Friday, August 31, 2012

Another reason to change the world

Don’t know who this little girl is or where she’s from but OMG, isn’t she another compelling reason to want to make the world a suitable place for her to live & love in!? (Luckily we know the photographer: Anthony Asael)

Separated at birth

They say you can't pick your relatives & no one knows that better than the warthog--but the resemblance is undeniable.  (Photographers not identified)

The bobblehead candidate

The talk of the town about the Republican convention is Clint Eastwood talking to a chair & saying unseemly things to Obama. People are blaming it on his age--as if geriatrics is an excuse for demented politics--but Eastwood has been politically daft for decades. If anything, talking to an imaginary enemy on national TV is an improvement on his past. The real highlight of the convention is that an assembly of registered voters selected a bobblehead as candidate for president--proving once again that any schmo with a million bucks & billionaire backers can become president of the US. It’s no longer an honor; it’s an ignominy. Here Bobblehead Romney poses with some of the bobbleheads who selected him. They’re hard to tell from the Stepford clan. (Photo by Mark Boster/LATimes)

PS: Criticism of Bobblehead Romney is not a back-handed endorsement of Obomba.

Deep in the heart of Texas

Little known historical & ironic fact: these Texas delegates at the Republican convention are almost certainly rabidly anti-immigration, proponents of deporting undocumented immigrants, building a higher border wall, & advocates of militarizing the border. The cowboy hat they are all wearing is of Mexican origin, as is the entire cattle culture of Texas. The US-Mexican War in 1846-48 is known as the first US foreign intervention. Most of the western part of the country had not yet been wrested from Native Americans although Mexico had long claimed much of the west through settlement. The US forcible annexation of Texas was central to its expansionism & that spirit has emboldened much of the idiocy coming out of the state ever since. The cowboy hat along with rodeos & barbeques stand as evidence of the expropriation of Mexican territory & culture. (Photo by Patrick Semansky/AP)

How we created 'the world's only prison where prisoners must provide for themselves'

"A Palestinian once told me that the Oslo deal was “a brilliant Israeli arrangement.” How so? I asked him. “It created the only prison in the world where the prisoners have to provide for themselves, without the management’s participation.” Israel has the authority of the sovereign in the territories – without the obligations. This situation is a direct result of the Oslo Accords."
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Yossi Gurvitz: The NYTimes has it wrong: Israel's roots are not liberal

Perhaps the greatest myth about Israel is the one the New York Times subscribes to: that it started out as a ‘liberal’ country committed to ‘human rights.’ An examination of the early days demonstrates that the country led by Ben-Gurion and Mapai was no progressive picnic.

Recently, the New York Times was bemoaning the declining state of democracy in Israel. My colleague Dahlia Scheindlin noted several errors in the facts cited by the paper. I was more struck by the concluding passage: “One of Israel’s greatest strengths is its origins as a democratic state committed to liberal values and human rights.”

This to me shows the basic misunderstanding of even a liberal-leaning newspaper regarding Israel’s foundations. The idea that Israel has “liberal roots” and institutions is perhaps the greatest success of the hasbara (state PR) campaign.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Greece: the transit point to hell

Evros in NE Greece on the border with Turkey is the main overland entry point into Europe from the Middle East, Asia, & Africa & receives about 80% of all migrants & asylum seekers to Europe. Many of the estimated 150,000 migrants who annually enter Greece have traveled thousands of miles from Iraq, Iran, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Algeria, Morocco, & now Syria. The reasons are, of course, the same: to escape from war, civil conflict, poverty, & to find a way to provide for their families back home. Because immigrants get stuck in Greece--unable to move forward due to EU immigration policies--the Greek government is condemned by UN & international human rights groups as the most “dysfunctional” political asylum system in the world. But in fact, the system works just the way it was designed: to prevent asylum in EU countries. Greece is the first but not the only flank of Fortress Europe--an iron curtain surrounding EU countries.

Although Greece is criticized by the EU (& human rights groups) for building a razor wire wall along the Greek-Turkish border, militarizing the border is a joint venture of the Greek military & Frontex troops assigned to police the border. Frontex is an EU military force (comprised of troops from EU countries) set up to control EU external borders. The Schengen Agreement abolished internal borders within the EU, enabling passport-free movement between many European countries (Schengen is now under review in some countries due to the surges in migration--as through Greece). Of course, the reason nearly a million immigrants are stuck in Greece & unable to move further into Europe is precisely because of EU policies. Frontex runs many joint maritime operations with coast guards from Spain to Greece to prevent boats of immigrants from landing on EU member state territories. It’s troops hunt down immigrants by land & sea & deliver them to detention centers along the border for eventual deportation. With an expanding Frontex mandate from the EU comes an expanded budget--growing from US$9 million in 2004 to US$120 million in 2010.

