Category Archives: News

For those who need dental work but are broke

For anyone who needs major dental work & has no insurance for it or cannot afford it: I just got a crown for a broken tooth in Progreso, Mexico (just across the US border from Texas) at a respected dentist–for $300. It costs $2,000 on this side of the border & more in other parts of the US.

You needn’t go through the expense & hassle of a passport. You’re allowed to pass back into the US a few times with just a legitimate driving license. (They look it up online.)

Greece & Syriza crack down on refugees in a case of ‘it was just a matter of time’

Stranded refugee at Mac:Grk border (AFP Photo:Armend Nimani) Dec 9 2015

Before Syriza won the Greek elections last January, it campaigned for a more humane immigration policy. Under the previous regime, Greece functioned as the first gatekeeper of EU/Frontex immigration policy & its practices were barbaric. It erected a militarized wall on the Turkish border; housed immigrants & refugees in squalid, overcrowded detention centers; fostered right-wing vigilante & police violence in refugee neighborhoods; made it near-impossible to get transit papers to move beyond Greece forcing thousands to live homeless.

Since Syriza’s win, Greece has been allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees to enter & transit through its territory. There have been problems–like reports Greek (& Turkish) coast guard ships were disabling refugee dinghies & abusing refugees at processing centers. But they were not being rounded up, jailed, assaulted, or so massively obstructed from traveling, as previously. With Syriza now showing its Janus-faced politics, it was only a matter of time before they began cracking down on refugees & again playing their role as first gatekeeper for the EU/Frontex.

Today Greek police launched a dawn operation with 350 riot cops to remove 2,300 of the refugees at the Macedonia border being denied transit–including Moroccans, Iranians, Pakistanis, other north Africans, & some Somalis. The transit criteria is that only those fleeing war zones will be allowed into Macedonia so they began forcibly bussing other refugees, including men, women, & children, back to Athens to temporarily warehouse them in unused Olympic stadiums & to process them for eventual deportation. Greece has already begun deporting. Tsipras showed what an ass he is when he said “Greece cannot become a warehouse of souls for people who don’t want to stay here.”

What they’re trying to put an end to are the protests by refugees denied transit–hunger strikes, sit down protests, chanting, train blocking. Macedonian police have not only been shooting rubber bullets at unarmed refugees, but in freezing weather with snow on the ground, they have been spraying them with water hoses.

During the operation, “humanitarian workers” like Amnesty International & UN refugee officials along with reporters & photographers (some of whom were briefly arrested) were kept two miles (three kilometres) from the area. Because there is no question unarmed refugees were going to be roughed up as they resisted relocation. Media reported tonight that the UN refugee official on the site said there was nothing they could do except offer sympathy. How about screaming bloody murder & making an international incident about the human rights crimes being committed by the EU/Frontex, Macedonia, & Greece?

The problem with groups like Syriza is they give cynicism a reason to exist, a carcass to feed on. The writing was on the wall when prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ made his pilgrimage to visit Netanyahu in Israel followed by a letter informing Israel that Greece would not honor recent EU guidelines about labeling products made in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The EU wants them labeled with a formulation like ‚ÄúProduct from the West Bank (Israeli settlements)” rather than “Made in Israel.”

This young man is one of the refugees forcibly removed for deportation. The writing on his hand says “I want freedom.” We want freedom for him. And for that, international solidarity is of the essence.

Immigration is a human right. Open up the damn borders. No deportations.

(Photo by Armend Nimani/AFP)

Donald Trump is an antisocial ass not a model of independent thinking

Despite his arrant stupidity & malignant social hatreds, many say they admire Donald Trump for blunt-speaking. It’s so easy to be blunt-spoken when you can’t get fired or socially ostracized as a result.

But there’s a catch with being forthright. Sometimes it expresses an independent spirit that won’t be cowed. But often it expresses an antisocial spirit that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about other people. The latter is the kind Trump has.

There’s nothing admirable about his frankness; it’s just the arrogance supremacists of all sorts nurture–which makes him contemptible.

9/11 first responders: no healthcare from U.S. Congress & exploitation of their plight by Red Cross

It’s one of many national shames that 9/11 first responders (police, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians) are still not provided adequate healthcare for the pulmonary diseases & cancers that afflict them as a result of their work in that crisis. There’s money for bank bailouts & several wars but the Congressional coffers are dry when it comes to them. Many are incapacitated, many have died as a result.

