Category Archives: News

Brazil needs a massive housing project; Dilma Rousseff builds Olympic stadiums for the world’s rich

Rio de Janeiro lagoon ( Yasuyoshi Chiba:AFP:Getty) Apr 18 2015

A 120-page document came out of the June 2012 UN conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on sustainable development. For sheer tonnage of affirmations & reaffirmations about eradicating poverty & protecting the environment it just can’t be beat & is only rivaled by the complete mendacity of the damn thing. No one gives more compelling testimony to that than the indigenous peoples of Brazil fighting bare-knuckled neoliberal enterprises stealing their lands, assassinating their leaders, mowing down the rainforest.

Whatever president Dilma Rousseff was in her youth, it is not flattering that she is now called “Iron Lady.” When your sobriquet begs comparison to the detestable Margaret Thatcher, you’re headed in the wrong direction. The only political forces that defend her are supporters of neoliberal plunder & Stalinists who attempted to portray protests against her as fascist. Is it relevant that Stalin is a nom de plume meaning “iron man.”

Brazil has immense environmental & social problems: massive plunder, massive poverty, unemployment, & slums, massive homelessness. It has one of the biggest homeless child populations in the world & has now become the go-to destination for child prostitution. So why the hell is the government sponsoring the 2016 Olympic games to the tune of billions rather than addressing social problems like housing?

In this photo municipal workers are removing dead fish from the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro. They’ve removed over 37 tonnes just this week. Fifteen years ago they removed 100 tonnes because the lagoon stinks so damn bad. In 2008-2009, they removed 365 tons of algae. But they haven’t shut down the waste pipes discharging sewage into the canal & sucking the oxygen out of the water, which is causing the fish die-off. The clean-up project will cost US$28 million, a worthy investment considering the lagoon is connected to the Atlantic Ocean & stinks up the city.

They are not cleaning up the lagoon as a result of all their 2012 affirmations but because it will be the venue for Olympic rowing & canoeing events next year. If they could deodorize the lagoon by pouring Chanel #5 or Shalimar into it they would & leave it at that. But even an Olympic gold medal isn’t worth plowing through tonnes of stinking fish bodies, algae, & sewage.

Several reports discuss speculations about the cause of the stench coming off the lagoon. They found a few academics (of the kind who sing for their supper) to claim it goes back 300 years. They leave unexplained how they know that. Other people suggest open sewers draining from favela slums on the hillsides surrounding the lagoon are the problem or that rich condominiums around the lagoon bribe officials to secretly discharge their waste. Don’t you think that out of a $28 million budget they could get an engineer to find those sewage pipes & plug them up or at least find out where they’re coming from?

(Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty)

A tribute to the memory of eleven million victims of the Nazi gulag

Zionist manipulation & distortion of the WWII holocaust cannot deter us from taking a moment to honor the memory of the eleven million who suffered & died in the Nazi gulag. The victims included Jews, Roma, Poles, African-Germans, Ukrainians, Slavs, Serbs, LGBTs, the disabled, trade unionists, socialists, anarchists, liberals, & every other kind of dissident, Catholics & Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They were all our sisters & brothers & we honor & acknowledge every one of them. Colonialism & replicating the Nazi matrix in Palestine is not the alternative to such a monstrous crime. Blaming it on German psychology is a political dead-end. We need to understand the reasons for the rise of fascism & no one has better elaborated them than Leon Trotsky who counterposed a political analysis to the mystification of other historians & Zionists.

TV sitcoms and the normalization of women’s degradation

“The Big Bang Theory” is on TV right after evening news at a time when lots of kids are watching. The sitcom is clearly intended for a young audience. I occasionally leave it on while I’m working without paying attention to it. Over the past few months I’ve overheard more than one episode glorifying & making sport of prostitution–introducing young people to the concept of buying women’s sexuality as easily as one buys a video game or CD & normalizing & legitimizing it through humor. Is it any wonder misogyny is still a stinking problem in this society!?

