Clinton & Drumpf are leaving everybody in the dust. The sky is falling; the apocalypse is coming. That’s what happens in a rigged system, when you’re voting for who will be the executioner-in-chief. When you don’t have illusions on that score, the only alternative is to organize. Freedom from false hopes means responsibility for our own fate.

Desperate refugees try to force way across river to Macedonia

Crossing river at Idomeni (AP) Mar 15 2016

Crossing river #2 (CEN)

Today about 2,000 refugees trapped for days in squalid conditions in a muddy, disease-ridden camp at Idomeni, Greece, marched en masse about 6km/4mi carrying children, even pushing someone in a wheelchair, to ford the Suva Reka river in thigh-high water to reach a gap in the barbed wire border fence with Macedonia.

They used a rope & formed human chains to steady themselves against the raging current because the river was swollen from days of heavy rain. Three refugees, including a pregnant woman drowned.

As soon as they made it across, they were surrounded by Macedonian soldiers, rounded up into military trucks, & deported back to the camp in Greece.

Just how long does the EU plan on holding thousands of people in a state of living hell? The civilized mind reels at the barbarism. EU officials consider the thwart a good days work.

One curious aside is that 30 journalists who followed the refugees were detained by Macedonian authorities & fined €500 each for breaking the law & illegally entering the country. All those reporters but so little media publishing their accounts.

Photo is refugees crossing the river.

Immigration is a human right. Open the damn borders.

(Top photo from AP; bottom photo from CEN)

This is the expression of European Union values: living hell

Makeshift tent at Idomeni ( REUTERS:Alkis Konstantinidis) Mar 15 2016

This woman refugee is trying to keep warm & dry in a camp near the village of Idomeni, Greece on the Macedonian border. The temperature today is 35 degrees Fahrenheit/2 degrees Celsius but it goes down to freezing at night in conditions of rain & snow.

About two thousand refugees tried to force their way across the Macedonian border by crossing a river but were forcibly turned back–soaking wet & freezing.

The next time you hear a European politician declare that ‘Europe is acommunity of values based on human sympathy, human rights, solidarity’, try not to retch. The next time you hear some racist bozo say Muslims don’t share our western values, thank your lucky stars that somewhere in the world barbarism is not the vogue & civilization still exists. Otherwise western civilization may be cooked.

Immigration is a human right. Open the borders.

(Photo by Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

Might be time to get serious about changing the world

In going through my posts to retrieve one about the Hong Kong protests in 2014, I was struck by how much conflict human beings have either endured or witnessed just in the past two years. It’s unbelievable this world we live in. And my perusal stopped in October 2014, two months after the seven-week bombing siege over Gaza–which Palestinians still have not recovered from & was a nightmare even for those who witnessed it.

We gotta do something about this. They’re leading us to apocalypse.


So while we’re at it, I may as well republish the October 2014 post on the Hong Kong protests:

Hong Kong protests

Many articles insist the Hong Kong democracy movement is orchestrated by the US State Department, because the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)–which is a US government agency likely chock full of CIA operatives–fed money to some organizations & activists. Those who make these allegations have read too many John LeCarre novels or listened too much to Alex Jones–& have participated in politics too little. Of course the US government is involved; they have vested interests in the outcome. But suggesting these protests are CIA street theater rather than a profound social movement for democracy is politically shabby & plays into the hands of reaction.

The CIA & other US agencies have a long-standing policy of intervening in political movements all over the world. There are volumes written on this, some books now decades old. All the most important social movements (including the US Civil Rights, women’s, labor, antiwar, & socialist movements) are/were infiltrated by provocateurs using bribery, blackmail, & other corrupting practices. It’s what undercover operatives do. That does does mean the entire movement is compromised nor does it render the entire movement bankrupt.

Too much has been written by conspiracy thinkers claiming the Arab uprisings are a sting operation of Mossad & the CIA; many circulated rumors that the Brazil anti-World Cup protests of millions were taken over by fascists; competing political forces have made a cacophony of dissenting analyses of Syria & the Ukraine. Now, based on a shred of evidence & massive speculation, some are on a band wagon denouncing the Hong Kong movement because the NED dished out dough to some participants. Does it surprise anyone that Beijing is making the exact same claim?

