Fight feudalism!

Chuckles Windsor (Danny Lawson:PA) Apr 29 2015

If eyes are the window to the soul, Chucky Windsor is in big trouble. So understandable after 66 years of indolence. When you can’t brush your own teeth or wipe your own ass (& sometimes get the two mixed up) & aren’t allowed to do a damn thing, there’s an emotional & intellectual vacancy that takes over & eats the brain–very akin to Mad Cow Disease.

When the only ones who understand you are the horses in the royal stable & even they’ve begun to snort in protest when you show up, it may be time to end the thirteen-century monstrosity of feudalism & moochocracy. We don’t even have to wait till neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, is trounced.

Fight feudalism. Save Chucky!

Drug trafficking and the Afghanistan War

Afghan child farmworker (Ghulamullah Habibi:EPA) Apr 29 2015

Afghanistan has become the world’s largest producer of opium, the raw ingredient in heroin, & provides between 80 & 90-percent of the global crop. The official line promoted by the UN & US government is opium poppy sales fund the Taliban & criminal gangs in Afghanistan & it’s difficult for the Afghan government to control black-market opium sales or patrol the areas where opium is produced. Like the Helmand province (the epicenter of Afghan opium production) where there are at least 70 US-NATO bases & patrol stations? Where we have photos of US marines guarding the poppy fields & US military planes flying the stuff out for processing? Who’s kidding who!?

It’s reported that while the US has spent $7.6 billion in the last decade to eradicate opium in Afghanistan, land usage for production has increased by 60% since 2011 & opium production is at record-high levels.

Recently it was reported that the private security firm (hired goon squads) formerly known as Blackwater & now named Academi received over $309 million from the US Pentagon to eradicate Afghan narcotics. Northrup Grumman, a manufacturer of bombers & a leading defense contractor, received $325 million. Academi got the largesse for “training, equipment, & logistical support” to the Afghan military for counternarcotics operations. What the hell did Northrup Grumman get it for? Bombing the fields? All that dough, all those bases, & the combined military force of US-NATO, Afghanistan, Academi, & Northrup Grumman can’t stop opium trafficking! They must think the world’s population is comprised of idiots to believe that crap!

Some photos show armed US marines standing guard over poppy fields with children like this small boy picking the crop. So the question must be asked, “Are the children working under coercion? Is the US Pentagon enforcing child labor as well as facilitating opium production?” Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your mind around the malignancy of US war policy, to face the reality that your government is a high-class drug peddling operation. But it is. And worse.

US out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq! Rebuild the international antiwar movement!

(Photo by Ghulamullah Habibi/EPA)

Satire is the art form of the oppressed

Satire is the art form of the oppressed, the social protest of the powerless, the voice of rebellion. When sarcasm & ridicule are used by the social elite, it is nothing more than an attempt to have a laugh at the expense of the oppressed.

Mark Twain is a writer who tried to have it both ways. In “Huckleberry Finn” he wrote a white savior novel demeaning Blacks that always makes white people feel proud but has never fooled Black school children who despise it.

No one knows the charade of having a laugh at our expense better than women–starting with the mother-in-law jokes. Even rebuttals to our objections are stock-in-trade: “Can’t you take a joke?” “Lighten up!”

Satire needs to be rescued from the damage Charlie Hebdo is inflicting. Ridiculing & demeaning others is not the point. Giving voice, emboldening the powerless, & social protest is what it’s all about. Otherwise it’s just oppression in a joke. Horse manure served as gourmet food.

Satire Charlie Hebdo-style same as merde

Charlie Hebdo covers from 2012 (AFP:Getty Images)

This seems to be an era of exposé when old certainties are laid bare as pipe dreams & heroes are exposed as shysters. UN officials are accused (& not for the first time) of covering up sexual assault of young boys by UN troops from France in the Central African Republic & in fact threatening to fire the aid worker who blew the whistle. The whistleblower, a senior UN official, has been suspended for handing a report to prosecutors detailing the rape & sodomy of starving, orphaned, homeless boys by troops who were supposed to be protecting them.

Human rights groups are exposed for corporate & government ties (& even as fronts) that control their politics & make them accessories to the crime of occupation & plunder in so many countries. Now PEN America, the writers group that always seemed to stand for freedom of expression, is embroiled in a controversy for offering their courage award to Charlie Hebdo at a May 5th forum in NYC. They might regret the exposure they are getting for this massive political blunder.

