Did Irish rebels die so Irish politicians can grovel with the worst of them?

First the Irish government fetes Betty Windsor, now they’re fawning over Donald Trump. Is this what Irish rebels died for!? Or are they turning over in their graves so fast they’ve become an important new source of energy?

As far as we know, Irish media isn’t known for radical sympathies but even they took issue with this unfortunate scene at Shannon airport, calling it depressing, a pity, & “pathetic gombeenism of the shabbiest & most insecure kind.” We don’t have a clue what gombeenism is but certainly hope it’s sufficient damnation for such groveling. If it isn’t, we leave it our modern Irish rebels to do it in with justice.

“The Donald,” as this nincompoop likes to calll himself, is there to set up a $50 million golf-hotel complex in Doonbeg, County Clare. There goes the neighborhood.

(Photo by YouTube from IrishCentral.com)

The barbaric immigration policies of the European Union

Most people around the world feel cynicism toward their governments; contempt might be more appropriate but that would be too equivocal. What their actions merit is nothing less than hatred for the breathtaking disregard they show toward human life. Hatred is maligned but it’s the very life force of justice. Governments belong to the oligarchs who see working people as mere chattel. Justice holds human beings, of whatever stature in life, as brothers & sisters. Every violation of that trust deserves nothing less than hatred.

So when we read yet another report of undocumented immigrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross to Europe, we take that very personally. The young immigrants in this photo are disembarking from a rescue vessel in Piraeus, Greece after a boat carrying them from North Africa capsized on May 5th. The Greek coast guard said 36 people were rescued & 22 people drowned, including four children. Several are missing & may never be accounted for. What the hell does the coast guard think happened to them? That they miraculously incarnated back on the coast of North Africa? They drowned due to the European Union’s (EU) barbaric immigration policies.

This was the third fatal immigrant boat disaster just this year off the Greek & Turkish coasts, including one in January & one in April. Traumatized survivors speak of the horrors of watching their spouses & children drown. Many children died in the January capsize. But there are just as frequent capsizes & drownings all over the Mediterranean. There was in fact another just yesterday off the coast of Libya where 36 immigrants died.

The Libyan official who addressed the disaster blamed immigrants for the spread of crime, drugs, & disease in his country. (And here we thought it was the corrupt officials.) He blamed the accident on human smugglers, & pledged to continue functioning as a southern flank of EU immigration policy. He couldn’t even be bothered to express condolences to those who had lost beloved family members.

Even a Greek official expressed mock condolences, saying he was “devastated” by the May 5th disaster–though he went on to blame it on “modern-day slave traders” making a killing on immigration. A UN refugee agency issued its usual wimply condolences, saying it was “deeply saddened” by the deaths; it should have denounced EU immigration policies for the unspeakable violations of human rights.

Most of the immigrants in the three disasters off the Greek & Turkish coasts were from Syria, Somalia, Eritrea, & sub-Saharan Africa. In other words, most were coming from war-torn regions & were in fact refugees, not immigrants–in the shabby sense that international law parses these differences among immigrants. Rather than condolences, the UN might consider some criminal actions against the EU & every government complicit in these crimes against immigrants.

And there’s one more matter to be addressed: accounts of the Greek coast guard & immigrant survivors from the January 2014 disaster (that killed so many children) differ on the circumstances of that accident. According to immigrant witnesses, the capsized vessel was being towed by the coast guard at high-speed while people were screaming for help. These are criminal allegations of the most consequential sort, violating so many international laws that the UN’s failure to demand an investigation amounts to collusion. Let’s call a spade a spade!

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders! (We would add, Deport the oligarchs but there isn’t a nation that will take them. They’re worthless & don’t know how to do a damn thing.)

(Photo of immigrants from AFP)

Anti-colonial thinkers and understanding neoliberal predation in Africa

You can’t really figure out what’s going on in the conflict between Sudan & South Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic, et al, from media reports. Without understanding the politics & sectarian differences between militant armed groups ostensibly propelling civil war, without knowing the history of ethnic or religious divisions, without a clear view of the pernicious legacy of colonialism & the insidious meddling of neoliberalism, most of us are lost. And that confusion is entirely intentional. The point of historical & media obscurantism is to make African peoples appear primitive, unable to resolve ancient conflicts peacefully, & renders justification for colonialism & neoliberalism–which are becoming indistinguishable.

