Earth doesn’t have to be heaven but it shouldn’t be hell

Gaza girls Jan 6 2015

The world has been too much with us lately, with the foul taking up too many headlines. We always need catch our breath & pay attention to what makes political struggle worth commitment & life worth living.

These little girls live in Gaza. The older one is protecting her younger sister from the bitter cold. We want a world where all children are safe & cherished, a world suitable for children to live & love in, where the violence & ugliness of social hatred cannot thrive & certainly doesn’t profit. Some say that can only happen in heaven or utopia. But what’s to stop us from trying here on Earth?

(Photo thanks to Mohammed E Jaber)

Epstein pedophilia case important for victims’ rights

Contrary to media obsession with the salacious details, the federal lawsuit filed in Florida against the 2008 plea deal made between billionaire child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein & federal prosecutors is extremely important legally. It isn’t about outing Andrew Windsor or Alan Dershowitz as pedophiles & neither is criminally charged in the suit. Despite the latter’s narcissism, the suit isn’t all about him–even though he brokered the agreement for Epstein & is cited in the suit for raping minors.

Epstein was under FBI investigation for several accusations of sexual violence against children. To avoid prosecution for all of his crimes, he agreed to plead guilty to a state felony charge of soliciting an underage prostitute & in return federal prosecutors agreed not to bring charges against him for the rape & trafficking charges.

Why would federal prosecutors do that? Why would they turn their backs on the more serious crimes & ignore the allegations of victims? The Florida lawsuit provides insight by alleging Epstein procured children for some of the most powerful people in the world. The unidentified have an enormous stake in avoiding exposure as pedophiles. The plea deal wasn’t just about letting a billionaire walk away scot-free. If prosecuted rather than protected by his powerful clients, Epstein could have brought a lot of other people down with him. It’s certain Dershowitz made that perfectly clear to the prosecutors.

This is not the first lawsuit challenging the plea agreement. Two victims filed suit against the US government in 2008 claiming victims’ rights were violated with the refusal to prosecute. (It isn’t certain where that suit stands.) Legal experts can go back & forth about the procedures & laws involved. It might be injudicious to make accusations when your career is at stake. But when federal prosecutors did not consult with victims about the deal, it would suggest they were pulling a fast one–what is called a cover-up.

Both suits want a federal court to invalidate the plea agreement. It’s not certain how that will affect Epstein’s accusers but it will certainly advance victims’ rights in general. Following the suits through the maneuvers of the courts will require the services of a legal detective. When the salacious has exhausted itself, the reporting will disappear.
All of this would be so discouraging if one looked solely to the courts to end crimes of any kind against children. It will take a lot more action & involve a lot more people than that.

Phil Windsor confirmed among the living dead

Phil Windsor (Reuters) Jan 6 2015

We now have proof positive confirming the widespread suspicion that Phil Windsor passed away years ago. Thank God for taxidermy. He was only 50 when he died but corruption takes its toll. If they let him go on aging he could have brought disgrace on the entire palace–& lord knows they already have enough.

The taxidermist did a good job. He was commissioned & flown in special from Texas where he did the same treatment on Dick Cheney. Phil & Dick share the same contemptuous sneer not uncommon among the elite & the taxidermist was able to capture that for posterity. It’s so special. Without it, no one would have believed Phil or Dick were still alive.

Phil is kept in a broom closet most of the time but gets wheeled out for ceremonies so no one gets suspicious. You can tell he’s dead by the lack of flatulence in the air. He was known for that & could clear a room of courtiers faster than you could say “Buckingham Palace.” The only ones who don’t take the hint are US congressmen who don’t even fare well standing next to dead Phil.

(Photo from Reuters)

“Mum’s the word” for Betty

Betty Jan 6 2015

This is such an endearing picture of Betty. It’s her “mum’s the word” face after British politicians exempted the moochocracy from the Freedom of Information Act. They now have “absolute protection from public scrutiny” & not a moment too soon–what with all the plebeian litigation implicating Andrew in unsavory & criminal acts. It just seems that all that confidentiality is at odds with the Kate & Willy thing & all that talk of a modern feudalism.

