US Army Corps of Engineers give eviction notice to Standing Rock Sioux encampment

Oceti Sakowin camp (REUTERS:Stephanie Keith) Nov 28 2016

The US Army Corps of Engineers (an agency of the US Pentagon) informed the Standing Rock Sioux tribe last Friday that on December 5th (a week from today), they will begin closing down the Oceti Sakowin encampment where opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline from around the country have set up base. The US Army Corps said it would arrest residents for trespassing & prosecute them under federal, state, & local laws.

It was reported a few months ago that members of over 300 Native American tribes from around the US, between 3,000 & 4,000 pipeline opponents, & thousands more on weekends live in that camp to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux–even during the onset of a brutal North Dakota winter.

Today, after Standing Rock Sioux leaders said they intend to stand their ground & not leave, the US Army Corps said it will not forcibly remove solidarity activists next Monday. There’s no way they can remove activists who have no intention of leaving without using force. The international attention & opposition to the violations of Indian sovereignty in North Dakota have made the US government uncertain about how to handle this. The use of excessive force is necessary against intransigent opposition but they know it will incite more widespread solidarity & active opposition.

Not everyone can camp out in North Dakota. But there are rallies around the country, including in Washington DC this weekend. Here are some links where you can render financial & other support:…/red-warrior-camp-legal-fund-no…

Photo is Oceti Sakowin solidarity encampment.

(Thanks to Ingrid Elísabet for the links)

(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

Maybe one of Jill Stein’s supporters can explain to us better than she has what the hell this recount baloney is all about? It seems the essence of pedantry. Is there anything to be gained to the advantage of the Bill of Rights?

If God is behind those fires in Israel & the West Bank he has to be told to stay the hell out of politics

Some commented with triumph that the fires in Israel were God’s wrath & punishment. Since the fires also hit the West Bank, God must be going after Palestinians too.

By such mean-spirited logic, all who suffer in the world are being punished for something. Like the Rohingya Muslims? Kashmiris & Palestinians? Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Yemenis? The refugees who drowned in the sea?

Wouldn’t that mean the oppressed deserve war, occupation, genocide & make the oppressors the agents of divine retribution? Wouldn’t that make drone & barrel bombs, pellet guns, summary executions, torture & all the other forms of violence just God’s ways of delivering retribution?

If all that is not just human malice projected as the voice of God, maybe we should tell God to stay the hell out of politics.

Catching up on reading my messages from Facebook friends & came across this from the day after the US election:

“I congratulate President-Elect Donald Trump on his historic election as the President of the United States. I wish him much success in leading the way to renew the ties of United States with her time tested allies & friends in the world, especially in South Asia. I hope he will focus keenly to bring peace & stability around the world & demonstrate deliberate leadership in resolving the conflicts in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. We must trust & work together to crush terrorism & eliminate extremism from a position of strength. United States should not quit from Afghanistan; it’s combat troop draw-down should be effect-related & not time-related.”

There are just some friendships that weren’t meant to be. You have to put up with this stuff from relatives at family reunions but not on FB from a guy who lives 3,000 miles away.

Get a grip on that fascism has come to US crap

Too many people are saying fascism has already taken over the US. So much dramatics, not enough good sense. There’s something so insular about that. For heaven’s sake! Take a look at what’s going on in Syria, Palestine, Kashmir, Arakan state, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya–& get a grip.

Fascism is a very particular form of rule; it doesn’t just mean attacks on the Bill of Rights or a president with fascistic ideas. When you lose your sense of perspective & panic, it’s because you have no sense of the power of popular mobilizations or maybe no inclination to organize.

We have a tradition of political opposition to injustice in this country & it’s based on unity between people with different ideas but the same goals. If people will stop hating on the “Dem-libs” & anti-Trump protesters we can collaborate with them to stand against injustice (like at Standing Rock), defend the Bill of Rights & thereby strengthen the ground against the rise of extreme right-wing politics.

The most important defense against fascism, bar none, is to rebuild the international antiwar movement because what we allow done in our names to other countries will come home to roost. Solidarity is the iron law of social transformation & the preventive against fascism & every other form of tyranny.

If fascism comes to America it will likely show up in Texas first. So will resistance to it. If you don’t hear red alerts from us, proceed with exercising all your rights.

Questions about accusations of Palestinian arsonists & the forensics on those fires in Israel & the West Bank

Map of Israeli fires Nov 27 2016

The wave of fires in Israel began last Tuesday. One Israeli media source (Ynet) said there were over 630 fires, both urban & wildfire, from the Dead Sea region to the northernmost coastal town in Israel. Haaretz however reports 90 fires in Israel last week. According to Israeli officials, the fires were not all extinguished until yesterday.

This map of the fires, posted November 24th, clearly does not show the scope of the fires in Israel–whether it was 630 or 90–but does show part of the West Bank in the epicenter of the fires.

