Thursday, May 30, 2013

‘The Color Purple’ Author Alice Walker Pens Open Letter To Alicia Keys For Agreeing To Perform In Israel Despite Their History Of Violence And Says President Obama Is A Supporter Of Evil


Alice Walker Pens Open Letter To Alicia Keys Suggesting Israel Concert Boycott

Famed author Alice Walker is joining the growing number of artists and public figures who have chosen to boycott Israel due to their increasingly violent opposition towards the people of Palestine.
One artist who has not yet joined the anti-Isreal movement is R&B songstress Alicia Keys, who is currently scheduled to perform there in the near future. Alice Walker recently penned an open letter to Alicia, informing her of the situation between Isreal and Palestine before suggesting that she join her peers and cancel her performance.
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Political idiocy & public nakedness

Announcing the formation of a FEMEN chapter since I’ve learned political idiocy & public nakedness do not violate public indecency statutes in Texas. To do that I’d have to do a lot worse than use my breasts as a billboard; I’d have to affront “current community standards of decency.” But aye, there’s the rub since who the hell knows what those standards are!? Victoria’s Secret runways? Men’s magazines on sale at every news stall complete with foldouts? Though God knows, the racism & Islamophobia promoted by FEMEN beat in sync with prevailing political standards.

Per the statutes, one can’t promote prostitution or pornography or exploit children but one can strut about or stand on a soapbox half-naked as long as there is no reckless regard for offending or alarming on-lookers--presumably many of them minors. Do you think a senior woman letting it all hang out on a soapbox would alarm anyone? Would 911 send a police van & cart me in for mental health evaluation? Or would they just let me stand there making a fool of myself & civil liberties?

What will I use my breasts & soap box to promote? Well FEMEN needs dough to travel about agitating (since they don’t seem to have gainful employment) so I’ll be renting out my chest to retailers who’ve always used women & sex to sell--like auto dealers, strip clubs, tool manufacturers. I certainly wouldn’t disgrace feminism or the struggle for human rights by offending the eyes of small children. That way too I can distance myself from the racism that characterizes FEMEN politics. Though I haven't figured a way to distance myself from their misogyny of playing up to men.

I’ll let you know how it goes but if I don’t show up for a while you’ll know Texas found their statutes inadequate to the political iconoclasm of FEMEN.

(Photo from Muslim Women Against Femen Facebook page)

The beloved goat

Goats are probably classified as livestock & not allowed in most urban areas but hands down, they have to be the most playful & delightful pets. And they don’t stink--much! Today they make videos of mischievous goats to show people with Alzheimer’s & their caretakers since the affects are so powerful & positive. The ancient peoples of the Middle East & Mediterranean are said to have had a special bond with goats. In fact tragedy in theater comes from the ancient Greek word for “he-goat” combined with the word for “song.” That art form began as stories & songs about the naughtiness of goats--which didn’t stop the practice of sacrificing goats in religious rituals (which continues to today).

There’s a moral in this history for the goats: when human beings are laughing at your antics, work it for all you’re worth. But when they pull out an altar & a knife, hightail it out of town!

This is a goat walking up the little guy’s back in New Delhi, India. Hopefully for the goat there are no holidays coming up.

(Photo by Altaf Qadri/AP)

Anti-drone protest in Atlanta, Georgia

Some claim there is no US antiwar movement--& there is no question it is far too weak now to stay the hand of US military aggression. There are many reasons for this, none of which have been fully assessed, but including sectarian divisions among political forces who traditionally organize antiwar opposition. The main reason of course is simply that too few people know marches are going on & don’t show up to protest which is partly a function of media blackout on antiwar events.

But small & fragmented as it is, there is a cadre of activists--young & old, veterans, students, church groups, women’s groups, unionists--who form the ranks of opposition & work steadfastly & consistently to organize the antiwar movement. They rally in rain & snow undaunted by the relatively small turnouts & preparing for greater mobilizations. Some have been active for over 50 years & have seen the movement surge during the Vietnam War to millions of people & decline to thousands now. Size is no excuse for not participating; all that’s needed is commitment & a placard.

This is a group of activists protesting outside the hotel in Atlanta, Georgia where the International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drone aircraft) draws a criminal elite of academics, industry & government officials to discuss expansion of drone programs.

Hats off to our brothers & sisters in Atlanta!

(Photo by David Goldman/AP)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Continuing indigenous unrest over Belo Monte dam project

For the second time this month, over 200 indigenous protestors from several different tribes in the Brazilian Amazon disrupted the main construction site of the Belo Monte dam complex on the Xingu River near Altamira. Construction on Belo Monte has been halted several times by protests of indigenous communities, river dwellers, & fishermen demanding legislation protecting environmental & indigenous rights along with consultation with them on projects affecting their lands & livelihoods. Since the government & building consortium continue to flagrantly ignore them, they are demanding immediate suspension of construction, all technical studies, & police & military operations against them. Indigenous communities say the occupations will continue indefinitely or until the federal government meets their demands.

During previous protests at Belo Monte construction sites, dam workers were expelled & construction operations shut down; at one point over 6,000 dam workers were forced to halt work. Recent strikes & protests by dam workers have only added to the unrest. Other indigenous peoples & local communities have protested a cascade of large dams slated for construction on the nearby Tapajós River & its tributaries. One of the first dams under construction is the subject of litigation, once again for lack of consultation with the affected indigenous peoples. Recently there was outrage when funeral urns of the Munduruku people were removed by dam contractors at a site considered sacred by indigenous tribes.

To counter the protests, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff dispatched federal & military troops to occupy & ensure that dam construction goes ahead & that operations are not interrupted at Belo Monte or at the Tapajós River project.

This letter from indigenous peoples of the Xingu & Tapajós regions explains in the clearest language what is at dispute for them:

“We are the people who live in the rivers where you want to build dams. We are the Munduruku, Juruna, Kayapo, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakanã, Arara, fishermen and peoples who live in riverine communities. We are Amazonian peoples and we want the forest to stand. We are Brazilians. The river and the forest are our supermarket. Our ancestors are older than Jesus Christ.

You are pointing guns at our heads. You raid our territories with war trucks and soldiers. You have made the fish disappear and you are robbing the bones of our ancestors who are buried on our lands.

You do this because you are afraid to listen to us. You are afraid to hear that we don’t want dams on our rivers, and afraid to understand why we don’t want them.

You invent stories that we are violent and that we want war. Who are the ones killing our relatives? How many white people have died in comparison to how many Indigenous people have died? You are the ones killing us, quickly or slowly. We're dying and with each dam that is built, more of us will die. When we try to talk with you, you bring tanks, helicopters, soldiers, machine guns and stun weapons.

What we want is simple: You need to uphold the law and promote enacting legislation on free, prior and informed consent for indigenous peoples. Until that happens you need to stop all construction, studies, and police operations in the Xingu, Tapajos and Teles Pires rivers. And then you need to consult us.

We want dialogue, but you are not letting us speak. This is why we are occupying your dam-building site. You need to stop everything and simply listen to us.”

