Elon Musk, United States billionaire and warmonger

This 21 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Elon Musk’s SpaceX wins $300M Pentagon contract

The US Department of Defense has awarded the United Launch Alliance $441.7 million, while $297 million was awarded to SpaceX to expand US space exploration. RT America’s Ashlee Banks reports on this development.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Elon Musk embodies the unity of capitalism and imperial war

IT IS an almost unbelievable expression of late imperial arrogance for the entrepreneur and futuristic motor manufacturer Elon Musk to boast that the entity that he represents can carry out a coup wherever it fancies.

It cannot of course — large parts of the world are closed off to Yankee imperialism and even in its traditional backyard, Latin America, the sway of the mighty dollar is much reduced.

Even right-wing and authoritarian leaders in Latin America would pay their respects to Fidel Castro because they knew that every inch of breathing space that Cuba’s resistance created was an inch of territorial integrity for them, a small space in which they would be able to take decisions in their own interest rather than that of the big neighbour to the north.

The US deploys an enormous armoury of weapons and mechanisms to limit the independence and autonomy of the peoples of the Southern Cone, of Central America and even the Caribbean where traditionally British imperialism held the decisive power.

With the integration of British and US capital, it is almost axiomatic that Anglo-American imperialism is a partnership of profits to be made at the expense of the working people of the region.

But over recent decades, country after country, people after people have found ways to displace the satraps and local placemen who served US interests and have instituted a wide range of progressive measures that have lifted millions out of poverty and raised hopes that further progress could be made.

The Bolivian coup is the latest attempt to reverse this tide of progress and it is instructive that, although the local right was able to displace the president-elect and was able to capture part of the machinery of government, in vast parts of the country the forces of popular power and socialism of a particular Bolivian kind hold the loyalty and affection of the people.

Election date after election date has been deferred, the latest reason being the Covid-19 pandemic for fear that the popular masses will recapture popular power.

This is the new reality in Latin America — the state is feared but the people are no longer cowed and in the months and years to come we will see the revolutionary process mature and the skills of government and the exercise of power will be more skilfully employed by the revolutionary forces of each of these states.

This is not to underestimate the difficulties.

The reduction in oil prices has put obstacles in the way of Venezuela’s progress and in Colombia it is still dangerous to be a trade unionist or a community activist.

But the pressure of international solidarity, the example of Cuba, the resurgence of the popular mood in Brazil, all these factors are signs that the US and local reaction don’t it have it their own way.

Britain, of course, has a lousy record in these parts. From the undemocratic overthrow by the colonial authorities of Cheddi Jagan’s government in Guyana to the military aid New Labour gave the Colombian ultras, British imperial interests have a way of dominating our government’s foreign policies in this region.

We can do something about this — we must do something about it.

Lisa Nandy must put Britain’s Labour Party on the side of progress. Now is the time to deploy the basics of an ethical foreign policy of solidarity with the people of Latin America.

Extreme right and militarism in Latin America

This International Peace Bureau video says about itself:

The Extreme Right and Militarization in Latin America. Webinar 28.5.2020

Dr. Pedro Páez Pérez, professor at the Central University of Ecuador and specialist on economic development and the political economy, joins IPB to discuss contemporary Latin American politics with particular attention to the ascension of far-right forces to power and their role in the militarization of the region.

In recent years, Latin American politics has shifted and brought to power far-right leaders. A central aspect of these politicians’ platforms has been a glorification of national militaries and policies of confrontation. Such positions highlight the increasing militarization of the region. Dr. Páez will cover these developments and provide insights into what this means for the future of the region.

How sloths live, video

This 16 December 2019 video says about itself:

Sloths are the slowest mammal on the planet. But as strange as they seem the sloth is perfectly adapted to their environment and is actually slow for a very important reason. In fact, sloths are far from boring and are a lot more extreme than it seems. With an ecosystem on their backs, which scientists believe may even be capable of curing cancer. They even risk their lives to poop and when they do, they make it count, pooping over 30% of their body weight.

