Saturday, June 30, 2012

The murderous life of Yitzhak Shamir

Yitzhak Shamir has died & so the panegyrics begin with Israeli politicians lining up to praise a man no one could tolerate despite his recalcitrant Zionism. Shamir was born in Poland in 1915 but inspired by the ideas of Theodor Herzl moved to Palestine when he was 20-years-old to help form the state of Israel. Herzl formulated the basic ideas of Zionism which resist the assimilation of Jews & hold there is no solution to anti-semitism other than a Jewish state. It is a cynical, defeatist ideology that does not believe racism & prejudice can be overcome. Shamir began as a gunman & street assassin in the Irgun, a Zionist terrorist group but eventually split to join the Stern gang, another terrorist group determined to establish a Jewish state based on “totalitarian & nationalist principles”, involved in massacres (notably at Deir Yassin) & which initially supported fascism at the onset of WWII. After Israel’s establishment in 1948 (which involved the violent & forcible expulsion of the Palestinian population from their lands & homes) Shamir spent 17 secretive years working as a Mossad (the Israeli CIA) agent. He then gained prominence as a hard-liner in the rightist Likud party & functioned in several government positions as a Knesset member (the Israeli parliament), foreign minister, & prime minister. As prime minister, Shamir vigorously promoted Jewish settlement in the West Bank & Gaza & during his tenure the Jewish population in those areas increased by nearly 30%. He also encouraged immigration of tens of thousands of Soviet Jews to Israel--while millions of expelled Palestinians lived in squalid refugee camps. As you would expect, Shamir was a man bereft of personal charms. He was rigid, dogmatic, intolerant, glum, & thoroughly detestable even to his co-thinkers despite his leading role in establishing the state of Israel. In short, he had the personality of a rattle snake & according to another Zionist, lacked even a spark of humanity or conscience. The New York Times refers to Shamir as “promoting a muscular Zionism”. How politic, how diffident, how dishonest & despicable a way to describe a terrorist. This is what a terrorist looks like.

5 Broken Cameras. A Palestinian farmer's chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the occupation.

When his fourth son, Gibreel, is born, Emad, a Palestinian villager, gets his first camera. In his village, Bil'in, a separation barrier is being built and the villagers start to resist this decision. For more than five years, Emad films the struggle, which is lead by two of his best friends, alongside filming how Gibreel grows. Very soon it affects his family and his own life. Daily arrests and night raids scare his family; his friends, brothers and him as well are either shot or arrested. One Camera after another is shot at or smashed, each camera tells a part of his story.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The 10 Most Hilariously Unhinged Right-Wing Reactions to the Obamacare Ruling

Over-the-top? You betcha!
"The remarkable thing about the heated debates about the law over the last three years is just how modest these reforms really are, especially when one considers how screwed up our healthcare system was to begin with."
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Exclusive Interview: Joseph Stiglitz Sees Terrifying Future for America If We Don't Reverse Inequality

What will life look like down the road if we don't reverse economic inequality? We must see through the myths of capitalism and build a mass movement if we are to save ourselves.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, one of America's most prescient voices, wrote an article for Vanity Fair several months before Occupy Wall Street was born. "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%" called attention to the widening gap between rich and poor and its deadly impact on our society and its democratic institutions. In his newly released book, The Price of Inequality, Stiglitz returns to this theme of a divided society, delving into the origins and consequences of economic unfairness. I caught up with Professor Stiglitz and talked to him about how the persistent myths and beliefs associated with our capitalist system help to drive this trend, turning America from a land of opportunity to a land of broken dreams.
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Civilian death toll in Afghanistan anyones guess

Believe it or not, this is a common sight in photojournalist accounts of the Afghanistan war: US-NATO soldiers skulking “insurgents” (in Pentagon-speak, those who oppose occupation are insurgents) while children are nearby in the line of fire. Here a boy is trying to retrieve a spent brass cartridge casing which can be sold. Civilian deaths of Afghanis are not reported; they are actually not even counted by the military but are estimated by other agencies. So there is no overall accounting of those killed but the estimates are in the tens of thousands either directly from bombing, troop massacres, land mines, or reckless endangerment as shown here or indirectly from displacement, starvation, disease, lack of medical treatment. For the past five years, the UN has released an annual report on civilian deaths, 77% of which they attribute mainly to the Taliban. They also claim civilian deaths by US-NATO troops are mainly from Afghan government soldiers. When the Taliban denounced the report as war propaganda they should have added racist war propaganda. (Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Money for stadia but not for homes

Well isn’t this monstrosity fascinating!? The Brazilian government is coy about revealing the number of homeless in that country but nevertheless they are internationally notorious for the number of homeless children & the paramilitary violence used against them. Brazil is also notorious for the militancy of homeless people in resisting evictions & forcible relocations. So here, workers in Brasilia are constructing a stadium for the 2014 World Cup. Imagine that!? Money for stadia but not for homes. Time to throw the oligarchic bums out! (Photo by Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

Occupy affordable housing!

In many US cities the Occupy movement has continued in protests against foreclosures with activists staging protests & sit-ins against home evictions. Here, in a protest in Oviedo, Spain, police are wrestling with activists protesting the eviction of an Ecuadorian family (including a 5-month-old child) unable to keep up their mortgage payments to the bank. Seventeen people locked themselves in the home & 200 people protested outside to stop the eviction. The international Occupy movement recognizes the centrality of affordable housing to politics around the world today. (Photo by Javier Bauluz/ Periodismo Humano)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

May her life be filled with joy!

When you think of how to make your contribution to making the world a better place, to making it suitable for men, women, & children to live & love in, think of this little Mayan girl from Guatemala--or the little guy from Zimbabwe, or the little tyke from Honduras or Arizona or Texas & know that the future of the human race depends on our respect & belief in children--not in an abstract, romantic way but in a nurturant, militant way.  (Photo by David Zimmerly)

There's no business like Shoah business!

