Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No to child labor!

There are those who argue child labor is necessary in many countries; they even try to make it seem unreasonable to oppose. But child labor is part of neoliberal economic policy to undercut adult labor, particularly organized union labor. Neoliberalism is simply capitalism in its most deranged & barbaric stage. We should not buy into their rationalizations--lest our own politics become deranged.

Putting small children to work in toxic conditions, around pesticides, contaminants, dangerous tools, near livestock, & in mines is barbarism, not economic necessity. Opposing child labor means solidarity with their parents in forging labor rights against sweatshops & union busting & for the human rights--nay, not just the human rights but the very humanity--of children.

Manicured patricians who run the world have no scruples about using children as miners, garment workers, farm workers, sex slaves because along with the economic compulsion to drive down the political power of adult labor, racism is a fundamental component of child labor. But child labor is an intolerable scourge for humanity & must be actively opposed. It doesn’t matter if children are the hope of the future or not. What matters is they are vulnerable, weak, unprotected, completely dependent on adults for nurturance & safety & love--& we either come across or we bomb out & cave to neoliberal plunder.

Many think child labor is outlawed in the US. But in 2011 the Obama regime demolished legislation to protect child farm workers from the violence of agribusiness. There are an estimated 800,000 mostly Mexican children (we’re talking very little kids) working with pesticides, dangerous tools, livestock in the US. Lesser evil Obama made it illegal to ever again attempt to even monitor such labor practices. And that doesn’t even begin to address child labor in the hidden economy of US sweatshops & sexual slavery!

UN agencies, along with NGOS & human rights groups milking the public for dough try to make child labor look like a problem in the plundered countries--& it most certainly is. That’s part & parcel of white supremacist narrative because if there ever was a “poster child” for child labor it would be US agribusiness--meaning Monsanto, Con-Agra, & the other two or three multinationals controlling the world’s food supply according to the dictates of IMF/neoliberal food policy.

These sweet children are working in a cigarette factory in Bangladesh where working conditions involve poor ventilation & exposure to tobacco dust which causes many health problems including respiratory & skin diseases.

(Photo by Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

Tikun Olam: Israeli Intelligence Assets Aid African Dictators

Richard Silverstein
Africa has for decades been a playground for Israel: both in the literal sense as a spot for Israelis to play in the sun (Kenya, Sharm el-Sheikh); and in the figurative sense regarding Israeli diplomats and spies who’ve woven their webs of intrigue there.  In the days of Ben Gurion, he saw Africa as a weight to counter the hostile influence of the Arab world.  That’s why Israeli development and aid projects were so intensively pursued in the 1950s and 60s.
Later, Israel made common cause with apartheid era South Africa in developing its nuclear weapons program.  Israel also readily supplied arms to some of the worst insurgent movements in places like Angola on behalf of the Reagan administration and as a spoiler for Cuba in its intervention.  Today, Israeli billionaires like Lev Leviev and Dan Gertler work hand in glove with military regimes and corrupt politicians in Congo, Angola and elsewhere to pry blood diamonds from African soil, which glitter on the necks and bosoms of the 1% in fashion capitals throughout the world.  They reinforce the wealth and power of blood-sucking tyrants and the continuing degradation of the poor peasants who share none of this wealth.
Israel’s retrograde influence in southern Africa continues to this day.  Retired Israeli intelligence officers are plying their trade in countries like Zimbabwe, where they offer the ruling party their expertise in running elections.  They collect data, register voters, maintain voter rolls, conduct the elections and count the votes–all for a substantial fee of course.  On their websites they can boast about their role in furthering the budding of African democracy.  But in reality, they’re working hand in glove with the dictator, Robert Mugabe.

Kerry: Mideast "peace talks" to last nine months

Israel and the western-backed Palestinian Authority will seek to reach a peace agreement within nine months and negotiators will meet again within two weeks after holding a "positive" first round of talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.
Senior aides to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held their first talks this week since 2010, but focused largely on the framework for negotiations rather than the substance of their dispute.
Speaking after the meetings, which included a session with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as well as direct talks between the two sides without US officials present, Kerry said he believed peace was possible despite the obstacles.

Lobotomy material love their channel

PA ministry: Palestinian prisoners are not terrorists

RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 29 July — The Palestinian Authority on Monday slammed remarks by an Israeli minister who said Palestinian prisoners were “terrorists.” “Terrorists are those who occupy the lands of another people and displace them by force and settle in their place. Palestinian prisoners are strugglers for their freedom and not terrorists,” the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The ministry was responding to remarks by Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who has protested the planned release of 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners to coincide with the resumption of peace talks. Bennet, leader of the Jewish Home party, has called the proposed prisoner release a “disgrace” and said “terrorists should be eliminated, not freed.” The PA ministry responded that some Israeli officials were “terrorists.” “The definition of terrorism completely applies to many Israeli politicians who defame Palestinian prisoners especially those jailed before the Oslo Accords.”
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133 Palestinian NGOs reject PA’s decision to restart talks with Israel

GAZA (PIC) 30 July — The Palestinian NGO network said it is deeply concerned about the Palestinian authority’s decision to return to the negotiation table with the Israeli occupation. In a press release on Monday, the network, which include 133 member organizations, stated that the gravity of such a decision that it was taken without any commitment to the minimum requirements, most importantly, the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and the termination of settlement activities. The network criticized the PA for its decision to backtrack on its intention to join international organizations including the international criminal court in exchange for its talks with the Israeli regime. It also expressed its fears that the PA-Israeli negotiations would undermine the boycott campaign against Israel, which started to bear fruit following the decision of the European union to ban dealing with settlements and Israeli companies operating within 1967 borders.
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The Israeli bank opens its doors to everyone – except Arabs

Haaretz 30 July by Sharon Shpurer — A startling conversation with a representative of Bank Mizrahi Tefahot in Kiryat Shmona sheds light on the obstacles faced by non-Jewish clientele . . . In early 2012 several Mizrahi call center reps referred Arabs looking to open an account to the branch in Kiryat Shmona. After a while the officer at the branch in charge of recruiting new clients – we’ll call her “L.” – phoned the call center with a request: Stop sending us Arab customers or you’ll receive a “negative denial.” What she meant was the referral of a client to a branch that didn’t result in an account being opened, something that would appear as a black mark on the rep’s record. L. knew that under Israeli law a client asking to open an account can’t be turned down, so she instructed phone reps to convince Arab callers to drop the idea
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“All I want is my land”

Abed Abed-Rabbeh is standing on the dirt road looking anxiously at the bulldozers further up the hill. The Israeli bulldozers are digging a sewer system for the nearby illegal settlement of Har Gilo. Everyday, the bulldozers get closer and closer to the land that has belonged to his family for generations.
Abed Abed-Rabbeh (Photo by: Ida Vanhainen)
Abed Abed-Rabbeh (Photo by: Ida Vanhainen)
The Abed-Rabbeh family has been farming the land of Wallajah village since before anyone can remember. Abed grew up in a large farming family and was taught early in life the importance of the farmland.