Frontex in Greece delivers immigrants, including unaccompanied minors (contrary to international law prohibiting detention of children), to detention centers with the most deplorable & inhumane conditions. Women & unaccompanied children are crammed into cells with men, there are insufficient or no mattresses, cells are flooded with sewage due to lack of or non-functioning toilets, thousands are sick from being held in overcrowded cells (three times capacity) without proper ventilation, water & sanitation, without quality food, or the possibility of spending time outdoors. Immigrants in detention are diagnosed with respiratory infections, body pains, diarrhea, gastrointestinal disorders, & skin diseases (which they did not have when incarcerated). And of course, many people who have suffered persecution & violence in their home countries have unattended mental health conditions. Greece is increasing the number of guards at the border fearing an influx of Syrian refugees as the situation in Syria deteriorates but also as part of operation “Xenios Zeus”, a nation-wide crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Xenios Zeus which began in early August & will continue daily is conducted in immigrant neighborhoods under the guise of a war on crime (from drug trafficking to prostitution to hiring the undocumented)

The government of Greece is fully culpable but the EU is putting the screws on Greece to accelerate its campaigns against immigrants & the EU shares full responsibility for the crimes against immigrants. Xenophobia is rising in Greece with more than 500 attacks on immigrants in the past six months. Conditions for immigrants are compared to a war zone with vigilantes, “citizens groups” (self appointed neighborhood watch units to get rid of migrants), & anti-immigrant posters posted around the cities. The courts have not prosecuted xenophobic & hate violence because victims are afraid to report (since they can face deportation or detention) & because it suits the political agenda of the EU & Greek government.

The impunity of hate-based crimes is because of the electoral success of Golden Dawn, (the right-wing anti-immigration party) & the involvement of Greek cops in assaults on immigrants. The growth of vigilante & police violence is alarming but what is heartening in all this treachery is the resistance of immigrant & Greek human & immigration rights activists & organizations who continue not only to document these crimes but to litigate against them & oppose them in daily protests. Our fullest respect for their courage & solidarity with their work. This is a photo of young Afghani men (boys really) who are caught in the hellish limbo of immigration in Greece. (Photo by Zalmai, an Afghani photojournalist who has documented the migration & miseries especially of Afghani immigrants in Greece)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Travesty of justice!

"Judge Gershon’s verdict is a travesty of justice but it is not exceptional. As a rule the Israeli legal system provides Israeli soldiers impunity to commit murder. The only Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter since the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 was Taysir Hayb, a Bedouin citizen of Israel for shooting British ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall in the back of the head with a sniper rifle as Tom was carrying a child to safety. At least 6,444 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces in this period, with no justice for them or their families."

Israeli Court Blames Rachel Corrie for Own Death!

rachel corrie

Rachel Corrie’s murder (Joseph Smith)

Richard Silverstein:
An Israeli court ruled in the past hour or so that neither the State nor the IDF is responsible for the death of Rachel Corrie. In fact, the judge claims that she herself was responsible. This is a case brought by Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy, in which they sought damages from the Israeli State for the negligence of the army in killing her when a bulldozer ran her over as she was protecting a home in Gaza from demolition.

Here is but one eyewitness report of what happened:

“She was standing on top of a pile of earth,” fellow activist and eyewitness Richard Purssell, from Brighton, said at the time. “The driver cannot have failed to see her. As the blade pushed the pile, the earth rose up. Rachel slid down the pile. It looks as if her foot got caught. The driver didn’t slow down; he just ran over her. Then he reversed the bulldozer back over her again.”

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Rachel Corrie Among First in Long Line of Foreign Rights Activists Murdered, Maimed by IDF

Richard Silverstein:
The list below was compiled by the Institute for Middle East Understanding and lists foreign peace activists brutally maimed or murdered by the IDF over the past nine years. It’s a list of ignominy. It should also be noted that hundreds of Palestinian activists have been similarly maimed or murdered in the same period under similar circumstances at anti-Occupation protest rallies throughout the West Bank:
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Visualising the Occupation: Divide and Conquer

Despite sharing a national identity, the Palestinian people are parceled into differential categories along geographical, socioeconomic, humanitarian, political and civilian lines determined by Israel: Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship, residents of East Jerusalem, those living in the West Bank, those in the Gaza Strip, and the refugees. In this seventh illustration in a series of infographics on Palestinian civilian life under occupation, see the divisions that dictate Palestinian existence.

By Michal Vexler

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Desmond Tutu refuses to share a platform with Tony Blair

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has withdrawn from an event later this week in Johannesburg because he feels he cannot share a platform with Tony Blair.

The retired archbishop, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his campaigning against apartheid, said that he had withdrawn from the event because he found the former prime minister's support for the invasion of Iraq to be "morally indefensible".

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The struggle in Bahrain continues

Children in Sitra, Bahrain pass wall posters denouncing David Cameron & Barack Obama as criminals. On the lower right of Cameron’s mug shot is a photo of John Yates, a corrupt UK cop famous for his use of wire-tapping & police surveillance. On the lower right of Obama’s mug shot is a photo of John Timoney, a US cop notorious for militarized methods against peaceful protestors, including use of rubber bullets, Tasers, concussion grenades, pepper spray, tear gas, electrified riot shields, baton charges, & police agents. 

Late last year, an international commission found Bahrain’s police & military used excessive force, torture, summary execution, & countless other violations of human rights to crush the democracy movement. Hamad al-Khalifa, the hereditary dictator, publicly swore to reform police & military to conform to “international standards” & (in an act of colossal hypocrisy) he hired Yates & Timoney to oversee the reform. The US & UK have both been involved in Bahraini military & intelligence training for decades (including training Saudi national guards deployed in force against protestors in Bahrain last spring). Along with Yates, a team from Scotland Yard is training & directing the al-Khalifa police force. The UK has a long history of orchestrating police violence in Bahrain--from 1966 to 1998, Ian Henderson, a former British colonial officer led Bahrain’s secret police, gaining the sobriquet, “Butcher of Bahrain” because of the extreme kinds of torture used against thousands of dissidents, including children. Repeated calls for the UK to prosecute Henderson under international law have been ignored because of Britain’s close ties with the Bahraini dictatorship. Both the US & UK have economic, political, military, & strategic interests in Bahrain which conflict with the democratic needs of the Bahraini people.

