Monstrous crimes against undocumented immigrants from Africa to Europe

Rescuan immigrants ( REUTERS:Antonio Parrinello ) Feb 16 2015

Monstrous crimes are being committed against millions of undocumented immigrants around the world, crimes so barbarous that those responsible need to be prosecuted & exiled to some remote island & denied contact with animal or human civilization. Nothing could be more horrific than the treatment immigrants from Africa, Syria, Palestine, & elsewhere receive trying to enter Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. In the past two decades, a staggering estimate of 25,000 African immigrants have drowned trying to cross. If we want to know the weight racism carries in immigration policy, that estimate alone speaks volumes of condemnation.

They enter from different routes up & down the north African coast, mostly traveling in rafts & overcrowded boats, hoping to get a toehold in Europe. There are women, infants & children, elderly, not just young men. The trauma they endure must create massive PTSD, life-long psychological loss & grief. But that means nothing to the European Union & its component regimes who employ the most expensive & up-to-date surveillance equipment in the world to keep them out.

Many of these drownings are mass in just one crossing: 365, 700, 500, 200 people die in one incident & this horror goes on year after year. Several days ago 330 people drowned trying to get to the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Tunisia where there is a refugee processing center. Media explains this atrocity by the conflict between Italy & the European Union over who is responsible for search & rescue. Of course, if human life was the primary concern both would have fleets out there & they’d have ferries transporting immigrants with dignity.

Another scapegoat alibi is blaming “human traffickers,” those who help immigrants cross. There’s no question some are predatory & in it for the dough, but many are former immigrants providing a service. The occupation wouldn’t even exist if the human rights of immigrants were honored by opening up the damn borders.

Perhaps one of the most ignominious crimes was on February 9th, when 29 immigrants died from hypothermia after being picked up by an Italian coast guard vessel from an inflatable boat that went adrift. Hypothermia is a gruesome, terrifying way to die. They had spent 18 hours on the decks of the boat taking them to Lampedusa in rough seas & high winds. Is the Italian coast guard that stupid & inept or is it more likely executing EU immigration policy with a criminal reckless disregard for human life?

Working people have a vested interest in defending the human rights of immigrants & demanding the borders be opened up. Racism compounds the crimes against African immigrants but as we know from the IMF-EU austerity programs, especially in the poorer European countries ringing the Mediterranean, they hold European workers in no more esteem than they do immigrants. We need to choose our allies wisely. We need to oppose those criminal regimes & stand with immigrants as brothers & sisters. Period.

Take a look at these young men rescued from the same boats where the 330 died & 29 froze to death. Horror is written in every single one of those faces. Justice demands we respond by saying, Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders! Down with Fortress Europe! And let’s start looking for a suitable island where the criminally insane who run this world can contemplate their crimes against humanity for all eternity.

(Photo by Antonio Parrinello/Reuters)

Women have the right to control their own bodies, even poor women, whether racists like it or not

For the first time in my life I’ve received a fund appeal from an outright eugenics organization named Pathfinder International. Like all those creepy racist groups, they pose as defenders & providers of birth control for women in the plundered countries but most of what they provide is forced sterilization.

They sent me free address stickers to make me feel obliged but I feel more obliged to abuse them for mistaking me for one of them. Any suggestions for how I can deliver the message, “stick your fund appeal where the sun don’t shine.”

Garbled speech redux

A testimony to privilege in US politics is that a third Bush is running for president. Never has the English language been so mangled as by the first two & from an interview it appears the third is just as brain-scrambled. All those high-paid advisers & he still can’t put a coherent sentence together without a teleprompter.

Jewish cemetary desecration in Sarre-Union, France (AFP) Feb 18 2015

This is French president Francois Hollande in Sarre-Union in northeast France, where 300 graves in a Jewish cemetery were vandalized & desecrated. Five adolescents were arrested for the crime. If the kids had Arabic ancestry & weren’t just thuggish, this would be headline news.

