Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A May Day tribute

A May Day tribute to working people by Indian poet, Musab Iqbal. May the struggles of sweatshop workers around the world inspire us in the historic task of socially transforming labor & ridding this beautiful planet of all exploitation. May these child workers of Dhaka lead the way in ending the abomination of child labor.

One day of the year
reminds you of my existence.
On the rest of the calendar days,you keep counting my meager salary
And decide to give half and not to give
what I deserve.

That German man living in England
asked us to unite,
But our unity was hijacked,
substituted by other forms of tyranny.
We remain what we were before the grand call.

Narrative after narrative, promise after promise
History after history and culture after culture
intellectuals kept masturbating about revolution.
And change, they promised from progressed towers.
Flags they gave us and they ran in the Mercedes

We remain trapped in mines, on towers
in ships, on bridges, in factories and mazes.
We continue the struggle to be content
with tears, sweat and promises from the sky.

One day when the soil will soak all our blood,
the thickness of the black cloud will be marked
by the tearful yearning of our miserable lives.
On that flat day we will return to make a new world!

- 30th April/ 1st May 2013

(Photo of garment workers strike in Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 2010, by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images)

The real face of sweatshop labor

Reposting this iconic moment from a garment workers strike in Dhaka, Bangladesh during June 2010. This is not the only photo from the strike showing cops beating child strikers. Police used tear gas, truncheons, & water cannons against mostly women workers demanding back pay & an immediate increase in monthly wages.

There had been labor conflict for several weeks prior to this strike but on this day workers erected barricades, pelted cops with rocks, & attacked cars. Police then described the fighting as the worst yet seen. After Tazreen & Rana Plaza, they’d better brace themselves for a labor tsunami is on the horizon.

(Photo by Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images)

No criminal impunity for sweatshop retailers!

Officials have ended rescue work at the Rana Plaza in Savar Bangladesh. The death toll is now 380 people with over 900 still entombed in the rubble. If their own relatives were buried there, officials might not be so quick to call it off. Hundreds of workers have died in fires & accidents in the past several years since Bangladesh became sweatshop nation for retailers in the US, Europe, Japan, & South Korea.

Tens of thousands of garment workers poured out of factories in response to the building collapse & were met with tear gas, truncheons & police violence. Labor militancy against super-exploitation is not new to Bangladesh but is met by extreme repression by the state. The struggle of these workers, including thousands of children garment workers, is a beacon to sweatshop workers around the world--which is why they encounter such violent opposition.

The retailers will scurry for cover, offer some mea culpas & ‘we didn’t knows’ & all the criminals involved will blame it solely on the builder who was arrested heading for the hills. He should surely be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for criminal neglect leading to the deaths of 1,280 people & the injuries of hundreds of others. But if that is the sole indictment, justice will be scorned.

The retailers implicated in this monstrous crime are now spending millions on Mother’s Day advertising; after the Tazreen garment factory fire last November, they spent millions on schmaltzy Christmas advertising. Those who care about human rights cannot allow them to walk away from these crimes with impunity. It is long since overdue to start teach-ins, speak-outs, forums, pickets, rallies in support of the garment workers facing tear gas & truncheons in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, & elsewhere.

These portraits of the missing garment workers of Savar are posted in the school turned into a makeshift morgue. The oligarchs of Bangladesh should be forewarned: the photo montages of victims don’t go away. They remain as a call to action until justice is served--even if that be decades.

Our fullest solidarity with the garment workers of Bangladesh! No to sweatshops! No to criminal impunity for sweatshop retailers! An injury to one is an injury to all!

(Photo by Wong Maye-E/AP)

US-NATO out of Afghanistan! Enough with media apologetics!

The NY Times report (on Apr 28th) that the CIA is carting suitcases, backpacks, & shopping bags of tens of millions of bribery money into the offices of Afghanistan president, Hamid Karzai is causing quite a splash--in the rest of the media. Usually reports on US foreign diplomacy make it look like high-level negotiating rather than the arm-twisting & payola that is more typical & so much more effective than legal persuasions. The NY Times article says the US began the payments in a bribery war with Iran that at least had the class to deliver the dough in an SUV or deposit it in Karzai’s bank account--& had the good sense to stop the deliveries when they saw even money couldn’t rein in Karzai’s corruption.

The article reports all this with a feigned, almost simple-minded credulity. You’re supposed to suspend disbelief when the article says, “there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the CIA sought,” & again  “Mr. Karzai is seemingly unable to be bought.” Here’s when the simple-minded erupts without disguise. Does the NY Times really think the US chooses the princes among men as its henchmen & local allies in its murderous wars!? You can’t off buy off Karzai because there’s nothing left of his soul to mortgage. But mostly because he makes more money in drug trafficking than he does in chump change bribery from the CIA!

The NY Times pretends the CIA dough (robbed from the US coffers of Social Security & public education) is to get Karzai to cooperate against Al Qaeda or the Taliban or whoever the hell they tell us is fighting US occupation & the article complains, “It is not clear that the United States is getting what it pays for.” Actually the dough is to pay off politicians, drug traffickers, organized crime syndicates who work directly with the Karzai clan & the CIA in the production, processing, & transportation of heroin. Surely the NY Times is aware of the well-documented history of CIA drug trafficking; playing stupid doesn’t fly anymore in the media than it does in a court of law.

There’s just no end to the NY Time’s credulity. They reported Karzai’s claim, without a hint of sarcasm, that he’s using the dough for charitable projects like helping the sick & wounded. This is even worse than trying to sell swamp land in Florida.

There are tidbits of useful information in the article. For example, “The cash does not appear to be subject to the oversight & restrictions placed on official American aid to the country or even the CIA’s formal assistance programs, like financing Afghan intelligence agencies.” If public education, health care, & Social Security funds are being used to bankroll corrupt politicians, drug trafficking, & surveillance then US taxpayers have a duty to demand full accountability from the White House & an end to this murderous war.