“My grandfather use to tell me that if you take good care of the land, it will take good care of you. And it was true, we grew everything back then, zucchinis, olives, almonds and tomatoes bigger than you have ever seen.”

Jewish settlers return to evacuated outpost

JENIN, (PIC)-- Jewish settlers returned to an evacuated settlement outpost near Sanur village, south of Jenin, on Monday night and pitched tents.
Local sources said that the heavily armed settlers returned to the site of the evacuated settlement outpost and set up tents and caravans in addition to children games.
They said that the settlers prevented land owners from entering the site and chanted racist slogans against Arabs and Muslims.

Israel Approves A New colony In Occupied Jerusalem

Israeli TV, Channel 10, has reported that, despite an Israeli decision to release 104 Palestinian detainees and resume direct negotiations with the Palestinians, the Israeli Housing Ministry approved a new settlement “neighborhood” in the heart of occupied East Jerusalem.
Settlements - Americans For Peace Now
Settlements - Americans For Peace Now
Direct peace talks, mediated by the United States, are supposed to start on Monday evening.

Channel 10 said that Israeli Housing Minister, Uri Ariel, approved the plan, and added that various Israeli political analysts believe this decision is a sharp blow to efforts to resume and maintain direct talks.

The plan was first presented by the Israeli “Construction and Planning Committee” in 2004, but the application was voided because the planned constructions have high walls that violate the construction code of the Jerusalem City Council.

Images of Bedouin displacement foreshadow a ‘Nakba in the Negev’

At a ‘Zochrot’ exhibition opening, compelling photography, first exhibited in the ‘unrecognized village’ of al-Araqib in 2012, documents home demolitions and Bedouin demonstrations against the Prawer Plan.
One of the biggest demolitions in al-Araqib village July 27, 2010. From “Baqon” (Photo: Aiob Abo Madegam)
The boy in the photograph is half-smiling because he saved his birds, said photographer Aiob Abo Madegam.
In the image, behind the Palestinian Bedouin boy holding a blue crate containing chickens, at least a dozen Israeli policemen in full riot gear don’t notice Madegam’s camera. Israeli authorities had just demolished the village of al-Araqib in the Negev for the first time, on July 27, 2010, including the animal pens.
This is one of 25 photographs of unrecognized villages in the Negev and their Bedouin residents taken by Madegam from 2010 to 2013, featured in his exhibition, “Baqon” (Remaining), which opened July 28 at Zochrot’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.
The photographs include portraits of demonstrators, villagers and children, some one in the same, intimate scenes of village life and intense moments of confrontation between villagers and the authorities. Madegam’s images provide public recognition to Bedouin communities in the Negev that are unrecognized by the State of Israel, and to the residents’ struggle against forced displacement.
Madegam, 23, said he shot many of the exhibition photographs in al-Araqib on the day the IDF demolished the village for the first of more than 50 times.
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Israeli settlers torch Hebron family’s property for eighth time

On Sunday, July 28, Israeli settlers severely burned land belonging to Hani Abu Haikel and his family in Hebron. Occupation soldiers, though at first trying to help stop the fire, ended up blocking the road so that Palestinian firefighters were delayed in reaching the scene. Several very old olive trees were destroyed in the fire which swept over immense swathes of land very quickly. In the video below, Hani Abu Haikel speaks about the incident and how Israeli settlers, soldiers and police work together to pressure Palestinian families to leave the Israeli-controlled H2 district of occupied Hebron.
Flames tear through one of Abu Haikel’s oldest olive trees (Photo by Christian Peacemaker Teams)
Flames tear through one of Abu Haikel’s oldest olive trees (Photo by Christian Peacemaker Teams)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Release Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning went through the recent trial which began June 3rd with a mainstream media blackout & coverage by alternative media controlled & circumscribed. Our attention was unavoidably eclipsed by the Edward Snowden revelations & odyssey, the Trayvon Martin verdict, momentous events in Egypt, Turkey, & Brazil.

Now our brother Manning is center stage again where his international defense must remain until the sentencing hearing is complete. The army colonel serving as judge has already been promoted to a higher military appeals court. You don’t get that kind of promotion for going easy on insubordinates who defy generals; it comes for playing ball with the Pentagon brass. Only the most credulous expect justice from a US military court.

Because of the international defense campaign, brother Manning was removed from solitary confinement & other treatment considered degrading, harsh, & punitive. Without that international defense, he most certainly would still be facing the death penalty. According to several media reports, he still faces a maximum sentence of up to 136 years in prison for several espionage charges, theft & computer fraud charges, & military infractions.

This unassuming young man is a champion of democratic rights whose most important contribution has been exposing US war criminality for all the world to see. He was found not guilty of espionage act violation for releasing the video “Collateral Murder,” showing a US Apache helicopter firing on unarmed Iraqi civilians, including children (in 2007). But out of all the tens of thousands of documents he released to Wikileaks that video viewed by millions around the world renders the most powerful indictment of US war crimes & is a powerful weapon in opposing war.

We’re living in the barbaric phase of capitalism where justice in the courts, especially in a military court, for political dissidents is unlikely. Bradley Manning will not see the outside of a prison cell unless we mobilize our political energies & beat the drums loudly  in his defense.

As one of his defense lawyers said, "We won the battle, now we need to go win the war.” His sentencing hearing begins tomorrow at 9 am  but we should not delay a moment in mobilizing pressure of every kind demanding “Free Bradley Manning!” We are all Bradley Manning! An injury to one is an injury to all!

(Photo of Washington, DC protest on July 26th by Chip SomodevillaAFP/Getty Images)

Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the "enemy"

Bradley Manning found not guilty of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge that would have meant life in prison without parole. He was found guilty of other lesser charges which could carry many years in prison. Full news coverage not yet available.

Free Bradley Manning!

The military colonel acting as judge in the Bradley Manning trial will announce her verdict today at 1 PM EST. He is being tried by this judge alone & not a jury of military officers, which was his choice. The sentencing hearing (which could last weeks) begins tomorrow. This 25-year-old man could serve life in prison without parole for championing the right of people around the world to know the truth of US war crimes.

Appeals can be made to higher military courts as well as the US Supreme Court. We await the verdict today knowing he would be facing the death penalty without the international campaign waged in his defense. Our work in his defense continues: Free Bradley Manning!

These protestors are outside Fort McNair in Washington, DC on July 26th.

(Photo by Mandel Ngan)

Safety & working conditions in Bangladesh under the yoke of IMF

The many fires & building collapses in the garment sweatshop industry of Bangladesh put the spotlight on safety & working conditions in every industry. Bangladesh has labor laws protecting workers & requiring compensation for criminal misconduct by employers--they just don’t bother to enforce them since it isn’t profitable.

