Archive | March 27th, 2017

San Diego Black Panthers Revive Under Trump, Cite Black-Brown Solidarity

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  • Demonstrators wearing the insignia of the New Black Panthers Party protest the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, July 9, 2016.
    Demonstrators wearing the insignia of the New Black Panthers Party protest the shooting death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, July 9, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

“We want land. We want bread. We want housing, education and justice and peace,” Black Panther Party chairman Henry Wallace said.

“All power to the people!” the crowd chanted, the sea of black berets bobbing in unison.

RELATED: State Surveillance of Black Social Movements Lives on in 2017

It was a meeting of San Diego’s revived chapter of the Black Panther Party, a militant, socialist Black liberation group that was active in the 1960s and 70s.

The group is now reorganizing, decades later, in the face of the Trump administration.

“The elephant in the room is the new president of the United States of America,” said Panther education minister Trunnell Price, as reported by KPBS.

“They’re scared to death. They’re literally scared to death. They have no power, that the constitution doesn’t pertain to them, that their liberties can be taken away from them, that they have no voice,” he added.

Price is one of the original founding members of the local party launched by the Black Student Union back in 1967 at San Diego State University and active until it was broken up in the early 1970s due to raids by the FBI’s Cointelpro covert surveillance program, which sought to do exactly that, break up the group.

San Diego Black Panther party chairman Henry Wallace, at the meeting, led the group through the Panthers’ hallmark 10-point platform.

“We want land,” Wallace said. “We want bread. We want housing, education and justice and peace.”

RELATED: The Black Panthers Turn 50: Looking Back at the History with Bobby Seale

Price recounted how the group’s reorganization to reflect today’s issues is of utmost importance.

“We have to organize everywhere,” he said. “On the playground. The boys club. The girls club. The YMCA. The school. Friend’s house. Twitter. Snapshot. Facebook. Your book. My book. That’s what life is all about — moving forward in a positive way.”

The group’s focus will also be on its strained relationship with the San Diego Police Department. Just last year, a report by San Diego State University found that officers are more likely to search Black and Latinx drivers. The Panthers are also worried about Trump’s travel ban, his denial of climate change, the potential scrapping of Obamacare and deportations of undocumented immigrants.

“The history of San Diego is greatly related and intertwined with the brown community in San Diego,” Price told KPBS. “We went to school together. We played together. We fought together. So we are affected by what’s happening to our brothers across the border and what’s happening to their families here in the United States without a doubt.”

The Black Panther Party’s agenda also includes a revival of their breakfast program for children and checks for diabetes and sickle cell anemia.

Posted in USAComments Off on San Diego Black Panthers Revive Under Trump, Cite Black-Brown Solidarity

Egyptian Court Jails 56 over Migrant Boat Shipwreck

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  • The bodies of victims of a boat carrying migrants that capsized off Egypt
    The bodies of victims of a boat carrying migrants that capsized off Egypt’s coast, are seen on a military boat, in Al-Beheira, Egypt, Sept. 22, 2016. | Photo: Reuters
Since the EU-Turkey deal aimed at curbing the flow of migrants, most migrant journeys have taken the more dangerous route from north Africa to Italy.

An Egyptian court sentenced 56 people to prison terms of up to 14 years on Sunday over the capsizing of a boat that killed over 200 people, one of the deadliest disasters in the dangerous Mediterranean crossings of migrants to Europe.

The boat capsized off the Egyptian coast on Sept. 21. Rescue workers and fishermen rescued at least 169 people, but at least 202 died.

Fifty-seven people faced charges including causing the accidental death of 202 passengers, not using sufficient rescue equipment, endangering lives, receiving money from the victims, hiding suspects from authorities and using a vessel without a license. One woman was acquitted.

The boat sank in the Mediterranean off Burg Rashid, a village in Egypt’s northern Beheira province where the sea and the Nile meet. It had been carrying Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants and was believed to be heading for Italy.

One month after the boat sank Egypt’s parliament passed legislation setting prison terms and fines for those found guilty of smuggling migrants, acting as brokers or facilitating migrants’ journeys.

A record 5,000 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean last year, aid agencies have said.

Posted in EgyptComments Off on Egyptian Court Jails 56 over Migrant Boat Shipwreck

Iran Sanctions 15 US Firms, Blasts I$raHell Ties and Imperialism

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  • A man carries a giant flag made of flags of Iran, Palestine, Syria and Hezbollah, while marking the Islamic Revolution anniversary, Tehran, Feb. 11, 2016.
    A man carries a giant flag made of flags of Iran, Palestine, Syria and Hezbollah, while marking the Islamic Revolution anniversary, Tehran, Feb. 11, 2016. | Photo: Reuters.

A senior Iranian lawmaker said Iran would consider a bill branding the U.S. military and the CIA as terrorist groups.

As provocative aggression against Iran amps up under U.S. President Donald Trump, Iran has responded by announcing sanctions against 15 U.S. firms, citing ties to apartheid Israel and other rampant human rights abuses in the region.