The US & UK are not just providing thugs to train death squads but are exporting arms to the Bahraini regime which is conducting an all-out war against the democracy movement--& is by no means trying to reform the police. None of the recommendations of the international commission to address the extensive human rights violations are implemented. US & UK support & complicity has emboldened the regime to escalate violence & repression; they use special force units to target & round up human rights activists; death squads; torture, beatings, kidnappings, disappearances (including of children); indiscriminate but methodical use of tear gas in residential areas (termed “carpet gassing”) resulting in maiming, blinding, deaths; incarceration; house raids; road check points for routine stops, searches, & intimidation. 

The Bahraini revolution nevertheless continues unabated with protests every day all over the country. It is a massive, deep, fearless rebellion--no matter how persistently western media ignores it. Yates insists criminals are attacking unarmed police & claims kettling would work really well in Bahrain in the face of such “wanton damage” & vandalism. Timoney & the regime claim the repression is necessary because protests were making traffic difficult. They may be the only case where the “banality of evil” is a suitable expression. When the protestors made the mug shots of Cameron & Obama prominent over that of the henchmen, Yates & Timoney, they have the relationship exactly right. This butchery of the democratic movement in Bahrain is the primary responsibility of the US & UK regimes. Our fullest solidarity with the people of Bahrain in their struggle against tyranny.  (Photo by Hasan Jamali/AP)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fond memories of the great Moebius

Moebius (Jean Giraud. 1938 – 2012) French illustrator and one of the uncontested greatest comic artists.

Harry the Nazi

Some will say it’s wrong to kick a man when he’s down--but those some are just kill joys & not practiced in the art of warfare. Betty Windsor had big plans for this jubilee--to get beyond decades of “anni horribilis” & restore some dignity to a long-discredited feudal institution run by a mutant breed of indolent, racist bums. HHHHairy just blew those plans out of the water & the farce just keeps getting better. All those charity missions & mixing with the sweaty plebeians down the drain! More’s the pity! CNN calls HHHHairy madcap (amusingly eccentric is so damning) & rogue but give more attention to his party boy ways than they gave to him parading in a Nazi uniform & making racist aspersions.

Employment offers suitable for HHHHairy are pouring in & it’s about time: Playgirl magazine wants him to pose nude for their cover & a porno company asked him to star in a movie. The letter of invitation said,  "We assure you the sex will be well-scripted & the crown jewels will not be minimized in any way." In comparison to his brain they’ll look immense. Rupert Murdoch, who makes his fortune invading other people’s privacy, published the in flagrante photos while he advises us to give the guy some slack. But of course, HHHHairy’s ass will sell papers & Murdoch can try to make phone-hacking & invasion of privacy a matter of freedom of speech.

Did you know HHHHairy is still a full-time officer of the British army? The military plans on giving him a reprimand & encouraging him to donate 2 weeks wages to charity. Oh that’ll really teach him! To reduce his impact on the jubilee propaganda extravaganza, they’re sending him back to pose for photos in a fox hole in Afghanistan. HHHHairy holds a Queen’s Commission which is an officer’s commission (& the worst case of nepotism you ever heard) & an authorization from the British government to command troops. Eyeyey!  Anybody who follows HHHHairy into battle is a damned fool--which is why it’s probably best to keep him in the bars.

Last May, an organization of US war criminals, including Henry Kissinger & Colin Powell, gave him a Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership award for his work with veterans. (That was just at the time the UK was stripping 500,000 injured military veterans of disability benefits in the austerity budget.) Word is they’re cooking up  another phony award to give him; the ceremony will be held in the Washington strip club where they all hang out.

HHHHairy’s reportedly quite contrite & feels he let himself down. Many share his regrets though few his disappointment. With HHHHairy, ignominy abounds; shame not so much. All in all, if you have to choose between HHHHairy in a Nazi uniform or buck naked, most would wish he just went away altogether.  (Photo from Sun newspaper)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Israeli soldiers expose plight of Palestinian children

An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother   during a  protest over land confiscation  in al-Nabi Saleh.

An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh. Photo: AFP

"So there's a school there. We'd often provoke riots there. We'd be on patrol, walking in the village, bored, so we'd trash shops, find a detonator, beat someone to a pulp, you know how it is. Search, mess it all up. Say we'd want a riot? We'd go up to the windows of a mosque, smash the panes, throw in a stun grenade, make a big boom, then we'd get a riot."

