Friday, February 5, 2016

Bernie Sanders and the Global "Billionaire Class"


Bernie Sanders has called for the Saudis to take up the fight against ISIS, and for Muslim states to provide the ground troops for fighting ISIS. Well, according to the Guardian, the Saudis have just offered to do that, preferably together with Turkish forces. Little doubt but that will lead to an intense Sunni-Shia war -- the Saudis and the Turks vs. Assad and Iran. Bernie on foreign policy sounds a lot like Barack Obama did in 2008 -- he doesn't want to pull out, he wants to do this "smarter" and with "our allies" taking the lead. (Clinton will say much the same thing). This strategy worked pretty well in Afghanistan and Iraq, didn't it? I think that Sanders supporters need to ask the Senator whether he opposes the global dominance of what he calls "the billionaire class" -- because he sure seems to be advocating maintaining and defending their "interests".  Here's the Guardian piece.  Jack Gerson


Saudi Arabia offers to send ground troops to Syria to fight Isis

 
Saudi Arabia has offered for the first time to send ground troops to Syria to fight Islamic State, its defence ministry said on Thursday.

“The kingdom is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition (against Isis) may agree to carry out in Syria,” said military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri during an interview with al-Arabiya TV news.

Saudi sources told the Guardian that thousands of special forces could be deployed, probably in coordination with Turkey.

Both countries are committed to the removal of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad
, and have grave doubts about the prospects for a political settlement of the crisis without further military pressure on Damascus. Saudi Arabia and Turkey set up a military coordination body a few weeks ago...... Continue reading

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vector of Fear: Blacks and the Democratic Party

Excellent appraisal of the role the Democratic Party plays in relation to the black voter and how the Republican Party, the "Party of emancipation" is seen today. Glen Ford will be a special Guest in a forum Debating the 2016 Presidential Election in Oakland on Friday Feb 5th and San Francisco Feb 6th. For more information  Download a flier here.


This article is reprinted from Glen Ford's Blog on the Black Agenda Report

Submitted by Glen Ford on



by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Blacks in the South will probably not vote for Bernie Sanders, although they most resemble the “Scandinavian social democrats” of Sanders dreams. However, Black voters don’t express their politics through the ballot. Rather, “Blacks are drawn into the jaws of the Democratic Party, not by ideological affinity, but in search of protection from the Republicans.” It is the politics of fear.

Vector of Fear: Blacks and the Democratic Party

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“The Democratic Party oozes out of every orifice of Black civic society like a stinking pus, transforming every Black social structure and project into a Democratic Party asset.”
Bernie Sanders has succeeded in stalling the Clinton juggernaut in Iowa, and is expecting a resounding victory next week in New Hampshire. However, the euphoria will fade as his supporters confront the likelihood that their quest to transform the Democratic Party “from below” will be derailed in the South by Blacks, who are the decisive bloc, or outright majorities, in the region’s Democratic primaries, and who make up about a quarter of the Party’s support, nationwide. It is a great paradox that the Sanders campaign will almost certainly be rejected by the very voters whose fundamental political leanings are most closely aligned with the “Scandinavian social democratic” model on which Sanders has based his career.

Black voting behavior over the past two generations all but guarantees they will back the national Democratic candidate they perceive as most likely to defeat the Republicans – the “White Man’s Party.” White supremacy and the rule of capital in the U.S. are buttressed, electorally, by two pillars: 1) the bifurcation of the major party system into a White Man’s Party, whose organizing principle is white supremacy, and another party that is somewhat more inclusive of Blacks and other “minorities,” and 2) control of both parties by capital. For Blacks, the Democratic Party is a trap within a trap. If the overarching, perceived necessity is to block the Republican/White Man’s Party at every electoral juncture, then Blacks see no option but to huddle under the Democratic tent, despite the fact that it is, like the Republicans, a Rich Man’s Party.

“Fear turns Black politics on its head.”


It is a politics of fear, born of generations of raw terror at the hands of the White Man’s Party. The modern Democratic Party, like the post-Civil War Republican Party, is not a haven, but an enclosure, which Blacks fear to exit. At root, Black participation in the Democratic Party is not a matter of free allegiance, but the perception that there is no other effective means to hold back the barbarians of the White Man’s Party.

In practice, it is institutionalized group panic, a stampede every four years. Blacks are drawn into the jaws of the Democratic Party, not by ideological affinity, but in search of protection from the Republicans. This is an entirely different dynamic than an alignment based on thoughtful examination of political platforms. It’s not about picking a candidate or party that sees the world as most Black people do, from the left side of the spectrum, on matters of social justice and peace. Rather, the overarching objective is to choose a candidate from the Democratic wing of the Rich Man’s duopoly who is best equipped to defeat his or her Republican counterpart. Under these stilted circumstances, the Democratic candidate’s actual political positions become near-irrelevant to the Black primary voter, compared to the candidate’s perceived ability to win a national election. The question becomes, is the Democrat strong enough to beat back the latest offensive from the GOP? – which Black people perceive as an existential threat. In the grip of that mindset, the contestant that is richer, better connected to the party apparatus and more acceptable to masses of white voters is the better Black choice.

“The modern Democratic Party is not a haven, but an enclosure, which Blacks fear to exit.”


When the voter is seeking protection from what is seen as the greater, more racist evil, rather than searching for a candidate and party that takes positions more aligned with the Black political world view, independent politics goes out the window. Indeed, independent, leftist electoral campaigns can be viewed as a going AWOL from the fight, or worse, collaborating with the Republican enemy. Fear turns Black politics on its head. Since Black people are the most left-leaning constituency in the United States, the paradoxical nature of their behavior in national elections renders problematical the whole question of independent Left and Black electoral activity.

In 2008, Black voters did not support Dennis Kucinich, a more genuine social democrat and peace candidate than Bernie Sanders, or John Edwards, who kicked off his campaign in New Orleans and positioned himself significantly to the left of the ideological twins, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. About half of Black Democrats did not favor Barack Obama until he won white favor in Iowa, thus proving to Black voters that he could beat the Republicans. Blacks voted for Jesse Jackson in his 1984 and ’88 primary campaigns, but he opted out of an independent run for president, preferring to remain in the role of “power broker” within the Democratic enclosure. It’s not likely that Black voters would have supported Jackson in an independent race, anyway. When Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter from the Left, in 1980, his effort collapsed largely from lack of support from Black elected officials, who stuck with the Georgia peanut farmer even after he had shown himself to be a deeply conservative politician (a founding “neoliberal”) whose austerity policies opened the door to Ronald Reagan.

“About half of Black Democrats did not favor Barack Obama until he won white favor in Iowa.”


The Black Radical Tradition is real and enduring, but it is not expressed through participation in the Democratic Party. Rather, entrapment in the Democratic Party enclosure (within the larger Rich Man’s duopoly) grotesquely warps Black political behavior. This distortion profoundly diminishes the prospects for progressive electoral activity in the United States. More directly, the Black electoral imperative to seek protection from the Republican/White Man’s Party reduces African Americans to an appendage of the Democratic Party apparatus, and thus of the capitalists that fund and control the Party. It subverts the essentially progressive nature of the Black polity, objectively enfeebling Black America, even as rich white Democrats pander to Black voters as the “soul” of the party.

It is true that the Democrats would collapse were it not for the Black core of the party. It is also probable that that would be a good thing. What is certain is that the Democratic Party oozes out of every orifice of Black civic society like a stinking pus, sapping the self-determinist vitality of the people and transforming every Black social structure and project into a Democratic Party asset.

Black people – massed, organized, and fearless – shook this nation to its bones in the 1960s, before the Democratic Party achieved political hegemony in Black America; when there were less than two handfuls of Black congressional representatives and only some hundreds of Black Democratic officeholders to hold us back. Today, Democratic operatives attempt to smother the incipient Black grassroots movement in their lethal embrace – and some elements of that movement have eagerly hugged them back. The task of Black activists and their allies is to ensure that our first and last hope – movement politics – once again becomes central to the struggle, so that we can, as Dr. Cornel West puts it, “break the back of fear.” This will require the most intense internal struggle among Black Americans to break the chains that bind us to that vector of fear, the Democratic Party.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Green Party Presidential nominee Jill Stein arrested for demanding access to a debate. Sanders remains silent.

Jill Stein arrested for demanding access to mass media to promote her campaign for Presidential nominee for Green Party. Sanders the Democrat says nothing. 

Sean O'Torain.

A question for all Sanders supporters and this includes the SA the CWI section in the US. Jill Stein has just been arrested for the second time for insisting on her right to have access to the mass capitalist media to take part in the Presidential candidate debates here in the US. This is censorship and repression. I have not heard a word from Sanders on this issue. He should be opposing this censorship and repression. If he does not do so he is a hypocrite. He on occasion says that climate change is the number one issue but here he is staying quiet when the Green Party's best known leader is arrested. Sanders poses as being honest. If he does not speak out on this he is a hypocrite. But then the more Jill Stein and the Green Party gets coverage the more votes Sanders is in danger of losing. His silence on this is like his silence on Zionism and the slaughter of the Palestinian people.  Sounds like the same old dirty unprincipled politics to me. 

Public education, US infrastructure, victims of US wars and arms industry profits

Institutionalized racism affects the poorest sections of the working class most
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

As Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago School District move to layoff staff and increase pension contributions from teachers in an effort to trim $250 million from annual costs, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter wants to direct more money to the misnamed defense budget. The defense budget request for 2017 is $583 billion.

The money is needed to “tackle the challenges posed by Russia and China….” The Wall Street Journal reports. The Pentagon in demanding more money from the US taxpayer is taking, “The long view” Carter says. Defense officials, and more importantly the CEO’s of the arms industry, have become increasingly concerned that US military superiority is being threatened by the rise of China and Russia.

The idea that any country poses a threat to the US which is the most heavily armed nuclear power in the world and indeed, the history of humanity, is absurd. But the arms industry is a very profitable one unlike public education. “When you look at the numbers for the Chicago public schools, bankruptcy has to be an option that’s on the table. They are so broken,”, Bruce Rauner, the speculator, moneylender and investor who was elected governor of Illinois in 2014 tells the WSJ. Forest Claypool, another businessman and attorney, appointed CEO of Chicago public schools by Rahm Emanuel last year, is determined to right the wrongs in public education by further attacks, “I think we’re sending a very strong signal here that we are going to right the fiscal ship,” he says of the cuts to an already decimated system.

The school system is heading for the bond market appealing to investors for cash but capitalists don’t loan out capital for the benefit of society and their kids don’t go to public schools. So the investors are getting a little incentive as the school system is offering, “..new protections” and interest rates as high as 7.75% . This is as much as 5 percentage points above rates paid by states and cities with top credit rates according to the media. We can only guess what the “new protections” are but it is safe to say that it will be some sort of guarantee that the investors get the profits on interest while the losses are paid by the taxpayer. This is how sports stadiums are built.

These two items are connected, the massive expenditure on the military industrial complex and the savaging and literal destruction of US public education. Ash Carter wants to double the present $7.5 billion budget to fight ISIS as stockpiles are, “running low” and $1.8 billion is needed buy “45,000 bombs and rockets” . (WSJ).

The extra money for Europe is part of the long term goal of countering “Russian aggression” we are told. The US has warships in the Persian Gulf to deter Iranian aggression, it is called the “Persian Gulf” isn’t it? US warships are in the South China Sea to counter Chinese aggression and the US provocatively sends an aircraft carrier through a strait to let China know it is an international waterway which to my knowledge China has not denied. Perhaps a merchant ship might have been a better bet. The US has troops on the Russian border, supports fascists in the Ukraine and through 20 years of uninterrupted bombing and warfare in the Middle East has destroyed Iraq as a nation state and laid the basis for the rise of ISIS, many of the leaders of which are former allies of the Pentagon and friends of the CIA.

