Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Taksim Square Book Club, Istanbul

The leading news today is certainly the massive protests against President Morsi in Egypt. But uprisings of great importance continue in Turkey & Brazil. After Turkish artist Erdem Gunduz stood facing the Atatürk Cultural Center in Taksim Square, Istanbul in silent protest, the silent “Standing Man” protests have continued to grow & now include "The Taksim Square Book Club,” where many activists stand reading a book.

The Atatürk Center is the focus of protests because of the political respect held for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, an Ottoman & Turkish army officer & the first president of Turkey. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI & the consequent occupation by Allied forces, he led the national movement for independence which defeated the Allied occupation. He then developed a program of political, economic, & cultural reforms transforming the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, secular nation-state. He is considered the father of Turkish democracy.

The silent protestors are reading many different kinds of books, including novels, short stories, & philosophical books by Turkish writers & others from around the world. Many add silent irony to their protest by reading George Orwell’s “1984”--which may be more a case of flipping the bird to Erdogan than irony. One woman here is reading “The Speech,” the text of a speech by Atatürk & the other is reading a biography of Atatürk. One can only admire the silent audacity.

(Photo by George Henton/Al Jazeera)

LGBTI activists under attack in Russia

Guided by Vladimir Putin, the Russian government has become increasingly repressive & authoritarian. A protest movement emerged in response to the fraudulent elections in 2012 that returned him to a second term as president but it has been crushed for now through arrests, trials, & political imprisonment.

Vague new treason laws make human & democratic rights subject to the caprice of the government & slap extortionate, punitive fines on protests the authorities deem illegal. Homophobic legislation recently passed by the Duma prohibits activities advocating “non-traditional sexual relations” & “the rejection of traditional family values.” The crackdown on all dissent has become increasingly vicious & against LGBTI activists has become extremely violent, not only by cops but by right-wing youth assaulting protestors. The right-wing thuggery is of course encouraged by the government not only to do its dirty work but to scapegoat LGBTI activists for the growing economic & political crises in Russia.

Putin is a former KGB agent from the gulag era once assigned to spying on university students. He’s not exactly an exemplar of democratic leadership! He recently empowered a political police force called the Investigative Committee to harass the opposition.

Many activists have, at least temporarily, been daunted by the repression & one cannot fault them for that. But hundreds of LGBTI activists continue to defy the repressive laws & violence & continue to converge in public protest. They are playing a particularly important role not only in advancing LGBTI rights but in defending human & democratic rights in Russia & they deserve our fullest respect & solidarity.

Here cops are arresting a gay rights activist at a Gay Pride protest in St. Petersburg yesterday. Gay rights activists & their supporters gathered for the event despite the parliamentary ban & were attacked by anti-gay thugs. Cops intervened to disperse the LGBTI protestors, not to protect them from assault.

(Photo by Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

And the plot against Edward Snowden sickens!

There’s a curious story being reported about Lonnie Snowden, the father of Edward. Our man’s an idiot, not worthy of his courageous son. Through his attorney he approached the US Justice Department--now actively engaged in annulling the Bill of Rights--to broker a deal to bring his son back to the US. Snowden senior, who admits he hasn’t spoken to his kid since April (three months ago & long before this story broke) says he ‘is reasonably certain his son would voluntarily return to the US if there were ironclad assurances his constitutional rights would be honored & he were provided a fair opportunity to explain his motivations & actions to an impartial judge & jury.’ Is he for real!? Does credulity come dumber!? Has patriotism made him stupid!?

He wants his son to surrender voluntarily to US jurisdiction because he has broken the law by releasing classified information & should face trial for espionage. He actually says he shares the government’s view that his son should be prosecuted. Snowden senior asked for certain guarantees: that the government not detain Edward before trial; that he not be subject to a gag order prohibiting him from speaking about the case; & that he be tried in a venue of his choosing. Does he want accommodations in the Ritz Plaza too? What planet is our man from!?

Turns out papa Snowden’s concern is his son’s association with WikiLeaks & Julian Assange, who he claims are just using his son for fundraising purposes. The legal counsel & travel expenses provided by WikiLeaks are part of a scheme to keep his son from “doing the right thing” by returning to the US to face espionage charges against him.

With several governments playing some kind of con job with Edward’s life, with his son sitting in asylum limbo in a Moscow airport lounge, this sorry-assed father dares to play Russian Roulette with his son’s life! That’s called treachery & the most shameful betrayal.

(Photo by Getty/AFP from USA Today video)

Obama's tour de fiasco

International solidarity is a damn good thing when you live in a country that’s a little on the languid side politically. What great news to hear Obama’s $100 million tour of 3 African countries wasn’t the tour de force he’d hoped for, but a fiasco! We don’t have to tell millions of Africans they should shudder at his presence since the tour, the presence of AFRICOM & US troops in Uganda only spell increased US plunder. They have his number! He was greeted in South Africa by hundreds of activists organized by trade unions who pulled no punches in their denunciations of Obama & US foreign policies. Signs showing no respect read: “When you sow terror you reap terror,” “Orphan maker Obama,” “ Hands off Iran,” “Obama/Netanyahu: war criminals,” & “No you can’t Obama” in response to his campaign slogan, “Yes we can.” The man here carries a placard calling Obama “The Kitchen Boy of the White House," which may be a regrettable reference to Obama's nationality but also lists Obama's criminal policies.

Obama claims he’s not planning a photo op with Nelson Mandela on his death bed (though if it didn’t expose him as an opportunist he certainly would!). Protestors weren’t taking any chances so they demonstrated outside Mandela’s hospital to make sure he didn’t show up. Our man will however be visiting Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned & deliver a speech lauding Mandela’s life. Some media claim there are powerful symbolic linkages between the two men (oh yeah!?) but nobody else is able to discern them--certainly not the hundreds of protestors in South Africa!

Obama says he doesn’t want to lay claim to Mandela’s mantle because he’s not worthy (& he’s got that straight!) but he also claims Mandela & the anti-apartheid movement drew him into political activism. In a pig’s eye! There isn’t a single thing linking Obama to activism in plebeian social movements of any kind unless he was currying favor for votes. He also hasn’t done one thing to address the massive unemployment & incarceration of Black youth or the police violence against them. He’s got nothing to write home about! 

By the way, the trip to Senegal, Tanzania, & South Africa involved hundreds of US Secret Service agents, an aircraft carrier & other ships, fighter jets & military cargo planes to airlift 59 support vehicles & 14 limousines. Since millions of people are losing their homes here, we would suggest next time he leave the kids home, fly coach, sleep in youth hostels, & travel by bus--though no one wants to be that up close & personal to a war criminal.

