Palestinian solidarity making history

Vancouver rally August 27 2014

In 51 days of bombardment over Gaza, Israel dropped 20,000 tonnes of explosives. It displaced over 485,000 people, destroyed 16,000 homes & several apartment buildings, 21 hospitals, 167 schools, 108 mosques, 5 universities, 8 water & waste plants, & a power plant. It did a lot of damage.

On the other hand, over one million people were in the streets in dozens of countries & hundreds of cities & small towns demanding “Stop the slaughter in Gaza!” They weren’t just Palestinians & they weren’t just Muslims–though both groups played central roles in organizing political solidarity–but every nationality & religion under the sun.

Zionists continue to berate Palestinian solidarity for not focusing on Syria (as if they gave a rat’s ass about any place other than Israel); others are bewildered by the groundswell for Palestinians when there has been no mass response to Syria or for that matter to Afghanistan, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Somalia, or any of the many conflicts. It’s important to assess why Palestinians have evoked such massive solidarity, especially since they stood alone for over 66 years. But to attempt in any way to challenge the importance of the Palestinian struggle or to suggest it is hogging all the attention from more important struggles or to compare body counts to rate importance is unworthy of any respect whatsoever. It means something when you find your views in accord with Zionists (& what it means ain’t that swell) but it is colossal hubris to challenge or second guess why a million people rise up to stand with justice.

No one wants to let history pass them by. These protesters in Vancouver, BC, Canada are making history by the simple act of standing up for Palestinian justice. When they’re old & gray they will look back & say proudly they were there when one of the most important struggles of our era began to get it’s due. And when there is a democratic secular state where Jews & Palestinians live in harmony, they will know their contribution to human civilization was monumental.

(Photo by Roger Pimenta)

Neoliberal waste management

India; neoliberal waste management August 27 2014

No this is not Gaza; right now, it’s hard to tell the difference but this is neoliberal waste management. This particular mountain of garbage, feces, rotting food, & unmentionables is in Gauhati, India. But since IMF austerity programs mandate privatization of waste disposal, such mounds can be found in most countries; those where they’re not found, transport landfill to one of the plundered countries or dump it in places like Somalian fishing waters. In the US, they pay to dump it on Indian reservations. Get the picture?

Unemployed working people comb through this toxic mash looking for recyclables to re-sell & along the way contact numerous respiratory, skin, & infectious diseases. Tons of this rubbish are petroleum products including plastics & styrofoam which have carcinogenic properties.

We aren’t told anything about this little fellow but we know he isn’t likely to have a long life. We don’t know what talents he has, what contributions he could make to music or literature or science. He’s not even taught to look at life that way since survival is the first commandment. Dreams belong to others.

But we have a dream for him–that he will get a nose full of the stench of neoliberal predation & become part, maybe even lead, that international movement that will challenge this entire way of operating our beautiful planet, that he will help make it a place where children grow up with dreams as their due. Many think that is all just romanticism, but who knows? If we don’t try, we already know it’s all downhill from here. If we give it our best shot, the children of tomorrow may live neither in utopia nor dystopia but in a world suitable for human life, where peace & justice reign.

(Photo by Anupam Nath/AP)

Betty Windsor hasn’t croaked

Betty August 27 2014

How distressing to read today that Betty Windsor had croaked & that the “R.I.P. Queen Elizabeth II” FB page got nearly one million new ‘likes’. The question came to mind: were the million new fans lauding the news or expressing condolences? So it was heartening to know hundreds of royalists & their retinues of servants lined up to write messages expressing their sadness to Phil the Flatulent & the regrettable Windsor progeny. The Twittersphere was also understandably frenzied at the news so there were condolences galore.

Now we hear the whole thing is a bloody internet hoax & Betty is in her usual box at the horse track with Cammy. When she was informed of this joke at her expense, she handled it all with grace & simply ordered £8 million be deducted from education funds & transferred to her personal account. No unseemly beheadings were involved as was wont with her ancestors.

Well now if that’s a hoax, does that mean the tabloid story that KKKKaty & Betty are at war might also be a prank? And is it also false that Cammy & Chuckles are having a baby? If the tabloids keep this pranking up they’re going to become as preposterous as Israeli war propaganda where you lose all credibility. It’s a slippery slope.

