Tag Archives: Japan

Global Military Spending Tops $2 Trillion for First Time in History

“If global leaders actually care about charting a more secure future, then we need a massive realignment in spending priorities,” said one prominent peace group.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 4-25-2022 by Common Dreams

U.S. warplanes and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan are seen during a deployment in the Indian Ocean on June 32, 2021. (Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0)

Global military expenditures surpassed $2 trillion for the first time ever last year, with the United States spending more on its war-making capacity than the next nine nations combined, according to new data published Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported an all-time high of $2.1 trillion in worldwide military spending for 2021, a 0.7% increase from 2020 levels and the seventh straight year of increased expenditures. Continue reading

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Putin’s attack on Ukraine isn’t going as planned. What will happen next?

With an unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance, harsh global sanctions and low morale among Russian troops, we face an unpredictable few months

By Paul Rogers.  Published 3-4-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: The Resistor Sister/Twitter

Nine days into Russia’s assault on Ukraine and it is clear the Kremlin’s original plan has been derailed. The aim was to move rapidly on the capital, Kyiv, seizing the international airport to airlift troops in, then link with ground forces moving in from Belarus, occupy the city and take down the government in, at most, 72 hours.

From the start, Russia would make a concerted effort to take control of the Ukrainian air space, mainly with missile attacks on air bases, air defences and logistics support. This, combined with troops spread across the whole country, would induce a fear factor to help cower the people of Ukraine into submission, rather like the ‘shock and awe’ approach used by the US at the start of the Iraq War. Continue reading

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‘Senselessly Unjust’: Ex-Chicago Cop Who Killed Laquan McDonald Released From Prison

The Justice Department is facing pressure to bring federal charges against Jason Van Dyke, who served less than half of his 81-month sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder.

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 2-3-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: C. Presutti/VOA

Critics of police violence toward Black Americans expressed outrage as Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago cop who killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014, was released Thursday after serving just over three years in prison for a state murder charge.

“A white officer who murdered a 17-year-old Black child by firing 16 shots into his body is walking free today after just three years behind bars. Think about that. Just three years for a violent, vicious attack that killed a child,” tweeted Kina Collins, a Democratic candidate running to represent Illinois’ 7th Congressional District, which includes part of Chicago.

A Cook County, Illinois jury found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in October 2018. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison the following January. The judge’s decision to merge all charges for sentencing was significant because the 16 battery counts each had a mandatory minimum of a six-year prison term.

“An 81-month sentence for the gruesome murder of a child was inadequate in the first place,” said Collins. “For Van Dyke to walk free in less than half that time is senselessly unjust.”

WGN TV reports that Chicago activists “plan on holding a ‘large demonstration’ in Federal Plaza Thursday around 4:00 pm to express their displeasure, with at least 15 social and civil rights groups pledging their attendance.”

Leading up to Van Dyke’s release this week, activists, the NAACP, and political figures have urged the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to update the public on an investigation that was announced in April 2015 and to pursue federal charges against the convicted murderer.

“We’ve been crying aloud for federal charges on Jason Van Dyke for the past three years,” community organizer William Calloway told WGN TV. “It shouldn’t take this to happen, to be on the cusp of his release, to get federal charges pressed on him.”

Tracie Hunter, McDonald’s grandmother, said of Van Dyke that “this man doesn’t need to get out. We are seeking federal charges. The time he did wasn’t enough.”

Collins, in her Thursday morning Twitter thread, said that “I’m calling on U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to intervene and bring federal charges against Jason Van Dyke to ensure that he is held accountable.”

The congressional candidate also blasted former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Japan. U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) on Wednesday similarly slammed Emanuel’s new post and called for federal charges against Van Dyke.

Bush also shared a letter that NAACP leaders sent to Garland Tuesday which said the “lack of resolution” in the investigation coupled with the release of the “disgraced” ex-cop is “clearly alarming” and “has given rise to very vocal concerns and unrest” in Chicago.

“We trust that you find the matters alarming as well,” wrote NAACP president Derrick Johnson and Illinois State Conference president Teresa Haley, urging Garland to close the investigation and “move forward with appropriate and applicable federal charges based on the federal grand jury findings and other relevant evidence.”

A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to CNN that the department received the NAACP letter as well as one from Illinois’ two Democratic U.S. senators, who wrote to Garland that “the facts of this case remain shocking and upsetting,” and demanded an update on the federal investigation.

As Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, the Senate Judiciary chair, detailed:

In April 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced a joint federal and state investigation into the shooting; however, there was never an announcement that the federal investigation had closed after Van Dyke was convicted of state charges. In October 2019, when activists called for federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke and other officers involved in the cover up of the murder, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to state whether the federal investigation was still ongoing or closed. Last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office again declined to comment on the status of the investigation.

Van Dyke’s state conviction and sentencing do not preempt or negate the interest of the federal government, if the evidence supports charging Van Dyke with violating McDonald’s civil rights under Section 242 of Title 18. The recent federal civil rights case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin demonstrates this; after Chauvin was found guilty by a state jury and sentenced to 22 years for murdering George Floyd, Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges under Section 242. Chauvin admitted that his willful use of unreasonable force resulted in Floyd’s death. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Chauvin faces a sentence of over 20 years in prison.

“We urge the Justice Department to carefully and expeditiously complete its investigation,” the senators wrote, telling Garland that they “look forward to your prompt report” on the probe.

