Front Cover: American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism by Henry A Giroux
(City Lights/USA 2018)
American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism by Henry A Giroux is a collection of essays that aim to shake up Americans to the growing threat of Trump’s authoritarianism to America’s democratic institutions. The author observes that “while the United States under Trump may not be an exact replica of Hitler’s Germany, the mobilizing ideas, policies, and ruthless social practices of fascism, wrapped in the flag and discourses of racial purity, ultra-nationalism, and militarism, are at the center of power in Trump’s United States.”
As defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary, fascism is “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” To examine the echoes of fascism under Trump, Giroux refers to Robert O Paxton’s nine “mobilizing passions” of fascism described in his work, The Anatomy of Fascism (2004). These include:
sense of overwhelming crisis;
subordination of the individual to the group;
belief in victimization of one group to justify violence;
dread of group’s decline;
call for a purer community;
authority of a natural leader;
supremacy of leader’s instinct over reason;
beauty of violence and efficacy of the will for group’s success; and
right of chosen people to dominate others without restraint.
The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption is a work of investigative journalism by Dahr Jamail, conducted during the period April 2016 to July 2017 on the front lines of human-caused climate disruption. Having lived in Alaska for ten years (1996-2006), Jamail had witnessed the dramatic impact of global warming on the glaciers there.
Jamail’s original aim was to alert readers about “the urgency of our planetary crisis through firsthand accounts of what is happening to the glaciers, forest, wildlife, coral reefs, and oceans, alongside data provided by leading scientists who study them.” His reporting took him to climate disruption hot spots in Alaska, California, Florida, and Montana in the United States; Palau in the Western Pacific Ocean; Great Barrier Reef, Australia; and the Amazon Forest in Manaus, Brazil. His grief at what was happening to nature made him realize that “only by having this intimacy with the natural world can we fully understand how dramatically our actions are impacting it.”
Below are excerpts of assessments expressed to the author by scientists and other professionals working on the front lines.
The magnitude of change in Alaska is easy to miss because Alaska is such
a massive state, and largely undeveloped. That is why you’ve had no idea that
Alaska’s glaciers are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year. ~ Dr. Mike Loso, a physical scientist
with the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
[The rate of melting of Montana’s glaciers]
is an explosion, a nuclear explosion of geologic change. This is unusual, it is
incredibly rapid and exceeds the ability for normal adaption. We’ve shoved it
into overdrive and taken our hands off the wheel.” ~ Dr. Dan
Farge, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research ecologist and director of the
Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems Project, Montana.
This last summer , the Gulf [of Alaska]
warmed up 15℃ [59℉] warmer than normal in some areas… And it is now, overall,
5℃ [41℉] above normal in both the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and has been
all winter long. ~ Bruce
Wright, a senior scientist with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association
(APIA) and former section chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) for eleven years.
We hardly eat seals anymore, or the birds,
and people now get food stamps and social handouts and welfare and shop at the
store. When I grew up, we didn’t need any of that because we always had seals
and birds and fish to eat. If the fur seals aren’t here, neither will we be. ~Jason
Bourdukofsky Sr., the president of TDX, Alaska’s native corporation on St. Paul
Island, Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea.
The warming [of the oceans] we’re seeing now
is happening far too fast to allow for [coral] evolution…. So what we’re seeing
now is death. That’s what [coral] bleaching is…. Right now the largest
ecosystem on Earth is undergoing its death throes and no one is there to watch
it. ~ Dr. Dean
Miller, a marine scientist and director of science and media for Great Barrier
Reef Legacy, Australia.
Even if your home [in South Florida] may be
elevated, all the infrastructure and freshwater and sewage treatment and
getting rid of the sewage…all of this infrastructure is critically vulnerable
to sea level rise. ~ Dr. Ben
Kirtman, one of the leading sea level experts in the world and program director
for the Climate and Environmental Hazards program at the University of Miami’s
Center for Computational Science.
Sea level rise is going to accelerate faster
than the models, and it’s not going to stop. So the government [of the State of
Florida] has to have a plan that includes buyouts. It’s cheaper to buy this
area [Coral Gables] out than it is to maintain the infrastructure. ~ Dr.
Harold Wanless, professor and chair of the Department of Geological Science,
University of Miami, Coral Gables campus.
You know what the burden is? It’s looking up
through the political hierarchy above me to the state legislature, to the
governor, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, the White House, and you ask, Who is
minding the shop? Who else knows what I know?… What kind of morality allows
them to ignore what is going to happen? ~ Dr.
