Archive | August 18th, 2018

India: Attack on Umar Khalid Is A Consequence of Incitement By The Modi Government

The attack on Umar Khalid is a consequence of the relentless campaign of fake news, hate speech and incitement to murderous violence, directed by the Modi Government and the Godi Media against students, academics, activists, dissenters and journalists.

Umar Khalid, who has just submitted his PhD in JNU, is an activist who along with other JNU students was cast in the role of the ‘anti-national’ by Godi Media channels after 9 February 2016. Zee News ran videos which have subsequently been proven as fake, claiming he and other JNU students raised ‘anti-India’ slogans. While other students too faced such targeting, Umar was especially viciously singled out for Islamophobic slander by the hate-mongers as a Muslim. News X ran a story claiming Umar was a “Jaish-e-Mohammed sympathizer” – videos with anchors of this channel spreading this poisonous slander can still be found online. None less than the Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, declared on the strength of a parody account that JNU students like Umar were backed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed. A prominent anchor of the India Today channel also cited the same parody account as proof of LeT “backing” for JNU students.

In the two years since February 2016, channels like Times Now and Republic have targeted JNU students as well as Left and democratic activists countless times as “Tukde Tukde Gang” (based on the fake video claiming to show JNU students raising slogans calling for the dismemberment of India). The Republic channel has even referred to a Politburo member of the CPI(ML) and AIPWA leader as a ‘lawyer for the Lashkar-e-Taiba’.

The JNU Administration recently sought to punish JNU students including Umar Khalid for “anti-national” activities on 9 February 2016 in JNU– sparking another round of vicious and gleeful gloating by the Godi Media channels. The Delhi High Court reprimanded the JNU Administration and prevented any JNU student from being punished. In Court, it was shown that even a Magisterial Enquiry into the incident failed to show any evidence of guilt of any JNU student, and that the Delhi Police, for want of any evidence, has failed to file a chargesheet against any of the JNU students in the past two years.

Khalid has earlier too complained of threats to his life. It is this climate of relentless hate-speech and fake news that has resulted in the shocking incident where a gunman could attack Umar Khalid in broad daylight in front of Delhi’s Constitution Club, and make his escape unhindered in spite of the “tight security cover” and “terror alert” in Delhi just days before Independence Day!

Expectedly, the BJP’s New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, while paying lip service to the cause of justice and saying the perpetrators would be identified and punished, has indulged in victim blaming, claiming the attack on Umar is “sensationalism” and “drama”. Meanwhile, the BJP IT Cell army on social media are claiming the incident was ‘staged’ while also celebrating the attack and calling for Umar and others like him to be killed. In the same way, the BJP IT Cell Twitter handles backed by the PM and Cabinet Ministers celebrated the assassination of Gauri Lankesh.

It must be remembered that just days ago, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) busted a terror cell of the Sanatan Sanstha – a shadowy terrorist organization implicated in bomb blasts and several assassinations – of rationalist Dabholkar, communist writer Pansare, Professor Kalburgi, and journalist Gauri Lankesh. The ATS discovered bombs and explosives and arrested three Sanatan Sanstha men on charges of planning a series of terror attacks all over Maharashtra. One of these men is also linked to the Shri Shivpratisthan Hindustan, an outfit led by Sambhaji Bhide, one of the key architects of anti-Dalit violence following the Bhima Koregaon events.

Narendra Modi, in June 2013, sent a message to the All India Hindu Convention hosted by the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samiti in Goa, in which he described these terrorist organisations as inspired by “nationalism, patriotism and the tradition of loyalty.” He did so because in the eyes of his organisation the RSS and his party BJP, Sanghi terrorists are ‘nationalists’ because the only nation they recognize is the Hindu Rashtra. The RSS and BJP support terrorists who seek to finish the incomplete task of Partition and turn India into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ in which Muslims will no longer be equal citizens. Modi has also publicly greeted Sambhaji Bhide as his guru and mentor during the 2014 campaign for the Parliamentary elections.

Media in India failed to demand that the Modi Government comment on such terrorism by ideological allies and friends of the Prime Minister himself. The TV channels which brand JNU students and Left activists as ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ fail to utter a word on the Sanghi terror outfits that are actually out to partition and divide India once again. The same media and the Modi Government are also silent when anti-reservation outfits openly burn the Constitution of India in the national capital as well as Pune. No doubt, their silence is on account of the fact that the RSS and BJP would like to replace the Constitution drafted by Ambedkar, with the Manusmriti that Ambedkar burnt. This is why those Manuvadis who burn the Constitution and raise slogans abusing Dalits and Ambedkar in casteist terms, are not accused of seeking to dismember India!

Acts like the burning of the Constitution at Parliament Street and the attempt to murder Umar Khalid outside Constitution Club days before Independence Day are not the work of ‘fringe groups’ – they are clear messages by India’s fascists that democracy and the Constitution are in their firing line. For India’s people, there can be no greater or more urgent task, no better way of paying tribute to the great legacy of the anti-colonial freedom struggle, than defeating these fascist forces who betrayed the freedom struggle and seek to divide and rule India today.

Jail Varo 9 August, Bihar

Lakhs of farmers came out on the streets to make a resounding success of the Jail Bharo Andolan on 9 August 2018 against the imperialist and pro-corporate Modi government, a fitting way to remember the anti-imperialist Quit India movement against British rule. The All India Kisan Mahasabha had called for the Jail Bharo Movement against anti-farmer policies of the Modi Government.

AIKM ORISSA

Farmers expressed their willingness to get rid of the current regime which continues to exploit the farmers in order to fill coffers of the rich and wealthy, under the call of the Kisan Mahasabha and organized organized effective programmes in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Odisha, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and other States.

AIKM Maharastra

Farmers affiliated to other peasants’ organisations which are part of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee also came out and in more than 450 Districts across the country they voiced their long pending unfulfilled demands again.

In Bihar thousands of farmers, majority of them sharecroppers, courted arrest and sent memorandums to the President and Prime Minister through District and Zonal Officers with the following demands: complete loan waivers for all farmers including sharecroppers; profitable price for crops as per the Swaminathan Commission; stop evicting the poor without first making alternative arrangements; repair defunct tube wells; adequate irrigation arrangements; end farmers’ suicides; guarantee crop protection against stray cattle and animals; release of dalits and poor thrown into jail under the liquor ban; ending eviction of the poor and guaranteeing land for the landless. Lakhs of farmers at various places including Masaurhi and Paliganj in Patna Rural, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Bhabhua, Darbhanga, Daudnagar, Hajipur, Purnea, Beguserai, Bhagalpur, Jehanabad, Arwal, Siwan, Motihari, Betiya, Samastipur, Jamui, Nalanda, Hilsa came out in Jail Bharo Movement and courted arrest. AIKM General Secretary Rajaram Singh said that the Modi government has betrayed the farmers by ignoring their demands for loan waiver and 1.5 times crop price. He warned that if the government continues to disregard the farmers’ demand an even bigger agitation would be organized.

