Neoliberal waste management

Neoliberal waste management (Pablo Blazquez Dominquez:Getty Images) Dec 31 2014

Neoliberal waste management: solid waste disposal, once a public service, has now been privatized across the globe–driven by austerity programs, especially IMF-World Bank policies & bullying. Those who argue for privatization claim it’s cost effective for cities & that private companies exhibit more innovation in waste disposal methods. How much innovation does it take to turn planet Earth into one stinking, toxic landfill? The only innovation made is the introduction of racism & neoliberal colonialism into waste management so that the biggest mountains of waste are on Native American reservations in the US (one such dump on a reservation in southern California is a mountain of stinking human feces from San Diego) & adjacent to the biggest slums in Africa, Central America, & South Asia so that the poor can earn pennies a day recycling & suffering terrible health consequences, especially respiratory & skin infections.

This tire graveyard is in Sesena Nuevo near Madrid, Spain but it could just as well be near Des Moines, Iowa. They’re all over the place–raising the question why isn’t the tire industry responsible for their disposal & recycling? And also, why hasn’t the tire industry been mandated to produce a tire with a life span longer than five years?

The class that administers neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, can’t help itself. It feeds on plunder & profiteering & is caught in it’s own deadly system. We need to form an emancipation army to help extricate the poor murderous fools from their seats of power & send them packing. There’ll be no need for revenge because there’ll be plenty of work for them to do dismantling the mess they made of this world. That way slum residents can find suitable employment & get health care for their maladies. In the US, the marauders can begin with that pile of poop outside San Diego where they will be provided with respirators.

(Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Neoliberal health care

Neoliberal health care:Ebola (John Moore:Getty Images) Dec 31 2014

This photo which should be entitled “Neoliberal health care”, was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as among the best for 2014. It is a Liberian health care worker in Monrovia disinfecting the body of a man who died in a schoolroom serving as an Ebola isolation ward (in August). Can you imagine a more bereft way of dying? Can you conceive of how it felt for a deathly ill man to be dumped alone in such conditions?

Meanwhile, the notoriously corrupt government of Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner educated in the US Ivy League) accepts billions of dollars in US military aid & dishes out billions of dollars in concession agreements to multinational corporations to plunder Liberia’s considerable natural resources. Liberia is fully committed to the neoliberal way of doing business which includes agribusiness plantations for palm oil & the largest rubber plantation in the world owned by Firestone Tire. It has the highest ratio of foreign investment in the world so foreign plunder of iron ore & timber resources for export is legally sanctioned.

Liberia also shares a shameful distinction with Israel: it operates as a major trader of Sierra Leone’s “blood diamonds.” Blood diamonds are also called conflict or war diamonds (& that includes all diamonds sold today) because of the violence & civil conflict involved in their extraction & trade. In 2001, the UN banned Liberian diamond exports because of the human rights violations involved in the trade. But when Liberia signed the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme agreement in 2007, the ban was lifted. Of course the Kimberley Process is a scam by the diamond industry (which includes all the big jewelers) to clean up the image of the diamond trade based in neoliberal plunder & war. Think not only Sierra Leone but the DR Congo where the war over diamonds & other minerals has caused the deaths of over 6 million people since 1998.

As for why there is an abandoned school to use as a clinic in a country with a high illiteracy rate–part of neoliberalism involves privatizing & reducing public funds to sustain public education by providing supplies & paying teachers. In many areas children must pay for school in a country where thousands have been dispossessed, displaced, & their livelihoods destroyed by agribusiness plantations.

Our fullest solidarity with the working people of Liberia. Solidarity, if it is to mean anything, begins with boycotting diamonds & doesn’t end till neoliberal barbarism is removed from the face of the earth.

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Police whimper and feign fear to discredit emerging civil rights movement

This might be the time to pee on the sidewalk in NYC if you ever wanted to. The NYPD is on an undeclared & illegal work stoppage with ticketing down 94% for public drinking, peeing, & other minor offenses. The coast is still not clear for shoplifters so keep your sticky fingers off the goods.

The police Benevolent Association has mandated two patrol cars must respond to all police calls so this means slower response times to non-emergencies like burglaries or car crashes without injuries–or whatever in their petulant state cops deem non-emergency.

One cop said he’s not writing tickets because he ‘won’t stand there & let someone shoot him or hit him in the head with an ax.’ Another said, “I’m concerned about my safety. I want to go home to my wife & kids.” What a contrast to their reckless disregard for the lives & human rights of Black teens. File those complaints under “Cry me a River.”

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is feeling emboldened enough to hit the media trail. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” he claimed the NYPD is suffering low morale & that cops across the country “feel under attack,” including from the government. All that big-assed military equipment & no one to shoot without a civil rights movement in your face!