(Photo by Lunae Parracho/Reuters)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

(Via The Angry Arab): Jaffa mass grave: not covered by US media protecting Zionist crimes

Fate alone led to the discovery of mass graves in Jaffa, some of which date to before the Palestinian nakba of 1948. These graves contained the remains of hundreds of martyrs, including youngsters, and with them hundreds of stories that the occupation forces buried under the sands of time, perhaps wagering that they would be forever forgotten.
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Interesting observation by the Angry Arab

"Yesterday, As-Safir talked to the families of those who died fighting with Hizbullah in Syria. Today, As-Safir talked to the families of those who died fighting with Syrian Salafites in Syria.  Is the principle of covering two sides so difficult for Western media on Syria?"

Is it the end of Sykes-Picot?

Patrick Cockburn on the war in Syria and the threat to the Middle East

London Review of Books
...........Fear of widespread disorder and instability is pushing the US, Russia, Iran and others to talk of a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Some sort of peace conference may take place in Geneva over the next month, with the aim at least of stopping things getting worse. But while there is an appetite for diplomacy, nobody knows what a solution would look like. It’s hard to imagine a real agreement being reached when there are so many players with conflicting interests. Five distinct conflicts have become tangled together in Syria: a popular uprising against a dictatorship which is also a sectarian battle between Sunnis and the Alawite sect; a regional struggle between Shia and Sunni which is also a decades-old conflict between an Iranian-led grouping and Iran’s traditional enemies, notably the US and Saudi Arabia. Finally, at another level, there is a reborn Cold War confrontation: Russia and China v. the West. The conflict is full of unexpected and absurd contradictions, such as a purportedly democratic and secular Syrian opposition being funded by the absolute monarchies of the Gulf who are also fundamentalist Sunnis. By savagely repressing demonstrations two years ago Bashar al-Assad helped turn mass protests into an insurrection which has torn Syria apart. He is probably correct in predicting that diplomacy will fail, that his opponents inside and outside Syria are too divided to agree on a peace deal. He may also be right in believing that greater foreign intervention ‘is a clear probability’. The quagmire is turning out to be even deeper and more dangerous than it was in Iraq."

Who but Israel would honour such a vomit-inducing far right crook?

A Mogul Comes to Lunch, and He Doesn’t Hold His Tongue
"JERUSALEM — Sheldon G. Adelson is perhaps best known as a conservative casino mogul who spent tens of millions of dollars last year trying to defeat President Obama. But he is a larger-than-life lightning rod in Israel, too."

One gets fed up sometimes. War criminal occupiers should understand!

BBC poll: Israel among world's least popular nations

The world's opinion of Israel has not improved in the last year: According to BBC World Service's annual poll, Israel is one of the least popular countries in the world; the only states less popular are North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Guatemala's highest court annuls Rios Montt genocide verdict

On May 20th, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court annulled the genocide conviction (on May 10th) of former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt in an action as outrageous as it was predictable. Beside overturning the genocide conviction, legal proceedings are set back to where they stood on April 19th when his lawyers pulled a legal stunt & were briefly expelled from the courtroom. The entire legal procedure has become a three-ring circus combining farce, tomfoolery, injustice, & is likely to eventually end with impunity for genocide.

The conflict began as a (probably orchestrated) jurisdiction dispute between two judges.  The first judge (once bounced from the trial) ordered the trial suspended over alleged procedural errors in the evidentiary phase. The presiding judge ordered the trial to proceed & when a defense lawyer accused the presiding judge of bias she bounced him from the courtroom. Some reports say the reversal is caused by the jurisdiction dispute; others claim those few hours in which Rios Montt was without legal representation have set the case back. (Rios Montt rejected a public defender appointed by the judge.) All the harrowing testimonies & witness statements from that point onwards will have to be repeated along with closing arguments.

Some reporters describe this as the complexities, convolutions, & labyrinth of the Guatemalan legal system; one says it probably takes a doctorate in Guatemalan law to unravel. How about calling a spade a spade & acknowledging the Guatemalan judicial system is completely compromised, its officials connected to the genocide they are litigating & tasked with covering for Rios Montt’s guilty ass!? All the lawyer stunts, procedural & jurisdictional disputes, & warring judges are part of putting on a show trial that mock justice. And the Mayan victims & witnesses fully understand that.

Rios Montt took a page from the book of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak when a day after the trial (when he was supposed to go to jail) he was transferred to a military hospital after fainting. His lawyers claim he has a raft of health problems from heart disease to hypertension to respiratory & prostrate problems. Psychopathy & genocide can really take a toll on a man even when he is without shame.

It is unclear when the new trial will begin since it has been difficult to find judges to preside. Reportedly hundreds have declined being involved in proceedings against Rios Montt. But Mayan activists say they are willing to press ahead fully aware of the eventual possibility of dismissal.

The man in this photo holding the photo of Juan Perez, a victim of the genocide, is outside the Constitutional Court of Guatemala on May 24, 2013 in Guatemala City to protest the annulment of the genocide verdict.

(Photo by Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images)

From the annals of the US Civil Rights Movement 1964

From the annals of the US Civil Rights Movement: a protest in Cambridge, Maryland in 1964. In the early 1960s, a leading civil rights group, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) targeted Cambridge for a campaign to desegregate public accommodations (schools, housing, retail stores, etc.). Gloria Richardson & her high school daughter, Donna, were leading figures in the movement leading many demonstrations. In summer 1963, the US Department of Justice under Robert F. Kennedy negotiated the “Treaty of Cambridge” enjoining the city to end de facto segregation but allowing this ruling to go up for vote in a public referendum.

Segregationists mobilized racist & conservative forces against what they called “forced integration” & incited white violence against the Black community. The vote on the referendum divided the Civil Rights Movement, with Richardson calling for a boycott because it was a sly maneuver to outsmart the movement & Martin Luther King, Jr. calling on voters to mobilize since the struggle for the vote was so pivotal in the Deep South.

Mostly importantly, the governor of Maryland moved in the National Guard ostensibly to keep the peace between the Black & white communities. But since the Black community  was under attack by white vigilantes we would expect to see photos of the National Guard holding back white gangs from entering the Black community, not assaulting civil rights activists, as we see here.

Richardson was radicalized by her experience & went on to work with Malcolm X & others to build a new civil rights group ACT “to counteract the ‘paralyzing’ effect that mainstream civil rights organizations such as the NAACP & SCLC” had on the Black liberation movement. She worked with Malcolm X until his assassination on February 21st 1965.

(Photo by Danny Lyon, a photojournalist who chronicled the US Civil Rights Movement)

Behind the Candelabra

For those who grew up in the early days of television, the Liberace show was de rigueur watching. Being a Midwesterner, he combined the down-home manners of the region with Las Vegas glitz & flamboyance into quite a weekly spectacle. His shy, diffident brother George played the violin & his proud mama’s appearances added just the right touch of homespun to way over-the-top schmaltz.

And now to learn from the new biographical movie, “Behind the Candelabra” that our man was quite a shyster & a phony working us all like damn fools. He denied being gay in his lifetime & litigated furiously against any who even suggested he was--though as little kids, we knew he was gay before we knew what sex was. The movie is based on the biography of his exploitative relationship with a much younger chauffeur-companion named Scott Thorson.