AIKM Haryana

Farmers courted arrest at Karnal in Haryana. Addressing the protest, National Vice President Com. Prem Singh Gehawat said that the government is bent on handing over agriculture to multinational companies and is ignoring the farmers’ demands for loan waivers and minimum support price. He said that farming would always remain a loss-making venture unless cost of land, rent and domestic labour are not included in the calculation of crop price outlay. Kisan Mahasabha activists held a rally and a meeting and burnt the effigy of the government making a 9-point charter of demands: complete loan waivers; minimum support price; increase in MNREGA budget; lift ban on cattle trade; land for the landless, unemployment allowance and old age pension; stop oppression of dalits, women and Christians. Farmers in large numbers attended the protest from Karnal, Sonepat, Yamunanagar, Agaund and other places.

AIKM Punab

Hundreds of Kisan Mahasabha activists courted arrest in Mansa, Sangrur, Barnala, Bhatinda, Faridkot, Gurdaspur and Ludhiana in Punjab. They were arrested by the police and released after a while. The programmes were jointly organized by AIKM and its constituent member Punjab Kisan Union Ekta. A farmers’ convention was also organized in Ludhiana.

Protests were organized across Jharkhand. At Bagodar CPI(ML) and Kisan Mahasabha activists held a march from Kisan Bhawan through the entire Bazaar and JT Road crossing for hours. Speakers addressing the protest also raised demands of proper compensation to farmers by the GAIL Gas Pipe Line Company, and strict action against the guilty in the Muzaffarpur and Deoria Shelter Homes sexual violence. All the activists were arrested and taken to Bagodar Thana from where they were released after due process.

AIKM JHARKHAND

At Garhwa hundreds held a march from Indira Gandhi Park to the Collectorate, raising slogans on the issues of loan waivers, arrears payment to farmers, free seeds for alternative farming, withdrawal of Land Acquisition Amendment Bill, and implementation of Swaminathan Commission recommendations. District Secretary Com. Kalicharan Mehta said that the farmer who feeds the country is forced to commit suicide but the government is peddling a blatant lie that farmers’ income has doubled. He said that the people of Jharkhand would strongly oppose the BJP government’s move to snatch land from farmers in Godda and hand it over to the Adani group. Com. Virendra Chaudhury said that the government had targeted sowing of paddy crops in 54,000 hectares of land but not even 20% has been achieved. A 10 point memorandum was sent to the Prime Minister. They also raised the issue of construction of check dams on Sukhda canal in Vishnupura and Bandarchuan canal at Sigsiga in Chiniya Block; construction of canal from Annaraj dam to Dumro in Narayanpur via Obra and Veerbandha; enquiry into the faulty repair works at the Panghatwa dam canal; guarantee of 20 hours electricity at affordable rates; lift ban on cattle trade; end mob lynching; stop slapping false cases in the name of smuggling and guarantee of crop purchase at the price as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations. Thousands responded to the call in Koderma, Ramgarh, Giridih, Sariya, Birli, Rajdhanwar, Guma, Teesri, Jamua, Garhwa, Barkatta, Dhuri, Jhumri, and Palamu.

AIKM WB

In Andhra Pradesh, the call was observed in Guntur, East Godavari, Vishakhapatnam, Kadapa, Anantapur and other districts. Thousands were arrested in Kakinada, Tenali, Mangalageri and several other places. In West Bengal, farmers courted arrest in Siliguri, Bankura, Kalna-Bardhaman, Chuchura in Hooghly, Krishnanagar-Nadiya, Barasaat in North 24 Pargana, Howrah, South 24 Pargana, Murshidabad, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur. In Siliguri joint programmes were organized by AIKM and the tea estate workers.

Andhra

In Tripura, protests were held in Koyala town, Dahram Nagar, Agartala, Gomti and other places.

In Rajasthan, AIKM and CPI(ML) organized protests and courted arrest in Jhunjhunu, Buhana, Khetri, Salumbar, and Pratapgarh. In Udaipur the demonstration organized by the CPI(ML) was attacked by the lumpens associated to the ruling BJP. Several protestors were physically injured.

AIKM UP

In Uttar Pradesh, thousands of farmers participated in the Jail Bharo programme in Chandauli, Mirzapur, Lakhimpur Kheeri, Devariya, Baliya, Sitapur, Mau, Rai Bareilly, Mathura, Sonbhadra, Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Gazipur and other places.

In Assam, Uttarakhand and Odisha too, the call saw a huge participation by farmers at several places. In Maharashtra, hundreds of farmers marching under the banner of AIKM came out on streets in Ahmed Nagar and Sakuri.

The role of the left forces in organizing and providing direction to the farmers’ movement in the country was demonstrated through the massive response to the programme. The programme further showed that there was a tremendous need to join hands with fighting farmer organizations and launch joint initiatives for strengthening the farmers’ movements.

AIKM ASSAM
Banaras

With the exposure of the Deoria Girls’ Shelter Home sexual violence story on similar lines to that in the Muzaffarpur Shelter home in Bihar, the CPI(ML) demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and called for statewide protests on 8 August 2018. Earlier, on the day following the breaking of the story in newspapers, the AIPWA District unit at Deoria held protests and burnt the CM’s effigy on 7 August. On 8 August a march was held in Lucknow from Lalkuan to the Hussainganj Chowk where the CM’s effigy was burnt. On the same day a protest march was again held at Deoria starting from the AIPWA office and culminating at the District HQ where a memorandum addressed to the Governer was submitted.

Through these protests demands were made for the resignation of the Yogi government, a CBI enquiry into the matter monitored by the High Court, the missing girls to be produced, and strict action against and punishment for the guilty.

Protest marches, meetings and effigy burnings were also organized at Varanasi and Mau where effigies were burnt and resignations of CM Adityanath and women welfare minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi were demanded. In Ghazipur District protests were organized at Jamania, Bhadora and Khanpur and memorandums were submitted to the District Magistrate. A protest was held at Mirzapur. The CPI(ML), AIPWA and RYA protested jointly at Sakaldiha and Chahaniya in Chandauli District. Protests were also organized at Raebareli, Lakhimpur Kheeri, Urai in Jalaun, Mathura, Kanpur and Allahabad.

Meanwhile, a CPI(ML) comprised of State Committee members Om Prakash Singh and Shriram Chaudhary along with local comrades visited that shelter home in Deoria which has been sealed now. Local people told them that persons in luxury vehicles (maybe officials or political leaders) used to frequent the place in the evenings. The girls have been sent to the Shelter Home in Varanasi by the administration.

The martyrdom day of CPI(ML) Founder General Secretary Comrade Charu Mazumdar was observed on 28 July 2018.

In Bihar party activists paid tribute to Charu Mazumdar at the State Party office in capital Patna as well as other places. Com. Ramjatan Sharma said that Charu Mazumdar was a visionary who brought together farmers, workers, students and youth for the cause of revolution, breaking the indifference towards social change and laying the foundations of political and social change. Comrade Kunal said that the ruling classes including the Congress thought to crush revolutionary Communist ideology with the killing of Charu Mazumdar but they did not succeed. Today the Communist and Left ideology is the strongest weapon against the dark fascist forces who are ruling the country.