Bratton addressed the conflict as if were between the NYPD & Mayor de Blasio. That’s where the cops are focusing their fury when the real tension is between the NYPD & Black community & its supporters. Cops want their old impunity back. But police don’t run NYC or any other city in the world. They’re guns for hire by the political forces that do control things.

It’s a dangerous course to let the cops run wild & call the shots. And it’s a danger mostly to the emerging civil rights movement. The only way to defend the right of public protest & support the Black community in defense of their children is to make the new movement massive & mighty & intransigent. The police suffer no threat whatsoever to their lives or safety from this historic movement for social justice. But it is the end of the line for their reign of terror in the Black community.

Tribute to the Black community of Ferguson, Missouri

Ferguson (Jewel Samad:AFP) Dec 20 2014

This photo from Ferguson, Missouri was also chosen by the Guardian-UK as one of the best from 2014. The photojournalist doesn’t give a date but because the protester is wearing mittens we can assume it’s part of ongoing protest this winter & not from last summer. The photographer also doesn’t seem to get what is going on in Ferguson since she said, ““I took this picture the day after the violent protest turned into riots in Ferguson, Missouri. The police were trying to disperse a crowd & warning they would arrest anyone gathering on the street.” What interested her in the shot was the contrast between the iconic gesture of “Hands up, don’t shoot” & the police lights. Maybe one ought not cover such events if aesthetics are of more concern than the momentous & historic.

This woman protester defied police orders & moved into the middle of the street before the police advance & was arrested. Protests which stand on the Bill of Rights to defend Black youth from police violence don’t get violent or riotous until militarized riot cops attack them. If the photographer doesn’t get that, she should stick with kitty portraits.

We should take a moment to honor the Black community in Ferguson for changing the political landscape in this country, for exposing for all the world to see the crimes being committed against Black teens by police, government, & school officials. The NYPD & media are now crying crocodile tears that the emerging civil rights & Black power movement is endangering the cops. That movement in Ferguson, NYC, & elsewhere is responding to the charge with the derision & contempt of a Bronx cheer (Also called a raspberry & done with the mouth it makes the sound of a fart. Nothing could be a more appropriate response.). They aint seen nothing yet.

Judging by our selection of political leaders & US military policy, many people around the world think the US population not just slow on the uptake but genetically & politically damned in some way. Ferguson has changed that too, showing that opposition to injustice & tyranny is not just part of our history but is possible again.

(Photo byJewel Samad/AFP)

Photojournalism bears witness to Zionist war propaganda

(Mustafa Hassona:Anadolu:Getty Images) Dec 30 2014

This photo was chosen as one of the Guardian-UK’s best for 2014. It stands as another denunciation of Israel’s pernicious claim that Palestinians in Gaza used their children as human shields. That claim was echoed in an ad placed in several newspapers, including the Guardian-UK, by Elie Weasel. The Weasel once said he “swore never to be silent whenever & wherever human beings endure suffering & humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” He can stuff his self-serving grandeur now that he’s exposed for helping & encouraging the oppressor by pretending Israeli war crimes against children are justified.

The photographer explained this child was killed by Israeli bombing of the family home in Gaza City on July 20th. The young man crying over his body is his brother, Rafik Ashraf Ayyad. Their father, who was also injured in the bombing, was in the same hospital & they carried the body to him so he could say goodbye. The child was buried without funeral ceremony due to the continued intensity of the bombing.

There is no more powerful damnation of Israeli war propaganda than this photo except to say ‘may those who repeat it rot in hell.’
May the child RIP. And may we continue to build the economic & cultural boycott of Israel (barcode beginning 729) & demand no military aid to Israel.

(Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu/Getty Images)

Neoliberal barbarism targets children & so must social transformation

Afghan refugee in Pakistan (M. Muheisen:AP) Dec 28 2014

This is another magnificent image of an Afghan refugee in Pakistan by Muhammed Muheisen who covers the Middle East as an AP photojournalist. He has extensive albums of Afghan, Palestinian, Syrian, Pakistani refugees & has a distinguishing sensitivity to his work. It’s not known if being born in Jerusalem (1981) plays any part in his aesthetic; it would be hard to think it didn’t.

Much of his work focuses on children & elderly; in fact, much of photojournalism does because war, colonialism, poverty, dispossession, dislocation & neoliberal barbarisms of all kind fall hardest on children & vulnerable elders. As we saw in the Israeli siege of Gaza, the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem & the West Bank, the Taliban massacre in Peshawar, & police violence against Black teens in the US, children are often the targets of barbarism.