SYRIZA and the struggle for democracy in Greece

Greek protester (Alkis Konstantinidis:Reuters) Apr 17 2015

SYRIZA in Greece typifies one of the great divisions among socialists over whether you can get elected to public office & administer capitalism to get justice & equality & eliminate the barbarisms like war. It’s never worked out historically when the army & police, let alone the economy, were left in capitalist control. Barbarism is the nature of capitalism in its decline. Justice means nothing to them compared to profiteering. The human suffering created doesn’t even register as a concern & comes in handy for racist population control.

SYRIZA doesn’t have a model political program but even if it did they’d be up a creek without a paddle because not just Greek capitalism but the entire international system is poised to destroy & discredit them. That was played out in technicolor in debt negotiations between SYRIZA, the IMF & EU.

This photo of riot cops in Athens going after a protester is a case in point. According to media, the protesters are primarily anarchists against establishing high-security prisons & demanding the release of political prisoners, identified in reports as “terrorists.” Many protesters engaged in the political stock-in-trade of anarchists by burning cars, trash bins, & smashing windows. Such tactics are what make anarchism so attractive to police agents provocateurs & so repellent to the big battalions of social transformation. Without insights from Greek activists it’s not easy to understand the political character of these protests. Are they mobilizations against injustice or are they an orchestrated provocation against SYRIZA? Or are they (more likely) a combination of the two?

It may not be easy to understand the political character of these protests but it’s a breeze to condemn deployment of riot cops using tear gas against protesters. They’re a feature of neoliberal capitalist policing around the world. SYRIZA ought to dismantle them but the likelihood is SYRIZA has no control over the cops whatsoever. Greek capitalists are predatory; they’re not stupid & they hold the reins of state power closely, even if tenuously.

According to the media, there are also 4,000 miners protesting in Athens against SYRIZA’s decision to revoke permits to a mining operation in Skouries on environmental grounds. Some may look at this & say “Well if industrial workers are on the march denouncing SYRIZA, then that settles that. SYRIZA is counterrevolutionary.” But a closer look raises some questions. The mining operation is run by Eldorado Gold Corp., a Canadian mining outfit. They’ve already spent US$400 million in the gold mine project & want to invest another $700 million by 2017 to build a processing plant & develop two mines in the area. The company posted on their website that the decision to revoke permits threatens the creation of 5,000 jobs, but let’s get serious. What concerns them is the $1 billion investment & the obstructions created by environmental concerns, not jobs. So what do you bet they bussed those miners & likely mobilized company personnel for the protests in Athens!?

One promise SYRIZA made in the election campaign was humane treatment of undocumented immigrants, including closing down the detention centers. Frontex & the European Union are closing down the land routes through Turkey into Greece. They expect the Greek government to function as the first phalanx against immigration increasing by land & sea as a result of the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, & elsewhere. Will SYRIZA stand up against the right-wing in defense of immigrants? Or will they capitulate?

Truth of the matter is, given the international forces arrayed against it, that SYRIZA doesn’t stand a chance without using its resources to mobilize Greek working people & build international solidarity to oppose neoliberal austerity measures; defend immigrant rights; & not just demand environmental protections from foreign corporations but kick them the hell out of Greece.

(Photo by Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters)

Monarchies and military dictatorship bomb democracy into Yemen

Yemen refugee woman (Feisal Omar:Reuters) Apr 17 2015

Photojournalists play such an important role in understanding politics because they capture moments like this which take war from abstraction to violent reality . This fellow is carrying an elderly woman off a ship of war-refugees fleeing Yemen for Somalia. That is the kind of mess the US & its monarchical allies have made of the Middle East–where you flee from Saudi warplanes in Yemen to US drone bombers in Somalia. Many of the refugees coming off these boats may in fact be among the 250,000 Somalians who fled to Yemen to escape US bombing or cross the border into Saudi Arabia to find work.

The US has been militarily involved with drones & special forces in Yemen & Somalia for years which is why both countries are in such utter shambles. The US has buttressed its propaganda about fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with farcical spectacles like the underwear bomber & the ink cartridge bomb. Some analysts in the US even suggest the “instability” of the Yemen & Somalia regimes are a result of US interference. Of course it is. Chaos & civil conflict is where the Pentagon sees its fortunes & the very best way to destroy opposition & popular revolution against tyranny.