(Photo by Jerome Delay/AP)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Sports stadiums focus of protest in Brazil

Here demonstrators on Wednesday marched to the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The 12 stadia built to host the 2013 Confederations Cup (just held), 2014 World Cup & 2016 summer Olympics have increasingly become the focus of continuing massive protests. Placards reading “Health, Education & Reform” are coupled with those reading “There won’t be a Cup” & “FIFA go home.”

Renovations for the games were finished at Mineirao stadium last year (it originally opened in 1965) at an estimated cost of R$ 667 million/US$ 304 million. Builders boasted that the stadium was built with sustainable materials, used solar energy, had energy-efficient lighting, upgraded audio/video & acoustics to comply with FIFA requirements, was green landscaped. They crowed that builders were socially responsible & gave computer classes to construction workers, employed 100 women, & hired prisoners (they didn’t say if they were paid or not).

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff  inaugurated the rebooted stadium in December & a few months ago, Elton John & Paul McCartney had concerts at the 67,000 seat stadium (the second largest in Brazil after Maracana in Rio) to test out the new facilities. Well-heeled patrons complained queues were too long.

It’s a mighty impressive sounding place but if a 20 cent fare increase sends upwards of a million people into orbit it’s unlikely they’ll ever see the inside of the stadium except as ushers & peanut vendors. Social inequity is on the hot seat & bravo to that!

(Photo by Felipe Dana/AP)

There's no age limit for rebellion

This photo is for those who say rebellion is for the young. This man is likely a veteran of the 1960s-1970s, a generation that gave humanity an entire legacy of rebellion against injustice & war in almost every country--most notably Vietnam, which won against the brutal military might of US aggression. It’s a generation that can teach a thing or two. This man’s defiance may be all the more admirable since he knows full well what kind of damage a billy club can do to a human skull. He is facing off against riot cops before a football match in Fortaleza, Brazil yesterday.

(Photo by Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

Anti-Morsi protests in Egypt

There is a resurgence of the Egyptian uprising with hundreds of thousands of protestors across the country demanding the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on the first anniversary of his becoming president. On Wednesday, Morsi televised a 2-1/2 hour speech into Tahrir Square where tens of thousands of his adversaries gathered to watch, chanting slogans, holding up shoes in disrespect, & holding up red cards demanding “enough already--leave.”

Media narratives obfuscate much of what is going on & emphasize the growing political polarization between supporters of Morsi & the Muslim Brotherhood versus secular political forces. The Morsi regime is referred to as an Islamist regime. The term Islamist signifies a conservative religious government guided by the moral principles of shariah law. But this term has limited political value due to the complete ignorance most of us have of Islam, including shariah law; because of the Islamophobic character of much “western” scholarship on political Islam; & because Islamism is extremely diverse with a powerful anti-colonial dynamic & is most often a response to US-European dominance in the region. It’s more often a term used to mask the real conflicts.

Legions of anti-Morsi protestors are themselves Muslims though they have strong political opposition to a theocratic state--for the same reasons anti-Zionists oppose Israel. There’s no question Egyptians are mobilizing against the conservative religious tenets of the new constitution & policies forced on them by Morsi--including the denial of religious freedom to Coptic Christians & other religions, & the denial of women’s, worker’s, & democratic rights. The Morsi government is attempting to destroy every form of democracy, backed by Muslim Brotherhood thugs & undercover operatives. But is this assault on democratic rights in the service of Islam or for the even higher purpose of advancing neoliberalism?

Mubarak yoked Egypt to an IMF structural adjustment program (SAP) in 1991 & the consequence of this was massive impoverishment for 90% of Egyptians & massive plunder by a handful of Egyptian elites & foreign investors. Neoliberalism can best be described as capitalism Al Capone-style since it operates like a crime syndicate. In fact they’re indistinguishable.

US & European governments backing the IMF can work with any kind of government to advance their plunder: a dictatorship, a military dictatorship, a semi-feudal state, a Zionist state, or an Islamic state. What they find incompatible with plunder is democracy or independence of any kind. That’s why for all their Islamophobic fulminations against Iran & other “Islamist”regimes, they work so compatibly with the Morsi regime which, though "Islamist," fully supports the continuation of neoliberal policies in Egypt. In fact, key Muslim Brotherhood figures in the Morsi government are billionaire neoliberal proponents & profiteers.

Conditions for Egyptians have only deteriorated since their historic uprising ousting Mubarak in 2011. Hundreds of thousands didn’t fight pitched battles & thousands didn’t die for a continuation of the same economic & political misery. Once again, tyranny exposed its weakness when Morsi reportedly talked in his speech about the close rapport his presidency has with the military & began moving military vehicles about the country, including around Tahrir Square, in preparation for protests this coming Sunday demanding Morsi leave. It’s so much easier to rule if lies prevail; shooting at people tends to make the real relationship crystal clear.

The opposition to Morsi includes unsavory political forces with another agenda than the majority of Egyptians so the sharp polarization poses problems in the absence of effective leadership. But one thing is sure: the polarization is not primarily Muslims against Christians, secularists, & atheists; it is primarily the policies of elite & foreign plunderers against Egyptian working people.

Here protestors (clearly many Muslims) raise their shoes in disrespect & chant for Morsi to leave as they watch his long-winded address in Tahrir Square. (For a 2-1/2 hour speech alone he should be impeached.)

Our fullest solidarity with Egyptian working people. May they forge the leadership they deserve!

(Photo by Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The odyssey of Edward Snowden is exposing disturbing realities, international intrigues, & the dogged, ruthless way governments go after those who betray their secrets & expose their lies. Bradley Manning & Edward Snowden stand out in this regard as truly admirable since they are so defenseless.

Reportedly Snowden is in the Moscow airport unable to proceed to sanctuary because Ecuador has solicited legal briefs on extradition from the US & claims the sanctuary decision could take months. Snowden is a man on the run & Ecuador can’t say yes or no!? Are US threats of embargo influencing their decision-making powers?

Given that Putin is in charge in Russia, Snowden’s fate in that airport is extremely precarious & part of wrangling for position between Russia & the US. Justice & democratic rights are not Putin’s concern. Incarcerated democracy protestors can testify to that!

Obama has contemptuously referred to Snowden as a “hacker” saying "I am not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.” Oh yeah!? Not even one who’s making you look like chopped liver!? Not even the guy exposing you as the biggest two-bit phony on the planet with your flagrant contempt for the Bill of Rights!? A guy who has documents exposing US crimes & hypocrisy to the whole world!? Show some respect Mr. Obama for the guy who has your ass in a sling.

Venezuela has said it will consider asylum for Snowden; it’s uncertain why Cuba has not offered since it has provided asylum for many, including former CIA agent, Philip Agee & Black Panther activist, Assata Shakur.

