Russia demands U.N. investigate Nord Stream pipeline sabotage; U.S. calls request a ‘distraction’ / by Roger McKenzie

Natural gas billows up from beneath the sea at the site of the sabotaged Nord Stream pipelines. | Swedish Government video footage via AP

Russia clashed with the United States and its allies on Tuesday over the Kremlin’s call for an investigation of last September’s sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 natural gas pipelines.

Russia’s United Nations ambassador Vasily Nebenzia told the Security Council that Moscow has “no trust” in the separate investigations being carried out by Denmark, Sweden, and Germany, but it does “fully trust” secretary-general Antonio Guterres to establish an independent international investigation.

Britain, the U.S., France, and others said that the real reason Russia raised Nord Stream 1 and 2 now was to divert attention from the first anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Today’s meeting is a blatant attempt to distract from this,” U.S. Political Minister-Counsellor John Kelley told the Council.

“As the world unites this week to call for a just and secure peace in Ukraine consistent with the U.N. Charter, Russia desperately wants to change the subject.”

Ahead of the meeting, the ambassadors of Denmark, Sweden, and Germany sent a letter to Council members saying their investigations have established the pipelines were extensively damaged “by powerful explosions due to sabotage,” which they say endangered “international security and give cause for our deep concern.”

The letter said that further investigations are being conducted in all three countries and Russian authorities have been informed about the investigations.

But Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told reporters: “They are claiming that they are informing Russia about it which is not true. Any attempt for us to get any information was rejected by them or ignored.”

Russia circulated a draft resolution to council members late last week asking the UN secretary-general to urgently establish a commission to investigate the Nord Stream attacks.

Nebenzia said Moscow hasn’t been allowed to join investigations by any of the three countries, saying they “are not only not transparent, but it is quite clear that they seek just to cover the tracks and stick up for their U.S. brother.”

Russia has alleged that the U.S. was behind the sabotage, which its proposed resolution says “occurred after the repeated threats to the Nord Stream by the U.S. leadership.”

Kelley responded, telling the Council: “Accusations that the U.S. was involved in this act of sabotage are completely false. The U.S. was not involved in any way.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh—famous for exposing the My Lai Massacre, the secret bombing of Cambodia, and torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq—alleges that U.S. forces, with the help of the Norwegian military, planted the explosives that disabled the two pipelines last fall. The U.S. government denies Hersh’s accusation.

People’s World has an enormous challenge ahead of it—to raise $200,000 from readers and supporters in 2023, including $125,000 during the Fund Drive, which runs from Feb. 1 to May 1.

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Roger McKenzie is a journalist and general secretary of Liberation, a UK-based human rights organization which fights for economic and social justice, and opposes neo-colonialism, economic exploitation, and racism.

People’s World, February 23, 2003

Rage Against The War Machine Speech / By Chris Hedges

Murder King – by Mr. Fish

Originally published in Sheerpost on February 19, 2023

Hedges spoke at the Washington DC rally on Feb. 19 alongside an array of other notable speakers.

Idolatry is the primal sin from which all other sins derive. Idols tempt us to become God. They  demand the sacrifice of others in the mad quest for wealth, fame or power. But the idol always ends by requiring self-sacrifice, leaving us to perish on the blood-soaked altars we erected for others. 

For empires are not murdered, they commit suicide at the feet of the idols that entrance them. 

We are here today to denounce the unelected, unaccountable high priests of Empire, who funnel the bodies of millions of victims, along with trillions of our national wealth, into the bowels of our own version of the Canaanite idol, Moloch.

The political class, the media, the entertainment industry, the financiers and even religious institutions bay like wolves for the blood of Muslims or Russians or Chinese, or whoever the idol has demonized as unworthy of life. There were no rational objectives in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Somalia. There are none in Ukraine. Permanent war and industrial slaughter are their own justification. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman earn billions of dollars in profits. The vast expenditures demanded by the Pentagon are sacrosanct. The cabal of warmongering pundits, diplomats and technocrats, who smugly dodge responsibility for the array of military disasters they orchestrate, are protean, shifting adroitly with the political tides, moving from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and then back again, mutating from cold warriors to neocons to liberal interventionists. Julien Benda called these courtiers to power “the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia.”

These pimps of war do not see the corpses of their victims. I did. Including children. Every lifeless body I stood over as a reporter in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Bosnia, or Kosovo, month after month, year after year, exposed their moral bankruptcy, intellectual dishonesty, sick bloodlust and delusional fantasies. They are puppets of the Pentagon, a state within a state, and the weapons manufacturers who lavishly fund their think tanks: Project for the New American CenturyForeign Policy InitiativeAmerican Enterprise InstituteCenter for a New American SecurityInstitute for the Study of WarAtlantic Council and Brookings Institute. Like some mutant strain of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they cannot be vanquished. It does not matter how wrong they are, how absurd their theories of global dominance, how many times they lie or denigrate other cultures and societies as uncivilized or how many they condemn to death. They are immovable props, parasites vomited up in the dying days of all empires, ready to sell us the next virtuous war against whoever they have decided is the new Hitler. The map changes. The game is the same.

Pity our prophets, those who wander the desolate landscape crying out in the darkness. Pity Julian Assange, undergoing a slow-motion execution in a high-security prison in London. He committed Empire’s fatal sin. He exposed its crimes, its machinery of death, its moral depravity. 

A society that prohibits the capacity to speak in truth extinguishes the capacity to live in justice.

Some here today might like to think of themselves as radicals, maybe even revolutionaries. But what we are demanding on the political spectrum is, in fact, conservative: the restoration of the rule of law. It is simple and basic. It should not, in a functioning republic, be incendiary. But living in truth in a despotic system, one the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called “inverted totalitarianism,” is subversive. 