The stone crushing industry in the Lalmonirhat area (in the north of Bangladesh) produces lime powder for various industrial purposes, including as poultry feed (which should give you pause about eating poultry). There are over 30 stone-grinding factories in the area where mostly young men work dawn to dusk for US $2.50 to $3.00 a day.

Silicosis is an incurable lung disease ubiquitous to the industry & caused by inhalation of silica dust from quartz in rocks, sand, & similar substances. Despite the fact that it is the oldest known occupational lung disease with medical treatises on it going back centuries, regardless that respiratory problems cannot be completely eliminated but only ameliorated through use of masks & propellant fans, workers are provided no safety education & no protective gear in the industry.

It’s no accident these young men’s lives are ground up as relentlessly as those grinding machines work on stone. It’s unlikely stone-grinding workers don’t know the deadly nature of their occupation--but they don’t have a choice since this is the only work available year round. Agricultural work is not just seasonal but, like all major industrial employment in Bangladesh, governed in accord with IMF & World Bank structural plundering programs.

The symptoms of silicosis can develop within months of intense exposure & include shortness of breath, bloodshot eyes, coughing (including coughing up blood), fever, bluish skin, inflammation, scarring, & fluid in the lungs, tiredness & mental confusion, chest pain, vulnerability to tuberculosis, complete respiratory failure, continued weight loss.

There is no cure for silicosis but there are therapies to relieve some of the misery including bronchodilators, steam inhalers, mechanical ventilators, oxygen & physical therapy. Heart-lung transplants are the only hope for some patients. Of course, under IMF & World Bank economic policy, public health care barely exists in Bangladesh.

This is a photo of 40-year-old Montu Mia, a former stone-grinding worker in the Lalmonirhat district; he suffers from silicosis & is no longer able to work. His extreme thinness is a chief symptom of the disease, though not his only sypmtom. Under Section 150 of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006, workers are entitled to compensation for diseases caused by employment. Our brother awaits his due under laws which remain unenforced by the Bangladeshi government & impeded by the IMF. The only hope for change is the new labor militancy erupting throughout Bangladesh. Our fullest solidarity with the working people of Bangladesh.

(Photo by Andrew Biraj/Reuters)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why the Fox News Scandal Is Good News for Reza Aslan

Religious scholar Reza Aslan recently appeared on the show Spirited Debate and the host insisted that his being a Muslim somehow affects the quality of his new book about Jesus. The whole ordeal was embarrassing for Fox News, but things are only going to get better from here for the author.
Aslan appeared on the online show on Friday to promote his new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, about how the environment Jesus grew up in shaped him. But host Lauren Green didn't want to talk about the book so much as she wanted to talk about how Aslan is a Muslim. "You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?" was Green's very first question. "Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim," Aslan politely replied. Green doesn't give up, though, the interview goes downhill from there:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Revolution has no dress code

One of the monumental achievements of the great French Revolution against feudalism was freedom of religion along with the consequent French history of separation of church & state. So it’s not only regrettable but deplorable to see the French government  be the vanguard in Islamophobic policies against wearing hijabs & niqabs, the headscarves worn by Muslim women. Let’s be frank: recruitment to Catholic nunneries may be taking a hit everywhere but thousands of nuns wearing nearly the same outfits, including with starched flying buttresses, are all over the place in France--& there are no proscriptions on their outfits. Most people tip their hats when they meet them; they don’t harass & arrest them.

Critiques of the headscarves are most often accompanied by patronizing expressions of solidarity with the downtrodden Muslim women wearing them--as if pity makes Islamophobia more acceptable, even progressive instead of despicable. Can we cut the crap!? Veiled women have been leading the Arab uprisings; they are kicking ass against insuperable odds & don’t appear to need much of anyone’s patronizing or pity or prejudice.

Who would ever have thought that in 2013 freedom of religion would be such an issue--though of course it isn’t religion at issue but the political awakening & momentous democratic movements led by Arabs--many of them Muslim & female. If you stand for freedom of religion, if you stand for women’s rights, if you support the Arab uprisings against tyranny, & if you oppose US-NATO wars you support religious women’s rights to wear whatever the hell they want. Revolution is a come-as-you-are event. There is no dress code for social transformation.

(Photo of Bahraini woman protestor by Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Moe Diab: Prawer Plan recalls historical atrocity of Native American ethnic cleansing

"This is among the greatest crimes against humanity. This is not so much a political issue, as it is a pending human rights catastrophe, which will affect up to 70,000 more Palestinians, if the plan proceeds uninterrupted. If Israel were truly a democratic state that upholds fundamental democratic principles, such as equal rights for all citizens, they would have come to the “unrecognized” villages to consult with the citizens to understand how they can resolve the issue democratically and humanely to actually plan a promising future for the impoverished and intentionally strangled Palestinian-Bedouin Israeli citizens on their own historical land and provide them with basic living services such as running water, electricity and sewage services. The international community must increase pressure on the government of Israel to reverse this racial discriminatory plan, which violates International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law, before its too late and this goes down as another Native American-like tragedy in history. We must stop it now before, our kids are reading about the ethnic cleansing and destruction of a native population and their once preserved culture and unique traditions."

Egyptian revolution in mortal danger

Although reports about how Egyptians responded to the military’s call for action against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) are still insufficient (it was in the hundreds of thousands), it is not too early to judge that the Egyptian democracy movement is in the gravest danger--primarily because too many continue to trust the generals rather than their own powers for social transformation. In over six decades of military rule & repression & violence the generals have proven themselves to be enemies of democracy. Who can ever forget General Mubarak or General Omar Suleiman with their torture chambers of horrors!? Who can ignore that Egyptian courts have not yet even brought Mubarak to justice? That the entire economic, judicial, legal systems are still run by Mubarak loyalists? And that the creepy torturer, Suleiman (now thankfully dead as a doornail) was even scary to his CIA trainers.

But in league with their benefactors in the US Pentagon & White House & CIA & those ignominious think tanks conspiring against revolution, the Egyptian generals are trying to outsmart the revolution & play its activists for fools. Democracy & revolution don’t mean diddly-squat if they only protect majority opinion & violently repress minority views--no matter how reprehensible those minority views may be & even if yesterday they ruled the roost in  Egypt.

Reports indicate the Egyptian military are now shooting live ammunition at MB protestors. Hundreds have been injured, many killed. Is this what the revolutions against Mubarak & Morsi fought for!? Not by a long shot!! Not in a pig’s eye! Those who stand with democracy & social transformation in Egypt stand against the military’s massacres of Muslim Brotherhood members--even if 30 million Egyptians disagree.

