Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spanish students protest education cutbacks

Tens of thousands of students protested in cities across Spain today, including Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, against education cuts involving teacher layoffs, & overcrowded & unheated classrooms that require blankets during the winter. Protests were reported as peaceful in most cities but in Barcelona the protest “turned violent” in that magical way they do when riot police attack them with truncheons, tear gas, & rubber bullets. Spanish TV reported protestors setting fires & breaking bank windows. Maybe so, but before they get carried away with allegations, they’d better check to see if the vandals had undercover cop credentials. Some students took refuge from police at the University of Barcelona, denying they started the violence.  Given the evidence from thousands of protests on every continent, who do you believe? (Photo by Daniel Ochoa De Olza/AP)

Afghan refugees of US occupation live in squalor in Pakistan

Afghan children living in Pakistan as refugees from US occupation stand outside their muddy house near Islamabad. The squalor cannot hide their beauty but it will certainly affect their health & well-being. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

Environmental protests in Mexico

Many countries now face massive air, water, & other pollution problems from unbridled  industrial development, wars (& US bombing), nuclear emissions, & neglect mandated by IMF austerity programs. For many years, Mexico City held the inglorious distinction of being one of the most polluted cities in the world. Situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, trapped fumes make the air a toxic brew but the causes are industrial facilities, motor vehicles, power plants, & deforestation around the capital city. Pollutants from these sources include sulfur dioxide, suspended particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone, & carbon monoxide. Lethal stuff. As a result, an estimated 500,000 residents suffer some sort of health problem like lung & skin diseases. Yesterday, activists in 15 Mexican cities covered statues of historic figures with gas masks to demand the government take action. Btw, of the 10 cities ranked most polluted last year, 8 are in India, Iran, Pakistan (the other two are in Mongolia & Botswana). (Photo by Xinhua/Pedro Mera)

Anti-austerity protests continue in Greece

Cops in Greece took time out from beating heads to join firefighters & coast guards in front of parliament to protest cuts in their wages & pensions. Here a firefighter raises a flare, perhaps suggesting he can burn  down the place that has hijacked Greek democracy. The parliament just approved a $4.3 billion (3.2 billion-euro) package of spending reductions to the 2012 government budget, as proposed by the “troika” or gang of three--the European Union, IMF, & European Central Bank. The Greek Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos (aka Papaoligarchos), is in Brussels for final approval from the gangster troika. As a former governor of the Bank of Greece & VP of the European Central Bank, you can understand his indifference to how this bailout will impoverish working people because of how it will enrich investors & financial institutions. (Photo by Petras Giannakouris/AP)

Israeli Reactions to Oscar-Winning Iranian Film Reveals an Ignorant & Propagandized Population

(AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Last night, the brilliant Iranian film A Separation took the Best Foreign Film Oscar. This AP article, picked up by the Washington Post, about Israeli reactions to the film reveals the sheer amount of propaganda Israelis must be subject to regarding their perception of Iran. It's clear they are ignorant of what Iran is actually like...those interviewed are all shocked that the country is full of cars, home appliances, and real live human beings!

Here are the best quotes:

Yair Raveh, film critic for Israel's leading entertainment magazine, Pnai Plus, said, "Ultimately you don’t think about nuclear bombs or dictators threatening world peace. You see them driving cars and going to movies and they look exactly like us."
Rina Brick, 70, said, "Our image of how Iran works is less democratic than we see here. The judge, the police, everyone behaves as if they are in a Western country."
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Burning the Quran by Asa'd Abu Khalil

Al Akhbar

This story is revealing. Some US soldiers decided to throw copies of the Quran over a pile of garbage and set them on fire. I know that the accounts of this incident are not consistent. We were told that Qurans were “mistakenly” tossed in a garbage dump and set on fire. The mechanics of the error have yet to be revealed to us. Some accounts claim – in justification of the act – that Qurans were being used to smuggle letters to prisoners. Would it have been difficult to search Qurans for secret messages?

Worse, the US military quickly announced that all US soldiers in the field would undergo special training in handling Qurans. Special training? One requires special training to figure out that holy books should not be tossed into a garbage dump before setting fire to them? One should require special training to figure that Muslims – like other religious groups – don’t like their holy books to be desecrated particularly by soldiers who are occupying their lands, and who have an accumulated reputation for insensitivity to Islam and Muslims? One should require special training to know that provocative acts are provocative?

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So tell me, what does a checkpoint look like?

Qalandia checkpoint. Palestine.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

10 Reasons Why the Israel Lobby AIPAC is So Dangerous

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the country. AIPAC’s clout helps fuel a never-ending cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Here are ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous:

1. AIPAC is lobbying Congress to promote a military confrontation with Iran.

2. AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to international law.

3. AIPAC’s call for unconditional support for the Israeli government threatens our national security.

4. AIPAC undermines American support for democracy movements in the Arab world.

5. AIPAC makes the U.S. a pariah at the UN.

6. AIPAC attacks politicians who question unconditional support of Israel.

7. AIPAC attempts to silence all criticism of Israel by labeling critics as “anti-Semitic,” “de-legitimizers” or “self-hating Jews.”

