Post on xenophobia & criminality of Jeanine Pirro hits a sore spot with right-wingers. Tough noogies.

On a post I did about the xenophobia & criminality of Judge Jeanine Pirro, I got hit with an avalanche of right-wingers. Usually I have no problems with a public wall but anti-Muslim sentiment is riding high right now & loudmouths & the deranged apparently identify with it. They seem to communicate only in CAPS & memes.

Why they’re incensed enough to evangelize on my wall beats me. I come from a family of right-wingers & I’ve never understood the psychology. Or is it a pathology? I’ll likely hit the grave before I’ve grasped its inner essence. At least I hope so.

Anyway, I’ve blocked & deleted most of the comments but left a few so we get a look at what we’re up against politically. Muslims in the US don’t stand alone. There are millions of civil libertarians & people of good will who stand with them.

We need always keep in mind that the force which drives social hatred back under its rock is political power which we much mobilize against war, for immigrant & refugee rights, & in defense of the Bill of Rights for all.

Jeanine Pirro opens mouth, talks racist trash. Again.

Jeanine Pirro

Judge Jeanine Pirro is a former TV & county judge & district attorney, now a Fox news commentator. She thinks the title gives her cachet but she blows it every time she opens her big mouth–even when her audience is the likes of fellow xenophobes & Fox commentators Geraldo Rivera & Elizabeth Hasselbeck. The three trash-mouths give Trump & Ben Carson a run for their money.
Yesterday she said “There are jihadists out there… who want to kill all of us because of our way of life… We have to understand that we can no longer be politically correct.” She wants to restrict immigration & “be able to call Muslims terrorists” & inexplicably denounced Obama for standing in the way of this.
It was almost exactly a year ago that Pirro made news for her comments when a Staten Island cop using excessive force was not indicted for killing Eric Garner by holding him in a chokehold (in July 2014). On her TV show, Pirro defended the excessive force saying the public needs to be trained to show more sensitivity & obedience to cops. Curious advice from Pirro because she & her gangster ex-husband rose to high social status in New York by flouting tax, real estate, election, & criminal laws.
She’s a social climber from Westchester County (north of NYC), married for nearly 40 years to Albert Pirro (divorced in 2013), a hustler & once Westchester’s most influential real-estate lawyer who made his fortune working as the legal muscle for real estate developers, including some with mob connections. Donald Trump kept him on retainer for development projects & politicians like Governor Goerge Pataki used him to rake in clients’ money for campaign donations.
In 2000, Albert got bagged for 66 counts of federal tax evasion & fraud on their personal wealth, including stashing over $1 million from the IRS. He was never prosecuted for his mob connections or for buying her elective offices in Westchester because of his fundraising skills & because they invited all the highest officials in the state, including the governor, to their mansion for parties. She was never prosecuted for sharing in the income tax fraud but was investigated for illegal wire tapping Albert for two-timing her. That milieu is where Pirro got her sensitivity training.
After his release from prison, Albert had more run-ins with the law including fisticuffs against restaurant staff & girl friends–people he considers his inferiors. He was prosecuted for disorderly conduct & unlawful restraint after roughing up his girl friend & not allowing her to leave a restaurant.
Some call it irony that Pirro, a tough-talking former judge & three-term district attorney who wrote a book titled “To Punish & Protect: One DA’s Fight Against a System that Coddles Criminals” would herself be living on the edge of crime. That’s where those mob connections & friends in high places came in handy–& the fact that she’s so practiced in the art of kissing ass.
Pirro once made People magazine’s Most Beautiful People List. That’s better than having her mug shot on the walls of the post office. If there’s one thing she’s good at, it’s feathering her own nest, kissing ass to those she considers superior, & a nasty racism, including toward people of the same political genre like Barack Obama.
She once ran for US Senate as a Republican against Hillary Clinton & lost. The only difference between them is the color of lipstick. Voters must have thought her more corrupt than Clinton. And wow, is that a damnation.
(Photo is Jeanine Pirro)

Media obscurantism & the struggle against Indian occupation of Kashmir

Kashmir protest 12:4:15  (EPA:FAROOQ KHAN) Dec 5 2015

There appears to be a slight change in media editorial policy where the struggle in Kashmir actually gets mentioned occasionally–though there was some coverage of the massive floods last year, the possible regeneration of the country as a tourist destination, & beef smuggling since India banned eating beef–ostensibly because cows are sacred to Hindus but really as a way to impose restrictions on & persecute Muslims & other religions who do eat beef. (This post is not about the merits of vegetarianism but about democratic rights.)

The problem is that just like media coverage of the conflict between Israel & Palestinians, every attempt is made to confuse or keep people stupid about the source of conflict between Kashmiris & the Indian government. It wouldn’t be exaggeration to say it’s rendered obscurantist to make Muslims appear irrational & belligerent–an image that feeds the neoliberal gestalt of Islamophobia running rampant since 9/11.

An example would be the caption to this photo about protests yesterday in Srinagar, Kashmir. It read “Kashmiri Muslim protesters shout slogans amid exploding smoke canisters fired by the Indian security forces during a protest in downtown of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, December 4, 2015. Police fired dozens of tear gas canisters & rubber bullets to disperse protesters staging a demonstration after Friday prayers outside Kashmir’s main Mosque, Jamia Masjid, against the Indian government.”

So based on this caption, with no accompanying articles, are we to believe the cause has something to do with religion? It was after all Muslims protesting after prayers outside a mosque. Or does it have to do with what is unstated here but should be a necessary part of any explanation–i.e., the brutal occupation by 700,000 Indian troops & thuggish paramilitary forces who engage in violence against stone-throwing youth, summarily execute activists, disappear, rape, torture, incarcerate, & murder thousands?

India now apparently has a troubling arrangement with FB–just like Israel is suing FB so it will censor the truth of Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. India also closes down the internet in Kashmir so the truth of their occupation cannot be exposed before the world. This makes clear that the democratic rights of free speech & association are jeopardized for all of us when the oppressed stand up & defy tyranny. That is why their struggle is our struggle.

Our fullest solidarity with their struggle to end the occupation & achieve self-determination.

Free Kashmir.

(Photo by Farooq Khan/EPA)

Refugee families being prevented from moving past Greece to northern Europe

Iranian child refugee on Mac:Grk border (AP Photo:Petros Giannakouris)  Dec 5 2015

We’re led to believe that refugees from Pakistan, Iran, Morocco & other places in north Africa, who are being stopped at the Macedonia/Greece border & prevented from moving north are mostly young men. Not that this should make a shred of difference to their rights of asylum, because historically immigration has always had such gender imbalances–for the obvious reason that it’s dangerous for women to travel anywhere in this world unarmed or without male protection.

One exception to this was the large numbers of unaccompanied Irish women & girl immigrants traveling to the US at the turn of the 20th century. Another one is the massive numbers of young Central American women with children now crossing the US/Mexico border to find asylum.

In fact there are many women & children among those refugees being prevented from moving north from Greece & now living in extremely dangerous conditions. It’s winter, it’s raining, they have no shelter, food, healthcare. One young Moroccan man was electrocuted to death trying to mount a train carriage & there was no place to put his body or bury him with respect.

This will not change until an international solidarity movement is built demanding international refugee & immigrant law be applied & asylum be granted for whatever reason–political or economic.

This little girl is an Iranian child warming near a fire as she waits with others not allowed to cross the border–many who are protesting their debarment.

Immigration is a human right. Open the borders. It’s an issue of child welfare.

(Photo by Petros Giannakouris/AP)

Rush to judgement in San Bernardino? Or another big fat lie?

Twenty-four hours ago the FBI said they had no clue what motivated the San Bernardino shootings & it would be a lengthy process to comb through social media & other evidence to learn. Now, on the basis of a single pro-ISIS posting on Facebook by the woman shooter, they’re zeroing in on terrorism as the motive. Is that the scientific method?

Anybody else get the impression that a narrative is being constructed to fit a purpose? Because when the FBI has investigated crimes like the murder of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, & other victims in the Black community, it took months & sometimes years. Is this not a rush to judgement but rather a deception? Because to be persuasive it will take a lot more than a Facebook post.

The hagiography of Mother Teresa, the saint of neoliberal plunder

Mother Teresa Indian stamp

Disappointing to see my favorite actress Juliet Stevenson playing Mother Teresa in a biopic film likely to be hagiography. It may seem blasphemous to not hold Mother Teresa in high esteem but nobody holy who stands next to dictators with their hands in a prayerful pose is believable. Nor certainly holy.

There’s plenty of scholarship now about Mother Teresa, including the derivative (if not outright plagiarized) book by Christopher Hitchens called “The Missionary Position.” She’s an icon, not of service to the poor nor certainly of opposing inequality, but of ennobling suffering–as if poverty was a punishment for some presumed mortal offenses under the rubrics of Catholicism. She was also a fraud who served the poor in deplorable conditions & never made an accounting of millions of dollars donated for her work.

Her image as a saint is the triumph of public relations over reality. Because if there’s one thing our little saint was good at, it was covering for neoliberal predation by making the suffering it created look like it was good for the poor & a gateway to heaven.

(Photo is Indian stamp with image of Mother Teresa.)

The media campaign to legitimize sweatshop economics & child labor

Bangladesh child garment worker (Picture- Claudio Montesano Casillas:REX) Dec 2 2015

Sweatshop economics are central to neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. Multinational corporations save not billions, but trillions getting workers to produce goods for chump change & selling them for big bucks. A blouse made by a sweatshop worker overseas for one US buck can sell for $350 in an upscale US shop–making a chump out of the consumer as well.

Of course, while the garment industry is dominated by sweatshops, that isn’t the only product they produce. Everything from toys to underwear to shoes to high-tech electronics & machine parts come out of them. At Christmas time, “Santa’s little helper” is a child worker in a sweatshop.

A sweatshop by its very definition is a workshop with low unfair wages, long unreasonable hours, dangerous working conditions, & absolutely no labor rights. Female & child labor are central to the system. That’s precisely what makes them so appealing to modern capitalists & why they’re spreading like a virus all over the planet.

After the Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013 & growing political organization among garment workers, the sweatshop economy had a problem on its hands. A public relations problem. The sweatshop economy includes retailers, sweatshop owners, US, European, Japanese, & other governments that broker free trade agreements with governments like Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, China, Haiti, & umpteen other nations.

Media is now on a criminal campaign to salvage the image of sweatshops by reconstructing reality with big fat lies. We’re used to that from hacks like Nicholas Kristof & Paul Krugman from the NY Times who cover their treachery with sentimental crap about women’s rights. Using women’s rights to promote war, sweatshop economics, prostitution, child labor is the way of the world under neoliberal capitalism.

This week many media sources are touting the photojournalist album of Claudio Montesano Casillas covering what they call the “informal garment sector.” Casillas postures himself as a naif who happened across unregulated & unregistered garment factories in Bangladesh & documented them to evoke outrage.

He says there are an estimated 7,000 informal factories in Bangladesh–although how the hell he knows that is not explained. If he got the figure from the Bangladeshi government, that means they know these hellholes exist. Casillas says–& media repeats with a straight face–that working conditions in the informal export-oriented factories are much worse than formal export-oriented factories. They’re more dangerous, lower paid, require longer hours, & have more kids working in them. But the conditions he chronicles are identical to those in allegedly regulated factories.

To make the case, they quote the Bangladeshi inspector general of factories who claims 80 percent of Bangladesh’s garment factories which supply global retailers have been inspected & found to be safe “though he acknowledged that many needed work on fire safety & electrical systems.” Sometimes you want to cry when you realize how stupid they think we are.

Bangladesh is making a killing on sweatshop economics & child labor. The number of billionaires has tripled in the past few years. Conditions of labor, including for children, in brick factories, shipyards, tanneries, & other industries is an international horror showcasing the consequences of sweatshop economics. You don’t drag Bangladeshi government officials out to make sweatshops look good anymore than you drag out a Pentagon general to talk peace.

Sweatshops are a scourge for women & children. The organization of working people into labor organizations to advance their interests is a primary task around this world–& one which young people should consider committing their lives to.

This little guy is a garment worker in a blue jeans factory–one of the ‘unregulated looks just like the regulated’ kind.

(Photo by Claudio Montesano Casillas)

Thirty-first anniversary of Bhopal gas leak catastrophe & still no justice

Bhopal children (Sanjeev Gupta:EPA) Dec 3 2015

It’s been 31 years since the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India leaked toxic gas into the city, killing an estimated 25,000, injuring half a million, & contaminating the environment & water supply. The leak, which went on from December 2nd to 3rd, 1984, was caused by neglect of safety systems to save money & is still considered one of the world’s worst industrial accidents.

US-based Dow Chemical is now the owner of Union Carbide. Those who are veterans of the anti-Vietnam War movement remember Dow as the producer of napalm & Agent Orange–both used in the war. Napalm is an incendiary weapon used to burn people to death after excruciating pain. Agent Orange is a defoliate containing dioxin that caused at least 24 different health symptoms & death among veterans & their offspring–& continuing catastrophic health problems for the people of Vietnam. At the time it was used by the Pentagon in Vietnam, it was banned in several countries; Dow knew full well of the toxic properties of dioxin. That’s the kind of pathology the people of Bhopal are up against.

In June 2010, an Indian court indicted seven former managers at Union Carbide for negligence, sentenced them to two years in jail & a fine of $2,100. Despite the political work of Bhopal & environmental activists & public outrage in India, the Supreme Court there upheld corporate impunity & turned down an appeal for harsher sentences. Two years later, a US court absolved Dow of all liability in the Bhopal disaster which means they are not liable for remediation or pollution-related claims.

Local water sources remain contaminated with several toxic & corrosive chemicals, including lead, mercury, benzenes, & DDT. In 2012, the Indian Supreme Court ordered the Bhopal municipality to provide clean water to families for cooking, laundry, bathing. The source of water provided is not identified but the color is red, making it of questionable quality–especially for a population already adversely affected by the Union Carbide gas leak.

This photo is mothers with their children born with congenital disabilities waiting for treatment at a clinic for gas victims. The unaddressed environmental catastrophe means a second & soon a third generation of children suffering chemically-induced illness & neurological disabilities. The full weight for their care falls on families. They’re little human beings, cherished as all other children, & as we learn from disability rights, perfect just the way they are, but caring for a child with disability is an immense challenge families should not have to sustain without help.

Bhopal is an ongoing crime. Though justice has been flouted with contempt, the demand has not yet been silenced. There’s enough criminality involved here to sink a continent. Our fullest solidarity with the people of Bhopal in their struggle to bring Dow to justice.

(Photo by Sanjeev Gupta/EPA)

No place to run in U.S. from mass shootings

The nightly news is giving advice on what to do if you get caught in a mass shootout. Oh mamma mia! How did life in the US come to this? The worst thing is, there’s no place to run for asylum since the US & its allies are bombing up the rest of the planet.

Just so you know, the advice is run, hide, or fight. The alternatives are join a monastery or rebuild the antiwar movement.

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