Monday, September 27, 2021


“We will not tolerate that. That is inhumane. That is not American,” Patrick Brutus, president of Haitian American Professional Network, told a Chicago crowd Sunday. -- Sun-Times

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team." -- Rolling Stone

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

[Afghani] Women must be able to work, girls must be able to have all levels of education, and, at the same time, to cooperate with the international community fighting terrorism in an effective way. So, we need to engage. We don't know how things will develop, but we know that if we don't engage, they will probably go in the wrong direction. -- UN News

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley

"In the words of Robert Nesta Marley, who will get up and stand up?”
“If we can send people to the moon, and, as I’ve said over and over, solve male baldness,” she riffed, then other issues, too, can certainly be addressed. -- Speech to UN General Assembly

Chicago's new public schools CEO, Pedro Martinez

On the contentious relationship between Mayor Lightfoot and the CTU:

I am not naïve. I know there are some political divides that run very deep. But when it comes to, for example, the safety of our children, our children being in school in person, our schools being safe, there has to be common ground there. -- Sun-Times

 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claims he will end rape

Chris Wallace to Gov. Abbott: "In 2019, which is the last year that we have numbers for, almost 15,000 cases of rape were reported in your state of Texas...Is it reasonable to say to somebody who is the victim of rape and might not understand that they are pregnant until six weeks, 'Well, don't worry about it because we're going to eliminate rape as a problem in the state of Texas?'" -- Fox News

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Biden's U.N. speech: A bunch of malarkey

Even while he was preparing to unleash AUKUS, the new white, Anglo-speaking front to contain and confront China with nuclear warships, Pres. Biden tried to play the pacifist in his first address to the U.N. General Assembly. 
"Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed by the force of arms,” he said. “Bombs and bullets cannot defend against COVID-19 or its future variants.”
I've got this quote stashed away for use in future blog posts. 

American nuclear sub in the South China Sea

Biden's speech was meant to distance himself from the previous guy and to prop up this country's fading global image in the wake of U.S. foreign policy disasters involving the pandemic, global warming, and budding cold war with China. 

But it failed on all counts and with the botched withdrawal (I call it, repositioning) of troops from Afghanistan -- which included the drone missile attack which killed a family of 10, including small children -- still fresh in their minds, it was met with skepticism on the part of many attendees.   

And why not? Biden wasn't about to come clean about his provocative, self-destructive, imperialist strategic shift away from the "war on terror" and towards cold war with China. 

Also fresh in the minds of many, especially those representing former colonial and neo-colonial nations, were graphic scenes from the U.S. border with border patrol horsemen whipping and rounding up Haitian refugees for mass deportation.

But Biden swore to the incredulous delegates: 

“We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs.” 

As Biden himself might say, what a bunch of malarkey!

Notably, he didn’t utter the word “China” once in his 34-minute address. He didn't have to. Everyone knows who AUKUS is aimed at. 

It was left to the straight-shooting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to set things straight. 

"We need to re-establish a functional relationship between the two powers,” he said, calling that “essential to address the problems of vaccination, the problems of climate change and many other global challenges that cannot be solved without constructive relations within the international community and mainly among the superpowers.” 

And then this daunting reminder. 

“We are on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction,” Guterres said. “I’m here to sound the alarm. The world must wake up."

Monday, September 20, 2021


Hundreds of Haitian migrants are being rounded up and deported from the US. The large-scale expulsion involves several daily flights and a show of force at the border, while Haiti faces economic and political crises.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
"We need to re-establish a functional relationship between the two powers,” he said, calling that “essential to address the problems of vaccination, the problems of climate change and many other global challenges that cannot be solved without constructive relations within the international community and mainly among the superpowers.” -- AP
BREAKING: An enormous gathering of journalists in Washington, DC today was orderly and peaceful, and a few Justice for J6  protestors showed up.

 Aaron Schneider

As a result, the US continues its embargo, causes unnecessary suffering to the Cuban people, fails to produce change, and turns the US (not Cuba) into an international pariah in conflict with its own allies. -- Aljazeera 

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti

Rich countries worry about booster shots. They should be worried about Africa. -- New York Times

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Biden's strategic shift towards China brings us ever closer to war

V.P. Kamala Harris was sent to South China Sea last month to try and push Singapore and Vietnam into an anti-China front. But her offer was rejected by both. 

The new Cold War with China, begun under Trump and now escalating under Biden, once again pushes us closer to the nuclear abyss. How close are we? So close that according to a new book “Peril,” by the Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so consumed with fear that former President Donald Trump might launch “rogue” conventional or nuclear strikes against China, he acted twice to prevent it. 