After the Charlie Hebdo (CH) incident, considerable fear-mongering has been whipped up in Europe about the rise in antisemitic attacks, with Netanyahu leading the chorus to encourage Jews to flee to Palestine. In fact, the greatest number of assaults after CH are against Muslims, with 147 assaults reported in France alone & mass Muslim-hating rallies in other countries like Germany. In the week following CH, 26 mosques were attacked throughout France with firebombs and/or grenades. Muslim women have been particularly targeted with spitting, things hurled at them on the street, & physical & verbal abuse, including being taunted as “Muslim whore,” & “Muslim bitch.”

Despite sensationalizing & fear-mongering about rising antisemitism & downplaying the rise of Islamophobia, incidents of antisemitic attacks are increasing in Europe & have been for nearly 20 years, with verbal abuse, physical assaults, vandalism & fire bombings of synagogues, schools, & cemeteries.

Zionists, European regimes, & in particular Israel attempt to pin the increasing attacks against Jews on Muslim terrorists. In fact, if you look at the statistics from Europol, the security agency, that vilification doesn’t shake out. According to their annual reports, most of the acts against both Muslims & Jews are carried out by thugs from far-right nationalist groups. The incidence of Muslim so-called “terrorist” attacks is less than one percent of total incidents.
Israel & its Zionist supporters have long attempted to link antisemitism to anti-Zionism, although a growing number of religious & secular Jews are active supporters of Palestine & oppose Zionism as a racist, right-wing, nationalist ideology. It must be said that when Palestinian supporters associate themselves with the likes of David Duke & David Ickes, both ferociously hateful toward Jews, it does not help make that necessary political distinction.

It doesn’t matter how many times Frankie Hollande shows up to showcase an antisemitic incident or ignores the fire bombing of a mosque. He cannot obfuscate the fact that he is conducting vicious racist campaigns against Roma in France & with his right-wing policies has emboldened nationalist thugs to attack Jews & Muslims. Truth of the matter is, the natural allies of Jews being attacked are supporters of Palestine, not vicious war mongers like Hollande, Obama, or Cameron.

The original promise (albeit, a false one) of Zionism was to create a promised land where Jews would be safe from persecution–because Zionists were not willing to stand against the colonialism of European & US regimes that was laying waste to so much of humanity. By adopting rather than repudiating the methods of colonial plunder & expropriation, they have not created a safe haven for Jews in Israel. To protect their promised land gained through racism, terrorism, & colonialism, Israel has to be armed to the teeth & on permanent war footing.

Israel is neoliberalism’s patsy in the Middle East. The US & European regimes don’t give a rat’s ass about protecting Jews from pogroms & persecution. They are using Jews as a battering ram & an outpost to protect their economic & political control of the region. And the ugliest part of all that, is that Israel’s leaders know that full well.

Zionism doesn’t make it easy to stand with Jews against violence but that is what all supporters of justice, especially Palestinian supporters, must do without batting an eyelash of discomfort. We are the ones who stand against tyranny & injustice, xenophobia & every expression of racism & social hatred. We are the ones who stand with our Jewish & Muslim brothers & sisters under attack.

(Photo of Frankie Hollande & others by AFP)

Censorship of Miko Peled ends on Facebook

Thanks to the response of Palestinian supporters & civil libertarians, not just on Facebook but on twitter, & the over 3,500 around the world who signed the petition, Miko Peled’s account has been restored to Facebook. We should tip our hats to those who took the initiative in organizing this campaign.

Miko Peled has too many friends & can’t accept more but you can follow him on Facebook & hear his speeches on YouTube. As the son of an Israeli general in the 1967 war & former Israeli soldier, he brilliantly exposes Zionism, is an uncompromising Palestinian supporter, & promotes the only viable solution of a democratic secular state where Jews can live with Palestinians as brothers & sisters.