Conservation discrimination against female birds

This 2012 video says about itself:

The Golden-winged Warbler is uncommon in the northeastern United States and rare in southern Ontario. It can be found in birch and other young deciduous growth and in abandoned pastures. It has a gray back with white below. There is a yellow on the crown and yellow wing patch. It exhibits a black throat and ear patch. This warbler nests on ground.

The song is a buzzy “beee bz bz bz”.

These birds hybridizes with the Blue-winged Warbler to produce the Brewster’s and the Lawrence’s Warblers.

This warbler is decreasing in numbers probably due to habitat reduction. There is also thought that the Blue-winged Warbler is less finicky about its habitat and is thus replacing the Golden-winged.

From Cornell University in the USA:

Study finds sex bias in bird conservation plans

Overlooking habitats used by females adds risk for declining species

November 7, 2019

After pairing up and raising chicks, males and females of some bird species spend their winter break apart. At the end of their journey to Central or South America, you might find mostly males in one habitat, and females in another. Yet conservation strategies have typically overlooked the habitats needed by females, putting already-declining species in even more peril, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation.

“Among the small songbird species that have been studied, the general rule seems to be that females occupy lower elevation, shrubbier, drier sites,” says lead author Ruth Bennett. “Mid-elevation and high-elevation sites that are more humid and have better quality forest are occupied by males.” Bennett conducted the research while at Cornell University and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.

This male-female split is pretty common, Bennett says, but the study found that in conservation plans for 66 declining migratory species, only 3 made any mention of his-and-her-habitats — those being plans for Golden-winged Warbler, Bicknell’s Thrush, and Back-capped Vireo. Bennett concludes that female birds are definitely being overlooked.

“When conservation plans don’t explicitly address the habitat requirements of both sexes, there’s no guarantee both sexes will be protected. Overlooking habitats females use can lead to unforeseen population loss, which is especially critical for species of conservation concern,” says Bennett.

“Our research is an important reminder that ‘one size fits all’ conservation does not accommodate the needs of both male and female birds any more than a one-size-fits-all approach would work in meeting the needs of all genders at work and at home,” adds co-author Amanda Rodewald, senior director of Conservation Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Using declining Golden-winged Warblers as their case study, the researchers also found that the habitats where female birds spend the winter are being lost more rapidly than those inhabited by males. Field crews surveyed more than 1,100 locations for the warblers during 3 wintering seasons in Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Researchers then used Global Forest Watch data to see what percentage of areas with the most birds had been deforested between 2000 and 2016. Male golden-wings lost 4% of their habitat during that time span. Females lost twice as much, at 8%. Despite the higher threat faced by females, the study found that habitats for the males got all the conservation attention.

“To counteract the bias in favor of male birds, researchers and conservation planners need to identify and report the sex of birds, model female distributions, and include female habitats in conservation plans,” says Bennett.

Female birds are often harder to find with their muted colors, and both sexes are quieter while on their wintering locations. But making the effort to consider the needs of female birds could pay off in the long run.

“Yes, it requires more investment and care on the survey portion of any conservation effort when you’re trying to acquire information to guide action,” Rodewald says. “But that could actually allow us to be much more strategic and save money on the back end. Conservation plans are stronger — and more likely to be effective — when they explicitly consider the needs of females.”

Trump’s aggressive anti-Latin American policies

This 12 January 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Donald Trump’s Comments On Immigrants: They’re Rapists. They All Have AIDS | Velshi & Ruhle

From comments on Mexican and Haitian immigrants, to firing back at Reporter April Ryan about the CBC, MSNBC’s Ari Velshi looks back a Donald Trump’s comments on immigrants, minorities.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

US imperialism resurrects the Monroe Doctrine

24 April 2019

“Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well,” US national security advisor John Bolton declared last week in Florida.

This was only one of an increasing number of public invocations by Trump administration officials of this nearly two-century-old canon of Washington’s foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.

