Category Archives: News

Tribute to mothers of those disappeared, tortured, murdered by oppressive regimes

Kashmiri mother of disappeared

International Women’s Day should not have come & gone without taking a moment to pay respects to the countless grieving mothers whose children have been disappeared, tortured, or murdered–surely the most merciless & monstrous of political crimes.

The weight of those crimes fall hardest now on the mothers & fathers of Mexico, Palestine, Kashmir, but they are or have been practiced in over 50 countries.

Not just our condolences but our solidarity is imperative since many of the countries we live in contribute considerably to these crimes through military aid & armaments–or through standing mute & doing business as usual with the criminal regimes. It’s not a question of noblesse oblige but of what kind of world we want to live in, whether it is suitable for children to live & love in.

Thank you to Ashraf Ali for posting this photo of a Kashmiri mother grieving & protesting the disappearance of her son.

(Photo from FB wall of Yusuf Jameel)

Demonizing Israelis

Qabatiya, near Jenin 2:6:16 (AFP)

It’s politically unwise to get into demonizing Israelis, including Israeli soldiers involved in the occupation. The Palestinian proposal for a democratic, secular state where Jews & Palestinians will live as brothers & sisters presumes the ability of Israelis to be persuaded. That won’t be just through painstaking pedagogy & spiritual transformation but through the development of Palestinian political power against the state of Israel.

After Israel’s murderous invasion & carpet bombing siege over Gaza in 2014, the Israeli military reported a rise in soldier suicides. The figures given are likely fudged & they aren’t anything as massive as soldier suicides in the US military which are greater than combat deaths. Nevertheless, they are significant. Israeli military officials deny any connection between the barbaric military operations & the suicides because that would belie their claims about Israel being ‘the most moral army in the world.’

But we know from testimony gathered by Breaking the Silence, the Israeli anti-occupation group of soldiers & veterans, that distress among Israeli soldiers at what they did & what they witnessed is deeper & more widespread than reflected in the number of suicides. That’s why demonizing is so short-sighted. Putting aside the psycho, special forces troops, most Israelis weren’t raised to do monstrous things; most have the same human values as people round the world–except that they are bred in hatred for Palestinians & in Zionist mythology justifying colonialism. When they’re engaged in occupation, they find themselves doing things at odds with who they thought they were & perhaps in a peculiar way, they find themselves confronting the humanity of Palestinians.

It isn’t up to Palestinian solidarity activists to dispense contrition for human rights crimes committed nor to demonize soldiers. Our job is to build a movement that can grow Palestinian political power. That’s what BDS is all about. But we should take note that testimony gathered by anti-occupation soldiers & the suicide of soldiers reflects distress at Israeli policy & shows possibilities for political work among soldiers & vets. That’s only possible if they aren’t demonized & treated like pariah. That doesn’t mean sweet-talking around war crimes; it means not giving up on Israelis because troubled veterans are a weak link that can be politically organized to build Palestinian political power.

Photo is Israeli soldiers in Qabatiya, West Bank, pointing assault weapons at unarmed Palestinians. How Palestinians under brutal occupation deal with Israeli troops is for them to decide.

(Photo from AFP)

How is the US government really run?

Refuee family at Grk-Mac border (REUTERS:Marko Djurica) Mar 9 2016

The presidential elections raise the question of how the US government is run. The social studies catechism teaches all that stuff about three branches: judicial, legislative, executive. They don’t mention Wall Street, lobbyists, think tanks, special advisers (like Kissinger), or other ways the oligarchy intervenes to make sure their interests are best served.

How otherwise do we explain Obama, elected because he promised the moon but who hasn’t come through on a single pledge? It’s a hard thing to own up to, but the president doesn’t run this country. The monied interests are not so reckless with their international investments that they would put a rookie like Obama in charge. He has “advisers.”