Please sign this petition for Edward Snowden. It’s the least we can do for a man who has put his life on the line for our freedoms:

Poem by Musab Iqbal

This lovely poem by Indian poet Musab Iqbal has layers of meanings. One way it can be read is as anthem to envisioning a world suitable for human beings to live & love in. But let him speak for himself:

There is a logic of harmony
An unknown relationship between
Objects of presence and subjects of non-existence
What comes before the thought
Rests in the garden of silence
Few flowers smile when the sky shy
Savaging winds are the newsreaders of future
And trembling mountains are messenger
Of days that will end before the last book is written.

With a secret step towards the future
The waves whisper with all might to blow
All the cords that connects time with its entirety
Worthless earth beg for the last sight of dead moon
Nerves of celestial body swell in proud when the
Eternal shine of destruction rises above
all the retarded structures.

Smoke will absorb the time of desire
And the gaze of stars will kill the night without dreams
When the traveler will move out of your heart
And your eyes will be a burnt forest, and then a new world
Will be resurrected without emotion, without pain
A new reading of text will free pain with meaning
Freedom will then be a movement within, without
Existence of grand exterior.

- 26 June 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The criminal insanity of Israeli apartheid

One of the many abominations of Israeli apartheid is the blockade/embargo of Gaza which Israel government documents admit is an act of war--economic warfare to accompany frequent aerial bombardments of the region. Israel doesn’t publish the list of banned items so many media sources like Haaretz & the BBC along with Amnesty International & the UN have tried to determine what is & is not allowed to be imported. The list is probably not published because it is so irrational & would expose Israel to ridicule & contempt along with charges of ethnic cleansing.

Most construction materials are banned including cement, glass, steel, wood, paint, pipes, cables-- which matters when Israel is also periodically bombing the hell out of Gaza. Most chemicals & fertilizers are banned under the guise that Palestinians would use them to make explosive weapons. Fuel has not been allowed since 2008. And the list of banned items goes on.

The list frequently changes so importers are never certain what is allowable. Some banned items in the past included pasta, tomato sauce, ginger, chocolate, toilet paper, crayons, paper, soccer balls, musical instruments, batteries for hearing aids, wheelchairs, veterinary & human medicines, clothing, cups, cutlery, crockery, appliances like refrigerators & washing machines, glasses, light bulbs, matches, needles & threads, sheets, blankets, shoes, mattresses. There is no possible justification for banning any of these--except malice.

In response to the blockade, Palestinians developed a system of privately owned tunnels through which they smuggle banned products. There are reportedly over 1,000 such tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border where they are monitored & controlled by Egyptian soldiers & Israeli bombers. Israeli sorties target the tunnel area on the border so there are frequent tunnel collapses. There are also reports the Egyptian army is attempting to destroy tunnels by flooding them.

Israel claims Palestinians use these tunnels to transport explosives, along with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. Why the hell shouldn’t they!? Gaza is under attack & has a right to defend itself.

The young man here is a 17-year-old Palestinian who works the tunnels for 120 shekels/US $30 a day in order to support his family. He says when he first began working them at the age of 14, the tomb-like character of the tunnels freaked him out. He has already survived one tunnel collapse.

(Photo by Iyad El Baba/UNICEF)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

The face of defiance

As annoying as this Guy Fawkes mask is, it’s become an international symbol linking protests around the world & we’re gonna be stuck with it for awhile. Chalk it up to cultural differences between youth & seniors. That goofy face does however become far less annoying if you see it as an expression of the contagious spirit of rebellion against injustice & tyranny.

Some associate it with anarchism as a political current but it’s actually much broader than that. It showed up in the Wisconsin labor protests a few years ago, in the Occupy movement, & in protests around the world including the Americas, India, Thailand, Turkey, Bahrain, & all over Europe. This masked fellow was part of a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Monday.

It was banned in the United Arab Emirates & last February was banned by the government of Bahrain. The Bahrain ministry which banned its import called it the “revolution mask.” That was taken as a recommendation & its use increased in protests following the ban. Oh the glorious defiance of youth!

(Photo by Felipe Dana/AP)

Build the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel

There might be something to be learned from the right-wing about how to advance a transformatory political agenda. Of course, you have to develop a stomach for deception--but they leave no stone unturned. In my investigations & writings about women's rights, particularly women's reproductive rights, over the past decades I observed how systematically they use legal, judicial, legislative, "educational," & now internet methods to usurp women's rights.

Anyone researching on Israel & the Palestinians knows how egregiously the Zionists have captured Wikipedia & other internet resources to advance their justifications for apartheid against Palestinians. We don't have the resources or the stomach for deception that Zionists thrive on so this means we must build the hell out of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to counter their rancid lies.

Boycott all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729)! Demand no US aid to Israel! Spread the word!

Report: McDonald's refuses to open branch in Ariel settlement

"Golden Arches" says move is consistent with its policy.
The McDonald's Golden Arches.

McDonald's Israel has refused an offer to open a branch of its restaurant chain in a mall slated to be built in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, according to a report in the Calcalist newspaper.
Tzahi Nahmias, the realtor who is marketing the mall's commercial space, told the paper that McDonald's refused to open a branch because Ariel is located beyond the Green Line.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Apartheid is an ugly thing, a system so vile that comparing US (under Jim Crow) to South African to Northern Irish to Israeli apartheid has the human mind hovering in the traumatic nether regions between coma, consciousness, & craziness.

Crazy-assed things predominate--like passports between neighborhoods in South Africa, separate toilets for Blacks & whites in Georgia                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        r these tunnels used to smuggle goods between the Gaza Strip & Egypt. Zionist goofballs maintain these tunnels are used to transport Iranian missile systems. Cry me a river of contempt! They are more often used to transport medical resources like band-aids, cement for rebuilding bombed out buildings, food supplies.

Whatever the hell these tunnels transport! Imagine that a region with millions of human beings must transport vital human needs in tunnels guarded against aerial bombardment by Israeli bombers!? Imagine that band-aids are considered weapons of mass destruction!?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

In this photo a teenager supports his family by working the tunnels where he survived a tunnel collapse.

(Photo from Unicef)

Our rebellious inspiration

It’s another bad news day & the weather stinks too! Zionists are ganging up on you & nobody seems to give a hoot about your psoriasis. You had high hopes for the Zucchini in the garden & they taste like raw potatoes. Wood ticks infest your back yard & when you go at them with pesticides, pickets of local environmentalists beg mercy for their souls.

There’s no place to go for comfort but kids--though our allegiance isn’t necessarily welcome by them. Here three little fellows in Johannesburg, South Africa mug for the camera & remind us of what changing the world is all about--whether they like it or not!

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Monday, June 24, 2013

This is the thing worth fighting for

Amidst all the barbarisms exposed by the collapse of the Rana garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh, despite the immense grief of family members who haven’t recovered their beloved & survivors suffering amputations, there is this tender moment  where a man caresses & comforts his wife at the rehab hospital where she is recovering from an amputated leg. This is not to reduce what is tragic & criminal to the maudlin but to stop for a moment & honor what it is about human exploitation that is so odious & what it is about human life that is so glorious.

