Met a lovely woman on Facebook just a few days ago; received a lovely new years greeting from her moments ago–followed by three unimpressive photos of a man’s private parts. Then he blocked me.

I would so much have preferred he stay around so I could tell him I’ve seen better.

Aung San Suu Kyi gets excoriated for Rohingya genocide by 23 prominent people, including 12 fellow Nobel Peace prize laureates

Aung San Suu Kyi (Hein Htet:EPA) Dec 31 2016

The headline in the Sydney Morning Herald read “Nobel Peace prize winners scold Aung San Suu Kyi over crimes against Rohingyas.” It’s about an open letter to the UN security council criticizing Aung San Suu Kyi from a group of 23 prominent people, including 12 fellow Nobel Peace laureates & one Nobel laureate in medicine.

The Nobel Peace laureates include Desmond Tutu & Malala Yousafzai & others of more questionable human rights credentials. They criticize Suu Kyi for the military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims that began October 9th after nine border guards were killed by unidentified attackers. The Myanmar government has no idea who killed the border guards but claimed the attackers were Rohingya “jihadists” associated with Al-Qaeda & ISIS & cynically used the incident as a pretext to accelerate the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya which has been going on for decades.

More often than not such protests by dignitaries do not rise above the level of the naughty finger & scolding but this open letter is very forthright indeed. The signatories not only call the military response to the border guard incident “grossly disproportionate,” but they warn of the potential for genocide & crimes against humanity. In no uncertain terms, the letter stated: “It would be one thing to round up suspects, interrogate them & put them on trial. It is quite another to unleash helicopter gunships on thousands of ordinary civilians & to rape women & throw babies into a fire.”

The signatories also did not pull their punches in laying responsibility on Suu Kyi & said that despite repeated appeals she had taken no initiative to ensure the protection of the Royingya. Chickens are coming home to roost for sister Suu Kyi who thought she could pull off giving a human rights face to genocide in Myanmar.

This letter to the UN comes just a matter of days after the scurrilous, shameful report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) denying genocide against the Rohingya & claiming the military crackdown was against Rohingya “jihadists” associated with Al-Qaeda & ISIS. There was no need for ICG to pretend they did an investigation. They look stupid & corrupt for plagiarizing the Suu Kyi regime’s justification for genocide.

Rohingya activists are running with this open letter because it is a powerful & cogent rebuttal to the ICG report & cuts through the lies used to justify genocide in Myanmar & to deny Rohingya refugee rights.

As if it wasn’t testimony enough that according to the foreign ministry of Bangladesh, since October 9th, 50,000 Rohingya fled to asylum in Bangladesh from genocide in Myanmar.

Our fullest solidarity with the Rohingya in Myanmar, Bangladesh, & to Rohingya refugees wherever they are.

(Photo of Suu Kyi by Hein Htet/EPA)

Duterte’s vigilante war on the poor

Vigilante victim in Manila (REUTERS:Romeo Ranoco) Dec 31 2016

Rodrigo Duterte began his vigilante war on drug users & small time peddlers after he was sworn in on June 30th saying “I don’t care about human rights, believe me.”

As of December 6th, police & other sources recorded 5,946 killings of suspected drug users & peddlers. Of those, 2,041 were shot in police shoot-to-kill operations & another 3,841 by unidentified vigilante gunmen sanctioned by Duterte. That is about 1,200 victims per month.

Many, if not most of the victims were teenagers; one was a 7-year-old child hit by a stray bullet in a vigilante assault. When Duterte, who is almost certainly psychotic, was asked earlier this month about the death toll he said contemptuously:”Most of them have been finished off anyway, I am not kidding.”

Drug addiction is a public health & social problem, not a criminal matter. The only people in the Philippines being executed for drug use are the poor, not the well-heeled cocaine users in banks & government offices, & certainly not those government officials facilitating the traffic of drugs into the country. The drug problem in the Philippines hasn’t even begun to be addressed because drugs continue to pour into the country from China, Duterte’s new ally, & he refuses to take action to stop the flow.

This is the body of a young man executed in a vigilante assault in Manila with his head wrapped in masking tape. Many victims have their heads wrapped in masking tape & it isn’t certain whether it was done before or after they were murdered. Others have cardboard signs placed on their bodies saying such things as “I am a drug addict.”