People want to believe if Sanders becomes president (file that under fat chance), he’ll be easier to pressure–though it’s something of an insult to their own man to say he’s so wishy-washy, so uncommitted. Is lily-livered what you’re looking for in a president? Enough with the pipe dreams. Sanders knows exactly how this country is run & has long-since made his accommodations with it.

Starry-eyed naiveté is understandable in youth but those who were part of pressuring presidents like Nixon in the Vietnam era or Reagan in the 1980s, when we massively opposed the US in Central America, know well that all of them are subject to pressure if enough people mobilize against them. We know that partially from the Pentagon Papers. We know it full well from history.

Mass mobilizations are how revolutions are made. So the ruling elite at all times gauge their options in relation to how much they can get away with & how much active opposition there is. If elected, Drumpf isn’t going to bring the onset of fascism to the US even if he wants to. That is not how fascism develops; that is not how the US is run.

If things change in the US (& they must) in a progressive direction, it will be based on principled politics, not expedience. Expedience is what got us to the mess we’re in now with endless wars & massive refugee crises. Principled politics call for action to defend human & democratic rights & to oppose their monstrous wars. Therein lies the rub because it is easier to do nothing & vote a chimera than it is to take action to end what we cannot allow.

Whoever is elected, the only way forward is to take our place with millions of others in defending justice here & around the world.

(Photo of refugee crisis as a result of expedience. By Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Indian female fighter pilots not an advance for women’s rights

Indian women fighter pilots (from zeenews.India

These are India’s “first batch of female fighter pilots.” There’s a militarist trend in journalism promoting the notion that women in elite military units are a sign of women’s advancement. They made a spectacle of the first Muslim woman fighter pilot & when women trained for US special forces.

There’s nothing laudable or progressive in training a handful of women to bomb or terrorize other people. That is no measure of women’s progress but of tokenism & giving a softer, gentler face to military barbarism. The only measures worth a patoot are the elimination of sweatshop economics, the end of violence against women, & the end of discrimination in every sphere of economic, political, & social life.

We’re going to hear all that elitist feminist baloney played out in campaigning for Clinton as the first woman president. It isn’t good enough she’s female. So were Margaret Thatcher & Indira Gandhi; so is Angela Merkel. They only prove that gender is not the decisive question but politics are & which side you are on.

(Photo from Zee News India)

Palestinians on crime spree across Israel or hunted down by Israeli police?

Jaffa stabbing scene ((REUTERS:Amir Cohen) Mar 9 2016

Media today is bursting with headlines like “Palestinian kills US tourist in stabbing spree on Tel Aviv boardwalk” & “US student dead & at least 13 others injured in attacks across Israel.” The problem with the reporting about three separate attacks is the dearth of information. There’s all sorts of extraneous filler in the articles about what rightwing Israeli politicians had to say; that Joe Biden’s family (he is visiting the immediate area for talks with Shimon Peres) were dining on a nearby beach; & a non sequitur about Netanyahu’s alleged snub of Obama.

The incident of particular interest is the Palestinian man, now reportedly shot dead by Israeli police, who stabbed 10 people in a “stabbing rampage.” Some reports say he was running down the boardwalk; other reports say “he was running along the Tel Aviv beachfront stabbing pedestrians & motorists stuck in traffic.” We’d just like to know how one person could manage to stab so many people since the logistics seem improbable; stabbing someone takes quite an effort. Did he just brandish a knife or actually skewer them?

The Guardian-UK says “Initial accounts of the attacks were confused & contradictory.” You bet your sweet ass they were. They still are–even within the same article in the Guardian. What’s curious about that is the Israeli police are usually media’s only source of information. Can’t the police get their story straight?

According to the Guardian, the assailant, who was shot dead trying to flee, was later identified as a 22-year-old Palestinian man from Qalandiya. They know his age & where he’s from, but not his name? There was apparently another incident in occupied East Jerusalem where a Palestinian “gunman opened fire on Israeli police” before being shot dead by police. Other than his name, Fouad Tamimi, & age (he was 25), there is no other information. The third incident of an alleged stabbing in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv isn’t described at all. What kind of sloppy-assed reporting is that!?

