Refugees to Greece increase nearly 8,000 people in two days

UNHCR chart

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has been keeping a daily count of refugees in the Mediterranean. FRONTEX, the EU policing agency against immigrants & refugees, also keeps a count but admits it’s completely unreliable. On Friday, the UN agency said 50,668 refugees had entered Greece so far this year; today they report 58,547–almost 8,000 people more in two days. The drowning toll is now 309 people, including children.

Now here’s what’s curious: the number of refugees from the north African coast to Italy hasn’t changed in that same time. What’s more curious is that the number has remained steady at only 3,850 people. So little information, so many questions. Like how has FRONTEX stopped the movement of refugees from Africa? Are refugees still drowning on that route? What about the refugee centers on Lampedusa & Malta? What about those trying to cross to Spain from Morocco? Has the Spanish government’s new security law clamping down on democratic rights & on refugees put an end to that movement of refugees?

Shouldn’t the UN refugee agency be more forthcoming, more informative? Maybe they don’t give a damn about those refugees, but we do.

(Photo is graphic from UNHCR chart)

No fools like old fools for lesser evil politics: Chomsky & Cornel West Endorse Bernie Sanders

Yes, it’s regrettably true that Cornel West & Noam Chomsky have both endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. There’s a lot you could say about that but let it suffice to say, shame on them for lacking any sense of political principles when it comes to elections. They both influence a lot of people & are modeling the politics of compromise & corruption.

What about Palestinians? What about immigrants & refugees? What about those US wars? What about standing with those on the receiving end of US treachery even during elections?

Let them not again cry foul, we’ve been fooled, when the new Democrat turns out to be just like the old.

Hillary Clinton, Haim Saban & the corruption of US electoral politics

Sabans & H. Clinton 2003

Despite the corruption of Hillary Clinton & her political & financial entanglements with Wall Street, she is playing the populist card like a virtuoso. That’s what you get when a campaign is orchestrated by PR firms. It’s a debasement of politics that citizens are treated like consumers rather than citizens in a democratic republic.

Clinton knows how this country is run better than any other candidate. That’s not a recommendation but a condemnation. She understands what the issue of Israel means to the geopolitical schemes of those who really run this country. Israel is a touchstone for US foreign policy because it is the linchpin to US control over the Middle East. What is at stake is not just oil but democracy in the entire region. Bankrolling & arming Israel against Palestinians & the tyrannous Arab regimes against their own citizens is not an episodic feature of US policy but the heart of its colonial policies involving the CIA, coups, occupations, wars. That’s why Clinton is the chosen candidate of Zionist ideologues in the US.

One of those ideologues is billionaire media mogul Haim Saban, a guy with dual Israeli-US citizenship. Saban owns Univision, the largest Spanish-language network in the US; Fusion, a TV channel, as a joint venture with Disney; The Root, a well-established Black news website; & he has just purchased The Onion, the satiric website.

Media commentators claim Saban’s purchase of these news sources is to broaden appeal to “millennials” & to become more multicultural. Such commentators are playing stupid about Saban’s motives which he does not disguise. He boasts that he’s a one-issue guy: Israel. He’s explained without an ounce of coyness that his strategy to influence American politics includes three things: political donations, establishing think tanks, & controlling media sources. It’s a three-pronged approach, not mutually exclusive.

Saban wants Clinton elected president because he knows that as president of the US she will be as committed to Israel as she was while NY senator & US Secretary of State & as committed as Bill Clinton was during his tenure in the White House. That’s why Saban has donated millions to Clinton’s campaign, to the Democratic Party, & to the Clinton Foundation. It’s called buying influence–& it should be illegal because it violates every standard of democracy & electoral integrity.

In September 2014, the New York Times published an investigative report about how foreign countries buy political influence through Washington think tanks. One of the most influential think tanks in Washington is the Brookings Institute. Saban is not only a trustee for Brookings but in 2002 he founded the Saban Center for Middle East Policy as an adjunct to the institute.

But the plot sickens & Saban’s connections to the Clintons & to US foreign policy are exposed as a labyrinth of deceits. Martin Indyk is the vice president & Director for Foreign Policy at Brookings. Indyk’s resume includes deputy research director for AIPAC (the Israeli lobby); US ambassador to Israel under Bill Clinton; Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs under Bill Clinton; US Special Envoy for the fraudulent 2013-2014 Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under the Obama administration.

Lesser evil voters have to confront this reality & of course the problem is, given the undemocratic way US elections are set up, they have no place to go to choose a candidate based on political principles–especially Palestinian solidarity. It’s a dilemma & the only way to solve it is to eschew lesser-evilism & to do what Eugene Victor Debs said: ‘vote for what you want & not get it rather than vote for you don’t want & get it.’

This photo from 2003 is Clinton, then senator from NY, with Cheryl & Haim Saban at the dedication of the Saban Research Institute of Childrens Hospital in LA. Their nefarious connections go back a long way, This is what influence peddling looks like, not what democracy looks like.

(Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage)

Bernie Sanders campaign exposes fault lines of lesser evil politics

I’m taken aback by the number of committed Palestinian supporters promoting Bernie Sanders . It’s tough to come to grips with but you can’t have it both ways in politics. You can’t do lesser-evil if it means supporting a candidate who will maintain the status quo of support for Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing. At some point political principles have to prevail over an expedience that gets you nowhere.

If you don’t know what to do with a wasted vote for Sanders or Clinton, use the political energy to build BDS & the antiwar movement.

One of the arts of politics is knowing when to save your breath

Many may think we should engage in discussions with the anti-immigration crowd & other right-wingers who come to my wall, usually over issues of racism & immigration. But one of the arts of politics is knowing when to save your breath.

You can’t reason people out of deeply held prejudices & idiocies; you can’t talk them down from racism & hate. I tried to do that for years until I understood reason was insufficient. The haters just use those go-arounds to hone their epithetical skills & you work your adrenalin into a lather for nothing.

That’s what social movements & power politics are all about. Political power, like civil rights & women’s rights movements, can teach overnight what years of debates can’t get through thick skulls.

I’m a great respecter of discussions that go somewhere & among those who share a common vision of human solidarity. Intellectual wrangling & pissing contests with right-wingers is not that.

Racism is a venomous cesspool

Racism is profoundly irrational, taking human consciousness to a place akin to hell where hatred & fear create a cesspool of venom. It’s scary stuff & leads to monstrous crimes. Before the US civil rights movement in the 1960s, it was embedded in the culture. It still is, but is more discreetly expressed, even if less venomous.

Often, on Zionist walls on Facebook, you can see that same kind of stuff we know so well from KKK rantings. It makes you feel ashamed, as if you came acrosssomeone in the act of violence.

On Donovan’s wall, many Palestinian supporters thanked him for canceling his concert in Israel. Apparently some Israel supporters thought Donovan was Irish (he is Scottish) & unleashed not only racist vituperations against Palestinians but against the Irish. It’s so politically amiss to demonize supporters of Israel because we hope to win them over. But some of them will always remain lost causes & you know that by the strength of their hatred. They won’t be coming back from the brink of hell. Teaching hatred is the crying shame of Zionism.

This is one comment directed at me which illustrates why Palestinian supporters, whose cause is justice, should always use the language of justice & not of social hatred: “Mary Scully YOU are Irish. So haul your ass back to Ireland but before you go, please give every effing penny you scraped to the tribes of America that you stain with your ignorance for native people. Get on you knees & beg forgiveness for the beatings & beard burnings committed by your grandparents against Jews. Explode yourself in an Irish pub & kill a few.”

Just as a postscript, I’m no more Irish than Jews are Israelis. My ancestry left Ireland & Germany a long time ago. It’s been a long time since Tipperrary.

European countries going barbaric on refugees

Canakkale, Turkey:refugees ( Ozan Kose:AFP:Getty Images) Jan 29 2016

The news about refugees becomes more gruesome by the day. These are refugees waiting at Canakkale, Turkey for a raft to Lesbos, Greece. The UN count of January arrivals in Greece is 50,668 to date. Media reported yesterday that 25, including 10 children, had drowned when their raft capsized. Just this month alone, 236 have drowned. Some were reported burning their life vests in a bonfire to keep warm.

EU officials are pressuring Greece to do more to stop the movement of refugees. The Greek coast guard was already spotted disabling rafts in mid-sea. Is that the kind of proactive refugee policy being demanded? Or does the EU want the Greek military to just shoot them as they come ashore?

EU officials are also in Turkey trying to get the regime to honor the agreement they hammered out in November to stop the movement of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, & elsewhere. In return for 3 billion euros (USD$3.2 billion), visa-free travel for Turks within Europe, & renewed talks about Turkey entering the EU, Turkey was supposed to have tighter, more militarized border controls & naval patrols. There were news reports of Turkish coast guard boats disabling refugee rafts mid-sea. But apparently the EU hasn’t come up with the dough they promised so Turkey is not in full compliance with the agreement. The EU is looking more like a mafia operation than a governmental contraption.

Tuesday, the Danish parliament, following the lead of Switzerland, approved a law allowing refugees to be searched on arrival in the country & their cash & belongings confiscated if they have value over 10,000 kroner (£1,000) (USD$1,449) & ‘have no sentimental value to their owner.’ Who decides what has sentimental value? The justification for the Nazi tactics is to reimburse the government for the expense of processing refugees.

For decades, Scandinavian countries have managed to elude criticism despite deep involvement in military manufacturing & now in military operations in Syria & Iraq. Sweden had an international reputation for respecting human rights & accepting asylum seekers, including US conscientious objectors of the draft during the Vietnam War. But that’s about to change. Last week, Norway began deporting refugees to Russia through the Arctic. Finland is going to deport 20,000 of the 32,000 refugees it accepted in 2015 & Sweden announced it will reject the asylum applications & deport 80,000 of the 160,000 it accepted last year. The question is, where will they deport them to? Back to the war zones they came from?

The US, which is leading the military carnage in Syria & Iraq, has accepted less than 3,000 Syrian refugees since 2012. And there’s an even bigger problem that is not noted. Of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, the majority are Syrian. But there are hundreds of thousands of refugees who are Afghan, Pakistani, Palestinians from refugee camps in Syria (denied entrance to Jordan), from several African countries (where the US is involved militarily & economically), & others. What about them? Have any of them been given asylum?

The refugee crises all over this planet highlight the growing barbarism of neoliberalism which has no respect for national boundaries or sovereignty when it comes to plunder & war but then puts up the barricades when it comes to human rights. For working people, that doesn’t work.

It is more imperative than ever to rebuild the international antiwar movement & to demand that refugees from war & poverty be given every respect & right due under international law & every measure of human civilization. Open the damn borders, stop stealing from refugees, & end the deportations!

(Photo by Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

No media coverage of US wars

Herat, Afghanistan (Aref Karimi:AFP:Getty Images) Jan 29 2016

Nothing will ever make us long for the ‘good old days’ of war correspondence with Lara Logan, the embedded & Islamophobic CBS reporter who acted like a cheerleader for US wars or with Richard Engels, the sycophantic NBC war correspondent. There was no distinction between their reports & press releases from the Pentagon. Does either network even have a correspondent covering any of the many wars now? Because there is almost no real news.

This photo is an example of war correspondence in the era of news blackouts & barbarism. The caption reads: “Herat, Afghanistan–A man walks with his cow at sunset.” Golly it’s bucolic. But what about those US bombers?

This photojournalist, Aref Karimi, was born in Herat & works as a stringer for AFP & as a freelancer for The Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post & World Press. He has photos covering the war but media does this bucolic stuff instead.

Karimi is part of an Afghan photography initiative. In their ‘about’ statement, they said, “When the Taliban came to power they did not allow any depiction of living beings. In fact, since 1996 they banned most photography altogether. The Taliban even went so far as to alter advertisements or signs that showed human & animal heads. After the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, press restrictions were gradually relaxed & private media grew, but photographers & journalists in the new Afghanistan operate in one of the world’s most complex & contested information environments. Insurgents, NATO forces & the Afghan government are competing to control the dominant storyline. At times, the lines between propaganda, intelligence & journalism blur.”

A “complex & contested information environment” where you can’t tell the difference between propaganda, surveillance, & journalism. That’s the same thing they report in Kashmir & why we know so little about the Indian occupation. Actually it sounds a lot like czarist Russia or the USSR under Stalin.

Break the news barrier & demand US out of Afghanistan, Syria, & Iraq.

(Photo by Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images)

Justin Trudeau & Canadian warplanes in the Middle East

Justin Trudeau

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau made quite a display of greeting Syrian refugees at the airport last month. Good for him, but under international law he has an obligation to do so, even if other countries flout that obligation. Has international law become so degraded now that it’s a feather in their cap when some political figure actually complies with them?

In October 2014, former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper deployed troops, including special forces, & six fighter jets as part of the US-led bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria & Iraq. In October 2015, Trudeau, fulfilling a campaign promise that got him elected, announced he would withdraw the warplanes but did not set a date for the withdrawal. The planes are scheduled for deployment until March 2016. Apparently the planes are still there on bombing missions. How long does it take to pull them out? Presumably no longer than the eleven hours it takes to fly from Damascus to Ottawa. So why are they still there? Do we have another case like Obama of Mr. Hope & Change not delivering on his promises?

Trudeau does plan on leaving ground troops in the region ‘to do their part against ISIS.’ If things go like they usually do with pretty boy politicians, if & when those planes are withdrawn, it will only be a matter of time before an excuse is found to redeploy them. How many times now has our own Mr. Hope & Change announced withdrawal of troops in Iraq & Afghanistan? But for the people of the region, it remains a killing field.

The historic imperative remains: rebuild the international antiwar movement. No troops, no bombers from any country in the Middle East! Out now!

(Photo is Trudeau, Mr. Hope & Change of the North)

A postscript: after the photo ops, Trudeau announced Canada was narrowing criteria for refugee claimants due to security concerns & cost of screening & thus would only be resettling 10,000 by the end of 2015 rather than the 25,000 pledged.

Facebook & its interrogations: now they want to know who I am

Facebook has apparently tired of asking me to write a bio without any response & is now asking me to “Describe Who You Are.” The existential question: who am I? How the hell do I know!? I’m not that deep that I actually want to answer that.

But let me give FB an answer so they’ll leave me alone. Those who I block think I’m intolerant; most others just wish I had fewer opinions. Me? I’m grateful to FB for introducing me to so many lovely people all over the world.

Now enough with the introspection.