No to the US-NATO war! Out now! Sequester & dismantle the CIA!

(Don't want Karzai's criminal mug on my FB wall so instead this is a photo of a homeless Afghan boy who hurt his finger while collecting broken glasses & bulbs. From website watanafghanistan.tumblr.com/)

Monday, April 29, 2013

"War is terrorism with a bigger budget"

No to US-NATO wars!

Muhammed Muheisen is a Palestinian photojournalist for AP who has produced stunning, award-winning photos from the West Bank & Gaza, Iraq, Pakistan, & other conflict zones. He is certainly most known for his photos of children, especially Afghani children exiled to Pakistani slums by the US war & Pakistani children relocated to slums by massive flooding or US drone attacks.

Muheisen doesn’t gravitate to the morbid though his camera can hardly ignore it. If anything, he has an affinity for children in all their glory: mugging for his camera, playing (usually in muddy alleys), reading in school, sifting through waste dumps for recyclables, waiting for their working mothers, sleeping rough.

This Pakistani child, his face covered with flies, sits inside one of the wooden carts where so many children seem to find delight in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan (taken in 2011).

There are so many reasons to demand US-NATO end their murderous wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, but none so compelling as the children forced to live in squalor to facilitate the plunder & enrichment of a tiny handful of predator oligarchs.

No to the US-NATO wars! No to drone attacks in Afghanistan & Pakistan! US-NATO out now!

(Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cracking jokes for imperialism

Last night they held the annual White House Correspondents' dinner where the president gets together with journalists, movie stars, sycophants & minions of all hue to whoop it up & make sport of US government criminality. Is it catty to say Michelle Obama’s false eyelashes are even longer than those worn by movie stars!? When she bats them they cover up her cleavage. Though they don't distract from the purpose of the evening: humor as political apologetics.

This annual event is a telling ritual explaining the obscurantist character of media reporting & how they get high-paid actors to glorify war, the military & CIA, portray most women as idiotic & Blacks & Latinos as low-life criminals. It doesn’t take much to buy some people’s souls--just a free meal at the White House surrounded by others who don’t mind being used to peddle propaganda.

Obama identified this photo from his repertoire of jokes as his library next to the Bush library. He should think twice before mocking the most commonly repeated defense for his crimes by supporters.

He got a lot of obedient laughs for saying he would morph in his second term from a “strapping young Muslim socialist” to a retiree golfer. We got news for your pal! Neither the Muslims nor the socialists want to claim you! The oligarchs can have you!

(Photo from video of Obama’s schtick via yahoo.com)

"Exile A myth unearthed" the film the BBC censored


As some of you know, my film EXILE, A MYTH UNEARTHED, which examines the myth of the Jewish EXILE and its political impact on both Israeli Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East, was going to be shown on the BBC Thursday April 25th. It was pulled out of the schedule only a few days earlier.
Since than I was flooded by dozens of emails of angry and concerned viewers asking what happened.   To be honest I debated whether to tell the story of what I think had happened. I have worked with the BBC in the past on some programs that were deemed controversial and I never had any political censorship. On the contrary I was impressed by the integrity and fairness of the people I dealt with.
So based on my past experience, I was going to wait patiently until the BBC programming executives would solve the internal drama that apparently has begun to brew inside the BBC.  “The film is gorgeous, courageous and fresh, “ I was told several times by the programming executives. I was promised that the cancellation was temporary: “Given the short timescale and your workload, we have decided to delay transmission until we’ve had the chance you’ve had the chance to go through it in detail”.  
Read more

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tribute to the citizen rescuers of Savar, Bangladesh

Posting this poem by Indian poet, Musab Iqbal, as a tribute to the citizen rescuers of Savar, Bangladesh, risking their own lives to save others:

In your eyes I found a map
Of a new world
Yet to be born
Waiting in time’s embryo
Its soil is of freedom
And it smells dignity
The oceans are of love
And mountains are of courage
Citizens are like birds
Traveling without worries
And land is mirror of sky
Blue white black
Without borders, without wrinkles
The grass of misery doesn’t grow
And the star replaces the lamp
Roads are without destination
The world born in your eyes
Never ends.

- 26th April 2013

(Photo of rescuer searching for survivors emerging from beneath a cement slab by yahoo.com)

The rescuers of Dhaka

The Rana Plaza in Savar, Bangladesh that collapsed was eight-stories high & the rubble is tons of steel, glass, & cement. Yet hundreds of volunteers rushed to the grim task of rescuing those buried under all that--risking their own lives. There are dozens of photos of rescuers (not wearing any official uniforms) scouring under cement slabs that may not yet be settled, using fabric or tying clothing together to lower survivors & the bodies of the deceased.

Our fullest respect to these rescuers & our gratitude because they show what magnificence the human spirit is capable of achieving in the worst of times & the best of times.

(Photo of rescue workers from yahoo.com)

Bush & the junk science of IQ

There’s a lot of coverage lately about Bush’s low IQ & low achievement in elite universities in order to discredit him. But judging people by their intelligence has been proven utterly bankrupt by the disability rights movement, in particular the self-advocacy movement of those with learning difficulties.

It is no defense of Bush to say there isn’t a shred of validity to the discredited “science” of IQ. It is a demeaning scam to suggest a number can encompass the breadth & depth of human understanding--which is not just centered in the head. Certainly such trivial false science has no determination of human worth & wisdom.

As for getting into Harvard & Yale, they report that at least 60% of student positions are purchased by wealthy parent donations & have nothing to do with scholarly merit. You also have to explain why Yale & Harvard graduates Clinton & Obama with their high IQs end up spouting the same rubbish as Bush with his low IQ.

The problem is not low intelligence. We’ve all known geniuses & brilliant thinkers (some in the self- advocacy movement) who couldn’t get through the doors of Harvard or Yale with a free pass. For Bush, the problem is privilege, which is a difficult thing to overcome. His stupidity & insularity are directly related to the easy ride he’s had in life. There are electricians & machinists or for that matter, bookies who could run rings around him in a fair debate.