RELATED: US to Impose Provocative New Sanctions on Iran

According to the state-run news agency IRNA, Iran’s foreign ministry said the companies had “flagrantly violated human rights” and cooperated with Israel in its “terrorism” against Palestinians.

The sanctions bar the companies from making any agreements with Iranian firms, a seizure of their assets, as well as banning visas for its former and current directors.

The Iranian move came two days after the United States imposed sanctions on 11 companies or individuals from China, North Korea or the United Arab Emirates for technology transfers that could boost Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

Dozens of Iranian entities have also been subjected to U.S. sanctions following an Iranian missile test in February. In addition, a bill announced Thursday by U.S. senators is set to place more restrictive sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear activities.

The companies on Iran’s sanctions list include Bent Tal, United Technologies Products, ITT Corporation, Raytheon, Re/Max Real Estate, Magnum Research Inc., Oshkosh Corporation, Kahr Arms and Elbit Systems.

RELATED: Israeli PM to Lobby Trump for Sanctions on Iran in US Visit

A senior Iranian lawmaker also said Iran would consider a bill branding the U.S. military and the CIA as terrorist groups if the U.S. Congress designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

Back in January, when Trump announced his first travel ban on Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries, Iran responded by announcing a retaliatory ban on U.S. citizens.

“While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted,” a Foreign Ministry statement said at the time.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Iran Sanctions 15 US Firms, Blasts I$raHell Ties and Imperialism

Nazi regime murders British policeman

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‘Israel’ murders British policeman and innocent tourists in heart of British democracy WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

and the British government won’t do a damn thing about it….

Netanyahu is an evil, murderous bastard who would gladly kill innocents to save his own ass.
by Ian Greenhalgh

Make no mistake, there was nothing fake about the terror attack in London. There were no crisis actors, no Hollywood style fake blood, people died, others were maimed, a veteran policeman was butchered. The terrorist was shot and killed, all of this is sadly all too real and has nothing in common with fake terror events like the Charlie Hebdo farce in Paris or the bad street theatre of the Lee Rigby ‘beheading’ in Woolwich, London a few years ago.

In those fake events, the area was cordoned off while a troupe of actors played out a script, invariably including such standard plot devices as a passport conveniently left at the scene to ID the attacker and lashings of bright red fake blood.

A man lies injured on the steps of Westminster Bridge, note his clearly broken leg and the all too real puddle of dark blood under his head. No Boston Bombing style fakery here, just tragic murder of innocents.

It was clear to me from the beginning that we weren’t dealing with one of those run of the mill fake terror events, the attack on Westminster Bridge was clearly real, it would be impossible to shut down and cordon off one of the busiest parts of the city in the middle of the day while Parliament was in session and tourists milled around everywhere – for one thing, the entire site is clearly overlooked by the London Eye which would have given all of it’s passengers a bird’s eye view.

No, this one was real, a 52 year old British Muslim drove a car into crowds of people on the sidewalk of the bridge before crashing into the railings outside Parliament, then left his vehicle and stabbed a policeman to death with a large knife before being shot and killed by the armed policemen who are always on duty guarding the seat of British democracy.

The attacker, he was shot and killed by armed police guarding the Houses of Parliament

So far, 4 unfortunate, innocent people have lost their lives and a score more are injured, some of them severely, the death toll may sadly rise.

No crisis actors here, British MP Tobias Ellwood looks bemused after attempting to save the life of the policeman who was stabbed to death. That’s real blood smeared on Mr Ellwood’s face, it got there while he was trying to give mouth to mouth resuscitation. We commend Mr Ellwood for his actions and offer our deepest condolences to the family of police officer.

But make no mistake, this was no ‘Islamic Terror’ event, the man was no ‘Muslim Extremist’, this had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, this was the work of Israel, specifically, this was the doing of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why would Netanyahu do this? Isn’t Britain a close ally of Israel with a political establishment largely subservient to Zionist-Israeli interests? Yes and Yes.

Netanyahu did this to save his own skin, this is a man who would gladly carry out mass murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing, any crime you can imagine, no matter how sadistic and murderous, for no other reason than to save his own hide.

You see, Netanyahu is in deep trouble, beset by domestic political issues in the form of multiple allegations of corruption; he is under investigation and faces the very real threat of being removed from office, even put on trial for his many crimes.

British Jews protesting in London against Israel and Zionism, we must always remember that it is not anti-Jewish to criticise Israel and that many Jews, perhaps even a majority, stand opposed to the evil Zionist regime.

Israel has been quick to publicly issue condolences and voice it’s solidarity with Britain in the fight against terrorism, as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported today:

In Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in a statement: “Israel expresses its deep shock at the terror attack in London today and its solidarity with the victims and with the people and government of Great Britain. Terror is terror wherever it occurs and we will fight it relentlessly.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the foreign minister’s portfolio, was on an airplane back to Israel from China at the time of the attack.

The Jerusalem Post was quick to report Islamic State had claimed responsibility. Like Mr Hotovely’s words of sympathy, these are hollow, baseless statements, in fact you might as well call them what they are – lies.