Neither Ynet or Haaretz mention that fires began in the West Bank as early as Tuesday but Palestinian media (IMEMC) reported that by Thursday, Palestinian firefighters had responded to over 68 fires. There were headlines in all major media about fires “spreading” to settlements in the West Bank & about evacuating the settlers to safety but nary a word about Palestinian villagers in the path of the fires. Did those fires “spread” from Israel or were they caused by drought conditions effecting the entire region?

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated while firefighting planes from Israel & several other countries were dumping tonnes of water & retardant chemicals on fires in the cities, forests, & shrub lands. Media was reporting them as wildfires due to two months of drought in the region & saying they were spread by high temperatures & dry winds. But in less than 48 hours Israeli officials, including Netanyahu & Shin Bet, were claiming the fires were “pyroterrorism” & “fire intifada.”

Today Israeli media is reporting that 30 Palestinians have already been arrested as suspected arsonists, that 23 of them are still being held, & that Israeli security forces are out hunting for other Palestinians suspected of pyroterrorism. Israeli officials refuse to release the details of the charges but did tell Haaretz that of the 90 fires, at least 40 were arson for political reasons.

Now we just need to get this information straight because those of us who are regular viewers of crime & forensic investigation shows on TV know there are lots of problems & disagreements among fire experts associated with the forensics of fire & arson. How exactly did Israel get forensics teams into those cities & woodlands whilst planes were dumping tonnes of water & retardant chemicals? Forensics teams begin by locating the source of the fire. Does Israel have specially trained K-9 dog units that can locate the fire source–in large cities with hundreds of apartment buildings–& just in a couple days determine the cause was arson rather than wildfires spread by winds? Has anyone ever heard of a forensics team being that fast in their determinations about the cause of one fire, let alone 90 to 630?

But there is a much bigger problem in the pyroterrorism tale. Maybe this map is wrong because there is no media coverage of fires in the West Bank except for that report in IMEMC & reports about fire threatening the settlements. From the map, it appears that the epicenter of the fires included the Haifa & Northern Districts of Israel & at least half of the West Bank. Of the just over 3-million Israeli residents in the Haifa & Northern Districts, close to a third are Palestinian-Israelis. There are nearly two million Palestinians in the West Bank along with about 388,000 Jewish settlers. That means the fires jeopardized the lives & property of about 2.5 million Palestinians & 2.4 million Israeli Jews in the areas worst hit.

If in fact it was Palestinian arsonists who set the fires, they would have to be among the world’s dumbest criminals & have nothing to do with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination against Israeli colonialism.

The whiff of propaganda is coming off the pyroterrorism narrative. If Israeli officials want to make it even marginally credible they will have to publish the entire forensics analyses of all the 90–or is it 630?–fires. In fact, they would have to allow independent fire investigators to examine the evidence.

(Map is from israelpalestine website)

Chomsky told Mehdi Hasan that “leftists” who didn’t vote for Clinton to block Trump made a “bad mistake.” That’s not old age talking. He’s been slinging that hash for decades. He panics right around election time.

Wisest to have teachers, not gurus in politics. Study all the options, learn to think for yourself, learn from mistakes & misjudgments. No one is infallible or speaks ex cathedra in a complicated world.

Rally in Kuala Limpur against Myanmar genocide of Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya rally in Kuala Lampur Nov 25 2016 (Getty)

Rally at the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia on Friday, the international Day of Rage against genocide by the Burmese military of Rohingya Muslims:

It’s entirely likely the Myanmar military junta, in an act of cynical realpolitik, made Aung San Suu Kyi the facade for genocide & of a democracy that does not exist under their rule. She can travel the world drumming up investments in Myanmar & feted as a human rights champion whilst the military goes on rampage in Arakan state. Those who honor her don’t ask questions; if a reporter slips one by about the Rohingya, she answers with her mantra “it will all be investigated in due time.”

Suu Sky is no ventriloquist dummy. She knows her assigned role & has demonstrated over & over again her wholehearted complicity in genocide. Suu Kyi won’t go down in history as a champion of democracy but as a defender of genocide & exploitation. A legacy of shame in exchange for a titled sinecure & some worthless honorifics.

The contrast is dramatic between the vilification of Fidel Castro, who was never accused of genocide or of complicity in human rights crimes of such proportions, & the glorification of Aung San Suu Kyi who is the public face of genocide in Myanmar. Cuba sustained a US embargo whilst investment money from the US, Europe, India, China, & elsewhere is pouring into Myanmar.

The international solidarity movement in defense of Rohingya Muslims has emerged–thanks to the efforts of Rohinga in exile.

End the genocide against Rohingya. Full human, democratic, citizen rights for Rohingya in Myanmar. Full refugee rights for those in exile.