It should be stated though that calling Bush an idiot or moron or halfwit is not an insult to those with learning disabilities. Those terms have not been used to categorize levels of disability for several decades now because they are repugnant. But they most certainly continue to hold force in describing politicians like Bush & Obama & Clinton who mouth the most rancid idiocies in defense of their international crime sprees.

In this photo of Bush, we don’t know what he’s trying to signal. Peace? A table for four? Or is there some validity to the conspiracy thinkers who think he belongs to a secret Masonic cabal? Who knows? Certainly not him!

(Photo by AFP)

The rogue's gallery of US presidents

So here they are lined up, the entire rogue’s gallery of US presidents (I’m not one who buys Jimmy Crack-Carter’s born-again schtick. I remember El Salvador, the Philippines, Iran.). They have photos of Obama & Bush laughing it up together with the comment that they seemed able to put politics aside for the opening of the lie factory called the Bush Library in Dallas, TX. What politics would those be? Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantanamo, civil liberties--on which they both agree? Or Bush’s regrets he didn’t get to drone bombard in Libya, Yemen & Somalia or send troops to Uganda like Obama?

They report Bush has kept a low public profile since stepping down from office in 2009. That’s because he wants to dodge the taunts & horse manure protestors cart after him. Early reports on the contents of that library are as bereft as the man himself who gives no evidence he's ever read a book. There’s a lot of monument there to house a lousy bullhorn and some baseballs.

The vile truth of his regime will not be told in those echoing library chambers in Dallas. His legacy is Guantanamo & the wreckage of Iraq, Afghanistan, & Pakistan. It is the testimony of the hunger strikers in Guantanamo & the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, & Pakistan that matter--not that of Obama & his fellow war criminals.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Widely circulated photo of 3 "handsome Arabs" deported from Saudi is a fake. See the Hewbrew letter neckless!

This fake is circulating as a photo of the 3 " too handsome Arab men" deported by Saudi Arabia. What struck me is the necklace that the guy in the middle is wearing. It represents the Hebrew letter "Hay". Arab men don't wear Hebrew letters as necklace. As silly kids says, epic fail.

RIP brother Aminul Islam

Aminul Islam was a 40-year-old labor organizer in the garment industry of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the second-largest apparel exporting nation (after China) with about $18 billion worth of clothes exported annually & the lowest wages in the world at US 20-cents an hour or $37 a month. By all accounts from co-workers & colleagues, Aminul was an extremely committed activist, fearless in pursuing workers rights.

He started as a garment factory worker & in 2005 was elected by co-workers to negotiate grievances with management. Within a year, the company fired him & though he took his case to court & won, the factory owner refused to reinstate him. He began to study labor rights at Solidarity Center in Dhaka, one of several such centers around the world affiliated with the US AFL-CIO & bankrolled by & associated with nefarious political agencies like the CIA. The purpose of these centers is to counter the influence of socialists & communists in national labor federations. There is no suggestion from anyone that Aminul was compromised by this association but only that he used their educational resources. Labor organizations in Bangladesh are under siege by the government & may not have had training for activists like Aminul.

Aminul worked as an organizer for the Bangladeshi Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) & was considered outspoken & fearless as an organizer. He had most recently been attempting to organize workers at factories owned by the Shanta Group which makes clothing for several US companies, including Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, & Ralph Lauren.

As a result of his activities, Bangladeshi security forces threatened him, followed him, tapped his phone, regularly harassed him, once abducted & beat him. On April 4, 2012, he was disappeared. His family recognized him in a newspaper photo of an unidentified man found beaten & tortured on the side of the road. The police--who denied any culpability--had burned & dumped his body in a pauper’s grave without ceremony. His family exhumed the body for proper burial. Authorities have not yet made any arrests in his murder. He left a wife & three small children.

We should honor our brother Aminul & those many union organizers around the world who have paid for their commitment to worker’s rights with their own lives. May they RIP. May their sacrifice not be used to intimidate us but to embolden us in defense of working people.

(Photo of Aminul Islam is from the NY Times)

"Made in Bangladesh" the label for super-exploitation

“Made in Bangladesh” is now a label signifying child labor, denial of labor rights & abuse of workers, complete disregard of safety, fatal accidents like fires & building collapses. The collapse (on Weds.) of Rana Plaza in Savar, an industrial district of Dhaka, is only the latest incident. The death toll is now nearly 250 people & still rising.

Despite authorities previously declaring the building dangerous & unfit for habitation, the garment manufacturers housed in the building ordered employees to go to work or be fired. The government authorities who didn’t stick around long enough to enforce their judgement are now flying flags at half-mast & holding a national day of mourning. The factory owners have high-tailed it into hiding. The US & European retailers who dictate such barbaric conditions of labor are issuing their usual “we knew nothing about these conditions” statements & pledging new controls. There are so many criminal indictments here it’s difficult to list them all.

Companies in Rana Plaza are part of the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) which outlawed unions altogether for many years & now just severely represses them & murders union organizers. Workers have no rights--though that has not stopped them from frequent rebellions against atrocious conditions. The suppression of unions was necessary to attract foreign investors & the Bangladeshi government complied with the most violent enforcement.

Despite their sniveling protestations, retailers outsource to Bangladesh precisely because labor rights are zilch & labor costs the lowest in the world. The average garment worker makes US 20-cents an hour. One lousy shirt at Walmart pays the monthly wage of one worker; one lousy Hilfiger shirt pays the monthly wage of 3 or 4 workers.