It’s no news he was conservative politically & religiously all his life, that he loved the Papacy despite its views of homosexuality & even performed for Pope Pius XII, a sympathizer of the Nazis. He loved capitalism & all the pomp & luxury it bought him. That was all evident in his TV schtick but especially in the numerous companies he shilled for, including banks, insurance, car, & food companies, & most appropriately of all, morticians.

But the most unkindest cut of all? To learn he groveled like a starstruck Justin Bieber fan when he hobnobbed with politicians & royalty--even once doing a special command performance for Betty Windsor. (They must have had to get one of those Beefeaters to wipe the slobber off the keyboard.) She must have envied his royal attire & should certainly consult his stylist!

He was no great shakes as a pianist or singer but for a generation reared on schmaltz & the Mitch Miller chorus he sounded like haute culture to us. This poster is how I remember the Liberace TV persona of my childhood, long before he began abusing cosmetic surgery to hide the sycophancy becoming etched in his face. The film may have less value in exposing how Liberace had us all fooled than it has in revealing the power of TV & film to shape public opinion & convince us all to love that which oppresses us.

5 Most Horrifying Things About Monsanto—Why You Should Join the Global Movement and Protest on Saturday

Fed up with health concerns, environmental threats and political corruption, a Utah mom organizes a global movement against the biotech giant.
Fed up with the fact that she has to spend “a small fortune” in order to feed her family things she says “aren’t poisonous,” Tami Canal of Utah has organized a global movement against the giant chemical and seed corporation Monsanto. Monsanto is the conglomerate mastermind behind many of the pesticides and genetically engineered seeds that pervade farm fields around the world.  Monsanto produces the world’s top-selling herbicide; 40 percent of US crops contain its genes; it spends millions lobbying the government each year; and several of its factories are now toxic  Superfund sites.
Canal, who has a 17-month-old baby and a six-year-old girl, cites concerns over public health, adverse affects on the environment, and political corruption as her motivation to organize against the biotech giant. And her concern has resonated. Protesters around the world have responded to Canal’s call to action, and will amplify their dissatisfaction with the corporation in a “March Against Monsanto” on May 25. 

Meet Netanyahu's Refusenik Nephew Who Says That Israel Is an Apartheid State, Supports BDS

Jonathan Ben-Artzi reveals a perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is completely missing from the discourse in the U.S.
Jonathan Ben-Artzi, a mathematician at Cambridge University, is a young Israeli who refused to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, and was imprisoned for over a year for doing so. Ben-Artzi echoes the views of many Israeli peace activists – a view almost totally missing from the discourse in this country. He laments the fact that, in his view, the country has indeed become an “apartheid state,” and supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) – positions that are considered way beyond the pale in the U.S.
Although brave, Ben-Artzi's story is not terribly remarkable. Refuseniks, as they're known in Israel, are few in number but not unheard of. What makes Ben-Artzi's experience especially noteworthy is that his uncle is Israel's right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

First photographs of ‘Arabs with Altitude’ and Palestinian flag atop Everest

Palestinian-American, Raed Zidan displaying Palestinian flag on the Summit of Mt. Everest
Three men from a group calling themselves "Arabs with Altitude" ascended to the summit of Mt. Everest on May 22.  Among them was Palestinian-American Raed Zidan, who lives in Indianapolis and Dubai.  The 41-year-old climber became the first Palestinian man to scale the world's tallest mountain. A Palestinian woman got there in 2011.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Iznik Pottery ( Turkey,16th Century)


Islamic Art & Architecture

Sam Bahour: Why Palestine is different

Secretary of State John Kerry is making an all-out effort to restart peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Many well-intentioned people with hands-on experience in resolving other longstanding, global issues, like those of Ireland, South Africa, and U.S. civil rights have engaged in the Palestinian-Israeli issue. While there is always a great deal to learn from other global experiences, the case of Palestine is different and unless Secretary Kerry recognizes this all efforts will be in vain. Three issues related to this conflict that are crucial to understand are: historic guilt, colonial responsibility, and the U.S. “special relationship” with Israel.

Why did ‘NYT’ serve as platform for ‘military propaganda’?

In case you still have illusions about the credibility of the New York Times.

Variety Mag: ‘Omar’ and ‘Condom Lead’ Will Fly Palestine Flag at Cannes

‘Omar’ and ‘Condom Lead’ Will Fly Palestine Flag at Cannes Breaking news: "Omar" wins the Selection Committee Award at Cannes Festival
Ahmed and Mohamed Abu Nasser were born in 1988 in Gaza, where there are no movie theaters. But the twins, who work under the names Tarzan and Arab, were determined to make movies, so they would run home from school to their computer, where they would watch six, seven films in a single run, and then dream up imaginary plots and titles and make posters for the pretend projects.


Friday, May 24, 2013

KKKKaty steals the show at Betty's garden party

Betty Windsor held another garden party where Beefeaters in those foolish medieval getups stood stoically while sycophants (attired in tuxedos & those ghastly hats derived from horse track culture) tried to maintain an air of aristocracy while groveling & sniveling. It’s an art even the English aristoi can’t manage which explains their particularly constipated demeanors & the way their lips contort when they talk.

All eyes were on KKKKaty’s baby bump so as to ignore the matronly coat in canary yellow she wore to hide it. The designer coat cost £1,285 (which is a bundle in US dollars too) but fashion writers report she so brightened up a dull party it was worth cutting children’s disability benefits to pay for.

KKKKaty & the other aristoi aren’t known for their snappy patter or their clever repartee so the  most noteworthy thing that happened is that she was spotted resting her hands beneath her baby bump at one point. Like many pregnant women, she was probably trying to hold her pee but Buckingham doesn’t like to publicly acknowledge bodily functions in the moochocracy. They’re above that banality. But be assured they have a whole raft of others!

(Photo by Getty)

Plunder has really gone far enough!

Globally the predatory oligarchs have targeted pensions & social securities to pay for their economic crisis.  In the US many pensioners are buying dog food (swill in a can) for themselves & scrounge for food after the exorbitant rents are paid. Many unable to afford rents are made homeless. Here elderly in Athens, Greece are scurrying like rats to collect free vegetables from a handout by striking street vendors.

This has really gone far enough! We paid little attention while they plundered other countries & thought it none of our affair. Now they’ve come for us. If we don’t get organized & join forces with brothers & sisters around the world to stop this plundering we’re going to end up back in the stone age--& not very far down the road!

It’s an inglorious sight to see elderly who’ve worked all their lives scrounging for the basic needs of life. We have the power through unity & solidarity to transform this world, to wrest it from the predators. It’s a monumental task but the Arab uprisings show the way. We need to learn from them, be inspired by them, study their victories & defeats, & not be daunted. We have nothing to lose but our chains!

(Photo by Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg)

Injustice has a long memory

One month after the collapse of Rana Plaza this woman is holding a photo of her missing daughter at a graveyard in Dhaka, Bangladesh where 290 “unclaimed” bodies were buried after DNA samples were taken. Her grief must be overwhelming since she doesn’t know what happened to her beloved daughter.