The Arab uprisings scared the hell out of the US, European, & most Middle East countries. Democracy would undo their at once extemporized & long-range plans for control & plunder of the Middle East. Turning people against each other is a colonial strategy, not viewed in the Pentagon as a regrettable consequence but the very end goal. It is also a monarchical strategy to maintain feudal control over kleptocratic capitalist economies.

To think that of the ten countries involved in bombing democracy into Yemen, seven are monarchies, one a military dictatorship, & two are tyrannies. That only makes sense if you’re completely stupid.

Our fullest solidarity with the people of Yemen & Somalia. Our pledge is to do our utmost to rebuild the international antiwar movement.

(Photo by Feisal Omar/Reuters)

Hunting elephants and that karma is a bitch thing

It’s not wise to get all high & mighty about people who like hunting because many are just inculcated with the “great chain of being” thing & can’t see animals as anything more than brutish & without spirit or emotions. It’s part of the alienation from nature that modern urban dwellers feel. And may be it’s just alienation in general. Or, more likely, they’re just complete knuckleheads.

But I read today about a great white hunter in the lower Zambezi Valley of Africa who led safaris on elephant hunts. He was charged by an elephant bull he was tracking with a client (likely one of those affluent nimrods who pose with their dead prey like the king of Spain & Donald Trump’s dumb-ass kids did).

The elephant was in musth, the frenzied state of rutting season, & in no mood to be taken out by some dilettante hunter & a thrill killer. Our man the professional hunter got off one shot before he bit a hoof & Beelzebub ushered him to that special place in hell reserved for elephant killers.

May he RIP but now he knows for sure that karma is a bitch.

Time Magazine annual list of 100 most worthless people

Time Magazine just published Its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Nominees were sorted into categories of Titans, Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, Icons. Most of them would better fit under the category Worthless Bums.

Kanye West & Kim Kardashian are included as Titans–& the list goes downhill from there. The Koch brothers are honored; Tim Cook, the head of Apple which employs child labor; Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India who engaged in ethnic cleansing Muslims but was praised in a laudatory essay by Obama as “India’s reformer-in-chief” with an “ambitious vision to reduce extreme poverty, improve education, empower women & girls & unleash India’s true economic potential while confronting climate change.” Wow! Do Indians know that? Do India’s Muslims feel conciliatory now?

There’s the usual line-up of politicians like Putin, Clinton, Merkel, Elizabeth Warren (who’s being primed for office), Xi Jinping of China, king Salman of Saudi Arabia, & Muhammadu Buhari, the former dictator just elected president of Nigeria as the “least awful” candidate. Laudatory pieces for the honored were written by creeps like Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, Paul Wolfowitz, David Cameron. But certainly the coup de grâce of damnation has to be the inclusion of Netanpsycho, the engineer of Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

There’s some inoffensive sorts like Malala Yousafzai, Pope Francis, Ruth Bader Ginzberg, Bjork, Taylor Swift on the list. But let’s just cut to the chase here: the list is a great big red alert. Our society is in a political & cultural crisis if these are the people we’re supposed to admire. Most of them should be prosecuted & the other ones considered past their 15 minutes of inglorious fame.

Reposted from April 2013 after bombing of Boston Marathon

Syrian man grieving son (Manu Brabo:AP)

We grieve the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, whose 6-year-old sister lost her leg & whose mother suffered a brain injury from the Boston bomb. The violence of little Martin’s death exposes the horrors millions of children in war zones endure in a way the US media detaches us from in order to make us indifferent. But the loss of this little boy is a tragedy & a crime not diminished by comparison to the suffering of millions of children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, DR Congo, Palestine, Bahrain, & so many other countries at the hands of US military aggression & global plunder.

Facing the horrors of this child’s death drives home the political imperative of protesting against US wars & of demanding the end of drone bombing of civilians. Children’s lives are more precious that the gold & oil & diamonds they are fought over. They are among the first victims of war & the primary reason for changing the world to make it suitable for them to live & love in. The US government will use Martin’s death to promote more war & less freedom. We must respond demanding no war & more freedom!

Here a Syrian man weeps while holding the body of his son, killed by the Syrian Army in Aleppo, Syria (October 2012). The photo is one among several by an Associated Press team who just won a 2013 Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism.

