About stuartbramhall

Retired child and adolescent psychiatrist and American expatriate in New Zealand. In 2002, I made the difficult decision to close my 25-year Seattle practice after 15 years of covert FBI harassment. I describe the unrelenting phone harassment, illegal break-ins and six attempts on my life in my 2010 book The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee.

Culture, Class and Civilization

Great essay on the origin of class society.

Journal of People

CULTURE AND CLASS

Culture, Class and Civilisation

Dave Lordan

Culture Matters | September 16, 2020

Culture, class and civilisation

About 10,000 years ago, after 3.6 million years of the Stone Age, humanity began to slowly and stutteringly transform itself. A nomadic species made up of small egalitarian groups and surviving (or not) on the given bounty of the Earth, changed into a settled, class-based, accumulative society. It was based on agricultural surpluses, and institutional hierarchies and gross inequalities were to become a permanent feature. The domestication of certain animals such as the sheep and the goat, cultivation of high-yield grains, and improvements in food storage methods, irrigation, and farming methods and technologies, gave humanity for the first time the problem of more than enough stuff to go around – surplus – and what to do with it.

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Ranked Choice Voting: Breaking the Duality

With RCV, the duopoly is broken and third party and independent candidates have a more credible chance. By eliminating the largest push towards lesser-evil voting, people are more free to vote their conscience and on the issues that matter most to them.

Red Madison

By Kevin Cunningham and Matthew Dahlberg

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is one of a few different electoral systems, or models of voting, that can be used to help determine the candidate that people like best. In this model, voters still have one single vote, like under the system of First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) voting we presently use, but they can add conditions on how this vote is used, to say ‘this is the candidate I like best, second best, third best…’ and so on.

The following example helps outline how this works. Here, we will be voting on our favorite President on a coin: Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, or Roosevelt. Each stack of coins represents a voter’s choices in order from first (top) to fourth (bottom).

First round – No majority has been reached, so an instant run-off occurs. The candidate with the least votes (Jefferson) is eliminated from the stack and we…

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The Corruption of Federal Regulation: Is It Time to Dismantle Capitalism?

Freedom From Choice

Reel Truth (2019)

Film Review

This documentary starts off well with a brilliant illustration of the revolving door syndrome – whereby federal officials move back and forth between government agencies and the industries they’re meant to regulate. It also offers excellent examples of regulations that actually harm consumers to increase corporate profits. Somehow, however, the filmmakers come to the conclusion that big government is the problem – that the only solution is to drastically downsize government and eliminate all corporate regulation.

I honestly can’t see this as a viable solution. Despite appalling government performance in in regulating environmental toxins, repealing all government regulation would allow corporations to fill our air, waterways and food chain with even more toxic chemicals than they do now.  I tend to draw a different conclusion: that monopoly capitalism can’t be reformed via regulation and needs to be dismantled altogether.

Examples of federal regulations that harm consumers to serve corporate interests are

  • The FDA ban on raw milk (which contains numerous beneficial gut bacteria that are destroyed by pasteurization).*
  • The FDA ban on farmers butchering or curing their own meat.
  • The CDC campaign to make vaccinations compulsory.
  • The federal ban on cannabis, despite its approval in more than half the states for medical and/or recreational reasons (which significantly benefits the alcohol, cigarette, and pharmaceutical industries).
  • The 2008 federal bail out of the big banks that caused the global economic crash, enabling them to foreclose and take possession of millions of American homes.

*According to the filmmakers, the milk industries operates on a very thin profit margin, and the strong public demand for raw milk potentially threatens their bottom line.

 

 

Doing the laundry too much is going to destroy waterways

> Scientific Enquirer

The amount of synthetic microfiber we shed into our waterways has been of great concern over the last few years, and for good reason: Every laundry cycle releases in its wastewater tens of thousands of tiny, near-invisible plastic fibers whose persistence and accumulation can affect aquatic habitats and food systems, and ultimately our own bodies in ways we have yet to discover.

And according to researchers from UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, that’s not the whole picture. In a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, they found that the volume of synthetic microfibers we release to terrestrial environments from our wash cycles rivals — and may soon eclipse — the amount that winds up in our oceans, rivers and lakes.

“The emissions of microfibers onto terrestrial environments — that was a known process. But the magnitude of the issue was not well known,” said Jenna Gavigan, who led the study, the first ever to examine the problem on a global scale.

