All posts by BabakJoy2014

Subway workers on strike in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil June 6 2014

This is an ironic case of “chickens coming home to roost.” Much more aptly, it’s an exercise of the most powerful weapon working people have in their arsenal: the right to strike. The irony is that in June 2013, millions of Brazilians were provoked to massive opposition against neoliberal austerity policies by a hike in public transportation fees.

Now, less than a week before the opening game of the World Cup (next Weds., June 12th) at Itaquerao stadium in San Paulo, Brazil, subway train operators are entering the second day of a strike, jeopardizing the only means most soccer fans will have of getting to the stadium. The 70,000 fans expected for the opener will be all dressed up with no way to go. It don’t get better than that!

Construction on the $431 million stadium was scheduled for completion December 31st, 2013 but the roof is still not complete & won’t be done until after the games end. Serious irregularities found in construction of an entire seating section for 20,000 mean fire officials will not release approval permits.

That stadium is looking more & more like a white elephant but even more like a dreadful safety hazard. Those sports fans who can’t book a limo to replace the subway may thank their lucky stars they couldn’t get to the place due to the strike.

Meanwhile demonstrations in twelve cities across Brazil, including near the Itaquerao stadium, continue to protest the billions spent to host the games & demand funding to improve education, health care, social services, affordable housing & transportation. Hopefully this goes way beyond “chickens coming home to roost” to a general uprising against neoliberal plunder & “bread & circuses” for the ruling rich.

In this photo riot cops are battling it out with striking subway drivers but when all is said & done, next Wednesday they need someone to drive those trains. Power is a relative thing.

(Photo by Nelson Antoine/AP)

Israel’s gulag for Palestinians

West Bank June 6 2014

This scene of Israeli soldiers manhandling Palestinian protesters is so common in the West Bank that it’s almost not newsworthy–except that hundreds continue to be arrested & held under “administrative detention”, which means without charge or trial. Administrative detention orders can range from one to six months in length & can be arbitrarily extended an indefinite number of times up to five years by Israeli military courts. 5,000 Palestinians are presently in Israeli custody, including 200 children. About 550 of these are administrative detainees, including 13 children under the age of 18.

It’s embarrassing to read Zionist defenses of administrative detention; they claim Israel’s denial of the basic standards of due process (like being told what you’re accused of) are “security precautions” & that Palestinians who protest this egregious violation of international law are just grandstanding for media attention & to make Israeli justice look bad.

In late April of this year, 120 Palestinian administrative detainees began a hunger strike in protest because, in the style of Guantanamo, they have no idea why they’re sitting in jail or for how long. Contrary to the rubbish spewed by hateful Zionists, media attention seems a damn good idea if they ever want to get out of prison. Over the past several weeks, hundreds of non-administrative detainees joined the hunger strike in solidarity, bringing the total number now to 1,500.

A UN Special Committee to assess Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights concluded their recent fact-finding tour with an appeal to Israel to end administrative detention of Palestinians, even though International law does allow administrative detention in exceptional circumstances. (The only exceptional circumstances that seem worthy are the detainment of White House & Pentagon officials for war crimes, but it’s unlikely the UN would agree on this.) Of particular concern to the UN committee is that the Israeli government is vigorously promoting a bill in the Knesset to allow force-feeding the hunger strikers. The invidious comparison with Guantanamo is complete.

Solidarity protests throughout Gaza & the West Bank have been going on for the past several weeks, including very moving candle vigils. Apparently in the West Bank, the Israeli military just views these protests as another place to pick up Palestinian activists for detention. This young Palestinian being attacked by three Israeli soldiers is protesting in solidarity at the Qalandia checkpoint near the city of Ramallah.

Stand with Palestinian justice & support the hunger strikers by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729), by supporting the cultural boycott of Israel, & by demanding “No military aid to Israel!”

(Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images)

The new jesters for apartheid: Rolling Stones defy cultural boycott of Israel

Mick Jagger June 6 2014

And here we have the very picture of ignominy: the Rolling Stones performing in Tel Aviv despite appeals to them to stand against apartheid by honoring the cultural boycott of Israel. This performance as jester to ethnic cleansing comes as no surprise since Sir Mick, who prides himself on giving the middle finger to convention, has admitted to an affinity with Margaret Thatcher (he was disgusted by the jubiliation at her death) & of course Betty Windsor who decked out his bony ass with feudal honorifics.

Other than that, there isn’t much to say about our man except “for shame.” Petulant minds will however note how plug ugly a man becomes when he turns his back on massive injustice.

Use the photo for hurling horse manure.

(Photo by Ariel Schalit/AP)

Women march against government inaction on rape in Uttar Pradesh, India

Anti-rape protest Uttar Pradesh June 5 2014

This is another photo of the anti-rape protest in Uttar Pradesh, India where mostly women stormed government offices demanding justice for the victims. Most people don’t know that until the women’s movement of the 1960s-70s (which was international in scope), all sexual crimes, including rape & child sexual assault, were considered secrets & were seldom reported, let alone prosecuted.