In Darbhanga a District level activists’ convention was organized during which preparations for the huge rally on 27 September under the ‘Oust BJP Save Democracy’ campaign were discussed. Responsibilities were also fixed for the success of the Jail Bharo Movement to be held on 9 August during which the following issues would be raised: complete loan waivers for farmers. Speaking on the occasion Dhirendra Jha strongly condemned the sexual violence and rapes perpetrated in the Shelter Homes at Muzaffarpur and other places and said even after the resignation of minister Manju Verma under the pressure of the movement, the state government is explicitly involved in protecting the culprits. He demanded that another minister Suresh Sharma, close to the accused Brajesh Thakur, must also resign if the CBI enquiry is to be free and fair. The convention was attended by hundreds of activists.

The CPI(ML) and Jan Sanskriti Manch observed the 46th anniversary of Charu Mazumdar’s martyrdom as Sankalp Diwas at the Lenin Book Centre in Lucknow. Speaking on the occasion Arun Kumar, Ramesh Singh

Senger, poet Kaushal Kishore and JSM State convener Com. Shyam Ankuram discussed his political, ideological and organizational contribution. The speakers pointed out that Charu Mazumdar recognized that the landless and poor farmers are the pivot of revolution and therefore called on students and youth to go to the villages and integrate themselves with the peasants. Despite extreme repression, Naxalbari is still alive and is at the forefront in the fight against corporate fascism today. Kaushal Kishore presented two poems composed by him, ‘Gaate Hue’ and ‘Swapn Abhi Adhura Hai’.

Charu Mazumdar’s martyrdom day was observed in Allahabad and tributes paid to the great revolutionary. Ramji Rai said that the Party started by Charu Mazumdar has made a mark for itself today as a national Party and we must strengthen the organization in order to fight the fascist forces of BJP-RSS effectively.

Tea workers

Workers in tea gardens of both West Bengal and Assam are a famished lot. After Indian Railways, Tea is among the biggest industries in terms of providing employment in the land where millions of workers are regularly deprived even of subsistence wages and suffer from starvation deaths, not restricted only to abandoned or locked out tea gardens.

To counter the myth of non-realization of profits by the employers and their perpetual backlash against workers’ demand even for the realization of a Minimum Wage, 29 trade unions operating in tea sector of West Bengal joined hands to create a ‘Joint Forum’ way back in 2014 through a workers’ convention at Chalsa in Dooars region of the tea belt in North Bengal. In the wake of a vibrant workers’ solidarity movement, the Mamata Banerjee led TMC govt. assured the unions to implement minimum wages for the first time in the history of more than 150 years tea industry in Bengal and a tripartite agreement was signed to that end on 20 February 2015. Similar demand for wages has also been raised continuously in Assam’s tea gardens.

All through the last three and half years, Joint Forum could achieve a degree of acceptance among 4.5 lakh tea workers of Bengal as it treaded the path of united mass movements. But the demands for Minimum Wages, realization of the monetized value of their legitimate rations as provided earlier as part of wage, a tract of homestead land for permanent workers, opening of closed estates and enhancing the retirement age of permanent workers from the present 58 years to 60 years etc. remained a chimera due to behind the curtain deals between the state govt. and the employers.

Cha Shramik

The labour directorate of the state ultimately placed an amount of Rs. 172 as being the proposed Minimum Wage, notwithstanding the very basics of Minimum Wage calculations. They completely fumbled and ignored to consider the base index of Industrial workers, the considered quantity of balanced food basket, the monetized value of fuel and electricity as 20% weightage and 25% more to add as cost price of education, health, old age provisions etc. to keep afloat the employers’ excessive profit ratio. The constituent unions of Joint Forum placed before the labour secretary their considered calculation to continue the negotiations. But he unilaterally called it quits, leaving aside the tripartite parley in scramble. To fight back the sabotage by the employers and to compel the labour directorate to announce an acceptable structure of Minimum Wage, the Joint Forum (Tarai Sangrami Cha Shramik Union, affiliated to AICCTU being one of the constituents) gave a call for 3-days strike in the tea sectors of Bengal on 7-8-9 August 2018 and asked the workers of every tea gardens both from the hills and the plains to take to the streets to start a long march to reach chief minister Mamata’s  Mini-Secretariat ‘Uttorkanya’ at Siliguri.

Such massive and unprecedented workers’ march was barricaded and stopped with much trouble by the police administration at 48 different points and intimidations ensued to stall the strike mid-way. Undaunted the strikers went ahead with the scheduled timeframe of the movemental activities. Dispatch of finished tea consignments was blocked by workers in the gardens. The labour minister of the state convened an emergency meeting, but only with the employers and few leaders from ruling party unions on 16 August which was, as expected, proved useless. The Joint Forum now planning to escalate the movement in the last week of August if the state govt. fails to finalise a revised Minimum Wage structure for the struggling tea workers of Bengal.

Tea Workers Rally
AICCTU Led

On 13 August 2018, workers’ union of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), held an angry sit in protest outside the Labour Department Office demanding equal pay for equal work, legally mandated minimum wage and that their jobs are regularized. The protesting workers shared that in absence of regularization, job security, benefits like ESI, PF etc. remain denied to them. The contract system is extremely exploitative and encourages disproportionate and unequal payments. Com. Clifton Rozario, CC member of CPI(ML) said that “They are getting salaries of 6000 and 7000 which is much below the notified minimum wage. It is very difficult to survive on that.” He added that the workers who had been outsourced by the BWSSB were not getting minimum wages. There is a huge discrepancy between the salaries given to regular and contract employees even as the law mandates equal pay for equal work. Protestors met the Labour Commissioner and seeing the strength and resolve of the protest he issued notice to the BWSSB, which he ought to have done much earlier as this is his job to look after welfare and implementation of the legal rights of workers. A meeting on the issue has been called by the Labour Commission on August 17 to discuss the matters further. Hundreds of workers participated in the protest and threatened to launch an indefinite strike if their demands were not fulfilled.

AISA Char Saal

In order to have a critical assessment of government’s policy towards the students and youth of the country, AISA has taken up a survey campaign which will be taken among the students of Delhi University. The campaign will simultaneously be taken to students and youths nationally. The ‘Report Card’ will find out to what extent did the Modi government fulfil the promises it made to the students and youths of this country. The Report Card will test the reality of Delhi University based on the following criteria:

AISA

1) Jobs and Placements: While PM Modi promised to create 2 crore new jobs per year, the rate of unemployment has grown in the year 2017-18 from 4.7 to 6 % (source – CMIE). Despite being the best UG University in India, most colleges in DU have non-functioning placement cells with no job guarantee.

2) Scarcity of Hostels for Students: Out of more than 1.5 lakh DU students, only 4000 students get hostels. Despite more than approx 100 acres lands available, government has not constructed any hostel. It’s unwillingness to implement Rent Regulation Act has led to almost two fold increase in the last four years.

3) Transportation Facility for Students: In the last four years Metro fares have been hiked by over 100 percent and students are forced to pay more than 100 per day on transportation.

