Yesterday’s Democratic debate

I have been busy on a tight deadline with the book proofs and creating an index. These are two crashingly boring tasks, requiring close attention to detail and the only thing that keeps me going is because of my desire to make the end product as free from errors as possible. But as a result, I just could not spare the two hours or so to watch the first night of the second round of debates. So this post is based on second-hand information, so read at your peril!

However, from what I could read after the debate, it seemed to consist of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren staking out and reinforcing their progressive visions on major issues, while John Hickenlooper, Steve Bullock, Tim Ryan, and John Delaney tried to dismiss those as unrealistic and election losers. Trying to straddle the space in-between were Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Marianne Williamson. The impression was that O’Rouke needed a big night to boost his campaign and remain viable but he did not achieve it.

[UPDATE: Robert Mackey describes how Warren and Sanders effectively swatted away the right-wing framing of the questions that looked to him like a planned ambush by CNN to discredit especially their health care plans that threaten the private health insurance industry. Mackey’s piece is well worth reading.

Rolling Stone magazine also had a good breakdown of each person’s performances in the debate.]
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More Saudi Arabian atrocities

That country’s barbarism is well documented. But Mehdi Hasan writes that it continues to sink even lower, now threatening to execute someone for an offense that was committed when he was just ten years old.

IN 2011, as Arab Spring protests swept across the Middle East, demonstrations also kicked off in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province. Members of the kingdom’s repressed Shiite minority took to the streets, calling for equal rights and a fairer distribution of oil revenues. The protesters included a group of around 30 kids on bicycles. As a video released last week by CNN shows, those children were led by a smiling 10-year-old in flip-flops named Murtaja Qureiris.
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Theresa May’s final humiliation

Theresa May has become a pathetic punching bag, pummeled for one failure after another, the biggest of course being her utter messing up of the Brexit process. She leaves office ignominiously on Friday, June 7 but the British public will have one last chance to give her a raspberry when she hosts Donald Trump for a three-day state visit beginning today for which hundreds of thousands are expected to protest, including flying the Trump baby blimp.

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The cruel and inhumane US (in)justice system

The absurdly disparate sentences that are issued in the US legal system is vividly on display in the case of Michael Thompson, aged 68, who has served 25 years of a 40- to 60-year sentence in a Michigan prison. Tana Ganeva describes his case.

In 1994, Thompson sold 3 pounds of pot to a police informant. Michigan legalized pot in 2018, laying the groundwork for a profitable legal industry, making it that much harder for him to understand why he’s still behind bars. “You know after 25 years, you don’t feel nothing no more. You just feel numb,” he said.
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The Pacific Ocean is big. Like, really, really big

Because of the way that flat maps are drawn with the Atlantic Ocean in the middle and the Pacific Ocean split and placed at the left and right extremes, it is easy to not realize how big the latter ocean is. Google maps now shows maps on a spherical basis and if you zoom out, you get a view of how the ocean covers pretty much half the globe. You see the Americas on the right edge, Asia on the left edge, and only Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea form the major land masses.

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The Julian Assange case and freedom of the press

The removal of Julian Assange from the London embassy of Ecuador following the revoking of his asylum has raised concerns about the implications for press freedom. The US immediately unsealed a secret grand jury indictment that it had obtained earlier and used it to demand his extradition to the US. The main charge against him is that of a conspiracy to hack into government computers to obtain secret documents.
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“They may have the money and power. We have the people.” Bernie runs!

Bernie Sanders announced today that he is running again for the Democratic presidential nomination and I immediately sent in a contribution. Within four hours of his announcement he had raised $1 million. He is also seeking to sign up one million campaign volunteers, and that would be great because the only way you defeat the big money contributors who run things is with people power. As he says, “They may have the money and power. We have the people.” I think that he is someone who can dish it out to Trump the way he deserves, with Sanders calling him a “pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction”.”

His platform, given below, consists of measures that I can fully endorse. When he ran four years ago, people dismissed many of his proposals as naïve and unrealistic. Now pretty much all the Democratic candidates have adopted them, showing how much he has changed the conversation. Sanders, like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, has been fighting for these socialist values all his life, convinced that they would eventually resonate with voters and I think that time is near. If he does not win the nomination I am pretty sure that whoever does win it, especially if it is Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown, will have endorsed many of the same issues and ditch the neoliberal triangulation rubbish that the Clintons espoused. For that very reason, be prepared for the neoliberals in the Democratic party to wage all out attacks on Sanders and those who adopt that kind of platform, just like the neoliberal Blairite rump wing of the Labour party are attacking and undermining Corbyn. Bernie’s message echoes that of Labour’s campaign slogan “For the many, not the few”.
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