The architects of imperialism, the masters of war, the corporate-controlled legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and their obsequious mouth pieces in the media and academia, are illegitimate. Say this simple truth and you are banished, as many of us have been, to the margins. Prove this truth, as Julian did, and you are crucified.

“Red Rosa now has vanished too…” Bertolt Brecht wrote of the murdered socialist Rosa Luxemburg. “She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out.”

We have undergone a corporate coup d’état, where the poor and working men and women, half of whom lack $400 to cover an emergency expense, are reduced to chronic instability. Joblessness and food insecurity are endemic. Our communities and cities are desolate. War, financial speculation, constant surveillance and militarized police that function as internal armies of occupation are the only real concerns of the state. Even habeas corpus no longer exists. We, as citizens, are commodities to corporate systems of power, used and discarded. And the endless wars we fight overseas have spawned the wars we fight at home, as the students I teach in the New Jersey prison system are acutely aware. All empires die in the same act of self-immolation. The tyranny the Athenian empire imposed on others, Thucydides noted in his history of the Peloponnesian war, it finally imposed on itself.

To fight back, to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet from ecocide, to decry the domestic and international crimes of the ruling class, to demand justice, to live in truth, to smash the graven images, is to bear the mark of Cain.

Those in power must feel our wrath, which means constant acts of non-violent civil disobedience, social and political disruption. Organized power from below is the only power that can save us. Politics is a game of fear. It is our duty to make those in power very, very afraid.

The ruling oligarchy has us locked in its death grip. It cannot be reformed. It obscures and falsifies the truth.  It is on a maniacal quest to increase its obscene wealth and unchecked power. It forces us to kneel before its false gods. And so, to quote the Queen of Hearts, metaphorically, of course, I say, “Off with their heads!” 

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was an early and outspoken critic of the US plan to invade and occupy Iraq and called the press coverage at the time “shameful cheerleading.” He is the author of the 2002 best seller, War is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, which is an examination of what war does to individuals and societies. He states that war is the pornography of violence, a powerful narcotic that “…has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque.” Hedges has also published the following books: What Every Person Should Know About War (2003); Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America (2005); American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2008); I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008); Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle ( 2009); and Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012). He writes a weekly column for

U.S. Marines open new base on Guam to prepare for future war with China / by Dave DeCamp

Originally published:  on January 26, 2023

The U.S. Marine Corps on Thursday formally opened a new military base in the U.S. territory of Guam as part of Washington’s military buildup in the Asia Pacific that is aimed at China.

The base is still under construction but will eventually house 5,000 U.S. Marines, likely by the end of 2024. According to The Wall Street Journal, the purpose of the base is to prepare for a potential war with China in the islands of the western Pacific Ocean.

David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said that U.S. Marines would be the first to be deployed in the event of a war with China. “We don’t want to fight to get to the fight. We want to already be inside, so if there’s a conflict, the stand-in forces are already forward,” he said.

The Marine Corps has been revamping to better prepare for war with China by creating units that are more mobile and can quickly move around islands in the region. The U.S. is deploying one of these units, known as a Marine Littoral Regiment, to Okinawa by 2025, which will be armed with anti-ship missiles.

According to Kyodo News, the new base in Guam will host 4,000 U.S. Marines that will be transferred from Okinawa. The U.S. and Japan agreed to reduce the military burden on Okinawa, which hosts over 70% of U.S. bases in Japan, over local opposition to the U.S. presence. But the plans to deploy the Marine Littoral Regiment further entrenches the military presence in the Okinawa prefecture.

There is also local opposition to the expansion of the U.S. military presence in Guam, as Kyodo reported anti-base demonstrators protested against the opening of the new Marines Corps facility. An activist said that the military buildup will make Guam “a target for a war that we didn’t want to be part of.” is one project of our parent foundation, the Randolph Bourne Institute. It is a program that provides a sounding board of interest to all who are concerned about U.S. foreign policy and its implications.

U.S. Deaths Highlight Need for Far-Reaching Change / By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Demonstrators carry a coffin over Brooklyn Bridge during a march against gun violence, 06.02.18, in NY. | Mary Altaffer – AP

Under U.S. capitalism, industrial production and consumerism expand. Greenhouse gases increase, the climate changes, and people die. U.S. imperialism leads to wars and potentially nuclear war.

U.S. life expectancy has fallen. According to government statistics released in December, 2022, life expectancy at birth (LEB) for 2021 was 76.4 years. LEB was 77.0 years in 2020 and 78.8 years in 2019. Public health officials claimed this “was the biggest two-year decline in life expectancy since 1921-1923.”

Mothers fare badly. In 2020,19.1 mothers in general and 55.3 Black mothers died per 100,000 live births. They died from illnesses related to childbearing, most of them preventable. In the Netherlands that year, the maternal mortality rate was 1.2 mothers per 100,000 live births. In 2018, 55 nations showed a rate more favorable than that of the United States. 

Americans, mostly working-age adults, die from “diseases of despair” – substance abuse, accidental drug overdose, alcoholism, and suicide. They also died of Covid 19 infection, the U.S. rate of 332.81 Covid deaths per 100,000 population being the 16th highest in the world.

During most of the pandemic, Black people died at two or more times the rate of infected white people. Now the cumulative death rates of each group are similar, with 355 deaths of whites and 369 deaths of Blacks per 100,000 population. Cumulative Covid deaths for American indigenous peoples register at 478 deaths per 100,000 population. Vaccine skepticism may account for increased vulnerability of whites. 

The pandemic aside, Blacks and American Indians live far shorter lives than white people do. As of October 2022, LEB for Hispanics was 77.7 years; white people, 76.6 years; Blacks, 70.8 years; and American Indians, 65.2 years. In 2020, 65 nations showed longer LEB than did the United States.