{And I know this why? Because I have been a minority point of view all my life--& believe I have a democratic right to express & promote my views no matter how few others agree!}

Here, an injured Egyptian supporter of Morsi is given medical aid by doctors in a field hospital after being attacked by riot cops in Cairo earlier today

(Photo by Ahmed Mahmud/AFP)

Israel Deputy FM says Netanyahu willing to give up (!) 86% of West Bank (Did you mean give back?)

netanyahu4Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, an opponent of the peace process, says that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to go through with giving up 86 percent of the occupied West Bank as a Palestinian state.
The 14-86% split is said to be Ariel Sharon’s vision, and Elkin insisted that the Palestinians rejected that because it didn’t include any of occupied East Jerusalem, and that this proved a deal couldn’t be made.
Netanyahu’s referendum requirement means any deal Netanyahu would nominally be willing to “go for” would still have to face an uphill battle with settlers, and analysts say they don’t think any deal is likely to happen.
Israel is said to be planning to offer some limitations to West Bank settlement expansion for the duration of the talks, though it will be well short of even the “partial settlement freeze” previously talked about.
The “talks” for now are just preliminary talks, and whether they ever amount to full scale talks remains to be seen. The US is pressing hard for that, but Israeli factions are warning that President Bush offered written guarantees to support Israeli claims on the occupied territories.

Egypt army shoots live bullets at Mursi supporters, kills more than 70

An injured Egyptian supporter of the deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi is given medical aid by doctors in a field hospital after clashes with riot policemen in Cairo early on 27 July 2013. (Photo: AFP - Ahmed Mahmud)
 Egyptian security forces shot dead at least 70 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Mursi on Saturday, his Muslim Brotherhood said, days after the army chief called for a popular mandate to tackle "violence and terrorism." Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad said the shooting started shortly before pre-dawn morning prayers on the fringes of a round-the-clock sit-in being staged by backers of Mursi, who was toppled by the army more than three weeks ago.
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"A spiritual disease of fundamentally negative, fearful, self-absorbed, and inferior people"

Pepper-spraying cop suffers hurt feelings from international condemnation

John Pike, the UC Davis cop here pepper-spraying protestors deliberately in their faces (in November 2011) claims he suffered psychiatric damages as a result of the international opprobrium he faced & is seeking workers’ compensation from the state of California. We live in an Onion world!

UC Davis fired him in July 2012  after a task force investigation found his action “unwarranted.” Unwarranted!? What about criminal!? What about prosecuting his ass!? The real reason is likely that a civil lawsuit brought by the injured students cost the UC system $30,000 a pop for the 21 students & other protestors injured by Pike’s action.

If this bozo wins his claim every living dictator on the planet will be lining up in court to get compensated for their hurt feelings. Pike’s settlement conference is set for August 13th in Sacramento. Perhaps the California Department of Industrial Relations needs a few phone calls to goad them in the right direction.

(Photo by Wayne Tilcock/AP)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Looky looky who we found on facebook! Our favorite troll and far-right knucklehead fleming stalking our contributor Mary

Officiating under different monikers among which, Ned Moore and Frank Smith.

Why boycott can’t be limited only to Israeli occupation and settlements

Israeli columnist Gideon Levy has been writing for Haaretz for at least two decades. His writings have brilliantly illuminated the reality of Israeli apartheid, as it affects Palestinian citizens of Israel, Palestinians living in the Gaza Stip, as well as in Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank.
Levy describes himself as writing to “(re)humanize the Palestinians,” and focus on how they are treated by Israel.
Yet when it comes to the campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel called for by more than 170 Palestinian civil society organizations, he has on numerous occasions explained why he does not support the movement. He even – at one point – went so far as to accuse civil society organizations elsewhere in the world of having a “moral double standard” for supporting the boycott.
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Monsoon Wedding director Mira Nair boycotts Israel film festival

Mira Nair (Wikimedia Commons)
Mira Nair, the internationally-acclaimed director of Salaam Bombay! and Monsoon Wedding, has refused an invitation to take her latest film to Israel, citing the Palestinian call for cultural boycott.
In a series of tweets today, Nair made the following statement:
I was just invited to Israel as a guest of honor at the Haifa International Film Festival with “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” I will not be going to Israel at this time. I will go to Israel when the walls come down. I will go to Israel when occupation is gone. I will go to Israel when the state does not privilege one religion over another. I will go to Israel when Apartheid is over. I will go to Israel, soon. I stand with the [Palestinian Campaign] for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement.
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They lie through their teeth: No evidence of “threats” that prompted The Animals’ Eric Burdon to cancel Israel gig

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eric Burdon, former lead vocalist of the 1960s British band The Animals, has canceled a scheduled performance in Israel amid claims of “threats” to his life. But no evidence has emerged to substantiate the claims of threats, or accusations by a Jewish Agency propagandist that activists in the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement made them.

Photos: Syrian refugees' camp in Jordan

The refugee camp first opened on July 28, 2012 to host Syrians fleeing the ongoing Syrian civil war:
The Zaatari Refugee Camp, near the Jordanian city of Mafraq, currently holds an estimated 120,000 Syrian refugees making it one of Jordan’s largest cities. The camp which opened on July 28, 2012 had a planned capacity of 60,000 people.

The Zaatari Refugee Camp holds roughly 120,000 Syrian refugees:
Some estimates put the population closer to 140,000 refugees, making it Jordan's fourth largest city:
Makeshift shops sell produce in the main thoroughfare as Syrian refugees go about their daily lives:

More than 500,000 Syrian refugges are currently in Jordan, according to The U.N. Refugee Agency .
About 60,000 of the camp’s residents are children, according to The Wall Street Journal :
Two boys looking at rubbish dumped in a ditch at the camp:

The "slum pope" & other lies

There are those who buy the humble pie schtick of Pope Francis. Well there’ll always be a special place in heaven for the credulous--though their political value on planet Earth is tedious as all get-out. Sentimentality is a sorry substitute for sound judgement.

Media now dubs our man the “slum pope” for his brief visit to Varghina, a favela in Rio de Janeiro now occupied by Brazilian troops & riot police & according to media reports,  “so violent it’s known by locals as the Gaza Strip.” The locals apparently have an irony that escapes well-heeled reporters: Gazans are subject to Israeli siege & bombardment & are not the perpetrators of violence. Get it now boys!?

Thanks to the pope’s visit Varghina got spruced up (just a bit; no need to go overboard): a few street lights were installed, a road was paved, & the garbage was collected, at least along the pope’s route. The favela is reportedly a dusty, uninhabitable place sitting between two putrid waterways full of raw sewage--which may explain why the pope made a beeline in & out of the place.

Reporters claim Francis received a “rapturous” welcome from the residents. Then could they explain why security was so damn tight, with police helicopters, sharpshooters atop buildings, cops posted every 5 feet (2 meters), & metal barricades holding the “ecstatic” crowds back!?