8. AIPAC feeds U.S. government officials a distorted view of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

9. AIPAC lobbies for billions of U.S. taxdollars to go to Israel instead of rebuilding America.

10. Money to Israel takes funds from world’s poor. Israel has the 24th largest economy in the world, but thanks to AIPAC, it gets more U.S. taxdollars than any other country.

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The Hucksters of Empire

With the publication of his courageous new book, Why America Failed (John Wiley, 2012), Morris Berman has become one of the very first well-known, left-wing writers to acknowledge that not only is the American Empire in decline, but that it is completely unfixable. In Berman’s view there will be no rabbit pulled out of the hat at the eleventh hour to save the nation, because “the hat is coming apart at the seams.”

Unlike most of the liberal pundits such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Michael Parenti, Rachel Maddow, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Amy Goodman, Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, and Paul Krugman, to mention only a few, Berman has given up on America.

According to Berman the seeds of the Empire’s destruction were sewn in the sixteenth century by the early European settlers who were, above all, into “hustling” – looking out for number one. Ever since then, “hustling, materialism, and the pursuit of personal gain without regard for its effects on others” have provided the dominant theme of the American culture. He or she who dies with the most toys wins the game. Enough never seems to be quite enough.

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Angelina Jolie's rightward bent

Let me say a word about Angelina Jolie’s right leg: bony. 
Let me say a word about her right-wing role as shill for US military intervention: vile.

Afghan refugees from US war live in squalor in Pakistan slums

Refugee children from the US war in Afghan in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. The UN refugee agency has an agreement with the Pakistani government to allow nearly 2 million Afghan refugees to live in Pakistan through this year. Thousands of them live in squalor without electricity, running water, & other basic human needs. Protests in Afghanistan make clear US troops are not welcome or seen as a force for freedom. The antiwar movement needs everyone to start walking like an Egyptian & demanding the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO troops. (Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Tear down the walls for a world without visas

Human beings have always migrated for survival; that’s the history of our species. But it may well be that the number of people today on the move, displaced by war, political conflict, economic predation is unprecedented in human history. There are millions of people moving under perilous conditions from the southern Americas to north America, from eastern Europe to western Europe, from Africa to Europe, from Asia all over the world. Many do not survive the dangerous trips, many are subject to crimes along the way. Many are children, including thousands of unaccompanied minors. This young boy is headed to the US from Central America. His vulnerability will be preyed on or he will survive by the kindness of strangers along the way. Immigration policies debarring entrance to desperate people are criminal policies. Corporations maintain their right to travel the globe in search of cheap workers but then erect walls to impede displaced workers from traveling in search of work. Those damn walls exist all over the planet. It’s time to tear them down & turn them into tourist attractions like the Great Wall of China. It’s time to build a world without walls or visas. (Photo from Polo’s Bastards)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Israeli soldiers using brute force against unarmed Palestinians

Israeli soldiers using brute force against unarmed Palestinians by firing tear gas, stun grenades, & rubber coated steel pellets at Palestinians throwing rocks in the West Bank neighborhood of Al-Ram (adjacent to Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem). According to a Palestinian medical official, over 40 Palestinians were treated for tear gas inhalation & rubber bullet wounds. The confrontation erupted after the funeral of 23 year-old Talat Ramia who died after being shot by Israeli soldiers on Friday. Boycott Israeli products to protest apartheid policies toward the Palestinians. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP)

Bhopal victims & activists protest Dow sponsorship of 2012 London "Dowlympics"

Activists & victims of India’s Bhopal gas accident in 1984 submitted a petition with 20,000 signatures to the British government in New Delhi demanding British officials drop Dow Chemical as a sponsor of the 2012 London Olympics. US-based Dow is the parent company of Union Carbide, whose neglect of safety systems to save money caused  the pesticide plant to leak toxic gas into the city, killing an estimated 25,000 & injuring half a million. Civil & criminal litigation against the company is ongoing. Bhopal activists have campaigned against Dow’s sponsorship of what they call the “Dowlympics” but the International Olympic Committee & British government identify more with the criminal element than human decency & justice. Here victims protest by posing as dead bodies outside the Indian sports ministry. (Photo by Saurabh Das/AP)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bolivian riot cops attack protestors on crutches & in wheelchairs

Disability rights activists in Bolivia made a 100-day protest caravan across the country to the capital city (La Paz) to demand an increase in the state disability allowance & better work opportunities (buildings are inaccessible to wheelchairs & people with disabilities often cannot go to work or school). The protestors want an annual subsidy of about $400 (£254); they now receive only about $130. The caravan was supported by the kindness of people along the 1,000 mile trek to La Paz. In La Paz, the protestors were met by riot cops blocking off the street to the presidential square & attacked indiscriminately with pepper spray & electric shocks. Government officials have the temerity & stupidity to claim they acted in response to violent attacks by protestors hitting them with sticks & crutches & that cops were also injured in the confrontation. Amnesty International is demanding an independent investigation of this attack. Judge for yourself since a picture is worth a thousand lies. (Photos by David Mercado/Reuters)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Poor IDF, suffering the indignity of a shoe bombardment

