Bree Newsome takes direct action to remove ugly-assed Confederate flag

Bree Newsome (Adam Anderson:Reuters) June 28 2015

Bree Newsome, a Black Lives Matter activist from North Carolina, scaled the 30-foot flag pole in front of the South Carolina state capital building yesterday & removed the Confederate flag.

She & James Tyson, her accomplice in this magnificent act of defiance, were both arrested & the flag was re-hoisted. Under South Carolina law it has rights after all. To assuage activists demanding the damn thing be removed after the murder of nine worshippers last week, state officials called for its removal but that proposal must be approved by two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the South Carolina legislature, a confederacy of dunces.…/bree-newsome-takes-down-the-confederate-f…

(Photo by Adam Anderson/Reuters)

Solidarity with Bangladeshi ship yard workers

Bangladeshi ship yard workers (Mike Hettwer) June 27 2015

This photo of Bangladeshi ship breakers is from a May 2014 pictorial in National Geographic magazine. The caption read “Oblivious to the risk of lung cancer, workers fend off the nighttime chill by burning a pipe gasket likely containing asbestos.” Now there they go again–assuming working people are stupid. If that were so, they wouldn’t have to employ such violent repression against them. They wouldn’t have to stack the courts & laws against organizing unions for self-protection. They wouldn’t have to torture & kill idealistic & inspired union organizers, as they do.

It’s more likely these young workers know from decades of injury, occupational illness, death exactly what’s gonna kill them but they feel they have no recourse right now. South Asia is the ship breaking capital of the world. It’s where Europe sends its old ships for demolition because labor costs are dirt cheap. It’s another rendition of sweatshop economics.

The US labor movement has the resources to show some solidarity & strengthen union organizing in the ship yards & sweatshops of Bangladesh but they have their heads stuck up the asses of the CIA & US State Department & play a pernicious role instead.

Transforming the US labor movement, which is now fund raising from the likes of George Soros, is fundamental to strengthening the labor movement in Bangladesh & elsewhere–or at least getting a noose off their necks. If you want to know what Soros does to unionism, take a look at what he’s done to unions in Zimbabwe & immigration rights groups in the US. It’ll make your hair stand on end.

Our fullest solidarity & respect for our brothers in the ship yards of Bangladesh.

(Photo by Mike Hettwer)

Bangladesh child ship breakers (Mike Hettwer) June 2015

If eyes are the window to the soul, you are looking into the abyss of human suffering felt by children without hopes or dreams. These small boys are workers in a Dhaka, Bangladesh ship yard. Bangladesh has long been the leading country in the ship breaking industry (since 1964). Ship demolition is extremely dangerous work with a high profit margin because Bangladesh is designated one of the worst in the world for workers’ rights–& today, that’s saying a mouthful.

Workers, including children as young as four or five, work around asbestos, lead, cadmium, arsenic, & other toxic chemicals (which workers remove with their bare hands), diesel & other fuels, & in blistering hot, noisy, stinking conditions with little formal training & no safety equipment. The ship yards are notorious for the high number of workers injured (including amputations) or who die in gruesome ways, including from blowtorches they use & explosions.

They have no access to emergency services for an accident; no compensation if injured or disabled on the job; work at less than minimum wages with no overtime, sick, or vacation pay; & have no right to form a union.

There are many terrestrial & marine environmental problems created when dismantling ships but the health problems for unprotected workers are an entire catalog of horrors: heavy metal poisoning, cancer of the skin, intestine, kidney, liver or bladder; asbestosis; mesothelioma; disruption of the hormonal system; an entire range of respiratory, skin, & eye problems (including blindness). And lots of children are working under these conditions! The average life span is 40 years old. It doesn’t get more barbaric than that.

One media report showing workers suspended precariously off a ship said “Frequently without goggles, risking serious injury or blindness, workers climb tall rope ladders to the ships’ highest points, risking death if they slip, yet they keep working, enjoying building the ships.” Such rubbish could only be written by someone who’s never worked a day of hard labor in his life. It’s the old “Whistling while they work” routine from Disney movies which hasn’t a damn thing to do with the lives of these men & boys.

These little guys have a right to dreams–including one for having a long healthy, happy life. If this ain’t barbarism, then what is it? Meanwhile the number of billionaires in Bangladesh tripled in the past few years, according to the central bank.

Our fullest solidarity with the workers of Bangladesh. May they rise up & kick ass!

(Photo by Mile Hettwer)

Vote for Scully and Bach, independent socialist candidates

A recent Gallup poll found that US voters are quite ecumenical about who they’ll vote for. Nine in 10 say they would vote for a qualified presidential candidate who is Catholic, a woman, Black, Latino or Jewish. A high percentage say they’d vote for a Mormon, gay person, evangelical Christian, Muslim, or atheist. But the headline read, socialist presidential candidates are the “least appealing” to US voters.