Ex Israeli soldiers admit to appalling violence against Palestinian children

"We were sort of indifferent. It becomes a kind of habit. Patrols with beatings happened on a daily basis. We were really going at it. It was enough for you to give us a look that we didn't like, straight in the eye, and you'd be hit on the spot. We got to such a state and were so sick of being there."
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Overview of the week: Theft, Dispossession, Ethnic cleansing and other Israeli niceties in the occupied West Bank

Land Theft / Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Racism

1-IOA approves new settlement project in occupied Jerusalem
Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) approved a project to build a new settlement neighborhood in Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) settlement, including the construction of 68 housing units.
2-IOA plans to confiscate citizens' lands in Tulkarem and al-Khalil
Israeli occupation authorities handed residents in the village of Wadi al-Ghrous in al-Khalil notifications to confiscate seven dunums of their lands for building a settlement road.
Further House demolitions are set to take place after Israeli occupation authorities issued demolition orders for two homes in Beit Ommar, Hebron on Wednesday. The Israeli Civil Administration officials, accompanied by soldiers, issued the orders to Younes Z’Aqeq and Jawed Awad, whose homes are located near to the Karmei Tzur colony. Z’Aqeq and Awad have all the legal documents required to prove ownership of their land. These new demolitions follow the news, in June, that five homes and two wells in Beit Ommar are also to be destroyed.
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Settlers destroyed agricultural crops in two Ramallah villages on Saturday, locals said. Farmer Ramadan Sabri Abu Kamish told Ma'an that settlers from Hallamish uprooted trees and destroyed crops belonging to Jammala and Deir Ammar villages, northwest of Ramallah. The settlers damaged the land using sharp tools, Abu Kamish said, adding that he pleaded with the settlers to stop but that they didn't listen and said he should complain to the police. Around a dunam and a half of land was damaged, representing a financial loss of 60,000 shekels ($15,000), he added.
5-Jewish settlers ruin olive trees south of Al-Khalil
A gang of Jewish settlers from Havat Maon settlement at dawn Saturday destroyed about 40 olive trees in Al-Hamra area of Tuwani village south of Al-Khalil city.
It was in 1992 that the people of al-Nu’man, a Palestinian village between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, realized that their land had been pulled away from underneath their feet. Unwillingly annexed, no rights granted. Prior to 1967, al-Nu’man had been a tiny dot on the edge of the Bethlehem governorate. After the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it was decided by the Israeli government that the village would serve a higher purpose within the Jerusalem governorate, where its land would prove to be useful for the inevitable ‘natural growth’ of Har Homa – an Israeli illegal Israeli settlement built in 1967 and in constant expansion.
An Israeli bus driver refused to take Palestinian passengers on board, was ordered to do so by police, and took his revenge by forcing them off the bus at the entrance to a settlement. The bus company: “The driver acted exactly as expected of him.”
As Ramadan 2012 draws to a close, garbage is piled high throughout the streets of East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Municipality continues to refuse thousands of tax-paying Palestinian residents of the city basic council services such as rubbish collection, forcing many to take waste disposal into their own hands and burn their rubbish in garbage cans. Ein al-Adha, the feast marking the end of Ramadan, was clouded with dangerous smoke this year, composed not only of waste from Palestinian residents, but additional waste dumped in their garbage cans by Israeli settlers.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hawaiian independence from US occupation

August 21, 1959 is the date the US tried to render the theft of Hawaii legitimate by declaring it a state. There is no media coverage of the Native Hawaiian independence movement & no honest history taught in US schools of the forcible acquisition of Hawaii by the US military in league with plantation owners & agribusiness companies. Following the overthrow of Hawaiian rulers in 1893, the entire archipelago was annexed by the US. In 1959, statehood was fraudulently created in a popular vote on the question, "Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the Union as a State?" Those qualified to vote were US citizens who had resided in Hawaii for at least one year. In the 66 years since the US occupation & annexation, thousands had migrated to Hawaii, many stationed with the US occupying army. Any Hawaiians who took up US citizenship were eligible to vote but those who refused to adopt US citizenship & instead declared themselves Hawaiian citizens were ineligible. That’s how Hawaii became the 50th state of the US--through fraud, chicanery, & theft. Though Hawaiians continue to fight for self-determination & against the unlawful occupation, they are now less than 10% of the population, with many forced into diaspora on the mainland. Since the Hawaiian language is one of the cultural devastations of the occupation & diaspora, there is no way to say in Hawaiian,  “the struggle continues”, la lucha continúa! Israel Kamakawiwoʻole was an advocate of Hawaiian rights, language, & independence:
(Photo from Zinn Education Project)

This is Israel but you wouldn't know it following US media

Israeli troops hold two Palestinian girls back as they cry following the arrest of their mother during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in protest against the theft of their land to expand the nearby illegal Jewish settlement of Halamish on August 24, 2012. The weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh began at the end of 2009, following a years-long legal battle with residents of Halamish illegal settlement who in 2001 seized around 240 acres (100 hectares) of the villagers' land. AFP PHOTO/ABBAS MOMANI

Guardian dumps Joshua Treviño

Joshua Trevino

Joshua Trevino

Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada)

Citing his failure to disclose a major conflict of interest, The Guardian has dumped Joshua Treviño, nine days after it announced it had hired him as a columnist.

