Kashmir Awareness Week: pellet guns & the Indian occupation

Buckshot xray-Kashmir Feb 14 2016

This coming week is Kashmir Awareness Week called by activists in London. Because of the systematic news blackout going back years, most people around the world know very little about India’s brutal occupation of Kashmir, let alone have developed activities or organizations for international solidarity. So this week is an important education event.

Regrettably, this has also been a very difficult week in Kashmir, with the commemoration of martyrs’ deaths & summary executions of more young people by Indian military forces. So this educational event also takes on the character of protest against the occupation.

Protestors around the world are facing extreme violence from riot cops, particularly assaultive weapons like rubber bullets, water cannons, stun grenade canisters–& in some places like Palestine & Kashmir, live ammunition. The Indian army has used pellet guns in Kashmir since 2010, a watershed year in the Kashmiri struggle against occupation. They claim they use pellet guns as “non-lethal weapons” to quell anti-India protests. But pellet guns use hydraulic force to pump out hundreds of pellets at a time which become embedded & can cause permanent blindness & disfigurement as well as fatal injuries by destroying vital organs. The pellets are made of lead & the deleterious health effects of that metal are not mitigated in pellet form. There are actually restrictions in the US on the use of lead pellets in hunting because of its negative impact on birds & the environment. Because of the scattershot nature of buckshot, many children & passersby are also blinded & injured. The lethality & barbarism of the weapons are beyond dispute.

Let it be noted that the Egyptian activist, Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, was shot to death (on January 24th, 2015) by a pellet gun when the buckshot pierced her vital organs. Pellet guns were also used in the 2011 Bahrain uprising when the regime hired two super-cops, one from the UK & one from the US, to organize security. Pellet guns were part of their arsenal & there are dozens of photos of Bahraini protesters riddled with buckshot which cannot be removed.

The photo is an X-ray of Amir Kabir Beigh, a 22-year-old Kashmiri, showing dozens of lead pellets embedded in his skull. It appears they were directing the pellet gun directly at this eyes & head–& it looks like more documentation for human rights crimes against Kashmiris by the Indian army.

Today Kashmir is considered the most densely militarized zone in the world, administered & occupied by over 700,000 Indian soldiers. Since the 1990s, the death toll from political conflict has risen to 70,000, with an estimated 100,000 tortured & 10,000 disappeared.

Things are not going to improve for Kashmiri justice under Modi, India’s reactionary prime minister. His close political association with apartheid Israel bodes very badly. Colonial wars eat at the very soul of a society, engendering extreme violence at home & abroad unless they are actively opposed & international solidarity extended to the people of Kashmir.

Our fullest solidarity with the people of Kashmir.

(Photo by Abid Bhat)

You can’t stop people from pissing & doing the party-hearty on Judge Scalia’s grave

My patriotic fervor is taken aback by the number of Facebook posts celebrating the demise of that guy on the Supreme Court–good old what’s-his-name. People are dancing on his grave; some are pissing on it. Women are in the lead. Some are hauling in chips & guacamole for a big drunken bash.

Let me know if you think that’s appropriate funereal ritual for the judge or if we need to hire a mariachi band too.

And yet another brief against lesser evil voting

In my ongoing (probably tiresome) campaign to take out every last defense for lesser evil voting, I have heard many say that a populist-talking candidate like Sanders will be responsive to social movements, that he can be poked & prodded & pressured to do the right thing as president.

Here you gotta listen to your elders. Let me play the senior card. Our generation came of age in the era of Nixon who was POTUS from 1969 to 1974, the height of antiwar activity in this country. He was a lot more reactionary & bullheaded than Sanders but he was poked, prodded, & pressured up the wazoo by the antiwar movement. In April 1971, there were over a million people just in Washington, DC to oppose the war. (I’ll never forget it because of the naked man in a see-through raincoat & the million other people.)

The most effective way to influence presidents or Supreme Court justices is to build powerful, massive, democratic social movements. Scares the bejeezus out of them; makes them do the right thing.

Zika virus: the plot sickens

After posting this, I learned that Zika may be more related to a Monsanto larvicide than it is to a mosquito. That is obviously an extremely important development that Monsanto & its representatives in government will want to bury. Here is a link regarding that  charge: http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16706-argentine-and-brazilian-doctors-name-larvicide-as-potential-cause-of-microcephalyhttp://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16706-argentine-and-brazilian-doctors-name-larvicide-as-potential-cause-of-microcephaly

Brazil Zika baby (Felipe Dana:AP) Feb 14 2016

The epicenter of the Zika virus epidemic appears to be poor communities in Brazil & there is concern that it will spread to other impoverished countries on other continents. The epidemiology of disease really needs to stop worrying about mosquitos & start thinking about the absence of healthcare, clean water, & nutritious, sufficient food under neoliberal austerity regimes. Mosquitos have no particular affinity for poor people’s blood.

