El Chapo & Sean Penn: there’s something not quite right in this story

Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, El Chapo & Sean Penn

There’s something not quite right when a Hollywood movie star can find drug lord El Chapo hiding in Mexico & the combined force of the US Drug Enforcement Agency & Mexican Federal Police cannot. Maybe that’s because international drug trafficking is a multi-trillion operation involving law enforcement, the CIA, banks, & governments–including both the Mexican & US governments. Those aren’t reckless assertions. There are decades of evidential material, litigation, high-level investigations, & research. “The Politics of Heroin” by Alfred W. McCoy, first published in 1972, remains the standard analysis of how it’s all interwoven.

El Chapo is known for making his tale of rise to drug lord a maudlin rags to riches story. There’s too much brutality & homicide involved to tug at my heart strings. Lots of people grow up dirt poor in Mexico but most don’t become killing machines & drug peddlers justifying social devastation because life was tough when you were a kid. That’s the antisocial way of doing things. Most people even from the worst of circumstances try to make their lives worth while & not a social scourge.

It’s not clear, at least to me, where El Chapo fits into high-level drug trafficking or if he’ll make his third escape from a high-security prison. But if the charges against him stick this time & they can keep him locked up, it’s only because he’s outworn his usefulness or has become competition in the high stakes game of international drug trafficking.

(Photo of Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, El Chapo & Sean Penn from Rolling Stone)

Media deceptions about Indian military kidnapping & disappearance of young men in Kashmir

Kashmiri parents of disappeared rally  (AP Photo:Mukhtar Khan) Jan 10 2-16

Editors are not writing a book when they caption a news photo but they are reporting news & ought to offer a coherent explanation of what’s in the photo. After identifying these women as relatives of “missing Kashmiri youth” attending a rally yesterday, the editors said according to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) who organized the rally, “more than 8,000 people have allegedly disappeared in the conflict-ridden Himalayan territory.”

It’s a damn good thing we know what’s going on otherwise we might be left to wonder why so many young people are disappearing. Are they just walking off into the sunset? Are they running away from home? Are they running off to join the circus or see the world? Why is it alleged? Do they think the kids could be hiding out somewhere? Is there some reason to suspect the parents are lying & in fact their kids are home watching television? And what’s with the “conflict-ridden Himalayan territory”? Is it “conflict-ridden” because kids just can’t get along with their parents? Are these Kashmiris a testy, irascible lot who can’t get along with each other?

It isn’t pedantry to ask editors for coherence when 8,000 young people have disappeared. As a news agency it’s their responsibility to lay out essential information without blowing smoke or talking riddles.

The caption should have said: ‘These women grieving the kidnapping & disappearance of their kids by the occupying Indian military are protesting at the monthly APDP rally in Srinagar. More than 8,000 have been disappeared since 1989 & the protesters are demanding answers.’ Turns out the truth doesn’t take any more space than blowing smoke.

(Photo by Mukhtar KhanAP)

The Indian occupation of Kashmir: high intensity barbarism

Kashmiri APDP calendar

The Indian occupation of Kashmir is often called a “low intensity conflict,” a military concept that came into vogue in the 1980s during US wars in Central America. It wasn’t really a new way of waging war but a military public relations gimmick devised to circumvent massive international antiwar sentiment prevailing from the Vietnam War. That opposition called the “Vietnam Syndrome” was considered a pathology that needed to be overcome & such gimmicks were part of that.

There’s no way in hell over 700,000 Indian troops in Kashmir with a population of 4 million people can be considered low intensity warfare any more than US use of Israeli-armed death squads & proxy guerrilla forces were in Central America. The only military element that seems to be missing is aerial bombing. By that definition, the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem & the West Bank are also low intensity conflicts–though not of course Gaza. There’s nothing low intensity for those subjected daily to occupation & barbarisms like extrajudicial executions, torture, mass rapes, mass incarcerations without due process, an estimated 70,000 murdered, & thousands kidnapped & disappeared by Indian forces.

One of the most active political forces in Kashmir is the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) co-founded in 1995 & led by Parveena Ahangar, known as “the iron lady of Kashmir” for her fearless & steely determination mobilizing family members of the disappeared. Ahangar, who was married quite young & has no formal education, became an activist in 1990 when her 17-year-old son Javed Ahmad Ahangar was picked up by the Indian army during a night raid & disappeared.