Healthcare failings may have contributed to the high U.S death rates. Proposals for reform, especially for universal healthcare, center on its financing. The United States is the top healthcare spender among all nations.

Paying  $12,914 per capita for healthcare in 2021, the United States outspent second-place spender Germany whose outlay was $7383 per capita. Total spending on health that year amounted to $4.3 trillion –18.3% of the U.S. GDP. The United States accounted for 42% of healthcare spending in the world in 2018.

Healthcare in the United States is a profit center. The pricing of drugs, medical equipment, medical insurance, and services provided by hospitals and outpatient facilities in general is exorbitant.  Executives of medical supply and pharmaceutical companies, specialty physicians, and administrators of hospitals and healthcare networks receive enormous salaries.

Profitmaking hospital chains, health insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies generate enough revenue to allow for stock buybacks and dividend payments. Over nine recent years 14 pharmaceutical companies spent $747 billion on stock buybacks. Payments to private insurance companies and private hospital networks are large enough to cover astronomically high administrative costs and profit-taking.

Some healthcare and health-promotion activities produce no revenue, or very little. They tend to receive relatively little support and skimpy funding.

  • The U.S. public health sector, charged with health education and illness prevention, is a low-priority item. Inadequate preparation and preventative measures largely accounted for the U.S. Covid-19 debacle. 
  • Insurance companies dedicate effort to denying coverage for particular diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
  • Multi-hospital, multi-service conglomerates are cutting back on health services in rural and economical depressed areas because of decreased “productivity.” 
  • Many hospitals have recently dropped children’s hospital services as being less remunerative than care for hospitalized adults.
  • Small rural hospitals unable to pay bills have been closing down in droves throughout the nation, depriving area residents of care.
  • Specialty practitioners and hospitals often prioritize expensive medical procedures and high-technology diagnostic modes over care centering on provider – patient interaction and communication.
  • Many physicians during training opt for a specialty rather than a primary-care career, often because of income considerations. Primary care physicians now comprise only 20% of all U.S. physicians.
  • Diminished emphasis on a “medical home,” that hallmark of primary care, opens the door to inefficient, low-quality care.

Other capitalist countries have achieved long life expectancies.  The average life expectancy for 2021 in eight European countries plus Australia and Japan was 82.4 years. Their average per- capita health spending was $6,003. Japan spent $4,666 per capita on healthcare; LEB was 84.5 years.

Those countries protect healthcare as a public good, mainly because labor unions and social democratic or labor political parties apply pressure. Universal access to care is the norm. 

Universal care in the United States is but a dream. U.S. unions are weak and there is no working people’s political party. Some 25 million working age adults had no health insurance in 2021; insurance for 23% of them was inadequate. Too many have no care or fragmented care.

Reform efforts will continue in the United States, propelled perhaps by worsening life expectancy. But healthcare has its limitations. Steven Woolf, retired director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health, told an interviewer recently that better healthcare is “only a partial answer” to extending life expectancy, accounting “for about 10 to 20 percent of health outcomes.”

He explained: “Our health is really shaped by our living conditions, jobs, the wages we earn, our wealth accumulation, the education that enables us to get those jobs … The country that we live in is the richest in the world, but we have the highest level of income inequality. So, much of the resources that we need for a healthy population are not available to most of the population.”

Woolf is saying, in effect, that people die early because of inequalities, oppression, and organized greed. The United States appears as different from other rich capitalist counties. Social guarantees are fragile. The wealthy have few restraints on satisfying their wants. A besieged working class lacks voice and agency.

The prospect that reforms, alone, will restore justice and decent lives for working people is nil. They confront a voracious, extreme kind of capitalism.  Its rulers tolerate, promote, and seek out collaborators for actions and policies leading to die-offs. Think climate catastrophe, wars, and nuclear war.

In response to impending disaster, Americans desiring better and more secure lives for everyone would adjust their forward vision. Working for reforms, they would aim at something new, which is top-to-bottom social and political change. New motivation, determination and hope would be a shot in the arm.

Revolutionary change is a worldwide project, and not to be left to one people – except in special circumstances. One such was pre-1917 Czarist Russia and another would be that anomaly among capitalist nations which is the death-dealing U.S. nation.

W.T. Whitney Jr. is a political journalist whose focus is on Latin America, health care, and anti-racism. A Cuba solidarity activist, he formerly worked as a pediatrician, lives in rural Maine. W.T. Whitney Jr. es un periodista político cuyo enfoque está en América Latina, la atención médica y el antirracismo. Activista solidario con Cuba, anteriormente trabajó como pediatra, vive en la zona rural de Maine.

Socialism is not a Utopian ideal, but an achievable necessity / by Vijay Prashad

Philip Guston (Canada), Gladiators, 1940.

Originally published: Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research on January 5, 2023

Dear friends,

New Year greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Marcelo Pogolotti (Cuba), Siglo XX o Regalo a la querida (‘20th century or Gift for the loved one’), 1933.

In May 2021, the executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, wrote an article urging governments to cut excessive military spending in favour of increasing spending on social and economic development. Their wise words were not heard at all. To cut money for war and to increase money for social development, they wrote, is ‘not a utopian ideal, but an achievable necessity’. That phrase—not a utopian ideal, but an achievable necessity—is essential. It describes the project of socialism almost perfectly.

Our institute has been at work for over five years, driven precisely by this idea that it is possible to transform the world to meet the needs of humanity while living within nature’s limits. We have accompanied social and political movements, listened to their theories, observed their work, and built our own understanding of the world based on these attempts to change it. This process has been illuminating. It has taught us that it is not enough to try and build a theory from older theories, but that it is necessary to engage with the world, to acknowledge that those who are trying to change the world are able to develop the shards of an assessment of the world, and that our task—as researchers of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research—is to build those shards into a worldview. The worldview that we are developing does not merely understand the world as it is; it also takes hold of the dynamic that seeks to produce the world as it should be.

