He is Impeached (now go binge Watchmen!)

Third Cultured vol 41

Happy Impeachment Day!

It’s the middle of the week and I’m still not over Watchmen. If you haven’t watched it yet, do yourself a favor and binge all nine episodes. They are among the best TV you’ll ever watch in your life. As a big fan of Lost and The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof can do no wrong, and Watchmen was his best yet. (After you’ve watched, read this and this.)

The show opens with what most know (if they know it all) as the “Tulsa Race Riot” but it is more correctly called the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre.

Just this week, it was announced we may have found mass graves containing the more than 300 Black people who were murdered during the single greatest act of American domestic terrorism.

White Americans were driven mad by their racism at the sight of successful, thriving Black people. They flew planes over the street and shot the people down below.

Destroyed their businesses. Destroyed their homes. Destroyed anything Black.

We have both come a long way and – as 2019 made clear – not moved at all.

Today, the US House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on both Article I: Abuse of Power (230-197-1-3) and Article II: Obstruction of Justice (229-198-1-3). A man elected by stoking and harnessing the fear of working and ruling class white people coming to realize that the Americas, even their little bubbles, were never White. That their “power” was always dependent on the subjugation and oppression of an “other” crafted for their consumption.

“White America” – that diabolical, mythical monolith – knows its time is up.

The propaganda sold as history has been exposed as the sanitized lies they are. An undemocratic system built to favor rural voters over urban ones is crumbling under the weight and scale of urbanization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Trump and his administration are a last-ditch effort to cling to white authority. To cling to an America Ronald Reagan even knew needed to be left in the 20th Century.

To cling to Tulsa’s America in 1921.

To that, the American people yell a collective, “Not today!”

Until Friday,

Kyle


“It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.”

750+ historians in a letter urging the House to impeach President Trump


American Empire

$1.4 trillion – A spending package passed by Congress to avert a partial government shutdown that raises the U.S. tobacco purchasing age to 21, permanently repeal several of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) taxes, and overhauls military housing.

$738 Billion – The defense policy bill passed by Congress which created Space Force.

$1.5 billion – Amount the United States has committed to Ukraine since Russia’s intervention in 2014.

4,000 – The number of troops Trump is withdrawing from Afghanistan, leaving 8,000–9,000 to lead counterinsurgency efforts as the 19-year war draws down.

Alabama’s junior US Senator Doug Jones repealed the "Military Widow’s Tax,” which has kept military spouses from receiving their full benefits for decades.

Army cadets and Navy midshipmen were recorded doing a white supremacist hand symbol at the Army-Navy football game over the weekend.

Boeing is halting production of its 737 after being grounded for nine-months with no likely end in sight. For now, the company says there will be no layoffs. Southwest airlines have already lost $500 million from the grounding and it stands to lose even more with this recent announcement.

Carter Doctrine is no longer a factor in US foreign policy, as long as Trump has anything to say about it. With the shale oil boom, Washington is less motivated to protect the oil supplies going in-and-out of the Persian Gulf.

The Carter Doctrine explicitly committed the United States to defend the oil fields of the Persian Gulf against external threats. Carter’s successor, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, built on this strategy with what should be seen as a “Reagan Corollary,” which committed Washington to defending the free export of Gulf oil against threats from within the Middle East as well. 

Gossip in DC and Beijing says there may be a Trump-Xi meeting at Davos (January 21-24) to sign the trade deal. The spectacle does sound right up Trump/Xi’s alley, but it has yet to be confirmed.

Homeless encampments in the San Francisco Bay Area are among the most desolate places on Earth. The NYTimes spent three months getting to the know the people of a Bay Area encampment and then compared it to one in Mexico City. The one in the richest city in the richest country in human history was worse. Worth a read.

Iranian proxies fired missiles on an Iraqi military base where US troops are stationed. The US reiterated that it sees no sunlight between Iran and its proxies throughout the Middle East, so if US troops are harmed – Washington will retaliate in kind. On Monday, Secretary of Defense Esper called on Iraq to step up its security measures, especially around bases/facilities housing US personnel.

Is the global economy stabilizing? Or is this the calm before the storm?

  • The U.S.-China trade war (appears) to have peaked

  • The British election has cemented a 2020 Brexit

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve has halted its interest rate cuts

Kurdish commander calls on the US to hold Turkey to the terms of the ceasefire as Ankara continues to displace Kurdish people in Northern Syria. The general asked for international observers to be present in order to maintain the trepid peace.

Mexico rejected a part of the USMCA over labor enforcement mechanisms, accusing the US of blindsiding them with a provision designating labor monitors.

One of the largest methane gas leaks in US history occurred in Ohio last year, and no one would’ve known anything about if it wasn’t for a new satellite in the air that tracks methane levels around the globe.

The blowout, in February 2018 at a natural gas well run by an Exxon Mobil subsidiary in Belmont County, Ohio, released more methane than the entire oil and gas industries of many nations do in a year, the research team found. The Ohio episode triggered about 100 residents within a one-mile radius to evacuate their homes while workers scrambled to plug the well.