The UN has a ceremonial day dedicated to children in November every year. That’s not enough for those of us with no attachments to the status quo & who want to see human beings triumph over the scourge of social hatred & war. So we should dedicate the coming year (or for that matter, the rest of our lives) to making the world–not heaven, not utopia–but suitable for children to come of age in, where they can grow up in harmony with each other & with nature. (It may be too much to ask that teens be in harmony with parents. That’s for another generation.)

At least we can work to end US wars so this small child & her family can go back to Afghanistan where they belong.

(Photo by Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

NYPD insubordinate to NYC mayor de Blasio

Thousands of cops from the NYPD & out-of-state turned their backs on NY mayor de Blasio as he eulogized Rafael Ramos, the cop murdered in a random act of violence by a deranged individual. They pulled the same stunt when the mayor spoke last week. The cops are still enflamed de Blasio didn’t  sic them on those protesting the deaths of Michael Brown & Eric Garner.

NY Police Commissioner, William Bratton, has a SWAT team approach to policing but was hired by de Blasio so he’s equivocating up a storm, afraid to bite the hand that feeds him & unwilling to call the NYPD to order for insubordination.

It’s no big deal if they’re insubordinate to the mayor. Who gives a hoot!? They’ve been likened to the Westboro Baptist Church crowd who do anti-gay protests at military funerals. They’re far more akin to the storm troopers & brownshirts who facilitated Hitler & Mussolini’s rise to power. It’s scary as hell to think these people have been unleashed on Black youth.

To defend civil rights & civil liberties, all those of good will must respond to the call of the new civil rights movement.

Historic legal victory for animal rights in Argentina

Sandra the Orangutan Dec 28 2014

This sweet-faced 29-year-old orangutan named Sandra has been held in captivity in a Buenos Aires, Argentina zoo for 20 years. She is the subject of a historic & unprecedented legal ruling allowing her to be transferred to a sanctuary in Brazil more suitable to animal life than cement cages.

Argentina’s Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) filed a habeas corpus writ against unlawful imprisonment at the Buenos Aires Zoo. The court ruled Sandra is “a nonhuman being that has certain rights & can enforce them through legal procedure” & granted her basic rights of life, freedom, & a premise of no harm either physically or psychologically. Previously animals have been regarded as things.

This is the first such ruling in the world & sets a legal precedent for the humane treatment of animals. It’s also the first wee step in the direction of outlawing zoos & animals in circuses. Some legal experts argue this ruling only applies to great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, & orangutans) who share 96% of their genetic identity with human beings & are considered comparable in cognitive & emotional life. (That depends entirely on which human beings they’re being compared to. When compared to the US Congress, the great ape’s cognitive & emotional skills leave the senators in the dust.) It isn’t certain the legal experts are interpreting the ruling correctly but animal rights activists will surely use the precedent to push for the inclusion of all living beings to be treated with dignity & respect–& not as spectacle.

Hats off to Sandra’s attorney, Andrés Gil Domínguez, who argued animals suffer deep & serious harm from confinement. Buenos Aires Zoo officials have up to two weeks to issue an appeal. Let’s hope the tigers get them if they refuse to come to their senses.

(Photo by Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

Oil spill in Bangladesh

Bangladesh oil spill (AP) Dec 21 2014

An estimated 350,000 liters (92,460 gallons) of oil spilled into the world’s largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh on December 9th after a tanker carrying furnace oil collided with another vessel. The spill area called the Sundarbans is an immense delta of islands threaded with creeks, channels, & canals with roughly one-third lying in India & two-thirds in Bangladesh. It is a haven for an extraordinary diversity of animals, including endangered species, & on both sides of the border there are densely populated villages.

In volume of oil spilled & acreage affected, it isn’t comparable to the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (210 million gallons in 68,000 square miles) but when adjusted for scale, it is just as catastrophic for the environment, residents, & wildlife which includes dolphins & endangered Bengal tigers.

Amir Hossain, chief forest ranger of the Sundarbans, admitted frankly to media they had no idea how to tackle the oil spill as it continues to spread along two rivers & inside the mangrove forest area. In place of a necessary industrial cleanup effort the government hired an oil company to get villagers to scoop up the spill with spoons, buckets, pans, sponges but they provide no protective gear or safety training. This may add farce & folly to catastrophe but it’s a replay of BP cleanup efforts in the Gulf & elsewhere.

The UN & US are sending experts to Bangladesh to assess the damage & provide assistance. But the truth of the matter is the oil companies will walk away from this scot-free just like they have all the other catastrophes they’ve created around the globe. If we don’t stop these oil companies from marauding, the entire planet will soon look like the Niger Delta.

We’ve got some work ahead of us. It isn’t the planet we’re saving; it’s the human race.