Neoliberal healthcare in Liberia

Liberia Ebola epidemic August 27 2014

This is neoliberal healthcare in Liberia, a country in West Africa homesteaded by former US slaves in hopes of creating a better world. But when the elite eventually hitched their fortunes to US militarism & neoliberalism (the barbaric phase of capitalism) they entered the twilight zone & this is the catastrophic result for working people.

This man dropped dead in the street–likely from the Ebola epidemic raging in the country. Could a society render a man more indignity because, as we can see from people standing around, there is a stench to death? And because they’re afraid of contacting Ebola, he is forced to die not just with indignity but alone & untended.

Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a Harvard-educated banker who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women & for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Well bully for her! Just like Obama of a dozen wars won the damn thing. Sirleaf calls herself the “Iron Lady” for making the hard decisions–like allying with US foreign policy; incarcerating a journalist who reported on government corruption; opening Liberia to foreign corporate investment, bribery, & back-room deals (in particular oil companies to develop Liberia’s oil reserves); flagrant nepotism in appointing family members to key positions in government & the plunder operations; allowing 8,000 UN “peacekeeping” troops in Liberia (since 2003).

“Foreign investment” (i.e., neoliberal plunder) has continued to grow since Sirleaf took over in 2006. In that time the US has contributed over $16 billion in “bilateral assistance” (i.e., weaponry & bribery) to Liberia. Sirleaf claimed in an interview that this economic growth included expanding education & healthcare institutions as well as infrastructure like roads & power. How does she explain this man dying in the unpaved street? How does she bullshit around the complete lack of medical facilities in West Point, the slum epicenter of Ebola in the capital city of Monrovia? Is it possible “trickle-down economics” don’t work any better in Liberia than they do in the US–or even worse?

“Give us four more years & the results of all of this growth will be felt,” Sirleaf told an interviewer in October 2013. It took less than a year for the Ebola epidemic to expose the utter political bankruptcy of dancing with the devil of neoliberal predation & of placing private fortune over fundamental human needs like education & healthcare. But all this comes as no surprise to the working people of Liberia who consider their country the most corrupt on Earth & who have every compelling reason in the world not to trust their government’s methods of dealing with the Ebola epidemic.

When you look at the nexus between the Liberian & US governments, then the economic, political, & social nexus between Liberian & US working people becomes entirely evident & international solidarity absolutely essential. American working people bankroll tyranny & it’s high time we got off our asses to oppose it.

May our brother, whose name is not given, RIP.

(Photo by Abbas Dulleh/AP)

Still no news from Ban Ki-moon about war crimes in Gaza

Gaza; Israeli bombing August 26 2014

These people in the street must have gotten their automatic telephone call from the Israeli military telling them to evacuate so Israel could blow up their houses. Actually what Israel is bombing here is the refugee camp in Rafah. Of course as we know from umpteen numbers of other photos, these people in the street are sitting ducks for those bombers. And still there isn’t a peep out of the UN & all those human rights NGOs about war crimes. Is it possible their silence is consent to genocide?

We wonder if the psychos in the hills of Sderot are still there cheering on ethnic cleansing since there aren’t any recent photos. Perhaps the hasbara factory finally smartened up & told them to scram since it doesn’t look good to claim you’re cowering from Hamas rockets if you’re sitting right in the line of fire & making an international spectacle of yourself–& a shameful one at that.

(Photo by Hatem Ali/AP)

August 26, 1970 and the birth of U.S. feminism

August 26 1970

The women’s movement of the 1970s has taken quite a beating by people who draw their history from media & others who want to vilify feminism. Feminism erupted in the late 1960s from every niche of society; women from the Civil Rights Movement, from religious groups, students, working women, Black & Latino women, lesbians. Betty Friedan is attributed with starting the movement with her book “The Feminine Mystique” but many activists had never read her boring book which dealt with white middle class, well-educated women. Feminism was a much broader & deeper social rebellion than her book envisioned.

The movement is misrepresented as white & middle-class, racist, lesbians & spinsters, blue-nosed. That’s not history; that’s how media always portrayed the movement to deter women from identifying with feminism–which is a volatile force for social transformation. Media depiction of feminism is a punk caricature & regrettably the slanders have not been sufficiently countered by feminists of that era.

