Betty Windsor’s minions: the judges’ gallery in parliament

British judges at Betty's speech (Alastair Grant:WPA Pool: Getty Images) May 29 2015

This is the British judges’ gallery at Betty’s parliament speech. Thank heavens they aren’t handling the big questions like human & democratic rights wearing those silly wigs. Such a courtroom is no place for levity. These are the traffic & small claims court guys. The judicial hotshots get to sit right up close & personal to Betty. All the better to kiss her butt.

It must have been about parliament that Shakespeare wrote: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

(Photo by Alastair Grant/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Betty Windsor’s 2015 speech to parliament: more cutbacks, same sour puss

Betty May 2015 (Getty) May 29 2015

Betty’s gunning for somebody. She’s making her way here through all the toadies & minions that serve the Commonwealth to parrot a speech dictated by the Conservative government. You need a legal eagle to figure out what they proposed–except the part where there’ll be cutbacks for working people.

So if you total up the cost of the 2012 London Olympic games, the spectacle of the Diamond Jubilee with that flotilla up the Thames, & the pomp of this speech alone, it’s quite a bundle. The payroll costs must have been staggering–even though Betty is a notorious cheapskate. Reportedly the people she hires to brush her teeth & wipe her butt earn less than minimum wage. For the speech there were soldiers, yeomen, parliament staff, carriage drivers, a cavalry & horses, train bearers, & all that lost time for the parliament when they could have gone straight to slashing social services.

If Betty merely functions as a ventriloquist dummy for the oligarchy (to which she belongs), if she ostensibly can’t play a political role, what exactly is her function? Royalists believe that blue-blood stuff. Let them have their feudal fantasies. They’re not all there. But what’s with the liberals who say she’s worth her weight in tourist revenue? They could just as well hire re-enactment performers–thereby eliminating the flatulence problems of Phil, the personal scandals of that hapless lot, & they could come up with a Betty-double who would smile once in a while.

It’s so easy to be smug when you’re sitting in a post-feudal society but it’s getting harder all the time. Curtsying, kiss-ass, & other feudal practices have been brought back here big-time–led by our movie stars & politicians. Though for other countries the US regime seems to prefer skipping the regression to feudalism & going straight to slavery.

Speculations for why Betty is scowling here include the ching-ching of lost time she thinks better spent on her dole allowance.

(Photo from Getty)

Urban slums and the myth of overpopulation in Manila

Philippines Baseco district (Dennis M. Sebangan:EPA) May 29 2015

Manila, Philippines isn’t the most populous but it is considered the most densely populated city in the world based on the number of residents per land area. It has an estimated 15 million residents. Four to seven million Manila residents live in filthy, squalid slums often built in disaster zones vulnerable to tropical storms & typhoons.

Some observers look at the squalor & conclude Manila has an overpopulation problem. In their jeremiads they explain that megacities (those with over 10 million people) are springing up all over the globe in “developing countries.” In 1985, there were only nine & today there are at least 26.

Marinated in the ethos of capitalism, they see humanity engaged in a competition for land, food, water, & fuel & they attribute environmental disaster & endemic disease to all those babies.
They’re not particularly insightful observers or they would question: Why did this problem become so massive in the eighties? How did the population of Manila grow from 1.6 million in 1950 to 7 million in 1985 & now to 15 million? Are the Filipinos having that much sex?
Nor does it ever dawn on some of these observers that it is absolutely outrageous for privileged white people to take a tour of slums anywhere & conclude there are just too many black & brown babies.

Of course all that alarmism takes them nowhere. What could they possibly propose to solve the overpopulation of poor people? Do we need another “modest proposal” like that of Jonathan Swift to get rid of too many poor Irish babies by plumping them up as livestock to serve on the tables of English aristos? He meant it sarcastically, of course; they took it for good coin & thought it a worthy proposal.
The growth of cities is a problem. The dispossession of farmers & rural working people & scorched earth policies of neoliberal economics are a bigger problem–at least for the poor. Manila also has one of the highest slum eviction programs in the world because the oligarchs are trying to gentrify the place to put in swanky resorts & mega-malls. The real estate developers are making a killing–at the expense of all those babies.

