Thursday, May 31, 2012

For shame!

It would be good to hear Dolores Huerta explain why she accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama only a month after his administration bent to agribusiness demands & withdrew a proposal to the Department of Labor to implement safety laws for 800,000 child farm workers not currently protected by child labor laws.They are exposed to pesticides (often sprayed directly by planes as they work), snake & insect bites, razor-sharp tools & lack of safety equipment, dangerous farm machinery (without safety devices like seat belts or roll-over bars), extreme heat, chemicals & explosives, work at extreme heights in silos & grain storage facilities, work in manure pits (with E. coli contamination). Exploitation of child labor is rampant: age restrictions are ignored; children often work 10 or more hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week, & at the peak of harvest, daylight to dusk; they are paid less than the minimum wage; they are not provided with drinking water & toilets. As a result accidents are frequent, maiming common, deaths gruesome. Farm worker children have high incidences of pesticide-related respiratory & digestive diseases, headaches, burning eyes, as well as brain damage, & death. Long-term pesticide exposure is associated with cancer, neurologic problems, & reproductive problems. Dolores Huerta has a proud history of organizing farm workers & co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. She also has a long, regrettable association with the Democratic Party. That she would accept this award from Obama just after he denied protection to children farm workers is shameful & there is no nice way to put that.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)

Housing, not zoos!

Homeless in Tokyo, Japan: an elderly man sleeping on a park bench near his belongings. The Japanese government once used police to clear the homeless from the streets in a beautification campaign but refuses to provide social security benefits to those without a fixed address in a city where the rents are sky-high. As the economic crisis deepened, unemployment & the homeless population grew, especially among the elderly. Osaka has the highest population of homeless in Japan. Many were outraged when in 2009, Osaka spent millions to purchase six koalas from Australia but hasn’t spent a dime on housing for the poor & elderly. Housing is a human right & if the government considers zoos more important than human welfare, they have to be tossed. (Photo by Shizuo Kambayashi/AP)

Bring vodka, forget passport!

At first glance, you’d think this was a US senator on a bender. Doesn’t it look like Joe Lieberman or Paul Ryan letting loose after a day of attacks on working people? But no, it’s former Russian border guards cavorting in Moscow’s Gorky Park to celebrate Border Guards Day. Sound advice to anyone wanting to cross Russia’s border: bring vodka, bribe guard, cross without problem. (Photo by Mikhail Metzel/AP)

Aint we got fun!

Doesn’t this look like a barrel of fun!? It’s one of Betty’s garden parties at Buckingham. They don’t serve canapes or booze; you just stand around in silly hats watching Betty chat. People usually have more fun at funerals. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/AFP)

All hail to the cleaning staff!

I once had an arrogant foreman who would tell us any monkey could do our jobs. The fool didn’t last long. Management needed someone with more skill at not riling up people with dangerous tools in their hands. Millions of people earn their living by collecting garbage & cleaning & these are considered the least worthy, most monkey jobs of all. But every time they go on strike, with every pound of garbage, they gain immense respect. Here an airline passenger winds her way through rubbish during a strike by the cleaning staff against budget cuts at Barcelona’s airport. They could try to hire monkeys to clean up this mess but they’d have to hire someone else to clean up monkey doo. (Photo by Manu Fernandez/AP)

Burn baby burn!

Coal miners in Campomanes, northern Spain, striking against government spending cuts in the mining sector are barricading the highways with felled trees & burning tires. The government has arrayed the Spanish Civil Guard (federal military cops) in full riot gear against the strikers. The media doesn’t bother to identify what those cuts are but we can be sure wages, pensions, & safety protections on the job are among them. Our fullest solidarity with the miners! (Photo by Eloy Alonso/Reuters)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Egypt's women have had enough of being told to cover up

Woman in front of election poster
'The political battles over who reigns over Egypt are not only being fought over presidential and parliamentary seats, but also over who can claim more control over a woman’s body.' Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP

Mariz Tadros-The Guardian

While all eyes are focused on the presidential race, on the streets of Egypt, inch by inch, bit by bit, women's rights are shrinking. Women, Muslim and Christian, who do not cover their hair or who wear mid-sleeved clothing are met with insults, spitting and in some cases physical abuse. In the urban squatter settlement of Mouasset el Zakat, in Al Marg, Greater Cairo, women told me that they hated walking in the streets now. Thanks to the lax security situation, they have restricted their mobility to all but the most essential of errands. Whereas a couple of years ago they could just inform their husbands where they were going (visiting parents, friends or going to the hairdresser for example), now they have to get their husbands or older sons to accompany them if they go out after sunset.

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Medal of Shame

It’s no surprise Obomba would award war criminal, Madeleine Albright the Medal of Freedom yesterday. To most of us, Albright will always best be known for claiming the lives of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth US policy objectives in Iraq; to Obomba, she is a “champion of democracy, human rights, & good governance across the globe”. Good grief! The ruling elite have all sorts of honorifics they dish out to disreputable people who serve them without scruple. After all, Obomba who is orchestrating six wars & Henry Kissinger both won the Nobel Peace Prize. The surprise is that anyone would think these awards worth a damn thing. Dylan didn’t win it for his music but for performing in Israel & ignoring the cultural boycott of Israel for apartheid against Palestinians. Toni Morrison didn’t win it for her literature but for her regrettable habit of sucking up to whichever president is in power. Shimon Peres of Israel, won it for promoting a bantustate solution for Palestinians & given how disastrous that has proven for them, he ought to be incarcerated, not lauded. One could only wish Albright recognized the hypocrisy of this award & is here hanging her head in shame. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/NYTimes)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