The cultural boycott of Israel by Palestinian supporters is growing internationally & having a monumental affect on Israeli politics to the advantage of Palestinians. From the point of view of Palestinians & justice, it’s about time! The agencies of Israeli propaganda (called hasbara) are freaking out. Norman Finkelstein, has played a mixed role in all this but his writings on the holocaust make notorious the aphorism,  “There’s no business like Shoah business”. (Shoah is another term for the holocaust.) His writings describe how people like Elie Wiesel & other Zionists manipulate the history of the holocaust to promote Israeli apartheid. Here fourteen women who lived through the holocaust vie for Israel’s first “Miss Holocaust Survivor” title. The mass persecution & incineration of millions of Jews was a human catastrophe of epic proportions & to reduce it to a banal senior beauty contest exposes Zionism for the wretched ideology it is. (Photo by Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

When terrorists morph into lap dogs

US & UK media comments on this moment express incredulity & admiration that Betty Windsor would shake hands with Northern Ireland’s Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army (IRA) man who admitted responsibility in bombing the yacht of Louie Mountbatten (her cousin & the the uncle of her consort Phil). McGuinness called this hand shake deliberate, symbolic, “momentous & historical” and unlike other guests, chose not to bow his head (the male form of curtsying)--since he thought kissing her ass was quite enough servility for one day. McGuinness waxed euphoric about this regrettable moment in a speech at Parliament in London & his comments are too groveling to report but he blithered on about reconciliation, the UK’s refusal to formally investigate massacres of unarmed Catholic activists in Northern Ireland, & chided the British government for hampering reconciliation by refusing to admit its role in the conflict that killed thousands of civilians. Instead, he offered the hand of friendship to Betty Windsor & said “Dialogue has replaced conflict”. Terrorism is elitist & always a bankrupt political strategy but doesn’t it make you want to weep when yesterdays terrorists become todays lap dogs!? Irish Republicanism is alive, weak, & still the only possible solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Paul Faith/Getty Images)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Does Egypt Have a New President?

There are celebrations in some quarters in the Arab world. Some are celebrating the defeat of Ahmad Shafik (the candidate of Israel, US, EU, Saudi Arabia, and the old regime order of Egypt.)

Some are celebrating the assumption of Islamism to power in Egypt. Others are celebrating the victory of the Qatari candidate. And yet others are celebrating the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the most important Arab country.

Islamists from Iran to Algeria are pleased that Islamism seems to be ascendants. But there is no need to celebrate, although Islamists are justified in opening champagne bottles. It is a big occasion for all Islamists.

But the election should be seen for what it is: politics in Egypt has not been freed up since the downfall of Mubarak. The entire political game is run by an unelected body of generals – all of whom have been handpicked by Mubarak himself.

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US Supreme Court legalizes racial profiling

The US Supreme Court ruling on the draconian & racist Arizona immigration law (SB1070), is rightfully called a legal victory by the governor of the state, Jan Brewer. The Court upheld only one provision & threw out three others but given the centrality of what is retained, the three provisions thrown out amount to chicken feed. The court threw out (1) a requirement for immigrants to register with the federal government, (2) the right to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants without a warrant, (30) making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or seek work in Arizona. What the Court upheld is the directive to state & federal police to check immigration status when they stop people for any offense, including when they suspect someone of being undocumented. This is not merely a consolation prize to Arizona immigration opponents; it is racial profiling which has always been the very heart of SB1070. That means if you look Mexican or Latino, you can be stopped & interrogated about your immigration status. And just to be clear, Arizona was once a part of Mexico wrested in a war of conquest by the US in 1848--so Mexicans go back generations in Arizona, long before any gringos showed up.

Under the Fourth Amendment of the US Bill of Rights, probable cause (which is defined as a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime) is the standard by which officers of the law can detain someone. But under the guise of the war on drugs, police run rough shod over that democratic right in the Black community, stopping drivers, conducting illegal search & seizures, harassing youth, conducting stop & frisks simply because someone is Black. That is exactly what is retained in the legal travesty of SB1070: the right to stop someone simply because they look Mexican or Latino. Brewer claims Arizona cops will be trained not to engage in racial profiling. But the Court fully anticipates further challenges to the law if it is abused with racial profiling or if prolonged detentions are required for those unable to produce immigration papers because they know damn well such abuses are inevitable. There was no movement to defend Black youth against these assaults when they began a few decades ago & thousands of young people continue to be unjustly incarcerated. Today, there is an active immigration rights movement opposing laws like SB1070 which is why there have been challenges to these racist laws. The US government has now generalized them in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), where any US citizen can be disappeared without due process (Guantanamo writ large!) & as we saw with the Occupy movement last year, is challenging other provisions of the Bill of Rights like free speech & the right to assembly. Defending democracy in this country means participating in the movement opposing all laws like SB1070, opposing stop & frisk practices (as activists are doing in NYC),  demanding the end of racial profiling, & immigration rights for fellow workers. (Photographer not identified)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

You're pushing it, Betty!

Betty’s looking pretty here but the week should not pass without deploring the substantial raise she just received for services rendered to the state--if you count hand waving & imbecility as services rendered. The girl’s got quite a racket going. They’re closing down hospitals & schools in the UK but she just got a 20% annual pay raise to 36 million pounds (that’s 56 million bucks). The Crown Estate she owns of wind farms, retail parks, real estate is worth billions (in every currency on the planet). One wants to be merciful since this is not the age of guillotines. But this may be pushing us to the edge!?  (Photo by Carl Court/AFP)

Her future is our mandate

This little girl is leaving school in Taknaf, Bangladesh. The photojournalist doesn’t tell us anything about her but Taknaf is the only place Bangladesh connects with Burma (Myanmar) by a small river called the Naf & it is the locale where thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Burma are being refused entry & asylum in Bangladesh. Forced to return to extreme state-sponsored violence in Burma, some Rohingyas have abandoned infants in Bangladesh, hoping they would find mercy. The right of children to grow up in a world free of hatred & conflict isn’t a pipe dream; it’s a mandate.  (Photo by Saurabh Das/AP)

Is she deranged?

