Category Archives: News

Indian beef ban in Kashmir directed at Muslim freedom of religion

Kashmir beef protest (Dar Yasin:AP) Sept 20 2015

On Sept 10th, an Indian high court in occupied Kashmir ordered authorities to strictly implement a 1932 law–which they have not enforced for nearly 70 years–making slaughter of cows punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment plus a fine.

Cows are remarkable, even if underestimated, animals. But this post is not about the sacredness of cows in Hinduism nor the virtues of vegetarianism. It is about the politics of beef in India which is a tangled web of right-wing Hindu nationalism & discrimination against Muslims & the oppressed castes who number about 430 million people combined (nearly one-third of the Indian population of nearly 1.3 billion people) who are beef eaters.

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi came to power with the support of Hindu right-wing nationalist groups who want cows revered as sacred, oppose cow slaughter & want it considered a crime–though the impulse behind it is less likely religious than it is political persecution of Muslims, Dalits, & other oppressed castes. Kashmir is a predominantly Muslim region.

It is in the market that religious attitudes toward cows conflict head-on with the realities of capitalism. India is the world’s largest exporter (exceeding even Brazil) & fifth largest consumer of beef. In the year 2012-2013, USD $29 million of beef was exported from India. When Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was chief minister of the state of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014, he banned beef slaughter & consumption under penalty of seven years in jail. Modi also presided in Gujarat over a Hindu nationalist pogrom against Muslims. However at the same time, meat export from Gujarat doubled & the state has one of the largest numbers of slaughterhouses. Throughout India, there are an estimated 30,000 illegal slaughterhouses. Some sources claim these are all Muslim-owned but that isn’t the way capitalism works. If there’s money to be made, religious scruples become ceremonial.

The ban on cattle slaughter has generated a black market industry, particularly to Bangladesh where an estimated two million head of cattle are smuggled annually for food & tannery factories. Bangladesh estimates the worth of cattle smuggling from India at three percent of the country’s USD $190 billion economy.

There are a lot of Indian jobs related to the cattle industry–from farmers & traders to people engaged in processing, deboning, packing, & those engaged in the tannery industry, pharmaceuticals where cow urine is used, & pet food. Poor farmers, already under siege by agribusiness plantations & threatened by crop failure or drought, cannot sustain unproductive animals just because the state declares them sacred. Thousands more farmers would be economically destroyed.

There is a debate generated by a book titled “The Myth of the Holy Cow,” written by Professor Dwijendra Narayan Jha, who claims, contrary to Hindu nationalists, that beef eating was common in ancient Hinduism before the advent of Islam to India. That’s possible since we know from Catholicism & other religions that proscriptions come & go & are most often influenced by political events. But the dispute now in Kashmir & the rest of India is not over Hindu theology & practice, nor is it over advocacy of vegetarianism. It is about right-wing fundamentalists & nationalists under the guise of religion stoking conflict & legitimizing persecution of Muslims, Dalits, & the other oppressed castes–not because they eat beef but because they are persecuted in India.

This photo is Kashmiri activists protesting the beef ban being attacked by Indian police & paramilitary thugs.

(Photo by Dar Yasin/AP)

No insights on this blog into “Pig-gate”–debauchery is the schtick of British media

The British media–already filled to the gills with sensationalism–will be commenting for months about “Pig-gate” & Cameron. The personal debaucheries of the ruling class don’t interest me one iota & I will not be commenting, except perhaps for occasional ridicule. The political worthlessness of these characters is beyond dispute but the British media will only use this crap to distract from the criminal debaucheries of Britain in war & colonialism because those are the things that really matter.

Obama & the feudal monarch of Saudi Arabia: partners in unspeakable crimes

Obama with Saudi king

This isn’t the feudal king of Saudi Arabia (SA) with Obama but one of the princes or a minion of some sort. The two jamokes have so much in common–like criminal responsibility for the 6-month bombing siege of Yemen–taking out schools, hospitals, homes, refugee camps with cluster bombs supplied by the Pentagon.

The US State Department welcomes the news that SA was chosen to head up a UN human rights panel. Of course they do. That will make sure the Saudis have Obama’s back in the UN against charges of war crimes–like the atrocities just exposed by Green Berets in Afghanistan–or for supplying the arsenal to Israel for carpet bombing of Gaza.

Why should it concern the Obama regime that 20 year-old Saudi Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested on questionable grounds, held without counsel, tortured, & now will be killed by crucifixion just because his uncle is a Saudi political dissident? What’s the problem!? It’s just another day at Guantanamo or Bagram or any of the other CIA torture centers.

The one good thing you can say about Obama is that he has a flashy smile. But behind it is a man who, to feather his own nest, is willing to front for practices not distinguished from those of feudal barbarism. The CIA doesn’t use crucifixion in its torture chambers; it has waterboarding, sexual torture & humiliation, noise machines, sleep deprivation. The State Department probably thinks it can learn a thing or two from the Saudis; that crucifixion thing might come in handy.

Neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism, has met its match in feudalism, & is taking humanity backwards. Humanity has to defy this by re-building the international antiwar movement. No historic task is more imperative.

Immediately we need to put pressure on Saudi embassies & the US State Department to stop the crucifixion of al-Nimr & release him to his family.

Evil fairies may have taken over earth in our sleep

Palestinian stone-throwers

Some days you read the news you think evil fairies took over the planet. Or maybe you just hope that’s what happened:

Saudi Arabia was chosen to head a UN human rights panel;

Ben Carson thinks Darwin came up with the theory of evolution because he was influenced by Satan;

Israel says a Palestinian teen was killed when a grenade he was going to throw at Israeli soldiers exploded in his hands;

A Zionist site says Gandhi & Martin Luther King, Jr. never threw rocks so when media doesn’t condemn Palestinian stone-throwers they’re whitewashing Palestinian violence. Even worse, the media source they blast is the NY Times–a stronger lying-assed ally Israel has never had.

