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Why we do what we do: To decrease human suffering and to promote human values of equality and justice.

Activate Magazine is an on-line publication that focuses on Social Justice, Activism and Politics but also features Music Reviews. Some of the work here may come with a defiant sneer and others with brutal cynicism but it all comes with a sense of genuity. Not all the viewpoints or perspectives here represent the values or ideals of Activate Media. That being said we try to be fair in journalistic principles.

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2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg Wins Applause for Making ‘Pack the Courts’ Argument

2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg Wins Applause for Making ‘Pack the Courts’ Argument

Expanding the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts, argues the Democratic mayor from Indiana, would be “no more a shattering of norms than what’s already been done to get the judiciary where it is today.”

By: Julia Conley

South Bend, Indiana Mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg won the attention of progressives on social media on Tuesday night after indicating support for packing the U.S. Supreme Court with left-leaning judges in order to push through progressive proposals which have the support of most Americans.

“Bold changes and reforms are needed…We need to set that as the level of intellectual and policy ambition that we have, which does not come naturally to our party lately.”                                                                                                                                          —Pete Buttigieg

At a book event promoting his new memoir in Philadelphia, Buttigieg was asked by an audience member whether he would be open to adding four seats to the nation’s highest court and expanding the size of lower courts to combat the Republican Party’s recent success in assembly a right-wing judiciary branch.

“Many progressives, myself included, feel like the Supreme Court has been stolen—from the Gorsuch seat that should have been ours to the controversial Kavanaugh confirmation,” the audience member said.

Buttigieg raised his eyebrows at the question, but said it was unwise to dismiss the proposal, which he called “no more a shattering of norms than

what’s already been done to get the judiciary to where it is today.”

Watch:

“Very bold, very ambitious ideas need a hearing right now,” the mayor added.

The comments drew surprise and praise from progressives who have grown accustomed to Democratic leaders shying away from the kinds of reforms that could sway the legislative and judicial branches in progressives’ favor—even as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) eagerly blocked Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination and pushed through Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation, and Republicans used the 60-vote filibuster to defeat gun control proposals, climate change legislation, and other progressive agenda items.

“Pack the Courts applauds Pete Buttigieg for being the first presidential contender to tell Americans the truth about the Kavanaugh court,” said the judicial reform advocacy group Pack the Courts in a statement. “We look forward to more progressives doing the same.”

At the same event, Buttigieg also endorsed redistricting reforms and other pro-democracy changes that would allow for greater representation of the public interest in Washington.

“Bold changes and reforms are needed,” Buttigieg said, including “things that might require constitutional action…Things like questioning whether it really makes sense to have an electoral college, which twice in my lifetime has overruled the American people. Asking whether it makes sense to continue to go on with fellow U.S. citizens in places like D.C. and Puerto Rico denied full political representation.”

“We need to set that as the level of intellectual and policy ambition that we have, which does not come naturally to our party lately,” the mayor concluded.

At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser agreed.

“Democrats must think in these terms,” wrote Millhiser, “if they wish to restore democracy to a nation with an unelected president, a Senate that gives so much extra representation to small Republican states that Democrats soon lose control of it permanently, and a Supreme Court whose membership is determined by unelected presidents and a rigged Senate.”

Source: 2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg Wins Applause for Making ‘Pack the Courts’ Argument

Singer/songwriter DAvid Ball on Talking Hendrix

Singer/songwriter David Ball on Talking Hendrix

Friday Night On www.activatemedia.org 7-8 p.m.