US out of Afghanistan

The little girl is teasing her older sister while she tests her new artificial limbs at the International Red Cross (ICRC) physical rehab center in Kabul, Afghanistan. Since the ICRC opened its rehab program in 1988, 25,000 amputees have been treated at its five centers in Afghanistan. Seventy-seven percent of the amputees were land mine victims & 70% were civilians. Afghanistan has 10 million land mines including in rural & urban areas. Some are from the war with the former USSR but the US & NATO forces continue to be profligate in their use. Land mines kill nearly 20,000 people every year, some decades after the ends of the wars when they were used. They are a barbaric weapon of war against civilians & of course the US refuses to repudiate their use. Demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO troops from Afghanistan & payment of compensation to the people of Afghanistan for this barbaric war against them. (Photo by Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

Where is Daumier when we need him?

Where is Daumier when we need him? The guy loved to caricature the French Senat. He’d have a hay day with today’s politicians. These guys are foreign diplomats attending the inauguration of Iran’s newly-elected parliament in Tehran. Isn’t it comforting to know they’re running the world!? But now we can see why it’s such a mess. This line-up makes it easy to throw horse manure at them & please feel free to do so. (Photo by Vahid Salemi/AP)

Arrested for trying to find work

This photo shows the despondency of immigrants arrested in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for attempting to migrate without papers to Australia. Hundreds of Sri Lankans try each year to travel by fishing trawlers to Australia, New Zealand, & Italy to find work. Corporations maraud this planet to plunder natural resources & in search of cheap labor. People should have the right to go anywhere they want on this planet to live & work. Immigration is a human right. (Photo by Eranga Jayawardena/AP)

Catastrophe in Greece: blame it on the immigrants

Mass migration & diaspora is a central part of Greek social history going back over 3,000 years & has contributed immensely to human culture from the Mediterranean world to the Americas. The word xenophobia has a Greek etymology for a good reason. That history makes it ironic that Greece (because of geography & porous borders) has now become a main entry point to Europe for thousands of undocumented immigrants from Asia, Africa, & the Middle East. Every year, over 130,000 refugees from economic collapse, poverty, & war enter mainly through Turkey to find work. Because of border patrols, many are unable to move further into Europe & end up unemployed & homeless in Greece. Greek media uses the convenient shibboleth of xenophobia to blame the problems caused by the IMF/EU austerity program on immigrants. Crime, drug addiction, the spread of disease are all their fault. The government has launched a major crackdown on immigrants with hundreds of police deployed in sweeps of immigrant neighborhoods, harassing & hauling in hundreds for lacking residency papers, drug use, prostitution. Police have announced plans to convert 30 old army bases into detention centers using shipping containers for housing & in Athens just opened the first in this concentration camp program. The government also plans on detaining immigrants they deem a public health risk which is vaguely defined but would require compulsory health exams, treatment, & incarceration. The purpose is not to provide health care but to harass. Immigration became a central issue in the recent national elections with two of the major parties (PASOK & New Democracy) promising to crack down on immigration & the neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn promoting deportation of all immigrants. This once obscure group of thugs has deep connections to the police & has engaged in frequent physical attacks on immigrants. They won 7% of the vote & 21 seats in the new parliament. New elections are slated for June 17th & Golden Dawn hopes to pick up more votes since in the first election 35% of voters did not cast a vote. Some progressive commentators have suggested that austerity is the main issue & immigration too polarizing to campaign around. Such commentators don’t  have sufficient respect for the divide & conquer strategy used around the world to drive a wedge between working people & immigrants. They would be wise to review the rise of fascism in Germany. Here homeless Afghan immigrants sleep in empty rail cars under a rail bridge in central Athens.  (Photo by Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

Gay pride in Moscow

Moscow cops arrest a gay rights activist for attempting to hold a gay pride march. Activists repeatedly petitioned the government for a march permit & were repeatedly refused. Since 2006, five regions in Russia have enacted laws against “propaganda of homosexualism, bisexualism, transgenderism, & pedophilia”. They don’t legally define propaganda or distinguish it from educational material nor do they explain why the crime of pedophilia is linked with non-criminal sexuality. But the ban just went into effect in Saint Petersburg, a similar law is being drafted for Moscow & is being considered on the federal level. (Photo by Mikhail Metzel/AP)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The pangolin: a fellow mammal

Customs officials in Bangkok, Thailand with one of 138 pangolins they rescued from illegal trafficking. Pangolins are anteaters & endangered mammals. (Does that mean they’re related to us?) According to wildlife groups, China is the main market for pangolins & other exotic species which are brutally hammered to death for their meat or used in traditional medicine. (They are thought to help mothers breastfeed.) As a result of demand, pangolins in China, Vietnam, Laos, & Cambodia have been wiped out & their population is declining in its last habitats in Java, Sumatra, & the Malaysian peninsula. It is a similar story for many species of turtle, tortoise, frog & snake.  (Photo by Apichart Weerawong/AP)

The cement heart of Cruella de Vil Legarde

Cruella de Vil Legarde of the IMF, says she has no sympathy at all for the hardships caused Greeks by the IMF austerity program since they’re tax dodgers--and she’s not referring to the 15 Greek billionaires & umpteen millionaires who a few years ago started salting their money in banks in Switzerland, the UK, & Cyprus to avoid taxes. To show she’s not heartless, she says she has more sympathy for the people of sub-Saharan Africa--specifically the country of Niger--than for the Greeks. She’s not troubled by the awkward & loathsome nature of such a comparison, but others are. In Niger the IMF program  promoted the oil & mining industries for investor/plunderers, caused food & fuel prices to rise, & created mass famine. That’s where Greece & the rest of us are headed under IMF mandates. In a just world, the IMF will be dismantled & Legarde & other officials prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Arab Spring and the coming crisis of faith

One Gallup poll has declared Egypt the most religious country in the world. But there are good reasons why Egypt may be joining the US, Canada, and Europe in the rapid rise of its non-believers.

