All posts by BabakJoy2014

Indian prime minister Modi twists into yoga position of peacemaker

Modi doing yoga (from CNN) June 22 2015

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is here leading 37,000 people in a mass yoga session in Delhi’s Rajpath, an area where protests have been banned. The event is part of the first International Yoga Day called by Modi. Mass yoga sessions were held in several countries including the US & China. The day was built as one to promote “harmony & peace.”

The Chinese government violently suppressed the Falun Gong about 15 years ago for holding similar mass events with qigong, calling it heretical. There are no reports they cracked down on the mass yoga events–though yoga is rooted in Hinduism.

Modi claims he’s a long-time practitioner of yoga–though you wouldn’t know it from his awkward execution of the different postures. Given Modi’s political history & his obvious public relations jaunts to put pogroms against Muslims behind him, we should question what this yoga business is all about. Is it part of the international attempt (which Obama is a part of) to create “Brand Modi”? Modi the man of peace not pogroms?

Maybe it is, as Muslims claim, an attempt to assert the dominance of Hinduism in India & promote a “Hindutva agenda at the cost of India’s secular democratic fabric.” Or is it Modi’s version of Obamacare in a country the World Health Organization ranks as one of the worst healthcare systems in the world (112 out of 190 countries)?

Is it a diversion from political reality like Michelle Obama’s obesity, organic garden, exercise thing? Or does it have associations with tyrannies, like fascism in Germany, where physical fitness became a sign of Aryan supremacy?

Or perhaps it is an attempt by India to reclaim yoga from US & European practitioners who have commercialized the practice, eliminated the spiritual aspects & use it solely as exercise?

Maybe we can get some clues from the 37,000 participants led in stretches, bends, & breathing asanas by Mr. Modi. According to media reports, they were “school children, bureaucrats, & soldiers.” Were they there on command? Will the Indian soldiers participating employ some of those peace-making asanas when they’re on duty in occupied Kashmir? Why did the event have to be locked down with thousands of police & paramilitary troops? Was there any likelihood of the yogis rioting?

Curious minds want to know because we’re awash in skepticism when Narendra Modi gets into the asana of a peacemaker.

(Photo of Modi leading yoga from CNN)

Students and teachers protest for education reforms in Chile

Chile- SAntiago education protests ( Andres Stapff:Reuters) June 21 2015

Students & teachers in Chile have been protesting for at least a decade for education reforms–often in pitched battles with riot police over the right to protest. The government isn’t building new public universities & profit in higher education is the norm–debarring thousands of working class kids from getting a college education. The protests include thousands of high school students because public education is being replaced by charter schools, a neoliberal method to undermine & destroy public education.

The system, which had been universal, free public education, was privatized & deregulated under the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet when Chile became the testing ground for Milton Friedman’s antisocial, scorched earth neoliberal assaults on social & public services for working people. Education became a consumer product & not a social right. The policies remain in place, administered by successive “democratic” regimes after Pinochet.

Both high school & university students want education brought under control of the central government rather than by municipalities. Municipalizing education was neoliberal strategy & created wide inequalities in education based on unequal funding resources–not unlike segregated education in the US. In fact, one Chilean NGO termed the system “educational apartheid,” among the most unequal education systems in the world.

The current Chilean president Michelle Bachelet is a socialist of the French president Fran├žois Hollande kind (who discredits the designation every time he opens his damn mouth, deports entire communities of Roma, or prevents refugees from entering France). She was elected in 2014 based on promises of education reform which she didn’t deliver in her first term of office from 2006-2010.

In the same way as Hillary Clinton, Bachelet played the populist role to the hilt during the election campaign, even promising to trim the sails of neoliberalism. She promised to re-centralize education, make it free again, & financed by corporate taxes. File that under “A Snowball’s Chance in Hell.”

Last February, Bachelet enacted an education reform law. Like all such legislation that tries to pull the wool over people’s eyes, it was full of loopholes, stalling tactics, promises for future programs to correct the problems not addressed, even education vouchers like the right-wing is trying to install in US education. What the legislation doesn’t do is dismantle neoliberal education & replace it with free, universal public education.