The catastrophe, recognized as the worst tragedy in the history of the garment sweatshop industry, caused the deaths of 1,127 people. This photo should be used as evidence in a courtroom prosecuting all the nattily dressed, manicured criminals involved in maintaining sweatshops. But we don’t live in a fair world. There’s no statute of limitations for murder however & injustice has a long memory. As we collaborate with our brothers & sisters around the world to end the sweatshop production system keep this woman & her daughter in mind. The necessary prosecutions may well yet come.

(Photo by A.M. Ahad/AP)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May our brothers & sisters RIP; may we do everything in our power for immigration rights!

Millions of undocumented immigrants endure the most outrageous humiliations, criminality, danger, & violations of human rights in order to find work & support their loved ones usually left behind. Hundreds of them die gruesomely & violently along the way. The US-Mexico border is scattered with their remains & makeshift graveyards are set up with unmarked graves. One medical examiner in Laredo, TX, on her own initiative does DNA testing & makes attempts to identify those who died in order to notify & return them to their families for burial.

Getting across the border, which entails fording, swimming, or boating the Rio Grande or scaling the monstrous barrier wall is only the first stage of this horrific odyssey. Once across, they have to hide out in stifling heat in sugar cane fields & dense foliage while trying to elude border patrol agents.

Mind you, all sorts of people are crossing: older displaced workers & young men, unaccompanied old & young women, & an estimated 25,000 unaccompanied minors in 2012. They come from Mexico, from Central America, & the US-Texas border has the highest rate of those termed “OTM” (Other Than Mexican) by the border patrol--which means immigrants from India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Africa, & elsewhere.

If they successfully, with or without the help of a “coyote” (human smuggler), get past this obstacle, they still must travel north. About 85 miles from the border at Falfurrias, Texas (& in other locations on north-bound roads), there is a border patrol checkpoint. You know you’re approaching it when you start to see dozens of border patrol vehicles & many cars pulled over for inspection.

The checkpoint at Falfurrias operates year-round 24 hours a day, is equipped with K-9 units, x-ray scanners & highly trained (if not also nasty-assed) border patrol agents. The land around the checkpoint, mostly ranch land, is heavily patrolled by agents in trucks, on ATVs & on horseback & armed vigilante ranchers. To get around the checkpoint coyotes accompany immigrants through the area or hire others to do so & arrange to pick them up at a safe location farther north. Many immigrants can’t afford a coyote & make this treacherous passage on their own. They often don’t make it due to scorching heat & the aggressive ranchers. Most die from heat exhaustion & dehydration.

This is a photo of unidentified immigrants among 50 whose bodies were exhumed in Falfurrias so teams from Baylor University & the University of Indianapolis can examine & cross check DNA sent from Mexico & Central American countries with the hope of returning their remains to families for burial. These deaths are an unspeakable crime & an abomination that must be opposed & ended!

Immigration is a human right! No human being is illegal! Open the damn borders!

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Garment factory collapse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Just as the catastrophe in Bangladesh is phasing out of the headlines, these rescuers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia began searching for workers after a garment factory collapsed into a rubbish-filled pond on Monday. There were no deaths but 23 people were hospitalized for injuries, including a pregnant woman pulled from the waters who said she cannot swim & feared for her baby. What makes this accident so alarming is that last Thursday, the Wing Star shoe factory in Phnom Penh collapsed, killing 2 & injuring 7 people. Wing Star made Asic sneakers for a Japanese firm that sells them worldwide.

We’re learning from all the accidents that the global sweatshop industry is run by the criminally insane. Well-heeled & dressed to the nines, but dangerous as hell! Ken Loo, the secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia said the Wing Star collapse was a “one-off accident” & insisted we have to be reasonable & can’t just charge factories with negligence. He said it was hard for factory management to control workers after these accidents, that “Procedures exist, but workers panic and don’t follow them.” Mr. Loo wasn’t so voluble after the second collapse 5 days later.

There’s apparently been some oversight of the sweatshop industry in Cambodia by labor groups including the UN International Labor Organization (ILO). In 1999, they set up the Better Factories program in a quid pro quo agreement between the US & Cambodia where the ILO audited work conditions in exchange for exporting garments tariff-free to the US. They claim it kept Cambodia’s export factories free of child labor & “nearly free of so-called sweatshop conditions.” But in another report the ILO admitted it’s extremely difficult to give exact figures on child labor anywhere because children often work in locked shops with armed guards preventing entrance & exit.

In 2005, the preferential trade agreement between the US & Cambodia ended & those “nearly free” of sweatshop conditions reverted to an entirely free of worker’s rights state, including a sharp reduction in the minimum wage. A 2010 report by the Cambodian government found nearly half of garment workers were anemic, a condition associated with malnourishment. A snappily attired Mr. Ken Loo (who really ought to learn to keep his trap shut) said the minimum wage “provides enough nutrients to survive, but it doesn’t mean you won’t feel hungry.” Like was said, the overlords in the sweatshop industry are dangerous & they aren’t all there!

It isn’t the ILO who will bring justice to the garment industry & end the sweatshop production system. It is labor organization, unions that fight (& not just collect dues to give to politicians that talk big about working people), & solidarity between working people all over the world under the mantra “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Speaking of solidarity, these are the (mainly US) companies refusing to sign the Bangladesh safety agreement: Walmart, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Macy’s, Sears, Kmart, JC Penny, Target, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, American Eagle Outfitters, The Children’s Place, Foot Locker, Carter, OshKosh B’gosh, Cato Fashions, VF Corp, Northface, Wrangler & Vans. The agreement was unlikely to have much force but these retailers signify their commitment to sweatshop production by refusing to sign. Show solidarity by refusing to buy their “made by children” rags.

(Photo by Mak Remissa/EPA)

Widely denounced as ‘propaganda,’ Israel’s report on al-Dura calls attention to 950 other child killings

Phil Weiss (Mondoweiss)
Israel's release of a report [full text here] asserting that 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura was not killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2000, and may not even have been injured by Israelis, has had the opposite effect to that which the government intended: The report is being widely mocked, and several commentators have turned attention to the staggering numbers of Palestinians children killed by Israel inside the occupation.
And as we indicated yesterday, The New York Times seems to have been hurt by its credulous coverage of the report. In fact, Robert Mackey at the Times today offers a far more balanced account of the report than the original story.
Read more

Pamela Olson author of Fast Time in Palestine: There’s been a sea change in US opinion on the conflict

"It’s hard to over-state how much the climate has changed in the past decade. A filmmaker friend summed it up: You used to need extra security to bring a pro-Palestine speaker to campus. Now you need extra security to bring a pro-Israel speaker.
At Oklahoma University, when I spoke to students in the flagship Middle East studies program, I felt utterly redundant. They already knew everything I was saying. The argument in class wasn’t whether Israelis or Palestinians were to blame, but whether Israel had totally destroyed the two-state solution. (Some of the students thanked me for being straightforward and not dancing around the issues like most “experts” did. I told them that was one benefit of not having a mainstream career to lose.)
 In the most remote place I spoke -- Seminole State College in a small town in Oklahoma -- the faculty were fascinated and expressed gratitude that I was bringing them “the other side of the story.” The students asked not whether my stories were true but how it felt to be in the middle of them. That was as big a surprise to me as any."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The racism & criminality of Israeli immigration policy

Reposting this from December 2012 since it shows not only the racism & criminality of Israeli immigration policy but the plundering military & economic role Israel is playing in Africa (& elsewhere) creating the massive dislocation of millions of people:

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 of June 2012 immigration rights protest in Tel Aviv from CNN video)

Palestinian refugees in Egypt

Israeli immigration policy under its Law of Return is a mountain of sarcasms. While deporting tens of thousands of undocumented African immigrants (many back to a war zone), it flies in Ethiopian, Indian, & Peruvian immigrants claiming to be one of the lost tribes of Israel after fundamentalist Christian missionaries filled their heads with such nonsense & even though they were unable to pass repeated DNA tests looking for the sacred Jewish Y-chromosome.