Bolton’s audience consisted of a gathering to mark the 58th anniversary of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, an abortive attempt mounted by the CIA using Cuban counterrevolutionaries and mercenaries to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. Bolton absurdly compared the participants in this filthy operation, one of the all-time greatest fiascos in the history of US foreign policy, to “the brave men of Bunker Hill … and Normandy.”

The Monroe Doctrine was written in 1823 by John Quincy Adams, one of the most prominent opponents of slavery and of the war against Mexico in 1846, which he denounced as a war to expand the slave system. When it was first announced by President James Monroe in 1823, it was directed against any attempt by the reactionary monarchical powers of Europe to recolonize the newly independent republics of Latin America.

The definition of the doctrine underwent profound changes, however, with the rise of US imperialism at the turn of the century. This was consolidated by means of stripping Spain of its remaining colonies in the Americas, while ruthlessly repressing the revolutionary strivings of the peoples of those colonies, particularly in Cuba, and imposing semi-colonial US domination that deprived them of any genuine independence.

The so-called “Big Stick” corollary introduced under President Teddy Roosevelt in 1904 set the essential parameters of the doctrine for the next century, setting the stage for some 50 direct US military interventions. It arrogated to US imperialism “international police power” throughout the hemisphere, i.e., the use of force to overturn governments that conflicted with the interests of US banks and corporations, replacing them with the likes of the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua and that of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.

In the latter half of the 20th century, the Monroe Doctrine became inextricably linked to a hemispheric “national security” regime and anti-communism directed at maintaining Latin America as a US sphere of influence and crushing the revolutionary movement of the Latin American working class. The result was the imposition of fascist-military dictatorships throughout much of South and Central America, which murdered, tortured and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of workers, students and other opponents of US domination and military rule.

Given this bloody and criminal history, US administrations in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union referred less and less to the Monroe Doctrine as an operative policy in Latin America. John Kerry, the US secretary of state under the Obama administration, went so far as to declare in a speech to the Organization of American States in 2013 that “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over”, and to claim, improbably, that Washington was forswearing further interventions and now viewed the lands to its south as its equals.

Now, however, the bloodstained doctrine has been resurrected with a vengeance, first in relation to the cynical regime change operation surrounding the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaidó in Venezuela, and now with the dramatic escalation of Washington’s illegal and unilateral extra-territorial sanctions against Cuba.

In the first instance, the Trump administration continues to impose crippling sanctions that have deepened poverty and hunger in Venezuela, while insisting that “all options are on the table,” threatening direct military intervention under conditions in which the ploy of declaring Guaidó, a right-wing US-financed political non-entity, as the sole “legitimate” government of Venezuela has failed to spark the military coup that Washington had hoped for.

“It’s for [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro to worry about what the United States is capable of,” Bolton declared in an interview on the PBS television Newshour last week, “and it’s also to make it clear, we value the protection of the 40 to 45,000 American citizens in Venezuela. We don’t want to see any harm come to them.”

The protection of American citizens against supposed “harm” was the pretext for the last two major US military invasions in the hemisphere: in Grenada in 1983 and in Panama in 1989.

Bolton repeated his declaration that the Monroe Doctrine was “alive and well,” adding that its purpose was to “throw a shield around the hemisphere” and to create “the first completely free hemisphere in human history.”

Free from what, one might well ask. The short answer is free from any impediment to the US energy conglomerates’ exploitation of Venezuelan oil; free from competition for trade and resources on the part of China, Russia and the European Union and free from any challenge from below to the domination of US imperialism and its allies in the national bourgeoisie of the various Latin American countries.

It most certainly does not spell freedom for the working class in Latin America. The attitude of the Trump administration toward these workers is exposed every single day in the relentless hounding of immigrants on the US southern border, who have been hunted down by fascist-minded immigration agents, thrown into concentration camps and had their children ripped from their arms.

As for Cuba, Bolton and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the unprecedented action last week of activating what amounts to the “nuclear option” in the Helms-Burton Act, legislation which codified the US blockade against the island nation. Title Three in the act, which allows US companies and citizens to sue in US courts to recover property lost in the expropriations that followed the 1959 Cuban Revolution, had been waived by successive administrations, both Democratic and Republican alike, since it was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996.