Feminism & the Vietnam War were my first political awakenings & both began to matter to me when I was a novice in a convent in the early 1960s. My brother was a soldier in the war & I was not allowed to read about it. Here I was a student of history & not allowed to be part of my own times. What rankled me most was the unequal treatment of men & women in the Catholic Church. While we were kept encaged & infantalized, the priests were out gallivanting without the constant supervision we were subjected to. So I made my break & within a year was involved in the antiwar movement. There was no women’s movement yet so I read Catholic writers who identified with the new ideas of feminism; I’d actually never heard of Betty Friedan. When the women’s movement began to emerge, I headed for New York City to be part of it.

I arrived in time to build the first women’s liberation march of August 26, 1970. The demands of that march were: Equal pay; childcare; abortion rights & no forced sterilization. No forced sterilization was essential to distinguish feminism from the eugenics groups who wanted abortion rights for license to control the population of black & brown women. It was a major issue for Black, Latino, & Native American women who were routinely sterilized without their knowledge or consent. At the time, it was reported 30% of the women of Puerto Rico were force sterilized. It remains a problem in population control programs.

It was my personal & political history & I am writing a series of essays to correct the historical record about this magnificent movement which was only on the stage of history briefly before it was derailed into the Democratic Party.

I certainly wasn’t the star of the show but I played a small part by organizing the publicity for the march. One of our jobs was to go out every night with march posters & plastering brushes hidden in pizza boxes to wallpaper the city. We got hauled in by the cops a couple times; we got arrested postering the Playboy Club in Manhattan.

I accidentally came across this audio thingamajig on the internet of me giving a report on the plastering & answering an interviewer. You can see I was still fumbling my way through an understanding of women’s oppression. I’m not a boastful soul but am very proud of my participation in the women’s movement & met some wonderful women. I continued activism primarily around abortion rights on the campus of NYU where I worked as a secretary.

Photo is August 26 1970 Women’s March for Equality down Fifth Avenue in NYC on the 50th anniversary of the 19th Amendment in the US Bill of Rights which gave women the right to vote.

(Photo by John Olsen)


Humans of Nairobi, Kenya

HONY August 26 2014

One of the loveliest things about the “Humans of New York” album is that it captures in a pithy way what it is about people that is so endearing. On days when “the world is too much with us”, it’s a good album to peruse to get your groove back on.

Many images, like this one, don’t appear to be actually taken in New York since the city slums aren’t shanties–so it’s not clear if this was taken in Nairobi, Kenya or if the kids are from there.

“When they don’t think I’m watching, they do the funniest things. They are always dancing together. I found them in the kitchen yesterday, pretending to cook.”

“What’s your greatest worry as a parent?”

“Their health. They’re always getting sick from the cold and the dust. Sometimes the dust gets so bad, they lose their voices.”

(Nairobi, Kenya)

“Oh rascal children of Gaza”

Oh rascal children of Gaza August 25 2014
“Oh rascal children of Gaza. You who constantly disturbed me with your screams under my window. You who filled every morning with rush and chaos. You who broke my vase and stole the lonely flower on my balcony. Come back, and scream as you want and break all the vases. Steal all the flowers. Come back..Just come back..”

Khaled Juma, a Palestinian poet from Rafah, Gaza wrote this poignant tribute to the now over 500 children of Gaza killed by Israeli bombing; Sixteen Minutes to Gaza illustrated his poem with photos:

RIP Michael Brown

Michael Brown August 25 2014

Michael Brown, the 18-year-old murdered by a cop on August 9th, is being laid to rest today. Our deepest sympathies to his family. May he RIP.

Justice however isn’t even close to being addressed & won’t be unless massive political pressure continues to support the Black community in Ferguson. The Missouri National Guard was withdrawn after the governor claimed the situation was “greatly improved with fewer incidents of outside agitators interfering with peaceful protesters & fewer acts of violence.” The governor claims the National Guard restored order but didn’t admit the unrest was set off by the murder of an unarmed young man & police assaults on the Bill of Rights.

