Just received a promotional brochure for cruises in the Mediterranean Sea & am dumbstruck that tourists would do scenic tours of a crime scene where at least 30,000 refugees have drowned in the past several years. The callousness of that speaks to the profound derangement that is racism.

TV news announced tonight that 1,370 refugees on the northern Africa to Italy route have drowned so far this year. Two hundred drowned today when a boat capsized as the scene was videotaped. Putting aside that TV news has never considered this noteworthy before, it is an absolute outrage that a single person has drowned when the European Union has fleets of military ships from several countries in that region of the Mediterranean.

Excuse me for being moralistic, but why in the hell is the EU still allowed to exist? Why isn’t it being prosecuted under international law for criminal indifference to human life & for violating refugee rights?

This is an update on the fate of Maxie/George, the scruffy little guy who I thought was abandoned but learned had a family up the street. While with me, the little guy was neutered & was being treated for three medical conditions including heart worms. I didn’t want problems with the family & went to speak to them since Maxie was going to keep coming to my house where all the action is & where he could sleep inside.

The caretaker said Maxie was over 8 years old, had always run free throughout the neighborhood, impregnated many dogs, & had never slept inside–though there was no dog shelter in his yard. He said he would speak to his wife about letting me keep the dog since they were not going to see through on his medical needs. And heart worms require lifelong treatment. A day later, he told me I could keep Maxie.

Yesterday, he showed up at my door to tell me they had reconsidered & would only relinquish Maxie for $80. Otherwise he would take Maxie & tie him up so he didn’t return here. My pleading brought him down to $50 due on June 1st. I believe that’s called extortion but I would never let Maxie go back there.

My new foundling named Franky is a three or four month old Chihuahua. I barricade the fence around the yard including the entry to the driveway where I have about 60 pounds of cement blocks to keep the dogs in.

Sophie, the 30-pound girl, figured out how to get past the cement blocks & last Thursday took them all out into the street to play. I chased them all down & got them in the house but little Franky was missing. So out I went scouring the neighborhood for over an hour. When I pulled back into the yard, I saw his little butt disappear under the house. When he came out, he was limping on a rear leg.

So close to the end of the month I had no dough so I called the shelter to ask if they could provide a voucher to a vet for a rescue animal. Unfortunately, the vet they use was one I used for several years who would not agree to see Franky. That’s because last November, another rescue puppy became very ill & I brought her to that vet asking if they would treat her & let me pay them four days later on December 1st. They said no though Bellissima was clearly deathly ill & could have had Parvo. I was irate & used harsh language. I believe cursing was involved. My rescue friend helped me find a nurse who treated my little one & saved her life.

So now I have little Franky with a bum leg that might be broken & again I called around my rescue squad from the dog park. One of them, who has 27 rescue cats in her house & tends to 20 more in the wild, told me to meet her at the vet for an Xray this morning. It turned out that Franky has a broken femur, probably from being hit by a car according to the vet, & because of its location on the joint needed almost $2,000 in surgery or a $600 amputation. The vet recommended the latter. My friend agreed to pay for it & will not let me reimburse her.

It is deeply heartbreaking when an animal in your care is injured, even accidentally, because you’re supposed to provide safety for them. I’ve rescued a lot of animals & have never gotten over the horror of falling short on that commitment.

But now I’ll be visiting Maxie’s family & imploring them to just let me have him–to give me a break & for his welfare, to provide for his medical care. I’ll be picking up Franky on Saturday, now a three-legged dog with the sweetest little heart who the vet assures me will do just fine.

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Vietnam enters US military alliance in Asia-Pacific region

Obama in Vietnam May 2016 (Photo- Kham, AP) May 26 2016

It is deeply sad to see the course that Vietnam’s Stalinist leadership is taking the country after the historic struggles against French colonialism & US military aggression. The country is now led by two Communist Party (CP) functionaries who appear to have played no role at all in the military struggle against the US: president Tran Dai Quang & CP leader Nguyen Phu Trọng.