In fact, socialist presidential candidates are so little appealing that only 47 percent of Americans say they’d vote for one. And that’s bad news!? That’s millions more than the number of people who elected Obama & got a bum rap in the deal. We could say things are looking good for socialists.

Vote Mary Scully & Alice Bach

The quality of barbarism is not strained

Tsipras, Merkel & Italian guy (Geert Vanden Wijngaert:AP) June 26 2015

We trust Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras understands the quality of neoliberal mercy is not strained by conviviality. When EU politicians whoop it up with you & put their arms around your neck, it’s more akin to a noose than a gesture of solidarity which they’re incapable of feeling.

Greece & its “creditors” are engaged in negotiations for more euros to save the country from bankruptcy. The only way to save Greece from continuing crises is not to bargain with bankers & creditors but to mobilize Greek working people & give the old heave-ho to the EU & IMF.

The two noose-bearers here with Tsipras are the Italian PM Matteo Renzi & German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

The Jewish-only state and African refugees

Eritrean refugee in Israel (Baz Ratner:Reuters) June 26 2015

This woman is an Eritrean refugee protesting outside the meeting of a European Union (EU) delegation near Tel Aviv, Israel. (Apparently the EU doesn’t honor the boycott of Israeli apartheid though it could just as well have met in Belgium.) The media caption said “Eritrean migrants living in Israel” were calling on the EU to act on the recent 500-page UN report citing the Eritrean government for systematic use of extrajudicial killing, torture, rape, indefinite national service & forced labor. She is demonstrating a torture technique used in Eritrea.

Actually, there are an estimated 45,000 Eritreans & Sudanese who sought political sanctuary in Israel while others flee across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. The UN report said countries should provide refuge to Eritreans & establish procedures for incorporating them into society. Is Israel as a Jewish-only state exempted from UN guidelines & ancient human practices of sanctuary? Does Zionist exceptionalism allow Israel to continue jailing Eritreans & other African refugees & deporting them to Uganda & Rwanda to elude accusations of barbaric immigration policies? These are the sarcasms of Israeli immigration policy which continues to recruit Jews from around the world for aliyah & resettlement but denies refuge to those fleeing war & persecution.

Immigration is a human right & Israel is no exception. Open the borders! Stop deporting refugees!

Build the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS)!

(Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters)

Refugee camp in France called the “jungle”?

Calais refugee camp ( Michel Spingler:AP) June 26 2015

The Guardian-UK, that bastion of progressive media, posted this photo of a camp set up by immigrants in Calais, France where they’re gathering to make their way without papers through the Channel Tunnel to Britain. The caption read: “Migrants walk past a shelter at a makeshift camp known as the jungle.” Known by whom as the jungle? Certainly not the immigrants.

One stands aghast at the primitive social Darwinism of the Guardian. If they’re going to resurrect jungle as a metaphor for savage & subhuman, let’s take a look at the officials of neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. Let’s take a look at the US government & its savage wars; at the European Union (EU) letting thousands of refugees drown in the sea & leaving thousands of Rohingya drifting in death ships without sending aid; at Israel bombing Gaza into smithereens; at the EU & IMF trying to bleed the people of Greece to make an interest payment on a loan. Now we’re talking savage!

We apologize to our brothers & sisters for the primitive idiocy & ugliness of our so-called leaders. We welcome you in the hopes you can join us & kick their asses from here to Kingdom Come.

(Photo by Michel Spingler/AP)

Lindsey Graham: they don’t come dumber

Lindsey Graham (AP:Bill clark) June 25 2015

Lindsey Graham, the US senator from South Carolina, usually looks like he’s half in the wrapper & when he opens his mouth to speak he emits sounds more often smothered in the nether regions–& just as unseemly. But even if he hung off the sauce our man is a loser in the battle of wits & proof-positive that racism makes you stupid.

Last week he claimed the murder of nine Black worshippers was an attack on Christianity. Yesterday in a speech about the massacre on the Senate floor where the chamber is usually half-asleep, he said, “That’s Mideast hate. That’s something I didn’t think we had here but apparently we do.”

Media says he’s known for his bluntness. Actually he’s known for his idiocies. At an AIPAC meeting last month he said “everything that starts with ‘al’ in the Middle East is bad news,” referring to the Arabic word for “the.”

Boneheads like Graham show the power of wealth & privilege in US politics because on a fast food job, he’d be the guy scraping swill.

(Photo of Graham by Bill Clark/AP)

Will Southern Poverty Law Center answer questions about its relationship to Shurat HaDin, the Mossad law firm?

Am I the only progressive who considers the “hate crime” designation ambiguous & deeply problematic? Surely I’m not the only one who thinks that before the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) starts raising money around Charleston it has some questions to answer about its association with Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a Zionist zealot & the Israeli who founded Shurat HaDin law center which recently won a case against the Palestinian Authority in a NYC court.