Former student leader, now legislator Camila Vallejo, who will chair the education commission in the Chilean legislature, supports Bachelet’s program as a gradualist & pragmatic approach. Some other observers call the new legislation a partial victory showing how popular movements can gradually transform state policy & how difficult it is to dismantle the neoliberal model of education. It wasn’t difficult to install the model under Pinochet. Why does dismantling it have to be gradual? Or will that bring students into conflict with the neoliberal political forces that really run Chile?

Sometimes social movements do have to accept partial victories; In fact, that’s the norm. But one should not look at a dissembling piece of legislation meant to deceive & demobilize the social movement of students & teachers & call it a partial victory when it’s a massive con job.

The same political forces trying to cover for the treacheries of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil by discrediting social protest of millions against her are operative in Chile: small-minded political thinkers who think when politicians talk a good game they mean business.

This photo is a protest in Santiago of students & teachers not persuaded by that partial victory baloney. The protesters were hit by a petrol bomb in a conflict with riot cops.

(Photo by Andres Stapff/Reuters)

Pro-immigration protests all over Europe

German pro-immigration rally 2015 (Hannibal Hanschke:Reuters) June 21 2015

Usually World Refugee Day is a ceremonial event of little value except for those who like empty gestures & symbolic things. But yesterday activists across Europe made World Refugee Day 2015 into one of active solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of refugees & immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, & elsewhere. There were solidarity protests in Spain, Germany, Italy, & several cities in France.

In Berlin, protesters chanted “No frontiers, no nations, stop deportation” &“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here”. Banners & chants also protested IMF-European Union austerity measures in Greece, highlighting that the common enemy of immigrants & Europeans is European leadership & the scorched earth economic policies of neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. In solidarity with Greece, many waved Greek flags & one poster read, this “technocratic, cold & neoliberal Europe that is led by Germany is unbearable.”

In France, protesters in Paris, including undocumented immigrants, marched behind a banner that read “Greece, France, Europe: austerity kills, democracy is dying, let’s resist”. Others rallied in Menton, near the Italian border, in solidarity with immigrants beaten back by French & Italian border police as they tried to travel north. They also marched in Marseille in the south of France & in Calais where French riot cops are beating back immigrants attempting to cross into England.

In Rome, protesters marched in pouring rain under the slogan “Stop the massacre now”. One pensioner in the march named Luciano Colletta said “We are here to save our Europe, which includes immigrants, refugees & Greece. Europe must belong to everyone, not just to the Germans & the banks,”

There were small nationalist, anti-immigration rallies held in some places & these will only grow if not overwhelmed by the mightier forces of human solidarity standing with refugees under a banner emblazoned with the iron law of social transformation: “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

The only way to honor the solidarity movements in Europe is to build strong ones in our own countries because today immigration is an international crisis & will continue to be so because neoliberalism just can’t help itself. Scorched earth economics holds private profit as god & humanity as fodder–or dispensable.

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders! Salute & solidarity to our European & immigrant brothers & sisters!

Photo is the protest in Berlin.

(Photo by Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Israel’s version of freedom or religion

Palestinians going over wall (REUTERS:Mohamad Torokman) June 20 2015

In Israel’s ongoing campaigns to fabricate religious traditions at Muslim holy sites, they are trying to reclaim & destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. For a few years now they have debarred Palestinian men under 50 years old from entering the mosque. Worshippers have to kneel in the public streets while sightseeing groups are allowed to tour & Zionist thugs vandalize.

Israel heralds itself as the only democratic country in the region. Possible to have freedom of religion–a touchstone of modern democracy–in a Jewish-only state? The Al-Aqsa age ban on men speaks for itself.

As the former Soviet Union & other repressive regimes have learned, you cannot repress out of people their most cherished & committed beliefs. It is an abomination to prevent people from worshipping as they choose.

These Palestinians scaling the apartheid wall are crossing from a village near Ramallah in the West Bank to attend Friday prayer for Ramadan at Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. This is Israel’s version of democracy & freedom of religion.

(Photo by Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

The dopes who run Texas

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas running for president 2016, called the Charleston church shooting an “accident.” A coincidence he was Texas governor right after GW Bush, that they’re both born with a silver spoon in their mouthes & rocks in their heads, that they’re both racist & hateful toward immigrants, both liars & war mongers? The only difference is it’s hard to tell which one is more stupid & repulsive.