Eurozone finance ministers from 17 countries decided to meet in Luxembourg to discuss how to stabilize the collapsing euro currency--when they should have held the gathering in Holland near a dike they could they could plug with their ample, bumptious butts. Here IMF director, Christine Lagarde is talking to the appropriately named Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Eurogroup. Apparently it’s not just the euro that’s cracking; Lagarde looks like she’s completely lost her marbles. She’s the tax-evading demento who called the Greeks lazy tax evaders, but of course, the only Greeks she knows (the billionaires & millionaires) probably fit that description to a tee.  (Photo by Virginia Mayo/AP)

War is not a form of emancipation

The Obama administration, Pentagon, & their counterparts in the other predator countries first touted the Afghanistan war as a fight to get Osama bin-Laden hiding out in a mountain cave (with his dialysis equipment, no less). Turns out he was living in comfort in Pakistan. They also peddle the war as a crusade to emancipate Afghan women. Turns out millions of them took their families & fled to Pakistan also--but not to comfort. This little Afghan girl is one of the millions of refugees from the war living in squalor near Islamabad. Here refugees siphon water used for cooking, laundry, bathing, from a clearly unhygienic well. War is not a form of emancipation & women in Afghanistan don’t need US-NATO marines to free them. Those who support women’s rights in Afghanistan should demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO troops. Btw, this photo was taken on UN-sponsored World Refugee Day--& still the UN hasn’t condemned the war or called for its cessation!?  (Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Another suspicious fire

It’s not an easy thing figuring out what’s going on in this world when the news is so canned & comes from only a few sources. The report by an AP stringer who gets his/her analysis from officials will be repeated word for word in media outlets around the world. Officials always give the same explanation for the hundreds of slum fires in major cities: a cooking accident, residents pirating power lines, flimsy, flammable building materials, or sometimes even “cause unknown”. On the surface that makes sense. But reporters are supposed to have inquiring minds & when you put the fires within the context of urban gentrification & forcible evictions of thousands of slum residents, then the story doesn’t add up at all. In fact, it smells even worse than the smoke billowing off the charred remains of thousands of homes. So when a fire in New Delhi, India burned down an illegal shanty town yesterday, some reports said, “cause unknown”, other reports said it broke out in an adjoining scrap yard, but most reports said it was caused by piles of plastic & rubber that residents had gathered to sell for recycling. They all report it took 25 fire trucks & 70 fire fighters two hours to douse the fire. Only one Indian media source ( actually nosed around the site & interviewed residents & they have a very different account of events. Residents claim the fire trucks arrived late & failed to douse the flames due to shortage of water. Residents also report they were previously ordered to evacuate the slum. There may have been more cops to disperse the residents than fire fighters. This account accords more with photojournalist albums showing more residents fighting the flames than fire fighters but these are also the same charges made by residents in hundreds of other slum fires around the world. Arson for purposes of gentrification is the most likely explanation for most of these fires which have created massive homelessness. Once again, housing is a human right & must become a central political demand in every country. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/AP)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Exodus & other lies

A TV channel that plays old films has run “Exodus” several times today, back-to-back. It’s a 1960 film based on the novel “Exodus” by Leon Uris. The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, one of the Hollywood Ten who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 during the committee's investigation of communist influence in the motion picture industry. It stars people like Paul Newman, Eva St. Marie, Sal Mineo, Lee J. Cobb. It’s an unbelievably rancid piece of Zionist propaganda credited with garnering widespread support for Zionism & Israel in the US. It’s a heroic depiction of Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestinians during the forcible expulsion from their own lands by Zionist militias in 1947-48. It was embarrassing to watch Newman in such a despicable role & disappointing to learn Trumbo had such regrettable political views. It must be said with some measure of satisfaction that despite the cast & writer the thing is a masterpiece of tedium. Last year, the Knesset criminalized Arab commemoration of the founding of Israel as a day of mourning. They want the mythological founding of Israel regarded as fact but their battle against truth & history is becoming a rearguard action. It's been a long time since 1960 & even longer since 1948 but the truth is finally being heard. Long live the Intifada!

Barn yard menagerie

Pigs get an awful bad rap as a simile for at least three of the cardinal sins: gluttony, avarice, & sloth. In “Animal  Farm”, Orwell did them disservice by making them either dictatorial or manipulative orators. But according to the Chinese Zodiac, pigs are loyal, tolerant, chivalrous, idealistic--with the added advantage that if you’re born in the year of the pig, you’re likely to be rich. Despite questionable hygiene, they’re also known for intelligence & sociability, have given long service to the human race, & provide great entertainment in the personas of Miss Piggy, Babe, Porky Pig, & The Three Little Pigs. Chickens peck & poop too much but goats are not known to have a single imperfection.

The Global March in Rio

The magnificent “Global March” in Rio de Janeiro (June 20th): the People’s Summit for Social & Environmental Justice is a parallel event to Rio+20, the UN-sponsored conference of corporate plunderers. 50,000 activists are at the alternative summit & protest; 2,000 suits are cowering inside the conference center. (Photo by Andre Penner/AP)

The alternative summit to Rio+20

50,000 people from environmental groups & social movements are reportedly in Rio de Janeiro to protest the UN dog & pony show of corporate plunderers called Rio+20. People from tribes indigenous to the Brazilian rainforest have been in the forefront of opposition to the mining rampage & destruction of the rainforest & were part of the alternative summit. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Another dog & pony show

The UN loves a spectacle nearly as much as they love long-winded resolutions. Last week, they had a day on child labor with all sorts of ceremonial tsking & yesterday they had a day on refugees with more ceremonial clucking. But this atrocity going on in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil called the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20 may take the cake. There are 2,000 participants at an invitation only event built around two major themes: sustainable energy & the greening of industry. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is claiming great progress already but that’s against the low expectations expressed by governments & media. Actually it’s not certain if this is an investment event or an environmental one since despite the themes, UN organizers promoted it saying it will give business & investors an “opportunity to meet with governments, local authorities, civil society & UN entities”. They insist the private sector (what the rest of us call plunderers) play a critical role in Rio+20 & that must be true since there isn’t an environmental organization among the participants. With $1,000 a night hotel rooms, this is a boon to the hospitality industry in Rio but otherwise just an expensive dog & pony show. The list of participants includes 130 heads of state (with Hillary Clinton leading the US delegation); several universities & business schools (to grovel for research dough); lots & lots of banks & investment firms (including HSBC, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, & the World Bank); mining, energy, gas, oil, lumber, pharmaceutical, auto (Mitsubishi, Volkswagen), & telecommunication companies; Coca Cola & Pepsi, Dow, Cargill, Monsanto, Nestle, Disney, IKEA, Intel, Maersk, Levi Strauss, Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft, Nokia, the Ford & Rockefeller Foundations, Oxfam, Save the Children, World Wildlife International, & something called The Happiness Foundation. That’s a rogues' gallery, not an environmental lineup. Any real action taken in Rio is happening at the People’s Alternative Summit Against the Green Economy & the Commodification of Nature. This photo (taken June 15th) of a pig scrounging in a creek filled with trash & stinking of raw sewage that runs toward the Rio+20 conference center would be emblematic of Rio+20. (Photo by Victor R. Calvano/AP)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meet the miners