On the death of Fidel Castro

Fidel and Che (DeAgostini:Getty Images)  Nov 26 2016

Fidel Castro died yesterday at the age of 90. He was vilified as a dictator by the US & its Cold War allies & glorified with uncritical sycophancy by others.

His political policies can only be understood in the context of the US embargo imposed to destroy Cuba as an economic & political model of freedom from exploitation. Without the Cuban Revolution & the leadership of Fidel Castro, whatever the weaknesses, Cuba would today resemble Haiti which US violent exploitation is trying to make the Caribbean showpiece of sweatshop economics & brutal tyranny.

One can make many criticisms of Fidel Castro’s policies but one can never fault him for his profound commitment to making the world a better place for working people. Forging against the insuperable odds of the US embargo, his policies eliminated homelessness in Cuba, created universal free healthcare & one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Democratic rights often got lost in the shuffle but it was not even close to a dictatorship as the US claimed.

Not every Cuban leader deserves our respect; most world leaders deserve none. One doesn’t have to be an uncritical disciple of Fidel Castro, rendering apologia for his mistakes, to honor him as a giant among us, a person who put nothing before his commitment to human freedom from exploitation. He could have been “somebody” in the world, feted by the US & world leaders if he had been willing to sacrifice that commitment to expedience & glory. Such self-aggrandizement was beneath him.

Where he failed, it is for us to understand & not deny. We should wish to emulate the best of Fidel Castro which was his resolute desire to make the world suitable for human beings to live & love in. That determination was as forceful in him at the age of 90 as it was in his youth when he led the Cuban Revolution against US colonial domination.

Photo is Fidel Castro & Che Guevara. Our deepest respect. May they Rest In Peace.

(Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Guarani struggle against neoliberal policies in Brazil

Guarani Nov 26 2016

This is re-posted from November 26, 2013 because it has to do with the Guarani people in Brazil & their remarkable struggle against neoliberal economic policies involving land grabs, destruction of their culture, environmental devastation–the same process going on in North Dakota with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. For those who consider Dilma Rousseff a champion of working & indigenous people, much of this was under her regime.

Since October Guarani Nandeva Indians have occupied over 14 “farms” outside the municipality of Japora in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil–claiming them as their ancestral lands–& legally declared so by the Brazilian Supreme Court in 2005. This young man stands watch at a roadblock they built to keep “farmers” out after an occupation (Nov 22nd).

The so-called “farms” are soybean & corn plantations & the “farmers” are transplanted US Midwesterners transmogrified into Brazilian plantation owners. As US farms ceased soybean production in favor of corn for the ethanol market (from the early 1990s), soy production increased at the rate of 14% a year in Latin American countries of the Amazon Basin, leading some to call the region Soylandia. Brazil, the heart of Soylandia, is now the world’s biggest soybean exporter as well as a leading exporter of beef, poultry, pork, ethanol, sugar (primarily from corn), & other products. Mato Grosso is now the largest soybean producing state in Brazil.

Soybean production & the growing corn & sugarcane industries are massively contributing to deforestation & global warming by pushing cattle ranchers further north into rainforest zones (according to an environmental study). The main demand for soybeans is not culinary as tofu & miso but industrial as nontoxic & biodegradable products to replace petroleum-based polyurethanes in paints, solvents, textiles, lubricants, plastics, foam insulation in construction, foam cushions in car seats, backing for artificial turf, & as biodiesel. As one media source reports, “Brazil is positioned to become the Saudi Arabia of biofuels.”

The considerable commercial stakes for agribusiness more than explain the extreme violence used against the Guarani & other Indigenous peoples of Brazil. Their ancestral lands have been forcibly taken from them & claimed by agribusiness interests with private militia & goon squads while the Brazilian government auctions off the lands at bargain basement prices. Every year dozens of Indigenous activists are assassinated. Their communities have been torched & they are forced to live in roadside encampments overlooking the ancestral lands which were the foundations of their economic, cultural, & spiritual lives.

The Guarani have continually fought for their land rights–in the courts, in the legislature, & in public protest & have been answered with physical intimidation & legal appeals justifying theft by plantation owners & occupation & forcible evictions by Brazilian military & police. The Brazilian government conducts a regular dog & pony show of legal & legislative maneuvers to convince the Guarani they stand a chance of having their lands demarcated against the incursion of plantations. But as of only a few years ago, only seven territories were mapped of the 600 tribal demarcation plans pending.

The Guarani & other Indigenous peoples cannot stand alone forever with bows & arrows against ruthless military arsenals. The increasing & very high suicide rate among their young shows the toll this struggle for survival is taking on them. Their struggle is not just for their land rights but in the interests of global ecology. An active solidarity with them is in the interests of all humanity & we need to start looking for effective ways to assert that solidarity.

(Photo by Lunae Parracho/Reuters)