Russia’s Putin, a former KGB officer is certainly no friend of working people or democratic rights, and Russia, like any nation state, particularly a big one, has imperial interests. But in a recent forum he set straight a pompous mouthpiece of British capitalism who questioned him about Russia’s aggressive role in the world. The US has surrounded Russia, China and Iran with bases and for most people in the world, excluding Americans who have the most unfree and heavily censored mass media of all the advanced capitalist economic, it is sheer arrogance for US officials to talk of aggression from other nations.

US capitalism is under threat from Russia and China as emerging market economies it’s true. Capitalism is not a friendly system, it is a highly competitive one, Two world wars were fought over a struggle for the resources of the world and markets and millions of workers died fighting them. The world’s dominant imperialist power, Britain, was replaced by the US. Empires come and go. I remember once looking at the oceanfront in the northern English town of Morecombe; it had a Victorian look to it. It was clear to see that the architecture and style was a remnant of Britain’s imperial past. Once the factory of the world British capitalism now clings to the coattails of its American cousin; itself a declining power.

The decay we are seeing in our US cities, the crisis in education and the ongoing environmental disasters that are explained away as accidents or the result of cronies and decisions by individuals with bad moral character, are a product of a decaying system. The difference this time is the immense power of the weaponry science in the service of capitalism has developed. We are now capable of destroying life as we know it. Nuclear arms have, to a certain extent, deterred world wars but the never ending regional conflict has grown. I look at this video of Homs in Syria, a short plane ride from the affluence of the UAE or Saudi Arabia. I can only imagine what this life must do to children and all its victims. I took a train from Ankara to Baghdad in 1971. I went through northern Syria, northern Iraq, took a bus from Baghdad to Basra. People were good to me; they never threatened me. They were overwhelmingly Muslim. Islam isn’t the problem----capitalism and Imperialism is.

The ongoing regional conflicts and wars will continue, there is no end in sight if capitalism is not overthrown and replaced with a collective human society and economy. At some point, some force somewhere will obtain a nuclear device. Look at that video closely. How can anyone living through that not draw the conclusion that there’s no hope in this world and be drawn to all sorts of maniacal religious and other doctrines? All hope has gone.

We have pointed out on this blog that the US too can no longer afford “guns and butter”. Even in its most affluent period, that post WW2 era that created the material conditions for the so-called American Dream, the US could not provide economic security for millions of its citizens, could not provide butter for all. Today its infrastructure is crumbling, its education system is collapsing and higher education is being priced out of reach of millions. Wall Street, awash in cash, is demanding the return of the very loans that led to the Great Recession of 2007-08 as idle capital is lazy unproductive capital. The next crash is around the corner. The 1%’s media blame us for this. They blame the US working class, teachers, autoworkers, public sector workers of all types. The poor are to blame for their poverty. If it’s not us its foreigners, but the real enemy is at home, This is the propaganda of the 1%

If the American working and middle classes continue to place such a precious social service as public education in the hands of hedge fund managers and speculators. If we continue to tolerate and elect public officials from one of the Wall Street parties like Rauner in Illinois or the Democrat Emanuel in Chicago, whose business is the business of making money. If we continue to allow our wealth to be used to wage war on weaker nations supporting ruthless regimes that oppress their populations so that US corporations can rob the region of its resources, we have no future. Throughout the US and the world, workers, peasants, indigenous people, are rising up against the ravages of capitalism. Only the working class internationally can show a way out. Most industrial workers today reside in Asia. More than half of them are women. Despite this, capitalism will not be sent in to the garbage can of history without the involvement of the US working class, without us settling accounts with the US bourgeois.

We reside in the belly of the beast here.

From ZIRP to NIRP: the last throw of the dice

by Michael Roberts

The recent announcement of the Bank of Japan (BoJ) that it would introduce a negative interest rate (NIRP) for commercial banks holding cash reserves is the final admission that monetary policy supported by mainstream economics and implemented by central banks globally has failed.

The main economic policy weapon used since the global financial crash and the ensuing Great Recession to avoid another Great Depression of the 1930s has been zero interest rates (ZIRP), then ‘unconventional’ monetary measures or ‘quantitative easing (QE)’ (increasing the quantity of money supply to banks), all fixed to inflation targets of 2% a year or so.  ZIRP and a virtually unlimited supply of cash (QE) were supposed to kick-start the global economy into action, so that eventually capitalism and market forces would take over and achieve ‘normal’ and sustained economic growth and fuller employment.

But QE and ZIRP have failed to achieve their inflation (and growth) targets.  On the contrary, the major economies are close to deflation, as commodity and energy prices plunge and prices of goods in the shops and on the internet slide.  Deflation has its good and bad side.  Sure, it lowers the cost of many things but it also raises the real burden of debt repayments for those who borrow.  And if prices are falling continually, it breeds an unwillingness to spend or invest in the expectation that it will be cheaper to wait.  Deflation is a symptom of a weak economy, but also a cause of making it weaker.  Deflation can become a debt deflationary spiral.

So now we have NIRP.  It started with the Swiss, then the Swedes and more recently the European Central Bank and now the Bank of Japan.  Now about one-quarter of all interest rates are below zero!  And we have only just begun with this latest monetary tool.  BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda announced there is “no limit” to monetary easing and that he would invent new tools rather than give up his goal of 2 per cent inflation. “Going forward, if judged necessary, it is possible to cut the interest rate further from the current level of minus 0.1 per cent,” said Kuroda.  “The constraint of the ‘zero lower bound’ on a nominal interest rate, which was believed to be impossible to conquer, has been almost overcome by the wisdom and practice of central banks, including those of the Bank of Japan,……It is no exaggeration that [ours] is the most powerful monetary policy framework in the history of modern central banking,” he said.

The ‘wisdom’ of central banks – really?  ‘Most powerful’?  NIRP will fail in the same way that ZIRP and QE has.  Take Sweden.  There, the Riksbank, the central bank, has applied NIRP with zeal for some time.  What has been the result?  Inflation in the prices of goods and services has not returned.  Instead, cheap credit and penalties for holding cash (negative rates) have pushed banks into lending for property and stock market speculation, not productive investment. Swedish non-financial credit now stands are 281% of GDP, a rise of 25% on the pre-crisis peak and up from 212% a decade ago.  House prices have risen by a quarter nationally and 40% in Stockholm over the past three years, stretching earnings ratios to extremes (house prices are 11.7x earnings in the capital).

