Growing up with ancient history

Taj Mahal

Abhijan Choudhury is showing me his photo album of the extraordinary Taj Mahal which he pointed out is 500 years old. Now he tells me he lives near another monument nearly 800 years old.

It reminds me of the time about 2007 when my friend Melanie Benson, a city bus driver in Minneapolis, asked me to drive some lost passengers from her bus to the St. Paul Cathedral near where I lived.

The passengers were tourists from Mexico City & wanted to visit the cathedral, which I didn’t want to tell them wasn’t that impressive & actually quite stodgy. Until I left Minnesota, I’d never seen anything over 75 years old other than the cathedral because Indian culture had by my youth been effaced. So to impress them, I mentioned the cathedral was nearly 150 years old. The man made some unseemly gurgling noises in my direction & haughtily told me the cathedral in Mexico City was closer to 600 years old.

It must have a profound affect on a culture to grow up with a sense of such ancient roots & ancestry. It certainly creates an uprootedness for those of us without such a sense of cultural heritage & history.

John Kerry on bantustates for Palestinians

John Kerry said the US cannot “in good conscience turn a blind eye to Palestinian actions that fan hatred & violence.” Takes your breath away, doesn’t it? They’re supposed to let crazed free-loaders from around the world just come in & take their lands away & raze entire Palestinian villages?

Kerry was giving a speech justifying a bantustate solution for Palestinians & said a “unitary state” is not in US interests. In fact the US does want a unitary state: a Zionist state ethnically cleansed of all Palestinians. That’s why the Obama administration just gave Israel $38 billion in military aid which it will use to bomb the hell out of Gaza & maintain military occupation of the West Bank.

Kerry needs to stop talking from both sides of his ass about those settlements. It was in the last faux-snit between Obama & Netanyahu about a year ago that the Obama administration boasted how the US pays moving expenses for settlers moving to the West Bank & subsidizes Hebrew language classes, & other programs for new settlers.

Assad claims mass graves in east Aleppo: he can bring in independent forensic teams if he’s not lying through his ass again

There’s a terrible, gruesome story being circulated by Russian media & Assad supporters about mass graves found in Aleppo with children who’ve been mutilated & dismembered by the “jihadist terrorists.”

If it’s true & verifiable, the Assad regime should immediately demand independent forensics investigators to enter Aleppo as well as allow foreign media to enter the city to report about it.

There are credible independent forensics investigative teams from Argentina who developed their expertise by examining the graves of those tens of thousands disappeared in Argentina’s “dirty war” from 1974 to 1983. Mexican parents of the 43 Ayotzinapa students disappeared in 2014 called on the Argentinian forensics teams to examine mass graves in Mexico to identify the remains of their sons.

If Assad supporters aren’t just blowing smoke up our butts again, then they should immediately encourage him to contact the Argentine forensics teams. The forensics teams would however be advised to bring only the Christians & leave any Jewish or Muslim members at home for their safety.

Mother Agnes Mariam: the crazy-assed nun who is Assad’s most pious propagandist

The bus

Apologies for this vile cartoon which is posted only to expose Assad’s favorite apologist, Mother Agnes of the Mutilated Truth:

Mother Agnes Mariam de la Croix is a Christian nun & mother superior of a monastery in Syria appropriately named St James the Mutilated because as an Assad supporter no one can mutilate reality in more pious language than Mother Agnes.

She’s one of those “political savants” who feel their way by animosities to political commitments & very early outspokenly denounced the popular uprising against Assad’s dictatorship. As a mother superior enforcing the vow of obedience which tolerates no ifs, ands, or buts from subordinates, autocracy must be the strong affinity that drew her to dictatorship. It remained steadfast even after Assad accidentally bombed her convent.

In 2012, she told an Australian interviewer that the Syrian uprising
had “steadily became a violent Islamist expression against a liberal secular society.” As if conservative autocratic nuns value a secular society! That’s a new one in propaganda.

The cynical, lying-assed nun is an unofficial spokesperson for the Assad regime, is frequently interviewed on Russia Today, & in 2013 was toured by Assadist groups throughout the US, Europe, & Canada mostly to church groups since they play an important role in the antiwar movement. She is a favorite of Assad supporters, feeding their hatred of Muslims with such divinely inspired malignancy. Fares Shehabi, the Assad official in Aleppo & point man for foreign propagandists like Beeley & Bartlett, posts her rancidities & she is often quoted since she’s a cornucopia of lies.

