Russia’s Red Line

“They must understand,” Sergei Lavrov said in one of his many public statements last week, “that the key to everything is the guarantee that NATO will not expand eastward.”

The Russian foreign minister has repeated this thought almost ad infinitum lately. He speaks, of course, of the Biden administration and the diplomats who bear its messages to others.

Here is another of Lavrov’s recent utterances:

“We are very patient… we have been harnessing [burdens] for a very long time, and now it’s time for us to go.”

I do not know quite what Lavrov means by “harnessing burdens.” I suspect it is a translation problem, and he said something closer to “bearing burdens.”

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The Limits Of Privatized Climate Policy

For many in the climate movement, Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020 was a moment of euphoric optimism. With Joe Biden in charge, we could look forward to a possible return to climate action and diplomacy. No longer would policy be shaped by denialists, politicians proudly in Exxon’s back pocket, and a media fixated on the “costs” of public investment. A year on, it’s become easier to see the limits of the Biden administration’s approach, and how little has really changed.

There have been moments of genuine ambition from the Oval Office. The clean electricity pledges of the fall 2021 budget package and the climate-related investment promised in early versions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act were among the most significant climate commitments we’ve seen from the U.S. government (hence the staunch resistance to their passage from Exxon’s man on Capitol Hill, Joe Manchin).

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Let Us Turn Our Anger At Biden Into Organization

We should take the examples of the Biden administration reversing course on unpopular decisions — refusing to extend the student loan moratorium, refusing to send masks, etc — as but a taste of the power we could have if we used our rage to get organized. Biden and his cronies are far more scared of our power as workers than they are of our tweets. So, what concessions have been given, have been given to stave off the birth of a social movement that could win a lot more.

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On The Biden Plantation

“Biden came across as a plantation owner telling the field hands that they have a good life and ought to be grateful.”

This columnist wrote those words in December 2020 before Joe Biden was inaugurated. His meeting with a group designated as Black leaders was as bad as one could expect, complete with dismissal, rudeness, and outright disrespect. It was vintage Biden, a man who was never the brightest and is now elderly and not fully in command of his faculties.

But the real Biden was always an unreconstructed racist, bragging about the 1992 Crime Bill which he said would, “Do everything but hang people for jaywalking.” Barack Obama chose him as a running mate precisely because of his credentials among conservative, race baiting democrats.

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Biden And His Promises, Promises

Every time I watch or read news updates on another promise that Joe Biden has reneged on, I hear this song in my head, jaunty synthesizer music and all. Because I seriously cannot figure out why people believed this guy and all his promises.

Remember the promise he made to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for everyone? Has it happened? Nope. What he has done instead was to extend the loan payment suspension first until January 2022, with payments originally set to resume in February 2022. Then after a nationwide outcry from those burdened with student loans that were coming due in the new year with no relief in sight from a pandemic that continues to ravage the nation, the federal student loan forbearance program was extended again to May 2022 .

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Biden Urged To Fire Covid Response Chief Over ‘Damning’ Failures

President Joe Biden is coming under growing pressure to fire White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients—a former private equity executive with no public health background—as the administration continues to face criticism over its slow-moving and inadequate efforts to combat Covid-19.

Watchdog groups have long warned that Zients is not qualified to take on the massive task of leading the federal government’s pandemic response given both his lack of scientific and medical experience as well as his record in the private sector, where his firm invested in a company accused of exploitative surprise billing.

Early critics of Biden’s decision to appoint Zients to the key post believe their fears have been realized during the Omicron surge, which has laid bare the administration’s failure to prepare for a highly contagious variant that experts warned was all but inevitable.

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Biden’s Failure To Provide At-Home Covid Tests Looks Extra Ridiculous

After two years without being able to travel home from London, England to Los Angeles, Cali. to see my family, I finally arrived in a chaotic U.S. in time for the holidays amid the Omicron wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although I’d been preparing for a difficult return thanks to the new variant, I had been eager to see my family now that I’m finally vaccinated against Covid-19 and that my partner, who holds a British passport, was able to visit alongside me after more than a year of travel restrictions barring Europeans. What I hadn’t been expecting, however, was to find family and friends desperately trying to procure rapid antigen tests as many of them developed Covid symptoms and wanted to protect their loved ones and community over the holidays.

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What Was Washington’s Real Agenda At Russia Meeting?

When I was a union organizer with the United Farm Workers I twice served on a contract negotiating committee – as the note-taker. I learned that the very first clause negotiated in any union contract is the ‘Recognition’ by the company of the union’s right to bargain on behalf of the workers.

This recent meeting between Russia and U.S. in Geneva proved to me that Washington does not recognize Russia as an equal bargaining entity. Instead the US arrogantly believes it can pre-determine its policy – in this case steroidal NATO expansion and regime change in Russia. This is clearly the US agenda.

