Monday, December 31, 2012

US out of Africa!

There are atrocities against our brothers & sisters around the world that are just too unspeakable to take in. It’s easier to turn the damn television on & watch soap operas or drown it out with celebrity gossip. These shackled prisoners accused of murder are  housed in South Sudan’s Rumbek Central Prison in overcrowded cells without basic health care (that means their open sores, fevers, & contagious diseases go untreated); sanitation (that means no place to go the toilet); or food (that means they’re starving & malnourished); & most significantly, without access to legal counsel (that means they’re stuck there for years). Arbitrary detention is common in the new country of South Sudan according to even establishment human rights groups like Human Rights Watch. That means a young homeless kid can be picked up & charged with homicide when he was just poor, a displaced person, the victim of US, Israeli, & World Bank predation. Racism, racism, racism is the ugly weapon used against these young people. Coming to grips with our international responsibilities for the young victims of neoliberal predation is the sine qua non of human justice & human decency. Otherwise all our homilies about children being the future are just blah blah blah.

This is the geographic area George Clowney is lobbying for US military intervention. The US is already up to its eyeballs in fomenting human misery in the area. Our demand is, US out of Africa, US out of South Sudan! And while we’re at it, why not call for dismantling the entire US war machine!  (Photo by Dai Kurokawa/EPA)

Tribute to the victims of misogynist violence

A poem by Indian poet, Musab Iqbal, in tribute to the young woman from New Delhi who died of injuries from a brutal rape. Included in this tribute are the thousands of Dalit, Adviasy & Scheduled Caste women & children who are victims of misogynist, caste-based violence & have been fighting it without support for a very long time. This rape has brought attention to the monstrous & massive crimes against them & against women throughout India & around the world. May it forge greater unity & commitment in the fight against gender violence & help overcome vast inequalities in that fight. Gender violence is increasing worldwide as a political & personal weapon of hatred & control. Every woman will identify with his words, especially those who have endured rape & other forms of misogynist assault.

The Nameless
___ ________ ______

Now, I am dead
But even when I was alive
I was nameless, my name was insignificant.
My body was my name. My body’s form was the identity.

What a name I got
For my infinitude, for my eternal solace
For permanent remembrance, for temporal mourning.
For drum beating, for electrical flash.

I was nameless
Even when I was born.
My death is an addition to the names I earned
A girl, A rape victim, A dead.

These three names
Haunting always, chased me to my end.
I always struggled to find my name beyond body
But the body gave me all the names.

When the body
Defied embryology, I was a girl
When I exercised freedom, I was a victim
When I left the body, I was a dead.

Far from the body
I wonder will ever bodies like me
Will get justice, will the spirit of body fly free
Without worrying about body.

- 29th December 2012

Learn to sit in the rear!

We’ll all been there! Wind-bags at podiums are an international phenomenon. The only reprieve is a toilet break. This is a delegate at the national congress of the Communist Party of China (in Nov). A word of advice to the young! Don’t sit up front, choose a back row, sit behind people taller than you, & don’t snore. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

International solidarity with Palestinians a vital force for justice!

This young Palestinian, armed only with a slingshot, dodges a tear gas canister from Israeli soldiers using tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, & skunk bombs. The caption said, “clashes erupted” at a protest of Palestinians “against the construction of Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians.” Such a subtle way of describing settlers from places like Sheboygan, WI, Cincinnati, OH, & Kiev, Ukraine forcibly expropriating property that has belonged to Palestinian families for generations!

This is the weekly Friday protest held by Palestinian residents of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh where the nearby Zionist settlement of Halamish has been engaged in land grabs since 1977 & in 2009 fenced off a vital spring on land privately owned by the Palestinian family of Bashir Tamimi. His nephew, Mustafa Tamimi, was killed by one of these tear gas canisters last December when an Israeli soldier shot him directly in the face with one.

This is a young man who’s been fighting his entire life against the predations & violence of Zionist expropriations & ethnic cleansing. He cannot hope to live a normal life without the big battalions of international solidarity actively rendering support--especially when the propaganda & military machines of several countries are directed at his jugular. Not everyone can march & rally but everyone can spread the word & tell the truth about what’s really going on between Israel & the Palestinians; everyone can join the boycott movement of Israeli products; & everyone can demand the US end aid to Israel & demand their own governments cease all complicity in Israel’s apartheid toward Palestinians.  (Photo by Atef Safadi/EPA)

A premature obituary

The German magazine, Der Spiegel inadvertently published a premature obituary of George H.W. Bush, the idiotic father of an even more idiotic son. The old boy is in the hospital but regrettably he’s not dead yet. The obit described Bush as "a colorless politician" whose image only improved in comparison to his son, George W. Bush. Is that as damning as they can get!? That he’s a dope is beyond question. The NY Times used to publish a full transcript of every presidential press conference but may have abandoned that practice since George was completely inarticulate & a virtuoso at mangling language--a quality he passed on to his son, along with his corruption.

Of course, any obituary worth a damn would not concern itself with cheap shots at this grotesque figure in US political history but with his crimes. He was vice president from 1981-89 & president from 1989-93; the short list of his crimes include drug peddling in the Iran-Contra scandal, the first Gulf War against Iraq, the occupation of Somalia, the invasion of Panama, & heading up the CIA, a secret organization of assassins, torturers, spies, & hit men. At the end of his term, he gave presidential pardons to several politicians & co-conspirators who had been indicted or convicted for their role in the Iran-Contra scandal, including Reagan’s defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger & Elliott Abrams. It could be said the only glorious moment in his entire criminal career is when he vomited at a state banquet in Japan. 

This obituary is written in anticipation.

Boycott Walmart, Sears, Disney apparels & the US Marine Corps

This woman, named Tahera Begum, worked at the Tazreen Fashions garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She escaped the fire on November 24th, which killed 112 of her coworkers & injured over 150 others, but according to her husband, she suffers from amnesia & mental illness as a result.

Once again, this photo is not posted to invade her privacy or exploit her suffering but to encourage people to boycott Walmart, Sears, & Disney apparels for using sweatshop labor, ignoring the safety of workers, promoting child labor, & the violent exploitation of women workers. It should be added that activists in Bangladesh reported to ABC News that in the wreckage they found order forms, garments, & insignia for the US Marine Corps--indicating the Pentagon’s support for sweatshops.  (Photo by Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

A picture worth a thousand lies

BBC news published a photo today of Palestinians gathered around a bomb crater in Gaza City from the recent murderous aerial bombardment by Israel. With the customary stinking mendacity of media on what is going on between Israel & Palestinians, they captioned the photo: “In November, Israel launched an offensive against militants in Gaza, following an escalation of cross-border violence that has raged between the two sides for years. At least 158 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed in the eight-day conflict, which Israel said was aimed at halting rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.”