China provided minimal aid in the war against the US & is now involved in maritime territorial disputes with Vietnam. But Vietnam is taking the same economic & political course as China, combining neoliberal economics with repressive political rule. Actually, Stalinism, like military rule & dictatorship, is a perfect fit for neoliberal capitalism.

Several human rights groups, notably Human Rights Watch, have objected to the new US military arrangement with Vietnam–brokered by Obama on his recent visit to the country. The US is lifting the ban on sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam–not just to exacerbate the conflict with China but as part of the US military buildup in the Asia-Pacific region. These so-called human rights groups do not object to building up Vietnam’s military arsenal as a phalanx of US military might in the region but because Vietnam jails political dissidents.

Vietnam has an estimated 400 political dissidents in jail–some of them for opposing neoliberal land grabs. Those receiving the most media attention are Catholics & it’s portrayed as an issue of religious freedom. In fact, they are the conservative opposition who played a reactionary role during French colonialism & in South Vietnam where the Catholic Church was the largest landowner. In a democracy, both rightwing & progressive forces should have the right to dissent state policies. But it’s likely the majority of political prisoners oppose the course the Vietnamese leadership is taking because it is a betrayal of economic & political democracy & of the long Vietnamese struggle against colonialism. Over 3 million people died in the Vietnam War.

In the 1980s, the leadership of Vietnam cast its lot with the IMF & World Bank, transforming the economy into private enterprises & a market-based economy. Thousands of companies have been privatized since then. Just between 2014 & 2015, Vietnam targeted the transfer of 432 businesses to private investors, mainly foreign multinationals.

Until recently, most of the privatization was in light industries, trading, & tourist services. The government dominated in telecommunications, air traffic, railways, & energy. The IMF is dissatisfied with the rate of privatization & profiteering & is pressuring the regime to step it up which means more land grabs, more opposition, more political prisoners, more economic & political dislocation for working people.

Photo is Obama on recent visit to Vietnam with president Quang. The woman seated on the right is millionaire CEO of Vietjet signing agreement with CEO of Boeing for over $11 billion in commercial jets.

(Photo by Kham/AP)

Indian police brutality against striking government workers in Kashmir

Indian police vs Srinagar strikers (REUTERS:Danish Ismail) May 25 2016

Purple rain in Srinagar 2015 (REUTERS:Danish Ismail) May 25 2016

These photos are of the several year long strike in Indian-occupied Srinagar by public service workers, teachers, health workers demanding payment of wages in arrears, regularizing their temporary jobs, & raising the retirement age by two years since India provides no social security. (There have been frequent protests in India proper for social security pensions.)

The Reuters photo on the top from yesterday has the exact same caption verbatim as the one on the bottom from a year ago. Except that in the top one, the Indian policemen is identified as using a baton against protesters & in the 2015 one they are identified as using dyed water.

Almost all reporting about this strike has focused on the habitual use of water cannons with purple rain. Headlines in western media say “Indian police use cannons filled with bright coloured water to fend off protesters” & “Purple dye used by police in Kashmiri city to identify suspects for arrest.” Who’s fending off who here? And identify suspects for what crime? They’re demanding back wages, for heaven’s sake, not storming the bastille.

The use of disproportionate force against striking & protesting workers is of a piece with the brutal methods of Indian military occupation in Kashmir. High velocity water cannons are assaultive & extremely dangerous in several ways, including knocking people down, damage to internal organs, eye injuries (including blindness), broken bones, panic, & death.

The history of water cannons against protesters is politically telling about the regimes that use them. They’re manufactured primarily in the US & UK & exported to oppressive regimes all over the world but they were first used for crowd control in 1930s Germany when Hitler came to power. The US used them most notably against the civil rights movement in the 1960s & England reportedly used them (including with purple dye) in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. They are no longer used in the US or UK–which doesn’t mean they won’t be again.

