Are Obama’s Russia sanctions an attempt to disrupt a Nuclear First Strike under Trump by the US with a follow on strike by Russia? China is disrupting efforts by OPEC, including Russia, to raise oil prices. Russia badly needs that revenue, hence the support for Trump and EXXON CEO and Russian biz partner Rex Tillerson who would lift sanctions against Russia and look away as Russia continues its aggressive strategic influence effort with Turkey, Iran and Syria. Russia benefits greatly with a broken China. Trump has surrounded himself with hawkish generals and advisors vehemently anti-China, who doubtless believe conflict with China is inevitable. Taiwan is the flashpoint, Chinese military assertions in the pacific the excuse. China has 200 total nukes, perhaps 75-100 capable of hitting the US against our 2000+, plus our better missile defense. They will greatly upgrade their naval capabilities over the next decade, but are currently outmatched by US Pacific forces. A case could be made by his advisors of a first strike now before China grows stronger. Immediate casualties in US, 6-10 million, with lethal fallout contaminating much of the nation for decades. Most the dead would be in large urban areas that tended not to support Trump. China casualties, 20-40 million, but with greater devastation to infrastructure, industry and leadership, and a likely break up of the country.


Cost of Domestic Production vs Foreign Manufacturing.

Cost of Domestic Production vs Foreign Manufacturing.

Trump is about to feel the sting of his own corporate media and news propaganda apparatus. For the American worker and the average American, it will simply be more of the same, obscuring truths with fictions created or pushed by people who are either too ill-informed to separate truth from falsehoods, or are willing to promote untruths for a paycheck, payback or position.

In the past Helter Skelter pointed out basic market realities twisted or blatantly lied about by greed-capitalists to make the case against unions, and more recently, against the Fight for 15 Dollars an hour minimum wage effort. Helter Skelter was with this going back to the mid-1990’s during an interview on WLS-am in Chicago in which the host, Eileen Byrne, asserted that if Nike produced $125 Air Jordans in the US instead of Vietnam, those shoes would cost double. It was a simple thing to call Nike and get the unit production cost, that is, the cost of producing a single pair of Jordans in Vietnam. The cost? 26 cents per unit. Therefore, by doubling the salary of a Vietnamese sweatshop worker, you would then double the unit cost. 52 Cents. That would translate to an extra 26 cents per shoe  in stores. If you are paying 125 already for a shoe, 26 cents more really isn’t going to sway your purchasing decision.

Fast forward to the #Fightfor15 effort. Stephen Moore, Trump’s own economic advisor and numerous hosts and talking heads on FOX and CNN, to name a few terrify viewers and listeners with fears of $10 McDonald’s hamburgers. All those brilliant economists seem to believe that it is a one for one transaction, rather than the economic reality that the cost of a McDonald’s hamburger, already close to $5 before the Fightfor15 controversy began, is spread out over many hundreds or thousands of transactions. Marketing 101.

So now pieces are appearing challenging Trump’s token assault on overseas manufacturing, following the Carrier slight of hand deal. From a recent article, can you see what is wrong here:

“If you look at labor rates around some of the really cheap areas, Vietnam is like $2.50, and Bangladesh is like $1.80 an hour,” he says. By comparison, IHS’ analysts calculate the labor rate in the U.S. at $25-$30 per hour (a number that takes into account costs beyond an employee’s wages). “So even if there’s an hour worth of labor in a blouse or a men’s shirt, now you’re talking about a $25 buck difference per piece,” he says of the manufacturing cost…Levi’s “Original fit selvedge jeans” cost around $128. But the selvedge jeans of the same fit from the company’s “Made in the USA” collection, which uses premium denim from Cone Mills of North Carolina, were listed online for $348.”

Yet, the cost on Amazon is between $24 and $77. Again, a little research shows the expectation by Levis is that it takes 1 hour to make 5 pairs of Levis. Even taking the $128 figure, that gives us a per unit labor cost of 50 cents in Vietnam. If those same jeans were made in the US, exempting cheaper shipping costs, at $30 dollars/hour we now have a per unit labor cost of $6, or $5.5 dollars incorporated into the cost of a pair of pants, not $30.

The math never lies…

Stacking the deck

Stacking the deck


The headline was dramatic and helps feed an anti-immigrant, refugee scare narrative used as a xenophobic fear tactic in the current presidential campaign. Never mind that it really wasn’t about a refugee gone mad, or a terrorist hidden within Syrian refugees. And while the article finally gets around to mentioning that this conflicted and misguided man had been harassed and bullied at work, and even stopped coming to work because of the harassment, it isn’t until 2/3 of the way through the article before that is made clear. Instead, the messaging is about the quiet refugee turned killer, an addendum to the continuing narrative that refugees, immigrants and minorities are quietly biding their time, conspiring to do unspeakable and unpatriotic acts against the suburbs.