The action, now in force, exposes foreign companies operating in Cuba—European, Chinese and Canadian—to potential lawsuits involving billions of dollars, with the threat that their assets in the US could be seized or that they could be barred from US markets.

The resurrection of the Monroe Doctrine is bound up with the preparations for a new world war. US imperialism is determined to assert its hegemony over not only Venezuela, but also Iran, the Middle East and Central Asia in order to establish its unchallenged control over all of the world’s energy reserves, giving it the ability to deny access to its principal global rival, China.

At the same time, the revival of the discredited doctrine, reviled throughout Latin America, is the response of a US imperialism in decline, confronting the fact that in its “own backyard”, it has been replaced by China as the principal source of foreign investment. China has overtaken the European Union as the second largest trading partner of Latin America, and it is Brazil, Peru and Chile’s leading trade partner.

There is, of course, a domestic component to the waving of the sullied flag of the Monroe Doctrine. It is inseparably linked with the Trump administration’s attempt to wage a fascistic campaign against “socialism,” … the centerpiece of its 2020 reelection drive. Ominously, in his address to the right-wing Cuban exiles connected to the Bay of Pigs, a milieu that produced terrorists and assassins involved in many of the crimes of US imperialism in the 20th century, Bolton declared: “We will need your help in the days ahead. We must all reject the forces of communism and socialism in this hemisphere—and in this country.”

The struggle against the attempts of the US ruling elite to promote a fascistic movement against the growth of socialist opposition within the working class finds its most immediate ally in the battle of Latin American workers against their right-wing governments like that of the fascistic former army captain Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, the right-wing multimillionaire Mauricio Macri in Argentina and Lenin Moreno, who proved his allegiance to imperialism by throwing open the doors of Ecuador’s embassy in London to a British police snatch squad acting on behalf of Washington’s demands for the rendition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

As the recent strike wave of Mexican workers in Matamoros demonstrated so powerfully, the working class, objectively joined in a common process of production across national boundaries by the exploitative operations of transnational banks and corporations, can find a way forward only through the conscious unification of the US and Latin American working class in struggle to defeat their common enemies, US imperialism and the region’s national ruling oligarchies.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced “a new era in the relationship” between the US and Latin America on Friday at the second Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He repeated this same theme at each stop of his Latin America tour last week, which also included Ecuador, Mexico and El Salvador. Pompeo demanded greater censorship and spying, and a closer alignment with Washington’s drive against its geopolitical rivals in South America. He also called for the Mexican and Salvadoran governments to step up their anti-immigrant measures: here.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw’s anti-Latin American prejudice

This 28 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw asserted that Hispanic Americans need to ‘work harder at assimilation’. John Iadarola and Brooke Thomas break it down on The Damage Report.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

NBC’s Tom Brokaw provokes backlash over “assimilation” comment

29 January 2019

In remarks at the end of Sunday’s broadcast of “Meet the Press”, longtime NBC commentator and former anchorman Tom Brokaw gave vent to the racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and sheer ignorance that media pundits—at least those not employed by Fox News—usually keep under wraps.

His remarks came at the conclusion of a panel discussion about President Trump’s demand for a border wall and his overall focus on the supposed evils of immigration, and particularly his demonization of Mexican immigrants.

Brokaw commented as follows:

“And a lot of this, we don’t want to talk about. But the fact is, on the Republican side, a lot of people see the rise of an extraordinary, important, new constituent in American politics, Hispanics, who will come here and all be Democrats. Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, “Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.” I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other. I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities, but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”

It would be too charitable to describe these comments by the 78-year-old Brokaw as muddled. He managed to suggest in the same breath that Hispanics are intermarrying at such a high rate (presumably with whites) as to provoke a racist reaction in the Republican Party (“brown grandbabies”) and that Hispanics are keeping themselves apart “in their communities” and should “work harder at assimilation.”

How these grossly self-contradictory propositions could both be true is a mystery.

