Monday, April 30, 2012

International Roma Day celebrated with mass, forcible evictions

As Serbian politicians, from the Prime Minister to the Mayor of Belgrade, were marking International Roma Day (April 8th) with high-flown rhetoric about equality, the whole rotten shebang were organizing the forcible eviction of 250 Roma families (1,500 people) from their makeshift settlement of tin & wood huts in order to provide room for an access road to a new bridge over the River Sava. And the plot only sickens from there. Without collaborating with the families involved about their needs & the resettlement plans, the authorities arranged for some of the families to be deported to other parts of Serbia with no provision for housing (including a 17-year old pregnant woman on her own) or relocated to another suburb & housed in metal shipping containers unsuitable for human habitation. The plan entailed separating families with elderly, infirm, disabled (like the woman in a wheelchair sent to a different place than her caretaker daughter), moving people far from their work sites, segregating Roma in ghettos, making whole families homeless. Residents of Resnik, the suburb where the metal containers were set up, marked International Roma Day violently protesting against the relocation--disavowing racism but using repugnant nationalist rhetoric about cultural unity. If all this chicanery weren’t enough, the mayor of Belgrade threw cynicism into the brew by denouncing the nationalists as “racist”--but of course, disavowing his own. Amnesty International & Serbian human rights groups have been protesting Roma evictions which have gone on for years, are slated to continue, & have a strong ethnic cleansing character. The rights groups denounce forcible evictions for violating human rights & international law & have appealed to the European Commission & European Investment Bank (EIB) to stop the action since Serbia is a candidate for entry to the European Union & EIB is bankrolling the bridge. That’s like appealing to Beelzebub to stand up against evil. The human rights groups got promises for prefabricated housing & for complying with international law; the Roma got squat--because the EIB is not a social service agency; it’s an agency of neoliberal plunder that bankrolled the Sava bridge to facilitate export industries in Serbia. There are over fifty such EIB development projects in Central Europe alone as well as in Africa (Zambia & Uganda) where officials prioritize transport, mining, infrastructure projects over human needs like health & housing & the environment & which only benefit a small elite. All 250 families (some shown here) were evicted last Thursday. Media reports note Belgrade police did not use force but that’s only if you think lining up a phalanx of bull dozers is not threatening. You can protest Serbian treatment of Roma by contacting the Mayor of Belgrade: or

(Reuters photo)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kony 2012 is another name for war propaganda

‎{Reposting this from last month since media reports US special forces sent by Obama to Uganda are now joining 5,000 African Union troops in the hunt for Joseph Kony. It is the phony-assed hunt for Osama ben Laden that led to the now 11-year war in Afghanistan, making millions homeless, refugees, disabled, murdered.}

Kony 2012 is another name for boloney 101. It’s a war-mongering scam appealing to people’s compassion & social conscience but relying on widespread ignorance of Africa, it’s people, & it’s politics. The dead giveaway is the tone of the campaign: hysterical urgency. The film maker thought he would revive a moribund film career on the backs of the people of Uganda by combining war propaganda with cinematic devices of melodrama.

Anyone who grew up in the McCarthy era is well familiar with the hysterical method since we were taught communists used mind control & put fluoride in the water to corrupt the morals of youth--at the same time as we were asked to give pennies for the “poor pagan babies of Africa”. Media uses the hysterical voice selectively so as not to wear out its value. It’s primary purpose is to whip up war fever & convince thousands of kids to enlist in the military to take out an evil, monstrous tyrant--under the guise of making the world safe for democracy. (It first struck a discordant note with me when the US was drumming up support for Israel in the 1967 war. It was so overplayed that a political naif could recognize the manipulation & sought out the truth behind the hysteria.)

Media also used the hysterical voice against women’s liberation when they baited feminists as lesbians too ugly to get a man; they used it against Black power activists, portraying them as armed & violent thugs rather than freedom fighters & they continue to use it against Black youth, portraying them as violent gang members engaged in drug dealing--using hysteria to railroad them into prison. The hysterical voice--used to sell salacious gossip in tabloid journalism & to sell war, racism, & misogyny in respectable journalism--has been given a new lease on life through the rapid-fire nature of social networking.

The Kony 2012 campaign is not about Joseph Kony & the Lord’s Resistance Army. By reliable accounts, Kony is no longer even operative in Uganda. It’s about promoting US war designs in Africa under the banner of humanitarianism. It’s about the US-NATO war in Libya, US drones bombing in Somalia, & US Marines deployed in Uganda. In short, it’s about US military intervention & occupation in Africa. And it’s about competition for Africa’s abundant natural resources being played out in the entire region of east Africa between the US, China, European, & other countries.

