The Ebola epidemic is not a libertarian “distraction”

Esther Tokpah (Michel du Cille:The Wash. Post) Dec 10 2014

There’s an obnoxious meme circulating on Facebook: “Ebola just up & vanished & you can’t wonder what they were distracting you from.” With just a little effort the paranoia behind this meme would be dispelled by googling the CDC site where up-to-date figures on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa are posted. As of a few weeks ago there were nearly 18,000 cases & 6,500 deaths in the ongoing epidemic. The disappearance is only from front page media.

The epidemic is not some kind of libertarian distraction; it is a catastrophe for the people of those countries who are losing beloved family members, especially those being orphaned. To speak so frivolously of such horrific human suffering is shameful. Remember this little girl? This is 11-year-old Esther Tokpah from Monrovia, Liberia, who lost both parents to Ebola. She’s not front page but she is a person, not a distraction from more important political events.

(Photo be Michel du Cille/The Washington Post)

Black women are also victims of killer cops

Finally the police murder of Black women is erupting in the news–not as an adjunct or “ladies auxiliary” to the US war on Black youth but integral to it. Many would attribute the omission to male supremacy & that element cannot be denied. But the more likely cause is complete ignorance of police brutality in the Black community which has gone on unabated for decades now. There have been several more police murders of Black teens since Michael Brown was shot & most would be unable to cite their names or the circumstances of their deaths.

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, & Eric Garner turned the media narrative upside down. The fight-back in Ferguson put police brutality in the spotlight but previously most people were indoctrinated with the story that Black youth were feral, lawless, drug peddlers. That narrative is shredded but the history of the war on the Black community remains unknown. Part of building the new civil rights & Black power movement will be educating ourselves & others about the scope of police brutality in this country. That means getting to know the names of those hundreds of young men & women who died so brutally & honoring them by building solidarity.

This report entitled “Operation Ghetto Storm” is a useful source of information:

First of 43 disappeared student teachers in Mexico found burned to death

A. Mora (Reuters) Dec 14 2014

We should take a moment to honor the life of 19-year-old Alexander Mora, one of the 43 student teachers disappeared in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. His charred remains found last Sunday near a garbage dump have been identified by DNA testing.

Alexander was one of 8 Mora children from the small town of El Pericon, Guerrero. He helped his family work the fields but according to his father Ezequiel, his dream was to become a sports teacher & so he became the only one to leave their town to attend teacher college. His sister Edith said “”My brother was killed like an animal, but he was an innocent boy who knew nothing about life.” Unfortunately he knew enough to take a stand against injustice & that was his death sentence.

Protests continue demanding the recovery of the other 42 students. Families of those still disappeared reject the government’s scenario of what happened because it still can’t provide a consistent one. Mexican tyranny has been operating with impunity for a long time. It’s not accustomed to making an accounting & certainly not to telling the truth.

We honor our young brother Alexander; may he RIP. May international outrage over his gruesome murder continue to fuel solidarity & demand justice for his death.

(Photo by Reuters)

Malala Yousafzai and the war-makers

“Why is it that countries which we call strong are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace? Why is it that giving guns is so easy, but giving books is so hard?”

This is from the Nobel peace prize acceptance speech of Malala Yousafzai. While we do not agree with the Guardian-UK that this is “a searing attack” on the bellicose regimes, the subjects of her criticism must have winced at her selection for this loathsome honorific. Who indeed could she be speaking of but the US, UK, other NATO nations, & Israel? She certainly wasn’t referring to Cuba that sends doctors to fight epidemics, unlike the US & UK that send troops or Israel shamed into some supplies.

Young Malala didn’t deserve this prize because it puts her in the company of monsters like Kissinger & an entire roster of war criminals including Barack Obama. Let’s hope she takes the money & runs, that she charts an independent course from the handlers grooming her to serve power & not justice, & that she truly becomes an outspoken opponent of wars.

“Searing” criticisms are when you name names, denounce in detail & not just abstractly, & dissociate from creeps like Modi of India, Obama of the US, & other dignitaries of neoliberal decay. We look forward to that development in young Malala & think she’s got it in her. Every indication is that her spirit is stronger than the blandishments offered to corrupt her. Many people are just not for sale.

“We will be back!”

HONG KONG (2) Dec 13 2014

In the past several days police have been forcibly evicting democracy protesters from the encampments they’ve held for over two months in the financial & commercial districts of Hong Kong. Cops brought in wrecking crews to dismantle the barricades & arrested any who resisted. This is the Admiralty district where financial institutions are located.

