policy of operating fascist terrorist groups. Operation Gladio, as the BBC detailed in a now-forgotten investigative series, created “secret armies,” networks of illegal stay-behind soldiers, who would remain behind enemy lines if the Soviet Union made a military move into Europe. In actuality, the “secret armies” carried-out assassinations, bombings, massacres and false flag terror attacks against leftists, trade unionists and others throughout Europe.

See my interview with Stephen Kinzer about the post-war activities of the CIA, including its recruitment of Nazi and Japanese war criminals and its creation of black sites where former Nazis were hired to interrogate, torture and murder suspected leftists, labor leaders and communists, detailed in his book Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, here.

Fascism, which has always been with us, is again ascendant. The far-right politician Giorgia Meloni is expected to become Italy’s first female prime minister after elections on Sunday. In a coalition with two other far-right parties, Meloni is forecast to win more than 60 percent of the seats in Parliament, though the left-leaning 5-Star Movement may put a dent in those expectations.

Meloni got her start in politics as a 15-year-old activist for the youth wing of the Italian Social Movement, founded after the World War II by supporters of Benito Mussolini. She calls EU bureaucrats agents of “nihilistic global elites driven by international finance.” She peddles the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that non-white immigrants are being permitted to enter Western nations as part of a plot to undermine or “replace” the political power and culture of white people. She has called on the Italian navy to turn back boats with immigrants, which the far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini did in 2018. Her Fratelli d’Italia, Brothers of Italy, party is a close ally of Hungary’s President, Viktor Orban. A European Parliament resolution recently declared that Hungary can no longer be defined as a democracy.

Meloni and Orban are not alone. Sweden Democrats, which took over 20 percent of the vote in Sweden’s general election last week to become the country’s second largest political party, was formed in 1988 from a neo-Nazi group called B.S.S., or Keep Sweden Swedish. It has deep fascist roots. Of the party’s 30 founders, 18 had Nazi affiliations, including several who served in the Waffen SS, according to Tony Gustaffson a historian and former Sweden Democrat member. France’s Marine Le Pen took over 41 percent of the vote in April against Emmanuel Macron. In Spain, the hard-right Vox party is the third largest party in Spain’s Parliament. The far-right German AfD or Alternative for Germany party took over 12 percent in federal elections in 2017, making it the third largest party, though it lost a couple percentage points in the 2021 elections. The U.S. has its own version of fascism embodied in a Republican party that coalesces in cult-like fashion around Donald Trump, embraces the magical thinking, misogyny, homophobia and white supremacy of the Christian Right and actively subverts the election process.

Economic collapse was indispensable to the Nazis’ rise to power. In the 1928 elections in Germany, the Nazi party received less than 3 percent of the vote. Then came the global financial crash of 1929. By early 1932, 40 percent of the German insured workforce, six million people, were unemployed. That same year, the Nazis became the largest political party in the German parliament. The Weimar government, tone deaf and hostage to the big industrialists, prioritized paying bank loans and austerity rather than feeding and employing a desperate population. It foolishly imposed severe restrictions on who was eligible for unemployment insurance. Millions of Germans went hungry. Desperation and rage rippled through the population. Mass rallies, led by a collection of buffoonish Nazis in brown uniforms who would have felt at home at Mar-a-Lago, denounced Jews, Communists, intellectuals, artists and the ruling class, as internal enemies. Hate was their main currency. It sold well.

The evisceration of democratic procedures and institutions, however, preceded the Nazis’ ascension to power in 1933. The Reichstag, the German Parliament, was as dysfunctional as the U.S. Congress. The Socialist leader Friedrich Ebert, president from 1919 until 1925, and later Heinrich Brüning, chancellor from 1930 to 1932, relied on Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution to largely rule by decree to bypass the fractious Parliament. Article 48, which granted the president the right in an emergency to issue decrees, was “a trapdoor through which Germany could fall into dictatorship,” historian Benjamin Carter Hett writes.

Article 48 was the Weimar equivalent of the executive orders liberally used by Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, to bypass our own legislative impasses. As in 1930s Germany, our courts — especially the Supreme Court — have been seized by extremists. The press has bifurcated into antagonistic tribes where lies and truth are indistinguishable, and opposing sides are demonized. There is little dialogue or compromise, the twin pillars of a democratic system.

The two ruling parties slavishly serve the dictates of the war industry, global corporations and the oligarchy, to which it has given huge tax cuts. It has established the most pervasive and intrusive system of government surveillance in human history. It runs the largest prison system in the world. It has militarized the police.

Democrats are as culpable as Republicans. The Obama administration interpreted the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force as giving the executive branch the right to erase due process and act as judge, jury and executioner in assassinating U.S. citizens, starting with radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Two weeks later, a U.S. drone strike killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar’s 16-year-old son, who was never linked to terrorism, along with 9 other teenagers at a cafe in Yemen. It was the Obama administration that signed into law Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, overturning the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military as a domestic police force. It was the Obama administration that bailed out Wall Street and abandoned Wall Street’s victims. It was the Obama administration that repeatedly used the Espionage Act to criminalize those, such as Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, who exposed government lies, crimes and fraud. And it was the Obama administration that massively expanded the use of militarized drones.

The Nazis responded to the February 1933 burning of the Reichstag, which they likely staged, by employing Article 48 to push through the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State. The fascists instantly snuffed out the pretense of Weimar democracy. They legalized imprisonment without trial for anyone considered a national security threat. They abolished independent labor unions, freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of the press, along with the privacy of postal and telephone communications.

The step from dysfunctional democracy to full blown fascism was, and will again be, a small one. The hatred for the ruling class, embodied by the establishment Republican and Democratic parties, which have merged into one ruling party, is nearly universal. The public, battling inflation that is at a 40-year high and cost the average U.S. household an additional $717 a month in July alone, will increasingly see any political figure or political party willing to attack the traditional ruling elites as an ally. The more crude, irrational or vulgar the attack, the more the disenfranchised rejoice. These sentiments are true here and in Europe, where energy costs are expected to rise by as much as 80 percent this winter and an inflation rate of 10 percent is eating away at incomes.

The reconfiguration of society under neoliberalism to exclusively benefit the billionaire class, the slashing and privatization of public services, including schools, hospitals and utilities, along with deindustrialization, the profligate pouring of state funds and resources into the war industry, at the expense of the nation’s infrastructure and social services, and the building of the world’s largest prison system and militarization of police, have predictable results.

At the heart of the problem is a loss of faith in traditional forms of government and democratic solutions. Fascism in the 1930s succeeded, as Peter Drucker observed, not because people believed its conspiracy theories and lies but in spite of the fact that they saw through them. Fascism thrived in the face of “a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course.” He added, “nobody would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite.”

As in the past, these new fascist parties cater to emotional yearnings. They give vent to feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, despair and alienation. They promise unattainable miracles. They too peddle bizarre conspiracy theories including QAnon. But most of all, they promise vengeance against a ruling class that betrayed the nation.

Hett defines the Nazis as “a nationalist protest movement against globalization.” The rise of the new fascism has its roots in a similar exploitation by global corporations and oligarchs. More than anything else, people want to regain control over their lives, if only to punish those blamed and scapegoated for their misery.

We have seen this movie before.

How the US 'gerontocracy' parallels the Soviet Union’s aging leadership: journalist

When Ronald Reagan, at 69, enjoyed a landslide victory over President Jimmy Carter in 1980, he was the oldest person in U.S. history to win a presidential election. And during his presidency, Reagan and members of his administration would joke about how the leaders of the Soviet Union were even older than he was. Reagan once commented, humorously, on how Soviet leaders “kept dying” on him.

Reagan was the United States’ next-to-last Cold War-era president. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and by the time Bill Clinton was sworn in as president in January 1993, Boris Yeltsin was leading a post-Soviet government called the Russian Federation.

In an article published by Business Insider on September 26, journalist John Haltiwanger stresses that in 2022, the U.S. has something in common with the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s: a “gerontocracy” and a lot of aging leadership.

READ MORE: Mikhail Gorbachev has died. Who was he?

“Reagan was right: Soviet leaders had consistently died on the job,” Haltiwanger explains. “Leonid Brezhnev, who led the USSR for 18 years, died at 75 in 1982. He was followed by Yuri Andropov, who died in 1984 at 69. Andropov's successor, Konstantin Chernenko, died in 1985 at 73.”

The journalist continues, “Fast-forward to 2022. The United States' leadership has more parallels with the latter days of the USSR than those leaders might care to admit. President Joe Biden will soon turn 80. His predecessor, Donald Trump, entered office at 70, and six years later, is considered a frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 82. The average age in the Senate is 63, and the average age in the House is 58. Meanwhile, the median age in the U.S. is 38. When it comes to age, Congress is not especially representative of the general population.”

Haltiwanger notes that when the Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, came to power in 1985, he was relatively young by the standards of Soviet Communist Party leadership; Gorbachev, who recently died at 91, was 54 at the time.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, the USSR was largely controlled by old men who were increasingly detached from the public and whose calcified rule left Gorbachev with a mountain of problems that he ultimately failed to overcome,” Haltiwanger recalls. “Gorbachev desperately tried to reform the Soviet system via perestroika and glasnost, vying to pump life into the stagnant economy by introducing elements of free-market capitalism while opening the door to increased freedom of expression and freedom of the press. But the changes could not repair the damage. As Gorbachev put it in his resignation address in December 1991, ‘the old system collapsed before the new one had time to begin working, and the crisis in the society became even more acute.’”

READ MORE: 7 facts that show the American Dream is dead

Interviewed by Business Insider, Yelena Biberman of The Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, pointed out that “mental and physical acuity varies greatly between individuals at old age.” Nonetheless, Biberman said she finds it "very concerning" that the U.S. has "an entire cohort of very old politicians at the highest levels of the federal government."

"There is an aging — and already quite old — cadre of American politicians at the federal level who seem to hold on to office like grim death," Biberman told Business Insider.

According to historian Vladislav Zubok — who grew up in the Soviet Union but is now with the London School of Economics — no single factor led to the Soviet Union’s collapse; it was a variety of things. Nonetheless, Zubok told Business Insider, “It looked like the generation of Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, and all of them — they clung to power. They were afraid to let it go…. When people began to realize, for instance, that Brezhnev couldn't quite speak properly, he quickly became a comical person.”

READ MORE: Mikhail Gorbachev leaves behind a complicated and contentious legacy: analysis

Watch: Remnants of Hurricane Fiona sweep coastal Canadian homes into the sea

At least eight homes were reportedly swept into the sea in southern Newfoundland Saturday after post-Tropical Storm Fiona slammed into eastern Canada with winds racing at nearly 81 miles per hour and the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded for a storm in the country.

After knocking out power in Puerto Rico last week when it hit the U.S. territory as a Category 1 hurricane and intensifying to a Category 4 storm as it approached Bermuda, Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia, where it caused "very extensive damage" at an airport in Sydney and cut off power for more than 415,000 of the province's 500,000 customers.

On Sunday, more than 265,000 households in Nova Scotia were still without power, and the province's electricity company warned the outages would persist "for multiple days."

Fiona has been blamed for at least five deaths in the Caribbean; in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, one woman has been listed as missing after her home was "struck by a devastating wave," and authorities were investigating whether "she went out with the water," Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesperson Jolene Garland told The Washington Post late Saturday.

Another woman in the area was being treated for injuries after being rescued.

Port aux Basques was also where a number of structures were seen floating out to sea as the storm battered the town.

