We came dangerously close to nuclear war when the United States was fighting in Viet Nam, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told a reunion of the Stanford Anti-Viet Nam War Movement in May 2014. He said that in 1965, the Joint Chiefs assured President Lyndon B. Johnson that the war could be won, but it would take at least 500,000 to one million troops. The Joint Chiefs recommended hitting targets up to the Chinese border. Ellsberg suspects their real aim was to provoke China into responding. If the Chinese came in, the Joint Chiefs took for granted we would cross into China and use nuclear weapons to demolish the communists. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower also recommended to Johnson that we use nuclear weapons in both North and South Viet Nam. Indeed, during the 1964 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater argued for nuclear attacks as well. Johnson feared that the Joint Chiefs would resign and go public if Johnson didn’t follow at least some of their recommendation and he needed some Republican support for the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty.” Fortunately, Johnson resisted their most extreme proposals, even though the Joint Chiefs regarded them as essential to success. Ellsberg cannot conclude that the antiwar movement shortened the war, but he says the movement put a lid on the war. If the president had done what the Joint Chiefs recommended, the movement would have grown even larger, but so would the war, much larger than it ever became.
Roen (“Aged Monkey”) sculpture. 1893, Japan, by artist Takamura Koun . “Aged Monkey” was displayed at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (a.k.a. World’s Columbian Exposition) and is considered a masterpiece of Meiji wood sculpture of monumental significance. It is an important Cultural Property. Tokyo National Museum, Japan
Here’s one inventive way to deal with the student debt problem. Late last week, Chilean police arrived at Santiago’s Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral and removed a white bin of gray ash—allegedly all that remained of $500 million worth of student debt notes.
The case of the destroyed student debt traces back to a hastily shot home video, a half-smoked cigarette, and a disheveled artist named Papas Fritas. In the video, which went viral last week in Chile, Papas Fritas confessed he had recently stolen the documents from the for-profit Universidad del Mar. Then he set them ablaze in a defiant, brazen act of art.
“It’s over,” declared Papas Fritas, which means “french fries.” “It’s finished. You don’t have to pay another peso [of your student loan debt]. We have to lose our fear, our fear of being thought of as criminals because we’re poor. I am just like you, living a shitty life, and I live it day by day.
French Fries finished his screed: “This is my act of love for you.”
For people just tuning in, the idea that people in Brazil would be protesting the 2014 World Cup makes about as much sense as New Yorkers’ rebelling against pizza. And yet here we are, less than one month before the start of the Cup, and demonstrations bear the slogan #NãoVaiTerCopa, or “There will be no Cup.”
Protests, strikes and direct actions have been flaring up across the country as the 2014 FIFA World Cup approaches. Most notably, as many as 10,000 people in São Paolo under the banner of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, or MTST, has occupied a major lot next to Arena Corinthians, site of the World Cup’s opening match. They call their occupation “The People’s Cup” and point out that the nearly half a billion dollars that went into building the “FIFA quality stadium” next door could have been used to combat poverty or improve healthcare. The slogan “we want FIFA quality hospitals and schools” still rings out as it did a year ago, when during the Confederation’s Cup, Brazil saw its largest protests in a generation. Now there is an even sharper desperation as the cup approaches. Maria das Dores Cirqueira, 44, a coordinator for the MTST, told the Los Angeles Times, “When the government told us we would host the World Cup, we hoped there would be improvements for us. But they aren’t putting on a Cup for the people, they’re putting on a Cup for the gringos.”
This belief that the lion’s share of Cup expenditures are for foreign consumption, while the disruption and pain will be shouldered by Brazil’s masses, is widespread. Every protest, every rally, every cry of despair is connected to the “the three D’s’”: displacement, debt and defense. The stats on displacement, debt and defense can be numbing or easy to disregard for outsiders. The numbers on people expelled from their homes vary wildly, but without question, hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable residents in the country have been or will be relocated by either carrot or stick, whether through financial reimbursement or through the barrel of the gun.