Political degeneration among US antiwar activists: their road to obliviion

Recently, I’m encountering the notion that the US antiwar movement is only responsible for opposing US wars & thus can take no position on Russian & Syrian bombing of civilians. Where the hell did that come from!? It reeks not just of provincialism but of supremacism.

The anti-Vietnam War movement was international, involving millions of people in almost every country around the world. We coordinated protests & millions marched on the same day around the world. Solidarity wasn’t based on the involvement of their countries in the Vietnam War but on opposition to US militarism & steadfast support for the Vietnamese. That internationalism prevailed, even if to a lesser degree, in every war since then, whether it was conducted by the US, UK, Russia, or NATO.

This represents a profound political degeneration because it is a slick attempt not just to avoid condemning Russian & Syrian bombing of civilians but a sneaky-assed endorsement of that bombing. Those who are heading down that road are advised to rethink where they’re going because it’s a well-trodden path leading to oblivion after betrayal of international solidarity.

Pellet injuries continue on day 109 of siege in Kashmir

Pelletinjuries to eye (Greater Kashmir) Oct 25 2016

Day 109 of the military siege in Kashmir: doctors at SMHS hospital in Srinagar say 523 of the 1,065 pellet victims with injuries to the eye, are below the age of 20; 101 are under the age of 15; & one little girl was 4.

These four young men, the most recent victims, are unable to see with their injured perforated eyes. According to them & the attendant of one of them, they were fired at without provocation: “A cavalcade of forces was returning from somewhere & when they saw people assembled, they fired pellets indiscriminately.”

These four youth come from poor families & now have to deal with recovery & loss or impairment of vision without sufficient rehab & social services.

End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

(Photo & info from Greater Kashmir)

Duterte continues death squads; Stalinists laud him

Victim of vigilantes in Manila (REUTERS:Damir Sagolj ) Oct 25 2016

This is the body of a young man killed by vigilantes in Manila, Philippines as part of Duterte’s war on drugs. Duterte’s death squads have killed nearly 4,000 alleged drug users & street peddlers since he took office on June 30th. He referred to innocent people & children killed as “collateral damage.”

On October 20th, the Philippine Communist Party issued a several page assessment of Duterte’s 3-1/2 month tenure. Their apologia is as politically repugnant as the mountains of tracts written to defend Stalin’s crimes. They must have no idea of how capitalism works or how loudmouth demagogues operate because they minimized his human rights crimes & lauded how he grandstands against the US government.

The creepy thing is that now antiwar activists from the Stalinist tradition in the US are holding forums honoring the Philippine Communist Party as a beacon for humanity.

So now we know why there is no Soviet Union anymore. In its degeneration, it was only able to attract the criminal element. It doesn’t matter if Duterte talks trash to the US if he is shooting down poor people in the streets. If you don’t get that please don’t call yourself a socialist because you have more affinity with serial killers.

Our condolences to the family of this young man. May he RIP.

(Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

Forcible evacuation of Jungle refugee camp at Calais

Evacuation of Jungle at Calais (REUTERS:Pascal Rossignol) Oct 25 2016

With the forcible evacuation today of 8,143 refugees from the “Jungle” refugee camp at Calais, the European Union & France can drop any pretentious claims to the values of the Enlightenment. The camp will be dismantled & refugees will be transferred to “reception centers,” which is a deceptive term for squalid, overcrowded prisons where they wait out deportation. Nearly 1,300 of them are unaccompanied minors who have not fared well under EU management & have reportedly ended up trafficked.

This monstrous violation of refugee & human rights comes just after the EU’s unsavory deal with Afghanistan to deport tens of thousands of Afghans in exchange for international assistance & after the EU’s money deal with Turkey to take back Syrian, Pakistani, Iraqi, & other refugees deported from Europe.

And that ain’t even the half of it: hundreds of African refugees continue to drown on the Libya to Italy route despite European fleets prowling the Mediterranean.