Here’s a partial list of some of the retailers whose clothing were made in Rana Plaza: Gap, Walmart, New Wave Style, Ether Tex, Canton Tech Apparel, New Wave Bottoms, Spanish retailer Mango, English retailer Primark, PVH Corp (owner of Calvin Klein & Tommy Hilfiger brands), German retailer Tchibo, JC Penney, Target, Phillips-Van Heusen, Kohl’s, Phantom Apparels, Phantom Tac, Altogether, The Children's Place, Dress Barn, Italian retailer Benetton.

These export zones of super-exploitation are multiplying like cockroaches all over this planet & they are always accompanied by repression of labor rights, flagrant dangers for workers, & the murder of labor organizers. It’s time for consumers to take a stand which means not just boycotts but protests & pickets & mobilized outrage. An injury to one is an injury to all!

This woman in Savar is one of many holding up photos of loved ones still buried in the rubble. The young man in the photo is her young brother. Media reports soldiers, paramilitary cops, firefighters & citizens are all clawing through the wreckage for survivors & bodies but photojournalism has only shown desperate citizens--especially since it took so long for firefighters to show up.

(Photo by AFP)

Israeli experiment in dehumanisation. Two Israeli checkpoints among hundreds.

Photo: ‎سياسة الاضطهاد الجماعي من قبل  دولة التميز العنصري
Collective Humiliation #apartheidisrael 
#Palestine #checkpoint

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Time to correct the historic record; time to end the lies

Popular histories like Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States” & James Loewen’s “Lies My Teacher Told Me” are often faulted for scholarship--& it is certainly true they are not of the scholarly stature of works like “Black Reconstruction” by W.E.B. DuBois. But anyone who has studied US history, especially that of Blacks & Native Americans, knows that field of study has legions of hucksters for the status quo peddling rubbish & lies in place of historical analysis. Whatever the weaknesses of Zinn & Loewen’s books--some of which are inherent to the genre of popular history--there is no denying the power of their books in challenging the historic fables & racist lies US children are fed throughout their educations. Labor & feminist historians have done the same for women & working people.

This correction of the historic record, describing what really happened in our past, is one of the monumental achievements derived from the social movements of the 1960s-1970s, especially the Civil Rights & women’s movements. The struggles of that generation opened up universities previously denied to Black, Latino, Native American, & female students, initiated Black & women’s studies departments, inspired Black & female scholarship, inspired white scholars like Zinn & Loewen. Now at last we have the real story of US history which exposes the fairy-tale version for the caricature it is.

Loewen wrote a second book entitled, “Lies Across America: What Our Historic Markers & Monuments Get Wrong” about 100 historic sites & shrines in all fifty US states. The deceits & misrepresentations of public education continue in these public monuments commemorating past events & historic figures. Many were built to glorify & whitewash slavery, others to discredit Reconstruction, many to make Native Americans appear vanquished. Most were built between 1890 & 1920 & are still maintained by organizations of Confederate sympathizers unreconciled to defeat in the Civil War which they promote as a noble lost cause.

In 1866, a confederate woman helped initiate Confederate Memorial Day, an official holiday impervious to the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement & still celebrated in nine southern states on April 26th to honor those who died fighting to maintain slavery. The confederate flag is already hung at sporting events & concerts, on public buildings, & at Ku Klux Klan rallies in the south & on Confederate Memorial Day is planted all over cemeteries. This photo is of Oakland cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia, a burial site for Confederate soldiers. No one objects to honoring the dead but tribute to white supremacy is another matter altogether.

Those who like to toy with reality claim the flag is not a symbol of white supremacy but of “southern heritage”, whatever the hell that is! Mint julep drinks & magnolia blossoms? Or cotton plantations? Speaking of whitewashes, the original caption to this photo said Confederate Memorial Day marks “the anniversary of the end of the Civil War.”

It cannot be stressed enough that those who write the history control the future. So hats off to Howard Zinn, James Loewen, & to all the historians inspired by freedom movements (not to mention W.E.B. DuBois) for exposing the lies & revealing the ignominy but also the true majesty of human history.

(Photo by David Goldman/AP)

From the annals of immigration

This photo from the annals of immigration isn’t dated so it’s not certain when it was taken by the photojournalist, Luis Marden. Marden, who worked for National Geographic, spoke Spanish so he was assigned to work that beat as their “Latin America man” beginning in the 1940s.

Here border patrol cops are trying to keep a fugitive in the US & his companeros in Mexico are helping him escape. It must have been a terrifying moment for him but several decades later the comic is also apparent. Marden doesn’t report which side won. Hopes are with the fugitive since his offense might have been nothing more than eating a tomato while the grower charged him with grand larceny.

Immigration policy toward Mexicans has never been benign: they have always been exploited labor, child labor is still legal in the US for farmworkers, housing was never  provided & whole families slept rough, prejudice against them was used to formulate US drug policy. But when you compare this image to the barbarisms of Mexican & Central American immigration to the US today--with the monstrous barrier wall, border patrol check points along US highways, immigration raids at workplaces, & massive deportations--this era almost seems benign.

(Photo by Luis Marden/National Geographic archives)

Monday, April 22, 2013

The face of political leadership

Despite the suspension of the Rios Montt trial, a judge from the three-panel hearing ruled the annulment illegal & appealed to the Constitutional Court which is implicated in the suspension. There have been so many attempts to legally outsmart the defendants over the past 30 years that they probably could all hold advanced law degrees by now.

They’re certainly far too sophisticated to rely on a compromised judicial system to deliver justice. So here they are out marching from the compromised Supreme Court of Justice to the equally compromised Constitutional Court to demand the genocide trial be reconvened. Mass political pressure is far more persuasive than a lawyer’s brief.

This Mayan protestor stands with the women of Bahrain & Tahrir Square & the West Bank & Bhopal as models for freedom fighters around the world--& not just for women. They are our teachers & our leaders in the struggle for social transformation. They could not do women & the entire human race more proud!