On its website PEN justified its choice by saying “Only a handful of people are willing to put themselves in peril to build a world in which we are all free to say what we believe” but Charlie Hebdo has done that. How much courage does it take to publish hateful caricatures of Muslims, Arabs, Africans in Paris when the French government has made wearing the veil in the public streets illegal & street goons harass Muslim women with impunity? When it’s witch-hunting & deporting Roma? When vigilantes are torching or attacking mosques? When the regime is involved in letting thousands of Africans drown in the Mediterranean? That would make Charlie Hebdo part of the gestalt of social hatred that seems to be thriving in France–not rebels against it.

There doesn’t appear to be any democracy in how PEN selects the honorees since already 35 members have objected & are boycotting the ceremony. Wasn’t the membership consulted or asked to vote? Did they all just get a tweet inviting them to celebrate racism?

What could explain PEN America’s fall from grace? One could vet the politics & connections of the entire board but most of them are just well-remunerated writers with no probable connections to nefarious organizations. Checking the money sources is a quicker way to identify who controls the decisions. And here we find PEN America is “partnered” with (that means bankrolled by) a few governments, including the Dutch & British & several private enterprises. They’re “partnered” with UNESCO, the European Commission, & several foundations of undetermined politics–except for the Open Society Foundations of George Soros which is involved in passing out hush money to immigrant rights groups in the US & trade unions in countries like Zimbabwe. The purpose of the hush money is to sit on social protest & make sure it doesn’t happen. So let’s be frank! If PEN America is accepting dough from Soros, they’ve sold their soul to a hefty bidder. And they don’t stand for squat anymore.

(Photo of two Charlie Hebdo covers from 2012 making fun of their irresponsible attitude to humor from AFP/Getty Images)

40th anniversary of Fall of Saigon

Vo Thi Tai, Viet Cong 2012 (Don Unrau) Apr 30 2015

On the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon when the North Vietnamese army routed the US military & ended the Vietnam war, we should take a moment to honor the Vietnamese resistance, vilified then in the US as the Việt Cộng.

Mythology & war propaganda coming out of WWII & the Korean War made the US seem an impregnable military force, especially against a colonial people. But the Vietnamese regular army & guerrilla forces had been fighting Japanese & French colonialism for 40 years & were resolute & steeled in battle. Many people today fighting the yoke of neoliberal colonialism may not have that military advantage & will have to build international solidarity, the second phalanx of opposition to tyranny.

Women played an important role in the Việt Cộng (both a guerrilla & regular army). This woman veteran is Vo Thi Tai from Quảng Ngãi province located halfway between Hanoi & Saigon (now named Hồ Chí Minh City). The province was a center of resistance to colonial occupation & the site of numerous ambushes of South Vietnamese & US troops by Việt Cộng forces. Thus it was the site of considerable US military action including massacres of entire villages. Some of the massacres are unreported since they were conducted by South Korean forces operating as part of US operations. My Lai is located in Quảng Ngãi–which makes it clearer that the My Lai massacre was not just an individual act of barbarism but part of US military operations in the province.

In 2012, a US Vietnam War veteran named Don Unrau traveled to the province & did a series of portraits of Việt Cộng veterans. He called the series “equal parts homage & reconciliation.” This portrait of Vo Thi Tai is one in the series.

Vietnam is still suffering from the war; many hundreds of children (as in Iraq) are born with catastrophic disabilities & only families to care for them. There are still thousands of land mines & soil contaminated by Agent Orange & Napalm. Many people are disappointed the Vietnamese regime is going the neoliberal route. But nothing can take away the Vietnamese contribution to humanity when they routed the mightiest military machine in the world; when their struggle showed humanity the power of resistance & international solidarity.

Our fullest respect & homage. May we rebuild the international antiwar movement to render the same solidarity to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, & elsewhere.

(Photo by Don Unrau)

The baby face of modern immigration

The baby face of immigration ( Angelos Tzortzinis:AFP:Getty Images) Apr 30 2015

The baby face of modern immigration: a Greek coast guard officer (notably deficient in nurturing skills) is carrying an infant off a boat at Lesbos, an island flooded with immigrants fleeing Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, African countries, & elsewhere. We aren’t told whether either of the baby’s parents have survived.

The SYRIZA government has promised more humane treatment of immigrants but they have a lot of remedial ground to cover since the previous regime was so barbaric. Before SYRIZA took office, conditions for immigrants in Lesbos were reported as lacking sufficient facilities or housing of any kind. Immigrants were seen sleeping under cars to protect themselves from rain & cold.

The high number of children belies the propaganda against immigrants. We wonder how Greece will “process” the large numbers of unaccompanied minors. Will they warehouse them in abandoned army barracks like the US does? Will they deport them like the South African government does? Will they fingerprint & deport them like Europe & Israel are doing to most undocumented immigrants?

Immigration is a human right! We hope this baby will elude the ugly forces of racist immigration & lead a blessed life.

(Photo by Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images)