"Iran threatened Israel": the umpteenth iteration of a lie

The Hasbara Buster
"On the website of United With Israel, one of many pseudo-NGO's devoted to scare Jews into donating money for Zionist causes (such as the improvement of the editors' standard of living), there is currently a post titled Iran: We Must Attack Israel by 2014. Wow, I said to myself, they were right and I was wrong, and Iran has actually pledged to exterminate the Jewish state. The post, however, is a verbatim transcription of a Jerusalem Post story titled 'Iran must attack Israel by 2014' (quotation marks included in the original), so that here we have a first problem. It's not the same Iran (i.e. its government) claiming that it must attack Israel as some unnamed source stating as much. By slightly changing the headline's punctuation, UWI already managed to distort the story it was quoting."
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What maps say

Global warming and Indonesia

Children in Jakarta, Indonesia, playing ball in flood waters look charming until you realize flood waters are a brew of chemicals, bacteria, & health-threatening toxicity. Under neoliberal policies, garbage management, reliable water, & waste water services have been ignored or privatized. In Indonesia, many waterways are dump sites with toxic foam emissions. As an equatorial & tropical archipelago, Indonesia has annual monsoonal rains & much of Jakarta (the capital city) is below sea level so it has always been prone to flooding. But it is getting clobbered with the effects of climate change which are triggering annual major floods. Warmer seas heat up monsoon winds that carry moisture from ocean to land, bringing extra heavy rain & burying the capital city in up to 17 feet of flood water. According to the government environmental official, Indonesia could lose 2,000 islands by 2030 due to rising sea levels from climate change. The official admits heavy flooding is not only a climate phenomenon but due to waterways choked with debris, lack of adequate flood control systems, & large scale deforestation to build palm oil plantations & make room for a huge construction boom in Jakarta’s water catchment areas. Deforestation & the destruction of peatlands make Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The global demand for Indonesia’s natural resources made it profitable for foreign investors & fueled the rise of Indonesian fortunes from coal, palm oil, oil & gas. The fortunes of Indonesia’s 12 billionaires & countless millionaires are built on deforestation & plundering of resources so the oligarchs are unlikely to alter the profitable ventures causing global warming or provide for a flood control infrastructure. The planet is held hostage to plunder until working people cut the Gordian knot. (Major flooding has become a global problem effecting every continent & displacing millions of people but media is too busy focusing on the important things like the upcoming Oscar awards.) (Photo: Supri/Reuters)

U.S. refuses to grant visa to far right Israeli MK due to his membership in 'terror group'

The U.S. government refused to grant a visa to National Union (far right) MK Michael Ben Ari, on the basis of his membership in a "terror organization."

Ben Ari recently submitted a request to the U.S. consulate for a visa, so he could take part in two conferences held in the United States this week, one aimed at encouraging aliyah to Israel.

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2013 Budget: 'Difficult Cuts' for Americans, Jackpot for Israel

Here is an example of a subsidy that should be ended.

By Josh Ruebner

Speaking before students at Northern Virginia Community College on February 13, President Obama unveiled his 2013 budget request, in which he proposed "some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn’t normally make if they weren't absolutely necessary. But they are." These budget cuts are unavoidable, the President argued, because "the truth is we're going to have to make some tough choices in order to put this country back on a more sustainable fiscal path." In a sad commentary on the misplaced priorities of the Obama Administration, however, these "tough choices" will affect the delivery of basic services to U.S. citizens while the Israeli military hits the jackpot at taxpayer expense.

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Cassandra Wilson cancels Israel concert, joining artistic boycott of Israel

Grammy-winning jazz singer Cassandra Wilson has called off her scheduled concert in Holon tonight, after receiving requests from pro-Palestinian activists asking that she join an artistic boycott of Israel.
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AIPAC Declares War

by , February 23, 2012
The American people don’t particularly want a new war in the Middle East, but apparently Congress and Washington’s most powerful lobby do. Thirty-two senators have co-sponsored a resolution that will constrain the White House from adopting any policy vis-à-vis Iran’s “nuclear weapons capability” that amounts to “containment.” The senators include the familiar figures of Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both of whom have persistently called for military action.
Read moreLink

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A simple signature to defend the Bill of Rights for Black youth

Police aggression against Black youth has long been at crisis levels. The Bill of Rights is long since shredded, in particular the provision for probable cause governing search & seizure. Under the guise of the drug war & preposterous accusations of gang violence, Black youth are harassed, detained, & incarcerated. Rahmarley Graham, an unarmed 18 year-old man, was followed by narcotics cops to the bathroon in his grandmother’s apartment in the Bronx where they shot Mr. Graham in the chest & murdered him in cold blood. Please take a moment to sign & share this petition demanding justice for Mr. Graham & his family.

Petition to Honduran government demanding justice for victims of prison fire

Just a reminder to take a moment to sign this petition to the Honduran government demanding an independent investigation of the Comayagua prison fire. A moment of your time can help bring justice to the victims & families of this monstrous human rights crime.