(Photo from mimundo.org)

The Rios Montt trial & the shell game of Guatemalan justice

In a move stunning in its defiance of justice, Guatemalan judge Patricia Flores suspended the trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt (on April 18th) & his co-defendant, Jose Rodriguez Sanchez for conducting a scorched earth policy of rape, torture, & arson against the Mayans in a genocidal onslaught where an estimated 200,000 people died & 45,000 disappeared. Many international observers called the trial “emblematic” for setting a precedent in holding dictators to account for their crimes. It turns out to be emblematic in the sense of a show trial meant to hoodwink justice.

This suspension is only the latest of numerous legal stalling tactics employed by the defense team of Rios Montt in collusion with the compromised judicial system of Guatemala. The way this shell game works under Guatemalan legal procedure is that criminal cases first go to a single judge to decide whether there is enough evidence to send a case to trial by a three-judge panel who will decide whether to proceed to the actual trial. Flores was the single judge at the initial hearing but was removed after Rios Montt’s lawyers filed a complaint alleging she was biased. Another judge took over the case & eventually ruled to proceed with the prosecution. The three-judge panel phase of this kangaroo court procedure began March 19th, 2013. The Flores ruling sends the prosecution back to square one.

Nearly 100 people have testified so far in the trial, including Mayan women who were systematically gang-raped by soldiers & paramilitary groups. Many of the women wept, testified with their heads covered & did not reveal their names. Imagine the criminal temerity of a judicial system attempting to vacate all that harrowing, wrenching testimony & compel the women & other victims to repeat it in future legal proceedings! The crimes go back to the 1980s so the victims have been waiting more than 30 years to give testimony.

It is the dogged efforts of the Mayan victims & their supporters over the past three decades that got this low life piece of crap into a courtroom. They had to go up against the machinations of the entire state apparatus of Guatemala, including the president (himself implicated in the genocide), the judicial system, & the military. They are not likely to retreat now with the solidarity of millions of people around the world, the support of Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu, of human rights groups & even the UN human rights commissioner. They vocally denounced the judge as a sell-out & are protesting in the streets demanding the Flores decision be reversed. One banner read, "Wanted: Rios Montt for genocide.”

Prosecutors along with the three-judge panel have appealed to the Constitutional Court of Guatemala to rule if the trial should proceed. Flores (who was just reinstalled) maintains the Constitutional Court & the Supreme Court of Justice were the ones ordering the case be rolled back to square one in the first place. So the legal shell game continues & the plot sickens.

The photo is of a banner unfurled outside the Constitutional Court in Guatemala City displaying the names of those murdered or disappeared during the Rios Montt genocide. Genocide is a very personal crime & the victims come back in montages all over the world to haunt justice. Our fullest respect & solidarity with the Mayan people in their dogged pursuit of justice. They may not succeed against the Guatemalan state in getting that piece of garbage into jail but the entire world now knows what he did & who he is. Rios Montt isn't capable of shame but he should know international condemnation.

(Photo by Xeni Jardin)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Soiling of "Old Glory"

The hell that was the Boston bombing has only just begun. Conspiracy theorists who don’t need a shred of evidence for their wild-assed assertions are already spewing out false flag scenarios complete with fake blood & installing prosthetic amputations on the scene. Media, especially sports writers, are spewing anthemic toasts to the spirit of Boston, to the toughness & fortitude of its residents, & to the 2014 “retaking of Heartbreak Hill.” They sermonize: ‘The Boston Marathon must go on & if it needs to be under martial law, then so be it!’ The loathsome thing about all this glory & conspiracy mongering is that getting to the bottom of what happened & why is of the greatest importance because you cannot effect change if you don’t have the story straight. Who writes the history controls the future.

One speculation that isn’t reckless & we can bank on is that this bombing will be used to orchestrate more Islamophobia, greater harassment of Black & brown people, more surveillance of immigrant communities--all of which are already at alarming levels & not just in Boston. But it is particularly threatening in Boston which remains one of the most segregated US cities with a legacy of violent racist opposition to desegregated public education.

During the decade-long struggle of the 1970s to desegregate public schools in Boston, white mobs taunted, attacked, & threw rocks at Black school children. Black & white children were often forced to enter schools by different doors. Cordons of state troopers surrounded schools every day to allow safe passage for Black children against rabid white mobs. Not only were most sporting events cancelled but white parents boycotted schools & periodically forced the closure of schools with their violence. Many people were confused by the Boston desegregation battles & refused to side with Black school children against white violence. Political activities in their defense were difficult to organize.

In 2008, Boston Public Schools were 76% Black & Latino & 14% white. South Boston, the white neighborhood & epicenter of this racist opposition, now has the highest concentration of white poverty in the US, with astronomical rates of dropouts & juvenile deaths due to murder, overdose, & criminal activity. South Boston High School was declared dysfunctional by the State Board of Education. Rancid & powerful testimony to the efficacy of “divide & conquer!”

We cannot let our voices be drowned out by a resurgence of the violent, racist spirit of Boston but must evoke the anti-racist & abolitionist spirit of Boston which is also part of its historic legacy. This begins with clarity about which side are we on.

In this iconic prize-winning photo titled “The Soiling of Old Glory” from 1976, a white teenager is assaulting Theodore Landsmark, a Black lawyer & civil-rights activist exiting Boston City Hall using a US flagpole.

No to racial profiling! No to racist violence! No to martial law!

(Photo by Stanley Forman)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Solidarity with the freedom fighters of Bahrain!

Aren’t these Bahraini women something!? In most places, it’s the kids burning tires as political barriers against riot cops. In Bahrain it’s the mothers. Here they are chanting support for imprisoned political activists in Jidhafs, a village near Manama (April 15th).

In response to the orgy of Islamophobia we will be subjected to after the Boston bombings, we can point to the intransigent freedom fighters of Bahrain. Our fullest respect & solidarity with their opposition to tyranny which shows no sign of flagging after more than two years of relentless struggle & violent repression.

(Photo by Mohammed Al-shaikh/AFP/Getty Images

Close down the zoos!

