European Union naval operations against African immigrants: not search and rescue but deterrent of immigration

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These young men are immigrants picked up by a Belgian naval vessel just off the Libyan coast in what the European Union (EU) euphemistically calls “a search & rescue mission” as part of naval operations to stop immigration from Africa. We should be grateful they still feel constrained from torpedoing immigrant boats since they did not hesitate for years to let thousands drown.

Libya is such a hell of a mess after the US-NATO war that the air force commander of one of Libya’s two governments warned the EU that vessels entering Libyan waters without permission would be hit with air strikes. But with two rival regimes & two opposing armies in Libya, who does the EU get permission from? The regime they recognized because they thought they could bargain with it? Or the other one? So much for emancipation US-NATO style!

The EU is hiding its assault on immigrants by claiming it’s to combat “people-traffickers”–as though it were a sophisticated smuggling operation rather than primarily fishermen. In order to operate in Libyan waters without permission, the EU has appealed to the UN for one of its Security Council resolutions–the kind it uses to legitimize all sorts of atrocities. But the UN can’t figure out which Libyan regime to let the EU bomb.

That means the EU for now feels some constraint & isn’t bombing the immigrants though it is trying to figure out a way to return them to Libya. The problem for both regimes in Libya is that they don’t want the immigrants launching from their shores. They have enough problems on their hands managing the mess of US-NATO emancipation.

Our fullest solidarity with the refugees. Immigration is a human right. Open the borders.

(Photo by Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Homeless in Manila, Philippines

Homeless in Manila ( NOEL CELIS:AFP:Getty Images) June 28 2015

There’s a poem by William Butler Yeats that says:
“Come away, O human child!
To the waters & the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

It’s a lovely poem but we can’t wait for faeries to address the problems presented for children under neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. This tiny little child sleeping in an underpass in Manila could not be more vulnerable nor his needs more urgent.

The caption to the photo said “The Philippines’ roaring economy cooled in the first quarter of the year as the impacts of Super Typhoon Haiyan & other natural disasters hit harder than expected.” Who was the economy roaring for? Certainly not the tens of thousands of slum dwellers being burned & bulldozed out of their homes to make room for gentrification–nor for the 1.5 million homeless street children.

Nice touch to blame homelessness among children on natural disasters. What natural disasters would those be? Is that how social scientists now define neoliberalism?

There are no rescue faeries coming. Human beings have to clean up this mess ourselves. We owe it to our beautiful children. May they not forgive us if we don’t measure up to the historic task.

(Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump the piñata-head: more intelligent than the original

Trump pinata June 29 2015

Let it never be said Mexicans have no sense of humor despite being vilified as criminals & rapists by the likes of Donald Trump. It could be said, they’re having the last laugh on that fool–& not just by sale of piñatas with his potato-head. Would that racist outbreaks were always met with such swift justice.

NBC, like Univision the Spanish-language network, severed all business relations with him & will not be airing the annual Miss USA & Miss Universe pageants. He will also not be participating in his signature show, The Celebrity Apprentice.

Donald Trump won’t soon be sent on sensitive diplomatic missions to foreign countries. One could say he just shot himself in the ass with his racist comments about Mexicans. But despite being fired from Univision & now NBC, he will still be running for president. The world waits with bated breath to see what other idiocies lurk in the heart of the man.

(Photo of Trump & Trump-piñata; can you guess which is which?)

IMF austerity putting Greek working people through hell

Greek pensioners at ATM (Getty) June 29 2015

It’s wrenching to see what Greek working people are going through. Greece’s current austerity program expires tomorrow. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras rejected ultimatums from the IMF, European Central Bank, & creditors & has called a July 5th referendum about whether to accept or reject the terms of the austerity package calling for higher taxes, pension cuts, & other public service cuts. Today, tens of thousands of Greeks protested against more cutbacks.

Pensioners have been lining up at ATM machines for withdrawals since pensions are paid at the end of the month. The government closed the banks for several days to avoid a run on the banks & compound the catastrophe–so seniors were unable to withdraw their pensions. As anyone on inadequate pensions knows, that means being unable to eat for several more days.

Standing resolute against the ruthless bloodsuckers is admirable but not the less unsettling & scary to go through–especially for pensioners & those with kids. Rent still has to be paid & food bought. Defying the terms of exploitation is the beginning of a historic process & the unraveling of the European Union. But for working people who live hand-to-mouth it’s hell to go through. Our fullest solidarity with our Greek brothers & sisters.

(Photo of anxious pensioners at ATM machine from Reuters)

What’s up with U.S. socialists!?

Alice Bach & I are the only socialists running for president & vice president 2016. The only option to voting for us is voting Democrats or not voting at all. There are all different kinds of socialists–including types like Bernie Sanders. Alice & I come from different socialist traditions but we have plenty of agreements on the most important questions & are running to present generally how socialists see things.