But once again (& testimony to the importance of photojournalism), a picture is worth a thousand lies. This gruesome photo is not posted to exploit human suffering but to rebut the monstrous lies covering for Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. A child’s body is being recovered from the rubble of the al-Dallu family home in Gaza City. Seven other family members also died (on Nov. 18th). Homes & schools were a frequent target  in Israel’s bombing.

Support the Palestinians & oppose Israeli genocide by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729) & beware the kiosks at the malls; demand the US end all aid to Israel. (Photo by Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

New biography of Betty Windsor: the solution to insomnia

Sally Bedell Smith, who writes biographies of the most worthless people on the face of the earth like Pamela Churchill Harriman & the two Clintons, has written a book on Betty Windsor who she calls “one of the most highly respected leaders in the world.” Eyeyey! It’s titled, “Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch” & was sanctioned by Buckingham so you know it’s gonna be hagiography.

Media reviewers were universally laudatory; book reviewers on not so much. Smith say she was given access to all of Betty’s most intimate friends & associates like her dog trainers, horse trainers, stablemen, & all of her estate supervisors. But she didn’t mention the bookies.

Apparently the story is in “extraordinary detail” (that means excruciating, mind-numbing tedium) about Betty’s everyday life, including her life with that creep she married whom she calls her “anus horribilis.”

Smith is a groveler & says she was intrigued (intrigued, no less!) by how Betty thrived in a man’s world, juggling her roles as moochocrat, wife, & mother. No problem, Sally! She just dropped the kids with the nannies & headed for the track.

Every little thing Betty does (& we’re talking itsy-bitsy) is a delight to Smith: Betty getting a kick out of blowing bubbles, her affections for the universally detested Margaret Thatcher (not to mention for her mutant children & loathsome husband), & dodging a wounded pheasant she just shot.

Smith enjoyed writing the book; mostly she enjoyed hanging out with aristos, wishing she could be just like them. But her job could not possibly have been as wretched as that of the poor schnook who wrote the biography of Phil Windsor--a worthless fellow if there ever was one. The Windsors don't have enough gold bullion to bribe someone to do that so they must have something on the guy that would get him hung.

Our little Indian nose picker

Her mother's little pride & joy. And every mother's nightmare.

North Korean children's choir

North Korean children sing their little hearts out. No way in hell we can let the US government go after these kids!

She dares you!

Go ahead; mess with her hijab! Make her day!

Zionist racism exposed

This incident reported by +972 Magazine shows the malignancy & corrupting influence of Zionist racism. The top photo is a Facebook screenshot of an Israeli woman getting a photo taken near African immigrants. She entitled the album, “Late night tour of the Tel Aviv Safari” & captioned this photo, “There are no signs forbidding taking pictures with the animals. There were no signs that forbid feeding, but we passed on that.”

The bottom photo is one of the suitable memes exposing Zionist ideological affinity with the Ku Klux Klan. No further comment is required.   (Meme by Dan Cooper)

Destruction of Palestinian livelihood: You won't see it in the New York Times

Isaeli forces uproot dozens of fruitful trees in Wadi Al-Gharous area 30Dec12 December 30, 2012

Palestinian Information Centre    -   
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON)– A large force of Israeli troops along with two bulldozers raided Wadi Al-Gharous area east of Al-Khalil city and uprooted dozens of fruitful trees.
One of the landowners Shaban Jaber told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the bulldozers uprooted about 135 fruitful trees and demolished one water well and two irrigation ponds at the pretext they had no permits issued by the Israeli army’s civil administration.
Jaber stated that the Israeli army had targeted their lands many times before, especially last February when its troops destroyed plastic nurseries and a vast tract of cultivated land.
Read more

Waiting for the Magi

You give a cat an inch, they take a mile! That’s because they were once worshipped in Egypt & their progeny have never gotten over it! This one is waiting for the adoration of the magi in a nativity scene at a church in Warsaw, Poland.  (Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

The New York Times. Keeping you in the dark about Israeli crimes

How The New York Times erases Israel’s crimes 

The New York Times keeps the American public in the dark about 
the true nature of Israel’s occupation.
(Nedal Eshtayah / APA images)
According to The New York Times, there is no siege of Gaza, no occupation of the West Bank, and never was there a Nakba (the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine). Three recent articles erase these key Israeli crimes from the historical record.
Read more

Israel deporting African refugees missing the distinctive Jewish Y-chromosome

Here handcuffed African immigrants wait in a bus after their arrest by immigration agents in Tel Aviv (Dec. 22nd). Israel is deporting thousands of Africans & preparing tent cities to detain them until deportation. The crackdown is on 50,000 undocumented African immigrants, who they call “infiltrators,” primarily from Eritrea & Sudan, with lesser numbers from other Sub Saharan countries. In 2011, under the Zionist Law of Return, Israel admitted nearly 17,000 new immigrants as citizens from Russia, Ukraine, US, France, & Ethiopia. Many Ethiopians, called Beta Israel, can gain Israeli citizenship because they are lost tribe claimants from the tribe of Dan--even though they were unable to pass repeated DNA tests looking for the distinctive Jewish Y-chromosome. These are the sarcasms that make up Zionist immigration policy.

One of the more repugnant features of Israel’s crackdown on the 7,000 Sudanese immigrants is that Israeli machinations & meddling in Sudan since 1950 were part of David Ben-Gurion’s “periphery strategy,” which involved supporting non-Arab regimes in Sub Saharan Africa as a security fence. Israeli policy incited conflicts between north & south Sudan & made them more acute by selling armaments to separatists in the south. This led to intermittent civil war going back to 1955 & despite a peace agreement in 2005 continues to today. Well over 3 million people have been killed & 5 million displaced & forced to migrate.

When South Sudan became independent from Sudan on July 9, 2011, Israel was Johnny-on-the-spot, recognizing South Sudan not even 24-hours later. By July 28th, Israel announced it had established full diplomatic ties & signed the first commercial agreement regarding desalination, irrigation, water transport & purification. Curiously, the agreement was not signed by officials in Israel’s Energy & Water Ministry but by Israel Military Industries Ltd, a weapon manufacturer specializing in producing land, air, & naval combat systems. Smell any rats yet!?

Israeli companies descended on South Sudan like vultures, promising to develop its nonexistent infrastructure, including roads, airports, power plants, agriculture, etc. The US, European countries, & the World Bank promised big bucks to the corrupt regime--but of course it is to develop the neoliberal agribusiness model, exploit the immense oil & mineral reserves of the country, & build sweatshops. As Meir Greiver, an Israeli business tycoon said, “Because the salaries are so very low, I think that many Israeli businessmen who send their manufacturing & textile work to China could do it there instead.” That’s what Israel & the new South Sudanese regime call economic cooperation--deals worth billions of dollars to Israel & foreign investors--but squat to the people of South Sudan!

Due the protracted civil war in Sudan, there has long been famine in South Sudan but all these predatory nation builders can provide is armaments & promises. They can move their heavy artillery about the country but when it comes to delivering food, they claim impassable roads make it impossible. That’s what Israel is shipping thousands of immigrants back to! Or do they just need sweatshop labor!?