Water cannons with dye added–first experimented with in Northern Ireland–were made notorious against the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. At the now-named Purple Rain Protest in Cape Town in 1989, police turned purple water cannons on thousands of peaceful protesters who stood their ground politically by getting on their knees rather than back down against the assault. One of the protesters leapt onto the water cannon vehicle, seized the nozzle, & turned it away from protesters on to the facades of nearby buildings.

Many regimes use water cannons (including Argentina, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hungary, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Egypt, South Korea, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Germany, South Africa, Israel, Turkey, Indonesia). The most repressive put additives, including dyes, in the water cannons. Deaths were reported in Indonesia (in 1996) when the regime added ammonia; in Zimbabwe (in 2007) when peaceful protesters panicked; in Turkey (in 2013) when liquid tear gas was added; in the Ukraine (2014) when a man got pneumonia from being sprayed in freezing temperatures. Israel routinely uses a foul-smelling additive called Skunk against Palestinians. One journalist exposed to Skunk said, “if you mixed dirty diapers with not-so-fresh road kill & left them all in the sun for a few days, you might get an idea.” The smell of Skunk stays for days despite repeated washing & scrubbing.

After the 1989 anti-apartheid protest in Cape Town, purple rain became a symbol of protest & graffiti proclaiming “The Purple Shall Govern” appeared everywhere. Let the purple govern in Kashmir.

Our fullest solidarity with government workers in Kashmir.

(Photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters)

Kashmiri protests in solidarity with Gaza 2014

Kashmiri protest for Gaza 2014 (INn AMm) May 25 2016

In reviewing my posts (which go back to 2012) about the several year strike by public service workers, teachers, & health workers in Srinagar, Kashmir, I came across this photo from FB friend INn AMm in a post about Palestinian solidarity rallies in 2014.

The protest shown is one of several Palestinian solidarity rallies in Indian-occupied Kashmir during the 2014 Israeli carpet bombing siege of Gaza. There were protests around the world numbering over a million people on every continent, in every country, in major cities & small hamlets. The protests signaled that Palestinians no longer stood alone.

In Kashmir, the struggle against the occupation is now called Intifada as a tribute to Palestinians who also stand unarmed against occupation & colonialism. Because protesters in both Palestine & Kashmir are violently attacked by soldiers, this march expresses solidarity with particular power.

Long live Palestinian & Kashmiri Intifada. End the occupations. Self-determination for both.

Forgive me for not caring a fig about the firing of Matt Bruenig or the twitter storm of vituperations between him, Neera Tanden, Joan Walsh, & other “leftists.” It reflects the morass of lesser evil politics when personalities take center stage from the imperative political questions of the day like war & occupation, refugees, sweatshop economics. The fact that racism & misogyny are involved in the twitter furor does not make it more relevant but only exposes the tempest in a cesspool.

Media coverage of Kashmir avoids mention of Indian occupation

Child of broom maker in Srinagar (EPA:FAROOQ KHAN) May 24 2016

For the past several years, the only reports in western media about Kashmir were about the long-standing battles between public service workers, teachers, health workers & the Indian government in the city of Srinagar. The workers were demanding payment of wages in arrears, that all contract employees be made permanent, & to raise the retirement age by two years (India has no social security net).

What distinguished the strikes was how long they went on without resolution & the extremes of violence in police attacks on strikers, including the use of toxic purple chemical dyes in water cannons.

There is more coverage now–almost certainly in response to Kashmiri activists on social media–in an attempt to control the narrative about the Indian occupation of Kashmir. There is still little coverage of the Kashmiri Intifada but more images about everyday life in Kashmir–as if there were no occupation. There are photos of Muslim religious rituals; travelogue style images of nomadic peoples; gardening magazine shots of tulip beds.

Then there is this photo. The caption describes the little boy as the child of a broom maker playing with rotten vegetables outside his family’s makeshift tent in the outskirts of Srinagar, which is identified as the summer capital of Indian Kashmir. The caption goes on to discuss how India has the largest number of poor in the world. But if calculated as an Indian state, Kashmir has one of the lowest poverty rates in India.