"I'm seeing homes in the ocean," René J. Roy, a resident of the town and editor of the local news outlet Wreckhouse Press, told the Associated Press. "I'm seeing rubble floating all over the place. It's complete and utter destruction... It's quite terrifying."

Residents posted videos of the destruction on social media.

Rescue workers in Port aux Basques were also battling electrical fires after the storm subsided.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mayor Mike Savage said the roof of an apartment building had collapsed and officials had evacuated 100 people to an emergency center.

The historically low-pressure storm—the kind associated with strong winds and heavy rainfall—offered the latest sign that the human-caused climate emergency is fueling extreme weather, said 350.org co-founder and author Bill McKibben.

At The Conversation, civil engineering professor Ryan P. Mulligan of Queen's University in Ontario noted that the storm caused waves to reach more than 32 feet high on the Scotian Shelf off Nova Scotia, adding that "hurricanes with the size and strength of Fiona do not usually maintain their high wind speeds this far north."

"How did Fiona get into Canadian water with such size and intensity? This is related to its heat source: the ocean," wrote Mulligan. "Ocean warming may be linked to the increasing intensity of storms making landfall and to the development of strong hurricanes."

"So climate change leads to warmer ocean water at higher latitudes," he added. "A warmer future increases the probability that more intense storms will reach Canadian coasts."

As climate scientists have warned, stronger hurricanes and tropical storms "what we continue seeing as a result of decades of climate damage," said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.

Russia faces 'catastrophic consequences' if it uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine: national security advisor

United States National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will face "catastrophic consequences" if he follows through with this threat of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine once Russia's anticipated annexation of Eastern Ukrainian territories is completed this week.

The conversation took place shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed to correspondent Margaret Brennan that Putin's warnings should be taken seriously.

“We have communicated directly, privately and at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia, that the US and our allies will respond decisively, and we have been clear and specific about what that will entail,” Sullivan explained to Brennan.

READ MORE: 'I don't think he's bluffing': Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes Vladimir Putin's nuclear threat is real

"We have, in public, been equally clear, as a matter of principle, that the United States will respond decisively if Russia uses nuclear weapons and that we will continue to support Ukraine in its efforts to defend its country and defend its democracy," Sullivan added.

Sullivan also reflected upon the ongoing crisis at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, where shelling has damaged parts of Europe's largest fission station. Officials in Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged blame for the bombardments, which have forced a shutdown to avert a potential radioactive disaster that could dwarf the 1986 catastrophe at Chernobyl.

"It is actually still being operated by the Ukrainian operators who are essentially at gunpoint from the Russian occupying forces. And the Russians have been consistently implying that there may be some kind of accident at this plant," Sullivan explained.

"We've been working with the International Atomic Energy Agency and with Ukrainian energy regulators to try to make sure that there is no threat posed by a meltdown or something else from the plant. We will continue to do that," Sullivan stressed, "but it's something we all have to keep a close eye on."

READ MORE: Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant shuts down its last reactor amid mounting meltdown fears

'I don't think he's bluffing': Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes Vladimir Putin's nuclear threat is real

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's latest warning that he could resort to using nuclear weapons is a threat that the world should take seriously.

Saturday marked the seven-month anniversary of Putin's "special military operation."

Putin said in a rare televised address on Wednesday that "in the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff. The citizens of Russia can rest assured that the territorial integrity of our Motherland, our independence and freedom will be defended — I repeat — by all the systems available to us."

READ MORE: 'This is so crazy': Vladimir Putin is running out of options in Ukraine. Experts are split on what it means

On Friday, Russia began holding what it called "referenda" to join Russia in territories in Eastern Ukraine that it once controlled before the Ukrainian counteroffensives managed to reclaim portions of them in recent weeks. Putin also announced that he is implementing a draft of hundreds of thousands of reservists, which has triggered mass protests throughout Russia.

Zelenskyy, along with the Western alliance providing materiel support, believes that the referenda are "shams" that Putin intends to exploit as a justification for escalating his failing personal conquest. Once they are declared completed, according to Zelenskyy, the referenda would provide Putin cover for possibly deploying nuclear weapons, since Putin would insist that those areas are now part of Russia. Consequently, Zelenskyy foresees this scenario as a death knell for further diplomacy.

"They're forcing people to fight, people from the temporarily occupied territories. A lot of people will be forced to do this. However, it's a very low percentage of people: even among those who are forced to show up to vote to this sham referendum, we see that there is no support in the society for this referendum. However, I see other threats when they complete, if they succeed with these referenda. The ballots have been- had been already prepared. The Russia of – the Russian government can officially announce that the referendum had been completed, and the results will be announced," Zelenskyy said. "This would make it impossible, in any case, to continue any diplomatic negotiations with the President of Russian Federation, and he knows it very well. I have spoken about it publicly. I think it's a very dangerous signal from President Putin that tells us that Putin is not going to finish this war. That is what's going on."

READ MORE: 'You definitely have to choose sides': Volodymyr Zelenskyy presses West as Ukraine fends off Russia

Correspondent Margaret Brennan asked Zelenskyy if Putin is "using this as an excuse to say that it is being attacked, because the West is providing Ukraine with weapons if it is seizing Eastern Ukraine to annex it?"

Zelenskyy explained that it is.

"Yes, that's exactly so. That is correct. Look, he knows. He feels it, and his military leadership reports to him. He knows that he's losing the war. In the battlefield, Ukraine has seized the initiative. He cannot explain to his society why, and he is looking for answers to these questions. His society does not understand what kind of second army in the world it is that is not capable to win and to defeat Ukraine," he said.

Brennan noted that "Vladimir Putin continues to dangle the threat of nuclear weapons use. You've called this nuclear blackmail," asking, "do you think he's bluffing right now?"

"Maybe yesterday it was a bluff. Now, it could be a reality," Zelenskyy replied. "He wants to scare the whole world. These are the first steps of his nuclear blackmail. I don't think he's bluffing. I think the world is deterring it and containing this threat. We need to keep putting pressure on him and not allow him to continue."

READ MORE: Donald Trump’s right-wing nationalist project': Why a GOP-led Congress would be terrible for Ukraine

    Connecting the dots between climate devastation and fossil fuel profits

    As Pakistan drowns, as Puerto Rico is cast into darkness, and as Jacksonians remain thirsty, it’s past time for a climate tax on fossil fuel companies.

    What do Pakistan, Puerto Rico, and Jackson, Mississippi, have in common? They’ve all recently experienced climate-related catastrophic rains and flooding, resulting in the loss of homes, electricity, and running water. But, even more importantly, they are all low-income regions inhabited by people of color—the prime victims of climate injustice. They face inaction from negligent governments and struggle to survive as fossil fuel companies reap massive profits—a status quo that United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called a “moral and economic madness.”

    This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

    Pakistan, which relies on yearly monsoons to enrich its agricultural industry, has had unprecedented floods since June, impacting 30 million people and killing more than 1,500—a third of them children.

    Zulfiqar Kunbhar, a Karachi-based journalist with expertise in climate coverage, explains that “things are very critical” in the rain-affected areas of his nation. Kunbhar has been visiting impacted regions and has seen firsthand the massive “agricultural loss and livelihood loss” among Pakistan’s farming communities.

    Sindh, a low-lying province of Pakistan, is not only one of the most populous in the nation (Sindh is home to about 47 million people), but it also produces about a third of the agricultural produce, according to Kunbhar. Twenty years ago, Sindh was stricken with extreme drought. In the summer of 2022, it was drowning in chest-deep water.

    The UN is warning that the water could take months to recede and that this poses serious health risks, as deadly diseases like cerebral malaria are emerging. Kunbhar summarizes that provinces like Sindh are facing both “the curse of nature” and government “mismanagement.”

    Climate change plus government inaction on mitigation and resilience equals deadly consequences for the poor. This same equation plagues Puerto Rico, long relegated to the status of a United States territory. In September 2022, on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and killed nearly 3,000 people, another storm named Fiona knocked out power for the entire region.

    Julio López Varona, chief of campaigns at Center for Popular Democracy Action, spoke to me from Puerto Rico, saying, “the storm was extremely slow, going at like 8 or 9 miles an hour,” and as a result, “it pounded the island for more than three days” with relentless rain. “Communities were completely flooded; people have been displaced,” he says. Eventually, the electrical grid completely failed.

    Days after the storm passed, millions of people remained without power—some even lost running water—leading the White House to declare a major disaster in Puerto Rico.

    Even on the U.S. mainland, it is poor communities of color who have been hit the hardest by the impacts of climate change. Mississippi’s capital of Jackson, with an 82 percent Black population and growing numbers of Latin American immigrants, struggles with adequate resources and has had problems with its water infrastructure for years.

    Lorena Quiroz, founder of the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity, a Jackson-based group doing multiracial grassroots organizing, told me how the city’s residents have been struggling without clean running water since major rains and resulting floods overwhelmed a water treatment plant this summer.

    “It’s a matter of decades of disinvestment in this mostly Black, and now Brown, community,” says Quiroz. In a state run by white conservatives, Jackson is overseen by a Black progressive mayor, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who is now suing the state government over inaction on the city’s water infrastructure.

    Quiroz says it’s “painful to see how government is not doing what they should, how the state government is neglecting its most vulnerable populations.”

    Over and over, the same pattern has emerged on a planet experiencing catastrophic climate change. Setting aside the fact that we are still spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as the world burns and floods, the impacts of a warming climate are disproportionately borne by poor communities of color as evidenced in Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Jackson, and elsewhere.

    The UN head, Guterres is doing what he can in using his position to lay blame precisely on the culprits, saying in his opening remarks to the UN General Assembly in New York recently, “It is high time to put fossil fuel producers, investors, and enablers on notice. Polluters must pay.” Guterres specifically touted the importance of taxing fossil fuel companies to cover the damage they are causing in places like Pakistan. According to the Associated Press, “Oil companies in July reported unprecedented profits of billions of dollars per month. ExxonMobil posted three months profits of $17.85 billion, Chevron of $11.62 billion, and Shell of $11.5 billion.”

    Contrast this windfall with the countless numbers of people who lost their homes in Pakistan and are now living in shanties on roads where they have found some higher ground from the floods. “If you lose a crop, that’s seasonal damage, but if you lose a house, you have to pay for years to come,” says Kunbhar.

    Kunbhar’s view of what is happening in Pakistan applies equally to Puerto Rico and Jackson: Society is “divided between the haves and have-nots,” he says. “The poorest of the poor who are already facing an economic crisis from generation to generation, they are the most vulnerable and the [worst] victims of this crisis.”

    In Puerto Rico, Varona sees displaced communities losing their lands to wealthier communities. He says that the local government in Puerto Rico is “allowing millionaires and billionaires to come and pay no taxes and to actually take over many of the places that are safer for communities to be on.” This is an “almost intentional displacement of communities… that have historically lived here,” he says.

    And in Jackson, Quiroz says she is aghast at the “mean-spiritedness” of Mississippi’s wealthier enclaves and state government. “It is so difficult to comprehend the way that our people are being treated.”

    Although disparate and seemingly disconnected from one another, with many complicating factors, there are stark lines connecting climate victims to fossil fuel profits.

    Pakistan’s poor communities are paying the price for ExxonMobil’s billions.

    Puerto Rico remains in the dark so that Chevron may enjoy massive profits.

    Jackson, Mississippi, has no clean drinking water so that Shell can enrich its shareholders.

    When put in such terms, Guterres’s idea for taxing the perpetrators of climate devastation is a no-brainer. It’s “high time,” he said, “to put fossil fuel producers, investors and enablers on notice,” so that we can end our “suicidal war against nature.”