Egyptian atheists joke at how the media collectively referred to them as Christian when they helped form human chains to protect Muslims praying in Tahrir Square. They call themselves the “non-percent” in reference to official state records that deny they even exist. Blasphemy laws and social stigmatization have discouraged many of Egypt’s non-believers from ‘coming out’; and have led one Gallup poll to declare Egypt the most religious country in the world .

This may be changing, however, with many activists in the region openly proclaiming their lack of faith. Ironically, the biggest threat to religion may result from the tempestuous rise of political Islam in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The Turkish President predicted as much during a recent visit to Tunisia , when he warned, “If a political party that comes out in the name of Islam fails, it will defame and humiliate the religion itself”.

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Creeping sharia stopped in Kansas!

Surely there’s nothing more alarming on driving through the prairie state of Kansas, USA, than the ubiquitous evidence of creeping sharia law. On the very first exit off the main highway, one immediately passes a falafel shop--in Wichita, no less--& sitting there defiantly next to McDonald’s & Walmart.  Further down the road, a deli with a swarthy looking clerk is serving hummus. How sharia do you get!?  And the health food shop just around the corner is selling incense sticks of jasmine & frankincense. It’s an affront to everything this country stands for--which is junk food & smelling like a billy goat! If this isn’t decisively ended, soon enough we’ll have stonings & floggings & fatwas & jihads & surely we can’t have all that! If you think it’s just a load of right-wing bull than you don’t know that judges around the country (with secret links to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, & al-Qaeda) are citing sharia law in divorce, custody, & property matters. We’re just a blink away from being run by caliphs applying sharia law. So thank your lucky stars the state of Kansas has led the way--& not a moment too soon--in making a law prohibiting sharia law in Kansas. Twenty other states are also deliberating laws against this deadly threat not just to our judicial system but to our national sovereignty. Critics of this new ban say it singles out Muslims for ridicule but others say Kansas comes out the worst in that regard.

There were entire police units, key units fully funded by the US embassy.

Ecuador president Correa in an interesting interview with Julian Assange after some Wikileaks that were made public but not yet published 

Correa Has also closed the American military Base in Ecuador ; unless Ecuadorian gets their own military base in Florida ,a fair swap.He also kicked the US ambassador out (Pesona non grata)
A good guide how to stand up to a bull.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Race riots in Tel Aviv

It is terrifying to read about the violent race riots last night in Tel Aviv against African refugees & asylum seekers. A rabid mob of over 1,000 Israelis marched into the neighborhoods where most African migrants live smashing windows, looting & vandalizing shops, setting fires, attacking Africans, & chanting “Blacks out!”, “The people want the Africans to be burned”, & calling for imprisonment & expulsion of Africans from Israel. Much of this was incited by government officials, including a Knesset member who called the migrants “a cancer in our body”. This race riot is more than the kind of attacks going on in Arizona & Alabama, US (although it’s exactly where those policies are headed). This chilling event is completely in sync with Zionist racial policies, with apartheid & ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. If it reminds you of pogroms against Jews, that’s because Zionism is completely in sync with that odious history. It cannot be said enough that Israel, a Jewish state built at the expense of the Palestinians is not a solution to anti-semitism. It is a death trap for Jews. And those who want a planet without racism & anti-semitism where people live in harmony & peace will make no concessions to Zionism--no matter how many crocodile tears they cry about anti-semitism. Take a stand against Israeli apartheid against Palestinians & against African refugees by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode 729).  (Photo by

Which one is Hellary?

In Hellary’s old look she looked more like Chucky the psycho killer doll but her new image is more like lipstick on a pig--with all due apologies to the pig. Some object to caricatures of Hellary & think they’re misogynist. But when you are the chief bully for US aggression around the world, you get caricatured just like the rest. It’s not her gender that’s at issue but her criminality. And you can’t put lipstick on that pig! (Photo by Cliff Owen/AP)

Spin it, Charley!

Okay, enough already with the ridicule! But would you have been able to resist this one!? Charley is visiting Canada on that damn jubilee tour & Betty wants him to make the Windsors look good. It’s beyond the poor guy. His needs are remedial. So here Canada has him spinning a turntable at an employment skills workshop in Toronto. He’s learned more skills on this tour than in 60+ years hanging out at the race track. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

High crimes & misdemeanors in the Niger Delta

(Top photo) A man carries a bucket of crude oil from an illegal refinery in the village of Isuini-biri in Bayelsa state, Niger Delta.  (Photo by Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)
(Bottom photo) Residents check on an oil fire eruption from a leaking wellhead in Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. The wellhead had been spilling oil for a week, coating the ground around it before catching fire. The fire burned for more than two months before the oil company made arrangements to quell it. Fifty years of oil spills have turned the delta into one of the most polluted areas in the world. (Photo by Ed Kashi)