The announcement came as outrage from Guardian readers continued to grow over his history of incitement and hate speech directed against Palestinian solidarity activists, Muslims and others.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Grand larceny continues in Haiti

Kerlayn Edmond & her baby evacuate their tent city in Tabarre, Haiti to seek shelter from Tropical Storm Isaac which is tonight pelting Haiti. Over a million Haitians still live in tents & makeshift housing after the January 2010 earthquake--despite millions of dollars in international aid collected from well-meaning people by the International Red (double) Cross, the Clinton-Bush Foundation, & the 10,000 other NGOs operating there. The theft is done under the guise of charity, under the leadership of Bill Clinton, & with the protection of UN troops & the intent is to turn Haiti into a vassal state. Solidarity with the Haitian people means demanding US out of Haiti! (Photo by Patrick Farrell/The Miami Herald)

Daughters fight to save mother from arrest in Nabi Saleh

Israeli soldiers arrest Nariman Tamimi, as her daughters try to prevent the arrest. Tamimi was taken at the entrance to Nabi Saleh's water spring on August 24, 2012, during the weekly protest against the occupation held in the village. (Photo: Oren Ziv/
(Photo: Oren Ziv/
tamimi3(Photo: Oren Ziv/
tamimi4(Photo: Oren Ziv/

Women farmers take on agribusiness

Farming is the oldest profession for women & they continue to play a leading role in agriculture around the world--including in defending traditional farming from the encroachments of neoliberal agriculture (plantation monoculture) for the export market. In South Korea, farmers actively opposed the Free Trade Agreement between South Korea & the US (KORUS FTA) because it would flood the South Korean market with cheaper, government subsidized US agricultural products & undermine family farming. Despite farmer opposition, both the US & South Korean parliaments ratified the agreement last fall (Oct. & Nov.). US agribusiness has now gained total access to the South Korean agricultural market, with over half of Korea’s food imports now coming from the US. Yesterday, women farmers from across the country came to Seoul to demand the government scrap free trade negotiations with China, which the farmers say would be a “nuclear bomb” for family farms. The political activism of Korean farmers has long been a thorn in the side of the international agribusiness industry (Monsanto, Cargill, et al) because the resistance of small farmers & indigenous peoples around the world obstructs the control of the global food supply by only five corporations. Our fullest  solidarity & respect for their leadership.  (Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Coal mining is dirty business all around

Take a look at these young men loading coal into trucks at a rail station in Jammu, India.--not a one wearing safety gear or masks. How many generations has it been since doctors first identified black lung disease? It was diagnosed as far back as 1822--nearly 200 years! Black lung disease is caused by inhaling coal dust; it is debilitating, often fatal, & there is no cure. According to substantial data, people in coal mining communities have increased risk for many chronic illnesses, skin disease, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such as emphysema (that means they can’t breath), fibrosis & necrosis of lung tissue, high blood pressure, high mortality rates. All these health threats to people with little access to health care, eating inadequate diets, & living in poor housing conditions! This isn’t just a problem with coal mine operations in Jammu, India but among coal miners all over the world--& the reckless disregard for their lives is getting worse. In the US, black lung disease kills over 1,000 coal miners a year; in China it kills over 6,000 miners a year. And those are probably underestimates! Black lung cases in the US have more than doubled in the past 15 years because safety laws have been strip mined in the interests of increasing production. Coal mining isn’t just dirty energy; it’s dirty business all around when you subject millions of young workers to health problems & premature death. Wielding the scientific data as a weapon, unions need to do their job & mobilize their ranks to insure safety protections are a first priority. Keep in mind, the coal operators in India just got a $34 billion windfall from the Indian government when it allocated licenses without auctioning them. So they’re rolling in dough & more than able to provide these young men with safety gear.  (Photo by Jaipal Singh/EPA)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mother and daughter killed while waving white flags– Israel finds no crime

Philip Weiss
Rayah Abu Hajaj (in this family photo) and her daughter Majedah were shot while walking with a group of Palestinians holding white flags after their home was bombed during Israel's 'Operation Cast Lead' in the Gaza Strip in 2009. The charges against the soldier -- known only in court documents and the Israeli media as "staff sergeant S" -- were reduced from 'manslaughter' to 'using a weapon illegally'. In addition, as the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem points out, the deal does not recognize guilt for the killing of Majedah and Rayah Abu Hajaj, but rather punishes the soldier for the "killing of an unidentified individual.
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HHHHairy goes a courtin'

Who can refrain from comment on HHHHairy’s escapades in Las Vegas? HHHHairy was caught in flagrante delicto & who the hell cares? Well there are over 4,000 articles on Google & this is not a slow news day. The Vegas travel bureau wants “what happens in Vegas to stay in Vegas,” but the English people should have an accounting of how the money stolen from education & health care is being spent by Betty & her indolent family. A photo of his bare butt will not be posted here but it should be said that photos of HHHHairy cavorting naked are just as unlikeable as those phony pictures of him in a fox hole in Afghanistan. (Photo from

Memorial meeting for slaughtered miners in South Africa

Today, mine workers held a memorial service at the Lonmin Platinum mine, the site where one week ago police massacred 34 striking miners & injured 78 others. Those who have interviewed surviving miners & who have investigated the scene conclude it was a premeditated ambush by the cops--who encircled & assaulted miners with armored vehicles, horses, water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, & live ammo on ground & from helicopters. Not only have women & miner’s families been protesting but two meetings earlier this week involved up to 15,000 workers & families who pledged to continue the strike. South Africa has one of the most unionized work forces in the world & (despite the corruption of its union leadership) has a long history in anti-apartheid struggle. This attack is energizing the struggle for social justice & not just in South Africa. That’s why the media lies against the miners have been so egregious. Once again, they might have picked the wrong people to mess with; this may be where neoliberal plunder in South Africa meets its Waterloo. (Photo by Themba Hadebe/AP)