    Author Bio: Sonali Kolhatkar is an award-winning multimedia journalist. She is the founder, host, and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a weekly television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. Her forthcoming book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights Books, 2023). She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute and the racial justice and civil liberties editor at Yes! Magazine. She serves as the co-director of the nonprofit solidarity organization the Afghan Women’s Mission and is a co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan. She also sits on the board of directors of Justice Action Center, an immigrant rights organization.

    Understanding Libya’s relentless destabilization

    Libya’s competing domestic actors are being exploited by foreign powers seeking to downplay their role in the fragile country.

    After leading a military coup in 1969, Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi cemented his rule over Libya for more than 40 years. A variety of different political ideologies—Pan-Arabism, Pan-Africanism, socialism, Islamic leftism, and others—characterized his leadership, which were further reinforced by a cult of personality. While living standards for Libyans increased under his rule, Gaddafi attracted resentment among some non-Arab populations, Islamic extremists, and other political opponents.

    This article was produced by Globetrotter.

    As the Arab Spring spread outward from neighboring Tunisia into Libya in February 2011, protestors and militant groups seized parts of the country. Loyalist armed forces retook control of much of what they had lost over the next few weeks after the outbreak of the protests, but Gaddafi’s historical antagonism toward Western governments saw them seize the opportunity to impose a no-fly zone and bombing campaign against Libyan forces in March 2011.

    Alongside assistance from regional Middle Eastern allies, the NATO-led intervention was successful in helping local militant groups topple Gaddafi, who was later captured and executed in October 2011. Soon after his death, questions were immediately raised about how Libya could be politically restructured and avoid becoming a failed state. After militant groups refused to disarm, they along with their allies began to contest territory and control over Libya’s fragile new national institutions.

    The National Transitional Council (NTC) was established to coordinate rebel groups against Gaddafi, and naturally inherited much of the Libyan government after the war. But a number of countries did not recognize its authority, and after handing power over to the General National Congress (GNC) in 2012, Libya’s weak central government steadily lost political control over its enormous territory to competing groups.

    Libya’s population of almost 7 million people lives in a highly urbanized society that has led to the development of strong regional identities among those living in its northern coastal cities. There has also historically been an east-west divide between the two coastal provinces of Cyrenaica in the east and Tripolitania in the west.

    A large Turkish and part-Turkish minority also live throughout Libya’s major cities, particularly in the city of Misrata. Most of them have descended from the Ottoman troops who married local women during Ottoman rule from 1551-1912, and though not a strictly homogenous group, the majority revolted against Gaddafi as nationwide protests began in Libya.

    The historical lack of central authority in Libya’s more rural south resulted in widespread autonomy for the Tuareg tribe in the southwest and the Tubu tribe in the southeast. While the Tuaregs largely supported Gaddafi, the Tubu joined the revolutionaries, sparking increased tension between these two tribes to gain control over the city of Ubari, local smuggling routes, and energy infrastructure.

    Alongside ethnic and cultural disputes, Libya was further destabilized by radical Islamists after the fall of Gaddafi. Mass unemployment among Libya’s relatively young population fueled recruitment for ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia. Having gained battlefield experience and with limited economic prospects, many militants in Libya had little incentive to return to civilian life, while the influx of foreign jihadists also kept the violence ongoing.

    Rivalries between these numerous factions helped lead to the outbreak of the second Libyan civil war in 2014. The UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) was signed in December 2015 to create a Presidential Council (PC) for appointing a unity government in Tripoli but failed to curtail growing violence between local actors.

    Two major entities came to dominate the country. The Government of National Accord (GNA), which was presided over by the PC, was recognized in March 2016 to lead Libya, with Fayez Serraj as the Libyan prime minister. This move partly incorporated elements of Libya’s political Islamic factions.

    The Libyan House of Representatives (HoR), meanwhile, refused to endorse the GNA, and relocated to Tobruk in Cyrenaica after political pressure and Islamist militias forced it out of Tripoli in 2014. The HoR is led by former General Khalifa Haftar, who commands the Libyan National Army (LNA).

    The GNA retained official recognition by the UN as well as Libya’s most important economic institutions, including the Central Bank of Libya (CBL). But both the GNA and the HoR continued to fight for influence over the National Oil Corporation (NOC), while many other national institutions were forced to work with both factions.

    Military force has also been integral to enforcing rival claims to Libya’s leadership. In 2017, Haftar’s forces seized Benghazi, consolidating power across much of the east and center of the country. But his attempt to take Tripoli in 2019-2020 was repelled by GNA and allied forces, prompting an HoR retreat on several fronts. A ceasefire between the GNA and the rival administration of the LNA declared an end to the war in October 2020, but tensions and violence persisted.

    Libya’s civil conflict has also been inflamed by outside powers. Turkey opposed the original NATO-led intervention in 2011 but supported Libyan Turks, some of whom founded the Libya Koroglu Association in 2015, to coordinate with Turkey. Ankara has also supported the GNA with arms, money, and diplomatic support for years, and Turkish forces and military technology were integral to repelling Haftar’s assault on Tripoli.

    Turkey’s business interests in Libya and desire to increase its power in the Mediterranean remain Ankara’s core initiatives, and in June it voted to extend the mandate for military deployment in Libya for another 18 months. Both Turkey and Qatar, which has also been a strong backer of the GNA, are close with the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and associated political circles in Libya, to attempt to promote a brand of political Islam that rivals Saudi-led initiatives.

    With few core interests in Libya, the U.S. has shown tacit support for intervening again in a conflict it had allegedly won, but from 2015 to 2019, U.S. airstrikes and military support helped the GNA push ISIS out of many Libyan cities. Yet, Washington has remained wary of being associated with the Libyan conflict and with Islamists allied with the GNA, and the U.S. harbored and provided support to Haftar for decades to pressure Gaddafi before the civil war.

    Egypt has been one of the HoR’s most crucial allies, providing weapons, military support, and safe haven through Libya’s eastern border. Besides protecting Libya’s Egyptian population, Egypt’s military-led government is also seeking to suppress political Islam in the region after Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood briefly ruled Egypt from 2011 to 2013 following Egypt’s own revolution. In 2020, Cairo approved its own intervention in Libya.

    Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have similar interests in suppressing rival political Islamic forces in the region and have provided funding and weaponry to Haftar. Doing so has brought them closer to Russia, which has also supported Haftar with substantial military assistance. This includes warplanes piloted by the Russian private military company Wagner, which is suspected to be partially bankrolled in Libya by the UAE.

    Libya’s destabilization complements the Kremlin’s attempts to influence Europe. Haftar’s forces and supporters managed to block Libyan oil exports in 2020 and again earlier this year, threatening continental supply and increasing Russia’s leverage. Additionally, instability in the region and porous borders encourage migrant flows to Europe, often increasing the popularity of right-wing political parties which have grown closer to Russia over the last two decades.

    The HoR has also found less direct aid from France. Officially, Paris has supported UN negotiations and the GNA and has sought to minimize perceptions of its involvement in the conflict. But the death of three undercover French soldiers in Libya in 2016 showed that Paris remained deeply involved in the country’s civil war, and it has sold billions in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to help Haftar. This is part of France’s efforts to suppress Islamist groups in Africa, where France retains considerable interests.

    France’s position has brought criticism from Western allies. In 2019, Paris blocked an EU statement calling on Haftar to stop his offensive on Tripoli, while its support for Haftar has severely undermined its relationship with Italy, which has seen its economic influence in Libya decline.

    Since the conclusion of the second Libyan civil war in 2020, steps have been taken to unify the country. A Government of National Unity was established in 2021 to consolidate Libya’s political forces, and the new Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh reached an agreement with Haftar in July 2022 to enforce a ceasefire.

    But based on the current dynamics of limited intervention, there is relatively little risk and high rewards for foreign powers to continue destabilizing Libya. Turkey and Russia are also using the conflict to add to their leverage over one another in Syria. With repeated delays in holding elections in Libya and rival local and foreign actors seeking to dominate the country, Libyan citizens risk continuing to be used instead of being helped to ensure a stable and secure future for their country.

    Author Bio: John P. Ruehl is an Australian-American journalist living in Washington, D.C. He is a contributing editor to Strategic Policy and a contributor to several other foreign affairs publications. He is currently finishing a book on Russia to be published in 2022.

    'This is so crazy': Vladimir Putin is running out of options in Ukraine. Experts are split on what it means

    Russian President Vladimir Putin's February 24th invasion of Ukraine is an undeniable disaster for the 69-year-old former spy.

    Seven months in, tens of thousands of his soldiers have been captured or killed. Combat equipment that has not been destroyed or disabled has been commandeered by the Western-backed Ukrainian resistance led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose latest counteroffensive campaigns have stalled Putin's fighters and either liberated or recaptured Eastern territories that were previously illegally occupied by Russia. Numerous accusations of war crimes and genocide have emerged, and economic sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, and other nations have choked the Russian petrostate economy.

    Worse still for Putin, his propagandists on state television who spew out Kremlin-approved daily disinformation, demand that Ukraine be wiped off the map, and threaten to unleash atomic Armageddon have begun to sour on his conquest. Putin's political opposition has even started advocating for him to retreat from Ukraine or abdicate the presidency, despite the enormous potential perils that shadow open defiance.

    READ MORE: CIA Director William Burns defends declassifying intelligence on Russia's invasion of Ukraine: report

    Growing public dissent and disapproval of Putin's unprovoked war has led to media blackouts, mass arrests of protesters, and citizens skedaddling out of Russia to avoid becoming cannon fodder for "Uncle Vova."

    A graphic shared by CNN shows a torrent of planes departing Moscow, underscoring the exodus from the eleven-time-zone ex-empire.

    Witness statements to The Guardian likewise showcase the desperate disillusionment that is spreading following Putin's recent announcement that he is conscripting 300,000 men.

    "Options to flee are limited. Earlier this week, four of the five EU countries bordering Russia announced they would no longer allow Russians to enter on tourist visas," The Guardian explained, noting that "direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Yerevan, Tashkent and Baku, the capitals of countries allowing Russians visa-free entry, were sold out for the next week, while the cheapest one-way flight from Moscow to Dubai cost about 370,000 rubles (£5,000) – a fee too steep for most."

    READ MORE: Why Ukraine’s victories are a humiliation for 'MAGA tough guys': Paul Krugman

    One reservist named Oleg, who risks imprisonment for desertion, revealed to the publication that he "will be driving across the border tonight" and that he has "no idea when I’ll step foot in Russia again."

    According to his conversation with The Guardian, Oleg leaves behind a pregnant wife whose due date is soon approaching.

    "I will miss the most important day of my life," he said. "But I am simply not letting Putin turn me into a killer in a war that I want no part in.”

    Moreover, The Guardian pointed out that "the ambiguity of Putin’s mobilization law" crushes "previous broken promises that he would not call for one" and that the Russian people now realize that "Putin lied."

    READ MORE: How Vladimir Putin's spies in Ukraine blew it for him in Ukraine: report

    Meanwhile, Putin's escalation will take months to implement, and he has reverted to nuclear saber-rattling to dissuade the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from continuing its material support of Ukraine.

    Putin said in a Wednesday address:

    I would like to remind those who make such statements regarding Russia that our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have. In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.

    The citizens of Russia can rest assured that the territorial integrity of our Motherland, our independence and freedom will be defended — I repeat — by all the systems available to us.

    Those who are using nuclear blackmail against us should know that the wind rose can turn around.

    Zelenskyy and the West, however, have flatly rejected Putin's bluster.