Last week, Shell Petroleum in Nigeria raised an alarm over what it called an unprecedented scale of crude oil theft from illegal bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. They estimate the theft at 43,000 to 100,000 barrels a day. (Hold your shirt on; the story only goes downhill from here!) In their denouncements, Shell called for greater security for their pipelines & said such sabotage & theft were responsible for the environmental blight of farm lands & rivers in the area. He explained that Shell flyovers spotted unknown persons tapping pipelines & installing valves to waiting barges & trucks. Following the announcement (which brought tears to the eyes especially of those living on the Gulf of Mexico), headlines added to the cacophony of denouncements: Nigerian pirates, militant groups, & criminal gangs are killing their own economy, sabotaging their government, threatening the very foundations of Nigeria’s petroleum industry. In the barrage of condemnations, it was revealed that after 58 years of oil exploration in Nigeria, the government neither meters nor monitors the volume of oil production by Shell & other oil companies, has no functioning regulatory agencies, & doesn’t have a clue what is produced & loaded on to tankers. It is an open secret that after bribing corrupt government officials, the oil companies simply loot thousands of barrels. Nigeria is a major oil producer & 80% of government revenues come from oil exports. Instead of going after this massive corruption, the government announced this week it will go after corruption in the fuel subsidy program to keep petrol prices low, which Nigerians see as the only benefit of the oil economy. Actually, Nigeria imports most of its fuel ostensibly due to lack of refining facilities. (That’s got corruption written all over it too.) What most likely concerns the government is not official corruption but small time operators buying subsidized oil in Nigeria & smuggling it to Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, & Mali. All this, while 70% of Nigerians live on $2.00 a day & when, in January (at IMF insistence), the government reduced the fuel subsidy despite massive popular resistance. Shell has a long history of collaboration with the Nigerian government to use deadly force & repression against opposition to their presence in the Niger Delta, which is an environmental & human rights disaster (see the bottom photo). In a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, another collaboration is exposed: politicians & military officials, not militants or small time operators, are responsible for the majority of oil thefts. They’re the ones who can commandeer & control access to barges & tankers to help oil companies loot thousands of barrels a day. The diplomatic cable reads: "The military wants to remain in the Niger Delta because they profit enormously from money charged for escorting illegally bunkered crude & from money extorted in the name of providing security on the roads.” And yet the media goes after the small time operators like this man carrying a bucket of crude oil at an illegal refinery (illegal refineries yet no capacity for legal ones!?) rather than oil companies like Shell whose criminality is notorious & beyond dispute.

Bahrain: who exactly is on the run!?

Protestors in the main market of Manama, Bahrain run for cover from riot cops chasing them. They were protesting to demand the release of those incarcerated by the regime--which must feel like it’s the one on the run. Try as they do, the media can’t make the revolution in Bahrain look like a religious conflict between Shi’ite rebels & the Sunni monarchy (they haven’t played the al-Qaeda scare yet).  At one point, the king tried to bribe protestors with a few bucks, a promise to sack some politicians, & some other puny blandishments. That didn’t work, so he brought in Saudi tanks & troops to use excessive violence. Now they’ve come up with a stunt to merge the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia & Bahrain in an attempt to save Bahrain. The protestors aren’t buying any of it. They continue to protest against all these schemes despite the violence. Some writers have tried to minimize the central role played by women in the Arab uprisings by pointing to continuing misogyny in these countries. These writers either don’t know their political ass from their elbow or they’re trying to feed Islamophobia & undercut these revolutions. These revolutions have just begun & have a long way to go. Social transformations of such a profound nature that can uproot centuries of misogyny (along with racism & other tyrannies) are not completed in a year & certainly not before the revolutions have demolished oligarchy. (Photo by Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters)

Because humans do not live by politics alone

These children from Jammu and Kashmir, India, sing what has to be the sweetest rendition of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep. It is one minute of delight:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Don't mess with the women

No one seems to know where this photo was taken so it can stand as metaphor for the role of women & the vulnerable (she is in flip flops & tank top, after all) against the mighty & the armed. And quite frankly, it's made my day!

Historic con game

US media is going all hyperbolic today about the Egyptian elections, calling them historic elections to end three decades of Mubarak’s corrupt police state. (Funny they never reported all that before the Egyptian uprising.) The LA Times says, “The joy Egyptians exuded after Mubarak’s overthrow has been tempered by months of protests, crackdowns & bloodshed. Activists have criticized the military leaders now running the country for being a thinly disguised extension of the old regime. It is unclear how much control the generals will cede & whether the new president will break from the past or be limited by an army that has been the country's shadow power since 1952.” So maybe not so historic after all!? This photo from May 4th is not what most people consider free & fair election campaigning; it’s an attack on civil liberties & public protest by Egyptian soldiers. Egypt has a long way to go to dismantle the military state but these phony elections are not part of that process. That protestor is. So the elections are historic all right, if you include con games in all that. (Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/AP)

Report: Turkey set to indict IDF officers over killing of Gaza flotilla activists

Turkish daily says Ankara's prosecutor readies 144-page document that accuses top Israeli officers, including former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi, of ordering intentional killing, wounding of Turkish nationals on Mavi Marmara; charges still need to be approved by Istanbul district prosecutor.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

KKKKatie meets Betty--and grovels!