4) Fee Hike: In the last four years college fee has been approximately doubled yet most colleges have acutely inadequate permanent teaching faculties, classrooms, libraries, labs, sports grounds and facilities, activity and common rooms. Despite the farce of NAAC inspection and high rankings, DU colleges face acute shortage of permanent teaching faculty and almost 4,500 teachers are working on ad hoc basis (approx. 50 %).

5) Women Safety: As cases of sexual harassment has increasingly grown, no concrete step has been taken in the last four to ensure the freedom and safety college going girls. Even the college committees against sexual harassment remain non-functional. Despite promises of Beti Bachao – Beti Padhao, No concrete step has been taken to ensure women safety and freedom.BJP legislators have stood in defence of rapists and harassers from Chandigarh to Kathua and the most recent, Muzaffarpur mass rape case.

6) Campus Violence: The biggest development in the last four year has been the reign of terror unleashed by ABVP and the protection provided to its hooligans by DU administration and Delhi Police.

AISA DU

DU AISA President Kawalpreet Kaur shared, “More than four years have passed since this government came to power but the situation of the students community has worsened. It has only made empty promises to the youth of this country and has failed to guarantee dignified employment for them. We have planned to reach out to every student of DU and ask them if they are satisfied with the present conditions or not. All the data collected from the students ‘Report Card’ will be made public on 17th August where it will be presented to all concerned authorities.”

A fact-finding team comprised Medha Patkar (leader of the National Alliance of People’s Movements – NAPM), Rajaram Singh, ex-MLA (General Secretary of the All India Kisan Mahasabha –AIKM), Dr Ashok Dhawale (President of the All India Kisan Sabha – AIKS), KK Ragesh, MP (Joint Secretary of the AIKS), all the three MPs from Tripura – Jitendra Chaudhury, Shankar Prasad Datta and Jharna Das Baidya – and ex-MP Narayan Kar visited Tripura from August 3-5, 2018 to study the situation there after the BJP-IPFT government came to power in March 2018.

The team travelled hundreds of kilometers and visited several places in six out of eight districts of Tripura – Tripura South, Tripura West, Dhalai, Gomti, Sepahijala, and Khowai- and met hundreds of people from all walks of life and collected detailed and factual account of the different kinds of attacks that have been made in the last five months. The team found that ever since the BJP-IPFT combine won the last state assembly elections the Fundamental Rights under the Constitution are being violated and trampled upon and the law and order has gone in the hands of hoodlums and miscreants. Murder, dacoity, looting, arson, and atrocities on women, minorities, dalits, adivasis and the poor from all communities are rampant. The administration deliberately does not take any action in spite of hundreds of FIRs having been filed by the victims of these crimes. An atmosphere of fear and terror prevails in large parts of the state. The entire opposition in the state is being savagely attacked, with the Left parties’ activists being the main targets. Incidents of physical attacks, cases of mob lynching, cases of extortions are rampant.

 

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A SILENT EPIDEMIC MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES ‘Video’

NOVANEWS

Image result for WAR CHEMICAL SENSITIVITIES CARTOON

HEAVILY CENSORED NEWS

Ever have a bad reaction to a scent like so-called air freshener or the fragrance from laundry soap or fabric softener?

There’s a good reason for that.

These product contain actual neurotoxins, chemicals that disrupt the normal functioning of the nervous system.

Some people are made very sick by these products. They literally have the same reaction one would have from exposure to toxic gas. Severe headaches, dizziness, inability to think clearly, “speediness”, and a feeling of drunkenness come over them. People with certain kinds of asthma can even have life threatening reactions.

The Center for Disease Control knows about the dangers of these products and bans their use in their agency’s offices.

But what about the rest of the public?

Why aren’t we being told about the grave dangers of these products?

One word: money.

Do you know how much money the makers of these products – companies like Proctor & Gamble, Unilver, and Johnson & Johnson spend on advertising each year?

Literally, these manufacturers keep TV, radio and newspapers companies in business. The mass media will never report their dangers because billions in ad revenue are at stake.

If you or someone who lives with you are irritated by certain products, get them out of your house before they create a chronic condition. Even better, just get rid of them.

If you are exposed to anything at work, at home or socially that gives you a reaction like this, do everything you can to get away from it – or have it removed permanently.

I realize this is easier said than done, but the stakes are high. Small problems can grow into much bigger problems.

You don’t have to be a 9/11 rescue worker, an oil refinery worker or Gulf War vet to develop this disease. Anyone can get it.

More info:

Complete Interview with Christine Oliver MD

Dr. Anne Steinemann.com

The Chemical Sensitivity Foundation 

American Academy of Environmental Medicine

Masked Canaries

Multiple chemical sensitivity: a 1999 consensus

A definition of MCS from Christine Oliver MD

Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston
Associate Physician in the Department of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care Division) at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
President of Occupational Health Initiatives, Inc.

 

 

 

 

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South Korea’s Moon Steers Toward Inter-Korean Unity While Wind from Washington Blows in His Face

NOVANEWS

At the height of U.S. power following Japan’s defeat, Washington itself wrote the rules of the game for the Korean Peninsula — whether others are willing to continue playing along indefinitely remains another question entirely.

Photos showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korea President Moon Jae-in are displayed to demand withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korean Peninsula near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 13, 2018. Ahn Young-joon | AP

Photos showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korea President Moon Jae-in are displayed to demand withdrawal of U.S. troops from Korean Peninsula near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 13, 2018. Ahn Young-joon | AP

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Activists With Diabetes Take on the Global Insulin Crisis

NOVANEWS

Yaa is struggling to keep a reliable Wi-Fi signal from Ghana, but Mohammad logs in on time from Kuwait. Anna had to relocate to a café in Austria to get connected. Johnpeter was hoping to call in, too. But he is in a rural part of Tanzania today, and an internet connection is nowhere to be found. The group Skype call has gotten off to a bumpy start. But no one ever said that building a global human rights movement would be easy.

Finally, Yaa and Mohammad link up with Apoorva from India, Anna from Austria and Karyn from the US. The call’s agenda is all about activism, but as the conversation winds down, the host, Elizabeth Pfiester in the UK, pivots to a personal farewell: “I hope everyone is having a smooth blood sugar day today. Mine has been kind of rocky.” The line is quickly abuzz with good wishes for Pfiester, and a lot of empathy. The heat is playing havoc with Mohammad’s sugars, it turns out. Apoorva’s levels are out of whack due to some exam-related stress; Karyn is recovering from a kidney infection that pushed her sugars high.

They have all been there, and that is the point. Everyone on the call has Type 1 diabetes, and all have committed to serving as volunteer advocates in their communities, with their work coordinated through a group called T1International, founded and directed by Pfiester.

The popular image of a crusading health care advocate is usually embodied by a compassionate physician or a determined researcher. In that scenario, patients are portrayed as the passive — often helpless — beneficiaries of the professionals’ selfless calls for better care. It’s not a good match with the model of a successful social movement, where those most directly affected are on the front lines. That was the structure of the civil rights movement, the anti-apartheid campaign and the labor movement, among many others. So T1International aims to flip the usual health care advocacy script, this time putting patients in the lead roles.