Trump's defeat brought hope to many around the world that Biden and the Democrats would break from Trump's anti-China saber-rattling, trade-war policies and shift towards repairing the breach and lowering the temperature. These hopes have grown more desperate during the global pandemic as the growing cold war now includes vaccine wars

Instead, Biden has doubled down on Trump's policies and seems bent on provoking a military confrontation in the South China Sea. 

Here are a few of the repercussions...

North and South Korea are once again firing ballistic missiles hours apart from each other instead of negotiating towards unity as they were doing only a couple of months ago without U.S. involvement. This while South Korea and China were meeting to discuss de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula. You get the picture. 

Then there's this...

In what appears to those in the region to be a white united front against China the US, UK, and Australia are creating a trilateral security partnership which will include helping Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines. 

The initiative, called Aukus, was announced jointly by President Joe Biden and prime ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison, following US briefings which described the agreement as binding the three English-speaking countries together.

Is anyone in these "English-speaking countries" feeling any safer from all this? Me neither. 

Remember, it was Biden who previously referred to Johnson as, "a physical and emotional clone'" of Trump. 

It's all occurring in the wake of Biden's strategic military shift away from the Middle East and towards Cold War. It follows his helter-skelter withdraw and re-positioning of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Biden's main cold-warrior strategist and regime-change specialist, Sec. Anthony Blinken is under the gun here at home, facing withering attacks from left and right over the "chaotic" Afghan retreat.

I'm still wondering though. Has there ever been a smooth withdrawal by an invading army after a major military defeat? Wish we could ask Napoleon or Gen. Creighton Abrams who was sending Nixon upbeat reports on the progress of the war in Vietnam right up 'til the very end. 

The lessons of war are hard to learn. Let's pull the reins in on the warmakers. 

Monday, September 13, 2021


Columnist Laura Washington

"My message to Chicago Ald. Jim Gardiner: You are mired in a bottomless pit of misogyny." -- Sun-Times

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez re. Manchin

“In Washington, I usually know my questions of power are getting somewhere when the powerful stop referring to me as ‘Congresswoman’ and start referring to me as ‘young lady’ instead." -- Guardian 

Rev. William Barber re. Manchin

“He is a part of the demolition crew of this democracy.” -- The Sunday Show

Justice Stephen Breyer

“I Don’t Intend to Die on the Court” -- Fox News Sunday 

Dr. Anthony Fauci

"If you want to get on a plane and travel with other people then you should be vaccinated." -- Podcast  

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus 

"Because manufacturers have prioritized or been legally obliged to fulfill bilateral deals with rich countries willing to pay top dollar, low-income countries have been deprived of the tools to protect their people.”

“There has been a lot of talk about vaccine equity,” Tedros added, “but too little action.” -- Truthout

Friday, September 10, 2021

There's No Such Thing as a 'Low-Skilled Worker'

I hate the term, "low-skilled" to describe the millions of workers who have built and maintained this country and who are largely Black, Latino, female, and immigrant.

So-called low-skilled workers tend to be lower-paid, have fewer rights, and have less recourse to unions and other enforcement bodies. For example, foreign-born “low”-skilled workers are typically tied to an employer and cannot leave without invalidating their visa. They have also historically been used as a reserve army of unemployed workers to hold down wages and break strikes. 

Wealthy countries like the U.S. depend on migration and immigration for essential labor and economic stability. Yet when deciding who is allowed to enter the country, most use a simple dichotomy based on educational attainment: “high” and “low” skilled. 

Under the Trump administration and now with Biden and the Democrats in power, closing the southern border and abusing and deporting millions of immigrant workers and their families has led to devastating cuts in available low-paid laborers forcing restaurants and other businesses, eg. in agriculture and food production, that rely on immigrant labor to close once again.

The rhetoric around skills is typically based on a dichotomy between “high” and “low”: “high” being associated with university degrees and “low” with manual labor. But, these characteristics do not come close to describing a person’s comprehensive skill set; they are just the easiest to evaluate based on the standards and prevailing norms of capitalist society. 

The pandemic and the growth of the so-called "gig economy" have exacerbated the divisions between "high" and "low" skilled with the latter being pushed onto the front lines and in harm's way as they deliver the goods and services need to keep a faltering economy on its feet.