Protests against US occupation continue in Afghanistan

This US military method was first developed during the campaigns against Native Americans. Collaborators were hired as military scouts to guide the army in the Indian wars & police forces of collaborators were established on reservations to maintain US army control. Here Afghan cops form a phalanx against Afghan protestors around a US military base. The media has reported “armed Afghan men have attacked at least two military installations”. Armed with what? Sticks, stones, & anti-American slogans?  An Afghan soldier killed two US soldiers & wounded four others at a protest in one province but in Kabul, US-controlled Afghan police are firing live ammo at protestors. So far, nine Afghan civilians have been killed & many injured. Obama rendered an apology for this “inadvertent” act. (“inadvertent” is the duplicitous word of the day). He’s been rendering lots of these apologies lately: first, when US Marines desecrated Afghan corpses by urinating on them, then when marines posed with a Nazi SS flag, & now this flagrant insult to Afghan religion & culture. The US understands full well apologies don’t cut it. They are only intended to quell the protests & sell the war elsewhere. What Afghans want is to rout the the US military out of their country; what they demand is the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US troops. These protests are a call to arms for the international antiwar movement to stop waiting for lying politicians to end these wars & get out in the streets massively in solidarity with our brothers & sisters in Afghanistan. (Photo by Rahmat Gul/AP)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Neoliberal landfills provide the only employment for the dispossessed

Poor Palestinians are sifting through garbage dumped by an Israeli truck at a landfill near Hebron, West Bank. There are dozens of photos from countries around the world, including Guatemala, Palestine, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mexico where children, the poor, unemployed & dispossessed are forced to scrounge through toxic garbage dumps to find food, clothing, & recyclable items. Not  only is it monstrous there are no jobs or social services but the predatory oligarchs are beginning to choke the planet on their own damn garbage. (Photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA)

French photojournalist killed today in Syria also covered Libyan civil war

Remi Ochlik is the French photojournalist killed today while covering the revolution in Syria. This photo, taken in Libya on August 25, 2011 during the civil war is one of his most famous. During the battle for control of Tripoli against Gaddafi forces, the rebels attacked the neighborhood of Abu Slim considered to be a stronghold of support for Gaddafi. Abu Slim was a low income neighborhood with blocks of flats & tenements where many low ranking Gaddafi officials & their families lived. Residents lacked the means to escape the lethal vengeance of the rebels who used heavy machine guns & rocket-propelled grenades setting the district on fire & riddling inhabited buildings with bullets. Media reported seeing bodies bound & shot in the back by summary execution, corpses lying in the sun rotting, & large numbers of gunshot victims being treated at hospital, including elderly people, women & children. Amnesty reported the rebels were holding migrant workers they suspected of being mercenaries. We now know rebel forces targeted African migrant workers & summarily executed many. Ochlik apparently took the word of the rebels that this young man is a Gaddafi foreign mercenary & not just a migrant worker & that is how this photo has been captioned ever since. May Mr. Ochlik RIP.

David against Goliath in Afghanistan

In the Afghan version of David & Goliath, young men assail the largest US-NATO airbase in Afghanistan with slingshots & sticks. The media is taking the story that it's all about the Koran desecration & running it around the block to make it appear they’re religious fanatics & irrational. You have to hunt the media like a detective to know there are millions of Afghan refugees, homeless, unemployed, impoverished. This is more likely as the old Arab proverb puts it, the straw that broke the camel's back. (Photo by Shah Marai/AFP)

Creating Freedom - Part 1: The Lottery of Birth (Trailer)

Creating Freedom - Part 1: The Lottery of Birth (Trailer) from Creating Freedom on Vimeo.

Featuring: Howard Zinn, Vandana Shiva, Steven Pinker, Tony Benn, Michael Albert, George Monbiot, Nick Davies, Daniel Dennett, Bill Fletcher, Kathleen Taylor, and Jeff Schmidt.

From birth onwards our minds are a battleground of competing forces. The outcome of this battle determines the society we create. This is a film about the cultural, educational, and commercial forces that shape our identities, often in ways that limit both our personal and political freedom.

Produced & Directed by Raoul Martinez and Joshua van Praag

Conceived, Written & Edited by Raoul Martinez

Narrated by Nicholas Woodeson

Cinematography by Joshua van Praag

Original Music by Peter Raeburn

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Israel, India and the Persian Puzzle

This is perhaps what the expression ‘setting the cat among the pigeons’ means.  Just when Israel was putting up that little show, going around theworld crying about the way Iran was targeting its peaceful diplomats around the world, the ayatollahs come up with their own little performance taking everyone’s breath away.

Not that Ahmadinejad didn’t warn us.  As always, everyone was sufficiently intimated of the glad tidings on the nuclear front were on their way.  Yet it was a master stroke. Give the Iranians their due.  If the Israelis are known for their cunning and craft of obfuscation and manipulation, it’s not easy beating the Persians at mind games either.  After all, they invented the game of chess.

Afghan youth protest Koran-burning or US occupation?

