Israeli colonial policy & the demolition of Palestinian homes

Demolition of Palestinian home (REUTERS:Mussa Qawasma) Jan 23 2016

This photo is a Palestinian man arguing with Israeli soldiers, trying to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Beit Ula. The soldiers are there to protect the bulldozers in the process of demolitions.

About 25 percent of Beit Ula (about ten kilometers from Hebron) is located in Area C, a designation of the Oslo Accords which bargained away Palestinian self-determination. Area C, which covers 60 percent of the West Bank, is under complete Israeli control & Israel treats it not like occupied territory but as an annexation.

About 70,000 Palestinians live in Area C but Israel is trying to drive them out with land expropriations & home demolitions. It is the area where most Jewish settlements, all illegal under international law, are being built. Under the colonial policy called the Israeli Law of Return, Jewish settlers are being moved in & Palestinians are being evicted.

This photo explains the vigor of Palestinian resistance to Israeli colonialism which they have the right to oppose by any means necessary. We can stand with them by building & honoring the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel. Buy nothing with barcodes beginning with 729.

(Photo by Mussa Qawasma/Reuters)

Child labor in the US & around the world: a scourge to undercut adult labor

Child tobacco worker in US (from HRW) Jan 23 2016

This is a child tobacco worker in the US where child labor is legal for industrial farmworkers & where there are an estimated 800,000 child farmworkers. In 2012, an initiative from the Department of Labor (DoL) to institute protective & safety laws for child farmworkers was vigorously opposed by the Obama administration which mandated the DoL never raise the issue again. Neither of the US labor federations did a thing to oppose this. Obama’s politics are a seamless whole–from war & drone bombing to child welfare.

Child farmworkers face many safety & health dangers on industrial farms:
exposure to pesticides (often sprayed directly by planes as they work); snake & insect bites; razor-sharp tools & lack of safety equipment; dangerous farm machinery (without safety devices like seat belts or roll-over bars); extreme heat; chemicals & explosives; work at extreme heights in silos & grain storage facilities; work in manure pits (with E. coli contamination). On tobacco farms, dermal exposure puts them at the same cardiovascular & cancer risks as active smokers.

Wisdom Blow has just reposted this article I wrote in 2012 on child labor explaining its place in neoliberal capitalist economics–the economics of war & sweatshops. Child labor serves primarily to undercut & disempower adult labor, create a compliant exploitable workforce, & eliminate all rights & safety protections for workers. It is a scourge, not a necessity & building strong, democratic unions is the alternative. Child labor is not just a human rights issue, but a labor issue.

The racist refugee politics of French president Francois Hollande

CALAIS ( Michel Spingler:AP) Jan 22 2016

Anyone who didn’t just fall off the turnip truck knew French president Francois Hollande was grandstanding when he promised to take in 30,000 refugees after the attacks last November & when he promised to invest $53 million for refugee housing. Our man is obviously a political weasel & cannot think socially. We know that from his policies of the past several years toward Roma–evicting them from longtime settlements, razing their shanties, & deporting them to Romania where they did not come from, in violation of EU visa-free policies.

We also got confirmation of that from the treatment of refugees on the Italian-French border over the past few years. French gendarmes blocked entry, forcibly removed refugees, & in one instance stopped & boarded a train, removed all refugees & deported them back across the Italian border.

Those who managed to get across the border ended up in squalid makeshift camps without basic social services like toilets, food, medical assistance, & the Hollande regime would send in demolition crews to take down the camps near Paris & in outlying areas. Many refugees including women with children, elderly, infirm, & disabled ended up living on the streets.

Hollande’s barbaric treatment of refugees at Calais may not be more egregious than it has been all along but it is certainly raising questions about racist distinctions in selecting which refugees will be granted asylum & which will be hassled, incarcerated, & deported. Those refugees massing in Calais because they are unable to move forward to the UK appear from photojournalist accounts to be in their majority Africans, refugees who entered on the north Africa to Italy route. Are they being processed differently than other refugees? Are they being subjected to more violence?

The EU is not forthcoming about the numbers of refugees each country is accepting, about the asylum process, or about the criteria for who will stay & who will face deportation. But Hollande would not be the guy to put in charge if there is to be any measure of propriety even by low EU standards.

This is winter. The temperature in Calais today is 10 degrees Celsius/50 degrees Fahrenheit. These are refugees running from tear gas thrown by French gendarmes as bulldozers move in to raze their tents. This is documentation of human rights crimes against refugees & violations of several international laws governing the treatment of refugees.

Immigration is a human right. Open the borders!

(Photo by Michel Spingler/AP)