Philip Stoddard, mayor of South Miami and a professor in the Department of
Biological Sciences, Florida International University.
We need to educate people about what is
really going on with climate disruption…. I made a personal decision to not
have kids, because I don’t have a future to offer them. I don’t think we are
going to win this battle. I think we are really done. ~ Dr. Rita
Mesquita, a biologist and researcher with Brazil’s National Institute of
Amazonian Research (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas.
The dire position we’re in now is solid
evidence of the fact that the predominant civilization does not have a handle
on all the interrelationships between humans and what we call the natural
world. If it did, we wouldn’t be facing this dire situation. ~ Stan
Rushworth, elder of Cherokee descent who has taught Native American literature
and critical thinking classes focused on Indigenous perspectives.
Jamail concludes that we are already facing mass extinction. We can’t remove the heat now stored in the oceans, yet we keep on pumping 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Our future is uncertain. Writing this book was his attempt to bear witness to what we have done to the Earth. “I am committed in my bones to being with the Earth,” he writes, “no matter what, to the end.”
Dahr Jamail, a reporter for Truthout, is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Disintegration of a Nation (co-authored with William Rivers Pitt). Over the past fifteen years, Jamail has also reported from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. An accomplished mountaineer who has worked as a volunteer rescue ranger on Denali, Alaska, he won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism and is a 2018 winner of the Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism. Jamail is also the recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and five Project Censored Awards.
Front Cover: Wisdom Through the Ages compiled by Gary Girdhari
Wisdom Through the Ages by Gary Girdhari is a handbook and daily companion of selected quotations from humankind’s great thinkers, past and present. A former Professor of Biology (PhD) at the University of Guyana, Girdhari is concerned about the deteriorating state of modern civilization. As “an ardent believer in the mass psychology of change,” he seeks “to ventilate [his] views and reflections through the minds of really great people presented in this volume.”
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
~ Margaret Mead, American anthropologist (p.127)
In the Introduction, Girdhari recounts that his first encounter with “quotations from outstanding persons” in primary school had a profound and lasting effect on his life. Later, as a young school teacher pursuing undergraduate studies, he had aligned with the anti-colonial movement that swept across then British Guiana and other colonial territories worldwide. To him, the time had come for such a revolutionary change. It was “commonsense logic.”
Truth and love will triumph over tyranny and injustice. Throughout history tyrants always fall. ~ Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi, Leader of India’s independence movement (p.123) Continue reading →
In her authorized biography, A Troublesome Man: About the life of Dr. Ptolemy Reid, Prime Minister of Guyana, 1980-1984, Stella Bagot records Dr. Reid’s account of his journey from childhood to his entrance into political life. It’s an engaging and inspiring story of a poor village boy who, with determination and persistence, overcame the obstacles along each step of his journey.
Ptolemy was born on May 8, 1918, the youngest of five siblings, in Dartmouth Village on the Essequibo Coast of then British Guiana. He lost his father to pneumonia when he was ten years old. To contribute to the family’s income, he worked on their farm plot, in the sugarcane fields, and with local fishermen. His school attendance suffered.
On completing primary school at sixteen, Ptolemy pursued employment as a pupil teacher. Five years later, he took two years off to earn his teacher’s certificate at the Government Training Center in Georgetown, the capital. Over the following eight years, he gained the reputation as a strict and proficient teacher at the Dartmouth Anglican village school. Continue reading →
United States Counterterror War Locations 2015-2017
Photo Credit: TomDispatch
Embarrassing spectacle. Treasonous. National security crisis. These are some of the reactions to the Helsinki Summit between Presidents Trump and Putin on July 16, 2018. Some among us believe that Trump is responsible for all that’s wrong with America. Not so, Tom Engelhardt reminds us in his latest book, A Nation Unmade by War (Haymarket Books, May 2018).
In A Nation Unmade by War, Engelhardt focuses on “a nation increasingly unsettled and transformed by spreading wars to which most of its citizens were, at best, only half paying attention.” He views Trump’s election as “part of the costs of those wars come home” and envisages that America’s 45th president “might preside over the most precipitous decline of a truly dominant power in history, one only recently considered at the height of its glory.”