Far from curing deflation and restoring growth, NIRP will only exacerbate the sizeable debt burden that the major economies have built up in a desperate attempt to avoid a ‘Great Depression’ since 2009.  To bail out the banks and avoid a severe collapse in incomes and employment, governments borrowed hugely.  Sovereign debt, as it is called, rose to record post-1945 levels.  But the private sector, particularly the corporate sector, also expanded its debt.  Cheap central bank money flowed into the so-called emerging market miracle economies of Asia and Latin America.  But now they are in recession, leaving a debt burden to be serviced, mainly in appreciating dollars.

And as China and emerging economies slow or drop into a slump, the demand for exports from Europe, Japan and North America has slid away.  Take the European powerhouse, Germany. While Chinese exports only account for 6% of total German overseas sales, adding in Asia this rises to 10%.  That might still seem small, but is a potentially large drag on GDP where net trade has been contributing an average of 0.6% pts to the 1.5% pts of growth recorded over the last six years.
german exports
It’s a similar story in Japan.  The BoJ’s policy of ZIRP, QE and now NIRP has succeeded in weakening the yen against the dollar.  But it has failed to boost exports because most other Asian currencies have fallen too and now the Chinese yuan is under pressure.  Despite a 55% fall in the yen against the dollar in just three years of BoJ policy, there has been zero increase in export volumes.
japanese exports
Nevertheless, the dominant economic tool of the mainstream and major governments is still monetary policy, with its last stand in NIRP.  The US economy is still plodding along at about a 2% real growth rate, better than most and official unemployment has come down.  US Fed chief Janet Yellen claims to be confident that sustainable improvement in real GDP is here.  Yet all the recent economic data lend serious doubt to that forecast and the aim of the Fed to hike interest rates in 2016.  So there is even talk that the US Federal Reserve may adopt NIRP if everything goes pear-shaped in the US.

In its annual stress test of the US banks for 2016, the Fed said it will assess the resilience of big banks to a number of possible situations, including one where the rate on the three-month U.S. Treasury bill stays below zero for a prolonged period. “The severely adverse scenario is characterized by a severe global recession, accompanied by a period of heightened corporate financial stress and negative yields for short-term U.S. Treasury securities”, the central bank said in announcing the stress tests last week.  New York Fed President William Dudley said last month that policy makers were “not thinking at all seriously of moving to negative interest rates. But I suppose if the economy were to unexpectedly weaken dramatically, and we decided that we needed to use a full array of monetary policy tools to provide stimulus, it’s something that we would contemplate as a potential action.” 

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said that foreign central banks that had resorted to negative interest rates to stimulate their economies had been more successful than he anticipated.It’s working more than I can say I expected in 2012,” he told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “Everybody is looking at how this works,” he added. Working well?  Really?  Sweden?

Radical Keynesian, Richard Koo summed up the NIRP option as “an act of desperation born out of despair over the inability of quantitative easing and inflation targeting to produce the desired results… the failure of monetary easing symbolizes crisis in macroeconomics”. RichardKoo_2Feb2016-1

As I have shown before in a previous post, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes also gave up on monetary policy.  Having advocated lowering interest rates and ‘unconventional’ monetary easing, he eventually concluded that it was not working and moved onto to fiscal policy – in essence more government spending. This is also the answer for Koo.

Keynes in the 1930s was disappointed that governments, particularly the US and the UK, did not adopt his policy of deficit financing and government spending, let alone his more radical suggestion of the ‘socialisation’ of investment to replace the failure of capitalists to invest.  And modern Keynesians like Paul Krugman, Larry Summers, Simon Wren-Lewis or Brad Delong, while promoting monetary easing big time since 2008, have increasingly become disillusioned and joined Richard Koo in advocating fiscal spending to avoid ‘secular stagnation’ and deflation.  What puzzles the Keynesians is why governments, as in the 1930s, will not go down this road.

For the Keynesians, running up debt (public sector debt) is not a problem: one man’s debt and is one woman’s credit is the argument.  But debt does matter, as I have argued in previous posts.  Debt must be serviced and repaid by real production: money does not come out of nothing forever.  The corporate sectors of China, Asia, Brazil, Russia and Europe are finding that out now.  Deficit financing and rising public debt will not kick-start an economy that has low profitability and high corporate debt.  And in near deflationary economies, there is a real burden in servicing that debt.
Monetary policy has failed; NIRP will not work.  But neither will a more radical Keynesian deficit financing plan.  Both fail to recognise that it is profits versus the cost of capital and debt that sets the pace of economic expansion or contraction in a capitalist economy.

Globally, corporate profits have been falling and in the major economies even the largest companies are seeing falling earnings and sales.  In the US, 43% of the top 500 companies have reported their financial results for the last quarter of 2015.  On average, sales were down 2.5% over the end of 2014 and profits were down 3.7%.  In Europe, 17% of the top 600 companies have reported and sales were down 6.5% and earnings 11.7%.  In Japan, 45% of the top 225 companies reported a fall in sales of 2.5% and profits down 9.3%.

A new round of ‘creative destruction’ is coming globally and ZIRP, QE and NIRP will not stop it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Flint and beyond. Build a broad direct action movement against the 1%


Third world country?  No, a residents water pipe in Flint. Source, WSJ
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

In response to the poisoning of the city’s water supply in order to pay for US capitalism’s corporate wars, Flint’s city officials have added a chemical in order to stop the lead from leaking through pipes and in to the drinking water. What chemical and the effect it has on the human or any other organism, this writer cannot say. It’s sort of like spraying oil spills with chemicals to make us safe. Does it though?

One of the motivations for this exercise is that lead levels in the water supply have to fall below 15 parts per billion that water systems must test at or the federal government is compelled to take further steps it wants to avoid, the worst being installing a completely new system and removing contaminated lines.

