Monday, April 24, 2017

The Current Events of 2017

Right now, tensions between America and North Korea are high. North Korea, years ago, (according to the Guardian) has received investments from the ABB (which is a Western company). Later, North Korea has further developed its nuclear program. North Korea has tested many missiles across the region of East Asia. This is a new era too. The Secretary of State Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence said that all options are on the table involving North Korea. There are accusations of the U.S. using hacking to stop the recent North Korean missile test. Tillerson also said that he wants to explore diplomatic, security, and economic measures to handle the situation. Right now, China has blocked some of the coal imports into North Korea.   In the Sea of Japan, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is soon to come there. China wants cooperation in the solution making process since a war will cause tons of North Korean refugees to come into china, a destabilization of the region, and economic problems in China. China rejects any U.S. military response against Pyongyang, but they don’t want extreme tensions in the region either. Russia is allied politically with China, so Russia has similar views as China has on the North Korean issue. Trump wants North Korea to dismantle its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. This just isn’t going to happen anytime soon if at all. The U.S. and South Korea has been involved in war games. Russian aircraft has been flying near Alaska recently. South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng indicated that US and South Korean forces were on heightened alert. “We are closely watching the situation and will not be letting our guards down,” he said. America wants Chinese President Xi Jinping to put more pressure on North Korea to comply with their goals. Japan is an ally of America, so meetings will occur among American, South Korean, and Japanese officials. The reason why the U.S. military hasn’t executed military attacks in North Korea is because South Korea would be devastated in artillery strikes (even if North Korea doesn’t use nuclear weapons). U.S. military troops are stationed in South Korea too. Such an unwise conflict will be harmful for the whole region and the world at large. So, the most peaceful solution to this problem is a total diplomatic solution.  

This year’s French elections are one of the most important elections in the world. Many people are exploiting the violent incident on the Champs Elysees (which was done by a gunman who is alleged to have been acting on behalf of ISIS) as an excuse to promote xenophobia and extreme nationalism. There are more than 50,000 soldiers and policemen in France being deployed to polling stations. The elections will change Europe forever. Karim Cheurfi, a French citizen and career criminal, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2003 for shooting and nearly killing two policemen, but later released on appeal, was last arrested in February after demanding weapons and stating he wanted to kill policemen. He was released supposedly because the “level of danger” he posed was not at the priority level. Though he was an Islamic State (IS) sympathizer who was being followed by French domestic intelligence at least since March, his case was treated as a common law, not terrorist, case. France has strict gun control laws, but Cheufi amassed an arsenal of weapons. Conservative candidate François Fillon demanded the eradication of “Islamist totalitarianism” and called for the “suspension” of the campaign. Le Pen denounced the “incredible laxity of the courts” and demanded the expulsion of all foreigners with intelligence files. Fillon, Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, the candidate of the On the March movement, backed by France’s Socialist Party (PS) government, all canceled their campaign events recently. The police confronted the Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) candidate Philippe Poutou who wanted the police to be unarmed. The police called him a slur and said that they would keep their weapons. Anti-Muslim propaganda is common in America and in France. The Socialist Party (which is center left) faces issues since they have promoted austerity, a state of emergency (which ended basic democratic rights), anti-labor policies, etc. which are against real, progressive principles. There is a rising anti-war movement in the world too.  Macron, Le Pen, Fillon and Mélenchon are now in a virtual tie, and over one-third of voters are still undecided. Emmanuel Macron is a center right neoliberal. France is in a crossroads in its history. France could leave the EU. Most French people want jobs, fair wages, and improved social conditions. The issue is that many of the major candidates have advocated for mass job cuts, tens of billions of euros have been cut in austerity measures, etc. There has been increases in military spending, and a return to the draft. Mélenchon (who is the left of the Socialist Party) himself reacted by declaring on Twitter his “personal solidarity” with Le Pen (who leads the right wing National Front. The NF claims to be anti-globalism, but anti-globalism to the far right is about the nefarious philosophies of anti-international solidarity, anti-immigrant, and anti-multiculturalism. We need international cooperation not corporate globalism), Fillon (who is center right) and Macron on issue of terror. So, imperialism and austerity are real threats in France. The whole world is watching France to see the results of the elections.

Xenophobia is a key part of the supporters of Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended the deportation of the Dreamer Juan Manuel Montes. He is a 23 year old Mexican citizen who was expelled from America in February of 2017. This comes despite of the fact that he was actively enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA. DACA is meant to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from being deported. This is the first case of a Dreamer being deported. Lawyers for Montes filed suit in federal court in Southern California. They are demanding that the Trump administration to release documents relating to his case. Montes lived in America since he was 9. He was arrested, interrogated, and walked across the border from Calexico to Mexicali on February 17, 2017 despite being covered by the DACA program through 2018. In the program, enrollees are required to reapply every 2 years. Montes’ lawyers said in court filings that their client was assaulted and beaten in Mexicali. He was desperate to return to his home and family. He tried to scale a border wall 2 days later and he was caught by U.S. border police and deported once again to Mexico. The DHS or the Department of Homeland Security oversees the Customs and Border Protection. It has thousands of border police. The DHS has refused all requests from Montes’ defense team for documents on the case.  In response to the lawsuit, it claims that Montes was not deported on February 17, but voluntarily crossed into Mexico without obtaining prior permission from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that approves DACA applications. This is proven to be false. That, according to DHS, along with four prior convictions for petty offenses—one for shoplifting and three for driving without a license—invalidated his DACA status. However, US Citizenship and Immigration Services had ruled that these offenses were not sufficiently serious to vacate Montes’ DACA status, extending it through 2018. Kelly has shown half-truths and lies about Montes’ deportation. He said Montes had been an active DACA enrollee but had ceased to be one when he supposedly chose to cross into Mexico. In addition, Kelly maintained, Montes’ own behavior—meaning his prior convictions—had deprived him of DACA protection. Trump said that he won’t target DACA enrollees for deportation. Yet, one DACA member was deported. There are almost 800,000 people in the DACA program. Members of DACA submit to background checks. They report to immigration authorities. Authorities know who they are. Sessions wants to deport millions of undocumented workers including DACA enrollees. Sessions wants to withdraw federal funds from cities who are sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are found in New York City, Seattle, Chicago, El Paso, etc. In another interview recently, Sessions denounced Hawaii-based federal judge Derrick Watson for holding up Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries.  The enemies are immigration are clear in their intentions. We are clear in promoting immigrant rights now and forever.