Francis was there to give benediction to a new altar--not a health clinic or school. But in that benediction our man really got tough. He “blasted” (no less) the "culture of selfishness & individualism" that permeates society today & demanded those with money & power share their resources to fight hunger & poverty. Wow, those are fighting words! They’re just not worth a hoot in terms of papal action.

Pictures are always worth a thousand lies. It’s been impossible to find a photo of Francis surrounded by those rapturous favela residents. The caption to this photo is “People greet Pope Francis as he visits the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” Do those “people” look like favela residents to you or more like papal minions & undercover cops?

(Photo by Victor R. Caivano/AP)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The mask of Pope Francis

Pope Francis would be a whole better off if the media didn’t report these media stunts he’s pulling off in Brazil. Starting with his name associating him with Francis of Assisi to his baby-kissing (like any second rate US politician) to his living in a “humble” mansion to his parade through a Rio favela, this guy is a one-man public relations fraud, a manufactured image, a persona that doesn’t exist.

He has yet to come clean on what he knows about the Dirty War in Argentina when 10,000 to 30,000 people disappeared during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship--many of them thrown from military planes into the sea. He has yet to answer for the Catholic hierarchies collusive role with the Argentine dictatorship--especially his role when liberation theology Jesuits under this control were kidnapped & tortured by the military for working in slums. He has yet to explain his refusal to intervene when appealed to by grandparents of infants born while their “disappeared” children were in military custody & allegedly given to military families to raise as their own.

In many ways it’s appropriate that he parades through a favela where he will walk a red carpet on the only street that’s been paved to give benedictions for a new church altar. If he doesn’t look right or left he won’t see the favela has been “pacified,” (meaning occupied) by the Brazilian army & police, including tanks & repression & mass evictions & mass arrests & incarcerations (including of children) under the guise of the war on drugs. He won’t notice the lack of education & health care & he can remain as mute as he was in Argentina--& just as collusive.

Here Pope Francis masks dry at a mask manufactory in Brazil. The factory is Brazil’s oldest & has made masks of athletes, Shrek, & politicians from around the world. What could be more appropriate than another baked image!?

(Photo by Felipe Dana/AP)

Justice for Bangladeshi garment workers

Bangladeshi family members view a portrait display of garment workers still missing from the factory collapse last April in Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka. This phenomenon of creating photographic tributes exists around the world not just as an expression of grief but as a demand for justice. We have seen them in country after country, from the victims of fascism under Franco in Spain to the victims of dictatorship in Honduras to the Mayan victims of genocide in Guatemala & in so many other countries. These displays don’t go away after a year or two but last for decades, haunting justice until justice gets its due.

After some initial damage control & a flurry of mea culpas from retailers & the Bangladeshi government, the Bangladeshi victims & their families have yet to receive justice for this monstrous crime. And to be clear, this is what justice demands for the worst industrial disaster in sweatshop history: a full accounting of those workers still missing; a full investigation followed by prosecutions of all involved, including government officials who allowed hundreds of workers to be endangered; full compensation to those disabled & injured in the accident & to those who lost a family member; prosecution of all retailers involved in compromising the safety & well-being of garment workers; the strict implementation & enforcement of safety policies & protective laws, including the banning of child labor; & an immediate increase in wages & benefits for all Bangladeshi workers in & outside of the garment industry.

Bangladesh is not one giant sweatshop where retailers from the plundering countries can go to make killing fields for profit. Savar was a wakeup call & Bangladeshi workers are leading the way by protesting in their hundreds at the site of the building collapse demanding compensation & a full accounting. Our role is to render them solidarity by educating & agitating about the predatory retailers spreading the sweatshop production system around the world like a malignant virus.

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The birth of this Windsor kid doesn't amount to a hill of beans; the media barrage is however telling

You know the birth of this Windsor kid doesn't amount to a hill of beans but the relentless & merciless media barrage is quite telling & needs to be observed. What the hell is going on when they spend hours on the symbolism of KKKKaty's polka dot dress, the meaning of the kid's name, the fact that Willy wore rolled up sleeves while Chucky was in a button-up suit?

Let me give you my take on this crap: the oligarchs are trying to reverse history. Capitalism is headed into its barbaric phase & to save it they're trying to go back & relive the past, bypassing feudalism & heading straight back to slavery. And I'm only partially sardonic.

But essential to this process--wherever the hell they think they're going & wherever the hell we'll let them go--is teaching us deference, acculturating us once to again to bending the knee to social inequality, teaching us to fear & to fawn & to grovel.

The media talking heads got to their well-paid positions by kissing ass; such ignobility is good enough for them. It is not good enough for working people who deserve dignity & respect & equality.

Things are relative

An elderly woman resting on the ruins after she lost her home during the earthquake in northwest China’s Gansu province. And I’m distraught over wood ticks in the back yard. Life's discomforts are relative. Some are tragedies.

(Photo by AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian generals mock the social revolution

The Egyptian generals, certainly in league with their benefactors in the Pentagon & CIA, are trying to mock the social revolution & they are doing so in a most dangerous way. The first act in their takeover of power was to go after the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), provoking them, arousing their massive opposition. Photojournalistic documentation indicates the MB have been aggressive & violent opponents. But of course a situation of such polarization creates a field day for agents provocateurs making a bad situation worse.

Now General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi who heads the military junta ruling Egypt has called for protests on Friday to give the military “a mandate to confront potential violence & terrorism" from the MB. The general’s call is backed by Tamarod, the movement taking all the credit for bringing millions into the street on June 30th which led to the removal of President Morsi. Tamarod say it’s the army & the people united against MB terrorism!

Tamarod (meaning rebellion in Arabic) was founded in April 2013 by five activists, including Mahmoud Badr, its official spokesperson. Badr is a political associate of Mohamed ElBaradei who has now taken his place within the military regime. Badr & ElBaradei both flanked General el-Sissi when he announced Morsi’s removal from power. It has forged alliance with the generals against the revolution so it is not too soon to say Tamarod has exhausted its political potential in the revolution & should be booted off the stage of history.

General el-Sissi is asking for a mandate to use extreme violence & repression against the MB. The relationship of forces is against the MB but that is no license to hunt them down or deny them basic democratic rights. Once again, the Egyptian democratic movement has proven over & over again it is capable of defending itself against the MB & the Egyptian military--& that is what the generals are afraid of. The generals, who just weeks ago were allies of the MB, are not allies of the Egyptian revolution but opponents & when they finish going after the MB will turn their tanks & arsenal on the revolution.

No US aid to Egypt! Down with the generals! Down with military dictatorship! And heave-ho to Tamarod!