The tests which are “not scientific” according to reports in the media, were samples local residents handed over to the state. Last month there were “More than 30 test results above 150 parts per billion..” according to the Wall Street Journal.  But there were some that came in at thousands of parts per billion, says Mona Hanna Attisha the Pediatrician that helped expose this catastrophe. More here  and here.  Like all environmental disasters, we will not know the extent of the damage to the children of Flint until it manifests itself, much like the affects of the BP spill in the gulf.

As I write this, I read in a three by inch and a half column in the Wall Street Journal, that one of the criminals responsible for another market driven environmental catastrophe in West Virginia has received 3 years probation and been fined $10,000. Robert Reynolds was an environmental consultant at Freedom Industries and was in charge of environmental compliance when the chemical agent MCHM, used for cleaning coal, was leaked in to the Elk River. Residents in nine counties could not drink, bathe in or wash anything in tap water for almost two weeks.

We need to remind ourselves that here in the US there are literally hundreds of thousands of working class and poor people, a disproportionate number of them people of color, languishing in US prisons for petty crime, offenses like smoking and possessing pot, stealing a car or perhaps some items form Macy’s, some even stole food. These are overwhelmingly people that capitalism has abandoned and who would undoubtedly choose other paths were the options open to them. They never poisoned and entire river or city.

Some time ago, a major US journal of the 1% described the dilapidated US social structure as the “Third Deficit”.  It is worse today.  But as it continues to decline, total debt in the US hits $17 trillion, $12 trillion of that private debt. And today I read the Pentagon is seeking more funding for our military presence in Europe. It is not unlikely that at some time we will witness a revolt among the European working class against US capitalism’s destabilizing role on that continent, supporting Fascists in the Ukraine, provoking the Russians and other activity. The US driven Middle East wars has forced millions to flee north to escape the carnage and most European workers are aware of this, that this is at the root of the refugee problem.  Even the staunchly pro-Zionist French are getting impatient with the Zionist regime and its US backers.

Back home, we will be asked to sacrifice more for this aggression that the corporate controlled media in the US refers to as spreading freedom and defending the American way of life. And what freedoms and way of life are they talking about defending? The right to pollute our rivers or the Gulf of Mexico and get away with it?  The right to drive wages and working conditions down to third world levels? The right to imprison two million people because capitalism refuses to provide fruitful work and a secure existence for more and more people?  The social and economic conditions that prevail in the urban ghettos, the Native American Reservations and places like West Virginia?  For those of us still with jobs and homes, keeping what we have is becoming more difficult and more stressful as the crisis of capitalism intensifies.

We can charter a different course.  We have the resources and the money.  Billions is being spent electing candidates for office from one of the two Wall Street Parties.  The trillions spent in the predatory wars and aggressive foreign policy to defend corporate profits abroad is not under threat from these candidates.  Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders talks of billionaires and raising taxes on them, but never talks about changing the system that perpetuates this. He refuses to point to the trillions of dollars spent on aggressive and hostile wars that have nothing to do with defending the US and our way of life because he supports US foreign policy and as a Zionist does not condemn Israel’s racist policies and ethnic cleansing. The US is armed to the teeth. Any country with thoughts of invading the US would be committing mass suicide and all countries know it.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties are funded and backed by Wall Street.  The answer to Flint’s problems is a massive social infrastructure spending program to rebuild our cities, our parks, our transportation system ( a mass transit system has to be the alternative to autos). Millions of jobs can be created through this investment which can be paid for by taxes on the rich and by ending all wars and occupations. I remember my dad telling me how the US built a liberty ship a day during the war. He was in prison camp with Americans and loved had great respect for America and its productive power. Well, we're at war now only it against others who call themselves Americans, the few thousand billionaires and their system. Conditions that exist in Flint and throughout the US are a product of an economic system in decay.

Dominant industries that produce the necessities of life in any civilized society must be taken in to public ownership and run by the workers in these industries in combination with the communities that they serve and in which they are situated. Food production, education, health care, transportation, energy, all these industries are vital to our survival and cannot be run by a gang of hedge fund managers and billionaires whose sole goal is to accumulate wealth, to ensure and maximize shareholder value, human need and the environment is an obstacle to this.  

We are held hostage by the media that is owned by the same gang that owns the other industries. They produce garbage, 200 channels of it on TV and more crap films in Hollywood. They produce violent video games in partnership with the US military that damage our children as it prepares them for war,  and we have no say in any of this. They all sit on each other’s boards or are connected through numerous networks. They meet in Jackson Hole Wyoming, the Bohemian Grove in CA and other places we will never be allowed to enter where they discuss strategy and how they can best govern society in their own interests and the environment be damned.

While they have differences among themselves over how best to govern, over what is the most efficient and stable means by which to reap profits, they are united in their war against the working people of this country and the world.  The US became a world power on the backs of the auto industry in and around Flint and Detroit. It became a wealthy country, after its genocidal war against the Native population and through the importation of Europe’s poor that filled the textile factories of New England and the coalmines of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and the South. Through one of the most barbaric systems in modern history, US capitalism paid no wages to some 4 million Africans for 300 years and on the backs of the exploited it entered the world stage and replaced the once great British Empire as the world’s most powerful economic and military power.

These are the forces and system we are dealing with.  We are taught to be patriotic, to love our country. All nation states do this but it is a trick. The America of Rick Snyder, Warren Buffet, Michael Bloomberg the former mayor of NYC worth some $30 billion and others like them is not our America.  We love our home turf, our back yard in a different way.  For the 1%, they’d live anywhere if the profits demanded it; they do live everywhere.

There are activists throughout the country being forced to fight back by necessity, from the folks in Flint to Lafayette Colorado and Oklahoma where people are fighting Fracking, to Chicago and other cities where residents are fighting back against gentrification. There are indigenous struggles against poverty and destruction of Native lands. In Porter Ranch California, the residents of this more affluent community have been driven from their homes due to a gas leak that has forced the governor to declare a state of Emergency. Black youth and their allies are fighting back against police brutality, women against gender discrimination. There are struggles everywhere taking place in isolation in the main.