Now I’ve explained what happened, over to Gordon to explain why:

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Nazi regime murders British policeman

Defeating the Islamic State group: A war mired in contradictions

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Yemeni army soldiers display flags of the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia group, at a position recaptured from the group near the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar

By James M. Dorsey

US President Donald J. Trump’s vow to defeat what he terms radical Islamic terrorism forces the United States to manoeuvre the Middle East’s and North Africa’s murky world of ever shifting alliances and labyrinths of power struggles within power struggles.

The pitfalls are complex and multiple. They range from differences within the 68-member, anti-Islamic State (IS) alliance over what constitutes terrorism to diverging political priorities to varying degrees of willingness to tacitly employ jihadists to pursue geopolitical goals. The pitfalls are most evident in Yemen and Syria and involve two long-standing US allies, NATO member Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson travels to Turkey this week as US and Russian troops create separate buffers in Syria to prevent a Turkish assault on the northern town of Manbij. Manbij, located 40 kilometres from the Turkish border, is controlled by Kurdish forces, viewed by the US as a key ground force in the fight with the Islamic State.

Until a series of devastating IS suicide bombings in Turkish cities, Turkish forces appeared to concentrate on weakening the Kurds rather than the jihadists in Syria. Stepped-up Turkish action against IS has not weakened Turkey’s resolve to prevent Kurds from emerging as one of the victors in the Syrian conflict.

Turkey’s Kurdish problem

At the heart of US-Turkish differences over the Kurds is the age-old-adage that one man’s terrorist is another man’s liberation fighter. The US has a long history of empathy towards Kurdish cultural and national rights and enabled the emergence of a Kurdish state-in-waiting in northern Iraq. The differences also go to an equally large elephant in the room: the question of whether Syria, Yemen and Iraq will survive as nation states in a post-war era.

That may be the real issue at the core of US-Turkish differences. Many Turks hark back in their suspicion that foreign powers are bent on breaking up the Turkish state to the 1920 Treaty of Sevre that called for a referendum in which Kurds would determine their future.

Visionary Mustafa Kemal Ataturk carved modern Turkey out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire. He mandated a unified Turkish identity that superseded identities of a nation whose population was to a large degree made up of refugees from far flung parts of the former empire and ethnic and religious minorities.

Turkey charges that Syrian Kurdish fighters are aligned with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish Kurdish group that has been fighting for Kurdish rights for more than three decades and has been designated terrorist by Turkey, the United States and Europe.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford, Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Abkar met in the southern Turkish city of Antalya in advance of Mr Tillerson’s visit to lower tensions that threaten planned efforts to capture Raqqa, the IS capital.

In many ways, the pitfalls are similar in Yemen, where Mr Trump has stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating intervention that this month entered its third year and has increased attacks on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), viewed as one of Al-Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliates.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Qaeda problem

It took Al-Qaeda attacks inside the kingdom in 2003-04 and jihadist operations since then, as well as growing international suggestions of an ideological affinity between Saudi Arabia’s Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism and jihadism, for the kingdom to view Islamic militants on par with Iran, which Saudis see as an existential threat.

Nonetheless, Saudi Arabia, despite a litany of denials, has seen militant Islamists as useful tools in its proxy wars with Iran in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Sunni ultra-conservatives are frequently at the forefront of Saudi-led efforts to dislodge the Yemeni Houthis from their strongholds.

… Saudi Arabia, despite a litany of denials, has seen militant Islamists as useful tools in its proxy wars with Iran in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen has in fact given AQAP a new lease on life. Prior to the war, AQAP had been driven to near irrelevance by the rise of IS and security crackdowns. In a report in February, the International Crisis Group (ICG) concluded that AQAP was “stronger than it has ever been”.

The group “appears ever more embedded in the fabric of opposition to the Houthi/Saleh alliance… that is fighting the internationally-recognised, Saudi-backed interim government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi”, the report said. It was referring to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who are aligned with former Yemeni leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

AQAP’s resurgence is as much a result of Saudi Arabia’s single-minded focus on the Iranian threat posed in the kingdom’s perception by the Houthis as it is potentially related to a murky web of indirect or tacit relationships with the group.

De-prioritising the fight against jihadists

“In prosecuting the war, the Saudi-led coalition has relegated confronting AQAP and IS to a second-tier priority… Saudi-led coalition statements that fighting the group is a top priority and announcements of military victories against AQAP in the south are belied by events,” the ICG said.

The kingdom’s willingness to cooperate with Islamists such as Yemen’s Islah party, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, and unclear attitude towards AQAP has sparked strains within the anti-Houthi coalition, particularly with the staunchly anti-Islamist United Arab Emirates (UAE).

AQAP has been able to rearm itself through the indirect acquisition of weapons from the Saudi-led coalition as well as raids on Yemeni military camps. AQAP is believed to have received advance notice and to have coordinated with the Saudis its withdrawal from the crucial port of Mukalla before an assault by UAE and Yemeni forces, according to the ICG.

The United States and some of its key allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, may be able to paper over differences that allow for short-term advances against IS. But in the longer term it could be the failure to address those differences head on that will create new breeding grounds for militancy.