Meet one of the striking coal miners behind those masks: Ms. Shaila Hidalgo. Posted lest anyone think ass-whooping is only a manly art. Hidalgo is at a protest march in Langreo, near Oviedo, Spain. (Photo by Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Immigration is a human right; sanctuary is international law

On every route taken by the 200 million undocumented migrants today, human rights catastrophes are the norm. They travel under perilous conditions & sustain violence of all sorts, including injury, extortion, rape, assault, murder. Most of the violence is not from “human smugglers”, as media & many governments claim, but from military & paramilitary forces attempting to deter migration. The violations of international law concerning asylum seekers & the atrocities committed against desperate human beings is now high-lighted in the most ignominious way on the Burma (Myanmar) border with Bangladesh. Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence against them are being refused entry to Bangladesh although they are unable & unwilling to return to Burma. Here Mohammad Rafique, a Rohingya Muslim is begging a Bangladesh coast guard official for sanctuary for his family. Rafique’s wife, Amina Akhtar, is holding the son she just gave birth to in Bangladesh. The coast guard official surely does not look without mercy although the oligarchs who run the country have none. Immigration is a human right; sanctuary is international law.  (Photo by Saurabh Das/AP)

From the annals of the US Civil Rights Movement

This is a 1963 photo from the annals of the US Civil Rights Movement. It was a powerful social movement which continues to inspire people throughout the world to stand defiantly against racist persecution & oppression. That movement sustained extreme violence from assaultive weapons of all sorts & many activists were murdered. Here a Birmingham, Alabama activist glares at the cops who just assaulted him with a water cannon. His remarkable defiance & fearlessness typified that movement & is exactly the spirit required of today’s activists. It’s reposted as a tribute to him & to the great Civil Rights Movement. May it continue to give us courage. (Photo by Charles Moore)

Israel deporting asylum seekers

Starting Sunday night, the apartheid state of Israel started deporting African immigrants (or “illegal work infiltrators”, as creepy Netanyahu calls them) back to their home countries. This 9-year-old girl named Bhakita Koang Gai, cries as she boards the bus taking her to the Tel Aviv airport for deportation to South Sudan. After Israeli politicians whipped up racist rampages against African immigrants, hundreds of immigrants have been arrested, & thousands are slated for deportation. Most of the migrants are asylum seekers from civil conflict, famine, & war & under international law, Israel is obliged to provide sanctuary. One wonders why they bother to make international laws when psycho-states like Israel flaunt them so egregiously without condemnation. South Sudan has been declared a disaster zone by its own government. It has thousands of internally displaced persons, widespread famine, & some of the worst health indicators in the world (including infant mortality & the highest maternal mortality in the world), with one doctor for every 500,000 people. Despite its own shameful human rights record, the US has never been shy about protesting the violations of others. But in this instance it is notably mute because as Israel’s inarticulate Interior Minister said: "We are sending the infiltrators, migrants, back to their homes like all countries in the West, in Europe, in the USA act when dealing with migrants."  (Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Egyptians respond to military power grab

Making a mockery of elections already proven a travesty, the Egyptian military junta presented their new constitution which usurps all legislative, judicial, & presidential powers & declares them back in complete control--as if the Egyptian uprising never took place. This is a perilous moment for the Egyptian people & they responded today with the same intransigence & courage they have shown over the past 18 months by pouring by the thousands into Tahrir Square. The Egyptian revolution has been a beacon to suffering humanity around the world so its reversal is vital to the goals of neoliberalism & is being plotted & coordinated at the highest levels of intrigue by the Egyptian junta & US & European officials. Our fullest solidarity with our brothers & sisters in Tahrir Square. Their struggle is our struggle, their victory, ours too.

Raising orphans in Tanzania

This is a 5-month-old orphaned elephant being loved up by his caretaker, Thomas Chalice, at the Tony Fitzjohn rhino sanctuary in Mkomazi, Tanzania. Chalice has a tough job ahead of several years to get this baby through the grief of losing his mother & emotionally able to survive. It would be interesting to interview Chalice & other caretakers about the grief they feel when they finally have to say good-bye to their wards. They probably have to hire elephants to care for grieving caretakers.(Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty)

Monday, June 18, 2012

They're useless without their guns, tanks, bulldozers, & bombers!

The Palestinian people have fought alone for so long & so fiercely but they have never given up against the overwhelming might of Israeli apartheid bankrolled by US treachery. Children, young & old men & women have stood with nothing but rocks & determination against Israeli tanks, bulldozers, & bombers for nearly 65 years without backing down, without giving up, & with little international support. The movement for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing is changing all that. After so many decades alone, people of good will around the world now, on every continent are responding to the Palestinian clarion call for justice. Israel is in a panic & trying to use sports & cultural events to clean up its image & cover for it’s crimes. Many celebrity sycophants like Elton John, Madonna, & U2 have participated in the deceit; others have joined the side of justice. Those of us who champion justice, even if we don’t know a damn thing about sports & can't carry a tune, will join this section in the bleachers at a soccer game in Scotland to demand, “Free Palestine”. You can add your voice to those in the bleachers by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode number 729).

Don't mess with miners!

Those striking coal miners in northern Spain certainly mean business! Coal mining unions are waging not just a general strike but what looks like war against IMF-European Union austerity. Here a miner is building a road barricade next to the Santiago mine near Oviedo, Spain but this is going on at over 40 mines. The intransigence of these miners is an inspiration to us all & says to the oligarchs, "don't mess with people who actually know how to do something!" May they bring the Spanish government to its knees. (Photo by Emilio Morenatti/AP)

Human rights crisis on Burma-Bangladesh border

Aung San Suu Kyi is the Burmese opposition politician put under house arrest from 1989 to 2010 by the military junta in her country. For this, she became a democracy icon as “the Mandela of Asia” & is presently being feted throughout Europe after belatedly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991. Her list of international awards as a champion of democracy & human rights is nearly a mile long so there is certainly no one in the world at the present moment in a better position to speak out against racist violence, suppression of democratic rights, persecution. That’s why many are puzzled that she is not speaking out against the violence & human rights crisis in Burma causing over 30,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee for their lives. Many are appalled that her responses to repeated reporter queries are shabby little platitudes urging people in Burma to get along with each other & calls for rule of law. The Rohingyas are publicly pleading for her support & the UN, Human Rights Watch, & Amnesty International have already spoken out so Suu Kyi wouldn’t stand alone. Some have excused her platitudes as diplomacy & political caution. Well if such an international icon can’t speak out, who the hell can!? What’s the point of those honorifics if you have to clam up to get them?