Moochocracy meets US media: tough to crowd so much imbecility into one encounter! KKKKatie CCCCouric, known for her cock-eyed grin & half-assed wit, fawns while meeting Betty at a Buckingham garden party. She declared Betty’s hideous peach ensemble “divine” & called her “humble, charming, & gracious”. To a plebeian reporter? Humility is not a virtue among moochocrats & KKKKatie can kkkkiss any future invitations to Buckingham good-bye for such an insult. WWWWilly was also there sipping tea & crumpets & KKKKatie quoted a joke by him which sent her into gales of laugher but the rest of us are still trying to analyze for signs of intelligence--let alone wit . KKKKatie says the boys like their granny. No kkkkidding!? Isn’t she the one that gives them their allowance?

Appreciate nature--or else!

According to western reporters sending clandestine messages over loud speakers from central square, these North Korean children were ordered by their programmed teacher to appreciate nature at this park in Pyongyang--or else. Soon they’ll start goose stepping classes & they’ll need to like being outside for all the marching around Pyongyang they’ll be doing. Usually war mongering makes you cry; in the hands of dopes like Richard Engel from NBC, it can make you laugh.  (Photo by Kim Kwang Hyon/AP)

Don't mess with the little guy!

What’s not to love about this photo!? Pakistan has severe water shortages so some bossy guy is telling these kids who are Afghan refugees not to bathe at this water point where others collect water for cooking & laundry purposes. As you can see, they’re not taking his bossing them around very well. Quite frankly, only a fool would mess with that little guy standing up on the right. Is it wrong to admire insolence in the young? (Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Definitely a terrorist!

In my political work with different movements I have often been struck that young, hip looking people would rant & rave right wing insults at me & elderly men or women would give me an earful of outrage at the war or social security or injustice. I see now (especially as an outraged senior) it's a prejudice that being senior means being reactionary. It's also true that the generation of the 60s who built the Civil Rights, women's, gay rights, & antiwar movements are now seniors & practiced in the art of rebellion against injustice.

Protest art in Cairo

Another magnificent political protest mural near Tahrir Square in Cairo. In Arabic, it reads: "We bring them their rights or we die like them". (Photo by Nasser Nasser/AP)

Morphing backwards

In Cairo, the generals tried to prevent protests in Tahrir Square & blockaded the area with cement blocks to make it inaccessible. Artists/activists have made the barriers a focus of political protest by turning the cement blocks, surrounding walls, & fences into a marvel of political murals. Here, they depict the morphing faces of ousted dictator Mubarak, present military ruler Hussein Tantawi, & presidential candidates Amr Mussa & Ahmed Shafiq (who are both part of the Mubarak military regime). If you look close enough, you'll see some US faces too!?  (Photo by Marco Longari/AFP)

The legacy of terrorism in Uruguay

Thousands marched on May 20th in Montevideo, Uruguay (as they have for the past 15 years) demanding justice for over 200 political activists disappeared under the military dictatorship of 1973-85. Many were kidnapped from exile in Argentina & believed transferred to prisons where they were tortured & killed or thrown alive from military planes into the Rio de la Plata estuary that separates the two countries (a technique used by the Argentine military to disappear thousands of political prisoners). This is not mere speculation since the Uruguayan disappearances were part of the US (Henry Kissinger) orchestrated program called, Operation Condor. Condor was a terrorist campaign of special operations against political activists in several Latin American countries under right-wing dictatorships (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru). Some estimate that over 60,000 people were murdered under Condor. Uruguayan regimes after the dictatorship have put on a dog & pony show of legislative & judicial maneuverings to pretend they are addressing these crimes but have not investigated the torture, murders, disappearances or brought the assassins to justice. In Uruguay there is in fact a law giving immunity to those involved in Condor & now the current president proposes releasing incarcerated military officials involved in the dictatorship. As we have seen in photo montages from Yemen to Spain to Honduras & in all the countries under siege by Operation Condor, those murdered come back to haunt justice. Mourning fueled by fury is not likely to wane until justice is given its due. (Photo by Matilde Campodonico/AP)

Activist prevents Israeli officer from arresting Palestinian child

During Sunday’s Jerusalem Day events, a Palestinian boy, perhaps 10 years old, was chased down an East Jerusalem street by a very angry officer of the Border Police. The boy tripped and fell, then picked himself up just as the Border Police officer reached him and tried to grab him. But a 22 year-old female Israeli activist prevented the boy’s arrest by throwing herself between the two, allowing the Palestinian boy to flee....

.....This year, an Orthodox Jewish man grabbed the Palestinian flag from the hands of a 10 year-old boy and refused to return it. The boy, enraged, tried to prise it out of the Jewish man’s hands. A Border Police officer, seeing the struggle between a 10 year-old Palestinian boy and a fully grown Jewish man, chased the Palestinian boy rather than ordering the Jewish man to return the flag. Someone made a montage of the incident and posted it on Facebook, with commentary. Note the expression of rage in the Border Police officer’s eyes, as seen in the second photo.

Montage posted on pro-Palestinian Facebook page (photo:

Border Police officer chasing Palestinian boy on Jerusalem Day

(photo: Activestills)

In the end the boy got away, due to the intervention of a 22 year-old Israeli activist from Jerusalem named Sahar Vardi, who threw herself in front of the Border Police officer just as he was about to grab the child. Photojournalist Haim Schwarczenberg caught the incident.

Israeli activist Sahar Vardi intervenes to stop Border Police

officer from arresting Palestinian child (photos: Haim Schwarczenberg)

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"No NATO, No War": U.S. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Return War Medals at NATO Summit

Broadcast from Chicago, site of the largest NATO summit in the organization’s six-decade history. On Sunday, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as members of Afghans for Peace, led a peace march of thousands of people. Iraq Veterans Against the War held a ceremony where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them down the street in the direction of the NATO summit. We hear the soldiers’ voices as they return their medals one by one from the stage. "I’m here to return my Global War on Terror Service Medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan," said Jason Hurd, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. "I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicago, May 20, 2012: the American antiwar movement is back. And it's a glorious day.