“Fekede,” a Kenyan immigrant, the article finally clarified, “complained about a man at work who would intimidate and pick on him. (A neighbor) said Fekede transferred departments but ultimately quit when the problems continued.”

Proof of bias that has become this sinister and sick and un-American narrative about immigrants, refugees, which have merely become tools in an effort to focus White fear in elections. Nothing is said of the real crisis that manufactured fear diverts attention and resources away from.

There are currently some 60 million refugees, according to conservative estimates from the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, fleeing persecution, war and conflict. They are the consequences of, in no small part, the business models of the largest international arms dealers reaping vast fortunes; the United States, Russia, China and European nations being responsible for much of the world’s arms trade. I personally witnessed the complex nature of that business during the break up of the former Yugoslavia, where an arms embargo was used as a profit mechanism, forcing the cost of arms to rise by as much as 25 times.

Millions of displaced persons, many from US or US sponsored wars, as well as oppressive regimes, have been settled here since the mid-Seventies. The US has agreed to sponsor one hundred thousand, a miniscule fraction of the global total now overwhelming the planet. The current conversation, re: diatribe in America regarding refugees might be better spent correcting the cause of much of that flood, that is unrestricted and unrestrained arms proliferation that makes war profitable for a few, and by holding its government responsible for failed policies that instigate global chaos so that oil and weapons profiteers can operate with impunity.

Escape from Sarajevo

Escape from Sarajevo

The following is an excerpt from Everything for Love:

Damir and I passed quickly through Alipashno, jogging the open ground into Dobrinja.  Despite the fog the Dobrinja was alive with the pop and crackle of small arms fire. I followed a few paces behind Damir, just as he had instructed. He chanced a look in my direction and gave a reassuring nod.

We passed through the first few blocks without difficulty. That luxury was painfully short lived. The Dobrinja canal ran lengthwise through the tortured apartment blocks. Ignoring the fog, the Serbs fired on the approaches of a small sandbagged bridge. The ground was open to either side of the canal. Serbian gunners firing from either end of the canal effectively cut Bosnian territory in half here.

 Damir and I waited for the shooting to let up then made a dash for the bridge. We reached it just as the shooting began again. Bullets sounded like angry hornets slapping into the sandbags along the bridge. A small trench at the far side covered part of the open ground there. The shooting was even worse there, and a number of men clustered at the edge of the trench waiting for the shooting to abate. One by one we made for the cover of buildings forty yards away.

There was a cordon of soldiers up ahead, and more in the vacant windows overlooking the street. I recognized one of them. It was Karlo, the soldier who felt so guilty the night I was arrested in Dobrinja. Our eyes met for an instant and a cold shiver ran down my spine. He was looking at me when Damir pulled up my collar and shoved my head down. I glanced back at Karlo. He turned and walked away.

“Wait here,” said Damir.

He chatted with several soldiers for a moment then waved me over. Before anyone could protest or question us, he shoved me through the line, and kept pushing until we were safely inside the first building of the tunnel complex. We paused and looked back along the street to be sure no one had followed.

“That was too easy,” he said. “Ajmo.”

The building was as dank and dark as a dungeon. We were in a narrow passageway with small windows and gaps every few yards or so. The walls had been stripped to the bare concrete. The floor was a mess of mud and debris. Bullet holes peppered the walls at each window. Dark stains among them told the price of miscalculation. The nearest Serb lines were barely a hundred yards.

The passage turned to the right up through gutted apartment flats. We came upon a long line of ragged-looking refugees. The air was heavy and thick, and filled with the acrid bite of urine and unwashed human bodies. Someone had shit their pants and a woman near me vomited and collapsed to the muddy floor sobbing. Bullets slapped loudly against the building.

This was a desperate place. This was the siege. It was at once heartbreaking and hopeful. It was a supremely human place, and cursed with every human failing. But the tunnel was a constant contradiction. It was here that Sarajevo defended herself on one hand, and defiled herself on the other. Women bartered their bodies and men gave their souls to the devil for the chance of crossing to freedom. The men who fought and died defending the tunnel were a special breed, but everywhere there were opportunists who preyed on the desperate and weak, like rats coming to a carcass. More than anything the fate of Sarajevo depended on this place.

