The United States is determined to have hegemony, full spectrum dominance, over the entire world. This simple fact means that U.S. hands are never clean and Ukraine is no exception. There is no reason to expect a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The threat is as real as Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. If nothing else, memories must be long enough to recall the war propaganda used in the past. To sum up, Black people should know that the U.S. has instigated this entire affair and any statements made by Joe Biden, his spokespeople, or his foreign policy team must be disregarded.Continue reading
US Sanctions On Afghanistan Could Be Deadlier Than 20 Years Of War
Economic sanctions have, in recent years, become one of the most important tools of U.S. foreign policy. There are currently more than 20 countries subjected to various sanctions from the U.S. government.
But if more Americans knew how many innocent civilians actually die as a result of these sanctions, would the worst of them be permitted?
We may be about to find out in Afghanistan. Sanctions currently imposed on the country are on track to take the lives of more civilians in the coming year than have been killed by 20 years of warfare. There’s no hiding it any more.Continue reading
The U.S. Is Wrong On Yemen. Again.
For four years, U.S. officials in both Republican and Democratic administrations told me in my work as a human rights advocate that “Saudi Arabia is ready to end the war,” and that it’s just a matter of “finding a face-saving way to exit.” What they mean is, “Is there a way for Saudi Arabia to credibly claim it won the war?” Ignoring the obvious answer of no—Saudi Arabia started a war everyone knew was a mistake—the U.S. government has instead engaged in the business of helping to starve millions of people to assuage crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.Continue reading
AFRICOM Watch – February 2022
Troops trained by AFRICOM have been behind nine coups d’etat on the African continent in the thirteen years of the military command’s existence. All but one of the G5 Sahel countries have experienced a coup in that period, and the military training that the U.S. and France provide to troops in these countries through the various AFRICOM exercises and the French Foreign Legion among other installations, present a serious concern.Continue reading
Make Noise about the Silent Crisis of Global Illiteracy
In October 2021, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) held a seminar on the pandemic and education systems. Strikingly, 99% of the students in the region spent an entire academic year with total or partial interruption of face-to-face classes, while more than 600,000 children struggled with the loss of their caregivers due to the pandemic. It is further estimated that the crisis could force 3.1 million children and youth to drop out of school and force over 300,000 to go to work. At the seminar, Alicia Bárcena, the executive secretary of ECLAC, said that the combination of the pandemic, economic turbulence in the region, and the setbacks in education have caused ‘a silent crisis’.Continue reading
How Israel’s Occupation Of Palestine Intensifies Climate Change
On Sunday, roughly 200 activists demonstrated outside Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office in Jerusalem against the Jewish National Fund’s (JNF) tree-planting project in al-Naqab, maintaining the forestation is an attempt to displace the indigenous Bedouin population.
Contracted by the Israeli government, the JNF razed fruit trees and seeded fields in al-Naqab in January to “make the desert bloom” with non-native plants. The purported environmental project has been met with fierce protest from the local villagers, with more than 60 Bedouin arrested in the last few weeks.Continue reading
The Hypocrisy Of The ‘Diplomatic Boycott’ Of The 2022 Beijing Olympics
The United States led the way in announcing a “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Olympics on December 6, 2021, citing allegations of “genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.” It was followed by Britain, Canada, and Australia (i.e., all but one of its “Five Eyes” allies), as well as Japan and a smattering of small north European countries. The Five Eyes, which constitute a majority of “boycott” hangers-on, are united not just by the English language but by a common history of settler colonialism, Indigenous genocide, and violently enforced regional and global hegemony.Continue reading
US Olympic Boycott Not About Uyghurs
Using a sports boycott to make a point that Washington still has plenty of options has actually resulted in the opposite. Only three other countries have agreed to join the American diplomatic boycott, a negligible number if compared to the 20 African countries that refrained from participating in the 1976 Montreal Summer Games in protest of New Zealand’s participation. The latter was criticized for validating the South African apartheid regime when their rugby team had toured South Africa in that same year.Continue reading
Argentina To Russia: We Want To End Dependency On US
The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, today visited the Kremlin and told President Vladimir Putin that his country wants to end “dependency” on the US and strengthen economic ties with Russia instead.