Why haven’t the humanitarian war-mongers--the celebrities, athletes & billionaires the film maker appeals to--ever spoken out against US wars in Iraq & Afghanistan? Why haven’t they denounced US bombing in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia? Why have we never heard Clooney, Jolie, DeGeneres, Oprah, & this schmo, Jason Russell ever speak out about the plight of millions of Iraqi & Afghani refugees? Why do their tender hearts & indignation only beat in sync with US militarism & the Pentagon? And if US & UN concerns are humanitarian, why haven’t they been able to get food to millions of starving people all over the entire region of east Africa? Because believe me, they will have no problem moving in entire armies, or erecting air strips & military bases. Kony 2012 & Invisible Children may be a commercial bonanza in hoodies & posters but it is nothing but a war-mongering scam appealing to the best in people in order to make a handful of people rich at the expense of the people of Uganda. US out of Africa. (Photo of children of Uganda by Sue O’Connor)

Please sign this petition for animal welfare

Most zoos are hell holes of shackles, cramping, & concrete but the Surabaya Zoo in Surabaya, Indonesia is surely among the most wretched. For years, animal welfare activists from around Indonesia have been protesting the appalling & squalid conditions which cause hundreds of animal deaths every year. With over 4,000 animals, it has the most diverse & impressive menagerie found in Southeast Asia, including many critically endangered species: Sumatran tigers, camels, elephants, crocodiles, an array of birds, deer, bears, orangutans, Komodo dragons, an African lion, a wallaby. The emaciated, neglected animals live in dank, cramped, unsanitary, concrete cages, suffer from skin tumors & lesions, untreated wounds, diseases like pneumonia & tuberculosis, disabilities, lack of exercise. Many are on the brink of death. In 2010, after the death toll had risen to 25 animals per month & pressure from animal rights activists became clamorous, the Ministry of Forestry placed the zoo under an interim director to clean up the operation. The interim director blamed the problems on lack of money & an undisciplined staff but the conflict arose in 1998 with a prolonged management conflict between the Indonesian government, the Forestry Ministry, & the Surabaya municipality. Conditions then were so bad that the operation license was indefinitely (or at least until the heat was off) revoked. Last month, the scandalous conditions in the zoo became news again when a 30-year old male giraffe named Kliwon died with a 40-lb. (18 kg) wad of plastic in his stomach; for years, he had been eating whatever he could get which was mostly trash & peanuts thrown at him by zoo visitors. After Kliwon’s death & still blaming the staff, the warring & responsible agencies sent a new interim team in to clean up the mess. It’s certainly true that as the economic crisis deepens, zoos around the world face budget cuts & deficits. But one of the reasons many animals are endangered in the first place is the plunderous environmental policies of oligarchs who deforest natural habitats to build plantations to grow crops for the export market. Please take a moment to sign this petition from an animal welfare activist demanding the zoo be closed & animals be provided with suitable care & housing: (Photo of Kliwon taken the morning of his death by Juni Kriswanto/AFP)

When will we finally be done with feudalism?

For sheer sycophancy, you cannot beat this US media report on the first anniversary of WWWWilly & KKKKaty Windsor’s marriage. One expects the ignominious royal watchers of England to drool like this; they’re either unfortunate souls bred to servility or the illegitimate offspring of moochocrats. But in the US, we’re taught the great French Revolution of “liberty, fraternity, equality” as our heritage. Our national folklore is full of funny looking guys with puffed out chests who stood up to George III (the feudal guys didn’t have last names then since they all had the same parents). Is that all just  malarkey? Are we going to have to learn to scrape & bow again or is there another round in the American Revolution to give feudalism the final heave-ho? Here WWWWilly & KKKKaty hide their tiaras under cowboy hats in one of those saccharine photo ops that have come to distinguish their brief tenure. (Photo by Samir Hussein)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Marquis de Strauss-Kahn

Marquis de Strauss-Kahn is wailing up a storm that Psychozy & French intelligence set him up so he couldn’t run for president. Well cry me a river! If the French Socialist Party weren’t already marinated in political bankruptcy, then running the head of the IMF for president would surely pickle it good. Here’s an amoral misogynist who administers globalization programs destroying lives & impoverishing millions but the SP considers him a suitable candidate rather than a felon! DSK probably got this foolish alibi from the libertarian think tank, Global Research, who’ve been lamenting for months that DSK was set up. And we’re supposed to care, why? It’s really more cause for jubilation that a putrid minion of the oligarchs has been brought down to size (we can’t say exposed since that's his customary state). (Photo by Sergei Supinsky/AFP)

Separated at birth

There are those who consider comparisons between Monsieurs Psychozy & Pepe Le Pew undignified. Monsieur Le Pew could not agree more. In fact, he denounces the comparison as “merde” & threatens retribution against all who make this odiferous claim. Well judge for yourself. There’s no denying M. Le Pew has charms bereft in the other. Still, while M. Le Pew thinks a woman adores him even when she physically assaults him, M. Psychozy thinks citizens respect him when they vote for him. And around both, holding ones nose is de rigueur.