Even with his head wrapped in tape, we recognize this young man as one of ours. The indignity of this kind of death belongs to Duterte, not to the victims. May they all Rest In Peace.

Our fullest solidarity with Filipino human rights activists & organizations standing against these monstrous crimes.

(Photo by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

The grieving survivors of Duterte’s war on the poor

Kasandra Kate (child of ejk victim) (REUTERS:Damir Sagolj) Dec 31 2016

Manila is one of the fastest growing cities in the world because of the scorched earth nature of neoliberal economics which has dispossessed & forced hundreds of thousands of rural people into urban slums.

Now the Philippines are on a massive privatization campaign in Manila & are forcing slum dwellers to live on the streets or relocate back to rural areas with no employment possibilities. In Manila many of them work the landfill sites as scavengers, in the informal economy, or in low-paid jobs. Those are the people that Duterte is targeting in his vigilante anti-drug campaign, which is really a war on the poor.

There are many gruesome photos from Rodrigo Duterte’s vigilante war but this one is powerful because it is repeated for every person gunned down: the grieving of the survivors. This is 12-year-old Kasandra Kate crying at the funeral of her father, Verigilio Mirano, at a public cemetery in Manila. He was killed by a vigilante gunman at his home on September 27th. According to a family member, he had stopped using drugs after Duterte became president in June.

Whether he was or was not a drug user is not the issue here. Drug addiction is a public health matter & a social problem, not a criminal matter. And even if it were a criminal matter, due process is required, not summary execution.

Our condolences to the families who have lost their beloved. May the victims Rest In Peace.

(Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

The aggression of Assad supporters

The democratic spirit of Assad supporters is something to behold. They don’t just go away & hang out with other haters & war-mongers. They keep coming back & repeatedly try to hijack my posts about Syria, get abusive & insulting, try to run me around the block, invite other Assadists to troll my wall, & if they get blocked, they show up on my campaign wall to troll that.

Let me just say, the behavior speaks for itself. It’s not new in politics & says everything you need to know about who they are that get so attracted to zombie politics.

“Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution & War”

Cover of Burning Country

Syria is a complicated war. Too complicated for formulaic thinkers or those with an “attitude problem” toward the Middle East. It gets inexplicable if you won’t read a wide range of media sources because of silly-assed hysteria & Assadist alarmism that it’s all lies & if you read it you’ll get rabies or diphtheria or stop hating on Hillary or start supporting US regime change operations.

The scenario peddled by Assad propagandists & by some erstwhile progressives is that the only foreign military intervention that is destructive is US intervention which is on a regime change mission. According to this scenario, the primary method used by US forces to take down Assad is arming & training militias of the head-chopping kind. They insist that if you condemn Russian, Iranian & other military intervention, then you’re sanctioning US involvement & aiding & abetting those terrorists & they wind up supporting Russian bombing because Assad invited Putin to bomb civilians. Even socialists blither about Syrian national sovereignty instead of talking about the political character of the Assad regime.

In all of this, the 2011 popular uprising against Assad which was part of the Arab Spring, & for which there are mountains of video documentation, is denied like it never existed, or seen as long-since defeated, or portrayed as only represented by violent militias. Assad’s gulag is completely ignored & his dictatorship is dismissed with casual & contemptible asides like “Well Assad isn’t perfect but he’s better than those head-choppers.”

You can’t have a discussion about Syria if you don’t know the history or understand the character of the popular uprising. You cannot understand what is going on or where justice stands by reading only media from any source or, heaven forbid, only Assad propagandists.
I have just begun reading “Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution & War” by Robin Yassin-Kassab & Leila Al-Shami. I’m only on page 85 of a 225 page book. Just in those pages, it is absolutely invaluable to me. In comparison to anything I’ve read–& I’ve read a lot–it is monumental. It comes recommended by all who have read it among my FB friends including Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, a Syrian revolutionist active in the 2011 uprising, whose beloved wife & other political companions were disappeared by the Assad regime. He is also an invaluable writer for understanding revolution & war in Syria.

We’re in an important political battle against the emotional hold of propaganda & zombie politics over the question of Syria. It would be so valuable if those of my FB friends or others who have already read the book or are still reading it would comment about it or review it here to encourage others to read it.