Damir left me and pushed ahead through the tightly packed bodies. By the soft moans and muzzled sobs I guessed that many had been there for many hours, perhaps  days. I could only wonder what that meant for my chances. Damir returned a short time later. I tried to figure my chances from his expression but could not. He pulled me to the side and up against the wall.

“Maybe we wait one hour,” he whispered, “and then we go.”

“I’ve waited a month,” I replied. “I can wait one hour.”

The crowd crept forward a little. Not that anyone was getting through, but rather because of an anxious surge as the fighting outside grew worse. We were cattle, anxiously awaiting salvation or slaughter. Alternately we prayed for both. I looked at the sullen expressions around me and could feel the deadly determination of animal survival stirring in each soul. Each person was making subtle negotiations with their own humanity, each of us fully at the mercy of our individual strengths and fears.

The temperature rose with the crush of bodies. Sweat and filth streaked faces turned to the sooty ceiling for any bit of unused air. Small pockets struggled against one another. A baby cried somewhere. Grown men were reduced to tears. Nearby a woman huddled with two small girls and some bundled belongs. One man succumbed and collapsed against a post. We stepped over him as though he was trash. There was nothing more to be done.

All the while soldiers came and went from the tunnel. I wondered what place the story of the tunnel would take in Sarajevo’s long history. Outsiders had written much of the city’s history, and outsiders were forbidden from getting near the tunnel. Even to Sarajevans what happened there was but a whisper of a rumor, a shadow, a secret that doomed the memory of this place.

Damir’s hour went by, and then another. I was drenched in sweat, my own and that of those around me. It ran under my collar and over my body in slimy tentacles that made the miserable excruciating.

The crowd surged again and was fought back by soldiers. Now and again the soldiers would pull someone out line and push them down into the tunnel. There seemed no rhyme or reason, except to relieve pressure, or if a soldier recognized a face.

Damir was pleading with an officer. The officer was as filthy and haggard as the rest of us. He considered things for a moment then gave a nod.

There was no hesitation. Damir yanked me out of line and shoved me towards the tunnel. I skidded down into the hole and into an open air trench through the remains of an old farm. The ground closed around us as I dipped my head and entered the tunnel once more. Mud oozed from the walls, and the ceiling seemed to sag with the weight of tons of wet earth. Murky brown water sloshed nearly to my knees. I could feel the walls closing in on me. Panic threatened to overwhelm me. I had to stop and collect myself.

“Okay?” asked Damir sympathetically

“Yeah.” I was sweating rivers.

“Six hundred meters. Can you make it?”

“I can make it.”

He went ahead, squeezing past me in the narrow passage. There were sounds up ahead, loud splashing and clanking sounds. More soldiers were coming from the Butmir side, laden with weapons food and supplies. One of them dipped a shoulder and came at me hard, no doubt believing momentum would prevent us from getting stuck. As we ground past one another the muzzle of his rifle smashed hard into my face. It knocked me hard to the wall and I came up spitting blood and bits of tooth. I was still shaking off the blow when Damir shoved me into a little cubbyhole as two men pushed a cart of artillery shells past.

At five hundred meters I tasted fresh air again. It renewed me, and gave me the strength to finish the last hundred meters or so. Damir and I stumbled onto the road outside the tunnel, gulping in clean air. I looked back in the direction of the city. The fog erased the world beyond a small chicken coup. It was almost as if Sarajevo had never existed.

Damir walked with me as far as the dull green Zheljazhnitsa River. The fog was holding, but would not last forever. I would have to continue and find a way to Igman alone before it lifted.

“This is as far as I can go,” he said beside a half finished bridge. “Any father and I will be considered a deserter. Stay on the road to Sokolovichi, then straight across the field to Hrasnica. Remember, to the left and to the right are the Chetnik lines.”

“Damir…” I began. He cut me off.

“Maybe one day we will see each other again.”

“I owe you everything.”

“Nemam nishta,” it’s nothing, he said. “Good luck.”

TPP Action Alert: Sun, Aug 38th, 3-7p

TPP Action Alert: Sun, Aug 38th, 3-7p
Stop the TPP,
Sun, Aug 38th, 3-7p,
UE Hall on Ashland, 37 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, 60607
It is official, Obama is sending the TPP to Congress earlier than we thought – it may come up for a vote as early as Sept 9th. And the danger zone will continue through the Fall into the lame duck session, its-official-obama-to-send- congress-tpp/

We are planning a Post “Bernie – Our Revolution” meeting for further organizing to
Stop the TPP,
Sun, Aug 38th, 3-7p,
UE Hall on Ashland, 37 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, 60607

We would like to organize NO TPP Action Teams to bird dog the Pro – TPP and “vulnerable to flipping” IL Reps and Sens. (Kirk most definitely, and possibly Durbin as well).