The American antiwar movement has been weak & fractured for many years & protests have been small. During election years, when many activists invest their hopes in politicians, protests are especially weak. So it is an extraordinary event to see thousands of people gather from around the country in Chicago, demanding US out now, the end of drone attacks, the dissolution of NATO--during an election year & after years of relative quiescience. Many eschew marches as having no purpose but those involved in antiwar activism going back to the Vietnam antiwar movement remember well with what horror US presidents, the FBI, & other police agencies view massive, public opposition to war--and how significantly the Vietnamese, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Iraqis, Afghanis, regard such solidarity. If protests were not significant, the state would not array such massive police force against them.

My Speech for Palestine Awareness Week at SDSU.

I want to begin by thanking the members of AIPAC the Jewish Zionist community who are here tonight. I am glad that they decided to set aside time to express solidarity with the people of Palestine. I know that you will listen to the tapes and view the recordings of my remarks tonight and you will study them well and hopefully you will realize that you are supporting evil. You see, I too came from a deeply Zionist background, far more Zionist and Jewish than most of you here tonight. My grandfather was a signer on the Israeli declaration of independence, and my father, a general, one of the giants who planned and executed Israel’s most definitive military victories, namely 1948 and 1967. So I know what you were taught and I know what you think. But its time to sweep away the Zionist myths and uncover the truth so that we may all finally live in peace. The myths I will address tonight are the three most common myths:
1. The myth of 1948.
2. The myth of the existential threat of 1967.
3. The myth of the Jewish democracy.
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Israel reacts with extremism to South African decision on settlement product labeling

"Racist! Liable to result in the death of Jews! Reprimand the South African ambassador!"
Reactions from Israel’s government, coalition and right-wing to the South African decision to ban labeling of products made in West Bank settlements as being made in Israel.
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South African Artists Against Apartheid take a position against Israeli apartheid

"As South African Artists and Cultural Workers who have lived under, survived, and in many cases resisted apartheid, we acknowledge the value of international solidarity in our own struggle. It is in this context that we respond to the call by Palestinians, and their Israeli allies, for such solidarity. As artists of conscience we say no to apartheid - anywhere. We respond to the call for international solidarity and undertake not to avail any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel. Nor will we accept funding from institutions linked to the government of Israel. This is our position until such time as Israel, in the least, complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. Until then, we too unite with international colleagues under the banner of “Artists Against Apartheid.”

Settler shooting Palestinians, 'Asira al-Qibliya, 19.5.2012, raw footage,

Video: As soldiers guard them, Israeli settlers attack Palestinian village, shooting one

Video taken by Palestinians and posted on YouTube by the Israeli group B’Tselem shows Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians with stones, live fire and setting fire to fields as Israeli occupation forces guard the settlers.

One Palestinian, Fathi al-Asayreh, 24, was shot in the head in the settler attack.

The settler assault occured on 19 May in the village of Asira al-Qibliya near Nablus in the occupied West Bank and the settlers came from Yitzhar, an Israeli colony built to the east of the village on land stolen from the villagers in 1983.

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Where’s the Palestinian Gandhi? Soaking in Blood Shed by Settlers

settler shoots nemer asiara

Jewish settler terrorist shoots Nemer Asiara in cold blood

Yesterday, in the northern West Bank, outside the village of Aserra, a Jewish settler shot a Palestinian boy who was participating in a demonstration. Here is the picture of the assassin aiming his rifle and there is the picture of the boy after the bullet has hit its target.

Pictures like this enrage me when I think of the inane questions of liberal Zionists like Gershom Gorenberg: “Where’s the Palestinian Gandhi.” Gorenberg makes his living off asking numbskull questions like this when the answer is staring him in the face. The Palestinian Gandhi is pictured here soaking in his own blood. The question shouldn’t be where is the Palestinian Gandhi. The question should be what will Gorenberg and the liberal Zionists do to stop the murder of the Palestinian Gandhis. When will they stop blaming the Palestinians? When will they recognize that the blame lies solely with Israel and that the timidity of the liberal Zionists allows their countrymen to continue to live under the illusion that they’ve done enough for peace and that it’s the Palestinians who haven’t.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gallup survey finds support in Egypt for Muslim Brotherhood dropping as presidential vote nears

Support for Egypt’s Islamist political parties has plummeted ahead of this country’s presidential election next week, a Gallup survey released Friday has found, while early returns showed the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, thought to be Egypt’s dominant political group, running third among Egyptians voting overseas....

The Gallup poll, conducted April 8-15, found that support for the Muslim Brotherhood had fallen from 43 percent in February, a month after the organization won nearly half the seats in Egypt’s Parliament, to 26 percent last month. Disappointment in the way Parliament performed probably drove that number. A separate question found that while 46 percent of Egyptians said in February that the new constitution should be written by the largest political bloc in Parliament, only 27 percent still felt that way in April.

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South Africa to ban labeling West Bank settlement products as 'made in Israel'

Minister of Trade and Industry says South Africa recognizes the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the UN in 1948.

UN official: Israeli practices cause great human suffering

The Palestinian Information Centre - 19 May 2012

GENEVA (PIC) — The Assistant UN Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Catherine Bragg, expressed her deep concern about the plight of the Palestinians under occupation, including those rendered homeless after demolition of their homes.