Fernández told Putin “Argentina, in particular, is experiencing a very special situation as a result of its indebtedness and the economic situation that I had to inherit. From the 1990s onwards, Argentina has always looked towards the United States. Now, the Argentinian economy depends a lot on the debt it has with the United States, with the IMF, and the role that the US has within the IMF.”Continue reading
New Puerto Rico Debt Plan Is A False “Solution” Crafted To Benefit Capitalists
Since its announcement, the POA has been touted as putting an end to five years of brutal structural adjustment. For instance, Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the unelected Financial Oversight Board that has dictated Puerto Rico’s finances since 2016, celebrated the POA as a “new chapter in Puerto Rico’s history.” Gov. Pedro Pierluisi suggested that while the POA is “not perfect,” it ultimately protects Puerto Rico’s vulnerable public sector. In contrast, a multisectoral coalition of teachers, labor, pensioners, students and activists expressed immediate rejection of what they call the “plan del tumbe” (the shakedown plan). These groups have long been demanding a comprehensive debt audit, calling attention to the POA’s everyday implications, and resisting its confirmation by mobilizing online, in the streets, the legislature and the courts.Continue reading
Túmin: The Alternative Currency Rebuilding Community In Mexico
Above Photo: Túmin notes from Chiapas, Mexico. (Clara Haizlett).
People across Mexico are increasingly using Túmin to support local businesses and challenge monopoly capitalists.
In southern Mexico, Itzel Castro sits behind the counter at a small artisanal store tucked along a colorful side street. She welcomes customers as they browse shelves stacked full of food, books and accessories. When the customers check out, Castro offers them change – not in pesos, but in Túmin.
Túmin is an alternative currency that emerged in Veracruz, Mexico in 2010. About the size of a credit card, Túmin notes are printed with vibrant illustrations that vary from state to state. Each Túmin note is equivalent to one peso, one minute of work or even one US dollar. It is both a unit of exchange and a currency that comes in 1, 5, 10, and 20 denominated notes.
Castro works at Túmin Tienda in San Cristobal de las Casas, in the state of Chiapas. It’s a space dedicated to supporting local producers and cultivating awareness about the currency. Castro sells her homemade flour and cheeses at the store. She is one of ten Túministas who opened the space last month – making her one of more than 350 vendors using the currency in the town, of around 2,500 nationwide.
Communities around Mexico are increasingly turning to the fringe currency to foster solidarity amid economic instability and inflation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now present in 24 of Mexico’s 32 states – with 723 vendors in the eastern coastal state of Veracruz and 567 in Oaxaca.
As the currency isn’t accepted by large companies, Túmin encourages consumers to purchase local products. And since banks don’t recognize it, it can’t accrue interest, so users are incentivized to circulate the currency rather than accumulate it.
“This community currency will not go to large transnational stores never to return, but will remain circulating and prevent scarcity in the community,” explained academic and Túmin activist Juan Castro (no relation to Itzel).
“The objective is to satisfy the needs of communities by allowing products and services to be paid for with Túmin. In this way, the economy is diversified and official money, which is now less necessary, is disempowered.”
The currency – usually, but not always, used alongside the peso in transactions (for example, paying half in each currency or receiving 20% change in Túmin) – was the brainchild of researchers from the Intercultural University of Veracruz, who were conducting a project on rural communities. They observed that the growth of local markets in Veracruz state was being hampered by their inability to compete with large companies.
Fruit and vegetable producers from the Veracruz town of El Espinal, home to around 25,000 mostly indigenous people, soon came together to print and use Túmin to tackle local cash shortages and rising prices.
They also sought to stimulate sales through lower costs. Túministas generally sell at cheaper prices when accepting Túmin as a gesture of solidarity with consumers.
Currency Against Capitalism
Ultimately, however, the currency’s creators wanted to make a stand against the type of capitalism that extracts and hoards wealth. Unsurprisingly, the country’s central bank, the Bank of Mexico, pushed back, arguing that Túmin was unconstitutional since the state has a monopoly on minting currency and issuing bank notes.
But the Túministas maintained that they were protected by rights allowing indigenous people and communities autonomy to shape their economies, and that the currency did not seek to replace the peso. The furor blew over.
Now, in some municipalities, such as El Espinal or Papantla, it has been reported that rent, water and other bills can be paid – at least in part – in Túmin.
The desire that Túmin be used to help build a social fabric that favors barter and interest-free loans, especially in the face of the growth of electronic banking that came with the pandemic, is central to its creators.
“When you start using Túmin, you stop being clients and become partners,” Castro explained. “When this happens, the entire capitalist dynamic collapses.”
He added that the currency presents a problem for the Mexican government as taxes cannot be levied on profits made in Túmin. The paper-based currency offers an alternative to centralized debt-based economic models and represents something of a return to pre-capitalist methods of barter and exchange.