Using global datasets on apparel production, use and washing with emission and retention rates during washing, wastewater treatment and sludge management, Gavigan and colleagues estimate that 5.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of synthetic microfibers have been emitted from apparel washing between 1950 and 2016, with 2.9 Mt finding their way into waterbodies and a combined 2.5 Mt emitted onto terrestrial environments (1.9 Mt) and landfilled (0.6 Mt).

“If you look at the figures you can see the enormous growth in synthetic clothes production, and as a result, increased synthetic microfiber pollution,” said industrial ecology professor and paper co-author Roland Geyer.

Indeed, according to the paper, about half of the total synthetic microfiber emissions since 1950 (the dawn of synthetic fiber mass production) were generated in the last decade alone. Thanks in large part to the global appetite for fast fashion and its tendency toward cheaper, mass-producible synthetic fibers, as well as increased access to washing machines, our laundry is polluting not just the ocean, but the land, too.

Where is it coming from, this enormous — and until now, largely unnoticed — mass of synthetic microfibers? It turns out that in the effort to keep them from getting in our waterways, these fibers are accumulating in the sludge of wastewater treatment plants.

“Wastewater treatment is not the end of the pollution,” said industrial ecology professor Sangwon Suh, who also is a co-author on the study. With a roughly 95-99% removal efficiency, all but the tiniest microplastics are caught in the sludge, which is treated and turned into biosolids, and “predominantly used in land applications,” as fertilizer and soil amendments.

“A smaller percentage goes to the landfill,” Gavigan said. “The smallest percentage gets dumped into the ocean in some countries, and some of it is incinerated.”

“So then it becomes a terrestrial pollution issue,” Geyer pointed out. “We just turned it into a different environmental pollution issue rather than having actually solved it.”

According to the researchers, preventing emissions at the source — whether by using a microfiber capture device, selecting a gentler wash method, washing clothes less often or foregoing synthetic fabrics — would be more effective at mitigating microfiber pollution than trying to capture the fibers after the wastewater is sent to the treatment plant […]

Via Doing the laundry too much is going to destroy waterways — Scientific Inquirer

 

How Were 46 Million People Trapped by Student Debt? The History of an Unfulfilled Promise – CounterPunch.org

“It is time to recognize that the cruel experiment in financing higher education through student loans has failed. It has captured 46 million people and their families in a student loan trap, including people who received vocational training, and has weakened the financial strength of higher education. Inescapable debt is a major driver of social collapse. It has made the racial wealth gap worse and weakened the entire economy, as debt holders are prevented from buying homes or consumer goods, starting families, or opening new businesses. It’s time to restore funds for higher education and cancel student debt for the victims of this failed experiment.”

AGR Daily News

The experiment failed. Researchers have not been able to prove that the student loan program led more people to become teachers, despite multiple attempts to do so. The experiment was also cruel. Over the years, the student loan program was expanded, with the claim that a student’s personal investment in their education was an “investment” that would pay off in higher wages. Banks and other private lenders were brought into the process and given considerable incentives and subsidies to issue student loans, without considering the burden being imposed on the student. This financial opportunity was given to banking interests that were already wealthy, with little thought of the resulting damage to an economically sustainable future.

The system took on a life of its own. By the mid-1990s, student loans had surpassed grants in funding students’ higher education. But a system built on debt financing only works if borrowers pay back…

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Democrats Campaigning to Keep Green Party Off Ballot in Key Swing States

By Alan McLeod

MintPress

The 2020 presidential election is already underway — or, at least, it should be. Because of an ongoing legal battle, none of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will be sending out mail-in ballots today like they were originally scheduled to. Democrats are attempting to remove Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins from the ballot because of an alleged procedural mistake his running mate Angela Walker made when informing election authorities about a change in her South Carolina address. A similar battle is raging between the two parties in Wisconsin, another key battleground state.

That such a minor procedural error could, in effect, disbar an entire political party from running might be news to many Americans. It is also a charge the Green Party strenuously denies. “I filed my address change properly to the Wisconsin Elections Commission as they instructed me to when our campaign informed them of my address change,” Walker said in a press release this morning,

The Democrat chairing the hearing concerning Democratic objections to my filing prevented that documentation from being presented. They had that information in hand. The Democratic commissioners could have resolved the problem last month at the hearing. Instead, they are playing politics with Wisconsin voters. They could end this now by withdrawing their phony objections. The Democratic commissioners are as guilty as the Republican justices in this hold-up of absentee ballots.”