Some people who make these claims about the Hong Kong protests are Maoists, shamelessly attempting to cover for the undemocratic regime in China. Many are libertarian thinkers who have no respect for working people as the agents of social transformation & think they are only pawns in international espionage. Where will this nonsense end!? Those who don’t recognize the compelling realities of a mass social movement demanding democracy need to get out of the game & take up crocheting. Conspiracy models of social uprisings serve reaction, not justice. In many ways it’s just a shade away from the Zionist claim that Hamas rockets are the problem in Gaza rather than Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

In 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the movement for democracy called the Prague Spring. Both Soviet & capitalist media reported the movement as anti-socialist–of course because that deceit served the interests of both. It justified suppression for the USSR & it discredited socialism for the US. But what the movement was demanding was democracy; they wanted democratic freedoms & the end of a police state. The point of the comparison is that misrepresenting & discrediting progressive movements is an old game that always plays into the hands of reaction, undercuts solidarity, & buttresses continued tyranny.

So who are these protesters in Hong Kong? They’re students, union organizations, & unaffiliated working people. Likely a section of them are even anti-communist & identify capitalism as democratic. Call it heresy, but that doesn’t invalidate their struggle for democratic suffrage one iota. They’ve been out on the street now for nearly three weeks (since Sept. 28th), setting up an Occupy encampment in Admiralty, the central business district & venue of financial institutions & government buildings. They also set up encampment in Mong Kok, a major commercial district with high end retailers & catering to the tourist & entertainment industry, particularly the sex industry, with brothels, massage parlors, nightclubs, & bars run by criminal cartels.

Democracy activists paralyzed commerce & traffic in both districts with makeshift metal, bamboo, & umbrella barricades. Since billions of dollars of business are transacted in Hong Kong & at least 44 banks were closed due to protests, business analysts are worried about the negative economic impact of the protests. Some alarmists speak of the need for financial markets to move to Singapore to escape the instability; some are concerned foreign investors will shy off. A few expressed indignation at the illegal character of the protests which defy a local ordinance that protests of more than 50 people must have police permits. It’s a good thing those analysts are good are making money because they stink at politics.This could be taken as a petulant & pissy complaint. But of course, it’s because they answer to the capitalist tycoons who run Hong Kong like a mafia. What’s regrettable is they differ so little from the Chinese “socialist” regime.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese government, issued a condemnation on October 1st which also calls the movement “an illegal gathering” which is “disrupting social order & harming Hong Kong’s economic livelihood.” It goes on to threaten that if the protests continue the “consequences will be unimaginable.” When you have the untenable situation of Hong Kong called “one country, two systems” & you can’t tell the difference between the two political systems, & when you have ostentatious wealth juxtaposed to thousands living in basement chicken coops, you gotta ask, ‘just where does the socialist side of that equation manifest’? And you have the cauldron that foments revolution.

It’s not certain which of the two systems governs Hong Kong’s riot cops because they act just like the ones at Tiananmen Square in 1989 & those we’ve experienced in all the political uprisings around the world. Starting last Tuesday, police using pepper spray & tear gas moved on the Admiralty & Mong Kok encampments, drove out the protesters, & armed with bolt cutters, chainsaws, & sledgehammers, dismantled the barricades.

Media has been reporting about scuffles between democracy activists & disgruntled local residents or supporters of the Beijing regime who counter-protest, attempt to remove the barricades blocking the streets, & attack the protesters. Let’s get real! They’re more likely to be goon squads hired by the brothel owners or bouncers at the local strip clubs than neighborhood people or political reactionaries. Multinational businesses can’t ply potential clients with booze & prostitutes if they have to traverse barricades & encampments to get to the brothels.

Protesters using the umbrellas that have come to symbolize their movement as weapons & shields against pepper spray & tear gas battled with riot cops & retook Mong Kok on Saturday morning. They retook Mong Kok, but do the protesters stand a chance of forcing the regime’s hand? Will political power in Hong Kong remain in the hands of a tiny elite of capitalist tycoons in league with the undemocratic regime in Beijing? Maybe for now they will only squeak out minor concessions; maybe Beijing will continue to let capitalist tycoons run the place. But a movement has emerged, the forces of social transformation have assembled. If that wasn’t making Beijing & the tycoons sweat bullets, Beijing would not have put up an internet firewall to prevent millions of discontent Chinese on the mainland from witnessing the undoing of the monstrosity called “one country, two systems.”

For our part, we salute the protesters in Hong Kong & extend our fullest solidarity.

Photo is an activist without umbrella or other defenses standing alone against the socialist-capitalist riot cops in a scene reminiscent of Tank Man in Tiananmen Square.

(Photographer unknown; from the Facebook wall of Gregor Benton)


China actively sabotaging BDS, the boycott of Israel

Shimon Peres in China 2014

This is a photo of then Israeli president Shimon Peres at a state dinner in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April 2014. This was not the first time Peres & other Israeli officials have been to China. Netanyahu visited in 2013 & several Chinese officials have made formal visits to Israel in a growing collaboration between the two countries, including between the Chinese & Israeli militaries.