Homeless in New Delhi

Homeless in New Delhi, India: homeless men sleep in an old water fountain, of course with no bathing or toilet facilities. With 1.22 billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world (after China) & has an estimated 78 million homeless, mostly living in urban areas. India also has the second fastest growing economy in Asia & has been called the “poor little rich country” since immense wealth coexists with extreme poverty. India has 55 billionaires & this is the first year in the past several when at least two of them have not been among the richest people in the world. Most of them made their fortunes in construction, real estate, steel, & technology. But they’re not building affordable housing. And while India does not have affordable housing, they do operate a space program, possess enormous natural resources, & have millions of working people who need jobs. In the past two decades, the homeless population has doubled, including migrants not just from other countries but from rural areas in India who all come to cities for work. They cannot afford urban rents because much of their income supports families back home. In 2003, a UN program claimed that 95% of urban space in India was maintained for the benefit of the most privileged 5% of the population & in fact, gentrification programs have massively increased homelessness (& is probably implicated in the huge number of slum fires). Many have reported on the rampant corruption & land scams among politicians & urban development authorities where land intended for affordable housing is sold to politicians & social elite. A current scandal involves the Indian government selling coal fields to private companies without competitive bidding; this gave the coal companies a windfall profit of $34 billion from the low prices they paid. $34 billion would build a lot of affordable housing. Housing isn't just a crying need; it's a human right!  (Photo by Kevin Frayer/AP)

A Tea Partier Decided To Pick A Fight With A Foreign President. It Didn't Go So Well.

Most amazing public bitch slap I've heard in years!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Corporate idiocy: too stupid to run this world

The Conga mine project is in Cajamarca, one of Peru’s most heavily mined regions. The project is an extension of the nearby Yanacocha mine, Latin America's largest gold mine, which is nearing the end of production. Local environmental activists, residents, farmers, & even city dwellers downstream have been battling with the mining company for years because the cyanide solution it uses has contaminated the water sources, killing off wildlife, causing illnesses in livestock, & loss of plant life. In 2000, a Newmont truck spilled mercury, contaminating three towns & poisoning over 900 people. Litigation over the incident involved 1,100 plaintiffs. One wonders then who the mining company (Newmont Corp.) was directing this billboard to; it reads: "What really contaminates the water? Throwing trash in the river contaminates water; modern mining does not contaminate. Taking care of the water in Cajamarca is everyone's responsibility." The cynicism rivals the comedic but is outflanked by the idiocy. Does Newmont Corp. think it’s killed off all intelligent life in the region? Or is it trying to? Or is Newmont proving it is simply too stupid to run a mine? (Photo by Participatory Learning)

Gold rush in Peru

Farmers & local residents in Mamacocha Lagoon, Peru, are protesting the $4.8 billion Conga gold & silver mining project, considered to be the largest mining investment in the history of Peru & the second largest gold mine in the world. It is a joint venture between a Peruvian company, the World Bank (which provided $150 million in development loans), & Newmont Mining, a US corporation. Newmont is the majority owner; it is also the second largest gold mining company in the world. So there’s a lot of money & global power tied up in this operation. There’s been some wrangling among government officials about the environmental impact of the mine but it has granted all permits & concessions. Thousands of residents have faced tear gas & police violence in opposing the project. Late last year, expansion plans for the mine were suspended due to the opposition but residents continued to pressure the Peruvian government to renounce & permanently cancel it. Residents claim--with the weight of overwhelming evidence from gold mining around the world--that the project will destroy the 20 lagoons which serve as a foundation for local ecosystems, as a source of water for farming irrigation, & as a source of water for human consumption. Gold mining has created environmental havoc all over Africa, Latin America, Australia, & several other places. Scientific data on mercury & cyanide contamination from the reckless practices of multinational mining companies piles a mile high. It takes two ounces of extremely toxic mercury to produce a single ounce of gold. That means tons of mercury (used to separate gold from rock) is used in a single mining operation--spreading the poison & directly threatening the health of miners & local residents. The struggles of farmers & indigenous peoples around the world against these mining multinationals have put them in the leadership of the environmental movement & made them stewards of Mother Earth. You can lend your support by contacting Newmont on FB & voicing your objection to their plunder: or you can contact them by email at:
(Photo by Martin Mejia/AP)

From the archives of the fight against apartheid

From the archives of the US Civil Rights Movement: the mug shot of Rosa Parks, taken December 1, 1955 after her arrest for defying US apartheid (called Jim Crow laws). Parks, who was a civil rights activist, lost her job as seamstress at a department store because of her action. She will be forever honored for her leadership & courage.  (Photo courtesy of Montgomery, Alabama police department)

A good Jew hates Arabs

Haaretz- Zvi Bar'el
Hatred of Arabs is part of the test of loyalty and identity that the state gives its Jewish citizens - a loyal Israeli will leave an Arab to die, because 'he's an Arab'.LinkThe haste with which some are tying the violence perpetrated in Jerusalem last week to the corrupting influence of the occupation is superfluous. The horrifying quote from one of the teenage suspects, that Julani, nearly beaten to death, "could die for all I care - he's an Arab," is not a result of the occupation. It's an inseparable part of the culture, which may have been fashioned somewhat by the occupation. But to hate Arabs and to want them dead; to stand aside, as dozens of passersby did in this case without intervening; to arrest a sick Palestinian, as one policeman has done, and leave him to die - that's already a worldview.
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"Khaled Fahmy and Arabic books in the West"