There are a wide range of health issues for children born with microcephaly, suspected to be related to Zika. They will sustain incapacitating mental & physical disabilities including seizures, difficulty walking or standing, difficulty speaking or swallowing, hearing or vision problems leading to blindness.

Brazilian officials report that in 2014, 150 babies were born with microcephaly but since October 2015, nearly 4,000 babies were born with it, mostly in poor communities. Disability is difficult to manage even if you have sufficient resources & live where there are schools & available therapy for the children to maximize their potentials & live satisfying lives. Poor communities in Brazil would not be optimal places to raise children with severe disabilities.

But in the dozens of photos of family members–brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandmothers–holding their babies with microcephaly, there is nothing but tenderness & when reporters ask the mothers about their babies, they say they will love & care for them as any other.

It wasn’t that long ago in the US that parents of severely disabled children requiring lifelong care were advised by doctors to warehouse their children & forget about them. They were often part of freak shows in traveling circuses. That was the barbarism of just a few decades ago.

These epidemics affecting the health & wellbeing of thousands of children are an issue directly related to the barbaric phase of capitalism. Healthcare, clean water, & nutritious food are a human right regardless of their status under laws made by billionaires.

This photo is taken in Santa Cruz do Capibaribe, Brazil. Milena Kaline, who is three months pregnant, holds her friend’s daughter born with microcephaly.

(Photo of Felipe Dana/AP)

Judge Antonin Scalia croaks

Are we supposed to grieve over the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia? Because I’ve been wondering for a long time what was taking Lucifer so long to take him out. He was a worthless bum. Every time one of these bozos die people start to panic that a reactionary will be appointed to the court. Could any be more reactionary than this fool?

May he fry in hell for all eternity. No RIPs from me.

Egyptian kangaroo court overturns conviction of officer who executed activist Shaimaa el-Sabbagh

Shaimaa el-Sabbagh  (AP Photo:Mohammed El-Raaei, File) Feb 14 2016

Egypt’s highest appeals court today overturned the conviction of the police officer sentenced to 15 years in prison for the execution of unarmed protester Shaimaa el-Sabbagh on January 24th, 2015.

This is the junta’s flouting of justice since there is no dispute about the circumstances of her execution. It was filmed & photographed by several journalists & bystanders as she participated in a small, peaceful demonstration to commemorate the hundreds killed in the 2011 uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. According to many witnesses at the scene, police also refused assistance as she lay dying on the street.

Shaimaa was 31-years-old & the single mother of a five-year-old boy. She was a poet, studied folklore & documented traditions in small villages; she was an activist in the small socialist group which organized the march.

Those who knew her described her as a kind & calm woman who was supportive to others. Despite the restoration of military rule, she was optimistic about the political future of Egypt.

Hosni Mubarak had quite a different experience with the junta courts. After a few years of dog & pony legal spectacles, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption, abuse of power, & failing to halt the murder of peaceful protesters during the 2011 uprising. “Failing to halt” when it is certain he ordered them to be shot. Six months later, another court overturned that sentence & ordered a retrial, along with his corrupt sons. The retrial worked out real well for them. They got prison sentences in 2015 but the sons were sprung out 6 months later. Mubarak is reportedly detained in a military hospital. What do you bet, he’s really lolling in his mansion?

This kind of justice is all backed by the US, originally brokered by then Secretary of State Clinton, & part of the long-term deal brokered in 1978 by then President Jimmy Carter in the Camp David Accords which armed Egypt against its own people in return for the regime turning its back on support for Palestinians.

Our fullest solidarity with activists in Egypt & our deepest respect.

This photo of Shaimaa is from the protest where she was murdered in Cairo.

(Photo by Mohammed El-Raaei/AP)

Suicide rates soar among oppressed youth around the world

The resistance of the oppressed must surely be hell on earth, especially when the persecution is unremitting & if they stand alone without international solidarity for decades on end–like Palestinians & Kashmiris. There is another side to Intifada that receives too little attention but highlights the absolute imperative of building active solidarity.

In both Gaza & Kashmir, suicide rates among the young are soaring & appear to be directly related to the political conditions. It would actually be idiotic to suggest otherwise.

It’s very much to the point that suicide rates among Black teens in the US are also dramatically rising. It has long been epidemic among Native American teens. Latino teens may have a lower rate of suicide but they have a higher rate of playing with the idea & higher reported rates of feeling sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness.