In one area of Admiralty protesters left graffiti saying “We are dreamers.” Here they left the inscription “We will be back.” And those inscriptions can pretty much stand as metaphors for all the massive social upheavals across the world in the past several years. The conclusion not to draw is that these social struggles have been decisively defeated for all time & so were never worth fighting in the first place. The most apt word to use here is that social transformation is a dialectical process, a complex dynamic where there are routs, retreats, crushing defeats, even massacres. Egypt surely stands as the worst of all that. And still activists publicly defy the military regime. And still in all these places rebellion against tyranny, whilst silenced, continues to seethe at the most profound levels because the unbearable conflicts of neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, are not mediated by repression.

Cynicism, & lord knows, misanthropy have no place in social transformation because they lead in the wrong direction–from defiance against tyranny to the line of least resistance, sucking down beers in front of a TV watching sitcoms. This is why the Palestinians are so important. For 66 years “We are dreamers” & “We will be back” has been written all over their struggle. Now as Palestinian solidarity crescendoes around the world to forge a mass movement so too does the eruption of mass opposition to racist tyranny in the US. Racism is the common denominator of those struggles & one of the most oppressive forces in the world today. The potential of Palestinian & Black power to change the balance of neoliberal terror cannot be overestimated. Moving those struggles forward will resonate among others forced to retreat from battle & give them new energy, new sources of hope & courage. That solidarity thing is a mighty potent force.

“We will be back!” Such a simple declaration of defiance so promising for the human race. “We are dreamers!” The clarion call of all who work to make this world suitable for human beings to live & love in.

(Photo of Admiralty district, Hong Kong by Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Using Google Glasses to document injustices

Here’s a useful tip from an electronic-savvy Black activist I met today at the “Stop Police Brutality” rally. He said to minimize problems of “driving while Black” he wears Google Glasses, which I had never heard of. He said they transmit video directly to his electronic devices, including YouTube.

“Minimize” would be the operative verb since as we know from Eric Garner, indisputable evidence of a police crime against a Black person may not hold up in court. Such is the state of US justice. But it doesn’t hurt to gather evidence anyway because the movements for social justice can find a way to use the truth.

So much for that “peacekeeping” crap: UN troops fire on Haitian protesters

UN troops in Haiti Dec 13 2014

The MoveOn petition to deploy UN troops to Palestine is such an affront  for sheer recklessness in putting Palestinians in harm’s way–& not just recklessness but temerity since Palestinians have not requested such an intervention.They already have an occupying army.

Did people miss Ban Ki-moon’s collusion with Israel in Operation Ethnic Cleansing? Do they think that just Ban’s personal failing rather than UN policy? But what about the role of UN troops in Haiti, including introducing the ongoing cholera epidemic? Statistics are staggering: nearly a million Haitians afflicted as of November 2014; nearly 9,000 have died. That doesn’t include the nearly 500 who died in the Dominican Republic when the disease spread, as epidemics are wont. And the worst of it is the UN refuses any culpability. What kind of “peacekeeping” force is that?

Now today we hear that UN troops–far from being a peacekeeping force–joined Haitian riot cops against protesters demanding democratic elections & the removal of president Michel Martelly & prime minister Laurent Lamothe. You can understand the Haitian desire to remove those two bums when you know Martelly is a former death squad member & the both of them collaborated with the two Clintons to set up Haiti as a sweatshop nation (& most likely rigged the election that Martelly won). Now the worst part is that UN troops didn’t just interfere in Haitian politics but they opened fire on the protesters. Once again, what kind of “peacekeeping” force is that?

It’s hard for the UN to hoodwink the Haitians who have protested for years at the UN mission in Port-au-Prince for the withdrawal of the violent so-called “peacekeepers.”

One could ignore the MoveOn petition if the group weren’t tied to the Democratic Party (DP), which helps set pro-Israel policy in this country. The petition should be considered a pernicious sneaky-assed DP campaign to win support from Palestinian solidarity activists for military intervention against Palestinians. It would be difficult for the US Pentagon to send troops if Israel is ever threatened but with the cover of “peacekeepers” UN troops could serve as proxy–just like they do in Haiti, the DR Congo, & several other countries.

There is no foreign military solution to Israeli occupation & ethnic cleansing in Gaza & the West Bank. Building the economic & cultural boycott (BDS) of Israel, building the solidarity movement, demanding “No military aid to Israel” is the mission of Palestinian solidarity.

(Photo of UN “Peacekeeper” firing on Haitian protesters today by Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

The scam of parliament resolutions recognizing Palestine as a state

Free Palestine flag Dec 12 2014

At the time of the Oslo Accords there was a debate among Palestinian supporters about their character. Edward Said was one of the most outspoken critics of the Accords & I agreed completely with his critique that they were the terms of Palestinian surrender. I was excoriated for calling them a bantustate solution by one writer who argued they were the best the Palestinians could get. My response was, ‘Absolutely so, if you rely on regimes colluding with Israel against Palestinian justice. But if you trust Intifada & social struggle, Palestinians can achieve self-determination & not settle for a travesty.

