African refugees at Ceuta enclave: a photographic damnation of EU immigration policy

Arican refugee at Ceuta. REUTERS:M. Martin) Nov 1 2016

Ceuta, Spain Nov 1 2016 (Reuters)

For the past year, there has been scant reporting on the refugee crises on all the Mediterranean routes–from North Africa to Spain & Italy & from Turkey to Greece.

When Spain introduced a new security law in late 2014, it not only gagged free speech & public protests in Spain, but it criminalized undocumented immigration from its two outposts on the North African coast–Ceuta & Melilla, which both border on Morocco & were a key transit point to Spain.

If refugees were able to cross the high razor-wire fences between the enclaves & Morocco, they stood a chance of claiming refugee status in Spain. The security law changed that & there has been no reporting on what Spain has been doing to prevent refugees from crossing.

Refugees from several countries in Africa encamped on the Morocco side waiting for opportune times to rush the fence & scale over. But in Morocco, their encampments were often attacked by Moroccan security forces & even as they scaled the fence they were assaulted from the rear as Spanish troops assaulted them as they crossed. The mostly young men were often injured severely by falling or being shredded by the razor-wire. Many drowned attempting to get around the barrier fence.

The refugees are being driven by inexorable forces like war & neoliberal economic plunder & of course continue to attempt the crossing.

These are the first photos in over a year from either of the two enclaves. They are from Ceuta. The young men are lying on the ground after crossing the fence. It’s likely they will be deported under the provisions of the 2014 security law but would not have attempted such an arduous climb if they didn’t think there was a chance to get to Europe.

Very little commentary is necessary about the photos.They show so dramatically the barbaric character of European Union immigration & refugee policy.

Immigration is a human right. Open the borders. Tear down the walls.

(Photo by RM. Martin/Reuters)

Emancipation US-style in Libya

Libya Oct 2016 (REUTERS:Hani Amara) Nov 1 2016

Emancipation US-style: these are Libyan fighters allied with the US in defending one of the two regimes in Libya–the one backed by the UN. No doubt for humanitarian reasons?

They are reportedly taking cover during a battle with ISIS militants in Sirte, Libya. Is that the battle gear the US supplies to its allies? Would they send special forces into battle with ISIS in baseball caps, sneakers, & no apparent arms?

Beware those who support a US-imposed No Fly Zone in Syria: that is how the monstrous US-NATO war in Libya began & has not ended. Those who hold up Libya as a model for how a NFZ works need their heads examined.

US out of Libya.

(Photo by Hani Amara/Reuters)

Went to a birthday party tonight for a little boy. His older brother is Miquel who I’ve known since he was two. When he was five, we went to pick him up in Mexico where he had spent the summer. He was delighted then to show me what he had learned over the summer: how to do fake farts.

Tonight, at the mature age of ten, he showed me a big sloppy blue blob which he said was his booger. At what age, does a boy grow out of gross?

I asked him & his 12-year-old cousin what they thought about the elections. Miquel said Trump was a pig for grabbing a girl “in her middle parts” & his cousin said she was moving to Canada. Out of the mouthes of babes.

The western left is a sorry-assed shadow of its former self

People should stop excoriating the western left or at least define who it is you mean. Go ahead; name names.

Do you mean the left who’ve been sitting on their asses for the past nearly 30 years chiding others that there is no antiwar movement? The left who refuse unity on life & death questions like war because of doctrinal disputes over the Russian Revolution? The left who claim Russia is still a communist country? The left who can’t believe Stalin ever murdered dissidents or operated gulags? The left who are outraged Russia was removed from the UN Human Rights Council but not Saudi Arabia? The left who don’t object to capitalist inequality if the guy running the show talks a good game? The left who can no longer tell the difference between revolution against dictatorship & counterrevolution?

Maybe you mean the ones who come to antiwar protests to break windows of local banks like they were taking down the Bastille. Or the ones whose political understanding is higher than Trump supporters but lower than the Occupy movement.

Perhaps you mean the tiny little feudal fiefdoms that call themselves socialist parties & are run by a guy with a trust fund who bosses everybody else around, dictates what they’re allowed to think, & speaks for hours to rapt disciples like it was a Tony Robbins Seminar.

There is no western left. Get over it. There is no western left because most veterans haven’t moved off their asses in 30 years (maybe 40); because too many got drained by pointless, internecine, sectarian disputes; because they don’t know how to talk or think like normal people & do that hammer & sickle routine; because they no longer debate politics but rely on celebrity leftists & academics to tell them what to think; because they’ve gotten so damn lazy & ingratiating & prefer to blame theory for all the problems rather than face up to their expiration date.

