San Francisco

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.

The huge devastation, death and misery that Hurricane Harvey wreaked upon Texas and Louisiana has been seen around the world.

Meanwhile, fresh havoc is being wreaked upon the Caribbean and the US’s south-east by Hurricane Irma. In less reported news, more than 1400 people have been killed in recent weeks by horrific flooding in South Asia. The consequences of such disasters caused by extreme weather reveal the intersection of crises caused by the capitalist system.

In a New York Times op-ed in June titled “How Democrats Can Stop Losing”, Bernie Sanders slammed the Democratic Party.

“In 2016 the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history,” he wrote. “In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically.

Recent weeks have brought to the fore two main issues concerning US President Donald Trump.

The first was his doubling down on one central theme of his election campaign — economic nationalism. This was found in his charge that most of the rest of the world is somehow “exploiting” the United States — and he will fight back.

The second is his drive to establish himself as an authoritarian president, the “strongman” who can take on the dysfunction in the two capitalist parties that dominate US politics.

Two murders and an attempted murder in Portland, Oregon, on the first day of Ramadan (May 26), by a white racist are the latest in a string of hate crimes inspired by President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and actions since he took office.

Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps track of hate crimes, told Democracy Now! on May 30: “President Trump, whose words in the campaign unleashed against immigrants, against Muslims and others, unleashed a wave of hate crimes and bias incidents, especially right after the election.

US President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey for one reason: he was not 100% loyal to Trump. The boldness of the move was to underscore Trump’s drive to establish an increasingly authoritarian presidency.

The United States was the scene of three large national mass mobilisations from April 22 to May 1 challenging President Donald Trump’s agenda.  

During last year’s presidential election campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump favoured a more militarised foreign policy. They differed on the main target: Clinton aimed at Russia, while Trump singled out China.

Clinton wanted to continue the policy of both Republican and Democratic administrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union of steadily expanding NATO up to Russia’s borders in Europe. She also proposed challenging Russia in Syria.

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