Afghan workers at the US-NATO military base in Bagram, Afghanistan came across US military personnel incinerating the Koran & other religious objects in a trash dump. In a fury, they recovered the charred books & carried them out waving them in the air, & setting off protests. An estimated three thousand Afghan young people, including the base workers, threw rocks & petrol bombs at the base & chanted “long live Islam” and “death to America”. The Obama administration, Defense Secretary Leon Pinocchio, the Pentagon, & the top US commander in Afghanistan fell over themselves expressing profuse contrition, claiming the incineration was accidental & they promise all occupying soldiers in Afghanistan will undergo sensitivity training now. A flunky speaking for the Pentagon said, “These actions do not represent the views of the United States military,” but he was just making a mockery of Afghan intelligence. Does the Pentagon really think Afghans believe US-NATO forces bomb their fields, hospitals, schools, mosques, send out “kill teams”, incarcerate them, murder men, women, & children, make millions homeless, urinate on their corpses, but did not willfully burn their holy book’? The Afghan fury today was not just over burning the Koran. It was about the violent occupation of their country & tyrannizing them like they were beasts. The results of this incident will not be greater sensitivity but greater repression by US-NATO forces. Here young men  duck from US soldiers shooting them with rubber bullets. Is that the kind of sensitivity the Obama administration is talking about? (Photo by Shah Marai/AFP)

New York Times Critiques 'Free Market' Capitailsm?

Truth Addict
The New York Times ran a surprising critique of free market capitalism by Thomas Edsall this past sunday in a blog piece called "Is This the End of Market Democracy?" While there are plenty of criticisms to be said, and I will get to them, it was nice to read something at the "paper of record" that at least connects our economic system of markets and private enterprise (i.e. capitalism) to the problems of inequality and instability, and warns that something must be done.
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Malcolm X on Zionism

"Did the Zionists have the legal or moral right to invade Arab Palestine, uproot its Arab citizens from their homes and seize all Arab property for themselves just based on the “religious” claim that their forefathers lived there thousands of years ago? Only a thousand years ago the Moors lived in Spain. Would this give the Moors of today the legal and moral right to invade the Iberian Peninsula, drive out its Spanish citizens, and then set up a new Moroccan nation … where Spain used to be, as the European zionists have done to our Arab brothers and sisters in Palestine?…"

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Poisoned spring: revolution brings Tunisia more fear than freedom

The hopes vested in last year's uprising have ended in continued censorship, growing intolerance and unemployment, says Robert Fisk in Tunis

Robert Fisk

The town of Sejnane, north-west of Tunis, witnessed, briefly, the existence of an "Islamic emirate" at the end of last year when around 200 Salafists took control, turned government buildings into prisons for "sinning" – in most cases for drinking alcohol – and beat inmates. A shop selling CDs of western songs in Arabic was set on fire and a self-proclaimed Islamist "judge" announced to the owner that "if you try once more to distract Muslims from the mosque, it will be your home and all those in it who will burn".

Women began to wear the niqab, men to grow beards and wear Afghan-style clothes. The government did nothing. Was the Ennahda Party supporting the Salafists?

Attacks on cinemas began shortly afterwards, the owner of Nessma TV, Nabil Karoui, put on trial for showing Persepolis – about the reactions of a young girl growing up in the 1979 Iranian revolution – a film deemed "contrary to the values of the people". Two intellectuals were savagely beaten and 10,000 demonstrators marched through Tunis and other cities to protest at the increase of extremism.Link

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Homeless & freezing under US occupation

A cold & unhappy little boy waits with his father to receive blankets & winter jackets at a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan. Forty-one people, almost all children, have frozen to death in the past few weeks in Afghanistan's coldest winter in 15 years. The hardest hit have been those living in refugee tents around the capital city which is the center of international groups administering billions of dollars in aid. The continuing US occupation has created massive homelessness in Afghanistan (& apparently massive corruption) & is directly implicated in the deaths of these children. Bring the troops home now! (Photo by Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Belgian riot cops get water cannoned by striking firemen

Water cannons, primarily used for firefighting, were first used for riot control in Nazi Germany. They were also used extensively during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the US. Photos of riot cops attacking civil rights protestors with dogs & water hoses are iconic of that historic struggle. But the massive social force of that movement also led to their abandonment as an assaultive weapon in the US. They are still a common weapon used against social protest in many countries, including Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Belgium, Indonesia, & several others. They use extreme pressure & cause many injuries including eye injuries, broken bones, ruptured internal organs. Police are now trying to inject dyes & electrification into the water. So it does the heart good to see Belgian riot cops guarding a government office in Brussels getting water cannoned by firemen protesting cuts to their pensions (Feb. 10th). (Photo by Wu Wei--Xinhua/Landov)

Up to a million people protest in Spain against attacks on working people

Yesterday, half a million (some estimate one million) protestors across Spain answered the call of union federations & gathered in 50 cities to oppose the government’s attacks on labor rights & social welfare programs. The Partido Socialista Obrero Español is the Spanish political cousin of the French Socialist Party that chose the head of the IMF for its presidential candidate (until he was accused of rape). The socialists were overwhelmingly trounced by Spanish voters in November for going along with IMF attacks on working people & were replaced by the conservative Partido Popular government. It would be an understatement to say working people have a crisis of leadership more serious than the oligarchs. Millions of people have shown the political energy & will to do battle to defend & advance the rights of working people but our leadership has divided loyalties. A new leadership is being forged in these battles. (Photo by Manu Fernandez/AP)

Wall Street Abandons Republicans -- Now Supports Higher Taxes on the Wealthy

"...much of Wall Street is on-board with some of the tax changes Obama has been proposing. "I would tax dividends and interest income higher and capital gains," said Dimon. "Have a higher tax rate. If you said there'd be a certain percent rate for people making over a million dollars and a higher percent rate for people making over $10 million, no problem with me. I don't think people should be able to pass unlimited amounts on to their kids."

