Archive | July 4th, 2017

On July 4, The United States Celebrates Independence – But For Who?

  • Left to right: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Ron Gochez, Konrad Aderer and Ameena Qazi.
    Left to right: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Ron Gochez, Konrad Aderer and Ameena Qazi. | Photo: Contributed, AF3IRM, Revo Grafia, ACLU SoCal
teleSUR spoke to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Konrad Aderer, Ron Gochez and Ameena Qazi to gather their thoughts on the U.S. holiday.

On July 4, the United States – a nation in the midst of doing all it can to preserve its hegemony and waning global dominance – gears up to celebrate its independence from former empire Britain.

OPINION: Global Capitalist Crisis and Trump’s War Drive

Ambitions on such a day, even for a country whose political class routinely touts self-indulgent precepts of “exceptionalism,” run high. Additional masts are hoisted to fly the U.S. flag. Families and friends barbecue, cook, and drink beers from cans decked-out with stars and stripes. And, of course, a barrage of fireworks – in direct allusion to the belligerent national anthem verse, “and the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” – fill the night sky as the mainstays of patriotic pop music blare.

With its mainstream media stronghold echoing every ounce of “national pride,” the voice of oppressed nations within the “land of the free” is filtered from public discourse and conscious.

Do they exist or is it all a myth?

The United States didn’t emerge from an abyss. Indeed, the circumstances that produced much of the nation’s economic and material wealth were birthed through the genocide perpetrated against Indigenous people and subsequent robbery of their land, as well as the enslavement of African people for centuries.

While Indigenous people were corralled onto reservations and African descendants released into a racist society without compensation for their labors, the United States went about the business of building its brand and expanding its influence.

However, what do people of oppressed groups and nationalities living within the United States have to say about Independence Day?

Joining us in conversation:

Konrad Aderer, 48, Brooklyn-based Japanese American director of soon-to-be-released documentary Resistance at Tule Lake, as well as previous films, Enemy Alien and Rising Up: The Alams.

Thandisizwe Chimurenga is a Los Angeles-based award-winning, freelance journalist and author who identifies as an “Afrikan in America.”

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, 78, lifelong movement organizer with Scots-Irish and Native roots in rural Oklahoma and four decades of work in international Indigenous movements. Dunbar-Ortiz is a retired university professor, historian and award-winning author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States.

Ron Gochez, 36, Mexican-Salvadoran organizer, educator and Political Secretary of Union del Barrio Los Angeles, a revolutionary socialist organization founded in 1981 to advance the fight for the liberation and self-determination of Mexican and Latino communities in the United States and the socialist integration of the Americas.

Ameena Mirza Qazi, 35, civil rights attorney and Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild – Los Angeles, former staff attorney and deputy executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Los Angeles.

Demonstrating in Barrio Logan in San Diego after the election with a message of “Trump Out!” | Photo: Reuters

What does “independence” mean to you?

Aderer: Freedom from tyranny, oppression, exclusion, detention, internment.

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Chimurenga: Independence means freedom from foreign control. It means self-determination, the right and the ability (power) to determine what we do, what happens to us, in the places/communities in which we live. In the U.S., that means freedom from the domination of a white supremacist state.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Personally, and as a historian, independence of the United States is one of the most tragic events in the history of humanity. For “my people,” meaning Scots-Irish early settlers, they were and are on the whole the most gung-ho U.S. patriots and believe U.S. independence was intended by God.

Gochez: As Indigenous/Mexican people, American Independence day is something that we cannot celebrate because the United States was literally built by African and indigenous slaves, right on top of our ancestral homeland. We don’t trace our roots back to the 13 colonies or to the so-called founding fathers. We trace our roots to these lands for thousands of years before July 4, 1776. We will truly be able to celebrate our independence when we regain our self-determination as a people. Today, we lack social, political and economic power in this country as a direct result of the settler colonial invasion so it would be nonsensical for us to celebrate “independence day.” We cannot celebrate the independence of our oppressors who continue to colonize us and treat us as foreigners on our own land.

Qazi: Independence means the ability to live freely and autonomously, to practice our faith without repercussions, to choose who represents us and to challenge those who don’t.

What are your thoughts about July 4, U.S. Independence day?

Aderer: It’s a day to commit to the true freedom which has not yet arrived.

Chimurenga: Afrikan people were not free on July 4, 1776. If you read Dr. Gerald Horne’s works, he argues U.S. independence from Britain was predicated on keeping my people enslaved. You know what Frederick Douglass said about the 4th of July, so you know what I think about the 4th of July.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Independence Day celebrates the July 4, 1776, issuance of “The Declaration of Independence” by the elite leaders of the 13 British colonies, declaring their intention to separate from the British Empire to form their own Anglo empire. I see it as a celebration of imperialism and colonialism. During the 8 years of counter-insurgent warfare that followed, mostly directed at the Native nations on the periphery of the colonies, the separatists created several land ordinances before the US was actually founded outlining their plans to seize Indigenous territories all the way to the Mississippi River with aspirations beyond to the Pacific. The other principal motive was the determination of the majority of the founders, who were wealthy slavers to maintain and expand an economy based on African bodies as capital and free (slave) African labor.

Genocide and slavery is what is celebrated on Independence Day.

Gochez: The 4th of July represents independence for the descendants of the colonists who broke away from their European brothers and sisters during the war. For Africans, Indigenous people and other people of color, we have never experienced that independence in this country but that’s why we remain in struggle and continue to fight to defend our rights here, inside of the U.S.

Qazi: July 4th to me represents an aspiration rather than a truth. Practically, it’s a time to spend with family and friends during this hot summer month.

The ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee nation by the U.S. Army, 1838. This painting, The Trail of Tears, was painted by Robert Lindneux in 1942. | Photo: Public Domain

At what moment did you realize that the 4th of July didn’t pertain to you and your people?

Aderer: I realized that the 4th of July didn’t apply to Asian Americans when I learned that my grandparents were incarcerated along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans solely because of their ethnicity.

RELATED:The US Political Scene: Whiteness and the Legitimacy Crisis of Global Capitalism

Chimurenga: Once I became a teenager and began to study my history. As a child I loved July 4th. Adults off from work, kids out of school, barbecue and fireworks at night. As I grew older I began to recognize the contradictions between the propaganda I was fed in school and popular culture, and my and my peoples’ lived experiences.

Dunbar-Ortiz: I always hated the 4th of July, but did not know why until I began studying history in my late teens in Oklahoma.

Gochez: I was never very patriotic growing up so I never celebrated the 4th of July but I did learn a lot a lot about my history and culture in my first year of college. I was able to clearly understand that the 4th of July didn’t have any positive effects on my family, my people or on any people of color.

What’s your opinion about the state of oppressed nationalities in the United States?

Aderer: Oppressed nationalities are continuing to grow in numbers in the U.S., but even as whites themselves become a minority, people of color will need to work and organize as never before to dismantle racism that has been systematized in our democracy (e.g. gerrymandering) and overcome the anti-democratic policy-making and state violence unleashed by white racists galvanized by demographic change.

Chimurenga: I think all oppressed nationalities are fighting a cultural/psychological war – a war that keeps us from understanding that we are oppressed nationalities with a right to fight for our self-determination; to fight for the freedom of our nation’s peoples.

Dunbar-Ortiz: The white nationalism upon which the United States was founded and all its political and cultural institutions fashioned expanded from Black and Indian-hating to Mexicans (taking half their territory between 1828 and 1848), then to (excluding) Chinese, to other darker people, with anti-Black racism maintaining a central place.

Gochez: All oppressed peoples in the United States share something in common – we all lack independence. We are systematically oppressed and the two-party system in this country is set up to maintain the status quo. For this and many other reasons, people of color who have been able to learn about the true history of this nation understand that we truly have very little to celebrate on the 4th of July.

Qazi: I don’t think anyone is truly free in this country, because even people who benefit from oppressive structures are chained to those structures, and can’t live a better reality.

Los Angeles protesters march against then-President-elect Donald Trump, November 16, 2016. | Photo: EFE

What should be done?

Aderer: Continue building resistance to today’s resurgence of racist, oppressive policymaking, with the understanding that it is not a sudden phenomenon and requires long-term strategy beyond any particular elected official’s term.

Chimurenga: I think that with the election of Donald Trump we are living in a very good time where we can easily draw out the contradictions of this government, but we have to organize better in our own communities to show our people what the alternative looks like.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Massive education, which will have to be done through popular education, first for social justice movements and organizations to understand the history, then build it into organizing projects that lead to dismantling the U.S. as it exists.

Gochez: As oppressed peoples, we need to continue to organize so that we can one day actually take back our freedom. We need to coordinate our work across various sectors in this country so that we can include the struggles of as many people as possible. Once we are united, we have to push to dismantle the current oppressive system that is in place in the United States and replace it with a government that will serve the needs of the masses of the people. In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh used the U.S. Declaration of Independence as a framework to declare independence for his own people when they were facing U.S. imperialism. We can and will do the same one day when we declare ourselves free and independent from U.S. capitalism and imperialism.

People protest the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, Sept. 22, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

What’s your impression of white Americans celebrating Independence Day and their collective denial to acknowledge the aspirations for freedom and independence of oppressed groups in the United States?

Aderer: It is a natural human reaction to the threat of embedded hegemony slipping away. As someone who carries various privileges and advantages from my own background, I need to view this denial with understanding, yet aid the forces of change that are developing a paradigm of national commemoration that can respect people of all backgrounds.

RELATED: A Relentless Will to Win: George Jackson and African Resistance

Chimurenga: I don’t think it’s surprising. It’s how all conquering civilizations and empires act.

Dunbar-Ortiz: White nationalism remains bedrock in the United States

Gochez: The masses of white Americans in the United States are themselves not fully aware of the real history and the devastation that was caused by the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of African peoples. For that reasons, they do not fully understand that their so-called independence comes at the direct expense of people of color. Without the genocide of the indigenous people and the blatant theft of their lands, how could there even be a United States today? Without slave labor, the U.S. would not have developed into the economic power that it is today because the foundation for the US economy was slavery. Today, those experiences are the reason why people of color are still at the bottom of the social strata in the United States. Any attempts from those groups to gain their own independence from the U.S. have been met with brutal violence that has included assassinations, beatings, disappearances, false incarceration, et cetera. So today, white Americans have to understand that the concept of independence is abstract to many people of color in the U.S. because since the birth of this nation we have not enjoyed that same independence.

Qazi: I don’t think people really use this holiday to raise their fists and declare “Yay! We’re free from British tyranny!” It’s a time for many people to wear their patriotism, whether true or farcical, on their sleeves. Otherwise, families just get together to barbecue and watch fireworks, and like so much in this country, the day is devoid of meaning.

Residents of Tule Lake War Relocation Authority Camp Block 42 who refused to sign the “Loyalty Questionnaire” and were collectively arrested and threatened at gunpoint by U.S. Army personnel. | Photo: Konrad Aderer

How does the U.S. media and education system inform the national and international community about “U.S. independence”?

Aderer: As the U.S. media and education system adapt and evolve to respect and incorporate previously suppressed histories into the retelling of U.S. independence, a more accurate understanding of the contradictions and uneven nature of revolutionary progress will inform a living history that can help our democracy move forward and not backward.