Perhaps the caption could have mentioned India’s increasing militarism & the immense costs of sustaining 700,000 troops in Kashmir & the internal military operations against its own peoples. Not to mention the immense military costs it will assume as US henchman in the Asia-Pacific region. Ending the occupation & internal military forays wouldn’t solve India’s poverty problem but if Modi stopped buying weapons from Israel & the US a lot more schools & clinics could be built & a lot more jobs could be provided. It could even provide social security to its retirees.

The problem of silence about Kashmir is broader than media. In a major 2015 report by the UN on the systematic military use of sexual violence in war & occupation, they detail 19 countries but omit to cite Kashmir where it is systematically used by the Indian army.

The only solution to these deceptions is to use social media to tell the truth & for this Kashmiri activists are to be honored.

(Photo by Farooq Khan/EPA)

Shell oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

Shell oil spill in Gulf May 2016 (Rick Wilking:Reuters) May 23 2016

How many others haven’t heard about the 1,200 barrel (nearly 90 thousand US gallons) Shell oil spill in the same area of the US Gulf of Mexico as the 2010 BP oil spill that discharged 5 million barrels (210 million US gallon) & lasted for six months? How many other oil spills around the earth haven’t we been informed about?

The US government slapped BP & some of its officials with criminal charges including felony charges for the deaths of 11 oil rig workers & collected a settlement of $18.7 billion. BP claims it dispersed $54 billion for clean-up, environmental & economic damages, & penalties. That can’t be verified since the US government likely monitors any of that as little as it does oil rig operations in its territorial waters. And ‘that ain’t all she wrote.’ There are thousands of people whose health has been compromised by the oil spill, workers & fishermen who lost their livelihoods, environmental damage that cannot be repaired.

You don’t have to be an oceanographer to know that what happens in the Gulf of Mexico affects the Atlantic Ocean & other seas through tides, waves, & currents & the earth’s rotation. What happens in the Gulf doesn’t stay in the Gulf. Oceans are dynamic bodies of water now filled with oil spills & islands of plastic detritus from Walmart. Fish & migrating birds are choking on the stuff.

If those who run this planet cannot steward its resources any better than they are, our survival depends on removing them as fast as possible. No bones about it.

(Photo of recent Shell spill by Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Obama forges military alliance with Modi

Obama and Modi

The new political & military alliance between Obama for the US & prime minister Narendra Modi for India bodes not well for the people of India, Kashmir, & of the entire Asia Pacific region. The US will now recognize India as a major defense partner in a new initiative to strengthen India militarily as part of US long-term military strategy & maneuvers against China for dominance in the region.

Modi will be addressing the US Congress next month to sew up the deal which will establish a special office in the Pentagon for India, that the US will sell more military equipment & technology to India, the US & Indian navies will conduct joint maneuvers, & the US will use Indian military bases.

The US has been building up militarily in the region for a while. Their strategy includes the Trans-Pacific Partnership; a new major military base in Australia; remilitarizing the Philippines & re-establishing US bases there; remilitarizing Japan, allowing the country to deploy troops abroad for the first time since WWII, & incorporating it into an offensive naval & troop force allied with the US; annual joint military maneuvers with several South & Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, the military dictatorship of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, & now India.

India already has a dangerous military alliance with Israel including substantial arms deals & long-term contracts to train paramilitary death squads in Kashmir–& of course to use against its own increasingly dissident peoples.

There have been massive antiwar protests against these maneuvers in both the Philippines & Japan. But if this military buildup–which not only strengthens US military might but militarizes all the countries in the region–is to be stopped, there have to be antiwar protests in the US, India, the other countries of South & Southeast Asia, Australia, & all over the world. We only need look at the killing fields of the Middle East to see where this is headed.

(Photo of Obama & Modi from Press TV file)