Is it any wonder the kids do drugs & the rest of us are considering it?

(Photo of Palestinians lobbing stones so as not to be accused of whitewashing)

Let me rain on the Pope’s parade

Pope & Obama (Andrew Harnik:AP) Sept 23 2015

No one wants to be the one to rain on the Pope’s parade but preaching to regimes about poverty & climate change is not the same as holding them to criminal account. In many ways, he’s the Bernie Sanders of Catholicism.

We all appreciate a good homily against poverty but you have to take it from abstract to concrete & that’s where you find the devil lurking in the details. A monumental share of poverty in the world falls heaviest on women & children. If women cannot control their own reproductive lives, the poverty becomes even more devastating.

When Pope Francis toured the Philippines last January, he focused much of his preaching against Filipino legislation providing free family planning services & voicing his opposition to birth control. On the plane returning to Rome he told reporters ““Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits, but no.” What the hell did that mean? Was he proposing abstinence instead of birth control?

Tomorrow he addresses the US Congress–a group which includes some of the most backward & misogynist halfwits on the planet when it comes to reproductive rights. They are presently debating whether to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood (PP), the biggest provider of birth control in the country. Will Pope Francis intervene against PP as he did against family planning clinics in the Philippines? And are women supposed to clam up our protests if he does just because he talks a good game about climate change? We think not.

We appreciate his counsel on poverty & climate change–though of course he’s talking to the wrong people for a solution. But we will not appreciate, nor will we hold our tongues, if he campaigns against PP & birth control in this country. Those would be fighting words because one of the greatest problems for poor & working women is the lack of access to reproductive freedom.

Don’t ask women to put aside our rights in deference to the Pope. It’s time the Catholic Church recognized women as human beings. There’s no negotiating on that & even ardent Catholics think that.

(Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP)

Election campaign shows crisis of leadership in U.S. capitalism

Hillary Clinton just came out against the Keystone XL pipeline as part of her program (i.e., campaign rhetoric) to fight climate change. It likely isn’t Sanders pushing her to the left because at least (& only) rhetorically she is further to the left than he is—most notably, on immigration.

She’s behind him in the polls but what’s driving her left rhetoric is the prospect of millionaire donors abandoning her for Biden if he runs. She’s Wall Street’s choice for now but her corruption is catching up with her & the people who really control who runs don’t want that trailing her into the White House.

If the hapless Biden is capitalism’s ‘deus ex machina’ in this campaign, it can be said without a moment’s hesitation there is a crisis of leadership in US capitalism. And not for the first time.

Saudi war crimes in Yemen

Sanaa, Yemen rubble (Hani Mohammed:AP) Sept 23 2015

On the same day tens of thousands protested in Sanaa, Yemen, against the Saudi-led bombing (now in its sixth month), others like this woman in Sanaa were searching the rubble of their bombed-out homes for survivors.

The Saudi-led, US-armed coalition includes the monarchies of Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco; Egypt, a military dictatorship; & Sudan, a country repeatedly condemned by the US & UN for genocide in Darfur & for slavery.

Human rights groups accuse the coalition of “potential war crimes” but hedging the accusation with that “potential” (just like they did in Gaza) makes a mockery of their commitment. When Saudi war planes are bombing schools, hospitals, residential neighborhoods, refugee camps–now for six months–there’s no “potential” thing going on here. When there is evidence Saudis are using cluster bombs, there’s no “potential” thing happening but unmistakeable, verifiable human rights & war crimes.

It doesn’t matter that the US & Saudi Arabia refuse to sign the international treaty banning cluster munitions signed by 116 other countries. It’s still war crimes in international law. One could also say, these are crimes by every standard of human morality, but there is no morality in modern war–only barbarism.

The Yemen uprising of 2011, where women played such a leading role, inspired the world & was forced to retreat. The Saudi bombing is to finish the job off of destroying every vestige of resistance to tyranny & US intervention, which included years of drone bombing allegedly against al-Qaeda.

Our deepest respect to the people of Yemen for standing up midst the bombing & marching in solidarity with Palestinians & in defiance of the military aggression against them.

As we assemble international antiwar forces to commemorate & grieve the 14th year of the war against Afghanistan, we should include placards demanding the end of war against the people of Yemen.
(Photo by Hani Mohammed/AP)

Thousands protest in Yemen against Saudi war & in defense of Palestinians

Yemen 9:21:2015

Only three media sources have reported on this massive protest yesterday in Sanaa, Yemen to condemn both the Zionist aggression against Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem & the Saudi-led bombing aggression against Yemen. The protest was called by the leadership of the Houthi movement.

The purpose of Saudi bombing, which has gone on since late March, is to destroy the popular democratic movement of 2011. This protest would suggest the revolution lives on.

The people of Yemen show the way forward in re-building the international antiwar movement even while their country is being bombed to smithereens.

Our deepest respect & fullest solidarity.

(Photo from

Putin/Russia allies with Netanyahu/Israel in Syria

There’s a proverbial saying that “politics makes strange bedfellows.” So what are we to make of the new military alliance between Putin/Russia & Netanyahu/Israel over Syria? Actually such an alliance speaks for itself & increases the dangers of US & Russian warplanes in the region.

The Palestinian struggle now merges with the international antiwar movement. Nothing is more imperative historically & politically than to re-build that movement demanding no military intervention in Syria & no support to Assad.