Saudi Arabia was conspicuously low key when in January a US Navy Seal died in a raid on AQAP in which the US military seized information that this month prompted the Trump administration and Britain to ban carry-on electronics aboard US and London-bound flights from select airports in North Africa and the Middle East, including two in Saudi Arabia.

Arab News, Saudi Arabia’s leading English-language newspaper, this week quoted Saudi officials as saying that AQAP, widely believed to be well advanced in its ability to target aircraft with explosives smuggled on board, had lost its capability to operate overseas.

The officials said that Saudi Arabia, which has cozied up to the Trump administration and endorsed the president’s ban on travel to the US from six Muslim majority countries, was concerned about IS and Shia militants rather than AQAP. “They [AQAP] don’t have the power to export their activities,” Arab News quoted Abdullah Al-Shehri, a senior Saudi Interior Ministry official, as saying.

The ministry’s spokesman, Mansour al-Turki, noted that “Al-Qaeda actually has not been involved in any real kind of terrorism-related incident in Saudi Arabia for three years. Most of the incidents came from Daesh (the Arab acronym for IS) or militant groups related to Shias in the Eastern Province.”

The United States and some of its key allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, may be able to paper over differences that allow for short-term advances against IS. But in the longer term it could be the failure to address those differences head on that will create new breeding grounds for militancy. It’s the kind of trade-off that in the past has produced short-term results only to create even greater problems down the road.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Defeating the Islamic State group: A war mired in contradictions

Chilean Play Dramatizes Remaining Traces of Pinochet Dictatorship

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  • Undated photo provided by Teatro a Mil Foundation on March 24, 2017, showing the actors performing during the play "Mateluna."
    Undated photo provided by Teatro a Mil Foundation on March 24, 2017, showing the actors performing during the play “Mateluna.” | Photo: EFE/Teatro a Mil Foundation/Felipe Fredes
The director grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship and said he feels part of the social and political movements of the time.

A Chilean playwright presents in his work “Mateluna” evidence of an unjust trial that sent one of his colleagues to jail, and also dramatizes the remaining traces of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

RELATED: Chile Sentences 33 Pinochet-Era Agents for Disappearing Communists

Playwright Guillermo Calderon told EFE in an interview in Sao Paulo that he wrote this play “to review the case and try to find justice for Jorge.”

Jorge Mateluna, a former guerrilla of the Marxist-Leninist Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front that fought against the 1973-1990 Pinochet regime, helped document Calderon’s 2013 play “Escuela” with his own true story.

Six months after its premiere, with the play still on the marquee, Mateluna was arrested for taking part in a bank robbery, a crime that had nothing to do with the sentence of over 10 years he had previously served for belonging to the guerrilla front.

“It’s an investigation through documentary theater. We find in the investigation a pair of clues and that’s what we use onstage, but there are really 100 different items of proof that Jorge had nothing to do with it,” said Calderon.

Shown onstage are shots of the trial and videos that show the corruption of the Chilean police and justice system in a case that remains closed.

“The idea is that there should be a political movement to reopen the case,” the director said.

“Mateluna” was presented at Berlin’s HAU Hebbel an Ufer theater complex last October, and this week formed part of the program at the Sao Paulo International Theater Festival, from where it traveled to other Brazilian cities before leaving for Mexico.

The work continues Calderon’s brand of “political” theater seen in other works like “Neva,” “Diciembre,” “Clase,” “Villa” and “Discurso,” which have been staged in more than 30 countries.

Calderon grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship and told EFE that he feels part of the social and political movements of the time, which, from his point of view, ended “when Chile began its transition to democracy.”

Nonetheless, “the dictatorship is a ghost that continues to haunt Chile,” he said.

To make his point, the playwright said that “in Chile. the constitution imposed by Pinochet is still in force” and “the neoliberal values” that regulate the economy to this day were introduced by the authoritarian regime.
“Despite decades of democracy, the country has been unable to unshackle itself from those impositions,” he said.

RELATED: Chile’s Pinochet Long Gone, but Torture Persists: Rights Expert

Years ago, Calderon moved to the United States as a refuge to “relax and write” stage plays, but since Donald Trump became president he has noted a difference.

“There is indignation, anger, pain, and a deep sadness I never felt in the US before…it reminds me of Chile during the dictatorship. The conditions are different, but the emotions are similar,” he said.

Calderon has dedicated his life to political reflection on stage and screen, because, he said, “when all institutions fail, the last thing that’s left is art.”

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Chilean Play Dramatizes Remaining Traces of Pinochet Dictatorship

In Erdogan’s Turkey, an Artist Gets Jailed for Painting Reality

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  • The painting which has landed the artists and journalist in jail
    The painting which has landed the artists and journalist in jail | Photo: Twitter: @peterslemani.
Turkey is becoming a totalitarian state.

A Turkish court has handed down a two-year, nine-month and 22-day jail sentence to a Kurdish artist because of her painting of a Kurdish village being razed by Turkish security forces.