(Photo of villagers trying to scoop up 350,000 liters with sponges & buckets from AP)

Zionism’s fabricated religious “traditions”

Wailling Wall Dec 27 2014

This photo, taken in October, was selected as one of Reuter’s best photos for 2014. An Israeli woman & a Palestinian protester are giving each other the equivalent of the middle finger. Palestinian women were protesting as Israeli soldiers escorted Zionists to the Western Wall–a section of the enclosure around the compound known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims & the Temple Mount to Zionists. The compound is located in East Jerusalem under illegal occupation by Israel since 1967. The Palestinians are chanting & taunting while Orthodox Jews living in apartments above the street hurl bottles & water down on them.

The Noble Sanctuary (Al-Haram al-Sharif) is 35 acres of fountains, gardens, museums, as well as the Al-Aqsa Mosque & the Dome of the Rock (which has sacred meaning to Muslims). The entire area is regarded as sacred space & is an educational center as well as religious sanctuary. It’s existed in various reconstructions for over 1,300 years. There’s a fallacious mantra going round that the Noble Sanctuary is only the third holiest site to Islam but is the holiest site for Judaism. The reason offered for why it’s sacred to Judaism is that it’s the original site of Solomon’s Temple said to have housed the Ark of the Covenant & destroyed in 586 BCE (for which there isn’t a shred of archaeological evidence). There was an actual temple on the site between 516 BCE & 70 CE when the Romans destroyed it. It was renovated by Herod (of Biblical & historical ignominy) & the supposed remnants of the Herodian wall make up the Western Wall (known also as the Wailing Wall) heralded by Israel as the most sacred place of Judaism.

There are lots of peculiar religious practices in the world (like worshipping Jesus image in a tortilla) but there is something fetishistic about millions of people making pilgrimage & fervent homage to an old stone wall. Even the pope & every godless US politician make homage at this altar of the Israeli state. One would never ridicule even the most absurd practice but there is no need to feign respect for a narrative fabricated solely to serve Zionist nationalism & not religious commitment. It’s not inconceivable that there’s a mystique around that pile of stones from Herod’s days. But a mystique is not the same as a religious tradition or historic claim.

Far from being an ancient tradition, there is little evidence that Jews, most of whom lived outside Palestine until the late 19th century, held the wall as sacred. Jewish immigration to Palestine was part of the great wave of emigration from Eastern Europe during that time–some driven by economic desperation, some to escape pogroms & persecution, & many as evangelists of Zionism goaded by Zionist organizations as advance guard for setting up a Jewish-only state. And that’s when trouble began in Palestine around Islam’s holy sites, with Zionists creating historic narratives & fabricating religious traditions that did not exist.

In 1948 when Israel was founded on the violent expulsion of Palestinians with the collusion of colonial regimes (especially the UK), East Jerusalem came under the jurisdiction of Jordan through negotiations with the UN; West Jerusalem was under Israeli control. The Noble Sanctuary is in East Jerusalem. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel occupied East Jerusalem & within a matter of three days had flattened the Palestinian neighborhood (called the Moroccan Quarter) adjacent to the Western Wall & Noble Sanctuary & forcibly cleared out the residents. Their property was expropriated for public use & eventually turned into a plaza to receive thousands of born-again Zionists laying claim to a land that wasn’t theirs. That “ancient tradition” of placing messages in the Western Wall doesn’t go back to Herod but began with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan when they marched into East Jerusalem & he inserted a written prayer into the cracks of the wall.

After the 1967 war, Zionists under the leadership of right-wing Rabbi Shlomo Goren (chief rabbi of the Israeli military & later chief rabbi of Israel) began claiming the Noble Sanctuary for building a third temple. Non-Muslims were forbidden to pray within the compound & so the Western Wall served for a long while as an outdoor & surrogate temple but Zionists have always had their eye on the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque & erecting their temple there. Palestinians frequently claim Israeli excavations under Al-Aqsa are threatening the foundations making it liable to collapse. Israeli rabbis are divided on Jews praying within the compound. Traditional rabbinical scholars regard it as antithetical to Judaism. Right-wing Zionist rabbis are much more flexible with religious principles in service to their rabid nationalism.

This explains the constant harassment & storm trooper tactics by Zionist extremists, police agents, & Israeli troops within the Al-Aqsa compound. This also explains why there is relentless political pressure to reverse the prohibition on non-Muslims worshipping there & why Palestinian males under 50 are barred access to the mosque & must pray in the public streets. In November, Israel ordered the mosque closed down after the shooting of an ultranationalist Zionist who campaigned aggressively for Jewish prayer rights at the site. The entire purpose is to usurp & deny Palestinian religious rights & traditions.

Support Palestinian justice by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); by supporting the cultural boycott of Israel; by demanding “No US aid to Israel!”

(Photo by Finbarr O’Reilly)