While Zionist scouts are prowling the planet to find those with (or without) that special Y-chromosome to settle & wrest Palestine from its rightful claimants, there are over 5 million registered Palestinian refugees, with over 1.5 million still living in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, & the West Bank. Under Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing, these refugees are not allowed to return to their homeland.

There are also thousands of unregistered refugees who recently (May 15th) joined other Palestinians in commemorating the 65th anniversary of Naqba Day (or Day of Catastrophe), when Zionist paramilitary thugs backed by Britain employed massacres to forcibly expel Palestinians & seize their lands.

The children sitting on plastic sacks of garbage in this photo are the 3rd generation of 3,000 Palestinian refugees from the city of Bir el-Sabae (renamed Beersheba) who fled to Egypt & now live in the impoverished village of Gezirat al-Fadel (about 150 kilometers/93 miles east of Cairo) where the roads are still dirt. The Egyptian government does not allow them access to public sector jobs or free education & health care. Because they’re unable to afford even the low-cost government schools nearby, most are illiterate. Instead of school, the children help their parents sift through garbage for recyclables to sell--one of the few ways they’re allowed to earn a living in Egypt. Homes, made of mud brick with straw & palm leaf roofs, have no kitchens so meals are cooked on portable gas burners.

The UN Relief & Works Agency which provides assistance to registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, or Lebanon does not have offices in Egypt & does not offer the Palestinians of Gezirat al-Fadel any aid & for that matter, does not include them in the official count of Palestinian refugees.

Support Palestinian refugees by demanding No US Aid to Israel & by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729.)

(Photo/Khalil Hamra/AP)

Kennedy’s insistence on right of return prompted Ben-Gurion to rewrite history: They fled ‘of their own free will’

Via Mondoweiss:
"Incredible piece of reporting on the Nakba at 'Haaretz' from Shay Hazkani, and meaningful at many levels. It shows what the scholar Victor Kattan has documented, that several US presidents were for the right of return. Kennedy wanted several hundred thousand to be allowed to return, and Israel said 20-30,000. And then US policy on the right changed under Clinton, in 1994, as Rashid Khalidi has stated. Hazkani:
 Ben-Gurion appeared to have known the facts well. Even though much material about the Palestinian refugees in Israeli archives is still classified, what has been uncovered provides enough information to establish that in many cases senior commanders of the Israel Defense Forces ordered Palestinians to be expelled and their homes blown up. The Israeli military not only updated Ben-Gurion about these events but also apparently received his prior authorization, in written or oral form, notably in Lod and Ramle, and in several villages in the north. Documents available for perusal on the Israeli side do not provide an unequivocal answer to the question of whether an orderly plan to expel Palestinians existed. In fact, fierce debate on the issue continues to this day. For example, in an interview with Haaretz the historian Benny Morris argued that Ben-Gurion delineated a plan to transfer the Palestinians forcibly out of Israel, though there is no documentation that proves this incontrovertibly.
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Israeli report on al-Durra case is vengeful and ‘surreal,’ says Haaretz — but ‘NYT’ treats it as gospel

Al Dura family at his grave
From a al-Dura family, including Jamal (l), at Mohammed al-Dura's grave
Famously, 12-year-old Muhammad al-Dura was killed in the second intifada, during a shootout in Gaza in September 2000; haunting footage of the boy's cowering with his father, first broadcast on French public television, became a symbol of the brutality of the occupation. But this weekend the Israeli government produced a report asserting that the boy and his father may well have escaped the shootout unscathed.
The Guardian emphasizes the political stakes for Israel in making this assertion:
Yuval Steinitz, the minister of strategic affairs, who presented the report, described the affair as "a modern-day blood libel against the state of Israel … The France 2 report was utterly baseless."
But the French reporter who first broadcast the footage on France2, says that Israel didn't even interview the boy's father, Jamal, and that witnesses to the killing are willing to undergo polygraph tests. Charles Enderlin:
Aucune autorité israélienne n'a contacté France 2, Jamal al Dura, Talal Abou Rahmeh le cameraman à des fins d'enquête ou d'autres protagonistes.
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Hollywood stars shun pro-Israeli diamond store

Salma Hayek, Halle Berry, Sharon Stone and Drew Barrymore rejected use of their images on Leviev's website
Salma Hayek, Halle Berry, Sharon Stone and Drew Barrymore rejected use of their images on Leviev's website
Hollywood stars have called for their pictures to be removed from the website of a diamond company that is associated with settlement expansion in Israel and human rights violations in Africa.

The diamond stores owned by Jewish-American billionaire Lev Leviev had to remove pictures of several actresses after they complained of being linked to a company that funds settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories, a statement issued by the pro-Palestinian human rights group Adalah- New York said. 

America's hidden agenda in Syria's war

It was some six months ago that Syrian rebel commanders met US intelligence officers in Jordan to discuss the status of the war and, the rebels hoped, to secure supplies of the sophisticated weapons they need to overthrow President Bashar Al Assad.
But according to one of the commanders present at the meeting, the Americans were more interested in talking about Jabhat Al Nusra, the Al Qaeda-affiliated group waging war on the Syrian regime than they were in helping the rebels advance on Damascus.

Palestinian activists sue Israel for the return of 6,000 books.

Anahid Melikian, left, and her niece Anahid Melikian Helewa have tried to find out about their family's books from the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa. Marianne Helm for The National
In December 1948, eight months after the start of the war that created Israel, Khalil Beidas locked the door to his Jerusalem home's library, a three-metre-high, floor-to-ceiling collection of more than 6,000 books that had been his most prized asset.
The 75-year-old prominent Palestinian intellectual then escaped to Lebanon, where he died less than a year later - partly, his grandson says, because of the emotional pain from the loss of his library.

Bradley Burston on Israel's racist rabbis

We all owe Israel's racist rabbis a vote of thanks

Rabbis who signed a ruling against leasing to Arabs have put an end to the notion of rabbinic authority and have freed us to be Jews on our own terms. 

  Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.

"Just listen to how the letter ends: "The neighbors and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracize] him until he goes back on this harmful deed."
In their level-eyed bigotry, their ironclad insensitivity, their untouchable, corrupting, bureaucracy-based immunity, they have taught us finally to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain of Oral Law."