(Photo by A.M. Ahad/AP)

Social protest in Brazil crescendoes

There is far more photojournalistic documentation of Brazil’s massive protests than there are journalistic reports. But according to differing estimates, there are now between one & two million people in over 100 cities protesting an entire range of political discontents. Remember that only two weeks ago, news from Brazil was only about indigenous peoples & their human rights allies resisting evictions from Maracana Village (the abandoned natural history museum in Rio) to make room for upscale shopping malls for World Cup & Olympic attendees & of their protests obstructing the Belo Monte dam project. They stood alone against a gigantic state with a big military apparatus directed at their jugular. Now they are joined by over a million people with nearly as many political grievances.

You can see in photojournalistic reports the full range of human participation, from youthful dilettantes in clown regalia & carnival partying to unarmed protestors defying & scuffling with riot cops employing extreme violence & blasting tear gas & water cannons. Exactly what we’ve seen elsewhere, most currently in Turkey.

Many people--especially those who cannot distinguish between the word & the deed--are outraged that protestors would target the government of Dilma Rousseff who in her youth was a socialist who actively opposed Brazil’s military dictatorship & now belongs to the Worker’s Party (PT), which is a heterogenous group born from opposition to the dictatorship. Since  its formation as a socialistic party for social transformation, it has morphed to the right as an instrument of the status quo attuning its policies to neoliberalism on most economic & social issues. Nothing signifies that political degeneration more than the Belo Monte dam project which usurps indigenous human & land rights & environmental concerns, as well as the billions being poured into numerous stadia for the World Cup & Olympic games while education & health care are ignored & taxation massively increased.

Left-wing supporters of the Rousseff/PT government are sending out international alarms that the movement in Brazil has now been hijacked by fascists working in league with Brazilian media. That Brazilian fascists & undercover agent provocateurs would be active in a social uprising of such scale is hardly a surprise. That they are attacking more radical left participants is also not surprising because at this point the Brazilian uprising is a spontaneous movement without a hegemonic leadership & fascists want to contain & usurp its more radical dynamic. Media here has expressed concern about what political forces are leading the protests because leadership can determine whether  protests are anarchistic destruction & just degenerate into street theater or whether they move forward to social transformation by countering neoliberal policies.

Anyone involved in social movements knows that in periods of massive uprisings all sorts of political forces engage in battle contesting for their point of view. Such conflict is the nature of transformational politics. Those who argue that the Brazilian uprising should not be supported fully because it is now predominantly fascist are not just talking through their butts; they have another agenda which is to support the neoliberal policies of the Brazilian government against the just demands of millions of Brazilian working people. Do they propose hundreds of thousands of rebels just go home & leave the political battle field to fascists!?

It should come as no surprise that many who argue this position have icons of Joseph Stalin on their mastheads. As for Companera Rousseff, you can’t represent the politics of social transformation with tear gas & billy clubs. You can’t be a socialist & a neoliberal predator too. Call off your riot cops & military police because anything you say means nothing when you’re beating heads. Your actions speak louder than words.

Military police here manhandle & arrest a protestor in Rio de Janeiro.

(Photo by Victor R. Caivano/AP)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Suspicious win for Betty Windsor at royal Ascot race

Whoa, let’s wait just a minute before we congratulate Betty Windsor on her horse’s win of the Gold Cup at the Royal Ascot Races! Skeptical minds need to take a closer look at this win when Betty becomes the first British moochocrat in 207 years of history to win the Royal Ascot’s biggest race & in a Diamond Jubilee year!

Those not afraid of Scotland Yard or Betty’s secret service need to demand an immediate investigation & the first thing that needs to be done is check out the feed troughs of the other competitors. Was there bribery or doping involved? Because even the trainer of Betty’s four-year-old filly named Estimate admitted her odds weren’t favorable in the race against 13 other horses. The trainer expected her to place sixth. Estimate’s prominence with the bookies was attributed to her ownership not her racing form.

Despite the fact that Phil, Betty’s “anus horribilis,” is home in Buckingham dying, nothing could deter our giddy-up girl from missing a horse race. It’s the only thing in life she shows any exuberance about & seems to be the only bond she shares with any of her relatives.

Betty usually hands out the trophy & the winner’s pot of £155,960 but this year Andy, her most corrupt & despicable son handed it to her. That’s another whammy fostering suspicions.

This is Betty accepting the trophy. Tell me this aint the face of greed!!

(Photo by Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)

Even silent protest was too much democracy for Erdogan

This is a part of the crowd of tens of thousands in Taksim Square, Istanbul who yesterday commemorated fellow protestors killed by police attacks. Many held up red carnations in this defiant gesture. Riot cops on megaphones ordered the peaceful protestors to leave & when no one budged entered the square in phalanxes & in armored vehicles blasting water cannons. Protestors scuffled with the cops trying to hold them back, threw the flowers at them, & tried to hold the trucks back by standing in front of them. The square was cleared but the situation remains what a UN official calls “highly combustible.” The government claimed protestors were blocking traffic but the entire world bears witness that even silent protest was more opposition than the Erdogan regime was willing to tolerate.

Meanwhile the Erdogan government is conducting raids searching for protest organizers. They have already reportedly arrested 200 people in Istanbul & charged them with organizing violent protests. Police also raided two news agencies in Istanbul. Are these the actions of a democratic government?

Erdogan is blaming the protests on unspecified foreigners who he claims want to hurt Turkey & also organized two rallies this weekend to rally support for the government. He’s grasping at straws to justify repression but Turkey has a mighty big army to enforce its will. Our fullest solidarity with the fearless democracy protestors in Taksim Square!

(Photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Debunking the debunkers

If there’s one journal that rankles my ass it’s the Skeptical Inquirer (SI) which posits itself as hard-boiled scientists debunking paranormal, pseudoscience, & occult claims. When you realize that along with reputable thinkers like Carl Sagan they also included people like B.F. Skinner, magicians, & jugglers then their elitist claims take on a different cast. Mostly they seem to be pretentious graduate students suffering intellectual hair-balls. Think of it as the intellectual’s version of the National Inquirer.

Their targets for “investigation” include astrology, UFOs, faith healing, reincarnation, voodoo, magical thinking, therapeutic touch, all alternative medicine modalities including homeopathy & Chinese medicine. It’s not certain why they think massage & magical thinking are more important to take on than the rancid behavioral theories of B.F. Skinner. His social theories are much easier & far more important to expose as baloney.

I was just a secretary at NYU & a political rookie when Skinner defended his Platonic & elitist nonsense there. It was the early 1970s when social movements were erupting around the globe & when Vietnamese resistance to US military might was making human history. Skinner, in his invincibly smug professorial manner, laid out how plebeian humans need an elite to govern us. When I asked him if he didn’t think the Vietnamese & civil rights, feminist, antiwar, environmental, & gay rights movements were making a fool of that idea the poor old guy actually stammered. So much for skeptical inquiry!