By Ed Wroblesk

This week’s guest is Multi-platinum singer, songwriter, and performer David Ball who has just released his highly anticipated new record, Come See Me, on Public Records in January 2019. The single, “Pretty Baby” tells the tale of honky tonkin’ & drinking tequila at a “Mexican place.” As David likes to say, “What more do you WANT?” Recorded at his home in Franklin, TN, this may be David’s most personal record yet. He wrote and produced every song. He describes the music this way: “This is melodic, hooky country music, the kind I grew up on. It’s fun to listen to. This is under-produced, non-corporate country music.” His previous studio release, Sparkle City (2010) was described this way by the Austin Chronicle “…he glides between swing, honky-tonk, blues, and even a touch of Tex-Mex with the ease of George Strait, the difference being Ball composes his own material.” “Hot Water Pipe” was a satellite radio hit from this record. Fourteen of his singles have entered the Billboard charts, including “Thinkin’ Problem” and “Riding With Private Malone,” which made Ball one of the first artists to take an indie single to the Country Top 5. He has recorded a total of seven studio albums, including his platinum certified Thinkin’ Problem. The title track was the top selling country song of 1994. David grew up in Spartanburg, SC where he learned to play guitar but later honed his skills on the upright bass, which led to a gig playing bass in Uncle Walt’s Band, credited as the first Americana act. The legendary trio was headed by Walter Hyatt and also included Champ Hood. A solo career led Ball to Nashville where he signed a publishing deal and later, a recording contract. David’s music came full circle when Lyle Lovett reached back into Uncle Walt’s Band repertoire to include one of David’s early songs, “Don’t You Think I Feel It Too” on his 2009 disc, Natural Forces. A first-ever compilation, titled Anthology: Those Boys From Carolina, They Sure Enough Could Sing, was released by Omnivore Recordings, March 2018. David won a Grammy Award for the song “Old Folks At Home (Swanee River)” from the album Beautiful Dreamer – The Songs of Stephen Foster. (2005) In 2011, David released his first ever collection of Christmas music, The Greatest Christmas. In addition to a few holiday favorites, 6 compositions are brand new David Ball classics! As a special Christmas present to his fans, he’s also included previously unreleased versions of two of his biggest hits. In 2013 David Ball became one of the first living members to be inducted into the Historic Spartanburg Music Trail in his hometown of Spartanburg SC, joining other notables such as Hank Garland, Don Reno, Buck Trent and the Marshall Tucker Band. Look for David in multiple episodes of RFD-TV’s Country’s Family Reunion, available on DVD. He was featured in “God Bless America Again” (2014), “Tribute to Ray Price” (2015), “Honky Tonk Reunion” (2015). He debuted on Larry’s Country Diner, October 2015.David continues to honor our military by participating in fundraisers for veterans’ charities around the country, and playing tribute shows for veterans and active duty service members. On Dec 16 2016, David was honored with the Operation Troop Aid Chris Kyle Patriot Award.

“He has been consistently good for more years than I care to remember…but I wasn’t prepared for just how wonderful a piece of work this is. ” — Duncan Warwick // Country Music People

His Influences of Beatles to Buck Owens in his original music

Loose as a goose with confident, strong vocals. George Jones and Tom Jones rolled into one.
Songs with muscle and at the same time melody, like “Thinking Problem.” Some songs can be two things at once. A sweet sadness that hurts but is somewhat beautiful, like “Riding With Private Malone” and “When The Thought Of You Catches Up With Me.”
With a rich and storied career spanning multiple decades, David Ball STILL remains a breath of fresh air. He is a joy to speak with on a personal level, the “live” show is fantastic and the fans are never disappointed. I wish they still made more of them like that guy.

Tune in this friday night from 7-8 p.m. on www.activatemedia.org 

Source: Singer/songwriter DAvid Ball on Talking Hendrix | Massapequa, NY Patch

How the U.S. Is Strangling Haiti as It Attempts Regime Change in Venezuela

How the U.S. Is Strangling Haiti as It Attempts Regime Change in Venezuela

Their message is simple: if you won’t let us breathe, we won’t let you breathe, and if you suffocate Venezuela, you suffocate us

By: Vijay Prashad

Last year, in October, Haitians followed two Twitter hashtags that went viral—#PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea. If you are not Haitian and do not follow Haitian politics carefully, you can be forgiven for not noticing this development. The complaint on Twitter—and soon on the streets—was simple: what has happened to the billions of U.S. dollars that was in the Venezuelan-financed Petrocaribe program?

In 2005, when oil prices began to creep upwards and when the Bolivarian socialists led by Hugo Chávez were at their peak, 14 countries from the Caribbean met in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, to launch the Petrocaribe scheme. The idea was elegant. Venezuela, with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, would sell oil to the struggling Caribbean islands through a very lucrative deal. Part of the oil price was paid up front, and the rest was to be paid back over the years at a ridiculously low interest rate (1 percent).

Island nations of the Caribbean, who had struggled with debt and high import prices for energy, now found relief. Haiti and Nicaragua, which were not part of the 14 original members, joined Petrocaribe in 2007. “The Caribbean shouldn’t have problem this century and beyond,” said a buoyant Chávez.

Venezuela Had a Debt to Haiti

An economics of solidarity defined the Bolivarian socialist approach to the Caribbean. If the Caribbean countries thrived, then Venezuela would prosper in turn. The test of this generosity came in 2010, when Venezuela decided not only to write off Haiti’s debt after the earthquake but provided funds in addition for reconstruction. “It was not Haiti that had a debt with Venezuela,” Chávez said then, “but Venezuela had a debt to Haiti.” Since 2007, Venezuela had provided $4 billion in oil through Petrocaribe.