The relationship between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) & Palestinians goes back to 1949 when the PRC was established under Mao Tse Tung but it’s shrouded in confusions–partially because analysts are often tendentious & partially because Chinese support for Palestinians appears to be mostly diplomatic lip-service. If China ever provided direct aid of any kind, it would likely have been made public & vociferously opposed by the US & Israel.

Originally the PRC refused to recognize the state of Israel because it was a colonial-settler project but by the early 1980s it was forging covert ties with Israel & formally recognized it in 1992. Chinese foreign policy is above all guided by realpolitik, not principles. It continues to make feeble objections to the worst of Israeli crimes, like the carpet bombing sieges of Gaza, but it blames the conflict on aggression from both sides. Positing the struggle as mutual aggressions between Israel & Hamas is a sneaky way of withholding unconditional support for Palestinian self-determination. Most relevantly, it is backhanded support for Israel.

In the past several years, corresponding with the emergence of the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS), there is a qualitative turn in China’s relations with Israel. Instead of calling Israel a colonial project, China now refers to it as a “startup nation” & the Chinese ambassador to Israel wrote that “The friendship between the Chinese & Jewish nations dates back more than 1,000 years.” A remarkable feat since Israel has only been in existence for 68 years.

China has had military relations with Israel since the 1990s but sales of Israeli military arms & equipment, including anti-aircraft missile technology, were terminated by the US which perceived it as a threat since the US is building up military operations against China in the South China Sea. Of course, the question that remains unanswered is, why is the US giving billions in military aid to Israel when it is selling armaments around the world to repressive regimes? Why does it continue to need US military aid?

The bald facts are that China has become Israel’s third-largest trading partner & export destination with bilateral trade between the two countries worth USD$10 billion in 2013–up from about $50 million in 1992. China is second only to the US in joint high-tech projects with Israel & now surpasses Europe as a source of high-tech capital for Israel. The Chinese ambassador to Israel claims it’s because of Israel’s many cutting-edge technologies & China’s “interest in cooperation in the fields of agriculture, natural resources, environmental protection, education, & healthcare.”

If you go beyond the public relations baloney & examine what’s actually going on, China will stand accused of using its immense resources to counterbalance the growing international boycott of Israel–economically, culturally, & academically. That’s what the septic relationship between China & Israel is now all about–not cutting-edge technologies.

To counter the economic boycott, last January, China hosted not the first but the largest-ever China-Israel investment & technology conference attended by over 1,000 investors, businesspeople, & government officials from both countries. The conference was to organize Chinese investment in start-up firms & acquisition of Israeli companies. An Israeli investment firm estimated Chinese investment in Israel technology firms will exceed $10 billion within the next five years.

There are banner headlines in Israel declaring that Chinese investment in Israel tech firms are soaring. IVC Research Center in Tel Aviv estimates a 54% increase just from 2013 to 2014 & 30 new Chinese investors since 2012. They’re not just buying & investing in tech firms but cosmetic, food, agricultural, & medical firms.

In September 2015, a Chinese business conglomerate named Fosum bought a majority share in Israel’s Ahava Dead Sea minerals cosmetic company for $76.5 million. Ahava products are mostly sold at mall kiosks in the US, but a flagship store in London was forced to close due to BDS protests. The Ahava plant is located in the West Bank & because of BDS political pressure the company was considering a move to inside Israel. The Chinese purchase of controlling shares may be an attempt to do an end-run around BDS & obviate the relocation. It is anyway a flagrant flouting of the boycott against Israel although Ahava already had a distribution agreement with a Chinese company to market the product.

Last January, Israel also signed a research & development agreement with Hong Kong which will necessarily entail flouting the academic aspect of BDS because it involves Israel universities–as does the $300 million joint center between Tel Aviv University & Tsinghua University opened in 2014 to focus on medical & optics research–but mostly to defy the academic boycott of Israel.

The cultural boycott has not been slighted in this cooperation between Israel & China. They are attempting to massively increase tourism between the two countries by canceling visa requirements. A famous Chinese actor was designated Israel’s tourism ambassador to promote tourism to this ‘peaceful country with friendly people.’ (Except toward occupied Palestinians.) China is also orchestrating a deluge of performers, actors, circus clowns, dancers, musicians, artists to perform in Israel “as a symbol of fraternity, harmony & coexistence,” according to the Chinese ambassador to Israel. But mostly to undermine the cultural boycott of Israel.