From the Angry Arab:
"Regarding this interesting note on Arabic books at Western libraries by Khaled Fahmy in Jadaliyya. Yes, he has a point regarding lamentations and sorrow when you see the Arabic collections (especially when it is rarely used or opened as in the Widener Library at Harvard University). But Fahmy forgot the other side of the story: how Western universities through their orientalists looted many of the local libraries of the Middle East. Philip Hitti, for example, used to travel in Syria and Lebanon and offer very little money for valuable manuscripts: the value of which he knew but did not inform its owners about. Many universities have dispatched librarians who purchased family collections and again would underpay for them."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tammam Azzam. Contemporary Syrian artist

Iraqi artist Mohammed Msayyer

Mass Graves. 2003

Zionism is ethnic cleansing & a culture of violence

Last Thursday in Jerusalem, a group of Israeli teens chased four Palestinian teens shouting racial insults including “Death to Arabs”. One Palestinian tripped & fell & a mob of Israeli teens beat & kicked him until he was comatose while hundreds of bystanders watched the assault without intervening. By Monday, seven Israeli teenagers were in custody accused of what is described by police & media as an attempted “lynching". Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is a foundational principle of Israel. Just in the last several days, one can come up with hundreds of instances of Zionist violence against Palestinians: bombing & the continued siege of Gaza, bulldozing of villages in the West Bank, violence against Palestinians by Zionist settlers expropriating Palestinian lands, a firebomb thrown by a Zionist settler at a Palestinian taxi. Not to mention incarceration of hundreds of Palestinians, including nearly 250 children. US media is the very soul of credulity (i.e., hypocrisy) in reporting this vicious incident of apartheid. The NBC headline is “Israelis fret over 'lynching' of Palestinian”. “Fret”!? They go on to report minister of terror, Benjamin Netanyahu’s condemnation of the attack (& they do it with a straight face). The architect of terrorism thunders, "This is not our way, it goes against our values & we strongly condemn it.” But of course, what he really means is, “Oh crap we got caught this time. What would a sensate human say?” NBC does report that Zionist violence against Palestinians is so egregious that (imagine this!) the US State Department now labels it as terrorist, a “catchphrase that is rarely applied to Jews”. Adding poignancy to hypocrisy, NBC reports that an Israeli medical student administered medical aid to the “lynched” Palestinian just to show that things in apartheid are not all “black & white”. Enter the NY Times--the reasonable, suave voice of Zionism! Their report says Jerusalem is “home to about 500,000 Jews & some 300,000 Palestinians, who mostly coexist peacefully though with a constant undertone of political & religious tension. Most of the Palestinians, who chose not to be Israeli citizens but carry Jerusalem residency cards, live in the eastern sector of the city that was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war & later annexed in a move that has not been internationally recognized.” Don’t those lies make you want to weep!? This lynching crime is not an anomaly that requires psychoanalysis or hand-wringing or God-forbid, more false postmortems. This is apartheid, this culture of violence is the progeny & dead end political strategy of Zionism. For those who oppose apartheid & ethnic cleansing, boycott all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729). (Photo of Israeli suspects by Ohad Zwigenberg/AFP/Getty Image)

'Lenny Kravitz cancels Israel performance'

The “half Jewish, half black” musician cancels Tel Aviv show .

Lenny Kravitz
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Iraqi artist Rassmee Al-Khafaji

Contemporary Iraqi artist Rassmee Al-Khafaji

Feel free to throw horse manure

Comments made just in the past week by US & UK politicians on the issue of rape indicate not only their remedial need for the sex education programs they oppose; they also exhibit an unspeakable misogyny & cavalier disregard for violence against millions of women & children & encourage people to take the crime of rape as just a misunderstanding:

George Galloway, the liberal British politician disgraced himself beyond measure when he said, “A reign of intellectual terror has descended on this subject {rape}." Rape charges against Julian Assange "might be really sordid & bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning." And again, “I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.” So rape is equated with picking your nose at the dinner table?

In defending his no-exception view of abortion, Missouri congressman, Todd Akin said: “From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something....the punishment ought to be on the rapist & not attacking the child.”

While interviewing Todd Akin on his radio program, US politician & former presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee pointed out the upside of rape: “From those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable & indefensible, life has come & sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things." True enough, if  he weren’t using this to justify his anti-abortion stance.

Not to be outdone by male politicians, female Fox news commentator, Liz Trotta said of US military women who are assaulted & raped, “What did they expect?”

Despite the rancid misogyny of politicians & media, rape is a personal & political weapon of control & terror. In many places it is used by the dominant nationality to subordinate the oppressed (as against Dalits in India); in many places it is a weapon of war (as the armies of the blood diamond & mineral merchants do in DR Congo); in the US military, rape statistics of enlisted women are staggering while commanders turn a blind eye; in US prisons, filled with thousands of Black & Latino youth on minor drug charges, rape is a fixture & has become a popular joke. But there is nothing funny about it; it is a horrific, violent crime even if political misleaders do not care. Contrary to Galloway’s claim, a “reign of intellectual terror” has not descended on this subject. But it needs to. Prior to the women’s liberation movement, rape was an unrecognized crime; victims were not protected by law, perpetrators were not prosecuted. Feminism dragged it out of the shadows, exposed that sexual crimes were against children as well as women--& women began making inroads in legal protection for rape victims. After the women’s movement was railroaded into the Democratic Party, much of that progress  ended. Nevertheless, as a result of that groundwork, rape victims, including child victims, have legal redress. But it is high time women & our supporters go on the march again & in fact, create that “reign of terror” against those who would violate the bodies of women & children--& those who would defend it.