She called for ending the policies and the laws that deprive the Palestinians of their right to support themselves.

Bragg stated, in a press release after her three-day visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, «I am extremely concerned about the humanitarian impact of demolitions and displacement on Palestinian families”, and added: “Such actions cause great human suffering, run contrary to international law and must be brought to a halt.”

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Denmark to ban labeling West Bank products as ‘Made in Israel’, report says

Haaretz - 19 May 2012

Denmark is planning to ban labeling products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank as “Made in Israel,” the foreign minister told Danish media on Saturday. The move follows reports of similar plans announced this month by South Africa’s government.

“This is a step that clearly shows consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also European governments, do not approve of,” Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal Søvndal told Politiken newspaper. “It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not.

A source in Brussels familiar with the matter told Haaretz that it is still unclear whether the move is a recommendation or a new directive.

In late 2009, the U.K. government recommended West Bank products be labeled separately.

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Hairy the humanitarian!?

Marx said history repeats itself, first as tragedy & then as farce. It cannot be demonstrated enough that modern times has made it so the two cannot be distinguished. Hairy Windsor, the punk of Buckingham, just received a Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership award at a black tie event in Washington, DC--for his work with veterans, no less. The guy spent an hour in Afghanistan posing in a fox hole & the media hailed him as a war hero. That’s the farcical part. The other side is the news in England this week that 500,000 injured military veterans will be stripped of disability benefits over the next four years in the government austerity budget. The phony-assed award was given by the Atlantic Council, a so-called think tank with war criminal, Henry Kissinger on its board of directors. War criminal, Colin Powell presented the award which was previously given to war criminal, Bill Clinton, & the hapless sycophant, Bono. Other council members include war criminals Susan Rice & Richard Holbrooke (thankfully deceased). Too bad Adolf Hitler isn’t alive so they could give him an award too.

Armored bulldozers: a weapon of war

The caption to this photo reads: “Palestinians throw rocks at an Israeli army bulldozer during clashes in the northern West Bank village of Kufr Qaddum, near the Jewish settlement of Kdumim.” What matters, of course, is what the caption does not say: Palestinians are resisting continuing Israeli land grabs of their property on the West Bank. Kdumim is an illegal Zionist settlement whose only industry is farming on Palestinian property & a construction company which builds new settlements on confiscated Palestinian property. This armored bulldozer, mainly used by Israeli Defense Forces, is made by Caterpillar & paid for by the US government as part of its aid to Israel. Armored bulldozers serve many aggressive purposes in the ongoing land theft--in particular demolishing Palestinian homes. Their aggressive role has been criticized by human rights groups & was exposed in lawsuits filed by the parents of Rachel Corrie, an American solidarity activist mowed down & killed by one in 2003. (Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/AP)

The face of revolution

The bias against the old is so strong in modern society that it seems an anomaly to see so many on the front lines of rebellion & revolution around the world. But there you are! This is the face of protest in San’a, Yemen--female, aged, & no one to be messed with. Despite betrayals & con games galore, thousands continue to protest after more than a year to demand the prosecution of former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, for the incarceration, torture, & murder of thousands of democracy protestors. (Photo by Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters)

Understanding immigration (a repost)

(Photo by Santiago Ferrero is of immigrants intercepted aboard a makeshift boat on their way to Spain from Africa.)

A new specter is haunting not just Europe but the entire planet Earth: the mass movement and migration of millions of people on a scale unprecedented in human history as a result of war, political conflict, and economic predation. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), an intergovernmental monitoring agency, estimated in 1992 that 100 million people were on the move; today their estimate is 200 million people moving under perilous conditions on well-traveled routes from the southern Americas to north Americas, from eastern Europe to western Europe, from Africa to Europe and the Middle East, from Asia to Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Many do not survive the dangerous trips, many are subject to violent crimes and disabling injuries along the way. Many are unaccompanied women and minors. All are escaping intolerable conditions and risking everything to find a better life for themselves and their families. (Continued in comment section)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another reason why the world needs changing

Children culling for recyclable & reusable items in a junkyard outside Yangon, Myanmar. The infant seems quite content on his sister’s hip & blissfully unaware of the squalor. Poverty does not distract from their beauty but a lifetime of deprivation will take a toll on their health & well-being. Another reason why the world needs changing. (Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

They shall not pass/¡No pasarán!

The oligarchs never counted on fearless resistance to their attacks from seniors & certainly not from people in wheelchairs. Using their old strategies, they had illusions they were picking off the weakest links when they slashed social securities. Protestors like this “indignado” facing off against a cop car (in Madrid, Spain) form phalanxes with legions of seniors around the world who have not flinched from tear gas or truncheon. The so-called “weakest links” are in the front lines of defiance, signaling the oligarchs that resistance is going to get tough. They shall not pass/¡No pasarán!  (Photo by Pablo Blazquez)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

America's dumbest politicians

They need a new reality show entitled, “America’s Dumbest Politicians”. Competition would be stiff but the State of Alabama would surely take first place. After they passed a draconian immigration law last year, undocumented farmworkers fled the state to avoid arrest & deportation. This of course, left thousands of agricultural jobs unfilled & tons of produce rotted in the fields. The half-wits at the statehouse then devised a plan to use unemployed workers instead & what do you know? They too fled the state leaving no forwarding address. Then they decided to use prison labor to work those fields. That didn’t even work with the guys in jail for life without parole. Those tomatoes rotted. Proving they learn nothing from experience, the boneheads yesterday added new provisions to the law making it the worst in the nation (& if you’re worse than Arizona & top Jan Brewer, you need to have yourself committed ). One of the new provisions allows someone to be arrested for up to 48 hours until their immigration status is verified. That should cut down on tourism in the state. Soon enough the state will be a wasteland run by feral politicians eating each other. Immigration rights activists have been protesting this bill for a while & held one yesterday at the statehouse. In this photo, seven activists are being arrested & hauled away. They make us proud!  (Photo by Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser)

Why the world needs changing

Another reminder of why the world needs changing: to make it suitable for the little ones to grow in, to live & love in.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Imagine the chutzpah of wanting to learn!