(Photo of General el-Sissi from Egypt State TV/AP)

Windsor & Wiener media fiasco

What does it say about your news media when the dominant stories are the Windsor kid & the Anthony Wiener sexting scandal!? Where are the libertarians who claimed Snowden, Manning, & Trayvon Martin coverage was a distraction from urgent political issues? Where are you, since the Windsor & Wiener media fiasco may provide you a rare moment of relevancy?

Rousseff listens to protestors grievances while shooting them down

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff implements neoliberal economic policies enriching the oligarchs & impoverishing millions--policies which include throwing Indigenous peoples off their rural lands, evicting residents of urban slums to make way for gentrification & swanky shopping malls, creating massive homelessness, in particular homelessness for children. Those austerity policies which have been so disastrous on education, health care, & housing directly led to the ongoing protests in hundreds of cities & towns by millions of Brazilians.

But Rousseff tried to pull this economic heist off using her youthful credentials as a socialist & opponent of dictatorship. So when the protests (that she could not control) erupted she said she was proud of the protestors for demanding an end to the plunder at their expense. "These people must be heard,” she said & "My government is listening to the voices calling for change.”

It’s just so hard to understand how she can hear those voices over the sound of gun fire directed by riot police against the protestors. Media report that protests have turned violent. That tends to happen when riot cops show up in battle gear with water cannons & firing rubber bullets, tear gas, & stun grenades. Here they fire rubber bullets at protestors outside the palace where Pope Francis was meeting with Rousseff on Monday. The pope is in Rio to attend World Youth Day, an annual Catholic Church event.

One wonders if Pope Francis, who has pegged himself pope of the poor, will speak out in solidarity with protestors or remain mute in fraternity with the oligarchs like all the other popes. Since the Brazilian government is shelling out $60 million to bankroll the World Youth Day event (essentially subsidizing religion at the expense of Brazilian education) if you’re going to lay odds, history would suggest papal dead silence.

(Photo by Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What stupid looks like

You want to know what stupid looks like? Take a gander at Thomas Friedman, the NY Times columnist who heralds from Minneapolis & the intellectual bowels of US idiocy. He can’t put a coherent sentence together but our boy sure can rant & rave for Zionism. Which is why they promote a guy who can’t think, let alone write to international authority on Islam & Arab politics. He has three Pulitzer Prizes to his name--which means that prize is just as worthless as the Nobel Peace Prize won by war criminals like Henry Kissinger & Barack Obama.

He attended my alma mater (the University of Minnesota) for a few years which explains a lot about his intellectual inadequacies. I went there five years & still can’t recall a single thing I learned. Some people criticize him for using mixed metaphors. I use them myself & don’t see the problem. It’s his idiocies I object to, his incoherence, his stupidity, his racism, the stature he’s achieved for being all of the above.

He’s no dummy when it comes to dough though & married into a billionaires family. So he can talk all the silly-assed crap he likes because when day is done he has that trust fund to rely on. That’s why he’s elevated baloney & bullshit to the stature of intellectual discourse in the NY Times. Read him & weep! Better yet, read him & laugh yourself silly at what passes for intellectual life among Zionists. Don’t bother to throw up; he’s just not worth a heave.

Homeless in Manila

Many may claim that capitalism isn’t all that bad, that it’s got some progressive life left in it, that after all it’s attached to democracy & opposed to tyranny. Well take a look at these little guys sleeping under a bridge in Paranaque City, a section of Manila.

Small boys sleeping on the streets, subject to predation, fearing for their lives--& just blocks away from the Solaire Resort & Casino, a new world class, state-owned resort complex which includes a five-star hotel with 500 rooms, a 1,000 seat grand ballroom, seven restaurants, & a casino with 1,200 slot machines.

Of course, don’t be foolish! State-owned doesn’t mean there’s no private profit involved.  Philippine president Benigno Aquino III is a close personal friend & golf partner to Enrique Razon, Jr. an investor in the entertainment complex who stands to make a bundle since the area is declared a “special economic zone,” which means it is exempt from federal laws regarding taxes, labor laws, & other “restrictive laws” to make it globally competitive. That means Benigno & Enrique are partners in crime. At the expense of these small boys. No further comment necessary.

(Photo by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

Earthquake in China

Way beyond the magnitude of this earthquake there is something majestic: 6.6 on the Richter scale but off the charts in terms of human love in Minxian county, Gansu province, China yesterday.

This man holds his child & in this moment tells us what it is about human life that is so worth fighting for, so dignified, so glorious.

(Photo by Stringer/Reuters)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ralp Nader: On the Passing of Helen Thomas

 There will never be another Helen Thomas. She shattered forever one anti-woman journalistic barrier after another in the Washington press corps and rose to the top of her profession’s organizations. Helen Thomas asked the toughest questions of Presidents and White House press secretaries and over her sixty-two year career took on sexism, racism and ageism. She endured prejudice against her ethnicity — Arab-American — and her breaking the taboo regarding the rights of dispossessed Palestinians. She also made many friends in journalism and spoke to audiences all over the country about the responsibility of journalists to hold politicians responsible with tough, probing, questions that are asked repeatedly until they are either answered or the politician is unmasked as an unaccountable coward. That is the example she set as a journalist and the recurrent theme in her three books.
Read more

New mooch on the way (as if there aren't enough already!)

KKKKaty is in labor & the chorus of sycophants are atip with jubilation. Betty & Cammy are however annoyed no end that this requires some public displays of an affection they don't feel except for colts & fillies at the track--& bookies. My poison pen is poised--which may be a regrettable alliteration but at least it aint groveling.

Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing in Hebron

Hungry children: not just the hallmark of modern capitalism but of Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing. These Palestinian kids are waiting to get food at a soup kitchen in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Since the violent Zionist takeover of Palestine in 1948, jurisdiction over Hebron has jockeyed between Israel, Jordan, & Egypt. After the Six-Day war in 1967, the Israeli military occupied Hebron along with the rest of the West Bank. The 1995 Oslo Accords & 1997 Hebron Agreement split the city into two sectors, H1 controlled by the Palestinian Authority & H2 controlled by Israel--both under Israeli military control.

The Israeli government & Zionist organizations--guided by the deranged notion they have a biblical mandate--promote displacing Palestinian residents with Zionist settlers. Of course that biblical mandate stuff is nothing more than a justification for freebooting & ethnic cleansing. As a result of these policies, the Palestinian population of Hebron has significantly declined due to impoverishment & systematic violence against them.

Several human rights groups, including the Israeli organization B’Tselem, document serious human rights violations by settlers & the Israeli military against Palestinians living in both the H1 & H2 sectors of the city. Violations include harassment, physical assaults, property damage, home demolitions, indiscriminate military firing into Palestinian neighborhoods (with many casualties), failure to investigate or prosecute crimes committed by Zionist settlers against Palestinians, & land confiscations.

For those who claim apartheid is an inflammatory accusation against Israel, Israeli security measures include extended curfews & strict restrictions on movement for Palestinians who are barred from many commercial areas & cannot approach areas where settlers live without special permits from the military. If that isn’t apartheid, what the hell is it!?