The Guardian (which functions as the rightwing Jerusalem Post’s European edition) says these latest attacks ‘come after months of violence in Israel & the Palestinian territories in which 183 Palestinians & 28 Israelis have been killed since October.’ Well we’d sure like them to explain the differential there because the rate of Palestinians killed is nearly seven times that of Israelis & yet all the news coverage is about that alleged “stabbing Intifada.” Stabbing Intifada, my ass! There is a pogrom against Palestinian youth which media refuses to report.

We would like to know about those 183 Palestinians killed. Israel also claims 121 of them were knife assailants. We want reports on the circumstances & the forensic results along with an explanation for why Israel won’t return the bodies to Palestinian families for respectful burial. But as we see, vague allegations better serve propaganda.

We regret if Palestinian youth actually did use a knife or gun because those Israelis injured are not the ones calling the shots in Israel. But color us skeptical as all get-out until we get confirmation from Palestinians. If Israel can’t provide names & forensic details that can be verified, the assailants could just as well be Israeli agents provocateur. It’s been done before.

Photojournalism on these three alleged incidents are also scanty & journalistically embarrassing.The caption to this photo (the typos are all theirs) says: “An Israeli policeman clear the spot where, according to Israeli police spokesperson, at least 10 Israelis were stabbed, in the popular Jaffa port area of Tel Aviv, Israel March 8, 2016.” Were they all stabbed on that spot?

We are undaunted in our support for Palestinians. As in Kashmir, the criminals are not those who resist occupation; the criminals are the occupiers.

Build & honor the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS) & demand no US aid of any kind to Israel.

(Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Hate mail to my presidential campaign

This June, I will commemorate fifty years of political activism, coming of age at a 1966 protest against the Vietnam War on the University of Minnesota campus. It has been an enriching life, though because I am a blunt spoken working class woman, not always an easy road.

People sometimes express concern that praise I receive for my posts on Facebook will make me heady with vanity & throw my commitments out of whack. I sincerely appreciate positive response but I’m not that vainglorious. You don’t stay committed in transformational politics if you put your ego over the demands of building movements for social justice. For all the praise I receive, I am familiar with equal doses of opprobrium. If you want to make the world a better place, you can’t let either get to you.

But sometimes it does. This morning I received a message on my campaign wall from an anonymous person. It isn’t the insults that disturb but the level of malice & petty cruelty. I share it here because sometimes you just don’t want to sustain social hatred alone.

*******
“Mary Scully is a joke. She purports to run for president yet can’t get a single endorsement or raise one fucking dime. She has less followers than the local pub. She spews incessant and tiresome garbage about over throwing the world order when she couldn’t overthrow the goddamned neighborhood association of her trailer park.

I will be taking a huge shit on your grave, Mary, whenever that wonderful day comes to pass, you nasty asshole. Given your shitty living conditions, lack of financial resources, despicable character, advanced age, non-existent social circle and bitter constitution your demise can’t be too far away. Most of the world won’t care when they throw you in the pauper cemetery. I’ll be sure to visit and fertilize the grave with my biomass fuel, cunt.

Hahahaha. You can barely keep track of all your mutts and you expect to dismantle the US military as well as prosecute US govt officials under some ridiculous notion of international law of which I guess you are the sole arbiter, enforcer and punisher. Oh dear, Mary, all this has the ring of….complete and utter insanity. You are a fucking fruit cake, a clueless clown spewing nonsense beyond that of even the most hair brained conspiracy theorist. You should have stayed hunkered down with your soul mate Ted Kazinsky. Perhaps you would still be allowed conjugal visits. Lol.