She plays that nun thing to the hilt but it’s hard to fool those of us who know the inside workings of convents. She said when she lived in Lebanon she used to hate Syrians for bombing Lebanon but then had a conversion on the road to Damascus & “learned never to hate anyone.” On her Twitter wall she says: “Jesus-Christ fills me with His Life. The Holy Spirit of God guides us in a wonderful way.” In a pig’s eye, Mother Agnes! Cut the crap! Don’t blame any holy spirits for the Islamophobic voices in your head,

How does she explain this absolutely racist cartoon she posted on Twitter with the comment “Another scope on the pluralistic Syrian revolution”?

In the past few months, about 250 Facebook friends & I have parted ways over their “head-chopping jihadist” posts. Some say that’s censorious & creates an echo-chamber excluding dissident voices.

Hate-filled politics are depressing as hell & bring you down. You can’t have useful discussions with people who don’t share the same sense of reality; with those willfully ignorant & guided in politics by animosities; with those who claim bombing of civilians is antiwar; with those whose politics are expressed in vituperations & abuse.

I practiced persuasion on my conservative family for 40 years before I understood that one of the arts of politics is knowing when to save your breath.

Politics or parody? Syria banned genetically modified seeds for health but continues to bomb whole cities

Politics or parody?

Some of the more unhinged Assadists list among Assad’s many political merits that under his rule “Syria has banned genetically modified seeds to preserve human health.”

Syria & Russia have used megatonnes of deadly munitions against civilians, including barrel bombs filled with chlorine, cluster bombs, bunker busters, thermobaric bombs, & incendiary munitions. The environmental destruction must be incalculable.

Russia Today boasted last week that its military has tested 162 upgraded weapons systems in just one year of bombing Syrians, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, & cruise missiles which a Russian military official said “have proved to be highly efficient.”

Syrian & Russian bombing & the military intervention of several other countries, including Iran, Hezbollah, & the US coalition, has created nearly 5 million Syrian refugees & killed nearly 500,000 men, women, & children.

Assadists scoff at all that & clap like trained seals that he banned genetically modified seeds? Maybe it isn’t parody at all but criminal apologetics for war & unfathomable social hatred for Muslims.

Decisive rupture over Syria in Palestinian solidarity movement: the fault line is hating on Jews & Muslims

For so many decades Palestinians stood alone pilloried as terrorists; the solidarity movement was small, fragmented, & not internationally coordinated. After Palestinian groups issued the call for BDS in 2005, there was rapid growth in solidarity around the world & a concrete project to express it in action.

Regrettably, the new movement drew in some who mistook the principles of solidarity & thought their hatred of Jews would fit right in. Even KKK grand poobah David Duke got involved & began putting out videos supporting Palestinians. As a vicious supremacist, his only intention was to find a venue for his hatred of Jews, to feed anti-Semitism & corrupt Palestinian solidarity. He’s a white supremacist & doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Palestinians.

Many activists took on that anti-Jewish crap & explained in no uncertain terms that it had no place in the movement & would not be tolerated. Nor did the detestable likes of David Duke have any place. Much of that talk was silenced & manifest mostly in language & hating on “Israhell.”

Apparently, the necessary education work was insufficient & the haters only went sub rosa. Now the hatred of Jews has merged with the hatred of Muslims along with willful ignorance & is now fully taking its revenge in support among Palestinian supporters for the Assad dictatorship & Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians.

Eva Bartlett, a professional propagandist for Assad, spent time in Gaza getting political credentials. She now leads that current in the Palestinian solidarity movement & speaks of the “NATO/Zionist agenda” in Syria. That current agrees entirely with David Duke & extreme supremacists who also support Assad as a way to destroy Israel–not because it is a colonial project which must be replaced with a democratic secular state where Palestinians & Jews live in harmony–but because they hate Jews.

Journalists like Rania Khalek, Ben Norton, & Max Blumenthal, once known for their coverage of Palestine, have now completely discredited themselves with plagiarisms, reliance on Assad & Russian propagandists, & self-absorbed vituperations against those who call them out for Muslim-hating & war mongering.