Refugee & immigrant rights have become absolutely central to democracy today. It doesn’t matter that capitalism in its barbaric phase has made such a disaster of life for working people even in the richest countries & claims there are no resources for refugees. If those regimes weren’t involved in wars, genocides, & plunder there would be no refugees. Who in the hell would want to come to Europe & the US when they are run by savages who treat human beings like dirt? They have every obligation under international law to accept & provide services to refugees. That’s the way civilized people roll.

These are refugees being evacuated & shipped to the prisons to wait out deportation.

Immigration is a human right. Open the damn borders.

(Photo by Pascal Rossignol/Reuters)

Haiti, sweatshops, & Hillary Clinton

Hait and Hillary Clinton

This is a repost from October 25th 2012. Most of my posts about the role of Bill Clinton in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake were deleted by FB but I followed it very closely for a long time. I can never forget what the Clintons did to the people of Haiti when thousands were psychologically reeling from the earthquake, living without shelter, health care, or even toilets & clean water, while the Clinton Foundation made off with millions & colluded with Duvalier, Martelly, Sean Penn, & the US government to turn Haiti into a sweatshop nation.
Haiti is open for plunder! Both of the Clintons joined Haitian president, Michel Martelly–along with a glamorous entourage of movie stars Sean Penn, Maria Bello, & Ben Stiller, fashion designer Donna Karan, model Petra Nemcova, British flyboy Richard Branson, USAID & State Department functionaries, bankers from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) & other investors–in the opening ceremony of the $300 million Caracol Industrial Park in northern, rural Haiti. According to media flattery, the work of both Clintons in Haiti–in particular this industrial park–will shape their political legacy. Damn straight it will! It already earns them a special place in hell & merits them a special tribunal for human rights crimes against the people of Haiti. But loathsome as the Clintons are, they are not down there in some rogue capacity; they are agents of US government policy.

After the January 2010 earthquake, US & other international power brokers moved swiftly to establish a decision-making system in Haiti which took all power out of the hands of Haitians & institutions run by & accountable to them. They set up the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) headed by Bill Clinton–not because of his organizing talents but because of his treachery. Michel Martelly was the IHRC candidate of choice to run for president in 2011. Martelly is a former honky-tonk singer, committed Duvalierist, & admitted participant in the Tonton Macoutes, paramilitary death squads Duvalier used in a reign of terror against political opponents: hundreds of thousands of people were disappeared, tortured, murdered, stoned, burned alive, their corpses put on display & often hung in trees. Family members who tried to remove the bodies for burial often disappeared themselves.

When the Clintons speak they are at pains to explain how they’re “working for the Haitians,” are “Haitian-led” & “helping the Haitian people to achieve their own dreams.” If that’s true they have to explain why this project is at odds not with the dreams but the expressed demands of the Haitian people. The Clintons, et al, explain this industrial park will bring up to 65,000 Haitian jobs. But of course, just to remove the earthquake rubble, find ways to reuse it, construct & repair homes, build sanitation systems, health clinics & schools would take even more workers–in the cities where they live & not in the countryside where they don’t. The IHRC has prioritized & fast-tracked infrastructure projects like this industrial park, highways, telecom, building the tourist industry, & privatizing public services not because these are the dreams of Haitians but because they suit the needs of international capital & exploitation which wants to turn Haiti into a Caribbean sweatshop.

Even a cursory look at this park project will expose the truth since it’s what’s not explained that damns the whole project: first of all, more than 300 small farmers were forcibly displaced from their holdings to make way for the industrial park; the Haitian government simply claimed the land as state property. It is prime agricultural land & environmentally essential. Turning it into a giant sweatshop reduces the already compromised ability of Haiti to produce food for its people, & the oil-burning power plant funded by USAID will destroy the environment.