“The court should have made a decision by now. We want a decision today to put us on the ballot. We want the absentee ballot process to proceed without further delay,” Hawkins added.

Why the Democrats might benefit from the removal of the Greens is clear. With many predicting a close election, third party votes could prove crucial in preventing one of the two major parties from getting over the line. One Emerson poll found that 51 percent of Bernie Sanders primary voters were at least considering opting for a third party come November. Hawkins and Walker have been pitching hard to disenchanted leftists, reminding voters that they embrace a Green New Deal, while Biden has rejected it […]

Via

Democrats Campaigning to Keep Green Party off the Ballot in Key Swing States

CoVid-19 Test PCR – A Critical Appraisal

Guest Commentary by Bose Ravenel, M.D., F.A.A.P., Retired

Postulate:

The standard testing for CoVID-19 utilizes a technology that its discoverer warned should never be used for diagnosis.  This technique, known as PCR, has led to massively inaccurate and misleading conclusions.  Public health authorities currently are basing societal mitigation policies and recommendations almost exclusively upon this technology by tracking putative numbers of “cases” instead of deaths and hospitalizations, and the result is an unprecedented negative impact upon society that is futile and unnecessary.  It is futile in the naïve assumption that SARS CoV-2 can be contained in the population and unnecessary since deaths and hospitalizations and attendant consequences therefrom are back to pre-pandemic levels.  It is imperative that tracking data upon which ongoing mitigation practices rest revert back to accurate figures for deaths and hospitalizations from CoVID-19.

Personal Disclosure:

I am a recently retired pediatrician after 33 years in private pediatric practice, 11 years as a faculty member of a major University Department of Pediatrics serving in a community Pediatric Residency training program, and have been practicing pediatric Integrative Medicine for 6 ½ years.  During this Integrative Medicine time, my patients were predominantly those with autoimmune diseases, chronic Lyme disease, and autism spectrum disorders.  I have no experience with diagnosing or treating CoVID-19 in patients. My training and experience have, however, provided me a vast experience sorting out often conflicting and equally credible appearing narratives about chronic diseases and the immune system.   By virtue of the foundational role of the immune system in children with the kinds of complex, chronic health aforementioned conditions, I have studied the immune system and its role in recovery or otherwise from these chronic and disabling conditions intensively over the past seven years or so.

Being a resident of a retirement community myself and a member of a high-risk group for CoVID-19, along with a suddenly accelerated time frame for my planned retirement due to a shut-down from outside exposure in the retirement community, I have invested hundreds of hours into researching everything CoVID since March 16, 2020.

Background

CoVID-19 became a household word in the United States in March, 2020 when the pandemic became manifest.  Needless to say, it has affected every person living, as well as all our institutions, businesses, activities, and the overall economy in ways that were unimaginable.

During the initial few weeks of the pandemic in our country, the scope and apparent seriousness of what was unfolding was unprecedented and with reports of over-running of hospitals and large numbers of deaths in select high-density urban populations (Wuhan, China, New York City, etc) the initial response that included widespread shutdowns and the other well-known mitigation measures were justified.

Following a massive shifting of resources, extreme mitigation in the form of shutting down businesses, physical distancing, mask wearing, and other measures, the anticipated and feared massive over-running of hospitals’ ability to manage the CoVID-19 case load became manageable, and after the first six weeks or so, in most of the smaller communities across the country, shutting down hospital and medical office usual procedures and medical care led to both unexpectedly low medical utilization overall, personnel layoffs, and widespread adverse impact upon normal usual healthcare, thus over time adding to “collateral damage” in the form of missed medical treatment for non-CoVID health conditions, etc.  Even makeshift hospitals created from conversion of other facilities to hastily constructing new ones ended up not being needed for CoVID patients and not utilized.

Initially the primary driver of public health recommendations and policies were data for hospitalizations and deaths from CoVID-19.  During this initial phase, before the ultimate magnitude of the problem could be determined, the difficult and painful measures of shutting-down businesses, schools, and restrictions of personal liberties for the greater good of public health and safety were justified as being of finite duration, expected to be a matter of up to six weeks or so in order to “flatten the curve” of the rapid acceleration of the virus and its effects – not to be followed indefinitely.

As diagnostic testing became available, tracking with all three of these measures was followed.  After the first six weeks or so, high density urban areas that were hit hard in the beginning did experience “flattening the curve” and most other communities were spared the once-feared massive over-run of their ability to deal with the caseload of sick CoVID-19 patients.