A dismal, desperate, sad, empty, meaningless future awaits you. Stick to saving the occasional homeless dog. Your activities as a political change agent / activist are a total waste of time and only serve to expose your incredible hubris that your extreme POV is the only salvation for all the worlds problems. You, when can’t solve your own poverty, misery and anger, are going to solve the problems of the entire world, eh Mary? By destroying what is and then rebuilding under some crazy assed notion that has only existed in your ridiculous daily manifestos? JFC, you give crazy new respectability. Get out of your novel and see the world a bit. Your life as a recluse is driving you mad.”

Israel commemorates International Women’s Day by honoring Naomi Campbell, frequently charged with felonious assault on female subordinates

Naomi Campbell & Shimon Peres (Amir Cohen) Mar 8 2016

This grotesque encounter is what you get when Israeli colonialism, apartheid, & ethnic cleansing try to feign association with progressive social movements like feminism. British model Naomi Campbell does the obligatory photo op with former paramilitary terrorist & past Israeli president Shimon Peres after he presented her an award at an event commemorating International Women’s Day today at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Israel.

Actually, given her nearly 20-year rap sheet of anger management issues toward female subordinates, she may be the most appropriate candidate for that award from Peres who has his own rap sheet as a terrorist against Palestinians.

Going back to 1998, she has been sued, served community service, & pleaded guilty to charges by women maids & assistants umpteen times for violence & verbal & physical abuse against them including: several assaults with telephones; threats to throw one out of a moving car onto a busy highway; head-butting one & slamming another against a wall; grabbing one by the neck & violently shaking her head; biting one on the lip & yanking her to the ground by her hair while screaming “You f*****g worthless bitch”; slapping one & beating her on the head with a Blackberry.

She has also assaulted an actress, her drug counselor, & kicked & spit at police at Heathrow after going berserk on a plane.

In 2010, Hague prosecutors, in a case against former Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes, claimed Taylor delivered “blood diamonds” to Campbell after a 1997 dinner at Nelson Mandela’s home. Beside her violence, that may be her primary connection to Israel since it is up to its eyeballs in the blood diamond trade.

Blood diamonds (also known as conflict diamonds) are diamonds mined in a war zone, particularly in African countries. They are a plundered natural resource & at the expense of African working people in several countries–most notably the DR Congo. At this time, all diamonds, without exception, are considered blood diamonds by human rights groups & activists though the industry has attempted through a scheme called the Kimberley Process to circumvent scrutiny & continue trading in African blood.

Campbell deserves this honorific for women’s rights about as much as Peres does for peace when he is one of the chief architects of Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

Use your outrage & visceral disgust to build the economic & cultural boycott of Israel (BDS). Buy nothing beginning with barcode 729.

(Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters)

U.S. intervention into Honduras & the 2016 presidential elections

Bertita

The assassination of Honduran activist Berta Cáceres puts a spotlight on the role of the US in Honduras & in Central America generally. That includes the Obama administration & his Secretary of State Clinton, not just in the 2009 Honduran coup but in the ruthless implementation of neoliberal economic policies–which are indistinguishable in many ways from colonialism. Those policies are what Berta Cáceres spent her life opposing, why she was murdered, & why there are thousands of unaccompanied Honduran children crossing the US border as refugees.

Bernie Sanders supporters are tendentiously using Clinton’s role in the 2009 coup to discredit her. As an agent of the Obama administration, her role was absolutely pernicious & integral to massive political repression in Honduras including assassinations like that of Cáceres. But using Clinton’s role in the unspeakable crimes sanctioned & bankrolled by the US against the people of Honduras to gain debater’s points in a freaky election is the small-minded trap you get caught in when you cannot break with lesser evil political thinking.

Obama/Clinton policy in Honduras is of a piece with US policy in Honduras & Central America since the beginning of the 20th century when US fruit corporations created “banana republics.” The US has intervened repeatedly in military coups & to maintain military juntas in order to protect US commercial enterprises. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration used Honduras as a base to attack Nicaragua’s Sandinista government & as a base for its “war on terror” in other countries like Guatemala & El Salvador. Honduras received millions in annual military aid & was the largest military aid recipient in the region.