It is a giant political step forward when women emerge into the public streets & begin to dominate public discourse on violent crimes against women.

Our hats off to these sisters in India who are showing women around the world how to stand up to the violence of social hatred facilitated by governmental indifference & outright collusion.

(Photographer not identified; from revolution-news.com)

Anti-rape protests in Uttar Pradesh, India

Uttar Pradesh rape protest Jun3 5 2014

Following the rape & hanging murder of two lower-caste teenage girls in Uttar Pradesh, India, several new rapes were reported in other villages of the same state. In one case, a young girl was gang-raped & thrown in a ditch; in another case a young woman was gang-raped & killed when the rapists poured acid down her throat. The crimes are absolutely ghoulish because social hatred toward women of the oppressed castes is so profound & so malignant.

It isn’t easy to unravel the complexities of caste & class, of ethnicity & gender but that is the monumental political task imposed on millions in India & elsewhere. After the series of rapes, hundreds of mostly women protesters showed up at the offices of the state chief minister of Uttar Pradesh–not only because two policemen were arrested in connection with the hanging murders but because police have obstructed justice every step of the way by protecting upper-caste perpetrators.

Indian police used extreme force against the protesters; videos show them drowning the protesters with water cannons which are extremely dangerous assault weapons. On the part of the women protesters, defending themselves wasn’t a ladylike affair. They responded just exactly the way women around the world have to in order to put an end to crescendoing violence against women.

Our fullest solidarity with their struggle for justice.

(Photographer of protest in Uttar Pradesh not identified; from revolution-news.com)

Spanish republicans demand “down with the moochocracy!”

Spain June 5 2014

Someone who lives in the US can’t get all high & mighty about much in politics but at least we don’t have feudalism. There’s a lot of wannabes but no actual lords & ladies & God forbid, kings or queens. So it’s really good to see somebody in Europe doing something about feudalism. Tens of thousands of people protested in several Spanish cities on Monday demanding a vote on whether to keep the moochocracy. It’s not certain why they didn’t just go ahead & bounce that useless institution but the squadrons of riot cops might have been a deterrent.

You wouldn’t think it possible to be more worthless than the British moochocracy, but Spain’s Juan Carlos & his progeny are sure trying to keep pace. Hapless Juan has been in power for 39 years & is credited with the transition from dictatorship under Francisco Franco to democracy & now back to dictatorship under the IMF & EU. As long as the welfare checks keep coming in, Juan doesn’t much care what form of government Spain has.

Worthless Juan abdicated & handed power to his son Felipe who at 46 appears to have done nothing with his life except yacht. Of course, he couldn’t hand power to his daughter since her & her husband are under investigation for corruption. You can’t be issuing royal edicts from a prison cell. That does show the superiority of Spanish feudalism over the English kind because the corruption of the English moochocrats is lauded in English media. It would be unthinkable to prosecute.

Felipe is no prize package–we’ll soon find that out–but he isn’t yet marked with the toxic miasma his father emits. This is the second abdication in Europe in just a year or so; last year, Betty of the Netherlands abdicated to her son, Willy. Some fools speculate Betty Windsor might soon abdicate to Chuckles, but not those who run the stock markets. They know stock markets would tremble & many might even collapse just at the suggestion. Chuckles will be sitting tight for quite a while.

This is an anti-monarchist protest in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Square following Juan’s abdication. England take heed!

(Photo by Juan Medina/Reuters)

Hong Kong 2014 commemoration of Tiananmen massacre 1989

Hong Kong June 4 2014

This is the scene today in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park where an estimated 180,000 people gathered for the annual candlelight vigil commemorating the 25th anniversary of the crackdown in Tiananmen Square & repression of the democracy movement which engulfed all of China in 1989.

The article linked here says Victoria Park is the size of six football fields which may not say much to those outside the US but as you can see from the photos, it means mighty big.

The most inspiring thing about this photo is witnessing the power of the democracy movement to inspire younger generations. Like the US Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, it stands as a beacon to suffering humanity. The fact that the movement was violently repressed has not daunted the spirit of rebellion or the desire for human rights but continues to light the way in the annual candlelight vigil.

Our fullest solidarity & respect with the movement of 1989 & with the democracy movement today.

(Photo from business insider.com)

Tribute to Chinese labor leader, Li Wangyang: may he RIP

Li Wangyang June 4th 2014 (2)

Today we commemorate the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square when the Chinese government violently cracked down on the democracy movement with the imposition of martial law. Student protests for democratic reforms that began in Beijing in April 1989 spread rapidly to include millions of people in over 400 Chinese cities. After the military crackdown on June 4th, the regime used traffic control systems in Tiananmen Square as a surveillance system to track down participants & then unleashed a nation-wide crackdown, hauling in thousands of activists for interrogation & arrest in order to strangle the movement.