Media reports the conflict as a religious one between Muslims & Buddhists but Suu Kyi surely knows that the 800,000 Rohingyas have been subject for decades to violent state-sponsored persecution & discrimination conducted by the military, including denial of citizenship (though they have lived in the region for decades), religious persecution, forced labor, land confiscations, arbitrary taxation & various forms of extortion, forced eviction & house destruction, restrictions on travel for health & work, restrictions on marriage, education, & trade. The violence is so extreme & sustained going back decades that hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas flee for asylum to Malaysia, & to squalid refugee camps in Thailand & Bangladesh. Bangladesh has long been trying to deport the thousands living in refugee camps, has subjected them to harrowing human rights violations, & is refusing to accept the new refugees. Boats of desperate Rohingya refugees are now being turned back by Bangladeshi border guards. There were several incidences of Rohingya refugees to Thailand being towed by the military in dilapidated boats & abandoned on the open sea. In this photo, a Bangladeshi border guard is denying entry to asylum seekers in violation of elementary human decency & international law. (Photo by Saurabh Das/AP)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

No human being is illegal!

Obama just announced what his administration calls “Deferred Action” for undocumented youth, which means many young people brought here as children by undocumented immigrant parents will no longer be subject to deportation. This is certainly one of the most shameless--out of a plethora of such acts--against undocumented immigrants by the Obama regime. One’s immediate reaction is that this is just a pre-election stunt to curry favor with a disenchanted Latino electorate since his administration has deported more immigrants, audited more businesses, & conducted more workplace raids on suspicion of hiring the undocumented than the Bush regime. Obama’s deportation policies have shown arrant contempt for child welfare by deporting parents & forcing thousands of children into a bankrupt, over-taxed foster system. The thousands of unaccompanied minors caught trying to cross the US-Mexico border are offered detainment in place of social services. Nearly 800,000 immigrant child farm workers were just denied protective legislation because it conflicted with the profit needs of agribusiness. So why is Obama showing such concern for undocumented youth? Is it just an election stunt!? And the answer is “no”; it is even more cynical & malignant than that.

First of all, as Obama has insisted, this is not an amnesty. It is provisional. It has several restrictions, including age, residency, & time restrictions. It is likely to be legally challenged & almost certain to be reversed. One must register, & reregister every two years to even become eligible for a work permit. In other words, there is no reciprocity here. You hand the government your identity & location without receiving any promises or legal commitments in return. So when they do reverse it, they know just who & where you are.

The cynical & treacherous aspect of this maneuver is that the Dreamer generation is the most active, energetic, growing segment of the immigration rights movement. More than being an electoral stunt, this is an attempt to cut the Dreamer movement off at the knees, to confuse & neutralize young activists. The Democratic Party throws millions of dollars in foundation money at immigration rights organizations to mute their protests & mortgage immigration rights to that party. Some will ignore the shameful record of the Obama administration & tout this “Deferred Action” as a victory. But emphasis should be placed on the word “Deferred”. They won’t grab you & deport you now; that will be deferred until after the elections. Undocumented youth are well-advised to think twice before handing their identity & location to immigration control authorities. The movement is being thrown this sop to demobilize it. The demands must remain “Amnesty for all without restrictions of any kind”, “Stop the deportations”, “Immigration is a human right”, “No human being is illegal”. (Photographer not identified; from protest in St. Paul, Minnesota)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Women role models & caricatures

This cogent article is well worth reading about women’s studies but more importantly about how women are seen in our world. If you ask many young girls to name a woman “hero” or role model, they will likely come up with Wonder Woman or some other sexualized caricature, like on the left & not of such remarkable figures as Sojourner Truth, on the right. Before you read it, try to think of a few women in history--in art, music, invention, science, politics whom you consider noteworthy. You’re going to draw a blank. But women have played significant roles in all these endeavors despite systematic exclusion, arrant ridicule, & refusal to acknowledge. Though it might be said, in politics women have been less involved in government than in rebellion & social movements. (Portrait of Sojourner Truth by Andrew Barthelmes)

Ferocity, thy name is bird

They say birds are descendants of dinosaurs & that’s easy to believe since the little squirts have a real outsized attitude problem. They’ll tangle with a gorilla if he gets in their way or messes with their babies. This fierce little momma is just daring someone to go near her babies. Many human mothers will identify with the bird. (Photographer not identified)

Horsey birthday, Betty Windsor!

This is a special day in feudal England called Trooping the Colour to celebrate the birthday of Betty Windsor. Phil, her “anus horribilis” was let out of hospital ostensibly for bladder problems but everyone knows he has chronic flatulence problems due to the psychological stress of suppressing Nazi outbursts in public. Her birthday was celebrated with an extravagant martial display (they had to close 10 hospitals to pay for it) of military bands, 41-gun salutes, RAF flybys, mounted troops & horse parades. The history of this thing is buried in ancient feudalism & the esoteric arts but the horse thing is a special tribute to Betty. If there’s one thing Betty knows, it’s horses--after all, she married the rear end of one & spends most of her time at the track. That explains why she doesn’t mind the smell of all that horse manure. This was a martial display unlike any other; it makes all that goose-stepping in Pyongyang, North Korea pale by comparison. The thousands of foot soldiers on parade don’t goose-step; they prance like fillies. England, you’ve got to put a stop to this nonsense! There were many special moments in the day but this one of WWWWilly, Chucky, & some ancient relative they dragged from a crypt is most memorable. They can’t see so they’re completely dependent on the horse. There’s a metaphor there. (Photographer not identified)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Egyptian uprising in jeopardy

The Egyptian revolution is today entering an ominous & threatening period. When a massive, popular uprising threw Hosni Mubarak out on his ass last year, the military junta promised democratic elections & an end of military rule. But you never trust a snake not to bite. The Egyptian uprising plays such a central role in inspiring other Arab uprisings & protests in Africa, Europe, Latin America, & the US against austerity & tyranny that in the minds of the oligarchs it must be reversed. The most malignant minds around the world are working overtime to find a way to destroy the resistance & spirit of the Egyptian people. Yesterday, Egypt’s highest court--certainly at the behest of the junta--ruled that Mubarak’s last prime minister can remain in the presidential race despite massive protests against his candidacy & they ruled that the newly elected parliament must be dissolved. This leaves the Egyptian people right back where they were before they ousted Mubarak--with military dictatorship fully in control. They have already paid too high a price with activists beaten, tortured, incarcerated, murdered. They need our full active solidarity. Here a young boy (with the date of the revolution painted on his face) joins thousands of others protesting in front of the court against the rulings. The Egyptian military has yet to learn what Israel knows so well from Palestinian youth standing with rocks against tanks & bulldozers: when the young are aligned against you, there will be no peace for a very long time. All solidarity with the Egyptian people in their struggle against the military junta! (Photo by Amr Nabil/AP)