This is my 50th year as a committed activist. I’ve put up with a lot of crap in that time but I’ve also worked with untold numbers of young & old in several social movements inspired by the ideas of social transformation & who worked tirelessly to be a part of that historic mission. I refuse to give up on the emergence of a new movement. For the record, when it does emerge it will be democratic to the marrow; take my advice & run like hell to get away if it isn’t. I also refuse to identify emaciated corpses as “leftists” when they’re walking around with placards defending Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians as a freedom struggle.

Are you smarter than a Schnauzer?

Sophie-Amalia Oct 31 2016

The caption to this photo is “Are you smarter than a Schnauzer?” This is Sophie-Amalia who was rescued by a friend off the street & brought to me. She’s three times the size of my other rescues & several times smarter than me.

I’ve given up on keeping her in the yard after months of barricading every inch of the fence & with the neighbor reinforcing his side. He doesn’t like dogs & has taken a particular antipathy to Sophie who trespasses through his yard to get to the street. If he had a slingshot, she’d be toast.

When I go looking for her, she takes that as a signal to run like hell the other direction. This morning, it took me an hour & a-half to chase her through the allies & streets as she barked at dogs, chased cats & chickens, hid from me in crawl spaces under houses.
I try to be foxy with her & twiddle my thumbs looking in the other direction to see if she’ll try to escape & I can plug up the weak spot in the fence. (She can’t stay long in the house because she menaces & scares my birds.) But she’s smart enough to go to college & waits me out. As soon as I go in the house, she’s off & running. She usually hangs around outside the yard but I can never trust she won’t go too far.

No one knows better than me that I’m being played for a fool by my Schnauzer. She needs an energetic caretaker who will understand she’s a free spirit–by which I mean, she won’t tolerate a leash. (I can rescue them; I can’t train them.) She’s up for adoption but her high energy scared the hell out of the family that recently came to check her out. She makes me so damn mad but she is also the sweetest, most affectionate little barker you’ll ever meet & loves to be held like a baby.

She’s spayed, up-to-date on her shots, & has a clean bill of health from the vet.

Just so we’re clear about who Syria & Russia are bombing in Syria: civilians

Abu Omar's shelter in Douma (SAMEER AL-DOUMY : AFP - Getty Images) Oct 31 2016

Just so we’re clear who are being bombed when Syrian & Russian war planes drop bunker buster bombs to destroy underground shelters:

A Syrian man named Abu Omar who lives in the rebel-held town of Douma (on the outskirts of Damascus) dug an underground shelter with the help of his neighbor to protect his family from Syrian & Russian bombing. It took them two weeks to build to build a single room with an air vent.

It’s not reported whether this little boy climbing out of the shelter is Abu Omar’s son or a neighbor child.

(Photo by Sameer al-Doumy/AFP/Getty Images)

Analysis of Syrian revolutionist, Yassin al-Haj Saleh

Yassen al-Haj Saleh (3)

In contrast to the shabby theoretics & apologetics of Assad supporters–many of whom are westerners–there are the voices of experienced Syrian political activists, of those who know the autocratic character of the Assad regime, understand the complexities of Syrian society & politics, have experienced its gulag, & fight to transform Syrian society.

The depth & character of their analyses make short shrift of the rubbish pumped out by Global Research & other conspiracy asylums. This essay titled “Syria, Iran, ISIS & the Future of Social Justice” by Yassin al-Haj Saleh, now in exile in Turkey, was written in May 2015, before Russia entered the war in September to rescue the weakening Assad counterrevolution against the popular movement.

He does not present the simple-minded view of Assad supporters that Assad, Russia, & Iran are fighting US-backed “jihadists” in a regime-change operation–or what he calls “the reductionist image of modernist Assad versus terrorist fundamentalists”–& he certainly doesn’t use the language of Muslim-hating US war propaganda. But he is able to elaborate (without the caricatures of Assad supporters) the emergence of fundamentalism & its role in Syrian politics.

It we want to understand the war in Syria we are advised to study Syrian revolutionists & not use Russian or Iranian media or, heaven forbid, Global Research as political scripture.

(Photo is Yassin al-Haj Saleh)

The Military Design by Rollie Mukherjee

Rollie Mukherjee The Military Design Oct 30 2016

“The Military Design” by Rollie Mukherjee depicting the occupation in Kashmir: the brutal siege continues with thousands injured, assaulted, arrested, disappeared. It is a time of requiems & resistance.