The treacherous character of the Oslo Accords has been more than exposed in the 21 years since they were signed & have proven themselves to be not just terms of surrender but justification for intensified ethnic cleansing & apartheid. They have been divisive to the Palestinian struggle & have privileged people like Mahmoud Abbas, a traitor to Palestine if there ever was one.

The discussions now around these European parliament resolutions recognizing Palestine as a state remind me very much of that debate in the early 90s. I consider these resolutions a dead-end, an end-run around Palestinian self-determination, a diversionary tactic, & an attempt to discredit a democratic secular state where Jews & Palestinians can live in peace. They are nothing but a massive compromise with injustice & Israeli apartheid. How Palestinians on the front lines of struggle deal with these resolutions is one thing; but why would Palestinian supporters ever agree to such massive & miserable concessions when for the first time in 66 years millions of people around the world stand with Palestine!?

What exactly is being recognized anyway? Does anyone really want to claim that Gaza, which cannot even rebuild after Operation Ethnic Cleansing due to the Israeli embargo, is a state? That the West Bank is sovereign whilst Israel continues to occupy & move in thousands of settlers? Why instead don’t those parliaments denounce Israeli apartheid; sever their military & economic contracts with Israel; promote the economic & cultural boycott of Israel; demand Israel end the embargo & stop Zionist settlements?

Symbolic doesn’t cut it anymore. Not whilst thousands of Gazans are sustaining a winter without housing due to Israeli ethnic cleansing; not whilst Israel is trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque; or whilst they continue to tear down homes & villages, assault & incarcerate thousands of protesters in their gulag.

Supporting these parliamentary resolutions is in the same league as MoveOn’s call for UN troops to Palestine–although the call for UN occupation has got to take the cake for misguided. And they’re in the same league precisely because at heart they doubt Intifada & Palestinian solidarity & are looking for a gimmick as a substitute.

Long live Intifada! Take it international! No phony bantustates but only justice.

FBI agents pose as church ladies on Facebook to find love

FBI spy Dec 12 2014

Media reports that a document wrenched from the US Justice Department by a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit proves federal agents are making up phony profiles & friending all over social media. We knew that. Now it’s proven. It claims one thing they’re snooping around for is suspicious spending sprees, so for heaven’s sake don’t pose in any new outfits for a while & keep your new car to yourself.

As a longtime activist it’s always given me the willies that the person chatting you up at a meeting is playing you for the FBI or police. It rankles that you can’t have a private phone conversation about sensitive things with your confidants & family. Most (I’d be naive to say all) activists for social justice don’t lead creepy private lives so there isn’t a hell of a lot to expose there–except maybe some Playboy magazines some would rather feminist collaborators not know about.

But this thing going on now is several degrees worse than that invasion of privacy. It makes Orwell’s “1984” look like a fairytale rather than a nightmare. It could be called the militarization of private life. Or more aptly, the denial of private life. And the most dangerous thing about it is the intentions to do harm to people. That’s palpable. They want to know where you work, live, party, exercise, walk; they want to know your every waking thought, as if conspiracy was constantly brewing on FB. They want to know every damn thing about you so they can use it not to find people fencing stolen goods but activists trying to make this world a better place. They want to get activists fired from their jobs & in the police radar.

Now there could be another way to look at this. Outside of the undercover fakers at political events, I’ve only met a handful of FBI agents in my life; one came out from undercover to testify against me in a court of law–& got caught on video lying. One said it was during her tenure & her position to post my criminal record for using a weapon of mass destruction but she must have been away that day. Yeah sure. If you can put up with a sneering attitude & contemptuous arrogance, they’re not half-bad. But my stomach for sneering & arrogance is not that strong. And I’d imagine not a lot of people like them outside their inner circle of snoops & assassins. Paranoia & misanthropy aren’t that easy to live with.

So maybe this FB duty is an agent’s cry for help, an appeal for friendship. Maybe if you don’t know they’re reading your email, documenting your every word, reporting you to the cops or your employer, scoping you out for surveillance, then you’ll like them just for who they are. If we did an FBI profile on FBI agents & other snoops, we’d find a sorry-assed lot: know-it-alls, the holier-than-thous, the self-righteous, the conformists who only break rules when no one is looking & they think they can’t get caught. You’d find people proud they don’t take anti-psychotic meds because they want to be present, in the Zen sense, as they wreak their havoc on others.

So shed a tear for the social misfits, malcontents, anti-social psychos that end up in the FBI but we still need to find a way to kick their asses & defend the Bill of Rights.

(Image is a lonely FBI agent looking for love on FB)