The Greek radicals

Alexis Tsipras is the candidate of the Greek electoral alliance called SYRIZA with a radical program opposing the IMF-European Union austerity program impoverishing working people. The election is this coming Sunday & here supporters attend a rally for Mr. Tsipras in Athens. In the parlance of their youth, can you dig it!? Women & the elderly have a special investment in opposing the austerity measures but they have always played a central role in social struggle. Today, with international communication that role can no longer be denied or buried. (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News)

The Gulabi gang of India

The Gulabi gang (named after the fluorescent pink saris they wear) was founded by Sampat Pal Devi in 2006 in Banda in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. They began as a sisterhood that became more a squad of vigilantes in response to widespread domestic, sexual, & governmental violence against women & they use bamboo sticks to threaten or punish abusive husbands & officials. They now claim 20,000 members across North India. In the style of Robin Hood, they protest child marriages, dowry, female illiteracy, & official corruption. Abusive husbands are negotiated with first, threatened, & then pummeled with the bamboo sticks if they persist in violence. In one notorious instance they ambushed the local utility office which was withholding electricity unless they received bribes or sexual favors, roughed up the staff, locked them out, & took off with the key until power was restored. An hour later, the power which had been withheld for over two weeks was back on. Their most daring exploit was hijacking trucks of food meant for the poor being taken to market for sale by corrupt officials.

The founder, Sampat Pal Devi is the daughter of a shepherd put to work on family land while her brothers went to school & married off at the age of 12 to a 20-year old-ice cream vendor she had never met. She had the first of her five children at 15 & was not allowed by her mother-in-law to stop having children until she produced a boy. She now has a long list of criminal charges against her, including unlawful assembly, rioting, attacking a government employee, & obstructing an officer in the discharge of duty. She is nevertheless a folk hero in the tradition of Phoolan Devi, a woman from the same region, known as the Bandit Queen of India who was gang-raped by upper caste men & led a gang of robbers in retribution on upper caste villagers.

Vigilantism is certainly preferable to the despondency of women taking out the violence on themselves through self-immolation or hanging. But political activism is an alternative to vigilantism. Much political heft can be thrown around with 20,000 women carrying bamboo sticks & trained to wield them. The Gulabi gang is only the most prominent female gang & is often favorably reported in the media. India is sustaining a rise of female vigilante groups--termed a “mini-revolution” by some journalists--who are taking things into their own hands. Though it’s hard to see the downside to this female militancy, more violent vigilantism has been reported elsewhere in India among dispossessed women. In 2004, hundreds of women brutally killed a serial rapist after the courts failed to convict him over a period of 10 years. The women collectively claimed guilt for the murder, making it difficult for the police to charge anyone for the crime.

The gut reaction to this phenomenon of women defending themselves is to cheer them on exuberantly, but there is a long, regrettable history to vigilantism that begins as self defense & doesn’t inform itself with a vision of transformation. It gets stuck in retribution & ends up in criminality. The Gulabi gang has the potential to move beyond retribution to political transformation & when they do, media coverage will be far less favorable. The linked article is an interesting portrait of some of the women in the gang. In this photo "Commander" Sampat Pal of the Gulabi gang teaches women how to wield the bamboo baton.  (Photo by Sanjit Das)

Kashmiri workers still demanding justice

Kashmiri government workers in Srinagar, India, have protested several times since April demanding payment of arrears in wages & to raise the retirement age by two years (because India has no social security net)--& they’re out again this week, met once again by cops with water cannons spraying purple dye. Using dye in water cannons is not new against government workers in Srinagar (it goes back to a strike in 2008) & is not exclusive to India. Several countries use it since it can identify protestors for arrest. In 1989, anti-apartheid protestors in South Africa being sprayed with purple water wrested the water cannon from cops & turned it back on them & government buildings--creating the anti-apartheid slogan, “The purple shall govern”. Dyes shot from water cannons are not non-violent weapons. Water cannons alone cause serious injuries, including broken bones, damage to internal organs, eye injuries. The chemical in purple dye is toxic & may cause skin rashes & cancer but will certainly cause eye injuries. (Indians have been warned not to use the same chemical during Holi, the Hindu color festival.) The combination of water cannon & dye can lead to any number of health hazards. Our fullest solidarity with the striking workers of Srinagar who were not just assaulted but also arrested. (Photo by Mukhtar Khan/AP)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Al fresco dining for working people

This scene of dumpster diving for food is now so common, you probably thought it was your own city, just up the block from your house. But in this case, it’s outside a grocery store in Bilbao, Spain. A Catholic church charity estimates more than 11 million people already live below the poverty level in Spain. That’s a quarter of it’s population (46,185,697) & includes children & the elderly! This is when you thank your lucky stars for rebellion like they’re demonstrating all over Spain & for the intransigence of those 8,000 miners in northern Spain who show no sign of flagging in their resistance to the austerity plans. This is when you see the power of solidarity & unity in opposing these attacks on working people.  (Photo by Vincent West/Reuters)

Housing is a human right

Migrant workers in New Delhi, India, sleep on the side of a road. As we have seen in so many countries, a huge percentage of the homeless are immigrants unable to afford exorbitant rents at the pitiful wages they earn for often backbreaking work. Immigration status & ability to pay should have no bearing whatsoever on access to housing. It is a human right & the most compelling need for millions of people in every country. Money for housing, not for war! And that holds just as true for India as it does the US & dozens of other countries.  (Photo by Kevin Frayer/AP)

