Obama against the Black community

Obama has distinguished his presidency by scarcely mentioning the problems of racism in the US–even (or especially) about the profligate murder of so many unarmed teens. CBS nightly news tonight reported the unemployment rate of Blacks is twice that of whites. Their next report was clips of Obama speaking today (probably to a bunch of rich white people) about the need for Black men to be more responsible as fathers–a theme he often harps on & a favorite of conservatives like Bill Cosby, a respectable father & serial rapist.

They’ve been spinning that tale for decades because it puts the onus for racism on the Black community &, in a backhanded way, justifies the violence against them.

Verdict in Farkhunda trial: kangaroo court justice

Farkhunda protest (Hedayatullah Amid:EPA) May 12 2015

Where did the distinction between justice & kangaroo courts get all mixed up? Was it in the US legal system where cops walk away from murdering unarmed Black teens or Black & Latino kids get railroaded into jail for minor offenses & on faulty evidence? Was it with the Egyptian & all the other military regimes where dictators walk away from mass murder without even a shake of the naughty finger? The differences are not subtle.

Now we read on May 6th that after a two-day trial an Afghan court sentenced four men to death for the March 19th murder of Farkhunda in the city of Kabul. Forty-nine people are standing trial & the judge handed down sentences for 30 of them. Eight defendants got 16 years in prison; eighteen were acquitted. The remaining 19 defendants are police officers accused of neglect of duty. Can anyone seriously claim all 30 defendants were heard in the course of two days? That would give them about two minutes each to present their defense. Or can it be claimed all of the guilty were among the defendants?

You don’t have to be a defense lawyer to recognize a mockery of justice when you see one. There’s no way in hell 30 defendants were able to plead their case in two days. One fellow said his acquitted brother was at work during the assault. That is the kind of problem that comes up in trials & why justice requires time, witnesses, & evidence. An MP assigned by the government to observe the trial said she was dismayed by the acquittal of 18 defendants. “Even if there was no very clear evidence against them, they should be punished,” & she added, “As responsible citizens, how could they just watch a woman being killed by a group of men? It should be a lesson to others.” A court of law is not the same as Sunday school. If unarmed men stood there without intervening against mob violence, fear would easily explain that. The question is, why 19 armed policemen stood there.

The father of Farkhunda addressed the court before the verdicts where he claimed the man who drove over Farkhunda’s body with his car was arrested & then released. “We don’t accept today’s trial, it was unjust,” he told the court. “The main criminals have not been arrested.” Farkhunda’s family wants justice for their daughter, not a mockery & travesty.

The photo is an April 27th protest in Kabul chanting “We are all Farkhunda! We want justice.” We stand with them.

(Photo by Hedayatullah Amid/EPA)

Who let the dogs out!?

Ann Coulter has spoken again on racism in America. No wonder people around the world think we’re not all there. Coulter & Bill Maher are referred to as satirists. If you can call Charlie Hebdo that, why not these two whack-jobs? They’re all pioneering the neoliberal style of satire. It’s called “who let the dogs out.”

Emancipation US-style in Afghanistan

Afghan mosque and children (Souvid Datta) May 12 2015

Emancipation US-style: photojournalist Souvid Datta did an album of photos called “Contemporary Afghanistan.” Taken in Kabul, many appear to show affluent Afghans at play (like the man bowling at $35 a lane & kids playing on their X-box). But it also has photos of amputees from land mines learning to walk on their prosthetics at the Red Cross rehab center & these street children playing outside the Karte Sakhi mosque. Many of these kids survive by cleaning gravestones & shrines in the nearby cemetery.

Asciana, an orphanage that partners with the UN, reports the number of street children in Kabul nearly doubled between 2008 & 2014–from 37,000 to 70,000. You just can’t keep up with all the glories of US-NATO emancipation!

The artist statement with this album referred to “the backdrop of Afghanistan’s first & messy democratic transfer of power.” Is that what you call occupation? A “backdrop” & a “messy democratic transfer of power”?

Do a people that built this & other magnificent mosques & buildings going back centuries appear to need emancipation by drone? Do 70,000 homeless children testify to emancipation?

US-NATO out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq! No more phony withdrawals! Grab a placard, find a march & join it.

(Photo by Souvid Datta from August 2014)

Undocumented immigrants in Southeast Asia

Rohingya & Bangladeshi immigrants ( (Hamzah Osman:AP)_ May 12 2015

The headlines on this story are that smugglers in Southeast Asia abandoned 6,000 to 8,000 undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh & Rohingya refugees from Myanmar on overcrowded, rickety boats at sea & took off. So many unanswered questions. Like, did the smugglers swim to shore? How did they make their getaway?

As we can see in this photo, the refugees are very young; other photos show many women & children also. Media estimates range from 1,600 to 2,000 were rescued & brought to a “temporary immigration detention center” in Langkawi, Malaysia.

When we investigate & learn the boats were abandoned off the coast of Thailand all sorts of red alerts go off since there have long been reports of the Thai navy towing immigrant boats out to sea & leaving them.