Smoke breaks out at protest

Media coverage of the Palestinian movement is distinguished by malignancy & racism but mostly by deceit. The caption to this photo says this Palestinian protestor “covers her face as smoke rises behind her during clashes”. That’s like “violence breaking out” when riot cops attack protestors. This student & other protestors are being tear gassed by Israeli soldiers while protesting in support of Palestinian political prisoners engaged in a hunger strike at Ofer prison in the West Bank. Ofer prison is an Israeli military prison built after the first Intifada to house Palestinians & is notorious for imprisoning children & other human rights abuses. The combination of Che Guevara & Intifada is certainly propitious. Boycott all Israeli products (barcode 729) to add your voice to this cause. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP)

Justice denied by US deals

The US media has a policy called, “If we don’t report it, it didn’t happen”, which is why they ignore titanic political, environmental, human developments around the world & talk about rescued kitties & Kardashians. Here protestors in Sana’a, Yemen--some of whom have been occupying a city square for over a year--continue to demand the prosecution of former president & dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh & his close aides for the murder & incarceration of thousands of protestors. The media policy isn’t burying it’s head in the sand but is covering asses for the US-brokered deal giving sanctuary to Saleh & keeping his old regime intact. (Photo by Yahya Arhab/EPA)

Homeless in Manila

Homeless in Manila, Philippines: hands down, the crowning achievement of modern capitalism has got to be the 100 million homeless children across this planet, with an estimated 2 million in the Philippines. Nothing confirms pieties about children being the future more powerfully than the utter depravity of the neglect, exploitation  & violence they face. They get by as beggars, pickpockets, drug abusers, prostitutes; they deal with hunger, parasites, ill-health, & fear of arrest under vagrancy laws, often resulting in physical & sexual abuse; in some places like the Philippines, they are victims of vigilante death squads, thought to be government sanctioned, who consider them vermin to be exterminated. Here Filipino children sleep near a highway in Manila. Imagine their bereavement & terror. Then consider that the Philippines has four billionaires, including Henry Sy, the real estate magnate behind the forcible evictions in Manila making thousands homeless so he can build shopping malls.   (Photo by Francis R. Malasig/European Pressphoto Agency)

Friday, April 27, 2012

No to US military presence

GABRIELA is a Filipino women’s coalition of 250 groups that actively advocates women’s issues including human rights, militarism, poverty, globalization, health, sex trafficking, violence. The group, formed in 1984, is named in honor of Gabriela Silang, who led a revolt against Spain in the second half of the 18th century. Here they tangle with cops trying to block them from barging the gates of the US Embassy in Manila. They were protesting the presence of 4,500 US troops in recently concluded joint military exercises with Filipino troops. This was the 28th iteration of these bilateral exercises which take place all over the Philippines but the first time participants from other countries took part. You make our hearts sing, GABRIELA!  (Photo by Dennis M. Sabangan/EPA)

Afghan child

An Afghan girl with her sheep, outside the city of Herat.
(Incidentally, the Wikipedia entry about Herat is worth reading & shows what a rich culture Afghanistan has: {Photo by Aref Karimi/AFP}

Housing is a human right

Here riot police turn a water cannon on housing protestors during the demolition of their shanty homes at a location in a south suburb of Manila--most likely Quezon City where residents in the on-going evictions are usually given only a few days to relocate. The battles in Quezon go back years with appeals by residents to the Commission on Human Rights, to the Manila Development Authority (which would send demolition squads), & attempts to the get the Quezon city council to declare moratoriums on evictions until there are enough relocation sites--mind you, not public housing provided to evictees, but empty lots where they can move. Quezon City was identified as the richest city in the Philippines (in 2008) & has embarked on a massive infrastructure program including business parks, IT & call centers, malls, & other projects designed to attract investment. Poor people stand in the way & must be bull dozed out with no place to go. Housing is a human right regardless of the ability to pay.  (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP)

Money for housing, not for war!

The Philippines & Brazil are not the only countries facing urbanization into slums & shanty towns by rural people displaced in predatory land-grabs & by IMF economic policies. But they are surely among the countries where people have mounted the most fierce resistance when they are also forcibly removed from those urban slums so cities & landlords can build joint venture high-priced condos & shopping malls. Without provision for public housing to relocate, residents have fought legal battles against evictions along with street protests against demolition bull dozers & police brutality, including the use of water cannons & other assaultive weapons. On Monday, at the Silverio Compound in Parañaque City (part of metropolitan Manila), one resident was killed & 36 were injured by riot police. Here residents confront cops protecting the demolition squad sent to evict them. More evictions are slated soon in Quezon City (another part of Manila). Most of these housing battles are not won by the residents--either in the courts or on the street & extreme violence is used against them. What they make clear beyond a shadow of a doubt is that massive homelessness is caused by economic predation, that housing is a primary human need denied millions of human beings in every country, & that it must become a primary demand in all political agitation. Money for housing, not for war! (Photo by ABS-CBNnews)

Testimony to the power of one

During the 1967 Israeli War with Egypt, Jordan, & Syria, the media used hysterical rhetoric to drum up support for Israel & while I did not understand the issues in the war, I damn well understood the media manipulation. Walking across the University of Minnesota campus, I saw a lone protestor with a placard supporting the Arab combatants & I approached him to ask why he was protesting. He must have been very frightened in the political atmosphere of that time & brusquely answered me, “They stole our land.” I asked him what he meant but he only repeated, “They stole our land.” It only confirmed to me there was more to the story of the war than the media hysteria & I went in search of that story--becoming soon enough involved in Palestinian support work. The antiwar movement where I now live is inactive & with that lone Palestinian protestor in mind, I often go out alone with placard in hand to protest the wars. Here Karen Steele (of Westminster, MD) protests in inclement weather outside the Fort Meade military base in support of Bradley Manning, the soldier & whistleblower who exposed US war crimes in Iraq & Afghanistan. A judge is expected to rule soon on a defense motion to dismiss all 22 charges against him. For those who eschew public protest by claiming there is no antiwar movement, I post Ms. Steele’s testimony to the contrary & to the power of one when there is no option. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla)