A tribute to Li Wangyang

There is a very tragic story out of China which should not go unnoticed by all who respect & honor those who place themselves at risk & give their lives for the ideals of human freedom. Li Wangyang (photo on the left) was a worker in a glass factory & a labor rights activist who advocated & set up labor unions independent of Chinese government control. In 1989, Li pasted a poster on a Shaoyang city traffic sign urging a general strike to support the democracy movement throughout China that became known as Tiananmen Square. Following the massacre of activists by the military, Li organized a memorial for the victims. As a result of his fearless activities, he served 21 years in prison on charges of counterrevolutionary propaganda, incitement, & subversion. During that time, he was subject to hard labor, torture, beatings (which caused blindness & loss of hearing), solitary confinement. In May 2011, Li was released for reasons of poor health & checked into a hospital for treatment of diabetes & heart disease. His sister visited him daily. Last week on June 6th, Li was found hanged in his hospital room which officials declared a suicide--& there isn’t a single person outside of the Chinese government stupid enough to  believe that. Li remained outspoken until his death in demanding vindication of those massacred at Tiananmen Square. He could not be broken so they murdered him. Thousands of protestors (photo on the right) marched in Hong Kong (on June 10th) to mourn Li & to demand a formal criminal investigation of his death. The banner in the foreground reads, “Mourn.” We should all take a moment to honor this remarkable man. May he rest in peace; may his life & death keep us steadfast & inspire a whole new generation of freedom fighters not just in China but throughout the world.  (Photo by Vincent Yu/AP)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Prominent Indian musician cancels Israel appearance

Zakir Hussain, considered one of the world's most influential Indian musicians, cancels planned concerts in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, citing security concerns.

Zakir Hussain, an internationally known tabla (hand drum) player, who is considered one of the world's most influential Indian musicians, has canceled planned appearances in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv scheduled for July.

The reason given was fear for the personal security of Hussain and his musicians, due to tension in the region.

"He encountered strong objections to his visit to Israel, which manifested themselves in personal requests and an Internet petition that garnered signatures from more than 85 Indian artists," his managers said.

Ilan Pappé: the boycott will work

By Ilan Pappe

Ilan Pappe (Photo: Paula Geraghty)

Even before one begins to define more specifically what such outside pressure entails, it is essential not to confuse the means (pressure) with the objective (finding a formula for joint living). In other words, it is important to emphasize that pressure is meant to trigger meaningful negotiations, not take their place. So while I still believe that change from within is key to bringing about a lasting solution to the question of the refugees, the predicament of the Palestinian minority in Israel, and the future of Jerusalem, other steps must first be taken for this to be achieved.

What kind a pressure is necessary? South Africa has provided the most illuminating and inspiring historical example for those leading this debate, while, on the ground, activists and NGOs under occupation have sought nonviolent means both to resist the occupation and to expand the forms of resistance beyond suicide bombing and the %ring of Qassam missiles from Gaza. These two impulses produced the BDS campaign against Israel. It is not a coordinated campaign operated by some secret cabal. It began as a call from within the civil society under occupation, endorsed by other Palestinian groups, and translated into individual and collective actions worldwide.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

More reasons to change the world

Kibera is a neighborhood in the city of Nairobi, Kenya. It is the second largest slum in Africa & the third largest slum in the world. Residents are extremely impoverished, the area heavily polluted by garbage & contaminated by human & animal feces due to the open sewage system. Lack of sanitation combined with inadequate nutrition jeopardizes health, spreads diseases, & means 1 out of 5 children do not live to their 5th birthday. A government plan to move & rehouse the residents has been embroiled in controversy, frequently delayed, & at its present rate is estimated to take 1,178 years to complete. These children are on break at a school of 500 children where classrooms are falling apart & lacking basic needs such as electricity. But you wouldn’t know all that from the glorious smiles on these children’s faces--providing more compelling reasons to change the world.  (Photo by Ruben Salgado Escudero)

Now is the time to end child labor

Today (June 12th)  is World Day Against Child Labor 2012. In 2010, international organizations led by the the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted a resolution to end the worst forms of child labor by 2016. You don’t have to be a cynic to know they were blowing smoke since the trend in every single country is a dramatic increase in the most violent forms of child exploitation & homelessness. These agencies appear to exist for the sole purpose of promulgating lengthy treatises, delivering ceremonial homiletics on days like today, & resolutions up the wazoo that go nowhere. The ILO has offices in nearly 100 countries, a budget of millions of dollars & almost nothing to show for their efforts. When the Obama administration & the US Department of Labor recently refused to provide protective legislation to 800,000 child farm workers in violation of ILO Convention 182 (signed by President Clinton in 1999) there was nary a peep of protest from the ILO. But today their sentimental speeches will bring us to tears--& nausea. Child labor is an abomination involving extreme violence against children, as the face of this child so clearly shows. It is a priority to get our little brothers & sisters out of the factories, mines, brothels, hell-holes & back to school & playgrounds. Those who victimize children as labor should be prosecuted to the full extent of those ILO declarations. (Photographer not identified)

“Nature red in tooth & claw”

“Nature red in tooth & claw”: it’s not a pretty thing but you can’t fight it. Every day as I walk I pit myself against it’s unseemly predations, rescuing caterpillars from birds, wee birds from grackles, cats from dogs. I even had to pull dogs off a bird fallen from a nest. It’s one of nature’s least attractive features & this fierce little Indian myna doesn’t give a hoot as she feeds her babies an unfortunate grasshopper. (Photo by Parivartan Sharma/Reuters)

Anan, please bugger off!

Anan. Time for you to understand (hard, I know!) that you're unwelcome to comment on this site. Your "produce" from now on will be systematically deleted as is the case with all your past comments. If you still bother, you should understand that it takes me only seconds to delete what you spent hours laboring on. That would be moronic of you, wouldn't it?

Promises, promises!

There’ve been several protests in Bolivia in the past several months against the policies of Evo Morales who talks the rhetoric but doesn’t walk the walk of anti-neoliberalism. He’s been threatening to nationalize the mining industry since he was elected in 2006. Mining is the second largest source of export income in Bolivia & the largest employer after agriculture. Morales has tinkered with some legislation & made foreign investors nervous with his rhetoric but mining companies acknowledge very little limit is placed on their plunder of the immense natural mineral resources of Bolivia. To calm investor’s fears, JP Morgan revealed that while Morales is talking nationalization, Bolivia is sending delegations to mining investment conferences to solicit new private investment. Here, in La Paz, members of indigenous communities from the Mallku Kota region are attacked by cops during a protest against the mining operations on their lands by a Canadian mining company. The Malku Khota project in Bolivia is one of the world's largest undeveloped silver, indium and gallium deposits. These natural resources should be under the control of the people in that region & not private plunderers from Canada. Judging from the increased protests, Morales’ rhetoric is running out of steam. (Photo by Juan Karita/AP)

Afghan refugees from US-NATO war

The photographer, Muhammed Muheisen, has captured many moments of the 5 million Afghan refugees from the US-NATO war living in squalor in Pakistan. Most are of children. Some are poignant; some just show the beauty of children even in the harsh & unrelenting conditions of war, migration, & poverty. You will surely agree, this is the latter kind.  (Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

No justice, no peace!