“It is an alternative market that only works communally in the spirit of one for all and all for one,” Castro said. “It is just one part of a new culture that is increasingly developing autonomous social structures outside government control.”
He told Mexican newspaper Proceso: “This project cannot repeat the schemes of capitalism; it is not a coin to profit, nor to speculate. It is not to generate wealth or create poverty: it is a currency that supports people, but it does not solve everything. You have to be realistic, it is not an ideal currency.”
Back in San Cristobal de las Casas, taxi driver Laura Mendoza has been accepting Túmin for almost a year. However, just a handful of clients regularly pay her in Túmin. Most of them don’t know anything about the currency. This isn’t uncommon. Despite the numbers of vendors now using it, outside Veracruz, Túministas have generally struggled to get working people to embrace it, as it is perversely considered a foreign and even slightly bourgeois concept. Detractors also suggest that it would be easier to counterfeit Túmin than Mexican banknotes.
“I tell them I can offer change in Túmin but a lot of people don’t want it,” she said. “They’re afraid of something different. Or they think that I’m trying to swindle them.”
But when people are interested, she is happy to explain how the system works and give them change in Túmin. As a consumer, she tries to do her shopping in places which accept Túmin or by directly contacting other Túministas.
“We have a big group on WhatsApp in San Cris,” she said. “I can ask there if someone is offering a particular service or if someone is selling fruit or vegetables.”
With interest growing, she is intrigued by the potential of the currency – not dissimilar to other models used and experimented with across the world – to strengthen the local economy and society.
“People are always talking about the remittances that come into Mexico, but they don’t talk about the huge quantities of money leaving the country through big stores like Walmart,” Mendoza said. “Túmin is a necessity if we wish to reinvest in our community.”
How We Broke The Supply Chain
Breadlines, the Big Book of Capitalism assured us, could not happen in a market economy. Supply would always rise to meet demand, as long as there’s money to be made. Only deviating from free-market fundamentalism—giving everyone health care, for example—could lead to shortages. Otherwise, capitalism has your every desire covered.
Yet we have breadlines in America today, or at least just off our coasts. They consist of dozens of ships with billions of dollars of cargo, idling outside the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the docks through which 40 percent of all U.S. seaborne imports flow. “Ships” barely conveys the scale of these giants, which are more like floating Empire State Buildings, stacked high with multicolored containers filled to the brim with toys and clothes and electronics, produced mostly in Asia.Continue reading
Organizers In Appalachia Are Building A Green New Deal Blueprint For Themselves
With time quickly running out to prevent a greenhouse apocalypse, activists need to reorganize and unite efforts to build massive public support and political will for climate action. In this context, much is to be gained by looking at the work of ReImagine Appalachia, which is promoting a Green New Deal blueprint for the Ohio Valley region. This is the focus of the following exclusive interview for Truthout with Amanda Woodrum, senior researcher at Policy Matters Ohio and co-director of project ReImagine Appalachia.Continue reading
Why I’m Done With Teaching
Friday was my last day as a high school teacher.
After 15 years of teaching, this was not an easy decision. I have loved and will miss the classroom — getting excited about literature, teaching writing, asking big questions about life, discussing the human experience and getting to know students as individuals with unique perspectives. My leaving is not about advancement or money. It’s not even really about COVID.
I’m tired of being tired.
Stress and burnout in education are real. Teaching isn’t healthy and life-giving right now. If it were, I would stay.
I have faith that COVID teaching will pass, but I’ve realized that some of my greatest stressors in teaching will not. As the education system stands now, there will always be massive amounts of overtime, and there will never be enough hours to do all the things we know are important to being excellent educators.Continue reading
America Is Reaping What It Sowed In Ukraine
So what are Americans to believe about the rising tensions over Ukraine? The United States and Russia both claim their escalations are defensive, responding to threats and escalations by the other side, but the resulting spiral of escalation can only make war more likely. Ukrainian President Zelensky is warning that “panic” by U.S. and Western leaders is already causing economic destabilization in Ukraine.
U.S. allies do not all support the current U.S. policy. Germany is wisely refusing to funnel more weapons into Ukraine, in keeping with its long-standing policy of not sending weapons into conflict zones. Ralf Stegner, a senior Member of Parliament for Germany’s ruling Social Democrats, told the BBC on January 25th that the Minsk-Normandy process agreed to by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in 2015 is still the right framework for ending the civil war.Continue reading