After Israeli recognition of South Sudan, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who has said African asylum seekers “threaten the Zionist dream,” called for immediate negotiations with South Sudan to return undocumented Sudanese refugees & migrant workers, arguing they no longer needed protection since South Sudan had gained independence. They would be given US$1,300 & a plane ticket home or be forcibly deported. That included 18 South Sudanese students matriculated in Israeli colleges who were not allowed to complete their studies. Some of the very Israeli politicians (like Danny Danon from Likud) who promoted Israeli business ventures in South Sudan are now flapping their gums at racist rallies & inciting Israelis to violence against African immigrants.  (Photo by Oren Ziv/

Friday, December 28, 2012

This is how a war glorifying culture views a war criminal's death

"And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

Bob Dylan
Masters of War

Another reason to change the world

The beauty of Afghan children: another compelling reason to demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO troops & mercenaries. Another compelling reason to change the world. So they may have peace. (Photo by Numan Qardash)

Another war criminal bites the dust

General Norman Schwarzkopf is dead. You might think of him as the Pentagon’s own General Omar Suleiman. Schwartzkopf was the US commander of the first US war against Iraq in 1990-1991, codenamed Operation Desert Storm by the Pentagon. Many refer to it as the “video game war” since that is precisely how the media treated it to distance viewers from the barbarism of that siege against the people of Iraq. It was a war noted for the US use of depleted uranium & other chemical weapons. The weapons caused a debilitating, incurable illness among US combatants called the Gulf War syndrome. But most importantly, it left a legacy in Iraq of unimaginable human suffering, especially for the children. Hundreds of thousands died or have since been born with deformities & disabilities--& without resources to cope since so many hospitals were bombed.

Civilians were a deliberate target of the thousands of sorties flown against Iraq cities, civilian shelters, hospitals, schools, factories (including those for medical supplies), roads, power stations, & the entire infrastructure of the country. (Now we know where Israel learned its tactics in Gaza!) There were tens of thousands of civilian casualties & no possible accurate accounting since the intention was to bring the Iraqi people & any possible resistance to their knees.

The sanctions against Iraq as a result of this war led to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children. The then US secretary of state, the despicable Madeleine Albright, notoriously made the statement on the 60-Minutes TV program (in 1996) that the US considered the price paid by these innocent children “worth it” to accomplish US goals.

The war was so daunting in its barbarity that it had a dampening affect on antiwar activity in the US & weakened a vibrant, active movement--from which it is still recovering. But be assured it will.

There’ll be eulogies galore for this war criminal. Our only regret is they weren’t written decades ago & delivered to his prison hospital. May he rest comfortably in the fires of hell. And we look forward to writing the obituary for Madeleine Albright.  (Caricature by Gene Haas)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2 Rocket Launchers Turned In During LAPD Gun Buyback

rocket launcher long soqui.JPG
Yesterday's LAPD gun buyback was so successful that two-hour waits and gift-card shortages were reported.
The department says it picked up 75 assault weapons as part of its no-questions-asked effort that saw $100 dollar cards handed out for handguns and long guns and $200 for the kind of rifle used in the Newtown tragedy. The LAPD says 901 handguns, 698 rifles, 363 shotguns will also be destroyed.
Good stats. But this is the one that gut us saying WTF:

Cops picked up two -- count 'em two -- rocket launchers (!) (and not one, as other outlets are reporting), an LAPD official with close knowledge of the program told us. Holy hell why do people on our streets have military grade rocket launchers?
Read more

Looking for answers in all the wrong places

For those who hold modern science as the epitome of unimpeachable knowledge, this story will disabuse you of that unmerited high esteem. The Connecticut medical examiner has asked scientists at the University of Connecticut, Department of Genetics to analyze the DNA of Adam Lanza, the shooter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. They’re looking for a genetic link between his genes & his murderous behavior. That’s the pernicious influence of sociobiology under its modern & more respectable incarnation in universities as evolutionary psychology--better known as evo psycho.

Evo psychos believe in original sin; they think our genes program all the worst human behaviors including war, rape, racism, murder. Stephen J. Gould & Richard Lewontin are among the leading opponents of this wretched & retrograde ideology--now dominating in the media & many academic institutions. Its leading advocates include Richard Dawkins & Steven Pinker whose always over-large books are masterpieces of justifying the status quo.

They won’t find anything mutant in that troubled young man’s genetic make-up. All they'll find is a string of genes that look just like the rest of ours. This is a classic case of looking for answers in all the wrong places. This is a culture based on violence--there’s no denying that. And it’s a reduction to the absurd & politically obtuse to be combing through the guy’s genes for clues when they only have to watch the nightly news.

Massive flooding in Indonesia

A woman wades through flood water, carrying her little girl in Jakarta, Indonesia which is submerged by massive flooding that received little media coverage here. Flood waters are a brew of chemicals, bacteria, & health-threatening toxicity. Under neoliberal policies, garbage management, reliable water, & waste water services have been ignored or privatized. In Indonesia, many waterways are dump sites with toxic foam emissions. As an equatorial & tropical archipelago, Indonesia has annual monsoonal rains & much of Jakarta (the capital city) is below sea level so it has always been prone to flooding. But it is getting clobbered with the effects of climate change which are triggering annual major floods. Warmer seas heat up monsoon winds that carry moisture from ocean to land, bringing extra heavy rain & burying the capital city in up to 17 feet of flood water. According to the government environmental official, Indonesia could lose 2,000 islands by 2030 due to rising sea levels from climate change. The official admits heavy flooding is not only a climate phenomenon but due to waterways choked with debris, lack of adequate flood control systems, & large scale deforestation to build palm oil plantations & make room for a huge construction boom in Jakarta’s water catchment areas.

Deforestation & the destruction of peatlands make Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The global demand for Indonesia’s natural resources made it profitable for foreign investors & fueled the rise of Indonesian fortunes from coal, palm oil, oil & gas. The fortunes of Indonesia’s 12 billionaires & countless millionaires are built on deforestation & plundering of resources so the oligarchs are unlikely to alter the profitable ventures causing global warming or provide for a flood control infrastructure. The planet is held hostage to plunder until working people cut the Gordian knot. Major flooding has become a global problem effecting every continent displacing millions of people but media is too busy focusing on the important things like the hottest celebrity romances of 2012 to report on this environmental catastrophe. (Photo by Mast Irham/EPA)

Egypt's new constitution an affront to democracy

There are many problems with the Egyptian constitution--not the least of which is that it appears to be modeled on the insufferably dull US constitution--our own little grab bag of deceits. But the new Egyptian constitution, which codifies past practice more than incorporate democratic rights, omits the one feature of the US constitution worth saving & expanding--& that is a Bill of Rights for labor, women, political activists, & religions other than fundamentalist Islam.