Disgusting ad in the New York Times portraying boycott of Israel as a starting point to a holocaust!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Israeli police to activist reciting names of destroyed Palestinian villages: If you keep reading you will be arrested

An Israeli activist being arrested at an event to commemorate the Nakba on
Israeli Independence Day. His weapon? A history book. (Photo: Activestills)
(For video and more pictures of this event see this post)
The first text message I received around 22:30 read "The cops have surrounded the building, It's quite likely that everybody will be arrested once we try to get out of the door. Alert everybody." The message was sent by a friend of mine, who along with 14 other activists came to the offices of Zochrot (remembering), an Israeli NGO that focuses on commemorating and raising awareness to the Palestinian Nakba, on the eve of the Israeli independence day. They were planning to go out to the street and remind the celebrators the horrible price that was paid and is still being paid by Palestinians for this so called independence.
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Is that you, Bill?

We haven’t seen Bill Clinton out & about for awhile & now we know why: like all war criminals, he’s morphing into something unsightly & apparently at an accelerated pace. Although to be honest, we don’t know for sure which Clinton this is. Here he (or maybe she) is spotted furtively entering a McDonald’s for a double whopper, hoping Chelsea doesn’t see him go off his vegan diet. It’s that ugly snout that gives him away.

Don't mess with India's dairy farmers

Dairy farmers from across northern India protested in New Delhi yesterday against unfair pricing & profiteering by private dairy companies. The companies--who procure raw milk from farmers, process, package, & deliver it to vendors--are now attempting to reduce prices paid to farmers without also reducing consumer prices. This shakedown is a bonanza for the companies but economically devastating to the dairy farmers. Farmers assembled outside the parliament in New Delhi to demand redress from the central government who they say has turned a deaf ear to the profiteering. They are also protesting the government’s deployment of riot cops against the protest by attempting to prevent farmers from attending the rally & the arrest of 6,000 protestors. Here the protestors douse their leaders with milk & we don’t second-guess their judgement but hope they saved some buckets for the politicians & cops. (Photo by Manish Swarup/AP)

Trumped in effigy

Now here’s a story just chock full of belly laughs because it involves one of the biggest buffoons on the planet: Mr. Donald Trump. Followed by his entourage of sycophants, our man stormed into the Scottish Parliament yesterday to testify to the committee on renewable energy against a wind farm of 11 turbines to be built offshore near a £750m golf resort Trump is having built in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Now we all know full well why he wouldn’t want wind anywhere near that coif of his but the main objections he voiced were aesthetic & xenophobic: wind turbines he pouted, are “horrendous”, “monsters”, & made in China. He responded to questions in the bullying & omniscient style for which he is regrettably known since he certainly isn’t known for his intelligence, wit, or insight. (We understand he watches Charlton Heston reruns to channel Moses but only comes off like a schoolyard bully.) It's difficult to make politicians look intelligent but in contrast to our man the Scottish ministers disported themselves splendidly & must have had a barrel of laughs doing it. When asked what evidence he had to prove his assertion that wind farms destroyed tourism, he responded, “I am the evidence”, & when told that most Scots polled favored wind farms, he answered no one knows more about polls than him, that he knows more about the effects of turbines than any expert, & that he's also an expert on tourism with “many, many awards” to his name (probably from tourist boards & chambers of commerce hoping to snare his bucks). Trump claims he had a sweetheart deal with a Scottish politician who he’s now had a falling out with--testifying at once to the corruption & good sense of that politician. He ended his vituperations threatening to pull out of the deal & move his operation to Ireland if the Scottish Parliament doesn’t get cowed by his wrath. (Ireland, you better hope our man gets his way or you’ll have to contend with all this too.) Two groups of protestors greeted Trump outside the Parliament: the first was assembled entrepreneurs hoping for concessions at the golf resort. The other were environmentalists holding up this effigy & a sign saying, “Scotland wants wind-power, NOT an old wind bag.” (Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell)

Take a moment to sign this petition demanding justice for the people of Bhopal

This young mother is a victim of the 1984 Union Carbide explosion of toxic gases in Bhopal, India caused by equipment & safety maintenance neglect. Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) has refused to contain chemical efflux from that explosion for now 26 years which has poisoned the underground water reservoirs. Over 30,000 people still live nearby due to extreme poverty & are forced to drink the contaminated water. This 3 year-old child was born healthy to a gas-affected mother but developed physical & neurological problems in early childhood connected to the contaminated water & probably to her mother’s toxicity. Dow Chemical which now owns Union Carbide has not offered even a small compensation to the second generation of victims of this continuing tragedy. Bhopal victims have been campaigning to get the craven International Olympic Committee & the English government sponsoring the 2012 Olympic games to reject Dow Chemical as a sponsor of the Dowlympics but they have steadfastly refused, choosing to side with venality & criminality. You can participate in this campaign by signing this petition urging the London Olympics to dump Dow as a sponsor:

 (Photo by Alex Masi)  {This repost from last month is to urge people to sign the petition}

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A "middle class" bedroom

Overheard an analysis of class society today which puts an unusual spin on things: “The rich use their money to make more money, the middle class work to save money, & the poor use their money to buy entertainment.” The speaker is apparently so busy stashing money he didn’t notice when his brains fell out & he began talking like Newt Gingrich. (Photo is presumably a middle class bedroom)

Beauty & bucks

So the 2012 list of the world’s most beautiful women is out & once again I’m not on it. Despite my considerable (if not also quirky) vanities, I have to say I’m enormously relieved I can continue to go to market without mascara. They haven’t yet disclosed all the names listed but be assured they’re all filthy rich, get regular facials & manicures, & don’t have to worry when the utility bill goes up. You’ll notice there won't be any war criminals like Clinton on the list since as one gets more implicated in such crimes, ugly goes all the way to the bone. Don't think me a sore loser for don't you agree human beauty is much richer & deeper than People magazine can even conceive? And anyway, who the hell made them the arbiters!?

Where rebels are born & bred

An infant sleeps in a hammock in the makeshift tent of her family displaced by the 2010 Pakistan floods. In the midst of all the squalor of a tent city lacking the basic amenities of sanitation for toilet, shower, & laundry, human life & love go on. According to the Pakistani government, 20 million people were directly affected by the flooding through loss of property, livelihood, crops, & livestock. Such catastrophes bring out the international sharks & grifters who through various agencies & NGOS go after the millions pledged in aid (though much that is pledged is undelivered). Where is the accounting for that money & why is housing not a first priority? Life may go on in such squalor but so also is rebellion generated.  (Photo by Muhammed Muheisen)

Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist and Nobel prize winner: ‘Israeli government policies are a form of national suicide’

New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman believes that the policies of the current “narrow minded” Israeli government “are basically a gradual long-run form of national suicide.”

Writing in his New York Times blog “Conscience of a Liberal” about Peter Beinart’s controversial book “The Crisis of Zionism”, Krugman writes, “Like many liberal American Jews I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going. It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide – and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world.”
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Two years homeless & counting

A young mother plays with her child at the makeshift tent city built near Islamabad by those displaced in the 2010 Pakistan floods. Given the international scandal of massive homelessness & the lack of affordable housing in almost every country, what are the odds this baby will come of age in this hell hole? Human needs should be a given, not a luxury.  (Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

A boy's life

These young boys in Pakistan earn a living by collecting recyclables from waste dumps & selling them to a recycling factory. Here they shower in water from a broken water pipe after their work is done. Despite the charm of their evident camaraderie, it cannot be an easy life since these boys are likely homeless & orphaned. Children are the ubiquitous victims of war & economic predation & the most damning testimony against it. (Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today as yesterday; a nation built on theft

Left: 1948: A photograph from the Palestinian village of Saris , 15km West of Jerusalem, shortly after it was cleansed of its inhabitants. Here, members of the Haganah sit and pose for a photo on furniture taken from an Arab home before the houses were razed to the ground. Hundreds were uprooted from the village. The Arabic name Saris was changed to Shoresh, which is the Hebrew word for "root", ironically...

2012: Israeli MKs relax on sofa of evicted Palestinian family in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem.

Knesset members celebrate latest E. Jerusalem settlement by posing on evicted Palestinian family’s sofa

Knesset members Michael Ben-Ari (left) and Aryeh Eldad on the evicted Natcheh family's sofa in Beit Hanina. (Photo: Michael Ben-Ari)

Following last week's eviction of the Palestinian Natcheh family from their Beit Hanina home, Israeli Knesset members Michael Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad visited the house now inhabited by some eight settlers. To mark the occasion they posted a picture of themselves lounging on the Natcheh's sofa on Facebook.

Meanwhile, the evicted family:
בני המשפחה בעת הפינוי, היום

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Watch what you eat or it may eat your brain

The US Department of Agriculture has just confirmed a case of mad cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) in a dairy cow in California--the fourth cow they admit to in the past 20 years. Britain was hit hard by mad cow disease in the 1980s & their investigations concluded it was caused by industrial cattle-farming methods where herbivorous, grass eating cattle are fed internal organs & entrails from butchered animals (offal), including from cadavers of sick & injured animals. This recently came up in India where industrial farming of poultry necessitated killing off thousands of contaminated chickens. But of course, industrial farming of chickens around the world employs this method: exhausted layer hens contaminated with antibiotics, ill-treated, sickly, emitting stress hormones, & pooping all over each other, are carted off in trucks & ground up (feathers & all) to be added to feed for the new layer hens. That’s where salmonella comes from & why eggs are dangerous to feed children unless they’re hard-boiled. The USDA needs to come clean on this issue not only in regard to chickens but to cattle. If four cows have been found with mad cow disease, it means they are being fed offal & no one could be so stupid as to believe only four cows were fed the stuff. It just means only four have been sick enough to cause alarm. When you add mad cow disease to pink slime to salmonella in the food supply & realize that all this affects human health (especially that of children) you can see that meeting the primary needs of human life have become central political demands.