Testing that was adopted and became the basic form of diagnostic lab test was that based upon Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a technology discovered by Kary Mullis, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993 for this discovery.  Although Mullis died in 2019 before the beginning of the CoVID-19 pandemic, he had much to say about PCR.  He warned against this technique ever being used for diagnosis due to the complexity of the process and because of a relatively high rate of false positive results if performed on asymptomatic individuals, as well as with false negative results.  He pointed out, among other things, that PCR required selecting a particular number of “amplifications” or multiplications of the original tiny string of genetic material (DNA), and that the cutoff between “positive” and “negative” was arbitrary and could vary from place to place or over time.

Now, six months into the pandemic, the most accurate measure of deaths, IFR (Infection Fatality Ratio) has declined to a range that is within the bounds of deaths attributed to seasonal influenza in moderate to severe years.  Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) published in June 2020 an article “CoVID-19 Assessing Infection Severity” data from the CDC published in May 2020 showing the following:

  • Mortality of SARS-CoV-2 based on symptomatic cases was 0.4%. Since 35% of cases were estimated by the CDC at the time to be asymptomatic, the overall CFR (case fatality rate) was 0.26%
  • Comparison with CFR reports from seasonal influenza and influenza pandemics range from 0.1% to 2.25%. The latter figure was for the 1918-1920 pandemic, but the CFR for seasonal influenza in 1957-1960 was 0.28%, higher than the 0.26% for CoVID-19 reported by the CDC in May 2020.

This decrease in IFR was predictable to a certain degree, as initial figures for mortality were simple calculations based upon the number of deaths from CoVID divided by the number of cases diagnosed, with the latter number determined from testing among sick individuals only, and including those believed clinically to have CoVID-19 despite a negative PCR test.  Once widespread testing became adopted, the denominator – total number believed to be infected – became rapidly larger.  Some evidence has suggested furthermore that the virus has become relatively attenuated and less severe in its clinical impact – a development that would not be unusual for a pandemic virus.

It has become clear that IFR rates are far lower than initial projections and fears, which were derived from initial modeling data that proved to be orders of magnitude higher than reality.  Even as this reality was recognized, the basis for mitigation practices shifted from using IFR rates and hospitalization numbers as the primary determinant to sole reliance upon case number data.  There is reason to believe this is the opposite of what should be done.

This current case number fixation has created a world where on a daily basis, the number of reported cases is featured in headlines all over the country in newspapers, on internet posts, and shared on social media.  In one example, in early September, in the Greensboro, North Carolina newspaper, it was reported that a particular school where testing was done to monitor asymptomatic children, one child tested positive with the standard PCR based test procedure – and the school was immediately closed.  If the number of “cases” is inaccurate and wildly inflated – for which we will see below there is compelling evidence – then such school closings are unnecessary and counterproductive.  The same problem applies to other mitigation practices that are based exclusively upon case numbers.

It has been documented by Dr Scot Atlas, among others, that the number of deaths from mitigation for CoVID-19 has now significantly exceeded that from CoVID-19 itself.  This is attributed to increased rates of depression, suicide, drug overdoses, etc.  Further data have shown that excess total mortality rates comparing current with past years’ total mortality are not significantly higher than usual past rates.  This of course begs another question far too involved to discuss here – the possibility that part of the perception of the impact of CoVID-19 is based upon shifting usual numbers of deaths from influenza that are peculiarly lower than usual to a diagnosis of CoVID-19.  This in turn begs another question about the possible impact upon numbers of CoVID-19 deaths being inflated artificially because of the additional reimbursements to hospitals for CoVID-19 codes for hospitalizations and deaths.  But even assuming that putative deaths from CoVId-19 are not artificially inflated, deaths from mitigation for CoVID-19 has exceeded those from CoVID itself.

Four recent sources delve into the PCR testing phenomenon in detail and together make a compelling argument that the standard form of diagnostic testing for CoVID-19 – PCR – is, just as its discoverer Kary Mullis argued prior to his death in 2019, grossly inaccurate and should not be used for diagnosis.  Needless to say, this is a shocking suggestion, but I believe the evidence strongly supports this conclusion.  Now we will discuss briefly the basics about PCR testing and show why it is imperative that ongoing public health mitigation measures shift from using PCR case numbers to accurate, non-inflated data from hospitalizations and deaths caused by CoVID-19 – at least until an accurate testing process can be established for determining infectious case numbers.