Pompeo wants an exhibit at the Dubai 2020 world expo…he wants us to pay for it.

SCOTUS ruled in favor of the rights of homeless Americans by refusing to hear a case that challenged the constitutionality for laws that prohibit sleeping or camping in parks or on public streets when no shelter space is available. The Ninth Circuit determined to criminalize homelessness and street encampments amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment,” violating the Eighth Amendment.

South Korea and the US couldn’t agree to the cost of housing 28,500 troops in South Korea. However, as in all Trump’s deals, after talks fell apart the administration backed away from its most controversial demand: the $5 billion price tag.

Trump administration seeks to spur private sector investment in Latin America as China continues to grow its influence in the region, investing $141 billion since 2005.

Trump’s big wins are, as he sees it, his “grand finale” when paired with impeachment.

Turkey threatens to block US usage of Incirlik Air Base over Congress’ recent bills reprimanding Ankara for its Syrian incursion, its treatment of refugees, the purchase of Russian arms, and acknowledging the Armenian genocide. (How much longer will we pretend Turkey is a good faith NATO ally?)

Two Chinese diplomats were expelled from the US for spying on a military base. It’s the first time Chinese diplomats were suspected of espionage in more than 30 years.

UK and US talk up a post-Brexit trade deal. (Britain’s NHS is on the menu.)

US envoy on North Korea warned Pyongyang against a major weapons test it has been alluding to for several weeks.

US Senate sanctioned governments and companies connected to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will link Germany with Russian gas.

Where is the outrage over the Afghanistan Papers? Are Americans to beat down?

Wisconsin is purging 200,000+ voter files before the 2020 election. Remember, the GOP only won the Georgia governor race because of voter suppression tactics like this one. Before 2013, the Voting Rights Act regulated these racist states. Now? They’ve been free to discriminate for almost a decade as our electoral map suffers.

2020 Election

  • Buzzfeed News wrote a great profile on Senator Bernie Sanders. #NotMeUs

    "He peers down at a line of dark, matted grass where, a few paces from his feet, inches from the base of the trailer, sewage flows via exposed PVC pipes into a shallow open-air trench. 'Is this uncommon in this part of the world?' he asks, steering the conversation for his unseen audience, and the cameras swing back to Pamela and Catherine.

    The sun is beating down. Bernie rolls up his sleeves and starts talking gravely about how this is the richest country in the history of the world... 'Today we’re in Lowndes County, Alabama, in an African-American community,' he is saying. 'Tomorrow we’ll be in California in a Latino community, or in West Virginia in a white community, and the stories will be the same.' You can see his bald head turning shades of pink and red. Everyone is sweating. Pamela is talking about her mother’s death. It is not an easy conversation. 'This is America,' he is saying.

    The major papers describe this period as a “renaissance” and “resurgence.” In polls conducted since the heart attack, he has either maintained his position or become even more competitive. He has a shot at Iowa. He looks good in Nevada and California. He remains the only candidate with more donations than Donald Trump. And he has some $1.67 million coming in each month from people who have signed up for automatic recurring donations.

  • The Post chronicled Mayor Pete’s lifelong struggle to understand Black people. As a gay white man from a military family, I find it to be utter nonsense that anyone would give him a pass for the “misunderstandings” he has time after time. How can he wax poetically about the need to reach out to Christian Conservatives, but has to be led by the nose through a meal with a Al Sharpton?

    He brought it up with the Rev. Al Sharpton when they dined at a soul food restaurant in Harlem. Sharpton noticed that Buttigieg was “very self-conscious in that he did not want to rub people the wrong way or be misunderstood,” so much so that he asked Sharpton if it was okay to eat fried chicken with his hands.

    In many ways, Buttigieg’s struggle contrasts with another front-runner who is trying to appeal to moderates, former vice president Joe Biden. Biden’s racial lens was largely based on forming relationships, which have endeared him to black voters in South Carolina even as a young generation harps on his lack of familiarity in discussing systemic racism.

    Buttigieg, meanwhile, has been criticized for understanding race on an academic level, but not on a personal one. It’s the difference in their approaches in their formative years. When Biden wanted to learn about black culture, he took himself to the local pool. Buttigieg went to the bookshelf.


"I think we fell into that quintessential American trap of believing that because we have unchallenged military might, that that can translate into the ability to turn foreign countries into miniature versions of ourselves."

Jason Dempsey, a retired Army officer who served in Afghanistan


China, Europe, Russia, and Everyone Else

$16 trillion – The size of the EU’s economy post-Brexit.

Beijing continues to target Western sports stars for speaking out against China’s treatment of the Uighurs. This time it was Arsenal's Mesut Özil.

Boris Johnson to make extending Brexit past 2020 illegal. (Thank goodness.)