Now the paranormal hunters at SI are turning their fire on 3,000 garment workers in Gazipur, Bangladesh who stopped work & protested this week after a worker claimed she was attacked by a ghost in the women’s bathroom. Our ghost buster reports this isn’t the first time workers in Southeast Asian garment factories have become ill with “mysterious & unexplainable” illnesses. Many workers report fatigue, dizziness, nausea when no toxins or environmental contaminants are found to explain the symptoms. Don’t you wish our inquirers at SI were as skeptical of safety inspectors as they are of workers!? After all, hundreds of Bangladeshi workers have died in fires & building collapses unmonitored by anybody.

Our intrepid SI reporter does nod his head to the building collapse in April & points out that hundreds of factory workers in the region have since been complaining of unexplained maladies but his main concern is with mass hysteria & the belief in ghosts & evil spirits among Bangladeshi Muslims. Might our man have a touch of the mass hysteria more prevalent in the US called Islamophobia!?

What passes for intellectual curiosity at SI looks banal to others. He thinks it curious that Middle East & Asian ghosts often manifest in bathrooms since US ghosts don’t spend much time there. He doesn’t tell us where our ghosts hang out but there are certainly a lot of spooks loitering around SI. Cough up your hair-ball, buster! There is a specter haunting Bangladesh & elsewhere. It’s called sweatshops.

Friday, June 21, 2013

UN agency accuses Israel of torturing Palestinian children

Media reports today that 18 independent experts investigating a 10-year period (2002-2012) for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child accuse Israel of routinely abusing Palestinian children, including torturing those in police custody & using some as human shields. Most of the estimated 7,000 Palestinian children arrested, interrogated, & incarcerated were charged with throwing rocks which can get a child up to 20 years in jail.

According to the report, many children in custody are brought before military courts in leg shackles; others are held in solitary confinement for months. It also reported that between January 2010 & March 2013 alone there were 14 cases of Israeli soldiers using Palestinian children as human shields to enter potentially dangerous buildings or stand in front of military vehicles to deter rock throwing. Soldiers convicted of forcing a 9-year-old child at gunpoint to search bags suspected of containing explosives received a suspended sentence of 3 months & were demoted.

The report also calls attention to the hundreds of children killed & thousands injured by Israel’s periodic murderous bombing assaults on Gaza as well as the violence of Israeli land confiscations, unlawful settlements on Palestinian lands, construction of the barrier wall, & destruction of Palestinian homes & livelihoods which “constitute severe & continuous violations of the rights of Palestinian children & their families.”

The UN agency may be just catching up to what Palestinians have been alleging & photojournalism has been documenting for nearly 65 years but it has handed the Palestinian solidarity movement a mighty weapon against the violence of the Zionist monstrosity called Israel. Nothing could more powerfully damn the Zionist project than the torture of children.

Zionists of all persuasions & their supporters need to ask themselves if this is the kind of thing they want to be identified with, if there is anything salvageable in such a state, if it’s possible to save some aspects of Zionism & trash the worst aspects. In fact, this utter debasement is the political logic of Zionism & the entire edifice on which the state was built. Support Palestinian solidarity by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729)!

This iconic photo of a Palestinian child in the hands of Israeli soldiers is only one of hundreds showing the violence toward them.

(Photographer not identified)

Morphologies of revolution

Judging from media morphologies on the massive rebellions in Turkey & Brazil, the ruling oligarchs are getting mighty rattled about their ability to control social resistance to their austerity policies & attacks on democratic rights. Both countries play pivotal roles in world politics, militarily & economically, & these protests are shaking things to their foundation & are of concern to oligarchs around the world.

The BBC entitled its morphology, “Policing Protests: Containment or Contagion,” where the reporter scratched his ass wondering if perhaps extreme police violence might be a provocation. Adding farce to his banal analysis, he compared the benign method of policing protests used in England--where bobbies communicate with protestors--to the military style in Turkey & Brazil. Are kettling & driving mounted riot cops into crowds of protestors considered benign in England cause they sure aint anywhere else!?

The Washington Post reported accurately that Brazilian protestors are directly linking their outrage to the US $25 billion the Brazilian government admits to spending on the World Cup & Olympic games (it’s likely several times that) & on the skyrocketing cost of real estate in Rio de Janeiro as a result of the games. “We don’t need the World Cup,” read one placard. “We need money for hospitals & education.” The editors didn’t elaborate on the evictions of indigenous residents at Maracana Village & police occupations & evictions in the favelas to make Rio a more suitable playground for rich party-goers.

Rearing up on their hind legs in indignation, the Washington Post editors chide that during massive demonstrations protestors & even onlookers often go too far. Those photos of protestors standing in front of vandalized ATM machines really rankled the editors. How about showing some fury at riot cops tear gassing unarmed, peaceful protestors!?

The Huntington Post reports the Brazilian government is sweating about the affects protests will have on attendance at the sporting events--cause if there’s one thing the Brazilian oligarchs have straight it’s how to shake their money tree. Will Brazil be able to provide for the security of all those well-heeled attendees or will they face a revolution? So they’re dragging out Brazilian coaches to plead for calm among protestors & putting up the head of FIFA to whimper that the sporting extravaganzas should not be blamed for social impoverishment. And just to make sure the message is clear, Brazil is sending its elite riot cops to the stadia to look tough & thwart protestors.

Things aren’t working out so well; it’s reported today that over one million people in 80 Brazilian cities are in the streets. The mass transportation increase in Sao Paulo & Rio de Janeiro was cancelled as a result of the protests but such a wimpy gesture only mocks the depth of popular fury being expressed across Brazil.

Here students in Brasilia are flipping the bird to the fare increase by simply jumping turnstiles. Soon they’ll be heading for the gates of government.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The legacy of sweatshop production

These young women, aged from 16 to 30, are among the 1,130 survivors of the Rana Plaza garment factory building that collapsed in April in Savar, Bangladesh. Rescuing people trapped in cement rubble required civilian rescuers with no medical training to perform on-the-spot amputations with what was available--butcher knives & hacksaws without anesthesia. Don’t even try to imagine the horror! This is now considered the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry--& that would be an understatement!

These young women, now all amputees missing one or more limbs, all posed for photos at the Enam Medical College in Savar near Dhaka where they are being treated & recovering. In what can only be called a mockery of reality, the media caption to these portraits said, “Bangladesh’s government & garment manufacturers are campaigning to close dangerous factories & to make safety a priority for the country’s most valuable export industry.”