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Why Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act Will Be Good for Shareholders

NOVANEWS

Elizabeth Warren introduced her Accountable Capitalism Act in the Senate on Wednesday and set forth the logic of her bill in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. The Massachusetts senator described how as recently as the early 1980s, even conservative groups acknowledged publicly that corporations were responsible to employees and communities as well as to shareholders. And as we’ve written, and is implicit in the Warren article, there is no such thing as a legal obligation to “maximize shareholder value.” It’s simply an ideology that has become widely accepted, even as some of its most prominent advocates, such as Harvard’s Michael Jensen, have since renounced it. But this practice has become so deeply embedded and so damaging that it will apparently take a change in rules, or at least a credible and live threat to do so, to change behavior in boardrooms and the C-suite.

We documented in the early 2000s that the cost of shareholder-fixated short-termism was that corporations as a whole were net saving, as in not investing, which was a disturbing departure from long-established norms. Corporate priorities have become even more warped in the post-crisis era as companies borrowed to buy back stock.

Warren highlights how “shareholders come first” doesn’t look to have been very positive for anyone save corporate execs who have asymmetrical pay deals. They get paid handsomely even in the face of so-so to lousy performance, and are paid egregiously if results are good.1From her article:

In the four decades after World War II, shareholders on net contributed more than $250 billion to US companies. But since 1985 they have extracted almost $7 trillion. That’s trillions of dollars in profits that might otherwise have been reinvested in the workers who helped produce them.

Before “shareholder value maximization” ideology took hold, wages and productivity grew at roughly the same rate. But since the early 1980s, real wages have stagnated even as productivity has continued to rise. Workers aren’t getting what they’ve earned.

Companies also are setting themselves up to fail. Retained earnings were once the foundation for long-term investments. But from 1990 to 2015, nonfinancial US companies invested trillions less than projected, funneling earnings to shareholders instead. This underinvestment handcuffs US enterprise and bestows an advantage on foreign competitors.

To put it another way, the notion that the US stock market is for raising funds so companies can invest has become a hoary old myth. And even back in the stone ages of my youth when companies actually believe in investing, the most important sources of corporate funding were retained earnings and borrowing. New equity offerings were third.

Nevertheless, Warren’s bill is sure to attract opposition from parties that will contend that interfering with the “shareholders come first” doctrine will hurt both investors and growth.

They are wrong. Efforts to pursue shareholder value fail. Companies will do better not just for other constituencies but also for shareholders by pursuing a broader set of interests. We’ve been writing about this issue since 2007. Our first post on this topic quoted a 2004 Financial Times article by John Kay:

If you want to go in one direction, the best route may involve going in the other. Paradoxical as it sounds, goals are more likely to be achieved when pursued indirectly. So the most profitable companies are not the most profit-oriented, and the happiest people are not those who make happiness their main aim. The name of this idea? Obliquity…

Obliquity is characteristic of systems that are complex, imperfectly understood, and change their nature as we engage with them…Obliquity is equally relevant to our businesses and our bodies, to the management of our lives and our national economies. We do not maximise shareholder value or the length of our lives, our happiness or the gross national product, for the simple but fundamental reason that we do not know how to and never will. No one will ever be buried with the epitaph “He maximised shareholder value”. Not just because it is a less than inspiring objective, but because even with hindsight there is no way of recognising whether the objective has been achieved.

I strongly urge you to read the article in full. Kay goes long-form through how ICI and Boeing went into decline after they made an explicit and sharp change in corporate goals from being ambitious leaders with aspirational goals for their products to “maximizing shareholder value.” When he returned to the theme in later articles at the pink paper, and then in his book Obliquity, he cited a study of paired companies in the same industry, one with broad and lofty aims with ones that cared only about share price, and the latter always showed worse investment performance.

Or as reader Ruben said in 2017:

Congrats, you have highlighted a trade secret held by experts in nonlinear optimization. The saying is: you can’t go there from here. So whenever optimization (such as profit maximization) has to happen over an irregular landscape (often multidimensional, not just 3D as Earth landscapes) the process is multi-step (cannot go in straight-line, 2 steps) and so it happens that often times you take steps that move you in the opposite direction (less profit) of your final destination (maximum profit), but that was a necessary step to avoid a salient non-linearity (an obstacle)….

What you describe as the short term behavior of firms to show the rapidest result to shareholders is equivalent to getting stuck in a local maximum for not being able to look at the whole landscape and find the global maximum.

A further complication of certain system such as markets is that the multidimensional landscape is not fixed, it is dynamic so the global maximum moves at a certain speed because the landscape changes its shape as a result of the actions of its agents and other forces.

So even if Warren’s bill merely winds up pressuring corporate executives and fomenting debate on “what are corporations for and whose interest should they serve?” that would be a very salutary development. Limited liability companies generate externalities (defaults, violations of laws and regulations that they are unduly willing to risk because executives and officers are not personally liable) that forcing them to be accountable to the communities in which they live is long overdue. And contrary to what lobbyists will lead you to believe, forcing them out of their tunnel-vision, local maximum focus will be good for investors too.

_____

1 It is actually far worse than that, since there are massively overpaid CEOs at poorly performing companies, plus most CEOs get to profit from mere “market” appreciation. And we’ve also discussed how comp consultants assure that CEO pay will ever and always keep rising by virtue of virtually ever company setting its pay target at 50% or higher of comparable companies. Companies that find themselves below their target must move their pay up. That moves up the average for that group and thus puts some companies below their benchmarks, leading to yet more pay increases. That assures ever-rising CEO pay, as well as ever-busy comp consultants.

Posted in USAComments Off on Why Elizabeth Warren’s Accountable Capitalism Act Will Be Good for Shareholders

“There’s an Alternative to the Hierarchical, Top-Down Capitalist Corporation”

NOVANEWS

JANINE JACKSON: When we spoke with Richard Wolff earlier this year, I noted that news media don’t even present economics as a contested realm. Richard, it’s as if there’s only the system as we currently have it, so it’s very difficult to think about making changes in that system.

Richard Wolff: No, you know, it’s always struck me as bizarre, even if you are a great lover of capitalism, our system, and you just think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Even if you’re like that, if that’s your point of view, the fact is that places, like, I don’t know, let’s pick one: the People’s Republic of China—for the last 25 years, that economy, which is organized in ways that are different from the one we have here in the United States, that People’s Republic of China has achieved the most rapid economic transformation from poor country to superpower economically, that we have ever seen in the history of the human race. OK…. That alone would mean we ought to be exploring, in our classrooms, in our media: What’s that about? How did they accomplish that? That’s something that most of the world’s people dream of, and so it’s an important matter.

And now you add another couple of other considerations. That it’s the largest country by population on this planet. And it is a superpower, has nuclear weapons and all of that. And you’d say, any rational person would understand: Of course we have to look at that model of how you do economics, how you organize an economic system, to ask the logical, rational question: not necessarily that we must copy them, but are there things about what they do, and how they organize, that we might be able to learn something from?