This Sumatran tiger is a 15-year-old female named Melanie housed at the Surabaya Zoo in Surabaya, Indonesia. The zoo is a notorious hell hole with over 4,000 animals held captive in cramped cement cages, fed only on peanuts thrown at them by spectators, suffering from untreated diseases & injuries, disabilities, & lack of exercise, & dying at the rate of 15 to 25 animals a month. Zoo officials say Melanie has suffered from a digestive disorder for five years, is in critical condition, & may have to be euthanized. More likely she’s starving to death & has lost her will to live.

There isn’t one stinking thing anyone can say in defense of zoos & this kind of treatment of animals. The same barbaric conditions can be seen in zoos all over the US & elsewhere. In the Como Zoo in St. Paul, MN, zebras, gorillas, bears are housed indoors in the winter in cages this same size, with no natural lighting or foliage, are fed swill, & are often without companionship. People bring their children to the zoo for amusement but they often offend the sensibilities of children--or they teach them to accept cruelty & view other species as non-sensate.

Animal welfare activists have been protesting conditions at the Surabaya Zoo & have petitioned the president of Indonesia to shut it down. In response, an interim team was sent in to improve conditions, at least until the activists go away. That’s not likely since animal welfare activists in Indonesia have been particularly vocal not just against the zoo but in defending orangutans against extinction.

(Photo by Associated Press)


Ismail Shammout, Palestinian artist. (1930 – 2006)

The famous Palestinian artist was born on 2.3.1930 in the town of Lydda in Palestine. At the age of 18 he was among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that witnessed the tragedy of being forced out of their homes and towns by Jewish forces in order to create Israel.

This dramatic experience was reflected in many of his paintings and influenced his entire career. His hopes and dreams to return one day to his beloved Palestine tied him to the struggle and fight of the Palestinians for their just cause; their own State.

He expressed his emotions, fears, sufferings, hopes and dreams, which are shared by all the Palestinian people, through his paintings.

Ismail Shammout died at the age of 76 after a heart surgery on the 3.7.2006.
His paintings are considered to be some of the most valuable art works in the Arab world!

An In-Depth Conversation On U.S. Middle-East Policy with Dr. Rashid Khalidi

Palestine Studies TV host Omar Baddar sits down with Dr. Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies & editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, to discuss past and present U.S. Middle-East policy as well as his new book, "Brokers of Deciet: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East".

Palestine Studies TV is a project of the Institute for Palestine Studies.

Lockdown in Boston

The lockdown of Boston & its environs is terrifying. But it doesn’t even come close to Baghdad or Kabul or Mogadishu or Aleppo or Gaza & the West Bank. Boston isn’t being bombed & there is no occupying army. But it’s scary enough to give a sense of what a war zone is like--something most in the US have been sheltered from by the media & even in our history books.

The alleged bombers are extremists & reportedly Muslims. Their violent extremism resonates with US government foreign policy more than with religion. It serves institutions like the Pentagon & war propaganda but not social transformation & is by no means a political answer to Islamophobia.

Once again, the terror we feel watching events in Boston should be used to marshal active antiwar opposition rather than increase the quotient of hatred that creates terrorism.

Demand the US end its wars & occupations! Demand the end of drone bombing sieges!

(Photo of police patrol through Watertown, a suburb of Boston, searching for suspect in the Boston bombings by Charles Krupa /AP)

Black & Arab workers "disappeared" lest they be Muslim

According to an official complaint by the SUD-Rail transport union in Paris, Black & Arab workers were “disappeared” when Israeli president Shimon Peres arrived on a train from Belgium (March 8th) to discuss what is euphemistically called the “Middle East peace process” with French president Francois Hollande. According to the SUD complaint, the racist exclusion was to ensure there were no Muslim workers greeting Peres & was based solely on the appearance of workers. But we all know there are plenty of white Muslims & plenty of Black & Arab Christians. Peres & his delegation were greeted only by white workers from France’s state-owned railway SNCF & their subsidiary of baggage handlers.

When SNCF was publicly accused, they blamed the despicable exclusion on security protocol directed from the Israeli Embassy in Paris & the French Interior Minister Manuel Valls (the same creep directing the forcible evictions of Roma from their settlements & from France). Now SNCF claims the order came from management & pledges to investigate. It could have come from any of the three since they form a league of treachery & the investigation will more likely be a collusion on how to explain away their racist security protocols.

The odious irony here? SNCF played a role in the holocausts of WWII by entraining victims out of Gare du Nord to death camps in Germany & only made its first formal apology to victims in 2011.

(Photo is headline from several media sources)

Tim Wise on White Privilege and the Boston Marathon Bombing


"White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Robert Mathews and David_Lane and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Wade Michael Page and Byron Williams and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker, among the pantheon of white people who engage in politically motivated violence meant to terrorize and kill, but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular."
Read more

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Reporter Asks White House if U.S. Airstrikes That Kill Afghan Civilians Qualify as ‘Terrorism’

Matthew Keys, the social media editor at Reuters, posted audio of a reporter asking White House Press Secretary Jay Carney if U.S. bombings that kill innocent civilians in Afghanistan constitute an “act of terror” given the labeling of the Boston Marathon bombing as “terrorism”. She specifically refers to a U.S. airstrike earlier this month that killed 11 children, just the latest in a seemingly endless line of Afghan civilian deaths at the hands of the U.S. government.