Even Home Depot founder and financier Ken Langone ("You bet I'm a fat cat," he told me proudly) isn't arguing for the status quo. "I would enthusiastically embrace a tax increase," he told me. "I'm more than willing to pay taxes. I'm saying, take the money and use it to lower the debt." New York Magazine
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“we will crucify you,” “Jesus is dead”, “death to Christianity”, “Jesus is the son of a whore,” sprayed on a Jerusalem church

Never mind Johnny Rotten, real punks boycott Israel

Johnny Rotten’s racism does not represent the core vaules of punk rock.

“If Elvis-fucking-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.”

These words weren’t spoken by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. They didn’t crawl from the bile of AIPAC, Newt Gingrich or some hardened, right-wing ideologue from the heart of the Israel’s illegal settlements. They came from the mouth of John Lydon, a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols.

Most devotees of punk rock stopped taking Lydon seriously well before he started shilling for Country Life butter. To be sure, any and all credibility he once had from his work with the Pistols, or, for that matter, later on with Public Image Ltd (PiL), flew out the window years ago.

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Why me?

Since a discussion is taking place on a couple of posts that I can't see but of which I'm notified by email, I'm assuming that everyone except me can see the comments!

Petition to Honduran government demanding independent investigation of Comayagua prison fire

Please join with Honduran and international human rights groups and sign this petition to the Honduran government demanding an independent investigation of the Comayagua prison fire, the prosecution of those responsible, and an investigation generally of the human rights conditions in Honduran prisons. The struggle for justice for such a monstrous crime is difficult but adding thousands of voices will make it stronger.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Memorial to Comayagua prisoners

Grieving family members have created this memorial for their beloved brothers, husbands, sons who died in the Comayagua prison fire in Honduras. Families are waiting for the incinerated remains to be identified & believe the men were deliberately torched to death. “Justicia por todos los que murieron en la granja penal de Comayagua” written next to the red star means “Justice for all who died in the prison farm of Comayagua”. This is not just a memorial; in the words of the prisoners at Attica, it is the “the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed.” This memorial & this crime will come back to haunt the Honduran government & its US backers in the form of justicia. (Photo by Esteban Felix)

Record cold in Europe disrupts wild life

Geologists studying effects of global warming on Earth predict abnormal weather patterns including frequent hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, flash floods, avalanches, wildfires, record droughts next to torrential downpours. Sounds like the weather reports coming from every continent, displacing millions of people & disrupting wild life. Those who think global warming is Chicken Little alarmism writ large might be wiser to think of this Dalmatian pelican near the Caspian Sea as the canary in the mine. Endangered by the unusually frigid temperatures across Europe & unable to catch fish to eat from ice covered waters, this pelican has left a nature reserve & is seeking warmth at a fire in a shipyard. (Photo by Sergei Rasulov)

The unfortunate dabblings in politics of Clooney & Jolie

George Clooney, who never evinced interest in matters political or humanitarian before or since, made news in 2006 by speaking out against genocide in Darfur. The narcissist morphed into activist for about a fortnight. After calling for US & NATO military intervention & testifying at the UN for UN occupation, our intrepid hero morphed back into international playboy (making the world safer for democracy). Angelina Jolie has displayed more staying power but that’s because she thinks disaster zones are such a glamorous back drop to photo ops of her & Brad looking pretty. Following her propaganda film on Bosnia, she now calls for US intervention in Syria.  It’s sweet she adopts kids but that doesn’t make her an authority on international politics. No one should hold youthful folly against anybody, but she’s the woman who said, “When other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers I kind of wanted to be a vampire.” That would certainly explain her choices in politics.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whither France?

The two party system in the US may be a swindle but the system in France is the Folly Bergère of electoral politics. How the hell did that little Psychozy creep ever get elected president? He’s the intellectual equivalent of Newt Gingrich, the Pillsbury doughboy of US politics. You know your electoral system is in trouble when you consider running the head of the IMF as a socialist candidate. I don’t even want to hear about the rest of the turkeys running. I may never eat French again.