But this is certainly no time to go after Betty who despite having all the time & money in the world to raise decent kids turned out a pedophile & likely lives in close proximity to others. Parenting isn’t the same when you’re a moochocrat. You have to teach them to be predators so guilt from freeloading is no part of their nature. And they’ve got to learn that some are born to sit on their lard asses & be waited on hand & foot while others are meant for servitude. That’s just the way things are under feudalism & colonialism.

The moochocracy has all sorts of immunities–& why not? Betty can’t be arrested for anything. But the poor girl wouldn’t survive in a prison anyway since she’d have to brush her own teeth & wipe her own ass. Apparently her criminal offspring can’t be arrested in her presence or within the palace. That would mean Andrew was moving back in if US courts didn’t have their own special way of dealing with criminal confidentiality for the elite. Thank God capitalism retained some of those features from feudalism & didn’t actually believe all that democratic crap.

Governments around the world institutionalize SWAT team policing

Bahrain (Mohammed al-Shaikh (AFP) Jan 5 2015

This young guy is part of massive protests (now in their 6th day) in Manama, Bahrain against the arrest of Sheikh Ali Salman, a leading democracy activist. Neoliberal capitalism hasn’t a lot of options for managing the global crises of their volatile system. Austerity programs aren’t working & are creating widespread resistance. That’s where repression comes in. The endless proliferation of “think tanks” haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. They’ve been devising contingency plans to deal with social unrest & resistance to impoverishment of the many to lard the asses of the few. All that thinking & all they can come up with is militarizing the police, equipping them with flak jackets, tear gas, stun grenades, & armored vehicles. Any thug could come up with that.

In the past few years, several countries have implemented repressive internal security programs: Australia, Bahrain, China, Turkey, Pakistan, Mexico, the US, Spain, Kenya, Uganda, Russia, Israel, Haiti, Egypt, the Philippines (& many others). It isn’t from a confluence of the stars that regimes develop similar programs. They collaborate with each other, share malignancies, even conspire to maintain some semblance of stability & coherence for their system. You’ll find the same correspondences in immigration policies or divide & conquer strategies, especially around the use of racism.

SWAT team policing is now accepted as the norm internationally & that’s what makes todays protesters under repressive regimes like Haiti or Egypt or Bahrain so remarkable. They know they might get beaten, possibly arrested, & certainly tear gassed & still they stand their ground, including this guy against a moving tank. We saw the same thing in the Black community in Ferguson.

The only defense against all that is international collaboration & solidarity of our own & massive numbers. There has been discussion lately among new activists expressing anxiety over the possibility of being attacked by police. It’s an absolutely valid concern. But the political movement in many countries is well developed & experienced at coordinating peaceful protests & non-violent self-defense. Of course you could be an ace at all that in Chicago & it would serve you no good purpose in Port-au-Prince or Manama or Cairo–or Ferguson. For that, international solidarity is the sine qua non. And it might be added, a solidarity that is long over-due & grows more urgent as neoliberalism tries to reduce more & more working people to the equivalence of feudal serfs.

Our deepest admiration for this young man in Bahrain & for the Kenyans beaten last week at protests against new security laws, for the Haitians brutalized recently for demanding free elections, & for the thousands of other protesters around the world who stand so steadfast against tyranny.

(Photo by Mohammed al-Shaikh/AFP)

The Bahraini uprising against tyranny continues

Bahrain (Photograph- Hasan Jamali:AP0 JAN 5 2014

The Arab uprisings which erupted now four years ago were remarkable for the prominent role of women. (Women have always played central roles in social upheavals but when the history got written they were left out. The internet ended the reign of that kind of “history” & misogynist glory-mongering.) After a decade of justifying the US-NATO war in Afghanistan with baloney about liberating women, women revolutionists by the thousands across the Middle East showed the world what resistance to tyranny looks like. Thousands of them were veiled head to toe.