This queue of women in Giza, Egypt waiting to vote highlights one of the chief problems in the new constitution: although an estimated 80-90% of Egyptians are Muslim, not all are--& not all are fundamentalist Muslims. The document eschews separation of church & state & makes conservative Islam the state religion. The 10-20% of Egyptians belonging to other religions or who have no religion have rights that must be accounted for in a democratic constitution.

The document is forceful in describing the powers of the state & its institutions but bereft & vacuous when it comes to establishing democratic rights. We can put aside the sarcastic conceit in the Preamble statement that the Egyptian uprising, which compelled the writing of a new constitution, was supported by the Egyptian military. The entire world bears witness to the contrary & to the violent opposition of the military to this historic movement for full democracy.

The document lays out the rights of protest with one hand, including the right not to be tortured, but it taketh that right away with the other hand, saying: “Civilians shall not stand trial before military courts except for crimes that harm the Armed Forces.”  What exactly are “crimes that harm the Armed Forces?” Protesting where they’ve declared off-limits? Climbing over the barrier walls they’ve erected all over town? Throwing one of their tear gas canisters back at them? Fighting back when they come at you with truncheons? Would you like people modeled on General Omar Suleiman adjudicating your fate?

Vacuity marks the sections dealing with labor rights & farmer rights (there is no section on women’s rights) because the Egyptian government is moving full-speed ahead with a neoliberal agenda & will not allow rights to stand in the way.

The constitution was approved on Saturday by 64% of voters which only 32% of eligible voters participated in & is contested as illegal because the judges required by law to monitor boycotted the election. The document does not herald a new era of democracy but a new challenge to the forces of emancipation from tyranny. Our fullest solidarity with the people of Egypt in this immense & historic task. Their courage is a beacon to us all.  (Photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A tribute to the Mayans

Mayans gathered at many archeological sites, including Teotihuacan, Mexico, Iximche in Tecpan, Guatemala, & here Tikal in Petén, Guatemala to celebrate the end of a 5,125 year cycle in the Mayan calendar. Some interpreted this prophetic moment as the final apocalypse & the end of the world. Western media treated it as a circus moment to ridicule the beliefs of indigenous peoples--indigenous peoples whose political struggles against environmental destruction & neoliberal predation are leading those of us who don’t know our ass from our elbows about what is truly at stake for the entire planet in these assaults on indigenous peoples, their rights, & their lands.

But these ceremonies celebrating the end of what Mayans call the 13th Oxlajuj B'aktun, mark for them a new period & the birth of a better age. After centuries of the most violent predation, these extraordinary human beings continue to perform ritual dances as the sun rises on a new Mayan era. Their resilience & courage & determination should give pause to the cynics among us & inspiration to those of us who continue to believe--against all of human history & against the weight of US military might--that a new day truly is dawning. And that it begins with human solidarity, with contempt for xenophobia & racism, & with the elementary determinations that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” & that “no human being is illegal.”

The media calls the predatory nations, “developed countries” because of the arsenals of Drones, tanks, armies, torturers, prisons. The so-called “developing countries” are really serf nations. But the Mayan peoples struggles--so intransigent, so courageous against all odds--show us there is nothing mightier than numbers, nothing stronger than commitment to justice & unity among those of us who do the work of creating profit. We build it up; we can bring it to a halt & we can change this world. And that is the message of the new Mayan era. And this is a tribute to the Mayans & a commitment to join with them in fighting to create a new era of peace, justice, & a world suitable for human beings to live & love in. (Photo by Johan Ordonez/AFP)

Zionists rewrite history

This woman is from an ethnic group, the Chin Kuki Mizo peoples, from India’s northeast state of Manipur. According to historians, they emigrated from China about 6,000 years ago. In the 19th C., most were converted from animism to fundamentalist Christianity by missionaries who repressed all attempts at syncretism between the two traditions. In 1951, one of their religious leaders dreamt they were one of the ten lost tribes of Israel who, according to the Bible, were deported from the Kingdom of Israel in the 8th Century BCE. Although most of the Chin Kuki Mizo people rejected this claim, a small group of them who call themselves Bnei Menashe Jews appealed to the State of Israel (starting under Golda Meir) to convert to Judaism & be allowed to emigrate under Israel’s Law of Return, which admits Jews from anywhere in the world to citizenship. And the story only gets nuttier from here.

Enter Michael Freund, an independently wealthy New Yorker & graduate of Princeton with an MBA from Columbia. His grandmother was once president of Hadassah, the Zionist women’s organization. After moving to Israel as a Zionist settler, he became deputy director of communications & policy planning under Netanyahu; a columnist for the conservative Jerusalem Post; & founder of Shavei Israel, a rabidly Zionist group that scouts the world for “lost Jews,” i.e., lost tribe claimants, those exiled from Spain during the Inquisition beginning in 1492, & those dispersed by pogroms or WWII. Most who remained in Spain during the Inquisition converted or feigned conversion to Catholicism. The exiled dispersed throughout Europe & North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, New Spain, North America (southwestern), Central & South America. Because the Inquisition was active in many of these places, they became what is called, “crypto-Jews,” hiding the practices & insignia of Judaism & pretending to adopt Catholicism. Like with every diaspora of such duration (now over 500 years), most eventually lost their connection to Judaism (through intermarriage & assimilation) but some retained a syncretic form of it in family rituals. The history of this diaspora is extremely interesting & not unlike the cultural mélange created by mass migrations of peoples all over the world.

Freund as a rabid ideologue of Zionism, promotes a religious & mystical link of Jews to Israel. Jewish ethnicity is fetishized & mystified as if there is a memory of such ancestry in our genes. So Freund began combing the planet for “lost Jews,” from the diaspora 2,700 years ago, to that of the Inquisition, to the one from WWII. In his work, he was aided by generations of fundamentalist missionaries who have claimed to find remnants of the ten lost tribes--from India to China to Central & Latin America. Freund attempts to evade the actual history of people & centuries of cultural assimilation by running DNA tests on people to see if they have Jewish genes--when some of them have been outside the Middle East for 2,700 years or more! This is where you see just how nuts & grotesque Zionist ideology really is.

Freund & his group have lobbied for several years to get Bnei Menashe recognized as a lost tribe & admitted to Israel. In 2005, an Israeli rabbi authorized that & about 1,700 (who are required to become Orthodox) relocated to Israel, taking up residence as settlers in Gaza & the West Bank. That decision was reversed at one point & Israel denied them visas but they are again being allowed admittance. Fifty are now heading for Israel, including the woman here who is saying goodbye. They are of course the victims of cynical manipulation. Only a halfwit or a crazed Zionist like Freund could think they have ancestral roots in the Middle East; they are pawns in Israel’s accelerated process of settlement in the West Bank. And they will likely pay a price in human suffering.