RELATED: Turkey’s Erdogan Lashes Out at EU for Crusade Against Islam

Zehra Doğan, an ethnic Kurd from Diyarbakır in southeastern Turkey, was given the sentence by the Second High Criminal Court of the Mardin province after having been arrested last July. The painting in question shows the destroyed cityscape of Nusaybin, with Turkish flags draped across blown-out buildings.

Close to the border with Syria, Nusaybin is home to a large Kurdish population and Turkey says that the painting, along with her social media posts, are proof that Doğan has connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a group which has been pushing for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, but which the Turkish state considers a terrorist organization.

Doğan, also an award-winning journalist, argued in court that all the crimes she is accused of are journalistic activities, for which she is registered with the state and a member of the Union of Journalists of Turkey.

“I was given two years and 10 months only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However, (the Turkish government) caused this. I only painted it,”  Doğan said in a tweet which has since been deleted, according to Turkey Purge, self-described as “a small group of young journalists who are trying to be the voice for Turkish people who suffer under an oppressive regime.”

Following the collapse of a cease-fire between Turkey and the PKK in July 2015, Turkey’s “anti-terrorist” operations against PKK militants across cities in the southeast of the country has had devastating effects, where Turkey has been continually criticized for serious human rights abuses against the Kurdish population.

RELATED: PKK Prisoners Around Turkey Start Hunger Strike to Free Ocalan

Around 2,000 people – mostly Kurds – have been killed or jailed as part of Turkish security operations, with hundreds of thousands displaced, according to a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Turkish forces have also prevented Kurds from accessing food, water and medical care, and imposed harsh curfews which would often last weeks and prevent the evacuation of displaced people who were trapped in the middle of fighting.

Posted in TurkeyComments Off on In Erdogan’s Turkey, an Artist Gets Jailed for Painting Reality

Peter Tosh: Resistance Fighter Against Racism and Apartheid

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  • Reggae legend and activist Peter Tosh.
    Reggae legend and activist Peter Tosh. | Photo: Reuters
Long before activists coined and popularized the slogan, “No Justice, No Peace,” Tosh captured that sentiment of the people and immortalized it in the song “Equal Rights.”

Whenever we commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre, we are politically obligated to highlight the valiant effort of the late reggae singer, Pan-Africanist, Rastaman, revolutionary, and human rights champion Peter Tosh in creating greater public awareness of the crimes of South Africa’s apartheid system. Tosh was one of the original Wailers’ trio alongside Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer. He was a reggae superstar at the time of his assassination in Jamaica on Sept. 11, 1987. Tosh was known as a militant cultural worker and organic intellectual who did not mince words in condemning the powers-that-be.

ANALYSISBob Marley: A Revolutionary in Word, Song and Deed

March 21 was the 57th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre that was carried out by the South African apartheid regime against protesting Africans in 1960. This protest was organized by the liberation organization the Pan Africanist Congress. It targeted the pass laws of the settler-colonial regime that regulated the movement and residential pattern of the indigenous Africans. International opinion was so outraged by the murderous behavior of the apartheid system that the United Nations’ General Assembly was inspired to declare March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

According to Tosh’s former manager Herbie Miller in the book Remembering Peter Tosh,” Tosh loved to read about international affairs and politics in general, biographies of noted Pan-Africanists as well as “literature about the origins of the apartheid system.” Tosh’s 1977 album “Equal Rights” was an anthem against racial and economic oppression and Miller said that “it was this era of legal segregation and political unrest that inspired Peter’s recording of the album.”

On this album, Tosh demonstrates his function as an organic intellectual of the international African laboring classes with the anti-apartheid song “Apartheid” that exposed the economic motivation and action of the apartheid regimes in South Africa and Namibia. The first four lines in the song bear witness to the natural resources extraction activities of the capitalist, settler-colonial regime in southern Africa:

Inna me land, quite illegal
You 
inna me land, dig out me gold, yes
Inna me land, diggin’ out me pearl
Inna me land, dig out me diamond

Tosh is not distracted by the ideological structure of white supremacy that was used in a vain attempt to mask the economic and financial imperatives behind the system of apartheid. It is not accidental and is quite instructive that this Rastafari prophetic voice went straight at the foundation of the system of apartheid in this song — the theft and occupation of Africans’ land and exploitation of its natural resources.

This militant reggae icon exposes and indicts before the court of international public opinion the vicious and murderous apartheid system for its neglect of the social needs of the oppressed. Since the apartheid regime lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the people, it was forced to invest heavily in the coercive arm of the state (the police, army, courts and prisons) in order to keep in check the people’s struggle for freedom:

You inna me land, you no build no schools for black children
You 
inna me land, no hospital for black people
You 
inna me land, you built your prison
You 
inna me land, you built your camp

OPINIONDecolonizing Culture and Politics with Derek Walcott

Peter was quite aware of the threat of the apartheid regime in South Africa and Namibia to international peace and regional stability in southern Africa. The settler-colonial regime did not confine its vile and brutal actions to inside the territories under its control. It went after the liberation movements from Namibia and South Africa in other countries. South African apartheid brought death and destruction to the people of the frontline states that gave shelter to the freedom fighters and anti-colonial forces:

You cross the border, you shoot off the children
Cross the border, shoot down women
Cross the border, you take your might
Cross the border to beat the right

Tosh told the apartheid regime that it must expect a fight from the victimized Africans. He knew that the language of force is the one in which the forces of white supremacy and Babylon were most fluent. The oppressed had no option but to fight:

Now we have to fight, fight, fight
Fight ‘gainst apartheid
Black man got to fight, fight, fight
Fight ‘gainst apartheid

Come on and you fight, fight, fight
Fight ‘gainst apartheid
We got to fight, fight, fight
Fight ‘gainst apartheid

If the call to arms against the forces of exploitation and the disastrous consequences for them are not clear enough, Tosh outlines the desperate situation in which the oppressors will find themselves in the decisive and final moments of the triumph of the oppressed. In the song Downpressor Man from the “Equal Rights” album, he informs the exploiter of his fate:

Downpressor man
Where you gonna run to
Downpressor man
Where you gonna run to
Downpressor man
Where you gonna run to
All along that day

You gonna run to the sea
But the sea will be boiling
When you run to the sea
The sea will be boiling
The sea will be boiling
All along that day

You gonna run to the rocks
The rocks will be melting
When you run to the rocks
The rocks will be melting
The rocks will be melting
All that day

Long before activists coined and popularized the slogan, “No Justice, No Peace,” Tosh captured that sentiment of the people and immortalized it in the song “Equal Rights.” He knew that the foundation of peace is justice and equality. The absence of peace and equal rights would ensure the continuation of predatory warfare by the oppressor and the necessity of revolutionary violence or armed self-defense by the oppressed:

Everyone is crying out for peace, yes
None is crying out for justice
Everyone is crying out for peace, yes
None is crying out for justice

Idon’t want no peace
I need equal rights and justice
I need equal rights and justice
I need equal rights and justice
Got to get it, equal rights and justice

Tosh was an internationalist who linked the fight of Africans against racism, settler-colonialism and apartheid in southern Africa with the struggle of the Palestinians against zionism and Israeli apartheid. In the song “Equal Rights,” he proclaims that “Palestinians are fighting for equal rights and justice.” This reggae and Rastafari revolutionary took the opportunity at the 1977 No Nukes concert in Madison Square Garden, New York, to demonstrate his solidarity with Palestinians and others from the Middle East against Israeli colonial and military aggression.

Tosh’s expression of internationalist solidarity with the cause of Palestinians and others in the Middle East caused the withdrawal of his invitation to address the relevant United Nations’ committee on apartheid. He would have been the first reggae cultural worker to do so.

We should share Tosh’s legacy of principled resistance and solidarity against apartheid, racism and economic exploitation with young people. Tosh used his art to turn the people on to the struggle for justice, equal rights and world peace.

Posted in WorldComments Off on Peter Tosh: Resistance Fighter Against Racism and Apartheid

Why Nicaragua Was Smart to Reject Uber

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  • Taxi drivers protest against Uber in Mexico City.
    Taxi drivers protest against Uber in Mexico City. | Photo: Reuters
The clear business strategy of Uber’s investors is to work ruthlessly to gain a monopoly position both within individual countries and internationally.

Back in July 2016, New York radio journalist Don Debar, reporting on the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, found that people arriving for the convention in taxis were stopped at the security cordon over a mile from the convention center. From there, they had to get out and walk in the exhausting Philadelphia summer sun in order to attend Hillary Clinton’s preordained triumph.

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But passengers arriving with the Uber app taxi service were driven right up to the convention center into the company’s air-conditioned reception area. Debar’s anecdote about the Democratic elite’s cozy cronyism towards Uber is a microcosm of why Trump in the end easily defeated an out-of-touch Democratic leadership committed to Clinton’s corrupt, war-mongering candidacy.

In January, Nicaragua’s Sandinista government under President Daniel Ortega announced it would not give Uber permission to operate in the country. In Central America, Uber operates in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. Its regional representatives say it has over 20,000 drivers serving more than 700,000 customers.

Uber projects the image of an innovative business, offering greater efficiency, convenience, economy and security for its customers and benefiting its drivers and the local economies where it operates. But Uber’s business model is aggressive, secretive and predatory, glossing over its questionable sustainability and distorting comparisons with competitors it seeks to displace. As a private company, Uber is not obliged to publish its accounts nor to have them audited by accepted accounting standards applicable to public companies. Transport analyst Hubert Horan reckoned that through 2015 Uber’s investors were effectively subsidizing passenger fares by as much as 49 percent, thus making it easy for Uber to underbid its competitors.

That is especially relevant in the case of Nicaragua where the taxi sector of the transport industry is dominated by low-income drivers grouped in cooperatives, and by very small family businesses, especially in the capital of Managua. Nicaragua’s government policy supports providers of public transport across the country, from Managua’s urban bus and taxi services to the river buses of the Rio San Juan, or from Nicaragua’s very efficient inter-city transport network to the boats that serve communities along the country’s Caribbean coast.