Now, as the resurgent pandemic enters a new stage, millions of unemployed workers have come under attack for their unwillingness to forego unemployment insurance to take crappy, dangerous, and low-paying jobs and are being pushed off unemployment insurance and anti-eviction protection as an act of government coercion. 

Last week, Biden oversaw the ending of extended unemployment benefits in an attempt to force workers back on the job. Meanwhile, mega-corporations like Amazon have been forced to raise basic wages above the prevailing minimum in order to maintain their competitive edge, entice workers to work under otherwise intolerable conditions, and undermine union drives. 

Bloomberg reports that much to their chagrin, for the third month in a row, wages for the "low-skilled: have risen faster than for the "high-skilled". In the previous history of the survey, which now goes back almost 25 years, this had only ever happened in two months, in early 2010. Wage growth for the "low-skilled" is also exceeding that for the "high-skilled" by the most on record. 

In this opinion piece, Bloomberg's John Authers warns that this wage growth is potentially bad for inflation. 

"Wage growth for the lowest skilled is the fastest since August 2008 (not coincidentally, the month before the Lehman bankruptcy), and that could easily lead to higher prices." 

"More interestingly still," writes Authers, "it does suggest a shift in the balance of power between labor and capital. This isn’t as yet a deep-seated or well-established trend, of course. But if it continues it could rattle a lot of assumptions, and alleviate a lot of social tension."

Authers fails to mention that while millions of people struggled to make ends meet during the pandemic, many of the companies hit hardest in 2020 showered their executives with riches. Chief executives of big companies now make, on average, 320 times as much as their typical worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos managed to add $13,000,000,000 to his wealth in a single day during a pandemic?

No, this widening wealth gap won't "alleviate social tension". Rather, it should provide new rich opportunities for struggling labor unions to expand their shrinking base by organizing the unorganized so-called "low-skilled". 

*Also, see Teri Gerstein's piece in the New York Times: "Other People’s Rotten Jobs Are Bad for Them. And for You." 

Monday, September 6, 2021


Jamie Contreras, secretary-treasurer of the SEIU 
 “We’re not anywhere near done. People still need help. ... For millions of people nothing has changed from a year and a half ago.” -- Covid safety net cut

Rebecca Solnit

If the US defends its democracy, such as it is, and protects the voting rights of all eligible adults, the right will continue to be a shrinking minority. -- Guardian

The Former Guy

...expressed disappointment about receiving a low number of votes from Jews. 

"Look what I did with the embassy in Jerusalem and what I did with so many other things. Israel has never had a better friend, and yet I got 25% of the [Jewish] vote." -- Business Insider

Joanna Klonsky

It’s been quite a week to be a woman in this world. -- Twitter

Friday, September 3, 2021

Pandemic schooling spaces

Mike Klonsky pic.

Driving down Lake Street on the city's west side Monday, I stopped to take a look at the former Dett Elementary School. Dett was one of the 49 schools closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013 for "underutilization" after its population dropped precipitously. Instead of being re-purposed, now, eight years later, the building still sits boarded-up and graffitied, a costly, dangerous blight on the neighborhood. 

Back in 2016, there was a plan to turn Dett into a center for women and girls or an artist incubator but potential buyers for the building backed out. So CPS was stuck with it. Neighborhood students were instead assigned to nearby Herbert or enrolled in charter schools.  

Today students are back in school in Chicago with classrooms packed to overcapacity. Many schools are overcrowded with some kindergarten classrooms stuffed with more than 30 children, a horrifying thought in the middle of this deadly pandemic when there's not yet a vaccine available for young children. 

The lack of available classroom space forced the board to roll back its distancing requirement from six feet to three feet "wherever possible" with unmasked kids often eating together, shoulder-to-shoulder in school lunchrooms. In the high schools, we're seeing images of students, many unvaxed, packed together in crowded hallways between classes.

I can't even imagine being a short-handed teacher, trying to keep up with 32 or so kinders, keeping them masked and at least three feet apart, all the while trying to do some great teaching. And yet, like so many heroic doctors, nurses, and front-line medical staff, teachers are giving it their best shots. But I doubt this mode is sustainable.

CPS is operating in crisis mode in a churning sea of divisive state politics, racial segregation and inequities, all exacerbated by the resurgent Delta variant.

Schooling in a pandemic and preparation for post-pandemic schooling offers a chance for school planners and educators to take a more holistic approach and to try and undo the damage done by the mass closing of schools a decade ago. 

The idea that we still have boarded-up school buildings and schools in some neighborhoods with excess classroom space, while in others, students are dangerously jammed together, is mind-boggling.