Barry Sheppard

Erica Garner, Black Lives Matter activist and daughter of African American victim of police murder Eric Garner, died on December 30 aged 27.

The proximate cause of death was a heart attack, extremely rare in one so young. The underlying cause was the trauma-induced stress (PTSD) she and her family suffered because of Eric’s murder in 2014, the exoneration of the killer cops, and the callous way the Garner family was treated by city authorities, including Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The demonstrations that erupted in Iran on December 28 and continued for days appeared to have died down. There have been clashes with the repressive forces, and more than 20 people have been killed and many arrested (there are widely divergent figures).

The US State Department has endorsed the outcome of the November 26 elections in Honduras, which was surely the most farcical electoral process in recent history.

The elections were organized by US-backed dictator Juan Hernandez in hopes of polishing his image. He ran against Salvador Nasralla, the candidate of the Alliance to Oppose the Dictatorship.

As Israeli troops violently suppress Palestinian protests, the road forward for the Palestinian struggle is again being seriously discussed.

An article in the December 8 New York Times with a headline “Two State Option, a Mideast Keystone, Is Sent Askew,” begins: “President Trump, in formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, declared that the United States still supported a two-state solution to settle the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, provided it was ‘agreed to by both sides.’

Hardly a day goes by without much of the mainstream media concentrating on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. This includes any news about the various investigations into the question, much blowhard opinionating by talking heads, charges that Russia sought to collude with Donald Trump’s campaign, and more.

It is probably true that Russia would seek to influence US politics to the extent it thought it could. But to keep a sense of proportion, we should recall that the world’s foremost “meddler” in other people’s politics and elections is Washington itself.

The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico continues after almost two months after the hurricanes hit. The imperialist center in Washington continues to refuse to provide anything like adequate aid to its Caribbean colony.

The destruction caused by the two hurricanes that hit the island in September was worsened by a long history of imperialist exploitation, which has devastated the economy and infrastructure. This has greatly deepened over the past decade.

Writing in the October 28 New York Times, conservative columnist David Brooks said the preceding week was “when Donald Trump and Steve Bannon solidified their grip on the Republican Party and America’s national government”.

Brooks speaks for the Republican establishment — and sorely deplores this development.

The wildfires north of San Francisco, in California’s wine country, exploded on the night of October 8-9, whipped by high, dry and hot winds. They have wreaked unprecedented damage.

As I wrote, a week-and-a-half later, these fires still burn. By October 18, at least 41 people had been killed — a number that will surely rise as burnt-out neighborhoods are searched.

Puerto Rico is facing a huge humanitarian crisis after being hit by two super-strong hurricanes. It suffered a glancing blow by Irma and then a direct hit by Maria, both storms greatly strengthened by warmer ocean water caused by climate change.

The crisis is still unfolding weeks after Maria hit. The full picture and extent of the damage will not be known for some time.

One year ago, Colin Kaepernick, then-quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers National Football League team, refused to stand for the US national anthem, famously kneeling instead. He was alone in his protest.

Over the weekend of September 23-24, tens of millions of football fans watched on TV as 200 mostly Black players knelt or raised their fists while the national anthem was sung. The rest of their teams stood in solidarity with their right to protest, arm-in-arm. In some cases, entire teams stayed in the locker room while the anthem played.

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