The Syrian civil war continues. American forces accuse Syria of using chemical weapons against civilians. This comes about in a complex civil war. On April 7, 2017, the U.S. executed an unprovoked air strike against Syrian territories. There is no conclusive evidence that Syria executed a chemical attack in the village of Khan Sheikhun in Syria’s Idlib province, which reportedly killed scores of people. Since then, the US has systematically blocked demands by Syria and its two principal allies, Russia and Iran, for an objective investigation of the alleged chemical attack by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). There should be a conclusive, independent investigation to find the criminals who has done the evil chemical attack in Syria. The West wants regime change in Syria. The chemical disarmament of Syria was carried out under a deal brokered by Moscow in 2013 when the Obama administration backed down from a threat to launch airstrikes against Syria over another alleged chemical weapons incident in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. That incident was also exposed as a deliberate provocation staged by Turkish intelligence in league with Islamist “rebels” for the express purpose of provoking a US attack. The US participated directly in the destruction of Syria’s chemical stockpiles, and the OCPW certified that all of the country’s chemical weapons had been destroyed in January 2016. Mattis wants more militarism by the U.S. too. Trump is a hypocrite by claiming to support the children of Syria, but denying Syrian refugees from coming into America. In six years, roughly half of Syria's population, some 11 million people, has been forced to flee their homes to escape the violence--6 million are internally displaced, and 5 million are refugees. The death count in Syria since the war began is almost half a million people. Of those killed, 24,000 have been children. I don’t agree with imperialism in Syria, but Assad is not hero either. ISIS is wrong including the al-Qaeda forces there. Also, Assad is wrong to promote neoliberal policies, his violent repression of dissenters, etc. So, Syria must not be govern by U.S., Saudi, Gulf States-backed puppet leaders neither by Assad. They should be ruled by the working class and revolutionary Syrian people. The Syrian people must govern their own land in an independent fashion.

By the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Seattle grew in the high tech boom. In 1979, Bill Gates, Paul Allen (founders of Microsoft) moved their company from New Mexico to the suburbs of their native Seattle. By 1985, sales (of Microsoft) were over $140 million, by 1990, $1.18 billion, and by 1995, Microsoft was the world's most profitable corporation. Allen and Gates were billionaires, and literally thousands of their past and present employees were millionaires. Microsoft spawned a host of other companies in the Seattle area. Millionaire employees of Microsoft found their own companies. Allen left Microsoft and became a major investor in new companies. Seattle is home to many technological companies like InforSpace, RealNetworks, etc.  Quite unlike Boeing, Microsoft has served as a catalyst for the creation of a whole realm of industry. Microsoft has also taken a much more active hand than Boeing in public works in the area, donating software to many schools (including the University of Washington). Biotechnology and coffee sectors are readily found in Seattle too. The international coffee shop chain Starbucks originated from Seattle. The Seattle based Nordstrom today is a national brand. Paul Allen is a political person too. He started a voter initiative to build the Seattle Commons, which is a huge park in South Lake Union and the Cascade District. He even offered to put up his own money to endow a security force for the park. It was defeated in the polls. He is now a leader of the movement to redevelop the same areas as a biotech center.  He did get a football stadium for the Seattle Seahawks through a successful statewide ballot initiative, and founded the Experience Music Project (originally intended as a Jimi Hendrix museum) on the grounds of Seattle Center. Seattle’s bid for the world stage by hosting the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 didn’t played as planned. Many protests existed back then. There was a large anti-globalization movement (which opposed corporate exploitation, environmental degradation, and anti-labor oppression) that came into the streets of Seattle to oppose the WTO. Many protesters came in November 30, 1999. While many of those in the streets, most of those in the streets, were from out of town or even out of country. Much of the groundwork of Seattle hosting both the event and the protests against it can be attributed to local forces. In 2001, the central city was the site of violence in the Mardi Gras riot. Seattle along with other west coast cities experienced politically inspired confrontations and violence during the May Day marches in 2015. Today, the demographics of Seattle is similar to what it was during the 1960’s. Most of Seattle is white. There are many people who are African Americans and Asian-Americans. Progressives do live in Seattle. Suburbs have grown. Seattle’s economy is diverse and richer than decades ago. Great cultural activity is found in Seattle. Racism and economic inequality are serious problems in Seattle like in places worldwide. Boeing is the larger employer of workers. Yet, its new headquarters are in Chicago. Microsoft remains and now supplemented by Amazon; the high tech leaders have spawned many startups. Pioneer Square still retains some of the ambiance of Skid Road. Seattle is a strong, beautiful city.

By Timothy

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