The park’s anchor tenant is Sae-A, a South Korean garment company notorious & nearly run out of Guatemala on a rail for egregious labor violations, including violence against workers. They expect to pay workers $5 a day to make clothes for stores like Walmart & the Gap. In fact, Sae-A recently shipped its first order of Haitian-made garments to Walmart. They were persuaded to set up the sweatshop by walking into a ready-made factory with tax & tariff accommodations to make it super-profitable to them. Sean Penn, the willing stooge of US colonialism in Haiti, lauds Sae-A for their “maverick nature” but sycophants like him can’t distinguish the antisocial from the maverick. The only other tenant so far is Peintures Caraïbes, a Haitian paint manufacturer, who expects to hire 300 workers max. Their presence is a gesture to cover the colonialism of the whole project.

The reason Penn & the other movie stars are there is to help peddle this crap not just to Haitians but to the rest of us; the reason Karan is there is likely so she’ll get her ritzy clothes made there cheap; & the reason Branson is there is because building up tourism is part of the master plan for Haiti, which includes expansion of the Cap Haitien airport to accommodate international flights. Of course, this master plan was determined by international power brokers & predators, not subject to the voice of the Haitian people themselves. The good news is there are reports of massive protests in Port-au-Prince against the policies of Martelly & neoliberalism. Demand the US & its predatory allies get the hell out of Haiti; Haiti for & by the Haitians!

(Photo by Larry Downing/Reuters)

Media lies. Get over it.

In my youth, it was common for activists to believe that if media knew the truth, they would publish it. Some began pulling stunts to garner media attention even though some of the stunts endangered peaceful protesters. Media continued to ignore antiwar protests in the thousands to report on hoola-hoop & pie-eating contests or would reduce the numbers protesting to the handful of activists pulling stunts. Yes, media is not always a reliable source of complete information.

Now the mantra is that media lies & is not worth reading. One could only say that if you never read the media because though it is always tendentious, it is also an essential source for all sorts of political information. Usually you have to read many sources to piece together what happened but you cannot understand the world we live in if you do not read the ‘media that lies’ as well as the media that claims it doesn’t.

I once attended a talk by the NY Times reporter who covered the 1968 uprising in Czechoslovakia which Soviet troops crushed. The NY Times reports & US media in general completely agreed with the Soviet media that it was an uprising against socialism. The immense body of literature pouring out of Czechoslovakia from organizations & activists before the military crackdown made it absolutely clear that what they wanted was a democratic socialism, not Stalinist autocracy.

So I asked the NY Times reporter why his coverage agreed with Soviet coverage, why he never reported about the democracy movement & its demands? He was incensed & flustered & said I ambushed him. You bet your sweet ass I did. Because his reporting was dishonest. But have I stopped reading the NY Times because I know its reporting is tendentious? Of course not, because it is an invaluable source for knowing what they think & what they are trying to convince others about & it is also a source of elementary information.

Media has to be taken seriously because it is not an option whether you read it or not if you want to understand political realities.

One of the leading figures in the Hands off Syria campaign which opposes US intervention but supports Assad & Russian bombing once told me she was the FBI agent who would have approved flagging my criminal record for using weapons of mass destruction. But, she claimed, she “must have been away that day.”

The charge came out of a 2001 protest against experimenting on living animals. We were surrounded by 850 riot cops & to prevent being beaten I stood up & gave a speech to onlookers that we were denied our rights to assemble but wanted to leave peacefully, without incident, & in any manner the police determined. The speech did prevent an assault but ninety of us were arrested; nearly half were later released as undercover agents.

Having that WMD charge placed on my criminal record in an act of vindictiveness has prevented me from getting any job which requires a criminal background check & from fostering children even though I have never been arrested, interrogated, charged, or prosecuted for using any kind of weapon.

Only the few who refused to sign agreements were prosecuted. In a trial that lasted a week, I was acquitted of all misdemeanor charges. The judge actually scoffed that charges were brought against me. But when I applied to work as a substitute teacher in Texas in 2009, I was told of the WMD charge on my criminal record which costs thousands of dollars to remove. I have also been declined other jobs as a result.

Is there any compelling reason why I would follow the political leadership of someone who was messing with people’s lives while I was organizing against war?