Washington and Brussels (and London of course) can’t afford to recognize Russia as an equal.

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Ukraine: What Does It Have To Do With Black Folks?

The worldview of liberals usually ends at the borders of the U.S. settler-state until they are mobilized by the oligarchy to provide ideological cover for the latest imperialist intrigue. This is as true for the liberal Black “misleadership” class as it is for Euro-American liberals.

But U.S.-centrism and class collaboration are not just maladies of the liberal class. Self-identified radicals or leftists from all backgrounds also suffer from this affliction, resulting in a very thin social base for anti-imperialism in the U.S., and even throughout Western Europe.

So, Ukraine, Russia, and NATO feel like a world away and in no way relevant to the everyday grind that the millions of working people are forced to engage in as part of this vicious, backward social, economic system called capitalism.

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Is It The End Of American Adventurism?

One year into the Joe Biden administration and most of the world has accepted two realities. First, America is not back, and Biden’s slogans notwithstanding, there simply is no going back to the pre-Trump era. Secondly, whether America keeps troops in various parts of the world or brings them home, America’s will to fight is by and large no longer there. Its implications for the trans-Atlantic relationship will be profound. Europe would be wise to pro-actively adjust its defense policies accordingly.

American decision-makers have long warned allies and partners that the United States must reduce its security obligations, lighten its military footprints in certain regions and that greater burden-sharing is inescapable.

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Inaction On Tax Credit Condemns Millions Of Children To Poverty

Working-class families are faced with an extra burden as the new year begins – the expiration of the expanded child tax credit. The expansion provided support for families struggling during the pandemic by changing some key factors of the already existing credit. Namely, the expansion increased the annual amount per child from $2,000 to between $3,000 and $3,600, it paid the credit in monthly installments rather than in one lump sum, and it expanded the full benefits of the credit to families who previously had been ruled ineligible due to their income being too low. 

On the same day that the CTC expansion expired, there were almost 450,000 new COVID cases reported, almost double the number reported at the same time in 2021.

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Ending The Pandemic Is Not An ‘Individual Responsibility’

After a year and a half, the ravages of the pandemic show no signs of slowing down. The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly around the globe and is now the dominant version of Covid in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 73 percent of new cases. The U.S. is now averaging over 213,751 new Covid cases per day, which is equal to 85 percent of the number of cases during the peak when the highest daily average was reported on January 7, 2021.

While it is still unclear if Omicron causes more severe symptoms than other strains of Covid, it’s clear based on the variant’s high transmissibility1 that the sheer number of infections puts the most vulnerable members of the population at serious risk of illness. In just six weeks there has been a 39 percent increase in Covid-related hospitalizations all over the country, likely from the spreading of both the Delta and Omicron variants.

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Law Requires Biden To Cancel Oil Lease Sale To Prevent Climate Harm

Washington — Conservation groups submitted formal comments today urging cancelation of February’s federal oil and gas lease auctions, saying the Biden administration is legally required to prevent harm from the leasing program’s greenhouse gas emissions, not just disclose it.

“The Biden administration must do more than simply talk about climate change, it has a duty to take action on a scale and with a sense of urgency that the climate crisis demands,” said Kyle Tisdel, attorney and Climate & Energy Program director with Western Environmental Law Center. “The ongoing sale and development of federal oil and gas is not only inconsistent with climate science, but a breach of the moral obligation we have to current and future generations.”

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Weapons Industry Is Jubilant About Biden’s Nominee For Arms Buyer

LaPlante is being poached directly from the military industry that is praising him, which he entered after serving in an acquisitions role under the Obama administration, where he was known for shepherding through major (and controversial) programs, such as the acquisition of the F‑35 fighter jet.

By moving from government to industry, then back to government (should the Senate confirm him), all while the weapons industry cheers, LaPlante has spun through a well-trodden revolving door — a career trajectory that is entirely routine, but nonetheless scandalous.

In a November 30 White House statement, President Biden praised LaPlante as a “seasoned national security leader with nearly four decades of experience in acquisition, technology, sustainment and the defense industrial base.”

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Documents Reveal Biden Not Fighting For A Covid Vaccine Patent Waiver

On November 26, as news of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 stoked alarm around the world, the White House released a statement calling on countries to support an intellectual property waiver for Covid-19 vaccines.

“I call on the nations gathering next week for the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to meet the U.S. challenge to waive intellectual property protections for Covid vaccines, so these vaccines can be manufactured globally,” said President Joe Biden. “I endorsed this position in April; this news today reiterates the importance of moving on this quickly.”

However, this public statement, which garnered numerous headlines, stands in stark contrast with what the Biden administration did — or did not do — behind closed doors at the WTO on November 29.

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