Shurat HaDin has connections to the Israeli government & engages in what they call “lawfare,” bringing suits on behalf of ‘terror victims’ against “Islamic & Arab groups engaged in terror attacks”–that is, Palestinian groups, their political leaders, & who they consider the financial patrons. There are reports they are preparing legal actions against BDS groups.

One disturbing fact is Darshan-Leitner’s admission in an interview that she was schooled personally by the SPLC. This is not the first time the SPLC has been accused of facilitating Zionist projects. They have been criticized publicly for identifying antisemitism with anti-Zionism & have not refuted that criticism.

Shurat HaDin models its strategy on the SPLC strategy of bankrupting who they define as hate groups, like the KKK. But the question is, what gives SPLC the authority to define who is a hate group if they cannot distinguish between antisemitism & anti-Zionism? If their commitment is to Israel, will they eventually place BDS groups on their hate list? And if Shurat HaDin can file suit in US courts against Palestinian groups, will SPLC file suit in Israel against systemic racism & violence against Ethiopian Israelis & the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians?

Zionism integrated into neoliberal barbarism

Gaza children (- Wissam Nassar:Xinhua Press:Corbis) June 24 2015

The Boycott, Divestment, & Sanction movement (BDS) called by Palestinian groups against Israel has played an indispensable role in educating about the conflict & building Palestinian solidarity. But who could have imagined how BDS would expose the fault lines of neoliberalism & the deep connections of Zionism to neoliberalism?

That political connection is not just an affinity, but a political interpenetration going back to the inception of Zionism (in the 19th century). A movement emerged to oppose pogroms & persecution of Jews but it was based on supremacist views & it collaborated with & adopted the political methods of colonial powers like England. The die was cast; there was nowhere to go politically that could overcome such corrupt origins.

It’s disheartening to see the role Zionists play in anti-immigration, eugenics programs, even in feminism where they are pro-militarist for Islamophobic reasons. It’s not because all Zionists are inherently reactionary. It’s the deadly combination of supremacy, elitism, & the quid pro quo of the original Mephistophelean bargain that ties it into the very functioning of neoliberal politics.

The growth of BDS on campuses around the world has exposed the nexus between Zionism & neoliberalism. There are increasing attempts, most notably in Australia, the UK, Canada, & US, to brand & outlaw BDS activities & criticisms of Israel as antisemitism. There are also legislative initiatives in several US states. The most prominent campus initiative now is from Janet Napolitano, formerly US Secretary of Homeland Security & now president of the University of California system. She is campaigning for the UC system to adopt the US State Department’s definition of antisemitism which includes criticism of Israel. The campaign has gone on for a few years now since Zionist groups appear to be targeting the UC system to test out their strategy of criminalizing any criticism of Israel.

The State Department’s definition is cribbed almost wholesale from a definition cooked up in 2005 by Zionist ideologues for the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the European Union (EU). It’s not an official EU definition though Israel & its supporters tout it as such. It includes “demonizing,” “delegitimizing,” & “applying a double-standard to the state of Israel.” It’s a complete affront to the Bill of Rights & freedom of speech. We can criticize our own government but if we sneeze in the direction of Israel, we’re cooked & will be penalized in some unspecified way!? But of course, once criticizing Israel is outlawed, all criticism of the US will be outlawed right after.

As ludicrous as it is, it is also a serious political attack, not just on BDS & Palestinian solidarity, but on civil liberties. We have to ask why criticizing & exposing Israeli apartheid is so pivotal in world politics? And we can eliminate any concern for the welfare of Jews in the considerations. The regimes pushing this stuff don’t care any more about Jews than they do about the African & Middle Eastern refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea or the Rohingya adrift & starving in the Andaman Sea.

Israel serves a purpose in international politics. It’s a military fortress in the Middle East to maintain US & European control. It functions like the repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, & Bahrain & the military junta in Egypt–as bulwarks against democracy. The US can militarize Israel up to its eyeballs but that is not security for Jews; it’s a death trap, as anti-Zionist opponents of Israel have always warned.

That’s what makes the Palestinian struggle so historic, so momentous, so vital to win. Their struggle represents the forces for democracy in the Middle East. That’s what makes BDS so important for them to defeat. When Obama chides Netanyahu or when Netanyahu gets lippy with Obama, it doesn’t represent a new strategic orientation of the US. Netanyahu knows damn well the US will not pull the plug on military equipment because Israel is pivotal to neoliberal prospects in the region.

These are Palestinian children in Gaza City playing in the rubble of buildings destroyed in Operation Ethnic Cleansing last summer. The US supplied the weapons to destroy Gaza, it is part of making sure Gaza is not rebuilt, it is a party to Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing because Israel serves its economic & political interests.

When the US & other regimes tie BDS to civil liberties, they expose a neoliberal fault line. There’s no reason in the world to panic. But there is every reason to commit ourselves to building BDS & to educating & broadening support for Palestinians.

(Photo by Wissam Nassar/Xinhua Press/Corbis)