The APDP estimates that between 8,000 & 10,000 have been disappeared in Kashmir since 1989. They hold monthly rallies in Srinagar demanding the Indian government cease this monstrous practice & answer for those arrested, tortured, murdered, & dumped in unmarked mass graves. They recently released a 2016 calendar with sketches for each month showcasing one of the young men disappeared. The photo here is three pages from that calendar.

The APDP was part of The International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights & Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (ITPK) which issued a report titled “Buried Evidence” about their investigation between November 2006 & November 2009 of 2,700 unmarked mass graves. It’s an absolutely gruesome report where the investigators report being intimidated & threatened by Indian military personnel; were refused access to entire districts to examine unmarked graves; were unable to identify many bodies because of evidence of disfiguring torture; interviewed gravediggers commandeered by the Indian military who remained traumatized at what they witnessed & were forced to do. The ITPK interviewed community people who saw bodies thrown in rivers & found evidence that many disappeared were transported to places like Gujarat in India proper & executed & buried there.

The Kashmiri struggle for self-determination is vilified by Indian government claims that foreign militants & terrorists are crossing the border & infiltrating, especially from Pakistan. They use this to justify summary executions & explain away the numbers of those in unmarked graves. Even if they were foreign operatives, whatever happened to due process? The idiocy of the claim is exposed by the presence of 700,000 military personnel not against foreign militants but against the Kashmiri people.

The investigation found that most victims of disappearance were men & young boys & found only a few women victims. It’s a particular form of social control & malignancy that targets males to terrify & leave vulnerable children & women. What’s remarkable is that Kashmiri women have been so steely in standing up against mass rapes by the Indian military (as another form of social control) & against disappearances.

Our deepest respect & fullest solidarity with the struggle for self-determination in Kashmir.

For those who would like to read the ITPK report:http://www.kashmirprocess.org/…/g…/BuriedEvidenceKashmir.pdf

(Photo of 2016 APDP calendar from Hindustan Times)

What happens if this socialist wins the lottery

The Powerball draw is going to be $1.5 billion this coming Wednesday & I bought myself a two buck ticket. I’m gonna come clean with you. If I win I’ll send all those who like my posts a couple thousand bucks each. But that won’t be till I get back from a long shopping spree in Rome & a vacation in St. Tropez.

Those of you who never like my posts can just hang it up with dreaming for some largesse. I’m a vengeful woman–growing more so as I age. And it’ll be too late to make up for lost “likes.”

What will I do with the $1.4 billion left after my shopping spree? My commitments won’t change, I assure you, but my manner of honoring them will be much lazier–involving mostly a check book. My marching days will be over while I try to finesse my way into the ruling class despite my FBI dossier.

Bernie Sanders: left shill for the Democratic Party

A Facebook friend reposted my criticism of the left shill position in the Democratic Party, now taken up by Bernie Sanders. All of the presidential candidates are so dreadful that he looks almost tolerable in comparison.

The politics of expedience & resignation to the status quo say ‘well you have to vote for somebody so it may as well be Sanders as the lesser of evils.’ That might work if in fact he differed in the fundamentals–which he does not. So I’m reposting my criticism too because if we’re ever going to change things we should at least understand how the electoral process plays us for fools.

You live long enough, you see these left shills for the Democratic Party (DP) come & go & eventually exit the political stage to the right–just as they were meant to do in the shell game of a two-party electoral system. The list of shills is endless from Eugene McCarthy to Bernie Sanders. Their sole function is to rope in broad progressive forces uncomfortable that the DP is indistinguishable in practice from the Republicans–but not uncomfortable enough to reject the entire shell game.

None of these shills are prize packages because electoral history shows it doesn’t take much to rope in the credulous. But Sanders is surely among the least inspiring. Oh let’s not beat around the bush. His politics are absolutely awful. But what his campaign has done is expose the fault line in US politics, that profound chasm between provincials who care only about paychecks & interest rates in the US & those who refuse to privilege Americans over people anywhere else on this planet.