The modern David vs. Goliath

A Palestinian boy, in a modern version of David & Goliath, defying an Israeli army bulldozer with rocks during a protest in the West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum where weekly protests are held against Israeli occupation & are always met with tear gas & Israeli violence. In a protest here last month marking the anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie (an American protester run over by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003) Israeli soldiers unleashed a dog to attack a Palestinian protestor & when they finally pried the dog off the young man, they arrested him. They also fired a rubber bullet at an Israeli woman protesting with Palestinians which hit her in the head & required hospital. Stand with Palestinians by boycotting all Israeli products (which can be identified by the barcode beginning 729). (Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/AP)

Strength in unity as Afghan women see it

“Strength in Unity” as Afghan women see it: armed to the teeth with AK-47s & the US-NATO on the run. (Photo by Pahktun)

"Strength in Unity" as US-NATO see it

“Strength in Unity” among Afghan women as the US-NATO & Afghan oligarchs see it: bored, apparently compliant, wondering when the hell this conference will end.
(Photo by Musadeq Sadeq/AP)

Another day, another dozen lies about Afghanistan

US-NATO propagandist-liars portray the Afghanistan war as a military crusade led by Clinton to emancipate women through bombing. This photo, worth a thousand lies, belies that despicable deceit by exposing not the barbarous but the grinding humiliations of racist occupation. The entirely male leadership of US-NATO forces (ISAF) corralled Afghan women (undoubtedly many relatives of colluding Afghan officials) to a “Strength in Unity” conference in Kabul yesterday. There are no media reports on the content of this gathering because that would open it up to ridicule. Female US soldiers guarding the perimeters of the conference with rifles feign respect for the hijab by mocking it & manage to degrade democracy at the same time. Did the Afghan women being lectured by men about women’s rights & the problems with their culture get a rifle in their face if they got up to pee or raised a hand to ask a question or tell the conference to stuff it, or get up to leave? Or did they just snooze through the whole damn thing? If the US soldiers could have understood a word of the lecture, they would wonder why Afghan culture is being raked for the very problems they face in the US military. We don’t have to just cringe in solidarity with the Afghan women; we can join with others in demanding the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO troops from Afghanistan. (Photo by Musadeq Sadeq/AP)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Revolution is for rebels & sometimes they're old

There’s a tiresome adage that says ‘revolution is for the young’. The hell with that stuff! In protests around the world, we’ve seen thousands of seniors take on tyranny & attacks on working people with ferocity & determination. The backbone of the antiwar movement here is veteran activists, some of whom have been doing this for nearly 50 years. This man in Tahrir Square is no spring chicken but that only means he’s had more decades to witness & develop a loathing for tyranny. His chants & the chains on this third day of protest in Tahrir Square signify that “Egypt is still in US & military chains”. And he doesn't appear to be flagging in that commitment. (Photo by Fredrik Persson/AP)

Egypt cancels Israeli gas contract

Termination of 20-year deal, which provided 40% of Israel's natural gas, seen as sign of fraying relations between allies
Egyptians call for stop to gas exports to Israel in protest outside Israeli embassy in Cairo
Egyptians call on the government to stop exporting gas to Israel in a protest outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo last year. Photograph: Mohamed Abd el-Ghany/Reuters

Egypt has cancelled a 20-year contract to supply Israel with natural gas in a move interpreted as a sign of increasingly fragile relations between the allies.

Both Egyptian and Israeli officials said the reason for the termination of the deal, which was signed in 2005 and provided 40% of Israel's natural gas, was a dispute over payments between private companies. But the governments were trying to prevent it escalating into a political crisis.

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What's going on around here?

This photo deserves a caption contest. The photographer says it’s a man dressed as a Roman gladiator during celebrations for the birth of Rome. But they weren’t around in the days of Romulus & Remus. And since when did gladiators wear steel-toed leather boots or look for glory in a port-o-potty! Something else is going on here. You can tell the guys looking on think something’s fishy too. (Photo by Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Their mamas taught them well

While their mothers use cement blocks, these young men burn tires for barriers against riot police in Budaiya, west of Manama, Bahrain yesterday. Their mamas have taught them well. Some would say the mothers are corrupting the morals of their youth. Wise observers know they are teaching their children & the world what is required in the fierce & fearless fight for democracy & to end tyranny. (Photo by Hamad I. Mohammed)

Monsieur Psychozy at the polls

Monsieur Psychozy leaving the polling booth after voting for himself in the French presidential elections. He has that same repugnant grimace as Mitt Rummey which serves them both in place of a smile & evokes a homicidal impulse in the kindest of souls. Le Monde reports there are pious nuns in one French monastery who have to be medicated to resist the impulse to pummel him to death. Mon dieu, but let 'em at him! (Photo by Eric Feferberg/AP)