Thousands of Honduran police & military officials were trained at the US School of the Americas in the barbarisms of mass kidnapping, disappearances, mass rape, torture, assassination. The CIA trained death squads in Honduras; the US Pentagon set up training camps for guerrilla troops to be used against Nicaragua & where hundreds of Hondurans were detained, tortured, executed. This was under the supervision of John Negroponte, then US Ambassador to Honduras & certainly one of the most monstrous torturers & political operatives in the history of US foreign policy & human rights abuses.

What is condemned by US policy in Honduras is the entire US government which is based on over 100 years of wars & massive human rights crimes–& not just in Central America but on every continent. You cannot simply elect a lesser evil politician to tinker out some adjustments in foreign policy. The scale & duration of the crimes, the military edifice required to maintain the system, & the integral relationship of criminality to what the US has become call for a thoroughgoing, unsparing critique of the system. The entire military apparatus has to be dismantled, along with the CIA–& prosecutions would be required to bring even a modicum of justice for decades of unspeakable crimes committed against the peoples of Central America.

When Bernie Sanders supporters with a lesser evil mentality substitute the necessary political critique with small-minded parsing of distinctions that don’t exist, they make a mockery of politics, of democracy, of social transformation. They accept the status quo.

But of course Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee; Clinton will be because it’s a rigged system. Whichever option the Republicans put up against her will be loathsome. But if progressives take the route of lesser evil & choose Clinton over Drumpf or Cruz, they will show that they misunderstand the most fundamental questions of US politics today. The overwhelming majority of eligible US voters do not bother to register or if they register do not bother to vote because in a passive way they recognize there is no meaningful distinction between the two parties; there is no lesser evil. It’s the chimera, the shell game of US political treachery.

At the least, Sanders supporters should have the decency not to make debater’s points off the assassination of one of the most important political leaders of our era–Berta Cáceres, who lost her life not from tinkering with a corrupt system but by actively opposing it.

May she Rest in Peace & her name be forever honored as one of the great leaders & teachers of working people around the world.

(Photo is Berta Cáceres)

Build BDS India

Anand Singh

Supporters of the economic, cultural, & academic boycott of Israel (BDS) will want to read this report from the recent convention of BDS India where Anand Singh, representative of Indian People in Solidarity with Palestine, lays out the program for building BDS.

As one who has attended hundreds of conferences & read mountains of long-winded political tracts, this one is brilliant for brevity, clarity, & political power.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/bds-india/report-presented-at-bds-india-convention/679360778834105?hc_location=ufi

Long live Palestinian Intifada! Build BDS. Build BDS India.

(Photo is Anand Singh)

Rescuing flea-bitten mutts: a messy delight

Last week a small male dog came round my house acting all macho but I saw he was filthy & lost. He wanted to play with my beloved mutts so I lured him with food & snapped the gate shut. After he ate, he inched his way into my lap like a baby. How endearing can a little flea-infested mutt be!

I named him Max because he has a face like my irascible German grandfather who never reconciled to human society even though Max the dog loves to be loved.

He can’t be trusted & takes off every chance he gets so I end up carrying him a lot & threatening to kick his little butt. My mantra to all my dogs is, “don’t make my life a living hell; we’ll get along better that way.”

This morning, as I was smugly telling myself no dog was smarter than me, the little rascal escaped my hold & took off. I chased him for blocks but lost him so went back to get the car to search. Then I began to wonder if he perhaps had a family he returned to–the kind that lets their dogs roam free like was common in the 1950s & is rife here now. After driving several blocks, I couldn’t find him so returned to feed the menagerie. Max probably didn’t want to miss breakfast since he was hanging at the gate when I returned.

To anyone willing to do the work–which means dealing with unseemly body fluids & allowing your car to smell like a livestock carrier–there is nothing in life more delightful than a dog. They’re little scoundrels & sneaks devoted to being loved.