It’s an iron law of politics that the first sign of a socialist going sour is they turn their backs on other peoples as of no consequence in comparison to US economic advantages. And in the long run, because those so-called progressives can’t think beyond their W-2 forms, the paychecks shrink & the wars grow more ubiquitous. There is a direct political nexus between militarism, racism, poverty, & the declining standard of living for US workers.

Bernie Sanders’ support for Israeli apartheid, his contemptuous dismissal of the war on the Black community, his xenophobic opposition to immigration rights that puts him right along side Donald Trump & all the other bozos, should have made clear he’s an establishment man, a supporter of war, colonialism, & social hatred. And that should be that for progressives. But even all that hasn’t broken the spell of provincialism & nationalism.

Now he came out publicly on TV & supported the ‘selective & effective’ use of drone bombing. He said “When you kill innocent people, what the end result is that people in the region become anti-American who otherwise would not have been.” Well isn’t that a mouthful of self-incrimination! A man whose concern is not that tens of thousands of people are being bombed to smithereens but that they might cop an attitude toward the Pentagon if they survive! That statement alone should shatter every single last illusion that Bernie Sanders has anything to offer people in the US.

It’s time we end the reign of expedience & demand politics rooted in political principles. The most fundamental principle of all is solidarity with people all over this planet as brothers & sisters. The US border does not define the limits of humanity “An injury to one is an injury to all.” If Sanders can’t deliver on that he’s just another worthless bum.

The travesty of media coverage about Palestinians

Funeral in Sae'er (Majdi Mohammed:AP) Jan 10 2016

This is the funeral cortege yesterday in the village of Sae’er for four Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops near Hebron in the West Bank. The reporting on their deaths is a travesty of journalism & shows what debasement happens when journalism becomes the groveling minion to power–in this instance to Israeli apartheid.

Some reports say the fatal shootings were on Thursday; most say Saturday. Only one report mentions the deceased are men; none give their names. Most of the accounts say according to the Israeli military the Palestinians were shot dead in two separate stabbing incidents in the West Bank & include statements like this from the Associated Press report: “The incident is the latest in more than three months of near-daily Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians & soldiers that have killed 21 people, mostly in stabbings, shootings & car-ramming assaults.”

The media reports are what you might call generic–collective, non-specific, no-name. Some Palestinian guys got out of line; Israeli soldiers had to take them out. Their names don’t matter. They don’t matter. Because if any serious journalism was actually done of these shootings, the monstrous truth of Israeli apartheid & colonialism would be exposed for all the world to see.

Reuters is the one media source, & only in one sketchy report, that gave any details to the execution of two of the four men. Reuters made the declarative statement that Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian men when they tried to stab soldiers at the Bekaot checkpoint. However, the report goes on to say a Palestinian taxi driver “who asked not to be identified” refuted this story. Reuters might have asked him why he declined to be identified. Was he afraid of retaliation by Israeli authorities? Anyway, according to the cabbie, three cars were in line at the checkpoint waiting to cross. Soldiers signaled the two men in the car ahead of him to move forward & when they did soldiers opened fire on them. There was no provocation; they never got out of the car or brandished knives. Reuter’s intrepid reporter adds, “A military spokeswoman asked about the taxi driver’s account said the army was still looking into the incident.”

Reuters then added the de rigueur mantra: “Since Oct. 1st Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 139 Palestinians, 89 of whom authorities described as assailants. Most others have been killed in clashes with security forces.” What kind of respectable media relies on what authorities say? Especially when the authorities are the ones accused of murder? What the hell is the point of investigative reporting if your only source is the occupying military & Palestinians aren’t even asked their version of events? Isn’t that the very definition of propaganda?

As for the other two executed Palestinians, no media source thought to ask any of the mourners what happened, who were the two people shot, what were the circumstances. Because media reporting of Israeli apartheid & Palestinian Intifada is a con, a travesty of journalism, nothing more than propagandistic horse manure. So the less you tell, the less likely you’ll get caught talking through a horse’s ass.

The only way to thwart propaganda is to build the economic, cultural, academic boycott of Israel (BDS) & demand no aid of any kind to apartheid Israel.

(Photo by Majdi Mohammed/AP)