When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the United States became the sole superpower. Dreams of creating a planetary Pax Americana led to the build-up of this country’s military might. The realization of that dream came on September 11, 2001, with al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center, and the subsequent launch of America’s Global War on Terror. This never-ending war has now consumed an estimated $5.6 trillion from September 2001 through fiscal year 2018 (Costs of War Project, Brown University, November 2017). Continue reading →
So much noise scrambling my thoughts as I read Daddy: Reflections of Father-Daughter Relationships edited by Dr. K E Garland. On arrival at our southern border with Mexico, refugee children – referred to as illegal migrants – are separated from their parents. A two-year-old girl screams while a U.S. Border Patrol agent questions her mother. Where is her father, I wonder?
Back to my reading of Daddy.
In her account, “Abandoned at Breakfast,” BB – a writer, wife, and mother whose parents had divorced when she was a kid – recalls her emptiness when her father didn’t show up for her baby shower.
“Behind the makeup and flashing cameras, I was still the little girl who longed for her father’s embrace,” BB recalls. “I wanted [my father] to accept me and tell me that I was beautiful, even fifty pounds heavier.” Continue reading →
Dan McNay, one of my favorite authors from Los Angeles, has a new novel out: Under the Cold Stones. It’s a dark, suspense thriller. The heroine, Deidre McIntyre, is well versed in men’s secret fantasies and dark desires. At the age of sixteen, she had run away from her small-town home in Paris, Illinois. Her mother, a heavy smoker with a drug habit, had been no role mother for the unloved, self-destructive teenager. Her father, “crazy as a loon,” had disappeared from her life when she was seven. Only he had held the power to save her from herself. She had found refuge and a new life as a hooker in the New Orleans French Quarter, where she became known as Daydee.
Everything changes for Daydee after her mother’s death. As the only surviving member of the family, she inherits everything: a ten-room apartment building (with no tenants), a farm run by a sharecropper, the large house where her great-grandmother and great-aunt had lived, and a cemetery. Her plan on arrival—to “just sneak in [Paris] and get the money from her mother’s estate and leave without getting caught up in anything”—goes awry.
On May 26, Guyana celebrates 51 years as an independent nation. Independence did not come easy. Worker strikes, riots, lootings, burnings, beatings, rape, and killings turned the coexistence of the country’s multi-ethnic population into a toxic stew of animosity and mistrust. The so-called “racial disturbances” of the 1960s drove hundreds from their homes. Those who could, fled overseas.
In his collection of sixteen short stories, Down Independence Boulevard And Other Stories, Guyanese-Canadian author Ken Puddicombe, who migrated to Canada in 1971, takes us within the homes of families faced with racial violence and upheaval. With the keen eyes of a master story teller, Puddicombe lays bare their ruptured lives and re-invention as immigrants in a foreign country. Continue reading →
Between Two Fires by Caribbean author Toni Williams is the first book in his crime noir trilogy, Dread Desires. Williams takes us to the fictitious Elysian Island off the coast of Saint Lucia. Driven by desire for another man’s wife, Rudy Phillips, a struggling black British journalist, pursues her to their exclusive paradise.
Rudy is no stranger to the region. Born in Saint Lucia, he was nine when he migrated to England. Still single at thirty-four, he sports shoulder-length dreadlocks and a pencil mustache and beard. Oozing sexy charm, he’s a success with the ladies. No woman before has captured his mind, heart, and body like Bridget – the beautiful, white American wife of a British aristocrat, Lord Edward Henry Tennyson, thirty-two years her senior.
After meeting the couple in London during an assignment for a local tabloid, Rudy had a two-week-long liaison with Bridget. Believing that he could free Bridget from her unhappy marriage and claim her as his own, Rudy accepts her husband’s invitation to spend two months, all expenses paid, on Elysian Island. Continue reading →
Cover of A New Look at Jonestown: Dimensions from a Guyanese Perspective by Eusi Kwayana
November 18 marked the thirty-seventh anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. On that fatal Saturday in 1978, over nine hundred members of the Peoples Temple died from ingestion of cyanide-laced Flavor-Aid. Their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, died from gunshot wounds. Seven miles away, American Congressman Leo Ryan and four members of his party lay dead on the Port Kaituma airstrip.
After all these years, several questions about the tragedy remain unanswered. The then Guyanese Prime Minister of the socialist cooperative ruling party, declared the Jonestown Massacre “an American problem.” No Guyanese investigation was ever conducted. To fill this void, A New Look at Jonestown: Dimensions from a Guyanese Perspective by Eusi Kwayana will soon be released (see below for details of ordering copies). Continue reading →