IN PICTURES: Iconic Photos of US Imperialism’s Perpetual War on the World

Chimurenga: The same way they inform the rest of the world about the United States way of life: that the United States is a superpower that it is superior and that this is who you want to be like. This is the land that you want to come to because the streets are paved with gold, the land of milk and honey and it is the standard-bearer for civilization and it is the standard-bearer for civilization, not just Western Civilization but World Civilization. The U.S. propaganda machine tells the world you want to be just like us. It is up to the rest of the world to reject and resist that narrative.

Dunbar-Ortiz: The U.S. media and educational system follow the official line of the heroism (“warts and all”) of the founding fathers and the nearly perfect system of government they devised.

Gochez: The US corporate media continues to provide grossly false information about the true nature of US independence. The media and the text books in the United States boast of freedom, equality, democracy, but in reality, those are concepts that have never truly existed for people of color in the United States. Even today, the majority of the people who are incarcerated in the US are people of color and the US continues to benefit financially from the economic exploitation of their labor. In terms of democracy, the world knows that the US has the least democratic electoral system of any of the so-called developed nations and that voter suppression of people of color is still a reality. The US is in no moral position to teach the world anything about independence and/or democracy.

A pro-Trump demonstrator yells during a demonstration in Portland, Oregon, June 4, 2017 | Photo: Reuters

How does your work help to resist the prevailing ideology underlying U.S. Independence Day?

Aderer: My work is making documentaries about the resistance of immigrant communities to policies of detention, profiling and criminalization and using them to inform and inspire current resistance movements. My current documentary, Resistance at Tule Lake, tells the long-suppressed story of 12,000 Japanese Americans who dared to resist the U.S. government’s program of mass incarceration during World War II. Branded as “disloyals” and re-imprisoned at Tule Lake Segregation Center, they continued to protest in the face of militarized violence, and thousands renounced their U.S. citizenship. Giving voice to experiences that have been marginalized for over 70 years, this documentary challenges the nationalist, one-sided ideal of wartime “loyalty.”

Chimurenga: Right now my work and activism primarily takes the form of writing – writing, as Toni Cade Bambara says, to “make revolution irresistible” – to not only show the contradictions of this white supremacist state but to show that it is absolutely illegitimate, that it must be resisted, that we have the right to resist, and that we can win.

Dunbar-Ortiz: I research, write books, contribute to Indigenous projects of sovereignty and decolonization, against police obsession/violence against descendants of enslaved African, carrying on the tradition for which they were founded in controlling enslaved Africans (slave patrols, 2nd Amendment to the Constitution).

What’s your message to the U.S. government this 4th of July?

Aderer: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Chimurenga: Your time is up. It may not happen tomorrow it may not happen this year it may not happen for another 5 years but your hegemony, your domination, your time, is coming to an end.

Dunbar-Ortiz: Capitalism must die for us to be free; meanwhile stop celebrating white nationalism with a federal holiday.

Gochez: We will continue to resist against the neo-fascist regime of Donald Trump and we will continue to organize in our communities so that one day we can truly celebrate our genuine independence. We will continue to raise consciousness so that the masses of working class people in the United States understand that the patriotism, the fireworks, the sales at the mall are all there to distract and confuse them about the true nature of this country.

We cannot celebrate independence while millions of poor people are locked up in prisons on poverty related crimes. We cannot celebrate independence while people of color are viciously killed on the streets of this country on a daily basis without any repercussions for the police officers who murder them. We cannot celebrate independence while millions of oppressed people – immigrants, LGBTQ, women – face systematic discrimination in this country.

We can’t celebrate independence until we are all truly free and independent.

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Canadian Government to Pay Former Guantanamo Child Prisoner $10 Million

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  • Omar Khadr, Guantanamo Bay
    Omar Khadr, Guantanamo Bay’s youngest prisoner, wins case with the Canadian government paying at least $10 million in compensation. | Photo: Reuters
Omar Khadr will also receive an apology from the Canadian government for wrongful imprisonment.

A man who spent a decade in a U.S. jail in Guantanamo Bay for the death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan will receive an apology and payout from the Canadian government for failing to protect a Canadian citizen.

RELATED:Undocumented Immigrant to Get $190k From San Francisco

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when speaking with Irish reporters refused to discuss the details of the agreement with Omar Khadr, simply confirming that justice will be done.

“There is a judicial process underway that has been underway for a number of years now, and we are anticipating like I think a number of people are, that that judicial process is coming to its conclusion,” he said.

In a firefight during the United States invasion of Afghanistan on July 27, 2002, 15-year-old Khadr was severely wounded. He was subsequently sent to the infamous Guantanamo Bay’s jail, where he was the facility’s youngest detainee.

Following his release in 2015, Khadr and his lawyers filed a CAD$20 million wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against the Canadian government claiming the country had violated international law by failing to protect its own citizens and conspiring with the United States by sharing evidence from the investigation.

According to reports from the Star, Khadr will not receive the CAD$20 million, however, his settlement will be at least CAD$10 million. Canadian authorities and Khadr’s team of lawyers negotiated the deal last month, AP reports.

RELATED:Terror Suspect Waterboarded 83 Times by CIA to Testify About Gitmo

In 2010, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that its intelligence agents had obtained evidence through “oppressive circumstances” during the then 15-year-old Khadr’s incarceration in 2003.

His case gained international attention when Canadian-born Khadr traveled with his father to fight in Afghanistan. After Khadr’s capture, the child soldier was later charged with the death of U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher Speer.

Khadr, accused of throwing the grenade that killed Speer, was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 10 years in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

With two years left on his sentence, Khadr was released on bail pending appeal to the Canadian Supreme Court, serving out the remainder of his sentence in his home country in 2015.