The lifeless bodies of Afghan children lay on the ground before their
 funeral ceremony, after a NATO airstrike killed several Afghan
 civilians, including ten children during a fierce gun battle with
 Taliban militants in Shultan, Shigal district, Kunar, eastern
 Afghanistan, Sunday, April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Naimatullah Karyab)

Café in Beirut, c.1900s

Café in Beirut, c.1900s

Prisoners’ Day: Palestine remembers loved ones in the Israeli gulag

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 By Center for Political and Development Studies, Palestine via Mondoweiss

The Palestinian people mark Prisoners' Day on April 17 every year, expressing the continuity of struggle to liberate detainees in the occupation jails. It's a day of freedom. A day of refusing injustice, chains, and the dominance of occupiers over their life and dignity....
.... 4750 Palestinians are detained in the Israeli jails including children, women, sick, handicapped, elders, MPs and former ministers etc. They are held under very tough conditions where they are deprived of their basic rights and they are exposed to various forms of torture and treated inhumanely, all of which constitutes a grievous violation of international conventions and norms.
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The Age of Plunder & Dispossession

When future historians give a name to our historic epoch they will give it the inglorious title, the Age of Plunder & Dispossession. It is the duty of our generations to make certain it’s a short epoch with a rough demise & ending up in the overfilled landfill of historic waste.

Speaking of waste, this is the Chittagong garbage pit in Bangladesh. Chittagong isn’t Podunkville, Bangladesh. It’s the second largest & fastest growing city in the country with a population of over 6 million people. It’s a commercial, industrial, & maritime center for textiles, steel, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, chemical plants, fertilizer, cement, the automotive industry. The largest corporations in the country, the biggest corporations in the world, & the richest families of Bangladesh live in this city. There are banks galore.

But in the Age of Plunder, waste management is a low priority. The mountains of stinking garbage outside every urban center document at once the waste, the neglect of infrastructure, & the growing criminal disparity between rich & working poor. Children, elderly, migrants, & disabled are now forced to survive picking for recyclables through the stinking debris of hazardous waste including fecal matter, toxic chemicals, rotten food. Health hazards, especially respiratory illness, are part of the work.

This beautiful young girl deserves the best society can provide--not a life picking through other people’s waste. We need to work to make sure she reaches old age but an old age without the shackles of dispossession.

(Photo by David Brunetti)

Good riddance now, Maggie!

It sure took long enough to bury old Maggie but word is, it’s finally over. She got the military funeral she deserved since militarism was her middle name & destruction her only passion. It’s not hard to be an Iron Lady when you have an army & air force behind you. The real reason for the military send-off is they needed extra soldiers to supplement the 4,000 cops protecting her stinking corpse from English rebels lined up on the side lines of this funeral fiasco. If there were any actual mourners would they have needed the security barricades outside St. Paul’s Cathedral?

Reportedly, 2,300 people from 170 countries got tickets to the event. There wasn’t a miner or Irish Republican among them. But the cathedral was chock full of war criminals & other unsavory creeps that make you shudder: Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, the Windsor clan, & what are described as veterans of the Falklands war (meaning the generals who led it).

In his eulogy, the Bishop of London Richard Chartres outdid himself in sycophancy saying the funeral was no place to debate Maggie’s political legacy or the impact of her disastrous politics. It was instead the place to build mythology about her. When he praised her for personal kindness, it was all downhill from there. By the time he got to Maggie as feminist icon even Kissinger was rolling his eyes.

She’s getting cremated hoping thereby to escape the fires of hell. Satan didn’t set things up that way so Maggie’s granddaughter read this passage from Ephesians to console granny on her trip to hell:  “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” But Ephesians & that iron won’t do granny any good in hell. Good riddance now, Maggie!

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Deir Yassin and buried history of massacres

"Only when Israeli journalist Amir Gilat chose to run a story in Ma’ariv newspaper a few years ago, citing the research of Israeli Master’s degree student Theodore Katz, did Western media acknowledge the Tantura massacre. It mattered little that the descendants and relatives of 240 victims of that grief stricken village who were killed in cold blood by Alexandroni troops, never ceased remembering their loved ones. A “massacre” is only a massacre when half-heartedly acknowledged by an Israeli historian no matter how long it takes for that admission to resurface." Ramzy Broud
Abe Greenhouse @grinhoyz
For every person hoping Boston Marathon bombers won't turn out to be Muslims, there's some professional bigot desperately hoping they will.

Past attacks show dangers of following false trails in Boston bombings

Boston Marathon
Two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters
Just 24 hours after the Boston Marathon bomb attack, there is intense media interest in the identity of possible "persons of interest" or suspects. In the immediate aftermath of the explosions, some news organisations continued to report that a Saudi man was under police guard – even after investigators had explicitly denied that anybody had been arrested. On Tuesday, it emerged that the man had been questioned as a witness, not a suspect.
As the FBI and police begin sifting through what they have described as a variety of leads, it is inevitable that they will look at some individuals or groups who turn out to have had no involvement. Previous major investigations provide cautionary tales about the dangers of the investigators or the media rushing to judgment.
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'Muslims are evil. Let’s kill them all': Fox News guest Erik Rush provokes furious reaction with Boston bombing Twitter rants

Rush appeared to imply in a tweet that the culprit was from Saudi Arabia
While public officials were urging caution in the immediate aftermath of the bomb attack on the Boston Marathon, some were quick to apportion blame.

One of those was a Fox News guest commentator Erik Rush, who provoked a furious reaction after seemingly advocating the killing of Muslims in response to the attack.
With no information about the attackers yet made public, Mr Rush appeared to imply in a tweet that the culprit was from Saudi Arabia.
Read more

March of return to the destroyed village of Khubbayza, 16.4.2013

Palestinians take part in the "March of return" in the destroyed village of Khubbayza, north of Israel, as Israelis celebrate " independence day" April 16, 2013. The march is held every year to demand the right of return for the Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes during the 1948 war that followed the creation of the state of Israel.
Photo by: Shiraz Grinbaum/ Activestills.org

The death of children is a reason to demand no war, not more war!

We grieve the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, whose 6-year-old sister lost her leg & whose mother suffered a brain injury from the Boston bomb. The violence of little Martin’s death exposes the horrors millions of children in war zones endure in a way the US media detaches us from in order to make us indifferent. But the loss of this little boy is a tragedy & a crime not diminished by comparison to the suffering of millions of children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, DR Congo, Palestine, Bahrain, & so many other countries at the hands of US military aggression & global plunder.