Not only does this episode show that modern Zionism is borrowing pages from the book of fundamentalism; its apartheid policies against Palestinians expose its affinity with the Spanish Inquisition. The great philosopher, Baruch Spinoza, whose ancestors were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain & Portugal (beginning in 1492), once said, “We study the past neither to laugh nor cry, but to understand.” Whereas Zionism rewrites the past to camouflage its crimes & turn fable into history.
(Photo by Anupam Nath/AP)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

They're scraping the bottom of the barrel for leadership these days!

So let’s get down to brass tacks on John Kerry, the nominee for Secretary of State. He’s a dope & there isn’t a whole lot more to say about him. Except that he’s a filthy rich & foxy dope, as well as an opportunist & a social climber. His most noted achievement was opposing the Vietnam War & joining the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in 1970 though his membership only lasted a few months. He refused to speak at the VVAW Winter Soldier Hearings in January 1971, where veterans & soldiers spoke out against the war describing their experiences & the atrocities they witnessed. But he did appear at splashy Senate hearings in April 1971 & was all over the media like Meet the Press & late night TV. As a participant of the antiwar movement at that time, let me assure you it was highly irregular for antiwar activists to get news time for a mass rally, let alone prime time personal interviews. Believe me, it wasn’t his charisma! It was connections.

He did a proud job with a series of Senate hearings in the late 1980s investigating involvement of the US Government in drug trafficking. But it would be interesting to know how much of that work was actually done by him since it was more likely done by his staff. But okay, he’s got a couple of good things under his belt.

He’s not so much a flip-flopper as a bullshit artist, pretending he’s against war to one audience but boasting of voting for fat defense budgets to another group. No matter how many impressive posts he’s had in the US Senate, he’s an ineffectual man so as to offend no one & curry favor with all--though, to be fair, he’s not more or less ineffectual or sycophantic than most of the US Congress.

He’s imperious & patrician in manner & that class arrogance was fully evident when in 1992, he made a speech at Yale University against affirmative action (which the Boston Globe published in full). The speech was putrid & racist, betraying the most appalling regard for the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement. It was shocking to read his arrogant tirade about the “culture of dependency” in the Black community & his suggestion that affirmative action was responsible, that “social disintegration is the result of a massive shift in the psychology of our nation that some argue grew out of the excesses of the 1960s, a shift from self-reliance to indulgence & dependence, from caring to self-indulgence, from public accountability to public abdication and chaos." This rubbish from a man who petitioned the city of Boston to relocate a fire hydrant in front of his mansion because it was an eyesore!

Of course, I took personal umbrage because as a recipient of affirmative action I was hired into a high-paying job with benefits I could not otherwise have hoped to get in ‘female work’. Along with me were dozens of Black workers, all of us so poor we didn’t have our own cars yet & had to bus back & forth to work. Shortly after the Yale speech, he appeared at a women’s rights rally in Boston & passed by me as he left. My adrenalin shot up & I shouted at him, “Senator Kerry, your speech at Yale was shameful.” With all the hauteur of his class & the manner of a man dismissing a servant, he said to me, “What is it I said?” And without waiting for my response, he turned around & walked away.

Expect nothing from this creep. Because even nothing is beyond his capabilities.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Homeless in London, England

Homeless in London, England: this homeless man near Victoria rail station in central London is receiving donated clothing from a volunteer. According to statistics compiled by local authorities & outreach groups, rough sleepers in London have risen by more than 43% in the past year. Local authorities gave the number of rough sleepers in London during 2007 as 248 per night so don’t expect an honest accounting from the mayor’s office. Reuters reported today that 3,000 slept outside in London “at some point” in 2006/7 & that figure is now 6,000 during 2011/12. Not particularly useful figures if you don’t know how many are sleeping outside every night. If you don’t have a clear accounting, you have no guide for providing shelter. So there’s likely some fudging with the figures here. In 2009, mayor Boris Johnson pledged to end homelessness by 2012 but everyone knew he was just talking through his hat.

But let’s see now: the summer Dowlympic games cost nearly £20 billion pounds, with a security budget for the games of over $860 million & 18,200 military members deployed to help with security. Add that to £10.5 million just for the foolish jubilee extravaganza up the Thames which they claim was paid for by a privately-funded charitable trust--but that doesn’t include the 21 marine policing boats used or the 6,000 cops working the pageant.

The numbers speak for themselves: Betty Windsor is committing treason against what she considers “her own people.” Housing is a human right! Predation on the scale of the Dolympics & jubilee is a crime.   (Photo by Chris Helgren/Reuters)

The Mayan apocalypse 2012

In BBC news, this photo by Reuters was captioned, “Indigenous people in Guatemala have taken advantage of international attention to highlight their plight,” with no explanation of what that “plight” might be. The Mayan apocalypse didn’t occur in the sense of a final destruction of the world but in the other sense of the word--destruction of a catastrophic scale--the Mayans have been enduring it for centuries. In the last 60 years, this apocalypse has the character of holocaust & genocide involving paramilitary death squads & a murderous Guatemalan army trained by US special forces, the CIA, US soldiers, & backed to the hilt by the US Pentagon in the form of equipment, technology, & training.

The BBC didn’t bother to identify that the Mayans in this photo are standing in front of Tikal, one of the largest archaeological sites of Mayan civilization located in the Petén Basin of northern Guatemala. US military policy in Guatemala in league with the Guatemalan military, has made the country a “killing field,” with Petén being an epicenter. For decades, extreme violence against Mayans has been the norm but in the 1980s, the Guatemalan military & paramilitary executed & gunned down tens of thousands, disappeared tens of thousands, raped & tortured tens of thousands of women & children as a weapon of war, perpetrated crimes too unspeakable to describe, & dispossessed thousands from their lands. Using a scorched earth policy, buildings were vandalized & demolished, crops destroyed, livestock slaughtered, water supplies contaminated, & sacred places & cultural icons violated.

The latest US military ventures in Guatemala include the deployment of US combat troops along with mercenaries hired by the Pentagon (Aug 2012) under the guise of the so-called war on drugs. Under the deployment agreement signed with the Guatemalan government, US soldiers & mercenaries are granted immunity from prosecution in Guatemala if injury or death to civilians result from the operation. In other words, they can slaughter with impunity--& they will.

Now the hitch in the official narrative is that the Guatemalan army is widely documented to be long involved in drug trafficking--including the top brass, intelligence officials, &  an entire catalogue of subordinates. Since some of this documentation is from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), it’s unlikely the Pentagon is unaware of this. So rather than disrupting cocaine trafficking routes from Colombia through Central America & Mexico to the US, perhaps the US troops are there to facilitate trafficking.

Guatemalan activists are especially concerned about three new military bases. They have serious cause for concern: the location of the bases is in regions of fierce opposition to land grabs for the purpose of major extraction projects like mining, oil exploration, & hydroelectric dams. Communities actively resisting these projects & the consequent displacement of thousands of people are labeled as “narco-communities,” centers of drug trafficking to justify the presence of the military. In Petén, they are sustaining an expansion of oil exploration by multinational companies.