    “I don’t believe that he will use these weapons. I don’t think the world will allow him to use these weapons,” Zelenskyy stated to Germany's Bild.

    READ MORE: 'Unacceptable and reckless': Putin puts Russian nuclear forces on 'special alert'

    President Joe Biden condemned Putin and his oratory at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City – where Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council – blasting Putin's radioactive rhetoric as "reckless" and "an extremely significant violation” of the UN's charter. Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Biden, declaring that Putin's “reckless nuclear threats must stop immediately.”

    Similarly, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Putin is "flailing and failing," while British Prime Minister Liz Truss pledged that the multinational alliance "will not rest until Ukraine prevails."

    Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder too said:

    In terms of the statements or the announcements coming out of Russia, it does not affect the commitment to continue working closely with our international partners and our allies on providing Ukraine with the support that it needs in their fight to defend their country.

    Although experts are cautioning that a cornered Putin is extremely dangerous, the odds of Putin resorting to nukes – or an outbreak of global thermonuclear war, for that matter – are generally considered slim.

    READ MORE: NATO response to Russian nuclear attack must 'dwarf any seen in its entire history': arms control experts

    Andrey Baklitskiy, a United Nations Institute for Disarmament researcher and expert on weapons of mass destruction, addressed the issue in an interview published on Thursday with Vox correspondent Jen Kirby.

    Kirby wrote:

    Russian-backed officials in four Ukrainian regions partially occupied by Russian troops will soon hold referenda on formally joining Russia. Western countries backing Ukraine have already said they won’t recognize these sham votes. The Russian army also does not have full control over any of these territories — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson — but Moscow will almost certainly use these referenda as a pretext for formally annexing the territories.

    Baklitskiy believes that when the referenda are completed next Tuesday, Putin could decree that those areas are part of Russia and that attacks by NATO-armed Ukraine justify shattering the 77-year tactical taboo.

    “Nuclear weapons have almost this mystical status; once they’re used, that’s the end of the world,” he said, emphasizing that "it doesn’t change any political calculus on the ground." Baklitskiy then contemplated:

    What then? How much have you lost in that moment?

    All of a sudden, you’re not one of the countries who have this power to destroy worlds, and everybody has to bend before you.

    You’re just a country which has big bombs which can explode.

    We only had nuclear use twice in 1945, against a country which didn’t have nuclear weapons, by the way. But it’s a tricky question.

    Every time you consider using nuclear weapons, you have to also consider the response from the country which you attacked.

    READ MORE: POTUS urged to adopt 'no-first-use nuclear policy'

    He recalled:

    In the tabletop exercises, Russia used its tactical nuclear weapons against a NATO installation. So I think it was the Principals Committee who had to come up with a response: NATO was attacked with nuclear weapons, what do you do? But if you attack mainland Russia, Russia would probably respond in kind. In that scenario, they decided to nuke Belarus, even though Belarus had nothing to do with this. But you had to send a message, and you also didn’t want to escalate it where there would be a full-out nuclear exchange.

    When you think of nuclear employment, especially if you’re doing it first, and especially if you don’t plan an all-out [attack], you probably don’t want to use it against someone who can retaliate.

    I don’t even know that you would want to use it against populated areas. I mean, this is all like crazy, right?

    Critically, Baklitskiy argued:

    Use of nuclear weapons under pretty much any conditions, I would say, would be a political decision. It wouldn’t be a military decision to achieve specific military goals. You want to make a point with them.

    In that sense, you might not even want to kill anybody, you might just want to have a demonstration, you might want to detonate them over uninhabited territory, just to show your resolve and then make your demands. In that sense, starting any nuclear exchange with nuclear weapon states, I don’t think that’s the first thing which would come to mind to anybody planning that.

    Baklitskiy is therefore unconvinced that Putin would actually follow through with a nuclear strike. The price, he opined, is too high.

    "I feel bad every time people start talking about nuclear weapons in any way, close to anything about actual use. For a person who studies them and who’s seen the videos of tests and read about the effects — this is so crazy, this is so irrational," he reflected. "Any talk about use which goes opposite the direction of putting them in the closet and locking them up and trying to get rid of them — any hint, any thought about using them is bad. And I still don’t think we are very close to any of this."

    READ MORE: Why life after nuclear war – even a limited one – would suck

    Given the circumstances, Baklitsky's optimism is not shared by everybody.

    During his address at the UN, Blinken offered a sobering synopsis of the existential dangers facing Ukraine.

    “Putin said that Russia would not hesitate to use and I quote, ‘all weapons systems available’ in response to a threat to his territorial integrity — a threat that is all the more menacing given Russians’ intention to annex large swaths of Ukraine in the days ahead,” Blinken said. “When that’s complete, we can expect President Putin will claim any Ukrainian effort to liberate this land as an attack on so-called Russian territory.”

    On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that the Biden Administration has been "sending private communications to Moscow informing Russia’s leadership of the grave consequences that would follow the use of a nuclear weapon" and that those missives mirror the messaging that "Biden and his aides have articulated publicly."

    Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the Post that “what everyone needs to recognize is that this is one of, if not the most, severe episodes in which nuclear weapons might be used in decades," warning that "the consequences of even a so-called ‘limited nuclear war’ would be absolutely catastrophic.”

    Vadym Skibitskyi, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence agreed and added that the possibility of Russia nuking Ukraine is not out of the question and that such an extreme action would affect vast portions of the European continent beyond Ukraine's borders.

    “This is a threat for other countries,” Skibitskyi said on the United Kingdom's ITV News, per the Post's report. “The blast of a tactical nuclear weapon will have an impact not only in Ukraine but the Black Sea region.”

    In any event, nobody knows how long Putin's war will last or what will ultimately usher in an end to the bloody conflict. But there are people working diligently to ensure that Putin heeds Biden's urging from Sunday's edition of 60 Minutes regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

    “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t," Biden replied to a hypothetical scenario. "You will change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.”

    Lauren Boebert 'can go to Iran' if she wants religion directing the government: GOP strategist Rick Wilson

    On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," Lincoln Project co-founder and longtime Republican strategist turned Trump opponent Rick Wilson tore into Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) for promoting an extreme version of Christian nationalism that demands the federal government be subordinate to the church.

    His remarks came in the middle of a discussion about a new Lincoln Project ad slamming Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano for his close ties to Gab, a far-right social media platform that has become a nexus of anti-Semitic hatred.

    "The thing that bothers me about right Christian nationalism, which they're proud to call themselves, is I mean, this country was founded on the Establishment Clause, the First Amendment clause," said former TIME Magazine editor Rick Stengel. "'Make no law respecting an establishment of religion.' That was a radical notion in the 18th century. Who was it made by? White, Christian men rebelling against an establishing religion, trying to get with the Church of England. This is going back and back, and it's a terrible thing for our country when we should be modernizing and being more progressive and accepting the diversity of the country."

    "This is not just on the web sites. This is what elected Republicans say out loud," said anchor Nicolle Wallace, playing several clips of Republicans openly embracing Christian nationalism, including Boebert saying, "The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church."

    "She wants to go to Iran, she can. Because that's Iran. She's describing Iran," said Wilson. "They decided there is a little cultural bubble that is separate from the rest of America, that divorces itself from all the values in the founding of this country."

    "I wouldn't let them represent a Waffle House," Wilson added. "These are not smart people. But they're persuasive in the group that they — the folks that Tucker [Carlson] spoon-feeds, the sewage pipe he feeds them from, they love it. They think it's chocolate pudding. And they have now decided they're going to separate their culture from the rest of America. It's dangerous to this country. politically and culturally. And it calls into question our survival, frankly."

    Watch below or at this link:

    Rick Wilson says Lauren Boebert can "go to Iran" youtu.be

    State and Treasury Departments sanction Iran’s Morality Police over 'systemic persecution of women'

    In the United States, the term “Morality Police” is used as a slang expression to attack social conservatives and Christian fundamentalists who believe that their views on abortion, contraception or sex education should be the law of the land. But in Iran, there really is a religious police force whose name in the Farsi language translates to Morality Police — and they go about enforcing laws based on a severe, far-right, fundamentalist interpretation of Shi’ite (or Shia) Islam.

    Recently in Tehran, a 22-year-old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini died while in the custody of Iran’s Morality Police. And on Thursday, September 22, two government agencies in the United States — the State Department and the Treasury Department — announced sanctions against the Morality Police and other Iranian security officials.

    According to Politico reporter Kelly Garrity, Amini “died while being held by authorities for allegedly violating the country’s strictly enforced dress code for women.”

    READ MORE: Author Salman Rushdie attacked and stabbed before lecture in New York: report

    “Amini, whose death has sparked protests across Iran, was arrested September 13 for purportedly wearing a hijab too loosely,” Garrity explains in an article published on September 22. “Iranian officials claim Amini’s death at Kasra Hospital in northern Tehran three days after her arrest was the result of a heart attack, but hospital officials reported that Amini arrived with severe brain trauma caused by ‘multiple blows to the head.’”

    Garrity adds, “In addition to the Morality Police, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanctions in a press release on seven senior leaders from a number of Iran’s security organizations, including the country’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Army’s Ground Forces, Basij Resistance Forces and Law Enforcement Forces, accusing them of ‘abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors.’”

    Democrat Janet Yellen, secretary of the Treasury Department under President Joe Biden and former chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, spoke publicly about the sanctions and Amini’s death.

    Yellen, in an official statement, said, “Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people. We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.”

    READ MORE: Justice Department charges Iranian national connected to alleged John Bolton assassination plot

    Iran, formerly Persia, didn’t always have an Islamic fundamentalist government or a law enforcement agency called the Morality Police. Under the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi during the 1950s and 1960s, Iran was known for a moderate, non-fundamentalist version of Islam and went out of its way to be friendly with the West — not unlike Turkey during that time. Although Pahlavi was a Muslim, he favored a secular form of government. But when a revolution occurred in 1979 and the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power, Iran abandoned secularism and adopted a repressive Shi’ite version of strict Sharia law.

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken called out the Morality Police in a September 19 post on Twitter. Blinken wrote, “Mahsa Amini should be alive today. Instead, the United States and the Iranian people mourn her. We call on the Iranian government to end its systemic persecution of women and to allow peaceful protest.”

    READ MORE: Ilhan Omar calls out Christian nationalist privilege in an epic tweet

    War on the Earth: The nightmare of military spending on an overheating planet

    Stan Cox, A War on the Earth?

    In so many ways, you still wouldn’t know it — not, that is, if you focused on the Pentagon budget or the economic growth paradigm that rules this country and our world — but this planet is in a crisis of a sort humanity has never before faced. Whether you’re considering heat in the American West, floods in Pakistan, the drying up of the Yangtze River in China, record drought in Europe, or the unparalleled warming of the Arctic, we are, as scientists have been pointing out (and ever more of us ordinary people have noted), in an increasingly “uncharted territory of destruction.” In the process, ever more climate “tipping points” stand in danger of being passed as the overheating of this planet becomes the stuff of everyday life.

    And sadly, despite all that, Vladimir Putin’s Russia brutally invaded Ukraine, ensuring the release of yet more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as, among other things, various European countries were forced to turn to greater coal use. Meanwhile, the U.S. and China, the two largest greenhouse gas emitters, are now heading into what’s being called, without the slightest sense of irony, a “new cold war.” In the process, responding to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan, China recently suspended planned climate talks between the two countries.