Postscript: The uproar against Akin has compelled him to make a public apology. It won’t be accepted, not even if he crawls on his belly like a reptile. His photo is posted so you can recognize & avoid him--& to make it easy for you to throw horse manure at him. (Photographer not identified)

And to this day nobody has been accountable

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is this darling, or what!?

Posted as a reminder of why the world needs changing--so these wee lads will grow up in a world suitable for human beings to live & love in. (Photographer not identified)

US 'should hand over footage of drone strikes or face UN inquiry'

The UN special rapporteur on human rights to urge establishing a mechanism to investigate such killings
The Imdependent
Mr Emmerson, a leading London barrister and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, said America is facing mounting global pressure over its use of UAVs and he is preparing a report for the next session of the Human Rights Council in March. The issue, he insists, will “remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved”.
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Immigration is a human right

This young family & 49 other immigrants were traveling in an inflatable boat trying to reach the coast of southern Spain when they were intercepted by Spanish border guards & the Red Cross a few miles off Alboran Island. Their countries were not identified except as sub-Saharan. In a matter of days, they’ll likely be deported. These are the faces of modern immigration. These are the kind of people Greek police are rounding up & deporting in a manner reminiscent of Nazi storm troopers. These are the kind of people trying to cross the US-Mexico border & dying in unspeakable misery. These are the same kind of people the Obama administration is rounding up & deporting in record numbers. In the US, the immigration rights movement is the most active social movement today (even larger than the antiwar movement) & has the potential to help revitalize a moribund labor movement--since it’s comprised mostly of working people & people who know how to fight for their rights. The labor movements in European countries appear to need some of that same energy & should begin with defending immigration rights as human rights. Open the borders! (Photo by Paquet/EPAT)

Striking & grieving miners ordered back to work

People around the world are horrified & rendered speechless by the massacre of 34 South African miners last Thursday. Eighty-seven other miners were injured & their families not informed how severely or if they were dead or arrested. Imagine how the community must be reeling from this barbarism & from grief! South African President Jacob Zuma declared a week of mourning but what the hell good is that when Lonmin mine owners ordered the 3,000 surviving strikers back to work today under threat of dismissal!? Why didn’t the government move in troops to force Lonmin to back down? But it only gets worse from there, exposing even more the governments utter depravity as thugs for multinational corporate predators. Court proceedings began today for 259 miners arrested on charges of murder, attempted murder, & assault. Under neoliberal predation, there’s no time for grief & no delay in scapegoating the victims of violence. Though the media still can’t get the facts of the story straight (today Reuters reported one of the ten people killed prior to the police massacre was a union shop steward who was “hacked to death”), they do have the propaganda against the miners all lined up & they’ll repeat it til the cows come home & everybody thinks it’s fact. It’s all about miners “armed with spears, machetes & handguns” & the battle between the unions, & “memories of apartheid-era violence”. Let’s cut the crap! The machete & hacking thing is to evoke white supremacist garbage about African “savages”, the unions (although extremely culpable in this massacre) do not run the cops, & this isn’t about apartheid violence--it’s about neoliberal violence that treats working people like chattel. “You work so very hard for very little pay. It is almost like death,” said one striking miner. The great strength of South African working people is that they fought a long, relentless battle against apartheid; they have experience in struggle & may not be the people to mess with. This may be where neoliberalism in Africa meets its Waterloo. We need to find ways to support our brothers & sisters in the gulag of South African mining & those now being prosecuted for crimes committed by Lonmin & the South African government. (Photo of protesting family members by AFP/Getty Images)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Another Humanitarian Day; another photo op for Jolie

Today is World Humanitarian Day. The UN designated this day to commemorate the 2003 bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff members. May they RIP but the UN shouldn’t have been there in the first place giving aid & assistance to an occupying army. The UN boasts that only the US deploys more military personnel than them--though they call their occupying armies, “peacekeepers”. That hasn’t fooled the people of Haiti or DR Congo or elsewhere, who want them out. As of May 2012, they had over 121,000 troops deployed in 17 countries on 4 continents (a 9-fold increase since 1999). They also operate “field missions” (like the one in Baghdad) in 15 other countries. They use right-wing movie stars like Angelina Jolie to peddle their propaganda about humanitarian missions. She took time out from her busy schedule of promoting US intervention in Syria to pose--all color-coordinated & in red carpet makeup--for a full gallery of photos so we can see just how much she cares. This is where her acting skills completely fail her since you can’t peddle war out of one side of your mouth & philanthropy out of the other. It might also be said, philanthropy is no substitute for social transformation--but it sure is another good photo op!  (Photo from US Embassy New Delhi)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

For first time, U.S. State Department defines settler violence as terrorism

A Palestinian mosque vandalized in a "price tag" attack in the West Bank village of Jaba.
A Palestinian mosque vandalized in a "price tag" attack in the West
Bank village of Jaba, June 19, 2012.
Photo by Shirat Granot
In annual report on terrorism in foreign countries, U.S. government report defines so-called 'price-tag' attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank as acts of terror.
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Settlers hurl Molotov cocktails at Palestinian family

HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Five Palestinians were seriously injured on Thursday after Israeli settlers threw Molotov cocktails at their car south of Bethlehem, medics said. Read more