How about we take their mockery & shove it where the sun don’t shine! How about we do everything in our powers to educate about & oppose the horrors of the sweatshop production system!? The photos of these young women is not to induce pity but to generate solidarity & outrage. They did not deserve this & we have no right to cheap underwear at their expense!

(Photos by Kevin Frayer/AP)

Silent defiance against tyranny in Turkey

Here the silent protestors stand defiantly in Taksim Square, Istanbul at one of the global flashpoints of confrontation between state violence & human resistance to tyranny. They’re facing the Ataturk Cultural Center as the symbol of Turkish secular democracy. They’re young, they’re old; male & female united against tyranny & for democracy.

Our fullest solidarity with their struggle & deepest respect for their courageous defiance.

(Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Immigration is a human right!

Today is UN designated World Refugee Day ostensibly established to bring attention to the over 200 million refugees & internally displaced people around the world. (The UN estimates the numbers as just under 44 million people.)  Basically it’s a day to work pity up to a fever pitch to raise funds for the UN agency.

This is also the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s 1963 address at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin where he famously said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” The translation is, "I am one with the people of Berlin,” but more accurately means, “Standing under this triumphal arch is a good place to distract from the Vietnam War & to pretend an elitist like myself gives a rat’s ass about human solidarity.”

Kennedy was followed in 1987 by Ronald Reagan who was notorious for confusing political realities with his old B-movies. He challenged Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” but it was later learned he thought he was standing at the Kremlin in Moscow since it was so much like one of his films. He couldn’t remember which one since he’d long had early onset derangement. We can’t remember either since they’re all so forgettable.

In 1994, the masterful dissembler Bill Clinton--speaking triumphal after the fall of the Berlin Wall--praised free markets & blithered on about international security “based on building bridges, not walls”--by which he meant bridges transporting tariff-free products out of Eastern European sweatshops into the coffers of western bankers & corporations.

Now in 2013, Barack Obama made his appearance at the Brandenburg Gate. He wants  to see Russia & the US cut down their nuclear arsenals by up to one-third. Admirable, but of course, Russia has to go first. "We no longer live in fear of global annihilation." Easy for him to say; he doesn’t live in any of the several countries he’s besieging with drone aircraft! He spoke in English but Pepe Escobar has translated the meaning into accurate Russian & German: “Ich bin ein bullshitter.”

And that about sums up all the empty presidential blither at the Brandenburg Gate as well as UN fund-raising pity mongering. Let’s move on to the US-Mexican border & challenge Obama to “tear down this wall” to “build bridges not walls,” & cut the crap! The US-Mexican barrier wall is one of the most hideous & politically monstrous structures in the western hemisphere. Not only is it ugly as sin & violates nearly 50 environmental & human rights laws, but it has led to the denial of freedom & deaths of thousands of undocumented working people from around the world--though mostly from Mexico & Central America. The audacity of US presidents going to the Brandenburg Gate like liberators! They should hang their ugly mugs in shame. The audacity of the UN asking for dough when they haven’t raised a single objection to the many walls going up against immigrants all over this globe!

Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

(Photo from Tacoma, WA Immigration Prison, from wanet, org)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan: Israel Can Defend 1967 Borders

One of the most prevalent memes among those who defend the Occupation, settlements and oppose a Palestinian state (that is, the entirely Israeli cabinet and much of the Knesset) is that Israel can’t possibly return to 1967 borders because the past perfidy of the Arab states has proven that they’re indefensible.  Another version of the concept is what Abba Eban so colorfully and falsely depicted as “Auschwitz borders.”  Demagogues like Alan Dershowitz have taken up the cry as well.
None other than Israel’s “knife-in-the-teeth” former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, has told (Hebrew) the “war session” at Shimon Peres’ Presidential conference that Israel defended its border quite well up to 1967 and could do so again.  He added that the current borders are not ones that must be maintained in order to protect Israel’s security.  He even made this bold statement:
Borders don’t matter.

Silent protest against police violence in Turkey

We have for a while been witnessing extreme police violence against unarmed, peaceful protestors around the world. This violence expresses not only the repressive powers of the state but the growing fear of the oligarchs at the massive character & breadth of social opposition--& reflects not just their strength but their weakness.

This photo is the terror Turkish protestors faced on June 16th when riot cops charged them ferociously with tear gas & water cannons. It’s a sight that gives even veteran protestors pause because it is terrifying to witness. The repressive Erdogan government cleared Taksim Square in Istanbul & declared it a protest-free zone.  But within a day, Erdem Gunduz, a Turkish performance artist now called “Standing Man” (reminiscent of the anonymous “Tank Man” of Tiananmen Square in China who stood alone against a line of tanks) began a silent solo protest in Taksim Square facing a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of Turkey’s secular democracy. Hundreds began following his lead, filling the square with silent protest.

Mocking tyranny, Gunduz was replaced by a mannequin when he was briefly detained by cops & is joined now in Taksim Square by thousands of silent protestors. The media has called this defiance of physical force a “passive resistance,” although it seems mighty aggressive even if silent. It might be more accurate to call it the undaunted spirit of human rebellion & it is certainly right to see it as a beacon of human creativity & courage in the face of overwhelming violence & tyranny. Our solidarity & salute to our brothers & sisters in Turkey. You do the human race damn proud!

(Photo by AP)

Cops on the rampage in Brazil against democracy

A protestor in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is here drenched with pepper spray by a military cop trying to deter the over 200,000 protestors who flooded the streets in at least eight major cities. In country after country, the oligarchs are attempting to answer extreme force & massive opposition with outrageous violence.

Protestors are directly linking the lavish expenditures for the 2014 World Cup games  & 2016 summer Olympics to the growing impoverishment of millions of Brazilians sustaining a high cost of living & exorbitant taxation rates. We already witnessed the forcible eviction of indigenous settlers at Maracana Village in Rio to build parking lots for the limousines & upscale shopping malls for the thousands of well-heeled attendees at the games. Some protests in Rio took place at the Maracana stadium complex & may well be inspired in part by the example of indigenous resistance at Maracana, Brasilia, & elsewhere.

President Dilma Rousseff is issuing fatuous statements of support for the protestors, saying she’s proud of them for making Brazilian democracy strong. But she has yet to explain how her government can side with democracy while siccing violent cops on protestors without her intervention or opposition. In politics you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have democracy with a billy club.

(Photo by Victor R. Caivano/AP)

Roma evictions in Madrid

Here a small boy is distressed as riot cops monitor the bulldozing of a relative’s home in the Roma settlement of El Gallinero on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain. Madrid’s planning board has declared the settlement illegal though Roma have lived there for over 50 years--albeit without water or sanitation services & in shacks made of cardboard & zinc in a flood zone. It isn’t the squalor the planning board objects to; the area is likely charted for gentrification & development.