I like to point out to my students sometimes that the world’s largest debtor country is the United States, and that the largest creditor country of the United States is the People’s Republic of China. If nothing else, that should provide a hint—and I’m trying to be polite here—a hint that we ought to explore.

And your question is exactly right, because in 99 percent of the curricula of the United States in economics, there is nothing of the sort; there is no program, no course, certainly no sequence of courses (which is what you would need to do a proper exploration, over a year or two or three), there’s nothing of the sort. So that when I go and try to explain to people how that economy is different, I’m starting from scratch. They haven’t the faintest idea of what I’m talking about, and worse than that, they don’t know, in that they have no sense in their heads that there’s anything there they ought to have been taught, they ought to have learned, as just being a citizen and making rational decisions.

Another way to put it: We have an economic system in which the enterprises of this country are pretty much organized in the same way. At the top of each enterprise is an owner; the owner can be an individual, can be a family, can be a partnership. But most of the business in America is done by an owner that’s called a “corporation.” It has shareholders, the shareholders elect a board of directors, usually 15–20 people, and they operate the enterprise. There can be a few hundred employees, there can be a few hundred thousand employees, and everything in between. Now that’s a very interesting way of organizing business. Not the way feudal manors were organized, it’s not the way slave plantations were organized; it’s peculiar to capitalism.

But here’s a simple fact which ought to illustrate, in a sense, the question you’ve asked: This is an extremely undemocratic arrangement. What do I mean? Well, the number of people that make all the key decisions in American corporations, and by that I mean deciding what to produce, deciding how, deciding what technology to use, deciding the physical geographic location—will it be produced in Cincinnati or in Shanghai, etc.—and finally, what to do with the profits that the labor of all the people working there have helped to produce? All of those key decisions, that shape the lives of everybody involved in the company, and indeed everybody in the larger community, are made by tiny groups of individuals, the major shareholders, that 1 percent who own three-quarters of the shares, or two-thirds of them, and the boards of directors that they choose. This is a tiny minority sitting at the top of every corporation, looking and acting pretty much like kings and queens once acted when there were monarchies instead of democratic parliamentarian systems.

And we don’t question that, we here in America, with our commitment to democracy. We seem not to be able to ask the obvious question: If we like democracy, as we say we do, if we insist on some sort of accountability of the political leaders who make decisions that impact us, why in the world do we not make the same demand—democratic accountability—of the economic leaders in our society, the people who run these enormous corporations, that are the dominant economic factor in our society? And we don’t.

And the funny thing is that, of course, there is an alternative; just like there was an alternative to monarchy—namely, political democracy—there’s an alternative to the hierarchical, top-down capitalist corporation. And it has a number of names, because it’s very old; the one that’s being used much these days is “worker cooperative,” or “producer cooperative,” and the basic idea is, we would have a different economy if we organized our enterprises in an alternative way.

Namely, instead of hierarchical or vertical, with a tiny, unaccountable leadership at the top, we didn’t do that. We said, there is no leadership. Or to put it differently, if there is a leadership, it has to be elected by the workers in an enterprise; they have to have the right to recall these people. In other words, that the workers in a place have democratic rights in the workplace, that are roughly analogous to the politically democratic rights we have in the communities where we live. If you did that, all the decisions that we have lived with, and that have produced the economic problems with which this conversation began, would be different.

Posted in USAComments Off on “There’s an Alternative to the Hierarchical, Top-Down Capitalist Corporation”

Yemen war: “Your Bombs Are Killing Victims Here”

“Your Bombs Are Killing Victims Here”: US-Made Bomb Hit School Bus in Attack That Killed 40 Yemeni Children

The United States carries direct responsibility for the school bus bombing that killed 40 children in Yemen last week, according to munitions experts who found that the bomb used was sold to Saudi Arabia by the State Department.

View image on Twitter

CNN

@CNN

The bomb used by the Saudi-led coalition in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN https://cnn.it/2PjT6nY 

CNN reported late Friday that experts and Yemeni journalists had found that the bus exploded after being hit by a Lockheed Martin-produced laser-guided MK 82 bomb.

“This American-made bomb killed them, killed the innocent children,” journalist Ahmad Algohbary said this week, even before CNN verified the report. “Most of these victims were children. Your bombs are killing victims here, are killing children.”

Ahmad Algohbary

@AhmadAlgohbary

Right from the attack scene in Dahian town , I got remnants of a guided bomb used in attacking the school bus, with markings on it. has its hands stained with kid’s blood!

The Trump administration reinstated sales of laser-guided missiles to the Saudis soon after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, months after a bombing by the Saudi coalition of a funeral hall killed 155 Yemenis and led to the Obama administration’s suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

A total of 51 people were killed in the attack, and 79 were wounded.

The bombing was denounced by outspoken critics of the United States’ support of the Saudi-led coalition that has led an airstrike campaign in Yemen since 2015, in support of the government’s war against the Houthis. The US has provided fuel and tactical support to the coalition as well as weapons.

The report confirms what many Yemeni civilians already knew, as evidenced by mourners at the victims’ funeral carrying signs that read “America kills Yemeni children,” according to the Middle East Eye.

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BBC News (World)

@BBCWorld

Yemen war: Mass funeral held for children killed in bus attack http://bbc.in/2B3YTLs 

On social media, critics doubled down on their condemnation of the United States’ support for the Saudi coalition in Yemen’s civil war, in which 15,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed and injured.

Rula Jebreal

@rulajebreal

The bomb that killed 40 children, in a horrific attack on a school bus in Yemen, was American made & launched by the Saudis.
The bomb was sold as part of Trump’s arms deal w MBS.

Trump’s MuslimBan includes Yemen, a country the US is bombing into oblivion. https://www.cnn.com/2018/08/17/middleeast/us-saudi-yemen-bus-strike-intl/index.html 

Bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen was supplied by US

The bomb used in a devastating attack on a school bus in Yemen was sold as part of a US State Department-sanctioned arms deal with Saudi Arabia, munitions experts told CNN.

cnn.com

Eliot Higgins

@EliotHiggins

Not only were US made bombs linked to the bombing of a bus full of young children in Yemen, but they’ve been linked to other incidents in Yemen, including the bombing of a wedding earlier this year. https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/04/27/american-made-bomb-used-airstrike-yemen-wedding/ 

American-Made Bomb Used in Airstrike on Yemen Wedding – bellingcat

On April 22, the Saudi-led coalition carried out multiple airstrikes on a wedding in Yemen’s Hajjah Governorate, with reports of at least 33 dead, including the bride. Reportedly, the majority of…

bellingcat.com

Posted in USA, Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Yemen war: “Your Bombs Are Killing Victims Here”

Child Abuse, the Catholic Church and the Justice of Real Consequences

NOVANEWS

I was born Boston Irish Catholic, did First Communion and Confession (but balked at Confirmation, I am pleased to note), went to a Catholic junior high and a Jesuit college, and taught at a Catholic high school. The first and only CCD (think “Sunday School”) teacher I ever had was the now-notorious rapist of children, Father Paul Shanley. Suffice it to say, I know the Church, and can still recite the “Our Father” prayer in Latin. Pater noster, qui est en chaelis, etc. etc. etc.