(Photo by Manu Brabo/AP)

European Union and Frontex crimes against human and immigrant rights in the Mediterranean Sea

African immigrants (Alessandro Fucarini:AP) Apr 16 2015

The European Union’s (EU) racist immigration policies have created an extreme humanitarian crisis on the Mediterranean Sea. Last Sunday, another boat of African immigrants that set off from Libya capsized & 400 people, including children, drowned. Only about 150 were rescued by the Italian Coast Guard. The Italian Coast Guard claims it “intercepted” 42 boats between last Friday & Monday, rescuing 8,500 immigrants. Photos show infants, seniors, pregnant women being rescued; they also show immigrant’s bodies washing up on Italian beaches.

Since the 2011 US-NATO “emancipation” from Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan government has become unstable & the country increasingly violent & chaotic. In such a situation, immigration networks have been able to operate more freely. Frontex (the EU agency that coordinates defense of Europe’s borders against refugees) reported there are at least 500,000 more immigrants in Libya awaiting transport to Europe. That’s not counting refugees from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan, & elsewhere embarking at other points. How does Frontex know that? Because it operates a multi-million dollar high tech, sci-fi surveillance program using live satellite imagery, drone surveillance for close-ups, & radar to collect information along the immigration routes & it gathers data from Spanish, Italian, & Greek coast guard.

If Frontex has such a surveillance capacity, why do the number of boat capsizes & immigrant deaths continue to increase? Cause they don’t give a rat’s ass. In a telling omission, Frontex doesn’t record the number of those who’ve drowned in the Mediterranean but a consortium of European journalists reported that 23,000 had drowned between 1999 & 2013. Staggering–& evidence that should be used in a prosecution of Frontex & the EU for criminal neglect & mass murder.

Frontex (i.e., the EU) does not see it’s role as search & rescue but as interception. They are an agency to apprehend refugees & deport them back to their home countries. Between October 2013 & 2014, the Italian government ran Mare Nostrum, a search & rescue operation that ran from the Italian coast right up to the coast of Libya. It was hardly a model rescue operation since Lampedusa fishermen who helped rescue drowning immigrants last October reported the coast guard was negligent & delayed in response. But Italy ended operation Mare Nostrum last October & Frontex operation Triton took over. The Italian navy said it would still respond to any distress call but would no longer proactively search for boats in trouble. Of course maritime law requires even private ships to rescue any boat in need of help so this is no big largesse from Italy.

Rather than replicating operation Mare Nostrum, Frontex will not patrol international waters between Italy & North Africa but will only operate within 30 miles of the Italian coast. More importantly, in violation of maritime law, they do not see their mission as search & rescue but as border control & surveillance. Just when the demand increases for search & rescue in the Mediterranean, Triton, a joint force of European countries, will operate on a third of the budget of Mare Nostrum (cut from a budget of 9 million euro per month to 3 million per month), using only seven boats, two planes, & one helicopter. That rises to the level of human rights criminality. But Frontex hasn’t money to spare for leasing boats because it’s chartering planes to deport refugees back to their own countries.

On Friday, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without borders) announced it would operate search & rescue boats in the Mediterranean between May & October. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed.

Immigration is a human right! Granting asylum to refugees is an ancient humanitarian practice the EU thinks it can thumb its nose at. Abolish Frontex! Dump the EU! Open the damn borders!
Photo is of rescued immigrants; the young woman is holding a number tag issued by the Italian police after disembarking from an Italian coast guard ship in Palermo.

(Photo by Alessandro Fucarini/AP)

Standardized tests are a weapon of mass destruction for public education

It’s not easy figuring out the full story behind the cheating scandal of Atlanta teachers on the standardized tests. Even without all the facts, I do understand that charging them with the RICO statute used for organized crime & racketeering & sending them to prison for years is a mockery of justice.

Those standardized tests, which are a mockery of education, are being defied & denounced across this country by teachers & parents fed up with their tyranny. They are part of the “No Child Left Behind” program which is a weapon of mass destruction lobbed at public education.

I’m going to hazard a guess–call it playing the “race card”–but that pompous-assed white judge would likely not have thrown the book at the accused teachers if they weren’t Black. If the US government weren’t systematically attempting to re-segregate, undermine & destroy public education, “cheating” (or helping their students) would not be necessary.