Buttering up the judges

A Cornish Rex cat sucking up to one of the judges during an international feline beauty contest in Bucharest, Romania. You can say she hisses & spits on normative standards but this cat doesn’t stand a chance without buttering up some of these referees.  (Photo by Vadim Ghirda/AP)

’60 Minutes’ profiles Palestinian Christians, Michael Oren (Israeli ambassador) falls on his face

But perhaps the most revealing part of the show was Bob Simon sharing that Oren had complained to CBS News head Jeff Fager before the segment had even been aired, calling it "a hatchet job."
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Homelessness & poverty are now felonies

Now here’s a story that will take your breath away. And when you’ve recovered your breath, your blood will boil. A homeless mother in Norwalk, Connecticut was convicted & sentenced to jail for 5 years for felony larceny. Norwalk police said she stole $15,686 worth of educational services from the city by the unspeakable crime of registering her 6 year old son in a Norwalk school district rather than in Bridgeport, Connecticut because she wanted to send him to a better school. When you read stories like this & remember millionaires steal millions of dollars from public coffers by tax breaks & evasions, you get a better sense of what motivates Al-Qaeda. Here we see this hardened felon suited up for court but we will know that justice is not served until the Norwalk cops & judge are behind bars for this mockery of justice. Let's be frank: for this racist mockery of justice.

The two Coachellas 2012

This weekend, 225 thousand music fans converged in Indio, CA (near Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley) for the annual Coachella Music Festival, considered one of the world’s premiere music festivals. The western part of Coachella Valley--now one of the fastest growing areas in the country--has been a resort haven for millionaire movie stars & retired presidents since the 1920s & a haven for retired northerners (“snowbirds”) during the winter months.  Only 25 miles away, Eastern Coachella Valley is an agricultural area drawing 15,000 migrant farm workers during the growing season. Because no housing is provided for migrant workers, homelessness is a major problem with most forced to live out of their cars, on the streets, or in makeshift housing. Hundreds of illegal, unregulated trailer parks built on the cheap provide squalid housing for permanent residents & some migrants. Built on county lands (called unincorporated communities), these trailer parks lack sewage systems, clean drinking water, storm drains, trash pickup, & even power. As a result, residents are plagued by contaminated water & raw sewage backing up in the shower, overflowing in the streets every time it rains, sitting in stagnant pools in their yards. Children play in this raw sewage with rat, mosquito, & cockroach infestations. Residents attempt to treat these problems which the state ignores by flushing sewage into septic tanks & cesspools (which overflow regularly), by pouring bleach into sewage pools, by digging private sewage pits, but suffer from many public health problems including gastrointestinal illness, respiratory disease, skin infections, & other health problems in an area not served by public health facilities. This racist neglect by the state also means dozens of crops sold around the country are grown in surrounding fields fertilized by untreated sewage. Certainly the most disgusting of all the environmental outrages in the area is what has been termed “Mt. San Diego”, a 50-foot high pile of human poop dumped by San Diego on nearby Indian tribal land from 1989 until 1994, when a federal court ordered an end to the racist practice. Particulates from the massive heap of feces are dispersed by desert winds to the dozens of communities just a few miles away & emit a noxious stench impossible to shut out. Although the labor of migrant workers generates the enormous agricultural wealth of California, their conditions of life have been in this bereft & squalid state for generations, existing right next door to lavish wealth. In Coachella Valley, one has to drive through upscale golf courses where celebrity tournaments are played to get to these impoverished hell holes where mostly Latino Californians & migrant workers live. If the stench was near enough to affect the golf games, that pile of human manure would be removed forthwith by the state. In the bottom photo (by Max Whittaker), a 7-year old child plays in raw sewage flowing from the trailer park where he lives to the adjoining agricultural fields; the top photo is of the Coachella Music Festival 2012 (by Arkasha Stevenson/LA Times). Two venues only miles, yet worlds apart.

Iran says recovered data from US spy drone

Iran claimed on Sunday that it had recovered data from an American spy drone that went down in the country last year, including information that the aircraft was used to spy on Osama bin Laden weeks before he was killed. Iran also said it was building a copy of the drone.

Similar unmanned surveillance planes have been used in Afghanistan for years and kept watch on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. But US officials have said little about the history of the particular aircraft now in Iran's possession.

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Palestinian women take back spring as settlers, soldiers look on

For the first time in years, a group of Palestinian women was able to reach the Nabi Saleh spring, which was taken over long ago by settlers. The women vowed to return, hoping to hold on to the spring.

Women at the spring in Nabi Saleh (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Every Friday for the past three years or so, Nabi Saleh residents, along with Israeli and international supporters, have been demonstrating against the theft of their lands by settlers from the nearby settlement of Halamish. At the focus of the struggle is the attempt to reach the Al-Kous spring, which was taken over by settlers in recent years. Week after week, demonstrators march toward the spring, but are stopped by soldiers who disperse them with tear gas (sometimes aimed directly at protestors and once resulting on the death of a Nabi Saleh resident) with “skunk” water, severe beatings, arrests and more.