The forcible & violent evictions of Roma settlements throughout European countries are becoming quite alarming & more threatening as the oligarchs target the most vulnerable & impoverished as scapegoats for their economic crises. Their scapegoats include not just Roma but undocumented immigrants. The stinking racism involved has fostered the rise of right-wing thuggery in several countries. Roma were a primary target of extermination under German fascism & this alone should give pause. It certainly makes clear that standing up against tyranny & fighting for democracy requires opposition to racism as a weapon & defense of the Roma against these rabid predations.

In the US where the Roma population is relatively small & scattered, the focus of scapegoating has been undocumented immigrants--who own & control little but their labor. This has been a giant impediment to unity for US labor, quite frankly making numbskulls of a regrettable number of them. Working people need to get straight who our enemies & who are allies are. If we let our masters decide that for us, our collective asses are fried.

(Photo by Susana Vera/Reuters)

Peruvian farmers battle international mining companies

Newmont Mining Corp (a US company out of Colorado) has been operating Latin America’s largest gold mine (the Yanacocha) in Peru since 1993. The mine is nearly exhausted & Newmont in a joint project with Peruvian mining company Buenaventura (a 43.65% stake) & the World Bank (a 5% stake) wants to develop the nearby Minas Conga, an open pit copper & gold project. Conga, a $5 billion project, is the biggest investment in Peru’s US $50 billion mining portfolio & the biggest foreign investment in Peru’s history.

Ever since Peru opened its economy to neoliberal predation in the early 1990s, its vast resources of copper, silver, gold, & several other minerals have drawn foreign mining firms, making mining up to 77% of its export income & a main source of government revenues. From 2007 to 2010, the biggest mining companies hauled in more than $31 billion (per Peru's Securities & Exchange Commission)--enriching foreign investors but not the Peruvian farmers displaced by mining.

Since its inception a few years ago, the Conga project has been obstructed & delayed by the massive opposition of local farmers & environmentalists since it runs through their land & lakes in Peru’s northern Andes. The project would drain four mountain lakes used for consumption & agriculture & replace them with reservoirs controlled by the mining consortium. Angel Mendoza, a leader of the peasant opposition, asks reasonably, “Why would we want a reservoir controlled by the company when we already have lakes that naturally provide us water?”

Not only is control of water resources at issue but there is serious environmental risk in the likely contamination of the groundwater. Underground leaks from other mines have already contaminated the network of Andean springs & wetlands that farmers depend on for their livelihood--not to mention have upset the fragile ecosystems of the region.

The mining consortium is promising the earth & the moon to overcome peasant resistance--including community projects in health & education. But mining devastation speaks louder than empty promises. As recently as last February, Peru’s National Water Authority rejected a permit for Newmont to extend its Yanacocha gold mine because it would pollute the Rio Grande river supplying water to 70% of the region’s residents. Newmont requested a permit to dump mining waste into the river but the water authority determined that Newmont & its partner Buenaventura were not complying with 17 of the 30 environmental directives issued by the authority.

The Peruvian government has relied on police force & outright deception, including a state of emergency involving arrests without warrants, suspension of freedom of assembly, a blatantly fraudulent process favoring the mining companies in assessing environmental impact studies, & demonizing the opposition as led by nefarious political forces (i.e., socialists) rather than by farmers.

Considerable international political & economic forces are marshaled against the farmers & environmentalists. Thus far, they have managed to delay & obstruct the project. Our fullest solidarity with this important opposition to environmental destruction & international land grabs. Here Peruvian campesinos protest by setting fire (June 17th) to an area surrounding a dam in the region of Cajamarca. Burn baby burn!

(Photo by Enrique Castro-Mendivil/Reuters)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Scientist: We should praise Hawking's boycott of Israeli meeting

by Jonathan Rosenhead
Stephen Hawking's considered decision to support an academic boycott of Israeli institutions should not be derided, says a supporter of Palestinian universities
THEORETICAL physicist Stephen Hawking must be the most recognised contemporary scientist in the world. Many millions of people know what he looks and sounds like. And until last month he commanded universal respect for his intellectual achievements and strength of character against extraordinary odds.
However in recent weeks some media columnists have been writing "Stephen Hawking, the greatest scientist in the world...", and then going on to say how distressed, disappointed or disgusted they are with him.
What was his crime? He withdrew from this month's Israeli Presidential Conference. He did this in support of a Palestinian call to boycott Israeli universities, and events closely tied to the Israeli state, because of the country's treatment of the Palestinians.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Looking for ‘a new devil,’ Israeli leaders and supporters left scrambling after election of moderate Rouhani

Hassan Rowhani flashes the victory sign after voting on June 14, 2013 (Photo: Getty)
Nima Shirazi( Mondoweiss)
Hassan Rouhani's unexpected victory in this weekend's Iranian election has sent Israeli hasbara into a tailspin. The desire for an Iranian bogeyman is so intense in the warmongering mainstream of Israeli and neoconservative discourse that any attempt to mask their pre-election desires and post-election frustration has been futile. Their entire game plan has been on display -- every Iranian leader is a New Hitler and every New Hitler must be stopped.  The whole point is to stave off any possible reconciliation or even minor deflation of tensions between Iran and the West, namely the United States, so as to maintain permanent Israeli hegemony over the region and American largesse and diplomatic cover.  A thaw after thirty-four years in the US-Iran standoff is scarier to Israeli leaders than all the unborn Palestinian babies under occupation.  At least they're already under Israeli control; the Islamic Republic of Iran never has been.
Read more

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Caricatures in film

Haven’t seen all of Sandra Bullock’s films--& don’t intend to--but I appreciated this consummate middle-class woman’s ability to portray working-class women even though her roles often make us seem pitiable (as in “While You Were Sleeping”). She’s a fine actress & particularly a fine comedic actress & by US cinema standards that is high praise--when northern European beauty or Hollywood pedigree are usually the only requirements.

Her body of films however is taking on the regrettable nature of caricature & parody & it’s hard to watch talent washed down the drain in return for being one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. She’s become the queen of white savior films--the modern-day progeny of Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”--where white people save Black people from degradation through noblesse oblige or some other damn dime store sentiment. And she’s becoming the queen of films that demean women--from beauty queens to caricatures of heavy set but always witty & jovial women.

The onus here doesn’t rest on Sandra Bullock’s shoulders but on the entire system of misogyny & misogynist propaganda & imagery. But when they get paid nearly $60 million a film to peddle this crap it’s really hard to work up sympathy for those who are complicit.

(Photo of Melissa McCarthy playing a caricature of the "fat girl" with Sandra Bullock playing a caricature of the beauty)

Compensation of US $12 for the loss of two legs

The legacy of sweatshop production: this young woman named Pakhi is a survivor of the garment factory collapse in Savar, Bangladesh on April 24th. She lost both legs & suffered unimaginable psychological trauma. Her future is uncertain, to say the least, since there are no government social security benefits for the disabled. Thousands of survivors lined up on a recent morning when the British retailer Primark handed out US $12 to each survivor. Chump change & an insult when a pair of their underwear costs $17 on e-Bay.