Politics are complicated everywhere but not more so in African countries than European ones. Most don’t have the time to investigate, few have reliable sources, & the bonds of international collaboration with African social movements have long-since been severed by repression, ignorance, racism, distrust, & that ugly white savior crap of the Bono & Geldof sort. There are however important anti-colonial thinkers whose writings & lives are of the greatest consequence. Many became known in the 1960s with the tsunami of anti-colonial movements throughout the world–from the Caribbean to North & South America to Africa & Asia. Their time has come again & we need to again study them. To name only a few: Eduardo Galeano, Amilcar Cabral, Walter Rodney, Franz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, Steven Biko, CLR James, Jose Mariategui, Chinua Achebe–& many others & likely new ones.

For many without time for study, it’s only necessary to know where justice stands. They don’t need to know the entire geopolitical history; they just want to know why the conflict is happening & who to support. This is not a defense of anti-intellectualism but an acknowledgement of reality. People want to do the right thing without getting a PhD in colonialism.

Anyone who’s tried to sort through the current war in Central African Republic (CAR) & occupation by French & African Union troops comes up against a wall of scholarly deceits & media obscurantism. So until African writers & activists can unravel most of that for us, let us present what the occupation is really all about. CAR is a region immensely rich in natural resources & neoliberal predators want to get their filthy hands on it. Much of the sectarian conflict is fomented by disreputable & despicable agents of neoliberalism. We don’t have to invent conspiracies; there’s a long colonial history to draw on.

Here children gold miners, whose profound misery is etched in their faces & postures, are sitting just a few days ago next to a gold mine in the village of Gam, CAR, where gold mining is a primary business. When you want to know what that civil war is all about, think neoliberal plunder. And oppose the presence of foreign troops under the guise of stopping genocide.

(Photo by Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

Belgium’s legacy of colonialism lives on

This shifty-eyed cop has every good reason to be suspicious of the camera catching the Brussels constabulary removing a woman & her child from begging in Grand Place, the central square in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium has ratified or acceded to every convention & protocol in international law concerning human rights. On paper the country looks like an international exemplar of justice. But a country doesn’t just walk away from it’s wretched colonial past by signing a few abstract & unenforceable documents. Colonialism requires a thoroughgoing historical & political accounting. Belgium & other countries are unwillling to make that accounting because it will expose their past criminalities & continuing exploitation & treacheries. That’s why finding decent history books on colonialism is so damn hard.

Belgium has been cited repeatedly in the past several years for violating the human rights documents it has ratified. It’s been cited for abuses in the prison system, in particular for prisoners with mental disabilities & refugees, including children refugees; repeatedly for discrimination against Muslims, in the courts & in the public streets; housing discrimination against Travellers; forcible evictions of thousands of Roma; racist practices toward Black citizens. A picture is shaping up here of a country reproducing its colonial relations within its own borders against anyone who isn’t white. Does that explain why Grand Place is called a “white sepulchre” by Marlow, the protagonist in the 1899 novel “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad?

Conrad, the Polish writer, worked for a Belgian colonial enterprise in Africa & well knew the racist depredations of European imperialism in Africa. Regrettably his experiences led him to misanthropic conclusions & his politics grew quite sour. He’s of the same generation as Mark Twain & shares the political problems of Twain, including racism & misanthropy in their senior years. They both lived in the heyday of colonialism & did not look to the colonized peoples as agents of their own emancipation. This is not the place for excuses like “they were products of their own times” since others were cogently analyzing & excoriating imperialism & colonialism.

Chinua Achebe, the great Nigerian writer (most notably of “Things Fall Apart”), delivered a famous critique of “Heart of Darkness” in a 1975 lecture entitled “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Achebe was a thoroughgoing analyst of European colonialism & called Conrad a “thoroughgoing racist.” This offended quite a few & stirred up quite a literary & political controversy–in precisely the same way as criticisms of “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

The pending US intervention into Nigeria requires that historical accounting & puts colonialism, neoliberalism, & racist, xenophobic practices under the glare of exposure. It is important that we listen less to the voices of racist historians & writers & more to the voices of Africa.

No US intervention in Nigeria!

(Photo by Geert Vanden Wijingaert/AP)

Money for war but none for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan

There isn’t a bit of news coming out of Afghanistan that doesn’t damn the US-NATO war. For the past several days, what little there is of war reporting has been shoved aside by news about the landslide in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan that UN officials claim killed 350 people but locals say killed 2,700 people.

It’s reported to be in a remote mountainous area difficult to access by UN rescue operations. But isn’t that always the case with rescue operations? That impassable roads thing has become a cliche. US-NATO can deliver all sorts of milltary equipment & bomb the hell out of a place but they can only stand by helplessly, wringing their bloody hands, & uttering pieties when a catastrophe happens. Obama took time out from war mongering against Russia to say: “I want to say on behalf of the American people that our thoughts are with the people of Afghanistan who have experienced an awful tragedy.” Golly, that’s touching. But what the victims need is food, water, tents, search-&-rescue teams, & US-NATO forces have more than enough resources to deliver them.