Haaretz: Palestinian film on love and occupation breaks new ground at Cannes

'Omar', a political thriller by director Hany Abu-Assad, is the first film to be fully funded by the Palestinian cinema industry. 
Palestinian director Hany Abu Assad (C) and the cast of "Omar" at Cannes Film Festival 
 Palestinian director Hany Abu Assad (C) and the cast of "Omar" at Cannes Film Festival 
A tragic love story between two Palestinians living under Israeli occupation received a standing ovation at the Cannes film festival on Monday and broke new ground as the first film fully funded by the Palestinian cinema industry.
"Omar" by director Hany Abu-Assad, known for the 2005 award-winning film "Paradise Now", is a political thriller interwoven with a story of trust and betrayal as two lovers are torn apart by Israel's secret police and Palestinian freedom fighters.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Discovered file in Israeli archives: Ben Gurion tried to supress the evidence for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians

Arab refugees from villages near Tulkarm 
Catastrophic thinking: Did Ben-Gurion try to rewrite history? 

The file in the state archives contains clear evidence that the researchers at the time did not paint the full picture of Israel's role in creating the Palestinian refugee problem. 

 The documents in the file, which date from 1960 to 1964, describe the evolution of the Israeli version of the Palestinian Nakba (“The Catastrophe”) of 1948. Under the leadership of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, top Middle East scholars in the Civil Service were assigned the task of providing evidence supporting Israel’s position − which was that, rather than being expelled in 1948, the Palestinians had fled of their own volition. 

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Jihadists' control of Syrian oilfields signals a decisive moment in conflict

Source of funding is helping al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra to sideline western-backed rebels and reshape the Middle East
The stranglehold that Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies have achieved over Syria's oilfields signals a decisive moment in the conflict that will shape the rapidly and violently evolving map of the new Middle East.
The impact is immediately visible. With a new independent source of funding, the jihadists holding the oilfields between al-Raqqa and Deir Ezzor are much better equipped than their Sunni rivals, reinforcing the advantage originally provided by Qatari backing. They have been able to provide bread and other essentials to the people in the areas under their control, securing an enduring popular base.
This serves to marginalise the western-backed rebels, the National Coalition and the Supreme Military Council (SMC), even further. The blustering claim by the SMC commander, Salim Idriss, that he was going to muster a 30,000 force to retake the oilfields served only to undermine his credibility.
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Israel ranked 5th in gap between rich & poor

It was common for Zionists even up to the 1970s to boast that Israel, with its kibbutzim, was a socialist country--but of course, they’ve long since dropped that claim like a hot potato. Last week the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) released a report ranking Israel 5th among countries with the widest gap between rich & poor (after Chile, Mexico, Turkey & the US) & the highest poverty rate among OECD countries. The data showed Israel’s poverty rate at close to 21% of the population in 2011 (compared to an 11% average in the other countries). According to a member of the Knesset, those worst affected are children & elderly. In fact, the OECD reports the child poverty rate for all OECD countries as just over 13% but in Israel it is nearly 29%, with the 4th largest rise in child poverty between 2007-2011.

Last week it was also reported that Netanyahu spent $127,000 of public funds on a customized sleeping cabin in an El Al plane for the five-hour flight to attend Thatcher's funeral. That scandal follows on the heels of a report that under Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister, household spending on his official & private residences grew by 80%, including food & hosting expenses, cleaning, wardrobe, shoes, makeup & hair treatment, & a special budget for high-end ice cream. The scoop on Netanyahu is from an Israeli watchdog group reported in Israeli media.

The OECD, a think tank representing 34 countries, is a staunch partisan of neoliberal austerity policies that have exacerbated inequities & human immiseration all over the planet; it’s set up to facilitate neoliberal policies. OECD secretary-general & international banker Angel Gurría is a real wisecracker. He says the findings highlight the need to protect society’s most vulnerable & not neglect fairness while they go about installing draconian austerity measures. There’d be a place for the guy on the “Colbert Report” or “Saturday Night Live” except what really concerns Señor Gurría is the increasing massive & international opposition to the predations of neoliberal policies.

In this photo, an elderly Israeli man begs in a market place in Jerusalem. He’s too old to serve in the Israeli army, no longer a match for Palestinian activists, & thus no use to the Zionist regime. But the growing political cleavage between rich & poor can shake up the thinking of young Israelis & lead them to rethink the promises & projects of Zionism. Or they can blame it all on the Palestinians. The divide is more than between rich & poor & the stakes are high.

(Photo by Abir Sultan/EP)

Craig Murray raises a questionable part played by Turkey in the Mavi Mrmara murders

 The Mavi Marmara Murders 
Craig Murray:
"Shortly before sailing, the registration was switched from Turkey to the Comoros Islands. This exempted Turkey from the responsibility of jurisdiction. It also made discussion at NATO much easier for the US; if the Israelis had attacked in international waters a ship flying the flag of a NATO state, that would have been a much more difficult thing for the alliance to ignore.
It turns out that the change was made at the insistence of the Turkish Ministry of Transport. They carried out a number of inspections of the Mavi Marmara prior to the Gaza trip and made repeated demands for changes: mattresses and cushions had to have more modern, fire resistant foam. Internal walls had to be upgraded for fire resistance. Whatever changes were then made, the Ministry found new faults. In the end, the Ministry had said that the Mavi Marmara would be impounded unless it changed its registration, as it could not meet the safety requirements for a Turkish flagged ship.
The strange thing is that the Mavi Marmara had been Turkish flagged for years, and hade been running tourist cruises out of Istanbul. None of the faults the Ministry found resulted from any changes, yet none had apparently been a problem on past inspections. The family told me that, before the Mavi Marmara sailed, they had been in no doubt the Turkish government had been deliberately obstructive and had forced the change of flag."
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US out of Haiti!

This photo, submitted to the National Geographic Traveler Magazine for its annual competition, is showcased as one of their favorite entries this week under the category “Sense of Place.” The titles & captions are written by the entrants so National Geographic doesn’t have to take the rap on this ignominy.

The photographer was part of a Christian mission group called Healing Haiti whose mission statement says that for between $700 & $950 airfare you can have the life experience of “delivering water in Cite Soleil or helping in orphanages & holding sick & dying babies.”

The title was “How Great is Our God” & the caption read: “As our mission group was singing "How Great is Our God" at one of the poorest cities in the world, I turned around & saw this man. This was his reaction to our singing & services that day. I'm still speechless, this moment of my life brought tears to my eyes. Delivering free water to the villages in Cite Soleil, Haiti. Mission trip with Healing Haiti, April 2013.”

What kind of insularity does it require to stand there singing “How Great is Our God”? while viewing this measure of squalor, running with pools of putrid water in a country reeling from a cholera epidemic!? Who knows what the hell the man in the photo was trying to say with this gesture? He may have been symbolically trying to shield his community from the idiocies of western missionaries & do-gooders--& with 10,000 NGOs in Haiti, God knows Haitians have plenty of experience with that type.