Please grab your friends, family and neighbors and RSVP at: events/1669495316703615/

We welcome all of the No -TPP fighters from across Chicagoland to attend. All of us together will help identify our targets, break into teams, develop messages and action plans for Sept/Oct to put pressure on these specific legislators – actions could be planned for Labor Day parades, the legislative offices, and campaign stops, and more.

We will also discuss what plans may be brewing for actions in Nov and National actions as well.

Mara Cohen from People Demanding Action will be there to discuss how her Resource Hub can help each of the teams. And we will plan conf. calls going forward to share success stories, encourage each other in our actions, and share news as it comes out about IL legislators.

Please come share the plans for action in your communities. If you are already pressuring one or more of the Il Reps or Sens then you or your group can continue to be leaders in your area.

We are in the home stretch of an epic struggle to maintain our sovereignty, for the environment, and against One World Corporate Control – please do not miss the final battles against the TPP.

Thanks for all you have done already against the TPP, and all that you are about to do going forward, please share this email with your contacts – thanks.

Dr. Lora

Frack Free IL
PS – The national FlushtheTPP conf. call, typically on every other Wed, is tonight, Wed, August 17th but one hour earlier than normal – 7pn (CST).
To register for that call please go to:
http://myaccount. conference/register/ G6P276A1T572ZZOC

The Russian Connections of Hillary and Trump

The Russian Connections of Hillary and Trump

This is part of an ongoing series primarily focusing on the relationship between US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russia. It is important, however, to note and to explore Trump’s relationship to Russia, Putin and the Kremlin and to place it in context to Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Russia. There are murky and unseemly, even disturbing connections between Russia and both of the presidential hopefuls, and that can become confusing for voters. Weeding through propaganda and outright distortions by surrogates and allies for both camps, as well as Russia, makes simple assessments appear difficult.

These are deeply partisan times. Any writer on the issue accepts the risk of drawing disdain and contempt from both sides regardless of the merits of the argument. Entrenched as either side is, neither is easily dislodged from assumptions and positions, no matter how persuasive the evidence to the contrary. Both sides are guilty of an almost cult-like rationalization of their own candidate and a total demonization of the opposing candidate.

It is also necessary to establish that the Russian government has clearly done more than merely take a side in the current election. If the evidence concludes, as much of it seems to do, that Russia, or Russian surrogates acting on behalf of Russia are responsible for the DNC email hack and release to WikiLeaks, they have now directly attempted to affect the election. Never before in US history has a foreign power so brazenly and openly acted to directly affect the outcome of a US presidential election. Only one candidate can rely that a foreign government is acting aggressively to undermine their opponent.

The issue hedges fully upon both candidates connections to Russia and Russian interests. While I have detailed Donald Trumps connections, and the media has concentrated on those, Hillary Clinton’s dealing with the Russians is not as widely known. She, like many others with the means and the connections have cashed in on the capitalist wild west of the often chaotic Russian  economic environment. Clinton’s own campaign chairman John Podesta’s connections to the energy firm Joule Unlimited has been touted as proof of duplicity, corruption and dealings with the Russia’s above and beyond Donald Trump’s pageant and real estate dealings. The headline, citing Rightwing extremist Breitbart News, at bears the ominous headline : “Report: Clinton Campaign Manager Podesta Company Bagged $35M from Russian Govt.” At the end of the piece’s 4 paragraph comes this:

SPECIAL: Donate today and help the Tea Party STOP the Hillary Crime Machine’s commandeering of America before it’s too late!

Clearly the piece, describing “Clinton cronies,” and so forth, is hardly a work of journalism, but red meat for Trump supporters. But is there truth that Joule Unlimited received  $35million on a deal to help create the Russian version of Silicon Valley at a place called Skulkovo outside Moscow? Context here is critical, as the Breitbart people attempt to cloud the issue with supposition and ominous innuendo. First, in 2015 the value of trade between the two nations approached $24 billion Dollars, with companies such as United Airlines, American, Google, Cisco and many others doing business in and between the two nations. That translates into tens of thousands of jobs. Should any deal between  officials in the US government and foreign governments receive scrutiny and even be subject to restrictions? Of course. The key is whether or not doing business, or being involved in a major trading partner affects policy, and more importantly, strategic US interests.

At the onset of the Ukraine conflict, as Russian troops seized control of Crimea, long viewed as within the territorial integrity of Ukraine Clinton compared the move to Hitler’s blitzkrieg against Eastern Europe. Trump, on the other hand, in a slap to Partnership for Peace ally Ukraine, as well as NATO partners, Trump heralded and defended Russia’s invasion.