Former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, sat down for an interview with The Intercept to discuss the state of leftism in Latin America.

Germany is moving to ban Huawei from its 5G network. Beijing has threatened to ban German auto manufacturer’s access to its market due to “safety concerns” if Berlin follows through on its plans. Merkel does not believe any country or company should be excluded by law, seeing it as a slippery slope.

Gideon Saar challenged Bibi for the leadership of Israel’s right-wing Likud party.

Guineans are protesting by thousands as President Alpha Conde seeks to rewrite the nation’s constitution in order to seek a third term.

Japan’s defense minister criticized China for its South China Sea buildup and its recent military exercises that Beijing says are to prepare for “unexpected confrontations.”

Lebanon may re-instate the same Prime Minister who protesters forced to resign in October because there is no other candidate that can come close to a consensus.

Nigeria’s decision on the detention of a US-based activist/journalist is being seen as a key test for the democracy behind Africa’s largest economy.

North Korea receives a lifeline from big friends, China and Russia, as the superpowers pitch the UN to relieve sanctions on the Hermit Kingdom.

One of Boris Johnson’s first moves the UK with a renewed mandate? Gut the BBC.

Pervez Musharraf, a former Pakistani prime minister, was sentenced to death. However, he is in self-exile in Dubai, so there’s little that can be done about it.

Poland is threatening to leave the European Union. Was a Brexit effect just delayed?

Protests spread throughout India and South Asia over Delhi’s new citizenship law. Some are angry the law excludes Muslims and others are worried the new law will encourage illegal immigration from neighboring countries.

Russian arms sales increased to $13 billion in 2019, even with current sanctions.


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Cities, Climate, Culture & Corporations

100 books that defined the decade.

2019 was the year of the Chicken Sandwich. Southernification of America – complete.

“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey went to #1 this week, 25 years after its initial release. With the achievement, Mimi shattered the few records she hadn’t beaten already. It was her 19th number one – the most for a solo artist – which brings her within one of The Beatles record 20 on the Hot 100.

An ode to the (Black) bottom.

I guess wanting to be Southern is very intentional for me. It’s in the food I cook. I’m always asking, how do I keep a Southern culture alive in my life even if I don’t live there? And then also, like, what is that culture? What does that mean for me as a Black queer person from a working class family in the South, as someone who grew up in a specific Black community? I just remember my grandma telling me all these stories. I was growing up around people in the community and all of us had some type of connection—like, my grandma grew up with the lady down the street, for example. That’s really how I became interested in writing. And then I got older and realized that the older people were passing away and there are these stories that won’t ever get told again. And how do you preserve those stories, and also preserve the culture that bred those stories? For me, cooking is a way for me to do this. And it also helps me to understand like the diversity of the South. So in African culture, for example, they have jolof rice, and here in Savannah we have something called red rice and it’s basically the same, rice cooked in my tomato sauce. I think I’ve put that into my writing a lot. It’s like how Zora Neale Hurston was an anthropologist.

Bangkok is looking to curb its world-famous street vendors. (Folks aren’t having it.)

Congolese families are suing Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft, and others for their role in the death of children working in cobalt mines in the DRC, the first time tech companies had been named in such a case. The Congo produces more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt, which powers smartphones, laptops and electric cars.

Moderators of Google and YouTube are experiencing PTSD from the vitriolic content – violent extremism/white supremacy – they are forced to moderate.

  • Google created a dedicated queue for videos believed to contain violent extremism and staffed it with dozens of low-paid immigrants from the Middle East. Moderators make $18.50 an hour — about $37,000 a year — and have not received a raise in two years. 

  • Austin, TX moderators are required to view five hours of gruesome video per day. This comes despite the fact that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki promised to reduce their burden to four hours per day last year.

  • Workers on the site describe feeling anxiety, depression, night terrors, and other severe mental health consequences after doing the job for as little as six months. 

Mormons are hoarding $100 billion meant for charitable purposes. I know we’re all shocked to find out that a religious institution is massively corrupt.

PBS is producing an LGBTQ+ kids show.

Pope Francis abolished “pontifical secrecy” which allowed the Church to shield sexual abusers from official inquiries from civil authorities.

Somehow…Slate boiled a decade of Queer progress down to Mayo Pete. *eye roll*

SpaceX and Boeing close to flying NASA astronauts to the ISS.

Survivors and family members of Pulse nightclub victims are pushing back against a planned $45 million museum that’s been pitched as a memorial for the massacre, which was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history at the time.

“My son’s brutal death is not a tourist attraction to fill hotel rooms,” said Christine Leinonen, the mother of Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32, who was fatally shot. “It’s obnoxious. They smell money. My son is the money that they smell.”

The Salvation Army is trying to fix its anti-LGBTQ+ image. It’s not going well.

UN climate conference ends with a thud. Without US leadership, climate progress is unlikely to been seen on a global scale. For instance, China is waiting until after the 2020 election to decide how it will proceed in regards to climate change.