Somalian refugees face starvation, US bombing, & UN inaction

These children are at a refugee camp in Mogadishu, Somalia, now under aerial bombardment by US drone aircraft. The UN is issuing it’s usual pathetic warnings about emergency aid & mortality rates (among the highest in the world) & growing starvation before the next harvest. Would you be harvesting your fields with bombers flying overhead? So why doesn’t the UN demand the US stop bombing Somalia? And if food’s a problem, why isn’t the UN delivering it? The Somalian diet doesn’t have unusual ingredients that can’t be provided from elsewhere. Their menus are quite standard, unless you think rice & pasta are dietary anomalies. The UN always has an excuse for why they can't deliver food. We've heard them all: bad roads, armed rebels, corrupt regimes. Nearly two & a half million Somalians need food & their are no acceptable excuses. They also need the end of the US war. Solidarity demands building an antiwar movement to get the drones the hell out of their country. (Photo by Tony Karumba)

Families of prisoners burned to death in Comayagua, Honduras don't believe government's official story

These are the faces of relatives of the 357 men who burned to death in the prison fire in Comayagua, Honduras. They are now gathering the remains of their loved ones from the morgue for burial. They reject the Honduran government’s official explanation that a crazed inmate set fire to his bedding & believe their brothers, fathers, sons were deliberately incinerated. Although the media initially reported the prisoners were murderers & drug traffickers, it is now known over half of them were only suspected of crimes and incarcerated without due process. This crime demands an investigation & the prosecution of all who were involved. An investigation would include why the near by US military facility with search & rescue & fire squads did not respond to the fire. We need to collaborate on how best to help our brothers & sisters win justice for this monstrous crime. (Photo by Orlando Sierra)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Honduran government exposed for human rights crimes & violations of international law in treatment of prisoners

The Honduran government stands exposed before the world for human rights crimes & violation of international law for the treatment of prisoners. The prison in Comayagua where 357 prisoners were burned to death was a chamber of horrors. This facility built for 500, housed over 800 prisoners in filthy, unsanitary conditions. Inmates with mental illness, as well as those with tuberculosis & other infectious diseases, were held among the general prison population. There was no medical or mental health care & each prisoner ate on less than $1 a day so they were severely malnourished. An inmate (probably mentally unbalanced by starvation & Gitmo conditions) started the fire by setting fire to a mattress. He had phoned the state governor screaming & warning he was going to burn the place down. Rescue crews claimed they rushed to the prison but the prison guards wouldn’t let them enter for 30 minutes saying the prisoners screams were just a prison break or a riot. When rescuers were allowed in, they could not find keys or guards to unlock the barracks. But this tissue of lies unravels since there is previous film documentation that when fires break out in Honduran prisons, guards will not open gates to release prisoners & prisoners have already burned to death. Comayagua prison is not the first time. It is only one of several prison fires in recent years, including a 2004 prison fire that burned 100 prisoners to death. An investigation needs to be demanded which would include why US military forces with search & rescue & fire squads on standby 15 minutes away were never dispatched. Over half of the inmates in Comayagua had not yet been convicted of any crime; they were awaiting trial or being held as “suspected gang members”. This is according to a report sent to the UN by the Honduran government. That same report said people can be incarcerated for wearing a simple tattoo which the police regard as a gang insignia. One can well understand why the relatives in this photo are pelting rocks at the soldiers guarding the prison compound. (Photo by Orlando Sierra)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Riot cops in Athens attack seniors

Riot cops in Athens attack the elderly: in the top photo, the 90 year-old man being assaulted by riot cops is Manolis Glezos, a Greek national hero for tearing the swastika flag down from the Acropolis in May 1941--for which he was jailed & tortured. It was the first public act of the Resistance in Greece a month after the Nazi take-over. Mr. Glezos is being attacked while protesting the IMF/EU austerity program. In the bottom photo, an unidentified Greek senior, also protesting attacks on working people, is viciously tear gassed in the face by a cop. 

A new blog in the works

Comments continue to be removed by Blogger to the spam bin and I still have no idea how to remedy to it. As a last resort I'm thinking of creating a blog under another (maybe similar or close) name to which a link is permanently posted here. Keep posted.
And thank you for your much appreciated messages of support.

Haitian kangaroo court will not try Duvalier for human rights crimes

In a decision that has the hand of the US written all over it, the Haitian courts have dropped all criminal charges against Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. After an anemic one-year investigation which ignored documentation of human rights crimes submitted by Amnesty International & other organizations, Haiti has decided to prosecute Duvalier only for stealing $300 million to $800 million & not for the murder, disappearance, & torture of thousands of Haitians. The Haitian kangaroo court ruled the statute of limitations blocked prosecution of Duvalier's human rights crimes when, in fact, international laws hold there is no statute of limitation or amnesty for such crimes. This travesty of justice may violate international law but it is in full accord with international practice. Witness the continued judicial cover-ups of crimes by Pinochet, Franco, a whole roster of other murderous dictators, & the US sanctuary given to a whole list of these creeps (Yemen’s Saleh being the latest). The court didn’t note that many of the current Haitian president’s allies & ministers had close ties to the Duvalier dictatorship or its close ties to the US. One thing neglected by this travesty is that the Haitian people are demanding their own accounting for Duvalier’s crimes against them. Demanding the US get the hell out of Haiti--lock, stock, & barrel--is our commitment to seeing justice for our Haitian brothers & sisters.