Riot police used tear gas & water cannons to break up a protest yesterday against the screening of right-wing propaganda billed as a documentary honoring the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet violently took power in a US-backed 1973 coup that overthrew the democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende. The total number of people murdered, tortured, &  imprisoned for political reasons during Pinochet’s regime is estimated at over 40,000 including 3,100 executed & 1,200 disappeared. The film portrays Pinochet as a national hero who saved Chile from communism & who died hounded by radicals accusing him of human rights crimes. Members of the current government, along with many other public officials supported Pinochet’s dictatorship & of course, the military is still intact. About 700 military officials are accused of the disappearances of dissidents but nearly 40 years after the crimes, they are unlikely to face justice. Pinochet’s corpse has been rotting since 2006. He was never tried for his crimes. May his supporters never rest in peace until justice is addressed. (Reuters photo)

The popular response to scorched earth fiscal policies in the eurozone

Banks & euro backers are relieved & thrilled at the $125 billion Spanish bank bailout; Spanish working people not so much since it will entail even greater attacks on their standard of living, increase unemployment, homelessness, & impoverishment. While European finance ministers lauded the rescue, one media source reported with pitiful understatement “some protesters in Madrid shouted slogans against labour reform & the deal”. How about thousands have been protesting in the streets of Spain for days--not counting the striking miners in northern Spain!? Protestors are banging pots & pans & carrying placards which read, "This isn't a rescue, it's a fraud", "Hands up, this is a rescue", "Why should they rescue the banks when our children are starving?", "We don't owe, we don't pay". One woman protestor said, "This is not a rescue for Spain, it's a rescue for the rich. The poor will only get poorer and suffer even more in the months to come.” There are few photos that capture the scale of popular resistance to the strings-attached bailout but this photo of the miner’s strike captures the mood.

Cultural boycott of Israel is biting, but quietly, Israel Festival’s classical music advisor admits

The cultural boycott of Israel is beginning to bite, a prominent figure in Israel’s classical music world has admitted.

Gil Shohat, an Israeli composer and conductor, who is also the Classical Music Advisor to the Israel Festival and Artistic Advisor to Israel’s Red Sea International Classical Music Festival, told Israeli reporter Sharon Dubkin:

In the world of classical music things are neither in-your-face nor crass, by the very nature of classical art, which is more noble, quite, and introverted, but there are are choirs and opera companies which are not interested in coming to Israel. Even if they don’t say it’s because of the political issue, they prefer not to get involved in such a sticky situation. As a composer active on the world scene, I can testify that more than once projectsLink have been cancelled or postponed based on their ‘Israeliness.’ And again - these things are not said crassly, no one will say: we are conducting a boycott. The word boycott doesn’t exist, but the political situation of Israel also impacts this field. This is primarily true about larger projects, and less so regarding the activity of individual musicians.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Miko Peled (son of Israeli general Matti Peled): Debating the roots of Israel's Six-Day War

Israeli forces, 1967

On June 7, 1967, Israeli forces move through the Sinai as they press the attack on Egyptian troops. (Associated Press / June 8, 2012)

"The 1967 Israeli war was one of choice and conquest and not one of defense against an existential threat. The myth of the existential threat notwithstanding, Israel Defense Forces generals saw an opportunity to assert Israeli might against an ill-prepared Egyptian army, and as the generals anticipated, the destruction of the Egyptian forces was swift and relatively easy. This allowed them to then "finish the job" and take the West Bank and the Golan Heights, two regions that Israel had coveted for many years.

Even Menachem Begin, who was a member of the 1967 Cabinet and later prime minister, asserted: "Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

The IDF knowingly decided to perpetuate the notion of an existential threat. This scare tactic was helpful in applying public pressure against a hesitant government reluctant to give the green light for a preemptive strike against Egypt."

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US-NATO out now!

Afghanis gather at a house destroyed Wednesday in a NATO night bombing in Logar province. NATO officials claim several Taliban militants were killed in the bombing & 2 civilian women who suffered minor injuries were treated at a military facility. Afghani villagers say they were not Taliban militants at all but civilians gathered from out of town for a wedding party. They showed 18 bodies to reporters, including 5 women, 7 children, & 6 men. A news report claimed, “The differing casualty counts could not immediately be reconciled.”  That’s the way it is with NATO lies, night time bombing, & reckless disregard for human lives. Nothing can be reconciled. NATO dispatched a team ostensibly to investigate the discrepancies but since the US & NATO have still not come clean on the massacre of 17 Afghans last March, we can expect zilch to come from this except more lies. (If you recall, the Pentagon account claimed the massacre in March was the work of a lone gunman while Afghan witnesses said several soldiers were involved.) US war minister, Leon Panetta, was in Afghanistan at the time of the bombing criticizing Pakistan for inaction against al-Qaeda & threatening more US drone attacks in Pakistan to root out al-Qaeda. The US regime appears to be driven by an irrational compulsion to war & wreaking havoc & they must be stopped. 2014 is not soon enough for the withdrawal of troops. Demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO troops. (Photo by Ihsanullah Majroh/AP)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Homeless in Mumbai

Homeless in Mumbai, India: a homeless man & his child sleep on a sidewalk while striking Air India pilots walk a picket line. There’s an uncomfortable metaphor here. Airline pilots & other personnel were always privileged in relation to other working people, with substantial wages & benefits. But at least in the US, they have been under major assault since Ronald Reagan’s attack on air traffic controllers in 1981--which was a major turning point in US labor history. Now Air India & the Indian government have pulled a “Ronald Reagan” by firing the striking pilots after one month & hiring scabs to replace them. We don’t know who this homeless man is: is he unemployed or perhaps a migrant worker unable to afford housing? What we do know is that it’s a short step for most working people, now including pilots, from having a regular check that can accommodate rent to being homeless & sleeping on cardboard. What we know is that it’s an abomination this man & his wee child are sleeping on the streets. Housing is a human right & must become a battle cry in every country.  (Photo by Indranil Mukherjee/AFP)