One of the ugliest features of this new alliance between the two countries is that China & Israel are negotiating an agreement to send Chinese construction workers to the Golan Heights. The deal is being held up partially because China does not want them contracted to build Israeli settlements. Their scruples in this regard likely have more to do with international scandal & preventing BDS protests at their embassies. The outrage is that Israel is using foreign workers to replace Palestinian workers.

BDS activists cannot be daunted by the heavy weight of China aligning with Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing. China has its own political dissidents, especially in Hong Kong, & we should make every attempt to reach out to them to promote BDS.

Build & honor the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel. Buy nothing with a barcode beginning 729. And consider protesting at Chinese embassies to protest their outrageous attempts to undermine BDS & Palestinian justice.


Just got an invitation to a progressive labor conference where the combined cost of registration & accommodations are close to $1,000, airfare not included. To spend that kind of dough you’d have to convince me the speakers wouldn’t bore me silly, no blowhards would be allowed, women wouldn’t be interrupted when they spoke, & the conference would adjourn with a program that would make all the barrel-chested union bureaucrats magically disappear.

The stinking reactionary politics of the Democratic Party

Clinton and Robert Byrd Mar 15 2016

The thing about the Democratic Party is that its electoral presentation of itself is very different from its internal character. It’s not fundamentally different than the Republicans in its political rancidity. One of the elements of that is the large number of Ku Klux Klan members who were leading Democratic politicians, including representatives, senators, Supreme Court judges like Hugo Black, & presidents like Harry Truman.

The purpose of the Democratic Party is to manage dissent from the left & make sure it doesn’t take an independent course. The purpose of the Republicans is to manage the rightwing & because the rightwing in this country is increasingly deranged & violent, this has made the Republican Party a hotbed of lunacy & generated an organizational crisis leading to the Drumpf phenomenon.

Recently, David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the KKK & an unreconstructed white supremacist, endorsed Drumpf. There was a furor because Drumpf refused to disavow that, pretending to not know who Duke was, but of course, because they’re turds of a feather. But is that really any different than Hillary Clinton boasting of her association with Henry Kissinger, one of the most despicable war criminals ever spawned?

Rightwing activists on social media responded to the Duke furor with some damning charges of their own. They circulated photos of Hillary Clinton smooching Senator Robert Byrd in 2004 & eulogizing him when he croaked in 2010. Byrd was a leading member of the KKK in West Virginia throughout the 1940s when he was in his 20s & 30s. He was a recruiter & held the leadership position of Exalted Cyclops.

Desegregating the US army in WWII was a major political campaign of the times. Byrd wrote: “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times, & see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

There was a strong current of these kind of segregationist, Confederate-minded politicians who fit right into the Democratic Party prior to the Civil Rights Movement. But after that movement discredited white supremacy, they began to do public contrition about their past in order to sell the Democrats as the party not just for white racist workers but for Black workers too. They were popularly portrayed in media as an anomaly in the party, rather than its bedrock. After Byrd became a politician, he also began to dance around about his past but he remained a segregationist in his politics.

He was not only a staunch segregationist all his life, consistently opposing all the major civil rights legislation, but he was in general a stone-cold reactionary who opposed women’s & LGBT rights & supported all the wars.

Generations of dreamers & compromisers have hoped to transform the Democrats into the party it claims rather than the cesspool it is. One wonders how people like Sanders who claim to be inspired have managed to survive without becoming wheelers & dealers too. The answer is, they haven’t. History shows quite clearly, it isn’t the party that is transformed but the dreamers.

Photo is Clinton & Robert Byrd in 2004. Do you see dead people?

Forget the experts; listen to the kids

Heena and Beena from Chattisgarh, India

There’s something very special about girls at this age. It’s when they start to show their independence & hone their skills at back talk. It’s one of my favorite ages.

These little girls are Heena (in red) & Beena (in blue) from a remote village of Chattisgarh, India, a state in central India. The state is about 80 percent rural & well over 50 percent Dalits, Adivasis, & Other Backward Classes–all of them oppressed & persecuted castes.

When you see the beauty of children you can never claim discrimination & persecution are rational in any way though they serve an economic, social, & political function for the ruling elites. The human race is going to have to come to grips with that question so that millions of children do not continue to get chewed up by such a system which prevails around this globe.

A daunting historic task, but possible. If persecution didn’t always exist–& it has been shown by reputable historians that it didn’t–then it can be ended. The historians who sing for their supper & the evo psycho crowd claim persecution is inherent to human beings, that it’s in our genes. Some people will say anything for a tenured spot in a prestigious university.

It’s much wiser to believe in children.

This wonderful photo is thanks to Lohian Lohi