I abandoned the Church years before the pedophilia scandals erupted into public consciousness, but when the pedophilia scandals exploded two blocks from my house on the doorstep of the cardinal’s residence in Boston, I realized who Shanley was, and how close I had come to danger (I very specifically remember him looking like an animated cadaver as he stood in the light from the window, so I skipped all but the first CCD classes because he creeped me out so much). Behind all the incense and the soaring cathedral walls was an edifice built on hiding the tears of children that were shed because of the actions of trusted priests and the church leadership who protected them.

My relationship with the Church began with fear, then morphed over the years into fearful respect, then respect in disagreement, then disdain, until I finally landed in a cold puddle of perfect horror … and that was all before the Pennsylvania report this week:

A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while he was visiting her in the hospital after she’d had her tonsils removed. Another priest forced a 9-year-old boy into having oral sex, then rinsed out the boy’s mouth with holy water. One boy was forced to say confession to the priest who sexually abused him.

Those children are among the victims of roughly 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania who molested more than 1,000 children — and possibly many more — since the 1940s, according to a sweeping state grand jury report released Tuesday that accused senior church officials, including a clergyman who is now the archbishop of Washington, DC, of systematically covering up complaints.

Top church officials have mostly been protected and many, including some named in the report, have been promoted, the grand jury said, concluding that “it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal.”

One of the more insidious aspects of the Church is the manner in which it has boll-weeviled its way into areas involving the most vulnerable among us (besides children). San Francisco in the mid-1990s wanted to give LGBTQ city workers equal benefits, but the Church said no, and threatened to stop performing hospice work for the city’s AIDS patients if the city went through with the plan. Because the Church performed the vast majority of the city’s AIDS hospice work at the time, the city was forced to back down.

The same goes for Catholic Charities, which is hugely into adoptions. In other words, mess with the Church and you risk blowing up the chance for kids to find a good home. I am just cynical enough today to see all this as deliberate. Make yourself indispensable and no one can touch you … which is why what I am proposing will hurt a lot of good people in the short term.

This entire nightmare is the end result of an existence without genuine consequences. The Catholic church has enjoyed that existence long enough.

My proposal: Padlock every Catholic church in the country. Strip them of any tax-exempt status they enjoy and any tax breaks they may get from state and local governments, shut the whole damned thing down, until this unfathomable crime spree is fully and completely adjudicated.

A criminal organization running an illegal operation of such length and breadth would face RICO charges the likes of which no Mafiosi has ever seen. Instead, we get another Pope making another apology.

“Victims should know that the Pope is on their side,” read the Vatican statement of August 16. “Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent. Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow.”

Not enough. Not anymore.

At the end of the day, religious institutions are mostly subservient to the state on matters of criminal law. Even the priest-penitent veil is not absolute if a judge so decides. If Catholic priests were planning and executing murders in the churches themselves, and the bishops were conspiring to cover it up, those churches would be deemed crimes scenes and shuttered for the collection of evidence.

Priests have been conspiring to harm children under the roofs of churches for generations, and church authorities have been covering it up. The problem is systemic, from Boston to Pittsburgh to California and who knows where else. Until the whole and absolute truth of this is determined in broad daylight, every Catholic church must be considered a possible crime scene and sealed accordingly. The victims deserve nothing less.

In order to properly pursue these investigations, laws regarding the statute of limitations — the window of time in which a crime can be prosecuted — must be altered to reflect the circumstances. In Pennsylvania, the window for legal action can be as short as two years. The abuse report sternly noted that thousands more victims exist beyond those noted. Some died in the intervening years, others refused to come forward, and virtually all of them have no legal recompense because the statute of limitations expired. When the last large abuse scandal was exposed by the Boston Globe, the church lobbied fiercely against lifting or changing those statutes. That must not happen again.

I do not believe the government should commonly be in the business of shutting down religious institutions, nor do I hold some cruel desire to see Catholic parishioners permanently cut off from their houses of worship. These are grimly uncommon times, and I offer this proposal from a place of desperation. Every other strategy for confronting the systemic, institutionally enabled mass abuse of children — from concerted activism from within the Catholic church, to public shaming, to financial penalties — has failed for decades. The dilemma is as simple as it is horrific: Rapists within the church continue to maintain their access to children, and have not been punished for previous crimes. It must be stopped.

I see this as a very small, weak and unjust proposal because it does not in any way measure up to the unfathomable crimes that have been committed. It is, however, a beginning. The shortfalls that will arise in the absence of church services — and they will be legion — can be made up by individuals and organizations that have not spent decades covering up the serial rape and abuse of thousands upon thousands of children.

Because of the priests who have committed these crimes and the church authorities who collaborated to cover it up, Catholic churches in the United States have surrendered their moral right to remain open and in operation until this matter is resolved down to the last abuser, the last victim and the last collaborator. The churches are all potential crime scenes and must be treated as such. Statutes of limitations must be lifted to free the victims from legal constraint. At long last, it is enough.

——————————————-

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Posted in Politics, WorldComments Off on Child Abuse, the Catholic Church and the Justice of Real Consequences

What Do Israelis Think About Americans? Start With Disdain

NOVANEWS

The Jewish Daily Forward

Though Israel is a famously fractious society, Israelis tend to agree on one thing: Their strongest supporters are an inherently dupable people.

“Most Israelis think Americans are pro-Israel and we can sell them anything, especially mud from the Dead Sea,” said David Lifshitz, the lead writer for the Israeli comedy show “Eretz Nehederet,” or “Wonderful Land.”

“Or — just regular mud with a ‘Dead Sea’ sticker on it.”

But it’s not just American tourists whom many Israelis see as guileless. American foreign policy is held up to similar scrutiny here, even as Israel receives billions of dollars in foreign aid from the United States each year.

“Americans are perceived to be naive, especially when it comes to the Middle East,” said Uri Dromi, who served as a spokesman for the Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres governments. “It is a bad neighborhood and it seems like they just don’t realize it.”

The naivete Israelis perceive in Americans is not just something they believe only Israel’s adversaries exploit; Israelis believe they can do so, too — and do. In a secretly recorded video of a 2001 discussion with a group of terror victims in the Ofra settlement in the Israeli occupied West Bank, now-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out this widely held perception.

“I know what America is,” Netanyahu, told the settlers. “America is a thing that can be easily moved, moved in the right direction.”

On political hiatus at the time after an election defeat, the once and future Israeli leader was responding to a skeptical settler who asked how he would respond to the global condemnation that could be anticipated if he were, as he proposed, to launch a “large scale” attack on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza to counter the second intifada.

“They will not bother us,” he said of the Americans. “Let’s suppose the Bush administration will say something. So they say it — so what? Eighty per cent of the Americans support us. It’s absurd! We have such great support there! And we say… what shall we do with this support?”

The paradox that Israelis rely on — and expect — American support and yet don’t trust American judgment on Middle Eastern affairs helps explain the recent U.S.-Israel dustup in Washington. On March 3, that clash reached its climax when Netanyahu appeared before a joint meeting of Congress to warn the assembled lawmakers against their own president’s negotiations, together with other countries, with Iran ahead of a possible deal on that country’s nuclear program.