Our institute is committed to tracing the dynamics of social transcendence, and how we can get out of a world system that is driving us to annihilation and extinction. There are sufficient answers that exist in the world now, already present with us even when social transformation seems impossible. The total social wealth on the planet is extraordinary, although—due to the long history of colonialism and violence—this wealth is simply not used to generate solutions for common problems, but to aggrandise the fortunes of the few. There is enough food to feed every person on the planet, for instance, and yet billions of people remain hungry. There is no need to be naïve about this reality, nor is there a need to feel futile.

Renato Guttuso (Italy), May 1968, 1968.

In one of our earliest newsletters, which brought our first year of work (2018) to a close, we wrote that ‘it is easier to imagine the end of the earth than to imagine the end of capitalism, to imagine the polar ice cap flooding us into extinction than to imagine a world where our productive capacity enriches all of us’. This remains true. And yet, despite this, there is ‘a possible future that is built to meet people’s aspirations… It is cruel to think of these hopes as naïve’.

The problems we face are not for lack of resources or lack of technological and scientific knowhow. At Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, we believe that it is because of the social system of capitalism that we are unable to transcend our common problems. This system constrains the forward movement that requires the democratisation of nations and the democratisation of social wealth. There are hundreds of millions of people organised into political and social formations that are pushing against the gated communities in our world, fighting to break down the barriers and build the utopias that we require to survive. But, rather than recognise that these formations seek to realise genuine democracy, they are criminalised, their leaders arrested and assassinated, and their own precious social confidence vanquished. Much the same repressive behaviour is meted out to national projects that are rooted in such political and social movements, projects that are committed to using social wealth for the greatest good. Coups, assassinations, and sanctions regimes are routine, their frequency illustrated by an unending sequence of events, from the coup in Peru in December 2022 to the ongoing blockade of Cuba, and by the denial that such violence is used to block social progress.

Our institute is committed to tracing the dynamics of social transcendence, and how we can get out of a world system that is driving us to annihilation and extinction. There are sufficient answers that exist in the world now, already present with us even when social transformation seems impossible. The total social wealth on the planet is extraordinary, although—due to the long history of colonialism and violence—this wealth is simply not used to generate solutions for common problems, but to aggrandise the fortunes of the few. There is enough food to feed every person on the planet, for instance, and yet billions of people remain hungry. There is no need to be naïve about this reality, nor is there a need to feel futile.

Milan Chovanec (Czechoslovakia), Peace, 1978.

In one of our earliest newsletters, which brought our first year of work (2018) to a close, we wrote that ‘it is easier to imagine the end of the earth than to imagine the end of capitalism, to imagine the polar ice cap flooding us into extinction than to imagine a world where our productive capacity enriches all of us’. This remains true. And yet, despite this, there is ‘a possible future that is built to meet people’s aspirations… It is cruel to think of these hopes as naïve’.

The problems we face are not for lack of resources or lack of technological and scientific knowhow. At Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, we believe that it is because of the social system of capitalism that we are unable to transcend our common problems. This system constrains the forward movement that requires the democratisation of nations and the democratisation of social wealth. There are hundreds of millions of people organised into political and social formations that are pushing against the gated communities in our world, fighting to break down the barriers and build the utopias that we require to survive. But, rather than recognise that these formations seek to realise genuine democracy, they are criminalised, their leaders arrested and assassinated, and their own precious social confidence vanquished. Much the same repressive behaviour is meted out to national projects that are rooted in such political and social movements, projects that are committed to using social wealth for the greatest good. Coups, assassinations, and sanctions regimes are routine, their frequency illustrated by an unending sequence of events, from the coup in Peru in December 2022 to the ongoing blockade of Cuba, and by the denial that such violence is used to block social progress.

As we begin the new year, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who works at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, a team that is spread across the globe, from Buenos Aires to Shanghai, from Trivandrum to Rabat. If you would like to assist our work, please remember that we welcome donations.

We urge you to share our materials as widely as possible, to study them in your movements, and to invite members of our team to speak about our work.



Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

U.S. faith leaders, activists demand Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine / by John Wojcik and C. J. Atkins

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, during World War I, British soldiers heard German troops in the trenches opposite them singing carols and saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches. Messages began to be shouted between the two sides. The following day, on Christmas, British and German soldiers met in ‘no man’s land’ and exchanged gifts, took photographs, and played impromptu games of football. They also buried casualties and repaired trenches and dugouts. After the short truce, fighting unfortunately carried on. Today, U.S. faith and peace leaders are calling for a Christmas ceasefire in Ukraine and demanding negotiations to end the war. | Imperial War Museum

Activists and faith leaders in the United States are calling for an immediate Christmas season truce, a ceasefire, and talks to end the Ukraine-Russia conflict. They issued their call in the wake of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the Congress on Wednesday.

Zelensky called for continued flows of U.S. arms into his country to fight the Russians and promised that the weapons would be put to use. “We are alive and kicking and will never surrender,” he declared. He said that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was not charity but an investment in security for the future.

At a meeting with Zelensky just prior to the Capitol speech, President Joe Biden vowed to back Ukraine with arms “for as long as it takes.” He also pledged to send new Patriot missiles, the most advanced in the U.S. military arsenal, to Ukraine.

This was coupled with approval in the Senate on Thursday of an unprecedented $850-billion military budget, swollen to historic levels by billions more for the Ukraine war and multi-billion-dollar guarantees to the U.S. armaments makers that if any decision they make to increase armament production causes them to lose money, the U.S. treasury will jump in with “socialism for the rich” and cover their losses.

Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, react as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presents lawmakers with a Ukrainian flag autographed by front-line troops. Zelensky spoke to a joint session of Congress on Dec. 21. | AP

Completely under the radar is this week’s call by more than 1,000 faith leaders demanding the Christmas season truce in Ukraine. Almost all of those leaders have, since the war began, strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting death and suffering of the Ukrainian people. They are also concerned, however, about U.S. culpability in the war and the refusal thus far in Washington to push for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the fighting.

Led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Bishop William Barber, who leads the Poor People’s Campaign, they recalled the Christmas truce in 1914 during the First World War. They declared: “We urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in Ukraine to an end through supporting calls for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, before the conflict results in a nuclear war that could devastate the world’s ecosystems and annihilate all of God’s creation.”

Co-founder of Code Pink Medea Benjamin, one of the signers, said: “There is nothing glorious about the Ukraine war. It is a lose-lose for everyone except weapons makers. Zelensky should be calling for peace. So should Putin. And Biden. And everyone else. #ChristmasTruceNow.”

Benjamin said the war “must move from the battlefield to the negotiating table—no more dollars for war! Peace talks instead!” Supplies of more advanced weaponry would “only bring us closer to a direct war with Russia…and nuclear armageddon,” she added.

Zelensky essentially told the Congress this week, however, that no peace would be possible and no ceasefire was possible until Russia pulls out of Ukraine altogether. He said he has a 10-point peace plan that he discussed with Biden but gave no details. Biden has also not disclosed any specifics of the supposed plan.

A Biden administration spokesperson, retired Admiral John Kirby, said on MSNBC that the Zelensky plan was “not really a peace plan but rather a framework within which discussion between Ukraine and the U.S. can be held.”

The huge military budget is causing enormous problems in the U.S. already. First is the obvious diversion of funds away from programs to address social needs. In addition, existing critical funds are under threat. The trillion-dollar omnibus bill approved in the Senate this week does not specify what part of it can be used to provide more than $1.7 billion needed, for example, to keep Medicaid benefits flowing to those in need.

Federal money for states that have opted into Obamacare could be endangered if there are not adequate funds allocated for that in the federal budget. Millions who rely on these benefits could be harmed.

The conflict is increasingly looks like the proxy war between the U.S. and Russia that many peace activists say it is. They have been saying that Ukraine is caught in the middle of a long-term battle that the U.S. is waging against Russia.

Ukrainians stand around a Christmas tree adorned with peace doves in Kiev on Dec. 17, as partial power outages kept much of the capital city dark. | Felipe Dana / AP

While the U.S. announced billions in new weapons for the Ukraine war this week, Russia responded by announcing plans on Wednesday to increase the size of its army from one million to 1.5 million members, and government officials rolled out plans to create entirely new, “better trained” units.

Meanwhile, NATO which is under the control of Washington, continues its plans to expand—an expansion that is seen as a major cause of the war in the first place. Two countries are slated to soon become new members.

Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said his country needed to safeguard its security because of those NATO plans, which involve the incorporation of Finland and Sweden into the alliance.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov also responded this week to U.S. plans for sending more weapons into the conflict. He declared that the move would not “bode well” for Ukraine, as Russian bombardments continued to pound the country’s energy infrastructure.

This news analysis published here reflects the views of the authors.

      John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and ’80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

        C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

        People’s World, December 23, 2022,

        Activists reject escalation in Ukraine, even when it’s unpopular / by People’s Dispatch

        Manolo De Los Santos of the People’s Forum addresses the event

        Originally published in Peoples Dispatch on November 21, 2022

        On November 19, 300 activists, organizers, and working people gathered in New York City to listen to seven anti-war leaders speak out against U.S. and NATO involvement in the war in Ukraine. The event hosted at the Peoples Forum was titled “The Real Path to Peace in Ukraine,” and featured philosopher Noam Chomsky, historian Vijay Prashad, People’s Forum executive directors Manolo De Los Santos and Claudia De La Cruz, Brian Becker of the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, Eugene Puryear of Breakthrough News, former U.S. presidential candidate for the Green Party, Jill Stein, and CODEPINK .

        In Saturday’s event, speakers specifically underlined the need for negotiations to end the war in Ukraine and not escalation of violent conflict. Many pointed out that this war, like many before it, works directly against the interests of working people across the globe. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has sent over $80 billion to Ukraine in military and non-military aid.

        Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, highlighted:

        People who are working for things like healthcare for all in the United States, a free college education, all of those people have to recognize that as we are going to spend over $100 billion in less than a year on this war, we must make people understand that that money could be going for needs at home.

        Despite this, voters in both the Democratic and Republican parties overwhelmingly support sending weapons to Ukraine. However, a majority in the U.S. is becoming concerned with the growing possibility of direct confrontation between two nuclear powers.

        Who benefits from this war?

        In the very outset of the war, the stocks of the top war manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin skyrocketed. An October 2 headline in Barron’s read,

        Russia’s War on Ukraine Is Escalating. It’s Time to Buy Defense Stocks.

        “We see very clearly that the only group of people who benefit from this war—the only people who benefit from there not being peace negotiations—are the elites in Washington,” said De Los Santos.

        We will not allow them to sacrifice the planet for their new war of greed!

        De La Cruz highlighted that the people of the U.S. have a responsibility to stand against the war as it is their tax money that is funding the war. “We have a responsibility to say, shut down NATO, shut down AFRICOM, and shut down every instrument of war that [the U.S. has] across the globe,” said De La Cruz.

        Not in our name!

        The struggle for peace

        While De La Cruz focused on collective responsibility in winning peace, others highlighted the enormous power that average working people have in ending the war. Stein quoted author Alice Walker when she said, “the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Eugene Puryear, who brought up the rich history of fightback against slavery, said “People power has defeated every terrible institution that you can imagine.”

        ANSWER Coalition director Brian Becker touched upon the historic role of the U.S. anti-war movement during struggles in the cases of past wars, such as Vietnam.