    Today, TomDispatch regular Stan Cox, author of The Green New Deal and Beyond: Ending the Climate Emergency While We Still Can, explores just what it means, in climate terms, for the U.S., no matter the administration, to pour ever more taxpayer dollars into the Pentagon and the rest of the national security state. Yes, it’s long been commonplace to claim that war is hell (and if you don’t believe that, just check out the nightmare in Ukraine right now). One thing should be ever clearer: sadly enough, that way of life is now all too literally the path to hell. Let Cox explain. Tom

    The Nightmare of Military Spending on an Overheating Planet – A Big Carbon Bootprint and a Giant Sucking Sound in the National Budget

    On October 1st, the U.S. military will start spending the more than $800 billion Congress is going to provide it with in fiscal year 2023. And that whopping sum will just be the beginning. According to the calculations of Pentagon expert William Hartung, funding for various intelligence agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, and work on nuclear weaponry at the Energy Department will add another $600 billion to what you, the American taxpayer, will be spending on national security.

    That $1.4 trillion for a single year dwarfs Congress’s one-time provision of approximately $300 billion under the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for what’s called “climate mitigation and adaptation.” And mind you, that sum is to be spent over a number of years. In contrast to the IRA, which was largely a climate bill (even if hardly the best version of one), this country’s military spending bills are distinctly anti-human, anti-climate, and anti-Earth. And count on this: Congress’s military appropriations will, in all too many ways, cancel out the benefits of its new climate spending.

    Here are just the three most obvious ways our military is an enemy of climate mitigation. First, it produces huge quantities of greenhouse gases, while wreaking other kinds of ecological havoc. Second, when the Pentagon does take climate change seriously, its attention is almost never focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but on preparing militarily for a climate-changed world, including the coming crisis of migration and future climate-induced armed conflicts globally. And third, our war machine wastes hundreds of billions of dollars annually that should instead be spent on climate mitigation, along with other urgent climate-related needs.

    The Pentagon’s Carbon Bootprint

    The U.S. military is this globe’s largest institutional consumer of petroleum fuels. As a result, it produces greenhouse gas emissions equal to about 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Were the Pentagon a country, those figures would place it just below Ireland and Finland in a ranking of national carbon emissions. Or put another way, our military surpasses the total national emissions of Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia combined.

    A lot of those greenhouse gases flow from the construction, maintenance, and use of its 800 military bases and other facilities on 27 million acres across the United States and the world. The biggest source of emissions from actual military operations is undoubtedly the burning of jet fuel. A B-2 bomber, for instance, emits almost two tons of carbon dioxide when flying a mere 50 miles, while the Pentagon’s biggest boondoggle, the astronomically costly F-35 combat aircraft, will emit “only” one ton for every 50 miles it flies.

    Those figures come from “Military- and Conflict-Related Emissions,” a June 2022 report by the Perspectives Climate Group in Germany. In it, the authors express regret for the optimism they had exhibited two decades earlier when it came to the reduction of global military greenhouse gas emissions and the role of the military in experimenting with new, clean forms of energy:

    In the process of us writing this report and looking at our article written 20 years ago, the initial notion of assessing military activities… as potential ‘engines of progress’ for novel renewable technologies was shattered by the Iraq War, followed by the horror of yet another large-scale ground war, this time in Europe… All our attention should be directed towards achieving the 1.5° target [of global temperature rise beyond the preindustrial level set at the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015]. If we fail in this endeavor, the repercussions will be more deadly than all conflicts we have witnessed in the last decades.

    In March, the Defense Department announced that its proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 would include a measly $3.1 billion for “addressing the climate crisis.” That amounts to less than 0.4% of the department’s total spending and, as it happens, two-thirds of that little sliver of funding will go not to climate mitigation itself but to protecting military facilities and activities against the future impact of climate change. Worse yet, only a tiny portion of the remainder would go toward reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions or other environmental damage the armed forces itself will produce.

    In a 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan, the Pentagon claimed, however vaguely, that it was aiming for a future in which it could “operate under changing climate conditions, preserving operational capability, and enhancing the natural and manmade systems essential to the Department’s success.” It projected that “in worst-case scenarios, climate-change-related impacts could stress economic and social conditions that contribute to mass migration events or political crises, civil unrest, shifts in the regional balance of power, or even state failure. This may affect U.S. national interests directly or indirectly, and U.S. allies or partners may request U.S. assistance.”

    Sadly enough, however, as far as the Pentagon is concerned, an overheated world will only open up further opportunities for the military. In a classic case of projection, its analysts warn that “malign actors may try to exploit regional instability exacerbated by the impacts of climate change to gain influence or for political or military advantage.” (Of course, Americans would never act in such a manner since, by definition, the Pentagon is a benign actor, but will have to respond accordingly.)

    The CIA and other intelligence agencies seem to share the Pentagon’s vision of our hotter future as a growth opportunity. A 2021 climate risk assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) paid special attention to the globe’s fastest-warming region, the Arctic. Did it draw the intelligence community’s interest because of the need to prevent a meltdown of the planet’s ice caps if the Earth is to remain a livable place for humanity? What do you think?

    In fact, its authors write revealingly of the opportunities, militarily speaking, that such a scenario will open up as the Arctic melts:

    Arctic and non-Arctic states almost certainly will increase their competitive activities as the region becomes more accessible because of warming temperatures and reduced ice. … Military activity is likely to increase as Arctic and non-Arctic states seek to protect their investments, exploit new maritime routes, and gain strategic advantages over rivals. The increased presence of China and other non-Arctic states very likely will amplify concerns among Arctic states as they perceive a challenge to their respective security and economic interests.

    In other words, in an overheated future, a new “cold” war will no longer be restricted to what were once the more temperate parts of the planet.

    If, in climate change terms, the military worries about anything globally, it’s increased human migration from devastated areas like today’s flood-ridden Pakistan, and the conflicts that could come with it. In cold bureaucratese, that DNI report predicted that, as ever more of us (or rather, in national security state terms, of them) begin fleeing heat, droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones, “Displaced populations will increasingly demand changes to international refugee law to consider their claims and provide protection as climate migrants or refugees, and affected populations will fight for legal payouts for loss and damages resulting from climate effects.” Translation: We won’t pay climate reparations and we won’t pay to help keep other peoples’ home climates livable, but we’re more than willing to spend as much as it takes to block them from coming here, no matter the resulting humanitarian nightmares.

    Is It Finally Time to Defund War?

    Along with the harm caused by its outsized greenhouse gas emissions and its exploitation of climate chaos as an excuse for imperialism, the Pentagon wreaks terrible damage by soaking up trillions of dollars in government funds that should have gone to meet all-too-human needs, mitigate climate change, and repair the ecological damage the Pentagon itself has caused in its wars in this century.

    Months before Russia invaded Ukraine, ensuring that yet more greenhouse gases would be pumped into our atmosphere, a group of British scholars lamented the Biden administration’s enthusiasm for military funding. They wrote that, “rather than scaling back military spending to pay for urgent climate-related spending, initial budget requests for military appropriations are actually increasing even as some U.S. foreign adventures are supposedly coming to a close.” It’s pointless, they suggested, “to tinker around the edges of the U.S. war machine’s environmental impact.” The funds spent “procuring and distributing fuel across the U.S. empire could instead be spent as a peace dividend [that] includes significant technology transfer and no-strings-attached funding for adaptation and clean energy to those countries most vulnerable to climate change.”

    Washington could still easily afford that “peace dividend,” were it to begin cutting back on its military spending. And don’t forget that, at past climate summits, the rich nations of this planet pledged to send $100 billion annually to the poorest ones so that they could develop their renewable energy capacity, while preparing for and adapting to climate change. All too predictably, the deep-pocketed nations, including the U.S., have stonewalled on that pledge. And of course, as the recent unprecedented monsoon flooding of one-third of Pakistan — a country responsible for less than 1% of historic global greenhouse gases — suggests, it’s already remarkably late for that skimpy promise of a single hundred billion dollars; hundreds of billions per year are now needed. Mind you, Congress could easily divert enough from the Pentagon’s annual budget alone to cover its part of the global climate-reparations tab. And that should be only the start of a wholesale shift toward peacetime spending. No such luck, of course.

    As the National Priorities Project (NPP) has pointed out, increases in national security funding alone in 2022 could have gone a long way toward supporting Joe Biden’s expansive Build Back Better bill, which failed in Congress that year. That illustrates yet again how, as William Hartung put it, “almost anything the government wants to do other than preparing for or waging war involves a scramble for funding, while the Department of Defense gets virtually unlimited financial support,” often, in fact, more than it even asks for.

    The Democrats’ bill, which would have provided solid funding for renewable energy development, child care, health care, and help for economically stressed families was voted down in the Senate by all 50 Republicans and one Democrat (yes, that guy) who claimed that the country couldn’t afford the bill’s $170 billion-per-year price tag. However, in the six months that followed, as the NPP notes, Congress pushed through increases in military funding that added up to $143 billion — almost as much as Build Back Better would have cost per year!

    As Pentagon experts Hartung and Julia Gledhill commented recently, Congress is always pulling such stunts, sending more money to the Defense Department than it even requested. Imagine how much crucial federal action on all kinds of issues could be funded if Congress began deeply cutting, rather than inflating, the cash it shovels out for war and imperialism.

    Needed: A Merger of Movements

    Various versions of America’s antiwar movement have been trying to confront this country’s militarism since the days of the Vietnam War with minimal success. After all, Pentagon budgets, adjusted for inflation, are as high as ever. And, not coincidentally, greenhouse gas emissions from both the military and this society as a whole remain humongous. All these years later, the question remains: Can anything be done to impede this country’s money-devouring, carbon-spewing military juggernaut?

    For the past twenty years, CODEPINK, a women-led grassroots organization, has been one of the few national groups deeply involved in both the antiwar and climate movements. Jodie Evans, one of its cofounders, told me recently that she sees a need for “a whole new movement intersecting the antiwar movement with the climate movement.” In pursuit of that very goal, she said, CODEPINK has organized a project called Cut the Pentagon. Here’s how she describes it: “It’s a coalition of groups serving issues of people’s needs and the planet’s needs and the anti-war movement, because all of us have an interest in cutting the war machine. We launched it on September 12th last year, after 20 years of a ‘War on Terror’ that took $21 trillion of our tax money, to destroy the planet, to destroy the Middle East, to destroy our communities, to turn peacekeeping police into warmongering police.” Cut the Pentagon, says Evans, has “been doing actions in [Washington] D.C. pretty much nonstop since we launched it.”

    Sadly, in 2022, both the climate and antiwar struggles face the longest of odds, going up against this country’s most formidable strongholds of wealth and power. But CODEPINK is legendary for finding creative ways of getting in the face of the powerful interests it opposes and nonviolently upending business-as-usual. “As an activist for the last 50 some-odd years,” Evans says, “I always felt my job was to make power uncomfortable, and to disrupt it.” But since the start of the Covid pandemic, she adds, “Power is making us more uncomfortable than we are making it. It’s stronger and more weaponized than it has been before in my lifetime.”

    Among the hazards of this situation, she adds, social movements that manage to grow and become effective often find themselves coopted and, she adds, over the past two decades, “Too many of us got lazy… We thought ‘clicktivism’ creates change, but it doesn’t.” Regarding an education bill early in the Trump administration, “We had 200 million messages going into Congress from a vast coalition, and we lost. Then a month later, we had only 2,000 people, but we were right there in the halls of Congress and we saved Obamacare. Members of Congress don’t like being uncomfortable.”