By indications US strategic interests have not been compromised when it comes to what amounts to a very tenuous case against Clinton because of a business deal be only played the part of Board member a s part of. To the contrary, Mrs Clinton here, at least, as remained consistent in prioritizing US interests and in not crafting them to suit a relationship. In other words, she has placed US strategic and economic interests above them, rather than be swayed in the ego-massaging romance of Russian leaders angling to further Russian strategic interests.

That is  where the issue becomes critical and dangerous. Already, clouded by an odd relationship, in which Mr. Trump appears almost smitten with attention by the Russian leadership, he has taken and espoused positions fully at odds with US strategy and security. Ukraine, the Baltic States, Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria and other NATO members, US allies, trading partners or countries with which the US has made security promises and agreements with are already concerned that they can no longer trust in those agreements and commitments. Certainly that will affect relationships with every other trading partner and ally about whether or not the US will or can abide by its commitments.

That is extraordinarily dangerous to the US economically, militarily and diplomatically. In a perfect world there would be acute restrictions on the problematic revolving door between the public and private sectors, particularly in areas of strategic interest where money flows through too many murky channels, such as oil and gas. Public servants like Mrs. Clinton would be barred for a number of years from working for companies with any relationship to the US government. Further, there is the issue of money in politics. Until those are addressed we are left asking if the candidate will act at a time of crisis clearly with the interests of the nation as his/her utmost priority, or if they are being pulled and swayed by outside forces.  That is the difference.

Take back Ramadan.

Take back Ramadan.

Take back Ramadan

So, I have been thinking lately about ISIS and how they might be properly marginalized or defeated. Bombs? Not so much, apparently, as they are currently being hammered by half the world, and yet, well…

Ramadan began, this year, on june 5th and runs until Tuesday, July 5th, culmination with the feast of Eid al-Fitr. Muslims observe the holiness of the month through fasting and religious observation. It also occurs to me, as a non-Muslim, that this is the month extremists of that faith traditionally undertake acts of headline grabbing acts of terror. It further occurs to me that it is predominantly Muslims who are victims of that terrorism.

Most of those killed at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, nearly all the victims in Syrian and Iraq and 121 lost today in Baghdad’s worst bombing since George Bush and Bill Clinton were Muslim. That would tend to accuse the support, sympathy or silence of most Muslims over ISIS as Trump and others would have us believe. And while it is true that many Muslims are silent, it is the silence of victims not sympathizers.

The world has become so distracted by ISIS terrorism that the holy month of Ramadan has been all but forgotten. Ramadan 2016 is almost passed, and I have neglected my Muslim friends while being blinded by hyperbole. And as it draws to a close I realize that I never wished Muslims I know a blessed Ramadan. That is terrible. I mean, it would be sort of like a bunch of bankers and hedge fund guys who call themselves Christian concocted  a scheme to tank the economy and then lobby for massive bailouts, while all the while gobbling up 401ks and foreclosing on millions of working people, and because of that we forget to celebrate Christmas. Or their media surrogates instead distract us by declaring there is a “war on Christmas.”That would never happen, of course, but I’m just saying.

Most Muslims, regardless of the outcome of the 2016 election, no doubt are expecting all sorts of grief coming their way. Even the Left legitimizes profiling, greater scrutiny on Mosques, more aggressive FBI tactics and a strengthening of no-fly lists. A major American presidential candidate is calling for bans on Muslims, and hate crimes are up. I live within a large American Muslim community here in Chicago. I have felt and witnessed the community recoiling in apprehension and even fear.

So, given all of that, I was thinking that Christian and Jewish and atheist friends and neighbors need to help some Muslim Brothers and Sisters out  bit, and that just might be the best way of marginalizing ISIS. There needs to be a take back Ramadan campaign, but I don’t think Muslims are in a position to do that given the current social and political environment. The first part of that starts with a big old “I’m sorry!” for allowing  a bunch of a-holes in the desert derail an important and beautiful holiday. Worse, they tricked me and my nation into abandoning and mistrusting fellow Americans. Sort of like those “bankers” ruining Christmas by, oh, I don’t know, kicking fellow Christians out of their homes before the holidays out of sheer greed.

Indeed, the bankers, I mean ISIS specifically chose Ramadan to foment chaos, and to drive the biggest possible wedge between communities. Given that, who is the real fool if we allow ISIS to accomplish that, them or us? So take back Ramadan. Make it about what it is, rather than what it is being perverted to resemble. Reach out. Strengthen those bonds. Build hat community and defeat that common enemy.