Students in Chile have been protesting for well over a year against second-rate public education, costly private universities, & banks making a killing on student loans students cannot afford to repay. Here cops gang up on a student protesting in Santiago, Chile. The guy wants an education. Imagine the chutzpah!? The oligarchs think we’ve become entirely too entitled & way too uppity in an upwardly-mobile way--thinking we have some kind of rights to social security, education, health care, even civil liberties. Their approach to pedagogy is a more punitive one involving tear gas & billy clubs. But oligarchs beware! The heart-felt desire for learning has always been a compelling commitment of the oppressed, igniting & sustaining the fury of rebellion. W.E.B. DuBois wrote powerfully in “Black Reconstruction in America” on this issue which led Blacks to establish universal public education in the US. When oligarchs challenge the right of the young to learn, they create legions of their own grave diggers. (Photo by Victor Ruiz Caballero/AP)

Green Party candidate for President, Jill Stein, calls for end to Israeli apartheid

Dr. Jill Stein, who recently clinched the Green Party nomination for President, demands: end to the discriminatory apartheid policies within the state of Israel, the removal of the Separation Wall, a ban on assassination, movement toward denuclearization, the release of all political prisoners and journalists from Israeli and Palestinian prisons, disarmament of non-state militias, and recognition of the right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians....

As President I will put the full weight of the United States behind the establishment of a Palestine and Israel Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the vehicle for shifting from an era of human rights violations to one based on trust and bringing all parties together to seek solutions. Any stakeholder who enters into this process must pledge to work for a solution that respects the rights of all involved.

You win some, you lose some but it may as well be fun

Okay, so maybe German protestors got this paint bomb thing all wrong. About 300 protestors set up an “Occupy” camp in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt to protest it’s central role in attacks on working people in Greece, Spain, & all over the damn place. ECB officials got their golfing buddies in the German courts to rule the camp was a threat to public safety & when riot cops came to clear it, the protestors were supposed to hit ‘em in the kisser with paint bombs. Somehow it all went wrong & most of it got on the protestors themselves. You win some, you lose more until you win all--but you may as well have fun in the process. (Photo by Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Israeli court rules Israeli citizenship based on Jewish descent not religion or birthplace

- 16 May 2012

In Haifa District Court on Tuesday the judge ruled that whether a person is an Israeli citizen is determined by whether that person is of Jewish descent, i.e. born to a Jewish mother following halachic law, and not by their place of birth or whether they are by religion Jewish or not.

Haaretz reports that the Haifa District Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal submitted by Professor Uzzi Ornan who has sought to compel Israel’s Interior Ministry to recognize his citizenship based on the fact that he was born in Israel rather than on the grounds that he is Jewish. Prof Ornan claims no religious faith but was born in what is now Israel.

In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Daniel Fisch said that it is without doubt that the petitioner, Prof Uzzi Ornan, was born to a Jewish mother and is therefore Jewish, which the law of return states as the source of his citizenship.

The judge referred to previous rulings that “a Jew is anyone born to a Jewish mother or that has converted and is not of another religion.”

It is unclear what impact this will have on the Christian, Muslim and atheist citizens of Israel, which constitute around twenty percent of Israel’s population.

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Promises, promises--but more brutality

Colombia’s record of violence against organized labor is considered the worst in the Western Hemisphere. Since the 1980s, over 3,000 Colombian unionists have been assassinated & thousands of other activists tortured & disappeared. Several lawsuits have been filed against Chiquita, Occidental Petroleum, the coal mining company Drummond, & Coca-Cola because considerable evidence suggests their complicity in these crimes. Not deterred by corporate felonies & criminality, the US Congress signed the US-Colombia free trade agreement in 2006. This agreement negotiated by the two governments on behalf of multinational corporations would open Colombia to exports of US agricultural & manufactured goods &, as all such agreements, it would undercut unions & decimate labor rights (particularly for women & Afro-Colombians). The agreement was put on hold due to strong opposition from labor & human rights groups in the US & Colombia, including from the AFL-CIO. But instead of waging a campaign within the unions to defeat the agreement, the AFL-CIO stuck to collegial denunciations. (That way they can bankroll Obama’s reelection without too much interference from the ranks of labor.) Last October, Obama signed the trade agreement into law because of what he called historic progress for Colombian labor & human rights. What persuaded his sorry ass was Colombia’s creation of a new labor ministry, promises to prosecute crimes against working people & to crack down on the violence. The man’s not credulous; he’s dishonest & doesn’t give a damn about Colombian workers anymore than he does US workers. This photo is more proof of the political bankruptcy, empty promises, & criminality of the Colombian regime (not to mention, the US regime): riot cops in Bogota fire tear gas at students protesting the free trade agreement which went into effect yesterday. (Photo by William Fernando Martinez/AP)