(Photo by Abir Abdullah/EPA)

The legacy of sweatshop production

This is the legacy of sweatshop production. These grieving women are relatives of “missing” garment workers protesting at the site of Rana Plaza, the garment factory building that collapsed on April 24th in Savar, Bangladesh. The death toll is now 1,130; the state buried 301 unclaimed bodies (which means they were probably too disfigured to identify). Many of the 2,500 “rescued” lost one or more of their limbs.

Grieving is part of the legacy but, as these women demonstrate, so is protest against sweatshop production which is spreading like a virus across the planet worse than swine flu. Some retailers engaged briefly in a flurry of damage control; most US retailers are so imperious, colonial, & impervious to consequences they didn’t even bother to recite ritual mea culpas.

We can’t immediately bring these retailers to justice & stop sweatshop production but we can educate ourselves & others in several different fora about this vile & violent system of labor. The less we do about it, the more likely our children & grandchildren will learn about it right up close & personal.

(Photo by Abir Abdullah/EPA)

Craig Murray: Preparing to Bomb Syria

"Quite simply I do not believe the US, UK and French government’s assertion that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against rebels “multiple times in small quantities”.  Why on earth would they do that?  The claim that “up to 150 people have died” spread over a number of incidents makes no sense at all.  In a civil war when tens of thousands of people have died, where all sides have been guilty of massacres of scores at a time, I cannot conceive of any motive for killing a dozen or so at any one time with the odd chemical shell.  It makes no military sense – chemical weapons are designed for use against population centres and massed armies.  They are not precision weapons for deployment against small groups."
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Poet Kevin Coval: young Jews should stand with Palestine

Portrait photograph of bearded man wearing cap
Poet Kevin Coval: recent events in Palestine make it impossible to talk about anything else.
(Cory Roper Fuentes)
With Schtick, his newest book of poems, Coval tells his own story through that of others and vice versa. It looks at identity and heritage, oppression and transgression with a frank kind of lyricism and biting wit.
Where it gets controversial is naturally where it gets the most interesting. Coval is Jewish. “If you look at me, you talk to me, you look at my family, it’s just an ‘all-Jew everything’ kind of thing,” he said in an interview with The Electronic Intifada.

The Economist: Syria’s civil war. The regime digs in.

"....the rebels are losing support, in part because the regime has had some success in stirring sectarian fears. Many Syrians originally sympathetic to the rebels have been horrified by events such as the reported execution on June 9th of a 14-year-old boy by jihadists in Aleppo, allegedly for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Downtrodden Sunnis who six months ago were the mainstay of the opposition may be thinking again. “I hate the regime,” says a woman from a poor Damascus suburb. “But if forced to choose, perhaps I would rather live under them than the rebels. I am tired of the violence.”
Qatari and Saudi support for the opposition has also scared a lot of Syrians. “This is now a war in Syria, but not a Syrian war,” says a dissident artist in the capital. “I have no illusions that the Gulf backers are interested in us having democracy.” Unlike the opposition abroad, many in Damascus were pinning their hopes, however unrealistic, on the Geneva conference as a way to persuade the regime to share power and thus bring the war to a close."

93,000 dead in Syria: who killed whom? (Via the Angry Arab)

I have assumed that the UN has stopped counting the dead in Syria but whenever there is a need for a propaganda pitch for the armed opposition, they seem to come up with another count, largely if not exclusively based on claims by the opposition.  In the Western media, the mantra has not changed: that Bashshar has "killed 80,000 of his own people" or 93,000 "of his own people".  There is no ambiguity of the coverage as the entire death toll is blamed on one side in a ferocious civil war where both sides have extensive external support and links.  And notice that the armed opposition is 1) never ever blamed for one death whatsoever, especially of civilians. 2) never ever mentioned when the death tally is provided to the media. But look at this sentence by the Qatari-funded, pro-armed opposition Syrian Observatory:  "It said the confirmed toll included 25,040 Syrian soldiers and security personnel, and 17,107 pro-Assad militiamen."  We are talking about 42,147 Syrians dead--and that is when the death toll was 80,000.  So by that count, the armed opposition killed more than half of those killed in Syria.  Note that in every war civilians are killed: so if the armed opposition managed to kill over 40,000 armed Syrians, it is logical to wonder how many more thousands of Syrian civilians were killed by the armed opposition especially that some Western organization had to grudgingly admit that massacres were perpetrated by the armed opposition.  So by this count, using figures by the Syrian Observatory, it is possible to maintain that the armed opposition managed to kill more Syrians than the brutal Syrian regime itself. But please: feel free to enjoy the armed opposition and to call its fanatical thugs "revolutionaries".

Friday, June 14, 2013

Protests in Hong Kong to defend Snowden

Protesters in Hong Kong march to the US Consulate to support Edward Snowden for exposing secret US surveillance details. It’s a damn good thing we have political allies abroad defending our interests since we’re somewhat leaden & sluggish here about doing so. Although historically US working people are slow to act, when we do it is quite titanic. Though who’s asking for titanic when just a rustle of commotion would be good while the Bill of Rights is being flouted & shredded before our very eyes!?

(Photo by Bobby Yip/Reuters)

The criminal irrationality of Israeli immigration policy

The dilemma of this Palestinian woman named Sahar Kabaha pictured here with her daughter (one of her four children) typifies the criminal & apartheid irrationalities of Israeli immigration policy. Kabaha was married to an Israeli Palestinian man. The family lived in the Arab-Israeli town of Bartaa which straddles the line between Israel & the West Bank. After her husband died last year Israel refused to renew her residency permit even though her small children are all Israeli citizens. She is legally appealing deportation orders against her.

Foreign spouses of Jewish Israelis are eligible for citizenship under the Zionist Law of Return while Palestinian spouses have been denied even residency permits under restrictions imposed in 2003--thus exposing the flagrant racist character of Israeli immigration policy. To justify the policy Israel raises the specter of security & suicide bombers but in the decade since they imposed residency restrictions on Palestinians official Israeli figures only show 5 security-related crimes. And when it comes to Israel arresting Palestinians even those 5 are suspect.

About 1.6 million Palestinians are Israeli citizens linked by ethnic & family bonds to the 4.4 million Palestinians living in the West Bank & Gaza. Palestinians from the West Bank may apply for temporary permits to live & work in Israel but they may not drive, access health care, welfare, or apply for citizenship. Palestinians from Gaza are outright banned from living in Israel. Israel has had a harder time banning love.

And yet there are those who agree with Netanyahu’s claim that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel is anti-Semitic rather than an effective protest against racism & apartheid! Go figure!

Support Palestinian rights by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729)!

(Photo by Dusan Vranic/AP)