Four primary sources from which the following points are made:

  1. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test by Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD and Medical Editor Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD Reviewed 6/22/20.
  2. Your Coronavirus Test is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be.  The New York Times. Apoorva Mandavilli.  August 29, 2020.
  3. Dr Ben Edwards explains Covid-19 Pandemic is OVER. Why now only the CASEdemic exists 9/3/20.
  4. Predicting Infectious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 From Diagnostic Samples, Jared Bullard, Kerry Dust, et al.  Clinical Infectious Diseases. 22 May 2020.

We will begin with an explanation of a complex subject – the rationale and scientific basis for the PCR technique, as applied to the prevailing diagnostic test being used in the United States, as well as most of the world.  It is essential to understand in order to draw valid conclusions about the significance or lack thereof, of the CoVID-19 PCR test.

Basics of PCR

PCR is a chemical reaction to identify tiny bits of DNA, the primary form of material in human genes which in turn comprise chromosomes.  Due to the infinitesimally small size of the particles, they must be amplified, or made exponentially larger in order to work with them.  This amplification process is what Kary Mullis discovered, and consists of multiplying sequentially by doubling the material present.  So, 2 becomes 4, then becomes 8, then 16, and so forth.

As noted, PCR multiplies DNA.  The genetic material that comprises the virus for CoVID-19, as well as most other viruses, is RNA, an even smaller particle.  It must be converted to DNA in order to utilize the PCR process.  This is accomplished by action of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase (RT) in the first of four steps involved in the process.  RT thus allows a single strand of RNA to be translated into a complementary strand of DNA.   The product of RT acting on RNA is called RT-PCR.

Another term is “Real-time PCR” – a variation of PCR that allows analysis of the amplified, or “multiplied” DNA during the typical number of 40 cycles.  Fluorescent dye is added in some techniques to facilitate interpretation and obtain test results more rapidly.

The ultimate end-point of a PCR test is a result that is being arbitrarily defined as “positive” or “negative.”  The extraordinary implications of this simple decision to frame results of the PCR testing as the basis for the entire “case numbers” tracking upon which virtually all public health measures are being based is almost incomprehensible.  Dr. Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health is quoted in the New York Times article above as saying that this oversimplified interpretation of PCR as positive or negative is “irresponsible.”   This relates to the following discussion of the amplification process, sometimes also referred to as cycles.  Dr. Mina is quoted in the Harvard Magazine (8/3/20) as saying that Current PCR testing detects virus “long after the infected person has stopped transmitting the virus.”  He further states “That means the results are virtually useless for public health efforts to contain the raging epidemic.” (emphasis added) […]

Via https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/covid-19-testing-pcr-a-critical-appraisal/

© Sept 14 2020 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

Inside the World Uyghur Congress: The US-Backed Right Wing Regime Seeking the “Fall of China”

While posing as a grassroots human rights organization, the World Uyghur Congress is a US-funded and directed separatist network that has forged alliances with far-right ethno-nationalist groups. The goal spelled out by its founders is clear: the destabilization of China and regime change in Beijing.

By Ajit Singh

The GrayZone

In recent years, few stories have generated as much outrage in the West as the condition of Uyghur Muslims in China. Reporting on the issue is typically represented through seemingly spontaneous leaks of information and expressions of resistance by Uyghur human rights activists struggling to be heard against a tyrannical Chinese government.

True or not, nearly everything that appears in Western media accounts of China’s Uyghur Muslims is the product of a carefully conceived media campaign generated by an apparatus of right-wing, anti-communist Uyghur separatists funded and trained by the US government.

A central gear in Washington’s new Cold War against China, this network has a long history of relationships with the US national security state and far-right ultra-nationalists.

At the heart of this movement is the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), an international Uyghur organization that claims to be engaged in a “peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic” struggle for “human rights.” The WUC considers China’s northwestern Xinjiang region to be East Turkestan, and sees its Uyghur Muslim inhabitants not as Chinese citizens but instead as members of a pan-Turkic nation stretching from Central Asia to Turkey.

As this investigation establishes, the WUC is not a grassroots movement, but a US government-backed umbrella for several Washington-based outfits that also rely heavily on US funding and direction. Today, it is the main face and voice of a separatist operation dedicated to destabilizing the Xinjiang region of China and ultimately toppling the Chinese government.