Facing the horrors of this child’s death drives home the political imperative of protesting against US wars & of demanding the end of drone bombing of civilians. Children’s lives are more precious that the gold & oil & diamonds they are fought over. They are among the first victims of war & the primary reason for changing the world to make it suitable for them to live & love in. The US government will use Martin’s death to promote more war & less freedom. We must respond demanding no war & more freedom!

Here a Syrian man weeps while holding the body of his son, killed by the Syrian Army in  Aleppo, Syria (October 2012). The photo is one among several by an Associated Press team who just won a 2013 Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism.

(Photo by Manu Brabo/AP)

Indonesian activists fight for orangutans

Activists in Jakarta, Indonesia (dressed as injured orangutans, but hopefully that doesn’t have to be explained) protest to demand the Indonesian government take immediate action to save the animals from extinction. Orangutan populations in Indonesia's Borneo & Sumatra island face severe threats from habitat loss caused by deforestation for purposes of coal mining, palm oil plantations, oil & gas drilling.

The fortunes of Indonesia’s 12 billionaires, countless millionaires, & foreign investors are built on deforestation & plundering of resources so the oligarchs are unlikely to alter the profitable ventures causing not just extinction of orangutans but global warming & other environmental catastrophes such as regular massive flooding of the archipelago. The planet is held hostage to plunder until working people cut the Gordian knot.

(Photo by Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Deforestation in Indonesia

A veterinarian examines an injured orangutan found by environmental activists at a palm oil plantation in Rimba Sawang, Aceh province, Indonesia. The caption to this photo said, “Indonesia has lost half of its rain forests in the last half century, putting the remaining 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans that live in scattered, degraded forests in frequent, and often deadly, conflict with humans.”

Workers on palm oil plantations deliberately attack & kill orangutans who have lost their habitat to stop them from scavenging seedlings for food. Workers have an economic motive for killing orangutans since they have to pay companies for any loss of seedlings.

There is no evil fairy carrying off the rain forests; they are being deliberately cleared in a collusive plan between the Indonesian government & palm oil companies to make Indonesia the world’s largest palm oil producer for global food, bio-fuel, & chemical industry markets even though Malaysia & Indonesia already account for 85% of world production. Nearly 17 million hectares (42 million acres) of forest have already been cleared & about 7 million hectares (17 million acres) have been planted with the crop.

Deforestation for palm oil plantations has made Indonesia the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases which is involved in climate change & massive flooding of the tropical archipelago. Indonesia has laws for biodiversity conservation & the government has been urged by environmentalists & animal rights activists to enforce them. But canceling concessions to palm oil companies to protect orangutans & the environment would interfere with the massive fortunes being accrued & massive political pressure is required to even get the laws enforced.

(Photo by Binsar Bakkara/AP)

Monday, April 15, 2013

The bankruptcy of terrorism

As someone who ran the Boston Marathon several times & usually crossed the finish line in just over four hours--at the same time as the bombing today--I am horrified by the barbarism & cowardice & criminality of terrorism as a political method--including individual & state terrorism.

They still don't know who did this so it's too early for political judgements. The US government will ride its high horse & use this incident to clamp down more on civil liberties. That's why terrorism is so bankrupt as a political method. But US state terrorism, including drone attacks on innocent civilians in several countries, is the primary cause for individual acts of violence & desperation.

This is what changing the world is all about!

This is what changing the world is all about: the laughter & exuberance of children.

(Photographer not identified)

Eulogies for servility

Buckingham Palace minions have announced Betty Windsor will attend the elaborate military funeral of Thatcher on Wednesday. Betty & the old girl had so much in common: they shared the same hair dresser, both married creeps, & both spoke in the royal we. Apparently this aggravated Betty since she thought she was the only one who should refer to herself in the plural.

The obligatory chorus of eulogies from the world’s politicians pour in, led by Obama referring to Thatcher with her feudal title “Baroness” & calling her “one of the great champions of freedom & liberty.” Such praise don’t mean squat coming from the guy who maintains Guantanamo, is trying to destroy the Bill of Rights, & put seniors & the disabled out on the street.

Rehearsals with foot & mounted soldiers are going on to make sure the funeral comes off without a hitch. Political figures from around the world are flying in to pretend someone gives a damn the old girl croaked. But there won’t be a wet eye in the house so they’re hiring professional mourners to sit in the balconies at St. Paul’s Cathedral & wail up a storm.

This photo is of Thatcher greeting Betty (in 2005) with a curtsy. What greatness is there in servility to power!?

A private cremation will follow the funeral. The fires of hell will come later.

(Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

There is no neutral path to justice!

The US spares no expense--or indignity--in welcoming undocumented immigrants from Mexico & Central America. For those caught crossing the border without papers, first stop: a US Border Patrol detainee processing center. This photo is of a holding cell where young & old, male, female, & child detainees are processed--either for immediate deportation or to a modern concentration camp where entire families, including children are held--often in tent facilities.

Family detention centers for immigrants under the Obama regime are growing like octopuses. There have been many protests by immigration rights activists & hunger strikes at many facilities to protest human rights violations like verbal & physical abuse, lack of medical care, windowless facilities, improper diet (including maggots in the food), lack of due process.

There are an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minor children crossing the US-Mexican border (nearly 15,000 in 2012) who without sufficient social services or advocates are warehoused in military barracks without emotional or social services. They come seeking their parents or because they are orphaned & have no place else to go.

US working people have a choice to make: whose side are we on!? Screwing up that choice based on racism & xenophobia? Or advancing human liberation by choosing human solidarity! There is no third way.

Immigration is a human right! Open up the borders!

(Photo by John Moore/Getty)

Robert Hannaford

Robert Hannaford. Contemporary Australian. 'Grapes'. Oil on board.