Activists in these communities must connect to each other, must link up as part of the process of building an alliance against 1% and their austerity agenda. Part of this activity must be appealing to the rank and file in the unions in their effort to throw out their present pro business leadership. A wider movement must be built and out of this movement on the ground, a movement armed with direct action tactics, political candidates independent of the two Wall Street parties can emerge and begin the process of building a party of working people and the middle class that can challenge the dictatorship the Republicans and Democrats have over political life. Those of us on this blog would like to be part of this, would support such a movement but at this point our greatest resource is this blog.

This in not that period in history that gave rise to the idea of the American Dream; it is the period of the American Nightmare for all but a few billionaires. We will be forced to liberate ourselves form the distractions their media places before us but better not to wait until we are forced by necessity to act, we owe it to our children to act before that point and their future is denied them.

We can't rely on lawyers or the courts to defend us. The people in this nation of ours need to raise our expectations.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Flint is not alone. Rick Snyder, Marathon Petroleum, criminal poisoners

The environmental crisis is not a local or national one, it is an international crisis, a capitalist crisis and we must treat it as such.
Flint water: the free market at work

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

“The governor cares deeply about all communities,”, David Murray, a spokesperson for Michigan governor Rick Snyder wrote in an e mail to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Snyder’s mouthpiece was not responding to probes about his criminal role in poisoning the population of Flint.  Flint is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the environmental catastrophe’s that are becoming more widespread and difficult to obscure as communities throughout the country are forced out of necessity to confront the issue.

Residents of Flint who have been “…drinking and bathing in lead contaminated water for more than a year…” as Business Week put it, are not alone when it comes to the nation or the state of Michigan.

Marathon Petroleum, with a board of 15 corporate officers composed of 14 Euro-American males and one Euro-American woman reflecting the incredible diversity and melting pot that is the Unites States of America, is appealing to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for permission to increase by 22 tons its emission of sulfur dioxide from its refinery in Detroit. The company presently spews 250 tons of sulfur dioxide in to the air annually.

Residents of the area have been fighting back but are not getting much help from the state; “Before Flint, it was us, the downriver communities, that were and are being polluted,” local activist and resident Theresa Landrum tells BW. Marathon of course blames federal regulations for forcing it to increase its pollution rights. Detroit, has the privilege of having the highest “rate of childhood asthma among the country’s 18 largest cities.”, according to a study published by Johns Hopkins University in December.  This community known by many simply as 48217, is one of the most polluted zip codes in the US.



“Government failed you. You deserve better.”, Snyder said in his Michigan State of the State address on January 19th in reference to the poisoning of Flint residents who are overwhelmingly working class, poor and over 50% African American.  Government did indeed fail the residents of Flint.  The US government is failing the entire US working class. We can expect no less as it is not, as Snyder implies in his quote above, a government that represents “all communities”.  What Snyder wants, is increased privatization and private sector influence over the public domain. As a representative of a section of the ruling class, the capitalist class, it’s not big government in general that he wants to eliminate. Snyder, and the entire political establishment to one degree or another, wants to eradicate any gains the organized US working class has made over the past 150 years. This is true of economic gains but also political concessions won from the state like unemployment insurance, state parks, public services and environmental regulations as weak as they are.

Any legislative gains we have made have generally already been won in the streets through some form of direct action. The politicians of the 1% then write them in to law, codify them and take credit for these advances in human rights as they begin from the moment the ink is dry to dismantle them. “You see, the system works”.

The attacks on and obsession with “big government” by right wing capitalist politicians like Snyder are a con game. We are taught that government, or what is also known as the state apparatus, is an independent body, an institution in society that serves all members of that society. But a slave state or government under a slave system doesn’t represent that slave does it?  A feudal state doesn’t represent the serf or peasant.  Ancient Greece was a democracy, but it was a slave owner’s democracy. The slaves had no rights.

The state has class content just like a political party. The state in our system represents, defends, and broadens when it can, the interests of capitalists, people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg who’s worth $30 billion and Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, who is in the business of capital accumulation not sports as entertainment. The Democratic Party is funded and represents the economic interests of these people and their class as does the Republican Party. They own the means of production, the media and the state in our instance is, as Marx pointed out, simply the executive board of the capitalist class as a whole.

This is why the situation in Flint could reach such levels. This is why the government officials responsible for regulating deep water drilling like BP’s catastrophic venture in the Gulf of Mexico, allowed the energy companies to write their own rules. This is why a river was poisoned in West Virginia and bottled water had to be brought in and a school was placed next to a fertilizer plant in West Texas filled with explosive material that eventually blew up and took a section of the town with it. Fortunately there were no children in the school.

The capitalist class is concerned about this situation. They are worried about the infrastructure in the US as decent roads, transportation, canals and other infrastructure, that are crucial to business and capital accumulation, deteriorate. They are concerned about the potential for social upheaval if things do not improve, if the attacks on the living standards of the US working class are not tempered, the police violence, against workers and the poor, and disproportionally directed at the black population and other people of color is not curtailed.

But they are driven by the laws of the system to take this path as the rise of China and Russia since the collapse of Stalinism and the increased globalization that has accompanied it leaves them no alternative. The US capitalist class and its government slaughters more Americans than ISIS, al Qaeda, or all the so named terrorist groups combined.

Apart form that, the formation of these terrorist organizations are a direct result of US capitalism’s foreign policy. The refugee problem in Europe is a product of US foreign policy. The reason immigrants below our southern border come north is a direct result of US foreign policy in that region, a centuries old policy. The political representatives of the US 1% from Cheney to the Clintons, Kerry, Obama have all pursued these policies and Bernie Sanders, unless he breaks from the Democratic Party and forms an independent left working class alternative, will continue to pursue them.

But the environmental crisis is reaching a point of no return. Not only with regards to industrial pollution like we are reading about in Flint, Detroit, and the gas leak in Porter Ranch CA where a state of emergency has been declared. The entire planet is under siege. We have no real idea of the extent of the damage caused by the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the horrific nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima Japan. As I have stated many times before, what worker would, if we had political power, place four nuclear reactors next to the ocean in a region known as the “Ring of Fire” due to its seismic activity? We would not do that.