Support Palestinian justice by honoring the boycott of Israeli products (barcode beginning 729) & demanding “No US aid to Israel!”

(Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

No US aid to Bahrain! Bring the US Fifth Fleet home!

The media--owned & controlled of course by the oligarchs--have a modus operandi: if we don’t report it, it didn’t happen. That’s why there’s a news blackout on the revolution (after over three years it’s way beyond an uprising) in Bahrain. Has human history ever witnessed any resistance movement quite so intransigent against all odds & such extreme regime violence, with so little recognition?  But then, it cannot be a beacon to suffering humanity if no one knows it’s going on!

Rebellion is a contagious thing (which explains the media silence) but this kind of political tenacity & fury is more than contagious. It’s fatal to the oligarchs. Spurred on even further by the only-God-knows-how-many million Egyptian protestors against the Morsi regime (but estimated up to 30 million) on June 30, the democratic opposition in Bahrain has called for protests on August 14th under the slogan “Bahrain Tamarod” (rebellion in Arabic).

The Bahrain Interior Ministry is issuing warnings against participating in “illegal demonstrations & activities that endanger security” & says they will “deal with any attempt to disturb security & stability.” Good luck with that! They’ve been issuing the same damn warnings since February 2011, backing it up with tear gas & extreme terror, but they still can’t get this revolution to crawl away like a horde of whipped puppies. It keeps coming back with a fury! This young man (led by his mama & her sisters & his sisters) stands defiantly in a miasma of tear gas in the village of Diraz, just west of Manama, the capital city. His defiant stance may be a symbol of this most extraordinary & historic struggle but photos of hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis protesting despite threats & repression truly is a beacon to suffering humanity.

The problems the Bahrain revolution against tyranny faces are immense--not least of which is the presence of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet & vicious military & police advisors from both the US & UK. So we need to stand with them in international mutiny against the media blackout & by declaring our fullest respect & solidarity & unmitigated awe at their revolutionary & emancipatory spirit. Their victory is our victory! No US aid to Bahrain!

(Photo by Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters)

RIP Helen Thomas

Juror B37

The identity of Zimmerman juror B37 has now been revealed.

The rabid heritage of Rabbi Kook

The caption on this photo says: “A Palestinian woman throws stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes at a protest against the Jewish settlement of Qadomem.” If you didn’t know Zionist settlers were expanding Qadomem by expropriating Palestinian lands you would think Palestinian mothers as lawless as their children are portrayed by media.

Qadomem (or Kedumim) was settled in 1975 by the Gush Emunim settlement movement. Gush Emunim, which combined rabid Zionism with religious fanaticism, was founded by the appropriately named Rabbi Tzvi Kook. It existed from the mid-1970s until 1984 under the patronage of the most right-wing political forces in Israel & engaged in terrorist attacks on Palestinians, including car bomb attacks. While Gush Emunim no longer exists as an organization, Qadomem is still run by these religious & political nut cases who hold a deranged (some would call it messianic) commitment to taking over Palestinian lands on the belief God gave it to the Jewish people & they are fulfilling a biblical prophecy by taking back the land they call Judaea & Samaria.

Under international law all settlements on the West Bank are illegal but under Israeli lawlessness a distinction is made between legal settlements authorized by the Israeli government (as Qadomem is considered) & illegal outposts or expansions built after 1991. The legal distinction in Israeli law is flouted in actual practice by Zionist settlers & the Israeli military protecting them. If the Israeli government takes any ritual steps (for benefit of foreign media) to dismantle new construction or obstruct expansions in the West Bank, the settlers use a tactic called the “price tag policy” which exacts revenge not on the Israeli army but on local Palestinians--including vandalism of Palestinian property, physical attacks on Palestinians, burning of mosques & fields, uprooting of olive trees, damaging & defacing property.

The fearless spirit of this Palestinian woman is the same as that of Palestinian kids standing with rocks & slingshots against army bulldozers. It’s the spirit of intifada & resistance to ethnic cleansing. Honor the boycott of Israeli products (barcode beginning 729) as a way to support Palestinians in their struggle.

(Photo by Alaa Badarneh/EPA)

Friday, July 19, 2013

No US aid to the Congo!

It isn’t possible to understand what’s happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the scanty & episodic media reports. A nearly 20-year conflict comparable in carnage to the two World Wars & it never makes the nightly news! Ten million people killed since 1996, millions of women raped as a weapon of war, millions of refugees displaced, made homeless, made orphans without a coherent narrative not sodden with white supremacy & the usual quotient of deceits.

Most of the infrequent news accounts are about unidentified militias & rogue soldiers fighting the Congolese army & UN “Peacekeepers.” We are told the conflict has to do with control over mining the immense mineral resources in the Congo (gold, cobalt, diamonds, copper). They leave out however the essential component that would make the narrative add up: the central role of multinationals who are plundering the country for its immense resources--especially Canada & the US, but also South Africa, UK, Australia, Japan, Switzerland, China. Canada alone has over 28 mining companies in the Congo. The militias, mercenaries, & military of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda are fighting for these companies & for spheres of influence. It isn’t “tribal” conflicts between irrational black Africans but a barbaric, violent, unsparing conflict driven by western corporate plunder & greed. It’s about blood diamonds, blood gold, & the blood minerals in our cell phones, computers, & play stations & it’s called colonialism & imperialism.

US law prohibits military financing, training, & other assistance to governments using child soldiers but Obama repeatedly issues waivers allowing the Congolese military to receive aid despite their forcible & violent conscription of thousands of boys & girls under 15-years old. He defends his waivers claiming it is a matter of US national interest--by which of course he means corporate interests plundering the Congo. (The more you know about Obama, the more his name is synonymous with abomination.)

This crying child is one of 66,000 Congolese refugees who crossed into Uganda just since last week to escape resurgent fighting between the Congo army & a paramilitary group named Allied Democratic Forces (a group with unverifiable politics).

No US aid to the Congo! US out of Africa! We stand with the people of the Congo in their fight against corporate plunder.

(Photo by James Akena/Reuters)

May our little brother RIP & may we continue to fight like hell

Trayvon Martin’s parents are speaking now, grief etched not just in their faces but in their very posture. It will take years before life is no longer a living hell for them. Losing a child is a special kind of hell but there are different support groups for those who lose beloved children to murder (or suicide) because the emotional dynamic is so complex & different from losing a child to illness.

Just as the chorus of libertarian half-wits emerges (on social media & twitter) denouncing the thunderous opposition to the Zimmerman verdict as a distraction from Syria, the NDAA, the NSA, & other political issues, Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin remind us of the nature of this crime: a teenage boy, still young enough to be sucking children’s candy & barely old enough to drive, was hunted down by a grown man (nearly twice his age) with a loaded gun, shot down, & then found guilty in a US court of law & in the media for his own murder. And the libertarians think public outrage is a distraction!? That’s because they are ignorant of or indifferent to the hundreds of Black youth shot down by police violence or because they think racism in political life inconsequential.