Reportedly, wearing a full veil (niqab) is not required in Bahrain but during protests almost all women wear them so as not to be identified by the cops & as protection against tear gas. Marches conform to religious tradition by marching in different groups when men & women protest at the same time but there are also women-only marches. The women have made it quite clear they are not mere auxiliaries to the democracy movement but among its leaders. Photojournalist documentation makes that irrefutable.

In 2012, Hamad al-Khalifa, the hereditary dictator of Bahrain, hired John Yates, a corrupt UK cop famous for his use of wire-tapping & police surveillance, & John Timoney, a US cop notorious for militarized methods against peaceful protestors (rubber bullets, tasers, concussion grenades, pepper spray, tear gas, electrified riot shields, baton charges) & police agents. Ostensibly this “dream team” of thuggery were hired to reform police & military to conform to “international standards” (comparable to using Joseph Stalin as the gold standard of policing) after Bahrain was cited by an international commission for using excessive force, torture, summary execution, & countless other human rights crimes to crush the democracy movement which erupted February 2011.

The UK has been involved in Bahraini military & intelligence training for decades. Along with Yates, a team from Scotland Yard trained & directed the police force & trained Saudi national guards deployed in force against protestors in Bahrain in 2012. The UK has a long history of orchestrating police violence in Bahrain–from 1966 to 1998, Ian Henderson, a former British colonial officer led Bahrain’s secret police, gaining the sobriquet, “Butcher of Bahrain” because of the extreme kinds of torture used against thousands of dissidents, including children. Repeated calls for the UK to prosecute Henderson under international law have been ignored because of Britain’s close ties with the Bahraini dictatorship.

Both the US & UK have economic, political, military, & strategic interests in Bahrain which conflict with the democratic needs of the Bahraini people. That’s why the US & UK continue to stand by the murderous regime with armaments, combat vehicles & helicopters, communications equipment, & a missile system. Both countries play a training role in the use of death squads. And of course without doubt, the CIA is there training torturers. The US & UK claim the weaponry is for Bahrain’s external defense but Bahrain is not a country under military siege by outside armies; it is a regime conducting an all-out war against it’s own people.

Such nefarious allies have emboldened the regime to escalate violence & repression; they use special force units to target & round up human rights activists; death squads; torture, beatings, kidnappings, disappearances (including of children); indiscriminate but methodical use of tear gas in residential areas (termed “carpet gassing”) resulting in maiming, blinding, deaths; incarceration; house raids; road check points for routine stops, searches, & intimidation.

It’s already been a few years since media began writing triumphal obituaries about the end of the “Arab Spring.” But if the Bahrain, US, & UK regimes were confident of the stable restoration of tyranny they wouldn’t need to turn Bahrain into a gulag & the regime into an armed encampment against the people of Bahrain.

Protests erupted in the past several days after police re-arrested Sheikh Ali Salman, a leading democracy figure who heads Bahrain’s largest opposition group which was inspired by the 1979 revolution against the Shah of Iran. He was charged with trying to change the regime by force. The charge is baseless since he is a known opponent of guerrilla or military methods of resistance.

The full range of Salman’s political ideas are not elaborated in media but Salman wasn’t picked up because he poses any military threat to the regime. Let’s get real! One reason may be because because he’s been cautioning for a very long time against the regime’s use of divide & conquer.

It’s been very clear from its inception that this is a democracy movement but the al-Khalifa regime (certainly under advisement of the US & UK) have relentlessly pursued a divide & conquer strategy of demonizing Shiites as extremists & pitting them against Sunni. Factional conflicts that have emerged are orchestrated from the Pentagon, not rooted in theological disputation. This strategy has proven effective & massively destructive (in Iraq, Pakistan, & elsewhere) of united opposition to tyranny & to US interference. It goes without saying that corporate media echoes that line in reports on Bahrain in an attempt to make the conflict seem irrational & over theology rather than political & class divisions.

The women in this photo are in Manama, the capital city, demanding the release of Salman. Here they are taking shelter from excessive tear gas. Our fullest solidarity, deepest respect, & honor to these mothers & teachers of revolution.

(Photo by Hasan Jamali/APO)