Despite the criminal default of Congress, there is another resource they should be able to draw on for help. After 9/11, several charities raised more than $1 billion for assistance; the Red Cross alone raised more than $564 million. There’s no accounting nor evidence of Red Cross dispersals except for $154 million nor any reports about the rest of the dough.

Though Congress won’t come up with healthcare funds, a Congressional committee raked the Red Cross for the lack of accountability. That didn’t change their ways because in 2010 they raised another half a billion dollars for Haitian hurricane relief & Haitians only have six houses to show for that.

My maternal grandmother, who was born in the 19th century & was certainly no social critic, always excoriated the Red Cross as nothing but thieves. That’s how far back their corruption goes & how well it’s known.

Of course, the first demand is that Congress provide these men & women the assistance they deserve but we should keep in mind the treachery & grand larceny of the Red Cross in the next crisis when they come crying for our dough.

Bernie Sanders moralizes about gun violence; remains silent on threats to Muslims

Sorry to poke a stick at a political corpse, but is moralizing about gun violence the best Bernie Sanders can do in response to San Bernardino? His sole comment has been a tweet saying “Mass shootings are becoming an almost-everyday occurrence in this country. This sickening & senseless gun violence must stop.”

What about the war-mongering, the inflammatory & threatening anti-Muslim talk, the Trump demands that Muslims be banned from the US? Shouldn’t a progressive candidate say something about all that? Or is Sanders sticking with provincial sewer socialism come hell or high-water?

Government & media lies & conspiracy theorizing

People who want to understand what’s going on in the world have a hell of a problem because our governments are lying to us & media draws on government press releases & officials rather than investigative work for news analyses. The stories don’t add up & San Bernardino is a classic case in point.

The confusions lend themselves to conspiracy theorizing so that nothing is believable & everything becomes political theater directed by the CIA or Mossad. The Arab uprisings involving millions of people to the school shootings at Sandy Hook now become dismissed as frauds.

Of course governments conspire against us but conspiracy theorizing is a political method based on paranoia, speculations, imagination, suspicions, & fears. Quite frankly, it’s a poisonous method that’s taking over too much political discourse. It’s one thing to say the story doesn’t add up; it’s quite another to say it never happened or that it was a special ops drama.

Some things are verifiable; others never will be unless we get governments to open the books on their operations & surveillance. Chasing the conspiracies of the Kennedy assassination, 9/11, or labeling everything a false flag operation does not serve the movements for social change. Until we change the world, we have to live with the deceptions & uncertainties. But there’s plenty of evidence for what did happen, enough for us to chart a political course.

We don’t have to know if there were three shooters at San Bernardino or two to know that Muslims are being targeted for violence & persecution or that social hatred for them serves war-mongering. That’s where we focus our energy–on rebuilding antiwar opposition, Palestinian solidarity & BDS, & support for immigration & refugee rights. Because that is what we can control based on what we know for sure.

Media news blackout on all U.S. wars

Kabul, Afghanistan ( Rahmat Gul:AP) Dec 8 2015

Last week, media showed a photo of an Afghan man making tea. Today, they show a woman visiting a graveyard in Kabul. The US war & bombing have been going on there over 14 years. What happened to war journalism? It’s even worse when it comes to Iraq & as bad as the coverage of Kashmir.

After the Vietnam War, media attributed antiwar sentiment to its war coverage–neglecting to attribute the intransigence of the Vietnamese or the massive power of the international antiwar movement. The war coverage was puny, like has always been true of war, but it was broader & more extensive than coverage of previous wars. There was coverage of war-weary & injured soldiers in the field & even photographic documentation of war crimes like napalm victims & summary executions of Vietnamese–unlike WWII coverage which was primarily “heroic” moments for propaganda purpose–like the posed shot of raising the US flag at Iwo Jima or US marines landing at Normandy. Is there any coverage at all of the Korean War?

The US Pentagon was concerned by the antiwar effects of Vietnam War photography & during the 1991 Gulf War it banned most media coverage. In response to media protests of exclusion, the Pentagon began “embedding” journalists during the second Gulf War in 2003.