It’s good sister Covairt had a life experience in Haiti that brought tears to her maudlin eyes “that cannot see,” as the Bible describes. But feeling good about doing good combined with pity & political naiveté is a toxic brew, not an inspiring one.

There are many things we can do in solidarity with the Haitian people, including financing, joining, & supporting solidarity groups in this country. But they might most appreciate if we can just force the posse of exploiters like Paul Farmer, the two Clintons, & Sean Penn out of Haiti & shame the armies of do-gooders back to just praying for them.

US hands off Haiti! Haiti is not your sweatshop!

(Photo by Paulette Covairt/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)

Israeli historian Shlomo Sand: We (seculars) are not Jews!

The Gospel according to Sand: We are not Jews
 In 'How and When I Stopped Being Jewish,' author and professor Shlomo Sand argues that there is no such thing as a secular Jew. Shlomo Sand - author of "The Invention of the Jewish People" - has just published his third book, though only in Hebrew so far. The literal translation of the title is "How and When I Stopped Being Jewish".

According to Sand, there is no secular Jewish identity, only a religious one. There is, however, a Jewish Israeli identity.

Haaretz highlights:

What connects secular Jews from Tel Aviv with non-believing Jews from Paris or New York? In Sand’s opinion, there is no connection. “Those who are called ‘secular Jews’ don’t have a way of life in common." ...

“The deeper we delve into the subject, the more we have to admit that there is no unifying Jewish culture that is not religious,” he tells Haaretz. “You and I have a day-to-day experience and existence that are very much Israeli. They may have Jewish and Yiddish sources, but they’re Israeli.” ...

"Being a Jew in Israel means, first and foremost, not being an Arab,” he writes, comparing the elevated status of Jews in Israel to that of whites in the American south through the 1960s, French settlers in Algeria before 1962, and white and Afrikaner residents of South Africa before 1994....

The Holocaust has become an important aspect of secular Jewish identity....

“Instead of the old religious identity of the ‘chosen people,’ what arose was an extremely beneficial modern secular ritual of not only ‘the chosen victim’ but also ‘the exclusive victim.’” ...

Thus it is Hitler who has proved the victor of World War II, Sand claims. “Although he was defeated militarily and politically, only some years later the core of his perverted ideology seeped once more to the surface, and today it is alive, kicking and menacing.”

Sand is not referring here to anti-Semitism but to the way he says many Jews use racist doctrine to their advantage. "The perception of the Jews as a nation and a race whose traditional characteristics are passed down through heredity in some invisible way is still very much alive. Yesterday it was simple physical characteristics such as blood or facial structure. Today it’s DNA,” he writes. “Hitler’s desire to remove the Jews from ‘normal’ humanity was fulfilled in a perverted way by the politics of memory adopted by Israel and its followers in the Western world.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

News round-up for May 19th (as we approach the cycle of the Full Moon)

News round-up for May 19th (as we approach the cycle of the Full Moon):

Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson have called it quits for another time. Remind us again, who are they!?

Alexis Normand, a Canadian singer butchered “The Star-Spangled Banner” (the US national anthem) at a hockey game in Saskatchewan, Canada. It’s a rite of passage for singers to mangle the damn thing which is hard to sing &--trust me!--harder to listen to. Canadian hockey fans didn’t realize Normand was messing up her rendition & thought she was just baying ingloriously at the moon so they began howling & grunting in response. The Star-Spangled Banner never sounded so good!

Judging from Obama’s commencement speech chiding graduates at Morehouse College (an elite, Black men’s college) not to be irresponsible, his new speech writer is Bill Cosby who grew tedious 20 years ago with his rants blaming irresponsible Black men for white supremacy. Obama sermonized: “Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency sometimes to make excuses for me not doing the right thing.” He may be right that his failings have nothing to do with being Black in a white supremacist society. They may be entirely personal, having to do with his being a privileged, spineless, war-mongering, minion to the ruling elite.

Reportedly 78,000 people from ages 18 to 71 have applied for the one-way Mars One flight to the planet Mars scheduled for 2022. They are forewarned that life will be harsh since the planet is cold, barren, & can’t grow foliage or food. They will be hermetically sealed in artificial habitats with machine-made air & water. Reports say they’ll have to maintain their own sanity millions of miles away from their families but distance from relatives may be the very point of the trip. Applicants appear entirely normal & inspired by science fiction but their pointy ears wriggle in a curious way & there is suspicious caudal activity going on with some of them.

(Photo of moon by NASA / STScI)

Chomsky on US media

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Palestinian refugee Iqbal Al-As'ad youngest doctor in the world

Youngest doctor has noble dreams

Iqbal Al-As'ad is the youngest doctor in the world to enroll in Newyork Medical school at the age of 12. She was a guest speaker at the American Muslim in Palestine (AMP). She did a great hob in delivering her message and demonstrating the struggle the palestinians live in Lebanon refugee camps.

The Kandahar massacre in Afghanistan

When it comes to travesties of justice, nothing comes close to how the US government handles soldiers accused of war crimes. That’s not because it gives a rat’s ass about the soldier but to make damn certain the crimes are treated like individual psychopathy & not US war policy. To do that, the trials have to be controlled by the Pentagon & conducted out of public scrutiny.

Robert Bales, a US Army officer, is now under court martial for the Kandahar Massacre where he murdered 16 Afghan civilians last March 11th. In a murderous rampage in the middle of the night, Bales invaded homes in two different villages, yanked people out of bed, executed them, repeatedly punched small children in the head, grabbed one 2-year-old child by the hair & violently shook her head back & forth, shoved the barrel of a gun into an infant’s mouth. Nine of the victims were children, 3 were women & 11 were from the same family. Some of those killed were then set on fire like rubbish. A crime of monstrous proportions which indicts the entire US-NATO war--especially since it came on the heels of US soldiers photographed urinating on Afghan war victims, the US government burning the Quran in trash, & the US “kill teams” caught in deranged trophy shots with Afghan corpses & taking body parts for souvenirs.

Bales was whisked out of the country 3 days after the crimes & ended up in a military prison outside Tacoma, WA that is less a prison than a half-way house for rehabilitation to civilian life. Afghan victims & some Afghan government officials demanded the trial be a public civilian trial in Afghanistan--& they are absolutely justified in that demand! Especially because there is such dispute about how many US soldiers were involved in the massacre. The Pentagon insists it was just Bales; many Afghan witnesses report up to 20 soldiers & some claim there were helicopters involved. But the US insisted on a court martial (the equivalent of traffic court) in the US precisely to cover up the nature of the crime & the direct responsibility of US war policy in Afghanistan. Reportedly, the testimony of some witnesses has been televised into the courtroom; others have been brought to the US, tutored briefly in US legal procedure, & asked to testify. What an indignity & parody of justice!

Speaking of parodies, media coverage about Bales provides a cornucopia of alibis for his crimes--in complete contrast to coverage of alleged Muslim “terrorists.” Bales walked into camp drenched in Afghan blood & said “I did it,” but the media still refers to him as the “alleged” murderer! Even his lawyers don’t dispute his involvement. We’re told he had money problems, marriage problems, that he scammed old people & joined the service to hide out for awhile, that he had traumatic brain injury, multiple deployments, didn’t want to return to the front lines, was nursing a grudge at the death of a war buddy, was on steroids, drinking hooch whiskey & watching revenge films, that he was deranged, snapped under strain, wasn’t all there. Cry me a river!