Marching to the spring (Anne Paq / Activestills)

On Sunday, for the first time in years, a group of roughly 30 Palestinian women was able to make it to the spring. The group was made up of local women, who were joined by activists from other villages, and supporters from Ramallah and Jerusalem. Soldiers and settlers who arrived at the scene did not stop the women from picnicking around the spring. After a few hours, the group left, vowing to return.

A quiet soldier (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

“The point of this direct action was to reclaim what the settlers have stolen from us,” says Irene Nasser, one of the activists. “Many of us were very excited about being able to reach this beautiful place, after dozens of demonstrations during which we were barred from going there. The uniqueness of the action was also in that it was about women taking the popular struggle into their own hands and leading it together.” Women at the Al-Kous spring (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Nasser believes that the soldiers did not react this time both due to the fact that they were facing a women-only group, and as a result of the Shalom Eisner story – in which an officer was caught on video beating a Danish peace activist – and the trauma it caused in the army’s ranks. In the coming weeks, the women plan to organize more direct actions, both in Nabi Saleh and elsewhere, in order to both challenge the army and empower the women taking part in the struggle.

Women at Al-Kous spring (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A gated community for the poor

Wasn’t it just around 3 years ago when the US government doled out $700 billion of tax payers money to bail out the banks? Numerous exposés have since made quite clear that Obama & the gang rolled over for the banks by ignoring that financial fraud had been committed, that heads should roll & not be rewarded with bail outs, that time should be served at the penitentiary. To date, no bankers have paid consequences for their perjury & grand larceny. So imagine the shock of hearing that some of the very credit card banks that received bail out bucks (like Capital One & Discover) are now using the criminal justice system as a collection agency by getting people locked up & jailed for unpaid debts!? Although the US abolished debtors prisons in 1833, nearly a third of 50 states allow the sheriff to haul you in for arrears on credit card, auto, & other loans. According to an article in the Minneapolis paper, no statistics are kept from state to state on who is locked up or for how much debt but according to several sources, the number of arrest warrants for debtors is rising. Anyone with a credit card balance knows there’s no control over the interest rate because credit card companies operate like loan sharks with debt collectors as the new leg breakers. It’s such an alarming situation that even the moribund ACLU has been roused from torpor to issue alerts. (Whether they will defend debtors is another story.) We should not wait until the situation necessitates another Charles Dickens to catalog the crimes committed against the poor & indebted. Debtors prisons are not like Club Fed, the gated communities where the rich get manicured, waited on by valets, & golf while serving time; we’re talking Leavenworth, which is a gated community of a very different kind.

Bread & circus media-syle

The media preoccupation with what is termed the “Colombian prostitution scandal” typifies everything that’s wrong with the media. Essential news about what is happening to millions of decent people around the world is replaced with this salacious diversion of the “bread & circus” kind. Dozens of reporters are following this “unfolding investigation” not because there’s a story there but to do damage control for the US Secret Service & the Pentagon. Getting to the bottom of the story today has entailed chasing down cab drivers, interviewing in brothels, & posting photos of one of the bikini-clad prostitutes involved. Prostitution is a vile institution which the US military has not only promoted through it’s occupations but has been legally charged with administering (the Subic Bay air base being a case in point). The military is one of the first places young men get introduced to the odious practice of women for sale. This bull & baloney story is phony journalism. It will do nothing to end US officials & military from patronizing prostitution & it’s unlikely to end the careers or effect the pensions of the creeps caught with their underwear down in Cartagena. It may enhance the incomes of a few divorce attorneys but primarily it will function to distract from demanding the US end its occupations which are all fully implicated in fostering prostitution.

Betty Windsor toilet paper

Everyone will honor Betty Windsor’s diamond jubilee in their own way. Many don’t take that well to curtsying & will consider this the most appropriate. And they will not be wrong. All proceeds from sales go to the International Alliance for Picking up this Feudal Nonsense by its Ears & Dumping it in the Toilet. (acronym CRAP)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New video shows shamed IDF goon struck several activists without clear provocation.

Haaretz - 20 April 2012

According to a statement, which was attached to the Palestinian television clip, by B’Tselem, Eisner is seen striking five different pro-Palestinian protesters in last Saturday’s incident.

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In addition, and in an apparent contrast to Eisner’s own contention, there seem to be no signs of violence from the protesters toward IDF troops in general, or Eisner in particular.

On Wednesday, Gantz chose to dismiss Eisner, who was filmed over the weekend hitting a Danish protester with his rifle butt in the Jordan Valley after the recommendations of GOC Central Command Nitzan Alon and Sami Turgeman, commander of the IDF’s ground forces, on the grounds that the attack was a “moral failure.”

Gantz said that an investigation into the incident revealed operational failures in the preparation of IDF soldiers for the protest bike ride in which the activist took part as well as in the soldiers’ handling of the confrontation that erupted.

Eisner, who was due to receive the rank of colonel, will be transferred to a senior staff position and will be barred from carrying out any command position in the IDF in the next two years. As of 2014, Einser will be able to return to a command position, should he fulfill the necessary requirements.