Embedded journalists travel with military units. They actually sign contracts with the Pentagon about what they are allowed to report. So what they see & report is controlled by the Pentagon. As one US Marine official said, “Frankly, our job is to win the war. Part of that is information warfare. So we are going to attempt to dominate the information environment.”

Some have justified embedding by pointing out that journalists are targeted in modern war, held hostage, even murdered. And that’s true. Journalism is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world, even in countries not at war but under occupation, like Mexico, or under dictatorships, like Egypt & Saudi Arabia. It’s a lot safer to ride in a tank or a Humvee than it is to travel by car through territory being bombed indiscriminately by the US.

But how does that explain why embedding journalists means there is no war reporting at all? That there is what amounts to a news blackout on US wars? Charming to see a man making morning tea & a woman visiting her relatives in the cemetery but it’s not war reporting. And war reporting matters when the US is bombing hospitals & the Green Beret are committing war crimes.

We cannot force media, the handmaiden of the Pentagon, to report on US wars. But we also cannot allow news blackouts to govern the level of our antiwar activities.

US out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq! US out of Syria!

(Photo by Rahmat Gul/AP)

US news on an amphetamine blast in place of news reporting

All the news networks are inflammatory about San Bernardino but ABC takes the cake. David Muir, the parvenu being groomed as anchor, reads the news like he’s on amphetamines–which is perfectly suited for the modern Grimm fairy tales they’re passing off as news. Muslim boogeymen & women everywhere.

Yesterday Muir reported, in than panicked style of his, that every day YouTube, FB, & Twitter receive 90,000 messages from ISIS. Their algorithms must be working full tilt. Or does some schnook have to go in there & delete all 90,000 by hand? And how do they know the messages are from ISIS & not some teenage pranksters?

Of course, the marvel is that ISIS can do all that military damage, holding off 44 armies with bombers, & still have such an active social media life. Before they’re taken out, they could do the world some good by explaining their secret for multitasking.

McCarthy witch-hunt is the model for the emerging Muslim witch-hunt

One could call the McCarthy witch-hunt the propaganda apparatus of the US Cold War with the USSR which began after WWII. The fear & war-mongering, the promotion of surveillance & curtailment of civil liberties were unbridled–& quite frankly unhinged. For children, it was a real-life version of Grimm fairy tales, filled with violence & dangers for children.

The McCarthy era developed as I came of age & because my mother was political & right-wing, we grew up schooled in every accusation against “commies” & “pinkos.” Every liberal was suspect, including the TV weatherman & Minnesota’s Democratic Party senators.

That did not break until the 1960s & the emergence of the US civil rights & anti-Vietnam War movements–although in many ways, it still hasn’t broken because socialists are still considered by many as duplicitous & malignant instead of people with a political critique of inequality. Many leftists have crazy-assed ideas but most of them are not dangerous. Especially to the US government.

The Fifties were a relatively quiescent era politically because dissidents were harshly punished by being fired from jobs, socially ostracized, & blacklisted. At a plant where I worked, liberal & socialist workers were met in the parking lot by armed guards & told they didn’t work there anymore. My own family ostracized me when in the 1960s I became a socialist & got involved in antiwar work. My parents were horrified & stormed heaven for my soul; some family members would not allow their children to spend time with me lest I indoctrinate them (as I had been indoctrinated).

That is exactly the kind of dynamic being promoted now by every equivocating statement by Obama about Muslims & immigrants; by figures like Trump, Carson, & the rest of the creeps running for president, offering fascist ideas about Muslims; by the FBI for a slipshod investigation of San Bernardino & a politically motivated rush to judgement that it was related to Muslims; by media which still can’t provide a coherent account of San Bernardino & relies on photo comparisons of the shooters to show their decline into “radicalism.” (The woman, it was claimed, wore lipstick & makeup before she became an ISIS supporter but then went bare-faced as she grew radical. You can’t make this crap up.)

Quiescence is exactly the opposite of what is required to push back the political forces of racism, xenophobia, nationalism coming at us. Rebuilding the international antiwar movement, building Palestinian solidarity & BDS, demanding immigration & refugee rights are central to that campaign. This is when you understand that international solidarity is not a matter of noblesse oblige but a matter of political freedom everywhere &, in fact, a matter of survival.