The former prisoner apologized to the families of the victims, stating his total rejection of violence. Khadr announced his engagement to the human rights activist responsible for his release and said he wanted to start fresh, finish his education and work in health care.

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35 Civilians Injured After Indian Forces Clash with Protesters in Kashmir

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35 Civilians Injured After Indian Forces Clash with Protesters in Kashmir

At least 35 civilians were injured after clashes broke out between protesters and security forces across the Indian-controlled Kashmir, police and witnesses said Tuesday.

The protests erupted after police raided Southern Bahmnoo village, police Inspector-General Muneer Ahmed Khan said. Witnesses said troops blasted and destroyed three civilian homes during the fighting, Star Tribune reported.

Khan said three people were killed during the fightings and soldiers were searching for the body of a fourth militant in the debris. At least six police and soldiers were injured in the fighting.

The gunfight triggered intense clashes after hundreds of civilians marched near the site to help the trapped militants escape.

Government forces fired bullets, shotgun pellets and tear gas to stop the march by rock-throwing protesters who were chanted slogans like “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom.”

At least 35 civilians were injured and five among them were reported to have sustained bullet wounds.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India forces and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants.

The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.

India and Pakistan control part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among the region’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the cause against Indian rule despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight the armed rebellion.

India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the kashmiri forces, which Pakistan denies.

Kashmiri groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.

Posted in India, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

Bin men strike over job losses and ‘bullying culture’

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Image result for Bin men are taking strike

Bin men are taking strike action after Birmingham city council announced job cuts, amid claims of ‘a bullying culture’ and financial ‘incompetence’.

121 waste collection jobs are under threat and Unite, the country’s largest union, accused the council of ‘playing fast-and-loose’ over the union’s genuine offer to engage in talks with the conciliation service, Acas.

The dates refuse workers will take strike action are:

  • Monday 3 July
  • Tuesday 11 July
  • Wednesday 19 July
  • Thursday 27 July
  • Friday 4 August

Birmingham City Council are urging residents to try to reduce the amount of waste they put in the bin.

Unite regional officer Lynne Shakespeare said:

Even at this 11th hour we call on the council, once again, to enter into talks with Acas, otherwise this dispute is set to escalate in the weeks ahead.

– LYNNE SHAKESPEARE, UNITE

Unite members voted by 90 per cent for strike action over proposed job cuts to the city’s waste and refuse service. The workers also voted by 93 per cent for industrial action short of a strike.

The council said it does have plans in place during the dispute, Council Corporate Director for Place, Jacqui Kennedy said:

As a council, we are facing significant financial challenges. Since 2010 all council services have been impacted by cuts to local government funding. In Birmingham our spending on waste management has reduced from £71million to £65million between 2011 and 2017.

These pressures mean that if we do nothing, the service is likely to overspend by £5.2million in future years…

… It is extremely important that we move away from relying on expensive agency staff. At the moment 200 out of 595 employees in refuse collection are hired from agencies. We intend to replace agency staff with up to 246 full-time staff employed directly by the council. All of these new permanent employees will enjoy the associated benefits that come with working for the council such as pension, holiday entitlement and sick pay.

– COUNCIL CORPORATE DIRECTOR FOR PLACE, JACQUI KENNEDY

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I$raHell efforts to hide Palestinians from view no longer fools young American Jews

Israel’s efforts to hide Palestinians from view no longer fools young American Jews

Jewish and Palestinian anti-occupation activists

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Few books on Palestinian history become bestsellers. But one, titled A History of the Palestinian People: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era, managed to rocket to the top of Amazon’s charts this month.

Its author, Assaf Voll, an Israeli academic, claims to have reviewed “thousands of sources” to explain “the Palestinian people’s unique contribution to the world and to humanity”.

However, when Amazon realised all the book’s 130 pages were blank, it hurriedly excised the title from its site. But not before hundreds of customers paid nearly $10 to enjoy the puerile joke. Speaking on Israeli radio, Voll observed: “Someone needs to tell them [the Palestinians] the truth, even if it hurts.”

Israelis in denial

A History of the Palestinian People has famous antecedents. In 1969, Golda Meir, then Israel’s prime minister, declared to the world: “There were no such thing as Palestinians.”

Fifteen years later, a book called From Time Immemorial won acclaim from scholars and newspapers across the United States. It argued that the Palestinians were not the native people of Palestine, but recent economic migrants taking advantage of advances made by the Ottoman Empire.

A talented Jewish doctoral student, Norman Finkelstein, exposed the book as a fraud and it was gradually forgotten.

But Voll’s approach echoes Israel’s popular historical narrative. In Israeli museums, the Palestinians’ presence is obscured with cryptic references to an “Ottoman” period. Like the Romans, Crusaders, Mamluks and British, the Ottomans are presented as temporary occupiers. Israeli politicians and media regularly speak of modern Palestinians as squatters and trespassers.

Israelis have been only too happy to make the Palestinians vanish. Who needs to feel guilty about the dispossession of hundreds of thousands of “Arabs” in 1948, or about Israel’s brutal domination of millions more for half a century in the occupied territories, if they had no right to be there in the first place?

The antidote to Voll’s empty book is a new anthology of essays, including by leading Jewish and Israeli writers, that never forgets the Palestinians’ deep roots in the land and keeps its gaze fixed on the crushing realities of Israel’s occupation.

Last week, Pulitzer prize-winning author Michael Chabon said he had faced a barrage of abuse since the publication of Kingdom of Olives and Ash, designed to warn off others from following in his footsteps.

Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan, whose book on a love affair between a Palestinian man and Jewish woman was recently banned from Israeli schools, observed that visiting the West Bank was a way of “taking off the blindfold and opening our eyes to what is happening around us”.

The Israel turn-off

One can understand why making the Palestinians invisible is the tactic of choice for Israel’s supporters. But a new report suggests that it would be wise for them to keep Israel in the shadows too.

The Brand Israel Group found that the more US college students knew about Israel, the less they liked it. In the six years to 2016, support for Israel among the next generation of Jewish leaders dropped precipitously, by 27 percentage points.

Traditionally, Israel has nurtured bonds to overseas Jews. Over the past 20 years the Birthright programme has brought half a million young American Jews on free summer trips to Israel for an intensive course of indoctrination.

The students are supposed to leave fervent ambassadors for Israel – or better still, devotees who will immigrate to help in a demographic war against the Palestinians.

But organisers are aware that a growing number sneak off afterwards into the occupied territories to discover first-hand a history their elders have kept from them. It can have a profound effect. Many get involved in protests in the occupied territories or become leaders of boycott activism against Israel on campuses back home.

Tellingly, when Israel announced earlier this year it was banning entry to foreigners who support the boycott movement, hundreds coming on this year’s Birthright signed a petition asking whether they would be allowed in.

Trouble ahead

Signs of Israel’s troubles with the next generation of American Jews are already apparent. They are at the heart of a new project near Hebron in the West Bank of non-violent direct action against the occupation. Sumud Freedom Camp – sumud is Arabic for steadfastness – is a project between Palestinians, Israelis and foreign Jews who refuse to turn a blind eye to Palestinian suffering. It offers a new model of joint protest.

These young Jews hope their presence will protect Palestinians trying to reclaim lands stolen by Israel. But the army has repeatedly torn down the camp. One American Jewish participant wrote in the Israeli media of how her experiences had disabused her of the image of Israeli soldiers as “superheroes who’d protect me from harm”.

Increasingly, American Jewry is becoming polarised, between an older generation whose ignorance allows them to advocate unthinkingly for Israel and a young generation whose greater knowledge has brought with it a sense of responsibility. In an ever-more globalised world, this trend is going to intensify.

Young American Jews will have to choose. Will they conspire, if only through their silence, in the erasure of the Palestinians carried out by Israel in their name? Or will they stand and fight, in the occupied territories, on campus, in their communities and, soon enough, in the corridors of power in Washington?

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

North Korea claims major breakthrough with first ICBM test

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North Korea’s declaration that it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile able to reach the US mainland triggered a joint Chinese-Russian appeal for a military freeze to lower the tension between Pyongyang and Washington.

Experts said the device could reach Alaska. The launch came as Americans prepared to mark Independence Day and sparked a Twitter outburst from President Donald Trump who urged China to act to “end this nonsense once and for all”.

The North’s possession of a working ICBM — something that Trump has vowed “won’t happen” — could be a game-changer for countries seeking to thwart the military goals of the isolated state.

China and Russia called for a moratorium on further missile and nuclear tests by Pyongyang after a meeting between leaders Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Moscow. They also called for a simultaneous suspension of large-scale US-South Korea military exercises.

“The opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful coexistence,” the joint statement said.

British foreign minister Boris Johnson asked the international community to “redouble its efforts to impose a price on this regime, which strains every nerve and sinew to build nuclear weapons and launch illegal missiles.”

The “landmark” test of a Hwasong-14 missile was overseen by leader Kim Jong-Un, an emotional female announcer said on state Korean Central Television.

The broadcaster showed his handwritten order to carry out the launch, and pictures of him grinning in celebration, clenching his fist.

The rocket was “a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world”, the announcer said, and “a major breakthrough in the history of our republic”.

The North’s Academy of Defence Science, which developed the missile, said it reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres and flew 933 kilometres, calling it the “final gate to rounding off the state nuclear force”.

There are still doubts whether the North can miniaturise a nuclear weapon sufficiently to fit it onto a missile nose cone, or if it has mastered the technology needed for it to survive the difficult re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

But it has made great progress in its missile capabilities since Kim came to power. He has overseen three nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches.

In response to the launch but before the announcement, Trump asked on Twitter: “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”

The United Nations has imposed multiple sets of sanctions on Pyongyang, which retorts that it needs nuclear arms to defend itself against the threat of invasion.

– ‘All of Alaska’ –

US Pacific Command confirmed the test and said it was a land-based, intermediate range missile that flew for 37 minutes before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, adding the launch did not pose a threat to North America.

Moscow’s defence ministry called it medium-range. But Tokyo — in whose exclusive economic zone it came down — estimated the maximum altitude to have “greatly exceeded” 2,500 kilometres, prompting arms control specialist Jeffrey Lewis to respond on Twitter: “That’s it. It’s an ICBM. An ICBM that can hit Anchorage not San Francisco, but still.”

David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote on the organisation’s allthingsnuclear blog that the available figures implied the missile had “a maximum range of roughly 6,700 km on a standard trajectory”.

“That range would not be enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but would allow it to reach all of Alaska.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters: “This launch clearly shows that the threat has grown.”

The US, Japan and South Korea will hold a summit on the issue on the sidelines of this week’s G20 meeting, he added. “Also I will encourage President Xi Jinping and President Putin to take more constructive measures.”

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In warned the North against crossing “the bridge of no return.”

– ‘Not wise’ –

Washington, South Korea’s security guarantor, has more than 28,000 troops in the country to defend it from its communist neighbour. Fears of conflict reached a peak earlier this year as the Trump administration suggested military action was an option under consideration.

There has also been anger in the United States over the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student detained in North Korea for around 18 months before he was returned home in a coma in June.

Trump has been pinning his hopes on China — North Korea’s main diplomatic ally — to pressure Pyongyang.