No one else on the “Meet the Press” panel objected to his first claim—that the Republican Party is steeped in anti-immigrant racism—since it is obviously true. But his second claim, about the lack of assimilation on the part of Hispanics, drew a rejoinder from Yamiche Alcindor, the former New York Times reporter who is now the White House correspondent for National Public Radio.

“I would just say that we also need to adjust what we think of as America. You’re talking about assimilation. I grew up in Miami, where people speak Spanish, but their kids speak English. And the idea that we think Americans can only speak English, as if Spanish and other languages wasn’t always part of America, is, in some ways, troubling.”

There was other, harsher, media criticism, most notably from Cecilia Vega of ABC News, who pointed out that Brokaw’s comments falsified the actual experience of second-generation Hispanic families like her own, where children grow up speaking Spanish at home, learn English in school, and become completely bilingual as adults.

Hispanic-American groups loudly protested Brokaw’s remarks, as did many Democratic Party politicians, and by Sunday evening the retired anchorman was issuing what passes for an apology in official media and political circles, tweeting, “I am sorry, truly sorry, my comments were offensive to many.” He thanked Alcindor for her remarks and concluded, “I never intended to disparage any segment of our rich, diverse society which defines who we are.”

Brokaw was the principal anchorman for “NBC Nightly News” for more than 20 years, reaching an annual salary of $7 million for the task of justifying the crimes of American imperialism around the world (including the US invasion of Iraq in 2003) and presenting as normal the contradictions of a society increasingly divided between a tiny and fabulously wealthy elite and a vast mass of working people struggling to keep their heads above water.

As WSWS Arts Editor David Walsh wrote on Brokaw’s retirement in 2004:

“In the two decades during which Brokaw presided over the NBC evening news, the American media suffered a dreadful decline. Television news, in particular, has been transformed by economic and political processes into a purely profit-driven operation. More fundamentally, television news programs, packaged (and on occasion criticized) as entertainment, have become organs of state propaganda, transmitting the policies and claims of increasingly right-wing administrations in Washington as “news” and “facts”.”

It is noteworthy that while Brokaw celebrated those Americans who fought in World War II in his 1998 bestseller The Greatest Generation, he had little of the sensibility of journalists of that generation, who had experienced the Great Depression and the horrors of fascism and embraced a more democratic and egalitarian outlook than their successors—multi-millionaire celebrities like Brokaw, Tim Russert and Peter Jennings.

It is impossible to imagine Brokaw, let alone his even more pallid successors like Chuck Todd, David Muir and Jeff Glor, declaring an American military intervention to be a moral failure, as Walter Cronkite did in 1968, criticizing the Vietnam War.

Particularly since the publication of The Greatest Generation, Brokaw has been identified with a bland and sentimental American patriotism, and he himself has been glorified as a sort of media “everyman” and voice of “middle America”. His remarks on Sunday give a glimpse of a different reality. His crass ignorance of the everyday lives of Hispanic-Americans—now 25 percent of the US population—expresses the vast social gulf between the wealthy elite, the one-tenth of one percent at the top, and the working class as a whole.

The author also recommends:

Exit NBC anchor Tom Brokaw: A nonentity in the service of wealth and power
[6 December 2004]

Trump administration aggressive Latin America policy

This video says about itself:

A New Cold War in Latin America

Snapshot | Since the Trump administration, the U.S. has not made it a secret to interfere directly within its neighboring countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Bolivian President Evo Morales blasts Trump’s calls for regime change in Latin America: here.

United States government help for Latin America’s right wing

This video from the USA says about itself:

The Role the US Played in Reversing Latin America’s ‘Pink Tide’

28 July 2018

A mere ten years ago almost all countries in South and Central America had left or center-left governments in office. Now only a handful remain. How did this happen? We speak to CEPR‘s Mark Weisbrot about how Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon might have described to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the US effort to do help bring this change about.

NicaraguaÑ while the underlying causes of the turmoil are rooted in government mismanagement and corruption, it’s becoming more and more clear that the U.S. support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings: here.