 

You can’t claim mental illness as a legal defense in a racist crime but racism is still a social pathology

The distinctions being made about treating Black & Arab gunmen as terrorists & criminals & white gunmen as mentally ill are very powerful politically. The reasons for not allowing a diagnosis of mental illness as a criminal defense for racist gunmen are inarguable. But the truth of the matter is that racist massacres are not normative even in the white supremacist US where tens of thousands of people are schooled in high-power assault weapons & other methods of mass murder in the military.

People harbor all sorts of prejudicial & hateful social attitudes but most are not violent & can be overcome with the exercise of political power, as we saw after the civil rights & women’s movements. Political power either persuades or intimidates–or both.

After the compelling political comparison is made, it still has to be acknowledged that racism, which is systemic, is also a social pathology even if it’s normative & that massacring people because they’re Muslim or Black is social derangement. That doesn’t mean guys like Dylann Storm Roof should go to a halfway house for the criminally insane rather than a penitentiary–but they are nuts.

Militarist, genocidal regimes like Israel in Gaza, India in Kashmir, Myanmar against the Rohingya, the US & European regimes in several countries are the matrixes which form the Dylann Storm Roofs of the world. The political responsibilities this presents to humanity are obvious even if they’re not easy to accomplish.

Donald Trump wants Oprah as his running mate

Donald Trump wants Oprah as his running mate. He thinks they’d win easily because everybody loves her. Against Mike Huckabee, that’s a shoe-in. And maybe against some of the other bumble-bums too because even if Trump can’t, at least Oprah can put a coherent sentence together. She grovels for celebrity but that’s an ideal quality for the vice-presidency. Witness Biden.

The more Trump talks, the more the US electorate can’t wait to say, “Trump, you dumb-ass, you’re fired!”

Sons of Confederate Veterans lost lawsuit against Texas Department of Motor Vehicles: no ugly-assed Confederate flag on Texas license plates

South Caroline Confederate flag license plate (June 19 2015)

The US Supreme Court ruled for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) against the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) who designed an insignia with the Confederate flag for Texas speciality license plates. When the DMV refused, the SCV took them to court claiming “viewpoint discrimination” in violation of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing free speech (the 1st Amendment).

License plates are government identifications but states sell speciality plates (also called vanity plates) as a way to raise dough. Some state motor vehicle departments have allowed foolishness to preempt public safety. Some put their family names on them, others put political messages, support charitable groups, sports teams, colleges, the military, or even include obscenities & sexual innuendoes.

Many states allow controversial plates. In Texas, there’s an anti-abortion plate & one honoring the Boy Scouts. In Virginia, they have plates for the NRA, tobacco & coal industries, other commercial enterprises, & even one promoting fox hunting.

Nine states offer Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates; all of them are in the South in the same states where there are still monuments to the Confederacy (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia). In some of these states a portion of the license fee goes to the sponsoring organization. In Georgia, the local chapter of SCV gets $10 bucks a pop & the same at every license renewal.

The SCV, which claims 30,000 members (likely an exaggeration), say they are “profoundly disappointed” by the Supreme Court decision. Color the rest of us flabbergasted at the decision. Who knew there was a progressive instinct left among that lot sitting on the court!?

The SCV was founded in 1896, long after the end of the Civil War but not long after the complete reversal of Black Reconstruction in the South & at one of the worst possible moments in US history for Blacks when Jim Crow (the US form of apartheid) was legitimized & lynchings were massive. The SCV claim to be direct descendants of Confederate soldiers who fought to retain slavery. Their schtick is to use the Bill of Rights & nonsense about inclusion, diversity, & tolerance as a weapon to undo the alleged demonization & marginalization of the Confederacy.

Well let’s cut the crap! Behind some awkward diplomacy & posturing, what they want to bring back is the monstrous social hatred that brought them into existence in the first place. They haven’t been demonized–at least sufficiently–or they wouldn’t be on license plates in nine states. They haven’t been marginalized either because US school children learn nothing about this history in public schools. If it weren’t for the Civil Rights Movement & Black studies departments or books like People’s History of the US by Howard Zinn & Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, we would know nothing except the Confederate narrative & would still be reading Huckleberry Finn like it was an antiracist novel.

This is the speciality plate from South Carolina, which hoists the Confederate flag at its state capital. Coincidence that Dylann Storm Roof was reared there? We think not.