        “Whenever people have organized and fought for and mobilized for peace, they draw the wrath of the warmakers,” Becker said.

        It doesn’t matter if their slogans are soft or mild, whether they talk about negotiations or overturning capitalism, just mobilizing the people against war is a great danger to the warmakers, because if the people finally say no to war, the wars end. The ruling class can’t do the wars without the people.

        Between escalation and negotiation

        The specter of nuclear war also hangs in the horizon as two nuclear superpowers inch closer and closer to direct conflict. This is especially true considering that when a missile hit Poland on November 15, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky immediately jumped to blame Russia. “Hitting NATO territory with missiles…This is a Russian missile attack on collective security! This is a really significant escalation. Action is needed,” Zelensky urged on the same day. This was a potentially catastrophic language, as Article 5 of NATO states that “an armed attack against one or more of [the members] in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” Zelensky was advocating for a war between nuclear powers. The next day the truth came out: the missile was launched by accident by Ukrainian forces.

        Despite the possibility of a world-ending nuclear war, NATO and the U.S. steadfastly refuse to move towards peace. “The central matter is the ghastly gamble,” said Chomsky.

        The willingness to gamble that Russia will accept defeat and not react in the manner of the Western warrior states.

        “The international committee of the Red Cross said that there would be a catastrophic humanitarian crisis from even a limited nuclear war, whatever that is,” said Eugene Puryear.

        Nuclear winter. Crops destroyed. Water poisoned…talk about sowing salt in the soil, this is a million times worse than that.

        Puryear drew attention to the often neglected consequences of the war: the calamitous impact on the Global South and among oppressed populations in the Global North. “From Sudan, to Sri Lanka, to São Paulo, to South Carolina, to the South Bronx, working class people and poor people on every corner of the globe are suffering from a massive cost of living crisis,” Puryear said, referring to the myriad crisis around the world, exacerbated by limited imports from Ukraine and sanctions on Russia.

        “When do we have the right to speak?” Puryear asked.

        Can the people in the Congo speak? How come no one is even talking about the Congo right now? War going on there. War has been going on for multiple decades. Maybe as many as ten million people have died. That never really makes the front page.

        Historian and Tricontinental Institute director Vijay Prashad closed out the panel with a powerful statement: “No war but class war.” Prashad also called for the abolition of NATO and the CIA. “What has the CIA done that’s ever been good?” asked Prashad.

        One of the reasons you need to build a massive peace movement, not only in the United States, but in all the Western warrior states, including Canada…it’s because you have to join the global movement. The mood is changing, friends. People are not interested in this anymore.

        Peoples Dispatch, formerly The Dawn News, is an international media organization with the mission of bringing to you voices from people’s movements and organizations across the globe. Since its establishment three years ago, it has sought to ensure that the coverage of news from around the world is not restricted to the rhetoric of politicians and the fortunes of big companies but encompasses the richness and diversity of mobilizations from around the world. Peoples Dispatch also seeks to bring to you breaking news from a perspective widely different from that of the mainstream media. We invite people’s movements and political organizations everywhere to send us information and news from their countries. The information can be in Spanish, Portuguese, English or Hindi.

        MRonline, November 23, 2022,

        Is the Russia-Ukraine war at a crossroads? / by Gilbert Doctorow

        Peace March – The Banner Reads ‘Together against the War’—the Message of the Combined Russian and Ukrainian Flags, Moscow, September 21, 2014 | Photo by E. Razumnyi/Vedomosti

        Originally published on the Gilbert Doctorow Blog on November 21, 2022

        In a new 25-minute live broadcast devoted to the war, Iran’s Press TV showcases key issues from this week’s developments on the front lines, including the latest bombardments of the Zaporozhie nuclear power station and the missiles which fell on Polish territory, threatening to bring in NATO as full co-belligerents. The panelists were asked to comment on likely ‘end game’ scenarios for this war.

        As we know, mainstream Western media is rock-solid in its predictions of ultimate Ukrainian victory, with the Russian evacuations of Kharkov and Kherson as their leading arguments.  In the alternative media, opinion is divided over whether there will indeed be a new Russian offensive in coming weeks when the 220,000 recently mobilized reservists still in training are ready for action or whether the U.S. administration will push Zelensky into negotiations with the Russians that temporarily or even permanently put an end to the fighting.

        A lot of attention is directed in world media to the resistance of Zelensky to entering into negotiations. That is explored as well on this Iran TV program. However, an issue which is not addressed there is the willingness and even the ability of the Russian President to enter into negotiations.

        Ever since the October mobilization of reservists, the military operation in Ukraine has de facto become the war of a nation in arms about which everyone in Russia now has an opinion. The fact is that Russian society from top to bottom is very unhappy with the present state of the war—but their discontent is with what they see as the pusillanimity of their own government in not responding more resolutely to Ukrainian provocations in the form of continuing artillery strikes on the Kursk and Belgorod regions from the Kharkov oblast just across the border or through atrocities such as the just released video of the cold-blooded murder of Russian prisoners of war by gleeful Ukrainian soldiers. The withdrawal from the city of Kherson inflamed the passions of the Russian public who demand better explanations in their parliament and on their television than they have received so far.

        The pressure on Mr. Putin is from his own patriotic supporters, and an untimely truce for negotiations right now could lead to civil disorder in Russia. This is not idle speculation: it was perfectly clear from the latest edition of yesterday’s talk show Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov in which a deputy speaker of the Duma from the ruling party United Russia and a Duma committee chairman from the Communists took an active part, meaning that the nation’s elites are moving with the popular current against Defense Minister Shoigu if not against those still higher in the Kremlin. Meanwhile, discredited Russian Liberalism is taking down with it the commitment to free markets for the sake of more effective war production. There is serious talk of reintroducing Five Year Plans. And the recent official approval of plans to proceed with traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s in Russian cities was denounced as inappropriate for a country at war in an existential struggle with NATO.