Collins, in a statement Tuesday, said that “this is a step in the right direction” for the senators, “but let’s be clear: we don’t just need an update, we need charges filed.”

“This is an open and shut case,” she said. “This murder was a clear-cut violation of Laquan McDonald’s civil rights. Just like in Chauvin’s case, the federal charges against Van Dyke should be straightforward. It’s past time for the federal charges to be filed.”

U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, who represents Illinois’ 4th Congressional District, said Thursday that “there can never be justice for Laquan McDonald, but Jason Van Dyke’s early release negates even the small measure of accountability that his conviction provided.”

“Van Dyke’s early release is a slap in the face to our communities, and today I join the call for the Department of Justice to consider bringing civil rights charges against Van Dyke,” García added. “Laquan’s life mattered. Black Lives Matter.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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The time for a four-day week has arrived

A new experiment from Iceland confirms what many of us have long suspected: reducing working hours improves wellbeing and productivity

By Jack Kellam.  Published 7-8-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Rawpixel Ltd/flickr/CC

Over the past six years, Iceland has been quietly conducting a major economic experiment. More than 2,500 public sector employees – representing over 1% of the country’s entire working population – reduced their working hours from 40 hours per week to 35 or 36 hours, with no loss of pay.

Trials of shorter working weeks are not new: in recent years a number of ‘four-day week’ experiments have taken place around the world – from Microsoft’s trial in Japan to Unilever’s experiment in New Zealand. But Iceland’s two trials, which took place between 2015 and 2021 among employees of the country’s national government and Reykjavík City Council, are unparalleled in terms of scale and scope. Progress was meticulously monitored by Icelandic researchers, which generated an unrivalled amount of evidence on the impact of shorter working hours. This week the key findings were published in a joint report published by Alda (Association for Sustainable Democracy) and Autonomy. Continue reading

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G7 Countries Reach Deal on 15% Global Minimum Tax Rate for Multinational Corporations

One critic of the agreement said that “by settling for anything less than a 25% tax rate, the G7 is telling their citizens and the world that they’re willing to keep the race to the bottom alive and kicking.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-5-2021

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the World Bank 2021 Spring Meetings. Phpto: World Bank/flickr/CC

Representatives from seven of the world’s wealthiest nations reached an agreement on Saturday to support a global minimum tax rate of at least 15% for multinational companies, a move aimed at curbing the use of tax havens and ending the decades-long race to the bottom on corporate taxation.

The deal struck by the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, and Canada still faces a long road to implementation, but Saturday’s development marks substantial progress toward a global accord that could allow governments to raise revenue from corporate giants notorious for shifting operations and profits overseas to avoid taxes. Continue reading

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Greenpeace Says Japan’s Plan to Contaminate Pacific Ocean With Fukushima Water Would Violate International Law

“The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive wastes.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-13-2021

Contaminated water storage tanks at Fukushima. Photo: Svein T veitdal/Twitter

In a decision that sparked condemnation from environmental advocates, fisherfolk, and neighboring countries, Japan announced Tuesday a plan to dump over 1.2 million tons of stored contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

The decision made by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet gives Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) the green light to release Fukushima’s wastewater into the sea just over a decade after one of the worst nuclear disasters in history; discharges won’t begin for two years, as TEPCO prepares for a process that is expected to take decades. Continue reading

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The labor-busting law firms and consultants that keep Google, Amazon and other workplaces union-free

Rite Aid hired anti-union consultants to try to prevent workers from successfully organizing. Amy Niehouse/Flickr, CC BY-SA

John Logan, San Francisco State University

American companies have been very successful at preventing their workers from organizing into unions in recent decades, one of the reasons unionization in the private sector is at a record low.

What you may not realize is that a handful of little-known law and consulting firms do much of the dirty work that keeps companies and other organizations union-free. Continue reading

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Biolab for “Most Dangerous Pathogens on Earth” Opened in Wuhan Before Outbreak

23 million people in China “are effectively under quarantine” due to the sudden outbreak of a deadly new virus in Wuhan.

By John Vibes Published 1-23-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

As of Thursday afternoon, 23 million people in seven Chinese cities have been placed on quarantine due to the sudden outbreak of a deadly SARS-like virus called 2019-nCoV.

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Amid Years of Funding Cuts to Public Health, First US Case of China’s Coronavirus Detected

Public health advocates say state, local, and federal agencies are underprepared to cope with the spread of a new infectious disease.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-21-2020

Coronavirus. Photo: CDC

Officials in Washington State reported Tuesday that a resident was diagnosed with the coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan, China last month, leading federal public health agencies which have suffered billions of dollars in cuts in recent years to issue warnings and post information about the illness.

“This is an evolving situation and again, we do expect additional cases in the United States and globally,” Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Washington Post. Continue reading

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Plan to Release Radioactive Fukushima Wastewater Into Pacific Ocean Panned by Critics

“Another reason to not build nuclear power plants.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-10-2019

Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sailing past the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the plant’s accident. (Photo: Christian Åslund/Greenpeace)

The far-reaching dangers of nuclear power were on full display Tuesday as Japan’s environmental minister recommended releasing more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the Pacific Ocean nearly a decade after a tsunami caused a meltdown at the coastal facility.

“There are no other options” other than dumping the water into the ocean and diluting it, Yoshiaki Harada said at a news conference in Tokyo. Continue reading

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