We want people to hear how we view the emerging civil rights movement, immigration rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, Palestinian solidarity & BDS, workers’ rights, sweatshop economics, the environment, US-NATO wars. There isn’t a single Democratic candidate that comes close to us in active commitment to justice. Between us, we probably have close to 100 years of activism.

Someone should explain to the way too many US socialists who decline even “liking” our Facebook campaign wall that they don’t have to endorse everything we say but if they want to participate in the US election, we’re the only game in town, the only principled option for socialists.

We aren’t going to win or lose without that support. But with it, we can reach more people in the US with our ideas. It means opening up more venues where Alice & I can address activists, promote social justice, & talk to young people about the possibilities for socialism.
Factional distinctions or splitting hairs on doctrinal matters at such a time is a shabby, politically paltry way of operating if you want to make this world a suitable place for human beings to live & you’re willing to work with anyone to accomplish that. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

Obama nails that “wretched like me” stuff in Amazing Grace

I’m certainly not the only one who has a hard time listening to Obama. He’s a wooden speaker & I’ve never understood where he got his spellbinding orator reputation. But I listened to most of his eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. The part I liked best was his rendition of “Amazing Grace.” He really nailed that “wretched like me” part. Pardon my bluntness, but a man who’s done nothing about violence against the Black community & conducts racist wars overseas has no right to eulogize a victim of racist violence.

Islamophobia pervasive on US television

Islamophobia is becoming pervasive in TV dramas–along with glorification of the military & CIA. Vampires, living dead creatures, & other hobgoblin things are big too. At least that’s so on the networks since I don’t have cable TV.

Yesterday, one drama had two young suicide bombers (one named Omar & the other a Black kid) who were controlled by an older vengeful terrorist. They make no attempts whatsoever to be subtle in their message.

Many people eschew TV as lowbrow entertainment but not everybody wants to watch a Shakespeare play to relax. There’s actually lots of fun stuff to watch but we’d like it to not be a brainwashing forum.

Trump dumped by Univision

Is it wrong to take so much delight in Donald Trump’s latest fiasco? The dumb-ass called Mexican immigrants drug traffickers & rapists just weeks before Univision, the immense Spanish-language network in the US, was scheduled to telecast the Miss USA pageant, half-owned by Trump. They dumped the Trump & severed all business relations with him.

Rather than leave bad enough alone, Trump went on the offensive: “They don’t want me saying that Mexico is killing the United States in trade & killing the United States at the border. Univision is totally laying down for the Mexican government. … They want to silence Donald Trump. And Donald Trump can’t be silenced.” And therein lies the problem.

But let our man keep talking because every time he opens his trap he weakens the US empire just a little bit more.

Bree Newsome takes direct action to remove ugly-assed Confederate flag

Bree Newsome (Adam Anderson:Reuters) June 28 2015

Bree Newsome, a Black Lives Matter activist from North Carolina, scaled the 30-foot flag pole in front of the South Carolina state capital building yesterday & removed the Confederate flag.

She & James Tyson, her accomplice in this magnificent act of defiance, were both arrested & the flag was re-hoisted. Under South Carolina law it has rights after all. To assuage activists demanding the damn thing be removed after the murder of nine worshippers last week, state officials called for its removal but that proposal must be approved by two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the South Carolina legislature, a confederacy of dunces.…/bree-newsome-takes-down-the-confederate-f…

(Photo by Adam Anderson/Reuters)

Solidarity with Bangladeshi ship yard workers

Bangladeshi ship yard workers (Mike Hettwer) June 27 2015

This photo of Bangladeshi ship breakers is from a May 2014 pictorial in National Geographic magazine. The caption read “Oblivious to the risk of lung cancer, workers fend off the nighttime chill by burning a pipe gasket likely containing asbestos.” Now there they go again–assuming working people are stupid. If that were so, they wouldn’t have to employ such violent repression against them. They wouldn’t have to stack the courts & laws against organizing unions for self-protection. They wouldn’t have to torture & kill idealistic & inspired union organizers, as they do.

It’s more likely these young workers know from decades of injury, occupational illness, death exactly what’s gonna kill them but they feel they have no recourse right now. South Asia is the ship breaking capital of the world. It’s where Europe sends its old ships for demolition because labor costs are dirt cheap. It’s another rendition of sweatshop economics.

The US labor movement has the resources to show some solidarity & strengthen union organizing in the ship yards & sweatshops of Bangladesh but they have their heads stuck up the asses of the CIA & US State Department & play a pernicious role instead.

Transforming the US labor movement, which is now fund raising from the likes of George Soros, is fundamental to strengthening the labor movement in Bangladesh & elsewhere–or at least getting a noose off their necks. If you want to know what Soros does to unionism, take a look at what he’s done to unions in Zimbabwe & immigration rights groups in the US. It’ll make your hair stand on end.

Our fullest solidarity & respect for our brothers in the ship yards of Bangladesh.

(Photo by Mike Hettwer)