The support takes various forms, for example compensating bus cooperatives for the cap on bus fares in Managua, preferential prices to taxi and bus cooperatives for lubricants, tires and spare parts or credit support for the purchase of new vehicles. This support for Nicaragua’s transport industry keeps fares within the reach of ordinary Nicaraguan families, most of whom are on very low incomes.

By contrast, the clear business strategy of Uber’s investors is to work ruthlessly to gain a monopoly position both within individual countries and internationally. That strategy has involved years of pricing fares at below cost in order to hijack market share and promote an image of Uber as some kind of unstoppable natural force, encouraging more investors and creating an enormous wannabe Ponzi-like contraption vainly trying to generate enough business to be able to take off. A more likely outcome is that the business will eventually fall apart into one or more smaller viable components, for example selling data extracted from customers’ patterns of using the company’s service.

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Uber’s public relations falsely suggest it introduces healthy competition into a transport market vitiated by special interests jealously protecting poor service and anti-competitive practices. But the basis of Uber’s business model has nothing to do with innovation or fair competition and everything to do with classic predatory capitalism, maximizing profits by externalizing costs as much as possible and minimizing costs it cannot externalize.

For example, prior to 2016, Uber’s commission on each journey was 20 percent. Then, Uber hiked its cut to 25 percent of each fare. In contrast to conventional car hire and taxi businesses, Uber’s model avoids taxation, regulation and costs like auto insurance, vehicle purchase, maintenance, and depreciation or security. All that burden is absorbed by the drivers before they even begin to make any money.

Similarly, Uber’s multinational business tax profile offers minimal contribution to the upkeep of roads and highways. Uber may pay the authorities of a given country for permission to operate there, but the amount will certainly be much less than the revenue lost from transport operators displaced by Uber.

Nor is it true, as its promoters argue, that Uber makes more efficient use of its drivers’ vehicles. A typical Uber driver wastes 40 percent of their time driving between fares. So it is false to argue that Uber contributes to the local economy or is environmentally more sustainable than other taxi businesses. Uber contributes nothing to public health systems to cover costs from accidents involving their drivers or to mitigate environmental pollution their drivers’ vehicles create.

Uber’s app is easy for anyone technically competent to develop and was hardly innovative even when it appeared. For decades, local car-sharing and solidarity-taxi initiatives have pooled resources to reduce costs and make more efficient use of transport resources by reducing operating, administrative and insurance costs and parking problems. They too use communications technology via smartphones and the internet. The only thing uniquely extraordinary about Uber is how its promoters have managed to network elites so effectively as to attract over US$60 billion in investment for a business model that, as Hubert Horan demonstrated, will never match the rise of internet-based companies like Amazon or Facebook.

The idea that Uber might start operating in Nicaragua was floated by the private business umbrella organization COSEP based on the suggestion that Uber would help modernize, diversify and make Nicaragua’s existing taxi services more efficient. COSEP’s support for Uber is logical given the corporate business interests dominating its membership. Nor was it surprising that Uber’s public relations campaign bamboozled consumer organizations and media outlets with shallow “innovation” gobbledygook.

Announcing the government’s policy decision, leaders of Nicaragua’s cooperative movement attributed it to the need to avoid conflict with the cooperatives and family businesses that operate Nicaragua’s taxi services. Nicaragua’s transport services may be defective in some respects, but they deliver a proven, robust service to millions of Nicaraguans every day.

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More importantly, they do so as a grassroots associative network defending the still precarious standard of living of many thousands of Nicaraguan families in a mutually beneficial relationship with local and national government. As more people in Nicaragua adapt to new technologies, they will themselves develop new ways of mediating exchanges in goods and services without paying a cut to foreign multinationals like Uber. For the moment, Nicaragua has been able to defend an important component of its grassroots cooperative, community and family-driven economy against Uber.

As Sandinista strategist Orlando Nuñez Soto argued in his introduction to the Foro Sao Paulo’s just published “A Consensus for Our America,” the region’s progressive governments and social and political movements have created a new economy based on strategies by which people at the grassroots across Latin America and the Caribbean survived the long years of neoliberal catastrophe. That new economy, much of it still precarious, contributes over 50 percent of the region’s GDP.

As it becomes more sophisticated, the new economies are progressively expanding into regional and global markets despite increasing corporate efforts to exclude them so as to preserve the chokehold of capitalist businesses leeching surplus from the region’s economies. Since 2010, that new economy has made it possible for Nicaragua to grow faster than its Central American neighbors. Excluding Uber shows Nicaragua’s Sandinista government is serious about defending that new economy and promoting genuine economic democracy.

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Could Roe v. Wade Be Overturned?

NOVANEWS
  • Those concerned about women’s reproductive rights are wondering whether an overruling of Roe v. Wade is on the horizon.
    Those concerned about women’s reproductive rights are wondering whether an overruling of Roe v. Wade is on the horizon. | Photo: AFP
Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has pleased anti-choice Republicans.

If you care about the future of abortion rights, now is a good time to worry.

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A sweeping Supreme Court victory for pro-choice advocates last summer was quickly overrun by worries brought on by the election of Donald Trump and the announcement of his proposed Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Those concerned about women’s reproductive rights might wonder whether an overruling of Roe v. Wade is on the horizon, now that President Trump’s nominee looks to be all but unstoppable.

Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to speak at the anti-abortion March for Life in January only added to the discomfort of abortion rights supporters.

But the real danger may be not so much that things will radically change – it’s that they’ll remain the same. From my vantage point as a constitutional law professor who also litigates reproductive rights cases, the landscape looks about as treacherous as it ever has.

A short-lived victory?

A pro-choice activists holds a coat hanger, historically used for self-induced abortion. Photo: AFP
A pro-choice activists holds a coat hanger, historically used for self-induced abortion. Photo: AFP

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court decided last summer that if a state law is so difficult to comply with that it has the effect of shutting down abortion clinics without really helping women or making abortions safer, then that law violates the constitutional right to abortion.

Whole Woman’s Health provides an example of how this legal test works. The Supreme Court considered a Texas law that imposed two kinds of regulations on abortion clinics. First, the law mandated that abortion clinics meet the same building and staffing standards as mini-hospitals, a very expensive proposition. Second, the law required clinic doctors to be able to admit patients to a local hospital – a medically unnecessary qualification that can be hard to get in a state where there is widespread opposition to abortion. The state claimed it was imposing all of these regulations to protect patients’ health and safety. The Supreme Court concluded that the law actually did very little to protect women but a whole lot to shut down clinics. In a 5-3 decision, it found the Texas law to be unconstitutional.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes reproductive rights, 338 laws imposing new abortion restrictions have been adopted by states just since 2010. This number equals about 30 percent of the total number of abortion restrictions currently on the books in this country.

You might think that the Whole Woman’s Health case would have slowed down the pace of anti-abortion laws.

It didn’t. Anti-abortion groups have behaved as though the Supreme Court opinion changed nothing, continuing to push for the same types of laws as they had before.

Indeed, 18 states passed 50 new pieces of anti-abortion legislation in 2016. For example, three states passed laws requiring fetuses and embryos to be buried or cremated after an abortion. Four states passed measures banning the most common abortion procedure after 13 weeks. These laws have the effect of forcing women seeking second-trimester abortions to have a riskier procedure than the one that was banned.

The restrictions don’t target abortion alone. Since July 2015, 15 states have acted to defund Planned Parenthood, a major provider of preventive health care services.

And these statistics do not include the many states bill that are still only proposed or pending.

The future of the court

Although the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health provides reproductive rights advocates with a powerful tool to challenge the new onslaught of legislative measures, it’s hardly a perfect solution. A legal test that requires balancing benefits and burdens leaves a lot of room for a judge to place a thumb on the scale.

It doesn’t help matters that the Supreme Court left a number of questions unanswered in Whole Woman’s Health. There is still no consensus, for example, on whether state laws requiring burial and cremation for fetuses are constitutional.

This is where the Supreme Court comes into play, since at least some of these new laws will likely end up in front of it. So how can we expect Gorsuch to rule? In a speech at my law school last year, Gorsuch praised his predecessor, Justice Antonin Scalia, who was a fierce opponent of abortion rights. Gorsuch also argued, following in Scalia’s footsteps, that “judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views.” This judicial philosophy, called textualism, holds that judges should focus only on the words of the Constitution, and what they meant at the time they were adopted – largely ignoring the ways in which society has changed and leaving both their own politics and popular opinion and beliefs out of the equation.

Yet, the current test for the constitutionality of abortion regulations gives broad discretion to individual judges to decide how to weigh a state’s claimed interest against the woman’s right to access abortion. And, as I have shown in a recent law review article, a judge’s underlying views about abortion are often evident in their decisions when abortion is involved – even in cases that are primarily about something else, like free speech rights or religious freedom. The impact of an individual’s political views is likely to be particularly strong at the Supreme Court level, where justices are not strictly bound to follow prior decisions and where the disputes are, almost by definition, difficult, uncharted legal territory.

It’s hard to discern much from Gorsuch’s history, which exemplifies narrow, doctrinal decision-making. In two cases, he voted against abortion rights groups but on highly technical grounds.

Perhaps more to the point, Gorsuch has been quite welcoming to religious employers’ claims to be exempt from providing their employees with contraception, recently joining an opinion in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell that argued it was too great a burden on a religious employer to even have to file paperwork opting out of the legal mandate. One can probably infer from these cases, and Gorsuch’s admiration for Scalia’s judicial philosophy, that the right to an abortion does not have a prominent place within his understanding of the Constitution.

Still, Roe v. Wade itself is probably safe for now.

Overruling is unlikely, given that Justice Anthony Kennedy will remain the swing vote even after the current vacancy on the Supreme Court is filled. Kennedy has supported the core of the right to choose. The real turning point will likely come if and when Trump gets to make a second nomination to the Supreme Court. That day may not be so far off, since three of the current justices – all moderates or liberals – are over 75 years old.

What is more immediately at risk is the long-term fate of abortion clinics, women’s access to safe abortion and even the availability of other forms of reproductive health care. In other words, what is at risk is everything other than Roe v. Wade.

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