ISIS and all the other “foreign” threats to our way of life that appear almost annually, are no threat at all when compared to our domestic enemies. The US bourgeois are the most ruthless animals. It is not because they’re “American”, its because they are capitalists and belong to the most powerful capitalist class and nation state in history. They have been weakened and their influence curtailed somewhat with the rise of China especially, but they are armed to the teeth and a wounded animal is a dangerous one.

It is our interests as American workers to separate ourselves from this class. They are not my Americans, the people I have lived among and worked with for 40 years. They are my class enemy. The US 1% has no problem associating with and making deals with all sorts of scum as long as they profit from it. They embrace the Saudi’s and will embrace the Iranian Mullah’s as long as they allow them to loot their resources and hold down any resistance to it which they do with US arms and money. It is no wonder the US public debt stands at $12 trillion and if money the government owes itself is included $17 trillion.

But the environmental crisis is global and will reach a point of no return. There are already entire areas that are uninhabitable. The “dead zone” of about 150 miles in to the Gulf of Mexico from the mouth of the Mississippi has no life. I think it has increased since the BP spill.

The capitalist economic and political system cannot resolve the environmental problem. Capitalism cannot end wars, it cannot feed billions of people or deliver safe water to people in much of the globe, former colonial possessions snow imperialized countries. As we are witnessing, it cannot guarantee safe drinking water to citizens in the most powerful capitalist country in the world.

If capitalism is not overthrown and replaced with a democratic socialist economic system, a planned system of production that produces for human needs, not profit and personal gain of a few, and done so in harmony with not in conflict with the natural world, the end of life as we know it will become a reality.

If anything should motive people to begin to understand the historical struggles of forces that brought us this far, to involve themselves in some form of resistance to the power of the capitalist class and its government, it is that we have children.  We owe it to our children to struggle in the best way we can to offer them a future, to oppose racism, nationalism, sexism and other ways that we are divided. To fight for control over our work lives and for changes in the way we produce energy, build our communities, and live our lives.

Just consider the statement above from one of the US 1%’s own publications-----which stresses that there are concerns and divisions opening up between them-----that the people of Flint, a town of 100,000 people, have been, “…drinking and bathing in lead contaminated water for more than a year…” , and this was a conscious decision made by politicians through their political parties.

This is not a time for restraint.

Previous blog on Flint here
On the Southern Ca gas leak here.
West Texas explosion

Check labels to right for further reading

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Holocaust survivors condemn Zionism and slaughter of Palestinians. Sanders?

Sean O'Torain.

It is very important when discussing and considering events in Israel to separate Zionism from the Israeli state and its policies and the backing of these policies by US imperialism. We draw attention to this by printing the letter below from Holocaust survivors which is sponsored by the International Jewish anti Zionist Network. 

In doing so we would like to ask members of the left group Socialist Alternative (SA) and its International associates in the Committee For a Workers International (CWI) who read our Blog to compare the position here of the International Anti Zionist Network and of the survivors of the Holocaust who signed this letter, to that of the pro Zionist Sanders whom they support. And it should be compared to the refusal of the SA and the CWI to confront Sanders on his pro Zionist position. 

The position of the SA in relation to Sanders and the Zionist policies of the Israeli government is a disgrace, it is at best pure opportunism, a position adopted in order not to complicate its relations with Sanders and his supporters. There must be an open struggle within the SA and the CWI on these and its other opportunist policies or this organization will no longer be able to be considered a revolutionary socialist organization. Below is a report on the position taken by these survivors of the holocaust. It is much better than any taken by the SA.

"Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors have signed a letter, published as an advertisement in Saturday's New York Times, condemning "the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza" and calling for a complete boycott of Israel. According to the letter, the condemnation was prompted by an advertisement written by Elie Wiesel and published in major news outlets worldwide, accusing Hamas of "child sacrifice" and comparing the group to the Nazis. The letter, signed by 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors and sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, accuses Wiesel of "abuse of history" in order to justify Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip: "…we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water."

The letter also blames the United States of aiding Israel in its Gaza operation, and the West in general of protecting Israel from condemnation.

"Genocide begins with the silence of the world," the letter reads.

The letter ends with a call to bring the blockade of Gaza to an immediate end, and for a full boycott of Israel. "Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!," the letter concludes.

Full text of letter:

"Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza."

"As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world."

"We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia."

 "Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water."

 "We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!"

For full list of the letter's signatories, click here to read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.612072?v=AEFD5464BDA3D0E3979C9DEC9DF9A9B5

Friday, January 29, 2016

The global GDP story

by Michael Roberts

There was a batch of economic data out today that confirmed that the global economic expansion since the end of the Great Recession in mid-2009 was in trouble.  The ‘recovery’ since then has already been the weakest since the 1930s.

Now data for the last quarter of 2015 from major capitalist economies showed that economic growth, as measured by real GDP growth, was slowing.  In preliminary figures for the US economy, the most important and fastest growing of the major economies, in Q4 2015, real GDP rose only at a 0.7% annual rate, sharply down from the 2% pace recorded from Q3 2015.  That meant the US economy had expanded in real terms (after inflation is deducted) by 2.4% in 2015, the same rate as in 2014.  But the worrying sign was that in Q4 2015, the yoy rate was only 1.8%, virtually the same rate as the UK economy achieved in that last quarter.
US GDP
And the prospects for 2016 are probably worse.  Earlier this week, figures for US durable goods orders, a measure of future investment purchases by America’s companies, showed a fall of 4.3% in December, making a 7.5% drop over the year.
US durables
Indeed, the real GDP figures released today showed that business investment contracted at a 1.8% annual pace, the first quarterly fall for over two years.  In 2015, investment rose only 2.9%, the slowest rate since 2010.  And it’s investment that drives a capitalist economy not consumption, as I have argued ad nauseam on this blog.
US bus inv
And earlier this week, we got the figures for the next fastest growing major capitalist economy, the UK.  In the last quarter of 2015, UK real GDP grew at just a 0.5% rate (even slower than the US) and the slowest rate for three years.  For 2015 as a whole, real GDP rose 2.2% down from 2.9% in 2014. Moreover, the economy was only larger by 1.9% in the last quarter – a sign that economic expansion was weakening.  Most significant was that while UK real GDP has moved above its pre-crisis peak that is only because British population has risen, with the influx of migrants from mainly eastern Europe.  Real GDP per head is virtually the same as it was in 2o08, eight years ago!
UK GDP
And the UK’s growth is led by an expansion in ‘services’.  Manufacturing has been contracting.  The main sector for growth has been in the financial and business services around the City of London.  A new financial crash would soon put that in jeopardy