The people of Guatemala, including especially the Mayans, have stood alone long enough. The forces of solidarity in the US are far too small to stay the hand of a US military policy which sanctions & abets genocide. The media reports about Guatemala being the rape & femicide capital of the world are part of justifying that genocide by making it appear the men of Guatemala are all savages. But we now know rape is a weapon of war & the perpetrators are soldiers & mercenaries trained & bankrolled by the US Pentagon. It is time for large numbers to demand the US get out of Guatemala & out of drug trafficking. It is time to prosecute & hold to account those in the Pentagon & White House who carry out these unspeakable crimes in the name of the American people.  (Photo by William Gularte)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We will not be castrated!

Homeless in Lisbon, Portugal

Homeless in Lisbon, Portugal: In 2009, Portugal presented a much feted national strategy for homelessness. Apparently somewhere along the line, implementation got overlooked since there is a reported increase of 30% in the past few years. According to staff at some homeless shelters, many live on the street but others in abandoned buildings not so visible to public view. Some are immigrants, some are Portuguese who worked in other countries but lost their jobs & can’t find work in Portugal (or they wouldn’t have left in the first place), many are employed but unable to afford rents. This man sleeps in downtown Lisbon.

In April 2010, an Ending Homelessness exhibit was launched in the European Parliament, the legislature of the European Union (EU). The exhibit toured Europe, including Portugal, where all the big wheels showed up to get their pictures taken as champions of the homeless. The EU, of course, is now imposing the austerity policies in Portugal creating the massive homelessness. Life is full of unintended sarcasms!  (Photo by Rafael Marchante/Reuters)

Protests in Egypt against voting fraud

The National Salvation Front opposing Morsi’s draft constitution called rallies across Egypt to protest allegations of widespread voting fraud in the first round of the vote. The popular referendum is a two-step process including two rounds. The draft passed the first round by 56% with reportedly a low turnout of voters; the second round is scheduled for this Saturday. The election laws require each polling station be monitored by a judge but many of the country’s judges boycotted the referendum so they were replaced with other government employees--rendering the process illegal. Rights groups & others filed complaints to the Justice Ministry on this issue & thousands of alleged voting abuses. The Justice Ministry ordered an investigation which probably won’t amount to a hill of beans since the second vote is in only two days & Morsi & the military are clearly trying to ram this constitution through. One marvels at the flagrancy of their defiance of democratic process when they’re staring down a revolution but it signifies danger & must be defeated. This woman is among the protestors outside the presidential palace in Cairo. That tank sitting there certainly doesn’t bode well.  (Photo by Hassan Ammar/AP)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Betty Windsor & her minions

What is not to love about this photo!? Cameron is catching flies with his mouth, which are the only things worthwhile to come in or out of it--ever; Betty is trying to suppress flatulence (such dignities are not something she’s accustomed to); & the other assembled halfwits are trying to pretend they haven’t noticed Betty’s flatulence problems. If they don’t grimace, it’s off with their heads! So they giggle it up, pretend all’s well, & they can continue to impose misery on the kingdom. You know, the US aint swell; it can be a living hell to be dissident in the imperial heartland but everyday I wake up & thank my lucky stars I wasn’t born under a moochocracy as well as an imperialist empire. I don’t envy you, England! At least we have the pretense of modernity--whatever the hell that means!

May the Egyptian uprising prevail!

And yet another example when revolution blows the brains out of prejudice! Here Muslim women protest Egyptian President Morsi’s attempt to sanction military rule by sharia law. The murals on the cement barriers erected by Morsi near Tahrir Square & against public protest depict some of those killed during the Egyptian uprising. Our fullest respect & solidarity with our Egyptian brothers & sisters. ((Photo by Amr Abdallah/Reuters)

Don't mess with the women of Bahrain!

Don’t you just love it when life--or is it, revolution?-- makes chopped liver of all your stupid misogynist & religious prejudices!? It’s like you’re reborn, freed from centuries of ideological rubbish. Here veiled women march in Manama, Bahrain (Dec. 17th) & regroup from various points to protest a ban on demonstrations. The media reports riot cops violently dispersed them but what do you bet some of those riot cops also had hell to pay? The extreme repression & violence against democracy protestors in Bahrain is nothing to laugh at but their intransigent resistance is a wonder to behold & more than anything, a beacon for those of us everywhere who are overwhelmed by injustice, exhausted in the struggle, or who have not yet begun to fight. We stand with you sisters & brothers of Bahrain & hope we can measure up to the standard of resistance you have set. May justice & Allah be with you! (Photo by Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters)

Juan Cole: America Is Filling the World With Guns

"...the weird idea of letting people buy military weaponry at will, with less trouble than you would have to buy a car, is only one manifestation of America's cult of high-powered weaponry.

In 2011, US corporations sold 75% of all the arms sold in the international weapons market, some $66 billion of the $85 billion trade. Russia was the runner-up with only $4 billion in sales.

....The University of Michigan "Correlates of War" project tried to crunch numbers on potential causes of the wars of the past two centuries. Getting a statistically valid correlation for a cause was almost impossible. But there was one promising lead, as it was explained to me. When countries made large arms purchases, they seemed more likely to go to war in the aftermath. It may be that if you have invested in state of the art weapons, you want to use them before they become antiquated or before your enemies get them too."
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Shouting match or assault?

In their ongoing attempt to obfuscate the conflict between Israel & Palestinians, the mainstream media doesn’t always lie; but it never tells the truth. This photo was described by the Wall Street Journal as a “shouting match” between a Palestinian & an Israeli soldier who was trying to keep peace between Zionist settlers from the Yitzhar settlement & Palestinian farmers from Madama on the West  Bank. When a soldier armed with tear gas & stun grenades & backed up by tanks points heavy artillery at an unarmed man, is that a shouting match or an assault!?

We don’t know what they’re “shouting” about but it could be that Israel announced Monday they are beginning construction of 1,000 housing units in East Jerusalem & the West Bank as part of a package of 6,000 units to be built--a contested plan which would cut off the northern part of the West Bank from the southern.

Or they could be facing off against each other in another incident when rabid Zionist settlers destroy wheat fields & crops, uproot olive trees, vandalize & torch Palestinian property, burn & vandalize mosques, poison Palestinian livestock, expropriate Palestinian water wells & springs (or contaminate them as they did in Madama by dumping poopy diapers in them & shooting live ammo at those who came to clean them). There are 1045 such incidents of settler violence against Palestinians (including intimidation & physical assault) & their property in the West Bank from 2009 through June 2012.

Olive farming is a major industry & employer in the Palestinian West Bank, which is why olive trees & olive pickers are a common target of settler violence. Trees cut down or burned, crops stolen & olive pickers assaulted but Israeli soldiers have done nothing to stop it. In May 2012, masked & armed Israeli settlers from Yitzhar settlement invaded Palestinian farmlands to set fire to wheat fields & olive groves & destroy the fields. Palestinians, using stones against settlers firing live ammo, came to defend their fields & douse the fires.  All this took place in the presence of Israeli troops who made no attempt to block, detain, or prevent the settlers from continuing to several locations. The military’s intervention was to drive away Palestinian youth, not the settlers. All this is intended not just to undercut Palestinian livelihoods but to drive them from their homes & farmlands & enable settlers to take control.

