Category Archives: Elders

Map of the day II: The world is going gray


From the U.S. Census Bureau [PDF]:

Chart of the day: Ethnic generational divides


From a new report [PDF] from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Ethnoages

Chart of the day: Class and mortality in the U.S.


From the New York Times:

BLOG Mortality

Days of Revolt: America’s brutalizing ways of war


The latest edition of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges’ weekly series for teleSUR English, features a joint interview of two American combat veterans who have seen first hand the brutalization and depersonalization integral to Uncle Sam’s imperial adventures’

Featured are Michael Hanes, a ten-year veteran of the US Marines Corps who served in Iraq as a member of the elite 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, the top echolon the the service’s special forces detachment, and Rory Fanning who served in Afghanistan with the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion, that service’s original special warriors.

Both men have become peace activists and work on behalf of military veterans, and both see the brutality of America’s military engagements as the most essential recruiting tool for groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

From teleSUR English via The Real News Network:

Days of Revolt: Why the Brutalized Become Brutal

From the transcript:

FANNING: Right, right. So we’d land in there. We’d put a bag over every military aged person?s head, whether they were a member of the Taliban or not, give the person who identified that person money, and then that person would also get that neighbor?s property.

So in a country with as much desperation and poverty as Afghanistan at the time, you’d do anything to put money or food on your family’s table and essentially that?s what we were doing. But we were also bringing people who had absolutely no stake in the fight into the war. And, so we were creating enemies, you know? I signed up after 9/11 to prevent another 9/11 from happening, but soon after arriving in Afghanistan I realized I was only creating the conditions for more terrorist attacks and it was a hard pill to swallow. I mean, we were essentially a bully, you know?

HEDGES: I mean worse than a bully, I mean, you know, we murder.

FANNING: Well we’d have a rocket land in our camp and we wouldn?t necessarily know where it came from. It came from that general direction over there. We’d call in a five-hundred pound bomb and it would land on a village. I mean, we know [because of] the International Physicians Against the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, that a million people have been killed around the world since 9/11. You know, we know, conservatively, that at least 80 percent of those people have been innocent civilians. So, I think to understand Brussels you have to get to the root of some of this stuff.

HEDGES: Yeah, and maybe Michael you can talk a little about some of your experience in Iraq.

HANES: Yes, well I mean, you know, the same thing with me, really. I was in the Iraq invasion and we pushed up into Baghdad and things [became], really, very real for me when we began to kick in doors, place charges in doors and rush into these homes and terrorize these people.

You know, I would say probably about 50 percent or more of the intel that we got was just dead wrong. Busting in these doors you come into a family?s house and there’s elderly women, young little girls, three, four years old, just screaming and horrific, just terrified to where they literally soil themselves. They pee their pants. And then, you know, you’re taking grandma and throwing her up against the wall and interrogating her. And that, you know, hits you right here. It hits you really hard.

And that’s when I began to ask myself, what the hell am I doing? You know? And then if you happen to be a young man in there, in your early twenties or anywhere in that range where you can carry a weapon, then just by mere association of being a young male, a possible insurgent, Saddam Fedayeen loyalist, whatever the case may be, you were taken out of the home and taken somewhere to be interrogated.

Headline of the day III: Life under neoliberalism


From CNBC:

Japan’s elderly turn to life of crime to ease cost of living

Japan’s prison system is being driven to budgetary crisis by demographics, a welfare shortfall and a new, pernicious breed of villain: the recidivist retiree. And the silver-haired crooks, say academics, are desperate to be behind bars.

The Empire Files: Marx, a philosopher for today


As the American political system splinters, with the public increasing desperate for solutions for a future that looks increasingly bleak, the ideas of a 19th Century German political economist are beginning to look increasingly relevant.

Solid, good-paying jobs complete with health insurance and company-paid pensions, enabled the Baby Boom generation — esnl included — to buy affordable homes [our first home was a three-bedroom hillside home in the pleasant community of Vista, California, cost what we made in a year, with property taxes included in a $138 monthly payment ($913 today)].

Oh, and the top income tax was 77 percent for regular income and 27.5 percent for capital gains, compared to today’s 39.6 percent for income and 20 percent for capital gains. Then there’s the whole new forest of tax shelters and dodges, played with funds rocketing around the globe at the speed of light and lawyers.

For those who went to public colleges and universities, education was cheap enough to be pay-as-you go or, for military veterans [and there was  military conscription back then] the GI bill picked most of the tab.

Over time, the rich became immensely wealthier while the rest of us gained nothing, losing job security and pensions and forced to pay for part of all of the health insurance coverage that was that was once a given in many if not most jobs.

With American youth forced to mortgage their futures with massive debt loads simply to acquire the educations that cost their parents comparatively little, housing more expensive, and jobs much less secure, folks are finding themselves looking at a very uncertain future.

Why? What’s happened?

Well, for economist Richard D. Wolff, that 19th Century German philosopher offers illuminating insights, and Abby Martin asks the right questions in this, the latest edition of The Empire Files, her series for teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Understanding Marxism and Socialism with Richard Wolff

Program notes:

Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass – Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism’s internal contradictions, and more.

Headline of the day III: Bad. sad news for Brits


From Channel 4 News in Old Blighty, the Maggie Thatcher neoliberal legacy comes home to roost:

‘Work till you drop’ warning on pensions

Some people may have to work till they are 81 to build up a decent pension pot, according to a report

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