    As the military-industrial complex and Earth-killing capitalism only seem to grow ever mightier, Evans and CODEPINK continue pushing for action in Washington. And recently, she believes, a window has been opening:

    For the first time since the sixties and early seventies, it feels like a lot of people are seeing through the propaganda, really being willing to create new structures and new forms. We need to go where both our votes and our voices matter. Creating local change — that’s our work. Our divest-from-war campaigns are all local. Folks who care about the planet need to figure out how do we make power uncomfortable… It’s not a fight of words. It’s a fight of being.

    The major crises we now face are so deeply entangled that perhaps grassroots efforts to face them might, in the end, coalesce. The question remains: From the neighborhood to the nation, could movements for climate mitigation and justice, Indigenous sovereignty, Black lives, economic democracy, and, crucially, an end to the American form of militarism merge into a single collective wave? Our future may depend on it.

    What do Americans care about? Not a Cold War with Russia and China

    The Biden administration will soon release its National Security Strategy, which is being revised in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The document will no doubt trigger a renewed debate about how the United States should gear up for a new Cold War against Russia and China. But before we plunge into a global great-power competition, it’s worth recalling President Biden’s promise to create a “foreign policy for the middle class” and take a look at what most concerns Americans.

    This article was published by Globetrotter.

    Congress is about to add tens of billions of dollars to the military budget. Unrepentant hawks scorn this as inadequate, urging a 50 percent increase, or an additional $400 billion or more a year. Aid to Ukraine totals more than $40 billion this year, and counting. A new buildup is underway in the Pacific. Biden summons Americans to the global battle between democracy and autocracy, implying that U.S. security depends on spreading democracy—and, implicitly, regime change—worldwide.

    Americans, it is safe to say, have different—one might suggest more practical—concerns, as revealed in a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Asked about the most urgent issue facing the country today, 27 percent of respondents—the highest number—ranked inflation as No. 1, while only 2 percent ranked Ukraine at the top. In a range of Economist-YouGov polls over the past month, the top foreign-policy concerns included immigration and climate change.

    The foreign policy “blob” may be gearing up for a global Cold War, but Americans are focused on security at home. According to a survey by the nonpartisan Eurasia Group Foundation, nearly half of Americans think the United States should decrease its involvement in other countries’ affairs; only 21.6 percent would increase it. Nearly 45 percent would decrease U.S. troop deployments abroad; only 32.2 percent would increase them.

    Polls, of course, are merely snapshots—and war fever can transform opinion. However, a 2021 report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs reported many of the same priorities. Far more Americans (81 percent) said they were concerned about threats from within the country than from outside the country (19 percent). Among foreign policy goals, more than 75 percent of respondents ranked protecting American workers’ jobs and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, respectively, as very important. Ranked lowest were “helping to bring a democratic form of government to other nations” (18 percent) and “protecting weaker nations against foreign aggression” (32 percent).

    What would a sensible strategy for the middle class look like? A recent paper from the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft—“Managed Competition: A U.S. Grand Strategy for a Multipolar World”—offers a good start. The author is George Beebe, a former head of the CIA’s Russia analysis unit who is currently director of grand strategy at the institute.

    Beebe argues that over the past three decades, “yawning gaps” have emerged not only between “America’s ambitions in the world and its capacity for achieving those goals,” but also between a “Washington foreign policy elite too focused on promoting U.S. primacy” and “ordinary Americans yearning for greater stability and prosperity at home.”

    He echoes the priorities of most Americans, arguing that “the chief strategic challenge Washington faces today is not to win a decisive battle between freedom and tyranny but to gain a breathing spell abroad that will allow the country to focus on desperately needed internal recovery.”

    He then outlines the core of a strategy for this time: a “managed competition” with Russia and China. Recognizing that our economic health is intertwined with China’s, and that Russia’s nuclear arsenal demands prudence, he would “avoid promoting regime change” or otherwise “undermining political and economic stability in Russia and China.” Instead, in a managed competition, our rivals would be countered not only by American power and alliances, but also by rebuilding “agreed rules of the game,” beginning presumably with efforts to revive nuclear arms agreements and create cyber agreements to limit these growing security challenges.

    For this to occur, he notes elsewhere, there must be an agreed end to the war in Ukraine. Beebe concedes that Vladimir Putin’s attack required a strong American-led response. But as when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Beebe would distinguish between repelling Putin’s aggression and efforts to foster regime change in Moscow or to bring Ukraine into the Western orbit.

    In the current euphoria over Russian reversals in Ukraine, this caution is likely to fall upon deaf ears. But a foreign policy for the middle class must find a way to curb our adventures abroad so that we can rebuild our democracy and strength at home. A Cold War against Russia and China might empower the foreign policy elite, enrich the military-industrial-congressional complex and excite our bellicose media, but it ignores the American people’s common sense.

    Author Bio: Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editorial director and publisher of the Nation and is president of the American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord (ACURA). She writes a weekly column at the Washington Post and is a frequent commentator on U.S. and international politics for Democracy Now, PBS, ABC, MSNBC and CNN. Find her on Twitter @KatrinaNation. This article is distributed by Globetrotter in partnership with The Nation.

    'MAGA violence' and 'domestic terrorism' are driving 'dual citizenships' among America's wealthy: report

    After the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and officially overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years, Billie Joe Armstrong — long-time lead singer for the punk/alternative rock band Green Day — expressed his outrage by telling a crowd in London that he planned to renounce his U.S. citizenship and move to the U.K. The London crowd cheered with applause when Armstrong declared that he no longer wanted to live in “that miserable f*****g excuse for a country.”

    Whether or not the 50-year-old Armstrong will actually follow through remains to be seen, but if he did apply for citizenship in another developed country, he would have a good shot at being accepted — as the Green Day frontman is incredibly wealthy. Immigration laws in the U.K., Canada, Continental Europe, Australia and other parts of the developed world can be notoriously difficult for U.S. citizens, but they are easier to navigate if one has a lot of money. And according to a report by Mother Jones’ Michael Mechanic, wealthy Americans who are worried about the United States’ future have been seriously pursuing their dual citizenship options.

    Mechanic, in an article published by Mother Jones on September 21, reports that the United States’ “societal dysfunction has progressed to the point where many well-heeled Americans are looking for an escape hatch.”

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    “This is not a time of optimism in America,” Mechanic reports. “People are reeling from inflation, gun violence, partisan rancor, race-baiting, a ruthlessly divisive Supreme Court decision, the long tail of a pandemic, and the very real prospect of political violence. A significant majority of the public, polls suggest, thinks the nation is headed in a bad direction. Nearly three-quarters of the people NBC News polled in August said as much, and more than a third predicted that things would get worse over the next five years.”

    Mechanic cites David Lesperance, a Canada-born attorney who now lives in Poland, as an example of someone who specializes in “arranging foreign citizenships for extraordinarily wealthy people, from athletes and celebrities to founders, investors, and corporate bigwigs with assets ranging from about $25 million to $20 billion.”

    “Over the years, Lesperance — who now lives in Gdynia, Poland — has helped hundreds of ultra-high-net-worth Americans relinquish their U.S. citizenship, usually in order to escape the long arm of the IRS,” Mechanic explains. “The United States is the only country besides Somalia that imposes taxes based on citizenship, not residency. Other U.S. clients just want a contingency plan — a legal ‘go bag’ containing an extra passport or two — that a family might deploy if the taxman ever gets too aggressive.”

    Mechanic goes on to report that Lesperance and a Massachusetts-based attorney he often works with, Melvin Warshaw, have recently been observing a new trend that Lesperance describes as “clients engaging us not for tax reasons, but rather, to have an alternative should the U.S. turn into MAGA America.”

    READ MORE: 'Pro-life' right-wingers call for executions and civil war over abortion rights

    One American who really did renounce her U.S. citizenship is rock/R&B icon Tina Turner, who speaks fluent German and now lives in Switzerland. But according to Warshaw, Americans who are looking at dual citizenship options for political reasons aren’t necessarily planning to give up their U.S. citizenship. Warshaw says of these Americans, “They’re saying, ‘I want options. I don’t mind paying high income tax. It’s just things are getting real hot in the kitchen, and I want the ability to bug out — to go somewhere else for a while, because I don’t know what’s going to happen in the 2022 election. And I have little kids. I want a safe place for them.’”

    Mechanic notes that “recent developments, particularly the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, have fueled demand for dual citizenship even among the non-wealthy,” adding, “But securing one is pricey if you don’t have a relative who is a citizen elsewhere.”

    According to Lesperance, affluent Americans who are looking into dual citizenship with other countries fear political violence, authoritarianism and instability in the U.S.

    Lesperance told Mother Jones, “There’s a significant fear there. They look at the daily news, they see, ‘OK, (Supreme Court Justice Samuel) Alito said this (the Dobbs decision) only deals with abortion, and (Justice Clarence) Thomas goes on in his dissent to say, no, we’re winding up for this. We’re throwing it back to the states.’ And then, they see politicians talking about a nationwide ban on abortion.”

    Mechanic reports, “They are concerned, roughly in this order, Lesperance says, about the state of American democracy —

    voter suppression, rejection of election outcomes, MAGA subversion — the outlawing of abortion and what the (Supreme) Court may do next, and the specter of domestic terrorism and mass shooting events. They aren’t necessarily liberal. One client, a billionaire hedge-funder who would call himself a Reagan Republican, Lesperance says, just didn’t want his little kids to have to deal with the trauma of active shooter drills at school…. The new clients also include ‘a bunch’ of former high-level government officials who served under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.”

    Lesperance told Mother Jones, “Remember, to a MAGA, you’re a RINO if you served for W….. (They) really got freaked out, not only by Dobbs, but also, by Trump’s announcement that he’s gonna get rid of the civil service and replace it with loyal flunkies.”

    Lesperance stressed that these clients — both liberals and non-MAGA conservatives — haven’t necessarily given up on the U.S., but they are looking for a possible escape route if things turn really ugly.

    Lesperance told Mother Jones “They’re sitting there saying, ‘I have a giant target on my back. So, yes, I’m gonna vote. Yes, I’m gonna join organizations and fund organizations to get voter registration. I’ll call that fire prevention, but I’m also gonna get fire insurance. And you know, depending on the outcome in the midterms, and what outcome comes in the general, I want to be able to bug out — and I want to take my family.’”

    READ MORE: What could a second American civil war look like?

    'Donald Trump’s right-wing nationalist project': Why a GOP-led Congress would be terrible for Ukraine

    Democratic strategists and liberal pundits have been laying out a variety of reasons why they dread the possibility of Republicans recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate in the 2022 midterms, from abortion rights to climate change to same-sex marriage to voting rights. Foreign policy and the war in Ukraine aren’t mentioned as often, but in an opinion column published by the Washington Post on September 20, liberals Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent argue that Ukrainians will be among the losers if Democrats fail to keep their House majority in November.

    “Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the U.S. government and many Americans have treated it as a given that we are deeply invested in this conflict, in practical and moral terms,” Waldman and Sargent explain. “But there are some dissenters, many aligned with Donald Trump’s right-wing nationalist project, who for numerous reasons, have been deeply skeptical of the Ukrainian cause and our support for it. Now, with Congress debating a new round of funding for Ukraine, a question has arisen: If Republicans take back one or both houses of Congress, could they turn off the spigot of military and even humanitarian aid?”

    For their column, Waldman and Sargent interviewed Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and he shares their concerns about Ukraine and control of the House in the 2022 midterms.

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    Murphy told the columnists, “If Republicans win control of the House or the Senate, I think there’s a likelihood that they will hold up any additional aid…. I think there’s a real risk that the continuing resolution will be the last time we supply funding to Ukraine…. The MAGA wing of the party, which is the dominant wing, says and thinks a lot of nice things about (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

    Waldman and Sargent believe that U.S. aid to Ukraine is facing an even greater threat from House Republicans than from Republicans in the U.S. Senate, as Republicans in the House are especially “beholden to Trump.”