According to the UN agency for immigration (IOM), smugglers are now reluctant to unload the boats in Thailand because in May 2014 the new military junta launched a crackdown on immigrants. They began by going after the estimated 150,000 Cambodians working in Thailand, more than half of them without papers. The IOM claimed 70,000 Cambodians fled across the Thai border but a Cambodian human rights group accused the Thai military of forcibly expelling them & deporting them in crowded trucks like livestock. Thousands of Pakistani immigrants were also arrested & deported.

According to an IOM official, the police crackdown on the Bangladeshi & Rohingya immigrants is because last week “dozens of human remains were found in abandoned camps” in the south of Thailand. Does that explanation make sense to anybody? Were they refugee camps? Are authorities accusing immigrants of mass murder & is the UN buying that? Because the greater likelihood is that Thai police or military were the killers as part of the crackdown on immigrants.

The UN & other human rights groups attribute the crackdown to the government of Thailand not ratifying the 1951 Refugee Convention & lacking laws concerning due process & refugee rights. The European Union & US are party to all those documents & that hasn’t stopped them from letting thousands drown in the Mediterranean or building a 50-foot wall on the southern US border.

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders!

(Photo by Hamzah Osman/AP)

The Democratic Party is a dead-end

When will Democratic Party voters get tired of being played for fools? That may be the question of questions in US politics. Just consider the issue of immigration rights. We’ve been through seven years of being jacked around by Obama where he makes promises he can’t keep for extending rights whilst he is deporting massive numbers back to their home countries & incarcerating thousands, including small children, in barbaric conditions.

Now Hillary Clinton, the very epitome of elitist & sweatshop politics, is trying to pull a fast one on immigration. In June of last year, she said unaccompanied minors from Central America should be deported back home. Last week, she told a group of undocumented high school students she would not only make the same empty promise Obama made to them for citizenship but she would extend the same empty promise to their parents.

It’s one thing for politicians to make promises they won’t keep. That’s the nature of their corruption. But it’s really quite another that people continue to fall for that crap like grasping for lifeboats. Working people need a party of our own that doesn’t look to shysters to save us. It’s no cause for cynicism about US voters. As we saw in the UK elections, things are rotten all over. But humanity has got to figure this leadership problem out & stop chasing every lying-assed & cooing politician. When you think of Hillary Clinton, you should think of Haiti as a sweatshop nation that her family is personally milking for all its worth & that should cure you of all reckless delusions.

Mothers and families demand justice for disappeared in Mexico

Mexico City mothers ( Pedro Mera:Xinhua Press:Corbis) May 11 2015

For the fourth year in a row now on Mother’s Day, the mothers & families of the disappeared in Mexico gather to protest in Mexico City. All of the media reports say the march is for the ‘25,000 people disappeared in Mexico over the past five years’. It’s not clear why they’re repeating those figures (25,000 over 5 years) since they don’t correspond to any of those published by reputable sources for the past many years. None of the sources (including Le Monde, Human Rights Watch, the LA Times) just grabbed an estimate out of the air; most of them claim they came from the Mexican government, including the Mexican military involved in a huge percentage of the disappearances. There are data banks & watchdog groups who collect this information.

The official estimates coming from the Mexican government are staggering. From the 2006-2012 regime of Felipe Calderón, there were over 26,000 disappeared cases where the police or military are directly implicated. It’s not certain (but it is unlikely) that the estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Central American immigrants disappeared every year crossing through Mexico are included in that figure. Estimates of outright murder under his regime range from 120,000 to 130,000.

Calderón is now serving an inaugural fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. When he left the presidency, he left a country reeling from military violence, kidnappings, extortions, beheadings, & human rights violations. Let it never be said under neoliberalism that mass murder ever held a person back. He/she will be feted in the Ivy League.

Calderón did not initiate mass murder & disappearances as a form of social control; it’s a long-time practice in Mexico & over 30 other countries. It isn’t just a means of getting rid of political dissidents but of terrorizing the public. The figures for the disappeared under the 2000 to 2006 regime of Vicente Fox are not readily available but the outright murder estimate is over 60,000 people.

Under the Peña Nieto regime since 2012, there is a new government statistical system which is being challenged by many human rights groups & watchdog agencies for underreporting. According to Proceso, the Mexican political journal, the rate of disappearances under Peña Nieto has more than doubled that under Calderón. Proceso claimed on average six people per day disappeared under Calderón & 13 people went missing in Mexico every day after Peña Nieto took office. Mexico’s missing persons registry (RNPED) reported that from his investiture as president in December 2012 until October 2014, 9,384 people had been disappeared.

Once again, the estimates are not just pulled out of the air. The detentions by security forces occur in victims’ homes in front of family members, at security checkpoints, at workplaces, or public venues like cafes & bars. When family members inquire at police stations, they are told the detentions never took place, the arrested had connections to organized crime, or ran off in a romantic liaison–& the government does nothing to find the missing. As in the case of the 43 Ayotzinapa students disappeared last September, there is direct involvement of the military.

Our fullest solidarity with the mothers & families demanding justice & the return of their beloved.

(Photo by Pedro Mera/Xinhua Press/Corbis)