This is a day to honor those activists, many of whom were tortured & likely died in prison. Li Wangyang represents the best in that generation of fighters & reportedly served one of the longest jail terms. He was a 39-year-old factory worker & labor rights activist in Shaoyang (Hunan Province) about 920 miles (1481 km) south of Beijing, who advocated & organized labor unions independent of Chinese government control. Mr. Li was arrested as a result of his participation in the democracy movement, including publicly posting a call for a general strike in support & organizing a memorial for the victims.

He served 21 years in prison on charges of counterrevolutionary propaganda, incitement, & subversion. During that time, he was subjected to hard labor, torture, beatings which caused blindness & loss of hearing, solitary confinement. In May 2011, he was released for reasons of poor health & checked into a hospital for treatment of diabetes & heart disease. On June 6th, 2012, he was found hanged in his hospital room. Officials immediately declared it a suicide & pressured his family (who visited him daily) for cremation, warning them not to make trouble.

Mr. Li was frail & broken physically by his incarceration but his mind & spirit remained undaunted & fearless. A media interview only days before his death documents that along with the testimony of his sister & family members. He was too weakened by torture & abuse to even stand alone, let alone hang himself.

Thousands marched in Hong Kong on June 10th, 2012 to mourn the death of this champion of democracy & human freedom & to demand a formal criminal investigation into his death. The results of such a forensic investigation have not been forthcoming while the regime hopes time will nullify the demand.

We should all take a moment to honor this remarkable man. May he RIP & may his life & commitment to democracy inspire a whole new generation of freedom fighters not just in China but throughout the world.

(Photo of Li Wangyang on poster at Hong Kong rally from AP)

Brazil’s Indigenes face off with Brazilian riot cops

Brasilia June 4 2014

Collusion with neoliberalism is coming back to haunt president Dilma Rousseff & the oligarchs of Brazil in massive protests against the World Cup scheduled to start on June 12th & run to July 13th. Thousands of people continue to protest & tie up traffic in several cities & have already forced the cancellation of a World Cup ceremony in Brasilia; everybody from bus drivers to professors are striking or marching against austerity; the Homeless Worker’s movement has set up squatter encampments around the new multi-million dollar stadiums (because the games caused real estate prices to soar & forced low income families out of their homes); & Indigenous protestors (whose lands are being expropriated by agribusiness) are protesting both at government buildings & at stadiums.

600,000 well-heeled sports fans will be pouring into Brazil in just over a week & Rousseff has a mess on her hands. She’s employing the oligarch’s first line of defense: massive squadrons of riot police with tear gas. Now frantic against the protesters, she promises the squatters they will receive low-cost government housing if they move. She’ll resort to her campaign promises or if necessary, promises of socialism if they don’t move soon. But if all else fails, her back-up plan is federal troops ‘to protect the safety of the sports fans’.

There are twelve stadiums being built in Brazil for the World Cups. According to city auditors, Brasilia’s stadium alone cost 1.9 billion reals (that’s a staggering $849.26 million or £500 million)–in a country where the poorest 34% receive less than 1.2% of the nation’s income; in a country with one of the highest child homeless rates in the world & with millions living in slums.

Media is reporting this is the first time Indigenous people have joined the anti-austerity protests that began last summer 2013. In fact, there is photographic documentation showing they have been involved from the beginning. It can even be said they inspired the protests by refusing to leave Maracana Village (in March 2013), an abandoned natural history museum in Rio de Janeiro near a stadium which the government wanted demolished to make room for swanky shopping malls for game attendees.

Here Indios with bows & arrows confront mounted police with tear gas grenades in Brasilia at an anti-austerity protest on May 27th. International solidarity with the Indio’s just demands can obliterate any disparity in fire power.

(Photo by Lunae Parracho/Reuters)

Maize: from America’s Indigenes to Palestinian farmers

Gaza boy harvessting corn June 3 2014

This Palestinian boy in Gaza is helping his father harvest corn to sell at market. The little fellow probably doesn’t know he’s part of a long agricultural history rooted in colonialism & now affected by neoliberal agriculture. Maize was first cultivated about 2,500 BCE by Olmec & Mayans in the Valley of Tehuacán in the present day Mexican state of Puebla, about 150 miles east of Mexico City.

After European colonialism in the late 15th & early 16th centuries, maize was pirated & introduced back to European agriculture; it eventually spread to the rest of the world–including Palestine. Sweet corn is usually grown for human cuisine; field corn varieties for animal feed & chemical feedstocks like ethanol. Now of course, neoliberal agriculture is changing everything. In the US, 40% of the corn crop is produced for corn ethanol & 85% of the corn crop is genetically modified.

US statistics on corn crops might make that Palestinian corn worth its weight in cobs & soon the only corn left that’s edible, even by livestock.

(Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)