This is not the world our children deserve. We have to mobilize the big battalions of international solidarity.

The GOP debate: a confederacy of asses

Watching the GOP candidates debate, you see they’re deranged, vicious, small-minded, stupid, racist up to their eyeballs. You compare that to the two Democrats outdoing each other with the populist thing. Then you realize the barbaric phase of capitalism is running out of options & it’s reflected in the crisis of leadership because it has no solutions to the problems it creates. All of the proposed solutions are at the expense of working people, especially refugees & immigrants.

If there’s a better explanation for this fiasco, please don’t hesitate to elaborate it.

Lesser evil going into overdrive; resorts to lies

Lesser evil rationalizations are going into overdrive. If people want to vote for Sanders, just do it with pride & without apology. That’s your democratic right. There’s no need to lie your ass off about his views on Israeli apartheid. And anyway, that is not the only issue he stinks on. He is rotten on immigration rights & publicly said undocumented immigrants threaten the integrity of the nation-state. That’s an artful expression of xenophobia. He is absolutely deplorable on war, pretending he’s against some of them but always voting appropriations.

Own up to it if you support him. Don’t be bullied. Stand by your own judgements & convictions. But for heaven’s sake, stop misrepresenting what he stands for. It just has to be said that if you oppose Israeli apartheid & also support him, you are wallowing in contradictions of the kind you should be uncomfortable about.

Fifth anniversary of Bahrain’s “Arab Spring” commemorated with protests

Bahraini protester (AP Photo:Hasan Jamali)  Feb 12 2016

Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of Bahrain’s “Arab Spring” uprising in 2011. Bahrain is a small country but strategically located & sponsors the US Fifth Fleet–which partially explains the ferocity of the monarchical regime against democracy protesters & its ability to draw on allies like Saudi Arabia, the US, & UK to crush the uprising.

In 2012, Hamad al-Khalifa, the king of Bahrain (& client of Amal Clooney), hired John Yates, a corrupt UK cop famous for his use of wire-tapping & police surveillance, & John Timoney, a US cop notorious for militarized methods against peaceful protestors (rubber bullets, tasers, concussion grenades, pepper spray, tear gas, electrified riot shields, baton charges). Ostensibly these two thugs were hired to reform police & military to conform to “international policing standards” after Bahrain was cited by an international commission for using excessive force, torture, summary execution, & countless other human rights crimes to crush the democracy movement. Clooney’s defense of al-Khalifa was against the condemnations of the international commission.

The UK has been involved in Bahraini military & intelligence training for decades. Along with Yates, a team from Scotland Yard trained & directed the police force & trained Saudi national guards deployed against protestors in Bahrain in 2012. The UK has a long history of orchestrating police violence in Bahrain–from 1966 to 1998, Ian Henderson, a former British colonial officer led Bahrain’s secret police, gaining the sobriquet, “Butcher of Bahrain” because of the extreme kinds of torture used against thousands of dissidents, including children. Repeated calls for the UK to prosecute Henderson under international law have been ignored because of Britain’s close ties with the Bahraini dictatorship.

Both the US & UK have economic, political, military, & strategic interests in Bahrain which conflict with the democratic needs of the Bahraini people. That’s why the US under Obama & UK continue to stand by the murderous regime with armaments, combat vehicles & helicopters, communications equipment, a missile system, & a training role in the use of death squads. The US & UK claim the weaponry is for Bahrain’s external defense but Bahrain is not a country under military siege by outside armies; it is a regime conducting an all-out war against it’s own people.

With such logistical support, the regime has been emboldened to escalate violence & repression; they use special force units to target & round up human rights activists; death squads; torture (without doubt, the CIA is there training torturers), beatings, kidnappings, disappearances (including of children); indiscriminate but methodical use of pellet guns (like India uses in Kashmir) & tear gas in residential areas (termed “carpet gassing”) resulting in maiming, blinding, deaths; incarceration; house raids; road check points for routine stops, searches, & intimidation.

Standing up against all that is what makes the Bahraini democracy movement so extraordinary & such a beacon of defiance against tyranny. Here a young man at a protest today in Sitra (one of several all over the country) is holding off against riot police in front of a wall of posters with the image of dissident Saudi cleric Nimr al-Nimr who spoke out for democracy against the Saudi regime & was one of 47 people beheaded on January 2nd this year.

Bahraini protesters pelted armored vehicles & police jeeps with paint bombs, stones & petrol bombs but the US & UK-trained police moved in with tear gas to violently disperse the protest.

Our deepest respect & fullest solidarity with the democracy movement of Bahrain.

(Photo by Hasan Jamali/AP)