    The columnists explain, “Much GOP rhetoric on this is couched in fiscal terms, saying we shouldn’t spend so much on Ukraine when needs are unmet at home. Traditional conservative groups such as Heritage Action for America have urged Republicans to vote against Ukraine aid packages, and 57 Republicans in the House voted no in May on a $40 billion aid package. But some of the most direct pledges to cut off aid come from far-right Trumpists such as Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who are forthright about their sympathies."

    Waldman and Sargent note that Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) once said, "Ukraine is not our ally. Russia is not our enemy.”

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    Right-wing Confederate memorabilia website unveils coins featuring Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth II

    Former President Donald Trump's financially imperiled Twitter copycat app Truth Social is advertising commemorative coins showcasing Trump and the late Queen Elizabeth II, who died at the age of 96 on Thursday, September 8th. Twitter permanently banned Trump after he incited the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol.

    The funeral for the United Kingdom's longest-reigning monarch was held on Monday, September 19th at London's Westminster Abbey.

    Trump, who was not invited, boasted on Truth Social that he would have gotten better seats than President Joe and First Lady Jill Biden, who were placed in the 14th row. Trump was also not in attendance at the queen's Platinum Jubilee in June, despite the depiction on the colorized 50-cent piece:

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    The right-wing website 1776society.proudpatriots.com states that the decorative tender is free and that customers only have to pay for shipping "to cover our American workers like you." The online retailer sells memorabilia such as two-dollar bills emblazoned with "still my president" and images of Confederate generals. Users can purchase memberships to "join discussions with like-minded Patriots."

    Although it is not affiliated with Trump's reelection campaign or the White House Gift Shop, hyperlinks have begun to appear on Truth Social, which relies on product placement to generate revenue.

    Trump Media and Technology Group Chief Executive Officer Devin Nunes explained in a statement last month that "by partnering with Rumble Ads, Truth Social is poised to displace the Big Tech platforms as a superior venue for businesses to connect with an extraordinarily engaged audience of millions of real people."

    Nunes is a retired Republican California Congressman whose political career ended amid legal entanglements with a fake cow.

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    'No water, no food, a hopeless life': Number of ultrarich individuals skyrockets as millions starve

    "Those with the power and money to change this must come together to better respond to current crises and prevent and prepare for future ones," a coalition of charities asserted.

    As a new analysis revealed that the global ranks of the superrich soared to a record number, a coalition of charity groups said Tuesday that hundreds of millions of people around the world are hungry—and that someone starves to death every four seconds.

    At least 238 international and local charities from 75 countries signed an open letter noting that "a staggering 345 million people are now experiencing acute hunger, a number that has more than doubled since 2019."

    "Despite promises from world leaders to never allow famine again in the 21st century, famine is once more imminent in Somalia," the signers stated. "Around the world, 50 million people are on the brink of starvation in 45 countries."

    The letter—which was timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York—asserts that "the global hunger crisis has been fueled by a deadly mix of poverty, social injustice, gender inequality, conflict, climate change, and economic shocks, with the lingering impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine further driving up food prices and the cost of living."

    "Those with the power and money to change this must come together to better respond to current crises and prevent and prepare for future ones," the signatories argued.

    The number of those with the most money grew to a record number last year.

    According to an analysis published Tuesday by Credit Suisse, there were 218,200 ultra-high net worth (UHNW) people in the world in 2021, an increase of 46,000 from the previous year. The share of the world's wealth held by the richest 1% of people also increased from 44% to 46% last year.

    Credit Suisse said there were 62.5 million U.S. dollar millionaires on Earth, and that all the wealth in the world added up to $463.6 trillion, while attributing what one of the report's authors called the "explosion of wealth" to soaring home and stock values.

    A separate report published in July by letter signatory Oxfam revealed that profits from soaring food prices have enriched billionaires around the world by a collective $382 billion.

    Meanwhile, Sumaya, a 32-year-old mother of four living in a camp for internally displaced people in Ethiopia's Somali region, lamented her family's dire situation in the charity groups' letter: "No water, no food, a hopeless life."

    "Above all, my children are starving," she said. "They are on the verge of death. Unless they get some food, I'm afraid they will die."

    Last week, Oxfam published a report underscoring how the climate emergency is exacerbating extreme hunger. The report examined 10 of the world's worst climate hot spots, where 18 million people are on the brink of starvation.

    Mohanna Ahmed Ali Eljabaly of the Yemen Family Care Association, which also signed the charities' letter, said that "it is abysmal that with all the technology in agriculture and harvesting techniques today we are still talking about famine in the 21st century."

    "This is not about one country or one continent and hunger never only has one cause. This is about the injustice of the whole of humanity," she continued. "It is extremely difficult to see people suffering while others sharing the same planet have plenty of food."

    "We must not wait a moment longer to focus both on providing immediate lifesaving food and longer-term support," Elhjabaly added, "so people can take charge of their futures and provide for themselves and their families."

    Peace activists are hitting the streets across the United States

    On September 18, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t” use nuclear weapons in retaliation for severe battlefield losses in Ukraine. While Putin dismissed Biden’s worries as unfounded, the specter of nuclear armageddon drove U.S. antiwar activists to the streets days before in a September Week of Action organized by the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.

    This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

    Demanding a “ceasefire now,” activists hosted antiwar events in D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Madison, Boston, Rockville, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles.

    The Peace in Ukraine Coalition—consisting of CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Democratic Socialists of America, Massachusetts Peace Action, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-U.S., and other organizations—mobilized for negotiations, not escalation, in what CODEPINK describes as a proxy war threatening a direct war between the two most heavily armed nuclear nations, the United States and Russia.

    With President Biden asking Congress for another $13.7 billion for Ukraine, $7.2 billion for weapons and military training, activists delivered letters to their U.S. House and Senate representatives, some letters simply urging a ceasefire, others pushing for a no vote on the next weapons request folded into a $47 billion COVID-19 relief bill. That bill, called a continuing resolution, must be voted on in one form or another by September 30 to avoid a federal government shutdown.

    If the resolution passes with Biden’s request, military analysts say it would bring this year’s total for Ukraine to $67 billion. The amount allotted for weapons, military training, and intelligence could surpass $40 billion, four times the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency during an existential climate crisis of wildfires, droughts, storms, and rising sea levels.

    In the nation’s capital, CODEPINK co-founders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans, together with Colonel Ann Wright and other activists, kicked off the Week of Action, going door to door to the offices of the House Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), where the most natural antiwar allies would, theoretically, be found. While some members of the caucus call for much-needed diplomacy and raise concerns about the risk of nuclear war—either through a miscalculation or an intentional first strike—not one member of the nearly 100-member CPC will commit to voting against more weapons for Ukraine.

    Benjamin told the press, “Further escalation should be unthinkable, but so should a long war of endless crushing artillery barrages and brutal urban and trench warfare that slowly and agonizingly destroys Ukraine, killing hundreds of Ukrainians with each day that passes. The only realistic alternative to this endless slaughter is a return to peace talks to bring the fighting to an end.”

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer do not make it easy for Democrats to break ranks—as the Republicans are doing ahead of the midterms—on the question of weapons for Ukraine. Pelosi and Schumer embed humanitarian aid and military dollars in the same legislation, making it hard for progressive Democrats to join with the 57 Republicans, among them hard-core Trumpers Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), and Jim Jordan (OH-04), who voted against previous Ukraine packages.

    Since the Russian invasion on February 24, thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have died, and according to the United Nations, 12 million have been displaced, either internally or throughout Eastern Europe. The Pentagon estimates 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed.

    Partners in the Peace in Ukraine Coalition condemn the Russian invasion but argue there is no military solution to a war that was provoked by the same neoconservatives responsible for the disastrous U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Through successive administrations, the voices for a unipolar world in which the United States dominates led to the expansion of NATO, a hostile nuclear-armed military alliance, from 12 countries after the fall of the Soviet Union to 30 countries, including some that border Russia: Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Lithuania.

    In addition to the expansion of NATO, organizations in the Peace in Ukraine Coalition cite other provocations: U.S. support for a 2014 coup of Ukraine’s democratically elected Russia-friendly president and years of U.S. arms shipments—from Presidents Obama to Trump to Biden—to undermine the 2015 MINSK II peace agreement. That accord signed by Russia and Ukraine was to end the civil war that followed the 2014 coup and left an estimated 14,000 people dead in Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region. Fighting between the swastika-flag-waving Azov Battalion and Russian separatists preceded Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, though corporate media often fails to mention this.

    On Thursday, September 15, demonstrators in San Francisco’s Financial District marched from the Senate offices of Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein to deliver letters in opposition to funding a protracted war in Ukraine.

    Massachusetts Peace Action activists camped outside the offices of three Democratic House members—Jake Auchincloss, Katherine Clark, and Stephen Lynch—to implore them to support a ceasefire.

    Milwaukee antiwar activists, including a county supervisor, took their peace flags and “Diplomacy, Not War” signs to the campus of conservative Marquette University, where they passed out hundreds of flyers with QR codes for students to email their Congress members for a ceasefire. Organizer Jim Carpenter, co-chair (with myself) of the foreign policy team of Progressive Democrats of America, told skeptics who want a fight to the last Ukrainian, “Are you more concerned about saving lives or saving territory?”

    DSA members in Santa Barbara, California, distributed a similar half-pager to a staffer for Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and represents a district crawling with military contractors and home to Vandenberg Air Force Base, where a test launch of a nuclear missile was delayed due to Putin’s placement of Russia’s nuclear arsenal on high alert.

    On the steps outside the congressman’s office, activists talked to a Ukrainian church member visiting the lawmaker at the same time to press for more weapons for Ukraine. “You can’t negotiate with Putin—you can never trust him,” he insisted, waving a large Ukrainian flag and arguing for a fight to the finish—to regime change.

    “But there is no military solution short of economic ruin, global famine, climate catastrophe—or worse, nuclear armageddon,” I responded, and I pointed out—to nods from the Ukrainian—that since the start of the war, Ukraine and Russia had negotiated grain exports and nuclear reactor inspections. Why couldn’t they negotiate an end to the war, if only the United States and NATO would stop sending weapons to prolong the crisis?

    Veterans for Peace members in the Bay Area wrote to Democratic Representatives Mark Desaulinier (CA-11) and Barbara Lee (CA-13), the lone vote against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and sponsor of legislation to cut the Pentagon budget by $350 billion. “We urge you to forcefully call for negotiations and speak out against Secretary of Defense [Lloyd] Austin’s call for continuing the war to ‘weaken Russia.’ That is a recipe for a world war if ever there was one,” read the letters.

    In Rockville, Maryland, another Veterans for Peace member, Jim Driscoll, who volunteered for the Marines in Vietnam, published an op-ed in the local press titled, “Why I Was Arrested to ‘Stop the War! Save the Climate!’” Driscoll was arrested in August during an antiwar protest outside Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen’s office. His message to Van Hollen, as well as the media, was to stop fueling the war in Ukraine that exacerbates the climate crisis.

    Driscoll writes, “As with Vietnam and Iraq, the U.S. government and a subservient media have painted an ahistorical, one-sided, distorted narrative to justify the damage we have foisted upon the people of Ukraine…”

    It was announced that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile, was expected to on September 21 virtually address an Austin, Texas, summit of military contractors—Raytheon, Northrop Grumman—to appeal directly to the war profiteers for more weapons. The White House—concerned that Ukrainian battlefield victories will trigger Russian retaliation—opposes Zelenskyy’s latest request: missiles with a range of 190 miles that Zelenskyy could use to strike Russian-annexed Crimea.