Greek pensioners protest IMF austerity program

Media continues to grind out a burlesque version of events in Greece. They can’t say outright they’re in favor of savaging working people to save Greek tycoons & foreign investors so it’s all about those damn fires. There have been hundreds of conflagrations in cities around the world set by real estate developers to move out slum residents & claim the property. Is the media up in arms about those fires? Do we hear moralistic clucking by reporters when residents are made homeless? Do they even know which buildings are burning in Athens? Could it be apartment buildings residents were evicted from? Hospitals or schools that were closed? And why aren’t the 15 Greek billionaires being asked to chip in on the bailout? It’s an Augean task to find out how many Greek millionaires there are but the Finance Ministry negotiating the IMF deal has 70 millionaires among its officials with substantial wealth in real estate. Isn’t that a conflict of interest? These pensioners at an anti-austerity protest in Athens don’t think they should have to go hungry & homeless to bankroll a bailout for banks & free-loading tycoons. They don't think their kids should have to emigrate for work or their grandchildren should have to go without schools. They think the IMF should pack up its agreement & get the hell out of Dodge. (Photo by John Kolesidis/Reuters)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Greek working people protest IMF & EU austerity program

Photojournalist coverage of the Greek protests yesterday make it look like a petrol bomb free-for-all, ignoring the massive protest estimated by the media at 100,000 & by participants as closer to 2 million people all over Greece. Is there more drama in a burning building than there is in witnessing millions of human beings stand up united against social predation? There were street fights with the police & buildings were burned. Regrettably the Greek Parliament building was spared in the conflagration. The real carpet bombing is the IMF & EU engineered debt package agreed to by the Parliament that will destroy democratic & workers rights, cut wages, reduce the minimum wage, cause massive lay-offs & force emigration for work, slash pensions, close hospitals & schools, privatize utilities & all social services, pauperize Greek working people & make investors & bankers filthy rich. Greece appears to be a test site for this all-out assault on working people & quite frankly, if a few petrol bombs get tossed, don’t look to the rest of us to condemn them. We're on their side.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Comments (Jemmy, vza) are automatically sent to the spam bin by Blogger's spam filter and nothing I can do. Sorry. If this issue is to rest unsolved I'm going to call it a day. Blogger would have killed this blog.

Portugal protest against IMF austerity program

350,000 people from across Portugal marched in Lisbon February 11th, chanting "IMF doesn't call the shots here!" & with placards reading, "The struggle continues", "No to exploitation, no to inequality, no to impoverishment", "Another policy is possible & necessary”. The CGTP union federation that organized the protest said it was a political message to the meeting next week in Lisbon of the European Union, the European Central Bank, & the IMF. The gang of three, known as the Troika, is best understood as a mobile wrecking operation that moves from one European country to the next on a mission to impose austerity programs on working people that will reverse decades of gains working people have fought historic battles to achieve. Rights, wages, pensions & standard of living will be savaged to maximize profits for banks & creditors, who will get billions in interest & commissions. Our solidarity & deep respect to the working people of Portugal who are standing up against the predations of the IMF.

Friday, February 10, 2012

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Comments aren't appearing. Not sure what the issue is this time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tribute to victims of Spanish fascism

A protestor honors the victims of Franco’s fascist terror & the Spanish Civil War by placing a red carnation at the photo tribute outside the trial of Judge Baltasar Garzon in Madrid, Spain. The fascist regime used mass murder to silence democracy & dissent but the victims have come back to haunt justice. Right-wing groups used a clause in Spanish law to prosecute & prevent the judge from investigating & exposing the barbarous crimes of fascism. The Spanish government, which gave amnesty to the fascists, is complicit with these groups to mask its own guilt. There is no reconciliation without truth & there is no statute of limitation on justice. Thousands are dumped in mass graves & the families want the crimes investigated, the graves sites identified, & the institutions & individuals that perpetrated these crimes brought to justice. (Photo by Paul White)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Palestinian cars sprayed with unknown materials at Israeli checkpoints

Abir Kopty gas2
(Photo: Abir Kopty)

According to Haaretz, this machine is also used in Bethlehem checkpoint and I assume in many of the "privatized" checkpoints, where the state decided to outsource the managing of the checkpoint to private ‘"security" companies in order to "civilianize" the checkpoints, another failed attempt to whitewash the occupation.

If you check the pictures carefully you can see clearly a small box connected to the tubes with unknown material, which is believed to be, as International workers told Haaretz, "nausea-inducing chemicals."

When we got back to the car, there was a slight strange smell and we felt slightly dizzy, we were not sure if this is our "wild imagination" or is it something that was sprayed into the car.

I suggest to human rights organizations, to take the initiative and obtain a sample of the material being used, and examine it. I’m almost sure it will include prohibited materials, tested on Palestinians first, to be then marketed to the world as a new technology from the "successful" Israeli military industry.

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To Avoid Excessive Penalty, Family Members Start Demolishing Their Own Homes

After Israel informed them of its intentions to demolish their homes, members of the Hardan family, in Al Fredees village, at the Mount Carmel north of the 1948 territories, started demolishing their own homes, east of the village, in order to avoid the unreasonable and excessive penalties and fines that would be imposed on them.

Image By Arabs48
Image By Arabs48

The so-called Construction and Planning Committee claimed that the buildings were erected without construction permits, and that the constructions will be demolished, and the family will be forced to pay up to NIS 500.000 should family members refrain from demolishing their own homes at their own expense.

The Arabs48 news website reported that the homes in question were built using tin so many years ago on a 4 Dunam land that the family owned way before Israel was established in historic Palestine in 1948.
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