        We may conclude that the Special Military Operation is indeed a watershed in Russian domestic politics.

        Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. He chose this third career of ‘public intellectual’ after finishing up a 25 year career as corporate executive and outside consultant to multinational corporations doing business in Russia and Eastern Europe which culminated in the position of Managing Director, Russia during the years 1995-2000. He is presently publishing his memoirs of his 25 years of doing business in and around the Soviet Union/Russia, 1975 – 2000. Memoirs of a Russianist, Volume I: From the Ground Up was published on 10 November 2020. Volume II: Russia in the Roaring 1990s will go to press in two months.

        MRonline, November 22, 2022,

        Another Ukrainian missile stunt / by B.

        UK media – The Metro

        Originally published: Moon of Alabama  on November 16, 2022 by B (more by Moon of Alabama)

        A factual assessment:

        OSINTtechnical @Osinttechnical – 19:41 UTC · Nov 15, 2022The missile(s) that impacted Polish territory near the Ukrainian border very much looks like a 5V55K from the S-300.

        | Map | MR Online

        The 5V55K is an old Soviet produced missile (1978/82) for the S-300 air defense system that the Ukraine is using against Russian cruise missiles. Its nominal range in air defense mode is 75 kilometer. If it fails to hit its target the debris is likely to fall at somewhat around that range. Przewodow in Poland (50.47099 lat, 23.93432 lon) where the missile landed, is some 70 kilometer northward of Lviv in Ukraine.

        But World War III mongers don’t care about facts:

        Dmytro Kuleba @DmytroKuleba – 21:35 UTC · Nov 15, 2022
        Ukraine government officialRussia now promotes a conspiracy theory that it was allegedly a missile of Ukrainian air defense that fell on the Polish theory. Which is not true. No one should buy Russian propaganda or amplify its messages. This lesson should have been long learnt since the downing of #MH17.

        “Russia promotes a conspiracy theory …”

        Biden: ‘Unlikely’ missile that hit Poland fired from Russia – AP – 23:44 UTC  Nov 15, 2022

        NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — President Joe Biden said Wednesday it was “unlikely” that a missile that killed two in NATO-ally Poland was fired from Russia, but he pledged support for Poland’s investigation into what it had called a “Russian-made” missile.

        It is good that no one of importance fell for this stunt.

        UK media though …

        | UK media | MR Online
        | UK media | MR Online
        | UK media | MR Online

        MRonline, November, 18, 2022,

        Fake Ukraine referendums, pipeline sabotage raise danger of wider war / by C.J. Atkins

        Voting at the point of a gun? A military vehicle drives along a street with a billboard that reads: ‘With Russia forever, September 27,’ prior to a referendum in the Luhansk People’s Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Sept. 22, 2022. | AP

        Russia now stands ready to annex the parts of eastern Ukraine that its invading troops currently occupy. Following the announcement of vote totals in the referendums held in the territories controlled by his military, President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the Russian parliament Friday and officially finalize the land grab.

        The absorption of the territories, which include but are not limited to Russian ethnic-majority regions that have sought separation from Ukraine for years, comes on the same day that the two major pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany exploded beneath the Baltic Sea. The damage done to these key pieces of energy infrastructure are being widely described as an act of sabotage, but confusion reigns as to who might be responsible.

        Paired with Putin’s recent declaration of his willingness to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory—including, apparently, the conquered Ukrainian lands—the destruction of this essential lifeline for both the Russian economy and European energy security gravely escalates the danger that the Ukraine war could spiral into an even larger conflict.

        Votes used to justify nuclear escalation

        As predicted, the votes orchestrated by Moscow resulted in overwhelming numbers of people in the regions of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Luhansk, and Donetsk supposedly casting ballots to be absorbed by the Russian Federation. Officials in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, denounced the referendums as illegal and rigged, an expected conclusion given the circumstances in which they were held.

        A ballot marked as ‘Yes’ is seen at voting station in Luhansk, Sept. 27, 2022. | AP

        Armed Russian soldiers accompanied election officials collecting ballots at residents’ doorsteps over the course of five days. Conducted in the middle of an armed conflict and in a war zone, the referendums stand no chance of gaining widespread international recognition. The Ukrainian foreign ministry called the balloting a “propaganda show” and said Russia was “forcing people in these territories to fill out some papers at the barrel of a gun.”

        Nevertheless, Russian-installed authorities in the regions pushed ahead with declarations that people in eastern Ukraine overwhelmingly desired union with Russia. Counts published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti claimed a “yes” vote of 93% in Zaporizhzhia, where a nuclear power plant has been repeatedly shelled by both sides; 87% in the devastated city of Kherson; and 98% and 99% respectively in the self-declared “People’s Republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk.

        Participation in the referendums was a lose-lose situation for Ukrainians living in the disputed territories. Pressure to vote by occupying Russian forces provided an incentive to cast a ballot that could not be ignored, but the simultaneous threat of retaliation by Ukrainian troops and militia raised fears of reprisals should the regions ever return to Ukrainian control.

        Putin has called up 300,000 more reservists and retired military personnel in recent days, and the Russian parliament passed harsh new measures to punish deserters and anyone who refuses military service. Long lines have formed at Russia’s borders with Georgia and other countries as young men attempt to flee conscription. Protesters demonstrating against the war, meanwhile, have faced repression in Moscow and other major cities.

        The resort to outright annexation, rather than simply continued economic and military support to the separatist areas, comes as the Russian Army’s offensive in Ukraine appears to have stalled. Taken together, the measures suggest the Russian high command faces major difficulties in continuing its campaign in Ukraine.