Media is also reporting how confused the Afghan witnesses are, how they changed their stories, how some are coached by relatives & are not reporting what they actually saw. In other words, the media is running defense for Bales & indicting the victims!

Appropriately, John Henry Browne, the civilian lawyer defending Bales also defended serial killer Ted Bundy. Bales hasn’t entered a plea but Browne is expected to make the insanity defense. He says he intends to put the US-NATO war on trial--probably not because he’s opposed to the war but to get his client off. Part of his defense will be indicting Lewis-McChord Army base in Washington state which trained Bales as well as the US kill teams & has a history of misconduct toward soldiers & veterans. That’s why you don’t hear a peep about the court martial in the media! Mum’s the word!

Bales committed a monstrous crime & it doesn’t matter how much hooch he drank or how deranged he was, he has to face the consequences--just like any drunk driver. But US-NATO war policy indoctrinated him in putrid racism, put him, those kill teams, & other psychos in the field & let them run wild. Of course, the US & NATO won’t hold themselves to account. That’s the job of the international antiwar movement.

Like Lt. William Calley who massacred 500 Vietnamese villagers at My Lai in 1968, Bales will be found guilty by the court martial. And again like Calley, they’ll send him back to rehab jail, shortly place him under house arrest with his wife & kids, & in a few years exonerate him. The Afghan victims will never see justice without the active support of an international antiwar movement.

This is a photo taken in April 2013 of Hazratullah with his two sisters. Bales dragged his father from bed, took him outside & executed him; Shahara (on the left) is the little girl grabbed by her pigtails & violently shaken; Hazratullah had a pistol shoved down his throat. Masooma, their mother, pleaded for their lives. She spoke to the Associated Press about their ordeal but it’s not clear she will be asked or able to testify at the court martial of Bales.

US-NATO out of Afghanistan! Justice for the victims of Kandahar! Prosecute the US government for crimes against the people of Afghanistan!

(Photo by Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Let them eat poop!

Will the wonders of US emancipation through war & occupation never cease to amaze!?  Here Afghan children are fetching water for their families from a streaming river near Kabul that looks more like an overflowing cesspool. Cholera & diarrhea epidemics are very real & deadly health risks from contaminated water. Diarrhea is the second highest cause of infant deaths worldwide: in 2009, it reportedly caused the the deaths of 1.1 million people over the age of 5 (many of them elderly) & 1.5 million deaths of children under the age of 5.

The US military is fully apprised of this catastrophe. According to a US Army study, water pollution from raw sewage is the worst environmental problem in Afghanistan & one of the worst health threats to deployed personnel. (Well at least they care about the soldiers!) The study of water contamination found a majority of wells contaminated with fecal or e-coli bacteria as well as other biological, nuclear & chemical contaminants. Some reports try to attribute the contamination to loss of Afghanistan’s glaciers, drought, agriculture & livestock-raising, & the reactionary canard of too many people. But how the hell do nuclear & chemical contaminants come from goat & sheep manure!? Or drought!? That’s the contamination that comes from war: from the use of depleted uranium, from military vehicles, from weaponry, from land mines, from drone bombing.

In 2002, a UN agency reported the complete neglect of waste management systems in Afghanistan with household & medical waste (we’re talking bacteria & viruses) discarded on streets. With no sewage treatment facilities, human feces floated in open sewers flowing into rivers & contaminating groundwaters. This is the result of water privatization that is part of IMF-World Bank neoliberal policies formulated since the 1990s. Neoliberal water policy combined with the US-NATO war has made water--one of the most vital elements of human life--a porridge of feces, poisons, & diseases for the Afghan people.

The Pentagon spends a considerable amount of research money developing water purification systems for the military bases. A portable, efficient water treatment unit has been developed by Pentagon-bankrolled scientists at Sam Houston State University in Texas but the generals haven’t been willing to fund these systems adequately for US troops. So you can be sure they aren’t part of any “emancipation program” for the people of Afghanistan.

UNICEF & other UN agencies, USAID, & the World Bank, claim they’re working with officials in the Afghan government to address the problem. But in ten years they haven’t been able to accomplish a damn thing. That’s because if you look at who they’re “working with” you’ll see they’re the same officials USAID & the CIA (is there a distinction?) are stuffing with bribe money. UNICEF, which claims its mandate is providing humanitarian aid to children, says it’s trying to “work around the war” to provide clean water. Has it ever considered condemning the war? Or in the interests of children, organizing against the war? Fat chance!!

End the US-NATO war against Afghanistan! Bring the troops home now! And cut the crap!

(Photo by Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

Nablus, Palestine, dry sweets

Nablus, Palestine, dry sweets. Green bits are almonds. Yummm!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Israeli ambassador to Amman officially expelled

"Jordan’s Minister for Information and Communication, Mohammed al-Momani, last Thursday officially announced the departure of the Israeli ambassador to Amman, Daniel Nevo.
In a press conference held on Wednesday evening, Al-Momani said that the acting Foreign Minister, Hussein al-Majali, had summoned Nevo last Thursday.
Al-Majali passed on information on the Amman protest against the Israeli violation in Jerusalem, settlers attack on worshiper in Al-Aqsa Mosque and the detention of the mufti Sheikh Mohammed Hussein."
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Azmi Bishara: Property Rights, Unjust Appropriation and the Nakba

Azmi Bishara
As I stated during a Nakba commemoration twenty years ago, the expression “armed robbery” sums up the Zionist-Israeli approach to Arab property rights in the land and holy sites of Palestine. At the time, I called it the “largest ever case of daylight robbery in the twentieth century”. Aside from it being a robbery, and one carried out by force of arms, there is another aspect of this situation which I want to make clearer below. Specifically, I will address the question of a “conflict”, and how “rights” are turned into “disputed matters” before arbitration is completed; in other words, how claims to ownership are declared only after the act of appropriation.

 1) “A” violates the property rights of “B”, let's say the latter's home 2) If “B” is unable to push “A” out, a “conflict” ensues 3) “A” proposes to “B” that they should divide the violated property (B's home), in order to prevent bloodshed. “A” also proposes that “B” lets go of the past, and focus instead on the here and now. All the while, “A” constructs a historical narrative to vindicate his own property claims, one which predates the property claims of “B”. Thus, “A” encourages others to abandon the past, so that he himself may control it: “A” is busily creating and appropriating historical myths. 4) Should “B” decline, he is branded a rejectionist, while “A”, the aggressor, becomes a moderate realist. 5) If the conflict continues until the stronger party is victorious, the party with the upper hand not only claims to have a rightful title, but claims to “the” rightful claimant; here, “B” is turned into the aggressor.

 The Israelis have used the above approach in their dealings throughout Palestine, using it in every microcosmic case, with every piece of land. They applied it to a “t” in the case of the Ibrahimi Mosque, and diligently continue the same approach with every home, every piece of land in Jerusalem.