Last week he declared that Beijing’s efforts had failed, but returned to the idea on Twitter following the launch: “Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

Posted in North Korea0 Comments

Welcome to America: Disabled woman beaten bloody by TSA agents

NOVANEWS

Disabled woman beaten bloody by TSA agents after becoming confused and afraid at security checkpoint

 Raw Story

A disabled woman was beaten bloody by federal agents during an airport security screening while on her way to undergo treatment for a brain tumor.

Hannah Cohen set off the metal detector at a security checkpoint at the Memphis International Airport, and she was led away for additional screening, reported WREG-TV.

“They wanted to do further scanning, (but) she was reluctant — she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother, Shirley Cohen.

Cohen said she tried to tell agents with the Transportation Security Administration that her 19-year-old daughter is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed and easily confused — but she said police kept her away from the security agents.

The confused and terrified young woman tried to run away, her mother said, and agents violently took her to the ground.

“She’s trying to get away from them, but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor,” Cohen said. “There was blood everywhere.”

The young woman, who was returning home after finishing treatment for the brain tumor at St. Jude Hospital, was arrested and booked into jail.

Authorities eventually threw out the charges against Hannah Cohen, but her family has filed a lawsuit against Memphis police, airport police and the TSA.

Neither police department commented on the suit, but a spokesperson for the TSA said passengers should notify agents ahead of time if they have special needs.

“Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.

Watch this video report posted online by WREG-TV:

Posted in USA0 Comments

Empire Files: The Roots of the Philippines Trafficking Epidemic

NOVANEWS

Image result for Abby Martin CARTOON

In this sequel to “The Empire Files'” report on trafficked Filipina domestic workers, Damayan’s Linda Oalican provides a deeper context to the epidemic of human trafficking by guiding us through the history of colonialism, resistance and US domination of the islands.

From the centuries of Spanish rule and decades of US brutality, through the evisceration of the Philippine economy, this episode is a must-watch primer on why human beings are now the nation’s top export.

Watch Part I here.

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Re-Launching the Caribbean’s New World Journal

NOVANEWS
  • Thousands converged on Port-of-Spain to protest, Trinidad and Tobago, 1970.
    Thousands converged on Port-of-Spain to protest, Trinidad and Tobago, 1970. | Photo: Embau Moheni / NJAC
The New World Quarterly and the intellectual developments that followed the journal left an indelible mark on Caribbean intellectual thought.

The Caribbean and the developing world were places of high intellectual and political excitement by the late 1950s. Political leadership in the Caribbean was occupied by the likes of Norman Manley, Eric Williams, Cheddi Jagan and others.

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The debate of the British West Indies Federation initiated a popular conversation on “West Indian nationhood.” Intellectually, CLR James from Trinidad and Tobago emerged as a major Marxist theorist, while culturally a distinct “West Indian literature” and a sporting excellence via West Indies cricket helped bolster a “Caribbean consciousness.”

Internationally, Africa was on the rise, socialist Cuba was an inspiration and “the ghost of Marcus Garvey,” according to Norman Girvan, enriched the racial consciousness of the Black masses. While these events unfolded, the Faculty of Social Sciences was being established at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. It was against this backdrop that students at the UWI were articulating their political aspirations. By 1960-61, progressive faculty and students at the Mona Campus established the West Indian Society for the Study of Social Issues, the forerunner to the New World Group.

The New World group was formed in Georgetown, Guyana in 1962. In the same year, the first edition of the New World Quarterly was published. The group and its quarterly journal engaged in challenging imported and imposed conceptualizations of the economy, society, culture and politics and turn “epistemic dependency” on its head. The New World Group in many ways was the “gold standard of Caribbean intellectual development,” according to James Millette. The Pan-Caribbean approach of the membership and journal proposed regional solutions to regional problems. “Every Caribbean scholar should be a regionalist,” Gordon Lewis made clear in simple words. “Mental insularismo” undercuts the regional integration project and purpose. Pan-Caribbean approaches are inter-disciplinary, they cross linguistic boundaries, and grounds analyses in the context of hemisphere and not just the realities of a particular island or nation state.

The New World Quarterly and the intellectual developments that followed the journal left an indelible mark on Caribbean intellectual thought, especially in the field of economics. For example, the plantation thesis of society that examines the relationship between the mass of the population to land, the role of extractive industries and historical economic transitions fervently built on the potential of dependency thought. This interdisciplinary perspective draws on sociology, economics, history and anthropology to help explain the Caribbean economic dependence within the international capitalist system, the racial and class formations of the social structures within the region and the “Americas.” The intellectual movement also represented a challenge to the economic orthodoxy of the then ruling political class and the status quo of “foreign white academics” and European knowledge at the university.

Policy formation, the question of political activism and organizational weaknesses accelerated the decline of the New World group by the early 1970s.
New World proposals for land reform, nationalization and state-led development backfired on the group as the examples of Jamaica and Guyana in the 1970s exposed the severe limitations of these approaches when unmanaged. Caribbean paternalistic political culture and shortcomings in the technical capacity of the state at the time undermined the forecasted dividends of “radical” reform and greater state control of the economy. Girvan observed, “It is a moot point whether the policies followed by the Burnham and Manley administrations in the 1970s were those that were actually advocated, or intended, by the New World Group. What mattered is the perception that they were. The status of ideas became linked to the status of regimes that were perceived to be putting them into practice.”

Lloyd Best’s assertion that “Thought is the action for us,” has been popularly misinterpreted as an expression of disengagement with movements of the time. Rather, the statement affirms the role of ideas in the process of social change and transformation, and the labor to produce ideas relevant to the Caribbean context was both a political act and worthy of pursuing. However, this posture did not accommodate the rapid changes that the late 1960s and 1970s created, especially in Trinidad and Tobago’s Black Power Revolution.