“This work,” Rollie said, “is about the traces of the beloved who are gone, disappeared or killed. It tries to evoke a certain sense of loss & confusion, & the intermingling of the reality of the present & memories of the past. These are about marks & wounds which are not external but internal.”

Her description of the work reads .”one can see a camouflage of design created by skulls..skeletons. vertebrates. flowers …………..what is seen visibly as set pattern are the troops…showing kashmir as densely militarized….they are the terror face in the valley……, a network of armed men standing upon the buried skeletons guarding just the land..the projected design in multi-color, camouflages the skulls,..skeletons,. vertebrates………these floral pattern are made to conceal the skeletons ………….actually when u see the painting you don’t recognize the skeletons at 1st sight…… but when u view it from a close proximity….. it reveals…itself…..what is seen visibly as set pattern are the troops.”

Long live Kashmiri Intifada. End the occupation. Self-determination for Kashmir.

On the resignation of Rania Khalek from Electronic Intifada

The resignation of Rania Khalek as an editor at Electronic Intifada is not disappointing. Her comments on the war in Syria were inflammatory, including indicting civilians being bombed in Aleppo as “jihadists” & claiming they used their children as human shields.

The last straw was certainly that she agreed to speak at a conference in Damascus organized by Assadists, most prominently the father-in-law of Bashar al-Assad.

The campaign against her, however, was not an attempt to win her over with political polemics but a vituperative bullying campaign by those who support US intervention against Assad. On the question of a US-imposed No Fly Zone, she was not wrong.

Her influence in Palestinian solidarity was becoming destructive but regrettably many in the solidarity movement share her political perspectives about Syria. It’s difficult for people to be collegial in a debate that involves life & death questions like the bombing of civilians or the torture & murder of political dissidents; like the deaths of 400,000 people & 4-million driven into exile. We are going to have to hone our polemical skills more finely than our vituperations if we hope to win the errant, many of whom are confused, back to a consistent antiwar solidarity.

Kofi Annan & the Rakhine Commission: see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil

Rakhine Commission in teleconference with K. Annan Oct 30 2016

Last August, Aung San Suu Kyi appointed Kofi Annan to head the 9-member Rakhine Commission tasked with “conflict resolution, humanitarian assistance, reconciliation & development” in Arakan state.”

After the Commission convened in September, Annan went on a two-day whirlwind tour of Arakan state. In a press conference the next day in Yangon, he told reporters, “We are not here to do a human rights investigation or to write a human rights report”…but to write an “impartial report” of recommendations “to reduce tension & support development” in Arakan state.” He also told reporters that “personally” he did not witness genocide or persecution of Rohingya in Arakan.

On October 18th, several days into the current genocidal military assaults on Rohingya in Arakan state, Annan tweeted, “I am in constant contact with my Commissioners over the situation in Rakhine state” & he showed this photo of his commissioners in teleconference with him. He then cancelled his planned October 21st visit to Maungdaw District which is the center of the military assaults in Arakan.

Annan already made it clear to reporters that his commission was a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil” kind of operation–a snow job, a cover for the Myanmar regime, which is a military junta fronted by Suu Kyi. When he backed out of visiting Arakan state, it was to make damn sure he plays the role Myanmar compensates him for.

If he had gone to Arakan state, he would have witnessed the military-imposed state of emergency with a curfew from 7pm to 6am only applicable to Rohingya, not Buddhists. He would unavoidably have seen whole villages torched & heard reports from residents of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, rape by soldiers. He would have seen the military occupation. But our man Annan didn’t want to see that because he’s been commissioned to play stupid & whitewash genocide.

The composition of the Rakhine Commission reeks of snow job. Out of the nine members, three don’t even live in Myanmar. If the other six are acceptable to the junta & Suu Kyi, they are likely entirely compromised & of no damn use to justice. There isn’t a single Rohingya member from human rights groups in Arakan state.
Human rights groups like Amnesty International heralded the Rakhine Commission but those who oppose genocide against Rohingya & demand justice cannot afford such credulity & should hold Annan accountable for his betrayals–although, of course, they are not his first. Betrayal of freedom struggles is how he made his living.

End the genocide of Rohingya. End the military siege in Arakan state.

(Photo is the Rakhine Commission meeting in comfortable suites in Yangon, far from the state of siege.)