In the Eurozone, the situation remains worse than in the US and the UK.  Spain has been recovering and recorded a 0.8% rise in the last quarter of 2015, led by ‘services’ and property.  But the French economy is staggering along with just a 0.2% rise, thus achieving a growth rate of just 1.3% in 2015.  The forecast at the beginning of 2015 was for 1.5%.  The IMF forecasts 1.6% for this year.  That must be in doubt.  As for Germany, the forecast for the last quarter is for little or no growth.

And then there is Japan.  Remember a few years ago, we were told that the new prime minister Abe had a plan to get the Japanese economy going through a mixture of monetary injections (quantitative easing), fiscal stimulus (government spending) and neo-liberal labour market reforms.  Keynesian economists like Paul Krugman and Noel Smith were very keen on ‘Abenomics’ as confirmation of the efficacy of Keynesian policy, especially as it would include a depreciation of the yen’s value to boost exports and growth.

Well, today the Bank of Japan announced that it was going to introduce a ‘negative deposit rate’ for banks keeping cash with it.  In effect, it would penalize Japanese banks for keeping excess cash with it.  This is a desperate attempt to kick-start the economy and a major admission that current ‘Keynesian’ policies had dismally failed.  Real GDP is crawling along and real household spending is falling, down 4.4% in December from a year ago while industrial production is contracting 1.4% yoy.
japan-household-spending
The BoJ acted just a day after one of the key architects of Abenomics. Akira Amari, was forced to resign as economy minister following allegations that he and his aides received bribes from a construction company.

The rest of Asia is slowing down too.  We all know about China where growth has slowed to its slowest rate in a decade.  But Taiwan also announced that its economy barely grew in 2015.  Elsewhere, energy producer, Canada is in a ‘technical recession’, two quarters of contraction in real GDP and as reported before, the large so-called emerging economies of Brazil, Russia and South Africa are in deep slumps.

And another large emerging economy, tied closely to the US, Mexico also produced real GDP data that showed a slowdown in the last quarter of 2015 to 0.6% from 0.8% in Q3.  Overall, Mexico grew 2.5% in real terms in 2015, slightly down from a weak 2.6% in 2014.

Is a new global recession impending?  A bunch of mainstream and leftist Keynesian economists were asked their opinion by the UK’s Guardian newspaper.  As far as I can read it, only one was forthright that a global recession was coming, although this was Albert Edwards who has been forecasting this for six years and even now when the recession was coming was not specified.  The others hedged and fudged and were unable to get off the picket fence.

My position has been it is the job of economics to make forecasts just like any other science, even if that is much more difficult with social sciences where human decision-making is involved.  But just like weather forecasting, your forecasts will be only as good as your theoretical foundations and empirical research.  Based on Marx’s laws of motion under capitalism, profitability, debt and investment are key indicators of boom or slump.  On those indicators, as I have argued in previous posts, a global recession is coming.

And as I argued at the beginning of this year, the timing of that has got much closer; maybe this year, but probably by the end of 2017 at the latest.

FBI release video of Lavoy Finicum kiling

This was originally published by the Free Thought Project

Burns, OR — The FBI just released video footage taken from a surveillance craft of the killing of Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum. The footage clearly shows Finicum with his hands up and not charging at any officers, as has been alleged in numerous media accounts, but making movements that law enforcement claim to have interpreted as him reaching for a loaded firearm contained in his pocket.
The footage was shot from an FBI plane flying above the strategic ambush on Tuesday that ended with the shooting of Finicum, one of the spokesmen for the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The video was shown during an FBI press conference in Harney County held by Oregon FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing.

The intense footage reveals Finicum attempted to swerve to avoid a roadblock, with him ditching the vehicle onto its side in an attempt not to hit an agent who jumped out in front of the speeding truck. At this point, the truck becomes stuck in a snow bank. Finicum can then be seen exiting the vehicle with his arms raised above his head, he then makes a movement that the authorities claim was an attempt to reach for a 9mm weapon on his person, but which could also be interpreted as him attempting to open his coat to reveal his waistline or even him being shot and clutching at his wounds.

The footage reveals that when OSP shot Finicum, he wasn’t actually facing the officer that he was shot by, as he appeared to turn back toward the vehicle and it’s occupants who were being flash banged by the law enforcement. Two agents had him bracketed in a cross-fire position when he was gunned down, with one coming out of the woods after having been lying in wait for the planned ambush.

There was certainly no firefight, as alleged by nameless law enforcement sources, and Finicum had no weapon in hand when he was shot. What is clear is that Finicum was gunned down in the snow and left to die, sprawled out in the cold with his hands up, without being rendered any medical aid.
Finicum, a foster parent and rancher, was killed after being stopped by the FBI and state police, as he drove in a two-car convoy – including occupation leader Ammon Bundy – while driving to a meeting with a county sheriff.

Bretzing said that the video showed Finicum getting out of the car and reaching for his waist, and showed that he “made a movement” and reached his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket. Bretzing said Finicum had a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket.

“Actions have consequences,” Bretzing said. “As the video clearly shows it was a reckless action that resulted in consequences you have seen here today.” However, Bretzing would not say whether Finicum had pulled or even partially pulled a gun out of his pocket.

Regardless of how reckless Finicum’s actions may have been, the man was not holding a weapon when he was shot and the loss of life was not necessary in this situation. Whether the agents truly feared for their lives in the midst of a fast-paced assault, or simply gunned Finicum down out of a combination of adrenaline and fear will remain speculation.