US Attorney General Eric “Hapless” Holder has ordered a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting & a grand jury is hearing the case against the killer cop. Since Holder is still investigating the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, no one should hold out much hope for justice from those quarters. Holder said, “It’s going to take time for us to develop all the facts, develop all the evidence & see where the case will ultimately go.” Quite a contrast to how expeditious they can be when they’re going after alleged terrorists. They had 9/11 all wrapped up in a week.

As for those “outside agitators”, we have every right under the Bill of Rights to travel to Ferguson, Missouri to express our solidarity with the Black community. And we sincerely hope (Reverend, my ass!) Al Sharpton does not derail this important civil rights & Black power struggle into prayer meetings & the next election for a “lesser evil”. There’s no objection to praying except when it’s used to replace justice.

(Photo is Michael Brown)

Media lies & the child death toll from Operation Ethnic Cleansing in Gaza

Gaza Al-Zafer bombing August 25 2014

After a while trying to suss out facts from media reports, you catch on that most news is canned & there is little on-the-spot investigation & you only wish that could explain the idiocies of reporting from Gaza. At what point will media around the world admit that news coverage coming out of Gaza about Israeli genocide is simply nuts & that the go-to source for information is the Israeli military?

This weekend Israeli bombers went on a rampage in Gaza City & Rafah. They took out a two-story shopping mall & a seven-story office building in Rafah & a twelve-story apartment complex in Gaza City. The military claims they warned apartment residents by automated phone calls that it was targeting buildings “harboring terrorist infrastructure”–so if you live in Gaza you better make damn sure you don’t go to the toilet & leave your phone in the kitchen.

Media claims targeting tall buildings signals a new escalation in the seven weeks of Operation Ethnic Cleansing & a new military tactic by Israel. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry at such a statement. For seven weeks we have seen one photo after another of several-story apartment buildings & other facilities taken out by Israeli bombs–hundreds of photos & dozens of news accounts reporting that Israeli bombers repeatedly strike apartment complexes to make sure there isn’t a soul left standing. This is not a new military tactic but the continued policy of ethnic cleansing.

The Israeli military justified the bombing of apartment complexes by claiming they housed “Hamas operational centers” or that Hamas held meetings in them or that military activities were launched out of them because it’s just too stupid to claim they’re going after tunnels in a twelve-story building. But quite frankly Israel can claim any baloney it likes because media will echo it even when it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.

Last Friday, a 4-year-old Israeli boy named Daniel Tregerman was killed, allegedly by Hamas fire. May the little guy RIP since he has no responsibility whatsoever for the crimes of Israel. He lived on a kibbutz right on the Gaza border near the infamous town of Sderot, where residents perched for weeks cheering on ethnic cleansing in Gaza. We say allegedly by Hamas fire since proximity to massive Israeli bombing in Gaza means it could be a misfired Israeli missile. We need to see some evidence.

There are hundreds of media stories about little Daniel; Zionists around the world are inflamed with outrage. Yet when over 469 children & infants in Gaza were bombed to death (& the death toll continues to climb), Zionists not only claimed in the most shameful & racist way that Palestinians use their children for human shields but they sat in lawn chairs & cheered it on. A few weeks ago Lionel Messi, an Argentine soccer star, posted a photo of an injured Palestinian child on his FB page, expressing his anger at the deaths of children & now Zionists are barraging him with demands to acknowledge the death of Daniel. They don’t give a rat’s ass about Daniel; they’re using his death to justify ethnic cleansing in Gaza.

We express our condolences to the family of Daniel Tregerman. On Sunday, 18-month-old Zainah Abu Taqiya was killed in one of those apartment buildings in Gaza. We express our condolences to her family also & recognize the deaths of both children & all the other Palestinian children & adults are war crimes that Israel should be indicted for in an international tribunal.

Pay tribute to all those killed in Operation Ethnic Cleansing by continuing to rally, educate, & evangelize for the boycott of all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729). Demand that Israel stop the massacre & end the blockade in Gaza.

This photo is the rubble of the 12-story Al-Zafer apartment complex in Gaza City bombed on Saturday. Media repeats Israeli military claims that it was a Hamas command center.

(Photo by Khalil Hamra/AP)

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)