Anyone who wants to understand the political nexus between Syria & Israel has mountains of resources to study which expose a history of Syrian treacheries & betrayal of Palestinians. But no anti-Semite is going to do that study because their convictions are based on the hatred of Jews & they will truck with no evidence to the contrary.

As in the antiwar & socialist movements, there is a decisive rupture developing in Palestinian solidarity. On the one hand, it seems devastating because of its impact on Palestinians. On the other hand, it is a necessary political winnowing of the wheat from the chaff. No solidarity movement of such consequence can be solidly built on foundations of social hatred for anyone.

Assadists can’t explain anything about US strategy in Syria but are simple-minded apologists

Is it asking too much of Assad supporters to elaborate how the US is going to pull off regime change in Syria using only militias against Syrian & Russian bombers? Just how much head-chopping will they have to do to get to Assad?

Are Assadists following US coalition military operations in Syria? Can they tell us about the 6,128 bombing missions flown in Syria in 2016 by the US & its partners Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, & UK?

What are the bombing targets of the US coalition in Syria? Anything at all that would imperil the Assad regime other than that one incident last September when Australian bombers killed 62 Syrian soldiers near the Deir al-Zor military airport?

The Australian Defence Department claimed they mistook the Syrian soldiers as ISIS fighters. Now they might have been lying but their statement said: “Australia would never intentionally target a known Syrian military unit or actively support Daesh (IS).”

Now isn’t that a perplexing admission from a coalition partner allegedly engaged in a regime change operation: they would never intentionally target Syrian military forces. Well then how the hell do they plan on taking down the Assad regime? Just by head-chopping their way to Damascus? What were the 6,128 airstrikes all about?

Unlike the claims of Assad propagandists, no one sane really believes the Syrian army is trained in warfare according to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. The conduct of Assad’s military against the popular revolution beginning in 2011 is as monstrous as anything ever recorded in the human history of war.

So once again Assad supporters, can you elaborate exactly how the US coalition plans to take down the Assad regime?

Never lose the capacity to recognize exploitation or be willing to accept the commodification of human life.

Girl on swing in Dhaka (Mohammad Ponir Hossain:Reuters) Dec 27 2016

This photo is making media rounds today with the simple caption: “A girl plays on a swing in Dhaka, Bangladesh.”

Such a casual disregard for a little girl in flip-flops swinging over a landfill site bespeaks a serious cognitive disorder usually understood as racism. Are swings in any country usually built next to landfill sites? Is this little girl one of those millions around the world forced to scavenge through stinking, toxic piles of rotting food, dead animals, medical waste, toxic metals from electronics, dirty diapers, animal poop to find recyclables to sell?

If she’s a scavenger, why is she in flip-flops without any protective clothing? The child is vulnerable for respiratory disease, skin infections, several long-term health problems just from living near the site, let alone scavenging it. Maybe Dhaka is like the Obama administration who fought like hell to allow small children in the US to work as farm laborers around livestock, chemicals, dangerous tools without any restrictions or protections.

This is the barbaric phase of capitalism so there are deranged organizations bankrolled by corporations who claim unionizing will give children workers dignity & bargaining power. There are other organizations hiding behind a veneer of feminism who talk about scavenging as empowering work for women. In October 2015, the World Bank, in an extravagant, over-the-top act of largesse, raised the international poverty level from $1.25 (£1.02) to $1.90 (£1.50). They didn’t explain why they based the increase on the 2011 price index. (Either the World Bank hires the dumbest economists in the world or the most venal.) That increase must have been so gratifying to the empowerment & child union freaks since in Dhaka one can earn $1.00 (£0.99) to $1.90 (£1.50) for a 12-hour day of scavenging. That puts them over the phony-assed poverty line.

What a monstrous deceit. Why should those impoverished by economic plunder have to pick through rot & manure to earn a living? Why instead can’t societies able to destroy humanity by pushing a button develop sophisticated waste management systems?

Promoting scavenging as a respectable way to earn a living is as detestable as promoting sweatshop economics or prostitution as empowering for women & children. Social institutions on the take may draw their political cues from corporations but not those who believe in equality & human rights. Above all, in this era of post-truth truthiness we should never lose the capacity to recognize exploitation or be willing to accept the commodification of human life.

(Photo by Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters)