Emancipation US-style in Afghanistan

Emancipation US-style: a woman begging in the flooded streets of Kabul, Afghanistan. One stands in awe before the impotent banalities of US war propaganda–but here again, a picture is worth a thousand lies.

Will the Pentagon & right-wing feminists blame this too on the Taliban? Because the Taliban don’t run Afghanistan; US-NATO forces do.

US-NATO out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq!

(Photo by Rahmat Gul/AP)

Capitalism has a way of messing up the nicest holidays

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a cultural holiday for the Irish & a religious feast day for most Christians. In the US, it has lost any religious meaning & is mostly celebrated by politicians & alcoholics claiming to be Irish. This year it is also Holi, a Hindu religious festival celebrating the victory of good over evil & the arrival of spring (similar to Easter in the Christian tradition). The distinctive thing about Holi is its free-for-all use of colored powders which are strewn all over families & strangers, friends & foe. Because of its joyous character & due to the Indian diaspora, it is now popularly celebrated in many countries.

Traditionally, the vibrant colored powders were plant-based, including herbs, berries, flowers, leaves, trees, & had medicinal purpose in Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric, neem, sandalwood, gooseberries, chick peas, grapes, hibiscus, marigolds, pomegranate, beetroot, saffron were all mixed with flours & pastes to make up the powders & provide some medicinal charms along with the frolics & celebration of love.

Today, the natural ingredients have been replaced by chemically produced industrial dyes & minerals not only lacking medicinal purposes but causing many health problems from inhalation, ingestion, & skin contact. Reportedly, many celebrants wear nose masks & sun glasses to avoid inhaling pigments or exposing their eyes to chemical injury. One of the chief ingredients of the synthetic powders is called gulal which contains small crystals of mica to give a sparkling effect.

Mica is a mineral with thousands of industrial uses, including in the mineral makeups sold at a hefty price. The Dr. Oz Show has actually warned women about potential health hazards from repeated use of mineral makeup. Construction workers who work with mica products wear masks to prevent inhalation. Mica has been used for a few thousand years so it’s remarkable how little modern science has evaluated its toxic properties. The Center for Disease Control in the US claims to know almost nothing about it but the US Occupational Safety & Health Administration (no vanguard on toxic work conditions for workers) reports that respiratory illness, anemia, & weight loss are associated with inhalation. The mica Material Safety Data Sheet (the MSDS is provided by manufacturers & includes only the most damning side effects) says mica is hazardous in cases of ingestion, inhalation, skin & eye contact.

So why the hell would mica be included in ingredients for Holi celebrations which include children, elderly, & those with health issues!? And why is this young Indian worker sifting gulal powder at a factory near Siliguri not provided protective equipment–most importantly a respirator, safety goggles, & skin protection!? Such reckless endangerment of the health & lives of working people has become the norm & unions have done damn little to address it. Safety is a primary issue for working people. They need unions that will fight for them, not just rake in dues money to feed ungrateful politicians & enrich labor fat cats.

(Photo by Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

Immigration rights protests target Obama for not delivering on campaign promises

This immigration rights protest outside the White House doesn’t look like the most spirited protest but it’s colder than hell in Washington, DC & the immigration rights movement is one the most active social movements in a quite somnolent period in US politics.

After raking in the Latino vote by promising immigration reform, Obama remained true to form for the Democratic Party & continued militarizing the US-Mexican border; accelerated the massive deportation of undocumented workers (including separating children from their parents & dumping thousands of kids in the barbaric foster care system); & refusing to give amnesty to immigrants who had come here as children with & without their parents. He pulled a fast one on the latter, offering them a deferment after he got their names & addresses so immigration authorities know where to pick them up when the deferment ends.

Ever the bullshit artist & annoyed that immigration rights activists would embarrass him by demanding he deliver on his campaign promises, Obama tried to dump the blame on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which now governs immigration. Actually the DHS was appointed by Bush when that bozo was president & is a cabinet position so it’s likely the president continues to call the shots on DHS & immigration policy. Obama also tried to blame the Republicans which is a part of the two-party shell game as old as the republic itself. Boy it’s tiresome!

Immigration is a human right. Our hats off to these activists standing in the freezing cold last Wednesday to demand their human & democratic rights & for showing the rest of US working people what it takes to win justice.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Don’t let the barbarisms get you down!

There are lots of ugly, cruel things going on in this world & if we’re not careful we can grow cynical & misanthropic. Misanthropy is often blamed on old age, as if aging made you dumber, when in theory it ought to make you wiser. But sometimes the barbarisms just wear you out.

That’s why it’s good to keep your eyes on children (rebellious teenagers might not be the most inspiring focus–unless you love their antics). Kids will keep you grounded in reality. More importantly, they’ll keep you inspired & motivated to change things since it is so not right to raise them in a world unsuited for them to live & love in.

This sweet girl is from Q’ero, Peru. Keep her beautiful little face in mind next time you’re tempted to give up on the human race.

(Photo by Kazuyoshi Nomachi)

Long live Palestinian intifada!

This photo is another example of how the media doesn’t always completely lie about Palestinians & Israel but it never tells the truth. The caption to this photo read: “A Palestinian teenager kneels during Friday prayers as Israeli riot police block off a street in East Jerusalem.”

With such sketchy information, one might be led to think the riot cops are there to deter crime or rioting. In fact, as part of Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem to expropriate it from Palestinians & as part of its on-going campaign to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, Israel has banned all males under 50-years-old from observing Friday prayers. Hundreds of Palestinian boys & men are forced to pray kneeling on the public streets.

So this young guy is not only exercising religious freedom; this is a courageous act of political defiance. Protestors around the world who have faced phalanxes of riot cops know just how courageous this is since at any moment this young man could be beaten to a pulp.

Long live Palestinian intifada! No military aid to Israel! Support the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement against Israel!

(Photo by Tali Mayer/EPA)

Emancipation US-style in Afghanistan

Emancipation US-style: Now here we can see so clearly the failure of US-NATO marines at liberating Afghan women. And we are not referring to their attire but to the fact that they are begging in the streets of Kandahar in order to feed their families.

We don’t fault US-NATO soldiers for failing to achieve women’s liberation; they were never set up to be a salvation army. They were sent in to Afghanistan to occupy, destroy, kill, control–& that they’ve done very well.

US-NATO out of Afghanistan! US out of Iraq!

(Photo by Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

Music, not war chants!

And beside all the compelling political reasons why immigration is a human right, there are the cultural ones that make it so desirable. In a world chock full of global communication, we still don’t know much about each other or about our different cultures–especially the vibrancy of poetry & music & art.

Many first heard the Peruvian flute from immigrant musicians playing for change in subways or on street corners. Once you’ve heard it’s vibrant & sometimes haunting sounds, you will find it unforgettable. Why should the global predators be allowed to deny us these treasures? It’s for certain once we’ve heard their music, we’re less willing to take up arms against others or consider them barbarians.

Colonial powers have turned much of culture into propaganda, especially film. But this kind of culture doesn’t serve colonialism at all; it only serves human solidarity. We are meant to be brothers & sisters singing our own songs to each other–not shouting war chants.

This musician is in Q’ero, Peru.

(Photo by Kazuyoshi Nomachi)

Homeless in the US

Homeless in Sonoma County, California, USA: This is a peculiar face of homelessness in the US. Several decades ago, auto manufacturers racketeered against public transportation to shut it down so in most cities a car is an absolute essential for survival. Even the poorest working families have to own one just to get to work or get groceries.

So when working people go homeless because they can’t afford ever more exorbitant rents, they often live out of their cars. It provides some measure of protection from the weather & from being assaulted. It doesn’t provide much safety nor does it provide toilet, or shower, or cooking facilities but it’s better than sleeping under a bridge in the freezing rain.

In many US cities, homelessness is being criminalized with new ordinances (including against offering the homeless food or money), police breaking up homeless encampments, & laws against using vehicles for human habitation. But in an uncustomary display of human empathy, Sonoma county officials north of the San Francisco area created a safe parking program in January as an emergency response to freezing weather & removed the ban on living in your car. Similar programs exist in a few other California counties.

You can see on the face of this fellow, named Anthony Contreras, the loneliness & desolation of being in such an uncomfortable predicament. But the shame is not his since millions of working people in the US are paid chump change for their work & are unable to afford even squalid housing.

Housing is a human right! Working people are not beggars but the creators of all wealth & when we understand that in our bones, we will put an end to this ignominy.

(Photo by Brian van der Brug/LA Times)

Global plunder leads to global flooding

Stranded by flooding in Cali, Colombia: undoubtedly what most concerns Colombian & US officials is how the massive flooding will affect drug production & trafficking this year. The CIA & Colombian businessmen rely on that filthy luchre for personal enrichment & to bankroll their nefarious operations. That’s not conspiracy theory but is very well-documented.

The reason for flooding in Colombia should come as no surprise since for decades Colombian rainforest has been stripped bare for cocaine, marijuana, & heroin production & deforestation is now accelerating for gold mining & to build palm oil, sugar cane, & biofuel plantations.

Deforestation disrupts the water cycle which trees play a vital role in maintaining. Trees draw water up through their roots to release into the atmosphere. A large part of the water that circulates within a rainforest ecosystem remains inside plants & trees. Trees also affect rainwater runoff & help soil absorb the excess water. So when forests are mowed down the climate gets drier, exposes soil to additional sun-baking, & eventually makes soil infertile by washing away vital nutrients in unimpeded rainwater. This process also leads to riverbank erosion which affects the levels of river beds.

It’s a slippery slope those drug peddlers & neoliberal predators are traveling since they’re pushing against the very laws of nature. At a certain point, even the most advanced Monsanto chemicals won’t be able to solve the problems of agribusiness created by their greed.

It’s long-since time we took back our planet from those so blinded by greed they are unable to steward the bounteous resources of Mother Earth meant for all of us to enjoy. And we ought to do it before there isn’t a patch of grass left to sit on or an acre left to plant food.

(Photo by Luis Robayo/AFP)

Long live Palestinian intifada!

There were six funerals this week for three Palestinians killed by the Israeli military in the West Bank (in separate incidents) & three killed by an Israeli bombing in Gaza. Thousands attended the funeral of this 20-year-old student named Saji Darwish who was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers (on March 10th) near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

A spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority (PA)–engaged in US-brokered peace talks with Israel since August 2013–issued a statement warning that Israeli violence could “lead to the situation spiraling out of control” & constitute “a dangerous provocation that will torpedo what’s left of the peace process.”

The constant violence against Palestinians by the Israeli military in Gaza & the West Bank & the acceleration of Zionist settlements in the West Bank do more than constitute a “dangerous provocation”; they expose the peace negotiations as nothing more than a diplomatic sham–& a shameful one at that–& expose the PA for what it was set up to be by the Oslo Accords: a phony regime with little authority except to help Israel control Palestinian intifada.

Adding humiliation to ignominy, the PA statement went on to urge the US, UN, EU, & Russia to intervene in the situation. They aren’t involved enough with their bankrolling of Israel’s massive arsenals!?

Long live Palestinian intifada! No military aid to Israel! End the phony-assed peace talks! Support the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement against Israel!

(Photo by Altahrir from Alternative Information Center)

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