While seeking to orchestrate a color revolution with the aim of regime change in Beijing, the WUC and its offshoots have forged ties with the Grey Wolves, a far-right Turkish organization that has been actively engaged in sectarian violence from Syria to East Asia.

None of these links seem to have troubled the WUC’s sponsors in Washington. If anything, they have added to the network’s appeal, consolidating it as one of the most potent political weapons the US wields in its new Cold War against China.

The World Uyghur Congress, brought to you by the US government’s regime change arm

The WUC promotes itself as an “opposition movement against Chinese occupation of East Turkistan [sic]” that “represent[s] the collective interests” and is “the sole legitimate organization of the Uyghur people both in East Turkistan and abroad.”

Headquartered in Munich, Germany, the WUC is an international umbrella organization with a network of 33 affiliates in 18 countries around the world. The WUC and its affiliates — particularly the Uyghur American Association, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and Campaign for Uyghurs — are cited in nearly every Western media report on China’s Uyghur Muslims.

From its inception, the WUC has been backed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). With millions in US taxpayer money, the NED and its subsidiaries have backed opposition parties, “civil society” groups, and media organizations in countries targeted by the US for regime change.

Philip Agee, the late CIA whistleblower, described the work of the NED as a more sophisticated version of the old-fashioned covert operations that Langley used to engineer. “Nowadays,” Agee explained, “instead of having the CIA going around behind the scenes and trying to manipulate the process by inserting money here and giving instructions secretly and so forth, they have now a sidekick, which is this National Endowment for Democracy, NED.”

[…]

Via https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/05/world-uyghur-congress-us-far-right-regime-change-network-fall-china/

Experiments in Free Transit

Joshua DeVries

The Bullet

Among the few positive aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some localities have taken the impressive step of implementing free transit. Several cities in Ohio, including Akron, Canton, Toledo and Youngstown announced free fares as of March 16. Towns in Vermont and Nevada have done so as well.

Unfortunately, local officials are quite clear that these are only temporary for health purposes and will be reversed once it is “safe.”

Over the last several decades, though, many cities around the world have experimented with free transit. Free Public Transit editors Judith Delheim and Jason Prince collect a dozen-and-half essays of these stories written by activists, academics and journalists involved in the issue. Many cities have reduced or even given free fares for specific groups, generally the elderly or students. Delheim and Prince compile pieces on more political efforts.

The main part of the book consists of 15 articles of implementation and struggles around free transit in 14 cities or regions. (Two chapters are about Bologna, Italy.) Half of these are in Western Europe, three in Canada and the United States but the editors also include chapters on Brazil, Mexico and China.

The local chapters are bookended by four broader essays, two by the editors and two by a city development researcher. These provide some theoretical overviews and concrete proposals.

As is to be expected in a collection like this, some are more inspiring and well written than others. On the whole, it’s well worth reading for transit activists or any class-conscious activist considering projects that confront capital’s control of our lives, and are winnable on a local level […]

Via https://socialistproject.ca/2020/09/experiments-in-free-transit/

Was the Iron Curtain a US Psyops?

1949: One Year, Two Germanies

DW (1919)

Film Review

I found this documentary intriguing mainly because it contradicts nearly all the brainwashing I received in public school at the height of the anti-Soviet Cold War. Among other new facts I learned

  1. In the early post war period, there were socialist and communist Germans fleeing the Western zones (occupied by US, UK, and French military), as there were anti-Communists fleeing East Germany.*
  2. The Soviets and East Germans vigorously campaigned for a unified Germany, with Berlin as capitol. They were opposed by Western allies determined to create a separate West German state (presumably for the same reason the US insisted on creating two Koreas and two Vietnams – ie to enhance US control over the region).
  3. The East German Socialist Unity Party invited West German members to their first party conference, which was primarily concerned with lingering German antisemitism, ultra-nationalism and fascism.
  4. The East Germans blockaded trade to West Berlin (in the Eastern zone), when despite vigorous Soviet and East German opposition, the Allied occupiers created a separate West German currency (that threatened to collapse the East German economy). The blockade was lifted once West Germany adopted a constitution and elected a Parliament, president, and chancellor.**

*German communists and socialists were terrified of the new government of Allied occupied Germany, mainly owing to the brutal persecution they had received under the Third Reich (eg arrest, torture, extrajudicial assassination, and imprisonment in concentration camps).

**The Allies used the blockade to score a major propaganda coup, instituting an “airlift” of food and other consumer goods to West Berlin (with the implication that the East German government was depriving them of food and other necessities).