Israelis were split on the value of Netanyahu’s trip to Washington, which was widely seen as a play to the prime minister’s right-wing base before the March 17 election. But most Israelis were in agreement about their premier’s message. About three-quarters of Israelis “don’t trust Obama to be a reliable ally and to deal effectively with the Iranian nuclear threat” said Eytan Gilboa, a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

That opinion was evident on the Israeli street the day of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, despite all the administration’s measures on behalf of Israel’s security that Netanyahu took pains to laud.

“Obama is very hostile against Israel,” said Effi Hasut, a 50-year-old hairdresser who was smoking on the patio outside his salon in downtown Jerusalem. “He tried to please the Arab world at our expense. He doesn’t understand them.”

Part of the reason Israelis think Americans just don’t get the Middle East, said Alex Mintz, a political psychologist at IDC Herzliya, is that they consider themselves close front-row observers of American foreign policy in the region. And they have watched the Middle East grow more violent and unstable in recent years, he said.

Of course, Israelis themselves have been much more than just spectators in the region, with a massive impact of their own. But according to Mintz, whose new book, “The Polythink Syndrome,” deals with recent U.S. policy in the Middle East, Israelis are skeptical of American intentions — except when it comes to supporting them. “[Israelis] are appreciative of the strong and solid relationship, with the U.S. But they also caution against subsequent moves of the U.S. in the region because they don’t think those are successful or led to good outcomes,” he said.

Yet there’s another reason that Israelis don’t trust Americans, and that has to do with a wider, powerful strain of mistrust in Israeli society.

“Israelis grow up with the expression of ‘never be a freier,’ i.e., a push-over or loser, someone who can be taken for a ride,” Ari Ben Zeev wrote in his 2001 book “The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Israelis.” “This omnipresent need ‘not to be a freier’ can be traced to 2,000 years of being a struggling minority and also to the Middle Eastern neighborhood rule that everything is negotiable.”

Some Israelis think of American tourists and American immigrants in particular as freiers. In a 1998 study of American Jewish immigrants to Israel, by Linda-Renee Bloch, one interviewee said he felt that Israelis saw him as having made the ultimate freier move by moving to Israel in the first place. In their eyes he fell for Israel’s “sales pitch” and traded the relative ease of American life for Israeli instability.

An American might respond with the saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” and observe that this outlook, with deep roots in the American psyche, rebuts the Israeli stereotype of Americans as ever-trusting.

But for many Israelis, the question is, why trust anyone even once?

The fear of being taken advantage of manifests itself in a myriad ways. Israelis have a reputation as hardcore bargainers, and they’re known to cheat on their taxes — both because they can and because they think they’re getting a bad deal from the government as it is.

On the political level, Israelis don’t trust their leaders to say what they mean, and they don’t trust their adversaries, either. “Israelis think Arabs are liars,” said Amnon Cavari, a political scientist with IDC Herzliya. “I don’t think that Arabs are liars, but a lot of Israelis think so. They say, ‘They never mean what they say.’”

This deeply held cynicism flies in the face of American statecraft, Dromi said. “There is something admirable in the American approach to the world. It is a sense of decency, and you expect your partners and your opponents to be fair,” he said. “If they tell you something, they must be telling you the truth; they are going to keep their word.”

Of course, that has not always been the American approach. President Ronald Reagan’s visceral distrust of the Russians led him to adopt the Russians’ own proverb “Trust, but verify” as the cornerstone of his negotiations with the Soviet Union. But with this principle in hand, he did, in fact, reach successful nuclear arms agreements with America’s foremost global adversary in talks with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

And of course, in the case of Iran, America acted covertly with Britain to oust that country’s troubled but democratically elected government and reinstall the Shah of Iran as ruler in 1953.

Still, many Israelis fundamentally disagree with what they take to be the American approach, especially when it comes to the Iranians. “Most Israelis will tell you they are bluffing and all they want to do is gain time, and then they are going to spit in our face,” said Dromi.

The fact that Israelis see their benefactor as overly credulous also breeds resentment in some corners of Israeli society. In recent years, some right-wing Israelis and their supporters have been increasingly vocal about the idea that Israeli self-determination is put at risk when America picks up the defense tab.

“I think, generally, we need to free ourselves from it,” Naftali Bennett, chair of the Jewish Home party, told The Jewish Press in 2013. “We have to do it responsibly since I’m not aware of all aspects of the budget. I don’t want to say, ‘Let’s just give it up,’ but our situation today is very different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago.”

According to Dromi, for most Israelis, there is in the end an understanding of their country’s current reality, for better or for worse: “If you wake an Israeli in the middle of the night and say, ‘Who is your best friend in the whole world?’ they will say the United States of America.”

In his March 3 speech, however, Netanyahu warned that Israel would “stand alone” if it had to. “We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves,” he told the U.S. lawmakers. “This is why, as prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”

In many ways, this image of Israel as the Jewish bunker flies in the face of much of what the original Labor Zionists declared they were trying to achieve in reconstructing Jewish life in a nation-state — not just in terms of security, but also psychologically.

Yitzhak Rabin, perhaps the last classical Labor Zionist leader of Israel, sought to convince both his own people and the broader world that Jews had left behind the ghetto mentality that Labor Zionists felt infected Jewish consciousness in Europe over many centuries. “Israel,” he declared in his first speech to the Knesset on becoming prime minister in 1992, “is no longer a people that dwells alone.”

But back at the hair salon, Hasut was with Bennett.

“If I depend on your support, I should do what you tell me to,” he said. “The Israeli government doesn’t need the support that America gives them. Why do they take the money? Why can’t they just say: ‘We don’t need this money. Don’t tell us what to do. We are already a country for many years. We can be independent.’?”

Will Israel be able to fend for itself in such circumstances?

“Of course,” he said. “So maybe we won’t have F16s.”

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on What Do Israelis Think About Americans? Start With Disdain

French Jew calls in hoax bomb threat to delay his flight

NOVANEWS

An airline passenger made an anonymous hoax bomb threat to delay his flight because he was running late.

Librarian Jacob Meir Abdellak called police just eight minutes before the plane was due to set off from London’s Gatwick Airport to Los Angeles in the US.

Officials were forced to postpone take-off for 90 minutes to carry out a full security screening.

The Frenchman was arrested when he returned eleven days later on 22 May to catch another flight to the US.

Investigators had discovered the phone number used to make the bomb threat was the same one used to make the flight booking with Norwegian Airlines.

He admitted it was his number but claimed he had lost the SIM card a few days before the hoax call was made.

Abdellak, of Amhurst Park, Hackney, was charged with communicating false information regarding a noxious substance likely to create serious risk to human health.

He denied the offence until the day of his trial at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday, when he changed his plea to guilty.

Abdellak was jailed for 10 months and ordered to pay a £140 victim surcharge.

Posted in FranceComments Off on French Jew calls in hoax bomb threat to delay his flight


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