There has been some impotent chiding by the European Union & UN against the new construction & against settler violence. According to the UN, little action has ever been taken by Israeli authorities to investigate, prosecute or punish violence against Palestinians by settlers or soldiers, resulting in a situation of criminal impunity--the very nature of the Israeli state.

Over the recent events, UN members did some hand-wringing & expressed dismay (such a powerful deterrent!) at Israel’s expanding settlements in the occupied territories & increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians. With feigned credulity, the UN members lauded Netanyahu’s promise to clamp down on “extremists” among the settlers & bring the perpetrators to justice. Now that racist maniac is just the man to invest trust in! Impunity is his middle name. The UN members said the new constructions put in jeopardy the two-state solution so crucial for Israel’s long-term security. But actually Israeli apartheid has it exactly right: the continued existence of Palestinians is a threat to their project of a single, unified, Jewish state built on all of former Palestine & based on the rancid edifice of Zionism. Eschew dismay & hand-wringing. Build solidarity with Palestinians by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729) & demand an end to all US aid to Israel.  (Photo  by Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/Getty Images)

Emancipation US-style

Emancipation US-style: so while Obama is being feted as “Person of the Year,” more than 2 million Afghans are homeless, identified as “internally displaced persons.”  And of course, displaced by the US-NATO occupation. They face a brutal winter, disease, & malnutrition. Here is one of the homeless women liberated by the US Marines. The UN & several so-called humanitarian agencies have warned that international fund appeals have fallen on deaf ears. Well billions of dollars in humanitarian aid have allegedly poured into Afghanistan for the past 11 years but remarkably there is little to show for it. Imagine that the thieving Red Cross is the only agency to show actual aid in the hospitals they’ve set up for amputees. Has the pledged money never actually arrived? Is there a grand heist here!? Is there no accountability for billions of dollars!? Because the military arsenal in trillions of dollars is having no problem at all in getting to its destination. Demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all US-NATO troops.  (Photo by Musadeq Sadeq/AP)

Lowbrow magazine makes war criminal "Person of the Year"

Lots of magazines hand out “Man of the Year” awards & most of them go to pretty-boy movie stars. They’re the equivalent of People magazines “Sexiest Man of the Year” & the Nobel Peace Prize in terms of value. Time magazine, a useless & lowbrow news source if there ever was one, gave the award this year to Obama but, of course, it’s only so the editor can wrangle an invite to a state dinner or two & feel like he’s important hobnobbing with politicians, movie stars, court minions, & other bores.

Meanwhile our 2012 Person of the Year continues to conduct wars & bombing sieges in several countries since being an international mass murderer is no impediment to being honored by Time. The question is raised why they didn’t name Adam Lanza, the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, as a co-winner?

Our man Obama is going to leave the White House with an entire arsenal of those damn awards except for the one he wants most: People magazines “Sexiest Man of the Year” award. Apparently he hasn’t yet invited the editor to dine at the White House. But a smooth operator like Obama can soon fix that. He wouldn’t consider such an award too demeaning; after all, George Clowney doesn’t & they’re pals. A man who isn’t squeamish about sanctioning torture & bombing innocent civilians may not be sexy to most but greasing some palms will make him look dashing to the editor of People magazine.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dawkins on stupid shit stupid people say..

"'Guns don't kill people, crazy people kill people.' Can you believe anyone could be so STUPID as to trot that out, yet again? Every country has its psychopaths. In the US they have guns."
Richard Dawkins
 (My comment:  Not to mention that it's also a straw-man argument because no one is saying that guns kill people on their own! They don't crawl out of cabinets and shoot! Of course it takes people to do that. The point is that a young man like Adam Lanza wouldn't have been able to murder 27 in few minutes with his bare hands, with a knife or a club. He would have been stopped before finishing one. Only high-powered assault rifle like the one he had (among others) could allow him to massacre this staggering number of victims in such a short time)

What are the odds this young mother will get a dime of World Bank lucre?

This young woman, barely out of girlhood, is a Filipino homeless mother caring for two small children. In a society that gave a rat’s ass about women & children without distinction of class or ethnicity, she would be given all she needs for housing, healthcare, & food. Their happiness would be a social priority & a social celebration & not the good fortune of class, or ethnicity, or fate. Now in uncustomary & questionable largesse, the World Bank, global predator extraordinaire, is lending $100 million (£61m; 76m euros) to the Philippines for education & healthcare for poor families. The bookies  can have a field day with this one, giving odds on even one lousy penny affecting the lives of this young mother & her children. Her fate & that of her young children is in the hands of millions of people who will not bend the knee to inequity & servility but only to justice & human equality.  (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP)

Whoever you are, we're on your side!

Photojournalism is a marvelous thing because a picture is worth a thousand lies. But sometimes those who caption the photos can’t distinguish truth from the regrettable consequences of caught lying through your teeth. The original caption to this photo reads: “More than 4,000 refugees who fled Myanmar during an ethnic strife in 1992 have been living at camps {in Jammu & Kashmir} for more than five years.” Could they explain where the hell they’ve been for the other 15 years!? Or at least give the dignity of identifying who these young boys (not yet 15 years old) are? Could they be Rohingya Muslims? Could an explanation be forthcoming so we understand what the hell is going on!? Regardless, immigration is a human right! (Photo by Channi Anand/AP)

A good news day from Hong Kong

Sometimes on a bad news day, you take the good you can get. But this is better than that. This is a protest last Sunday of about 1,000 migrant workers from Southeast Asia in Hong Kong gathering to demand better working conditions & higher wages. These are vulnerable men & women but part of the worldwide movement of undocumented immigrants that refuses to lie down & play victim to xenophobia & racism. They are the hope of the future. Or at least part of it. Our fullest solidarity with them. (Photo by Antony Dickson/AFP/Getty Images)

Maquiladoras & femicide in Juarez

Ciudad Juárez, MX, is one of the fastest growing cities in the world despite being considered one of the most murderous cities in the world “outside of declared war zones" (in 2009). El Paso, TX (just across the Rio Grande River) & Cd. Juarez form a contiguous megalopolis & regional economy--combining Juarez’s maquiladoras (sweatshops) with El Paso’s research & technological resources. The mutually predatory relationship between elites is worth well over $55 billion a year from tax-free imports & dirt cheap labor (workers earn $25 to $50 a week). There are now over 400 maquiladoras employing upwards of 300,000 people doing assembly work for 70 Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Alcoa, DuPont, Electrolux, Bosch, Delphi, Johnson Controls, Lear, Boeing, Yazaki, Sumitomo, & Siemens.