Of course the Catholic church’s proscription of birth control is a problem among Catholic Filipinos. It’s a problem everywhere. Because, just like the population control freaks, it cuts across women’s right to control their own reproductive lives. But to endorse population control programs rooted in racist eugenics rather than in women’s rights (involving prenatal care, postnatal care, pediatric care, women’s health care, etc.) is putting yourself in the camp of neoliberal racism & misogyny & siding with the filthy rich against the poor.

These little kids are from the Baseco district near the Manila Bay. As charming as the little snot-nosed boy is, he likely has health problems. It’s a particularly squalid slum with high rates of infectious disease like TB & pneumonia, cholera, dengue fever. It’s frequently targeted for evictions & torching & often hit by typhoons. If you look at their lives & cry “overpopulation” rather than demand a program of public housing or an end to dispossession, ‘you might be a redneck’ & not a progressive at all.

The kids are mugging for the camera while demolition crews move in to dismantle their homes.

(Photo from December 2012 by Dennis M. Sabangan/EPA)

Once again on the militarization of the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean

Afghan refugee in Greece (AP Photo:Thanassis Stavrakis) May 29 2015

This is an Afghan refugee trying to hide on a truck bound from Greece to Italy. The caption to the photo read that the EU “wants to launch a security operation in the Mediterranean to eliminate the trafficking operations.” They, of course, will not be torpedoing African immigrants in the western part of the Mediterranean while leaving Afghan, Syrian, & others get into Europe through Greece. The crackdown & militarization of this crisis will include the eastern Mediterranean.

Truth of the matter is, there is no resolution to this tsunami of human suffering & dislocation as long as the US & European countries are bombing & occupying several countries, arming tyrannical regimes, imposing draconian economic, social, & political policies that make life unbearable for millions of people. It’s not possible to simply manage this situation which is exactly why the EU is resorting to the insanity of a military operation. It’s why they allowed thousands of immigrants to simply drown without lifting a damn finger.

There are arguments up the wazoo explaining why European countries are unable to handle & integrate the massive numbers of immigrants–beginning with the strain it will put on social services. Well that’s just too damn bad. Because if European regimes hadn’t cooperated in US wars, meddled to undermine the Arab uprisings, & if European corporations weren’t milking African countries dry of their natural resources, there wouldn’t be this massive dislocation.

But let’s get real here. As we know from Betty Windsor’s recent speech to the British parliament & from protests all over Europe now going back nearly a decade, austerity for all working people is the neoliberal gestalt of the day. It’s a replay of that “let ’em eat cake” thing. Only worse. Refugees can’t strain social services that just barely exist.

The problem isn’t refugees. The problem is neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, where oligarchs finally have us where they want us–fighting over crumbs, treated like trash, working like slaves.

The great problem for humanity is figuring out the most effective strategies to end this tyranny before this tyranny ends us.
In the meanwhile, immigration is a human right. Open the damn borders.

(Photo by Thanassis Stavrakis/AP)

Purple rain spray from apartheid in South Africa to Indian occupation in Kashmir

Srinagar (EPA:FAROOQ KHAN) May 29 2015

It wouldn’t be a protest of Kashmiri government workers if Indian police weren’t assaulting them with purple rain from water cannons. Purple rain was first used against protesters in apartheid South Africa in 1989 but is now used by riot cops in several countries. The chemicals which are toxic are used primarily to identify protesters for arrest.

Year after year, these workers have been protesting despite extreme violence, tear gas, purple rain, & other assaultive weapons. They are demanding the regularization of their jobs from contractual day work. Indian police arrested dozens today. There are no reports on the number injured.

Perhaps those from Kashmir can elaborate on this & other struggles.
Our fullest respect & solidarity.

(Photo by Farooq Khan/EPA)