One media source called it a paradox that while billions of dollars in foreign aid have poured into Afghanistan, there is none available for the landslide victims. Is paradox what they now call grand larceny? NGOs play a big role in the war business; they get to steal a lot of dough for keeping their traps shut about the crimes & atrocities of war.

To be fair, it must be said that we can understand the squeamishness of UN officials getting aid to Badakhshan province. It’s an impoverished part of the country with no five-star hotels.

US out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq! No US intervention in Nigeria!

(Photo by Massoud Hossaini/AP)

World Economic Forum on Africa 2014: a conspiracy of thieves

War isn’t the best way to learn geography but now, as the US charts a major military intervention into Nigeria, those in the US will finally learn that Africa is a continent, not a country–an immense continent that most of us know nothing about (even those who listen to the BBC). But we are now forced to learn since re-colonizing Africa is the grand neoliberal strategy involving competition between countries for who can loot the most & fastest & with the most ruthless disregard for human life. Many of the countries we live in are involved in this corruption up to their eyeballs & we are all going to have to start a crash course–though we don’t even have to know where Nigeria is on a map to know that US intervention will bring nothing but carnage & disaster to the Nigerian people.

In another case of “you can’t make this crap up,” the World Economic Forum on Africa is now meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, under the theme “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs.” Nine hundred international big wheels are attending, including several African presidents, international bankers, more bankers, investment firms, academics (who like to yodel for their supper), management consulting firms (akin to loan sharks in their moral fiber), & multinationals like General Electric. Let’s be frank; they’re not going there to improve the quality of human life. Those unsavory thugs are the creme de la creme of global plunder.

Articles about the economic forum claim Africa is undergoing an economic renaissance, that half of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world are in Africa, that the economic growth rate for sub-Saharan countries has surpassed much richer countries for more than a decade. According to the panegyrics, there are “dramatic improvements” in education, maternal & child mortality, agricultural development.

Nobody who has trouble balancing a check book wants to wrangle with the richest bankers in the world but something isn’t computing here because it is also reported that health & education indicators are the lowest in the world, that nearly half of all Africans live in extreme poverty & under the World Bank poverty rate of US $1.25 a day. The jubilant bankers don’t even mention the hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans trekking thousands of miles north to Israel & Europe for work. So those economies may look damn good for the bankers & multinational marauders but not for the working people of Africa.

Tottering on the borders of parody, the articles point out that this economic renaissance is due to the new generation of African leaders committed to widespread reform–by which, of course, the bankers mean barbaric austerity programs to maximize profits for the multinationals. We don’t want to presume a knowledge we don’t possess about African politics, but does this new breed of politicians include Goodluck Jonathan from Nigeria, Paul Kagame from Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, or Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe?

There is an omission in the financial panegyrics that stands out like a sore thumb & that is the war in the Congo that has taken millions of lives, employs mass rape as a weapon of war, has caused massive dislocation & millions of refugees, & entails UN occupation. If we want to understand the dystopic vision neoliberalism has in mind for Africa, we only need look at the Congo where the lives of working people are a living hell while multinationals milk the country for all it’s worth in natural abundance.

This wrenching photo is two Congolese refugees taken in 2012 when there were an estimated 280,000 refugees in the eastern part of the country. It’s a shocking image of two war-traumatized children who have become the chattel & the offal of neoliberal barbarism. Keep this image in mind if you’re the least bit inclined to wave one of those damn bring back our girls placards.

(Photo by Jerome Daly/AP)

No US intervention in Nigeria! US out of Afghanistan and Iraq!

Emancipation, US-style: those falling for the bring back our girls campaign & who think US & UK marines & special forces are really going to Nigeria to rescue young girls need to straighten up & fly right. This is the character of US emancipation: a small Afghan boy is trying to learn how to walk with his prosthetic leg at one of the Red Cross facilities in Afghanistan for amputees who lost limbs from land mines or other US-NATO war crimes.

In the rabid hysteria that passes for the drums of war in US media, they’ve enlisted Malala Yousafzai & the Malala Fund, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angelina Jolie (always a shill for US wars), & the creepy Mia Farrow, who has long advocated US intervention in Darfur. The only regrettable one is young Malala; the war machine can have the rest of them.

Using women’s rights to justify war is proving quite a propaganda bonanza. But women have always played a unique role opposing war going back to Lysistrata & the Peloponnesian War. It is time for women to raise their voices loud & clear against intervention in Nigeria because when the US & UK are finished thousands of Nigerian men, women, & children will have paid a horrific price for our credulity.