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The New World group was recognized for its stellar contribution to the intellectual development of the region. But the focus on the historical-structural formations of society did not take up issues of personal, collective and systemic empowerment as the feminist movement would have done in the decade to follow after. Empowering people through organizations are central to the sustenance of movement building.

Gita Sen and Caren Grown wrote, “Empowerment of organizations, individuals and movements has certain requisites. These include resources (finance, knowledge, technology), skills training, and leadership formation on the one side; and democratic processes, dialogue, participation in policy and decision-making, and techniques for conflict resolution on the other.”

Organizing skills, when taken up seriously, develop the long-term viability of movements and grows the potential for radical change beyond a moment, phase or historical opportunity.

Ultimately, there was a split in the group. These views helped solidify Trevor Munroe’s Marxist critique of the New World as a group of bourgeois idealists. Girvan identifies the split in the group as a conflict between the decision of members to be involved in direct political action or intellectualism. The question of political action was also tied to the question of “independent thought” in the Caribbean. Marxist responses to the New World poked at its rejection of “foreign ideologies” contending that social conditions are not exclusively unique to the region and cultural comparisons from “outside” provide frameworks of interpreting the society.

The political utility and intellectual credentials of the New World were ultimately in question. While neither the Marxists nor the New World proponents were completely right or wrong in their assertions, a major cost of this breakdown was the decline in the radical search for Caribbean solutions engineered for Caribbean problems. Dogmatism and ideological certitude on both sides were unproductive to each of their causes in the eyes of history.

The shortcomings of the New World group do not outweigh the valuable impact the movement made to Caribbean transformation. The volunteer effort of the young academics, transnational distribution of journals via suitcase and “friend-of-a-friend” marketing and the influencing of state policy and course curricula in the university for at least two decades are no small order. Many young people of my generation do not know a thing about the New World and many do not share their sense of purpose now. For these reasons, the effort of the Girvan family to launch an open-access web-based platform for the New World Journals on June 23, 2017, was promising. Lloyd Best, George Beckford, Kari Levitt, Norman Girvan, James Millette, Alister McIntyre, and the many others now have a better chance to be taken up by Caribbean youth today.

I felt disheartened that one of the most prolific intellectual movements in the Caribbean let itself go into obsolescence at the launch of the website. Apart from the external and sociological conditions that impair its abilities, personality conflicts and posturing served the final blows. The dissolution of the British West Indies Federation, the achievement of independence and the birth of a higher level of intellectual and popular consciousness should not have signaled the demise of groups such as the New World.

The failures of a generation before me are also our inheritance. We must learn, if not remember, that stepping forward in history includes looking back. The launch of the New World Journal is not a debt we are paying to those who came before, it is an investment in our future.

Posted in Politics0 Comments

Marcus Garvey’s Economic Philosophy Has a Capitalism Problem

NOVANEWS
Marcus Garvey’s Economic Philosophy Has a Capitalism Problem
Garveyites must place the question of the destruction of capitalism at the center of their organizing program for African liberation.

The controversy surrounding the May 19 unveiling of a bust of Jamaica’s first national hero and Pan-Africanist Marcus Mosiah Garvey on the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has led some Garveyites and Pan-Africanists to call for the study and use of his philosophy in the service of African liberation.

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Garveyites are up in arms about the Raymond Watson’s created bust of Garvey that bears no resemblance to the most common photographic (re)presentations of this exponent of African Nationalism and racial uplift.

Retired UWI professor and organic intellectual Carolyn Cooper captures mass sentiments on this bust when she states in the article “Taking Liberties with Marcus Garvey” that:

Raymond Watson’s image of Garvey reveals nothing of the authority, passion and power of more full-bodied representations of our national hero. I wouldn’t go as far as cancer. But Garvey seems poorly. His posture conveys passivity. He looks like a weakling. Who approved this diminished portrayal?

Professor Archibald McDonald, pro-vice-chancellor and principal of UWI praised the legacy of Garvey’s anti-colonial, anti-racist and African liberation legacy.

At the ceremony marking the launch of the bust, Professor McDonalds stated that “In supporting the realisation of this monument to be unveiled, it is our hope that students, faculty members, and visitors to the campus will see a vision of self, one of greatness that breaks the mental and physical chains of oppression that try to tell us that we are anything but worthy and proud.”

However, we cannot use Garvey’s message of liberation to break “mental and physical chains of oppression” without acknowledging and discussing the fact that Marcus Garvey’s philosophy has a capitalism problem.

When many Pan-Afrikanists engage in conversations about Marcus Garvey and the achievements of his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), they usually express unbridled praise for the economic development approach of the organization and its founder. But the devil is always in the details.

Marcus Garvey was born on August 17, 1887, in a racist, colonial environment that was hostile to the interests of African-Jamaicans. During the years 1910-1914, Garvey traveled to a number of countries in Latin America and Europe and this experience brought a high level of awareness of the exploited condition of Africans. Garvey created the UNIA in July 1914 in Jamaica and went to the United States in March 1916.

The United States became the organization’s headquarters and prime site of its success and failure. According to Garvey in the book “The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” by 1921 the UNIA had “900 branches and with an approximate membership of 6,000,000.” Garvey’s claim about the number of members has not been independently confirmed.

Garvey’s commitment to self-reliance and liberation of the global African community led him to place a strong emphasis on business development. In “Philosophy and Opinions” Garvey declares that, “Chance has never yet satisfied the hope of a suffering people. Action, self-reliance, the vision of self and the future have been the only means by which the oppressed have seen and realized the light of freedom.”