        The danger of wider escalation was raised, however, by Putin’s recent statement that he stands ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory. With the Kremlin now considering the annexed eastern regions to be part of Russia, this would allow him to characterize any Ukrainian counteroffensive as an attack on Russia itself.

        The U.S. has warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Putin uses nuclear weapons, even while at the same time admitting it does not believe Russia truly has any such intention. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that the U.S. will “respond decisively” in the event of a nuclear strike against Ukraine.

        Given the presence of the U.S.’ own nuclear weapons in several NATO countries in Europe and the stationing of nuclear-capable delivery systems in countries on the Russian border, the situation threatens to spin further out of control and endanger the whole world.

        Sabotage under the sea

        Meanwhile, the blowing up of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines beneath the Baltic Sea injects more volatility into the mix. Built jointly by Russia and Germany to deliver natural gas to central Europe, the two pipelines have been a major, if often little-discussed, factor in the Ukraine conflict.

        Confusion reigns and accusations are swirling as to who could be responsible for the detonations that crippled both lines, with multiple countries having motives. As methane continues to billow from the ruptured pipes, a closer investigation remains impossible for the time being.

        Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said the incident “looks like some kind of terrorist attack, possibly at the state level.” NATO on Thursday formally declared it an act of sabotage, with ambassadors saying, “Any deliberate attack against Allies’ critical infrastructure” would be met with a “united and determined response.”

        Gas billows from under the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark, Sept. 27, 2022, following a series of explosions inside the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. | Danish Defence Command via AP

        Member state Poland, which just opened its own new pipeline to get gas from Norway the day before the explosions, immediately blamed Russia; the Ukrainian government did the same.

        Forbes, one of the main outlets of the U.S. business class, joined them. In an article published Thursday morning, the magazine alleged that Russia was determined to strangle Europe ahead of winter while dodging its own contractual obligations to deliver energy. It echoed the analysis of many commentators who said Russia was out to squeeze Europe into accepting the current lines of demarcation in eastern Ukraine as permanent borders.

        Without evidence, Forbes claimed the pipeline attacks were also an effort by Putin to lock in domestic support by giving oligarchs no outside sources of income. Writer Ariel Cohen claimed: “Russia’s economy is faltering, its military is sub-par, and Putin’s grip on power may weaken in months, if not weeks.”

        A number of officials in Washington and European capitals tried to slow the rush to blame Moscow on Wednesday, however. It was pointed out that the Russian company Gazprom spent billions to build the pipelines and would likely hope to resume shipments through them when hostilities someday end in Ukraine and relations are repaired with Europe. The damage to Russia’s economy from these explosions could be just as significant as that caused to European countries.

        According to the New York Times, U.S. officials and experts on Eastern Europe even speculated that Ukraine or one of the Baltic states—Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia—which have long opposed the pipelines, might have tried to destroy them. All these countries saw their revenues as middlemen for the land-based transport of Russian energy threatened by the direct link between Russia and Germany.

        A number of critics of U.S. foreign policy wondered whether Washington could have had a hand in the explosions. U.S. fracked gas companies’ sales to Europe were flat, with little hope of growth, before the Ukraine war; Nord Stream represented a permanent block on their plans to expand their position in the continent’s energy markets.

        Some reports point to statements by President Joe Biden in February in which he declared, “There will no longer be a Nord Stream 2” if Russia invaded Ukraine. “We will bring an end to it,” Biden said. When asked by journalists how the U.S. would do that, since it was a German-Russian joint venture, he responded, “I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.”

        Regardless of who is responsible for the pipeline attack, it is sure to send Europe into recession, cause energy prices and inflation to soar further, and deny Russia future gas sales. The economic fallout will hit many of the actors in this conflict, but it will also leave openings for increased profits to others.

        Back to Minsk?

        With the Russian military facing major challenges, the referendums and nuclear threats could be part of a strategy by Putin to permanently cement the status quo when it comes to territorial acquisitions and military positions. If the costs of continued war become too high for all involved, his calculation may be that the U.S. will slow arms shipments to Ukraine, Kiev will halt attempts to recover its territory, and plans for NATO expansion will be shelved to avoid further danger.

        It’s not a result that either Ukraine or its backers in the U.S. or Europe would be eager to accept, nor would it mesh with long-term NATO strategy of encircling and containing Russia.

        Is there a way back to Minsk? Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko shake hands as French President Francois Hollande, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel look on during a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, on Feb. 11, 2015. The leaders agreed to a deal that would have ended fighting in eastern Ukraine and granted autonomy to the Russian-speaking regions of the Donbass. For years, successive Ukrainian governments refused to implement the accord. | Andrei Stasevich / BeITA via AP

        Regardless, the fallout from the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines could sink that possible outcome anyway. The trading of accusations further inflates tensions, especially between NATO and Russia, and Western multinational energy corporations look set to be the initial beneficiaries. They—along with weapons dealers—have profited immensely these last seven months and will undoubtedly see their revenues grow fatter.

        A ceasefire and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia—and ultimately talks between the U.S. and Russia—remain the only actions likely to truly defuse the danger that this war could explode into a wider global conflict.

        The Minsk Accords of 2015—which would have continued economic cooperation between Russia and Europe, allowed autonomy for the eastern regions of Ukraine but maintained the country’s integrity and independence, and provided security guarantees by preventing NATO expansion—could have prevented the current war.

        They were never implemented though, and after seven months of the Russian invasion, thousands upon thousands of people are dead who didn’t have to die, economic ties have been needlessly but perhaps permanently ruptured, tons of methane have been dumped into the atmosphere from beneath the sea, and billions of dollars have been wasted on all sides which could have gone to public needs.

        The question now: Is there any way back to Minsk? Talks are the only path that will ever lead to peace.

        C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

        People’s World, September 29, 2022,