No US intervention in Nigeria! US out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq!

(Photo by Noorullah Shirzada/AFP)

The betrayal of the Oslo Accords

For anyone holding out high hopes for the new detente between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas) & Hamas, we only need look at the monstrosity of the Oslo Accords brokered between the PLO & Israel. The Accords legitimized Israeli military occupation & divided the West Bank into three administrative zones labeled Areas A, B, & C, depending on the level of Israeli military control.

You can parse that jurisdiction until the cows come home but it all comes down to whether the West Bank is controlled directly by the Israeli military or indirectly using the Palestinian Authority (run by Abbas) as enforcers of Israeli apartheid.

Area C was designated for full Israeli military control which allows massive Zionist settlement expansion, restrictions on Palestinian building (including of residences), & Israeli exploitation of natural resources. Does this differ from outright colonialism in any discernible way?

There are dozens of refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, & Syria established when Zionist terrorist squads drove them from Palestine. Hundreds of thousands of people have been living in them since 1948 since they have no place else to go. Al-Aroub refugee camp near the West Bank city of Hebron is one of those camps where 13,000 Palestinians still live. Parts of the camp are considered within Area C. Construction permits for building or renovation of Palestinian homes are “virtually impossible” to obtain (according to the World Bank), demolition of Palestinian homes are accelerating, & Zionist settlers now outnumber Palestinian residents & occupy 62% of Area C. Israeli politicians are discussing abandoning the shell game of the Oslo Accords & outright annexing Area C.

This Palestinian man is sitting on the rubble of one of two homes in Al-Aroub bulldozed by the Israeli military on April 30th because Israeli officials claim they were built without the required permits. When angry Palestinians converged at the site to prevent the demolitions, Israeli soldiers used tear gas, grenades, & rubber bullets against them. According to Palestinian witnesses, the bulldozers also destroyed olive, grape, & fig trees in the camp & prevented ambulance crews & journalists from accessing the area.

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

(Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Defense case for Israeli conscientious objector

Uriel Ferera May 5 2014

This is the defense case of Uriel Ferera, a young Israeli man jailed & placed in solitary confinement for refusing to serve in the Israeli military because he opposed discrimination against Palestinians within Israel & the occupation of Palestinian lands.

Ferera is a harbinger, part of the advance guard among Israeli youth turning against the fortress of Zionist apartheid. Active solidarity with him is imperative. It serves first to protect him from worse punishment by the Israeli regime & secondly, to strengthen resolve among other Israelis who object to apartheid but are afraid to stand up because of punishment & ostracism. We should never underestimate how terrifying such commitment to justice can be; it proved hard enough for antiwar soldiers in the US Army whilst there was a massive antiwar movement & much more so in a militarized society like Israel with very weak antiwar opposition. Simple acts of solidarity show them they do not stand alone.

This link suggests several easy ways to extend support to Ferera. Please take a moment to send an email voicing your objections to his incarceration, putting the Israeli regime on alert that their conduct toward him is being watched, & expressing your support for this courageous, principled, & admirable young man.

(Photo is of Uriel Ferera from his FB wall)

http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/politics/israeli-sosaciety/8014-act-demand-freedom-for-israeli-co-uriel-ferera

US-NATO war in Afghanistan a war of plunder not women’s liberation

US-Nato forces are on a righteous crusade to rout Islamic misogyny out of Afghanistan by using one fleet to bomb the hell out of the country & another fleet to fly the opium out for processing & distribution. If you see no reason why women’s rights requires drug peddling or mass murder, or how the marines got all mixed up in feminism, you’re not alone & have put your finger on the despicable irrationalities of war propaganda.

Reports coming out of the Pentagon itself expose horrific statistics on rape & sexual assault in the US military beginning in basic training & military academies. Estimates vary between 26,000 to 45,000 on the number of men & women assaulted every year. According to a 2011 Newsweek magazine report (admittedly not the most reliable source), women are more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier or officer than killed in combat.

Now the US Department of Education has released a report that one in five women college students will be sexually assaulted on campus, including at the most prestigious universities in the country.

Will US-NATO forces start bombing universities then or even turn their drones on the Pentagon? Will we hear denunciations of Christian theology which likely dominates most of those schools & certainly the Pentagon? Will they send in the marines to free women from the clutches of such ignominy? Or have we had just enough of this crap?

It’s time for a regeneration of feminism–not one that sucks up to politicians but that is independent & political & hopefully shows up fully clothed so that racism & grandstanding for media do not replace political message. (And yes, I’m taking a jab at FEMEN & Slut Walks!)

US out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq!

(Photo of Afghan women from aljazeera)

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