Self-reliant economic development is actually a key element of an oppressed group’s strategy to develop the alternative economic institutions and practices today, which will serve as the seeds of the liberated society of tomorrow. Collective self-reliance will bolster the extent to which an oppressed group or country is able to withstand the pressure or punishment of its enemies.

In the promotion of self-reliance and economic development, Garvey presented a compelling vision of racial upliftment to the laboring classes. He believed that the African working-class could be mobilized behind an anti-colonial project. C.L.R. James remarked on Garvey’s ability to inspire and organize the Afrikan masses:

He deliberately aimed at the poorest, most downtrodden and humiliated Negroes. The millions who followed him, the devotion and the money they contributed, show where we can find the deepest strength of the working class movement, the coiled springs of power which lie there waiting for the party which can unloose them.

Even before the independence movements or national liberation struggles in Africa and the Caribbean, Garvey demonstrated the possibility of bringing the people onto the stage of history. However, retired UWI Professor Rupert Lewis and Garvey expert reported in his text “Marcus Garvey: Anti-Colonial Champion” that the now defunct Workers Party of Jamaica saw the Garvey movement as an ‘alliance of the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie albeit under petty bourgeois leadership.’

In the effort to ‘create a new people,’ Garvey practiced a race-first economic development framework. The late Garvey scholar Tony Martin provides a scope of the UNIA’s portfolio of businesses in his book “Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Improvement Association.” The UNIA operated laundries, tailoring business, grocery stores, printing press, doll making company, the Negro World newspaper, a hat making establishment, shipping company, restaurants and a hotel. It had assets such as trucks and buildings and hundreds of employees.

The range of businesses operated by UNIA is still impressive to many Pan-Africanists, but they are not mindful of the lessons that should be learned from the UNIA and Garvey’s business practices.

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W.E.B. Du Bois’s article “Marcus Garvey” in the book “Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa” outlines Garvey and the UNIA’s lose financial management practices, inexperience in the shipping business that led to buying unworthy ships at inflated prices, Garvey’s top-down management and leadership style, no knowledge of the “investment of capital and (Garvey had) few trained and staunched assistants” to operate the Black Star Line, the flagship enterprise of the UNIA.

In spite of the positive elements of economic Garveyism, it is not appropriate for African liberation in the 21st century. Many current Garveyites tend to ignore the fact that Garvey’s economic development approach was based on reproducing the exploitative system of capitalism, which would continue to oppress the Afrikan working-class.

Our engagement with capitalism, as enslaved Africans and wage-slaves today, provides us with lived experience of this economic system that puts profit before the needs of the people. Furthermore, capitalism enables the ruling-class minority to economically, socially and politically dominate the working-class majority.

Garvey was quite insistent that capitalism was the path to economic development. In the book “Message to the People: The Course of African Philosophy,” he had this to say about capitalism:

“As a fact, the capitalist of today was the labourer or worker of yesterday…. Hence, the man who wants to go into business commercially, industrially or agriculturally, and win a fortune for himself, cannot and should not be a Communist, because Communism robs the individual of his personal initiative and ambition or the results thereof. Democracy (interchangeable with capitalism), therefore, is the kind of government that offers the individual the opportunity to rise from a labourer to the status of a capitalist or employer.”

In “Philosophy and Opinions” Garvey asserts that, “Capitalism is necessary to the progress of the world, and those who unreasonably and wantonly oppose or fight against it are enemies to human advancement.” Garvey naively called for the state to place constraints on “capitalistic interests.” He might have been unaware of the fact that the state serves and protects the interests of the economic elite.

Du Bois’s “new economic solidarity” proposal of the 1930s is still relevant to Afrikan liberation. It called for the creation of a network of consumer cooperatives in order to meet the need of Afrikan-Americans for goods, services and employment. Du Bois promoted his program as a way to advance Afrikan political empowerment and challenge the dog-eat-dog system of capitalism. You may explore Du Bois’s cooperative economic thoughts in “A Negro Nation Within the Nation” in the book “W.E.B. Du Bois Speaks: Speeches and Addresses, 1920-1963.”

Garveyites and other Pan-Africanist must place the question of the destruction of capitalism at the center of their organizing program for African liberation. Such a course of action calls for the recognition of class division within the African race and the need for us to recognize the class struggle between the African laboring classes and African capitalist exploiters.

Our interrogation and critique of Garvey’s capitalism problem does not repudiate useless elements within his outlook on African liberation. We are simply disassociating ourselves from his enthusiastic support for capitalism that is the enemy of the African working-class in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora.

Capitalism is incompatible with human progress and emancipation. Therefore, all people of good conscience must commit themselves to casting this barbaric and soul-destroying economic system into the cesspool of history.

On the matter of the UWI’s Garvey bust, the intense and widespread opposition to this sculpture has led to UWI’s commitment to take it down and replace it with a bust that is reflective of a realistic representation of the Garvey that exists in the popular imagination.

We should not allow this controversy to go to waste. Revolutionary Pan-Africanists and progressive Garveyites should use it to explore a transitional economic development path that rejects capitalism and embraces the self-organization of the laboring classes in the economic, social, cultural and political spheres.

Rupert Lewis offers a challenge to the folks who are focused on how close the statue resembles Garvey as well as UWI’s administrators to address a more concrete question that has relevance to the laboring classes in Africa and the Caribbean.

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Lewis asserts that “Our focus should be centered on the creation of programs within the UWI that can tackle the development problems of Africa and the Caribbean in the 21st century.”

Many of us are too fixated on symbols and the seductiveness of one-off protest actions, which do not demand the time, dedication and commitment that come with organizing in membership-based organizations with regular programs, projects and/or an institution-building mandate.

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