Trayvon Martin was just a boy on a candy run who must have been very scared to see an armed & hateful lug stalking after him. The outrage & the grief & the protests in solidarity with him are not distractions but express all that is best & all that is hopeful in this country.

May our little brother RIP--& may we continue to put the murder of Black youth at the very heart of US politics--where it belongs.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Haaretz’s Gideon Levy endorses boycott of Israel

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
In his op-ed in Haaretz on Sunday, columnist Gideon Levy openly endorses a boycott of Israel as the “Israeli patriot’s final refuge.” He argues that it is in fact those who fear for Israel’s future that should reach the conclusion that it must be economically boycotted. He says that it is the “least of all evils” and that there is no other alternative left because:
The change won’t come from within. That has been clear for a long time. As long as Israelis don’t pay a price for the occupation, or at least don’t make the connection between cause and effect, they have no incentive to bring it to an end. And why should the average resident of Tel Aviv be bothered by what is happening in the West Bank city of Jenin or Rafah in the Gaza Strip? Those places are far away and not particularly interesting. As long as the arrogance and self-victimization continue among the Chosen People, the most chosen in the world, always the only victim, the world’s explicit stance won’t change a thing.

Bahrain, kingdom of Kafka: The absurd rules that suppress civil society activity

Brian Whitaker
 The right of people to get together and organise themselves in pursuit of shared interests is one of the building blocks for a free and open society. It is also something that Arab regimes fear, since active citizenship undermines their authority.
Consequently, many of them have introduced laws creating arbitrary powers to restrict, control and otherwise manipulate the activities of civil society organisations.
Among Arab countries, association laws (as they are usually known) follow a general pattern that seems inspired more by the novels of Franz Kafka than sound principles of governance.
First, they require clubs, societies and other non-government organisations to register with the authorities while making it difficult, and in some cases almost impossible, for them to do so.
Organisations that succeed in registering then face a host of bureaucratic and mostly pointless rules for how they should conduct their affairs. These basically create an obstacle course to trip up the unwary and often also impose restrictions on fundraising.

Bring on the boycott

The world is starting to show its contempt for the post-Zionist right in Israel. Judgment Day has come.

Protesters burn goods manufactured in West Bank settlements
Protesters burn goods manufactured in West Bank settlements
 "But the most interesting strategy is hitting Israelis in their wallets. There is something degrading about it because it means that high-minded ideology, hollow values and pretty words aren’t doing the job. But I also suspect that it is the most effective means of them all. Certainly, it is the fastest. When the American administration of George Bush Sr. threatened to revoke Israel’s loan guarantees for integrating the large wave of immigrants reaching the country in the early ‘90s, even the hawkish Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was pushed toward the unprecedented recognition of the Palestinian people and the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 that laid the groundwork for the Oslo Accords."

EU's decision on Israel like 'a bucket of cold water on the head of a drunk'

The Guardian:
The European Union has at last lost patience with Israel's refusal to comply with international law over settlements
"Now it looks as if the EU has finally lost patience with Israel. As Akiva Eldar, veteran Israeli journalist and writer for Al-Monitor, says: "The Israeli government didn't take the Europeans too seriously and crossed over from just ignoring them to humiliating them. The EU looked at the current cabinet and thought, 'Hey, that isn't rain: they are spitting on us.'"

Israel's crash into the diplomatic iceberg

"A combination of arrogance, complacency and moral stupor caused Israelis to continue to dance on the deck even as their ship was cruising straight into an iceberg. The skipper didn’t swerve in time. Nor did the passengers demand that he swerve in time."

Forget 'Startup Nation,' Israel's brand identity is occupation

Israel's efforts to market itself as a gay-friendly, villa-in-the-jungle, startup nation cannot blot out the occupation, BDS or the crushing symbolic force of the EU guidelines.
Palestinian protesters in front of Israeli soldiers during a weekly demonstration 
Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions, BDS, is already working. Not to devastate Israel’s economy – that’s still a remote prospect – but to do something just as effective: Destroy its global standing.
Israel wants its international brand to be that of the startup nation, but however hard it promotes the gay-friendly villa-in-the-jungle cliché, all its achievements in the field of innovation are not enough to blot out the occupation.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The plot sickens on Florida justice

So the plot sickens on Florida justice with chock-a-block exposes of just how stinking rotten that system is. Turns out Florida state attorney Angela Corey, the Zimmerman prosecutor, was also the prosecutor of Marissa Alexander, the Black woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into a wall to ward off assault by her violent husband.

Mark Geragos, the famed criminal defense attorney who is probably one of the few white legal experts commentating with any insight at all, has already accused Corey & the other state prosecutor of throwing the Zimmerman case. He now states the prosecutorial misconduct of Corey on both cases should get her disbarred. But why stop there!? Why not stand our ground & prosecute her & send her up the river with hard time!?

The sorriest part of all this is her impunity for these crimes; she’ll walk her ass away scot-free. “Life is not fair” is a mantra to console the wretched of the earth by the more privileged but for those on the short of the stick it’s always been more an inspiration to rebellion.

Spare us your intellectual Disneylands

Rami Khouri (The Daily Star)
"The most offensive aspect of so much of the international, especially American, commentary on Egypt is its absolutist nature that assumes three things that I believe are wrong assumptions: That current events in a short span of time will define Egypt for many years; that the people of Egypt essentially only face two choices, namely the Muslim Brotherhood or the armed forces; and that loyalists of both parties will clash and one of them will win, with no space in between for subtleties or nuances or groups of citizens engaging each other to craft a new political culture that is neither absolutist nor autocratic."

In photos: Palestinian workers’ everyday nightmare at Israeli checkpoints

The Eyal terminal at the city of Qalqiliya is one of forty fixed checkpoints located along the boundary between the occupied West Bank and Israel. The terminals are part of an elaborate system of physical and administrative obstacles that Palestinians must navigate in order to enter Israel to work. Every Sunday thousands arrive to the terminal before sunrise to begin their workweek; for many it’s the start of a 12-plus hour day which will begin and end at the same metal turnstile.
Eyal checkpoint was opened in 2004 after the completion of Israel’s wall that completely surrounds the city of Qalqiliya. The economic effects of Israeli movement restrictions on Palestinians in this region have been particularly acute, requiring many men and women to make the tortuous journey to Israel for work. These pictures were taken between 3:45am and 7am on 11 May 2013 and underline both the dehumanizing nature of the occupation and the resolve of the Palestinian people who face these hardships every day.
Text and captions by Sam Gilbert. (Electronic Intifada)