    As a plan B, Zelenskyy’s government has launched an “Advantage Ukraine” initiative of low taxation and deregulation to attract foreign investors to build made-to-order weapons systems in Ukraine. That country, however, may have serious competition as a forward-deployed threat to Russia, for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently announced he wants to make his country “the cornerstone of conventional defense in Europe.”

    Not everyone in high places campaigns, however, for escalation and further militarization. Mexican President Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced plans to call on the United Nations to create an international committee to promote dialogue between Biden, Putin, and Zelenskyy with invitations to Pope Francis, the prime minister of India, and the UN secretary-general to act as mediators to end the war in Ukraine. AMLO would like to put everything on the negotiating table, including nuclear missile tests.

    Excited by AMLO’s initiative, members of the Peace in Ukraine Coalition hope to amplify his message in the coming weeks as an existential question haunts coalition members.

    How does the war in Ukraine end—with nuclear annihilation of 60 percent of the human race; a decades-long war of attrition; or a backdoor deal for semi-autonomy of the Donbas and partial denuclearization of Europe?

    As October 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, one is reminded that former President John F. Kennedy persuaded Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to remove nuclear missiles pointed at Florida from a base in Cuba, not by fast-tracking weapons to escalate a hot war but rather by quietly making a deal to remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey.

    As time passed, U.S. nuclear warheads were reinstalled in Turkey, though the quiet negotiations between JFK and Khrushchev serve as an example of how diplomacy can avert catastrophe.

    Author Bio: Marcy Winograd, coordinator of CODEPINK for Congress, is a longtime antiwar activist who served as a 2020 DNC delegate to Bernie Sanders and co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. A retired English and government teacher, Marcy blogs about militarism and foreign policy at LA Progressive.

    Watch: United States Space Force unveils official song

    The United States Space Force, which was officially established by former President Donald Trump on December 20th, 2019, introduced its official song on Tuesday at the Air & Space Forces Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.

    The tune, called Semper Supra, "was named after the USSF motto, which is Latin for 'Always Above.' It was created to capture the esprit de corps of both current and future Guardians, and intends to bring together service members by giving them a sense of pride," the newest military branch announced in a press statement.

    "Two former service members collaborated to create the song, a process that took years of research and revisions to make sure the song was ready for release," it explained.

    READ MORE: Donald Trump ordered a nuclear reactor on the Moon in his final days as president

    Singer/songwriter James Teachenor composed the melody and authored the lyrics:

    We're the mighty watchful eye,
    Guardians beyond the blue,
    The invisible front line,
    Warfighters brave and true.
    Boldly reaching into space,
    There's no limit to our sky.
    Standing guard both night and day,
    We're the Space Force from on high.

    Teachenor, a veteran Air Force musician, said that "the song was a long work in progress because I wanted it to encompass all the capabilities that the Space Force offers and its vision."

    The project began in 2019 as a collaborative effort between Teachenor and Chief of Space Operations General John 'Jay' Raymond. United States Coast Guard Band Chief Musician Sean Nelson then worked alongside instrumentalists to create the thirty-part orchestral arrangement, which was recorded by the Coast Guard Band.

    "I received the melody and words from James, and he wanted me to help add the harmony and to orchestrate it," said Nelson. "At first, it started with singing and the piano. I became familiar with the other branches' songs, but I wanted this one to have its own modern spin to reflect what the Space Force is - modern, new and very advanced."

    Watch below or at this link.

    READ MORE: The corporatization of just about everything from climate change to outer space

    'You definitely have to choose sides': Volodymyr Zelenskyy presses West as Ukraine fends off Russia

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is calling on world leaders to "abandon neutrality, step up military and other support for his country, and stay united as it tries to repel a Russian invasion," Politico reports.

    During a recent live interview, Zelenskyy spoke with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, where he issued a warning to the world that "you cannot remain on the sidelines.”

    “You definitely have to choose sides,” Zelenskyy said. “You cannot vacillate between good and evil, light and dark.”

    READ MORE: 'We ask you to relieve yourself of your post': Kremlin officials are turning against Vladimir Putin

    Zelenskyy made the remarks while speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The event had been on hiatus due to controversy in connection with former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.

    The event comes as the Ukrainian army has worked to push Russian military forces out of the eastern region of the country.

    “Our army has become stronger on the battlefield. Our servicemen have become resilient,” Zelenskyy said to Clinton later, appealing for additional military assistance, “When we received what we needed, we already immediately showed what we are capable of.”

    Zelenskyy, per Politico, also noted "Ukraine’s current and future infrastructure and economic needs given damage caused by Russian attacks. Repairing the school system in particular is a concern."

    READ MORE: 'Long overdue': Nancy Pelosi supports labeling Russia a 'state sponsor of terrorism'

    Russia now frontrunner to build nuclear reactors that Donald Trump ally Michael Flynn was negotiating

    Since the FBI raided former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in August, Americans were reminded that Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and close friend and inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack negotiated with Saudi Arabia to sell the kingdom the technology to build at least 14 nuclear reactors.

    Whistleblowers were alarmed that the kingdom would use the technology for nuclear weapons and alerted Congress to the secret negotiations, resulting in a Congressional investigation. The White House did not cooperate with the investigation or share any requested documents.

    But the House Oversight Committee obtained more than 60,000 pages of texts, emails, corporate memos and reports that offered a vivid look at how dangerous the Middle East could have become if the secret negotiations resulted in a sale.

    Flynn wasn’t just negotiating on behalf of U.S. companies wanting to sell technology to the Saudis. He was also negotiating on behalf of Russia.

    Like Trump, Flynn wanted to lift U.S. sanctions. Part of the deal he was pitching to the Saudis was that Russian construction and nuclear engineering firm OAO OMZ could sell its products and expertise to the kingdom

    This summer, it looks as if Saudi Arabia is getting the technology it initially had wanted from Flynn and the Trump Administration– and Russia is in position to deliver it to the kingdom.

    And one thing hasn’t changed since 2016 when Flynn first hatched his plan to get the Saudis nuclear technology: The Saudis still don’t want to agree to nonproliferation or inspections of any nuclear technology they buy.

    This summer as Trump appears to have been refusing to return classified documents to the U.S. government, Saudi Arabia made an announcement the Western press didn't notice. It announced it was taking bids from China, Russia, France and South Korea to build several nuclear reactors across the kingdom. And Saudi Arabia still didn’t want to agree to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    “That should set off alarm bells,” the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists warned in July. “Late in 2020, word leaked that the Saudis have been working secretly with the Chinese to mine and process Saudi uranium ore. These are steps toward enriching uranium—and a possible nuclear weapon program.”

    The nukes' long, strange trip

    While Trump was still on the presidential campaign trail in 2016, Flynn was negotiating a deal for the Saudis to get at least 14 – and as many as 40 – nuclear reactors from companies in America and Russia. As a Congressional investigation would discover, Flynn had close ties to IP3, a nuclear energy firm run by former U.S. generals, that would supply much of the materials, expertise and design.

    Trump’s longtime friend Tom Barrack is a Lebanese American with business contacts across the Middle East. Barrack wanted Trump to appoint him a special envoy to the Middle East. Barrack helped Flynn push for the nuclear deal. Interestingly, Flynn recommended that Barrack be point man for the Saudi Arabian nuclear project rather than an official Trump’s Department of Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, would choose.

    As Trump delivered his inauguration speech on January 20, 2017, Flynn texted one U.S. company that the plan was “good to go” and was “going to make a lot of very wealthy people.”

    On January 22, 2017, Flynn was sworn in as national security adviser. In February, he was fired after proof emerged that he twice lied to Vice President Michael Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

    Whistleblowers alerted Congress to how Flynn negotiated without properly briefing Congress or the State Department, alarming Republicans as well as Democrats.

    But according to the Congressional investigative report, Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry continued after Flynn was fired.

    Investigators found emails mentioning IP3 meetings with Perry and one with Perry and Trump after Flynn’s firing. A June 15, 2018 internal email, IP3 company officials referred to “ongoing meetings” with the DOE. Other IP3 executive emails refer to pressing the Trump Administration to let IP3 sell the kingdom nuclear technology. The report said IP3 executives seemed to think Perry favored the deal even without a nonproliferation agreement.

    IP3 later issued a statement that rebutted the report by describing the meetings as routine efforts to explore new markets for American nuclear technology firms.

    Interestingly, Trump demanded that Saudi Arabia be his first overseas presidential visit over the objections of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Saudi Arabia spent an estimated $68 million entertaining Trump with sporting events, auto shows, a country music concert by singer Toby Keith, a projection of a five-story image of Trump’s face on the wall of his hotel, and a multimillion-dollar dinner in his honor.

    Barrack’s role in the Saudi nuclear deal is now subject of a federal investigation.

    Around Thanksgiving Day 2020, Trump pardoned Flynn who pleaded guilty for twice lying to the FBI. And Flynn’s post-pardon life has been vividly prosperous.

    Gold and uranium paved roads

    Flynn is now the star of Reawaken America, a road show of election denialists and Christian nationalists that brings election denialists, Oath Keepers, Christian nationalists, vaccine conspiracists, and other far-right celebrities to cities and towns across America. Flynn also promoted the Jan. 6 gathering-turned-lethal-riot with his own recruits. Flynn runs several lucrative consulting and politics-related companies. His Resilient Patriot LLC got paid $58,000 for a conference. An AP and “Frontline” examination of his finances found almost $300,000 in payments to Flynn and his businesses from candidates and political action committees since 2021.

    Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia also made major progress toward its nuclear dreams even after Trump’s presidential defeat.

    In August 2020, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Saudi Arabia, with China’s help, was building a nuclear facility in a remote, sparsely populated corner of the kingdom. The Journal said the facility was meant to extract uranium yellowcake from uranium ore but China had given the Saudis the designs needed to progress beyond that. The Saudi government claimed the facility was for “uranium exploration” only and didn’t violate any international agreements.

    “‘Yellowcake’ is a milled form of uranium ore which occurs naturally in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries such as Jordan,” the Journal said. “It is produced by chemically processing uranium ore into a fine powder. It takes multiple additional steps and technology to process and enrich uranium sufficiently for it to power a civil nuclear energy plant. At very high enrichment levels, uranium can fuel a nuclear weapon.”

    About a year later, June 3, 2021, news was announced via Russian news agency Tass that the Western press barely noted. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told a meeting of the Russian-Saudi intergovernmental commission that President Vladimir Putin was helping the Saudi kingdom develop several “nuclear power plants with low power reactors.” Tass refers to the reactors as small and “floating.”

    They sound like the modular micro reactors that Trump ordered to be developed in an executive order that he signed the day before the Jan 6 riot.

    The Tass article also said that Saudi Arabia would be taking bids from China, South Korea, France, the United States and Russia for its first big, “high powered” nuclear reactor.

    Since then, industry analysts have tended to dismiss China as a contender because it doesn’t have the needed experience building in desert terrain to tackle such the ambitious Saudi project. France is deemed too expensive for the Saudi royals’ taste.

    South Korea would face some legal complications because Korean nuclear reactors incorporate many elements of engineering, designs and technology owned by America’s Westinghouse, according to the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists. There were also questions about whether treaties and agreements with the United States would require South Korea to get an OK from America to proceed with a sale.

    The odds for now favor Russia as the winner.

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