The debt that Venezuela had, in the long-term thinking of Chávez, was because of something that happened in 1815. The first president of the Republic of Haiti, Alexandre Pétion, gave Simón Bolivar sanctuary and armed him to return and liberate Gran Colombia (the vast northern lands of South America). Bolivar had promised Pétion that he would emancipate the enslaved Africans in Gran Colombia. This is what he did. Without Pétion’s demand and Bolivar’s victory, Chávez—whose ancestors had been enslaved—said on a visit to Haiti in 2007, “I would not be here.”

Haiti’s Debt to the West

No such generosity has come from the West. In fact, from the first fires of Haiti’s revolution, Western powers—from France to the United States—have attempted to destroy the Haitian republic. In 1804, France forced Haiti to agree to pay it $21 billion for the “theft” of enslaved Africans and others. It took Haiti till 1947 to pay off this odious, disgusting debt. France has never apologized for it. Nor has Citibank, which made billions off the payments. Neither France nor Citibank has considered replaying the inhumane plunder.

Venezuela’s generosity was not matched by any Western country or financial institution. Instead, the West piled on debt upon debt onto Haiti. Even the “assistance” given during the 2010 earthquake made Western companies money. “These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster,” said Haiti’s former minister of defense Patrick Elie. The amount of money stolen from the disaster relief and the increase to Haiti’s debt is as yet uncalculated. Millions of dollars were raised—such as by the American Red Cross—but very little of it was spent to lift up the burdens of the Haitian people.

IMF vs. Venezuela

Last February, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it would provide Haiti with $96 million in low-interest loans and grants. But it demanded that the Haitian government cut its crucial fuel subsidy. This subsidy has been a part of Petrocaribe’s program. Protests broke out across Haiti, which led to the resignation of Haiti’s prime minister Guy Lafontant in July (for an assessment of those protests, please read Dossier 8 from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research).

The IMF demand for cuts in fuel subsidy came after revelations that Haiti’s elite had pilfered the funds from Petrocaribe. In 2017, Lafontant’s government released a 600-page Senate report on Petrocaribe’s previous decade. The investigation found that Haiti’s ruling class had stolen enormous amounts of these key funds. No one was called to account—not any of those who stole the money nor the banks that enabled them to do so. Noises about letting the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation take hold of the report seemed to drift into nowhere.

In the midst of this scandal, the IMF policy directive was insincere. The IMF said that the Haitian poor, who had not stolen the money from Petrocaribe, should pay higher fuel prices to help set Haiti’s finances in order. No reparations from France or Citibank, no accountability for the theft of the Petrocaribe funds—none of that. Instead, Haitians—almost 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line—must pay high fuel premiums for the IMF’s paltry loans.

End of Solidarity

Protests broke out a week ago across Haiti. What motivated the streets to be on fire this time was the rise in prices of fuel and the position taken by Haiti against the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.

In the midst of the economic war against it, Venezuela has not been able to provide Haiti with subsidized fuel. Haiti’s people had to now go to the U.S. oil companies and pay U.S. prices for fuel. This has created bottlenecks in the supply of fuel and frustration at the rising prices. Novum Energy—of the United States—kept ships sitting in Port-au-Prince harbor, waiting for the cash-strapped Haitian government to pay up before unloading 164,000 barrels of petrol and 205,000 barrels of kerosene. There is no solidarity pricing here (in fact, Haiti has to pay $20,000 per day to each ship that is sitting in the harbor as a penalty). These firms want cash, and they want full price.

To add insult to injury, Haiti’s government decided to join with the United States in the vote at the Organization of American States (OAS) against Venezuela. As recently as 2017, Haiti’s representative to the OAS—Harvel Jean-Baptiste—had voted against a similar anti-Maduro resolution. But this time, Haiti’s Léon Charles voted with the United States. It was a vote that provoked anger in the streets of Haiti. The one country—Venezuela—that had come to Haiti’s aid was here being betrayed. That is the mood.

Anachronistic Monroe Doctrine

Meanwhile, other Caribbean countries stood firm. The Caricom (Caribbean Community) group of 15 states from Antigua and Barbuda to Trinidad and Tobago drafted a strong statement to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela. They have worked to create the atmosphere for dialogue, which resulted in the joint Uruguay and Mexico sponsored meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 7.

These small island states know the great peril of allowing the anachronistic Monroe Doctrine (1823) to be fully revived. The idea that the American hemisphere is the “backyard” of the United States is not only humiliating, but it is also against the spirit and letter of the UN Charter.

It is this humiliation that motivates the people of Haiti to take to the streets. Their message is simple: if you won’t let us breathe, we won’t let you breathe, and if you suffocate Venezuela, you suffocate us.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Source: How the U.S. Is Strangling Haiti as It Attempts Regime Change in Venezuela