The exponential growth in the maquiladora plants along the US-MX border is due, of course, to the North American Fair Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passed in 1993 under Clinton & by Mexico in 1994. For Mexican working people it was the equivalent of buying swampland in Florida but for the ruling elite, a bonanza. Since tens of thousands of Mexican farmers & farm workers had already been displaced by neoliberal agriculture models, many of them moved to the northern border to find work in the maquiladoras, including thousands of women--some unaccompanied, some with their families.

After the implementation of NAFTA, there was a noted & overnight increase of violent crime & homicide in Cd. Juarez--an explosion of violent crime, reaching during some years well over 3,000 homicides a year & now over 2,000 people a year out of a population of 1.6 million. The violence has affected both men & women but that against women is clearly gender-based, involving rape, torture, mutilation, dismemberment.

There are umpteen narratives & just as many conflicting statistics about what is going on for the women of Cd. Juarez. Briefly, one narrative is based on racist ignorance & propaganda against Latino men & women: the commentators claim the perpetrators are infected with ‘traditional Mexican machismo’, want to retain domestic control over women, regard working women as prostitutes, are carrying out a backlash policy--&  Mexican women are responding like doormats.

Another narrative is that as a frontera/border city, Cd. Juarez is on the front lines of the drug war. That’s why President Calderon poured 8,000 troops (out of 45,000 deployed nationally) along with federal police into the city as part of the $1.6 billion Merida Initiative bankrolled by the US. They were posted there to interfere with two competing cartel gangs (the Sinaloa & Juárez cartels). Despite the occupation of troops, the violence has only increased & by no means has drug trafficking been impeded. Calderon claimed soldiers were unable to find the thousands of acres growing marijuana & opium because they were too busy patrolling the cities. But they appear to be a failure at both ventures since violence in Cd. Juarez has only grown. It has not escaped the notice of many that violence began to recede after many soldiers & federal police started to leave the city. Business figures & maquiladora agents have now begun to call on the UN to send “peacekeepers” to quell what they call the “drug-related violence.” A public opinion poll last year by the Autonomous University of Cd. Juárez showed that 97% of the population felt unsafe & 52% disapproved of & distrusted all Mexican authorities.

The international media, many feminists, & several human rights groups (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch) have accepted the drug war narrative & protest quite rightly the refusal of Mexican authorities to even investigate the unspeakably violent deaths of hundreds of women & the disappearance of thousands. None of these groups will touch with a ten-foot pole the relationship of maquiladoras to the murders of hundreds of their employees. Some academics & other free-lancing journalists do, however, because only a tendentious halfwit could deny it.

Most of the women murdered are young maquiladora employees who must walk long distances to bus stops to & from night shifts through dimly lit, isolated areas. If they arrive a few minutes late for their night shift, the doors are locked & they must return alone to the bus stop. This is where most of them are thought attacked & kidnapped but they are later found in dumpsters & in fields. It has been reported (but is doubtful) that some large maquiladoras now provide bus service to & from their premises but this has not proven an effective preventive security measure so that suspicion has often fallen on the bus drivers. If the management was truly interested in the safety of their employees, they would develop a plan with every possible contingency to provide safe passage--including not locking young women out when tardy. The steadfast refusal of Mexican police & government authorities to do anything to force maquiladoras to protect women is explained by the “pay-off,” police corruption & collusion at the highest levels of government.

On the job, these young women are subjected to the most demeaning practices like random pregnancy testing, demonstrating proof of menstruation, & interrogation by supervisors about their sexual lives & contraception use. It has been reported that women are deliberately punched in the stomach by managers to make sure they are not pregnant or to damage any unborn child--because the companies do not want to pay  pregnancy benefits as mandated by Mexican law. In addition, women are subject to all manner of sexual harassment & insult by supervisors as a personal & corporate means of control. One frequent narrative to explain the femicidal rampage is a serial or serial killers. If that is a possibility, they should certainly look for suspects among the managerial staff at these corporations.

These shoes symbolizing the missing women were a part of a protest last week (Dec. 10th) by relatives outside the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office in Cd. Juarez demanding authorities investigate the deaths & disappearances of thousands of young women. Our deepest sympathies for their loss & fullest solidarity with their struggle.  (Photo by Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images)

Gaza to Galilee: The colonial context

Framing events in Gaza in the colonial context is vital for understanding the nature of the violence, argues author. 
Ben White
While it is common knowledge that a majority of the population of the Gaza Strip are refugees, it is less well understood where they came from. The shocking reality is that many of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are a few miles away from the land of their ethnically cleansed former villages, across the border fence in southern Israel. Like so much else with Palestine, you can't understand Gaza if you don't understand the Nakba.
To give a few examples. In 1948, most of the Palestinians of al-Majdal had fled in fear by the time the Israeli army took the town. In November of that year, around 500 were expelled to Gaza. But during 1949, a good number of Palestinians managed to return. Those remaining Palestinians were "concentrated and sealed off with barbed wire and IDF guards in a small, built-up area commonly known as the 'ghetto'".
The ethnic cleansing of al-Majdal was completed between June and October 1950. And if you haven't heard of al-Majdal before, I'm sure you know the Israeli port city built in its place: Ashkelon.
Or take the village of Najd, whose inhabitants cultivated citrus, bananas, cereals and orchards. They were expelled by Israeli forces in May 1948 and you can find Palestinians from Najd in Jabaliya refugee camp. The Israeli city of Sderot was founded on its land.
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Monday, December 17, 2012

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health : Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home.

Injuries and deaths due to firearms in the home.


Center for Injury Control, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.



Determine the relative frequency with which guns in the home are used to injure or kill in self-defense, compared with the number of times these weapons are involved in an unintentional injury, suicide attempt, or criminal assault or homicide.


We reviewed the police, medical examiner, emergency medical service, emergency department, and hospital records of all fatal and nonfatal shootings in three U.S. cities: Memphis, Tennessee; Seattle, Washington; and Galveston, Texas.


During the study interval (12 months in Memphis, 18 months in Seattle, and Galveston) 626 shootings occurred in or around a residence. This total included 54 unintentional shootings, 118 attempted or completed suicides, and 438 assaults/homicides. Thirteen shootings were legally justifiable or an act of self-defense, including three that involved law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty. For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.


Guns kept in homes are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal accidental shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.

Guns in America and the Limits of Shame

The New Yorker
What does it take for a society to be sickened by its own behavior and to change its attitudes? That can be asked about questions of power and political repression—and also about distinctive national pathologies. When did a majority of South African Boers realize that Apartheid was reprehensible? How about whites in the American South? When will the Japanese force their whalers to stop, finally realizing that their persistence has caused widespread international revulsion and opprobrium? When will the British realize that public drunkenness—a practice now internationally associated with them as a nation—is something to be embarrassed about? When will we Americans realize that our society is an unacceptably violent one, that this is how the rest of the world sees us, and that much of that violence is associated with guns? Will it be the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Where is our threshold for self-awareness?

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