The face of child labor

Pakistan child worker (Rahat Dar:EPA) Feb 18 2015

Beautiful image, isn’t it? Except the little guy is a child worker in Lahore. You can see lots of children working as street venders in Mexico, none of them looking anything but miserable. Most photos of child laborers are wrenching images, not endearing like this small boy. American seniors wintering in southern states seem to walk past them without outrage–like they were part of the scenery & not children. Of course there’s no reason for smugness since the US allows small children to work as farm workers.

Child labor is increasing exponentially as neoliberal capitalism continues its decline into barbarism. The patricians running multinational corporations exploiting children as miners, sweatshop workers, farm workers, sex slaves have no scruples because racism is a fundamental component of child labor along with the economic compulsion to drive down the political power of adult labor. Child labor is an intolerable scourge for humanity & must be actively opposed.

In 2012, the lesser evil Obama regime destroyed legislation to protect child farm workers in agribusiness. There are an estimated 800,000 (mostly Mexican) small children working with pesticides, dangerous tools, livestock in the US. Obama made it illegal to ever again attempt to even monitor labor practices for child farm workers.

Many child garment workers lose their lives in factory fires; Many children are crushed & maimed in mining accidents, livestock pens, silos, or are poisoned by chemicals used in mining & agribusiness.

There are images of children garment workers in Bangladesh being beaten by cops while on strike over working conditions. No one could not admire their courage but only predators can argue that children should be on picket lines rather than playgrounds.
Once again, child labor is an intolerable scourge for humanity. Our historic mission is to make this world suitable for children to live & love in.

(Photo by Rahat Dar/EPA)

No reconstruction in Gaza thanks to Israel ethnic cleansing

Gaza homeless child (Majdi Fathi:NurPhoto:Corbis) Feb 17 2015

This Palestinian child peeks out from a makeshift tent at a UN-run school in Gaza where the family lives after losing their house during Israel’s ethnic cleansing binge in Gaza–what the Guardian-UK calls in the caption, “the 2014 conflict between Israel & Hamas.” According to the UN, the 51-day Israeli assault destroyed more than 96,000 homes, leaving 100,000 people homeless & living in unstable cement rubble. And still the UN needs a commission to identify war crimes!

Last October, about 50 countries met at a conference in Cairo & pledged $5.4 billion for reconstruction aid to Gaza. Government representatives must use these aid conferences to get together for poker since, as we know so well from Haiti & Afghanistan, most of the pledges are never delivered.

In addition, the Israeli blockade of Gaza does not allow necessary reconstruction materials & equipment to get past the apartheid barrier. Shouldn’t the UN be screaming bloody murder about that!? Shouldn’t they be accusing Israel of continuing ethnic cleansing by denying food, medical supplies, & rebuilding materials to Gaza? But the UN colluded with Israel & the traitorous Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority by agreeing to give Israel a veto over building projects & supplies going into Gaza.

Israel claims they don’t want building supplies to fall into the hands of Hamas but of course, Hamas is just the all-purpose alibi for ethnic cleansing. Using that alibi, Israel has continued bombing sorties & tank fire against Gaza & just last week warned of a new military onslaught in Gaza.

There will be no massive reconstruction aid to Gaza, anymore than there has been to Haiti or Afghanistan. Israel has no intention of allowing Gaza to rebuild. That is the purpose of the blockade & the purpose of ethnic cleansing. And the UN is as culpable as Israel & the US, which bankrolls Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

Media hasn’t much reported the frequent protests in Gaza demanding reconstruction aid, since so many are homeless in winter. But political groups in Gaza have held several in the past months, with massive numbers demanding an immediate end to the blockade & the delivery of reconstruction aid.

This is where Palestinian solidarity groups play a vital role. We need to build forums, teach-ins, speak-outs, rallies to break the propaganda blockade in media; we need to build the hell out of the economic & cultural boycott of Israel; & we need to demand, “No aid of any kind to Israel!”. Solidarity means nothing if it stays in our heads. You can’t fight Israeli ethnic cleansing with good thoughts. Those many who cannot organize can contribute humanitarian aid for relief to Gaza.

(Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Corbis)

Yet another suspicious slum fire in Panay City, Philippines

PANAY slum fire (Reuters) Feb 17 2015

And yet another slum fire in Manila, Philippines! The fire yesterday was in Pasay City, a southern part of Manila bordering Manila Bay. The suburbs ringing the bay are under a massive redevelopment & gentrification program including business parks, IT & call centers, upscale shopping malls, resorts, sweatshop & free trade zones, & other infrastructure projects designed to attract investment. To facilitate that program, the Filipino regime has changed laws allowing public property to be privatized & requiring the forcible eviction of thousands of slum dwellers, making them homeless.

There are dozens of these slum fires every year in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, Cambodia, & many other countries & they are usually associated with attempts to forcibly evict residents. In the Philippines, slum residents have fought years of legal battles to prevent eviction because public housing & relocation sites are not provided so they would be forced into homelessness. Instead, the Filipino regime has simply sent demolition squads & bulldozers to raze the slums where thousands of people live.

Residents have not gone away obediently & without protest; there have been repeated street battles between residents & riot cops armed with tear gas, water cannons, & bulldozers. So it appears developers have decided arson is the better part of plunder & simply torch the shanty homes to avoid resistance. Officials always give the same explanation for hundreds of slum fires in major cities: a cooking accident, residents pirating power lines, flimsy, flammable building materials, or sometimes “cause unknown”. But there are similar patterns to the fires in every country: fire trucks are delayed in getting to the scene; fire inspectors can’t determine the cause of the conflagrations; many residents give cogent testimony supporting their suspicions the fires were arson; many fires were after mass eviction notices.

There have been hundred of fatalities in the fires, including small children, the elderly, & the disabled still at home while others worked. Many fires take place while people are still sleeping. Every fire leaves thousands homeless. In the Panay City fire which began before dawn, fire officials report four people were burned to death, including a pregnant woman & two children. An estimated 4,500 people were left homeless. Fire officials said the fire was due to flammable building materials but are still investigating the cause; residents alleged arson since the slum was slated for demolition next year. Arson for purposes of redevelopment & gentrification is the most credible explanation.

Housing is a human right & must become a central political demand in every country.

(Photo of fire in Panay City by Reuters)

Sarcasm returns with a vengeance: murderous Egyptian regime denounces gunman in Copenhagen

Egypt just publicly denounced the two shootings in Copenhagen. Just when you think satire might be dead, something comes along to make your head explode, something that makes mockery of tragedy & irony & reduces it all to a mush of obscenity & farce. This latest fiasco is a continuation of that “Je suis” spectacle in Paris led by Netanyahu & other war criminals.

At least Felipe, the giant sponge who calls himself king of Spain, had the smarts to stay home & strut around the palace in a military uniform muttering damnations over Charlie Hebdo rather than show up in Paris marching for free speech when he’s cracking down on it in Spain. General el-Sisi’s regime is made of dumber stuff. Egypt’s Foreign Minister said there are distinctions between true Islam & the ideologies of “terrorist groups, which incite violence & killing.” He said it was important to respect religious symbols out of respect for Muslims but that disrespect does not justify use of violence against others. Who can argue with that!? It’s just that Egypt has murdered hundreds of activists, including massacring hundreds of Muslims when el-Sisi took over in July 2013 & since. Just a few weeks ago, they shot at unarmed protesters, murdering Shaimaa Sabagh. Hundreds have been jailed, tortured, disappeared. So where’s all the respect!?

Has the Egyptian regime expressed outrage over dozens of assaults & arsons against Muslims all over Europe & the US–like the shooting of the three young people in Chapel Hill last week? But it really wouldn’t matter if they did or didn’t because they’re shooting Muslim activists right & left in Egypt. Whatever they say would be more akin to flatulence.

According to latest reports, there is yet no certainty about the gunmen’s motives in Copenhagen. So why would Egypt jump to conclusions before all the forensics are in? A regime that runs kangaroo courts for dissidents doesn’t require evidence before it starts shooting. Why would it need evidence to start condemning?